Friday, June 30, 2017

HGB Ep. 209 - Tilty Abbey

Moment in Oddity - Murder Bottles

The Victorian Era was fraught with dangers as we have covered before when talking about Victorian dresses that caught fire easily. Isabella Beeton wrote a book titled "Mrs. Beeton's Household Management" in 1861, which doled out advice to the ladies on how to run a proper household from cooking to child rearing. One bit of advice in that book, combined with a modern day marvel of the time, led to the deaths of hundreds of babies. Breast feeding in the Victorian era was challenging because of those dangerous Victorian dresses just mentioned. Even nursing corsets did not help alleviate the challenge. So the banjo bottle was created with a nifty rubber tube and nipple. Now baby could feed him or herself with ease. This freed up mother to tend to the hiring of staff and such. Many of these bottles carried names like "Mummies Darling." Mrs. Beeton encouraged the use of these bottles and even advised moms that they only needed to wash the nipple and tubing occasionally. And even when the mothers did clean the bottle apparatus, it was very difficult. As you already have probably surmised, these bottles were the perfect incubators for deadly bacteria. And the infrequent cleaning only added to the problem. Doctors soon condemned the bottles, but people continued to buy them. At that time, only two out of ten infants lived to their second birthday and these bottles certainly helped add to that statistic. This earned the bottles the nickname “Murder Bottles.” The fact that parents would continue to use these bottles with a name like that and follow the advise of a woman who thought washing these things only needed to be done every couple of weeks, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Mildred "Babe" Didrikson Born

In the month of June, on the 26th in 1914, champion athlete Mildred "Babe" Didrikson was born in Port Arthur, Texas. Mildred got her nickname "Babe" from baseball legend Babe Ruth. She played a variety of sports and excelled at allof them, which was unheard of for a female in her day. She won two gold medals at the 1932 Olympics and set world records while earning those medals in the javelin throw and high hurdle. She switched to golf after that and won the 1946 U.S. Women's Amateur Tournament. In 1947, she won 17 straight golf championships and became the first American winner of the British Ladies' Amateur Tournament. She turned pro and won the U.S. Women's Open in 1950 and 1954. Other sports she conquered were softball, baseball, swimming, figure skating, billiards, and she even played some football. The Associated Press named her 'woman athlete of the first half of the 20th century' in 1950. And despite her athletic way of life and healthy living, cancer found its way to her and took her life in 1952. She was on 42 years old.

Tilty Abbey (Suggested by listener Bob Sherfield)

The village of Tilty is in the county of Essex in England. The county is known for its Mediaeval Gothic architecture using various stones, wood and bricks in the construction of buildings that have thus endured for centuries. Some of these structures have not fared well though and one of these is Tilty Abbey. All that really remains of the abbey are some crumbling stone walls in the field and a chapel outside the gates built for worshippers who were not monks. The abbey was built in the 12th century and was a religious and social center. Some may say that a religious location is a source for the supernatural and it would seem that Tilty Abbey remains such a source today with rumors of strange creatures, headless monks wandering around, curses and other strange occurrences. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of Tilty Abbey and her village!

The abbey at Tilty was established in 1153 by Maurice FitzGeoffrey. He was the vassal of the Earl of Derby at the time and thus the Earl helped with the founding. Seven Cistercian monks came from Warden Abbey in Bedfordshire to reside at the abbey, which initially started as a wooden makeshift dwelling. The monks spent their days clearing the land and establishing self-sufficient agriculture. They built several buildings in the Cistercian style, which included a refectory, cloisters, living quarters and the main church. The church was large and measured over 170 feet long and 90 feet wide. It is believed that the dedication of the abbey probably took place on September 22nd, known as St Maurice's feast day. People were welcome to worship at the abbey, but not in the church itself. A “capella ante portas” was constructed. This basically was a smaller chapel outside the gates and this particular one was dedicated to St Thomas Becket.

The monks and the abbey were not above getting involved in politics and they stood in opposition to King John who was ruling in 1215. On Christmas Day of that year, the King sacked the abbey. Soldiers broke into the church and several chests and stole anything of value. The church was desecrated and several monks were killed. Two of their tombstones can be seen in the church on the north wall of the sanctuary. The church was rebuilt and consecrated in 1221. The power and wealth of the monastic community continued to grow with the acquirement of more land and the church was enlarged. The monks began raising sheep and developed a wool trade that produced the finest white wool in the country. Political influence for the abbey continued under King Edward I and the king summoned the abbot to one of his parliaments. The gate church was enlarged in the 14th century, right before the Black Death hit England in 1348. The Plague stopped any further expansion of the church.

Things would change drastically with the Reformation and when King Henry VIII came to power. Landowners were jealous of the wealth of the monasteries as well and they began to dissolve. Two abbots at Tilty were deposed and pensioned off between 1530 and 1535. King Henry VIII finally dissolved Tilty Abbey in 1535. The guesthouse was leased to the Marchioness of Dorset for her son, George Medley at that time. There are discrepancies as to what happened to the buildings of the abbey. Some claim that all but the gate chapel were blown up by gunpowder, while others claim that the monastic buildings were remodeled as private dwellings and then later became farm buildings. Today, there are only small sections of the stone wall left near the gate chapel. Further along a path, near the church, is the former site of the monk’s watermill that was later remodeled into a Victorian mill that no longer works.

