Monday, July 15, 2013

A Family Ghost Tale From East Beckley

MawMaw, 1940s
I owe a love of all things ghostly to my maternal grandparents, Eugene Gilkerson and Mary Williams Gilkerson.  They truly cultivated an interest in ghosts, history and folklore in me and one way in which they did so was to share their own ghost stories with me!  Like many West Virginians, my family can trace its lineage to a mix of Cherokee and Scot-Irish roots...and with that comes many Appalachian superstitions and a belief in things that go bump in the night.

The following tale is just a start of several family ghost stories that I hope to share with you in the coming weeks.

My grandmother was the second youngest child in a family of over a dozen children.  Her father died when she was two years old (around 1927), and her brother Jack was just a baby.  Several years after that, her older sister Thelma would die of TB, leaving behind her own little girl who was raised as my grandmother's sister.  Originally from the Hinton area, sometime between 1930 and 1940 my great-grandmother moved her  family to Beckley where there was more opportunity for work and education.  The move wasn't an easy one because....

...the only rental house they could afford just happened to be haunted!

MawMaw, from around the time they lived in the house
The home has long since been torn down, but it sat at the end of a cul-de-sac off of Eisenhower Drive in East Beckley.  Piney Creek ran past in the backyard, a large tree graced the front, and a ghost lived in the attic.

Almost immediately after moving in, weird things began happening.  The family had hung a calendar on the wall above the staircase leading to the attic, and each morning, they'd awake to find that the calendar had fallen to the floor.  No amount of nails or other fasteners could keep that calendar bolted to the wall.

In addition to the calendar, which seemed pretty mundane, the family noticed the nightly sounds of weird thumps on the staircase leading to the attic, and on occasion, blood-curdling screams piercing the darkness.  More than one of the younger kids also claimed to have seen a woman in a white night gown in the home.

Unsure of what to do, some of the braver of the children still at home decided to conduct their own investigation and prepared to sit up for a vigil one night in hopes of capturing who or what was making all the noise.

Obviously, nothing happened the night they actually went looking for it!  But, not long after that night, the screaming once again commenced, awaking the household.  Fed up, several of the boys decided the noise had indeed come from the attic, which, as this was a rental property, was locked and they had never received a key.  They broke the door down and found the attic stuffed full of what they presumed was the previous tenants' belongings.  Among the household and personal items, some bedding was found wadded up in a corner.  Among it was a pillow stained with what eerily looked like blood.

The bloody pillow was thrown out and as a testament to the end of the paranormal activity, the calendar above the staircase never moved again.  Later, they would find out from neighbors that apparently a man had murdered his wife in the house while she slept, by shooting her in the head.


  1. Thank you for these wonderful stories.Your Grandmother was beautiful.