Real Haunted Houses

Real Haunted House

The Greenbrier Ghost

Greenbrier, West Virginia
By Shannon Reinbold-Gee

Usually when people think of ghosts, they imagine a disturbing presence that harasses and makes the lives of the living more difficult. But, in the case of the Greenbrier Ghost of the late 1800s, the ghost helped solve a West Virginia murder—the very murder that created the ghost.

Born in the early 1870s, Elva Zona Heaster married Erasmus Stribbling Trout Shue on October 26, 1896. Erasmus (sometimes called Edward) was from out of town, coming to Greenbrier to start a new life as the blacksmith. Zona (as she was called) married the near stranger very quickly in her mother’s opinion, and so the marriage was opposed but not halted.

On January 23, 1897 Erasmus sent Andy Jones (an 11-year-old African American) to the house, supposedly to ask Zona if she needed anything from the store. Jones found her body and ran home to tell his mother. The local doctor, and coroner, arrived within an hour to find the body had been carried upstairs by the apparently grief-stricken husband, Erasmus. Erasmus had already dressed Zona in her “Sunday best”—a dress with a conveniently high and stiff collar tied with a large bow. A veil covered her face and throughout the rudimentary examination Erasmus cradled his wife’s head and upper body and sobbed.

Convinced of the husband’s grief, the coroner announced the death was related to childbirth (as he had been treating Zona for symptoms we can only now presume were related to such a state a few weeks earlier).

At Zona’s wake, people observed Erasmus acting oddly. He was nearly frantic with trying to keep her “comfortable”—wedging her head between a pillow and fabric and maintaining that the large scarf now tied around her neck was her favorite. He kept people back from the body.

Zona’s mother removed the sheet from inside the coffin and tried to return it to Erasmus, but he wanted none of it. Thinking it smelled oddly, Heaster washed it. Oddly, the water turned red then clear. The sheet developed a pink stain. Heaster took it as proof that her daughter had met a foul end. A God-fearing woman, Heaster prayed Zona would return from the grave long enough to tell the truth of what happened to her so that she could find eternal rest.

Zona did cross back over, haunting her mother’s dreams for four nights as she explained the abuse she’d suffered at her husband’s hands and how—in a sudden fit over not having dinner ready for him—Erasmus had broken her neck. In the dream Zona’s ghost turned her head all the way around to illustrate.

Heaster approached the prosecuting attorney and in short order Erasmus was arrested. Her ghostly story was not the only thing to prod him to action, as the rumors had continued to fly about Erasmus’ odd actions.

In jail, Erasmus kept his spirits high, even proclaiming that he would like to have seven wives, and since Zona had been number three and he was only 35, he felt it was still an achievable goal. But then the truth began to come spilling out. Zona’s body had been exhumed and they discovered she had a crushed windpipe and broken neck. The cause of death became “strangulation.” Erasmus’ life before coming to Greenbriar was looked into. His first wife was abused and finally forced into divorcing him. His second wife died under mysterious circumstances.

Erasmus seemed puzzled that he was being charged with murder—hadn’t anyone wondered about young Andy Jones? Was he not suspect?

Although the case against Erasmus was mainly circumstantial, he was convicted and nearly lynched before being moved to the state penitentiary where he died. The ghost story Heaster was prepared to tell in court was ruled inadmissible, but revisited multiple times by the defense in a hope she would be viewed as unstable and a worthless character witness. Zona’s spirit seems to be at peace, never having been spotted since the arrest of her husband.

The house where Zona died still stands and is a private home.

32 comments on this haunted house. Share your story »

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Jason says:

November 25, 2008, 4:30 am

Check out our website at
http://www.paranormalknowledge.com

We contribute to and support the Save the Children Foundation! Read to support!

debbie says:

December 28, 2008, 7:19 pm

damn. what a story. wish that all were solved like this.

