Saturday, September 23, 2017

HGB Ep. 223 - Old Idaho State Penitentiary

Moment in Oddity - Bug Spray Attracts Bigfoot

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

This Month in History - Kennedy/Nixon Debate Televised

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

Old Idaho State Penitentiary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 17, 2017

HGB Ep. 222 - Culbertson Mansion


 Moment in Oddity - Dog Carrying Day

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

This Month in History - Agatha Christie Born

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

Culbertson Mansion (Suggested by listener Melody Davis)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Show Notes:
Main site for information on tours:  https://www.indianamuseum.org/culbertson-mansion-state-historic-site

Monday, September 11, 2017

HGB Ep. 221 - Jerome Grand Hotel

 
Moment in Oddity - Zarafa the Giraffe

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

This Month in History - Mexico Fight for Independence Begins

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

Jerome Grand Hotel (Suggested by listener Katie Hickcox)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

HGB Ep. 220 - Kentucky State Penitentiary

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

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

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

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

Kentucky State Penitentiary

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

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

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