Friday, July 29, 2011

The Mysterious Azgen Tribe

In May of 1773 Thomas Bullit, on the direction of Lord Dunmore, traveled to the Shawnee town of Chillicothe, now in present-day Ohio.  His mission was to ask permission from the Shawnee chief to start settlements in what is now-known as the Kentucky* area.  However, there was a slight problem with that.  The Shawnee, who simply used the area only as hunting grounds, would not even establish their own permanent settlements in that area.  The Shawnee felt they did not own the land...the land was instead owned by the ghosts of the murdered Azgen people.

Allan Eckert's The Frontiersman (1967), quotes this exchange between Chief Black Fish and Bullit, concerning the Azgens:

"The Shawnees", Black Fish said, "cannot tell you that you are allowed to settle in the Can-tuc-kee lands. We have never owned that land. It belongs to the ghosts of murdered Azgens - a white people from an eastern sea. Their bones and ghosts own and occupy every hill and valley of the country. They protect the game there and have more and better right there than any of the Indian tribes, including our own Shawnee nation, because they do not need or use material food themselves and do not like it. Long ago our fathers and our grandfathers killed off the Azgens, but we now fear more the spirits of these people than our fathers and grandfathers feared them when they were flesh."

Black Fish paused and there was a murmured assent and nodding of heads among the assemblage. "When our food is all gone," he continued, "and our squaws and children starving, we appeal to the ghosts of the white mothers who were killed there and, by saying the right words, we are allowed to kill an elk or deer or bear or buffalo. But," and now his voice lost its almost chanting quality and he fastened an unfriendly gaze on Bullitt, "we are never allowed to kill the game wantonly and we are forbidden to settle in the country of Can-tuc-kee. If we did, these ghosts would not rise from their caves and mounds and slay us, but they would set father against son and son against father and neighbor against neighbor and make them kill one another.

So who were these mysterious Azgen people?  This race of white men, often called "Moon-eyed People," for their nocturnal behavior, are steeped in legend.  Some feel that these men were the followers of a renegade Welsh prince, Prince Madoc, who arrived in America somewhere around 1170.  Others feel that the Azgen were from the Lost Colony of Roanoke, while still some feel that this race is actually the descendants of Atlantis.

*Theresa's Note:  The word Kentucky is derived from the word Can-tuc-kee...which is actually derived from another word of the Wyandot tongue, loosely translating into "The Land Where We Will Go Tomorrow" or "The Land Where We Will Live in the Future."  Although it is correct to assume that the area discussed in this post IS Kentucky, it actually encompasses quite a great deal more of land than just our modern state of Kentucky.  In short, Can-tuc-kee was used to describe all land holdings of the Iroquois located along the Ohio River.  The Shawnee lands that they refused to settle in because of the Azgen stretched from all along the eastern and southern sides of the Ohio River.  Obviously, this includes much of West Virginia!  There is also reference to mounds, where the spirits of the Azgen lie...and we've got plenty of those along the Ohio River as well, although most have been plowed over.

White Lady of Worstead

The opening of a new English pub in Worstead has once again brought to light the story of the White Lady of Worstead Church.

For many years, the White Lady was among the ranks of other spectrally colorful ladies throughout England.  Legend states that the White Lady would appear every Christmas Eve at the church, and many believed that seeing her would result in the witness's timely demise.  In fact, one such story that goes back to 1830 does involve such a scenario.  One brave fellow climbed to the top of the belfry on Christmas Eve, claiming that if he saw this White Lady, he was going to kiss her.  When he failed to return, his friends went searching...only to find him huddled at the top of the belfry.  He managed to mutter "I've seen her, I've seen her," before passing away.

Fast forward to 1975.  It was August 2 and Diane Berthelot, her husband Peter, and their 12 year old son were on vacation, visiting the church.  Diane, who was on antibiotics for an infection, was feeling ill, so she sat down to rest, but also to pray for recovery.  Her husband and son continued to explore the church, snapping photos.

At the time, Diane wasn't aware that as she was praying for recovery, her husband happened to snap a photo of her sitting on wooden bench.  She does, however, remember feeling quite peaceful after praying for the recovery.

After the vacation, the family decided to put on a slideshow featuring the photos from the trip, and for the first time, really got a good look at them.  Friends and family gasped when they came to the photo of Diane sitting at the bench praying, with what appears to be a glowing woman wearing old-fashioned clothing, sitting directly behind her.

The following summer, the family took the photo back to the church and showed the vicar, Rev. Pettit.  He relayed a slightly different version of the White Lady than previous legend the reverend's tale, the White Lady is not a death omen.  Rather, she is a healer, making her presence known whenever there is sickness nearby.

Today, Dennis Gilligan is the owner of the White Lady Pub.  A copy of the original photo is proudly on display here, but that may not be the ONLY sign of the White Lady here.  Dennis believes that since naming the pub in her honor, the White Lady of Worstead has wandered over from the church.  Lights have now begun to flicker on and off on their own, and a ghostly touch has been reported in the cellars.

Information and Photo from Alex Hurrell, EDP (July 25, 2011)

So what does everyone think of this photo?  The comments are fairly enlightening.  It appears that a majority of viewers think this image is faked...that the original photo has been digitally enhanced or touched up for this recent media blitz.  Others simply believe this is a trick of light combined with a slow shutter speed resulting in a somewhat glowing, transparent figure of a real person--a real person who just happens to be wearing trousers and black shoes if you look closely.  I'll let YOU all decide!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Wayne County Weirdness

In June of 2011, Huntington Paranormal was contacted about investigating an undisclosed cemetery in Wayne County, West Virginia.  This particular cemetery, which dates back to the 1870s, had quite the eerie reputation.  In researching the location, we found that the legends surrounding this cemetery were well known to the local population.  Normally, HPIR doesn't do a lot of cemeteries or other outdoor locations because they aren't a controlled environment.  However, we were asked for help in solving this mystery, as the hauntings were getting to the point where staff were uneasy about being in the vicinity.  Wanting to offer any assistance we could to those who ask for help...and of course being intrigued ourselves with the abounding stories, we decided to take the case!

According to the caretaker and information found on various websites, we learned that when the moon is full, a headless apparition is seen walking through the cemetery.  In addition to this headless phantom, witnesses were also experiencing the phantom sounds of a horse and buggy, and several others claimed to have their name called by an unseen entity.*

During HPIR's investigation of this location, there were some interesting hits on the K-II meter that did not correspond with earlier baselines taken in the same area.  One area that got several hits that seemingly answered questions on command was the area where a Confederate soldier was buried.

