Thursday, September 26, 2019

HGB Ep. 308 - Investigation of the Squirrel Cage Jail

Moment in Oddity - Jacob Miller, a War Survivor
Suggested by: Chelsea Flowers

Jacob Miller was a private in the Union army during the Civil War. He fought at the Battle of Chickamauga in northwest Georgia on September 19–20, 1863. This was a tense battle with high casualties and a loss for the Union. The only other battle to have more casualties would be the Battle of Gettysburg. Miller was one of those casualties. He suffered a bullet wound to the head, but miraculously he survived with the bullet lodging in his forehead. We all know head wounds bleed like crazy, so when Miller managed to regain consciousness and work his way off the battlefield, the Confederates didn't take him prisoner because they either thought he was as good as dead or they couldn't tell what uniform he was wearing. He eventually collapsed by a road and was taken to a field hospital where the surgeon decided he was a goner and so it made no sense to do surgery to remove the bullet. The next day, the hospital was moving the wounded because the Confederates were coming and they decided to leave Miller, even though he might become a prisoner of war, because he was too injured to move. Well, Miller was not about to become a prisoner, so he asked a nurse to fill his canteen and he was off. This man had some guts and nerves of steel as he couldn't see because his head was so swelled his eyelids were shut over his eyes. He had to physically lift an eyelid to even see, so he just made sure to head the opposite way of the boom of the cannons. Eventually, Miller was picked up and taken to Chattanooga. He then had to move again to Nashville. All this time, he was carrying the bullet in his forehead. He was transferred again and again to various hospitals and would beg to have the bullet removed, but no surgeon would do it. Finally, after nine months, doctors removed the musket ball. However, that wasn't all that was in there. Seventeen years later a buck shot dropped out of his forehead. And thirty one years later, two pieces of lead came out. So for nearly his whole life after the war, Miller had carried a bullet in his forehead and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - The Magic Flute Premieres

In the month of September, on the 30th, in 1791, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart premieres his opera, "The Magic Flute." This was a singspiel, which meant there were both singing and speaking parts and the libretto was written by Emanuel Schikaneder. The basic premise of the opera is that the villianous Queen of the Night persuades a young and attractive prince named Tamino to rescue her daughter, Pamina, from the priest Sarastro. Tamino falls in love with Pamina when he sees her picture and agrees, taking a magic flute with him. When he gets to the temple where Pamina is held, he finds that Sarastro is actually a good guy and trying to protect Pamina from the Queen of the Night. Pamina and Tamino decide to join the priest as part of his temple and this makes the Queen angry. She finds Pamina and threatens her that if she doesn't kill Sarastro, she'll disown her. Pamina won't do it and she and Tamino use the magic flute to go through all the trials they must surpass in order to be part od Sarastro's people. The couple succeed and the Queen of the Night is magically cast out into eternal night. For the premiere, Mozart's own sister-in-law played the part of the Queen of the Night and Schikaneder played the role of Papageno, a man who joins Tamino on his journey. The opera was a great success and had hundreds of performances during the 1790s. Unfortunately, Mozart would not realize much of this success as he died two months after the premiere. The opera has endured and is still performed in our modern era.

Investigation of the Squirrel Cage Jail

The Squirrel Cage Jail is very unassuming. This is a regular looking historic brick building in the middle of Council Bluffs, Iowa. No one would really know there was a jail inside, save for a few windows with bars in them. A black wrought-iron gate closes off the back of the jail and a colorful statue of a horse decorated with lights stands behind it. We had featured the Squirrel Cage Jail in Ep. 284, but this would be the first time we would actually get to go inside and tour the building. But we did more than just tour this location. This was the inaugural ghost hunt hosted by History Goes Bump and seven listeners joined myself and Kelly as we searched for communication with something from beyond the veil. And we believe we received that. Join me as I share the investigation of the Squirrel Cage Jail in Council Bluffs!

We met up with Dolly, Cynthia and Phil at the Monster Club in Omaha before meeting everyone else at the jail. I did a BonusCast featuring that location, which also happens to be haunted. Our group at the jail for the evening would be Lynne and her daughter Emmalynn, Cynthia and her boyfriend Phil, Crystal, Amber and Dolly. You'll hear them throughout the audio I share. We all gathered in the front office area to take care of money, buy Squirrel Cage Jail wine and meet everyone. The stairs loomed behind us, inviting us to climb into the core of the most unique jail I have ever seen, three stories of rotating cells barely big enough to give a man room to stand or lie down and each set to hold two men. There are narrow bunk beds and a curved area at the back of the cell where the toilet is located. This lead to an innovation , a core sanitation system. That would help carry waste away, but it also made the place stink, especially on the fourth floor where the warden lived. That's why eventually the warden moved down to the second floor and converted the women's area of the jail into his apartment. Although we also heard that the hauntings up there drove the warden to not want to stay up there.

