Thursday, March 23, 2023

HGB Ep. 479 - Prospect Place

Moment in Oddity - Anting (Suggested by: Mike Rogers)

Undoubtedly we have all witnessed an anthill where some unfortunate creature was becoming nourishment for the colony. However, would it surprise you to hear that there is a term called anting, where certain wild birds will actually choose to plop themselves down upon an anthill intentionally? There are a couple of hypotheses as to why over 200 species of birds will use the ants. One thought is that the ants are used to secrete formic acid onto the birds body to act as an insecticide, fungicide or bactericide. Another possible reason for the anting could be that by rubbing the ants encourages the ants to excrete their formic acid, allowing the ants to become more palatable for the bird to then ingest. Two types of anting have been identified as active and passive. Active anting is when a bird picks up an ant in its beak and rubs the insect on its body. Passive anting occurs when a bird appears to be taking a bath in a cluster of ants. Regardless of the actual purpose behind this peculiar, preening practice, birds using insects in such a manner, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - C.H. Gould Patents Stapler in England

In the month of March, on the 5th, in 1868, C.H. Gould patents the stapler in England. What would we do without staplers? It's the easiest way to hold a bunch of pieces of loose paper together. The 1860s was a revolutionary time for paper fastening devices, but the first known stapler dates back to the time of King Louis XV in the 18th century. He used the fastener to hold his decrees together. A man named George McGill got the first patent for a bendable brass paper fastener and he went on to develop a device that could drive the fasteners through paper. Gould developed the direct predecessor of the modern stapler, but this could only drive one staple at a time. Albert Kletzker developed a similar device in America in 1868 as well. By 1898, the Hotchkiss Stapler had been developed and this allowed for a strip of staples held together by wire. This required so much force that sometimes users had to use a hammer or mallet on the plunger to get the staple to go through the paper. The turn-of-the-century brought a clipless machine so staples were no longer wired together and 1923 introduced the first desk stapler. Swingline made many of the modern day staplers until they closed their US production facilities in 1999 and one of their most interesting models used a coil of 10,000 staples. That was back in 1974.

Prospect Place (Suggested by: Donny Lawrence Norris)

Prospect Place in Trinway, Ohio was built by an abolitionist and was a stop on the Underground Railroad. This was a house that not only had to be built twice due to a fire, but it was ahead of its time in regards to amenities. A legend connected to this property claims that a bounty hunter came calling looking for runaway slaves and rather than finding slaves, he found a noose as workers on the farm hanged him.  There are stories of spirits on the property. Join us as we explore the history and haunting of Prospect Place!

George Willison Adams, or G.W. as everyone called him, was born in Virginia in 1799 to a plantation owner. His father always had reservations about owning a plantation run by enslaved people and when George was still a boy, his father gave up the plantation, freed the slaves and moved the family to Madison Township in Ohio in 1808. G.W. was raised to be an abolitionist. In 1828, he and his brother Edward built a flour mill. When that proved successful, they built another larger mill in Dresden, Ohio. The brothers went on to own a boat yard and many warehouses in Dresden. G.W. used his wealth to build up the town of Dresden, becoming the largest employer in the town and he helped build bridges and a canal that connected Dresden with the Ohio-Erie Canal. One of the bridges was a suspension bridge that he tried to get members of a stock company he set up to finance. They thought the plan wasn't feasible, so G.W. paid for the construction himself and hired his nephew to  build it. The bridge was run as a toll bridge until G.W. sold it to the county commissioners for a third of what it cost him to build it originally. G.W. and Edward also used their enterprises to set up an Underground Railroad. They would take flour down to Louisiana and come back with enslaved refugees. Their mills were used as safe houses.

It comes as no surprise then that G.W. was very active during the Civil War, to help support the Union in any way he could. He contributed money and goods for the military. When the war was over, G.W. focused on the railroad. He allowed many miles of right of way on his land to both the Panhandle and the Cincinnati & Muskingum Valley railroad companies. Eventually he became director of both companies. G.W. also got involved in politics and served as a member of the General Assembly in Ohio. ​G.W. married Clarissa Hopkins Schaff in 1845, but she passed away in 1853. The couple had four children, but two of the them wouldn't survive into adulthood, ironically the two named for himself and his brother: George and Edward. G.W. then married Mary Jane Robinson in 1855 and they had five children. 

In 1856, G.W. decided to build his brick mansion. This was done in the Greek Revival architectural style with ornate gingerbread porticoes and rose three-stories, covering 9,500 square feet with 29 rooms. There was a wing added to the house that was only two stories and this was used as servant quarters. The roof was covered with copper panels. A cupola crowned the house and this would be used to house a signal light for runaway slaves. If the cupola was dark, it meant bounty hunters were in the area. If the cupola was lit, runaway slaves hiding in the fields would know it was safe to come up to the house. This place was ahead of its time with hot and cold running water from a copper tank cistern on the second floor that pressurized water throughout the house and two coal stoves that had copper tanks that heated the water. There was an early form of air conditioning that was created by bringing the cool air from down in the basement up through ducts inside the walls to the main living quarters. The home also had a unique refrigeration system. This was a gorgeous place and the family was just about to move in when the home was leveled by an arson fire. George Blackburn had been a bricklayer on the house who figured if he burned the house down, he would have more work to do building the new house. G.W. found out and a legend claims he had him arrested and that Blackburn managed to escape from jail, but was later killed when he tried to rob a house and met the sharp end of an axe. The truth is Blackburn never was arrested for the arson, but he did eventually go to jail for other crimes because he was a career criminal and he died at the Ohio State Penitentiary of heart disease.

The wreckage was cleared away and a barn was built on the remains of that first mansion that could serve as living quarters for ranch hands and also housed the carriages and horses. A new mansion was built that matched the previous one in every way except this one included modern fire stopping measures with interior walls being made from brick and a two-inch layer of mortar was placed between the first and second floors of the house to help block fire. G.W. named his home Prospect Place because it offered the prospect of a better future. And for runaway slaves, it offered the prospect of freedom. Abolitionist meetings were more then likely held in the Gentlemen's Parlor and one guest at the house was probably Mr. Nelson T. Gant who was a former Virginia slave from Loudon County that received his freedom when his owner died. He moved to Zanesville, Ohio and started an orchard and coal mining operation from which he became a millionaire. Gant was also an important conductor on the “Underground Railroad.” The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 made it legal for bounty hunters to capture runaway slaves in free states and take them back to the South for reward money. A legend claims that a bounty hunter came to the door demanding that runaway slaves be handed over. George had answered the door with a gun and there was a bit of a standoff until some of the farm workers came over and the bounty hunter left. There are claims that those workers chased down the bounty hunter, brought him back to the barn and hanged him from a rafter.

G.W. died at the age of 79 on August 31, 1879. Mary then moved to Zanesville to live with her sister and the eldest daughter Anna lived on the homestead with her husband William Cox and their children. There is a weird mystery here with William though. He put a lot of money into Prospect Place and he and Anna were happy here for many years. But at the turn of the century, something changed and William Cox just disappeared. A friend of the family claimed to spot him in San Francisco, but when she called out to him, he brushed her off and hurried away. Some believe that he really did go to the city, but died in the 1906 earthquake. The house would continue to stay in the Cox family until the 1960s. The family had squandered their money and left the house abandoned.  In 1969, Prospect Place was sold to a distant relative of George Cox named Eugene Cox who owned a gravel mining company, the Cox Gravel Company. Eugene decided to mine on the property. However, the house was left to ruin and vandals broke in and nearly gutted the place. By 1988, the once grand mansion was slated for demolition.

A local businessman named Dave Longaberger, of Longaberger Basket Company, couldn't stand the thought of the historic home being torn down, so he bought it with plans to renovate. Dave started with installing a new roof and putting a security system in to protect the house. Then he redid the floors and started tackling other projects, but then he was diagnosed with cancer. The cancer eventually killed him, but the Longaberger Company continued to maintain security on the property until 2001. The great-great-grandson of G.W. Adams, George J. Adams, purchased the home with the goal of finishing the restoration. He created a non-profit, the G.W. Adams Education Center, Inc., which has owned the building since 2005. In 2017, George retired as chairman of the board due to health reasons, but a new board of trustees and the educational center have continued the restoration. They host tours, school programs and ghost hunts, both public and private! Private hunts are just $70 per person on Wednesdays and Thursdays and $80 on Fridays. Saturday nights you can rent the place for $640.00

The property is said to harbor the spirits of the Adams family. The spirit of the bounty hunter is thought to still be hanging out in the barn. His angry spirit is said to lash out at visitors and a dark clad form is seen in the barn. Other possible spirits might belong to fugitive slaves. Some who arrived at the house had been beaten or shot and they didn't survive their injuries. There is a legend about a young girl who had been in the house, delirious with fever. She had gotten up and walked out onto a balcony that was over a side portico and slipped on some ice that sent her over the railing and to her death. Her body was kept in the basement until the spring thaw. She is seen walking around the house in a white dress, especially in the ballroom. Anne Adams-Cox is said to have died in the house after an accident, broken-hearted from the disappearance of her husband. Her apparition has been seen wandering the halls. A psychic once claimed that a former servant at the house likes to hang out on the stairwell landing between the second floor and the ballroom.

Adelaide Haunted Horizons made the trip from Australia to investigate here and wrote, "This was the second visit for me to Prospect Place.  Unfortunately, on the first one, I managed to lock my keys in the boot of the car, so I missed most of the investigation.  Now, I had a second chance to return to finally look for the Prospect Place ghosts myself.  This time I was joined not only by Kag but also by Beth Darlington from Access Paranormal. We started in the front room, and it wasn’t long before the Mel-meter (EMF Meter) triggered, but at the same time, a RemPod (proximity device) triggered upstairs.  Kag remained in the hallway down below while Beth and I went for a walk to the barn and stables. Despite us not being in the house with Kag, there were still thumps from upstairs and what sounded like somebody moving around, and the Ovilus (turns EMF fields into words) spat out the word ‘Blaze’.  Not only that, but upon doing an E.V.P. (Voices on recordings you don’t hear at the time) burst, she apparently captured two.  What are they saying?  We aren’t sure. Meanwhile, in the barn/stables, Beth and I were having experiences of our own.  I was looking towards the barn door towards the house, when I saw a small bright light which moved across in front of the house.  I saw it a second time in the doorway of the barn about 4ft off the ground.  It came in very bright white, undulated, turned and then vanished.  I will add that this was seen with my eyes, not on the camera, and it wasn’t peripheral vision but full-on.  A couple of seconds after this, the RemPod triggered.  Without telling Beth, she also saw a white light moving around. 