The church is beautiful and a testament to its long history. The abbey features a large window on its east side that is an example of curvilinear 14th century tracery. The design is elaborate, incorporating five lancets leading to an intricate tracery wheel. The exterior walls are plastered in pale pink and the church is topped with a Georgian cupola atop a small bell chamber. The interior design features Norman influences with a font that has a 17th century cover, painted in foliage patterns. The roof still features original beams dating back to the 12th century. There is a beautifully carved wooden chair at the entrance of the sanctuary. The figure of a woman praying and the words 'My Lord and God. John Wesley. 1776' are carved into that chair. Unique items in the church are memorial brasses and Diane stumbled across an article in the newspaper about brass rubbing when trying to find a news story about a skeleton found on the property. (Share the article.)

One of the memorial brasses is near the altar and features the wife of the Duke of Inverary, who was named Margaret. She died in 1590. The brass has her flanked by her 3 daughters, 3 sons, and 3 children who died in infancy, shown wrapped in swaddling clothes. Another brass has a knight in full armor standing with his wife. A third brass also has a knight, but this one has him resting his head on a helmet. The pulpit is made from a Georgian sounding board that has the figure of a bird in flight painted on it. On the south side of the sanctuary is a three seat sedilia and a piscina, all set beneath nicely carved niches with open-work tracery. The walls are decorated with medieval carvings and wall paintings, one of which is a repeating pattern of colored triangles. The pews are painted pale greyish-green and at the west end of the nave is an organ painted a darker green.

The abbey is the center of most of the supernatural activity in the village of Tilty, but there are several locations here that have paranormal lore and hauntings connected to them. There is a nearby village named Thaxted and it was connected to Tilty by a coach road. This old road has reports of the disembodied sound of horses and coaches driving along. This is unnerving enough, but actually seeing the coach can be utterly terrifying as legend claims that glimpsing the coach means that you will die soon. We’re not sure if this is simply a death omen or a curse because the individual saw the coach.

A cottage in the village was built sometime in the early 1600s and is known as Deer’s Leap Cottage. A man named Malcolm Pearce moved into it and that is when reports of a ghostly presence started. The lights in the cottage have a habit of turning off and whenever Malcolm gets up to check why the light has gone out, it will pop back on. Several electricians have checked the wiring over the years, but nothing has ever been found wrong with the wiring of the house. Objects move around and pictures come off the walls. Malcolm says these occurrences can be startling, but he has never felt threatened by the presence that he has come to believe is an old woman. He has never seen the spirit, but one day a cleaning woman turned in her notice and when he asked why she was leaving, she informed him that she had seen a grey-haired woman in period clothing smiling her, who then abruptly vanished.

The Old Mill that the monks had built were modified into apartments at one time. Tunnels used to branch out from Tilty Abbey to various locations to serve as protection during the time that the monks were persecuted. One of those tunnels led to the mill, which was accessed through the cellar door. Today, it is bricked up, but when it was still open a man named Bob Hitchings went out to the mill with a young woman who lived there. She complained to him that the cellar door would not stay locked. Bob figured that there had to be some kind of explanation. Probably that she was not locking the door securely. He locked the door and put the keys on a hook. In the morning, he was shocked to find that the door was open and the keys were where he had left them. There was no one else at the mill at the time.

The woman’s father had a terrifying experience that has been shared by several people in the area. This is a story of a bizarre creature. The father had been walking up the lane from the village to the mill he noticed that a dark figure had been following along with him, darting in and out of the bushes. He immediately thought that the figure belonged to a cat, but when he saw it again, it was too large to be a cat. He figured it was a badger or even more likely, a fox. The shadowy creature continued to follow behind him as if stalking him and as it did, it grew in size. The father burst through the kitchen door in a state of terror and told Hitchings, who was visiting, what he had seen. The man was truly scared and this was reflected even more noticeably when his hair turned completely white within a few weeks of the encounter.

Another man witnessed this same creature in 1994 when he was driving to Duton Hill by way of Tilty Road. He told his wife that a large creature had passed before his headlights. He estimated that it was around six feet tall and seemed to lope like an animal, but what chilled him to the bone was that the headlights did not illuminate the shadow. He said, “It was there, but it wasn’t there. I could see it, but the headlights didn’t shine on it.” Villagers have come to call the creature “The Black Cat.” What makes the connection to Hitchings story about the father whose hair turned white weird is that this story occurred twenty-five years after that story.

A dark figure was seen in February of 1996 by a local history who was taking a walk through the Abbey fields with a friend. They were surveying the fields to assess if they were suitable for re-enactments of Civil War battles. The figure appeared in the tree line wearing dark clothing. It was dusk, so the figure was hard to make out. It was approaching them and the man looked away for a moment, but when it was near to them and passing by, he glanced at the figure only to see that there was no one there. He startled and his companion asked what was the matter. The man was confused because his friend had no concern that a dark figure had been near them. When he asked his friend if he had seen the figure passing them, his friend responded, “Nobody’s passed us. What are you talking about?”

