Thursday, January 17, 2019

Ep. 289 - The Colosseum

Moment in Oddity - SS Warrimoo at International Date Line
Suggested by: Breanne Sanford

You've probably heard of the International Date Line. If you haven't, the International Date Line is an imaginary line that defines one day from the next and is located halfway around the world from the prime meridian, about 180 degrees east of Greenwich, London. And it zigzags from the North Pole to the South Pole. When you cross the International Date Line from west to east, you subtract a day, and if you cross the line from east to west, you add a day. A very curious thing happened at the International Date Line on December 31 in 1899. The SS Warrimoo, which was a passenger steamer, was making its way from Vancouver to Australia. The navigator had just figured out where the ship was located by using the stars and he went to tell the captain, whom realized that the coordinates the navigator gave him meant that the ship was approaching both the International Date Line and the Equator.  The captain called all the navigators together and had them recheck everything and once he was sure they were indeed at this position, he called for the engines to be slowed. At midnight, the SS Warrimoo lay on the Equator at exactly the point where it crossed the International Date Line and the captain quickly announced to everybody what an unusual thing was happening. The forward part of the ship was sitting in the Southern Hemisphere, while the back was in the Northern Hemisphere. That meant the boat was in two seasons, summer and winter. That wasn't all. The date in the rear of the ship was December 31, 1899 while the date in the forward part of the ship was January 1, 1900. And notice the years: 1899 and 1900. So the SS Warrimoo was in two different seasons, two different months, two different days, two different years and two different centuries all at the same time and that, certainly was odd!

This Month in History - Robert Clifton Weaver Becomes First Black Cabinet Member

In the month of January, on the 18th, in 1966, Robert Clifton Weaver was sworn in as the first black cabinet member in U.S. history. President Johnson had assumed the presidency in 1963 after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and he won election to the office in 1964. In 1965, he created the new agency, Housing and Urban Development more commonly known as H.U.D. He appointed Weaver to be its secretary making him the first black to be appointed to a US cabinet-level position. Weaver attended Harvard and eventually obtained a doctorate in economics in 1934. He would first step into politics with President Roosevelt and serve as an informal advisor on his Black Cabinet. He served as a State Cabinet member in new York and eventually joined President Kennedy's administration as Administrator of the Housing and Home Finance Agency. Weaver was perfect for the HUD secretary because he had been dealing with substandard housing for People of Color since 1930. He wrote an article entitled "Negroes Need Housing" after the Stock Market Crash. Weaver went on to become president of Baruch College and then a professor at Hunter College in New York. He died at the age of 89 in Manhattan in 1997.

The Colosseum

Rome is a city that is believed to have had some kind of human existence within it for at least 10,000 years. This city would rise from a place of little stature to one of the greatest empires ever to exist. Amazing structures would be built under that empire. The Colosseum in Rome, Italy was an architectural marvel, but also a place of immense human and animal suffering. People would come from all over to witness amazing feats by human gladiators and to witness the tearing apart of other humans at the hands of wild animals. This was considered sport at that time and the remnants of this activity and the residue left behind has imprinted spiritually on The Colosseum. Tales of hauntings are rampant and this structure is said to be one of the most haunted locations in all of Italy. Join me as I explore the history and hauntings of The Colosseum!

The founding of Rome is something of legend. The city of Rome is named for Romulus. Romulus had a twin named Remus. The legend around these boys is that their mother was Rhea Silvia who was the daughter of Numitor, king of Alba Longa. Numitor's younger brother, Amulius, had deposed him and he wanted to make sure that no grandchildren from Rhea could ascend to the throne, so he forced her to become one of the Vestal Virgins. The war god Mars was taken with Rhea though and got her pregnant with Remus and Romulus. When Amulius found out about this, he ordered the babies to be drowned in the Tiber River. A trough was made and placed on the river, but rather than sink, it floated away. It hit land where Rome would eventually be built. The legend then claims that the boys were suckled by a she-wolf and then fed by a woodpecker. Both of these animals were said to be sacred to Mars, so the thought is that he sent them to take care of his children. A herdsman eventually found them and raised them. The young men, killed their great-uncle and restored their grandfather to the throne. The two founded Rome and Romulus built a city wall. When Remus jumped over it, Romulus killed him. Romulus would go on to rule and then disappear mysteriously leaving the Romans to claim that he became a god.

The legend is interesting and the image of babes suckling under a she-wolf is famous, but the truth is more like a bunch of little villages coming together into a great city that eventually fell under the rule of kings for nearly 250 years. In 509 BC, an oligarchical republic was established, but there was a lot of struggle between the aristocracy and the small landowners. Rome would go to war over and over and conquer many areas, but internal strife would continue. Between 60 and 53 BC, the first Triumvirate was formed that eventually would see Julius Caesar as sole leader of Rome with a Roman Senate that generally opposed him. Caesar was assassinated and his son Augustus would become the first emperor in Rome.

Rome had grown from a small town to a powerful empire. Caligula, Claudius and Nero would follow as emperors and this golden era of Roman rule by emperors would continue until 192 AD. Other emperors would follow, but Rome was in decline. By 410 AD, the bloated Roman Empire began its collapse. The system was broken and unsustainable because it was becoming far too expensive. What was left of Ancient Rome is just ruins today. And among these ruins is one of the most magnificent man-made structures I have had the pleasure of visiting in person and that is the Roman Colosseum.

This structure was officially known as the Flavian Ampitheater. The name Colosseum is thought to have been derived from a gigantic bronze statue of Nero that was adjacent to the ampitheater and known as Colossus. And for those who don't know, the word ampitheater described the shape of The Colosseum. Most theaters were not in the round, they were semi-circular. An ampitheater was the bringing together of two theaters to make this circular shape. The Colosseum was commissioned around A.D. 70-72 by Emperor Vespasian of the Flavian dynasty as a gift to the Roman people. The site had been where Nero had built a personal palace for himself known as the Golden Palace. This was a reflection of the decadence of Nero until a fire burned it down in 64 A.D. Vespasian and his two sons would be emperors who would tone down the excesses of the Roman court, restore Senate authority and do more for the welfare of the Roman people. Building the Colosseum was one such gesture of good will. It would take only ten years to build the massive structure and it was dedicated by Vespasian’s son Titus in 80 A.D. The grand opening stretched out over 100 days. These days were filled wild animal fights and combats between gladiators. The ampitheater could hold up to 50,000 people and not only could they witness bloody fights to the death, they could watch mock sea-fights. This was accomplished by filling the arena with water, which was a technical marvel at the time.

Another technical wonder of The Colosseum was a retracting cover that could protect from the sun and the rain. When you look up to the upper walls, you can still see the structures in place that were used to hold this awning. No one knows who the architect of the Colosseum was or even if it was only one person or a group of men. The arena was set to measure 300 x 180 Roman feet. A Roman foot was around a half inch shorter than a full foot. The ideal ratio of the period was considered to be 5:3. The measurements for the ampitheater are interesting in that the width of the arena, equaled the height of the external facade. There is a harmonious rhythm to the structure that is seen in the three storeys of superimposed arches with Tuscan, Ionic and Corinthian columns and then a fourth storey had Corinthian pilaster strips and windows. The Colosseum was built from marble-veneered travertine and had four storeys of seating. Our modern use of multiple entrances that are numbered and separate assigned sections began back with The Colosseum, so it really was the first stadium. The upper classes had the best seats with the commoners and women in the topmost sections or nosebleeds as we like to call them. (I personally think the balcony seats are the best anyway.)

The decor on the outside featured gilded bronze shields and arches filled with painted statues of emperors and gods. There were two grand entrances, one at each end of the minor axis, that were used by the emperor and other members of the elite ruling class. Inside, the ceilings were painted stucco and the walls were polished marble slabs. The closest seats were raised two meters above the ground and there was a safety fence to protect spectators. And they were all packed in like sardines. Ans what they witnessed was a level of cruelty we can only try to fathom. The sand on the arena floor was usually dyed red to hide the presence of blood. The floor was above a system of tunnels and trapdoors that were an engineering marvel. Trapdoors would flip open to allow animals to enter the arena. Down in these tunnels, it was completely dark. The air was dank. This is where the slaves, gladitors and animals were kept as they awaited almost certain death. Initially, these tunnels were not a part of the Colosseum that opened under Titus. His brother Domitian had this underworld area built.

So how exactly did they get the animals from the tunnels up into the trap doors that would get them into the arena? There were a series of winches and the capstans that teams of slaves would have to work together to get hoisted up from the basement to the main arena. There are still bronze fittings in the basement's floor. There were a variety of games that took place here with the most well known being gladiator fights. Now when I say gladiator, that's a very generalized term because there were many types of gladiators. There were gladiators who were thracian, secutor, retiarius, or bestiarius and each had their own armor and weapons. Imagine different forms of martial arts. The term gladiator is taken from the word for the Roman sword gladius. They would all swear this oath before entering the arena, “I will endure to be burned, to be bound, to be beaten, and to be killed by the sword.” Types of gladiators can be found here:

Chariot races were occasionally conducted in the Colosseum although much of the time they would be staged at a place like Circus Maximus. There were animal hunts that obviously were horribly one-sided. There were dangerous animals such as lions, tigers, bears, elephants, leopards, hippopotamuses and bulls, so they at least had a chance, but defenseless animals were also used like deer, ostriches, giraffes and even whales. Hundreds, sometimes even thousands of animals, were butchered in a single day. Another main event at the Colosseum was the killing of Christians. The Romans were polytheistic and didn't like the religion of the monotheistic Christians. Christians would be arrested and brought to the arena where they would be placed out in the open and await attacks from wild animals that were unleashed on them. Sometimes they were shot with arrows and sometimes they were even roasted over a fire. 

