Thursday, July 28, 2016

HGB Ep. 139 - Brice House

Moment in Oddity - Ozark Spooklight

On the border of Missouri and Oklahoma is a peculiar phenomenon known as the Ozark Spooklight. This spooklight was first seen over a century ago by the Native Americans walking along the Trail of Tears. The light is described as a glowing ball of supernatural energy that gives off colors ranging in hues from orange to blue to green. Some witnesses claim that it pulsates and changes colors and others say that the light appears as a cluster, rather than just one single orb. The orb is between the size of a baseball and a basketball and it spins down the center of the road at high speeds. Some claim it is almost like a lantern swinging back and forth.The light usually appears between ten and midnight at night. No investigators, including the Army Corps of Engineers, has been able to identify why the light is appearing. It is nor reflecting headlights, nor some form of swamp gas because it is unaffected by wind or rain. The mythical will-o’-the-wisp has been suggested,but the light is too bright for that. So what is the story behind the spooklight? If we look to science, it could be an electrical atmospheric charge. Deep below the earth's surface, rocks grind and shift and an electrical charge is created. The spooklight resides in an area where there is a fault line where four earthquakes occured during the eighteenth century. A more interesting story claims this light represents the spirits of two Native American youths who had fallen in love, but the woman's father forbade the marriage and the two jump off a nearby cliff when the father sent his men to keep them from eloping. Another story claims that a family had lived in a cabin nearby and when the father, who was a miner, was away, the family was killed and the light is his lantern as he looks for his lost family. Some claim an Osage chief was decapitated here and this light is his spirit. Whatever the true story is behind the Ozark Spooklight, it certainly is odd!

This Day in History - Battle of Ezra Church
by: Richard Schaffer

On this day, July 28th, in 1864, the battle of Ezra Church took place. It was part of the Atlanta Campaign of the Civil War. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman led his troops, the Union Army of the Tennessee, against Gen. John B. Hood and his Confederate troops, the Army of Tennessee. Two prior attempts had been made to break Atlanta from the grasp of the Union Army, but had failed. Gen. Sherman sent Gen. Oliver O. Howard to destroy the Macon and Western Railroad, which was one of the only remaining rail lines into Atlanta. Gen. Hood sent Lt. Gen. Stephen D. Lee and his troops to stop the Union advance. Lee’s army attacked at Ezra Church. The ensuing engagement went poorly for Confederate forces as they thought despite possessing smaller numbers they could surprise Union forces. Union forces had erected barricades using the church’s pews and logs. Unbeknownst to Lee, he was not attacking the Union flank, but actually the Union center. Lee’s army was pushed back several times, finally retiring after losing 3,000 men. Union losses totaled 630 men. This would later open the door to Sherman’s March to the Sea. An important note to make about this affair would be the actions of 24 year old Sergeant, Ernst R. Torgler of the 37th Ohio Infantry, who saved his commanding officer from capture. He would later receive the Medal of Honor for his bravery.

The Brice House (Suggested by listener Amanda Prouty, Research Assistant Steven Pappas)

At the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay sits the home of the United State Naval Academy, the city of Annapolis, which claims to have more original structures dating back to the 18th century than any other city in America. One of those structures is The Brice House. A house that exudes a malevolent energy that might be carrying over from the corrupt family that once inhabited the residence. Tales of skeletons in walls and other legends have lead to claims that the mansion is haunted. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the Brice House. (Amanda will join us to share a bit about the supernatural experiences at this location.)

The capital of the state of Maryland, Annapolis, is known as the "Athens of America." The city was originally a small seaport that held the distinction of being a colonial capitol. Annapolis was originally named "Providence" when the Puritans first settled there in 1649. The proprietary colony was owned by Lord Baltimore and the name Providence was changed to "Anne Arundel's Towne," after his wife. Royal Governor, Sir Francis Nicholson, changed the name to its current name of Annapolis in honor of Princess Anne, heir to the throne. When Anne became queen, she charted the seaport as a city and this happened in 1708. It is her royal badge that features a crown over the entwined thistle of Scotland and Tudor rose of England that is depicted on the official flag of the city of Annapolis.

Sir Francis Nicholson designed the city in a similar grid as that used in many European capitals, which incorporated circles with radiating streets that would draw the focus to certain structures. An example of this would be St Anne's Episcopal Church, which is the spiritual center of Annapolis. The State House is another example. This historic location is where George Washington tendered his resignation as General of the Continental Army after the Revolutionary War was over. Washington so liked the design of Annapolis that he asked Pierre L'Enfant to incorporate it in the design of Washington, D.C. The architecture found throughout the city is beautiful and as mentioned earlier, many historic properties have been saved and restored from the William Paca House that was home to one of Maryland's four signees to the Declaration of Independence to the James Brice House.

James Brice was born in Anne Arundel County, Maryland in 1746 to Sarah and John Brice. He would go on to become a Lawyer in Annapolis, as well as a farmer and a politician. James married Juliana Jennings in 1781, and the couple had six children: Julia, Sarah, Anne, Thomas, Elizabeth, James and John. Sarah died shortly before her first birthday. In 1782, he was elected as the mayor of Annapolis and he held that position for one year. He served as mayor of the city once again for a year in 1787. George Plater was the sixth governor of Maryland and during his time, Maryland ceded the land that would become Washington, D. C. He died in office in 1792 after only serving for three months and James Brice took over the governorship, in which his only act of governance was to convene an election for the new governor. He was a prominent figure in Maryland's history, even serving as a president elector, both times voting for president George Washington. In addition, he served as treasurer for the city of Annapolis from 1784 until his death in 1801.

James Brice's father John began construction on a Georgian styled mansion that was completed by James between 1767 and 1775. This home would become known as the Brice House. James Brice kept a detailed logbook of the construction, which later provided details to historians. The cornerstone of the house, marked with the words "The Beginning," was laid on the first day of construction. According to the logbook, the construction took six years and materials included 326,000 bricks and 90,800 shingles. Total cost to build was $4,014 in Maryland colonial currency. When finished, the James Brice House was considered one of the most elegant of the Annapolis five-part mansions and it was the largest. Some of the interiors have been attributed to William Buckland. The Historic Annapolis website describes the home in this way:
"The first floor of the central block is laid out similarly to a nearby house built by James Brice’s father, with a stair hall just inside the entrance and three adjoining public rooms. The main staircase is crafted of rich mahogany. The drawing room is the home’s largest and most lavishly decorated space, featuring a plaster cornice and paneling, a carved mantel and overmantel, and interior window shutters. A hidden service stair, similar again to one in the house where James Brice grew up, provided access to the second floor, where private family chambers are arranged to the front and rear of a transverse passage."
First floor Ballroom

Several dignitaries visited the house included George Washington, Marquis de Lafayette and James Madison. Thomas inherited the house and lived there as a bachelor. The house remained in the possession of the family until 1874 and was eventually purchased in the 1920s by St. John's College as a residence for school faculty. In 1953, the Wohl family took control of the property and began restorations on the home. The Brice House was added to the National Registry of Historic Places on April 15, 1970. In 2014, the city of Annapolis purchased the property from the masons who had used it as a headquarters for many years. Now it is the Historic Annapolis office headquarters.

During the restoration, peculiar things were found within the walls of the house. The Brice family had black servants, many of whom came with their own superstitions and beliefs from their regions of origin. Those beliefs included Hoodoo and Voodoo. Part of the practices with those spiritual beliefs is the use of talismans for protection. Several of these talismans, which also included crosses, were found in the walls. No one is sure if they were meant to serve as protection or as a curse on the family. Something more sinister was found as well. The skeleton of one of the servant girls was in the wall down in the basement during renovations. And rumors have circulated from that time that the Brice boys had something to do with her death. Many think she was walled up while still alive. This theory was tested by TAPS by putting an opera singer within the wall and it proved to be basically sound proof. Amanda Prouty shares with us the tales that are told about this on the show. (The tale that goes with this is that either the servant was raped and killed or that she became impregnated and then killed.)

Many people think the Brice House is the most haunted place in the city of Annapolis. The fact that the house sits at a crossroads in the city has added to the mystique. Amanda also shared with us that talismans and crosses were found beneath the cobblestone of the crossroads. One guide working for one of the ghost tours in the city claims to have witnessed at least 15 different entities in the home. People have often reported seeing the full bodied apparition of James Brice in the house. These sightings date back all the way to his wife, who claimed to see him after he died. He is seen wearing black period clothing with long white hair. Sightings continued when the house was used by St. Johns College. As hard as it is to believe, Professors of all people, detailed their supernatural experiences from the house in interviews and articles.

Another spirit rumored to haunt the location is James' son Thomas. He was bludgeoned to death in the home by his valet and now people claim to see a spirit resembling him walking through the house. On occassion, witnesses have seen Thomas and his valet re-enacting the murder in the library. While it is argued that the following aspect of the story is embellishment, it is creepy nonetheless. Some people claim the ghost is clearly bleeding from the head.

