1928 - Alderson High School - 1968


An Old Country House
Herman Stowell King 8-2008

People who are born with a “veil” over their face are often sensitive to phenomena that elude the rest of us. My mother, Eva King, was such a person. I know she possessed psychic sensitivity to some degree. I was present when she apprehended—someway, somehow, without knowledge through normal cognitive channels—the sudden and unexpected death of her father.

I had heard her speak of other unusual experiences. One that particularly intrigued me concerned what in all likelihood was a haunted house that she, my father, and older brother and sister occupied many years before I was born. Here is the way she told it to me:

“Some people don’t believe in ghosts. Neither did your father when we first moved into the old farmhouse in Monroe County, West Virginia. It was a quiet, lovely place. The house was made of logs, and was comfortable enough. It was really a nice place to live. Or so we thought when we first moved in! For things started happening soon afterward that changed our minds—eerie, frightening things. Your father was unaware of them at first, but he too decided later that the place was strange and unwholesome.

“One evening, your brother and sister and I were sitting in the yard near the front porch. We were cracking hickory nuts on a large, flat rock. Your father was away at work. Suddenly, all three of us heard voices. They were coming from an upstairs room in the house. I knew no one was in the house, yet the voices were plainly audible. There were two, a man’s and a woman’s.

“Another time we heard an alarm clock ringing upstairs. I knew we had put no alarm clock in any of the rooms up there, which we did not occupy, but I went up to investigate. Sure enough, no clock was found. But the ringing had been just as clear as those unexplained voices conversing.

“Like many such houses, the cellar was reached by steps leading down from the porch. There was a peculiar sound associated with the cellar that both disturbed and puzzled us. It was the sound of someone pulling a big box down the steps to the cellar. We would go and look—no box, nobody! This occurred several times.

“Then we started seeing things as well. What it was that the children and I saw one warm dark evening I’ll never know. We were playing ‘bear,’ and I was the bear. We ran back and forth over the yard, and around the house, having a lot of fun. The children would squeal with fright when I growled and chased them. The front porch was long, as was the custom with such old farmhouses. As the dusk grew deeper, I saw something move down at the far end of the porch. For the life of me, it looked just like a great black bear. Whatever it was, the thing raised up and put its front paws on the porch. Something had decided to play ‘bear’ with us!

“Scared half out of our wits, the children and I ran inside, through the back door. We fastened all the windows and doors. We heard nothing those long hours that we cowered inside, waiting for your father to come home. Eventually, he did. There was never any sign of a bear, nor did anyone ever see such an animal in that vicinity. I often wondered what the thing had been, and if we had been playing ‘wolf’ instead of ‘bear,’ would it have assumed a different shape?

“Then something happened to your brother one night that really gave me a fright. He was sleeping at the foot of the bed. Suddenly, he called out that something was on him, mashing him. He couldn’t breathe. I got up and turned on the light. He was crying, badly frightened, and gasping for breath. I let him sleep next to me the rest of the night. And I left the light burning.

“This could have been explained away as a nightmare, or a child’s imagination, had it not been for all the other unusual happenings.

“We should have moved away then, but we stayed on. Houses and jobs weren’t easy to find.

“The strange happenings continued. Your father and I had gathered a lot of apples. We intended to peel them and make apple butter. We piled the apples in one of the far vacant rooms. It was a big house, and we only used part of it. One cloudy, lonely day we decided to make the apple butter—or at least begin peeling the apples. I went to the room for a load of apples to take up to the kitchen. As I went out of the room, it seemed as if someone was walking behind me. It gave me a creepy sensation. I made three trips for apples, and each time there was the same feeling. It made me shaky. I told your father. He scoffed at me, and said there was nothing to fear, just my nerves.

“‘I’m not going back in that room for any more apples,’ I said. ‘If you want more, you’ll have to get them yourself.’

“He did. When he returned, he had a curious expression on his face. ‘You were right,’ he said. ‘I got the same feeling. Exactly as if there was someone walking behind me!’ We knew then for certain that more than our imaginations was involved. All of us, including the children, were aware of the disturbing influences in that old country farmhouse.

“Considering the history of the old house, there was good reason for it to be haunted. We found out later that one former resident had jumped from the portico and killed himself, another had died suddenly in his chair, and a third had hanged himself in the barn. Perhaps something had driven them to such measures. I don’t know. I only knew that we had had enough.

“We moved. The next house we lived in did not have such sounds and sensations.”

For A. H. S. Ever Always - In Every Way For A. H. S.