The jail would be a horrible place to spend even an hour and some men served years in what had to have been a very hot or very cold and stinky building. Ashley would be our guide and she gave us a brief overview of the history and explained the different hauntings they thought were going on. She introduced us to solitary confinement right away. Everyone is laughing because I got inside the cell, which is only big enough to stand in. While in solitary confinement, the eating and relieving oneself was anything, but fun. Here are excerpts from the rest of the tour. Listen closely as she talks about some of the inmates. Those inmates called the Mad Dog Killers, Charles Kelley and Charles Brown, will come up again as we conduct our investigation.

Ashley set us free and we gathered in the former kitchen and gathered our investigating equipment. And for those of you that support the show and are in the Facebook HGB Losers Club, this is where you started joining us and we ran a live investigation for you for around 1.5 hours. The top floor is where the warden and other guards lived and Dolly had gone up there before us and said the warden's room seemed to be active. Up here it is said that the spirit of the jail's builder, J.M. Carter, still hangs out because he used to live in the apartment. There is a previous jailer haunting the fourth floor as well. He was named Otto Gufath and his full-bodied apparition has been seen. We didn't see any spirits, but we did have experiences.

I had never tried the flashlight experiment for myself. I'd seen it on TV and I'd experienced it being used on various tours I've done. In the back of my skeptical mind I always thought something was rigged somehow. Obviously, nothing was rigged with our investigation and our first communication with something we couldn't see, came through the flashlight. So we were waiting for Dolly and Kelly to join us because they had the dowsing rods. As we waited, the Ghost Radar on people's phones were giving us words and such and we were discussing volumes. As I listened back to the audio I was reminded of exchange that happened. I think we caught something. I'll play it a couple times to see if you guys hear it and then I'll discuss it.  Now I'm going to pull out the specific spot I wanted you to hear and I think Cynthia wasn't hearing things. We debunked it. Nobody's app had Hello as a word at the time or archived. This voice didn't sound robotic and it sounds as though it is saying hello almost as a question. And here is a comparison of the male voice on the phone app versus the hello voice.

We then used dowsing rods to communicate. After a little while, we asked the only male in our group, Phil, to take the rods. He was a total skeptic and so we felt he would get the best results since he would not be prone to make the dowsing rods move with his own bias.

Dolly's EMF detector went off several times. The first time was in the cells where juveniles were kept. We also had the Ghost Radar say "draw" and we had a fun interaction based on that. Then I'm going to play this clip and listen to the end. Not sure what it is, but throughout the evening we heard weird noises. A couple times, Kelly and I heard what sounded like rocks being dropped from an upper cell. Then the Ghost Radar started shooting out words from what we thought was a young inmate. We continued the Dowsing Rod Session, this time with our tween participant asking some questions, Emma asked great questions, and listeners watching the live got to ask questions too. And I really love the questions we were asking and the answers. This is why I do investigations. I want to know what it's like to be in spirit form. I ask towards the end if the spirit gets tired and then I think I hear something very low. I amped it as high as I could without distorting and I hear a "Yes". The reason I don't think this was one of us is that I didn't have to amp any of our voices this much, even when someone whispered. This was very faint and none of us responded as though we had gotten an affirmative from the rods. EVP? I'll play the amped yes again.

Inmates would set paper on fire and use the smoke to smudge designs and words on ceilings and walls that are still here today. Lynne, Emma and I hear this. The second level is where things start getting really crazy with activity. We stand outside the cell where the inmate hanged himself. Behind us is the display case with the noose used to hang the Charlies. The EMF Dolly has starts going crazy. And then Kelly has her hair touched. And as you heard, the flashlight turns on and off. And it seemed Charles Kelly was talking to us. Carla Borgaila with the Historical Society of Pottawattamie County has said she has had the following experiences, “I have had my hat pulled off my head and my hair played with." This claim seems to be backed up by the fact that Kelly had her hair played with too.

We headed into the infirmary next to see if we got any activity. So did the Ghost Radar actually say Amber's last name Johnson because of her? And you gotta love stomach growls. Next we head into the Trustee's Room and the first thing you will hear is a word by the Ghost Radar. So not much activity in there. We decided to head back up to the fourth level where the warden's room was and we sat in a circle in the room where there was an organ and a music box that sometimes plays by itself. We heard there were ghost cats up there. We had no activity the rest of the evening and we packed it in at midnight.