There are the standard claims of cold spots and things moving on their own, but one apparition seems to be more terrifying than the rest and that is the ghost of the Crying Girl. This spirit is believed to belong to the servant girl who was walled up in the house. She was given a proper burial after her remains were discovered, but she does not seem to be at rest. The sounds of screams and crying can be heard coming from the basement in the evenings. Reports say it sounds like someone screaming for their life. The cries are so realistic that police have responded to calls about it and found no cause for the screams.

There is a lady in white here, but no one is sure who she is, but she is usually seen waling by the ballroom mantle. Lighting candles in the room causes her to vanish. Whenever tour guides are asked about the house, they mostly clam up not wanting to talk about the spirits there or the malevolent energy within the place.

Did the Brice boys do something unthinkable? Was there a reason why Voodoo talismans were hidden around the house or did those artifacts bring something evil to this location? Have spirits from the family decided to remain at their former home? Is the Brice House haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:
Ancestry records for James Brice: 
Pictures courtesy of the Library of Congress

Saturday, July 23, 2016

HGB Ep. 138 - Battle of the Somme

Moment in Oddity - The Legend of Crybaby Bridge
Suggested by: Listener Brittany Cox

Several cities in Oklahoma claim to be home to an urban legend known as Crybaby Bridge. The tale seems to have been almost inspired by the Mexican legend of La Llorona that we have detailed on the podcast before. People who have visited the various bridges claiming to be Crybaby Bridge, say that they hear the wails of babies when they visit the bridge at night. There are two stories related to the legend. The first is that a woman was traveling across the bridge in her car with her infant child in the backseat. She had a horrible car wreck and both she and the baby were killed. People claim to hear the cries of the baby when they park on the bridge and turn off the engine. Others report that they see the glowing figure of a female ghost walking along the creek below the bridge looking for her baby. On occasion, the car will fail to start when visitors are ready to leave the bridge. The other story dates to the late 1940s. A family that lived deep in the woods near the bridge had a horrible secret. The father had been raping the daughter and he impregnated her several times. After each of the births, the daughter would throw the babies off the bridge into the creek, which has been named as North Boggy Creek. The legend goes that if you stand on the edge of the bridge you can hear the babies crying. No one knows for sure if one of the decrepit bridges on Oklahoma's back roads or one of the newer bridges that has replaced an older bridge is the actual Crybaby Bridge or if the bridge even actually exists. But if the Crybaby Bridge does exist, it certainly is odd!

This Day in History - Hale-Bopp Comet Discovered

On this day, July 23rd, in 1995, two amateur astronomers discovered the Hale-Bopp Comet. Those two amateur astronomers were Alan Hale, who was in New Mexico, and Thomas Bopp, who was in Arizona. Both men had trained their telescopes on globular cluster M70. They noticed a fuzzy object and after observing it for a while, they realized it was moving and so had to be a comet. Both Hale and Bopp sent their observations to the International Astronomical Union's Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams. According to NASA, this comet was the farthest comet ever to be discovered by amateurs. The comet only got as close as 120 million miles away from the Earth, but it was so bright it could be seen by the naked eye. The comet circled behind the sun and then began moving farther and farther away. It won't return for another 2,300 years. Hale-Bopp was the most photographed comet in history. A tragic footnote to the comet's visit were the suicides of several members of a cult. That cult was Heaven's Gate and it was an end times type cult headed by Marshall Applewhite. They believed some kind of alien spacecraft was following the comet and that it was coming to rescue them from the Earth. Unfortunately, Applewhite brainwashed his followers into believing that in order to make that transition, they needed to die so their spirits could leave their bodies, pass through Heaven's Gate and board the spaceship. They drank a lethal cocktail of alcohol mixed with Phenobarbital. Applewhite and 38 of his followers died.

Battle of the Somme (Suggested by and researched by Bob Sherfield)

The Battle of the Somme began on July 1st 1916, one hundred years ago this month, and it lasted until the 18th of November. This was the defining battle of the first world war and the very first day of this clash was the bloodiest in the history of the British Army. Hundreds of thousands would lose their lives in the four months of fighting. This was a campaign fought between the German and British empires and the Battle of the Somme has been called the beginning of modern all-arms warfare. The bloodshed is similar to the Gettysburg and Antietam battles during the American Civil War and as we have found with the locations where these meetings took place, the Battle of the Somme battlefield is reputed to be incredibly haunted. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the Battle of the Somme!

World War I was the first global conflict in human history and it began in 1914. The trigger that started the conflict was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary. The war involved Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire on one side and Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy, Japan and the United States on the other. The tactics of this war, which included the use of war machines and trenches, led to carnage beyond belief. By the time the war ended in 1918, nine million soldiers and seven million civilians had died. When the war ended, national borders were redrawn and empires had fallen. One of the key battles of this war - and by far the bloodiest - was the Battle of the Somme. *Fun fact: Pigeons were used as a form of communication during this battle and World War I in general*

By the time of the battle, the bulk of the British Army was made up of the volunteer forces of the Territorial Force and Lord Kitchener’s New Army. This was because the majority of the forces enlisted at the beginning of the war had been lost during the battles of 1914 and 1915. This new recruitment led to a rapid expansion of the British force and a need for senior commanders and specialists, bringing many officers out of retirement as well as inexperienced newcomers. The swift increase had the effect of reducing the levels of experience within the army, as well as creating an acute shortage of equipment. On the British side, soldiers were drawn from across the Empire, including Australia, Bermuda, Canada, India, Newfoundland, New Zealand, South Africa, Southern Rhodesia and  the U.K. The French would join the British in this offensive. It's important to note that a sadder aspect of recruitment developed at this time. As part of the recruitment process to bolster the British forces, General Kitchener had promoted the "Pals Battalions." These battalions were groups of men all from the same town fighting together. This meant individual communities could be hit hard. The 11th East Lancashire battalion, known as the Accrington Pals, sent 720 men into action on that first day of the Battle of the Somme. 584 would be recorded as casualties.

To understand the opening day of the Battle of the Somme, we need to understand the psychology going on behind the scenes with the British commanders. General Sir Douglas Haig was the Commander in Chief of the War and Sir Henry Rawlinson was the commander of the Fourth Army, which was the main army in charge at the Somme. Rawlinson had made a major mistake in a previous battle and Haig saved him from being sacked, so Rawlinson felt trapped when it came to following Haig's plan. He knew it was unrealistic. That strategy for the opening day, was to attack both the German front and second line, which was not a typical plan. Particularly because the German line was located at a great distance from the British line. It was nearly impossible to get the artillery to hit the second line. To add to this, the German second line was hard to see because it was behind a hill. This made it so the guns were firing blind.

Another issue for the British was that the French forces were not what they should have been because they had been engaged by the Germans at the Battle of Verdun. This battle of attrition took place just prior and during the Somme and made it so that the French were in the role of support at the Somme, rather than power. This changed the thought that the Battle of the Somme would be a decisive battle. There was hope that the Germans could be kept in Verdun to help the Russians be successful with the Brusilov Offensive. Although things would not go well for Britain, enough of a blow would be dealt to Germany to make a difference. Many German officers would be lost, making it difficult for Germany to be on top again during the rest of the war.

Prior to the attack on the morning of July 1st, British artillery had spent five days using their 18-pounder field guns to bombard the German trenches, which stretched along a 15 mile front. The goal was to cut the barbed wire which covered the areas between the opposing trench positions, and neutralizing the German artillery. Over those five days, more than 1.5 million shells were fired. Another 250,000 shells would be launched July 1st and this bombardment was able to be heard in London, some 165 miles away. With the zero hour for the battle set for 07:30, at 07:28 British forces detonated a series of 19 mines along the length of the German front, with the aim that they would disrupt or destroy German defenses and provide shelter for the advancing troops. These mines ranged in size, from the smallest at 500lb, through to the mine known as Lochnagar. This mine, placed at a depth of 52ft, consisted of 60,000lb of explosive. When detonated it created a crater 450ft across and threw a column of dirt to a height of nearly 4000ft.

Lochnager Crater

Lochnager Crater

The first day of the battle was a success for the French and the British forces to the South of the battle, however the British infantry attacking in the Northern sector suffered a huge defeat. They suffered 57,000 casualties, of which 19,000 were killed. The Germans had weathered the artillery fire in deep trenches. When the 100,000 British troops started to advance on the German lines, they were mown down by rifle and machine gun fire. As the first phase of the battle continued, offensive operations continued along the length of the valley, all increasing the casualty numbers, some more notably than others. On the 4th of July, Britain suffered another 25,000 casualties as they engaged in bloody hand to hand fighting in an attempt to take Mametz woods and the surrounding forest.

South African troops took and held Delville Woods - or as it would come to be known Devil's Woods - on July 15th with 3000 soldiers of the 1st South African Brigade. German forces unleashed a series of brutal counter attacks, consisting of artillery and machine gun fire. The terrible weather turned the wood into a muddy grave yard, but despite the odds, the South Africans held their ground. By July 20th, only 143 men were left alive. The Battle of Fromelles, which took place from the 19th to 20th of July, saw the introduction of Australian forces onto the Western Front, and is know as “the worst 24 hours in Australia’s entire history.” Of the 7,000 British casualties, 5,500 were from the Australian 5th division. The battle was meant to be a subsidiary attack, but the preparations were rushed and the troops involved were inexperienced in trench warfare. The strength of the German defences was gravely underestimated, with the defending Germans having twice as many troops as the attacking British forces. This engagement marked the end of the first phase of the battle.

