Thursday, August 30, 2018
Moment in Oddity - Raining Stickleback Fish
For centuries, different cultures have reported legends about various weird items raining from the skies. These phenomenon range from insects to frogs to snails to birds to stones and even blood. For Mount Ash in Wales in 1859, it was a bunch of stickleback fish that fell from the sky. Many theories try to explain these various things falling from the sky. one is that a plane drops some cargo. Clearly, this was not the case in 1859. Another more plausible theory is that a water spout passes over a lake and picks up a bunch of fish and deposits them elsewhere. But when it came to these stickleback fish falling from the sky, there really was no explanation. Sticklebacks are not schooling fish, so a large body of water would need to be passed over and sucked up over a long period of time to grab a alrge number of these fish. And obviously, lakes have more than just one variety of fish, so how is it that just this group was pulled up? The sticklebacks also fell over an area measuring 240 x 36 feet in two separate intervals. There was a ten minute gap between these "showers." The fish were miraculously alive and unharmed by the whole event. I imagine this made for a big fish fry all because of an event that certainly is odd!
This Month in History - Ernie Pyle Born
In the month of August, on the 3rd, in 1900, war correspondent Ernie Pyle was born in Dana, Indiana. He signed up to serve in the Navy during World War I at the age of17. He went to Indiana University for a time after the war and then got into the newspaper business. He traveled the country as a correspondent for the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain. His columns detailed the lives of ordinary people in rural America. Pyle continued his sympathetic insights as a war correspondent during World War II and he received a Pulitzer Prize for his reports of the bombing of London in 1940. He traveled to Italy and France and Africa and Sicily. In 1945, he was reporting on the war from Okinawa, Japan. He was in Iejima during the Battle of Okinawa. Pyle was traveling by jeep with Lt. Col. Joseph B. Coolidge when they encountered enemy fire. The two men jumped into a ditch for cover and Coolidge said, "A little later Pyle and I raised up to look around. Another burst hit the road over our heads ... I looked at Ernie and saw he had been hit." The bullet had hit Pyle in his left temple just under his helmet and it killed him instantly. A monument was erected over the spot where he died. He was very well known around the country and he was mourned by the homefront and the soldiers alike. Eleanor Roosevelt quoted Pyle's war dispatches in her newspaper column, My Day, and she paid tribute to him by writing, "I shall never forget how much I enjoyed meeting him here in the White House last year and how much I admired this frail and modest man who could endure hardships because he loved his job and our men."
Cincinnati Music Hall (Suggested by: Angela Wallingford)
One of the most recognizable buildings in Cincinnati is its music hall. This location dates back to the late 1800s, but the site itself has been home to other uses that include an asylum, an orphanage, a potter's field and there were other nearby cemeteries from which the bodies were not removed. All of which add their own reasons for paranormal experiences. Top this off with a world class music venue and theater and there is no doubt that this music hall just might really live up to its "most haunted" reputation. Join me and listener and tour guide Angie Wallingford as we share the history and hauntings of Cincinnati's Music Hall!
Cincinnati was founded by Mathias Denman, Colonel Robert Patterson and Israel Ludlow in 1788. The town was laid out and surveyed by John Filson and he named it "Losantiville." This was an amalgamation of several words with L for the nearby Licking River, os is Latin for mouth, anti is Greek for opposite and ville is French for city. So the original city name meant "The city opposite the mouth of the river." Arthur St. Clair was the governor of the Northwest Territory in 1790 and he changed the name of the settlement to "Cincinnati" in honor of the Society of the Cincinnati. He was the President of this group that took its name from Cincinnatus who was a Roman general and dictator who saved the city of Rome from destruction. *Rabbit hole: In 458 BC, a group of Roman Senators came to Cincinnatus on his farm and told him that Rome was in great danger. Since he had earlier routed the Aequians, they felt he would be best to fight the Sabines that were at Rome's walls. They gave him the power of a dictator and he was given command of an army that he marched into battle and quickly routed the enemy. He rode through the city in triumph.* Cincinnati was chartered as a town in 1802. The city has been known as many things from Porkopolis because of a thriving hog industry to the Queen of the West to the City of Seven Hills. One of its beautiful National Historic Landmarks is the Cincinnati Music Hall.
The music hall was designed by Samuel Hannaford and built in 1878 and is made up of three buildings. The design is Victorian-gothic architecture and served as Cincinnati's first convention center. The interior is beautiful and is home to Cincinnati Opera, the nation’s second-oldest opera company, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, May Festival and Cincinnati Ballet. Extensive renovations were done a couple of years ago and the Music Hall re-opened in October 2017.
There definitely seem to be hauntings here and the Cincinnati Music Hall made Time Magazine’s list of 50 Most Haunted Locations in America. Angela wrote, "Theaters seem to be a popular place for ghosts, but there are a few other factors that are believed to contribute to the hauntings. The south part of the building was built over a Potter’s field from the early –mid 1800’s, this was actually the site of a mass burial for people that died in the 1849 cholera outbreak that killed over eight thousand people. Springer auditorium was built on the site of a former orphan asylum. 1832 was a rough year for Cincinnati, flooding, measles and cholera left many orphans. Across the street, there is now a beautiful park, which has recently undergone a multi-million dollar renovation, but, it was once the site of three separate cemeteries. These graves were supposed to have been moved when the park was built in the 1850’s, but as in true “Poltergeist” fashion, the workers just moved the headstones and left the bodies. Before the recent renovations, the neighborhood was impoverish and dangerous. The park was home to many homeless people, people with addiction problems and a hot bed of crime. Many people suffered greatly in that park and lives were lost. The parking garage, which is across the street (and this street was the former Miami-Eerie canal that is believed to be the main cause of the cholera outbreaks) behind the building was built on the site of Ohio’s first lunatic asylum, mental health care…not so great in the 1820s."
Angels shared many of the hauntings, "Many ghosts are believed to inhabit this building. There is the obligatory lady in white that is seen dancing in the ball room. People riding elevators alone have reported a lady getting on the elevator with them, striking up a conversion, then disappearing. An old freight elevator (which didn’t survive the renovations) was thought to be haunted by the spirit or spirits from the potter field. It would roam around on it’s own, go to a different floor than you wanted, or not go at all. I should mention, this elevator needs a key to run it. The elevator spirit is actually believed to have saved a man’s life in the 1990s. He had a heart attack on the third floor, when the EMT’s got him on the elevator the attendant did not have her keys, but the elevator took them to first floor and the waiting ambulance. A former patient from the old lunatic asylum roams the halls wearing an old dirty hospital gown, long stringy gray hair, and black sockets where his eyes should be. There are reports of him possessing people and construction workers that quit immediately upon seeing him. A much loved conductor, Erich Kunzel, passed away in 2009. Whistling has been heard coming from his old office, he was known to whistle constantly when working a new score until he got it just right. The spirit that is seen the most is a little girl, about eight years old, she is believed to be from the orphan asylum. Some of her favorite places to hang out, in the ballerina’s dressing room, the basement, in front of the building on the north east corner, where she tries to hold the hands of women.
Are these former patients, orphans and theater patrons and workers still hanging out in the Afterlife? Is Cincinnati Music Hall haunted? That is for you to decide!