We swapped around, and Beth remained in the house on her own while Kag and I went to the barn to do a live stream.  We were getting some interesting results on the equipment, but suddenly we heard what sounded like Beth shouting.  We quickly turned off, thinking that Beth was in trouble and headed back to the house only to find that she was fine and hadn’t shouted out at all.  As we were discussing this, a fire alarm went off, deafening us as we tried to find it.  We called Jeff, our host, who was sleeping in a house close by, as we couldn’t fathom where it was coming from.  As he walked through the door, although it had been screaming for over 10 mins, it suddenly stopped and did not trigger all night again.  Jeff scratched his head as it was not that the batteries were going flat and there had been no source of the smoke.  The only thing he could think of was that whoever was there was trying to drive us out of the house, especially as the noise was so unbearable. Beth and I went down into the cellar, leaving Kag elsewhere, and it wasn’t long before we had equipment trigger, and at the same time, we had footsteps crossing above us.  We took note of the time to cross-reference with Kag, but she was nowhere near the area. It certainly was an interesting night, and we would love to go back sometime to explore further and try and communicate with the Prospect Place ghosts."

Mark Clair in 2014 on TripAdvisor, "I made sure I reiterated "haunted" in the title. It was. Active, alive, absorbing our energy, responding with incredible results. My team and I investigated this place. We had seen it on Ghost Adventures. Approaching the mansion is a walk back into history, rich with conflict, pain, sorrow, courage and death. During our investigation, I offered whatever energy I had to the residual residents so they could provide some sign that they were present and attentive. My team offered theirs as well. We continued on through the house and shortly after, we were collectively drained of our energy. We had never felt or experienced this kind of drain before and we've investigated many locations for many hours. It made us become almost comatose with exhaustion. We decided to venture into the basement and were amazed at the shadow activity. In dim light, after taking 15-20 minutes to allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness, our entire team witness shadow figures like nothing we've ever encountered. The shadows moving across and up and down the hallway were highly visible as they blotted out the only source of light at the end of the corridor. Many were at the end of the hallway, while others almost seemed to pass directly in front of us. It was at this time when a female team member was touched and her shirt pulled from behind. The activity continued for almost an hour. When it began to subside, we continued our investigation. All in all, we feel that Prospect Place is well worth returning to for another investigation. It's truly an amazing place."

Tom S in 2019 on TripAdvisor, "Five of us returned to Prospect Place for the third time in several years. The restoration of the mansion is continuing and what a worthy cause this is. We visited 6/23/19 and was met by Carrie and her Son. We were given a warm welcome and Carrie's Son shared some of his experiences with us. He is a budding ghost hunter and we enjoyed his stories. As on our previous trips we had activity in the cellar and on the 2nd and 3rd floors. The pigeons are gone and the 3rd floor battened down so it was much quieter and easier to investigate. We got quite a few good EVP's and were told there were 8 Adams there, Sophie Adams and several who were servants are still there. We got some interesting photos and videos. The house was very active the night we were there. If you are interested in the Ghost hunts, we highly recommend it and if you are just into history it is still highly worth the visit. Stop in and see for yourself."

Ghost Adventures investigated Prospect Place during their third season in 2010. The guys heard disembodied laughter and hissing and a young girl's voice. They caught EVPs saying, "come here," "some more" and "get out." They also heard disembodied footsteps, had an object thrown at them and heard a loud bang. The guys also claimed that a cross on the wall was getting very cold and they believed this was an...uh...portal opening up. There were the usual balls of light that Ghost Adventures captures that we don't put much stock in.

In 2016, Ghost Brothers went out to investigate Prospect Place. They were greeted by the owner, George Adams who was the great-great grandson. A woman named Kim Salzwedel told the Ghost Brothers that she had been in the barn when she was touched by a spirit. She said she felt a burning on the upper part of her back and her daughter looked at her back and there was a large red handprint with scratches under it. She and her daughter also captured an EVP saying, "I will cut you." Kim agreed to meet the guys out at the property and she told them that legends claim that the bounty hunter that was hanged in the barn could have been buried there as well. The Ghost Brothers brought out a cadaver dog and it did indicate that there were human remains in a part of the barn. The dog's signal was to bark, but he did even more than that. He started growling and ran away from the area that he marked. 

Dalen is sensitive to energy and in one of the upstairs bedroom, he got so nauseous he had to leave and he did end up throwing up into a trash can. The Ghost Brothers started their investigation in the barn and they set up a REM Pod. When they asked if there was someone in there that they couldn't see, the REM Pod lit up. Later they asked why the spirit only messes with women, is it afraid of men and the REM Pod lit up again. Dalen felt like he was pushed in the barn. They went looking for a red-eyed entity that hides down in the basement and Dalen did seem to capture two red dots on the thermal camera. They tried debunking it thinking it was lights on the camera causing it, but then the dots weren't there anymore. Something started scratching near a fireplace on the third floor when Marcus asked if there was anyone else in the room with them.

Prospect Place is a large and distinct house with an equally distinct and historic brick barn. The place once saved slaves and now it seems that some of those spirits might be saving this place as people come from all around to seek their presence. Is Prospect Place haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, March 16, 2023

HGB Ep. 478 - Mason House Inn

Moment in Oddity - Fiscal Fishy

So many people around the globe play video games. Recently there was a Japanese gamer with about 100K subscribers on YouTube who had his credit card compromised by his Betta Fish. Without ever giving a thought to the consequences, this fiscally, foolhardy fish used it without his owners permission and created a security breach during a live stream gaming event. This particular gaming community actually use fish as the players. How do you ask? Well, the YouTuber devised a system that allowed their Betta fish to play Pokemon games on a Nintendo Switch. The fish tank actually has sensors that act as buttons on the gaming device. The recordings of the Betta tells the characters which way to move or how to make decisions. Prior gaming attempts were in Pokemon Sapphire where the fish in question, beat the game, garnered 450K views. However, the security breach occurred during a game of Pokemon Violet during a live stream. After 1,000 hours of playtime the game glitched and the Switch changed to its home screen. The Betta just kept swimming obviously, and in doing so, inadvertently opened up the Nintendo eShop where the opulent opponent purchased four dollars worth of points using his owner's credit card. Doing so exposed his owner's account information to the live stream audience. This feisty fishy was not done there... He also proceeded to download an app to play Nintendo 64 games, spent reward currency on a new avatar, asked for a confirmation email from PayPal AND changed the name of his owner's account to ROWAWAWAWA. These days we all need to be cautious to keep our credit cards safe and secure. However, one thing is for certain, a fish stealing financial information, sharing it and then proceeding to go on a shopping spree, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - The Birth of Greenbacks

In the month of March, on the 10th, in 1862, the first issue of U.S. government paper money occurred as $5, $10 and $20 dollar bills began circulation. These were also known as greenbacks, due to the green ink on the backside of the paper money. The government began the issuing of this paper money in the effort to help finance the Union cause in the American Civil War. At the end of the war, fiscal conservatives demanded that the government retire the greenbacks. This was opposed by farmers and others who desired to maintain the current higher prices. The Panic of 1873 and the following depression polarized the nation. At that time, farmers demanded more greenbacks be issued or unlimited silver coins. In 1874, the Greenback-Labor Party was formed and after Congress passed the Resumption Act, the greenbacks were able to be redeemed in gold. The Greenback-Labor Party made the repeal of that act its first goal. Eventually a compromise was made that kept the Resumption Act, the expansion of paper money redeemable in gold, and enacted the Bland-Allison Act. This new act created a limited resumption of the coinage of silver dollars. By 1878, most people supported the expansion of currency and thought that the best chance of success was to move further towards the unlimited coinage of silver.

Mason House Inn

The Mason House Inn is the oldest steamboat hotel on the Des Moines River in Bentonsport, Iowa. It has a history connected to the Mormon Trail, the Civil War and the Underground Railroad. Today, it is run as a bed and breakfast rather than a hotel. There are several reasons for spirits to be hanging out here and the owners embrace the haunting, documenting dozens and dozens of experiences. join us as we share the history and hauntings of the Mason House Inn.

Bentonsport is a small village along the former Iowa Mormon Trail. The village was founded along the Des Moines River and that made it an important port for steamships along the river. Charles Sanford was the first settler in the area and he built a trading post here in 1836 and it was called Ross Settlement. The name was later changed to Benton's Port for Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri who had been known as Old Bullion and was an architect of Manifest Destiny. On June 21, 1837, the board of supervisors of Van Buren County granted licenses to two men named Isaac Reed and Henry Smith. This gave them the right to run ferries across the river between North and South Benton's Port. And they would transport all kinds of things from equipment to humans and every kind of animal and even whole wagons with a team. Bentonsport flooded twice, once in 1851 and another time in 1903. The oldest wagon bridge of its type is located here and was built in 1883. Today, this is mostly a tourist area with several bed & breakfasts and Mason House Inn is one of them.

The Mason House Inn was originally named Ashland House and was opened as a hotel for travelers on the steamships in 1846. At the time, this was located next to the post office, just to the right of the river bridge overlooking the river. The hotel was built by Billie Robinson who was a Latter Day Saint from Nauvoo, Illinois and was designed in the Georgian Federal architectural style and stands two 1/2 stories with twenty-one rooms. The top row of windows on the front entrance feature a large central window that is balanced by two quarter-circle windows, making it unique. A tugboat struck it in 1851, but only caused slight damage, which we believe can still be seen today. By 1857, a couple named Lewis and Nancy Mason owned the inn and they renamed it the Phoenix Hotel, but eventually the place just took on their name and has been the Mason House inn since. During the Civil War, Iowa was Union and a safe haven for runaway slaves. The hotel soon found itself on the Underground Railroad as it was ten miles from the Missouri state line and made a good first stop.The hay loft of a barn on the property was used as a hiding place as was a tunnel in the back that was connected to a wood shed.

Senator William Ernest Mason was the youngest son of Lewis and Nancy and he wrote of this time when he was ten in his autobiography, "If I became interested in 1856 in politics, I was more so in 1860.  (William was 10 years old in 1860.)  I used to listen to my father's talk about politics, and go out to hear him and others speak on that subject.  I cannot remember the year when we used to help the run away slaves.  I remember my first experience.  I was sent out to the barn with a basket of bread and meat and told to take it up to the hay loft.  I did so and as I put the basket on the floor near the stairs, I saw two or more black curly heads stick out from the hay, and you can imagine my fright and that it did not take long to get back to the house.  I was smart enough not to tell anyone, for if I told, the poor fellows would have been sent back to slavery.  I learned afterwards that my father's house and barn was the first station on the Underground Railway, being about ten miles from the Missouri line, and that the negros came in the night, knew where to go, and were fed and slept and directed on to a Quaker settlement at Salem as near as I now remember.  My father was a great lover of law, and yet I wonder when I think of it, he helped escaping slaves, and in that way openly violated the law.  It brought him into some trouble with his church, but he was not expelled from the church nor was he indicted, though both were threatened.  I believe that the time will never come again in this country, when a man will be justified in breaking the laws of his country.  We will never have slaves again and the laws must be written by the conscience of a Christian people, and obeyed until repealed by that same power."

