Old Joe Miller
By Richard Wilt

      It was in the mid 1940s and WWII was coming to an end and it was a hot summer evening and I had been staying with my grandparents on Bingamon Creek in northern Harrison County. It was a very dark evening with no moon and I was out in the yard chasing fireflies and my grandfather was just sitting on the porch just relaxing after a hard days work on his small farm. We had been picking some corn and beans and were just relaxing in the cool of the evening. As I was running around I noticed a light coming down the country road running by my grandparents’ home. As the light got closer I noticed it was a very tall elderly man carrying a kerosene lantern. I went closer to the road and watched the man walk by and I said “hi” and he didn’t even seem to see me although he passed me by just a few feet.

      I went back to where my grandfather was sitting and asked him who the old gentlemen was and told him that I spoke to him but he didn’t notice me as he walked by. As I was standing with my grandfather I noticed the light moved down the road and then across road and walk up the path following Nutter Run which ran though my grandfather’s farm going toward the hill toward O’dell's Knob. My grandfather said, oh, that is just old Joe Miller. I asked why he was out this time of the night using a kerosene lamp to be able to see. Grandpa said, “He is just looking for his wife.” I asked, “What happened to his wife and my grandpa said, "She was killed in the war". I asked, “where was she killed, overseas somewhere?” Grandpa said, “No, she was killed during the Civil War”. Grandpa, you are just kidding me. No she was in Shinnston one evening in 1864 and was coming home in the wagon and when she got close to Pine Bluff, some Johnny Rebs jumped out of the bushes and shot her. They took the wagon and left her there along the road with her young son. They didn’t find her until the next day with the boy sitting next to his mother. Because she was killed by some soldiers the Union forces took the body and buried it on O’dell's Knob. Since she had lain for quite a while they put her in a casket and did not open it before the funeral, so old Joe didn’t get to see his wife before she was buried so he has been looking for her ever since.

      I said, “Grandpa, you are just teasing me because old Joe would have been dead long ago if his wife was killed in 1864". Even at my age I could subtract and knew she had been dead for 80 years and old Joe would have been long dead.

      Grandpa said, of course Old Joe is dead he died quite a while ago. I asked, “If old Joe is dead who was the man who had walked by that evening. Well, said Grandpa, every night that there is no moon, old Joe walks from Shinnston to Pine Bluff and down Bingamon Creek and then up Nutter Run going home. He is also buried on O’dell’s Knob. Of course, I just figured grandpa was trying to tell me a story and the man that walked by that night was really someone else. Grandpa said “if you don’t believe me just be here next mouth in the dark of the moon and you will see old Joe walk by again.

      Needless to say I wanted to go back and see if old Joe would walk by again but the next month during the dark of the moon, I let it pass and didn’t get back to my Grandparents to see if old Joe would walk by again. As time went by I forgot about the incident and never got back on the dark of the moon. I sometimes wonder, “Is old Joe still looking for his wife.?”

      Just one of those things that I will never really be sure, did I see a Ghost or did Grandpa just tell me a big tale? It would be several years before I saw my next Ghost, believe it or not.

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