Thursday, October 31, 2019

Halloween Episode 2019

History of Paranormal Television in the United States

My love for Halloween and creepy stuff comes from the stuff I watched on television when I was a kid. I cut my teeth on reruns of the Twilight Zone and watching the classic Universal Monster Movies. But what got me checking out the weird books from the library were the paranormal based television shows and I continue to binge on them as an adult. I thought it would be fun to do a little overview. This, of course, won't be exhaustive, but will touch on my favorites.

Now in the days before Cable television, there wasn't much to choose from, but there were some gems!

One Step Beyond

I've never seen the earliest TV show that was paranormal themed called One Step Beyond. It aired on ABC from 1959 to 1961 and produced 96 episodes. Some of the things covered were the assassination of Lincoln, the sinking of the Titanic and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

In Search Of 

In Search Of was originally released on April 17, 1977 and broadcast weekly from 1977 to 1982. The name and idea about covering mysteries in history and weird phenomenon came from three one-hour TV documentaries: In Search of Ancient Astronauts in 1973, In Search of Ancient Mysteries in 1975 and The Outer Space Connection in 1975. These were narrated by the Twilight Zone's Rod Serling and he was initially who was set to be the host of the television series, but he died so Leonard Nimoy was tapped to be the host. I think he was perfect and added a real creep factor with his narration. Topics covered included the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, D. B. Cooper, Jack the Ripper, UFOs, Atlantis, Dracula, psychics, ghosts, Stonehenge and I remember a lot of Egyptian stuff like pyramids and mummies. There were six spin-off books too. The show has been revived twice, first in 2002 with Mitch Pileggi hosting and again in 2018 with Zachary Quinto hosting. I haven't seen either of these.

Unsolved Mysteries

Unsolved Mysteries is this thing of beauty that just keeps on giving. I loved this so much as a kid and I remember the family sitting in the Family Room watching this together. Robert Stack, who narrated the first seasons was amazing and had the perfect cadence and creep to his voice. The series was created by John Cosgrove and Terry Dunn Meurer and like In Search Of, started as a series of specials in 1987 with Raymond Burr, Karl Malden, and Robert Stack narrating and hosting. The first episode aired on October 5, 1988 on NBC. It ran there for nine seasons and then CBS picked it up adding Virginia Madsen as a co-host the following season, Season 11. (If you haven't caught her on the Imagined Life Podcast, you are missing out! CBS canceled the series in 1999. Lifetime revived it in 2000 and ran for 103 episodes before being cancelled in 2002, a little before Robert Stack passed away. Spike would bring it back on October 13, 2008 with Dennis Farina hosting and it was mostly repackaged segments with updates and that ran for 175 episodes before ending in 2010. Netflix picked up a reboot in January 2019 produced by Shawn Levy of Stranger Things. Not sure when it will air, but each episode is slated to focus on a single topic or mystery. The show featured a variety of topics from disappearances to unsolved murders to conspiracy theories to ghosts to UFOs and alien abductions. The format was documentary style with reenactments and cases fell under four categories: Lost Loves, Criminal Cases, Paranormal Matters and Unexplained/Alternative History.


The television show Sightings launched on October 17, 1991 and ran for 120 episodes on the FOX network. As was the case with In Search Of, this started as specials. There was the UFO Report: Sightings, Evidence, Contact, Abductions, Cover-Up. This was followed by Ghost Report: Sightings, Hauntings, Contact, Evidence, Investigations in February 1992 and Psychic Experiences: Precognition, Psychic Detectives, Mental Telepathy, Psychokinesis in April 1992. Linda Moulton Howe created and was Supervising Producer of the first special. Ratings were high and the concept went into weekly production under several production companies with Henry Winkler as an Executive Producer and Tim White as host. The format was like an investigative news format. Episodes were 30 minutes long and aired on Friday nights. It went into syndication in 1994 and was extended to an hour format and the Sci Fi Channel picked it up in 1996. The program would be cancelled in 1997, but reruns ran through 2003. Looking at a list of topics, they really did cover everything!

Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction

Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction was interesting in that it presented some bizarre stories and you had to decide which ones were real and which ones were fake. It premiered May 25, 1997 and ran until September 2002. The show was created by Lynn Lehmann and produced by Dick Clark and the Fox network and initially hosted by James Brolin. Jonathan Frakes took over in the second season. Don LaFontaine narrated the first three season and Campbell Lane narrated the fourth and final season. There were 45 episodes with 225 segments, many of which were true even though the stories defied logic. I'd read that 132 were true.

Ghost Hunters

This was like an oasis in the desert. These guys were doing the Ghostbusters thing only for real. The show premiered on the SciFi Channel on October 6, 2004, with Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson heading up a paranormal investigation team. Jason and Grant had been doing investigations of homes on their free time after working as plumbers for Roto Rooter. This was incorporated into the show. They had founded The Atlantic Paranormal Society or TAPS, which still does investigations with a team of member groups all over the world. The show tried to debunk paranormal claims and come up with reasonable explanations. They introduced the world to a lot of equipment from EMF detectors to digital video cameras to thermal cameras to digital recorders. The team would then review all the evidence and report back to the location's owner about what evidence was found. The show ended in 2016 after eleven seasons. The show re-launched here in 2019 with Grant as the head investigator on A & E. Jason started his own show called Ghost Nation on Travel Channel. The new Ghost Hunters sucks, period. I enjoy Ghost Nation. Ghost Hunters spun-off Ghost Hunters International, Ghost Hunters Academy and Kindred Spirits. There are claims that things have been faked. It's possible, but after doing my own investigations I think these guys were mostly the real deal.

Paranormal State

Paranormal State started in December 2007 with Ryan Buell leading a team of investigators under a group he founded at Pennsylvania State University. This show was proven to have lots of faked evidence and weird editing that could be seen while observing the clothing worn on different segments and stuff. Buell proved to be a fraudster too when it came to events and took people's money for tickets and then cancelled events without refunding the money. I watched this as it seemed interesting due to the other people on the team, namely Chip Coffey, Katrina Weidman and Michelle Belanger. The show ran for four seasons.

Ghost Adventures

This has been one of the longest running ghost shows out there. I have watched it sporadically and I don't think it is any mystery how I feel about Zak Bagans and his investigation techniques and the way he crafts the stories. The show premiered on October 17, 2008. Ghost Adventures began as a documentary that was filmed in 2004. It has run for a mind numbing 18 seasons with 210 episodes and lots of specials. While Ghost Hunters had their Lights Out routine while Ghost Adventures does the Locked In thing. There have been a variety of team members, but the two constants have been Zak Bagans and Aaron Goodwin. Other members have been Nick Groff (seasons 1–10), Billy Tolley, and Jay Wasley. They do a little bit of the history, which can be a little loose with the facts and then they use equipment to gather evidence. I think they give way too much credence to orbs and other light anomalies and don't debunk things as much as I would like. They also craft their own story lines as we have figured out after investigating similar places. But they do catch some compelling evidence and are definitely entertaining.

And now there are so many shows covering weird stories and mysteries, it would take forever to name them all, but my favorites include Mysteries at the Museum, Destination Truth and Expedition Unknown - pretty much anything with Josh Gates, Kindred Spirits, Dead Files, Scariest Places on Earth, Most Terrifying Places on Earth and Celebrity Ghost Stories is suppose to be coming back as something else I think.

