Thursday, June 13, 2024

HGB Ep. 542 - Haunted Mystic

Moment in Oddity - Cooking Cicadas (Suggested by: Mindy Hull)

Every spring, most southern states east of the Mississippi River experience male cicada insects sharing their serenade 'love call' to female cicadas. Some people may describe their sound as 'relaxing', while others may choose the adjective 'annoying'. Most residents of these southern states however, would not use words like, scrumptious or delectable to describe this particular insect. Recently, Chef Tad Yankoski, senior entomologist at the Butterfly House in St Louis, Missouri, described cicadas in just such a way. Apparently cicadas, also known by the scientific order Hemiptera, taste just like shrimp. As a matter of fact, they can be substituted for the crustacean for any scampi, tempura or other shrimp recipe. Surprisingly, cicadas and shrimp are closely related enough that if a person has an allergy to shrimp or crab, that person should NOT consume cicadas for fear of a reaction. I'm not allergic to shellfish, but for the sake of this oddity I'm going to say that I am. The nutritional content of the insects is said to be high in iron and low in fat. Chef Tad prefers to cook with newly emerged cicadas vs ones that have molted and already possess wings. The latter, he states, are more chewy. Yankoski advises boiling the cicadas in water for two minutes before using them in any crustacean recipe one chooses. Maybe deep fried cicadas with a side of aioli for the dipping or cicada scampi with butter and garlic? Personally, I will pass. For Diane and I, regardless of how they are prepared, consuming crusted, crispy, cooked cicadas, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - Eugene-Henri-Paul Gauguin Born

In the month of June, on the 7th, in 1848, French painter Eugene-Henri-Paul Gauguin (Goh-gahn) was born in Paris, France. As a Post-Impressionist, Synthetist and Symbolist, painter Gauguin is well known for his artistic relationship with Vincent Van Gogh. His father died when Paul was a year old and his mother died while the 19 year old was enlisted in the merchant marines. A business-man, Gustave Arosa, was given guardianship of Paul and his sister Mari. When Gauguin was released from the merchant marines he began work as a stockbroker and married Mette Sophie Gad. His first interest in art began with Arosa's collection of works by Camille Corot, Eugene Delacroix and Jean-Francois Millet (Mee-yah). He started painting and began studying at a studio where he learned how to draw from a model. In 1876, Gauguin's 'Landscape at Viroflay' was approved for the annual exhibition at the Salon, in France. From 1876 to 1881, Gauguin established his own personal art collection ranging from Cezanne to Pissarro and even Monet, just to name a few. Paul studied under Pissarro for a time and continued to develop his skills spending holidays painting with Cezanne and Pissarro. At this time he joined a social circle of avant garde artists comprised of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas and Manet. In the French stock market crash of 1882, Gauguin lost his job as a stockbroker, however he saw it as a favorable outcome due to it allowing him more time to paint. Unfortunately he was unable to secure work in the art world and his meager income was supplied only by odd jobs he would take. Gauguin's artistic style changed over the years, but he was only moderately successful during his lifetime. After his death in May of 1903, his art drew more success after the efforts of art dealer Ambroise Vollard who organized showings in two posthumous exhibitions in Paris. Fun Fact, according to art historians Hans Kaufmann and Rita Wildegans, after examining police records, Van Gogh's mutilated left ear was actually due to a disagreement between Gauguin and Van Gogh and it was Gauguin who cut off Van Gogh's ear with a sword. The two men agreed to state that it was self mutilation to protect Gauguin.

Haunted Mystic (Suggested by: Jay Littman)

Mystic, Connecticut was a seafaring village in the early settlement of America. This was the scene of a horrific massacre that more than likely has left behind a negative spiritual residue. That residue leaves many believing that this is a cursed place. Based on the ghost stories and devastating fires of Mystic, we tend to agree. Join us for the history and hauntings of Mystic, Connecticut!

Mystic, Connecticut was originally spelled Mistick and was named by the Pequot tribe probably meaning a large river whose waters are driven into waves by wind. The Pequot tribe was very prominent here with several thousand in what would become Connecticut. Dutch and British settlers were the first Europeans to come into the area. It was shortly after this, a very dark time in Connecticut history took place. The Mystic Massacre took place during the Pequot War, which was waged from 1636 to 1638 between the Pequot tribe and colonists from the Massachusetts Bay Colony in Plymouth. The colonists were joined by the Narragansett and Mohegan tribes and they defeated the Pequot, which caused the tribe to go nearly extinct eventually. Before the war, the New England colonists had traded with all three tribes, but tensions rose after a hurricane caused a scarcity of food. The massacre occurred on May 26, 1637 as retaliation for an attack by the Pequot on a small village where they killed nine unarmed men and women. Captain John Mason of the Connecticut Colony gathered some men and tribal allies from the Narragansett and Mohegan allies and they set fire to the Pequot Fort that had been established near the Mystic River. As people ran from the burning fortress, they were shot. Nearly all of the Pequot at the fort were killed. This included women, children and the elderly. The History Channel included this devastating action as part of their series "10 Days That Unexpectedly Changed America."

It's not surprising that this first major event in the Mystic area would leave behind spiritual residue. The location of the massacre was at the top of Pequot Hill in Groton approximately a quarter mile west of the Mystic River. This was the highest hill in the area. No one knows where the hundreds of Native American bodies were buried, but more than likely in mass graves in this area. Curses were left in the wake and many attribute the devastating fires that seem to plague Mystic to the massacre. The Central Hall burned down four times, most recently in 2000. It wasn't rebuilt after that. The Avery Block has burned multiple times. Could these fires be the spirits reliving what happened to them before or is it some kind of spiritual payback?

Mystic grew slowly over the years. It was considered part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony until it broke away with the Connecticut General Court. There were many disputes and courts finally figured it all. Captain John Mason was granted 500 acres because of his service on the eastern banks of the Mystic River. An island was also given to him that bears his name now. A man named Captain John Gallup, Jr. moved to the east part of the Mystic River in 1653. Three villages grew up along the Mystic River and Mystic was one of them. Stonington and Groton became two sides of the village of Mystic, so Mystic itself is no longer a village. It's considered a census-designated place today. Regardless of what it is today, it clearly is a haunted place. A company named Seaside Shadows offers ghost tours. Courtney McInvale Reardon founded the tours and she is the author of "Haunted Mystic," which we will be referencing through this episode.  

For people who don't know, the Mystic Pizza movie was based on a real place. There is an actual Mystic Pizza. The 1988 film was based on the lives and loves of three waitresses, one of who was played by Julia Roberts. While the movie was filmed in Mystic, it wasn't done inside the restaurant because it was too small. Seven hundred Mystic residents got to play extras. The place isn't haunted but other restaurants are.

Voodoo Grill and Factory Square

The Factory Square is home to some of these restaurants, one of which is the Voodoo Grill that serves up Cajun food, of course. The building was originally built as an actual factory that made machinery that was shipped around the country. Factory workers here were from the working-class and some met with accidents and death in the factory. The factories were in business for nearly 200 years. The main piece of machinery made here was the cotton gin. Michael K. Stern of Stern Builders bought the building in 1978 and he renovated it into a commercial and housing space. There are both residual and intelligent spirits here. 

A female bartender at the Voodoo Grill would insist on not working any late hour shifts because of all the experiences she had. A patron was sitting at the bar when he noticed a wine glass moving forward on its own. He didn't say anything because he had been drinking and thought maybe it was the beer. But pretty soon he knew he wasn't just seeing things when the glass came off the rack, hovered for a few minutes and then fell to the ground shattering. Several patrons saw it happen. Courtney wrote of one incident the bartender experienced, "On that slow afternoon, one of the customers ordered his usual Tanqueray and tonic. The bartender provided him his drink and delicately placed the bottle back in its seat on the shelf. A couple minutes passed, and as she was chatting with her customer, there was a loud banging sound. They looked out the windows and around the restaurant, seeing nothing. It was almost like a car backfiring. Everything seemed steady. Moments later, in domino effect, the liquor bottles began to tumble off the shelves one after the other after the other. The bartender ducked for cover, and when the clamoring ended, she nervously peeked around her to see what mess had been made by the unseen force. Sure enough, every bottle was on the hard ground in front of her, but not one bottle was broken. Astonished and a little bit shaken up, she and some other staff began to clear up the mess. They simply could not determine what caused this. When the bartender finally reached to pick up the last bottle on the floor, she noticed it was the Tanqueray bottle she had utilized last before the liquor bottles came tumbling down. As she picked the bottle up, she couldn’t believe her eyes. There was a single hole going through the top of the bottle, yet seemingly no liquid had spilled out. It almost appeared to be a bullet hole. What could possibly have left that?"

A maintenance man was doing some deep cleaning around 4am when he looked up in the mirror and saw a group of men sitting at a table. He at first thought he had left the door unlocked and they came in for a late night drink. He turned around to tell them the bar was closed and there was no one there. The maintenance man looked back at the mirror and sure enough, there was a group of men at a table. He now saw that they were wearing factory clothes from probably the 1920s. Turning around again, he saw that the tables were all empty. When he looked at the mirror a third time, he saw nothing but his own reflection. He figured he was tired and his mind was playing tricks on him so he started cleaning again and suddenly the radio blasted on playing big band music. He went over and turned off the radio, but the music continued to blast on. He unplugged the radio and the music continued. The music eventually stopped and he finished up his cleaning.