As we have seen, the Battle of the Somme was a series of skirmishes that were their own separate battles or confrontations. The second phase of the battle took place between July 14th and the 15th of September and saw the largest counter attack by the Germans. Other than the battle taking place at Delville Woods, there were three other battles that would occur during this second phase: Pozières Ridge, Guillemont and Ginchy The Battle of Ginchy, which saw the French forces make their biggest attack of the Battle of the Somme, helped the British side capture more ground and inflicted around 130,000 casualties on the Germans.

The third phase of the battle began in September and lasted until November. During that time, the Battle of Flers-Courcelette had Canadian and New Zealand divisions enter the fighting for the first time, and tanks were introduced at this time as well. As the fighting continued through September, into October and November, the increasingly bad weather began to delay and restrict the abilities of both sides to continue the fighting. The battles that occured during this time were: Morval, Transloy Ridges, Thiepval Ridge, Ancre Heights and Ancre. After the end of the Battle of Ancre, which took place 13-18 November, a lull occurred that lasted until Jan 1917 as the armies concentrated on enduring and surviving in the rain, snow, fog, mud fields, waterlogged trenches and shell-holes.

While the Battle of the Somme had no definitive outcome, it did have a lasting effect on the British and German armies. A German officer wrote “Somme. The whole history of the world cannot contain a more ghastly word.” Those British troops who survived the battle, went from being inexperienced volunteers to soldiers capable of conducting mass industrial warfare. The German forces, despite mostly holding their ground, suffered losses that would have a greater impact. The troops it lost were those who had been trained pre-war, and they were no longer able to replace them like for like, thus reducing their abilities on the battlefield. The German Army was exhausted by the end of 1916, with loss of morale and the cummulative effects of attrition and frequent defeats, causing it to collapse in 1918. This process began at the Somme.

There are more than 250 military cemeteries located across the battlefields of the Somme, marking the final resting places for thousands of the dead. These cemeteries range in size from a few headstones located close to where men fell, to those containing several thousand graves. There are many headstones engraved simply with “A soldier of the Great War, Known unto God,” a phrase suggest by Rudyard Kipling. French graves and ossuaries also dot the landscape, and the German dead are located beneath grey headstones, often in plots containing around four individuals or in mass graves know as “Kameradengraben.” (Comrades Grave)

The Battle of the Somme lasted 141 days. Total losses were staggering: 794,238 British and French soldiers were lost, with the German empire losing 537,918. Apart from the Battle of Stalingrad, no other battle has had more casualties than the Somme. This was also one of the first battles to be fought in the air as well as on the ground, with 782 aircraft destroyed. It also saw the first use of tanks. By the end of the battle, British and French forces had managed to advance 6 miles. Bob had said to us, "I was thinking about what you said about comparing it to Gettysburg etc, and it occurred to me that one battle lasted 3 days and changed the course of a nation, the other lasted 4 months had little positive outcome, other than loss of life."

Such bloodshed on the field of battle is tragic and this seems to lead to battlefields being haunted. The Somme Battlefield is no different. It is considered one of the most haunted battlefields in the world. Diane heard on a podcast that men who spoke of the battle shared the experience of the ground being soft because it was just a thin layer of dirt thrown over dead bodies. Arms and legs were still seen in some places. So many bodies probably did not receive proper burials and there were many mass graves.

There was an area of the battlefield called No Man's Land. During the early hours of the 5th of November in 1916, German forces were targeting their fire on trenches held by the British 2nd Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment, when, as reported by Captain Newcome, something unusual occurred. He reported that as he studied the area of no-mans land that separated the trenches he saw “a brilliant, white light” appear from the muddy ground which slowly turned into the figure of a uniformed British officer.  The figure began to walk along the length of the British trench, his faced turned towards them, as if inspecting the troops and their trenches. He then reportedly turned his gaze towards the German lines, and for a moment the barrage ceased. British flares then filled the air, as a request for their own artillery to return fire. The form was then lost in the midst of smoke and dirt. This officer who walked between the trenches, was a figure whose face was well known to the British – it was reported as being that of Lord Kitchener, who had died five months earlier after the ship he was on struck a mine and sunk while traveling to Russia.

Artist William Orpen, who had been born in Dublin, had an experience on the battlefield. He was producing artwork based on scenes from the Western front about a year after the war. He found himself among the remains of several skeletons in ragged uniforms. After painting for several hours, Orpen began to feel that he wasn't quite alone and that despite the fact that the sun was still shining, the day seemed to be darkening. Overwhelmed by feelings of dread and fear Orpen sat down on a tree trunk. As he did, he was suddenly flung backwards, hitting his head heavily on the ground. Struggling panic-stricken to his feet, he realised that his canvas had been destroyed. It too had been knocked over and the skull of a soldier had ripped through the centre. Somehow, Orpen was able to start another painting and he continued on with no further ghostly interruptions, though the sense of dread went on.

It was a short time later when Orpen found himself conversing with another Great War artist named Henri Joffroy. Joffroy mentioned that he had seen an unusual skull on the battelfield that he wanted to study closer because of a cleft in the jaw-bone. Orpen said he would drive him out and pick him up later. When Orpen arrived to pick up Joffroy, he found the man lying prone in the distance. Joffroy was stricken and said that the smell of the battlefield had made him sick. He was also upset because when he was studying the skull, he saw an eye in one of the sockets. Orpen was confused by this as the stench of the dead had long since gone, and no eyes remained in any skull.
Paranormal tours of the Somme will always include a trip to Mametz Wood, with very good reason. It is the location of most of the battlefield's ghost stories. Many locals claim to hear the eerie sound of bugle calls on the air. Sometimes, there are the sounds of battle and the screams of men dying. The vast majority of ghostly reports from Mametz Wood concern feelings of being watched, as if a thousand eyes are watching the people who walk here. Could this be the residual energy of those German troops watching as the British ran across the battlefield? People walking from Flatiron Cemetery along the track before the trees and up to the Red Dragon monument, find themselves feeling uneasy. Locals tend to avoid the area. Delville Wood is another place with hauntings. Disembodied Allied troops are seen amongst the trees. One person claims that they were walking in the wood when the hair on the back of his neck stood up and he heard a voice say, "We're still here."

Whole communities would fight as a brigade during this battle and the result was very tragic for these communities who lost so many of their young men. One of these was the then country of Newfoundland. On July 1st 1916, the whole Newfoundland Regiment were sent over the top of the hills on the Somme, which meant almost certain death. The reason why is because the brigade would need to get under barbed wire without any cover and the trenches were full of Germans. They would then have to evade machine gun fire for 750 yards. 810 Newfoundland troops went over the hill. Only 68 returned. There was a tree near the spot where the troops squeezed under the wire that they dubbed the Danger Tree. Today, visitors near that tree claim to feel an overwhelming sense of dread and depression and a need to run away quickly.

Sergeant Thomas Hunter of New South Wales, fought for the Australian forces and he managed to survive the Battle of the Somme. But he had been injured and he succumbed to those injuries in an English hospital bed on July 31st 1916 and was buried nearby. The infirmiry were he died is now the location of Peterborough Museum. There is a staircase coming off of one of thecorridors and it is here where Sergeant Hunter is seen in his ghostly form. Curators working alone in the building often hear footsteps pacing in the rooms above their heads. When they go to investigate, they always find the rooms deserted.

Do the spirits of those that lost their lives on the field of battle still remain here? Do the sounds and scents of that horrendous war still carry over into our present day? Is the Somme Battelfield haunted? That is for you to decide!

Monday, July 18, 2016

HGB Ep. 137 - Stickney House

Moment in Oddity - Big Phil the Cannibal

Alfred Packer is one of the most famous cannibals, but he is not the only cannibal from Colorado. Charles Gardner was known as Big Phil and people knew all about his cannibal ways because he was happy to tell the whole bar his stories for a free drink. His criminal life began in 1844 when he killed a Catholic priest in Philadelphia. He escaped prison and headed west. He was a huge man who took to living with the Arapahoe tribe. They called him Big Mouth because he would eat large amounts of raw meat. Big Phil was sent to Fort Laramie one winter with dispatches and he took a Native American guide along with him, who was apparently not much use because the men ended up lost and soon they were out of food. Big Phil eventually showed up at the fort, but he was alone. When asked where his guide was, Big Phil pulled a shriveled black foot out of his pack. He told everyone that after starving for five days, he killed the guide and began eating him, raw. Some time later, Big Phil married a Native American woman and they were living in a cabin. He was trapping for Kit Carson and at the end of the winter, one of Carson's men came to resupply Big Phil. He found Big Phil alone and when he asked about his wife, Big Phil stated matter-of-factly that he had eaten her. Some claim that Big Phil actually ate two wives. And apparently a Frenchman was a victim of Big Phil's as well. Big Phil the Cannibal certainly was odd!

