Thursday, October 17, 2013

Book Review for Booger Hole

Title:  Booger Hole: Mysteries, Ghost Tales, and Strange Occurrences
Author: Mary Lucinda Curry
Illustrated by: Elaine Douglas and Joe Holley
Published: 1990 by Frog Pond Printery
Book Photo: by Susanna Holstein who also reviewed this wonderful book on her wonderful  Granny Sue blog!

My favorite used book store is closing at the end of the month and in order to support a local business (and get some HELLUVA good deals in the process) I've been visiting about once a week to browse through leftover stock.  They must be pulling stuff out of the deepest recesses of storage because I've stumbled across some wonderful little gems that probably would be overlooked by most people.

One of those little gems is the book, Booger Hole, by Mary Lucinda Curry.  First printed in 1990, I wound up with the 1998 fourth printing edition that I found by complete accident.  I was reaching up on a high shelf to look at another book and realized that there was a teeny, slim volume stuck underneath it, invisible to the naked eye.  I grabbed it out of curiosity and was pleasantly surprised.  It was a book of West Virginia ghost stories!

Well...its kind of a book about West Virginia ghost stories.  The book is actually a very short primer on the rough history of an area of Clay County called Booger Hole.  Since the Civil War, Booger Hole, located off a section of Rush Run Hollow known as Richardson's Run, has had a seedy reputation.  It has been known as a place of thieves, murders, and spooky, supernatural experiences!

The author discusses the possible roots of this reputation and follows up with several tales of theft and murder connected to Booger Hole...some murders which to this day are classified as unresolved.  The second part of the book is a collection of ghostly and supernatural legends, passed down orally from various contributors including a gentleman who has lived in the area since the 1930s.  This is really a fascinating read.  It's well written, especially for a low-distribution publication, and the author cites plenty of primary historical documentation to back up the tales that have been passed down through the generations.  My absolute favorite tale in the book is a personal experience told by Wilson Douglas concerning what we would now call a vardoger experience!

Unfortunately, the somewhat cursed reputation of Booger Hole has continued on into modern day.  Just this past summer a group of local teenagers piled into a pickup truck with the intent of visiting Booger Hole's Chimneys.  The Chimneys is the name given to a group of chimneys of course...the only remaining remnants of long-ago burned down houses. According to the book, these are probably what is left over after local citizens, fed up with the reputation of murders in the area and fueled by the court case of Howard Sampson, set fire to homes and ran many of the Booger Hole residents out in 1917. Local legend says the chimneys house the ghosts of former residents and screams have been heard emanating from the old structures.  Around dawn, the pickup truck full of teens rolled over, killing one young girl and injuring 10 other kids.

That tragic incident aside, Booger Hole is a short book, but its jammed with a wonderful array of local history and legend.  This book is a must-have for any collection of WV folklore, history, or ghost tales library so obviously it fits right in on my shelf!  Unfortunately, a copy might be a little hard to obtain.  My copy has a publishing date of 1998 on it, so I'm not sure if the address is still valid or not, but below I'll add the contact information if anyone's interested.

Cindy Curry
Rt. 2, Box 82
Duck, WV 25063


  1. Frog Pond Printery is still running, to my knowledge. It's located in Maysel, WV, just outside of the town of Clay. They may have more copies or current contact info if the above address is no longer in service.

    1. Howard Sampson was my grandfather, Bill Sampson's brother. He served only 8 years of a life sentence for killing Preston Tanner.
      In 1953 Howard killed his wife in Canton, Ohio, then drove to Grantsville, WV and killed himself.

    2. Thank you for that additional information on the Sampson family.