Ancient Mariner Restaurant 

The Ancient Mariner Restaurant building at 21 W. Main Street was constructed in 1974 and it serves up some great seafood. It's owned by Anthony J. Torraca. He had a friend named John who had been a federal agent.When he would come into the bar, he would always comment before leaving that when he died, he was going to haunt the place. John died from a heart attack and his picture was set up near his favorite barstool. Six hundred oars line one of the walls and one day when the employees came in to open up, they found several of the oars turned upside down. John's picture was also askew. They fixed everything. A couple days later, the employees found the same stuff. Courtney wrote, "As if to give the owners and staff the confirmation they required to know for sure that it was their friend, yet another defining incident occurred. That very evening, a very telling object moved on its own. When the staff went to close the restaurant, they turned down all the lights, stacked up all the chairs, wiped down the tables and the bar and finally stacked the barstools on the bar. Everything was routine as usual. As they headed toward the door to depart, the owners, who happened to be the staff members closing that night, felt compelled to take one last look around the restaurant. As their eyes scanned the premise, one thing immediately caught their eye. The barstool seated by John’s photograph, his favorite barstool where he always sat when he came to enjoy the food and drink, had reseated itself. It happened almost as if to say, 'Yes, it has been me that has been moving the oars and the photo. I told you I was going to haunt the place. I’m not quite ready to leave you guys just yet.'" The barstool reseating itself is the most common paranormal activity here.

Anthony J's Bistro

The same people who own the Mariner Restaurant own this one at6 Holmes Avenue. Anthony J's serves up Italian food and seafood in a building that features gables roofs and shingled sides with aged wood. It's a very cute two-story building. This was a home originally and was built by Daniel Patrick in 1844. Anthony J. Torraca, whom everybody calls Skip, bought the home in the 1980s and opened AJ's Food Store, which eventually became AJ's Restaurant and now Anthony J's. Skip likes to put pictures of his loyal patrons up on the walls after they pass away. One of these people was named Rich and his picture is up behind the bar. Rich loved the place, except during the holidays. He thought the decorations that Skip put up were gaudy and tacky. The first holiday season after Rich passed away, the staff put up the hideous large ornamental balls that Rich despised and as they did it, they joked about how they wouldn't have to hear any complaints from Rich about them anymore. There was one ball that the staff couldn't find in storage anywhere. This decoration reappeared in the middle of the floor in July. They blamed Rich.

The Emporium/Port of Call Restaurant and Dive

The Emporium sat at 15 Water Street and ran for 48 years from 1965 to 2013. The building was built in 1859 in the Italianate style by Isaac Randall and Dwight Ashby who were involved in the whaling industry. This served mainly as a general store. This building had also been the Civil War office in Mystic and legend claims a brothel might have been housed here. The structure was restored in the mid-20th century by actor Lee Howard and artist Paul White. It then became a space for the Mystic Art Association. The association put the place up for sale in 2021 and today it is the Port of Call Restaurant and Dive. The inside is spectacular with an award-winning executive chef and live entertainment. The bar is in the shape of a horseshoe and made from wood slavaged from old ships. Dive is the bar in the basement where one can get a cold beer and a gourmet hot dog. People claim to catch anomalies on film regularly.

Haunting stories go back to the Emporium days. One of the owners was painting as they prepared to open and he heard someone come into the building. He thought he had locked the front door, but clearly he hadn't, so he hollared from upstairs that they weren't open yet. The response was the sound of footsteps, like someone wearing heels. The owner yelled again, but the walking continued. He started to head for the stairs when he heard someone climb the stairs and whatever this was, was heading straight for him. The heels clacking continued and entered his new paint job, which included the floor. He glanced into the room and saw the prints from high heels and even more incrdibly, he watched more of them form. Those heel prints were left and customers took to calling the spirit the "Lady Upstairs." People often feel uncomfortable upstairs, as though someone is watching them. Unfortunately, a fire erased them.  The spirits of two young boys are also thought to be here. People call them Willy and Billy. They are seen sometimes covered in soot.

Courtney McInvale told Damned CT about an experience a tour guest had outside the Emporium, "So one time before I was in the middle of telling my story, this young woman, she looked at me and said, 'Oh excuse me, you mentioned in your story that a manager at the store used to live in the building and I think she’s up there, looking down at you talking. I saw her—she’s got a bun in her hair . . .' and she described her in detail, pointy nose, etc. And her boyfriend said, 'Where? I don’t see her!' and she was pointing at her and the rest of the guests were saying 'I don’t see her, either.' And I had to break the news to her that the building had undergone renovations and there was no floor on the second floor, it was completely gutted, there was no place that anybody could have stood and the manager had long since moved out. The poor girl was terrified, but I thought it was a really cool experience to have because we always talk about at this location a lady upstairs, and I think that she probably caught a glimpse of her that evening without intending to."

Old Mystic Inn

The Old Mystic Inn was located at 52 Main Street. It's permanently closed now as the inn, but runs as an Air BNB with Mystic Vacation Rentals. John Denison built the house that became the inn in 1784. He quickly gave it to his son Nathan the following year. Nathan's brother-in-law John Baldwin obtained it in 1789. Lucy Williams owned the house in 1804 and when she passed , her will left people perplexed. It read, "From the north to the south 5 feet 11 inches wide to 5 feet 2 inches wide, then six people to have shares in the dwelling house to extend from the roof to the ground three feet three inches wide." The heirs really didn't know what to do with the house divided up in this way, so they sold and eventually the house came under the ownership of just one person. In 1839, a portion of the property was given to the Sixth School District in the village of Mystic and a school was built. This was the first school in Mystic and was the idea of a man who had thirteen children, so it makes sense. This started as a one-room schoolhouse, but eventually it was added to and became a two-story building with grades broken up. A newer school was built on the property later, sometime in the 1890s. The original schooolhouse then became a family home until a fire burned it down. The other school ran until 1959. That schoolhouse was replaced with a playground and there apparently are spirits that hang out in the playground.

The William Harvey family was living in the main house by the 1920s. A couple more families lived there, but by 1959, the house was turned into a business property. The first business was a bookstore and it operated for twenty-five years. Every room was filled to the brim with books. The bookstore closed in 1986. The house then became the inn it is today and since this had been a bookstore, the rooms are all named for famous authors. Old Mystic Inn opened in 1987 and a Carriage House was added in 1988. The Old Mystic Inn ran for 33 years before closing in December of 2019. For 20 of those years, it was run by Michael Stephen Cardillo, Jr. Shortly after becoming the new innkeeper, Michael had a terrifying dream that scared the crap out of his mother who was staying with him because he started screaming. She woke him up and he told her that he had seen a woman wearing a white Colonial dress standing by the wood pile he had stacked outside the inn. The woman had just stared at him in the dream.

Michael never saw any ghosts himself in waking life, but he had a friend named Robert who claimed to see spirits as did a psychic who visited the inn. Courtney wrote of one of Robert's experiences, "One morning, as he was standing at the counter preparing breakfast, his friend Robert, who had been assisting in the kitchen, caught sight of something shocking. As Robert moved to the side of the kitchen, a person appeared in his peripheral vision, stopping him dead in his tracks. What he saw was the silhouette of a woman in colonial attire with the traditional tight-fitted waist standing on the opposite side of the counter watching quite closely as Michael cooked. She appeared almost as if she wanted to get more involved herself in the food prep and cooking that was taking place. Robert stood there, mouth agape, and completely bewildered. At first, he was unsure what to say when Michael noticed him standing there and naturally asked why he looked so confused. “Are you kidding me, Michael?” Robert nervously laughed. How had Michael not seen her standing right in front of him? Immediately, Robert began to explain what he had witnessed. He described in detail that a woman adorned in colonial-style clothing, middle-aged or older, was standing there watching them cook. Michael tried to brush it off, not wanting to be scared in his own kitchen, yet it didn’t seem surprising to hear. He knew the history of the home was vast and there were always strange noises happening about. What if it was the lady in white from his dream? If so, he definitely knew who she was! Robert called his friend with psychic abilities so that she could visit the inn and perhaps pick up more information regarding the lady in the kitchen or any other spirits that may be there. When the psychic arrived in the kitchen, a smile overcame her face. She had immediately sensed the colonial woman’s presence. After focusing for a bit, the psychic let Michael know that the kitchen’s spirit had some culinary advice. She had wanted to use more fresh herbs and spices and put grated nutmeg over eggnog, and the list carried on. Clearly, this colonial woman—whose name is believed to have begun with H, according to the psychic-medium—had her opinions about proper cuisine and even had suggestions for the most well-trained chefs. On a more somber note, it was reported during the psychic’s contact that the colonial woman was waiting for a loved one to come home, yet they never could. Her loved one likely drowned in the Mystic River, as did so many hundreds of years ago when numerous people had no ability to swim. Before the colonial woman’s communication with the psychic ceased, she made sure to ask that a chair be placed back by the kitchen table rather than a hutch, as she would like to sit there."

Ghost hunters have reported that they communicated with a man who claimed that he had hanged himself in the inn and there are child ghosts, one of whom is named Hannah. She likes to sit on a stool and likes rolling a hoop around the property. A young boy who drowned in the Mystic River hangs out here as well. Investigators picked up an EVP in the playground area saying, "Help me! Help me!" When they asked if they could return before leaving, a voice answered, "No!" This wasn't a child's voice. An EVP in the house caught a woman with an Irish accent saying, "I thought Nathan was here." Other EVPs have said, "Are you a policeman?", "That's a vehicle" and "Come on in."

Captain Daniel Packer Inne

The Captain Daniel Packer Inne was built in 1754 with additions made in the early 1800s. Daniel Packer was both a sea captain and a Captain during the Revolutionary War. His service during the war entailed bringing supplies to the army. The Captain married Hanna and they had seven children. The inn was well known to travelers and as they dined, the Captain would regale them with tales of his adventures on the high seas. One set of guests that Packer journaled about included a traveling circus. Packer also ran a transport system across the Mystic River and he would ferry horses, stagecoaches and much more by using a rope ferry. The Packer family would hold onto the property for generations until the late 1970s. It was in 1979 that Richard and Lulu Kiley purchased the inn and began restoration, which took years.

