Please contact E. B. Davis at for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for July: (7/6) Jennifer J. Chow (7/13) Meri Allen/Shari Randall (Book 1--Ice Cream Shop Mystery), (7/20) Susan Van Kirk, (7/27) Meri Allen/Shari Randall (Book 2--Ice Cream Shop Mystery).

Thursday, May 19, 2016


Cathi Weber and Theresa Argie
Recently my local chapter of Sisters in Crime had Cathi Weber and Theresa Argie, known as the Haunted Housewives in to talk to us of their experiences with the paranormal. They had everyone there that evening absolutely fascinated and for some spooked.

Cathi Weber is the author of Haunted Willoughby Ohio, and is the creator and owner of the Willoughby Ghost Walk, a guided tour of historic haunted sites in Willoughby. She is a member of several historical and heritage sites in the town, and also the founder of the Willoughby Area Paranormal Education and Research Society. Cathi has investigated many haunted locations in and around Lake County, Ohio, and conducts public paranormal investigations, ghost hunting tours, lectures and classes on the paranormal.
Theresa Argie is the co-author with Eric Olsen of America’s Most Haunted: The secrets of famous paranormal places. She is the other half of The Haunted Housewives, and is a seasoned storyteller, parahistorian, researcher, and ghost hunter who has finally found a way to make being “the weird one” work to her advantage. She has traveled all over the country in search of ghosts, seeking above all to give a voice to the dead and let their stories be told.  Theresa and Cathi have met some of the most amazing and influential people in the paranormal community along with a wonderful menagerie of everyday folk who’ve had an unforgettable encounter with the extraordinary. Theresa firmly believes that if we don’t embrace our past, we have no future. The dead speak. It is in our best interest to listen.

I have barely browsed through their books so far because I’ve been busy, but the few stories I’ve read left me fascinated. The story of Sophie, The Girl in Blue, in Haunted Willoughby, Ohio, is about a young girl who got off a bus in December 23, 1933. She was directed to a woman who took in boarders. She spent the night there, and the next morning at breakfast, she asked directions to the nearest bus station to buy a ticket and a church. She left in a blue coat, and returned an hour later, went to her room, and came back downstairs with her things. She wished Mrs. Judd a Merry Christmas and left. She passed by a cemetery and then unseen stepped into a copse of maple trees. On the other side were railroad tracks, and barreling down the track was a train, she dropped her things and ran towards the tracks. The engineer barely caught a glimpse of blue from her coat. No identification of the girl was found in her belongings and from her death came the Legend of the Girl in Blue. The local funeral director took it upon himself to give her a proper funeral and a grave site was donated in the center or the cemetery and funds were raised to put in a beautiful gravestone.  She wasn’t identified until 1993 when her real name was added to the tombstone. Visitors to the grave site often sense her presence there, and there are documented photos of strange orbs there as well as one with a blue mist. Recordings of a mystifying voice, distinctly feminine, have been recorded by her grave.
In the book America’s Most Haunted, Theresa writes about “The Willoughby Coal and Garden Center that’s not your typical haunt – it’s a fully operational coal company and hardware store. It’s a place only the locals know about.  Originally there were other structures and businesses there, including a train depot, a flour mill, a cheese factory and numerous inns and lodges such as the Zebra Stagecoach house.

In 1893, the current building was built for use as a flour mill. The mill was successful until automation killed it, and a coal company took over in 1912. In the 1930s, Henry Windus and William “Don” Norris, ambitious employees of the company bought the business.  Eventually, they decided to remodel the third floor of Willoughby Coal in 1947. Don Norris kept a watchful eye on the progress, taking notes and making recommendations to the construction crew. On the morning of April 2, Norris, who lived nearby, kissed his wife good-bye and headed off for work early at 7:10 a.m.