Please see our website for full investigation information!
Photo above taken by, and property of, Melissa Stanley, HPIR Founder and President.

*(Side note:  Hearing your name being called when no one is there is a phenomena that is steeped in superstitious folklore, especially here in the heart of the Appalachians.  Some believe that if you hear your name called and no one is around, DO NOT answer back.  Answering will bring nothing but bad luck, and possibly be an omen of impending death.  Others simply believe that this is the voice of a spirit calling out to you--if you answer with something along the lines of "What in Jesus' name do you want?" the spirit or entity will have to tell you.  Importantly, if you're hearing your name being called while you're alseep, or in a transition in or out of sleep, you're most likely experiencing what is commonly called an auditory sleepstart...although my grandmother always used to tell me it was a sign that you had fallen too deeply into sleep and too close to death; the angels were simply calling you awake.)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Hawaii's Haunted Manoa Falls Trail

The Manoa Falls Trail is a premier example of the beauty Hawaii has to offer, and is a favorite filming location for television and movie.  The trail, which runs about 1.6 miles long, is dotted with exotic flora and fauna including a bamboo forest, and ending with a majestic waterfall.  One of the most unique features of this trail, and Hawaii itself, is the revered Banyan Tree.

Banyan trees are actually NOT native to the Hawaiian Islands, although they can be found there in abundance.  The first banyan trees to find their way to the islands were imported from India as gifts to the queens and kings of Hawaii.  Named for the banians (or merchants) who would gather under them to discuss strategy, the tree is quite unique, both in appearance and mythology.  The roots of the banyan tree are aerial prop roots, giving the tree the ability to spread out over a wide area and appear to be many different trees grouped together.

Found throughout Southeast Asia and parts of Africa, the mythology of the tree varies, but it is generally believed that these trees are the peaceful resting spots where lost spirits reside.  That belief carried over into Hawaiian mythology...but the famous banyan tree of the Manoa Falls Trail is a little less than peaceful.

The tree in question is located slightly off the path, at the mouth of the trail.  According to "Uncle Joe" Espinda, a tour guide with the Oahu Ghost Tours, the tree is located directly in the path of Hawaii's most prominent legend...the Night Marchers.

The Night Marchers, or Hukai-po, are often believed to be the armed spirits of warriors returning from, or entering battle.  Visitors to the banyan tree have reported that on certain nights, the faint drumming characteristic of these Night Marchers can be heard.

These witnesses are lucky.  It is believed that actually SEEING the procession of Night Marchers is a terrible omen, nearly always ending in a grim fate for the witness, or someone the witness knows.  These warriors are only seen during certain nights, and are often accompanied by the sight of raised torches, or the sounds of chanting and drumming.

Those who HAVE seen the apparitions have often reported that the ghostly procession floats several feet above ground, yet leave footprints in the earth below, signifying their presence.  If one DOES happen to run across these apparitions, they are advised to lie low to the ground, advert their eyes, and "play dead."

Book Review: Paranormal Chronicles

Title: Paranormal Chronicles: Tales of Humor, Satire, Horror, and the Absolutely Strange
Author: Neal Parks
Publisher Data: Copyright 2008
ISBN: 978-1-4357-5445-4

I picked up this book and met with its author, Neal Parks, at this year's Mothman Festival (2008).  Parks is a paranormal investigator out of Chillicothe, OH, and founder of Parks Paranormal Research and Investigations.

Therefore...I HAD to pick up a copy of this book!  As this is a self-published title, there are several format and grammatical issues that kicked my English major brain into overdrive, but nothing that would detract from the stories themselves. This book is a well-written, entertaining compendium of Parks' investigation experiences, personal anecdotes, and tales related to him by family.

Being from a nearby geographical locale, I am familiar with the bulk of locations addressed in the book, and have actually been to quite a few myself.   Several times I found myself nodding in agreement, or actually laughing out loud at as Parks described his encounters into the unknown.

I'd definitely recommend picking up this book, as its a great addition to any paranormal collection.  From seasoned investigator, to armchair researcher, everyone can find something of value, and enjoy seeing the process of paranormal investigation through Parks' eyes.  So please, support local authors, and support local paranormal investigators and pick this book up today!

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Book Review: Ghost in the Mirror

Title: Ghost in the Mirror: Real Cases of Spirit Encounters
Author: Leslie Rule
Publisher Data: Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC, 2008

Theresa's Note:  I received a review copy of this book as part of LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program.  I submitted this review to the website as instructed, but I also published it on the original Theresa's Haunted History website.  I felt quite honored again when I found a guestbook signature from Leslie Rule herself, thanking me for the review!

I'm very honored that my first ER book was on my favorite subject by one of my favorite authors!

As a paranormal investigator, I'm definitely a connoisseur of paranormal literature, including anthologies of ghost stories, and Ms. Rule has never let me down.  I appreciate the research she provides into attempting to back up each story she relates without completely detracting from the legend and folklore aspect.

This particular book caught my attention because of the issue of mirrors being brought up with such frequency lately.  I was impressed with how the stories stay on track with the central theme, but don't entirely rely on it...and the transitional phrasing going from one story to another allows the work to flow freely, or be read in bits and pieces.  The staggering of different types of formats, from newspaper articles, to first-hand accounts, keeps even the most ADHD-afflicted readers interested, and I love the pieces spotlighting other paranormal groups.

The only things I would change would be a little more of a historical profile for some of these lesser known public haunts, and more pictures!  Ms. Rule's beautiful photographs of these places in question really offer a visual stimulant, aiding in the overall effect of the creepiness.

Overall...this is a book I'd definitely recommend for anyone...from those with a passing curiosity into the paranormal, to die-hard investigators.

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Book Review: Oval Office Occult

Title: Oval Office Occult: True Stories of White House Weirdness
Author: Brian Thomsen
Publisher Data: Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC, 2008

I had requested this book as part of LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program, and was deeply disappointed that I didn't  receive a copy.  However, I was more disappointed that I went out on my own and actually spent my hard-earned money for this book.

That's a little unfair, I guess.  It's not that it was a BAD book...but it was a boring book.  It was written in stand-alone chapters, and while I thought from the descriptions that it would be a tome full of interesting and little known paranormal facts and haunts of the White House, it focused more on the well known tales of Lincoln's spiritualist leanings, and actual White House events outside of that were sparse.