We spent three hours inside the Squirrel Cage Jail. That's really not enough time to get a scientific feel for whether the jail is haunted or not, but based on our experiences and the bit of evidence we collected, there definitely seems to be something unexplained going on here. Is the Squirrel Cage Jail haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

HGB Ep. 307 - A History of Witch Hunts

This episode sponsored by HelloFresh, for $80 off your first month, go to and enter code: BUMP80. Also sponsored by Ghost Town Podcast and Pessimists Archive Podcast, which you can find wherever you listen to podcasts! 

Moment in Oddity - Death Mask Becomes Annie the CPR Doll
Suggested by: Laura Ann Williams

The Unknown Woman of the Seine. That's the only name an unidentified woman found drowned in the Seine is known by and yet, she is famous. She died in the late 1800s at a time when the best way to identify an unidentified person was to put them on display. And that is what they did in Paris at the mortuary where her body was taken. For days, no one claimed to know the girl. She had died with a sweet smile on her face that still remained after death. It is said that the pathologist who worked with her body was so touched by the gentle smiling face, that he decided to make a death mask from it using plaster. A weird thing happened after that. The death mask actually became a piece of art that was copied over and over and people would put it up in their homes. At least, that is according to the story. There are those that believe the truth is that a manufacturer in Germany had used his young tween daughter to make the mask and that's why the face has the smile. Whatever the case, the story becomes even more odd as we continue. Critic A. Alvarez wrote a book about suicide called The Savage God and in it he writes, "I am told that a whole generation of German girls modeled their looks on her." Fast forward to 1955 when toymaker Asmund Laerdal created the CPR Doll. He wanted this lifesaving doll to have a real look and he remembered that his grandparents had this death mask on their wall when he was young. He modeled Resusci Anne, or what I call Annie, after the Unknown Woman of the Seine. It is now said to be the most kissed face in the world and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - The Jetsons Airs For The First Time

In the month of September, on the 23rd, in 1962, The Jetsons cartoon aired for the first time. While many of us probably remember watching it on Saturday mornings or weekday mornings before school, it actually started in prime time, airing on Sunday nights on ABC-TV. And a fun fact is that this was the first program broadcast in color on ABC-TV. The original run lasted until March 17, 1963 and was produced by Hanna/Barbera. New episodes were produced in the 1980s from 1985 to 1987. The cartoon featured a family living in the space age with flying cars and a robot maid. There was George Jetson, his boy Elroy, daughter Judy, Jane his wife...and then, of course, their dog Astro and the robot maid named Rosie. There were 75 episodes in total and there was a movie in 1990 and another in 2017 called The Jetsons & WWE: Robo-WrestleMania! The Jetsons is one of the few animated series to have aired on all 3 big networks at the time: CBS, NBC and ABC.

A History of Witch Hunts

The term witch hunt has been used in our modern era as a descriptor when it comes to persecution and investigations, particularly in the world of politics. But the historical witch hunts that I want to explore in this episode were far more different and dangerous. The persecution of people who believe or worship outside the lines of societal "norms" has been with us since recorded time. Rejecting and abusing people because they are "different" is unfortunately a familiar part of all societies and communities. There was a time when witch hunts reached a fever pitch in Europe and America and people were left dead in their wake. Over three centuries, an estimated 100,000 people were executed with 75% of them being women. Join me on this episode, as I present a brief history of witch hunts!

There is a more obscure piece of Nazi history connected to historic witch hunts. The same week that I began research on this episode, I received an email from the magazine History Today because I am on their email list. And in our familiar synchronistic style, the cover story was about Heinrich Himmler and his Hexenkartothek or Special Assignment H Unit, which was a group of SS researchers assigned the duty of finding all the information they could about historic witch trials in Europe. Now you are probably scratching your head just like I was as to why the SS would be wasting their time with this kind of research. Apparently, they wanted to find proof that the Church was on an anti-German crusade. And let me just say that the research they did was similar to just reading off of Wikipedia. They even included fictional accounts from plays and books, never bothering to differentiate what was real and what was fiction. But one thing that William Badger and Diane Purkiss point out in their article "Preternature: Critical and Historical Studies on the Preternatural" published by the Penn State University Press is that "this also constitutes the first critical/biographical analysis in any language of the sources for the English trial cards in the catalog." I share this because I find it interesting that Nazis would have had such an interest in witch trials. And, of course, I find this interesting because this came to my attention at the same time that I was doing this research.

