Tuesday, June 12, 2018

On The Road to Dixie: Chasing Down a WV Cemetery Legend

Lambert/Spry Cemetery
About a week ago, my family and I decided on a spur of the moment country drive which led us to the Lincoln/Logan County line near Harts, WV in search of a local cemetery legend.  We were trying to track down the final resting place of Dixie V. Counts and her son, Charlie.

The legend of Dixie V. Counts and her child is a sad one.  I first learned of the legend several years ago from the popular website, The Shadowlands.  In this particular entry, it is reported that Charlie was born stillborn and that he and his mother died while she was giving birth to him.  Every full moon, Dixie and Charlie can be seen wearing white and appearing to glow in the moonlight. Dixie rocks her small son in her arms, as they both weep mournfully.  The date of death on their tombstones also seems to glow with the same intensity as the pair on the anniversary of their tragic deaths. 

Like many good cemetery legends, this one has some roots based in fact.  Dixie DID give birth to a premature baby, a girl named Nora, back in 1932.  Charlie, however, was born in good health in December of 1938.  Unfortunately, he would not live to see adulthood.  On September 26, 1939, Dixie passed away from tuberculosis.  Little Charlie also had the dreaded consumption, but would hang on another three months, passing away in December of that year.

Dixie's Grave. Some say the date of death glows under the full moon.

I've posted about the Dixie V. Counts legend here on Theresa's Haunted History before, but I had never actually visited the tombstones for myself.  Therefore, when we couldn't find the Lambert Cemetery (where Dixie is buried) on our first attempt, I was pretty disappointed. We were going in the middle of the afternoon, so I wasn't betting on having a paranormal experience, but I at least wanted to say I had been there because....

...Dixie will be featured in my upcoming book on West Virginia cemetery legends!

Luckily, a couple of days later, my in-laws took my son out fishing, giving me a whole day to try again.  This time I was prepared. In our impromptu trip, I didn't count on the fact that I got absolutely no internet/phone service AT ALL. And, since the trip was unplanned, I didn't look up the information I needed to get us to the right cemetery beforehand.  That trip wasn't a complete waste, as we did get to visit another area cemetery, The Brumfield Cemetery, which was packed with history, but it wasn't the same.  So, I studied the maps carefully, and felt pretty confident as I set out on my own to find Lambert Cemetery.

Charlie Counts
The cemetery is noted as being in Ranger, WV...and that's true, although somewhat confusing, since the road its on (Dry Branch) is actually a good ways past the 'official' road signs for the town of Ranger.  However, the road was fairly easy to find.  As soon as I pulled off the main road onto it, though, I instantly thought I had made a terrible mistake.

I drive a 2008 Nissan Sentra and Dry Branch Rd. is not exactly the type of road for a low vehicle. It wasn't a bad drive, but the road, which was dirt/gravel/grass throughout most of the trip was very narrow and reminded me more of a private driveway than an actual route. Added to that, there was road work going on when I visited! Well, there were several Asplundh trucks in the area, working on the trees.

I searched for the actual cemetery, but didn't see it at first.  After just a short trip, the road did dead end, just in someone's driveway.  I was a little apprehensive, especially since their dog was out, but I made the turn-around with no problems.  Coming back out towards the main road, I got a slightly different view of the surrounding hillside...and managed to see the cemetery!  Thankfully, there was a house below it on the back side, so the vegetation was trimmed back.  Now, I just had to find the road to reach it...and again, I cannot stress enough how much the road really wasn't a road, lol.  I did find the path, which was a well-maintained, yet still kinda scary dirt/gravel road uphill. 

At this point, I had a huge decision to make.  I had driven over an hour to get here.  The cemetery was IN SIGHT, and the road didn't look too bad.  However, I was completely alone with no cell service and a tiny, low-sitting car with a loose muffler.  I figured that since there were plenty of Asplundh employees within walking distance, if I did get stuck, someone would be around to help me get unstuck or call for help, so I went for it.
Nora Counts

My car did scrape the ground near the top of the path, but it wasn't too bad and after I stopped swearing, I found myself at the entrance to the small,  yet nicely maintained Lambert Cemetery.  The graves of Dixie and her two children were easy to spot, and I quickly managed to get in a few photographs.  I had a long drive back, so I didn't stay nearly as long as I should have, but I paid my respects to Dixie and the others and headed back.  On the drive home, I mulled the whole haunted tombstone legend over in my head.  How in the world did this legend get started in the first place??

Due to the location of the cemetery, my guess would be that the original submitter of this story was either a member of Lambert/Spry family, lived on Dry Branch, or was somehow otherwise connected to the cemetery. I felt that way for two reasons.  Firstly, there were some elements of truth to this tale.  Dixie did have a stillborn infant, but it was Nora, not Charlie.  Charlie and Dixie DID die in the same year...although Charlie was nearly a year old and their actual dates of death were 3 months apart. That information, which is based in fact but not accurate, sounds like information that has been passed down by oral tradition and story telling.  Secondly, this cemetery just didn't seem like the type that one stumbles upon. I didn't have any negative experiences, but I just kinda felt like this was private property (the cemetery AND the whole Dry Branch Rd) and that I was an intruder.  It didn't seem like it would be a popular place for even local kids to go legend tripping.  It just seemed like a serene, little spot of land where members of the Spry and Lambert families were laid to rest. 

L to R: Charlie, Dixie, Nora

As you can see from the photos of the tombstones, they are fairly new and in good shape.  New flowers had recently been placed upon the graves.  Someone was doing a good job of keeping the grass cut, and a burial as recent as earlier this year had taken place.

Maybe one day I'll go back up there on a full moon and see if I can see Dixie and her baby, or their glowing tombstones.  But for now, I'm content to have visited the site and shared Dixie's story---both the legends AND the history.  I hope she and her little ones have found peace. And I hope that you have enjoyed this trip with me in search of a West Virginia cemetery legend.  More information on Dixie's story will be available in my upcoming book, so keep an eye on Theresa's Haunted History Facebook for more updates!  Stay spooky, ya'll.

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