Thursday, September 29, 2011

West Virginia's State Capitol Building

West Virginia can easily claim to be the state with the most capitals and capitol buildings; since becoming a state in 1863, our state capital has switched between Wheeling and Charleston, suffering several devastating fires, before finally finding a permanent home  located in the East End of Charleston.

The current WV capitol building was designed by architect Cass Gilbert and was officially dedicated by Governor William Conley on June 20, 1932.  The massive gold-domed, limestone structure is said to have no less than two ghostly apparitions to walk its marble halls.  One of these is a woman, while the other is said to be a maintenance man who died of a heart attack while on duty.

A second theory is that these two specters are the apparitions of two people who perished in the 1921 capitol fire.  This theory, discussed in James Foster Robinson's book, doesn't make much sense.  To begin with, the two people who perished in the 1921 fire were both men, both suffering life-threatening injuries from the roof collapse.  Secondly, the capitol that burned to the ground in 1921 was NOT located on the present capitol grounds.  The 1921 capitol was located on Capitol Street, in what is the heart of downtown Charleston.

If you're in the Charleston area, stop by to see government in action, and take a tour of our architecturally unique capitol complex.  Keep an eye out for maintence personnel, however....they may not be who they seem!

UPDATE:  February 2012-Once again, HPIR was onsite at the capitol for History Day at the Legislature, promoting the Haunted and Historic Guyandotte Tours!  We were fortunate enough to have gotten a first hand account of the specter that roams the halls of the massive building.  A member of the janitorial staff with 15 years experience had his OWN ghostly experience one morning.  Early one morning he was tidying up an office, located on the second floor House of Delegates Finance Hall.  This was normal routine; his staff would come in during the wee hours of the morning before the delegates, or anyone else for that matter, was due in the building.  On this particular morning, he saw a figure of a person walk by the glass door of the office that was being cleaned.  Knowing that no one should be in that section of the building at that time, our source immediately went to investigate, but found no one in the area. 

Before leaving the capitol, HPIR went to inspect this hallway, and indeed found where the sighting was said to have occured.  We believe that it is possible that the employee we spoke with may have seen our phantom maintenance man as he passed by a certain office (name withheld) on his way to the "electric shaft" closet.

UPDATE: February 2013-Another History Day is behind us and we used the opportunity to explore the mystery of the Suicide Stain, discussed below in the comments!  You can find out more about this unique mystery HERE!

Links of Interest:
Lots of historical photos from the 1921 fire and "pasteboard capitol."
Capitol Facts

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Ghosts of Berkeley Castle

In the northern panhandle of West Virginia, one can find a most curious oddity:  a replica 1/2 scale Norman castle.  The castle was built in 1885 by Colonel Samuel Taylor Suit and modeled after the REAL Berkeley Castle in Bath, England, which was home to Virginia's 3rd colonial governor, William Berkeley.

Suit had been from a wealthy business family, and had fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War.  At the age of 46, he met and fell in love with the 17 year old Rosa Pelham, daughter of Congressman Charles Pelham.  Rosa agreed to marry Suit only if he'd build her a castle.

Construction on Berkeley Castle began and the two were wed shortly thereafter.  A total of three children were the result of the marriage, including two sons and a daughter.  The daughter died of illness in her teen years.  Unfortunately, Colonel Suit passed away before the construction of the castle was complete, and stipulated in his will that Rosa could not inherit his fortune unless she completed the construction.  Of course...she did.  The castle cost an estimated $100,000 at the time to complete.

The castle became a hub of social activity, with Rosa hosting parties that lasted from sun-up to sun-down on a regular basis.  These lavish parties eventually led to financial ruin by the time Rosa was in her 50s.  She took a mortgage out on the castle, but still lost ownership after failure to pay a mere $4,000.

It was purchased in 1954 by Walter Bird, who restored it, and filled it with antiques, as most of the original furnishings had been sold off.  Today, it is open to the public and again hosts many parties, including weddings and wedding receptions.  It is also host to a wide array of paranormal activity.  Phantom footsteps and the laughter of children are routinely heard, as are loud crashes that seem to come from upstairs.  When staff checks, they find nothing disturbed.  Furniture is also moved around fairly regularly by unseen hands.

The most haunted room in the castle is said to be the second floor combination office/drawing room.  In this room in 1993, several witnesses claimed to have seen a quill pen raise itself up, and twirl around.  The witnesses then fled in terror.  Another rather odd incident involves mysterious power failures.  These power failures only seem to happen in the middle of wedding CEREMONIES, not the receptions or other events.  Is someone or something trying to warn the couple?  Perhaps there's a reason why....

A rumor surrounding the castle tells that the Colonel actually died of mysterious circumstances.  It is believed that right after he changed his will to leave everything to Rosa, Rosa managed to poison him.  Two of Rosa's lovers also suffered mysterious deaths.  The first died as a result of falling onto the tip of Rosa's parasol as the two struggled on a staircase.  A later lover mysteriously fell off the roof.

Do Rosa's former lovers and husband still walk the halls of this lavish estate, trying to make their stories heard....or does Rosa herself feel doomed to walk for enternity the halls she so desperately desired in life?

