Friday, April 3, 2020

Fun Cat Activities: Paranormal Edition

It's time for a Friday Funny!  Does your cute little kitty or doggie seem to commune with something only it can see?  Either my house is the least haunted house in the world, or I have two cats who absolutely don't care about things that go bump in the night.  Six years of sharing space with those two, and I've never seen them act like they could see beyond the veil. 

But, speaking of shadow people...with all the craziness going on in the world over the past few months, I've been trying to keep an eye on paranormal trends.  What I've noticed is that quite a few people have reported a recent increase in paranormal activity, mainly experiences with shadow beings.  I hope to explore that topic a little deeper within the next few weeks, but if YOU have noticed an uptick in activity or have had a recent experience with a shadow being, I'd love to hear from you!  Please let me know your story below, or feel free to contact me via Facebook or Twitter to share your story.  Stay safe and stay spooky everyone, and have a wonderful weekend! 

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Thursday, April 2, 2020

'Ghost' Haunts Grafton's Consolidated Manufacturing Company

It's time for another Throwback Thursday vintage newspaper article!  Today's selection comes from the February 22, 1916 edition of The Daily Telegram, a newspaper based in Clarksburg, WV.  The article mentions that for some time, the Consolidated Manufacturing Company in nearby Grafton had been the site of a haunting.  However, one brave watchman confronted the 'ghost' and found it was none other than a former employee of the plant who had been stealing items, including a typewriter, from his former place of employment.  The story has a happy ending, though, as the ghost wasn't prosecuted, but instead was simply allowed to return the stolen items!

I absolutely love these old ghost stories that remind us that not everything is what it seems!  I'm glad the company regained its stolen property and that the ghostly thief, probably someone fairly down on his luck, was spared a prison sentence in lieu of doing the right thing.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find a whole lot about the Consolidated Manufacturing Company.  From a website devoted to Carr China, it appears that the Consolidated Manufacturing Company of Grafton was built along the Tygart River around 1913, but would go bankrupt in 1916. Later that year, it would become known as 'the pottery,' or the home for Carr China until its closure in 1952.  The building caught on fire in July of 1966, and its burned out remains quickly became a haven for vandals and vagrants.  It was eventually torn down, taking its 'haunted' past with it to the grave. 

Carr China 1934

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Family Death Omen

Like many people throughout the United States and elsewhere in the world, current events have left me with more than the usual free time lately!  I've gotten back into genealogy as a way to fill the time and escape the anxiety.  But, being the paranormal enthusiast that I am, of course I have to throw some family ghost stories into my work as well!

If you've read similar blog posts of mine, you may remember that I credit my grandparents as being a huge influence on my love of the paranormal growing up.  They would often tell me family ghost stories and personal experiences to entertain me during the many overnight visits to their home in Beckley, West Virginia.  Some of my favorite stories came from grandmother's younger days.  One such story is the tale of a bloody pillow and a calendar that refused to stay on the wall from East Beckley, which I've previously written about.  Another favorite is the story of the Woman in White.

Before moving into Raleigh County around the Beckley area, my grandmother and her family originally lived in Summers County, around the Hinton and Talcott areas.  Being your average Appalachian, the family could trace its ancestry back to Ireland and England, with a strong mix of Native American blood thrown in. In fact, most of the extended family lived in an area of Summers County known as Irish Mountain.  I believe that it was partly due to this lineage that led to such a strong belief system in the supernatural.  Anyway, I was fairly young when this tale was told to me, and when I recently asked other family members what they could remember, they didn't know a ton about it.  Apparently, I was the spooky kid in the family who begged for these ghost stories! 

So, piecing together what I can remember and what others could confirm, I believe these sightings did happen mostly around the Irish Mountain area prior to 1940, with at least one case happening during World War II in Beckley.  My grandmother would tell me that members of her family were known to witness the apparition of a woman in white along the road, while coming home after dark.  This woman would sometimes be seen standing by the side of the road.  Other times, she would be directly in front of their vehicle.  In at least one case, a witness believed he had hit the woman with his car and jumped out to find no one.

