Friday, August 18, 2017
Moment in Oddity - Ghost Cemetery Guide
(Story shared by listener Chelsea Bishop)
Our listener Chelsea shared this odd experience at the Los Angeles National Cemetery:
"To be honest, I am not completely sure if this cemetery is haunted. Although there are many soldiers buried here (my grandfather and great grandfather are one of the many). We have visited this cemetery once a year (mostly on Memorial day), but one year my mom had this strong feeling that she needed to go back and visit her dad's grave stone again. Oddly enough the day that she went with my dad was Mother's day and the place was packed. It is a pretty large cemetery and unless you have done research ahead of time, you can easily get lost looking for a certain head stone. This is exactly what had happened to my mom and dad. They had to park and were about to looking for the row number of my grandfather's head stone when they realized... the paper was left back at home, an hour away. Not wanting to leave after taking so long to arrive, my parents decided they would separate and search (then call each when one of them found it). Just when my mom was completely frustrated, she heard someone call her. She looked up to see an elderly woman with a cane walk over to her. The woman asked if she could help my mom. My mom told her that she was lost looking for her father, the woman responded, "ask God to help you." Now my mom believes that there is a greater power but not that much. She rolled her eyes and then glanced on the ground. Sure enough my mom was standing right next to her dad's grave stone. When she looked up to thanked the elderly woman... the woman was gone. Immediately my mom called my dad, he wanted to explain away the situation with, "well the place is packed, maybe you misplaced her?" But whoever the woman was, she did not seem to be the type to easily take off and start running away. Maybe there is a helpful guide at this cemetery? I'm not sure, but whoever helped, my family is truly grateful." A ghost cemetery guide, certainly is odd!
This Month in History - Jamaica's Second Maroon War
In the month of August, in 1795, Jamaica's Second Maroon War began. The Maroons of Jamaica were escaped slaves who ran away from the Spanish-owned plantations that they worked on when the British wrested control of Jamaica from the Spanish in 1655. Maroon means mountain and that is where the slaves ran and hid: to the mountains of Jamaica. The government felt that the Maroons were a threat and the two sides began the first Maroon War in 1728. They made peace in 1739, but it did not last, at least not with all of the Maroons. A new governor decided to forget about the treaty that had been signed and arrested two leaders of the Maroons of Trelawny Parish. This started the Second Maroon War. The Maroons held off the British soldiers, which had 4500 men to their 300. The Governor offered a new peace treaty if the Maroons laid down their arms. They did, but the offer was a trick. The Maroons were arrested and sent to Nova Scotia. In 1800, many of them would be shipped to Sierra Leone. Trelawny is now known as Maroon Town even though there are no longer any Maroons there.
Haunted Cemeteries 3
We love to visit cemeteries. They are so peaceful and many of the older ones are like parks. We will be talking about a couple of these park-like cemeteries today. We'll be in New York to check out a graveyard that inspired Central Park, Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery. Then there is Spring Hill Cemetery in West Virginia that is home to victims of epidemics and a plane crash. Indiana's Clark County has several old cemeteries with unique legends and finally our listener Dannah Jones joins us to discuss Maple Hill Cemetery and its creepy legend that will make you think twice about the swings at the playground. All of these places of rest have several spirits at unrest!
Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery (Suggested by Margo Donohue of Book vs. Movie Podcast)
This wasn't always a peaceful spot. The Battle of Long Island was fought here in 1776. Battle Hill is in fact, the highest point in Brooklyn. Frederick Ruckstull made a Revolutionary War monument named Altar to Liberty: Minerva, which was erected in 1920 and faces towards the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. The Battle of Long Island or Brooklyn, as it is sometimes called, was fought on August 27, 1776. This was the first battle of the American Revolution after the Declaration of Independence was issued and it was the largest battle of the war. The Americans saw Battle Hill in the distance and saw the strategic importance so 300 soldiers went to grab the hill, but the British beat them to it and fired upon them. The Americans pressed forward and eventually took the hill even though they were outnumbered. The British lost 400 men, but the Americans suffered over 1,000 casualties and the battle was considered a loss for the Americans and the British eventually took New York City.
There are 560,000 people buried here. Some of the notable people buried here include Leonard Bernstein, Boss Tweed, Charles Ebbets, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Horace Greeley, several Civil War generals, baseball legends, inventors, entertainers, politicians and artists. Boss Tweed should not have been buried here because he died in the Ludlow Street Jail and at the time there was a regulation in place at Green-Wood that no one could be buried there if they executed for a crime or died in jail. Somehow his family circumvented the rule. Another criminal who found his way here was John Torrio, a notorious gangster who mentored Al Capone. Roland Burnham Molineux was a chemist in Brooklyn who was angry with Harry Cornish, the director of his local athletic club, and he decided to poison the man. He mailed him a bottle of Bromo-seltzer laced with cyanide. Unfortunely, the woman providing lodging to Cornish took the Bromo-seltzer to relieve a headache and she died. Molineux was arrested and convicted, but was later acquited. He is buried here at Green-Wood. And important to our audience is the grave of Margaret Fox, the mother of the Fox Sisters, who helped make Spiritualism so popular. An obelisk near the main entrance at Fifth Avenue and 25th Street marks the burial site of 103 unidentified victims of the 1876 Brooklyn Theater Fire. On September 27, 2006, Green-Wood was designated a National Historic Landmark by the United States Department of the Interior.
The cemetery made news in 2014 when a man dressed as a creepy clown was seen holding a fistful of pink balloons clambering through the graveyard. He wore a polka-dotted outfit and multi-colored shoes. He was captured on a couple of YouTube videos, but not arrested. There are more than just pranksters making this cemetery a creepy place at times. Green-Wood is reputedly haunted. A photo was taken by a visitor named Mark and it seems to reveal a misty apparition that looks like a skeletal female. He said of the experience, "While visiting the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY today, I was peeking into a crypt and trying to see in. It was too dark to see anything. The only opening was this cross in the door so I tried using the camera flash to light up the inside. The flash went off but it didn’t seem to do anything but bounce off the stone. Then when I got home I uploaded the photo and saw this smoke-like image inside the tomb. I don’t know whose tomb it is, I didn’t even think to look when I was there. I will have to go back and see if I can find it. This cemetery is massive."
Many visitors to the cemetery claim to capture weird, ghost-like images in their pictures. The ghost of Mabel Douglass is seen roaming the graveyard. She disappeared on Lake Placid and her body was found at the bottom of the lake, petrified and perfectly intact 30 years later. She was buried at Green-wood. Revolutionary-era soldiers have been seen in the cemetery from both sides of the war. One ghost story is connected to someone buried at Green-Wood, John Anderson. He was a wealthy tobacconist who was suspected of killing Mary Rogers, a young woman found dead in the Hudson. She had been hired by Anderson to attract customers to his store. It is said that he cut a backroom deal and thus never faced prosecution. He claimed to be haunted by the ghost of Mary Rogers. An interesting aside to this is the events were covered by a young writer named Edgar Allan Poe in his story, “The Mystery of Marie Roget.”
Link to a fun video tour taken by ABC News: http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/video/historic-haunts-tour-brooklyns-green-wood-cemetery-34682101
Spring Hill Cemetery (Suggested by listener Victoria Brooke)
Spring Hill Cemetery is located in Huntington, West Virginia. Holderby's Landing was the first permanent settlement in the area of the future Huntington. It was founded in 1775. The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway came to town and this became a major hub for the railway when it was completed in 1873. Collis P. Huntington was one of four men who established western railroading and he built the Central Pacific Railroad. He wanted this hub to be the western terminus for the line and established a city with Delos W. Emmons and they named it for Huntington. The C&O eventually merged with other lines and is today known as CSX Transportation. Huntington was incorporated in 1871 and was the second American city to feature electric street cars after San Francisco. The first major tragedy for the city came with the Great Flood of 1937, which killed five people.
The second tragedy came in 1970 when a plane crash took the lives of 37 football players, five coaches, two athletic trainers, the athletic director, 25 boosters from the Marshall University Thundering Herd team. Five crew members were also killed. The Marshall team was returning home from a loss to the East Carolina Pirates and were flying aboard Southern Airways Flight 932 from North Carolina bound for Huntington Tri-State Airport in West Virginia. The plane collided with the tops of trees on a hillside during final descent into the airport and the plane burst into flames. The investigation was never able to figure out the cause, but many believe water seeped into the plane's altimeter and gave improper altitude readings leading the pilots to believe they were higher than they were. It was night and they were unable to see the danger that they were in leading this to become the deadliest tragedy to affect any sports team in US history. The movie "We are Marshall" was based on this event. Many of the dead were buried at Spring Hill Cemetery.
When Huntington was first established, the city set aside 30 acres for use as a public cemetery. The cemetery derives its name from the nearby Old Spring House. The first burial was in 1838 and is the grave of Elizabeth Prosser. Josephine Webb who was buried in 1873 is considered the first official burial.Three hundred Civil War soldiers are here. There is a small potter's field and many of those buried here are from the 1903 smallpox and the 1918 flu epidemics. It is from the burial of one of these 1903 smallpox victims that we have our first story connected to Spring Hill. William Alfred Bias was set to be buried in a mass grave and no funeral service was allowed due to contagion concerns. His sons showed up and watched from outside of the fence. The boys said a few prayers as he was put in the ground and then they noticed a ball of light hovering over his grave. It slowly rose and floated away. The boys followed it and it led them back home, where it went through the front door of the house with a thud.
Most of the ghostly apparitions are attributed to victims of the epidemics because of improper burial. The Huntington Paranormal Research Society conducted an investigation and have several videos on YouTube with their evidence. They got several EMF hits, particularly after asking for the unseen thing to touch the device. They also captured EVPs, one of which asked the investigators their names and said the word "Congress." They also captured a glowing blue orb in several consecutive pictures that were interesting.
Cemeteries of Clark County in Indiana (Encyclopedia of Haunted Indiana)
Sellersburg is named after one of the men who founded the town, Moses W. Sellers. He and a man named John Hill originally platted out the village in 1846 and they did it in a very irregular way. None of the forty-two lots have a right angle. The Jeffersonville, Madison & Indianapolis railroad passes by the east side of the village. Sellers opened the first store and cement mills employed many of the village residents. The Essroc Cement Plant is about five miles from Brick Church Road Cemetery.
