Thursday, June 14, 2018
Moment in Oddity - The Battle of Los Angeles
Suggested by: Anthony Ortiz
The government is so unimaginative when it comes to explaining away unidentified objects or other unidentified aerial occurrences. They always claim that it was a weather balloon. This is what took place with the Battle of Los Angeles. What do you mean you haven't heard of any Battle of Los Angeles? And no, I'm not referring to a movie. When this battle took place, the United States had just recently entered World War II because of the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. On February 24th, 1942 a rumored enemy attack and subsequent anti-aircraft artillery barrage over Los Angeles, California took place. Apparently, when all was said and done, it would seem that America's barrage against the enemy attack was really just a false alarm. At least, that was according to Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox. Newspapers of the time published a number of reports and speculations of a cover-up. A later investigation by the United States Coast Artillery Association in 1949, claimed that a meteorological balloon was sent up at 1:00 a.m. and that "started all the shooting" and the report concluded that "once the firing started, imagination created all kinds of targets in the sky and everyone joined in". In 1983, the U.S. Office of Air Force History attributed the event to a case of "war nerves" triggered by a lost weather balloon and exacerbated by stray flares and shell bursts from adjoining batteries. Really? If this is really the case, that a little old weather balloon convinced the government that we were under attack by Japanese forces, that certainly would be odd! And a lot of BS if you ask me!
This Month in History - CNN Launches as First 24-Hour Television Station
In the month of June, on the 1st, in 1980, CNN launched in Atlanta as the first 24-hour television news station. The network signed on at 6 p.m. EST from its headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, with a lead story about the attempted assassination of civil rights leader Vernon Jordan. The three major networks, ABC, CBS and NBC, would break into regular programming for major news stories and they hosted nightly 30-minute broadcasts, but the idea of running 24 hour news was foreign. CNN broke the news mold. The channel was initially available in less than two million U.S. homes, but today it is watched in more than 89 million American households and over 160 million homes internationally. Many doubters called CNN the Chicken Noodle Network because it lost money, but it eventually got very popular for breaking news and for covering live events around the world as they happened. CNN usually beat the major networks to the punch.
Return to Charleston's Old City Jail
Charleston is one of my favorite cities. There is so much history here and building after building has a story. This road trip had a group of us touring several parts of the city from cemeteries to restaurants to forts to historic mansions to the Old City Jail. On this episode, I'm going to review the places we saw, tours we took and some of the ghost stories that permeate the very essence of this city. I could easily believe that Charleston is one of the most haunted cities in America. Join me as I return to Charleston and more specifically, return to the Old City Jail, and this time I take you inside with me!
On Friday evening, we did a ghost tour with Pleasing Terrors. We hit many of the haunted locations in the historic area near Charleston Harbor. We met up in Washington Square Park. The first building we were told about was on the corner and known as the Fireproof Building because it was the first building in the US to claim to be fireproof. The reason it could do this was because it was not made from any flammable material. Unfortunately, its claim to fame proved to be untrue when it did catch fire in 1861 and a large portion of the interior was burned. It was built between 1822 and 1827. The architect was Robert Mills, who also designed the Washington Monument. *Rabbit Hole: Mills was the first native born professional architect in the US and was a keen advocate of using fireproof materials in buildings. Many think he moved towards fireproof materials starting in 1812 when he designed Virginia’s Monumental Church on a site where 72 people had died in a theater fire the year before.* The style is Neoclassical. County records were stored here since it was the most fireproof building in the city. Today, the building houses the headquarters of the S.C. Historical Society. Our guide, Mike, had worked in that building for years and told of many experiences he had, as well as those of co-workers. After doing some deep research, he was able to find out that autopsies were conducted down in the basement and they believe that is why there are hauntings here. People have seen spirits gazing out of windows at them.
We visited the Circular Congregational Church and its churchyard. I did a live video from there. The original church was built in 1806 by the Independent Church of Charles Town, which was organized as far back as 1681 in the city. The earthquake of 1886 brought it down . In 1891, it was replaced with the Romanesque Revival structure here now. The churchyard is the oldest in the city and had some very unique symbolism on the headstones including a really creepy looking woman. Some of the tombstones stood almost as tall as us. We stopped outside the infamous Unitarian Universalist churchyard where the ghost of Anabel Lee is said to rise from her grave in search of her long lost love Edgar Perry, otherwise known as Edgar Poe. Maggie managed to capture a real weird light anomoly in a live picture she shared in the Spooktacular Crew. Many times people have passed out in front of this gate, but we had no issues. It was a wonderful tour, highly recommend!
The next day, we had lunch at Poogan's Porch, a restaurant that has made the most haunted list on the Travel Channel. This is located at 72 Queen Street and the food is really good with the most amazing biscuits. The first thing you notice is that this clearly was somebody's home at one time. The restaurant of named for Poogan the dog who has his grave to the right of the walkway when you enter the yard of the restaurant. He was a neighborhood dog who liked to hang out around the porch. This home had belonged to Zoe Saint Armand and her sister Emily. They were schoolteachers who lived quietly with their cat. Emily and the cat died and Zoe became very lonely. She would spend her time on the second floor balcony waving to passers-by. Zoe eventually died too and it is believed that her spirit remains in the house. People have seen her apparition sitting on the balcony and waving. One couple saw her inside an upper story window pounding on it as if she wanted to get out. They called the police who found everything in order and nobody inside. Another story is about a newly engaged couple who decided to celebrate at the restaurant. The young woman went to the restroom and as she washed her hands , she glanced up into the mirror and saw an old woman in a long black dress and worn sweater standing behind her. She freaked out because no one was in the restroom when she exited the stall and she heard no one come in. She ran out of the bathroom, past her fiance, out the front door and into the hard where she cried hysterically. She would not come back into the restaurant and never returned. Many of the staff claim that experiences can be a bit angry as though Zoe is unhappy to have all these people in her home. We had no experiences and we used the restroom as well.
We visited the Calhoun Mansion, which was a veritable oddity museum in and of itself . The current owner who actually lives in the house has been collecting weird and unique items since he was a teenager. It was an amazing home to behold. The Victorian styled home was built in 1876. We also visited the Nathaniel Russell House, which was built in 1808 by the King of the Yankees, Nathaniel Russell. He was a merchant in Charleston who came from Rhode Island. This home reminded me of the Sorrell-Weed House in Savannah, particularly because it had oval shaped rooms with the same kind of curved wooden doors. The central staircase was a marvel to behold. It is free-flying and spirals up three floors completely unsupported. And just as the Sorrell-Weed House was built from bricks made on plantations by slaves, so was this house.
Randy was our guide with Bulldog Tours. The jail hasn't changed much since it opened in 1802. The biggest change is that it had a fourth floor, which was destroyed in the earthquake there in 1886, so the roof line was brought down to the third floor. The fourth floor was mainly used for pregnant women in the jail to give birth. The other change was that there had been a twenty foot high wall all around the jail yard and today it stands only around four feet. Everything inside is original. The staircase was brought over from England in 1802and is very ornate. The granite stairs came from New England in 1802. Men, women and children all shared the jail. The youngest child there was ten year old Alonzo Small. He was convicted of first degree murder and thrown into the third floor. There was no record of him leaving.
There were many jail breaks because the jail was made of tabby, which was easy to dig through. On the second and third floor are two huge rooms. The rooms were full of iron cages to house the criminals. The third floor was death row. They would pull the condemned criminal from that floor and bring him down to the gallows. It wasn't just hardcore criminals that were housed here. Petty thieves and other lesser infractions like helping a fugitive slave could get a person thrown into the City Jail. The warden lived in an apartment in the jail with his children. He was the only person holding down the jail after lockdown. He could look out his window and see down the hall to make sure nothing was out of order. One warden raised nine children there. The first room we entered had a rope pulley system known as the crane of pain in the middle of it that was used for torture, usually whipping with a cat o' nine tails. This would pull the skin off your back. They would throw brine on you to protect against infection.
Most people could survive four months in the jail. Anybody staying after that would probably die from disease or violence. The biggest killer in the jail was Yellow Fever. There was a huge morgue downstairs and they would try to get rid of the bodies quickly because they thought the victims were spreading the disease, rather than the mosquito. There were some who believed bad swamp gas known as miasma caused the disease and soldiers would sometimes go out to the swamps with cannons and fire off into what they thought was the miasma hoping to dissipate it. Guards would have to be careful when they entered the main cell areas. They would look through a peep hole to make sure nobody was out and then they would stick their head through a small window in the bars to make sure that no one was hiding, waiting to jump them.
During the Civil War, it hit peak occupancy because the Confederate Army turned it into a POW Camp. George Todd was a doctor brought in to care for the Union POWS. He was nuts and did weird experiments on the prisoners. The Confederate guards even feared him. Inject things in their skin and tie them in weird positions. he would amputate limbs that didn't need to be removed. he was convicted of war crimes after the war. He was the brother of Mary Todd, so brother-in-law of Abraham Lincoln. William Marcus was a man who was thrown in here after he stabbed his wife to death on a beach on Sullivan's island. He reached over and grabbed the fist of a man in the cell next to him and beat him to death with his own fist. When the guards hauled him out to hang him, he head butted one of the guards so hard, he killed him. There were many dangerous people here, including the Fishers.
There are different versions of the Lavinia Fisher story, a woman considered to be America's first female serial killer. This tour and the Pleasing Terrors tour each had different versions. She was kept in a corner cell on the second floor of the jail. She shared the cell with her husband John. Both had been convicted of multiple murders and sentenced to hang. Lavinia Fisher was born in 1793 and she was said to be one of the most beautiful women in Charleston. She married a man named John and the two ran a hotel in Charleston named Six Mile Wayfarer House because it was six miles outside of town. It was a popular place for men to stay at while traveling. Lavinia would bring the men staying at the hotel some hot tea that was laced with oleander leaves. She would sit and chat with them while they sipped the tea. She would then escort them to a room that she and John used for travelers that they had decided to murder and rob. They would stab the men and John would bury the bodies in a pit. Things changed for Lavinia and John when John Peeples came to stay. He chatted with Lavinia for quite a while giving her far too many details about his life. He didn't like tea, so he had left it untouched and when Lavinia left the room, he dumped it out. She returned and told John they had a vacant room. After getting inside his room, John had a weird feeling. Lavinia's husband had stared at him all night in an unsettling way as he chatted up Lavinia. He also felt he had shared too much and perhaps he might be robbed. He decided to sleep in a chair by the door rather than the bed and good thing because in the middle of the night he was awakened by a loud noise. He was shocked to see the bed disappearing into a hole. John jumped out the window and rode his horse to the police reporting what had happened. Lavinia and her husband were arrested.
