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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's Over!

Finally! It's over!

 October and November have come to a close and with it...some exhaustion has appeared in my weary bones. Thousands of people, rainy cemetery tours at night, flashlights that did not work, lost dowsing rods and pendulums, miles of walking tours with achy feet, thousands of miles driving on highways, too many hotel rooms, prisons without heat in the dead of a cold night, faulty EMF meters, multiple book signings without a bathroom break, a haunted bus trip with a "possessed" microphone and bad windshield defrosts, and many more messy details that made up October and November's typical busy season.

Book signing in Mansfield Ohio at Barnes and Nobles

I think I signed several thousand books in October alone!

Borders book signing in North Canton Ohio

Book signing in Massillon Ohio--and the store ran out of my books. I felt bad....and wish I could've made more appear!

All in all it has been a great haunted year as I do this kind of stuff year round. This year's haunted schedule was not as packed as my usual calendar and I suppose getting married, moving 300 miles away, writing 2 books and opening up a new office all had to do with the energy drain. It just seemed as though weird "stuff" happened.

One of my walking tours in NE Ohio

Take for instance the darkly dressed and well tattooed man who came on the walking tour in Canal Fulton Ohio and asked me if I knew of any male witches that were single.
Hmmmm....I had to think about that one.

 Then there was the little girl whose parents asked me if I could "train" her to be more psychic so she could be on TV.
Hmmm....sorry. Can't help you there!

Then there was the gentleman who called me from Toronto and talked for about 45 minutes about how he had a theory about  serial cat...yes....serial cat killers and did I know he could also bend EMF waves with his mind??

Then there were the typical calls from people who had either dreamt of being abducted, had been abducted or had seen a UFO and they were not sure who to call.
I WOULD LIKE TO SEE A UFO too! I can certainly do without the probing though, thank you very much!

 A woman who claimed to be a psychic from southern Ohio...called me and asked ME if I could tell her of a historical society in her area of Ohio. I Googled it while we talked and gave her the info she needed along with the phone number and website. I was a little taken aback as psychics usually don't call ME for information. :-)

I get many calls, email and texts from people I do not know. My poor husband wasn't sure what he had gotten himself into when we went thru the "busy season" with late night phone calls asking if I knew of good ghost tours in Florida, where is the haunted hotel in Colorado, how to deal with Poltergeists, is it true ghosts can scratch you, is there a face in this orb, can you help me with my kids school project on ghosts, how do dowsing rods work, and did I know of a good demonologist??  (and I do!)

Then there was the phone call one afternoon from a production assistant in Michigan who called me in October. Did I know of any haunted houses in Ohio and could I rent it out for them to shoot a movie there. Then she asked me if I knew of any good make up artists for horror movies and if I could give her some advice on videographers.
 I did the best I could.

  A few minutes my phone rang again and the caller wanted to know if I knew when Halloween "Trick or Treat" would a city 250 miles from where I was at.
At this point my husband told me I should start charging a paranormal consulting fee per phone call.

THEN there was the night at the WV Pen at about 2 am.... when we were interviewed by a producer for a popular paranormal tv show. She did not know what EMF meant. It went downhill from there for me. Any investigator should know that EMF stands for Electro mangnetic field.

All in all it's been a great year. Just a bit odd. Of course, I guess I am odd by many standards when it comes down to it.

After all, how many people are over joyed when their husband
 makes them a mini coffin ?

                                My husband Perry hard at work in the shop

The finished product with Mr Bones residing

Some of the highlights of the haunted year included filming for a show on the Discovery Channel. Okay, so the show is now cancelled for the third season...but at LEAST I got to be on one show. :-)

This past summer found me at the West Virginia Penitentiary filming with the Discover Channels GHOST LAB show which I have to admit was fun. Filmed about two hours with the crew and I think I had 25 seconds of air time on the show. Go figure! It was fun and I really did enjoy meeting the Klinge brothers of Everyday Paramormal. The epsiode airs again on Dec 7th at 10am EST on Discovery.

Working on my Two-Lane Livin' column is always fun. I love being a columnist and being amongst the other writers of this great publication! It's been interesting to read email from readers of my column as they sometimes have great details to add from their own experiences. Their input and comments have been appreciated and wonderful!  You can read past and present columns there, buy merchandise and subscribe online.

                                    My column is called "Fireside Folklore".

I also joined this organization and became a member of the WV Writers Inc.
Very cool!

Haunted Heartland Tours LLC was also voted into the Top 10 Best Ghost Tours in America for the 5th time in the last 5 years. We are still at #7 which means alot since they gather the votes online. We had over 5000 votes this year and could not have done it without all the great folks who came out and hung with me.
Our first ghosthunting 101 class at the Whipple Company Store in Fayette Co WV

I was also asked to review a great book by my friend Louis Charles and ended up having my review on the back of the cover. HELPING GHOSTS
 It IS a great book!! You can get a copy here.

