Sunday, February 11, 2018

Investigation - Whipple Company Store

Investigation Location:

Whipple Company Store

Scarboro, WV

May 2012


Information:

Information provided by Theresa: Last February, I contacted the owners of the Whipple Company Store in Fayette County, WV about setting up a possible investigation of the 100+ year old coal company store. I cannot pinpoint just how or when I became aware of this structure, but I've had in the back of my mind for over a year, hoping to find more information on the alleged haunting. The website mentioned that they held a haunted history tour each fall, but details were scant about just exactly WHAT those tales involved. There also wasn't a lot of information online about actual investigations that took place there...

I soon found out why! Despite multiple investigation requests a month, in order to preserve the integrity of the location as a historic landmark (and not simply a haunted fun house) no more than four teams are allowed in per year. Fortunately, HPIR's strong commitment to and reverence of historic preservation landed us the opportunity to be one of the few lucky enough to investigate the location in an official capacity.

There is no possible way that I could do the history of this location justice within the confines of a simple blog post, but I would like to briefly go over some of the major points of interest. The company store was built between 1890 and 1893 by the P.M. Snyder Construction Co. for Justus Collins. Collins, who ran several mines, built four identical stores, but the store at Whipple is the only one standing today.

During its tenure as a coal company store, the building was the life blood of the community. All shopping was done at the store, through the use of company scrip, and most of the socializing occurred there as well. Like most other company stores, this one contained a doctor's office, a post office, and even an upstairs ballroom for the prominent company owners and their families. What should have been a location of much happiness and community unity, unfortunately also had a prominent dark side.. In addition to the many miners who lost their lives in the mines, including the 16 taken in the 1907 explosion, there are plenty of deaths associated directly with the company store property itself, some by illness and some by more violent means.

The Whipple mine closed in the mid-1950s and a year later, the building was bought and ran as a trading post by a lady named Madge. During Madge's time at the building is when the ghost stories began to circulate. In fact, Madge was so spooked by sounds of children in the upstairs ballroom, that the entire floor was shut off until after her death in 1988. By 1992, a man from Charleston took ownership of the building, turning it into a restaurant and community theater. Unfortunately, restoration efforts would prove to be too much for him, and he sought a buyer for the aging former company store.

Luckily, a wonderful couple took ownership of the building, turning it into a hands-on museum experience. Joy and Chuck have worked tirelessly in order to preserve the wonderful history of this location. They ensure that the stories of those associated with the company store are not lost to history. There IS happiness associated with this building...but there is also a darker side of history that cannot be forgotten. This darker side of the museum's history is discussed in detail during the haunted history tours, but not for pure entertainment value. Rather, these tales are shared as a way to remember those who have passed and to help us learn and understand our own history, lest we be doomed to repeat it.

There is much more about the history of this location that we've chosen not to disclose online, so we STRONGLY encourage interested parties to visit the museum and take a tour.  



 
Overview:

Our trip to the Whipple Company Store started off with a small sightseeing tour of several of the small surrounding former coal towns. We visited the town of Thurmond, stopped at the former Scarboro Company Store, and paid a visit to the local cemetery and old Chapel before the investigation got underway.

We got an initial small tour of the museum before we setup our equipment but it was not long before we were setup; the Whipple Company Store is located at a very busy intersection. Traffic noise was almost constant and due to the shape of the building and its acoustics, the traffic sounds really carried. A common report of the building is seeing shadows, but with so much traffic passing by shadows seem inevitable.

Once we were settled in and fairly acquainted with the noises and lights from the road a number of our team members began having some small personal experiences. These personal experiences were scattered among the members and throughout the evening. Our investigators made notes on paper of the things they were hearing, seeing, smelling and feeling and most experiences were not shared with anyone else until the end of the investigation. Common experiences were seeing shadows and several investigators felt as though something had lightly touched them. The experiences escalated toward the end of the evening with several team members feeling extreme discomfort in one particular section of the building. One investigator was so shaken that she became quite emotional from her encounter.

This investigation was very emotional at times, other times it was comfortable and quiet. I have to rate this as one of our top 10 investigations, but I won’t give out every little detail because of such personal connections with the whole coal mining industry. I think those of us who had ancestors who had to live in coal camps really got a sense of just how overwhelming it was. This was one of the most incredible places we have ever been, the history is amazing and like with many things even a great place like this can have a dark past.  
Investigation Results:
 

 

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