The Colosseum had a long run, being used for nearly 400 years. After it stopped being used, it fell into disrepair and parts of it were dismantled over time to be used as building materials. Stones from the Colosseum can be found at the cathedrals of St Peter and St John Lateran, the Palazzo Venezia and the defense wall on the Tiber River. Today, there is only about a third of the original structure still intact. And the main reason for even what is left to still stand is because the Catholic Church protected it. This was considered a sacred place since so many Christians were martyred here.

The cruelty and death that happened here has left behind a myriad of emotional residue and probably attracted negative entities. And that makes for a good environment for hauntings. 400,000 people died here and probably a million animals. Those animals can be heard today through disembodied growling. There are other unexplained sounds like those of a crowd of people cheering and yelling. There are disembodied screams and the sounds of gladiator battles. Night guards claim to hear weeping in the vault area. And the vault area is supposedly the most active part of the Colosseum.

There are plenty of full-bodied apparitions too. One of the most popular is a Roman soldier that still guards the Colosseum. He is seen in full armor and holding his shield. The weird thing is that he is colorless save for his shirt, which is red. Spirits have also been seen walking up and down the stairs. Several visitors and staff claim to see people sitting in various seats around the arena. And several have been seen and heard in the tunnels, some of whom look like gladiators waiting to come out to fight and probably die.

And there are those who claim to have been touched. Many claim that the touch feels like a shove or push. And there are cold spots even in the middle of August. One area that is notorious for cold spots is where the Romans placed their bets on the outcomes of the various competitions.

So much pain breeds emotional residue. Fear feeds the negative. Did the fear and pain and death leave behind hauntings? Is The Colosseum haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Ep. 288 - Tutwiler Hotel

Moment in Oddity - Alien Hand Syndrome
Suggested by: John Michaels

Have you ever felt like you are out of control of your body? Or at least a part of your body? I'm sure many of you have found yourself suffering a nervous twitch in a muscle or eyelid or some other weirdness. Now imagine that it is a limb that you have no control over. There are people who experience their limbs acting seemingly on their own and they feel helpless to stop it. This condition is referred to as Dr. Strangelove Syndrome or Alien Hand Syndrome (AHS). The part of the body most often affected is the left hand and mpst commonly, a person having an issue with AHS will find their hand reaching out and grabbing objects without them actually wanting to manipulate the object. It just happens on its own. And the sufferer usually has to use the hand they have control of to stop the other hand from doing what it is doing. This would seem quite comical, like something from the vaudeville stage, if it weren't a real condition. Most cases of AHS occur in people whom have had the two hemispheres of their brain surgically separated. Sometimes the affliction results after a stroke, infection, aneurysm, migraine or brain surgery. Alien Hand Syndrome certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Zulu War Begins

In the month of January, on the 12th, in 1879, the Zulu War began. This was a war between the British Empire and the people of Zululand in South Africa. The British troops were lead by Lord Chelmsford and the Zulu were lead by the man who became their king in 1872, Cetshwayo. The Zulu were unwilling to submit to British rule and Cetshwayo formed an army of 60,000 men. The British also wanted the Zulu to provide labour in the diamond fields of Southern Africa. The British led two invasion during the war that lasted for nearly six months. The Zulu had early success, but the second invasion ended with a decisive defeat of the Zulu. Nearly 7,000 Zulu were killed during the war. Cetshwayo was the last king of an independent Zulu Kingdom and infighting would split those left after the war. Cetshwayo died a few years later.

Tutwiler Hotel (Suggested by: Jonathan Geisel)

The Hampton Inn and Suites in Birmingham is an upscale hotel with a long history. This is the former Tutwiler Hotel and the former Ridgely Apartments. This was not the original Tutwiler Hotel. That one was built in 1914 on a different spot and eventually demolished in 1974. The Tutwiler was built in a grandiose style to attract the steel industry to come to town for conventions. This worked and Birmingham soon became a convention destination. The city felt the loss of the hotel when it was demolished and so it was decided to renovate the historic luxury Ridgely Apartments and reopen it as the new Tutwiler Hotel. And it is this location where the namesake for the hotel is reputedly still hanging around in the afterlife. Join me as we explore the history and hauntings of the Tutwiler Hotel.

In episode 142, we featured the Sloss Furnaces, which are located in Birmingham. In that episode, we talked about the city of Birmingham and how it became a center for industry after the Civil War based on the fact that iron ore, limestone and coal were abundant here. As a symbol of that industry, the city made a 55 foot cast-iron statue that was displayed at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904. They named it Vulcan and today it can be found in its own park and has recently been refurbished. Vulcan is the second-tallest metal statute in America, after the Statue of Liberty. Birmingham was founded in 1871 by the Elyton Land Company. The shareholders of this company were the founders of Birmingham and included southern entrepreneurs. It would only make sense that an entrepreneur would want to build a hotel to convince the American Iron and Steel Institute to have its annual convention in Birmingham. That entrpreneur was Robert Jemison, Jr.

Robert Jemison, Jr. was said to be the greatest real estate developer of Birmingham’s 20th century and a local paper called him “Mr. Birmingham.” And just a brief list of the places he built, backs up this claim. These locations include Mountain Brook Club, Mountain Brook Village, Empire Building, Stallings Building, The Old Mill, Elmwood Cemetery, Redmont Gardens Apartments, Mountain Brook Grammar School, Mountain Brook Riding Academy, the Newberry Building, the Ridgely Apartments and the original Tutwiler Hotel. Jemison was born in Georgia in 1802. In 1826, his family moved to Alabama and he joined them. He turned his eyes to politics and served in the Alabama state legislature from 1840 to 1863. He was a Confederate States Senator from 1863 to 1865. Jemison made most of his money from his plantations and he owned over 100 slaves across six plantations. Obviously, the Civil War hit his interests hard and he lost his mansion and many other businesses. That didn't stop him from continuing to want to build things and in 1913, he came up with a plan for the Tutwiler Hotel.

There was a lack of “adequate modern hotels” in the city of Birmingham at that time. But obviously, Jemison was in need of major capital. He approached George Crawford, president of the Tennessee Coal, Iron, and Railroad Company, and asked him to become the president of the hotel company. Crawford said he would as long as Jemison would oversee the finances and construction for this new hotel. Once that was set, the two men knew they needed to find someone with money. They went to see the head of the Tutwiler Coal and Coke Company, Major/Colonel Edward Tutwiler, (served in Confederate army during Civil War) whom had also once been the superintendent of several of the Sloss Furnaces' mines. They were hoping he would invest in the hotel and he agreed to the tune of $1,850,000. Tutwiler asked that the hotel be named for his family. Another investor was W.P. Harding, but apparently not at a high enough level to have the Harding added to the name.

A lot was found on the southeast corner of 20th Street and 5th Avenue North and the contracting firm Wells Brothers & Company of New York City began construction in 1913. The design was created by two architects, W.L. Stoddard and W. Welton, and was unique in that there were no rooms that were completely in the interior. All bedrooms were on the outer side of the building so that ample sunlight would stream inside. There was a large beautiful lobby with balconies overlooking it from two mezzanine levels. There were two entrances to the lobby; one was a marble public corridor that was at the center of the 20th Street facade, and the other was a ladies’ entrance on the 5th Avenue side. Originally there were 343 rooms and eight large rooms that opened to make the “Grand Ball Room” which could accommodate 1,200 people. The United Hotels Company became the lessee of the hotel and they brought in trained employees and furnished the hotel when it was completed in 1914.

More than 8,000 people dressed in their formal wear turned out for the grand opening. The Tutwiler would become famous for hosting big events like a press conference for Charles Lindbergh and actress Tallulah Bankhead’s post-wedding bash and other celebrities and politicians over the next 60 years. Before long it was known as an "Outstanding Hotel of the South." Birmingham became a convention city thanks to the hotel and the Tutwiler did indeed host the American Iron and Steel Institutes convention.The hotel even managed to weather Birmingham's decision to become a dry city in 1915 and turned the hotel's drinking bar into a milk bar. (On a side note, I decided to Google milk bar and Tutwiler to get an idea of what exactly was served at a milk bar. My results educated me on the fact that there is a Tutwiler Prison in Alabama and that female inmates have a lactation room designated for them there.)

The beauty of the hotel eventually faded and by the 1960s it was becoming rundown. A facelift was attempted, but the hotel just paled in comparison to the other buildings in the downtown area around it. In 1974, The Tutwiler was imploded to make room for the First Alabama Bank. For the next twelve years, The Tutwiler Hotel was absent from the city. In 1985, the city of Birmingham was awarded the Urban Development Act Grant that gave them $895,000. They combined this with $12 million in private funding and was spearheaded by Temple Tutwiler III, Major Tutwiler's great grandson, to go forward with a plan to renovate the Ridgely Apartments and convert them into the new Tutwiler Hotel. As stated earlier, Robert Jemison had also built this building. The Ridgely Apartments were originally a 9-story luxury apartment building at 2021 Park Place near Linn Park. The project was developed in 1913 by Jemison and Tutwiler. The building is made from brick with limestone and terra-cotta details and was designed by Tennessee-born J. E. R. Carpenter. The new Tutwiler opened for business in 1986. The hotel underwent another even more extensive renovation that was completed in 2007 at a cost of $9.2 million. There are 149 rooms with 53 suites, a fitness center, signature restaurant and business center. This renovation was undertaken by hotel developer Bill Murray of Integral Hospitality Solutions. Interwest Capital now owns the hotel and is managed by New Orleans-based HRI Lodging and known as the Hampton Inn & Suites Birmingham-Downtown-Tutwiler.

