Thursday, December 28, 2017
Moment in Oddity - Kurt Cobain and Layne Staley Die on Same Date
Suggested by: Lindsey Sutton
In the mid 1980s, a musical subculture started in the Northwest that came to be known as Grunge. Two prominent voices arose during that time, Kurt Cobain and Layne Staley. Kurt Cobain was the lead singer of the band Nirvana and Layne Staley was the lead singer of Alice in Chains. The details of Cobain's death are mysterious. Officially, his death was ruled a suicide by shotgun and he had high levels of heroin and diazepam in his system. There are some who believe that his death was staged to look like a suicide and that he actually was murdered. Staley died of what was officially ruled an accidental overdose of cocaine and heroin, known as a speedball. What is odd about both of these men's deaths is the fact that they both died on the exact same day, April 5th, eight years apart. And they both were found days after they died. Cobain was discovered three days after his death by an electrician at his house. Staley was discovered two weeks after his death. Was it just a coincidence that two of the most influential voices in Grunge died on the exact same date? One thing is for sure, it certainly is odd!
This Month in History - First Car Number Plate Issued in England
In the month of December, on the 24th, in 1903, the first car number plate was issued in England. In the beginning of the 1900s, more and more people were becoming owners of cars in Great Britain. With more cars on the road, auto accidents began to increase. The Motor Car Act of 1903 made it compulsory for every motorcar to be registered with a number plate to make it easier to identify cars. Registration began on January 1, 1904. The first car plate number issued was, of course, A1. It was registered to Earl Russell who had camped out all night to ensure that he received the first plate. The registration system has changed four times since then to accommodate all the vehicle registrations through the decades. Numbers were initially made up of a local council identifier code of up to 3 letters, followed by a random number, like ABC 123.
Emlen Physick Estate (Suggested by Becki Fleming)
Cape May in New Jersey is considered to be America's oldest seaside resort and while the word "cape" is part of its name, Cape May is actually an island. Dr. Emlen Physick, Jr. built his home on Cape May at the age of 21 and he spent his entire life there. The estate is gorgeous with a unique "Stick-Style" Victorian architecture style. The doctor clearly loved the home that he shared with three other family members. They all died here and perhaps that is why it is believed that all of their spirits have remained here as well. Join us and Deana Marie of the TwistedPhilly Podcast as we discuss the history and hauntings of the Emlen Physick Estate!
The Kechemeche Indians of the Lenni-Lenape tribe were the first people in the Cape May area. Sir Henry Hudson discovered the island in 1609 and Cornelius Jacobsen Mey explored it in 1621. English colonists settled and built the island into a prosperous fishing and whaling colony. By the mid 1700s, Cape Island, as it was called at the time, became a popular place for vacationing. Visitors were brought in from Philadelphia by sloops, schooners, horse-drawn wagons and stagecoaches. There were no official inns at the time, so guests were housed in residential homes and taverns.
By 1834, there were six boarding houses and people were coming from many east coast big cities. Bigger hotels were built, like the New Atlantic, and by 1852, the Mt. Vernon Hotel was under construction. The plan was to accommodate 3500 guests at the hotel, making it the largest hotel in the world. It was consumed by fire in 1856, before it was completed. The Cottage Era began in the 1860s. This was a time when land was parceled out for Philadelphia families to build summer homes. A devastating fire broke out in 1878 and destroyed 35 acres of the heart of the island. Cape Island was rebuilt in a scaled-down version with architecture following the Gothic, Queen Anne and American bracketed styles. One of the new homes built at that time in 1879 was the Emlen Physick Estate.
The 18-room home was built for Dr. Emlen Physick, Jr. He hired renowned architect Frank Furness to design the home and is thought to be one of the best American examples of the Victorian style of building known as "Stick Style." The style was influenced by Tudor-style construction that featured exposed half-timbering and heavy oak framing. Decorative facades were used in stick-style to emphasize the basic wood frame structure underneath. The Emlen Physick features this style through decorative structural overlay, steeply gabled roofs, extended rafters with brackets to support the overhanging roof, decorative brickwork panels and large brackets that form curved diagonal braces along the porch. The interior features dark, ornately carved wood, Victorian wallpaper and a broad staircase.
Dr. Physick lived with his widowed mother, Mrs. Frances Ralston, and his Aunts Emilie and Isabelle, at the mansion. He never married. The Physick family's roots ran deep in Philadelphia and his grandfather was Dr. Philip Syng Physick, whom is referred to as the father of American surgery. He was also the inventor of the stomach pump in 1812. Dr. Emlen Physick studied medicine to carry on in the family tradition, but he actually never practiced. He enjoyed being a country gentleman and loved his dogs. His mother would not allow the dogs in the house, but her sister Aunt Emilie would sneak the dogs in whenever Mrs. Ralston was away.
