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A broken engagement caused a mental breakdown

A tragic Bluffton story from 1914 involving "The Amstutz Ghost"

Here is the third preview story from the recently-released book "Where Bluffton's Ghosts Sleep," by Fred Steiner. The 196-page book is available for $24.95 (plus tax) worth of stories to keep you awake all night. A listing at the bottom of this story shows the book's table of contents, showing stories in the book.

Copies are on sale a the following fine outlets in Bluffton: • Bluffton Senior Citizens Center • The Black Lab • The Food Store • Greenhorn • Bluffton University book store • From the author at fsteiner@roadrunner.com



The Amstutz Ghost The following local story contains only 97 words, yet, in its brevity carries many emotions, sadness being the strongest.


A brief article in a 2015 Swiss Community Historical Society newsletter mentioned an unusual occurrence taking place at Mennonite Home Communities of Ohio’s Frieda House in Willow Ridge on Augsburger Road.


Malinda Bennett responded to the story this way: In your last newsletter you say there is a ghost in the Frieda House. I think it is Wilhelm Amstutz’s older sister, Pauline. Willow Ridge sits on the former Amstutz farm. In 1914, Pauline’s father died.


This left my great-grandmother, Sarah Amstutz, and my grandmother, Malinda Amstutz, to take care of the farm. Pauline was going with a gentleman who called off their dating and upcoming wedding. This caused Pauline to have a mental breakdown. The family resorted to locking her in the bathroom. She died there. I think this is the ghost you are looking for.

Additional background: Several factors in addition to the called-off wedding may help explain Pauline’s breakdown.


Pauline was the oldest of five children born to John and Sarah Amstutz. John’s parents purchased the farm in 1837, starting with a log cabin as their house.

Pauline’s younger brother, Wilhelm, graduated from Bluffton High School in 1902. Her sister, Malinda, graduated in 1906. There is no record showing that Pauline graduated from high school, which was not unusual in this era.


Pauline’s father died 74 days prior to her own death. The death of her father forced Pauline, sister Malinda, and their mother to operate the farm, which certainly became a hardship.


Pauline’s death certificate states she was in a coma for three days and the cause of death was “mental alteration.” Her younger sister, Malinda, 27, was married in 1915.


Was Malinda also planning her wedding when Pauline’s wedding was called off? It’s another factor to consider.


This leaves the question, if the ghost of Frieda House is Pauline Amstutz, what circumstances created her reappearance so close to 100 years after her death?




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