This Day in History - Nadia Comaneci Earns Her First Ten
by: April Rogers-Krick

On this day, July 18th, in 1976, 14-year old Nadia Comaneci earned the first ever perfect score, a ten, at the Montreal Olympics and went on to score it six more times and win three gold medals. Just a few months shy of her 15th birthday and standing only four foot eleven inches and weighing in at eighty-eight pounds Nadia Comaneci become the first person to ever score a perfect ten in Olympic gymnastic history. She scored four perfect tens in the uneven parallel bars and three perfect tens on the balance beam and the all-around competition, as well as a team silver and a bronze for her floor exercise. The Russian coach felt that the ten was wrong and criticized the judges. Russian gymnast, Olga Korbut, the darling of the 1972 Munich games, questioned Comaneci’s perfect marks. "I question the 10.0 that was given because there were two flaws in the performance," said Korbut, vying with Comaneci for popularity. Gymnastics fans were not surprised by the performance. At the 1975 European Championships, Comaneci won four gold medals and a silver. She also introduced the world to a new dismount on the uneven parallel bars which the International Gymnastics Federation officially named “The Comaneci Come Down.” It is no longer possible to compete in the Olympics at the age of 14, and following changes to the scoring system in 2008, it is no longer possible to score a perfect ten. There are very few Olympians who can say that their achievements will never be equaled, but Nadia Comaneci can with absolute certainty.

Stickney House (Suggested by listener Kelsey Hunt)

The Stickney House is one of the most unique houses in America and in the world because it was built with nearly no right angles. This was no accident and served a very specific purpose. The owners who built the home wanted to maximize the movement of spirits because they enjoyed interacting with spirits, but also wanted to prevent evil spirits from getting stuck in the corners. The same superstititions that inspired the Winchester Mansion seem to have inspired this home as well. The Stickneys were avid Spiritualists. It is no wonder that this home is reported to be haunted. Join us as explore the history and hauntings of the Stickney House!

The Stickney House is one of the oldest brick buildings located in Bull Valley, Illinois. Bull Valley is part of McHenry County and it is surrounded by some of the largest hills in the area. The village was known for trying to establish itself as a rural community and has made great efforts to retain that small town feel with nearly no government infrastructure. There is no retail business in the town and no electric street lamps. The little bit of government organized in Bull Valley keeps its offices in the Stickney House.

George Washington Stickney was born in New Hampshire in 1809. He moved from New York to the Bull Valley area in 1835. He married a woman named Sylvia Beckley in 1839. They built a log cabin in the Illinois wilderness at that time and as they prospered, they were able to begin construction on a much larger home in 1849. They liked the wilderness not only for farming, but also they wanted to avoid the typical town gossip and prying eyes. The Stickneys were Spiritualists and although they lived during a time in the 1800s when that form of spirituality was becoming more popular, they wanted to have their privacy. Stickney House was built in the style of an English country home and although today it would not necessarily be thought of as a mansion, it was at the time. This mansion was very unique for a number of reasons. The first thing that strikes us as bizarre is that the house was two stories and the entire second story was a ballroom. A huge ballroom in the middle of rural Illinois? And the other unusual characteristic of the house was that it was built with rounded corners, except for one that was a mistake.

No one knows for sure what inspired the Stickneys to get involved with Spiritualism, but the greatest pull was the desire to communicate with the spirits of dead loved ones. Specifically their children. The couple had ten children, but only three of them survived to adulthood. The large ballroom was not built for dancing. Large seances were held in the ballroom and the Stickneys invited people from the surrounding communities. It is believed that they built their house with rounded corners to facilitate the movement of spirits. The Stickneys may have believed that spirits could get trapped in a 90 degree corner. We've discussed this idea when talking about mirrors. Many cultures believe that rounded surfaces keep evil spirits away. The Shakers were building round barns in the early 1800s for this reason. The Chinese built houses with curved eaves to block evil spirits.

Many of the theories that paranormal investigators and ghost television shows espouse about ghosts come out of spiritualist beliefs. One of those is the idea that negative entities can be the spirits of people who were mean and nasty during their lifetimes and not just evil spirits. This is part of the idea that we carry our personality with us into the afterlife. The core of Spiritualism is the belief that we can communicate with the dead. And that is the essence of paranormal investigation. Sylvia Stickney was believed to be a very accomplished medium. Of course, the term accomplished is relative. Mediumship has its roots in ancient times, but it became popular during the 19th century and as Houdini helped to prove, much of the spirit communication going on was fraud. There is no information about the type of techniques used by the Stickneys, but they could have included table tipping, channeling, levitation and using talking boards.

The Stickney House served other purposes in its time. During the Civil War, the Union used the house as a headquarters. It also had the first piano to be found in McHenry County. George died in 1897. We read several websites that claimed that Sylvia outlived George, but we also found a site that claimed George was widowed and remarried. The 1880 census makes it clear that George was a widower. Sylvia's grave marker records her death in 1879. Records indicate that George remarried to a woman named Lavina Congdon. We're not sure what happened to the house directly after George's death. We know it was abandoned for certain time periods. Roderick Smith moved into the house in the 1970s and he would be the first to report hauntings in the house. Another couple bought the house in hopes of restoring it, but their money came to an end and the restoration did not happen. In 1985, the house became the property of the local government and now houses some government offices and the Bull Valley Police Department. It has been registered as a historic landmark. A 1991 article in the Chicago Tribune reported that Mary Hill and Verna Hogan were heading up efforts to restore the house back to the way it was when the Stickneys lived there and that they estimated it would cost several hundreds of thousands of dollars.

There are some who believe that the Stickneys were not into Spiritism because the craze was before they moved into their mansion in Bull Valley, but something seems to have been conjured in their home. Most of the corners were rounded in the mansion, but not all and it was in the one 90 degree angled corner that George Stickney was found slumped over with a horrified look on his face. Was it just a coincidence that he died in the one corner that his beliefs would have led him to believe an evil spirit could have been trapped? Kelsey told us that as kids, they were told the house was built with no corners, so that the Devil couldn't kill George Stickney. It would seem that the spirit of George is trapped in his former home. His full bodied apparition has been seen walking the halls.

Roderick Smith claimed that he often heard strange noises in the house and his dogs were very restless there. They never seemed comfortable and would growl at unseen things. Smith said that he had heard that Satanists had lived in the house before him and that they tainted the house with their black magic rituals. The truth was that hippies had lived in the mansion doing drugs and spray painting graffiti on the walls. They painted the walls in dark colors and built fires right on the floors of the house. More than likely, they were just squatters rather than devil worshippers. Smith was convinced they had created the heavy atmosphere.

The strangest spirit reported at the house is that of a woman in a wedding dress who is usually seen peeking around a curtain in one of the upstairs rooms. No one knows who she is, so some wonder if this is a conjured spirit from so many years ago. She was allegedly caught in a picture when a real estate agent took pictures of the property in preparation of putting it on the market. Some doubt that there are any hauntings at the Stickney property.

The couple who moved in after Roderick Smith reported no strange happenings, but the police have had several experiences. Officer Ken Hoffman witnessed several drawers opening and closing on their own. In 2007, Officer Hoffman and Police Chief Norbert Sauers both saw a woman in white walk past a front window while they were talking to each other in an office. They went outside to see who the woman was and she had disappeared. Chief Sauers is a skeptic, but he can't deny that he has heard footsteps and pounding in the walls and seen lights turn on and off. Several officers have quit after experiencing activity in the house.

The house certainly has a strange history if we are to believe it was a type of Spiritualist headquarters. Were spirits conjured here? Does George haunt his former home? Is he trapped along with other spirits? Is Stickney House haunted? That is for you to decide.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

HGB Ep. 136 - Hotel Jeffery

Moment in Oddity - The Graves of Charlie Silver
Suggested by Tammie McCarroll-Burroughs

The little community of Kona in North Carolina was the scene of a horrific crime in 1831. The details surrounding the murder of Charlie Silver has led to an unusual circumstance at the Kona Baptist Church Cemetery. Charlie was married to Frankie in 1830. They were young and seemed perfect for each other. But things went horribly wrong on December 2nd in 1831. Charlie had gone out to get some liquor for Christmas. When he got back home to Frankie and their 13-month-old daughter, he was a bit tipsy from imbibing while riding home. No one knows for sure exactly what happened next, but a fight ensues with Charlie grabbing a shotgun and threatening to kill Frankie and possibly their daughter. Frankie picks up an axe and uses it, killing Charlie. Now she was left with having to cover-up the murder. She hacked his body up and attempted to burn it in the cabin fireplace. A neighbor became suspicious and he visited the cabin when Frankie was away. He found greasy ashes in the fireplace, along with bone. He found a pool of blood beneath the floorboards as well. Charlie's torso and head were outside the cabin. Frankie was indicted for murder because she did not claim that she was defending herself, but rather just went with not guilty. Frankie was sentenced to death, but the community put out a lot of pressure for her to be pardoned. The execution went through in the end. Now the unusual circumstance is that people who visit the graveyard find a large granite stone with Charlie Silver's name on it, but that is not where Charlie was buried. Three natural stones rising behind the granite stone mark spots where Charlie was buried. You see, Charlie was not buried all at once. As they found bits and pieces of him, a new burial was done. Burying someone's body in separate places with individual markers certainly seems rather odd!