Second Half of the Episode

We are joined by Kevin Killen to share his paranormal experiences that he detailed in his book "Ghosts and Me."

And then we have personal unexplained experiences shared by listeners to History Goes Bump

Thursday, October 24, 2019

HGB Ep. 312 - Haunted Cemeteries 15

Moment in Oddity - Python Hysteria in Ohio

Back in September of this year, 2019, a story ran on Cleveland 19's website that a 6-foot-long boa constrictor was found in the frontyard of a home in Brecksville, Ohio. Obviously, somebody had let the snake go free. This isn't the first time that a town in Ohio had to deal with a large snake. Only the story I'm referencing in this oddity segment was about a 19-foot-long python. The story goes that a carnival truck was passing through Summit County in northeast Ohio, just south of Cleveland in 1944, when the driver lost control and smashed into Ira Cemetery. The driver was killed and his cargo was set free, this 19-foot-long python. The first person to see the snake was Clarence Mitchell and he told the Cleveland Press, "I don’t know what made me look up, but there, about fifteen paces away, was the biggest snake I ever see, sliding along easy and slow in plain sight on the bare ground. I just stood quiet, not aiming to attract attention. It seemed like ten minutes I watched. He slid into the river, swam across, and climbed out the other side… He was thick as my thigh, right here, and every bit of fifteen feet long—more like eighteen—sort of brownish spotted. I went over and looked at the track. It was like you’d rolled a spare tire across my field.” Sightings continued for weeks and soon there was a Peninsula Python Posse formed. A person would report seeing the python, but the posse was always a couple of hours behind the snake that was reported to have a head as big as a man's head. Evidence it would leave behind included this wide tire-like track. The town was getting hysterical about the snake, but there were those who didn't believe the reports of the snake were real. Eventually, the python was no longer seen and just seemed to disappear. The town of Peninsula never forgot those days of Python Hysteria and to this day they hold an annual Peninsula Python Day festival and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Death Railway Completed

In the month of October, on the 17th , in 1943, The Burma Railway, also known as the Death Railway, was completed by the Empire of Japan. This was a 258 mile railway between Bangkok, Thailand, and Rangoon, Burma. There had been plans for this stretch of railway since the late 1880s, but the terrain was dangerous and so plans were abandoned. During World War II, the Japanese wanted to avoid having to use a 2,000 mile passage through the sea to move supplies to back up their forces in Burma and so they began construction on the railway in June 1942. The effort was considered an engineering feat with over 600 bridges and was completed ahead of schedule. A quarter of a million civilian laborers and POWs worked on the project with 90,000 civilian labourers and more than 12,000 Allied prisoners dying during the construction. Hence why it was nicknamed Death Railway. In 1947, the line was eventually closed, but the section between Nong Pla Duk and Nam Tok was reopened ten years later.

Haunted Cemeteries 15

Cemeteries are all unique and there are many varieties from classic Victorian garden cemeteries to forgotten and overgrown burial grounds for criminals. I love each and every one, although a handful make it onto my top 10 list and on this episode I will share a new one that has been added to that list. I always hope that in doing these Haunted Cemetery episodes that I will transfer my love of cemeteries to the audience that are not already taphophiles and this love will continue to grow and spread so that we have less and less stories of vandalism in graveyards. Unfortunately, there are stories of vandalism inside some of these cemeteries on this episode. Each also has tales of unexplained activity. Join me as I share about Bass Cemetery in Birmingham, Salem Cemetery in Winston-Salem, Woodpecker Hill in Canon City and Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta.

Bass Cemetery

Bass Cemetery is found in Birmingham, Alabama on County Road 147. The cemetery was established around 160 years ago and is bordered by woods and a railway. The cemetery gets its name from the first known burial here for a Revolutionary War soldier named Burwell Bass who died in 1831. He was born in 1752 in Virginia and was the first white man to settle in Roebuck Springs with his wife Elizabeth Jane York. There are over 320 burials that include Civil War soldiers, slaves and Montezuma Goodwin, a farmer who was shot and killed by his brother-in-law, James Sims, in 1904. Apparently, Goodwin had gone to Sims house over a family feud and threatened him with a knife. Later, the two men met on the road and Sims shot Goodwin three times.

No one knows exactly who or what is haunting the cemetery, but people claim to hear disembodied screams and strange pictures have been taken inside. This is also one of those cemeteries where teenagers like to challenge each other. There is the familiar legend of fogged up windows after cutting off the engine and then when the kids get out of the car, they find hand prints all over the car. And then there are the rumors of Satanic rituals, but I don't give that stuff credibility.

The Alabama Haunted Houses website has a comment from a poster going by Giant Dropper that says, "Probably over ten years ago, went there on the week of Halloween with my girlfriend, best friend, and sister. We walked around a while and looked at the tombstones. They started playing with a oujia board on the trunk of my sisters car. They were just having innocent fun. I was leaning up against the car just staring at the tree line. I was facing the moonlight. In the woods, I saw the tall man. He walked just from one tree to another. His stride was about six or eight feet. I made everyone get in the car immediately and didn’t tell them until we were half way home. I’ve never been back."

And another comment on the Alabama Pioneers website by someone named Nicolas says, "Been there a quite a few times in my life. Just went there with my dad and nephew this night and we didnt expect anything to really happen but we all watched a very bright and vivid orb moving through the woods towards us. Then we stood there and talked about what we saw and it returned a second time but it was half as bright then vanished again. We decided it was time to go after that. Has anyone else experienced this orb thing?"

This cemetery has suffered a lot of vandalism and even a former crypt was destroyed, rebuilt and destroyed again.

Salem Cemetery in Winston-Salem

The Salem Cemetery in Winston-Salem is located at 301 Cemetery Street, right next to the God's Acre Cemetery that belongs to the Moravian Church. This cemetery was established for the burial of non-Moravian people in 1850. We talk about the Moravian People in Ep. 108. I had the pleasure of visiting Old Salem a couple of years ago and I walked through both of these cemeteries. They are very different with God's Acre being very uniform with flat gravestones that all look the same. Salem Cemetery is your standard large cemetery with upright stones and a more haphazard design. God's Acre has no stories of hauntings, but there is a haunting tale connected to the Salem Cemetery.

Before we talk about the ghost stories, let's talk about some notable burials. There is General William R. Boggs who was a Confederate General during the Civil War and since he worked as a civil engineer, he helped to design fortifications for the seaports. On the east side of Savannah is Fort Boggs, which was named for him. He had attended West Point with several other men that would go on to be Union generals. He went back to engineering after the war and eventually moved to Winston-Salem where he died at the age of 82.

One of the famous burials here is for a man who brought us lung cancer, R. J. Reynolds. He was born in 1850 to a tobacco farmer and soon joined the family business. He eventually sold his share and moved to Winston-Salem where he started his own tobacco company and was soon the wealthiest man in the state of North Carolina. He died in 1918 of pancreatic cancer and was buried in the family plot here in the cemetery.

