Friday, October 2, 2020

Bigfoot Researchers: A Friday Funny


Wait, your friends think you're the Angry Video Game Nerd?  I don't consider myself a Bigfoot researcher, as I only have a casual interest in the subject as it relates to the paranormal field as a whole, but I know quite a few cryptozoologists and crypto enthusiasts.  So tell this accurate, or highly offensive?

Thursday, October 1, 2020

TNT Area Training Investigation

 Hello, October!  It's ALWAYS Spooky Season here at Theresa's Haunted History of the Tri-State, but things tend to ramp up a bit in the days leading to Halloween.  Once again, I'll be attempting the Ultimate Blog Challenge---31 straight days of NEW paranormal content here on the blog.  I'll also be posting plenty of spooky Halloween-related content on Theresa's Haunted History's Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram.  I've got some great new haunted locations throughout West Virginia to discuss, some personal experiences to share, and a whole array of other fun, spooky information that I hope you'll enjoy.  So let's kick off the beginning of the month with a little secret I've been keeping...

Who leaves a child's riding toy in the TNT igloos?!

I've joined a new paranormal investigation group!

Back in August, I discovered Spectral Research and Investigation, a new group based out of Huntington that was just forming. I expressed an interest and was accepted as a member!  We're still in the early, early planning stages, mostly trying to recruit a solid base of like-minded members, but we have a couple of plans for upcoming investigations, which I will certainly share with you as soon as I can.  One thing we have done so far is conduct a sort of meet and greet training investigation at one of my favorite spooky locations:  The TNT Area outside of Point Pleasant, West Virginia!

Currently part of the McClintic Wildlife Area, the former West Virginia Ordnance Works (commonly referred to as the TNT Area) was established at the onset of World War 2 to manufacture and store explosive material for the war effort.  It operated from 1942 until 1945, leaving behind a maze of concrete igloos, or bunkers, in which the TNT was not only stored, but camouflaged from planes flying overhead. These igloos are pretty much the only structures still standing in the TNT Area.

In the paranormal community, the TNT Area is best known for being the location where Mothman was first spotted in Point Pleasant, on November 15, 1966. Although the North Power Plant, where Mothman was seen, has been torn down, the area is still a mecca for cryptozoology enthusiasts and curiosity seekers. Hiking out to the igloos, many of which are left open for public exploration, is a rite of passage and is actually a really cool experience. Long-time readers of Theresa's Haunted History will know that I've been out to the igloos NUMEROUS times, but I've never really investigated the area in any official capacity until SRI's training investigation this September.

This igloo was exceptionally dusty

Despite its ties to the unknown, the TNT area doesn't really have a strong association with ghosts---my preferred topic of study.  However, that's not to say that the area doesn't host paranormal activity.  I've heard the odd story here and there, including one about the shooting range being haunted by the ghost of a man who was murdered and left out there.  I've also had my own spooky experience years ago when I thought I was assisted across a barrier by a helpful young man in a white t-shirt...a man who absolutely wasn't there.  (You can read that story here: CREEPY EXPERIENCE AT THE TNT AREA) And, if you want to take a cue from the movie Poltergeist, there actually were quite a few small, family cemeteries located throughout the area which were 'moved' to accommodate construction of the WV Ordnance Works in 1942. As many of the burials were unmarked, many of the bodies were left behind... (TNT Area Graves)

Anyway,  due to scheduling conflicts, the training investigation and meet and greet turned out to only be me and Brian, SRI's founder.  We made the most of the experience, though, and explored quite a few of the open igloos, some of which even I had never been inside. We also got to experiment with some of our equipment and talk about the philosophy of SRI, which will be a scientific-based investigation and research group with the goal of helping those who feel they are experiencing paranormal activity.

Now, normally I wouldn't suggest the TNT Area as being an ideal location for a really serious investigation.  As stated, there aren't a whole lot of claims of paranormal activity being reported.  More importantly, however, is that this is an outdoor location in a very uncontrolled setting.  Years ago, I posted a blog titled Outdoor Investigations in which I outlined some of the unique challenges that outdoor locations present.  It's a little outdated, but things such as weather, intrusion by other people, animal noises, light reflections, etc. are still very, very relevant, especially in a place like the TNT Area. We could hear the hum of insects, the croaking of frogs from the nearby pond, and lots and lots of barking and howling from hunting dogs being ran nearby.  

