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15Feb The Spirit of Sis Linn

The Spirit of Sis Linn

15 February, 2013, 19:02

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In 1919 actor Charlie Chaplin ruled the motion picture market. The song “Forever Blowing Bubbles” was at the top of the American music charts and the average car cost just $525.00. The pop-up toaster had just been invented and crime rates everywhere were low. Life was good. Perhaps that is what made the violent murder of an innocent woman in a small town in West Virginia more horrifying.

Sarah Louisa Linn was born in Fairmont in 1853. Most called her “Sis”. She taught school at several locations in the state before marrying Mr. Chrisman in 1905 and at the matronly age of 52. It is not known why, but her husband abandoned her just six months later. The courts allowed her to take her maiden name back and it was well known that she had acquired a fairly large estate.

Sis lived in a house that is now part of the grounds of Glenville State College. In February of 1919, and by an attacker never found, she was beaten to death leaving the town reeling in horror at the violent act. She had been found in her bedroom with an old and bloody club nearby. No valuables were gone and no money had been taken. The assailant was never found. Sis Linn had become an cold case.

Several years later, her home was bought and was demolished to make way for the building of a new women’s dormitory. It was named after Verona Mapel. The hall was completed in 1926 and became home to 80 students. The building was later torn down in 1978.

Unusual occurrences have happened on campus and many speculate it may be the spirit of Sis Lin who is behind the acts. Most activity reported seems to be centered on Clark Hall and the site of  the old Verona Maple Hall. Most activity experienced ranges from strange sounds to the old cemetery gates being left open for no reason. Many stories seemed to circulate by the time the 1970s rolled around with some tales making the schools newspaper, “The Mercury”. Individuals who came forward with stories included staff, students and faculty.

One professor stated that she had been in her office on a top floor before the school session started. She heard loud noises like people moving metal desks and throwing things around yet the noises seem to come from all over. She was totally alone. She thought “I wonder if this is Sis Linn?” and suddenly the sounds stopped.

Another incident was of a student working alone in the basement of Clark Hall. He heard loud noises coming from up above and when investigating he reached out to turn on the light switch and the lights came on even before he touched the switch. He ran to the top of the steps, and the lights went off casting him into darkness. He then looked down the hall and by the glow of the red exit sign he saw an object about the size of a small black bear. He noticed it looked as if it were swaying back and forth. The light suddenly came back on.

Other occurrences are in the form of hearing unexplained noises, feelings of being watched all alone and blinds moving when no one is near and no indoor breeze can be explained. One couple swear they saw a “dense gray mass” rise up from the cemetery grounds located behind Louis Bennett Hall.

The curiosities continue to happen on the campus. More recent reports surfaced again in 2010. Some say she is continuing to search for her murderer while others say she just wants attention.

If you drive through Glenville during the day, stop at the old cemetery were Sis is buried. Pay your respects, be sincere and say a prayer. Perhaps one day she will find eternal peace.

    Sherri is a paranormal investigator and author. Visit her online at  HauntedHistory.net. Purchase her most recent book at Amazon using the link below:

 

02Nov

Farmhouse Haints

02 November, 2012, 14:22
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“In the Pines, in the Pines
Where the sun never shines,
And you shiver when the cold wind blows.”

The cold wind blew fiercely on that damp November evening when I decided put the legend to test. I like to think that I’m a pretty practical person. I don’t scare easily and a never mind being alone when I’m out scouting for haunted locations. But that evening was different.

I had left my SUV parked on the main road, which resembled more of a wagon rutted trail. Following a crude map drawn by a local who seemed slightly loco, I surveyed the path thru the over grown mountain laurel and wished I had a few more hours of daylight. I pushed along the trail and into the dark underbrush. As I walked further, I came in to a small clearing and was rewarded by the site of a two-story farmhouse. It was still standing but empty of windows and leaning a bit to one side.