Let's start first with a very basic question and that is, what is witchcraft? A dictionary gives a very basic definition and that is something along the lines of the practice of magic, especially black magic and the use of spells. The answer is actually very complicated. It depends on who you ask and for practitioners of witchcraft, it depends on what they are interested in pursuing. Some belong to a religious group like Wicca and others are secular and even atheists. Some cast spells and hexs, while others are more into growing herbs and plants.  For the most part, I would personally describe witchcraft as being a natural spiritual belief and I think witchcraft can be a catch all term for Voodoo practictioners, Shaman, Medicine Men and etc. They each have different techniques and beliefs, but at the core they are very similar. That is probably part of the issue when it comes to these historical witch hunts because anything outside of the top religion was evil. There were probably people making tinctures and running things through fire and talking to nature and plants and believing in superstitious stuff and this caused them to be outside of societies general beliefs as ruled by the Church and such. Now I'm sure there were people back in the 1500s and 1600s who actually believed that witches were flying on sticks and turning people into newts, but for the most part what we had happening during these witch hunts were people being falsely accused. And this brings me to the next question here and that is, what sparked the larger witch hunts?

The causes are numerous, but the uptick in Europe most definitely is connected to the Reformation. Angela Michelle Schultz writes in her article, Witchcraft: What Caused the Witch-Hunts in Early Modern Europe, "One reformer responsible for the rise in fear of Satan was John Calvin who stated, '…for after Satan has possessed us once and stopped our eyes, and God has withdrawn his light from us, so that we are destitute of his holy spirit and devoid of all reason, then there follow infinite abuses without end or measure. And many sorceries come from this condition.' Due to such reformers as Calvin, the early modern European believed “the danger that Satan presented to a person was both physical and spiritual… Everyone, even the holiest individual, could be deceived and ensnared by the cunning treachery of Satan.” These beliefs brought about a heightened awareness of diabolical acts causing European societies to be more willing to put accused witches on trial due to fear. Communities wanted to purify their neighborhoods by getting rid of all evil, even if it meant putting their neighbor to death. By doing so, the judicial system was used in order to advocate against any act that did not line up with the word of God."

Europe was in complete upheaval as the Church split and the Catholics lost control. Add to this environmental issues that caused famine and many people were living in poverty. When bad times hit, it is easy for us all to point fingers in other directions and lay blame elsewhere. This same thinking traveled to America where colonists are going to run into hard times and people who have different spiritual beliefs like Native Americans. There was also religious intolerance. An interesting side note to this time during the 16th century was something that happened in Italy. There were a group of people who referred to themselves as Benandanti and they thought of themselves as protectors of the land. It is said that on Ember Days, which fell four times a year, they would fall into trances and ride off to combat evil in the form of witches. Clearly, these people would seem to be on the side of the Church, but rather, the leaders of the Church heard these stories of riding off on all types of animals and even flying through the sky after holding secret meetings and falling into trances and the Church concluded that the Benandanti were in fact witches. Any other religious belief was of Satan and the fervor to stamp it out was beginning. And we can't ignore that with 75% of the victims being female, misogyny has to have some part in this.

So how did they test to find out if someone was a witch? We've discussed this in various episodes, but as a reminder we'll run through the main tests. One method we know as pressing, but it really was just smothering with stones. Usually an accused person would be placed between two slabs and crushed in some way. Giles Corey of Salem fame is an example of this type of test. Another method was dunking and usually a wooden chair was used for this and attached to a pulley system so that an accused could be tied down to the chair and dunked into water for long periods of time to get a confession. There was the mark test in which an accused would be stripped naked and searched for the mark of the Beast, which could be as simple as a birthmark. Searching someone's house also was a test to see if they owned any witchy artifacts. Sometimes accused were asked to recite a prayer, like the Lord's Prayer and if they were unable, they were found guilty. There was the nasty cake test, which consisted of mixing a victim's urine with rye meal and baking it. The cake would be fed to a witch's familiar like a dog and if the witch screamed in pain, he or she was guilty. There was the Prick Test in which needles were used to stab at the skin of the accused to see if it caused pain or bleeding because it was thought a witch was insensitive to this type of thing. A victim was also allowed to scratch at the supposed witch to see if that would help relieve their symptoms. There was the Touch Test and this was based on the belief that a victim would fall under a spell if touched by the person who had bewitched them. The most popular test was a trial by water in which the accused would be bound with ropes and thrown into a body of water to see if they would float. If they did float, they were thought to be a witch. If they sank and drowned, well, they were not a witch, but they were also dead. I just want to note that I learned from the History of Witchcraft Podcast that dunked people were attached to a rope, so very few actually drowned, correcting a misconception I had. All of these tests usually lead to death eventually. In Europe, burning at the stake was popular, while in America hanging was mainly what was done. No one was burned at the stake in recorded American history.

