Thursday, March 29, 2018
Moment in Oddity - The Theft of the Irish Crown Jewels
The Irish Crown Jewels were worn by the Grand Master of the Order of St. Patrick on special occasions. These jewels were comprised of a diamond brooch, five gold collars and the jeweled star of the Order of St.Patrick. This last piece was a large eight-pointed star composed mostly of Brazilian diamonds and there was a trefoil of emeralds at its centre within a ruby cross upon a background of blue enamel. These Irish Crown Jewels were stolen in 1907 despite the fact that the safe in which the jewels were kept had two locks and this safe was in a room that required 7 keys for entry. These seven keys were held by the staff of the Office of Arms, while the two keys that went to the actual safe were held by only the Vicar. One was carried by him constantly, the other was kept in a locked drawer in a desk at his home. On July 6th, the safe was found open and the jewels were gone. Also missing were the Vicar's mother's personal jewels. Many people were suspected of the crime, the first being the jewels' custodian Arthur Vicars. He enjoyed getting drunk and parading around with the jewels. The theft definitely appeared to be an inside job, but the Dublin police were unable to solve the crime. Scotland Yard jumped in to help with the investigation and they failed to pinpoint a suspect either. The thief and the location of the jewels remains a mystery and that, certainly is odd!
This Month in History - Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Opens
In the month of March, on the 24th, in 1955, Tennessee Williams’ play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof opened in New York. Williams had been born in 1911 to an abusive father who tormented him ruthlessly. Williams found refuge in books and he began writing. He proved to be good at writing and at 14, he won a prize in a national writing competition. Three years later, he sold a short story to Weird Tales Magazine. He began writing plays that would win awards, including two Pulitzer Prizes. These plays included "The Glass Menagerie," "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." That play was set in the Mississippi Delta plantation home of Big Daddy Pollitt, a wealthy cotton tycoon. The play focuses on the relationships of Big Daddy's family, primarily between his son Brick and Brick's wife Maggie who is the "Cat." The original Broadway production opened at the Morosco Theater on March 24, 1955. It was directed by Elia Kazan and starred Barbara Bel Geddes as Maggie, Ben Gazzara as Brick, Burl Ives as Big Daddy, Mildred Dunnock as Big Mama, Pat Hingle as Gooper, and Madeleine Sherwood as Mae. The play would win Williams his second Pulitzer Prize. He continued writing until his death in 1983, when he choked on a medicine-bottle cap.
Fort Leavenworth (Suggested by and research help from listener Breanne Sanford)
Fort Leavenworth is the oldest permanent settlement in Kansas and is the oldest active United States Army post west of Washington, D.C. The fort not only has a history as a place of protection for settlers traveling along Santa Fe Trail, but it also is where the Buffalo Soldiers came together during the Civil War. Today, Leavenworth is known as a maximum security prison for the Department of Defense. The fort is also known as one of the most haunted locations in Kansas. Several of the properties have unexplained activity. Join us and our listeners Breanne and Collin Sanford as we explore the history and hauntings of Fort Leavenworth.
Colonel Henry Leavenworth was given the order to find land suitable for a permanent camp to protect the oncoming white settlers and pioneers traveling the brand-new Santa Fe Trail from Indian Attacks in the fledging and mostly un-charted Kansas Territory. He brought four companies from the Third Infantry, women, children and supplies with him. He found a more ideal place than they had originally planned along the Little Platte River, twenty miles from the original site due to the prior areas flooding issues. Leavenworth and his entourage reached the site of the future fort on May 18, 1827 and they set about establishing the cantonment. One of the first officers to call Fort Leavenworth home was Major John Doherty, whose son would be the first white male child born in Kansas. The quarters for the enlisted men consisted of four one-story brick buildings, with kitchens in the basement and a hospital built in 1828. Due to a horrific malaria outbreak in 1829, the cantonment was temporarily abandoned, but life returned to normal soon after the outbreak was quelled.
Colonel Leavenworth eventually died in Indian Territory in July 21, 1834, due to an infection he received from falling from his horse while chasing down a buffalo calf. One of the main reasons why the Fort was established was to protect settlers and travelers from the wild Plains Indians in the region. The Kaw Indians, who lived along the Kansas River and the Osage Indians who lived to the south both agreed to relocate to reservations. The Pawnee and Oto tribes were basically forced to give up all of their land north of the Platte and Kansas rivers to the government. This allowed eastern tribes to move into the vacant land. More aggressive tribes like the Delaware, Kickapoo, Shawnee and Sac-Fox moved in and were followed by the Wyandott and Potawatomie tribes. In 1833, the army raised a regiment of Mounted Rangers from the surrounding areas. Basically, just farmers on their own horses that lacked any experience, they were called the Dragoons and became the first Mounted Calvary regiment of its kind. Under the command of Colonel Henry Dodge and Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Watts-Kearney, the Dragoons along with the Missouri Volunteers set out for New Mexico in 1846 to play their part in the Mexican War.
After the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, Fort Leavenworth served as the first territorial capital of Kansas. During the Plains Indian Wars, a suspended and court-marshalled General George Armstrong Custer and his wife Libbie stayed at the fort with General Sheridan in the posts oldest home, one of the most historic buildings in the Fort that still remains. One interesting fact- when Kansas was admitted to the Union in January of 1861, the federal government failed to make sure the title for the fort and grounds remained in their possession. The Kansas State Legislature amended the issue in 1875 and ceded the land back to the United States. In 1866, General Ulysses S. Grant oversaw the organization of two mounted Calvary groups made up of black troops. Unheard of at this time, they would be called the Buffalo Soldiers. In May of 1872, Congress began plans to move a US Military prison to Fort Leavenworth. Operations in the prison began in 1875. It remains the only maximum-security correctional facility within the Department of Defense and is the oldest penal institution in operation.