The hotel not only was cover for escaped slaves, but it served as a shot term hospital as wounded soldiers awaited transport to a hospital in Keokuk. Many soldiers didn't last long enough to make the trip and died at the hotel. For a time in the 1940s, the hotel hosted the community library. The Mason family held onto the property for 99 years, passing it through family members, and then sold to the Redhead family who ran the hotel for 33 years. During their tenure, they added the general store that is attached to the main house. In 1989, the McDermets bought the inn and in 2001 Chuck and Joy Hanson bought the place as the fifth owners of the house and the current ones, although the property has been up for sale for some time. There are many stipulations as to who they would be willing to sell to and this includes keeping all the antique furniture with the house and continuing to run this as a bed and breakfast. Many of the antiques are original to the Mason family. The Hansons added the Caboose Cottage in 2006, which features the opportunity to overnight in a real rail car! They had to deal with a flood in 2008. 

They wrote of that experience, "We had sandbags along the sidewalk in front of the Inn and all the way down to in front of the Caboose Cottage.  The water was about 18 inches up on the sandbags for about a week before it receded.  Our neighbor to the east did not sandbag, and we did not realize that our property is lower than his.  When the water went into his yard, it seeped downhill into our yard and flooded the property around the Caboose and in front of Rooms 2 and 3.  Chuck had a large sump pump going day and night for a week to keep the water from reaching the Main house.  The pump took one gallon of gas at a time, and would run for two hours on the tank full.  Chuck and I slept in Room 1 for the week so we could keep an eye on the water height.  We set the alarm clock to ring every two hours so Chuck could get up and put gas in the pump tank.  We called it "feeding the baby".  We had moved all the furniture out of Room 1 (except for bed) and out of the Parlor (except for the piano), since these were the two rooms to flood first if the water would have come into the Main house.  But, thanks to the sandbags and Chuck's diligence with the sump pump, the water never came into the Main house first floor.  The basement did get water into it because the sump pump down there burned out and we got about 8 inches of water in there before we were able to get another one hooked up."

And the great thing about the Hansons is that they are not only very happy to share the history of the hotel and area, but also to share ghost stories about the hotel and their own personal experiences. Nothing here is said to be malevolent and much of the activity is very subtle. And apparently, the spirits have requested that no Ghost Boxes be used during investigations. Which is interesting since we've found it to be the best way for them to communicate. But it is cool that the hotel readily welcomes people to investigate. For $500, your group can have the main house to yourselves. Or you can just book a room and do a little investigating while sharing the place with non-ghost hunters. The hotel even had "The Today Show" name it as one of the most haunted hotels in America.  

There are many possibilities for who could be haunting the inn and the current owners believe that they have had a couple hundred spirits come through. One spirit has been nicknamed "The Ghost Dog." The story here is that a young woman was killed by her estranged husband in 1883 in the hotel's parlor. Her dog went after the husband and mauled him to death on the front steps. The poor dog then mourned himself to death, refusing to eat. The dog's spirit is seen still waiting outside the parlor window for his girl. Lewis and Nancy Mason were the original Mason's to own the hotel and Lewis died in the hotel in 1867 from cholera. People claim that he is here in spirit. The couple's bedroom was what is now Room 5 and their bedroom set is in there. Mary was the couple's second daughter and she and her husband Frank Clark, helped Nancy run the inn. They eventually handed the inn over to Mary's niece Fannie and moved to Washington D.C. After Frank died there, his body was brought back to the hotel to be waked. Mary stayed on to help Fannie until her death at the hotel in 1911 on the third floor. Several people have seen both Mary and Frank. He is usually in a black suit and the couple are sometimes heard arguing in Rooms 5 and 6.   

Fannie died at the hotel on May 24, 1951 and the circumstances are sad. She died sitting in a chair by the fireplace in the dining room and had been dead for two to three days before a fellow business person came to check on her. He saw her through the window and had to break it to get to her. Her apparition is seen wearing a grey skirt and white blouse and is most often in the dining room or parlor. A Confederate soldier named Markie who died at the hospital is here. Another soldier who was 34-years old named Harold died here after being seriously wounded. He is seen in boots and likes to lay on the beds and knock on the walls in Morse Code. It is believed that the hotel may also have become a Tuberculosis sanitarium for a while in the early 1900s and a child spirit from that time is thought to be here. A doctor lived at the hotel in the 1940s and brought some of his patients there for care and some of them may have died in the inn. One of these people was the grandmother of a woman who took a tour at the bed and breakfast. And two girls named Amanda and Anna have told investigators that they died from injuries under the care of the doctor at the inn. An old man named Elmer argued often with the proprietor of the inn, Mrs. B.R., from 1956 to 1989 and he decided to off her one night. He climbed a tree behind the inn, holding a shotgun and a rope. His plan was to shoot the woman, but instead, she came home and found him hanging from the tree by the rope. Police reasoned that he was drunk and accidentally hanged himself, although a note in his pocket claimed that he planned to shoot Mrs. B.R. and then hang himself. The tree creaked in an awful way for quite a while before it was finally cut down.

Chuck and Joy not only embrace the paranormal going on at their B & B, but Joy documents the experiences in journals. We are going to share several of those. She started keeping the journals in 2003. The Hansons had three daughters, Cindi, Kristin, and Jinni, and they all experienced things. They had alarm clocks that would set themselves and go off. When the spirit was told to stop, it did. Beds are found messed up after they have been made. Floors are heard creaking and doors lock on their own. Joy sometimes leaves the front entrance unlocked to make it easier for guests to get in, especially during bad weather, and Joy would have to let the guests in because the door had locked. Apparitions have been seen in the mirrors, some that look like gray fogs.

Joy wrote in June of 2002, "We had a customer who was checking in, and while he was filling out his registration form in the foyer, he looked up the stairs and said, 'Is my room up there or over in the annex building?”  I told him his room was in the annex building, Room 2.  He said,  “Good.  ‘Cause you have a ghost up there and I just can’t deal with that tonight.'  He requested no breakfast and he was gone the next morning when I got up. Another customer, around the same time, was checking in.  And as she was filling out her registration form in the foyer, kept looking up the stairs.  She said, 'Did you know you have a ghost up there?'  I answered that we had been told that, but never saw anything ourselves.  Was it male or female?  She said, 'I don’t get a sense of gender.  Just that it is happy here and does not want to leave.  It likes it here.  It is a friendly spirit, it will not hurt you.  It just likes it here.  It may not have been someone who died here, it could have been someone who liked to come here when it was alive and has come back here.  It does not want to leave.'  That’s about all she could tell us. (We now know that was Curtis.)"

In 2003 Joy wrote, "Several times I have encountered a cold spot in the hallway on the second floor.  I get a momentary feeling of disorientation and then it is gone.  When I go back to the place where the cold spot was, it is gone.  Cindi has had similar experiences in the same place.  It is always in the hallway between Room 6 and the closet door on the second floor. A customer told us this story:  One night when he was staying here, (when the McDermets owned the Inn), there was a knock at his bedroom door late at night.  He answered the door, but there was no one there.  He closed the door and there was a knock again.  Once again he opened the door but there was no one there.  The next morning, at breakfast, the other overnight guests were all talking about how they had all had similar experiences the night before with someone knocking on the door but no one was there. About 1am, I heard the door to our bedroom squeak open.  I heard the floor squeak twice as if someone had entered our bedroom.  (It was dark and I did not have my glasses on to be able to see anything).  There was a pause and the floor squeaked twice going back out the door.  Then the door closed with a loud boomp.  This woke Chuck and he sat straight up in bed.  The next morning he said it felt like a cat was sleeping on the foot of our bed.  He could feel the vibrations, like purring, on his left foot.  But when he looked, there was nothing there and then the phone rang and the vibrations quit."
The Hanson's daughter Kristin had this experience in 2003, "She was climbing the stairs to her room on the third floor and she saw something white out of the corner of her eye standing in the doorway to the front bedroom.  As she got closer to get a better look, it disappeared.  The vision lasted only a moment, but the impression Kristin got was that it was an old woman in a long white dress or nightgown, about the same height as she is (5 ft. 4 in.)." A guest shared in June of 2003, "This morning after breakfast, the guest who had stayed in Room 5 the night before, called me aside and said: “I don’t mean to scare you or anything, but did you know you have a ghost here?”  I answered, “Well, yes we have suspected it.  Did you see something?”  She answered, “Sort of.  Last night I was sitting in the rocking chair in my room, reading a magazine.  My husband was in the shower.  Suddenly the room got really cold and I got goose bumps all over my arms and the hair stood up on my arms and the back of my neck.  Then I saw an area of fog begin to form over by the twin bed.  I just watched as the fog got thicker and I could almost see the head of an old man, but then the fog just vanished.  Then the room warmed up and I thought to myself “that was interesting” and I went back to my magazine.  It was not scary or anything, just interesting.  So I just wondered if you knew you had a ghost here.”

 Joy wrote in August 2003, "Yesterday we had two people here who said they could see and sense several ghosts in the Inn.  (Their names are "Dan" and "Jessica".)  They said there is a little boy, about 10 to 12 years old or so, who sits on the second floor landing and waves at people as they pass by.  (This might be George.)  Then he is sad when they don’t wave back.  They said there is a bloody body on the sidewalk in front of the Inn.  Someone fell down the back staircase and broke her neck.  Someone was killed in the dining room by the bay windows by 4 men at about midnight, and it is reenacted every night.  Something bad happened in Room 7 and there is still a lot of bad energy in there.  The doctor equipment in Room 5 still holds lots of energy from it’s owner. There is a woman in the southern 3rd floor room who likes to look through our stuff in there.  (We use that room as a storage room and Cindi says she hears things moving around in there.)  They said there is a protective spirit in the dining room who likes to take care of the house. (Fannie Mason Kurtz died in the dining room in 1951.)  Dan said he saw a woman brushing her hair while seated at the mirror in Room 5.  She turned to look at him when he entered the room, and then went back to her grooming.  All in all, they said the ghosts know we are here, they are aware of us.  They don’t like it that we are here, but they are used to us and won’t hurt us.  The little boy is mischievous and likes to play pranks."
"We had 2 different guests mention things today.  One was a man who took a tour of the Inn and later commented that something violent happened in Room 7.  He got some very strong feelings when he was in there.  The same day, there was a lady eating lunch in the dining room.  She kept looking over toward the fireplace.  Then she commented to her friend that there was a spirit in the room.  The friend said she should tell the owners.  I happened to be clearing the table nearby and heard all this.  The lady then looked at me and said 'Someone died in here.”  I said she was right.  The lady said “It is a woman.  She died here by the fireplace.  She is still here in the room walking among the guests.  She is happy.'  I told her about Fannie Kurtz.  The lady said 'She is still here.'"

