William Wortham Pool

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William Wortham Pool (April 1842 – 1922) was an American bookkeeper. His name and burial site became synonymous with legend and folklore surrounding the supernatural due to a railroad tunnel cave-in that occurred in the Richmond, Virginia, district of Church Hill on October 2, 1925.

He was born in Mississippi, the son of Samuel Pool (1806–1872) and Nancy Rose Wortham (1819–1873). His siblings were John R. Pool (1840–?); Thomas Pool (1844–?); Albert Pool (1847–?); and Dirdus Pool (1850–?).[1] His father was a merchant and, in 1860, William was a clerk in Jackson.[2]

In the 1860s, Pool moved to Virginia. He was a clerk in a tobacco factory in Manchester, in 1870.[3] In 1880[4] and 1900,[5] he was a bookkeeper. He was working as a private secretary in 1910;[6] then as a bookkeeper again in 1920 in Richmond.[7]

In c. 1866, he and Alice Purdue (December 1842–?) were married. They had four children, Lawrence P. Pool (c. 1867–?); Annie W. Pool (October 1872–?); Samuel Pool (March 1875–?); and Mary L. Pool (July 1881–?). His wife and children were all born in Virginia.

William W. Pool died at age 80. He is interred in Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond.


In 1925, there was a massive tunnel collapse on the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad's Church Hill Tunnel in Church Hill, burying a handful of rail workers alive. Legend has it that shortly after the cave-in a creature emerged from the hole covered in blood with jagged teeth and rolls of skin hanging from its muscular frame, fresh from a flesh feast.

The being then raced off toward the James River and was pursued until it disappeared in a tomb carved into a hill in Hollywood Cemetery, labeled W.W. Pool. William Wortham Pool was an accountant who died three years earlier, and his name became synonymous with the fabled Richmond Vampire.

Documents and periodicals confirm that the tunnel collapsed and a living being crawled from the wreckage. But it was a burly C&O Railway employee, Benjamin F. Mosby, who was loading coal into the firebox of a train when the accident occurred and the boiler ruptured.

Mosby's upper body was badly burned and several teeth were broken before he made his way to the cavern's opening. Witnesses reported that the man was in shock and some layers of his skin were hanging off his body. He died at Grace Hospital within the next day; from there the story took on a life of its own through decades of oral history.


  1. ^ 1850 Hinds Co., MS, U.S. Federal Census, December 14, Sheet 445, Page 223, Line 26.
  2. ^ 1860 Hinds Co., MS, U.S. Federal Census, City of Jackson, June 2, Sheet 6, p. 478, Line 36.
  3. ^ 1870 Chesterfield Co., VA, U.S. Federal Census, Manchester, June 21, Sheet 26 B, Page 333 B, Line 19, William W. Pool, Clerk in Tobacco Factory.
  4. ^ 1880 Chesterfield Co., VA, U.S. Federal Census, Manchester, June 7, Sheet 2 B, Page 123 B, Line 25, William W. Pool, Book Keeper.
  5. ^ 1900 Chesterfield Co., VA, U.S. Federal Census, Manchester Ward 2, 900 Bainbridge St., June 9, Enumeration Dist. 51, Sheet 8 B, p. 222 B, Line 88, William W. Pool, Book Keeper.
  6. ^ 1910 Chesterfield Co., VA, U.S. Federal Census, Manchester Dist., April 29, Enumeration Dist. 6, Sheet 17 A, Page 93 A, Line 6, W.W. Pool, Private Secretary, Land Company.
  7. ^ 1920 Henrico Co., VA, U.S. Federal Census, Richmond Madison Ward, 721 W. 28th St., January 16, Enumeration Dist. 163, Sheet 14 A, Page 292 A, Line 47, W.W. Pool, Book Keeper.

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