Now that we've fleshed out the basics, let's take a cursory walk through history. As I've said, this is going to be a brief history, rather than comprehensive. I do encourage you to check out the podcast "History of Witchcraft" to get a more thorough covering of the witch hunts. Obviously, people who would be thought of as witches or magicians have been around for all recorded time. The earliest accounts can be found in the Talmud and Hebrew Scriptures, what we call today the Old Testament. Verses about witchcraft are negative and call for the execution of anyone practicing witchcraft.The most famous witch in the Bible is the Witch of Endor. This is a narrative found in I Samuel 28. King Saul is the ruler of the Israelites and he has issued a lot of edicts and rules and one of these was that anyone who consulted a witch should be put to death. Then he turns around and consults a witch. He needs some advice from his old friend, the prophet Samuel. There's just one problem. Samuel is dead. So Saul disguises himself and runs off to find the Witch of Endor whom he asks to conjure up the spirit of Samuel. She does so and Samuel is pissed and reveals Saul to the witch who freaks out cause she knows the King has said witches would be put to death. The story ends with Samuel letting Saul know that he and his sons are dead, tomorrow. And they are. We don't hear anything further about the Witch of Endor, but we can assume if she is found out, she will be put to death.

During medieval times, many texts will be written about practices and beliefs outside of the Church like fortune-telling and curses.The Black Death is crossing Europe and, of course, the Church blames witchcraft for the disease. One thing the Roman Catholic Church did differentiate at this time was the types of magic. They believed there were two, which is similar to what we hear today, there was natural magic and then demonic magic. Natural magic was thought of just worshiping the power of nature that came from God. Today, that might be thought of as being along the lines of white magic. Demonic magic would be like black magic. I find it interesting that this is about the same time as Satan starts popping up in the hoofed feet, red body, horns and tail. The emphasis on the Devil caused there to be an emphasis on witchcraft. As we move to the end of the medieval time, people who were witches moved from being thought of as deceived by the cunning of Satan to all out devil worshipers and that by denouncing God they had achieved supernatural powers. There were no formal witch trials as we understand them during this time, but there was The Inquisition.

The Inquisition started in France in the 12th century and would continue through to the 15th century. This was a group of Catholic judges or inquisitors tasked with rooting out heresy and obviously, claims of witchcraft were investigated. Pope Alexander IV would officially declare in 1258 that communicating with demons and working magic like a sorcerer were heresy. Thomas Aquinas wrote about sorcery in his "Summa Theologiae" and in it he wrote of demons assuming the shapes of humans. So that neighbor doing witchcraft over there might not actually be your neighbor, but rather, a demon. The next big act of persecution came against the Knights Templar in 1307 on Friday October 13th and one of the main charges was practicing witchcraft. So the group went from leading the Crusades for the Catholic Church to being executed by the Church.

The official witch hunts would begin in the early 1500s. It would be during this time as well that various Witchcraft Acts in England and Russia would move the trials towards the government and away from the Church. In 1581, the largest witchcraft hunts and trials in Europe took place in Trier, Germany. These trials lasted through 1593. This all began when Johann von Schönenberg was appointed archbishop of the independent diocese of Trier and he made a commitment to rid the area of Jews, Protestants and witches. People accused of witchcraft would suffer greatly leaving over 350 people burned at the stake. A witness at the time reported, "... the whole country rose to exterminate the witches. This movement was promoted by many in office, who hoped for wealth from the persecution. And so, from court to court throughout the towns and villages of all the diocese, scurried special accusers, inquisitors, notaries, jurors, judges, constables, dragging to trial and torture human beings of both sexes and burning them in great numbers." This wouldn't be it for Germany though. Several more periods of trial erupted taking on the names of the areas in which they occurred. There would be the Fulda witch trials (1603–1606), the Basque witch trials (1609–1611), the Bamberg witch trials (1626–1631) and the Würzburg witch trial (1626–1631.)
In 1597, King James I’s wrote Daemonologie and in it he claimed that demon possession and witchcraft were "most common in such wild partes of the worlde [because] the Devill findes greatest ignorance and barbaritie [there].” One can imagine that the New World would be one such location.
The first colony was founded in America in 1607 at Jamestown, Virginia. This time is at the heart of the witch craze in Europe and now these people are coming over to America and bringing those beliefs with them, along with this idea that the Devil likes these wild and untamed places. Also, before these colonists left King James I had issued the Witchcraft Act of 1604 making it a felony to practice witchcraft and moving trials to common courts rather then the Church. There would be no burning at the stake anymore, only hanging. And for minor offenses, it would take a second offense to bring about the death penalty.