This Day in History - Colonists Reach Roanoke Island
by: April Rogers-Krick

On this day, July 13th, in 1584, a group of 108 English colonists reached Roanoke Island looking to settle in an unknown land. The expedition was funded by Sir Walter Raleigh and approved by Queen Elizabeth I, who had issued a charter allowing Raleigh to “discover, search, find out and view such remote heathen and barbarous lands, countries, and territories…to have, hold, occupy and enjoy.” Raleigh did not make the trip with the colonists. Under the commands of Phillip Amada and Arthur Barlowe, two ships sailed from England on April 27, 1584 and landed on the coast of North Carolina on July 13, 1584. This landing marked the first time the English flag waved in the New World. But this expedition would prove to be unsuccessful. The colonists were unable to establish a good rapport with the native peoples of the New World and lacked proper provisions for permanent settlement. The colonists would eventually return to England to prepare for another trip the following year. Sir Walter Raleigh reported the discovery of Roanoke Island to Queen Elizabeth I and the new territory was named Virginia, in honor of the Virgin Queen.

Hotel Jeffery (Suggested by listener Scott Stuller, Research Assistant Kristin Swintek)

Along the most scenic route to Yosemite National Park is the city of Coulterville, which is home to the historic Hotel Jeffery. The Magnolia Saloon that is part of the hotel is one of the only saloons in America that still has the traditional bat-wing doors and it is the oldest working saloon in California. The hotel has hosted the famous, but it also hosts some unique guests. The hotel is rumored to be haunted by 17 individual spirits and the unnerving part is that the hotel claims that most of the spirits are not malevolent, meaning that some are. Join us for the history and hauntings of Hotel Jeffery!

Coulterville, California is a very small mining town located in Mariposa County on Maxwell Creek. The town was settled by George W. Coulter in 1850 and he opened a tent store serving miners working in the Maxwell, Boneyard and Black creeks. The settlement was originally called Banderita (which is spanish for “Little Flag”) for the flag flying over the store. In 1853, a post office was established as Maxwell Creek and changed to Coulter a year later. The entire town is considered a historic landmark. During the Gold Rush, the town was a major gold mining and supply center. At that time, the town had an estimated population of 5,000 people. Coulter was very diverse with nine nationalities and it even included it’s own “Chinatown.” *Fun fact: Buffalo Bill Cody's brother Nelson was an agent at the Wells Fargo here in 1870.*

The town had its share of tragedy. In 1862, a major flood destroyed or damaged buildings along the creek. The element of fire would be the next destructive force. A large portion of the town was burned in three separate fires, each oddly occurring exactly 20 years apart starting in 1859, with the next in 1879 and the final one in 1899. In its heyday, the town boasted 25 saloons and 10 hotels. In the late 1800s, the town became a popular stop for tourists on their way to Yosemite National Park. In fact, the first paved road into Yosemite ran through Coulterville. Today, the town is not quite as bustling as it once was. The 2010 United States Census reported a population of only 200 people.

The building that would become The Hotel Jeffery was built in the 1840s by Mexicans and opened as a store. The walls were built from clay and rock and measured 30 inches thick. There was a Fandango Hall built on the upper floor. (We, of course, had no idea what Fandango was and the rabbit hole was interesting. First, you get the movie ticket selling website and then I found a ballroom dancer turned wrestler.) Fandango is a lively folk dance designed for couples that was created in Spain. It began in the 18th century. The dance is accompanied by guitar, castanets and hand clapping and can be danced by either male and female or couples or by two males who use it as a type of stand-off, mimicing each other's moves and trying to best each other. It is quite festive and the tempo increases as the songs and dancing continue. The Fandango made it into all of the Spanish colonies and each developed their own flair. *Fun fact: The Philippines being a Spanish colony had a Fandango dance that did not use castanets, but rather they carried glasses with candles in them that they occasionally swung around in the air.*

George Jeffery bought the building in 1851 and turned it into a hotel for stagecoach passengers and Gold-Rush era miners. The hotel took its name from him. Some famous guests include President Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, Mark Twain, Ralph Waldo Emerson and even Queen Elizabeth II. It is considered a historical landmark and was voted one of the most authentic western towns in the United States. It is located 28 miles from Yosemite National Park, and for many years has attracted visitors on their way to the National Park. The Oakland Tribune reported in 1941 that an old oak tree was located across the street from the hotel and that it was called "Hangman's Tree." Leon Ruiz was hung here in 1856 for killing two Chinese miners and robbing them. The tree was advertised as the business office of the necktie party set.

Up until the 1970s, the hotel had been owned by three generations of the same family. The Santa Ana Register reported in 1976 that the Magnolia Saloon had an antique no trespassing sing that read, "Trespassers will be persecuted to the full extent of two mongrel dogs which never was sociable to strangers and my double-barrelled shotgun which ain't loaded with sofa pillars. Derned if I ain't getting tired of the hell raisin' on my place."

This is not a luxury hotel by any means. The hotel has 20 rooms, some with their own bathroom, and others share a bathroom in the hall on the 3rd floor. The rooms also do not contain as many modern amenities as most hotels such as televisions or telephones. There is a TV room on the second floor where guests can visit and phone calls can be made at the front desk. Forrest Monk and Sara Zahn bought the hotel and have been trying to return it to its former glory. The rooms have been furnished with antique lights and chairs and crank telephones have been installed that still work. The Magnolia Saloon was restored and the original 40 ft. wooden bar and bar back was refinished. There are still bullet holes in the wall of the saloon, so we would surmise that people died here in gunfights. Dining options at the hotel include The Victoria Room and the Courtyard. On Saturdays, actors stage a western-style gun battle in the saloon.

The building caught fire on November 14, 2014, from “some kind of electrical problem” according to an article in The Modesto Bee. In another article from the Modesto Bee in March of 2015, owner Sara Zahn was working to repair damage to the building while updating some of the rooms and adding bathrooms, so the saloon could be opened. We're not certain on the current state of the hotel, but it does not seem to be open for business yet since the fire damage was so extensive. The Hotel Jeffrey is the main source of commerce and entertain for the current residents of Coulterville. Scott mentioned in his email that the hotel was being rebuilt and that the recent fire in the kitchen was mysterious.

Unlike many hotels who try not to advertise their paranormal activity, the Hotel Jeffery has an entire section of their website dedicated to their ghosts. The hotel claims to be home to 17 spirits and “ghost detecting kits” are available for guests to do a little investigating of their own. According to an article in the Union Democrat, the kit contains an EMF detector, motions sensors, and recording devices.

The hotel website boasts many accounts of guests and the owners strange happenings while staying or working in the hotel:
“Several months ago I was working in the registration office and around 2:00am I got up to lock the doors to the kitchen and outside through the dining room before going to sleep. All was well. In the morning, around 6:00am I went through the registration office to go to the kitchen. This is the route I always take in the morning as it is the only way to unlock everything. When I went through the dining room...right in the middle of my path was the cello, propped up facing me. The cello normally rests off to the side next to the piano about 20 feet on the other side of the room. No one had unlocked the doors between 2-6am.”
A jilted lover hung herself in Room 22 in the late 1800s. A guest staying in that room took a picture of a shadow on the door that he claims contains the shadow of an unknown person. He claims the shadow is not his own and there was no one else on the floor at the time. A work crew staying at the hotel while working on a nearby road had some startling experiences they reported. A female member of the crew was staying in room 19 and she awoke in the middle of the night to find the door to the room wide open. She got up to close the door and upon returning to bed, the blanket and sheet were pulling away from her. She phoned her boss stating that she was too afraid to stay in the room, and asked if she could stay with her boss in room 15. On her way down the hall to her boss’ room, all the doors to the rooms began slamming shut one after another. This was recounted by the woman’s boss as the guest in room 19 was too afraid to speak of the experience and refused to stay another night in the hotel.

Activity in Room 6 had steadily increased in the months after the hotel had been renovated. A man staying in Room 6 with his dog, awoke in the night when his dog began barking. The man felt as though he had been burned on his face and indeed when he awoke the next morning, there was a mark on his face, as if he had been punched. Another guest in Room 6 heard voices “right next to him” and would not come back.

Other guests claim to have heard running down the hallways and have complained that they hear children running up and down the hallways during the night, when in fact no children had been staying at the hotel. A group of paranormal investigators set up equipment in the Cedar Room. One of the investigator felt scratches on his back, and found marks left on his skin upon lifting his shirt. The owners of the hotel have heard disembodied footsteps in the Cedar Room. The owner states that “the room gives me the creeps and I won’t go in it by myself if the lights are not on.”

