This fascinating story is taken from the book I’ve been featuring lately, Shenandoah Voices, Folklore, Legends and Traditions of the Valley by late author-historian John Heatwole.

Brock’s Gap:
“Up in the Brock’s Gap region (*of the Shenandoah Valley)the old resident’s referred to the rest of the world as “out.”  It was not uncommon to hear the phrase, “people would come along from out.”

In the old days, the rest of the country was well served by the Valley Pike and other well maintained thoroughfares, but the Gap and its scattered homesteads remained isolated beyond the first rise of the Allegheny Front (*Mountains). The hamlets of Fulks Run, Criders, Bergton and Dovesville were oases of social contact, as were a few churches here and there, but the people in the Gap were pretty self-sufficient.  Before electricity came into the area, moonless nights smothered the hills, hollows and mountains…making the faint glimmer of candlelight in a window way off a welcome sight to a late-night traveler.

It’s not surprising that some wonderful ghost stories have come from this area.  Unusual happenings were woven into stories that were told and retold…long winter nights found rapt listeners gathered around a glowing fire or warm stove to be thrilled by a story teller.”
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Ghost story:  “One young girl of the Crider’s area was told that she could take the horse and go to meet her mother and sister who were returning from a trip to “out” late one night.  Her path took her to a neighbor’s farm gate where she dismounted, opened the gate, led the horse through and then re-latched it.  As she climbed back on the horse, she heard something coming from the direction she had just come.

“Someone come a runnin,’ was a man a comin’ up the road a runnin’.”
He was coming fast and she was scared.  She kicked her horse into a gallop.  As she looked back over her shoulder she saw the “man” run through the closed gate as if he were made of air.  “I flew out,” she said, but it seemed to make no difference—he was gaining on her.
“When I got to the top of the hill he was about two steps behind me.  He grabbed the horse by the tail, and she kicked up, and away she went as hard as she could run!”

That did the trick and the pursuer disappeared in their dust. “I don’t know what it was.  It wasn’t no human; no human coulda kept up with that horse!”

The woman who was once the girl in the preceding story also related her father’s brush with a demon.
“My daddy seen one one time.  He was comin’ home after dark from Casper Turner’s.  Saw what looked like a man layin’ on a fence; had eyes like fireballs!”

Her father had a gun with him, and he shot at the demon.  The thing fell off the fence and started making a noise that made the man think he should be getting away from there.  “Had run down from the mountain.  He was scared to death.”
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11 comments

  1. Mary Ricksen // February 5, 2010 at 7:10 PM  

    I made a comment hours ago and it's not here!

  2. Mary Ricksen // February 5, 2010 at 7:12 PM  

    Well one more time.
    You wonder how much of what people who were very superstitious say, that you can believe.
    She couldn't describe him. But she certainly got frightened by something.

  3. Mary Ricksen // February 5, 2010 at 7:12 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  4. Beth Trissel // February 5, 2010 at 8:52 PM  

    I wonder about some of these things too, and then really wonder about others.

  5. Pamela Varnado // February 6, 2010 at 1:01 AM  

    Beth, I enjoyed reading about Brock's Gap, and especially loved the photograph of the Shenandoah Valley. My husband and I have always wanted to travel around the United States and see all the sites and different cultures. The peacefulness and beauty of the picture inspired me to remind him of our dream.

  6. Judy // February 6, 2010 at 8:16 AM  

    Beth, love hearing the stories about such an interesting, beautiful place and the photographs are amazing. Thanks for sharing. No wonder your books are enjoying success!

  7. Nightingale // February 6, 2010 at 2:25 PM  

    Shivery stories, Beth. My grandmother scared us as youngsters with such tales.

  8. Scarlet Pumpernickel // February 6, 2010 at 3:47 PM  

    I love ghost stories! Beautiful pictures Beth. They make we want to write about your lovely valley. Now, how can I work the Shenadoah into my vampire, secret island story? Hummmmmmmm. got to think about that!

  9. Beth Trissel // February 6, 2010 at 8:24 PM  

    Thanks so much everyone. You'll have to find a way to visit and Scarlet I'm sure you can come up with an angle that includes the valley. :)

  10. Dayana // February 6, 2010 at 9:08 PM  

    Eerie little tales, Beth. Thanks for sharing them. We've been talking about ghosts and other entities at my blog.

    Dayana~

  11. Joanne // February 7, 2010 at 11:11 AM  

    We can always count on you, Beth, for these wonderfully interesting posts.