Thursday, November 21, 2019

Point Pleasant's Phantom Black Dog

I love finding vintage ghost stories in old West Virginia newspapers! Today's discovery comes from the May 9th, 1883 edition of the Pt. Pleasant newspaper, The Weekly Register, which can be found online at Chronicling America.  I wasn't able to find a 'Clarksburg road' anywhere on modern maps, but I was able to find the small, unincorporated community of Hickory Chapel located near Pt. Pleasant in Mason County.

GHOST---The people living along the Clarksburg road, in the neighborhood of Hickory Chapel, are very much exercised by the re-appearance of a ghost in the shape of a big black dog.  They all assert that it is a veritable ghost, and it has been seen time and again by numbers of people.  Men have met it in the road, while riding home on horse-back, and have put spurs to their horses, and have tried to out-run it, but never could; it has been shot at time and again by good marksmen, but without effect.  Sometimes when people are walking along the road it follows along by the side of them, and neither clubs, stones, or scolding will drive it from its position

Theresa's Note:  Stories of phantom black dogs have always been fascinating to me and they are certainly an integral part of ghost lore.  Known by many names, including the Black Shuck, phantom black dogs are a popular motif in the ghost stories of England, and undoubtedly, settlers from the British Isles brought these legends and superstitions with them to America...and even to the small, rural community in Mason County.  Tales of black dogs, especially those with glowing red eyes and of enormous size, are generally associated with the demonic, but I've found another aspect of the phantom black dog mystery.  Here in America, especially in the rural south, these phantom black dogs have become associated with being cemetery guardians, especially in cemeteries where there are many slave/former slave burials.  These beliefs may stem from stories of the Church Grim, another English tale of a black dog who protects churches and church burial grounds. The whole Pt. Pleasant area has such a history of strange and unusual activity that it just seems natural to add a phantom black dog into the annals of its haunted history! 

Church Grim, by Ines Lee

Saturday, November 16, 2019

On the Trail of a Ghost

I love a good West Virginia ghost story!  This vintage tale comes from the December 2, 1913 edition of the Fairmont West Virginian newspaper and is a good reminder that not everything is what it seems...

Party of First Warders Make Search of White Rock

A real ghost is believed to exist by residents living in the vicinity of White Rock about four or five miles from this city.  Residents of that section report that frequently after the shadows of night fall, a ghost resembling a woman carrying an infant child and crying aloud, is seen in that vicinity and has caused a few of the fearful minded to stick close to their homes and firesides and has been the cause of careful investigation on the part of the less fearful. 

The fact that the ghost had been seen, was circulated in this city and caused a squad of brave minded parties, who had from infancy desired to see a real ghost, to band together last evening and explore that region in hopes of finding said ghost.

Consequently a band of 25 or 30 citizens of the First Ward, employees of the Monongah Glass plant and others started on the quest last night.  The trip was made overland through the mud and clay to the spot the ghost was said to frequent.

As the party neared the haunted spot, what appeared to be a ghost hove into view. Careful investigation disclosed and abandoned old white lime kiln near which a dummy had been strung across the road.

Sorely disappointed over the fact that the ghost had proved a fallacy, the party, tired, muddy, and foot sore limped back into town, with their desire to see a ghost unsatisfied and much the worse for their harrowing experience.

While the local party was thoroughly satisfied that no ghost exists a number of the citizens of that place still hail from Missouri and refuse to accept the theory and be comforted, but are still watching for the nightly appearance of the ghost. 

Theresa's Note:  This newspaper article can be found on the Library of Congress' Chronicling America site. I personally found it interesting that employees from the Monongah Glass plant in Fairmont, WV were cited as making up a portion of the search party!  From what sources I could find, it seems as if the Monongah Glass plant was only in operation from 1904 to 1933...and it was known for using child labor.  The photo below, from WV History on View, shows some of the child workers at the Fairmont plant.  Could some of these young boys have been hunting ghosts that night in 1913?

Child workers at Monongah Glass-WV History on View 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Beckley Fall Oddities Fair

For many years, I've let my anxiety, fear of failure, and lack of motivation sabotage many opportunities I've been given in regards to the paranormal field.  I've turned down book offers, television appearances, and so much more...and it has hurt my work, both as an investigator and as a writer.  So, I recently made up my mind that I was going to just go for it and stop saying 'NO' all the time.  I had an opportunity this October with the BEX  Fall Oddities Fair in Beckley, WV!

The BEX Oddities Fair is a really cool event.  A similar event was held earlier in the year, but unfortunately I was unable to attend that one.  Therefore, when Scott of Haunted Beckley asked me if I wanted to secure a vending space at the October 26th event, I jumped on the chance!  The Oddities Fair featured tons of vendors selling all sorts of cool and spooky stuff, ghost tours and ghost hunts of downtown Beckley, meet-and-greets with local authors, live music, a costume contest, psychic/tarot readings and talks with paranormal researchers....along with plenty of other fun things to see and do in the Beckley Underground and surrounding areas.

Since the weather was supposed to get rainy and windy later on in the night, I was with a group of vendors who were set up inside Sir Walter's Tavern.Sir Walter's Tavern is a cozy, beautiful space with some of the nicest staff you'll ever meet.  My dad went with me to help out and I was surprised to see what a great time HE had checking out other vendors and chatting with those who stopped by our table. I think he loved the people-watching best, though, lol.  We were in a bar, so in addition to those who came specifically for the festival, many dressed in elaborate (and sometimes hilarious) costumes, we had a front-row seat to the weekend bar traffic.
My Vendor's Table

Talking with people about the paranormal and selling the few trinkets I made to help bring traffic to my table took up most of my evening, but I was able to sneak away for a bit to see Les O'Dell of West Virginia Cryptids and Strange Encounters give a very interactive talk in the Raleigh Theater. Les discussed his work in researching and investigating cryptids and ghosts, and a few of his clients were there sharing their personal stories.  It was a laid-back, informative and fun look at some of the unique investigative methods used by Les and his team, and stories of strange things he and others have experienced. It's always a pleasure to talk to him and see him present.

