In 1919, John Davison Sutton wrote in his book, History of Braxton County and Central West Virginia, that "Centralia, fifteen miles east of Sutton...is in the heart of the coal field, and is surrounded with a vast timber region. A railroad coming down the Elk River will tap the B&O at this point. A company owning a large tract of land is preparing to build mills at this point. A circular sawmill has recently been put into operation on the site of the old mill....The town consists of one M.E. Church, hotel, two stores, and quite a number of new homes are being built. Centralia is destined in the near future to be a town of considerable interest."
|Centralia train station, from Pinterest|
|Logging camp, Thomas, WV, From Pinterest|
|work train, Centralia. from Pinterest|
And it may have been that Jacob imbibed a bit too much from the jug or the drugs because he told a most unusual story or his origins. According to him, his forebears came to this earth from the moon. He said that a meteor had knocked the moon out of its orbit and much closer to earth, and that the meteor had destroyed the communities on our lunar satellite. It is true that in the early 1850's a comet passed over Braxton County that was 20 to 30 feet long and made a rushing sound as it passed close to the treetops. This event was seen my quite a few people; perhaps Jacob was a child at the time and the meteor made such an impression on him that he came up with his strange story.
After his death, people in the area would sometimes see a gray figure leading a headless man: Beamer, they were sure it was, with a spirit helping him look for his head. I would imagine that folks gave that pair a wide berth, and probably avoided walking that section of tracks at night to avoid encountering such an unnerving sight.
According to the story, Jacob Beamer met his death in the 1890's. In the 1930's a man from Pittsburgh was visiting Centralia to go deer-hunting, and evidently no one warned him about walking along the tracks at night, because this gentleman saw the pair, the gray spirit and the headless man, making their way toward town. But he saw something no one else had ever seen: the headless ghost was cradling a white skull in his arms.
No one saw Jacob Beamer's ghost again after that night. It seems that he found his head, and perhaps the "moon man" returned to the planet of his ancestors for his eternal rest.
Note: A search of West Virginia birth and death records and various Census records turned up no one named Jacob Beamer in Braxton County. It's possible that Jacob was his middle name or even a nickname, or that the name has been changed over the years in the re-telling of his story.
Comstock, Jim. West Virginia Heritage Encyclopedia, vol 12, p.2244. Headless Ghost. Richwood, WV: 1976.
Railroads of West Virginia and North Carolina.
West Virginia on View
Sutton, John Davison. History of Braxton County and Central West Virginia. Parsons, WV: McClain Printing Company, 1919.
West Virginia Vital Records.
US Census records.