Sunday, February 26, 2017
HGB Ep. 186 - The Life and Afterlife of Patsy Cline
Moment in Oddity - Court of Mysteries
(Suggested by: Sasha Wolfe)
There was an abandoned home in Santa Cruz, California known as the "Court of Mysteries." It was built by Kenneth Kitchen and his brother Raymond. Kenneth was a bricklayer and Raymond was a mason and they built many homes together in the area. Kenneth was inspired by mysticism and occult spiritualism and he decided that he wanted to build himself a home on a goat farm he owned. He wanted to model it after a Hindu temple. He hauled all the bricks himself in his car. He built the home at night, which was peculiar. When it was finished, it had two towers with an archway in the front that was called the “Gate of Prophesy.” The gate arch has four square-tapered minarets that had windows bearing opaque, onyx- grained glass, that were picturesque when lit. What was really strange was the mysterious triangular relief atop the arch. It resembled an all-seeing-eye and reportedly is a celestial chart that portends a celestial alignment between the plaque and temple's chimney, signaling an apocalypse before the "Age of Peace." Everything was covered in abalone mosaics. The well house was made like a crypt and had four minarets. These odd accoutrements have awed craftsmen with the curving brickwork and bulbous granite domes. There was also a peculiar device in the front yard that was called a Submarine Stopping Machine. Apparently, it worked and caused issues for the US Navy during World War II. Kenneth moved out and just disappeared in 1957. For years, it was a place for teenagers to hang out and vandalize. Today, it is privately owned and under restoration to its former temple inspiration and that certainly is odd!
This Month in History - The Day the Music Died
In the month of February, in 1959, American rock stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson were killed in a plane crash. That day came to be known as "The Day the Music Died." Buddy Holly and his band the Crickets were headlining the Winter Dance Party Tour that included Valens and the Big Bopper. They had been traveling from city to city by bus, but they started having mechanical issues with the bus. Holly decided to charter a plane to fly his band to the next stop in Moorehead, Minnesota. There were not enough seats for everybody. The Big Bopper pleaded with Waylon Jennings, who was a member of Holly's band at that time, to give up his seat because the Big Bopper had the flu and was not feeling well. The last seat went to Richie Valens when he won a coin toss. The group boarded the Beechcraft Bonanza and took off from the airport in Mason City. A few minutes later, it crashed in Iowa. Investigators blamed the crash on pilot error and the snow and ice that had gathered on the wings. The Big Bopper was only 28 and had his hit "Chantilly Lace" in the Top 10. Holly was 22 and was becoming a major star with hits like “Peggy Sue,” “Oh, Boy!,” “Maybe Baby” and “Early in the Morning.” Valens was a mere 17 when he died in the crash and was just emerging onto the scene with his hits “Come On, Let’s Go,” “Donna” and “La Bamba.”
The Life and Afterlife of Patsy Cline
Patsy Cline grew to become one of country music's biggest stars and although she died young at the age of thirty, her influence has continued to our present day. She had a cowgirl image, but she was one of the first country stars to cross over to the pop charts. She also paved the way for women to be headliners at shows and she became the first female solo performer inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. She survived two horrible car accidents, but the third crash she would be involved in aboard a plane would finally take her life. Her spirit reputedly has continued on in the afterlife. From the field where she died to some of the music venues she performed at, the spirit of Cline has been making appearances. We are joined by author Matt Swayne to share the life and afterlife of Patsy Cline!
Virginia Patterson Hensley was born in Winchester, Virginia on September 8, 1932 to Samuel and Hilda Hensley. Samuel was forty-one when he married 16-year-old Hilda and he would abandon the family in 1947 when Ginny, which is what the family called Patsy, was only fifteen. Ginny started playing the piano when she was only eight and she was largely self taught. A few years later she would discover her voice and really enjoyed singing. Rheumatic fever brought a throat infection when she was thirteen and she claimed that after she recovered, she had a booming voice like Kate Smith. At sixteen, she dropped out of school, so she could work to help support the family. She had a younger brother and sister. Ginny worked at a poultry plant and as a soda jerk. Disc jockey Jimmy McCoy let Ginny sing on his local radio show at WINC. She also started singing at local clubs.
Bill Peer was a bandleader and he became Ginny's manager. She started performing with his group and he suggested that she change her name. He thought Patsy suited her better and he got this from her middle name Patterson. She began performing as Patsy Hensley in 1952. She met contractor Gerald Cline around this time and by 1953, the couple was married. And Patsy Cline would be the name that would stick for this legend. In 1954, Bill Peer shopped Cline to Four Star Records and got her a recording contract. A part of the contract restricted Cline to performing only songs written by Four Star Records song writers. Cline accepted the contract because she thought it was her only opportunity, but she regretted that decision later as she was not thrilled with the material provided to her for performing. She was free to perform what she wanted at the Grand Ole Opry and that helped her to feel a little less stifled.
These early songs did not receive much attention. Cline was afraid to go beyond the twang of country, but Owen Bradley, who was a producer at Decca Records approached Cline and said her vocal range suited pop perfectly and she should consider singing torch songs. Cline declined to go that route at the time. While her music career was hitting a wall, her marriage to Gerald was doing the same. Gerald wanted Cline to be the little housewife, but she wanted to continue to pursue her music career. They divorced on July 4, 1957. Her career then began its upward climb as more people heard her iconic vocal range. She remarried to Charles Dick in September of 1957, a few short months after her divorce. Cline would call him the love of her life. They met at an Armory dance where she was performing. Cline was still married at the time, but that wasn't her only relationship entanglement. Her manager Bill Peer was her on again/off again lover. Charles and Patsy started an affair regardless.
Arthur Godfrey hosted a program on CBS-TV called Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts. Cline auditioned to be on the show and she appeared in 1957. She wanted to sing "A Poor Man's Roses (Or a Rich Man's Gold), but the producers wanted her to sing a song written by Donn Hecht and Alan Block. It was called "Walkin' After Midnight." The producers also insisted that she wear a cocktail dress rather then one of her cowgirl get-ups. She was an absolute hit. Godfrey used to have this meter that measured applause and it went nuts while she sang. The song went on to rise up the country and pop charts and Cline was a star. In 1958, Patsy gave birth to a daughter named Julie. Reputedly, Charles started beating on Patsy and they had a tumultuous relationship. Patsy gave birth to a son in 1961.
Randy Hughes was a session guitarist and he became Patsy's new manager at this time. Decca Records offered her a contract and as you will recall, one of its producers wanted Patsy to use her voice for pop torch songs. This was really the opportunity Patsy had been looking for: freedom to record what she wanted. She joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee and started releasing her biggest hits with "I Fall to Pieces" hitting number one on the country charts in 1961. That song was a pop crossover as well and hit 12 on the pop chart. It was written by Hank Cochran and Harlan Howard. Willie Nelson wrote "Crazy" and it was an instant hit for Cline. She released it in 1961 as well and it became her signature song.
That same year, Cline survived a traumatic car crash in which she was thrown through the windshield of the car in which she was riding. Patsy had a huge gash in her forehead that would leave her with a permanent scar. She also had a dislocated hip and had to spend a month in the hospital. She rededicated her life to Christ. In 1962, things got even bigger for Cline. She recorded "She's Got You" and it hit number one also on the country charts. George Jones, Johnny Cash, June Carter and Loretta Lynn all performed with Patsy. As Matt shares, Cline mentored Loretta Lynn. She not only helped female artists out, she loved hanging with the boys and she could hold her own. Singer George Riddle said of her, "It wasn't unusual for her to sit down and have a beer and tell a joke, and she'd never be offended at the guys' jokes either, because most of the time she'd tell a joke dirtier than you! Patsy was full of life". She also told concert promoters, "No dough, no show" and made them pay her before she performed.
Cline seemed to know that her death was imminent. After recording her fourth and what would be her final album, Patsy held up her first album and then gestured at the recording booth and said, "Well, here it is...the first and the last." A month later, March 3, 1963, she was performing at a benefit at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Kansas City. The benefit was to raise money for the family of a disc jockey named "Cactus" Jack Call. Ironically, he had died in an automobile crash. Patsy gave three performances even though she was ill with the flu. Her final song was "I'll Sail My Ship Alone".
Cline wanted to fly out the next day, but the thick fog in the area grounded all planes. Some friends asked Cline to ride home with them in their car, but she refused. She finally was able to fly out on March 5th and she did so on a Piper PA-24 Comanche plane, aircraft registration number N-7000P. The plane took off at 6:07pm. Winds were high and the pilot was not trained in instrument flying. The airfield manager suggested that the plane not leave. The pilot tried to use visual flight rules (VFR), but that didn't work because of the driving rain. The plane went down and Cline's stopped watch was found with the time of 6:20pm, so many believe that is when the plane crashed. It had been in the air less than 15 minutes. It went down in a forest and everyone on board was killed instantly. A man named Roger Miller searched for the wreckage in the morning. He said, "As fast as I could, I ran through the woods screaming their names -- through the brush and the trees -- and I came up over this little rise, oh, my God, there they were. It was ghastly. The plane had crashed nose down". Artifacts from the crash that are now at The Country Music Hall of Fame include Cline's studded belt, Cline's wristwatch, Confederate flag cigarette lighter and three pairs of gold lamé slippers.
Cline is buried at Shenandoah Memorial Park in her hometown of Winchester, Virginia. Her grave is marked with a bronze plaque, which reads: "Virginia H. (Patsy) Cline 'Death Cannot Kill What Never Dies: Love'". Dottie West and Loretta Lynn erected a bell tower at the cemetery in her memory. It plays hymns daily at 6:00 p.m., the hour of her death. Another memorial marks the exact place off Fire Tower Road in Fatty Bottom, Tennessee, where the plane crashed in the still-remote forest. That was not the end for Patsy though. Her legend continues, but so does her spirit in the afterlife. Matt Swayne shared the many hauntings and locations that have reports of Cline's ghost.
Is Patsy Cline's ghost still visiting some of her favorite places? That is for you to decide!