Berkeley Castle Homepage, with more info on the history and the hauntings

Parkersburg's Boreman Wheel House

Now a popular restaurant sitting on Avery Street, the Boreman Wheel House was built for the daughter of WV's first governor, Arthur I. Boreman.  Boreman himself owned a home directly across from the Boreman Wheel House, but it was torn down in the 1970s, leaving in its place a parking lot.  Boreman, who was elected governor in 1863, died in 1896, survived by two daughters, Maud and Lorraine.

Situated to the side of the Wheel House is another building, this one having been used as a hospital during the Civil War.  It is believed that the soldiers who died at this hospital have somehow managed to find their way next door to the Wheel House, possibly tempted by another type of "spirit."  During their stay at the hospital, many soldiers became addicted to alcohol as a pain reliever...and may still be seeking that relief to this day.

Witnesses at the Wheel House claim that expensive wine glasses will roll out of their shelving and shatter to the floor.  Bottles of wine have even gone missing from upstairs, only to be found in the basement area.  Other reports of activity include hearing phantom voices and whispers, and phantom footsteps on the wooden floors.  Orbs are often photographed in the attic area, but the most substantial report comes from the basement once again.  Two ghost hunters conducting an investigation at the location witnessed the full bodied apparition of a light haired man standing behind the bar area.  The man spoke aloud a cheery "Hello!" before dissipating before their eyes.

This site is included on the Haunted Parkersburg Ghost Tours, which I HIGHLY recommend!

Interviewing a Witness

Part of my responsibilities as HPIR's Historical Research Manager is to do the in-depth, formal interviews of our clients during residential cases.  This part of the job is rarely boring, and is extremely vital to the investigation.  A good interview with the right questions and the right research can lead the investigation down the path it needs to go in, ensuring that we're doing what is best for the client, but also ensuring the best possible outcomes for probable evidence collection and verification.

The tips below aren't really layed out in any specific order.  They came from what I believe was originally a question posed on a message board on how to conduct interviews.  While not completely comprehensive by any means, this collection of my personal tips should come in handy to new investigators!

*When interviewing a client, its always good to obtain permission to video tape or at least run a voice recorder....this will help in fact checking later on, in case you missed something while taking notes, and also another opportunity to gain EVP evidence. We've found that entities sometimes like to chime in when a person is being interviewed! You may also just want to have other equipment easily available in case something starts going on...a camera, emf meter, etc.

*Make the client as comfortable as possible and establish rapport.  It is okay to make small talk, but don't go on and on about yourself or your own paranormal issues.  Find common ground, but don't blab your life story or anything that will effect the outcome of the interview--you want to remain an unbiased and objective documenter, but still maintain a level of empathy.  Also, choose a time and location free of outside distractions.  Due to time constraints, most of our formal interviews occur shortly before the actual investigation, on location--pick a place away from where the set-up and such is going on.  Allow plenty of time to complete the interview thoroughly.  I always like to have a beverage if the client so wishes, especially if there is a LOT of talking, extra batteries for my recorder, extra pens, plenty of notebook space, cough drops and tissues easily at my disposal.

* Interview witnesses independently of each other, so that they aren't feeding off each other's stories. If interviewing a child (ANYONE under 18), always gain parental permission, and choose your words, tone, and questions carefully, and be prepared for a short attention span. Sometimes providing crayons and paper and having the child DRAW what they've seen or experienced is most beneficial. If the parent wishes to be present during the interview, brief the parent beforehand to not coach or coerce the child during the interview.

*Be careful not to ask leading questions. It's okay to urge a client on for more details, but be careful about putting words into their own mouths. Save your analysis and input for later. Be empathetic, but don't make any judgments about whether or not there is a paranormal issue or not at this point.

*Use tact and tread lightly....but be as thorough as possible. Many touchy subjects such as health issues, drug/alcohol abuse, domestic violence/family problems, and religious beliefs DO play a huge role in what the client is experiencing and how he or she is perceiving such events. Reiterate that any information obtained will be kept strictly confidential, and is only being obtained to ensure that the best possible plan is put into place to help them.

*Make sure you have several ways of contacting the client. I've never experienced it personally, but you always hear of stories where "something" tries to interfere with an investigation and make contact very hard...always try to get at least 2 phone numbers, a mailing address, and an email address if applicable.  Also make sure your client has several ways to contact YOU as well.  Always bring plenty of business cards.

*You should never interview a client completely by yourself. Someone else should always be with you, and if that isn't feasible, the initial interview should be conducted in a relatively public place. You'll never know when a mentally unstable client will become violent or irrational....or even need medical attention. Plus, its always nice to have another set of eyes and ears.

*Pay attention to body language.  There are some sites listed below that can help you determine if a person is being untruthful, but remember your best complement to a good interview is good research and fact checking.

*There are numerous resources, both online and in print, that outline ideas for possible interview questions. Those are great, but try to tailor your questions to fit that particular case as well.  I'll be posting my personal outline of questions in the near future.  Pre-investigation questionnaires are also great to get the basics and contact info, and determine whether or not a case should be considered, but more formal and thorough interviewing is always required later on.

