Esserville’s Banshee Rock

A large rock once sat beside the road going between Wise and Norton, near the small coal town Esserville, Virginia. The rock was believed to have its own banshee that foretold death to those who passed.

The earliest accounts go back to the days of horse and wagon. A man drove by the rock one evening and a huge black dog leapt from behind it. He stopped the wagon just before it collided with the animal. The dog crossed the road in front of him and disappeared. Seconds later, a figure approached on the road ahead.

The man recognized his neighbor, Mrs. Stephen Parsons. He called to her and waved, but she looked right through him. Her behavior was strange and distracted, so he didn’t press his greeting. Parsons was normally friendly, but she was not eager to talk this night. She instead ignored the wagon and approached her home. She climbed the outside steps to the second floor of the house, instead of going in the front door.

He decided he should check on the Parsons the next day. Something had to be very wrong for her to sneak around at night, and ignore someone she’d known for years. He visited the family the following morning, only to be told that Mrs. Parsons died the previous week.

During the Civil War, one Wise County soldier was home on furlough. He visited friends until well after dark. One of his friends decided to come back to his house with him. The men passed the haunted rock and the huge black dog crossed the road in front of them. A few seconds later, they noticed a Confederate soldier approach them on the road. Blood poured from a severe head wound. Less than a week later, the vacationing soldier died from a headshot in battle.

The most notable encounter came from Judge J.T. Hamilton’s youth. Hamilton was a young when his family first settled in the area. He went “possum” hunting with his brothers. They passed the banshee rock and a huge black dog came out from behind it to meet them. The hunting dogs ignored the animal, so the young men weren’t alarmed.

The dog ignored J.T., but went straight to his brothers. It greeted them in the order of Elliot, Jessie, and Charlie. After it touched the three brothers, it seemed to just melt into the ground. Elliot died from a sudden illness soon after the encounter. A couple of years later, Jessie then died from another sudden illness. Charlie died the same way soon after.




This story appears in Appalachian Curiosities.


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