Saturday, March 31, 2012

Top Five Links of the Month! (March 2012)

It's been awhile since I posted a links post, so here goes!  And check back tomorrow, as my blogging will take on a more personal style for a special Weekend Review post.  Have a great weekend, everyone!

1. My West Virginia Home--I could spend DAYS on this site looking at the photos and reading all the wonderful information from around the Kanawha Valley.  This site is HIGHLY recommended.  There are so many interesting stories that you could literally get lost in all the history and culture.  It's not just for research purposes, although it definitely is wonderful for that.  I've honestly never seen anything like it!

2. Pioneer Nurses of West Virginia--Another great historical resource.  Hospitals are always said to be haunted, and this site has historical information on many historic hospitals, some of which are long gone.  I've used this site quite a lot in my research and the best part is...the site has tons of pictures and postcards of different hospitals!

3. Flashlight Method Debunked--Colorado Para-tech offers this YouTube video explaining how the popular method of ghost communication seen on Ghost Hunters may not be as paranormal as first believed.  A must-see for all investigators!

4. Phantom Toilet Flushes--Are toilets flushing themselves paranormal?  Do ghosts really have to go?  This article offers a few reasons why a toilet may be flushing on its own.  Hehe, the idea of haunted bathrooms will be addressed in a later post, but since phantom flushing comes up as a sign of possible ghost activity SO much, I thought I'd share this article now.

5. Visionary Living--the personal website of my favorite paranormal author and lecturer, Rosemary Ellen Guiley.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Sniff, Sniff. What's that Smell?

Phantom odors have always been tied to hauntings and ghost stories.  Before sophisticated equipment could measure EMF and voice recorders were picking up EVPs, personal stories of encounters with the supernatural nearly always came accompanied with a particular odor.  Even today, part of our investigator's interview questionnaire always include questions about phantom odors, and any personal experiences involving such are carefully documented.

But why are we so interested in phantom odors?

Many believe that phantom odors are an excellent way for an entity to communicate with the living.  It presumably takes less energy to manifest a scent than to manifest as a visual apparition, make a noise, or move an object in our realm.  Certain scents can also help identify an entity, such as a loved one's favorite perfume or the unmistakable scent of a pipe smoker's tobacco.

Certain scents may also even help a witness distinguish what KIND of paranormal entity they are dealing with.  According to folklore, some entities manifest a rather set array of phantom smells.  For example, demonic or evil entities are believed to make their presence known with a foul smell, such as sulfur, rotting flesh, and even feces.  Marian apparitions, or visions of the Virgin Mary and other saintly or religious figures are said to give off an odor of fresh roses.  And of course, the entities of once living human beings tend to give off very human smells, such as a favorite cologne or perfume, cooking smells, and the smells associated with favorite smoking devices.

To me, it does make sense that an entity would use scent to make its presence known, as scent is the human sense most strongly linked to recall memory.  Smells can evoke emotions and bring up memories in a way that other senses simply cannot.  However, it is extremely important to note that like all senses, the sense of smell is not infallible, and all natural causes must be ruled out before a phantom smell is classified in the paranormal realm.

According to Dr. Hoffman of the Medical Consumer's Advocate, smell is a chemical sense.  That means, when you smell something, your brain is perceiving specific airborne molecules.  These molecules bind to receptors in the olfactory epithelium, which is the tissue that lines the back of the roof of the nasal cavity.  Nerve impulses are generated, which travel first to the olfactory bulb, then to other areas deeper within the brain.  That means, there's a lot of places where things can go wrong along the way...

In the medical world, the term for phantom smell is phantosmia.  Some phantom smells are simply hallucinations, plain and simple, brought on by any number of psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia.  We generally tend to think of hallucinations only being visible in nature, but any sense can be affected by these psychiatric hallucinations.

That said, smelling something that is not there doesn't automatically point to a psychiatric disorder.  Physiological issues are more often the culprit when it comes to phantom smells.  Damage to the brain and anywhere along the "smell route" as a result from sinus infections, injury, medications, dental issues, brain tumor, or temporal lobe epilepsy can cause phantom smells.  Migraine sufferers will often report phantom smells, the more popular being coffee and smoke, right before a migraine, and those with temporal lobe epilepsy sometimes report similar right before an episode.  As it is theorized that phantom smells can stem from issues from both the smell receptors AND the central nervous system, any experiences with phantom smells should be well documented and reported to a doctor as soon as possible.