EXCELLENT article from Southwest Ghost Hunters Association on Interviewing Witnesses

Article on how to read body language

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Ghost of Boot Hill Cemetery

Boot Hill Cemetery was established in Tombstone, Arizona around 1879 and was closed in 1884 when a new city cemetery was opened.  Before it closed, however, it saw the burials of approximately 300 persons, many who died tragically and unexpectedly, or with their "boots on."  After its official closure, a few outlaws, among others, were allowed to be buried there.  Today, it is a tourist hot spot, not only for visitors interested in seeing the graves of three men killed at the OK Corral, but for those wanting a more ethereal experience as well.

In 1996 Terry Ike Clanton, descendant of the Clanton Gang, was visiting the cemetery with a friend--a man named Kelly who lived Southern California.  Clanton took the man's photo dressed in full 1880s western garb against a backdrop of the beautiful mountains. He positioned Kelly to the left of the photo in order to get a better view of the mountains, and shot with black and white film for a more authentic feel.

When the film was developed, what appeared to be a gentleman wearing a black hat appeared in the background.  The cemetery was overgrown, giving the phantom in the background the appearance of a man kneeling, having no legs, or perhaps...even rising from the grave.  Upon studying the photo, many believe that the phantom is holding a knife, the blade of which comes right up under the man's collar.

The negatives for the film have shown no tampering, and many psychics who have examined the photo believe that the "extra" in it is more accurately dressed as someone from the 1920s or 30s.  To this day, the photo has yet to be successfully debunked, despite countless recreations, some conducted by the owner of the photo himself.  The photo has even appeared on a recent episode of Ghost Lab.

Mr. Clanton runs the Tombstone Arizona website that links to many interviews and television appearances.

Wrong Email Address!

Here's another edition of a Friday Night Funny being posted on a Tuesday, lol.  Oh well.  I was recently having a conversation with someone about phantom phone calls from the dead.  Surely, in this day and age, the dead can now send emails, right?  Enjoy---This is one of my favorites!

A Minneapolis couple decided to go to Florida to thaw out during a particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier. Because of hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their travel plans. So, the husband left Minnesota and flew to Florida on Thursday, with his wife flying down the following day.

The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an email to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter in her email address, and without realizing his error, sent the email.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston, a widow had just returned home from her husband's funeral. He was a minister who was called home to glory following a heart attack. The widow decided to check her email expecting messages from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she screamed and fainted. The widow's son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read:

To: My loving wife

Subject: I've arrived

I know you're surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you are allowed to send emails to your loved ones. I've just arrived and have been checked in. I see that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then. Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.

P.S. sure is freaking hot down here!!!!

Tulip Staircase Ghost

On June 19th, 1966 retired Rev. Ralph Hardy and his wife were on vacation in Greenwich, England.  They were touring the Queen's House section of the National Maritime Museum and Mrs. Hardy, spotting the famous Tulip Staircase, wanted a recreation photo of it that she had recently seen in a magazine.  As the actual staircase and landing above (where the photo was taken) were cordoned off by museum staff, Rev. Hardy took a photo from UNDER the staircase with his camera, a Zeiss Icon Contina-Prontor S V S Zavar Anastigmat lens, 1:3.5f=45mm, with skylight auxilary haze filter.  He used Kodak Kodachrome X 35mm color film, speed 64.  No flash was used.

When the Hardy's arrived home to White Rock, British Columbia, and had their vacation photos developed, they were surprised to see what appeared to be a figure on the staircase, with its hands on the railing, and head down as if in mourning.  Some believe there may also be a second figure resting against the railing as well.

The Hardy's immediately contacted England's Ghost Club about the photos.  A member, one Mr. Hector McQueen, had a cousin who lived in British Columbia, who acted as a liasion between the Hardy's and the Ghost Club.  The negatives were sent to the Ghost Club, including the photos immediately prior and immediately following the "ghost photo."  In turn, the Ghost Club sent the negatives to Kodak laboratories, who determined that the film was NOT tampered with in any way.

The following year, the Hardy's returned to England, where they were extensively interviewed by Mr. McQueen.  Details pertaining the camera and film used, as well as positioning and weather (it was fair but cloudy around 5pm when the photo was taken) were discussed and verified.  The details of this interview can be found in The Ghost Hunter's Guide by Peter Underwood (1986). 

On June 24, 1967 the Ghost Club conducted its own seance and investigation of the building under strict supervision of the museum.  They did manage to capture on audio what sounded like footsteps on the Tulip Staircase, but nothing of real note.

However, over the years, the building has had its fair share of ghostly reports, many of which do seem to focus on the Tulip Staircase.  Figures have been spotting on the staircase, as well as visitors and staff hearing the sounds of footsteps on the stairs.  Perhaps the most intriguing sighting could account for the phantom photo...a pale woman is seen mopping up a puddle of blood at the bottom of the staircase.  It is said that around 300 years ago, a maid was thrown off the top of staircase, where she landed 50 feet below to her death.  Another lady's apparition has also been seen in the area, one wearing a gray crinoline dress.  The sounds of children chanting have been heard, and tourists have been pinched by unseen fingers.

