Final Report & Analysis

Black Diamond Paranormal Society©

“We are the light that cuts the darkness. Therefore, when you see… truth must be honored.”

Final Report and Analysis

Case 023

Major Graham Mansion

June 26, 2010

Max Meadows, Virginia


Rodney Shortridge, Aaron Shortridge, Mike Brown, Matt O’Quin, Heather Lamantia, Nathan Rasnick

Along with new members & honorary members

Micki Nelson, Clayton Trout & Dr. Shari Stacy

Special Guests

Nick Ferra of Virginia Paranormal Society (VPS)


Kelly Warf

     On June 26, 2010 the BDPS team investigated Major Graham Mansion located in Max Meadows, Virginia. I would like to take this moment to thank J.C. Weaver owner of the Major Graham Mansion, Mary Lin Brewer Director of the Major Graham Mansion, and Nick Ferra of Virginia Paranormal Society, for giving us permission to investigate such a historical site. We decided because of the size of the mansion and with the out buildings that consists of the slave house, general store, barn and the yard surrounding the property that each team would investigate separate areas of the property and structures simultaneously while one team would watch the camera monitors at our base within the mansion. We started our investigation around 6:00 p.m. with a walking tour of the mansion that was given by Nick Ferra. We started our set up around 7:00 p.m. We then proceeded to our investigation soon after dividing into teams. Team 1 consisted of me and Matt O’Quin, Team 2 consisted of Nathan Rasnick and Micki Nelson, Team 3 consisted of Dr. Stacy and Clayton Trout, Team 4 consisted of Aaron Shortridge and Kelly Warf, and Team 5 consisted of Mike Brown and Heather Lamantia. Nick Ferra assisted different teams throughout the night during the investigation. Each team was placed to investigate each of the buildings, with one team investigating the outside grounds surrounding the buildings, and one team monitoring our cameras back at base. Each team worked on a rotation changing their location about every 2 hours. We finished our investigation around 6:00 a.m. the following morning. This was a great experience and very helpful in our constant training.


  • (9) DVR’s (Digital Voice Recorders)
  • (3) Microcassette Recorders
  • (4) Zero Lux low lever IR (infra-red) cameras
  • (1) Panasonic handheld camcorder
  • (1) Sony handheld camcorder
  • (3) Kodak digital cameras
  • (1) Nikon camera
  • (1) Fuji digital camera
  • (1) Canon digital camera
  • (2) Samsung digital cameras
  • (1) Motion direction IR (infra-red) Field video/camera
  • (2) K2 Meters
  • (1) EMF (Electro Magnetic Field) Meter
  • (2) Laser Thermometers

     We placed (1) DVR (Digital Voice Recorder) in each of the areas of the property with reports or claims of paranormal activity; including the barn, general store, slave house. In the mansion we placed one in the children’s room, attic, master bedroom, pink room, basement, and the brides’ room. The (1) IR camera was placed in the attic, (1) was placed in the children’s room, (1) was placed in the master bedroom and (1) was placed in the brides’ room. (1) Panasonic handheld camcorder was placed in the basement and (1) Sony handheld camcorder was placed in the kitchen. (3) Microcassette Recorders were carried by three different teams during the investigation. Also, each team carried along with them during their investigations one of the following: K2 Meter, EMF (Electro Magnetic Field) Meter or Laser Thermometer.


Reports & Claims:

     There have been many tragic claims at this location that have allegedly ended in death. The murder of Joseph Joel Baker in his cabin where the mansion is located today According to court proceedings Mr. Baker was killed by his slaves. On May 6, 1784 the two slaves that were tried for Mr. Baker’s murder were hung from a hickory tree on a hill overlooking the mansion. Local legend has it that these slaves roam the hills surrounding Cedar Run to this day. They were buried in unmarked graves on the property. A clairvoyant has made claims of a woman that is described as the “women in white” that looks out the window of a room on the 2nd floor. This same clairvoyant reported to say the woman is wearing a wedding dress but these claims cannot be verified. Some speculate she is waiting for her fiancé that may have died during the Civil War. Many people have claims of hearing disembodied voices, being touched when no one touched them, seeing apparitions, objects moving on there on, the smell of pipe smoke when no one is smoking, and so on. The list is long and this maybe due to the mass amount of visitors throughout the world that come to this historical site to have a chance to experience such an amazing place.