When the police searched the hotel they found Charleston's Murder Castle. There were secret passages and mechanisms that opened floorboards. A sleeping herb was found and police believe these herbs were used to put victims to sleep. The remains of 100 people were found in the basement along with belongings of many people who were not the Fishers. John and Lavinia were tried and sentenced to hang, but they were given a chance to repeal. They were kept inside the Old Jail for a year. As they waited, they hatched a plan to escape. They made a rope from linens and John shimmied down first. He broke the rope and Lavinia was stuck in the cell. He couldn't leave without her, so he returned to the jail and they were put under better security. They were hung on the gallows behind the jail on February 18, 1820. John went quietly, but not Lavinia. She ranted and raved and refused to walk to the gallows, so she was carried. She wore a white dress and hoped that she could convince a man to marry her after John was hanged. A married woman could not be hanged. No man took her up on the offer to marry. Her last words were, “If you have a message you want to send to hell, give it to me – I’ll carry it.” She flung herself off the gallows and hit the crowd who were stunned by the awful sneer that spread across her dying visage. Historians have never found any evidence that 100 bodies were in the house. Only two bodies were discovered. And many believe that the Fishers were part of a group that merely robbed people.
Lavinia Fisher was reportedly buried in the Potter's Field next to the jail and instead of heading off to Hell, she seems to have decided to stay at the Old Jail in the afterlife. Right after she was hung, residents claimed they saw Lavinia's face behind the bars of the cell she once occupied. Lavinia's apparition is seen inside the jail wearing a wedding dress. She is a very angry and vengeful spirit. She scratches many visitors with three fingernails and usually goes after men.
The jail closed in 1939 because conditions were considered cruel and unusual punishment under the Constitution, so the government ordered it shut down. The prison sat empty for 60 years until a local architectural school bought it in 2000 and turned it into a college campus. They put electricity into it for the first time and they left about two years ago because they needed a bigger campus. Bulldog Tours has been running tours there, but those will be ending soon as the jail is gutted and made into an office building. Some of these people are going to have their desks in rooms where spirits abound.
There is reportedly the ghost of a little girl that has been seen, so apparently this jail was like many others and housed children at times. A black man in ragged clothes has been witnessed wandering the cell blocks. A heavy iron door fell off its hinges. A cop was investigating an alarm in 2006 and when he arrived, he found the back door open. He drew his gun and went inside, climbing the spiral stair case. When he got to the third floor he said he felt as though his "arms were wrapped in plastic wrap."
For those of you that listen to Pleasing Terrors Podcast, Mike Brown went into the creepy door room and witnessed the use of a Ouiji board in that room and he shares a terrifying story in episode 32 about what happened. Our guide Randy had joined the group in that room. There is something clearly evil inside this room. We went inside this room and got some weird pictures. Maggie felt uncomfortable in that room. As a side note, Mike brought that Ouiji board to the live show in Louisville. It is the creepiest board I've ever seen with what looks like little devils carved on it.
Thursday, June 7, 2018
Moment in Oddity - Cora and the Carved Tree Spirits
There are a group of islands in the state of Georgia known as the Golden Isles. These islands include Jekyll, Sea, Brunswick, Little St. Simons and St. Simons. I was passing through a few days ago and learned of the local legend of Cora on the island of St. Simons. She is a spellbinding beauty that is part human and part fish. Yes, a mermaid. She has rarely been seen by islanders, but those that have spotted her say that she is full of grace and has the deepest green eyes they have ever seen and light brown hair. Cora's purpose is to protect the eggs of the Loggerhead Turtles that are buried in nests along the St. Simons' beaches. Cora hums a song along the shoreline as the turtles hatch. This song guides the babies to the water. The mermaid teaches them to hunt and how to keep safe in the water. She then returns for the next batch of newborns. This all takes place on moonlit nights, which is why Cora is rarely seen. Her image is carved into one of the trees on the island, as are the images of 19 tree spirits. These carvings were created by sculptor Keith Jennings starting in 1982. Only seven of them are in public viewing areas, but the idea that the island of St. Simons commissioned the work in tribute to their local legends, certainly is odd!
This Month in History - Sally J. Priesand Becomes 1st Female American Rabbi
In the month of June, on the 3rd, in 1972, Sally J. Priesand became the first woman in America to be ordained as a rabbi. Rabbi Priesand was born in Cleveland in 1946, where she aspired as a teenager to become a rabbi. She attended the University of Cincinnati and received her Bachelor's Degree in 1968. After that, she won admittance to the rabbinic school at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. Keep in mind through all this dreaming and all this schooling, that there was no such thing as a female rabbi in America. Rabbi Priesand was dogged by skepticism everywhere she went. No one believed that her dream would ever come true. But in 1972, she was ordained within the Reform movement. She quickly secured the position of assistant rabbi at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in New York City. She left there in 1979 because they would not promote her to senior rabbi. Rabbi Priesand was rejected by several temples, but finally became a senior rabbi at Temple Beth El in Elizabeth, N.J. Three years later she became rabbi of Monmouth Reform Temple in Tinton Falls, N.J. and remained there until her retirement in 2006.
Old Slave House (Suggested by: Andrea Ward)
Whether one calls it the Crenshaw House, Hickory Hill or the Old Slave House, one thing is certain about this house that sits on a hill in Southern Illinois. The horrifying history of its past certainly lends itself to a negative energy that backs up the claim that this is one of the most haunted locations in Illinois. Not only were slaves brutalized here, but an operation known as the Reverse Underground Railroad did a good job of thwarting the work of the Underground Railroad. This may surprise some as Illinois was a free state, but that did not stop the actions of evil men. The hauntings that have been experienced at this place are negative and chilling. Join me as I share the history and hauntings of the Old Slave House.
I just spent a few days in Charleston, South Carolina. The slave trade in South Carolina was alive and well for more than a century and Charleston was a key place of trade in human slavery during the 1800s. Slave auctions were held downtown near the Old Exchange Building. Feeling the pain and suffering of these auctions is expected in places like this in the south. Hearing stories of painful events connected to slavery in the north is not as common and that is probably why the stories about the Old Slave House in Gallatin County in Illinois are surprising.
Gallatin County was organized in 1812 and was named for Albert Gallatin, who was the Secretary of the Treasury at that time. Equality is a village within that county and it became the county seat. One draw of the village was the nearby salt works. Native Americans called it the Great Salt Springs and used the salt until the French came and began extracting it in 1735. The tribes in the area retained control though, but finally ceded it to the US government in 1803. The government would lease out the extraction of the mines with the requirements that a certain amount of salt be produced. If this didn’t happen, the lessee would have to pay a penalty. Work in the salt mines was nasty and grueling. Most men would not do it, which led to the use of slave labor. Anti-slavery treaties were in place in Illinois, but an exception was made for the salt mines. As we know, money talks. There were 239 slaves on the 1820 census in Gallatin County. In 1838, many of these slaves would call the mansion John Crenshaw built home.
John Hart Crenshaw was born in November of 1797 on the border of the Carolinas. His family went all the way back to the founding of the country. They eventually moved west to Missouri until the big earthquake in 1811 destroyed their home. They decided to make the move to Illinois and started a farm on the east side of Eagle Mountain where there was a salt well. They called it Half Moon Lick. It was shortly after the move that John’s father died, leaving him as eldest son to care for his mother and six siblings. He ran the crude salt refinery at Half Moon Lick. Perhaps it was this part of his life that turned him into the cruel and evil man he would become. Crenshaw would become worse than just a slave owner. He would use his influence and money to kidnap free slaves, force them into breeding, slavery and send some back to the south. The slaves that he owned would be locked in chains, a sound that would rattle through the ages and can still be heard today by those that venture into the abandoned home branded with No Trespassing signs.
In 1829, the government decided to stop leasing their salt mines and offered the men who were producing the salt a chance to purchase their holdings. The individual operators were given the opportunity to purchase their holdings and Crenshaw did just that. He would eventually buy up several thousand acres of land and build a sawmill and three salt furnaces for processing. His fortune grew and one thing that gave him a lot of pull in the county was that he paid one-seventh of all of the taxes collected in the state. So his activity was basically ignored. As an example of his influence, Abraham Lincoln visited the house in September of 1840 when he was a state representative. He was attending debates in Equality and had been invited to a ball being held at the Crenshaw House. The second floor had a space that could easily be converted to a ballroom. Mr. Lincoln spent the night in the Southeast bedroom of the Crenshaw House. He more than likely slept on the floor because the Crenshaws did not have a big enough bed for him.
Now it may not be that people just turned a blind eye to Crenshaw’s kidnapping and illegal slave trade. Crenshaw was a man of the church and a successful businessman, so many would not have even suspected. Perhaps they knew he was working black people as slaves, but they did not know that the third floor of his home was a barred chamber of horrors. Nor that he was hiring out men to kidnap free blacks. But I seriously doubt it because he was charged with kidnapping in 1828. The case involved the kidnapping of an indentured servant named Frank Granger whom he sold into slavery in Kentucky. Following that, he kidnapped a free black woman named Lucinda and her two children. He took them to Kentucky as well and sold them. This was before he built Crenshaw House, but still.
Crenshaw House was begun in 1834 and finished in 1838. The mansion was built in the Classic Greek style and was three stories tall. The front porch featured large columns, cut from the hearts of individual pine trees. These columns framed the large verandahs. There were thirteen rooms on the first and second floors. Each one had a separate fireplace. Crenshaw furnished the house with lavish European artwork and furniture. He had the third floor reinforced with thicker walls and had over a dozen cells installed. They each had metal rings and chains and were about the size of a horse stall. And even more horrifying were the whipping posts installed at both ends of the hallway. Keep in mind that Crenshaw was married with five children and the family living quarters were on the first and second floor. There was little light or air up here either. And don’t let the small number of cells make you think he had few slaves. These were just mainly for the purpose of running what would be called the Reverse Underground Railroad. At one time, Crenshaw had around 700 slaves or indentured servants. Some of those servants were white people.
