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Haunted Romney

Two years ago, I relocated to the idyllic little town of Romney, WV. Nestled in the Appalachian mountains, the natural beauty is astounding. Romney also happens to be the oldest town in the state of West Virginia, formerly Virginia. As such, the town is chock full of fascinating history!

However, imagine my disbelief upon struggling to locate haunted locations. A spooky chick in a historic town that isn’t haunted. Gasp! But here I am two years later, and as the welcoming and friendly townsfolk have gotten to know me, they have graciously shared some of the more supernatural aspects of this town. Not only that but some of the more unbelievable stories as well.

I’ve previously written about the giants that once roamed these parts. And I’ve shared stories of Bigfoot from across the county. Heck, I’ve even written about the true story behind the haunting of the Old Hampshire County Jail! Now I’m thrilled to share some of the stories and lore about other places that I have learned. I’m talking about ghost stories y’all!

The Boxwood

The Boxwood is why we moved here. A big ‘ole colonial home dating to 1793 and priced to sell was quite the incentive! Naturally, we asked if the home is haunted, and of course, it is. SOLD! It was love at first sight. The original part of the home was built in 1793, and the “newer” portion was added in 1860.

Through the years, it has been a log cabin, farm, orchard, civil war hospital/doctor’s office, law offices, and a tourist home, to name a few. Local legend relates that the town, a strategic location between the north and the south, changed hands in my own front yard over fifty times! Likely, it only happened twelve times, but we Southerners do like a good story.

One thing that is a fact is that troops were billeted all around my home. Depending on who had control, it was variously the Union army or the Confederates. History and ghosts are a dream come true! Anyhow, primarily in the spring, it is common to view men in blue standing in my yard. Upon closer look, they disappear. Add those sightings to the shadow figures and whispers we hear from time to time, and we know that the ghostly residents are content to remain.

The Home Built by Hessians

The Kerns’ House was also built in the late 1700s. Captive soldiers from Germany, called Hessians, were reportedly ordered to build the house. Hessians came over to fight in the Revolutionary War for the British. After the war, many remained in the Colonies and settled down here.

Naturally, this home stood during the Civil War years as well. As the war progressed, Romney was evacuated. Through the winter, homes were commandeered by military officials who used the downstairs of homes as stables for their horses and living quarters upstairs. One can imagine how such a lifestyle could create a haunted environment.

Today the home is the base for the local American Legion, which purchased the property in 1945. According to witnesses, footsteps can be heard upstairs when the area is empty of living people. Further, shadow figures have been witnessed walking through the canteen area. Some employees have been too frightened to close alone.

The Governor’s House

Built around 1917 for then West Virginia governor John J Cornwell. He was governor from 1917-1921 and lived in this large three-story home until his death in 1953. His wife passed away five years later in Romney at the age of 90. With such a large home, one can only imagine the staff required to run such a place!

Today the Cornwell home is something quite different. It is now a funeral home. How interesting is that? But it isn’t the spirits of those that pass through their doors that haunt the place. If you are lucky, you may catch a glimpse of the phantom woman standing on the porch. She has also been seen looking out an upstairs window. Legend has it that she worked for the Cornwell family and was very dedicated to them. Her spirit remains as a guardian of the home and family she cared for.

They Moved The Headstones But Not The Bodies!

Romney boasts not one but two lost cemeteries. The first one is the old Presbyterian church. The church was razed years ago, but the graveyard remained. That is until the town erected a new Fire Hall. The headstones were removed, but the bodies still rest beneath the new Fire Hall. As of yet, I’ve not heard of any haunting there, yet it doesn’t mean there isn’t.

The second cemetery was an African American cemetery. It is unclear what ever became of it, the bodies or the headstones. Today it is still a mystery exactly where it was even located. However, the general vicinity that historical records indicate was the location is now a neighborhood.

Romney is a lovely little town. Time marches on, and the landscape changes. Some places and names are completely forgotten. But those who came before us lived their lives here and, in some form, left their mark. Let us not forget them. If you see a phantom wanderer, give them a friendly wave and let them know their lives mattered and they have not been forgotten.

Photo Credits

Brady, Dale. "The Kerns House." Clio: Your Guide to History. January 24, 2020. Accessed July 12, 2023.

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