The town of Leavenworth itself was the first city incorporated in the Kansas Territory. Founded in 1854, it was located just south of the Fort. Within the first year, the growing town would boast about 1200 townspeople. Now the city’s population swells to over 39,000. By the time the Civil war began, Leavenworth was the largest city on the Missouri River. By 1855, Leavenworth would become the starting points for Salt Lake and California traders. The Kansas Stage Company would make Leavenworth its home, employing more than 500 wagons, 7,500 head of cattle and nearly 1,800 men. In 1865, Fred Harvey of Harvey House fame moved his family to Leavenworth seeking to find his fortune in the new fledgling West. After working his way through the ranks, Harvey cajoled the manager of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad to let him create restaurants inside his railway stations. After that, Harvey Restaurants and Hotels, along with their famous Harvey Girls, became a household name across the country. Now the town is home to the Parker Carousel Museum, the Carroll Mansion, the Fred Harvey Museum, a Black History Museum, a Frontier Army Museum and much more. They have walking and driving tours that give great detail to the people and events that created the city. There is also a ghost tour held by Ghost Tours of Kansas that looks to stop at many of the hotspots.
Fort Leavenworth has several hauntings going on in the various buildings that make up the property.
One of the more famous apparitions at the Fort is that of General George Armstrong Custer. It is said that his apparition patrols the National Cemetery and kneels at various graves as if to offer prayer to those who he may have wronged in life. The General’s Residence, located at 1 Scott Avenue is reportedly haunted by Custer. They say his spirit roams the first floor of the residence. Some say that his restless spirit still remains due to the fact that he was court-martialed here at the Fort and basically disgraced.
The ghost of Father Fred is well known. The original Saint Ignatius Chapel was built in the 1870s on the grounds of what is now 632 Thomas Avenue. The original church and adjacent home burned in 1875. A young priest was killed in the fire and the material that could be salvaged from the building was used to build the house that still stands there today. Legend tells that the very first residents of the home were privy to Father Fred’s apparition. They reportedly witnessed a hooded figure move up the stairs, unmindful of the tenants. Some later residents reported that he “joined” them for dinner occasionally, walked up and down the stairs from the attic or appeared in the kitchen. Father Fred reportedly “visits” nearby houses, especially if there is a party going on. [According to the book, Haunted Kansas] A picture of a robed figure was taken at one such party in 1973. The figure stood behind the subject of the photo and could not be explained. He has also been known to mend his clothes. In 1978, a Lieutenant Colonel and his wife lived next to Father Fred’s home. One day, the wife noticed the clickety clack of a sewing machine coming from next door. It struck her as odd, as the neighbors were supposed to be out that day. When she told her neighbor of the strange sounds, she seemed unconcerned and reported that the sounds happen all the time, that it was simply Father Fred “trying to sew his priestly garb”.
The Ghost of Catharine Sutter is reportedly a figure of a woman sometimes seen in the autumn, carrying a lantern, calling out the names Ethan and Mary. Legend has it that Hiram and Catharine Sutter and their children, Ethan and Mary, came to Fort Leavenworth to visit relatives on their way to Oregon Territory in 1880. Right after they arrived, the children, who were sent to gather firewood, came up missing. The parents and others began to search for them. They searched the area for three days and three nights before admitting defeat. Catharine would not give up her search and wandered the post by lantern, calling for her children. Unwilling to leave the area, Hiram and Catharine remained at the fort that winter. Due to her late-night searches in the harsh, wintry landscape, Catharine came down with pneumonia and died. Some say she actually died of a broken heart. Hiram returned to Indiana the following spring. Later, word was sent to him that the children were indeed alive. They had fallen into the river and drifted downstream where the Fox Indians had found them and took them along when they made their winter migration. Hiram returned to Fort Leavenworth and collected his children, but his wife’s apparition is still said to be looking for them, heartbroken and alone on the Kansas prairie.
There is a Lady in Black here. [According to Haunted Kansas] In 1975, residents at 16 Sumner Place reported that their then six-year-old son began telling them vivid stories of frontier Kansas. Telling of Jayhawkers, Quantrill’s Raiders, and other stories, they were mystified by the sheer historical accuracy of his tales. When asked where he learned them, the parents were shocked to find out that he learned the story from “the nice lady in the black dress that reads stories from her book to me after I go to bed at night.” Later that night, the parents creeped to their son’s room and witnessed a faint glow from under is door and reportedly heard a low, murmuring voice. Scared, the parents rushed into the room, noticing the chill in the air. Next, the old wooden rocker in the corner of his room was empty but rocking by its own volition. The little bow, frightened by the abrupt intrusion, burst into tears. He claimed that the lady would never come see him again, that she had said if his parents ever discovered her, she would leave and never return. The parents’ recourse was to have the house exorcised by a Catholic Army chaplain and twelve other laymen. The Catholic officials deny any such exorcism on the house, but the Lady in Black was never seen by their son again. She reportedly moved on to greener pastures- next door at 18 Sumner Place began witnessing phenomena. Doorknobs would turn, lights would turn off and on. A “presence” was felt in the kitchen, stairway and in the bedrooms. The resident reported that she left dirty dinner dishes on the counter and left the home to find the dishes “scraped and stacked neatly next to the dishwasher”. Another family in residence reported that she was roused from sleep by “a touch on her arm and the sound of someone speaking her name.” Upon waking, she claimed that the figure of a woman dressed in black stood by her bed. The figure faded away, but the image stayed with the woman.
The apparitions of Civil War soldiers are reported to be roaming the National Cemetery. The Rookery is haunted. Built in 1832, The Rookery is the oldest house continuously occupied in Kansas. Located at 14 Sumner, it is a particularly active house. Reports claim that the spirit of a young woman with unkempt hair rushes at people, screaming like mad, her white gown flowing. Some say they have seen other apparitions, like an old woman that sits in a corner; a young girl throwing a fit; an old man in a night shirt and ghosts that like to hide children’s toys.
The Toilet Flushing Ghost resides at 22 Sumner Place that is enamored with the homes indoor plumbing. The story goes that one time, the upstairs neighbors went on a short vacation and left a key with the downstairs neighbors to watch over their house. The man of the house was watching TV one night and heard the upstairs toilet flush. He went upstairs, looked around and found nothing. When both the husband and wife went to bed that night, they heard the phantom flushing again. The wife demanded her husband check things out and he found nothing amiss- again. The rest of the weekend the toilet flushed every six hours like clockwork. When the upstairs neighbors came home, the husband told them what happened. The upstairs neighbor just smiled and replied that every time they went away, their toilet flushed all night as well.