Joy has seen a spirit named Buck several times. She wrote this in 2005, "Tonight I was struggling to get a large piece of wood in the woodstove in the Keeping Room.  It was heavy and a little too big and already burning on the far end.  I was struggling to get it into the stove when I heard the floor squeak behind me.  I turned my head just far enough to see a man wearing a long-sleeved cream-colored shirt standing outside the bedroom door watching me.  Because I was not looking through my glasses lens, the figure was fuzzy except for color. Thinking it was Chuck, (I knew he was wearing his long-john shirt which is cream and he was in the bedroom watching basketball) I went back to my wood thinking he would come and help me push.  When he did not come help me, I looked again and he was gone.  Just then the wood slipped into the stove and I closed the door and went into the bedroom to ask Chuck why he did not help me.  Chuck said he did not go into the Keeping Room, he did not know I needed help, he had been in the bedroom all along.  I think it was Buck again.  He wore a cream colored long-sleeve shirt when I saw him before."
In April of 2005,  "Last night we had a group here from Iowa State University having a staffing retreat.  This morning I was in the kitchen listening to the chatter in the dining room during breakfast.  The people were discussing whether they had slept good or not.  My ears picked up on the lady who had been in Room 7.  She said every time she was about to doze off, she got poked in her arm.  She thought it was a muscle twitch, but it felt like a poking, and it went on all night long.  So she did not get much sleep.  When I went to clean Room 7, it was obvious that the lady had slept on the right side nearest the window.  This is the side that gets messed up.  I wonder if someone was wanting her to move over." 

In May of 2005 Christopher Moon from Denver, Colorado who ran the online magazine Haunted Times Magazine visited. "Late Friday night, the 20th, Christopher and his father, Dennis, arrived just before midnight and they did a preliminary reading with an electrical detecting meter, digital cameras, temperature gauge, and a digital voice recorder.  We did readings in the dining room, Mary’s room, outside, in the parlor, and in Room 7.  We did voice recordings in the dining room, Mary’s room, and Room 7, and got a lot of clicks and pops and beeping noises, mostly.  But we also got a small child’s voice in Room 7.  Chuck asked "Did you arrive by steamboat, train, or stagecoach?”  and a child’s voice answered what sounded like “maybe”.  Christopher thought it sounded like a girl about 3 or 4 years old.  After he went to bed, he said she visited his room (4) as a shadow, but did not say anything.   In Mary’s room, in back of the scratching and popping sounds is the sound of a creaking rocking chair.  We got to bed about 3am.   On Saturday the 21st, our guests arrived around 1:30pm and we started the class around 2pm.  Chris described the various tools and machines he uses in his investigations and some terms.  We broke for dinner and then the fun began.  After Chuck and I gave a short history lesson, the group went up to the Bentonsport Cemetery to look around and see what we could get.  Mostly we got a lot of orbs and we did an EVP reading and got a definite answer to the question “Are there any Masons here?”  Don’t know if it was yes or no, but it was abrupt.  We stopped at the Presbyterian Church building on the way back and Christopher got a shooting orb on a video camera that shot over the top of the building!   When we got back to the Inn, we broke into groups and did pictures and EVP readings in various rooms.  In Room 6, Christopher and another man said they felt their shirt hem being tugged on.  We got a lot of orbs and some interesting voice recordings.  Here are some questions and answers:   “Do you know you are dead?”  ---  “yessss”.  “Are you happy here?”  ---  “happy”.  “Do you have anything to tell the owners?”  ---  “tell them we are happy”,  “not to leave now”.  (A few days earlier, Chuck and I had been talking to Bill and Betty Printy about moving back to Dayton.)   “Did you die here?” ---  “no” “yesss”.  (2 different voices).  We got to bed about 1am.  This morning, the 22nd, "Debbie" reported being touched on her arm during the night in Room 6.  The people staying in Room 8 were gone before breakfast, don’t know why." Joy called those people and said, "Today I called the people from Room 8 who left early.  She said their toilet kept flushing by itself and they heard footsteps walking around upstairs and it was too creepy so they left around 3am.  They live nearby so they just went home to get some sleep. We checked the  toilet and there was nothing wrong with it."

This was from August 2005, "We had a couple in Room 5 last night who were hoping something would happen.  Boy did they get their wish.  They had heard about the rocking chair sounds and were laying in bed listening, but the husband fell asleep without hearing anything.  Soon after that, the wife "Tamara" heard a man or men talking.  It was dim and she could not make out what they were saying.  She thought it was the TV or maybe someone outside.  She got up and looked out the window and did not see anyone.  She went down to the dining room and found it dark and quiet.  She went back upstairs and back to bed.  The talking got louder and louder and then she felt a cold spot forming on her left thigh and her chest.  She looked at her leg and saw goosebumps in that area.  Then she felt a pressure on her thigh and her chest pressing her into the bed.  It pressed her hard and she could not move and found it hard to breathe.  Then the muttering voice got very loud and seemed to come from right above her face.  She said it a man’s voice, low and gravely.  She could not understand what he was saying and she was trying very hard to figure out what he was trying to tell her.  He got loud and insistent.  It lasted for what she called a long minute, and then it was gone.  She felt her chest and it was ice cold.  She woke her husband and asked him if he had heard any of it and he had not.  But he felt her thigh and chest and said they both were ice cold."

This was from November 2005, "This morning at breakfast, the lady who stayed in Room 5 last night, asked if any of the guests had a little girl.  We said there were no children.  She told us that last night, as she was climbing the stairs to go to her room, she saw a little girl about 3 or 4 years old run across the top of the stairway, like from Room 4 area over to Room 6.  She was wearing a long white nightgown, and just ran across and that was all.  But there were no children guests in the Inn that night.  Did she see Robin?"

Now jumping to 2009, "Chuck and Jinni and I have been sleeping up in Room 7 because our room is sooooo cold.  Our room / office is in the old horse stable building, and there is no heat in there.  We have a space heater going, but when it is in the minus-degrees outside, like it has been lately, the space heater just can't keep it warm enough to sleep in there.  Anyway, all the guest rooms have their own heaters and are nice and toasty warm, so we have been sleeping upstairs.  A few little interesting things have happened, night I heard Jinni shifting around in her bed, like she does when she is being annoyed.  Then I heard her say, "Stop it.  That's my blanket."  Then she went back to sleep.  I asked her about it the next morning and she said someone kept pulling off her blanket, she did not know who it was.  One night, Jinni and I had gone to bed, but Chuck had stayed up to watch a football game.  About 11pm, I heard the bedroom door open, close, and footsteps shuffled into the room, but nobody got into the bed.  I looked, expecting Chuck, but no one was there.  Chuck finally came to bed about midnight and I asked him if he had looked in on us earlier and he said he hadn't.  Well, somebody did!  The next morning, there was alot of knocking going on in the room.  There was a knock on our headboard, on the wall across from my side of the bed, and on the wall next to Chuck's head.  It sounded like one, loud rap with knuckles on wood.  Chuck also said he heard some noise on the third floor like something heavy being slid across the floor up there.  Last Saturday, I was talking to Cindi on the phone and she made a comment about poopy baby diapers, and I heard a woman say "There's nothing I can do about that."  It was really clear, but Cindi did not hear it, so it was only on my end.  I don't know if that was paranormal, but it was definitely not-normal.  We have had voices in the phone before, but not that clear."

January 2009, "Last night there was a team of four ladies who are part of a paranormal investigation team from Illinois.  They had some interesting personal experiences.  They heard knocking on the walls and sounds of someone walking around in the hallway, when they were all in Room 6.  They used their pendulum to ask questions and it was reacting well.  They took pictures throughout the night, but the ones they took during and right after the pendulum sessions were full of orbs and they were very impressed by this.  Something that I noticed was that about 8pm the ladies and I were talking in Room 6, along with Doug, another investigator from near Chicago, and we were sitting near the hallway.  At one point I heard the sound of someone coming up the stairs but no body came up.  Another time I heard footsteps in the hallway, down toward Room 7, and I looked and saw nothing, but the sounds were there.  Then, in the area where Doug and I were sitting, the temperature dropped suddenly and Doug broke out in goosebumps on his right arm but not on his left, his right arm being the one near me.  I got so cold I started shivering.  This lasted for about a minute then it warmed up.  I wonder who it was that was standing there listening to us talk. Doug told me a story of something that happened the last time he was here with a friend:  They were staying in Room 5, with Doug in the big bed and his friend in one of the twin beds in the adjoining room.  About 1:15am, the friend started yelling at Doug for shaking his bed, thinking Doug was playing a trick on him.  But Doug answered that he was over in the other room.  When the friend realized that it was not Doug, he jumped out of the twin bed and ran over to the big bed with Doug.  He would not go back to sleep alone.  He said the mattress of the twin bed was actually picked up at the foot and dropped several times.  As long as he thought it was Doug, he was just annoyed.  But when he found out it was not Doug, it really scared him.  He spent the rest of the night on top of the covers of the big bed and would not go back to the twin bed.  I've never heard of anything so violent before, I'm guessing Harold really wanted to get this guy's attention!"

March 2009, "Last Thursday night, there was a husband and wife and two teenaged girls staying in Room 5.  The girls asked to try my pendulum, so I let them borrow it for the evening.  They tried to talk to anybody who wanted to do it and the only one who answered was Mary.  The girls were happy to talk to Mary and they said they had a nice conversation.  During the night, the two girls were in the twin beds and they heard footsteps walking around and around near them.  One girl saw a glowing orb next to her bed, low to the ground.  At first she thought it was her cell phone screen, but then realized that her phone was not there.  About the same time, the lady in the big bed woke up and saw the shadow of a man standing next to the bed.  He was wearing a 'baseball type' hat with a short brim.  It lasted a few seconds and then he faded away.  Then she saw the shadow of a woman, also standing next to the bed.  She could see the shadow was wearing a long dress or skirt.  The shadow turned and walked through the wall.  The lady said she had heard the walking-around sounds coming from the girl's side of the room, but thought it was the girls.  The husband slept through the whole thing, but later admitted that he had smelled a perfume that he had never smelled before.  He chalked it up to something new his wife was wearing, but she said she was not wearing any perfume."

February 2010, "There was a ghost hunting group here last night from Minnesota.  They had some pretty good personal experiences.  Early in the evening, one man saw a moving shadow that could not be accounted for.  The woman heard the scratching / tapping sounds that we have heard in Room 1, except she heard it in the Parlor.  The K2 meter reacted whenever the group talked to Harold.  They heard little running footsteps in the hallway, like those of a child.  The woman had an experience in her room during the night that disturbed her enough to go sleep in another room.  She did not say at the time what it was that disturbed her, and she left early, so the leader is going to talk to her tomorrow to see what happened.  They are going to review their video and audio recordings and let us know if they get anything interesting.  I'll let you know what the woman says as soon as I find out." and "This morning, Jinni and I were in the kitchen.  She was making her own breakfast and I was making breakfast for the guests.  She looked at the wall calendar and noted that tomorrow is Valentine's Day.  So she said "Happy Valentine's Day!", and a man's voice said "Thank you".  She looked at me and I looked at her and I asked her who said that.  She shrugged and answered that it must have been Dad (Chuck).  I went and looked in the dining room and there was no one there.  Chuck, I knew, was in the bathroom shaving, and it was not his voice anyway, it was a deeper tone.  It must have been Curtis again.  I think he likes to hang out in the kitchen."

