Two-Lane Livin'

The Ghost of Calhoun’s Betts Farm

08 October, 2012, 9:05
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It is October,  my favorite time of year. It is the time of year crispness is in the mountain air, daylight hours begin to dwindle, and All Hallows Eve shrouds the final day of the month.

Everyone loves a good haunted house story and I found an old one in the Charleston Daily Mail dated December 27, 1925. A prior incident 40 years earlier was reported on that occurred in Grantsville, West Virginia. In March of 1886 a series of circumstance’s occurred at a haunted house situated on the banks of the Little Kanawha River. The home of Mr. Collins Betts was thought by many people to be haunted. There was a peddler in the neighborhood who mysteriously disappeared, believed to have over $1000 in his possession and probably been murdered in the vicinity near Mr. Collins’s house. One of the first who believed that the homestead haunted was a Methodist minister by the name of Rev. Wayne Kennedy. He had stopped at Mr. Collin’s house and willingly took the offering of a bedroom while traveling through. At about 1 in the morning, the Revered felt something very heavy pressing down upon his chest. The sensation frightened him, and caused him to feel smothered. When he collected his thoughts afterwards, he believed he had seen something like a big black dog sitting upon his body. In the morning the preacher left the house but before doing so he told the homeowner that he was not particularly superstitious, but he would never stay in his home again.

On another occasion James Wolverton and his 18-year-old son were on the way home driving an ox team and wagon when they cleared the top of the hill. Mr. Wolverton declared that he heard the sound of hundreds of horses with riders as well as the clanking of their swords. When he turned around and looked back, he saw a ghostly troop coming at a gallop towards himself and his son. The oxen became frightened as well as young Wolverton and chaos broke out. The ox ran off down the road as Mr. Wolverton lay begging the Calvary to not trample them.

Mr. Betts had a brother by the name of John who lived in Colorado. John came to Calhoun County and was said to be a large man, hardly afraid of anything. His full intention was to spend a night sleeping peacefully in his brother’s home but alas, in the morning was found lying on his back perfectly helpless. He explained that sometime during the night he felt the weight upon his chest, tried to throw it off and unable to do so, suffered in pain until daylight. John never completely recovered from this and eventually went back to Colorado an invalid.

    Another man spent the night and said he heard the sound of chairs scraping upon the floor. Capt. Hayhurst woke in the middle of the night to see a headless man rise in the room. The captain was later quoted as saying that he would “never stay another night in that house even for the entire farm.”

One more incident was featured in the 1925 article concerning a Mr. Henry Newman, a very prominent man in the area, not superstitious in the least but still unable to explain the mysterious house and its ill-fated night visitors. He stayed one evening. Mr. Newman was quoted as saying that he had gone to bed but was very wakeful as he lay in the darkness. He tossed and turned until about midnight and at that time something began clawing at the bed sheets. The covers were thrown from his body. Morning arrived and a very tired Mr. Newman left the premises saying that he “does not want any more of it.”

John Jenkins was a very well-known citizen of Ritchie County and he stopped to visit the ghostly home one evening and saw something that frightened him so badly he ran out of the room dashed to the stable saddle this horse and left in a gallop. He would never go back.

Two nieces of Betts had stopped overnight to board. One of them was so overcome by fear as she had seen an unusual shape that ran out of her bedroom. It could not be explained. Even very reputable people such as Capt. George Downs of the Civil War, whose word could never be doubted, declared that he had seen “the phantom of a headless man.”

Folks have attempted to disprove the hauntings and solve the mystery. It seems that the dozens of respectable people who dared spend the night in the old house would never return after something frightening occurred. The article ended with this sentence: “Everyone who ever stayed there overnight has heard or seen something strange or horrible. I have no doubt but that someone will yet be able to explain this mystery, but until then the haunted house of Collins bets will be the notoriety of Calhoun County West Virginia.”

I love stumbling across to old articles such as this one. It entices me to research more into the Mountain State’s great repository of folklore and dark history. If readers have any details to add to the Calhoun ghost story, I’d love to hear from you. If the spirit moves you….

Sherri is a paranormal investigator and author. Visit her at  HauntedHistory.net.

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