Saturday, September 23, 2017

HGB Ep. 223 - Old Idaho State Penitentiary

Moment in Oddity - Bug Spray Attracts Bigfoot

Do mosquitoes tend to bug you when you are searching for Bigfoot in the woods? Are you having trouble attracting Bigfoot to come out of hiding? Well, a woman in North Carolina has solved your problems with her Bigfoot Juice. It would seem that Allie Megan Webb created her environmentally safe, Bigfoot attracting bug repellent quite by accident. Her husband, who is a member of Bigfoot 911, asked his wife if she could make her home brewed bug spray less "feminine smelling." She tried a few concoctions to get a woodsy smell. Bigfoot 911 tried out the bug repellent several times and Webb noticed that there was a direct correlation between the use of her bug spray and Bigfoot sightings reported by the research group. She figured it must attract Sasquatch and when asked how she knows it works, she said, "How do you know it doesn’t work?” Good question, although we have to admit that it couldn't be that simple to finally get Bigfoot to come out of hiding. If it is, then that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Kennedy/Nixon Debate Televised

In the month of September, on the 26th, in 1960, the first-ever televised presidential debate occurred on CBS between presidential candidates John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon. During the 1960 presidential election, America was engaged in the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Nixon was a seasoned lawmaker while Kennedy was a young senator. When the two men met before the cameras, Nixon had a slight lead in the polls. His experience was a plus and the fact that Kennedy was a Catholic caused some people to not want to vote for him. But Nixon was older and he had suffered an infection that landed him in the hospital prior to the debate. When he was released, he had lost weight and looked frail. Nixon was offered make-up, but he refused to wear any. Kennedy had a nice tan, which could even be seen on the black and white television. Nixon sweated profusely, while Kennedy looked freshed-face and young. People who listened to the debate on the radio, thought that Nixon had won, while those who watched it on television thought Kennedy had won. The damage was done for Nixon because most Americans gravitated towards Kennedy after the debate. Today, it is standard for debates to be televised and most Americans would probably agree that there are far too many.

Old Idaho State Penitentiary

The Old Idaho State Penitentiary was in use for over a hundred years and had more than 13,000 prisoners pass through the gates. As was the case in most prisons that were built in the 1800s, conditions were brutal with a complete lack of sanitation and ventilation. All variety of criminals were housed here and many were executed on the gallows that were set up first in the Rose Garden, and later inside the prison walls. Violent riots have had their place in the prison's history. All of this negative energy seems to have absorbed into the sandstone walls and now reflects back haunting energy. Guests and employees claim to have experienced paranormal activity. On this episode, we are joined by the hosts of the Not Alone Podcast, Sam Frederickson and Jason Moitoso, to discuss the history and hauntings of the Old Idaho State Penitentiary.

Boise is located in southwestern Idaho, about 41 miles east of the Oregon border. It is believed that French Canadian trappers named a river for which the city of Boise in Idaho derives its name. The river was called "La rivière boisée", which means "the wooded river." The federal government later established Fort Boise here when it was still a territory. The area was near the Oregon Trail and the fort was meant to protect the trail. Boise was incorporated as a city in 1863.

In  1867,  the  United  States  Congress  provided  for  the construction of the Idaho Penitentiary and the Idaho assembly codified it into territorial law in 1869. In September 1870, the Idaho Statesman reported, "The penitentiary looms up like the frowning walls of some impregnable  fortress. Distance  lends  enchantment. This building will be ready for the reception of guests in a very little while. The man who would commit a felony within sight of its gloomy walls ought to spend the remainder of his days within them." Construction began outside Boise City on the prison in 1870 and took two years. It was built from sandstone that was quarried from the nearby ridges using convict labor. Initially, the prison was a single cell house known as the territorial prison. A 17-foot high wall was built around the perimeter. The first prisoners were eleven inmates that were brought over from the Boise County Jail.

The jail was clearly too small and construction on other buildings began. A new cell house was built in 1889 and had three tiers with cells built from steel. The third tier was used to house inmates on Death Row because it was closest to the future Rose Garden where the gallows were located. The Administration Building was completed in 1894 and this housed the armory, a visitation room and the warden's office. A year later, the building that housed the commissary and blacksmith shop was completed. It would be renovated in the future to include a barber shop starting in 1902 and a hospital in 1912. The Dining Hall was built in 1898 and in 1899, Cell House 2 and 3 were finished. These houses featured cells that could hold two men, their bunks and a honey bucket for their waste.

Women were brought to the Idaho Penitentiary as well. There was no separate place for them, so the male inmates built a wall around the old warden's home and the woman stayed in there. There were seven two-person cells inside along with a kitchen and bathroom facilities. The 1920s brought more expansion with a Multipurpose Building that had a bakery, shoe shop, license plate shop, shirt factory, laundry and recreation room. There were also communal showers here. The Cooler was built at this time as well. It had cells that could hold four to six men, but it was used for solitary confinement. Siberia was added in 1926 with 12 3'x8' cells that were designed to hold one man. Cell House 4 was added in 1952 and Cell House 5 was completed in 1954. This building was used for Maximum Security inmates and the gallows was moved inside of this building. There were ten executions at the prison. Six of them were held outside where the Rose Garden is located today. The other four took place inside Cell House 5.

Conditions throughout the years were poor, especially in the very beginning. The sandstone walls were bad insulation. The sandstone retained the heat in the summer and was bitterly cold in the winter. As we mentioned earlier, the toilets in the cells were just buckets. Plumbing didn't reach the prison until the 1920s. There was no real sanitation then and with no proper ventilation, disease spread easily. Add to that the brutal nature of inmate on inmate abuse and abuse from the guards. The prisoners fought back in the 1970s with two violent riots. The first occurred in 1971 and lasted three hours. There was $25,000 in damage and one inmate was killed. The riot that followed in 1973 was far worse and ended with a fire that destroyed many of the buildings. The original building that the prison started with eventually became the chapel in the 1930s. Prisoners burned that chapel and then the dining hall to the ground. After the riot, the prisoners were moved to a more modern penitentiary and the Old Idaho Jail was closed down.

It was almost as if the jail was frozen in time. Visitors can see paintings that inmates created on their cell walls, calendars still hang on some of the walls, the walls are still discolored from the smoke and fire and other belongings were left behind. The Penitentiary was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. It offers tours and is a museum today. There are thirty historic buildings on the site and several special exhibitions are offered, one of them being the J. Curtis Earl Memorial Exhibit of Arms and Armaments. Events and programs are held year round and these include Halloween events. The prison was featured in 2017 on an episode of the Lowe Files.

Several infamous inmates spent time here. One of them was Lyda Southard, otherwise known as Lady Bluebeard. She was one of America's first female serial killers. She was an insurance killer much like HH Holmes. She killed four of her husbands, her daughter and a brother-in-law. She used flypaper to make arsenic and that is how she killed her victims. A chemist who was related to her first husband began to suspect foul play when other husbands started dying and he asked another chemist and a doctor to help him test the body. With their findings, they convinced the Twin Falls County Prosecutor Frank Stephan to exhume the other bodies. Lyda was living in Honolulu with her fifth husband when she was arrested. She was extradited to Idaho. Her trial lasted 6 weeks and she was convicted of second degree murder. Her sentence was ten years to life. She escaped from prison and ran to Denver where she took on a false identity and worked as a housekeeper for a man she eventually married. He would be the one to lead the police to her and she was arrested again and returned to the Old Pen. She later was out on probation and eventually died of a heart attack in 1958.

Another was Raymond Allen Snowden, who was dubbed "Idaho's Jack the Ripper." Snowden was convicted of murder in 1956 and sentenced to death by hanging at the Old Pen. He had murdered a woman named Cora Dean. She was local and a single mother to two children. Snowden claimed that the couple fought, he backhanded her and she then kicked him. He completely snapped after that and used his two-and-a-quarter-inch pocketknife to stab Cora 35 times. Before his hanging, Snowden confessed to murdering two other women. He met his fate a little after midnight on October 18, 1957.

Harry Orchard was an inmate who died in the prison in 1954. He had been in the prison for 50 years. He had been convicted of the murder of Gov. Frank Steunenberg. During his trial he confessed to many crimes. He claimed to have been a union terrorist and his deeds had killed 17 people. He also claimed to be an alcoholic, a bigamist, womanizer and gambler. The calm way he reported all of this, stunned the courtroom room. Although sentenced to death, a judge recommended his sentence be commuted to life in prison, and the Board of Pardons agreed. His sentence was the longest sentence served by any Idaho State Penitentiary inmate.

