Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mercer County Airport

Source: Mercer Co. Airport Website

Mercer County Airport is a small public airport located outside of Bluefield, WV. Construction began on the airport in 1951, and was completed by May 15, 1954, when a dedication ceremony was held to commemorate the opening of the new airport.

In the early 2000s, the crew of an aero-medical group opened up base operations at the airport, which left members of their crew the only living persons to man the airport late into the night and into early morning.  Shortly thereafter, rumors began to circulate and stories were reported that the airport may or may not be haunted.  According to Mark Stokes, who reported the activity to the WVGhosts site in 2006, employees would feel the sense of being watched during the night, although they were the only ones on site.  Cold chills and shivers were commonplace, as were weird banging sounds that echoed through the early morning hours.

Pieces of the wreck. Photo from the NTSB Report
Many who have experienced the phenomena attribute the activity to a plane crash that killed all on board.  At 8:44am, on January 21, 1981, a Cessna 500 Citation carrying two crew members and three passengers crashed, killing all five people.  The plane was owned by the Georgia-Pacific Company, and was taking three employees from the company's southern offices in Augusta, Georgia to Maryland for short business trip. The stopover in Bluefield, WV at the Mercer County Airport was so that they could drop off a public relations employee. According to newspaper articles at the time of the crash, Georgia-Pacific had an office in Bluefield to manage its extensive timber holdings in the Mountain State.

As the pilot attempted to make a landing on Runway 23, weather conditions resulted in the plane overrunning the runway as it slid on slushy, wet snow, striking 3 localizer antennae and a 10ft embankment, before going down over a wooded hill and bursting into flames. It is said that the hill was so steep that rescue personnel had to be lowered down using ropes. Unfortunately, it was too late to save anyone.

Killed in the grisly accident were pilots Bobby Martin and Larry Rodeffer; John P. Maddocks, in charge of public relations for the southern division; and two engineers, Emmit Swearingen and Robert Benner.

Ghost Sightings as told by Mark Stokes to WVGhosts
Full Accident Report from the NTSB
Palm Beach Post (January 22, 1981)
Cumberland News (January 28, 1981)
Airport Website

*Updated on 26 January 2018*

Oregon's SpeakEasy Restaurant

In 1886, J.S. Cooper built a small saloon on Main Street in Independence, OR.  Three years later, the building was replaced by a three story brick structure, known today as the J.S. Cooper Block Building.

Over the years, the building was used to house Cooper's saloon, a doctor's office, a dentist's office, possibly a brothel, and a gambling establishment known as the HiHo.  Today, it houses the SpeakEasy, a steakhouse and tavern.

There are at least two confirmed deaths at the establishment, including that of a young dentist with a drinking problem who stabbed himself to death, and that of an elderly gambler.  The elderly gambler resided in an upstairs apartment, and passed away one evening downstairs at the card table.

These two deaths have led to two stories of the no less than four  alleged ghosts in the building.  The dentist is described as a kind, young man, while the gambler is described as a mean-spirited, frustrated entity.  The gambler is believed to be the strongest and most outspoken of the four, choosing to stay on the third floor, the location of his apartment.

In addition to these men, there are also reports of a little girl who lingers near a child-sized mannequin.  And, even though the death has not be confirmed, several different psychics  have been in contact with the spirit of a young woman near the stairs.  The woman is said to have been murdered--first choked, and then thrown down the stairs.  Her name is possibly Lila.

While all floors periodically experience their fair share of activity, one of the more shocking instances occurred on the second floor during the building's renovation.  A mannequin was thrown into a window, smashing it, and sending shards of glass raining down to the street below.  The one door to the upper floors was locked at the time, and no one was on the floor.

The Kanawha Madonna

On Sunday (May 29th, 2011), I had a rare opportunity...a Sunday off and a three-day weekend!  We took advantage of the extra day off to do something that I had been putting off for quite awhile.  I fondly remember yearly school trips to the State Museum and Cultural Center, but hadn't been for a visit since they did a huge remodel the museum.  It was a perfect day to bring my own son, Luke, to the museum, and spend some quality time with him and Aaron.  We even caught a little bit of the 2011 Vandalia Festival that was wrapping up that day.

Luke was surprisingly well behaved  and interested in the displays.  He exhibited a particular fondness for the stoneware jugs of various time periods, and the trip through a "coal mine."  His little finger was pointing at everything, and he was jabbering on about a mile a minute at everything he could see.  Mommy and Aaron were impressed, too...but Mommy was particularly interested in the history behind the Kanawha Madonna.

The Kanawha Madonna is a nearly four foot tall carved wooden statue of a figure holding some type of 4-legged animal.  Carved from a honey locust tree, this odd piece was first discovered in 1897 by four teenage boys.  The statue was under a large flat stone, tucked safely away in a small cave on a cliff  near Chelyan.

Dr. John P. Hale, president of the WV Historical and Antiquarian Society, obtained the statue.  After visiting the cave, Dr. Hale presented a paper to the society concerning the statue.  It wasn't until 1964 that the first radiocarbon dating was performed on the piece.  The results showed the piece to be about 350 years old.  More modern testing put a time frame on the wood itself to be from about 1440 to 1600 A.D., but note that it could have been carved at any time after this date.

The exact date this figure was created is still a mystery, as is its intended purpose.  The statue sits on an 8inch base, that includes a hole that was believed to be where the statue would be mounted to a pole.  Also a mystery is the name "Kanawha Madonna."  No one knows where the name originated, and no one is claiming ownership of it.  Today, the statue is prominently displayed in the WV State Museum in Charleston, WV.

More information

Linda Vista Hospital

The Linda Vista Community Hospital, located in the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles, originally opened as the Santa Fe Coastlines Hospital.  Built in 1904 at a cost of $147,000 and opening in 1905, the hospital was used as the main medical facility in the area for employees of the Santa Fe Railroad.

The hospital was designed to be a happy, pleasant place where employees received the best care available.  Mexican workers were segregated, but received the same care as white workers, and outdoor tents for TB patients were heated, furnished, and lighted.  The hospital, under the direction of Dr. N.H. Morrison, also raised its own cows, chickens, and vegetable gardens, so that patients were provided with the freshest milk, eggs, and produce possible.

In 1914, the hospital added a wing for a sum of $22,000, which included a basement laundry room, patient rec room on the first floor, and dorms on the second floor.  Between 1924 and 1925, the hospital once again saw a huge addition and renovation.

By 1937, ownership had left the railroad company, and the hospital was now open to the public under the name Linda Vista Community Hospital.  Shortly after this change, the hospital took a turn for the worse.  The neighborhood began rapidly declining.  By the late 1970s, early 1980s, gangs had taken over this section of East L.A., flooding the hospital with violence and victims of gunshots.  More and more patients were being admitted that did not have insurance.

The hospital continued to lose funding, and patient care was deteriorating at a steady decline.  Good doctors were leaving and going to hospitals with better pay and safety, and by 1988, the hospital began refusing ambulance service.  Ugly, and largely untrue, rumors that staff were abusing and mistreating patients started circulating.

Linda Vista ceased operation as a medical facility for good in 1990-91, and many believed it was because of the high death rate and/or mistreatment of patients which led to the closure.  The hospital was abandoned and fell into disrepair.

However, Hollywood quickly breathed new life into the aging structure.  The hospital became a prime filming location.  Movies such as Pearl Harbor, Boo, Room 6, and End of Days all used the site, and the ER pilot episode was filmed in the basement.