- Brick Church Road Cemetery is located in Sellersburg on Brick Church Road east of Tom Combs Rd. There is reputedly a tombstone that glows green sometimes, but no one can pinpoint which tombstone this is and it seems to change. The creepier haunting here features transparent cloaked figures walking in the cemetery and inside the church at the cemetery. People claim these are Druids.
- St. Joe Road Cemetery is located in Sellersburg on SR 111 east on St. Joe Road. This cemetery is part of St. Joseph Hill Catholic Church. There is a tree in the middle of the cemetery that had once been used for public hangings. Visitors to the cemetery claim that they have seen one or more men hanging from the tree on certain nights.
Henryville, Indiana's claim to fame is that it is the birthplace of Colonel Harland Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken. The village was founded in 1850 and was originally named Morristown. Pennsylvania militia colonel Henry Ferguson purchased the land upon which Morristown was established and he convinced the Pennsylvania Railroad to bring a line to Clark County. For his efforts, the village was named in his honor in 1853.
- Mount Zion Cemetery is in Henryville and located at the east end of Blue Lick Rd. and Mt. Zion Rd. The haunting at this cemetery is connected to a woman who was killed on the road just outside the cemetery on Blue Lick Road. She manifests as a full-bodied apparition enveloped usually in a green haze and she walks through the cemetery. She seems to enjoy jumping on cars and drivers who have experienced this, claim that she leaves behind a sticky residue.
- Mountain Grove Cemetery is also known as Cemetery Hill in Henryville. It's located at the corner of Pixley Knob Rd. and Mountian Grove Rd. Daniel Guthrie was murdered and his body was buried at this cemetery. But it was not buried in a ceremony. The murderer buried the body here to hide it and it was not discovered for a year. When he was found, Daniel was buried at the Mount Zion Cemetery. Dan's spirit is not at rest probably because his murder was never solved. People who live near the cemetery, claim to hear disembodied footsteps and see the spectre of a young man with a handlebar moustache. Some of them even claim to see his footprints in mud outside of their windows. Investigators have captured EVPs in the cemetery of a male voice crying for help and screaming. One group even captured what sounds like the actual stabbing. They likened the sound to a knife going in and out of a pumpkin. A shadowy figure has been seen in the cemetery and on the nearby roadway.
Maple Hill Cemetery (Suggested by listener Dannah Jones)
Maple Hill Cemetery is one of the oldest and largest cemeteries in Alabama and was founded in 1822, but records indicate that it was a place of burial for some time before that. LeRoy Pope was a planter who owned the land and he sold it to the city of Huntsville for use as the cemetery. Inside the cemetery is Drost Park, which has some legends connected to it. There are several unexplained occurrences there and the cemetery itself is home to many hauntings. Our listener Dannah Jones joins us to share the history and hauntings of Maple Hill.
Cemeteries are meant to be places of rest. And many of them are completely peaceful. But every so often, we run across one with shadows lurking among the headstones. These cemeteries harbor some fascinating and creepy stories of hauntings. Are these cemeteries haunted? That is for you to decide!
Saturday, August 12, 2017
Moment in Oddity - Mummified Bodies Discovered in Alps Glaciers
The Alps are giving up their dead. Last month, July of 2017, climbers traversing the Hohlaug glacier in the Saas Valley were surprised when they came across a hand and two shoes protruding from the ice and snow. Excavation took a couple hours and when it was done, the body of a man who had been missing for 30 years had been recovered. The remains were identified via DNA in Bern and revealed the man to be a German citizen who went missing in 1987. These have not been the only remains found, with several discoveries coming over the past few months all across the Alps in Switzerland and France. Also in July, a Swiss couple's mummified corpses were discovered in the Tsanfleuron glacier. They had been reported missing in 1942. Fifty years ago, an Air India plane crashed into the French Alps and the dismembered remains of two of those passengers had recently been discovered on Mount Blanc. The Swiss glaciers are retreating and it is believed that hundreds of mummified corpses will begin to emerge from the ice and snow of the Alps. That means that hiking the Alps could turn into a grim and horrifying adventure and that, certainly is odd!
This Month in History - Arthur Murray Comes Through Ellis Island
In the month of August, in 1897, a two-year-old boy passed through inspection at Ellis Island with his mother Sarah. He was born Moses Teichman in Austria-Hungary and he and his mother were meeting his father Abraham, whom already had a house waiting for them in the Lower East Side of Manhatten. Moses would grow up there and at the age of 14, his friend Joe would teach him some dance steps. Moses took to it and started finding weddings to crash, so that he could practice his dance steps. He started work as a draftsman at the age of 17, but he held on to his first love of dance and taught dance classes at night. He won his first dance contest at the Grand Central Palace and since there was only the one silver cup awarded, he let his partner have it and soon it was a pawn shop. This made Moses promise himself that any contest he ran would make sure that everyone who won received a prize or award. He continued teaching dance lessons and wondered how he could expand into a business. One night William Jennings Bryan said to him, "You know, I have a fine idea on how you can collect your money. Just teach 'em with the left foot and don't tell 'em what to do with the right foot until they pay up!" This inspired Moses to start a mail order business that supplied people with dance step footprint diagrams. Within a couple of years, over 500,000 dance courses had been sold. Moses married and he and his wife started a dance school offering personal instruction, which soon branched into classes at hotel chains under the name he had taken on for himself, Arthur Murray. The franchise of Arthur Murray Dance Studios expanded until over 3,500 of them were in the country. They have since declined, but we have one right here in Clermont, Florida. Arthur Murray's franchise is the second-oldest franchise company right behind A & W Restaurants. Murray passed away in Hawaii in 1991 at the age of 95.
Conrad Mansion Museum (Suggested by Tammie McCarroll-Burroughs)
Montana is known as Big Sky Country and one tends to think of wide open spaces when picturing the state. The state was formerly part of the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition left their mark here, literally, with Clark inscribing his name and the date on a pillar northeast of modern day Billings. Explorers, frontiersmen, miners and businessmen all flocked to Montana. One of those men was Charles Conrad. He was a pioneer, businessman and banker who founded the city of Kalispell in Montana with his own money. He built his home in Kalispell and today it is known as the Conrad Mansion Museum. The mansion is a great example of a turn of the century home in the Northwest and it is reputedly haunted. The spirits seem friendly as they belong to members of the Conrad family. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the Conrad Mansion Museum!
Kalispell, Montana was founded by the Kalispell Townsite Company, which was formed by four men headed by Charles Conrad. The Flathead Nation were the early settlers here and are known today by that name because that is what the white people who came to region called them. They refer to themselves as the Salish. The word means "the people." The first time the tribe was written about was during the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The Kalispell Townsite Company platted out the future town and started selling lots in 1891. The city of Kalispell was officially incorporated in 1892. It has grown to be the largest city in Northwest Montana.
Charles E. Conrad was born in 1850 on the Conrad family plantation in the Shenandoah valley of Virginia. Charles served with the Confederacy during the Civil War in the guerilla cavalry of Mosby's Rangers. Colonel Mosby was known as the Gray Ghost and his men hid among the civilians and worked like a band of thieves destroying Union supply lines. This is why they were referred to as guerrillas rather than soldiers and Mosby himself did not generally use troops or soldiers when referring to his men, which were actually the 43rd Battalion of the Virginia Calvary. The Civil War changed things for the Conrad family and left them in poverty. Charles turned eighteen three years after the end of the Civil War and he left Virginia with his older brother William and the duo headed to Fort Benton in the Montana Territory to make their fortune in shipping. And they did just that turning Fort Benton into the largest shipping point west of the Missouri. Routes extended north into Canada and as far west as Walla Walla in the Washington Territory. The railroad arrived twenty-three years later and the shipping business started to flounder, so the brothers split their fortunes and invested in banking, real estate, mining and cattle.
At some point in the 1870s, Charles married a Native American woman named Sings-In-The-Middle-Woman and they had a son named Charles E. Conrad, Jr. in 1876. She was from the Blackfeet tribe and eventually returned to her people, leaving her son with his father. She died from influenza sometime after that. Charles later married Alicia Davenport Stanford in 1881. She went by the nickname Lettie. The two had met through her brother who was a member of the Northwest Canadian Mounted Police. The couple had three children: Charles Davenport in 1882, Catherine in 1884 and Alicia Ann in 1892. Charles decided to head to Spokane, Washington to check out business opportunities, but he took his wife Lettie and their children to Flathead Valley in Northwestern Montana for a vacation that lasted several weeks. Lettie fell in love with the area and the couple decided to make this their home.
It was at this time that Charles joined with the three other businessmen to form the Kalispell Townsite Company. Kalispell is a Salish word that means flat land above the lake and that is where the name came from because the Native Americans in the area referred to the area by this name. Charles convinced the railroad baron Jim Hill to bring a route of his rail line north of Flathead Lake. The Conrad family began construction on their mansion in 1892 and they contracted the famous Spokane architect Kirkland Cutter to design the home. The house is shingle style with Norman influences, particularly inside. The mansion is 13,000 square feet with 26 rooms spread out over three floors and there are 8 sandstone fireplaces. There was a carriage house and stable built outside and a dry stone fence with iron gates surrounded the three acres of land upon which the mansion was built. The grounds were well manicured with annual and perennial flower beds, pruned hedges and evergreens and a manicured lawn.
The interior of the home was beautiful with German immigrant craftsmen being brought in to fashion the oak trim and paneling. Electricity was installed with a carbide gas back-up system. The windows were made out of a variety of glass including tinted and clear bottle glass, diamond-paned leaded glass and the second floor has panels of Tiffany-style stained glass. The architect was known for including arches in his design s and the house has several. The mansion not only was updated with electricity, but it had a freight elevator, dumbwaiter, built-in fire hoses, an intercom, elecric call box, a speaking tube and a radiator warming oven. Additional luxuries included a wall-mounted 1895 Spaulding exercise machine and two Italian onyx cold water drinking fountains. The music room was decorated with a hand painted linen border next to the linen ceiling. There was also a game room that featured a billiard table, window seats, oak paneling and a large bank of windows. There were nine bedrooms and they each had a walk-in closet and their won marble sink. It took three years to complete the home. The family moved in around Thanksgiving 1895. *Fun Fact: Teddy Roosevelt stayed at the house.*
Charles would not live long in his dream mansion. Seven years after moving in, he died at the age of 52 from complications of diabetes. He and Lettie had taken a horseback ride out to an area of their property that was a promontory east of the Mansion and Charles told her, "I can think of no more peaceful and lovely spot for a final rest." It would be this spot where she founded the C.E. Conrad Memorial Cemetery in keeping with his desire. A mausoleum was completed in 1908 and Charles was placed inside. There are several members of the Conrad family laid to rest at the cemetery. Lettie remained in the home until her death there as well in 1923. The property then passed on to their youngest child, Alicia Ann Campbell. She remained in the mansion until 1964. She and her husband started having financial problems and they could no longer maintain the home, so they moved into a trailer on the property and just used the mansion for storage. It fell into disrepair and by the 1970s it was in a sad state, overgrown and deteriorating.