Another notable burials is for Zachary Smith Reynolds who was the son of Tobacco Magnate R. J. Reynolds. He was born in 1911 and got into flying very young and because of his love for aviation, the Smith Reynolds Airport in Winston-Salem was named in his honor. Both of his parents were dead by the time he was thirteen and an uncle raised him and his siblings. Zachary married young at the age of 18 to a woman named Anne. They had one child, but the marriage would not last long as he began an affair with an actress named Libby Holman. The couple would have one child who was born premature weighing only 3.5 pounds. Although it was at a time when medical was not as good, their son Topper survived and lived to the age of seventeen when he died in a climbing accident. He was the youngest heir to the tobacco fortune when he died from a gunshot wound at the age of 20. He was found at his family's estate with a bullet wound in his head under mysterious circumstances. His wife Libby would later be indicted for murder, but the charges were later dismissed by the Reynolds family. I'm not sure if it was suicide, Libby did hollar after the sound of a gunshot was heard "Smith's killed himself," and they didn't want to admit that and finally did or if there just wasn't enough evidence. The latter seems to be the case with rumors that Libby was having an affair with a friend of Zachary's who was at the house, heard the gunshot and helped take the wounded Zachary to the hospital. Reynolds is buried in the family plot at Salem Cemetery.

Now, there is a story about something that happened in town that lead to a burial here that lead to a haunting. The Moravians were a moral people and they were not happy when the town became the county seat. They worried it would bring drinking and crime. Of course, it did. They had a fix for that bad behavior sitting right in the middle of town: a whipping post! Anyone found drunk on the street was sentenced to at least 13 lashes. Some got as many as forty. The whipping post got a ton of action with gamblers, ladies of the evening, drunks and criminals all getting their turn. One day, in the late 1850s, a woman arrived in town with some mental issues. Obviously, at this time there was no real care and she wandered about the streets shouting at people and carrying on to the point that people nicknamed her The Unwanted Guest of Winston. She was brought to the whipping post to be punished - for what I don't know. She seemed to gain clarity before the whipping began and she called out a curse on the town and the people there. Then the whipping began and when it was finished, she was dead. Even though this was very public, the town tried to hide what happened by whisking the body quickly away to the Salem Cemetery and dumping her in the ground without a casket and without a headstone. It was shortly after this that the hauntings began. There were glowing ghosts lights and strange sounds. Multiple shadow figures would be seen traversing the grounds. Whenever a funeral was held in the cemetery, people would claim to see the apparition of the woman. She would have a smirk on her face and say, "They are with me now, and all of you will never see them again."She would then disappear. The moans and screams coming from the cemetery became so much that it was decided to disinter the woman and move the body to a graveyard near Liberty. Eventually that cemetery disappeared when a new railway was brought in to that town. It is said that the Salem Cemetery is now peaceful. (I got this story from Michael Bricker's book "Haunted Winston-Salem" and I haven't found any historical evidence that this happened, so it could just be ghost lore.)

Woodpecker Hill in Canon City

Woodpecker Hill is the nickname for an area found on a bluff above Greenwood Cemetery in Canon City, Colorado. There are over 600 burials in this pioneer cemetery and the ones on Woodpecker Hill feature rusted, bullet-riddled license plates for headstones. Everyone buried here on the bluff was a former prisoner and that is why it is more overgrown and less cared for then the rest of the cemetery. The prisoner's headstones mostly just state "CSP Inmate" for Colorado State Penitentiary Inmate. Woodpeckers have left their mark on the cedar grave markers as they tried to splinter the wood to get to bugs and that is where the nickname comes from. The cemetery was established about the time of the Civil War.

Notable burials here include former Colorado governor James Hamilton Peabody who was born in Vermont in 1852. While he was at college in Vermont, his family relocated to Pueblo, Colorado. He followed them when he graduated and worked as an accountant for the family's dry goods store for three years. He then moved to Canon City and worked for James Clelland at his store. He married James' daughter and they had four children and he eventually bought the store in 1882. In 1885, he got into politics and worked his way up until he was elected the 13th governor of Colorado. During his governorship there were a lot of problems with miners striking, particularly over hours worked in a day. Things got so bad that on June 6, 1904, the Independence Railway Station in Victor was destroyed by dynamite killing 13 people. The Colorado National Guard was eventually called in to bring peace. Peabody helped the mine owners to crush the union of the miners and this did not go over well. As a result, he was not re-elected. But things aren't as clear as that. You see, both the Republicans and Democrats committed major election law violations. It appeared that Peabody's opponent, the Democrat, won. He took office on March 17, 1905, but the legislature was controlled by Republicans and they voted to remove him from office that day. They re-installed Peabody, but they knew that wouldn't go over well so they insisted that he agree to resign as a condition of him being reinstalled. He did and thus the governorship went to his lieutenant-governor. So Colorado actually had three different men as governor on that same day. Colorado is the only state with that claim to fame. Peabody died on November 23, 1917 and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery.

Another notable figure is Robert Alexander Cameron. He was a Brigadier General during the Civil War, fighting on the side of the Union. Cameron was a doctor and as a matter of fact, he was one of only two physicians that attained the rank of Major General officer during the Civil War. He eventually moved to Colorado and would become Greeley's town superintendent in 1870. In 1885, he became the warden at the Colorado State Penitentiary and served until 1887. He died in 1894 at the age of 66 and was buried here.

One of the prisoners buried here was Joe Arridy. He was developmentally behind and most say he had the intellect of a five-year-old. He was accused of attacking two young girls, Dorothy and Barbara Drain. They were sisters and aged 15 and 12, respectively. Both girls had been hit with an axe, Dorothy perished, but Barbara survived. Arridy was 23 at the time and the police managed to coerce him into a confession. There was no proof that he actually had anything to do with the crime, but he was convicted and sentenced to death. The warden said he was the happiest man he had ever seen on Death Row because Arridy had no concept of death. He was executed in the gas chamber and smiled as the guards strapped him in. The warden is said to have wept as Arridy died in the chamber. Governor Bill Ritter pardoned him 72 years after he was killed.

Edward Ives is another prisoner buried here. He killed a police officer and wounded another, so he was sentenced to death. He was hanged using a unique hanging apparatus. The state of Colorado had found it hard to find a proper way to hang someone cleanly, meaning in a way that snapped the neck easily. Too many prisoners had been left hanging and writhing for many minutes. So they developed a pulley system that would send a weight hurtling down a chute when a guard pulled a lever. This would pull the rope taut as the prisoner fell through a trap and was supposed to break the neck. Ives was a little guy, weighing only 80 pounds. When the weight fell, he went flying up towards the ceiling, pulling the rope off the pulley and he fell to the floor. He thought he had beat the system. But he was given no reprieve. Two more attempts were made with the final one working, although it took 23 minutes for him to strangle to death. This and a couple of other botched hangings got the Colorado legislature to switch to the gas chamber for executions.

