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An Industrious Spook

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Huntersville Confederate Cemetery
Photo by Find-a-Grave user, Dixon in Dixie

An Industrious Spook…that was the title bestowed upon this article, found in the January 18, 1894 edition of the Shepherdstown Register, describing a ghostly wagon driver seen outside of Marlington, West Virginia. Originally appearing in the Pocahontas Times, the story goes as follows:

“A ghost was undoubtedly seen in Marlington last week.  A citizen of the suburbs of the place was awakened after the turn of the night by his dogs, which were in the house with him; one of these dogs is large and most ferocious and was giving blood-curdling growls as he endeavored to get out of the house. On hearing the noise of a wagon slowly passing, he he looked out and saw a man drawing a light wagon, without apparent effort, up hill and through the mud. Passing the house he ascended the hill and was gone long enough, probably, to have reached the Soldiers’ Grave Yard, on top of the hill, when he was seen to return and pass the house in the same mysterious manner.  The contents of the wagon could not be distinguished. The night was bright and starlight, but on the “bottoms” the mist was lying low and heavy. He was seen to enter one of those clouds and so disappeared. There is no residence on this road for five miles after passing the gentleman’s place referred to. All in that house saw and marked the strange appearance well. –Pocahontas Times

It seems as if the author of this article is trying to imply that the mysterious contents of the wagon were possibly a deceased soldier, being taken to the burial ground to be interred by a phantom wagon driver, who then mysteriously disappeared into a cloud of mist. After a bit of frustrated searching, I BELIEVE this Soldiers’ Grave Yard mentioned in the article is the Huntersville Confederate Cemetery, located about five miles away from downtown Marlington in Huntersville, WV. The Find-a-Grave page for the Huntersville Cemetery provides an excellent historical write-up, which I definitely encourage you to go read in full.

In short, however, during the early part of the War Between the States, several Confederate soldiers stationed in the area passed away from illness—most likely, typhoid fever—and were buried on this hill top. After the war, the cemetery was largely forgotten and abandoned, with only a few local citizens in the area even knowing exactly how to find it. In the 1990s, a group, led by Civil War re-enactor Mike Sheets, cleaned the area up, but it was soon reclaimed by the surrounding forest land. But, with the new millennium, came a renewed interest in the old burial ground, when a descendant from out of state was researching her Confederate ancestors.  The cemetery is now accessible to the public, with monuments and interpretative signage.

Because of the efforts of so many in the community and elsewhere, namely Mary Jo Fisher who did a ton of research, we now know the names of quite a few soldiers buried in this cemetery. But, what we DON’T know is who our phantom wagon driver may be…and which unfortunate soul he was seen carrying to his final resting place, OVER 30 YEARS LATER. 

For more information, also check out THIS AWESOME ARTICLE, by Suzanne Stewart for the Pochontas Times. It’s about one of the dedication ceremonies held at the cemetery, and mentions some background on some of the soldiers buried there. 


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