Sunday, November 29, 2015

HGB Podcast, Ep. 86 - Pentridge Prison

Moment in Oddity - Sheep Farts Down Plane

Pilots flying a plane from Australia to Malaysia that was full of 2,186 sheep got quite the start when their fire warning went off. The smoke warning indicated that the cargo hold was full of smoke. They made an emergency landing that kept the plane on the ground for 2.5 hours while the fire warning was investigated. No fire was found anywhere. As a matter of fact, there was no indication of any burning or any smoke at all. But there was a lot of sheep manure. And there seemed to be a lot of gas...from the sheep. Apparently, there was so much farting going on by the sheep that it set off the smoke warning. I've heard of a green haze, but this takes the cake. The plane was cleaned and the sheep were loaded up again and the flight continued to its destination. The fact that sheep farts could bring a plane down for an emergency landing is not only hilarious, its downright odd!

This Day in History - Thomas Edison Invents the Phonograph
by Jessica Bell

On this day, November 29th, in 1877, US inventor Thomas Edison demonstrates his hand cranked phonograph for the first time. Edison was trying to improve the telegraph transmitter when he noticed that the movement of the paper tape through the machine produced a noise resembling spoken words when played at a high speed. His original phonograph was a machine that had two needles, one for playback and one for recording. When Edison spoke into the mouthpiece, the vibrations of his voice would be indented onto a tinfoil sheet coated cylinder via the recording needle. The first words recorded by Edison were “Mary had a little lamb." In 1878, Edison established the Edison Speaking Phonograph company to sell the new machine. Edison suggested many uses for the phonograph; such as letter writing and dictation, phonographic books for blind people, music boxes and toys, just to name a few. In 1917, when the US became involved in World War I, the Edison Company created a special model of the phonograph for the US army so that soldiers could take music off to war with them.

Pentridge Prison

Coburg, Victoria, Australia didn't always have that name. It was originally known as Pentridge and it was infamous for being home to the Pentridge Prison. This prison was one of the most notorious in Australia, housing some of the worst of the worst and was open for 146 years. Today, it is the setting for fashion shows, parties, conferences and even weddings. As is the case with many old jails, this one is restless behind the scenes...or should we say, behind the veil. Spirits roam the cell blocks. Come with us as we explore the history and hauntings of Australia's Pentridge Prison!

Coburg, Victoria was originally occupied by the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. This tribe was spiritually connected to the land upon which they lived and they conducted sacred ceremonies and corroborees there near Merri Creek. Corroboree is the Anglicized version of the Aboriginal word "Caribberie," which is the name given to the singing and dancing ceremonies practiced by the Aboriginies. Not all of these were specifically sacred. Designs were painted on the body that represented the particular ceremony taking place and special costumes and instruments were made. All members of a tribe took part in Corroborees.

Europeans arrived in 1837 to survey the land and the first effort was led by Robert Hoddle. Hoddle marked out a 327 acre area to set up a village. A surveyor named Henry Foot came through in 1840 and he named the village Pentridge after the place where his wife was born: Pentridge, Dorset, England. By 1849, twenty-one farms had been established. It would be the Victorian Gold Rush in the 1850s that would cause the population of Pentridge to really grow. The Victorian Gold Rush followed on the heels of the California Gold Rush. Gold was first discovered in a place known now as Specimen Gully and soon thereafter in Bendigo and Ballarat in Victoria.The gold rush drew men keen to strike it rich, around 500,000 of them. A few claimed getting as much as 96 ounces in one pan, which equals out to about $100,000 today. *Fun fact: 2% of the UK population moved to Victoria in the 1850s.

Some of the prospectors were rough and prone to violence and drink. The population increase led to an increase in crime and the Melbourne Gaol was the closest place to put these characters, but it soon became overcrowded. A spot for a new jail was found in Pentridge about five miles from Melbourne. This gaol was originally known as the Pentridge stockade. It was built in 1851 and officially declared a prison in 1852. The original structure of Pentridge was informal with wooden structures for prisoners to be caged inside. These cages were wheeled so they could be easily transported for labor purposes. Prisoners worked in chain gangs. After deposits of bluestone were found, it became unnecessary to transport the convicts because they could be employed mining the stone right near the jail.

In 1854, "The Crystal Palace" was built over two acres and made of thick hardwood. The walls rose twelve feet high and was considered more secure. Platforms provided a way for guards to keep an eye on all the comings and goings from the prison. It was painted black and food and bedding were sparse for both the guards and the prisoners. Prisoners were kept chained at all times and were forced to sleep in overcrowded  and deplorable conditions. Though this new structure was more challenging to escape from, it did not stop prisoners from plotting and planning escape plans.

A local paper reported of the prison, "Upon inquiry as to the condition of the Stockade we found everything just about as complete as could be expected. A man of ordinary strength could push out the weatherboards with a single thrust of his arm. The shingles may be poked off the roof with a stick from the inside. If the flooring boards are lifted, the whole gang could walk out, for the building in on piles some feet from the ground and below the floor is not enclosed...every opportunity is offered to them to run away."

More permanent structures were then built between 1857 and 1864 and bluestone was used to build walls around the property. Colonel William Champ arrived in 1857 and established order in the prison. Champ was a big believer in silence and solitude. This is something we have discussed about other prisons that were run during this same time in previous episodes. Prisoners saw no one except the guards and they were referred to by a number rather than by their name. The prison was broken into different divisions and many of those still stand today. In the early years, panopticons were used to exercise the prisoners. Panopticons were circular and broken up into areas similar to a wagon wheel with a center structure and then stone walled spokes radiating outward. Prisoners were given one hour in one of these wedges in order to exercise. Prisoners were punished with flogging or solitary confinement with only bread and water. Some of the more violent offenders were confined on hulks, which were floating prison boats in a harbor near Williamstown.

Women had their own division, A, until 1871. The three story D Division was built and it housed female prisoners until 1956 when Fairlea Female Prison was opened. Several industries were established in the prison that included a tailors’ shop, blacksmith, woolen mill, carpentry and a timber yard. Moving into more modern times it was known as a place of extreme brutality by the guards. New inmates were subjected to a ritual called the ‘liquorice mile’ where they were beaten naked. Killings amongst the inmates were common with the guard’s only enforcing punishment if the inmates touched one of their own. H ward was reserved for the most brutal, high-risk offenders. But it wouldn't be until the 1950s that the jail became a more humane place.

The jail was open for 146 years and had 3,165 prisoners pass through the doors, with eleven of them being executed. One of those prisoners was Jean Lee and she was the last woman executed in Australia. She had been part of a trio that played something called the Badger Game. It consisted of her enticing a man into meeting her for a rendevouz and once they were in the room, one of her accomplices would come in and pretend to be her outraged husband. They would then blackmail the man. One of these men fought back. They tied him up, tortured him and stabbed him. Jean confessed to the crime, but some thought she was covering for one of her accomplices who was also her lover. On the day of her execution, she completely lost it. She became hysterical and had to be sedated. She fainted when the executioner came in and they had to strap her to a chair to carry her so that she could be hanged.

Other prisoners included Garry David who was a self-mutilator that was incarcerated longer than anyone in the history of the Victorian prison system. He used his time in prison to write threatening letters and cutting off pieces of his body. He cut off 74 of his own body parts including his penis. He died after ingesting razor blades. There were two members of the Pettingill family incarcerated here. They were Denis ‘Mr Death’ Allen, for the rape and murder of 15 people, including the dismembering of a Hells Angel biker with a chainsaw, and his younger brother Victor George Pierce, for drug trafficking. And finally Edward Joseph Leonski who was an American soldier. He served during World War II and killed women during the ‘brownout’ periods of low lighting enforced on the city. People called him the ‘Brownout Strangler’ for this reason. He was hanged at Pentridge in 1942.

Melbourne Gaol was closed in 1929 and its prisoners were relocated to Pentridge. The living prisoners were not the only ones transferred. Unbelievably, 33 prisoners who had been executed at Melbourne were re-interred at Pentridge. One of those bodies belonged to the infamous bushranger Ned Kelly. These 33 bodies joined the bodies of the eleven executed at Pentridge, meaning 44 bodies were buried here at one time. The last prisoner executed at Pentridge was Ronald Ryan in 1967 via hanging. He had shot a police officer during a prison escape. The 1980s saw much unrest within the prison with rioting and drug use running rampant. In May 1997, the northern part of the prison was closed. The southern part was closed in November of that year. In 1999, the jail was sold and developed into housing, parkland and a business precinct. Tours are offered of the prison.

As is the case with so many prisons, the spirits are at unrest at Pentridge Prison. Karen, who was a governor at the prison, relates the following experience:
"I worked in the Victorian Prison Service, Australia for 16 years. I began my career at HM Pentridge Prison, Coburg Victoria. The site, now partially torn down, was home to 1,200 male and female prisoners at any one time. This encounter took place in "D" Division, originally constructed for female prisoners in 1880 but was currently the remand facility for 320 maximum security male prisoners.

One night, a young male prisoner had slashed his wrists and arms in a suicide attempt. He had lost a life threatening amount of blood and six of us were desperately trying to stem the flow while waiting for the mobile intesive care ambulance to arrive. At one point, the Senior Prison Officer requested that I run out of the infirmary, up a shot landing to call 000 ( your eqivalent of 911) to get an ETA on the ambulance.