William Cody Kelley is also buried here. He was the first man ever killed in the gas chamber in Colorado. His grave is covered with tumbleweeds and prickly pear cactus, perhaps as a reflection of the man. His crime was awful. In 1934, he wrapped a rancher up in barbed wire and then he beat him to death with a pipe. And there is a legend that James Armstrong was such a violent and dangerous criminal that when he was put to death and then buried, the warden ordered that his cell door be buried over the coffin. A metal detector has proven this legend to be true. The last man killed in the chamber is buried here too, Luis J. Monge. There was a riot at the jail in 1929 that killed three inmates and eight correctional officers. Those three inmates are buried here: Danny Daniels, A. H. Davis and Red Reiley

And perhaps, even with that cell door over the burial, James Armstrong has made good on his promise to return after death. There are many claims of haunting activity. There are the standard reports of orbs and shadowy figures, but people also claim to hear the laughter of children, which seems odd since not many children are buried here. Cold spots are felt and a ghost tour features the cemetery as one of the most haunted spots in Canon City.

Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta

Oakland Cemetery is located in the heart of downtown Atlanta and is not only a cemetery, but an arboretum full of flowers like roses and irises and daffodils and mums. We had the pleasure of visiting on our recent trip to Atlanta and this cemetery has become one of my favorite. The main gate is made of simple red brick and this red brick forms many of the walkways inside. There are several sections like the Jewish Flat, the Potter's Field, the African-American Grounds, Bell Tower Ridge, Confederate Memorial Grounds and the Original Six Acres. As we entered, a light rain fell that continued to pick up, but we were undeterred as we wound our way through the cemetery with Tammie and Brian Burroughs guiding us along the way. A must stop is the Bell Tower, which now houses a visitor's center and gift shop full of books. We walked out with several in hand. One of them that I picked up about the cemetery was written by Cathy J. Kaemmerlen and is titled, "The Historic Oakland Cemetery of Atlanta, Speaking Stones." There are so many things to love here from the variety of trees and vegetation to the statues to the huge mausoleums to the intricate symbols on the headstones. And there are some ghost stories as well.

Oakland Cemetery was first known as Atlanta Cemetery and was established in 1850 after the city of Atlanta outgrew its downtown municipal cemetery. The original grounds were just six acres of farmland, but additional land was bought over time and today it is 48 acres. There are approximately 70,000 people buried here. Anyone who died in Atlanta from 1850 to 1884 would have been interred here and the first person buried here was the wife of the farmer who sold the initial acreage to the city. Here name was Agnes Wooding. The cemetery took on elements of Victorian influence and became a park for the city with cast iron benches and hosted many picnics. The next burial was for Dr. James Nissen who died in Atlanta in 1850 while attending a physicians' conference. He was afraid of being buried alive, so he requested that his jugular vein be severed before he was buried. He is in the original six acres.

There are many notable burials here. One belongs to the first mayor of Atlanta who was Moses W. Formwalt. He was a self-made man making his fortune in the tin and copper business. Much of the copper was made into stills and he was against Prohibition, of course. When he ran for mayor, he ran against an opponent that was a law and order and pro-Prohibiton candidate. He won and served for one year. He later became deputy sheriff and in 1852 he was stabbed to death by an inmate he was escorting from council chambers. For some reason he was placed in an unmarked grave. In 1907, he was moved to a better plot and given a marker near the Bell Tower. Speaking of the Bell Tower, it is Romanesque in style and was built in 1899. The first floor originally had a chapel and office for the sexton with living quarters for the sexton on the second floor. The Watch House was built in 1901 and is the office for the cemetery's security team. The first greenhouse in Atlanta was also here in the cemetery and is still located here, but in a different form. The original was built in the 1870s, then replaced in the early 1900s. Because of neglect, much of it was removed in the 1970s, but the brick walls remain and the new greenhouse was donated in 2015.

Another notable burial is for the first African-American mayor of Atlanta who was elected in 1974., Maynard Holbrook Jackson, Jr. He served for three terms and helped bring the Olympics to Atlanta in 1996. He died in 2003 and he was buried with his marker facing the Atlanta skyline, which is interesting to see as a backdrop to the cemetery. There was a little girl who kept a diary during the Siege of Atlanta. Her name was Carrie Berry Crumley and she was ten at the time. Her journal is still used today by historians to get the perspective of a child's view of the Civil War. She died in 1921 and was buried here in the original six acres. Carrie Steele Logan died in 1900 and she was known as the Mother of Orphans. She was a former slave who founded the first African-American orphanage in 1888 and that home still exists today. Dr. Blanche Beatrice Saunders Thompson died in 1964 and she was one of Georgia's first African-American female doctors.

Margaret Mitchell Marsh is buried here with a headstone she shares with her husband. There are box elders at the corners of her plot with rose bushes. Mitchell was born in 1900 and wrote the novel Gone with the Wind for which she earned a Pulitzer Prize. A film of the same name was made in 1939 featuring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh. The story is an epic historical romance featuring the love story of Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara. Clark Gable was set for the part from the very beginning, but it took 1400 women being interviewed before Leigh was selected to play Scarlett. Mitchell died young at the age of 49. William Fuller was a pivotal person in the Great Locomotive Chase as he was the conductor on the train that the Union stole and he led the chase that ended in a capture of the raiders.

There are great memorials and statues here, some of which we've posted to Instagram. There is "The Great Locomotive Chase" Marker, which documents this moment in history that took place on April 12, 1862. What happened is that a group of Union raiders stole a Confederate locomotive and took it all the way north to Chattanooga with hopes of destroying the railroad lines. There was a chaotic pursuit. There is the Granite Carriage Step that is the last of its kind in Oakland and was used back in the days of picnics for women to get out of carriages. Another remnant from that time is a hitching post for horses that is found on the eastern boundary of the original six acres. The Neal Monument was created in the 1890s in the Neoclassical style and has many symbols. There is a woman holding an open book and a closed book indicating a completed life. There is a palm branch for spiritual victory over death, a laurel wreath indicating eternity and a Celtic cross for eternal life and faith. I love the "Out in the Rain" fountain that features two children standing under an umbrella with the fountain spraying down over them like rain. It was made from cast-iron by the J.L. Mott Ironworks Company of New York. The Gray Plot features a statue of Niobe who was a woman that had 14 children and she bragged to the goddess Leto about those children. Leto was the mother of twins Artemis and Apollo and they murdered all of Niobe's children thus the statue is a symbol of grief. The most amazing memorial is for the unknown Confederate dead and features a lion known as the Lion of Atlanta. The Atlanta Ladies Memorial Association erected this in 1894 and was inspired by Switzerland's Lion of Lucerne. The lion is mortally wounded by a broken spear and is clutching the Confederate battle flag. Another Confederate monument is an Obelisk made from Stone Mountain granite that was dedicated on General E. Lee's funeral day in 1870. It stands 65 feet tall and was the tallest structure in Atlanta at the time. We found a unique seashell that it turns out was not so unique. These memorials were sold in the Sears, Roebuck and Company catalogue and feature an infant sleeping inside a seashell and they were used to mark children's graves. The seashell symbolizes resurrection and baptism.