There's also another facet to the long list of dysosmias (olfactory disorders) that can be mistaken for paranormal activity:  parosmia.  Parosmia is a distortion of smell.  Not as common as phantom smells, parosmia is still something that must be taken into consideration whenever a certain odor is associated with a haunting.  The main reason for this is because of a horrible sub-category of parosmia called cacosmia, where the person will smell fecal matter in place of another smell.  Since foul odors are associated with negative hauntings, falsely smelling a foul odor may cause a bias in perception.

Dysosmias, including, but not limited to, parosmia and phantosmia aren't the only natural explanations for alleged phantom smells of a paranormal nature.  Scent ions are strange little things...they can become trapped in fabrics, masonry, and even wood surfaces to be released months, and even years later with the right change of humidity, temperature, or barometric pressure.  Scent ions also travel in ways that may not make a lot of sense at first.  One major false positive that I've personally experienced is foul odors coming from drains, and even toilets in homes where the water has been turned off.  Neighborhoods and apartment buildings are also exceptionally vulnerable to false phantom smells coming from other locations.

So if phantom smells are a part of your suspected haunting, keep a few things in mind: 

1. Get confirmation from another, unbiased source that there IS in fact a smell
2. Document each event
4. Rule out natural explanations
5. Read Theresa's Haunted History of the Tri-State for more information!

UPDATE April 2014: Here's a wonderful article explaining the science behind the link between smells and memory:
Science Daily

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Book Review for Monsters of West Virginia

Title:  Monsters of West Virginia
Author:  Rosemary Ellen Guiley
Published:  2012 by Stackpole Books
Amazon Purchase Info

I've always been a huge fan of Rosemary Guiley's work, so I was thrilled to see that she authored the West Virginia volume of Stackpole Book's new "Monsters of..." series.

Featuring tales of Mothman, the Sheepsquatch, and a host of lesser known West Virginia weirdness, Monsters of West Virginia is the perfect book for anyone with even a passing interest in West Virginia cryptozoology.

Generally, my personal interests  in the paranormal focus on ghosts and hauntings, but I am also a student of ALL types of West Virginia weirdness, and this book is an excellent example of such.  What I especially appreciate is that while cryptids and monsters are the focus of this book, the author does not neglect other aspects of paranormal phenomenon, and even explains how these monsters are possibly connected with such. 

This book serves as a great introduction piece to WV's monsters, but it also holds plenty of information and commentary pertinent to the more serious investigator.  I truly enjoyed this book, despite the fact that I was already familiar with most of the tales within.   The short, well organized chapters made for a quick read by one of the most knowledgeable researchers of the paranormal in the country.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Book Review for Haunted Places in West Virginia

Title: Haunted Places in West Virginia (complete list of haunted places and history in West Virginia and how to ghost hunt)

Author: Steve Davis

Available as a Kindle download from

I'm going to be completely honest...this isn't a book review as much as it is an old fashioned RANT about one of my biggest pet peeves. 

For those who know me, I LOVE books.  I especially love books dealing with the paranormal, with WV history, and of course, a combination of the two--haunted WV history.  Luckily, Aaron shares in (or at least, accepts) my passion and has helped me turn our living room into a library showcasing my personal collection.  I'm proud to say that over the years, I have amassed a collection of paranormal non-fiction that outshines any local public library's or even the "New Age" section of most bookstores.  In addition I have a West Virginia history and genealogy section that although still incomplete, has saved me so much time and money in my research pursuits.

I'm always on the look out for new acquisitions to my I was quite happy when this evening I stumbled upon a new Kindle book by Steve Davis.  Despite the $2.99 price tag, I immediately purchased it.  I can't say that I was shocked by the content, but I was deeply disappointed.  The book's description is as such:  "Every haunted place in the state of West Virginia is right here. This books contains everything you need to start ghost hunting right now. From places to maps to equipment."

I guess it was safe to assume that NOT every haunted place in West Virginia would be represented...just those featured on the Shadowlands Index.  Seriously, this is all the book was: a copy and paste job of the very viewer-submitted indices that Theresa's Haunted History of the Tri-State has tried so hard to correct.  Don't get me wrong...this site and others that steal its information or offer similar lists can be an asset to the investigation community.  They let investigators out there know the hot spots that real people are having experiences at or that have a long reputation in the community for being haunted. 

Despite the fact that these listings are usually horribly inaccurate, they give investigators and ghost hunting enthusiasts a starting point, and an opportunity to do their own research.  And, they certainly don't deserve to be ripped off and sold for profit.