When the shop foreman arrived at 7:40 a.m. he was greeted by a gruesome sight. A man’s mangled body lay face down at the front entrance in a pool of blood. The entire left side of his head was bashed in, his face an unrecognizable mess. His outstretched arms were broken at the wrists. If it were not for his car parked nearby and the wallet in his pocket, the identity of the dead man would have been a mystery. His wallet held over $400.00 and the keys to his brand new car were in the ignition, so it wasn’t robbery. Then they thought for some strange reason Norris had climbed the coal uploader on the side of the building to go up to the third floor, fallen, and somehow crawled to the front of the building. That idea was dismissed when investigators said there was no way he could have crawled that far.  There were thoughts he had climbed up to the third floor rafters to check on the previous day’s work and somehow fell out of a circular window space approximately three feet in diameter just under the crest of the roof, that maybe he’d caught his foot on a nail and plunged through and plummeted three stories to his death. The funeral home found over a cup of coal dust in his clothing – clothing that had been freshly laundered when he put it on that morning.  There was a clause in the contract between the partners that if one died, the other would get the business, thus nothing was provided for the widow or the family of the deceased Norris. Maude Norris took in boarders and laundry to make ends meet.
This is from Googling ghosts.

In the fall of 2011, Cathi Weber led a small group on her usual Willoughby Ghost Walk rounds. When they arrived at Willoughby Coal, Cathi told the ghostly tales and haunted happening surrounding the building, including the story of Don Norris, which she had researched extensively for her book. When she got to the details of his death, a hand went up, and a young man introduced himself as the grandson of Don Norris. He said the official cause of death was incorrect because he had been murdered. He had done much research and according to him, Norris’s partner, Henry Windus had wanted the business, the whole business. He had tried to buy his partner’s half, but Don Norris had not been interested in selling. He does make him seem the obvious murderer.
Another picture from Googling ghosts.

Not only does Don Norris’s spirit haunt the place, but the ghost of Zip, an older gentleman who was fond of drink. He was given permission to live in the building nights before dying of a massive heart attack while prepping a load of coal for delivery. Rumor has it he had hidden something of value in the building, and apparently he’s still guarding it because his apparition has frequently been seen on the first, second and third floors of the building, but one only gets brief glimpses of him, even though his footsteps echo off the brick walls, fading into silence once the source has been tracked

The stories above have been abbreviated as much as possible from the stories in the books. I plan to finish both books, and also plan on taking one of those ghost walks in Willoughby, Ohio sometime this summer or fall.
Amanda with the flowers and Sinc bag Kim Hammond gave her.
I have to add that in addition to the visit from the Haunted Housewives, we also celebrated our member Amanda Flower for winning an Agatha for her young adult book Andi Unexpected

Another ghostly figure to spook you.
Have you ever experienced something that can’t be explained?

Have you ever gone on a ghost walk?


Margaret S. Hamilton said...

I had a ghostly experience at the Myrtles, the "most haunted" of the Louisiana plantations. A photo I snapped of the parlor windows on the gallery revealed ghostly figures dancing.

Gloria Alden said...

Margaret, that is so cool. I got glimpses of my ghost out of the corner of my eye when I moved into the old house my son had gutted, rewired and put up new walls, but my daughter actually heard him talking once and saw his shape at the bottom of the steps. He's gone now, but I was never afraid of him while he was there.

Jim Jackson said...

I have taken ghost walks, but never saw or otherwise experienced any ghost-like behavior. There is a well-known ghost tour in Savannah. I was leaving choir practice one night when the ghost tour trolley went by, the driver giving his spiel. A bicyclist was passing the trolley and yelled, “BOO!” The passengers, as one, gave forth a tremendous scream. The bicyclist was gone by the time the passengers figured out what had happened.

Gloria Alden said...

Jim, that's so funny. I think the passengers must have been under the spell of the driver. I have viewed the faded sepia picture of a family from the 1800's probably that showed up on a sign my daughter's then boyfriend took of her as she was goofing off one night pretending to disobey the warning sign that said not to go over the low fence at the top of a high cliff above the Pacific Ocean. The sign had no picture on it that they could see, but when she downloaded the pictures to her computer and enlarged them, the picture of the family was quite clear. I have seen the picture and the actual sign which had no picture on it. Some weeks later they went back again one night, and took more pictures. When they were developed it was a different family on the sign. Today the camera is mine and I've never taken any pictures with anything like that showing up. She still has those weird pictures on her computer.