The TNT Area has another interesting challenge...the acoustics inside the igloos are WEIRD. If you've ever been inside one, you'll notice the strange echo.  Depending on your location within the igloo, it can sound like a voice is coming from any direction at different times.  At one point, I could see Brian directly in front of me, talking, but it sounded as if he were right behind me instead.  It can be a little unnerving, and can make reviewing audio a bit harrowing.

For those reasons, I wouldn't claim that anything that happened that night or any potential 'evidence' was proof of paranormal activity...but I gotta say:  stuff DID happen that we couldn't explain. 

Activity seemed to begin right before dusk. I was by myself at the opening of one of the igloos trying to figure out some settings on my new phone, which I was using as my camera for the evening.  I was right by the door, fiddling with my phone, when I saw what looked like a slithery shadow crawl towards me and disappear as it was about to pass by my feet.  We decided to check out this particular bunker more closely, and set up some equipment.  Unfortunately, our equipment failed to pick anything up (unless you count my laser grid pen that died after about 30 seconds of putting fresh batteries in).  However, we had some personal experiences in TWO separate igloos.

In one igloo, we both noticed some strange shadowy movement, as if something extremely large and extremely dark was trying to make its way into the bunker from the outside. Something kept blocking out the ambient light coming in from the doorway and moving along the wall to our right.  Another spooky thing that occurred was that we heard what sounded like a breathy, female disembodied voice at the same time.  The voice seemed to overlap Brian's voice as he said something, and seemed to be coming from right beside him. We had some other minor experiences, such as drops in barometric pressure, feelings of not being alone, and what sounded like a piece of glass or metal falling near me. Activity seemed to go away as quickly as it would start up, almost as if something was toying with us.

At this point, I wouldn't necessarily claim we actually experienced anything paranormal, but we definitely had enough weird stuff happen to make me want to set up a slightly more controlled and more formal investigation into some of the igloos in which we had our experiences.  It was a fun evening of playing around with some new equipment (such as a parabolic mic, which was really awesome) and talking paranormal with a fellow enthusiast.  It made me remember how much I missed actually getting out in the field for some ol' fashioned ghost hunting!

Saturday, September 19, 2020

What Happened to Bandit? A Mothman Story

Raleigh Register 17 November 1966

How does a missing German Shepherd from Doddridge County become entwined with the famous Mothman sightings that plagued the people of Point Pleasant, 120 miles away, for over two years?  To answer that, we need to go back to the night of November 15th, 1966 and wade through quite a bit of misinformation and inconsistencies. In today's blog, I hope to explain the differing accounts of what happened that night, where the information comes from, and hopefully, paint  a clearer, more accurate account of Bandit's disappearance and how his story relates to Mothman lore. 

It was a cold, clear Tuesday night in Centerpoint, a small community in Doddridge County, located about 20 miles from Clarksburg, WV. The Partridge Family---Newell (later known as Merle), his wife, and their six children (4 boys and 2 girls) were at the family farm on Pike Fork. The family pet, a 3 year old, 110 lb. German Shepherd named Bandit, was on the porch outside.

At around 10:30 pm or shortly after, the television started cutting out.  What had been images of the movie, Wild and Wonderful, featuring a white French poodle named Monsieur Cognac, were now replaced by a 'fine herringbone pattern.' The television also started making a horrible, high pitched noise, which was described as almost like a generator starting up. Bandit began howling outside, presumably bothered by the television set's strange, ear-splitting screech.

And...this is where the details of the story start to get a little muddled.