With its usage as a filming location, stories of the hospital's alleged hauntings grew in popularity.  Film crews and overnight security personnel all reported a myriad of strange events.  Screams, cries, moans, and humming were heard.  Darting shadows and flickering lights were observed, even from outside the building.  An eerie, faint green light has been seen, an unidentifiable foul odor is smelled on the third floor, people have been touched or pushed by unseen hands, the elevators tend to malfunction, and warm AND cold spots are felt, especially near the entrance lobby.

There are also actual apparition sightings. A doctor wearing a tie is seen looking out a corner window on the top floor.  A young woman has been observed pacing the third floor hallways, and an orderly is seen throughout, making his rounds.  Some people have even seen the image of a former mental patient in what is described as the "cage room."  However, the most famous ghost is said to be the spirit of a young girl, who possibly was struck by a car.  She is heard giggling, and is often seen out front by the hospital's sign, or in the surgical room.

Because of these sightings, a host of paranormal shows have visited, or are planning visits, including one group that has a photo of a lady in a hospital gown looking out of a window.  Still, there are a large number of nearby residents and former hospital employees that maintain that the structure is NOT haunted.  Since 2006, the site has been on the National Register of Historical Places.  The inside is not currently open to the public.

Update May 2012:  There are plans to begin turning the historic hospital into a senior living facility next month.  Read about the plans HERE!

Alaska's Anchorage Hotel

The original Anchorage Hotel was built in 1916 at the corner of 3rd Avenue and E Street.  In 1936, the growing population of Anchorage called for an expansion of the hotel, and an annex was built across the alley.  A sky bridge connected the two structures.

For years, the Anchorage Hotel was a center of opulence and social activity.  Many notable figures dined and lodged at the hotel, which at one time, was the only place in Anchorage where one could dine on fine china and with linen table clothes and napkins. 

As time went on, the original building was sold, and eventually torn down, and the Annex was allowed to fall into a state of neglect.  In 1989, new owners took over, and by 1994 had completely restored the aging hotel.  It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and has returned to its original state of grandeur.

By most standards, the hotel is fairly small, with only three floors...but those three floors are packed with ghost stories!  There are so many ghost stories associated with the hotel that the staff now keep a log book of visitor ghost sightings.

The second floor seems to be the most active area of the hotel.  It isn't uncommon for curtains to rumble, and shower curtains to sway back and forth.  Televisions turn themselves off and on, as do the bathroom faucets.  Rooms 215 and 217 are allegedly the most active rooms on the second floor, with many guests reporting activity from these areas.

Lately, there have been reports of the sound of children running up and down the halls at night.  Guests will call down to the lobby to complain, only to be told there are no children registered in the hotel for the night.  Another newer occurrence seems to concentrate on the stairwell area.  Staff will often hear footsteps going up and down the staircase at night, and several have even witnessed the apparition of a man coming down, only to vanish.

Of the many ghost sightings and miscellaneous paranormal activity, the hotel seems to have two distinguished and well known ghosts.  The first is that of a jilted lover from the 1920s.  A woman preparing to be wed was staying at the hotel when her fiance struck it rich in the gold mining industry.  The newly made millionaire stood the woman up on her wedding day.  In her grief, she hanged herself in her wedding dress in a room on the second floor.  She is now seen wandering throughout the hotel halls in her wedding dress, but most frequently on the second floor.

The second most recognized ghost is that of John J. Sturgus.  Sturgus was the first sheriff of Anchorage.  On Sunday, February 20, 1921, the sheriff was shot in the chest by an unknown assailant and was found in the rear stairwell of a local drugstore, located off the alley between the hotel, and where the new annex would one day be built.  He was 60 years old, and died on route to the hospital.  He was buried four days later in the Anchorage Cemetery.  The crime was never solved, and its said that the ghost of Sheriff Sturgus is a frequent visitor to the hotel.


Dangerfield Newby at Hog Alley

Dangerfield Newby
From Ghosts of Harpers Ferry by Stephen D. Brown

Hog Alley didn't get its name in a very pretty way.

During the John Brown raid, the first raider killed was a black man by the name of Dangerfield Newby. Dangerfield had been freed by his white father, but he had a wife and seven children held in slavery in Warrenton, Virginia. His wife's master had told him that for the sum of $1,500 he could buy his wife and his youngest baby, who had just started to crawl. Dangerfield earned that amount of money and went back to Warrenton to purchase his wife and baby, only to have his wife's master raise the price. The free black man then joined John Brown in the hope of freeing not only his wife and youngest baby, but his entire family.

There were a lot of guns in Harpers Ferry, since they were made in the town and stored in the 22 building armory complex near the train tracks. There was little ammunition for the guns, however, and townspeople would fire anything they could find for their guns. One man was shooting 6 inch spikes from his powder loaded gun.

When John Brown raided the town in October of 1859, it was one of those spikes that hit the throat of Dangerfield Newby. He was killed instantly.

The people of Harpers Ferry, frustrated and angered by John Brown and his raiders, took the body of Dangerfield Newby and stabbed it repeatedly with their rusty knives. They left the mutilated body in the alley to be eaten by the hungry hogs.

Some night, if you are walking down Hog Alley and see a man dressed in baggy trousers and an old slouched hat with a terrible scar across his throat, you will know you have met Dangerfield Newby. He is still roaming our streets, trying to free his family.

Hog Alley, 1940s. Source
Back in high school, my friend's family invited me on a weekend trip up to Harpers Ferry with them. While we were there, we were lucky enough to catch one of the last ghost tours the famed Shirley Doughtery ever gave. After the tour, my friend and I took a walk (by ourselves) around the darkened streets of the historic town. 

After a bit we came to Hog Alley. Even before the tour, she and I were well-versed with Dangerfield Newby's ghost. And, I'm ashamed to admit it...but we were a little...apprehensive. As we stood at the top of the street, staring down Hog Alley, we kept daring each other to walk it alone. I couldn't do it, lol. Every time I began to step foot into the alley, my mind would go straight to this WV PBS special on the ghosts of Harpers Ferry. I have desperately searched for a copy of my own (my friend had an old VHS her family had taped off the television years before) but have been unsuccessful. Anyway, this video featured a teen boy who goes on vacation to Harpers Ferry with his family. He scoffs at the idea of a ghost tour, but then later on finds out there may be some truth to the legends. The man who played Dangerfield Newby did a great job of eerily scuffling along, neck wound gaping. That's the image I had in mind as I stood there.

All of a sudden, my friend asked, "uh, what is THAT?!" Down the alley we could see what appeared to be a large, inky-black shape...and it was MOVING! Was it coming towards us? We didn't stick around to find out. Her parents were waiting for us about a block or so over, so we ran over to them, freaking out about how we had seen Dangerfield Newby walking up Hog Alley. Once we had sufficiently calmed back down, they walked us BACK over. Feeling a little braver with her family along, we all took the stroll down the haunted alley...and soon came upon our 'ghost.' 

What had appeared to us as a dark, bulking human shape was actually a large trash can. The black trash bag was flapping in the breeze, which had caused the movement that scared us so badly. In some ways I was disappointed that we didn't see a ghost that night. However, deep down, I really was quite relieved!  