This link has some awesome information on the history of the building, and some additional details on the photo and hauntings:  Mysterious Britain and Ireland

Monday, September 19, 2011

Seneca Caverns

Seneca Caverns are located in Pendleton County, West Virginia.  First used in the 1400s by the Seneca tribe, they were later rediscovered in 1742 by Laven Teter, a German immigrant who was searching for water for his livestock.  The caves stayed in the Teter family until 1928.  Two years later, the caverns were opened up as a tourist attraction, where one can now still tour...and see the world's largest ribbon stalactite!

One may also experience an array of paranormal activity...

Tour guides, additional staff, and guests alike have all had run-ins with several different phenomena.  One such example is what appear to be baseball sized balls of light, or orbs, that can be seen with the naked eye, bouncing and zipping along the caverns.  These lights are most often seen in what is known as the Council Room, an area where the Seneca are said to have had their meetings and ceremonies.  People also report the flickering of the man-made light sources, as well as doors that will slam as they are approached.  However, the prolific hauntings seem to be that of a phantom tour!  Many tour guides, maintenance personnel, and others, have been in the cave and have heard the sounds of an approaching tour...footsteps, talking, laughing...the normal sounds of a group making its way through the tourist attraction.  However, the tour never arrives.  Some have theorized that this is simply a play of acoustics in the massive cave system.  Unfortunately, to those who have witnessed this phenomena when there have been NO tours in the cave that day, this theory simply does not hold up.

Seneca Caverns Website

10th Annual Mothman Festival!

On Saturday, I took a day off from work and made my annual pilgrimage to the Mothman Festival in Pt. Pleasant, WV.  Being only 25-30 minutes or so away from Pt. Pleasant, it was a trip I've made often, but there's just something almost magical about the mid-September gathering of paranormal and crypto-enthusiasts!  HPIR chose once again not to set up a booth, so Aaron and I were free to do a little exploring of our own.

Time was limited with the wee one, but we managed to fit in another tour of the historic Lowe Hotel, visit the only Mothman Museum in the world, and explore the newly re-opened TNT area.  We even managed to catch part of the annual Miss Mothman Pageant, which Luke enjoyed, since he could watch the boats go by in the background.  Luke found a little plush Mothman inside an egg that he loved, and Mommy found several books and FATE magazines, being sold none other than Rosemary Guiley herself. Jeff Wamsley autographed my Mothman book, and I once again could die happy, lol.  Dinner at nearby Panchos was super yummy, and Aaron's Mothman Margarita (with a shot champagne and two "glowing red" cherry eyes), was simply awesome.  Of course, we all had to get the mandatory photo with the Mothman statue.

It was another great year, and a ton of interesting people showed up to perhaps catch a glimpse of the elusive Mothman...or to just get their fill of Mothman Pancakes, hehehe.  In years past, and again on my many non-festival trips to Pt. Pleasant, we've hit such hot spots as Harris' Steakhouse, which has the BEST Mothman Burger ever.  Another not-to-be missed attraction is the Pt. Pleasant River Museum, which is packed with history of the Ohio River and Pt. Pleasant area...and perhaps a ghost or two.  Right downtown is also the memorial for the Silver Bridge disaster, and a short walk away is the Pioneer Cemetery.

Websites of Interest:
Mothman Museum
Mothman Festival

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Top Five Links of the Day (2)

Hey, I don't have much time, but since I'm bored on my lunch break, thought I'd give my readers another great five links to check out!

1. Huntington Paranormal Investigations and Research  I may be a bit partial to this one!  HPIR was founded in 2006 and has been offering professional investigations throughout the tri-state area ever since!  Come check out our stories and our evidence!  We've also got plenty of articles for both the haunted and the hunters!

2. Haunted and Historic Guyandotte Tours  Looking for the best ghost tour in the state?  Look no further than HPIR's Haunted and Historic Guyandotte Tours, offering a variety of tours throughout the fall season.

3. Hollow Hill  Claims to have over 700 articles on ghost hunting and haunted places!  Also offers a free ghost hunting class and certification.

4. GenDisasters  Great resource for historical data on tragic events that shaped our country.

5. The Cryptozoologist  Loren Colman's site on cryptids....awesome info you won't find anywhere else!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Maysville Market Offers Travelers More than Snacks...

The Maysville Market stands on the corner of Route 42 and Water Street in Grant County.  The building, which is approximately 100 years old, is home to a small country grocery store...and possibly a ghost or two.

At the time of the reports, the shop was ran by Sharon Kiplinger and Mary Hoverville.  Both women reported many a strange disturbances at the shop including hearing footsteps upstairs when no one was there, lights going on and off by themselves, and an unplugged telephone ringing in a phantom caller.  Down in the shop itself, merchandise is often rearranged by an invisible force.

There have been no records of any violent deaths or other tragedies associated with the old building, and the women have no theories as to who or what may be causing the strange incidents that plague the Maysville Market on a regular basis.  It is interesting to note that nearby is location of a peddler, who after being brutally murdered, made his location known with a phantom death rattle.  Does this murdered peddler stop in at the market, still making himself known after all these years, or is it someone...or something else?

The Ghost of Glenville State

Sarah Louise Linn, otherwise known as "Sis," was born in Gilmer County in 1853.  Living in the Glenville area, she attended what was then known as the Glenville Normal School, an institution that would become Glenville State University...and was designed to train teachers.