Daniel's great-grandson Captain Charles Carroll Packer lived in the house with his wife Fannie and their children starting in the 1830s. His sister-in-law was "Muddie" Morse Clift and her husband Lieutenant Amos Clift had passed away leaving her and their daughter Ada alone. They were lonely and Charles invited them to come live with them at the inn since they had plenty of room. Ada loved the inn. Unfortunately, Ada became ill with Scarlet Fever when she was only seven and it took her life in 1874. And she may be one of the spirits that is here in the afterlife.

Courtney shares an unusual story in her book about a direct descendant of Captain Daniel Packer coming to the Kileys when they started renovations and telling them that she had a dream about the Captain and he wasn't pleased with what was happening to his inn. The Kileys reassured her that when they were done, he would be pleased. And that ended up being the case. The woman returned when they were finished and claimed that she had another dream of the Captain and he was indeed pleased. She added that he told her that he would be looking in on the place. Construction workers and staff members did claim to see a sea captain sometimes who would disappear when approached. These sightings have continued today. There are some who think this is Captain Charles Carroll instead. The inn has been protected from fire. This is how Courtney describes it, "Just a short time later, the night manager, who was trying to depart, felt stopped by an unseen force. She tried to exit the door and simply could not. The manager simply was not being allowed to leave. In a frenzied panic from such a strange sensation, the manager called the owner, and he arrived at the restaurant once more. Upon Mr. Kiley’s arrival, he and the manager went down to the bar area, where the smell of smoke was even stronger. It turns out that the wrong appliance had been turned off, and the wire had turned red hot. If left all night, a major fire would have been certain. When the correct appliance was unplugged, the unseen force let both individuals depart without hesitation."

Whichever of the Captains is haunting the place, he is a prankster. One night, a glass was removed from a glass rack above the bartender's head, went under the bar area, across three tables and smashed against the wall. The cool thing about this is that it was witnessed by several people. The bar door is slammed during quiet times, fires start themselves in the fireplace and disembodied boot stomping is heard. Patrons claim that Ada likes to play on the stairs. Two women ran into her on the stairs and they told the waitstaff that it was rude to let a little girl stand on the stairs, bouncing a ball while people were trying to get by. Another guest complained about a child running around near the bathroom who almost tripped her. The staff couldn't find any children near the restroom.  

Courtney may have experienced her when she visited the inn to talk to Allie who was the Kileys' daughter. She thought she saw a small person run behind Allie and then there was a giggle before the girl ran off to the kitchen. Courtney thought that a staff member may have brought their child to the inn. She then heard a giggle again. Her husband and Allie heard and saw nothing. Allie told Courtney about a friend who visited with her daughter to help Allie set up for a party. While the women worked, the daughter ran around and seemed to really be enjoying herself. She came over to her mother after a bit and told her that she was playing hide-and-seek with a little girl named Ada who she could hear, but she couldn't seem to find her anywhere.

Whitehall Mansion Inn

Captain John Gallup, Jr. had moved here in 1653 with his wife Hannah and they built a home near where the Whitehall Mansion stands. They raised seven children in that home and then eventually bought the land where the mansion would sit. The Gallups' son William built the first Whitehall Mansion. He and his wife Sarah raised six children in the home. William was a representative of the government and a friend to the Native Americans. Members of the Pequot and Mohawk tribes attended his daughter's wedding. The house passed down through the family and Temperance Gallup sold to a man named Colonel John Williams in 1760. He then sold to Dr. Dudley Woodbridge. Dr. Woodbridge was born in 1705 and he graduated from Harvard College in 1724. He married Sarah Sheldon in 1739 in Groton, Connecticut and the couple would have nine children. The doctor tore down the original mansion and built the second Whitehall Mansion in the late Georgian architectural style. The house was 2.5 stories with a gambrel roof and a large central chimney plan. The interior featured parlors on either side of the chimney and there was a winding staircase. Woodbridge also represented Groton in the state legislature. He died at the age of 85 in 1790. His wife Sarah followed in 1796. 

The Rodman family was related to the Woodbridges and they inherited the house and they lived in it from 1825 to 1850. The mansion was then sold to Joseph and Mary Wheeler in 1852. The Wheeler family would hold it until 1962 with their youngest daughter being the last resident. A local highway project threatened the mansion with destruction, so it was moved and then restored by Florence Grace Bentley Keach. She donated it to the Stonington Historical Society and they opened it as a museum. In 1993, the society received permission to move the house again to a different area of the property so it was more visible and it was converted into a bed and breakfast in 1996, which is what it is today, located at 42 Whitehall Avenue. There are five bedrooms to rent named for the Woodbridge family and many guests who have stayed have shared their personal unexplained experiences in journals.

One couple had settled in for the night when they were awakened by the raucous laughter of a woman. They tried to get back to sleep, but the woman continued to make noise. they didn't want to make trouble, but they finally had enough and called the front desk to see if they could call the neighboring room and get the woman to shut-up. The receptionist checked the log books and saw that no one had rented the room that evening and explained to the couple that there wasn't anyone in that room. The guests insisted that they be allowed to check out and go to another hotel and the bed and breakfast obliged.

Courtney wrote, "The sound of others in the inn seems to be a common complaint. Children are not allowed to stay in the inn due to the older nature of the floors and the building itself not really being conducive to housing playful kids. Therefore, it is mostly couples and sometimes the lone traveler who stay in the inn. Another couple again heard laughter, but this was not that of a woman. They distinctly heard children running around giggling as if playing in the inn. Wanting to inform the hotel staff of the disturbance, the couple grabbed the phone in their room and tried to ring the front desk at the Residence Inn. To their dismay, their phone was dead. Though they thought it strange, they decided to call from their mobile phone, which could not be found anywhere. After much searching, they found their mobile phone under the center of their bed. Repeatedly, they dialed the phone to no avail, and they kept getting disconnected. After dialing three times, they finally were connected to the desk. When they finally reached the attendant and found out that they were the only guests staying in the inn, they, too, promptly ran over to the Residence Inn, leaving the room in disarray and requesting more modern and ghost-free lodging."

A staff member was staying in Betsey's room below the attic and he reported hearing sounds above him all evening. There are legends that claim that the mansion may have been part of the Underground Railroad and some people wonder if these are residual sounds from escaped slaves who had hidden in the attic. Housekeepers report doors opening all on their own, even after they have been locked. Guests have reported tables and chairs that move across the room after the guest has left the room for minute, either to use the bathroom or visit other areas of the inn. Sometimes the bedsheets turn themselves down. We don't recommend eating any chocolates left by spirits on the pillows.

One Halloween, Courtney got to take a tour group through the mansion and she wrote of an experience they had, "Everything seemed calm on the front in our pre-tour walk-through, and the tour itself was going quite smoothly. When we went to enter Lucy’s room, the door was a bit hard to open. It wasn’t all the way open, as we had left it. When we entered, we realized a table had been pushed almost up against the door. Before the guests came in, I asked our friend and employee of the inn if he had noticed that the table had moved or if he had come back up in the room. He looked at me for a second, kind of puzzled, and assured me that he had not moved that table and that he could vouch that it wasn’t there before. We, of course, excitedly and nervously shared the story with our guests and admitted that we never quite expected in our ninety minutes within the home that the ghosts would grace us with such an active display of their antics."

Pig Man

The weirdest bit of folklore about this area involves a Pig Man. Pretty darn creepy. So apparently, this dates back to the 1970s. A couple of teenage boys claimed that they were walking around downtown when they heard a woman screaming. They thought the sound was coming from down by the river, so they ran over to see if they could help. When they got there, they saw what they described as a man with a pig-like face and he looked like he was trying to drown the woman. Both the Pig Man and the woman disappeared below the water and the boys didn't see either of them resurface. They reported what they had saw and indeed, a woman had gone missing. When the boys were later shown her picture, they said that she was the woman they saw the man trying to drown. They even said that the Pig Man had made vocal noises that sounded like a pig. A Reddit user shared the story this way, "The Mystic Pigman was a story of some kids biking across the drawbridge and seeing a fat dude with a pig face drowning a woman to death at the boardwalk before dumping her body and jumping in himself without resurfacing." No one saw the Pig Man ever again.

There are some interesting legends and haunts connected to Mystic. Are any of them true? Are these places in Mystic, Connecticut haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, June 6, 2024

HGB Ep. 541 - The Hotel Chelsea

Moment in Oddity - Skeletons Under St. Augustine Winery (Suggested by: Justin Rimmel)

After hurricane Matthew hit St Augustine, Florida in the fall of 2016, there was an interesting discovery in the following months. Under the flood damaged flooring of a restaurant and taproom located in Fiesta Mall, skeletal remains were found. Archaeologist Carl Halbirt only had to remove a few shovels full of dirt before finding human bones. The skeletons were believed to date back to some of the earliest colonists of St Augustine, which was the first established settlement of the United States. Halbirt believes that the bodies were buried under the floor of the Church of Nuestra Senora de los Remedios. This was the earliest documented parish church in the United States. In total, seven skeletons were uncovered within a 6 by 12 foot area. Despite their discovery, the remains were reburied under the floor of the A1A Ale Works restaurant, which leaves this location on a short list of 'must dine' locations in one of our favorite cities. Enjoying a nice meal and good brews while seated over early colonists' graves, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - The Gaspee Affair (Suggested by: Emily Petrarca (Puh traar kuh))

In the month of June, on the 9th, in 1772, American colonists attacked and burned the HMS Gaspee after it was grounded on a sandbar. Known as the Gaspee Affair, the Royal Navy customs schooner was tasked with enforcing the Navigation Acts and other unpopular customs laws imposed by the British government on American ports. The HMS Gaspee had been chasing a smaller, lighter vessel called the Hannah when it was stranded due to low tide. After hearing that the Gaspee was beached, the colonists who were frustrated with the taxes and zero-say in legislation, organized over a dozen smaller vessels to row out to the stranded schooner. Remarkably, no one was killed. The entire crew was safely evacuated prior to the ship being set ablaze with the vessels' Captain, Lieutenant William Dudingston having only been wounded in his leg. This act of treason was one that would begin the events that led to the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution. Today, the Gaspee Affair is remembered by an annual reenactment of the burning of the HMS Gaspee, a colonial encampment, along with a block party, local craft fair and of course a parade.

