This is the county that I am from so I thought I would write a little about it. Even though its a well known place through out the states (most ppl know it as Bloody Harlan) it is a very rural community now...with only a population of maybe 1500 ppl. But that wasnt always the case.
First Ill tell a backstory on the area.
When the U.S. cranked up its factories to supply raw materials for Europe in the nineteen twenties and thirties a great demand for coal was created and the mountains to the west and north of Lee County Virginia and Harlan County Kentucky were full of the black gold they called COAL, every able bodied man who wanted work found it in the coal mines.
Some men had to walk many miles to work every day and others lived in the coal camps in company houses, many men died in these mines and others migrated to jobs in safer industries when they opened up. At that time though there were about a dozen or so coal companies up the hollows leading away from Harlan County.
In 1925 Harlan County had 64 mines operated by 50 coal companies and most all the company's had a camp (company housing) for the miners. These miners and their families had more than the dangers in the mines to worry about for the coal companies in addition to just plain cheating the miners out of their wages, had hired thugs (they liked to call themselves deputy's) to discourage the unionization of these mines and those thugs would not hesitate to blow up or burn down a company house (or any house for that matter) with the miner and his family in it if they suspected union activities or union talk was taking place there.
Many miner's died. Sometimes when trying to kill a miner a child would be killed, just because dad wanted a better life than the slavery the mine operators had to offer. If you were lucky they just ran you out of the county, with the threat of death if you returned. It was a perilous time for the miners safety in the mines and safety at home also.
One of the most famous attacks was a planned explosion that was aimed at Harvey Fuson who wrote the book "History of Bell County" because he was very outspoken about the unification of the workers. Harvey survived but a man named Roy Redmond was killed when a case of dynamite rigged in Fusons' car exploded when the key was turned to start it.
Most mines had company stores where miners traded the labor they did the day before for food. Most companies built these company camps and stores with the intention of creating a work force OWNED by the company. If the miner didnt work...him and his family didnt eat that day and if you tried to leave the company camp..you were likely "accidentally" killed. These company stores were greatly inflated so 1 shift of labor (usually 14 to 18 hrs) would be equal to the cost of a family of four eating one meal.
Anyway...the miners got tired of it and started striking. It started in 1931 and continued into the 40's. Many people were killed during this time frame. Companys "accidentally" killing strikers with explosions at picket lines to snipers, and the strikers killing others that the mining companies hired to take their places (a.k.a. scabs) with guns, knives, bats, etc. to even lynchings and hangings.
This was why Harlan County was given its infamous name "Bloody Harlan".
Many consider this county to be the most haunted place in Kentucky. Many underground coal miners of today experience many unexplained things in the damp dark mines. Everything from hearing voices to seeing full apparitions of coal miners from the Yesteryears.
There is two very well known hauntings locally that I will tell you about. Probably the most well known is a legend called "Headless Annie."
Headless annie is probably a legend. I personally dont think its true. But behind every Legend is a little truth I think. The history of annie has many different variations to her death. (as many legends do) But the one that ties in with the strikes are as follows. Annies father worked at the mines based in Lynch, Ky. (which is also in Harlan County) and he became very outspoken about wanting the workers to form a union. The "deputies" of the mining camp became aware of this and one night took annies' family on top of Lynch Mt. (real name Black Mountain...its the highest point of elavation in Kentucky as well) The deputies cut the fathers legs off and tied him high in a tree so he could bleed to death. Raped and decapitated her mother while annie and her father watched, then decapitated annie.
They left annies father tied to the tree. They wanted to make an example out of him to the rest of the miners that traveled across the Mt. looking for work. Saying "This is what happens when you try to create a union." As for annie and her mother....Their bodies were thrown off a huge cliff that runs alonside the road and animals ate their carcasses.
The legend states that Annie does many things but only while you drive across the Mt.. She will be walking, She will appear in the backseat of your car, she will jump in front of your car and you will drive through her, she will jump on the hood of your car and it will stall out, the list goes on and on.
Shes always described as being a 10 to 12 year old girl wearing a night gown. She is suppose to be semi transparent with a light blue glow to her. Some ppl have claimed to have seen her headless, Some with her head and some carrying her head.
I have done research on her. I went to my local Library and searched through many old newspapers (on that rolling film machine) and have found nothing to prove of her existance. Although if it were true then it wouldnt have been printed in the papers anyhow, where the Coal Companies controlled everything.
I would like to state that I have crossed that Mountain for 5 years and never seen her. I worked in Va. and had to cross it every night to get to and from work. So thats the story on her.
Next we come up on one of my favorites!
The Benham Inn! Now this one has got something going with it. It may be just a Residual haunting (or mabe an intelligent one) but the activity here is is 2nd to none. let me give you a little history on it.
Its located in Benham Ky. When it was first built in the early 1900s (cant remember the exact date) it was a hospital. Around the 50s or 60s it became a school. Then it was shut down for about 10 years. Then a couple of ppl with alot of money bought it and redone the whole building to create The Benham Inn! This is the most extravigant (and most expensive) Inn for miles and miles.
This building has seen a whole lot of things in its time here. It was the ONLY hospital here during the Bloody Harlan strikes. Many miners died here and all the bodies were stored in this building as well....for it was the only morgue! And we know that most schools have Residual hauntings. This is the best of both worlds! A school and a hospital (and morgue)!
Any way children can be heard laughing and running down halls. Lights come on by them selves. Things get "misplaced". Doors open and slam shut on their own. And theres a bunch more stuff. And some say there is something very "evil" in the furnace room. I have down multiple interviews with employees and these are just some things they have told me. Sadly though, me and my buddy Trent tried to do an investigation there once...but we werent given permission. But we still interview employees from time to time.
How we found out about the Inn is as follows. Trent was a police officer in Benham and one night he was called to the Benham Inn over a possible break in. When he arrived (about 3 a.m.) the guy at the front desk said that the lights were on in all the rooms towards the back of the place. They dont rent these rooms out...they use them for storage.
The guy at the desk said he also heard laughing and running through the halls as well as doors slamming shut towards these rooms and thought maybe someone possibly broke in. Trent went to where the activity had occured and there were no signs of a break in. The front desk dude went with him as well, turning off the lights as they went from room to room. Then they came upon the old furnace room and Trent said he began to feel ill. He went in there by his self (the desk guy wouldnt go) and searched around for intruders but everything was in place. As he come out he could feel something that just gave him the willies behind him. He said he turned around but nothing was there. So he turned the light off and come on out.
I am still trying to get permission from the owners to investigate this place. I will never stop until I do so when I do I will keep the good ppl of GP informed. Thanks for reading,