Check out Matt Swayne here: http://www.mattswayne.com/
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
HGB Ep. 185 - Bobby Mackey's Music World
Moment in Oddity - Strowger Telephone Switch
(Suggested by Emily Margaret)
Stepping switches were used in the early years of telephones to route telephone calls. The Strowger Switch was an early stepping switch that was invented by Almon Brown Strowger. The invention was patented in 1891 and was the first commercially successful switch of its time. The first model was made from a round collar box and some straight pins. Strowger was a unique figure in history. From the time he was a child, he liked to tinker with mechanical items. He was a teacher and fought in the Civil War. He finally ended up in the position of undertaker in Kansas City, Missouri. One may not think that there was much competition when it came to being the town's undertaker, but apparently there was and Strowger had a hard time getting traction for one simple reason. His competitors wife was a telephone operator in town and she would route all the calls for an undertaker to her husband. He decided to use his mechanical skills to invent a system that would get rid of the intermediary telephone operator. The Strowger Switch was born and the patents eventually ended up with the Bell Company in 1916. The fact that a telephone invention was inspired by an undertaker needing to route more business his way, certainly is odd!
This Month in History - President Ford Issues Proclamation Against EO 9066
During the month of February, on the 19th day, in 1976, President Gerald Ford signed Proclamation 4417, which officially terminated Executive Order 9066 signed by President Franklin Roosevelt. It was that Executive Order that began the Japanese Internment Camps during World War II. The proclamation read in part, "In this Bicentennial Year, we are commemorating the anniversary dates of many great events in American history. An honest reckoning, however, must include a recognition of our national mistakes as well as our national achievements. Learning from our mistakes is not pleasant, but as a great philosopher once admonished, we must do so if we want to avoid repeating them. February 19th is the anniversary of a sad day in American history. It was on that date in 1942, in the midst of the response to the hostilities that began on December 7, 1941, that Executive Order 9066 was issued, subsequently enforced by the criminal penalties of a statute enacted March 21, 1942, resulting in the uprooting of loyal Americans. Over one hundred thousand persons of Japanese ancestry were removed from their homes, detained in special camps, and eventually relocated." This not only officially ended the order, it acknowledged a sad day in American history.
Bobby Mackey's Music World
Bobby Mackey's Music World is northern Kentucky's longest running live music nightclub. For nearly forty years, this honky-tonk has hosted singing, dancing and drinking. But before the bar was opened up on this spot, a slaughterhouse was run here. A pit in the basement leads to the nearby Licking River and the blood and other waste from the slaughterhouse was dumped down this pit into the river. The building has been connected to murders, occult rituals and hauntings for years. Some claim that the pit itself leads straight to Hell. Join us and the hosts of Hillbilly Horror Stories Podcast, Jerry and Tracy Paulley, as we explore the history and hauntings of Bobby Mackey's Music World.
Wilder, Kentucky was originally known as Leitch's Station. It was the first settlement in Campbell County, Kentucky and the property was owned by Major David Leitch, for whom it was originally named. He was given the land for his service during the American Revolutionary War. In the mid-nineteenth century, a railroad station was built in the area and it was named Wilder Station It serviced the Louisville, Cincinnati and Lexington Railways. Leitch Station was changed to Wilder and this city is where Bobby Mackey's Music World is located.
Robert Randall Mackey was born in March of 1948 in Concord, Kentucky. After high school, he moved further north in Kentucky and took a job with the C & O Railway. From the time he was a young boy, he loved music and singing and he hoped eventually to become a country performer. He worked for the railway during the week and then played in local bars on the weekends. In 1977, a couple of fans, Norm and Jean Stamper, suggested that Bobby open his own club across the river. The three looked around and found an old place on Licking Pike that was an industrial area. The building had just been the Hard Rock Cafe and the three formed a partnership and leased the building. They named the honky-tonk for Bobby and Bobby Mackey's Music World was born.
Long before people were two stepping on the wood dance floor and before the Latin Quarter Casino was open, Bobby Mackey's went through a series of incarnations. In the late nineteenth century, it was opened as a slaughterhouse. The blood and other waste were dumped down one of three pits that led to the Licking River. This was long before polluting rivers was outlawed. The slaughterhouse was eventually torn down. There was a tunnel beneath the slaughterhouse that made it a perfect spot to set up shop during Prohibition. It was a speakeasy called the Bluegrass Inn for several years and when selling liquor became legal in 1933, the building became a casino. The first casino was called Primrose Club and then it became the Latin Quarter Casino. The casino was very successful in the 1950s, but the owners were arrested many times on gambling charges. The authorities went so far as to break into the club in 1955 with sledge hammers and confiscated slot machines.
It was during this time that one of the club owner's daughters met a terrible fate. She had fallen in love with one of the singers. We'll let Jerry tell the story. (Johanna's father was furious when he found out Johanna was pregnant by the singer and he had the singer killed through his criminal connections. Johanna was furious and tried to poison her father. Her body was found in the basement. And now she apparently haunts the place.) A poem still exists, written on a wall, that is attributed to Johanna. It reads:
My Love is deep as the sea
That flows forever
You ask me where will it end
I tell you Never
My love is as bright as the sun
That shines forever
You ask me when will it end
I tell you Never
The world may disapppear
Like a Castle of sand
But I'll be waiting here
With My Heart in my Hand
My Love I love you so much
Now and Forever
You ask me when will it end
I tell you Never
Bad luck seemed to permeate the building after that time. The Hard Rock Cafe opened in the 1970s, but it was closed in 1978 because of fatal shootings on the property. And reports of hauntings have been a part of its history as well. When Bobby and the Stampers set up the bar, they had no idea of its haunted reputation. Carl Lawson was the first caretaker and he began reporting weird occurrences. Doors locked and unlocked on their own and lights turned off and on without assistance.
A legend connected to Bobby Mackey's has to do with the murder of Pearl Bryan. She was a young woman from Indiana who was pregnant. She was described as a "Sunday school and church worker, sprightly and vivacious and a social favorite in her home with bright blue eyes, blonde hair that shaded to auburn, a pretty face and the almost flawless complexion of an unspoiled country girl." She moved to Cincinnati in 1896 to be with the father of her baby, dental student Scott Jackson whom she had met in 1893. He got his friend, another dental student named Alonza Walling, to help him get rid of this problem. They drugged Pearl, took her to an isolated field about two miles from Bobby Mackey's, which was the abandoned slaughterhouse at the time, and they killed her. They decapitated her before leaving the body in the field and rumor has it that they tossed the head into the pit at the bar as some kind of occult ritual and sacrifice to Satan. Pearl's body was identified through a manufacturer's number in one of her shoes. The two men were caught, tried and hanged for their crime. They never told where they had put Pearl's head.
She reputedly haunts Bobby Mackey's and is an interesting link to Johanna. Both women were five months pregnant at the times of their deaths. And now they seem to take a dangerous interest in any women that visit Bobby Mackey's including his own wife who was five months pregnant when she had such a terrifying experience in the bar that she would never go back inside. There are claims that Bryan's murderers haunt the place too. There are claims of full-bodied apparitions, shadow figures, orbs of light and demonic entities. The location has been featured on A Haunting and Ghost Adventures.
Some scientific investigators believe that the weird feelings people get at Bobby Mackey's has something to do with the electrical wiring and infrasound, which is low frequency signals. But could there be something supernatural going on here. There is a history of blood from not only slaughtered animals, but people who have been murdered or committed suicide on the property. And possibly, paranormal investigators have awakened something. Are there ghosts at Bobby Mackey's? Is Bobby Mackey'sMusic World Haunted? That is for you to decide!
Saturday, February 18, 2017
HGB Ep. 184 - Delta Bessborough Hotel
Moment in Oddity - Jean Hilliard Frozen and Lives
(Suggested by: Lisa Lauren Schmidt)
Jean Hilliard was 19 years old and living in Lengby, Minnesota when something incredible happened to her. She was driving to meet up with her neighbor when her car skidded off the ice covered road. It was the coldest it had been for some time with temperatures of twenty-five degrees below zero and Jean Hilliard was literally frozen solid as she walked for help. Her neighbor discovered her and rushed her to the hospital. Her arms were so frozen, they were unmovable. Ice clung to her in places and the nurses claimed that touching her skin was like touching ice in a freezer. Her face was white and had the look of death and there was not much hope that she would be revived. Besides frost bite, another hazard of being frozen is that water expands when frozen. It was believed that there was damage on a microscpic level, including severe brain damage. Jean awoke from her coma with no major affects of having been frozen solid like a block of ice. She was released from the hospital after a month. This is considered an unexplained medical miracle and that, certainly is odd!
This Month in History - The Outlaw Belle Starr Killed in Oklahoma
In the month of February, on the 3rd, in 1889, the outlaw Belle Starr was killed in Oklahoma with two shotgun blasts to the back. Starr was known as the "Bandit Queen." She started out with a relatively normal life being born into a middle class family on a farm in Carthage, Missouri. The Civil War changed all that when her father's innkeeping business was ruined and her brother Edwin lost his life in the war. The family moved to Texas and Belle met a string of bad men. She married one of them named Jim Reed and became his partner in crime, rustling cattle and stealing money. This lasted for five years and then Reed was killed in 1874 by a member of his own gang. Belle took off for the Oklahoma Indian Territory and met a Cherokee outlaw named Sam Starr who became her common law husband. The two continued their criminal ways and were arrested in 1883, both serving five months for horse theft. In 1886, Sam Starr was killed in a gunfight and Belle was alone again. She then met her finally partner in crime and love, a Creek named Jim July. He was later arrested and sent tp Fort Smith for punishment for his crimes. Belle accompanied him part of the way and then decided to return home. She was ambushed on the way and fatally shot in the back by two shotgun blasts. The murderer was never found and the case remains unsolved.
Delta Bessborough Hotel (Suggested by Corianne Wilson)
The castle-like Delta Bessborough Hotel is a four star, ten-story hotel located in downtown Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Today it is owned by Marriott, but this historic hotel dates back to 1928 when it was built by the Canadian National Railway. Railway hotels were built all across Canada with many of them sharing the same architecture. Many locals refer to the Bessborough as "The Bess" and many of them have tales of hauntings that take place in the hotel. There seems to be several spirits hanging around The Bess in the afterlife. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the Delta Bessborough Hotel.