The Mausoleums here are amazing, both elaborate and large. I took many pictures. There is the Eclectic Elsas Mausoleum that is the final resting place for Jacob Elsas whose family owned the Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills.  The Jacobs Mausoleum is done in the Beaux Arts Classical style and was built in the 1890s. We have Dr. Joseph Jacobs to thank for Coca Cola because his downtown pharmacy was the first to serve the soft drink in 1886. He died in 1929 and was buried here. The Rawson Mausoluem is Ecelctic in style and built in 1880 and is the final resting place of Charles Collier, his daughter Julia Harris and her husband Julian Harris. Julian's father was Joel Chandler Harris who wrote Uncle Remus. The Jasper Newton Smith Mausoleum is neat and I spotted it almost immediately upon entering the cemetery and made my way over quickly because I had never seen a mausoleum with a statue of someone sitting outside of it and he is sitting up at the roof. The mausoleum is Eclectic in style and was built in 1906. Jasper was a real estate entrepreneur and wanted to face the entrance of the cemetery so he could watch all the comings and goings. The Calhoun Mausoleum was built in 1910 in the Greek Revival style and is the final resting place of Atlanta's first Eye, Ear and Nose doctor who performed the first cataract surgery in the city. The stained glass window is really cool featuring Jesus healing a blind man and a woman and man awaiting healing pointing to their ear and throat respectively. The Austell Mausoleum is probably the fanciest mausoleum in the cemetery and was the most expensive when it was built in 1883 in the Gothic Revival style. The Waid Hill Mausoleum is the only brick mausoleum here and one of the oldest. A tragic story is connected to it as Waid Hill's grandson killed his own brother and then himself. They are buried in an unmarked grave next to the building.

The Inman Family Plot is amazing with its symbolism. There are faces of the Inman children here modeled from their actual death masks. Hugh is depicted as a boy cherub flying above rocks and lifting a mantle from a casket symbolizing a life built on a firm foundation with a triumph over the mystery of death and Louise is depicted as a female cherub resting against a tree and recording life on a tablet symbolizing premature death. Many pets are buried in the cemetery including Tweet the Mockingbird. A lamb graces his tombstone because the sculptor could not make a mockingbird.

The Potter's Field is believed to have 7500 unmarked graves that contain both whites and blacks. Some coffins have been revealed to be rather expensive, so not everyone buried here was indigent. The African-American section is a reminder of a time when even segregation affected cemeteries. This was not a coveted section of the cemetery and was set on lower ground that tended to flood and disinter coffins. There are believed to be 800 unmarked graves here and there is an effort to do restoration of the graves. There is a mausoleum on the grounds that belongs to Antoine Graves, a prominent real estate developer. The Slave Square Marker reveals that there was an original African-American burial area from 1853 to 1877 in the northeast corner of the Original Six Acres. This was called Slave Square and had 800 burials. The remains were disinterred and reburied in the African-American Burial ground and then their former plots were sold to whites.

I could go on and on about everything there is to see here, but it's time to talk ghosts. There are Confederate ghosts here probably for a variety of reasons. Part of the Battle of Atlanta took place inside the cemetery and many of the dead would be buried here. There were about 6,900 Confederate soldiers placed here with 3,000 of them not being identified. Full-bodied soldiers in Confederate uniforms have been seen in the Confederate section of the cemetery and have been seen hanging from trees, possibly those who were executed by hanging from the Great Locomotive Chase. When investigators do a pretend roll call, people claim to hear whispered names from disembodied voices. Also, disembodied "hears" and "presents" are heard.

A cemetery employee claims to have seen a shadowy figure moving through the cemetery. The statue featuring Jasper Newton Smith is said to get up out of its chair and climb down to the ground and then walks through the cemetery. Could this have been the shadowy figure?

Oakland Cemetery is a Cemetery Bingo dream! There are so many symbols in this cemetery and the self-guided tour map that you can purchase details many of the symbols and their meaning. This is a must see if ever in Atlanta. For us taphophiles, any cemetery is really a must see. I've been to two of these, so I've got two more to visit. Are any of them haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

HGB Ep. 311 - Winecoff Hotel

Moment in Oddity - Grandpa Buried with Bent Legs
Suggested by: Jannae McCabe

This Moment in Oddity was not only suggested by Jannae, but it is actually about a member of her family. Her grandfather Roy Almaron Thomas. Roy was born on July 29, 1894 in Bay City, Michigan. When he was twenty-three, he joined the US Air Service and trained as an aviator flying the Curtiss JN-4 Hisso “Jenny” style airplanes. He would later find himself on the front lines during World War I fighting alongside the British and French allies. Although he was fighting in the war, he found time to marry his sweetheart on July 10, 1918. And then tragedy struck. Roy went down in a plane and suffered a horrendous injury that left both of his legs badly broken. Doctors managed to repair his legs enough that he could walk again, but his joints would lock up with arthritis. He was given the impossible decision by doctors to either have his legs set permanently in a lying down position or permanently sitting up and he would be confined to a wheelchair. He decided that a wheelchair was preferable to a bed and I would agree. He developed Bright's Disease that eventually took his life at the age of 44 on April 23, 1939. There was one more hard decision to be made in Roy's life. The funeral home asked his wife what she wanted them to do when it came to Roy's legs. Should they break his legs so he could be buried lying down in a coffin? His wife was adamant that they not do that. Roy would never want to suffer through having his legs broken again, even in death. So the funeral home pulled all of the extra stuff out of the casket and they were able to bury Roy in his coffin with his legs permanently bent. I think his wife honoring him in this way was wonderful, but you have to admit that being buried with permanently bent legs certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Trial of Marie Antoinette

In the month of October, on the 14th, in 1793, the trial of Marie Antoinette began in Paris, France. She was accussed of several crimes and had already endured watching the execution of her husband Louis XVI and the removal of her 8-year-old son, Louis XVII, who was turned against her. There were some who wanted the former queen traded for prisoners and others advocated for her exile to some place like America, but the public was pushing back against monarchy with the French Revolution. Antoinette and her lawyers were given less than a day to figure out a defense. One of the egregious accusations was that she had commited incest with her son and that accusation came from him after coaching. Antoinette would not even respond to the charge. On October 16th, she was found guilty of treason, stealing money from the national treasury and conspiracy against the security of the state. Her sentence was death. That execution took place that very day. She penned a letter to her sister, had her head shaved, put on a white dress, had her hands bound behind her back and was driven for an hour in a cart to her place of execution. She remained composed the whole time. She was guillontined a little after noon and buried in an unmarked grave. She would later be exhumed and given a Christian burial.

Winecoff Hotel (Suggested by: Mike Streibel)

The Ellis Hotel sits along Peachtree Street NW in downtown Atlanta. The hotel hasn't always been the Ellis and it has been refurbished many times. The original hotel here was the Winecoff Hotel and it was a grand place that dwarfed the other buildings. A devastating fire would change all of that in 1946. Over a hundred people would lose their lives in what has been dubbed the worst hotel fire in American history. Contractors can rebuild walls and slap on new paint, but they can't cover over the energy and residue left behind by such tragic circumstances. That residue seems to have fed paranormal activity and there are many experiences that people have shared throughout the years that just can't be explained. Join me as I share the history and hauntings of the Winecoff Hotel.

Atlanta was initially called Marthasville with a nickname of Terminus since it was founded in 1837 as the end of the Western & Atlantic railroad line. The name was eventually changed to Atlanta after the chief engineer of the Georgia railroad suggested Atlantica-Pacifica as a new name. Because Atlanta was such an important spot along the railroad, it became a major target of attacks by the Union during the Civil War. General Sherman would burn nearly everything in the city except for the churches, but it would rise from the ashes and become a prosperous city known for Civil Rights, Black Education and Coca Cola. It would be here that the Winecoff Hotel would be built.

