Welcome to our little blog. Turn out the lights, pull up a chair, light a candle and join us in the Haunted Heartland!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Spirits of Summersville West Virginia

The Spirits of Summersville West Virginia??

 I suppose some would argue and say such a modest town like this would not have much dark history or ghostly tales to offer up.  When you drive around thru the area, you see the beautiful mountains on the horizon, the winding creeks and rivers, the curvy mountain roads and the busy traffic of the downtown area. Chain hotels, rafting companies, the New River Gorge area, Summersville Lake and the many restaurants and tourist activities give this area a vacation like feel all year round. What's so spooky about that?

The Summersville Courthouse

Since I moved to Nicholas County West Virginia over a year ago, my research on ghosts in the mountain state has become nearly an obsession. I am digging at the archives in Charleston, I'm grabbing every book I can at libraries and in gift shops, I'm talking to the locals and hanging out in cemeteries stalking the caretakers for stories! 

The Cemetery we venture into on our walking tour of Summersville

 It seems the more I dig, the more bizarre stuff I find and it's not only the folklore but the dark history that just keeps coming and coming! Take for instance the photo of the courthouse above. To many people it's just a courthouse...and a pretty cool looking one I have to agree. Dig a little bit and you find out that a dangerous female spy was captured during the Civil War and was held here. Dig more and you find that while captured in 1862, she charmed a her guard, took his gun and shot and killed him in cold blood. She escaped from her prison only to come back later with several hundred Confederates who stormed the town of Summersville wreaking havoc.

Nancy Hart, Confederate Heroine or Spy
(Depends on what side you are on!)

Dig some more and you find a story of a man and woman who fell in love at the courthouse many years ago. She was a prisoner and he was not. He helped hide her in coffin in the basement of the courthouse to aid in her escape only to have plans go very wrong and they both die. It is said that the eerie sounds of the courthouse bell can be heard echoing a death toll for the lovers lost.

Summersville Courthouse Bell Tower

On the edge of the lawn of the courthouse stands a solemn monument to one of the many Indian Massacres that dot the dark fabric of the quilt of this areas history. The Morris Massacre took place in May of 1792.

Daughters of Henry Morris were attacked and scalped just west of Summersville on their farm on Peters Creek. This monument declares this incident to be the last of the Indian massacres in what is now West Virginia. The story itself has been handed down thru the generations and is quite graphic. We will tell this story on our Haunted History Walks of Summersville WV which debut this fall.

Looking at the courthouse and its well manicured  lawn, it may be hard to grasp the fact that there once stood a pillory and stockade on the grounds. People were whipped in public, had their ears pinned, and were locked in the stockade as punishment for various crimes. Typical punishment for stealing in the first offense was 30 lashes with a whip. You can imagine what was given to repeat offenders! Many villages and towns across the frontier of Western Virginia dealt out their punishments in front of the courthouses until some form of centralized justice was organized at the state level.

History ain't always pretty. You can almost guarantee that any town, village, vacant building or cemetery has a dark story just waiting to be unearthed. Summersville has much to offer in many respects. History lovers, folklore enthusiasts, and ghost hunters will enjoy it immensely!

To view our page on The Haunted History Walks of Summersville West Virginia

To view our page on West Virginia's Haunted History

Till next blog.....happy hauntings!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Captain's Grave


 Why do most people like to read spooky stories and learn about things that go "bump" in the night? I know that I have been that way since I first learned to read. I craved reading and books since I learned to read and could not get enough of them!  I would often sneak a book and flashlight under the covers on school nights and read long past my bedtime. My mom always told us that books can take you everywhere and anywhere, and I still believe that.

While doing some research many years ago on haunted locations in West Virginia, I came across the name of a cemetery in Parkersburg and felt drawn to visit and experience it for myself. Riverview Cemetery was my destination.  I was armed with a camera and a warm coat. On a chilly autumn day I ventured on the 225 mile drive from NE Ohio... and headed south.

I came across an interesting headstone in Riverview Cemetery while exploring  on that fall day. I remembered reading a story about the occupant and his child who lay buried next to him. The cemetery is one of Parkersburg West Virginia's most historic...and it was allegedly haunted. Of course it piqued my interest!

The cemetery itself is a modest size and very easy to walk thru with a meandering trail leading through it. It's perched up on a hill and offers an interesting view of an old vacant building towards the back of the lot. The building gave me a mild case of the creeps and I made a mental note to research it when I had the chance.

Some people call cemeteries the "Silent Cities of the Dead". Walking around at Riverview caused me to look over my shoulder more than once, I have to admit!
Apparitions have been seen at the cemetery, statues are said to grant wishes and people swear they smell the salt of the ocean while standing next to one grave in particular.

It is the final resting place of Captain George Deming. Ummm...maybe NOT the final resting place as it seems the good Captain is said to be up and strolling around at times.

To read the entire story, check out the article as it is featured online this month at Two-Lane Livin' in my Fireside Folklore column.

Happy Hauntings!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The First Blog

I never thought I would be a "blogger". Why would I want to post my thoughts and escapades and think that others would be interested in actually reading them? For me the thought of blogging conjured up "Dear Diary" postings from my adolescent years which were full of the typical teenager angst and issues. I remember writing about lost romances, feuds with girlfriends, and concerns about a flat chest up to about age 15. NOT to mention the fact that my parents had me in braces and granny glasses at age 13. UGH!!

So here I am. It's the first blog and I find myself flashing back to puberty. I feel as if I need to grab a pencil and start doodling all over the blog page with little hearts and flowers but we know that can't happen. Back when I wrote in Dear Diary, I had to deal with the fact that my little sister would probably read it without my permission and pass it around at one of her slumber parties behind my back. I guess I should be thankful she couldn't drive to the library and use the copy machine. Now I am posting on the world wide web and I think I may be okay with it all. :-) I guess we will have to see what kind of blog comments come rolling in across cyberville in the future.

Now, what will you expect in my blog? Let's just say that between my musings on the darker side of life and my new life as a West Virginia resident, you will probably hear all about my paranormal exploits, haunted excursions, cemetery trips and more than you probably want to know about history and mystery the Haunted Heartland.

I have had a pretty eventful first year here in wild and wonderful West Virginia. I moved here to south central West Virginia from the Canton Ohio area in March, got married, wrote two books that were published, moved an office and have made 65 trips back and forth to NE Ohio to be with my kids in about 14 months. I started writing a new monthly column in Two -Lane Livin' called Fireside Folklore and I am excited to be among the great writers and articles it features. I'm still doing haunted tours, working on a new book for September release and am trying to be around Perry enough so he can claim me as his new wife. Am I tired? You betcha. Am I happy? You betcha! Do I miss my teenage kids? More than you can even possibly fathom. Life goes on and I do the best I can with what my path in life is. Hey...any day above ground is a good day indeed!

So there you have it. My first post to my first blog and it seems to be a cross between some kind of mini therapy session and a Catholic confession gone wrong. Hmmmm....sounds like the basis for a new reality tv show?!!