The Hotel Chelsea

The Hotel Chelsea refers to itself as "A Rest Stop for Rare Individuals" and indeed, it has hosted some famous creatives. Today it is a luxury hotel, but when it began, this was one of the first forays into attracting the upper class to rent apartments in New York City. The interior was grand and the upper floors were specifically designed to attract artists. The hotel has stood for nearly 150 years and has not only provided housing for some unique people, but it hosts many spirits. These include punk rocker Sid Vicious and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen. Join us for the history and hauntings of the Hotel Chelsea! 

Patti Smith summed up the Chelsea best when she said, "I loved this place, its shabby elegance, and the history it held so possessively...So many had written, conversed, and convulsed in these Victorian dollhouse rooms. So many skirts had swished these worn marble stairs. So many transient souls had espoused, made a mark, and succumbed here." And as we have found through our research of the ghost stories, many have decided to stay. The Chelsea sits at 222 West Twenty-Third Street in New York City. The hotel was named for the neighborhood and was conceived by the Chelsea Association. Construction began in 1883 under architect Philip Hubert who designed it in the Queen Anne Revival and Victorian Gothic architectural styles. When completed in 1884, it stood twelve stories with a high mansard roof and featured red brick, flower-ornamented iron balconies and 100 apartments. Innovative features included electricity, steam heating and hold and cold running water. There were three passenger elevators and two steam-powered freight lifts. The structure was grand, the tallest apartment building in NYC at the time, and quite different from the furniture store that had stood on the lot previously.

The interior originally had marble flooring that has been replaced with mosaic-tile floors today. There was also mahogany wainscoting and an elaborate fireplace and mantle in the lobby. There were three dining rooms for residents that were decorated with stained glass and carved gargoyles. A reception room had plush-and-velvet carpet and white maple. A central staircase was topped by a skylight and had art and photos lining the walls with marble stairs and iron railings. The first floor not only had this lobby, but there was a restaurant and four storefronts that included a barbershop, fish-and-meat shop, grocery and bakery. We're not sure what the original restaurant was, but in 1930 it became Batchelder's Restaurant  and then in 1955 it became the El Quijote and remains that today. The walls featured murals inspired by the book "Don Quixote" and had red-vinyl booths, marble terrazzo floor and chandeliers. The restaurant could originally seat 220 people, but it was greatly reduced in a recent renovation to just 65, so its an intimate dining experience now. The Chelsea added the Cafe Chelsea bistro in 2023.

The Chelsea started out as apartments and was one of the first apartment buildings to offer penthouses. This was a housing cooperative and many of these were meant to attract something other than the working class and several were built by Philip Hubert and called Hubert Home Clubs. This would be his most successful. Apartments ranged from 800 to 3,000 square feet with the penthouses featuring as many as 8 to 12 rooms depending on what source one uses. Bigger units were on the outside, while smaller units for unmarried residents were inside near the stairs and elevators. Every apartment had its own bathroom and most were ornately decorated with onyx and marble. Sixty-seven apartments had their own kitchens. Several apartments on the ten and eleventh floors were duplexes featuring living space on the first level and studio space on the second, so they were reserved for artists. There was no issue with filling the apartments. Two-thirds were owned by Chelsea Association stockholders and the other third were rented out and there was a long list of people waiting to get in. 

Things were good for several years, but the theater district moved away and houses were being built in northern Manhattan, attracting the middle-class further out and the 1893 economic crash hit the co-op hard. By the early 1900s, the Chelsea started accepting more short-term residents or visitors. It was officially converted into an apartment hotel in 1905 with 125 units. Some of the short-term guests that stayed here were survivors of the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912. The Co-op leased the hotel to Knotts Hotels in 1921 and this company split up some of the apartments and added kitchenettes to those that didn't already have them. They closed the dining rooms after that was completed. Knotts Hotels held onto the lease until 1941. Over time, more apartments were split and that left 300 rooms available.

In 1941, the Chelsea Association went bankrupt and the Chelsea Hotel Company bought the hotel and they hired a syndicate of Hungarian immigrants to run operations. They updated the electrical and plumbing and once it was reopened, it entered a bohemian era. The old glamour was gone as linoleum was laid for floors and the walls were painted and the skylight above the staircase was covered. By the 1960s, the neighborhood around the Chelsea was filled with cheap bars and low-rent office space. People started referring to the Chelsea as the Dowager of 23rd Street. Stanley Bard managed the hotel in the 1960s and he made a real effort to attract artists to the hotel. He was easy going and charged rent according to how much he liked a tenant. Stanley would accept artwork as payment and he would let residents combine apartments. It was during the 1960s and 1970s that rock musicians would start joining the artists at the Chelsea. By this time, there were 400 rooms and the interior was falling apart. The late 1970s, the hotel had an open brothel running and drug dealers running the hallways. Crime was rampant inside and fires broke out, one of which killed a resident in 1978.

The punk subculture arrived in the 1980s and the building continued to fall into decay, even losing a balcony that injured a couple of passersby. A third generation of the Bard family took over managing. From the 1990s to the early 2000s, most of the people staying at the Chelsea were long-term residents. In 2007, the hotel's board of directors ousted the Bards and BD Hotels were hired to manage the hotel. They opened a basement lounge and restored the ballroom on the 12th floor. Managing the hotel was really difficult with owners evicting tenants and tenants harassing management. BD Hotels was fired and Andrew Tilley was hired. He lasted seven months before quitting. The hotel was sold to Joseph Chetrit in 2011 and he prepared for extensive renovations. he bought the hotel for $80 million and got an $85 million loan for renovations. Residents were unhappy and filed several suits over the next two years. King & Grove Hotels managed the hotel and in 2016, BD Hotels was back. There were more lawsuits, more stalled renovations and no one could have imagined that eventually this building would become a luxury hotel. A soft re-opening took place in March 2022 and by mid-2022, the hotel was completely opened. There are still a few permanent residents living here, but most of the Chelsea is a regular hotel.

The list of famous creatives that have stayed here is lengthy. The journalist Pete Hamill characterized the hotel's clientele as "radicals in the 1930s, British sailors in the 40s, Beats in the 50s, hippies in the 60s, decadent poseurs in the 70s." The names of the famous include Mark Twain, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Lou Reed, Dylan Thomas, William S. Boroughs, O. Henry, Thomas Wolfe, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Leonard Cohen, Harry Smith, Sam Shepard, Patti Smith, Bob Dylan, Dee Dee Ramone, Dennis Hopper, Bette Davis, Jane Fonda, and Madonna. The Chelsea inspired many songs as well. There's Leonard Cohen’s song "Chelsea Hotel #2." One of the refrains goes, "I remember you well in Chelsea Hotel, You were famous, your heart was a legend, You told me again you preferred handsome men, But for me you would make an exception." The "you" he was singing about was Janis Joplin. Lou Reed wrote "Chelsea Girl" in 1967. Jefferson Airplane recorded "Third Week in the Chelsea" in 1971.  And there was also Joni Mitchell’s "Chelsea Morning." Andy Warhol shot the film "Chelsea Girls" at the hotel in 1966. Ethan Hawke directed "Chelsea Walls" in 2001. 

Dee Dee Ramone wrote the novel "Chelsea Horror Hotel" in 2001. The description of the novel reads, "Dee Dee Ramone doesn't quite know what he's getting himself into when he and his wife Barbara move into the Chelsea Hotel with their dog Banfield. The room he's staying in might be the very room where his old friend Sid stabbed Nancy. Dee Dee spends most of his time trying to score drugs and walking Banfield, with whom he can magically communicate. Meanwhile, he can't stand his neighbors and though he shies away from violence, he wishes everyone were six feet under. Dee Dee gets involved with the transvestite lover of one of his gay fellow addicts. When Barbara finds out, things get out of hand. All the while Dee Dee is tormented by the living and dead demons that plague the hotel, along with the ghosts of his old dead punk rock friends Sid Vicious, Johnny Thunders, and Stiv Bators. And that's when the Devil himself decides to join the party." 

Here's some crazy stories reported about the hotel. Composer George Kleinsinger wanted to turn his studio into a jungle so he imported twelve-foot trees from Madagascar and Borneo. He added exotic birds, a monkey and an eight-foot-long snake. Dancer Katharine Dunham liked to hold dance rehearsals in her studio and one day she decided she wanted to add some realism to her Aida rehearsal and she brought two full-grown lions up in the elevator. She was invited to get out of the hotel shortly after that. 