To find out more about Angie's tour group: https://www.americanlegacytours.com/
Thursday, August 23, 2018
Moment in Oddity - Chief Big Thunder's Death and Beyond
Suggested by: Rachel Gates
The Native American tribe known as the Potawatomi had a chief at one time named Big Thunder because he had a deep, booming voice. When his time on Earth was coming to an end, he instructed his tribe of people to place him facing the West. He wanted to be prepared to help his tribe fight in a great battle that was coming. He promised that he would come back and lead them to victory. He died around 1800 and Chief Big Thunder was placed on a bench on a high spot facing the West.A fence was placed around him to protect the body. The battle he foretold never happened and so he never rose from the dead. His tribe brought him tokens like tobacco and placed it in his lap. Big Thunder was not left at peace for very long though because a stagecoach trail ran near his burial spot and relic hunters took the chief’s bones and placed them on display. His skull was taken by Dr. Josiah Goodhue and legend claims that it ended up at Rush Medical College, but was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Dr. Goodhue had been a successful doctor who designed the first city seal for Chicago and he is the one who changed the city of Midway's name to Rockford. Despite being a good man, Dr. Goodhue would fall under a curse by the Potawatomi tribe. They were enraged that their chief's grave had been desecrated and his bones stolen and they felt that the theft of his skull was the most egregious. They swore that the curse would give them revenge. Dr. Goodhue had just left a patient's house when he fell head-first into a freshly dug well. He died shortly after his rescue. The death of Dr. Goodhue could just be a coincidence, but around here we don't believe in those and the circumstances of his death, certainly are odd!
This Month in History - The Watts Riots
In the month of August, on the 11th, in 1965, the Watts riots begin in Los Angeles. Two white policemen pulled over a black driver suspected of drunk driving in the predominantly black Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. The area was already experiencing racial tension and when a gathering crowd saw the arrest taking place, they became angry as they thought the incident was racially motivated. The anger fomented into a riot that moved from just a corner to several streets to a 50-square-mile area of South Central Los Angeles. The rioters looted stores, fought with whites and burned buildings. The National Guard had to be called in to restore order. The riots had lasted for five days and left 34 people dead, 1,032 people injured, nearly 4,000 people arrested, and $40 million worth of property destroyed. Other riots would happen throughout the sixties in other cities like Detroit and Newark.
Belle Grove Plantation (Suggested by: Sarah Clark)
Belle Grove Plantation is an estate and plantation house dating back into the 18th century that has witnessed over 300 years of history that includes colonization, the Revolutionary and Civil Wars and is famously known as the birthplace of President James Madison. The pursuit of John Wilkes Booth also touched the grounds of this beautiful property. This is one of the best preserved 18th century homes in America and has been restored to its former beauty and runs today as a bed and breakfast. One claim to fame that is not as well known is just how haunted this property allegedly seems to be and that reputation led it to being featured on Ghost Hunters. There are reputedly dozens of ghosts lurking about the manor. Join me as I explore the history and hauntings of Belle Grove Plantation!
The land where the plantation would later be located started off as a land grant back in 1667. The land would pass down through the generations until we come to Francis and Alice Thornton. They had a daughter named Elizabeth in 1673 and she married Edwin Conway. They had one child together before Edwin died and they named him Francis. He would marry Rebecca Catlett and the couple would inherit the 700 acre property that came to be known as Port Conway, named for the Conway family. They had six children and one of their daughters was Eleanor Rose Conway who would marry James Madison, Sr. and they would have James Madison, Jr. who would later become president of the United States. Eleanor was known as Nelly and she returned to her paternal home to have James, so the fourth president was born on the property, but not at Belle Grove Plantation as it is today. The home he was born in, burned down shortly after his birth. The foundation can still be seen on the property.
Francis and Rebecca also had a son named Francis, Jr. and he inherited the property upon the death of his father. He was only fourteen at the time, so his mother stayed on the property with her new husband John Moore. Moore would be the one to name the property Belle Grove. Francis, Jr. would name his son Francis as well and he went on to become a Captain during the Revolutionary War. Captain Conway inherited Belle grove and he sold it to John Hipkins. John and his wife had a daughter named Fanny and she would be their only surviving child. He named one of his ships for her that was later captured by pirates. Fanny married when she was only fourteen to a nineteen-year-old William Bernard. Her father tried to get him into the family business as a merchant, but he was no good at it and so that is why Hipkins bought Belle Grove. He gave the property to the couple for five shillings to see if William was better at farming. John built the center section of the house that still stands at Belle Grove in 1791. Hipkins himself lived at Rose Hill Plantation, which can be seen from Belle Grove and people joke that he really bought the property so he could keep an eye on his daughter.
Fanny eventually passed away and William remarried and moved from the property. He leased it out until his son William Bernard, Jr. was of age and he was given the plantation. At this point, the land had expanded in acreage as parts of Port Conway were folded into it. William Jr. passed away and the plantation was taken over by his father again who sold it to the husbands of his daughters Eliza and Sarah Bernard for one dollar. Sixteen days later, Belle Grove was sold to Carolinus Turner. The year was 1839. *Fun Fact: Carolinas got his name because when his mother was pregnant with him, his parents were sure they were going to have a girl and they had selected the name Caroline, which is a family name for the baby. To their surprise, their new daughter turned out to be a new son, so they named him Carolinus.
Carolinus would transform the manor house into much of what is seen today. The Federal style was converted to Greek Revival, he extended the sides, added the porticos, curved porches, the small extension on the second floor and added the curved steps up to the porch that were made in England. He also added the architectural details all along the roof line as well as on the exterior walls. Carolinus married and had five children and was doing very well financially until the Civil War started. The people who lived in the area joined the Confederate side and the Rappahannock River that flowed nearby was a keen asset. Most men joined one of three military groups: the 9th Virginia Cavalry, the 47th Virginia Infantry, Company E otherwise known as the Port Royal Guards or the Caroline Light Artillery. Fredericksburg was just up the road and that is where most men reported and in the end, most of them would fight within 75 miles of their homes.
Port Royal and Port Conway would come under attack several times, but always managed to survive when the Confederates would push back Union forces. The area was important to General Robert E. Lee because he was born not too far from Port Conway and Port Royal at Stratford Hall and his wife' cousin who lived at Cleydael, kept his two daughters through most of the Civil War and Cleydael was just nine miles from Belle Grove Plantation. He saved Port Royal from being attacked once, but on another occasion, in April 1863, a Union Army of around five hundred pillaged Port Royal. The Confederate forces from the area suffered heavy losses losing more than half of their numbers. Carolinus fought for the Confederate side and was issued a pardon. Historians believe that the Turner family was forced out of Belle Grove Plantation during the war.
