Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

October 28, 2013

Spirits come alive for 6th Bramwell-WE CAN Ghost Walk

By BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BRAMWELL — The spirits were out in full force Saturday night as the town of Bramwell joined forces with volunteers and staff of the West Virginia Children’s Home Society’s WE CAN (Working to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect) program for the 6th annual Bramwell Ghost Walk.

“The spirits are just a little agitated tonight, so maybe they will join you for your walk tonight,” Bramwell Mayor Louise Stoker said as she gathered a group of visitors together at the Bramwell Train Depot, to send them out on their fanciful journey back in time.

Visitors from as far away as San Diego, Calif., the Carolinas and from both Virginias enjoyed the walk through the haunts of the town that served as a bedroom community for the millionaire coal barons who developed the southern West Virginia coalfields starting in 1884 with the opening of the Mill Creek Mine in nearby Coopers.

“We’re just here to take the tour and observe,” Jack Arkhain, a member of the West Virginia Division of Ghost Busters said. “There are only three of us here tonight and one of our members works for the Children’s Home Society in Charleston. We support charitable organizations and do things for children.” Arkhain was wearing a uniform patterned after the uniforms worn by the actors in the two “Ghostbusters” movies.

Fortunately for the visitors, the spirits along the tour path did not appear to mind the presence of the uniformed Ghostbusters. The spirit of Col. John Davis Newitt — who bears a striking resemblance to local attorney John Feuchtenberger — provided a brief history of the town. The great pianist, Leo “Fancy” Peraldo, who performed at the old Bramwell Theater, displayed a style similar to the modern day performer, Dan Turner, while the fastidious Mrs. English bore a striking resemblance to Angela Fedele.

On this night, a gypsy fortune teller, who was almost a mirror image of Kelly Murphy Eller, a member of the Bramwell town council, thrilled people of all ages with her palm reading talents. Even a pair of mismatched historic figures, Captain Isaiah A. Welch and a German Air Force pilot from World War I, Otto Comp, visited with the guests as they took the tour. Strangely enough, Welch looks very much like Kevin Spicer, and Otto Comp had an appearance similar to either a young Clark Gable or a present day Kes Blackwell.

“I think people had a great time again this year,” Joanne Boileau, regional director of the West Virginia Children’s Home Society said. “The music was great prior to the start of the walk, and it seemed as though each of the groups on the walk had a good mix of people. The group with me appeared to be surprised by ‘scream and rock at the bridge,’ but I think everyone had a great time.”

Boileau said that 207 guests participated in this year’s ghost walk with 15 guides. At least another 25-35 people participated as volunteer “spirits” musicians or hosts along the way.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com