Campbell convinced the city of Kalispell to take the mansion and they took it over in 1974. The Conrad Mansion Board of Directors was formed and they gathered groups of volunteers to help restore and maintain the property and by 1976, the Conrad Mansion Museum was open for business and the mansion was on the National Register of Historic Places. Campbell had saved her family's property and today the museum is filled with 90% of the original family furnishings. This includes collections of books and artwork, family firearms, children's toys and dolls and even their clothing dating from the 1880's - 1940's. Tours are given May through October and start at the top of every hour. Occasionally, fun nooks and crannies tours are offered that take guests to areas not regularly seen and they even reveal some of the secret hiding places that family had for valuables, some of which are hidden furniture compartments.
The Conrad Mansion houses more than the family's former furnishings. Spirits of the family seem to have lingered past their deaths. There are three of them in particular here. Both Charles and his wife Lettie died in the home and reputedly haunt it and their daughter Alicia Ann who was the last family member to live in the mansion. Her haunting is peculiar in that she appears as she did when she was a little girl growing up in the house. Experiences run the typical gamut of cold spots, lights flickering off and on and full-bodied apparitions. No one has reported anything threatening. A heartwarming story connected to the mansion was told by Lettie's brother Harry. He had come to the house because she was having trouble breathing and the family thought she was going to die. She sat up when her brother arrived and seemed to be much better. She looked towards a window that faced east and held out her arms as she exclaimed, "Oh Charlie, you came for me." She laid back down and died.
The Montana Paranormal Society has investigated the property as has Blackfoot Paranormal Investigations. The latter posted a video featuring several EVPs they caught while investigating. A former director of the museum was cleaning one afternoon when she had a spooky experience. She was running the sweeper when she saw the resident stray cat named Sweety Pie run up the stairs. She decided to finish vacuuming and then she would chase the cat back down the stairs. Suddenly, the cat came tearing down the stairs. Before the Director could even wonder what was up with the cat, she saw the full-bodied apparition of Alicia Campbell as a little girl come running after the cat. The girl had owned 13 cats when she lived in the mansion. At that point, the Director decided she was done cleaning and she would not return for two days.
There was a gentleman who spent a lot of time painting the mansion during the restoration and he witnessed a rocking chair rock by itself when he was alone in the house. He tried to tell himself it was nothing and compared to what was about to happen to him, it was. He continued painting and then he heard the distinctive sound of boots coming down the hallway. he thought it was odd because no one was suppose to come by the house. He looked up to greet the visitor and saw the semi-transparent figure of a woman, wearing a Victorian style dress with her hair piled up on top of her head. He recognized her from pictures he had seen. It was Lettie Conrad. She stopped at the opening of the door to the room he was painting and looked in at him as though she were inspecting his work. She then continued down the hall, down the stairs and he watched as she headed for the kitchen. He immediately dropped his brushes in the paint bucket without bothering to clean up and ran two steps at a time out the front door. He actually did return to work and never saw anything again.
A mirror in the billiards room has occasionally reflected the image of Charles Conrad smoking a cigar. Alicia has been seen in a room that has pictures of her and she likes to rock in the rocking chair while reading a book. During a holiday bazaar that is hosted at the mansion, vendors have had items move around. Kate's Room has had poltergeist type activity with candles being thrown across the room. The attic has poltergeist activity and workmen repairing the roof saw the apparition of a little girl thought to be Alicia. She waved at them. A tour guide was backing into the attic and bumped into something unseen that prevented her from going further and this was witnessed by her entire tour group.
Executive Director Gennifer Sauter has never experienced anything, but she heard about the tour guide's experience, “One experience that sticks out in my mind was when one of our guides backed up into someone while giving a tour, but when she said ‘Excuse me’ and turned around, no one and nothing was there. We’ve [also] heard many, many reports of a little girl on the third floor. That’s actually a very common one.” Sauter also claims that something sets off the motion alarm frequently at night. A local photographer told Sauter that once time she felt someone running down the stairs next to her and decribed it as resembling excited children running down the stairs on Christmas morning. Sauter added, “It’s kind of neat to think they’re around here and looking out for the place. And neat to think that maybe there’s something beyond.”
Are members of the Conrad family still living in their home after death? Were they so attached to the home and land they loved that they are unable to let go? Is the Conrad Mansion haunted? That is for you to decide!
Saturday, August 5, 2017
Moment in Oddity - Wang the Human Unicorn
Human unicorns have been reported throughout world history. The term describes exactly what you might think. This is a human with a horn growing out of their head. Before 1900, there were over one hundred documented cases of humans growing horns. Elderly females cases were the most prevalent. One human unicorn that was made famous by Robert Ripley was a Chinese farmer named Wang who was from Manchukuo. He was discovered in 1930 by a Russian banker who took a picture of him and sent it to Ripley. The picture showed Wang sporting a fourteen-inch spire-like horn growing from the back of his head. Ripley tried to find Wang and bring him to his Odditorium, but no one could find the man. Ripley even offered a huge cash reward. These horns that grow from human unicorns are not really horns. Most of them are caused by benign calvarial tumours. This is due to an aggressive variant of a condition known as cornu cutaneum. These horns can grow on any part of the body. It was actually very rare for them to just appear on the head. Today, there are nearly no cases of people growing horns because modern medicine stops them before they can become a problem. Humans growing horns from their bodies, certainly is odd!
This Month in History - Anne Frank's Last Diary Entry
In the month of August, on the 1st, in 1944, Anne Frank penned her last entry into her diary. Three days later, a car pulled up outside of a spice warehouse at 263 Prinsengracht in Amsterdam. Inside the car were an Austrian Gestapo officer and some Dutch soldiers. They had come to arrest the eight Jews hiding in the attic of the warehouse. One of those Jews was Anne. In her last entry she had written in part, "I'm afraid that people who know me as I usually am will discover I have another side, a better and finer side. I'm afraid they'll mock me, think I'm ridiculous and sentimental and not take me seriously. I'm used to not being taken seriously, but only the 'lighthearted' Anne is used to it and can put up with it: the 'deeper' Anne is too weak. Believe me, I'd like to listen, but it doesn't work, because if I'm quiet and serious, everyone thinks I'm putting on a new act and I have to save myself with a joke, and then I'm not even talking about my own family, who assume I must be sick, stuff me with aspirins and sedatives, feel my neck and forehead to see if I have a temperature, ask about my bowel movements and berate me for being in a bad mood, until I just can't keep it up anymore, because when everybody starts hovering over me, I get cross, then sad, and finally end up turning my heart inside g out, the bad part on the outside and the good part on the inside, and keep trying to find a way to become what I'd like to be and what I could be if… if only there were no other people in the world." Anne would be taken to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany and die there at the age of 15 from typhus in March of 1945. We'd like to believe that Anne became exactly whom she could be because her diary survived and has sold more than 30 million copies.
Haunted Derby (Suggested by listener Nellie Johnson)
Derby has been described as the "Ghost Capitol of England." The city claims to have 159 known ghosts. The center of the city lies on a series of rolling hills and claims a history that goes back to Roman occupation and forts. While it was once a place of strife and fortification, it became a center for the Industrial Revolution. The vast number of pubs still located in Derby serve as a testament to the value given to public houses for centuries here. And just under the din of the night life are the stories of those things that go bump in the night. Come with us as we do a pub crawl and travel to a gaol and hotels in search of spirits to find out if Derby really is one of the most haunted cities in Britain!
The Derby area was first settled by the Romans. They began to build a series of of forts to protect the boundary of this newly conquered area. One of those forts was across the Derwent River on the east side and they called it Derventio. A civil settlement grew up around the camp and the Romans stayed for over three centuries. The Saxons were the next group to arrive and many historians believe that the Vikings were here at the same time and that both groups co-existed. The Saxons changed the name of the fort to Little Chester and it still has that name today. The name Derby came around this time and is derived from the Danish words deor, which means deer settlement. The settlement grew from a place of fortification to one of trade and by the 10th century it had a mint and a market. The town was filled with blacksmiths, carpenters and comb makers. Derby was about mid-sized with a population of about 2,000 by 1086.
The Domesday survey said of the town, "Derby was a self contained agricultural community grinding it's own corn, fattening it's own livestock, shaping its own crude farm implements, weaving it's own cloth and even catching it's own fish from the Derwent and eels from Sinfin." Domesday also mentions six churches in the region: All Saints, which became Derby Cathedral in 1927, St. Alkmunds, St. Michaels, St. Peters, St. Werburghs and St. Marys. In the early part of the 13th century the Market Place of Derby was a busy commercial center with shops and stalls. The reign of Henry VIII would change things in Derby with the King closing the priory, the leper hostel and the friary in the 1530s. A tower was added to the All Saints church at that time. During Bloody Mary's reign, a woman named Joan Wast was burned for heresy in Derby. Severe outbreaks of plague hit in 1636 and 1665.
The town later became a center of defense with Sir John Gell becoming Governor of Derby in 1643 and he set up a garrison of Parliamentary troops that helped defend Nottingham during the Civil War of 1642–1646. These troops took part in the defense of Lichfield, Hopton Heath, Staffordshire, Cheshire and Derbyshire. Bonnie Prince Charlie would set up his camp in Derby a hundred years later and his council of war room that was at Exeter House has been set up as a replica at the Derby Museum in the city center. From the middle of the 18th century porcelain was made in Derby. Gas began lighting the streets of the town in 1821 and the railway arrived in 1839. A new town hall was constructed in 1842 and a hospital for sick children was opened in 1877, followed by the Derby School of Art in 1878 and a public library and museum was built in 1879. Electric lights were switched on in 1894 and railway engines workshops employed much of the population. Derby would be awarded city status by Queen Elizabeth II on June 7, 1977. It was one of the few towns that still did not have city status up until then even though it had a cathedral. Today, Derby is a city full of historical buildings and also apparently full of ghosts.