According to newspaper articles from the time of the incident and Gray Barker's book, The Silver Bridge, Mr. Partridge turned the television off and walked out onto the porch with a flashlight.  At about that time, Bandit sprinted off the porch and into the field, headed toward the direction of either a small barn or pump house, around a football field's length away. His fur was bristled, and he acted as if he were about to attack something.  Mr. Partridge called to him, but the usually obedient dog did not return to his master.  When a flashlight was shone in the direction the dog was headed, it picked up what was then described by newspaper accounts and Barker as being two HUGE glowing red eyes, unlike anything Partridge had ever seen before. They looked like two bicycle reflectors. Partridge went to go for his gun, but didn't go after the dog or the thing with glowing red eyes that night.

Bandit never returned home that night, or the following day. At some point within the next few days, Partridge investigated the area.  He could see evidence of where Bandit had ran off the porch and through the grass to the area near the barn or pump house. Once there, he could see the dog's paw prints in the mud, going around in a circle as if it were chasing its own tail, but there were no prints or other evidence to suggest that the dog ran off somewhere.  It was like it had just vanished. 

Tribute to Bandit at the 2016 Mothman Festival.  Seen with one of the Partridge sons. 
Photo property of Loren Colman

Meanwhile in Point Pleasant...

Linda and Roger Scarberry, along with their friends, Steve and Mary Mallette, had witnessed a huge, winged humanoid while driving in the former TNT area, just north of Pt. Pleasant. Again, reports differ slightly, but at some point while they were either being chased down the main road back into town at over 100 mph, or when they stopped to turn around, they saw what appeared to be a large, dead dog lying by the roadside.  According to Linda Scarberry, the dog was seen near the old CC Lewis farm, and on the map, pictured below (found in the book, Mothman: Behind Red Eyes), the location of the dog was just north of Tiny's Drive-In along Rt. 62 on the same side of the road as the river. 

After summoning help and heading back to the TNT area less than an hour later, the dog carcass was nowhere to be seen.  All of this occurred around 90 minutes after Bandit disappeared from the Partridge Farm.

The appearance and disappearance of the dead dog apparently made a fairly big impact on the witnesses, because it was included in the news reports that came out about the incident.  That news made it to Newell Partridge and something clicked that made him think that maybe his Bandit could have been that dog. 

Partridge, a building contractor, often called up the local news station, WBOY-TV, in Clarksburg to get weather reports and other information, and developed a rapport with anchor, Pete Lyman. According to Barker, Partridge called Pete on the 17th and asked  him to gather up some information on the recent incident in Pt. Pleasant.  Pete got the feeling that there must be some reason why Partridge would make such an unusual request as opposed to his usual weather inquiries, and asked him whether or not he'd seen something.  Without thinking, Partridge told him about the red lights/reflectors/eyes he had seen and about his missing dog. 

Pete Lyman, standing. 1962. Source

Intrigued, Pete told Partridge that the station had sent a reporter down to Pt. Pleasant who believed the witnesses saw SOMETHING that shook them up, and asked if Partridge would mind if he sent the reporter over to talk with him. In a later interview with Mothman researcher, author, and curator of the Mothman Museum, Jeff Wamsley, Partridge would claim that the next day, he was bombarded. Not only did the reporter come out, but allegedly so did an Air Force Colonel, a detective, and others. The family was pranked and ridiculed, and received weird phone calls of just beeping noises. Partridge wished he had never told anyone what had happened, but he did give an interview with Gray Barker on the 19th, which ended up in the book, The Silver Bridge. 

From what I can gather, Partridge didn't give another interview on the subject until he was interviewed by Wamsley in the 1980's, while Wamsley's band was returning from a gig in the area.  In this interview, which can be found in the book, Mothman: Behind Red Eyes, Partridge shares some additional information, clears up some misinformation he claims Barker got wrong, and makes one fairly startling change to the narrative.  

To begin with, early accounts claim that Partridge's first name is Newell.  However, later on he goes by Merle, and claims that there was a mix-up with his birth certificate, on which Newell was wrongly put instead of Merle. 

Further, the incident with the television apparently didn't end with just turning the set off.  In his interview with Wamsley, Partridge claims that the television tube actually exploded, breaking out the glass and ruining the whole set, which had to be replaced. But, the most significant change to the story involved what was actually seen.