So the colonists step off the boat and meet the Native Americans already here and listeners, I'm sure you already know what they are thinking when it comes to these "wild" men who seem to worship nature and John Smith himself wrote that the chief god they worshiped was the Devil. Shortly after the colonists starting setting up homes in the New World, the Old World was hosting the Pendle Witch Trials in Lancashire, England in 1612. I've had several requests to cover the Pendle Witches so here we go. In these infamous trials, twelve people were accused with six of them belonging to rival families in the town of Lancashire. These families were the Demdike family and the Chattox family. There were no fathers as both had died and the families lives in utter poverty. Apparently, it was no secret in the town that the head of the Demdike family, Elizabeth, was a witch and had been so for over 50 years. This had not been a problem until the uptick in anti-witchcraft fervor. You know, everybody wants a witch around for an old folk remedy until they don't want a witch around. Enter a peddler named John Law. He's on the side of the road begging when Alizon Device comes along and asks him for some pins, which he refused to give to her so she cursed him. People believe the curse to be real after Law has a stroke. Law reports this to a judge and Alizon confesses that she did ask the Devil to curse Law. And then here we go, cause the judge wants more names. Alizon fingers her grandmother, Elizabeth Demdike, and members of the Chattox family.

The feud between the families is coming to a head now. Other members of the town blamed the head of the Chattox family for making people ill. With torture, the heads of both families confessed and twelve people stood accused. Jennet Device, who was nine-years-old at the time was a main witness. It's hard for us to understand how a nine-year-old's testimony could lead to executions, but at the time it was allowed. This little girl also testified against her siblings and mother. Elizabeth Demdike would die in jail, ten of the accused would be hanged and one who be found not guilty.

The year 1626 was key both in Europe and America. In 1626, the Virginia General Court put a midwife named Joan Wright on trial and she would come to be known as Surry's Witch. Several of her neighbors had come forward accusing her of all kinds of witchery including people claiming she had bewitched them, cursed a man's tobacco fields causing them to flood, cursed their butter churns so they would not work properly and the worst accusation was that she caused a baby to die. Joan's husband was asked to testify on her behalf and he said he never knew of his wife doing anything that could be considered witchcraft and with that, the matter seemed to disappear. Virginia was much more lenient than Massachusetts when it came to accusations of witchcraft. Over in Europe, two more major witch trials started that I mentioned earlier: the Bamberg witch trials and the Würzburg witch trials. The thing that was the most disturbing about the Wurzburg trials was that a great number of children were burned at the stake. Nobody was safe from the sweep with four hundred being caught up including clergy.

The term hysteria barely describes how horrible this was and I think the words of the Chancellor of the Prince-Bishop of Würzburg say it best. He wrote to a friend in 1629, "There are law students to be arrested. The Prince-Bishop has over forty students who are soon to be pastors; among them thirteen or fourteen are said to be witches. A few days ago a Dean was arrested; two others who were summoned have fled. The notary of our Church consistory, a very learned man, was yesterday arrested and put to the torture. In a word, a third part of the city is surely involved. The richest, most attractive, most prominent, of the clergy are already executed. A week ago a maiden of nineteen was executed, of whom it is everywhere said that she was the fairest in the whole city, and was held by everybody a girl of singular modesty and purity. She will be followed by seven or eight others of the best and most attractive persons ... And thus many are put to death for renouncing God and being at the witch-dances, against whom nobody has ever else spoken a word. To conclude this wretched matter, there are children of three and four years, to the number of three hundred, who are said to have had intercourse with the Devil. I have seen put to death children of seven, promising students of ten, twelve, fourteen, and fifteen. Of the nobles--but I cannot and must not write more of this misery...Though there are many wonderful and terrible things happening, it is beyond doubt that, at a place called the Fraw-Rengberg, the Devil in person, with eight thousand of his followers, held an assembly and celebrated mass before them all, administering to his audience (that is, the witches) turnip-rinds and parings in place of the Holy Eucharist. There took place not only foul but most horrible and hideous blasphemies, whereof I shudder to write. It is also true that they all vowed not to be enrolled in the Book of Life, but all agreed to be inscribed by a notary who is well known to me and my colleagues. We hope, too, that the book in which they are enrolled will yet be found, and there is no little search being made for it." So first, I wanted to describe to you what these people were doing to each other. The hysteria had reached such a height here that they believed toddlers were having sex with demons and putting them to death! Secondly, I wanted you to hear that this guy actually believed that this kind of witchcraft and demon worship was really going on. I mean the Devil holding mass before 8,000 people in a nearby town?!