Sarah graduated in 1877 and spent several years teaching school around the county and elsewhere.  At the age of 52, Sarah began what was to be a very short marriage.  In June of 1905, she became the wife of I.L. Chrisman, and put her teaching career aside, as married women did not teach in those days.  According to court documents, Chrisman apparently left Sarah after only six months of marriage, but it wasn't until 1909 that she formally sought the court to dissolve the marriage, and resume her former last name.

Not much is known about Sarah in her remaining years.  Some believe she ran a boarding house for female students out of her residence, which once stood where the former Verona Maple Hall stood.  Others believe she made her fortune in wine-making.  All is known is that by 1919, she had amassed a healthy estate.

In February of 1919, Sarah's life came to a tragic end.  She was found bludgeoned to death in her home.  The murderer was never caught, and no motive was ever really established, as very little, if any, valuables were reported missing.  Some believe there was a cover-up to protect involvement of a prominent local family, but that information in unconfirmed.  In any event, Sarah was buried in the adjoining cemetery.

Five years after Sarah's death, the college purchased the home, and tore it down to make room for Verona Maple Hall, a women's dormitory.  Before Verona Maple Hall was torn down in 1978, many of the residents had ghostly encounters that they attributed to "Sis Linn's" untimely demise.  When the building was torn down, activity seemed to transfer to Clark Hall, located adjacent to Verona Maple.  Many, many witnesses to the activity have come forth over the years to share their strange tales.  Other buildings on campus, including Louis Bennett Hall and Pickens Hall also have had their fair share of ghost stories, as well as the cemetery itself, where Sarah is buried, located right on campus.  It seems as if early visitors to the campus always find the gate open to the cemetery, even though it is shut tight, nightly.  Sarah has also been seen walking through the cemetery, possibly back to the location of her former home.

The school library houses a file containing court records, newspaper articles, and many more tidbits of information on Sis Linn's life and death, and of course the hauntings associated with such! 

Vertical File Contents and Summary
Personal Experience from a retired professor

Top 5 Links of the Day!

I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite paranormal-related links with my readers!  Please check out these wonderful sites for lots of stories, photos, and information about all things paranormal!  There are tons of excellent sites that I visit almost daily in order to keep up with what's happening in the paranormal world.  Today is just a small sampling of sites; please look for additional sites in the future, and if you want to see a site featured here, please let me know!

1. Southwest Ghost Hunters Association--This group offers a TON of excellent articles on paranormal theory and investigation.  If there's ever a concept or new technology I need clarification on, I always stop here first!

2. Southern Spirit Guide--THE premier blog for the most haunted hotspots in the American South...and beyond.  Great reading for when you're in the mood for a good ghost story, and really, who's NOT in the mood for a good ghost story?  Also, the author is a really awesome person, and has helped spread the word about Theresa's Haunted History!

3. WV Ghosts--I'm almost positive it was the WV Ghosts message board where I met HPIR!  Lots of stories, and a great way to stay in touch with other paranormal enthusiasts in the state of West Virginia.

4. The Skeptic's Dictionary--Excellent source of information on various paranormal terms and concepts.

5. WV State Archives--digital copies of birth/death/marriage certificates and lots and lots of other information, including National Register applications, make this site number one on my research list when looking into a historical property!  Love, love, love it.  I love it so much, in fact, that I'm diligently working towards a career here one day!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Huntington's Museum of Radio and Technology

This past February, I had the chance to represent HPIR's Haunted and Historical Guyandotte Tours at the annual History Day at the Legislature.  In this yearly event, historical societies and organizations from all over the state meet in the capitol rotunda to share information and present displays of historical significance to the state.

Among many of the wonderful people I met and chatted with were several members of the Museum of Radio and Technology, located in Huntington, WV.  Seeing that I was representing a tour business offering ghost tours and ran by a paranormal investigation group, the wife of the former president shared with me some interesting information about the museum...

...It seems that the museum may house not only decades worth of radio and technology history, but also a ghostly imprint or two!

The museum is housed in what was once the old Harveytown Elementary school, located on Florence Avenue in Huntington, and butted right up against the Harvey Cemetery.  Although I haven't verified it, I believe the school was built either in the late 1920s or early 1930s, and was still operating as a school at least into the early 1980s (based on yearbook photos I found online!). 

The many years of children passing through these halls has possibly led to a psychic imprint, sometimes picked up on by more intuitive guests.  The main "hauntings" of this building are auditory, and consist largely of an incident where several people at one time witnessed what sounded like the voices of children singing together.  This sound was coming from the auditorium, possibly from the loudspeaker.  However, there was no one present in the building, and no electronics turned on that could account for the sounds heard.

Another incident may have been slightly more intelligent in nature.  Witnesses felt a cold breeze blow past them, among various other bits of oddness.  Nothing has ever felt scary or malevolent, and years ago an investigation of the property yielded the conclusion that nothing there was out to harm anyone.  Are these the voices from a period long ago bleeding through into our realm?  Does the collection of antique radios and equipment attract those from another time?  Visit the museum some weekend, and find out!

Photo above circa 1955, showing the inside of the auditorium.  Courtesy of the Cabell County Board of Education.