Most of the paranormal activity in the city occurs in buildings situated alongside the old A6. There are reputedly ley lines here and some claim it is the psychic energy of these lines that draws spirits. Richard Felix is a leading paranormal researcher in the area and he thinks there is another reason why there are so many hauntings here. He said, "So many things have happened, so many people have passed though, so much energy has been expelled here We have the last hanging, drawing and quartering in England and the only Peer to be hanged for murder." A woman named Jenny Richards owns a terrace house on the outer edge of Derby. She is certain that she and her son share a home with the ghost of an old man. She has been touched by him and her son has seen him. There are several private homes that are haunted, but some of the most haunted places in Derby are its pubs. Pubs have always been plentiful and popular in the town. It is said that in 1588 there was one Ale House to every forty people and by 1688 one ale house to every thirty people. By 1633, Derby had an estimated population of 85,574 and around 541 pubs.
The Fat Cat
The Fat Cat Pub used to be called Tonic. It is spread over two floors and stands over what is believed to be a former stable. The haunting connected to this pub is on the outside where a few witnesses claim to have heard the sounds of horses and actually seen the apparition of a man trying to catch a horse. A ghostly horse and carriage has been seen making its way past on Friar Gate.
Seymours Bar is known for being a small cozy place with an indie music jukebox. There is a large outdoor drinking area adjacent to St. Werbergs churchyard. And that may just be the problem for this little bar because it reportedly is haunted. Employees claim that the spirit of a friendly elderly woman dressed in grey haunts this pub. The smell of lavender accompanies her presence. There are reports of mild poltergeist behaviour that involve the disappearance of small items, that generally show up again a few days later.
The Silk Mill Ale & Cider House
The Silk Mill Ale & Cider House was built in 1928 to replace an older pub that had the same name. It looks similar to the Olde Dolphin Pub with a Tudor style. The Silk Mill name was inspired by a nearby iconic Industrial Revolution mill where silk was first spun on John Lombe's factory system in 1722. That Silk Mill is said to be haunted by a young boy worker who was kicked down the stairs for not working hard enough. This Silk Mill pub features three areas: a central bar, a dining area at the rear and the Offilers' Lounge through an arched opening to the right of the bar. The pub is said to be haunted by the ghost of a Jacobite who was billeted there in the 18th century.
Seven Stars Pub
The Seven Stars Pub is very old and is known to locals as “Seven Seats.” The resident ghost here is known as George. He used to manifest as a shadow figure in the attic, but now is heard as a whispered cacophony of disembodied voices and he manifests with poltergeist activity . He switches off the lights and beer taps. There was a mysterious well found under the pub in the 1960s and some wonder if this is where George's spirit has come from. Did he perhaps fall into this well?
Falstaff Public House
The Falstaff Public House is a smaller and quieter bar tucked back off Silverhill Road. It was formerly the Falstaff Hotel and looks like a hotel still being that it is two story and rather big for a pub. It is built from red brick and has several fireplaces. There are three separate rooms: a cozy snug, a small yard with an impressive modern sculpture and the main bar. The pub is full of Offilers' Brewery memorabilia and other artifacts.This pub claims to be haunted by four separate ghosts; a young boy, an ex-landlord, an Irish prize-winning bare knuckle fighter and a sergeant-major. These apparitions are seen full-bodied, but there are other paranormal occurrences that entail lights turning off and on by themselves and objects moving about the bar unassisted.
Jorrock's, the former Lafferty's Pub, was featured on the UK series Most Haunted during the second season. The pub had previously been the George Inn. The George Inn was one of the most famous coaching inns in Derby and was built in 1693. During the 1745 uprising, the inn housed the Duke of Devonshire's headquarters. A skull dating back to 917 was found on the property. A poltergiest plays havoc here with drinks, moving them around and dumping them out on the floor.
Ye Olde Dolphin Pub
The Ye Olde Dolphin stands at the junction of Queens and Full Streets. The Tudor style building was erected in 1530 and that makes this Derby's oldest public house. The Dolphin brewed its own ale early on, but no longer does that today. There are four separate rooms that make up the pub including the Main Bar, the Offilers Bar or Offilers Brewery, the Lounge bar that is covered in oak and has an open hearth and the "Snug," which is described as a room that "has a warmth and character of its own, many conversations and debates have been had in this quirky little gem of a room and in winter there is no better place when the coal fire is at full blaze." Years ago the cellar of the Dolphin was used as a mortuary to keep the bodies of those executed by hanging in the market place. Another legend claims that stolen bodies were kept here by a physician, so he could practice dissection. For this reason, it is said that the cellar is haunted by the spirits of some of these people. The resident ghost here is known as the Grey Lady or the Blue Lady and the current landlord, Jim Harris, has seen her himself. It is thought that she was the mistress of Dick Turpin. The Flying Scotsman is suppose to be one of the ghosts here and there is a small girl spirit that sits on the stairs leading up to the restaurant.
Another legend connected to the cellar has led to it being called "The Vault of Terror." A young doctor wanted to practice his dissection skills in the 18th century and the cellar was the perfect place. He secretly had the body of a dead girl delivered in the dead of night. There was just one problem. The young woman was not dead. He had begun to cut open her abdomen to remove her entrails when her eyes snapped open and she leapt up from the table screaming. She tried to return her intestines to the inside of her body, but she soon lost consciousness and died from loss of blood. It is said that this drove the doctor mad and his hair turned white. He was locked up in an asylum for the rest of his days. They say the agonized, horrified screams of the girl can still be heard in the dead of night just below the lounge. The pub features Medium Nights on occasion for those wishing to talk with the spirits here.
The Friary Pub opened in 1996 and is located near Friargate and also houses a late night music venue named Scream. The building was originally the Friary Hotel that had been opened by the Whittaker family in 1922 and features a grand pillared entrance. Before the hotel, this was the residence of Samuel Crompton and was built in 1730 using many of the bricks of the building that was here before that, a Dominican friary. That friary had been founded in the 13th century. It was called the Black Friary because the monks there wore black robes. The monks here did not believe in seclusion and actually went out to the people to preach. Legend claims that a black-robed friar haunts the pub’s basement. One of the monks died from a serious illness in 1257 and the circumstances of his passing were odd. His name was Frate Ruffolo and while he was given last rites and the holy sacraments, he cloased his eyes and smiled and exclaimed, "The glorious King St. Edmund has entered his cell and the whole chamber is filled with angelic spirits...the Virgin Mary, our great and blessed Lady, has come." Apparently he saw Jesus Christ who had come to judge him and Frate Ruffolo screamed in mortal agony, while breaking out in a powerful sweat and shaking from head to foot. He then said,"It is true, O my Jesus, pardon that offense, for it was slight." and then he finally died after exclaiming, "Assuredly, He (Jesus) is merciful, and I have tasted of His mercy." Could this be the monk roaming the rooms here? Another headless monk has been seen as an apparition as well. The former friary burial ground was on this property at one time and bones were recovered during rebuilds. Henry Mosley owned the hotel in the nineteenth century and he committed suicide by shooting himself. His unhappy spirit has apparently been spotted in the bedrooms upstairs.
Derby's Guildhall and Tiger Bar
The entrance to the Tiger Bar is very simple. The name Tiger Bar on a green background with the words, "Good food served daily." It's a standard old coaching inn, but the location is unique. The pub is situated in Lock-Up Yard and if one walks through to a back room of the bar, they can access a network of tunnels that run beneath Derby’s Guildhall that were once used to transport prisoners between the police station and the courts. Only part of the tunnels can be accessed today, but apparently they snake out beneath large portions of the city. One of the ghosts that apparently haunts the tunnels belongs to a twelve-year-old boy who is seen wearing rags for clothes. Workmen first spotted him in the 1970s and when they asked what he was doing down there he answered, "I live here." No one knows for sure what the story is behind this apparition. Another spirit belongs to a condemned prisoner named Richard Thorley. He was sentenced to die after slitting his girlfriend's throat in a rage. He was the last public execution in Derby and that took place in 1862. He is not only seen in the tunnels, but on Asgard Street as a chained man and his victim is sometimes seen with him, wearing a blue dress. Alice Wheeldon was an anti-war campaigner and she was convicted of trying to kill Prime Minster David Lloyd George in 1917. Some say she was unjustly convicted, so perhaps that is why she haunts these tunnels as well. One of the guides that takes people into the tunnels is paranormal investigator Richard Felix, whom some of you may know from the UK's Most Haunted television program. He runs the ghost walks in town and also owns the Derby Gaol Museum.
The first order to build a gaol in Derby came in 1166, but it was not followed through with because it was deemed unnecessary since most prisoners were taken to Nottingham Castle and judged there. When Henry VIII cam to power, he put out another order for a Gaol and so one was erected across the width of the Cornmarket. It was not a great location as the prisoner cells were built level with Markeaton Brook, which ran alongside the Gaol and served as Derby's sewer. The foul smell and deaths due to disease forced officials to move the Gaol to a new location. They chose Nun's Green outside of town to the west. It seemed perfect since this was the execution grounds. Architect William Hirons designed the structure and much of the stone from the original gaol was used to build the new one. Derby Gaol opened in 1756 with room for 29 prisoners. As you can already guess, this would not be nearly enough room.
The law of Derby was called the Bloody Code and included everything from murder and treason to stealing to being seen on the street with a sooty face. Executions were carried out at the gaol. Jeremiah Brandreth, Isaac Ludlam and William Turner were some of the first to be executed for High Treason. Their sentence was to be Hanged, Drawn and Quartered. This was the last time an axe was used to behead in Derby. The next group of men accused of High Treason were the Cato Street Men - Arthur Thistlewood, John Thomas Brunt, Richard Tidd, James Ings and William Davidson - and their sentence was to commuted hanging and beheading only and this was done by knife by a surgeon. We all know that in our past human history of public executions, such events became a family affair for entertainment. Pack a picnic and watch an execution. It was the same in Derby, only things got far more gruesome and morbid. The law declared that after hanging “the body shall be given over to the surgeons for dissection and a body shall not be suffered to be buried until it has been dissected or anatomised.” So basically, mom, dad and the kids would watch the hanging and then follow the criminals body that was being carried in a cart to Shire Hall in St. Mary’s Gate, where they then could watch the dissection. The mutilated body would then be put on public display for a couple of days in hopes that it would prevent further crime.