As for the second part of this book...the part about how to ghost hunt.  Well, that consists of a handful of links to where you can buy books and ghost hunting equipment, but no actual information.  While depressing, I'm actually kind of happy.  If THIS is what is selling on Amazon, I will have no problem selling MY book(s)...when I get around to it ; )

Paddy's Irish Pub

The restaurant on 210 W. Liberty Street, Charles Town has seen many incarnations in its culinary history.  First, it was the Charles Washington Inn, named for the town's founder and brother to George Washington.  Later, it was known as C.W. Tiffins, Tiffins coming from the name of the man who originally built the brick building.  As of 2012, it is now known as Paddy's Irish Pub, after closing around 2009 as CW Tiffins.

Throughout these many reincarnations, I can't help but wonder if the resident ghost, Emily, is still making her presence known. 

This location first came to my attention several years ago when it was featured in the book A Guide to Haunted West Virginia, by Walter Gavenda and Michael T. Shoemaker.  In fact, a photograph of the restaurant and its ghostly girl is featured as the book's cover!

According to the authors, the former Charles Washington Inn has had a long history of paranormal activity.  Doors opening and closing, bud vases turning over, and lights turning on and off prompted owners to call in a psychic to investigate the possible haunting.  According to the investigation, the resident ghost of the restaurant was that of a 13 year old girl named Emily who died in a second floor room, known then as the "Pink Room."

Emily is said to be able to communicate with visitors and staff, by dimming the lights in response to hearing her name.  She also gave author Walter Gavenda a start by banging on the restroom wall while he was in there using the facilities.  It was only after driving on to their next destination, that they took a moment to take an outside photo of the building...and were astounded to see a ghostly female image in an upstairs room, looking out the window.

The photo above is the cover of the book, where Emily can allegedly be seen in the upper left-hand window.

Historic Lawrence County Ohio Ghost Story

Here's another historic ghost story, this time from across the river into Lawrence County, Ohio.  Enjoy!

SOURCE: Ironton Register, June 15, 1905

It is putting it mildly to say that the town of Millersport, Ohio was shocked one day last week by the appearance of a ghost in that little village, says the Huntington Advertiser.

The spirit first made itself known by the making of a slight noise like someone waking over a hard floor, and attracted the attention of Thos. Baker, who was cutting weeds for his hogs in an adjoining lot.

The appearance of the supernatural phenomenon was in the old McCown property, which stand on a slight rise next to the hill in the upper end of the town, in a less inhabited district.

Baker was in a lot adjoining the property, which has not been inhabited for some time, when he heard a slight noise, as if some one was walking in the old house. This was of such an uncanny nature that it alarmed him and gathering up his weeds, he left the place and went down into the town, where he told his story, much to the dismay of the neighbors.

Finally, when their curiosity got the better of a half hundred boys and girls, they decided to make a raid on the spot and ascertain the cause of the mysterious noises. So they put out at once with the strong hearted ones in the lead and those not so curious bringing up the rear and altogether presenting a rather formidable appearance to Mr. Ghost, had he come out to do them battle, as no doubt some of the younger once believed he would do.

It was with cautious step that some of the larger ones proceeded to steal up to the window. Scarcely could they believe their eyes when there appeared before them a figure clad in white and standing in the center of the floor with folded arms.

With ghastly faces they looked on in dismay for several moments without being able to speak, but finally, regaining their senses, they turned away their blanched faces and beckoned their less curious mates to come and gaze on the scene.

Several of the younger ones and some of the girls advanced to the open window to gaze spellbound upon the frightful object with abject terror. One of the little girls fainted several times before they could get her back home and finally the whole party fled in terror from the weird place.

The strange appearance is causing considerable excitement and comments in that peaceful little hamlet, where the quiet atmosphere is seldom stirred with anything out of the ordinary routine of the daily life in a small town.

The spot on which the strange presentiment made its appearance was the old McCown property in the east end of town. No one has lived there in the house during the last three months. Previous to that time, Mrs. James Null resided there and after her death, which was about three months ago, no one has moved into it.

Shortly before Mrs. Null's death, her son who was a soldier in the regular army, obtained a release and started home on a furlough, but was suffocated by the escape of gas in an Indiana hotel, and was shipped there for burial. Mr. Null has been dead about four years and the death of Mrs. Null broke up the family, and as a purely a matter of circumstances, no one has happened to move in the house since.

