A Night at the Unmarked Graves

Posted on August 20, 2010

While growing up in Richwood, West Virginia, I had always heard locals tales of the paranormal. There was a couple of friends of mine who had been visited by a Sasquatch type creature in the Cranberry back country. There was the tale of the nearby Braxton County Green Monster. Ghosts stories too many to count were told in every hollow in the hills. Of coarse no West Virginia native has gone without hearing a tale or two of the Moth Man. However, I never would have expected that I would have my own run in with any such phenomena.

The first part of my story, which at the time I didn�t even realize was part of any story at all, goes all the way back to high school. It was the fall of 1991. My high school sweat heart and I were parked on top of Fork Mountain, just outside of Richwood, to, um, �watch a meteorite shower.� Yeah, that is what we were doing.

We had found a very secluded location on top of the hill, surely not to be disturbed by anyone. We killed the ignition to my father�s truck and started� �watching the night sky.�

Within minutes, a very eerie feeling came over both of us. I clicked on the head lights, feeling as if something, or some one was watching us. There was no one there. I killed the lights and we� �went back to where we had left off.�

Only a moment later that same feeling returned and I clicked on the lights again. This time as well, there was no one there.

�Let�s get out of here,� my girl friend said.

�Good idea,� I concurred. We headed off of the mountain never to return to that particular spot.

Two years later, while deer hunting in the same location with my father, he wanted to show me something he had found in the woods several months before. I followed him off of the trail, only a few yards into the woods, and could not believe what I saw. There were at least eight unmarked graves.

The earth was sunken in where each grave was located. They were about six feet long and two feet wide. There were triangular shaped stones at both the head and feet of the graves. They were facing east to west, proper burial fashion.

My father, as well as the old man who owned the land, well into his eighties now, if not nineties, had no information on the graves. Who was buried there? How long had they been there? Did anyone know? After years of research, to include talking to many of the local old timers, in their nineties themselves, nothing has turned up.

All these years later, nearly twenty to be exact, the mystery still haunts me. One night on a recent trip to visit my home town, I decided I would spend the night, camping by the graves. I have always been curious about the paranormal, though, other than that night of parking with my high school sweet heart, I had never had an experience with it.

On this night, I got to the top of the mountain about two hours before dark. An Airborne Infantryman in the Army National Guard, I had packed my ruck sack with all that I would need and hiked up the hill, about three miles above my parent�s house. And the hill is straight up!

After reaching the location, I took my time setting up a proper, Army� bivouac site. I had taken only a mosquito net instead of a tent (the more you carry, the more it weighs). I had with me as well my Army sleeping bag and enough food and water to last for the night and the next day.

I carefully cut poles from which to hang my net, using my Leathermen Wave multi-tool. I made sure that everything was perfect, right down to my small camp fire ring constructed of large sand stones. It was such a picture perfect site, having taken more than an hour to construct, that I pulled out my digital camera and began taking pictures.

While reviewing the pictures of the campsite, I noticed that a couple of them appeared to have orbs in them. (Photographs to be submitted along with this article). Convinced it was nothing more than smoke or ash rising from my small camp fire, I thought nothing of it. I then made my way to the graves, thirty yards above me, and began taking pictures as well. One of these pictures also came out with a perfectly formed orb just above one of the graves. There was no smoke from the fire here. As the rest of the picture revealed, there was no rain or other form of moisture in the air. This made me curious and a bit nervous.

After heating up and eating a can of Chef Boyardee Ravioli just as it was turning dark, I made my way into my mosquito net. I stripped down, got into my sleeping bag and began listening to the sounds of the night. The tree frogs were so loud I wondered if I would ever be able to get to sleep.

Five minutes later, the tree frogs stopped chirping. My fire that had been burning brightly went out. I had thrown a log on it before retreating to my mosquito net that should have burned for a couple of hours. The fire was gone.

I then heard what sounded like a dog whining, coming from the graves. As I listened, I thought that it also resembled the sound of a child crying. I quickly grabbed my flashlight, turned in on, and shined it toward the graves. However, the light did nothing more than reflect off of my net, blinding me.

As I was trying to see past my light�s glare, something, a rock perhaps, came whizzing in my direction from the site of the graves.

�Screw this!� I said. I began getting dressed. I jumped out of the net and poured the rest of my water on the hot coals where the fire had been and began taking down my net. What took more than an hour to set up, was taken down and packed in my sack in only five minutes.

Just as I zipped the zipper on the small pocket I put my final item in, my camera, another object came flying in my direction from the graves. My fire now burst into brilliant flames. I put my back pack on, stomped out the fire, and began heading off of the mountain, armed only with my flashlight.

