Thursday, January 16, 2020

HGB Ep. 323 - Kangaroo Island

Moment in Oddity - Florida Bog Bodies
Suggested by: April Marie

You've all probably heard of bog bodies before. These are human bodies that have been mummified in peat bogs and are found in Europe. But you did you know that Florida has its own bog bodies? A construction crew was working in Windover, Florida in 1982 building a new subdivision about halfwat between Disneyworld and Cape Canaveral. A man was working a backhoe to empty out the muck from a pond when he stumbled across a great archaeological find. There were 167 bodies in a pond and researchers from Florida State University were stunned when they found out that their estimate that these were 600 year old Native American bones turned out to be wrong. Radiocarbon dating put the bones at nearly 8,000 years old. The Florida bog bodies are different from European bog bodies in that they have no flesh left on the bones. But they do have their brain material still in the skull. This meant bodies were buried quickly. Most were found in the fetal position, lying on their left sides with their heads pointing to the west. To hold the bodies in the muck pond, whomever buried them, drove a stake through the fabric that enshrouded the bodies. The archaeologists found signs that the community cared for their injured and toys were made for the children who were buried with them. Contents in the area of stomachs showed that medicinal herbs were being used to perhaps cure illnesses. This was a hunter gatherer group that existed before the pyramids in Egypt were built and DNA revealed that they were not related in any way to other Native American groups found in the area and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Butterfield Overland Mail Route and Old Wire Road
Suggested by: Jenny Lynn Raines

In the month of January, on the 16th, in 1858, a team of people left San Francisco to begin laying out the Stagecoach stations for the Butterfield Overland Mail Route. The route was named for John Butterfield, the man awarded the Overland Mail Company contract by the Postmaster General. He had 37 years of experience and was well suited to the task. The stagecoach service operated from 1858 to 1861. The really fascinating part of this is that this route actually started as the Osage Trace, which was a trail used by Native Americans for hunting migration. In 1836, the part of this trail that stretched between Versailles, Missouri and Fayetteville, Arkansas became  known as "The Fayetteville Road." Telegraph lines were added along the route in 1860. The name would change to "Telegraph Road." Another name change came during the Civil War when it was used by troops moving between Missouri and Arkansas and they started calling it "The Military Road." When the war was over, the name "The Wire Road" started being used. Again referencing the important telegraph lines. These lines, as we know, became obsolete and so the name became "Old Wire Road." So if you live near an Old Wire Road, you now know why it has that unusual name and the important history behind it.

Kangaroo Island

Kelly and I have watched, along with the rest of the world, as fire has devastated the entire country of Australia in 2019 and 2020. Fire renews, but it destroys everything in its wake before that renewal and the tragic statistics have been devastating. The fires have raged for over six months, thousands of homes have been destroyed, dozens of people are dead, millions of acres are scorched and the worst statistic is that nearly a billion animals are estimated to have been killed. One of the places hit hard is Kangaroo Island. Nearly half of the island was burned. This is a beautiful place and is one of Australia's largest islands. There is a rich history here incorporating both the Aboriginal people, the settlers who made this their home and the treacherous waters that surround the island. All of these have contributed to reports of unexplained events and hauntings. Join us as we share the history and haunting of Kangaroo Island!

The first time we heard about hauntings on Kangaroo Island was in December of 2019 when a listener in Australia named Kathy wrote, "Then in April this year I went to Kangaroo Island off Adelaide, South Australia.  It was mid avo & I was having a little rest & I’d placed some books I’d brought in the little inbuilt bookcase when some of the books - not all of them- flew out of the bookcase & plonked on the ground.  I didn’t see the event but definitely heard it.  So I got up & as I picked my books up I said 'whoever is here with my, you’re welcome to stay BUT you aren’t to do anymore of this.'  And they didn’t do any further actions." When we started looking into reports of spirits, we found many. But before we get into that, let's lay the groundwork for any good investigation and look at the history.

Matthew Flinders was a navigator and scientist who was born in England in 1774. He was inspired to become an explorer after reading Robinson Crusoe and joined the navy to facilitate this goal. He worked his way up in rank and attained commander in February of 1801. He was given the H.M.S. Investigator to command with instructions to explore the south Australian coastline, referred to at the time as the "The Unknown Coast." Before he left, he married Ann Chappell and intended to take her with him, but he was not allowed and the couple would be separated for nine years. Flinders first hit Cape Leeuwin in December of 1801 and continued sailing eastward to the western extreme of the Unknown Coast. In March of 1802, Flinders found Kangaroo Island and gave the island its name because of the western grey kangaroo that they found there. French explorer Nicolas Baudin mapped out the island and was the first to circumnavigate it.

But as is the case with most places that Europeans eventually settled, they were not the ones who discovered the island, nor were they the first to call it home. There are archaeologists who believe that Aboriginal people may have been here starting 16,000 years ago and remained until 2,000 years ago. They called the island Karta, which meant "Island of the Dead." Because nobody really knows who these Aboriginal groups were, I can't really tell you who they were. Settlers in Southern Australia grouped all of the indigenous people under the term Ngarrindjeri, which means belonging to men. We want to be clear here that this is like saying Native Americans in the US. There are many different tribes and they have particular distinctions and that is the same in Australia. They are called clans there though. Some of these related family groups include the Jarildekald, Tanganekald, Meintangk and Ramindjeri. Other clan groups not lumped into the Ngarrindjeri that were from nearby Adelaide are the Kaurna and Peramangk. The Peramangk were wiped out save for a bit of DNA that can still be traced. I would venture to guess that some of their ancestors were on Kangaroo Island. A really neat fact about these Aboriginal groups is that they have dreaming stories.

One of these stories from the Peramangk is about Tjilbruke who was described as the Water and Fire Man. He went through the territory marking off boundaries and the Mount Lofty Ranges are said to have been formed from his body. the Mount Lofty Range was also said to be formed from the body of Yurebilla the Giant. The story of the Mingka Bird tells of Mount Barker and a little bird who lived there that would announce the approach of visitors. The Mingka would also work like a Banshee in that its call could signal the death of a loved one. And there is a story about Nganno the Giant. His son was murdered and Nganno journeyed far and wide to find the murderers. While he was traveling, he named the places he passed through and also formed rivers, which he filled with fish. He eventually did find the murderers and killed them and decided to return home. The journey had changed him greatly and his people almost didn't recognize him. They feared him and ran into the sea where they transformed into sea creatures. They called out things like "I am a whale" and "I am a shark" and that is what they would become. Some of Nganno's people did not recognize him at all and they killed him and when he fell, part of his body made up the Mount Lofty Range.So lots of these legendary people built those mountains with their bodies.

The story of The Ngurunderi Dreaming from the Murray River website:
"In the Dreaming, Ngurunderi travelled down the Murray River in a bark canoe, in search of his two wives who had run away from him. At that time the river was only a small stream, below the junction with the Darling River.

A giant cod fish (Ponde) swam ahead of the Ngurunderi, widening the river with sweeps of its tail. Ngurunderi chased the fish, trying to spear it from his canoe. Near Murray Bridge he threw a spear, but missed and was changed into Long Island (Lenteilin). At Tailem Bend (Tagalang) he threw another; the giant fish surged ahead and created a long straight stretch in the river.

At last, with the help of Nepele (the brother of Ngurunderi's wives), Ponde was speared after it had left the Murray River and had swum into Lake Alexandrina. Ngurunderi divided the fish with his stone knife and created a new species of fish from each piece.

Meanwhile, Ngurunderi's two wives (the sisters of Nepele) had made camp. On their campfire they were cooking bony bream, a fish forbidden to the Ngarrindjeri women. Ngurunderi smelt the fish cooking and knew his wives were close. He abandoned his camp, and came after them. His huts became two hills and his bark canoe became the Milky Way.

Hearing Ngurunderi coming, his wives just had time to build a raft of reeds and grass-trees and to escape across Lake Albert. On the other side their raft turned back into the reds and grass-trees. The women hurried south.

Ngurunderi followed his wives as far south as Kingston. Here he met a great sourcer, Parampari. The two men fought, using weapons and magic powers, until eventually Ngurunderi won. He burnt Parampari's body in a huge fire, symbolised by granite boulders today, and turned north along the Coorong beach. Here he camped several times, digging soaks in the sand for fresh water, and fishing in the Coorong lagoon.

Ngurunderi made his way across the Murray Mouth and along the Encounter Bay coast towards Victor Harbor. He made a fishing ground at Middleton by throwing a huge tree into the sea to make a seaweed bed. Here he hunted and killed a seal; its dying gasps can still be heard among the rocks. At Port Elliot he camped and fished again, without seeing a sign of his wives. He became angry and threw his spear into the sea at Victor Habour, creating the islands there.

Finally, after resting in a giant granite shade-shelter on Granite Island (Kaike), Ngurunderi heard his wives laughing and playing in the water near King's Beach. He hurled his club to the ground, creating the Bluff (Longkuwar), and strode after them.