Dr. Emlen Physick was 58 when he died on March 21, 1916. His Aunt Emilie was the last family member left and she stayed in the house until her death in 1935. The house was willed by Emilie to the neighbor who took care of her, Frances Brooks. Drs. Harry and Marian Sidney Newcomer purchased the house around 1946 from Frances Brooks. Marian died in 1949 and her husband remarried and stayed in the house until his new wife could no longer bear the haunting activity going on in the house. They moved to an apartment and sold the house to Cape May Inns, Inc. in 1967. The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC) was formed in 1970 and it saved the estate from demolition and restored it. The city of Cape May eventually purchased the estate and MAC leases it from the city. The organization operates the Victorian historic house as a museum and offers guided tours year-round. The entire estate covers four-acres and features not only the main house, but a Carriage House, the Carroll Gallery, a museum shop, the Carriage House Cafe & Tearoom and Hill House.
The mansion is thought to be the most haunted location on Cape May. There are claims that Dr. Physick, his mother, his aunts and his dogs all haunt their former home. The paranormal hot spot in the house is Mrs. Ralston's room on the second floor. She died an agonizingly slow death in there from cancer in 1915. The bed there belonged to her. Dr. Newcomer would tell his friends that even though he was a man of science, he believed there were ghosts in the home. He heard footsteps and noises that he could not explain. Cleaning crews would complain about noises and disturbing events that had many of them leaving the house and not returning. Isabelle had been sickly and in a wheelchair and the family is said to have hid her away from the public for this reason. She died in 1883 in the house and it is believed that feelings of sadness in the house could be attributed to her. *Fun Fact: Isabelle was so hidden, that the house tours used to not even mention her.*
Craig McManus is a psychic who leads ghost tours and seances in the home and he has interacted with all of the family spirits and claims that other spirits show up on occasion as well. Craig's first visit to the house was not by his choice. A friend who loved history dragged him along and he says of that, "I am so glad I listened to Kathy! My experiences with the old house, from that day onward, have been some of the best paranormal times of my career." Craig claims that there is also a spirit in the carriage house that might have been Dr. Physick’s driver. Dr. Physick had the first automobile in Cape May. Guests claim to be touched during ghost tours and many have seen the apparition of a woman in vintage clothing wandering around the house.
The author of The Blog on the Borderland website attended a seance at the estate and wrote, "At some point, in the midst of all this, a woman to my left asked, 'Did anyone hear that sigh?'...I realized that I had indeed been hearing a sigh for some period of time—a beat, a few seconds, a moment—but it took a bit longer for my brain to catch up to what was happening. And then I thought, 'Yes, I did hear that sigh. I have been hearing it.' (but for how long?) And it wasn’t just any sigh, either. It hung in the air, just off my left shoulder. It was not a typical, weary sigh, not an exasperated or wistful sigh, but a long, breathy, drawn out sound. Sort of like wind, or the opening of an air lock. Or like the spooky respiration of some unnamed person on the other end of the phone line. It had a physical quality that pricked my skin. It seemed to occupy both a space in the room and some other void. I looked around and try to figure out if anyone around me could be doing all that sighing, but I couldn’t tell for sure. Then, the sound moved. It migrated up and to the rear, and I heard it just behind and above my head, near the door. And there was definitely no one standing back there."
Many people claim to have had experiences at this historic home. Have they really experienced something or is it just the power of suggestion? Has the psychic Craig McManus actually made contact with the former residents of the home in their spirit forms? Is the Emlen Physick Estate haunted? That is for you to decide!
Thursday, December 21, 2017
Moment in Oddity - Brazilian Treehopper
There are around 3200 species of the treehopper insect. One of these is the Brazilian Treehopper, which seems to be a part of the Addams Family branch of the insect family. This is an insect that leads a solitary life in treetops, feeding off the sap in leaf stems. Pretty normal bug stuff, until you see the thing. The Brazilian Treehopper has an odd antenna-like appendage that sticks up out of its body and this antenna has four round appendages coming off of that. Each of those have little hairs covering them. They look almost like four eyes looking off in different directions. There is also a long spike shaped piece that comes off the rear of this attachment. Scientists are unsure if they actually have a purpose, such as to scare off predators, or if they are meant to be ornamental. Now you know you want to go Google an image, so do it. We think you will agree that the Brazilian Treehopper, certainly is odd!
This Month in History - Silver Bridge Collapses in Point Pleasant
In the month of December, on the 5th, in 1967, the Silver Bridge that spanned the Ohio River in Point Pleasant, West Virginia collapses. The Silver Bridge was an eyebar-chain suspension bridge that was built in 1928. The bridge got its name from the silver paint that was painted on its aluminum frame. Just before sundown on that cold December 5th day, commuters were making their way home from work either driving back across into Ohio or West Virginia. An eyebar that helped suspend the bridge fractured, and the 1800 foot structure fell into the river. Forty-six people lost their lives and nine others were seriously hurt. One of the survivors was Charlene Wood, who was pregnant at the time and driving a 1967 Pontiac. She said of the event, “As I was approaching the bridge, the light changed. When it went to green, I started over the bridge and there was a terrible shaking of the bridge. My father was a riverboat captain and had talked about barges hitting the bridge and the pier, so when I heard that, I automatically put my car in reverse.” Her car stalled, and she continued, “by the time I got my car stopped, mine was on the very edge where it broke off.” Many people believe the legendary Mothman either caused the tragedy or brought a warning that it was going to happen when he is rumored to have appeared before the bridge collapsed.
