Thursday, November 15, 2018

Ep. 282 - The Great Wall of China

Moment in Oddity - Sarah's Grave
Suggested by: Pat Clifford

Pat lives in Australia and wanted to share the local story about Sarah's Grave. This grave belongs to Sarah Simpson and is located in an old bush cemetery at Castlereagh about an hour west of Sydney, Australia. Some of the first settlers in the region are buried in this graveyard. Sarah was a British convict who arrived in New South Wales in 1818 aboard the Friendship. Her crime was stealing some clothes that were valued at fivepence. She served her time and met a recently released convict named John Simpson who was a tailor and the couple moved out west. They had 8 children together. On the evening of December 10, 1838, Sarah was walking home when a group of men attacked her and killed her. John was devastated when her battered body was found. They had not married and so he married her in a graveside service to ensure she could pass on without sin into the next life. But it doesn't seem that Sarah passed on. Legends claim that she harasses young men that lurk near her graveside. Young women claim to have seen her ghost in the branches above her grave. An even weirder part of the legend claims that her father visited her grave and found her headstone destroyed. Each time he repaired it he would return the next day to find it destroyed again. He decided to stay the night at the cemetery and watch for the culprit. He went to the bush to go to the bathroom and when he came back the headstone was destroyed.  He was truly puzzled because he was not gone long enough for anyone to destroy the marker and he had heard no noise. And it is that part of the legend that certainly is odd!

This Month in History - The Murder of Stringbean Akeman
Suggested by: Johnny Marvin Allen

In the month of November, on the 10th, in 1973, David "Stringbean" Akeman and his wife Estelle  were ambushed and murdered. Stringbean had started his legendary music career with a guitar he made out of a shoebox and a piece of thread. He got his nickname at a talent contest because he was lanky and the MC yelled for the Stringbean to come to the stage. Soon Stringbean was picking his banjo in a band, but was eventually left behind because he was considered old-fashioned. He married Estelle and went on to continue playing his old-time music, doing comedy and living a simple life. He also became a part of the Grand Ole Opry radio show and the cast of Hee Haw on television. That simple life also meant that he didn't trust banks. He had good reasoning considering that the Great Depression had left many people homeless and businesses shuttered. It was rumored that he kept a huge wad of his cash in his bibbed overalls. A couple of lowlifes named Doug and John Brown would shatter the innocence of Nashville's small town feel. They had heard about Stringbean keeping a stash of money and they ransacked the cabin that Stringbean and Estelle shared. Stringbean knew something was wrong when they got home and pulled his pistol. It would do him no good as he took a bullet to the head the minute he entered the cabin. Estelle made a run for it, but she was shot too. Fellow Opry star, Louis Marshall "Grandpa" Jones would find the bodies. The Brown cousins were arrested and convicted and sentenced to life behind bars. Doug died in prison, but John was eventually released after 41 years. Stringbean did have stashes of money in the cabin that the Browns never found. They were found in the walls.

The Great Wall of China (Suggested by Katrina Ray-Saulis)

Visiting the Great Wall of China is a bucket list item for many people. This man-made structure runs west to east across northern China for 13,171 miles. Construction began with the First Emperor of China over two thousand years ago. Building would continue for centuries with most of the work being done during the Ming Dynasty and actually, most of the original wall no longer exists. Thousands of people died while building the Wall and many died in battles near and on the Wall. This much death seems to have lead to paranormal activity. The Wall is said to be the most haunted structure in China. There are many ghosts seen here. Join me as I explore the history and hauntings of the Great Wall of China!

The Great Wall traverses eleven provinces and two autonomous regions. The structure began as the Northern Frontier Wall and was initiated by the First Emperor of China, Shi Huangdi in 221 BCE. This would be the Qin Dynasty and where China gets its name. But even before that, princes that headed up the various states in the country had built their own walls along state borders for protection. These were similar in style to the Great Wall and began as early as 650 BCE. Warlords eventually jopined the individual states during the Warring States Period and seven large states were the result.

The Qin was the most powerful and conquered everybody else. In 221 BCE, Emperor Huangdi begin construction on The Great Wall and the Grand Canal. He wanted the Wall to protect against the harrassment coming from the Mongols. This early work mainly joined together all the separate walls and took 9 years with nearly a million workers. These workers did not volunteer for the job. These were convicts and unwilling conscripts. This Wall measured 3100 miles and gave the Chinese no pride as they believed this Wall did not unify and that people were just sent there to labor and die. The Qin Dynasty only lasted 15 years and was replaced by the Han Dynasty.

When Emperor Huangdi died there were two powerful generals who tried to take control. They were Xiang-Yu of Chou and Liu-Bang of Han. Liu-Bang won and the Han Dynasty rose to power and continued construction on the Wall. This emperor was the first to use the wall as a means of regulating trade along the Silk Road. The Han Dynasty Great Wall stretched from the North Korea coast near Pyongyang in the east to Jade Gate Pass in the west. This spans included branching walls, natural barriers, and trenches. A special kind of building was adopted for this stage of the Wall. Builders made basic wall frames by weaving together rose willow and reeds, and then they filled the frames with gravel. These were then piled in layers. High saline groundwater solidified the sand and gravel. There were three main types of construction: yellow Gobi Desert soil pressed in layers; sand and stones in rose willow and Hu poplar frames and reed adobe. Beacon towers were built every three miles and 80 of those still survive today. These towers were used as signal posts. Smoke and fire could be seen as far as 10 miles, so these were used by guards. The construction here is amazing as this section of Wall in the Gobi Desert has survived.

Feudal Dynasties continued working on the Wall through 1271 AD. The vast Mongol Empire managed to invade China and ushered in the Yuan Dynasty. This would unify Mongolia and China and all work on the Wall ceased, of course. This was China's first foreign-led dynasty and the Yuan Dynasty was founded by Genghis Khan. *Fun Facts: This was the first dynasty to use paper money and Marco Polo visited China during this time.* As tends to happen, this dynasty lost touch with its Mongol roots and internal turmoil was the result. Weakness also came via the Black Death and natural disasters. This weakness opened it up to defeat. The internal rebellion called itself The Red Turban Rebellion and they blamed the government for the disasters. The final straw came when the Yellow River changed course and flooded a major region and impoverished it. The Red Turbans said that this happened because the empire had lost the Mandate of Heaven.

*Rabbit Hole: The Mandate of Heaven was similar to the Divine Right of Kings in concept in that God was in control of ruling powers, but with the Divine Right of Kings, a particular family was chosen and it was wrong to rebel against them, whereas the Mandate of Heaven allowed for the people to rebel when they saw that favor had fallen from an Emperor via signs like famines or disasters. There are four principles to the Mandate:

1. Heaven grants the emperor the right to rule.
2. Since there is only one Heaven, there can only be one emperor at any given time.
3. The emperor's virtue determines his right to rule.
4. No one dynasty has a permanent right to rule.*

Zhu Yuanzhang was an important leader of the Red Turban Rebellion and he defeated all the other rival armies, destroyed the Yuan palaces and established the Ming Dynasty. Most of the original wall does not exist today. What we see today was mostly built during the Ming Dynasty. This dynasty lasted from 1368 to 1664 AD. This undertaking was the most massive. The Ming added over 25,000 massive watchtowers that ranged in height from 16-26 feet, 20 feet across the bottom and 16 feet across the top. The Ming Dynasty also enclosed their prized agricultural center, Liaoning Province, behind a walled fortification. This wall has been a source of controversy between China and North Korea with North Korea claiming that this wall belongs to them and not China. This fight continues today. The Ming Dynasty had a long run, but there was some inner turmoil. Rebels turned against the Ming Dynasty, which at the time was headed by Emperor Wu Sangui. He decided to allie himself with the Manchus and made an agreement with them that he would open the wall if they would help him defeat the rebels. Dumb move as the Manchus seized power, expelled the Ming Dynasty, and established the Qing Dynasty that held power from 1644 to 1912 AD. The Great Wall would fall into negelct at this time.

In 1912, the Republic of China decided to use it for controlling immigration and emigration. As hard as it may be to believe, the Great Wall had no real efforts to maintain and preserve it until 1980 when the Chinese government realized it could be used for tourism. In 1987, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Even with these efforts, the Wall has only around 600 miles that is stable. People come from all around the world to visit and contrary to the popular belief out there that the Great Wall is the only man-made structure that can be seen from space, it actually cannot. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield spent five months aboard the International Space Station and he tweeted, “The Great Wall of China is not visible from orbit with the naked eye. It’s too narrow, and it follows the natural contours and colors [of the landscape]." Many believe that this fallacy dates back to 1895 when English essayist Sir Henry Norman wrote that the wall was "the only work of human hands on the globe visible from the moon." His made this observation based on the fact that people on earth could see craters and canals on the moon. He reasoned that someone on the moon would be able to see something as long and massive as the Great Wall on earth. I'm more amazed by the fact that he was thinking about man on the moon at that time.

A legend connected to the Wall is about a fortress on the Great Wall originally named, the Xifeng Kou, or the Happy Meeting Fortress. This is how it got its name. The Great Wall required soldiers to be on guard at the place all year round and this caused much suffering for them and their families. A young soldier had gone to defend the northern territory of China along the Great Wall. He was gone for many years. He and his father were the only people that remained of their family and his father came to find him. The two men almost didn't recognize each other because of all the years that had passed. They greeted each other with hugs and wept. Then they both died on the spot. The fortress was named in their honor. They represented the heart of thousands of soldiers and their family.

The China Travellers website reports, "Jiayu Fortress is the Western end of the Great Wall of China. It is a huge fortress that marks the end and the beginning of the Great Wall. Beyond it, lay the barren Gobi desert in which nobody lived. Only travelers and traders risked their lives in passing the great fortress and their lives depended on destiny. In ancient China, and perhaps in present day also, people had the habit of testing their luck which they believed would predict the outcome of their travels. Travelers and traders had the custom of throwing stones on the walls of the Jiayu Fortress. If the stone created noise, no matter loud or not, it would be a good sign that they would at least be safe out of the fortress. On the other hand, if no noise came about, they would probably be lost in the vast unknown world and should never return. If the sign is good, they might make a fortune and most importantly, return safe and sound. If the sign is a bad one, they might be hindered of their decision of venturing out. Such habit existed along the Jiayu Fortress."

The Great Wall is visited by over four million people a year and some of those visitors claim to experience things that they cannot explain. There are stories that at least a million people died during construction of the Wall. The most common experience is the holy grail of ghost hunting, full-bodied apparitions. Many tourists complain that they feel weird while visiting and this "weird" entails nausea, headaches, feelings of uneasiness and body pains. Some people report being physically assaulted with punches, slaps and are grabbed. Local legends say, “If you visit the Great Wall, the spirits of the fallen workers will haunt you until you cross a line of firecrackers to scare them away”.

