Ozbirn presents history, skill at RPL

October is a notably spooky season with Halloween being a main focus, and the Russellville Public Library is hosting a speaker with a topic that might give some that creepy-crawly feeling: grave dowsing.

Franklin County Archives director Chris Ozbirn will be speaking Oct. 18 about three of the most historical things about Franklin County, along with grave dowsing, a process by which one can discover unmarked graves.

Ozbirn said grave dowsing requires two items: two metal coat hangers. The top loop that would go over a rod is cut off, and the remaining hanger is straightened out. One end of the hanger is then bent to form a handle.

To grave dowse, a person would let the handles rest in their hands lightly as they hold the coat hangers out in front of their body. If a grave is beneath the coat hangers, they will begin to cross over each other on their own.

“I always walk north and south because graves are east and west,” Ozbirn said.

To determine the length of the grave, the person must then walk until the coat hangers uncross themselves. Grave dowsing can also be used to determine the gender of the body, Ozbirn said.

Ozbirn learned this skill from two women from Texas, who visited the archives years ago.

“I’ve been doing this since 2005,” Ozbirn said. “I’ve done it from Mississippi to North Carolina.”

Library director Ashley Cummins said she is excited for Ozbirn to speak on these topics, well-suited to the month of October.

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