HPI Paranormal Investigators paid a visit to the hotel on Saturday, April 21, 2012. They reported that camera batteries quickly drained and “dead” compasses suddenly came to life and behaved strangely. They interviewed employees and a dishwasher told them that the stove burners turn themselves off and on and the saloon doors swing on their own. Guests told the investigators that they often smell cigar smoke when no one in the bar or around the hotel is smoking any cigars or they might catch a whiff of perfume drifting by from an unseen entity. Locals recounted the legend of the “Red Eyed Roof Crawler” who is a dark figure that walks on all fours and sports red glowing eyes. This “creature” has been seen on the roof of the hotel and usually appears during a full moon. Many locals claim to have seen the Red Eyed Roof Crawler but the paranormal group did not encounter any unusual creatures during their stay.

The group conducted a seance and during that a shadow person was seen, orbs were seen floating around the room via night vision googles, an EVP of a male voice was recorded although the words are not clear and one investigator was scratched on the back. Some of the investigators also recorded EVPs in their rooms. When they asked 'Is anyone here?', they would receive a voice confirming 'Yes.'"

Our listener Scott told us, "I live in this area and once went into the hotel to take a look around.  A women greeted me upon entering and said, 'Yes this hotel is haunted and you came in to take a look for yourself.  Go ahead look, but don't go in any room with the door closed at you will disturb guests.' I didn't ask to look around and didn't know the place had a reputation for being haunted.  I guess enough people have gone in to ask to look around that she gives this greeting to everyone."

From TripAdvisor:
"The hotel is a remarkable place! Since we absolutely LOVE history, it was wonderful staying in a place over 150 years old. It was clean, upkept, and the food was delicious! However, I experienced something I've NEVER experienced before...not thinking too much that the hotel could be haunted...because I am very much a skeptic regarding those things. Yet, here is my story...

It was a Thursday evening when my family and I were eating dinner in the saloon. Thunder and lightning began while we were talking with one of the owners, so he gave us 3 little laterns just in case the electricity would be lost. Once in our room we settled to watch a movie. Our room was at the end of the hall (8 & 9) with a sitting room (tv-dvd player) between the rooms. This room is small, so I just laid across the width of my bed in room 8 watching the movie while my husband and children sat on the satee in the small sitting room. While watching the movie, I heard the door handle turn and people talking (murmering) but couldn't make out what was being said--so I looked at the door -- the handle was moving as if someone was outside the door turning it to come in. (They couldn't because our door was locked). I tiptoed to the door to see who might be outside--through the eye piece I saw a woman (over to the left) wearing an 1800's dress with a nursing cap dabbing the forehead of an older man (who looked to be bald with light hair around the edge of his head). Thinking it was a trick--I quickly and quietly got my husband to see this also. As I was quietly approaching the door eye look out again--they were still there. Moving back for my husband to see--he peeked through the door. He didn't see a thing. Again, thinking this was a joke played on us...we opened the door--no one was out in the hall. I cannot explain what I saw--but, am I still a skeptic? Not as much as I was when we first came to the hotel."
Coulterville is a very historic town holding on to its old west roots. Is it holding on to spirits from that bygone era? Do the spirits of previous guests still walk the halls of the hotel in the afterlife? Is Hotel Jeffery haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:,_California

Grimm, M., & Grimm, T. (1990, January 21). Coulterville Streets Lined with History. Los Angeles Times.

Jardine, J. (2014, November 12). Coulterville's historic Jeffery Hotel badly damaged by fire, but owner confident it will rise once more. The Modesto Bee. Retrieved June 25, 2016, from

Jardine, J. (2015, March 9). Historic Hotel Jeffery making progress after fire. The Modesto Bee. Retrieved June 25, 2016, from

Cambell, R. (2015, August 23). Hotel Jeffery reopens in 1800s style. The Union Democrat. Retrieved July 5, 2016, from

Friday, July 8, 2016

HGB Ep. 135 - Tevennec Lighthouse

Moment in Oddity - The Ritualistic Burial of 12,000 Year Old Shaman

The skeleton of a woman measuring about 4 feet 9 inches tall and about 45 years old was found in a cave in Israel. The cave had served as a burial place for around 28 people and this diminutive woman seemed to be the most important figure of the group. She was more than likely a shaman and this was surmised because of the objects found buried with her. They included the bones of several animals: a wild cow tail, an eagle's wings, marten skulls, a leopard's pelvis, a boar's forearm and a human foot. Even more fascinating is the ritual that was involved with burying this woman some 12,000 years ago. Archaeologists were able to piece together the 6 step ritual based on items found in the grave. The first step entailed preparing the burial pit. An oval shape was marked out in bedrock and then the bedrock was broken up and pulled out. The floor and walls were then covered with mud. The second and third steps added on more preparation for the grave. Limestone blocks were used to line the pit along with unique artifacts like tortoise shells and gazelle horns. The artifacts were then covered with a layer of ash. The body was placed in the pit during the fourth step in a squatting position. Tortoise shells were placed under the head and pelvis. Animal bones were placed around the body. Stage five was a burial feast and the garbage from that feast was thrown into the pit, which included more animal bones and up to 86 tortoise shells. It is estimated that nearly 55 pounds of meat were eaten at the feast. The sixth and final step was sealing the pit with a triangluar shaped piece of limestone. This shaman's grave proves the theory that burials were an elaborate ceremony even several thousands of years ago. This way of paying respect to the dead is interesting and quite odd!

This Day in History - UFO Crashes in Roswell
by: April Rogers-Krick

On this day, July 8th, in 1947, a mysterious flying disc was reported to have crash landed in Roswell, New Mexico. The headline of The Roswell Daily Record read, “RAFF Captures Flying Saucer on Ranch in Roswell Region.” A local rancher named Mac Brazel found a mess of metallic sticks held together with tape, chunks of plastic and foil reflectors and scraps of a heavy, glossy, paper-like material in his sheep pasture. No one was able to identify the objects. Brazel called Roswell’s sheriff. The sheriff in turn called officials at the nearby Roswell Army Air Force base. Soldiers called to the scene fanned out across the field gathering the mysterious debris and whisking it away in armored trucks. On July 9th, an Air Force official clarified the newspaper’s report. He claimed the alleged “flying saucer” was only a crashed weather balloon. But to anyone who had seen the debris or the photographs from the newspaper, it was clear that whatever this thing was, it was not a weather balloon. Some believed – and still believe – that the crashed vehicle had not come from Earth. They argued the debris must have come from an alien spaceship.

Tevennec Lighthouse (Suggested by listener Janet Sheppard, Research Assistant April Rogers-Krick)

A tiny, uninhabitable, rocky island sits off the coast of Pointe du Raz, in western Brittany, France in Raz de Sein. This island is home to Tevennec Lighthouse. Lighthouses are meant to prevent deaths by guiding ships through dangerous waters. But Tevennec has been the scene of death many times and even before the lighthouse was built, local folklore tells of a history of death and haunting on the island. Legend says that Tevennec was home to Ankou, the Breton name for Death himself. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of Tevennec Lighthouse!

Brittany was known as Armorican peninsula in antiquity and its rich history is evidenced in the numerous Neolithic monuments found there. The standing stones of the region have perplexed historians for centuries.The burial chambers predate the Egyptian pyramids by a long time. These chambers are similar to the mounds we see in America and they consisted of a dolmen, or stone chamber, where the bodies were placed and then they were covered with an earthen mound called a tumulus. The strong Celtic culture that grew here was sujugated when the Romans came. Caesar ruled Brittany with an iron fist. As Roman rule faded, people immigrated here from Wales, Ireland and England and it became known as "Little Britain" or Brittany at that time. In the 17th and 18th century, the French monarchy took control of Brittany. Today, the area enjoys good relations with Great Britain.

Pointe du Raz is one of Brittany's most popular natural sites. The charming beauty of this area inspired Victor Hugo to include it in his works. Cliffs tower above perilous waters. The Baie des Trépassés or Bay of the Dead holds the remains of numerous shipwrecks that were overpowered by the currents here, which are some of the strongest in Europe. It only makes sense that this spot would need a lighthouse. But the spot chosen to build the lighthouse was remote, on a rocky outpost that was battered routinely by waves. The light was lit here for the first time in 1875. The first lighthouse had a little cottage attached to it and the first keeper, Henri Guezennec, took his post that same year. One can only imagine how difficult it would be to be stuck in a dangerous remote place with no human contact. It was that living alone on that desolate island with no outside communications for extended periods of time that lead to Guezennec going mad. He claimed to hear voices chanting “Kerz-kuit”, which is Breton for "leave her." Each subsequent keeper faced the same issues and many died.

In 1893, it was decided by the authorities that two man crews should operate the light and that keepers should only spend a maximum of one year at Tevennec. The hope was to keep these men from going nuts or killing themselves. It would seem that the keepers were never really alone before though, based on the stories of hauntings. Crucifixes were embedded into the rock on the island with the hopes of exorcising the ghosts and even a priest performed an exorcism of the island. It wasn't just that men were losing their minds and seeing things. There was a true basis in superstition. To understand those beliefs, we need to look at a terrifying creature named the Ankou.