Prison cells were never cleaned out at the Gaol and became quite rank. Any prisoners not sentenced to die were allowed to roam the corridors and most did to avoid their noxious cells. John Howard instituted prion reform in 1787 and the Gaol was cleaned up. There were many attempts for escape, but few were successful and the punishment if you were caught was harsh. You would be sentenced to be hanged. Because of the horrid conditions and the amount of death that the Derby Gaol housed, it now seems to be haunted and many say that it is the most haunted location in Derby.
Richard Felix himself has had numerous experiences since he bought the gaol. He witnessed a human-like grey misty form walk down a corridor past him and then it disappeared at the end of the hall. During renovations, a construction worker claimed that a cell door closed by itself while he was working in the cell and while he worked in the cell, he was overcome by nauseous several times. This same cell has made numerous investigators and visitors sick. Another visitor saw the horrific vision of two men hanging from a fixed beam inside of a cell. The Derby Gaol website reports an experience two women had, "Two ladies on one occasion, left the Gaol in tears clutching their throats and feeling unable to breathe. The had felt that 'something' was around their neck. On the way out of the Gaol, they passed a figure standing by the door, whom they incorrectly assumed was an actor. He was bald and was wearing a sleeveless leather outfit which the ladies described as looking like a bodywarmer type garment. This same figure has also been seen in the dayroom, quite disturbing one of the female eyewitnesses who described it as 'evil' and 'a murderer'."
A female ghost was seen in the Gaol when it served as a pub called "The Secret Place." Three men saw her apparition walk down a corridor and up some stairs and when they followed her, they found that she had disappeared. They opened the door that they thought she had gone out and a fresh blanket of snow revealed no footprints. Another visitor saw the body of someone hanging in a doorway and he figured it was a fake scare that had been installed. When he mentioned it to the people around him, they gave him a strange look because none of them saw a body hanging anywhere. Poltergiest activity is prevalent with articles flying through the air or moving and artifacts from the museum go missing, only to return a couple months later. Cell doors are heard opening and closing on their own all the time. Other specters that have been seen are two children, a young blonde woman lying on a bed in one of the cells, a man in a scarlet coat and shadow figures.
Pickford House Museum
Joseph Pickford was an architect who built his home in Derby in 1770. Today it is run by the Derby Museums Trust as the Pickford's House Museum. It is a Georgian styled house built from red brick. Most homes that Pickford designed were in the Palladian style and many of his clients belonged to the Lunar Society, which was a group of prominent and intellectual men who met each month on the night of the full moon. Pickford left the home to Reverend Joseph Pickford and he extended and divided it into two properties. The house went through a series of owners until the Derby City Council bought it in 1982. The museum is decorated as it might have appeared in the early 1800s. *Fun Fact: It houses a collection of toy theaters.* There are three ghosts reputedly here. One is believed to belong to one of the Pickford children who is seen dancing in the house. The other two are servants, a woman who is seen in the kitchen and a gardener who is seen walking along the lawns he once worked so hard on.
As we mentioned, a city was not considered a city without a cathedral. During the late 19th and early 20th century, England began transforming churches into cathedrals. The All Saints Church in Derby became Derby Cathedral in 1927. The church was originally founded in 943 AD by King Edmund. Throughout the years it was rebuilt and added to with King Henry VIII adding the 212 foot tower during his reign. The church was demolished in 1723, leaving only the tower and then rebuilt under the design of James Gibbs. The new church featured memorial carvings and ornate wrought iron screens. Something else seems to have been added to the cathedral and that is hauntings. Many spirits have been seen in the vicinity of Derby Cathedral. One spectre belongs to Charles Edward Stuart. He has been seen wearing Jacobite clothing and entering the cathedral. Bonnie Prince Charlie reputedly haunts the premises. We have our infamous "Lady in White" here and she appears to be crying and walks the stairs at the back of the building.
The Old Bell Hotel
The Old Bell Hotel was originally a coaching inn built around 1650 making this Derby's oldest hotel, bar and restaurant. It was the main stop over for people traveling by coach through the country. At the time, there were 50 guest rooms. The Old Bell Hotel is believed to be haunted by several ghosts. One of the most famous spirits belongs to a former linen maid named Mabel. Linen maids stripped beds, washed the sheets and then remade the beds. She had taken up with a young man in town and became pregnant. He was taken off to fight in a war and was killed. She was so distraught upon hearing of his death that she hanged herself in Room 6. Her ghost has been witnessed in the bar area and in Room 6. Guests have come back to their room to find their clothes neatly folded at the bottom of their beds and when they inquire if a member of the staff has done this, no one claims to have done it and the management is said to tell guests that the staff are lazy and would never do such a thing. A staff member claims to have caught Mabel's apparition in a photo.
People are not sure if Mabel is the poltergeist that is experienced in the dining room or if someone else is haunting the restaurant. One waitress claimed that after she set the tables in the restaurant, something moved the silverware into a different order. A barmaid was once hit on the back of her head by a wooden coat hanger when no one else was anywhere near her. Another upstairs room is haunted by a servant girl who appears when children are present. It is thought she was murdered by the Jacobites in 1745. She is seen dressed in 18th century clothing with a white cap. Another sighting of this woman was in the 1930s by a landlord whose son was suffering an asthma attack and was choking. He ran into the boys room and discovered a lady dressed in an 18th century costume bending his son over and patting him on the back. As the boy's father took over, the mysterious figure simply vanished before his eyes. And again in the 1950s, this same woman was seen standing over a baby in this same room that was being used as a nursery. The mother thought she was going to pick up the baby and she rushed over only to watch the spirit fade away.
There are so many places in Derby that are said to be haunted. Is there really a division of Roman troops still marching along Chester Green? Does PC Joseph Moss, the first police officer killed in Derby, haunt the Fish Market that stands over the former police station where he served? Does a ghost sporting a long black overcoat walk between the walls of a McDonald's and Foot Locker on St. Peter's Street? Are any of the previous locations we covered in this episode haunted? Is Derby really one of the most haunted city's in Britain? That is for you to decide!
Sunday, July 30, 2017
Moment in Oddity - Mysterious Sinkholes of Mt. Baldy
We know sinkholes in Florida. Every so often, a piece of the Earth just opens up here and swallows houses and not long ago a whole resort high-rise fell into a sinkhole about 5 miles from our house. But Florida is not the only state plagued with these mysterious sinkholes. On the south side of Lake Michigan, in Indiana, one can find the "wandering dune" that rises over 100 feet. The dune is techniquely known as Mt. Baldy and tourists flock to it for the wonderful view of the Chicago skyline. Years of tourists treading over the grass that held the sand in place had trampled the grass and it no longer kept the dune from traveling. Quickly, the sand started moving and it was heading for the park’s parking lot. The park service closed the dune and replanted grass. Before the grass could firmly root, a six year old boy was walking on a part of the dune when he completely disappeared in 2013. It was quickly surmised that the dune had somehow swallowed the boy. It took three hours to locate and rescue the boy alive. Scientists were fascinated and decided to study what had happened because this was no ordinary sinkhole. Most sinkholes have some kind of water at their base that washes away that base causing the dirt to cave. This sinkhole had no water. Geologists tried everything to figure out what caused the phenomenon and were shocked when two more sinkholes opened up. Up to this date in 2017, the bizarre sinkholes remain a mystery and that certainly is odd!
This Month in History - The Bonus Marchers Evicted and Shanty Town Burned
In the month of July, on the 28th, in 1932, the Bonus March eviction in Washington, D.C. occurred. The Bonus March was led by General Douglas MacArthur, Major Dwight D. Eisenhower and Major George S. Patton. Six years after the end of World War I Congress enacted a bill to benefit the men who had served and survived during the war, but incomprehensibly the bill made the payout available in 1945. Many of these veterans were understandably upset, but the 1920s were prosperous and they made due. Then the Great Depression hit and these veterans became desperate and they needed that bonus money. The men organized a march of 15,000 on Washington, D.C. in May of 1932 and they called themselves the "Bonus Expeditionary Force." They did more than march. They decided to stay until they were paid and they built a shanty town out of scrap wood and iron. The House put forward a bill to give the Bonus Marchers their benefit, but the Senate voted against it. Congress then adjourned, but the marchers stayed. On July 28th, President Herbert Hoover ordered a force of tanks and cavalry under the command of General MacArthur to disperse the marchers and destroy their camp. The veterans were driven out and the shanty town was burned. The veterans would finally get their pay in 1936, nine years early, after Congress overrode a veto by President Franklin Roosevelt.
Legends of the Balkans (Suggested by listener Chris Klimovitz)
The Balkans historically has been a place of violence and for this reason, its borders are very fluid. The main countries that generally are accepted as a part of the Balkans are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Serbia, Kosovo, Romania, Macedonia and parts of Greece, Turkey, Italy and Hungary. This Peninsula of land is named for the Balkan Mountains, which in Turkish means "a chain of wooded mountains." The superstitions and legends of the region are rich. The legends that people are most familiar with from this region are those regarding vampires, but there is so much more here. Our listener Chris Klimovitz, who has been living in Albania, returns to the podcast to share his first-hand accounts of the legends surrounding cemeteries, witches and ghost in the Balkans.
After listening to Chris, it is clear that people living in the Balkan Peninsula are still a very superstitious people. Is there some truth behind these legends? Are there hexes and can the Evil Eye protect you? What of cemeteries? Should we be careful about pointing at tombstones? How do you feel about these legends? That is for you to decide!
Chris provided us with the following pictures from the area of Albania where he is living. He wrote, "These are some photographs from the old Byzantine era churches that date back to the 1200-1300s. All the pictures are from the neighboring villages to Peshkopi, Dibër County, Albania. The village is named Kerçisht. Over time the church and graves have been relatively abandoned but are starting to get some TLC. These churches are the ones that are said to protect the Korabi region of where I live in Albania. The hillside oversees the border between Albania and Macedonia and valley in the one picture is said to be part of where vampiric ghosts and witches abode. The people that live in this region take superstition seriously and the churches while enigmatic are respected. The graves are of old ethnic Macedonians and Bulgarians from the time of the Ottoman Empire and after Albania's independence in 1912. It is also said that a battle occurred here during the Byzantine empire and some of the knights are still buried around here, as well as some gold. War did occur here for certain, between ethnic Albanians and the Ottoman forces in the mid/late-1800s, and during the two World Wars.