Saskatoon is considered Saskatchewan's great crossroads. The Cree tribe lived here and the name Saskatoon is derived for the Cree word for the berry that is native to the region, misâskwatômina. A group of Toronto Methodists formed the Temperance Colonization Society and they believed the Saskatoon area would be a great place to set up a dry community. They relocated there in 1882, led by John Nielsen Lake. The railway was not completed to Saskatoon, so they took it to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and then rode horse drawn carts the rest of the way. There were 3,100 settlers. Lake is considered the founder of Saskatoon for this reason. The temperance society folded within ten years. Not many new settlers wanted to come to the area and internal fighting led to the demise.
The railway finally arrived in 1901 and another settlement set up on the west side of the South Saskatchewan River near the railway station. This settlement would incorporate and keep the name Saskatoon and the original village was changed to Nutana. A third settlement named Riverdale formed on the west side of the railroad tracks. These three settlements decided to become one city and they all eventually became Saskatoon in 1906. The city grew rapidly and by 1911, the population had more than doubled.
Canadian Pacific Railway was founded in 1881 with the purpose of connecting interior towns to each other and to the coasts. A railway had already been under construction, but it was way behind schedule and running out of money. A group of Scottish Canadian businessmen formed the Canadian Pacific Railway Company to fix the issues and construction took off. By 1885, the last spike in the transcontinental railway was driven into the ground. With the railway came a need for lodgings and this became the advent of railway hotels in Canada. The first one was built in Montreal in 1878 and named the Windsor Hotel. The Canadian Pacific Railway opened its first hotel in 1888 in Vancouver. The hotels were meant to be luxurious and were mainly built in a chateau style of architecture. It is a style considered distinctly Canadian with turrets and Scottish baronial elements.
Several smaller railways were struggling and the government incorporated them together into the Canadian National Railway in 1919. The Grand Trunk Railway was another railway rolled into this company. This rival company to the Canadian Pacific Railway also built railway hotels, which was something the Grand Trunk Railway had been doing before it was amalgamated. The Saskatoon business community lobbied the Canadian National Railway to build a railway hotel in Saskatoon. At the time, Sir Henry Thorton was president of the Canadian National Railway. On December 31, 1928, he announced that they would build a hotel in Saskatoon designed by Archibald and Schofield of Montreal. John Archibald was a Scottish immigrant and John Schofield was an immigrant from Ireland. The hotel was designed to resemble a Bavarian castle. Construction began in the frozen month of February and thus a steam thawer and gasoline excavator were required. The hotel was built from Tyndall stone, tile and bricks all made in Canada. The hotel was completed in 1932 with 225 rooms.
While construction was being done, the Great Depression swept across the world and travel was hit hard. While the hotel was ready to go in 1932, it didn't officially open until December 10, 1935. The first guest was Horace N. Stovin. The hotel was named Bessborough after Sir Vere Ponsonby who was the 9th Earl of Bessborough and at the time, the 14th Governor General of Canada. He and the Countess visited the hotel while it was being built. In 1972, the Bess traded hands and was bought by Donald, Dick, and Marc Baltzan. Ten years later the Canadian Pacific Hotels purchased
Canadian National Hotels and the Bess was placed under CP Hotels' subsidiary Delta Hotels during the 1990s, which is where the Delta part of its name comes from. Fairmont Hotels and Resorts bought CP Hotels and Delta Hotels in 1999. That year a $9 million renovation was begun on the hotel and it was restored to much of its original historic elegance. Another renovation came in 2003. Today, the Bess is owned by Marriott and features several meeting and conference rooms and is surrounded by five acres of Elizabethan gardens.
More than just guests stay at the Bess. It is reputedly quite haunted and has three paranormal hotspots. The Adam Ballroom is 4,024 square feet and a favorite venue for weddings and receptions. It is located on the Convention Floor level. It is this ballroom and this level that is reputedly haunted by an apparition that is wearing a gray suit and fedora. He appears full-bodied and has even said, "Hello" to passersby. Guests will mention to employees that they saw a man wearing a dated suit just hanging around without any purpose. Employees are unable to find the man and now generally explain that the guests may have seen a ghost. He is thought to be a former employee of the hotel, more than likely a manager based on the way he is dressed and the actions that led to his death. There were two men drunk in the hotel, causing quite the ruckus. He asked the men to quiet down or leave the hotel and their response was to pick him up and hurl him over the balcony. He fell at least seven stories and reputedly, there is still a crack on the floor where he hit.
One man who claims to have seen this ghost was the co-founder of Paranormal Saskatchewan, Colin Tranborg. He also was told by a witness that they saw this man looking at them through the window of a storage room, which would be impossible because as Colin put it, "There is no way he could have been out there because he would have fallen to his death." There are those that claim the man in the gray suit is someone different than the man wearing the gray fedora. Some guests and staff say they have seen a figure moving through the Terrace Lounge that is now a banquet room. Hotel guests used to congregate in the lounge to send letters, read the paper and visit. The man in the fedora is said to wander the room looking for his friends.
The third floor is the next haunted hotspot. The apparition that is seen here is said to be terrifying. The spirit resembles a very small woman whom looks tired and depressed. Her hair and clothing is a mess. As long as people ignore the spirit, she seems to keep to herself. But if someone acknowledges her, she runs up to the person and screams in their face before she suddenly disappears.
The stairwell is said to be haunted. This haunting features the spirits of several children. People claim that it sounds like they are playing in the stairwell. They ignore the guests, so this could just be a residual haunting. It is believed that they were killed at the hotel somehow, but there is no story to go with this. Colin said he has been told that children have been seen roaming and playing in the corridors.
There is also a story about a bellman haunting a stairwell according to Stefan Deprez, sales/marketing director for the Delta Bessborough. Deprez shared a story he was told by an employee, "Someone took a picture of him coming down one of the stairs, and when they developed the picture there was this apparition in behind him and he swears to this day it was a ghost."Apparently, the bellman was running with luggage down the stairwell and he tripped and tumbled to his death. There is a section of broken marble on one of the staircases that people claim is where he fell. The apparition appears on this very spot.
Many people have come through the Bess in her decades of service. Is it possible that some of those guests and some of the employees have continued to stay on in the afterlife? Is the Delta Bessborough Hotel haunted? That is for you to decide!
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
HGB Ep. 183 - Point Lookout Lighthouse
Moment in Oddity - Legend of Goatman's Bridge
(Suggested by Kelly Helter)
In episode 182, we featured universities in the city of Denton in Texas. Our listener Kelly Helton told us of a historic iron truss bridge that connects the cities of Denton and Copper Canyon. It was built in 1884 and was used to carry horses and carriages, and later cars, across the Hickory Creek. The official name of the bridge is Old Alton Bridge, but locals call it "Goatman's Bridge." Some claim that a demon like satyr lives in the nearby woods and it is said to be a type of Goatman. But another legend claims that a black goat farmer named Oscar Washburn lived north of the bridge. People started calling him the Goatman because of his success with his goats. But the local KKK did not find Oscar's success endearing. When they found a sign placed on the bridge that said, "This way to the Goatman's," they became enraged. They kidnapped Oscar in 1938, placed a noose around his neck and threw him over the side of the bridge. When they looked down to make sure that he was dead, the noose was empty. They panicked and went to his house and killed his wife and children. From that time, strange lights and ghostly figures were said to be seen on the bridge and in the surrounding woods. Rocks were hurled at people near the bridge as well. And the local legend warns that if you cross the bridge without your headlights, the Goatman will be waiting on the other side for you. The legend of the Goatman's Bridge certainly is odd!
This Month in History - Richard Hauptmann Found Guilty in Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping
In the month of February, on the 13th day in 1935, a jury in Flemington, New Jersey, found Bruno Richard Hauptmann guilty of first-degree murder in the kidnap-slaying of Charles Lindbergh Jr., the son of Charles and Anne Lindbergh. He was sentenced to death and he did indeed die in the electric chair for his crime. Through the years, many books and people have claimed that Hauptmann was innocent and there were even 15 men who have claimed to be the son of Charles Lindbergh. The facts of the case were that 20-month-old Charlie Jr. was snatched from his second-story crib. The kidnapper used a homemade ladder to gain entry to the house. A ransom note containing several misspelled words and a symbol comprised of two intersecting circles and three holes was left at the scene. Several ransom notes followed demanding a $50,000 ransom. It was paid, but Charlie was not returned. Ten weeks after the kidnapping, the partially decomposed body of Charlie was found in a wooded area about two miles from the Lindbergh home. He was identified by matching-up his homemade undershirt with the cloth remnant from which it had been cut. Colonel Lindbergh and the baby's nursemaid, Betty Gow, also identified the body at the morgue. Hauptmann was discovered when he used the ransom money to buy gas and much of the rest of the money was found in his garage.
Point Lookout Lighthouse (Suggested by Bob Sherfield)
Point Lookout is a peninsula formed by the confluence of the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River. Maryland's first governor claimed the point as his plot and he built his manor there in 1634. In the early 1800s, the government chose the point as a place to install a lighthouse. During the Civil War, Point Lookout became a prison for Confederate soldiers. Today, the lighthouse has been decommissioned, but still stands and the area is now Point Lookout State Park. The history and deaths that happened here have left Point Lookout and the lighthouse reputedly haunted by several spirits. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the Point Lookout Lighthouse.
The indigenous people who lived at Point Lookout were the Yaocomico tribe. They used the area as a fishing and hunting ground for thousands of years. Spanish explorers were the first Europeans to arrive and they did that in 1500. Captain John Smith landed there in 1612 and explored the point for England. In 1632, King Charles I granted a bulk of land to George Clavert that included Point Lookout. George Calvert was also known as Lord Baltimore and it was his younger son, Leonard, who would become the first governor of Maryland. He chose a spot a mile and a half from Point Lookout as the place to build his manor. Later in 1805, James L. Richardson built his home on that land and named it St. Michaels Manor. That house still stands today and is a bed and breakfast. Nearby St. George’s Island was the site of the first battle on Maryland soil during the Revolutionary War. In July of 1776, Lord Dunmore’s navy was spotted with “forty sail of square rigged vessels as far up the Bay as Point Lookout.” A few days later, Captain Rezin Beall prevented the British armada from sailing any further. During the War of 1812, Point Lookout became a watch post for spotting British ships.