At one point, just a little bit down the trail, it felt as if an over hanging limb caught my back pack. I jerked hard, leaning forward, and almost fell down. I looked back with my light and saw that there was no limb or other obstruction there. The trail was completely clear.

I made it home at eleven o�clock, to the laughter of my mother who had left the front door unlocked.

The next day I told my father and several friends about the experience. My father took my nephews hiking up there a couple days later. When they returned, my father told me they had found a s�ance ring in the woods below were I had camped. It was a flat rock, circled with coins that had obviously been there quite a while. He knew what it was because he had found one years ago on the mountain behind the Cranberry Wilderness Visitor�s center. That particular ring had been lined with candy, feathers AND coins. He had reported it to a local Forest Service employee who explained to him what it was. Evidently, they are common in these old, West Virginia hills from where people go out from time to time and try to communicate with spirits.

Thinking my father was trying to play a trick on me, I went back up the next day, leaving in time to be out of the woods before dark, and indeed found the ring myself. It was not a trick. It was obvious that the coins had been there for years. They were so weathered that I could only make out the date on one of them, the fifth coin I attempted, a penny dated 1985. To make this tale even creepier, the site of the ring is where it felt as if something had grabbed me from behind.

I�ve mountain biked and hiked on top of Fork Mountain several times since this most recent event. I�ve listened to the owls at dusk, seen many deer and bear, but I have always made sure to get out of the woods before dark. I have fought terrorists in Iraq, jumped out of planes and been to many places in third world countries were few �white� people go. However, I have never felt fear like I felt that night I attempted to camp by the unmarked graves.

Sent in by Kevin E Lake, Copyright 2010

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Tags: Cemeteries, Richwood, West Virginia

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26 Responses to “A Night at the Unmarked Graves”
  1. Christina says:

    Excellent story Kevin……..a pretty high score on the creepy scale. Crazy that no one has a clue to who is IN the graves. Even though it spooked the heck out of you, you still managed to visit a couple more times. The unknown is many times spookier than what we CAN see.

    Although it has lost its ZAP on terror, your fear reminds me of the Blair Witch Project. To me, not really seeing what was pummeling the tents was pretty scary. That kind of fear and terror is without blood and gore, it’s that ‘I feel like I want my mommy’ fear.

    If you find out any additional info on those grave sites, do update us.

    Take care.


  2. AnNa bites back says:

    lol about the meteoite shower.good one.maybe the unmarked graves are there for a reason.so no-one would find them.exept for the parents or the person(s) whos reponsible for that.but i think you didnt wait long enough the first time.you got bored and tired of waiting around,it was an interesting story,i liked it.for some reason i do believe it.so you found nothing whats o ever if there were tombstones?that sucks im even curious in whos in there.what about the land have you found info on that?maybe if i were you i wouldnt go back just incase.thanks for the story and if by any chance you do find anything out who they are do tell us.

  3. trolldoll says:

    maybe they were from the civil war era. i bet that was a good place to watch a meteor shower lol! i wonder if anyone would be willing to excavate those graves? great experience

    • Pete says:

      Excavate the graves, I reckon there might be a few crazies who would be
      insane enough to do such a thing, but it is a grave and should be respected,
      if somebody dug me up I’d be none too pleased and they would regret it.
      let sleeping dogs lie, leave well alone.

      • trolldoll says:

        here’s my take, i wouldn’t mind being dug, if it was 100 years or so after. i mean that wouldn’t be me anyway. just a early vessel. for reaserch, and such that is. i’m not going to be buried, put me back to ash.

        • Pete says:

          Yeah I guess you’re right trolldoll, after a 100 years I’d just be a pile of old bones anyway
          they are gonna drop me down a hole, don’t fancy being a bonfire lol!!

  4. Coral says:

    Whoa. Kevin. That was creeeeepy to say the least ! Glad ya made it outta there ! I’ve had something like that happen to me as well. I ‘m gonna post a few of my many paranormal experiences one of these days. It’s hard for me to speak of a few which had just happened quite recently. During one incedent. I had landed in the hospital due to something pushing me out of my hay loft while feeding my horses. Also left. Nasty bitemark on the back of my right shoulder. There is much more. But I am afraid to tell it.for fear of breathing ‘new life’ into it. (I think that’s what it’s hoping for) ….We’ll see-

  5. big barney says:

    ehh. ok story i guess… but i still dont know what the begining with your girl and you had anything to do with the paranormal….. i mean u both were probably just freaking out. nothing paranormal there….and as for the orbs, you know how many particles of stuff are floating in the air in the woods?

