FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 22, 2014
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Glenville State College
Public Relations Department
Glenville, WV – A cold case, an unsolved murder, and restless spirits from the past…all of these things sound like they came straight out of a movie and not from Glenville State College. There are countless eyewitness accounts from across the GSC campus. The majority of these ‘experiences’ or ‘sightings’ happened in Clark Hall, Louis Bennett Hall, and the Administration Building. Many say the ghost in these buildings is ‘Sis Linn.’ There have been stories about her haunting the GSC campus since at least the 1970s not only around Halloween each fall but also all year long.
Original Glenville Democrat newspaper from 1919 with news of Sarah Linn's death
Sarah Louisa Linn was born in 1853. There is little known about her life. She was the only graduate of Glenville Normal School in 1877. According to records, she specialized in teacher education. She taught classes in Glenville and Fairmont before marrying I. L. Chrisman in June of 1905 at her home where Clark Hall currently stands. After her short marriage ended, Sarah changed her name back to Linn and ran a boarding house out of her home for female students. In February of 1919, Sarah was found murdered and bludgeoned to death in her home. The assailant or assailants were never apprehended. Some say she was killed by vandals breaking in for her prized wine that she made herself. Many say ‘Sis Linn’ still roams the campus looking for her killer.
Five years after her murder, officials from Glenville Normal School purchased her property, razed the house, and built Verona Maple Hall – a modern women’s dormitory for the time. Many said the dormitory was also haunted. After Verona Maple Hall was demolished years later, those spending time in the neighboring GSC Clark Hall began to experience paranormal activity.
GSC Assistant Professor of Early Education and Director of Field Experiences Connie Stout- O’Dell had an ‘experience’ in Clark Hall. “It was just before the summer session started, and I was in my office on the top mezzanine,” Stout said. She was grading papers when she heard a horrible noise. “It sounded like metal chairs being thrown around and as if people were moving metal desks,” Stout explained. She said that the noise lasted for ten to twelve minutes. “I thought it was the secretary moving things around downstairs,” Stout said. She stopped grading papers and thought for a moment. “It was weird though because the noise sounded like it was coming from downstairs, upstairs, and the space behind the offices.” So she decided to go downstairs to see what was going on. Before she got to mezzanine two, she thought to herself, “What if this is Sis Linn?” Just as she had that thought, the noises stopped and there was complete silence. She left and found the secretary who had been out of the building for over an hour. Stout had been in the building alone.
GSC Associate Professor of Education and Dean of Teacher Education Dr. Kevin Cain was working late one evening alone in Clark Hall. He was in his office on the second floor when something peculiar happened. “I heard metal chains dragging on the floor and then a door closed; the door sounded like a prison door closing,” Cain said. He then took his work home with him and left the building for the evening. “After that, I started taking my work home all the time!” Cain exclaimed.
GSC Director of Residence Life Jerry Burkhammer said that on Halloween night one year, he was standing outside of the former dorms at Louis Bennett Hall with a security officer and saw a couple of students playing with a Ouija board when one of them started yelling. He asked what was going on, and they said they asked the board to whom it was talking. They said the board spelled out ‘Sis Linn,’ and she said that she was in Clark Hall at 12:00. “It was four minutes until midnight,” Burkhammer said, “so we decided to walk up to Clark Hall to see if anything was happening. At the stroke of twelve, a light came on in Clark Hall on the second level. We saw a woman hanging by a noose in the window. The officer and I ran upstairs, and when we got to the door, the light went out. We opened the door, nothing was there, and everything was in order,” Burkhammer said, “It is strange and unexplainable; the clock tower chimes thirteen times on Halloween night at midnight. It does this every year.”
Burkhammer said that when LBH was the men’s dormitory, there were strange occurrences five years in a row. These occurrences happened in room 225 on the first night freshmen stayed in the dorms. A former student said he was awakened during his first night in the room and saw a lady in white at the foot of the bed who spoke to him. Louis Bennett Hall rooms are now used as offices and faculty and staff still report unexplained noises and sightings. Many employees say they often hear someone running back and forth on the fourth floor.
Next door to Louis Bennett Hall is the Harry B. Heflin Administration Building, the building with GSC’s historic clock tower. GSC Campus Service Worker Ellen Minney has had many unexplainable encounters through her years working in the building. “I get anxious every time I am in the basement of AB. I constantly look over my shoulder and work quickly to get out,” said Minney. While emptying trash cans throughout the building, she has heard her keys in the door begin to jingle, but they stopped moving before she got back to them. Lights will also go on and off on occasion. She is always the first and only one in the building during these incidents. Once, she was working and heard a voice whisper, ‘What are you doing here?’ in her ear. She replied, “You know I am here every morning!” A co-worker of Minney’s also reports being pinched by the ghost of Sis Linn.
Minney has also had an encounter with a spirit in Clark Hall. “I was working with my supervisor and another worker waxing floors. When we left the empty building, all of the lights had been turned off and the doors were locked. After we got outside, we turned around to the same building with every light on,” said Minney. Her daughter, Sonya Hartshorn, a 2010 GSC graduate, has had a Clark Hall encounter also. “I was a student worker in the GSC Business Department and had to deliver an assignment to a class when a professor was absent. While waiting on the students in the empty classroom, I saw the blinds start to sway. I assumed it was from the air conditioning. Then, an eerie feeling came over me, and the vertical blinds began to open and close and then move as if someone was running their fingers through them. I recalled my mother’s stories of Sis Linn, and I ran out of the room. I gave the students their assignment in the hall and never went into Clark Hall alone again,” said Hartshorn.
Sis Linn isn’t the only spirit that is known to roam GSC. Pickens Hall has its share of stories as well. Reports claim that in several rooms of Scott Wing in the former student residence hall, you can hear someone playing with marbles and marbles rolling across the ceiling. You can also hear people moving furniture on the floor above, even the top floor. Marlon Henry, GSC Special Assistant to the President, has had a few encounters with the spirit known as ‘Marble Boy.’
One night while on a ghost tour of campus with Hidden Promise Scholars, the group thought they would try and communicate with any spirits via the infamous ‘flashlight test.’ Henry asked if there were spirits present and there was a response of yes. They then proceeded to ask if it was Sis Linn and received no response. The group then asked if it was Marble Boy and got an immediate answer of yes. Henry recalls his first encounter with the ghost child during his time as a GSC student. According to Henry, he was asleep in his room when the TV suddenly turned on to a loud snowy screen. In an attempt to find his TV remote he turned on the bedside lamp and there, in front of his door, stood a small boy. After a few seconds, the figure backed through the door. Henry followed to look in the hallway for the boy, but he was nowhere to be found.
Glenville State College is a beautiful campus with a possible past lurking in the shadows. Even after numerous experiences over the years, most people are not afraid. “Whatever or whomever it is, it is not something that wants to hurt you,” said now retired Instructor of Developmental Mathematics Bill Bonnett, “It’s just something or someone or some people wanting to let their presence be known.”
Click here to watch the ‘Haunting on the Hill’ video.