    This was the spot. Seven decades ago the house would have been filled with laughter and a family full of hope and love. It changed quickly on that November night so many years prior. A traveler needing a hot meal and shelter was given a room at the back of the old house for the evening. He left early the next day, his clothing covered in blood and torn to shreds. His later confession to the local police left the town terrified, in shock and ready for a hanging. He was hung by a small mob of people that evening in a tree at the back of the house where he had committed his crimes.

The entire family had been senselessly murdered by this loner. In the wee hours of early morning, he had crept outside to the stump by the large woodpile and had grabbed the axe. He killed five members of the family, senselessly, without emotion.

The legend I had heard consisted of visiting the old homestead and sitting in the dark by yourself near the anniversary of the murders. It was said that you could hear or perhaps catch a glimpse of the ghosts that were said to haunt the sad location.

I found the old tree behind the house and without a doubt, was sure it was the one. It stood leafless with  large branches reaching out like arms into the night air. I sat down on an old stump nearby and waited. As I looked into the piney woods, the sun left the evening sky and with its departure, a cold dampness permeated the air. As I pulled my coat closer, the half-moon slipped out from behind a cloud and I could see more easily. Wrapped around the lowest branch of the tree, was a thick and tattered rope. Surely it couldn’t be the rope that hung around the neck of the killer? Before I could stand up and examine it more closely, I saw movement in one of the windows. It looked like a person moving quickly… as if not to be observed. I was convinced I wasn’t the only one, from this life or beyond, that was present.

As I walked quickly back into the thicket to leave, I turned one last time to look back. In the front doorway I saw a small girl dressed in a white dress staring blankly back at me.

I had seen enough for one evening. Jumping back into my SUV, I returned to the main road. On my way out of town passed the small police department and I decided to stop. I wanted to let them know that perhaps there were children playing in the vacant house. As I told the officer my story, he repeatedly kept shaking his head. You must be mistaken he told me. I had told him about the old tree and the noose like rope I had seen. He told me “That hanging tree was cut down many years ago. Nothing remains.”

I’ve never driven back to that old farmhouse. It crosses my mind quite often. I have wondered about the little girl in the white dress, and the ghost tree with the thick bare branches and tattered rope.

I came to the conclusion that some things are best left alone.

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

08Oct

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.

05Jun

Ghostly Patrons at the Trans Allegheny Library

05 June, 2012, 10:09
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Grand old buildings can hold secrets. Many do and the one that stands stately at 725 Green Street in downtown Parkersburg is no exception. It stands empty for now, but in “the day” it was as grand as they come!

Some secrets are not firm, concrete, or hard facts. The secrets I write of are those of the “other world ” or after life. Such is case in point for the building that stole my heart on my first visit in 2003. The Trans Allegheny Library.

This massive building was built in 1905 from a $34,000 gift from steel tycoon and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. The architect was a Mr. Sanderson, and the contractor was C. W. Prewett. Its design is a Classical Revival style and it stands as strong as it ever did. It has several reading rooms with ornate fireplaces, tile floors in the big entryway, hand-carved wooden staircases , and a wrought-iron spiral staircase with a brass handrail in the rear. ( my favorite spot!) This building was used as the Parkersburg library until January of 1976. In December of 1985, it was re-opened, still full of books, now reborn as Trans Allegheny Books.

The book store contained more than 500,000 volumes, including numerous books about West Virginia and Appalachia written by local and regional authors. It was one of the largest used book stores in the Midwest and was a popular tourist draw in Parkersburg. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. It was the largest used book store in West Virginia at one time, but it stands silent now….empty of all life.

     Well….maybe not empty of “everything”. You see, there are many folks who claim that several spirits claim this location as their home of sorts. Visitors to the old building in the past, alleged to have seen an older gentleman wearing a brown jacket and derby hat, browsing the second floor in the World History area. There are even some reports that the bookstore is haunted by the ghost of a local newspaper reporter. She was tragically murdered in her home on nearby Avery Street in the 1980s, as the legend goes as told to me. The reporter spent a great deal of time in the old Carnegie Library and it was a second home to her.

