The bulk of the following is from “Wizzard Clip,” by W.W. Laidley, published in the West Virginia Historical Magazine Quarterly, January 1904
Part 1 of 3
“From the “Eastern Pan-Handle” we take the following ancient ghost story.
“A town was laid out by John Smith in 1794, a town on his lands, then in Berkeley County, since in Jefferson, then in Virginia, now West Virginia. This was by Act of 1798 made a town by the name of Smithfield. It has since been known as Middleway, is located about five miles west of Leetown, and has about eight hundred inhabitants.
“The earliest record of the story was written by Rev. Demetrius A. Gallitzin, whose memoirs were prepared in 1797, and about the same time, Mrs. Annella McSherry wrote letters containing about the same facts, and since then there have been other papers written, all giving about the same facts, and the further fact that for fifty years the original name of the place was lost and it was only known as Wizzard’s Clipp, shows that the people there had no doubt of the facts related.
“The story gathered from the various publications is as follows: Adam Livingston, becoming dissatisfied with his residence in Lancaster County, PA, determined to remove to the State of Virginia, and carried his purpose into effect by the purchase of a house and lot in Smithfield, VA, and seventy acres contiguous thereto. This was about the year 1790.
“He had the reputation of being an honest and industrious farmer, of fair intelligence, and brought with him his wife and a family of three sons and four daughters.
“Livingston continued to reside there without attracting any particular notice, until 1794, when a stranger, of middle age and of respectable appearance, made a visit to the place and was received as a boarder in his house.
“In a few days after the arrival of this traveler, he was taken sick, and as his illness became more threatening he called Livingston to his bedside, informed him that he was a Catholic, and inquired of him if there was not a priest somewhere in his neighborhood whose services he could procure, should his malady prove fatal, which he had reason to then fear it would.
“Livingston, who was an intensely bigoted member of the Lutheran church, very gruffly replied to him ‘that he knew of no priest in that neighborhood, and if there was one, he should never pass the threshold of his door.’ The dying man repeated his entreaties for the spiritual aid of a Catholic priest, but Livingston was inexorable and refused to countenance his request.
“The stranger died, his name being unknown to his host, and there being nothing among his papers to throw any light upon his history.
“On the night of the traveler’s death Livingston employed a man by the name of Jacob Foster to sit up with the corpse. But so soon as the candles were lighted in the chamber of the dead, after giving a weak and flickering light, they went out and the room was left in darkness. They were re-lighted several times, supposing it to result from some remedial defect in the candle, but with the same result.
“Livingston then brought two candles into the room which he had been using in his own family room, which were about one-third burnt down and which he knew to be good. But so soon as they were placed in the room with the corpse they became immediately extinguished. This so alarmed Foster that he abandoned his vigils and left the house.
“On the night succeeding the burial the peace of Livingston was much disturbed by the apparent sound of horses galloping round his house. He frequently rose during the night to satisfy his mind. While he could distinctly hear the tramp of steeds, he could see nothing to assure him that it was anything more than a figment of his own imagination.
Sources: The Mystery of the Wizard Clip, by Father J. M. Finotti, Baltimore, 1879
Mystery of the Wizard Clip, by John B. Piet, West Virginia, 1879
The Mystery of the Wizard Clip, Our Lady of the Rosary Library, Prospect, KY
“Haunted House,” by Mark Gauvreau Judge, The Wall Street Journal, October 31, 2003