Florida's DEAD ZONE

The Dead Zone is a small, quarter of a mile tract of Interstate 4 found in Seminole County--just north of Orlando and at the south end of the St. John's River bridge.

In the mid to late 1800s, the area was known as St. Joseph's Colony, a small Roman Catholic sponsored settlement.  The settlement never did thrive due to the high rate of disease and natural disaster...and when four family members (two adults and two children) succumbed to yellow fever in 1885, there wasn't even a priest to deliver the last rites.

The family was buried, and the settlement turned over to agricultural land.  The owners of the parcel of land holding the graves of the small family worked around the burial site, never disturbing the graves.  Locals dubbed this area the Field of the Dead, although no paranormal activity was ever reported.

In 1960, the state of Florida took possession of this property to extend the interstate.  The graves were noted, but were considered historically insignificant...and the highway's eastbound lanes built directly atop.  During construction, Hurricane Donna roared through the area, temporarily setting back construction...and was seen by many as a first warning sign of what was to come.

Today, this small section of highway is plagued with a host of paranormal problems.  When most people think of a "Dead Zone," it generally means an area where cell phones do not work.  In THIS Dead Zone, cell phones are still operable, but are subject to strange, staticy interference and even messages from what many believe are voices of the dead.  Radios also tend to act up, and strange fog and light anomalies are witnessed.  There also seem to be a higher number of phantom hitchhikers and phantom vehicles, mainly trucks.

Even more disturbing is the high rate of accidents this 1/4 of a mile stretch of highway sees.  According to one source, over 2,000 accidents have been reported between 1963 and 2006-just in that quarter of a mile stretch!

The above info is from Suburban Legends by Sam Stall

The REAL Rose Red House-Thornewood Castle

Thornewood Castle is located in Lakewood, Washington, and was actually the site used in Stephen King's Rose Red movie. While Rose Red is a work of fiction based very loosely on the Winchester Mansion, the real Thornewood Castle is still considered to be haunted. The house itself is largely a private residence, but part of it is rented out as a B&B, with various special events hosted.

Thornewood Castle has a unique history.  Often referred to as the House Love Built, the home was constructed over a period of three years (1908-1911) by Chester Thorne for his bride, Anna.  Chester, who was a founder of the Port of Tacoma, was largely influenced by the old English Estates, and set out not only to make this Anna's dream home, but his own as well.

Chester purchased a 15th century English castle/manor home, and had it largely dismantled.  Three ships were commissioned to bring the dismantled materials to Washington State for use in the construction, which was being overseen by famed architect, Kirtland Kelsey Cutter.  The 54 room home features such antiques such as stained glass, woodwork, and an art collection, all of which came from the dismantled English castle, but also featured gorgeous red brick imported from Wales.  The home was built to last for centuries.

While there are many reports of ghost sightings, its important to note that this property is still largely a private residence, and investigations are granted on a very selective basis.  "Gawkers" are discouraged, but guests staying at the bed and breakfast are encouraged to tell their own tales, all of which are quite positive.

The most famous sightings include seeing Mr. Chester Thornton, who died in 1927.  he is seen throughout the home and the grounds, but not as often as his bride, Anna.  Anna is most often seen seated in her former bedroom, perched upon her window seat.  She is seen gazing out her window at her beautiful gardens, but more romantically, she is often spotted by brides to be.  Anna's Suite is a popular room for bridal parties to use as a dressing room before weddings.  Brides will many times report gazing into Anna's 100 year old mirror as they put on their gowns, only to a woman's reflection behind them, sitting on the window seat.


Keep up to date on this blog's newest entries, plus paranormal news, musings, and much, much more, at Theresa's Haunted History FaceBook!

The Gist House, Wellsburg

The W.C. Gist House is an early 1800s farmhouse located on property now owned by Brooke County, and is incorporated into the Brooke Hills Park.  Built prior to 1822, most likely by the Hinkson Family of Brooke County, the home's most notable former resident is William Colver Gist.

Gist, born in 1883 to Samuel Gist and Anna Applegate Gist, served as the Agricultural Agent of Brooke County for over 30 years.  He tirelessly worked to bring electricity into the rural homesteads in the area, as well as serving as a role model and mentor for local 4-H groups.  Gist, who married Iris/Iras C. Tennant in 1912, lived in the home which sat on property then known as Happy Hills Farm.  Gist's father, Samuel, lived close by in a red house which is now used as the Brooke Hills Park Playhouse.

After W.C. Gist passed away in July of 1959 in an Ohio County convalescent home, the house and the land were willed to the county, and have been in constant operation by the county as a park since then.  The Gist Home, however, has served since 1986 as an annual haunted house attraction known as Brooke Hills Spooktacular.

Volunteers working to set up the annual event began to notice that there may be a REAL spook or two residing in the old farm house.  Among the legends and sightings include a little girl who is seen upstairs, and who may be the daughter of W.C. Gist, Mr. and Mrs. Gist themselves, a farm hand who likes to roam the entire building, and...an Indian seen in the basement.  Sightings of this menagerie of apparitions are said to be quite frequent, but increase during times of construction.

If you'd like to experience these hauntings for yourself, the Gist House now offers pay-to-play ghost hunts for groups each March through November. 

Gist House Website

Mt. Holly Prison, New Jersey

The Mount Holly Prison in New Jersey is now referred to as the Burlington County Prison Museum.

In 1807, the Board of Chosen Freeholders appropriated the money for the building of a second prison in Burlington County, New Jersey.  The first, which was located in the basement of the county courthouse was falling into disrepair and over crowding.

Construction on the new prison began in 1809, and was completed by 1811.  The U-shaped prison was designed by an architect who, at the time, was young and relatively unknown.  That architect was Robert Mills, who would later go on to design and construct such famous structures as the Washington Monument.  The prison's architecture is unique for several reasons.  It was the first of its kind built using the latest technology in not only fireproof construction, but also optimized ventilation as a form of early heating and cooling practice.

It was also the first structure of its kind in the area designed not only to punish criminals, but to help reform them as well.  Both criminals AND debtors were housed in this 3-storey structure, and were taught skills such harness making, carpentry, and basket weaving.

A raised basement in the structure housed the prisoner workshops, but also the kitchen and dining rooms, and the wash house.  Outside in the courtyard, prisoners tended to a vegetable garden, participated in exercise and recreation, and unfortunately, were forced to stare at a stark reminder of what a life of crime could result in...the gallows.  The warden lived on the first floor, with the debtors, who were kept in a common room together.  The second floor housed a special "dungeon" room, located directly above the warden's living quarters.  It was this dungeon room where the most violent criminals and those awaiting execution would be held.

The construction of the prison did prove to withstand the tests of time, and is often noted as being the longest continually used prison in the United States.  It was formally shut down in 1965, with the last prisoner being transferred out by early 1966.  Today, the structure operates as a museum, and is open to the public.

Over its 150 year course of history, the prison has undoubtedly picked up a few ghostly legends.  Although Boston Strangler, Albert DeSalvo is sometimes cited as being the prison's most famous inmate, its the ghost of Joel Clough who has decided to extend his sentence here into the afterlife.