Kelly and I visited the Ellis Hotel while we were in Atlanta for me to speak at a women's podcasting conference. The building is beautiful on the outside with red and brown brick and concrete made to look like stone. The hotel stands fifteen stories and with all the modern skyscrapers around it, it is hard to believe there was a time when it was the tallest structure in this area. The inside lobby is very small and not real unique. The place is a boutique hotel today and I imagine the inside is nothing like it was when it was the Winecoff Hotel.

The Winecoff Hotel was built by William Fleming Winecoff for whom it is named. Architect William Lee Stoddart designed it and the Winecoff officially opened in 1913. While the exterior was built solid with a steel frame and floors and roof of concrete, the inside was a complete fire hazard by our modern standards. The hallways and walls were covered with a painted burlap from the chair rails down to the baseboards. The walls above that were wallpapered. There was wall-to-wall carpeting and cloth drapes. Winecoff sold the hotel in 1937, but he continued to live in a tenth floor suite.

There was an excitement in the air on the morning of December 7, 1946. People were in the city to see decorations and shop for Christmas gifts at Macy's and other stores. There were almost 300 guests staying at the hotel including those Christmas shoppers and teenagers attending a Tri-Y Youth Conference. Americans experienced a similar situation on September 11th, 2001. Everything was fine and then something so tragic happens that it forever changes a city or a country. People of Atlanta were about to witness one of the most tragic circumstances of a high rise fire: people pushed to suicide.

Fire. It's a devastating thing as so many people in California know. A fire destroying a home is horrible for a variety of reasons. For most of us who own a home, we are financially invested. It's our number one asset. This is also the reason why people won't move out of a haunted house. But homes are also our place of safety and almost everything we love and hold dear is inside the house. A fire can take all that away in an instance. A fire is even worse when it strikes a structure like a hotel. And when a fire hit a building like a hotel in the days of no fire codes or safety regulations, it was incredibly deadly. You might recall that in Episode 71, I detailed a fire in 1980 at the MGM Grand where the elevator shafts and bad ventilation system allowed smoke to rise up into the towers of the hotel and 85 people died. The Winecoff had a similarly bad design. The two centrally located elevator shafts had a staircase that wrapped around them and since the shafts were fire resistant, the staircase would allow fire to climb steadily up all the floors. Even worse was the fact that the hotel had vertical ventilation shafts that would feed oxygen to a fire and help the flames rise to all fifteen floors. Transoms above each room's door would allow smoke and flames easy access as well. There were no fire exits and no sprinklers. The Winecoff was a sitting duck if a fire ever started. But as we've heard in regards to so many of these historical fires, the builders and city had deemed the hotel fireproof. This fireproof building would be the site of the worst hotel fire in American history.

 On duty in the wee hours of the morning were the night engineer, the bellhop named Billy Mobley, the female elevator operator who also served as a maid and night clerk, Comer Rowan. At 3:30am, a guest rang asking for some ginger ale and ice to be brought up to the fifth floor. Rowan asked Billy to take the items up and the engineer decided to join him as he needed to do his rounds. The elevator operator dropped them off and then took the elevator to the basement to prepare to do her nightly rounds, but about the third floor she smelled smoke. She dropped off the elevator and went up to the main floor to tell Rowan that she thought she had smelled smoke. Meanwhile, Billy and the engineer are waiting outside of Room 510 for the guest to answer the door. Rowan told the elevator operator to go up and get the engineer while he investigated. He went up to the mezzanine and could see flames via a mirror and he ran for the phone and called the fire department. They arrived around 3:45am with three ladder and four pumper companies. Billy and the engineer were unaware that anything was happening when the guest invited them inside. The group visited for a few moments with the door closed. When they turned to leave, they found flames behind the closed door and quickly closed it again. Rowan returned to the front desk and began frantically calling every room, screaming "Fire" into the phone. He only got a few rooms before the switchboard went dead. That was it for a fire alarm. Most sleeping guests would have no idea the danger they were facing.

By the time the firemen had themselves set up, the building was engulfed from the the third floor, all the way to the top.  The ladders on the fire trucks could only reach to the eighth floor. Dragging out safety nets was not much help as they could only hold for jumps up to 70 feet away. Anyone above the eighth floor was probably going to die. There were no sprinklers to fight the flames and the interior embellishments fueled the fire. The first person to appear on a ledge was a woman on the seventh floor. She pulled her two children out with her as the flames drove her from their room. She tossed both children out into the air. She then jumped, but missed the net and got caught up in wires. Her nightgown had been touched by flames and she was soon engulfed. Other people knotted their sheets together to attempt to climb down from their windows, but clearly no sheet rope would be long enough. The firemen spent more time saving people than fighting the fire. They shouted for people not to jump. Spectators started putting together nets to catch people, but there was not a lot of success. People missed the nets by inches. Even more tragically, falling people killed others. One fireman who had a woman wrapped around his back was hit as he made his way down the ladder and he fell along with the woman he was attempting to save. All hands were on deck with the city of Atlanta's complete 60-piece fire department performing rescue operations outside of the Winecoff Hotel.

There were people who did survive though. A young boy was caught by a spectator. Another woman who jumped, managed to survive her injuries. A couple on an upper floor crawled out onto the ledge and made their way to athe room next to them that had a closed transom. They worked with the couple inside to jam a mattress against the door and they kept it soaked with water and they all survived. Another man was saved by going down a firetruck ladder. he then saved his mother by entering a building next to the hotel and using a board between windows to guide his mother out of her room and across to safety. Another couple used the board as well. It was a miracle. Firemen begged people to wait for rescue and many did listen as they perched on ledges outside windows. The firemen were true heroes with several having to be hospitalized for smoke inhalation later. They battled for six hours and then they had to take care of the dozens of dead bodies left in the building. Some were still in their beds, never realizing that the building was engulfed in flames. One hundred nineteen people died including William Winecoff. The cause of the fire was never officially announced with some saying it was an accident due to a dropped cigarette, but the running theory by most is that this was an intentional arson.

This would not be the end for the hotel. The Winecoff would never return, but the building would stand and be renovated. This fire would lead to new fire codes and regulations for all hotels. The building reopened in April of 1951 as the Peachtree Hotel on Peachtree. The hotel was successful for many years and then it was donated to the Georgia Baptist Convention in 1964 for use as a nursing home. Then it passed through several hands with nothing really coming from any of that. Eventually, that lead to it standing vacant for over two decades. In 2006, a multi-million dollar renovation was begun by RD Management under direction of the architects at Stevens & Wilkinson, Stang & Newdow and Juneau Construction Company. It opened in 2007 as the Ellis Hotel with 127 rooms, a fitness center, lounge, meeting spaces, business center and cafe. And that is what it is today. It also seems to be home to many ghosts.