Historical information was provided by the Major Graham Mansion History Brochure

Major Graham Mansion: History

            The Major David Graham Mansion is misnamed. It should be called the Squire David Graham Mansion in honor of the Major’s father! Squire David is the original mansion owner who amassed this 6000-acre estate, including 12 local iron furnaces, forge, gristmill, rolling mills, nail works, and a general store. He was part owner of the Wythe Union Lead Mine Company, served as Director of the Virginia Tennessee Railroad Company, and his picture can be found on the local paper currency of the time! Located in the Graham’s Forge community of northern Wythe County, the Major Graham Mansion and the Graham family’s haunting yet historical story is one the best-kept secrets in southwestern Virginia.

The Family

Squire David was born in 1800. In 1770, his father, Robert Graham, emigrated from County Down Ireland to the Locust Hill area of what is now Wythe County by way of Pennsylvania and North Carolina. He served one year in the Revolutionary War and was father to seven children from his first wife, Mary Craig, and eight by his second wife, Mary Cowan. Robert Graham was a gimlet maker, preacher, and operated an “ordinary” in what was then Montgomery County. Robert Graham died when David was 10 years old. His older half-brothers, James and Samuel Graham, and their uncle, Joseph McGavock, referred to as “the first James McGavock of Ft. Chiswell”, became guardians of David and his younger siblings. At age 26, Squire David purchased 2000 acres on Cedar Run Creek, various iron-making buildings, and a furnace from the Crockett Family and John Baker. Baker’s father, Joseph Joel Baker, was murdered at his cabin where the present day mansion is located. Indeed, according to Montgomery County court proceedings, Baker was killed by his slaves, “Bob” and “Sam” on May 6, 1784. Hung from a hickory tree on the hill overlooking the mansion, local lore has it that Bob and Sam “roam the hills surrounding Cedar Run to this very day”.

In 1835, Squire David married Martha Bell Peirce of nearby Poplar Camp. Their “often stormy union” produced eight children, although two died as infants. It is said by many locals that “the restless spirits of Martha and Squire David live on today at Cedar Run”. Major David Graham was their first-born child in 1838. He lived his entire life at Cedar Run and served as a Lieutenant in the Civil War. He formed the local 51st infantry regiment with his brother-in-law, John Robinson. The Major inherited the mansion and the Graham businesses; he also managed the Graham’s Forge store with Robinson. Major Graham married Nancy Montgomery Tate in 1868 and they raised eight children at Cedar Run. Their children are Elizabeth “Lizzy” Graham Sanders, David Graham, William Tate Graham, M.D., Patsy Peirce Graham Sanders, Charles Tate Graham, Katherine “Friel” Graham Fulton, James Montgomery Graham, and Robert Calvin Graham. Recently discovered and dated signatures of Friel, Lizzy, and Martha can be found on mansion walls, doors, and windows, “Nannie” Tate Graham, the descendent of a Native American chief, lived in the mansion until her death in 1921. The Graham family tree reveals yet another interesting tidbit. It seems that patriarch Robert Graham is Nannie Montgomery Tate Graham’s great grandfather from his first marriage and is Major David Graham’s grandfather from his second marriage!

Major Graham’s sister, Elizabeth “Bettie” Ann Graham Robinson, kept a diary during the Civil War. It reveals much about the Graham home life, especially the “often dark relationship” that existed between her parents. The Journal of Bettie Ann Graham, October 18, 1860 – June 21, 1862 is published and housed in the Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia. Seventh child of Major and Nannie Graham, Wytheville banker James “Jim” Montgomery Graham and his family, were the last of the Grahams to live in the mansion. They moved to Wytheville in the 1930s. Much of the known Graham history has been provided by Nannie Tate Graham, local historians Davy Davis and Mary Kegley, Catherine S. McConnell (Sanders Sage, 1972), and by Frederick “Rick” Graham, grandson of Major David Graham, who passed away in 1990.

