The Civil War Ghost of Powell Mountain
~ Joshua Sylvester
"They say that shadows of deceased ghosts Do haunt the houses and the graves about, Of such whose life's lamp went untimely out, Delighting still in their forsaken hosts."
When I was a little girl, I lived in the pan-handle of Maryland, and every so often my father would take us to visit family across the border into West Virginia. I have so many fond memories as a child, roaming wooded hills, picking berries, turning over rocks in virgin creeks, and that faint earthy smell of dank moss.
Times have changed.
I haven't been back to that wonderful world, not for many years.
It's not so easy living half-way across the country, but every now and then ... those hills, they do call to me, beckoning like a whispering wind, an ancient familial calling, which only a lost child so desperately yearns.
The Ties That Bind Us
A few hundred years ago, Scotch- Irish and German immigrants settled into the hills of West Virginia, wanting to escape religious oppression and societal demands. Searching for ultimate freedom, these settlers carved their way into the shadows of a land tucked away behind mountain mist, making a once desolate life flourish with natural abundance. It does not surprise me in the least that this ancient and mystical land thrives with spiritual activity. The late John Denver sums it best with song:
"Blue Ridge Mountains Shenandoah river
Life is old there older than the trees
Younger than the mountains blowin' like a breeze
Country roads take me home
To the place I belong
West Virginia mountain momma
Take me home country roads"
Civil War Ghost Story Handed Down
When my grandmother was alive, she used to tell a story about the time when she was a little girl during the early 1900s. In those days, she had witnessed the apparition of a Confederate soldier who had been tragically murdered on Powell Mountain in Nicholas County, West Virginia.
As I recall, the story goes, back then, her father, of course my great-grandfather, took her to the base of Powell Mountain in the early wee hours of the morning before the sun started to rise to catch a glimpse of a reportedly headless figure who rode horseback down Powell mountain slope.
Though it was my father who told me the story, I have always remembered this story simply because my grandmother was a serious woman, and whenever she spoke, I always listened because you could sense her truth.
Over the years, I've often wondered about the Ghost of Powell Mountain.
Does he still ride headless, searching for his grave?
Recently I came across a couple of sites which do indeed confirm the old story handed down to me about the ghost of Powell mountain. It's kind of special to me because my grandmother had a part in witnessing what only a few have ever seen. I have read that the old dirt road is now paved and that the ghost no longer rides down the hillside. Hopefully his spirit now rests at the foot of the mountain where his grave now lies.
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Those Hills, They Do Call to Me ...
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