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The land on which Mount Jackson situated is from two land grants from the King of England: Benjamin Allen and William White, part of Ben’s original 400 acres set aside for the use of a community center and burial grounds. Prior to the settlement of the area, the land was used by the Catawba Natives. On the land a school house was constructed in order to provide education to the community. A plan for the village of Mount Pleasant was laid out and developed in 1796 by Jacob Reuben for Joseph Miller. In July 1822, Reuben Moore’s will stated:
“I… give the schoolhouse that stands beyond Pollocks on the left of the Main road with about 3/4 of an acre of Land annext to it more or less. I likewise give and add to the house and lot already named one half acre of land I purchased of Alexander Doyle and hold his deed for it. This land be and remain for the free use of a meeting house, school house and burying ground forever to be free for all Christian Ministers of any society to preach in.”
Samuel Kercheval settled in the Shenandoah Valley in the early 1800s. He published A History of the Shenandoah Valley in 1833. In his book, he wrote, “Along all our water courses evidences of Indian dwellings are yet to be seen.” It is entirely impossible that the vestiges of simple wigwams or longhouses would be visible 160 years after the Shanantoa Indians were massacred. Obviously, there were earthworks, stone walls and thick wattle and daub houses in their towns.
Kercheval further stated that elderly residents of the Shenandoah Valley, still living when he arrived, told him that there were many Indian mounds visible when they arrived. The largest was a pyramidal mound about 20-25 feet high at the base of Rudes Hill near Mt. Jackson, VA in Shenandoah County. In Kercheval’s time the mound was still about 15 feet tall. It was destroyed during the Civil War.
It was noted that during the Battle of Rude’s Hill, soldiers on both sides had notices flickerings of light throughout the night. Locals say that the lights are from the spirits of natives who remain in the area following the great battle between the Catawba and the Iroqoui prior to the settlement of the Mount Jackson area. Some say the lights are those of native women searching for the bodies of their loved ones and their weeping can sometimes be heard along the wind.
During the Civil War, 156 years ago General Sheridan marched his men into the Town of Mount Jackson. The people in the Town closed their shutters as the men tromped by with menace in their eyes. For a period after the sound was silent, the people were too afraid to step outside or peek to see if the men had left. Then there was a loud whoom and crack which drew some of the Town’s folk outside as they witnessed Sheridan and his men set the Mill ablaze. Sheridan forced his men to watch as the Mill burned. Among the creaks, whistles, and snaps of the fire eating away at the old Mill, some of his soldiers lurched forward as if they had an urge to throw themselves on the fire. Confused the Town’s people listened closer as the creaks, whistles, and snaps turned into shrieks and shouts of terror, as if people were being burned alive in the Mill.
Numerous other buildings in the Town experienced fires that occurred almost without warning and for no clear reasoning. The Nelson Theatre once caught flame, so did the former Bank Building near what is now Town Hall, and there was once a fire near the railyard, which was also where bodies were unloaded into the Town following the nearby Civil War battles.
Since the first settlers arrive here in the early 1700’s, 665 individuals overall have gone missing without a trace. On April 25, 1945, at the Methodist Church. A group of thirty men, representative of the local churches, members of the Town Council and civic leaders, formed the Men’s Fellowship Group with J. Lee Stoneburner as president. This Group sought to combat the issue of individuals disappearing without a trace, fires that were appearing across Town, lights seen at night, as well as the Woman In White known to walk the streets at night. Due to their research it is known that individuals will disappear every midnight of a halloween that falls on the same night as a full moon. They called the event, the
MIDNIGHT IN MOUNT JACKSON
In the halloween of 1963, the group held a party at the Nelson Theatre. There was much drinking involved and it has been said that the men got a bit rowdy. One man went missing and despite extensive search efforts, he was not found. Since then there have been multiple incidents of the same happening.
On the night of October 26th, 1984, the group held another party at the Nelson Theatre. Much drinking took place this night as well. At approximately 4:45 am the next morning, a woman in white dress entered the theatre and disappeared off stage. The theatre was searched and the woman was never found. The woman in white reappeared on Halloween of 1990 and again in 1991. She always appears at the Nelson Theatre in the middle of the night, disappears offstage, and then leaves immediately.
While the disappearance of the Man in the Black Suit remains unsolved, a story has surfaced regarding the disappearance of Mr. Michael Collins. According to eye witness accounts, at around midnight on December 29, 1911, Mr. Collins was walking along the railroad tracks. He was approached by a man wearing a black suit, gloves, and hat, who asked Mr. Collins for directions to a certain location. When Mr. Collins looked up the man suddenly vanished, leaving behind only footprints in the snow.
Mr. Collins never returned that night. Although his body wasn’t discovered until November 10th, the police couldn’t find a single piece of evidence to indicate how he died. It’s believed that the mysterious man who had taken Mr. Collins’ life was the Man in the Black Suit.
In the year 1900, John O’Connor purchased a house on the property on which the current feed mill sits. Soon thereafter, it began to feel like someone was watching him. People claimed to hear strange noises coming from the attic. After several months, John decided to take matters into his own hands. He removed a plank from the flooring and climbed into the attic. What he saw next would haunt him for the rest of his days. There, hanging from the rafters, were the remains of a man in a black suit. His face was covered in blood but his eyes were open and staring directly at John. The man smiled and spoke in a soft, hushed voice.
