As a kid and descendant of the Rineharts, one of Greene County’s early settler families, Kevin Paul heard a lot of local folklore of the eerie kind from his grandparents.
Not only did Paul, a Greene County native, hear tales passed down from his family, but other Greene County residents contributed their share of stories of weird encounters as well.
And then there was this one particular newspaper article that made a huge impact. He said around the age of ten, he remembers sitting on the family sun porch one day reading a story in the local paper about a sighting of Mothman.
“It terrified me a lot,” he said.
Years after reading about Mothman and after earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture from West Virginia University, he heard paranormal researcher, Rosemary Ellen Guiley of New Milford, Connecticut, interviewed on “Coast to Coast with George Noory,” a late night radio talk show that covers everything from politics to the paranormal.
“I sent her [Guiley] an email telling her we had a lot of stuff going on here and invited her to visit Greene County, but I never expected her to reply,” he said.
But respond she did, and what she found in our neck of the woods starting in 2010 brought her back dozens of times. During her visits she said she and Paul interviewed many residents who had unusual accounts of paranormal experiences. She was so impressed she even brought in another paranormal investigator to join them on one occasion.
After several years of research and interviewing, Guiley said she and Paul have documented quite a range of “creepy phenomena” and believes there’s probably more to be discovered.
“I actually went to many of the locations where the sightings occurred,” she said. “I discovered that Greene County is packed with paranormal activity - some quite unusual and dramatic.”
Guiley said what she thinks makes the area so unique is its rural terrain. Once you get away from the settlements, she said you find remote hollows ripe with paranormal activity.
As the authors heard stories from a number of people, their collection of narratives grew ever larger “When folks hear you’re interested in hearing their stories and know you won’t laugh at them, they keep snowballing from there,” Paul said.
Once, while Guiley, an author of more than 65 books in the paranormal and body/mind/spirit genre, and Paul were having lunch, Guiley suggested they write a book on their findings. Following the advice of a college professor at WVU who once told Paul he should write, “Haunted Hills and Hollows: What Lurks in Greene County, Pennsylvania” was born.
The book features stories of drifting ghosts, strange alien beings and their sky craft, Bigfoot, dogmen, Lizard man, black “blobs,” winged humanoids, spirits of the land, mysterious black-eyed people and more.
One story about an unidentifiable creature, a cryptid, goes back to the 1890s and is sited in Franklin Township. According to Paul, a creature described as lizard man was spotted in the same location in the 1970s. The first account was taken from an old newspaper. The second was from an actual eyewitness.
“We had the benefit of interviewing people with stories who grew up in the county and had ancestors who lived in the area with the same experiences in the family history,” Guiley said. “When there’s a track record of things that happen over and over again to generations of people, it creates a body of evidence that provides continuity.”
The book includes photos taken by some of the people who contributed their stories as well as others by Paul and Guiley. It also holds illustrations drawn by artists who took the narrative and created appropriate images of what they heard and read.
“If people read the book and recognize some of the places mentioned, bear in mind that many are on private property and they should stay off unless they get permission from the owners,” Paul said. “I might also note that the book isn’t your typical ghost story book because we give possible explanations for some of the things that happened.”
Currently, the book is available for purchase for $17.95 in paperback at amazon.com. It’s also sold through Kindle, Nook, iBook, Google Play and Kobo. Copies are also available at the Fencerow Farmers Market, 1462 E. High St. in Waynesburg where Paul sells produce, meat and dairy products.