March 2010, "This past weekend we had a ghost hunting group here from the Des Moines area.  Right away they started having some interesting experiences.  While looking at the doctor's equipment in Room 5, the bathroom door swung closed and latched.  Nobody was near it and there were no windows open, no breeze, no explanation.  Later, the doctor's equipment started swaying and swinging on their hooks.  The group tried to duplicate it with walking around and near it, but could not duplicate it.  During the night, one member saw a girl in a white nightgown standing on the landing and took a picture.  Hopefully they will send it to us to share here in the Journal.  They heard music and people talking, but could not figure out where it was coming from.  The twin bed in Room 5 by the wall was shaken during the night, it really surprised the young lady sleeping in it!  They heard footsteps in the hallway and up and down the staircase.  And they heard footsteps up on the third floor when nobody was up there.  In Room 6, the people saw moving shadows and heard footsteps in the room and hallway.  About 2am, there was a loud bang, but nobody could explain where the sound came from.  They got lots of orbs in the pictures and had wild temperature swings during the EVP sessions.   While sitting in the Parlor, they heard footsteps and a sound of chairs moving in the dining room, but nobody was in there.   All in all it was a very exciting and interesting night for them.  Their web site is"

April 2010, "The three ladies who stayed in Room 7 this past weekend had a busy time.  The two sharing the big bed said that every time they closed their eyes, the bed would shake like somebody was bumping against it.  They were watching a movie on their laptop, and one saw a little girl run across the room behind the computer screen.  The lady in the twin bed said she felt a cat jump onto the bed and curl up.  The other lady took a picture and they got what looks like cat eye shaped orbs.  They went around the Inn taking pictures of the different rooms and got a very bright orb in Room 6 with the face of a bald man in it.  They also got two orbs outside Jinni's door that have the face of a girl and a cat.  They have been here several times and always get some interesting interaction.  I think the spirits like their energy."

June 2010, "We went on a little vacation last week and when we returned we found quite a surprise.  We had cleaned all the rooms before we left, knowing we had guests arriving as soon as we got back.  I had done a check of all the rooms to make sure they were ready before we left.  When we got back, several beds were messed up.  Room 5's twin beds had cat footprints in them and the pillow had a head divot in it.  Room 6's big bed looked like somebody had sat on it (rear-end marks).  And Room 7's twin bed was really messed up.  The quilt was pulled down and the pillow was in the middle of the bed.  Somebody had pulled a "Goldilocks" on us and tried out the beds!  The next morning, my parents, who have been staying in Room 1, said they heard footsteps up in Room 6 all night long.  Somebody was up there walking back and forth and back and forth.  They thought somebody had checked in already, but nobody was up in that room during the night."

August 2010, "There was quite a bit of activity this weekend.  The couple in Room 7 said they felt somebody sit on the foot of the bed during the night.  When they came down for breakfast, they had made the bed and when they went back upstairs after breakfast, the bed looked like somebody had been laying on it.  Curtis is up to his tricks in there.  The ladies in Room 5 used the pendulum to talk to Harold, Curtis, Fannie, Amanda, and Mary.  During an EVP session, they heard two POP! sounds coming from the opposite corner of the room.  The twin bed by the wall was knocked on underneath the mattress.  The chandelier swung for about 20 minutes then stopped.  The ladies could not recreate it and keep it swinging for that long.  They locked their door and in the morning they found it unlocked.  The curtains were swaying in and out and they could not recreate that either.  I think Harold was having a good time with them."

Halloween 2010, "Wow, what a busy night we had last night!  We did one of our Ghost Stories Dinners (the next one is Nov. 6)  and had 21 people attending.  During our program about the things that happen around here, we heard alot of thumping upstairs on the second floor.  It was going on in Rooms 4 and 7 and in the hallway, we all heard it.  We made sure everybody was in the dining room and nobody was upstairs.  Later I asked Curtis about it on my pendulum and he said it was the children playing.  During the night, the people in Room 6 heard a woman singing up on the third floor above their room.  That must have been Mary since her room is up there.  The people in  Rooms 1 and 5 both heard children playing and giggling in the foyer and on the staircase.  The people in Room 8 heard shuffling footsteps outside their door about 2am, and they had a K2 meter and  they asked yes and no questions and found they had Morris and Harold in their room.  The K2 meter detects Electro-Magnetic Fields and will light up when something with electric magnetism gets near it.   She told the spirits to touch the K2 and make the "Christmas Lights" come on if the answer is yes.  She asked several questions to narrow it down to Morris and Harold.  During our evening program, the lady got really cold on one side and her leg felt like someone was sitting on her.  She asked if that was Morris sitting on her lap and the K2 indicated yes.  In a different room, I was talking to Curtis on the pendulum and he also said yes, Morris likes the lady.  

tks617 wrote in 2019, "Usually, I leave reputedly haunted places disappointed without having had an experience. I definitely did not leave the Mason House Inn disappointed on that count. Some very strange things happened--and I felt as if mischievous spirits were at play."

There are literally dozens of experiences here, which makes it hard to not believe that something unexplained is going on here. Just how many spirits are here is a mystery. Is Mason House Inn haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, March 9, 2023

HGB Ep. 477 - Investigation of Lilian Place

Moment in Oddity - Mimizuka Ear Mound

On History Goes Bump, we often discuss mounds of different varieties left by indigenous people. Sometimes they are mounds for holding rituals, sometimes they are gathering places, or they can also be burial mounds. There is a very unique burial mound found in Kyoto Japan called the Mimizuka Ear Mound. This is a memorial burial mound in south east Kyoto for the noses of Korean soldiers and some Chinese civilians killed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi's invading armies in the late 16th century. Although the location is commonly known as the ear mound, it's original name was Hanazuka, or 'Nose Mound'. In 1597, Hideyoshi ordered a campaign to try and seize the Korean Peninsula while heading towards conquering Ming China. During this time Hideyoshi ordered the entire populace of certain locations killed and their heads to be shipped back to Japan as proof. As it turned out, there were so many bodies that the soldiers needed to conserve space in the shipping of the corpses, so they began removing the noses from the heads to reduce the size of their "proof". It is told that tens of thousands of noses were buried in the Mimizuka Mound. Hideyoshi ordered the memorial built in what is perceived as an act of contrition, however it also could have served as a warning to other nations not to challenge the Japanese military. Regardless of the reason for building the mound, one thing is for certain, a burial mound containing just noses, certainly is odd.

This Month in History -  Penn's Pennsylvania Land Grant

In the month of March, on the 4th in 1681, King Charles II of England granted a huge tract of land in the New World to William Penn. This transaction served as a method to settle an outstanding debt that the English crown owed to William's father. Once Penn received the 45,000 square miles of land from the Crown, he set about attracting investors and settlers. By the year 1685, he had sold 600 individual tracts making up 700,000 acres of Pennsylvania’s land in the Quaker settlement. By 1700, that number increased to 800,000 acres sold. Although Englishmen made up the majority of the First Purchasers, Penn also concentrated advertising efforts in continental Europe as well. This attracted individual investors from Germany, Holland, and France. William Penn offered land tracts of varying sizes which not only appealed to those of higher means, but also to those of more humble circumstances with some plots as small as 125 acres. William Penn established Pennsylvania as one of the largest Restoration colonies eventually making it the geographic center of British colonial America. 

Investigation of Lilian Place

Lilian Place is a Victorian house named after a member of the Thompson family. This was a pioneer family of Daytona Beach and the house remained in the family for decades. We had done a daytime historical tour several years ago and produced a BonusCast based on that visit in which we actually captured EVPs and heard some ghost stories after the tour was over. We couldn't pass up a chance to return and do some investigating. Join us and our listener Bailey as we share the history of this great historic house and the results of our investigation!  

Getting out to island strips along the Atlantic Coast of Florida wasn't easy during the Victorian era. Living there would be even harder. The only way to make this feasible was to build bridges and many have been built through the past 150 years. Many people know Daytona Beach for two things: beaches and auto racing. But there was much more to this town that actually started as three towns that merged together: Daytona, Daytona Beach and Seabreeze. Daytona was founded by and named for Ohio entrepreneur Mathias Day. In 1870, he bought part of a land grant along an uninhabited mainland riverfront and dreamed of selling lots. That venture didn't work out well and only a few families built homes there, but Day was still referred to as the Pied Piper of Cincinnati since he convinced several families to leave the prosperous city and come down to this rugged area of humidity and mosquitos. Daytona Beach eventually became a place for the testing of automobiles and then racing and the hard packed beach made this one of the most famous beaches in the world, which is one of only a handful that allow cars to drive and park on the beach.

But long before all that, another entrepreneur was attracted to the area, Laurence Thompson. He and his wife Mary Eliza had lived in Ohio and knew Mathias Day who invited them to come on down. This wasn't an easy trip as the train only traveled as far south as Jacksonville. They had to take a boat to get further down to a place called Enterprise and then it was a horse-drawn wagon to New Smyrna and another boat to Tomoka, which is what Daytona was originally known as. Once there, they stayed at Day's hotel called the Palmetto House. Laurence and Mary Eliza did this all with two kids in tow, three-year-old Lilian and six-month-old Laurence Junior. Laurence was in the dry goods business and he bought property on South Beach Street from Day's brother Calvin and lived in the house that was already there. They built a dry goods store next door. This was in 1875 and the store served about seventy inhabitants living in the area. Laurence's brother Graham ran the business with him and they opened the upper hall as a meeting room. 

A little fun side story that we ran across connected to Thompson's store is connected to the start of the Daytona Beach News-Journal. The man who launched the paper in 1883, Florian A. Mann, had promised the small community that the paper would be out on February 1st, but that date passed with no paper. Apparently, the schooner carrying the newsprint had sunk. People were restless and Mann walked by the Thompson dry goods and got an idea when he saw the bolts of cloth in the window. He ran in and bought a roll of white cotton cloth that had a border of red-and-blue forget-me-nots and ran that through his press since it was about the same size. It worked!

Laurence eventually became city clerk for the fledgling town and tried his hand at growing citrus, but decided real estate would be more profitable. And that's where he made some serious money. Enough to build his family a mansion, the first one on the beachside penisula of Daytona Beach. This house would overlook the Halifax River and was built in 1884. This is an Italianate Victorian styled house with a tall middle column that for many years was the highest structure in Daytona Beach. That seems almost laughable now with all the nearby high-rise condos and hotels. The tower has a widow's walk that comes out from it like a small balcony. The interior featured high ceilings, wood crown moldings, carved wood mantle pieces and heart-of-pine floors. There are only a couple of pieces of furniture in the house original to the family, but period pieces were found that match a Victorian timeline and there are many interesting antiques inside. The house is painted to match its original look in yellow with green and red trim. The house also features some pocket windows. The most unique feature of the house is the staircase. The balusters are made to look like Ts for Thompson and the stairway branches off into two. We didn't get to visit the third floor when we came to do the historical tour, but for the ghost hunt we did and we spent most of our time there. There are two small rooms up there. There were several bedrooms on the second floor. The first floor had the parlor and dining room.