On April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln. As most of you know, this set off one of the most famous manhunts in history. Booth and his co-conspirator, David Harold, spent 12 days on the run traveling through Maryland and Virginia. On April 24th, 10 days after the assassination, Lieutenant Edward P. Doherty who was leading a detachment of men in the pursuit assembled them at Belle Grove Plantation. A private, John W. Millington, who was part of this detachment, gave his account to the Portland Journal in early February of 1937. I have included a few excerpts:
“On the morning of April 15, 1865, I was on guard, when news came that President Lincoln had been shot at Ford’s theatre. We were ordered to form part of a cordon to prevent the assassin from escaping. Our company was deployed through the brush...Lieutenant Dougherty showed us a photograph of Booth and told us he had crossed the Potomac near Port Tobacco. We arrived at Acquia Creek and went ashore about 10 o’clock that night. We started scouting through the country, searching all houses and buildings, routing out the inmates and making a thorough search. Next morning early we met some men who had been fishing. They said that a closed hack had passed a few days before, with two men in it. A Confederate captain was in charge, who warned them not to come near. They thought one of the men in the carriage resembled the photograph that we showed them of Booth. We were then on the road to the Rappahannock, toward Port Conway, where we arrived about 2 0’clock. We had not eaten since leaving Washington, so we were told to fall out and rustle some rations...The ferryman at the Rappahannock told us that Captain Jett of Mosby’s command had crossed with two men in a closed carriage a few days before. We arrived at Bowling Green at 11 o’clock that night. We left our horses, with every fourth man counted out to hold the horses. We surrounded the hotel, where we captured Captain Jett. At first he refused to tell us where he had left the two men, but after some forcible persuasion he agreed to show us. He said he didn’t know who they were, except that they were Confederate soldiers who had got into trouble in Maryland and wanted to hide out until the trouble had blown over...He led us back on the road by which we had come, to within about three miles of Port Royal. He pointed out a house some distance from the road. We opened the gate carefully and, after surrounding the house, knocked at the door. Garrett came to the door. Asked where the two men were, he said “I know nothing about any men being here.” Our officer said to a trooper, “Untie your picket rope. We’ll hang the old man and see if it will refresh his memory.” “A young man ran from the direction of an outbuilding and asked, “What do you men want?” Our officer said, “We want the two men who are stopping here and at once.” He said, “They’re in the barn.” Part of our company was detailed to surround the barn and part to surround the house. I was with the party sent to the barn. Our lieutenant, who heard some whispering in the barn, called, “Come out at once.” One of the men inside the barn asked, “Who are you?” Our officer said, “It doesn’t make any difference who we are, but we know who you are. You had better come out at once.” “The man in the barn who had done the talking was the man we were after – Booth. He refused to come out. He said, “If you will withdraw your men 30 rods, I will come out and we’ll shoot it out.” We could hear Booth accusing the man who was with him, David E. Harold, of being a coward. Harold was willing to surrender and Booth said, “You’re a coward to desert me.” Finally, Booth called out and said, “Harold will surrender, but I will not.” Our captain said, “Tell Harold to pass out his arms and come out.” Booth said, “Harold has no arms. They belong to me.” “Our officer told Harold to come to the door. He came and as he opened the door Lieutenant Dougherty grabbed him and pulled him out. With a picket rope he tied him to a locust tree, called me and told me to guard him. I said to Harold, “Who was in the barn with you? Was it Booth?” He said, “Yes, Booth is in the barn.” and he added, “Booth told me, when he asked me to help him, that he was going to kidnap Lincoln: he didn’t tell me he was going to kill him.” I said, “When you learned that Booth had killed Lincoln, why did you help him to escape?” Harold said, “Booth threatened to kill me if I didn’t help him get away. Booth came out of the rear of the theatre immediately after shooting Lincoln and we went to Dr. Mudd’s home. After Dr. Mudd had set Booth’s leg we went to Port Tobacco and hid that day. That night we got a fisherman to take us over the river into Virginia. It was so rough that the fisherman said it was unsafe, but Booth told him we had to cross at once and he would kill him if he didn’t take us.” “Once more the officer summoned Booth to surrender. Booth responded, “I’ll fight you single handed, but I’ll never surrender.” Detective Conger went to the opposite side of the barn and lit some loose straw under the sill. I heard a shot and a moment later saw the door was open. Booth had been shot through the neck. They brought him out, carried him to the Garrett house and put him on the porch. A soldier was sent to Port Royal for a doctor, who arrived about daylight. Meanwhile, the barn had burned down and some of the men were hunting in the ruins for relics. They found two revolvers and one of our boys got Booth’s carbine. The revolvers were spoiled by the fire. Booth lived about three hours. He was wrapped in a government blanket, his body was placed in a old wagon and a Negro drove the rig to Acquia Creek, which we reached at dusk.”One of the Turner daughters would lease the property to two other families who turned the house into a type of duplex. One side was leased to Samuel Andrew McGinniss and the other to an unknown African-American family. The house was sold in 1893 to John Tayloe Thornton for $9,900.00 with part being paid in cash and the other being secured after the deed was executed. The Thornton family held it until 1906 and then it passed to the Jack family for a decade, then the South and West Improvement Company. The Hooker Family bought it in 1930 and owned it until 1987.
Belle Grove eventually fell into decline until it was bought by the Haas Corporation of Austria on August 28, 1987. The Haas Corporation had an office in Richmond and was responsible for making the equipment that makes waffle ice-cream cones and all sorts of wafers, cookies and crackers. A major restoration wouldn't begin until 1997 and it was just in time as the house was nearly on the brink of collapse. To keep the house looking more original, contractors made unique fixes to certain items. For example, they hollowed out wooden columns and filled them with an acrylic substance. The slate roof was replaced with a copper one. One of the interesting things found during the restoration is no war damage to the house. So it probably received no cannon or musket fire. Another unique feature is that in the 1870s and 80s, curved front walls and porches were added to the home and so curved doors were fashioned from single, large-trunked trees. Crews working on the restoration had never seen such doors before. I've seen them in two houses that I've visited, one being the Sorrell Weed House. Today, Belle Grove Plantation stretches over 600 acres and that house itself sits on 20 acres and has 7,200 finished square feet with 11 fireplaces (both wood and gas) and 11 full and half bathrooms. A new kitchen with top-of-the-line appliances has replaced the smaller, obsolete kitchen that was elsewhere in the house. Brett and Michelle Darnell purchased it in July 2011 and have transformed it into a world class bed and breakfast.
Many guests and the Darnells themselves claim that the house is haunted. The rumors of hauntings caught the attention of SyFy's Ghost Hunters and they featured it in the "Dead Presidents" episode.
A total of 23 full body apparitions have been reported since March 2013. Most of these are Union soldiers who are seen standing guard at entry posts or walking in the fields. There are also two ghost cats. Visitors and staff have heard their disembodied meowing and felt them walk across beds during the night or even curl up on the pillow beside them! One guest claimed to actually see the cat and couldn't believe it when the Darnells said that they had no cats. Ghostly faces and orbs with faces have been captured in pictures.
Michelle Darnell says that the more well known ghosts are a girl dressed in white who stands on the balcony, an African–American girl in a yellow dress that wears a turban and is carrying an object and an apparition of a soldier that has been so clear that Michelle says she could see the color of his hair. Michelle said, "Back in September, 2012, our caretaker and his family were living in our quarters in the mansion as their home was without power due to an electrical fire. They told us during their stay, they woke up around 4am in the morning to what sounded like a rubber ball bouncing on the floor. It really scared them. To this day, the caretaker’s wife doesn’t like to come in at night alone. Just after this event, I started having 'things' happen during our visits to the mansion. (This was before I moved up in April 2013.) I had heard if you set down the 'rules' with the ghosts, for the most part they would follow them. So that is just what I did. My rules are as follows:
1. You can’t call or whisper my name
2. I don’t need to hear footsteps or door slams to let me know that you are here, because I know you are here.
3. I don’t want to see you because it can scare me.
4. If we have guests that are afraid of ghosts, we ask that you don’t make your presents known. We don’t want people scare of the mansion because we have to make money to keep the doors open.
5. If a guest comes and is wanting to see or talk to you and you are up for it, then you have our blessing. Go for it.
6. When I am in my room (which is in the mansion) and my door is closed, you aren’t to come in. I don’t want to see you standing in the room or wake to see you watching me. This is my space and I need to feel safe.
Since I made the “rules” things have really calmed down. For the most part, they seem to understand and comply with them."
