Thursday, October 18, 2018

Spirits of the Dead: A Poem by Edgar Allan Poe

What's the Halloween season without a selection from the original Master of Horror, Edgar Allan Poe?  His poem, Spirits of the Dead, was originally published in 1827, yet it still remains just as creepy and beautiful today as it did back then. Enjoy the poem for what it is...but if you'd like a closer analysis of its meaning, check out this site, Like Paper and Pencil.  Happy Haunting, everyone.  

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Louisville's Witches' Tree

Louisville Witches' Tree (Source)
Gnarled, twisted, strangely-shaped trees can be spooky enough on their own.  However, its when they are given a supernatural back story and explanation that they catch my attention!  That's the case with this creepy old tree in Kentucky's Old Louisville District.

You can find the tree at the corner of Sixth Street and Park Avenue, among the breathtaking architecture of the area's Victorian era homes.  Local author, David Domine, who has written extensively about the haunted history of Old Louisville, tells the legend of the Witches' Tree.  According to that legend, there used to be a grand maple tree growing on the spot of today's tree.  In 1889, this tree was a favorite meeting place for a coven of witches in the area. The witches would meet at the mighty maple tree and cast spells, brew potions, and generally do whatever it is that witches would do.

Unfortunately, the city wasn't too fond of this coven of witches.  However, they WERE fond of the maple tree, believing it would make the ideal May Pole for that year's annual May Day celebration.  The witches warned the town that they'd be sorry if they cut down the tree.  But, the warning was ignored, and the tree was cut down and fashioned into a May Pole.  Meanwhile, the witches found a new location on the outskirts of town to practice...and to plot their revenge.

Exactly 11 months after the maple tree was cut down for use as a May Pole, a catastrophic tornado ripped through Louisville.  The storm hit on March 27, 1890 at 8:30 p.m. It only lasted about 5 minutes, but left a path of death and destruction through Old Louisville.  During the chaos, lightning struck the tree stump---the only thing remaining of the old maple.

As the town struggled to clean up and put the pieces back together after the tornado, something began happening with the tree stump.  From its remains grew a new tree, a tree twisted and gnarled and full of knots.  Locals believed that the witches had conjured the tornado to get revenge on the town for cutting down the maple tree.  The strange and unusual tree that grew in its place was a reminder that the town chose poorly for their May Pole that year.

Today, visitors flock to the area to get a glimpse of the tree for themselves.  They also leave offerings at the tree, possibly for a small blessing of good fortune, and possibly as a reminder of what happens when you cross a coven of witches!

Further Reading and Info
The Witches' Tree Facebook Page
Legend of the Witches' Tree by Katie Molck (October 26, 2015)
1890 Louisville Cyclone--The Filson Historical Society

Storm damage of Union Depot (Source)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Theresa Travels to the Midnight at Moonville Festival

The haunted Moonville Tunnel in McArthur, Ohio is one of those haunted places that I've always wanted to visit, but just never got around to actually making the 1.5 hour drive to do so.  Moonville was once just a small coal mining community in a remote section of rural Ohio, and the railroad route through the area was a long, dark, and lonely trip.

For such a desolate area, there are a surprising number of deaths associated with the Moonville Rail Tunnel, and with such deaths, ghost stories naturally follow.  The most well-known ghost tale is that of the phantom engineer, Theodore Lawhead.  In November of 1880, Lawhead and his fireman, Charles Krick, were killed instantly when their train collided head-on with another train at Moonville.  Since that day, other railroad employees making the same journey have reported a misty white human-shape on the tracks.  Others have claimed that mysterious white lights without an apparent source have been seen along the tracks near the tunnel. The ghost was even mentioned in a Chillicothe newspaper in 1895:

"A ghost (after an absence of one year) returned and appeared in front of a freight at the point where Engineer Lawhead lost his life. The ghost is seen in a white robe and carrying a lantern. "The eyes glistened like balls of fire and surrounding it was a halo of twinkling stars" - Chillicothe Gazette, 17 Feb 1895"

Today, the area around Moonville Tunnel is just as rural and isolated as it was 100 years ago...if not more so.  However, the Vinton County Tourism board and the Moonville Rail Trail Association have worked diligently to preserve the history of the area and covert the former rail route into a beautiful nature trail.

This past weekend, the two organizations held their third annual Midnight at Moonville Festival!  This festival is a wonderful little get-together that not only helps raise funds for the rail trail, but also helps share and preserve the haunted history of the area. There was live music, story-telling, wagon rides to the nearby cemetery, paranormal presentations and a ghost hunt by P.R.I.S.M., tons of photo ops, and plenty of local crafters and vendors.