The Reverse Underground Railroad was exactly what it sounds like. Just the opposite of whisking black slaves to freedom. This was capturing free slaves and selling them off to southern states. Kidnappers physically abused and psychologically terrorized their captives. One of the goals of the beatings was to cause such fear so that a free black person would not try to claim their free status. Once kidnappers sold their victims into slavery, the free blacks chances of ever being believed were diminished and their chances of being free again were gone. Even when owners heard the truth about a slave that they had bought actually being a free man who had been kidnapped, he would ignore this so as not to lose his investment. And even if a kidnapper was brought up on charges, it was nearly impossible to prove that a slave had been free. And keep in mind that in many places, blacks could not testify against whites. Only a white person could confirm a black’s freedom and most feared repercussions or persecution for helping a black person and sending a fellow white person to jail.
Crenshaw had several hired men that he used to make sure none of his slaves escaped, but he also used them to help kidnap free black people. They would smuggle them across the Ohio River to Kentucky. They used a secret wagon entrance on the back of the house to bring in covered wagons carrying the kidnapped blacks. A set of stairs carried these people to the third floor. There they would be whipped, raped and tortured. Some even died from the treatment. When they couldn’t find enough free blacks to kidnap, Crenshaw started a breeding program using a black slave named Uncle Bob as a stud. You see, pregnant women sold for more at the auction. Legend claims that Uncle Bob sired 300 children.
Crenshaw was again charged with kidnapping in 1842 in the case of Maria, his cook, and her seven children. He was found not guilty. But things still started to go south for Crenshaw. People started talking and wondering about his methods. His sawmill mysteriously burned to the ground. And the market for salt changed and it became less profitable. His empire was going to crumble. Several civil court actions were brought against Crenshaw. His business holdings began to drop after salt deposits were discovered in both Virginia and Ohio. these deposits were more profitable than those in southern Illinois. And then there was the slave revolt. Why it took as long as it did, I don't know. Slave owners used to fear to keep their slaves in check and perhaps that is what kept the slaves, who clearly outnumbered the night riders, overseers and other men that Crenshaw employed, from revolting. But revolt they did and in the attack, Crenshaw was hit with an axe and lost one of his legs. It is believed that the revolt was fueled when Crenshaw beat one of the female slaves in the fields. After the attack, most of the slaves were sold off and the salt mine was closed up. Crenshaw sold the Old Slave House during the Civil War and moved to a farmhouse closer to Equality. He not only farmed there, but got into lumber, railroads and banks. He died on December 4, 1871 and was buried in Hickory Hill Cemetery.
In 1906, the Sisk Family bought the Old Slave House. When they entered the home, they saw the awful secret the Crenshaw family had been hiding. The cells and chains were still on the third floor. Soon word got out and people flocked to the home wanting to see the horrors within. By the 1920s, the Sisks had themselves a real tourist destination. People would catch a meal in town and hear from the waitress all about the house on the outskirts of town where actual slavery in Illinois had taken place and that the Reverse Underground Railroad had a home at this place. The Sisks would accommodate all these visitors and give them a tour. Eventually, they figured out that they could make some money with this endeavor and by 1930, they were charging admission. they started advertising that for just a dime, or a nickel if you were a child, you could tour the place where "Slavery Existed in Illinois."
Eventually, George Sisk passed away and his son inherited the property. He continued to run the museum, but in 1996, George Sisk, Jr. retired and closed the museum. In December of 2000, the Sisk family sold the house to the state of Illinois for $500,000. In 2004, the National Park Service named the Crenshaw Mansion as part of the Underground Railroad National Network to Freedom program. It has been estimated that renovations would cost $7 million to get the museum opened up again and the state does not have the funds. So the house sits basically abandoned. But the house is not quiet. This property has enough negative energy absorbed into it to feed the spirits of many angry and mourning spirits. There are said to be a number of ghosts on this property.
The disembodied sounds of moaning and cries of pain have been heard here dating all the way back to when the Crenshaws still lived in the house. When the house was open, as many as 150 people tried their hands at an overnight stay on the third floor. These people were trying to debunk the locallegend that no one could spend the entire night in that space. An exorcist named Hickman Whittington visited the house and planned to put the ghosts of the house to rest. His plan didn't work and a legend claims he died after spending the night in the attic. I could find no proof of this. Two Vietnam veterans, challenged to stay overnight in the attic, ran out of the house screaming in fright. They said they fled because they were surrounded by ghostly shapes and non-human figures. These reports caught the attention of famed paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. They visited the house and in a 1978 tabloid, described their visit to the house as “the most demoniacal place” they had ever visited.
Only one person was able to last the entire evening and that person was David Rodgers, a reporter from a local TV station (WSIL-TV). He did this in 1978 and reported that the attic area was full of strange noises. These noises resembled cries, whimpers and even the rattling of chains. This lined up with reports tourists had been making for years. Rodgers also captures several EVP and claimed that he felt queasy the entire evening. He did not experience some of the more scary elements of hauntings that others have like being brushed by unseen figures or feeling the icy touch of an unseen hand.
The slave quarters seem to emit negative feelings that are felt even by people who are not sensitive to such things. These are feelings of intense fear, sadness and of being watched. Joy Neighbor's reports on her blog A Grave Interest, "I have a friend who went there several times in the 70's. She also mentioned the feelings of fear and despair that seemed to fill the attic. She said on one trip, someone/thing touched her arm and hair - and she was "outta there!"
Another story comes from someone going by the initials TM, "I visited the house in the early 90's not realizing what it was, we had small children and needed a place to pull over and let the kids stretch. When we pulled up to the place we were the only vehicle in the parking lot. I had a brand new video camera and wanted to try it out so I immediately began filming, as I panned upwards and noticed a woman in a black woman in a white dress and bonnet staring out of the 3rd story window, then she rotated 90 degrees in a floating motion and drifted back toward the center of the house. We then walked up to the front door and met with a man and woman who greeted us and informed us there would be a tour starting again in 30 minutes, I asked if we could join the tour that was going on right now? She said the only two people in the house were her and her husband. I said, "How did you get down from the 3rd floor so quickly then? I told her I filmed her as I was walking up the stairs. She looked at me and said, " I don't go up there any more", long story short, I prodded her into telling me why, She said she encountered a little slave girl up there and it was between her and the stairway, thus trapping her until it left. I am glad I filmed the place, it was incredible and had a lot of old guns , knives and history which was explained on the film and to the rest of the tour. There were creepy stories such as the owner of the home in the 1800s was so mean that his little kid was screaming out side and the old man lost his temper and grabbed the kid by the feet and bashed his brains out on the oak tree out front.. Just for crying too loud. I never believed in ghosts before we happened by this place, but believe me, it will make a believer out of you. On the video I still have here you can here my little boy stating every few minutes,, "Dad can we get out of here?" .. The place really gets to you, and after the house tour we went out back and checked out the tool shed which had wares of the era, along with a human skull of one of the slaves. I showed this film to several people and none of them could explain the floating lady at the beginning of it. If it ever opens back up check it out, I know it's still in tact because we were with the kids competing in high school rodeo a couple of years ago, and the kid camped next to our rig currently lives close to there and he mows the property for the guy who takes care of the place, he said even the old cave is still there that leads to the river."
Today, "Do Not Trespass" signs are plastered around the property and on the house. A caretaker lives in the home to keep trespassers out, but otherwise the house just sits. It seems a shame that such an educational piece of property would sit unused. The lessons that could be learned and the truth about a vile part of Illinois history would be out there for all to see. Most people probably are not aware that a reverse Underground Railroad even existed. The Old Slave House is a key part of that history. And the disturbing energy left behind may find comfort in the empathy of visitors. Perhaps if there are unquiet spirits here, they would feel as though they could leave because their story has been told. Are there spirits still hanging out at the Crenshaw House? Is the Old Slave House haunted? That is for you to decide!
Thursday, May 31, 2018
Moment in Oddity - Why Does Dracula Wear a Tuxedo?
Suggested by: Susan Elizabeth Whigham
Have you ever asked yourself, why does Dracula wear a tuxedo? Yep, I know, you ponder these things. Bram Stoker, in his novel Dracula, describes the visual appearance of Dracula's face and such, but not much about his attire, so where did we get this idea that Dracula wears a tuxedo, cape and medallion? Where did we get that he had an aristocratic demeanor? After all, the first movie inspired by the novel was Nosterafu and the vampire in that movie is a hideous creature. In 1924, Raymond Huntley played Dracula on stage in London and this would be the first time that the character was portrayed as charming and wearing a tuxedo. Legend claims that Huntley provided his own costume. When Dracula came to the stage in America in the late 1920s, Bela Lugosi played the title role, and he went with the tuxedo and well-coifed hair as well, adding the cape. When the stage play was produced by Universal as a movie starring Lugosi, the image of the Halloween Dracula was cemented. The medallion that is part of the costume was inspired by Lugosi who wore the ornamental medal on his chest and some believe that it was his own personal possession. The origins of the medallion are mysterious and it only appears in two scenes. Lugosi was allegedly buried with one version of the medal and as we know, he wore his Dracula cape as well and that certainly is odd!
This Month in History - The Confederates Destroy the Merrimac to Prevent its Capture
In the month of May, on the 9th, in 1862, to prevent its capture by Union forces, the Confederate Ironclad Merrimac was destroyed by the Confederate Navy. Towards the beginning of the Civil War, the Confederates seized the Merrimac from the Union shipyard in Virginia. They transformed the ship into an ironclad so strong that it could not be harmed by cannon balls. The Confederates quickly used the Merrimac to sink two Union ships, the Cumberland and Congress. The Union feared this ship and knew they had to build something formidable before the Merrimac could destroy more of their navy. Within 100 days, the Monitor was built. This ship had been built in secret and was described as a "cheese box on a raft." It was made from iron and had a revolving turret with two big guns inside it. In March, the Merrimac and the small Union Ironclad Monitor met and came to a draw. This was history's first duel between ironclad warships. The ships met again in April, but did not engage. Then in May, the Confederates had to evacuate Norfolk and they destroyed the Merrimac. The Monitor would later be lost during a gale off Cape Hatteras. The encounters of these two ironclads changed Naval warfare forever, making wooden ships obsolete.