His wives fled along the beach in terror until they reached Cape Jervis. At this time, Kangaroo Island was still connected to the mainland, and the two women began to hurry across to it. Ngurunderi had arrived at Cape Jervis though, and seeing his wives still fleeing from him, he called out in a voice of thunder for the waters to rise. The women were swept from their path by huge waves and were soon drowned. They became the rocky Pages Islands.

Ngurunderi knew that it was time for him to enter the spirit world. He crossed to Kangaroo Island and travelled to its western end. After first throwing his spears into the sea, he dived in, before rising to become a star in the Milky Way."

The first settlers would come in 1802 and these were British sealers. They kidnapped Tasmanian indigenous women to bring with them as wives and the way we heard it described is that they were mistreated at first, but eventually the men began to respect them because they knew how to live in the untamed land of this third largest Australian island. Many of the kidnapped Aboriginal women tried to escape by crossing Backstairs Passage and this wasn't just by boat. Several swam for freedom and died trying. Records indicate that only one woman ever made the swim alive. The British would start colonizing South Australia in 1829. Kangaroo Island would be colonized in 1836 and this brought a farming community in that displaced the first islanders. By the late 1870s, only three Aboriginal women still remained and they were named Sal, Suke and Betty. Betty's descendants still live on Kangaroo Island.

There was not only sealing and farming here, but also salt harvesting. Whaling stations were set up in the 1840s at Doyle’s Bay, D’Estrees Bay and Hog Bay. In 1852, the first lighthouse was built at Cape Willoughby. This was desperately needed as the waters off of Kangaroo Island were treacherous. More lighthouses were added through the years with Cape Borda Lightstation in 1858, the Cape du Couedic Lighthouse in 1906 and Cape St Albans Lighthouse in 1908. The waters wrecked many ships like the cutter William heading for the whaling station in Hog Bay on August 23, 1847. The greatest loss of life came in 1899 when the Loch Sloy wrecked in Maupertuis Bay, Thirty-one people drowned. Other shipwrecks were the Loch Vennachar in 1905 and the Portland Maru in 1935. The first colonial settlement was Kingscote and it is the islands largest town. There are around 4,000 people living on the island, at least, there were until the bush fires. A ferry brings people in and out, along with supplies. The island has become known for its wine and honey that comes from Ligurian Bees. And it's a popular tourist destination. We wonder how many of those tourists know they are wandering onto a haunted island.

*Share fun facts about the island*

An interesting story popped up as we searched for ghost stories about a ghost boat found off of Kangaroo Island in January 2019. Apparently, Abby Sunderland left on an around-the-world sailing trip as a teenager. That's pretty brave. She suffered many setbacks and had various issues, eventually having to abandon her boat called Wild Eyes in 2010. She had to be rescued by French and Australian authorities. The boat had been lost for eight years.

There are many stories of the unexplained and hauntings on Kangaroo Island. The Aboriginal people called this the Island of the Dead for the reason. These early people were the Ngarrindjeri people and they believed that the island is where spirits traveled after death. The ancestral spirits would gather here before the final journey into heaven. Another group of people here were the Ramindjeri and they thought of the island as being the "gateway to star heaven in the Milky Way." The Ramindjeri have a spirit here of a woman who died that appears to people as a small bird.

As is the case with many of the lighthouses around the world, Kangaroo Island has haunted lighthouses. Families who stayed in the lighthouses were very isolated because no roads linked the lighthouses to the main parts of the island. This was a very hard existence.

Cape Willoughby Lighthouse

Cape Willoughby Lightstation is found in Cape Willoughby Conservation Park and was the first lightstation in South Australia. It was first lit on January 16, 1852. The cottages have claims of unexplained stuff creaking floorboards and fingers tapping on the windows. A man named Clive Daniels was staying there one night with his wife and family in 1993. The group soon figured out that they were not alone. Clive was playing his guitar and writing music inside the lighthouse alone. He could feel the atmosphere changing. The air got heavier and he heard the sound of a wooden door creaking open. The lighthouse had no wooden door. And then he heard the footsteps climbing up towards the top of the lighthouse where he was sitting. Clive's flashlight inexplicably went out. The battery had been new. Then he felt a presence. An icy cold mist surrounded him and he could feel it watching him. He shivered. He put his guitar away and made his way down the tower as best he could in the darkness. When he got outside, his flashlight turned on again. He looked back at the lighthouse and he thought he saw someone up at the top. About a half hour after he returned to the cottage he was sharing with his wife, she awoke and felt something in the room. She woke Clive and he thought it was the same presence as the one in the lighthouse. Then the shower turned itself on by itself. It ran for 15 minutes. They went to investigate when the shower turned off to see if someone had actually taken a shower at 2am. Clive's wife Robin found the bathroom empty and dry. No water in the shower, no warm misty air or steam on the mirror. The next morning, Clive's sister told him that a shadowy figure had come into her room during the night. She at first thought it was a piece of luggage and went back to sleep. She found a trail of sand on the floor and no one had been to the beach. The family finally packed up and left when a newspaper on the table had its pages flipped all on its own. What could be haunting the place? The gorge beneath the lighthouse is called the Devil's Kitchen. Several ships wrecked here killing sailors. And a lighthouse keeper died here in the lantern room in 1869.

Cape Borda Lightstation

The Cape Borda Lighthouse was originally known as Flinders Light and is perched on the cliffs of Investigator Strait, which is at the north western corner of Kangaroo Island. The lighthouse is very uniquely shaped. Rather than round, it is square and doesn't stand very tall. Construction was completed in 1858 and this is the third oldest remaining lighthouse. Supplies were brought in by ship and had to be hauled up the cliff edges. Cape Borda was automated in 1989 and is still fully operational with even the fog cannon still being fired daily. The keeper’s cottage is said to be haunted. Tourists can rented out the cottage and several have claimed to experience weird things while there. The main spirit said to be here belongs to a little girl.

Cape du Couedic Lighthouse

The Cape du Couedic Lighthouse has a tower with a red cap that was constructed from 2,000 pieces of local stone and a Fresnal lens made by Chance Brothers. There were three four-roomed cottages built as well for the keepers to use as living quarters. The way that supplies made it to the lighthouse was via boat and hauled up to the lighthouse by a flying fox winching system that was originally powered by a pair of horses. Visitors books report all the different haunting experiences visitors have had while staying here. Many people have seen the apparition of an elderly man who people believe is a former lighthouse keeper. There are weird sounds and lights turn on and off by themselves, particularly in empty cottages.

The women who write the Ghost and Girl Blog wrote an article entitled "Favourite Haunts: A Sea of Ghosts on Kangaroo Island" and in that article, one of them detailed her visit to Cape du Couedic and experiences she had writing, "I was completely restless the entire first evening of our stay. Inside the cottage, it felt as though we were constantly watched. I know it sounds terribly cliché, but this sensation was so intense that it made the hairs on the back of my neck remain permanently raised, as if something was hovering just behind me, deliberately staying out of sight. Whenever I looked up, or turned around, or walked out of one room and into another, I could not escape the feeling that at any moment I would find a stranger staring at me from within the shadows. Then on the first night, not long after I had dozed off, I was woken suddenly by what I thought was someone whispering in my ear: "My name is John..." I live in an old, stone house, and am therefore familiar with the sounds that old, stone houses make in the night: The pop and crack of the roof and floorboards as the house cools; the knocking of the stones and the rattle of sash windows and doors as it shifts and settles; the howl of the wind as it makes it way down the chimneys. And for the first two nights at Cape du Couedic, the wind howled and the sea crashed in a way that only the Southern Ocean is capable of, and all the noises we heard during those two nights we could confidently say were nothing more than the normal sounds that an old stone cottage makes during nights of wild weather. On the third night, though, we were blessed with perfect calm. The eerie sensation of being watched and followed had abated, and we found ourselves quite comfortable within the walls of the old assistant keeper's cottage. It made for an undisturbed sleep. However, in the early hours of that last morning, before the sun had even peaked above the horizon, I woke from my slumber, unmoving, but fully awake and alert. Outside it was perfectly still, not even the sound of a bird could be heard. And then, just as it had been reported countless times in the visitor books, there came the sound of movement from the other end of the corridor outside the bedroom: A shuffling, thumping and tapping, the distinct sounds of someone pulling on boots, followed by footsteps proceeding down the hallway to the front door, first becoming louder at their approach, before gently fading away. The tales of the ghosts of Cape du Couedic do not reveal, nor even hazard a guess at the identity of the spirit whose footsteps are so regularly heard making their way down the hallway in the cottage. I like to think that it is one of the old assistant light-keepers making his early-morning check of the lighthouse. Whilst it's easy to make assumptions, it's more difficult to confirm if any of the assistant light-keeper's stationed at Cape du Couedic, and resident of the same cottage, were actually named John. It'd be a neat coincidence if there was, though."

Cape St Albans Lighthouse

Cape St Albans Lighthouse was built in 1908 out of stone and painted white. Access to the lantern room was unusual in that a cast iron staircase was built on the outside. The tower had a fixed white light with a red sector to warn of the Scraper Shoal and was unmanned running off of kerosene. In 1914, the light was converted acetylene gas. A switch to electricity was made in 1976. We couldn't find any ghost stories for this one.

