Moment in Oddity - The Human Fly Dies at Rutherford County Courthouse
The Atlanta Constitution reported on April 7, 1923: "'Human Fly' Falls Off Court House Steeple to Death, "Stunt" Performer Instantly Killed in 40-foot Drop to Roof." A story of this sort with a man claiming to be a human fly certainly catches the eye of a Fortean. The Human Fly was a young man of 25 named Ray Royce who was a daredevil steeplejack. He arrived in Murfreesboro, Tennessee in 1923 with his sights set on scaling the Rutherford County Courthouse. He asked officials for permission and told them that he would only be using his hands and feet, so there would be no damage to the building. He also pointed out that he had scaled taller buildings successfully. They agreed to let him do it and then he went about getting local businesses to sponsor his great feat. Two hundred people gathered to watch on the night of April 6, 1923 and a hat was passed around for donations, which came back with only $12. Royce was not deterred and he began his accent with the spotlight from a firetruck lighting the scene. He quickly climbed the brick exterior and made it past the second floor courtroom and onto the flat roof. He then climbed the steel cupola and stood over the weather vane. He had made it to the top, some 200 feet above the crowd. They cheered and that should have been it for the show. Royce climbed down to the roof, but then for a reason only he knows, he decided to climb the cupola again. A light rain had begun falling and predictably, he lost his grip and fell 40 feet. He broke his neck and knocked a hole into his head. People would find out that Royce was really James A. Dearing and that Ray Royce was a stage name. Royce wasn't the first man to claim to be a human fly and he wouldn't be the last and he wouldn't be the only one to die. Why he chose to climb back up the courthouse will remain a mystery and certainly is odd!
This Month in History - The Reuben James Torpedoed
In the month of October, on the 31st, in 1941 the USS Reuben James was sunk by a German torpedo. Construction of the Reuben James began on April 2, 1919 and was launched in October of 1919. This was a four-funnel Clemson-class destroyer and named for Boatswain's Mate Reuben James whom had fought heroically in the First Barbary War. It was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet and participated in post-World War I activities, particularly helping refugees. When World War II started, she joined the Neutrality Patrol, guarding the Atlantic coast. The Reuben James eventually started escorting convoys to Great Britain and Iceland. Her final voyage would start on October 23, 1941 and launched from Newfoundland. She was accompanied by four other destroyers with a mission to escort the eastbound Convoy HX 156. Right off of Iceland, she was torpedoed by U-552. It was a heroic act as the destroyer got between an Allied ammunition ship and a group of German U-boats. Her entire bow was blown off and immediately sank. The back end of the ship was below the waves in five minutes. The attack killed 100 men, leaving only 44 of the crew members alive. Pearl Harbor had not been attacked yet, so this sinking of an American ship happened before America had entered the war, making it the first US Navy ship sunk in the European theater.
1889 McInteer Villa (Suggested by listener Laura Weikel)
Atchison, Kansas was once a really prosperous town and John McInteer laid down roots here. The McInteer Villa began as a grand home for the McInteer family and over the last century it has been a place of comfort for many people. For several decades it was a boarding house and then eventually it became a private home once again. Through that time, it has not only been a place for the living, but also for, reputedly, the dead. There are several here and the McInteer Villa hosts tours and investigations. This location helps solidify Atchison as one of the most haunted towns in Kansas. Join me and the owners of the McInteer Villa, Stephanie and Jeff Neal, as we discuss the history and hauntings of this historic home!
Jeff and Stephanie have definitely had many of their own experiences and, of course, I love that Jeff is a skeptic because it makes his experiences that much more believable. I look forward to finding out for myself if there really is someone or something trying to communicate from beyond the veil. Is the McInteer Villa haunted? That is for you to decide!