Moment in Oddity - The Graves of Charlie Silver
Suggested by Tammie McCarroll-Burroughs
The little community of Kona in North Carolina was the scene of a horrific crime in 1831. The details surrounding the murder of Charlie Silver has led to an unusual circumstance at the Kona Baptist Church Cemetery. Charlie was married to Frankie in 1830. They were young and seemed perfect for each other. But things went horribly wrong on December 2nd in 1831. Charlie had gone out to get some liquor for Christmas. When he got back home to Frankie and their 13-month-old daughter, he was a bit tipsy from imbibing while riding home. No one knows for sure exactly what happened next, but a fight ensues with Charlie grabbing a shotgun and threatening to kill Frankie and possibly their daughter. Frankie picks up an axe and uses it, killing Charlie. Now she was left with having to cover-up the murder. She hacked his body up and attempted to burn it in the cabin fireplace. A neighbor became suspicious and he visited the cabin when Frankie was away. He found greasy ashes in the fireplace, along with bone. He found a pool of blood beneath the floorboards as well. Charlie's torso and head were outside the cabin. Frankie was indicted for murder because she did not claim that she was defending herself, but rather just went with not guilty. Frankie was sentenced to death, but the community put out a lot of pressure for her to be pardoned. The execution went through in the end. Now the unusual circumstance is that people who visit the graveyard find a large granite stone with Charlie Silver's name on it, but that is not where Charlie was buried. Three natural stones rising behind the granite stone mark spots where Charlie was buried. You see, Charlie was not buried all at once. As they found bits and pieces of him, a new burial was done. Burying someone's body in separate places with individual markers certainly seems rather odd!
This Day in History - Colonists Reach Roanoke Island
by: April Rogers-Krick
On this day, July 13th, in 1584, a group of 108 English colonists reached Roanoke Island looking to settle in an unknown land. The expedition was funded by Sir Walter Raleigh and approved by Queen Elizabeth I, who had issued a charter allowing Raleigh to “discover, search, find out and view such remote heathen and barbarous lands, countries, and territories…to have, hold, occupy and enjoy.” Raleigh did not make the trip with the colonists. Under the commands of Phillip Amada and Arthur Barlowe, two ships sailed from England on April 27, 1584 and landed on the coast of North Carolina on July 13, 1584. This landing marked the first time the English flag waved in the New World. But this expedition would prove to be unsuccessful. The colonists were unable to establish a good rapport with the native peoples of the New World and lacked proper provisions for permanent settlement. The colonists would eventually return to England to prepare for another trip the following year. Sir Walter Raleigh reported the discovery of Roanoke Island to Queen Elizabeth I and the new territory was named Virginia, in honor of the Virgin Queen.
Hotel Jeffery (Suggested by listener Scott Stuller, Research Assistant Kristin Swintek)
Along the most scenic route to Yosemite National Park is the city of Coulterville, which is home to the historic Hotel Jeffery. The Magnolia Saloon that is part of the hotel is one of the only saloons in America that still has the traditional bat-wing doors and it is the oldest working saloon in California. The hotel has hosted the famous, but it also hosts some unique guests. The hotel is rumored to be haunted by 17 individual spirits and the unnerving part is that the hotel claims that most of the spirits are not malevolent, meaning that some are. Join us for the history and hauntings of Hotel Jeffery!
Coulterville, California is a very small mining town located in Mariposa County on Maxwell Creek. The town was settled by George W. Coulter in 1850 and he opened a tent store serving miners working in the Maxwell, Boneyard and Black creeks. The settlement was originally called Banderita (which is spanish for “Little Flag”) for the flag flying over the store. In 1853, a post office was established as Maxwell Creek and changed to Coulter a year later. The entire town is considered a historic landmark. During the Gold Rush, the town was a major gold mining and supply center. At that time, the town had an estimated population of 5,000 people. Coulter was very diverse with nine nationalities and it even included it’s own “Chinatown.” *Fun fact: Buffalo Bill Cody's brother Nelson was an agent at the Wells Fargo here in 1870.*
The town had its share of tragedy. In 1862, a major flood destroyed or damaged buildings along the creek. The element of fire would be the next destructive force. A large portion of the town was burned in three separate fires, each oddly occurring exactly 20 years apart starting in 1859, with the next in 1879 and the final one in 1899. In its heyday, the town boasted 25 saloons and 10 hotels. In the late 1800s, the town became a popular stop for tourists on their way to Yosemite National Park. In fact, the first paved road into Yosemite ran through Coulterville. Today, the town is not quite as bustling as it once was. The 2010 United States Census reported a population of only 200 people.