There seems to be a curse connected to the property. Reverend G.E. Symonds wrote "Tilty Parish and Abbey" in 1889 and an excerpt from that work reads, "It was said that if anyone ordered some of the remaining buildings to be demolished, he would die within a month. A steward did so in the early part of the 19th century, and died within a month; his successor of the same family some years after ordered a further removal, and he died within a month, and now only a part, apparently, of the cloister is left." So was there really a curse for those who destroyed the Abbey?

The Three Horseshoes is a pub in the village that has had its share of paranormal activity. Gill Connell is the landlady and she has reported that in 1993, when she was moving in, something odd happened. She said, "On August 4, 1993, the day we moved in, I put he kettle on to make tea for Derek, myself and the two moving men. I then went to watch the men unloading the last things from the lorry. After a while, I remembered the tea. Going back into the kitchen, I found that the kettle was hot from having boiled, but it was switched off at the wall and the kettle flex had been coiled up and laid on the work surface. Nobody had entered the house while I was outside." He mother-in-law also had experiences with hearing people coming in the door and there would be nobody there and she once caught a mince pie sliding itself off the table. An employee reportedly has seen smoke rings being formed by an invisible smoker and a glass has moved itself across the bar and smashed onto the floor. Someone sitting at the bar once felt a strong poke while sitting on a stool at the bar. 

A woman was driving in a storm on her way to Duton Hill along B184 near Titly when she was startled by a darkfigure sitting in her back seat. She looked down and when she looked back at the mirror, she saw that he was no longer there. Then she noticed that he was outside the car, riding on a motorbike. He kept pace with her for awhile and then he moved in front of her car and slowed down. He finally forced her to stop. Then he took off across a field and disappeared. She started her car up and continued down the road after she calmed herself. She came around a bend and saw a huge tree in the road. She felt that the ghost protected her from being hit y the tree. Interestingly, a John Marajohn was killed on a motorbike on the stretch of road.

Across from the pub is a large Tudor style house that belonged to the Willoughby Family. The family has reported objects moving in the house on their own, disembodied footsteps and a feeling of being watched. Loud knocks on the back door have been heard when nobody is at the door. The most terrifying incidents at the home revolve around a hooded figure. A previous owner had been a Belgian heiress. One evening, she went out to retrieve some dustbins that strong winds had blown around. As she walked past an out building, she was startled by a hooded figure. It raised its hand. She stopped in her tracks and the outbuilding collapsed. She was left unhurt and saw the figure as a protector, although some might claim it caused the collapse. Gill Willoughby's mother was once awakened by a hooded figure that beckoned for her to follow it. When it reached the bedroom door, it disappeared. Gill's son awoke one night with a pressure on his chest as if someone was pressing down on him. He watched as a grey mist gathered above him. He shouted and kicked his feet and the mist disappeared.

The most famous apparition here is the ghost of the headless monk. Though no reports have been made for many years, the headless monk story is said to date back to 1215, when a monk was beheaded by men of King John. An archaeological dig on the site of the abbey in 1942 recovered two stone monk's tombs with skeletons inside of them. One of the skeletons was missing its head.

There seems to be some strange things happening in the village of Tilty. Is the village haunted? Is Tilty Abbey haunted? That is for you to decide!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

HGB Ep. 208 - Fort Henry

Moment in Oddity - The Swinging Sailor
Suggested by: Melissa Antonelli

In Perryman, Maryland there is an old church graveyard at the Spesutia Church of St. George's Parish. A very unusual grave is in this cemetery. Legend claims that it belongs to a Captain who directed his men to bring him here and bury him in such a way that his feet would never touch dry ground. People claim that the sailors carried their captain up a hill from the Chesapeake Bay, filled his casket with rum and buried him as requested. A rock group named Captain Quint even wrote a song about the legend called "The Swinging Sailor of Perryman." The chorus goes, "On his sea legs he'll forever stand, A man obsessed with one last request, To never touch his feet upon dry land." The grave belongs to a man named John Clark Monk and there is no record that he was ever a captain and made such a request. But his burial is so bizarre that clearly, something akin to this legend must be the true story. He has been dubbed "The Swinging Sailor" and the grave is built as a large concrete box sitting upon a stone slab. But Mr. Monk's remains are not in the concrete box, rather he is inside of a coffin that is suspended from chains that hang underneath the slab. There are cracks in the slab that allow visitors to peer down into the space. No one is really certain why he was buried this way, but it certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Robert Kennedy Shot and Killed

In the month of June, on the 5th, in 1968, Robert F. Kennedy was shot and mortally wounded while leaving the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. His brother John F. Kennedy had been assassinated five years before as well. He had served as Attorney General under his brother and resigned in 1964, so that he could run for the Senate. He decided to run for president in 1968 and he was celebrating his victory in the California presidential primary at the Ambassador Hotel. He had just finished addressing his supporters after midnight and was making his way through the hotel's kitchen when a Palestinian named Sirhan Sirhan opened fire with a .22 caliber revolver. Six people were hit with Kennedy being shot three times. He succumbed to his injuries at 1:44 a.m. He was only 42 and left behind a wife and eleven children. Bobby was buried at Arlington National Cemetery near to his brother's final resting place.