The story of Father Urbain Grandier is bizarre and scandalous. He had gone to a Jesuit college to become a priest. His uncle had some pull with the Jesuits and this got Grandier into a high position early, which caused resentment. Now priests are supposed to be celibate, but he missed the memo somewhere because it was rumored he had sexual relationships with many women and one even gave birth to his son. In 1632, a group of Ursuline nuns (the same order as those in the Ursuline convent in New Orleans that I've mentioned before that became home to the Casket Girls) needed a spiritual leader. The head nun was known as Sister Jeanne. Rumors are that she had a thing for the Father and so she asked him to become the leader. And when he said "no," well, that was that. The nuns accused him of being a sorcerer. And not only did he practice witchcraft, but he sent a demon named Asmodai to molest the nuns. Grandier was tortured, but he wouldn't confess. This torture was extreme. The Spanish Boot was used on him. This was an iron vise filled with spikes that were heated to red hot and closed on the calf until the bones broke. He was also basically waterboarded, which at that time was called the Extraordinary Question. Water was poured down the throat causing distension of the stomach and water intoxication. Grandier was found guilty without the confession and sentenced to die. That death sentence was carried out in 1634 and he was burned alive at the stake. This is a brief telling of what was a very elaborate trial full of exorcisms and supposed demon possession.The interesting thing is that these possessions continued even after the Father was executed.

In 1654, a woman named Katherine Grady was making a trip from England to the New World. Virginia was her destination. Along the way, a huge storm overtook the ship. Rather than just assume that this was nature, the crew blamed Katherine for some reason and they said she was doing it with witchcraft. A quick trial was held aboard the ship and while there is no record of what happened during that trial, the result was her being hanged before they reached Virginia. Men were not immune to accusations either. Virginia would put William Harding on trial for witchcraft and sentenced to thirteen lashes. Virginia didn’t experience the hysteria that Massachusetts did. There was extreme hesitation in the courts to accuse someone of witchcraft because of the severity of the crime. According to historical reports, no women in Virginia died as a result of these trials and only one woman was found guilty. Known as the witch of Pungo, Grace Sherwood of Princess Anne County, was the only person found guilty of witchcraft; because of this, her story is the most famous in Virginia. We covered her story and haunting in Ep. 279 about Ferry Plantation, so I won't rehash all of that here. In 1706, she was convicted. A woman named Mary was accused of using witchcraft to help find lost things and was given 39 lashes as punishment. The witch trials would come to an end in Virginia in 1730.

King Louis XIV of France finally put an end to witch hunts there in 1682. Witch hunts and trials would move towards ending in England that same year too. The last documented witch hangings happened that year resulting in the deaths of Susannah Edward and Mary Trembles. The year 1717 saw the last trial and witch hunts formally ended with the English Witchcraft Act in 1736. But witch hunts in America were ramping up and the Salem Witch Trials started in 1692. We covered the details of this on Ep. 61. There were not a lot of witch hunts in Pennsylvania, but there was a trial in 1683. I'll let Deana Marie of the TwistedPhilly Podcast tell you about that.

Other European countries moved to end their witch trials in the mid-1700s. Austria would do so in 1755 and Hungary in 1768. There were witch hunts in South America too. In 1754, a woman named Ursulina de Jesus was burned at the stake in Brazil after being accused by her husband of using witchcraft to make him sterile. He was having an affair with another woman at the time, but Ursulina was found guilty of heresy. In 1798, another Brazilian woman was accused of witchcraft. Her name was Maria da da Conceicao and it was said she used witchcraft to make potions to bewitch men to attract them. She was found guilty and put to death.

In 1804, the only witch trial in the state of Ohio takes place. This is shared by Jessica Walters, host of the Shoes, Boos and Tattoos Podcast

Albert R. Hogue writes of two Tennessee cases in History of Fentress County, Tennessee compiled by the Fentress County Historical Society: Joseph Stout was a man who lived in Fentress County, Tennesee in 1835. He was strange according to his neighbors. He kept to himself and read what they thought were weird books. So when a young girl from the Taylor family came down with a severe and sudden illness that the doctors couldn't figure out, they blamed Stout. Surely he had bewitched her. The stories started circulating about him and included him doing such feats as entering homes through key holes and casting spells on people the were far away. He was arrested and bound over by a judge, but he was not found guilty. In the same county, in the city of Jamestown a woman was accused of witchcraft in 1843. Her name was Marsha Milsaps and the accusation about her from a man named William Bledsoe was as follows, " "To whom it May Coneern- A witch of most extraordinary power has made her appearance in Jamestown. She can at a single touch convert those who have lived without stain or blemish into the most consummate rogues and rascals. She can transform members of the church into liars, sorcerers, and robbers of henroosts. She can change her neighbors geese into her own with a single touch of her all powerful wand. She infests those who share her bed with an overstock of loathsome vermin. She fills those with whom she converses with false ideas of her neighbors' honesty. Unless she ceases the exercise of the diabolic art, she shall feel the force of public opinion turned against her." Bledsoe was found libel while Milsaps was found not guilty and later when she sued, a jury would award her $10,000.