E. B. Davis said...

Leesburg, VA has a ghost walk on Halloween I participated in one year. In the backyard of one house, bones were found. The police investigated, but found no complete bodies. A historian found the answer. A doctor lived there during the Civil War. Without antibiotics, often limbs were severed. The bones were from all the amputations!

Gloria Alden said...

Elaine, it's nice to have a logical answer to something like that. We have an annual ghost walk for several weekends in October in Warren, Ohio which is near me. Local actors portray people from the past and it is quite interesting, and sometimes spooky, too, if the actor starts screaming about something only they've seen or heard. It's a good way to learn about the history in the town and in the country, too.

Patg said...

Nope never, on ghost walks or anywhere. If something is odd, I tend to move towards it. I'd want to grasp anything that seemed like ectoplasm.
I find the notion of returning or getting stuck here unbelievable, while at the same time depending too much of belief on 'stories' told and accepted. AND you know how I feel about that Gloria. :)

Kait said...

Oh, what fun! Never did a ghost walk, but I hope to someday. It makes sense that there are spirits left behind. We are matter, matter is energy, matter cannot be created or destroyed. It's the remaining physical "static" charge we least that's my opinion. If anyone has missed Sheila Connolly's Relatively Dead series...check them out.

KM Rockwood said...

I've been on ghost walks (actually, they were too commercial to be of much interest--I have bone when guests expressed and interest.)

We lived in a house in Michigan later featured in a book, "Haunted Houses of Michigan" and put together some incidents, that in retrospect, were spooky. Like not being able to find things like car keys, saying out loud that I really needed to find them,and then having them turn up on a table where I could have sworn I had already looked.

My younger daughter also pointed out that she told me about the "angels" who came and talked to her at night, and I put it down to imaginary friends.

I think there's a lot we don't understand (and probably never will) so my belief system has not trouble making room for ghosts.

Gloria Alden said...

Pat, I know your thoughts on things, but you did write a book with a ghost, didn't you?

Kait, I agree with you. I think that's why the person who lived in my house since the year I was born isn't totally aware of me, but like you said it's physical energy left behind.

Pat, I do know your opinions on most things, but you did write a book about ghosts.

Kait, they're fun, but it's usually about things from the past and doesn't necessarily mean the spirits are still there although apparently they can hang around for a long time. I agree that there's some matter that lingers on with some people who depart. I don't think Chick, the guy who lived in my house from the year I was born until he died 50 years later was aware of me being there, but rather a manifestation of some energy left behind. There are many things in life hard to explain like the time when I was having a great time camping with two sisters when an overwhelming sadness overcame me. When it didn't go away the following day, one sister had me call home, and I found out my daughter had been crying for me because her six year old daughter had fallen, broken her arm and went into a coma and was life flighted to a hospital and was still in a coma. How can one explain that. One of the Haunted Housewives said its mother love.

KM, I think a lot of ghost walks are commercial, especially those around October, or those who have a fee, but not all of them are. I believe that incident in the house in Michigan
could have had something to do with whoever is haunting that house, and sometimes I think Children are more aware of something, especially if she still remembers them as angels and not a figment of her imagination. When telling ghost stories as a kid, I didn't believe, but as I've grown older and heard too many stories from family members and others I trust, I have to believe there are something like ghosts.

Sheila Connolly said...

Oddly enough, I did my first ghost tour this past weekend, in a local house built in the 1760s. The "hunters" (both women) had evidence of both photographs and sound recordings of various people said to haunt the house, and let us play with their toys and wander about on our own looking for whatever. Nobody new showed up, but the whole event did not seem at all silly or unlikely. I'd go back again.

I started writing a paranormal series a couple of years ago (thanks, Kait, for the mention), based on my family tree, because I've run into too many coincidences to ignore them. I figure my ancestors are revealing themselves on their own schedule, and I just wait for them to show up. There's nothing remotely frightening about it--I think they're glad to be remembered.

Marilyn Levinson said...

Fascinating post, Gloria.I've never been on a ghost walk,nor have I ever encountered a ghost. Yet, I sometimes include a ghost in my novels.