Fort Henry (Suggested by listener Sarah Norton)

Fort Henry was built during the War of 1812 in Ontario, Canada. The fort was constructed to protect the nearby Point Henry because of its proximity to the Royal Naval Dockyards. The fort that stands today is not the original. It was fortified later on to protect the waterways even more thoroughly.  Today, it is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and a living museum. There are more than just the living  here. The fort also seems to harbor spirits from the past. Ghost tours are hosted and dozens of people have claimed to have had paranormal experiences. Join us and our listener Sarah Norton as we share the history and hauntings of Ontario's Fort Henry.

Fort Henry was built along a vital trading route near the mouth of the St. Lawrence River and the fort protected communication between Kingston and the eastern settlements of the area. French explorer Jacques Cartier had explored the Gulf of St. Lawrence on three separate voyages in the 1530s and 1540s. He gave the country of Canada her name. It was the Huron Iroquois name for "settlement." Cartier blazed a path for colonization by France and began some limited fur trading with the First Nations that lived along the St. Lawrence River. He was not as successful with trading because he focused on furs used as trimming and adornment, rather than the coveted beaver pelt. He was ultimately seeking the northeast route to Asia. He never found the route. He returned to France after the third voyage and lived out his life as a navigational expert, never exploring again.

The War of 1812 broke out between Britain and America and Canada became a central battleground. With the importance of the St. Lawrence River, it was decided that forts needed to be built along the route for protection. Point Henry was one of these points. The Fort was constructed high atop Point Henry overlooking Lake Ontario. A dry moat leads down to the waters edge on both sections of the fort, making it impossible for the fort to be completely surrounded. The fort itself is surrounded by a dry moat as well. Discipline was paramount at the fort and punishment harsh. After the war, the Rideau Canal was built. That construction took place from 1826 to 1832 and it became even more important for the area to be protected because three important waterways intersected here: the Rideau Canal, the St. Lawrence River, and Lake Ontario. Fort Henry needed improvements, so it was reconstructed between 1832 and 1837.

The reconstruction was supposed to be more extensive, but the canal went over budget. Only the Fort and four Martello towers, spaced along the Kingston waterfront, were completed. This made Fort Henry the largest fortification west of Quebec city. The Fort cost 70,000 British pounds sterling to construct, which is the equivalent to approximately $35,000,000 in modern Canadian currency. Some soldiers were allowed to bring their families with them. There was a schoolroom for the children. Bugles, drums and bagpipes helped to communicate battle instructions and the Royal Welch Fusilires were stationed at the Fort in the 1840s. Today, the mascot of the Fort if a goat named David and he represents the Fusilires. This group was one of the oldest infantry regiments of the British Army, part of the Prince of Wales' Division. *Fun Fact: At the surrender of Yorktown, the Royal Welch Fusiliers was the only British regiment not to surrender its colours after the British loss at Yorktown. They smuggled their flag out tied around an ensign's waist.*

By 1870, the British no longer had use for the fort and they abandoned it, so Canadian troops moved in and stationed themselves there until 1891. Neither the original fort or this second one ever came under military attack. There was not much use for the fort after that time and it fell into disrepair until 1936. Ronald L. Way started an effort at that time to turn the fort into a living history museum and in 1936 restoration of the fort was begun as a "make work project" during the Great Depression. It opened on August 1, 1938 and cost over $1,000,000. Prime Minister Mackenzie King officially opened it and it was dedicated to all the British soldiers who had served within its walls. During World War II, it was closed to the public and used as a prisoner of war camp. It was known as Camp 31. It was re-opened to the public in 1948. It has been named as a National Historic Site and today, the former military quarters have been transformed into a restaurant and bar. The Fort is like a little village with displays and there is even a working bakery. They host tours, conduct demonstrations of firing cannons and troop movements and the top of the Fort offers great views of Kingston. (Those troop movements demonstrate how stupid some of that old warfare used to be.) It becomes Fort Fright for the Halloween Season. The Haunted Walk of Kingston offers a ghost tour of Fort Henry, so this location has some spirits wandering around.

One of the ghosts is believed to belong to John "Gunner" Smith. He was a rifleman whose weapon malfunctioned and exploded in his face. This sent him flying backwards off the top of the fort down into the dry moat below where he screamed in agonizing until he died. Many people have reported seeing an injured man lying in the ditch while others have reported hearing the sounds of people scurrying in the area. His wails have been heard as well. Nils Von Schultz was a Finnish born nationalist that became involved in the Upper Canada Rebellion in the early 1800s. He was captured, tried for insurrection and hanged in 1838. There are claims that he haunts the Commanders Room #3. He likes to move objects around the room. And then there is the man in the blue uniform who wanders around several areas of the Fort.

Karly V wrote on TripAdvisor: "This is a review of the Haunted Walk of Fort Henry, done by the Haunted Walk of Kingston. Seriously cool time. We got to see the Fort at night, with barely any lights, in the rain which added some spooky atmosphere to our evening. The tour started late, but that wasn't a problem. I think we got a lot of extra stories that we may not have got during a normal day tour. Not for the faint of heart - there were two major ghost experiences on just our tour alone that night and we captured an EVP as well. Really unique way to see the Fort - HIGHLY recommended."