And that is where the story would end for the Tutwiler, except for those nagging claims of a ghost in the hotel. It would seem that Major Tutwiler was not willing to let go of the buildings that were a part of his history. The Ridgely Apartments may not have been the original Tutwiler, but they had a connection to him other than him just funding the building of them. Tutwiler lived in the luxury apartments. And it would seem he has decided to stay and perhaps he feels even more at home since the building took on the name of the Tutwiler Hotel. Guests and staff have all told storeis of experiences with a spirit that most believe belongs to Tutwiler. In 1995, a bartender claimed to have many experiences. He had gotten in trouble with management after they claimed that he had left the lights on in the bar for over a week. He was stunned when they called him in for a lecture about proper lock-up procedures. He said that he always turned the lights off when he left. That evening he flicked off the lights, but returned a little later to make sure they were off. He found them on. He turned them off again and returned later to find them on yet again. This happened four times that evening. And then it happened for five nights in a row. Then the weirdest thing happened. When he returned to check the lights on the sixth night, he found a multi-course meal with wine and candles waiting for him.

From that point on, the staff have taken to running through a ritual to appease the spirit of Major Tutwiler. The staff address the ghost of Major Tutwiler every night at closing with the words: “Good night Major! Please turn the lights and stove off, and don’t make a mess!” No one has found a multi-course meal waiting for them again and the lights generally remain off throughout the evening. But Tutwiler may not be the only spirit here. Guests report hearing knocking on their doors in the middle of the night, usually on the sixth floor. These knocks are usual loud and rapid and when guests go to the door, they find no one there. This ghost has been nicknamed The Knocker and is believed to be a male spirit because only women staying in a room alone have had these knocking experiences. But I've read other accounts that claim a young girl is responsible.

Kim Johnston, founder of SCARe, Spirit Communications and Research of Alabama, who has investigated The Tutwiler, said,  “I can confirm there is a little girl’s spirit who haunts several floors there. We caught audio of a little girl saying ‘knock, knock’ in a sweet little voice.” During World War I, a family lived on the sixth floor—a father, mother and little girl. The father was a soldier and killed in battle. Shortly after, the mother died of tuberculosis. That left the little girl an orphan. It’s possible the child ended up in a nearby orphanage, which burned down soon after and there is the theory that she died in that fire and then returned to her former home. Edward Wolfgang Poe who runs the Birmingham Historic Touring Company said, “Staff have seen on security cameras a little girl in a long dress and pigtails skipping up and down the halls on the sixth floor. They see people walk by without acknowledging her. Some have seen her turn and walk into a room without opening a door.”

So is the spirit of Major Tutwiler here? Are there other spirits poking around this historic building? Is the Tutwiler Hotel haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Ep. 287 - The House of the Seven Gables

Moment in Oddity - Three Cages on St. Lamberti Church Spire
Suggested by: Kim Gasiorowski

For almost 500 years, St. Lamberti Church has had some rather odd objects hanging from its spire. They are a reminder of a terrible time when an Anabaptist Rebellion rocked the German city of Münster. The Anabaptists were a Christian sect that held the belief that only willing baptism as an adult could get a person into Heaven. Because of this belief, they were not only considered to be heretics, but their children were said to be unsaved. They also believed in a communal form of government where wealth should be shared equally. Even though Catholics and Lutherans were at odds during this time in the 16th century, they both were against the Anabaptists. A preacher in the city named Bernhard Rothman didn't like the Catholic control of the city of Munster and he joined the Anabaptists and preached their ideals from his pulpit at St. Lamberti Church. The angry citizens supported the Anabaptists and many Catholics and Lutherans fled, fearing for their lives. Rule under the Anabaptists led to polygamy, the burning of all books except the Bible and Corporal punishment was meted out for trivial offenses against the new hierarchy. In June of 1535, Catholic Bishop von Waldeck gathered a mercenary army and laid siege to the city. They succeeded and arrested three rebel leaders: Jan Matthijs, an Anabaptist preacher from Leiden in the Netherlands and his two closest followers, Bernd Knipperdollink and Bernd Knechting. The three men were tortured and mutilated before being killed. Three iron cages were fashioned, big enough for the men's bodies and these cages were hung from the spire of the St. Lamberti Church as a warning to any other would-be rebels. The remains were left in the cages for 50 years. In 1800, the original tower was demolished and rebuilt and the cages were put back in place where they remain today and that, certainly is odd!.

This Month in History - Unabomber Kills First Victim

In the month of December, on the 10th, in 1985, the Unabomber killed his first victim. Bombings by the Unabomber began in 1978, but he wouldn't kill anybody until 1985. Computer store owner Hugh Scrutton would be that first death. Scrutton found a package in the parking lot of his store. He was killed when he opened it. The bomb was sophisticated and meant to do great harm as it was filled with nails and splinters. The FBI had already been looking for the domestic terrorist for several years as he had already sent or planted several bombs at this point. This search would be the longest and most expensive in FBI history. The Unabomber was finally identified and captured in 1996. He was Ted Kaczynski and it would be his brother David who would tip off the government after recognizing his brothers writing style and opinions in the Unabomber Manifesto after it was published in newspapers. Kaczynski was sentenced to life without parole. In total, he injured 23 people and killed three. The name Unabomber was created by the FBI and was an acronym created from University and Airline Bomber.

The House of the Seven Gables (Suggested by: Nicole Cardarelli)

Most of my adult listeners have probably read something written by classic author Nathaniel Hawthorne. Nearly all schools require a reading of "The Scarlet Letter." Hawthorne also wrote other classic stories and one of those books is "The House of the Seven Gables." Within the pages of this volume is a ghost story. Hawthorne himself claimed to be a skeptic, but even he had some experiences. And the house he wrote about was not a fiction. It is a real home that can be found in Salem, Massachuesetts. Apparently, it's not just the novel that claims that the location is haunted. Visitors and staff to the now museum, claim to have had experiences they cannot explain. Join me as we explore the beliefs of Nathaniel Hawthorne and the history and hauntings of The House of the
Seven Gables!

In July of 2017, I did a bonus episode for the Executive Producers of this podcast that featured the Boston Athenaeum. This was an exclusive membership-only library and many classical authors were members. These were writers like Henry David Thoreau, Henry Wordsworth Longfellow and Nathaniel Hawthorne. In the BonusCast, I detail a supernatural experience that Hawthorne claimed to have one day while in the nation's oldest library. He published this account as "The Ghost of Doctor Harris." What made this experience compelling to me is that like myself, Hawthorne claimed to be mostly a skeptic when it came to ghosts.

Salem, Massachusetts was home for Nathaniel Hawthorne. He was born here on July 4, 1804 and his family had a long history here dating all the way back to the Salem Witch Trials. In fact, one of his ancestors, John Hathorne, was an unrepentant judge during the trials. Hawthorne went to college and published his first work in 1928, but he needed to find a real job to pay the bills and he ended up at the Salem Custom House. There he met a man named William Baker Pike who was a Swedenborgian Spiritualist and he would discuss with Hawthorne his experiences of communicating with the dead. The author once wrote to Pike that "I should be very glad that these rappers are, in any one instance, the spirits of the persons whom they profess themselves to be; but though I have talked with those who have had the freest communication, there has always been something that makes me doubt." So Hawthorne was basically like most of us: an open-minded skeptic. Although he took this stance with his belief about ghosts, it did not prevent him from exploring these themes in his writing and this brings us to his novel "The House of the Seven Gables."

"The House of the Seven Gables" is a Gothic novel that strongly influenced H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft said of the work, "It is one of New England's greatest contributions to weird literature." The work was published in April 1851 by Ticknor and Fields of Boston and features a story that follows the lives of the Pyncheon Family of New England. The House of the Seven Gables is their ancestral home that was built on land seized from the original owner, Matthew Maule, by the patriarch of the Pyncheon Family. Maule was accused of witchcraft and hanged, but he called down a curse on the Pyncheon Family before he died. The tale explores themes dealing with guilt, witchcraft and the supernatural. Alice Pyncheon is driven mad by a spell and dies from shame. She comes back to haunt the ancestral home. The spirit of the land owner, Matthew Maule, also haunts the house in the story. This home exists in real life and actually was a place Hawthorne knew well because it belonged to his cousin Susanna Ingersoll. The home is also known as the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion and perhaps Hawthorne got his inspiration for writing about the house in his novel being haunted because the actual house reputedly was said to be haunted.

The House of the Seven Gables is one of the largest timber-framed mansions in North America still on its original foundation and its building dates all the way back to 1668 when it was built for Captain John Turner I. He had purchased the lot from Widow Ann Moore. The Turner family was one of the most successful maritime families in New England. They would influence the future maritime traditions in the colonies and this would spread into several areas including trading, fishing and mercantilism.  What one sees today is not this original house. The original part of the house was small, built around a central chimney. There were two rooms over two rooms. Around 1680, Turner was able to expand the house with two additions. One of these additions was the Great Chamber that had high ceilings and large windows. The other added a gable to the house and a kitchen lean-to.

His son, John Turner II, would inherit the house when he was only nine-years-old as his father died young. He added Georgian style to the house that included wood paneling to the walls of the dining room, parlor and Great Chamber. The wood work was then painted in the modern palettes of the time. John Turner III would be the final Turner to own the home. After the Revolutionary War, he suffered great business losses and came to a point where he could no longer maintain the home and needed the money from its sale to pay off his debts.

Captain Samuel Ingersoll was a wealthy ship captain and he purchased the Turner House in 1782. Ingersoll liked the boxy Federal home style, so he had four of the gables removed as well as the kitchen lean-to. His daughter was Hawthorne's second cousin, Susanna, and she inherited the house when the Captain died in 1804. The cousins had a twenty year age difference, but that didn't keep them from becoming close friends. Hawthorne dined at the house on a regular basis and loved the stories that Susanna would tell him about the house. He loved the unique look of the house because it had seven gables. Susanna died in 1858 and the house passed to her adopted son Horace Connolly. He stunk at business and ended up losing the house to creditors in 1879. The house would fall into disrepair for awhile and nearly became a tenement. In 1883, the Upton Family purchased the home and used it as both a residence and business. This family would be the ones to come up with the idea of offering tours of the house. They were already a family of entertainers with Henry O. Upton being a well-known musician who taught dance lessons around Salem and his wife, Ida, was a well-known artist. His children taught music and oratory. His wife created a souvenir for people to purchase after tours that she called a “Witch Cup.”