A possible ghost light was seen on the island in 1998. Two people were out walking on Snelling Beach on the island late at night when they saw a yellowish white light on the hillside. This ghost light moved south along the valley at about tree level and then suddenly turned and started coming towards the witnesses. The color of the light changed from yellow to a bright white and grew from the size of a tennis ball to the size of a dinner plate. The light changed direction again and moved away from the witnesses and got smaller. A second light joined the first a little bit later and then they both disappeared over the hillside.

Now I don't usually get into talking about UFO sightings, but there have been a couple of interesting reports from Kangaroo Island that were reported on the Haunted Adelaide Blog. Alan POtter was a radio technician apprentice who was working at the Adelaide Airport in 1969 tracking a Fokker Friendship aeroplane when he reported seeing a second object flying in a straight line towards the aeroplane. Potter told ABC Radio of the incident, "I still don't think I believe in UFO’s but I can't explain this. As the Fokker tracked towards Kangaroo Island, a smaller echo, much smaller than the Fokker, appeared to leave the large echo and fly in a line directly towards the plane. With one rotation of the radar antennae, that large echo had moved 70 nautical miles to the north-east, in the next pass it had disappeared off the screen completely."

The bush fires on Kangaroo Island are devastating. Countless animals have been killed and lots of gorgeous acreage will now have to rebuild. This is a land of mystique and legends among the Aboriginal people. Are there spirits here? Is Kangaroo Island haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

HGB Ep. 322 - New Orleans' Haunted Brothels

Moment in Oddity - Masonic Temple Becomes a Family Home
(Suggested by Kim Gasiorowski and Erina Garcia)

Back in 2017, the Cannizzaro family decided to make a big change and this was facilitated with an interesting purchase.  Theresa and Atom Cannizzaro bought a former Masonic Temple in Indiana and have been renovating it into their new home ever since. The couple and their three children had lived in San Diego all their lives, but they wanted a change and thought that perhaps a farm in the Midwest would be perfect. A Masonic Temple is no farm, but when they attended a family reunion in Indiana and spotted the building for sale, they immediately fell in love. The price tag was nice too. They paid only $89,000 for the property. They quickly began renovating, starting with the bathrooms and they installed a shower. The second floor has become their living space, which has the typical open-floor design with a large kitchen and living room connected in that space. The offices were turned into five bedrooms. The great room on the third floor has become a movie theater for the family. The basement is wide open and the couple hope to eventually turn it into an event space for the community. But perhaps they could consider opening it up to investigations as Theresa thinks the house is haunted and has heard the jangling of janitor's keys in that basement. The library is supposedly haunted too. The kids enjoy riding their bikes down there. Turning a 20,000 square foot former meeting place for a secretive male fraternity into a family home, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Yorkshire Ripper Confesses

In the month of January, on the 4th, in 1981, truck driver Peter Sutcliffe confesses that he is the "Yorkshire Ripper." Sutcliffe murdered 13 women over a six year period. He attacked his first woman in 1969, but she didn't press charges. This started him down a road of targeting women with his first murder victim being a mother of four. The women he killed were Marguerite Walls, Yvonne Pearson, Jayne MacDonald, Josephine Whitaker, Wilma McCann, Patricia Atkinson, Helen Rytka, Jacqueline Hill, Irene Richardson, Vera Millward, Barbara Leach, Jean Jordan and Emily Jackson. It took awhile to arrest Sutcliffe. He was questioned and released nine times because he gave a false alibi. The police had zeroed in on him because of a five pound note left at the scene of a murder victim that was traced to a group of 8,000 workers who had been paid with this set of bills. He initially was arrested for having false plates on his car. They found a hammer, knife and rope in his car and he confessed to being the Ripper. He claimed he was a paranoid schizophrenic, but was still found guilty and sentenced to 20 concurrent life sentences. An appeal was dismissed and the court said he would never have the opportunity to be released.

New Orleans' Haunted Brothels

*Special note: The modern accepted vernacular at the time of publication for the term prostitute is sex worker. We will not being using this term, not only because the historical value is questionable, but we find its use questionable. Sex worker is impersonal and dehumanizing to us. We prefer to use Ladies of the Evening or just simply women or ladies. Also, we will be talking about madams. These were the boss ladies of the brothels and we are torn on how to present them. These women were caught up in an industry that they probably had little choice in being a part of and managed to rise to the top. That is laudable. But they also were making money off of women being used for sex. They were better than a pimp, of course, but how much better? We tend to glamorize them in movies, books and history. So we will try to walk that fine line.*

Storyville was about two things: women and music. This area was a famous red-light district in New Orleans that would give birth to jazz. Today, it no longer exists, but its legacy does and the place it holds in New Orleans' history is significant. Brothels were plentiful in this city of vice and some of these structures still stand today. The lady bosses of these establishments are some of the most famous people in New Orleans' history and some of them still have a hold on the city as the subjects of ghost stories. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of New Orleans' Brothels!

When France decided to send some of her citizens to their territory known as Nouvelle Orleans to expand the population, the country didn't pick her best citizens. France sent its criminals. John Law was a Scottish financier who managed to worm his way into controlling this French colony in America. He told the Duke of Orleans that he had a plan to expand the population. It was his idea to send the criminals. He offered the male and female convicts a one-way ticket to the colony if they agreed to marry each other and then they would have land and provisions. One hundred eighty-four female prisoners picked mates and were married. They were then shipped off to the New World where they actually would not have land or provisions. Later, people from hospitals and asylums were sent as well. Before long, New Orleans was a crazy place that was very dangerous.

For women, this new world was just more of what they already knew. Their main prospects were in the sex industry. Over the years, several areas of New Orleans became known as red light districts. The most famous of these was Storyville, which was on the outskirts of the French Quarter. The district ran along Basin Street, between Canal Street and St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 and between Iberville (Customhouse) and Robertson Streets. The area got its name from Alderman Sidney Story in honor of the fact that he created an ordinance in 1897 to legalize prostitution in the area that became Storyville. The nickname "Tenderloin District" was sometimes used for it. Business ran here in the form of brothels and saloons from 1897 until 1917. Brothels ran the gamut from cheap run-down buildings with cribs to fancy mansions for the upscale clientele. Some of the brothels were segregated, while others had a mix of races. Some may wonder why the city would legalize that sort of activity. This actually was so the city could have some control over a business that was getting way out of hand. Some women would do their business right on the street for very little money with any man that didn't mind a little exhibition. Other women would drag men back to their cribs and either rob them or rob them and kill them and the police would never find the bodies.

New Orleans had a unique guide for the man about town looking for a good time, the Blue Book.
Blue Books were basically guidebooks to sin giving clients all the information they needed for finding liquor and women and they offered venereal disease cures. Not all of them were blue. Some were actually red. The books were pocket-sized and sold in barber shops, hotel, railroad stations and saloons. Hundreds of ladies of the evening were listed and categorized by race. To give you an idea of the contents, here are a couple of examples. A blue book published in 1907 described Madame Emma Johnson’s brothel as "Emma’s 'Home of all Nations,' as it is commonly called, is one place of amusement you can’t very well afford to miss while in the Tenderloin District. Everything goes here. Fun is the watchword." Another listing from a 1905 book reads, "Miss Cummings also has the distinction of keeping one of the quietest and most elaborately furnished establishments in the city, where an array of beautiful women, and good times reign supreme. A visit will teach more than the pen can describe." They were considered lewd at the time, but are pretty tame in our modern world.

A military base was built near Storyville and the rule was that no place of prostitution could be within five miles of the base and so prostitution was outlawed in 1917. Mayor Martin “Papa” Behrman wholly supported the civic implementation of Storyville and traveled to Washington, D.C. in 1917 when there was a threat to shut down Storyville and he said, “You can make it illegal, but you can’t make it unpopular.” Many of the former brothels were demolished eventually. Today, only three structures from Storyville are still standing. The Iberville Housing Projects grew up in the remnants of Storyville. These projects were the last of the New Deal era public housing that had been built in New Orleans. They were demolished and today they are a modernized apartment complex called the Bienville Basin Apartments. This is the fourth incarnation of the neighborhood. So finding a haunted former brothel in Storyville is impossible, but some former madams seem to still be around in the afterlife.

Kate Townsend

There once stood a grand brothel at 40 Basin Street in New Orleans before prostitution was legalized and the neighborhood became known as Storyville. This brothel was built by Kate Townsend in 1866. I first heard about Kate Townsend in Episode 59 of the Southern Mysteries Podcast. I encourage you to check it out to get the full story. Kate Townsend was born in Liverpool, England as Katherine Cunningham. She fell for a man she met working as a barmaid and became pregnant with twins. She left for America sometime in 1856 and landed in New York. In early 1857, she moved to New Orleans. Clara Fisher had a brothel on Phillipa Street and she quickly embraced the beautiful and voluptuous Kate, who worked for her for six months. Kate then moved on to Maggie Thompson's brothel where she stayed until she was 24-years-old. She decided to make a go of it on her own and rented a house and made her way into the lives of politicians and influential people in New Orleans. She soon had enough money to built her own brothel, which she did as we said at 40 Basin Street. This was a gorgeous house that rose three stories and was built from brownstone and marble. The marble also made its way inside for the fireplace mantelpieces. The furnishings were of black walnut with damask upholstery and velvet carpet covered the floors. The brothel and interiors cost around a hundred thousand dollars, which is a little over 3 million dollars today. The grandest room was Kate's, of course, decorated with marble statuettes, a French mirror that was gilded, costly oil paintings and the finest linens. Kate's women were the highest paid in the profession and most encounters started at $100.