The tone throughout was pretty dry, and I wouldn't recommend this for a fun, entertaining read.  However, to those with an interest in history, it is a nice little reference book.  The author quotes historical documentation for many of these chapters, and it is nice to see those original sources as they were first printed.

There's a little something in this book for people of all interests in the paranormal field...from UFO's, psychic visions, Conspiracy Theory, and even vampires.  If you don't mind a compilation of older articles, then this book is an informative read.

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Book Review: Haunted U.S. Battlefields

Title: Haunted U.S. Battlefields
Author: Mary Beth Crain
Publisher Data: Globe Pequot Press, 2008

As a history AND paranormal buff, I tore through this book in one evening, and found it informative and enjoyable.  Crain discusses famous battlefield and war-related ghosts from a variety of conflicts, including the French and Indian War, the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the American Civil War, The Alamo, the Battle of Little Bighorn, and then a short compendium of battles fought by Americans elsewhere in the world.

Unfortunately, as a West Virginian, I felt left out, as there was no mention of our great state and our many haunted battlefields!  A large portion of West Virginia ghostlore is directly related to the Civil War, and the disputed first battle of the Revolutionary War took place here, so we've got the haunts...we just need to tell them to the world.  Perhaps a second volume could be arranged?  *wink, wink*

Anyway, this is a book I'd recommend, especially for those with a love of military history.  Even if you're more on the ghost side as opposed to the history side, don't fret.  The history is concise, well explained, and not so overly in-depth as to detract from the spookiness of the stories.

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Appalachian Case Study: Book Review

Title: Appalachian Case Study: UFO Sightings, Alien Encounters, and Unexplained Phenomena
Author: Kyle Lovern
Publisher Data: Woodland Press, 2008

While a very slender volume, this book is packed full of interesting UFO encounters from Southern West Virginia!  Sixteen chapters follow sixteen witnesses as they recount their tales, spanning a wide period of time, but not exactly a wide geographical area.  The author, a reporter and writer from Mingo County, devotes much of the book's content to the southern coal fields.

While I'd like to see a wider geographical area covered (perhaps in the next book? *wink*), I appreciate the rapport the author has with his interviewees, and his ability and drive to get their stories told.  Oddly enough, right before purchasing this book, I was discussing with a fellow West Virginian how deep our UFO lore goes, but there seems to be a lack of official reporting of sightings, especially in the area covered by the book.

The final chapter covers an interview and partial lecture from the famous Stanton Friedman, who is a regular speaker at the annual Braxton County Monster Festival.  And again...oddly enough, part of his speech covered WHY West Virginians are so hesitant  to speak of their UFO experiences!

This is a well-written book, and covers a subject that is definitely close to my heart.  I enjoyed being able to recognize many of the places discussed in the sightings,  and finding the similarities between the witnesses encounters, not only to each other, but to other famous cases in UFOlogy.  This is definitely a book I'd recommend to anyone with an interest in the paranormal, but also to anyone living in West Virginia, despite a lack of belief or interest in UFO cases, as a piece of our waning folklore.

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Book Review: Haunting Sunshine

Title: Haunting Sunshine: Ghostly Tales from Florida's Shadows
Author: Jack Powell
Publisher Data: Pineapple Press, 2001

My sister recently returned from an anniversary trip to Florida, and brought me back several tomes of Florida hauntings, including this book by Dr. Jack Powell, retired military pediatrician and pediatric cardiologist.

The book is chocked full of fascinating stories from every corner of the Sunshine State, and is organized in easy to digest chapters and  entries for each location.  Dr. Powell seems to write from the heart, and the text is dotted with his own anecdotes, giving the book a very personal touch.

However, honestly, this isn't one of my favorite books of Florida ghost stories.  While there definitely was plenty of great places featured, many of these places didn't seem to have a lot of historical background included.  As an investigator, I love hearing personal experiences, but I also like to hear the history, and see if there is any historical documentation to back up claims.

Overall, I'd recommend this book more to those who just want a good read in scary stories, but to those looking for haunted places in the state of Florida, its still a great read...there are lots of locations to choose from that encourage one to do his/her OWN research, and dig a little deeper into famous locations such as the Don CeSar, Castillo de San Marcos, and many more.

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Strange But True! A Book Review...

Title: Strange But True! Tokens Floating Blue Lights and Ghostly Figures: A Personal Collection of Stories From West Virginia
Author: Forrest Alford
Publisher Data: Wythe North Publishing, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-9801862-3-9

I nearly jumped for joy when I saw this on the shelves at my local Borders' store.  I always love a volume of West Virginia folklore...moreso when it involves ghosts and other paranormal phenomena, and even more so when it deals with a location I know well.  Most of the stories contained in this slender volume take place in Cabell or Mason County.

At barely 36 pages in length, this was a quick read, and exactly what you'd expect from the title.  The stories in general aren't popularly known hot spots, and many cannot honestly be classified as paranormal from a scientific viewpoint.  However, the stories were entertaining, at times a little spooky (especially the Rocky Fork Clown--shudder), and definitely serve as an excellent oral history and showcase of the area's culture.  Reading through the personal anecdotes, such as seeing the blue lights and interpreting different omens, I couldn't help but think of the tales that my grandparents and other relatives have shared with me.  If anything, this book has reminded me that these oral histories must be preserved for future generations, and may have even inspired me to write down my own!

Mr. Alford has several other books out on the subject as well.  For a review of Bear Hollow Tales,  please click the link below!

Bear Hollow Tales Book Review

Book Review: True Findings in the Appalachian Foothills

Title: Southern Ohio Paranormal Investigations:  True Findings in the Appalachian Foothills
Author: Rev. Sindrake Vladnoburke

Being a member of another paranormal investigation team in the area, I'm slightly familiar with SOPI's work, and was very pleased to see them release a book.

I was quite impressed with the stories told in this book...some were downright frightening!  My personal favorite was a tale of a mysterious iron pot, and what it contained.

Unfortunately, I was somewhat confused by the layout of the book, and the identity to who was telling the story.  In reading the title, I assumed that the book would be filled with anecdotes from cases that the team investigated professionally.  Again, as an investigator, its always fun to see current trends in hauntings, share experiences-similar and otherwise, and observe how other teams conduct their business.