The witnesses all reported that it was a woman in a flowing white gown who was seen after dark out on the road, but other details seemed to change from person to person. Those who got a good look said she had no face.  Others said she emitted a strange wail or cry. To some, she seemed vaporous and ghostly, while to others she seemed as flesh and blood as you or I.  But no matter how she manifested, one thing was for sure:  seeing this woman was a bad omen, often heralding the early death of whomever came across her on that lonely, dark road.

My grandmother came from a family of ten children, raised alone by my great-grandma after my great-grandfather died when my grandmother was just a toddler.  She was the second to youngest child, and the family relied heavily on help from the older girls to support the family.  One of the older girls was Thelma.

My grandmother was not quite five years old when Thelma died, but she must have made an impression on her.  She always told me that not only did I look like her, but I reminded her so much of the strong-willed, vivacious Thelma.  As a side bar, a few years ago I started researching Thelma and found the greatest newspaper article of all time.  Thelma and her sister, Goldie, were apparently party girls who said to hell with Prohibition.  After being picked up several times for drinking, both girls were thrown in jail!  Anyway, my grandmother's recollection was that Thelma passed away from tuberculosis shortly after giving birth to a baby girl out of wedlock, who was raised as my grandmother's sister.  The father was said to have been a traveling salesman who left shortly after he found out she was pregnant.

Again, during my research, I tracked down Thelma's death certificate.  We were surprised to see that even though we couldn't find her marriage certificate, she was listed as being married.  And, she didn't pass away from tuberculosis---her cause of death was listed as diabetes! The facts remain, however, that she died at the young age of 21 years, and did leave behind a baby girl to be raised by my great-grandmother. It was also common knowledge within the family that shortly before her death, Thelma had seen the Woman in White and KNEW that her time on this earth would be cut short.

One other sibling was also said to have been the victim of the apparition.  My grandmother's brother, Paul, mysteriously vanished and was presumed dead after the Normandy Invasion.  Prior to getting the news no mother ever wants to get, my great-grandmother reportedly witnessed the faceless Woman in White.  However, unlike all the other stories, she saw the apparition not on the road, but in her own home this time!  The family had since moved from Irish Mountain and was living in Beckley at the time. Did the ghostly woman follow the family to its new home in order to resume her role as bad omen?

I've often wondered if there was a chance that my family's Irish ancestry was key here.  There are some similarities to the Banshee and this Woman in White, especially in the versions of the story where she was heard wailing before someone died.  As far as I know, Paul was the last victim of woman, but it wouldn't surprise me to learn that other branches of the family who still live in Summers County still tell tales about a ghostly apparition heralding bad news.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Dying for Social Interaction?

Seriously, though...I hope everyone out there is staying safe and healthy during these trying times.  If you haven't already, please follow Theresa's Haunted History on Twitter or Facebook.  I'll be sharing tons of fun, spooky distractions to keep you informed and entertained throughout this period of social distancing.  I've got tons of stories, documentaries, books, podcasts, and articles to share with you, plus some upcoming ideas on how you can continue your own paranormal investigations and research from home until it becomes safer to get out in the field!  

Let's all do our part to help each other through the next couple of weeks and months. Stay positive, stay healthy, and stay spooky everyone! 

Friday, March 6, 2020

Do Ghosts Watch Me Shower?

Happy Friday, everyone!  I hope you've had a great week and are looking forward to an even greater weekend!  Today's post is one of those Friday Funnies with just a tad of more serious information thrown in, lol.  Recently, my son was asking me some questions about ghosts and one thing he was particularly concerned with was whether or not ghosts were waiting around the bathroom, ready to watch him take his bath.

I told him what I tell others with similar concerns.  The short answer: yes, it's possible...but not very likely.

To stretch this opinion out a bit further, we have to make a few assumptions.  To start, it would seem that the majority of hauntings are not intelligent, but residual in nature. Simply put, that means that there is not a sentient entity at the location. Rather, any paranormal activity that may be witnessed is more like an imprint on the environment, being played back much like a movie on analog tape. There is nothing there to interact with you, let alone stalk your bathroom activities. You can watch a movie being replayed; the movie cannot watch you.