In 1896, The Halifax River Yacht Club was founded and Laurence was one of those founding members. As a matter of fact, he allowed the club to build a wharf off of his property. This club is the oldest on the East Coast that is still meeting in its original spot. Laurence also donated land for building one of the bridges to the mainland. Mary Eliza was very active in her husband's businesses and in social circles, besides raising three children. She and Laurence added Harrison to their family about eight years after moving to Florida. She was a charter member of the Palmetto Club and helped with their Children of Working Negro Women where she met Mary McLeod Bethune. Bethune was an educator and Civil Rights leader who was best known for starting a black school in Daytona Beach, Daytona Literary and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls, that is today Bethune-Cookman University. She also helped found the United Negro College Fund and counseled U.S. Presidents. Her relationship with Mary Eliza was special enough that Dr. Bethune spoke at her memorial.

But like many moms, legend claims that Mary Eliza could be a little meddling in the love lives of her children and when she found out her only daughter was in love with a commoner, she ran the man off. So Lilian never married and lived with her parents. Mary Eliza died in 1909 and Laurence died in 1920 from a stroke and Lilian inherited the mansion that is now named for her. She raised her nephew Harrison Thompson Jr. when his parents Lucy and Harry divorced. She stayed in the house until her death in 1934 and the house was sold to a relative named Alice Dalton to keep it in the family and Alice is the one who named it Lilian Place. She rented the house to the Wells family and eventually gave the house to Patricia Thompson Bennett who was the daughter of Laurence Jr. 

Pat moved into the house with her husband in 1949. There had been an apartment on the southeast side of the house and that is where she lived. Diane was listening to an interview with Pat and she very nonchalantly mentioned that the apartment was interesting because that is where the ghost Lucille lives. Nobody really knows where Lucille comes from or her history. Before our hunt, Sherry our guide said that there is a legend that Harry was supposed to marry Lucille, but he fell in love with a Lucy instead and so Lucille climbed up to the widow's walk and threw herself to her death. We'll talk more about that in a bit. Pat stayed in the house until 1984 when the house was sold to Greg and Susan McDole and they restored the house. A carriage house on the property was turned into four apartments. Michael and Suzanne Riccitiello acquired the property in 2002 and renovated it into a six-room bed and breakfast and furnished it with 1880s furnishings and embraced its Victorian heritage. Suzanne passed away in 2006 and Michael left, leaving the property abandoned. The Heritage Preservation trust was able to buy the house with a grant in 2009 and today it is a museum hosting tours and events. The events we especially like are the ghost hunts the last weekend of every month. And another we want to partake of are their dinner ghost hunts on the first weekend of the month.

An interesting connection to this house centers on the author of "The Red Badge of Courage," Stephen Crane. On New Year’s Eve of 1896, Crane was riding aboard a ship called The Commodore which was beginning its fifth attempt to take munitions to Cuban insurrectionists. He was going as a journalist to cover the insurrection against Spain. A Captain wrote of the ship, "The Commodore was a fine boat. She carried her load like a cork and breasted the waves like a duck." It was foggy when it was off of Jacksonville and it hit a sandbar. They managed to get off the sandbar, but the ship started taking on water. People boarded lifeboats and Crane got into an open boat that was only ten feet long, barely big enough for the four men in it. The men spent a day in the boat, barely holding on until they were to Daytona Beach and a young man named John Kitchell jumped into the cold water and brought each man to shore. He saved three of them, but a fourth had died. One of the men was the Captain of the ship and he was taken with another man to Surf Crest cottage and Crane was taken to Lilian Place to recoup. His girlfriend Cora spent time with him there and as a thank you, Crane sent an autographed copy of "The Red Badge of Courage" to the family. The book became lost through the years. Stephen Crane must have liked his time here because his spirit has been seen in the house. There are some who claim that Cora also joins him in spirit form. Crane died young at the age of 28 and he and Cora never had the chance to marry. She took on his last name though and is buried under a headstone as Cora Crane. Their time here must have been very special.

When we visited the house the first time, we didn't know much about any hauntings here. We were excited when our tour guide who was a seventy-year-old gentleman brought up spirit activity in the house. So when we decided to join the ghost hunt here, we knew there was a little bit of activity, but we had no clue about just how many spirits are thought to be in this location. And the activity for us didn't stop. We bought a new piece of equipment and it worked like a charm! (Explain the Ghost Stop SBox) And we also brought a Poor Man's Boo Bear with us. It worked great too and we have a video up on YouTube that shows that.

So let's talk about experiences in this house before we share our results. We mentioned Lucille earlier. Visitors have reported seeing an apparition of a woman walking into rooms or down hallways and then disappearing. And this spirit has been seen looking out of the second floor windows. And these sightings have been going on for over a hundred years. They got the name Lucille because this entity gave it. One night some visitors were staying on the second floor when they were awakened by a presence. This was a woman in a period dress with a high collar and she was pouring a glass of water from a pitcher. She turned to them and said, "Don't be afraid. My name is Lucille. I am not going to harm you." She set down the glass and left the room. She looked very real so the guests asked why this woman had been sent to their room and no one knew who they were talking about. The description didn't fit anybody in the house. 

When Pat lived in the house, she had placed her infant daughter in a crib on the second floor and when she went to check on the baby, she found her on the floor, swaddled neatly in blankets and peacefully asleep. All three of Pat's daughters reported paranormal experiences throughout all the years they lived there, although they never saw the ghost. The vacuum cleaner would turn itself on, windows would lock on their own and door knobs would rattle. Sometimes the water faucets would turn on on their own and footsteps were heard on the staircases. Mike Riccitiello, who started the B&B, shared some of his stories with Nancy Zrinyi Long in her 2012 book "The Ghosts of Lilian Place." He said, "My wife and I moved into Lilian Place in 2002. We had heard some rumors of the house being haunted, but we had no encounters or strange occurrences during the long year we spent renovating the old house into a period bed & breakfast. Occasionally we might find a light turned on, or did we leave it on? Sometimes water would be running in the second floor bathroom, but we assumed it was human forgetfulness. One strange occurrence was on Christmas Day shortly after we moved in and had decorated the site. We had a nine-foot Christmas tree set up in the Parlor, fully decorated with old ornaments and lights. When the family came downstairs Christmas morning, the huge tree was lying on the floor between the table and couch as if someone had slowly lowered it to the ground. Not a bulb or ornament was broken, and no one had heard any noise during the night, but there lay the tree on its side!"

Also during that tenure, they hosted weddings and one bride told them she saw a woman in a white dress that looked to be from the 1800s looking out at her from a window during the ceremony. She asked who the woman was and why she hadn't been seated down on the lawn with the rest of the guests. Mike then explained to her that the house had been locked up during the ceremony and that no one was inside. Another guest reported awakening at 7am and seeing a man in a old period jacket and ruffled shirt, standing at the foot of the bed. This man turned, opened the door and walked out. When the guest and his wife went down to breakfast, they commented about the employee waking them up that morning. Mike looked at them funny and then said they didn't do that kind of thing and had no employees dressed like that. And the couple were the only people on the second floor. Later the couple was looking at a book about the history of the house and saw a picture of Stephen Crane in there. They told Mike that was the man in their room that morning. 

This was a large group for the ghost hunt, probably about twenty of us, so we were at first worried that this wouldn't be such a good investigation and since it was Bailey's first time, we wanted it to be good. This group turned out to be very respectful and pretty darn quiet. We only had two hours, so we knew we wouldn't get to the whole house, but we certainly weren't expecting to basically just stay on the third floor, but that place was hopping for us! Sherry introduced herself and our ghost hunt leader Mr. Ed and told us a bit about the house. (Sherry Intro) Mr. Ed shared a story with us and a picture and if it was real, it was amazing. It really looked like the spirit of a little girl next to this door he talks about. (Mr Ed Story) During the introductions, we could hear that a REM Pod was going crazy above us, so we headed up the stairs first. We went into a bedroom that had a REM Pod in it, but this probably wasn't the right one because we seemed to get no interaction in here. Based on our later experiences, we're pretty sure the REM Pod that was going off was the one on the third floor. It is up there that people claim to interact with children and that was certainly our experience.

The staircase leading to the third floor is very narrow and opens into a room with a low ceiling. There are only two rooms up here. The further room looks over the river through two arched windows that Sherry told us people had captured pictures of spirits in. That room had the REM Pod and a laser grid. We started in the first room and popped a squat to conduct our first Estes Session with our new SBox and what we are going to do is intersperse the Sbox recording with this and see what you guys hear. Is it the same as Diane? And here at the beginning you'll hear Diane say "speak" a couple times. That literally came up dozens of times. Made us wonder if there was a bunch of spirits here and one of them was running the show to keep it orderly. (Estes Lilian 1) Wait, what was that?! (Homosexual) Diane was talking fairly loudly and got a bit of attention with that. So was this referring to us or something else? Here is the rest of that session.(Estes Lilian 1 Part 2) There was about 30 seconds of the SBox still going without Diane listening and we got this (Estes Walk with Me) Is it walk with me or fuck with me? And then almost sounded like a woman saying swimming. Kelly used her dowsing rods to ask a few questions during this too.

Bailey tried her hand at the Estes Method and right at the beginning I'm throwing in the first word that came through, but it wasn't heard by Bailey yet. We think it was "sacred" (Estes Lilian 2) So at the beginning Bailey had said "dead" but we think it said Ed and we were wondering if this was referring to our ghost host. And the "record yourself" sounded more like core truth? Not sure what that was referring to. The scary actually sounded like it might be a woman saying Mary. Was this Mary Eliza? (Mary SBox) Towards the end you hear us interacting with a cat ball, which did light up on command in Diane's hand. This was Bailey's first time doing this so there were some things that came through that she might not have heard. Is this Thompson, the family name? (Thompson SBox) This came through when we were asking about going to beach and swimming. (Didn't want SBox) Is this saying they didn't want to swim? And listen to this clear sentence from a female (Well maybe I'm weak SBox) And See us (See us SBox)

We decided to go into the other room since the REM Pod kept going off and we took the Boo Bear. We did our third and last Estes Session in here. A little warning, about 3.5 minutes in the REM Pod goes off and it is high pitched. (Estes Lilian 3) At the end Bailey asks who this is, but I'm already in the process of taking off the headphones so I didn't hear that we might have gotten the name Howie. That singing part was so cool!