In the interview with Wamsley, Partridge also claimed that he never described the red circles as eyes. In fact, there was nothing living, nor organic about them whatsoever.  He kept emphasizing that what he really saw were flashing, red lights of a mechanical nature. Also, the flattened, worn down area where the dog's prints had been found going around in a circle had previously been blamed on cows.  Now, it was suggested that something 'more than a helicopter' had been out there, flattening the grass in the field. 

Merle Partridge.  Still from Eyes of the Mothman documentary (2011)

Partridge goes on to further explain in this interview that a neighbor about 2 miles away also had the same thing happen with HIS television that night, and for about a week following the incident, things were eerily quiet and devoid of the usual outdoor nature noises. There's also a story that Partridge feels is connected about a neighbor coming to him for help about a week later because his younger son went missing, only to reappear walking down the road in a direction where it would have been impossible for him to come from.

So what is up with the inconsistencies in this story?  Partridge claims that ufologist Gray Barker got a lot of details wrong, and to be quite honest, we now know that Barker could be a little less than truthful when it came to his UFO research.  But were these honest mistakes, misunderstandings, or flat out lies on his part?  And why would newspaper reporters say the same thing about Partridge seeing glowing red EYES at the time of the incident?  They wouldn't have gotten information from Gray Barker, who interviewed Partridge AFTER the newspaper articles came out for his book that wouldn't be published until 1970.

Was Partridge intimidated or threatened by someone to change his story, or did two decades take a toll on his memory?  Was he simply trying to clear up years of misinformation? And if we do assume that the red lights were mechanical in nature and not eyes, does that mean that Mothman arrived in or was accompanied by some sort of craft?  

Over 50 years later, and we aren't any closer to solving the Mothman mystery.  Nevertheless, the body of lore surrounding this elusive winged humanoid continues to grow, as does interest in its story.  Keep checking Theresa's Haunted History Facebook page and blog to stay up to date on West Virginia's favorite cryptid! 

Friday, August 14, 2020

Book Review for Paranormal Files: West Virginia

Title: Paranormal Files: West Virginia

Authors: David Weatherly, Ross Allison, and Dave Spinks

Published: 2019 by Eerie Lights Publishing

Amazon Ordering Information

You know me...I can't resist a book about West Virginia's paranormal history!  One of my latest acquisitions is Paranormal Files: West Virginia, a collaboration between three well known authors--- David Weatherly, Ross Allison, and Dave Spinks. 

I have quite a few books about haunted locations throughout the Mountain State, so I was pleasantly surprised by this book's unique format in sharing West Virginia's ghost stories. Both well known tales, and more obscure haunted locations are represented in three different sections covered by a separate author.  David Weatherly starts off with the Ghosts of Harpers Ferry. Stories such as Screaming Jenny, John Brown's Ghost, and Dangerfield Newby at Hog Alley are covered from a historic standpoint, but the author also discusses his own personal experiences and investigation data from both the former Hilltop Hotel and a private residence in the area.  

The second section of the book, authored by Ross Allison, is dedicated to West Virginia's haunted campuses. I'm pretty sure there isn't an institute of higher learning anywhere in the state that doesn't have at least one ghost story, and quite a few are represented in the book. Marshall, WVU, Glenville State, and others are featured, and there seems to be quite a bit of details added to the history of these haunted locations that tends to be largely left out of other works.

Paranormal Files: West Virginia wraps up with a chapter from Dave Spinks on the Haunts of Greenbrier County. As Dave is an active paranormal investigator in the state, this section strays from the simple re-telling of a ghost story.  Rather, Dave investigates each location mentioned in this section, including The General Lewis Inn, the 'Angel of Death Statue' of Old Stone Church's burial yard, and the Greenbrier Ghost. 

Also included in this book are the individual tributes of each author to the amazing Rosemary Ellen Guiley. Rosemary was an author and researcher who dedicated quite a bit of time in researching ghosts and monsters of West Virginia.  She tragically passed away July 18, 2019, leaving a void in the paranormal research community.  Ending the book with these touching remembrances was a sweet way to wrap up a volume of West Virginia ghost stories.