There is a lot of dark history and several deaths that have lead to Chelsea being haunted. The Chelsea’s dark history goes back to the early 20th century. In 1912, Titanic survivors were briefly put up there, given the hotel’s relatively close proximity to the Chelsea Piers. The New York Times reported in 1908, "WOMAN DIES IN HOTEL; TOOK DRUG FOR SLEEP; Miss Almyra Wilcox Leaves Affectionate Letter Telling of Her Sufferings. NOT SUICIDE, CORONER SAYS Believed She Was from Castleton, Vt. -- Had Jewelry, Furs, and Fine Clothing." Artist Frank Kavecky took his own life in 1909 after being robbed of funds belonging to the Hungarian Sick and Benevolent Society. A rich silk merchant's daughter named Etelka Graf cut off her hand with small sewing scissors and threw it under her bed and jumped from a fifth-floor window in 1922. She landed on a third floor balcony breaking her ankles and left arm. She survived. (Daily News From New York March 6, 1922)

Dylan Thomas was a Welsh poet. Many of the listeners are probably familiar with his poem "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night": Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light." Thomas stayed in Apartment 205 on his last three visits to the United States. The final stay would be his last as Thomas collapsed outside the White Horse Tavern in New York’s Greenwich Village. Rumors claimed he had slammed 18 shots of whiskey, but that may not be what killed him. He was taken to the hospital and never came out of a coma and when he was admitted, he was suffering from pneumonia. The pathologist found three causes of death: pneumonia, brain swelling and a fatty liver. Playwright Arthur Miller was living at the Chelsea in 1962 when Marilyn Monroe died. Edie Sedgwick set her room on fire in 1967 while she was high on a speedball. Charles R. Jackson, author of The Lost Weekend, committed suicide there in 1968. A photographer named Billy Maynard was beaten to death in his room in 1974.

And then there was Sid and Nancy.  Sid Vicious was born as Simon John Ritchie in Lewisham, London in 1957. His father, John Ritchie, abandoned him and his mother Anne and she made money selling marijuana. In 1965, Anne married Christopher Beverley, but he died of kidney failure six months later. Anne and Sid moved around a bit. By 1973, Anne was addicted to heroin and Sid was attending Westminster Kingsway College and torturing and killing cats on the side. Sid was going by his middle name of John and he joined up with three other guys who were all named John to make a group named The Four Johns. It makes sense that they decided to take on nicknames to differentiate themselves. Sid was bitten by one of the John's hamster who was named Sid, so they started calling him Sid Vicious. That John's nickname became Johnny Rotten and another John became Jah Wobble. Johnny Rotten and Sid started busking for money and then in 1975, Rotten formed the Sex Pistols with Steve Jones, Glen Matlock and Paul Cook.

Sid co-founded the group Flowers of Romance in 1976. He was doing an assortment of drugs by this time. In 1977, he took the place of Glen Matlock in the Sex Pistols. It was said that "Johnny Rotten was the voice of punk and Vicious was the attitude." Vicious' first gig with the Sex Pistols was in April of 1977 and it was shortly after this that he met Nancy Spungen who was an American groupie living in London. She was also a heroin addict. Nancy made money as an exotic dancer and drug dealer and once she and Sid got together, it was nearly impossible to separate them. This wasn't a match made in heaven. The couple fought often and many times it became physical. Vicious often lived up to his name and beat her. There was a two-week US tour in January 1978 and Nancy was blocked from coming. The band broke up on January 14th and Vicious flew from San Francisco to New York on January 19th.  By the time the plane landed at JFK Airport, Sid was passed out in an alcohol and drug coma. He went to the hospital, got out and immediately hooked up again with Nancy. The two went to Paris and then London and returned to New York where they holed up in Room 100 at the Chelsea. Sid performed in a side band he formed and the couple continued their drug use. 

On October 12, 1978, Nancy was found stabbed to death in Room 100. The night before, Sid and Nancy had hosted a party in their room and Sid took enough drugs to leave himself comatose. Around 11am the morning of the 12th, Sid was wandering the hallways and Nancy was found dead on the bathroom floor with a single stab wound to her abdomen. The murder weapon was identified as a Jaguar K-11 hunting knife, a knife Nancy had bought for him a few days earlier. Sid at first confessed that he killed Nancy and later said that he couldn't remember what had happened. Later, he claimed that Nancy fell on the knife. Sid was arrested and charged with second degree murder. Nancy's murder remains a mystery today. The knife had been in plain view and could've been used by a party guest. Lawyers for Sid put forward the idea that Nancy caught a guest stealing their money from a drawer where they hid it. While out on bail, Sid tried slashing his wrists with a smashed light bulb and when that didn't work, he tried to jump out a window. 

As dysfunctional as his relationship was with Nancy, he really seemed to love her and just wanted to die so he could be with her. He did die on February 1, 1979 of a drug overdose. Sid's mother said the Sid and Nancy seemed to have had a suicide pact. She found a note in his leather jacket that read, "We had a death pact, and I have to keep my half of the bargain. Please bury me next to my baby. Bury me in my leather jacket, jeans and motorcycle boots. Goodbye." Sid couldn't be buried next to Nancy as she was buried in a Jewish cemetery. His mother asked if his ashes could be sprinkled on Nancy's grave and the answer from Nancy's family was a resounding, "NO!" Rumors claim that his mother sprinkled the ashes there anyway.

There seems to be many spirits walking the halls of Hotel Chelsea and with all that the building has witnessed, it is no wonder. A night security guard who worked in the building was named Timor. He shared a ghost story about a sex worker named Victoria who had died at the Chelsea from AIDS. She liked to dress like Betty Boop and wore her hair in a similar way. Shortly after Victoria passed, a woman staying in her former room asked Timor if she could get a different room. She told him that she had been looking in a mirror and saw Victoria staring back at her, Betty Boop bangs and all.

Another story goes back to the Titanic survivors who stayed at the Chelsea. One of them was a woman named Mary who lost her husband and she was very depressed about that. The story goes that she hanged herself on the fifth floor and now people claim to run into her on the western end of the building. Mary likes to look at herself in the mirror, so people have nicknamed her the Vain Ghost. The Chelsea Hotel Blog wrote in 2010, "On Sunday’s 'Celebrity Ghost Sightings' program on the Bio Channel, Michael Imperioli revealed that he had been visited by a ghost named Mary while staying at the Chelsea 14 years ago. This led us to wonder if anyone else had encountered Mary, apparently a rather old ghost, during their time at the Chelsea.  We asked one of our sources, a huge fan of the Chelsea who keeps up to date on all the happenings—past and present, natural and supernatural—at this deeply weird hotel, and it turns out she had already been contacted about the show.  She writes, 'Hi, folks. Someone who saw the television show about Mary the Chelsea Hotel ghost sent me this question: Do you know anything about the young woman named Mary that was living at the Chelsea? She lived on the 8th floor and hung herself when her husband died on the titanic. I guess she has been seen there. I forwarded it to the friend who visited the Chelsea -the one who spoke with the spirits there--and asked her whether she recognized this one. Here's her response: I think yes-she was in front of a mirror-checking out herself-mirror was not in this world-elaborate-she in hat with plume-hair large and Gibson girlish-she seeing if she was looking ok-and acting like we were disturbing her boring self absorbed nature...perhaps? I remember my friend describing this person at the time, on the 8th floor. Then, my friend said she was looking in the mirror forever--never stopping. She described her as very vain."

And here is what Michael Imperioli shared on Celebrity Ghost Stories: Michael Imperioli had lived in the Chelsea for two months when he had his paranormal experience. He lived on the 8th floor and he was riding the elevator up to it one night around three in the morning. He stepped off the elevator and noticed the light in the hallway was dimmer than usual. Michael said that he then heard the sobbing of a woman coming from the opposite direction so he turned around and looked at the end of the hallway and saw the figure of a woman in the corner kind of hunched over with her head down and she's crying. The woman was wearing a very long black dress that looked like something from a 100 years ago. He asked her if she was okay and then he heard a loud pop behind him. The light bulb in the fixture behind him had popped. Now half the hallway was dark. Michael turned back around and the crying woman was gone. After he told a couple neighbors about the incident, they told him about Mary and the Titanic. 

Nadia is another ghost that guests sometimes see roaming the halls. She had jumped from a window to her death. Nadia came from one of the rich families that lived at the Chelsea. Nadia met a good-looking songwriter and decided to elope with him. That man turned out to be an alcoholic and he eventually left Nadia alone with their two children. She came back to the hotel with her tail between her legs and begged her father to allow her to move back in. He said she could as long as she did chores around the house and got a job to help bring in money. Apparently, he must have been having money troubles? Nadia eventually couldn't take it anymore and ended her life. She's not only inside the hotel, but people sometimes she her on the sidewalk on 23rd Street and they know she's a ghost because she is transparent. There are stories on the Internet that mix Nadia's story with Etelka Graf and say this is the Severed Hand Spirit, but Graf didn't die.

Paula wrote in 2010, "I have stayed in the Chelsea pretty regularly (including a 3 month visit in late 2003). Of course you can feel the history of the place everywhere, but in August 2008, I stayed for a week. I had to move rooms for my last night, and was put in room 624. I could not sleep there; I could barely move or breathe. SOMETHING was in the closet. As I lie in bed in the middle of the night, I neither saw nor heard a ghost. But somehow I felt like there was something in that closet. In a half-dream state, a strange feeling came over me and suddenly I knew what the spirit was: A man, a writer, who had hanged himself in the closet and was FURIOUS at the Chelsea for not including him in the publicized list of artists who had died there. Around dawn, I tried to open the closet door and the knob would not turn; it was not broken - it was as if someone was holding it from the other side. I have done some research and come up with no info, but I will never forget that terrifying night. However, it hasn't scared me away from the best hotel in NYC.

Artist Jennifer Elise Schaperow reports, “There was definitely something going on, on the 10th floor. I could feel the energy. I’ve had some moments where my hair just stood up and I knew I had to run and get off that floor. One time [circa 1997], my roommate saw the ghost of a man standing in our kitchen in the middle of the night, around two in the morning. It was crazy. It scared me.”

