Thursday, May 31, 2018

Ep. 260 - Haunted Islands of Maine

Moment in Oddity - Why Does Dracula Wear a Tuxedo?
Suggested by: Susan Elizabeth Whigham

Have you ever asked yourself, why does Dracula wear a tuxedo? Yep, I know, you ponder these things. Bram Stoker, in his novel Dracula, describes the visual appearance of Dracula's face and such, but not much about his attire, so where did we get this idea that Dracula wears a tuxedo, cape and medallion? Where did we get that he had an aristocratic demeanor? After all, the first movie inspired by the novel was Nosterafu and the vampire in that movie is a hideous creature. In 1924, Raymond Huntley played Dracula on stage in London and this would be the first time that the character was portrayed as charming and wearing a tuxedo. Legend claims that Huntley provided his own costume. When Dracula came to the stage in America in the late 1920s, Bela Lugosi played the title role, and he went with the tuxedo and well-coifed hair as well, adding the cape. When the stage play was produced by Universal as a movie starring Lugosi, the image of the Halloween Dracula was cemented. The medallion that is part of the costume was inspired by Lugosi who wore the ornamental medal on his chest and some believe that it was his own personal possession. The origins of the medallion are mysterious and it only appears in two scenes. Lugosi was allegedly buried with one version of the medal and as we know, he wore his Dracula cape as well and that certainly is odd!

This Month in History - The Confederates Destroy the Merrimac to Prevent its Capture

In the month of May, on the 9th, in 1862, to prevent its capture by Union forces, the Confederate Ironclad Merrimac was destroyed by the Confederate Navy. Towards the beginning of the Civil War, the Confederates seized the Merrimac from the Union shipyard in Virginia. They transformed the ship into an ironclad so strong that it could not be harmed by cannon balls. The Confederates quickly used the Merrimac to sink two Union ships, the Cumberland and Congress. The Union feared this ship and knew they had to build something formidable before the Merrimac could destroy more of their navy. Within 100 days, the Monitor was built. This ship had been built in secret and was described as a "cheese box on a raft." It was made from iron and had a revolving turret with two big guns inside it. In March, the Merrimac and the small Union Ironclad Monitor met and came to a draw. This was history's first duel between ironclad warships. The ships met again in April, but did not engage. Then in May, the Confederates had to evacuate Norfolk and they destroyed the Merrimac. The Monitor would later be lost during a gale off Cape Hatteras. The encounters of these two ironclads changed Naval warfare forever, making wooden ships obsolete.

Haunted Islands of Maine (Suggested by listener Katrina Ray-Saulis)

Based on its location, Maine has been a prime spot for explorers. There are 4600 islands off the coast of Maine and each of these islands has its own unique history. Some of that history is tragic and it is these grievous stories that seem to have led to some haunting experiences. Outer Heron Island reportedly has buried treasure, a haunted cave and apparitions on the beach. There is Jewell Island with its residual ghost soldiers and stories of buried treasure. Boon Island has its very own haunted lighthouse. Long Island has its phantom ghost ship and crew. And listener Katrina Ray-Saulis joins me to share a mostly unknown history about Malaga Island that highlights the racism that led to some cruel treatment and ultimately some haunting activity. Join me as we explore the Haunted Islands of Maine!

No one is sure how Maine came to have that name. Native Americans were the first to brave the cold and harsh terrain of Maine. They used birch bark canoes to explore the Maine coast. They were hunter and gatherers, but eventually began growing corn and beans in the summer. Leif Erikson was the first European to explore the coasts of Maine as early as 1003. John Cabot was a Venetian explorer and he claimed the New England area for Britain in 1498. In 1622, Sir Fernando Gorges and John Mason received a royal grant for all the land between the Merrimac and Kennebec rivers and then in 1639, Gorges was granted exclusive rights to Maine by another English King. Eventually though, the Massachusetts Bay Colony claimed jurisdiction over Maine in 1647 and purchased proprietary rights from Gorges’ heirs in 1677. Several French and Indian Wars took place on Maine until the Treaty of Paris in 1763, in which France surrendered all claims in North America. Maine developed a fishing, shipbuilding and lumber industry in the ensuing years. Massachusetts maintained control of Maine, which tried voting for separation and statehood several times, but low voter turnout prevented that from happening. The tide turned during the War of 1812 though when Massachusetts provided little support to Maine. Maine achieved statehood on March 15, 1820.