Joel Clough was convicted of murdering his lover.  Clough stabbed the girl to death with a knife upon finding out she was cheating on him with another man. After an escape attempt, he was recaptured, and spent the majority of his time in the dungeon, chained to the floor, awaiting his execution in 1833.  It is the dungeon that is often reported as being the most active area in the prison.  Visitors and staff alike have reported the strongest feelings of not being alone or being watched in this area, but also hearing moaning, crying out, and the jangling of chains coming from the room.  In fact, the first reports of such activity came merely days after Clough's execution, and were reported by inmates as well.  Activity increased in 1999 as the prison was undergoing renovations.  Workmen reported objects missing, only to show up later in strange places, mists, and of course, the usual noises.

The basement, especially near the kitchen, is also a very spiritually active spot in the prison.  During two different escape attempts, two different innocent people were killed by prisoners in nearly the exact location, a trustee, and a security guard.  The apparition of the security guard is seen somewhat frequently in this area, before vanishing in front of witness' eyes.

While these two spots seem to be the most active, paranormal phenomena is reported throughout the building.  Motion sensors on the second floor go off by themselves when no one is around.  The first floor is full of shadows, including that of a legless human apparition.  Footsteps can be heard on other floors when no one else is in the building, and in addition to feeling as if you're being watched, many have reported phantom touches as well.


Ironton's Woodland Cemetery

 The Ghosts

*NOTE:  The 2016 Ghost Walk will be held September 24!*

Teenie Peters   Antoinette "Teenie" Peters danced with the Imperial Russian Ballet and the Chicago Opera before marrying and settling down in Ironton, Ohio. She was tragically killed in a car crash. Shortly after her interment, vandals broke into her mausoleum, broke the corner off her glass coffin, and broke off two of her fingers, stealing her rings. Also stolen was a brooch given to her by the czar of Russia, and her photo outside the crypt was shot at with a BB gun. Today it is said that every night at midnight, the ghost of Teenie Peters dances around her mausoleum, scaring away would-be vandals.

 Osa Wilson   Osa Wilson was an abused wife. Legend has it that her husband slapped her across the face, resulting in her falling down a flight of stairs, fatally injuring her and her unborn child. Her tombstone portrays a woman's figure, where it is said a hand print appears on the face, no matter how many times it is sandblasted.  The statue is also said to cry real tears, and the belly is often warm...sometimes even a small, faint heartbeat can be felt. The gown of the statue was said to have been seen fluttering as well.    

 Dr. Lowry   Dr. Joseph W. Lowry, a respected Ironton physician who died mysteriously in 1933, is said to haunt the library which stands where his house once was.
Dr. Lowry was found dead in bed in the middle of summer with the heat going in his house. There were rumors that his heirs had him murdered, but the official cause of death was declared a stroke.

The next part is pretty gruesome. The undertaker, an employee of Schneider, out of Chesapeake, who received Lowry's body, was still angry at him for refusing to pay for a custom-made coffin he'd ordered for his wife Sarah two years earlier.  As the story goes, Dr. Lowry changed his mind about paying the steep price for the coffin, and used a small nick that would have been easily repaired as an excuse to cancel the order. As revenge, the undertaker broke Lowry's legs and folded them up to help him fit into the coffin he had refused to pay for. The lid still wouldn't close over his fat stomach, so the undertaker cut him open, scooped out his internal organs, and sewed him up again. The doctor was buried in Woodland Cemetery.

When the authorities later exhumed Lowry to check for signs of poison, they found his abdomen empty. The undertaker admitted what he had done and showed the police to the place where he had buried the organs, but by that time they were so rotten that nothing could be determined.

Today Lowry haunts the Briggs Public Library in Ironton, supposedly searching for his lost body parts. He is also seen in Woodland Cemetery, sometimes walking with his mother, near her crypt at the front entrance.

Means Cross   When erecting this stone cross, which weighed several tons, it fell, crushing one of the workers to death. That worker has said to be seen around the monument.  In one incident, a group of men went out after dark to look for the alleged ghost...and apparently found him.  One man was so startled at the sight of the apparition, he fired several shots from his pistol at the figure.  If you look closely at the cross and a monument nearby, you can still see markings from where the bullets hit. 

All photos taken during the Ironton Ghost Walk 2007 by Theresa Racer

The Unfortunate Tale of Dr. Lowry

On May 24, 1933, the body of Dr. Joseph Lowry, age 68, was found dead at his home. The wealthy physician lived in a palatial home, located at 321 South Fourth Street in Ironton...the exact location which now houses the library building.

Dr. Lowry, who lived alone, was found dead in bed in an almost unnatural position, with a towel over his head, blood running down the side of his face from his nose and mouth, and an electric light turned on. He was found by a Mr. Riley, a close friend, after several of the doctor's patients could not get ahold of him.  Mr. Riley climbed through the one un-latched window to enter the home.

It was assumed that the doctor had died of a stroke, and was buried in Woodland Cemetery near his wife and mother.  However, a key to a lock box was soon discovered, but the box itself was missing, leading many to believe that Dr. Lowry had been killed by his heirs over his fortune.

The body was exhumed to look for evidence of foul play, and a shocking discovery was made.  The doctor's entrails had been removed completely, and his legs had been broken to fit inside the casket!  The undertaker admitted to the deed, citing sheer spite, as two years earlier, the Dr. refused to pay for an expensive casket he ordered for his wife, Sarah.  Sarah was a very small person, so certain "adjustments" had to be made to ensure that Lowry would fit in her unused  coffin! With not enough physical evidence, the death of Dr. Lowry was never officially solved. 

Today, visitors to the library claim that the doctor is still around...looking for his missing body parts.  Often at closing, staff will hear the jingling of keys, even though everyone holds their own still.  A hydraulic door to the Genealogy room has also been reported to open and close on its own, but several workers and visitors had a much more profound experience.

While discussing Dr. Lowry one day, one worker made it quite clear that she didn't believe any of the ghost nonsense...and then the computer beeped.  The screen showed a partial list of patrons in the system.  Four names popped up...all with the name Lowry.  A few minutes later, the computer beeped again, signaling a book had been checked out at it...the book was "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir."

Ironton's Cement Plant

Also known as the Alpha Portland Cement plant, this factory was built in the late 1890s and operated for nearly 70 years. It was closed in the mid 1960s due to the financial hardships.  In the 1970s, it operated for a short while under Getty Oil.  A tragic accident during this decade led to the permanent closing of the plant; a basement wall broke, flooding the basement area and killing several workers.  Today, there are underground mining areas still on the property.  Due to the flooding, these underground mines are completely filled with water...but there is also still mining equipment, trapped 600 feet below the property.

It is rumored that because of this tragic accident,  the property is now haunted. Legend has it that some of the bodies were never recovered, and it is these lost souls who remain today.  Many people have reported seeing the apparitions of these victims.

The current owner, Dan Bolender, doesn't believe the property is haunted, and has even built his own home on the property.  Bolender, who is president of the Ice Creek Land Company, worked maintenance at the plant years ago under Getty  Oil before purchasing the property in the mid-90s.  Plans to tear down the remaining structures and turn the land into a residential area are underway.

Photo Property of Abandoned Online.  Check out their site for more history and photos!

Lake Vesuvius

Lake Vesuvius is located in Lawrence County, and is part of the Wayne National Forest.  The furnace located at Lake Vesuvius was built in 1833, and was one of at least 60 such pig iron furnaces located in the Hanging Rock area of Ohio.  By 1863, the furnace was operating under William Firmstone.  It had switched from the "cold blast" method to the "hot blast" method of production, and was producing 8-12 tons of pig iron a day.