Rob Brown wrote on TripAdvisor: "This place is phenomenal. Its so cool. Kids love it. Heck the Ghosthunters loved it. But they dont know a story I know. According to one of the night guards, all the canteens came off the shelf in one of the rooms and on to the table one night. Come to see the fort and you will know the room. The night guard was sincere. Why do I believe her? Well, a door closed behind me on its own. Go and visit if you are brave enough."

Rusty wrote of an experience he had, "In 2010 I took my family, which consisted of my wife, our 1-year old daughter and myself, on a trip to see Old Fort Henry in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. This fort is known for ghost experiences. I have had many "ghostly experiences" in my life so maybe I'm more sensitive to things than others but that's another story. While taking a group tour we came to a hallway leading to the fort's "Officer's quarters". My daughter started acting up in what could be best described as a refusal to enter the hallway (she was in a stroller at the time). My wife and her stayed back while I went with the group. After seeing the living quarters of the officers (which is secured with a glass front so no one can enter) the group moved onto the kitchen area. A few minutes later I decided to leave the group to go check on the wife and daughter. After checking to make sure things were okay with the family, I followed the hallway back past the Commanding Officer's quarters to catch back up with the group. As I passed this room I glanced back in for an extra look. Standing in front of the writing desk located in the room was a rather tall British-uniformed officer who turned and looked at me and then just faded away! Needless to say, it did not take me long to catch up with the group. At the end of the tour I asked the guide about ghost sightings in the fort and he did mention that there have been reports of an officer's ghost, along with several others, being sighted, sometimes in the hallway through which we walked."

Sarah definitely felt as though something creepy was hanging around the fort. The haunted tour has recorded dozens of experiences. Is Fort Henry haunted? That is for you to decide!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

HGB Ep. 207 - Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village

Moment in Oddity - 1000 Japanese Soldiers Decimated by Crocodile
Suggested by: Michael Rogers

The largest reptilian predator in the world is the saltwater crocodile. The crocodile can grow up to 20 feet long and weigh 2,000 pounds and eat something as big as a water buffalo, meaning that it can eat a full-grown adult human. One of its territories is the mangrove swamps of Ramree Island. This island lies off of the Burma coast and was occupied by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II. The Allies launched an attack in 1945 to retake the island. The British called on the Japanese to surrender and they refused. They decided to run into the swamp despite the dangers of poisonous animals, lack of drinking water and tropical diseases. What nobody considered would come to be one of the oddest incidents during any war. Bruce Stanley Wright wrote the book Wildlife Sketches Near and Far and he described what happened as "that night was the most horrible that any member of the M.L. [marine launch] crews ever experienced. The crocodiles, alerted by the din of warfare and the smell of blood, gathered among the mangroves, lying with their eyes above water, watchfully alert for their next meal. With the ebb of the tide, the crocodiles moved in on the dead, wounded, and uninjured men who had become mired in the mud.” Nearly half of the 1,000 Japanese soldiers that ran into that swamp died. Others were left so badly injured and mauled that they were captured by the British forces. Not many know about the Battle of Ramree Island or the creepiness connected to it. The fact that a bunch of crocodiles forced the Japanese to finally surrender the island, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - SCOTUS Strikes Down Laws Against Interracial Marriage

In the month of June, on the 12th, in 1967, the United States Supreme Court unanimously struck down all state laws prohibiting interracial marriage. In 1664, the state of Maryland instituted the first law against marriage between whites and slaves. In 1691, Virginia began exiling white people who married people of color. Pennsylvania would take the first steps towards repealing laws banning interracial marriage in 1780. Many northern states would follow suit before the Civil War as part of an attempt to abolish slavery. Despite these positive movements, there would be three attempts made to amend the Constitution to ban interracial marriage. The Cable Act of 1922 shined a light on marriage between whites and Asians and stripped any American citizen of their citizenship if they married an Asian immigrant. McLaughlin v. Florida was argued in 1964 and the SCOTUS unanimously ruled that banning interracial sex violated the 14th Amendment. Richard and Mildred Loving took their case to SCOTUS on that 12th  day in June of 1967 and interracial marriage was finally legal in all states.

Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village (Suggested by listeners Bridget Schlack and Emily Ridener)

Henry Ford was more than just an inventor. He was a collector and by the 1920s, he had amassed one of the largest collections of Americana in the world. He decided to display his collection at a museum in Dearborn, Michigan and the plan he laid out featured two separate facilities, one indoor and one outdoor. The indoor facility would tell the story of man's innovation and the outdoor museum would be a village about history. Today, we know this location as the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. On this episode, we are joined by our listener Bridget Schlack who worked at the museum for a number of years. She will share with us the types of items that are a part of the collection and she will also share some things that are unique in this collection. Some items seem to have attachments to them and this has led to stories of haunting experiences, some of which Bridget has experienced herself.

There seems to be many strange things of a supernatural variety taking place at the museum. Is the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village haunted? That is for you to decide!

