|Ruth Ann Musick, Queen of WV Folklore
Source: WV Encyclopedia
Today’s vintage ghost tale comes from March 12, 1951 edition of the Hinton Daily News, a newspaper based in Hinton (Summers County), West Virginia! The story published in the paper was originally collected by Dr. Ruth Ann Musick of Fairmont State College and included in an edition of “The Old Folks Say.”
According to the article, some time prior to the Civil War, a merchant was returning home after a trip selling his wares. While traveling through a rural section of Wirt County (modern maps say its actually in neighboring Ritchie County) known as Low Gap, he was robbed and killed by a shotgun blast at close range that entirely severed his head from his body! It wouldn’t take long before the area where the incident occurred would gain a reputation for being haunted. Those who passed through Low Gap at night reported the ghost of the murdered traveler, who was known to manifest in different forms.
One traveler reported seeing a very large dog-like creature in the road. When he tried to scare it away by throwing a stone at it, it FLOATED up through the air and down over Low Gap. Two other men reported seeing a large, hissing ball of fire come down over the treetops, cross the road, and again, disappear over Low Gap. A third encounter involved a traveler seeing a man’s form carrying a lantern. As he approached the figure, the lantern light went out, so the traveler asked the figure “What’s the matter, did your light go out?” The figure answered in a rather spooky voice, “No, my LIFE went out.” A ghost like form was then seen rising up and vanishing over the gap.
Not believing the ghostly stories, a local jeweler went to the location to prove that it was all bunk. When he returned, rather pale, at first he refused to talk about his experiences. Later on, he admitted that he had seen the ghostly figure of a headless man cross the road and vanish. As if seeing a headless figure vanishing in front of your eyes wasn’t the spookiest thing ever, another encounter with the murdered merchant involves a lone traveler hearing screaming. As he shone his lantern in the direction of the screams, a nude man with blood pouring down his face ran across the road, and once again, vanished, taking the eerie screams with it, over the area of the gap.
|Hinton Daily News
12 March 1951
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