Many of the ghost stories originate from one area of the Wall that is north of Beijing and known as The Wild Wall. Even worse than stories of hauntings is the fact that several hikers have died along this portion of the wall via lightning strikes and falls. Marching footsteps are heard in this area of the Wall and strange apparitions have been seen. Destination Truth visited the Wall during Season 3, Episode 11 in 2010, to do some ghost hunting and this section was their focus because of its dark corners. Grant and Jason from Ghost Hunters reviewed the evidence.

Anon on Paranormal Stories: "We did a private hike of the 'Wild' Jiankou section of the wall in 2012. We also camped overnight in the isolated section there, just beside the wall. It was only myself, my wife, and the guide. The guide had his own tent and helped us set up ours, after which he prepared dinner. After eating and a bit of a chat, we went to sleep in our tent and the guide retired to his. Shortly afterwards, we heard someone walking around outside our tent. The sound of footsteps on rocks was unmistakable, as it was otherwise very silent there. I quickly unzipped the tent, thinking maybe it was the guide walking around, but I couldn't see anyone. I walked a few meters over to his tent to ask if he was still awake and he unzipped his tent before asking if I needed something. I told him we heard footsteps and asked if it was him and he said no, he had been in the tent since after dinner. In the morning he told us that other tourists had also heard footsteps over the rocks in the middle of the night."

The Great Wall of China is one of the greatest wonders in the world. It was built on the backs of millions of people and one has to wonder how many of those workers died and are buried somewhere along the Wall. Is this why there are reports of apparitions? Is this energy captured from the historical conflicts that took place here? Is the Great Wall of China haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Ep. 281 - Duff Green Mansion

Moment in Oddity - The Park of Monsters
Suggested by: Kim Gasiorowski

The "Parco dei Mostri" or Park of Monsters can be found in Bomarzo in northern Lazio, Italy. The park is situated in a wooded area below the Orsini Castle. This castle was once home to Prince Pier Francesco Orsini who lived there in the 16th century. Orsini is the designer of this bizarre and horribly beautiful park full of stone sculptures of various monsters. The sculptures are designed to shock and were an expression of his grief. He had come through a terrible season in his life. He had just survived a brutal war that had killed his best friend, he had been held for ransom for years and when he returned home, his beloved wife died. The prince hired architect Pirro Ligorio to help him create what he called the "Villaof Wonders." This would be a place of art before its time as it demonstrates a type of Surrealism. Salvador Dali loved the place when he visited. The park took 20 years to complete and was finished off with a temple built for the Prince's second wife. Other designs include a house built on a tilt to disorient visitors, a war elephant, a giant tearing another giant in half, a huge fish head and an enormous head with a wide gaping mouth locked in a scream, known as the mouth of hell, that features a small picnic table within. A novel, libretto, and opera have all been based on the park. A lovely and peaceful Italian garden playing host to stone monsters, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Mission San Juan Capistrano Founded

In the month of November, on the 1st, in 1776, the Mission San Juan Capistrano was founded in California. Saint Junipero Serra founded the mission as the 7th of 21 missions statewide. The mission was originally intended as a self-sufficient community for Spanish Padres and Native Americans and was a center for agriculture, education and religion. Over 300,000 people visit the mission annually, but it is not just humans that visit. This is the site of the famous Annual Return of the Swallows.  Swallows migrate 6,000 miles from Goya, Argentina to San Juan Capistrano and arrive on March 19th, St. Joseph's Day. This has been happening since the 1930s. The legend of why this happens goes: One day, while walking through town, Father O’Sullivan saw a shopkeeper, broomstick in hand, knocking down the conically shaped mud swallow nests that were under the eaves of his shop. The birds were darting back and forth through the air squealing over the destruction of their homes. “What in the world are you doing?” O’Sullivan asked. “Why, these dirty birds are a nuisance and I am getting rid of them!” the shopkeeper responded. “But where can they go?” “I don’t know and I don’t care,” he replied, slashing away with his pole. “But they’ve no business here, destroying my property.” Father O’Sullivan then said, “Come on swallows, I’ll give you shelter. Come to the Mission. There’s room enough there for all.” The very next morning, Father O’Sullivan discovered the swallows busy building their nests outside Father Junípero Serra’s Church. The mission also features one-of-a-kind artifacts and paintings and has the ruins of the Great Stone Church destroyed in an earthquake in 1812. Her nickname is the American Acropolis.

Duff Green Mansion

Vicksburg is one of those Civil War era cities that I long to visit because I love antebellum mansions.  The Greek Revival architecture and magnolia trees take me back to an earlier time with hoop skirts embellished with ribbons and elegant carriages riding in the streets, but it was also a dark time of slavery and division in the United States that would lead to the outbreak of the Civil War. Vicksburg was the scene of an intense battle that would leave over 37,000 causalities in its wake. Just prior to the outbreak of the war, Duff Green built his mansion and the Bed and Breakfast still carries his name today. The mansion seems to have more than just the Green name. Spirits of the family members seem to have stayed on her in the afterlife. Join me as I explore the history and hauntings of the Duff Green Mansion!

Vicksburg, Mississippi is a river port that sits high on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. The United States bought the area from the Choctaw Nation in 1801. The city would become the scene of a battle that would be a major turning point in the Civil War. Confederate forces held the city under Lt. General John Pemberton. The Union knew that this was a strategic location that they needed because of the location on the river bluff. In the summer of 1863, Maj. General Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of the Tennessee converged on Vicksburg. They found that Pemberton's forces had built a series of trenches, forts, redans, and artillery lunettes in a 7-mile ring surrounding the city, but the Union had the advantage of outnumbering the Confederate forces two to one. Grant went forward with two assaults but both were repelled leading him to lay siege to the city. This led Pemberton to surrender on July 4th as food and supplies ran out. Grant's Vicksburg campaign was considered one of the most brilliant of the war and it solidified the Union with control of the entire Mississippi River.

Coca-Cola was bottled for the first time in Vicksburg in 1894 by Joseph Biedenharn who was a local confectioner. Well, I had to know more because I love Coke. Coca-Cola originated as a soda fountain drink and sales were so good for Biedenharn, he decided to try bottling it. He used a common glass bottle called a Hutchinson. Biedenharn sent a case to Asa Griggs Candler, who owned Coke. Candler thanked him but took no action at first.

So Vicksburg was a major player in the war, but it suffered greatly afterwards and racial strife would be a key part of its history. Today, it is a grand city that focuses on tourism. People come from all around to see the antebellum mansions and one of those is the Duff Green Mansion. Duff Green was a local cotton broker that had become very wealthy. He had recently married Mary Lake and wanted to build his new wife a grand home that the neighbors would envy. Construction began in 1856. The mansion was built in the Palladian style with two large verandas that featured wrought iron embellishments. There were 13 fireplaces, several bedrooms and a large ballroom. Lavish parties were thrown at the mansion and both Jefferson Davis and Ulysses S. Grant were said to have danced in the ballroom. Things were wonderful until the Civil War broke out.

The Siege of Vicksburg that I described earlier brought the battle right to the home of the Greens. Five cannonballs blasted through the upper floors before Mary was able to hoist a yellow flag indicating that the mansion could be used as a hospital. Both Confederate and Union casualties were brought to the mansion. The Union took the top floor and the Confederate forces took the main floor. The kitchen became the operating room and so much blood flowed onto the floor that the wood is still bloodstained to this day. The Greens needed a place to stay during this time and they took cover in caves that they had built into the hill outside their home. Mary was pregnant at the time and actually had to give birth to their son in the cave. She named him William Siege Green. I'm not sure what happened with the Greens between the time the siege ended and when they returned to their home in 1866, but the mansion itself was leased by the US government to be used as a Soldier's Home.

The Greens stayed in the home until 1880 when Duff passed away. They had a daughter named Annie who died in the home when she was six. Mary decided to sell the house and she did so to the Peatross family. This would begin a time of ownership switching hands and different uses for the house. The Peatross family stayed in the house until 1910 and they sold it to Fannie Vick Johnston. She used the mansion as a temporary residence while her mansion was being built. That home is known today as Stained-Glass Manor. She moved out and allowed the home to be used as an orphanage for boys. For a time, it also became a home for elderly, destitute women. In 1931, Johnston's heirs sold the property to the Salvation Army and they used it for 50 years. In 1985, the mansion was sold to Harry Sharp and his wife.

The Sharps brought the Duff Green Mansion back to its former glory as they transformed it into a bed and breakfast. The process took two-and-a-half years, but it is gorgeous inside with polished wood floors, gorgeous chandeliers and walls covered in historic paint. Twenty-seven layers of paint had to be removed. The mansion is filled with period antique furnishings and offers several rooms for guests that include The Dixie Room, The Camellia Room, The Confederate Room, The Magnolia Room, Little Annie Room, The Pemberton Suite, The Duff Green Suite, The Nursery and Lucy's Cave, which is an apartment that is located under the driveway off the courtyard. There is a brick courtyard with a pool. Weddings and events are hosted as well. Something the bed and breakfast does not keep a secret, is that it also hosts ghosts.

The owner Henry Sharp himself has seen ghosts. He told the Vicksburg Post, "I've seen the ghost of Mary Green floating in the entrance of that doorway, plain as day." The cook has also seen the apparition of Mary and describes her as a beautiful woman with flowing blonde hair. She told a local television station, "I was standing there over the stove stirring my grits, and I felt this rubbing on my shoulders. I thought someone had walked in behind me - teasing me or something like that. But I looked back, and there wasn't anyone there. Then I know it was Mrs. Green." This apparition has been seen most of the time wearing a green antebellum dress. The cook also came in one morning and heard music coming from the ballroom. When she looked inside, she saw a ghostly couple swirling about the floor. A female spirit has been seen looking out a window in the dining room who could also be Mary Green.

Little Annie who died in the house when she was six still seems to be here. Her apparition is seen and heard running up and down the staircase and the sounds of a child playing with a ball have also been heard. Mr. Sharp's one-and-a-half year old granddaughter Lydia was in the ballroom with him one time and she kept glancing over at a corner in the room and finally said, "Ga-ga, ball," over and over. Mr. Sharp said "ga-ga" was Lydia's word for baby. Did she see Little Annie in the corner playing with a ball? A three-year-old guest kept making motions like he was throwing a ball in the ballroom and when his father asked why he kept doing that he responded that he was throwing the ball to Annie.