The Darnells had a medium come into the home in December of 2012. Her name was Laine Crosby and she claimed that there were two boys (twins) that were standing at a door. She told them to come in, but they claimed that they could not because ”Mama says we can’t play in there any more.” Laine also explained that the boys said that they were the ones who bounced the ball. She didn't know what they were talking about, but Michelle did. The ball continues to bounce every so often in the second floor hall. There are reports of a boy named Jacob bouncing a ball in the house and I wonder if he is one of these twins. He is described as being mischievous in his nature and loves to move and even steal kitchen utensils from time to time. Paranormal teams have recorded EVP’s of Jacob in the Turner Suite which is one of the most active spots in the entire building.
Michelle also said, "In July, 2013, one of our guest, who had stayed the night told me that she had heard a woman’s voice on the second floor, where she was sleeping. The woman called out, “Twins” in a song like manner. We figured the boys and their mom were now hanging out upstairs. This morning, around 4am, I woke and couldn’t get back to sleep. I sat up for an hour and watch a little television to relax myself and tried to get back to sleep around 5:30am. Just as I got comfortable, I heard at the end of the bed, a rubber ball bouncing. I knew at once it was the twin boys playing. These boys have been a little more active over the last month. They have gone as far as to hide my kitchen utensils from me only to return them later. So I knew they were being mischievous this morning. So I called them out saying. “Okay, you know you aren’t suppose to be in here. Please leave so I can sleep.” Just after I said that, I heard a woman’s voice say, “Come”. So I guess the boys were called down by their mother and she got them out of the room."
Michelle has seen soldiers countless times and said, "I saw four late one evening as I was leaving the house to go to dinner. It was just twilight, but I could still see pretty well. As I turn the corner of the walkway, there standing between me and my car were these four soldiers. Dressed as you would expect Civil War period, you could even make out their height and difference in looks. At this point I had seen so many, it had become common place. So I jokingly said, “Well you could have at least turned the light on.” The light is a motion detected light we have on the garage. We have two of them, one on each side. At the point I said this, I wasn’t close enough for it to turn on. But not a second later, the lights came on. Now they think it’s their job to turn them on. The last time was during a really bad storm that produced a tornado in the area. I was racing home to beat the storm. When I arrived at our white entry posts, the lights came on. I was over an acre away! I laughed and said, “Guys, I’m not there yet.” My husband said that he thought an animal could be triggering it. So on the way back to the house one night, just as we got halfway down the drive to the garage, the lights turned on. I looked at my husband and said, “See!”. There were no animals around.
The soldiers have also been seen by our overnight guests. One couple were leaving for dinner when they saw what looked like riding boots quickly crossing the driveway. They caught this when their headlights flashed around as they turned out of there parking space. Other soldiers we have seen – One standing guard at the white entry posts. He had a gun resting beside his leg as if he were standing at attention. Another was seen as we came home from dinner. As we drove down the highway that runs beside our property, I saw a soldier cross the highway and walk into our plantation field. Our plantation was held as a Union (Federal) headquarters from 1861 to the end of the war. General Burnside, General Robert E. Lee and General Stonewall Jackson have all been here.
One last sighting of a soldier happened when I first arrived. The next morning, I was up sweeping the formal dining room. We didn’t have any furniture at the time and I was just doing something to keep busy. As I glanced out of the formal dining room window, I saw a Union (Federal) soldier walking from the side of our porch along the outside wall area going towards the south side of the house. He had a blue shirt, untucked, black belt on the outside of his shirt, blue pants, a Union (Federal) cap with a symbol on top, no pack or gun and had brown hair that was shoulder length. He didn’t have glasses and he was walking with his head down so I couldn’t see his face!" Michelle says that she is not afraid to be in the house alone and feels almost comforted by the ghosts. Much of the activity has settled since the remodeling is done. And the Darnells feel that the ghosts are happy with them because they are remembering and honoring their past.
Southeast Virginia Paranormal Investigation hosted a ghost hunt in 2013 and reported, "On Saturday, in the Summer Kitchen, using the spirit box, Todd asked questions and was getting responses! He found that he was talking to someone named 'Robert.' 'Robert' stated that he was a visitor to the plantation during the Conway period. He also stated that he had died from being hung. He stated that he was hung by someone named 'Edward.' From what I know of the plantation and its history, I do not have any confirmation that anyone was hung here. But of course, things happened that were never reported or recorded." They also had experiences in the Turner Suite using a ghost box. A man and woman came through. The Belle Grove website says, "The woman didn’t speak much, but the man did. When Todd ask if the man could see him, the answer was “Yes”. Todd asked if the man could see him all the time and the answer was “No”. Todd asked him what he (Todd) had on his head and the man answered “hat”. Todd started waving his hand. He asked the man what he (Todd) was doing. The man answered “waving”. Todd grabbed his vest that he was wearing and pulled on it. Todd asked the man what he was pulling. The man answered “vest”. When Todd asked the man his name or time period, the man would not answer."
The Ghost Hunters caught evidence on their investigation in 2014 as well that seems to back-up many of the claims made by the Darnells and their guests. Jason and Steve heard growling, Tango and Sam heard a whistling noise and the team agreed that the basement definitely was haunted. Regular ghost hunts are hosted at the house and a Facebook page details their findings. It would seem that the plantation is not only famous for its rich history, but also for its plethora of spirits. Is Belle Grove Plantation haunted? That is for you to decide!
Thursday, August 16, 2018
Moment in Oddity - Qin Shi Huang's Tomb
One of the most incredible tombs ever made by man can be found in China. This is a large underground mausoleum that is mostly unopened. It was built for Ying Zheng who had ascended the throne at the age of 13. He ruled over the powerful state of Qin and proved to be a bold and fearless leader. He managed to unify China and this made him the first emperor of China. He commissioned the building of the Great Wall, roads and many scientific breakthroughs happened under his rule. This allseems to have gone to his head and he renamed himself “Qin Shi Huang,” loosely “The Son of Heaven.” He declared himself a god and became obsessed with immortality. He believed he would one day rule from the center of the universe. He ordered his alchemists to find a formula that would allow him to never die. One such remedy was thought to be mercury and Huang would drink it on a regular basis. Nothing seemed to work, so he focused on building the greatest tomb. The grand mausoleum was designed to resemble the capital of Qin, Xianyang and it was a city unto itself. Seven hundred thousand laborers worked on the tomb and took 38 years to complete and measures 38 square miles. The Emperor had died before the construction was finished, so he did not get to see just how massive his final resting place was, complete with an army of terra cotta soldiers. The underground mausoleum was discovered in 1974 by local farmers. Excavations began and it is estimated that the tomb holds more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, all of which were painted and represented a real person. What remains unseen is believed to be even more mind blowing.Records indicate that in the tomb were palaces and scenic towers, priceless artifacts and a vast ceiling inlaid with the stars and constellations of the heavens. Apparently, two rivers of mercury flowed through the tomb as well. There are claims of treasures that have been booby-trapped and curses for those disturbing the mausoleum. In 2012, a massive Imperial Palace was found inside with an earthen pyramid inside of it believed to be where the Emperor's body is laid to rest. The necropolis of First Emperor Qin Shi Huang has gone on to become one of the most important archeological discoveries ever made with the terracotta soldiers making tours around the world, but building such a massive grave and then hiding it away from the world for centuries, certainly is odd!