The fort isn’t the only place that is haunted in the area. The town of Leavenworth itself is reportedly very haunted. Lloyd’s of Leavenworth is reportedly one of the most haunted areas in town, Lloyd’s boasts more than one apparition. Callahan’s Drug Store was established on the site of the now jewelry store in 1868. In 1943, a man name Gnip purchased the store and it remained Gnip’s Drug Store until he died in 1957. The current owners claim that Gnip still waits the counters, waiting for customers.
The owners and staff have reported voices, pushing and numerous ghostly figures. Employees that Gnip might consider as “lacking” will be reminded to work harder by the radio being turned off and on by an unseen hand. One employee reported she saw an older man standing at the locked front door. Having been accustomed to buzzing people in, she buzzed him in and watched him open the door, walk in with cane in hand and walk up to the counter slowly. When the gentleman finally reached the counter, the woman hung up the phone and turned to greet him, the gentleman was nowhere to be found.
The Santa Fe Diner was built in 1886, the Diner served passengers on the LN&S Railway and the Interurban that connected the city of Leavenworth to Kansas City. The depot was in use until 1982, when it was abandoned. It is said that a child’s handprint can be seen on the glass of the transom above the entry doors. The glass can be cleaned and yet the prints always show back up. Theories debunking the print state that they could be mineral deposits left in the glass while others say it’s the spirit of a child murdered in front of the station more than 50 years ago. The occupants also claim there are cold spots, voices and an apparition of a woman in a long dress is often seen in the dining room. Lights turn off and on at odd times. The faucet in the kitchen turns on full blast and lights have been seen in the depot tower, where there is no electricity. The High Noon Saloon (Now called Grinder’s) was formerly home to a vast array of businesses, the Saloon now boasts a brewery and restaurant. Employees have witnessed footsteps, weird noises and have even seen footprints on a snow-covered roof that ended abruptly at the edge. Apparitions have also been seen.
In 1900, the body of Pearl Forbes was found a ways from downtown Leavenworth. Fred Alexander was also killed at the same location in a lynching that was witnessed by almost 8,000 residents.
Fred Alexander had been accused of the rape of Eva Roth and the murder of Ms. Forbes, even though there was no concrete evidence that pointed at Alexander committing the crimes. Held in a jail cell, the enraged citizens of Leavenworth broke down the outside wall of Alexander’s cell. They apprehended the black man and demanded that he be burned at the stake for his crimes. Alexander claimed his innocence repeatedly. The crowd didn’t care. The townspeople fixed him to a pyre along the river, covered him in coal oil twice and lit a match. He was dead within five minutes, yet they kept adding wood to the pyre until 7 pm. From 6:00-8:00pm there were scores of people coming to see the spectacle. The crowed swarmed and collected bits of skin, chain and wood as morbid souvenirs. Legend says that you can hear moaning, the roaring of the crowd and the crackle of fire.
Most people think prison when they hear the word Leavenworth. There is far more than just criminals at this historic fort. Are there ghosts wandering among the various buildings that make up this property? Are there spirits in the city of Leavenworth itself? Is Fort Leavenworth haunted? That is for you to decide!
Thursday, March 22, 2018
Moment in Oddity -Pope Gregory IX Declares Cats are of Satan
Pope Gregory IX was born Ugolino di Conti in 1145. Unbelievably, he was over 80 years old at the time that he became Pope. But that isn't what is odd about his story. Our oddity here is about a declaration he made as Pope. This would not be his declaration about papal supremacy or that little thing he put into motion called the Crusades or that other little thing, you know, the Inquisition. No, this has to do with his order that called for the wholesale slaughter of cats in Europe. He wrote the Vox in Rama and this declared that cats were the instrument of Satan and thus they were condemned. This led to a decree by Gregory that put a target on the head of every cat, especially the black ones. Now, as if this wasn't insane enough, keep in mind that the Plague was on the scene. And many believe that the Plague was spread by rats. And what kills rats? Cats! Now imagine you have a Pope declaring that they all be killed. So the Pope causes a massive reduction in those evil cats all while the realevil of the plague is allowed to take out the human population and apparently the people of that time were okay with that and that, certainly is odd!
This Month in History - Tolpuddle Martyrs Banished to Australia
In the month of March, on the 18th, in 1834, the Tolpuddle Martyrs were banished to Australia. Tolpuddle was a small village east of Dorchester, England where six English agricultural laborers formed the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers. The leader of the group was George Loveless and under him the trade union rapidly grew in the area. The workers had wanted to form the union after several years of reductions in their agricultural wages. The group declared that they would not work for less than 10 shillings a week. There had previously been a lot of unrest from trade union activities and the British government feared that this group would launch the same unrest. They urged local authorities to arrest Loveless and they did just that, along with five other men. The charge was that the men had made an unlawful oath and an outdated law was cited to back up the charges. The men were found guilty and sentenced to seven years of banishment to Australia’s New South Wales penal colony. The British government was less than pleased with the public reaction. The six men were made into heroes and continual agitation by the public got the sentence remitted. The popular movement surrounding the Tolpuddle controversy is generally regarded as the beginning of trade unionism in Great Britain.
Himeji Castle (Suggested by listener Jenni Watt)
The country of Japan does not usually cross the mind when castles are mentioned. But Japan does have castles and Himeji Castle is the largest castle in Japan. The magnificent structure sits at the top of Himeyama, which is a point 150 feet above sea level. The castle is made up of 83 buildings and referred to as White Heron Castle because of its coloring, which is a brilliant white and the curved roofs resemble a bird in flight. Today, the castle is the most visited castle in Japan and is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The site is also considered to be one of the most haunted locations in Japan with stories of Okiku's Well, the Old Widow's Stone and the death of Sakurai Genbei. Join us as we explore the history, legends and hauntings of Himeji Castle.