“Now you know why I’m here.”
John screamed as he fled from the building. He didn’t return for several days but when he did, he brought with him a priest and a doctor. Together they performed an autopsy and discovered that the man had died from a massive wound to his chest. The coroner could not figure out how this had happened. He also found traces of drugs inside the body. Perhaps the most curious thing was that the body had begun to rot before he’d even been hung from the rafters.
Recently, on the second October weekend of each year, a woman in white dresses has been spotted. She often asks the locals for directions or offers them assistance. Her true intentions are unknown.
The first sighting of the Woman in White occurred in the early 2000s. It was a dark night when John O’Connor Jr. came across the Woman in White. His father had told him about his experience with the Man in Black, but his father would never say too much due to the trauma he experienced. John Jr. came across the Woman in White when he was driving home from work. She stood on a bridge overlooking the river. As she walked towards him, she asked if he knew where the train station was. John Jr. was confused by her behavior and wondered why she would ask such a question. He gave her directions and continued on his way.
As he drove home, he began to ponder over what had just transpired. He noticed that his heart beat was slightly faster than normal and he felt a slight chill. He stopped his car. Something in the air made him feel uneasy; something out of place. There was a thunderstorm brewing overhead. John Jr. looked up and saw lightning in the distance. The clouds were dark with flashes of light illuminating them. A sudden gust of wind blew through, rustling the trees. John Jr. heard the sound of raindrops hitting the pavement and he shivered. His skin felt cold and clammy against his hands. He turned around and drove back into town to find the old Triplett Schoolhouse ablaze with the Woman in White standing infront of it. The roof of the building was caving in and smoke poured out of the windows. She held a candle to her face as she watched the flames consume the building. She did not speak but instead laughed in delight as she watched the building burn down. John Jr. sat in his car and tried to comprehend what had just happened. He shook his head and drove home.
The next day he went to the police station to report the incident. He met with Detective Byrne. Detective Byrne listed to the story but told John Jr. that the old school was perfectly fine and that there was no fire last night. The school was still intact today and there was no sign of the Woman in White.
He returned home to find the Man in Black in his window. The Man in Black stared at John Jr. and smiled. He quickly opened the front door and ran downstairs. As he ran, he could hear the Man in Black laughing, “now you know why I’m here.”
The following morning, John woke up late and rushed to get ready for work. He grabbed his briefcase and keys. He glanced outside and saw the Woman in White standing on his porch. She looked at him with empty eyes and pointed towards the road.
John looked out the window and saw that the road was blocked by a large truck. It was blocking the lane he needed to get to work. He started to panic and reached for his phone. He dialed 911 as he waited for the police to arrive. John then blacked out and found himself infront of the old school with a gas can and lighter in hand while the building was ablaze infront of him.
A few minutes later, the police arrived and placed him under arrest. He was charged with arson and possession of illegal narcotics. He spent 2 years in jail and was released on bail. His case was dismissed due to insufficient evidence.
After his release, he moved to California where he spent the rest of his life. He never spoke of his experiences again and rarely visited Virginia.
On Halloween, 1981, a young boy named Jack Johnson was playing with his dog at the corner of Main Street and Bridge Street. His dog took off and ran across the bridge and towards the mountain. Jack chased his dog all the way up to the top of the mountain and wound up at the knob, but by then it was near midnight. As he approached the peak he saw a fire and people in dark clothes with a woman in a white dress. They were roasting an animal over the fire. Jack approached them, thinking they might know where his dog went. The man in the black suit greeted Jack with a smile and invited him to join them. Jack declined and ran back down the mountain.
Before he reached the bottom, he heard the screams. He looked back up the mountain and saw the woman in white dress falling off the mountaintop. He watched her body fall and land in a small crater on the ground below. Jack ran as fast as he could to get help for her. When he finally reached the base of the mountain he found the police officers waiting for him. They assured him that everything was going to be okay but he wasn’t convinced. They asked him what had happened and he told them everything he had seen. They then took him to the hospital to treat his burns and bruises.
When he awoke the next morning, he found his mother sitting on the edge of his bed. She told him that she had talked to some friends and they informed her about what had happened. While talking to his mother, she mentioned the Woman in White who fell from the mountain. Jack remembered seeing her the previous night and couldn’t believe what his mother was telling him. He begged her to make sure that she didn’t tell anyone else what he had seen.
She promised not to say anything and Jack went back to sleep. That afternoon, while his family was gone, he snuck out of the house and went back to the knob. He sat there all night and watched the sky until he eventually fell asleep. When he woke up he saw the Woman in white standing at the end of the path that led to the knob. She smiled at him and beckoned for him to follow her. He followed her up the path and onto the knob. There she told him that she would give him a gift if he kept quiet about what he saw. He agreed to keep silent and she whispered in his ear and gave him a gold ring as proof.
Jack’s parents returned home on New Year’s Eve and he told them everything he witnessed. They took him to the doctor and found that Jack had suffered mild brain damage due to oxygen deprivation, which was typical for victims of a fire. He was unable to walk or talk properly, and lost much of his memory for the rest of his life.
Due to these events, locals have commonly accepted that no one should travel out on Halloween or other nights in October when it is