However, most of the stories were well over 20 years I assume that perhaps they were personal stories from various SOPI members, assumingly some of which no doubtedly sparked an interest in paranormal investigation?  The Foreward is heavily wrought with mentions of heritage and family, so that makes sense.  I really would have liked to seen current cases covered in addition, but I fully agree that our area's heritage and folklore needs to be preserved and passed down...and ghost lore is a HUGE part of that in this area.

Either way, it was a fun, quick read, and like I've said before, I'm a collector of local ghost lore.  While some minor editing is needed, for the most part the book was well written and engaging.

Book Review: Seeking Spirits

Title: Seeking Spirits: The Lost Cases of the Atlantic Paranormal Society
Authors: Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, with Michael Jan Friedman
Publisher Info: Pocket Books, A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Published September, 2009

This is the second book from the TAPS head guys, and in my opinion, and improvement over the first. This particular work features plenty of the early cases BEFORE the television show, Ghost Hunters, and plenty of cases that never made it on air. Each chapter follows a different case, its impact on the investigators, and a short follow-up where applicable. Highlights include the "lost episode case"---the episode that previewed the week before, but was mysteriously yanked before it aired---and the tragic tale of April, who was the inspiration for the TAPS Family network. Also included is the never before published account of what got Grant interested in the paranormal, how he met Jason, and of course, the early history of TAPS.

In addition to the cases themselves, most chapters conclude with a short piece called the Ghost Hunter's Manual, discussing a popular ghost hunting theory or technique. Sometimes the concept reviewed relates to the attached case study, but often its just a generalized concept. There is also a fairly comprehensive glossary of paranormal jargon you'll likely encounter throughout the book.

First and foremost, this is a book designed for fans of Ghost Hunters and the TAPS crew. However, I believe that ALL investigators and curiosity seekers, no matter what their personal views on the team, can benefit from and relate to this book. It is a journey of two ordinary guys trying to seek their own answers, while offering a little help to others along the way. Mistakes are made...and mistakes are learned from. As an investigator myself, its fun to see how another team operates, and how it got ITS start in the field.

My only real problem with this book is that there are a LOT of cases that are borderline unbelievable. The activity that is witnessed goes well beyond anything you'll see on the show, and well beyond anything I've personally exprienced while out in the field. Outstanding evidence collected from these cases is discussed...but in almost all cases, not available for the public to view or analyze, either due to client confidentiality agreements, or as I had been told by someone close to the source, due to contracts signed with the network. If one is already biased, that particular issue doesn't do the book, nor the authors, any favors.

Still, its a fun, quick read for the armchair researcher to the most die-hard investigator. I wouldn't consider it a ghost hunting manual per se, but a beginner can surely learn a lot from the laid-back, easily comprehensible text.

I'd give it 3/5 stars!

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The Life and Times of a Paranormal Investigator-Book Review

Title: The Life and Times of a Paranormal Investigator, by Joe Clark

I had the pleasure of meeting author Joe Clark, founder of Commonwealth Paranormal, at the 2010 Mothman Festival.  Unfortunately, I was unable to attend his presentation at the State Theater, but did manage to come home with an autographed copy of his book---The Life and Times of a Paranormal Investigator.

As I've said before, I always love reading about the paranormal investigation process through the eyes of other investigators, especially when their base of operations is in my general vicinity!  Joe walks us through some of his more memorable cases, and the incident that sparked his reawakening into the world of the paranormal.  Of particular interest to fellow investigators is Joe's forthcoming approach to sharing the difficulties of group dynamics. 

In many ways, that particular aspect hit home...very rarely is a group completely free of problems, and HPIR has had its share of differing opinions, many of which I personally would NOT be brave enough to bring to the public spotlight.  However, the struggles discussed therein really reinforced how lucky I am to have the group I have--4 years with nearly all founding members still present and active!

All in all, it was enjoyable book, and a very quick, fast-paced read best suited for those who are already in this field and can appreciate what it takes to be a paranormal investigator.  Personally, I would have liked to see the chapters fleshed out a little more, with more history, more detailed investigation analysis, more follow-up, and of, all within the scope of client confidentiality and legal permission, of course.  Still, very enjoyable read for a first book, and I'd recommend picking up a copy today, because in my opinion, there's no better way to kill an hour than to read about MY favorite subject and supporting local authors!

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Book Review-White Things: WV's Weird White Monsters

Title: White Things: West Virginia's Weird White Monsters by Kurt McCoy

This book was the first of two books I picked up at this year's Mothman Festival (2010), and its one I had been wanting for a LONG time.  I first learned of White Things through the WVGhosts message board, where the author is known to roam from time to time--so it was a special treat getting to say "hi!" in person, and pick up an autographed copy of this book.

And...I definitely was NOT disappointed when I got it home and read it, cover to cover in a span of less than 48 hours, which wasn't the easiest task with a small baby and a new job, but I literally couldn't put it down. 

I like to fancy myself a connoisseur of regional paranormal literature, and have amassed quite the collection of books and articles. 

Unfortunately, a lot of that information tends to get repeated over and over quite a bit.  This book was different; although there were several instances that I was familiar with, there were plenty more cases of which I had little to no prior knowledge.  It was like discovering a whole new side of WV oddity!

Constantly throughout the book, however, I found myself realizing just HOW familiar I was with some of the discussion--because I had LIVED it!  With a background in the GHOST side of paranormal investigation and interest, there were plenty of old family stories and personal anecdotes that my perceptions classified with the ghosts...but through the reading, realized that I may have something completely different on my hands.

This book definitely inspired me to get busy documenting some of my own White Thing stories (the white mist that sometimes took on the form of a woman that family claimed was the cancer that would eventually take their lives, the large humanoid shaped white furry thing found in the woods in nearby Lawrence Co. Ohio, and of course the tales of the Albino Killer of Winfield!) before they are forgotten to time forever.

White Things is a must-read for ANY West Virginian, and especially those with an interest in the unknown and uncommon.  Two thumbs WAY up!

Purchase info and Author bio

A Ghostly Guide to West Virginia-Book Review

Here's another book review!

Title: A Ghostly Guide to West Virginia by James Foster Robinson

Readers to my site know how much I love collecting paranormal literature related to the great state of West Virginia, and am an avid supporter of small publications and local authors.  Readers also know that I very rarely have too many negative things to say.  Well, that's about to change, I'm afraid.