As I ran up the stairs I hit what felt like an ice wall and was momentarily stopped in my tracks. The air around me became instantly chilled, and although this was in the middle of summer, I was cold and could see my breath. I was then able to get up the last six steps, but when I turned around, I saw an opalescent fog crystalise into the form of a woman. She wore long skirts, a cap on her head, and when she turned her face towards me, I got the impression of a woman old before her time, with uncountable horrors and sorrows written in the depth of her staling blue eyes. She then vanished and the air around me returned to its warm and humid state.

I have never forgotten her face, and that 5-10 second interlude meant that I hadn't called and annoyed the Ambulance service, as the sound of the siren was heard as the image vanished.

I went in search of files and possible photographs to try and find this restless soul. I now have it narrowed down to three possible women, all transported from England, all of Irish extraction, all for 7 to 14 years hard labour for crimes such as stealing 1 shilling's worth of bread.

She saved me from annoying an already busy emergency service, and made me accutely aware of how much of us we leave behind for other people to learn from."
The ghost of Mark ‘Chopper’ Read is said to have started haunting the jail after his death in 2013 from liver failure. Mark Read was an underworld hitman and participated in a number of violent crimes leading him to be imprisoned for most of his adult life. He also wrote a number of books based on his life as a criminal. He has been seen near his old block in D Division and has been heard cussing at those participating in ghost tours. He sometimes leans against a wall with his arms crossed and other times he is standing and smoking a cigarette. The Lantern Tour Group was hosting a tour one night when something incredible happened. A spine-chilling shout echoed down the bluestone walls. It was the voice of a male screaming, “GET OUT!” The tour counted its number to make sure one of them hadn't broken off to play a prank. Another scream echoed down the corridor and this time it bellowed, GET THE F--- OUT!” The yell came from near cell 16, which had been Chopper's cell. The Lantern Ghost Tours group were hurried outside and the managers called police.

There is a fog shape that looks like a woman that wonders the prison and dogs react badly to being within the prison after dark. There are also strange sounds which no one can find the source of. Disembodied footsteps are heard as well. No one likes walking around there alone in the dark.

Do the spirits of former prisoners still walk the cell blocks? Is the dark energy that must have permeated these prison walls bringing something from beyond the veil? Is Pentridge Prison haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

HGB Podcast, Ep. 85 - The Legend of Indian Corn and Windigo

Moment in Oddity - The Phantom of Flatwoods

During the Summer of Saucers in 1952, three young boys saw something quite strange in Flatwoods, West Virginia. A UFO streaked through the sky and the boys watched it land at a nearby farm. Two of the boys were brothers and they ran home to tell their mother what they had seen. She went a grabbed a couple of neighbors and they all headed to the farm to see what the boys had been talking about. As they topped the hill near the farm, they saw a large ball of fire and smelled something that made their noses burn. One of the neighbors noticed something that looked like eyes in the darkness and he shone his flashlight in that direction. The light revealed a creature that hissed when the light hit it. The creature glided away from them and the witnesses took off running. They contacted the local sheriff, but he found nothing at the site. A reporter later found tracks and then started taking eyewitness accounts. It would seem that more than just the locals at this incident had seen the creature. Previously, a mother and daughter had seen a weird creature and smelled the weird ozone scent. Others would later report encounters. Witnesses claimed the creature was nearly ten feet tall and seemed to have a metallic or robot body. It's head was round and red and encircled by a cowl shaped like the ace of spades in a deck of cards. Two large orbs that glowed a greenish orange were thought to be its eyes. They called the entity the Phantom of Flatwoods or the Flatwoods Monster. Was this thing an alien or some other kind of weird creature? We'll never know, but it certainly was odd.

This Day in History - Great Storm of 1703

On this day, November 26th in 1703, the worst storm in British history ripped across East Anglia. The Great Storm of 1703 was a catastrophic hurricane with winds over 80mph that were able to lift men and animals off their feet. Two thousands chimneys were blown down in London alone and 400 windmills were destroyed. One hundred churches lost their lead roofs, including Westminster Abbey. Rain lashed the country and caused flooding. Daniel Defoe, who wrote "Robinson Crusoe," claimed that he witnessed a tornado snap the trunk of a large oak like it were a twig. Eight hundred homes were destroyed, 15,000 sheep drowned and 8,000 seamen were killed in shipwrecks. The Eddystone Rocks Lighthouse on Plymouth was wooden and so easily destroyed in the storm. The man who designed it, Henry Winstanley, was killed at that time along with five others. The storm was unprecendented and lasted a long time. It took months for the area to recover and a day of fasting was observed. Sermons for many years after would use the Great Storm as a part of some lesson to remind the people of humility.

The Legend of Indian Corn and Windigo

The Ojibwa Native American tribe tells a legend about Indian corn that involves a member of their tribe. He lived with his family in what is today Wisconsin. It was imperative for the native people to be able to provide for themselves via hunting, but this Ojibwa man was a terrible hunter. His children were young and not of much help to him, but they enjoyed a good relationship and he was a very content man.

His eldest son grew strong and was of the same disposition as his father. The Ojibwa believed that each male had a special Guardian Spirit. When they approached adulthood they were sent on their Guardian Spirit Quest. This spirit would give the male a spirit name and special power. The eldest son set off on his quest and he worked on his first trial, which was to construct a hut. He chose an isolated location, so that his dreams would not be disturbed by anything. After building the hut, he began his seven day fast. He passed the time by taking walks in the woods and studying the plant life. He would walk far enough to ensure that he would be able to sleep soundly at night.

The eldest son would find himself wondering why the plants and trees around him were able to grow so well with no one caring for them. It occured to him that if his people could find the secret to this, then hunting would not be so important. After all, his father had a hard time providing for the family because his hunting skills were lacking. He decided that he would start asking for dreams about this secret. By the third day of his fast, he felt himself becoming weak. He decided to stay on his bed and he had a vision of a young man coming out of the sky. He was coming towards the eldest son and he was beautiful and strong. His clothing was adorned in yellows and greens. His walk was graceful and his head had a covering of magnificient feathers. He told the son that he was in fact his Guardian Spirit sent from the Great Spirit. He told the son that from now on he would be known as Wunzh.

He told Wunzh that the Great Spirit was pleased with how he had been conducting his Spirit Quest and that he knew the desires of Wunzh's heart. The Great Spirit was pleased that Wunzh did not seek strength or the ability to become a great warrior and instead wanted to find a way to help his family and his people. The Guardian Spirit said that he had been sent to test Wunzh and that they must wrestle. Wunzh was faint and unsure, but he took strength in the desire of his heart and he wrestled to the best of his ability. He was not able to beat his guide, but he also did not lose either. His Guardian told him that he would return the next day. The following day, the two wrestled again and Wunzh still was not able to win. On the third day, the Guardian told Wunzh that he must win the wrestling that day.

Wunzh prayed to the Great Spirit for strength. His limbs were weak, but his determination was strong. He wrestled hard and after the same amount of time had passed as had in the previous two days' wrestling matches, the Guardian stopped and declared Wunzh the winner. He led Wunzh into the hut and told him that tomorrow would be his final day of fasting. He reminded Wunzh that his father would be bringing him food to break the seven day fast. And he informed Wunzh that he would have to wrestle him again. He told Wunzh that he must fight hard and that when he defeated the Guardian, that he must strip him naked and bury him in a place in the soil that has been cleared of roots and weeds. The yellow and green clothing that the Guardian wore was to placed on top of him before burial.

The Guardian Spirit continued that Wunzh must leave his body in the earth, but that he was to come visit the grave. When he visited, he was to make sure no weeds were growing on the grave and he was to place fresh dirt atop the grave. He promised Wunzh that if he did these things, then he would have the desire of his heart and his family and people would be helped. The two shook hands and the Guardian left. Wunzh's father arrived the next morning and gave his son food. The father commented that the son had done well and that he should eat, so that he would not die and he asked his son to return home with him. Wunzh said that he could not leave yet and that he had personal reasons for this. His father told him that he would wait for him at home until the setting of the sun.

The Guardian returned just as the sun was ready to set and he and Wunzh wrestled. Wunzh had not eaten any food yet, but he felt an inner strength. The strength felt supernatural. He grabbed the Guardian and threw him to the ground and the Guardian lay still. He was dead. Wunzh quickly followed the directions he had been given earlier, believing that his Guardian would rise again. Wunzh returned home, but all Spring and Summer he tended the grave, removing grass and weeds and placing fresh dirt upon the grave. After some time, Wunzh noticed the curious plumes of some kind of plant pressing up through the earth. And the more he cared for the grave and these plants, the faster they grew.

Wunzh had told no one of what he was doing, but when Summer came to an end, he invited his father to join him at the site of his Spirit Quest. His father was amazed to see when they arrived, tall stalks of green plants topped with yellow silken hair. Bursting from the stalks were gold and green clusters of fruit. Wunzh explained to his father that the plants were from his Guardian Spirit. He said, "My Spirit's name is Mon-daw-min and that name means "corn for all people." This was my heart's secret wish and now it has been answered. We will not have to hunt every day for food anymore. If we care for this corn gift, the Earth will continue to feed us." He gave the first ear of corn to his father.

Wunzh continued by explaining all the things that Mon-daw-min had told him to do in regards to the corn. He showed his father how to remove the ears of corn. He explained that they needed to save the first seeds in order to plant more corn the next season. He even showed his father how to cook the corn near the flames of the fire while still in the husks, just long enough to get the kernels to taste sweet and juicy. The family gathered for a feast of corn and gave thanks to the Great Spirit for this gift. They ate heartily and always remembered how to care for their corn. This is how Wunzh came to be known as the father of Indian Corn.