Many of the early stories of experiences with the unexplained came from contractors and construction workers. They claimed to hear footsteps and disembodied voices coming from areas of the building that were empty. Tools would go missing or be moved. After guests started staying in the hotel, more reports came out that included not only the same experiences as the workers, but there were also the cries in the middle of the night, the sounds of people running in the hallways and the smell of smoke. Many guests on upper floors would get really angry about all the noise in a hotel that they were paying a lot of money to stay at. Staff at the front desk occasionally report getting calls from rooms that are empty. And then there were the faces. Many people have reported seeing faces peering out from the windows and while we could dismiss those as just being living people, these reports happened mostly when the building was abandoned. Security would be called out to chase away squatters and they would find no one. The fire alarm sometimes goes off in the early hours of the morning when the real fire started.

Another paranormal experience is shared by Reese Christian in her book, "Ghosts of Atlanta." A man named Bill Bryson was a bus driver for Smoky Mountain Trailways. His company permanently rented out a room on the ninth floor for their drivers to catch some sleep between drives. Bill was always uncomfrotable in the hotel because he had a fear of fire. It seems that many generations of his family had suffered loss at the hands of fire. His own parents home had recently burned to the ground before the Winecoff fire. While it would just be superstitious or paranoid to think that a fire would affect him too, Bill had another reason for his fear. He had had a premonition that he would die at 28-years-old because of a fire. He was in the Winecoff when it caught fire. The building next door was only ten feet away, so he figured he could jump to safety, but he was wrong. He leapt, missed and fell into an alley between the two buildings. An alley that would soon be littered with bodies.

The hotel is reluctant to share ghost stories. This is an elite hotel with no time for stories. But how could a building that was a setting for such a horrific event not have some kind of issue with paranormal residue? Is the Winecoff Hotel, now Ellis Hotel, haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, October 10, 2019

HGB Ep. 310 - Investigation of the Villisca Axe Murder House

Moment in Oddity - The Boojum of North Carolina
Suggested by: Nicole Capps Dixon

This past weekend we drove through North Carolina. We made it through safely without running into the Boojum of North Carolina. The Boojum lives deep in the North Carolina Smokies where it loves to hunt for gems. It gathers them greedily and puts them in old jugs that it buries. Supposed sightings describe the creature as being a cross of a man and an animal with shaggy gray hair all over its body, with only the face being bare. The Boojum stands nearly eight feet and has been compared to the Yeti. The legend claims that the creature likes pretty girls. Young girls bathing in mountain streams would say that they would feel as if they were being watched and might even see an animal-like creature peeking out from the bushes. Patrons of the Eagles Nest Hotel that was built by S.C. Satterthwait of Waynesville reported seeing the Boojum back in the early 1900s. It got so back that they demanded of him that he put a stop to the creature in some way. He wouldn't need to do that because the hotel burned down in April of 1918. People say that the eyes of the Boojum are very sad. Which makes one think that the Boojum is really nothing to be feared. Is the Boojum some weird cryptid creature? I don't know, but the legend of the Boojum certainly is odd.

This Month in History - The Veil of Our Lady Appears

In the month of October, on the 1st, in 911, the Virgin Mary appeared at the church in Blachernae holding her veil over the praying faithful. This appearance came to be known as the Veil of Our Lady and a feast is now observed on October 1st on the Orthodox calendar among the Slavic people. The symbol of the Theotokos, as the Virgin Mary is called in Eastern Christianity, holding a veil is believed to be protective. This appearance happened during a siege in Constantinople. St. Andrew of Constantinople was with several believers and his disciple St. Epiphanius holding a vigil in the Blachernae Palace Church. Several relics connected to Mary were stored at the church including part of her belt, a robe and her veil. As they prayed, the group saw not only the Virgin Mary, but also John the Baptist and some angels and saints. The Virgin Mary appeared in the center of the church and knelt as if in prayer and she began to weep. She removed her veil and spread it out as if over the people gathered there indicating her protection. The city was indeed spared of any bloodshed during the invasion.

Investigation of the Villisca Axe Murder House

In a quiet neighborhood, just a few blocks away from Villisca's downtown, stands a very ordinary looking white frame house. The crime that took place here was anything, but ordinary. Six children and two adults would go to sleep on the evening of June 9th in 1912 and never wake up. A neighbor and family member would find the six members of the J.B. Moore family dead, along with Lena and Ina Stillinger. The crime scene was horrific and bloody since all the victims were killed with an axe. The murders were never solved and justice never came. We featured the house back when the podcast first launched in October of 2014 on episode 7. I never imagined that I would eventually visit and tour the house, much less spend an evening sleeping inside. Join myself, Kelly and three listeners on this investigation of the Villisca Axe Murder House.

Kelly and I joined the last tour of the Villisca House on the night of our investigation with a couple of listeners, Jessica and Erina Garcia. This was our first time inside the house. My first impression was that the house is small, but not as small as I had envisioned it. The term rustic comes to mind as well. There is an outhouse out back, along with a hand water pump, both indications that there is no running water or plumbing in this house. There is no electricity either. You enter the house through the back door and the kitchen is right there. Obviously, none of the furnishings are original, but I can believe the house was similarly furnished with a large stove, small table and chairs and hutch. Leading off the kitchen is a pantry, a living room and a staircase that winds up to the second floor. The living room has the small bedroom off it where the Stillinger girls were murdered and this would be a center of activity for us, along with the kitchen. Upstairs is an open room where J.B. and his wife Sarah slept, a larger room where the children slept and the attic. I had hoped that the caretaker Johnny Houser would be our tour guide, but instead we had a young woman who clearly had better things to do. She ran through the history of the family, the crime and the aftermath in less than 10 minutes and did not guide us through the house. When she finished, we were free to explore. Jessica asked the question that we all will contemplate throughout the evening. She said, "It's such a small house, how come nobody woke up?" And that's just it. How did someone slaughter 8 people in this small home, some in bed next to each other, and nobody heard a thing or woke up save for maybe one of the Stillinger girls? Cigarette butts were found in the attic doorway area and the theory is that the killer was already in the house and waiting here when the family arrived home. And again, how did one person pull this off completely undetected?

Jessica and Erina left, along with the other visitors and Dolly, Kathy and Peter arrived. Our team was here and we were excited to begin our investigation. We were given the keys to the house and to the barn behind it that had the restroom and electricity. We decided to go into town and get dinner at the only restaurant in downtown that was open, TJ's Cafe. The food was good and we enjoyed our waitress, although we all got the once over when we first entered. As our server, Cassie, left she called back, "You guys staying at the House?" She told us to have fun and remember that nothing was open in town on a Sunday morning. After we finished dinner, we decided to hit the cemetery to visit the Moore's family plot. Dolly lead the way as she had already been to Villisca. The entire family is buried side by side under the same tombstone that stretched vertically at least six feet, probably more. It was a long piece of granite. We paid our respects and did a live broadcast. Then we were heading back to the house.

English Victorian novelist Sir Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton is credited as the first to coin the phrase, "It was a dark and stormy night." We were going to experience that within the walls of the Villisca House. A raging thunderstorm would keep the night sky almost lit up as bright as day with lightning for hours. The rain came down so hard and intense that the only time we found ourselves running about the house with anxiety was when the roof began to leak in several areas in the kitchen and we started grabbing pots to keep the water off the floor. This was an unusually intense storm we were told by natives. Definitely not the kind of storm one wants to experience while investigating an infamously haunted house.

