Friday, November 24, 2017

HGB Ep. 233 - Haunted Cemeteries 6

Moment in Oddity - The Acheri

The Acheri are a part of the mythology of the country of India. The Acheri is able to entice people because this is a spirit or ghost that appears in the form of a little girl. They are said to live in the mountains and for this reason they are sometimes referred to as "Hill Faeries." They wander into villages at night and when they come, they bring sickness with them. Generally, the Acheri preys on children. The interesting part of their appearance is that descriptions of them resemble those of black-eyed children because the Acheri has dark eyes that appear unnatural. The Acheri will also attack the elderly and for them, the sickness brought is certain death because they have weak immune systems. The only protection that is offered, is forpeople to wear a red ribbon tied around their neck. For some reason, this repells the Acheri. This is just a piece of legend from India, but it certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Queen Elizabeth Marries Prince Philip

In the month of November, on the 20th, in 1947, England's Princess Elizabeth married Philip Mountbatten. Elizabeth was the first child of King George VI and became Queen Elizabeth II upon the death of her father in 1952 And Philip was Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark. The couple originally met in 1934 at the wedding of Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark and Prince George, Duke of Kent. When they met again later in 1939,Elizabeth was only 13-years-old, but she fell madly in love with Philip and they began exchanging letters. Elizabeth's father did not want her engaged before she was 21, so the couple had to keep their engagement a secret for a year. The wedding took place at Westminster Abbey. The couple had four children. This year, 2017, marks their Platinum Anniversary, meaning they have been married for 70 years.

Haunted Cemeteries 6

Most cemeteries are peaceful final resting places, but occasionally these graveyards have spirits at unrest for a variety of reasons. On this episode, we have three cemeteries that we will be visiting. Paranormal investigator Peter Dowling joins us to discuss Woodlawn Cemetery in Sandy Creek, New York. Then we venture to Ohio and visit Chestnut Grove Cemetery that is the final resting place of the victims of one of the most horrific train wrecks in the history of the United States. And finally we head to one of the most haunted cemeteries in America and that is, yet another cemetery named Greenwood, in Decatur, Illinois. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of these graveyards.

Woodlawn Cemetery in Sandy Creek
 (Suggested by: Peter Dowling)

Peter Dowling has been into the paranormal since he was a kid. He joined Eastern Shore Paranormal Research back in 2001 and worked his way to Preisdent, which he held until 2013. In 2003, he earned a Certificate by Psychic Circle as a Paranormal Investigator in Sandy Creek, NY. He has made appearances on Coast to Coast both with Art Bell and George Nory. He contacted us to suggest some haunted locations he has investigated, and one of those was Woodlawn Cemetery in Sandy Creek, New York. The town of Sandy Creek was first settled in 1803. It became official in 1825 as it was incorporated out of the town of Richland. In 1820, the Woodlawn Cemetery was established as a burial ground for the Presbyterian Church. There are over 5,000 burials here. In 1866, Union Cemetery Association was formed to maintain the cemetery. Around the turn of the 20th century more land was added and again in 1965 a small tract was purchased.

One of the burials here is for Harrison Cole who was born in 1840. He was the leader of the 3rd Brigade Band during the Civil War. Several members of that Army band were killed at Gettysburg and Cole narrowly escaped capture by the Confederates. In 1880, he put together his own band and named it Cole’s Cornet band. He died in 1916.

A. Jasper Moore was born in 1868 and died in 1906. He has an interesting epithet that reads, "When the fitful fever is ended; and the foolish wrangling of the market and forum is closed; grass heals over the scar which our descent into bosom of the earth has made; and the carpet of the infant becomes the blanket of the dead."

Dr. J. Lyman Bulkley was born in 1832. He was not only the local doctor, but he owned the Bulkley Opera House and the Corner Drug Store. In 1894, he was shot and stabbed by an inmate of an insane asylum. He managed to live and the inmate, Gaylord Williams, shot and killed himself.

