Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Ghost of Anna Potts

Posted at Anna's Violin
I recently stumbled upon a new-to-me ghost legend from the Clifton area of Mason County, WV.  Once a coal mining area in the mid to late 1800s, Clifton, which is named for a small cliff in the area, sits along the Ohio River about a mile and a half south of the town of Mason.  No longer home to even a post office, the former "town" of Clifton does yield a few street names within its vicinity that offer a few clues from its past:  Cliff Road, Cliff Street and Old Clifton Road are obvious examples that help mark out the town and roads such as Blake Street, Stewart Street and Rader Lane are a tribute to some local families.  

But within the maze of streets, marked and unmarked, you'll find one in particular that goes by the name of Ann Street...

While I can't be for certain how Ann Street got its name, its a neat little coincidence that the ghost of Anna Potts has been seen in the area for over 200 years!

As the legend goes, Anna McDade Potts and her husband Sandy came to this area shortly before the Revolutionary War, when tensions were still high between white settlers and local Native American tribes.  But there was something about Anna that fascinated the local Indian population.  Her bright red hair and creamy white skin was unlike anything they had ever seen before and bestowed upon her the moniker: Great Spirit Woman with Hair of Fire.

Anna and Sandy had two daughters who presumably took after their mother, for a local tribe became obsessed with one of the girls.  They came to the Potts and offered a trade of 10 horses for the girl.  When the family refused, they came back with 20 horses.  The second refusal enraged the Natives and legend has it that they attacked the family.  Anna and her two daughters were raped and the daughters kidnapped.  Sandy was allegedly attacked and had both his legs burned off.  

For the rest of her years, Anna grieved over the loss of her daughters.  Each November, she would leave her little farm and search the neighboring settlements for any evidence of her daughters.  She searched all winter long before returning to the farm each May.

To some people, Anna never gave up her search, even after her death.  Over 200 years later, the Great Spirit Woman with Hair of Fire still rides the countryside on her faithful mule, searching each winter for her missing daughters.  She is sometimes seen, but more often she is heard; her grief-filled wails pierce the darkness near Clifton Woods and she cries and screams across the centuries.  

This story is so well known locally that a West Virginia author took the story and turned it into a novel. From Out of the Forest by William Winebrenner was an instant success and is/was being made into a move called Anna's Violin.  Buzz over the book and upcoming movie has led to a number of people coming forward with their own experiences, attributed to Anna's ghost.  

The photo above was brought to a book signing at the Pt. Pleasant Farm Museum  by a young girl who claimed to have caught the image on her family's game camera in the woods.  It came courtesy of the author, and the blog cited below.  Also available on the same blog is a video interview with another gentleman who claimed to have witnessed Anna's ghost when he was a boy.  Go to the link below and listen to what happened to him while out one evening!

If you have any additional information on this WV ghost story, or have seen/heard/experienced the ghost of Anna Potts for yourself, I'd love to hear from you!  Feel free to comment below or send me an email at!

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