Museum Website

I found a ton of history on Harveytown itself, which I'll be adding shortly!  If you have any questions until then, please feel free to contact me!

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Doctor's Funeral

I know I jumped the gun and posted a Friday Night Funny YESTERDAY...but this joke has popped up in my FaceBook feed SEVERAL times since then.  Since I'm trying to get geared up for our cemetery tours next week, PLUS my upcoming lecture on tombstone symbolism, I thought I'd go ahead and make this one a true Friday Night Funny!  Enjoy!

A cardiologist died and was given an elaborate funeral. A huge Heart covered in flowers stood behind the casket during the service.

Following the eulogy, the heart opened, and the casket rolled inside. The heart then closed, sealing the doctor in the beautiful heart forever.

At that point, one of the mourners burst into laughter. When all eyes stared at him, he said, "I'm sorry, I was just thinking of my own funeral........I'm a gynecologist".

The proctologist fainted.

The Investigation "Hangover"

(Theresa's Note:  Ghost Hunting and Paranormal Investigation is certainly not limited to being a nighttime-only activity; however, due to a variety of factors (which will be discussed in a later blog), many people still do the bulk of their field investigation work at night.  This blog discusses a common occurence that many experience after one of these nighttime investigations.)
It's the morning after an investigation or night of ghost hunting. Your head is pounding, and you are exhausted.  You don't just feel bad--you feel like you've just awakened after a night of heavy partying.  Many investigators experience this morning after effect, which I like to call "The Investigation Hangover."
There are plenty of theories as to what exactly causes this paranormal hangover.  Some believe that this sensation is the by-product of an active haunting.  Entities may pull energy from the investigators themselves in order to assist in manifestation of a variety of forms, leaving the investigator feeling drained and weak.  For whatever reason, this biological energy is more affective than any AC/DC currents we can "provide" to the entity!  There are times that even when not a lot of evidence or personal experiences is obtained during the actual investigation, I can tell we've got some good EVPs/Video by how bad I feel the next morning! 
A lot of people use the white light technique to combat this energy drain with success, but any type of empowerment technique or shielding technique is useful, as long as you BELIEVE its useful.  Some choose to only do a shielding technique before going on site, while others tend to "refresh" their shield whenever necessary throughout the investigation.  Others wait until after the investigation is complete to do a prayer, or other symbolic ritual, asking for protection from being "followed" by anything on site.  There are a variety of techniques to fit any sort of belief system, so try to find one that works for you.
 It is also a great idea to go into any investigation in peak physical and emotional health. If you're tired, stressed, ill, under the influence of any type of drug, etc., then you're naturally less psychically shielded, leaving yourself more open to being drained.  Taking breaks, keeping yourself hydrated and fed, and knowing when to step away from the scene for a few minutes can help alleviate some of this afterward. 
In addition, its always a good idea to regroup away from the site with your team after the investigation.  Go to an all-night coffee shop, or other meeting location, and just talk out what happened that night.  Take the time to calm down...almost like a cool-down experienced by professional athletes.  You're not going to get a restful sleep if you're still pumped up over the investigation!  I also don't suggest starting to go over any evidence until you've had a good sleep and are feeling refreshed. 
However, no matter what your belief system, don't be so quick to rule out biological factors contributing to, and causing this sensation:

Be weary of the adrenaline crash. Those who do this all the time, even if it isn't an "exciting" or active investigation per se, will still get that giddiness and adrenaline rush of being out in the field, waiting and hoping for that Holy Grail experience.  Investigators must be constantly alert and aware of their surroundings.  Senses are being put to use overtime, as well as intuition.  Being in a new location, where even subconsciously you feel there may be hidden dangers, can send your adrenal response into overdrive.

Also, even if you're used to staying up late, most people's internal clocks simply don't agree. Try to get plenty of rest the day before the investigation.  If possible, try to adjust your schedule so that you're operating on the same investigation schedule a few days in a row. 
Most definitely keep yourself WELL hydrated--real "hangovers" result from dehydration, so make sure you take the time to replenish your body's needs throughout the investigation! Depending on how long the investigation, set aside a break time to have a small snack to keep blood sugar well maintained, and if possible, stay away from energy drinks, high levels of caffeine, sugary snacks, etc.  You want to be alert, but not suffer from a sugar or caffeine crash later on.

Don't forget that some of it may be environmental:  Places that have a reputation for being haunted often have issues such as high emf levels, molds/mildews, chemicals, carbon monoxide and infrasound. All of these can produce headaches, and other problems, especially for those who are sensitive to them.
There's no 100% answer why some investigators get these headaches, while others do not.  There's also no 100% positive answer as to what CAUSES the issue.  It could be a combination of the two above-mentioned theories, or it could be something not touched upon here at all!  If you experience these symptoms after an investigation, try some of the tips mentioned, and some of your own...and if you find anything that works great, please pass it along!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Summers Home Pt. Pleasant

Long before George Summers made a name for himself in Virginia politics and purchased the palatial Glenwood Estate in Charleston, he and his family lived a much simpler life at the family farm of Walnut Grove.  Walnut Grove was located near present-day Winfield, WV, Putnam County.  The family home, a log structure, was built around 1812.  The home stood on the property and stayed within family possession until 1980.  The last Summers relative to have lived in the home was Fred Summers, who left the property to his niece, Lucy Quarrier. 