The most seen spirit belongs to a Confederate soldier who lost his leg. He is seen most often by the fireplace in The Dixie Room standing by the mantle or sitting in a chair and he just looks straight ahead. A policeman captured the figure of a soldier sitting on the front steps. I'm not sure if this is a different soldier as the description didn't mention a missing leg. A side note about amputations here, one of the basement rooms is where these took place and there was a window through which the limbs were thrown and it is said that the stack reached five feet high. During excavations around the foundation, human bones were found that had surgical saw marks on them.

Guests have had other experiences like feeling the sheets being pulled off them in The Confederate Room. Phantom smells have also been experienced in this room, one of which is gangrene. The investigative group Paranormal Incorporated captured some interesting EVPs during a stay. Most are hard to hear other than differentiating voices between male and female, but one sounds like a whistle that goes, "Yoo Hoo." Heavy furniture is heard dragging across the floors of rooms where no one is staying. Photographic evidence has been captured featuring shadow figures. Employees claim that hardly a week goes by that they don't have something strange happen or see something out of the corner of their eyes. Some guests have even claimed to see angels and a pair of undertakers. Only two guests have ever left the mansion, unable to stay because of the haunting activity, and that seems to indicate that the spirits here are not malevolent.

The mansion is beautiful inside and out. Could it be that Mary green's love for her former home has brought her spirit back? Did she come back to join her daughter Annie in the afterlife? Did the trauma of the Civil War leave the spirits of some soldiers here? Is the Duff Green Mansion haunted? That is for you to decide!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

HGB Halloween Special 2018

On this episode, we share lots of listener true tales of paranormal activity! Also, the history of haunted house attractions. When and where did these start?

There are over 2500 haunted house attractions in the world and they are big money makers. People love to be scared, especially in a place where they are assured that they cannot be touched and what they are about to see is not real. The Egyptians were the first to come up with the idea of planning elaborate mazes and scares with the purpose of keeping body snatchers from raiding burials. They would put these scares around the outside of burials and filled them with traps, snakes and insects, moving walls and self-opening doors. Unfortunately, these scares were not as good as our modern day ones and most tombs were raided. Greeks and Romans are known for their mythological monsters and stage performances in which they used fog, fake blood and ghosts to scare audiences. So none of these are exactly like the haunted house attractions of today, but they show that humans have always looked for a way to scare and be scared.

The use of theater to scare people would continue into the late 19th century at the Grand Guignol Theater in Paris. Stage performances featured graphic dismemberment and it had a reputation of people passing out during plays. The first haunted house would start at an English fairground called Liphook in 1915. Patrick Collins was a carnival creator and he built the "Haunted Cottage" for his wife Flora at the fairground. This was during World War I and people were seeking a way to escape, so the haunted house was very popular. The scares were pretty tame and included a maze of rocking floors, vibrating walls and air blasts from below that took place in the dark. The cottage is called the Orton and Spooner Ghost House and still runs today at the Hollycombe Working Steam Museum in Liphook. The outside features the original artwork displaying ghosts, spiders, cobwebs, skeletons, Frankenstein’s Monster and Lon Chaney as the Phantom of the Opera.

Amusement parks started hosting funhouses with dark mazes, weird mirrors and loud noises and this spilled over into small haunted houses that played up more of the creeps. Haunted Houses started appearing in America during the Great Depression just as trick-or-treating was getting started as well. It was thought that the haunted houses would distract the kids from getting into mischief. Most of them were hosted in people's basements. A 1937 pamphlet describes how parents could create these scares: "An outside entrance leads to a rendezvous with ghosts and witches in the cellar or attic. Hang old fur, strips of raw liver on walls, where one feels his way to dark steps....Weird moans and howls come from dark corners, damp sponges and hair nets hung from the ceiling touch his face....Doorways are blockaded so that guests must crawl through a long dark tunnel....At the end he hears a plaintive ‘meow’ and sees a black cardboard cat outlined in luminous paint...” (Fun Fact: I made haunted house with some friends down in one of their basements one year. Didn't know I was honoring an old tradition at the time.)

In 1969, Disneyland premiered their Haunted Mansion with lots of special effects that featured dancing ghosts in a ballroom, transforming portraits, pop-up monsters in a cemetery, a spectral sea captain and a headless horseman. The original idea was to make it a walk through attraction, but when people lingered to long looking at exhibits, doombuggy cars were introduced to keep the crowds moving at a steady pace. Today's haunted houses fall back on the walk through attraction. The Jaycees started making charity haunted houses and soon other amusement parks started incorporating haunted houses during October that continues all the way up to Universal's Halloween Horror Nights. The haunted houses of the 1980s and 1990s featured a lot of connections to Hollywood's craze of slasher movies.

Today, the industry is worth $300 million dollars. Home haunters have gotten into the game, turning their homes into mini haunted attractions for Halloween. Have you been to a haunted house and which has been your favorite?

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Ep. 280 - The Legend of the Hitchhiking Ghost

Moment in Oddity - Pumpkin Races

October is the time of year when our attentions turn to pumpkins. Pumpkins signal fall and, of course, Halloween. The German city of Ludwigsburg hosts the largest pumpkin festival in the world, which is held annually from early September to November. The festival includes more than 400,000 pumpkins representing 450 species of pumpkins. There is a really unique twist to this pumpkin festival though. This festival has its very own pumpkin race. This is a race held on water with huge hollowed out pumpkins that weigh at least 550 pounds. And while you might think it strange for people to watch a bunch of pumpkins race each other in water, imagine that each is like its own kayak being piloted by a human. The race covers a course measuring 115 feet and the prize is money that is awarded in six categories. Competitor Mailin Matuschek said, "It was hard fighting against the wind to get anywhere, but when you are in the groove it works. I imagined it would be more difficult.” We love pumpkins around here, but sitting in one on the water and paddling to win a race, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - The Calliope is Patented

In the month of October, on the 9th, in 1855, Joshua C. Stoddard patented the calliope. A calliope is a musical instrument that produces sound by sending a gas, steam or compressed air, through large whistles. These large instruments can be played mechanically via a music box drum or manually via a keyboard. A calliope can be quite loud and the whistles are tuned to a chromatic scale, although steam calliopes can be inaccurate with tuning since the temperature of the steam affects the pitch. J.C. Stoddard was a beekeeper from Massachusetts and he loved the sound of locomotive whistles. He took 15 train whistles and attached them to a steam chest, with a music box cylinder or roller to open the valves. The valves admitted steam into the whistles. He intended for his calliope to replace the church bells. Instead, the calliope became the famous sound of riverboats and circus parades. All of the working steamboats still around today have steam calliopes. These boats include the Delta Queen, the Belle of Louisville, and President. Their calliopes are played regularly on river excursions. Most calliopes disappeared in the mid-20th century and only a few survive today. You can still see a very elaborate one at Fort Wilderness at Walt Disney World.

The Legend of the Hitchhiking Ghost

Roadside apparitions have been witnessed by thousands of motorists and there seems to be a legend of a hitchhiking ghost in every state in America. Many countries around the world have these hitchhiking ghost tales as well. These tales are haunting and tragic. They usually involve a young woman standing on the side of the road, appearing to be in distress or in need of a ride and after being noticed or picked up in a vehicle, she disappears. There is a level of trust and intimacy in giving someone a ride in your car, particularly a stranger. In our modern era, it just isn't save to be either the driver or the hitchhiker. And maybe that is why these types of tales are so prevalent. There already is a basic level of fear involved in the act of hitchhiking. This episode can't possibly cover every single legend out there involving hitchhiking ghosts, but we will touch on several that include tales from across America and from several countries. Join me on the roadside as we search out the legend of the hitchhiking ghost.

Folklorist Jan Harold Brunvand wrote “The Vanishing Hitchhiker: American Urban Legends and Their Meanings” in 1981. The book traces the origin of the urban legend of the hitchhiking ghost  back as far as 1876, with the ghost of a girl appearing on a roadway after being killed in a carriage accident. For myself, the idea of a hitchhiking ghost was introduced to me as a child. One of my favorite rides in the world is the Haunted Mansion and it is inside this house that riders meet three strange characters known as the hitchhiking ghosts. There is Ezra who is the skeleton, Phineas who is the traveler and Gus who is the prisoner. They all thumb for a ride aboard your doombuggy at the end of the ride and one of them joins you in that doombuggy, carrying on with some kind of shenanigans. It all seems rather fun. But the true tales of hitchhiking ghosts range from the shocking to the truly terrifying.

Blue Bell Hill, United Kingdom (Suggested by Emma Pett)

Blue Bell Hill is a historic chalk hill in Southern England that has been designated a site of scientific interest. People have reported seeing ghostly hitchhikers here since the early 1970s. A man reported seeing a young girl appear in the road ahead of his car in 1974. She collapsed as his car approached and he slammed on his brakes and rushed to give her help. He found her bleeding as though she had been a victim of a hit and run accident. The legend claims that she asked him”why did you hit me?” He covered her with a blanket he had in his car and drove away to get the police. By the time the police got to the scene the girl was gone, but the bloody blanket remained.

White Woman of Belchen Tunnel in Switzerland

The white woman of Belchen Tunnel is a tale that started in Switzerland in the early 1980s. This hitchhiking ghost is an old woman that appears in the road ahead of lonely drivers at night. Drivers slow down and pick her up and take her a few miles before she suddenly vanishes from the car. Apparently the woman looks sick and tired. If a driver asks if she is okay, she responds by telling them something terrible is about to happen.

McAlester, Oklahoma (suggested by Jayna Fields)

Jayna's sister told her a tale about a hitchhiking ghost in the 1980s. The story takes place on a highway that passes Gowen Mountain near McAlester, Oklahoma. One evening, a hitchhiker became very tired as he wandered down the road. He decided that he needed to take a nap, but he didn't want to wander away from the road so he curled up very close to the roadway. Unfortunately, he rolled a bit while sleeping and ended up on the road. A car hit him and killed him. Not long after that, he began appearing in the back seat of cars that drove down the road. Jayna's sister had a friend that claimed that her hair was pulled by something unseen when she was on the road one time.

Ft. Myers, Florida (Suggested by Jaime Michelle)

In 1913, McGregor Boulevard was built. The construction workers used shells to pave the road and one night a skull rolled to the feet of a workman. This began an effort to dig up the rest of the skeleton and before long, 103 skeletons were unearthed. The thought was that this was a Native American burial site, but a medical examiner found that the bones were not those of native people and that is when historians claimed that the bones probably belonged to pirates. A pirate ship named the Gasparilla was captured by the United States Navy and they massacred the entire crew. The bodies were buried here and since there are no laws about disturbing pirate bones, the road was allowed to continue being paved. Drivers claim to see several people on the road that cars just pass right through.