But, let's say that you have been experiencing some intelligent, interactive activity.  There are a lot of theories out there as to whether or not an intelligent haunting is caused by the location being haunted, a person being haunted, or both.  If you have a ghost/spirit/entity that follows you around wherever you go, you MIGHT have them sneaking a peek every once in awhile during your shower.  But, if you believe that intelligent entities are nothing more than people who have died, you have to ask yourself:  would they actually want to see you naked? What's in it for them? If you have any concerns, you may just want to ask them aloud to respect your privacy.  Most people, dead or alive, are apt to comply.

Similarly, if your location itself is haunted and you're concerned that your ghost is hanging out in your tub, ask them politely but firmly to leave you alone.  However, if an entity is tied to a specific location, even as an intelligent entity, it is probably more concerned with its own issues than with your hygiene habits. One of the most popular theories about why ghosts are still here is that they have unfinished business---and YOUR business isn't high on their radar.

So, again, its possible but not likely that you'd have a creepy Peeping Tom ghost watching you take a shower.  Having said that, does seem like quite a few bathrooms have paranormal activity!  You can read more about Haunted Bathrooms on Theresa's Haunted History!

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Ghostly and the Ghastly: A Passel of WV Folk Tales

Like many paranormal enthusiasts in the Mountain State, part of my earliest exposure to West Virginia ghost stories came from the collected works of folklorist, Ruth Ann Musick!  I've read The Tell-Tale Lilac Bush and Coffin Hollow cover to cover multiple times, and both books are still a staple in my personal paranormal library.

Ruth Ann Musick taught mathematics and English at Fairmont State from 1946 until 1967 and during her time there, she started a folk literature class, helped revive the West Virginia Folklore Society, and founded the West Virginia Folklore Journal.  She also collected hundreds of ghost stories from around West Virginia, not all of which ever made it into publication!

Luckily, a handful of these forgotten tales has recently been brought to life by the students and staff of Fairmont State's theater department!  On Saturday, my husband and I attended a showing of The Ghostly and the Ghastly: A Passel of WV Folktales at Wallman Hall Theater.

The play takes a look at ten ghost stories through the eyes of a bored, chatty, and unprepared college folklore class. Their lecture on the preternatural takes on a spooky twist as their professor and fellow students share spooky stories such as Ida Crawford, The Witch and the Onion, and the Fate of Frank Collins.  Together, they learn the importance of folklore and oral tradition, and a little about the history of how their ancestors migrated to this area, bringing with them their own beliefs and culture, which helped to shape Appalachian culture (and ghost lore!) as a whole.

Overall, the play was really good.  Any date night with my hubby is special, but it is extra special when when I can share my love of West Virginia history and ghost stories with him!  The entire cast and crew did a wonderful job in recreating each story and although they were given a more modern context, you could absolutely still just FEEL that same vibe you get when reading one of Ruth Ann Musick's books.  Lighting and music combined with the acting to evoke a spooky Appalachian atmosphere---perfect for a 'passel of WV folktales!' It was apparent that the cast and crew really had fun with this project, and although the atmosphere was a ghostly one, there was plenty of humor thrown in to break up the tension.  I think Ms. Musick would have been pleased at how her (mostly) unpublished stories were portrayed.  According to a recent post by the theater department, over 677 people got to experience this portrayal for themselves through the public performances.

Unfortunately, Sunday was the last day of the play's four-day run, so if you missed it, you may be out of luck.  However, you can always follow me on Theresa's Haunted History of the Tri-State Facebook and Twitter---I try to share all the wonderful paranormal events held throughout the tri-state that I think my readers would have an interest in.  You can also follow the School of Fine Arts' Facebook page for articles, behind-the scenes photos, and more about this play and others!  Maybe if there is enough interest, we could see an encore of The Ghostly and the Ghastly or similar such works in the future!

Any chance you get, please come out and support events such as this that highlight West Virginia's paranormal history and heritage!

Friday, February 21, 2020

Spirit Box Funnies

Have you had any really amazing successes with a spirit box?  Let me know down in the comments, or head over to Theresa's Haunted History of the Tri-State Facebook page to share your story!