Erin A. says:

February 8, 2009, 7:28 pm

This is one of the most phony storyies I have ever heard. I can not belive anyione would really fall for that. hahahaha sorry guys but I really think that is a bunch of ballony.

haklkly says:

February 25, 2009, 10:00 am

RUBISHHHHHHHHH

Anna says:

March 4, 2009, 2:02 pm

the people that live there in that house do they have unexplained things happening???

emily says:

March 7, 2009, 4:45 pm

are this s stories

Nessa says:

April 21, 2009, 7:46 pm

wooowwww these stories are scary!

kmjskejs says:

May 1, 2009, 10:47 pm

i think, mother was having an affair with the husband and she and he murdured the poor woman so they could be together and then he didn’t keep up with his end of the deal. so she framed him by having “dreams” from her daughter. im joking i don’t know what happened

bbk says:

May 23, 2009, 12:10 am

The story is actually true – or at least the trial and the body being exhumed as a result of Zona’s ghost providing evidence to her mother. I grew up in the area where this happened and I know relatives on both sides of the family. Still today the story is believed to be true – according to the story Zona’s mother was never invited to Zona’s home after she married. Yet on trial she provided vivid details of her daughters home, where the body was found and where the nightgown she had on when killed was hidden in the dresser and the soiled sheets with blood. Zona’s mother indicated that the information was told to her by her dead daughter.

Ivonne P says:

June 9, 2009, 1:53 pm

cool story!

Ivonne P says:

June 10, 2009, 1:09 pm

cool story! jkjk well it seems cool that she came back 2 tell what happened 2 her and that they sentenced that a-hole of a husband

Dena Is Beat says:

June 12, 2009, 4:59 pm

I didnt feel likeeeee readingg theeeeeeee rest so… blaaah :)

mary alkire says:

July 22, 2009, 12:35 pm

I actually stayed in that house with a couple of friends.The next morning one of my friends was found hanging.We called our parents and told them to come and get us.When my mom came something flew out of the window of that house and broke her Dodge Chargers back window.We never went back to that house ever again.

Kat says:

July 25, 2009, 7:16 pm

This story is not rubbish…it is very real and there are still individuals alive who were very young when this took place. I personally know a very old individual who’s mother was told the true story of the “ghost” by a black woman who lived on what was then known as “Negro Mountain”. A black woman who lived on Negro mountain is the one who actually dressed Zona Shue for her wake and Told Mrs. Heaster (Zona’s mother) that her daughters neck had actually been broken , but that, because in those days, blacks would not have been believd and the black woman suggested to Mrs. Heaster (Zona’s mother) to create the story of her daughter’s ghost appearing to her and telling what had happened and to not stray from it. And the rest you know

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August 26, 2009, 11:11 am

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samantha and harry says:

October 10, 2009, 5:38 pm

I think that this story was rubish. I mean everyone knows that haunted housess are balony. So this is all just fake. That is just my opinion though I mean that I bet there are some people that think that haunted houses are real. Well bye bye bye

Brianna says:

October 18, 2009, 11:18 am

Wow!I was born in Greenbrier,but I have never heard that story before.I think it would be cool to go there if aloud so I could make sure that she’s not still there.

some guy says:

November 26, 2009, 9:11 pm

I don’t get it

Brad says:

December 10, 2009, 5:00 pm

My father owned the house for about 15 years but died a couple of years ago and now I take care of it. The house was refurbished and updated and now is a lovely home. It sets down in a valley with a wonderful view of the mountains surrounding it. Just behind it on a hill is an old grave yard. Sadly there is no fence around it and cows in the field have knocked down and broken some of the head stones. In the main room there is a trap door in the floor where poeple used to hide when there were indian raids. I’ve never opened it because it looks like it has been sealed but I’m thinking about it. I have stayed in the house several times and never seen or heard a ghost but my father told me that he had been outside in the yard and seen shadowy figures moving around inside. Seeing is believing I guess.

a person says:

January 24, 2010, 5:11 pm

You Shouldn’t judge people of what they wrote. I believe in alot of these things and even you dont know if its true or not so just Shutup about it and reads the stories.

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