When we arrived, Dr. David Corcoran, publisher of the Glenville Democrat newspaper, was telling his version of the Greenbrier Ghost story, one of my favorites and the most famous of West Virginia ghost tales. Dr. Corcoran told about a couple of experiences his family had in a house they owned in Greenbrier county, then opened the floor to the people in attendance.
One man told stories about ghosts in Weston, West Virginia and the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, another told a story about a girl in white who appeared in a house they lived in. I decided to offer two stories: one is a supposedly true story told to Larry by his grandmother about a boarding house in Olcott, WV where Larry grew up. The owner was reportedly locked in the attic by her son and left to starve to death, and until the place burned down people could hear her walking about in the attic, or opening and shutting cupboard doors in the kitchen, apparently looking for food. I also told Tailypo, an old mountain "jump tale", or story that makes the audience "jump" from a scare at the end. I was surprised that no one in the audience had heard it before since it's a fairly well-known and often-told story.
At the end of the storytelling, a drawing was held for a woodcut of a story in a book by Dr. Ruth Ann Musick called "The Telltale Lilac Bush." Everyone present was invited to put their name in the hat. And guess what? I won! How amazing is that! The picture is of a headless peddler who was murdered and whose head was seen burning near a whirlpool in the river (see page 93, of you want to read the story). Even stranger than the fact that I won is that I have told this story in the past. The woodcut will travel with me whenever I tell ghost stories now. And of course I'll have to tell the story about the peddler, too.
Here is a picture of the plaque and of the festival newspaper that includes an article by me on the importance of storytelling in today's culture:
The back of the plaque tells who made it, when and where he got his inspiration. True folk art, this.
I love it! I've already volunteered to help with next year's ghost stories and I hope I'm taken up on the offer. We didn't get to go to the cemetery, but those who did were treated to more tales, especially the local legend of Sis Lynn who is buried, I hear, in that cemetery. There are so many reported sightings and incidents about Sis Lynn that it would be hard to label them all as coincidence. I definitely want to go to the cemetery myself and see her grave.