Jack LattaStaff Writer
October 30, 2012
Mamie Thurman story an area ghost legend
Arguably the most well-known ghost legend in Mingo County is that of Mamie Thurman and 22-Mine Road near Holden on the Logan-Mingo County borderline.
Tales of truck drivers and other late night drivers have reportedly seen Mamie Thurman’s ghost haunting a section along the roadside on Corridor G and Trace Mountain.
The thing about the legend is that it is a complex real-life murder case that occurred during the depression era in 1932.
Over the years, Mamie’s legend has grown and is a nationally known ghost story. Keith Davis, a former general manager and writer at the Logan Banner, wrote a best-selling book titled “The Secret Life and Brutal Death of Mamie Thurman.”
The book details the true story – the murder, the trial and then the ghost legend that it has turned into over the years.
“At Halloween, and especially at a time when many have enjoyed the popular Mamie Thurman Ghost Ride in Logan County, some residents again ask if it’s true that West Virginia’s most popular specter, the ill-famed Mamie Thurman, continues to haunt the southern region of the state,” Davis said. “Some say she seeks justice for an unspeakable act of brutality.”
“Due to a grizzly 1932 homicide, the Holden 22 region of Logan County continues to be described as a hotbed of paranormal activity. It’s been this way for well over the last eight decades,” Davis added.
Mamie’s lifeless body was found by a youngster picking blackberries on the mountainous road on June 22 of that year. She had been shot twice and her throat was slashed. The body had several contusions and bruises and had been discarded, thrown out into the weeds about 15 feet from the roadway.
There were arrests and conspiracy theories as to who killed Mamie. Even though Mamie was married to city policeman Jack Thurman, she was known to frequent the speak-easy’s in downtown Logan.
She was 32 years old when she was murdered, having moved to Logan from Kentucky. She was married to a Logan police officer, but allegedly having an affair with Logan businessman Harry Robertson. Robertson admitted in court to having “improper relations” with Thurman.
Robertson employed a black handyman, Clarence Stephenson, who was said to be very short in stature. Maybe even a dwarf by today’s standards.
Robertson was not convicted of the crime of murder of the young socialite, but the brutal killing was blamed on Stephenson. The trial was covered by the local newspapers of the time. Because of racial tensions, Stephenson had to be transported to the Mingo County jail in Williamson.
“This chilling account includes a number of white-collar suspects: noted businessmen, politicians, and coalmine operators of the time. It was an intense community scandal and a shocking gangland-style execution that still baffles law enforcement,” said Davis. “Since it oddly parallels a nationally known murder case that took place in Hollywood, the Thurman story has also been tagged by one reviewer as the ‘Hillbilly Black Dahlia.’”
Davis has a revised edition of the book that also discusses the haunting and ghostly sightings of Mamie. It is available at www.woodlandpress.com.
Davis’ book traces the bloody crime, its investigation and the succeeding ghost stories in even greater detail, and offers newly discovered information and evidence about the case, along with photos, including one which may actually be of the ghost of Mamie Thurman.
Mamie Thurman’s death certificate filed at the Logan County courthouse states she was buried at Logan Memorial Park in McConnell. Other records say that her body was transported to her native area in Bradfordsville, Kentucky.
However, the cemetery in Kentucky has no record of the interment of Mamie’s body. But where her grave is actually located is part of today’s mystery.
Many say her soul wanders the hills and hollows of the area near 22-Mine Road because her real murderer was never convicted or served any jail time. Her spirit wants justice.
While many claim to have seen Mamie while passing by the Holden area, folklore says that certain coal truck drivers would pick up a woman wearing old-fashioned clothing, only to see her vanish from the cab moments later.
Another local legend asserts that if you put your car in neutral on the bridge near 22 Mountain Road, it will appear to roll backward up the hill. This is said to be the spirit of Mamie Thurman pulling you up the hill. Many teenagers have tried this stunt over the years.
Even though it is Halloween and many think of her during this time of year, Mamie’s ghost is said to haunt the area year round. And the legend will likely live on forever.