Mansion Owners 1943 – Present

The foreman of the Grahams from the 1920s to 1943 was John Daniel Kirby. Born at Cedar Run, Kirby and his wife lived most of their lives there. According to his daughter, Katherine Kirby Akers of Ft. Chiswell, “my daddy always said, ‘the Grahams all had a heart for the less fortunate’”. Katherine’s sister Roberta Kirby was born in the nearby split-level log house (now the Chimney House Stage foundation) in 1921. In 1943 Reid Fulton, an eccentric Columbia University law professor and Independence Virginia native, purchased the mansion and 1000 acres from the Grahams. According to Mrs. Akers, Reid Fulton and her sister Roberta shared “a strong romantic interest”, however, “they did not marry out of faith”. Reid Fulton’s ownership of the mansion and grounds continued until the 1970s. Fulton is well remembered by many to this day. He is best known for his massive, 70,000-volume antique book collection, which filled the mansion walls from floor to ceiling. He is equally-remembered for his peculiar ways, such as bathing in Cedar Run Creek, eating buzzard eggs and out-of-date canned food, greeting front door guests with his shot gun, “roaming the mansion buck naked” or clothed in nothing but an old raincoat and boots, offering a boiled, fully intact possum to dinner guests, and driving an old two-ton truck sans the truck bed. Fulton never married and was childless.

His nephew, Samuel Frye, past vice-mayor of nearby Pulaski, was the executor of his estate. Frye’s granddaughter, Emily Swanger, visited the mansion as a young girl. According to Swanger, “Everything you have heard about Reid Fulton is true!” When she visited the mansion as a young girl, Swanger’s grandmother made her wear white gloves, long sleeves and pants, and she was forbidden to touch anything or sit on the furniture “for fear of germs”. She adds, “Reid bought the mansion because he wanted to have a house that was bigger than his brother John’s!” (John Fulton inherited the huge Fulton home place in Independence.)

Fulton sold the property to Dr. James L. Chitwood of Pulaski in 1974. Fulton was allowed to live “the rest of his days” at the mansion, however, he eventually moved to Wytheville and passed away there. Dr. Chitwood is recognized for placing the Major Graham Mansion on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984 and making much-needed repairs to the property.

In 1989, Josiah Cephas, “J.C.” Weaver purchased the Major Graham Mansion and the surrounding 1,000 acres. The mansion property joins his W.W. Ranch, thus creating a 4000-acre tract, which connects Interstate 77 with Interstate 81. Weaver has maintained the original architecture of the mansion and its surrounding buildings, grazed cattle in the pastures, and employed various workers over the years to protect the mansion from disrepair and vandalism. In 2006, Josiah rebuilt the mansion’s front porch in order to save the one-of-a-kind cast iron columns. He also cleared the debris from the old Carriage House to reveal a beautiful limestone foundation. Josiah then leveled up the ancient foundation and resurrected it as a stage for Josiah’s small annual July 4th picnic. As Josiah made these repairs, carloads of interested folks stopped to visit the mansion. It was then, during that hot summer of 2006, Josiah decided to host a yearly music festival, thus opening the mansion to the public for the very first time. From 2007 until 2009, “Josiah’s GrahamFest” welcomed thousands of guests to his Labor Day, music-packed festival. Beginning in 2010, Josiah’s GrahamFest is permanently “moved back” to July 4th. Also new in 2010 are spring and summer public mansion tours. For more information, please see


In 2007, the Virginia Paranormal Society (VPS) began performing formal investigations at the mansion. Over the course of three years, several paranormal groups have assisted VPS and collected hundreds of EVPs (i.e., electronic voice phenomena), and experienced paranormal contact at the mansion. VPS reports that many of its members have communicated with the dominant spirits of Martha Peirce Graham, Squire David Graham, and “Clara” a Civil War orphan who secretly lived (and died!) at the mansion. In addition, we have a collection of ghost stories and photos from the community as well as anecdotal reports from guest clairvoyants. Is the mansion haunted? Come and decide for yourself!

But if Halloween and horror are your passions, you will surely want to attend our Major Graham’s Haunted Mansion Spooktacular every October. Begun in 2009 the Spooktacular terrified THOUSANDS of guests! This annual ghostly event is open every weekend in October. As our guests reported last year ….. “Just driving down the road and seeing that mansion in the moonlight is scary!” “Major Grahams Mansion is the only Haunted Mansion that really IS haunted.” You decide…..if you dare!