The Salisbury family were prominent members of the community and several are buried here. Members of the family have served in several wars starting during the Civil War and on through World War II. Moreau Salisbury is one of those members and he served during the Civil War. He was wounded at the Battle of Antietam. A bullet went through his ankle and left him with a painful limp for the rest of his life. His boots that he wore during the war are at Sandy Creek's History Center archives. Charles M. Salisbury was Vice President of the Lacona Bank in the 1930s. In 1936, he was killed in a bank hold up.The men who committed the crime were convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Peter shared with us the experiences and evidence collected at the cemetery. He told us, "Woodlawn Cemetery in Sandy Creek is very haunted. Always got EVP's, strange mists, apparitions, floating faces and red orbs visible at times with the naked eye. There is intelligent haunting going on there. EMF readings are off the chart. You go through a lot of batteries during a investigation. I have brought many there who wanted to know what it was like to be a Paranormal Researcher and be a part of my investigation. Many got there wish to experience a spirit. Like I've always said in the past... " Be careful what you wish for." I have brought a ghost home with me from there. I was getting EVP'S at the house I was living at the time. Bed used to shake at night. I would see floating mists go through rooms in the house. ( I put my hand through one apparition.)  I've been kissed one night and slapped another night. Once in a while I would hear footsteps on the floor at my house and loud banging on the doors and walls of the house. Woodlawn is haunted no doubt and many of my EVP's I had played on Coast to Coast AM came from there."

Chestnut Grove Cemetery
(Suggested by: Rebecca Heffner)

Chestnut Grove Cemetery is located in Ashtabula, Ohio. There are over 5,000 burials here. Ashtabula's name was derived from the Lenape tribe word ashtepihəle, which means "always enough fish to be shared around." These indigenous people were pushed out of the area by the Northwest Indian War that took place after the Revolutionary War. European Americans started settling here in 1803. Ohio was a free state during the Civil War and Ashtabula became a main stop on the Underground Railroad due to its proximity to Lake Erie. The city was officially incorporated in 1891. The city came to be known as a port city and railways were constructed to connect the city to a national network to make importing and exporting easier.

In April of 1868, the Michigan Southern and Northern Indiana Railroad merged with the Lake Shore Railroad to form the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway. A later merger gave this company the entire route from Buffalo to Chicago. A bridge was built over the Ashtabula River by the Lake Shore and Michigan railroad and was the joint creation of Charles Collins, the Engineer, and Amasa Stone, the Chief Architect and Designer. Collins felt that Stone’s bridge design was “too experimental," but he approved it because there was a lot of pressure to get it done. The bridge was never properly inspected. This would come to light on December 29, 1876 when Train No. 5, known as The Pacific Express, was about 1,000 feet from the Ashtabula train station. The bridge gave way beneath the weight of two locomotive cars that were hauling eleven railcars. There were 159 people aboard the train.

The Chicago Tribune ran the following article on December 30, 1876:
"The proportions of the Ashtabula horror are now approximately known. Daylight, which gave an opportunity to find and enumerate the saved, reveals the fact that two out of every three passengers on the fated train are lost. Of the 160 passengers who the maimed conductor reports as having been on board, but fifty-nine can be found or accounted for. The remaining 100, burned to ashes or shapeless lumps of charred flesh, lie under the ruins of the bridge and train.

The disaster was dramatically complete. No element of horror was wanting. First, the crash of the bridge, the agonizing moments of suspense as the seven laden cars plunged down their fearful leap to the icy river-bed; then the fire, which came to devour all that had been left alive by the crash; then the water, which gurgled up from under the broken ice and offered another form of death, and, finally, the biting blast filled with snow, which froze and benumbed those who had escaped water and fire. It was an ideal tragedy.

The scene of the accident was the valley of the creek which, flowing down past the eastern margin of Ashtabula village, passes under the railway three or four hundred yards east of the station. Here for many years after the Lake Shore road was built, there was a long wooden trestle-work, but as the road was improved, this was superseded about ten years ago with an iron Howe truss, built at the Cleveland shops, and resting at either end upon high stone piers, flanked by heavy earthen embankments. The iron structure was a single span of 159 feet, crossed by a double track seventy feet above the water, which at that point is now from three to six feet deep, and covered with eight inches of ice. The descent into the valley on either side is precipitous, and, as the hills and slopes are piled with heavy drifts of snow, there was no little difficulty in reaching the wreck after the disaster became known.