Niles Canyon, California

The tale that comes out of Niles Canyon in California is not as well known. There was a young girl who died in a car crash on her way to her high school prom. The car crashed into the canyon somewhere and was never recovered, meaning that the body of the girl was never recovered. She died on February 26th and that is the day that people claim to see her ghost as she seems to return to the scene of her death on the anniversary. Witnesses claim to see her wandering the road in her dress and many stop to pick her up. She tells them where she lives and they agree to drive her there, but she disappears soon after that. When the drivers visit the address she has given them, they find an abandoned house.

Parkway Phantom of Exit 82 in New Jersey (Suggested by Jeanne Naurez)

The Garden State Parkway was completed in 1955. From that time until the present, people have claimed to witness an apparition that has come to be known as the Parkway Phantom. He is generally seen at Exit 82 at Route 37 in Toms River. The Phantom is described as a man crossing the road and waving his arms at night. The waving arms resemble a bizarre football cheer. He is very tall and wears a long topcoat that is belted at the waist. According to the State Police, this area of road has seen more than its fair share of car accidents.

From the Weird NJ website: "We all work as paramedics in Ocean County, and we see a lot of fatal accidents. About five years ago, on a rainy night along the spot on the GSP where it is also US 9, there was a guy whose car broke down on the curve. He pulled off to the side and began to walk along the shoulder when a driver hit him, throwing him into the woods and killing him. When the paramedics got there they knew someone had been hit, but due to the darkness and rain they could not find him. They finally did and tried to revive him, but it was too late. Several weeks later the same medic crew was coming back from Kimball Medical Center in Lakewood, heading toward Toms River, when they saw someone on the side of the road waving them down. By the time they were able to pull over and back up to the spot the man was gone, but they noticed it was in the same spot where the man was hit only weeks before. They just blew off the event until another crew reported a similar event in the same area. To date about three teams have seen this." –SeanEms17

Roseman Covered Bridge (Suggested by Brandon Marsh)

If you've seen the movie "Bridges of Madison County" you will be familiar with the Roseman Covered Bridge featured in the film. The bridge is rectangular shaped and brick red in color and spans the Middle River. It's located southwest of Winterset in Madison County, Iowa and is one of six remaining covered bridges in the area. The bridge was built in 1883 and it is this same year that the haunting connected to this bridge originates. An inmate escaped from the Madison County Jail in 1883 and ran to the bridge thinking he could get away, but the sheriff and a posse he formed caught up to the convict there. They trapped the man by blocking both sides of the bridge. Somehow, someone's gun discharged and the convict cried out in pain. The story gets really weird here as the inmate just seemed to disappear after he cried out. The sheriff and his men found no trace of the man. There have been reports of cold spots on the bridge and people hear disembodied voices. Sometimes the bridge shakes. An EVP was captured by Central Iowa Paranormal Investigators of a voice telling them to leave. And there is a hitchhiking ghost that people see when crossing the bridge. Could this be the spirit of the convict?

Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa, Florida

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge ranks fourth in the nation when it comes to people jumping off the bridge to their deaths. The bridge rises to 197 feet above the water, so most who jump from the bridge do not survive. Over 200 people have taken that leap. The original two-lane bridge opened in 1954, and officials built an addition in 1971. Two tragedies are connected to the bridge. On January 28, 1980, a buoy tender and a tanker collided while attempting to pass beneath the bridge and 23 servicemen were killed. That same year, in May 9, a freighter collided with one of the Skyway’s support columns and part of the bridge fell into the water taking eight vehicles, including a Greyhound bus full of college students. Thirty-five people died in the collapse. The bridge has been the scene of several paranormal happenings, one of which is a hitchhiking ghost. This spirit is believed to belong to a young woman who probably threw herself off the bridge sometime in the 1960s. In the 1960s and 70s, authorities received multiple calls from motorists claiming to have seen a young woman preparing to jump from the bridge, but upon investigation no woman was found. This same spirit or perhaps another female spirit has also been seen on the side of the road looking very troubled and sobbing. At other times, people have picked up the hitchhiking ghost only to have her break into sobs as they approach the summit of the bridge. When they turn to console the woman, she disappears. Motorists have spotted the hitchhiker on both the old bridge and the new one that was built to replace the one damaged in the collisions.

Highway 94 in New Zealand

This story of a highway in New Zealand features a Maori woman. It is said that the entire 160 miles of the highway is haunted by this spirit and that she is seen holding a frightened kitten. She appears to be hitchhiking by the roadside, so drivers pull over to give her a ride. But just as the car stops, the woman and the cat completely disappear.

Jenny Dixon Beach and Wilfred Barrett Drive (Suggested by Rachel Hore)

Creek Road in Ojai, California

Creek Road is a lonely stretch of road that branches off Highway 33 just outside of Ojai, California. It is a winding road full of ghost stories. There are several spirits that are seen along the road that could all be considered our hitchhiking ghost. There is a decapitated motorcyclist who wanders the road headless as though he is looking for his head. A bloodied bride is said to appear on the road on the anniversary of her death and there is another spirit that is just known as the Vanishing Hitchhiker. The creepiest apparition here belongs to a badly burnt male figure that locals call Char-Man. He is seen near the Creek Road bridge and so locals call it the Char-Man Bridge. He is most known for scaring anyone brave enough to walk or drive the bridge at night. No one is sure what happened to him, but the theory is that he died in a fiery crash or a brushfire.

Highway 666 in New Mexico (Suggested by Jessica Berry)

US Highway 491 is the former Highway 666. Obviously, with an unfortunate name like that, one would expect the highway to be haunted and they would be right. This stretch of roadway has several apparitions taking on the role of hitchhiking ghost. The first is a female apparition that lingers by the roadside. She not only appears once and then disappears as a car approaches, she continues to appear and disappear as they travel down the highway. Another spirit belongs to a little girl. She is seen wearing a pale dress and wanders along the roadside. People stop for her, worried that a child is all alone out there. Once they stop, she disappears. Some of the creepier hitchhikers here have no faces. They are actually hitchhiking, thumbing for a ride, but disappear when approached. And the infamous Skin Walkers have been known to frequent this stretch of highway.

Hotrod Haven near Louisville, Kentucky (Suggested by Michael Renegar)

There is a stretch of Mitchell Hill Road in Kentucky known to local folks as "Hotrod Haven." Between the 1940's and the 1970's, the road was a popular spot for teenagers to test their racing skills. This was not the wisest place to race because the road twists and winds. In fact, at least 25 people have lost their lives on the road. Two of those people include a couple. On September 23rd, 1946 Roy Clarke and Sarah Mitchell were on their way to a school dance when Roy lost control of the car and crashed at the curve. Both  of them were pronounced dead at the scene. There is a cemetery at the top of Mitchell Hill where the couple is buried today under a single stone. It is Sarah who seems to be our hitchhiking ghost on this roadway. Reports have been made over the decades of motorists seeing a girl wandering the roadway and aimlessly strolling the cemetery at the top of the hill. She vanishes after a time leading to her being nicknamed the "Vanishing Hitchhiker."

Bristol, Pennsylvania (Suggested by Deana Marie of TwistedPhilly Podcast)

This is the story of  Gertrude Spring from Bristol, PA, which is in Bucks County about 45 minutes north of Philadelphia (and it was founded in 1681, one year before William Penn came to the new world and founded Pennsylvania!)

Deana found a newspaper article about the death of Gertrude Spring. She is buried in St. James Episcopal Cemetery on Cedar Street in Bristol, PA.  No one knows why she's considered the hitchhiking ghost , but her name has been synonymous with the ghost of a young woman who is often seen on Bordentown Road and along nearby roads in Bristol and Bucks County. 

Years ago a truck driver picked up a young woman on Bordentown Road wearing a fancy pink gown. The dress looked old fashioned, and she seemed out of place particularly because she was wandering a dark road late at night, alone.  He picked her up and after a while he turned to talk to her but the young woman in the beautiful dress was gone. The only sign of her was a puddle on the passenger seat. The truck driver called the police to report what happened but what could they do about a young woman who disappeared (no proof of a report like this was made to the Bristol police, or when it might have happened.) 

Why was the seat wet?  It's believed Gertrude Spring drowned in Van Sciver Lake  under the Bordentown Road bridge when she died in 1935. There's an old story that one night Gertrude and a date were driving home from a night out and his car went off the bridge on Bordertown road.  The car and the boy were pulled from the lake, and although neither she nor her companion survived, Gertrude's body was never found. At least according to the legend, but the article Deana found clearly says something else.

Bristol, New Hope, that area is very old, there are so many ghost stories besides the story of Gertrude Spring, who is also called the Lady of the Lake due to her manner of death, and Midnight Mary because it's usually late at night when her ghost is spotted (although I think so many female hitchhiking ghost stories are called Midnight Mary.)  When people see Gertrude, it's often on the bridge of Bordentown Road, she's wandering in a pink gown, disoriented, and although she isn't hooking her thumb, it does seem she's looking for a ride somewhere.

Here's the myth buster - according to St. James Cemetery where Gertrude is burried, Gertrude Spring died from a skull fracture she sustained during an automobile accident in 1935.  Gertrude was born in 1909, making her 26 years old when she died.  The legend of her body never being found in the lake, well, her body was buried in St. James cemetery with other members of the spring family and she had a full church service.  The cemetery has no idea why Gertrude is considered the hitchhiking ghost.  I included a map of Bordentown Road in Bristol, PA.  Pennsbury Manor was William Penn's home - it's a historic site operated as it was in the late 1680s and you can tour it, churn your own butter - it's amazing.  You can also see how close this area is to New Jersey, and that section of the Delaware River isn't far from where George Washington made is famous crossing! 

Gertrude's tombstone is very simple, doesn't even have her last name listed, I think it's in a family plot.  The St. James cemetery dates back to the early 1700s and there are so many people buried there with ties to the revolutionary war and our earliest settlers in Pennsylvania.

White Rock Lake, Texas

White Rock Lake is a large reservoir in Texas. It’s a fairly normal lake other than the bizarre legend surrounding it. Legend tells that the area surrounding the lake is haunted by ‘the lady of White Rock lake’. She died during the 1930s at the young age of 20. To suit this, she can be seen wearing an old-fashioned dress soaked through with water. Like every other “Vanishing hitchhiker” on this list, she hitches a ride with kind strangers. A few minutes into the journey she tells the driver that she was just involved in an boating accident. Seconds after telling this, she completely disappears. Apparently she left behind a soaking wet book. The book contained no words – just blank pages.

