West Virginia Ghost & Monster Authors
The following authors have served West Virginia well. It was through
their research and personal investment that many of West Virginia's stories of ghosts & monsters were saved from oblivion.
As academics, we stand in awe of their accomplishment - and as West Virginians, we are better for their efforts.
Ruth Ann Musick (1897-1974)
Ruth Ann Musick, a folklorist, fiction
writer, dramatist, and poet, was born in Kirksville, Missouri, on September 17,
1897. Her parents were farmers who lived and worked on a five-acre farm outside the town. Ruth Ann was her parents' only daughter,
sandwiched between two brothers. Appreciation of the fine arts was a family trait - Ruth Ann's father was a devoted reader,
her uncle was a professional writer, her brother Archie was an artist, and her other brother Ace became a commercial printer.
Ruth Ann was a sensitive child, one who became a vegetarian at the age of eight after watching the butchering
of farm livestock for sale. She began writing at an early age and one her first literary award, sponsored by the local newspaper,
at the age of twelve for a short Christmas story, "St. Nicholas."
She attended Kirksville State Teacher's College (now North
Missouri State University)
where she wrote a college news column for the Kirksville Daily Express. She received her Bachelors of Science in Education
degree from Kirksville State
and then continued her education at the State University of Iowa. She graduated with a Master of Science in mathematics in
1928 and a Doctor of Philosophy in English in 1943. During those years, Musick taught both English and mathematics at the
high school and college level. She began her college teaching career at Iowa's William Penn College
in 1942; two years later she became a member of the faculty of Iowa
Wesleyan College. In 1946 she
moved to West Virginia to accept a teaching position at
Fairmont State College where she continued to teach until her retirement in May 1967.
Dr. Musick had become interested in folklore and the preservation of tradition culture, including songs
and stories, while in Missouri. She prepared a collection
of family folk songs, many of them originating in England and Scotland, and preserved through oral tradition that was recognized
the American Folklore Society. After her move to West Virginia, Dr. Musick became interested
in the folklore of the Appalachians. In 1948 she began a folklore course at Fairmont State
She worked collecting folklore, publishing her first collection, Ballads, Folk Songs, and Folk Tales
from West Virginia in 1960. Five years later the University of Kentucky Press published The Tell-tale
Lilac Bush and Other West Virginia Ghost Stories, a collection of stories and legends
that still chills and thrills West Virginia readers. Her
next collection focused on mountain legends that had come to the state from Europe - Green
Hills of Magic, West Virginia Folk Tales from Europe (1970). This work earned the first literary award to be given by
the West Virginia Library Association (1972). Her final folklore collection, Coffin Hollow, was posthumously published
in 1977. She also published and presented numerous papers on folklore. She also published numerous poems and short stories
in various periodical publications.
Ruth Ann Musick died in 1974. Her manuscripts are housed in the library that bears her name at Fairmont
Ruth Ann Musick
-The Telltale Lilac Bush
-The Green Hills of Magic and Other Stories
|Newspaperman Jim Comstock
Jim Comstock (Feb. 25, 1911 - May 22, 1996)
Newspaperman James "Jim" Comstock is most famous for his humorous and
politically charged newspaper, The West Virginia Hillbilly, which he published from his press at Richwood, WV.
Although his work included other subjects besides ghosts and monsters from WV, Mr. Comstock needs to be recognized as one
of the first West Virginians to collect and rescue our heritage from the mists of time. Among the first stories he recorded
in his newspaper was that of John Henry's ghost, the mysterious curing powers of the Greenbrier White Sulphur Springs, and
that of the Braxton County Monster. In addition, he is to be applauded for his work in rescuing the homeplace of Nobel
Prize and Pulitzer Prize winning author Pearl S. Buck from oblivion. Mr. Comstock is buried in Mountain View Cemetery
in Richwood, WV. His work, however, continues to inspire. For more information on Jim Comstock, visit this site.
Dennis Deitz (1917-2003)
Dennis Deitz is an inspiration to collectors of West Virginia ghost stories.
Although he wrote 14 books about the people, history and culture of West Virginia, his most famous story is that of The
Greenbrier Ghost. This story involves a young woman who falls in love with a disreputable man, is murdered by him,
and later returns as a ghost in order to bring him to justice. Thank you, Mr. Deitz, for saving this wonderful story
Dennis Deitz was born in 1917 in Greenbrier County, WV. He worked at
Union Carbide early in his life, but after his brother suffered a stroke he began collecting the family's stories.