Shortly after the Civil War, the iron ore seams of the Hanging Rock area were disappearing, and operations were moving north to the Lake Superior region.  Vesuvius Furnace, as a result, closed officially in 1906.

 In the 1930s, the land around the furnace was purchased by the government, and in 1937, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) moved in and began construction of a dam, cabins, boat and bath houses, etc.  Work was completed in 1941, and the new dam had created Lake Vesuvius along the Stormy Creek.

In 1966, a cave was found in the area, on property belonging to the Haney's.  Artifacts found in the excavation indicate that the cave goes back at to at least 700BC and was used by Shawnees, Mingos, and several other traveling tribes as a shelter.

By 2001, the dam was deemed unsafe.  The lake was drained, the dam rebuilt, and the entire camping and recreational area was reopened in 2004.

There are several ghost stories and legends connected to the area, the first being directly related to the furnace, which is still standing.  While the furnace was in operation, it was reported that workers encountered the Devil himself in human form.  The Devil blocked the path daily, and so disturbed the workers, that the owners were forced to hire in a priest.  The priest is reported as asking the Devil, "What in the name of God do you want?"  The Devil either did not respond, or no answer was ever recorded.  For more sightings of the Devil in and around Lawrence Co. Furnances, please see this link!  It seems as if the year 1875 was quite an interesting time for people of this area.

Several other ghosts are also said to roam the vicinity of the lake.  One appears to be a man wearing a cowboy hat who is seem simply walking along the paved roads with his head down.  When people turn to take another look, he has vanished.  A second ghost is that of a woman. The woman is seen primarily along the dock area of the lake, but has also been reported on the road.  She appears in rags, and is bloodied and bruised and disheveled...almost as if she has been beaten to death.  A third sighting involves a vaporous white figure that floats among the trees.

These seem to be the most heavily reported ghosts, but  in recent years, at least two others seem to have surfaced.  It is said that an elderly woman is seen relaxing in a rocking chair located at one of the CCC cabins.  The last is the apparition of an Indian tribesman.  He is seen mainly around the wooded areas and along trails.

In 2007, HPIR had its first anniversary picnic at Lake Vesuvius, and although we didn't see any of the above-mentioned ghosts, everyone had a great time in this great location.  We did capture a strange image of what appears to be a colored orb at the furnace.  Generally, HPIR is NOT with the orb camp, but this particular image was interesting enough to give a second glance to.

Update May 2009:  I've learned from the Forgotten Ohio website that another ghost is directly connected with this area.  In the nearby mine area, the ghost of a former miner who died from a mining accident is often reported.  He is seen pushing his wheelbarrow out of the opening of the mine, walking around for a few moments, then re-entering the mine.

History of the Vesuvius Furnace

Lafayette Hotel, Marietta

Here's the history of this historic hotel straight from the inn's website:

While all evidence of the palisades and the black houses of Picketed Point have been effaced in the advance of progress and time, this important chapter of the early history of Marietta and Ohio will never be forgotten, nor will the romance of the past ever dim or fade.

Here on the banks of the Ohio River today, you can view the same magic beauty that fascinated early settlers in 1788, as evidenced by inscriptions in the letters of Rufus Putnam, "a country of the most pleasant climate and of the rarest beauty and enduring charm."

The Lafayette Hotel draws its name from the visit in 1825 of the Marquis de Lafayette, French hero of the American Revolution. Lafayette landed at the "point" on a boat named Herold. The towns people did not know of his plan to visit here and were unprepared for his arrival. A prominent early Marietta citizen, Nahum Ward, entertained him at his home. Lafayette continued from Marietta through several communities to his final destination of Boston, Massachusetts. A plaque near the Hotel marks the spot where Lafayette came ashore in Marietta and today the locals boast that the first tourist to visit Marietta was the Marquis de Lafayette.

The Bellvue Hotel was built in 1892 where the Lafayette Hotel stands today. It was 4 stories tall, had 55 steam heated rooms, a bar, a call bell system in every room and advertised hot and cold baths. The rate was $2.00 or $3.00 American Style. The Bellvue was destroyed by fire on April 26, 1916, at 5:40 p.m. Pictures of the fire are on display in the vestibule by the Lafayette's Gun Room Restaurant.

The Lafayette Hotel, built by Marietta businessmen, opened on July 1, 1918, and was incorporated as the Marietta Hotel Co. which owned the original building, additions, and real estate. Reno G. Hoag was hired as manager with a salary of $150 per month plus room and board for his family.

When Mr. Hoag was named manager in 1918 his eighteen year old son, S. Durward Hoag, also began working for the hotel. He helped unpack furniture and fixtures which came by boat from Cincinnati on the river packet, Liberty, a week before the opening on April 26. Eventually, Reno Hoag purchased the contents of the hotel for $25,000. For a number of years, Reno and Durward began buying stock as it was offered to them and in 1924, incorporated. Together they operated the Lafayette, making improvements and changes as the times dictated. The old Mansion House, which was built in 1835, was purchased by the hotel from Thomas McCurdy and Christina McCuley. The house stood directly behind the Lafayette and was demolished to build a 30 room addition to the original hotel, The Hoag Addition.

Reno Hoag died on March 4, 1944, and S. Durward Hoag continued to run the hotel until he sold the Lafayette on December 17, 1973, to local businessman, Harry J. Robinson.

Mr. Robinson saw a need for larger facilities to accommodate meetings and banquets. He also had a passion for the preservation of big bands and ballroom dancing. In 1978, the Sternwheel Ballroom was added at a cost of $650,000. Mr. Robinson's business insight continues to benefit the Hotel and the local community by allowing the hotel to attract small and medium-sized conventions from around the state. The Grand Ballroom still plays host to big band music and ballroom dancing. Harry Robinson operated the Lafayette Hotel until May 30, 1984.

From June 1984 to July 1989, the Lafayette Hotel was operated by a limited partnership comprised mostly of out of town investors. During this period, the property suffered extreme financial set backs and remodeling over runs and was eventually turned over to the mortgage holder, Bank One, Columbus. Bank One continued to operated the property in receivership until a buyer could be found.

In May 1991, the Lin Family from Columbus, Ohio, formed the Lafayette Hotel, Inc., and purchased the property. Since then, guest rooms, the lobby and the Grand Ballroom have been redecorated and major improvements have been made to heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration equipment. More importantly, the property has been linked to Historic Hotels of America through the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The Ghost Stories, as found in Susan Sheppherd's Cry of the Banshee and the Forgotten Ohio website:
The ghost of Mr. Durward Hoag is said to still be watching over his hotel, and is most active on the third floor, where a wing named in his honor is found.  Mr. Hoag likes to make his presence known mainly by flickering and exploding light bulbs.  He is also said to manifest by flashes of bright light, not unlike a camera flash firing.  Several employees are hesitant to enter the third floor of the hotel alone, although a malevolent haunting has never been reported at the hotel. 
Mr. Hoag also likes to make his presence known throughout the third floor hallways, but also by operating the elevator.  The elevator will often operate on its own accord, frequently stopping at the roof level.  Employees have caught glimpses of him out of the corner of their eyes, and have even heard him whisper words of advice and encouragement, especially late-working accountants.  Papers and small objects are often found rearranged.
  Mr. Hoag died in 1982, and was instrumental in improving the hotel, adding additional guest rooms and the cocktail lounge, all while actually living in the hotel itself during his tenure.