The city of Himeji in Japan has found itself to be the center of attention throughout the years. The city was established in 1889, but even prior to officially becoming a city, Himeji has been the center of Harima Province, which is today the Hyogo Prefecture, since the Nara period, which covers to years AD 710 to 794. The Great Kantō earthquake hit in 1923 and at that time the Japanese government started considering whether Himeji would make a better and safer capital than Tokyo. During World War II, the United States targeted Himeji because it served as an important rail terminal and also had two large military zones. The attack would be devastating to the city and occurred on July 3, 1945. Just after four in the afternoon, 107 Aircraft took to the skies over Himeji and dropped 767 tons of incendiary bombs. The raid destroyed 63.3% of the city. But one structure remained undamaged and that was Himeji Castle.
The site where the Himeji Castle now stands was originally occupied by a fort that was built in 1333 by Akamatsu Norimura. The location gave a military advantage because of the high hill. Several years later, it was expanded to include living quarters. In 1346, Norimura's son, Sadanori, demolished the fort and built Himeyama Castle in its place, which was named for the hill upon which it sits. In 1545, the Kuroda clan was stationed here by order of the Kodera clan, and at that time the castle was remodeled and renamed Himeji Castle. The construction was finished in 1561. By 1581, a three-story castle keep had been added. In 1600, Tokugawa Ieyasu awarded the castle to Ikeda Terumasa for his help in the Battle of Sekigahara. It would be Ikeda who would completely rebuild the castle from 1601 to 1609. This made the castle a large complex. Several buildings were later added to the castle complex by Honda Tadamasa from 1617 to 1618. One of these includes a special tower for his daughter-in-law, Princess Sen.
The castle was built for defense and fortified with high, thick walls, moats and holes for shooting out arrows and dropping stones. There are 83 buildings and 74 of them have been set aside as Important Cultural Assets. These assets include smaller items like gates and move up to turrets, corridors and even earthen walls. Some of these walls reach 85 feet in height. The castle complex stretches over 2.6 miles in square feet and covers over 576 acres. That's 50 times the size of the Tokyo Dome. Like most castles, there is a central keep and it stands 302 feet above sea level with six floors and a basement that was used for lavatories, which is something not usually found in a castle. There are two pillars that are part of the keep and they were made from wood, one from fir and the other from cypress. The first floor is lined with weapon racks and there were once 90 spears and 280 guns stored here. This floor also has 330 Tatami mats, leading to the nickname "thousand-mat room." These mats were used as a type of flooring, made from a core of rice straw and covered with a woven soft rush straw.
Stone throwing platforms can be found on the third and fourth floors. The fifth floor has what are called "warrior hiding places." These are small enclosed rooms from which defenders could pop out from hiding and strike their enemy with the element of surprise. In the Meiji Period, which dates from 1868 to 1912, many Japanese castles were destroyed, but Himeji Castle survived. It was eventually abandoned in 1871. The castle was later slated for demolition, but an army colonel named Nakamura Shigeto made the effort to spare it. A stone monument honoring him was placed in the castle complex within the first gate, the Hishi Gate. The castle was put up for auction and purchased by a Himeji resident for 23 Japanese yen (about 200,000 yen or US$2,258 today). This buyer also wanted to demolish the castle complex, so he could develop the land, but the cost of destroying the castle was estimated to be too great, so the castle was spared yet again.
Himeji Castle has managed to survive intact for 400 years and this was through the bombings that hit the city during World War II and the 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake. Nearly everything had been burned to the ground around the castle and yet it remained. This has caused many of the Japanese people to believe that the castle is divinely protected. A Japanese garden was added in 1992 to commemorate Himeji City's centennial. A few years ago, extensive renovations were done, which included getting the grimy grey roof back to its brilliant white coloring. The castle reopened to the public on March 27, 2015. The castle is like a giant labyrinth and even today, some tourists still find themselves lost within its walls. Could that be why some spirits still seem to be trapped here?
As we have discussed when talking about Japan on other episodes, the stories and beliefs around ghosts in Japanese culture,take on many forms. In America, we often believe that people who commit suicide or were murdered are more likely to have their spirits haunting a certain location. In Japan, these types of spirits are called Yuurei. These ghosts are believed to be stuck because they did not have time to make their peace. Many Yuurei are female-energied spirits looking for revenge., either because they were murdered or committed suicide rashly (defeated warriors in Japan were often forced to commit suicide). Most hauntings by yuurei are of wronged female spirits: the theme common to all yuurei hauntings is revenge. One such tale at the castle claims that a woman who was deeply wronged in life was held in a type of bondage to the betrayal that had killed her and so she haunted a location for over 400 years. This is the story of Okiku's Well.
The story dates back to the seventeenth century. There is a well near the Hara-kiri Maru, or the Suicide Gate, which is at the foot of the tower known as the Donjon. This well had a very ominous purpose as its name indicates. Dishonored soldiers would disembowel themselves and bleed out next to the well. The well was used to wash away the blood from the suicides. The well is better known today as Okiku's Well. Okiku was a beautiful young woman who worked in the castle and she quickly became the lord's favorite servant. She was dedicated to him and was secretly in love with him. One day as Okiku was working, she overheard the Chief retainer talking with another man about a plot to overthrow her lord. She ran to her lord and told him. It saved his life and the chief retainer vowed revenge. Part of Okiku's job was to take care of 10 plates that the lord was very fond of and he trusted her with them. The chief retainer had stolen one when he fled and many thought that Okiku had taken the plate. She actually was tried for the crime and found guilty. Her punishment was to be doled out by the chief retainer and the lord gave him permission to torture her. The retainer committed horrible acts on her, including sexual and then her dead body was thrown into the well.
But that was not the end of Okiku. The first to experience her ghost was the lord himself. He would wake up and hear her voice. First, she would sound as if she were counting plates and then the voice would break into bloodcurdling screams. It started to drive the lord mad. Many other people throughout the years claim to hear those terrifying screams in the early morning hours, usually between 2 and 3am. The howls are nearly indescribable and everyone who hears them is scared by them. This story of Okiku's haunting is so well known that it has become a part of the culture and is known as the Kaidan of Banshu Sarayashiki and has been the subject of many movies and books.