Then Kelly got out the dowsing rods. Another warning, there is REM Pod activity at the beginning so watch your ears. (Lilian Dowsing) It seems we were communicating with a 12-year-old boy, although the REM Pod went off when we asked if we had a girl too. And Kelly definitely felt like there was more than one spirit using the rods and we got two different positions in the room pointed out. We have the video of the EMF going off with the bear on our YouTube channel and it's up on the Facebook Crew and Instagram.

Then we moved onto the nursery and set the bear on the floor. There was a small crib with a baby doll in it and a smaller REM pod. (Lilian Nursery) So the REM Pod was going off quite a bit and on command. And the ball lit up on command too. And yes, we did leave the bear.

This was such a fun investigation and for a place not really known for its activity, it was very active for us. Probably one of the best investigations we have been on. This is a wonderful Victorian mansion with so much history and love connected to it. Is Lilian Place haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, March 2, 2023

HGB Ep. 476 - Haunted Smoky Mountains

Moment in Oddity - Sea-Cat Passports (Suggested by Darren Girard Koch)

In the summer of 2021, an old black and white photo started making the rounds on social media. The picture featured an old black and white photo of a cat on what appears to be a passport. The name of the passport holder is listed as "Herman the Cat" and his occupation is recorded as "Expert Mouser". The social media postings generally state that around the turn of the 20th Century, "sea-cats" needed their own passports. These days many people take their fur-kids abroad and are required to have proper documentation and health clearances to do so. What likely gave this story legs, or four paws, was an old article run in the New York Times on January 15th, 1943. It featured Herman's quote/unquote "passport" even including his stamped pawprint and it read, "With port precautions being what they are, even the cat must have his identification card". Although there has been no evidence found that sea-cat passports were actually a thing, the fun idea of such a necessity for that time, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - Birth of George Pullman

In the month of March, on the 3rd, in 1831, George M. Pullman was born. George Mortimer Pullman was an American Industrialist born in Brocton, New York in 1831. In 1845, Pullman's family moved to Albion, New York for his father's work on the Erie Canal. George loved to watch the packet boats travel the canal when he was young as they carried mail and passengers. In 1864, he developed his first railroad sleeper or "palace" car after the design of the packet boats. When President Lincoln was assassinated, Pullman arranged to have his body transported from Washington, D.C. to Springfield, Illinois using one of his Pullman sleeper cars. This brought George national attention due to the hundreds of thousands of people who lined the train's route to pay their respect to the deceased President. Shortly thereafter, orders for his sleeper car began pouring in. Eventually Pullman introduced a sleeper car with an attached kitchen and dining area and the company hired African-American freedmen as Pullman porters who became very well known and widely respected for their elite service. As his company grew and production increased George decided to purchase 4,000 acres south of Chicago to establish Illinois' first company town. The aptly named town of Pullman, Illinois is today a historic town which hosts a walking tour with stops at key sites to learn about this model industrial community and its stories from a bygone era.

Haunted Smoky Mountains (Suggested by: Jennifer Billingham)

The Smoky Mountains carry a certain mystique about them and since they are a part of the Appalachian Mountains, the Appalachian culture has enhanced them with a rich folklore. But it wasn't just the Europeans who felt the peculiar ethos of the region. Native American tribes have long shared stories of the supernatural and incorporated pieces of their mythology into this land. This is a gorgeous area that many people enjoy for its natural beauty, but few probably know about the spiritual side of this ground. Join us as we share the history, legends and spirits of the Smoky Mountains!

The Smoky Mountains are also known as the Great Smoky Mountains and/or the Smokies and are a part of the Appalachian Mountains that rise along the Tennessee and North Carolina border. If you have seen them in person, you know why they carry that moniker. Early morning clouds and mist really do make it look like the mountains are covered in a blanket of smoke. It's something everyone should have on their bucket list. This is home to 187,000 acres of old growth forest and much of this has been protected since 1934 by the National Park Service as part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This National Park is THE most visited park in America with over 11 million visitors every year. The park is also an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The forest here is home to a large black bear and salamander population.

The Smokies have a human history that stretches back to prehistoric Paleo Indians. This was Cherokee territory until the French and Indian War when settlers came to the mountains. The Americans launched an invasion of Cherokee territory during the American Revolution because the tribe had aligned with the British. American forces burned many villages. By 1805, the Cherokee had ceded the Smokies to the U.S. government, however; some did manage to stay on the Eastern band. They eventually bought back land from the government. What had happened here is that the Cherokee were removed under the Indian Removal Act and sent West on the Trail of Tears, but one Cherokee in the Smokies named Tsali fought the removal and he gathered a small group with him. Eventually Tsali was captured and executed and the group he had with him was offered the opportunity to live if they would renounce their Cherokee tribal citizenship and become US citizens. They did and that is why the Eastern Band is still here. Forts were built and then many settlers eventually immigrated to the area and became the Mountain People, some of whom were loggers, others were moonshiners and there were farmers who would grow sorghum and corn.

Once the government started buying up land in the Smokies, it was just a matter of time before the Mountain People would be run off. Logging would come to a stop as well. The animals would now be free to roam safely. One of the unfortunate casualties of humans in the area was that the cougars who had once called this home, were all hunted out by the settlers. If you hear a story of a cougar sighting in the Smokies it is just that, a story. Any modern day claims have been proven to be hoaxes. The highest peak is Clingmans Dome and there is an observation tower atop it at 6,643 feet. The Civilian Conservation Corps built most of the trails, infrastructure and fire towers. The cities that surround the park are Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Each of these cities has hauntings and so could be considered part of the haunted Smokies. We knew we wanted to include the legends directly connected to the park, but what about places in these cities? We decided to include a couple of those.

Jennifer - who suggested this location - loves the area and has visited many times from the time she was a child. She wrote, "There is so much energy in these areas! But there was one site a couple of years ago we unexpectedly visited that was up a steep hill that we abruptly came upon, and the energy just intuitively forced me to stop and tell my son and husband 'no' and not to go in further. It didn’t feel right and we felt watched after that as we walked through the woods more. Maybe our minds were getting a little too into themselves, but there was definitely an energy shift after that!" So, needless to say, we were intrigued as to what we would find. 

Devil's Courthouse

With locations like the Devil's Courthouse, it's no wonder that many people feel a certain mystical air about the place. The Devil's Courthouse is located at Whiteside Mountain in North Carolina and early settlers gave this craggy rockface of soapstone that name because it looked like the Devil himself. Legends went on to claim that he actually held court in a cave beneath the cliff. Beliefs about this cave go further back to the Cherokee who claimed this was the home of Tsul 'Kalu - or Jutaculla as Europeans came to spell it - who was a slant-eyed giant with a voice like thunder who carried arrows made from lightning. He danced in the cave and carried out judgements there. In Cherokee mythology, he was in charge of the hunt, so he would be invoked in hunting rites and rituals.


The Cherokee have another piece of creepy folklore. The Cherokee have a female monster they call U'tlun'ta, which means "the one with pointed spear." The more common name for this creature is Spearfinger and that is because she has a sharp finger on her right hand that seems to be made from obsidian. She uses it to cut her victims. Spearfinger had stone-like skin and blood stained her mouth because she ate the liver of her victims. Spearfinger sounded like thunder when she walked because she crushed rocks beneath her feet and her voice echoed through the Smokies. Spearfinger could shapeshift into family members of her child victims. Her favorite spot was to walk the trail that joined Chilhowee Mountain and the Little Tennessee River. The Cherokee believed that she lived on Whiteside, which was a thunder mountain. Said to roam Noland Creek Trail and Whiteside Mountain, Spearfinger may be one of the creepiest Cherokee folklore traditions.You might want to stay clear of these haunted places in the Smoky Mountains as Spearfinger is one frightening spirit to encounter. This mythology represents the belief that the Cherokee had that shapeshifters stalked the mountains. 

Wampus Cat

And where there is a National Park, there just has to be a cryptid or two, right? The Wampus Cat is a mythological creature in the legends of the Cherokee. There was a Cherokee woman who was curious about the secret and sacred ceremonies of the elders. It was forbidden for her to watch, but one night she snuck into a spot where she could watch such a ceremony and she was caught. Her punishment was a curse that turned her into a half bear, half cat. She was left to roam throughout the years, searching for livestock and whining into the night. People claim to hear that whining around their campsites. And many people have seen the golden glow of the Wampus Cat's eyes. They have described the animal as looking like a mountain lion, but with six legs instead of 4. Others describe a more amphibious creature.

The Enchanted Lake

The Cherokee called the Smokies the “Land of Blue Smoke.” One of their favorite places here was Atagahi, an enchanted lake that humans cannot see. This is a sacred place meant for the creatures of the forest. They like to swim in it because the waters heal their wounds and sickness. A young Cherokee man really wanted to see the lake, so he spent days fasting and praying. The spiritual devotion paid off and when he went out into the forest, the lake emerged and he saw its stunning violet color. Then he saw groups of animals and waterfowl coming to the lake and it was the most beautiful thing he ever saw. He set up a pile of rocks to mark the spot. The winter came and was brutal and the Cherokee began to starve. The young man knew that the Enchanted Lake would make a good place to hunt, so he set off to find his marker. When he got there, he saw a bear and he shot an arrow into the animal's heart. The bear fell into the lake and was immediately healed. It climbed up on the shore and angrily yelled that the young man had betrayed the animals. Several other bears came out of the forest and they all descended on the hunter, killing him. The Cherokee eventually found the young man's body in the snow, but the lake was nowhere to be seen. It is said that sometimes people who are standing on top of Clingmans Dome can see a morning mist rising from the magic lake.

Cades Cove

Cades Cove is a broad and lush valley that is surrounded by mountains with lots of wildlife. For hundreds of years the Cherokee hunted this valley. Europeans settled here in the early 1800s and they built three churches, log houses, barns and a gristmill. They lived here for 100 years before the National Park was established. One interesting part of the community were their weaner cabins, which were small cabins built for a son to take his new bride to live that was far enough away from his family for privacy, but they still could get help if needed. Most families willingly sold their land to the government for the formation of the park, but some had to go to court several times before finally losing their land or signing a life-lease. By the end of the 1940s, no one was left in the community.

Mavis and Basil Estep lived in a two-room cabin in Cades Cove. Mavis had been born during a thunderstorm and so she always had an extreme fear of lightning and she was afraid she would be struck by lightning. Thus, she never allowed her husband Basil to buy them a metal bed. Mavis eventually died some time later from a persistent illness, but before she passed she made Basil promise that he wouldn't sell her beloved handmade quilts and that he wouldn't put any of them on a metal bed. Basil promised he wouldn't, but things changed after he remarried a much younger woman. Her name was Trulie and she was too big for Mavis' wooden bed, so Basil bought them a metal bed. Trulie got cold one winter night and asked Basil if they could put one of Mavis' quilts on the bed and Basil said "yes." This particular quilt was nicknamed the Cussing Cover because Mavis had made it using one of Basil's red flannel shirts that he had worn during their first fight. A thunderstorm rumbled that night and sure enough, a flash of light burst down through the house and knocked Trulie out of bed. She could smell ozone and charring and when she rolled over, she saw that Basil had been charred to a crisp and yet, the quilt had no marks upon it. Legend claims the quilt was sold to a collector.