This Month in History - The Sacco and Vanzetti Case
In the month of August on the 23rd, in 1927, Italian immigrants Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were electrocuted in Massachusetts having been convicted of murder without evidence. The case against them claimed that the two men had killed a guard and a paymaster while robbing a shoe factory. There was no evidence connecting either man to the crime and eventually another man admitted committing the crime with an organized criminal gang. The men had radical political views and many believe the jury was prejudiced against them for this reason. They also were Italian, which seemed to be another mark against them. As they sat on death row for the seven years after their convictions, worldwide protests grew. The matter became the center of one of the largest causes célèbres in modern history and riots broke out in major cities from Chicago to New York to Tokyo to Aukland to Johannesburg. On the 50th anniversary of the executions, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis issued a proclamation that declared Sacco and Vanzetti had been unfairly convicted and that "any disgrace should be forever removed from their names".
Haunted Castles of Denmark
Denmark is a land that has had people living on it since the Last Ice Age. This gives it an ancient history and while it is not considered a powerful nation today, it once ruled much of Europe with an iron fist. This history contains stories of wars, revolutions, political intrigue, religious conflict, Vikings and one of the oldest monarchies. The Danes are believed to have been in Denmark since 500 AD. The Middle Ages were a great time of power for the Danes and they ruled over England and united with Sweden and Norway. The monarchy of Denmark lasted for centuries and many of these nobles made castles their homes. Voregaard Castle is one of the most well preserved castles dating back to the Renaissance and today is home to a beautiful art collection. The castle also houses a spirit. Kronburg Castle was made famous by Hamlet and has a few ghosts of its own. Dragsholm Castle has been converted into a luxury hotel with a golf course, but it has more than just a reputation for being a nice place to get away to on a holiday. Dragsholm is reputedly the most haunted castle in Denmark. Join me as I share the history and hauntings of the castles of Denmark.
Voergaard Castle is on the North Jutland peninsula, which became an island in 1825 when a storm connected the North Sea and the fjord Limfjorden. The castle is about six miles or 10 kilometers from the small town of Dronninglund. Voergaard is considered one of the country's best-preserved renaissance castles, but historians are unsure of when it was built. Recorded history of Voergaard goes back to 1481. The castle was bought around 1510 by the Bishop of Børglum. It was taken by Skipper Clement's army of peasants and confiscated by the Crown after the Reformation in 1536. In 1578, King Frederick II ceded the property to Karen Krabbe in exchange for Nygaard, an estate located between Vejle and Kolding. Krabbe's daughter, Ingeborg Skeel, took over the property from her mother and carried out an expansion and restoration in 1588.
In 1872, Voergaard was purchased by Peder Brønnum Scavenius who was a politician and land owner. He managed to get back much of the original land and by the time of his death in 1914, the estate covered 4800 acres making it one of the largest properties in Denmark at the time. His son Erik Scavenius became the next owner. He was the Danish Prime Minister during World War II and owned Voergaard from 1914 to 1945. In 1955, the castle was bought by Ejnar Oberbech-Clausen, a Dane who became a count through marriage. His wife, Marie Henriette Chenu-Lafitte was the daughter of Jules-Émile Péan, one of the great French surgeons of the 19th century. Oberbech-Clausen returned to his native Denmark after his wife was killed in an air raid and he bought the castle. He brought 12 train cars of art with him back to Denmark and began the restoration of the castle. After his death in 1963, the castle and collections were passed to a foundation and opened to the public.
Today, the castle continues to house a unique and comprehensive collection of European art that includes works by Goya, Rubens, and Raphael, furniture belonging to both Louis XIV and Louis XVI, carpets, jewellery and porcelain. The castle has a Roman Catholic chapel which was used by the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Voergaard is a two-winged, L-shaped castle built in the Renaissance style out of red brick. The east wing is flanked by two octagonal corner towers with a gateway and sandstone portal. The large park around the castle was laid out in 1768. In 1955 it was re-designed in the French style. Buildings in the grounds include a half-timbered building which in the 18th and 19th century was used by Voer Birk, a manor court where people who had committed local misdemeanors and petty crimes would be tried.
The castle has been considered haunted ever since the early 1600s. One reason there are hauntings going on here could be because of the castle's infamous dungeon that had no light, ventilation, or room for a grown man to sit or stand. No one is sure how many people lost their lives within its walls, but one can imagine that the torture that happened here would lead to some bad energy. Many of the darker stories about Voergaard Castle have to do with one of the owners, Ingeborg Skeel. She was a merciless noblewoman who had the architect working on the rebuild of the castle killed. Some claim that she pushed the man herself into the moat around the castle so she wouldn't have to pay him. She cut off the fingers of peasant children who stole grain from her fields. Ingeborg was considered cruel and greedy and she seems to be holding on to the castle even after her death. Priests have been called in for decades after her death to perform exorcisms. Legends claim that Skeel was a witch and had a pact with the devil and that is why she remains. Her apparition has been seen all around the castle. She blows out candles and gets annoyed when the door to a corridor on the upper floor of the east wing is closed.
Most employees seem happy to have the ghost there. One employee, Ole Senkbæk, said, “I’m happy for her to be here. We get a lot of visitors hoping to see her.” He had experience with the spirit. One night about a year ago, after he had neglected to turn off the lights in a corridor next to the banquet hall, he noticed a door shut that shouldn’t have been. He attributes this to Skeel, who was giving him a sign that he needed to turn the light off there.
There is another legend attached to the manor house. This one is about a wild boar hide that hangs within it. This legend claims that if the hide is ever removed, the castle will burn down. People also claim that the dungeons have listening channels built into the walls through which they can hear prisoners groaning. And there is an infamous blood spot on the floor of the northeast tower. People have tried to remove the spot, but it always returns. The tower room also has knocking sounds that are inexplicable.
Kronborg is a castle found on the extreme northeastern tip of the island of Zealand. This Renaissance Castle became famous when William Shakespeare used it as inspiration for the castle Elsinore in his play "Hamlet." The castle was built by King Eric VII in the 1420s. King Frederick II rebuilt the castle from 1574 to 1585. The main architects were the Flemings Hans Hendrik van Paesschen and Anthonis van Obbergen. The sculptural work was done by Gert van Groningen. In 1629 a fire destroyed much of the castle, but King Christian IV subsequently had it rebuilt. The Swedes attacked in 1658 and looted all of its treasures. In 1785, the castle ceased to be a royal residence and was converted into barracks for the army and they stayed until 1923. It was then renovated and opened to the public. It was added to UNESCO's World Heritage Sites in 2000.
Employees at the site claim that the place is haunted. A new restaurant was built some time ago that is called Kronvaerket and one of the staff, Jeannett Pedersen, claimed, "Windows and doors fly open, stacks of paper disappear and reappear elsewhere, and tables set themselves." Many other employees have reported experiencing strange things. They have seen two inexplicable gray shadows waft by and seen the ghost of an old man in the kitchen. Employees say the spirts seem to be good-natured. A transparent entity of a soldier has been seen walking through the walls, shadows have been seen in the windows, screams have been heard and the disembodied voices of soldiers and horses have been heard. Local paranormal teams claim feelings of being watched, hearing disembodied footsteps, batteries draining and capturing EVPs.
Ghost Hunters International investigated the site. One of the teams, Barry and Kris, heared noises and footsteps and saw a shadow in the Great Hall. Another team claimed to get a bad feeling. Perhaps the most compelling evidence was of the multi-meter experiment set up by Paul and Susan in the basement. The flashlight moves slightly and the EMF reader spikes to a 0.6 and the temperature gauge goes up by several degrees. This is not huge evidence, but all three things happening at the same time does make one wonder.