In the Celtic folklore of Brittany, the Ankou is a death omen that collects the souls of the dead. It travels the lanes of Brittany, preying on unsuspecting individuals. This creatures reveals itself in many forms. One of the more common is for The Ankou, or King of the Dead, to inhabit the last person to die in a certain area in a calendar year. So don't die on New Year's Eve. For the following year he or she assumes the duty of calling for the dead. The other common depiction of the Ankou is as a tall, haggard figure with long white hair, usually skeletal in nature with a revolving head able to see everyone everywhere. It drives a spectral cart accompanied by two ghostly figures on foot and stops at the house of the one who is about to die. It knocks on the door – making a sound that is sometimes heard by the living – or gives out a mournful wail like the Irish Banshee. Sometimes it's reported to be seen as an apparition entering the house. It enlists the help of its two ghost companions to load the dead person onto its cart. As one can see, the Ankou is a powerful figure that dominates Breton folklore.

When Christianity arrived in Brittany, the story of the Ankou was amended, including St. Peter as a type of hero, blinding the Ankou. The story as told by the website Mysterious Britain tells it this way:
"St. Peter came down to walk beside the Ankou in his grim task. As the darkness grew, they passed by a farmer and his servant still working in the fields by the side of the lane. The creaking of the Ankou’s cart startled the farmer who fell to his knees and hid his face from sight. The servant however continued to cut the hay, singing all the time in his strong melodic voice. The Ankou stopped the cart and shouted that the servant would be dead within 8 days, but the servant kept on singing defiantly. At this challenge to authority, the Ankou’s eyes lit up like fire and he readied himself to strike down the servant, but St. Peter jumped between the Ankou and his prize, blessing the servant with long life and taking the fire from the Ankou's eyes. Thus the Ankou was left blind and less able to strike down souls in the dark leafy lanes of Brittany."
So we have the first pair of keepers taking their post in 1893. And then one of them died unexpectedly. In 1897, it was decided that lighthouse keepers could let their wives accompany them to this formidable post. This did not seem to solve the problem of death visiting the lighthouse. One keeper died, leaving his wife to salt his corpse until he could be collected. The third keeper, a man called Meliper, was found dead in his bed. The fourth, Roperts, kept the light with his elderly father. One day Roparts found his father dead. He had slit his throat with his shaving-razor. Other tales of a keeper falling on a knife and a child of a keeper dying have been shared, but unconfirmed for many years. Louis and Marie Jacquette Quemere along with their three children and a cow, spent a significant amount of time at the post. The family had no documented encounters with ghosts or deaths.

The weather has proved to be a bigger problem than the hauntings. The waves crashing against the rock here have brought many a ship to its bitter end, but they have also brought an end to the cottage on three occasions. It was rebuilt each time. Things came to a head when a horrible storm destroyed the wall of the living-room while the last lighthouse-keepers wife was in the process of giving birth. It was decided that something had to be done and the lighthouse was fully automated in 1910. And the lighthouse was basically abandoned. For over a hundred years, no keeper has resided at the lighthouse.

In 2015, on the 140th anniversary of the building of Tevennec Lighthouse, the founder of the National Society For Heritage, Marc Pointud, announced he was planning to spend two months alone at Tevennec. He wanted to raise awareness for the restoration of France’s forgotten lighthouses. Pointud's goal was to turn the lighthouse into an artist retreat. The lighthouse had no furnishings so he would have to take the bare basics with him and he said he would be living like a prisoner. He started a fund to help raise the money needed to restore the lighthouse. Pointud pointed out that he was not worried about the ghost tales because he did not believe in ghosts. And he figured he would keep madness at bay because he would have a telephone and Internet communication with the mainland, something that the early keepers were denied.

Due to bad weather, the 2015 project was delayed. Pointud is quoted as saying at that time, “ There is too much sea and we cannot dock or unload the material.” A French newspaper reported at the beginning of February 2016 that another attempt would be made on February 27. There is little information about his stay on the island, but we did confirm that he spent two months on the island with no incident of ghosts, hauntings, or otherwise.

The Tevennec Lighthouse keeps watch over the ships in the sea, but is there something else keeping watch on the craggy island? Do the spirits of shipwrecked crews haunt the island. Are the ghosts of dead keepers still doing their job in the afterlife? Does the King of the Dead reign here? Is Tevennec Lighthouse haunted? That is for you to decide!

Bel Air Cemetery at Seychelles Island by Joerg Nagorski:

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

HGB BonusCast 19 - Haunted America Conference Review 2016

In one of their longer episodes to date, Diane and Denise bring you their experiences from the Haunted America Conference 2016 held in haunted Alton, Illinois. Hear sound bites from lectures by Dr. Alan Brown featuring haunted B & Bs and Sherri Brake featuring Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum! Join them for snippets from the Haunted Alton Ghost Walk and hear about experiences felt by Spooktacular Crew members Heather and Tammie. And finally they share part of their private tour of the Lemp Mansion! If you like to hear about ghostly experiences and get a taste of what a trip with Diane and Denise is like, you'll really enjoy this BonusCast. Never miss a BonusCast by becoming an Executive Producer at the $5 a month level. You make things like this possible!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

HGB Ep. 134 - Island of Corregidor

Moment in Oddity - Legend of the Piasa

Walking around the city of Alton, Illinois,one notices that streets and businesses share a distinctive name: Piasa. They are named for the only North American legend about a dragon. Some might call the creature a flying saurian or reptile. The legend originates with the indigenous people of the area and there was once a rock that featured an image of the Piasa that was written about by Father Marquette and Louis Joliet in 1673 after they had explored the Mississippi River and they were returning home via the Illinois River. The name Piasa means "destroyer of men." Captain Gideon Spencer was coming up the Mississippi River in 1820 when he saw the Piasa on the rock. He asked a local tribe about it and they told him it had been carved in the rock long ago by another tribe and that it represented the Stormbird or Thunderer. The image was described as depicting a creature that was part bird, reptile, mammal, and fish. The colors used in early paintings were red, black and green with red symbolizing war and vengeance, black symbolizing death and despair and green symbolizing hope and triumph over death. One of the legends claims that the Piasa lived in the forest and it would come out in the early morning and carry off young native men. The tribe was helpless to do anything as the Piasa was very large with broad wings and its body was covered with scales. The chief of the tribe prayed and fasted and the Great Spirit showed him in a vision that the Piasa was vulnerable under its wings. The next day, the warriors hid with poison tipped arrows as the chief offered himself up to the creature. When the Piasa dug its talon into him, he grabbed and held tight to some roots on the ground while the warriors jumped out and shot arrows under the wings. Eventually the Piasa succumbed to the poison and fell from the cliff to the river below. It was on this rock where this happened that the image was painted. In 1847, a quarry eventually destroyed the image, but today a modern day rendition still exists in Alton and it is considered the most accurate portrayal of the Piasa. Did the Piasa actually exist? Was it just a legend? Either way. the Piasa certainly is odd!

This Day in History _ Washington Takes Command of Continental Army
by: April Rogers-Krick

On this day, July 3rd, in 1775 on Cambridge common in Massachusetts, George Washington rode out in front of the American troops, drew his sword, and formally took command of the Continental Army. George Washington, was a prominent Virginia planter and veteran of the French and Indian War. He was appointed commander in chief by the Continental Congress two weeks before and in serving the American colonies in their war for independence, he declined to accept payment for his services beyond reimbursement of future expenses. Born in 1732 on a farm family in Westmoreland County, Virginia, Washington’s first direct military experience came as a lieutenant in the Virginia colonial militia in 1754, when he led a small expedition against the French in the Ohio River valley on behalf of the governor of Virginia. In 1756. he took command of the defenses of the western Virginian frontier during the French and Indian War. After the war’s fighting moved elsewhere, he resigned from his military post, returned to a planter’s life, and took a seat in Virginia’s House of Burgesses. During the next twenty years, Washington openly opposed the increasing British taxation and repression of the American colonies. Some opposed Washington's nomination as Commander in Chief thinking other candidates were better equipped for the post, but Washington was chosen because as a Virginian, his leadership helped bind the Southern colonies more closely to the rebellion in New England. Leading an inexperienced and poorly equipped army of civilian soldiers, General Washington led an effective war of harassment against British forces in America while encouraging the intervention of the French into the conflict on behalf of the colonists. On October 19, 1781, with the surrender of British General Charles Lord Cornwallis’ massive British army at Yorktown, Virginia, General Washington had defeated one of the most powerful nations on earth.

Island of Corregidor (Suggested by listener April Garaci, Research Assistant Richard Schaffer)

The island of Corregidor in the Phillipines is a battle-scarred stretch of land known by some as "The Rock." Debris reminds the visitor that this once was a part of the war theater during World War II. The island has played host to fishermen, pirates, the Spanish, American military and the Japanese. Today, it is a vacation destination for people around the world who can enjoy a stay at either a hotel or resort on the island. The turmoil that has been experienced on the island has lead to it being rumored as haunted and the legend of the bloodstones was born. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of Corregidor Island!