  6. Kevin E Lake says:

    Thanks for your comments guys,

    Big Barney, as far as the girl friend thing goes, I wanted to get that in there, because as many times as we had been out in other places, (we all remember those days I’m sure) we had never felt anything like that. I thought it was ironic that I would later find out that the unmarked graves were at the same location where such an eerie feeling had come over us.

    Guys, my curiosity to the site was peaked just as much as yours after this last event. I have about half a dozen buddies on facebook digging through court house records, land deeds etc. So far we’ve found nothing.

    Trolldoll, you bring up a great point about the civil war. I have actually researched that avenue, in a way. I was directed to a 91 year old man, a local, who has lived here his entire life and knows more about local history than anyone.

    Ironically, his grandfather, who had been a captain for the confederate army during the civil was, was a traveling clergy after the war in a three country area here. He would take off in the spring, walk his loop (mostly through mountain trails as this was the late 1800′s) and perform weddings, funerals, etc at all the communitiets he visited. He would return to his home here in Richwood in the fall.

    He had actually led a funeral service on top of this mountain at the same site! The year was 1886. It was common for the survivors of those who passed away to bury their loved ones, wait for the clergy to come through, then hold the service.

    A man died up there in the winter of 1885/1886. It was a bad winter. There was so much snow, and with the ground frozen, they couldn’t bury the body. They let it sit in the barn until the ground thawed, then they burried him. The clergy, formal civil war Captain Hammons, came through and did the service.

    Here are some interesting points: The other graves were already there and no one, supposedly, knew anything about them at that time! Also, They placed a large shale slab over the grave of the man buried in 1886! This means, that I have not even noticed this grave. It is up there somewhere but isn’t part of the original 8 that I have counted.

    Half a dozen of us or so are actually going up there tonight to have a bit of a “ghost hunt.” I’ll check back in here either tonight when I return or tomorrow and let you guys all know what, if anything happened.

  7. trolldoll says:

    sounds like you have half of the mystery solved. that old guy’s grandfather just might have done the services for these people. since they are buried together, i suspect they are related. i guess you should let them be. i am a big fan of the civil war and like to learn little known facts about it. someone should get a recorded history from the old man while he is still here! i would love to hear it! good luck on your next hunt! get some evps too! thanks for the history!

  8. Kevin E Lake says:

    Ok guys, here is what took place on last night’s ghost hunt at the unmarked graves:

    My friends, two married couples, Randy and Trisha, Travis and Ava, and myself went up to the graves about an hour before dark and stayed until almost midnight. We familiarized ourselves with the area, taking pictures that revealed quite a few orbs, then built a campfire in the same spot I had built my fire a couple of weeks ago. We were trying to replicate the night of my previous experience as much as possible.

    After sitting around the fire, catching up on the past 18 years or so it had been since we had seen each other, we decided to get right into the action. We walked 30 yards up the hill to the graves.

    We first tried voice recordings. We each asked a question, waited ten seconds, allowing time for a response before the next question was asked. We did this twice but the recordings revealed nothing.

    Next, Ava said, “If you are here, do something to prove it.”

    All of s sudden, it started raining. It rained for only a minute, as we made our way back to the fire, then stopped as suddenly as it had begun.

    I then turned on my flashlight, unscrewed the top just enough to make the light go out. I placed it on the ground and said, “If you are here, turn the flashlight on.”

    Not five seconds later, something came hurling out of the woods at us, about thirty yeards away, from the direction of the graves, just as it had the night I was there alone. An acorn landed within six inches of the flashlight. We all heard it cracking through the leaves from the graves and even turned to face that direction while it was coming. The acorn had not simply fallen from an over head oak tree, straight down. Also, it was still green, no ripe enough to fall on its own, and had a stem and a leaf on it, as if it had been plucked from a tree.

    Trisha then placed her camera beside the flashlight and said, “You can use the energy from the camera’s batteries to turn the flashlight on if you need to.”

    Less than a minute later the flashlight came on.

    We later walked back up to the graves and entered the site. By the way, we counted a total of 13 graves. We each sat beside a grave and atempted to spend some alone time with the spirits.

    I had unscrewed my flashlight again and placed it on the ground between my legs. I did’t tell them to turn it on though. Ten minutes into this part of the hunt, I heard Ava say, “If you’re still here, turn on the flashlight.” She had obviously done the same thing were she was sitting, about ten yards away. As soon as she said this, MY flashlight came on.

    After everyone but Trisha and I had walked back to the fire, I asked Trisha if she thought they had really made it rain as a way of communicating with us. Just as the words left my mouth, it started raining again.