Lydia of Jamestown, North Carolina (Suggested by Lisa Weaver and Michael Renegar)

June 20th of this year, 2018, marked the 98th anniversary of the crash that killed the woman known as the infamous Lydia who is the Jamestown Hitchhiker. Writers and ghost hunters Michael Renegar and Amy Greer wrote the book, “Looking for ‘Lydia:’ The Thirty-Year Search for the Jamestown Hitchhiker.” They think they have found the true identity of the spirit. The story of Lydia is very similar to all the other hitchhiking ghost stories. She is a beautiful woman who seems sad and just wants a ride home. She hangs out by Lydia's Bridge, which is actually an abandoned underpass about a hundred feet from where the present railway bridge crosses over East Main Street. The story goes that this woman was named Lydia and that she died at the underpass in a car accident after having been at a dance. Stories about Lydia mirror those of Resurrection Mary. She flags down a car, hops into the back seat, she gives her home address and then seems lost in another world, not open to conversation. She vanishes when the driver arrives at the address she has given. This story and the experiences have continued for nearly 100 years.

And while Michael and Amy believe the stories of the hitchhiking ghost, they think the information is wrong about Lydia. The main point being that her name was not Lydia. They believe she is Annie L. Jackson and that she was 35 years old when she died. Michael says that Annie's maternal grandmother Lucinda was known as Ludia, and that this was probably Annie's middle name. Ludia (Loodia) sounds similar to Lydia. And since Annie was 35, she certainly wasn't a young girl on her way home from a school dance. She was actually in a car with a male driver and another couple when the car flipped on a curved road in June of 1920. Only Annie was killed. A Greensboro Patriot article was written about the wreck back when it happened.

The legend usually claims that Lydia wants to be taken to her mother’s house in High Point, but Michael and Amy found that Annie Jackson’s parents died years before she did and that the house she wants to be taken to is that of her maternal first cousin and aunt whose house was in Jamestown near the underpass where Annie Jackson died.The story has been told and retold so many times that it eventually morphed into a young woman waiting in the rain for a ride to her mother's house after attending a dance. Based on the years of research that Michael and Amy have done, it would seem that Annie or Lydia was once a real person and could very possibly still be wandering the road where she died.

Resurrection Mary of Chicago, Illinois (Suggested by Kristin Swintek and Bonnie Nelson)

Archer Avenue in Chicago, Illinois is said to be one of the most haunted strips of road in America. One of the most famous hitchhiking ghosts calls this road home and that is Resurrection Mary. I've driven Archer Avenue and followed the path that Resurrection Mary took on the evening she died. I've also been to the cemetery where she is reportedly buried. Mary’s tale begins in the 1930’s. She went dancing with a date at the O Henry Ballroom, later known as the Willowbrook Ballroom. This location was still standing when I visited Chicago three years ago, but sadly, it burned to the ground in October of 2016. Mary and her boyfriend get into a fight sometime that evening and she stormed out of the dance hall. The evening was cold as Mary started making her way home up Archer Avenue. The evening was dark and a passing motorist didn't see Mary walking on the side of the road until it was too late. She was struck and killed and the driver fled the scene. Her parents had her buried in Resurrection Cemetery.

Some time after that, motorists started seeing a woman in white on the roadway. She looked very real and many of them would stop to offer her a ride. One such person was a taxicab driver who was traveling Archer Avenue in late December on the south side of Chicago. He noticed a young woman on the side of the road wearing what looked like a white cocktail dress and a thin shawl. She was not dressed for the elements and he pulled over to offer her a ride, which she accepted. Her hair was damp and she looked disheveled. She hopped into the back seat and told the driver to just continue down Archer Road. He tried to make small talk with her, but she wasn't interested in conversation.  A little ways down the road, the woman tells the driver to stop the car and that this is where she wants to stop. "You can’t get out here," he says to the young woman, "this is a cemetery!" She had been sitting in the back seat and when he glanced back at her, he sees that she is gone.

Mary was also said to appear at the O Henry Ballroom. A young man might dance with her for a while and then offer to give her a ride home. She would always accept and offer vague directions that would end up at the gates of Resurrection Cemetery. She would then disappear. More reports continued to come of people giving a young woman a ride, only to have her vanish.The more distressing stories featured Mary being in the road and getting hit, usually as she bolted out of the cemetery and into the roadway. When the motorists would stop to offer help, they would find no body. Some drivers claimed that their car passed right through the girl's body. Because the girl was thought to be Mary and since she was clearly connected to Resurrection Cemetery, the legend now calls her Resurrection Mary.
There are several theories as to who Mary really could have been. Some say that she is Mary Bregovy who was killed in an auto accident in 1934. The only problem is that she died on Wacker Drive in downtown Chicago. The car that she was riding in collided with an elevated train support and she was thrown through the windshield, so clearly this is not a woman who was walking down the side of the road and killed in a hit-and-run. Others have claimed that Mary was actually the ghost of a young woman named Mary Miskowski, who was killed crossing the street one night in October 1930 on her way to a costume party. No one knows for sure who Mary was, but the stories about her seem to be more than legend.There have been so many witnesses and the dates and times have been recorded, that this seems to be more than just an urban legend.

A man named Jerry Palus had one of the most credible stories. He claimed to have met Mary in 1939 and the encounter was so memorable that he still recalled it until his death in 1992. He appeared on a number of television shows sharing his experience. This is what happened. He went to the Liberty Grove and Hall, a dance hall that was near 47th Street and Mozart, and met a beautiful girl there. He asked her to dance and the couple spent several hours together. He noticed that this girl who called herself Mary had cold skin and when he leaned in to kiss her, her lips were cold and clammy. She seemed distant most of the evening as well. At the end of the evening, the young woman asked Palus for a ride home and she told him to drive down Archer Avenue. As they drove down the street, they approached the gates to Resurrection Cemetery and she asked him to pull over because she had to get out there. Palus was reluctant to leave her outside the cemetery and told her he would only let her out  if she allowed him to walk her across the street. She refused and said, "This is where I have to get out, but where I’m going, you can’t follow."

Palus watched as she quickly exited the car and ran towards the cemetery. Before she got to the gate, she disappeared before his very eyes. He was clearly shocked. The next day, he visited the address that the girl had told him the night before when he had asked where she lived when they were dancing. The woman who answered the door told him that he couldn’t have possibly been with her daughter the night before because she had been dead for several years. She invited him in and showed him a family portrait. There he saw the girl he had been dancing with and whom he gave a ride to the cemetery.

The most bizarre story occurred in 1976. A driver was passing by the cemetery around 10:30 one evening when he happened to see a girl standing on the other side of the gates. He said that when he saw her, she was wearing a white dress and grasping the iron bars of the gate. He didn't stop, but he went to the local police station and told them that a woman had been locked into the cemetery. An officer responded to the call, but when he arrived there was no one there. He went over to the gate for a closer look and he found that two of the bars in the gate had been pulled apart and bent at sharp angles. Even stranger was that at the points on the green-colored bronze where they had been pried apart there were blackened scorch marks. The marks had a skin texture and handprints seared into the metal. The marks of the small hands made big news and curiosity-seekers came from all over the area to see them. In an effort to discourage the crowds, cemetery officials attempted to remove the marks with a blowtorch, making them look even worse. Finally, they cut the bars off and installed a wire fence until the two bars could be straightened or replaced.

On September 5, 1980, a young man was leaving a softball game and driving down Archer Avenue. As he passed the Red Barrel Restaurant, he spotted a young woman standing on the side of the road in a white dress. He stopped the car and offered her a ride and she accepted, asking that he take her down Archer. He tried to draw her into conversation, even joking that she looked like "Resurrection Mary", but she was not interested in talking. He tried several times to get her to stop for a drink, but she never replied. He was driving past the cemetery, never having stopped or even slowed down, when he looked over and saw that the girl was gone. She had simply vanished!

Reports of Resurrection Mary continued into the 1990s, but nothing more recent has been reported. I myself saw no sign of Mary in either the cemetery or on Archer Road.

The stories about hitchhiking ghosts are so plentiful that it seems that some of them must be true. And if that is the case, why do so many spirits wander the roadways and why do so many take a ride in a car? For those that speak, we know they are intelligent and since they are not locked into some time/space continuum that is residual, why are they damned to walk the same road where they died? Do they vanish because they reach the limits of their boundary and can go no further? For those that leave their grave, is it truly because they need a ride back because the walk is too far? Are there really hitchhiking ghosts out there in the world? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Ep. 279 - Ferry Plantation House and the Virginia Witch

Moment in Oddity - Flaming Hole Opens Up in Arkansas

There is a curious hole in Arkansas that opened up in September of 2018. What makes this hole in the ground so bizarre is the fact that it had 12 foot flames shooting out of it. The phenomenon lasted for only 40 minutes and in that time, several people witnessed this flaming hole. The hole opened up on someone's private property and it has stumped investigators. Some have reasoned that it was space junk that fell from the sky and made a hole, while others think it was a gas leak. None of these theories seemed possible since the hole has actually been around for over ten years. So I guess we're left with the only plausible explanation, could it be Satan?  Baxter County Judge Mickey Pendergrass told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that he had ruled out Satan stating, "As far as the spiritual Satan goes, we've ruled that out. ... He didn't come up and stick his pitchfork in the ground and blow that hole out." Investigators are sending out soil samples to see if they can find any answers. One thing is for certain, a mysterious flaming hole opening up in Arkansas, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - William H. Eddy Dies

In the month of October, on the 25th, in 1932, William H. Eddy passed away.William and his brother Horatio were born in Chittenden Vermont and even though they had humble beginnings, they would soon become famous for their abilities as mediums. Henry Olcott was sent by New York's Daily Graphic to investigate the amazing reports about the Eddy Brothers. He spent ten weeks living with the brothers and was present at multiple seances where he claims to have seen extraordinary things. Olcott told the story over fifteen articles. Olcott claimed that he saw about 400 apparitions of all sizes, sexes, and races come out of a cabinet the brothers used during seances. He tested everything, measured everything and looked for all forms of trickery and could find nothing. He was convinced the Eddy Brothers were the real deal and said that William Eddy had a real knack for producing apparitions. The two main spirits William would produce were a Native American chief named Santum and a Native American woman named Honto. Many believe Olcott was gullible and the Eddy Brothers were just good tricksters. William broke away from his brother Horatio and had nothing to do with spiritualism again. He never married and when he died in October of 1932, he was 99 years old. To hear more about the famous brothers, check out Episode 191.

Ferry Plantation House and the Virginia Witch

The site where the Ferry Plantation House stands in Virginia Beach was once the scene of a trial for a woman accused of practicing witchcraft. That woman was Grace Sherwood and it would be her neighbors that claimed she was a witch who had bewitched their land and animals. She underwent the test of ducking to see if she was, indeed, a witch. Over the years, several houses stood on the site, falling victim to fires. The most recent house is a great example of Federal architecture and features a glimpse of Colonial life. This home also features ghostly activity produced by reputedly many apparitions. The Ferry Farm is said to be one of the most haunted locations in Virginia. Listener Whitney Zahar joins me to discuss the life of Grace Sherwood and the history and haunts of the Ferry Plantation House!

