On April 15, 1872, Peter Godwin Van Winkle, who represented West Virginia in the United States Senate from1863 to 1869, died in Parkersburg. Today, the largely neglected Van Winkle-Wix House is still standing, and has picked up a reputation for being haunted. According to Julie Robinson in the Sunday Gazette-Mail 5 October 2008 edition, " Workers at the sprawling 1837 red-brick mansion of Sen. Peter Godwin Van Winkle also reported unexplained activity. They told Susan Sheppard that in 1990, they saw a blond, curly-haired man in a ruffled white shirt in the house. They chased him, but he disappeared. Outside workers saw his image in a window, and one of them captured it on film. Sheppard included both photographs in her recent book, "Cry of the Banshee." This location is a stop on Susan's popular Haunted Parkersburg Ghost Tours.
On April 18, 1861, United States troops destroyed the United States Armory and Arsenal at Harpers Ferry shortly before the town was captured by Confederate troops. It was this same armory that was made infamous in 1859 during John Brown's Raid. One of the men killed during the raid was a black man named Dangerfield Newby. It is said his body was thrown to the hogs occupying what is now known as Hog Alley. Visitors to Hog Alley have for years reported the figure of a large, African American man with a neck wound, walking the area. Dangerfield Newby at Hog Alley
On April 19, 1896, Arthur Ingram Boreman, the first governor of West Virginia, died. Boreman lived in Parkersburg, and although his former home has been torn down, the home he had built for his daughter, known as the Boreman-Wheel House, is said to be haunted. 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. Boreman-Wheel House
On April 26, 1927, the West Virginia legislature passed an act incorporating the Raleigh County community of Beckley. As a child, my grandmother moved from Hinton to Beckley and in 1940, was living in a very haunted house in East Beckley. Someone had been murdered in the home, and a series of spooky events, including a calendar that refused to stay on the wall, prompted her family to seek out answers. After disposing of a bloody pillow found in the attic, the hauntings seemed to stop. A Haunting from East Beckley
If you know of any additional significant dates for April's Haunted West Virginia History, please let me know! Feel free to comment below or join me over at Theresa's Haunted History of the Tri-State Facebook page. And, if you're interested in previous entries in this Haunted History series, here are the links for the first quarter of the year. Happy Haunting!