Sunday, October 12, 2014

100 People in Search of Ghosts

It was probably more than 100 but who was counting? I sure wasn't--I was busy thinking how to shepherd all of them safely around our walk through town and graveyard.

We had a blast. Ages ranged from an infant in a stroller to people in their 70's. Lots of teens and young parents were in the group, and I was happy to see quite a few students from the middle school where I had told stories earlier in the week.

The walk went even smoother than anything I could have anticipated. We had to cross several streets; traffic waited patiently for our large crowd to cross and I am sure they must have been wondering what in the world was going on. I told the first story about a ghost in the recently renovated theater while our crowd was gathered in that very place.

That set a good tone; then we were off, across the street where I tried to get them imagining how Ripley was back in the days of early settlement, with mud streets, boardwalks, cattle drives right through town, hay growing around the courthouse, an icehouse where bodies were stored prior to burial in hot months, and more.

We walked across to the courthouse gazebo where I told the story of the last public hanging in West Virginia, and the sheriff who put the noose around the hanged man made an appearance and told us about how he felt about his role.

We moved on to the story about the ghost of a murdered Civil War soldier buried in an unmarked grave nearby, then to the story of another hanging, a suicide that happened in the county jail.

Next was the sad story of unrequited love and a lady who appears in a window above some stores, then a ghost girl who haunted a house just outside of town, and on to a ghost who didn't like Marshall University pictures in his office.

No good photos of the cemetery last night, sadly--it was pretty
eerie, especially when the ghost of Harry Ripley made his
appearance. This pic is from a few night's ago.
And then we were at the cemetery. There are many stories under the quiet earth in this place, stories of the movers and shakers of Ripley's early history, stories of untimely deaths, even murder. And yet one more hanging.

This home is currently for sale--needs some TLC but couldn't
it be a beauty? I'd almost move to town to live in such a place.
The last leg of our walk took us past some of the historic homes in town--no stories for them yet but I was able to provide some of the interesting history of a few of them.

Then we passed through a dark, narrow alley and back to the center of town, where I told stories of a bloody murder, haunted buildings, and a ghost with a peculiar smell.

We ended back at the theater for refreshments and informal feedback time. And of course I heard a few more stories that I will need to follow up on very soon.

It was one of the most fun things I've done as a storyteller. It took a lot of research and thought, and the help of many who sold tickets, served refreshments, did promotion, wrote the grant, and so much more. Larry was with me both nights, helping with crowd control, opening and closing the cemetery gates, and last night he tried getting a few photos; without flash he did the best he could. What would I do without him?

I can't wait to do it again. And I already have new stories in mind.

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


storytellermary said...

Thanks for sharing a bit of the adventure . . . the photos capture the atmosphere . . . well done!

Susan Anderson said...

Oh, how I love a good ghost walk, and so much depends on the storyteller. I'll bet you did a GREAT job.


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