Rabbit hole on bikes: Some historians credit the invention of the pedal bicycle to Kirkpatrick MacMillan. He was a Scottish blacksmith who added pedals to the bicycle in 1839. Before that, people did the Flinstones thing, propelling forward with their feet. The Boneshaker Bike - Many historians credit Pierre and Ernest Michaux as being the true inventors of the modern bicycle. These two were carriage makers who were father and son and they first assembled a two-wheeled vélocipède, or what came to be known as The Boneshaker, around 1867. This bike was propelled like a tricycle, with its cranks and pedals connected to the front wheel. The design to the U.S. in 1863.

The Ferry Farm sounds like a wonderful place to visit and it is nice to hear that Grace Sherwood finally got her deserved pardon. Is there some kind of energy left over from this superstitious time that feeds into the paranormal activity at the site? Are there really nearly a dozen ghosts here? Is the Ferry Plantation House haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Ep. 278 - Edinburgh Vaults

Moment in Oddity - The Winsted Wildman

There is a legend out of Connecticut that is a variation on the Bigfoot legend and this is the story of the Winsted Wildman. This creature was first reported in 1895 in the Winsted Herald as "a large man, stark naked, and covered with hair all over his body, [who] ran out of a clump of bushes." The person to witness the wildman was town selectman Riley Smith. He had been out in the woods looking for berries with his bulldog when the creature appeared terrifying both the man and his dog. Smith described it as "a wild, hairy man of the woods, six feet in height,"and "the man’s hair was black and hung down long on his shoulders, and that his body was thickly covered with black hair. The man was remarkably agile, and to all appearance was a muscular, brawny man, a man against whom any ordinary man would stand little chance." Two other men saw the Winsted Wildman and speculation started as to who or what this thing could be with the Winsted Herald speculating that the Wildman may have been Arthur Beckwith, an escaped mental patient from the nearby Litchfield Sanitarium. The  Winsted Wildman seemed to disappear until eighty years later when he was seen again in 1972. The Hartford Courant reported that a "strange, man-like creature" was observed by two young men on Winchester Road, near Crystal Lake Reservoir. They described it as "eight feet tall and covered with hair" that walked upright and finally disappeared into the woods. People said it was just a bear, but the two men were emphatic that "it was no bear." The Wildman was seen again in 1974 by two couples parked at night. They said they saw a "six-foot, 300-pound creature covered with dark-colored hair." Police could find nothing. There are those who claim the story was just made up by Louis Timothy Stone, the editor of the Winsted Herald in order to sell papers. This seems to be something he did quite a bit. But how to explain the more recent sightings? If the Winsted Wildman was anything more than just a bear, that would certainly be odd!

This Month in History - Serial Killers William Burke and William Hare Kill Their Final Victim

In the month of October, on the 31st, in 1828, William Burke and William Hare kill their final victim. The Judgement of Death Act of 1823 required judges to enter a sentence of death on the court record, but they could then commute the sentence to imprisonment. Medical and anatomical schools were only allowed to use the bodies of condemned criminals for dissection. This act made the availability of bodies very limited and thus the unscrupulous practice of grave robbing took root. William Hare immigrated to Scotland from Ireland and eventually became keeper of a lodging house in Edinburgh. William Burke was also Irish-born and he arrived at the lodging house in 1827. An old pensioner died in the house and so his rent went unpaid. Hare was upset about losing the money and stole the body from its coffin with the help of Burke and sold it to a surgeon named Robert Knox. The men were happy with their profit and decided to do more of this, only they didn't grave rob, they just murdered people and sold the bodies. It's believed they killed 15 unknown wayfarers who stayed at the lodging house. They would get the men drunk and smother them. Their last victim was Marjory Docherty, whom they killed and hid under a bed on Halloween. They tried to keep the guests who were staying in that room from entering, but they entered anyway and discovered the body. Burke's wife tried to bribe them to be quiet, but it was reported and soon the multiple murderers were discovered. Hare turned king’s evidence and was released and disappeared. Burke was tried for murder, found guilty and hanged. The Burke and Hare case inspired the horror films The Body Snatcher from 1945 and The Flesh and the Fiends from 1959.

Edinburgh Vaults

In the late 18th century, two bridges were built in Edinburgh to help the city to expand over the hills that were part of the area, the North Bridge and the South Bridge. The South Bridge linked the Old Town’s High Street with the University buildings on the south side of the city and housed a number of chambers that were first used for businesses and later became a seedy part of the city. These chambers are known today as the Edinburgh Vaults. Because of some of the illegal activity and the living conditions in the vaults, they are reputedly the most haunted site in Scotland. Join me as we explore the history and hauntings of the Edinburgh Vaults!

The Edinburgh Vaults of the South Bridge are located within chambers formed in the nineteen arches of the bridge. Construction on the vaults began in 1785 and was completed in 1788. The bridge consisted of 19 stone arches, hit 31 feet at its highest point and spanned a chasm just over 1000 feet long. There were three levels to the bridge. The street level had store fronts that included taverns and markets. The level below the street was used for cobbler and other tradesmen's workshops and storage. The third level contained 120 rooms, which were used for living space. This arrangement lasted for thirty years. The red light district would form after this time, but even before that there were some operations starting that were outside of the normal businesses like this report on Saturday 1 July 1815 in The Edinburgh Evening Courant,
"On the 24th inst. Mr McKenzie, supervisor, accompanied by Mess. Gorie and McNaugton, officers, discovered a private distillery, of considerable extent, under the arch of the South Bridge, which has been working these 18 months past, to the great injury of the revenue. The particulars of this seizure are worthy of notice, from the great pains which had been taken to prevent disclosure. The original door to the place where the operations were going forward had been carefully built up and plastered over, so as to prevent any appearance of an entrance. Behind a grate in the fireplace of a bed-room, an opening had been made, and fitted with an iron door and lock, exactly fitting the grate, which could only be seen by being removed; and this passage led to the flat above by a trap-door and ladder, where the still was working. This place again was in one of the deaf arches, immediately adjoining the middle arch of the bridge, (now The Caves venue), and the person had found means to convey a pipe from one of the town’s branches, which gave a plentiful supply of water. A soil pipe was also got at, and a hole broke through into a neighbouring vent to carry off the smoke. Besides the still, a considerable quantity of wash, and some low wines, were found in the premises; also many casks, mash ton, large tubs, etc. The spirits were said to have been conveyed away in a tin case, made to contain two or three gallons, which was again put into a green bag, and carried out by a woman under her cloak."
Things for the vaults changed after huge cracks began to form in the bridge. The South Bridge that had been considered an engineering marvel was actually flawed and these cracks that formed allowed water and waste from the city to flow into the vault’s lower levels. The conditions deteriorated rapidly and the businesses left in the 1820s. They were replaced with the poor and homeless of the city moving inside the vaults and in 1845, the vaults were overwhelmed with Irish immigrants trying to get away from the potato famine. Slum lords took advantage of the desperate people and would cram as many people into a space as they could, which usually amounted to 10 people living in a space meant for one person. Conditions were so bad that the residents began moving out in the 1860s. Proof that people once lived here was found during excavations in 1985. There were dishes, medicine bottles, toys and other household goods. Before this time, many people didn't believe that anybody had lived in the vaults. The reason why excavations needed to be done is because the vaults had been filled in with rubble to prevent squatters and effectively passed out of memory.

After the tradesmen left, disreputable businesses moved in and crime became the norm in the vaults. A vast red-light district took hold, smuggling operations were carried out and people were murdered. The cramped spaces became a hiding place for body snatchers who needed dark places to come and go more easily. There are even rumors that in the 1820s, the infamous serial killers William Burke and William Hare lurked within the vaults and may have killed some of their 16 victims there. I have found no evidence to back that up and as the Month in History details, the murders seemed to have happened at the boarding house, not the vaults. Add in the rampant disease and the vaults were a dangerous place to enter and live. So the South Bridge had a horrible reputation as being a slum.

There was a decades old belief that the bridge was cursed and the reason that it was cursed was because of the first person to cross the expanse. It was decided before the bridge was completed that a well known and respected judge's wife should be the first to cross. Several days before the bridge was opened, the woman passed away. The city fathers felt that they should keep up their end of the deal and so they decided to carry the woman's coffin across the bridge. The people of Edinburgh were a very superstitious people and they felt that carrying a dead woman across the bridge was bad luck and that the bridge was now cursed. But was this just superstition or could it really be true? And what of the claim that the Edinburgh Vaults are the most haunted place in Scotland?

One of the main areas that ghost tours in Edinburgh visit is the Blair Street Vaults, which are part of the South Bridge and can be entered through Barrie's Close. (For those who don't know, a close is basically an alleyway.) Let me give you a visual of what the vaults are like today and then imagine that this place is full of people, some with harmful intent for you. The air is dank and damp and cold. The dark grey walls seep water and are crumbling. Those decaying walls covered in slime, press in causing claustrophobia before eventually opening into cavernous spaces. This is an underground labyrinth of twists and turns. It is easy to get lost.

Mercat Ghost Tours guide Nicola Wright, who has worked in and around the Vaults for 11 years, said, “We do get an awful lot of activity and the reports have been getting more frequent in recent weeks. This is a very sinister place. There are lots of dark, dark spirits down here...Lots of guides have experiences. I train a lot of the guides and often when they are new we get a lot of activity, because the spirits aren’t used to them. They hear things, they get pushed, they hear footsteps, they see faces. Tourists feel things as well. Temperature changes - quite often the temperature will drop suddenly. We had reports of footsteps last night, people seeing figures. A lot of time people are taking pictures and they tell me ‘you realise there’s a woman standing behind you?’ but I’m fine with it.” The tours have recorded some unexplained activity. I had a friend take one of these tours several years ago and they captured a weird green mist in a couple of photos that was not visible with the naked eye. They also had a young boy on the tour who screamed in terror and wanted out of the vaults. He complained that his back hurt and upon lifting up his shirt, they discovered a red hand print as though someone had hit him.

Other visitors to the vaults have experienced the full array of ghostly activity from disembodied voices to strange sounds to cold blasts of air to full-bodied apparitions. The Wine Vault is said to be teeming with activity. The ghost of young boy named Jack is said to be here and he is known to grab the hands of visitors. The Occult Chamber is one of the creepier areas and is rumored to have been a place where satanic rituals and other occult practices were conducted. One legend that seems rather outlandish was that a woman was sacrificed on a mysterious square brick in the center of the chamber after being tortured for days.