Dragsholm Castle is reportedly the most haunted castle in Denmark. The castle is located on the island of Zealand and was built as a palace in 1215 for Peder Sunesen, Bishop of Roskilde. The castle was heavily fortified through the years and for this reason, was a favorite for naobles to use as a living quarters. Dragsholm was the only castle to survive Denmark’s civil war of 1534-6, which was known as the Count’s Feud because it was waged by Count Christoffer who supported the Catholic King Christian II until the election of Christian III deposed him. The castle passed into the hands of King Christian III after the Protestant Reformation. The castle would no longer be a home for nobles, but rather a prison for them.
This would be a dark period and as Lutheranism spread, Catholicism was outlawed and bishops were imprisoned at the castle. Among the prisoners were a number of rather famous inmates, such as Joachim Rønnow, who was the last Catholic Bishop of Roskilde and James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell and third husband to Mary, Queen of Scots. The prisoners were assigned to cells custom built to fit their crimes, actions, and nature of their behavior toward the King. When the armies of Charles X Gustav of Sweden invaded Zealand, Dragsholm’s defenders attempted to blow it up. The castle lay in ruins until King Christian V passed the castle onto Heinrich Muller, a grocer. He owed the man money and this was to cover his debt. Muller restored the castle. In 1694, nobleman Frederik Christian Adeler bought Dragsholm and rebuilt it as a baroque castle. The Adeler family held onto it until 1932 when the family died off. Denmark’s Central Land Board became the owner of Dragsholm Castle. In 1939, the Central Land Board sold Dragsholm Castle to J.F. Bottger, but only included the land belonging to the main estate. The Bottger family preserved the Baroque style of the castle, but extensively restored and modernized the interior.
There are reputedly nearly 100 ghosts living within the castle. Five of them are fairly well known: the Earl of Bothwell, the Mad Squire, the White Lady, the Bishop and the Grey Lady. The Earl of Bothwell was Mary, Queen of Scots third husband, James Hepburn. Hepburn always seemed to be in trouble and he ended up fleeing for his life from Scotland in 1567. A storm forced his ship to land in Norway, which was ruled by Denmark at the time and he was arrested for not having the correct identification papers. Upon further investigation, it was discovered that Hepburn had run off with his former fiance's dowry and it was thought he had murdered Queen Mary's second husband. King Frederik II of Denmark imprisoned him at Dragsholm and reportedly he was barely given enough food and water to keep him alive. He was tied to a pillar and eventually went mad and died in 1576 or 1578. His spirit has haunted the castle ever since and visitors claim to see him riding into the courtyard of the castle in his carriage being pulled by horses. The sound of horses hooves have been heard in the cobbled yard as well.
Our next spirit is known as the Mad Squire. His real name was Ejler Brockenhuus and he was part of the noble Danish Brockenhuus family. The family began in Denmark with Oluf Brockenhuus who fought in the wars with Sweden and Norway and expanded into a Norwegian branch. Ejler was chained in the dungeon and left to die and guests claim to hear his groans float up the stairs.
Our Lady in White makes an appearance at Dragsholm. It is believed that in life she was Celina Bovles, a daughter of the Bovles family of nobles. As is the case so many times, she fell in love with a man her family did not approve of. He was a commoner and he ended up getting her pregnant. Her father was enraged and locked her in the dungeon where she died. And before we relegate this story to legend, it is interesting to note that workmen were repairing the plumbing at Dragsholm in the 1930s and they discovered a skeleton wearing a white dress inside one of the walls. Witnesses claim to have seen a woman wearing white walking around the castle at night and that she occasionally moans in sorrow because she is looking for her lost love.
Joachim Ronnow was the last Catholic Bishop of Roskilde was supposedly imprisoned in Dragsholm Castle in 1536. He did not die here, but some claim that they have heard his moans in the tower the sound of Catholic chanting.
The Gray Lady was a woman who was a servant at Dragsholm. She came to work one day in agony because of a toothache. The master of the castle gave her a poultice that cured it, but she eventually died. Her spirit is said to remain here because she was so grateful for the relief she got from her toothache. She is seen in spirit form as a gray mass or full-bodied apparition wandering the halls of the castle and she is said to perform good deeds for visitors.
These castles in Denmark are reminders of a long history of nobility. The spirits are a supernatural reminder. Are these castles haunted? That is for you to decide!
Wednesday, August 1, 2018
Moment in Oddity - Takanakuy
Suggested by: Anthony Ortiz
The mountain folk who have carved out the town of Santo Tomas in the Peruvian Andes observe a very peculiar festival called Takanakuy. These are people who have to be tough because of the area where they live that features steep inclines and craggy slopes. So it isn't real surprising that this festival basically consists of town members beating the tar out of each other. Yep, that's right, this is one big fight party. The tradition starts with a few days of heavy drinking and dancing in Andean horse-riding costumes and then on Christmas morning, everybody meets at the local bullfighting ring. Everybody pairs off, generally with someone they have a beef with perhaps because of a property dispute or stealing some sheep or even spilling a drink. They wrap their hands with scarves and proceed to beat each other. Referees circle the fight with whips to make sure fights aren't one-sided and there is no hitting someone on the ground. Participants are bound by the result of the match. I'm not sure exactly how they decide who wins, perhaps the one bleeding less or still conscience, but holding a festival dedicated to the pummeling of a neighbor, certainly is odd!
This Month in History - The Nautilus Crosses Under North Pole
In the month of August, on the 3rd, in 1958, a nuclear powered submarine called The Nautilus was the first submarine to cross the North Pole under water. The USS Nautilus was built under the direction of U.S. Navy Captain Hyman G. Rickover and was the first nuclear submarine. Rickover was a Russian-born engineer who was in charge of the navy's nuclear-propulsion program. The Nautilus was 319 feet, displaced 3,180 tons and could travel over 20 knots. It could remain submerged for almost unlimited periods of time because its atomic engine needed no air. On January 21, 1954, first lady Mamie Eisenhower broke a bottle of champagne across the bow of the Nautilus and it launched into the Thames River at Groton, Connecticut. On July 23, 1958, the submarine departed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, with 116 crew on board for a mission dubbed “Operation Northwest Passage.” It continued to Point Barrow, Alaska, and traveled nearly 1,000 miles under the Arctic ice cap to reach the top of the world. After a career spanning 25 years and almost 500,000 miles steamed, the Nautilus was decommissioned on March 3, 1980.
Haunted Cemeteries 10
Spooktacular Crew Member Lynn Weingarden-Marston said, "I have traveled all over the world. The quickest way to find out about the history of a city or town for that matter is the Graveyard! You can see the whole history of a town or area on the tomb stones. From what was the main industry of the town to plagues and outbreaks of illness. Life expectancy to infant mortality." And that really says it all about cemeteries. They are one of the best historical records of an area. And they are the best place to pay our respects to those who have gone on before us. In this episode, I feature four cemeteries that have reports of paranormal activity. these are Waverly Hall cemetery in Georgia, El Campo Santo Cemetery in San Diego, Bayview Cemetery in Bellingham, Washington and Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans. Join me as we explore these historic graveyards!
Waverly Hall Cemetery in Georgia
Waverly Hall is a small town in Harris County, Georgia. The cemetery here is named for the town and has about 800 burials. One of the oldest graves belongs to the Reverend Thomas Darley who was born in 1760 and died in 1832. He was a Revolutionary War officer that went on to become a Methodist minister who founded many Methodist churches throughout South Carolina and Georgia.