Gettysburg College (Suggested by listener Kaydi Bigelow)
Gettysburg is a town in Pennsylvania that is well known for its haunts. The place is steeped in history from the bloody Battle of Gettysburg to one of the most well known Presidential speeches of all time, the Gettysburg Address given by President Abraham Lincoln. So it only makes sense that spirits would be alive and well here. One location that is overshadowed by the Gettysburg Battlefield, but which seems to be just as haunted, is Gettysburg College. The college was founded before the Civil War in 1832. Fighting forces would cross the campus and several buildings would become field hospitals during the Battle of Gettysburg. Listener and Executive Producer Kaydi Bigelow suggested this location and she shares with us her experience of growing up in Gettysburg and attending Gettysburg College, along with the stories of the many spirits that still seem to be hanging around the campus in the afterlife.
Anti-slavery theologian Samuel Simon Schmucker founded Pennsylvania College in 1832. In 1837, the college moved into Pennsylvania Hall. This hall was built on land donated by abolitionist Congressman Thaddeus Stevens. Stevens was a lawyer for many years in Gettysburg before getting involved in politics. He eventually became the largest landowner in Gettysburg. He was fiercely against slavery and after the Civil War, he made it his goal to get African-Americans their Civil Rights during Reconstruction. He obtained this goal when he authored the 14th Amendment, which guaranteed full civil rights to citizens of all states. It is only fitting that the most important battle of the Civil War would be fought in Gettysburg and it was a great Union victory.
The college expanded and grew over the years after the war. In 1921, Pennsylvania College became Gettysburg College. The campus now stretches over 225 acres and sits adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park. There are over 90 buildings on the main campus. Pennsylvania Hall still stands and serves as the Administration Building. There is the College Union Building, Eddie Plank Gym, Masters Hall, Briedenbaugh Hall, Musselman Library, Weidensall Hall, McKnight Hall, Glatfelter Hall, Schmucker Hall, Brua Hall and various dorms and fraternities. The Quad is located outside of the library and is nicknamed "Stine Lake." There is no lake here, but several decades ago, a large muddy pond would form in this area due to bad drainage. That issue had been taken care of, but the nickname has remained.
Kaydi shared many tales of haunting experiences people have had throughout the years at the college. Are these students and faculty just imagining these occurrences? Is Gettysburg College haunted? That is for you to decide!
Thursday, December 14, 2017
Moment in Oddity - Foxfire
Anyone who has walked through a wet, deep forest has more than likely noticed that mushrooms have an affinity for growing on rotting wood. In some forests these mushrooms give off an eerie bioluminescent glow that has been nicknamed "fairy fire." The more formal name is Foxfire, but the fox part is not representative of the animal. The term refers to the French word fols, which means "false." So basically the name means false fire. It is believed that the bluish-green glow of the mushrooms is from luciferase, which is an oxidative enzyme. The glowing attracts insects to spread spores and keeps animals from eating it. Documentation of this glowing oddity dates back to Aristotle in 382 B.C. Foxfire is mostly found in the tropics and just last year, a new variety was discovered at Ribeira Valley Tourist State Park near Sao Paulo, Brazil. Foxfire makes fungus beautiful, but it certainly is odd!
This Month in History - First Permanent Artificial Heart Implanted
In the month of December, on the 2nd, in 1982, the first permanent artificial heart was implanted in 61-year-old Barney C. Clark by Dr. William De Vries at the University of Utah Medical Center in Salt Lake City. Clark was a Seattle dentist who was suffering congestive heart failure at the age of 61. His illness was so severe that he was not a candidate for a heart transplant. The FDA had just approved an artificial heart for human implantation. The device was named the Jarvik 7 after Dr. Robert Jarvik who was one of its key developers. The Jarvik 7 employed a heart-shaped pump that had an external pneumatic compressor that connected to the pump by tubes running through the chest wall and this regulated blood flow. The threat of infection was high though. Clark knew that he would probably not live long, but he wanted to further science. He managed to live for 112 days with the artificial heart, but it was an awful time for him. He suffered mutliple infections and strokes and begged to be allowed to die. He finally did die on March 23, 1983.
Haunted Cemeteries 7
The final resting places we are covering in this haunted cemeteries episode are all very different with one thing in common, they are all haunted. The Waldheim Cemetery is a large conglomeration of several cemeteries within one cemetery that was set aside for the Jewish dead of Chicago. The famous specter here is a hitchhiking ghost. La Recoleta Cemetery is a graveyard that Denise has visited in Buenos Aires, Argentina and she was amazed by the beauty of the architecture of the over 4,000 above-ground crypts found here. Old Gray Cemetery is a historic cemetery located in Knoxville, reputedly home to another Black Aggie. And Stull Cemetery illicits chills from just the mention of the name because people who know the legend here knows that it involves portals to Hell and visits from the Devil. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of these four cemeteries.