Theresa's Note:  I'm still researching the facts on this case in an effort to find out exactly where the house was located, and more importantly, if its still standing.  I do know that the Mrs. Null spoken of is Cyntha Arthur Null, and that her soldier son is Wilbur.  Wilbur's obituary can be found HERE.

I also found a map from 1887 that shows a McCown property in Millersport, so hopefully that's a good sign!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Buffington House

Here's another fright-bite from Guyandotte.  For full information on this wonderful location, come check out one of HPIR's upcoming Haunted and Historic Guyandotte Tours!

Although the Buffington Family had been in the Guyandotte area since the late 1700s, the current Buffington House, once home to Thomas Buffington and his family, was probably built around 1816.  Thomas Buffington ran a ferry service across the Ohio and the Guyandotte Rivers, and was extremely instrumental in early politics of the Guyandotte area.  Under his tenure, the first Methodist church services in the area were held in his home, as well as many other public and political get-togethers.

After the Civil War, the McGinnis family occupied the home, and it continued in the family for many years.  Dr. McGinnis and his wife had several children, but unfortunately one little boy in particular was not destined to survive into adulthood.  Willie Wirt McGinnis was born in 1870.  He died of croup in the home on October 24, 1874 and the age of 4 years.

The Buffington House is one of the most popular stops on the Haunted and Historic Guyandotte Tours, hosted by Huntington Paranormal.  During our tours, we often have a re-enactor in period dress stationed at the home to talk to guests.  Nearly every time we've done this, the re-enactor and helper inside has had something happen to them!  Most notably, one year a re-enactor and his assistant had a piece of peppermint candy thrown at them...from around the corner!

Last year, some of our tour patrons even had a paranormal experience in the home!  While sitting in the dining room listening to our "Mrs. McGinnis," footsteps were heard coming from upstairs...heavy bootsteps on hardwood floor.  There was no one else in the house.

HPIR has been lucky enough to be granted permission to investigate this home several times, and we've never been disappointed.  It was during one of these investigations where we believe we possibly made contact with little Willie McGinnis.  An EVP was captured upstairs.  Most people who hear it hear the same thing: a young child saying "Mommy...I'm scared."  At the time, we were unaware of Willie's passing.  You can hear this heart-wrenching EVP at our site, listed below.

Huntington Paranormal's Buffington House Investigation 2010

Do YOU want a chance to investigate the Buffington House for yourself?  We are now offering a limited number of teams the opportunity to investigate this historic home!  Please see our website below for more information:

Buffington House Ghost Hunts

Friday, March 9, 2012

Riverview Cemetery, Parkersburg

Riverview Cemetery, located in Parkersburg, WV is one of the area's oldest cemeteries, and a popular stop on the Haunted Parkersburg Ghost Tours...for good reason of course.  There are so many legends, sightings, and ghostly tales about Riverview (not to mention all the fascinating history of those interred), that to do them all justice would require an entire book's worth of information.  Instead, I offer you a brief glimpse into some of the most haunting ghostlore of this historic location.  Sleep well tonight...

The land on which the cemetery now sits once belonged to a 2400 acre holding belonging to the founder of Parkersburg, Captain Alexander Parker.  By the year 1802, Joseph Cook was deeded a 200 acre parcel of that holding, and sat aside a small section for his family cemetery.  Because of this, the cemetery is still sometimes referred to in history books and by locals as the Cook Cemetery, although a Cook wasn't the first person buried on this land.  Records indicate that the first burial in what is now known as Riverview Cemetery belongs to B.W. Jackson, who died in 1801.

By 1843, Cook's children had inherited the property and set aside one acre encompassing the family plot, to be used as a public burial ground.  During this time, the cemetery picked up its name of Riverview Cemetery.  By 1925 that one acre plot grew to 2.5 acres, but has since then not grown in size anymore.  However, there are reports that slaves were buried in unmarked graves outside of the cemetery proper, and when new development hit that area of Parkersburg, homes were built directly atop of those graves.  Some believe that the alleged paranormal activity in nearby buildings is a direct result of former slaves who have had their final resting spots disturbed.

Nevertheless, the recognized 2.5 acres of Riverview Cemetery is home to plenty of ghosts and spooky goings-on itself.  Popular legend states that the memorial statuary found within the cemetery has a habit of getting up and walking around on Halloween.  The most notable of these statues is the Weeping Woman statue, which watches over the Jackson Family plot.