Corregidor Island is one of five islands located by the entrance to Manila Bay. The island consists of about 1,735 acres and is about 4 miles long. If you look at the island from above it would appear to look like a “tadpole with its head thrusting into the South China Sea, and its body and tail curling east and south back into Manila Bay”. (1) The highest elevation of Corregidor is 628 feet and exists in the “head” region. This is the site of the original lighthouse built by the Spanish in the 1830s. There are two plateaus on the island called Topside and Middleside. Bottomside is about sea level. Manila is only 30 miles away but there is a slight difference in climate, which affords cooler temperatures for the small tropical island. Some of the vegetation includes, “fire trees, bougainvilla, hibiscus, palm trees, cadena de amor, and orchids”. (2)  There is some debate as to whether Corregidor is part of a dormant or active volcano.

The island was originally populated by indigenous fisherman and pirates used it as a base for rest and launching attacks. The Spanish were the first to take Corregidor Island as their property in 1570. Miguel López de Legazpi lead the expedition. He was known as The Elder and he was the first Governor-General of the Spanish East Indies and he established Manila as its capital. The Philippines were named for King Philip II of Spain who had ordered the expeditions to the area. The Spanish used the island as a penal institution, for customs inspections and a fortress of defense. Corregidor comes from the Spanish word “corregir,” meaning to correct. One story states that due to the Spanish system wherein all ships entering Manila Bay were required to stop and have their documents checked and corrected, the island was called "Isla del Corregidor" (Island of the Correction). Another version claims that because the island was used as a correctional institution by the Spanish, that is why they called it "El Corregidor."

In 1574, the Chinese pirate Limahong attacked Manila. He failed and left his anchorage near Corregidor. The Dutchman Olivier van Noort began pirate activity just off the island a few years later. The Spanish drove his two ships away, but eventually the Dutch would return and capture the island in 1647. After seven months, the Dutch left and the Spanish were in control once again. Eventually, in 1853, the Spanish built their lighthouse, which was visible for 20 miles. The Spanish-American War started in 1898 and on May 3rd, two American ships went ashore on Corregidor and forced the Spanish to surrender. This effectively ended Spain's 328 year rule of the island.

When America took over the island they made it into a military complex. A hospital, barracks, bombproof shelters, gun emplacements and batteries, a school, theater, a baseball field, and swimming pool were all constructed. Bottomside has a large hill to its east that rises to an elevation of 390 feet. The hill is called "Malinta," and it made passage very difficult from Bottomside to the tail end of the island. The Americans decided that it was the perfect place to build a bombproof shelter and they drove a shaft from a rock quarry at Bottomside directly through the hill, creating the famous Malinta Tunnel. Construction began in 1922 and it took 10 years to complete. The tunnel stretched 835 feet and was 24 feet wide and a height at the top of its arch measured 18 feet. There were these arms that came off the center tunnel that were called laterals and there were 13 of them on its north side and another 11 laterals on the south side. The laterals measured about 160 feet in length. An electric trolley line ran down the center tunnel, which was formed with concrete. Blowers helped to circulate air. The tunnel was initially used to store munitions and other military goods and hardware.

The tunnel provided complete protection from artillery or air attack. Thus, it was a good spot for a hospital and so a hospital was built into the tunnels with a 1,000-bed capacity. The hospital took up 10 laterals and each lateral had a capacity of 100 beds. Of the remaining two laterals, one was used as quarters for the female staff of the hospital and the other housed administrative offices. The female staff had the only heavy steel door in the complex and they bolted it each night for security and privacy. General Douglas MacArthur set up the headquarters of USAFFE inside the tunnel where men and women would live and work during the siege of Corregidor. The tunnel was a miserable place. It was damp and dark and the blue mercury vapor lights would flicker giving inadequate light. Bedbugs bit, little black flies swarmed and dust clung to everything. About 4,000 people called the tunnel home.

Corregidor was known as "Fort Mills" to the Americans. They named it this in 1908 after Brigadier General Samuel Meyers Mills, Jr. During World War II, Corregidor was attacked by the Japanese and was heavily damaged. The Japanese navy bombarded the little island destroying guns, batteries, and other infrastructure. American Marines were killed and maimed in the onslaught. They held on while the world watched and waited with baited breath. After the bombardment the Japanese sent an amphibious assault force to the beaches of Corregidor. The Americans repulsed the initial force but soon the Japanese began landing tanks and troops. American forces fought until the tanks were almost to Malinta Tunnel. General MacArthur had given orders that the island be defended to the last man, but General Wainwright saw how pointless it would be to continue the fight. He knew that it would only lead to his troops being slaughtered.

Lt. Gen. Masaharu Homma demanded that Wainwright not only surrender Corregidor Island, but all the islands that the Americans held. It was a heartbreaking decision by Wainwright to finally capitulate to these demands. The surrender occurred on May 6, 1942. The Americans had managed to successfully smuggle intelligence agents, medical professionals, and other important personnel on a submarine before Corregidor fell. The troops left behind were sent on brutal forced marches to prison camps such as Bataan. The Japanese would occupy the island until the Americans came back and MacArthur fulfilled his promise with the help of the Filipinos in 1945. A large number of Japanese soldiers committed suicide in the Malinta Tunnel, rather than surrender to the invading Americans and this is one of the largest mass suicides in history. For the Japanese, it was an honor for them to die in this way. It was described as:
"Many Japanese, estimated in the thousands, sealed themselves in the numerous subterranean passages of the island. In compliance with the philosophy of Bushido, the defenders, hiding in caves and tunnels like the ones at Malinta Hill, preferred to commit suicide rather than surrender. Corregidor reverberated with many underground explosions for days afterward."
*Fun Fact: The Philippine government sent 20-30 tons of its gold reserve to the island because it was thought that this was the safest place. The gold was airlifted out and the silver coins were dumped in the bay before the Japanese attack.*

This brings us to an event clouded in controversy as some believe that it never occurred. That is the Jabidah Massacre or the Corregidor Massacre that is reputed to have happened in the 1960s. The reason that some believe it never happened is that the government was involved and tried to cover up the action. There is very little documentation, but here is what the story is behind the event. Sabah is in northeast Borneo and is one of two Malaysian states on Borneo. It has long been an area of contention between island nations there, specifically Malaysia and the Philippines. The Philippines had claimed that a sultan had given them the land many years prior as thanks for help during a battle. Malaysia claimed the land had been purchased by them. When Ferdinand Marcos became president of the Philippines, he devised a plan to establish a group of special forces to destabilize Sabah and make it easier for the Philippines to take Sabah as its own. He named it Operation Merdeka. Two hundred young Muslim recruits were brought to Corregidor for training and the unit was called Jabidah.

The Jabidah unit had no idea what they were really training for. They were excited with the idea of being special commandos who would be used for protection. The recruits began to feel disgruntled when their promised pay did not come. When they discovered that they were really being trained to attack their fellow Muslims in Sabah, some of whom might be their own family members, mutiny ensued. Only one man survived the carnage and he reported that the recruits had been taken out in groups of twelve to an airstrip where they were mowed down. A later court martial that eventually made its way to the Supreme Court revealed that something did indeed happen on the island, but exact numbers of dead has never been made clear.

Today, Corregidor is a historic monument that offers tours of the island and the Malinta Tunnel. The United States Government built a Pacific War Memorial at Topside. It is a rotunda with a circular altar. The dome allows light through and this light hits the altar on May 5th at exactly noon to signify the surrender of the troops there. The Malinta Tunnel has an audio-visual presentation by National Artist Lamberto V. Avellana. There is a Filipino Heroes Memorial at Tail End that was built in 1992. And a Japanese Memorial Garden was built in honor of the Japanese soldiers who died here. The lighthouse still stands here and was reconstructed in the 1950s to fix war damage.

Corregidor Island has been named one of the top ten haunted islands in the world, more than likely for the thousands of deaths that have occurred there. The Malinta Tunnel offers ghost tours and hunts. The hospital ruins are creepy, as well as the old bunkers, which are all becoming overgrown with vegetation. These areas have reports of hauntings as well. The hospital is considered the most haunted area on the island.

The Ghost Hunted Blog reports that tourists who visit the hospital ruins have reported hearing footsteps, rumblings of normal hospital activities, and wails of people. Screams of pain or shouts for help have been heard around the bunker area. There are not as many sightings of full bodied apparitions, but people claim to have captured shadows and orbs in picture. Disembodied footsteps and the distant rumbles of war machines echo through the corridor of time.

The Filipino magazine People's Tonight reported that a psychic visited the island and claimed the spirits of the Japanese soldiers that had committed suicide in the Malinta Tunnel still remain. A photo that was taken in the tunnel features two blurred men, one wearing a uniform and half kneeling with his back to the camera and the other sitting on the lower bunk of a bed.

On the beach you can find bloodstones. It is thought that these stones have a red hue from dead troops storming the beaches. This island seems to hold on to its haunting tales as it is hard to find anyone with an actual story of an experience out there. The legend of hauntings on this island may be due more to the fact that it has been the scene of great violence rather than the scene of actual spirits. But anyone who visits the island cannot deny the eerie feelings they experience as they wander among the ruins. Is Corregidor Island haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:
(1)  "Map of The Island Group." Map of The Island Group. Accessed June 10, 2016.
(2) Ibid