Haunted Appalachia: Tales from the frontier: Early WV ghost stories
Since the beginning of time, people have spoken of ghosts, spirits and unusual happenings that defy explanation. No matter how urbanized or remote a location is, the stories and folklore survive and are handed down for generations to enjoy and share. Details change a bit with repeated tellings, but the main body of the story survives.
Back in the old days, the early settlers cleared a spot in the woods and erected cabins. The hardy settlers fought off enemies and braved the elements. But at night, they gathered around the fireside and whispered of weird creatures, spooks and spirits that dwelt in the darkness just outside their cabin clearing. As the frontier unfolded, cities and towns were built and the natives were pushed westward.
Enter 1861 and the start of the American Civil War. West Virginia, as we all know, was a product of the War with its creation in 1863. The ravages of war touched every family in both the North and South with many skirmishes and battles taking place in what now is the Mountain State.
The battle of Droop Mountain occurred on November 6th 1863. The battle was fought with nearly 4000 Union forces led by Brigadier General Avrell. The south was led by Brigadier General Echols with approximately 1500 men. There were many men who fell that day in battle and just as many who dropped weapons and retreated out of sheer terror. It was a Northern victory but losses were suffered on both sides. The Union had 275 casualties and the Confederates suffered 119. Many soldiers are in marked graves, others are scattered and remain lying in unmarked resting areas.
It is said that Civil War ghosts remain because of a job left unfinished or due to sudden tragic deaths. Perhaps the battle still rages on in the spirit world? There have been ghostly apparitions spotted at Droop Mountain Battlefield in Pocahontas County. One spirit is dressed in a tattered civil war uniform. He is wearing an old hat and is smoking a hand rolled cigarette. He does not try to communicate with the observer, and quickly fades almost as soon as he is spotted.
Droop Mountain also gives us a ghostly horse that is dapple gray in color. He has been heard and seen on several occasions. Visitors to the park have heard the horse snorting and experienced the sound of horse’s hooves. They turn to see the misty gray horse disappear before their very eyes!
John Brown’s Ghost
Jefferson County has its share of haunted history. In the historic town of Harpers Ferry, many ghostly sightings have occurred. The most impressive is that of abolitionist John Brown. John died in 1859, before the Civil War broke out, but his story continues on as a hero to many and a ghostly sighting to a few! He is said to still walk the streets of old Harpers Ferry, a tall figure in black with a full beard. Visitors have approached him for a photograph thinking he is with the park service, and when they look at their photos later, he is not visible in them. Others say they have seen him walk towards the fire engine building, only to vanish into thin air.
As the old ballad goes, John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave, but his soul still marches on…
Sherri Brake is a paranormal researcher, author and Haunted Heartland Tour owner. You may email her at SherriBrake@gmail.com or visit her website at www.HauntedHistory.net