When thinking of the city of Moundsville, WV, the first major location that comes to mind is the West Virginia Penitentiary. However, paranormally speaking, the Archive of the Afterlife may have just as much significance as any other spot in the area. Even though the specific building which houses the second coming of the archive doesn’t hold much in the way of tragedy or high energy levels itself, the archive’s true draw is what it holds inside. With an eclectic collection of paranormal artifacts nation-wide, it’s truly no wonder that there are so many different stories and energies attached to the items themselves. Much like the world-renowned Warren Occult Museum, the Archive of the Afterlife has a unique collection of paranormal oddities and artifacts which stretch from creepy dolls to the supposedly lost execution cap from the neighboring West Virginia Penitentiary to a collection of Historic Sod. The incredible owner, Steve Hummel, as well as visitors and investigators alike have all experienced oddities throughout the building and it’s no wonder why once you begin to dig into the individual items and historical value of each.
Aside from the notorious nature of the town of Moundsville, WV, of which can be spotted around practically every turn in the form of raised burial mounds, the strong flowing Ohio River combined with the ancient superstitions particularly relating to the Native American tribes who resided in the area all pulled in strange energies into the grassland area where the town is now situated. Odd activity and occurrences have stemmed from the area itself dating back to when the land was populated by the Native Americans as they mainly utilized it for burial rituals. Those who performed these rituals claimed that the land was tainted with those dead spirits and refused to hunt those grounds or really intrude on them for any other reason than these rituals.
As time went on, the city of Moundsville was established and attempted to keep the historical mounds intact and even protected them from building or demolishing. Locals have still claimed that the area holds some strange occurrences and even avoid certain locations like the West Virginia Penitentiary and the Grave Creek Mound which overlooks the majority of the town and is the largest burial mound in the area.
Aside from a few minor historical documents in relation to the property which houses the Archive of the Afterlife, there haven’t been any findings that seem relevant to the hauntings themselves. There haven’t been any major deaths or tragedies that are associated with the property but instead, the items that are housed within the museum seem to be more relevant to the unearthly happenings there.
Paranormal Experiences & Haunted Artifacts
The main stories of supernatural occurrences are typically the more cliché haunting stories of the feeling of being watched and followed, phantom footsteps, and the odd movement of doors and windows. However, it seems that each of the items do hold a special presence about them, even regarding the activity associated with the building. Originally, the collection began as simply WWII artifacts, and still does today, including old items from all over Europe.
One of the more popular items housed in the building is the supposedly lost execution cap for the original electric chair to the West Virginia Penitentiary nicknamed “Old Sparky.” The electrocution cap was given to the museum after a woman purchased a storage locker during an online auction of an estate sale. Inside the locker was the notorious electrocution cap which was utilized in the deaths of nine inmates who were sentenced to die inside the walls of the West Virginia Penitentiary. There is rumored to be a strong energy attached to this helmet that many visitors claim to feel, and with the deaths of those deadly inmates, that’s no surprise.
A notable piece to the collection inside the museum is hard to miss as an old 1930’s embalming table is spread across an open room. Originally serving as a fully functional embalming table in the New Martinsville Iams Funeral Home and was used to prepare countless bodies for funerals. This table was eventually transitioned into a Halloween prop yard decoration then finally passed onto the Archive of the Afterlife. All through this time, the table has never been altered or truly disturbed in any way. The museum also holds the embalming pump that was used hand in hand with the table back in its heyday. If funerals and cemeteries are said to hold spirits and bring in unique energy, There are also two display caskets that tie in with the embalming table. One of which is a full adult casket whereas the other is a child’s casket along with funeral advertisements like signage and old advertisements. it would be no wonder why these particular items may hold a plethora of energy associated with these artifacts.
According to the owner, Steve, as well as numerous visitors and paranormal investigators, one of the more curious and interesting pieces in the Archive is the picture of “Annie.” Purchased from a local antique shop in nearby Wheeling, WV, Even though Annie was spotted here before the Archive was even imagined, Steve always kept his eye on her while digging around for WWII artifacts. Just staring at her from afar, he could just feel her eyes follow him and a certain energy surrounding her. Once he decided to open the museum, Steve immediately returned in order to purchase Annie as he felt that she missed the attention she deserved so long ago. Unfortunately, the vendor area where she was formerly stored had disappeared. Even though he was disappointed, Steve continued to return to the antique shop back to his original purpose of the WWII items. Ironically, a few months later, situated in the original vendor area, Annie’s picture had returned, strangely enough, it was only her picture, no other artwork or antiques. Steve’s original feeling ultimately came to fruition as he personally made contact with her as the picture has been noted to be a conduit for her energy, She has also been said to make direct contact with visitors and volunteers alike and clear EVP’s have been captured telling the investigators her name and active Rempod activity.