The author of this book should really be ashamed.  The grammar and spelling issues go WAY beyond a few typos and syntax issues found in publications without an editor--the problems in this book took it to a whole new level with common counties, towns, and other names being brutally hacked to death in addition to the many, many misspellings of everyday words.  Also, the organization of the book was difficult to follow.  Sometimes haunted locales would be listed by county in one large group...and sometimes they would be independent.  There was no way to easily look up one area of the state and get a concise, full listings of haunted places.

Grammar issues aside, I have a few other complaints with this book as well...

To put it simply, this book was nothing more than an extremely expensive hard copy of a Shadowlands entry for West Virginia.  Going off on a brief tangent, its the Shadowlands listings and similar sites that use a copy and pasting of its entries, that are one of my biggest pet peeves as a Research Manager, lol.  Anyone with a computer can add an entry, and many times, those doing the submitting have very little correct information.  They are simply re-telling urban legends and old stories.  In the event that they ARE submitting a personal experience, it is usually a personal experience that is extremely ambiguous or unbelievable...with little to no way of verification.  Historical and geographical data is often wrong, leading a potential investigator very little to work with.

However, these types of websites I can forgive.  It is impossible for a site owner to verify each submission, and would take too long to look up and correct every single entry, some of which have very little published background information available online.  And...these sites DO serve a purpose.  They offer new investigators plenty of potential hot spots to look into and encourage doing personal research to find out which ones are worthy of an investigation.  They are also an awesome research tool for finding out just what types of legends are common in a local area, and what the general public thinks about certain locales.

I cannot, however, forgive the lack of research done by a supposed professional author who has experience writing in a variety of media.  If you're going to put such a writing in book form and charge money for it, I expect that research be conducted to at least offer accurate information and correct spelling of places.  It is very possible to present a book such as this for what it is...there is a way to combine the fact and the folklore!  This author, however, seems to miss that mark.  End Rant.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Old Barboursville Cemetery

The old Barboursville Cemetery officially dates back to around October 25, 1833, when the first of two tracts of land were given to the town by the Methodist Episcopal Church for use as a school and church.  The second portion was deeded over on July 2, 1838.  Shortly after, the idea for a school and church were scrapped in order to use the land as a cemetery.

The first recorded burial is said to be that of Marie TC Gardner on April 17, 1854.  While this is said to be the first official burial, there is reason to believe that the land had been used as a cemetery as early as 1812, one year before the town of Barboursville was established.  The first grave, believed to be dated about 1812, is said to belong to a member of the Dusenberry family.  Further evidence of the land being used as a cemetery was apparent when the remnants of old, unmarked graves were discovered while digging the newer graves. 

There are also at least 30 slave burial sites in this older area of the cemetery.  The sites were marked with a small foot stone bearing the deceased's initials, but those foot stones have long been removed.
In 1844, the Methodist Church became divided over the issues of slavery, and by the end of the Civil War, the Methodist Episcopal Church was no longer in Barboursville, and most of the original trustees had died out.  As a result, this part of the cemetery became severely neglected.

In 1897, the newer portion of the cemetery began taking burials, and eventually would become the final resting place of many of Barboursville's early prominent families, including the Bumgardners, the Gardners, the Merritt's, the Thornburgs, and many others.  Alvin Davis, a Cabell County representative for the House of Delegates, is also buried here.

By 1950, the entire cemetery was once again in disarray.  The city agreed to take over the deed and take care of it, dubbing it "Old Barboursville Cemetery."  

Huntington Paranormal did a short training investigation at this location in late 2008, and while no evidence was obtained or personal experiences observed, there was one grave in particular that seemed to draw us. 
The grave of Ronald Harshbarger stood in a small fenced off section with several other graves,none of which were family. The grave had sunken in considerably.  After an EVP session at the grave, I went home to do some research on Mr. Harshbarger.  Unfortunately, not much info was available online.  Ronald was born in Barboursville on March 14, 1908, the son of Joseph George and Nellie Harshbarger.  He was married to Mary Gale Housand around 1927 in Kentucky, and together with her, had four children: 1. Mary Frances 2. William Ronald 3. Dennison 4. Jeanine Marie.  Ronald died in Columbus, Ohio on August 25, 1944, and was brought home to Barboursville for burial.  His wife married his brother Elmer, a widower, four years later, and had two more children.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Friday Night Funny...Posted on a Monday!

I missed this week's Friday Night here ya go!  Its another comic strip by my FAVORITE ghostly comic strip writer over at Entities R Us!  Please go over to the website and check 'em out!

Is Sam still Guarding the Red House?

The Red House is an imposing 2.5 story brick structure located in Eleanor, WV.  The original structure was built around 1840 by the Ruffner family, but there is reason to believe that the house may have actually been built as early as 1825.  The house, with its converted slave quarters and North and South Wings added by the Federal Government during the 1930s, now is home to the Eleanor Town Hall offices.  The right (North) wing, serves as the town hall section, while the left wing (South) serves as the Homestead Room, available for rent for parties, meetings, etc.  The original middle section of the house is being readied for a future museum dedicated to its New Deal Homestead history.

The town of Eleanor took possession of the Red House, or Ruffner House as its commonly called, in January of 2001.  Earliest records from the Eleanor town website say that the structure was home to the Samuel Earl Gibeaut family in the 1890s.  In the 1920s, it was owned by Frank Fitzsimmons, then passed to his brother Chris and family.  While Chris and his family briefly moved out of state, a family of Boldens lived in the Red House.  Chris returned to the home, and then sometime it was acquired by the C.H. King family.  C.H. King and his wife Ruth had a large family and farmed the land.  The King family was living on the property at the time of the New Deal, and the home was acquired by the Federal Government.  In 1946, the government deeded the title over to the Washington Homesteads for use as an administration building, and later, it came into possession of Dr. Lyle Moser.

With a long and somewhat incomplete history as to ownership of the house, legends of this structure abound.  One legend states that a slave was murdered on the uppermost staircase landing.  Another legend states that tunnels run from the house to the nearby Kanawha River, as part of an Underground Railroad stop.  To date, evidence of such tunnnels has never been found.  However, one legend DOES seem to make itself known to employees and visitors.  That legend is the ghostly overseer, protector, or guardian angel of the Red House.  Employees have dubbed him "Sam," and say that Sam likes to be heard, but not seen.