The festival ran from 3 pm to 11 pm and we arrived a little before 6 pm.  Parking was $5 and then we took the free shuttle down the road to the actual festival.   Both Aaron and I were really impressed with how awesome the festival was set up!  The shuttle dropped us off near the majority of the food vendors.  It was a short walk over the bridge and up the hill to where we made a left turn into the heart of the festival.  From the trail head all the way to the actual tunnel, vendors lined the path selling a variety of Moonville Tunnel t-shirts, souvenirs, and other crafts. There were also a ton of really cool spooky, interactive props that were the perfect selfie spots.
Steve Zarate

A small stage was set up with plenty of straw bale seating.  We took a small break to get our bearings and enjoyed several songs by Steve Zarate. Steve had somewhat of a folksy rock flair and played guitar as well as harmonica in addition to singing.  Also playing that evening were Todd Martin of Mothman, Ben Davis, Jr., and Bart Wiseman. 

After enjoying some tunes, we were ready to make the trek down the path to the haunted tunnel!  Moonville Tunnel isn't very long, and it isn't very wide...but even in the broad daylight it still gave off some spooky vibes. Knowing the amount of tragic history that happened in this isolated area, its easy to see why the tunnel is a favorite spot in the paranormal community.  We didn't see or experience any ghosts in the tunnel during the festival, unfortunately...but we may not be able to say the same thing about the cemetery!

Although most of the festival's activities were free (aside from the parking fee), they were offering horse-drawn wagon rides to the small local cemetery for $10.  The cemetery was close enough that you could have walked to it (and many people did) but we opted for the wagon experience and were glad we did!  Our driver was a lively character and our horses were rather stubborn.  The ride to the cemetery was mostly uphill, and one of our horses, a young stud by the name of Moose, didn't appreciate the hard work of pulling our loaded wagon.  Twice he refused to budge and even decided that the other horse, Bill?, I believe, wasn't doing his share of the work and nibbled on him in protest, lol.  We stopped just short of the cemetery and our driver gave us a brief history of Moonville and the cemetery...and an explanation that Bill's normal partner had been injured this summer and was recovering. 

The cemetery was actually quite small, tucked away into what is now a forested area.  However, the tree cover wasn't always so...lush.  At the time of the first burials, most of the trees in the area had been cleared for the local iron furnaces. Anyway, the sun was setting as we entered the small space, which was decked out for the occasion.  Luminaries lined the trail, faux candles hung from a tree, and wooden cutouts peeked out from every available corner.  Our driver told us that the wooden figures were built by prisoners down in Chillicothe! 

We didn't have too long to spend at the cemetery, but since it was so small, we had plenty of time to take a good look around and take pictures.  Our trip down the hill was much smoother and we arrived safely back at the main festivities.  A couple of interesting things happened while at the cemetery, though.  Aaron checked his phone's charge at the beginning of our short wagon ride to make sure he had enough juice to take video once we got there.  However, by the time we made the trip and Aaron tried to take a photo, he noticed his phone was at 0%.  He hadn't received any of the normal low battery notifications, it just...died.  About the same time he had noticed his phone battery was dead, I had noticed something off in the woods.  At about a height of 8-9 feet, I saw what looked like a very concentrated ball of fog, about the size of a basketball, making its way down through the trees before it just disappeared. 

Unfortunately, that was really the only strange thing that happened that night, but we had a great time, nonetheless!  I had an eerily accurate tarot card reading, and came home with a Moonville Tunnel drawstring bag, a sticker, and the book, A History of Moonville, Ohio and a Collection of its Haunting Tales, by William M. Cullen.  Aaron purchased a Moonville Tunnel shot glass and a hand-crafted wooden Moonville Tunnel Rail Trail sign. 

If you get a chance to visit the Midnight at Moonville festival in the future, I'd highly recommend it! It was a really fun way to spend the evening, and everyone we encountered was very friendly and helpful.  All the volunteers that came together to make this festival happen seem to be really passionate about bringing awareness of Moonville's history and its future endeavors to as many people as possible. 