Monday, June 12, 2017

HGB Ep. 206 - Haunted Cemeteries 1

Moment in Oddity - Giants in Death Valley

A doctor named F. Bruce Russell claimed that he and a friend named Dr. Daniel S. Bovee discovered a series of complex tunnels deep below Death Valley in 1931 and what they found in those tunnels was amazing. The men had been trying to do some mining in the area and while sinking a shaft, Dr. Russell fell into a cave after the soil gave way. He found himself in the middle of a catacomb of tunnels leading off into different directions. The two men decided to explore the tunnels and eventually found the mummified remains of three large men. They measured between eight and nine feet. The mummies were dressed in medium length jackets and trousers that reached just below their knees. So it was as if these giants were wearing the clothes of normal sized men. The material was unidentifiable and the two doctors claimed it was similar to sheepskin, but came from an unknown animal. Perhaps an animal that was extinct. The burial room held a number of artifacts that appeared to be Egyptian and Native American in design. Hieroglyphics were chiseled on carefully polished granite. Other rooms in the caverns held other artifacts. The two men said that there were approximately 32 tunnels running across 180 square miles of Death Valley. No scientists or archeologists believed the claims. Dr. Russell recruited a group of investors and formed "Amazing Explorations, Inc." Unfortunately, by the time he got back out to the find, the sands had shifted and he could no longer find the site. Dr. Russell disappeared shortly thereafter. His car was found abandoned with a burst radiator, in a remote area of Death Valley. His suitcase was still in the car. Was the find a hoax? If it was true, it was strange, but the disappearance of Dr. Russell makes this even more odd!

This Day in History - Korean War Begins

In the month of June, on the 25th, in 1950, Communist forces from North Korea invaded South Korea, touching off the Korean War. Korea had been divided after World War II. Russia took over North Korea and transformed it into a Communist regime, while the United States took South Korea under its wing. After the invasion, the U.S. quickly put forward a resolution at the United Nations calling for a military response. The vote went forward and President Truman quickly put American military forces into action. China stepped in to protect North Korea. What would follow would be a frustrating three year war that would end with the United States not gaining a victory. A cease-fire was signed and the two parts of Korea remain separate. Fifty-five thousand American troops were killed and many think of this war as "America's Forgotten War."

Haunted Cemeteries 1

Cemeteries are the final resting places for most of us in this journey called life. While some fear cemeteries because these places remind them of their own impending end, for others, they are a place of respite and peace. The birds sing among the branches of trees growing freely in the safety of an area that will not be built upon. In the South, massive oaks covered in Spanish moss, thrust upward among the tombstones, mausoleums and gates. In the north, a cemetery will be cloaked in the white beauty of snow in the winter. Most cemeteries hold bodies, but not spirits. Occasionally though, there is a cemetery where a spirit or two is at unrest. Some stories have claims of portals or stairs to Hell. Others have tales of bizarre creatures lurking in the shadows. On this episode, we begin our series on haunted cemeteries. Writer Owl Goingback joins us to share his experiences with Greenwood Cemetery in Orlando, Florida and Tolomato Cemetery in St. Augustine, Florida, Tour Guide and Podcaster Mike Brown joins us to share the history and hauntings of the Unitarian Cemetery in Charleston, South Carolina and we will share the history and hauntings of Bachelor's Grove Cemetery in Cook County, Illinois.

Tolomato Cemetery (Owl Goingback joins us for this and the next. Owl is a writer who has written novels, children's books, articles, poetry, scripts, short stories and comic books. Check him out at

Before the cemetery was here, this was the site of an early 18th century Franciscan Indian mission named Nuestra SeƱora de Guadalupe de Tolomato or Our Lady of Guadalupe of Tolomato. The Native American group that lived at the mission had come down from Georgia and were known as the Guale. No one is sure where they got the name Tolomato, but it is believed to refer to a river from their home. They had been seeking refuge from attacks by rival tribes. After the French and Indian War, most of the Spanish citizens in the St. Augustine area left because the British took over. The Protestant Brits tore down the wooden Catholic Church from the mission. They were expelled after the Revolutionary War and the Spanish returned in 1784. Just prior to this, in 1777, a group of indentured servants from the Mediterranean known as Minorcans, came to the Tolomato mission seeking asylum and after Father Pedro Camps petitioned the governor, the group was allowed to live at the mission. The grounds were used as a burial ground for the Minorcan colonists. A little background on the Minorcans, they were brought over by a Scottish doctor named Turnbull who wanted them to work on an indigo plantation in New Smyrna Beach. They were treated very poorly and rebelled.

The Tolomato Cemetery is the oldest planned cemetery in the United States and it was entirely a Catholic burial ground where Protestants were not allowed. Most burials took place from the 18th and 19th centuries and this came to an end in 1884. The main reason for it closing was the belief that cemeteries were helping further the spread of yellow fever. At this time, they were unaware that it was the mosquito that was the vector. A diverse group of people are buried here including Spanish, Minorcan, Irish, African, Greek, Italian burials, slaves, convicts and soldiers. Many individuals important to the history of Florida have their final resting place here. The wife of Kingsley Gibbs, who owned the famous Kingsley Plantation, is buried here and Catalina Llambias, who lived in one of the oldest houses in St. Augustine, was buried illegally here by her son. He was fined, but she was left at rest. There are around one thousand recorded burials.