There are a few dolls, creepy in their own right, but each seem to have their own specific energy charges. Found at another antique shop in Wheeling, WV, Izzy is an odd white-eyed doll clad in a red, white, and blue outfit and tends to give younger visitors an odd feeling, giving off darker energy leaving those in contact with her unsettled and sometimes queasy. A porcelain armless and colorless doll nicknamed Ashen was anonymously donated to the museum. She was delivered in an unmarked box to the West Virginia Penitentiary finding a home in the Archive. Ashen has an energy which seems to alter depending on the guest who interacts with her. Some who speak to her claim to feel uneasy and unnerved while others claim to feel very comforted and at an extreme ease. However, there are others who feel absolutely nothing at all. One of the more popular dolls in the archive is that of Lydia, which is actually the remnants of a full doll but only the head and shoulders remain encased in a glass display. Lydia was spotted in another local antique shop and pinpointed her due to her paranormal attributes. After she was brought in, almost immediately she gave visitors and volunteers strange feelings and just oozed energy. Some felt as though Lydia gave them nausea whereas others actually needed to physically leave the property to alleviate her high energy levels within them.
Some other oddities in the museum are more along the lines of bits and pieces of antiques rather than a full artifact held intact over time. The first is simply a pale face, somewhat reminiscent of an old Venetian mask. Named Cori, her red lipstick and flower pop off the white porcelain face. She was spotted in an old shop in the nearby small town of Marietta, Ohio. Upon entering the area where Cori was laid out, Steve felt a presence of someone standing right behind him. As he abruptly turned, his eyes were immediately drawn to Cori’s face hung on the wall of the shop. As quickly as he spun, he purchased Cori to properly show her beauty off in the museum. Not much supernatural has been associated with her aside from the day Steve purchased her. Aside from Cori, another oddity is very difficult to describe except to say that Yelena once was a beautiful doll, Barbie-esque with a full Victorian dress and flowing hair; unfortunately time did not treat her well. Her dress is missing showing off a wire frame with no legs, one of her arms are completely missing while the opposite arm is missing bits and pieces, her hair is frizzled and bundled up and all of her complexion has been lost leaving her with a pale, ghost-like tone. Steve found Yelena in an antique mall out of Berlin, Ohio from a doll vendor. This artifact has been saved and stored safely in the Archive of the Afterlife, and even though no paranormal activity has been recorded with this piece, it would not be a stretch of the imagination if we would hear that it is or that it exudes energy in the near future.
One of the stand out pieces, and with a scientifically proven backstory, the Dr. Suess “The Foot Book” children’s book was donated by a paranormal investigator who acquired this book after an investigation in the Ohio Valley. The family reported that they heard children’s voices and the sixth sense of being watched from afar. The book was attributed to this haunting as it began when the owners brought home the book. Upon some research, the book was found to be purchased from a garage sale which included a large box of personal remains from a quadruple homicide (including a young girl) which occurred in that house. After noticing a dark red mark on the cover, a local fire department ran an analysis of this and concluded that this spot was in fact blood; it can still be seen to this day. Luckily, upon removing the book from the home, these strange activities ceased, only to pick up sporadically inside the Archive.
One of the fastest growing collections, and possibly the most meaningful to the Archive, is that of the Historic Sod Collection. It was originally started as a package deal arriving with sod from the notorious serial killer John Wayne Gacy. The newest addition comes all the way from London where the Canonical Five were murdered by none other than Jack the Ripper.
Each artifact inside the museum holds not only its own history but its own energy and some even play host to paranormal activity. The Archive of the Afterlife is truly a museum which stands on its own from its unique purpose to the unique artifacts it holds inside its walls.
Artifacts aside, there have been two alleged deaths in the home both of whom were said to be elderly. In addition to these deaths, there was one stabbing which occurred, luckily enough it was not fatal. A woman, who previously lived in the upper floor of the duplex, was killed tragically in an automobile accident in nearby Fairmont. Out the front side of the building, just under the street, rests the remnants of the original B&O railroad which used to run right through this area. Some of the hauntings known to many visitors and the owner can actually be attributed more so to some of these tales and their energies associated with them in addition to all of the unique and awe inspiring artifacts inside the Archive of the Afterlife.