While the point was a good look out spot, it also was dangerous for ships and the government decided that a lighthouse was needed at Point Lookout. On May 3, 1825, the Federal Government appropriated $1800 for the project. The owner of the land at the time was a man named Jenifer Taylor and he was not willing to sell to the government. The battle was long and in the end, the government paid him a sizable sum for the land that was barren. They paid $1150. John Donohoo was awarded the contract and he began construction in 1830. He had already built many lighthouses in the bay area. One of those was the Blackistone Island lighthouse, which was very similar in style to the Point Lookout Lighthouse. The lighthouse was built in the style of a house, similar to Ledge Lighthouse. It was a story and a half tall with the lighthouse torch centered on the top. The lighthouse began operation on September 20, 1830.
The first lighthouse keeper was James Davis,but he would not hold the position for long. He died a few months later. The position was then offered to another person living with Mr. Davis, his daughter Ann. She was the first female keeper at Point Lookout Lighthouse. She apparently upheld her duties well and in a report made in 1840, Miss Ann Davis was complimented by a supply boat captain, "Miss Davis is a fine woman...and I am sorry she has to live on a small naked point of land". Not only did Ann Davis break ground as the first female keeper at Point Lookout, but she made the same salary as her father at $350 per year. She continued in her duties until she died in 1847. A unique feature of the lighthouse was a fog bell that needed to be manually rung when it was foggy. Whole keeper families would take turns ringing the bell. In later years, a windup mechanism would ring the bell.
The next lighthouse keeper was William Wood and he was said to be very clumsy. He broke most of the light's mirrors and had his pay withheld for a year. He also allowed a cat to fall into the lantern oil barrel, which contaminated it and it had to be replaced. Richard Edwards was appointed as the next keeper in April of 1853. He died while serving that same year and his daughter Martha was assigned the duties. Martha got married later and so her sister Pamelia Edwards took over and that's when things got really interesting. In August of 1863, Camp Hoffman was built just north of the lighthouse. It was in operation from Aug. 1863 until June 1865 and was the largest Union prison camp for Confederate soldiers. Despite only being around for two years, 52,000 prisoners of war were incarcerated there. It was built for only 10,000. During that time 3,000 to 8,000 men died in the camp and were buried on site in a mass grave. The graves were moved later.
The story goes that Pamelia was forced to allow the Union leaders to set up shop in the lighthouse. They used it to house female prisoners who could not be kept at Camp Hoffman that was ramshackle built and basically similar to Andersonville in that it was a yard that was heavily fenced in with no real shelter other than tattered tents. The camp was hot and mosquito infested in summer and freezing cold in winter. The water there was contaminated and the food was spoiled.The female prisoners were later transferred to a federal prison. The officials used a room in the lighthouse for interrogations and many times torture was implemented. Edwards regretted that time period as she was said to have witnessed torture and deaths and she became a rebel sympathizer and helped prisoners escape. She was relieved of her duties in 1869. The lighthouse served as a stop on the Underground Railroad during this time and was a refuge for escaped slaves from Virginia.
The Hammond General Hospital was also set up near Camp Hoffman and the lighthouse to care for those wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg. It was designed with a central hub and wards radiating out. The trip to the hospital was long and arduous from Gettysburg and many wounded did not make it the whole way. The hospital was shut down shortly after the Civil War ended. In 1871, William Yeatman became the lighthouse keeper. He served until 1908 when he died. He was the polite and efficient keeper. The steamship Express from Baltimore broke apart off of Point Lookout in 1878 and that same year, Congress authorized the establishment of a Coast Guard Station next to the lighthouse. Developers built a resort and hotel on Point Lookout in 1880. It later burned to the ground, but there is still a huge, rusty wheel protruding from the sand as a reminder of the former escape for vacationers. In 1883, the house was renovated to two full floors and a summer kitchen and bedroom were added. In 1927, it was renovated again to be a duplex, so that the keeper and assistant keeper could live next to each other. There was another house on the point, so there could be up to three keepers at one time and so this was not a solitary commitment like we have found at some lighthouses.
The final lighthouse keeper was Raymond Hartzel. He served until January 11, 1966, when the light was extinguished for the last time. The Navy took over and then it went under the management of the State of Maryland. The state rehabilitated it and opened it up as apartments. And that is when reports started rolling in that strange things were taking place at the lighthouse. Former keepers denied any haunting activity, but it seems highly unlikely that nothing would happen until civilians moved in. The second to the last keeper was George Gatton and he scoffed at the idea of the lighthouse being haunted. Gatton said, "Haunted? Naw, I don't believe it. I have lived here nearly all my life and I ain't never seen nothing- I never seen nothing, never heard nothing." Tenants claimed to hear strange sounds and unexplained voices and they saw full-bodied apparitions.
Gerald Sword moved into the north side of the lighthouse and Anna Carpenter moved into the south side in the late 1970's. Anna didn't live there long, but she reported hearing someone walking up in the attic and frequently heard furniture being moved around in the north side when Gerry was out. Gerry wrote about his own experiences. He claimed that the kitchen wall started to glow one night for about 10 minutes and during storms he heard disembodied voices inside and outside. For two weeks straight, he heard someone snoring in the kitchen. One night his dog woke him up with its barking. He found the dog outside the porch with the door locked from the inside. He had locked the dog in the screen-in porch before going to bed. He also claimed that the lights were turned off and on by themselves.
Point Lookout is a place full of legends and hauntings. One of the most frequent ghost sightings at Point Lookout is a man in Civil War era clothing. He is seen moving across the road, away from what was once the Smallpox unit. The gaunt ghost shambles across the road, reeking of mildew and gunpowder, wearing ragged clothes. This apparition is most likely residual as it seems to keep to the same route and be unaware of the living. Our listener Melanie wrote and told us, "I went camping there several years ago and there are so many creepy stories associated with the place. One of the stories involved sightings of a headless soldier that walks the circular road in the tent camping area. Another was of a woman who walks the grounds surrounding the lighthouse. Creepy stuff. I didn’t see either, but I can tell you that the electrical system in the Ladies Shower/Restroom area provided to campers was terribly unreliable. Imagine being in a stall, in a park bathroom, in the middle of the night, with all those ghost stories in mind, and the lights begin to flicker. Every. Night."
One of the ghost stories features a man named Mr. Haney. He needed help from one of the keepers and he attempted to row to the lighthouse at Point Lookout. A storm was raging and he never made it to the lighthouse. One of the people living at the lighthouse claimed to see a man at the back porch and he was wearing clothes from long ago. The person opened the door and the man floated across the lawn and disappeared toward the Bay.
Laura Berg lived at the lighthouse from December 1979 to October 1981. Laura wrote about what happened to her after moving in, "I heard through the grapevine that the Point Lookout Lighthouse was available to rent and scheduled an appointment to see the house. I had never been to Point Lookout State Park prior to that. After falling in love with the house and being assured that the State of Maryland had a long-term agreement with the Navy to lease the lighthouse, I signed a lease in November, 1979. After moving in officially on December 6, 1979...I had my first ghostly experience. I heard someone walking up and down the hallway just outside the bedroom door. That same day I noticed an odor in the middle room on the north side. The odor was strongest at night and would basically disappear during the day. On January 14, 1980, the hauntings were confirmed by the experts."
Paranormal investigations have found quite a bit of evidence. One of the investigators was parapsychologist Dr. Hans Holzer. Mediums have felt sick and one claimed to feel the presence of a woman and felt that this woman had contemplated throwing herself down the steps many times. A woman's voice was recorded singing the words "living in the lighthouse." A female apparition has been seen and many think that she is the spirit of former keeper Ann Davis. She has been seen standing at the top section of the stairs wearing a shirt that is white in color and a skirt that is long and blue. A figure has been seen in the basement in the farthest back room. A voice was recorded saying, "Get out!" Other unexplained voices have been recorded. A female voice was recorded saying, “My Home” and a male voice was documented in ordering, “Fire if they get too close.” In the south side basement, a woman named Carol was pushed by an unknown entity and felt unwelcome.
Throughout several areas of the Point Lookout Lighthouse, immense temperature drops have been documented. Naturally, there was no rational explanation on why this occurred. Furthermore, the “chills” were felt at various locations in and around the lighthouse. A key haunting has been smells. They are described as something very “sour” or “rotten.”A picture of a spectral soldier has been taken as well.
Laura Berg wrote, "On the evening of December 7, 1979, after retiring for the evening, I heard footsteps walking up and down the hallway outside of my bedroom door. It sounded like heavy shoes with thick heels or boots. They just kept walking up and down. My immediate thought was I guess this place is haunted. But I did not feel frightened at all. I also noticed that the middle room (guest room) had a strong odor in the evening. It smelled like something was dead in this room. However, in daylight, the odor would disappear. I scrubbed and waxed the floor thoroughly and used air freshener to no avail. I had overnight guests stay in that room on December 6th, but they did not notice anything. As of January 14, 1980, the odor was still noticeable. On January 14, 1980, Dr. Hans Holzer and his group of investigators came from New York to study the Point Lookout area as well as the Lighthouse. When they went into the guest room, the smell was mentioned. One of the mediums reported that she felt sick in this room and actually got chills. She felt very cold and began feeling this way when just walking toward the room. She said that someone had experienced agony in this room. She felt someone had been held against their will. The medium could not determine if the person was a man or a woman. The investigative group speculated whether any prisoners from the Civil War may have been held here but Gerald Sword, Point Lookout State Park Superintendent, reported there was no evidence that this occurred. It was also mentioned that in the 1800's, if someone was retarded or mentally ill or ill, they were sometimes kept out of sight or locked in a room. This is also a possibility. All I know is that after that night, the odor disappeared!"