  • Whitetail Deer Hunting, aka, “The Buck Stops Here” and Spring Gobbler Hunts, aka, “Let’s Talk Turkey”



  • Photography and Video Excursions


  • Property Leasing (We actually had incredible, C-R-A-Z-Y 2009 Halloween wedding!)


  • Seasonal RV Camping with onsite hiking trails and fishing


For more information contact us:

Mary Lin Brewer, Director




Personal Experiences:


Mike Brown, Nathan Rasnick & Micki Nelson

While doing the tour and walk thru we were at Clair’s room, I (Micki) and Mike were standing at the doorway and we both looked at each other and asked each other if we heard what the other one had. We both heard footsteps on the steps at her room. Mike went up and down the stairs and came back and told me no one was there.

Micki and Nathan had some activity in the Brides Room. We heard knocking that sounded like someone was in the next room (Christmas Room) and it repeated its self on a couple of occasions. That was when Nathan called Rodney over the radio and he said we were the only ones in the house. After a while it quit and we were leaving the room. As Nathan walked out of the brides’ room door his right arm only had chill bumps and his hair was standing straight up on his arm. He said he felt as if someone walked right past him to go into the room. He took some pics of the room from the hallway and also some out in the hallway.


Heather Lamantia

I had two experiences that stand out on this investigation. The first experience occurred in the General Store during the first round of the investigation. I was standing at in front of the counter, around the middle, and Mike Brown was sitting on a wooden bench about 2 feet away. As I was standing there we were doing some EVP work. I felt a touch on my left ankle, on the inner part. I said something to Mike and he used flashlight and K-2 meter and detected nothing. We resumed EVP work when I felt it again. Once again Mike saw no trace of anything and no unusual K-2 readings. He left the K-2 at my feet after this I felt it again. No traces. Unfortunately no K-2 registered, partly because it had shut itself off at some point after he put it there. Never saw any insects or anything. This was always at same spot on my inner left ankle. 

The second round of investigation I had a second experience. I was in the Confederate Room while doing EVP work with Dr. Stacy. We were both sitting on the floor on the right side of the room (as you’re entering the room on the right side). We were asking questions when I suddenly felt a chilly breeze on the left side of my body. I asked Dr. Stacy if she felt a breeze. She did not. We resumed questions. Once again I felt this same breeze along my left side. I asked some direct questions about this chilly breeze. I seemed to get a response with another chilly breeze at my side. We resumed our questioning, felt the breeze one last time. Dr. Stacy said she never felt a breeze in the room. The room was very stuffy, no windows open, no real way for a breeze to occur. I was not able to find a source for any breeze by natural causes.

These events are reported as truthfully as I recall them.


Rodney Shortridge & Matt O’Quin

First experience occurred while Matt and I were investigating the children’s room. Matt was to my left about 6 to 8 feet away sitting down as was I. Clayton had placed a plasma ball in the middle of the room as an experiment to see if it would attract any response to the light and the energy that it creates. Matt and I were focused on the plasma ball and discussing Clayton’s experiment. I began to notice a strange fainted white light in almost a square shape. It was moving very fast and floating above the plasma ball. The light moved to the floor up the wall around the ceiling and half way around the room before it disappeared moving very fast at times and slow to the point of floating. I asked Matt do you see that? His response was yes, what the hell is that! As I started to move from my chair the light disappeared as fast as it appeared. Matt and I checked the entire room with the K-2 meter to see if we could find any electromagnetic field disruptions and there was none. No cold spots. Matt checked the hallway outside the door to the children’s room to make sure no one was in the area with their flashlight on. There was no one in the hallway that a flash light that could have done what we had seen. Even light from outside was investigated and there were no passing car lights and all members were in there investigating locations. The only other members in the house were Aaron and Kelly watching the camera monitors. I got on the radio and asked them did they see anything on the camera that was located in the room and they reported back they didn’t see anything. We could not find any explanation for the light that we saw.