Ghosts and witch hunts go hand in hand for a couple of reasons. The obvious explanation is that people were wrongfully accused and put to death. The lesser known reason is that spectral evidence was used to prove someone was a witch. And also, when someone seemed bewitched in the presence of an accused witch, it was thought that his or her spectre was causing the issue. Emerson Baker is a professor of history at Salem State University and he wrote the book "A Storm of Witchcraft: The Salem Trials and the American Experience in 2014. In the book he writes, "While nobody was tried entirely on spectral evidence, it was what was initially brought against almost everyone at Salem, becoming a litmus test for discovering a witch. Spectral evidence was not just drawn from written depositions made before the trial by the afflicted. It was also used in the courtroom, with high drama and to great effect. The climax of most trials occurred when the afflicted confronted the accused [witches]. When this happened, invariably the alleged witch’s specter harmed the afflicted, who writhed and shrieked in pain in response to spectral attacks invisible to the jury and the rest of the court. This very public demonstration of spectral evidence could not help but have a strong impact on the jury, giving such evidence far more weight than it deserved. Not only did the judges allow this, but they ignored the many suggestions that such afflictions were being faked.” (pages 188-189)

I found this interesting story: A 17th century cottage believed to belong to one of the woman accused of being a Pendle witch was unearthed near Pendle Hill in the village of Barley.  Inside the house was a sealed room that held the skeleton of a cat. This was a practice done to protect the cottage from evil spirits. The cat was bricked up alive.

The Cage is the name of a building that was used to house 14 women accused of practicing witchcraft in St. Osyth in Essex in 1582. Three of those women were executed. One of them was Ursula Kemp and she was a local healer. After being accused, she turned on others and pointed the finger. Essex was a hotbed of witch hysteria and 85 people in total would lose their lives here. That is really something considering that 110 people were executed in England. The Cage, over the years it has served a number of purposes and today is a two-bedroom home. But with a history of being a medieval jail, it's not surprising to hear rumors of this cottage being haunted. One of the owners named Vanessa Mitchell fled the home in 2004. She claimed that she had been physically attacked by something she couldn't see and that mysterious blood spots would just appear. A malevolent goat-like apparition was the final straw driving her from the home. Ursula Kemp's skeleton was thought to be unearthed in 1921 during some construction. Her bones had been pierced with nails, which is a sign that she was thought to be a witch. This was done to keep the witch's spirit from haunting people. Those remains were put on display until the house where this was happening mysteriously burned down. They ended up in a couple of other places until documentary producer John Worland negotiated to get the bones and he had them reburied in St Osyth.

As I said, Essex had the most executions from witch hunts. Colchester Castle was a place where the accused were held before going to trial. Here they were shackled, starved, abused and sickness was rampant. Four women died of typhus in 1545. One of the accused that was eventually hanged was Elizabeth Clarke, an eighty-year-old woman with one leg. The castle has many haunts and one of the causes is attributed to the women who died of jail fever. One night, a man was spending the night locked into the castle. He didn't make it through the night. Two hours in, he appeared at the top of the castle waving his arms erratically and yelling for help. He was taken to the hospital and had to be sedated. People felt he lost his sanity and he died a few months later. Elizabeth could be a ghost here, but she is also thought to haunt the shore of Seafield Bay, an area known as The Walls.

Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins helped in leading to the execution of 200 people for witchcraft, mostly in Essex. He was the accuser of Elizabeth Clarke. Ironically, he was eventually accused of sorcery because he had stolen a book with the names of all the witches in England written in it. It was thought he used witchcraft to obtain it. Legend claims he was dunked and either drowned or was executed because he floated, but the truth is thought to be that he died from TB. His ghost is said to haunt a pond near where he was buried at St. Mary the Virgin Churchyard. He is also thought to haunt The Red Lion. Many claim to have seen his apparition there and it was here that he first dragged Clarke out into the street to accuse her.

The list of people who lost their lives after being accused of practicing witchcraft is too numerous to name everyone. There were hundreds. Were any of them actually practicing witchcraft? I'm sure a few were, but for the most part I think we were dealing with jealousy, anger, fear and hysteria in these cases. Are there hauntings left over from the spiritual residue? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:

Badger, William, and Diane Purkiss. “English Witches and SS Academics: Evaluating Sources for the English Witch Trials in Himmler's Hexenkartothek.” Preternature: Critical and Historical Studies on the Preternatural, vol. 6, no. 1, 2017, pp. 125–153. JSTOR,