The Old Widow's Stone
The legend of the "Old Widow's Stone" dates back to the time when Toyotomi Hideyoshi was a feudal lord in Japan. This was during the 1500s. He had run out of stones when building the original three-story castle keep. An old woman heard had heard about this issue with not enough stones and she gave him her hand millstone. This was precious to her and she needed it for her trade. because of her sacrifice, other people were inspired to offer their stones to Hideyoshi and this sped up the construction of the castle. This legend claims that everyone can see the Old Widow's Stone today because the stone is covered with a wire net in the middle of one of the stone walls in the castle complex. And speaking of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, it is said that his spirit haunts Himeji Castle. His spirit is said to have been subdued by Miyamoto Musashi, who is a ghost samurai that carries two swords. The Samurai's official job was to guard the Osakabe shrine. He was one of the greatest samurai to walk the shores of Japan. He also defeated the spirit of Princess Osakabe, whose spirit haunted Himeji castle back in the 17th century.
The Death of Genbei Sakurai
A folklore story is also associated with Genbei Sakurai, who was Ikeda Terumasa's master carpenter in the construction of the castle keep. According to the legend, Sakurai was dissatisfied with his work on the keep because it keep leaning to the southeast. He became so depressed when he could not get the keep to look right, that he climbed to the top of the keep and jumped to his death with a chisel in his mouth. Some say he still roams the compound, biting on his chisel.
Japan is a country full of legends. Himeji Castle stands as a testament to the country's strong past and represents its promising future. Are there restless spirits wandering the maze of corridors found within? Is Himeji Castle haunted? That is for you to decide!
Thursday, March 15, 2018
Moment in Oddity - Seaborn Goodall House
Suggested by: Nicole Dixon
Jacksonborough in Georgia was once the county seat of Screven, but today nobody would know that it had ever existed, save for one house, the Seaborn Goodall House. Lorenzo Dow was a traveling preacher and when he arrived in Jasksonborough, he expected the local folk to be very welcoming. After all, this was the south, known for its hospitality. But he found the townspeople to be quite the opposite. They were cold and rude. Seaborn Goodall was different. He invited Dow to come stay at his house. Dow's first sermon in town drew a large crowd and he thought perhaps he had misjudged everyone. However, the people were not there to worship and soon Dow figured out that they were all drunk. They cursed him and screamed for him to leave town. Dow decided that he should do just that and he shook the dust of the town from his feet and called out an eternal curse on Jacksonborough. That curse declared that no business would prosper and that all the homes would eventually be destroyed, except the home of Seaborn Goodall. Soon, fires sprung up, the creek flooded the town and mysterious winds ripped roofs off of homes. Houses not destroyed by natural disasters just literally fell to the ground. Once prosperous stores were forced to close when they began to lose money. The only thing that managed to stand was the bridge. Every home was gone, except for one. The home of Seaborn Goodall. That house remained unburned, unflooded and undamaged. Through it all, his home stood solid, always unburned by the fires, undamaged by the storms and floods. And the house still stands over 160 years later, while any other attempt to establish residences or businesses has failed, and that, certainly is odd!
This Month in History - British Parliament Abolishes the Slave Trade
In the month of March, on the 25th, in 1807, the British Parliament abolished the slave trade. Earlier bills had failed, but a new effort was put forth in 1806 with the Foreign Slave Trade Abolition Bill. The Bill would prevent the import of slaves by British traders into territories belonging to foreign powers and was introduced by the Attorney-General, Sir Arthur Leary Piggott. The Bill passed Parliament on March 23, 1806 and was sent to the House of Lords. Lord Grenville, who was the Prime Minister, read the bill making it official policy. After a second reading, it was agreed to 100 votes to 34. The Bill them moved to the House of Commons. Wilburforce, who was an abolitionist that had fought to end the slave trade for 18 years, received a standing ovation during the debate over the Bill. That debate lasted ten hours and the House voted in favor of the Bill by 283 votes to 16. The Bill received Royal Assent on March 25th and the slave trade was finished forever for Britain.
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design (Suggested by listener Kate Wilker)
The city of Lakewood is a suburb of Denver, Colorado. There was never a traditional downtown in the city, but there was a central business area along Colfax Avenue and it became home to the
Jewish Consumptives' Relief Society, which treated patients suffering from tuberculosis. When TB was no longer a threat, the property was opened as the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. The college offers a curriculum in animation, photography, graphic design, fine arts and fashion design, but it also offers something else: ghosts. There have been many reports of supernatural activity on the campus and one of the people who has experienced that is our listener Kate Wilker, who suggested this location. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design!
The town of Lakewood was platted on July 1st, 1889, by Charles Welch and W.A.H. Loveland. Loveland was the president of the Colorado Central Railroad and he was ready to retire. He wanted to find a new area to build his estate and chose a spot in an area west of Denver along Colfax Avenue. Soon Lakewood became a place where the rich would build their summer estates. An electric tramway arrived in 1893 and spurred the development of Lakewood by connecting it with Denver and Golden. This was called "The Loop." The late 1800s would see a large influx of Jews and they would soon need a place to take care of their numbers that contracted tuberculosis.
Eastern European Jews had started arriving in Denver in 1870 and they were followed in the 1880s by Russian Jews. Russia was a place of discrimination and economic hardship at that time and they saw new opportunities in America. They referred to America as the Goldineh Medinah, which is “Golden Land” in Yiddish. The west promised even more possibilites and they headed for Colorado with most of them settling in a west-side immigrant enclave along the Platte River. They worked as shopkeepers and peddlers and founded the first synagogue on West Colfax. Denver's Newsies were mostly young Jewish kids and they would hawk the papers on street corners.West Colfax was soon almost exclusive Jewish businesses and so was very similar to New York's Lower East Side although Dr. Maurice Fishberg, head physician for the United Hebrew Charities of New York asserted in 1904 that "the homes of the poor living here [in Denver’s West Colfax area] are as a rule tidy and clean, nothing like the overcrowding seen in Jewish quarters in New York or Chicago. The environment here looks more like that of the average small western town, than like a Jewish district of Europe."
