By: Amber Gillenwatermdtnews@mydailytribune.com
September 12, 2012
GALLIPOLIS — Her books sit amongst the most well-thumbed at any library — works that tap into the paranormal and unknown and leave a chill down their readers’ spine — and, during a special presentation this Friday, author and paranormal investigator Sherri Brake will take those lucky enough to get a seat at Bossard Library on a journey to some of the most famous haunts of Ohio and West Virginia.
Brake, who currently resides in Summersville, W.Va., is a haunted tour owner and well-known expert in all things paranormal, and, in addition to instructing, lecturing and organizing ghost hunts, she has worked with shows such as the Discovery Channel’s “Ghost Lab,” and ABC’s “Most Terrifying Places on Earth.”
Friday’s presentation, that will begin at 6 p.m. and will be limited to the first 75 attendees due to space constraints, will consist of a presentation that will take the audience to some of the most ghoulish sites in Ohio and West Virginia including the Ohio State Reformatory, West Virginia Penitentiary, Athens Lunatic Asylum and Camp Chase Cemetery.
According to Library Director Debbie Saunders, the library’s focus was to bring in an expert on this popular subject, who would not only thrill the attendees, but also provide the history of the area’s spookiest places.
“We wanted to make sure that it was more about history and folklore,” Saunders said. “Some paranormal things can be a little more on the dark side — that’s really not what we were going for. We were going more for the paranormal folklore of this area.”
And Brake’s work is just that, as exemplified in her books, “Haunted Stark County: A Ghoulish History,” “The Haunted History of the Ohio State Reformatory” and her most recent title, “The Haunted History of the West Virginia Penitentiary: Afterlife with No Parole.”
According to Saunders, Brake quickly came to the attention of the library after their search for a paranormal expert began.
“We thought a paranormal program would be very well received because we see a lot of interest in that. We have a lot of books about paranormal investigations and we see that that section is always well used,” Saunders said while stating that they received rave reviews of Brake’s presentations from another Ohio Library.
“We contacted another library who had had Sherri at their facility for a series of two programs,” she said. “The presentations were very successful in that the library even had to go to a larger venue to have it rather than in the library.”
Adult Services Associate Lynn Pauley, who helps to organize many of the adult-oriented programs at the library, including Brake’s visit, spoke of her early interest in spooky tales while commenting that it is an intrigue with the unknown that keeps library patrons coming back to the “haunted” section of the library.
“When I was in was little and going into high school, I read all of the ghost books — I’m not sure I necessarily believed them, but they were really interesting,” Pauley said “It’s the folklore that attracts people, but it’s not only the history, but its a touch of the unknown.”
In addition to her work at other libraries, Bossard was also interested in Brake’s ability to tailor a program to fit the area and provide the haunted history of Ohio and West Virginia.
Brake, who owns Haunted Heartland Tours, leads sold out tours to some of the most historic haunts in the area, including overnight stays at the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum and West Virginia Pen, as well as night-guided tours of the Massillon, Ohio, cemetery.
According to Saunders, Brake is a good fit for Bossard, and hopefully, will only be the first of many interesting adult programs to come at the library.
“We just want to make sure that we offer programs of a variety of interests and this program is different from a lot we’ve had in the past, but that’s what we’re trying to do is grow our adult programing and Lynn [Pauley] has been very instrumental in that,” Saunders said.
For more information on upcoming programs at Bossard call (740) 446-READ (7323) or visit www.bossard.lib.oh.us.
For more information on Sherri Brake visit www.hauntedhistory.net.