Rider's Inn, Painesville

Rider's Inn, located at 792 Mentor Avenue, originally opened in 1812 by Joseph (Joe) Rider, and his wife, Suzanne as a stagecoach stop between Buffalo, NY and Cleveland.  The inn rapidly expanded, and became a favorite stop for food and lodging for travelers heading West.  Over the years, the inn was used as a stop on the Underground Railroad, and also to house Union soldiers returning home from the war.

The inn stayed in the Rider family until 1902 when financial difficulties forced them to sell.  However, due to the discovery of a hot springs in the area, the inn was purchased by George Randall in 1922, and returned as a showpiece of hospitality.  Randall made extensive improvements, adding a dining room and speakeasy, and expanding the breakfast accommodations.

The hot spring was short lived, however, and retirement of the Randalls saw the inn through further hard times until 1988.  After being listed on the National Register of Historic Places nearly fifteen years early, owner Elaine Crane and her mother renovated the inn into today's bed and breakfast.

Like many historical B&B's, the Rider's Inn is said to have its own resident ghost.  Suzanne Rider, original owner, carries on her duties of greeting her guests.  She is often seen hovering around the front door, but guests have also encountered her friendly and peaceful spirit throughout the house, particularly the upper floor.

Rider's Inn Webpage

Johnny Appleseed's Ghost

John Chapman was born on September 26, 1774 in Massachusettes, second child of Nathaniel Chapman and Elizabeth Simonds.  Shortly after giving birth to her third child, Nathaniel Jr. in 1776, both Elizabeth and her newborn passed away from what is believed to be tuberculosis.  Nathaniel remarried a woman named Lucy Cooley, and together with her, had ten more children.

In 1792, John Chapman, aged 18 years, took his 11 year old half-brother, also named Nathaniel, and his older sister Elizabeth out west.  Their destination was ultimately to be the headwaters of the Susquehanna. 
By 1800, John Chapman had made it to Licking County, Ohio.  His father and the rest of the family arrived five years later, and settled in what is now the Dexter City area of Noble County.  By 1806, John Chapman was already know as Johnny Appleseed.

The Chapman Family Cemetery can still be found on an overgrown hilltop just outside of Dexter City, off of Rt. 21 close by to where I-77 intersects old route 821.  Johnny Appleseed passed away on February 18, 1845 and is not buried in this cemetery--he is buried in Archer Cemetery in Indiana.

However, visitors to the overgrown cemetery, which contains the ruined graves of Johnny's stepmother, several siblings, and their descendants, have reported seeing the apparition of a gray-bearded, shaggy man with ragged pants and no shoes.  It is believed the apparition is that of Johhny Appleseed himself, coming to visit the family gravesite.

Johnny's apparition is also seen nearby at the Johnny Appleseed Memorial , erected in September of 1942.  Consequently, September is said to be the best time to witness the apparition, both at the monument and at the family cemetery.

Twin City Opera House

Ground broke for the Twin City Opera House and Town Hall on October 20, 1889 atop land referred to as the "burned district".  Designed by H.C. Lindsay at an estimated cost of $16,000, the building was to have been three stories high, with a ballroom on the third floor, and a clock tower.  However, overspending and lack of funding caused the project to be delayed, and the clock plans scrapped.

Official opening night for the Opera House was Saturday, May 28th, 1892.  All eight hundred seats were sold out to see a performance of the Arion Opera Company's rendition of Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Mikado."  In all actuality, many of the patrons came more for the novelty of electric lights than the show.  The Opera House was the first building in the city to be outfitted entirely with electric lights.  Unfortunately, on opening night, the generator failed, plunging the building in darkness, as ushers scrambled to find enough gas lamps to light the Opera House.  Because it was deemed that electric lights were too unpredictable, the Opera House was redone entirely with gas lamps. 

The Twin City Opera House has a long history with the paranormal which seemed to reach a peak in the 1960s.  A janitor saw or heard something that so frightened him that he ran out of the building, and immediately quit his job, refusing to ever enter the building again.  Objects would move around on their own accord, the drapes would close over the screen during movie showings, and the little girl began making an appearance.

This little girl is believed to be 10 year old Elizabeth.  People have heard Elizabeth giggle, and have seen her peeking out from the catwalk above the stage.  In addition to Elizabeth, other ghosts include the apparition of Everett Miller, who spent 30 years at the Opera House as an usher, and then later as a manager.  He is sighted wearing a white suit, just as he did in life.  There is also the spirit of Red Wine Robert, who often communicates through EVP, including telling one investigator, "I've got red wine!" 

The ballroom is home to the spirit of John Leezer who was stabbed in the early 1900s.  Also in the ballroom, witnesses report hearing the disembodied voices of women singing jingles popular from the 1950s and 1960s.  Also seen with alarming frequency are the shadowy beings that reside in the basement near the old tunnel system.  The shadows have been noted to growl and even drastically drop the temperature when confronted.

Today, the Opera House hosts ghost hunts, and is available to rent out for private investigations.  Over 300 EVPs from the site are on record, leading many to believe that the Twin City Opera House is the most haunted building in Ohio.

Twin City Opera House Website

Our House Museum

Our House Museum in Gallipolis, Ohio

Gallipolis, Ohio is full of beautiful old homes, many dating back to the early 19th century, not long after the town was settled by a group of 500 French immigrants.  Located just across the Ohio River from Point Pleasant, WV, this quaint little area has a lot to offer in the way of historic (and sometimes haunted!) buildings.  One such building is located not far from the riverfront park on First Avenue.  That building is the Our House Tavern.

Now serving as a museum of local history, Our House Tavern dates back to 1819 and was simply known as Cushing's Tavern at first.  It was built by a prominent local citizen by the name of Henry Cushing, who ran Our House as both a tavern and and inn for travelers going up and down the Ohio River by steamboat. It is said that the tavern gained the name 'Our House' because Cushing would go down to where the boats were docked and yell, "Come on over to our house!", enticing travelers to spend the night at his establishment.  And, at an expensive 75 cents a night, only the more well-to-do traveler was able to stay.  However, the tavern was still a local favorite as well, as it was a social gathering place for the town---a place where citizens could hear the latest news and mingle with out of town guests.

Cushing, with the help of his sister, Elizabeth Cushing Foster, ran the tavern until the early 1860's.  During the Civil War, the home was used briefly as a hospital and then later served as both a private residence and then a boarding house.  In 1933, Dr. Charles E. Holzer bought the property, and eleven years later, donated it to the Ohio Historical Society.  Today, the museum is run by the Friends of Our House Committee, who along with a staff of volunteers, open Our House up every summer for tours and throughout the year for special events.  And while admission to the old tavern is much more reasonably priced these days, many still imagine a time when the home sheltered the more 'genteel' folk.                                                                                                                     
In fact, Our House hosted two very famous, well-to-do celebrities of the 19th century. On May 22, 1825 the General Marquis de Lafayette was a guest of the Cushings.  de Lafayette had met Henry and Elizabeth's brother, General Nathanial Cushing during his war service, and was invited to stay at the inn, where a large reception was held for him in the upstairs ballroom. The museum boasts ownership of a jacket owned by Lafayette, which was left behind during his stay and each spring, the museum holds an event to commemorate Lafayette's visit to Gallipolis.  However, he isn't the only famous visitor.  In the 1850's, Jenny Lind, the Swedish opera singer, made a stop at Our House.  She performed, presumably in the second floor ballroom, during her big American tour.