The Weeping Woman doesn't need Halloween to walk around...all she needs is a full moon at midnight in order to awake from her solid slumber and walk around the cemetery, wringing her hands in mourning for those souls lost during the great War Between the States.  If you don't catch her walking around, fear not...the Weeping Woman has another, more uh, verifiable legend surrounding her.  It is said that if a woman who is pure of heart comes to the Weeping Woman with a truly unselfish wish, that wish will be granted.  I know anecdotal tale of no less than 4 women who claim that touching the Weeping Woman statue resulted in the births of their children less than a year later.

Personally, I plan to stay well away from the Weeping Woman and all her magical powers, lol.  I prefer the legend of the Captain's Ghost.  Many times during broad day light and even well after the gate is locked for the evening, witnesses have reported seeing a man in a black overcoat hunched over the grave of Captain George Deming, whose former residence is a short walk from the cemetery and another stop on the ghost tours.

Deming was a sea captain, as evidenced by both the style of his home, and the carvings on his tombstone.  He was originall from the New Haven area, but in 1861 built himself and child a home in Parkersburg.  The Captain died the following year.  Directly beside the Captain's grave is a smaller, weathered stone believed to be that of the Captain's young son who possibly died during one of the area's typhoid fever outbreaks.  The gentleman in black is believed to be none other than the Captain himself, mourning the loss of his child.

More information on this wonderful cemetery can be found in Susan Sheppard's book, Cry of the Banshee!

The beautiful photo above of the Weeping Woman is from the Haunted Parkersburg website.

Theresa's Note:  I've visited this cemetery several times while on the Haunted Parkersburg Ghost Tours.  When I went, the cemetery was unfortunately closed because of the large number of trespassers and vandals, and we did not actually enter it.  However, the cemetery gates remain open during daylight hours for visitors.  I strongly recommend visiting this cemetery if you enjoy ghost stories, but also if you appreciate the rich history of WV.  There are many historical figures interred in the cemetery and all but two wars are represented. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Lehi Hospital: Gone but not Forgotten

The Lehi Hospital in Lehi, Utah was built around 1891 and used as a bank, with the second story being reserved as a ward house for the local LDS congregation.  By 1924, the basement of the building was being used as a crematorium business by a local autobody businessman...and apparently due to a lack of space, the bodies had to be cut into fourths to fit into the small cremation oven.

However, by 1926, the building became Lehi's first hospital, possibly since there were already cremation facilities on site, the perfect size to dispose of amputated appendages and other medical waste?  It is during the time of the building being a hospital is where it picked up its majority of legends and ghostlore:

It is said that the head doctor hung the head nurse from the flagpole.  And, being a hospital, many deaths verifiably did occur.  One such death happened in the elevator, where a patient died while being transported to surgery.

The hospital shut down by 1968 and remained vacant for many years until it was bought by Todd Vincze, who hoped to restore the building.  The costs of renovating such a building are tremendous, so the building was turned into a spook house attraction.  The 'haunted house' attraction was intended to bring in much needed money for repairs and upkeep, capitalizing on the building's macabre history, as well as some reported ghostly activity.  (Theresa's Note:  It always amazes me how many of these haunted Halloween attractions are ACTUALLY haunted, lol)

During its tenure as a haunted house attraction, many crew members had their own experiences, and paranormal investigators were allowed in to properly investigate and document such claims.  Unfortunately, by 2009 (3 years after I posted the orginal article on this site) the building was condemned and torn down.

Luckily, one of the paranormal investigators who had a long relationship with the ghosts of Lehi has documented her experiences.  Those can be found HERE.

Photo property of April Slaughter, from her website listed above

Much of the original historical information is from an ABC4 newschannel investigation

A REAL Poltergeist Story from Texas

The house, according to Google Streetview, May 2011

803 Poppet's Way, Crosby, Texas:  This address, located within the Newport subdivision outside Houston, is a real life Poltergeist story:

The upscale neighborhood first began acquiring modern residents in the 1980s. Ben and Jean Williams were the first to begin reporting problems...mundane things at first like toilets flushing and lights flickering. They also had a tree in their yard covered with strange markings, and rectangular sinkholes began appearing in their backyard.

In 1983, neighbors Sam and Judy Haney began putting in a swimming pool in their backyard and unearthed two coffins containing the bodies of a man and a woman. After some research, the neighbors got in contact with an elderly man named Jasper Norton, who was formerly employed as a gravedigger. He told them the area was once the site of the Black Hope Cemetery and that as many as 60 people, many former slaves, were buried there. The two bodies uncovered in the Haney yard belonged to Betty and Charlie Thomas, former slaves who were buried in the 1930s.