    Trisha said,”If that was you, make it stop as soon as we get to the fire.”

    We then made our way to the rest of the group at the fire. As soon as we got there the rain stopped.

    Ava was feeling a bit sick to her stomach so we decided to leave. Once we were fifty yards away from where we had been, she didn’t feel sick anymore.

    We got home just around mid-night, all in agreement that it had been an active evening and that we would brain storm and go back another time.

    If any of you have suggestions of ways we can try to communicate with the spirits on our next journey, I would love to hear them.


  9. trolldoll says:

    to bad nothing turned up on evp. the flashlights with no batteries coming on is a rare event. did you have a emf meter? i would like to go on one of these hunts myself! staying later till around two or three might be more productive too. i don’t know about the rain part. it was probably a random cloud burst. thanks for letting us in on your investigations!!

  10. Kevin E Lake says:

    I might not have explained the flashlight thing clear enough. THey had batteries. We would unscrew the top of it, with the light turned on, just enough to make it go off, then the spirits would make them come on. Yeah, I wish we could have caught something on EVP too… we didn’t have the machinery you asked about. This is getting to be quite the popular haunt site. A bunch of my other friends want to go now.

    • trolldoll says:

      what i meant was by no battery was that it was disconnected. sorry i should have said it different. i have seen this happen on the show ghost hunters a couple of different times. it they have the energy to do this, i’m sure a emf meter would have been giving off readings too. anywho i like your enthusiasm! just don’t get to many people together at once. they don’t have to do stuff if they don’t want to and it sounds like it has been a pretty secluded place for awhile.

      • Kevin E Lake says:

        oh, ok. Gotchya! If I can get my hands on that equiptment I’ll try it. I agree with not taking too many people. The place is isolated and has been for a long time indeed. The last thing I want to do is piss them off. It seems that they like to communicate with me, so why ruin a good friendship thus far by taking too many people?

        • cookie says:

          great story…now i wanna come along with u guys…hey trolldoll maybe we should tag along huh….might be a great experience…u have some good ideas thought…maybe kevin can try some….i have always been interested in the paranormal but i know i might get frighten lol….please keep in touch and let us know what happens on ur next trip up the mountain k….u and ur friends do be careful though……

  11. Carri says:

    Can you post some of those orb pictures on this site. It would be pretty neat.

  12. kevin e lake says:

    Cookie, thanks for the comment and the concern. Our little group is actually planning on going up and spending the entire night next Saturday, weather permitting. From our last experience though, we may receive some rain whether it is in the forcast or not.

    Carri, I tried to upload some orb pics when I posted the story. I’ll go back and try to do that.

    FYI, I am an author and have been working on my next novel, revolving it around these graves. There will be quite a bit of fact in the story, as far as the things I’ve witnessed, and the story’s focus will center around what I belive to be the origin of the graves. I am convinced they go back to pre-revolutionary war times. FYI, Chief Blue Coat, an Indian war chief that led his tribe against whites in the French and Inidan War, was actually a white man by the last name of Van Swearingon. He was kid napped along the banks of the Cherry River in what is now present day Richwood, WV when he was an 11 year old boy. The Swearingon family still reside in this area. You can google him and learn of his history.

    Please note, though I am an author, this tale of mine about the graves is in no way a falsehood, or an attempt to market a book that is still in its infancy. I just couldn’t allow a place like this with the experiences I’ve had there go without being put down in written word.

    If any of you guys like thrillers, I have a novel called “Serial Street” available on Amazon and all other online book retailers. It is a story about a bunch of copy cat serial killers who mimic the most notorious fiends in our nation’s past, to include the Zodiac killer, the Hillside strangler, Jeffrey Daughmer, Ed Gein, the DC Snipers, Billy Ghool, the Green River Killer and Ted Bundy. They all live on the same street. The main characters are two 14 year old boys who are on to them and are trying to gather evidence about their activities in order to go to the authorities without sounding crazy. The whole while, the boy’s attractive, single mothers are in danger of being taken out by the killers, as are the boys once the killers are on to them. I think you would enjoy it.

    I’m off now to try to re-load those pics. I hope I can get them up so you guys can see them.

    thanks again for the new comments,

    Kevin E Lake

  13. Gummie Bear says:

    Hey Kevin,
    You did a wonderful job in writing your experiences. Thank you for sharing. Viginia has some beautiful country, and I agree, there is quite a bit of paranormal activity and history to go with it. I look forward to more of your stories. And, thank you for your service to our beautiful country :)

    • kevin e lake says:

      Gummie Bear,

      Thanks for your comment. You are welcome for my service and I want to thank you for your appreciation.