An interesting death was that of Douglas Van Vlack. He had received the death penalty for the kidnapping and murder of his estranged wife.  He was sentenced to hang at the prison on December 10th in 1937. He visited with his mother on December 9th and then shortly thereafter slipped past the guards and climbed into the rafters of his cellhouse. When the guards found him, he shouted, "My  mother  told  me  it  was  all right for me to choose the way I wanted to die.  I’ll never hang on that  rope." He then dove head first   onto the concrete below and died several hours later. Van Vlack is believed to haunt the former Death Row and is usually seen as a greenish ball of light. Batteries drain quickly in here.

All variety of paranormal activity has been reported at the prison. Employees report feeling negative energy, weird noises and shadow figures. The most active location is Cell House 5 where inmates were executed and the many spirit hanging out here seems to belong to Snowden. Solitary Confinement is the next most active area. Cold spots are a common occurrence and people claim to have seen full-bodied apparitions. The Rose Garden has spirit reports and cold spots as well attributed to the inmates hanged on the gallows here.

Is the Old Idaho Penitentiary haunted? That is for you to decide!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

HGB Ep. 222 - Culbertson Mansion

 Moment in Oddity - Dog Carrying Day

The Miao people of Jiaobang village in China celebrate an annual festival that is known as The Dog Carrying Day. This festival has been observed for centuries and is a form of worship of man's best friend. A certain dog is picked out to be the honoree and it is then dressed in human clothing, set upon a wooden sedan chair and carried through the streets in a parade. People sing and beat drums as the procession goes along led by a shaman. People have mud thrown at them as part of the ceremony and this is a symbol of wishing the dog health and prosperity. People use the time to pray for a good harvest as well. Why does the tribe do this? A legend claims that the first settlers to the area were dying of thirst when a dog came along and led them to a clean source of drinking water. The settlers believed this to be a sign of divinity and the dog was considered a god. We love our dogs around here, but to treat them like gods, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Agatha Christie Born

In the month of September, on the 15th, in 1890, Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born South West England. We know her today as Dame Agatha Christie. She was largely home schooled by her father and taught herself to read by the age of five. She took a likely to the piano and became quite good at playing and many thought she would be a professional piano player, but she was painfully shy and turned to writing short stories. She met Archie Christie in 1912 and they married in 1914. She tried writing a detective novel because her sister bet her that she couldn't. Her first published novel was "The Mysterious Affair at Styles" and in it, her famous character Hercule Poirot was born. Miss Marple followed a couple of years later. In 1926, her husband Archie asked for a divorce after announcing he had fallen in love with another woman. It would be in December of that year that the most bizarre event in Agatha's life would take place. On the third, the couple quarreled and Agatha left the home and disappeared. Her car was found with her clothes and an expired driver's license. One thousand officers and 15,000 volunteers searched for her. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle hired a medium to find her. She was found on December 14th when some employees at the spa where she was staying under an assumed name, recognized her and reported it to the police. Doctors claimed she was suffering from amnesia and when Achie came to pick her up, she didn't recognize him or know who she herself was. She would never speak of the incident and it did not make it into her autobiography.The public remains divided as to what happened. She died in 1976 and is considered by Guiness Book of World Records as the best-selling novelist of all time. She is best known for her 66 detective novels and her works have sold over two billion worldwide.

Culbertson Mansion (Suggested by listener Melody Davis)

William S. Culbertson was once one of the wealthiest men in the state of Indiana. He made much of his fortune in the dry goods business and he became a very important part of the development of the city of New Albany. In was in this city that he built his dream home, the Culbertson Mansion. The mansion is beautiful and picturesque with the inside even more stunning than the outside. Artists turned the inside of the home into a colorful abode. Today, it is a state historic site that offers tours. William had three wives and one of them is believed to still be in the home in spirit form. A tragic fire has also left behind shades of former servants. Many guests and employees have had unexplained experiences in the home. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the Culbertson Mansion.

The land where New Albany, Indiana is today, was granted to the United States after the Revolutionary War. The town of New Albany itself was founded in 1813 by three brothers named Joel, Abner and Nathaniel Scribner. They had come from Albany, New York and that is where the city's name comes from. Joel built his home here in 1814 and it still stands today and is known as the Scribner House. New Albany was incorporated in 1817 and grew to become the largest city in Indiana until Indianapolis overtook it in 1860. This was the wealthiest part of the state. During the Civil War, New Albany became a supply center for Union troops, but it was considered neutral ground which eventually caused it to be boycotted by both sides. The North felt they were too sympathetic to the South and the South boycotted it because it was located in the North. The city thrived on a steamboat industry, which ended in 1860 and then plywood and veneer became its main stays. It was in the 1860s when the Culbertson Mansion was built.

William S. Culbertson was born in 1814 at "Fairview Farm" in New Market, York County, Pennsylvania. His father died when he was only ten and left the family with nothing, so young William started working for a dry goods merchant to help his mother pay the bills. At the age of 21, William left New Market for Louisville, Kentucky. He tried to get a job at a dry goods in the town, but the owner wasn't hiring. He suggested that William head over to New Albany where there was a dry goods looking to hiring someone. Culbertson had a great business sense and he left the dry goods job to partner with two other men named Downey and Keys, and becomes the business manager for the firm for about five years. He married his first wife Eliza Vance in 1840. They had eight children together.

That same year, his brother moved to New Albany and the two men started their own wholesale business. It was very successful. During the Civil War, William was active in raising money for the Union cause. He also found ways to grow his wealth. He brokered a deal to sell 50 carloads of Cannelton Mills cotton to a New York firm that would then go on to England, but the port was unable to take the cotton and sent it back to Culbertson. It turned out to be a good thing because the war caused the price of cotton to skyrocket and he made bank reselling it. He then got into banking in 1863 and decided to built his family a beautiful mansion.

Construction on the Culbertson Mansion began in 1863 and was finished in 1867 at a cost of $120,000. The house was designed by architects Joseph and William Banes in the Second French Empire style. It covers 20,000 square feet, rises to three stories and has twenty-five rooms. The mansard roof was covered over with imported tin and had a 3-foot railing. The outside of the mansion was striking, but the interior was even more magnificent. The floors were either covered in wall-to-wall carpet or hand-painted with this "faux bois" graining. The ceilings were hand painted by artists and these artists also used the technique of trompe l’oiel in several rooms to mimic paneling, molding or other textured surfaces. The staircase was carved and the fireplaces were built from marble.

Eliza had died in 1865, before the house was completed, from Typhoid Pneumonia. Two years later, Culbertson married his second wife Cornelia Warner Eggleston. She was a widow herself and the two had two children together. William ventures into the railroad business and worked to establish a New Albany to St. Louis Air Line Railway. An air line railroad was a railroad that was relatively flat and straight with a shorter route. Something we would call a bee-line today. He also became a stockholder and director of the New Albany and Charlestown Turnpike Company. By 1870, Culbertson was the second richest man in Indiana. He was a philanthropist as well and built the Culbertson Ladies Home for women who could not take care of themselves and set up a trust to continue financing it even after his death. He financed the first electric company in New Albany

Cornelia died in 1880. Four years later, Culbertson married his third wife, Rebecca Keith Young, when he was seventy. He died in 1892, at the age of 78, achieving a net worth of $3.5 million dollars, which would be about $61 million in today’s money. He is buried at New Albany's Fairview Cemetery with his first two wives and several of his children. A little rabbit hole: Cornelia and William had a daughter named Blanche who had the nickname "Scandalous Blanche." Diane had to know why she had that nickname. Blanche fell in love with a man named Leigh Hill French from the circus and her father did not approve. He added a special exception to his will that stated that if Blanche married French within ten years of his death, she would not receive her $500,000 share of his fortune. Blanche waited for a year after her father's death before she eloped with French. She then sued for her portion of the estate and won. Blanche was a strong independent woman and played a significant role in New York's suffragette movement becoming president of the Equal Franchise League of New Rochelle, one of New York City's large suffragette organizations. So, although she is remembered for her scandalous marriage, she should really be remembered as a hero in getting the vote for women.

The Culbertson family sold the mansion and its furnishings in 1899 to John McDonald. When he died, his daughter gave it to the American Legion. It then went through a series of owners and was turned into an apartment building that modified even the ballroom, splitting it in half. Historic New Albany purchased the home in 1964, and the mansion was accepted as a State Historic Site in 1976. Exterior renovations were begun in 1980 and later, the staff and the Friends of Culbertson Mansion began work to restore the original interior. The house was taken back to its Victorian glory. Photos were used to rebuild the first floor veranda and recreate the etched-glass panel in the front door. Tours are offered at the house and these include ghost tours because apparently, the Culbertson mansion has a few ghosts hanging around.