The John Amos Power Plant, being nearby, had purchased the farm property and a decision had to be made as to what to do with the home.  Originally, the idea was for it to be moved to Charleston, where an entire city block was set aside for it.  It was intended to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but unfortunately, that plan fell through.  In order to save the house from destruction, Lucy Quarrier donated the home and it was moved on location to Pt. Pleasant's WV Farm Museum.

The house still sits at this location, where tours can be taken during regular museum hours.  As for the family cemetery that was on the Walnut Grove plantation...that was moved to Charleston's Spring Hill in 1978.  The family cemetery contained not only the Summers patriarch, Colonel George, Sr., but also George Summers, his brother Lewis, and other family.  Interestingly, a favorite family slave, an alleged African prince named Scipio, was buried with the family.  When the cemetery was relocated, Scipio retained his place of honor, along side his master, Colonel George Summers, Sr.

This house first came to my attention when another local paranormal investigator was trying to set up an investigation.  Apparently staff and contractors working on the house claimed to have a variety of paranormal experiences, which they attributed to the house itself, mainly the sounds of knocking and other indistinquishable sounds. 

Please check back for more information on this site later on!  I've actually done quite the bit of historical research on this family and the house, but have yet to uncover any substantial information about if you have any info, please pass it my way!  I'll also develop this history a little more in-depth in the next few months after I get to tour George's Charleston home of Glenwood in early October.

WV Farm Museum Information -Summers House
Cemetery Reading for Old Summers Cemetery, Walnut Grove

Kelly Cemetery of Ironton, Ohio

The Kelly cemetery, located off County Road 141 and visible from Highway 52, was an early training ground of HPIR investigators.  The cemetery first gained our attention with several photos submitted by a local that seemed to contain "super-charged orbs," sometimes referred to as plasma lights.  These plasma lights did not have the typical pattern and substance that you see in the classic examples caused by motion blur and/or slow shutter speed, so we decided to try to recreate them on location.

Our first investigation of the cemetery led to no substantial evidence of a haunting, nor could we fully debunk the submitted photo.  I personally love the cemetery for its unique history.  Established on 22 June 1851, the Kelly Cemetery was the town's main cemetery up until the early 1870s, when nearby Woodland Cemetery opened.  It was established by William D. Kelly, a prominent businessman in the area.  His marble monument, which once stood at 20 feet hight, was erected in 1855 at a cost of $1,200.  Kelly himself wasn't actually buried there until October 2nd, 1891, when he passed away at his home on the hill.  This home, which is now the present site of a subdivision, was later converted into the Deaconess Hospital.

The cemetery contains the graves of several prominent early Ironton citizens and their families, including that of J. Allen Richey, the first Secretary of the Ohio Iron and Coal Company, who passed away in 1855.

A second investigation of Kelly Cemetery also did not produce any physical evidence, but 3 out of 5 investigators present had personal experiences, including the feelings of being touched, of being slapped on the leg, and of seeing an orb-shaped ball of energy in the surrounding woods with the naked eye.

For the most part, vandals and neglect have taken their toll on the cemetery.  Even as early as the 1890s, it was being reported that the area was being neglected.  Many of the stones are broken or missing entirely and weeds and overgrowth have been an issue.  However, from what I've heard, the cemetery is being better taken care of!  Inmate work crews have cleared away a lot of the brush and weeds, and the Lawrence County Historical Society, which keeps great information on the cemetery, is always willing to chat with you on what they know of the prestigious Kelly family.

Theresa's Side Note:  When doing initial research on this cemetery, fellow investigator, Danny, and myself headed over to the Lawrence County Historical Society.  This trip was a lot of fun!  After giving us a tour of the facility, and telling us about the Kelly family, the lady volunteering that day told us we should also check out what she claimed was a second Kelly family cemetery, located just a few miles away from the first.  I'm not familiar with Ohio roads, so I cannot recall the exact location...but I do remember driving out this country road and coming to a dead end.  Thinking we'd taken the wrong road, we turned around at the mouth of the farm property and headed back toward Rt. 52.  On the side of the road, we saw what looked like a 4-wheeler trail, so we stopped to check it out...and found the cemetery hidden among the waist-high grass!

We followed a "path" of sorts that wound around the scattered graves, and as we were checking them out, both Danny and I seemed to catch a glimpse of something watching us through the weeds, further on up the hill.  This "thing" was big, taller than an average man, but it was entirely white.  We heard movement and watched the grass move as it darted up and out of sight, sensing we had seen it. The entire time we were there, I had the feeling that whatever it was, it was still there, watching us.  We never did find out exactly what we saw that day, but do know that unless it was an albino, bi-pedal deer, we may never know!  I know the more likely scenario is that we stumbled upon, uh, personal property...and that we had an irate grower, er, I mean owner, watching to make sure we didn't do anything.  BUT...that area is known for Bigfoot sightings, so that's always fun to think about!