Monday, July 24, 2017
Moment in Oddity - Man in Black Ghost Warns of Austin Dam Break
In the town of Austin, Pennsylvania, the Bayless Pulp & Paper Mill built a dam in 1909 to help power their facility. The dam was built across the Freeman Run in a very shoddy manner. It should have been at least 30 feet thick, but to cut costs, the company made it only 20 feet thick. The dam quickly bowed under the weight of water. In 1910, a strange man in black started appearing at the railroad depot in Austin. He looked so strange that railroad workers took to calling him a ghost. He was very tall, dressed all in black and would appear and disappear mysteriously. He was said to crawl between cars and run over the tops of them. Soon the townspeople were all talking about the Austin ghost as well. Then on September 30, 1911, the Austin Dam broke, killing at least 78 people. The Honesdale Citizen wrote in an article that published on October 9, 1912, "About a year after the arrival of the ghost, the huge dam broke, with the awful result that will always be remembered by those who witnessed the horrible scenes. In their great misfortune, following the flood, the Austin people who fortunately escaped with nothing valuable but their lives, forgot about a little thing like a ghost; and the ghost must have been scared out by the dam talk or lost its life in the flood." Was the Man in Black truly a ghost and was he a portend of coming disaster like the Mothman and the Gray Man? Or was this just a sneaky transient hanging out in the railroad cars who was indeed killed in the great flood? We will never know, but one thing is for sure, his timing certainly was odd!
This Month in History - Modern Bikini Introduced to Public
In the month of July, on the 5th, in 1946, the modern day bikini was introduced by French engineer Louis Réard at Piscine Molitor, a popular swimming pool in Paris. Micheline Bernardini modeled the bikini, which got its name from the Bikini Atoll, where post-war testing on the atomic bomb occurred. Bikini- like garments had been worn by women in antiquity, but such swim wear was considered risque in the 1940s. French women loved the design, but much of the public and religious organizations found the outfit to be scandalous. The bikini finally gained some traction when contestants in the first Miss World beauty pageant wore them in 1951. Actress Brigitte Bardot wore one on the beach at the Cannes Film Festival in 1953 and based on the attention she received, more actresses took to being photographed in bikinis. It eventually caught on and is, of course, wildly popular today. French fashion historian Olivier Saillard remarked that the bikini became popular because of "the power of women, and not the power of fashion."
Manhattanville College (Suggested by listener Bailey Pollack)
Manhattanville College is a small liberal arts college in New York. The college began as a Catholic women's school, but through the years it not only moved from its original location, but moved to co-education. The land where it sits today in Purchase has European settlers arriving as far back as the 1600s. The main point of interest on the campus is the original castle-like mansion known as Reid Hall. The structure induces shudders and is home for legends and a really creepy picture of some children. There are tales of ghostly nuns, cold spots, weird music and truly terrifying presences on the campus. Join us and our listener Bailey Pollack as we explore the history and hauntings of Manhattanville College!
The history of the campus dates back to the 1600s when the Siwanoy Tribe lived here under Chief Shanarocke. He sold the patch of land to John Budd of Long Island who built a gristmill on the eastern end of the plot. No official claim was filed with the government, so in 1695 a Native American named Pathungo reclaimed the land. he later sold it to John Harrison with the caveat that he could still harvest the whitewood trees on the land for canoe building. The area was known as "Harrison's Purchase" after that time. Quakers settled the plot in 1724. Today, the hamlet is named Purchase and it is part of the town of Harrison. *Fun fact: The Pepsi headquarters in Purchase is on the former Blind Brook Polo Club and Amelia Earhart flew her plane from the polo grounds.*
Ben Holladay was a business tycoon who co-owned the Ophir Silver Mine in Virginia City, Nevada and had invested in the Pony Express and Overland Express Coaches. He decided to build his mansion in 1864 on the land of the future campus and he so loved the West that he had bison shipped in from Wyoming and elk from Colorado. Wild flowers and trees from the West were planted and the stream was stocked with trout. People took to calling the estate "Buffalo Park," although Holladay had named it Ophir Park. Holladay built a chapel on the grounds in the Norman Gothic style for his wife's family and that chapel still stands today in the Ohnell Environmental Park on campus. The year 1873 brought tragedy in two ways. Ann died and Holladay lost his fortune in the Silver Panic that year.
John Roach owned Ophir Park for a little over three years, but did nothing with it, so the owner of the New York Tribune, Whitelaw Reid, bought it in 1888. He and his wife Elisabeth filled the mansion with the latest advances in technology, which included a telephone and electric wiring. Frederick Law Olmsted was hired for the landscape design. A month before the Reids moved into the mansion, a fire completely gutted the home. They were undeterred and decided to build on a grander scale using stone quarried from the property. The mansion was finished in 1892 and renamed Ophir Hall. The reception hall was covered in yellow Numidian African and Georgian pink marbles. There was a beautiful stained glass window above the front staircase and furniture from the country estate of a member of the house of Napoleon III was shipped from France. Further inside the home came an English style design in both Elizabethan and Renaissance.
Whitelaw Reid was away from the estate for much of the time he owned it, working as an ambassador and also running as vice president of the United States. He died in 1912 before a new wing that was being built was completed. In 1931, Mrs. Reid died and the doors of Ophir Hall were closed. The estate was gorgeous and filled with wonderful things, so it was a very sad time for the property. Their son, Ogden, died in 1947 and much of the estate was placed on the market. The local board fought about what to do with the property, but they were positive that they would not allow it to be turned into a shopping center. Soon it would become home for Manhattanville College.
The Academy of the Sacred Heart was founded as a Catholic boarding school for girls in 1841. Its first home was a three-story house on Houston Street on Manhattan's Lower East Side. In 1847, the academy relocated to an area north of New York City, near the village of Manhattanville. In 1917,the academy was chartered as a college and it took on the name Manhattanville College because of the village there. Two hundred and fifty acres of the Reid estate were purchased by Manhattanville in July of 1949 and the college was relocated. In less than a year and a half, everything was transferred and new buildings were built. The campus has around thirteen buildings in total. There is the Benzinger Dining Hall, Kennedy Gym, Founders Dormitory, Brownson Hall/Music Building, the library, Spellman Hall, O'Byrne Chapel, Dammann and Tenney Dorms, faculty housing, Berman Center and the Reid Castle became the administrative building.
Benzinger Hall was under construction during the Korean War and so the use of steel in building was heavily restricted. The college had to go to another plan and they ended up using prestressed concrete girders, which had only been used to build pressure pipes and bridges before. This worked so well that prestressed concrete girders became commonplace in construction. In 1971, the college became co-educational. Right before that, the Reid mansion was named Reid Hall and by 1974, it was on the National Register of Historic Places. The college has thrived and graduated thousands of students. It also has a reputation for being haunted.
Lauren Ziarko is Manhattanville’s Archivist, and she says that most of the stories and legends are just that, a bunch of stories with no historical fact. She said, “Unfortunately there is no truth to them, there have been no mysterious crimes, murders, sightings, etc. in the castle history. It is just spooky rumors that students like to pass on.” That being said, a campus security officer named Rich Biscardi told the following story, "Several years ago when the Manhattanville Cheerleading team was practicing in the West room, after practice, the girls all went to grab their phones and watches and realized that all of their time pieces had frozen, like time literally stopped until they left the west room.”
A freshman was walking on campus late one night and was passing the old small chapel behind the college and claimed, “I heard weird country music. I was really curious so I ventured inside. There was a buzz sound and then the music went back to normal. There was no one in there.” There are reports that nuns haunt the cemetery where they are buried and one nun in particular haunts Spellamn Hall. “It was three in the morning when someone tried to barge into the room. It was a strong force trying to open the door,” a resident reported. She said it was terrifying and many people believe the nun was just making her nightly rounds to check on the children.
A freshman had a scary experience at the graveyard: “I was walking by the grave yard late at night when something in the bushes kept following me. I looked around and nothing was there. But it felt real and scary.” She tried to take several photos, but all of them came out blurry. Another student took a picture in the graveyard a few years ago and to his surprise a figure appeared in the background.
Is Manhattanville College haunted? That is for you to decide!
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Moment in Oddity - The Taos Hum
Taos, New Mexico is nestled in the middle of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. The city has a long history that is culturally and spiritually rich. Many claim that the town itself is quite mystical and one of the features that backs up this claim is a phenomenon known as the "Taos Hum." Some even call this the "mountain song." Ancient lore from the area claims that the land itself is creating the sound as a way to reset the pattern of harmony like a harmonic convergence. Waterfalls cascade down the peak of El Salto and tribal peoples have considered it to be a holy mountain offering its singing waters. Caves behind the waterfalls catch the noise of the cascading water and then echo that sound. A famous healer known as Giovanni Maria Agostini Justiniani visited El Salto in the 1800s and he wrote that he heard the singing waters of the mountain and this included seven distinct notes on the musical scale. Only about 2% of the population can detect the low frequency humming sound and for those who don't believe that the mountain is singing, there are a variety of explanations put forward that include it being residue from secret experiments at nearby Los Alamos, New Mexico, electromagnetic vibrations emitted by Taos Mountain, alien spacecraft or top secret military planes. Whatever is causing it, people who can hear it either claim that it gives them peace or drives them nuts by disturbing sleep and causing headaches and nosebleeds. In 1993, some of the most prestigious research institutes in the nation sent scientists to figure out what was causing the noise. Despite all those big brains and state-of-the-art equipment, they were unable to find the source of the noise and that, certainly is odd!