Outer Heron Island

Outer Heron Island lies a few miles offshore from Boothbay Harbor. There are stories of a buried pirate treasure here near a cave. Paranormal activity is reported at this cave and some claim that the cave is a power point on the island. Photographs have revealed several weird anomalies there with what appear to be multiple spirits. In one picture, there appears to be a ghostly pirate peeking out from behind a treasure hunter being photographed in front of the cave. There is a legend of a lost grave here and some claim the skeleton in the grave wears an emerald seal ring given to Sir Francis Drake by Queen Elizabeth I. The claim is that this is the body of Drake's great grandson, who died on a trip to Maine. One man claims that he saw a gathering of ghosts on a beach one night. There was a bonfire as well. He did not know that he was witnessing a ghostly scene until he snuck up on the group and when he jumped into the open, the fire was gone and no one was on the beach.

Jewell Island 

Jewell Island is eight miles from the city of Portland, Maine and the outermost island. It is named for George Jewell who bought the island in 1637. He ended up drowning in Boston Harbor after a drunken night and didn't get to enjoy his island for long. Jewell Island eventually became a strategic center during World War II and the military built Battery 202 there. Three years after V-day, Battery 202 was abandoned by the soldiers physically, but it seems as though some essence has remained behind. A woman named Margaret visited the abandoned Battery 202 when she was a young girl. She happened upon a doorway that was the entrance to the tunnel that led to the gunnery. She could hear men speaking inside the tunnel. She called out and the voices stopped. They started up again a moment later. She entered the tunnel, but found nobody.

There is a legend that a gold treasure had been buried on Jewell Island. A ship sailing from Bermuda shipwrecked near the island and survivors saved the gold and buried it on the island. They never retrieved it. At least, that is one of the stories told. Another is connected to the pirate Anne Bonny. There is a claim that she and seven men buried a treasure and then she killed all the men so that only she knew the location. And then there are the rumors that Captain Kidd sailed along the coast here and buried some of his treasure there. There are tales of ghosts connected to these treasures roaming the beaches. Perhaps looking for their treasures.

Boon Island

Boon Island is only 400 square yards, located six miles from York, Maine and was given its name by a group of sailors that were shipwrecked on the island in 1682. Boon means lucky place and they felt it was lucky that the island was there and that a bonfire they built brought them rescue. Boon may not really be such a lucky island. A phantom fire is seen blazing on the island on stormy nights. It leaves no burn marks and when people seek it out, it disappears when they get too close. The Native Americans who had lived here would light bonfires for sacred offerings on Mount Agamenticus.

Another shipwreck here was of the Nottingham Galley in 1710. The sailors managed to build a bridge to the island with the ship's foremast and they were relieved to be saved by the island. Until they realized they had no food, fresh water or way to build a fire. As is the case with so many of these castaway or stranded stories, cannibalism is about to enter the picture. There was Captain John Deane and thirteen of his crew. The first to go was the cook. But he was not eaten as the men turned to raw mussels and seagulls for food. But before long, they were starving. And this was winter, in Maine with no fire. Frostbite was causing fingers and toes to be lost. When the carpenter died, they butchered his body and lived off it for the next two weeks until they were rescued on January 2, 1711. They had survived twenty-three days on the island. The spirits of the cook and carpenter are said to still be on the island. Their deep moans are heard on the wind and disembodied footsteps are heard on the ground when no one is nearby. Workers on the island have long reported feeling as though they are being watched when they worked. Full-bodied apparitions and emaciated figures wearing ragged clothes have appeared to keepers as well. As though the guilt of being cannibals has brought back the spirits of the survivors.

Obviously, the seas around the island are treacherous and a lighthouse was needed, so the station was established in 1799 and the original lighthouse was built in 1811. That was authorized by President James Madison during the War of 1812. The one that stands today was built in 1855. The lighthouse was made from granite and rises 133 feet tall, making it New England's tallest lighthouse. Keepers have experienced paranormal phenomenon. One of them owned a Labrador retriever and that dog would snarl and snap and something unseen and even chased something that the keeper could not see. And we have a woman in white here. She is seen at dusk or dawn on the rocks at the waters edge. No one knows who she is or why she is here.

