Sunday, September 21, 2014

In Search of Ghosts

I mentioned before that I am working on plans for a ghost walk to be held in my town of Ripley--I call it my town since it's the one closest to us and where I do most of my shopping. I thought I knew the history, basically, of this town but I am finding I know just the tip of the iceberg and as I search for ghost stories connected with the area, the history is becoming pretty important.

I don't know about other storytellers or ghost story collectors, but I need to know the place where the events happened. That means digging into online records, books, genealogy and even those sites with the black background and flashing lights and creepy lettering. Folklore, fact, legend, hearsay, court records--it's all grist to the storyteller's mill.

And I have found some things that are becoming stories, tales from the early settlement of the area to the Civil War to the Victorian era. Later than that I will not search because there may still be relatives living who could be offended by telling any more recent events. As I work I find in every case that I need to know more, and so back to the digging I go.

Fortunately, I am aided by two knowledgeable ladies and quite a few other people who know the history of this area. One of my companions on this story-seeking journey is a local writer who is looking over my stories and editing them to add more of what I call the "chill factor." The other lady who has offered assistance is also a writer, working on a book about West Virginia's last public hanging, an event that happened in our town. She has rich background material that will really fill out the tour with descriptions of the town at a specific time, biographical information, and so on. I am blessed to have these two partners in crime to help get these stories ready to tell on October 10th and 11th.

There are others who are helping out too, with resources, phone numbers, books and more. I am almost finished writing the stories; the next step is finding the key elements I want to include in the telling, and that all-important "universal truth" that makes the story hit home for anyone who hears it.

Tomorrow I'm on the road again, and I am hoping these stories will be rolling around my subconscious while I'm away so that when I come back to them I will have fresh insights.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

4 comments:

Michelle said...

Good luck with these new stories.

annie said...

good for you!
they have to better than garden variety stories with that kind of work behind them! would love to hear bits & snippets as you go through them!

Anonymous said...

We do just that in Placerville CA, once known as Old Hangtown,. Our tours are historically accurate, but we do advice guests not to cite us if they are writing their Masters' thesis. Some facts will never be known. Tonight we are incorporating some of your history into ours as a winery owner's family came from there in the late 18th century and we are offering a wine and spirits event.
Good Luck!

Nance said...

I and my daughters are scheduled to take a fall ghost tour in Des Moines, Ia. lol -- we aren't old enough here in Iowa for ghosts, are we? Anyway, I'll take notes and if they have any special ideas or effects, I'll let you know. Have fun!

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