Interestingly enough, it is said that a phantom repeat of that performance is one of the more well-known hauntings associated with Our House.  According to the book,  Haunted Ohio II by Chris Woodyard, the curator at the time and her son were downstairs.  Above them, in the ballroom, they heard what sounded like chairs scraping the floor and other sounds associated with a large group settling into their seats.  Moments later, they hears a woman singing one of the songs Jenny Lind was known for performing.  As they rushed upstairs to investigate, they found nothing that could have accounted for what they heard.                                                                                                                                The sounds of footsteps walking through the house and sometimes running up the stairs are pretty common, as are hearing the sounds of what seems like an unseen visitor walking in the front door.  However, the most...visual...ghost on the Our House property is believed to be none other than Henry Cushing himself.  In one pretty interesting experience, the museum curator had some guests in the kitchen area.  The group observed the apparition of a man, presumed to be Henry, who appeared upset and then abruptly vanished.  Turns out, the guests were descendants of a family whom the Cushings were at odds with!

Aside from that one incident, Henry's ghost seems otherwise content.  He is most often seen around midnight, walking up the back path to the home, wearing a pair of short, green breeches.  Neighbors who have witnessed this phantom stroll aren't scared, however.  They just believe that Henry is still watching out for his beloved tavern after almost 200 years in service.

Further Reading:
Haunted Ohio II, by Chris Woodyard
Gallia Herald Article: Our House Tavern Museum officially opens for the season on May 25
Our House Tavern (Clio website)
Our House Tavern Facebook

*Updated November 2018.  All photos by Theresa Racer*

Monitor School

When the Monitor Furnance opened up in 1857, the need for schools to educate the growing population of the area became a real problem.  As a result, the "Little Red School House" was built, which was quickly added to over the years.  To accomodate overflow, several additional one-room school houses were opened up in the community as well.

In 1905, the "Little Red School House" burned down and on the grounds of one of the smaller, one-room school houses, the new Monitor (or Coal Grove) School was built in the summer of that year.  It was built by Cooke Bros. Construction Company with architect T.S. Murray, a local citizen. (T.S. Murray had his office on the second floor of the Furlong building, and his company was sued by St. Joseph's in the 1880s for breach of contract.)  Total cost for the Monitor School was $24,000 and the lot cost an additional $1000.

Frank Kelley served as the first principal of the new school and for the 1905-6 school year, the following staff was employed at the school:
W.J. Higgins
R.A. Gregory
Agnes Steward
Clara Burton
Frances Fullerton

In 1911, two additional rooms were added, and in 1918, the meager staff was increased by two additional teachers.

By 1924, increasing population called for an increase in modern schools.  Between 1924 and 1925 the Dawson Bryant School was erected, with additions made in 1931.  Due to the added space and modern ammenities, in September of 1932, the high school class formerly housed in the Monitor School had been moved to the new Dawson Bryant School.  Classes further shifted  as new schools were built and by 1954, the Monitor School housed the community's kindergarten through third grade only.
The school apparently closed sometime in the 1980s/1990s after a new school was built.  Thanks to a tip on the HPIR guestbook, we think we've got the actual closing date as 1996. The date listed on one site is 1984, however. The school had been named a defendant in a law suit regarding outdated heating practices involving coal, lol. Afterward, it was apparently still owned by the Dawson-Bryant School District.

In 2000, the community tried to rally together and turn the abandoned school into a community center. It was, however, bought by an investor who wished to turn it into an apartment complex. The community again rallied...this time AGAINST those plans. They wanted to keep the building in as original condition as possible, and it was put back on the market before finally being torn down for good.

The main paranormal activity reported is strange lights seen inside the building when no one is there, and also scant reports of a ghostly janitor seen roaming the halls.  When HPIR investigated this location, we unfortunately didn't uncover any paranormal activity, but had a really fun time with our guests.  Unfortunately, at this point in time, I've also been unable to verify any deaths of a janitor at the school to account for the ghostly janitor seen in the boiler room/downstairs.  I was able to verify several deaths of teachers and at least one principal, but none of which who were serving at the school at the time of their deaths.

*Sorry guys...just updated a few broken links and some new info.  This blog post is several years old and I didn't realize it'd be getting so many hits today!*

HPIR Investigation

(Photo Property of Theresa Racer)

Elizabeth's Grave

Off an old dirt road off of Union Lane outside of Chillicothe is the Mount Union-Pleasant Valley Cemetery. 

Mt. Union's claim to fame is that it is the final resting place of Elizabeth...and possibly where she died as well.  There are two major stories to the Elizabeth legend.  In the first, Elizabeth, overcome with grief over the death of her husband, hanged  herself from a tree near the rear of the cemetery in which her husband was buried.  In another variation, Elizabeth was murdered in a similar manner by several men angry over her inheritance upon her husband's death.  In both legends, the story goes that Elizabeth was buried near the front of the cemetery.  However, her tombstone mysteriously moves itself to the back of the cemetery near the location of her death, most often against the very tree from which she hung.  When replaced, it would always wander back to the rear of the cemetery.

The cemetery has been vandalized, and Elizabeth's grave is undoubtedly among the destruction.  However, therein may lie supporting evidence for the legend.  In the back of the cemetery is a group of fallen tombstones piled near a tree.  One such is the stone of Elisabeth P. Eagleson, born November 16,1819, and died June 5th, 1896.  Elisabeth was the wife of John, who died two years before.

Thrill seekers and paranormal investigators still flock to this location.  It is rumored that Elizabeth/Elisabeth still walks the cemetery, often seen in a white dress.  Sometime she is seen hanging from the tree where she lost her life, and some even say that on the anniversary of her death, blood drips from the tree in question.  A few people claim that apparitions of Elizabeth/Elisabeth are accompanied by the apparitions of two shadowy men dressed all in black. 

Witness Encounters with Elizabeth from Forgotten Ohio

Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, Ohio

The Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, located outside of South Point, was built in 1849.  During the early part of the 1800s, Baptists in the area held services in their own homes.  However, when a group of 37 freed slaves from Virginia formerly owned by James Twyman arrived in the area, they joined the current congregation and built the historic church.

The church remained the focal point of the African American community well into the 20th century.  Many social activities, such as picnics and dances were held at the church, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. 

No longer in use, the church has acquired a reputation by locals of being haunted.  Reports of shadows, lights flickering, and hymn singing coming from within have been reported.  An early HPIR investigation took us to this location, where the only thing reported was the fact that several members felt a tingling energy sensation.  At this time, there is not enough evidence to deem this location as haunted, so if you have any
additional info, please email me!

Info from Lawrence Register

HPIR Investigation Page

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Toads in the House...Paranormal Hilarity Ensues

Last summer, my best friend had come over to visit. He, my nephew, and I were sitting in the family room watching TV. My friend got up to get something to drink from the kitchen, and as he passed my patio door, he nonchalantly said, "You've got a big a** frog in your house." He calmly kept walking, as if this sort of thing was normal, hehe. Actually, this kinda thing is pretty typical, as you never know what to expect in my crazy house.

It was really one of those you had to be there moments, but my nephew and I were guffawing at the choice of words, but also the fact that he just kept walking, making no mention of removing the offending amphibian.

I got up to check it out, and it was actually a HUGE toad, just sitting there, looking out the patio door. I have no idea how it got in the house without my dogs eating it. My yellow lab thinks frogs and toads are playthings--she likes to throw them up in the air and catch them.