Haunted Islands of Maine (Suggested by listener Katrina Ray-Saulis)
Based on its location, Maine has been a prime spot for explorers. There are 4600 islands off the coast of Maine and each of these islands has its own unique history. Some of that history is tragic and it is these grievous stories that seem to have led to some haunting experiences. Outer Heron Island reportedly has buried treasure, a haunted cave and apparitions on the beach. There is Jewell Island with its residual ghost soldiers and stories of buried treasure. Boon Island has its very own haunted lighthouse. Long Island has its phantom ghost ship and crew. And listener Katrina Ray-Saulis joins me to share a mostly unknown history about Malaga Island that highlights the racism that led to some cruel treatment and ultimately some haunting activity. Join me as we explore the Haunted Islands of Maine!
No one is sure how Maine came to have that name. Native Americans were the first to brave the cold and harsh terrain of Maine. They used birch bark canoes to explore the Maine coast. They were hunter and gatherers, but eventually began growing corn and beans in the summer. Leif Erikson was the first European to explore the coasts of Maine as early as 1003. John Cabot was a Venetian explorer and he claimed the New England area for Britain in 1498. In 1622, Sir Fernando Gorges and John Mason received a royal grant for all the land between the Merrimac and Kennebec rivers and then in 1639, Gorges was granted exclusive rights to Maine by another English King. Eventually though, the Massachusetts Bay Colony claimed jurisdiction over Maine in 1647 and purchased proprietary rights from Gorges’ heirs in 1677. Several French and Indian Wars took place on Maine until the Treaty of Paris in 1763, in which France surrendered all claims in North America. Maine developed a fishing, shipbuilding and lumber industry in the ensuing years. Massachusetts maintained control of Maine, which tried voting for separation and statehood several times, but low voter turnout prevented that from happening. The tide turned during the War of 1812 though when Massachusetts provided little support to Maine. Maine achieved statehood on March 15, 1820.
Outer Heron Island
Outer Heron Island lies a few miles offshore from Boothbay Harbor. There are stories of a buried pirate treasure here near a cave. Paranormal activity is reported at this cave and some claim that the cave is a power point on the island. Photographs have revealed several weird anomalies there with what appear to be multiple spirits. In one picture, there appears to be a ghostly pirate peeking out from behind a treasure hunter being photographed in front of the cave. There is a legend of a lost grave here and some claim the skeleton in the grave wears an emerald seal ring given to Sir Francis Drake by Queen Elizabeth I. The claim is that this is the body of Drake's great grandson, who died on a trip to Maine. One man claims that he saw a gathering of ghosts on a beach one night. There was a bonfire as well. He did not know that he was witnessing a ghostly scene until he snuck up on the group and when he jumped into the open, the fire was gone and no one was on the beach.
Jewell Island is eight miles from the city of Portland, Maine and the outermost island. It is named for George Jewell who bought the island in 1637. He ended up drowning in Boston Harbor after a drunken night and didn't get to enjoy his island for long. Jewell Island eventually became a strategic center during World War II and the military built Battery 202 there. Three years after V-day, Battery 202 was abandoned by the soldiers physically, but it seems as though some essence has remained behind. A woman named Margaret visited the abandoned Battery 202 when she was a young girl. She happened upon a doorway that was the entrance to the tunnel that led to the gunnery. She could hear men speaking inside the tunnel. She called out and the voices stopped. They started up again a moment later. She entered the tunnel, but found nobody.
There is a legend that a gold treasure had been buried on Jewell Island. A ship sailing from Bermuda shipwrecked near the island and survivors saved the gold and buried it on the island. They never retrieved it. At least, that is one of the stories told. Another is connected to the pirate Anne Bonny. There is a claim that she and seven men buried a treasure and then she killed all the men so that only she knew the location. And then there are the rumors that Captain Kidd sailed along the coast here and buried some of his treasure there. There are tales of ghosts connected to these treasures roaming the beaches. Perhaps looking for their treasures.
Boon Island is only 400 square yards, located six miles from York, Maine and was given its name by a group of sailors that were shipwrecked on the island in 1682. Boon means lucky place and they felt it was lucky that the island was there and that a bonfire they built brought them rescue. Boon may not really be such a lucky island. A phantom fire is seen blazing on the island on stormy nights. It leaves no burn marks and when people seek it out, it disappears when they get too close. The Native Americans who had lived here would light bonfires for sacred offerings on Mount Agamenticus.
Another shipwreck here was of the Nottingham Galley in 1710. The sailors managed to build a bridge to the island with the ship's foremast and they were relieved to be saved by the island. Until they realized they had no food, fresh water or way to build a fire. As is the case with so many of these castaway or stranded stories, cannibalism is about to enter the picture. There was Captain John Deane and thirteen of his crew. The first to go was the cook. But he was not eaten as the men turned to raw mussels and seagulls for food. But before long, they were starving. And this was winter, in Maine with no fire. Frostbite was causing fingers and toes to be lost. When the carpenter died, they butchered his body and lived off it for the next two weeks until they were rescued on January 2, 1711. They had survived twenty-three days on the island. The spirits of the cook and carpenter are said to still be on the island. Their deep moans are heard on the wind and disembodied footsteps are heard on the ground when no one is nearby. Workers on the island have long reported feeling as though they are being watched when they worked. Full-bodied apparitions and emaciated figures wearing ragged clothes have appeared to keepers as well. As though the guilt of being cannibals has brought back the spirits of the survivors.
Obviously, the seas around the island are treacherous and a lighthouse was needed, so the station was established in 1799 and the original lighthouse was built in 1811. That was authorized by President James Madison during the War of 1812. The one that stands today was built in 1855. The lighthouse was made from granite and rises 133 feet tall, making it New England's tallest lighthouse. Keepers have experienced paranormal phenomenon. One of them owned a Labrador retriever and that dog would snarl and snap and something unseen and even chased something that the keeper could not see. And we have a woman in white here. She is seen at dusk or dawn on the rocks at the waters edge. No one knows who she is or why she is here.
This ghost could possibly belong to Katherine Brights who was the wife of lighthouse keeper Luke Brights. He died one night while going out to save their boat during a violent storm. He tied himself to the lighthouse with a rope, but he was soon battered on the rocks. Katherine dragged his body to shore and then into the lighthouse. She maintained the light for five days with his body decaying near the stairs. Then the light went out. A group came to see what happened and they found Katherine stark raving mad. She died a few weeks later later in the hospital. It is thought that her spirit returned to Boon Island. Fisherman hear her cries and see her figure on the rocks. So sounds like she could be the woman in white here. One night, a keeper was unable to return to the island to light the light, but it came on by itself and it was attributed to Katherine.
The light was automated in 1980 and maintained by the Coast Guard. The island was put up for auction and is now privately owned, so no one can visit it or tour the lighthouse.
Long Island is off of Portland, Maine and actually seceded from the city in 1993. As is the case with most of the islands, Native Americans were the first residents, but left when Europeans arrived in the 17th century. The first to build a house here was Col. Ezekiel Cushing. He bought the island in 1732. and is credited with being the first European to settle and build a house on the island. He willed the island to his nine children when he died in 1765. Farmers and fishermen came soon thereafter. Soon after, other settlers arrived to make a livelihood out of farming, fishing, and catching lobsters. In the late 1800s, the island turned to tourism and the Granite Spring Hotel and Casino was built. People arrived on steamboats and paraded with their parasols on the boardwalk until a fire right before World War I burned it all to the ground. During World War II, Casco Bay became United States Navy base Sail. Tourism started up again and it is still a popular place in the summer for visits.
One ghost story told about this island is about an experience a little girl named Isabel had one day on her way home from school. The crew from the Sea Maiden was thought to have been shipwrecked at sea, but she saw the entire crew walking up the wharf from the trip. They looked to be carrying things they had brought back from their voyage to foreign lands. She noticed that even though they should have been happy and cavorting, they were very grim and took no notice of her or any of their surroundings. She hurried home to tell her family that the Sea Maiden had made it to port. Her family went to a neighbors to tell them the good news and found that no one had seen or heard from the crew and one of the neighbors was the family of the first mate. They headed down to the wharf and saw that there was no ship there. The next day, the village learned that the Sea Maiden had been shipwrecked and the whole crew had perished.
Listener Katrina Ray-Saulis joins me to discuss the history and possible hauntings in connection to malaga Island. This island has a tragic history that many are reluctant to talk about. Connected to this are the graves that were moved from Malaga Island to the Maine School for the Feeble-Minded, which is today Pineland Farms, a 5,000 acre working farm. Maine Ghost Hunters did an informal investigation of the cemetery there and reported, "While on location TonyL claims to have had an experience we tried to get on digital camera and on tape but couldn’t because the battery to my video camera was sucked dry, and all of the photos we took after TonyL announced that the “experience” was taking place came out purple and blurry. My camera batteries for this digital camera also went from “full” to “dying” in an extremely short period of time. We are planning a return nighttime trip with “permission” in hand by the proper authorities in the next 2 months."
A psychic named Kelly Spurlock was visiting the island and she saw a group of ghostly African American women dressed in white dresses and white head cloths. There were twelve of them and they ranged in age from twelve to around eighteen. They faded into the air as Spurlock's boat landed. She noted that they seemed to be an intelligent haunting as they made eye contact with her and definitely saw her. They gave off a sense of foreboding. The ghost of a woman named Beth McKinney is said to roam the northwest part of the island near an old well. Her name has been picked up on the Ghost Radar app and the strong smell of perfume has been detected. The well is at the site of the former home of the McKinney family. Beth died in the home and was buried in the cemetery there. Until she was dug up. Strange images have been caught on film, usually featuring a white billowing shape or strands of light orbs with faces. Batteries drain and camera shutters freeze up.
The islands of Maine are each different with their own unique history. And they each have their own individual ghosts stories. Are any of these stories true? Are these islands haunted? That is for you to decide!