Things were great for Kate for many years and her brothel was incredibly successful. As we read about Kate, we found that she had a man named Treville Egbert Sykes who was her fancy man for twenty-five years and many stories claimed that they lived as husband and wife. He kept the books and ran the business. Obviously, we had to look up what this term fancy man was all about and we found two meanings. One was that this was a pimp, which doesn't make much sense when talking about a madam, and the other was the lover of a Lady of the Evening. So this Sykes was longtime boyfriend. She started seeing another man and this made Sykes angry, but he was no match for Kate who could apparently hold her own. He made her angry enough, that she told one of her girls that she would basically like to gut him with a knife. This young woman talked her out of that, but she continued to beat Sykes off and on. On November 3, 1883, the Picayune published a story about the murder of Kate Townsend, "Carved to death! Terrible fate of Kate Townsend at the hands of Treville Sykes with the instrumentality of a bowie knife. Her breast and shoulders literally covered with stabs." Yep, Sykes killed Kate. He stabbed her eleven times with her own bowie knife and claimed that it was self-defense, that she had been coming at him with the knife and after he took it from her, she grabbed a pair of pruning shears. Sykes was tried and acquitted and actually presented a will that gave him Kate's estate. Eventually, that went to court and with court costs, legal counsel and such, Sykes got about $34. Kate was laid out in the drawing room in an expensive white silk dress with all the furniture covered in white silk too. She was buried in a $400 metallic coffin.

Josie Arlington

The Arlington was an opulent brownstone opened up by Josie Arlington and was located at 225 North Basin Street. This was an elegant four story mansion with a tulip-domed cupola, numerous bay windows and the interior had the finest furnishings and the works of great artists. There was a Turkish, American and Chinese Parlor. She had anywhere from ten to twenty women working for her with the higher number being during Mardi Gras season. The Arlington wasn't her first brothel. She had operated a house at No. 172 Customhouse. She had a boyfriend through most of her early work and while at this house, but he shot her brother and she broke things off. About this time, the Storyville ordinance went through and she opened The Arlington. Josie was one of the most notorious madams in Storyville, but her brothel was one of the classiest and she paid her girls well at $5 an hour. She had been born Mary Deubler and started her life in prostitution at the age of seventeen. Josie was known to have a quick temper and to be a spunky fighter. Marita Woywod Crandle writes of Josie in her book "Josie Arlington's Storyville: The Life and Times of a New Orleans Madam,"This crafty creature turned the tables from what had been a somewhat scary and dangerous beginning to an extraordinary existence." Josie unfortunately suffered from early onset dementia and died in 1914 when she was only 50. She was originally buried at Metairie Cemetery in a tomb designed by Albert Weiblen. The memorial is a red marble tomb topped by two blazing pillars and features a bronze female figure. The grave became a tourist attraction because of her reputation and her family was mortified, so they had the body moved. But her spirit remains, perhaps because the body was moved. One of the legends told about her former grave is that the bronze female figure leaves its post at the door of the monument and walks around the other graves. And early on, people claimed that the tomb would appear to burst into flames after dark. Two grave diggers said they witnessed the statue of the girl at the door vanish and walk about in the cemetery. And it is said she continues to do that to this day. The urn outside the memorial is said to glow red as well.

Lulu White

Lulu White was the Diamond Queen of Storyville. She was mixed race and ran a very successful brothel, Mahogany Hall. Her place was known for its diversity and wealthy white men loved it. The women here were mainly known as octaroons, meaning they were one-eighth black, and Lulu White was one of them. Octaroon is obviously considered offensive today, but it was an important distinction at the time because of what it revealed about slavery for black women who were raped and impregnated by white masters. And it puts a light on racism as the fact that even having one drop of black blood made one segregated. But as we said, despite the race of the women inside, this brothel was very successful. White had it built for $40,000 and it was described as "unquestionably the most elaborately furnished house in the city of New Orleans, and without a doubt one of the most elegant palaces in this or any other country." A pamphlet claimed her girls were "gifted with nature's best charms." The building stood four-stories and had five parlors and fifteen bedrooms. The exterior and interior were built from marble. Her life began in Selma, Alabama and she came to New Orleans in 1880. She was called the Diamond Queen because she was known to dress in jewels and loved to look glamorous. When Storyville was shut down in 1917, she was left in debt and destitute before leaving the city. She died in poverty in 1931. Louis Armstrong recorded Mahogany Hall Stomp, which is a tribute the place. The building survived most of the other brothels, serving as a department store warehouse until November 22, 1949 when it was razed and turned into a parking garage. Lulu White's Saloon at 237 Basin Street still does exist.

Norma Wallace

Norma Wallace was a woman born in Mississippi who relocated to New Orleans with her mother and brother. For some reason, she announced to her mother at the age of twelve that she wanted to run her own brothel some day. I'm not sure what life she lived, but the prospect of being a woman servicing men and not in control of her life was not appealing, but being a madam was because she never wanted to be reliant on a man. She was so committed that she traveled to Chicago and New York to study under the best madams. She opened her own brothel at 1026 Conti Street in 1917. She had bad timing as the legalization of prostitution was ending, but she still managed to be successful and she was never caught. She always got a tip that the police were coming and she would get out with her girls before they arrived. They did this by connecting a ladder to the saloon next door and they would make their way across the rungs. She had a gangster boyfriend that brought everything to an end when he shot her in front of the brothel.

She lived, but eventually lost almost all her money when the banks collapsed in the 1930s. She started stashing money at the brothel since she didn't trust the banks. The brothel shut down in the 1960s when she was arrested. She decided to convert the place into an Italian restaurant. This was the end of openly run brothels in New Orleans. Norma found out her husband was having an affair and she shot herself in the head. Now it is said that she haunts 1026 Conti Street. There are seven apartments here today and people who live there claim to hear the tinkling of glasses, to smell the scent of cigarette smoke - Norma was a heavy smoker - and they hear music and husky laughter.

Gallatin Alley

Gallatin Alley was a notorious location that is now known as French Market Place. This is a stretch of two blocks that has many shops, but was once filled with saloons, dance halls and bordellos. This was a dangerous place full of thieves, drunks, drug dealers, murderers and, of course, Ladies of the Evening. One would not believe that the ladies could be the most dangerous, but many of them could be. They swindled the men and a few of them were even murderers. These included Mary Jane "Bricktop" Jackson who stabbed many men, killing four of them, Bridget Fury who was also known as Delia Swift and America Williams, who was very tall and got into many brawls with men. It ran this way from 1840 to the mid-1870s.

Smokey Row

Another red light district could be found between Bienville and Conti Streets along Burgundy Street behind the French Quarter that was called Smokey Row. This name came from the fact that this was a district where African American women worked. This was s place where a cheap date could be found with many women working in cribs and charging as little as fifteen cents.These women were hard, chewing tobacco, stealing from customers and drinking rot gut whiskey.

The Creole Gardens Inn

The Creole Gardens Inn is an historic 19th century antebellum mansion that was originally built in the 1840s for the Reverend Benjamin Palmer. He lived here during the Civil War and considered Jefferson Davis his friend. He stayed in the home until he died in 1902 after being struck by a streetcar. Today, this is a bed and breakfast with many remnants of the past. Some of the rooms had been part of the old slave quarters and when Storyville was in full swing, some of the rooms were part of a bordello. Rooms have been named for some of the madams of that era. There is a lot of southern charm here, but there are also spirits. When the inn was been renovated, contracters witnessed heavy doors closing and opening on their own. They also found bathroom tiles stacked very neatly one morning when they had not been left that way the day before. The energy seemed to be fed by guests staying and the activity increased with people claiming to hear disembodied voices, feelings of being watched and they would see shadow figures. The top spot in the inn is Room 2C where people experience cold spots and have been pushed or experienced vertigo.

May Baily's Place

The Dauphine Orleans Hotel sits on land that passed through many hands through the decades, most of whom were rich families. A Charity Hospital spent time there for awhile. This hospital provided care to anyone regardless of race or social status. A red light sits outside May Baily's Place at the Dauphine Orleans Hotel as an homage to its former history and is decorated with Victorian wallpaper and gold accents. This bar was one of the first and most notorious brothels just outside of Storyville. As was the case for many brothels, this one was around long before prostitution was legalized. May Baily was granted her operating license in 1857. Now you might be wondering since this kind of business wasn't legal yet, how did May Baily get that license. Apparently, the police would go around and fine these establishments to get them to clean up their acts. May had no intention of shutting down, so she paid the fines ahead of time and this became a brothel license. That also explains how her's became the first. The building that hosted the brothel was built in 1821. The original purpose of all things, was to be a convent. Several wounded Confederate soldiers died here during the Civil War and many more found comfort in the arms of May Baily's ladies.