So what did I think of the book as a whole?  As stated, I thought the format was pretty unique. Having each author cover a small subsection of West Virginia's haunted history made for a fast and entertaining read. Each author brought his own writing style and point of view to the book. Aside from a few minor, yet distracting editing issues, each section was well-written and was full of information, both of a historical and a haunted nature.  This is definitely a book I'm glad to have on my shelf, and if you're a collector of paranormal non-fiction, or just love to read the haunted history of West Virginia, you'll want to add it to your shelf, too! 

*MORE Book Reviews*

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Haunts of High Street: Harpers Ferry

Photo courtesy of True Treats Facebook
Harpers Ferry is arguably one of the most haunted towns in West Virginia. It's also (in my opinion) one of the most beautiful and picturesque little towns in the Mountain State.  Walking down its narrow roadways, it's easy to imagine yourself walking those same streets over 150 years ago.  Not much has changed since Harpers Ferry experienced the 1859 armory raid by abolitionist, John Brown, or since it became a strategic location for both sides during the American Civil War.

But, a lot has changed since Harpers Ferry's earlier years! 

Robert Harper was the first white man to own land in what is now known as Harpers Ferry, having come to the area in the 1750's.  After George Washington visited the area in the late 1700's, he decided that the area would be the perfect place to construct a new federal armory, and the town grew from there.  However, it wasn't until 1852 that the town was finally incorporated and town officials were elected. After the Civil War devastated area factories, mills, and shut down the federal armory, the population of Harpers Ferry fell, and time seemed to come to a halt.

Today, the quiet little gem, located at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, is the location of a National Historic Park, established in 1944.  As far as national parks go, Harpers Ferry is a tiny one, but I'm convinced that every square inch is packed with ghosts from the town's bloodied history.

High Street is the main thoroughfare through Harpers Ferry's historic district.  Many of the buildings located in this section of town pre-date the Civil War, having been built in the 1830's and 1840's to serve as housing for armory employees and to serve in various other capacities related to the armory. 

The 3-story red brick building located at 144 High Street was built around 1843 and houses the Village Shop, and also the most awesome candy store in the state:  True Treats Historic Candy

True Treats is owned and operated by Susan Benjamin who opened up the High Street shop in 2010.  The store features a variety of candies for sale, showcasing the history of candy from its earliest days through the early 1900's. The shop is part store, part museum, as Susan uses academic research to ensure historical accuracy in the selections she offers, as well as with the educational material she puts out relating to the history of candy.  You can tell from her videos on True Treat's Facebook page that she truly is a knowledgeable individual who absolutely LOVES talking about candy!

But it's another employee at the shop who has a slightly different passion.  Manager Tara Dockman has earned the nickname of 'Ghost Lady,' thanks to her sensitivity to paranormal activity.  Tara claims that True Treats is home to not one, but TWO ghostly residents.  The first ghost who calls True Treats home is a female who wears a white, flowy gown.  This particular ghost is the shyer of the two, and prefers to hang out in the upper levels of the building, away from guests.  However, she has been blamed for throwing candy around and slamming doors customers' faces.

The second ghost at the location is a male whom the staff call Colby.  Colby also likes to throw candy and slam doors and seems to be a bit more aggressive than our lady in white.  He's been known to push people, but has calmed down after being reprimanded for the behavior.  The strange thing about Colby, though, is that he never seems to materialize in full form.  Rather, he shows up in...for a lack of a better phrase...pieces.  Witnesses will see a pant leg disappear around a corner, or a man's shoulder glide past them, but never a full-body apparition. Former employee, Christine, has noted that on one particular night during her employment at True Treats, things got super crazy, with cups spinning and a plaque falling off the wall.  Was it Jacob the Troublemaker, or the Lady in White?  And just who ARE these two phantom inhabitants of this world-renowned sweets shop? Are they connected to the land or to the building?  Or, are they just drawn in by all the old-time treats that fill the lower level of the red brick building on High Street?

True Treats Google Streetview.  That's Hog Alley on the right! 

Speaking of red brick buildings on High Street...