Katrina's book: https://www.amazon.com/River-Katrina-Ray-Saulis/dp/1943490120
Marcus LiBrizzi book: Haunted Islands in the Gulf of Maine
Thursday, May 24, 2018
Moment in Oddity - The Mars' Cursed Sunken Treasure in Baltic Sea
Suggested by: Markus Watt
The pride of Sweden's 16th century navy was a warship called Mars. Fittingly, it was named for the Roman god of war. It was equipped with 107 guns and measured 48 meters, which made it the perfect flagship for the Swedish fleet and it lead it into the Northern Seven Years' War. In 1564, during the battle of Öland in the Baltic Sea, the Mars caught fire and it sunk beneath the sea, consigning 800 to 900 Swedish and German sailors and a fortune in gold and silver coins to the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Some believe that the ship was doomed from the start by a curse. King Erik XIV had an ego and he enraged the Catholic Church when he confiscated church bells to melt down and make cannons for the Mars. The church felt the ship was too big and too powerful and some wonder if it didn't do something to ensure its fiery fate. Other stories persist in telling stories of ghosts that rise up from the ship to conceal its location. And that would nearly seem true as it took until very recently for archeologists and treasure hunters to find the Mars. The most unusual thing though is that the Mars was found nearly fully preserved, despite being on the bottom of the sea for hundreds of years and that, certainly is odd!
This Month in History - Hoover's Claim About Black Tuesday
In the month of May, on the 2nd, in 1930, President Herbert Hoover made the idiotic claim that the stock market crash was a temporary setback. On October 29, 1929, Black Tuesday hit Wall Street with a catastrophic crash of the Stock Market. Investors traded 16 million shares on the New York Stock Exchange in a single day and billions of dollars were lost. Very wealthy people lost everything and many of them took their own lives in their desperation. Despite the fact that this threw the industrialized world into a downward spiral, President Hoover made this statement, "While the crash only took place six months ago, I am convinced we have now passed the worst and with continued unity of effort we shall rapidly recover. There is one certainty of the future of a people of the resources, intelligence and character of the people of the United States-that is prosperity." As history would reveal, the Great Depression ensued as the longest-lasting economic downturn in the history of the Western industrialized world up to that time lasting ten years.
The Princess Theater in Melbourne
(Suggested by listener Rick Kennett)
Melbourne is the capital of Victoria and home to close to 4 million people. This city is a center of diversity and for the history of Australia it is a symbol of the independent spirit. Victoria and Melbourne were established as autonomous colonies, working outside of government regulation and permissions. This attracted men with that same spirit. One of them would re-purpose an amphitheater as The Princess Theater. This is a theater with roots running as far back as the founding of Melbourne and with that kind of history, one just knows this theater is ripe for hauntings. And there does seem to be some ghostly activity going on here. Join me as I share the history and hauntings of Melbourne's Princess Theater!
The Kulin Nation used to live on the land that is now the city of Melbourne. That nation is made up of five separate aboriginal language groups: Boonwurrung (Boon-wur-rung), Dja Dja Wurrung (Jar-Jar-Wur-rung), Taungurung (Tung-ger-rung), Wathaurung (Wath-er-rung) and Woiwurrung (Woy-wur-rung.) The Kulin are represented by the Bunji, which is the wedge-tailed eagle and symbolizes the creation spirit and the Waa, which is the crow and symbolizes the protector of the waterways. *Fun Fact: There are 1500 Kulin archaeological sites with around 200 of them within the Melbourne metropolitan area itself.*
The British were the first to occupy Victoria and their original reason for this was out of fear of possible French settlement. British Lieutenant David Collins brought a party of convicts and free settlers to Port Phillip in October 1803 and established a small colony. Through the early 1800s, the area became popular with whalers and sealers. Initially, settlers from Tasmania filtered into the area and began squatting on the land. When the government tried to remove them, they resisted. John Batman was an Australian entrepreneur and explorer and he was one of the first white men to live in Melbourne. He came to Port Phillip Bay in May 1835 and 'paid' the local Aboriginal people in blankets and trinkets for about 243,000 acres of land near the Yarra River. This would become the township of Melbourne by 1837 and Captain William Lonsdale was named magistrate. New South Wales was frustrated at the lack of compliance from the autonomous Victoria and they were forced to recognize it as a successful colony. This lead to the Port Phillip District gaining independence from New South Wales in 1850 and they established a separate police force, a customs office and a separate Lands Office. Things really boomed for Melbourne after that as the gold rush hit.
In November 1851, alluvial gold was discovered north of Melbourne at Clunes, Anderson's Creek, Buninyong, Ballarat, Mount Alexander and Bendigo. Ships from all over the world brought miners into the town of Melbourne. The colony swelled from a population of 80,000 to 300,000. By 1856, more than 86 million grams of gold were mined, which equalled around $100 million. This eventually made Melbourne Australia's major financial centre and Victoria became an extremely wealthy colony. The good times were not always rolling though as the town was hit with depressions in both the 1890s and 1930s. After World War II, many migrants from Europe arrived and today the city is considered a culturally diverse city. One of the historical sites in this town is The Princess Theater.
The Princess Theater stands in the footprint of a previous theater. That first theater dates back almost to the founding of Melbourne and was an equestrian amphitheater name the Astley Ampitheater after the Astley Royal Ampitheater in London. This was built by Tom Moore during the Gold Rush. In 1857, that amphitheater was remodeled into a theater and opera house by George Coppin. Coppin had spent his entire life on the stage, making his first appearance as an infant. At the age of seven, he and his sister had their own act. He was born in England, but set his sights on Australia in 1842. Actually, that's not entirely honest. A coin set his sights on Australia. If it had been tails, he would have been headed to America. He started in Sydney working in theaters and bought a hotel. He moved on to Melbourne eventually and started converting buildings into theaters. He also started importing luxuries that included ice, deer and live turtles. But it was theater that he really made his mark on Australia. He only owned the newly remodeled amphitheater for a short period of time and the theater changed hands almost every year. Due to the constant change in ownership, the building deteriorated and was basically taken down to a shell and rebuilt from scratch in 1865. The theater was successful again after that, but by January 3, 1885, it was closed after falling into disrepair once again.
Three of Australia’s most influential theatre practitioners, JC Williamson, George Musgrove and Arthur Garner, formed The Triumvirate and they bought what was left of the theater, demolished it and rebuilt the theater that stands today at a cost of £50,000. The architect was Willaim Pitt. Construction took nine months and the new Princess theater opened on December 18th, 1886. The theater was built in the Second Empire style. The Second Empire refers to elements from the Second French Empire. This can be seen in the theaters three four-sided gambrel-style mansard hip roofs with dormer windows on each side. Each of these roofs also has its own crown made with cast iron filigree. The middle section of the exterior features two sections of exquisite stained glass. These were added in 1901 to outdoor terraces to create a Wintergarden Bar. The front foyer and stairs were made from marble and were said to be equal to that found in the Paris Opera, the Frankfurt Stadt and the Grand in Bordeaux. The stage lighting was state-of-the-art. The most unique thing about the theater was the retractable roof. The first performance was of The Mikado.
Ownership changed again in 1910 and the poor theater found itself in the hands of several owners again. In 1915, theatrical producer Ben Fuller took control and partnered with American stage actor and dancer Hugh J. Ward. Several years later, they hired architect Henry Eli White to extensively renovate the auditorium and foyers and the grand copper awning was added at that time. The theatre reopened on December 26, 1922 with a performance of The O'Brien Girl. In 1933, Efftee Films purchased the theater and the initials FT were carved over the proscenium arch for F. W.Thring, the theater entrepreneur. He made the Princess Theater the first home of his radio station 3XY. When he died, Ben Fuller took over the lease once again and eventually purchased the theater with Garnett Carroll. From 1942 to 1947, the Princess ran exclusively as a cinema, due to the scarcities of World War II. Fuller died in 1952 and Carroll assumed full control bringing an array of opera, ballet, musical comedy and drama to the stage. His big moment was hosting the National Theatre Movement’s gala performance of The Tales of Hoffmann for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. Carroll was fond of American musicals and produced many of them including, Kismet (1954), The Sound of Music (1960), The King and I (1960) and Carousel (1964).
Garnett Carroll died in 1964 and ownership of the Princess passed to his son, John Carroll. He eventually leased the theater to the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust. In 1973, the theater was listed by the National trust. David Marriner purchased the theater in 1986 and refurbished it back to its 1922 state, minus the old technical stuff. 2,000 paint samples were microscopically analyzed to ensure an accurate reproduction. Painters were trained on-site in the special techniques used in 1922 like colour glazing, which is the colors being blended from a darker hue to a lighter range near the central sunburst. Original light fixtures were found and replicated. The Princess reopend yet again and this time it was the musical Les Misérables, followed by The Phantom of the Opera. That production of Phantom would become the longest running show ever staged in Victoria. Today, the Princess Theatre is known as the home of musical theatre in Australia. And on the topic of phantom's, the Princess has its own resident ghost it would seem.
Frederick Baker, known to the world as Federici, was an Italian-born opera singer who performed during the late 1800s. He was world renowned for his work in the bass-baritone roles of the Savoy Operas written by Gilbert and Sullivan. His career started in London in 1872 when he was 21 and he eventually originated the role of the Pirate King in Pirates of Penzance. In 1887, Federici traveled to Australia with his wife and kids and joined J. C. Williamson's company. This brought him to the stage at the princess Theater. He played Florian in the first production in Australia of Princess Ida. Other roles in Australia included the Mikado, the Pirate King, Dick Deadeye, Colonel Calverley and Strephon. His final role would be at the Princess Theater in 1888 and he played the role of Mephistopheles in Faust. Eerily, as he was traveling down a trap door through what looked like smoke and flame to portray his character's plunge into Hell, he suffered a deadly heart attack.
Even though the actor's body was removed from the theater, his spirit has not left. There are many stories of people experiencing the ghost of Federici. Stories come from past and present staff and theater patrons. The first story is about the night he died. Many of the cast had no idea that he had passed away until after the final curtain call. When they were told, they were shocked because they all swore that he was on stage with them taking that final curtain call. Many people have seen what they describe as unexplained balls of fluorescent light that hover about the stage. Equipment malfunctions during performances. Unexplained noises are heard coming from within the wings and corridors. More harrowing are the bizarre accidents that have taken place.
“Fred is very much a benevolent presence, nothing nasty ever happens. He’s more of a friendly poltergeist,” says Jesse Cain, the theater's business development manager. When a documentary was made nearly 80 years later, by Kennedy Miller in the early 1970s, a photograph of the film set revealed an ashen-faced, partly transparent observer. Nobody had seen anyone matching that person on the set that day. Ernest St Clair took on the role of Mephistopheles after Federici's death and he swore that every time he stepped forward to take his bow, invisible hands pushed him backwards. During a late night rehearsal, a staff member saw a figure sitting in the dress circle and asked his staff who had let a visitor in. The employees said they hadn't let anybody in and a search was called for to find the stranger. He was never found.