First, we should discuss the ghost lore that is connected to the house and that is because the Carriage House has been operated as a haunted house during the Halloween season and there is a story attached to that, which has unfortunately made it out onto some websites as though it were actual history. This tale claims that in 1933, Harold Webb bought the mansion for himself and his family. He was a doctor and so he set up his medical office in part of the house. Over time, people who were his patients went missing. The house began to give off a foul odor and strange noises were heard in the basement. In 1934, the police were called in to investigate when the Webb family was unable to be reached after a few days. The police found the entire family dead. The doctor had murdered them all and then taken his own life. The police also found secret passageways in the basement that led to rooms that had torture devices used for gruesome experiments. Some bodies were still in the rooms. After the cleanup, the building was locked up for thirty years and then eventually sold to the American Legion. The group restored the building and it was during restoration that reports of ghostly activity started.

While we were unable to find any facts to back up the story about Dr. Webb, there are plenty of tales about paranormal activity in the mansion. The most believable reports come from the woman who has served as the site manager for over 30 years, Joellen Bye. The news-tribune interviewed Joellen and they asked her about rumors of ghosts in the mansion. She said, "That has always been a hot topic. I have seen and heard things that I cannot explain. We are not ghost hunters or ghost crazy people. We have ghost hunters who approach us about setting up cameras at night and doing their thing, but we always have to tell them no for insurance and liability reasons." When asked if she had really experienced unexplained things herself she answered, "Yes. There are the typical things ... maybe you hear a door shut or it may sound like someone is walking upstairs when there is no one up there. My office is in the basement and at night, if I am here alone, I can hear things. We know something is here, but we have never confirmed it."

The carriage house was struck by lightning in 1888 and it is believed that everyone inside of it was killed by the fire that was started. Servants refused to go out to the carriage house because they claimed it was haunted by the souls of those who perished in the fire. The mansion itself has quite a bit of activity ranging from items going missing, to phantom footsteps being heard in the hallways. Strange temperature drops occur often as well. The first wife, Eliza, is said to walk the halls of the third floor. She did not like that William had remarried and it is thought that this is why she is at unrest. She is blamed for turning the vacuum on and off by itself. The third floor also has the children's rooms and a ballroom and these are all said to be haunted by ghosts. The third floor staircase features the full-bodied apparition of a grey-haired woman appearing in the morning or late at night. One of the children's rooms is said to carry the weight of death and one night, when a staff member was staying overnight, she claimed to catch the scent of rotting fish around the bed. She asked that the smell go away and it did. Some tour guides feel that the spirits are angry in the house because they don't like all the people coming through.

Of course, our favorite experiences to share about locations are from you the listeners. Melody, who suggested this location, shared some chilling experiences of her own in an email:  I live in Jeffersonville, Indiana, which is just across the Ohio River from the Derby City, Louisville, Kentucky, and just east of New Albany, Indiana. There are many wonderful historic sites, restaurants, cultural venues, and haunted locations in this area which we affectionately call Kentuckiana, but New Albany is where I have had some very strange experiences in a beautiful old historic mansion on Main Street called the Culbertson Mansion. I had always been an odd kid with an interest in the strange and supernatural - I remember the first book I checked out on my own in the school library was a collection of Edgar Allen Poe - and I would go to spooky historical places with my like-minded mom. One of those places was this mansion. We would go to the amazing haunted house in October that was held in the home's carriage house, which of course was all show and fun. But during daytime tours, I would experience odd things, such as the sweet smell of cigar smoke outside of the freestanding closet the Culbertsons had for punishing the children when they misbehaved. It is said that Mr. Culbertson would sit outside this wicker closet and smoke his pipe while the children were shut inside to think about their actions.

This as a 12 or 13 year old was very creepy and very interesting to me, and of course made me a bit uneasy. Another experience I had there happened after visiting the haunted house one night. They would tell ghost stories by lamplight in the parlor of the mansion. In our area, there were a lot of families torn apart during the Civil War by the differences in beliefs about slavery and politics, being that we are on the Indiana-Kentucky border. During this event, I heard two men arguing rather loudly upstairs for several minutes. By this time it was around 11:00PM or midnight and no one was upstairs. And, only one or two other people in the room seemed to notice at all. I remembered then that on an earlier tour we were told that the Culbertson brothers were on opposite sides of the war, and thought this must be the two men arguing. I found out later others had heard this on different occasions as well. Unfortunately I could only make out a random word here or there. This was strangely not frightening to me, and I remember that I just kind of smiled in amazement at what I was witnessing.

The most experiences I had were during the time we went to the house soon after the third floor was reopened after decades of being closed. If I recall correctly, the floor was full of dead birds and bird waste from years of neglect. The birds entered through a small hole in the wall. The Culbertson Mansion had started giving Ghost Tours that fall where they would give tours in the evenings with the lights turned low to approximate what things would have looked like when the house was lit by gas lamps. During these tours they would tell the usual history of the mansion and the Culbertson family, but would also tell all the stories from docents and volunteers over the years of strange things they had experienced in and around the home. The first thing happened while we were waiting in the beautiful old foyer before the start of the tour for the rest of the tour group to arrive. This was before the start of the tour so the lights were not yet turned down. Several of us were looking around and myself, my mom, my friend, and several other people were looking up the gorgeous stairway to the newly opened third floor. Several people were looking up, but only myself, my friend (we were around 12-13 years old), and one other woman saw something: A black, featureless figure of what seemed to be a woman peering over the rail and  looking down at us from that top floor! We were quite startled and especially because not everyone who was looking up saw her, and she was only there for a second (at least I think so, I think I was so scared I couldn't look long). This was before I had ever even heard of shadow people but later when I did, it seemed to fit what had happened to me.

Another strange thing that happened to me on that tour was another instance of only a few people experiencing something despite being in the same place. We were walking down the hall in the third floor and walked past a vacuum cleaner on our way into a room. As I passed the unplugged vacuum cleaner - I could see the plug away from the wall on the floor- it suddenly and briefly roared to life. I nearly jumped out of my skin! Again, only I, my friend, and the woman who sensed the figure before, heard this. My mom was very startled by my reaction, but didn't hear the vacuum come on. There are tons of other stories like these from other visitors and volunteers over the years. There are stories of the police being called because a woman in a long dress was seen walking the back second floor porch in the middle of the night. They found no one at the house. A woman cleaning in the basement would smell flowers and turn around to see rose petals on the freshly vacuumed carpet, over and over.

Not only do we have stories from staff and guests that have been reported on the Internet, but our own listener has experienced some really creepy and weird things at this mansion. Could it be that some of the family still remains in the house in the afterlife? Is the Culbertson Mansion haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:
Main site for information on tours:

Monday, September 11, 2017

HGB Ep. 221 - Jerome Grand Hotel

Moment in Oddity - Zarafa the Giraffe

Zarafa was a giraffe that was gifted to Charles X of France from the Ottoman Viceroy of Egypt, Mehmet Ali Pasha in 1827. She was captured as a baby by Arab hunters in Sudan and eventually transported by boat down the Nile to Alexandria. She then boarded a ship to Marseilles that had a hole cut through the deck to accommodate her height. The group traveling with her felt that it was too dangerous to take her to Paris by ship, so they decided to walk her the 900km or 559 miles. She had an entire entourage including A naturalist named Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire join her on the walk. Saint-Hilaire ordered a two-part yellow coat to keep her warm and shoes for her feet. The trip took 41 days and she arrived in Lyon on June 6, 1827. A crowd of 30,000 greeted her. Zarafa was presented to the King on 9 July 1827. A crowd of 100,000, an eighth of the population of Paris, came to see her. She was a sensation and giraffe fever swept the country of France. Women arranged their hair in towering styles and spotted fabrics became the rage along with a color referred to as "belly of giraffe." Home decor was plastered with giraffe images. We sometimes take giraffes in zoos for granted. The journey and craze surrounding Zarafa for us living in the modern era, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Mexico Fight for Independence Begins

In the month of September, on the 16th, in 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla rang the bells in the town of Dolores Hidalgo and told the local people to start their fight for independence from Spain and recover the land stolen from their forefathers. This was the beginning of the break from Spain for Mexico. The middle class was tied of sharing their wealth with Spain. Two priests became the main protagonists of the Independence: Hidalgo and Jose Maria Morelos. On the 16th, Hidalgo also freed the prisoners in Dolores amd locked up the Spanish authorities. Hidalgo started with a small group of 600 men, but he eventually had 100,000. A little less than a year later, Hidalgo was tricked, captured and executed by firing squad. The fight continued for years and Mexico's first independent government was formed on September 28th in 1821.

Jerome Grand Hotel (Suggested by listener Katie Hickcox)

The city of Jerome in Arizona sits perched above the beautiful Verde Valley on Cleopatra Hill. Today, it is considered an artist community, but it once was considered the "Wickedest City in the West." Like so many Arizona towns, Jerome began as a mining town with a focus on copper. In its heyday, it was one of the richest mines in the world and was dubbed the Billion Dollar Copper Camp. Thousands made the town their home, from miners to prostitutes to lawmen. A hospital was needed for all these people and that is what the Jerome Grand Hotel started as, but in 1996 it became a hotel. Throughout its years, it has earned a reputation for being haunted. Many guests and employees claim to have had experiences. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the Jerome Grand Hotel.