One of those former employees is said to still be roaming the halls of the Dauphine Orleans Hotel. She apparently was a courtesan who had a special talent for mixing cocktails for her gentleman callers. And for that reason, most people who have encounters with this spirit, have them in the back of the bar where liquor bottles move about and a shadow is seen in the mirror. She responds most favorably to men, although she has been blamed for locking a few in the bathroom. Civil War era ghosts are seen here too. Many are seen accompanied by a Lady of the Evening. A man in a general's uniform is seen sometimes pacing the courtyard looking rather worried. There are guests who claim to have their beds shaken by something they can't see. Could this be residual movement for something else? The Ballroom hosts a dancing entity that people say is named Jewell and a little orb seen around this spirit is said to be a ghost cat. Patrons see brochures and books fly off of shelves. May Baily's sister Millie lived at the brothel and is seen roaming the hallways and is our Woman in White here. She wears a wedding dress to be specific. People have nicknamed her the "Lost Bride" and it seems she is searching for her groom who was a Confederate soldier that was killed. One of the craziest stories reports a bar stool levitating off the ground.

Two of the main haunts are Suite 110 and Suite 111. Suite 110 likes to keep the guests out. Many times the door will not unlock or it won't open even when unlocked. Housekeeping staff has the most experiences with lots of poltergeist type pranks and the lights are often turned off, leaving them in darkness. Guests complain of having their covers yanked off them at night too. Suite 111 is right above the bar and in this room objects and furniture get moved around on their own. The apparition people report in here is an African American man. People call him George.

The Hermann House is across the street from the Dauphine Orleans Hotel and is owned by the hotel. This home was owned by German born Samuel Hermann, Sr. He moved to the Louisiana colony to chase opportunity and he found it through many investments. He married a woman from a wealthy family and worked as an agent and broker for plantations. In 1813, Hermann and his family relocated to New Orleans and had architect William Brand build his home. It was done in the Federal Style and spared no expense including several coats of paint. About six years after moving into the house, the English Cotton Market crashed in which Hermann was heavily invested. He eventually lost the house. Today, it is a museum known as the Hermann-Grima House. At some point, it was known as the White Elephant.

The White Elephant was quite different then May Baily's place. It was pretty low-class where the ladies stood in the doorways trying to entice the men to come inside. They were not considered very classy. Two of these women were Nellie O'Neal and Eliza Riddle. Riddle was cunning and violent, known to beat up other women. One she clunked over the head on two separate occasions and another on she hit with a lamp. She was arrested at least twenty-four times. There were rumors that men had been killed at the White Elephant and buried in the courtyard. Not sure if Riddle had anything to do with that, but we wouldn't be surprised.

The Hermann House is reputedly haunted. Guests feel cold spots when the AC is off, bursts of an icy wind and the disembodied sounds of soft music playing. Lights turn off an on by themselves and footsteps are heard, even on the carpeting.

Mississippi River Bar

Near to Gallatin Street and on the side of the French Quarter sits the Mississippi River Bar. Locals call it the MRB.This was another tough area of town and at about this point, it seems that most of the French Quarter was this way. Fights were a regular occurrence with the local papers reporting things like a barber striking a journalist "in the left eye with a colt [ . . . ] thereby endangering his life and considerably marring his beauty." The Mississippi River Bar had been a brothel in the 19th century. There was a young Irish woman who was working there and looking for a way to get out. She fell in love with a young man who promised to marry her. He went off to war and was killed. And like so many of these stories, this one ends with her hanging herself out in the courtyard from despair.

Her spirit is said to be here still. She hangs out in the women's bathroom most of the time where she turns the lights off and on and when women are washing their hands at the sink and look into the mirror, they sometimes see the apparition of the woman standing behind them. Now, we don't know how true this is, but some stories claim that some women get their heads are smashed into the mirror. Management has had to replace the mirror.

Hotel Villa Convento

The Hotel Villa Convento is located at 616 Ursuline Avenue and there are claims that it is the most haunted hotel in New Orleans. Many of you have probably heard the song "House of the Rising Sun" and this hotel is rumored to be that very house. But keep in mind that many brothels had a carved quarter rising sun marking them in some way, so it could be argued that all brothels are "Houses of the Rising Sun." The land under this structure was owned by the Ursuline nuns. The Ursuline nun convent in New Orleans is one of the creepiest places when considering it in light of the vampire stories told about it. Diane tells the story of the casket girls. The original convet started with fourteen nuns who were sent to help the poor and sick and to educate the young girls in the city. They built timber structures that didn't hold up in the southern weather. In 1823, they moved to the Ursuline Convent that stands today.

Jean Baptiste Poeyfarre purchased the land from the nuns and built a Creole townhome in 1833. The property was sold in 1843 to Octave Voorheis and he lost it after the Civil War in 1872. The house passed through several hands and was bought by Pasquale Taromina in 1902. The Tarominas lived there until 1946. The widow sold the property and it again passed through a few hands and was converted to housekeeping rooms. Many of the residents were students and they called it Old Town Villa. Fun Fact: Jimmy Buffett was one of those students. The Campo Family bought the Villa Convento in September of 1981. There are a variety of rooms for rent at the hotel running from suites to smaller budget rooms. It was probably during the late nineteenth century that the house served as the brothel.

The Hotel Villa Convento is thought to be one of the more haunted locations here. Many people believe that the main ghost here is the former madam of the brothel. Women rarely experience anything here. Most unexplained activity happens to men. One story reports that a couple checked into the hotel and the husband went out to have a smoke. He was started when he heard his name. It was early in the morning and no one was up, but he still thought he would turn around and see his wife. She was not there. He went in and asked his wife if she had called him and she said she had not.
Later, they decided to head out and explore the French Quarter. They returned to their room and the wife got into bed while the man went into the restroom. He heard a female voice say his name again. This was whispered in his ear and really freaked him out. He actually yelled out and woke up his wife to tell her what happened. They searched the room and found no one, of course.

Guests claim to hear disembodied laughter and feel people sit on the bed that they cannot see. Many times, male guests claim to wake up and see female spirits shrouded in black like shadows hovering above them and staring at them. Kalila Smith wrote, "New Orleans Ghosts, Voodoo and Vampires, Journey Into Darkness" and he also founded the Haunted History Tours in New Orleans. In the book he writes of an experience one of their tour guests told him on Page 64.

The history of brothels, madams and Ladies of the Evening in New Orleans is extensive. It's an important history. Is it a haunted history? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, January 2, 2020

HGB Ep. 321 - Malvern Manor

Moment in Oddity - Worst Hole of Golf Ever

Some of you probably find golf to be of interest. We really don't, but there is one hole of golf that made the history books that was both interesting and odd, all at the same time. This took place all the way back in 1913 and happened at the Shawnee Invitational for Ladies. A female golfer named M. H. Meehan set up her shot and gave it a whack, only to watch it fly up and into a tributary of the Delaware River. This would give her a penalty stroke as we understand if she didn't play the shot. Something in her must have thought that she could whack that floating ball back to the green and that the result would be better then taking the penalty because she convinced her husband to row her out into the river aboard a row boat. She swung and swung at the ball as the judges counted her swings. On the fortieth stroke, she finally hit the ball back onto land, but it was in the woods off the green. She bushwhacked through the woods and just as she got the ball to the main green, it got stuck between two rocks. This was like the challenging mini golf hole from Hell. It took another dozen swings to free the ball from the rocks. She got it up onto the green and finally into the hole on stroke 161. We're not sure if this was persistence, stubbornness or something else, but it certainly was odd!

This Month in History - Lord Haw Haw Executed

In the month of January, on the 3rd, in 1946, William Joyce, who was better known as Lord Haw Haw was hanged for treason in London. Joyce was an Irish American Fascist who had broadcast Nazi propaganda via radio from Germany to Britain during World War II. He opened his broadcasts with "Germany calling, Germany calling"in what sounded like an upper-class English accent. Joyce would try to escape the collapse of the Third Reich. He moved to the Dutch border when Berlin was bombed in 1945. The Nazis initially were going to smuggle Joyce and his wife Margaret to Ireland aboard a U-boat, but that plan had to be abandoned. He made his last broadcast on April 30, 1945. He was clearly drunk. On the same night of his last broadcast, a car whisked him and his wife away and they were carried into Denmark. The couple continued to run as the British hunted them down. Joyce had a prominent scar on his right cheek and he was recognized while walking on a road one day. He was shot in the buttocks by a German Jew serving in the British army using a captured Nazi weapon. Very poignant. He was tried and found guilty of treason, but was acquitted on two charges because he was American and so the British couldn't claim that he had betrayed them. A third charge stuck though as the Attorney General pointed out that even though Joyce had lied to get his British passport, he had British diplomatic protection under it meaning he owed allegiance to the King at the time. He was found guilty and sentenced to death. He was executed on January 3, 1946 at Wandsworth Prison.