A woman in white is rumored to walk among the headstones. Two young boys decided to camp in the cemetery about a hundred years ago. They pitched their tent among the tombstones and went to bed. They were awakened in the middle of the night by a strange sound. They pulled back the flap of the tent and saw a woman who was glowing in a white dress, hovering near their tent. They couldn't see her face, but they saw that she had long grey hair. They ran for their lives. When they told the townspeople what they had seen, a man remarked that he believed that the ghost belonged to a young woman who had died of heart weakness one week before she was to be married. She was buried in her wedding dress.

A mortuary chapel that is in the center of the cemetery, once housed the bones of Father Varela and Bishop Verot. It is believed that both of these men haunt the cemetery, even though Father Varela was relocated to Cuba. Bishop Verat had his bones moved to the center of the cemetery. The most famous ghost here belongs to little James Morgan. He was the son of E. and Agnes Morgan and was only five at the time of his death in 1877. The circumstances of his death are unknown. He favors a large live oak that sits near his headstone. People claim to see his apparition sitting in the boughs of the tree. Others have seen his spirit running among the tombstones.

Greenwood Cemetery (Owl Goingback)

Orlando had no permanent place for burials up until the 1880s. Eight Orlando residents, I.P. Wescott, C.A. Boone, James K. Duke, J.H. Livingston, Nat Poyntz, W.R. Anno, James Delaney and Samuel A. Robinson, decided to rectify that situation and bought 26 acres from John W. Anderson for $1,800. The original layout of Greenwood Cemetery was designed by Samuel A. Robinson. It remains the only cemetery within the city limits where burials still take place.Last week's tour began with the group passing the gas lanterns at the entrance of the 120-acre cemetery, where Spanish moss covers drooping oak trees, and tombstones, obelisks and two mausoleums dot the grassy, rolling hills. Today, Greenwood Cemetery is owned and operated by the City of Orlando. Its operations are directed by the City Clerk, as provided for in City Code, Title II Chapter 16 – Cemeteries and Burials.more than 60,000 rest in peace.Buell Duncan, who headed SunTrust Bank into the 1990s.

"If it wasn't for this man here, there wouldn't be a Walt Disney World," Price said.

Duncan (1928-2010) was on the banking team that courted the Walt Disney Co. in the 1960s, and it was said that he impressed Walt Disney with his folksy nature.Nearby is the burial plot of Allie "Boo" Dixon, a name no one on the tour recognized. Dixon (1884-1947) invented the reflectors seen on most major highways and streets — they're known as Dixon Highway Safety Markers. In the 1940s, Dixon installed 268 markers along Orange Avenue near Ivanhoe Village into Winter Park.

The city, however, couldn't afford to pay him, so he was given several plots in the cemetery. His epitaph reads: "The Light Shineth."Joe Tinker (1880-1948), the Hall of Fame Chicago Cubs shortstop who died in Orlando.Francis Eppes (1801-1881), grandson of Thomas Jefferson and founder of what would become Florida State University.

Charleston Unitarian Churchyard (Mike Brown of Pleasing Terrors Ghost Tours and Podcast, which you can check out at

Bachelor's Grove Cemetery 

Before Bachelor's Grove came to be known as the most haunted cemetery in America, there was a settlement here  that was founded in the late 1820s. These settlers arrived from Scotland, Ireland and Germany. It would be the Germans who would predominately move into the area after the 1840s and it would remain that way until 1900. Bachelor's Grove was located twenty miles south of Chicago in Illinois. All of the wooded places in the area took on the names of the families that lived near them, which included Walker's Grove, Gooding's Grove, Cooper's Grove and Blackstone's Grove. Thus Bachelor's Grove got its name from the Batchelor Family who came to Rich Township in 1845. There are some who claim that the name is because four single men settled there, but the name was in use before these men arrived. A man named Stephen Rexford established the first post office in the vicinity as Batchelor's Grove in 1843.

Rexford was very involved with the organizing of the town. Bachelor's Grove encompassed areas in northwest Bremen Township, northeast Orland Township, southwest Worth Township, and southeast Palos Township. Bachelor's Grove Cemetery was established in 1844 with the burial of Eliza Scott. This makes the cemetery one of the oldest cemeteries in south Cook County. It covers approximately one acre across from the Rubio Woods Forest Preserve on 143rd Street just east of Ridgeland Avenue. The property had belonged to Edward M. Everden and he sold it to Frederick Schmidt, who set aside the acre for the graveyard. Many of the early settlers from the area were buried here. To arrive at the cemetery, one has to travel down a trail closed to traffic. This was originally part of the old Midlothian Turnpike in the 1960s. The last burial took place in 1989 and was the cremated remains of Robert E. Shields. The cemetery is now under the supervision and responsibility of the Cemetery Trustees (under the Real Estate Management Office) of the Cook County Board.

Around the time that the Turnpike was shut down, teenagers started using the graveyard as a hangout for making out and drinking parties. The cemetery suffered extensive vandalism and rumors of Satanic rituals have plagued its modern day history. The defacing of the property accelerated in the 1970s and many headstones ended up in a quarry pond. The once beautiful park was now a wreck no longer suitable for the family picnics that took place there decades before. Could the mistreatment of this once peaceful cemetery have led to it becoming haunted? Tales of the things happening here range from the mundane to the truly terrifying. There are reports of strange orbs of blue and red light and phantom cars that appear and disappear. There are those that claim that a ghost house makes occasional appearances. This house is seen in all kinds of weather conditions. When people approach the house, it seems to get smaller and smaller and then finally just fades away. And there are many reports of apparitions, some of which have been caught on film.