People claim that Cades Cove is haunted. There have been tragedies and there have been murders. The gravestone of Gregory Russel reads "Killed by North Carolina Rebels." Pictures have captured orbs in the cemeteries and cabins, but the creepiest photo captured a woman's face coming out of the wall of the Primitive Baptist Church. She has sometimes been seen as a full-bodied apparition and sometimes just a face. And although the buildings are abandoned, people claim to feel as though they are being watched by something they can't see.

Roaring Fork Motor Trail

The Roaring Fork Trail has a hitchhiking ghost named Lucy. The story claims that Lucy died in a cabin fire in the early 1900s. A short time later, a man named Foster was riding his horse through the forest when he spotted Lucy. She was beautiful and appeared to need help. It was winter and cold and she was barefoot. He offered her a ride on his horse and gave her his coat. He got her nearly to her cabin when she jumped off the horse and said her father wouldn't understand. Foster ran into Lucy several times and fell in love with her and so he asked Lucy about talking to her father. She would always refuse and run off.  He was persistent and so he asked some of the neighbors what they knew about Lucy and where her home was and they told him that a Lucy had died in a fire many years before and that her family had left the area. Now travelers in the area along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail claim to see Lucy still looking for a ride. Now apparently this cabin didn't burn to the ground and was repaired and rented out as the Cabin on Roaring Fork. One family that had stayed there were pretty messy and they had left stuff all over the kitchen and table before going to bed. When they awoke in the morning, they found the table set and everything cleaned up.

Garden Plaza Hotel (Formerly Holiday Inn)

The main road through Gatlinburg is US-441 and along this route was the Garden Plaza Hotel, which used to be the Holiday Inn. Back in the 1980s, this hotel was the scene of a horrible crime. In July of 1980, two teenage girls from Crestwood, Kentucky decided to take a trip to Gatlinburg. They got separate rooms, 401 and 413 on the fourth floor of the Holiday Inn. The girls went out to dinner at a local steakhouse and lounge called The Rafters where they met a local drifter. They were seen leaving with the man and the next day, the girls were found murdered at the hotel. One was found in a stairwell that lead to the roof and the other was found in her room lying on the floor next to the bed. The drifter was found and arrested. At least that is according to one story. Other stories claim that one girl was drowned in a bathtub and the other was dragged to the roof and strangled. Whatever the case, these two girls did indeed end up murdered and now people claim that the hotel is haunted. Room 413 is the main location for much of the paranormal activity. People claimed to hear odd noises in the room like bangs, screams and even shrieks. There is also the sound of unseen people running in the hallway. And there is also running on the stairs. Activity was so bad that the Garden Plaza Hotel stopped renting out Room 413. Another spirit at the hotel was said to belong to Alvin who had been a longtime employee. He liked to hang out in the kitchen. His activity was of the poltergeist kind and usually entailed utensils flying through the air. But that all changed with the demolition of the hotel. A Hampton Inn was built in its place and we aren't sure if any of the spirits are still there.

The Greenbriar Restaurant

The Greenbriar Restaurant is probably the most haunted location in Gatlinburg and is found off the beaten path at 370 Newman Road off of Highway 381. When one enters, the first room you see is an entry into what had been an old hunting lodge established in the 1930s. A woman named Blanche Moffet had built the cabin lodge and named it The Greenbrier Lodge.  Her main customers were hunters and other travelers looking to get away from the city. She also ran part of the lodge as a boarding house for men working in the area. Blanche had a room upstairs and she also had women traveling alone stay up there while single men bunked downstairs. This lodge ran similar to a bed and breakfast as Blanche made breakfast for guests in the morning. The first in-ground pool in Gatlinburg would be installed by Blanche at the lodge.

Actors and actresses who attended the University of Tennessee in nearby Knoxville stayed at the lodge starting in the mid-50s all the way up until the mid-70s as they performed in plays at the Hunter Hills Theater in Gatlinburg.  This amphitheater was one of the first in the Southeast and provided entertainment during the summer months. After nearly fifty years in business, Blanche was getting tired and in 1980 she decided to sell. Dean and Barbara Hadden became the new owners and their six children helped turn the former hunting lodge into a restaurant. The Haddens decided to lease the property out in 1991 shortly before Dean passed away. The people who leased it didn't do well and shut the restaurant down fairly soon after opening. Barbara decided to reopen the Greenbriar in 1993 and today her son David, his wife Becky and their son Jordan run the establishment. Everything we read about this place gives it great reviews for atmosphere and food. It is an upper-end restaurant, but well worth it. 

And there's even more for us to love because the restaurant is reputedly haunted, a claim made by employees and patrons alike. Employees claimed to have seen the ghost of a lady by the name of Lydia. The story is pretty typical. She was spurned at the altar. One can only imagine the heartache and anger that she suffered. Lydia had stayed at the Greenbriar Lodge the night before her wedding and it was there that she had slipped into her wedding gown before the ceremony, so she returned there after being abandoned. She went to the second floor landing, tossed a rope up over the rafters and hanged herself. The legend claims that she was buried in a nearby unmarked grave. The groom apparently got what was coming to him when a mountain lion killed him in the mountains when he went hunting.

Sightings of Lydia began shortly after her death with her awakening a caretaker at the lodge with her mournful cries. She kept repeating, "Mark my grave, mark my grave." The caretaker had to endure several nights of this before he decided to go out and place a marker on the grave. After that was done, he never saw Lydia again. But the same cannot be said for the employees and patrons of the restaurant. Owner Becky Hadden said, "Today, the ghost of Lydia still roams the old Greenbrier Lodge, now our Greenbrier Restaurant. Her spirit is often seen on the stairs of the second floor landing. Guests who eat here claim to see her small, sad figure wandering around from time-to-time." Murfreesboro Post journalist Dan Whittle wrote an article in 2014 about visiting the restaurant. Dan wrote, "Jason, our table server, confessed he's never seen 'Lydia,' but that fellow Greenbrier work associates 'have witnessed food items being knocked off food shelves in the restaurant pantry. And some diners have seen Lydia, in the form of a petite young girl, on the stairs in this old building.'" 

Lydia may not be the only ghost here. The lodge's pool was eventually filled in with concrete, but not before a little boy drowned in it. Apparently, the spirit of this little boy likes to hang out at the restaurant. Customers have felt his presence near the bar, especially under it and he likes to play on the staircase. The employees have placed some jacks under the stairs to give the boy something to play with. A medium has also told the Greenbriar that there is an older man who sits in the back corner of the restaurant who gets quite grumpy when it is loud in the establishment.

Wheatlands Plantation

Sevierville is located in the foothills of the Smokie Mountains in Tennessee. The Wheatlands Plantation is here near a trail that had once been the Great Indian Warpath. The man who founded Sevierville, John Sevier had followed this path in 1780 to engage in a battle with the Cherokee whom were defeated at the Battle of Boyd's Creek. The battlefield is where the Wheatlands Plantation was built. This was originally known as Boyd's Creek Farm and was established by Timothy Chandler. When he died in 1819, his son John inherited the property. The original farmhouse burned to the ground in 1823 and John built the two-story Federal-style plantation house that still exists today. The Queen Anne style porch and windows were added in 1889. He named it Wheatlands and it became one of the largest farms in Sevier County covering 4,600 acres. The farm raised livestock and grew buckwheat, sweet potatoes, hay, oats and corn. The work was done by fourteen enslaved people. John also started a distillery where they manufactured 6,000 gallons of whiskey.

During the Civil War, the Union took over the plantation and used it as a Winter Quarters for the Tenth Regiment Cavalry out of Michigan and the 8th division from Western Pennsylvania. The location allowed them to run raids into Sevierville, Gatlinburg and Newport. After the war, Chandler began paying the former slaves who were now emancipated and decided to stay on at Wheatlands. Chandler not only paid them, but upon his death in 1875, he left them a section of land on the south side of the property that became known as The Chandler Gap and a strong black community grew up in this area long into the 20th century. The Chandler family held onto the plantation for eleven generations, finally selling it in 2011 to Richard Parker and John Burns who restored the house and opened it to the public for tours. Although based on what we could find, it has been closed for several years now and may even be owned privately. 

There are many original structures here including the house, a smokehouse, the summer kitchen with dining hall, and loom house. Unfortunately, the distillery burned in the late 1930s. Much of the interior is original as well with hand-planed railings and windows. The mantel have hand-carved details and entablatures, which are the flat parts of the mantlepiece. Many houses of the time had the standard parlor hall layout, but this one had a central floor plan. The smokehouse was built in the early 19th century, and was made from hewn logs with a board and batten door.

There are so many reasons for this house to be haunted. First, we had that initial Revolutionary War battle and the bodies of 27 Native Americans killed during that battle were put into a burial mound on the property and there are two graves for Revolutionary War soldiers. We have also heard that there may have been up to 50 to 69 slaves buried on the property. This was a Civil War headquarters. And John was a Freemason who purposefully built the house on top of a giant geode. There are also claims that the house has seen 70 deaths, some from murder. One of these murders was of a father by his son who used an iron poker to do the deed. Apparently, the father was jealous that his mother had skipped over him and left the estate to his son upon her death. There is a bloodstain that remains on the living room floor and no amount of cleaning has ever been able to get rid of it. Two women died on the staircase, one from falling and another had a heart attack. Fifteen people died of natural causes in the master bedroom.

People who took tours claimed to hear strange sounds like the yells of a man, thudding noises and a sickening gurgling noise. Almost as though a murder is playing out in a residual manner. Several members of the Chandler family that died in the house are thought to still roam the house in the afterlife. People have even seen apparitions in the gardens. Children who had been enslaved are seen still playing on the property and even play hide and seek with visitors. The spirit of a young girl in a blue dress is seen in the house, many times on the stairs.  Other disembodied voices are heard and there are shadow figures.

The Destination America show Ghost Stalkers visited the plantation in 2014. This was hosted by Chad Lindberg and John E.L. Tenney. Chad was doing an EVP session in the cellar and he captured a voice saying, "Hi." John thought he saw a figure in the master bedroom. The Gamma Radar recorded a lot of energy in there. And then it went completely dead. Chad got tapped on his shoulder and felt really cold in the master bedroom. John was in the parlor where the murder happened and he got a scratch on his abdomen that was noticeable. This may have been in the same place where the father had been stabbed.

The Smoky Mountains are an incredibly beautiful part of America. We've driven through them, but never had the chance to actually hang out for a while and clearly, based on all these legends and haunting experiences, this is a place ghost hunters need to check out. Are the Smoky Mountains and all these locations haunted? That is for you to decide!