Another apparition seen on occasion is of a little girl. Some report she sports a small white bonnet. This little girl seems to be happy to sit on the staircase next to a bottom step by the first floor. People see her and then POOF, she disappears like the typical ghost we are all familiar with on tv and in books. Other folks swear they have tripped on “something” on the stairs, and it’s always in the same exact spot. Could it be that this little girl is a bit of a prankster?

In 2010, the library closed its massive doors. I had been to the library on many occasions and had actual rented it out for late night investigations and tours. My husband and I wandered the aisles in 2009 pulling out old out of print books and ohhing and ahhing at this and that.  The library had a comfy, homey feel to it, like putting on an old pair of pajamas. I loved the feeling of its wooden walls, the glass floors, the stained glass window and the cat’s who could be seen hiding in corners or by the reading sofa.

What of the ghostly patrons? Are they still there? Does the mystery man still walk in an empty aisle marching silently as no one looks on? Does the little girl still sit on the staircase watching sunlight dance across the dusty floors? With its closing, it felt like an old friend had passed. We can only hope a new owner will rescue this grand lady and breathe new life back into her.

   Sherri Brake is a paranormal investigator and published author. Visit  www.HauntedHistory.net.

06Apr

The Ghosts of Prickett’s Fort

06 April, 2012, 16:03
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  The wilderness was a dangerous place indeed and the land that eventually became known as West Virginia was proof of this bloody fact, time and time again. Dangers lurked in forests, rambling rivers, and mountain hollows. The threat of aggressive Indians, incurable diseases, frigid winters, lack of food and the occasionally crossing of a angry bear, hungry mountain lion and poisonous snake often ended a settlers life at an earlier than anticipated age. Various conflicts and massacres occurred and word spread like the rapid rivers that crossed the territory. It truly was a dark and boldly time in our state’s history. It was also a time filled with superstitions and ghost stories such as these.

In 1774, Jacob Greathouse led a group of settlers into the Ohio River Valley to an area known as Yellow Creek. Greathouse and his gang of settlers murdered approximately one dozen Mingo Indians right across the Ohio River from where Chief Logan and his Mingo village slept. Among those murdered were kin to the Great peace loving Chief. When Logan’s village heard the shots, Logan’s father was one of the first in a canoe to race towards the opposite shore. He was killed by a bullet from Greathouse’s party before he got halfway across the river. Logan’s entire family was murdered. Logan had been friend to both white and Indian but this event changed things. Logan vowed revenge and a settler by the name of Tom Evans was caught in the middle of it all.

Tom’s left hand was cut off by the Indians after they murdered and scalped him. His mutilated body was brought back to Prickett’s Fort which is located in present day Marion County. Poor Tom left behind a grieving widow and several children. The story says that Tom’s body was buried in the Fort cemetery but the tale doesn’t stop there. Not too long after the hasty burial, screams and moans could be heard coming from the cemetery. Was it possible? It sounded like a man screaming and it sounded like Tom to all who could hear it. The family ran to the cemetery and found a skeletal hand. A left hand. On further examination, a gold band was found on the ring finger just as Tom had worn his.

Speculation arose after that event and the stories ran wild. Many believed that the Indians who had killed Tom believed his evil spirit was attached to the hand. They believed the Indians had brought the hand back and placed it at the new grave in the hope the spirit would leave them and rest. Ghost stories arose left and right over this and just like folklore, cannot be confirmed or denied.

There are other spooky tales associated with the Fort although opinions vary as to whether they are “real” or not. What I do know though, as a paranormal researcher, is that any spot seeped in tragedy or violence can abound with spectral stories such as that of Mrs. Ox.

In 1775, young Isaac Prickett went out to help Mrs. Ox bring in the cattle at the Fort. Isaac was 16 years old that year and was the son of pioneer Jacob Prickett. Shawnee Indians happened to be nearby that fateful day and heard the cow bells which attracted them to Mrs. Ox and the youth. The attacked Mrs. Ox and killed and scalped Isaac. Mrs. Ox was abducted and taken away, never to be seen again. Some claim she returns to this very day, but in spirit form.