The land the subdivision sits on had remained in the custody of one family from a time prior to the Civil War, to up until when the property was sold in the 1970s to real estate developers. This family owned and operated a plantation, and after the Civil War, continued to employ many freed blacks as farm hands.

It is argued that the former owners of the property did not disclose the inclusion of a small portion of the land that was deeded for use as a Potter's Cemetery, however, it is claimed that the buyer was quite aware of its presence. Eyewitness testimony states that developers bulldozed several wooden crosses and a picket fence during the early stages of development.

In any event, Ben and Jean were the first to build a home on what was the cemetery in 1980, followed soon after by the Haney's. Out of respect for the dead, the Haney's made the tough decision to rebury the Thomas' in the yard, but shortly afterward, the Haney's started reporting hauntings in their home...disembodied voices, etc. Other neighbors were also experiencing activity and began moving out, but the Williams' and the Haney's decided to stay.

Unfortunately, the Williams' began to experience more and more problems. Their grand- daughter became ill, and the sinkholes began opening up. Ben even reported seeing an apparition hovering over his sleeping wife. The Haney's were also still experiencing problems and unexplained illnesses decided to file a lawsuit against the neighborhood's developer. The jury found in favor of the Haney's but the judge overruled the decision. The Haney's, now broke, filed for bankruptcy and fled the home.

The Williams' decided to try their hand at a lawsuit, but decided to gather more evidence first. In their quest, they found an older resident who told them that the strange markings on the tree in their yard actually marked the spot where two young girls were buried. Jean started digging but when exhaustion took over, her 30 year old daughter Tina began. After no more than 30 minutes, Tina suffered a major heart attack and died two days later. The Williams simply abandoned the house after that, seven years after they had first built it, and fled to Montana. The later went on to help co-author the book based on their experiences, the Black Hope Horror.

No current residents are experiencing problems in the neighborhood as reported by a local investigation team who has investigated and researched the area.

(Above photo property of THIS excellent site on the Black Hope Horror. Please visit for more information and more photos.)

UPDATE 2012:  I'm pretty sure the first time I heard of Poppet's Way was on one of my favorite TV shows as a kid...Unsolved Mysteries.  The segment featuring this real-life Poltergeist story can be found on YouTube!  The Black Hope Horror segment appears first in the episode.

Georgia's Corpsewood Manor

In the 1970s, a retired associate professor from the Chicago area decided to give up his former life and build a grand estate outside of Trion, Georgia. Dr. Charles Scudder, rumored Satanist and LSD experimenter, along with his servant and lover, Joseph Odom, gave up all material possessions, and cleared a tract of wooded area in Georgia, on which was hand-built a fine estate.

The estate would come to be called Corpsewood Manor, and held a variety of gothic and ritualistic paraphernalia and decor. It had no electricity, phone, or running water, and the two lived in relative seclusion, save for a small circle of friends who had similar ideals and lifestyles. It is rumored that a life time supply of LSD lured these people to the manor, where they would be involved in sadomasochistic and ritualistic practices. The house contained what was known as the "Pink Room," which held various restraints, torture devices, and homosexual pornography.

One of these members of this small circle, Kenneth Brock, was telling another friend, Tony West, how grandly the two lived on top of the mountain, and Tony concocted a plan to rob the two men. On the evening of December 12, 1982, Kenneth, Tony, Tony's cousin, and the cousin's girlfriend, paid an unexpected social call to Corpsewood Manor. Something in Tony snapped, and both Scudder and Odom, plus their two mastiffs, were brutally murdered.

Following the deaths, the families of the victims engaged in a fierce legal battle. Scudder had written his two children and wife out of his will, leaving everything to Odom. If it was determined that Odom died first, the estate would go to Scudder's family by intestacy. If Scudder died first, the estate would go to Odom's family. It was decided by a court of law that Scudder did die first, but not before the estate was pilfered and burned to the ground.

Many artifacts are still missing, but it is these artifacts that are said to be cursed. Visitors to the site report a strange feeling of impending doom and despair, and those who have taken souvenirs often report a string of bad luck that follows, and the feeling that the artifacts are giving off a negative energy.