Waldheim Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois
Forest Park is a village and suburb of Chicago. The village was originally part of the larger city Harlem. It was incorporated in 1907. The history of Forest Park is of great interest to taphophiles because it was once considered a city of the dead because there were so many cemeteries here at one time that there were more dead residents than living one. One of those dead residents is nearly as famous as her counterpart Resurrection Mary. This hitchhiking ghost has the nickname Melodie Millie having been named after the nearby Melody Mill. The cemetery that she asks to be dropped off at is named Waldheim Cemetery.
Waldheim Cemetery is a Jewish Cemetery that was established in Forest Park in 1870. The cemetery was divided into 288 separate sections with each one representing a family group or a synagogue or an organization. Each of these sections had their own prices, rules, regulations and individual caretakers. Most of the ornate entrances and dividing fences still exist today. There are reportedly 300 gates. The first Jewish interment was held in 1873. In those earlier days, a funeral procession would take quite some time to make its way to the cemetery. This all changed in 1914 when the Metropolitan Elevated L Tracks began a special funeral route train. That route ran until July 13, 1934. Immigrant based Jewish organizations kept up the care of the cemetery, but over the decades, these organizations faded away and before long, Waldheim began to look neglected. Today, it has recovered with new efforts by the Waldheim Cemetery Company to upkeep the beautiful historic cemetery. There are estimated to be around 150,000 Jewish burials in the cemetery.
There are a couple of famous burials here. The first is Clara Peller. That name might not ring a bell until you hear that she was the little old lady made famous as the Wendy's spokesperson who asked, "Where's the beef?" She was plucked from obscurity to star in the commercials and it was a boon for Wendy's. She was born in 1902 and worked as a manicurist until she retired. And that was when Wendy's came calling. She actually was fired from her spokesperson job after doing a commercial for a spaghetti sauce. She passed away in 1987. Another famous burial belongs to Michael Todd who was a motion picture innovator and producer in the 1950s. He's probably most famous for being married at one time to Elizabeth Taylor. He died in 1958. Albert Weinshenker is buried here as well. He was a gangster who worked for Bugs Moran and he was one of the victims in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.
Melody Mill was known to the locals simply as "The Mill." The Mill was a dance hall that opened in the 1930s and hosted young people until it closed in 1984. The young woman who haunts the road from The Mill to Waldheim Cemetery is unknown, but her legend predates that of Resurrection Mary. That legend first began in 1933 and rose to prominence in 1938 when a bandleader named Tiny Hill told the story on a WGN radio show. He had been performing at The Mill and heard the story there. Apparently, a young woman had been dancing with three young men who all offered her a ride home. She accepted and they got in the car that was one of the young men's and they drove towards Waldheim Cemetery. She asked them to stop the car right outside of the cemetery. She got out and headed into the cemetery. Two of the men followed after her, maybe because they feared for her safety or perhaps they had ill intentions. Either way, those two men were found the next day in the cemetery, alive but driven insane by whatever they saw in the cemetery. Their driver friend who had remained with the vehicle was dead at the wheel. The story continues that a purse was left in the car and the police found an address inside. They took the purse to the home and were shocked when the woman living there told them the purse belonged to her daughter...who had died three years earlier. Even though there has to be a name connected to this legend, it has been lost to time.
La Recoleta Cemetery
There are many diverse burials at La Recoleta Cemetery and many are very ornately decorated. A few have fallen into disrepair revealing the brickwork beneath the marble. Different architectural styles found here are Baroque, Neo-Gothic, Art Deco and Art Nouveau. It was after the Argentinian War for Independence that a plan was put forward to create a cemetery worthy of the wealthy elites living in Buenos Aires. The location that was chosen had been a former monastery to the Order of the Recoletos. This order was part of the Franciscan Order and the Recollect Fathers had established the neighborhood of Recoleta in the 18th century. Their chapel, Our Lady of Pilar, was built in 1732 and still stands. The graveyard opened in 1822 and encompassed 14 acres that was designed by French civil engineer Próspero Catelinand. His design has the cemetery broken into areas similar to city blocks with wide, tree-lined walkways. The entrance features tall Doric columns and neo-classical gates. The cemetery was initially named Cementerio del Norte and was on one of the highest points in the city. The name was later changed to Cementerio de la Recoleta.
There are around 4,000 burials with many important and famous burials that include Argentinian presidents, the founder of the Argentine Navy, Nobel Peace Prize winner Luis Federico Leloir, the illegitimate granddaughter of Napoleón Bonaparte named Isabel Walewaski Colonna and Eva Peron made famous in the play Evita. Eva Peron was born in 1919 as Eva Maria Durate. Her early life was one of poverty and she moved to Buenos Aires as an adult, so she could pursue acting and singing. She met Colonel Juan Peron in 1944 and the two married in 1945. Juan was elected President of Argentina in 1946 and Eva got heavily involved with politics at this time as well. She spoke on behalf of labor rights, women's suffrage, founded and ran the charitable Eva Perón Foundation and founded the Female Peronist Party, the nation's first large-scale female political party. She decided to run for the office of Vice President of Argentina in 1951 and she received wide support. The nation's military and elite opposed her though and when she was diagnosed with cancer, she withdrew her candidacy. The cancer eventually killed her at the age of 33 in 1952 and Eva Perón was given the title of "Spiritual Leader of the Nation" by the Argentine Congress. Her corpse was put on public display for two years, disappeared for 16 years, was shipped to Spain where Juan and his new wife kept it in their dining room on a platform and finally was buried in the Durate family crypt.