This ghost could possibly belong to Katherine Brights who was the wife of lighthouse keeper Luke Brights. He died one night while going out to save their boat during a violent storm. He tied himself to the lighthouse with a rope, but he was soon battered on the rocks. Katherine dragged his body to shore and then into the lighthouse. She maintained the light for five days with his body decaying near the stairs. Then the light went out. A group came to see what happened and they found Katherine stark raving mad. She died a few weeks later later in the hospital. It is thought that her spirit returned to Boon Island. Fisherman hear her cries and see her figure on the rocks. So sounds like she could be the woman in white here. One night, a keeper was unable to return to the island to light the light, but it came on by itself and it was attributed to Katherine.

The light was automated in 1980 and maintained by the Coast Guard. The island was put up for auction and is now privately owned, so no one can visit it or tour the lighthouse.

Long Island

Long Island is off of Portland, Maine and actually seceded from the city in 1993. As is the case with most of the islands, Native Americans were the first residents, but left when Europeans arrived in the 17th century. The first to build a house here was Col. Ezekiel Cushing. He bought the island in 1732. and is credited with being the first European to settle and build a house on the island. He willed the island to his nine children when he died in 1765. Farmers and fishermen came soon thereafter. Soon after, other settlers arrived to make a livelihood out of farming, fishing, and catching lobsters. In the late 1800s, the island turned to tourism and the Granite Spring Hotel and Casino was built. People arrived on steamboats and paraded with their parasols on the boardwalk until a fire right before World War I burned it all to the ground. During World War II, Casco Bay became United States Navy base Sail. Tourism started up again and it is still a popular place in the summer for visits.

One ghost story told about this island is about an experience a little girl named Isabel had one day on her way home from school. The crew from the Sea Maiden was thought to have been shipwrecked at sea, but she saw the entire crew walking up the wharf from the trip. They looked to be carrying things they had brought back from their voyage to foreign lands. She noticed that even though they should have been happy and cavorting, they were very grim and took no notice of her or any of their surroundings. She hurried home to tell her family that the Sea Maiden had made it to port. Her family went to a neighbors to tell them the good news and found that no one had seen or heard from the crew and one of the neighbors was the family of the first mate. They headed down to the wharf and saw that there was no ship there. The next day, the village learned that the Sea Maiden had been shipwrecked and the whole crew had perished.

Malaga Island

Listener Katrina Ray-Saulis joins me to discuss the history and possible hauntings in connection to malaga Island. This island has a tragic history that many are reluctant to talk about. Connected to this are the graves that were moved from Malaga Island to the Maine School for the Feeble-Minded, which is today Pineland Farms, a 5,000 acre working farm. Maine Ghost Hunters did an informal investigation of the cemetery there and reported, "While on location TonyL claims to have had an experience we tried to get on digital camera and on tape but couldn’t because the battery to my video camera was sucked dry, and all of the photos we took after TonyL announced that the “experience” was taking place came out purple and blurry.  My camera batteries for this digital camera also went from “full” to “dying” in an extremely short period of time.  We are planning a return nighttime trip with “permission” in hand by the proper authorities in the next 2 months."

A psychic named Kelly Spurlock was visiting the island and she saw a group of ghostly African American women dressed in white dresses and white head cloths. There were twelve of them and they ranged in age from twelve to around eighteen. They faded into the air as Spurlock's boat landed. She noted that they seemed to be an intelligent haunting as they made eye contact with her and definitely saw her. They gave off a sense of foreboding. The ghost of a woman named Beth McKinney is said to roam the northwest part of the island near an old well. Her name has been picked up on the Ghost Radar app and the strong smell of perfume has been detected. The well is at the site of the former home of the McKinney family. Beth died in the home and was buried in the cemetery there. Until she was dug up. Strange images have been caught on film, usually featuring a white billowing shape or strands of light orbs with faces. Batteries drain and camera shutters freeze up.

The islands of Maine are each different with their own unique history. And they each have their own individual ghosts stories. Are any of these stories true? Are these islands haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:
Katrina's book:

Marcus LiBrizzi book: Haunted Islands in the Gulf of Maine

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