Both Odom and Scudder were cremated, and Odom's ashes were spread on the grounds of Corpsewood Manor. Perhaps a part of him is still playing the role of faithful servant and lover, and is protecting the rare and expensive occult and other artifacts that once made up the manor.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Book Review for Ghosts of Greenbrier County

Title:  Ghosts of Greenbrier County
Authors:  Nancy Richmond, along with her daughters Tammy Workman and Misty Murray Walkup
Amazon Purchase Information

Ghosts of Greenbrier County was just what I needed this week:  a well-written, quick read focusing on some of the lesser known haunted areas of Greenbrier County, West Virginia.

Greenbrier County, especially the Lewisburg area, has a long and fascinating history.  The landscape is dotted with tragedy from two major American wars, as well as numerous mine disasters and attacks on early pioneers by Native Americans.  This history is discussed in opening chapters of the book, but written simply and concisely, so as to complement, not overly burden, the main focus of the book:  the haunted history!

Supernatural tales of a more personal nature, as well as those of local fame, are the focus of this slim volume, which offers full-page color photos on every even-numbered page.  Many of the places mentioned in this book, such as the Gen. Lewis Inn and the Old Stone Church Graveyard, have had a long reputation of being haunted and are open to the public.  Other tales are a little more sketchy on details of time and place, thus offering a quick tale experienced by an experience not likely to happen again.

However, both formats work together to bring a wonderful compendium of Greenbrier County lore to life.  This is another book that has a place of honor in my WV paranormal library.  It is a must-read for any investigator in the West Virginia area, as well as anyone traveling to Lewisburg looking for some interesting, off-beat ideas of where to stay and visit!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Lewisburg's Angel of Death

The topic of Lewisburg's Angel of Death statue is one that I had heard several times in passing, usually connected with the ghost tours of the town.  Unfortunately, I was never able to find much information online and with the tours only being conducted in the fall, I just never found the time to go on one of them, either!

Luckily, I have acquired a new book to add to my WV Paranormal Library:  Ghosts of Greenbrier County, by Nancy Richmond.  In this slender volume lies the tale of the Angel of Death, as well as plenty of other goodies that I'll be blogging about in due time.

Anyway, according to the book, the Angel of Death statue is a cemetery marker that can be found in the Old Stone Church Cemetery, located on Church Street.  The marker belongs to a young girl named Maud Mentague (Montague) Mathews.  Some misspellings in the text of the book led to a long, drawn out search for more information, but luckily, there are two photos of the monument found in the book as well, one which offered the correct spelling of the girl's name, as well as the addition of the last name Mathews, which was also left out of the text.  Once that was cleared up, I was able to find the girl's records online.

Maud was born on October 2, 1876 to Alexander R.F. and Laura G. Mathews.  She died on May 30, 1888 at the tender age of 11 years, 8 months.  The legend goes that Maud died from influenza, an illness which caused her lungs to fill with fluid and lead to her untimely death.  Her death certificate officially lists the cause of death as pneumonia.

Needless to say, Maud's parents were grief-stricken over the loss of their young daughter, and erected a beautiful carved angel gravestone to mark her final resting place.  A small ceremony held to commemorate the placing of this angel was attended by two of Maud's best friends, a set of cousins around 14 years old.  As the angel was set in place, each girl kissed a cheek on the angel in memory of their lost friend.

However, shortly after the ceremony, one of the young girls fell ill herself.  She had allegedly contracted the influenza virus and died of fluid on the lungs, eerily similar to the way Maud had died.  It wasn't long after that the second girl died; she was involved in a carriage accident and suffered broken ribs.  The broken ribs punctured her lungs, causing them to fill with blood.  Three friends had now died from similar lung issues, less than a year apart.

From then on, the sweet little angel statue meant to memorialize a child taken too early, has taken on a sinister reputation.  Locally, it is known as the "Angel of Death."  Legend states that anyone brave enough or foolish enough to kiss the statue will die within a year.   Other mentions of the statue online claim that the angel also has the ability to foretell the deaths of certain visitors to the site, although details are left out concerning just how this is done.

When I visited this cemetery in 2009, I distinctly remember seeing this statue, and thinking how creepy it was.  Little did I know, that THIS was the dreaded Angel of Death I had heard mention of, but never could find!  Unfortunately, without a name or even a better time frame, I cannot verify the deaths of the two young friends...a blind search is literally like looking for a needle in a haystack, and I simply do not have the time to back it up.  So for now, enjoy the tale for what it is worth...and if you REALLY want to see something creepy, visit the Find-a-Grave site linked below for the most horrifying close-up photo of this statue that I have EVER seen!