The building that would become The Hotel Jeffery was built in the 1840s by Mexicans and opened as a store. The walls were built from clay and rock and measured 30 inches thick. There was a Fandango Hall built on the upper floor. (We, of course, had no idea what Fandango was and the rabbit hole was interesting. First, you get the movie ticket selling website and then I found a ballroom dancer turned wrestler.) Fandango is a lively folk dance designed for couples that was created in Spain. It began in the 18th century. The dance is accompanied by guitar, castanets and hand clapping and can be danced by either male and female or couples or by two males who use it as a type of stand-off, mimicing each other's moves and trying to best each other. It is quite festive and the tempo increases as the songs and dancing continue. The Fandango made it into all of the Spanish colonies and each developed their own flair. *Fun fact: The Philippines being a Spanish colony had a Fandango dance that did not use castanets, but rather they carried glasses with candles in them that they occasionally swung around in the air.*
George Jeffery bought the building in 1851 and turned it into a hotel for stagecoach passengers and Gold-Rush era miners. The hotel took its name from him. Some famous guests include President Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, Mark Twain, Ralph Waldo Emerson and even Queen Elizabeth II. It is considered a historical landmark and was voted one of the most authentic western towns in the United States. It is located 28 miles from Yosemite National Park, and for many years has attracted visitors on their way to the National Park. The Oakland Tribune reported in 1941 that an old oak tree was located across the street from the hotel and that it was called "Hangman's Tree." Leon Ruiz was hung here in 1856 for killing two Chinese miners and robbing them. The tree was advertised as the business office of the necktie party set.
Up until the 1970s, the hotel had been owned by three generations of the same family. The Santa Ana Register reported in 1976 that the Magnolia Saloon had an antique no trespassing sing that read, "Trespassers will be persecuted to the full extent of two mongrel dogs which never was sociable to strangers and my double-barrelled shotgun which ain't loaded with sofa pillars. Derned if I ain't getting tired of the hell raisin' on my place."
This is not a luxury hotel by any means. The hotel has 20 rooms, some with their own bathroom, and others share a bathroom in the hall on the 3rd floor. The rooms also do not contain as many modern amenities as most hotels such as televisions or telephones. There is a TV room on the second floor where guests can visit and phone calls can be made at the front desk. Forrest Monk and Sara Zahn bought the hotel and have been trying to return it to its former glory. The rooms have been furnished with antique lights and chairs and crank telephones have been installed that still work. The Magnolia Saloon was restored and the original 40 ft. wooden bar and bar back was refinished. There are still bullet holes in the wall of the saloon, so we would surmise that people died here in gunfights. Dining options at the hotel include The Victoria Room and the Courtyard. On Saturdays, actors stage a western-style gun battle in the saloon.
The building caught fire on November 14, 2014, from “some kind of electrical problem” according to an article in The Modesto Bee. In another article from the Modesto Bee in March of 2015, owner Sara Zahn was working to repair damage to the building while updating some of the rooms and adding bathrooms, so the saloon could be opened. We're not certain on the current state of the hotel, but it does not seem to be open for business yet since the fire damage was so extensive. The Hotel Jeffrey is the main source of commerce and entertain for the current residents of Coulterville. Scott mentioned in his email that the hotel was being rebuilt and that the recent fire in the kitchen was mysterious.
Unlike many hotels who try not to advertise their paranormal activity, the Hotel Jeffery has an entire section of their website dedicated to their ghosts. The hotel claims to be home to 17 spirits and “ghost detecting kits” are available for guests to do a little investigating of their own. According to an article in the Union Democrat, the kit contains an EMF detector, motions sensors, and recording devices.
The hotel website boasts many accounts of guests and the owners strange happenings while staying or working in the hotel:
“Several months ago I was working in the registration office and around 2:00am I got up to lock the doors to the kitchen and outside through the dining room before going to sleep. All was well. In the morning, around 6:00am I went through the registration office to go to the kitchen. This is the route I always take in the morning as it is the only way to unlock everything. When I went through the dining room...right in the middle of my path was the cello, propped up facing me. The cello normally rests off to the side next to the piano about 20 feet on the other side of the room. No one had unlocked the doors between 2-6am.”A jilted lover hung herself in Room 22 in the late 1800s. A guest staying in that room took a picture of a shadow on the door that he claims contains the shadow of an unknown person. He claims the shadow is not his own and there was no one else on the floor at the time. A work crew staying at the hotel while working on a nearby road had some startling experiences they reported. A female member of the crew was staying in room 19 and she awoke in the middle of the night to find the door to the room wide open. She got up to close the door and upon returning to bed, the blanket and sheet were pulling away from her. She phoned her boss stating that she was too afraid to stay in the room, and asked if she could stay with her boss in room 15. On her way down the hall to her boss’ room, all the doors to the rooms began slamming shut one after another. This was recounted by the woman’s boss as the guest in room 19 was too afraid to speak of the experience and refused to stay another night in the hotel.
