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On this Halloween a ghost story from Greenbrier County

(Lewisburg) A ghost story from Greenbrier County is so popular it spawned plays and books. The grave of the ghost in question can be found in Smoot, tucked away behind a modest church. The Greenbrier Ghost will never be forgotten. Here is the story of why.

Toni Ogden of the Greenbrier Historical Society said, ”Well a lot of times they like to say this is the only court case that was decided by a ghost.”

It is the type of tale that dabbles in the supernatural, interwoven with gossip and lore, and finally legitimized with a state plaque.

Ogden described the situation at the time saying, “The third wife was Zona, and she was just a young thing.”

According to legend, in 1897 Zona Heaston Shue was discovered dead at the home she shared with her husband, Edward Shue. Her death at first was presumed natural. Edward prepared the body. Odgen explains saying, “When she was laid out in her coffin for the public he wrapped a scarf around her neck.”

It was only after Zona’s spirit appeared in a series of dreams to her mother, that the prosecutor was convinced to exhume the body. An autopsy confirmed the ghost Zona’s account to her mother. Zona’s husband, Edward, had strangled her. Edward was prosecuted and convicted in the courtroom at the Greenbrier County courthouse.

The story lives on, printed and reprinted, but the popularity of this tale is driven less by the supernatural and more by the human element. Odgen explains saying, “The idea of this this silly young woman who married an evil man, and she ended up paying for it in a horrible way. And I just think there’s something about the humanity of that that really captures people.”

Haley Brown

Multimedia Journalist

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