Photo property of Steve Kirby of Find-a-Grave

Friday, March 2, 2012

Old Harden Elementary School

From a research standpoint, Harden Elementary was another one of those locations that required way more effort than was possibly worth it, lol.  I had heard the one-liner story about its alleged haunting over and over again from various websites...but never really could find out much information on it.  I've finally cobbled together something.  While this is a location I'd still like to know more about, and verify a few more facts, I think this will suffice for now.  Enjoy!

The story goes that a teacher of the Old Harden Elementary School could confirm that the building was indeed haunted.  In addition to strange, unaccounted for noises observed at night, an apparition had actually been spotted several times!  The apparition was believed to be that of former principal, Hattie Harden.  The noises, too, were said to have been caused by her.  From what I gather, the story was first submitted to WVGhosts by the witnessing teacher, where it was then picked up and passed along on various other websites.  Here's a little more information:

Hattie Harden was born in Harrison County on December 23, 1877.  She was the daughter of Thomas and Caroline Harden.  There is record from Patterson's American Education, Volume 13 that by 1916, Hattie was already the supervisor of elementary education in Salem, WV.  Hattie passed away on August 20, 1967.  She was 89 years old and her death certificate still listed her profession as teacher.  She never married, and never had any children.  She is buried in Pleasant Grove Cemetery.

I'm not sure when Harden Elementary school became known by that name, nor when it was built.  From the photo I finally found, it appears as if it were a 1920s era school, with a "modern" addition of a style popular anywhere between the 1950s to 1970s.  I'm also not exactly sure when the school ceased being a school.  The latest date of it being a school I could find was in 2004.  It is currently NOT listed on the Harrison County Board of Education site, but is rather currently owned by the Salem United Methodist Church.  It has been replaced by Salem Elementary School as the local K-5 school.

According to their website, Salem United Methodist has seemingly done many renovations on the building, in order to get it into shape to meet the needs of their congregation and the community.  Among other things, a local Girl Scout troop meets in the building.  It is unknown whether or not Hattie still makes an appearance, however. seems that since renovations are one of those things that cause paranormal activity to get stirred up, and the fact that children are still using the building, Hattie might still be watching over her school.  As the daughter of an educational professional, I can personally attest to the old adage, "once a teacher, always a teacher."

Photo from Google Street View

The Ghost of West Virginia Wesleyan

 Name a college or university in West Virginia (or anywhere else for that matter) and you'll likely get a ton of stories regarding ghostly happenings throughout the campus.  West Virginia Wesleyan is no different...

West Virginia Wesleyan is a small private institution in Upshur County, which began in 1890 as the West Virginia Conference Seminary.  In 1895 the school built what was to become the oldest women's dormitory in the United States, Ladies' Hall.  It is Ladies' Hall where the ghostly folklore of West Virginia Wesleyan is centered.

In 1917, a young student and resident of Ladies' Hall by the name of Agnes Howard died after a brief illness.  After looking into the matter at the WV State Archives, and then through,  I found Agnes' death certificate, which states that she died on December 21, 1917 in nearby Harrison County.  The cause of death was due to "complication [sic]."  The imagination can run wild with what the poor young girl actually passed away from. But, while information on her actual death is scant at best,  most reports do indicate, though, that she was single at the time of death, and that she was born in Webster County.

In any case, Agnes Howard, former student of West Virginia Wesleyan DID die while attending the institution, and in her honor, Ladies' Hall was renamed Agnes Howard Hall on June 7, 1920.  Interestingly, her father, C.D. Howard, was quite wealthy and had made quite a generous donation to have the hall built, so some say that it was named in his honor as well. 

While I do not have information pertaining to what floor Agnes occupied while in residence, I'm going to guess that it was the fourth floor, due to nearly all reports of paranormal activity coming from that section alone.  It seems as if Agnes prefers to be felt, and even heard...but rarely seen.  She also apparently likes to bother residents while they are sleeping.  The same stories of beds shaking occupants awake, hearing one's name being called, and phenomenon commonly believed to be sleep paralysis, with and without accompanying hypnagogic hallucinations are reported by numerous students each year.

Campus History

National Register Application for Agnes Howard Hall

Newspaper Article on the Hauntings
The bulk of information on this story comes from this article, which also contains a photo of a painting, allegedly of Miss Howard.

Some of the historical information for this blog came from A History of West Virginia Wesleyan College by Kenneth M. Plummer, pg. 56.