Southwestern West Virginia - Booger Hole

Booger Hole —Clay County


Deep in the wooded mountains and hollows of Big Otter and Rush Fork, there’s a teeny town called Booger Hole. It made headlines from the late 1800s through 1917 because of a mismatched series of murders in which bodies were never found. 
Around 1883, Andrew “Andy” Hargis, a stonemason who built chimneys, disappeared while traveling from Elana to Booger Hole. He had been carrying around $300 in his pocket when he vanished. 

In 1897, Joseph Clark, a watchmaker, had stopped for the night and slept at the Booger Hole schoolhouse. He was never seen after that night, but a trail of blood led to the nearby creek. 
In 1901, an elderly woman named Lacy Ann Boggs making her home in an abandoned schoolhouse on Otter Creek was shot in the back one evening while smoking her pipe. Fingers pointed to a neighbor by the name of Cottrell who called her a witch and said she’d come to him in his dreams. He told the local squire she would call him with a witch call which would make him burst through the window like a bird to her home and she’d hitch him and his son up side by side and ride them to Pilot Knob and back, through the brush and briers, whipping them with a hickory switch. When they went too slow, dragonflies would sting them. With insufficient evidence they had murdered her, the squire released both father and son.

It wasn’t until January of 1917 when 23-year-old Preston Tanner moved to the area with his pretty, young wife, Osie, and was burned up in his cabin that a special grand jury was set up at the Clay Courthouse to investigate the mysterious deaths at Booger Hole. David “Andrew” Sampson, 57, and son, Howard, 21 were eventually charged with Preston Tanner’s death. James Moore and John Lyons were brought to trial for murdering Andrew Hargis for his money but were not found guilty.

A Clay County mob was formed and a battle ensued for justice in the form of a lynching that never occurred. A mob dynamited out five Booger Hole family homes attached to the past murders and tacked up a few handbills to trees and fenceposts: “We, the citizens of Clay County, seeing that we cannot get justice by law, have organized the Clay County Mob. We have pledged our lives to drive these people from our county or kill them. If we cannot catch and hang you, we will sneak up on and kill you as you killed Andrew Hargis, Lacy Ann Boggs, the old peddler, and Preston Tanner. If before you leave there is any stealing, killing or burning, we will get the bloodhounds and detectives and run you to the ends of the earth. Nill Sampson, Kooch Sampson, Fred Moore and Aaron Runyon are hereby notified to leave the state in ten days. Rose Lyons, Bill Moore and Elizabeth Sampson are notified to leave in thirty days. PS Do not stop this side of the Ohio River.”

After that, all was quiet around Booger Hole . . .well, except for a few ghosts. Folks could hear people coming up the road like they were riding horses, but no one would appear. They couldn’t quite make out what the ghostly people were saying but the chatter would go on all night. There was also a ghostly woman dressed in white with long black hair who walked the paths and howled and wailed and sobbed.

Like many old towns, Booger Hole has grown. It's difficult to find the homes of old, new ones have popped up over the last fifty years and it is all private property. Please respect the boundaries of those who lived there in the past, and also those who live there now!


For more information on Booger Hole, you can read my Haunted West Virginia books: Book II








Bluefield Daily Telegraph Jan-31-1917-p-4