For Native American tribes, corn is considered one of the Three Sisters. The other two are squash and beans. And many tribes considered corn to be a god. Because corn was either considered to be a god or a gift from God, many times it was used in ceremonial rites and dress. It was given as a spiritual offering as well. Native Americans called corn by different names. The term maize was Spanish in origin. The Algonquin that we mentioned on the last episode used the terms hominy, pone and succotash to describe their dishes they made from corn. The Cree used the term sagamite and the Aztecs called corn Chicha. The Pueblo have a Corn Dance and other tribes have Corn Clans. These tribes include the Mojave, the Navajo, the Muskogee Creek and the Pueblo.

The Ojibwa tribe that give us the legend of Indian Corn is better known as the Chippewa. They lived in the northern part of America in areas that would become the states of North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. They also lived in what is today Canada and actually are the second largest tribe there presently. Their name means "original people." The tribe was broken up into clans and they lived in family units. they used birch trees to fashion canoes and built homes that are called wigwams. Today, they live on reservations and continue to keep their customs as best they can. One group that they formed that continues today is the Grand Medicine Society that is a secret order open to men and women that conducts esoteric ceremonies believed to bring supernatural assistance to members. Members are generally thought to be shaman and seers and many of the rituals are used for healing purposes. To become a full member, an initiate goes through a death and rebirth inside a medicine lodge. There are four degrees of initiation and when they are done, the individual is thought to have the power of healing and the ability to be victorious in growing food and battle.

The Ojibwa bring us more than just the legend of Indian Corn. They also have a legend about an entity known as the Windigo. The Windigo is a fearsome, nasty looking creatures. It appears as though it were a half-starved wolf with its eyes deep in its sockets, the skin pulled taut against bones and a gray complexion. The creature has very skinny and elongated limbs with the body and head of a wolf. Some describe it looking like a Bigfoot creature. And the legend claims that this beast really is a human that has transformed, similiar to the tales of werewolves. The Native American people were generally against the eating of human flesh, but some tribes did take part in such things. The legend of the Windigo has origins in cannabalism. It more than likely was to solidify the taboo of cannabalism by claiming that those who indulged in such practices might become susceptible to the disorder that would cause them to become a Windigo.

Others believe the windigo is a demonic spirit and that it can possess men. A Cree man named Swift Runner was starving one winter along with his family. After the death of his eldest son from starvation, Swift Runner seemed to lose his mind. He killed his wife and remaining five children. He then ate them. Swift Runner admitted what he had done to the authorities and he was put to death. Some claimed that he suffered from something called Wendigo Psychosis. But could he have been possessed by the spirit of a windigo?

Canadian folklore tells the tale of an Ojibwa that came face to face with a windigo. He was hunting alone in the forest when he came upon some bloody footprints in the snow. Then he heard a strange hissing sound. He could not see what creature might be making the sound. He heard the hissing again, but instead of to the side of him, it sounded like it was coming from the front. And then he heard it again behind him. He whipped around with his heart pounding. He could not see what was hissing. He feared a windigo was hunting him. His father had warned him about this cannabalistic creature. He gripped his spear and knife hard.  He began to back away from the bloody footprints. A creature sprang from behind a snow bank and hurtled itself towards him.

The man threw his spear at the creature, but it seemed to be of little help. He rolled himself in snow and dove behind a tree. The windigo was sniffing the air for him and looking around. As it approached the hiding place, the young man jumped out and stabbed the windigo in the eye. It howled in pain and he jammed the knife into the other eye. He stabbed at the creature's head multiple times. The windigo collapsed on the man, nearly crushing him. He pulled himself free and saw that the creature was dead. The warrior was shaken, but he was alive and he returned home.

Does the windigo actually exist? That is for you to decide!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

HGB Podcast, Ep. 84 - Carleton County Gaol

Moment in Oddity - Versailles Time Slip

Charlotte Anne Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain are two women that took a tourist trip to visit the Palace of Versailles in France in the year 1901. Surprisingly, they were unimpressed with the Palace and decided to visit another spot. They walked through the gardens to the Petit Trianon, but it was closed. They decided to travel the grounds instead and as they wandered, they soon lost their way. They started to get worried and then they started noticing some peculiar things. They saw people dressed in clothes from an older time period. Mrs. Jourdain wrote: "Everything suddenly looked unnatural, therefore unpleasant; even the trees seemed to become flat and lifeless, like wood worked in tapestry. There were no effects of light and shade, and no wind stirred the trees." They got directions from a man, so they could return to the Petit Trianon. As they approached it, they noticed a woman painting a picture who was wearing a sun dress from a previous era. One of the woman would later claim that she believed the woman was Marie Antoinette. They reached their destination and found other tourists who were wearing clothes like them and the weird feelings the women had been experiencing dissipated. The two women believed they had experienced a time slip in Versailles and in 1911 they wrote a book about it called, "An Adventure." If these women truly had a Versailles time slip, that would certainly be odd.

This Day in History - DB Cooper Hijacks Plane & Disappears
 by Steven Pappas

On this day, November 24th, in 1971, Dan Cooper, often called DB Cooper in the media, hijacked a Boeing 727 on its way from Portland to Seattle. Shortly after take off he handed a note to a flight attendant that stated he had a bomb and the plane was being hijacked. He demanded 200,000 dollars, 4 parachutes and a fuel truck on the ground in Seattle to refuel the plane. After releasing the hostages on the ground in Seattle, he demanded the crew take off again with the rear door open. In the end, he jumped from the aircraft with the money and a parachute strapped to him and the plane landed safely in Reno without Cooper aboard. He was never caught or positively identified. This led to 40+ years of speculation and conspiracy theories about everything from his identity to what he may have done with the money. The FBI even has a 60 volume file on the event and the manhunt. To this day, law enforcement and treasure seekers are still chasing the answers to the mystery of DB Cooper and he remains the only unidentified air pirate in American history.

Carleton County Gaol (Research Assistant: Carbon Lilies)

Ottawa in Ontario is the capital of Canada. This city has a high standard of living, low unemployment and a rich history being the historic home of the founding fathers of Canada. Within this city is located the historic jail known in previous years as the Carleton County Gaol. Like so many older jails, treatment here for prisoners was not always humane and men, women and children were housed together. The jail is now a hostel known as the Ottawa Jail Hostel, but something from the past still remains. Spirits still seem to roam the hallways and many of these entities are not happy. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the Carleton County Gaol.

The Algonquin people were some of the first inhabitants in the Ottawa area. Ottawa sits at the confluence of three waterways: The Ottawa River, the Gatineau River and the Rideau River. This made it a coveted region. It would later become a bustling center of commerce and the timber industry. One of the men that established the timber industry was Philemon Wright. He was a New Englander who had traveled here and established the first settlement on the north side of the river in 1800. In 1826, hundreds of land speculators claimed and built up the south side of the river. They named the town Bytown after British military engineer Colonel John By. Bytown was renamed Ottawa in 1855 and incorporated as a city.

In 1862, the Carleton County Gaol was built. It was designed by Henry Horsey and was the first jail built in the area. It was designed in the Italianate style and was a three story stone structure. A courthouse was built adjacent to the jail and a tunnel connected the two. The jail housed a variety of criminals ranging from minor offenses to major offenses, like murder, for 150 years. As was the case with most prisons of the time, conditions were crowded and inhumane. One hundred and fifty men, woman and yes, children, were crammed into 60 small cells measuring 3 x 9 feet and 30 larger cells measuring 6 x 9 feet. There were six cells for solitary confinement. Solitary was dubbed The Hole, as it is in most jails, and it was a horrid place where inmates were thrown naked into the darkness and then chained spread eagle to the wall.

In the general population, there was usually only one meal a day and several inmates died from the mistreatment they experienced. Death row sat on the top floor. Executions were conducted via hanging. Patrick James Whelan was the most infamous person hung at the jail and his would be the last public hanging there. One of the founding fathers of the Canadian Confederacy was Thomas D'Arcy McGee. He staunchly spoke out against American expansionist motives towards Canada. Although an Irish nationalist, McGee denounced the Fenian Brotherhood in America because they felt a forceful takeover of Canada from Britain by the United States was necessary. The Fenian Brotherhood was founded in America in 1858 as an Irish republican organization.

Many believe it was these very actions that led to the only political assassination on the federal level in Canada’s history. On April 7, 1868, after a parliamentary debate that went past the midnight hour, McGee returned to his boarding house on Sparks Street. Finding the door locked from the inside, he had to wait for his landlady to greet him at the entrance. No sooner had Mary Ann Trotter opened the door, than a brilliant flash went off. A .32 caliber bullet sliced through McGee’s neck and exploded out his jaw, sending his dentures flying by sheer force. Thomas D'Arcy McGee fell into the street dead.

By the next night, over 40 Fenian supporters were being held for questioning (including Patrick Buckley, stable hand to Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald, who named Patrick James Whelan as the assassin. Sir John A. MacDonald was a close personal friend of Thomas D’Arcy McGee and the validity of Buckley’s accusation has been questioned). Whelan maintained his innocence the entire time and even though the evidence was circumstantial, he was found guilty and sentenced to what would be the very last public hanging at the Carleton County Gaol. In front of 5,000 onlookers on February 11, 1869, Patrick Whelan told the crowd one last time that he was innocent and that he knew who had killed McGee, before being hung by the neck until he was dead. The final official execution at the jail occurred on March 27,1946 when Eugene Larment was hanged for killing a police detective. It is suspected that the guards were apt to take the law into their own hands at times.

At its height, the jail was the pride of Ottawa. It even was considered the most effective prison in Canada. In 1972, reality set in and the jail was closed. Far from being a place to take pride in, the jail was found to be unsanitary and conditions within were deplorable. A man named John Wylie suggested that the historic structure be renovated and opened as a hostel. That same year, it opened as an international hostel under Hostelling International, but parts of the structure were kept as they had been during its jail years to preserve the history. Death Row is still as it was on the top floor and the eighth floor is relatively unchanged. Stocks still stand outside.

It is believed that some of the inmates who were executed here were actually innocent. And many other prisoners died from sickness and the conditions. Excavations revealed several unmarked graves. Lonely Planet claims the hostel to be the ninth most haunted building on the planet. And based on people's experiences, that might be true. The cries of women and children are heard in the basement. Now the jail only had three official hangings. Official. Meaning many illegal hangings took place. Prisoners had a noose tightened on their necks that was hung from a beam and then they were thrown over the eighth floor balcony. Another reason for spirits to be at unrest here. Patrick Whelan's spirit is reportedly the most at unrest and he is seen on Death Row. The reason could be either because he claimed he was innocent or the fact that his body was not given to his family for burial in their family plot and rather was placed in an unmarked grave.

One anecdotal story tells of travelers staying at the hostel specifically due to its reputation of being haunted and after a few hours of no activity began to cause a scene by demanding their money back unless they could have proof of the paranormal which they had been expecting. The clerk was very apologetic in trying to explain that they paid for the lodging and not the activity seemed to be getting nowhere. However, during the argument, the travelers got their wish. A coin which had been slammed down on the counter rose up into the air and remained suspended for nearly a minute. The guests upon seeing this ran from the lobby no longer worried about having paid for the night.

Also, there’s the “Vampire”. A cryptic note left in a secret staircase reading, “I am a non-veridical Vampire who will vanquish you all. One by one I will ornate your odorous flesh with famished fangs. But Who? Are there 94 or 95 steps to the 9th floor? A book on the top shelf will lead you on the right path.” And below the text is a circle with an inverted code, “S3a.”

Our research assistants and friends, Carbon Lilies, enjoyed a ghost tour with Haunted Walk of Ottawa and they visited the Carleton County Gaol. And they had a few experiences. We share some of these highlights from their blog:
"The eighth floor is the one with the claustrophobic single cells. So much unexplained activity occurred on this level (footsteps in the hall, cell doors slamming closed and disembodied voices), that no one could spend the entire night and would always leave, demanding their money back. It got to the point that the hostel even offered the rooms free to anyone who managed to remain the entire night. They’ve never had to give a complementary stay. No sooner had Élise finished telling us these details when a door slammed somewhere down the hall in the unused section of the floor. She genuinely looked startled. I wanted to explore down the walkway but wasn’t sure if we were allowed and hesitant to leave while needing to stay with the tour, we moved on to death row. A number of us jumped when that door slammed, including Élise. My own heart was racing and I grabbed onto Lana’s sleeve (remember in this partnership I am the girl and Lana is actually the guy… and I had a very typical girl moment of burying my head in Lana’s shoulder and then gripping her hand tightly) and then my brain immediately wandered to thinking that either a staff member had been in that hallway, or that the tour guides had set up the experience just for us. After the tour, I did ask Élise about the use of the hallway and she said that the door is never used. Élise also confirmed that they hadn’t set anything up to falsely surprise us. The skeptic in me is still unsure it was a true paranormal experience but I will not deny the thrill of the moment with such impeccable timing. I also proved to myself that I am indeed a typical girl who almost cried when a door was slammed in a creepy environment. Le sigh."
As the group entered Death Row, both Lana and John could feel a heavy oppressive feeling. Not surprising when considering the emotions a prisoner must experience as they face certain death. At the opposite end of the death row hall is a door. The executioner would come through this door. Lana lightly touched the door and it shook and vibrated. Did Lana cause that to happen? She claims her touch was light, so had she angered someone or something on the other side?

Photo courtesy of
Are the inmates of the jail still here? Is the hostel housing more than guests? Are there restless spirits here? Is the Carleton County Gaol haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes
Carbon Lilies personal experiences at the gaol:
Haunted Walk: Ghosts and Gallows tour if ever in Ottawa.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

HGB Podcast, Ep. 83 - Emily Morgan Hotel

Moment in Oddity - Charlie Chaplin's Body Stolen

Charlie Chaplin was a star of the silent film era in old Hollywood. He is best known for his role as The Tramp in which he donned a bowler hat, square mustache that was hitler-esque, a cane, over-sized shoes and a quirky little walk. His acting career spanned 77 years. He died on Christmas Day in 1977 and was buried in the hills above Lake Geneva in Switzerland in the village of Corsier. He would not be at rest for long. In March of the following year, two grave robbers disinterred the coffin and the body of Charlie Chaplin. The grave robbers were a Polish man named Roman Wardas and a Bulgarian named Gantscho Ganev. They took the coffin and buried it in a field a mile from the Chaplin home. After all, hoisting a coffin and a body around would be a bit conspicuous. The men then demanded 400,000 pounds for the return of the body. Charlie's widow refused to pay claiming that Charlie would find the situation ridiculous. The police put surveillance on 200 phone banks in the area and tapped the Chaplin house's phones. It took 11 weeks, but they finally found the criminals and recovered Charlie's coffin and body. He was reburied, but this time in a coffin of concrete. Charlie no doubt would have found this footnote to his life quite odd.

This Day in History - Boss Tweed Convicted

On this day, November 19th, in 1873, William Tweed, also known as Boss Tweed, was convicted of 204 counts of defrauding New York City out of $6 million. Boss Tweed was a politician who had risen to the level where he was considered the boss of Tammany Hall. Tammany Hall was basically the Democratic powerhouse in New York. It was an organization that played a major role in politics in New York, both the city and the state. Boss Tweed was the third largest landowner in New York and had been elected to the House of Representatives. At the time that he served as boss of Tammany Hall, he was on the New York County Board of Supervisors. Boss Tweed ushered in a time of political corruption. He installed friends to high places and used construction projects as payoffs and an opportunity to make big profits. The Orange Riot of 1871 started the downfall for Boss Tweed. Newspapers started writing exposes after getting insider information after Tweed's supposed friends started talking. It was discovered that Tweed had defrauded the city and he was put on trial for 220 counts, finally being convicted on 204 of them. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison. The sentence was later changed to one year. After his release, the city filed a civil lawsuit. Tweed couldn't pay the $3 million in bail, so he was locked up again. He escaped during a home visit and ran away to Spain where he worked as a seaman. He was discovered and returned to America. He made a deal that he would tell all about the inner workings of Tammany Hall is he would be freed. An agreement was reached and Tweed told everything. The Governor changed his mind on the deal and Tweed was returned to jail where he died of pneumonia.

Emily Morgan Hotel

The city of San Antonio is beautiful. It is home to the infamous Alamo. And right next to the Alamo sits the Emily Morgan Hotel. The hotel is considered the official hotel of the Alamo. It was once a state of the art medical facility. Today it is a DoubleTree by Hilton hotel that offers luxurious accommodations in a beautiful historic building. Those accommodations offer more than just luxuries. There are reportedly ghosts in this building. Some believe that the hotel is far more haunted than even the Alamo, where so many more people died. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the Emily Morgan Hotel.

San Antonio is the third largest city in Texas and estimated to be the seventh largest city in America. This city is the heart of Texan independence. The Battle of the Alamo was fought here. The city was named for Saint Anthony of Padua. When Europeans first arrived, the Payaya Indians were in the area and called it Yanaguana, meaning refreshing waters. The San Antonio River is sometimes still referred to by that name given it originally by the Native Americans. Spanish Franciscans leading military expeditions were the first to arrive here. Missions were built throughout the area and many still stand today.

The Emily Morgan Hotel got its start as a medical facility in 1924. The building was designed by the architect Ralph Cameron and developed by JM Nix. It was built in the Gothic Revival style with cast iron accents. The roof is copper with ribs made of wood. A distinct tower is located at one of the building's triangular shaped corners and gargoyles line the building. The gargoyles each depict different medical ailments. The building had thirteen stories and was called the Medical Arts Building. Inside were medical offices, a hospital and crematorium. In 1976, the building was converted into an office complex and the following year it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. In 1984, the building was remodeled and opened as a hotel. It was given the name "The Emily Morgan Hotel" and it was named for a special woman.

Emily D. West is a folk hero in Texas. She was born some time in 1815 in New Haven, Connecticut. Emily was a free woman of color, but she would not really remain free. In 1835, a man by the name of James Morgan took Emily on as an indentured servant and she was employed at one of his hotels in Morgan Point, Texas called the New Washington Association's Hotel. On April 16, 1836, a Mexican calvary stormed the hotel in search of the President of the Texas Republic, David Burnet. Burnet had already left, so the calvary kidnapped the black servants at the hotel, including Emily. General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna arrived and helped his troops loot and then burn the hotel. He then decided to go after Sam Houston and his troops. On April 21st, the Texans charged the Mexican camp and General Santa Anna was caught with his pants down. Literally. Legend says that the General was in a compromising position in his tent with none other than Emily West. And even though Emily did not plan it this way, she is given credit for helping to defeat the Mexican army.

William Bollaert was an Englishman who was traveling through Texas when he met up with Sam Houston. He wrote the following about what he was told by Houston at that meeting: "I [Bollaert] left Galveston with a friend for a trip to the Trinity River by land (for observations to Geographical Society). Buffalo Bayou may be compared to a deep canal, its shores thickly wooded with Pine and the Magnolias in flower.  We gazed with some interest on the battle field of San Jacinto. The following is a copy of an unpublished letter written by G’l [i.e., General] Houston to a friend after this extraordinary battle: “The Battle of San Jacinto was probably lost to the Mexicans,owing to the influence of a Mulatta girl (Emily) belonging to Col. Morgan who was closeted in the tent with g’l [i.e., General] Santana, at the time the cry was made, ‘The Enemy! They come! They come!' and detained Santana so long, that order could not be restored readily again.”

Was the story true? It has grown and been added to through the years, just like urban legends. Many have claimed that the song "Yellow Rose of Texas" was written about Emily. For our episode, it's not really important whether Emily helped in the defeat of Santa Anna or not. What is important is that Texans believe she did. She really did live. And for that reason, the hotel was named The Emily Morgan. They used her employer's surname rather than her own as was the custom to do with servants.

The Emily Morgan was remodeled extensively in 2012 and joined the Hilton family of hotels under the DoubeTree branch. The rooms are luxurious and modern. No one would imagine that this was once a hospital where people died. And others have died here in more recent time. In April of 2008, Juan Ignacio Gutierrez stabbed a woman named Elvira Hernandez-Moreno to death with a steak knife. Later that same year, Justin Cardenas came out of a room on the 14th floor with blood on his shirt and hands. Cardenas had rented the room with a friend who brought a gun. The friend emptied the gun of its clip, but forgot that a bullet was in the chamber. He held the gun to his temple and told Justin to pull the trigger. It fired and killed the man. 

The Emily Morgan Hotel sits in an area that is prime territory for hauntings. After all, the Alamo is right next door. Employees and guests report many unexplained happenings. The televisions and lights turn off and on without assistance. The phones ring in the middle of the night with no operator or anyone on the other end. And being situated next to the Alamo means sightings of soldiers in military garb are seen outside. Six hundred soldiers lost their lives here and their bodied were burned.

And there is, of course, a woman in white here. People will see her and think she is real and then she suddenly disappears. A senior sales manager at the hotel once rented a room for an overnight and returned from dinner to find the bathtub full of water. She had not run the bath. There is both a woman and little girl on the third floor. This little girl has a penchant for music. She is said to wake people in the middle of the night with her humming. She sometimes asks people if they would like to sing along. One guest heard a little girl humming, "Row, row, row your boat," while she was in the restroom. When she investigated, she found no little girl anywhere. The woman on this floor is heard singing.

Shadow figures and apparitions that walk through walls are seen on the seventh floor. Wine bottles slide off tables on the ninth floor and toilet seats get banged up and down. A hospital gurney is heard being wheeled on the eleventh floor and the spirit of an elderly woman is seen weeping in a hospital gown. The twelfth floor housed surgery. The smell of alcohol is detected on this floor and unexplained noises are heard. As if surgeries are still ongoing in a residual manner. The elevators are haunted as well. People blame faulty wiring, only faulty wiring has never been found. The elevators sometimes don't stop at the floors chosen by riders. They'll just pass right on by. Sometimes they'll shoot people down to the basement where the morgue was once located and then sit there, refusing to move. KCC Big Country wrote on her HubPage about experiences she had on a stay at the hotel and one of those experiences was on the elevator.

Michelle related the following chilling tale from her stay at the hotel:
"The Emily Morgan is indeed haunted. The first weekend I stayed there I really had no expectations. I thought the hotel was fantastic when I arrived. My friend and I checked in and hopped on the elevator to get to our room so we could unpack. When we got on the elevator and hit the third floor. The elevator kept going and opened on an entirely different floor. We giggled nervously but didn't think too much about it. After a little shopping and entertainment we settled in for the night. At some point in the night I was woken up by an incredible chill and humming. I woke up to find a little girl sitting on the end of my bed. She was swinging her feet off the end of the bed and humming. When she saw I was awake she giggled and said, "Do you want to sing? Do you want to play with me?". I immediately froze and then started to cry. I was terrified. I actually couldn't even talk about it for weeks after it happened. I pulled the covers up over my head and never made it back to sleep. The following night I decided I would try to stay up later and maybe have a glass or two of wine before trying to go to bed. I again found myself waking up to a cold chill. This time I laid very still with my eyes closed and could feel someone lying next to me..almost leaning against me. I slowly opened my eyes to make sure I was awake. I could still feel someone against me and again I cried. As soon as I started to cry, the feeling left but you could still feel the cold."
 Lisa wrote about her stay at the hotel:
"I stayed at the Emily Morgan a few years ago (on 7th floor near elevator), unaware of its reputation for being haunted. The room had sliding doors to the bathroom, which I closed before getting into bed. Nothing paranormal has ever happened to me and I’m 45 years old. Later that night I was lying in bed awake and I felt a weight “sit” next to me on the bed, even felt the pressure against my leg above the knee, as if a smallish person sat down. I freaked out and said, “Please leave now!” I didn’t sleep after that but when I got up, the sliding doors were open. I won’t be staying there again, but it was a beautiful property."
Do ghostly soldiers still hang out near the Alamo? Are those who died long ago in the Medical Arts Building, still at the hospital, waiting for their surgery? Is the Emily Morgan Hotel haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:
Paper on Emily West:
KCC Big Country's experience:

Friday, November 13, 2015

HGB Podcast, Ep. 82 - Lizzie Borden House

Moment in Oddity - The Watseka Wonder

The Watseka Wonder is the first documented case of spiritual possession in America and it happened in the town of Watseka. It involved a young girl by the name of Lurancy Vennum who was thirteen years old. She and her family moved into a home where a girl named Mary Roff had lived thirteen years before. Mary had been an ill child prone to unexplainable seizures. She would have periods of depression that would end in these fits of seizures. She was sent to the hospital in Peoria, but no cure was found for her. She returned home and found that bleeding herself helped. Doctors brought her leeches and would apply them to her head. Mary actually began to keep the leeches as pets. After one bad spell, Mary ran into the backyard and sliced open her arm. Many men had to drag her back in the house and hold her down as she raved. Her strength was far more than what a hundred pound girl should have. Mary was sent back to Peoria where she died during a fit in 1865. After moving into the Roff House, Lurancy started having fits that would leave her rigid for hours and she would complain afterward of feeling strange. She would contort and go into trances, claiming she could see heaven. After 100 days, Mary Roff left the body of Lurancy and the home. Later on, Lurancy would visit the Roff family and there are claims that she would let Mary enter her body when she visited. The idea that a dead girl could enter the body of another that is living is not only terrifying, but very odd.

This Day in History - Moby Dick Published

On this day, November 14th, in 1851, Moby Dick by Herman Melville is published. Moby Dick had originally been published as "The Whale" in London, but when it came to America, it received the more fetching name of Moby Dick. The story is narrated by a sailor named Ishmael and he details the quest of his captain who is named Ahab. Captain Ahab has an obsession for finding and killing a certain whale that is white in color. This whale not only destroyed his prior ship, but it injured him in such a way that his lower leg was severed. The work is very detailed in its descriptions of life at sea and the practice of whaling and Melville drew from some of his own experience at sea. Although the novel is considered a masterpiece and one of the Great American Novels, it was a failure during Melville's time. When he died in 1891, Moby Dick was actually out of print. World War I would reawaken an interest in the novel and it has gone on to great acclaim and is required reading in many schools.

The Lizzie Borden House (Research Assistant: Sharon Spungen)

Growing up, many of us sung a rhyme about the crime attributed to Lizzie Borden that began, "Lizzie Borden took an axe." But did this young woman actually commit the crime for which she was accused and aquitted? What was going on in this home with this family that people actually thought it was possible? What happened to the Borden family is not in dispute, nor are the facts unclear. It was August 4, 1892. Andrew Borden's body was found, shortly before noon, in his Fall River, Massachusetts parlor room. He had suffered many blows to the head, specifically to his face, with a blunt object. His wife, Abby, was found that same day in an upstairs boudoir with the back of her head bashed in. This violent crime remains unsolved and perhaps that is why the spirits are at unrest in this home. Come with us as we explore the home, the family, the crime and the hauntings connected to the Lizzie Borden House.

Andrew Jackson Borden was born in 1822 in Massachusetts. He married Sarah Anthony Morse and they had three daughters: Emma, Alice and Lizzie. Lizzie was born the youngest of those three daughters and only she and her sister Emma survived to adulthood. Their mother Sarah died when Lizzie was only two years old. Andrew was seen as a reclusive man, although highly successful. He was believed to have been extremely tight with his money, as he had started out in life with little means and never changed his spending habits, even as his fortune grew. He would come to be one of the richest men in Fall River, Massachusetts. He was not very well liked; however, because he was always in a sour mood and lacked humor. Just two years after Sarah's death, in 1865, Andrew married Abby Durfee Gray. She was considered a spinster by the community and she was not very well off. Andrew needed help raising his two girls. The situation was ideal for both of them and it was a mutually supportive marriage.

The Lizzie Borden House was built in 1845 by Southard Miller for a man named Charles Trafton in Fall River, Massachusetts. It was originally meant to be a two family home. In 1872, Andrew bought the large house for his family of four. The house had wall to wall carpeting on the first and second floors. Andrew remodeled to make the home more spacious by knocking out a wall on the first floor. Radiators provided central heating. There was a bathroom in the cellar with a pull chain toilet. The parlor was decorated with lace curtains. Despite the home being large, both Borden daughters felt the house was beneath their station in life. In 1889, the family hired Bridget Sullivan, an Irish immigrant, to help with the household chores. The home was large and comfortable and from the outside, everything seemed well in the Borden home. But that was not the case.

The home was robbed and cash and jewelry were taken during daylight hours. It is believed that Andrew and Abby considered Lizzie the prime suspect and insisted that all family doors were to be kept locked from this point forward. In a bizarre incident, Andrew took a hatchet and killed all of Lizzie's pet pigeons sometime in the late spring/summer of 1892. Emma left the home in the summer of 1892 after some huge family fight and went to stay with friends of the family. She was still there at the time of the murders of her father and step-mother. The morning of August 3rd in 1892, Abby went to the doctor's complaining of severe illness that she and Andrew suffered the night before, and allegedly, made mention of her fear that the family was being poisoned. Interestingly, around this same time, Lizzie attempted to purchase poison to combat moths that were eating a fur coat she owned from the local drug store, but was told she would need a prescription for it. Rumors have survived to this day that Lizzie was not just a spinster living at home, but that she and her father had some kind of incestuous relationship.

The family was active in the Central Congregational Church. Lizzie herself joined the Women's Christian Temperance Union and the Christian Endeavor Society. Her activities with these types of organizations earned her the respect of two ministers, William Walter Jubb and Edwin A. Buck. She was a Sunday School teacher and many considered her a hard worker. It would come as a shock that she would be arrested and tried for the events that would take place on August 4, 1892.

Emma was with friends, but Uncle John Morse had come to visit and he had stayed overnight. The maid Bridget was up at 6am to get a fire stoked and breakfast started. Andrew, Abby and Uncle John came down an hour later. Every one sat and ate for an hour, but Lizzie did not join them. She slept late. Uncle John left after breakfast and Lizzie came down complaining she felt ill. Bridget herself threw up later that morning. A little after 9am, Andrew headed out for business and Abby asked Bridget to wash the windows while she made up Uncle John's bed. Bridget got the outside of the windows done around 10:30am and headed inside to do the interior of the windows.

Andrew Borden arrived home at this time. Bridget let him in and Lizzie told him that Abby went to visit a sick neighbor. Andrew grabbed the key to his room and headed up the back stairs. You might be wondering why he needed a key. It would seem that the Bordens were in the habit of locking all the doors in the house, all the time. As if they not only didn't trust the outside world, but each other as well. Lizzie went to heat the iron and Andrew returned downstairs and sat on a sofa in the sitting room and began reading the newspaper. Bridget retired to her room, but was awakened by the shouts of Lizzie a little after she had drifted off to sleep. Lizzie was shouting that her father was dead. She sent Bridget off for the doctor.

The doctor's house was across the street, but he was not there. Bridget returned with his wife and several neighbors came as well. They all asked Lizzie where she had been when her father was murdered. Keep in mind that the house was kept locked tight. Lizzie claimed she had gone to the barn to get an iron for fishing sinkers and had left the door unlocked. Then there were, of course, the question about where Abby was and suddenly, Lizzie had no idea. Then she threw out a comment about her father having an enemy and how the family had been poisoned by milk. Now wait a minute! Abby was the one mentioning that she thought the family had some kind of poisoning and there is not much doubt she suspected Lizzie. And how would Lizzie know it was the milk that was poisoned? And why throw that out there right after finding your father bludgeoned to death. Shouldn't she be a bit tramatized from the scene. The crime scene photos and autopsy photos are hard to look at.

The doctor finally arrives and observes that a sharp object was used to deliver eleven blows - not forty - to Andrew's head making him unrecognizable. An eye was cut in half and his nose was gone. Blood was sprayed up to the ceiling, across the wall, the floor and was still seeping from the wounds. A neighbor and Bridget went to see if Abby was upstairs after Lizzie mentioned that she thought she had heard Abby come home while she was out at the barn. So now Lizzie's story has gone from "I don't know where she has gone" to "I think she came home." The neighbor found Abby next to the bed in Uncle John's room, lying face down in a pool of blood. She had been making the bed and seemed to have been struck by a sharp object from behind. The coroner later revealed that Abby had received more blows than Andrew. She had been struck ninteen times. The blood was congealed meaning she had been killed before Andrew and more than likely at least an hour before, meaning it happened while Andrew was out and while she was supposedly at an ailing neighbor's house, according to Lizzie. Now would be a good time to mention that the girls referred to Abby as Mrs. Borden because they disliked the woman. They never considered her a mother and fought often. This is more than likely why Emma was no longer living at the house. Whoever perpetrated this crime had a lot of anger towards these two victims.

Now where are the cops? It would seem they were away for their annual picnic. Only one officer was at the station. He ran to the house and saw that Andrew was dead and ran back to the station. So no one is watching the crime scene. As happened with the Villisca Axe Murder, this scene was overrun by looky lous. Any evidence was quickly destroyed. Based on Lizzie's comments about the milk, the medical examiner sent the milk and stomachs to Harvard for testing where no poison was found.  Another autopsy was conducted after the funerals. The burials were prevented so this could be done. Both of the couple's heads were removed, so the skulls could be studied. The skulls were later interred with the rest of the remains.

Lizzie and Emma were the heirs to Andrew's small fortune and suspicion fell to Lizzie. Bridget was brought in for questioning as well, but she was never charged. Lizzie was charged. The evidence was weak at best. No murder weapon was found. A hatchet that was found in the cellar had been cleaned and then purposefully dirtied, so it could not be proven that it was used in the crime. Lizzie burned a dress, but she claimed there had been paint on it and so that is why she destroyed it. Uh huh. There was nothing to go on other than the fact that Lizzie and Bridget were at the house at the time of the murder and Lizzie was being evasive. But this isn't enough to convict anyone. The trial lasted 14 days. The jury acquitted Lizzie.

Although the case was circumstantial, it's hard not to believe that Lizzie perpetrated this crime. Her motive? Money would be a main factor as her father held onto it tightly and Lizzie wanted to spend it and Andrew had told people he was changing his will to make Abby sole heir and give nothing to his daughters. It was no secret that there were family issues as well. The killer would have had to have entered a locked home. The place was always locked and even if it were unlocked because Bridget was outside cleaning the windows, would she not have seen someone come into the house? Wouldn't Lizzie have heard the person come in and at least heard something as Abby fell and was bludgeoned? Then the killer would have had to have waited at least an hour for Andrew to get home. This person would have had to have hoped that no one would find Abby in the meantime. Clearly, Lizzie had lied about Abby running off to a neighbor's house since Abby never left the house. And Lizzie said she knew Abby had left because she had left a note, which was never found. Lizzie claimed that she had been in the loft of the barn looking for iron when the murder of her father occurred. The loft was thick with dust and no footprints were found. No one had been up there for some time. The only thing that brings some doubt is the question as to why Lizzie was not covered in blood, even if she had changed dresses or as some have theorized, killed in the nude. Was it possible that a stranger had commited the murders? And is there truth to the gossip that Andrew had an illigetimate son who was the axe wielder? We'll never know.

Lizzie and Emma moved from the house five weeks after Lizzie was acquitted. They bought a large home up on The Hill, which was the posh part of town, and named the home Maplecroft. Lizzie never married, but this could be because she may have been gay. On the seedy side of things, Lizzie met a beautiful actress named Nance O'Neil in Boston and it was rumored they carried on a long affair. And there are theories that Bridget and Lizzie were having an affair and the discovery of this might have prompted the murders. Lizzie died on June 1, 1927 at the age of 67. It was due to complications from gall bladder surgery.

The Lizzie Borden House has passed through several hands over the years, Lizzie and her sister sold it in 1918, and it has served many purposes. The home has been a boarding house, a printing business was once located inside as well as a toy shoppe, an insurance man lived in it as a home and today it is a Bed and Breakfast that doubles as a museum. Tours are offered and ghost cams have been installed for people to watch activity online. And why would there be ghost cams? Because this house is considered one of the most haunted homes in the country. And why wouldn't it be with an unsolved heinous crime involved?

Guests and employees of the Bed & Breakfast have all reported unexplained occurrences. A woman is heard softly weeping. The apparition of a woman in Victorian clothing is also seen. This spirit sometimes appears to be dusting furniture or straightening beds and this is while people are still in the beds. The typical opening and closing of doors happens and disembodied footsteps are heard in the hallways and on the stairs. Cold spots are felt throughout the house that seem to be more than just drafts. One visitor claimed that he entered his room and found it in an orderly fashion. He turned his back to the bed as he unpacked and when he turned around, he found the bed rumpled and indented as if a body were lying atop the bed. The pillow was indented as if a head were lying on it.

The rooms at the Bed & Breakfast each have distinct names, named after family members. One woman reported the following after her friend stayed in the Bridget Room:
"I just spoke to my friend in PA tonight, who stayed years ago in the Bridget room. She told me she awoke in the middle of the night and she felt as if someone was sitting on the end of the bed. She evidently turned on the light, and could see a depression where they were sitting."
Paranormal investigators have researched the home for years, including Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures. Many claim crazy activity in the basement. People have been pushed, scratched and cameras set up for recording have been physically moved by an unseen entity.

It may not just be Abby and Andrew haunting the place. Andrew's uncle had lived on the same property earlier in a house next door and his wife had tried to drown their children in the well, successfully killing two of the three, and then committed suicide by slicing her own throat with a straight razor. Is there an evil entity here that fed off the discourse in the family? Did it lead family members to kill each other?