At this time in the early 1900s, the West Colfax Jewish neighborhood experienced an influx of Jews who were sick with tuberculosis. TB was the leading cause of death in the United States at that time and people from all walks of life moved to Colorado, with the hope that the dry climate would heal their lungs. Colorado would come to be known as "The World’s Sanatorium." No public sanatoriums existed at the time and so private organizations built institutions. The Jewish community founded National Jewish Hospital for Consumptives', in 1899. All patients were treated free of charge at the hospital. Its motto was "None May Enter Who Can Pay, None Can Pay Who Enter." The drawback with National Jewish was that it only treated early stage TB and it did not have a kosher kitchen. So a group of Jewish working class immigrants in the West Colfax neighborhood banded together in 1903 and formed the Jewish Consumptives’ Relief Society or JCRS. This sanatorium would treat patients in all stages of the disease. The hospital was built on the future home of the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design.
Many prominent Jewish east European physicians joined the society. The most important of these men was Dr. Charles Spivak. He was born in Russia Ukraine and emigrated to America where he worked in factories early on. He eventually went to medical school, specializing in gastroenterology. He and his wife moved to Denver for her health and one of his first major contributions to the medical community was to form a medical library of sorts. He devised a procedure called the “Union Catalogue Plan.” This listed where all the medical books in Denver were and when they were available for research. He joined the JCRS when it opened in 1904 and became its number one advocate. There were initially seven patients and they were housed in white wooden tent-cottages so they would have plenty of fresh air. The JCRS's motto was “He Who Saves One Life Saves the World.” Ten thousand patients would seek care at the JCRS over the following fifty years and none of them were charged. In 1954, the institution changed its mission to cancer research, becoming the American Medical Center.
The Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, or RMCAD, was founded in 1963 by Philip J. Steele, an artist and teacher. The college relocated several times to keep up with its growing student population. In 2003, the college moved to the larger 23 acre campus in Lakewood and uses several buildings from the sanatorium days. Full Sail University purchased a controlling share of the college from the Steele family in 2010 and moved most liberal arts courses on line. The RMCAD campus has been designated as a National Historic District and has 17 structures on the property. Because of its past as a place where many people came to die, it seems that some of that past energy has remained today and students and staff have reported many strange occurrences through the years. Our listener Kate Wilker is a student at the college and she joins us to share stories about these experiences.
Kate wrote, "This past October I took a ghost tour at the school, which is full of history. It was originally a campus for people to live with terminal tuberculosis. The campus has a large hospital complete with underground tunnels and even a murder that occurred due to unrequited love between a nurse and patient. Many of the maintenance workers and long time staffers have stories of ghosts and paranormal viewings."
So many sanatoriums around the world have reports of unexplained activity and ghost stories. Do those who once died or worked at the sanatorium still hang around in the afterlife? Is the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design haunted? That is for you to decide!
Thursday, March 8, 2018
Moment in Oddity - The Cursed Black Angel Statue
Suggested by: Elizabeth (Quoylette on Twitter)
There is a cemetery tucked into the suburbs of Iowa City that is host to a reputedly cursed statue. That cemetery is Oakland Cemetery and behind its iron gates, one will find the Black Angel. Finding a black statue in a cemetery is unique. Most of us are used to seeing, marble or granite statues that generally glean a whitish or gray hue. The Black Angel was not always black. The eight-foot-tall winged figure was once a glimmering gold color. A woman named Teresa Doleful Feldevert commissioned it in 1912 to watch over the graves of her young son and husband. Teresa herself died in 1924 and her ashes were interred with her family at that time. The monument was meant to be a symbol of Teresa's sorrow, but somehow after Teresa passed, the statue went from symbolical to cursed. That diabolical curse claims that anyone who touches the angel will die. The statue quickly turned from gold to black. It started from the top and worked itself down as if sorrow were slowly covering over the angel. Rumors about what started the curse range from Teresa's husband causing the curse because she had not been faithful to him after his death to Teresa herself being a witch who had cursed the statue. Do people really drop dead after kissing or toughing the Black Angel? Stories claim the only way to avoid certain death is to be a virgin when you touch the figure. A story claims that a young woman kissed the feet of the angel and dropped dead six months later. Another man, who claimed the curse was just a story, boasted to his friends that he would touch the statue and be fine. He had a massive heart attack right after following up on that boast by touching the angel. People taking pictures here catch weird light anomalies. Paranormal investigators have recorded ghostly EVPs and weird temperature fluctuations that seem to indicate that the statue is warm, even on a cold winter day. If the Black Angel really is cursed, that certainly would be odd!
This Month in History - William Bradford Born
In the month of March, on the 19th, in 1590, William Bradford was born. Bradford was born to Alice and William Bradford in Austerfield, West Riding of Yorkshire. He suffered great tragedies in his childhood as he lost his parents and a grandfather and ended up an orphan. Childhood sickness left him with not much to do, but read, which led him to have intellectual curiosity. His readings started him on the path of Separatism and he eventually moved to Leiden in Holland to escape persecution from King James I of England. A group of Separatists gathered and made plans to emigrate to America. They enjoyed the freedom the Dutch provided them but they didn't want their children influenced by their customs. The group left on the Mayflower and landed in what would become Plymouth Colony in 1620. Bradford was a signatory to the Mayflower Compact and went on to serve as Governor of the Plymouth Colony intermittently. He died on May 9, 1657.
Legends of Venice (Suggested by listener Mindy King)
Venice is considered one of the most romantic cities in the world and it really is an extraordinary and unusual city. The city gives the illusion as though it is floating on water as most of its streets are canals. The centerpiece of Venice is its Grand Canal that is lined with buildings whose origins date back centuries. Venice itself was founded centuries ago and any city that old is sure to have its share of tales of ghosts and curses. One only has to glimpse just past the Venetian masks, Burano lace, Murano glass and gondolas to see the sordid and haunted past of Venice. Join us as we share a brief history of Venice and its legends and hauntings!
