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!