We had several pieces of equipment with us from EMF detectors to audio recorders to a spirit box to dowsing rods to flashlights and we will end up getting results with everything. Dolly had brought some old fashion candy as a trigger object: rootbeer barrel hard candies. It was an unspoken agreement that we were here to gain communication with respect and we were more interested in the people who had once lived here and died here than the crime that was committed or the killer. This home has a reputation for having a bad energy and people seem truly scared to stay overnight. I can honestly say that no one in our party had a scary experience and we really enjoyed ourselves as we bonded over a mutual interest in the paranormal. I believe, based on the evidence we collected, that the only spirits that we communicated with were children.I had three recorders. One I set up in the Stillinger Bedroom, another I carried with me or set down in the kitchen and a smaller one that I don't use much I used as a short term recorder, so we could rewind and listen back for answers to questions.

The first bit of audio I want to share features you joining us in the kitchen for a discussion about the fact that the EMF readers have been going off and sometimes seem to be doing it as an answer to questions. Kelly also has the Temperature Gun out and is seeing if she can get an interaction with that. You will hear Paul mentioned in this clip and that is because Paul is the one who mainly seemed to interact with us all evening. Paul was the youngest of the four Moore children. He was only five when a stranger bludgeoned him to death. Kelly leaves us and heads into the Stillinger Room. We had set up the flashlight in the Living Room to see if it would turn on and it didn't, so Kelly decided to take the flashlight in the bedroom with her and she set it on the bed. We hear a commotion from the room because Kelly misses the chair she tries to sit in. The clumsiness seems to have broken the ice with the girls and she gets out the dowsing rods for a session and the she gets some great results! So the flashlight turned on and off a couple of times.

Now here are some of the things we think we caught audio wise. We ran the spirit box. I had a hard time with this one I ask about pets. Did we get an answer? Then we had this weird interaction. A blue jersey? And then even though I couldn't get what it had said, I asked about sports. Then was this I work too? I ask about the school name and we get I ask what city we are in and can't understand what is said On your Facebook? But no way that it could be. I ask about chores and this sounds like it says "There he is" This next one was just random and I have no idea what it is It's like they're looking? This one is very clear. I think this is Kelly asking if it's okay that we are using the Spirit Box and it says exactly. Next one random, trying to get into the? Then buy a hat? Then we'll give it to you? We hear the train and talk about it. Does it say be patient or station? And then we ask where they went, does it say city? And then something about friends? I offer some Skittles and we think we get a Yup or Yuck? This one sounded weird to me like there is another voice saying the same thing that sounds like a young girl. We ask for a name and it sounds like we get Frank  Not sure what this was. Listeners have any idea? We discuss the Spirit Box as a group. Read about it here.

We also may have caught an EVP. Child mumbling? We did return to the Stillinger Room and the flashlight turned on for us again, right into the eyes of poor Kathy was sitting near the floor facing the flashlight. We gotta talk about our friendly cat too. We went to bed about midnight and got up a couple times to pee. All was quiet through the night.

We talked about a lot of things throughout the evening. One of those things was the color of spirits. Little did I know that by dawn, I would experience this phenomenon for the second time in my life. I share the story of the early morning train and small purple burst of color. Kelly didn't see that, but she saw something else that I just dismissed as my eyes seeing things, these little lines of white streaks. Was this one of the kids manifesting? Was it the train that got them to come to the room and manifest in this way? Was it because the killer came by the train? I debunked and investigated whether audio could cause visual manifestations.

So the house was not a scary place for us. We feel like we got some good communication. Is the Villisca Axe Murder House haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, October 3, 2019

HGB Ep. 309 - 1889 McInteer Villa

Moment in Oddity - The Human Fly Dies at Rutherford County Courthouse

The Atlanta Constitution reported on April 7, 1923: "'Human Fly' Falls Off Court House Steeple to Death, "Stunt" Performer Instantly Killed in 40-foot Drop to Roof." A story of this sort with a man claiming to be a human fly certainly catches the eye of a Fortean. The Human Fly was a young man of 25 named Ray Royce who was a daredevil steeplejack. He arrived in Murfreesboro, Tennessee in 1923 with his sights set on scaling the Rutherford County Courthouse. He asked officials for permission and told them that he would only be using his hands and feet, so there would be no damage to the building. He also pointed out that he had scaled taller buildings successfully. They agreed to let him do it and then he went about getting local businesses to sponsor his great feat. Two hundred people gathered to watch on the night of April 6, 1923 and a hat was passed around for donations, which came back with only $12. Royce was not deterred and he began his accent with the spotlight from a firetruck lighting the scene. He quickly climbed the brick exterior and made it past the second floor courtroom and onto the flat roof. He then climbed the steel cupola and stood over the weather vane. He had made it to the top, some 200 feet above the crowd. They cheered and that should have been it for the show. Royce climbed down to the roof, but then for a reason only he knows, he decided to climb the cupola again. A light rain had begun falling and predictably, he lost his grip and fell 40 feet. He broke his neck and knocked a hole into his head. People would find out that Royce was really James A. Dearing and that Ray Royce was a stage name. Royce wasn't the first man to claim to be a human fly and he wouldn't be the last and he wouldn't be the only one to die. Why he chose to climb back up the courthouse will remain a mystery and certainly is odd!

This Month in History - The Reuben James Torpedoed

In the month of October, on the 31st, in 1941 the USS Reuben James was sunk by a German torpedo. Construction of the Reuben James began on April 2, 1919 and was launched in October of 1919. This was a four-funnel Clemson-class destroyer and named for Boatswain's Mate Reuben James whom had fought heroically in the First Barbary War. It was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet and participated in post-World War I activities, particularly helping refugees. When World War II started, she joined the Neutrality Patrol, guarding the Atlantic coast. The Reuben James eventually started escorting convoys to Great Britain and Iceland. Her final voyage would start on October 23, 1941 and launched from Newfoundland. She was accompanied by four other destroyers with a mission to escort the eastbound Convoy HX 156. Right off of Iceland, she was torpedoed by U-552. It was a heroic act as the destroyer got between an Allied ammunition ship and a group of German U-boats. Her entire bow was blown off and immediately sank. The back end of the ship was below the waves in five minutes. The attack killed 100 men, leaving only 44 of the crew members alive. Pearl Harbor had not been attacked yet, so this sinking of an American ship happened before America had entered the war, making it the first US Navy ship sunk in the European theater.

1889 McInteer Villa (Suggested by listener Laura Weikel)

Atchison, Kansas was once a really prosperous town and John McInteer laid down roots here. The McInteer Villa began as a grand home for the McInteer family and over the last century it has been a place of comfort for many people. For several decades it was a boarding house and then eventually it became a private home once again. Through that time, it has not only been a place for the living, but also for, reputedly, the dead. There are several here and the McInteer Villa hosts tours and investigations. This location helps solidify Atchison as one of the most haunted towns in Kansas. Join me and the owners of the McInteer Villa, Stephanie and Jeff Neal, as we discuss the history and hauntings of this historic home!

Jeff and Stephanie have definitely had many of their own experiences and, of course, I love that Jeff is a skeptic because it makes his experiences that much more believable.  I look forward to finding out for myself if there really is someone or something trying to communicate from beyond the veil. Is the McInteer Villa haunted? That is for you to decide!