Hauntings of Parkersburg, West Virginia
Parkersburg is a city on the confluence of the Ohio and Little Kanawha Rivers and is the third largest city in the state of West Virginia. It was originally founded as Newport in the late 18th century and its name was change in 1810 in favour of Alexander Parker, a veteran of the Revolutionary War who had been granted the land that the town was laid out on. It also has a number of interesting hauntings and here are some of their details.
The Trans-Allegheny Bookstore started off life as a library before being turned into the largest used bookstore in the state. It was built in 1905 with a grant from Andrew Carnegie to the sum of $34,000 and it remained the Carnegie Library until 1976. It was bought by Dr Mel Okeon in 1978 and he applied for it to be added to the National Register, which was accepted.
With a building of its age, a few hauntings is not surprising and there are reports of the usually paranormal phenomena: books flying off shelves, footsteps heard in empty rooms, strange shadows and lighting with a mind of its own. The second floor seems to be the focus for much of this activity and the overhead lamps that light the mezzanine are known to sway and flash inexplicably.
However, there have been at least five confirmed sightings of full apparitions around the library. These include a little girl who wears a white bonnet and appears to be around eight years old. She sits on the third step of the wooden staircase that joins the first and second floors or is seen playing on the stairs. A few witnesses have actually reported ‘tripping over’ the little girl before realising she wasn’t real.
The gentleman ghost of the building wears a derby hat and a brown jacket and is said to be a dapper gentleman. His haunt is the second story of the building and psychics who have visited have given him the name Henry. He may be the same person as the ghost seen in the World History area of the building, searching the shelves for a book.
Another ghost of the library comes with a full name and history. Betty Samuels was murdered in her home in 1989 by a woman named Janice Diers. Diers was dating Mrs Samuel’s son Hunter and became enraged at her interference in the relationship. In a rage, she stabbed Mrs Samuels three times, killing her. Mrs Samuels spent a great deal of her time in the library so when her ghost chose its haunt, a favoured place was chosen over the sad site of her murder.
Finally, there are either one ghost cat or a trio, depending on reports. A black cat has been seen around the shelves while another report witnessed the black cat and two spectral tabbies in tow.
Map of Parkersburg
The Captain’s House stands on Juliana Street in the historic district of Parkersburg. It was built pre-1860 by George Deming, an accomplished Master Mariner who was born in Connecticut and moved to Parkersburg after the Civil War. The house is sometimes called Markey House and is a classic New England style with narrow halls and a low ceiling, resembling somewhat a ship.
Deming died in 1861, as did his young son, possibly due to a typhoid epidemic in the area at the time. Both are buried in the Riverview Cemetery, two blocks from the house, and the elaborately carved headstone states he is a descendant of Myles Standish.
In the intervening years, Captain’s House has gained a reputation for being haunted. There are tales of owners who have been driven mad while trying to live in the house and while it has undergone various renovations, there is little evidence of these mad occupants.
One more substantial haunting is that of a child who leaves footsteps in the dust in the attic when there are no children in the house. Workers reported seeing the footsteps, which were cleared, only to reappear later.
People walking past the house have often reported seeing a glow in the windows as if a fire was burning in the house.
Though the Captain himself hasn’t been seen in his own house, he has been seen walking around the town, wearing a black overcoat, his head bowed. He has been seen at his burial place at Riverview cemetery and also at the Blennerhassett Hotel.
The Blennerhassett Hotel was built by William Chancellor in 1889, a wealthy businessman from the town. It is a Queen Anne style hotel showcasing the ‘Gaslight’ era and was originally made with 50 guestrooms across four floors with the kitchens being on the 5th floor and the 1st National Bank of Parkersburg on the lower level. It was named for Harman and Margaret Blennerhassett who had owned a nearby mansion in the previous century, which still stands and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
William Chancellor is said to be one of the ghosts that haunts the hotel and his presence is often marked by the smell of cigar smoke. A portrait of him is also connected with photographic anomalies including ethereal burning embers.
On the second floor, a man in grey has been seen while a man in a white tuxedo often reflects in the mirrors while a crying woman and a boy dressed in 1920s era clothing are all reported. The elevators have a mind of their own, stopping on the 2nd floor regardless of even having anyone in them and there is a phantom doorknocker, who routinely knocks people out of bed at 4am but doesn’t wait around to be seen when they answer. Finally, Captain Deming, as mentioned above, has sometimes visited the hotel.
Haunted West Virginia book
Margaret and Harman Blennerhassett, for whom the above hotel was named, lived in a mansion that Harman rebuilt in 1798. However, theirs was only a short stay in the mansion as in 1806, Harman and Aaron Burr were accused of treason by President Jefferson and while found not guilty, both were ruined.
Margaret was destroyed by the loss of the house she adored and also because two of their children were buried on the grounds. In 1811, the mansion burned to the ground though it was restored after the foundations were uncovered in 1973 and is still being refurbished.
Therefore, it isn’t surprising that when Margaret died, her spirit returned to the place she was happiest and she is often seen around the rebuilt house. She is often seen holding her baby and with a small girl at her side, the two children that she lost while living in the mansion.
Camden Clark Hospital
What Would You Do If You Saw a Ghost?
Camden Clark Hospital
Camden Clark Hospital sits on land that was part of Camden Farm during the Civil War and was the site of a makeshift Civil War hospital. In 1895, the City Hospital opened on the site and had one of the oldest nursing programs in the state with classes starting in 1898 under the direction of Mary Pendergast.
In the 1900s, a number of prominent local people left money to the hospital and one, Anne Camden, left their home on Ann Street. This was converted into a 104-bed facility with a laboratory and two operating rooms. An expansion was added in 1920 and the hospital was dedicated to Camden Clark.
One of the main ghosts associated with the hospital is that of Ella Bloomhart. She was nursing director from 1944-49 then against until 1957. She is seen wearing a nursing uniform from the 1940s and concentrates on her rounds, ignoring anyone who speaks to her. She is found across the modern building but most often on the 2nd and 5th floors.
The other ghost is seen in the old section of the hospital. When a bed is made in the haunted room, an indentation appears as if someone was sitting on the side of the bed.
The DeSales Height Academy is a former Catholic school and convent that has been abandoned since 1992. It was torn down after a fire in 2002. It has reports of a woman standing over a grave on the grounds, weeping, nuns in the basement, shadow figures and doors that open and close on their own.
Southside Kmart has various poltergeist-type activity including stock putting itself on shelves or taken off shelves and piled neatly into a corner while items moved on their own. A phantom radio is also heard broadcasting out of date news and music, even a ball game. A women’s voice is heard over the intercom but is distorted as if under water or very far away.
Links & Inspiration
- The What and Where of the Paranormal
For more hauntings, please check out my blog
- Theresa's Haunted History of the Tri-State: Trans-Allegheny Bookstore, Parkersburg