Shoeless Swin

The Legend Shoeless Swin
From the heart of Midwestern America in Bowling Green, Ohio comes the legend of a sole searching ghost who wants you to give him your shoes.  
click for Roywood my Baby Needs Shoes MP3

The GHOST STORY: Over fifty years ago, a man was unjustly beaten to death in the jail of the old Wood County courthouse, all because he could not afford to provide his children with shoes. As legend tells it, the ghost of “Shoeless Swin” wanders the old courthouse area in downtown Bowling Green, Ohio in search of shoes for his children. The legend says that if you go outside of the courthouse late at night, where "Shoeless Swin" was beaten inside the confines of the jail in 1936, you might be able to coax him to make his presence known. In order to do this, you need to put a pair of shoes out for Swin and wait for him to come and try and take the offering. This has been said to usually involve the shoes becoming animated in some form, perhaps moving or levitating. Little baby shoes or children's shoes have been known to float away into the night, as if being picked up by the ghost of "Shoeless Swin." Adult shoes might move as if being stepped into and tested for a good fit. Some people have also claimed to see shoelaces being strung up as if by invisible hands. It is believed that if the shoes fit the ghost and he takes a liking to them that any witnesses will actually see the shoes walk away! It’s been said that simply leaving shoes as a gift on the court house premises for “Shoeless Swin” will bless one with good fortune, a once popular but now largely forgotten tactic used by many Bowling Green State University students during midterm and finals week. One very important thing to remember however is that if "Shoeless Swin" actually makes his presence known in some way and takes a liking to the shoes, you best let him have them. As legend tells it, anyone who tries to take back shoes that Swin has chosen runs the risk of falling under a spell of some very bad luck. This is cited in the case of a young man in 1960’s who went out to the courthouse with some friends to offer their shoes to "Shoeless Swin." Apparently, Swin took a liking to the young man's shoes and witnesses claim that the shoes attempted to lace up and move a few feet ahead. When the shoes stopped and didn't move for a while, the daring young man snatched his shoes back, not believing in the legend and unprepared to lose his shoes on a dare. Later that night he ran a red light and was picked up by the local police for drunken driving. He spent the night in a local jailhouse. It turned out to be in the same location as the jail cell "Shoeless Swin" spent one of his last waking nights. The next morning the young man was white with fright and though he has rarely spoken a word about what happened, it is rumored that he had a run in... with "Shoeless Swin.” Swin’s phantom did nothing to him per se, but he claims to have witnessed a ghostly replay of the horrifying night Swin was beaten in the jail cell and came out with a newfound respect for the legend.

The FACTS: In April of 1936, Henry “Hank” Swin was thrown in jail for failing to send his children to school because he could not afford to buy them proper shoes with which to wear. Swin, a military serviceman of World War One argued that the government would not provide the veteran and his family with the necessary financial relief and that his wages as a WPA worker were, at forty dollars a month, insufficient and unfair in comparison to other WPA workers (see Swin letter to press.) He was subsequently thrown in jail with a $100 bond. He was sentenced to serve 10 days in jail but after spending only two days he was inexplicably discharged and sent home. There, he showed his wife several severe bruises, which he said had been inflicted by other prisoners in a “kangaroo court” in the Wood County jail. He told her not to tell anyone about the beatings because they had made threats of further harm if he disclosed the attack. The following day, prisoners involved in the incident were also released from jail, authorities citing overcrowding. One week later, an unconscious Swin was admitted to Community Hospital in Sandusky County from a stroke of paralysis, which relatives charged grew out of the beatings that were administered while he was in the Wood County jailhouse. Attending physicians found Swin to be riddled with bruises covering his back, hips and arms. The following week, on May 13, 1936, Henry Swin died. Controversy swirled about the case, not only amongst accusations of Swin’s beating, but in the way officials handled of the certificate of death and a request by the family for a fair and unbiased post mortem. Immediately after his death, hospital officials were confronted by “maze of technical difficulties” in completing the death certificate and the press was told that the cause of death was pneumonia, which clearly developed after his admission to the hospital. The official certificate of death lists the principal cause of death to be “cerebral hemorrhage.” The original Sandusky County coroner on Swin’s case mysteriously announced he had “no jurisdiction” after conferring with the Wood County prosecutor. Later, both completely denied requests for an autopsy. No official coroner ever signed Henry Swin’s death certificate and officials from both Wood and Sandusky County denied legitimate autopsies. He was promptly buried in Napoleon cemetery, murder victim of a brutal vigilante beating in the confines of the Wood County jail.

certificate of death - click for full size
(above) Certificate of Death - click image for full-size

Swin old newspaper clipping