Arkansas January 23, 2018
The Arkansas Ghost Story That Will Leave You Absolutely Baffled
Folklore and legends are tightly woven in Arkansas’ history. Sometimes we know for sure a tale is fabricated but other times a ghost story leaves just enough mystery to keep us uncertain. This is one tale that has seemingly been set and solved—but not everything adds up. Poltergeist or troublemaker? We’ll leave that decision up to you.
Our story begins at the Shinn farmhouse in Mena in the 1960s.
The house held Ed Shinn, 72; his wife Birdie, 70; and their recently moved-in grandson Charles Shaeffer, 15. The Shinns had lived at the homestead off of Ransom Road for more than 15 years. For years the farm was a simple, quiet place until strange things started happening on December 2nd, 1961.
The happenings actually had been going on for a while but Ed, understandably, didn’t want anyone thinking he was losing his mind.
The strangeness would start with violently rattling windows and knocking on doors and walls in the house. Sometimes, a sawing sound would be heard by the couple above their bed.
The activity continued for weeks. More things began to float and move on their own accord.
Furniture would fly, along with utensils, firewood, and chairs. Light bulbs would shatter without warning. Bedding would be yanked off the family while they slept. The family kept it all a secret for one long year until Ed let it slip in conversation.
Alvin Dilbeck, the town’s butcher, was the first outsider to hear of strange happenings at the farm. He asked a neighbor to check on them, which snowballed into a different problem.
The news spread through the town and everyone wanted to witness the unexplained going-ons at the Shinns.
The townspeople were almost as bothersome as the possible poltergeist.
Ed had to call the sheriff after a week of people breaking into the house, barn, and other outbuildings to catch a glimpse of the flying furniture.
To keep trespassers out and to hopefully witness the activity, Sheriff Bruce Scoggin, two deputies, and some newspaper reporters spent the night at the homestead while the Shinn family stayed with neighbors.
Unfortunately, nothing strange happened that night; however, according to poltergeist lore, the ghost typically haunts a family instead of a dwelling.
Although the police didn’t see anything the night they stayed at the house, there were other witnesses.
The Shinn’s daughter-in-law had a coal bucket and corn fly at her one afternoon. Birdie Shinn’s brother had seen a can and pencil hovering in front of him. A neighbor also saw a box of matches hover and then zoom across the room.
Even with the new publicity, the activity continued. That is, until a confession was made.
The grandson, Charles Shaeffer, confessed to being the poltergeist. He claimed to be the one behind all the moving items and strange sounds. But our story doesn’t end there.
The baffling part is – no one believed him.
Some of the events could be easily explained by a mischievous teen throwing things into a room or pulling off bedding while unseen. The other events couldn’t be so easily dismissed. People had witnessed objects hovering and items flying without any chance of a person being the cause.
A writer for the Arkansas Gazette summed up the locals' feelings towards Shaeffer’s confession:
"Anyone who takes comfort in the ‘confession’ of the grandson, that he was the one who whipped up all of the weird doings in the farmhouse near Mena," he wrote, "either didn’t read far enough or can’t face the facts…Our theory is that he took the rap so that everybody could get some peace."
The Shinn family eventually moved out of the Mena farmhouse.
History remembers the tale as a hoax but revisiting the story does leave room for some chills.
What do you think? It’s fun to be thrilled with the idea that something more than just Charles was causing all the trouble.
If you’re remaining skeptic but would still like to be scared, read about this
true story of terror.