Venice is one of our most favorite cities in the world. We have visited it twice and so we have more than likely seen the outside of these haunted palaces. The city of Venice dates back to 600 AD. Many origin stories developed about the cities founding,but most historians agree that fleeing refugees came to the area trying to get away Huns, Goths and other barbarians. They drove wood pylons into the silt and began building on the pylons. The lagoon islands formed a loose federation. Each little community chose a leader to represent them to the Byzantine authority in Ravenna. When the Byzantine Empire lost its grip on Venice, the residents, who were made up of mostly merchant families, elected their first doge in 726 AD. The doge would have a line of successors that would lead the city for more than 1000 years. By the mid-15th century, Venice had transformed into a city with a mix of people and buildings filled with art, imported silks, incense, mosaics and the buildings showcased unique architecture and decor.
Casin degli Spiriti
Casin degli Spiriti is a palace sitting along a bay in the northern part of the island. The name translates to “house of souls” and that name was inspired by the belief that the palace is cursed. Legends claim that the building was used by occultist sects who invoked the presence of spirits and demons. The ghost that is rumored to haunt this location is said to belong to a painter named Luzzo who lived during the 16th century. He had loved a woman named Cecilia, but she loved another. This rival was another painter named Giorgione. Luzzo was so overcome with grief over this that he committed suicide in the palace. Luzzo's apparition has been seen since that time, wandering the halls of the palace and his spirit cries out for his lost love. A murder has also been connected to the Casin degli Spiriti. The dismembered body of a young woman believed to be a prostitute named Linda Owl was found in a trunk in the lagoon of the palace in the 1950s. For this reason, Venetian fishermen will not fish in the waters near the palace.
One of the more horrible legends coming out of Venice is the story of the butcher Biasio. The Riva de Biasio is named for this evil man. He not only served up the finest cuts of meat, but he also prepared broth that was the talk of the city. One day, a small finger was found in a dish and the police raided the butcher shop. They were horrified to find the organs and body parts of children in the back. Biasio was arrested, had his hands cut off and was tortured before being beheaded in Piazza San Marco. The tavern and the house were he lived was razed. No one is sure how many children he killed.
Palazzo Mocenigo Casa Vecchia
Palazzo Mocenigo, on the Grand Canal, has hosted many historical luminaries including English poet Lord Byron and also Irish Poet Thomas Moore. Today, it is said to host the ghost of a former visitor named Giordano Bruno. Bruno was a Dominican Friar who was tried in 1593 by the Roman Catholic Church for heresy. He was charged with denial of several core Catholic doctrines, including eternal damnation, the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, the virginity of Mary, and transubstantiation. He taught reincarnation and believed in pantheism. He was found guilty and burned at the stake in Rome. He gained considerable fame after his death, but his spirit remains at unrest. He seems to have chosen the palace as his place to wander in the afterlife.
Campiello del Remer
The Campiello del Remer is a beautiful courtyard in Venice with a very unbeautiful legend connected to it. People enjoying a coffee at a cafe table may just witness Loredan Fosco's body emerge from the waters of the Grand Canal with the head of his wife Elena in his hands. Fosco was a noble in the late 1500s who had become insanely jealous over his wife. One day, he was chasing her down with a sword and finally caught upto her. Just after he decapitated her, he glanced up to see that the Doge had witnessed the whole incident. The Doge sentenced him to load the corpse on his shoulders and go to Rome before the Pope. The Pope refused to see him, so Fosco wandered for months with the body. He eventually died or was put to death, but his spirit returned to the Grand Canal to practice his ritual of rising when darkness overtakes the city.
The Palazzo Mastelli is also known as the Palazzo del Cammello. The latter name is for the high relief of a camel on the outside of the house. The lower floor features the Renaissance style, while the upper floor is done in the Gothic style. The palace was built in 1112 by three brothers from Morea: Sandi, Afani and Rioba Mastelli. They gained their fortune as silk and spice merchants. There are three statues of the brothers near the entrance of the palace, on the east side of the Campo. A legend claims that these statues are the actual brothers who had been turned to stone because of their greed. They sold a poor quality fabric to a Venetian lady for a very high price and when she discovered the fraud, she cursed the money she gave them. Once they touched the money, they were turned to stone.
Some locations are so sinister and oppressive that even though they do not have a traditional haunting, they fit into the parameters of a haunted locations podcast. The Ca Dario or Palazzo Dario is one such location. This grand palace sits alongside the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy. This prime location should make it one of the most sought after properties to own, but nobody wants to own this building. The reason being that its cursed history has left none of its former owners unscathed. Most of them were left dead. And this has caused many to call the place not only cursed, but haunted.
Inscribed on the external wall of Palazzo Dario is a Latin phrase that reads "Sub Ruina Insidiosa Genero," which translates to “Whoever lives under this roof, will find ruin.” And the history here makes it clear that the warning is clearly needed. From what we could find, the palace is for currently for sell and there are no takers. The first owner was a merchant named Giovanni Dario and he commissioned it to be built in 1487 as a dowry for his daughter Marietta. After her marriage, Marietta and her family moved into the palace. Shortly after that, Marietta's husband went bankrupt and then soon, the same thing happened to her father. Members of that family would start the trend of owners committing suicide. Nine owners in total would kill themselves.
In the 17th century, the Governor of Canada bought Palazzo Dario and not long after, he was dead. This wasn't from suicide, but the circumstances were mysterious. An Armenian merchant of precious stones named Arbit Abdoll was the next owner. He went bankrupt and died shortly after buying the building. A British owner was persecuted and scandalized by a homosexual affair he was having in the 19th century and he killed himself in the palace. More tragedies followed. Another owner named Henry De Reigner became seriously ill after acquiring the building. Then Count Filipo Giordano was killed inside the palace. The manager of the Who, Christoph Lambert, died at the palace of a heart attack.
The horrible circumstances did not end in our modern era. The tenor Mario Del Monaco was trying to buy the house in 1964 when he was the victim of a bad car accident. Negotiations broke down after that and he never owned the home. Venetian businessman Fabrizio Ferrari bought the house in the early 1980s and he moved his sister Nicoletta in with him. He was bankrupt within months and his sister died in a car accident. In the latter part of the 1980s, a financier named Raul Gardini moved into the palace and soon suffered a series of economic reverses and he committed suicide over that! Now some may claim that these are all just coincidences, but this kind of record, it would be hard not to believe that the place is cursed. There are those who claim that the foundation that the building was constructed upon has a negative energy.