The Waverly Hall Cemetery appears to be quite haunted. A couple traveling to Lanett, Alabama had heard about the cemetery and decided to stop and check it out. They took a few pictures on a digital camera and then left just before dark, mainly because they were feeling sick. The woman became distressed as she scrolled through the pictures. She saw something that startled her and asked her boyfriend to pull over so she could show him. As he started to do that, the pictures vanished. All of them. Including ones that had been on the camera for quite a while. They went to a CVS to get the memory card checked out and an employee told them the card was bad. They replaced it and the camera worked fine. They returned to the car and the woman told her boyfriend that she was really creeped out because the worker in the store looked just like the spirit woman she had seen in the pictures. Several paranormal investigators have investigated the cemetery and one claimed to have stepped out of his car and heard an inhuman screech and the sound of someone running toward him. There are reports of many EVPs captured, cold spots and full-bodied apparitions.
El Campo Santo Cemetery in San Diego
El Campo Santo Cemetery is located near the Old Town San Diego Historic Park where the Whaley House is located. The cemetery was founded in 1849 by the Catholic church. This graveyard was once much larger and now only has about 450 graves that can be seen. So yes, this means that parts of Old Town are built over the former cemetery grounds. The encroachment of the living on the dead started with a simple horse-drawn street car line that went through the cemetery, right over 18 graves. This road eventually became San Diego Boulevard. Many graves were moved as the land was needed for building. But not all of them were moved. This has caused issues with hauntings, not just for businesses and houses in the area, but also for the cemetery.
Several full-bodied apparitions have been seen throughout the decades, hanging around outside of the brick walls that surround the small graveyard. Occasionally, the cemetery hosts tours with employees dressed up in period clothing and sharing stories about some of the burials. Several times, people have thought they were talking to a costumed employee only to find out that whoever they were talking to was not a member of the staff or the figure has vanished before their very eyes. Some people claim to have seen legless apparitions, so only their top half can be seen. Cold spots that are described as freezing have been reported. Even more peculiar is that some people who park their cars in the parking lot in front of the graveyard have had trouble starting their cars.
A paranormal team went into the graveyard to do an investigation in 2003 and they reported:
02/15/03 - CSGR went with a team to investigate the graveyard. While no EMF readings were found along the walls, a jump in the readings happened in the middle of the cemetery. Team member Psychic Virginia Marco saw a young boy, trapped and confused. Also a grave digger entity was seen, who visits the place, according to Marco's report. Psychic Virginia Marco was able to help the little boy find his way to the light. The CSGR team reports a fairly peaceful cemetery, which basically has calmed down a lot since 1996, after ultrasound equipment found 18 graves (mostly children) under the pavement behind the cemetery and 20 graves( all ages) in the parking lot in front. Two plaques memorializing these graves were hung in the front and the back of the cemetery.Bayview Cemetery - Bellingham, Washington (Suggested by: Melisa Nelson)
The city of Bellingham in Washington State was named for Sir William Bellingham, who was the comptroller of the storekeeper's account for the Royal Navy. The first Caucasian settlers came in the 1850s with the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush. At the same time, coal was discovered in the area and that mining industry would hold until the 1950s. Bellingham officially incorporated in 1903. There was a need for a cemetery with the growing population of miners and other people and so the Bayview Cemetery was founded in 1887. The first burial was in 1888. This cemetery is the final resting place of the founding families of Whatcom County and Bellingham was originally known as Whatcom. Bayview started at just 10 acres, but 12 more were added later. There are several well known people buried here and many fascinating stories.
One of the burials here is for Matthew Bickford. He was born in 1839 and served in the Civil War as a Corporal in Company G, 8th Missouri Volunteer Infantry. For bravery at Vicksburg, Mississippi, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. His citation reads “Gallantry in the charge of the "volunteer storming party." A former governor of Washington is buried here, Albert E. Mead. He served as Governor of Washington from 1905 to 1909 and had been the Mayor of Blaine, Washington and a member of the Washington State House of Representatives.
Ella Rhoads Higginson was an American author and writer known for her poetry, fiction and nonfiction. She wrote for many magazines and from 1900 to 1904, she wrote a weekly column titled “Clover Leaves” for the Seattle Times newspaper. The work that she is most known for is her poem "Four Leaf Clover," which was first published by Oregon’s West Shore magazine in 1890. Higginson was named the first Poet Laureate of Washington State in 1931. She was born in Kansas and raised in Oregon and moved to Bellingham in 1888 with her husband. She died in Bellingham, Washington in 1940. Her burial has a large semicircular concrete bench around a monument topped with a concrete cross. the base reads, "Yet, am I not for pity - trembling I have come face to face with God."
Thomas S. Dahlquist has a simple tombstone. He started the Bellingham Bay Grocery Company and a car dealership with several floors above these businesses with rooms as a hotel. The Dahlquist Building still stands today and was one of the first reinforced concrete buildings erected in Bellingham.
A victim of one of the most notorious murders in Bellingham is buried at Bayview, Frederick Dames. Dames owned a butcher shop and that is where he was found bludgeoned to death in 1905 by his thirteen year old delivery boy. His skull was pinned to the ground with a screwdriver and the top of his head chopped off. This was assumed to be a robbery that went bad, but eventually police pinned the murder on Maple Falls man who had killed a woman he was engaged to for her money. He also was thought to have killed three other people and he was in Bellingham at the time of Dames' murder. Side note: The Redlight Bar now is in the location of Dames' butcher shop and if you look up at the ceiling, a row of meat hooks is still mounted there.
And another more well known burial is that of Issac Smith Kalloch who was a Baptist minister turned politician. He decided to run for mayor of San Francisco in 1879, which was a hotly contested seat at that time because the Editor-in-Chief of the San Francsico Chronicle, Charles DeYoung, wanted another to win. This was prior to the time that yellow journalism took hold of newspapers, but DeYoung's tactics would fit that description. Because he wanted another candidate to win, DeYoung started attacking Kalloch and accused him of having an affair. And in case anyone thought mudslinging during campaigns was a more modern day thing, Kalloch responded to these accusations with one of his own: that DeYoung's mother ran a brothel. DeYoung took things to the next level when he shot Kalloch twice on the street. The Reverend survived and got the sympathy vote and was elected the 18th Mayor of San Francisco. He served from 1879 until 1881. The story doesn't end here. On April 23, 1880, Kalloch's son Isaac went into the Chronicle building and shot and killed Charles DeYoung. Kalloch moved to the Washington Terrirtory after his stint as mayor and it is there that he died in 1887 at the age of 55.
Mark Twain was so taken with the way that New Orleans built its cemeteries with above ground burials that he called New Orleans cemeteries, the “Cities of the Dead.” Metairie Cemetery was founded on land that had previously been a horse racing track. The race track was owned by the Metairie Jockey Club. Charles T. Howard had made his wealth by starting the first Louisiana State Lottery and he asked the club for a membership. They refused membership and Howard vowed that the race course would become a cemetery. One of the more famous races there was the Lexington-Lecomte Race, which took place on April 1, 1854 and was advertised as the "North Against the South" race. Former President Millard Fillmore attended.
No racing took place during the Civil War and the grounds were used as a Confederate Camp named Camp Moore until 1862 when the Union took New Orleans. After Reconstruction, the track went bankrupt and the land was sold off for a cemetery, bringing Henry's vow or curse to fruition. Metairie Cemetery was established in 1872 by the Metairie Cemetery Association. The designer was Colonel Benjamin Morgan Henry and he refused to destroy the foundation of the horse race track, so upon visiting, one will notice that the cemetery and its tombs are laid out within the concentric oval patterns of the original track. The cemetery was eventually taken over by Stewart Enterprises, Inc., of Jefferson, Louisiana and then in 2013, Service Corporation International bought Metairie Cemetery.