In order to preserve his brother's wonderful storytelling, Deitz began
writing his brother's stories down in books. These were family tales that had been handed down for generations, and
Deitz published them in a series of books titled Mountain Memories I-V. These books recall a time in early
West Virginia history before the advent of highways, telephones, and the internet.
Dennis Deitz's works:
Mountain Memories Volumes I, II, III, IV, & V
The Greenbrier Ghost Volumes I, II, & III
The Little Spooner that Wouldn't Spoon (children's book)
|Fortean & UFOlogist author John Keel
John Keel (1930-2009 )
John Alva Keel was born on March 25, 1930.
He is a Fortean
author and professional journalist currently residing in New York,
Keel's first published story was in a magician's magazine at the age of
12. He later moved to Greenwich Village and wrote for various magazines.
Keel is a ufologist that brought the world much research about UFOs, aliens,
and most famously, Mothman. It was Keel's second book, UFOs:
Operation Trojan Horse (1970), that alerted the general public that many aspects of contemporary UFO reports, including
humanoid encounters, often paralleled certain ancient folklore and religious encounters. Keel also argues that there is a
direct relationship between UFOs and psychic phenomena. He does not call himself a ufologist and prefers the term Fortean which encompasses a wide range of paranormal subjects.
In 1976, Keel published The Mothman Prophecies, an account of
his 1966-1967 investigation of sightings of the Mothman, a strange
winged creature reported in and around Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Those sightings sadly culminated in the collapse
of the Silver Bridge between Point Pleasant, WV, and Kanaugha, OH on December 15, 1967. 46 people were killed.
Dr. Patrick Ward Gainer (1904-1981)
Gainer was born in Parkersburg, WV, but grew up in rural Gilmer County, WV.
He is best known for his work with WV folk ballads, child ballads, and the WV Folk Festival which he helped organize in 1950.
This festival is still celebrated today. His work, Witches,
Ghosts, and Signs: Folklore of the Southern Appalachian Mountains (Seneca
Books, 1975) is a key text regarding WV ghosts, monsters, and magic traditions inherent to the state's culture. For
more information, visit the West Virginia Regional History Collection.
Susanna "Granny Sue" Holstein
West Virginia Storyteller, puppeteer, and author Susanna "Granny
Sue" Holstein hails from Sandyville, WV in Jackson County. She has written many books about life in the mountains, including
Granny's Ghost Stories. Learn more about Susanna Holstein by
reading her blog.
James Gay Jones
A former professor of history at Glenville State College in Glenville,
WV, James Jones has written many books about ghosts in West Virginia. These include: A Wayfaring Sin-Eater and Other
Tales of Appalachia (1983), The Haunted Valley and More Folk Tales of Appalachia (1979), Appalachian Ghost
Stories and Other Tales (1975), and More Appalachian Fok Stories
Jo Ann Dadisman
A life-long West Virginian and professor of English at West Virginia University,
Jo Ann Dadisman is also a professional storyteller in her spare time. In addition to other works, Dadisman has written,
Raising the Spirits: An Appalachian Sampler of Stories to Be Told (2004). For more information on Jo Ann Dadisman,
visit her storytelling page at WVSG.
Gerald C. Milnes
In addition to a WV author, Milnes is also the folk arts coordinator
of the Augusta Heritage Center at Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, WV. He is the editor of many books and the author
of Signs, Cures, & Witchery: German Appalachian Folklore. This book details the early Germanic settlers
of WV and their occult beliefs.
West Virginia resident and author, Susan Sheppard is a well-known paranormal
researcher and psychic medium. In addition to maintaining the Parkersburg Ghost Tours, Sheppard has also written many
books including, Cry of the Banshee, which is a collection of West Virginia ghost stories. For more on Susan
Sheppard, please visit Haunted Parkersburg.
Teets is an author and UFOlogist from the mountains of West Virginia.
His seminal work, West Virginia UFOs: Close Encounters in the Mountain State, is hailed as an important cornerstone
of UFO investigations in the state.
A listing of other West Virginia & Appalachian
books about the supernatural, ghosts, and monsters can be found on this website: