Tuesday, June 28, 2016

HGB Ep. 133 - McMenamins Edgefield

Moment in Oddity - The Crooked Forest of Poland

There is a forest in Poland that looks like something straight out of a Brian Froud illustration. One look at Poland's Crooked Forest and a person could believe that faeries are real and flitting about between the trees. The trees of this forest are not only weirdly bent, hence the name "Crooked," but they all bend in the same direction and the bend in their trunk is very low to the ground. There are around 400 trees here and they were all planted around 1930. Even more peculiar is the fact that this forest of trees is surrounded by a bigger forest of trees with perfectly straight trunks. It is believed that the trees were purposefully grown this way, perhaps to be used in boat making. But the outbreak of World War II has left whoecver was tending the grove and the purpose they had for the trees a mystery. But is this really something man-made? Could something paranormal have bent these trees this way? Perhaps some kind of energy field?We know Occum's Razor should cause us to lean to the man-made explanation, but isn't it more fun to believe that Faeries and gods got in a fight and this crooked forest was the result? So the forest might have been man-made, but even so, the Crooked Forest certainly is odd!

This Day in History - WWI Begins and Ends Five Years Apart
By: April Rogers-Krick

On this day, June 28th, in 1914, World War I began and on this day June 28th, in 1919, World War I came to end. Austrian Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to Austria-Hungary, and his wife Sofia, were assassinated in Sarajevo, Bosnia, by a Serbian nationalist. It happened as the royal couple rode through the streets of Sarajevo in an open touring car. Seven young radicals from an obscure Serbian-Bosnian nationalist group, called the Black Hand, lay in wait. An initial assassination attempt failed, but a wrong turn brought the car near Gavrilo Princip, who fired two shots at point-blank range into the Austrian Archduke and his wife. Within minutes, both were dead. Princip was arrested, but political tensions were so high between Austria-Hungary and Serbia that war broke out as a result. International alliances brought one country after another into the conflict. This is the event that triggered World War I. Five years of pure hell ensued. Many different forms of fighting and weapons were used in battle. World War I was the first major war in which airplanes were used as a significant part of the military. Trench warfare was one of the most harsh ways of fighting used in the battle.  Trenches were muddy, cold, and full of water. Soldiers were exposed to the elements. In the winter, temperatures in the trenches would fall below zero causing frostbite and the loss of toes and fingers. Soldiers were also exposed to diseases and sickness mostly carried by black and brown rats, but lice and other rodents contributed to the decline of health of soldiers. Along with illness, there was a limited amount of food and daily necessities. The harsh ways of trench warfare resulted in thousands of casualties. Besides firearms and grenades, chemicals were used. Chemical warfare was a major component of the first global war and first war of the twentieth century. Those chemicals included tear gas and the horrendous mustard gas. On June 28, 1919 the Treaty of Versailles, a peace treaty between Germany and the Allied Powers, was signed effectively ending the war exactly five years to the day that it began.

McMenamins Edgefield (Suggested by listener Jonathan Fishleder, Research Assistant Lynsey Smith)

McMenamins Edgefield is located in Troutdale, Oregon and it is an historic hotel that features a little bit of everything from fine dining to concerts to a movie theater to a distillery and brewery to a spa and golf.  The spot once housed the county poor farm and as we know from prior experience with other podcasts, these locations sometimes leave an essence of negativity that lead to hauntings. There are several spirits here and some of them seem to be hitchhiking ghosts like our infamous friends at the Haunted Mansion. We are joined on today's episode by our listener Jonathan Fishleder as he shares his visit to the location, the creepy feelings and experience that he had while there and how one of those entities decided to follow him home and what he did to get rid of it! Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of McMenamins Edgefield!

The area that would become the city of Troutdale, Oregon is located at the confluence of the Sandy and Columbia Rivers. Lt. Broughton and his crew discovered this spot in 1792. The first settlers would not lay stakes here until 1850 and one of those men was founder David F. Buxton. Former sea captain John Harlow planned out the town and built a trout farm. He called his farm Troutdale anf eventually the town would take that name. Harlow convinced the railroad to build a line near his farm, so he could ship his fish and that really established the town. His wife platted out the town after his death in 1883. The city really started building up in 1890. The city was incorporated in 1907. *Fun Fact: In the 1920s, Troutdale was known as the Celery Capital of the World.

Poor houses cropped up in many cities as a place to house the less desirables in a city. Portland had built Hillside Farm in their West Hills to house the disabled, ill and poor. Over time, the place had deteriorated and after an inspection in 1910, it was decided that a new place needed to be built. Multnomah County Commissioners chose Troutdale for the new poor house and they planned to make it a place that was more progressive. Their goal was to help the poor become more self-sufficient by running a farm. The farm would cover 345 acres and was opened in 1911. Originally, there was a main building with several outbuildings. There was also a pig farm and dairy.

The first people to move onto the farm were called inmates and there were 211 of them. Later, the term resident would be used, rather than inmates. The residents were divided into two groups. The group that worked in the fields would be rewarded with meat three times a day. Those that did not work only got meat at one meal. The Multnomah County Poor Farm was a huge success. Within three years there were 225 chickens, 100 Duroc hogs, a large herd of Holstein dairy cows, 420 Plymouth Rock hens, lots of crops, eggs, fruit, grain and twenty-seven acres of potatoes. The farm was able to feed all of its residents, patients at the county hospital, inmates at the jail and surplus was sold to markets.

The Great Depression brought the population at the poor farm to 600. It was overpopulated and to compensate, closets were turned into rooms and three or more people were put in each room. Many talented people were here and they turned the basement into a bazaar of sorts where they could sell their handiwork and people from all over Portland came to buy. World War II and President Roosevelt's New Deal would pull many of the workers from the farm and soon the only people left were the disabled and sick.

Some of the land was laid aside in 1959 and a county jail was built and the inmates were unwilling to work in the fields. The animals had to be sold and the farmland was leased out. The grand farm was falling into disrepair. In 1964, the main building was transformed into a nursing home and the name officially became Edgefield. In 1982, the nursing home was closed and everything was left abandoned. In its seven decades, all types of people had passed through the doors and each of them just needed extra help to make it in life. Two of those personalities were Frankie of "Frankie and Johnny" notoriety and the nephew of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson. He turned 100 while living at Edgefield.

Edgefield did not do well while it was abandoned. Vandals would break in and spray paint graffiti on the walls and steal whatever they could get their hands on, basically wreaking havoc on the property. As the buildings fell apart, they became dangerous and this was a huge liability for the county. They decided that the best decision would be to demolish the buildings. But the Troutdale Historical Society stepped in and they fought to stop the demolition. It took five years, but they saved the decrepit site. Now they had to find somebody who would want to buy the property. Microbrew pioneer brothers Mike and Brian McMenamin wanted to dip their toes in the hotel business and they saw the poor farm as a great place to start their business. People, mainly bankers, were a bit confused because McMenamins was associated with neighborhood pubs, not hotels.

The brothers got financing and they started with a winery, which was completed in 1990. In 1991, they added the brewery, a movie theater, Power Station Pub and eight rooms. Early success helped the brothers to renovate the main lodge and it was reopened with many more hotel rooms, a spa, a fine dining establishment and specialty bars. Later came artisan shops, gardens, a golf course and an area for concerts. What makes McMenamins unique is the fact that artists were set loose on the place. Every surface now has an artistic flourish celebrating the rich past of the site. Something more from that rich past lingers though. Based on the countless experiences we are going to share with you on this episode, it is clear that this is a very haunted and very actively haunted place. We'll share the experiences of guests and employees and then our listener Johnathan will join us to give you a first hand journey into the creepy and supernatural side of McMenamins Edgefield.

A housekeeper reported, "I was doing housekeeping about a month ago and I was standing at the foot of the bed when suddenly I felt ‘something' firmly grab my ankle and not let go until I jumped away. I looked under the bed and there was nothing. Freaked me out a little." Another housekeeper entered a room she had cleaned earlier and found the pillows tossed around. Earlier, the guest in that room had told the front desk that she awoke to find someone standing over her bed. Alison, a wine server, said “I have seen a nurse in the hallway upstairs (from the winery) and it was 11 o’clock in the morning. I was just walking with a bucket and I saw this 60s (styled woman), I could tell she had a little hat on. I could tell she had pantyhose on, that’s how clear she was.  And she was just walking and you couldn’t see keys but it looked like she was holding keys and she was coming this way and she kinda turned and she looked like she was going to open a door and then just vanished,” Berliner said about the full apparition she described as “obviously a nurse.” She also had the following experience: “I was walking on the west end, in between the second and third floor. I had had a couple of glasses of wine, I’ll admit that. It was my birthday. I was walking in where the mural of them handing the residents their sheets and stuff is, and I was really deep in thought about what these people must have gone through and how they felt, and right as I was thinking that, I didn’t see anything, but this energy went right through my chest. Took my breath completely away. I actually started hyperventilating. I was like ‘Oh my God, did it leave me?’ and I started shaking my hands and was like ‘Oh God, please let it be out of my body.’ I couldn’t tell."

Another guest reported to the staff that they were awakened by something tapping on her chest in the middle of the night and another guest wrote, "I felt a quick breeze and the strongest sweet scent came over me. It smelled like flowers, kind of perfume-like. . . . I lay in bed for an hour and saw shadows dancing on the walls, the ceiling and the window. Spirits were flying around the room - it was a great encounter." Another guest had a very unwanted encounter while taking a shower. She reported, "I was taking a shower then all of a sudden I felt a hand grab my butt. I screamed and grabbed my towel to dry off and get my clothes on. Right as I spotted my shirt, it flew up in the air!" Robin had the following encounter:  "My husband and I were married at Edgefield in August '09. As we were packing up and getting ready to leave, I wanted to take a picture of the inscription on the wall about the who the room was dedicated for. I lifted my camera, and before I put my finger on the shutter, the camera took a picture. Thankfully, my husband witnessed it happen, so I know I wasn't losing it! Awesome ending to an incredible event!"

AlexSandra McNabb reported, "My husband and I frequently go to Edgefield to just look around and catch a movie after dinner. One time when we were just wandering around the place we got in the elevator. This was before we were married, and as soon as the doors closed he started kissing me passionately. During the kiss, I felt someone grab a bunch of hair and pull! It was NOT my husband (his hands were nowhere near my head!). I sensed an older woman who was displeased with such a graphic display of private moments in a "public" place. Freaked me out at the time, but laugh about it now." Teresa S. wrote, "I was at Edgefield before you bought it. We had a company party there. I had no idea it was haunted at that time. I left the ballroom to find the ladies room and ended up looking at a wonderful mural of the history of the place (I hope its still there) I turned to find a janitor with an old rag mop in the hall and it smelled like someone was burning matches. I asked for the ladies room and he looked at me and pointed down the hall. I went where he directed me and it was really cold and no bathroom anywhere. I went back where I came from and he wasn't around so I went back to the ballroom and asked one of the hostess and she pointed me in the "right" direction and I told her about the Janitor and she said that was not a real janitor, and this place was haunted...I have not been able to come back no matter how curious I am about your renovations....Maybe one day."

Denise wrote after staying at Edgefield, "Just last weekend, 10-7-11, we spent the night at Edgefield. In the middle of the night while I was asleep a old man was standing over my bed wanting to shake my hand and I kept asking him what he wanted and he had to go (in my dream) and he just wanted to shake myhand, I finally shook his hand he smiled and I woke up...I am convinced I was visited by a spirit that lived there." Jennifer took pictures when visiting Edgefield and she was shocked to find the pictures erased. She said, "Summer of 2009 my bf and I spent the day enjoying the city taking pictures and visiting historical sites like the Edgefield. Upon reviewing the day's pictures at the end of the night, every single picture that we had taken inside the hotel had been erased while all the other pictures from the day remained. Nobody but myself had access to the camera, weird."

Debbie Wilson reported, "I have been going out to edgefield since I was 15 years old, and the house that used to be a boys home back in the1980s has always been creepy... and I know that its old land, and alot went on there before then, but my boyfriend, and I were walking around one night a while back it wasnt summer yet we snapped pictures all over thats what I always do hoping to get something, anything an orb, or a face,mist perhaps, but we were leaving the parking lot, and i was bummed not to get a thing. so I turned one last time to snap the house I was parked by, just one last shot i said, and looked at it and saw fog and a face of some kind in the middle of it, it freaked me out I just knew there would be nothing there again, and there it was everyone could see it that I showed it to, and then I lost the disk from my camera but if i ever find it i will post it its freaky!!!! and i will be out there again snapping away!!! I am waiting to get a pic of those old rocking chairs on the old creepy porches lol I will I'm sure lol!!!"

Renee wrote, "In 2010, My husband and i were staying at the Edgefield on the third floor in a corner room. After a night of dinner and fun we returned to the room to sleep. the next morning my husband asked why i had to get up last night and where i had went. i told him that i did not leave all night. he said that he thought it was me pushing off the bed, putting on the white robe and leaving. my husband told me that he could feel the pressure of weight in the middle of the king size bed, he thought it was me that had gotten up and layed back down. IT WASN'T ME! We have been back to the Edgefield on two other occassions. What fun..." and Cindy reported, "The second time that I stayed, I was in the shower and it felt like finger gently stroked my front shoulder blade. It wasn't a scary or mean presence. In October 2011, the last time that my husband and I stayed, we were both sleeping and at about 2 in the morning it sounded as though a large block of wood landed on the floor in our room. Neither of us realized that the other had heard it. When we talked about it in the morning, we noticed that there was a large carpet and couch on the floor where we heard the sound (we both heard it in the same location. We can't wait to go back in April!!!!! We LOVE this place and it definitely has spirits!!!"

An Anonymous person wrote, "I was at the Edgefield yesterday with my family to attend a wedding, and after the ceremony when the wedding guests were about to enjoy the wedding feast, I suddenly felt very groggy and fell out of my chair. {Good thing hardly anyone noticed when it happened.} Maybe whatever is haunting the Edgefield wanted to crash the wedding by pushing a guest out of his or her reception seat. {lol} Later, when my sister & I checked out the Edgefield's gift shop, I needed to use the bathroom, but had to hurry on out of there because I felt like I was being watched. It was creepy!" Justin stayed in the 90s and wrote, "Stayed at Edgefield one night back in late 90s during a company christmas party. Did not know the place was reputed to be haunted, and didn't believe in such things anyways. However as my wife and I were gettting ready to go to bed, I distinctly recall the strong presence of an elderly lady sitting in the room with us. I never get weird feelings like that (and never have again to this day). It was so strong I hesitated to disrobe for bed, and I even examined the room, wondering why my mind was insisting something was there when it wasn't. My wife remarked that she felt like we were being watched, which is an unusual statement from her. Oddly enough, it was a friendly, almost grandmotherly feeling, and I felt no fear or creepiness at all. Years later when I found out about the reputation and past of the hotel, it rattled me. Still does. Don't remember the room number, but it was on the ground floor and looking out the window, facing west, you can see the main entry way staircase."

Deanzie wrote, "I have also been haunted when I unwittingly stayed in a room on the third floor at the Edgefield in Troutdale (McMennamin's). When we got our room, I tried opening the closet door for extra pillows, but the door was locked. I then realized that there was a standing wardrobe in the room that had these items. Later that night, as my husband and I went to sleep, my head was on my pillow, and I heard an "unlocking" sound very loudly in my ear, like my ear was right up against a door. Shortly afterward, I heard creaky footsteps circling the bed. At the time, I was dismissive, and thought it was someone walking above our room. Even my husband woke up with a start, because the sound of the footsteps were so immediate. We both managed to sleep, but the next morning, we realized that there were no rooms above us, and no rooms were immediately next to ours. We were at the South end of the main hallway on the third floor. I think it was #304.
When I went back to work, I mentioned the event to my boss, who is familiar with The Edgefield (lots of interesting history to the place), and he described the shape of the slanted locked closet in the room, which I confirmed, and he said that that room was haunted. He reminded me of one of the paintings in the building that I clearly remember of one of the guest rooms showing a slanted closet with the door open, and in the blackness, there are a pair of eyes. I wasn't frightened during the event, and even the painting, the eyes themselves didn't look nasty, but that was quite memorable for me," and Kelly said, "I stayed in room #330 last night with two girlfriends. We came to Edgefield to see the FUN concert and stayed the night afterwards. I had a "sleep paralysis" moment in our room at about 2:30 in the morning. I could see something by the door and I was scared but I couldn't move. I yelled out because I was scared and one of my girlfriends woke me up. I've never had a "sleep paralysis" episode before. I also felt something grab my foot but I am not sure if I was dreaming or not. Then later in the night, at about 4:00 or 5:00 am, I heard bees buzzing loudly all over the room but didn't see any bees. I thought it was weird but went back to sleep. When we all woke up I told my friends and when one of them went into the hallway to go use the bathroom she saw that the murals outside of our room had bees everywhere. In one picture a woman is sitting in a rocking chair with a beehive on her head. I thought that was really creepy and I hadn't noticed the mural at all the night before. Fun and scary at the same time! Definitely going back again!"

Arline had an experience in 2010, "On 9/12/2010 - My husband, sister in law and I stayed and wondered the grounds late at night in search of paranormal activity. We took pics all over the place and caught some "mists" in the garden areas that couldn't be explained. We came around the corner of one of the restaurant terraces that sits below balcony's with two stairs cases on each side (don't remember the name) and felt something, so my husband snapped a few photos and caught a very compelling white mist/streak that is very "compelling". I would love to post but this only allows comments? Then I was walking down the hall from the room to the outside glass doors and I saw something small kinda like a white object run past the door on the "outside", it was short. When I walked thru the doors nothing was around? Very Cool place hope to return someday." Tammy wrote, "My husband and I just returned from the New Year's Eve 2014 party at the Edgefield.  We had a fabulous time!  We stayed three nights and had three experiences.  We were in room 203.  Our first night I walked to the bathroom and I saw an old man who was dressed like a janitor - black pants, black shoes, and white shirt like a uniform.  He had large black framed glasses.  He was crouching near the floor in what was a phone nook next to the ladies lounge.  He was in such a strange place and position that I stopped and looked at him kind of waiting to see if he needed help.  I smiled at him and he smiled back so I went into the ladies room.  When I came out just a moment later he was gone without a trace.  The next morning, I realized that the housekeeping staff had no such uniform and was certain he was a spirit.  I was completely blown away when I came home and read other encounters that happened in this same area near the beautiful mural between the second and third floors. We noticed nothing our second night but our third night, my husband and I were playing scrabble in our room and a very loud voice sounded like someone clearing their throat right behind me!  My husband and I both froze and he swore the sound was right behind me.  The rest of the night was pretty quiet, but the next morning I was brushing my teeth in that same bathroom and I swear there was a dog in the room with me!  There is no sound that can duplicate the sound of dog feet on a wood floor and that is what I heard.  I turned around and there was nothing there.  I even reached down to see if I could feel anything, but there was nothing there.  I stood there a moment and then said "you're a good dog aren't you." Then there was more nails clicking on the wood floor in a more excited kind of way.  I was very justified in my experience when I read the stories about a dog haunting the second floor!  Our encounters were friendly and very memorable!"

Sara wrote, "I stayed at Edgefield in Dec 2013 and my boyfriend and I went to sleep very early on purpose so that we could wake up in the middle of the night and hopefully catch some ghostly activity. We woke up around 1 am and we had only one lamp one and the said lamp turned off by itself, which at the time was not enough to convince me. We eventually went back to sleep. I then woke up not that long after I had fallen asleep to the sound and sensation of someone tap-tap-tapping on the mattress next to my head. We stayed in room 231, the Kazoo Kats suite, and since I am a devout cat lover, my thoughtful boyfriend took a picture of our door for me but the photo he took was black with dark purple stripes all across it. He was dumbfounded as he had never seen his camera behave that way and it was his father's camera before him and he never had any trouble with the camera either. I am convinced that Edgefield is haunted. I literally cannot wait to go back!" Ginger reported, "Oct 2014: I just stayed in room #310 two nights ago with my guy. I was in a dream state and felt the presence of something laying between us in bed. It was communicating with me and was gray in shape and color, and the energy of a woman. She floated away and woke both of us up at the same time at 3am. We didn't know until now that Edgefield has the reputation of being haunted."

Kristen wrote, "My friends and I started staying at the Edgefield for our cheap time away with just the girls....aka....heated mineral pool and wine. We were staying this past October 17, 2014 in room 39. We decided to use a ghost radar app to see what or who would come through. We received communication from" Warren" saying he was very poor (which makes sense considering what the building use to be). The next morning when we were getting ready to go to breakfast I couldn't find my hair brush. I dumped my purse out on the bed and literally shook it to make sure everything was out of it. I told my friends that they should go ahead of me to the restaurant for breakfast because I wanted to take one more look for my brush. Right after they left I went my purse....my brush was sitting on top of everything in my bag. I hadn't left my purse from the time I dumped it out and my friends were never close to my purse to put it in there. I think Warren was having a little fun or earlier he had messy hair." Sally-Ann said, "Spent a wonderful Christmas at the Edgefield 2014 with my husband.  It is not our first visit here but very excited to have a queen suite in the winery wing.  I have experienced para normal activity before in my life but this has been a first time at the Edgefield.  I am a light sleeper, and was on my left side, I awoke startled by someone peeling back the covers to completely expose my shoulder followed by a puff of icy breeze, I immediately rolled over to find my husband facing the opposite direction and snoring contentedly.  I woke him up and asked if he would stay awake for a while with me as I was freaked out and could not return to sleep. It was most definitely an eerie sensation and awareness that something else was there at that moment."

A family lives on property that was once part of Edgefield and they have been having haunting issues as well. Kimberley B. said, "My 5-year old and my husband were mentioning today, about how the property we live on (which was once part of the Multnomah Co. poor farm and is up the hill from Edgefield), is haunted. My husband said every once in a while, he'll get the sensation of his ankle being grabbed. And then my daughter mentioned how she sometimes feels her hair being tugged, or someone poking her shoulder while she is coloring. I've had moments, where I will walk in my home, feel a poke in the hip (as if I brushed up against an object), but when I look back, nothing is there. It reminded me though, of how my daughter was when she was between the ages of 1 1/2 and 3 1/2. I would always catch her in her room, talking to herself. At the hype of all these ghost shows, I sat down, and asked her a little more about it. She said that she was speaking to the "black guy" and the "white lady". I asked her what they looked like, and she described the black man wearing "dark clothes and dirt on top of his shoes". The white lady wore a white dress and a white hat. After a period of skepticism, I wrote into Edgefield, to ask if there was any information they could provide. (Because what year and a half year old describes a man wearing dirty clothes like that?) I was told that aside from apparations of a nurse, that there was also a black man that had wandered off the property, and when he was found, he had become trapped in a barbed wire fence and had died. I ask my daughter about it now, and she excuses it as an imaginary friend. But with the pokes here and there, you have to wonder."

With all these personal experiences, it's easy to believe that something is going on here. But is this paranormal activity? Could it just be residual energy? Could it be overactive imaginations? Is McMenamins Edgefield haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:
Oregon Encyclopedia –Poor Farm Edgefield
Poor House History – with links to Gov’t Documents
Mult Co Crops History Walking Guide
Photo Timeline and Official Website

Rm. 215 is the room reported to be most haunted.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

HGB Ep. 132 - Occidental Hotel

Moment in Oddity - The Williamson Tunnels
by: Bob Sherfield

In the Edge Hill area of Liverpool in England, lie a series of tunnels named for the man who created them, eccentric Victorian business man Joseph Williamson. Williamson had made his money in tobacco and snuff and now he had bought an area of Liverpool that was an undeveloped area of sandstone. He planned to build eccentric homes of "the strangest description” and without seemingly any rational planning behind them. The land was on a slope and in order to provide good size gardens, because of the slope and the quarrying, arches and terraces were constructed. Williamson was a strange cookie who had his workers do busy work like moving rocks from one area to another and then having them move the rocks back. He then had them build the Williamson Tunnels, a labyrinth of brick lined tunnels through out the sandstone, running in various directions and over different lengths. The tunnels seemed to have no point. In 1867, a local newspaper, the Liverpool Porcupine, ran an article in which it described the tunnels as a nuisance that seemed to only act as drains creating a cess pool 15 ft deep. Over the years the tunnels became filled with debris and despite a series of excavations by the West Lancashire Territorial forces in the early 20th century, a 1995 study by Liverpool University using a micro gravity study, and a further private investigation, no one could figure out the length of the tunnels. What has been discovered and cleared includes an area known as “The banqueting hall”, which is 70 feet long and 25 feet wide and 20 high, a double tunnel, and a triple decker tunnel. To this day, no one knows why Williamson ordered the building of the tunnels. He was by his nature secretive, and it has been speculated that his motivations may have been driven by the fact that he was a member of an extremist religious sect and the tunnels were his way of providing a means of shelter during the Apocalypse he believed was coming. Williamson claimed that he was simply providing work. Spending the money and energy to build tunnels with no purpose, certainly is odd!

This Day in History - The Winnie Mae Starts Round World Trip
by: April Rogers-Krick

On this day, June 23rd, in 1931, Wiley Post and navigator Harold Gatty took off for a Round the World flight in the Winnie Mae, a single engine airplane owned by Oklahoma oil baron F.C. Hall. Wiley Post, one of the most celebrated pilots in aviation history, predicted that he could complete the first ever round the world trip in an airplane, in just ten days. He enlisted the help of Australian navigator Harold Gatty. While Gatty plotted a route, Post made several changes to the Winnie Mae. He improved the instrument panel, installed adjustable seats, and added a special navigation station. On June 23, Post and Gatty took off from Roosevelt Field on Long Island, New York with a flight plan that would take them around the world. During their trip, Post and Gatty faced some serious challenges, which included getting bogged down in a muddy field and a bent propeller they hammered back into place. They made several stops along the way in many countries before landing at Roosevelt Field. On July 1, 1931, in just 8 days, 15 hours, and 51 minutes Post and Gatty completed the trip round the world. The reception they received everywhere they went was huge. They had lunch at the White House on July 6, rode in a ticker tape parade the next day in New York City, and were honored at a banquet given by the Aeronautical Chamber of Commerce of America at the Hotel Astor. After the flight, Wiley Post was able to purchase the Winnie Mae from F.C. Hall. Post and Gatty published an account of their journey in a book titled Around the World in Eight Days. The book included an introduction by Post best friend, Will Rogers.

Occidental Hotel (Suggested by listener Sarah Gunther, Research Assistant Steven Pappas)

The Occidental Hotel is a historic hotel in the town of Buffalo, Wyoming. The area is a place that has seen gold diggers come through during the Gold Rush and people making their way West on the Oregon Trail. Outlaws have been through as well as heroes of the American West. And a well known battle of class warfare took place here during the days of cattlemen. The town is also the setting for A & E's drama "Longmire." The Occidental Hotel was in the middle of much history, but after a steady decline for the town, it almost was lost to the wrecking ball. Today, it has been restored to a grand hotel once again, giving guests a chance to go back in time to the old west. And just like so many tales of the West, this one has a ghosts story or two. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the Occidental Hotel!

The state of Wyoming was the home of several nomadic Plains tribes. The fondness European men had for beaver felt hats brought trappers to the state. Soon the Gold Rush would bring people coming through Wyoming on the Oregon Trail and forts were needed for protection. Settlers came and in 1869 the Wyoming Territory was established. The territory began petitioning for statehood in 1888 and in 1890, President Benjamin Harrison signed Wyoming into statehood and it became the 44th state. Many listeners probably know this, but women got the vote for the first time in Wyoming. Women's suffrage was established in 1869 in Wyoming and the first vote was cast by Mrs. Louisa Swain in Laramie. *Fun fact: Diane lived in Wyoming for four months.*

The Big Horn Mountains stretch from the Great Basin and plains of Wyoming north into Montana. At the base of those mountains sits the town of Buffalo, Wyoming. It's the county seat for Johnson County where the Johnson County War occurred. The bulk of this war took place in 1892. Wyoming was basically public domain and people were flocking there to homestead. The larger farmers and ranchers ruled the area with a system called Prior Appropriation. Large cattle companies did not like having competition from small ranchers that were homesteading and they started monopolizing the land. These larger ranchers even hired gunmen to wipe out the competition. The smaller ranchers joined forces with some of Wyoming's lawmen and formed a posse. There was a long standoff and finally the United States Cavalry came in and ended the war. This was one of the most well known range wars of the Wild West.

The Occidental Hotel sat at the foot of the Bighorn Mountains and was located not too far off of the Bozeman Trail. This allowed for many travelers to visit and stay at the hotel on their journeys through the west. John Jacobs and John Bozeman decided that they wanted to create a trail that would make travel from the Oregon Trail to Montana easier. Their trail went through Wyoming up into Montana and was shorter. There was more water along the trail and it was very attractive to covered wagons. The trail was named for John Bozeman. There was one issue with the trail and that was the fact that it traveled through land that the Cheyenne and Lakota hunted buffalo upon. There were a few issues and the government tried to make motions for some kind of peace treaty, which went horribly wrong when Col. Henry Carrington came to construct three forts along the trail. He was joined by Capt. William Fetterman. In 1866, he took a force to engage with the Lakota tribe headed by Red Cloud after a group of woodcutters were attacked. Red Cloud ambushed the military group with several other tribes and the group of 80 were killed. People were terrified and the forts were abandoned. Red Cloud signed a treaty and never fought the white people again. But the Bozeman Trail was closed.

The Occidental was an interesting hotel in its time as it was fashioned from several log buildings connected to each other. It appeared to be a large barn with several out-buildings. The upstairs of the main building had six rooms. There was a lobby, a restaurant and a saloon as well as stables and kitchens. This original structure would be outgrown and a larger wooden building was built that connected to the log buildings. By the 1920s, the wood would be gone, replaced by a brick building. As the years passed, it became a "grand" hotel. The decor was replaced and the volume of visitors increased. Throughout all the decades, even back to the early log structures, the hotel was known for its hospitality and good food. And many people came to stay at the Occidental, some of them infamous.

The most infamous guests were Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid who rode to the hotel from their Hole-in-the-Wall hideout, which was nearby. The hideout was about 45 miles south of Buffalo. It's in a remote and secluded area and was used not only by the Wild Bunch, but Jesse James as well from the 1860s to 1910. The Hole-in-the-Wall was named for the pass that is there and it was an ideal location because the narrow pass was easy to defend. A creek ran through the canyon that the outlaws used to water their rustled cattle. At one time, a few cabins had sat here to help endure the cold Wyoming winters. Today, a working cattle ranch called Willow Creek Ranch is here.

There were many famous visitors to the hotel during its heyday in the late 1800s. Buffalo Bill and Calamity Jane were frequenters of the establishment and it also received visits from General Phil Sheridan, President Theodore Roosevelt and Pinkerton Tom Horn. Famous lawmen like Frank Canton frequented the bar. He had once been sheriff of Johnson County and was a member of the Regulators who were on the side of the big cattlemen during the Johnson County War. But Frank Canton was not his real name because he had changed it from Josiah Horner when he decided to stop being an outlaw. He once was a bank robber, cattle rustler and gunfighter who was pursued by the Texas Rangers.

The hotel boasted an air of hospitality, so it is no wonder that many weary travelers chose it as the place they preferred to rest their heads. According to the official Occidental Hotel Website: "Early in its existence, the Occidental established a reputation for hospitality and fine food. Owen Wister, author of The Virginian, spent many happy hours in the Occidental lobby and saloon, and based characters in his celebrated novel on cowboys and gunslingers that he observed there. Many historians believe that the shoot-out at the climax of the book — the first "walk down" in Western literature — took place in front of the Occidental."

The great depression hit the area hard. Wyoming was a dry climate and as environmental issues affected the land, finances tightened for those living there. To put it simply, people just stopped spending on the luxuries they had enjoyed just years earlier.  As the spending decreased, so did the attendance at the Occidental Hotel. By the mid-1930s, the owners were struggling just to keep the doors open. This is a struggle that lasted years and took a major toll on the owners. The hotel saw a brief spike in guest attendance during WWII, but following the war, business declined again. As people traveled west, they began to prefer cheaper motels to the luxurious hotels of the turn of the century. By the 1970s and 1980s, business had all but ceased, with the majority of the guest rooms being transitioned into apartments for retirees.

Finally, after years of low business, the Occidental Hotel closed its doors in 1986. Some shops continued to occupy their spaces on the ground floor, but with little money coming in, the building fell even deeper into disrepair. In 1997, as preparations were made to demolish the once great building, Dawn and John Wexo bought the building and they co-run the hotel with David and Jackie Stewart. They dedicated their time and funds to a 10 year remodeling of the building and returned it to its once great form. They have remodeled the building to look much like it did 100 years ago and it has become frequented by tourists and spenders once again. It has been featured on hotel shows, as well as multiple ghost-hunting shows. Joan Rivers featured it on her show "Joan and Melissa: Joan Knows Best?"

And it is no wonder that with all of the luxury of the hotel, some of the guests would not want to leave even after death. There have been many reports of people seeing strange lights floating around on the upper floors and feeling cold spots throughout the hotel. Guests have also reported hearing strange voices communicating with them, and bouts of eerie ghostly laughter in the halls of the hotel. Casper Wyoming Ghosthunters have recorded some interesting EVPs at the Occidental. Travel Channel's "Dead Files" visited the Occidental and reported that a negative entity lived at the property. Steve interviewed a former employee who claimed to have numerous weird experiences. Another employee quit her job over the hauntings. Justin who was the guy in charge of security when Dead Files came through, claimed he was so frightened that he didn't like working at the hotel.

Perhaps, the most widely acknowledged spirit we find is that of the Ghost Girl of the Occidental. Run ins with this spirit have been reported by numerous patrons over the years. At one time in its vast history, the hotel briefly served as a brothel. Evidence of a porch that once overlooked the dusty street below can be seen and one can imagine the ladies plying their wears from that porch. One of the prostitutes who was working there at the time had a daughter who passed away on the upper floor. People in the hotel report her having dark hair and, you guessed it, a WHITE DRESS! Either her ghost or some other spirit has been known to move guests' luggage and tap people on the shoulder. We surmise that this must be an older spirit since shoulders are a tad high for little girls. Or it could be something that occasionally masquerades as a little girl. The owner Dawn tells her story about the girl everyone calls Emily:
“There was a prostitute who had a daughter who died of cholera in the the NW wing where the brothel was, she was just a child. Some times people can feel her tapping her fingers on their backs, but one guest really got to meet her. He gave me the creeps as soon as he walked in. I've never felt creeped out by any guests, only him. His hunting party was snowed in, down in Denver so he was the first and only one to arrive. The whole northwest wing was empty except for him because the other rooms were held for those stuck in Denver. He was the guide, a mountain man, so when he called up screaming around 3am I knew why. He said that something was trying to pull his covers off the bed and they were throwing things around the room. I went upstairs, found his covers on the floor and the stuff on the dresser on the floor too. The little girl ghost picked up something about him, maybe he was a wife beater or a pedophile. A prostitutes daughter wouldn't of had a good life, so she saw fit to attack the poor man."
 Mary reported on the In Wild Wyoming blog:
"I just stumbled upon your post about the ghost girl. I saw her in the room you have pictured here (the room with the brick wall). I was staying in that room about 6 years ago and I was really sick myself. I found out later that I had West Nile Virus. I woke up around 3AM and saw a girl, about age 10, crawling on the floor towards my bed from the corner where the TV is. She had long dark hair that looked wet and a white nightgown that looked damp. She looked feverish. I figured that I saw her because I was sick too, and would end up very ill. She didn't scare me and she didn't seem 'bad' in any way. I've stayed in that room since and had no activity other than that one night."
Are the strange happenings at the Occidental related to paranormal activity? Are these just figments of people's imaginations as they travel back to an earlier time through their visit at the hotel? Is the Occidental Hotel haunted? That is for you to decide!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

HGB Ep. 131 - Cliffside Inn

Moment in Oddity - The Wooden Doll of Egeskov
By: Listener Lisa Nielsen

There is a wooden doll inside the Danish castle, Egeskov, that apparently helps to keep the castle from sinking into the moat. The doll, which is the size of a small child, can be found in the rafters of loft in the castle, lying upon a dusty red cushion. The doll has been here since 1554 and no one is allowed to touch it because of the legend attached to the doll. If the doll is moved, it is said, the castle will sink into the moat on Christmas Eve. Because of this, the past generations living there would never spend Christmas at Egeskov, just in case. These days, the resident family just leaves a bowl of rice pudding for him. Plenty of people, including Lisa's family, do something similar, where they leave the rice pudding for the elves. The guy who manages the exhibitions, Jørgen Johansen, has two stories about the doll. The current count's grandmother wanted to know how old the doll was, so she sent it to the National Museum in Copenhagen, hoping they might be able to figure it out. Within two days, the castle started creaking ominously and it continued for days. This freaked the grandmother out and she didn't dare have the doll away from its proper place any longer. She sent someone to pick it up and as soon as it was back, the creaking stopped. The other story is about a woman who'd just happened to rest her  hand on the entrance and had noticed the nails were unusually cold. She and the manager went to check on the doll, and it turned out it had been flipped. They rearranged it so it was lying as it usually was, and upon return to the entrance, they found the nails had returned to a normal temperature.No one knows how the legend started or if the threat is real, but nobody is taking any chances making the wooden doll of Egeskov quite odd!

This Day in History - Earhart First Woman to Cross North Atlantic by Airplane
by: April Rogers-Krick

On this day, June 18th, in 1928, Amelia Earhart landed safely in Burry Port,Wales, becoming the first woman to cross the North Atlantic by airplane and doing it in less than 24 hours. Following Charles Lindbergh's solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927, Amy Phipps Guest, expressed an interest in being the first woman to fly or be flown across the Atlantic Ocean. Deciding that the trip was too dangerous for her to undertake, she offered to sponsor the project, suggesting they find a woman who could portray the right image.  Amelia Earhart, a Boston Social Worker, was contacted at work by Capt. Hilton H. Railey and he asked if she "Would like to fly across the Atlantic?" Project coordinators, including book publisher and publicist George P. Putnam, interviewed Amelia and asked her to accompany pilot Wilmer Stultz and mechanic Louis Gordon on the flight. She was to be a passenger with the added duty of keeping the flight log. Flying in an orange and gold float equipped, three-engine monoplane, Pilot William Stultz, Co-Pilot Amelia Earhart, and mechanic Lou Gordon departed from Trepassey Harbor, Newfoundland on June 17.  The trio crossed the Northern Atlantic in the record time of 20 hours and 49 minutes, landing safely in Burry Port, Wales.  Since most of the flight was on "instruments" and Amelia had no training for this type of flying, she did not pilot the aircraft.  After landing, she was quoted as saying "Stultz did all the flying-had to.  I was just baggage, like a sack of potatoes. Maybe someday I will try it alone." When the trio returned to the United States, they were greeted with a ticker-tape parade in New York followed by a reception with President Calvin Coolidge at the White House.

Cliffside Inn (Suggested by listener Suzy Duhme, Research Assistant Kristin Swintek)

Newport, Rhode Island has been the summer playground for Presidents like Eisenhower and Kennedy and also for the rich, which is evident in the many mansions that dot the seaside town. Some of these mansions date back to the Colonial Era. The Cliffside Inn is one of the mansions here and today it serves as a bed and breakfast. The most notable family to live at the Cliffside Inn is the Turner Family and they have an unusual and interesting history. Although the Turner Family is long gone, it would seem that their spirits have remained with the home that was so much a part of their life. Today, we are joined by our listener Suzy Duhme to get her first hand account of the Cliffside Inn and some of the spooky experiences she and her friends have had!

Newport is located in Rhode Island in Newport County, 37 miles south-east of Providence and 74 miles south of Boston. Before it was called Rhode Island, it was known as Aquidneck Island. English settlers came here in 1639 with Anne Hutchinson, a religious leader who had been driven out of Boston for her religious beliefs, which challenged Puritianism. When she arrived here, she grouped up with another settler, Roger Williams, who was also banished from Massachusetts for religious reasons. Hutchinson purchased the island from the Native Americans who lived here. These early settlers founded the new town on religious freedom and Newport became the first secular democracy in the New World.

Another group split from Hutchinson lead by William Coddington and Nicolas Easton and they would found Newport in 1639. The idea of religious freedom brought other groups as well. Soon the Quakers and Jews were here. The Quakers dominated political, social and economic life of Newport into the 18th century. By the 1760s, Newport had become one of the five leading ports in North America. During the American Revolution, it became a hot bed of revolutionary fervor. The British occupied Newport from 1776 to 1779 and more than half of the residents fled the town. The British were eventually driven out with the help of the French. The French began a sojourn in Newport lead by Admiral deTiernay and General Rochembeau, which lasted until 1783. They left to march with General Washington to Yorktown.

The occupation had done terrible damage to the town economy and Newport was forced to reinvent itself. Newport was not industrialized like other places and this gave the town an advantage when it came to attracting Summer visitors. They liked the pictureaque qualities of the area. Newport became a center for artists, writers, scientists, educators, architects, theologians and landscape designers. During the Guilded Age, Newport was host to elite families such as the Kings, Griswolds, and Vanderbilts. The area is very diverse when it comes to ethnicity as well.

The Cliffside Inn was built in 1876 by Maryland Governor Thomas Swann and was first called “Swann Villa." In addition to being a Governor, Swann was also an inventor and railroad President. The Swann family vacationed here in the summers until 1897. He was not considered a nice man and there are rumors that he may have delved into the dark arts. From 1897-1901, it was converted to St. Georges School, a private prep school for boys, until it moved to its permanent campus in Middletown, RI.

In 1907, the house was bought by the Turner Family of Philadelphia and they turned it back into a summer home, calling it Cliffside. Andrew Turner was a cotton merchant and his wife Adele was a prominent Philadelphia socialite. Adele was a descendent of Jacob Shallus, the engrosser of the US Constitution. Their only child was Newport legend and artist Beatrice Turner. Andrew kept a tight leash ob Beatrice and some believe he had a little too much interest in his daughter. When he caught her walking with a young man one day, he berated her and chased the boy away. He forbid her to marry. Beatrice never would marry.

Andrew died and Beatrice continued to summer at Cliffside with her mother. The women were perculiar, living as recluses dressed all in black. Beatrice had been told by her father that she was only allowed to paint herself and the family and that is what she did. She spent her life painting mostly self-portraits. When she died in 1948, 3,000 of her paintings were found in the house. Many were destroyed, but several exist to this day and can be found hanging in the Cliffside Inn. Beatrice summered at Cliffside until her death in 1948. Her Self-Portraits can be found all over the home.

The current owners Bill and Nancy Bagwill, bought the house in 2010. They invested a significant amount of time and resources to restore the house. The Cliffside Inn is now a luxury bed and breakfast in the historic district of Newport, RI. Located steps from Cliff Walk, near quiet beaches and a short walk to restaurants and shopping. This lovely restored Inn offers a nice blend of historic charm with deluxe amenities such as whirlpool baths, spa showers, fireplaces, grand beds and imported lines.

Suzy shares with us a scary and weird experience her husband had at another inn named for Adele Turner and then she tells us about the experiences a sensitive friend of hers has had at the Cliffside. That friend has seen the full bodied apparition of Beatrice up on the Widow Walk. She also has been told various things by the spirit of Beatrice.

Does Beatrice Turner and her parents still hang out at their summer home in the afterlife? Is the Cliffside Inn haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:



Monday, June 13, 2016

HGB Ep. 130 - Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum

Moment in Oddity - Little Sleeping Beauty
Suggested by listener Michael Rogers

The Capuchin Catacombs are located in Palermo, Italy and they are the final resting place of little sleeping beauty. Her real name was Rosalia Lombardo and she was only two when she passed away from pneumonia in 1920. The local mortician was Alfredo Salafia and he was very skilled. He embalmed little Rosalia and she is so perfectly perserved that her internal organs are intact and she looks as if she is only sleeping. Salafia used a secret technique to obtain this result  and only recently was his technique rediscovered. This would be strange enough, but there is more to this story and that is that Rosalia appears to open and close her eyes on occasion. Her eyes are perfectly preserved and glisten when the eyelids open. This has been caught by time lapse video. It is quite unsettling, but scientists believe that there is an explanation other than a restless spirit causing eyes to open and close. The humidity changes in the catacombs throughout the day and they believe this causes the eyelids to pull back a bit, so that it only appears that her eyes have opened. Whatever the reason may be, this little sleeping beauty certainly is odd!

This Day in History - Miranda Rights Established

On this day, June 13th, in 1966, the Supreme Court issues their landmark decision that establishes Miranda Rights. The decision made clear that any statements made by a defendent while in police custody would only be admissible in a trial if that defendant had been made aware of their full rights before giving any statements. The case came before the Supreme Court because a man named Ernesto Miranda claimed he had not known his rights before admitting to a couple of crimes. He had been arrested for stealing $8 from a bank employee and during his interrogation he admitted to the theft and also to raping a woman a week earlier. He was found guilty and sentenced to 20 years. At the top of his confession he wrote that he was aware of his rights, but during an appeal trial he said he actually didn't know what his rights were because no one had told him what they were. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court and they agreed with Miranda's attorneys and dismissed his confession. Without that, there was no case and Miranda was a free man. He was retried later based on other evidence and sentenced to 11 years. Irony or karma would have the last laugh here. Miranda would later end up stabbed to death in a knife fight and the decision that got him off the first time, would help the murderer. The man who handed the killer the knife was arrested, but because of Miranda Rights he knew he was under no obligation to say anything and he kept his mouth shut long enough for the murderer to run away to Mexico. The killer was never seen again.

Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum (Suggested by listener Angie Lucente, Research Assistant April Rogers-Krick)

Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum is one of the oldest cemeteries in the United States and it is themed around the idea that cemeteries make great places for gardens. It was founded in the center of the Gem City - Dayton, Ohio - in the 1800s. The graveyard is the final resting place for some well known individuals and the 200 acres are dotted with beautiful and unique monuments featuring Greek themed statues and temples. The cemetery is more like a park, but it is not entirely peaceful here. There are spirits are at unrest among the headstones. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum!

Dayton, Ohio is considered to be a central hub for the United States and this fact makes it attractive to manufacturing and shipping. In 1796, it brought a small party of settlers known as "The Thompson Party" here and they founded their settlement on April 1st. Two other groups arrived later and the following year the Mad River Road was laid out connecting Cincinnati to the future Dayton. The city was incorporated in 1803 and named for Jonathan Dayton. Jonathan had been born in 1760 and was a classmate of Alexander Hamilton. He quit the university during the Revolutionary War, so that he could fight and rose to the rank of Captain. He was only fifteen when he took up arms. He served under Washington at Valley Forge. After the war, he became the New Jersey delegate to the Continental Congress. This would lead to him becoming the youngest person to sign the Constitution. Jonathan invested in Ohio and he owned a lot of land in Dayton, thus the city was named in honor of him. *Fun fact: The cash register was invented in Dayton and our listener Angie who suggested this location works at the old National Cash Register Company Building and NCR also helped develop the US Navy Bombe that helped crack the Enigma Code during WWII. Alan Turing visited NCR and advised on the production.* (The Imitation Game - great movie!)

One of the mayors of Dayton was John Van Cleve. He served in the 1830s. His father Benjamin was a pioneer settler of Dayton. John loved this city and when it became apparent that the original cemetery was not large enough and that a new location needed to be found, John led a group of trustees in choosing 40 acres of wooded area on a hilltop. The location was perfect for setting up a garden cemetery. The name Woodland was chosen because of the beauty of the graveyard and the variety of trees adds the Arboretum to the name. Some of the trees here are more than a century old. It was founded in 1843 and at that time it was away from the center of the city. Eventually, the city of Dayton would surround it. July 9th would mark the first internment at the new graveyard.

Woodland Cemetery is one of the nation's oldest garden-like cemeteries. Because Woodland was so park-like, it was quite normal for families to take picnics to the graveyard to spend time with deceased loved ones. A receiving vault large enough to contain 12 crypts was built in 1847 by Joseph Wuichert, who was said to be Dayton’s premier stonemason.  Throughout the 19th century it was used for temporary storage when burials were delayed due to bad weather or for other reasons.  Located near the main entrance to the cemetery and across from the mausoleum, it is constructed of giant limestone slabs and was designed as a replica of the Egyptian-style temple of Thebes and Karnak.  It was unused for nearly 100 years but the exterior was restored in 2008 to its original condition.  The cemetery was quickly filling with victims of epidemics and women who died in childbirth. In 1848, a cholera outbreak killed 225. In 1889, the Romanesque styled chapel, office and gateway were completed. One of the finest Tiffany windows in the country can be found in the chapel. Monuments are varied throughout the graveyard and number over 100,000. The Woodland Mausoleum features a stone and bronze face and twenty-two varieties of imported marble. Famous literary works inspired the twelve windows gracing the mausoleum.

Adolph Strauch was a landscape architect and he designed Woodland Cemetery. There are over 3000 trees and 165 specimen of native Midwestern woody plants. Many of the trees are over 100 years old.  Nine have been designated “Ohio Champions” by the Ohio Forestry Association. In 1908, the cemetery bought 35 acres from the University of Dayton and a tunnel was built to connect the properties. The cemetery continued to purchase land through the years and eventually grew to 200 acres. In 1991, the Woodland Arboretum Foundation was established and a $1.2 million restoration project was completed. With over 107,000 burials memorialized there is still sufficient undeveloped land available to accommodate more than 50,000 more burials.  This equates to more than 100 years of remaining active operation.  Woodland is endowed permanently as a historic site, passive cemetery and green area and park for all who seek its serenity, beauty, history and human heritage. 

Daniel C. Cooper was a founder of Dayton and buried at Woodland in 1818. He led a surveying party to the mouth of the Mad River and laid out the original streets of Dayton making them "four poles wide" and built most of its early mills. He served as Dayton's first justice of the peace and also served in the state legislature. He donated some of his land for school and churches to be built upon. In 1818, he was moving a church bell and strained himself in such a way that he eventually died.

Beneath a willow tree sits the headstone of  Paul Laurence Dunbar, a famous black poet who was born in 1872. His father had been a slave who escaped to freedom in Canada and his mother had been a slave in Kentucky before the Civil War. His father died when he was 10 and he would spend evenings reading to his mother. He was classmates with Orville Wright and was the only black in his Central High School graduating class in Dayton. He was one of the first black writers at that time to get national attention. In 1883, he published his first book of verse. His life's work included 25 books, 15 essays, over 100 poems, 35 song lyrics, 24 short stories, nine musical shows, and four plays. He died in 1906 after succumbing to tuberculosis. The first verse of his poem "A Death Song" is inscribed on his headstone.

Wilbur Wright was buried here in 1912. Wilbur was born in 1867 and his brother Orville was born in 1871. Their father was a traveling preacher and he brought home a toy after one trip that would inspire his young boys and put them on the path of a love of aeronautics. It was a small model helicopter made from cork, rubber bands, bamboo and paper. The brothers ran a bicycle shop in the 1890s while they followed news of the flying exploits of German aviator Otto Lilienthal. After Lilienthal died in an accident, the brothers decided to pursue flight. They had heard that Kitty Hawk, North Carolina had strong winds and so they headed there to conduct experiments. They designed their wings like the wings of birds and added a moveable rudder. On December 17, 1903, the Wright Brothers were successful in flying the first free, controlled flight of a power driven airplane and that flight lasted 59 seconds and traveled 852 feet. The brothers became the Fathers of Aviation that day. Wilbur died of Typhoid Fever in Dayton on May, 30, 1912. Orville was buried in Woodland in 1948.

Erma Bombeck is an humorist who initially became popular through a newspaper column she penned and she was buried at Woodland in 1996. She was born in Dayton in 1927. She found her life as a suburban housewife to be funny and she shared her observations through her column, through several books and on TV. She was well loved and was an advocate for children with cancer. She later had her own battle with cancer and then kidney disease forced her to have to get a kidney transplant. Complications from that transplant killed her. She has one of the more unique grave markers. It is a 29,000 pound boulder from Arizona. Her husband wanted to bring a piece of Arizona to her to honor their 25 years in Arizona.

Matilda Stanley was buried under an elaborate monument at Woodland in 1878. A procession of 1,000 carriages traveled from downtown to the cemetery in her honor. They were not allowed to come inside the cemetery, which already had 25,000 people in attendance for the memorial service. It was so crowded that a wooden plank was placed over the open grave and the preacher spoke from that in the pouring rain. Matilda was Queen of the Gypsies in the US. Gypsies were a group of nomadic people from Eastern Europe. They have a hierarchy that includes a King and a Queen. When her husband Levi died, he was buried near her and a granite monument marks their graves. Their slabs are called ledgers and there are messages and verses written on them.