Malvern Manor

Malvern is located in Southwest Iowa. This is a really small town similar to most of the small towns we visited in Iowa. Agriculture is the main economy here, but for Malvern, they have a claim to fame that gives them a tourism angle. Malvern Manor is here and is reputedly one of the most haunted buildings in America. This was a former hotel that became a place for the discarded people of society. Could this be why this place has so many spirits locked inside of it today? We got to take a tour of the place and also had the opportunity to do a mini investigation. Join us as we share the history and hauntings of Malvern Manor!

I first heard about Malvern Manor from a podcasting friend named Josh Heard. He hosts the Ectoplasm Show and I remember a few years back that he talked about buying this property with several people that was located in Iowa. Since then, I had heard a little about this location and most of what I heard was that this place was really haunted. So when we decided to visit my sister in Iowa and were mapping out a plan to hit some haunted locations, when we saw that Malvern Manor was only about 40 minutes from Omaha, Nebraska, we wanted to try to visit. We didn't think we would have time, but we mentioned wanting to check it out to Jessica and Erina Garcia and they said they'd like to join us, so we made it part of our plan the day they chauffered us around.

Malvern Manor is named for the city in which it resides, Malvern, Iowa. Malvern started as a pioneer village named Milton and was founded in 1869 by John Paddock. He and his wife built a store and soon more people came when the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad was completed there. The town changed its name and really exploded. Factories started popping up within the farming community. There was a poultry factory, hog packing plant, and an electric generating factory. As the agricultural community began to shrink, the economy of Malvern went down and people moved away. Today, Malvern is a small, mainly agricultural town.

We pulled up to Malvern Manor and immediately noticed that this is a place in need of some love. It's a bit shabby. Josh was mowing the lawn and greeted us with a big smile. It was great getting to meet him in person. Josh had us sign a pretty detailed waiver and then he took our group through, giving us a personal tour that lasted about 20 minutes and then he set us free to do our investigating. We didn't know much more than, you paid $10 and got a tour, so the chance to explore and investigate was a nice surprise. The basic history of the structure is that it started as a house that was built in 1870 by A.B. Ringlan. In 1890, the house had rooms added to it and became the Cottage Hotel. This was a nice family run place that was close to the train and many salesmen stopped in to get a good meal and a night's rest. Most nights it was booked solid. An Iowa atlas advertised it in 1912 as charging only $2 for a room and a meal. As more and more people started turning to cars for transportation, the hotel started losing business. The hotel eventually was converted into a convalescent home in the 1950s and then a place for the castoffs of society: the developmentally disabled, the addicted and the mentally ill. There was not enough staff, so neglect and abuse became a big part of the story here and quite possibly could be why the place has such a haunted reputation.

The first room we started investigating was the Captain's room. This room was like taking a trip back to the 80s with a tube TV that has the old turn dials. There was a simple twin mattress in here and a sink in the corner. The walls are painted a sky blue. The room is full of light because of the windows and does not feel heavy. We got out the dowsing rods and asked a few questions, but we got no activity in this room. The stories about the Captain are numerous. Many times, investigators claim that he has scratched or push them. It is believed that the Captain runs the place in the spiritual realm. Josh believes that the Captain dislikes all the investigators coming through.

Next we headed to Suzie's room. This room was painted a bright yellow and was a jumble of children's toys and coloring books, most of them strewn across the twin bed. Suzie was a middle-aged resident who was mentally challenged with the intellect of an eight-year-old. This is why there are toys and such in this room. We introduced ourselves and then Kelly started using the dowsing rods. We also got out our flashlight and the EMF detector and invited Suzie to turn the devises on. Here is a sound bite from that and the knocking you hear is construction going on. (Suzie Room) So you hear us checking to make sure the rods aren't being triggered by water. Josh had told us that Suzie never leaves her room and that she has indicated to investigators that a man makes her stay in there, so we asked her about that. She seems to answer that it is a spirit. We do return to her room again and get a few more answers with the rods. We left her an HGB Button pin on her dresser. Another investigator once caught a Class A EVP in here of a voice answering "pink" when asked what her favorite color.

We went to Inez's Room next and here is what Josh told us about Inez. (Josh Inez) This time we got Jessica to hold the rods while we did our session, which we like because she was unfamiliar with them and has less of a chance of swaying them. Incidentally, we are brainstorming some things with Dolly to develop a way to have the rods held stable without human interaction. Although we also wonder if our energy is needed to help move the rods. These are all experiments we want to try as we continue to investigate the unexplained. The story behind Inez is that she never lived in the manor, but rather lived a couple of houses down. She was just a young girl when she hanged herself in her closet. Her spirit is thought to be at the manor because she liked visiting it as a child. This was a hotel at that time. Or it could be that the investigations going on here have attracted her spirit. Here is a sound bite of our investigation (Inezs Room) So yeah, we seemed to have a male spirit just passing through or something. But other people have heard the sound of a child running up and down the hallway outside this room. That's the weird thing, the sound of children. And the place is full of random children's shoes here and there. Why?

At this point, we're kinda disappointed with the activity, but we haven't done our investigations at the Squirrel Cage Jail or Villisca House yet, which I'm glad or we might have been even more disappointed. For this place being crazy haunted, we weren't getting much. The eeriest place in the manor is this hallway that has blood all along the walls and a handprint at the end. Here is Josh talking about that. (Josh Blood) We headed into Henry's room. This is a guy who traditionally is thought to not like women, so we were a bit apprehensive as four women standing in his room. We did a dowsing rod session. We felt pretty welcome. We'll play that interaction here. (Henrys Room)

We headed up to the creepy attic. This is a malevolent area with stories of growling, disembodied voices and other kinds of sounds. Josh said that people feel a tightness in their chest and then they get nauseous and get sick sometimes. There are lots of beer cans and cigarettes up here, almost as though they have been left as offerings. There are two crawl spaces up here that Josh has been inside of several times and he has found playing cards and keys. He usually is trying to find critters that may have died. Erina did not join us up here. The only interaction we got up here was basically the entity telling us they wanted us to leave. 

Gracie's Room was our next stop. This room was fairly dark with a hospital bed that still had the head position set upright and a wheelchair. A little nearby shelf on the wall held her glasses. This is the dwelling area for one of the manor's more well known ghosts. Her story is a tragic one as she was diagnosed with both Schizophrenia and Multiple Personality Disorder or what we now refer to as Dissociative Identity Disorder. No one is sure how many personalities Gracie had locked in her brain, but nurses once documented thirteen personalities in a two hour period. Josh says that he believes that some of the entities that people encounter here could be some of her different personalities. And this is hugely fascinating to us and a reason we would want to go back and investigate with more purpose in the future. Imagine the possibility that there is only one spirit in this building, but that she can present as a series of personalities. And then what does that say about the afterlife. Are these just all residual imprints? Is Gracie still suffering from these illnesses in the afterlife? No one wants to believe that is possible. We have Richard Estep's book on Malvern Manor and it is titled, "The Devil's Coming to Get Me." The book bears that title because it is something that would come out of Grace's mouth many times in a low gruff tone as though a man were speaking. The staff would be chilled to the bones when they heard this, particularly because it tended to happen at night. We got a bunch of nothing in her room as this sound bite indicates. (Gracies Room)

Another one of the sad rooms here belongs to a nameless woman who was admitted by her husband at a young age. She had become obsessed with the idea that he no longer found her attractive and that he was going to leave. No treatment seemed to help her. Staff would find her standing at the mirror in her room and she would be pulling out chunks of her own hair. She just slowly deteriorated and died shortly thereafter. Visitors often report seeing her spirit at the mirror looking very angry.

The Internet will tell you that the rooms right below the attic, Rooms 17 and 18, contain some really sinister energy. The story that is told is that there were two men here that lived across the hall from one another. After the nightly bed check, the one patient would cross the hall, enter the other male patient's room and physically and sexually abuse him. This went on for years it was believed. But Josh told us that his investigations have him thinking something else quite different was going on and this will make it very poignant that the four of us investigating are two lesbian couples. Josh thinks that the men were in a relationship and that the activity was consensual, but not allowed in the house and that is why there was the sneaking going on. Here is some audio of us in this room. (Gay Rooms) So it seems like we were getting responses that the gay angle might be true.

The most unsettling area of the manor was a dark hallway that branched off of the nursing station. There was not much left of the nursing station, save for shelving that was made into wooden pigeon-holes similar to mail slots or boxes. The names of whomever each box belonged to where still visible and Josh told us that they had found items still in these boxes. After telling us a bit about the station, Josh pointed down a hallway that branched off to the left, the end of which was swallowed in darkness. It is from a door at the very end that Josh says many people claim to see a shadow figure emerge and then rush down the hallway at them before dissipating. He believes them because it has happened to him too, at least 3 times. He says he hates to vacuum in this hallway. And Josh pointed out that the rushing is faster than running. No human being could move this fast. You know us, we just had to wander down that hallway to Room 2, which we found to be padlocked. Here is the audio from that. (Shadow Man Hallway). So you hear us there at the end that we basically got a whole lot of nothing throughout the building. We definitely think the Shadow Man is nothing to fear and just a residual occurrence.

