The Murder House

The Murder House sat under the shadow of a mountain in Wise County, Virginia. The day could be bright and sunny, but even in direct sunlight, the house never brightened inside. Tenants frequented the rental home, but no one ever knew the story behind the horrors that emerged every time it stormed.

Harlan Tipton was a coal miner in the 1910s. He worked at the Rosewood mines near Big Stone Gap. Rosewood was a small operation, and unlike its massive counterparts, the miners didn’t live on company property or shop at a company store. It was a small and hopeful operation, managed by contented men. Harlan was happy with the life he’d made for his family. He worked in the Rosewood mines during operating hours, and still had time to farm the few acres he owned. The men weren’t wealthy, but they had the best of steady, reliable employment and harvests from their acreage.

Union unrest eventually came to the region, and the peaceful life he enjoyed grew turbulent. Everyday brought news of a strike or fight in the mines elsewhere. Many men he knew from childhood were injured or killed in the struggles. The drive to expand the miners’ union never came to Rosewood. The work was hard, but the wages were fair. The men all had families and land to tend. Unlike the large mining operations elsewhere, Rosewood was owned and operated by locals.

Union officials eventually came to talk with Rosewood management. Harlan came to work that morning and passed the manager’s office. He heard raised voices. He knew the regional unrest had finally visited Rosewood. The manager proudly showed union representatives the records to prove they weren’t unnecessarily endangering their workers or underpaying them. In all their years of operation, they hadn’t lost a single man. The union men confronted the miners as they left that day. Harlan, like his coworkers, knew the demands placed on the larger companies would send tiny Rosewood into bankruptcy. Mining was hard, but it would be much more difficult at the larger operations. They liked being paid in money, not scrip. They wanted to shop in town, not at a company store.

The strangers left, but the absence wasn’t for long. A few weeks later, they returned and again confronted the management and employees at Rosewood. They received the same answers as before. Angered at the “defiance” of Rosewood management and determined to bring a union to the little company at any cost, several men began plotting. Two days later, Harlan left work and passed three men as they approached Rosewood. He recognized two of them as the union men that had visited before. He didn’t know the third. He nodded at them and continued home.

The next day, Rosewood’s #2 mine collapsed in a fiery explosion. Five miners were killed in the blast. No one understood why it happened. Harlan was grateful he wasn’t in the mine, but his gratitude gave way to suspicion. The mine was always stable. Rosewood only had two small mines, and the roofing in both was well-supported, solid bedrock. The manager and owner inspected the disaster after the workers were cleared. Apparently, someone had deliberately sabotaged the mine. Dynamite was often used as tamping powder to destroy large obstructions in the mine. Someone had left the drum exposed and scattered powder around the floor. Someone struck a match to light a lantern, unaware of the danger on the ground, and the smoldering ember had made contact with the powder.

Harlan recalled the three men he passed the day before. He asked the mine management about their visit. The strangers never visited management. The manager said it was an attempt to prove Rosewood’s mines were unsafe. Harlan volunteered to testify that he passed the men the day before the disaster.

It stormed that night so the Tipton family went to bed early. Like so many families in the area, the sound of a steady rain on a tin roof had a sedating effect. The day’s excitement caught up with them.

Harlan never heard the strangers enter his house. They went from room to room, and murdered one sleeping body after another. They crept up in the darkness and slit the throats of everyone. They saved the worst for poor Harlan.

After his family was dead, the murderers woke him and told him what they did. The men carried bloody bowie knives strapped to their belts. Two dragged Harlan while the third carried the lantern. They wanted him to see what they did. The cruel men blamed Harlan for what they did, and then cut out his tongue. They let him suffer before they finally slit his throat.

The region was horrified by the gruesome murder and even Rosewood’s owner was silenced. Everyone knew who committed the act, but by that point, the men were too powerful to prosecute. Their success didn’t last. While they evaded the long arm of the law for Harlan’s murder, all three were killed in the next uprising they instigated.

The years went by and even the horrors that occurred in the Tipton House were forgotten. Little Rosewood closed its doors several years later and the men were forced to go to the bigger coal companies for work or leave the area. Since no one local dared to live in the old Tipton place, the owners decided to rent it.

Families moved in, and lived there with no issue… until it stormed. The house only exhibited spectral horrors when it stormed. Cries were heard, along with angry shouts, and the sounds of a struggle. The walls in every room bled. The occupants saw blood drip down the walls and could even feel it on their fingers, yet everything disappeared as soon as the rain ended. Legend said the walls would bleed every time it rained until Harlan could get revenge for what was done.

Tenants moved in and out for decades before the locals decided it would be better to raze the structure.

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