Other people of note buried here are: George Huffman, founder of Huffy Bicycle Company; Agnes Morehead, actress; Jordan Anderson, freed slave and letter writer; John H Balsley, inventor of the folding step-ladder; Loren M. Berry, inventor of the Yellow Pages; Mrs. Leslie Carter, actress; William Charch, DuPont Chemist, inventor of moisture proof cellophane for food packaging; James M. Cox, newspaper publisher, Governor of Ohio and Presidential candidate; Edward A. Deeds, engineer, inventor and industrialist; John Glossinger, popularized the Oh Henry! Candy bar; Andrew Iddings, inventor of the stereopitc (3-D) camera; Charles F Kettering, inventor; Earl Kiser, bicyclist and auto racer, “Little Dayton Demon”; L.L. Langstroth, father of American beekeeping; George Mead, industrialist (Mead Paper); John H. Patterson, industrialist (NCR); James Ritty, inventor of the cash register; James Findlay Schenck, rear Admiral, United States Navy; Robery Cumming Schenck, Civil War General, member of US Congress and Ambassador to Brazil and United Kingdom; John W. Stoddard, built the Stoddard-Dayton automobile; Stephen W. Thompson, World War I aviator; Clement Vallandigham, Congressman and Copperhead leader; David A. Zieglar, first mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio and Milton Wright, father of aviation pioneers Wilbur and Orville Wright and a Bishop of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ.

Woodland Cemetery is home to some bodies that were removed from a smaller cemetery, but it would seem that not all the bodies made it to this new location. That cemetery was located at Fifth and Ludlow Streets. Many graves did not have headstones any longer and it was impossible to locate all the bodies for removal to Woodland. Disembodied spirits have been witnessed by many people at this street corner. But it's the spirits said to be haunting Woodland that we are interested in sharing. Many spirits are at unrest here.

One of the other unique monuments at Woodland is Johnny Morehouse's memorial. It features a large dog watching over a little boy and there is a story here. Little Johnny was five years old when he was playing by the Miami & Erie Canal that ran by his house. The boy accidentally fell into the canal. His dog was nearby and it jumped in to save the boy. It managed to grab him and pull him out of the water, but it was too late. Johnny was buried at Woodland in the 1860s. His dog came to the grave a few days later and never left. The dog watched over the grave day and night until it finally passed away. The gravestone almost seems to come to life because people report seeing a boy playing with his dog in the cemetery and then they simply disappear. Disembodied barks and shouts of joy are often heard. Their story may just be legend, but people leave small tokens at the grave to this day.

A woman told researcher David Weatherly, famously known for his work on Black Eyed Kids, the following story of an encounter she had at Woodland:
"...the incident that happened to me was on our third visit to Woodland.  We got over there late in the day on a Tuesday.  We didn't see anyone else around and we had kind of wandered in different directions, looking around, taking notes and checking on different names.  I had also started doing rubbings of some old gravestones and I was looking at some stones, thinking about taking a rubbing.  Maybe I was a bit too focused but I suddenly noticed that there was a little girl nearby.  She was sitting on a stone, swinging her feet.  She had blonde hair and was wearing white tennis shoes.  I looked at her and said hello.  She said hello back to me, then she jumped up, turned and ran away.  The most curious thing was that a blue light seemed to follow her, I've never seen anything like it.  When she got a short distance away from me, that blue light sort of went into her and she was just gone!  I was really spooked and was standing there with my mouth hanging open.  That was enough for me, I was out of that cemetery and it took a while before I was ready to go again.  My sister had been too far away to see the girl.  Later, I found out about the ghost of a girl who has been seen in Woodland, I believe that it was her ghost that I saw that day."
This female child's ghost is one of the more well known spirits here. She is usually seen as a full bodied apparition dressed in blue jeans and white sneakers. She sits on a boulder at times and that boulder is rumored to emit a blue glowing light. The girl seems to be an intelligent type of haunting because she occasionally speaks to people. And she's not the only one. Many people claim to have conversations with people they meet in the cemetery, only to watch that person disappear as they walk away. None of these spirits are recognized by anyone, so we don't know their stories or why they have remained here.

A Dayton resident named Ruby shared this story about an encounter she had:
"Back in 1984, in August a good friend and I were walking through Woodland Cemetery. I was attending college at the time, and didn't have a car. This was our shortcut to Kroger's. A prominent Daytonion by the name of Schantz is buried there. He was a business man and was quite famous near the end of the 19th century. We were walking past the family plot, and we saw a man tending to the grave of Old Man Schantz. He was dressed in the clothing of the time, very old-fashioned. I didn't think anything of it, because sometimes the local Historical Society gives tours of the cemetery dressed in period costumes. He looked to be about sixtyish. We both said hello to the gentleman and he just looked at us and smiled. I wanted to ask him about an upcoming tour of the place, when suddenly he just faded away. He was looking at us the whole time he was "tuning out". My friend and I took off and got the hell out of there. None of us ever spoke of the incident again. We also never cut through the cemetery again."
Another experience features a ghostly weeping woman:
"One dark night, two college boys were walking home. It was late, so they decided to take a shortcut. They climbed the tall gate to cut through the cemetery. The boys saw a woman crying on the steps in front of a stone tomb. 'Do you need help?' asked one boy. As they got closer, the boys noticed they could see right through the weeping woman. 'Are you okay?' asked the other boy. The ghostly shape looked up at the boys. She had very sad eyes. She stood up quickly and started to float backwards. She drifted up the steps, passed through the tomb's heavy stone doors, and disappeared. The boys looked at each other. 'Let's get out of here!' they shouted, as they ran away. When the two students told the cemetery's groundskeeper what they had seen, he nodded. He had heard the story many times before. 'Well,' the groundskeeper said, 'you're not the first people to meet the Weeping Woman of Woodland.'"
Many people assume cemeteries are haunted, but that is not usually the case. Is Woodland Cemetery one of the exceptions? Do the spirits of the dead walk among the tombstones? Is Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum haunted? That is for you to decide!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

HGB Ep. 129 - The Life and Afterlife of Geronimo

Moment in Oddity - Bamahenge
by: Bob Sherfield

The last thing one expects to find while driving through rural Alabama is a full-scale replica of Stonehenge. If you should find yourself on US-98 heading out of Pensacola, Florida, take the time for a small diversion through the wooded countryside where you will find a clearing in the trees. In that clearing stands Bamahenge. The brainchild of Alabama billionaire George Barber, the structure is a full size replica of the original, measuring in at 21 feet tall and 104 feet wide. It is orientated to the summer solstice, with the sun rising over the centre of three lintels on the outer markers. Strangely, Bamahenge is constructed of fibreglass and reinforced with concrete and telegraph poles. The stones include four different designs of stone, but by cleverly flipping, rotating and repositioning each one, the illusion that they are all different has been created. Many who visit the site are surprised to find out that the structure isn’t made of stone. They rap their knuckles against the slabs only to find they aren’t made of rock. Why was it built here and why was it built are questions that only the creator of the structure can answer? One thing we do know, a fiberglass replica of Stonehenge, certainly is odd! 

Day in History - Hollywood Communists Report
by: Steven Pappas

On this day, June 8th, in 1949, the FBI released a report naming multiple Hollywood personalities as communists. Among the named personalities were Frederic March, Paul Mini, and Edward G Robinson. Following the second World War, America saw the rise of communism as a new threat and a hysteria set in that led into the cold war period of US history. Most of the accusations were tips from so called "reliable sources" stating the actors, actresses, and directors were involved in the Communist party. During this time, the government theorized that Hollywood was packed with communists who were using films and song to spread the "red agenda." Many senators, the most infamous of which would become Joseph McCarthy, believed that it fell to them to hunt out the communists in Hollywood and seek to stop their influence. These events would even go on to inspire playwright Arthur Miller to create one of his most famous works, The Crucible. After the allegations were leveled, Edward G Robinson was quoted as having said, "These rantings, ravings, accusations, smearing, and character assassinations can only emanate from sick, diseased minds of people who rush to the press with indictments of good American citizens. I have played many parts in my life, but no part have I played better or been more proud of than that of being an American citizen.”

The Life and Afterlife of Geronimo

The Apache warrior Geronimo is a legend, but he was once just a man who had a family. The death of his loved ones at the hands of the Mexicans pushed Geronimo into becoming a fighter. The Anglos would constrict the Apache way of life and Geronimo would retaliate in ways that would embarrass the US government. He escaped capture time and again. Eventually, he would surrender and then he would become a celebrity in captivity as he was ushered to world fairs and western shows. Such an enduring spirit could not be snuffed out by death. Reports abound from many different locations that Geronimo's apparition has been seen and his spirit has been felt. Join us as we explore the life and afterlife of Geronimo!

The Apache native people are made up of six sub-groups pertaining to the region where they had lived. They came from the North and settled in the Plains and Southwest. The first mention of these peoples was in 1598. They were known as nomads following the trail of the buffalo, which was their main form of sustenance. They considered eating fish or bear taboo. The other main attribute of the Apache were their warlike nature. They were raiders of both the white man and other native tribes. This fighting spirit would later make it very difficult to keep the Apaches on their designated reservations. The name Apache would strike fear into the hearts of the Mexicans, Spaniards, Anglos and Pueblos. Legend maintained that an Apache warrior could run 50 miles without stopping.

The Apache lived in dwellings called wickiups or wigwams, built from branches and animal hides or brush. An opening was left at the top of the dome-like structure to allow smoke from the interior firepit to escape. The tribes were matriarchal and followed the mother's line. Strict codes of conduct were upheld within the group and men had to marry outside of their family group and their mother loyalties would be placed with their mother-in-law. Medicine men led religious ceremonies. Beliefs included many spirit beings. Mountain spirits were known as Gans and Usen was the Giver of Life. When the Spanish arrived, both conflicts and trading followed. When the US went to war with Mexico, the Apache allowed US soldiers to cross their land and they assisted in many ways. This peace lasted until the 1850s. Then came the Apache Wars, which were armed conflicts between the United States and bands of Apache tribes. One figure would become prominent during this time and that would be a man history would come to know as Geronimo.

Geronimo was born as Goyahkla, meaning "One Who Yawns" in 1829. He was born in the future state of New Mexico during a time of peace when the territory was under Mexican control. Apaches were not known to be farmers, but Geronimo's father was a farmer and he taught his son agriculture. Geronimo wrote of this time, "We broke the ground with wooden hoes. We planted the corn in straight rows, the beans among the corn, and the melons and pumpkins in irregular order over the field." Geronimo also became an accomplished hunter and ate the heart of his first kill as was the custom of his people. He also learned to raid as he became a teenager and by the time he was 17, he had led four successful raids. He married his first wife Alope at this time and they had three children together.

Geronimo joined a group of his band on a peaceful trading mission in Janos, Mexico. While he was away his family was ambushed by Mexicans. His mother Juana, his wife Alope and all three of his children were killed. Geronimo wrote of the incident, "Late one afternoon when returning from town we were met by a few women and children who told us that Mexican troops from some other town had attacked our camp, killed all the warriors of the guard, captured all our ponies, secured our arms, destroyed our supplies, and killed many of our women and children. Quickly we separated, concealing ourselves as best we could until nightfall, when we assembled at our appointed place of rendezvous — a thicket by the river. Silently we stole in one by one, sentinels were placed, and when all were counted, I found that my aged mother, my young wife, and my three small children were among the slain."

He burned their home and belongings and went into the wilderness to grieve. Anger and a need for revenge consumed Geronimo and who could blame him. He wrote, "I was never again contented in our quiet home. I had vowed vengeance upon the Mexican troopers who had wronged me, and whenever I...saw anything to remind me of former happy days my heart would ache for revenge upon Mexico." It was during one of his attacks on the Mexicans that he earned the name we all know him by and the call that many children cry as they jump into water or that US paratroopers called as they jumped from planes, Geronimo. The term is Spanish for Jerome and that was the name of a saint that the Mexicans looked to for protection. They called out for help from the saint as Geronimo bared down on them.

Geronimo came to be known as a man with no fear and he claimed that he had none because of a voice he heard in his head that told him, "No gun can ever kill you. I will take the bullets from the guns of the Mexicans, so they will have nothing but powder. And I will guide your arrows." Geronimo attacked the Mexicans for ten years. Mining for precious metals like silver and gold brought settlers to Arizona and they began to live on Apache land. This caused discourse and Apaches would raid and attack the settlements resulting in the US government sending soldiers to protect the settlers. And the Apache Wars ensued. Stage coaches and wagon trains were regularly ambushed by the Apaches. Geronimo's father-in-law was an Apache leader named Cochise. He was weary of war and decided to make peace. This meant that the Apache would willingly go to a reservation set up on prime Apache real estate.

After Cochise died, the US government reneged on the agreement. Geronimo was deeply angered by this and resented that his people were being moved from the choice land so that settlers could move into the area. He was not going to go to the reservation and he ran for the mountains of Mexico with a band of men in 1876. The government caught him in 1877 and sent him to the San Carlos Apache Reservation. He escaped that reservation in 1881. The last of the Indian wars took place over the next five years as Geronimo eluded authorities. Five thousand troops hunted him and 17 men and in that time, the legend of Geronimo grew through newspapers and word of mouth.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported the surrender of Geronimo in their paper dated September 1, 1886:
"Geronimo now made overtures of peace to the Americans and made known his wish to surrender. He came in person to Captain Lawson's camp and said that he and his men were tired of the war and wanted to surrender, but he wanted to be assured that their lives would be spared. He had with with him twenty-one bucks, sixteen squaws and some children. He told Captain Lawson that he was anxious for peace and wanted to see General Miles so that he could surrender to him. He said that he never wanted to go on the warpath, but that certain persons at the San Carlos agency had made a plot to have him killed, and that he would not give up his life without a struggle."
Geronimo was the last of his people to surrender. When he surrendered, he possessed a Winchester Model 1876 lever-action rifle with a silver-washed barrel and receiver, a Colt Single Action Army revolver with a nickel finish and ivory stocks and a Sheffield Bowie knife with a dagger type blade and a stag handle made by George Wostenholm in an elaborate silver-studded holster and cartridge belt. He was moved around quite a bit. He went to a prison in Florida at Fort Pickens and then a prison camp in Alabama named Mount Vernon Barracks. Here he had his pregnant wife and their daughter with him and he made the decision for them to return to the reservation in New Mexico. He would never see them again. He was finally sent to Fort Sill in Oklahoma. He spent 27 years as a prisoner of war. He was taken to the World Fair in St. Louis in 1904. He had figured out that he could make money from his celebrity, so he worked out a deal where he would get a portion of the money made on his photographs and autographs. He got ten cents for every picture and ten to twenty-five cents for his autograph. He would make around two dollars a day.

In 1905, Geronimo met with President Theodore Roosevelt. He hoped that he could convince the President to let his people return to the Southwest. He would plead with reporters who visited him to help him in getting his people back to their home. He would say, "We are vanishing from the earth. The Apaches and their homes each [were] created for the other by Usen [the Apache life-giver] himself. When they are taken away from these homes they sicken and die. How long will it be until it is said, there are no Apaches?" He lived in Oklahoma with his other wife and family. The Apache were polygamous. In all, Geronimo had nine wives. When this wife died, he took care of the family doing the domestic chores. Imagine this great warrior who was rumored to have made a blanket from scalps - this was not true - washing dishes and sweeping floors.

Geronimo died in 1909 after falling off his horse during a winter storm. He survived the night in the cold, but when he was found the next day, he was very ill. He passed away six days later. He told his nephew before he died, "I should never have surrendered. I should have fought until I was the last man alive." Geronimo was buried under a tombstone decorated with an eagle. The life of Geronimo is a perfect symbol of the struggle between the US government and the subjugation of the Native American people. A great warrior was turned into a crushed man selling his fame for money. Could this be the reason why his spirit seems to have remained even after his death?

For forty days in 1886, Geronimo was held prisoner at Fort Sam Houston. It was not a lengthy stay, but there are those who believe they have seen the spirit of Geronimo on the base. Fort Pickens is haunted by several Native American spirits and this was yet another place touched by Geronimo. Fort Sill in Oklahoma is a very haunted location and in one of the buildings there is a Native American that haunts a closet. Could this be Geronimo? His spirit is seen and felt in many places at Fort Sill.

Mike wrote on the Ghosts of America website: "I visited the Apache Cemetery on Fort Sill in October 2014 while there for my step son's graduation from BCT. It was late in the afternoon about 1 hour before sunset when we arrived at the cemetery. As I went through the cemetery gates and walked along the gravel path leading to Geronimo grave site there were three or four extremely cold spots on a really warm evening. Each spot required walking about 6 or 8 feet to pass through it. My step son who was following me in military dress blues said he could feel them to. We arrived at the grave of Geronimo and looked around. When we were ready to leave I left a coin on his grave to show respect a as many before me had done. A total of 15 minutes elapsed and a we walked back out on the path the cold spots were gone." Another comment was left by Jim claiming he had felt the spirit of Geronimo several times at Fort Sill.

Jeff wrote, "I also have seen the ghostly figure of Geronimo and he has a very ferocious and enraged look on his face. He seems to have some kind of vile evil grudge against someone or something. I fear this ghost will remain in the Fort Sill area until someone can put him in a peace of sorts. This mans ghost is in a rage and I can't wait until I am sent some place else because it frightened me that much. Maybe some kind of sacred ritual will put him at ease but I know nothing about such things as that."

Many times, the apparition of Geronimo appears to be headless and there is a reason why. The secret society Skull and Bones, that is headquartered at Yale University, is rumored to have the skull of Geronimo on display in their house. There might be something to the rumor because Geronimo's kin sued the group in 2009 over the remains. The legend goes that members of the secret society that included Prescott Bush - George W. Bush's grandfather - dug into the grave of Geronimo at Fort Sill in Oklahoma. This was during World War I and they stole the man's skull and some of his bones. A letter written in 1918 seems to back up the claims, but there is no real proof that this actually happened. It could just be fodder for conspiracy theorists, but it also could be a reason why Geronimo's spirit is at unrest.

Many New Age groups consider Geronimo to be an Ascended Master. He was a medicine man while on Earth and many believed he could see the future. He also seemed to be bulletproof. Geronimo was a great warrior and an example of tenacity and perseverance. He also could be vicious and dangerous. His legend lives on in story, but could there be more than just legend? Could the spirit of Geronimo still walk the Earth? Does Geronimo haunt various locations? That is for you to decide!

Friday, June 3, 2016

HGB Ep. 128 - Fairfield Hills State Hospital and Charles Island

Moment in Oddity - Mother Shipton
by: Bob Sherfield

Ursula Southeil was born sometime around the year 1488 in the northern English county of Yorkshire. More commonly known as Mother Shipton, she was reportedly a soothsayer, prophetess and possibly a prostitute. Legend has it that she was able to make predictions of the future and tell peoples fortunes. One narrative states she was born an ugly child and finding a nurse for her was difficult until a woman living on the outskirts of Knaresborough agreed to take her in. Her childhood is full of tales of supernatural events, with reports of furniture moving of its own accord, plates being thrown across the room by invisible hands, and on one occasion both her and her crib disappeared. When the villagers looked for her, the story goes that they were attacked by imps in the form of monkeys, and when she was eventually discovered, she was suspend in mid air, halfway up the chimney of the house. Adulthood did not improve her looks, with one description of her stating, "Her nose was a sight to be seen in itself being of improportional length with many crooks and turnings...her stature was larger than common, her body crooked and her face frightful, she had great goggling eyes and her wreck of a nose also gave off a faint luminosity.” Despite this, she married a carpenter from Shipton by the name of Toby, and her home soon became a calling place for people from a wide area in search of her wisdom, healing remedies and powers of prophecy. As with the prophecies of Nostradamus, the vague language and obscure riddles used in her rhymes could be interpreted to predict a wide range of events and it is said that she predicted the English Civil War, the defeat of the Spanish Armada and the dissolution of the monasteries. It wasn’t until 1641, 80 years after her death, that the first book of her predictions was published. Many of the predictions contained in the book related to the area that she lived in, only two verses appeared to be prophetic, though, despite popular legend, neither related to the end of the world. And it is probable that many of the predictions they included were describing events that had already passed. During the Victorian period, Mother Shipton was again popular. An 1862 edition of her prophecies made famous the following verse: "The world to an end shall come. In eighteen hundred and eighty one." Through the years and reprints, the Armageddon date has changed. Unfortunately, this verse isn’t the work of Mother Shipton, but was created by the author of the 1862 edition, Charles Hindley. While the truth about Mother Shipton is hard to discover, perhaps she was simply a local wise woman who was good at her job, her legacy has led to her name being linked to many tragic events that occurred in the English speaking world throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. She even has a moth named after her because the pattern of its wings is thought to resemble the face of a hag. The legend surrounding Mother Shipton certainly is odd!

This Day in History - First American Walks in Space
by: Steven Pappas

On this Day, June 3rd, in 1965, the first American walked in space. Major Edward H. White II, attached to the Gemini 4 by a 25 foot tether, exited the craft and began his spacewalk. This made him the second person to walk outside of the Earth's atmosphere. The craft was positioned 120 miles above Earth and White controlled his movements with a handheld oxygen propulsion device. The Gemini program was an extension of Project Mercury, which had been the first spacecraft to put an American in space. While the Gemini program was not well known compared to many others in the US side of the space race, it was responsible for giving the US valuable education on the effects space may have on the astronauts, as well as pioneering long term space expeditions with multiple crews. The program ended in 1966, but helped NASA to perfect the docking procedures that would greatly impact the later Apollo space program.

