Thursday, October 4, 2018

Ep. 277 - Iron Island Museum

Moment in Oddity - The Koreshan State Historic Site

Many people have heard of the Hollow Earth Theory, but not many know that a cult of followers of this belief had once built their very own Utopia. Today, that Utopia is known as Koreshan State Historic Site. Cyrus Teed was born in 1839 and he became a physicist and alchemist. One day, Teed claimed that God spoke to him and told him to start a new religion. Teed was to take the name of Koresh and call this new religion Koreshanity. The core belief of the group was that the Earth and sky existed inside the inner surface of a sphere, which is one unique interpretation of the Hollow earth Theory. Teed claimed that Jesus was the sixth messiah and that he himself was the seventh messiah. In 1894, the group moved to the small Florida town of Estero and began building what they called "New Jerusalem." At their peak, the community had 250 residents. Teed died in 1908 and the group's numbers began to decline and the finally Koreshan died in 1961. The community was deeded to the state of Florida before that and was turned into a state historic site. So today, you can canoe the river near the Seven Sisters' Planetary Court and stop in to see the models of the Universe that have the Earth inside a concave sphere and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - First Double-decked Steamboat Arrives in New Orleans.

In the month of October, on the 7th, in 1816, the first double-decked steamboat, named the Washington, arrived at New Orleans. Henry M. Shreve designed The Washington and that design would prove to be ideal for western rivers. That original design included elements that we associate with the classic steamboat powering up the Mississippi: a two-story deck, a stern-mounted paddle wheel powered by a high-pressure steam engine, a shallow, flat-bottomed hull, and a pilothouse framed by two tall chimneys. The currents of the mighty Mississippi were tackled in record time for the Washington, which managed to reach Louisville in only 25 days after leaving New Orleans. The flat-bottomed hull was perfect for the shallow western rivers and The Washington started offering cargo and passenger service. Soon other paddlewheelers were produced and at the peak of the era, there were 740 steamboats traveling the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. The boom ended by the late 19th century as the railroad started taking over.

Iron Island Museum

The Iron Island Museum is said to be the perfect spooky spot for anyone in western New York to enjoy a little Halloween fun. For those of us who celebrate Halloween year round, this museum is the perfect spot for a ghostly encounter. The tales of experiences are numerous and this location has been featured in multiple paranormal television shows. The museum showcases the charming and proud history of the Lovejoy neighborhood in Buffalo. The memorabilia is a sight to see and the place is crammed so full, it takes several hours to enjoy it all. And perhaps this is why the place is so haunted, all that memorabilia. Or could it be the former use for the building causing the hauntings? Join me as I explore the history and hauntings of the Iron Island Museum.

Hearing the name Iron Island probably immediately makes one think that this location is located on an island somewhere, but that is not the case. Iron Island is the name given to the Lovejoy neighborhood in Buffalo, New York because it is bordered on its perimeter by railroad tracks. The neighborhood was settled by Italian, German and Irish immigrants. Migrants from the rural south would come later, but the area is dominated by Italians. The neighborhood gets its name from Sarah Lovejoy who was an American killed during the War of 1812 in December of 1813 during a British-Indian raid on Buffalo. Most of the men from the settlement went to Black Rock to defend against the British attack and Sarah remained behind with her 12-year-old son, Henry. When the British Native Americans arrived in Buffalo, Sarah sent Henry into the woods because she figured it would keep him safe from being kidnapped and that the raiders would not harm a woman. The Native Americans ransacked the house and Sarah fought with them as she tried to save her property. Legend claims she stated, “When my property goes, my life shall go with it.” During the melee, she was stabbed with a tomahawk and her body was dragged into the yard. The neighbors put her body in the house after the troops left, but the next day the British burned much of the settlement and Sarah's body was burned up with her house. There is a cenotaph in Forest Lawn Cemetery to honor Sarah and also a memorial in Mumford Rural Cemetery near her parents.