William Andrews Clark was one of the richest men in the United States when he was alive. Even today, his fortune would rival that of  Bill Gates and William Buffett.When he died, he was worth the equivalent today of $31 billion dollars. But most people don't know him. His contemporaries like Andrew Carnegie and J.P. Morgan have all the notoriety, while he has none. His wealth was derived from an unsexy metal: copper. Clark was one of the great Copper Barons. But that was not the only reason that he is not as well known. He spent most of his time in the wild west and Clark was not a philanthropist that left endowments or buildings with his name on them as a legacy. But he did build towns, many of them in Montana. But Arizona has Clark to thank as well.

In 1876, the first mining claims were made in the area where the town of Jerome would be founded. The United Verde Copper Company was incorporated in January 1883 named for the Verde Valley where the copper was found. William Clark bought the United Verde Copper Company in 1888 for $80,000. He implemented big changes with its operation and innovative technologies were introduced. Clark brought in the narrow gauge railroad and that brought more people to the region. In 1899, Jerome was incorporated as a city. It was named for the secretary of the mining company, Eugene Jerome. In 1903, The New York Sun ran the headline "THIS JEROME IS A BAD ONE. THE ARIZONA COPPER CAMP NOW THE WICKEDEST TOWN."

Copper became a key part of bringing electricity to the masses and in 1909, electricity came to Jerome. The town hit its top population in 1929 at 15,000 residents. In 1935, Phelps Dodge Mining Corp. purchased the United Verde Copper Company for $22,800,000.00 and operated the mine until it closed in 1953. The mine had been open for seventy-seven years and in that time it produced nearly 33 million tons of copper, gold, silver, lead and zinc ore. The population nose-dived to less than 500 and Jerome became a virtual ghosts town. Today, the town plays up its ghost town status as a tourist attraction.

Visitors to the town can't miss the highest public structure in the Verde Valley, the Jerome Grand Hotel. The building was constructed in 1926 by the United Verde Copper Company to serve as a hospital for its employees and their families. The 30,000 square foot and five story structure was built in the Spanish Mission style and was built to withstand the nearby mining blasts. The hospital was also fire-proof and many consider it an engineering marvel since it was built on a 50 degree slope. It was named the United Verde Hospital after the company. By the 1930s, it was the most modern and well equipped hospital in Arizona. The hospital officially closed in 1950 as the population of Jerome dwindled to nothing. And the building sat abandoned for forty-four years with moderate maintenance in case it needed to be used in an emergency. That maintenance stopped in 1971 and then the building was neglected.

The Phelps Dodge Mining Corporation owned the abandoned hospital and sold it in 1994 to the Altherr family. The family began the restoration and decided to reopen as a hotel, which they named after the town, the Jerome Grand Hotel. The doors were opened for business in 1996. Most of the original elements were kept, including the Otis elevator that was installed in October 1926 and the cast iron radiators. The elevator has not been modernized with automatic doors or any other upgrades and surprisingly has been out of order for only a total of 4 hours and 15 minutes in the past 10 years. The door is the old pull the gate. The decor is set to the 1920s and 1930s. The hotel features a bar and restaurant as well and interestingly, the restaurant is named Asylum. The scenery from the hotel is said to be amazing and beautiful. The hotel underwent a recent renovation. Until August of this year, 2017, they had offered ghost tours with raving reviews. The owners decided they didn't want to be marketed as a haunted hotel. They said it was never the intention. So it seems they are taking the misguided direction that the Stanley Hotel went down.

The hotel is reputedly haunted by several specters and all manner of strange phenomena has been experienced. This hotel is thought to be one of the most haunted buildings in Arizona. The television series "Sightings" featured the Jerome Grand Hotel on one of their episodes and a number of paranormal investigation groups have recorded paranormal activity. Shortly after the hospital opened, both patients and staff started having experiences they couldn't explain. There were disembodied voices that featured coughing and moaning and imperceptible talking. These sounds came from empty rooms, leaving nurses feeling uneasy. And speaking of nurses, one of the first full-bodied apparitions ever reported was that of a woman in a white nurse's outfit hanging around one of the hospital balconies. The sounds of coughing and labored breathing have been heard by guests of the hotel as well.

Jerome was full of miners, so it isn't surprising that one of the ghosts seen at the hotel belongs to an old bearded miner. A patient at the hospital made the first reported sighting and he claimed that the miner had been floating down the hall and that he turned on all the lights as he went. Some time later, a nurse reported seeing a bearded man in miner's clothing standing at the end of a hallway. She approached him and he disappeared. This spirit has continued to be seen by hotel guests. He is generally seen on the second and third floor. Room 20 reputedly is home to a ghost cat. Some of the experiences have been threatening. Guests and staff have reported being pushed in the hallways.

One guest was so disturbed by seeing a door open by itself in his room that he ran to the lobby and slept there, unwilling to return to his room while it was still dark. The hotel lobby may not have been the best place though because it is considered the most active area in the hotel. The lobby doors open and close by themselves as though unseen guests are coming and going. Items fly off the shelves in the gift shop. Pictures are pulled from the walls in the lobby and chairs have been rearranged. Desk clerks receive phone calls from empty rooms. When they pick up the phone, they hear no one on the other end. As for the rest of the hotel, objects move by an unseen force and phantom footsteps are heard walking the hallways and the stairs. The cleaning staff have experienced the most paranormal activity. They hear their names called out when no one is there and their cleaning supplies get moved or go missing. Guests and staff both claim that the ghost a little boy around the age of six likes to hang around the third floor.

We just produced an exclusive bonus episode that featured haunted elevators. One of the elevators we did not include in that episode is the 1926 Otis elevator here at the Jerome Grand Hotel. There are two ghosts connected to this elevator. The first is our infamous lady in white, but this lady is actually elderly which makes her unique, since most of our ladies in white are younger. She is usually seen standing near the elevator. The other ghost is the most well known spirit at the hotel. His name is Claude Harvey and he was once the maintenance man for the hospital back in 1935. Most people called him Scotty and they were shocked when they heard about his death. His body was found pinned under the elevator, but the inquest found that his cause of death was not being crushed by the elevator. His neck was broken and he had a scratch behind one of his ears. Some thought that he had jumped down the elevator shaft, but there was no reason for him to kill himself. The death was officially ruled an accident, but many believed he had been murdered and then dumped in the shaft where his body was later pinned by the elevator car. And perhaps because of all these reasons, Scotty is not at rest. Almost immediately after his death, the elevator started behaving oddly. Lights are seen in the elevator shaft and there are no lights in there. When the building was abandoned, people claimed to hear the elevator creaking up and down. There was no electricity, so why was the elevator going up and down? Others have claimed to actually see Scotty as a shadow person in the basement and near the elevator. Some see his full-bodied apparition and he appears angry and makes people feel uncomfortable, but he has never hurt anyone.

Kari S. on Yelp wrote, "My son and I had an incredible time at this boutique hotel. The drive to Jerome was well worth it, scary, but worth it. We checked in and the staff was super friendly and explained everything to us (manual elevator, etc.) and we were put in room 37b. This is an absolutely beautiful hotel and it is most definitely haunted. We had many paranormal interactions during our one night stay. The hotel staff also gave my son a copy of the death certificate and a letter from the 24 year old girl's family...she lost her life after jumping to her death from the window in room 37b. If you want more info I highly encourage you to read the journals at the front desk and/or to take the ghost tour with Chris."

Kari on TripAdvisor, reviewed the ghost tour at the hotel and included a weird picture, which we included here:

Many people have died in this building. Do their spirits still remain here after death? Are more than just the living staying at the hotel? The front desk has journals full of guest's ghostly experiences. Is the Jerome Grand Hotel haunted? That is for you to decide!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

HGB Ep. 220 - Kentucky State Penitentiary

Moment in Oddity - Tomato as the Wolf Peach
Suggested by: Shelby Hammond

Some people may not be aware that a tomato is not actually a vegetable. It was declared to be one in the courts in 1893, but botanically, the tomato is a fruit, more specifically classified as a berry. When the tomato finally made its way to Europe, many Europeans associated it with poisonous plants like nightshade and mandrake. The tomato plant is actually part of the nightshade family, Solanaceae. (Sole ah niece ee i) German folklore claimed that witches used these plants to summon werewolves. The old German word for tomato was wolfpfirsich (wolfpfeersick.) The tomato species name became Lycopersicon (like oh purse ican) esculentum (ess coo lentum) in the 18th century, which literally means "edible wolf peach." Many believe that Linnaeus (Lyn nigh us) chose this name because he was familiar with the legend about tomatoes being used to attract werewolves. During colonial times, tomatoes were used strictly as decoration because the colonists believed eating a tomato would turn your blood to acid. Farmers who tried to sell tomatoes in the markets had no luck convincing anyone to buy them. Perhaps that is why the lore then switched to large red tomatoes being able to scare evil spirits away. People took to placing them on windowsills. Putting them on the hearth was thought to bring prosperity. So the next time you eat a tomato sandwich, now you know that there is a lot of fun lore connected to them and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - French Aviators Dieudonne Coste and Maurice Bellonte Make 1st Non-stop Flight from Europe to the USA.