Photo above copyrighted by Melissa Stanley, HPIR Founder and President

Links of Interest:

HPIR Investigation of Kelly Cemetery
William D. Kelly Obituary, with lots of biographical info
2003 Reading of Visible Stones from Internment Net
1890 Newspaper Article on the Cemetery (Ironton Register)
1857 Newspaper Article on the Cemetery (Ironton Register)

The Legend of Octavia Hatcher

Along with the more famous Hatfields and McCoys, another prominent family from the Pikeville, Kentucky area was the Hatcher Family.  In 1889, James Hatcher, a local businessman, married a girl named Octavia Smith, daughter of Jacob Smith, and heir to another well-established early family of the area.

Octavia gave birth to the couple's first and only child, a son named Jacob, in January of 1891.  Unfortunately, the child died shortly after birth, sending Octavia into a grievous post-partum depression.  Taking to her bed, the family and townspeople thought she was simply in a state of mourning over the loss of her child, and perhaps, that was the start of it.  However, her health grew progressively worse, and by April of that year, she had slipped into a near-comatose state.

Octavia died on May 2, 1891.  Her cause of death was listed as an unknown illness, but many people believed that she had mourned herself to death.  Her body, un-embalmed, was quickly buried in the Pikeville Cemetery on Johnson Cemetery Road. 

Not long after Octavia's death, several other townspeople began coming down with a similar illness of slipping into a comatose state.  It is unclear as to the direct cause, but the new rash of cases called for the immediate exhumation of Octavia's body from the cemetery.

What was found was the birth of many urban legends to come.  Octavia had obviously been buried alive.  The coffin, which was not airtight, had afforded Octavia up to several days before she had asphyxiated.  The top of the coffin was torn to shreds by Octavia's bloodied fingernails, and it is said her face worn a countenance of sheer horror...a result of awakening from her sleeping sickness and finding herself entombed in her own grave.

Her body was re-buried in the same family plot, and her husband erected a tall monument in the likeness of his wife over the grave.  The figure at one time also held the statue of a small baby, her son Jacob, but vandals have taken their toll on the monument.

Perhaps the close proximity to the local college is what really fueled the urban legends of this tragic tale.  Many believe that Octavia was actually pregnant at the time of her passing, and when the body was exhumed, the infant boy was found, alive, born to a dead woman, before dying a few days later.  There are many other variations of the Octavia story, but local credible witnesses do agree that the area has always been home to a rash of spooky goings-on.  Witnesses report hearing a crying sound at night, a sound that sounds almost like a kitten, coming from or around Octavia's grave.  Others have experienced a misty apparition seen standing by the grave, no matter what time of day or present weather conditions.

In the 1990s, an attempt to foil vandals was created by erecting a fence around the plot, and adding an additional marker telling the tragic, yet factual tale, of what REALLY happened to Octavia Hatcher.  As a side note, it is said that Octavia's husband, James, had a special coffin made for himself that would prevent him from experiencing the fate of his wife.  He passed away in 1939, allegedly with no incident.

The photo above was taken by Herma Shelton, whose research also uncovered the liklihood of Octavia's mysterious illness being caused by a bite from a certain fly.

More info from Troy Taylor

A Full Moon

I'm jumping the gun and posting this a day early...just in case for some reason I'm too busy tomorrow!  The story below was "borrowed" from the website, Love to Know-Paranormal.  However, I'm still trying to find it, but I'm almost 100% sure that I first heard this tale not long ago, told from a first hand account of a witness, on the TAPS 18+ message board!  Enjoy!

A Full Moon

A paranormal investigative group in Connecticut were called to a haunted house. The homeowners warned the group that the house was haunted by an especially "evil" spirit that enjoyed playing pranks. The team leader of the paranormal society invited along a friend from Massachusetts. He was a physicist, and amateur paranormal investigator, who everyone called "Doc". Doc believed that there were no such things as ghosts or poltergeists, and that every type of haunting or unusual phenomenon had a reasonable, earthly explanation.

They traveled across the State of Connecticut in three vehicles filled with team members and equipment.

Upon arriving at the home, the team immediately started setting up the monitoring equipment as the team leader and his friend, Doc, received a tour of the home from the homeowner.

At one point in the tour, as the three men approach the staircase that led to the second floor, very loud footsteps could be heard on the upstairs landing.

"Is anyone else home?" Doc asked the homeowner.

"No, my wife's at work and we have no kids," the homeowner replied.

Excited to have his first opportunity to confront an alleged ghostly spirit, Doc walked to the foot of the stairs.

"Come on! You can do better than that you lousy ghost!" Doc yelled up the stairwell.

"Doc, I wouldn't do that if I were you," the paranormal team leader advised. Doc ignored him. Instead, he stepped up onto the bottom step.

"If you're really a ghost, why don't you show us what you can really do, you lousy, no-good prankster!" Doc yelled.

The moment the last word came out of his mouth, his pants flew down around his ankles. The homeowner and the team leader burst into laughter as Doc, terrified, struggled to pull his pants back up. He then stumbled as fast as he could out the front door of the house. He refused to re-enter the house or to talk about the episode ever again. However, the episode went down in the records as one of the most humorous moments the paranormal team had ever witnessed in a haunted home. They still tell this funny ghost story to every new team member.