Robbie Klotz wrote, "My first visit inside the lighthouse was on November 4, 2001 for the open house. However, I have had encounters in the area near the lighthouse before then. I was going through a difficult period back in 1997 and I needed some time alone to think. One morning at 3 am, I drove to the lighthouse, parked in front and rolled down my window about half way down. I was the only one around. At first I thought I was imagining things, but as I went back to thinking again, I heard voices right outside my window, only this time I heard what sounded like someone rattling tin cans or tin plates like they used back in the civil war times. I thought I must have imagined the sounds, however, I returned to the lighthouse on another occasion. This time, I could hear the galloping of horse's feet and male voices, although I could not hear what the voices were saying. Then the voices just faded away. I have visited the park since I heard the sounds - but never late at night- and I always feel like I am being watched."
Robert, Tim and Laura were doing an investigation at the lighthouse and had a shared experience. Tim described it this way, "I was looking to my right over at the old heater and I noticed movement to my left out of the corner of my eye. I turned my head to see what moved and I saw a rather large translucent shadow move through the air. This gray shadow was about as big as my two fists. My first reaction was that I was seeing a really big luna moth. The object dove down about a foot through the air and zipped across the room away from Laura and I, and towards Robert. I sat in disbelief. Someone said, "Did you see that?" I am very glad somebody else saw it as well. I almost feel like my eyes played a trick on me, but both Laura and Robert saw it as well." Laura described it as, "During a quiet moment, a small transparent shape, no larger than the size of a human hand, appeared to glide in front of Tim and I heading towards Robert. It did not crawl or scurry on the floor and there was no sun in the room that a shadow could be cast from. No noise emitted from the shape. The shade glided just above the floor and was no higher than our knees while seated. It then simply disappeared into the wall near Robert. This entire incident took place in about five seconds. Immediately, we all remarked "what was that?" and a conversation ensued about the possibilities." And Robert said, " As I watched, the transparent object moved just above the ground and very quickly on an angle toward the north wall. Once it got close to the north wall, it veered sharply and began moving parallel to the wall and directly toward me at a high rate of speed. It disappeared to my right, and when I turned to look behind me, it was gone. At first, I thought it was a rat because of the way it headed for the wall, but the object seemed to float on air and moved very quickly and smoothly, with no breaks in shape or size. Had this been a reflection, I would have expected to see the shape disappear and reappear as it moved from one corner of the room to another, but the shape was consistent."
Jim and Julie had the following experience, "We have toured dozens of lighthouses in past years and must admit that there was something odd about Point Lookout lighthouse. From the moment we walked in we sensed sadness, despite the bright sunshine and eager tourists. What was truly disturbing was this... As we climbed the South Side stairs to the 2nd floor, a young boy, maybe 8 years old, followed us, bubbling over with stories about the house and its hauntings. I didn’t notice his clothing as being out of the ordinary, but I did notice that he was alone and not with a family group. I recall him saying, "This is the most 'haunted-est' Lighthouse in the whole country!" He followed us and talked with us for just a few minutes, then went back downstairs at some point. We didn't think much of it rather, we were amused with his energy level and knowledge. He was certainly talking a mile a minute. We assumed it was one of the volunteers' children. When we went back downstairs, we mentioned to the volunteer that his son was delightful and he had been well trained! The volunteer said he had no son, nor did he have any children with him. We looked around the grounds, no children. We went to the back room where a few people were selling candy and promotional items and asked if it was their child. No – there were no children. Were they playing a trick on us? Furthermore, when we got home, we played the video for our grown children to see. There was no child in that video, nor was any young voice audible. Also, in the footage that my husband filmed up in the cupola, there was faint singing, like a woman humming in the background. He did not hear it while he was up there."
In March of 1977, Ranger Donnie Hammett was at work on the Potomac River side of the point, taking environmental data. Hammett spotted an elderly woman searching for something near the beach. Hammett approached the woman and asked if she needed help. She told him that she was looking for a gravestone. Hammett felt unwelcome, as if the old woman resented his intrusion. As he moved away from the area, he had a good view of the road. He left shortly afterward and found his vehicle alone in the parking lot. He has not seen any vehicles on the road. Later, he learned that a tombstone stolen from the Taylor cemetery turned up at a local hotel. Perhaps the woman was searching for her own grave. Authorities are still not quite sure of the exact location of the graveyard. There have been numerous sightings of the ghostly old woman, always searching for the disappeared cemetery.
There are many legends connected to Point Lookout and her lighthouse. Is it possible that some of the former keepers are still carrying on their duties in the afterlife? Is the Point Lookout Lighthouse haunted? That is for you to decide!
Friday, February 10, 2017
HGB Ep. 182 - Denton, Texas Universities - UNT and TWU
Moment in Oddity - Hobo Marks
Hobos first appeared in America after the end of the Civil War. Young people may not know what or who a hobo is, but for many of us older people, the hobo was a favorite Halloween costume. It may have been a politically incorrect costume, but it was a throwback to a time when homeless men followed the train tracks across America, looking for work. Many wore ragged clothes and slung a pack over their shoulder with all their earthly belongings. It is said, "A hobo wanders and works, a tramp wanders and dreams and a bum neither wanders or works." By 1911, it was estimated there were 700,000 hobos in America. Many Americans took pity on these men and helped them along the way. One of those people was my very own great-grandmother. She participated in a network that used Hobo Marks. Hobo Marks were symbols made on homes in either charcoal or chalk to indicate that this home was welcoming. Different symbols would relate that this place will give food for work, or there is a doctor here, or there is a kind woman living here, or you can sleep in the barn here, or there is a good chance of getting money here. Some marks signaled negative experiences as well such as, this man is dishonest or nothing doing here. Most homeowners probably had no idea what the symbol on their home meant, but it is a unique piece in America's history and certainly is odd!
This Month in History - FDR Assassination Attempt
In the month of February, on the 15th day in 1933, an assassination attempt on newly elected U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was thwarted, but the mayor of Chicago was killed. The assassination attempt occurred in Miami, Florida. The gunman was Italian immigrant Giuseppe Zangara. President Roosevelt was giving an impromptu speech that night from the back of an open car at the Bayfront Park area. Zangara was armed with a .32-caliber US Revolver Company pistol. He fired off a shot, grabbing the attention of the crowd gathered for the speech. Several people grabbed him as he fired off four more shots. Five people were hit, including Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak, who was standing next to FDR. Roosevelt cradled the mortally wounded mayor as the car sped to the hospital. He told the President, "I'm glad it was me instead of you." That statement was engraved on Cermak's tombstone. Zangara was arrested and he confessed. He plead guilty to four counts of attempted murder. After Cermak died, he pleaded guilty of murder. He was sentenced to death and met that fate in the electric chair on March 20, 1933.
Denton, Texas Universities - University of North Texas and Texas Woman's University (Suggested by and research assistance from listener Ellen Girdwood)
Denton, Texas is home to two universities that date back for decades. Both universities have undergone several name changes over the years. Today, they are known as the University of North Texas and Texas Woman's University. The former had its start as a private teacher's college and the latter as a girls industrial school. Over the years, suicides and tragic circumstances have led to hauntings in several buildings on both campuses. Join us and our listener Ellen Girdwood as we share the history and hauntings of UNT and TWU!
A man from Kentucky named William S. Peters came to the area of modern day Denton in Northern Texas and he obtained a land grant from the Texas Congress in the mid 1800s. He called the plot of land Peters Colony after himself. The Texas Legislature later voted in 1846 to form Denton County where Peters Colony had been. The county and town were named Denton after a preacher and lawyer named John B. Denton who was killed in 1841 during a skirmish with the Kichai people. The city was laid out in 1857 and it was incorporated in 1866. The city became an agricultural center and the Texas and Pacific Railway arrived in 1881. This brought an influx of people to the area and with that came the need for centers of education. In 1890, the North Texas Normal College was established. It would later become the University of North Texas. In 1903, the Girls' Industrial College was founded. It is now Texas Woman's University.
The establishment of a girls industrial school took several years before the Texas legislature approved it in 1901. The original name was Texas Industrial Institute and College for the Education of White Girls of the State of Texas in the Arts and Sciences, which, thankfully, changed two years later to the Girls' Industrial College. Seventy acres of land in Denton were bought for $16,050. Early classes that were offered consisted of traditional courses like English and Science, but also many domestic classes like housekeeping, sewing and cooking. Other interesting areas of study included poultry keeping, telegraphy, political economy, stenography, beekeeping, Industrial Arts like illustrating, design, modeling, carving, and engraving. The University changed its name in 1934 to Texas State College for Women to reflect higher education for women in the state. Today, it is known as Texas Woman's University and that name came in 1957. The nursing program also became the first nationally accredited program in the state of Texas in the 1950s. Men were welcomed into the health sciences graduate school starting in 1972. In 1994, all programs were opened to qualified men, but 90% of the student population remains female.
One of the interesting buildings on the campus is the Little Chapel-in-the-Woods. It was built in 1939 and dedicated by Eleanor Roosevelt. Students designed and created the artwork in the building, which includes the woodwork, the lighting, flooring and stained glass windows. Scenes depicted in the windows feature women teaching, nursing, speaking, writing and dancing. The Little Chapel-in-the-Woods was named one of Texas’ most outstanding architectural achievements. The chapel hosted many weddings and the TWU original bridal book contains thousands of names of couples who were married here. This building plays host to one of our Women in White. A legend claims that a bride was jilted on her wedding day and in her grief, she killed herself in the chapel. People claim to see her wandering the clump of woods near the chapel.
Guinn Hall is a residence hall and is the tallest building in the city of Denton. The name Guinn comes from the 6th President of TWU. Stark Hall is another towering residence hall and it was the tallest building until Guinn Hall was built. It was from a ninth story balcony at Guinn Hall that a female student jumped in 2000. She is said to haunt that floor and the Guinn Hall balconies are closed off. Stoddard Hall used to be a residence hall and it is said that a student committed suicide in her room. People claim to feel cold spots and the floors creak as though something unseen is walking on them. People claim to have seen a face in one of the windows of the Art Building, which was built in 1996, when it is supposed to be empty and the Smith-Carroll Building has lights that turn off and on when nobody is inside.