There is the Picture of the Madonna of Bachelor's Grove. This picture was captured by the Ghost Research Society (GRS) on August 10, 1991. GRS member Jude Felz took several black and white photos with a high-speed infrared camera. When the pictures were developed the image of the madonna emerged. She was a young woman who appeared to be wearing a white dress looking down in a forlorn manner and sitting on a tombstone. She is partially transparent and the dress is dated in style. The GRS was the first group to really start documenting sightings of the woman in white. She was seen walking among the tombstones, sometimes cradling a baby. The President of GRS was Dale Kaczmarek and he said, "A woman in white, with a baby in her arms, was also reported by local officers, and at first they never repeated the story of their sighting because they thought they'd be laughed at by their friends and colleagues."

The pond behind the cemetery has its own legend as well. In the 1870s, a farmer was plowing a nearby field when something startled his horse. The reins tangled about the farmer and he was dragged by the horse for several feet until the frightened animal ended up in the small pond. The farmer was pulled beneath the surface and drowned as he was unable to free himself. One night in the late 1970s, two Cook County Forest Preserve officers who were patrolling the cemetery claimed to see the apparition of a horse emerge from the pond. The horse had a plow behind it and that plow was being steered by the ghost of an old man. The complete apparition crossed the road in front of the started eyes and then it vanished as it entered the forest. They reported the incident and they have not been the only ones to see it.

Are these four cemeteries harboring more than just the remains of the dead? Do spirits still wander among the tombstones? Are these cemeteries haunted? That is for you to decide!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

HGB Ep. 205 - Old South Pittsburg Hospital

Moment in Oddity - Sandra West Buried in Her Ferrari
Suggested by: Jill Phenix

Forty years ago, a Texas socialite named Sandra West was buried in a very unique way after overdosing on prescription pills. We've visited a cemetery where a man was buried sitting up in his chair and we've shared the story of another man buried sitting on his motorcycle. West had a love of cars. She was the wealthy widow of Texas oil tycoon Ike West, so she had money to splurge on cars. Her favorite was a 1964 powder blue Ferrari. One of her final requests in a will she wrote in 1972 was to be buried sitting in that Ferrari in her lingerie. A grave measuring 19 feet long, 10 feet wide and 9 feet deep was dug at the Alamo Masonic Cemetery. Concrete was poured around the sides, forming a box. On May 19, 1977, around 300 spectators and reporters gathered to witness the burial. A concrete slab was laid over the top to thwart vandals. Being buried in your lingerie in your Ferrari is a tad eccentric and certainly is odd!

This Month in History - First Mint in America Opens

In the month of June, on the 10th, in 1652, Silversmith John Hull opened the first mint in America in the state of Massachusetts. Hull was born in Market Harborough, Leicestershire in England. His family immigrated to Boston Harbor in 1635. The Hull Homestead would become the location of the mint, although records are not clear where exactly on the property it was located. Most historians assume that the silversmith shop was also the mint because records indicate that silver for coining was sent to the shop. Hull was twenty-seven when he began coining and this was in defiance of English colonial law. He designed the first coin himself and named it the Pine Tree Shilling. This act of rebellion led Hull to become the mintmaster of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Hull Street in Boston is named for him.

Old South Pittsburg Hospital (Suggested by listener Christopher Justice)

The Old South Pittsburg Hospital was built in 1959 and is located near South Pittsburg Mountain, in South Pittsburg, Tennessee. This was a hospital for the care of the sick, but there are rumors of mistreatment. It was shut down after it was deemed unworthy of providing the quality and amount of care needed in the region. The dilapidated building has stood abandoned ever since. There is a dark history connected to murders and suicide. And that history seems to have led to hauntings. There are those who claim that this location is one of the most haunted in Tennessee. We are joined by Mellanie Ramsey, founder of Military Veterans Paranormal, to discuss the history and hauntings of the Old South Pittsburg Hospital!

South Pittsburg, Tennessee was named for a city that it envisioned becoming like, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The city in Pennsylvania was a huge iron manufacturing center and South Pittsburg was running towards that goal. The city was originally named Battle Creek Mines when its post office was established in 1869. Before this time, settlers were spread out and disorganized, but after the Civil War, more order was brought to the future townsite. The only event related to the Civil War that took place here was an attack on Fort McCook, which was held by the Union at the time. The area was ravaged by soldiers marching through and taking livestock and property. Battle Creek Mines became the iron production center for the Southern States Coal, Iron and Land Company, a company headed by British investors, in 1873. In 1876, the city's name was officially changed to South Pittsburg. In 1882, the company was purchased by The Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company and four years later, the area was purchased by Nashville banker William Duncan. The town was platted and then incorporated in 1887. The city thrived until Tennessee Coal relocated. The production of concrete and other goods would breathe new life into the city in the early 1900s. Today, South Pittsburg is known as the "Tidiest Town in Tennessee" and has a population of around 3300.

Is Old South Pittsburg Hospital haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:
To find out more about this group and their investigations: