Appalachian Gothic

Tales of the paranormal from the Appalachian Mountains.

Bill Barrett’s Mysterious Visitor

Bill Barrett owned a farm in Stanley Valley. A mysterious phantom began to appear in March 1933. It visited Barrett’s property every few nights, at first. The frequency escalated until the ghostly visitor came every night. It looked like a heavy-set man, but no amount of gunfire affected him. The ghost usually appeared between dusk and midnight, although he visited in the early hours of the morning couple of times.

The specter opened locks and accessed parts of the property that were secured. Rocks often fell upon the house. The spirit carried unusual items away and never returned them. Barrett estimated the ghost took around two wagon loads of fencing rails alone. Many guns were fired at the figure, and the bullets often split the fence rails in half, but the ghost never acknowledged pain or left blood.

Barrett hid in the bushes near his house, around April 1. He waited until the figure came close and surprised him. He fired his shotgun, point-blank, into the chest of the figure. The figure replied, “Oh,” and fled. He returned the next night as if nothing had happened.

Neighbors also fired countless bullets at the ghostly thief, but none wounded the character. One of Barrett’s neighbors planned to physically subdue the spirit when it came, but he was knocked unconscious when one of the raining rocks fell upon his head.

No one knew where the stolen items went. Hundreds of visitors came to see the phantom for themselves. Three trucks filled with armed men came to Barrett’s farm, a few days after April 11. They combed the land, a cemetery, and a nearby cave. They found no “evidence of a haunting,” although never stated precisely what evidence they searched for.

After the searching men deemed it a hoax, the newspapers followed suit, and dropped further mention of Barrett’s problem.


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