Some of the stranger stories about this campus involve the Blagg-Huey Library and the oldest building on campus, Old Main. In the library, it is said that a student disappeared and it is believed that somehow he was buried in one of the white columns in the 1990s. A professor killed himself in Old Main. Apparently, some other professors arrived at the building to tell him that he was receiving a reward. They had to search for him and when they found him, he was dressed in a way that did not meet approvalin the 1950s. He was wearing a dancing gown that was pink, pink pumps and clutching a pink purse. The group left horrified and the cross-dressing professor hanged himself from the third story railing. There is also an unsolved crime involving a woman named Virginia Carpenter who disappeared in 1948 outside of Brackenridge Hall.
On Sept. 16, 1890, Joshua C. Chilton established the Texas Normal College and Teacher Training Institute with 70 students and he said of the school, “It will be our aim to become leaders in the education of the young men and women of Texas, fitting them to creditably fill the most important positions in business and professional circles. We desire the cooperation of all who believe in higher education and who want to see our state in the very front of intellectual as well as material progress.” The school was opened in a rented space above a hardware store. The first building was finished in 1891 and was called the Normal Building. A fence encircled it to keep out livestock, so that is how rural the location was at the time. Boarding houses around the college were used to house students.
The university was founded as a nonsectarian, coeducational, private teachers college. In 1901, it began to receive funding from the state and was no longer private. The University of North Texas has undergone six name changes before becoming UNT in 1988. Those names were Texas Normal College and Teacher Training Institute (1890-1894), North Texas Normal College (1894-1901), North Texas State Normal College (1901-1923), North Texas State Teachers College (1923-1949), North Texas State College (1949-1961), North Texas State University (1961-1988).
UNT has been known for its diversity. It broke down barriers by admitting women from day one. It was also one of the first universities to desegregate. The school established the first jazz studies program. In the 1920s, Saturday Night Stage Shows debuted. These were directed by ’Fessor Floyd Graham and featured his Aces of Collegeland band. The music program became quite famous at this time due to those shows and radio broadcasts. UNT also became one of the first universities to offer adult education programs and these master's programs helped push forward faculty research. During World War II, the campus served as a place for the military to conduct exercises. The 1950s would see the first African-American students enroll and doctorate programs were begun. The University has continued to expand and grow through the years.
Several locations are haunted at UNT. Bruce Hall was first opened in 1949 as an all-female dorm. It is the oldest residence hall and is now coed. It mainly houses music and art students, hippies and other strange people (wiki’s words not mine). It's close to the music building, which is probably why. People who live here are called "brucelings." Celebrities Norah Jones and Meat Loaf were rumored to have lived in Bruce hall when they went to UNT. A ghost named Wanda is said to haunt the building. She particularly likes the Pool Hall, attic and 4th floor D hall. The story goes that she attended school in the 1950’s and got pregnant and that she died in the attic, either from a botched abortion or suicide. She pulls pranks and seems to be friendly. She slams doors and turns the showers off and on.
An elevator in the hall is said to be haunted by the apparition of an elderly elevator repairman. Someone encountered him outside the elevator and he said he was going to fix it. This person told him that it hadn't worked for 30 years and the repairman said it was a mistake. He walked away and the student followed him. Once the man turned the corner, he disappeared. Perhaps this repairman met his end in the Boiler Room , which is reputed to be haunted. No one knows who this is but “he” stays in the basement and opens the rooms heavy metal industrial doors after they are closed.
Chilton Hall has a statue of a guy from that is just a torso and it is called "The Student." It was found in the foundation and they put it on display. Hauntings started after that and activity increases in October. Chilton Hall had been an all men’s dorm. Today it is an administration building. The story goes that a guy jumped out of one of the windows and killed himself. Caitlin Edgar, who works in the building, had an experience. Her job was to check the security cameras and last year when this article was written, she saw a student walking down the aisles in one of the classrooms. There was not a class scheduled that day and it was after hours. The door has alarms and locks that open when an employee punches in the disarming codes. When she opened the door, the student was not there. How could he have gotten inside and where did he go?
The Health Center is haunted. Campus police are constantly called to the building in regards to sightings of a young man with blonde hair who wears blue jeans and no shirt. Some people link this to the unearthing of the “The Student” statue for some reason. Sycamore Hall is said to be the most haunted buildings in America. Investigator Zach Prader said that paranormal activity in this building is worse than Alcatraz, Area 51, and the Lizzie Borden house. His team looked into the history and possible reason for the hauntings. They concluded that the library was buried on Romanian Gypsy burial ground, which is traditionally 23x more spiritually active than Native American burial ground. One administrator was quoted as saying, “If you ever need to check out a book at the Sycamore Hall library, bring a friend. We don’t want to mop up any more pee stains from terrified students.”
Maple Street Hall is the second oldest dorm on campus and there is a ghost named Brenda who has manifested herself many times. There are two different stories told about her. The first is that she is a young girl who died of a violent crime not far from her on-campus home at Maple Hall and her spirit has chosen to stay here. The other is about a woman similar to Wanda at Bruce Hall. She discovers that she is pregnant and tries to hide her condition. She then died when giving birth in a hidden part of Maple Hall. One resident advisor was checking the dorm rooms. After she checked a room, she would turn off the lights and shut the door. She finished up and was doing something else when a telephone began to ring from one of the rooms. She found the room where the phone was ringing and the door was wide open and the light was on. When she stepped in the room, the phone stopped ringing. She had another experience on that floor months later. Two students came to her asking who was living in the suite next to theirs. After the advisor told them that that particular suite was empty, the girls then told her that every morning they would hear the shower going.
Do the spirits of former students and professors still haunt the campuses of UNT and TWU? Are these universities in Denton haunted? That is for you to decide!
Martin, K. (2015, October 29). A Campus Haunting. Retrieved from North Texas Daily: ntdaily.com/a-campus-haunting/
Matthew. (2011, July 13). The elevator Repairman Ghost of UNT's Bruce Hall. Retrieved from McGarityDotme: mcgarity.me/personal/the-elevator-repairman-ghost-of-unts-bruce-hall
McCormack, J. (n.d.). Campus haunts. Retrieved from North Texans Online: northtexan.unt.edu/archives/f01/haunts.htm
Swoops, T. (2014, June 26). The Most Haunted Building at UNT. Retrieved from North Texas Pigeon: northtexaspigeop.com/article/The-Most-Haunted-Building-at-UNT
Texas Woman's University. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: www.wikipedia.org
Thurman, N. (2013). Texas Woman's University. Retrieved from Denton History: www.dentonhistory.net
Whitington, M. (n.d.). Ghosts of North Texas. In M. Whitington, Ghosts of North Texas (pp. 93-94). Landam: An imprint of the Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group.
Monday, February 6, 2017
HGB Ep. 181 - Loftus Hall
Moment in Oddity - Vesna Vulovic's Fall
Vesna Vulovic was a 22-year-old flight attendant aboard a DC-9 heading to Czechoslovakia in January of 1972. Her schedule had been mixed up and she was not supposed to be on the flight, but she was excited for a chance to see more of the world. Unbeknownst to anyone, a terrorist group known as Ustashe had placed an explosive on the plane. This was a neonazi/facist group from Croatia that had already succeeded in committing several terrorist attacks against Yugoslavia after World War II. Vesna’s flight was on an airline based out of Yugoslavia. The bomb exploded and all 28 passengers were thrown into the air. The first person on the scene of the crash was a German man who had been a medic during World War II. He found Vesna alive with another crew member’s body on top of her and a serving cart pinned against her spine. When she arrived at the hospital, everyone thought she would die. Her skull was cracked and her head was bleeding, her legs were broken and several vertebrae were crushed. She was in a coma for three days and then miraculously woke up and asked for a cigarette. She was paralyzed from the waist down and could not remember the accident. Surgeries helped her to eventually walk again. She never had any psychological residue from the explosion, nor a fear of flying. Vesna currently holds the Guinness World Record for the highest fall survived without a parachute at 33,330 feet and that, certainly is odd!
This Month in History - The Mexican Constitution Adopted
In the month of February, on the 5th, in 1917, the Constitution of Mexico was formally adopted by the Constitutional Congress. The formal name of the document is the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States or in Spanish: Constitución Política de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos. The Constitution was drafted during the Mexican Revolution in Santiago de Querétaro, in the State of Querétaro. It was the first such document in the world to set out social rights and was specifically aimed at restricting the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico. Article 3 set up public and secular education and other articles set up land reforms and empowered the labor sector. This document served as a model for the Weimar Constitution of 1919 and the Russian Constitution of 1918. Under President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, the Constitution was revised in 1992 to better guarantee private property rights and end redistribution of land, and most of the articles restricting the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico were repealed. Día de la Constitución is one of Mexico's annual Fiestas Patrias and takes place the first Monday of February regardless of the date.
Loftus Hall (Suggested by listener Jjcbw)
County Wexford has a long history in Ireland and is home to the Loftus Hall Township. The area is a rugged and beautiful land and the Hook peninsula is home to a place famously known as Ireland's most haunted house: Loftus Hall. Last year, 2016, marked the homes 666th year in existence. Legends about the Devil and reports of hauntings are a part of the history of this mansion that has also served as a covent and a hotel. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of Loftus Hall.
County Wexford is on the south-east coast of Ireland about sixty miles across the sea from Wales. Based on artifacts, it is believed that prehistoric man arrived in Wexford at the end of the last ice age about 7,000 BC. These first people were Mesolithic and then around 6,500 BC the Neolithic people came. Megalithic structures were left behind and some of those that can still be seen today include sixteen tombs. Ten of them are portal tombs known as Dolmens, five are passage tombs and one is a court tomb. There are also wedge tombs, which are stone structures shaped like boxes that taper at one end. Standing stones were left behind as well and dot the landscape.
