The Wizard Clip & Mystic Voice -Newspaper article from 1926

-Pranks of 'Clipping Ghost' continue for years in mountain home.
[This is Part 2 of the remarkable events detailing the interaction of a soul from purgatory with a once Protestant family in Virginia leading up to their unforgettable conversion to the Catholic church. Part one: "A Voice from a soul on the other side- the Wizard Clip" can be read here.   I recently discovered this old newspaper article, typed it up and published it here to provide more details of this story. -Glenn Dallaire ]

Monday November 1, 1926

Winchester, Virginia-- Off railroads , bus lines and main highways in Jefferson County West Virginia lies a charming little Village of about 300 inhabitants. This town has 3 names:  Smithfield, Middleway and Clip-- the last and best known being derived from the famous manifestations of the “Clipping Spook.”

Anyone in Middleway, young or old, Catholic or Protestant, can tell the story of the Wizard Clip. And when the tale has been related, the narrator will shake his head and say:  ‘I am telling you just as he was told to me by my grandfather. I cannot explain it. ’  The story is well recorded in history.

In 1790, Adam Livingston came from Pennsylvania and settled on 70 acres of land in Middleway.  He and his wife dwelt there in peace for 4 years. Then one the evening there came a stranger to the door bagging for hospitality.

The wayfarer, as soon transpired, was seriously ill, and was a Catholic. Livingston was a Protestant and he had a prejudice against Catholics.  So when a sick man begged that a priest be sent for before he died, this request was resolutely denied the stranger.
“There is no priest in this neck of the woods” answered Livingston “and even if there were, he’d never darken my doors!”
Imploring, weeping and protesting, the traveler died without Confession.

A popular book written about this story
No sooner had the stranger drawn his last breath then trouble began. Mysterious presences were felt haunting the rooms of the log house, and mournful murmurings penetrated the silence.

One by and name of Jacob Fonter was called in to keep vigil [over the recently deceased guest]. When entering the room the candle that he carried in with him was suddenly extinguished. Other candles were then lit, but none would burn. Horses were heard trampling around and around the house.  

After the burial of the stranger on the farm, Adam Livingston’s dishes suddenly tumbled from their shelves and were broken. His furniture was moved by unseen hands. Coals leaped from the fire out into the room. Money suddenly disappeared. One adversity followed another. The barn burned to the ground; the farm animals tails were cut off. The heads were severed from the bodies of his hens.

Next was heard the uncanny grind of unseen shears in action, clipping, clipping… An invisible presence passed through the house, the yard and the barn on a destructive mission. No one was perceptible to the senses.  But the family wash was clipped from the clothesline. Clothing and bedding was found shredded into ribbons. Boots, linens and harnesses all bore the mystic incision of the crescent. [ie. -were cut into a crescent shape].

A skeptical old lady from Martinsburg, hearing of the strange occurrences, came to visit the Livingston’s to investigate. She brought with her, wrapped and hidden in her pocket, a silk cap. This finery did not escape the scissors of the ghost. When unfolded it fell to pieces.

Any doubter suffered at once from the offended spirit. A young bridegroom visiting the Livingston’s, declared: ‘I don't believe in ghosts.’  But he soon found his boots-- the ones he intended wearing to his wedding—cut into spirals, and his coat reduced to circular fringe.

The Adam Livingston memorial at PriestField
The climax was reached when Livingston's wife was smitten with an incurable malady. The afflicted husband then had a dream. Holding onto roots and bushes he was climbing a precipitous mountain.  At the top stood and imposing figure in Churchly robes. A voiced whispered: ‘This is he who can relieve you!’
The next day Adam Livingston visited the Episcopal rector in Winchester, the Reverend Alexander Balmaine. But this man neither resembled the figure in his vision nor wore the same vestments. He next visited Father Dennis Cahill [a Catholic priest] in Shepherdstown, who proved to be the personage of his dream. Father Cahill returned with Livingston to his home. When the priest and entered the house, he sprinkled holy water through the rooms and prayed. The offended spirit seemed appeased. The clipping ceased and Mrs. Livingston recovered from her illness.

In gratitude for this deliverance, Livingston willed a part of his farm to the Catholics. The deed is on record in Martinsburg to this day. And the Livingstons [eventually] moved back to Pennsylvania.

Another popular book detailing the story
The Catholics for many years have been in possession of part of the farm north of town.  A red gate into this precinct is labeled ‘Priests Field’. Here has been erected a little chapel near the banks of the Opequon River. And annually on All Souls Day, services [Mass] is conducted at this Shrine.

The original house where the strange events transpired is now gone. It stood in a flat, rocky field edged by a deep brook fringed by willows, on the edge of town. A woman in Middleway says if a careful search is made, the old foundation can be discovered.

About 50 years ago another dwelling was built upon the property. It stands in an adjacent field facing the road to Bunker Hill. For thirty years, this homestead has been occupied by two sisters. “We do not believe in witchcraft, we can only state what happens; we cannot explain it.” stated one of these woman the other day.  “We are not afraid, for we do not hear anything nor see anything. But we find things clipped.  Oh yes –handkerchiefs, coats, bundles of clothing in the garret, counterpanes, bed linens in the press. And they are always cut in the form of a crescent as if circular scissors had been used. We would not think so much of it if they were straight cuts, but they are diagonal. I had a brand new lawn dress hanging in the garret. When I went to get it, it was ruined, all clipped to pieces, and each cut to the form of a crescent. Another strange thing—for two years, grass different from the rest of our lawn, very green and about a foot wide has come up over by the fence in a perfect circle.
“I have no clipped articles to show you for I gave the last that I had to Father Curran of Harper’s Ferry, who came here to negotiate the purchase of the property.

“The Catholics have been after it for years, and we would not part with our home. But we have sold at last. We are to have possession of the place as long as we live. What the Catholics will do with it I do not know. Some stay they intend to build a school here.”
-End of newspaper article-

The All Souls Chapel as it stands today as part of the PriestField Pastoral center on the original Livingston property
A few interesting notes concerning this story:

-The All Souls Chapel mentioned in this story, which was later built on the property in honor of all the souls in Purgatory remains until today (see photo to the left). In 1978 when a retreat center was built on the tract, aptly named PriestField Pastoral Center, it belongs to the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.

-In the early 1900’s, Father J.A. Curran, a Marist priest from Harper's Ferry (as mentioned in the article) gathered evidence concerning the events, and later wrote a book about his discoveries. Unfortunately this writer has been unable to find any copies thus far-(If anyone has a copy, please let me know). As stated in the story, he was also instrumental in purchasing the remainder of the original Livingston property (now known as PriestsField Pastoral center)

-As explained in Part 1 of this story, the 'Mystic Voice' taught the Livingston family all about the Catholic faith, teaching them to say the Rosary and joining them in their prayers, and during this time the family received many extraordinary graces. Soon after the events began the entire family converted to the Catholic church. 

Those interested in more details about this story should refer to Part 1 here.


Anonymous said...

May God bless this family down the generations

Anonymous said...

I spent two years working for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and became familiar with this story out there, and I spent many nights at Priest Field Pastoral Center in those two years! I've been visiting this website for years and was delighted to discover that the story of the Wizard Clip and Priest Field is on it. What a surprise!

Wizard Clip Story said...

Wizard Clip Story is well written in the related article half century before