Note: Although most modern accounts of the murder spell the victim’s name Louisa, I am using the spelling Louiza, the spelling as it appears on her tombstone and in most of the histories of the region.
“Do you purposely find the roughest roads for us to travel on when you plan out our journeys?” Zech asked as we entered into the Egypt Valley Natural Area of southeastern Ohio. “Honestly if you hit one of these potholes we’re never going to get back out of it.”
He did have a point – this was the first time I had ever seen potholes with potholes in them – with it being a natural area, my guess is the state doesn’t take care of the road very often. The roughness of the road was not stopping me from getting to my destination. After what seemed like an eternity of zigging and zagging to avoid the craters in the road, we finally arrived at the top of a lonely hill. I was immediately taken in by the beauty of the area – for the first time since our journey across Ohio began, there was no noise except for the whisper of the wind through the tall grass.
The Egypt Valley Natural Area has always fascinated me and I knew passing through the area I had to stop and explore the area. The volumes of folklore that has come out of the region has always fascinated me. There are a number of interesting stories that have come out of the area. Near the spot I presently stood at, people have reported seeing a phantom house, complete with red glowing candles in the windows – maybe it only is seen at night because no house appeared as we stood there. Another cemetery in the region – not the one Zech and I would be visiting on this trip – is haunted by a ghostly arm that has been spotted crawling around the grounds of the old cemetery. Of course this same cemetery is supposedly guarded by a violent pack of hell hounds.
The most famous specter that roams the valley is a young, thirteen year old girl. The origin of this legend comes from true events that happened in 1869.
We made our way up the small incline to the small memorial that stood along the edge of the road. Somebody had been keeping the grass around it neatly cut, for which I was extremely grateful – had the memorial been in the tall grass we would have never found it.
The simple plaque is flush with the ground on top of a small slab of concrete. Decorated by previous visitors, at least we weren’t the only ones who dared to travel this remote spot. The plaque placed by a private company states: “On This Spot / Louiza Catharine Fox Aged / 13 Yrs. 11 Mo. 13 Da. Was Murdered / By Thomas Carr Jan. 21, 1869. / Carr First Murderer Hanged In County”
Finding information about Louiza was nearly an impossible task. Louiza was the daughter of John and Mary Fox and she was described as being beautiful and graceful. She lived with her family on a farm roughly two miles east of Sewellsville and was employed doing housework for the Hunter Family. Louiza had at least two siblings. She had a younger brother, William, who witnessed the murder. Louiza also had an older sister, who was married to a man whose name was Wallace. Sadly that is all I could find about the young Louiza Fox.
Thomas Carr was born in 1846 in Sugar Hill, West Virginia, a small community near Wheeling. It is known that he served with the Sixteenth Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Although he was only fifteen at the time he enlisted, he lied claiming he was nineteen. Though he served, he saw very little action; he was captured at Cheat Run, West Virginia and was sent to a prisoner of war camp. After the war, Carr was released and he next appears in Belmont County, Ohio, where he found work in a coal mine owned by the Hunter Family. While working for the Hunter Family, he met Louiza, who was employed as a servant for the family.
Thomas became infatuated with Louiza and soon proposed to her. Louiza’s parents, her brother-in-law, and the Hunter family objected and soon it was called off due to the age difference and Carr’s violent temper. Some sources claim that he was fascinated with her beauty but she turned him away without the prompting of her friends and family.
Whichever version is correct would no longer matter when, on January 21, 1869, Miss Fox would fall victim to Carr’s violent temper. Louiza and her brother were returning home when Carr approached them. Carr sent Willie on home so he could talk to Louiza in private. Carr kissed Louiza before he pulled a razor and slashed her across the throat. In his rage he continued to stab her fourteen times. From a distance Willie turned to see Carr attacking his sister; he ran home to tell his parents.
The next day a posse lead by John Fox discovered Carr hiding in a coal bunker. Carr had attempted to take his own life by slashing his own throat and when that failed he shot himself. Both attempts at suicide had failed. The posse grabbed him and he was jailed to await judgment.
Carr’s trial was in June of 1869 and lasted five days: he was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged for Louiza’s murder. His execution date was originally set for August 20, 1869 but due to a writ of error, his execution would be delayed until March 24, 1870.
While waiting for his sentence to be carried out, Carr made a strange confession: supposedly he had killed fourteen others and attempted to kill five more. This confession seems to be an attempt at gaining even more attention – I was not able to find any sources that backed his claims. On March 24, 1870 the first – and last – legal execution would happen in Belmont County, Ohio. Carr’s execution took place in front of the courthouse in St. Clairsville and according to early reports his body was buried in an unmarked grave in the Methodist Cemetery, which may be part of the present-day Union Cemetery in St. Clairsville.
Zech and I left the murder location and drove the short distance to the Salem Cemetery, roughly a mile away. As we approached, Zech called out that he could see Louiza’s stone in the corner of the cemetery. I parked and we entered the fenced off cemetery at the top of the hill and made our way down the hillside to where Louiza rested beneath a stone that has wording very similar to the plaque at her murder site.
Although justice was served and her murderer executed, people began seeing Louiza’s restless spirit sobbing at both her grave and at her murder site. Soon after Carr’s execution he supposedly joined Louiza in haunting the murder location.
We finished paying our respects to Miss Fox before leaving the cemetery and winding our way out of the Egypt Valley Natural Area.
I do ask if you visit the area, please do so with respect.