The Romans set their sights on England and the other areas near her and they arrived in England in 54 BC. They conquered England, but they could not Scotland and they were unsuccessful with Ireland as well. The Welsh, the Picts and the Irish attacked the Romans from all sides and dealt the Romans huge losses. Because the Romans were not able to take Ireland, the Druids remained in Ireland far longer than they did in Britain. In 2 AD, the earliest known map of Wexford was drawn by Claudius Ptolemy who was from Alexandria, Egypt. The Celtic culture thrived for four centuries in Ireland, between 400 and 800 AD. The Vikings then arrived and they raided the Wexford area and built a trading post. The name Wexford comes from them. The name Wexford comes from the Norse "Waesfjord, or fjord of the flats." The native Irish in Wexford rebelled in May 1798. Rebellion would continue in Ireland for decades until Irish independence came for 26 of the 32 Ireland counties in 1922. North Ireland is part of the United Kingdom today.
Hook Head (Rinn Duáin) is a headland in County Wexford, Ireland and is part of the Hook peninsula. *Fun fact: A part of our common vernacular is the statement "by hook or by crook" and it was inspired by a vow made by Oliver Cromwell that he would take Waterford by Hook that was on the Wexford side of the estuary or by the village of Crook on the Waterford side.* Raymond Le Gros came to Ireland in 1170 and he acquired land where he built The Hall, at Houseland near Portersgate. The Redmond Family, which goes back 700 years, replaced The Hall with a new mansion they called Redmond Hall and built it on a limestone promontory on the Hook peninsula in 1350. The mansion had panelled walls, large dreary rooms, a Tapestry Chamber and three levels. The Loftus family would take ownership in the 1650s and the mansion would carry their family name from that point. Oliver Cromwell had confiscated many properties and the Act of Settlement in 1662 under the restored monarchy of King Charles II of England made it official. Henry Loftus, who was the owner in the 17th century, built high stone walls around the gardens and planted new fruit trees.
Charles Tottenham Loftus became owner in the 18th century. He inherited the estate from his uncle, Henry Loftus. He represented County Wexford in the Irish House of Commons from 1776 to 1783. He was the 1st Marquiss of Ely. It was during his time as owner that a bizarre story became a legend that still survives today. There are some historians who claim that this tale goes with Tottenham Green rather than Loftus Hall, but Charles never lived at that property. Charles had a daughter named Anne. One evening, a stranger came riding up to the mansion in a storm. The family gave him shelter. He was a refined gentleman and Anne fell in love with him. He did not meet the approval of her parents and they either made him leave or he ran away when the parents discovered the two having sex. Anne went nuts and her parents confined her to the Tapestry Chamber and she eventually died there. There was a rumor shared by Rev. Robert Tottenham that a skeleton had been found behind a closet in this chamber when it was being rebuilt. Now, this part of the story seems to have some fact to it, but another element of the story is where it gets bizarre. When the strange man was at the house, the family played cards with him. At some point, Anne either dropped a ring or a card - depending on the storyteller - and she saw that the young man had a cloven foot. She screamed and this is when the strange man crashed through the roof or vanished in a thunderclap, leaving a brimstone smell behind. This led to the legend that the Devil visited Loftus Hall that night and the roof has been irreparable since.
At least until the late 1800s when Loftus Hall underwent a major renovation that was conducted by then owner, the 4th Marquess of Ely. Most of the building was demolished. The new mansion was built on the foundation. In 1917, Loftus Hall was bought by the Sisters of Providence and they turned it into a convent and school for young girls interested in joining their order. Michael Deveraux bought the mansion in 1983 and he opened is as a hotel, naming it "Loftus Hall Hotel." It closed in the early 1990s. His family held on to the property until 2011 when they sold it to the Quigley family from Carrig on Bannow. The Quigley family has done much to preserve and restore the mansion. They have been restoring the gardens in the spirit of the 17th century period and replanting trees trees, flowers and shrubs that would have been available to Henry Loftus in the 17th century. They retained some of the original garden ornaments as well. There are five reception rooms and twenty-two bedrooms.
Tours are offered on the property that include ghost tours and overnight paranormal investigations are welcomed. A new visitor center was opened in June of last year and gives visitors the opportunity to learn about the heritage of the property. A historical timeline charts key moments in the hall’s history, such as the invasion by Norman knight Raymond Le Gros, the Redmonds’ Cromwellian battle, and the 4th Marquess of Ely’s extensive renovations in anticipation of a visit by Queen Victoria, whom claimed to not believe any of the haunting tales told about Loftus Hall.
And there certainly seems to be something haunting Loftus Hall. Ghost tales go back centuries and modern day paranormal investigators have had many chilling experiences. One of the early stories was reported by the father of the Rev. George Reade. He stayed in the Tapestry Chamber around 1790 and said, "Something heavy leapt upon his bed, growling like a dog. The curtains were torn back and the clothes stripped from the bed". He was traveling with a group and he thought they were pulling a prank, so he shouted for them to stop with their tricks, even going so far as to fire his pistol up the chimney to frighten them. He searched the room and found nothing and the door was locked. Rev. Reade would stay in that room some time later . He was reading an article in Blackwood's Magazine when the door suddenly opened of its own accord. Then he saw the figure of a woman, dressed in a stiff dress, cross the room towards the closet and then she disappeared. It happened again the following night and Rev. Reade tried to grab the woman by the arm, but he passed right through her body.
The 2nd Marquess of Ely was staying at Loftus Hall in the early 1800s and he had his valet, Shannon, sleep in the Tapestry Chamber. Shannon screamed out in the middle of the night, waking the household. He claimed that the curtains of the bed had been violently torn back and he saw "a tall lady dressed in stiff brocaded silk." Rev. Reade visited Loftus Hall again in 1868. At this point, the Tapestry Room had been renovated and was now a billiards room. He asked one of the maids how the female ghost felt about the change and she said, “Oh! Master George, don't talk about her. Last night she made a horrid noise knocking the billiard balls about!” Every one has come to believe that this female ghost is the spirit of Anne Loftus.
Modern day experiences incorporate everything from significant temperature drops to EMF spikes to full-bodied apparitions. People claim that not only does Anne haunt the place, but the Devil himself. Father Thomas Broaders was called upon in the 1700s to exorcise an evil spirit at the mansion. He died in 1773 and was buried in Horetown Cemetery. His epitaph reads, "Here lies the body of Thomas Broaders, Who did good and prayed for all, And banished the Devil from Loftus Hall". When Ghost Adventures visited, Aaron claimed that a demon climbed on top of him.
The most famous modern day haunting connected to the mansion took place in September of 2014. A man named Thomas Beavis was taking the tour and snapping pictures. When he looked at the pictures after the trip, he discovered in one of the pictures something that resembled a ghostly figure of a young girl and what looked like the head of an older woman in a window. Beavis said, “We were all feeling a little edgy from the tour, but when I showed the photo to my friends we freaked. I zoomed in on all the windows to find this girl in the window. I had to take some time before I showed it to everyone just because I didn’t really understand what I was looking at.” That image went viral. Here is that picture:
Beavis returned to Loftus Hall later to participate in a paranormal investigation. He said of a room on the third floor, “Everyone in it experienced something, the way this room would darken when the group felt there was a presence walking around was creepy to say the least and when the paranormal investigator was talking to a presence and asking it questions, nobody could deny it was answering through flashes on the EMF reader, this was enough to warrant two hot cups of tea before the next room.” He claimed that the strangest experience he had was in the card room. He reported, “A presence in the room made a woman in our group’s finger shake so much her ring fell off. Now, I was next to this woman and I’ve tried to make my finger shake like that but it’s impossible. You just can’t shake your ring finger without moving at least one other, It’s like something was just pulling on her finger and she couldn’t explain how it happened… nobody could!”
On the official Loftus Hall blog, R. Reddin wrote, "Upon reaching the top step a long and dark corridor waited before us, narrow and daunting. I remembered this corridor from the TV show, Ghost Adventures, and dreaded walking down it. Anne pointed out the rooms that had the most activity along the way. When we reached a room at the end of yet another narrow corridor, Anne told me the experiences of people who felt the presence of a child-like spirit that haunted the room that we stood in. As she was telling me stories of hair being tugged or legs being tickled I suddenly felt the back of my right knee being pushed causing my leg to bend and my balance to go. My heart dropped and pounded at the same time. I straightened my knee again and felt the same pushing – this happened 4 times in total. 'Anne my knee is being pushed!' I stated in horror, Anne nodded, amused and interested but not shocked and horrified like I expected her to be. I’d have to get used to the unexpected and mysterious things that this eerie house has to offer."
A group of investigators were using walkie talkies to communicate with each other. Around midnight a loud, harsh voice came through the walkie talkies and demanded, “ATTENTION!” The group confirmed with each other that nobody had yelled that word into a walkie talkie. Rarely does a group not have an experience here. And yet, claims persist that the stories about Loftus Hall are just hoaxes. Is Loftus Hall haunted? That is for you to decide!
Thursday, February 2, 2017
HGB Ep. 180 - Imbolc
Moment in Oddity - Hypogeum of Hal Salflieni
A Hypogeum is an underground temple or tomb and can sometimes reference a building built partially below ground that is carved from solid rock. Located in Paola, Malta is the Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni. It was discovered by accident in 1902 when workers cutting cisterns broke through the roof. Excavations revealed that it was three stories deep and dated back to 4,000 B.C. There was a central chamber that had several small rounded cubicles carved into the walls. While they appeared to be something to bury bodies in, it is thought that living people would crawl into these spaces in the fetal position as part of a ritual. This chamber is thought to be a speaking chamber and inside these small cubicles, echoes from the 'speaking' chamber reverberate into a rhythm that is similar to the human heartbeat. The skeletons of 7,000 people were found. These skeletons have disappeared with only six skulls surviving to our modern time. The skulls are peculiar. They appear elongated and one of them is missing the joint that runs along the top of the skull. Photographs of the other skulls that were taken by researchers reveal other peculiarities. These included inexistent cranial knitting lines, abnormally developed temporal partitions, drilled and swollen occiputs as following recovered traumas. The Hypogeum also contained a sacred well dedicated to the Mother Goddess and there was a small statue featuring a sleeping goddess. There were inscriptions, one of which featured a cranium showing a very pronounced dolichocephalous, which is a lengthened posterior part of the skullcap. It also was missing the median knitting, something considered impossible by doctors and researchers. While we have heard stories of bandaging or cradle boarding to cause a skull to elongate, it is believed that the skulls found in the Hypogeum were from a group of people who had a natural genetic tendency for elongated skulls and that, certainly is odd!