Some say that what happened with the Dario family was normal with their finances. They think the curse started due to Marietta. She had written in her will, "I, Marieta, daughter of the late messir Zuan Dario and at present wife of the nobleman messir Vicenzo Barbaro, considering that nothing is more certain than death, and nothing more uncertain than the hour of death, not wanting to die without a testament so that my affairs are left disordered, sound of mind, intellect and body, but close to childbirth, sent for the undersigned notary of Venice and requested that he make my testament, and after my death that he also complete and confirm it according to the regulations of this city. (…) Always intending that my house, that belonged to my father in the area of San Vido go and must go to my male sons and to their male heirs. And if there are no sons, I want it to go to the daughters, and I do not want that these sons and daughters in any way during their lifetime dispose, sell or pawn it, but (I want it to) remain under the above-mentioned condition." Could it be that since the palace passed out of the family's hands, that the curse was spawned?
There are those who claim that this is the most haunted place in Venice, but we honestly could find no ghost stories to go with it. But the curse seems very real.
The San Marco and San Todaro Columns
Most people don't know that this spot in San Marco Square was the scene of executions of criminals. Crimes ranged from stealing to fighting against the Republic to murder. The two columns were suppose to be three, but one sunk when they were being transported to Venice from Constantinople. It still sits on the bottom of the sea. This was beginning of a curse that is claimed to be on the columns. The fact that they were part of executions has only added to the rumors of curses and hauntings here.
Poveglia Island is said to be the island of no return. Poveglia is actually two small islands located off of the coast of Lido in the Venetian Lagoon. Originally, the island served as a port for the Roman Empire. This became the dumping ground for plague victims who were both dead and alive. This started innocently enough as the island was used as a checkpoint for incoming ships. In 1793, there were several cases of the plague on two ships and the people were left at a confinement station set up by the Public Health Office on the island. This arrangement became permanent in 1805. After the plague had passed, it was decided to put a mental asylum on the island and the main doctor was an evil man. He turned the asylum into his personal playground where he would torture and experiment on the patients there. This took place in 1922. He met his death by falling from the tower of the asylum. The legends claim that the ghosts of his victims took out their revenge on him by throwing him off the tower.
Today, there is an abandoned church and another structure which the locals say was a convalescent home. There is also the military Octagon. The island is primed for ghosts. Locals say that over 160,000 deaths have occurred on Poveglia Island. No one is suppose to visit the island. A few tour companies will take visitors by on boat. It's no wonder that people do not want to step foot on an island reputed to be 50% human ash. Ghostly mists that strangle are said to rise from that soil. Some say that the tortuous doctor survived his fall, but was strangled by the mist.
Venice has a Venice Ghost and Legends Walking Tour. There are many legends about Venice. Are there ghosts hanging around the city? Is Venice haunted? That is for you to decide!
Thursday, March 1, 2018
Moment in Oddity - The Mellified Man
Li Shizhen was a Chinese pharmacologist living in 16th century China. He wrote a book titled "Compendium of Materia Medica," which was a medical tome about traditional Chinese medicine. In this book he wrote various accounts about something known today as Mellified Man. This was a mysterious practice in which a person of an older age would volunteer to be mummified in honey. The practice originated in Arabia and entailed saturating and embalming this volunteer with honey for the purpose of creating a mysterious all-healing confection. This process began while the person was still alive and continued in death. The volunteer would cease to eat regular food and subsist strictly on honey, even bathing in honey. It would take about a month for the person's urine, feces and sweat to be mostly made up of honey and eventually they would die. The corpse would be put inside of a special stone coffin that had been filled to the brim with honey. The stone was marked with the date of death and buried for 100 years. This would allow the corpse to become completely saturated and infused with honey. The body would be dug up and the concoction found inside the coffin would be sold on the streets as a medicinal cure-all. Steeping a human cadaver in honey to make a healing substance, certainly is odd!
This Month in History - King Kong Premieres in New York City
In the month of March, on the 2nd, in 1933, the original King Kong movie premieres in New York City. King Kong was directed and produced by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack based on an idea that Cooper developed with Edgar Wallace. The screenplay was written by James Ashmore Creelman and Ruth Rose and starred Fay Wray, Bruce Cabot and Robert Armstrong. The premiere was a huge success and the film received rave reviews. Spoilers here, and if you haven't seen the film you need to rectify that, the story is set on Skull Island where a filmmaker has brought a crew to make a movie. They soon find out about King Kong, a giant ape. A group of natives on the island kidnap the lead actress, Ann Darrow, a give her to Kong as a sacrifice. Lots of harrowing adventure ensues culminating in King Kong being captured and brought to New York City to be put on display. He eventually escapes, scales the Empire State Building and falls to his death. When the director who captured him sees his body on the ground, he remarks, "It was Beauty who killed the Beast." The action parts in the film that featured King Kong were achieved with a revolutionary technique called stop-motion animation, which was pioneered by Willis O'Brien. The score for the film was orchestrated by Max Steiner and was considered groundbreaking. Although considered a monster movie, the Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally, historically and aesthetically significant" in 1991 and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.
Western Carolina University (Suggested by listener Sarah Hollingsworth)
Western Carolina University is located in Cullowhee, North Carolina. The small town is named for a legendary Cherokee warrior and the area has a strong connection to this tribe. The university is the fifth oldest in the UNC system and was established in 1889. What started off as a high school, grew to become a teaching school and then the university that it is today. As is the case with so many universities, it has seen its measure of death, some from tragic circumstances. This has left a spiritual residue in several of the buildings on campus. Our listener Sarah Hollingsworth is a former alum and tour guide for the school and she joins us to share the history and haunting experiences, including some of her own, at Western Carolina University. She also shares several of the legends from the area.
These legends are all very interesting and similar to ones told around the country. The hauntings at the university have been experienced by enough people that it does seem that some unexplained things are happening here. Is Western Carolina University haunted? That is for you to decide!