In December of 1900, a ship was sailing to the Flannan Islands in the UK. It's mission was to bring supplies and a relief keeper to the Eilean Mor Lighthouse. The Island had been named for St. Flannen who had been an Irish Bishop because he built a chapel on the remote island. Other than the lighthouse keepers, the island was uninhabited. The ship arrived and docked and noticed something amiss right away. No one was at the dock to meet them. The relief lighthouse keeper, Joseph Moore, ascended the stairs that led up to the lighthouse and he had a feeling of foreboding. The fact that no one had responded to the blasting of the ship's horn was troubling. The door to the lighthouse was unlocked and the kitchen left evidence that the keepers had vacated quickly. There was half eaten food and a chair was tipped over. Two of the three oil skinned coats were missing. The kitchen clock had stopped. A search of the island was ordered, but no sign of the keepers was found. The head of the Northern Lighthouse Board Headquarters, Robert Muirhead, left for the island a few days later to investigate. The historic UK website describes what the investigation revealed:
"Muirhead immediately noticed that the last few days of entries were unusual. On the 12th December, Thomas Marshall, the second assistant, wrote of ‘severe winds the likes of which I have never seen before in twenty years’. He also noticed that James Ducat, the Principal Keeper, had been ‘very quiet’ and that the third assistant, William McArthur, had been crying. What is strange about the final remark was that William McArthur was a seasoned mariner, and was known on the Scottish mainland as a tough brawler. Why would he be crying about a storm? Log entries on the 13th December stated that the storm was still raging, and that all three men had been praying. But why would three experienced lighthouse keepers, safely situated on a brand new lighthouse that was 150 feet above sea level, be praying for a storm to stop? They should have been perfectly safe. Even more peculiar is that there were no reported storms in the area on the 12th, 13th and 14th of December. In fact, the weather was calm, and the storms that were to batter the island didn’t hit until December 17th. The final log entry was made on the 15th December. It simply read ‘Storm ended, sea calm. God is over all’. What was meant by ‘God is over all’?"A box of ropes was found strewn across the rocks near the water and it was surmised that the keepers were trying to rescue the rope from the sea and a wave washed them away. But then why had the clock stopped in the kitchen? Was it such an emergency that all three keepers had to speed off leaving a chair on the floor? And why wasn't the third oil skinned coat used? And what of those entries with the bizarre weather revelations? Had some weird weather event only taken place on the island? Whatever happened, this mystery certainly is odd!
This Day in History - The Battle of Neville's Cross
On this day, October 17th, in 1346, the Battle of Neville's Cross is fought. It was fought during the Second War of Scottish Independence. King David II led his band of Scottish troops into battle and they numbered between 10,000 to 15,000 men. King Edward III had violated the Treaty of Male, which had ended the Hundred Year War by bringing troops into Normandy. The French were beaten and so David II marshalled his troops. Unfortunately, he did not take advantage of the element of surprise he had and his troops took their time moving forward. They camped outside of the city on October 16th and the next morning a small scouting faction was sent out. They were met by the English forces and were nearly all killed. A couple were able to get away to warn David II. It was too late to reach a better position, The English had the upper hand. The battle was tough and two factions fighting with David II took heavy losses and finally took off, leaving him to battle with his troops alone. They had some success hitting the English flank, but eventually were beaten and David II was captured. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London for eleven years. Lord Ralph Neville was one of the commanders of the English forces and he had a cross erected on the battlefield. That is where the battle got its name.
St. Augustine Light Station
The St. Augustine Lighthouse is actually a Light Station, meaning that the lighthouse is accompanied by several outbuildings. This is one of the tallest and oldest lighthouses in America. We visited with several History Goes Bump listeners to experience the Dark of the Moon Ghost Tour. While many families lived here without incident, there were a couple that suffered tragedy. And it is through those tragedies that spiritual energy seems to have continued on, even after all these years. We had what seemed to be an experience of our own. Come with us as we share that and the history and hauntings of the St. Augustine Light Station.
We have discussed the history of St. Augustine in a couple of other podcasts. Obviously, this is one of our favorite cities to visit. Here is a brief refresher on the origins of St. Augustine. The city was founded in 1565, making it one of the oldest cities in both North and South America. It is America’s oldest city. The city took its name from the day upon which the city was founded by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, the Festival of San Augustín. The city was originally founded to protect the Spanish trade route and the Castillo de San Marco was built to help facilitate defense with a small city cropping up nearby. St. Augustine found itself being constantly under assault.
|Gun shot aftermath|
William A. Harn was originally from Philadelphia. He had served during the Civil War as Captain of the 3rd New York Independent Battery and fought in the battles at Fredericksburg and Gettysburg. His military service is what probably led him to be the first keeper to wear a uniform. He arrived in St. Augustine with his wife Kate and six daughters. For twenty years, Harn served as Head Keeper at the lighthouse. In 1886, Harn documented an earthquake that rocked the lighthouse in August of that year. He thought the tower was going to fall over. During his tenure, fuel was switched from lard to kerosene.
We're going to play several sound bites that we recorded that night, featuring some of the haunting stories. Before we started the tour, we were informed of a little issue with the women's bathroom. Apparently, it is haunted. One of the more famous stories about the lighthouse goes back to its initial construction. The construction supervisor was Hezekiah Pittee and he had his children at the site with him. A railcar had been rigged to serve as a way to move supplies. The children found it to be quite handy for play and they would ride the car along the rail to where it stopped near the ocean. One day the car did not stop like it normally did and it went flying into the ocean, trapping three young girls. Only one of them was rescued. She was a neighbor girl. The other two girls were Hezekiah's children. Later, men laying bricks along the scaffold would hear children laughing. They would scamper down to warn the kids not to play with the railcar and they would find no children anywhere. In the 1960s, a man had rented the keeper's House and invited friends to stay with him. They woke up that night and found a girl in an old fashioned dress staring at them from beside the bed. The girl smiled at them and disappeared. We hiked through a nearby woody area and tried to figure out where the railcar line would have been. A guide showed us a picture taken in the woods of a white figure.
As we mentioned earlier, a keeper named Joseph died while trying to paint the lighthouse. He is here and his wife Maria has returned here as well. The guides told us some personal stories in regards to this and also more details on the way that Joseph died. It was not pretty. He hit many things on the way down and someone in his family more than likely witnessed the whole thing. Their ghosts many hang out on the first floor. We went down into the basement and were told about another Keeper named Pete. Pete liked to smoke down here and occassionally the sweet smell of his tobacco can be detected. He likes to put pressure on men's chests and to touch ladies on the legs. We heard stories from both our guide and later, Julie and Diane spoke with another guide who told us some pretty strange occurences that have happened with Pete. He seems to be able to control EMF Meters.
Are the spirits of those who once watched over the lighthouse still here, continuing their watch in the afterlife? Are the ghosts of children playing in the woods and in the lighthouse? Were we locked inside the lighthouse by some weird happening with the lock? Is the St. Augustine Light Station haunted? That is for you to decide!
|Our group before the tour|
|Here we all are on top of the lighthouse!|