Further Reading:
Midnight at Moonville 2018 Festival Facebook Event Page
Moonville Tunnel:  The Ghosts, The Legends, The Town
Haunted Hocking: Moonville Tunnel Ghosts

Monday, October 15, 2018

Spooky Tunes

The tri-state area of West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio is absolutely full of ghost stories and other legends that have found firm roots in our local culture.  Often, these iconic tales become the inspiration and basis for local musicians.  These songs help to preserve and share the stories behind our favorite spooky citizens.  For today's blog, I've compiled a very short list of ghostly-inspired music---three songs from my home state of West Virginia, and one each for Kentucky and Ohio.  Take a few moments to listen...and then hop on over to Theresa's Haunted History Facebook page to let me know any of your suggestions for songs inspired by true events.

1. Behind Red Eyes--A Tribute to Mothman by StellaRising:  West Virginia's favorite cryptid has a number of songs written about and inspired by him, but Behind Red Eyes is probably my favorite.

2. The Being:  The Being, by Argyle Goolsby is an awesome tribute to The Braxton County Monster, which has for years, been lost in the shadows behind Mothman.  However, I think as the local community of Flatwoods and surrounding areas continues to embrace their weird history, we'll be seeing a lot more from this mysterious creature.

3. Johanna:  Bobby Mackey, musician and owner of the super-haunted Bobby Mackey's Music World in Wilder, Kentucky, has written a couple of songs about his bar's resident ghosts.  Johanna is a tribute to a young pregnant woman who worked at the location in the 1930s.  Johanna is believed to have committed suicide after her father had the father of her unborn child killed.

4. The Greenbrier Ghost:  Johanna isn't the only ghostly girl to have a song written to her memory.  The Greenbrier Ghost, by Steve Schroeder tells the story of Zona Heaster Shue and her untimely end at the hands of her husband.

5. Ghosts of the Moonville Tunnel: This song, by Ron Mash, tells of Ohio's Moonville Tunnel and the ghosts that roam the former train tunnel, taken too early by railroad accidents in/near the tunnel.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Shadows of Ghent

West Virginians are no strangers to tragedy.  As a state, we were born out of the chaos of the Civil War, and throughout our 150+ years of statehood, have seen numerous mine accidents, train crashes and other violent acts of nature and man.  Nevertheless, its never easy when such tragedies strike, taking the lives of our fellow citizens far too soon.  West Virginia saw one of these tragedies on the morning of January 30, 2007.

Photo by W. Dayton Whittle, via NYTimes

It was a little before 11 a.m. when employees at the popular Flat Top Little General Store (a gas and convenience store) located near Ghent, WV called 911 to report a suspected propane gas leak. First responders, including members of the Ghent Volunteer Fire Department, along with at least two propane technicians responded to the issue.  To several of these first responders, it would be the last call they would ever respond to.  Something ignited the propane leak, destroying the Little General store and tossing the fire truck parked outside over like a toy.  It was said that homes up to a mile away experienced windows being blown out, and one resident even claims the force threw her from her couch.

The explosion rocked the small community, both literally and figuratively.  Four people were killed instantly, and another five were injured.  The first reports that came out about the explosion stated that the deceased included a volunteer firefighter, a county building inspector, and an EMT.  Later, the names of the victims were released.  They were:

Ghent Fire Chief, Fred Burroughs
Craig 'Toad' Dorsey, Jr.
Glenn Bennett and Jeffrey Lee Treadway, both listed as propane technicians.

Three years later, volunteer firefighter, Donnie Caldwell, would pass away from complications associated with the injuries he suffered during the explosion.  The devastation from this event was immeasurable.  Many in the community lost a friend, a co-worker, a neighbor, or a relative.  A popular store serving both locals and visitors to nearby Winterplace Ski Resort was leveled.  Over ten years later, the scars from that cold, winter day run deep.

This is still a fresh tragedy, with the victims' families and friends still alive and living in the area.  Because of that, it was hard for a witness to come forward with quite an unnerving story associated with the site of the former Little General Store.

Back in 2015, someone with the username, wvseller, posted a personal experience on the Your Ghost Stories website. Definitely go check out the website to read the complete story in the author's own words, as it is a really interesting experience.  In short, however, the author had to drive by the Little General location one evening in August 2014.  A black, shadowy human figure, described as being darker than dark, was spotted on the Little General side of the road.  As it ran towards the road, the author slammed on the brakes, and the figure crossed in front of the car.  Before the author could make sense of what had just been seen, three more shadowy figures ran across the road from the Little General side, disappearing into the woods opposite.

Were these four shadow beings representative of the four men who were taken that January morning...or was it all just an ironic coincidence?