Mr. Boots is the most well known ghost haunting the vaults. He is described as a shabby and tall man who likes to keep to the back section of the vaults. He throws stones at visitors to get their attention and occasionally pushes them. People hear his heavily booted disembodied footsteps and his voice cursing throughout the chambers. The White Room is the abode of the spirit that is thought to be the worst here and that is the Watcher. This spirit instills feelings of dread into most people, especially psychics. This specter gives the chilling feeling of being watched, which is where his nickname comes from. The tour guide Nicola says she won’t go into The White Room and that "people have come out of the room and found they had scratch marks or bruising, they’ve had their clothes torn, they feel very nauseous. If you take photographs quite often faces will appear in them. I won’t go into that particular room. He warns people not to enter, he shouts at people, he pushes people."

In 2003, a BBC Radio producer named Debbie McPhail wanted to cover the history of the vaults and she took the Edinburgh Vaults’ owner down into the underground to conduct the interview. When she returned to the BBC offices and began going through the audio, she noticed that there was another voice on the tapes that did not belong to her or the owner. This voice told the two to “get out.” McPhail told reporters, “When I was listening back to it, I could hear Norrie Rowan [the vault owner] chatting and then I heard another voice. It was close by to the microphone because you can tell if voices are far away or not. I knew it wasn’t the presenter or Norrie because the voice had a slightly Irish accent. But I couldn’t understand why no-one responded to it. When the presenter came back up I asked him who they had met in the vault and he said nobody. My husband thought it could be Gaelic and I asked a colleague who spoke the language and she said they could be saying ‘get out’ or ‘go away’. I have no reason to doubt it. You could sit forever and make explanations for it, but it’s there on the disc and that’s good enough for me.”

A bartender from a bar right next to the Vaults claims that he left an orange on the bar and when he came back, it had been perfectly peeled and no one was in the bar with him. Joe Swash spent a night in the vaults by himself in 2009 for a BBC program and picked up the EVP of a Catholic priest reciting the last rights for 20 minutes. A journalist for The Scotsman reported some experiences they had during a ghost hunt, "In another vault [our guide Ewan] sensed a room that was at one time used as a men-only drinking tavern. Ewan explained that every tour party he brings into this room splits immediately into male and female groups which, he said, was possibly due to previously being a male-dominated environment. A look around the room confirmed this to be true. The final room we entered featured a number of large stones laid out in a circle on the floor. We were told that this room had once been used by the witches who still practise today in a specially fitted-out room in the vaults. The witches had sensed a mischievous spirit in the room and had conducted a sermon to trap whatever was lurking within inside the stone circle.Those who have entered the circle are said to wake up with scratches on their legs the next morning."

The Edinburgh Vaults have an old and dark history. Many people probably lost their lives here through illness and murder. Is it possible that some of their spirits remain in the underground? Are the Edinburgh Vaults haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:
Mercat Ghost Tours:

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Ep. 277 - Iron Island Museum

Moment in Oddity - The Koreshan State Historic Site

Many people have heard of the Hollow Earth Theory, but not many know that a cult of followers of this belief had once built their very own Utopia. Today, that Utopia is known as Koreshan State Historic Site. Cyrus Teed was born in 1839 and he became a physicist and alchemist. One day, Teed claimed that God spoke to him and told him to start a new religion. Teed was to take the name of Koresh and call this new religion Koreshanity. The core belief of the group was that the Earth and sky existed inside the inner surface of a sphere, which is one unique interpretation of the Hollow earth Theory. Teed claimed that Jesus was the sixth messiah and that he himself was the seventh messiah. In 1894, the group moved to the small Florida town of Estero and began building what they called "New Jerusalem." At their peak, the community had 250 residents. Teed died in 1908 and the group's numbers began to decline and the finally Koreshan died in 1961. The community was deeded to the state of Florida before that and was turned into a state historic site. So today, you can canoe the river near the Seven Sisters' Planetary Court and stop in to see the models of the Universe that have the Earth inside a concave sphere and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - First Double-decked Steamboat Arrives in New Orleans.

In the month of October, on the 7th, in 1816, the first double-decked steamboat, named the Washington, arrived at New Orleans. Henry M. Shreve designed The Washington and that design would prove to be ideal for western rivers. That original design included elements that we associate with the classic steamboat powering up the Mississippi: a two-story deck, a stern-mounted paddle wheel powered by a high-pressure steam engine, a shallow, flat-bottomed hull, and a pilothouse framed by two tall chimneys. The currents of the mighty Mississippi were tackled in record time for the Washington, which managed to reach Louisville in only 25 days after leaving New Orleans. The flat-bottomed hull was perfect for the shallow western rivers and The Washington started offering cargo and passenger service. Soon other paddlewheelers were produced and at the peak of the era, there were 740 steamboats traveling the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. The boom ended by the late 19th century as the railroad started taking over.

Iron Island Museum

The Iron Island Museum is said to be the perfect spooky spot for anyone in western New York to enjoy a little Halloween fun. For those of us who celebrate Halloween year round, this museum is the perfect spot for a ghostly encounter. The tales of experiences are numerous and this location has been featured in multiple paranormal television shows. The museum showcases the charming and proud history of the Lovejoy neighborhood in Buffalo. The memorabilia is a sight to see and the place is crammed so full, it takes several hours to enjoy it all. And perhaps this is why the place is so haunted, all that memorabilia. Or could it be the former use for the building causing the hauntings? Join me as I explore the history and hauntings of the Iron Island Museum.

Hearing the name Iron Island probably immediately makes one think that this location is located on an island somewhere, but that is not the case. Iron Island is the name given to the Lovejoy neighborhood in Buffalo, New York because it is bordered on its perimeter by railroad tracks. The neighborhood was settled by Italian, German and Irish immigrants. Migrants from the rural south would come later, but the area is dominated by Italians. The neighborhood gets its name from Sarah Lovejoy who was an American killed during the War of 1812 in December of 1813 during a British-Indian raid on Buffalo. Most of the men from the settlement went to Black Rock to defend against the British attack and Sarah remained behind with her 12-year-old son, Henry. When the British Native Americans arrived in Buffalo, Sarah sent Henry into the woods because she figured it would keep him safe from being kidnapped and that the raiders would not harm a woman. The Native Americans ransacked the house and Sarah fought with them as she tried to save her property. Legend claims she stated, “When my property goes, my life shall go with it.” During the melee, she was stabbed with a tomahawk and her body was dragged into the yard. The neighbors put her body in the house after the troops left, but the next day the British burned much of the settlement and Sarah's body was burned up with her house. There is a cenotaph in Forest Lawn Cemetery to honor Sarah and also a memorial in Mumford Rural Cemetery near her parents.

The Iron Island Museum is dedicated to preserving the memory of the Lovejoy neighborhood and it has its home in a building donated in August of 2000 by businessman Anthony Amigone. The building was formerly a church and a funeral home that dates back to the late 1800s. He decided to donate the property when he read about the efforts of the Iron Island Preservation Society of Lovejoy, Inc. The preservation society was formed in 1994 with the mission "to preserve and beautify the Iron Island neighborhood and improve the quality of life for the residents." They've done a lot of fundraisers to beautify the parks and held various events. The museum celebrated its grand opening in October of 2000 and features military uniforms, railroad memorabilia, a wooden altar from a neighborhood 1896 church and a model of the New York Central Terminal.

The history of the building starts with a small wooden church on the site in the late 1800s and a parsonage erected to the west at 994 Lovejoy Street. The brick church that is there now was erected in 1883 and opened in 1885 by a Methodist-Episcopal church. For some reason, the church building was abandoned for a short while starting in the 1940s and then bought in 1956 by a funeral director who used it as a funeral home, known as Church Funeral Home. An area with three viewing rooms was added inside and an apartment was attached. Three different funeral directors ran the home up until it was donated. Iron Island Museum has a well-known reputation for being haunted and they embrace it offering ghost tours and overnights. Ghost Lab and Ghost Hunters have featured the location on episodes as well.

There are several ghosts here with the most famous being Edgar Zernicke. Edgar was 87 when he died in 1992. His remains were cremated and when the funeral home was closed, the remains of Edgar along with seven others were left in the basement in quart-sized paint cans. Nobody had claimed them.  Edgar had been a Marine who fought in the Sandino Rebellion in Nicaragua in 1928 and he later joined the Navy in the early 1930s. He eventually moved to Buffalo and he lived in the East Delavan area working as a tool and die maker. Once it was realized that his remains were left in the basement, he was given a full military burial at Bath National Cemetery in September of 2010. The discovery of Edgar as the ghost and owner of these cremains was made by Chip Coffey who visited the museum with Ghost Hunters. He told Linda Hastreiter, co-owner of the Iron Island Museum, that the ghost's name started with the letter "E," and then later he got the name Edgar. Later, Hastreiter was going through the list of names from the cans that had been left behind by the funeral home in the basement closet and she saw the name "Edgar Zernicke." She was able to identify the other soldiers in cans and all of them were escorted with Edgar by Patriot Guard Riders to the cemetery. This did not put Edgar to rest though. He still haunts the building.

Speaking of Linda, her first ghost experience in the building happened in December of 2000. The museum was hosting a Christmas party and Linda was in the kitchen prepping stuff when she heard tables and chairs being moved around in the front room. Not a problem if you have a group setting up, but when you are in the building alone? Linda made her exit quickly and called a volunteer to join her in checking the building. They found nothing moved.

Visitors and employees claim that there are also two spirits of 6-year-old boys who had been waked at the funeral home hanging around the museum. There wakes took place in the 1960s. EVP have captured spirit voices and entities have been caught in photos and in videos. The psychic Karyn Reece visited for a lecture and during her talk she mentioned that an orb was hovering over a man in the back. He was a skeptic and shrugged his shoulders unconcerned of her observation. He got a little nervous though when someone turned and snapped his picture and the orb was clearly visible above his head in the picture.

When Ghost Hunters was there, they captured evidence and had experiences. One of the investigators was standing in the hall speaking to another team member when she saw a shadow shape move in front of the door and then the door opened and closed. This was a door that had been locked. Grant climbed the ladder to the old church attic and he saw a dark figure and a voice seemed to emanate from it. The group captured disembodied footsteps and voices and some EVP.

Cindy from Ontario posted on TripAdvisor: "I was taking pictures with my cellphone in the attic room when it inexplicably took 2 pictures automatically in slow succession. I swear I did not do anything to my phone to make it take those pictures and my friend witnessed the whole thing as well. A few of the girls felt the 'spider web' feeling brushing against their arms a few times. We also think we caught an EVP while recording our conversation. Sounds like a male voice but cannot clearly make out what was said. Not sure if any of these things were truly paranormal ... my husband is still a huge skeptic lol. Mind you, he wouldn't go down in the basement by himself in the dark. All in all we had such a fun and enjoyable evening and would recommend this experience to others."