While researching the ghosts of True Treats, I began perusing some of my books on West Virginia hauntings and ghost stories. In A Ghostly Tour of Harpers Ferry, by Shirley Dougherty (1989), I rediscovered the tale of Jacob.

According to Dougherty, a red brick building on lower High Street, just a couple of stores away from Hog Alley, was used during the Civil War as a Confederate prison.  The prisoners were housed on the third floor, while guards and other staff, including a young prison guard named Jacob, were housed on the lower two floors.

One night, Jacob went out with a lady friend, and asked his fellow guards to cover for him.  However, that same night, there was a surprise inspection. Jacob's friends tried to cover for him, but they ended up getting in even MORE trouble for doing so.  Needless to say, they weren't too happy with Jacob and planned on teaching him a lesson.  So, they tied his hands and feet together, stuffed feathers into his mouth and nose, and beat the crap out of him.  However, after they decided he had had enough, the young men were horrified to find Jacob not breathing. They had inadvertently suffocated him to death.

Panicked, the guards quickly constructed a crude wooden coffin and shoved Jacob's body in it with the intent to bury it out back and claim that Jacob had deserted his post.  But, as the group tried to walk down the stairs carrying the coffin, one of them slipped and lost his grip.  The coffin crashed down the stairs and out the back door, spilling Jacob's body out right in plain view of the neighbors who had rushed out to see what the noise was all about. Although the group was punished, it seems as if Jacob was still buried in the backyard as planned.

His body and his spirit never left the property where he spent his last moments.  People who lived in the building after the war ended claimed that they could hear the phantom sounds of a struggle and crashing noises going down the stairs.  Objects would be thrown about, locked doors would open by themselves,  and once, a pair of pewter candlesticks were found bent with a man's fingerprints embedded into the metal.  The letter 'J' was also found carved inside a window pane.

I've taken a look at maps and the National Register of Historic places application for the area, and I don't THINK the house where Jacob died is the same that houses True Treats, but I'm not 100% sure.  Could 'Colby,' really be 'Jacob'?  Their behavior does sound similar and both locations are described as being in close proximity to Hog Alley, which is home to its own ghost story! 

Sources and Additional Reading:
Haunted Harpers Ferry, West Virginia: A Modern Witch's Guide.  MoodyMoons 4-9-2019

True Treats Named No.1 Candy Store in West Virginia.  The Journal article, by Mary Stortstrom 10-07-2015

Ghostly Things are Happening in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. By Deborah Block 10-30-2017

Harpers Ferry Wikipedia

True Treats Website

Harpers Ferry NPS Website

Harpers Ferry Historic District National Register application

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Happy Independence Day 2020

Happy Independence Day from Theresa's Haunted History of the Tri-State!  If you're staying in this year, celebrate with a virtual tour of the United States...the HAUNTED United States...with my Haunted America page, featuring ghost stories from all around the country. You can also join me on Facebook and Twitter for more patriotic-themed paranormal goodies all day long.

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July weekend, everyone. 

Friday, July 3, 2020

The Bee Gee Board

A friend recently sent this to me and I thought it was perfect for today's Friday Funny! It reminded me of a recent incident with my son. He has his moments of fleeting interest, but for the most part he absolutely does not follow in my footsteps with a love of all things spooky.

After watching the paranormal episode of Brain Games on Disney+, which featured a segment on how the Ouija Board operates using the ideamotor principle (and is NOT controlled by spirits) I thought it would be funny to pull out our own Ouija Board for Family Game Night!  My child was NOT impressed and refused to play. I asked him what he was afraid of, given that we just watched an explanation on how it wasn't paranormal.  His reply was that the Brain Games show was only ONE opinion, and he had seen plenty of other videos that to him, proved Ouija Boards were portals to the spirit world, and he wasn't about to take any chances. I guess I should be happy that my son is overly cautious when it comes to things like that.

I hope you stay overly cautious this weekend as well!  Have a safe and happy Fourth of July weekend. Practice social distancing, don't drink and drive, watch your fingers around fireworks, and as always...


For more Ouija Board information, including an explanation of the ideomotor principle, see my article, Ouija Boards ARE Dangerous.