What is today the back exit, used to be a grand front entrance with an ivy-draped archway. Metairie Cemetery is amazing for those of us that like beautiful and unique monuments and memorials. It has the most monuments and memorials of any of the cemeteries in New Orleans. One such memorial, the Foto family, features the statue of an angel who has a star on her forehead. This indicates that she has come from heaven. Her right hand is lifted and holds the head of a flower that she is going to drop as though it were a blessing. Her left hand is clutching at material that overlays her gown. The graveyard features a tumulus, which is a manmade hill very similar to those built by the ancient mound builders. The monument includes two notable works by sculptor Alexander Doyle. There is the 1877 equestrian statue of General Albert Sidney Johnston on his horse "Fire-eater", holding binoculars in his right hand and the other is an 1885 life size statue that represents a Confederate officer about to read the roll of the dead during the American Civil War. This tumulus features burials of the Louisiana Division of the Army of Tennessee. These were Civil War veterans that fill the 48 niches and one of these belongs to General Pierre G.T. Beauregard. For those of you who got to see my video on Fort Sumter, you know how pivotal he was to the beginning of the Civil War. He was also key in convincing Jefferson Davis to end the war. Even though he had been a Confederate general, Beauregard spent the rest of his life advocating for civil rights for blacks. He died in his sleep in New Orleans from what is thought to be a heartattack.
The Egan family has an unusual monument. It was designed to look like a ruin with a marble archway open to the sky that resembles a Gothic chapel on their property in Ireland. The blocks were distressed to make them look old and even the nameplate looks as though it had been dropped and cracked. The Brunswig Tomb is a granite pyramid that is quite tall. The statue of a Greek maiden is standing outside and has her hand raised as though she is knocking on the tomb's door. There is a tall Roman urn behind her with an eternal marble flame frozen in its mouth. A sphinx crouches across the entryway.
There are many famous burials here. Interestingly enough, one of the burials here belongs to Charles Howard who died in 1885 when he fell off a horse he had just purchased. His tomb is located on Central Avenue. Andrew Higgins is buried here. He was the inventor of the Higgins Boat. He founded Higgins Industries, the New Orleans-based manufacturer of "Higgins boats" (LCVPs) during World War II. They were small at first, but later became one of the biggest industries in the world with upwards of eighty thousand workers and government contracts worth nearly three hundred fifty million dollars. General Dwight Eisenhower is quoted as saying, "Andrew Higgins ... is the man who won the war for us. ... If Higgins had not designed and built those LCVPs, we never could have landed over an open beach. The whole strategy of the war would have been different."
Josie Arlington, the most notorious madam in New Orleans is buried here, but is no longer buried in her original tomb. She died in 1914 and was placed in a tomb designed by Albert Weiblen. The memorial features a bronze female figure. The grave became a tourist attraction because of her reputation and her family was mortified so they had the body moved. Arlington was born Mary Deubler and started her life in prostitution at the age of seventeen. She was known to have a quick temper and to be a spunky fighter. She wanted the classiest brothel in town and she made it happen. Soon it was the wealthiest and most sought out brothel in New Orleans. Her girls got $5.00 an hour! She suffered from early dementia and died when she was only 50. And speaking of red-light districts, Mayor Martin “Papa” Behrman is here and he wholly supported the civic implementation of Storyville, New Orleans’ legal red-light district, at the turn of the twentieth century. Behrman traveled to Washington, D.C. in 1917 when there was a threat to shut down Storyville and he said, “You can make it illegal, but you can’t make it unpopular.”
Police Chief David Hennessy was murdered and this sparked a riot. His most known capture was of an Italian criminal named Giuseppe Esposito. He was murdered by a group of Italian men and a sensational trial followed in 1890. Nineteen men had been indicted for his murder, but there were a series of acquittals and mistrials and this angered locals. They formed a mob and forced the prison's doors and lynched 11 of those 19 men on March 14, 1891. This was the largest known mass lynching in U.S. history. Hennessy is buried under a tall column with a draped urn atop it. Louisiana songwriter Fred Bessel published a bestselling song about Hennessy in 1891, titled "The Hennessy Murder." It begins:
Kind friends if you will list to me a sad story I'll relate,
'Tis of the brave Chief Hennessy and how he met his fate
On that quiet Autumn Evening when all nature seemed at rest,
This good man was shot to death; may his soul rest with the blest.
A couple of restaurateurs are buried here: Al Copeland who founded Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen and Ruth U. Fertel who founded Ruth's Chris Steak House. Anne Rice's husband, the poet Stan Rice is buried here as well. John Bernecker was an American stunt performer who had worked on over 90 films and television series, including Jonah Hex, Green Lantern, The Hunger Games film series, Logan and Black Panther. He was performing stunts for the television series "The Walking Dead" on July 12, 2017 when a stunt went horribly wrong. Bernecker fell 20 feet onto a concrete floor, missing a placed safety cushion by "inches" and sustained a severe head injury. He died from his injuries the next day and was buried at Metairie.
Louis Leo Prima was an Italian American singer, actor, songwriter, bandleader, and trumpeter known as the King of Swing. Prima made prominent use of Italian music and language in his songs, blending elements of his Italian identity with jazz and swing music. Pelius Benton Steward was Lousiiana's only black governor and he served for just 35 days. He was born in 1837 to a white father and a mother of mixed race. He worked as a Mississippi River boat captain and also served in the Civil War. He became governor during Reconstruction after he was serving as Lieutenant Governor and the governor was impeached. He was buried in a private family tomb in Metairie Cemetery. John Gerald Schwegmann Jr. was a pioneer in the development of the modern supermarket and he owned eighteen stores in the New Orleans metropolitan area. He eventually got into politics as well and died in 1995.
Schwegmann was twice married and twice divorced. He outlived both wives by ten months, and the ex-wives died within three days of each other.
The most famous burial here is Jefferson Davis. He died in 1889 and was laid to rest beneath a 38-foot granite column marking the tomb of the Army of Northern Virginia. His wife later had his body moved to Richmond. Davis had been the president of the Confederate States of America. He had formerly been a member of Congress as both a Representative and Senator. He was not for secession originally, but clearly changed his mind. Because of his military and political background, he was quickly voted in as President. He moved the government to Richmond. He oversaw everything about the war effort, but respected the opinions of General Robert E. Lee as well. There were many strategic failures during the Civil War and he eventually had to surrender. He was imprisoned at Fortress Monroe. He was in jail for two years and then let out on bail and the case was dismissed. He ran away with his family to Canada. Eventually, he was pardoned by President Johnson and he went to England. He returned to America and later in life had a plantation. He became ill during a trip and died on December 6, 1889.
There are several stories about paranormal activity in Metairie. One of these stories is about the bronze female figure outside of Josie Arlington's former grave. There are claims that the figure leaves its post at the door of the monument and walks around the other graves. And early on, people claimed that the tomb would appear to burst into flames after dark. Two grave diggers said they witnessed the statue of the girl at the door vanish and walk about in the cemetery. And it is said she continues to do that to this day. The urn outside the memorial is said to glow red as well.
The ghost of David Hennessey is said to walk around the cemetery. His spirit is always dressed in his police uniform and witnesses wonder if he is protecting the cemetery from vandals and grave robbers. And Charles Howard who promised to make the race track into a cemetery apparently speaks around his grave. people swear that they hear a male voice at his grave and it is so loud that visitors passing by stop to glance at each other.
Are these historic cemeteries harboring not only the dead bodies of some well known people, but also their spirits? Are these cemeteries haunted? That is for you to decide!