Monday, November 10, 2014

HGB Podcast 9 - Haunted Marietta, Georgia

Moment in Oddity - The Greenbriar Ghost

The case of the Greenbriar Ghost is not only unique in the supernatural world, but it is a one of a kind tale in the annals of the American Justice System.  Imagine if you were able to testify against your murderer after you were dead.  In 1873, Elva Zona Heaster was born in Greenbriar County, West Virginia.  In 1896, she met and fell in love with a drifter who was passing through Greenbriar named Erasmus and they married soon after.  A young boy running an errand for Erasmus to the home that Zona and Erasmus shared, found Zona dead at the bottom of the stairs.  The local doctor gave the body of Zona a cursory examination after Erasmus had already moved the body to the bedroom and dressed Zona in her finest dress.  The doctor made the exam brief, as Erasmus seemed very overcome by grief and the doctor decided that Zona had fainted and fallen down the stairs.  During the wake and before burial, Erasmus was very watchful of the body, concealing Zona's neck and keeping people away from the body.  After the burial, Zona's mother attempted to return the sheet that had been in the coffin back to Erasmus, but he refused to take the sheet.  Zona's mother decided to keep it and she washed it because it seemed to have a strange odor.  The minute the material hit the water, the water turned red and then the sheet turned pink.  Try as she might, Zona's mother could not remove the stain and she took it as a sign that her suspicions about Erasmus were true: her daughter had been murdered!  For four nights after this, the ghost of Zona appeared to her mother.  The ghost would explain that Erasmus had been cruel and beaten her many times.  On this final beating, the ghost claimed that Erasmus had broken her neck and she turned her head almost completely around to show her mother.  Zona's mother went to the Prosecutor and Zona's body was exhumed after the doctor admitted he had not done a thorough examination.  It was proven that Zona's neck was broken and even more incriminating, her windpipe had been crushed.  Erasmus went to trial and his defense tried to make Zona's mother appear crazy by asking her about the ghostly visits, something the prosecution had avoided.  Zona's mother was unwavering and the people of the town believed her, so the plan of the defense backfired.  Erasmus was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison, where he died three years later.  Zona's ghost was never seen again and a plaque on Route 60 commemorates her witness with these words: "Interred in nearby cemetery is Zona Heaster Shue. Her death in 1897 was presumed natural until her spirit appeared to her mother to describe how she was killed by her husband Edward. Autopsy on the exhumed body verified the apparition’s account. Edward, found guilty of murder, was sentenced to the state prison. Only known case in which testimony from ghost helped convict a murderer."  A ghost serving as her own witness to the crime is not only unique, but quite odd.

This Day in History - Sherman's March to the Sea

On this day, November 10th, in 1864, General William Sherman began his March to the Sea from Atlanta, Georgia.  There are many references to other dates in November being the official start of the March, but Sherman himself claimed the date of November 10th being the start in his memoirs.  Atlanta had been captured by Sherman and the Union Army and they decided to press across Georgia all the way to Savannah and they reached that goal on December 21st having gone 300 miles from start to finish.  Sherman burned the path as his troops went and unfortunately many historical buildings were destroyed during this time.  Sherman's strategy had not been used before and was brave because it occurred deep behind enemy lines and Sherman had no direct supply lines coming to himself.  The plan was revolutionary and unique in the annals of war and solidified Sherman's place in history!

Haunted Marietta, Georgia - Marietta Square, Kennesaw House & Haunted Restaurants

The city of Marietta in Georgia is a beautiful, quaint town rich in history that was established in 1834.  The city was founded by Thomas Cobb and named after his wife Mary.  Many of the original buildings still stand in Marietta despite the fires started by General Sherman because he spared the churches and buildings used as hospitals or Union headquarters.  Like the city of Savannah, Georgia, which inspired the building of Marietta Square, Marietta is a haunted city due to the fact that the center of the old downtown area is built above a graveyard.  As is the case for so many cities during the Civil War, Marietta was the site of many deaths and the heart of the city, Marietta Square, was one area of the city where the bodies were brought until they could be buried.  The shops and restaurants that line the downtown area have many reports of hauntings by various people and for various reasons.  We decided to take a ghost tour hosted by Ghosts of Marietta and we had a wonderful time and highly recommend this tour!  Our tour guide Charlotte was very knowledgeable and a wonderful story teller.  We heard stories of murders, accidental deaths and hangings and we want to share some of these with you.

We traveled along the railroad tracks and as if on cue, the train came roaring by bringing with it the haunting echo of a train whistle.  Down from the tracks stood a modest home once owned by the Root family, which is the Root Museum today.  The home is in the style of Greek Revival and was built in 1845.  William Root was a merchant and Marietta's first druggist.  The family's young son died in an upstairs room.  He continues to stay in the home leaving an indentation on the bed.

We heard about the ghost who is a shadowy man with a tall hat that likes to hang out near the tracks.  As we made our way towards the end of the path we stopped outside of a restaurant called Thaicoon, which serves Thai food, but it had once been a cotton mill and apparently the owner is still believed to be hanging out at the place.  Turpentine was stored in the mill and caused a fire that killed the owner.  He is heard pacing to and fro as he seems to worry about the running of his business.  The original cotton weigh scale is still inside the restaurant.  The unique thing they do at this restaurant is that they leave a plate of food and a drink on a tray right outside the door.

