February 4, 2012


Recently, I attended a program about towns that once were in Defiance County but now no longer exist - ghost towns.  I began to think about those in Henry County and really, I could only think of a couple. 
One was Ratsville- love the name, don't you?  So appealing.  I remember it from my childhood because once in awhile my family would go there to the one (and only) store to pick up something we needed.  It could have been that a house was across from the store, but that's about it for the town of Ratsville.

Shunk was once a ghost town, but really all I know of it now is the cemetery there.  Once called Shunk Cemetery, it is now known as Hoy Cemetery and many of the Delphs, Ordways and related families are buried there.  Shunk is located in Harrison Township on Turkeyfoot Creek at the corner of State Route 109 and Road N-2.

Quite a few years ago, a group at Northwest State Community College did a research project on ghost towns in the area, led by Mr. Helwig.  Eventually, they produced a series of books, telling the historical background of each town...very interesting, no longer for sale, but probably can be found in local libraries.

Here's what was said about Shunk (p.59-60):
"The exact origin of Shunk is shrouded in mystery; however, it has been said that an Indian village was located near the site,a nd thus the legend of the Indian Ghost of Shunk.  In the late 1830's, the Indians of Northwestern Ohio were asked to leave their ancestral homes in the Maumee Valley and move to reservations in Kansas. 

The Indians knew that the journey west would be hard and long, and that they would be able to take with them only a few personal belongings and/or tribal treasures.  Because of the treacherousness of the trip, many valuable items were left behind with white settlers who had befriended the Indians...

As legend has it, the Indians near Shunk decided to bury their treasures and perhaps, someday, they could return...to reclaim their tribal riches.  It has also been said that this buried treasure at Shunk, in fact, contained gold sheets used to make coins for paying General Wayne's soldiers.  This gold was probably, if it did indeed exist, enroute to Fort Defiance and was stolen from an army courier by the Indians.

The legend says that these Indians left the ghost of a dead warrior to guard their buried treasure at Shunk.  This ghost warrior was said to be dressed in full armor and sitting on a horse.  In the years that followed the Indians departure to the West, numerous treasure hunters have tried to find the buried riches at Shunk, but none have succeeded.
At least two of these treasure seekers, a young boy and a stranger, have looked up from their diggings and seen the "Ghost of Shunk" astride a horse, armed with weaponry and riding down on them."

Well, the truth is that no treasure has ever been discovered at Shunk!

Shunk was named after John Shunk who ran a trading post there and a post office in the late 1830's.  No one knows too much about him.  In 1840, David Hoy bought a large tract of land in the Black Swamp and on a high spot, built the first residence in Shunk.

On January 4, 1849, Shunk opened its first official post office under Alonzo Packard, postmaster, and it ran until March 1857.  But by May 1857, another post office opened with William Match as postmaster.  This office was in existence for seven years until closing its doors in 1864.  In 1870, A. S. Stuckey built a water powered sawmill on the banks of the Turkeyfoot and it ran until 1914 or 1915.

Sometime in the late 1800's, the residents of Shunk discovered that their clay soil would be ideal for making tile, so two tile mills were soon erected in Shunk - one operated by the Bliss family and the other by the Fishers.  Tile produced here was used to drain the Black Swamp.

It was noted that the town limit signs of Shunk were only .2 miles apart!

Henry County, Ohio, Vol. 2.  The Henry County Historical Society, Taylor Publishing Company, Dallas TX, 1976.  Shunk was researched by Joanne Westhoven and James Nartker.


  1. I am related to the Bliss family of Shunk, do you live in or near Shunk? I have been looking for relatives for many years and just recently found that some of them were living in and buried in Shunk in Hoy Cemetery.

    Is there any way that you can tell me if any Bliss' are still in the area?

    My great-great-grandfathers brother, John N Bliss and his wife Catherine Carter Bliss settled and are buried in Shunk and some of their children are also in Hoy Cemetery, some in Hockman Cemetery. I can not go any futher in finding any living relatives.

    Thanks for any assistance that you might be able to provide, it will be greatly appreciated.

    James Greenfield

  2. No, I don't really live near Shunk, but would suggest that perhaps someone from the Henry County Genealogical Society or Historical Society could offer some help for you. Perhaps another blog reader could help?