Many performers have seen the full-bodied apparition of Federici walking in the halls. His ghost is most often seen in the dress circle. (For those who don't know, the dress circle is the second level of seating or first few rows of the first balcony.) He is seen dressed in evening attire complete with cloak and top-hat. His specter seems to be scrutinizing the stage performances. His apparition is seen sitting in a seat also and has stayed so long that people can make out the finer details. When his spirit is seen on an opening night, it is thought to be good luck for the run of the production. The theater staff always ensure a vacant seat within the dress circle on opening nights to better ensure that his spirit makes its appearance.
An article about the Haunted Melbourne Ghost Tour says, "Early theater owners spotted a way to get a bit of good publicity for the theater and offered up 100 pounds to any member of the public prepared to spend a night alone in the theater. There is no record of anyone ever taking up their challenge. In the very early 1900's a new fire alarm system was placed in the theater. The resident fireman was required to punch a time clock every hour, triggering a light on a switchboard at a nearby fire station. If he failed to clock in, an alarm was raised and a brigade dispatched to the theater. One particular night during a heat wave no message came through on the hour and within minutes the brigade was dispatched. On reaching the theater the firemen, finding no sign of a fire, discovered their colleague huddled in a corner terrified beyond belief. He later claimed that he had opened the sliding section of the roof to let the heat out and some air in. As the panels opened, bright moonlight came into the auditorium revealing a figure standing, statue-like, on center stage. He described this figure as a tall, well-built man with distinguished features, dressed in evening clothes with a long cloak and a top-hat. The best known sighting of the ghost occurred in 1917. The theater's wardrobe mistress was working back late to finish costumes for an upcoming production. At approximately 2.30am a fireman knocked gently on her workroom door and stuck his head inside and asked her if she'd like to see a ghost. The skeptical woman's curiosity got the better of her and she went with him. They went up some side stairs to a landing beside the dress circle. The fireman pointed to Federici who was sitting in the middle of the second row of the dress circle. He was staring down at the empty stage as the fireman and the wardrobe mistress looked on. They eventually left the ghost and returned back to their work quite amazed at what they'd seen. A couple of years later another fireman had an experience. He saw the ghost standing in the same spot on two separate occasions."
The Princess Theater was unique and innovative in its day with a retractable roof. The theater faced many years of disrepair and neglect and then renovation. This alone with the emotions connected to acting usually ensure that a theater is going to have ghostly activity. Throw in the death of an actor and you might just have yourself a haunted theater. is Melbourne's Princess theater haunted? That is for you to decide!
Thursday, May 17, 2018
Moment in Oddity - Appenino Sculpture
The Appenine Colossus is found near a pond at Villa di Pratolino in Florence, Italy and seems to be emerging from the mountainous rockwork. The Villa di Pratolino was a Renaissance villa built by the Grand Duke of Tuscany for his Venetian mistress, Bianca Capello. The villa was mostly demolished in 1820 and what is left is part of Villa Demidoff. The sculpture, known as Appenino, is like a half-man, half-mountain squatting over a snake from which water flows, with his head bent as though he is looking down at the snake. His left hand rests upon it. Appenino was created by Flemish sculptor Giambologna in 1579-80. He created works in the Mannerist style, which exaggerates balance and proportion. While the work is amazing in and of itself, what really makes it wondrously unique is that it has several hidden caves inside. These caves are decorated with frescoes and a small marble statue of “Venerina” is inside one of the caves. One of the really bizarre features was reputedly a space in his head that had a fireplace which, when lit, would blow smoke out of his nostrils, and that, certainly is odd!
This Month in History - Pop-up Toaster Invented
In the month of May, on the 29th, in 1919, the pop-up toaster received its patent. Humans have been eating bread for over 6,000 years and for most of that time, bread has been toasted to preserve it and to make it tastier. Before the electric toaster was invented, people used fire to toast bread. Charles P. Strite was a master mechanic in a plant in Stillwater, Minnesota and he was becoming increasingly frustrated with the burnt toast that was served in the company cafeteria. The cafeteria staffing was not adequate enough to keep a continuous eye on the toast. So Strite decided to invent a toaster that did not need supervision. He incorporated springs and a variable timer into his design and this created the first pop-up toaster. He figured that the device would only be sold to the restaurant trade, but as we all know, nearly every home has a pop-up toaster today.
Skagway, Alaska is a popular destination for cruise ships hosting Alaskan cruises and it was one of the settings for Jack London's "Call of the Wild." And Skagway does have a wild history due to its location during the Klondike Gold Rush. The Red Onion Saloon not only provided a place for prospectors to get a drink, it also was a high class brothel. Today, the saloon is a restaurant and bar that serves up more than just food and drinks, it serves up some haunting experiences. The Golden North Hotel dates back to the gold rush as well and plays host to two apparitions. There are buildings for fraternal organizations and government and a couple of houses that also play host to spirits. Join me as I share the history and hauntings of Skagway, Alaska!
The word Skagway is the nickname of Kanagoo. Kanagoo was the mythical woman who transformed herself into stone at Skagway Bay. She is the cause of the strong winds on the bay. The people who lived here originally were the Tlingit People and they named a mountain now known today as Face Mountain a name that translates to Kanagoo's image. And it does look as though the profile of someone is looking up from the top of the mountain. The Tlingit were hunters and fishermen. The tribe still exists today, but much of their heritage was lost when Russian missionaries brought Russian orthodoxy to the area. The indigenous people lost their faith in their own medicine men and ways when small pox devastated them.
Very few white men came into the rugged area. A former steamboat captain named William "Billy" Moore conducted surveys over the Coast mountains because he believed he would find gold through there. Similar passes in South America and British Columbia had revealed that they had gold, so his belief was backed up by facts. He claimed an area of land measuring 160 acres with his son Ben in 1887 and this was near the mouth of the Skagway River. After staking their claim, they built a sawmill, wharf and log cabin. Billy just knew that prospectors were going to be flocking to the area and he was going to be prepared. Billy only had to wait about ten years before the Klondike Gold Rush started. In 1896, gold was found in the Klondike region of Canada's Yukon Territory. Soon, Skagway was flooding with prospectors. This would be the entryway into a 500-mile journey to the gold fields in Canada. This would seem like a dream for Billy as the population swelled to 30,000. But his lot was jumped and his land was stolen.
The official resident count was marked at 10,000 and this made Skagway the largest city in Alaska. Skagway grew into a modern city with fine hotels, electric lights, water works, a telephone system, street grading, a city hall, jail and residential districts. The city's government stepped in to regulate gambling and saloons. One of those saloons still stands today: The Red Onion Saloon. The Red Onion opened for business in 1898 when the Klondike Gold Rush was at its height. The building was constructed from planks cut by Billy Moore. As was the case with so many drinking establishments of this time, the main form of entertainment hosted at the saloon was the bordello. And this was not just any bordello. The Red Onion was the most exclusive bordello in town. Alcohol was served on the first floor, with the brothel being on the second floor. The business only ran for two years as the gold rush waned and prospectors moved on to other areas.
After the Red Onion shut down, it served a number of other purposes. During World War II the building was used as a U.S. Army barracks to board soldiers. It later served as a union hall, laundry, bakery, television station and gift shop. The building was bought by Jan Wrentmore in 1980 and she turned it into a restaurant and bar that hosts a museum dedicated to the prostitution past. There is more than just a bordello museum hosted here though. The saloon is reputedly haunted and has such a reputation that many paranormal investigators have come to visit and investigate and the location was featured on the TV show "Alaska Haunting" in October of 2015. There is more than one ghost haunting the building.
Investigators have reported picking up EVP. Guests and employees have felt cold spots and seen apparitions. Glasses have moved around on the bar. Disembodied footsteps are heard up on the second floor. When people go to see who is wandering around up there they find nobody. Several times though they would "find" something else and that would be the scent of perfume. One time, the police were called because the disturbance upstairs was so loud. The police showed up and as they approached the stairs, they claimed they saw what was a shadow figure running down the hall and into a room that had belonged to the former madame. They found no one in the room. A musician who played in the saloon once lived on the second floor and one night he awoke to see a shimmering light in his room and he felt a very strange sensation. One of the local town leaders was upstairs once and claimed to feel a strong presence that felt hostile.
One of the most well known spirits in the Red Onion Saloon is that of a former prostitute named Lydia. Lydia likes to water the plants apparently. When the owner goes around to water the plants, she sometimes finds the soil to be wet. There are no plants in the madam's room and yet an apparition has been seen walking around as if it is watering plants. No one knows why Lydia is here because there is no record of a Lydia dying in the bordello. But she is hostile towards men, so maybe something did happen to her.
One employee said, "I have worked here 13 years and can tell you that there is SOMETHING here. We’ve had employees see her, have witnessed things flying off the back bar, have customers see her… All sorts of events. It’s definitely more ‘active’ in Spring and when the building is quiet. Or at least, we notice it then."
Another business that opened in Skagway was The Golden North Hotel. The Golden North Hotel was built at the height of the Klondike Gold Rush in 1898. It is three-stories, painted white and has a gold painted cupola. The hotel closed in 2002 to guests. The building is currently occupied by Frontier Excursions & Adventures. In its heyday, around 1,000 prospectors would pass through the doors every week. One of those prospectors was named Klondike Ike and he arrived in Skagway with his fiancé Mary. The couple rented Room 23 at the hotel. Ike left Mary there to make his fortune in the gold fields. Mary died while Ike was away. Some say she had been ill with pneumonia, others say she grew depressed waiting for Ike and starved herself and still others say she died of a broken heart. She was found wearing the wedding dress she had bought for her future nuptials.
Mary's spirit is believed to still be in the building to this day. She has been nicknamed "Scary Mary" by those that have experienced her. Guests who stay in Room 23 have occasionally woken up because they were feeling as though they were being choked. Their lungs feel tight, almost as though they were sick with pneumonia. Other guests have reported seeing the apparition of a woman roaming the halls or watching out a window. The owner and one of the maids were together when they saw Mary standing by the window in Room 23. Blasts of cold air are felt as though something very cold has walked by and mysterious noises have been heard. Mary also seems to have made an appearance in a photograph when a singer from Juneau had his girlfriend take his picture while standing in the then empty third floor Hall. After the picture was developed, they saw that a woman was standing next to him who was clearly not there when the picture was taken.