The first Haunted History Walk of Summersville WV was a hit this year.
 So much fun for me, too!

Most of all, I have truly enjoyed meeting the great people who come and do the tours, classes, ghosthunts etc.. with me. We had a great turnout at the festivals and presentations we attended and met so many people.  It's like one big haunted family and I love it.

Canal Days 2011 in Canal Fulton Ohio

Me working at the office on book #4 due out soon!

Jared and Sherri at Cuyahoga Falls Ohio presentation

                                                   Jan and her crew

Radio shows are always a blast!  This one was at Akron Ohio with Ray Horner on WAKR am. I've been in the studio on his show a few times and love hearing from callers.

Skeleton Crew member Jodi Ivy and me at the Ohio State Reformatory Nov 19th 2010

The October photo shoot with Mark Romanos photography class was fun as well
Photo by Pam Mace

                      Sage Recco, Shannon Pachuta, me and the gang at a festival

WV Pen guide Lori O'Neill and me at the Pen this past March

                     One of our many haunted bus trips to the WV Pen in 2010

Another haunted highlight of 2010 was the writing and publication of my 2nd book, The Haunted History of the Ohio State Reformatory which sold over 2500 copies in two months after printing. The input from OSR volunteers, ghosthunters, psychics and Mr. Art Glattke Jr, all made it much more interesting and I thank them all!

Honestly, I was happy that it sold 12 copies and people outside of my family actually bought it.                                                           :-)'s over! The spooky season has come and gone.

 I want to thank everyone who volunteers at the Ohio State Reformatory, the various tour guides, Rogues Hollow Historical Society, Massillon Cemetery Association, the Canalway Center in Canal Fulton Ohio, the Whipple Coal Company store owners, West Virginia Archives and Library staff, Summersville Library staff, Tuscarawas County Public Library in Ohio, Martine Bus Tours Inc, Cuyahoga Falls Library, Canal Fulton Ohio Public Library, and the staff at the WV Pen all have made it a great year, once again!

                                            I hope 2011 is just as spooky!


                                                   Thanks Josyln!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Cemeteries, Cameras, and Lanterns, Oh My!

Cemeteries, cameras and lanterns, oh my!

Just another day in the life of Sherri! October 4th found me "posing" for a photography class as a light fog and mist enveloped the hills around us. Mark Romano's photography class from the New River college needed a spooky prop in the cemetery and I guess that meant I was "it."

One of my favorite "trick" photos that my Grandpa Brake did

I grew up with my family in NE Ohio in a home where we had a darkroom in the basement. My dad was a avid photographer and did it mostly as a hobby, but he did do a record album cover for a local singer in Canton Ohio back in the 1980s. My Grandpa Brake was as a photographer as well and was with the first unit of army photographers to visit Hiroshima after the bomb was dropped. Grandpa Brake had a photo studio in Webster Springs WV and ran it for about 20
 years. Anyway, I'm a sucker for anything dealing with photography, nighttime and cemeteries so of course I said "yes" to Marks query as to whether I would help him out with his photography class.

Cemeteries occasionally make people a bit leery, even during daylight hours. Not me! I remember our parents hauling us around Webster County WV many summers ago. They would stick us all in the back of a pick up truck and we would go visit family cemeteries. Sometimes we would sit on the tailgate or cemetery ground and have lunch, snacks, or a maybe just a bottle of pop. We would walk the cemetery, hear about our ancestors and clean some graves. Pulling back vines, brushing off dirt and walking the hillsides of many cemeteries perhaps added to my adult interest and love of the "Silent Cities of the Dead".

When Mark approached me about posing for his students and helping them learn how to use their cameras at night and on various settings, I thought of two places locally in Summersville that would be good back drops. The Walker Cemetery and the Southern Methodist Episcopal Cemetery by the Moose Club downtown.

This photo was taken by Pam Mace and was shot in the old Methodist cemetery next to the Moose Lodge in downtown Summersville. This cemetery is the one we venture into on our Haunted History Walks of Summersville. Love the lighting!

Another eerie photo shot by Pam Mace. This was up on the hill as you first arrive into the Walker Cemetery in Summersville WV. The sky was perfect early on and shows up well in some of the early evening shots. All that is missing is a full moon!

Pam captured an image of me being reflected on the back of one of the headstones to the left. Do you see it?  This was taken at the Walker Cemetery in Nicholas County WV. I use the candle lanterns featured in the shots on my walking tours of town and my husband Perry make them for us to sell as well. They have a great ambiance at night, don't they?

This is another shot taken at the Methodist Church cemetery in Summersville. There are many variations of markers in this cemetery. Recumbent, table top tombs, new England style, hollow metal markers and victorian symbolism is present on many.

This is the simple headstone for a child who dies in 1860. Lambs represent innocence, the Lamb of God and purity in children. I took this photo this past summer as I strolled through the cemetery researching the stones for my walking tours.