Dolly, who joined us at the jail and Villisca House, went and did a public investigation at the Malvern Manor about a month and a half after we did. She was disappointed in the fact that the group of people that were there with her treated most of this as a joke with boyfriends trying to share girlfriends and one kid with a ton of equipment who was catching a ton of activity that she didn't feel was legit. We trust Dolly and we consider her a part of the HGB Paranormal Investigation Team and she got a whole lot of nothing and left early knowing that anyone not taking this stuff seriously is not going to get any kind of worthwhile results. That's one thing people can always trust with us. We don't make stuff up and we don't provoke.

This place has a crazy history and walking through it is a time capsule that has captured a place of disregard and sadness. Today, it seems to be more of a paranormal investigators playground. Although we had very little of what we would call activity, is the Malvern Manor haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

HGB Ep. 320 - General Dodge House

Moment in Oddity - Kitty Cat Gods

Is there any doubt that cats think they are gods? This is their world and we just live in it. And that living, is to serve them. But there are humans who have thought of cats as gods too.  Sephardic Jews had ancient myths about Lilith that claimed she roamed the Earth as a black vampire cat named El Broosha and that she sucked the blood of newborn babies. Matagots are a cat god from European folklore that are magical. People claimed that Dick Whittington was able to attain his position of mayor of London in the 15th century because of his matagot. The French believed that once a matagot was lured into the house, perhaps by way of a plump mouse, that their home would have good luck. Li Shou was an ancient fertility cat goddess to the Chinese and it was believed that she brought rain and protected crops. The Chinese also believed that the ability for humans to talk was given to them by cats who could once speak. And then there is the ancient Egyptian goddess Bastet who had a cat head. Her name meant devouring lady and her feast day was October 31st. She was associated with music, dancing, motherhood and vengeance. She would destroy the bodies of the dead with her flame if they failed a test to enter the underworld. For this reason, the Egyptians would hold big funerals for dead cats and bury them with riches and gem-studded cat figurines. We like cats, but to treat them like gods, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Joyce Kilmer Born

In the month of December, on the 6th, in 1886, American journalist and poet Joyce Kilmer was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Kilmer had graduated from Rutgers College and Columbia University and became a literary editor and worked on the staff of the New York Times. He was known for his poetry that celebrated the beauty of the natural world and he was best known for his poem "Trees." This poem was published in 1914 and was unique in that it personified trees in the poem. Even though he was not required to enlist when World War I started, he did and requested a transfer to the infantry and was deployed to Europe. He rose to the rank of Sergeant and served as an intelligence officer. He was killed by a sniper's bullet on July 30, 1918 in France. His poem "Trees" became very popular after that. The French awarded him the prestigious Croix de Guerre (War Cross) for his bravery. In 1938, the U.S. government named a 3,800 acres section of old growth forest in North Carolina for him. A park in the Bronx is also named for him.

General Dodge House (Suggested by: Jessica Garcia)

When one thinks of the state of Iowa, they probably just envision fields of corn. While there definitely are fields of soybeans and corn here, this state is also a hotbed of paranormal activity. We visited and investigated several haunted locations while in Iowa and the General Dodge House is one of them. The man who built the home has a fascinating history, as does his wife, and the house he had constructed is one of the most beautiful Victorians I have ever seen. The inside is incredible and the historical society has done a beautiful renovation and upkeep of the structure. And while people probably expect to find interest accoutrements and antiques inside, they probably don't expect to run into ghosts. The house is reputedly haunted. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the General Dodge House!

We met up with listeners Jessica and Erina Garcia in Council Bluffs, Iowa in September and much to our surprise, they took us on a tour of the place zipping us from the Fairview Cemetery to see the Black Angel to the General Dodge House to the Squirrel Cage Jail to Malvern Manor, which we will bring to you early next year. When visiting the General Dodge House you get two houses. The August Beresheim House is right next door and we started our tour at that house. This house has been through several changes over the years. (Beresheim 1) This house was built for August Beresheim, who was a banker and a state legislator. The construction was completed in 1899. The house is a three-story frame house that is hard to pinpoint to a style. There are many different designs and it is definitely not as beautifully Victorian as the General Dodge House. There is a wonderful wrap-around porch. The things I liked about the interior of this house was the wrap-around staircase, the gaslights that were also electric lights once they were converted and the transom windows above the doors. One of our fun finds was among the antiques downstairs. It was an old hotel register that had been transformed into a scrapbook full of old newspaper articles. (Beresheim 2)So yeah, articles in there from 1889. So cool to see something like that! Then we made our way over to the Dodge House.

General Grenville Dodge was born Grenville Mellen Dodge in Danvers, Massachusetts in 1831. He came through the Council Bluffs area when he was 22-years-old as part of the Trans Iowa Railroad Route. He was doing the survey work and fell in love with Council Bluffs. He decided to make it his home. When the Civil War broke out, he joined the Union and worked his way up to Major General. He was the youngest man to be a General until World War II. He also founded the first military spy system during the war and used information from unionists living in Confederate territory, female spies and runaway slaves and this information helped win the war. Dodge became friends with Generals Logan, Black, Sherman, Sheridan, Rawlins and Grant and they would visit him often after the war. A fun fact for us is that his troupe built a bridge over the Chattahoochee in Roswell, Georgia before the Atlanta campaign. We were in Roswell in October. The bridge was 710 feet long and 14 feet above the water. It took them only three days to complete. In the Battle of Atlanta, a bullet grazed his skull and he was lucky to come away with only a concussion.

He went on to even bigger things after the war. Dodge became Chief Engineer for the Union Pacific Railroad and supervised the construction of the first Transcontinental Railroad, which was completed in 1869. And the railroad would really be his thing. He would continue as a railroad builder, financier, director and lobbyist and other countries would have him visit to advise on railroad construction. These countries included Cuba, France and Russia. He would get into politics too and he represented Iowa in the 40th U.S. Congress. Republican presidents who served between the Civil War and World War I would seek his advise. Dodge would also get involved in the mercantile business and organized a bank. This all made him a very wealthy man and he built himself a magnificent home in 1869 for $35,000.

The General Dodge House was designed by Chicago architect William Boyington with heavy supervision by the General. He insisted on upgrades like central heating and hot and cold running water and most importantly, closets! There were also telephones in various parts of the house like the library and kitchen. The General spared no expense. For those of you familiar with the awesome gothic water tower in Chicago, Boyington designed that. It was one of the only structures to survive the Chicago Fire. The exterior is just gorgeous done in the Second Empire style with a mansard roof with modillioned eave. There are many dormers with eared and rounded tops and lots of windows, many which are tall and narrow,. Some have segmented-arch tops and others have decorative stone hoods. The house stands three stories with a basement.

The interior of the house is spectacular. After entering the front door, you find yourself standing in a foyer that branches off into rooms with this amazing ending into a staircase at the end that is almost impossible to describe. The wall and stairs curve around and there is a niche in the staircase wall that displays an 1806 Simon Willard banjo clock, that Dodge was given by his parents. On top of the base of the staircase banister, or what is referred to as the newel post, is a very unique lamp. Once a kid was sliding down the banister and knocked it off so there is a rod going through it now. This and the chandelier were original pieces for the house. The wallpaper is similar to what was originally in the house and follows the style that was prevalent during the Victorian era with the ceiling being wallpapered as well. Another original piece found in this entrance hall was this beautiful etagere, or fancy bookshelf, that was inlaid with mother-of-pearl. An elk head is mounted on the wall as well. We want to share this sound bite (Dodge House 1) So this naming contest took place in 2014. It was hard to understand the names the guide said. One kid wanted to name it Elkon John, which won most creative. The third place name was Spike, Second Place was Sherman for General Sherman and the winning name was actually Arbor, not Alder.

One of the rooms the hall opens into is the library, which houses the original black walnut and butternut bookcases. This was clearly a room that General Dodge spent much of his time writing and pondering life. Some of his treasures still remain here including sabers, a Tiffany bronze inkwell. bison horn candlesticks, a Winchester Saddle-ring carbine, a Turkish-style table and books, some of which he wrote about his personal adventures. A solarium branches off of this and we found an old wheelchair out there.The door to it was actually a window and there was an old wheelchair out there. There were so many interesting details here: The walls were a foot thick and the smaller doorways indicated a private space in the house. The shutters from the windows folded up into the walls. You history nerds are probably familiar with the practice during the Victorian era of taxing houses according to how many doors there were. This is why many balconies were accessed through long windows. There were 7 fireplaces in the house and all had marble mantle pieces marble. I commented that someone should make a coffee book table of mantle pieces. Kathy, who did the investigation of Villisca with us, had posted a bunch of mantle pieces in the Crew that she had taken pictures of and it just solidified to us that there is a real need for this out there! LOL! Imagine how gorgeous the house must be at this time decorated for Christmas.