There may be another ghost here as well that reputedly haunts Room 14. A mysterious light has been seen by both guests and staff in that room. It has a sparkle quality to it and others claim that it is a twinkling orb. No one knows exactly why it would be in this room, but it moves around and seems to be non-threatening. Some hotel guests have felt really sick when staying in Room 14. It gets so bad that some have nearly passed out. They claim to see a grayish light manifest at the same time that they are feeling ill. As it fades away, they start to feel better. Some ghost hunters claimed that they found a dark ring around the tub the morning following their overnight stay. It was as though someone had taken a bath during the night, but none of them had. And they were sure that the tub was clean when they checked in.
The Eagles fraternity first met in Skagway in 1899. They moved into the Eagles Hall in 1916. The hall was formed by bringing together two old hotels that were built in the 1890s. The Mondamin Hotel was moved here in 1916 and the Pacific Hotel was added to the rear in 1920. The building is two stories and painted maroon with white trim. During the summers, the hall hosts a popular show called Days of '98 Show. This is Alaska's longest running theater production and dates back to 1927. The show was originally started as a fundraiser for the hockey club and is a variety show. The second floor seems to be host to several friendly ghosts. They manifest as cold spots and people have seen apparitions throughout the second floor.
The Mulvihill House was built in 1904 for W.H. Case who was a partner in the well-known photographic firm of Case and Draper. The house is named for a man who lived in it from 1914 to 1949, White Pass and Yukon Railroad dispatcher Mul Mulvihill. The house is Victorian in style. He died in 1949, but his spirit is still in the house. He reputedly taps out messages on a phantom telegraph, opens and closes doors and walks throughout the home stomping around in what sounds like heavy work boots. Today, the Mulvihill House is a private residence. Not sure if the current owners have experienced the haunting activity.
The City Municipal Building was built in 1899. This was the first territorial court in Alaska, but today it serves as Skagway’s city hall and department of tourism. There is a museum on the second floor. There are reports of strange noises coming from this floor and the source has never been discovered.
The White House is a building on the edge of town that is fire damaged and abandoned. It was originally built to be a private home, but during World War II it became a hospital. Later, the house was used as a small hotel, then a day-care center and then a home for families once again.People who have stayed or lived in the house have reported supernatural activity. A commercial fisherman was staying there with his family and he and his wife awoke one night to see a the apparition of a woman standing at the foot of their bed. They also experienced their toddler daughter chatting away with someone they could not see in the kitchen. They occasionally saw this apparition in the kitchen and she matched the description of a woman who used to run the day-care center.
There's no hauntings going on at this location that I know of, but it is one of the most unique buildings in the city and that is the Arctic Brotherhood Hall. It is said that this is the most photographed building in Alaska. The building was constructed in 1899 as headquarters for arctic brotherhood Camp Skagway No. 1. The facade is made up of more than 8,800 pieces of driftwood collected from local tidal flats. Sticks have been shaped into a mosaic of letters, a gold pan and square patterns. The Trail of '98 Museum is inside and features Native artifacts and relics of the gold rush, including gambling paraphernalia from the old Board of Trade Saloon.
*Rabbit Hole: Soapy Smith
I first heard of Soapy Smith in Colorado. Doing research for this episode, I read that Soapy had ended up in Skagway and it is here that he died and was buried in the City Cemetery. He was quite the character and I thought you would enjoy hearing about this infamous con man. Soapy had been born into a rich plantation family in 1860, but as was the case for so many southern families, the Civil War changed their fortunes. His family relocated to Texas and it was here that he began his career as a bunko artist. He gathered together some other rogues to help him out with his scams. They used the typical shell games, three card Monte and other little cons. Soon Soapy was known as the “King of the Frontier Con Men.” He moved on to bigger games and created his “Prize Package Soap Sell.” Soapy would set up a suitcase on a stand on a busy street corner. Inside the suitcase were piles of ordinary soap wrapped in plain paper. he made a big production of wrapping the soap in money from one dollar up to a hundred, then he would rewrap the bar in plain paper. He would then sell the soap $1-5 per bar. A shill in the crowd would buy a bar, unwrap it and find the hundred dollar bill. Of course the crowds of people would quickly buy some bars. Most would find only a bar of soap that cost Soapy 5 cents. He did this for two decades and it earned him his "Soapy" nickname.
In Denver, he added stock exchange swindles to his repettoire. Soapy had such a large group of men running his cons that he claimed to be the boss of Denver’s underworld crime empire. He opened the Tivoli Saloon and Gambling Hall in Denver. *Fun Fact: Bat Masterson worked as a dealer at the Tivoli for a time.* Sopay joined forces with Old Man Taylor in Leadville and the two operated a successful shell game upon the many unsuspecting miners. People in Denver were trying to shut down gambling and so Soapy took his operation to Creede, Colorado, another mining town in the mountains. He opened a club were he displayed a petrified man for the price of 10¢. He called the “petrified man,” “McGinty” and this was also a hoax, as it was actually nothing more than cement over skeletal remains. The oddity brought in lots of customers though. The club ran crooked card games and swindled many gamblers.
Soapy returned to Denver and eventually became a wanted man and so he moved further west until the Yukon Gold Rush grabbed his attention in 1897. He made his way to Skagway. He soon claimed to be the boss of Skagway. He opened a saloon called Jeff Smith’s Parlor and ran his cons out of there. Soon the people of Skagway were tired of Soapy and his ways. a vigilante group tried to force Soapy and his gang out but he claimed to have a bigger force of 300 men and the vigilante group backed down. The group would return in 1898 and they held a meeting to discuss what to do with Soapy. He showed up with a Winchester rifle over his shoulder. he argued with a guard at the door and a gunfight erupted. When the smoke cleared both Soapy and the guard lay dead. Soapy’s last words were reportedly: “My God, don’t shoot!” Soapy Smith was buried just outside the city cemetery. His grave and his saloon, which has since been moved from its original location, can still be seen in Skagway.
The city of Skagway looks much like it did over 100 years ago with wooden boardwalks and buildings dating back to the late 1800s. Several of these buildings seem to be housing an energy left over from the past. Is Skagway one of the most haunted cities in Alaska? Are these buildings haunted? That is for you to decide!
Thursday, May 10, 2018
Moment in Oddity - The Center of the Universe in Tulsa
Suggested by: April Barber
You probably were unaware that the “Center of the Universe” is located in of all places, Tulsa, Oklahoma. One just follows the brick path that leads to the railroad tracks at the corner of W. Archer St. and N. Boston Ave just northwest of the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. There one finds a marker indicating that the Center of the Universe has been discovered. And what proves that this spot is the Center of the Universe? A very weird and mysterious acoustic phenomenon. This phenomenon is that when one stands in the center of the circle and calls out, they will discover their voice echoing back at them like a private amplified echo chamber. And even stranger, the sound is echoed back much louder. For people standing outside the circle, they hear a very distorted voice. Legend claims that even a foghorn could be going off in the center of the circle and nobody would hear it outside the circle. Studies have been unable to prove what is causing the weird anomaly and that, certainly is odd!
This Month in History -Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Born
In the month of May, on the 22nd, in 1859, author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was the second of ten children. He decided to get into medicine and attended the University of Edinburgh’s Medical School where he received a Bachelor of Medicine and Master of Surgery qualifications in 1881 and an M.D. in 1885. One of his professors inspired him to create the character of Sherlock Holmes. Holmes made his first appearance in A Study in Scarlet, a novel-length story published in Beeton’s Christmas Annual of 1887. It probably seemed odd to Conan Doyle's friends that he could create such a logical character who held to science when he himself was a big believer in the paranormal and routinely took part in seances. Conan Doyle addressed his beliefs in a short novel named "The Mystery of Cloomber," which was published in 1889. He wrote Sherlock Holmes stories through to 1926. He died in Windlesham, his home in Crowborough, Sussex in 1930.His funeral was held by members of the spiritualist community who celebrated his passing beyone the veil. On July 13, 1930, thousands of people filled London’s Royal Albert Hall for a séance during which Estelle Roberts, the spiritualist medium, claimed to have contacted Sir Arthur.
Waverly Hills Sanatorium
Tuberculosis was a horrible disease in which people had to watch their loved ones literally waste away before their eyes. For this reason, it was commonly referred to as Consumption and there were points in history when people actually believed that people suffering from TB were being attacked by vampires. One of the nicer locations built to help people with TB was Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky. A group of us visited and toured this historical hospital where so many people met their final end at the hands of the dreaded disease. For this reason, the sanatorium is famously known to be very haunted. And for those of us that visited, I think most of us left convinced that some kind of supernatural activity is happening. Join me as I share the history and hauntings of Waverly Hills Sanatorium!
Waverly Hills Sanatorium looms large when first approached. When you arrive at the gate, an employee comes down and instructs everyone to drive up the hill to a parking lot. The trees open up into a full view of the sanatorium when you reach the top of the hill. Despite the fact that it has stood abandoned for the most part for many years, the building looks to be in remarkable condition. The screens no longer stretch in the windows of the solarium, giving an eerie open feeling and gargoyles continue their sentinel duty at the top of the building adding to the creep factor. We were instructed to walk to a rear building for check-in and you immediately feel just what a presence the building is all by itself, minus the stories of ghosts.
Waverly Hills sits on a spot where a school once stood. Major Thomas H. Hays had bought the land in 1883 with the goal of building a school for his daughters to attend. That school was just a one room school house that was located on Pages Lane. Lizzie Lee Harris was hired to be the teacher and she named the school "Waverley School" after some novels named "Waverley Novels." Major Hays followed suit and named the property "Waverley Hill." The Board of Tuberculosis Hospital kept the name after purchasing the land and opening the Sanatorium. The original sanatorium that they built was not the large structure that stands today. The first was a framed building with a hipped roof and only had two stories. It could accommodate around 40 to 50 patients. The climate of Jefferson County, where Louisville is located, was conducive to the spread of TB and by the early 1900s, the county was hit hard. The original hospital was ill equipped to handle the amount of patients that would be flooding in. The city of Louisville started to plan a new hospital in 1911, but they had no intention of including admission of people suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis.