*My thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by this tragedy.  In posting the names of the victims, it is not my intention to exploit their plight, but rather to help preserve their memory.*

Further Reading:
New York Times article by Ian Urbina
Register-Herald article on the 10th anniversary of the explosion

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Elk Garden Cemetery UFO

West Virginia is a weird place.  The amount of ghosts, monsters, UFOs and other strangeness here in the Mountain State make West Virginia a paranormal enthusiast's dream.  And, one of the weirder incidents in our spooky lore is the Elk Garden Cemetery UFO.

RD Dean Memorial I.O.O.F. Cemetery Gate and Nethken Methodist Church in background. Photo by KC of Find-a-Grave (2014)

UFO flaps are nothing too out of the ordinary, and West Virginia has seen a few times over the years where a large amount of unidentified flying objects have been seen by multiple witnesses over a period of time.  One such UFO flap occurred in the small community of Elk Garden, located in Mineral County, during the 1960's and 1970's.  It seems as if a large, rounded craft was seen shining lights in the vicinity of Nethken Hill, especially around the local Methodist Church and its adjoining cemetery.  The best viewing spot was around the Kalbaugh Farm on the western side of the hill, and it wasn't unusual for carloads of residents and out of town visitors to drive up the hill and try to catch a glimpse of the unexplained lights.  Not everyone was lucky enough to see the lights, but a few residents did over the years, including a local minister.

The incident in question was documented in Bob Teets' 1994 book, West Virginia UFOs: Close Encounters in the Mountain State.  On the evening of October 8th, 1967 Reverend Harley DeLeurere was contacted by a member of his congregation (noted in the book as being the town's mayor) and the man's adult son.  The man and his son told the minister that they were going to watch for UFOs on Nethken Hill and asked Rev. DeLeurere to join them.  He gladly did...and it would be about two hours later that he would question that decision.

At that point, the men noticed something strange near the roof line of the Kalbaugh home.  The mayor's son described it as 'a big turtle with lights on it.' The craft moved towards the Methodist Church cemetery, but it ultimately ended in the nearby R.D. Dean Memorial I.O.O.F. cemetery.  There is hovered over a day-old grave at a height of about six feet and shone a beam of light directly down onto the fresh grave. The men ran towards the cemetery, but by the time they got there, the craft and the light had vanished without a trace.

It was believed even at that time that there was a connection between new burials at both cemeteries and the strange craft.  It seemed to many that any time someone was buried in either the Methodist Church or the I.O.O.F. cemetery, the mystery lights were seen.  But what WAS the connection?  West Virginia isn't the only area where UFOs have been seen hovering over cemeteries.  According to the site, Inexplicata--The Journal of Hispanic Ufology, similar tales can be found in Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, and elsewhere.  One theory that has been proposed is that these UFOs are sending these beams down to freshly buried bodies to retrieve previous alien implants from those bodies.

The community of Elk Garden only had a population of about 300 during the time of the sightings and witnesses do feel there was a correlation between the lights and new funerals.  If these lights were intended to retrieve implants...well, that's a HUGE chunk of residents that must have had these implants!  What was so special about this community and its citizenry that would warrant such close study by beings from another world?

Out of curiosity, I went to the Find-a-Grave page to check out the list of burials for the R.D. Dean I.O.O.F. Cemetery.  The VERY FIRST entry was for an 81 year old woman named Berdie Mae Roderick Abernathy.  Berdie Mae passed away on October 5, 1967...just days before the incident noted by Rev. DeLeurere.  Could she have been the owner of the fresh grave that allegedly drew the attention of a turtle-shaped craft from beyond our understanding?

In a state full of weirdness, this is truly one of the stranger incidents, not just in West Virginia UFO lore, but of UFO lore in general.  Why do YOU think these UFOs were so interested in these two little cemeteries in a small WV community?  Let me know your thoughts down below in the comments or over at Theresa's Haunted History Facebook

Friday, October 12, 2018

I Used to be Somebody

Today's Friday Funny is another cute, silly cartoon that we can all enjoy...but there is a deeper meaning that can be read into it. I think we, as members of the paranormal community, sometime need to remember that these spooky bumps in the night that we love to track down were in fact someone once.  Many of them were parents, spouses, students.  They held jobs.  They had friends.  They were someone's child. And many of them were taken out of this world way too soon. There's nothing wrong with enjoying a hauntingly good story or seeking the answers of the afterlife...just keep in mind that you may be dealing with a former living, breathing human being.

Happy Haunting!