Although the Legend of Gore Orphanage isn't true, there is a lot of interesting history there that led to the creation of the legend. And some of it is a little spooky after all.
The story really begins with the arrival in the area of a man named Joseph Swift. He was a veteran of the War of 1812, and was rewarded with 150 acres of land for his service in the War. All he had to do is come out to Ohio from New England and claim it.
So that's what he did. According to an interview with one of his descendants, he actually walked the whole way. He settled in the valley east of the Vermilion River and built a log cabin. The valley became known as Swift's Hollow.
Swift worked on clearing his land and eventually farmed it, becoming quite prosperous. The map above (which I pasted together from two 1800's township maps from the Lorain Public Library) shows how big his farm was. (If you ever drive down to the area today you can appreciate how huge an area it is for one man to farm.)
Due to his success, Swift was able to acquire several hundred acres of land. And with this success, he decided to build a more elegant house for his wife and family.
Next: The (In)famous Swift House