There are several spirits who haunt the cemetery. One of these spirits is said to belong to a former grave digger at La Recoleta named David Alleno. He loved the cemetery and all the beautiful architecture of the various tombs. He himself wanted to have a grand final resting place and so he would put all his earnings toward his burial plot. When he had enough, he commissioned and Italian sculpture to make a statue in his likeness. After everything was completed, Alleno committed suicide. It is believed that his spirit roams the cemetery because of the suicide. Visitors claim to hear the jingle of his keys echoing throughout the property.
Another of the ghosts is believed to belong to a woman named Rufina Cambeceres. She was the nineteen year-old girl of a wealthy family living in Buenos Aires in the late 1800s. Rufina had been getting ready for a night out on the town when she died suddenly. She was put in a casket, taken out to the cemetery and put in the family's mausoleum. Cemetery workers were doing a regular patrol of the grounds and when they looked in the Cambeceres Mausoleum, they saw that Rufina's coffin had been moved and the lid was no longer properly set. This made them believe that grave robbers had come to take away the jewelry that Rufina was wearing. They opened the casket and saw that her jewelry was still there. But her body was in a sad state. She was covered in bruises and there were scratch marks all over the inside of the casket. She had actually been alive and just in a coma when she was placed in the coffin. Theories claim that she had suffered from cataplexy brought on by narcolepsy. Cataplexy is a sudden weakening of the muscles caused by the destruction of the neurotransmitter hypocretin. Hypocretin regulates the awake cycle. So poor Rufina was conscience of everything going on around her, but unable to respond. And when she was able to respond, it was after she was already suffocating in the casket. It is for this traumatic reason that people believe she walks the graveyard at night. Some believe she is trying to unearth bodies to make sure no one else has been buried alive. The mausoleum is beautiful and features a stone statue of the young woman leaning upon its door.
Judy wrote of her visit to the cemetery, "For those of you sensitive to different energies, I can tell you that at least a part of this cemetery is haunted. The energy was extremely heavy and very uncomfortable. Some of the spirits aren't friendly. I told my friend and we walked to a different area, & the negativity didn't follow. Unfortunately, I didn't protect myself well enough and woke up the next morning sick. If you're sensitive to energy, take some precautions to protect yourself!"
Old Gray Cemetery (Suggested by Tammie McCarroll-Burroughs)
Old Gray Cemetery is located in Knoxville, Tennessee and it is the second oldest cemetery in the city. The graveyard was incorporated in 1850 and is the final resting place of many prominent people from Tennessee. The architecture here is Victorian in style and thus, this is also a garden cemetery. Victorian angels make up the bulk of the statuary and there are many obelisks as well. The winding avenues spread out over 13 acres. Old Gray is named in honor of Thomas Gray who was an English poet during the 1700s. He wrote the poem, "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard." Mrs. Henrietta Brown Reese, who was the wife of the first president of the cemetery board of trustees, suggested the name Gray. It was called simply Gray Cemetery until a newer cemetery was built in 1892 and then this became Old Gray. Old Gray was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.
The first person buried in the cemetery was William Martin. An exploding cannon fired during a July 4th celebration killed him and he was buried in the northwest corner of Old Gray on July 15, 1851 before the cemetery was completely laid out. The cemetery is the final resting place of over 9000 people. These people include those who died during Knoxville's 1854 cholera outbreak and victims of the 1904 New Market Train Wreck. This wreck involved two Southern Railway passenger trains that collided at high speed near New Market, Tennessee. This occurred on Saturday, September 24, 1904 and killed at least 56 passengers and crew and injured 106 people. The crash was heard as far as fifteen miles away.
Old Gray Cemetery is part of the Civil War Heritage Trail and there are many dead from both sides buried here. The Horne monument has a life-sized sculpture of a Confederate soldier and marks the graves of two Confederate veterans, William Asbury Horne, an assistant quartermaster with the 42nd Georgia Infantry, and John Fletcher Horne, who was a sergeant with the Kansas Bottom Tennessee Artillery. One of the more well known Tennesseans buried here is William Rule who was an American newspaper editor and politician. He founded the Knoxville Journal, which was published from 1870 until 1991. Rule served as mayor of Knoxville twice and published the city's first comprehensive history. Eldad Cicero Camp, Jr. was an American coal tycoon, attorney and philanthropist, who lived in Knoxville in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was president of the Coal Creek Coal Company and was one of the wealthiest men in East Tennessee. Charles McClung was an American pioneer and surveyor who platted out Knoxville. "Lizzie" Crozier French was an American educator, women's suffragist and social reform activist who was one of the leaders for the push for women's rights in Tennessee in the early 1900s, and helped the state become the 36th state to certify the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
One of the spirits at Old Gray is believed to belong to Herb Evers, who was a cowboy that died in Knoxville's first and only duel on Market Square. Apparently, the duel was over a fight between Evers and his neighbor. The neighbor was having relations with one of Evers' sheep and he was angry. Since he lost the duel, he is even angrier and so his spirit roams the cemetery looking to settle the score. East Tennessee Paranormal Society member Eric Huckabee claims to have captured a picture of Evers using a Sony Mavica digital camera. He said, "I snapped the photo and ran like hell back to the safety of the nearest street lamp."