Second experience occurred while Matt, Nick and I were in the general store investigating. While in the general store Nick was sitting behind the counter about 6 feet away in front of me, Matt was to my left about 8 feet away sitting on a bench as was I. We were doing EVP work and asking questions and waiting for a response to one of the questions I asked do you know the town or county that was once called Jeffersonville? That is where I live. It is now called Tazewell and the county is also called Tazewell. Within a few seconds of my question we got a surprised response of a growl and everyone in the room heard it. I replied so I take it you don’t like the town? Again, we heard a low growl. Matt and Nick investigated the area while I went outside to check around the store to make sure there weren’t any animals nearby that may have made the growling sound. As I investigated the outside of the building I could not find any animals or explanation to the sound we heard. I went back inside to check with Matt and Nick to see if they found any evidence that could explain what we heard and they explained to me that they also could not find the source of the growl. This was an interesting experience to which we have no explanation. 



Photo evidence: There are photos with unexplained orbs and a dark area covering a child’s ball in the children’s room.

Video evidence: An unexplained figure or apparition walking outside by the basement door. Later, an orb can be seen that appears and disappears near the same door in the basement.

Note:  BDPS does not support the idea of orbs as evidence of the paranormal because most orbs can be explained away as dust, bugs, rain, mist, fog, etc. There are cases that the orbs we photograph seem to move with some type of intelligent intent. We post these photos because we feel that there needs to be more investigation into the Orb Phenomenon and we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss this phenomenon without further investigation and explanation. So we show these photos in an attempt to add another piece to the puzzle and leave this decision up to you to accept or dismiss orbs as evidence. It is also my opinion to show all evidence so we all can learn from what might be an area of the paranormal that may be getting over looked by researchers.

EVP’s (Electronic Voice Phenomenon)

We heard the following EVP’s (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) and unexplained noises on our DVR’s (Digital Voice Recorders) & Microcassette Recorder:


  • 2 Unexplained knocks
  • 2 Unexplained breaths
  • Unexplained sound, maybe bullfrog
  • Unexplained noise
  • Unexplained breath and knock


  • Unexplained noise
  • Unexplained Female whisper (inaudible)
  • Unexplained knocking and a yell
  • Unexplained whisper (Hey) and a click
  • Unexplained whisper (inaudible)

Brides Room:

  • Unexplained whisper (inaudible)

Children’s Room:

  • Unexplained Female voice (Justin)
  • Unexplained noise
  • Unexplained knock
  • Unexplained loud bang
  • Unexplained whisper (Brad)
  • Unexplained whisper and a low moan or whisper
  • Unexplained loud click
  • Unexplained noise (sounds like something drops and hits the floor, but no one was in the house at the time)

Master Bedroom:

  • Unexplained voice
  • Unexplained scratching, breath and whisper
  • Unexplained voice (inaudible)
  • Unexplained Female voice (Right)

Slave House:

  • Unexplained noise
  • Unexplained footsteps



     We have come to the conclusion that the Major Graham Mansion has very high paranormal activity in the forms of EVP’s, interesting photographic orbs, unexplained dark mass, audio and video evidence which showed an unexplained apparition, and unexplained formation of lights or orbs and personal experiences that helped us to determine our conclusion.

           I look forward to our next investigation. If anyone would like for us to do a paranormal investigation of their home, business, church, property or a family cemetery please contact us. If you would just like to speak with us about any paranormal activity you may be having we would love to hear from you. No problem is too small. We would be honored to help and we do not charge for our services. Contact BDPS to set up a time and place for us to discuss your paranormal questions and or problems.

            I feel honored to be working with such a great team. Without the team’s hard work and professionalism BDPS would not be what it has become today.


*Check out our Website:

I would like to thank all of the BDPS members for all their hard work. To all of our clients, a special ‘thank you’ for giving us the opportunity to be able to come in and help to the best of our abilities. I know with the team that I have formed we will have exciting investigations in the future. I would like to let everyone know that our members have become more to me than just investigators, they have become my family. Without them BDPS would not be possible. Just like a family we sometimes agree and sometimes we don’t agree but each and every member of BDPS is very special to me. Thanks guys, you all are the best!!!

     I hope everyone enjoys the photos and the analysis sheet along with the new video we are providing. Also we will have our EVP’s, photos and any video evidence on the website for everyone to view and listen to. You can judge for yourself. If anyone has any questions or comments we would love to hear from you. Let us know what you think.

Thank you,

Rodney Shortridge

Founder/Lead Investigator

Black Diamond Paranormal Society


Heather Lamantia

Case Manager