Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Investigation - Bruce Chapel Church

Investigation Location:
Bruce Chapel

Mason County, WV

February 2012

Historic Information:
Bruce Chapel is a small, historic church located near the Apple Grove/Gallipolis Ferry area, in rural Mason County. The church was built around 1842, and the small adjoining cemetery contains graves dating back to the early 1800s. The Moore Family of the Mai Moore Mansion fame are buried in the cemetery, which is now located on private property.

The chapel itself was the first Episcopalian Church in the area, and was built on land donated by Mr. and Mrs. George Moore. Funding came from a variety of sources, including the Diocese of Virginia, but more importantly, from the Bruce Fund, a fund set up by a Miss Bruce from Halifax, VA. Miss Bruce had family in the area, and was instrumental in the church's completion, thus, it was named Bruce Chapel in her honor.

The chapel was consecrated in 1843 by Bishop Johns, and was used by other area faiths until they could build their own places of worship. By 1879, Bruce Chapel boasted the area's first Sunday School, and by 1938, the back addition was added for use by church and community alike.

This site has been featured on many haunted places listings due to the reports of light anomalies, strange noises, and other paranormal occurrences. 

In tri-state ghost-lore, Bruce Chapel’s haunted history is often tied in directly with the haunted history of the Mai Moore Mansion. The Mai Moore mansion was once the home to Charles Page Thomas Moore, his wife Urilla Kline, and four daughters, Ida, Rebecca, Lauretta Mai (often referred to as May, Mae or Mai), and Elizabeth V. It was located in the Mercer’s Bottom/Apple Grove area of Mason County.

The Mai Moore Mansion was built around the time of, or shortly after the Civil War. It was originally believed to have been a later residence of George Moore who died in 1880 while in residence. George Moore was the uncle and adoptive father of Charles Page Thomas Moore.

Charles, who was born in February of 1831 in Greenbrier County, came to live with his uncle shortly after the death of his mother when he was 14 years of age. His father, Thomas, died when Charles was just an infant. Charles would go on to attend Marshall Academy, and several other institutions of higher learning in his quest at obtaining his law degree. While at Jefferson College in Canonsburg, PA, Charles co-founded the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity in 1852. He was admitted to the bar in 1856, and served with Union forces during the Civil War. After serving in the war, he returned home to practice law. He went on to become a justice of the WV Supreme Court of Appeals, retiring in 1881 to live in Mason County in the Mai Moore Mansion. Charles Page Thomas Moore died on July 7, 1904. He is buried in Bruce Chapel Cemetery.

After the death of Charles P.T. Moore, the mansion remained in possession of the Moore family.  It was located near a small Adena Indian mound, named the Mai Moore Mound after Charles' daughter, Lauretta Mai. Mai, as she preferred to be called, remained in the home after his death, and the mansion thus became known as the Mai Moore Mansion. It was consumed by fire in 1959. Vandals soon stole or damaged what was left, and by 1968 another fire had completely gutted the structure, leaving nothing but ruins. Lauretta Mai, born on January 19, 1873, never married. She passed away on March 12, 1965 and is also buried in Bruce Chapel Cemetery, along with her mother, and two sisters who also never married. 

In August of 2006, Bruce Chapel was the site of one HPIR's earliest investigations. At that time, we were a brand new group and we were looking for some local reported haunted sites to investigate. Almost hidden away and nestled upon a hillside overlooking beautiful farmland, we found Bruce Chapel and Cemetery based on Internet searches for haunted locations in our region. During an investigation on the grounds surrounding the Chapel, HPIR obtained one of it's first and finest EVP's. Our group has not returned to this site since the late fall of 2006. Last fall we were contacted by the new owner, who also happens to be a descendant of some of the Church founders, invited us to return to investigate the chapel.

The entire group was thrilled for this investigation opportunity despite the fact that we knew the weather was going to be snowy and very cold, as the Chapel has no heat. We all bundled up and prepared ourselves for a frigid night of spirit seeking. We found out early on that there were a few little critters running around in the Chapel, the Chapel has sat empty for several years so this was no surprise. Throughout the night we heard a number of noises, most of which was contributed to the mice however a few unexplained thumps were heard. At one point, we heard what we believed was a few footsteps followed by a crackling pew, as if someone was sitting down to join us. Some of the team members sang hymns and other songs that would have been sang in Church in the 1800's. We were given a tip by the Mason County Paranormal group that was based on a sensitive's impressions (who investigated the Chapel with them), that the spirit of a young slave woman would stand outside the church window to listen to the singing and music. We enjoyed our time spend inside this beautiful old Chapel, although we didn't have many personal experiences to report, the cold night we endured to take on this investigation was totally worth it.

We have an unusual photo (posted below) from our investigation at Bruce Chapel. This was taken as we were breaking down our equipment. Notice the investigator to the left, there is an oddity in the photograph just below her head. Three of our best de-bunkers have analyzed the photo, and we can’t determine what it is exactly. There was nobody standing next to her, we can tell that it is not her shadow, and it is not quite consistent with motion blur (which can be seen with the cord). So at this point we can’t say this for certain is something paranormal, however we are not positive what exactly it is. If we return to Bruce Chapel in the future we will attempt to re-create it.

We have also posted this photo on our Facebook page for public input, you will find many comments on the photo and many opinions of what people believe they see in this photograph. There is also additional de-bunking info and efforts in those comments. As of present time, this photographic anomaly has yet to be verified one way or the other.  





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