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Ep. 276 - Schenck Mansion Bed and Breakfast

Moment in Oddity - Victor's Way

Victor's Way is an adult contemplative park found near Roundwood, County Wicklow, Ireland. The privately owned 9-hectare garden is full of paths and black granite sculptures and was dedicated to cryptographer Alan Turing. The sculptures found in this park and quite unusual. Eight of the statues feature the Hindu elephant god Ganesha doing various activities like reading, playing instruments and dancing and there's even a small pint of Guinness next to one of them. One of the Ganesha statues has a little mouse standing behind it in street clothes complete with baseball cap and fanny pack. One of the creepier sculptures is named the Fasting Buddha and it basically is a skeleton in the lotus position. There is a large python-shaped seat and a young male statue that has its head split as an icon to indecision. The Shiva Lingam is a large finger pointing to the sky. The Ferryman's End is creepy looking too featuring a man who is relative skin and bones in murky water up to his chest and appearing in great distress. For a contemplative park that should bring one peace, Victor's Way sure has some creepy and disturbing statues and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - The Lascaux Cave Discovered

In the month of September, on the 12th, in 1940, four teenage boys exploring a fox den near Montignac discover the Lascaux Cave. The Lascaux Cave contained murals with a menagerie of animals including enormous bulls, horses and deer and there was one rare image of a human. The artwork numbered 600 pieces and was dated back to the Paleolithic period, circa 18,000 years ago. The paintings covered the walls and ceiling. The teenage boys who made the discovery were Marcel Ravidat, Gerorges Agniel, Simon Coencas and Jacques Marsal. It was decided toopen the cave complex to the general public on July 14, 1948. The cave was a huge draw for tourists and by 1955, the paintings were suffering damage from carbon dioxide and humidity that was generated by the 1,200 visitors per day coming to see the wall paintings. Added to this was fungi and lichen that began to spread across the cave walls. It got so bad that the cave was closed to the public in 1963. The paintings have since been restored to their original state and are monitored daily, but no one is allowed to visit save for a couple of scientists on occasion. The Lascaux Cave is considered the finest of all prehistoric painted caves made by Cro Magnons man and was named an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

Schenck Mansion (Suggested by: Patricia Emmenegger Groce)

The former Benjamin Schenck Mansion in Vevay, Indiana is today known as the Schenck Mansion Bed & Breakfast Inn. The two story Second Empire-style mansion has over 8,000 square feet of living space and is furnished with antique and reproduction furniture. The home was built over 144 years ago and has had multiple owners and served a variety of purposes. Today, it not only welcomes guests, but reputedly is quite haunted. Join me as I explore the history and hauntings of the Schenck Mansion!

Vevay (Vee Vee), Indiana is a traditional small mid-western town situated along the Ohio River. This episode is dropping right before October begins here in 2018, so I would be remiss if I did not mention their Sleepy Hollow Festival on October 13th, featuring booths, costume contests, pumpkin carving contests and a scavenger hunt to find the head of the headless horsemen. Vevay sits in the southeast corner of Indiana and was founded by Swiss immigrants in 1802 as New Switzerland. For this reason, it was named after the Swiss town of Vevay. The town was incorporated in 1836. One of its claims to fame is that it had the first commercial winery in America. The town also served as a busy port city. It was here that Benjamin Schenck decided to build his mansion.

Benjamin Franklin Schenck was the son of a wealthy “hay king” during the steamboat era named Ulysses P. Schenck. Ulysses had been born in Switzerland and his parents emigrated to America when he was young and he got into merchandising. he used steamboats to move his products up and down the river and in 1854, he built the "Switzerland" steamboat with his brother. This went on to serve on the Union side of the Civil War as a gunboat. He got his nickname of "Hay King" because he bought and sold large quantities of hay. Benjamin was born in Louisville, Kentucky on November 3rd in 1834. He went to law school at Poughkeepsie, New York and was admitted to the bar, but decided law was not for him and he joined his father in the mercantile business. He added the purchase of the Vevay Weekly News to his business holdings in the 1850s and edited it for several years. He also manufactured ink with a partner named John Henry. Benjamin began work on his mansion in 1874.

The mansion was constructed on a hill, giving it its nickname "House on the Hill."  The design was Second Empire and the architect was George P. Humphries, who was out of Cincinnati. The total cost of the construction was $67,000. The Second Empire style was very popular after the Civil War and the Schenck Mansion has several prominent features including its square four-storied tower, dormer windows and the Mansard roof. The house had 35 rooms and five bathrooms and keep in mind that at the time, having just one bathroom in a house was a luxury. The running water was supplied from a reservoir located on the hill. The bathrooms also had the added luxury of a bathtub and all of them were walnut cased and copper lined. There was central heating with a gravity hot air system and the lighting was all gas. Unbelievably, the Schencks designed the mansion with iys own carbide generator to manufacture gas. The mansion also featured four porches, seven balconies, eight chimneys, thirteen fireplaces, over fifty windows and a summer kitchen at the far end of the house. The roof was made from slate and the exterior trim was fashioned from tin. The interior was as gorgeous as the exterior with the shutters and trim all originally faux grained.  There was a butler’s pantry that had shelves, twenty-six drawers and cupboards of various sizes from floor to ceiling.

By November of 1874, Benjamin's health began to deteriorate and he was told to go to Florida for a while, so he and his family spent the winter and spring in Jacksonville, Florida. They returned to Vevay in the summer and the family was able to spend that summer and the next in the mansion, although it was not finished being constructed. The family returned to Florida in 1877 and Benjamin died there in April at the young age of 42. He never got to see his home completed. His wife Celestine lived in the mansion intermittently until her death in December 1885. The Schencks had three daughters and they held onto the mansion until 1923, but it was mostly abandoned through the early twentieth century. In 1923, they gave the mansion and the sixty-five acres around it to the Indiana Baptist Convention. The church eventually returned it to the family.

In 1945, the mansion was bought by Clarence and Lulu Wiseman to use as their home and a clubhouse for the Switzerland County Saddle Club. The second floor they rented out as a tenement. Major T. and Ruth E. Jester bought the home in 1966 and they sold off the land around the property, save for six acres. The Wisemans had put in a trailer park at the end of the driveway and they sold this to Ervin and Lynn M. Wilson. The next owners were Burrel C. Farnsley and Alexander “Sandy” Speer of Louisville. They bought the property in 1972 and they began restoration efforts. In 1981, they gave up their efforts to restore the house and sold the property to their friend Mark C. Miles. He continued restorations and then put the mansion up on the market where it sat for several years before being bought by Jerry and Lisa Fisher in 1998. They completed all the renovation in 2000 and opened it as a bed and breakfast. The Fishers also got rid of the trailer park and landscaped the property with terracing, a patio, water features and a vineyard. The current innkeepers are Steve and Jenny.

The restored mansion was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and features reproduction period wool carpet from England and Scotland, but also modern amenities like air-conditioning, flat screen TVs, clock radio with docking for iPods and WiFi. The Music Room was on the first floor and is now known as The Wiseman Room. Four of the other guest rooms are named for members of the Schenck family and several contain canopy beds. The reviews on TripAdvisor were raving about how great this place is to stay. It seems to be so comfortable, that some spirits have decided to make it their home in the afterlife. There are claims that upwards of six to seven ghosts reside in this inn.

Guests report hearing disembodied voices and footsteps. Shadow figures have been seen in the rooms at night. There is a Lady in White here who haunts the second floor. She seems almost to be residual as she just floats through the hallway and doesn't seem to take notice of anybody. One of the most common reports comes from male guests who claim to be kissed in the middle of the night by someone they can't see. Could this be the Woman in White?

There is another female ghost here that has been described as an Amish Housekeeper. She is brusque and usually is seen on the stairway and passes by guests who think of her as rude since she doesn't respond to their requests. The guests will go up to the innkeepers and complain about the housekeeper only to be told that no such woman is employed by the inn.

There are legends connected to the mansion that I'm not sure of their historical accuracy, but they might help explain the hauntings. It is said that the mansion is built on the ruins of another structure that had been lost to fire and a couple had been trapped inside. Another story is about a woman named Sarah who took pity on Civil War soldiers and took them into her home. This could be where the story of fire comes from because Sarah took in Confederates too. A militia came upon the house and they were enraged. They tied up both Sarah and the Confederate soldier and burned the house. No one knew the name of the soldier until they saw it written in the dirt after the fire...Ed. Another story told about this earlier house was that a couple lived here and the husband was sent off to fight in the war. He returns home to find his wife in bed with another man and he kills them both before killing himself. This scene is said to replay itself in the mansion that was built over their home. There are people who report mysteriously lights flickering and weird sounds and in the words of Michele Thompson, one of the Schenck’s innkeepers, “There are things that just…happen.”

The Schenck Mansion is a beautiful historic bed and breakfast that offers wonderful luxury. With these tales of supernatural occurrences, it would seem that some previous residents of this home or area are reluctant to leave. Is the Benjamin Schenck Mansion Bed and Breakfast haunted? That is for you to decide!

Historic Hoosier Theater - The Hoosier Theatre was built in 1837 and was originally meant to be a warehouse and store. Over the years it was used as a saddlery, a post office, a tavern, the offices of the Vevay Newspaper and a 225 seat theatre, which it became in 1926. It was abandoned in 1955 and sat vacant until 1983, when Historic Vevay, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation was formed to purchase and restore the building. The theater was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 and re-opened in 1987 and continues to operate as a theater.

Forgotten Memories Antiques

Julia Knox House Gift Shop - The Julia Knox House was built in 1870 and sits along the main street. It was three stories tall and named for Julia Knox who inherited the property from her parents. She was a historian and direct descendant of one of the families that founded Vevay. The house is now a gift shop that was re-opened in 2016 as a family owned and operated business.

Old Jail

Show Notes:
The Original Vevay Ghost Tour: "We are "The Original" Vevay Ghost Tour. Experience Vevay and learn about the history, haunts, and spooky happenings from days gone by to current experiences. Tours are October 26, and 28 (2018). We start at 7:00pm from Vevay Vintage Prop & Shop (110 E. Main Street Vevay). Tickets are $32/person and available by phone at 812-493-9572 (leave message if after business hours) or in person at Vevay Vintage Prop & Shop (110 E. Main Street Vevay). We recommend purchasing tickets in advance as each tour has only a small limited number available for your best possible experience. We will tour four locations throughout town and walk about 1.5-2 miles (there are also stairs) over the 2.5-3 hour tour. You will get to meet and hear the stories of those who have had 'experiences'."