New England style markers usually represent those who moved into the area from the NE area of the United States. In this cemetery in Summersville you can see a few of these all carved from local sandstone. The stones can be compared to human torsos as they have "heads" and "shoulders".

Malvina Kelly's marker as been snapped in half and lies propped up against a tree trunk towards the backside of the cemetery.

The grave of Margaret Dotson taken during the day....
and then one at night....

This was taken by Pam Mace during the photo shoot. Assistant Rick is standing at the head of the grave while I am sitting on the table tomb.

Thank you to Mark Romano of Images by Romano for letting me share in the class expedition!

More haunted blogs to come this week.....

Monday, September 13, 2010

Whipple Coal Company Store...haunted?

The Whipple Coal Company Store in Fayette County West Virginia

We ghosthunt here this month! Spots are available online here.

Hmmm...what makes a building haunted? What constitutes paranormal activity? Is it actual scientific data gathered in a controlled setting?

Is that possible even with today's technology?

 Is it simply a feeling of being watched when you are all alone? 

Objects moving around all by themselves?

Seeing shadowy forms moving when no "human" is nearby?

The sensation of hairs standing up on the back of your neck and arm...temperatures dropping into a bone chilling coldness that begins and ends suddenly?

Is it the smell of cigar smoke when no one is all?

Could it be the capturing of Electronic Voice Phenomena on tape when no one is speaking?

All of this...and more...happened when we investigated the old Whipple Company Store in Fayette County West Virginia in May 2010.

Why would spirits linger here?

Our Ghosthunting 101 class May 2010

As I am often fond of saying, you must learn the history of a location before you can begin to understand how it could be haunted...or paranormally active.

This southern part of West Virginia is fraught with stories of coal mining accidents, age old superstitions and the dark history of Appalachian folklore. Its an area where the frontier was carved out by frontier slayings, Indian massacres and the hardiness of the pioneers. It's also an area filled with mine war history and shoot outs between the union, miners, the mine owners and the Law.

This window above the front door to the Whipple Company Store shows evidence of a shoot out and bears the bullet holes to prove it.

The old store is one of the oldest wooden Coal camp

company stores left in our country today. Its newest owners, Chuck and Joy, have poured thousands of hours of clean up, work and love into this old structure.

The Whipple Company Store in the booming days of coal mining,  provided everything the coal miner and his family would need. Clothing, shoes, dry goods, groceries etc.. Although the Company Store had its benefits to the coal miner, it did not go without reputation. The coal companies owned the store, the goods, the homes, the miner, and their money.

The store on the evening of our Ghosthunting 101 class and Investigation May 2010

Whipple Company Store was designed by a coal baron by the name of Justus Collins. He was said to be a man of strong will and merit. This store at Whipple, is one of 4 he had built. All of the stores had unique architectural details, and today the only one left standing is this one. The building features a museum and has specific hours of operation.  ( The Museum is a 501c3 non-profit organization )

 ( read more about this at their website )

steps leading to the ballroom

The Museum area has a wonderful hand operated freight elevator which is very cool to see and I believe it ios the last one in the state of West Virginia. The original post office is still present along with an old telephone operators station. The secret second floor has a dark history due to the fact a man was found hanging in the elevator shaft years ago.  The third floor ballroom is intriguing and has been the site of a shadowy figure in the one back room.

the room upstairs where a shadowy figure has been taped on video

When we did our Ghosthunting 101 Class and hunt on site here back in May, it was quite an exciting night. Several voices...or EVP as ghosthunters call them, were captured upstairs and down in the old basement as well.

The old basement

The basement itself is like stepping back into a time machine. There were so many items standing about to see. To some it may look messy, but to others....what a great place to explore! If you know ANYTHING about the paranormal, you know what a room filled with items like this can hold for investigations. It's all about energy and energy can be imprinted upon items from jewelry, to clothing to antiques. All of these items laying about have been touched, used, held, etc.. for years and energy can be left behind upon them. Think of the typical psychic show on TV where the psychic "feels" an item and then can tell you all about who held the item or wore it.

The basements darker history

The above photograph is a picture I took back in the spring of 2010 when I first visited Whipple. Its sits on the first floor of the museum area and makes you stop and wonder "why is this here?" What shocks many people, is the fact that over 7000 men were embalmed in the basement. Why???

You will just have to come on a tour...or join us at our next Ghosthunt at Whipple.

Am I teasing you a bit? You bethcha!

Even if you don't join up with us on Friday night September 24th 2010...swing by the Whipple store and do a day time tour. You will love this building!
To find out more about our ghosthunt in this building

Where is Whipple located??

Whipple Company Store & Museum in Fayette County, West Virginia, 10 minutes from the famous New River Gorge Bridge. This unique and only one of its kind company store is easy to access from Interstate 77 at the Mossy (612) exit, or off state road 19 north of Beckley at hwy 612 west.

Until next blog....happy ghosthunting!