I also got to meet Jannette Quackenbush, one of my favorite authors and researchers of West Virginia ghost lore.  Jannette runs the Haunted West Virginia Facebook page, and also has a website entitled West Virginia Ghost Stories, Legends, and Haunts.  Jannette has authored a number of books chronicling West Virginia's spooky history, so of course I had to buy one! She's such a sweet and knowledgeable person and talking with her really motivated me to finish my own book.  I'm also looking forward to teaming up with her in the future for an investigation!
Les O'Dell-WV CASE

As the night drew to a close, I had one more memorable experience at Sir Walter's Tavern.  We had packed up the table and were just getting ready for the trek back to Winfield. I decided it would be a good idea to go use the bathroom before the long drive back down the WV Turnpike (also haunted, by the way!). Just as I was about to exit the stall, the stall door flew open towards me with such force that I thought for sure someone had come in and shoved it.  I sort of jumped out of the way as much as I could in a bathroom stall, put my hand out to stop the door, and said 'excuse me.' But, of course...I said it to thin air.  There was no one else in the bathroom with me. The palm of my hand actually stung a little from catching the door, so it was swung open with a good bit of pressure.  Was it a ghostly happening, or was there a natural explanation?  The next time I'm in town for one of Haunted Beckley's ghost tours, I'll have to remember to ask if there are any spirits hanging out in the ladies' room at Sir Walter's Tavern!

Anyway, the whole experience was awesome.  I got to spend some time with my dad in a town where I spent much of childhood, staying summers and multiple weekends with my grandparents.  I got to meet with fellow paranormal enthusiasts and talk about my favorite subject.  Hopefully, I introduced a few new people to my blog along the way.  And, to top it all off, I may have had my own paranormal experience! 

Friday, November 8, 2019

You're Doing Better Than You Think: A Spooky (and Motivational!) Funny

I came across this cute little cartoon from earlier this week and knew it was one of those motivational Friday Funnies that I just had to share with all of you.  I get discouraged a lot, both with my work in the paranormal field and with life in I really needed to hear this message this week!  

I hope you've had a wonderful first full week of November and continue to have a safe and happy weekend ahead!  Stay spooky, my friends.  

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Theresa and JR Visit Pt. Pleasant!

As difficult as my October proved to be, I still tried to have as much fun and cram in as many Halloween and spooky events as possible, and I think I did okay!  I never get to do everything that I want around the Halloween season, as there is just so much to do and I'm usually so busy...this year more than ever.  But, as long as I get in a few events and try something new, I'm happy!  October 2019 was a somewhat special year for me as it was mine and my husband's first October together as a married couple.  He really got a dose of my Halloween and spooky obsessions!  Earlier in the month, I took him to his first visit to the Flatwoods Monster Museum in Sutton.  A couple of weeks later, we took a spur of the moment trip to Point Pleasant----home of the Mothman!

Same as with the Flatwoods Monster Museum, JR had never been to the Mothman Museum, seen the Mothman statue, or visited the notorious TNT bunker area!  I was determined that a sunny, temperate afternoon to ourselves was the perfect time to remedy that.  We had eaten a late lunch at Steak N Shake in Barboursville, so we hopped on over to Route 2 for a scenic drive into Pt. Pleasant. 

I love seeing people experience things for the first time, which is one reason why I LOVE blogging about my son's haunted travels with me.  It's the same way with my husband. Before meeting me, he wasn't really into ghosts, cryptids, and all things spooky.  However, he is a wonderful husband, and is always willing to indulge me of my interests.  As an added bonus, I think my ghostly tastes are starting to rub off on him a little...

Now, I have been to the wonderful Mothman Museum many times, but I still enjoy seeing the new stuff, reading the articles, and browsing around the gift shop For a relatively small space, there's a LOT to see and do.  I was thrilled that JR seemed so impressed with the museum, especially the movie props. He asked me a ton of questions, which I was happy to answer and eagerly took in all that the museum had to offer.  I'm pretty sure he even went straight to Reddit with his newfound knowledge of one of West Virginia's most unique museums.  My favorite part, however, was snuggling up in the Harris' Steakhouse Diner room, watching part of a Mothman documentary together.  I almost didn't want to leave, but I wanted to make sure that he experienced ALL the Mothman goodness in Pt. Pleasant!

Obviously, that included the requisite photos with the Mothman statue.  Of course, I being the 10 year old boy that I am, made sure that JR got to see back side of the statue, featuring a well-formed metal buttocks!  He was bemused, but not nearly as delighted as I always am at Mothman's rump. He was, however, much more interested in the TNT area.

The weather was perfect for the walk out to the open igloos of the TNT area, once believed to be Mothman's stomping grounds. JR probably thought I was taking him out in the woods to kill him, especially as I led him through a thicket of branches and vines and past a heavy metal door into darkness.  As our eyes adjusted, I couldn't help but sneak in a kiss, because you know...there's no place more romantic than the TNT igloos, lol.  We talked about the graffiti on the walls, how the TNT area was significant to the Mothman story, took some pictures, and played with the unique acoustics of the igloo.  Again, I almost didn't want to leave.  Sharing one of my favorite spooky locations and my passion for the paranormal for the first time with the person I love is a memory I want to live on as long as the story of Mothman himself!