The disaster occurred shortly before eight o'clock. It was the wildest winter night of the year. Three hours behind its time, the Pacific Express, which had left New York the night before, struggled along through the drifts and the blinding storm. The eleven cars were a heavy burden to the two engines, and when the leading locomotive broke through the drifts beyond the ravine, and rolled on across the bridge, the train was moving at less than ten miles an hour. The head lamp threw but a short and dim flash of light in the front, so thick was the air with the driving snow. The train crept across the bridge, the leading engine had reached solid ground beyond, and its driver had just given it steam, when something in the undergearing of the bridge snapped. For an instant, there was a confused crackling of beams and girders, ending with a tremendous crash, as the whole train but the leading engine broke through the framework, and fell in a heap of crushed and splintered ruins at the bottom. Notwithstanding the wind and storm, the crash was heard by people within-doors half a mile away. For a moment there was silence, a stunned sensation among the survivors, who in all stages of mutilation lay piled among the dying and dead. Then arose the cries of the maimed and suffering; the few who remained unhurt hastened to escape from the shattered cars. They crawled out of windows into freezing water waist-deep. Men, women and children, with limbs bruised and broken, pinched between timbers and transfixed by jagged splinters, begged with their last breath for aid that no human power could give.

Five minutes after the train fell, the fire broke out in the cars piled against the abutments at either end. A moment later, flames broke from the smoking-car and first coach piled across each other near the middle of the stream. In less than ten minutes after the catastrophe, every car in the wreck was on fire, and the flames, fed by the dry varnished work and fanned by the icy gale, licked up the ruins as though they had been tinder. Destruction was so swift that mercy was baffled. Men who, in the bewilderment of the shock, sprang out and reached to solid ice, went back after wives and children and found them suffocating and roasting in the flames. The neighboring residents, startled by the crash, were lighted to the scene by the conflagration, which made even their prompt assistance too late. By midnight, the cremation was complete. The storm had subsided, but the wind still blew fiercely, and the cold was more intense. When morning came, all that remained of the Pacific Express was a winrow of car wheels, axles, brake-irons, truck-frames and twisted rails lying in a black pool at the bottom of the gorge. The wood had burned completely away, and the ruins were covered with white ashes. Here and there a mass of charred, smoldering substance sent up a little cloud of sickening vapor, which told that it was human flesh slowly yielding to the corrosion of the fires. On the crest of the western abutment, half buried in the snow, stood the rescued locomotive, all that remained of the fated train. As the bridge fell, its driver had given it a quick head of steam, which tore the drawhead from its tender, and the liberated engine shot forward and buried itself in the snow. The other locomotive, drawn backward by the falling train, tumbled over the pier and fell bottom upward on the express car next behind. The engineer, Folsom, escaped with a broken leg; how, he cannot tell, nor can anyone else imagine.

There is no death-list to report. There can be none until the list of the missing ones who traveled by the Lake Shore Road on Friday is made up. There are no remains that can ever be identified. The three charred, shapeless lumps recovered up to noon to-day are beyond all hope of recognition. Old or young, male or female, black or white, no man can tell. They are alike in the crucible of death. For the rest, there are piles of white ashes in which glisten the crumbling particles of calcined bones; in other places masses of black, charred debris, half under water, which may contain fragments of bodies, but nothing of human semblance. It is thought that there may be a few corpses under the ice, as there were women and children who sprang into the water and sank, but none have been thus far recovered."
Charles Collins was said to be a broken man over the tragedy. He was called to testify before the State Legislature Committee. The Monday before this, he had tendered his resignation to the Board of Directors of the railway company, but they refused to accept it. Days later, Collins was found dead in his bedroom of a gunshot wound to the head. Initially it was thought to be a suicide out of guilt, but later a second bullet was found in the wall and it was ruled a homicide that was never solved. Documents discovered in 2001 and another examination of Collins' skull back up the theory that he was indeed murdered. Amasa Stone committed suicide seven years after Collins death when he started experiencing financial troubles with his foundries. This seemed to compound his guilt over the train disaster. Modern day investigations have theorized that it was not the design that was the problem, but fatigue in the cast-iron lug pieces which were used to anchor the wrought-iron bars of the truss together. Shims of metal were needed to reinforce them because they were poorly made.

Because of the fire from the disaster, it was impossible to identify 25 of the victims and they were buried in a mass grave at Chestnut Grove Cemetery. There is a towering obelisk to mark their final resting spot and it is ringed with flowers. Other victims were buried at the cemetery as well. Charles Collins, ironically, was laid to rest just a few feet from the victims' mass grave. The Chestnut Grove Cemetery is still actively burying people. The grounds are beautiful and well kept.