I got a towel and picked the toad up gently. I put it out front so the dogs couldn't get to it. The very next day, two of the dogs cornered something on the porch. When I went out to check, there was another toad, smaller in size, hiding under the riding lawnmower. It was also scooped up and taken out front.

While the rest of the house thought the chain of events were highly entertaining, my mom was convinced there was some supernatural meaning behind it all. Consulting a few of my paranormal encyclopedias I managed to learn:

"In occult lore, the toad is said to be psychically sensitive and can detect the presence of a ghost. Its presence in a house or garden is considered to be protective against the supernatural.

Folklore also holds that toads are favorite familiars of witches, and that witches shape-shift into toads. In certain areas, toads are death omens of sorts. In part of England, it was once a practice to capture a toad, break its hind legs, sew it up in a bag live and tie the bag around the neck of a patient. The toad's survival or death would foretell the fate of the patient. "
-The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits, Rosemary Guiley

I guess it is pertinent to note that my home has been plagued by paranormal activity for years, and several independent visitors who claim to have had psychic abilities have believed there is a portal of sorts here.  One psychic who reads both my mom and myself fairly regularly has twice stated information about "guardians" who have been sent here to protect us.  The first such guardian was our cat, Ambrosis.  Secondly, this psychic told us that when my son, Luke, was born, my grandfather "moved in" to watch over him.  This psychic never said exactly WHAT we were being protected against, but I always felt that perhaps it was from an attack of a spiritual or otherworldly type due to the problems we've had here in the past.  Was this toad simply another protector against these unseen forces?

It's also interesting to note that the toad was looking out the back door into our backyard.  While many would just say it was trying to figure out how to get BACK outside, there might be a more paranormal answer for his gaze.  As seen in the above-mentioned text from Rosemary Guiley, toads can detect the presence of a ghost.  While there is no debate that we've had plenty of weird experiences inside, the backyard is also a hotbed of shadow person sightings...and is the location where a man passed away from a massive heart attack---the same man who we've seen inside many times!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ghosts of Guyandotte FIRST LOOK!

Here's a special treat...a sample chapter from Theresa's book, Guyandotte Ghosts.  Get a first glimpse right here, right now!  The book will available for purchase some time in the next few months, and is based on the Haunted and Historic Guyandotte Walking Tours.  I've saved the best stuff for later, so keep an eye out for the book...and come visit our tours this autumn!

Hysell-Wilson-Garrette Home

The Hysell-Wilson-Garrette Home on Main Street was built prior to the Civil War.  Some accounts say there was a home on the property as early as 1841, but more accurate estimates put the current house as around 1856.

Whatever the original date may be, we do know that an early resident of the home was Dr. James H. Hysell.  Hysell was born in Meigs County, Ohio in 1837.  After attending preparatory school at the then Marshall Academy, Hysell went on to graduate from the Ohio Medical College in Cincinnati, Ohio, and obtain his actual MD status from the University of Buffalo, in Buffalo, NY around 1861.

Dr. Hysell returned to what was then western Virginia, and along with his brother, settled in Guyandotte.  During the year of 1861, Guyandotte served as a Union recruitment camp, although the town was largely of Confederate sympathies.  Hysell was a Union sympathizer…at least that is what is believed.  However, others say that his Union sympathies were really of an opportunistic nature.  During the onset of the Civil War in America, the nation’s army lost over 27 of its 115 army surgeons to the Confederacy.  Dr. Hysell enlisted immediately and quickly rose through the ranks to the position of Major.

After the war,  Hysell returned once again to Guyandotte, where he married Mary Luella Hayslip, in 1864.  The Hayslips were a prominent early family in Guyandotte, and together, the two lived in the grandiose structure which now sits on the corner of Main Street.   

Perhaps due to Hysell’s Union sympathies, and perhaps in part due to the fact that the home was spared during the burning of Guyandotte by Union troops, rumors of a hidden tunnel leading from the house’s basement to the Methodist Church across the street are still discussed, both in books and in oral tradition.  These tunnels are said to have been used as part of the Underground Railroad. 

Unfortunately, such rumors are historically unfounded.  Local historians have shown that the alleged entrance to the tunnel from the basement, is simply a bricked over cellar, not uncommon for the time period.  The church, as well, denies all claims of a tunnel.  At the time of the war, it was the site of the southern Methodist.  When it was destroyed by overuse as a commissary by Union troops, the present church was built on its foundation, but no mention of a tunnel or tunnel system every surfaced.

In any event, Hysell operated an office down the street, and around 1867, served on the board of Supervisors at Marshall College.  By 1874, the Hysells packed up and moved to Ohio, and the home was sold for a measly sum of $1000.  Dr. James Hysell passed away in Ohio in 1905 from malaria, which he contracted while serving in the Spanish American War.  Throughout the years, however, Hysell remained connected with the town of Guyandotte, as his niece Anna, and her husband, Canadian-born William Henry Wilson moved into the home.

Wilson was a renowned lumberman who took over the Guyandotte Mills.  Under Wilson’s authority, Guyandotte continued to be known for its lumber industry.  With that lumber money, Wilson made many improvements and alterations to the house, including a new roof in 1910.

Wilson died on February 1, 1925.  He was the third member of his family to die within a year’s time.  His wife, Anna, continued to live in the home until her death in the 1940s.  During the 1937 flood that ravaged the Ohio Valley, Anna Wilson became the object of legend…a legend that exists to this day.

Several days before the 1937 rains came, Anna Hysell Wilson desperately warned her neighbors to move all furniture and valuables to the upper levels of their homes.  Some ignored her warnings of impending doom, writing her off as a crazy lady.  However, when the flood waters quickly arose past the first floors of many homes, Anna was prepared.  Camped out in the second story of her home, complete with supplies, Anna was said to have passed out food and other essentials to neighbors who came by in boats.

Despite her generosity, neighbors came to shun Anna as being a witch for her predictions.  Many years after the flood, children still avoided the house on the corner because a “witch lived there.”  Anna’s daughter, Betty Wilson Garrette, remained in the home after her mother’s death, and made a home there with her husband.  Throughout Betty’s tenancy, the legends of the witch remained.  HPIR was flooded with stories from people who grew up in Guyandotte, and knew the home as “the haunted house” or the “witch house.”

Anna may be long gone now from her physical body, but perhaps she remains in the home in spirit.  Current owners have experienced a fair share of activity over the years.  Although activity increases exponentially around the time of Civil War Days, commemorating the Raid and Burning of Guyandotte, the home went through one particular era of increased activity.  When the new homeowners decided to do some home improvements, the former front door with glass panel was removed, and replaced with a solid oak door.  When the unexplained surge of activity became increasingly bothersome, a psychic was consulted.  Not knowing the history of the house OR recent renovations, the psychic told the owner that the residing spirit was unhappy.  It could no longer look out the front door, and was upset by this.  The solid door was replaced, and immediately activity died down.  The resident spirit was appeased.

 Other day to day activity includes the sounds of someone walking around, doors opening and closing, and even the laughter of a woman.  Perhaps it is Anna, having the last laugh…

Needless to say, the above piece is copyrighted by me, Theresa Racer.  The photo of the Hysell House is property of HPIR President and Founder, Melissa Stanley.  Please...don't steal our stuff, lol.