Activity in Room 6 had steadily increased in the months after the hotel had been renovated. A man staying in Room 6 with his dog, awoke in the night when his dog began barking. The man felt as though he had been burned on his face and indeed when he awoke the next morning, there was a mark on his face, as if he had been punched. Another guest in Room 6 heard voices “right next to him” and would not come back.
Other guests claim to have heard running down the hallways and have complained that they hear children running up and down the hallways during the night, when in fact no children had been staying at the hotel. A group of paranormal investigators set up equipment in the Cedar Room. One of the investigator felt scratches on his back, and found marks left on his skin upon lifting his shirt. The owners of the hotel have heard disembodied footsteps in the Cedar Room. The owner states that “the room gives me the creeps and I won’t go in it by myself if the lights are not on.”
HPI Paranormal Investigators paid a visit to the hotel on Saturday, April 21, 2012. They reported that camera batteries quickly drained and “dead” compasses suddenly came to life and behaved strangely. They interviewed employees and a dishwasher told them that the stove burners turn themselves off and on and the saloon doors swing on their own. Guests told the investigators that they often smell cigar smoke when no one in the bar or around the hotel is smoking any cigars or they might catch a whiff of perfume drifting by from an unseen entity. Locals recounted the legend of the “Red Eyed Roof Crawler” who is a dark figure that walks on all fours and sports red glowing eyes. This “creature” has been seen on the roof of the hotel and usually appears during a full moon. Many locals claim to have seen the Red Eyed Roof Crawler but the paranormal group did not encounter any unusual creatures during their stay.
The group conducted a seance and during that a shadow person was seen, orbs were seen floating around the room via night vision googles, an EVP of a male voice was recorded although the words are not clear and one investigator was scratched on the back. Some of the investigators also recorded EVPs in their rooms. When they asked 'Is anyone here?', they would receive a voice confirming 'Yes.'"
Our listener Scott told us, "I live in this area and once went into the hotel to take a look around. A women greeted me upon entering and said, 'Yes this hotel is haunted and you came in to take a look for yourself. Go ahead look, but don't go in any room with the door closed at you will disturb guests.' I didn't ask to look around and didn't know the place had a reputation for being haunted. I guess enough people have gone in to ask to look around that she gives this greeting to everyone."
"The hotel is a remarkable place! Since we absolutely LOVE history, it was wonderful staying in a place over 150 years old. It was clean, upkept, and the food was delicious! However, I experienced something I've NEVER experienced before...not thinking too much that the hotel could be haunted...because I am very much a skeptic regarding those things. Yet, here is my story...Coulterville is a very historic town holding on to its old west roots. Is it holding on to spirits from that bygone era? Do the spirits of previous guests still walk the halls of the hotel in the afterlife? Is Hotel Jeffery haunted? That is for you to decide!
It was a Thursday evening when my family and I were eating dinner in the saloon. Thunder and lightning began while we were talking with one of the owners, so he gave us 3 little laterns just in case the electricity would be lost. Once in our room we settled to watch a movie. Our room was at the end of the hall (8 & 9) with a sitting room (tv-dvd player) between the rooms. This room is small, so I just laid across the width of my bed in room 8 watching the movie while my husband and children sat on the satee in the small sitting room. While watching the movie, I heard the door handle turn and people talking (murmering) but couldn't make out what was being said--so I looked at the door -- the handle was moving as if someone was outside the door turning it to come in. (They couldn't because our door was locked). I tiptoed to the door to see who might be outside--through the eye piece I saw a woman (over to the left) wearing an 1800's dress with a nursing cap dabbing the forehead of an older man (who looked to be bald with light hair around the edge of his head). Thinking it was a trick--I quickly and quietly got my husband to see this also. As I was quietly approaching the door eye look out again--they were still there. Moving back for my husband to see--he peeked through the door. He didn't see a thing. Again, thinking this was a joke played on us...we opened the door--no one was out in the hall. I cannot explain what I saw--but, am I still a skeptic? Not as much as I was when we first came to the hotel."
Grimm, M., & Grimm, T. (1990, January 21). Coulterville Streets Lined with History. Los Angeles Times.
Jardine, J. (2014, November 12). Coulterville's historic Jeffery Hotel badly damaged by fire, but owner confident it will rise once more. The Modesto Bee. Retrieved June 25, 2016, from http://www.modbee.com/
Jardine, J. (2015, March 9). Historic Hotel Jeffery making progress after fire. The Modesto Bee. Retrieved June 25, 2016, from http://www.modbee.com/
Cambell, R. (2015, August 23). Hotel Jeffery reopens in 1800s style. The Union Democrat. Retrieved July 5, 2016, from http://www.uniondemocrat.com/csp/mediapool/sites/UnionDemocrat/LocalNews/story.csp?cid=3789975&sid=753&fid=151