An abandoned outbuilding that used to sit north of Oklahoma Lake near County Line Road inspired stories of the occult. The area, known as The Witch, provided the inspiration for a new book from a former Windsor resident.
The book, titled “The Witch,” is written under the author’s pen name W.C. James, “but everyone calls me Bill,” he said.
When James was in the sixth grade circa 1980, he said The Witch was a local legend surrounded by tales of animal mutilations and strange rituals. People would tell stories of dead animals found in the area that had been sacrificed or stories of people being accosted by robe-wearing devil worshippers, he said.
The remote area near the boundary between Weld and Larimer counties was also a popular place to ride motorcycles and for the high school kids to drink beer without being hassled by their parents or the police.
“People in Windsor that were there during that time frame will remember that,” James said.
A lonely outbuilding building stood out in the area, tempting local kids to dare each other to check out the house or peek in through the cobwebbed windows, he said.
“I remember my dad and his redneck buddies driving up there looking for anything,” James said.
By time James was in high school, he said the strange occurrences on the property waned, but the kids continued to pass down the stories to scare freshmen and younger kids.
James said the stories of the remote area fascinated him. He carried that fascination with him as he grew up, until it became the inspiration for a fictional horror novel, set in Windsor in 1983.
Back then, he said the area and the rest of Windsor looked much different than today.
“In 1980, Windsor had about 4,200 people. It was a much smaller place,” James said. “Nothing was in that area back then, it was a much more remote place than it is now.”
Today the site is still a large field, but is surrounded by development. To the north, residential homes have been built and the Walmart distribution center sits nearby. In the years since James’ graduation, he said the outbuilding has vanished from the property and no longer stands in the field.
“Whoever owned the land was probably fed up with (the attention),” he said. “Now there are golf courses and subdivisions, but it used to be desolate.”
James graduated from Windsor High School in 1987. He said he remained connected to the community and still has many friends who still live in Windsor.
After graduation, James attended Colorado State University but continued to live in the Widnsor area through his mid-20s, before he eventually moved to Fort Collins, where he currently lives with his wife and two kids.
“The Witch” is James’ fourth novel, and his first attempt at the horror genre, James said, and took him about a year and a half to write.
“I’ve always been a fan of the horror films and Stephen King stuff, but I had never taken a stab at horror,” James said. “It was always something I wanted to try, and this seemed like the perfect starting place.”
His other books fall into the general fiction category, he said. They include: “Echoes from the Playground,” about two boys’ rivalry in small town based on Windsor; “I, Robert,” based on James’ experiences in college; and “Moby Hick,” a parody of the Herman Melville classic, “Moby Dick.”
James has also written two other non-fiction books.
“I have to say, it was a lot of fun to write,” he said. The book includes elements of suspense, peril and strange and supernatural aspects, he said.
“For Windsor readers, there will certainly be quite a bit of nostalgia for those folks, and a glimpse into Windsor’s past for the newer folks,” he said. “Part of my motivation is to preserve some of this folklore. I think it was very interesting and would be a shame to lose. It makes the town more interesting and it’s part of Windsor’s history that could’ve been lost in future generations.”