Fairfield Hills State Hospital (Suggested by listeners Paige Sherman & Michael Rogers, Research Assistant April Rogers-Krick)

Fairfield Hills State Hospital was a state run mental health facility in Connecticut that was opened to alleviate the overcrowding in other asylums. The facility was pleasing to the eyes from the outside, but within its walls unspeakable acts were taking place. This was not a place of rehabilitation, but more a place of experimentation. Just as we have found to be the case at other asylums during this time period, barbaric practices were followed and many "mysterious" deaths were the result. This has led to the typical result: hauntings. We also will share the curse of Charles Island, which is not far from Newtown, and it involves pirates! But is there only one curse on this island or could there be more? Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of these two Connecticut locations.

Fairfield Hills State Hospital is in the city of Newtown in the state of Connecticut. Unfortunately, nearly all Americans and probably many of you internationally know this small town because of the horrific Sandy Hook School Shooting in 2012. An armed assailant named Adam Lanza, shot and killed 20 children and 6 staff members before shooting himself. He had also earlier shot and killed his mother. But long before this tragic event the Pohtatuck tribe lived in this region. Epidemics and warfare nearly wiped out the tribe and they eventually merged into the tribal group we know today as the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation. They were fishermen and farmers. The English were the European colonists that would settle here in 1705. They bought the plot from the Pohtatuck and named it Quanneapague. They incorporated in 1711. For obvious reasons, this was a Tory strongehold during the Revolutionary War. The city would grow and dwindle through the years. *Fun Fact: The board game Scrabble was created here by James Brunot*

In 1931 to help alleviate the overcrowding at other state mental hospitals, the Fairfield Hills State Hospital for the criminally insane opened in Newtown, Connecticut.  The hospital was built on 100 acres with 670 bucolic acres surrounding the buildings.  The facility consisted of sixteen buildings connected above ground by a circular network of roads.  Below ground, an intricate network of concrete tunnels connected each building. Walter P. Crabtree, Jr. designed the structure, which was built in the colonial style out of brick. This allowed for ease of movement by staff and patients. Fairfield Hills had its own psychiatric residency program. It also had its own dedicated cafeteria building, movie theater, tennis court, soccer field, baseball diamond, gymnasium, laundry, and staff housing facilities. They had their own self-contained power plant and water treatment facilities.

When Fairfield opened, patients were quickly transferred from the other state hospitals like Connecticut Valley Hospital.  In the early days, no more than 500 patients were housed at the property. Staffing was an issue even then with only three doctors on staff.  In the 1940s and 1950s, the hospital was expanded and more buildings were added to accommodate the growing patient population. By the 1960s, Fairfield Hills was becoming overcrowded, with more than 4000 patients and only 20 doctors, 50 nurses, and 100 other employees carrying out various duties.

Patients at the hospital were generally either temporary or involuntary residents. Several were long term residents however. Sadly, a large number were mentally handicapped wards of the state who could not live independently and had no one to take care of them. Patients who did not need to be confined all the time were allowed to walk around campus and its facilities freely.  Those who were deemed able, could take on basic jobs around the campus and in return they received a small stipend.

Patients were treated with many different and often controversial therapies as was the case at the time.  Electric shock therapy was used. We've discussed this several times in other asylum episodes, but another controversial treatment we don't we have discussed before was the use of insulin shock therapy. Patients were repeatedly injected with large doses of insulin in order to produce daily comas over several weeks.  Mainly it was used to treat schizophrenia. Another highly controversial treatment was Metrazol shock therapy, in which a person was injected with Metrazol to cause convulsions. Hydrotherapy was another treatment used by doctors to stimulate blood circulation and treat the symptoms of certain diseases.  It is a part of medicine and alternative medicine, in particular of naturopathy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy, that involves the use of water for pain relief and treatment.It was not necessarily a bad thing, but at times, patients would be left too long in the water.

Fairfield Hills doctors sometimes used psychosurgery, also known as Lobotomy, to treat patients they deemed severally mentally ill and or insane.  Psychosurgery is performed by both psychiatrists and neurosurgeons. During the operation, the brain is permanently damaged or destroyed. Frontal lobotomies were also performed on patients at Fairfield Hills, which meant the connections to and from the prefrontal cortex were scraped away or disconnected from the anterior part of the frontal lobes of the brain.  More than 100 psychosurgeries were performed on patients in the first year of its use.  This and other reprehensible treatments were not approved by the state, at least not officially.

Fairfield Hills was more of an experimental institution than a rehabilitation center.  Large numbers of patients were essentially tortured for the ‘good of the medical practice’.  Eventually, a decreasing emphasis on institutionalization and greater emphasis on community based models of care came into favor and long term in-house patients started to decrease.  Fairfield Hills fell victim to cuts in public funding, soaring costs of maintaining inpatient mental health facilities, and maintaining thousands of employee benefits. Patients were transitioned to outpatient psychiatric care or to community care and some that could not live on their own where placed in adult foster care or temporary “halfway house,” where they received outpatient psychiatric services.

In 1995, Fairfield Hills State Hospital was closed down by the state. After closing, it was used for the filming of the movie Sleepers as well as an episode of MTV’s “Fear.”  In 2009, the town of Newtown, Connecticut had the underground tunnels sealed off.  Attempts to visit Fairfield Hills today are incredibly difficult, if not all together impossible to sneak past the patrols. Numerous police cars patrol the area on a nightly basis. They vigorously guard the facility on all sides and are ready and willing to arrest anyone attempting to sneak onto the property. The goal of the current management team is to turn the site into a place for recreational, cultural and government activity.

Fairfield Hills joins the ranks of the countless other asylums reputed to be haunted by those no longer living. Former employees and patients have told stories of strange, paranormal activity that went on there when the hospital was open. One employee wrote that the nightmares had become a way of life after witnessing the actions of the insane and the mistreatment of them by employeees not well versed in their care. Strange noises have been reported from all over the property. Whispers to moans to outright screams echo through the hallways. Some have reported hearing the rattle of old gurney wheels traveling the hallways and the underground tunnels. The morgue is said to be filled with inexplicable and unexplained noises. Rumors abound that during the last few years of operation, various electronic machines and appliances were rumored to turn on and off of their own accord.

Several sightings have occured of a young woman dressed in white - our infamous Lady in White - being seen inside of a window with an unearthly glow about her. And rumors have circulated that a Satanic cult practiced rituals in one of the buildings. The managers of the property turned away Ghost Hunters when they asked if they could come investigate. Mary wrote a comment on the Roadtrippers website that her mother had worked there as a secretary and that she can confirm that disembodied screams could be heard. John wrote, "I have been there numerous times. I hope I dont get in trouble for saying this but that place made me a believer. I lived in Ct my whole life and used to go there when I was a teenager. From under ground tunnels from building to building totally incredible...Trust me I was a skeptic and stayed there all night. I didnt have permission to go but I promise you Ill never go there again. Shadows to coughing to doors swinging open, I got to tell you, I know something wasnt right...I got pics that are insane. I heard talking clear as day and moaning of insane patients. Too much to list."

One building, the Greenwich House, is said to bring on an overwhelming feeling of despair and suffering.  This building was destroyed in a massive fire that is said to have been started by a man who took a bottle of lighter fluid to a linen closet and tossed in a match. Full bodied apparitions wearing hospital gowns have been seen in hallways. There are the typical cold spots and orbs as well.

About thirty minutes southeast of Newtown is the town of Milford and there are interesting legends of curses here on Charles Island. The island is named for Charles Deal who bought the island in 1657 from the native tribe there and he tried and failed to start a tobacco plantation there. It is only 14 acres and sits along the shore of Conneticut's Silver Sands State Park. It's a neat little natural environment that visitors can reach by foot when the tide reveals a sandbar. But visiting this island is not a good idea because there are stories of multiple curses.

The first is a curse connected to the pirate Captain William Kidd. Captain Kidd was a Scottish sailor born in 1645. He worked mainly as a privateer and many historians claim he was nothing more than a privateer. But his legend tells a different story and that involves piracy. Privateers were hired to round up "goods" for their country, but pirates ransacked ships and villagers for there own enrichment. Captain Kidd is said to have buried treasure at Charles Island and that would seem to mean that he crossed over into piracy. The Captain made his last voyage in 1699 and at that time he stopped in two locations near to each other. One was Gardiners Island off Long Island and the other was Charles Island in Connecticut. The story goes that Captain Kidd hid treasure in both places. At Charles Island, he hid his loot under Hog Rock and then he proclaimed a curse to protect that treasure. He was later tried and executed for piracy.

The next curse is courtesy of the Paugussett tribe. Charles Island was sacred to them and they  believed the island was a home to spirits. When the Europeans arrived and drove them back away from the island and started building on the island, the tribe cursed any structure that was erected on the island. They cursed the settlers as well. The first home was built here in 1835 by John Harris, who died shortly thereafter. By the 1850s there was a resort here known as Charles Island House and then later as Ansantawae House. Steamboat service was available here. In the 1930s, the island was home to a religious retreat. Six workmen constructing the retreat drowned one day on their return trip home. Later the monastery was destroyed in a storm. Today, the island is inhabited only by wildlife. Did the curse work?

The third curse involves some Connecticut sailors who came upon a treausre in the 18th century belonging to the Mexican Emperor Guatmozin, who had succeeded Montezuma. The treasure was in a cave. Spanish conquistadors had tortured Guatmozin to get him to tell them where the Aztec treasure was and he never told. They finally executed him, but legend maintains that these sailors found that treasure in a cave where the emperor had hidden it. They were returning to Connecticut when several disasters killed four of the five sailors. The last sailor knew that they must have a curse following them for taking the treasure, so he buried it on Charles Island and now that curse is there with the treasure.

Could this be why so many accidents, including drownings, have happened near the island? A newspaper article in 2011 told the story of a man swept out to deeper water when he attempted to cross the sandbar to the island. Countless other stories are told of teenagers and others making the trek, losing their footing on the slippery rocks and washing away into strong rip currents. Could this just be Mother Nature having fun with humans?

The island seems to be haunted as well and this is no surprise because of the deaths connected to the island. People claim to see full bodied glowing apparitions on the beaches or among the trees. Disembodied voices are heard by visitors. Eerie lights move about, even in the daytime. No treasure seeker has been able to find any treasure. Has it been protected by these spirits or the curses? One group of treasure seekers claims that a burning specter of fire chased them from the island after they found something.

Are the distant echoes of gurney wheels in the abandoned hallways some form of paranormal activity? Have the spirits of those lost to society, truly found a place of comfort in death? Is Fairfield Hills State Hospital haunted? Is Charles Island cursed and haunted? That is for you to decide!