Another supernatural being that roams the cemetery is a dark shadowy figure known as the "Black Aggie." This is not the same spirit as the one we covered on an earlier episode. This mysterious shadow weaves between the tombstones at night and it seems residual as it rarely interacts with people who see it in the cemetery. Still others claim that Black Aggie is an aggressive spirit and has chased after them.
Stull, Kansas was founded in 1856 and originally called Deer Creek. German and Pennsylvania Dutch were the first settlers here and they erected the Evangelical Emmanuel Church on land donated by Jacob Hildenbrand. He later donated land to be used as a cemetery. Sylvester Stull ran the post office when it was opened in April of 1899 and residents started referring to their town as Stull. The name stuck and even when the post office closed in 1903, the town continued to be called Stull. Stull was never big and the population never exceeded fifty residents. In the early 20th century, many businesses tried to start in the town, but eventually people just moved away and today the church and its cemetery, known as Stull Cemetery, are abandoned. There are still a few homes here and around twenty residents.
Legends abound about the tiny church and abandoned cemetery. Stories incorporate witchcraft, Satanic rituals, haunting experiences and the infamous "Seven Gateways to Hell." A haunting wind is a popular legend. One story claims two young men were visiting Stull Cemetery one night and became frightened when a strong wind began blowing out of nowhere. They ran to their car and found that it had been moved and turned around. Another man claimed to experience the same wind inside of the abandoned church. He said it felt sinister and knocked him to the ground. The wind then held him down.
The student newspaper at the University of Kansas is believed to have started many of the legends. In the November 1974 issue of the University Daily Kansan, an article claimed that the Devil himself appeared in Stull twice a year: once on Halloween, and once on the spring equinox. Following this story, rumors started circulating that there were seven gates to Hell within the graveyard. Students have made it a rite of passage to visit on Halloween and the Spring Equinox to see the Devil. They have done a lot of damage and now the police arrest anyone trespassing. *Fun Fact: The season 5 finale of Supernatural is set in Stull cemetery and the creator of the series, Eric Kripke, claims he had made Lawrence, Kansas the hometown of Sam and Dean Winchester because of the city's closeness to Stull.
Why would the Devil choose such a small town? Apparently, there was an event in the 1850s when “a stable hand allegedly stabbed the mayor to death in the cemetery’s old stone barn. Years later, the barn was converted into a church, which in turn was gutted by fire. A decaying wooden crucifix that still hangs from one wall is thought to sometimes turn upside-down when passersby step into the building at midnight." But there is more than just that.
An old tombstone near the church bears the name “Wittich” and a tree that used to stand nearby had supposedly been used as a gallows for condemned witches. A grave in the cemetery is said to hold the bones of a “child of Satan”, who was born of the Devil and a witch. The child only lived a few days due to his deformities. People claim its ghost hangs out here, but has grown to the size of a boy that someone claims to have captured a picture of and that he resembles a “werewolf-like boy” peering out from behind a tree.
Each of these cemeteries features at least one haunting tale. As is the case with so many cemeteries, legends abound, most of which have no basis in fact. Are these cemeteries truly haunted? That is for you to decide!
Thursday, December 7, 2017
Moment in Oddity - The Skadegamutc
A Skadegamutc (skuh-deh-guh-mooch), is known as a ghost-witch. In the lore of the Micmac, the Passamaquoddy and Abenaki tribes, the Skadegamutc is an undead monster that is created out of the dead body of an evil magician who refuses to stay dead. This undead creature comes to life at night and lurks about seeking humans to throw curses at and humans to kill and eat. The only way to stop a ghost witch is to burn it by fire. The following story was told by Beulah Tahamont, a sixteen-year-old Abenaki from Lake George, New York: "An old shaman was dead, and his people buried him in a tree, up among the branches, in a grove that they used for a burial-place. Some time after this, in the winter, a Native American and his wife came along, looking for a good place to spend the night. They saw the grove, went in, and built their cooking fire. When their supper was over, the woman, looking up, saw long dark things hanging among the tree branches. 'What are they?' she asked. 'They are only the dead of long ago,' said her husband, 'I want to sleep.' 'I don't like it at all. I think we had better sit up all night,' replied his wife. The man would not listen to her, but went to sleep. Soon the fire went out, and then she began to hear a gnawing sound, like an animal with a bone. She sat still, very much scared, all night long. About dawn she could stand it no longer, and reaching out, tried to wake her husband, but could not. She thought him sound asleep. The gnawing had stopped. When daylight came she went to her husband and found him dead, with his left side gnawed away, and his heart gone. She turned and ran. At last she came to a lodge where there were some people. Here she told her story, but they would not believe it, thinking that she had killed the man herself. They went with her to the place, however. There they found the man, with his heart gone, lying under the burial tree, with the dead 'witch' right overhead. They took the body down and unwrapped it. The mouth and face were covered with fresh blood. The legend of the Skadegamutc certainly is odd!