The Uptons moved to the Salem Willows neighborhood and decided to sell the house. Caroline Emmerton was a philanthropist and preservationist and she bought the house in 1908. She founded The House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association, which assisted immigrant families settling in Salem. Emmerton hired architect Joseph Everett Chandler to restore the house. Chandler was a major proponent of the Colonial Revival architecture and he specialized in historic preservation. Emmerton hoped that by using the house for tours and as a museum, she could raise funds for her settlement programs. Emmerton modeled the house after the novel as well. The Secret Stairway was added at this time. She purchased the Hooper-Hathaway House and Retire Beckett House and moved them to the property. Eventually, Hawthorne's birthplace was moved here too. Tours are run on a daily basis.

When the staff is asked if the House of the Seven Gables is haunted, most say they have never experienced anything strange. But I personally believe that a skeptic like Hawthorne would not have included ghosts in his story about the house had he not been inspired by stories shared by his cousin. It seems like common sense to me that she had experiences or heard stories of experiences and Hawthorne was in the house enough to have his own as well. Plenty of visitors claim to have seen apparitions or felt something unexplained. There are stories of at least five ghosts here.

Susanna Ingersoll loved this house and her spirit still seems to be attached to it. Her full-bodied apparition has been seen in the house. Visitors claim to see her looking at them out of windows when they are touring the gardens. Another ghost is said to be the spirit of a young boy. He resides in the attic and is heard playing up there. There are the sounds of disembodied footsteps and laughter. It was thought that the Turner's servants lived in the attic and it is set-up today with a child's rocking chair and sleeping mat. Did one of the servant's children die up there?

There is another personal account that claims that Hawthorne's son's spirit has been seen. Lisa from Long Island wrote, "I decided to take a tour of the House of the Seven Gables property, also known as the Turner - Ingersoll Mansion located at 54 Turner Street. On that property now sits the birth home of American author Nathaniel Hawthorne, which was actually moved from Union Street onto Turner Street." While on the tour, she snapped a photo outside and in this picture, you can make out the picture of a young boy in the shrubbery. Another spirit said to be haunting this house is a woman who is doing the work of a seamstress. She is seen sewing and walking in the house.

Some claim that there is a residual haunting on the secret staircase. The apparition of a black man has been seen going up and down on the stairs. The only issue with this is that the stairs are fairly newer having been built in 1908. People claim that they feel they are being watched. Could it just be the eyes of the portraits throughout the house that seem to follow people?

Are the tour guides pretending that there is no ghostly activity because they don't want that reputation for the house? With so many different spirits being identified, it would seem that there must be some kind of activity going on. Or is it just that Hawthorne wrote about ghosts and people have projected this onto the house? Is the House of the Seven Gables haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Ep. 286 - Culloden Battlefield

Moment in Oddity - French Stilt Walkers
Suggested by: John Michaels

There was a time, in the mid-19th century, when the Landes region in southwestern France was a swampy terrain. Raising sheep and keeping a homestead was very difficult in this area. The people who lived here were poor shepherds and they knew they needed to come up with a way to make their lived easier. That's when they came up with the idea of making stilts and using them to traverse the landscape. The stilts were called tchangues, which meant “big legs.” They were made from wood and stood five feet high, had wide straps to support the feet and the bottoms were widened and solidified with sheep’s bone. The shepherds used the stilts to take wide strides and it gave them the opportunity to see their flocks from a high perch. Some used staffs to give themselves more support and the shepherds became so comfortable on the stilts that they spent most of their lives on them. This skill also transfered to the other townspeople and included women and children. All the people became very adept and could perform amazing feats of balance and dexterity. Children walked to school on stilts and did their chores on them as well. Women could pluck flowers from the ground. Eventually, they were performing feats for visitors to the region, which included Empress Josephine who stopped here in 1808 to meet Napoleon. The stilt walkers greeted her and managed to keep up with her carriage horses. By the end of the 19th century, the marshland was drained and replaced by a plantation of pine trees and a forest is there to this day. But there was once a time when living on stilts, saved a French community and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - First Virginia Company Expedition Leaves London

In the month of December, on the 20th, in 1606, The Virginia Company expedition to America began with three small ships. These ships were called the Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery. Captain Christopher Newport led the expedition as it launched from London with 105 men and boys and 39 crew members. The ships landed in Puerto Rico on April 6th and they collected provisions. They arrived at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay in late April/early May of 1607. Chaplain Robert Hunt offered a prayer as a cross was set up at the landing site. The expedition would move further inward. They ventured up the James River and found a suitable spot to establish the first permanent English settlement in America. They called it Jamestown after King James I.

Culloden Battlefield (Suggested by: Brian Morse)

The Battlefield of Culloden is under the care of the National Trust for Scotland and can be found in the Scottish village of Culloden. Culloden Village is an ancient town with buildings dating back to the 1600s, one of which is Culloden House that is today a hotel. The battlefield was the scene of the Battle of Culloden that would be the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising of 1745. This battle was bloody and causalities were high. This has led to paranormal activity on the battlefield that seems to recreate the battle. Along with this are stories of omens, premonitions and The Scree. Join me as I share the history of the Battle of Culloden and the resulting hauntings of the battlefield.

Culloden Village is found in the Scottish Highlands and the name is Gaelic meaning "back of the small pond." Historic buildings that are found here include Culloden House, the Culloden Stables and the Barn Church. This village would become the scene of the final battle in the Jacobite uprising and the resounding defeat of the Jacobites would do more than just stop an uprising. This defeat would make it illegal to play bagpipes or to wear tartan and the clan way of life and system were destroyed. Jacobites were Scottish clans that supported the reinstatement of King James II who had been deposed by English nobility and they had him replaced by William and Mary. James II had been King over both England and Scotland and he had converted to Catholicism, which is what caused him to be deposed. The Scots would recognize nobody but James as their King. There would be several uprisings.

The Jacobite Rising began in 1745. This was also called the Forty-five Rebellion and was an attempt by Charles Edward Stuart to regain the British throne for his father, James Francis Edward Stuart. After William and Mary, Queen Ann took the throne until she died in 1714. She had no children alive, so the Act of Settlement of 1701, gave the throne to her cousin George I, which passed from the House of Stuart to the House of Hanover. Charles was more famously known as Bonnie Prince Charlie and he launched the rebellion on August 19th in 1745. The initial battle was at Glenfinnan and the result was the capture of Edinburgh. Some of the Scots were unsure of continuing to push back against the British, but Charles guaranteed that English Jacobites would come to the rescue. The group entered England in early November and they reached Derby by December. The English support never materialized and a split began between the Scots and Charles. The Battle of Culloden would take place in April of 1746.

The battle took place on the southeast of Inverness, which was a few miles southwest of Nairn and the date was April 16th. This would be a match-up between The Jacobite Army of Prince Charles and the Royal Troops of King George II under the Duke of Cumberland. The armies were fairly equally matched with 7,000 in the Jacobite Army and 8,000 in the Royal Army. The regiments present at the battle were: Cobham’s (10th) and Kerr’s (11th) dragoons, Kingston’s Light Dragoons, the Royals (1st), Howard’s Old Buffs (3rd), Barrel’s King’s Own (4th) Wolfe’s (8th), Pulteney’s (13th), Price’s (14th), Bligh’s (20th), Campbell’s Royal Scots Fusiliers (21st), Sempill’s (25th), Blakeney’s (27th), Cholmondeley’s (34th), Fleming’s (36th), Munro’s (37th), Ligonier’s (48th) and Battereau’s (62nd) Foot. Many might think that the Jacobite Army was mostly Gaelic-speaking Catholic Highlanders, but the reality was that many of these men were Non-juring Episcopalians from the Lowlands and English, French and Irish men were also among their numbers.

So we have a split in Prince Charlie's men. The main cause for the split was deciding what kind of warfare to engage with. Part of the Jacobites wanted to go back to their roots of guerilla warfare. These clan men were used to conducting raids, not professional military strikes. There was also a split within the ranks. The officers of the infantry were from the upper classes and aristocracy, while the foot soldiers were basically poor agricultural workers. Some major issues that happened during the decision making about tactics, weakened the Jacobites further. Lord George Murray led a heated council with the officers as he pushed for guerilla warfare and he believed there was not time to launch an attack and that they should abort. He sent Prince Charlie's right-hand man named O'Sullivan to inform him of the change in plan, but O'Sullivan missed him in the dark. Meanwhile, Murray took his men, which were one-third of the Jacobite forces back to camp as they aborted. The other two-thirds of the force had no idea that there was a change in plans. Some of these forces had dispersed to find food or were asleep in ditches and outbuildings when the British forces began engagement.

The British did have at least a thousand more men in total and you don't have a complete Jacobite army here. The British were more skilled with the artillery as well. The highland terrain also made a charge very difficult and rain and sleet were falling. This would be a very brief skirmish starting around 11:00 and lasted only an hour. The Jacobites formed three columns with the three Macdonald battalions; a small one of Chisholms; another small one of Macleans and Maclachlans; Lady Mackintosh and Monaltrie's regiments; Lord Lovat's Regiment; Ardsheal's Appin Stewarts; Lochiel's Regiment; and three battalions of the Atholl Brigade. Bonnie Prince Charlie ran off and hid somewhere and once found was pressed to order a charge, which he did with the Clan Chattan charging first. The Jacobites advanced on the left flank of the government troops, but faced superior fire power and had volleys of musket fire with roundshot that switched to grapeshot raining down on them. They managed to charge all the way to the government lines and there a direct clash ensued. Two British regiments took the brunt, but it was minimal and a counter attack followed. This attack formed a five battalion strong horseshoe-shaped formation and the Jacobites found themselves trapped.

A catastrophic collapse of the left-wing followed and this group of Jacobites began a retreat. Another clan group were waiting in the wings as a type of ambush, but their leader was killed and they soon were in retreat. A group of Irish picquets came to the rescue and prevented a massacre. Prince Charlie was not ready to give up, so Captain Shea told Charlie's bodyguard, "Yu see all is going to pot. Yu can be of no great succor, so before a general deroute wch will soon be, Seize upon the Prince & take him off ." He did so. The Lowland regiments retreated southwards and the Highlanders went back towards Ruthven Barracks, but the government cavalry cut them down and the rest had to retreat to Inverness. They were pusued and given no quarter. The only ones spared were 50 French officers and soldiers. The government forces captured fourteen of the colours or standards. The Jacobites had suffered a crushing defeat that left 2,000 of their number dead or wounded. The British suffered only 300 casualties.

There would be one more small skirmish that was naval and the uprising was over. This solidified the fact that the House of Stuart would not return and Bonnie Prince Charlie never tried to challenge the crown again. The punishment that the Duke of Cumberland issued after the battle left him with the nickname "The Butcher" and this has caused some controversy even in our era when the University of Glasgow awarded the Duke of Cumberland an honorary doctorate. Further civil penalties helped eradicate the Gaelic culture and undermine the Scottish clan system.

Today, people come from all over the world to see the Culloden Battlefield. The visitor centre is located near the site of the battle and was opened in December of 2007. The field had been a grazing ground during the battle, but today is covered in heather and shrubs. There are footpaths to explore and a memorial that stands 20 feet high, made of stones, was erected by Duncan Forbes in 1881. In the same year, Forbes also erected headstones to mark the mass graves of the clans. "The English Stone" marks the place of the government dead near the Old Leanach cottage. Something that might surprise people is that this was not an English versus Scots thing. More Scots fought for the Duke of Cumberland than for Prince Charlie. In fact, Scottish Captain Ferguson chased down and hanged highland rebels as he scoured the Scottish isles. Many Jacobites fled to the American colonies. The only building to survive the battle, still stands today: Old Leanach Cottage. It was inhabited until 1912 and is now kept by the National Trust for Scotland and looks like it did in the 18th century. There were barns around the cottage, but they no longer exist because Government redcoats found 30 wounded Jacobites seeking refuge within them and so they barricaded the barns and burnt the Jacobites alive.

As we all can imagine, this battlefield is full of negative energy. The supernatural activity here is high and the legends and lore that date back to even before the battle, reveal even more strange activity that had nothing to do with the aftermath of the battle. On the edge of Inverness and on part of the battlefield stands Culloden Woods. It is within these woods that one can find St. Mary's Well. Although the name leads one to think the well has a Christian connection, it actually has its roots in Pagan traditions and was originally called Tobar n'Oige, which meant Well of Youth in Gaelic. The well is named for St. Mary who lived in the woods. She would do her rounds with a bucket in her hand. It was said that she healed the sick with water from her well. This well has a legendary claim of being a place of healing. People are encouraged to come to the well and carry on a tradition in which they make a wish, walk around the well three times, gather water in a cupped hand and drink deeply and then tie a scrap of cloth from your clothing very tightly around a nearby tree. This ritual is said to only work when done on Beltane. It is more than just tourists and villagers who come. It is said that the clansmen come too, although Beltane is two weeks too late for them. They have been seen so many times, that few are skeptical about the stories.

The clansmen were said to have experienced an omen before the battle. Many were gathered near a well on the road from Uig to Portree. They were all stunned when a blood-soaked man ran up to them with pure terror in his eyes. He called out, "Defeat!" He yelled it twice more with anguish and then vanished before their eyes. The group all looked at each other realizing that they had witnessed a phantom. they they heard distant drums and the clash of swords. The sound moved quickly upon them and it was as if a ghostly army and battle passed right through their midst. The group had no way of knowing that this was an omen of the demise that was to come the next day at the Battle of Culloden.

Have you ever heard of the Scree? I had not. And if you Google Scree, you'll just find information about rock debris. But the Scottish clans believed in a figure that they called the Scree and they said that it was bad luck to see the Scree.  Death was said to surely follow. The Scree is described as a large black bird that rises up from the heather , screaming. The day of the battle, the men leading the Scots all claimed to see the Scree. George Murray was frozen to his spot. The bird practically blocked out the evening sky. It flew over Drummossie Moor giving off a shrieking caw. And then it just disappeared midflight. This was another bad omen. And it was not just something for the people of this time to see. A tourist witnessed it on the battlefield in July of 2005. What makes this legendary bird odd here is that it makes noise. For no bird makes any noise at the battlefield. They nest in the heather and the trees and fly over the moor and the graves, but they make no noise.

The ghost of The Highlander is said to wander here. A woman from Edinburgh was visiting in August of 1936. She was reading some of the clan stones and noticed that someone had laid a tartan on the cairn. She lifted the cloth so she could read the name and a ghostly face peered back at her. He stared at her and she ran. Other people who have seen this apparition, claim that he seems shell-shocked and lost. He walks for a while and then just stops. When people try to approach him, he disappears. It seems that most stories about him have him being spotted on April 16th.

Temperature fluctuations happen rapidly near the Cairns. On the anniversary of the battle, locals claim that they hear the battle as though it is being reinacted. There are the sounds of drummers beating a tattoo, weapons clashing and men yelling and then the sounds just stop. Andrea Byrne of Scottish Paranormal took a team of investigators onto Drummossie Moor and they used dowsing rods to try to find energy lines and they found one running from Cumberland's Stone to St. Mary's Well. Temperature and humidity flutuations were dramatic near the graves. They conducted interviews with staff who claimed to hear disembodied sounds and they reported that visitors often claimed to hear the sounds of battle. Most psychics who visit claim that the activity is all residual, just replaying events.

Even if none of this activity is intelligent, it still seems to exist. A reminder replaying over and over of the horrible thing that happened here when men fought and killed each other over a power struggle. Many lost their physical lives, but what was really lost was a culture. Highlanders bogged down in mud and overwhelmed by more powerful artillery could have had no idea that their way of life was dying with them. Perhaps the energy that replays here over and over is a desperate attempt for this culture's spirit to live again somehow. Is the Culloden Battlefield haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:
Outlander is a historical fiction novel that is a series that also was turned into a TV series about a WWII nurse named Claire who walks through one of these megolith/ley line places in Scotland and goes back in time from 1946 to 1743. So most of the novel and TV series is set in Scotland, specifically in the Highlands. One of the settings is the Battle of Culloden. It comes up in several of the books and in the Season 2 finale.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Ep. 285 - Pennhurst State School and Hospital

Moment in Oddity - The Narragansett Runestone

The Narragansett Runestone is a Rhode Island formation meta-sandstone that is 7 feet long, 5 feet high and 2 feet wide and is inscribed with two rows of symbols, which some have indicated resemble ancient Runic characters. The Runestone is also known as the Quidnessett Rock and was first reported to the Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission (HPHC) in the 1980s. According to the HPHC, there are several inscribed rocks that can be found along the shores of the Narragansett Bay Region. The most famous is known as the Dighton Rock, which was discovered during Colonial times and has been an object of study from that time. Brothers Everett and Warren claimed that they had carved the runes back in the summer of 1964, but locals claimed that the rock had been there before 1964. The fact that other similar carved rocks have been found seems to dispute that claim as well. The rock was stolen from the tidal waters off of Pojac Point in North Kingstown between July and August 2012 and eventually returned in 2013. It can now be seen in Wickford, a village of North Kingstown Rhode Island. Was this runestone carved by an early people in the Americas? Was it brought over from another land? Whatever the case, the Narragansett Runestone, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Bhopal Disaster

In the month of December, on the 3rd, in 1984 a deadly gas leak of methyl isocyanate at a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, killed at least 3,000 persons and injured more than 200,000. This became known as the Bhopal Disaster. Union Carbide was a pesticide plant and the highly toxic gas leaked out of pipes and into the surrounding small towns, exposing over 500,000 people. Hospital staff had never heard of methyl isocyanate and thus they had no anecdote. Exposure caused coughing, severe eye irritation, stomach pains, vomiting and breathlessness. Children and adults smaller in stature were more affected. The morning after the leak, thousands of people had died. The cause of the leak has been debated, with the company claiming it was sabotage and others blaming loose management and maintenance that caused a backflow of water into a chemical tank. There were several civil and criminal suits filed. Today, the site is still in need of clean-up and groundwater remains contaminated.

Pennhurst State School and Hospital

Pennhurst State School and Hospital is sometimes referred to as Pennhurst Asylum. This is a location deemed to be one of the most haunted and with its history, there is no wonder. Decades of abuse and experimentation were perpetuated on children who for all intents and purposes were left abandoned to a system with no moral compass. An expose in the 1960s shined some light on the situation, but it would still take twenty years before the location was shut down. Today, it is open again as a haunted attraction and hosts tours. I'm joined on this episode by Tony Merkel of The Confessionals Podcast who lived near Pennhurst. We discuss his fascination with Bigfoot and the paranormal and the history and hauntings of Pennhurst Asylum!

The TV reporter who exposed all of this in the mid 1960s was Bill Baldini. He ran a five-episode exposé of Pennhurst State School and Hospital on Philadelphia’s TV10. The segments were entitled "Suffer the Little Children" and it revealed a degree of neglect that was horrifying.  People were bound with straps and placed in adult-sized crib beds. Many of the residents were severly disabled and seemed to just be rocking, pacing, and twitching. They all seemed withdrawn into themselves probably from fear and overstimulation. When one patient was asked by the interviewer what he would like most in the world, if he could have anything he wanted, the sad and withdrawn reply was simply, “To get out of Pennhurst.”

From the Weird NJ website:
Quaker Building:  Numerous shadows manifest and dissipate at will. These shadows include what appeared to be a small female child with long black hair, a hunched over presence with long dangling arms and the upper portion of bodies looking over or around obstacles. Doors and a rocking chair have moved without anyone being near them. Investigator was shoved from behind hard enough on a stairway to leave a deep red mark on the small of back. Investigator was scratched on the arm by unknown object when they were not by anything or close to any walls. Objects being propelled in the basement such as a pry bar, some sort of brass fixture, and various other unknown objects. Multiple EVP’s (electronic voice phenomena) as well EMF spikes throughout the building when there is no electric supplied to any building there. Our Psychic Medium, Sharon Pugh, has felt multiple energies there including either a demonic force or a past life that wasn’t a very nice person.

Limerick Building:  The apparition of a woman in a old style nurse’s uniform was observed by a fire fighter, police officer and a marine.  Multiple EVP’s.

Devon Building: Unknown sounds and multiple EVP’s.

Mayflower Building: Shadow people seen multiple times. EVP’s captured. Investigators have been touched in this building.

Tinicum Building: Multiple EVP’s. Investigator had their legs touched.

Philadelphia Building: Loud sounds and voices heard coming from the building. Investigators surrounded the building and entered it via the tunnel system. No one was in the building nor could they have fled without being observed.

Administration Building: Multiple voices heard at various times and EVP’s caught of what appears to be a toilet flushing. This building has no running water or bathroom fixtures.

Hershey Building: Investigator heard a female child’s voice on the third floor.
 There does seem to be quite a bit of activity here and nearly every building has something unexplained going on. Is Pennhurst State School and Hospital haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Ep. 284 - Squirrel Cage Jail

Moment in Oddity - Old Mike

Cornish Funeral Home in Prescott, Arkansas had a very unusual display for years. The display featured the embalmed, mummified remains of a man that everybody just knew as Old Mike. The reason they called him Old Mike was that no one knew who he was. The story is that Mike was a traveling salesman in the early 1900s and he would come into Prescott occasionally on the train to sell his wares, which consisted of stationary and pencils. He would sometimes stay overnight and then leave on the train the next day. No one really got to know the guy. Nobody knew about his family or where he came from. One day, the townspeople found Mike lying under a tree, dead. He had passed away sometime in the night. He was taken to the local funeral home, but no identification for him was found. People only knew that his name was Mike. So the funeral home embalmed him and decided to put him in the window to see if anyone recognized him. And there he was for the next 60 years. He became a tourist attraction and a challenge that young boys gave to each other. You know, "I dare you to touch Old Mike." In 1975, a petition finally got the state attorney general's office to request that Mike finally be given a proper burial and so he was laid to rest that May with a few people in attendance. The idea that a funeral home would put a body on display in hopes that someone would claim it and do it for 60 years, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Architect Stanford White Born

In the month of November, on the 9th, in 1853, Architect Stanford White was born in New York City. Stanford White was a renowned architect. He had been a member of the prestigious firm McKim, Meade and White and designed the Washington Square Arch, Pennsylvania Station and Madison Square Garden. He was well liked, but he had a side many didn't know about him. He had a taste for young chorus girls, even though he was married. He had a red velvet swing in his 24th Street studio and he would invite a teen-aged Evelyn Nesbit to come have a swing. Nesbit was an artist's model and a cast member in Broadway's hottest musical comedy at the time. Nesbit had another admirer though named Harry Thaw. He was a wealthy playboy and on the evening of June 25th in 1906, Thaw murdered Stanford White during a performance of Mam'zelle Champagne on the rooftop of Madison Square Garden. This was called the Crime of the Century.

Squirrel Cage Jail (Suggested by Jessica Garcia and Lynne Larsen Savage)

Old jails just seem to be crawling with spirits as we have come to find from the several jails covered on this podcast. No matter the country, region or city and no matter the size, prisons hold spirits. One incredibly haunted jail can be found in Iowa. Council Bluffs was known as the Great Railroad Center of the Northwest. Before that time, it was a hub for trade between Native American tribes and white settlers. The Squirrel Cage Jail was built here in 1885. This jail has one of the most unique designs of any jail I have ever researched. This prison had a long run, being used until 1969. Today, it offers tours giving a glimpse into penal history and is said to be home to several spirits. Join me as I explore the history and hauntings of the Squirrel Cage Jail.

The reason why Council Bluffs was considered the Great Railroad Center of the Northwest is because nearly every city in the state of Iowa is connected by rail to Council Bluffs. The town was originally known as Traders Point, being named by Francois Guittar who was a St. louis businessman. He came to the area in 1824 and established the town as a base for fur trading and other mercantile business with the local Native American tribes, the most prominent being the Potawatomi for whom the county where Council Bluffs is located is named. The trading was friendly because the chief of the Potawatomi was Billy Caldewell, who was the son of a Potawatomi mother and a Scots-Irish immigrant father. This became a desired destination in traversing the Missouri River for a multitude of groups working their way to the western United States. On the Oregon, the California, the Mormon, or the Lewis and Clark trails. The town eventually came to be known as Kanesville and it became a Mormon winter encampment. The claim to fame for Kanesville was that Mormon leader Brigham Young was sustained as the second prophet and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the tabernacle here. The Mormon settlers left in 1852 and the town was renamed Council Bluffs after a site that was 20 miles north that had been named Council Bluff by the Lewis and Clark Expedition. They had met with the Otoe Tribe on that bluff, which was near the Missouri River. The county needed a jail and Council Bluffs was picked as the location.

The Squirrel Cage Jail was originally known as Pottawattamie County Jail. The building is found at 226 Pearl Street in Council Bluffs and was built in 1885. The interior of the jail consists of revolving cells that are technically called a rotary jail. This was a design by William H. Brown and Benjamin F. Haugh, both from Indianapolis. They patented the design in 1881 and it would be used in eighteen jails in the United States. The patent on the design stated, "The object of our invention is to produce a jail in which prisoners can be controlled without the necessity of personal contact between them and the jailer."  This would mean that the jail could provide maximum security with minimum jailer attention.  It was said that if a jailer had a trustee he could trust, he could control the jail. The cells were wedges that resembled the shape of a pie and these were seated on a platform that rotated in a carousel fashion. They were more secure in that there was only one opening and so only one cell could be accessed at a time. a man would hand crank the gears that were beneath the structure to rotate the entire cell block. The design had an upgrade with a core sanitary plumbing system. There was just one problem. Inmates limbs would get caught either accidentally or on purpose due to self-harm and become severed. By 1939, all the rotary jails had been condemned save one, the Squirrel Cage.

The Squirrel Cage is unique from the other revolving cell jails in that it was the only one that was three-stories tall. The building itself was designed to be four-stories and this was a grand plan in that the prototype upon which it was based was only one story and had only eight cells. The total cost for the build was $30,000 and when it was complete, all three floors of the jail had the revolving pie-shaped cells, each with their own toilet, and there were quarters for women, a kitchen, trustee cells and offices for the jailer and other staff. The construction took only five months. The architects, Eckel and Mann, designed the building exterior with a Victorian style. They incorporated Romanesque arched windows, detailed brickwork and limestone trim. From the outside, it does not look like a prison, it looks like a mansion.

The first inmates arrived on September 11, 1885 with Sheriff Theodore Guittar at the helm. These inmates included Miles Mullen who was a horse thief, Frank Scofield, a forger, John Gordon who had violated tax laws, Ed Rankin and the Brock Family, Mr. and Mrs. and their daughter, all doing time for larceny. Not long after opening, the jailer quarters on the fourth floor revealed another issue with the revolving jail. The malodorous odors from the sewer system traveled upward. The second floor women's jail area was soon converted to a living space. Opinions of the jails were harsh. The danger to inmates limbs was an issue as was the lack of ventilation, but many townspeople were critical of the fact that prisoners had their own toilets when many of them did not. It was thought the prisoners were being coddled. But others focused more on the danger and an editorial was written that decried the jail saying, “Rotary cells of the present jail not only are a farce, they are dangerous to the lives of the prisoners.” And imagine a fire in one of these places!

Citizens signed petitions and the Pottawattamie County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution in 1910 to ask voters for $75,000 so that a new county jail could be built and this would include a residence for the Sheriff and his family. Well, apparently there weren't that many in town who supported such an idea despite the complaints and petitions. The resolution was not passed and no new jail was built. Squirrel Cage would continue on for forty more years as a rotary jail. In 1960, a prisoner died of natural causes, but it took two days to retrieve th corpse because the rotary mechanism malfunctioned. After that, the mechanism was disabled.  Access had to be cut through the outer cage to cells, so that they could be reached from the floor or landings and the jail continued to operate until 1969.

After the jail ceased operations in 1969, it was acquired by the Council Bluffs Park Board. In 1972, the Squirrel Cage was named to the National Register of Historic Places. This is only one of three revolving jail cell prisons still in existence. The jail was still in great need of restoration efforts by 1977 and the Historical Society took up the effort. They are the current owners and operators of the facility and they offer tours. One of the things visitors can see are the signatures and dates made by some of the former infamous residents on the cell walls. The jail is open from 11am to 4pm, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April through October. There are many visitors and staff who claim to have experienced supernatural things at the jail.

Paranormal experiences date back to before the prison was ever built here. The apartment on the top floor was not only not used because of the odors, but there are claims that strange things happened up there. Bill Foster was a jailer there in the 1950s and he moved out of the fourth floor after experiencing what he called, "Strange goings-on up there." He reported hearing disembodied footsteps on the the fourth floor. These are thought to belong to J.M. Carter who oversaw the jail's construction. He lived in the top floor apartment for a while. There is a previous jailer haunting the fourth floor as well. He was named Otto Gufath and his full-bodied apparition has been seen.

The experiences indicate that there are both intelligent and residual activity. Nevermore Paranormal investigated the jail and claim to have caught EVP of laughing, a voice saying "Give it to me" and "You can't" said by a little girl with a southern accent and "Whose there," and there has been shushing. The Paranormal Research and Investigative Studies Midwest (PRISM) group investigated in 2005. They managed to video a cabinet door opening by itself three times. They also captured orbs on video at the same time that EMFs registered electromagnetic spikes and temperature changes were noted. In 2008, the Carroll Area Paranormal Team (CAPT) investigated the jail and they captured unexplained light activity in the infirmary and unusual sounds.

Carla Borgaila with the Historical Society of Pottawattamie County has said she has had the following experiences, “I have had my hat pulled off my head and my hair played with. I have seen mists, shadows, full body apparitions, footsteps, voices and doors closing. In addition to the little girl, there are reports of a teenage girl, several men – some inmates, some jailers – and a couple different women’s voices caught on EVPs or audibly heard during the night. We also have two ghost cats that are known for brushing up against peoples legs. Many groups have caught ‘meows’ on their recorders and seen the little striped cats going through doorways.” 

Heavy breathing and sighing and the jingling of keys have been heard and strange lights have been seen. The audible voice of a little girl singing has been heard. This little girl has been seen coming from the juvenile detention center by many people. These claims come from investigators from all over the country, which makes the claims more believable since they all have had similar stories without contact with each other. A woman working on a project in the building after hours, saw the little girl. She was dressed in gray and inside a cell that was locked with no way in or out.

Staff claim that whatever spirits happen to be in the jail, they are friendly and non-threatening. There is a great feeling of sadness throughout the building. And there are reputedly two ghost cats on the premises. So why do we have hauntings here? There were four deaths in the prison. A prisoner was trying to carve his name on the ceiling and he fell three stories. Another committed suicide by hanging himself in his cell. A third prisoner had a heart attack. The final death came about during the Farmer's Holiday Strike in 1932. An angry mob was storming the jail when an officer accidentally shot himself. The Sheriff at the time was named Lainson and he had hired 98 special deputies to get rid of blockades caused by the strike. He promised “to fight it out if it takes 5,000 deputies,” adding “if the Pottawattamie county jail bulges with picketers it will just have to bulge. I’m going to see that law and order are maintained.” Some strikers took that to mean that the jail was bulging with their buddies and word spread  that 1000 men were on the way to Council Bluffs. Tensions flared and the Sheriff told the press that if the jail was mobbed, his men were armed and would handle it “in the best possible manner.” Deputies had been told they could shoot to kill should any farmers try and storm the jail. A tragic accident occurred when special deputy Claude Dail was shot and killed from a gun that accidentally discharged during a weapons test.

So with four deaths, we have some fuel for paranormal activity. There was a lot of sadness within the walls as well. But where is this young female ghost coming from? St. Paul's Episcopal Church had a morgue that was on the site before the jail. Is it possible that spirits from some of the bodies that passed through here are now inside the jail? Are there other reasons for the activity? Is the Squirrel Cage Jail haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Ep. 283 - Haunted Cemeteries 12

Moment in Oddity - Train Accidents Depicted on Gravestones

Tree-stump gravestones were popular for a twenty-year period from 1885 to 1905. Many cemeteries in the Midwest used them because limestone was plentiful and the tradition of stone carving was a fine art. The trees were meant to look as if a tree stump had been used to mark a grave and symbolize a life cut short. This was very true for Charles F. King who died when he was only 26 years old. He was killed in 1893 at Jonesboro, Arkansas, in a train wreck on the St. Louis, Arkansas, and Texas Railway. What is weird is that this accident is actually depicted on his gravestone. There is a train engine and then another rail car flipped on its side. I've never seen a car accident depicted on a marker or someone clutching the heart from an attack. Causes of death are usually not visually depicted on a stone. But as I came to find out this week, this gravestone is not unique. There is another and here's where that little synchronicity that happens around here all the time creeps in. I found the King Gravestone while searching for haunted cemeteries. A few days later, I was researching Bohemian National Cemetery for a Stones and Bones BonusCast and stumbled across a picture of a headstone there for Matej Sidlo that is also a tree stump and it depicts Sidlo's death due to a train as well. This carving shows a train hitting a beer wagon. Sidlo was forty years old and was riding on a beer wagon owned by the E.R. Stege Brewing Co. when it was struck by engine No. 590 belonging to the CB & Q RR Co. throwing him from the wagon. What are the chances that two tombstones depict deaths by train and that I would find them in the same week? All I know is that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - First Presidential Library Construction Began

In the month of November, on the 19th, in 1939, construction of the first presidential library began. This library would belong to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He laid the cornerstone next to his home in Hyde Park, New York. Roosevelt had donated the land, but public donations funded the building of the library, which was dedicated on June 30, 1941. Roosevelt noticed that he had a vast quantity of papers and other materials that he and his staff had accumulated during the first two terms of his presidency. He also knew that in the past, many Presidential papers and records had been lost, destroyed or ruined. He asked historians and scholars for their advice and they all came up with the idea of a public repository of some sort. This began a tradition that continues to this day. There are currently 14 libraries in the Presidential Library System. These libraries are not like other libraries in that they are archives and museums that bring together the documents and artifacts of a President and his administration and present them for the public to study and discuss.

Haunted Cemeteries 12

As I continue to roll out these new episodes in the Haunted Cemeteries Series, it never ceases to amaze me just how wrong I was in thinking that there were very few haunted cemeteries. After all, I surmised that spirits would want to be among the living with all of their energy and not hanging out with the dead. I tend toward believing that most graveyard ghosts are residual and perhaps that is why I have managed to find so many of them. On this episode, we are going to explore cemeteries in Erie, Pennsylvania, cemeteries in Iowa, Odd Fellows Rest in New Orleans and Riverside Cemetery in Asheville. Join me on this journey through the history and haunts of these graveyards!
Erie Cemetery

Erie Cemetery is located in Erie Pennsylvania and was established in 1851. The graveyard is laid out over 75 acres and is found at 21st and Chestnut streets. There are around 50,000 burials and these include General Strong Vincent, Daniel Dobbins and Sarah A. Reed. Within, one will find over 165 years of funerary art. Burials still continue there today.

General Strong Vincent was fatally wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg on Little Round Top. He wrote to his pregnant wife on the way to Gettysburg, "If I fall, remember you have given your husband to the most righteous cause that ever widowed a woman." Today, there is a statue of him at Gettysburg on top of the 83rd Pennsylvania Infantry monument. There is no identification on the statue because it was against Pennsylvania battlefield commission rules to place an image of a regiment’s commanding officer on a monument, but it is his likeness, not a random officer. He was buried at Erie Cemetery and his baby daughter joined him shortly thereafter. She died shortly after being born.

Sarah A. Reed was a founding member of the group who formed “The Association for Improving the Conditions of the Poor, and a Home for the Friendless”. They opened The Children's Center in 1871 as a place to  and homeless children. Sarah served as President for 45 years from 1889 to her death in 1934. The center was named for her after her death.

There are two unique burials here that are steeped in legend.

Brown Crypt/Vampire Crypt -  The final resting place of the Goodrich Family is a Mausoleum carved from a ridge. It's a beautiful Gothic structure, but quite plain with no typical stain-glassed window or even a name on the outside. There is a strange V-like carving above the entrance as though lettering has fallen away. The front gate is hewn from wrought iron. And eerily, the granite from which the crypt is made has blackened. No other structures near it have done so.

The actual owner of the mausoleum is Gertrude Brown, but she is not buried within more than likely because she is still alive and the last heir. Most of the bodies inside bear the name Goodrich, the first being George Washington Goodrich who died on November 14, 1884. Six other individuals have joined him: his wife, two of their children who died young and I'm unsure of the rest. That's all pretty basic, but somehow a legend got started that a vampire is locked within the crypt and thus it is nicknamed the Vampire Crypt.

One of the stories told about the crypt is that a wealthy man from Erie fell ill after returning home from a trip to Romania. He died soon after becoming ill. He was placed in the crypt, but people claimed that he was undead and left the crypt to attack people in the surrounding suburbs. They were found drained of blood and the classic teeth marks on their necks. Another tale claims that a young man broke into the vault and stole a ring off of one of the bodies inside. He bragged to his friends what he had done and told them that he would show them the ring the next day. His friends came over to the house, but when his mother went to fetch him, she found him dead in his room. He was colourless and his eyes and mouth were frozen open in horror. His ring finger had been ripped off of his hand.

The explanation for the V on the crypt that many claim means "vampire" is that the symbol is actually a lily with stylized leaves that are Victorian. The blackening on the tomb is most likely from rain runoff and pollution. But it sure is fun to believe a vampire lurks within this very cool looking crypt.

The other area of interest is known as the Witch's Circle. This can be found in the oldest part of the cemetery, by Chestnut Street. The graves here are placed in a circle and are very old. Two of them have darkened stones. These two graves are said to belong to the two heads of a coven. They died in the late 1800s and the legend claims that the stones were blackened when Satan came to drag their souls to Hell. At least, that is one version. Another claims that the coven practiced their magic in the circle and that the Devil sent a fire from Hell to burn up the witches and the blackening is scorch marks. People claim that you can hear disembodied footsteps, usually behind you and when you turn you will see no one, except a big black dog, who will try to attack you. Thankfully, he disappears right before he chomps.

Evergreen and Vegors Cemeteries in Iowa

Evergreen Cemetery is found in Vinton, Iowa and is located at 1002 E. 10th Street. The city of Vinton was founded in 1849 and incorporated in 1869. It was named for Hon. Plynn Vinton, a state legislator. The graveyard was established in 1853 and has over 8500 burials. Burials have continued up until our present day. There is a huge flea market held on the adjacent grounds every summer.

There are a couple of well known burials here. The first is for Civil War Union Brevet Brigadier General James Loraine Geddes. He was born in Scotland, and immigrated to Canada with his family in 1837. He would go to a British military academy and serve in their army for seven years. In 1857, he settled on a farm in Benton county, Iowa. He raised a company of volunteers for the 8th Iowa infantry when the Civil War started and he became their captain. He worked up the ranks until he was wounded and captured at the Battle of Shiloh. He spent time in Libby prison in Richmond. He was released in a prisoner exchange and fought at Vicksburg and Jackson. He became a professor of military tactics and engineering at Iowa State Agricultural College in Ames and later became vice president of the college and treasurer of the institution. He died in 1887 when he was only 59. He is buried beneath a draped obelisk.

Buren Robinson Sherman was Iowa Governor from 1882 to 1886. He too fought in the Civil War. He served as a State Court Judge in Iowa in 1865 and as the Iowa State Auditor from 1875 to 1881. He died in 1904 at the age of 68. His stone is granite with an American flag engraved across the bottom.

This cemetery apparently has a lady in white who rides on a horse and is seen riding up and down the train tracks. One of the areas in the cemetery is for unknown soldiers. People have reported seeing  strange phenomena around a military statue there and full-bodied apparitions of soldiers hang around the area.

Vegors Cemetery is located in Stratford, Iowa, which was platted in 1880. Stratford was named for Stratford-upon-Avon in England. The cemetery is believed to have been a burial ground for four Native American tribes originally from 500BC to 1200AD. These were the typical mound type burials. White settlers moved into the area in the early 1800s and they did a stupid thing. Yep, they moved the bodies, so they could use the burial ground as their own. These moved tribe people would be honored in 1960 when E.H. Hawbaker erected a monument in the cemetery to give recognition to the fact that the hilltop cemetery had significance before the settlers came.

There are multiple hauntings at the cemetery. One reason for the hauntings could be the Spirit Lake Massacre of 1857. In the spring of 1857, Wahpekute Dakota Chief Inkpaduta and his band of warriors descended on the homesteads near Spirit Lake, which is near the Vegors Cemetery. They massacred a bunch of people because a whiskey runner and bad guy named Henry Lott and his son killed Inkpaduta’s blood brother Sintomniduta and Sintomniduta’s wife and five children in 1854. Inkpaduta asked the military to punish Lott, but Lott managed to get away. Lott was never found, and justice was never served. Many people were massacred in 1857 by the Native Americans. Legends claim that Mrs. Henry Lott was murdered at this time and that her spirit is said to haunt the graveyard and is seen as a full-bodied apparition. At least that is the legend. The Mrs. Lott I found here has on her tombstone that she died in 1849 from exposure of Indian raid. She is not buried in the cemetery. She was probably buried near the cabin. She was the first white woman to die in the area.

Other hauntings at the cemetery include full-bodied apparitions of Native Americans, probably because their graves were desecrated. The beating of drums is heard on the air as well. Anonymous posted on 5/24/2017: my friends and I went to vegors many times last summer and we walked through the whole cemetery to see the really old graves and sat near the memorial of mrs.lotts and then sat on a cement bench, first we heard a whistle and then a huge sound of voices as if you were in a stadium occurred and became louder and louder and got closer to us. we decided to move around and continued hearing whistles and drums and sounds mimicking what sounded like Indian calls. we heard screams, and you feel such a presence of paranormal activity while being here it is very active.

Odd Fellows Rest

This graveyard is located in New Orleans, Louisiana. Odd Fellows Rest is considered one of the most mysterious graveyards in the world and there are those that claim it is the most haunted in New Orleans. No small feat, considering that nearly all graveyards in New Orleans claim that label. Odd Fellows Rest is located at the corner of Canal Street and City Park Avenue near St. Patrick Cemetery No. 2. This graveyard was founded in 1847 and its primary purpose was to hold the remains of members of the Grand Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The Odd Fellows are one of the largest fraternal organizations in the United States. This is a secret society that dates back to the 15th century and started in England. It arrived in America around 1806. Most members were tradesmen with unusual or odd professions. Unlike other secret societies, this one was open to both men and women. The society flourished in America and reached its peak during World War I. Popularity dwindled after that and by the late 1970s, membership was down from three million to about 250,000. Most of the Odd Fellows Lodge Halls in the US have been sold off or left abandoned.

Their burials have a very distinctive symbol, which features three linked chains. This symbolizes the tenets of friendship, love and truth. Many times, the all-seeing eye accompanies the chains along with shaking hands. The dedication ceremony took place on February 29, 1849. This was a huge and elaborate event with a funeral procession that was fit for a king. The Odd Fellows disinterred the remains of sixteen of their members that had been buried elsewhere and put them in a sarcophagus. They brought the remains in a caravan that had two circus bandwagons, one of which was pulled by sixteen horses, and a funeral car. The single sarcophagus was to symbolize the burial of the cemetery’s first occupants.

The Odd Fellows were not only forward in their thinking about membership for women, but they were against segregation. In many cemeteries, blacks were not allowed to be buried next to whites. The Odd Fellows felt they deserved the same honors, so they opened the cemetery to people of color. They had purchased the land for $700 and expanded with the help of local donations, which they needed to do because the cemetery filled up quickly. In a few short years, the Odd Fellows had erected two hundred vaults and the tomb of the Teutonia Lodge number ten. Walls were named for past grand masters of the Order and enclosed the cemetery. Plots were filled by 1930.

As is the case with most graveyards in New Orleans, getting access to this cemetery is difficult. The only real entrance is through The Herb Import Company that is next to the graveyard. You have to ask somebody there to be let in and it is at their discretion. They give you a number, so you can call when you want to be let back out. I've also heard that due to restoration efforts, they do not allow anybody inside. So I'm not really sure you can peruse this one. Perhaps you could sip a tea on the back patio of this establishment and you should be able to at least SEE the graveyard. And it really seems as though it is a site to see with elaborate epitaphs. Other symbols seen throughout the graveyard include beehives, the mother and her children, the cornucopia, the world, the Bible, the five-pointed stars and the initials "I.O. of O.F."

Urban legends abound here. Some people claim that zombies roam the grounds. Others declare that they have seen ghost cats. There does seem to be a ghost dog here and it is accompanied by its owner whom people call Mr. Mike. He seems to be a friendly spirit and is seen wearing a white t-shirt and dark pants and he is always walking a large dog. There is no other information about him, so I'm not sure if he was an Odd Fellow or if he hangs out here for another reason. His dress makes me think that he is not buried here.
Riverside Cemetery in Asheville

Riverside Cemetery is found in Asheville, North Carolina, in the Montford Historic District, and this is a large cemetery that holds the dearly departed remains of over 13,000 people. Some of those people are quite famous. The cemetery is located at 53 Birch St. and the oldest known grave here is from December of 1885. Some burials are so old, it is hard to see the inscriptions and as is the case in all cemeteries, some are unmarked due to loss of a marker or perhaps a family did not have the means for a stone. This is not only one of the more well known cemeteries in the state, it is said to be the most haunted graveyard in North Carolina.

Riverside Cemetery was established in 1885. The years have blossomed this cemetery into a beautifully matured landscape with meandering roads. This is a great example of a garden cemetery. One fun epitaph declares, ""Meant Well, Tried a little, Failed much." The Battle of Asheville took place in 1865, less than a mile from the cemetery. Many of the dead are buried here. There are also dead from the other wars buried here, including 18 German soldiers from WWI.

O. Henry was born William Sidney Porter. He was born in 1862 and was raised in Greensboro, North Carolina. He began his working career as a teenager working in his uncle's drugstore. He became a licensed pharmacist, but enjoyed spending much of his time sketching the portraits of customers. He moved to Texas hoping to get rid of a cough he had developed. While there, he worked in a bank and was charged with embezzlement. His father-in-law posted his bail, but he ran away to new orleans and then to Honduras. He eventually returned to Texas when he heard that his wife was dying of TB. She passed away and he served his time in jail. He wrote as a hobby, but pursued it more when he was released and got a job with The Post in Houston. He began his prolific short story writing career in 1902. He was a heavy drinker and he became quite ill in 1908. He died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1910.

Thomas Wolfe was born in Asheville in 1900. He began his writing career at the University of North Carolina, where he attended college. He wrote several one-act plays and edited the school newspaper. He moved to New York in 1923 and this became his home. Three years later, he started his novel "Look Homeward, Angel." The novel was a critical success, but angered some of his friends in Asheville who recognized themselves as characters in the book. He continued publishing works, but his creativity was cut off early. He died at the age of 37 from tuberculosis of the brain in 1938.

There are claims of multiple hauntings here and many of those seem to be connected to the Battle of Asheville. The shouts of troops are heard and there is also the disarming exchange of gunfire. An entire regiment of ghostly Confederate soldiers has been seen as well. A couple of the other ghosts belong to children. Their small apparitions are seen and the disembodied laughter of children is heard. The spirit of an old man is seen wandering among the tombstones, but no one is sure which burial he belongs to.

Each of these cemeteries has its own unique features, but they are all beautiful and peaceful. Save for the spirits that seem to be at unrest. Are the legends real? Are these cemeteries haunted? That is for you to decide!