Are the spirits of the Bordens still living in their home in the afterlife? Is there an evil spirit on this property? Did Lizzie Borden kill Andrew and Abby? Is the Lizzie Borden House haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show notes
Crime scene photos:
Official site for the Lizzie Borden House:

Monday, November 9, 2015

HGB Podcast, Ep. 81 - The Biltmore Estate

Moment in Oddity -The Little Woodcutter

A mysterious sculptor has been leaving his work around parts of Amsterdam. On January 30th in 1989, a little sculpture appeared in a tree in Vondlepark. The statue is diminutive, standing only 50 centimeters high. It is cast from bronze and depicts a man wearing work gear and leaning down with a saw in his hand. The saw is butted up against a branch as if the statue is attempting to cut the branch loose. He has been named "The Little Woodcutter." No one has claimed to be the creator of the art piece. No one saw the sculpture being installed, although Vondlepark sits across from one of Amsterdam's busiest squares. The piece was placed so securely that the tree has begun to grow around the woodcutter. The same sculptor has installed other works around Amsterdam that include several small men climbing the wall in the Anjelierstraat and a musician in the Town Hall. Why would a sculptor create works that he or she would not claim? Why place them secretly around a major international city? It certainly seems quite odd.

This Day in History - Coup of 18 Brumaire

On this day, November 9th, in 1799, the French Revolution effectively ended and Napoleon Bonaparte overthrew the government of the Directory and installed the Consulate in a bloodless coup d'état. It was officially called the Coup of 18 Brumaire. Brumaire was the second month in the French Republican Calendar. The day began with Napoleon's brother Lucien lying to the Directory about a coup in Paris. Most of the Directory resigned. Then Napoleon stormed the chamber of the Council of Ancients and after some resistance, they gave into his show of military force. He then moved onto the Council of 500 and they were very hostile. Napoleon was assaulted and nearly fainted. His military pulled him out. Lucien decided to lie again and he announced to the men guarding the Council of 500 that the Council was under attack. He pointed to Napoleon's bloody face for proof. The guards ran in and dispersed the Council and that was the end of the government. A constitution was drawn up giving Napoleon more power than either Council and he became Dictator.

The Biltmore Estate  (Research Assistant Steven Pappas)

Many people have heard of the Vanderbilt family. They are a family of Dutch origin that amassed a huge fortune in transportation through both shipping and the railroad. Their prominence lasted through to the mid 20th century and then the "Fall of the House of Vanderbilt" occurred. Many of their mansions and other properties were torn down, but one survives today and is considered the largest home in America, the Biltmore Estate. It is a beautiful home that housed George Vanderbilt II's family at one time. And it just may still house the family in the afterlife. Could it be that this impressive mansion is haunted? Come with us as we explore the history and hauntings of the Biltmore Estate.

In 1784, William Davidson and his family traveled over the Blue Ridge Mountains and so loved the area they found themselves in, that they decided to stay. Other settlers followed and within a year, a permanent settlement had been established that would come to be known as the city of Asheville. It was given that name in 1797 and was named for the then Governor, Samuel Ashe. As roads continued to bring people into the city, it began to flourish and soon became known as a resort town. The scenery here is breathtaking and it is no wonder that the area attracted George Vanderbilt.

George Vanderbilt II was born in November of 1862 in Staten Island New York to William Henry Vanderbildt and Maria Lousia Kissam. He was the youngest of the Vanderbilt children and by the time he reached his mid 20s he had inherited upwards of 12 million dollars from both his father and his grandfather. The Vanderbilt family had amassed the first real great fortune of the Industrial Age. They built mansions everywhere, picking prime real estate locations. It all started with Cornelius who used his business savvy to turn $100 into a great fortune through the steamship businnes and then the railroad. Cornelius was a bit of a scoundrel though. He was known to be illiterate and would curse and spit a lot and had a penchant for fondling the maids. After his wife died, he married his cousin who was 43 years his junior. At the time of his death, he had more money than the US Treasury. George's dad William would best his father, who thought he would be a failure, and doubled the family fortune that would equal $300 billion in today's dollars. The family would fall from these heights and a grandchild would eventually die penniless. It took only a generation for the family members to spend the family fortune. This is how oppulentantly and foolishly this family lived.

George's older brothers ran the family business and he was able to spend more time doing the things he loved. He worked the family farm and eventually took a short trip with his mother at age 26 to the Blue Ridge Mountains. They visited the town of Asheville and after falling in love with the area, he decided to build his country home there. Construction began on the Biltmore House the next year, in 1889, and would continue for 6 years. There were so many workers and the building took so long that Biltmore Village was created to house everyone. This was at the time, a state of the art company village. Today, it has become a wonderful shopping district with everything from antiques to galleries to restaurants to shops.

The Biltmore Estate was built in the French Renaissance style and designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt. By the time construction wrapped in 1895, it had 252 rooms, 33 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces, 3 kitchens 16 chimneys, a 12,000 foot carriage house (for his 20+ carriages), and was 178,926 square feet. This made it then, and still, the largest privately owned home in America. It was fixed with electricity, heat, elevators, and an intercom system, all of which were very rare luxuries at the time. George's bedroom as well as his wife's are both located on the second floor along with many extravagant guest rooms lining the halls filled with portraits and priceless works of art. There is a two story library on the first floor. It sits at the end of a 90 foot long tapestry gallery and housed over ten thousand volumes in various languages. George was an intellectual man and enjoyed sitting in the library and soaking in the knowledge these books possessed. The third and fourth floors housed the servants in 21 bedrooms as well as an observatory overlooking the blue ridge mountains.

There was a billiards room for men and women visiting the estate. In this room there was a standard pool table and comfortable seating to share drinks and company. More interesting though was a secret door in the room. No women or house servants were allowed to enter through this door. It took George and his guests to a smoking room for cigars and brandy as well as to the gun room where George's gun collection and trophies were on display. In the basement there was a 70,000 gallon swimming pool with heated water and lighting as well as a gym and one of the first private bowling alleys in the US. Also in the basement were many of the service rooms. Laundry was cooked here and food prepared in one of the two kitchens in the basement. they even had a form of refrigeration which was state of the art for the time.

In 1914, George passed away after complications from an appendectomy. He was 51 years old. The house was opened to the public in March of 1930 during the great depression. Visitors could come and tour the home during the day. This was a request by the city of Asheville to gain funds for tourism. They closed the doors in 1942 to house valuable artwork. The US feared an attack in Washington DC and transported 17 sculptures and 62 paintings to the Biltmore for safe keeping. Among these were the works of Rembrandt, Raphael, and the portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart. The house was eventually opened to the public again in 1956 and put on the national register of historic landmarks in 1964.  The home has appeared in various films including Forrest Gump, The Last of the Mohicans and Patch Adams.The home now houses an inn, a vineyard, shopping and dining options, and hosts more than one million visitors each year.

George loved his home and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Steven has been there and agrees that the area is gorgeous. He couldn't imagine anyone would ever want to leave. It would seem many people stick around, even after death. Those people include members of the Vanderbilt family. Many visitors to the Biltmore have heard a voice whispering the name "George" and many think this may be his wife whispering to her beloved husband. Many have also seen an unidentified woman in black. They say she is wailing, crying as if her heart is broken. No one knows for sure the identity of the woman in black. Some who work at the house have heard crying at night and have found a diary of a woman who lost two young children while living in the house. Could this be the mysterious woman in black? Is it George's wife?

The library seems to be a center for activity as well. Visitors have reported feeling a cold gust of wind on the back of their neck and getting dizzy and nauseated. Employees of the estate have reported seeing George himself sitting in a chair in the library on evenings when storms are rolling in. This would fit with his accounts of reading when it was not proper weather for riding. Many people say they feel an anxiety starting in the bowling alley and growing as you pass into the locker room. When they step into the pool area, many feel as though they are having a full blown panic attack. A few accounts also speak of a woman in black floating beneath the waters surface, but the pool has been drained for years, so how this is possible, we don't know. Some people even feel a violent feeling in the room and claim to hear splashing and children playing. There are a few accounts of folks feeling as though water was dripped onto their arms. There was a rumor that a child had drowned in the pool, but we were unable to find ANY records of this happening and most chalk it up to an urban legend. There still remains an eerie feeling in the room of being watched.

There are two areas in which I have had some feelings. The one that is reported on the most is the indoor pool. The pool has since been drained and is just a large indoor tile room. When I visited last time, I felt very uneasy in that room. I got sad and really felt like I needed to get out of there quickly. Luckily it was a self guided tour and I was able to step out and move on in the tour. I thought maybe I just was not feeling well, but on researching, this is the most commonly reported occurance in the home. I also got an uneasy feeling in the hall and kitchen area of the basement. This is also something people report often, which makes me think it is not just some coincidence. In fact, people report uneasiness all over the house as if they are being watched or as if they are intruding on this family's home.

The Biltmore Estate is a grand home and it would be hard to leave, even in death. Have some of the Vanderbilt family stayed on in the afterlife? Is the Biltmore Estate haunted? That is for you to decide.

Show notes:
The Fall of Vanderbilt

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

HGB Podcast, Ep. 80 - Legend of the Jersey Devil


Moment in Oddity - Black Blizzards

There was a time in the 1930s when blizzards blew across the heartland that were not the typical white snow blizzards. These storms were called black blizzards. Droughts had ravaged the country since 1931 and the topsoil had eroded and there was no moisture to hold it down. The results were what we commonly call the Dust Bowl. In 1934, a storm rose out of the Great Plains. It was a wall of dirt and dust and it gained strength as it traveled east. The wall rose to 10,000 feet high. The sun was completely blotted out and the air was suffocating. Three hundred and fifty million tons of dirt were captured in the cloud. Even the lights of New York were dimmed by this black blizzard for five hours. The storm had traveled 1500 miles. Ships out to sea even found dirt on their decks. Black blizzards are a meteorological phenomenon and a definite weather oddity.

This Day in History - The Cash Register Patented

On this day, November 4th, in 1879 James Ritty, a saloon owner, patents the first cash register. James was born on October 29, 1836, in Dayton, Ohio and had been a first lieutenant during the Civil War with the Fourth Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. After attaining the rank of Captain, he left to pursue other options and finally settled on saloon owner in 1871. Business was great, but James soon found that his employees were not honorable and they were stealing for him. He desired to find a way to keep them honest. He remembered seeing a machine on board a ship that counted how many times the propeller went around and he was convinced that this same type of machine could keep track of his sales. He asked his brother, who was a mechanic, to help him and by the time they were done, they had invented the first cash register. James called the machine "Ritty's Incorruptible Cashier." This original cash register did not have a cash drawer. It basically kept track of the sales and how much each sale was worth and thus he knew for sure if any employees were dipping into the cash. He started a company manufacturing the registers, but it was unsuccessful. Not many business owners were interested. James sold the patent and John H. Patterson turned James' invention into a fortune. In 1884, Patterson founded the National Cash Register Company. James went back to the bar business never knowing the impact his machine would have in merchandising.

Legend of the Jersey Devil (Research Assistant Philip Childers)

Many people, particularly those that live in New England, have heard the story about the Jersey Devil. The tale about a mother giving birth to a devil baby is not totally unique in history. Even in our modern era, we have had movies like Rosemary's Baby. Is this just another urban legend or is there some real history behind this tale of the Jersey Devil? Was this really more of a religious dispute that spawned a story to destroy a family name? We'll explore the superstitions that existed in the area around the idea that devil babies could be born and cover the various sightings that have continued far past what would be a reasonable life span. Come with us as we look at the legend of the Jersey Devil.

This legend begins with the Leeds family who lived in New Jersey in an area known today as Atlantic County. Atlantic County was once called Egg Harbor Township and its boundaries were mostly water: The Little Egg Harbor River to the north, the Great Egg Harbor River to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. The district was established in 1693. It was in this area that Daniel Leeds bought a piece of land that came to be known as Leeds Point and continues to have that name to this day. The Pine Barrens are also a part of this area that is today still a largely undeveloped forested area. Daniel Leeds had been born in 1651 in Stansted Mountfitchet, Uttlesford, Essex, England. His father immigrated to America and Daniel followed him in 1676, landing in Burlington, New Jersey. He had married a woman in England before he immigrated and it is believed that she died before he came. We were unable to identify any records about her.

After moving to Burlington, he married Ann Stacey in 1681. It is believed that Daniel worked as a councilor to Lord Cornbury during this time. Lord Cornbury was Edward Hyde, 3rd Earl of Clarendon. He became the Governor of New York and New Jersey from 1701-1708 and apparently had a penchant for cross dressing. Some of Daniels' duties included surveying the land. In the same year that they married, the Leeds had a daughter that they named for his wife Ann. It was shortly after the birth of baby Ann that Daniel lost his second wife. The baby soon followed her in death. It would take only a year for Daniel's heart to be stolen again and he married Dorothy Young in 1683. The two had eight children together. It was at this point that Daniel bought the future Leeds Point, which was considered the highest point of land between the Highlands and Capes of Virginia.

In 1687, Daniel began publishing an almanac. He was a Quaker and so came from a religious background that had broken away from the Church of England and believed in a more personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Quakers considered themselves all to be of the priesthood and at this time were very pious and not open to other belief systems, particularly if they were intermingled with their own. Daniel had found that astrology was an asset to his writing for the almanac, so he included it in his almanac. Most of his friends were Quakers and they heartily disagreed with Daniel going this route. When William Bradford published the almanac, the Quakers began to call it pagan and destroyed all the copies that were not already in circulation. Daniel took this very hard, left the religion and began more extensive work on his almanac. He continued publishing almanacs until 1716 and then he turned over the operation to his sons Felix and Titan.

In 1688, Daniel published the Temple of Wisdom. The book dealt with topics ranging from angels to natural magic to astrology to the behavior of devils. Rumors were widespread that the Leeds family were dealing with things of the Devil and they themselves could be cursed. Things get so bad that George Fox, who founded Quakerism, wrote an answer to the Temple of Wisdom called "Satan's Harbinger Encountered." The pamphlet actually accuses Daniel Leeds of  working with the Devil. Daniel's third wife, Dorothy, passed away in 1699. Daniel married a fourth woman, Jane Abbot-Smout, who had been twice widowed herself.

The battle between the Quakers and the Leeds continued until 1716 when Daniel handed everything over to his sons. And then something peculiar happened that might have helped fuel the legend further. Titan redesigned the almanac and added the Leeds Family crest, which was a dragon-like creature with bat wings and claws. Daniel died in 1720 and there is no record that he and his fourth wife had any children. Titan gets into a feud with Benjamin Franklin in the 1730s. Most likely because each man produced a competing almanac. Franklin claimed that he had a premonition that Titan would die on October 17th in 1733. Titan actually died in 1738, but Franklin continued to mock him even after his death. It was after Titan's death that the legend of the Jersey Devil was born.

The Pine Barrens that we mentioned earlier are the home for the Jersey Devil tales and sightings. The Little Egg Harbor River is known today as the Mullica River. The cedars that line the river stain it a blood red, giving it an eerie tinge. The area is full of bogs from which iron has been harvested. This helped in the production of ammunition during the Revolutionary War. It's easy to believe that a bizarre creature could be inhabiting these woods that also play home to the legendary White Stag.

The common tale that is told about the birth of the Jersey Devil is that a woman named Mother Leeds gave birth to the Jersey Devil in 1735. To match this with the true history we know, this would be a grandchild to Daniel Leeds. Japhet Leeds was married to a woman named Deborah and he named twelve children in his will. Possibly, they were the parents of the child of legend. Mother Leeds already had twelve children and this would be her thirteenth. She was not pleased. She was poor and couldn't feed the children she already had, so she declared, "Let it be a devil!" When the child was born, it was horribly deformed or became horribly deformed before several witnesses and actually crawled away from the womb and up the chimney. Some accounts claim the creature attacked a couple of people before escaping.

The Jersey Devil is described as looking like a horse with huge leathery bat wings, horns, forked tail and clawed front legs that are very short. Its eyes glow red. The creature gives off a blood curdling scream. Sightings of the Jersey Devil foretell bad things coming. Shipwrecks and storms follow sightings. The first documented sighting occurred in 1859. There was another in 1873 and another in 1880. Even Napoleon's brother claimed to have seen the creature while hunting. In 1909, sightings took off and thousands were reported, many of them landing in the Philadelphia Record. The reports started in January when a man named Zack Cozzens reported seeing it on a roadside. He described the experience by saying: "I first heard a hissing sound. Then, something white flew across the street. I saw two spots of phosphorus--the eyes of the beast.... It was as fast as an auto." Animal mutilations followed sightings.

After that year, no one reported seeing the Jersey Devil until 1927 and then the tale seemed to go dead until 1951 when a young boy claimed to see the monster outside his window, dripping in blood. After that, people claimed to hear unearthly cries coming from the forest. In 1966, Steven Silkotch's farm was apparently visited by the Jersey Devil and his animals were torn apart. People venture to Leeds Point to catch a glimpse of the creature and there are still claims that something is living in those woods that is not a common woodland animal.

Devil babies have cropped up in many legends. The Jersey Devil is not unique. In New Orleans, there was the Devil Baby of Bourbon Street and there was the Devil Baby of Hull House, which we visited in Chicago and talked about on that podcast. Stories abound of the Devil impregnating women and giving birth to his spawn. Popular culture has given us Rosemary's Baby and Damien of the Omen. But is there any truth to these stories and why did people believe that the Devil could impregnate women. The theories would have to originate in the Bible with the Nephilim. In the Bible, the fallen angels that took sides with Lucifer are believed to have desired women and taken them as wives before the Great Flood. Those women gave birth to the Nephilim, who were the giants and men of renown. So they would have basically been devil babies. So they could be very real depending on your belief system. The Great Flood was mainly meant to destroy these creatures. The Christians in New England would be familiar with these stories and so superstitions and legends would easily be started. Most of these legends about devil babies seem to have taken hold in the 1800s when so many other beliefs and ideas about the spirit world began.

Then there is the very real possibility of birth defects. In our current era, we have seen everything and know about all the various medical conditions that could make a baby appear to be some kind of monster. Could it be that children that were accused of being the Devil's spawn were really just normal human beings who got a bad break in the gene pool? Eugenics was taking root during this same time and there was a very popular call to get rid of those that were less than perfect. America has a very dark history, just as most of the world does, when it comes to people who were born different. Freak shows cropped up everywhere, giving these people who were different in some way, a place to call home and be gawked at by those who didn't understand genetics. The Jersey Devil could very well have been a deformed child that was hidden away and rumors were started.

Was the Jersey Devil just a tall tale? Was the Jersey Devil just a hoax? Is this just yet another urban legend? Was this story spawned by a group of people out to ruin the good name of the Leeds family? We may never know, but we wouldn't recommend walking through the Pine Barrens alone. Does the Jersey Devil exist? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:
Sources on Daniel Leeds: