Protective Uncle

Protective Uncle
Dogwood Trees / Stock Photo

I grew up in Kenova, West Virginia, in a house that has been in my family for years. Before I tell you the rest of the story, I must tell you that I lived there all through my childhood and never saw anything. My sister, on the other hand, says she did. But that is a different story. Anyhow, I never saw anything but I admit that I did have strange feelings at times. But that was all.

There is a big, dogwood tree in the front yard and the house itself sits up on a hill, but it isn’t spooky looking or anything. My dad lived there, as a child, and had three brothers and a sister, all younger than him. When my dad was sixteen, the house caught fire and burned his little brother and sister up inside it. Danny was four and Gail was three. My grandmother rebuilt the house but just couldn’t bear to live there. She moved but still kept the house. At first, she didn’t do anything with it. But she eventually remarried and her husband talked her into renting it out.

In 1970, my dad’s brother David moved in with his wife and two small kids. They had lived there for a few months when my uncle David was killed while working on his car. The transmission fell out of the car unto his chest, killing him instantly. After that, my other uncle Gene moved in. Unfortunately, he died there, too. He was cleaning his gun and it went off, hitting him in the chest. He died before he got to the hospital. My grandmother deeded it to my dad in 1976 and he has lived there ever since.

Now comes the eerie part. One particular night, when we were gone on vacation, our neighbor had worked the late shift and was heading home around 2 AM. He said he came by the house and happened to look up as he passed and saw a man standing under the big dogwood tree. Knowing we were gone that week he decided to stop and look around. He said the guy just stood there looking at him. The guy had on a pair of jeans and a white t-shirt with his cigarettes rolled up in the right sleeve of his shirt.

When our neighbor tried to talk to him, the man didn’t answer. He told the guy to leave or he was calling the cops. The man still just stood there. Our neighbor repeated himself several times and finally turned to walk back to his car. When he got to his car he turned around and the guy wasn’t under tree anymore. He was looking out the window inside of the house. Our neighbor called the police and they came and looked around. Everything was locked tight. He also called my grandmother, who had a key, and she came to let the officers in to look around, but nothing was disturbed.

When we came home, the neighbor came over to tell my dad what happened. He saw a picture hanging on the wall and asked my dad who it was. My dad said that it was his brother Gene. Our neighbor said that was the man he saw. My dad turned white and said that it couldn’t have been because his brother had died several years earlier.

Another time, when I was little, our house caught fire again. It wasn’t a big fire, just started in a fuse box and was moving through the rafters of the house. It was put out before too much damage was caused. Not too strange, I know, but what was strange was the fact that no one knows, and still don’t know, who called the fire department that night. No one has ever come forward, to this day, to admit they called. We later found out that the fire department had trouble finding the house. This was in the country, back then there were no numbers on houses like there is today. The fireman who was driving the truck saw a man in a white t-shirt under that same dogwood tree, motioning them to come this way. When he got out of the truck, the man was gone. The fireman then saw the smoke, so he knew for sure it was the right house. They woke us up, we got out, and they put out the fire. Since then, there have been a number of people tell us that, late at night, you can come by the house and see the man in the white t-shirt under the Dogwood tree.


I talked to my grandma about my uncle Gene and everything that went on in the house before. Daddy won’t talk about any of this. He refuses to believe that his brother is still there. But anyway, she said that when the first fire happened, Gene was 14 and had gotten in with the wrong crowd of kids and was getting into a lot of trouble. He hadn’t been to school in two or three weeks when a teacher sent a note home telling my grandparents this. When Gene came home, my granddad asked him about it. Gene denied it and granddad didn’t believe him, of course. So, both of them being hot-headed, they got into a huge fight in the kitchen, where there was a wood burning stove. They knocked the stove pipe down and that’s what started the fire that killed Danny and Gail.

She said it all happened so fast, that she remembered granddad saying that he was going to get Danny and Gail out of the house where they were napping. But later, granddad said he thought grandma had gotten them out. They realized the kids were still inside and that it was too late to get them out, so uncle Gene blamed himself for the deaths of his brother and sister. My grandma blamed my granddad and that’s why they divorced.

Then uncle Gene was supposed to have helped David work on his car the day he was killed, but got sidetracked and never showed up to help. Gene believed that if he had been there to help David, he would not have died. So, he also blamed himself for uncle David’s death.

I think that’s why he watches over that house, making sure that his only living brother doesn’t fall victim to any accidents that happen on the property or in that house. That’s just my theory, though. My grandma, however, thinks he is there because it was his childhood home.

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