Dylan Thomas might be haunting the place. Wales Online reported in November 2009, "A TERRIFIED tourist has reported seeing the ghost of Dylan Thomas – in the haunted New York hotel where he fell into his fatal coma. The horrified guest at the world-famous Chelsea Hotel, scene of the poet’s alcohol-fuelled final days, claimed she saw the poet’s bug-eyed head floating in front of her bedroom mirror. The guest’s chilling complaint, which followed a sleepless night punctuated by phantom footsteps and a creeping sense of fear, was posted on Chelsea Bloggers, a website dedicated to the 125-year-old inn. “I suddenly looked up and right in front of the bedroom mirror, I saw a head in mid-air,” said the woman, identified only as “Anna”, "The head seemed to grimace at me, and I will never forget the eyes staring me down, almost bug-eyed. The face seemed to be wearing some kind of theatre make-up, bright red lips drawn on very carefully, white face paint, and ear-length tightly coiled black hair. I have an idea of who this man was after looking at images of the famous that lived there and departed to the afterlife. The picture I observed made my stomach sink… it was the same face, that same grimace, and those same sad and large eyes. It looked like Dylan Thomas’s face.”

And Sid and Nancy have both been spotted in the hotel. Matthew Swayne's "Haunted Rock & Roll" pg. 102-104.

The Hotel Chelsea has been made new again and more than likely has lost much of its bohemian charm, but that doesn't mean that something from the past doesn't still remain. Is the Hotel Chelsea haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, May 30, 2024

HGB Ep. 540 - Edinburgh Manor

Moment in Oddity (Suggested by Karen Miller) - Barnett Grave in Road

We have heard about bodies getting exhumed to be relocated to new burial sites. Near Franklin, Indiana, along County Road 400 there lies a most unique grave. Nancy Kerlin Barnett died in 1831 and was buried on a hill overlooking Sugar Creek. By 1912, the community planned to build a road which would run through the existing cemetery. The decision was made to exhume and move the bodies to a new location. As the construction proceeded, the grandson of Nancy protected her grave by brandishing a shotgun. He stated that the location was where his grandmother wished to be buried and he would not allow her body to be moved. The workers conceded and built the road around her grave. A headstone and historical marker identified her plot for decades. In 2016, the road was in need of repair and the preparations entailed exhuming Nancy's body temporarily while the road was worked on, then she would be replaced once the road was finished. To the astonishment of everyone involved, six more bodies were discovered during the exhumation. Two women, a man and four children were found.  Once the road and median were completed, the bodies were reinterred and a new marker was placed on the spot. People still leave coins and flowers at the burial today. It was surmised that perhaps Nancy's grandson fought the exhumation due to the fear of a family secret being uncovered. The burial is definitely one of the most unique gravesites in the United States to date and certainly is odd.

This Month in History - SpaceX Dragon

In the month of May, on the 25th, in 2012, SpaceX's Dragon C2+ capsule became the first commercial spacecraft to dock with the International Space Station. The flight was performed under a funded agreement from NASA as the second Dragon demonstration mission in the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services also known as the (COTS) program. This was the first American spacecraft to visit the ISS since the conclusion of the Space Shuttle program. The initial launch from Cape Canaveral took place three days earlier on May 22nd. Various objectives were completed successfully prior to the docking which was accomplished utilizing the Canadarm2 to capture and dock the Dragon. For nearly six days the spacecraft stayed docked at the ISS while astronauts unloaded its cargo and then reloaded cargo destined for Earth. On May 31st, Dragon undocked from the ISS and its capsule landed in the Pacific Ocean off the California coast. All the objectives of the mission were successfully completed, and the Falcon 9-Dragon system was then authorized to begin regular cargo delivery missions to the ISS under the Commercial Resupply Services program.

Edinburgh Manor (Suggested by: Karen Miller) 

The Joker isn't just a comic book villain. This is an entity said to reside at the Edinburgh Manor in Scotch Grove, Iowa and he too seems to be a villain. The manor was once a poor farm and as we have found through the years, these locations tend to come with haunts. After the original poor farm was dismantled, the brick manor was built and used to house the mentally ill, disabled and elderly. There are several spirits who have joined the Joker here. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the Edinburgh Manor!

Edinburgh Manor sits a few miles south of Scotch Grove in the middle of eleven acres of cornfields, making it an easier place to investigate because there isn't a bunch of outside contamination. The land upon which the manor sits was originally set aside for the construction of a courthouse. The plan originally was to have the then-town of Edinburgh serve as the county seat for Jones County. President Buchanan had signed a grant for that purpose in June 1840. This was section 36 in Wayne Township. When the decision was made to build the courthouse elsewhere, commissioners kept the grant so that they could build a poor farm. It was going to be needed because the area would become impoverished as Edinburgh faded away. The first settlers in this area had come from the Red River Settlement that had been in Winnipeg, Manitoba. These were called the Selkirk Settlers because they were sponsored by Lord Selkirk. This group had been through a lot. Fur traders had tried to drive them West and by the time they got to the future Scotch Grove, they were starved and terrorized. Their ancestors had experienced the same as they were evicted from Scotland during the Highland Clearances. This Scottish heritage is where the name Scotch Grove came from. The town was officially laid out in 1872 and remained a rural crossroads community despite having a train depot.

Several decades before Scotch Grove was officially founded, the poor farm was built on section 36 in Wayne Township. A husband and wife team known as the matron and steward would run the poor farm for the government and raise their children there. If you lived on the farm, you worked on the farm. Most residents were elderly, disabled people abandoned by their families, the incurably insane and orphaned children. During the nineteenth century, poor farms popped up all over America as a way to house and care for the indigent and needy. By the 1950s, most poor farms were gone. In 1909, it was decided to replace the residential facility on the land with a better building and that was finished in 1912. This new rendition was run as a county home and stood two stories with a basement and was built from red brick. The building covered 12,000-square-feet. The manor was split by gender with male inmates in the west wing and women in the east wing. 

From the time of the poor house to the closing of the manor, at least 230 people died on the property. There were suicides, disease and natural death. If families didn't collect the bodies, they were buried in a pauper cemetery on the grounds. By the 2000s, there were very few people living here, somewhere between 20 and 40 residents. The county government decided to hire a not-for-profit company to provide care. And before long there was a scandal, which led to a Medicaid fraud investigation that uncovered mismanagement and abuse and the sexual assault of a resident by three employees at another facility that the company managed. The company was fired and Edinburgh Manor was cited for being “dangerous… and not conducive to having disabled people live there.” On top of that, Social Security and other public safety nets had made the need for these kinds of facilities obsolete. The manor closed officially in 2010.

The building was bought in 2011 and reopened for tours and paranormal investigations under the ownership of Cindy Anderson and her partner. The initial plan was to renovate this into a bed and breakfast, but that didn't happen. The building needs much love as the paint is peeling heavily from the walls, ceiling fan blades are literally drooping and everything is in a state of disrepair. Anderson told Curious Iowa that they figured out that the property was haunted after her partner spent a night alone in the manor shortly after they acquired the property. About midnight he went to go to sleep with his dog on an upper floor and he called Anderson to tell her that something was touching his foot right at that moment. Something he couldn't see. And then the dog pops up out of a dead sleep and she starts barking and doing a guttural growl. Anderson's partner described the feeling as though someone was squeezing his foot and releasing it, over and over. Then a family member asked if he could investigate the place and after some hesitation, Anderson agreed. They hadn't told this family member what had happened or what room it happened in and in Room 200, which had been where the paranormal touch happened, the investigators caught an EVP that said, "I grabbed you." 

Over the years, Anderson has been pushed and had her hair pulled. She believes that the time she was pushed, was by The Joker because she was down in the basement. Everybody agrees that whatever The Joker is, it is a malevolent spirit. Once, it threw a bunch of dishes. It keeps to the basement, mainly in the boiler room and a small padded cell on the opposite end of the basement, and has appeared as an apparition and has grabbed and choked people. He is said to have ended his life in the padded cell. There are claims that this is a demon and that it is joined by four other demons down there. Uh huh. There are several other spirits in the building. Visitors and investigators claim that there is a spirit of a little girl. She has been heard playing and laughing and likes to play with toys. She has rolled balls when asked. There may also be a second child as well. Both seem to stick to the first floor and any poltergeist activity is attributed to them. There is a Puzzle Room where jigsaw puzzles still remain, partially completed, and that sometimes pieces follow guests home without them knowing. Toys light up on their own and move, doors slam on their own and people have heard the disembodied running of children. One of the most common things that happens is that stairway doors open and close on their own. Paranormal Investigator Noah Leigh was in the men's recreation side when his group heard a door close on its own.

Another spirit may be connected to a brutal rape that occurred in the manor on the first floor. People claim that there is an uncomfortable presence in that room. A woman in white has been seen on the second floor landing dozens of times. Is she connected to this rape or is she another woman? She vanishes after being seen. Paranormal investigator Marilsa, of Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee, claimed when the group investigated the manor that she saw a white mist near the ceiling while they were setting up. It's thought this might be connected to the lady in white.

We were watching this video by Twin Paranormal, which is a team of three young men, and the story they tell about one of the ghosts started this way, "This next story is about an elderly man in his fifties..." WHAT!? Geez Kelly, now we are elderly. Anyway, the story continues that his family abandoned him here at the manor and he was very upset about it. He decided to tie a bedsheet around a door handle and then around his neck and he hanged himself. This man is now seen walking the halls as a dark or shadow entity. Some stories claim that the man was actually a janitor who hanged himself in the janitor closet. Twin Paranormal had a ton of interaction, loud bangs and noises, lots of words coming across an ovilus. They were told that there were seven spirits there and that one is bad. About 30 minutes in there was an interaction that peaked our interest. They asked the spirits to either speak into a device or interact with the devices that were set up and the ovilus said, "We will hurt." Now, these guys assumed that perhaps the spirits were threatening them. We were wondering if the spirits were saying that touching the devices would hurt them. We've been told that in the past. They were down in the basement and when they asked where the Joker was, they got "Boiler Room" across the ovilus. During the hours long investigation "tall man" came up twice when the team mentioned The Joker. It is said that the Joker appears to be tall and slender. There is a Basement Kitchen Office and Cindy Anderson saw a tall male ghost down there with a brown cowboy type hat and a long duster coat. It was in the middle of the day. Could this have been the Joker?