There are some who have been to Pricketts Fort who have seen mysterious shadow walking across the back porch of one specific building. It vanished mysteriously. Some report being tapped on the shoulder by an unseen force or person. Some interpreters have mentioned to visitors that have seen shadows walking past open doors and upon examination, no one is present.

Prickett’s Fort abounds with history and perhaps some mystery as well. What causes the sound of whispers and chattering voices to be heard in an empty meeting house? What caused the bobbing light in the cemetery that multiple people have seen?

This spring is the perfect time for a road trip and a venture. Get off I-79 just north of Fairmont. Visit the tour center and get a ticket to explore. Pack a lunch, wear some walking shoes, check out the cemetery and oh, and don’t forget that camera either. (wink wink)

For more information, visit www.PrickettsFort.Org.

Sherri Brake is a paranormal investigator and published author. Visit  www.HauntedHistory.net.

30Jan

Carnival of Souls

30 January, 2012, 10:05
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The Shawnee have a name for their dead. They call them Asanwaa which means ‘Gone Home’.

There is a place in southern West Virginia, where the souls of many are said to linger on. They have not found their home in the afterlife. Sandwiched between Princeton and Spanishburg is a spot that has had a longtime reputation of being haunted.

Passer bys can see an old rusty ferris wheel sticking out of a grown-up landscape like an ancient metal monument of a bygone era. They can barely make out amusement rides and rickety wooden seat swings from the junction of US 19 and WV 10. Some people keep on driving by…but a few others cannot resist the temptation to stop and have a quick look around.

Lake Shawnee Amusement Park was a draw for thousands of people from its start in 1926. It was bought by current owner Mr. White in 1985 as a defunct  property. The current owner thought that a few house sites would be a nice income but was surprised to find Indian graves and artifacts in the ground as it was excavated. It’s speculated that around 3000 graves may be scattered across the property so a housing development was out of the question. The owner decided to re open as a small amusement park which offered about 30 rides.

Three years later, the park closed and when it did, stories started emanating around the paranormal. When ABC’s Scariest Places on Earth” filmed a segment here in 2005, the word was out and people flocked from all over to explore, snap photographs and see if the dead still lingered among the rusting rides. During the production of the show, some of the crew refused to venture into the park at night. Other visitor’s have spoken of unexplained feelings and seeing shadows that flitted around in the fading light. To make matters even more eerie, the story of a small girl dying in the 1950s gave grounding to some of the ghostly sightings. The child was on the swing ride and was the victim of deaths cruel hand when a soft drink truck backed into the ride while she was on it. The current owner says that he “saw” the girl and others have sworn they have glimpsed her as well.

Even before it ever became an entertainment place for young children, it was home to at least 2 Indian settlement sites.  The Indians lived on this land for some time before abandoning it. The first European settler, Mitchell Clay arrived on the same land in 1775. (200 years after the Indians) It was a place of death long before C.T. Snidow opened the amusement park in 1926 and operated it until 1966.

The story goes that in 1783, while the local men were away hunting, Indians rode down from the ridge. They killed and attempted to scalp one of the boys. Little Tabitha Clay was trying to defend the body of her dead brother and prevent the Indians from scalping her brother and in this struggle; Tabitha was cut to pieces by the Indian with a butcher knife. The younger girls made it to the house safely. There is a monument to the children at the site and many have wondered if this tragedy is the basis for the paranormal activity that some experience.

What is said to happen at Lake Shawnee is that you hear unexplained noises (mostly creaking and doors slamming) also you see things that you can’t explain. Some have said to have seen the swings move on their own, while others have seen orbs on or around the swings. Throughout this small park you get the feeling that something doesn’t want you there.

The activity doesn’t scare everyone away though. GHOST LAB filmed an episode for their TV show in 2010. If interested in taking a look around, be aware that this is private property and you’ll need permission to explore. You can try calling the owner, Mr. White, at 304-425-5716 for more information…if the spirit moves you.

    Sherri Brake is a paranormal investigator and published author. Visit  www.HauntedHistory.net.

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