This Month in History - 15th Amendment Ratified
In the month of February, on the 3rd, in 1870, the 15th Amendment was ratified. This Amendment ensured the right to vote to all males who were citizens of the United States. This opened the door to African American males being able to vote and run for office. Female suffragists like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton worked alongside black suffragists like Frederick Douglass to get the vote for all citizens, so this was a partial victory. It would take 50 more years for women to get the vote in America, although the territory of Utah did sign a law allowing women over the age of 21 to vote, 9 days after the ratification of the 15th Amendment. The Republican Party made the 15th Amendment a part of their Reconstruction efforts and black voters helped the Republican Party come to power in the South. Hiram Rhoades Revels became the first African American to be elected as a U.S.Senator for the Republican Party, representing Mississippi. A dozen other black men served in Congress during Reconstruction and more than 600 served in state legislatures.
Imbolc (Suggested and researched by Roxy Roxstar)
There are a variety of Pagan holidays, many of which, other religions have borrowed from to establish their own holidays. Christmas and Easter being good examples of this meshing of customs. One Pagan holiday that is not as well known in Imbolc. This is a holiday with a variety of names, depending on culture and location. The customs associated with it, date back centuries. It falls on February 2nd, timing it between the deep darkness of the Winter Solstice and the coming of rebirth with the Spring Equinox. Our listener and Executive Producer Roxy Roxstar joins us to share the history and legends behind the holiday of Imbolc.
The Irish Gaelice called it Oimelc, which translates to “ewe’s milk” to represent the ewes nursing their newly born lambs. This time of year for the Romans was the season of the Lupercalia. This entailed a purification ritual held on February 15. A goat would be sacrificed and a scourge made of its hide. Then men would run through the city and hit people with the bits of goat hide. If you were one of the people hit with the goat hide, you would consider it to be good luck. This is one of the few Roman celebrations that does not have a temple or deity associated with the custom. This one focuses on the founding of the city of Rome. Lupercale was the cave where the she-wolf suckled the founders of Rome, twins Romulus and Remus.
The ancient Egyptians celebrated this time of year as the Feast of Nut, whose birthday falls on February 2 (Gregorian calendar). According to the Book of the Dead, Nut was seen as a mother-figure to the sun god Ra, who at sunrise was known as Khepera and took the form of a scarab beetle.
Christian Conversion of a Pagan Celebration. When Ireland converted to Christianity, it was hard to convince people to get rid of their old gods, so the church allowed them to worship the goddess Brighid as a saint -- thus the creation of St. Brigid's Day. Today, there are many churches around the world which bear her name.
Roxy told us a bit about herself: I have always been a big fan of discussing the sort of topics that don’t have an absolute answer, like religion, spirituality, and paranormal experiences! I attended Catholic school from kindergarten through 12th grade, and while I guess I was “indoctrinated” at an early age, an upbringing with a lot of theological education also taught me to question WHY I believe what I believe. I’m not sure if that’s what was intended, but that’s how it turned out.
I have been studying neopaganism for the past 4 and half years, and I have been a practicing eclectic witch for three and a half years. I believe that we all walk our own path to find God, Goddess, enlightenment, nirvana, whatever you wish to call it. I don’t believe that any one religion is correct, and I LOVE learning about various religions in the world!
Well, to explain it most accurately, we’ll need to go back several thousand years. We need to imagine life without electricity, plumbing, irrigation, and all of the luxuries that have become so common in our world today. At this time of year that we are experiencing in the present, life in wintertime was absolutely brutal. There was a very real risk with each passing year that one might not make it through this season. Cold temperatures, inclement weather, and dead or dormant crops made life very difficult. Your survival could very well depend on how much food you were able to stockpile, how much firewood you had, and whether or not you had livestock to provide extra warmth (yes, they were typically brought into the home) and the hope that you would have more sustenance going forward. Staying warm and keeping a full belly could be a major challenge. Lucky for them, “The ancients were very clever and intelligent folk who took advantage of snow and cold waters for refrigeration, and they made use of the sun, fire, salt, and fermentation to preserve food for long winters.”
In the wake of the struggle to survive, the ancient Celtic people found reason to celebrate in Imbolc. “The word ‘Imbolc’ derives directly from Imbolg or Oimelc, words meaning ‘of milk’ or ‘in the belly.’” It is usually celebrated on February 1st or 2nd, and if I had to generalize the meaning of Imbolc, I would call it “A New Beginning”. While it is not the new year for pagans and neopagans (that would be Samhain, on or around Halloween), it represents a chance to come out from the dark, cold winter and back into the light of the promised Spring.
In the start of February, the ewes (sheep) would give birth, and therefore at around that time, they would also begin producing milk. Women who had conceived during the festival of Beltane in May would also be giving birth at around this time. All of the new life perfectly describes the vibe of this holiday.
Many neopagans use the Wheel of the Year to dictate their celebrations or holidays. This wheel was never used by the Celts or any other ancient pagan culture, to my knowledge, but they might have followed something similar. The Wheel as we know it now came into being when the Wicca movement came about, started by Gerald Gardener in the 1940s. The year starts with…
Samhain - October 31st. Honoring of ancestors and lost loved ones. Divination, communication with the dead.
Yule/Winter Solstice - December 21st. Usually a subdued gathering, keeping warm and sharing what little light exists at the longest night of the year.
Ostara/Spring Equinox - March 20th or 21st. Spring is in full swing!
Beltane - May 1st or 2nd. Often recognized as May Day, this is the time for...feelin’ the love, so to speak. Celebrates the union of the God and Goddess.
Litha/Midsummer/Summer Solstice - June 21st. Longest day of the year
Lammas/Lughnasadh/Autumnal Equinox - August 1st. 1st harvest festival
Mabon - September 21st. Second Harvest Festival
It should be noted that the Wheel of the Year is not based off of our modern Gregorian calendar, but rather it flowed with the Celtic agricultural seasons.
Yes, that would be Brigid. She is a central figure in the Celtic pantheon, but she is especially recognized during Imbolc.
Brigid is a “triple goddess”; she is seen as a maiden, mother, and crone goddess. This makes her dually, or tripally, special! Often known as “The Exalted One”, she is a pivotal figure in Celtic culture.
Brigid is a woman/goddess of many guises. She is known as a goddess of many areas of reign:
Lady of the Sacred Well (healing)
Oak Queen (goddess of sacrifice)
Brigid the Bard (arts and craftsmanship)
Brigid the midwife (caregiver, protectress of the home)
Goddess of the Eternal Flame (Lady of the Forge)
Maiden = youth, abundant opportunity
Mother = nurturing, fertility
Crone = wise advisor, counselor
Brigid was integrated into Christianity, too; perhaps as a campaign to convert the Celts, she became St. Brigid. In this form, she is known as a patron saint of Ireland, dairymaids, cattle midwives, Irish nuns, and newborn babies (according to Catholic Online). In some traditional tales, she was the midwife to Jesus Christ. Her feast day is February 1st. What a coincidence! Regardless of her form, Brigid was very well worshipped in the pagan and Christian faith of Ireland.
There are a variety of ways that people paid homage to Brigid for Imbolc. Some people make Brigid crosses (4 equal arms that form a sun spiral with a square in the center) or corn dollies out of corn husks, palm leaves, wheat stalks, etc., and hang them above their doors as a request for her protection. Others would lay a bed of ashes on the hearth for a night before Imbolc, and if the ashes had been disturbed the next morning, it was perceived as a good omen; you would have Brigid’s blessing. There is also a practice of hanging a ribbon on the threshold or window sill on Imbolc night. Tradition states that if the ribbon is longer in the morning, Brigid has visited and blessed you and your house. If the length has not changed, you do not have Brigid’s favor.
There are a few stories associated with St. Brigid, about a magical cloak. I would like to read a couple for you, as written in my favorite book on Brigid: “Brigid: History, Mystery, and Magick of the Celtic Goddess”, by Courtney Weber.
“One day Brigid went to the Bishop to ask for a plot of land on which to build her abbey at which she would feed the poor, give shelter, and educate the young. The Bishop refused, but still she asked again and again. Finally, the Bishop agreed to grant her the land, but only so much as her cloak would cover, sneering in spite of his own cleverness, but his grin was not for long. Brigid called to her two sisters and the three of them began to unfold her green cloak. Fold after fold, the cloak stretched and stretched until it covered so much land that the Bishop could not see to the end of it. He pleaded for her to stop lest she cover all of Ireland, and granted her the space to build the abbey. —TRADITIONAL TALE”
“Two lepers came to visit Brigid at her sacred well in Kildare and asked for healing. She agreed, instructing them to bathe one another in the well until their skin healed. However, after one was healed, he refused to bathe the other as the sight of his former ailment disgusted him. He refused to touch his friend to bestow the healing he had just received. Witnessing the unkind act, Brigid was so angry that her fury caused his ailment to return. She wrapped her green mantle around the other and healed him completely. —INSPIRED BY TRADITIONAL TALE”
There are many wells throughout Ireland that are associated with Brigid and her healing energies, but THE location for fans and worshippers of Brigid would be Kildare. This is where her sacred flame burned from the 5th century B.C.E. to the 16th century C.E., (when it was judged to be of pagan origin and thus unworthy of existence.) 19 women who followed Brigid would tend to the flame, day and night, for 19 days, and on the 20th night, it was said the Brigid would take her watch, and the sisters of her order would leave the flame to her care. In 1993, the flame was relit by sisters of the Brigidine Order, and they continue to maintain the legacy of St. Brigid in Kildare.
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