In the month of September, on the 2nd, in 1930, French aviators Dieudonne Coste and Maurice Bellonte made the first non-stop flight from Europe to the USA. Coste had set flight distance records before and he was also a fighter ace during World War I. After the war, he flew in civil aviation and by 1925 he was performing record breaking flights. In 1929, he partnered with another record breaking pilot, Maurice Bellonte, and the two made an attempt to cross the North Atlantic Ocean westbound, from Villacoublay near Paris to New York. Bad weather forced them back. They set off again on September 1st in 1930 in a red Breguet 19 aeroplane from Paris Le Bourget Field aerodrome. They arrived at Curtiss Field aerodrome in Valley Stream, Long Island New York after a  37 hour and 18 minutes flight. An enormous crowd awaited them including Charles Lindbergh and his wife. There was a ticker-tape reception and a meeting with President Hoover on September 8th. An interesting side story involved the loss of their navigational map out the window while flying over Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Two children saw the map falling from the sky while they were watching for the flight to cross over their farm and they retrieved it. They returned the map to Costes after he asked for its return through the media.

Kentucky State Penitentiary

The Kentucky State Penitentiary is known as the "Castle on the Cumberland." The prison is perched along the Cumberland River and is Kentucky's oldest prison facility. Construction on the facility began in October of 1884, headed by Governor Luke Blackburn after the Kentucky legislature passed a bill authorizing the construction. The prison officially opened in 1889. The worst of the worst have found their way to this place and male death row inmates have been housed here. And since 1911, 164 men have been executed at the penitentiary. Because of the deaths and the energy, the prison is reputedly haunted. Author and paranormal investigator, Steve E. Asher joins us to share the history and hauntings of the Kentucky State Penitentiary.

The Kentucky State Penitentiary was meant to bring reform to the prison system. Life in prison before the 1880s was horrific. An study conducted at the original Kentucky State Prison found that 20% of inmates had pneumonia and seventy-five percent had scurvy. Descriptions in the study claimed that the jail had "slime covered walls, open sewage, and graveyard coughs." Approximately seventy of the one-thousand prisoners had died in 1875. The Kentucky State Penitentiary became the jail for executions and Old Sparky took its first victim on July 8, 1911. That convict was a black man named James Buckner, who had been convicted of murder at Lebanon, Marion County. The last execution was in 2002 by lethal injection. Steve Asher worked at the jail and has collected the stories of those who have experienced paranormal activity.

Is the Kentucky State Penitentiary haunted? That is for you to decide!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

HGB Ep. 219 - Arcadia University

Moment in Oddity - Skeletal Body Paint Rituals
(Suggested by: Michael Rogers)

Chimbu Province is located in the Highlands Region of Papua, New Guinea. The area is 7,800 feet above sea level and is home to the Chimbu tribe, which numbers around 60,000 members. The tribe was unknown to the world until 1934. What makes them unique is their tradition of skeletal body paint. Centuries ago, the tribe began painting their bodies with black and white paint so that they would appear to be living and moving skeletons and this was done to scare their enemies. Today, the tribe no longer needs to scare enemies, but they continue the tradition with a festival they call "Sing Sing," which is a Pidgin word meaning music party. The festival is conducted to bring together all the tribal groups to celebrate the rituals and traditions of their cultures. Around 60to 100 tribes take part in the skeleton dance. Both men, women and children all participate and  paint their bodies. The dances consist of fluid movements and aggressive gestures that imitate attacking or defending oneself. The skeletal body paint is really cool, but it also certainly is odd!

This Month in History - PT-109 Rammed Nearly Killing Future President John F. Kennedy

In the month of August, on the 1st, in 1943, American patrol torpedo boat, number 109, was rammed by a Japanese Destroyer, Amaqiri, and split in half killing two crew members, but leaving eleven alive, one of whom is future president John F. Kennedy.Those eleven crew members clung to debris for five hours before they found a coral island upon which to rest. Kennedy volunteered to swim back out to sea and flag down an American vessel. He was unable to find a ship and finally returned to the island, suffering greatly from his chronic back condition. He fell ill, so everyone waited until he was better to swim to a larger island, which turned out to be Cross Island. Two natives opn the island agreed to take a message that Kennedy had carved into a coconut shell. It read, “Nauru Is. Native knows posit. He can pilot. 11 alive need small boat.” The men were rescued and Kennedy was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, for gallantry in action. The coconut eventually ended up in the Oval Office when he became President.

Arcadia University (Suggested by Christopher Klimovitz)
Just outside of Philadelphia, in a town called Glenside, sits a small private university that is home to a castle. This is the second campus that we have featured with a castle-like structure and this one is also haunted. Grey Towers was once home to the William Harrison Family and many of them seem to still be here after death. The university that now sits on that former property is Arcadia University and it has a history dating back to the mid-1800s. Our listener Chris Klimovitz is an alumni of Arcadia University and he joins us to share his experiences at the university and the stories of haunting legends and experiences connected to the school.

Glenside, Pennsylvania is a city just outside of northern Philadelphia. It sits within three townships with most of it being in Cheltenham Township. William Penn, for whom Pennsylvania is named, deeded out land grants for parts of Philadelphia and what would become Cheltenham to fifteen Englishmen. Two of them, Tobias Leech and Richard Wall, would become instrumental in the founding of the township in 1682. Wall's home is the oldest historic building still standing in the township. Humphrey Morrey was another early resident and he served as Philadelphia's mayor from 1691 to 1701. His son Richard would inherit his property and he would become one of the first Americans to free his slaves and distribute land to them. The area these former slaves settled in would first be named Guineatown since most were from Guinea. It later became Edge Hill and today is part of Glenside. One of the National Historic Landmarks in Cheltenham Township and Glenside is Grey Towers, which is part of the Arcadia University campus.

Arcadia University started out as many universities do, with a different name and at a different location. The school was established near the confluence of the Beaver and Ohio Rivers in a town named Beaver. The town had originally been founded as Fort McIntosh, which was built during the American Revolutionary War and named for General McIntosh. The town of Beaver wanted to have a school of higher learning and established a place for that in 1853 as Beaver Female Seminary. The school attained collegiate status in 1872 under the Methodist Episcopal Church and was named Beaver College. From 1872 to 1907, it allowed enrollment to men. The college moved in 1925 to the larger city of Jenkintown and switched affiliation to the Presbyterian Church. Enrollment skyrocketed with the move and the school actually had to put limits on enrollment.

After three years, it was decided by the trustees that they needed to buy more property and when the Grey Towers estate came up for sale, they bought the spacious grounds and buildings. The college would operate both campuses until the mid-1960s when everything was consolidated at the Grey Towers property. In 1973, men were allowed to enroll at the college again. In July of 2001, the college received university status and changed its name to Arcadia University. Today, the campus sits on 72 acres and has around 4,000 students enrolled. The university is known for its study abroad programs. Susan Savage, the former mayor of Tulsa, Oklahoma is a graduate of Arcadia as is actress Anna Smith whom you may know from the shows, "The West Wing" and "Nurse Jackie."

The Grey Towers Castle is the most prominent feature of the campus. Rosedale Hall stood here originally until 1893, when a fire gutted the home. At the time, William Welsh Harrison was living at Rosedale Hall. He had purchased the estate in 1881 when he was just 31-years-old. He had made his fortune as co-owner of the Franklin Sugar Refinery. After buying the property, Harrison enlarged the main house, improved the stables and added a gatehouse. He contracted architect Horace Trumbauer to help with the renovations. It was a good thing that the stables were improved because the family had to flee to them when the fire broke out in 1893. Harrison asked Trumbauer to come back and build the family a new home. Trumbauer let his imagination go and he decided to model the new estate after Alnwick Castle, the medieval seat of the Dukes of Northumberland in England.

Greystone was quarried and transported from nearby Chestnut Hill and Indiana limestone was used for exterior trim on the doors, windows and other elements. The interior features 44 rooms lined with hand-carved wood. Two Caen stone mantles were inspired by the Renaissance mantle in the royal Château de Blois. There is a central escutcheon that bears the coat-of-arms of Harrison's father. The decor that the Harrison's used for their estate matched the design of Grey Towers dating to the French Renaissance through the age of Louis XV. Interior elements that matched the style were walls lined with inset book cabinets, plaster frieze molding featuring cupids and garlands, walnut columns framing wood paneling on the walls and strapwork ceilings inspired by Fontainebleau, which was Napoleon's favorite French royal palace. Before 1952, there was also a circular conservatory on the south terrace that featured glass doors.