In recent years, however, it appears as if Sam, or perhaps some other resident ghost, DOES like to be seen!  Eleanor citizens walking along the town's sidewalks past dusk have been reporting seeing a man standing in one of the upper windows of the Red House.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Blennerhassett Museum-History and Haunts

The Blennerhassett Museum of Regional History is located on the corner of Second and Juliana Streets in downtown Parkersburg, WV.  The four story brick building was built in 1902 by the Starr Grocer Company as warehouse and office space.  Starr Grocer expanded the building to double its size in the 1920s, but unfortunately, went out of business in the 1940s.  In 1947, the building was purchased by Guthrie-Morries Campbell Company, who sold it to the Blennerhassett Historical Park Commission.

The museum opened to the public on April 30th, 1986, and features three floors of Native American artifacts, antique furniture and jewelry, artifacts dealing with the Blennerhassett Family and Blennerhassett Island, and a treasure trove of other historical goodies pertaining to the history of the Parkersburg area.  When visiting the museum in late spring of this year, I was amazed at just how much stuff was crammed into this museum!  I could have spent all day browsing, but we had to catch the boat to the island.  We did, however, get to enjoy the Thomas Stahle Native American collection, and my personal favorites: the third floor displays of the mourning jewelry and 19th/early 20th Century wedding gowns.

Unfortunately, what we DIDN'T get to see were the two ghosts alleged to roam the third floor of the building!  According to A Guide to Haunted West Virginia (Gavenda and Shoemaker), a man in a straw hat, along with a larger lady with a fondness for the color scarlet, are both seen on this floor.  Are they former residents or employees of the building itself...or are they somehow attached to one of the many artifacts located in the building?

Building History/Museum Info

Theresa and the Haunted Gas Station!

In the fall of 2001, I worked my second job a Sandwich Artist for the newly opened Subway, located in the former Chevron gas station at the junction of Rt. 34 and old Rt. 35 (now 817) in Winfield.

First, there were little things happening that were kind of odd.  I'd be in the restaurant section, and see who I thought was one of the gas station employees coming around the corner.  I'd look again, and no one would be there.  When entering the cooler to restock or store meats, cheeses, and veggies, I'd often feel as if someone was pulling on my ponytail...right as I entered the cooler (which we actually shared with the gas station...our food was right beside where you opened up the doors to get your milk, lol).  It wasn't the tug of getting my hair caught on the door frame or something...although I certainly checked and ruled that out--it was more of a very sharp, deliberate tug.   In another incident, I returned after work to my locked car, parked right out front, only to find that although it was still locked, my seat had been pushed back ALL the way, and the radio, which was turned up as loud as it could go, was switched to a country station--something that I would NEVER have listened to.

Finally, one evening I had a very surreal experience that made me seek out the opinion of other employees.  I was at the large triple sink washing dishes one evening shortly before closing time.  I had my head bent down, concentrating on my work, when I felt someone come up behind me.  I could feel them pressing up against my back, breathing on my neck, and even SEE two male hands on either side of me, resting against the sink.  It was if someone had come up behind me and given me a bear hug.  I whipped around quickly to playfully smack the gas station employee who I thought was messing with me...and punched through thin air.  As I stood there dazed, I noticed the gas station employee standing at the register, waiting on a customer...

When I started inquiring into whether or not anyone else had similar experience, I learned that quite a few people had.  They'd often see the same man I was seeing walking around the corner.  Gas pumps would indicate that someone was trying to use them, but there would be no one in the lot or surrounding areas.  Other odd things would happen sporadically, but it seemed like most of the activity concentrated on the office area...located right beside where I had my experience with the sink, and on the other side of the cooler.

As to who the ghostly presence was, theories abounded.  It was suggested that it could either be the spirit of someone who once lived on the land where the gas station stood...but I personally believe it had more to do with one of several fatal traffic accidents that occurred at the junction in a short period of time.  Today, the building is sitting empty...perhaps one day someone will once again occupy the building and find out if our phantom friend is still harassing girls with long hair.

Mystic Manor

With a name like Mystic Manor, you'd EXPECT to find a ghost or two!  Mystic Manor is a bed and breakfast located along the North Bend Rails to Trails section of the National Discovery Rails to Trails system.  It's in Pennsboro, Ritchie County and is a popular spot for both hunters and fishermen to the area.

The house was built in 1900 and was known as the "house of the future" because it was the first in the area to have electricity, hot and cold running water, and bathrooms.  It was also made to be fireproof, built with brick, stucco, and a terra-cotta roof.

Due to financial problems, the original owners would eventually lose the house, and it would sit empty between 1931 and 1940, when the local mayor purchased it and rented it out as a tourist home.  During this time, many celebrities, including Minnie Pearl, stayed at the Manor and even then, it was known as the "haunted house."  Again, the house sat vacant between 1962 and 1996 before it became the wonderful bed and breakfast it is today!

There are at least two ghosts that are said to make their presence known here.  The first is Tress, a previous owner of the home who died in 1956.  Although unable to find any "Tress" in the state archives, I did find a Theresa Hogue, wife of James Hogue, who died in Pennsboro in 1956, but haven't been able to connect her to the house yet.  In any event, Tress is a nurturing presence, but she does have strong opinions about the inn's decor.  In one particular incident, she was responsible for pulling the purple candles out of their holders in the dining room and lying them on the table.  She is sometimes seen near the main staircase.

The second entity is a plumber named Rex who met his demise through a fall down the west wing stairs in 1952.  Rex stays away from the guest areas, so he is usually only experienced by staff, manifesting most often by causing ashtrays to explode and glasses to shatter.

WV Paranormal 57 has investigated this location, and has posted several pictures that they believe are paranormal, and most likely attributed to Rex.  Check out their website for more info!

Theresa's Note:  The majority of the information above has come from Haunted Inns of America, by Ghost Stalkers Terry L. Smith and Mark Jean.  A big thanks to these authors because there has been next to no information on Mystic Manor anywhere online!  I still can't find a photo of the exterior of this location, so if you have one you're willing to share, please contact me!

**Did you know you can follow Theresa's Haunted History on FaceBook?**

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Shepherdstown's Historic Carriage House Cafe

The historic Carriage House Cafe and Tea Room was built in 1900 as a repair and construction shop servicing horse-drawn carriages.  Over the years, the space has been home to an interior decorator, a mortgage lender, and an artist...all of who strived to maintain the historical integrity of the building over the years. 

