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!