There was a Breakfast Room that had a narrow band of tapestry woven with scenes of a hunt and a ceiling of painted canvas panels between the ceiling beams. Like a typical castle, the Grey Towers features a Great Hall and this is where the mantles and fireplaces are located. Next to the Great Hall is the Billiard Room, which is paneled in oak, and next to that is the Mirror Room featuring a domed and gilded ceiling. The Ballroom was a package deal made in France and shipped to Glenside where it was installed. The ceiling has a scene that represents the four seasons as women and the zodiac cuts a path through the sky. The area between the ceiling and the walls has a vine motif featuring cupids, long-necked birds, and female figures.

The Ballroom leads into the Rose Room with decor from the later years of Louis XV’s reign. The Music Room had a ceiling painted in a Renaissance style and tapestries decorated the walls above the wainscoting. There was a fireplace in here that featured a tapestry of Euterpe, the Greek Muse of Music. William Baumgarten and Company Inc. of New York City crafted all of the tapestries and paintings in Grey Towers and this work was most likely completed in 1898. When the castle was finished, it was one of the largest homes in America at the time. Harrison died in 1927 and the family decided to sell the property. Beaver College purchased it for $712,500. In October 1985, Grey Towers Castle was declared a National Historic Landmark. The third floor houses dorms for freshmen and lectures are held in the Rose and Mirror Rooms. The rest of the castle has administrative offices and conference rooms. It also is home to a couple of ghosts, as is the rest of the campus.

Many hauntings have a background in strife, unhappiness or other negative emotions. The Harrison's marriage was an unhappy one. The couple were so estranged from each other that when the Castle was designed, they each had their own separate wing, so they would have little contact with each other. Mr. Harrison kept his bed warm with other women, one of whom was a maid that he secreted to him via secret passageways within the Castle. There was a circular room painted white in the Castle. One day, the maid found herself trapped in the room by Mrs. Harrison and she was holding a large butcher knife. Legend claims that the maid ended up dead and her blood was on the walls. Those walls would not come clean. So the walls were repainted white, but the red of the blood would eventually bleed through. The walls would not stop bleeding and so the room was painted red and renamed the Red Room.

The children are said to haunt their former nursery and people claim to see them reflected in the mirrors running about. A disembodied sound of a rocking chair is heard and some believe it is Mrs. Harrison rocking in that chair. The staircase is connected to a horrible story that has led to a haunting by one of the daughter's friends. This friend had come to visit one day. She was wearing a scarf and as she ran down the stiarcase, the scarf hooked onto the bannister and pulled her back, flipped her over the bannister and she was hanged by her scarf. When students are running down the stairs, they claim to feel something they can't see pushing back against them as if trying to slow them down. Many believe it is the spirit of this girl trying to prevent them from suffering the same fate.

An addition to this story is about a cover-up. The girl's mother obviously came looking for her when she did not return home. Harrison told the woman that the girls were playing in the fields and that he would join her to go fetch the girls. Harrison came home alone later and it is thought that he killed the mother. The athletic fields were built on these former fields and students claim to see the full-bodied apparition of a woman in a flowing dress crossing the field as though she is searching for her daughter. 
The Mirror Room on the first floor obviously houses several mirrors and it is a ballroom where dances are hosted. Legend claims that if you see one of the Harrison family members reflected back at you in a mirror it means you will marry the person with whom you are dancing. There is other activity that is unexplained. A pounding on the floor has been linked to Mr. Harrison who used to do that to tell the maids he needed them to bring him more whiskey.

The Communication and Art classes are held in Murphy Hall. This is where the stables had once been and students claim to hear the sounds of horses, especially at night. A young stable boy is thought to have died in the stables from an accident because his ghost has been seen on many occasions. He is around ten years old and appears at the end of hallways. When students ask him where his parents are, he disappears.

Chris shared many of the legends and haunting experiences that people have had on the campus. Do the spirits of the former residents and their employees still reside at the campus in the afterlife? Is Arcadia University haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

HGB Ep. 218 - Old Fort Niagara

Moment in Oddity - Delphi Purple Sapphire

Purple sapphires are very rare gems and they are unique in that they don't need to be heat treated to obtain their best color. The most famous purple sapphire is the Delphi Purple Sapphire. And the funny thing is that the Delphi Purple Sapphire is actually an amethyst. Today, it can be found at London's Natural History Museum, but it began its travels in the Temple of Indra in 1857. It was looted during the Indian Mutiny of that year and legend claims that a curse was set in motion. Bengal Cavalryman Colonel W. Ferris brought the gem home with him and soon the entire Ferris family was battling illness and struggling financially. A family friend wore the gem one day and committed suicide while in possession of the stone. Author Edward Heron-Allen became the next owner in 1890 and he suffered a series of misfortunes. He was a scientific man and not given to such beliefs, but he began telling people the gem was cursed. He tried to pawn it off on a couple of friends who soon returned it after experiencing their own bad luck. So Edward threw the sapphire into the dirty Regent's Canal. It came back to him three months later when a dredger found it. Edward eventually put it in a box with instructions for it to be given to the Natural History Museum upon his death. A note was included the detailed its cursed history and gave instructions that Edward's daughter was to never touch or be in possession of the gem. Edward ended the note with, "Whoever shall then open it, shall first read out this warning, and then do as he pleases with the jewel. My advice to him or her is to cast it into the sea". A member of the museum has transported the stone three times for events and each time he experienced a horrid weather event or illness. If there really is a curse that continues on into the present in regards to the Delphi Purple Sapphire, that certainly is odd!

This Month in History - President Warren G. Harding Dies

In the month of August, on the 2nd, in 1923, President Warren G. Harding died suddenly in the presidential suite of San Francisco’s Palace Hotel while on a Western speaking tour called "The Voyage of Understanding." His wife had been reading him the "Saturday Evening Post" as he recovered from a week long illness that many felt was food poisoning. He had been experiencing cramps, fever, indigestion and shortness of breath. The stress of the tour was thought to have made matters worse. His wife was reading an article about him and he commented after she finished, "That's good, go on." He then shuddered and fell back dead on his bed. The Teapot Dome political scandal had tainted his administration and many rumors began after his sudden death, calling into question if he had really just dropped dead from illness. The vice president, Calvin Coolidge, was sworn into office at 2:43 a.m. Eastern time, at his home in Plymouth, Vermont.

Old Fort Niagara

When one hears the city of Niagara mentioned, one immediately thinks of the stunning natural wonder Niagara Falls. There is much more to this western New York area and it is truly a haunted spot. One location that is rich in history and haunts is Old Fort Niagara. The Fort's history stretches back over three centuries and it initially was a key point of defense, especially during the colonial wars in North America. Several countries have held control of Fort Niagara. Fort Conti, Fort Devonville, the French Castle and finally Fort Niagara have all had homes here. The strategic importance of the Fort diminished when the Erie Canal was built, but it remained active into the 20th century. Today, it has been restored and is operated by the Old Fort Niagara Association, Inc., a not-for-profit organization, in cooperation with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Tours are offered and it is a living museum. Former docent from the fort and author, podcaster and investigator Tim Shaw joins us to discuss the history and hauntings of Old Fort Niagara!

An interesting legend is connected to Fort Niagara and its role in putting down a Native American rebellion led by the Seneca. The Fort became a staging area for one final effort by the British to stop the rebellion and it worked. The tribes were required to sign peace treaties, but the Seneca had a harsher punishment and were forced to give up a one-mile wide strip of land on the east side of the Niagara River.  The reason for this was what has been dubbed "The Massacre at Devil's Hole." Devil's Hole is a huge cavern near the Niagara Gorge that was originally nearly three-quarters of a mile in length. The native tribes in the area used it as a hiding place and legend claims that they killed anyone who came near it, leading to people claiming that it is home to evil spirits.The Battle of Devil's Hole, also known as the Devil's Hole Massacre, was fought near Niagara Gorge in present-day New York state on September 14, 1763. The squirmish was between a detachment of the British 80th Regiment of Light Armed Foot and about 300 Seneca warriors. The regiment was leading a wagon supply train from Fort Schlosser to Fort Niagara. The Seneca warriors killed 81 British soldiers and wounded 8 before the British managed to retreat.

A legend claims that French explorer Robert René Cavelier de La Salle was returning to Lake Ontario when he and his guide came upon the Devil's Hole. His guide told him it was the abode of the Devil. La Salle was an explorer and he wanted to descend into its depths so his guide tried to dissuade him with this story, "Ages and ages of prosperity and happiness to the red men had passed from the time of his first creation. The Great Spirit loved his red children, and gave them this country for the sole use and enjoyment. So it would have continued forever, if the Great Falls of Onguiaahra, whose thunder, we now hear so plainly, had continued near the spot where your canoe landed. (Lewiston). But the red men became bad, and vexed the Great Spirit with their war parties. The rocks began to fall off amid thunders and storms, and scarcely a moon passed that was not marked by some change. Moons and moons passed and the falls were above this "Devil's Hole" which then became open to the rapids, and the Evil Spirit could get out. Noise of thunder, shrieks and groans were often heard from his darkened den, which greatly excited the curiosity of the young man. One of them, a fine young brave, insisted upon examining the secrets of this dark prison house. Armed for battle, he descended with much difficulty, and we never saw him more. Then came the word that the pale faces, in the vast canoes which could each carry an army, had come out of the great sea, and landed under the midday sun. The evil was distant, and we thought little of it. Time passed on, and another of our young men descended into the cavern; he returned in a few hours, a raving maniac, and his hair, which had been black and glossy as a Raven had become white as snow. Then came the word that a paleface, Jean Cabot, had landed on the shore of the great sea, convinced that the spirit of evil lived in this deep, dark hole, and that the fate of the red man depended upon his not being disturbed. This is the tradition of our race. Judge them, my white brother, whether you could disturb the Evil Spirit in his abode, and not suffer the penalty?"

La Salle seemed convinced that it would be a bad idea based on this revelation by his guide, so the men rode away. But La Salle could not stop thinking about the place and two days later he decided to return and explore the Devil's Hole. He went alone and descended into the hole. He heard disembodied whispers and he pressed deeper into the cavern. Then he heard a voice speak in the Iroquois language with an urgent warning for him saying, "Return to your home in Canada, and wealth, honors, a long life and usefulness will be yours, and when death comes, generations of your descendants shall follow you to your grave, and history shall transmit your name to prosperity as the successful founder of a great empire. Proceed to the West, and although gleams of hope may, at times, shine in your path, in gratitude and disappointment will be sure to meet and follow you, until a treacherous murder shall end your days remote from human habitation, without the shelter of even a wigwam of a friendly red man. The Eagles of the desert shall strip the flesh from your bones, which shall lay bleaching under the tropical sun, unburied and unprotected by the cross you now so devotedly cherish."

La Salle ran terrified from the Devil's Hole. Unfortunately, he did not listen and he pressed West, finding bad luck and losing his fortune. Nearly 14 years later, the entire prophecy had almost been fulfilled. He returned to France after his native empire in Illinois was wiped out entirely. Was the Evil Spirit actually being helpful to La Salle or had it cursed him for entering the Devil's Hole? And did any of this experience actually happen?

Employees at the Fort claim to see strange reflections and to hear ghostly sounds of battle, marching, snoring, yelling and alarms going off. Chairs move on their own as do other objects. One investigator claimed to encounter a black phantom and a soldier. He also got odd feelings near the well where the body of the headless dueler was thrown. There are claims that a hobgoblin is seen in the cemetery.

Based on the stories we have heard, not only from Tim, but others, it would seem that there are spirits at unrest at this old fort. Is Old Fort Niagara haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:

Tim Shaw Links:
Twitter: @TimShawGhost

To find his podcast, search Slackjaw Punks:

Friday, August 18, 2017

HGB Ep. 217 - Haunted Cemeteries 3

Moment in Oddity - Ghost Cemetery Guide
(Story shared by listener Chelsea Bishop)

Our listener Chelsea shared this odd experience at the Los Angeles National Cemetery:

"To be honest, I am not completely sure if this cemetery is haunted. Although there are many soldiers buried here (my grandfather and great grandfather are one of the many). We have visited this cemetery once a year (mostly on Memorial day), but one year my mom had this strong feeling that she needed to go back and visit her dad's grave stone again. Oddly enough the day that she went with my dad was Mother's day and the place was packed. It is a pretty large cemetery and unless you have done research ahead of time, you can easily get lost looking for a certain head stone. This is exactly what had happened to my mom and dad. They had to park and were about to looking for the row number of my grandfather's head stone when they realized... the paper was left back at home, an hour away. Not wanting to leave after taking so long to arrive, my parents decided they would separate and search (then call each when one of them found it). Just when my mom was completely frustrated, she heard someone call her. She looked up to see an elderly woman with a cane walk over to her. The woman asked if she could help my mom. My mom told her that she was lost looking for her father, the woman responded, "ask God to help you." Now my mom believes that there is a greater power but not that much. She rolled her eyes and then glanced on the ground. Sure enough my mom was standing right next to her dad's grave stone. When she looked up to thanked the elderly woman... the woman was gone. Immediately my mom called my dad, he wanted to explain away the situation with, "well the place is packed, maybe you misplaced her?" But whoever the woman was, she did not seem to be the type to easily take off and start running away. Maybe there is a helpful guide at this cemetery? I'm not sure, but whoever helped, my family is truly grateful." A ghost cemetery guide, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Jamaica's Second Maroon War

In the month of August, in 1795, Jamaica's Second Maroon War began. The Maroons of Jamaica were escaped slaves who ran away from the Spanish-owned plantations that they worked on when the British wrested control of Jamaica from the Spanish in 1655. Maroon means mountain and that is where the slaves ran and hid: to the mountains of Jamaica. The government felt that the Maroons were a threat and the two sides began the first Maroon War in 1728. They made peace in 1739, but it did not last, at least not with all of the Maroons. A new governor decided to forget about the treaty that had been signed and arrested two leaders of the Maroons of Trelawny Parish. This started the Second Maroon War. The Maroons held off the British soldiers, which had 4500 men to their 300. The Governor offered a new peace treaty if the Maroons laid down their arms. They did, but the offer was a trick. The Maroons were arrested and sent to Nova Scotia. In 1800, many of them would be shipped to Sierra Leone. Trelawny is now known as Maroon Town even though there are no longer any Maroons there.

Haunted Cemeteries 3

We love to visit cemeteries. They are so peaceful and many of the older ones are like parks. We will be talking about a couple of these park-like cemeteries today. We'll be in New York to check out a graveyard that inspired Central Park, Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery. Then there is Spring Hill Cemetery in West Virginia that is home to victims of epidemics and a plane crash. Indiana's Clark County has several old cemeteries with unique legends and finally our listener Dannah Jones joins us to discuss Maple Hill Cemetery and its creepy legend that will make you think twice about the swings at the playground. All of these places of rest have several spirits at unrest!

Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery (Suggested by Margo Donohue of Book vs. Movie Podcast)

Green-Wood Cemetery is located in Brooklyn, New York. The graveyard is spread out over 478 acres and was established in 1838. The cemetery was the idea of Henry Evelyn Pierrepont. The architect of the cemetery was David Bates Douglass. The gorgeous gates were designed by Richard M. Upjohn. He also designed the Pierrepont Family Memorial, the Receiving Tomb and several shelters that are long gone. The gates he created are in the Gothic Revival style and feature biblical scenes of death and resurrection from the New Testament including Lazarus, The Widow's Son, and Jesus' Resurrection crafted by sculptor John M. Moffitt on Nova Scotia limestone panels. The cemetery chapel was designed by the architects Warren & Wetmore. And finally, the Weir Greenhouse was designed by G. Curtis Gillespie. The grounds were beautiful and attracted people from all over the world to come visit and picnic on its grounds. By the 1860s, it had 500,000 visitors coming a year, which was second only to Niagara Falls as the nation’s greatest tourist attraction. The cemetery inspired the creation of both Prospect and Central Parks. The grounds feature one of the largest outdoor collections of 19th and 20th century statuary and mausoleums.

This wasn't always a peaceful spot. The Battle of Long Island was fought here in 1776. Battle Hill is in fact, the highest point in Brooklyn. Frederick Ruckstull made a Revolutionary War monument named Altar to Liberty: Minerva, which was erected in 1920 and faces towards the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. The Battle of Long Island or Brooklyn, as it is sometimes called, was fought on August 27, 1776. This was the first battle of the American Revolution after the Declaration of Independence was issued and it was the largest battle of the war. The Americans saw Battle Hill in the distance and saw the strategic importance so 300 soldiers went to grab the hill, but the British beat them to it and fired upon them. The Americans pressed forward and eventually took the hill even though they were outnumbered. The British lost 400 men, but the Americans suffered over 1,000 casualties and the battle was considered a loss for the Americans and the British eventually took New York City.

There are 560,000 people buried here. Some of the notable people buried here include Leonard Bernstein, Boss Tweed, Charles Ebbets, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Horace Greeley, several Civil War generals, baseball legends, inventors, entertainers, politicians and artists. Boss Tweed should not have been buried here because he died in the Ludlow Street Jail and at the time there was a regulation in place at Green-Wood that no one could be buried there if they executed for a crime or died in jail. Somehow his family circumvented the rule. Another criminal who found his way here was John Torrio, a notorious gangster who mentored Al Capone. Roland Burnham Molineux was a chemist in Brooklyn who was angry with Harry Cornish, the director of his local athletic club, and he decided to poison the man. He mailed him a bottle of Bromo-seltzer laced with cyanide. Unfortunely, the woman providing lodging to Cornish took the Bromo-seltzer to relieve a headache and she died. Molineux was arrested and convicted, but was later acquited. He is buried here at Green-Wood. And important to our audience is the grave of Margaret Fox, the mother of the Fox Sisters, who helped make Spiritualism so popular. An obelisk near the main entrance at Fifth Avenue and 25th Street marks the burial site of 103 unidentified victims of the 1876 Brooklyn Theater Fire. On September 27, 2006, Green-Wood was designated a National Historic Landmark by the United States Department of the Interior.

The cemetery made news in 2014 when a man dressed as a creepy clown was seen holding a fistful of pink balloons clambering through the graveyard. He wore a polka-dotted outfit and multi-colored shoes. He was captured on a couple of YouTube videos, but not arrested. There are more than just pranksters making this cemetery a creepy place at times. Green-Wood is reputedly haunted. A photo was taken by a visitor named Mark and it seems to reveal a misty apparition that looks like a skeletal female. He said of the experience, "While visiting the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY today, I was peeking into a crypt and trying to see in. It was too dark to see anything. The only opening was this cross in the door so I tried using the camera flash to light up the inside. The flash went off but it didn’t seem to do anything but bounce off the stone. Then when I got home I uploaded the photo and saw this smoke-like image inside the tomb. I don’t know whose tomb it is, I didn’t even think to look when I was there. I will have to go back and see if I can find it. This cemetery is massive."

Many visitors to the cemetery claim to capture weird, ghost-like images in their pictures. The ghost of  Mabel Douglass is seen roaming the graveyard. She disappeared on Lake Placid and her body was found at the bottom of the lake, petrified and perfectly intact 30 years later. She was buried at Green-wood. Revolutionary-era soldiers have been seen in the cemetery from both sides of the war. One ghost story is connected to someone buried at Green-Wood, John Anderson. He was a wealthy tobacconist who was suspected of killing Mary Rogers, a young woman found dead in the Hudson. She had been hired by Anderson to attract customers to his store. It is said that he cut a backroom deal and thus never faced prosecution. He claimed to be haunted by the ghost of Mary Rogers. An interesting aside to this is the events were covered by a young writer named Edgar Allan Poe in his story, “The Mystery of Marie Roget.”

Link to a fun video tour taken by ABC News:

Spring Hill Cemetery (Suggested by listener Victoria Brooke)

Spring Hill Cemetery is located in Huntington, West Virginia. Holderby's Landing was the first permanent settlement in the area of the future Huntington. It was founded in 1775. The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway came to town and this became a major hub for the railway when it was completed in 1873. Collis P. Huntington was one of four men who established western railroading and he built the Central Pacific Railroad. He wanted this hub to be the western terminus for the line and established a city with Delos W. Emmons and they named it for Huntington. The C&O eventually merged with other lines and is today known as CSX Transportation. Huntington was incorporated in 1871 and was the second American city to feature electric street cars after San Francisco. The first major tragedy for the city came with the Great Flood of 1937, which killed five people.

The second tragedy came in 1970 when a plane crash took the lives of 37 football players, five coaches, two athletic trainers, the athletic director, 25 boosters from the Marshall University Thundering Herd team. Five crew members were also killed. The Marshall team was returning home from a loss to the East Carolina Pirates and were flying aboard Southern Airways Flight 932 from North Carolina bound for Huntington Tri-State Airport in West Virginia. The plane collided with the tops of trees on a hillside during final descent into the airport and the plane burst into flames. The investigation was never able to figure out the cause, but many believe water seeped into the plane's altimeter and gave improper altitude readings leading the pilots to believe they were higher than they were. It was night and they were unable to see the danger that they were in leading this to become the deadliest tragedy to affect any sports team in US history. The movie "We are Marshall" was based on this event. Many of the dead were buried at Spring Hill Cemetery.

When Huntington was first established, the city set aside 30 acres for use as a public cemetery.  The cemetery derives its name from the  nearby Old Spring House. The first burial was in 1838 and is the grave of Elizabeth Prosser. Josephine Webb who was buried in 1873 is considered the first official burial.Three hundred Civil War soldiers are here. There is a small potter's field and many of those buried here are from the 1903 smallpox and the 1918 flu epidemics. It is from the burial of one of these 1903 smallpox victims that we have our first story connected to Spring Hill. William Alfred Bias was set to be buried in a mass grave and no funeral service was allowed due to contagion concerns. His sons showed up and watched from outside of the fence. The boys said a few prayers as he was put in the ground and then they noticed a ball of light hovering over his grave. It slowly rose and floated away. The boys followed it and it led them back home, where it went through the front door of the house with a thud.

Most of the ghostly apparitions are attributed to victims of the epidemics because of improper burial. The Huntington Paranormal Research Society conducted an investigation and have several videos on YouTube with their evidence. They got several EMF hits, particularly after asking for the unseen thing to touch the device. They also captured EVPs, one of which asked the investigators their names and said the word "Congress." They also captured a glowing blue orb in several consecutive pictures that were interesting.

Cemeteries of Clark County in Indiana (Encyclopedia of Haunted Indiana)

Sellersburg is named after one of the men who founded the town, Moses W. Sellers. He and a man named John Hill originally platted out the village in 1846 and they did it in a very irregular way. None of the forty-two lots have a right angle. The Jeffersonville, Madison & Indianapolis railroad passes by the east side of the village. Sellers opened the first store and cement mills employed many of the village residents. The Essroc Cement Plant is about five miles from Brick Church Road Cemetery.

- Brick Church Road Cemetery is located in Sellersburg on Brick Church Road east of Tom Combs Rd. There is reputedly a tombstone that glows green sometimes, but no one can pinpoint which tombstone this is and it seems to change. The creepier haunting here features transparent cloaked figures walking in the cemetery and inside the church at the cemetery. People claim these are Druids.

- St. Joe Road Cemetery is located in Sellersburg on SR 111 east on St. Joe Road. This cemetery is part of St. Joseph Hill Catholic Church. There is a tree in the middle of the cemetery that had once been used for public hangings. Visitors to the cemetery claim that they have seen one or more men hanging from the tree on certain nights.

Henryville, Indiana's claim to fame is that it is the birthplace of Colonel Harland Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken. The village was founded in 1850 and was originally named Morristown. Pennsylvania militia colonel Henry Ferguson purchased the land upon which Morristown was established and he convinced the Pennsylvania Railroad to bring a line to Clark County. For his efforts, the village was named in his honor in 1853.

- Mount Zion Cemetery is in Henryville and located at the east end of Blue Lick Rd. and Mt. Zion Rd. The haunting at this cemetery is connected to a woman who was killed on the road just outside the cemetery on Blue Lick Road. She manifests as a full-bodied apparition enveloped usually in a green haze and she walks through the cemetery. She seems to enjoy jumping on cars and drivers who have experienced this, claim that she leaves behind a sticky residue.

- Mountain Grove Cemetery is also known as Cemetery Hill in Henryville. It's located at the corner of Pixley Knob Rd. and Mountian Grove Rd. Daniel Guthrie was murdered and his body was buried at this cemetery. But it was not buried in a ceremony. The murderer buried the body here to hide it and it was not discovered for a year. When he was found, Daniel was buried at the Mount Zion Cemetery. Dan's spirit is not at rest probably because his murder was never solved. People who live near the cemetery, claim to hear disembodied footsteps and see the spectre of a young man with a handlebar moustache. Some of them even claim to see his footprints in mud outside of their windows. Investigators have captured EVPs in the cemetery of a male voice crying for help and screaming. One group even captured what sounds like the actual stabbing. They likened the sound to a knife going in and out of a pumpkin. A shadowy figure has been seen in the cemetery and on the nearby roadway.

Maple Hill Cemetery (Suggested by listener Dannah Jones)

Maple Hill Cemetery is one of the oldest and largest cemeteries in Alabama and was founded in 1822, but records indicate that it was a place of burial for some time before that. LeRoy Pope was a planter who owned the land and he sold it to the city of Huntsville for use as the cemetery.  Inside the cemetery is Drost Park, which has some legends connected to it. There are several unexplained occurrences there and the cemetery itself is home to many hauntings. Our listener Dannah Jones joins us to share the history and hauntings of Maple Hill.

Cemeteries are meant to be places of rest. And many of them are completely peaceful. But every so often, we run across one with shadows lurking among the headstones. These cemeteries harbor some fascinating and creepy stories of hauntings. Are these cemeteries haunted? That is for you to decide!