Tales of paranormal activity and legends of ghosts haunting people and places are nothing new. Ghostly motifs can frighten, provide a cautionary tale or spark the imagination. West Virginia isn't short of stories about purportedly haunted places and many ghost anecdotes are alive and well in area communities.
Up a hollow just across from Harman High School sits an old abandoned home, known as the Bennett House. It's spooky story can stir curiosity in those who believe in the paranormal and those who don't. The legend behind the house has been used by educator Jane Harman in her classroom at Halloween.
Many years ago an unknown man arrived at Harman peddling tonic, Harman explained. For some reason, someone, although people do not know who, allegedly murdered the salesman and disposed of his body in one of three places at the Bennett home: under a floor, in a closet or under a bush. Although Harman isn't sure the Bennett House was the exact location where the body of the tonic selling stranger may have been hidden or buried, the story has caused some to believe the house is haunted.
Some people say they've seen faces in the windows, while others have seen gates swinging when there was no wind. There's a door that won't stay latched and shut, Harman said.
"When I was in it (Bennett House) years ago, I thought it was a nice, well built house, and I wished I could fix it up," Harman said. "I like to fix up old houses, and I'm not afraid of ghosts. My own house was old and abandoned when I fixed it up many years ago. There are people who said it's haunted, but if it is, it's an awfully sweet ghost I've got."
Years ago, around Halloween, Harman took classes on a walk to the house "just to get their imaginations going." After seeing the house, students would return to school and write their own ghost stories, she explained.
"I don't think many of us over here seriously believe in ghosts, but all old communities have these creepy tales, and there's something very compelling about them even when you don't believe them," Harman said. "Who isn't pulled in by stories of chains a-rattlin', mysterious lights in empty places, or visions of some beautiful haint of a girl, all in white, hovering down a country lane in the dark of night."
Whether the ghostly accounts are true or just created to scare kids around the camp fire there are plenty in books, local folklore and on the big screen.