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Truth Seeker: Notes on a journey to Philippi

Photo by Tom Moore

Last month I was able to share with each of you a few locations that I had planned on visiting for this year. One was being in the town of Philippi, W.Va., to see the mummies that is on display at the Barbour County Historical Museum.

No, I am not talking about the kind with bandages wrapped all around them like you see in horror films, but the actual body itself. I was very excited about being able to see them. I had never thought I would ever see one without traveling a long distance. So the two-hour drive there would be nothing. Once arriving at the museum I walked up to the doors only to find them locked. At first, I thought maybe they were out to lunch since the hours on the door said they should have been open. But then I found out they were closed for the winter. It was at that point that I think all expressions left my face. Luckily, I was able to get in touch with the gentleman that works with the museum. He was just a couple minutes away and said he would come over to let me in.

Once he arrived he began telling me about the museum and the items inside. It was very interesting to see and hear what he had to say. One thing that I learned was that Ted Cassidy, who played Lurch in the TV show “Addams Family,” grew up and lived there as well.

This was all great but as I walked from one room to the next I found what I came to see. I was speechless as I looked over and saw the two mummified bodies. One was of a 40-some year old lady and the other of a 20-year old lady. Both female cadavers were purchased from the Hospital of the Insane in Weston, W.Va., in 1888 by Graham H. Hamrick. Using his formula he was able to mummify the bodies that have been in perfect shape since. Which is pretty amazing considering in 1985 the city was completely flooded including the museum. By the time they were able to get in to remove them they were four feet under water. I was also informed that the Smithsonian had also contacted them trying to get the formula. But to this day only three of the ingredients that Mr. Hamrick used are even known.

After spending a lot of time visiting and learning about the museum it was time to go. I paid the man for the items that I purchased and to see the mummies, along with some extra for him taking his time to allow me to visit during off season hours. But, before I left he did say that he has been there many times by himself and neither of the mummies has ever asked for a bite to eat or even wanted to talk.

As for me … I was satisfied and very thankful he took time out of his day to allow me to experience this treasure that sits in the hills of Philippi, W.Va.

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Tom Moore is a founding member of Mid-Ohio Valley Ghost Hunters and has been conducting research for 14 years. He can be reached at tom.movgh@gmail.com.

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