At the end of the path, we arrived at Kennesaw House.  This building was formerly called the Fletcher House for the family that once owned the building and ran the inn that was there.  The building was originally four stories tall, but a fire that started in the corner of the building on the fourth story burned the entire floor and the building is now only three stories.  Mr. and Mrs. Fletcher bought the building from Marietta's Mayor John Glover in 1855 and turned it into a hotel.  The house originally was a cotton warehouse that had been built in the 1840s and then a restaurant for some time.  The Fletcher House was popular and became infamous for something that occurred during the Civil War.  James Andrews was a Union spy and he recruited a group of men to help him with a plot against the railroad.  The Fletcher House was the perfect location since it stood right next to the tracks.  The plot became known as the Great Locomotive Chase and took place in 1862.  Andrews and around twenty other men dressed in plain clothes and boarded a train called "The General" as it stopped in Marietta.  The General pulled into the town of Big Shanty and the Chase was underway!  The men jumped into action, detaching all the rail cars from the engine and they threw the throttle forward.  As the Confederates gave chase, Andrews and his men cut telegraph wires and used crowbars to tear up the track.  They used some of the rails to wind around poles forming them into a bowtie shape and calling them Sherman Bows.  The Confederates finally managed to catch Andrews and most of his raiders and they were hung in Marietta.  Other raiders received the first Medals of Honor from President Lincoln.  The Fletcher House then became a hospital and morgue and later Sherman's headquarters after the Union captured Marietta.  Today, the building houses the Marietta Museum of History.

Hauntings at Kennesaw House include people seeing full body apparitions of Mrs. Fletcher and Dr. Wilder, one of the doctors who had served at the hospital.  We were shown pictures from security cameras that appeared to have full bodied apparitions of both the doctor and Mrs. Fletcher.  The current owner of the building hears footsteps on the third floor even though no one is on that floor.  Cigar smoke has also been smelled in different areas of the building.  Residual scenes of doctors and patients have been witnessed as well.  Charlotte enthusiastically explained the process of amputation in those days.

We walked around to a parking lot that was lined on one side with a stone wall that appeared to us to be some kind of wall for protection.  Recessed into the wall were four archways that no one has been able to figure out the purpose of, but the theory that many believe is best is that these are tunnels that lead to Marietta Square and could have been either supply lines, routes for escape or catacombs for storing bodies.  The city will not excavate the tunnels out of respect, so we may never know what lies in those tunnels, but they run under the city for several blocks.

Some of the locations that are above these tunnels are restaurants and shops.  We ate at one of the restaurants named "Hemingways" that apparently was a morgue at one time and many employees have complained of the spectral scent of formaldehyde.  Diane had gone down to the basement to use the bathroom and although the walls leading down the stairs were creepy because they appeared to be the original stone, Diane didn't feel anything weird.   Down from Hemingways is The Vineyard Cafe, which plays host to a ghost nicknamed The Colonel.  He hangs out at the back of the building.

An Irish bar and grill named Johnnie MacCrackens after a group of firemen killed in the Cardage Factory Fire in Glasgow, Ireland used to be the original fire department for Cobb County and then it became a bank.  Two working vaults from the bank are still located in the building near the bar. It is believed that the banker, Sessions, is still hanging out at the bar and he has been known to move money from the upstairs area into the vaults.

Earlier we had mentioned that Andrews and his Union spies were hung in Marietta.  The area where many of the hangings took place in Marietta is now just a narrow alleyway that we walked down called Hangmans Alley.  People claim that this alley is colder than the ambient temperature, but on the night of our tour it was so chilly we don't think that even ghosts could have made the area colder.

We made a pass of a shop called "Eddie's Trick Shop" and it was pretty creepy to peer through the windows at night.  Plastic skeletons peer down from the ceiling and costumes line the walls along with trick gags and such.  Hauntings of this shop usually occur around the costumes and involve people seeing feet move about.  There is a trap door near the fourth display case that leads down into the infamous tunnels, but the tunnels are blocked just like the archways we mentioned earlier.

The Strand Theater sits at the corner of Marietta Square and is hard to miss with its flashing display screen and lights of the marquee.  The Theater was built in 1935 and is Art Deco in design.  The Strand was the most modern theater outside of Atlanta and it featured air conditioning, heating, an acoustic sound system and seating for 1,000.  Our guide Charlotte informed us that the actress Joanne Woodward had grown up in Marietta and that her visits to the Strand Theater inspired her to become an actress.  Woodward donated money to renovate the classic theater that now plays host to theatrical productions and movies.  As is the case with most theaters, the Strand is haunted.

The movie "Gone with the Wind" has its own museum in Marietta complete with original dresses from the production.  The ghost that resides in the museum is a poltergeist of sorts and enjoys locking and unlocking doors and moving books around in display cases or even taking the books out of the cases.

One of the stops with the most interesting and scandalous stories was the Museum of Art, a restored Classical Revival building.  This building once housed the Marietta Post Office run by a postmaster, DeWitt Cole, doing more than overseeing the delivery of mail.  He had a mistress named Katherine.   She disappeared one day, but it probably was not by her choice because she reportedly haunts the building.  She is a poltergeist who likes to play with the elevator and move things about.  An upstairs room is also a favorite spot for her and the staff leaves a light on for her.  Charlotte told us a chilling tale about an experience some people had at the museum one night.

This was a wonderful tour and the city of Marietta is a must see in Georgia.  Is this historic city haunted?   That is for you to decide.

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