Opening in November of 2007, the Carriage House Cafe offers excellent lunch specials, and traditional English high tea service.  Each month, a different artist is featured in the cafe's gallery spaces.  In addition to good food and good art, the owners, Robert Myers and Carolyn Robel-Litack, also claim that a resident ghost is included in the experience!  Apparently, the ghost of a former occupant of the Carriage House has decided to stick around.  If you've had an experience with, or have more information on this ghostly resident, I'd love to hear it!


Photo property of Steven Lee Douglas, who runs an excellent blog!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Different Kind of Ouija defines divination as an attempt to foretell the future (or discover occult knowledge) through interpreting omens/using paranormal powers.  There are many types of divination practices...some of which end with "mancy."  "-Mancy" comes from the Greek word manteia, meaning simply, divination.

One interesting form of divination is known as alectromancy/alectryomancy. which in short, is letting a chicken choose from a selection of wheat grains.

When the Sun or Moon is in Aries or Leo, a magical cock is selected and a circle is drawn.  The circle is sectioned off, with one letter of the alphabet written in each section.   In each section of the circle, a grain of wheat is placed, and the cock is set loose.  A magical incantation is recited as the cock roams the circle.  The order in which the cock eats the grains will spell out the answer to any question previously posed.

It is said that the sorcerer Lamblicus employed this method of divination to predict the successor to Valens Caesar in Rome.  The cock in question spelled out only four letters:  T-H-E-O.  Consequently, thousands with this sequence of letters in their name were killed.

The illustration above shows 19th century Russian peasants involved in the art of alectromancy.

Henry Young Rides On

The following story is copied from Witches Ghosts and Signs, by Patrick W. Gainer.  It is another example of my efforts to further document and share the rich folklore and haunted history of the tri-state area:


This story is well known among the people who live in and around Birch River, a village at the foot of Powell Mountain in Nicholas County.  In recent years the road over the mountain has been relocated and modernized, and the ghost of the headless horseman is seen no more.

The story was told to me [author, Patrick Gainer] by Sylvia Cox, a student in my class at Glenville State College.

Out on the top of Powell Mountain in Nicholas County there is a lonely grave.  It is the final resting place of Henry Young, a young man who was killed by the "home guard" during the Civil War.  During the Civil War civilians sometimes organized into groups who called themselves the "Home Guard."  Their purpose was supposed to be to protect their homes against the ravages of enemy soldiers, but some of them were in reality nothing more than guerilla bands of outlaws.  It was such a group that murdered Henry Young.

A lonely road, now seldom used, winds down the hill from the grave.  Part way down the hill there is a huge rock, which in days of old made a fine camping spot for people who came from miles away to gather chestnuts in the fall.  First can be heard the clanking of chains which bound him, then as the shadowy outline of horse and rider come into view, one notices that the rider has no head.  Closer they come, and out of the night emerges the headless horseman, carrying his head in his lap.  He does not stop, and he bothers no one.  He does not even so much as move the head in his lap to right or left, but he passes on down the trail to emerge again the following night just at midnight.

A little research into this tale does confirm that a Henry Young of Powell's Mountain was shot and killed at this location.  Henry Young, son of Bazel and Agnes Nancy Pierson Young, was born 20 January 1827 in Nicholas County.  On 27 September 1847, Henry married Lucinda James.  A daughter, Sarah Jane, was born on October 12, 1859.

Henry Young was shot and killed by Federal soldiers on September 8, 1861 on Powell's Mountain, about five miles from the Braxton County Line.  He was buried several days later near where he was slain.  It is said that the citizens waited several days because they were afraid of an ambush by Federal soldiers if the body was retrieved.  A story passed down from the Young family states that it was a member of the Young family, a cousin named David Young, who actually buried the body where it lay, as he had no help to get it to the cemetery.  This interview with David Young's descendants also shed some additional information as to what happened that day.

Henry Young and four other young men were sent out to scout how many men Gen. Rosencrans was bringing.  Young went on ahead, and was overtaken by the Union soldiers.  He stepped out from behind a tree, sacrificing himself, so that the other four men would hear the shots, and be able to retreat in time.

For 36 years, Young's grave had no marker.  Then, in 1897, family members decided to erect a fitting monument.  In 1963, Carl Wilson partook in the excavation of the Young grave, finding that Young had indeed been shot in the front of his head, and through the cheek.  Road construction, completed in 1970, had called for the reburial of Henry Young.  There is now a state Historical Highways Marker to commemorate Young's sacrifice.

More Info

Preserving the Past-Shingleton House

As part of Theresa's Haunted History of the Tri-State's ongoing efforts to preserve WV's haunted history and folklore, today's blog will be a little different.  The following story is from the pages of a July 1977 (Volume 19, Number 1) edition of the West Virginia Folklore Journal.  This story was submittd by Vernon Giffin, former Fairmont State College student, of Keyser, West Virginia.


At the north end of Armstrong Street extension in Keyser, WV, stands an old two-story, rambling stone house.  This house as used as a prison both by the North and the South, during the Civil War.  At one time, three Northern prisoners were in one of the small cells.  They pried off a piece of roof and hoped to make their escape.  The Southern guards discovered them.  They were given no chance at all, as the guards opened fire, killing all three.  The room was literally smeared with blood from the Union soldiers.

After the war was over this jail or prison was converted into a private dwelling.  From that time (the time it was converted) until about 10 years ago, the owners could not keep the roof on that room.  It would always come off at least once a year at the same place, every time.  But about ten years ago, a family bought the property and had a lot of repair work done.  Now the old stone house seems to rest in peace, at last, for the roof gives this family no more trouble.

The house in question is undoubtedly the Shingleton House, shown above in a 1927 postcard.  Today, the house is still standing, and is known locally as the Old Stone House, and is owned by the Mineral County Historical Foundation.  The Old Stone House was built sometime between 1810 and 1815 by Edward McCarty.

A Guide to Haunted West Virginia offers the above version of this story, as long as another version of the tale, involving the murder of seven Confederate soldiers.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Huntington's Own Urban Legend

Ask anyone about the tale of the vanishing hitchhiker, and they can cite you a dozen instances for a dozen cities.  Ever since there has been transportation, there has been the tales of the vanishing hitchhikers.  As far as urban legends go, this one is at the top of my list...the quintessential ghost story of a phantom hitchhiker who disappears before being dropped off at her destination.  She may have gone from hailing horse-drawn carriages to automobiles, but her plight is still as prevalent as it ever was.