Stories abound of hauntings connected to the train disaster and the cemetery. Apparitions believed to belong to the victims are seen near the mass grave memorial and stories claim that they make their way to the area of their death near the river on the anniversary of the accident. Not all sightings entail sad ghosts. Some scenes are of children laughing and playing and there have been ghostly picnics. A feature written in the Cleveland Digital City for Halloween of 2002, discusses several legends connected to the Ashtabula Bridge Disaster and Chestnut Grove. Lisa Galloway writes, “Reports of wraiths near here are many… witnesses mention families dressed in period dress — always warm winter clothes — wandering together, often carrying carpetbags and baskets. Screams are heard late at night, many visitors say a charred odor pervades the grounds and near Collins’ crypt a man can be seen weeping bitterly, crying out over and over, 'I’m sorry. I’m so very sorry.'” 

Greenwood Cemetery

The city of Decatur in Illinois is named for Stephen Decatur, a naval hero of the War of 1812. This was the first home of Abraham Lincoln and he argued five cases here in the log building that served as a courthouse at the time. In the southern part of the city, near Decatur Lake, is a burial ground that dates back more than 160 years. Greenwood Cemetery was incorporated in 1857 and is possibly one of the most haunted cemeteries in America. The cemetery has not been well cared for through the years and has at times been overgrown. And even worse, grave robbing was common. The Sangamon River feeds into Lake Decatur and runs right by the cemetery. One year, many years ago, the river swelled and ran into the cemetery. The force of this washed out several graves and carried the coffins away. The bodies were eventually recovered, but it was impossible to identify the remains. It was decided that the only option was to rebury the bodies in a mass grave. We know that handling remains in this way can sometimes result in strange activity and that is the case here. Ghost lights in the area that had been washed out are seen and dark misty and shadowy figures have been seen floating there.

There was a large public mausoleum located in the cemetery that fell into disrepair as the rest of the graveyard became unkempt. Pieces of the building began to fall off and by the 1960s, it was in such bad condition that it was decided to demolish the structure. Family members were asked to claim the remains of their loved ones and relocate them. Anyone that was not claimed was buried in yet another mass grave. In 1967, the mausoleum was torn down and not replaced. Before being destroyed, rumors circulated about paranormal activity inside of the mausoleum. Crying and anguished screams were heard reverberating inside and ghost lights danced about the structure, inside and out. This activity did not stop after the mausoleum was no more. Visitors still claim to hear faint screams and to see strange lights in the area where the mausoleum once stood.

There is a third mass grave here. This one holds the bodies of Confederate soldiers. These men were been transported by train to a POW camp when many of them fell ill with yellow fever. Several of them died and the train was stopped near Greenwood Cemetery, so the bodies could be offloaded. The bodies were then taken to the cemetery and buried in a mass grave. The work was done hastily and as you can probably already guess, not all the soldiers were completely dead and they were buried alive. From that time, apparitions of Confederate soldiers have been seen in the cemetery. One man reported his experience after encountering a soldier at the cemetery. The soldier was standing among the tombstones and gestured for the man to come over to him. The man could see that the uniform was tattered and he had a look of confusion on his face. "Can you help me?" the soldier asked. He continued, "Where am I?" The man stood in shock, unable to speak. The soldier then said, "I just want to go home." He then disappeared.

As if this haunting activity isn't enough, there are two more legends here at Greenwood. These are the legends of the Barrackman Staircase and the Greenwood Bride. The Greenwood Bride is our Lady in White at this location. Her figure has been seen wondering among the headstones and the story is that she is looking for her fiancé who was murdered before their wedding. He apparently was a bootlegger who was killed by a rival bootlegger. No one knows who she is, but people like to say that she drowned herself in the river over her grief. Greenwood Cemetery is like many cemeteries in that it has many rolling hills. The Barrackman family has their final resting place on one of these hills and they had five stairs installed that lead up to the plot. At sunset, on some evenings, a ghostly figure appears at the top of the stairs with her head bowed and she appears to be crying. She disappears as the sun sinks below the horizon.

Do some spirits feel so attached to their human body, that they are unable to leave the body after death? Could that be why some cemeteries seem to be haunted? Are these four cemeteries haunted? That is for you to decide!

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