Monday, July 21, 2008

The Greenbrier Ghost: A Ballad

A poetry forum suggested writing a ballad as a writing prompt. The Greenbrier Ghost is West Virginia's most famous ghost story, and seemed like a good topic.

Zona Heaster Shue and Edward "Trout" Shue

The Greenbrier Ghost

Zona was a maiden lovely
Just sixteen years of age
When murder stole her sweet young life
By her cruel husband’s rage

Trout Shue the smith was dark and strong
And handsome, some would say
But his true nature showed itself
One January day

Supper was cooked, a simple meal
Hot biscuits, pickles, more
Trout wanted meat upon his plate
He raised his voice and swore

He grabbed her ‘round her tiny waist
He pulled her to his side
His hands enclosed her gentle neck
And by those hands she died

Her mother at the funeral
Was sad and so morose
Trout stood at Zona’s casket side
Allowing no one close

But Zona to her mother came
And told to her the tale
Of anger, hurt and deadly pain
That left her cheeks so pale

In court the jury heard the case
The mother’s story told
Trout Shue to prison he did go
For murder dark and cold

c Susanna Holstein 7.21.2008


  1. Neat ballad GS - I grabbed an old ballad tune out of my head and actually sung it to myself as I was reading it. I'd never heard that story - Yikes!

  2. It's a good story, CM. I tell it sometimes and each time I am amazed by the mother's firm conviction that her daughter had appeared to her. It was so strong that she managed to convince a prosecuting attorney! Even more surprising is that at the trial, it was Trout's defense lawyer that brought out the ghost testimony. The prosecutor didn't because he didn't want people to think Mrs. Heaster was crazy. The defense attorney tried to discredit her testimony by asking about the daughter's appearance after her death, and it backfired. She must have been very convincing.

  3. I know the story -- and this is a wonderful new ballad of it - Now you have a twofer - and depending on your mood can tell it or sing it. Nice

  4. Just need a tune for it! I might have to steal one from another ballad. Maybe Barbara Ellen? I wish I was a musician...


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