This Month in History - Lady Nancy Astor Becomes the First Woman in the British House of Commons
In the month of December, on the 1st, in 1919, Lady Nancy Astor became the first woman in the British House of Commons. She was born as Nancy Lanhorne in Virginia. She married her first husband in 1897 at the age of 18. The marriage was an unhappy one due to her husband's alcoholism and she divorced him after four years. She went on a tour of England and fell in love with the country and so she decided to move to England. Nancy was 26 at the time. She met Waldorf Astor there and the two married. They were very similar people and even shared the exact same birth day.including the year. And both were expatriates. Waldorf succeeded to the peerage and became a part of the House of Lords. Nancy became interested in politics at this time and in 1919 she won his former seat in Plymouth as a member of the Conservative Party. She then became the first woman to sit as a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons. She served until 1945, when she was persuaded to step down.
Manresa Castle (Suggested by listener Jen Morgan)
Port Townsend claims to be one of the coolest small towns in America. The city had its heyday during the Victorian era and several of the historic buildings here are Victorian in design. Many of the earlier settlers envisioned the seaport becoming the largest harbor on the west coast. One of the prominent families in Port Townsend were the Eisenbeis and they built their home in 1892 in the style of a castle that is today known as Manresa Castle. This is a hotel, restaurant and lounge that not only provides accommodations for the living, but a couple of ghosts as well. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of Manresa Castle!
In 1791, British Royal Navy Captain George Vancouver led an expedition from England with two ships, the Discovery and Chatham. The plan was to explore the Northwest Coast of North America. By May 1792, Vancouver's expedition had entered the Strait of Juan de Fuca and was exploring the northern side of the Olympic Peninsula. Captain Vancouver made it a practice to name the points that they mapped out on their journey for his friends, patrons and crewmembers. One of the places he named was Port Townsend, which was named for the Marquis of Townshend. The name was originally spelled ending with -shend, but today, the h has been dropped. Before the Europeans arrived, several tribes lived here: the Chimakum (or Chemakum), Hoh (a group of the Quileute), Klallam (or Clallam), Quinault, and Twana (the Kilcid band — Anglicized: Quilcene).
Port Townsend was called the "City of Dreams" because it was considered a safe harbor with the promise of being the largest harbor on the west coast of the United States. It did become a very active seaport. Port Townsend was founded as a city in the 1850s. Four men, Alfred A. Plummer, Loren B. Hastings, Charles Bachelder and Francis W. Pettygrove, met in a cabin that two of them had built on the beach below Point Hudson and they agreed to establish the town together and named it for Port Townsend. Soon thereafter, the town became the site of the U.S. Customs port of entry and the county seat of Jefferson County. Many homes were erected at this time as the population grew and railroads decided to add an extension of rail lines to the seaport. Those plans fell through though when the Depression hit and the rail lines stopped on the east side of the Puget Sound. The decline for Port Townsend was rapid as people moved away.
Other economies developed in the future with the installation of a paper mill and the Naval Magazine Indian Island, which is the US Navy's primary munitions-handling dock on the Pacific coast. More people started moving here in the 1970s and Port Townsend has developed into a tourist destination. They host blues and jazz festivals and in 1999 they launched an annual international film festival. Many people come to the town to see all of the Victorian architecture. Because so much of the town was abandoned and the economy was dying, no one tore down any of the buildings and built over the sites. So in essence, the Victorian buildings were preserved because of a lack of growth. Today, many have been restored as their value is appreciated.
One of these grand structures is the Manresa Castle. The castle was built in 1892 by Charles and Kate Eisenbeis. Charles Eisenbeis was a German emigrant who arrived in Rochester, New York in 1856. He learned baking from his family and worked doing that for a while. The Gold Rush was reaching its peak on the west coast and Charles decided to head west. He boarded a ship that sailed around Cape Horn, heading for Puget Sound. The weather was rough when they arrived at the Sound and the ship decides to dock at Port Townsend. The year is 1858 and this is where Charles decides to stay. His brother was traveling with him and the two men do odd jobs saving up money to open up their own bakery. They called it the Pioneer Bakery and they specialized in making bread for ships. the business was very successful and he became a very prominent man. So prominent that he became a part of the Big Five Syndicate, which was five men that control the entire economy of Port Townsend. When Charles first arrived in Port Townsend, he was married to a woman from Prussia named Elizabeth. She died in 1882 and he remarried a woman named Kate.