Another of the rooms off the hallway is the dining room There's a funny story about the picture above the mantle in this room. (Dodge House 2) Five former presidents ate in this room: Grant, McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt, Taft and Hoover. Much of what is in here is original including the mahogany server, corner hutch, dining table and eight chairs. There are four massive silver candlesticks from his private railroad car. There is a small butlery opening off the dining room that passes through to the kitchen. On the opposite side of the library and dining room are the front and back parlors that were like similar ones in other Victorians where the owners could close off the parlors from each other to separate the women from the men. The marble fireplace in the front parlor is graced with ear vases Mrs. Dodge brought back from Paris. There is an inlaid fruitwood table with an amethyst Mary Gregory vase displayed on top. Mirrors on the front and back wall are huge and have given the parlors the nickname "The Hall of Mirrors" and they make the rooms feel much larger. The guide said it is breathtaking when the Christmas trees are in here. The Brussels lace curtains were reproductions made in Switzerland. The parquet floors were laid with square nails and our group loved the elaborate door hinges that had intricate designs. We mean, on door hinges?! The back parlor has portraits of the General and Ruth Anne circa the 1870s. There were 6 Victorian parlor chairs in here along with a red arm chair that were all original to the Dodges.

We went upstairs to the bedrooms. As is the case for many couples as they get older the General and
Jenny Lind Bed
Mrs. Dodge did not share a bedroom. The former Master Suite became the General's Den and is painted and decorated in gray, red and gold. Some of his belongings are still here like razors, a walking stick, vest, eyeglasses, black shoes and a paper weight. There is a nursery next to this room that contains a doll house with Victorian furnishings and Anne Dodge's cherry wood Jenny Lind Bed. And we need to go down that rabbit hole for just a minute. *Rabbit Hole: We became familiar with Jenny Lind from watching "The Greatest Showman." She was known as the Swedish Nightingale and P.T. Barnum brought her to America in 1851. He was a big time promoter and one way that he promoted her was to create the "Jenny Lind" brand. Products under this brand included hats and gloves, tobacco and, clearly, furniture. The Jenny Lind bed is a spool bed with square corners on the head and foot boards and the design is still popular today. Supposedly, the singer slept in this style bed during her American tour.* There is also The Gold Room on this floor that was one of the daughter's rooms and a trunk room and bathroom. Strangely, there is a phone in the trunk room. The bathroom had a flush toilet with the tank high up on the wall that used gravity to flush the bowl. There is a marble framed mirror in here and a tub, but the tub was not installed until later. For bathing, servants would take portable tubs into each family member's bedroom.

Pairpoint puffed apple tree table lamp
We went up to the third floor and saw the ballroom, which was being set up for a special tea. The highlight of this room was the rosewood square grand piano that was brought up the Missouri River by steamboat. There were servant bedrooms up here too. We went back down the stairs and saw the servant staircase, which was really narrow and the walls were scarred from years of being banged into. We found Mrs. Dodge's Room here too and it had the unique addition of a marble sink area, kind of like having a vanity in the room. There is a fireplace here with her original sewing basket and a shawl and handbag nearby. The wallpaper in here was really unique. There were these foot wide pieces of wallpaper on the walls and they painted out the edges, so you couldn't see the straight lines. The guide pointed out that in each of these rooms were lights retrofitted to be gas and electric and she pointed up at the medallion and told us something we had never heard before. (Dodge House 3) There was a guest room up here called the Art Nouveau Room because the furnishings inside were of that style including a French brass bed. There are also Pairpoint puffed apple tree table lamps in here.

We continued back down to the main level and got to see the kitchen that had a large all marble sink with a big working slab. The servants had their dining table in here. The General felt that this was the most important room in the house. A pantry branched off of the kitchen and had an icebox and Hoosier style cupboard. Then we went down to the basement, which had mostly just been for storage with a wine cellar, ice room, laundry room and boiler area. This boiler had originally been a coal burning furnace. An interesting feature was the brick flooring, which was not original and was made from Council Bluffs street bricks. The basement is now a place of memorabilia with family photographs, books, a replica of Dodge's Council Bluffs Savings Bank office and a framed newspaper advertising a reward for the capture of the man who killed Lincoln.

We've put pictures up on Instagram and have some here too.

General Dodge married Ruth Anne Browne in May of 1854 in Boston, Massachusetts. They had met in Peru, Illinois and Ruth Anne was quite the catch with violet eyes and tomboy leanings that made her good at horseback riding and handling guns. And while she would eventually end up living her life out in their grand home, the early years were rough as Ruth Anne lived in pioneer conditions as she followed Dodge from camp to camp during the war. When the war first started, she joined a local group of women to form the Soldier’s Aid Society. This society would prepare supplies for the soldiers in the form of food, medical supplies and towels. And when her husband took sick with typhoid, she nursed him back to health out in the field. At one point, the couple were in St. Louis and Ruth Anne witnessed a man beating a female slave. She wrote this letter to the wife of Colonel Woods about the incident on March 31, 1862, "Dear Mrs. Wood, I write this to let you know that old scamp Wheelan had been to work here about the Negroes. Went and got a justice to come and take Louisa away from Mrs. J. Robbins and has taken her off in some slave yard in another part of the city. You have no idea how it made my blood boil to hear how he treated the poor thing. Made her go without bonnet or shawl and struck her with an umbrella to make her go faster and she expecting every moment her child, would be born – I wish you would let Col Wood know all about it. I think it is horrible and outrageous and I hope that Col Wood will catch him and make him suffer for it. How I would like to see him shot. Tell the captain to get some one to call him down to Rolla by some way and then sick his men on him. He then carried Louisa off. She had sent her little boy up to her sister’s and then he beat her till she told him where he was - I felt like crying and was bound to let you know and your husband know how that scamp had been acting and all I ask is Col Wood catch him yet. My husband is quite ill and has not been up at all today. Am in hopes a few weeks rest will restore him. Do you think of leaving Rolla soon and have your husband come back. I shall be glad to hear from you. Truly, Mrs. G. M. Dodge."

Ruth Anne would go on to become part of the Executive Committee for Women's Suffrage. She and her sister-in-law worked to save the library in Council Bluffs as well. Ruth Anne loved art, literature and music and could play both the piano and the guitar. She and Dodge would have three daughters together. In January of 1916, General Dodge died and his wife died 8 months later. She told her daughters about a dream she had prior to her death in which she saw an angel offering her the water of life. Ruth Anne said, "I was not yet ready for this supreme blessing. I felt unworthy, and it seemed to me it would be presumption on my part to partake of anything so wonderfully pure, so heavenly, so spiritual." The angel appeared a second time in a dream and Ruth Anne wouldn't drink again. The angel came a third time in a dream and this time she accepted the offer. After drinking from the bowl, Mrs. Dodge said she had been "transformed into a new and glorious spiritual being. I drank of that wonderful water of life and it gave me immortality." After she died, her daughters commissioned the sculptor who made the Lincoln Monument, Daniel Chester French, to make a memorial for their mother featuring this angel. This is the Ruth Anne Dodge Memorial or more famously, the Black Angel found at Fairview Cemetery. The Dodges are actually buried in the family mausoleum in Walnut Hill Cemetery. The couples youngest daughter Anne, took over the house, but she only used it occasionally throughout the year. She died in 1950 and the Dodge Family Trust sold the house and in 1961 it became a National Historic Landmark. The Historical Society of Pottawatomie County held a public drive to raise funds to buy the house and it did so successfully. The City of Council Bluffs restored the house and made it into a museum.*Fun Fact: Fort Dodge in Kansas is named in his honor as is Dodge City.*

The Dodge family loved this house and some believe that they never left. When we asked our guide about her experiences, she really had not had any yet, but she had only been there for a short time. (Dodge House 4) So our guide believes in this stuff, but the main people in charge shy away from talking about hauntings. We run into this a lot in these homes because they don't want to be known for their hauntings. This usually results in not a lot of ghost stories. So what IS out there?

The main apparition people claim to feel and see here is the man who loved this place the most and had it built to his specifications: General Dodge. Several people have claimed to see his full-bodied apparition sitting in his favorite rocking chair. His shadow is also seen walking the hallways of the house. There are other hauntings here though that are hard to pinpoint as to what is causing them. Light flashes and the smell of smoke are experienced outside the residence on the property. Inside, people have claimed to hear the disembodied voices of two men fighting with each other. There were quite a few political people in the home, so maybe arguments about politics. The spirit of a young girl is seen in the home too particularly in the servant's quarters area, but we don't know of any children that died in the house. People have claimed to take her picture in the small windows of the front door. We never trust window pictures.

The Black Angel
Now considering the nice story behind the creation of the Black Angel Monument in Fairview Cemetery for Ruth Anne Dodge, it's hard to believe that it has malevolent stories about it. The stories are pretty crazy. People scare children by telling them that she shoots lines of fire from her eyes when the clock strikes midnight. Other stories claim that she springs to life after it gets dark and roams among the tombstones. Her stare is said to curse anyone who looks into it too long or if you gaze into her eyes at midnight. And the weirdest story is that children who run behind the statue disappear forever.

We had such a great time touring this house and we never fail to learn new things when visiting these Victorian homes. Is the General Dodge House haunted? That is for you to decide!