|The best known literary example of headless ghost stories is that of Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. The Mountain State has several legends featuring headless ghosts and one of them took place smack dab in the middle of the state. Located in the geographical center of West Virginia, the little community of Centralia which is located in Braxton County.|
Many years ago, a man by the name of Jacob Beamer was living in Centralia. Jacob was known as a local character of sorts and many thought him a wee bit odd. You see, Jacob made it known to all who would listen to him, that his ancestors lived on the moon.
He had come to the area to work on the building of the West Virginia & Pittsburgh Railroad. (Later known at the B&O) The line ran from Buckhannon to Camden-on-Gauley and in 1890, Jacob was employed on this project. He was a hard worker but also enjoyed spinning yarns to those who would take the time to listen.
One of the rare stories that Jacob claimed to be true, was the fact his family came from the moon and that he had a guardian moon ghost. He claimed his family had the uncanny ability to travel back and forth among the planets. (Keep in mind this was many years before this was actually attempted by mankind).
One story spoke of tragedy. While his family traveled from the moon to the earth on one trip, a terrible accident occurred. A large meteor roared past earth and shook the land mass as it formed continents and changed the earth’s poles.
This meteor also threw the moon farther into space and the Beamer family was left on trapped on earth. The family adjusted to living here with the help of their 'guardian' moon ghost who Jacob claimed would speak to him very often.
Jacob was a wanderer at heart and had a bit of a gypsy streak in his soul. He was fond of taking late night strolls in the country while the moon was round and full.
Some of the locals speculated that Jacob took these late walks to speak with his guardian moon ghost. On one night while walking, Jacob was accidentally caught on the tracks when an fast approaching train struck him down. The train was venturing through a deep cut in the hill near the community of Centralia when it violently plowed over Jacob.
His dead body was found lying next to the tracks the next day. He had been decapitated with the impact and his head was not with the body or anywhere in the vicinty. People searched high and low for Jacob’s head but it was never found.
Many people through the years who have visited the area have claimed a peculiar sight takes place. Moonbeams would shine down brightly on the full moon night near the anniversary of Jacob Benders death. Near the big cut and the railroad tracks, a grayish-colored ghost was often observed leading a headless man by the hand. Their movements are slow and precarious as they search both sides of the tracks... apparently looking for Jacob’s lost head.
The last time that the two ghosts were observed, a deer hunter saw them as they ambled about. The hunter paused and as he did, he saw Jacob Beamer clutching the hand of the gray ghost and in his other arm, he cradled what appeared to be a white human skull. The deer hunter stood as if frozen in place and watched as the ghost led Jacob into the dense rhododendron bushes, disappearing into the shadows.
The apparitions of the moon ghost and Jacob Bender have not been seen in a very long time.
Many say Jacob is finally at rest.