This Month in History - Ida B. Wells Born
In the month of July, on the 16th, in 1862, Ida B. Wells was born to slaves in Holly Springs, Mississippi. Wells was a fearless anti-lynching crusader, suffragist, women's rights advocate, journalist, and speaker. When she was only 14 years-old, her parents and a sibling were killed by a Yellow Fever epidemic. She took over responsibility for raising her remaining five siblings by becoming a teacher. She managed to attend Rust College and she moved to Memphis to help an aunt finish raising her youngest sisters. It would be in the city of Memphis where her fight for gender and racial justice would begin and the scene would be aboard a train. Long before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus, Ida did so on a train in 1884. Plessy v. Ferguson had not yet happened, but racial segregation was already taking place. And even though the Civil Rights Act became law in 1875 and banned discrimination on the basis of race, creed, or color, in theaters, hotels and public transportation, railroad companies were racially segregating their cars. Wells was sitting in the ladies car when a white man came up to her and demanded that she give her seat to him. She refused, so the conductor came and told her to move to the crowded smoking car, which was where black passengers were forced to ride. Wells describes what happened in her own words, "I refused, saying that the forward car [closest to the locomotive] was a smoker, and as I was in the ladies' car, I proposed to stay. . . [The conductor] tried to drag me out of the seat, but the moment he caught hold of my arm I fastened my teeth in the back of his hand. I had braced my feet against the seat in front and was holding to the back, and as he had already been badly bitten he didn't try it again by himself. He went forward and got the baggageman and another man to help him and of course they succeeded in dragging me out." Wells was kicked off the train and she hired an attorney to sue the railroad. She won at first, but an appeal at the Supreme Court overturned the ruling. After that, she worked tirelessly to overturn injustices against women and people of color. She died on March 25, 1931 and is buried at Oak Woods Cemetery in Chicago.
Preston Castle (Suggested by listener Pam Ennis)
Perched on a hill above the town of Ione in California is a menacing and haunting castle-like structure that once was a reform school. The Preston Castle was an ambitious plan to get juvenile deliquents to become contributing members of the community. But as was the case with so many of these types of places that were built in the late 1800s and run through the early 1900s, abuse, overcrowding and death were commonplace. The emotional residue of this location seems to have led to haunting experiences. Pam Ennis, Case Manger for Pacific Coast Spirit Watch, joins us to share the history and some of her paranormal experiences at Preston Castle.
This area was inhabited by the Sierra Miwok People originally. They are a hunter/gatherer group that are known for their basket construction. Coyote is their ancestor and creator god and the Miwok are said to have the most extensive record of legends and myths of all native peoples in California. Ione was founded when the Gold Rush brought miners and explorers to California. The town became a supply center and miners dubbed it Bedbug. No one is sure exactly how it got the name Ione, but the most common tale that is told is that a prospector Thomas Brown named it around 1849 after one of the heroines in Edward Bulwer-Lytton's drama "The Last Days of Pompeii." Even after the gold rush was over, the town continued to grow and prosper.
The land where Preston Castle sits was once owned by the Ione Coal & Iron Company. They donated 100 acres of the original 230 acre parcel to the Preston School of Industry that was established by the California Legislature. The rest of the land was sold for $30 per acre. The cornerstone of the main administrative building was laid on December 23, 1890. The architecture is done in the Romanesque Revival style and sandstone bricks made at San Quentin and Folsom prisons were used in the construction. When completed, there were over seventy rooms that included dorms, a dining room, laundry, kitchen, pantry, furnace room, storerooms, reading room, library, a school room and bathrooms.
On June 13, 1894, the first wards were accepted at the Preston School of Industry, but the official open was on July 1, 1894. The next year, a water wheel called a Pelton Wheel was installed and the building had electricity. The Preston School of Industry closed in 1960 and the building remained vacant and falling into disrepair until 2001. The Preston Castle Foundation received a fifty-year lease for the property at that time and then ownership in 2014. The Preston Castle has also been named a California State Historical Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
During the time it was open, abuse and death occurred. Forms of punishment ranged from loss of privileges to isolation to starvation to public paddling and lashings. There are 17 men buried in the cemetery on the property. Most died from diseases like Yellow Fever and Consumption, but one was shot during an escape attempt. Samuel Goins was a convicted burglar and he arrived at Preston School in July 1918. He tried to escape several times and it was during his third attempt that Preston guard John Kelly shot Samuel in the back. A female died on the property and her name was Anna Corbin. She was the head housekeeper and her body was found raped and beaten to death in the basement.
The Preston Castle not only looks creepy, it has some haunting stories connected to it. There are reports of slamming doors, cold spots and full-bodied apparitions. EVPs and disembodied screams have been recorded as well. The spirit of the murdered Anna Corbin is one of the most often seen at Preston Castle. The cemetery is reputedly haunted and much of the activity in the building are thought to be mostly residual.
Preston Castle has a bleak history that has left a psychical residue that seems to feed the supernatural. Or is it just human nature for us to enter a dark and old building and feel as though spirits are at unrest? Is Preston Castle haunted? That is for you to decide!
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Moment in Oddity - Timothy Smith's Window Grave
One will find a very unique grave inside Evergreen Cemetery in New Haven, Vermont. This burial reflects the very real fear people had of being buried alive decades ago. Premature burials were not terribly common, but happened often enough that measures were put into place to help prevent anyone from dying because they were not quite dead when they were buried. These measures included waiting a few days before burial, guards at cemeteries listening for signs of life, safety coffins and other creative means. William Tebb wrote "Premature Burial and How it May be Prevented" in 1905 and he compiled 219 cases of near premature burial, 149 cases of actual premature burial, 10 cases of bodies accidentally dissected before death and 2 cases where embalming was started on the not-yet-dead. Timothy Clark Smith was a schoolteacher, merchant, a clerk for the Treasury Department and a staff surgeon in the Russian Army. He had a fear of catching sleep sickness, which would give the illusion of death and then that he would be buried alive. He died on Halloween in 1893 at the Logan House in Middlebury, Vermont. He left instructions for his burial. Those instructions requested that a square of glass be placed in the ground that lead straight down to Dr. Smith's face. This way, if he woke up, people would see him struggling. That glass remains over his grave, although it is clouded by mildew and water now. A man buried with a window to the sky just in case he was buried alive, certainly is odd!
This Month in History - The Riot Act in Britain
In the month of July, on the 20th, in 1715, the Riot Act took effect in Britain. The formal Act read, "An act for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies, and for the more speedy and effectual punishing the rioters." The act was enacted to prevent unruly crowds from gathering. If a group of twelve or more people gathered and were causing a disturbance, someone in authority, like the Magistrate, was required to command silence and read the following, "Our sovereign Lord the King chargeth and commandeth all persons, being assembled, immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations, or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the act made in the first year of King George, for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies. God save the king." Any persons who failed to obey within one hour were to be arrested. While this seems a bit silly to us today with the violence that is usually associated with modern day riots, people in the 1700s thought it was a bit harsh. But England had real reason to worry about mobs gathering. The English government was worried that Jacobite mobs would rise up and overthrow the Hanoverian George I. The fear was well-founded, as supporters of the deposed Stuarts did actually invade in 1715 and again in 1745. And yes, the phrase "Reading the Riot Act" was inspired by this law.
Haunted Cemeteries 2
There is one absolute for all human beings and that is that we all will die. Throughout history, humans have disposed of and honored their dead in various ways. Burying the dead and marking their resting place has been the most popular and it has carried over to our modern era. Cemeteries have become a record of history for towns. Who lived here? When did they die? Why did they die? Was there a plague, a war, a natural disaster that devastated the population? Some of the interred at times wander from their resting places. There are tales of specters roaming about the tombstones in certain graveyards. Weird lights and mists have been photographed. On this episode, we have four cemeteries that seem to have unexplained activity. Those cemeteries are the Silver Terrace Cemetery in Virginia City, Nevada, which is actually divided into eleven separate cemeteries, Union Cemetery in Easton, Connecticut, Old Quaker Cemetery in Camden, South Carolina and Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. The combined histories of these graveyards covers the 1600s, 1700s and 1800s. Every class is found in these cemeteries and each has its own legends and hauntings. Join us as we bring you Haunted Cemeteries 2!
The Silver Terrace Cemeteries of Virginia City (Suggested by listener Darin Elquist)
As listeners know from episode 177, the city of Virginia City is reputedly quite haunted. It's said that the dead outnumber the living. One haunted location is the final resting place for early residents of this once booming mining town of the Wild West. Silver Terrace Cemetery was established in 1867 and is actually made up of several separate cemeteries. Eleven of them to be exact and each is divided along ethnic, religious, civic, professional and fraternal lines. There is a graveyard for the Masons, the Order of Odd Fellows, Pacific Coast Pioneers, Knights of Pythias, Firemen, Wilson and Brown, Improved Order of Redmen, Mt. St. Mary's Catholic, the Asian and the city and county. The cemetery has terrace in the name because the graveyard sits up on a hilltop as a series of terraces. The plots are unique in that each is fenced in or has a border, which was the standard practice during the Victorian Era. All types of materials have been used as headstones from the typical cut stone to wood to metal like white bronze. Most of the burials took place prior to 1920.
Nearly all people buried here were immigrants or born in a state other than Nevada. This serves as a testament to how the Comstock Lode attracted people from all around the world to come and try their hand at mining silver. The cemeteries qualified for a Save America's Treasures grant through the National Park Service because of their historical significance and are under restoration. There are many forms of unexplained phenomenon taking place in the cemeteries. One story goes that a glowing headstone can be seen at night. Some have debunked this as a reflection of light, but how to explain reports of ghost lights in the cemetery. Some are described as bluish in color. Others claim that the glowing on headstones is reflecting from a specter. The spirit of a girl has been seen walking among the rows of tombstones. The gates open and close on their own and they are held together by a latch that would not just fall away. One of the more famous prostitutes in Virginia City was Julia Bulette. Her specter has been seen at her grave with a child at her feet, which is strange because she never had any children. At least as far as most people know. Pam Ennis of Pacific Coast Spirit Watch joins us to share a few of her thoughts and experiences at the Silver Terrace Cemeteries.
Union Cemetery in Easton
The city of Easton in the state of Connecticut claims that it was shaped by four key forces: glaciers, English settlers, the Industrial Revolution and Bridgeport Hydraulic Company. Algonquin tribes settled this area of Connecticut before the English started arriving early in the 18th century. Those early settlers established a community that emphasized education. That school system is still considered one of the best in the nation. The Industrial Revolution brought manufacturing to Easton and it boomed. One of the key pieces of that boom was the use of water. The Bridgeport Hydraulic Company harnessed that water. Diane went down a fun rabbit hole when looking into the background of this company. She found the following in an article in the Easton Courier by Tom Spurr:
"In 1885, the Bridgeport Hydraulic Company (BHC) bought its first land in Easton from Elihu N. Taylor, who once owned a gristmill along the Mill River. The Survey goes on to tell us that P.T. Barnum came to town in 1886 and bought land along the Mill River. Mr. Barnum had started a company called “Citizens Water Company” (CWC) to compete with Bridgeport Hydraulic. He built CWC dam #1 on the Mill River. But within two years the courts denied CWC the right to lay pipes under Bridgeport streets, and CWC sold its assets to BHC. BHC replaced the CWC dam with Dam #2 in 1896. BHC continued to acquire land in Easton to meet the growing water needs of Bridgeport as its industry and population grew."The Union Cemetery in Easton dates back to the 1600s. The graveyard is next to Easton Baptist Church at the junction of Routes 59 and 136. The graveyard was made famous by the Warrens. They collaborated on the book, "Graveyard: True Hauntings from an Old New England Cemetery." Ed claimed to catch a spirit in the cemetery that people have reportedly seen for decades and that is our infamous Lady in White. The cemetery has even been nicknamed the White Lady Cemetery because of her presence. The story behind who she is legend, so we really are unsure of why she haunts this graveyard. One story claims that she lived during the 1940s and that she murdered her husband and then she was murdered. Another narrative states that she was a woman killed near the turn of the last century and that her body was dumped in a hole near the Baptist church. A third story describes her as a woman who died a century ago in childbirth and now she roams around looking for her baby. Whatever the case may be, she is seen as a full-bodied apparition in a white flowing gown.