Paranormal Quest investigated in 2022. They are a great team that goes into these places with respect and because of that, they got this endearing and sad interaction with a spirit that said its name was Mark and that he ended up here because he had PTSD from combat. "Please help" and "pray" came through the spirit box. They caught shuffling and loud thumping on video. @theamazingoz9764 commented under their video on YouTube, "I’ve toured it with my dad and felt something tap my shoulder with no one behind me." Ghost Adventures investigated during Season 11 Episode 1. Zak was sitting in the Padded Room and claimed to be "possessed" and felt an evil presence in there. Billy was in the Basement Laundry Room and a plate was knocked off a table and shattered and it spooked him real good. On the SLS camera they captured what appeared to be a figure the size of a child. Aaron said he saw a tall and slender figure down in the basement.

Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee wrote on their website, "Personal claims in the basement are not at all uncommon. On a previous investigation, one of our investigators was walking into the Main Basement Hallway from the Basement Kitchen together with a second investigator when she felt the second investigator pull on her arms as if to stop her. When the investigator turned around to see why she was being stopped, she realized that our other investigator was in another room at least twenty feet from her. During a recent public investigation at Edinburgh Manor, hosted by PIM, one of our guests claimed to experience what she described as a hand on the back of her neck which were at the same time cold and burning hot. Although she was completely fine after a minute or so, her neck was observed to have a pronounced red mark after this occurrence. Although we are unable to say that this was anything but a personal claim, it still adds to the mystery of Edinburgh Manor’s famous basement."  

Ace wrote a year ago, "Always love coming here, been here 8 times now and always seem to experience something new. I've caught a female's voice on evp in the boiler room responding to a question I asked. Also the last time we went on 9/12/22 the person i was with left the restroom house to meet me in the manor and she heard kids playing and screaming and we went across the street to the small cemetery at 9pm and as we were leaving to go back to the manor she heard a little kid laugh at me due to me saying it was creepy in the cemetery. Same night we went to 2nd floor of manor where we were told the resident of the back room liked bird songs so we set up an evp and a YouTube video of birds singing and as we were sitting in the hall in the dark we heard someone say something it was like a whisper but unfortunately the evp didn't catch it due to being turned off." 

A man named Sean had gone to the manor for a photo shoot and they did a little exploring after. He said, "Forgot to mention that while we were in the attic, we heard an organ playing. There is an organ in the front room as you walk through the front entrance, but it doesn't work." A paranormal group investigating in 2021 left a recorder in Room 200 and caught a clear EVP saying, "Hello." Another group wrote in a review, "Our group first went there in 2013 and we try to go there every year. Full body apparitions, beds being dragged, strange lights, and much more!"

Paranormal Investigator Chris Nielsen spent five days and nights alone in the manor back in 2013. He wrote the book "Fear and Fascination in Edinburgh Manor" about his experiences there. He told the Paranormal Housewife Blog this about the manor, "The place is alive. Some strange type of organism. Each individual spirit in the building contribute to making the Edinburgh Manor a ‘living’ thing, like cells in the body. The halls speak. The walls have eyes. If you listen closely, you can hear it breathe." She also shares on the blog, "He said that they have heard “blood curdling” screaming. People have asked why they were screaming inside the manor but it wasn’t either of them. Chris said that the sound echos down the hallways. Another thing that Chris said that he has experienced is hearing an infant crying. He said that hearing it really unsettled him. He said that a former employee was talking to him during an investigation when the former employee said that he use to hear an infant crying while he worked the night shift. Chris also said that sounds are constant in Edinburgh Manor. He said that knocks, taps, bumps, voices, doors slamming and other noises are constantly happening. He said that the first night he spent the night at the manor, he was only able to sleep for maybe half an hour because of all of the noises. 'The manor has a way of playing cat and mouse with whoever in it.' He recounted a time during an investigation that the group he was with listened to a full on conversation between an older man and what he assumed was a child...He said that he has heard both plates and chairs being thrown. He also warned that people do get touched. Some of it is light touches or hair being lifted up but they have seen bruises and other marks from the not as polite spirits that roam the halls...they have experienced disembodied humming, a small green light, and even a full bodied apparition. They have also played peek-a-boo with a shadow form. Chris also had a note about The Joker. He said that Kelly believes it is a former tenant who had a mental disability that kept him from socializing normally. Chris thinks its an old maintenance man who believes he still has a claim to the manor and likes to try to keep the manor his." 

Desination Fear investigated the Manor and they captured disembodied footsteps. In the basement they asked the Joker to set off a REM Pod across the room and it did. There was definite audible laughing in the distance in the basement. They captured a snarling EVP, which was very creepy. At the end of the EVP Session Dakota says that it is the spirits last chance to say something before they turn off the recorder and there is a very loud "No!" that sounded bizarre, like a screech or something.

*How we would go about investigating the basement.*

Edinburgh Manor is ripe for hauntings with its history. Poor farms and county homes and asylums all seem to be magnets for paranormal activity. Very few enter here without getting some kind of paranormal evidence. Is Edinburgh Manor haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, May 23, 2024

HGB Ep. 539 -The Drovers Inn

Moment in Oddity - Xiaozhai Heavenly Pit (Suggested by: Michael Rogers)

In Fengjie County (FEN g uh), China, one can find the deepest sinkhole known to man. It is known as Xiaozhai (she-ow zigh) Tiankeng or Xiaozhai Heavenly Pit. Its depth ranges from 1,677 to 2,172 feet deep while its width measures approximately 1,762 feet. During the rainy season, a beautiful waterfall can be found at the mouth of the sinkhole. To aide in tourism, a 2,800 step staircase was constructed to allow easier exploration of the pit. The sinkhole was formed when the roof of a subterranean river gave way into the native limestone. The underground river that created this magnificent formation still flows today. After being mapped by British explorers in 1994, it was determined that the underground river spans a distance of about 5.2 miles. Species of flora and fauna number in the 1,285 range and include the ginkgo plant and even rare animals like the cloud leopard and Chinese giant salamander. The latter being one of the largest amphibians in the world having the capability of growing up to 6 feet in length. Exploration of the area may be a bit tiring for some but the views are said to be incredible and worth the effort. A majestic mesmerizing sinkhole of such magnitude, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - Frank Capra

In the month of May, on the 18th in 1897, Frank Capra was born. He was an Italian-born American film director, producer and screenwriter who had many major award winning films to his credit. He was raised in Los Angeles from a young age and was the only one of his seven siblings to attend college. Although he had that education, Capra was unable to hold a steady job. For a few years he resided in flophouses, hopped freight trains and supported himself with odd jobs on farms, performing as a movie extra, and selling oil well stocks. He once said that he "hated being a peasant, being a scrounging new kid trapped in the Sicilian ghetto of Los Angeles. ... All I had was cockiness—and let me tell you that gets you a long way." And indeed it did. When he was 25, Capra read a news article about a new movie studio that was opening in San Francisco. He phoned the studio and insinuated that he had experience in the film industry, although his only experience had been while in high school. The founder of the studio, Walter Montague, was still impressed by Capra and paid him $75 to direct a one-reel silent film based on a Rudyard Kipling poem. After that experience, Capra concentrated his efforts on obtaining additional jobs in the film industry. He was hired to be a gag writer for Hal Roach's 'Our Gang/Little Rascals' series and he continued developing his film industry skills. In 1928, Capra initiated his connection with Columbia Pictures and Harry Cohn in what would become a long term alliance. At the time Columbia Studios was considered a Poverty Row studio while up against companies like MGM, Paramount and Warner Brothers. In the 1930s, Capra began the climb to establish himself as a number one Hollywood director. Capra's films like 'It's a Wonderful Life', 'You Can't Take It With You', and 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington' solidified his arrival in a true 'rags to riches' style of the American Dream personified.

The Drovers Inn (Suggested by: Robert Kruse)

The Drovers Inn has stood for over 300 years and is one of Scotland's oldest and most haunted pubs. This establishment was named for the highland drovers, which were cattle drivers. Over the years, thousands of people have stayed here. Some have experienced paranormal activity and there seems to be many stories connected to this location and to the drovers themselves that involve death. And this, of course, leads to ghost stories. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of The Drovers Inn.

Loch Lomond is a freshwater loch in Scotland that crosses the Highland Boundary Fault. Many people think of this as the boundary between the lowlands of Central Scotland and the Highlands. Loch Lomond started back with the Ice Age. Three or four lochs merged into this body of water. People first settled the area around 5000 years ago and they left behind some evidence of their dwellings. The Romans invaded in the first century AD and they built a glen-blocker fort at Drumquhassle (Drumcastle). Glenblocker forts are located at the exit of a glen. During the early Middle Ages this area was part of the Kingdom of Strathclyde. During the Early Medieval period, viking raiders sailed up Loch Long and sacked several islands in the loch. Eventually this became part of the province of Lennox and was called Loch Lennox. The name was later changed to Loch Lomond, which is probably from the Gaelic word leamhan, meaning Lake of Elms. Folk hero Rob Roy hid out here at times and whisky smugglers had a major smuggling route through the area. Loch Lomond is popular with tourists. At the northern tip of Loch Lomond, the Drovers Inn was built.

