I don’t think it would be proper if while sharing memories and stories if we didn’t discuss things of a haunted nature. I’m sure many of us grew up hearing ghost story or two told by family, friends or schoolmates. Most were entertaining and some down right scary. I would like to share a couple here today. One, a popular tale well known in Ashe County, and another of a more personal nature.
If you drive from West Jefferson on Hwy 88 west towards Warrensville you will pass the “Devil’s Stairs”. This is a rock formation created in 1914 when the railroad was blasted during its expansion to West Jefferson. This outcrop is shaped like a giant set of steps or stairs. It is said that one or two workers were injured or even killed during this work.
On a dark and moonless night, an old gentleman was driving down Hwy 88 on his way home . As he rounded the curve at Devils Stairs he saw a man in a dark coat hitch hiking to ward West Jefferson. The old man stopped to pick him up. The stranger didn’t speak as he got into the back seat. The man being the friendly sort tried to strike up a conversation but was met with more silence. As he neared the intersection of 88 and 194 he turned to ask which way the stranger wanted to go. The back seat was empty.
Now I must admit that I wanted to believe tales like this because, if nothing else, it made life interesting. But in truth, I was much more skeptical. That is until 2004. I had just finished a new house early that year and my family and I moved in August of that year, just after Debbie and I were married. The house is located in the North Carolina Dreams subdivision in Grassy Creek NC. The property line is shared with Marvin DeBord and has two small cemeteries within 75 yards or so. The nearest is the resting place of several of the Paisley family, one of these a civil war veteran. The other is the West family. Its a bit larger but has some more recent graves.
In the spring of 2005, while school was still in session, we started having small occurrences. My son Michael, who was ten at the time, had scores of different action figures and he loved to stage what he called scenes with the figures in the living room floor. These were elaborate set pieces where he put in a lot of time and effort, so we left them in place. The first thing we noticed to be amiss, was the arrangement of the scenes. Nothing major, but items a little out of place but enough for even me to notice. Now this didn’t happen every day, but often enough that we kept it in mind.
The next thing that started happening was my telescope in the corner would be tipped in different directions and even a few times out of place by as much as two feet. Again not every day, but enough to get on your nerves. About this time we started joking and calling it the work of the “Colonel” in honor of the civil war veteran, although he was really a corporal. A few other items would be out of place now and again, but the next really obvious thing was the television. I would turn it off as I went to bed and when I would get settled in, “click” it would come back on. This happened very frequently for several months. A few times I even took the remote to bed with me to no avail. Once in a while it would happen multiple times during a single night.
After a time, it seemed we had a lull in the action…only the occasional disappearance of various items of silverware. About the time school started back in the fall, Deb was on a new schedule and was working nights as an in-home health care nurse. Michael and I were alone most nights. Well, let me tell you about this one night that I will never forget. Michael had turned in a few minutes before to his room downstairs. I went around turning off light and the TV. I got snuggled into bed and turned off the lamp beside the bed and rolled over. Only a few seconds later I felt a cold hand grasp tightly on my ankle and tug three times. The third tug was strong enough to pull my head off the pillow. I tell you right now I was wide awake and scared. I got the light on pretty quick but nothing to see. I slipped down stairs to check on Michael but he was sound asleep. I went around the house and locked the doors something I never do. I don’t think I got back to sleep that night.
The next morning, as I was making breakfast, Deb came home. I tried to be casual about my story not wanting to scare Michael. Deb made the comment that the “Colonel “ was getting out of hand. Michael, while still eating calmly, said “Its not a man.”
I asked what do you mean, he replied, “Its that little girl in the red dress. She plays in my room at night all the time.”
Now, here I am a grown man of 45…scared as can be and my ten year old just as calm as can be talks about a ghost playing in his room. The strangest part of this story may be that the ankle pulling was the last thing to ever occur and we lived in that house until 2014. Now let me tell you folks, when something like that happens to you its very easy to become a true believer.
I enjoyed sharing this with the fans and members of Appalachian Memory Keepers. Thanks for reading.