The 29th Street area in Wheeling was at one time nicknamed Germantown due to its high number of people with Germanic descent. My family is from this area. All the way from the Ohio River out the pike, one can walk down 29th Street and hear stories of hauntings in almost every other house.
One such house is my Aunt’s house. This was the original family house that my Grandfather purchased. It is not on 29th street but runs parallel to it just one block south. The first thing one notices about the house is that it is the only one that sits back off the street, therefore shrouded in shadow by the tall houses on either side of it. A long uneven brick walkway takes you to the house. As you walk along it, the feeling of being unwelcome is almost overpowering. Once you are inside the house be aware that you are being watched and scrutinized with every step you take.
There were several children in my Aunt’s family. Some lived out long lives, others died “prematurely.” She used to say that the family always came back to the house.
My Aunt used to tell me of times past and of old customs. She told me that it was proper to have the deceased laid out in the living room instead of a funeral home. She told me that at one time it was legal to bury the deceased in your own yard. She also told me that the dead always return.
My Uncle JR was the first born of my Aunt’s siblings. As a child his favorite toy was a red lantern. He fell down the narrow steps. He died a few days later. JR would come back to visit every night on the anniversary of his death. One would hear a strange tapping on the window at the bottom of the stairs then a red lantern would glow softly. I did not believe it, I was openly skeptical. My Aunt bade me to visit on the certain night. I did. My Aunt, my father and I sat in the kitchen. They had their coffee and I had some soda. After a while, we heard the faint tapping. My Aunt took me into the room, and there it was before my own eyes, a red lantern, glowing crimson and swinging ever so gently, but evenly back and forth. The three of us stood there watching it for a few moments, then my Aunt said, “Welcome home Jr. Thanks for visiting. Come again next year. Enjoy your rest.” Then it faded.
Not long after we were visiting once again. My parents and my aunt sat in the kitchen and I was sitting in the living room watching the television. After a while, I got up and went to chat with everyone else. I mentioned that I like my aunt’s new rocking chair. She told me she did not have a rocking chair. I described it. She and my father looked at each other. She then looked at the calendar and just nodded. I went back into the living room, but the rocker was gone. On the way home, my dad explained that that was my grandmother’s chair and that day was the anniversary of her death. Strangely, these two things did not bother me. They freaked me out, but did not frighten me.
The next sighting did. I was visiting and I needed to use the restroom, which is upstairs. I started up the very same stairs where JR fell. I stopped, look up, and there before me stood the outline of a man. Within it, or maybe I should say through it, everything was distorted. (It reminds me of the movie Predator when it was invisible) This was not Jr. I never met the man, but I could tell. I could feel the anger. I was unwelcome. The upstairs always gave me the creeps, but after this encounter I never stepped foot in the stairwell again. I told my brother about the encounter and he said that he had the exact same thing happen to him and that is why he never went back to the house.
There are more stories of objects that appear in the house and things that have moved. However, they are similar in tale, books, paintings, mirrors…
There was another visit that I find important. My oldest brother bought a house just two doors away from my Aunt. His grandsons live with him. Once my brother heard his grandson playing and talking to some guy in his bedroom. My brother asked whom he was talking to. The young boy pointed to a picture hanging on the wall and it was my father. My stepsister did not believe it at first, and then she found her bra in the freezer. That sounds like something my Dad would have done when he was alive. When did this happen? Three years to the day after my Dad passed away.
This is one more story that tops them all, but it is still very personal and maybe one day I will reveal it. The thought of it still raises the hairs on my arms and neck and makes me reach for a crucifix.
Of all the original siblings in the house only four are still living. My Aunt is now in a rest home. The house sits there, empty, waiting…