Twenty years after arriving in the town, Charles was elected the town's first mayor. He built several properties in Port Townshend: the Mount Baker Block, the Eisenbeis Building, a hotel, a brickyard, lumberyard, a brewery and the Eisenbeis Castle that was his home. The hotel was a grand structure with 120 rooms, but it never opened as the promise of the coming railroad was never realized. It burned down in a fire of mysterious origin. The Eisenbeis Castle was the largest residence in Port Townsend at the time and had 30 rooms. The home was constructed from brick and had a slate roof. The inside was designed and built by German artisans and featured finely crafted woodwork and tiled fireplaces. He didn't get to enjoy his home for long. Charles died in 1902. He was buried in nearby Laurel Grove Cemetery. The whole town turned out to see his burial. His casket is within a subterranean vault and was placed next to the Victorian glass-top coffin of his first wife, Elisabeth.
Kate remarried in 1905 and she abandoned the castle to a caretaker, who was the only one to live there for twenty years. In 1925, a Seattle attorney bought the Castle and turned it over to nuns teaching in Seattle schools to use as a vacation home. The nuns didn't use it much and so Jesuit priests moved in in 1927 and used it as a training college. The priests spent their sixteenth and final year of training here studying ascetic theology. The Jesuits added a large wing housing a chapel and more rooms in 1928 and installed an Otis elevator. The outer bricks were stuccoed over to give the building a uniform look and they called the building Manresa Hall, after a town in Spain where Ignatius Loyola had founded the Jesuit order.
The Jesuits left in 1968 and the building became a hotel with the new name changing to Manresa Castle taking inspiration from the original home and the name the Jesuits used. Three other owners have held the building since 1968. Each has done renovations and brought the hotel up to modern standards. The Victorian elegance has been kept though. Some of those modern amenities include more bathrooms. There were only three during the Jesuits time and there are now 43. The Castle Key Seafood Restaurant has been added and offers the best in Northwest recipes and is open Tuesday to Sunday. There is a banquet room, several suites and romantic gardens making it the perfect setting for weddings. Another unique feature of Manresa Castle is, of course, the ghosts.
There seem to be three rooms that are haunted and they are all on the third floor. Rooms 302, 304 & 306 are reported to be home to two ghosts. One is a young lady thought to be named Kate, who is waiting for her beloved to come back to her after fighting in a war. He was killed in the war, so he could not come back to her and when she heard about that, she threw herself out the window. The other ghost belongs to a Jesuit monk who hung himself in the attic. Haunting events feature footsteps walking across the attic when no one is up there, drinking glasses in the chapel/cafe explode both when just sitting on the bar and also in people's hands and empty glasses are turned upside-down on their own. People claim to see writing on the mirrors with messages like, "Get out." And the full-bodied apparition of the female ghost has been seen many times. There are room journals where guests record their experiences.
One of the entries in the journal related, "At midnight, we heard singing coming from the bathroom. It was a woman's voice singing a ghostly tune. Well, needless to say, we all woke up. If we had known she was coming at midnight, we would have stayed up and waited on her. I got up to go to the bathroom and see who was in there and then the door eerily came open. There was a swish of cold air and a glowing light and then all the lights came on. After that we saw nothing else. We didn't get much sleep the rest of the night."
One family shared the following experience that they had, "The next morning James, 13, went down to use the restroom down the hall (Room 303 bathroom) and came back concerned that he heard a woman crying mournfully in the 305 bathroom, but the lights were out in that room. He brought his dad down the hall to show him and he heard it also. I, Lori, then went down there, but by the time I got there, she was no longer crying. I did; however, hear movement coming from inside the room. When I knocked on the door and asked if someone needed help, the response was two knocks back from whoever was in there. At that point we decided to call the front desk to tell them what was going on. They sent up four maids to check the situation out. When they opened the door it was dark inside and no one was in there. But the maid commented that 'someone had sure been into the Kleenex.' It had been strewn about. [The door was never left unattended the whole time of our experience.]"
Another family wrote, "Finally around 11:30pm, we started hearing things! Earlier we were looking forward to hearing things, but when we actually did hear things, we were huddled with the blankets to our noses! There wasn't really anything in the room. It was in the hallway! Definite dragging and walking sounds. They would stop right at the door. It was so scary. Then scratching and scraping sounds at the door. It was like someone was right on the other side and would open or come through the door. This all went on for about an hour and a half!"
Ghost Adventures visited the hotel during their eleventh season. Jody Reuther is the Front Desk Manager and she claims to have been a nonbeliever when she first started working there, but she has had enough experiences that she believes there are ghosts there. One day she was making up the bed in Room 310 with a housekeeper and she noticed that the maid went white looking at something behind Jody. Jody spun around and saw a woman pass the door to the room and Jody ran out to the hallway to confront her because nobody should have been in the hotel. She saw that the woman was wearing period clothing and then see noticed she could see the fire escape through the woman. And then she disappeared. The Breakfast Room has many strange occurrences and one of these was a door opening on its own while Zac interviewed Jody about the building. Mardella is a housekeeper who had a violent experience in the laundry room. She was left with a small handprint bruise on her leg, but she did not feel anything touch her. When she told the ghost out loud that she wanted to be left alone, something unseen punched her very hard in the face.
There seems to be unexplained activity in this hotel. While there are claims that there are only two ghosts, is it possible that there might be more? And are these ghosts or just the products of overactive imaginations? Is Manresa Castle haunted? That is for you to decide!