The Board of Tuberculosis Hospital was given $25,000 to erect a new hospital for the care of advanced cases of pulmonary tuberculosis. In order to start the building, the patients from the City Hospital had to be moved to tents set up on the grounds at Waverly Hills. The new pavilion was finished in 1912 and could care for another 40 patients. A children's pavilion was added as well for both sick kids and the children of patients. The plan for Waverly was to continue adding buildings and it eventually became like many other TB properties. These properties would become self-sufficient mini cities with their own water treatment facilities, post offices and growing their own food. Waverly followed the same pattern. But eventually, there was a desire to build a larger structure and that is the building that still exists today
Construction began in March of 1924 on the brick, five-story gothic styled building. It was designed by architect James J. Gaffney. The sanatorium would be able to house up to 400 patients. It was designed to provide a variety of treatments and was considered state-of-the-art at the time, despite the fact that many of the treatments they used for TB, we would consider barbaric. The facility officially opened on October 17, 1926. One of the treatments offered at Waverly Hills was time out on the Solarium.These were large patio areas on the outside of each floor where patients would sit for hours to take in the fresh air and enjoy the peace of the wooded area that surrounded the sanatorium. There was an audio system set up where patients could listen to music and the radio station broadcasting from within Waverly Hills. Our tour guide said it was like the first iPod. Some patients would be left out here up to 13 hours and there are even photos that show that some patients would actually be covered in snow. For this reason, the first electric blankets were used here. Another treatment was time in the sunroom, which was a room with heat lamps that were to provide a feeling as though being in the sun. The more barbaric treatments included electric shock for people with TB of the brain and surgical procedures to remove ribs and muscle. One of the worst treatments was a process where a lung would be deflated because TB needs oxygen to survive. This treatment did help some people, but mainly ended up killing people.
The facility served as a tuberculosis hospital until 1961. In 1943, streptomycin was discovered and it proved to successfully treat TB. This eventually would make Waverly Hills obsolete and so it did close in 1961 with any patients still remaining being transferred to Hazelwood Sanatorium. The following year it reopened after renovation as WoodHaven Medical Services, a geriatric facility for people with mobility issues and dementia. This facility ran until it was closed by the state in 1981. This was supposedly due to patient neglect. Simpsonville developer J. Clifford Todd bought the hospital in 1983 for $3,005,000. Todd joined forces with architect Milton Thompson and the men planned to convert it into a minimum-security prison for the state. Waverly is surrounded by a neighborhood and obviously, these people were not about to allow a minimum security prison in their backyard. The men switched to a plan to build apartments, but that fell through as well.
Robert Alberhasky bought the property in 1996 with the hope of turning it into an arts and worship center. He wanted to also build a replica of the Christ the Redeemer statue that is in Rio de Janeiro. This statue was going to be 150 feet tall and 150 feet wide and placed on the roof of the sanatorium. Donations fell through and the project was cancelled the following year. Tina and Charlie Mattingly then bought Waverly Hills in 2001. The Mattinglys hold tours of Waverly Hills and host a haunted house attraction each Halloween, with proceeds going toward restoration of the property. Restoration is going well, but is slow. The rooms that we saw that were restored looked great. Waverly Hills Historical Society is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and restoration of Waverly Hills Sanatorium.
It is no secret that Waverly Hills is haunted. And while I generally leave it up to you to decide if a place is haunted or not, I can tell you that I believe something I cannot explain is going on in this building. There are stories that two nurses killed themselves in Room 502, one by hanging and the other jumped to her death. They are believed to haunt the fifth floor and one has shown up in photographs. The smell of fresh baked bread has come from the former kitchen. Many ghost hunters claim that the ghost of a small boy named Timmy roams the halls. Chelsea explained that there are no records of a Timmy at the sanatorium and she doesn't believe the stories. The creepiest story in connection to Waverly is that of The Creeper. The Creeper is a dark and terrifying entity that crawls along the floors and the walls and many believe it is demonic in nature. Others believe it’s a human spirit that's been twisted by the trauma of tubercular death. People who see it are filled with dread.
The Cult of Weird website reported the following experience, "As we continued our conversation I began to notice a small orb-shaped pinpoint of light moving across the second floor solarium. It was the size of a firefly but a blue-white color, and it would disappear only to reappear with perfect timing in every other window. My companion asked if I could see a blue light. I said that I could. We watched as it traveled the entire length of the west side of the building heading east. At first it appeared as if it was inside the building, but as it progressed it moved up above the solarium windows in front of the exterior brick. When this happened it became two separate identical points of light, spaced so closely they almost touched each other. When the light neared a bend in the building—the sanatorium is roughly question mark shaped—we lost sight of it. The light(s) traveled roughly 350 feet in approximately 10 seconds."
Out tour started at the Body Chute. This was a long chute that went downhill a very long way and we walked down most of it on some concrete stairs next to it. A track system would carry the bodies to the bottom where families could pick up the bodies or the local funeral parlor would collect them. The reason this was used was because so many people were dying, the administrators were worried that it would depress the patients and they would give up their fight and all hope when they saw so many of their compatriots die. The chute is very creepy and smells. Our guide, Chelsea, told us a story about an experience that she had at the Body Chute. She was giving a tour and had her back to the chute. She noticed that several people in her group were getting startled looks on their faces and one of them told her to turn around. When she did, she saw a white misty figure at the bottom of the Chute. She has experienced enough at Waverly Hills that she thought to herself, I'm okay as long as that just stays where it is. When she turned back around, she saw that her entire group had run away. She turned around again to see why they had run and the white figure was running straight at her.
We spent some time in the refrigeration room and Chelsea asked for a volunteer. One of our group, Quin's boyfriend Matthew, volunteered. Chelsea said,"Hi kids" and explained that she was going to ask the children who used to play hide and seek in the refrigeration system if it would be okay for Matthew to enter one of the units. She also told Matthew to ask permission. Chelsea goes through this process ever since one of the people she put in the unit on a previous tour told her that the children had said that they needed to be asked for permission for someone to enter. She then shut him up inside the unit. She explained that on occasion, the refrigerators had to be used for bodies, so they would move the vegetables and meat out and put the bodies in. People who are closed up in the unit routinely feel their hair being pulled or the shirts being tugged upon. Chelsea played an EVP that a guest had recorded on their phone. You can hear the guest say "Ready or not" and then a child's voice responds "Here I come."
The man who was serving as our "caboose" told me a story about an experience he had on the fourth floor. A group had arrived in a chauffeur van and the driver had joined the tour. The driver was bringing up the rear with the guy telling me the story and they distinctly heard the sound of dance music floating up the hall and they also could hear the sound of feet dancing on the floor. The former cafeteria of Waverly is haunted by the ghosts of a little boy and girl and there is also a resident ghost cat. People feel it rubbing up against their ankles. There was a chapel at Waverly for services and was also used for arts and crafts. Outside one of the windows, an apparition appeared in a picture. We saw the picture and it was creepy as hell. And this was up on the third floor, so nobody could be standing outside the window.
We went inside Lois' Room and said hi to her. Chelsea told us her story. She shared a photo of Lois who passed away in the room at the age of 28 from TB. She suffered from it for 8 years and spent all of those at Waverly. Her sister, Audrey, also had the dreaded disease and joined her in the room. She managed to recover and lived to be in her 90s. Investigators have picked up EVP of a female voice saying "Audrey" as though Lois is searching for her sister. A flowery smell is sometimes detected and she likes to play with Chelsea's hair. We then went to an area where there had been an elevator shaft. A homeless man and his dog were thrown down to the bottom of this shaft and reports claimed that it had been a ritualistic murder. The homeless man had lived in the building for quite some time and he was very protective of it. This is where I had my first paranormal experience of the evening and it was shared by the whole group. I clearly heard a dog whimper while Chelsea told the story. i thought perhaps it was the power of suggestion until Chelsea asked if we all heard it and everybody said yes. Then a little bit later there was another whimper followed by a door slam. And we again heard the dog whimper a third time before we left the area. It was clear. It was audible. I have no doubt that the ghost of a dog had joined us...or at least a residual whimper.
We went to the fifth floor, which opened up onto the roof. This is said to be the most active floor. Chelsea told the story of the nurse who hung herself in the center room. She had fallen in love with a doctor who was married and carried on an affair with him. She discovered she was pregnant and she told him about it. He rejected her and in her dismay, she committed suicide. Some stories claim that she lived in Room 502 and hanged herself there, but Chelsea said that was not true. She had done it in the public area. I went into 502 where a Spirit Box session was taking place and made this recording. Before I made the recording, we were let loose to do some investigating if we liked. I had turned off my recorder to save the battery. I use an H1 Zoom and you have to pull down and hold a switch to turn it on. I did this and watched the display light up. I pushed record and nothing happened. I noticed the display was off.I thought that the battery had a half charge when I looked at the display, but perhaps I was wrong. The only way the Zoom will turn off that way is if the battery dies.Otherwise, you have to hold down the switch just like turning it on. I turned it on again and saw clearly that half the battery was still good. I tried hitting record again and nothing. It had turned off again. I thought that maybe the battery really was going bad, but i tried a third time.This time the recorder stayed on for 15 minutes and recorded. Deana of TwistedPhilly shared a creepy experience she had up her on the fifth floor in her Patreon bonuscast about Waverly Hills.
The fourth floor was by far the creepiest floor and most of the Spooktacular Crew felt very uneasy here and even a little sick. Before we went through the metal door, Chelsea told us about some teenagers who were ransacking the place and they got locked in by something. They had brought an axe with them and tried to open the door with it, but had no luck. The marks in the door are still there. Whatever is on this floor does not seem to be human. There are supposedly shadow figures everywhere and Chelsea instructed us on how to look down the hallway and blink our eyes so they wouldn't play tricks on us. I think I saw two shadow figures and this was verified by the Caboose guy who was standing next to me.
Visitng Waverly Hills is an experience that every paranormal enthusiast needs to have. I look forward to visiting again. Nothing scared me here, but i definitely feel like I had experiences. Are the former patients and staff still wandering the halls in the afterlife? Is Waverly Hills haunted? That is for you to decide!