While many people have heard these stories passed around for years, not many people are aware that Huntington, WV has its OWN version of the timeless classic occuring on Fifth Street Hill, a main thoroughfare between Huntington and Wayne County.  The young girl only appears late at night, after midnight, and always when the weather is rainy and dreary. She's always waiting at the top of the hill, thumbing a ride down. 

The first published account of this tale comes from an October 30th, 1942 newspaper article, in which a Black and White Cab driver tells of his eerie encounter.  Around 4:30am, the driver dropped off a fare at a dance hall, and was making his way back into Huntington, when he was hailed by a young woman wearing nothing but a thin blouse and skirt, despite the chilly weather.  He picked her up, and when asked about her lack of a coat, the young lady replied that she hadn't worn a coat for 9-10 years.  She asked to b dropped off at the bottom of the hill, and when they arrived, the driver noticed the woman was missing from the cab.

The driver came back to the garage to complain to his supervisor about being cheated a quarter's fare...what he got was the shock of hearing that the supervisor had also known drivers from another cab company, Yellow Cab, to have had the exact same experience.  In fact, one driver from that company had the experienc just a year prior.

A second newspaper article reported on the story in November of 1958, and reported that the phantom hitchhiker was still around, scaring up cab drivers, as well as bus drivers who picked her up.  This particular article expanded on the backstory of the ghostly girl's existence.  Apparently, a Huntington couple had taken their daughter and her fiance to Wayne to be married.  All went well, but on the drive home, the rain started falling, making the road quite slick.  At the area where Fifth Street meets the boulevard, right before the bridge, the car turned over, killing the new bride.

More recent interviews with the current Yellow Cab operation have resulted in drivers being familiar with the story, but no reports of anyone picking up the phantom hitchhiker.  Perhaps she finally made her way home?

More information available in Joseph Plantania's Huntington Quarterly article

Update Summer 2012:  While the tale of the lonely bride of 5th Street Hill is tragic enough, there is another terrible story that hails from this area, concerning a young boy who was tragically shot by a playmate.  I've transcribed the article concerning the shooting HERE, and you can find out this location has had an impact on the haunted history in Theresa's new book, Haunted Huntington, Volume 1!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Red, White, and BOO!

Happy 4th of July from Theresa's Haunted History of the Tri-State!  Today, I'll be sharing a patriotic ghost story from the Civil War.

The Battle of Gettysburg was fought 148 years ago...July 1st through 3rd, 1863.  We all know how famous Gettysburg is for its Civil War ghosts, but did you know that the father of our country (in spirit form), George Washington, is said to have played an integral role in the battle?

The 20th Maine Division, under command by Col. Joshua Chamberlain, claims to have seen the phantom of our country's first president that July day...despite the fact that he had been dead since 1799.  While versions of the tale vary, the basic story is that the division, low on supplies, and confused as to which fork in the path to take, was about to give up hope.  Low on morale as well as the supplies, the men claim a figure in a tri-corner hat, riding atop a white stallion appeared before them and led them to a strategic point on Little Round Top.  The man, who was initially thought to have been a Union commander, was said to have given off a faint glow.  Many men later recalled that the strange glowing man resembled paintings they had seen of George Washington.

The man, still emitting his eerie glow, raised his flaming sword and yelled "Fix bayonets!  Charge!" and led the men down the hill, straight at Confederate troops.  The Confederate troops withdrew, and ultimately, the battle was a victory for the Union.  Secretary of War Stanton investigated the incident only to find all men held fast to their strange tell, including Chamberlain.  To this day, residents and visitors of Gettysburg still claim to see the phantom rider, galloping across the field.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Canada Day!

Today is Canada Day, so a big Happy Canada Day to all my northern readers!  In honor of this event, Theresa's Haunted History is featuring the first ever international ghost story to be posted...coming straight out of Vancouver, B.C.  Happy reading!

The Old Spaghetti Factory, a popular local eatery, opened its doors to the public in March of 1970.  Throughout its history, the Old Spaghetti Factory has done more than host scores of hungry has acquired two very distinct spectral guests as well.

The first ghost of the restaurant is known as the Train Conductor.  This shadowy gentleman, seen in full train conductor uniform, is often seen sitting at the same dining table.  This dining table just happens to be located inside the Number 53 trolley car, an antique car built in 1904 and owned by the B.C. Electric Railway Company.  When the restaurant opened, it was decorated with an antique theme, and the decommissioned trolley was installed as a centerpiece.  During its installation, however, a photo was taken of the car, distinctly showing a shadowy man entering the car.  The conductor is often blamed for cold spots, and the occasional severe bending of cutlery.

The second ghost is also a mischevious lil' devil...literally.  Known as "Little Red Man," this pint-sized phantom is described as having bright red hair and a ruddy face.  He likes to call people by their names, and hang out in the kitchen area, but he's most noted for scaring patrons who visit the ladies' restroom.  Two such ladies described a short little man who came in the restroom wearing a red shirt.  He laughed, and ran out the door.  An attempted photo of the little man resulted in nothing but a blur on the film.

Lord Combermere's Ghost

Lord Combermere, the 2nd Viscount Combermere, was born Colonel Wellington Henry Stapleton-Cotton on November 24, 1818.  Lord Combermere died on December 1, 1891 after being struck by a horse-drawn carriage.

While Lord Combermere's funeral was taking place about four miles away, Sybell Corbett, Combermere's wife's sister, set up a camera in the library of the Combermere home---a former monastery in Cheshire, England, now known as Combermere Abbey). The camera was set up for an exposure time of approximately one hour.  According to a butler for the family, no one entered the library during this time period, and very few people were even IN the home, as many were attending the funeral.

However, when the photo was developed, the image of a man seated in Lord Combermere's favorite chair was clearly visible.  Those viewing the photo at the time commented on the image's likeness to Lord Combermere himself, and thus believed that he must have come back to relax in his library one last time.  Still, others hold fast to the idea that a servant or guest must have wandered into the shot, sat for a few minutes, and then got back up...only to be partially captured by the long exposure time.

To this day, the photo has not been fully debunked, although the above-mentioned theory, plus several others have been explored and debated.  Whether or not this photo is a real example of spirit photography, it is interesting to note that Lord Combermere's father, the 1st Viscount Combermere is famous for his own connection to the paranormal field, playing a part in the Moving Coffins of Barbados phenomenon.