The Iron Island Museum is dedicated to preserving the memory of the Lovejoy neighborhood and it has its home in a building donated in August of 2000 by businessman Anthony Amigone. The building was formerly a church and a funeral home that dates back to the late 1800s. He decided to donate the property when he read about the efforts of the Iron Island Preservation Society of Lovejoy, Inc. The preservation society was formed in 1994 with the mission "to preserve and beautify the Iron Island neighborhood and improve the quality of life for the residents." They've done a lot of fundraisers to beautify the parks and held various events. The museum celebrated its grand opening in October of 2000 and features military uniforms, railroad memorabilia, a wooden altar from a neighborhood 1896 church and a model of the New York Central Terminal.

The history of the building starts with a small wooden church on the site in the late 1800s and a parsonage erected to the west at 994 Lovejoy Street. The brick church that is there now was erected in 1883 and opened in 1885 by a Methodist-Episcopal church. For some reason, the church building was abandoned for a short while starting in the 1940s and then bought in 1956 by a funeral director who used it as a funeral home, known as Church Funeral Home. An area with three viewing rooms was added inside and an apartment was attached. Three different funeral directors ran the home up until it was donated. Iron Island Museum has a well-known reputation for being haunted and they embrace it offering ghost tours and overnights. Ghost Lab and Ghost Hunters have featured the location on episodes as well.

There are several ghosts here with the most famous being Edgar Zernicke. Edgar was 87 when he died in 1992. His remains were cremated and when the funeral home was closed, the remains of Edgar along with seven others were left in the basement in quart-sized paint cans. Nobody had claimed them.  Edgar had been a Marine who fought in the Sandino Rebellion in Nicaragua in 1928 and he later joined the Navy in the early 1930s. He eventually moved to Buffalo and he lived in the East Delavan area working as a tool and die maker. Once it was realized that his remains were left in the basement, he was given a full military burial at Bath National Cemetery in September of 2010. The discovery of Edgar as the ghost and owner of these cremains was made by Chip Coffey who visited the museum with Ghost Hunters. He told Linda Hastreiter, co-owner of the Iron Island Museum, that the ghost's name started with the letter "E," and then later he got the name Edgar. Later, Hastreiter was going through the list of names from the cans that had been left behind by the funeral home in the basement closet and she saw the name "Edgar Zernicke." She was able to identify the other soldiers in cans and all of them were escorted with Edgar by Patriot Guard Riders to the cemetery. This did not put Edgar to rest though. He still haunts the building.

Speaking of Linda, her first ghost experience in the building happened in December of 2000. The museum was hosting a Christmas party and Linda was in the kitchen prepping stuff when she heard tables and chairs being moved around in the front room. Not a problem if you have a group setting up, but when you are in the building alone? Linda made her exit quickly and called a volunteer to join her in checking the building. They found nothing moved.

Visitors and employees claim that there are also two spirits of 6-year-old boys who had been waked at the funeral home hanging around the museum. There wakes took place in the 1960s. EVP have captured spirit voices and entities have been caught in photos and in videos. The psychic Karyn Reece visited for a lecture and during her talk she mentioned that an orb was hovering over a man in the back. He was a skeptic and shrugged his shoulders unconcerned of her observation. He got a little nervous though when someone turned and snapped his picture and the orb was clearly visible above his head in the picture.

When Ghost Hunters was there, they captured evidence and had experiences. One of the investigators was standing in the hall speaking to another team member when she saw a shadow shape move in front of the door and then the door opened and closed. This was a door that had been locked. Grant climbed the ladder to the old church attic and he saw a dark figure and a voice seemed to emanate from it. The group captured disembodied footsteps and voices and some EVP.

Cindy from Ontario posted on TripAdvisor: "I was taking pictures with my cellphone in the attic room when it inexplicably took 2 pictures automatically in slow succession. I swear I did not do anything to my phone to make it take those pictures and my friend witnessed the whole thing as well. A few of the girls felt the 'spider web' feeling brushing against their arms a few times. We also think we caught an EVP while recording our conversation. Sounds like a male voice but cannot clearly make out what was said. Not sure if any of these things were truly paranormal ... my husband is still a huge skeptic lol. Mind you, he wouldn't go down in the basement by himself in the dark. All in all we had such a fun and enjoyable evening and would recommend this experience to others."

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