The Drovers Inn was established in 1705, but more than likely was a military installation before becoming the inn. Diane saw on a map of the same location that it was probably named Ault Arnin Inn. The inn was later named Drovers Inn for the Highland Drovers. Highland soils proved to be better for raising cattle, rather than growing crops and so cattle droving became a vital part of the Scottish economy and remained as such for 300 years. Cattle were an important food source and could even be bled a bit without killing them to get blood to mix with oatmeal to make an early version of black pudding. *Yum - gag!* Just as they ran cattle drives in the West of America, Scotland would do the same to bring cattle to market, traveling long distances. The drovers would gather around the fires and share stories in the evenings and many of these stories included folk tales, stories about cows and horses and fairy tales. These early cattle were called Black Cattle and they were descended from Celtic Oxen and were a smaller version of more modern day Highland Cows and they were very hardy. They had long horns and thick hides with long hair that was well suited to the harsh winters. When Scotland was still set up as clans, it was expected of a young, up-and-coming chief that he would make a raid on the cattle of another clan as proof of his manhood. Fun Fact: Blackmail became a word at this time because mail meant rent and tagging it onto black referred to paying a tribute to get protection for the cattle. The black referred to the black color of the cattle. Droving eventually went away as a way of life when the railroad made transporting cattle easier. Many of those Scotsmen immigrated to America and became cattle ranchers in Texas.

The Drovers Inn originally catered to the drovers and one of those men was the infamous outlaw Rob Roy. Many people refer to him as Scotland's Robin Hood. Rob was born as a MacGregor and later took on the nickname Rob Roy, meaning Red Rob for his dark red hair. His uncle was the chief of the clan MacGregor. Rob spent his early years cattle stealing and blackmailing and when the penal laws against his clan of MacGregor were reinstituted, he took on his mother's name of Campbell in 1693. Rob was eventually entangled in debt and ruined by 1712. He then started a life of highway robbery, particularly during the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715. He was arrested in the early 1720s and confined to Newgate Prison in London. Rob Roy was pardoned in 1727 and died in 1734 at the age of sixty-three.

The Drovers Inn faces the road from Crianlarich to the head of Loch Lomond and stands three stories tall. There is a central gabled dormer and central pitched roof front porch with a window that had been a door when the inn first opened. The exterior was made from rubble stone and the roof was graded slate. A large wing to the right was added in the late 19th century. The left has a single story addition. There are small stacks to the North and South gables and a near-central ridge stack. The interior has been renovated extensively, but some original parts still exist. The ceilings are low and the windows have shutters. The interior is quirky and has been decorated with many taxidermy animals, including a bear that greets people upon entering. The bar still serves up drinks and the kitchen provides gourmet meals. A metal shark hangs from the ceiling of the Breakfast Room. In 2004, Ernest Strang bought the establishment. He sold to the Bruce Group Scotland in 2022 for more than 3 million pounds. The Drovers Inn today has fifteen rooms filled with antiques, oil paintings and modern amenities. There is also the Drovers Lodge across the road that 16 modern chalet style rooms and the Old Stagger Inn has three double rooms.

This is said to be one of the most haunted inns in Scotland. There are many stories connected to the unexplained phenomenon. The first dates to 1792, which was known as "The Year of the Sheep." The owner of the land where a certain crofting family was living decided that it would be more profitable to use the land for sheep farming and he forcibly removed the family. A croft is an area of land used for agriculture, so the family was farming the land with crops. The couple had a young child and they decided to head to the Scottish lowlands and if that didn't work out, they would emigrate to another country. It was a bad time of year to be traveling as it was winter and they were caught in a heavy snowstorm. The decided to make their way to The Drovers Inn, but the visibility became poor and the family was soon lost and they froze to death. There have been many people who claim to have seen the family wandering near the inn and sometimes even inside the inn as though they have finally reached their destination in the afterlife. One couple staying in Room 2 were awakened from their sleep because the room had turned freezing cold. As they peered towards the end of the bed, they saw a young family of four standing there, shivering. They could even see their breath in the icy chill of the room. The young boy of the family waved at the couple. And then, the family disappeared.

The ghost of a cattle drover named Angus is said to be at the inn. Nearly 300 years ago, he was driving a herd of cattle to a highland chieftain. He decided to overnight at the Drovers Inn and let the cattle rest. Angus decided that he too would rest, but not before he imbibed in several of the ales the inn had. A rival clan was at the inn and they saw that Angus was very inebriated. Angus passed out and awoke late the next morning. He was upset that he hadn't gotten an early start, but he was even more upset when he saw that the cattle he was driving were gone. The rival clan had stolen them. Angus had no choice, but to continue on to the highland chieftain and tell him what happened. The chieftain was enraged and he punished Angus by killing his family and his sweetheart. Angus was then banished from the clan. He roamed the highlands for months and came upon the rival clan and decided to get revenge. Angus hid himself and prepared to ambush the clan, but he had been spied earlier by one of its members and the group actually ambushed Angus. It was night and they hanged him from a tree behind the Drovers Inn and bled him out. Many guests have claimed to hear the disembodied screams of Angus and to see his apparition wandering outside the inn, perhaps still seeking revenge.

The River Falloch runs behind the Drovers Inn. Many years ago, a young girl was playing with her doll named Anabel - of course! - in the water. Usually the river was fairly tame and shallow, but there had been a lot of rainfall the day before and the undercurrent of the river was very strong. The child lost her footing and slipped beneath the water and was swept down river. By the time anyone noticed that she was missing, it was too late. A search party of family and cattle drovers found her lifeless body and carried it to The Drovers Inn, and laid her on the bed of room 6. The family went off to prepare her burial. Because the girl had been placed in this room, it is thought her spirit is connected to Room 6. Guests claim to be awoken at night when they feel a tiny, ice cold body next to theirs. And the doll Anabel has popped up in different areas of the room as if seeking her owner.

One couple staying in Room 6 reported, "On the night of Friday the 21st October my girlfriend and I made a stop off at the Drovers on our way up to the Isle of Mull. I have stayed at the Drovers many times but it was a first for my girlfriend. (She loved the place by the way). We stayed in room 6. After having a bite to eat in the bar we retired to our room for the night. At some stage in the middle of the night my girlfriend woke me up and asked if I could see the flickering lights moving around the room ? Still half asleep I told her she must be looking at the flashing light on the smoke detector. She asked me to look again, which I did. To my surprise there were numerous tiny white points of light dancing around in mid air. At any one time I would estimate that we could see between 10 and 20 of the lights. Although very small, the white lights were very intense. They seemed to move randomly, appearing and then disappearing. The room was pitch black with no other light source which could have been reflecting to cause what we saw. We both watched the lights for a long time, unable to explain what was causing them. The best I could come up with was that they were some type of tiny firefly, this was discounted when I later asked the hotel staff if such creatures inhabited the area. The answer to this question was “No!!” A week and a half on we still cannot give a rational explanation for what we witnessed. Currently the only explanation we have is that we witnessed a number of “Orbes”, often seen in photographs and believed to be some kind of spiritual manifestation. I can’t wait to return to 6 , I’ll bring a decent video camera next time!"

Another little girl ghost may be at the inn as well. A guest emailed the inn about this spirit and they share on the website, "A lady recently stayed at The Drovers one Thursday night with her daughter and friends for a birthday treat. A few days later she emailed wondering if we could tell them who the little girl in the pink dress was in the photograph they’d taken on the stairs. She said she was not with their party and they didn’t recall seeing any children in the hotel that night. Her daughter, who took the photograph, swears the little girl was not there when she took the photo of the staircase with her mobile phone. They were totally spooked out by the photograph but felt sure we’d be able to give them an explanation – unfortunately not though, there were no children staying at the hotel that evening, nor any children visiting. Spooky!" No one knows who this little girl ghost might be.

The Inn shared another experience from a couple who stayed in Room 115. "In the morning, while packing up to get on their way, they noticed that their digital camera had been moved slightly from where it was sitting next to the bed. While inspecting the camera, they found that there had been a number of photographs taken throughout the night. On looking through the photographs, they all appeared to be of the couple sound asleep, with what looked like an eerie light emanating from above the four poster bed they lay on. Confused by this discovery, they at first thought it could have been the work of one of their traveling companions, trying to play a prank on the couple for retiring early the night before. However, this explanation was soon discarded when they realized that their room door was still locked from the inside, as they had left it the previous night. On checking out of the Inn later on, the staff at reception also confirmed that there hadn’t been any staff that could have had access to the room either. With the couple’s friends also denying any knowledge of the incident, it remains a mystery to this day who or what took the photographs."

Paranormal investigators, Paranormal Scotland, captured eerie footage when they investigated in 2022. The group is headed by Michelle Walker and they overnighted in Rooms 2 and 6. Michelle told the Daily Record, "When we first arrived we had a good look around before we went up to Haunted room 6 and set up a camera. We left this camera running while we went down to set up some cameras and equipment in room 2, which is also said to be haunted." Room 2 didn't get them any results, but in Room 6 they captured several glowing balls moving in all different directions. Michelle said, "We caught on camera some strange lights, what we believe to be orbs. I know a lot of people put this down to dust or insects, but there were no bugs in that room that night, and dust is just completely different under a camera, it's a lot more consistent. What we captured was just amazing to watch."  The group also captured a weird picture of something white and translucent passing the bedroom door. 

The ashes of a former patron are kept in the pub. His name was George. There are some who say that George now haunts the bar. The Drovers Inn invites people to come as strangers and leave as friends. Perhaps there are some spirits who just decided to stay, period. Is the Drovers Inn haunted? That is for you to decide!