The Lady in White is not confined to just the graveyard. Drivers claim that she wanders beyond the gates and out onto the road where she pulls the old "hitchhiking ghost" routine. Not only have drivers pulled over to give her a lift only to watch her disappear, some report actually hitting the spirit when it appears out of nowhere. One of these drivers was heading down Stepney Road late one night in his pickup truck and just as he reached Union Cemetery, a woman appeared out of nowhere in the middle of the road. She was wearing a white dress that reflected in his headlights. He was unable to stop in time and he struck her. He pulled over in an utter panic. He got out of his car and ran back to where he had hit her and the woman was nowhere to be seen.
Old Quaker Cemetery in Camden
Twenty minutes northeast of Columbia, South Carolina is the town of Camden. Camden is South Carolina's oldest inland city and was founded in 1730. The city was originally named Fredricksburg and was established by proclamation of King George II. The name later changed to Pine Tree Hill and then finally Camden. Irish Quakers began arriving in 1750 under the leadership of Samuel Wyly. He designated four acres of land for use as a cemetery. The cemetery was officially founded in 1759 and is known today as the Old Quaker Cemetery. Over time, the graveyard has grown to fifty acres and has several notable burials. The South Carolina Governor from 1886 to 1890 was John Peter Richardson III and he is buried here. There are three Confederate Army Generals: Joseph Brevard Kershaw, John Doby Kennedy and John Bordenave Villepigue. A Confederate soldier who became a hero known as the "Angel of Marye's Heights" at the Battle of Fredricksburg was Richard Rowland Kirkland and he is buried here. This is also the final resting place of two World War I Medal of Honor recipients: Richmond Hobson Hilton and John Canty Villepigue. Abraham Lincoln's brother-in-law is here as well.
The story behind Richard Kirkland is amazing, so we want to share that as a little rabbit hole. The Battle of Fredricksburg took place on December 13, 1862. The Union took heavy casualties. The ones who could walk, made their way to the field hospital, but those more severally wounded were left on the battlefield. The rising of the sun the following morning revealed that over 8,000 Union soldiers had been shot in front of the stone wall at Marye's Heights. Many of the wounded were crying out in agony, but no one dared to go to them since both armies were still there hunkered down. Kirkland went to his leader, Confederate Brig. Gen. Joseph B. Kershaw, and asked for permission to help the wounded Union soldiers. General Kershaw denied the request at first, but finally relented. Kirkland asked if he could fly a white handkerchief, but the General said no because he didn't want the Union to think they were surrendering. So Kirkland gathered as many canteens as he could carry and he ventured out onto the battlefield, risking his life. He gave the wounded Union soldiers water and then went back and brought out blankets and warm clothes. No one fired a shot at him. Kirkland ran back and forth for over 90 minutes and it is said that he did not stop until he had helped every wounded soldier on the Confederate side of the battlefield. A monument dedicated to this event can be found in Fredricksburg, Virginia. Kirkland fought at the Battle of Bull Run, Antietam and Gettysburg, but it would be the Battle of Chickamauga where he would lose his life.
All of those buried at the Old Quaker Cemetery seem to be at rest, save for one and that is Agnes of Glasgow. She was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1760. When she was an adult, she fell in love with British Lieutenant Angus McPherson. He was sent off to fight in the Revolutionary War and Agnes was heartbroken. She decided that she had to be with him, so she devised a plan to stow away aboard a ship bound for the colonies. She arrived in Charleston in 1780. After asking around about her love, she found out that he had been wounded and was in a hospital in Camden. A Native American, King Haigler of the Wateree tribe, volunteered to escort her to Camden. There are two accounts as to what happened when they arrived in Camden. One claims that she found McPherson in the hospital, but he was gravely wounded and died in her arms. She then died of a broken heart. Another claims that McPherson had already died and been buried and that Agnes couldn't find him anywhere and that she searched high and low for him. As she searched, she became extremely ill and died from her illness.
King Haigler buried her in the Old Quaker Cemetery. From that time forward, there have been reports of her apparition walking through the cemetery and even out onto the roads as though she is still seeking her lost love. Strange mists form in the cemetery and many believe that is Agnes trying to take form. The Old Quaker Cemetery is located at 713 Meeting Street and Agnes' gravesite is located near the cemetery gate.
Hollywood Cemetery in Virginia (Suggested by listener Brandon Amsel)
William Byrd III built his estate on the wooded hills overlooking the James River in Richmond, Virginia in 1758. He named it Belvidere. He took a number of financial hits and found himself in the position of having to sell off most of his property. He did this via a lottery in 1769. The Harvie family acquired a number of the lots that Byrd sold off in the lottery and this included an area they named Harvie’s Woods that would become the future site of Hollywood Cemetery. The cemetery is named for all of the holly trees growing in the area. It is located at 412 South Cherry Street and stretches for 130-acres. It was established in 1847 after two men named William Haxall and Joshua Fry visited Mount Auburn Cemetery in Boston. They formed the Hollywood Cemetery Company and set out to design the graveyard.
They enlisted Philadelphia architect John Notman to help with that design and he is the one who suggested the name Hollywood because of the trees. The original plan incorporated 40 acres and Notman attempted to preserve much of the original topography. Burial plots were terraced on the hillsides and winding footpaths made the lots accessible. The Notman plan was implemented starting in 1848 and lasted through the early 1850s. To prevent erosion, an extensive system of culverts and drainage ditches were built along with a board enclosure fence around the property. Several man-made lakes were made to add beauty.
The first monument was erected in 1851. Within two decades of its founding, a major addition was built known as President's Circle. United States Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler are buried there. Tyler's tomb is Gothic Revival in design and is known as "The Birdcage." Confederate leaders Jefferson Davis and J.E.B. Stuart are buried at the graveyard as well in the Confederate Section that was started in 1863. Three thousand bodies from Gettysburg were reinterred in 1866. A monument called the Pyramid was installed in 1869 dedicated to the Confederate soldiers. The 90-foot-tall granite pyramid was designed by Charles H. Dimmock, a Captain in the Confederate Army. Their final resting place has been dubbed "Gettysburg Hill." In 1904, the Hollywood Cemetery was expanded on Midvale Avenue because there was so much demand for burials. Amazingly, in 1911, it was discovered that the official authorization given to cemeteries allowing them to be burial grounds was never given to Hollywood. It was rectified at this time.
People started visiting the cemetery as a tourist spot around 1919. Cars had not been allowed prior to this except for when President Taft visited and the cemetery staff eased the rules for him. Now cars were allowed and tours were even offered through the grounds aboard Ford cars. Tourists paid $.35 to be driven around the graveyard. Hollywood was expanded again in 1923 near Clark Springs. In 1969, the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places added Hollywood Cemetery to its list. Hurricane Isabel caused a million dollars in damage in 2003. Presidents Circle was renovated in 2011 to add a new granite walk leading up to and surrounding the monument. More lots were added as well, allowing 1,800 new burials at the site. Restoration of several monuments, fences, and curbing also took place. The cemetery is opened from 8am to 6pm daily.
There are several tales of the unexplained connected to this cemetery. The Pyramid monument plays host to the first stories of hauntings. Usually around twilight, soft moans are heard coming from around and inside the pyramid. Drastic cold spots are felt at the various corners of the pyramid. And the disembodied cries of the unidentified soldiers are heard. The second stories of hauntings are connected to a young girl who died tragically in 1862. The little girl was named Rees and she died from Scarlett Fever at the age of three. He grave is marked with a three-foot-high cast iron statue of a dog. It is believed her parents put it there as protection for her. And from that day forward, witnesses claim to see the spirit of a little girl playing with a dog at night by the grave. Grounds keepers, tourists and locals all claim to have heard the sound of a dog growling and barking whenever they come near the grave. Even more bizarre are the claims that people have seen the actual iron dog statue move. Is the statue somehow coming to life at night to play with the ghost of Rees?
There are more than just ghost tales connected to the Hollywood Cemetery. There is a vampire legend that is known as the Richmond Vampire. This story dates back to a tragic event that occurred on October 2nd in 1925. A tunnel was being constructed at Church Hill when it suddenly collapsed burying a number of the workers that were inside. People ran to help and witnessed what they described as a "blood covered creature with jagged teeth and skin hanging from its muscular body" emerge from the rubble. This thing ran towards the James River and took refuge in the mausoleum of W. W. Pool at the cemetery. Obviously, this was not really a vampire.
The real story is tragic. This was actually a 28-year-old railroad fireman named Benjamin F. Mosby. He had been shoveling coal into a steam locomotive when the collapse occurred and this caused the boiler to rupture. Mosby's upper body was scalded and his skin was hanging from his body. He died the following day at Grace Hospital. We're not sure how this became a legend, but there are some who think that this vampire still makes the mausoleum its home. The story accuses W.W. Pool of being the vampire and that he was run out of England in the 1800s because he was a vampire. What is eerily creepy about this story is the ending. When they dug through the rubble to get the bodies of the workers, they only found one of them and he was sitting upright in the cab of a train. They could not pull the train out that had been trapped in the tunnel, so they just bricked everything up and it has stayed that way to this day.
All of these cemeteries have interesting stories. But even better is the beauty of each of these graveyards. Monuments and headstones stand as an enduring symbol of lives once lived. And that is a wonderful thing. Are these cemeteries haunted? That is for you to decide!