      Just to clarify though, this took place in West Virginia, no Virginia. There is a ton of paranormal activity in Virginia, centered around the civil war and slavery, but not as much is heard about the activity herein West Virgnia. I’m sure that was a simple mix of words on your part, but I wanted to make sure. I lived on the West coast for a few years and I actually met people out there on a regular basis who didn’t realize that West Virginia was actually a state. They thought it was part of Virginia. LOL!

  14. Gummie Bear says:

    You’re very welcome, Kevin. Also, thank you for pointing out my mistake about Virginia and West Virginia…I am for sure one of those people who thought that they were both the same state.

    Again, I enjoyed reading about your experience and look forward to reading more of your work.

    • kevin e lake says:

      no harm no foul. We are a small state. Seems like the only time you hear of us, especially west of the Mississippi is when we have a coal mine disaster. Unfortunately, too often on the east side of the Mississippi all you hear are too many stereotypes. I’ve been all around the country and all around the world. There is no better place I’d rather call home. Thanks for your interest on my little tale. I’ll keep you posted to any new events.

    • West Coaster says:

      Gummy Bear – You might profit more by reading a little history and or geography. Yes Virginia there is a West Virginia. My grandfather stumpled around that country for many years. There were several Indian masacars in that area that the old folks would know about. They are all gone now but finding grandchildren in their 60′s would tell you about some non written history. Lots of folks are ashamed to tell if their relatives were kiled by indians. Relatively simple to do a little digging and exume a few bones. Turn them over to a morgue. Questions would be answered reguarding who they are.

  15. cookie says:

    i can’t wait to hear more about ur trips up the hill….hope the weather hols out for u guys….it’s jus so eerie and exciting =)

  16. kevin e lake says:

    Thanks for the comment Cookie,

    And now I do have MORE for you all on the graves after a trip back up the hill this evening.

    As I’ve mentioned before, I am working on a novel that takes place at this site. The story revolves around the mystery of the graves. I find that I can write like crazy when I am actually there in the setting. Though it takes nearly an hour to mountain bike up there, I make the trip several days a week, my laptop in my back pack, and get more writing done in two hours than I would all day if I were not in this special place. It is as if the spirits on the mountain are telling me what to write… like chanelling.

    Anyway, I was up there this evening and got two chapters written. On the way off the mountain, I stopped by to see an old friend, a 76 year old man who used to let me stay in his cabin on top of the hill when I was in high school. I had not talked to him since those days, nearly 20 years ago now.

    I gave him autographed copies of my books, “Serial Street” and “Homeless Across America” (both available on Amazon… hint hint) and told him I was working on a novel that revolved around the graves.

    “Oh, speaking of those graves,” he said, making his way to a camoflagued box sitting on a table. “Let me show you something.”

    He explained that the box was one of those cameras that hunters use at their deer stands. They aim it toward their bate piles, where they lay out apples, salt blocks or other food with which to bait wild life, and when anything passes by, they trip the motion detector and it snaps a picture.

    “I’ve had this set up just below the graves,” he told me. “I have a deer stand there. I can look back over my shoulder and actually see the graves.”

    He hooked the camera up to the television screen and started showing me pictures. There were several of a very large black bear then more that appeared to have nothing in them.

    “What I can’t understand, is what tripped it and made it take pictures,” he said, flipping through the pictures that appeared only to have woods in them. Then, he came to one that had what appeared to be a smudge in the middle of the picture.

    I leaned into the television. The smudge was not on the camera. It looked like a blur floating in the middle of an otherwise perfectly in focus picture.

    “What is that?” I asked.

    “I don’t know,” he said. “But wait till you see the next one.

    The next photograph showed a sold black object, perfectly circular in shape, right up against the camera. You could still see the forest, in clear day light, behind this object, but you could not make out what the object itself was.

    The object had no forms in it like ears. It wasn’t big enough to be any part of a black bear at that angle. The time on the photos showed that it was taken several hours after the bear had passed.

    My question to you guys is this: Have any of you ever heard of orbs showing up in photos as solid black during the day? It was perfectly round like an orb, yet it was solid black, not white or clear. I tried and tried to identify the object but kept drawing a blank. I have no idea what it was but it has certainly garnered my attention and curiosity.

  17. Neko says:

    I can believe this story whole heartedly. As for the round black orb…..That is weird. However it could have been something that fell on the lense, or it could be a warning to not visit again. Maybe you should do an EVP session there or take a video camera up and get some video.

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