Suggested by: April Marie
You've all probably heard of bog bodies before. These are human bodies that have been mummified in peat bogs and are found in Europe. But you did you know that Florida has its own bog bodies? A construction crew was working in Windover, Florida in 1982 building a new subdivision about halfwat between Disneyworld and Cape Canaveral. A man was working a backhoe to empty out the muck from a pond when he stumbled across a great archaeological find. There were 167 bodies in a pond and researchers from Florida State University were stunned when they found out that their estimate that these were 600 year old Native American bones turned out to be wrong. Radiocarbon dating put the bones at nearly 8,000 years old. The Florida bog bodies are different from European bog bodies in that they have no flesh left on the bones. But they do have their brain material still in the skull. This meant bodies were buried quickly. Most were found in the fetal position, lying on their left sides with their heads pointing to the west. To hold the bodies in the muck pond, whomever buried them, drove a stake through the fabric that enshrouded the bodies. The archaeologists found signs that the community cared for their injured and toys were made for the children who were buried with them. Contents in the area of stomachs showed that medicinal herbs were being used to perhaps cure illnesses. This was a hunter gatherer group that existed before the pyramids in Egypt were built and DNA revealed that they were not related in any way to other Native American groups found in the area and that, certainly is odd!
This Month in History - Butterfield Overland Mail Route and Old Wire Road
Suggested by: Jenny Lynn Raines
In the month of January, on the 16th, in 1858, a team of people left San Francisco to begin laying out the Stagecoach stations for the Butterfield Overland Mail Route. The route was named for John Butterfield, the man awarded the Overland Mail Company contract by the Postmaster General. He had 37 years of experience and was well suited to the task. The stagecoach service operated from 1858 to 1861. The really fascinating part of this is that this route actually started as the Osage Trace, which was a trail used by Native Americans for hunting migration. In 1836, the part of this trail that stretched between Versailles, Missouri and Fayetteville, Arkansas became known as "The Fayetteville Road." Telegraph lines were added along the route in 1860. The name would change to "Telegraph Road." Another name change came during the Civil War when it was used by troops moving between Missouri and Arkansas and they started calling it "The Military Road." When the war was over, the name "The Wire Road" started being used. Again referencing the important telegraph lines. These lines, as we know, became obsolete and so the name became "Old Wire Road." So if you live near an Old Wire Road, you now know why it has that unusual name and the important history behind it.
Kelly and I have watched, along with the rest of the world, as fire has devastated the entire country of Australia in 2019 and 2020. Fire renews, but it destroys everything in its wake before that renewal and the tragic statistics have been devastating. The fires have raged for over six months, thousands of homes have been destroyed, dozens of people are dead, millions of acres are scorched and the worst statistic is that nearly a billion animals are estimated to have been killed. One of the places hit hard is Kangaroo Island. Nearly half of the island was burned. This is a beautiful place and is one of Australia's largest islands. There is a rich history here incorporating both the Aboriginal people, the settlers who made this their home and the treacherous waters that surround the island. All of these have contributed to reports of unexplained events and hauntings. Join us as we share the history and haunting of Kangaroo Island!
The first time we heard about hauntings on Kangaroo Island was in December of 2019 when a listener in Australia named Kathy wrote, "Then in April this year I went to Kangaroo Island off Adelaide, South Australia. It was mid avo & I was having a little rest & I’d placed some books I’d brought in the little inbuilt bookcase when some of the books - not all of them- flew out of the bookcase & plonked on the ground. I didn’t see the event but definitely heard it. So I got up & as I picked my books up I said 'whoever is here with my, you’re welcome to stay BUT you aren’t to do anymore of this.' And they didn’t do any further actions." When we started looking into reports of spirits, we found many. But before we get into that, let's lay the groundwork for any good investigation and look at the history.
Matthew Flinders was a navigator and scientist who was born in England in 1774. He was inspired to become an explorer after reading Robinson Crusoe and joined the navy to facilitate this goal. He worked his way up in rank and attained commander in February of 1801. He was given the H.M.S. Investigator to command with instructions to explore the south Australian coastline, referred to at the time as the "The Unknown Coast." Before he left, he married Ann Chappell and intended to take her with him, but he was not allowed and the couple would be separated for nine years. Flinders first hit Cape Leeuwin in December of 1801 and continued sailing eastward to the western extreme of the Unknown Coast. In March of 1802, Flinders found Kangaroo Island and gave the island its name because of the western grey kangaroo that they found there. French explorer Nicolas Baudin mapped out the island and was the first to circumnavigate it.
But as is the case with most places that Europeans eventually settled, they were not the ones who discovered the island, nor were they the first to call it home. There are archaeologists who believe that Aboriginal people may have been here starting 16,000 years ago and remained until 2,000 years ago. They called the island Karta, which meant "Island of the Dead." Because nobody really knows who these Aboriginal groups were, I can't really tell you who they were. Settlers in Southern Australia grouped all of the indigenous people under the term Ngarrindjeri, which means belonging to men. We want to be clear here that this is like saying Native Americans in the US. There are many different tribes and they have particular distinctions and that is the same in Australia. They are called clans there though. Some of these related family groups include the Jarildekald, Tanganekald, Meintangk and Ramindjeri. Other clan groups not lumped into the Ngarrindjeri that were from nearby Adelaide are the Kaurna and Peramangk. The Peramangk were wiped out save for a bit of DNA that can still be traced. I would venture to guess that some of their ancestors were on Kangaroo Island. A really neat fact about these Aboriginal groups is that they have dreaming stories.
One of these stories from the Peramangk is about Tjilbruke who was described as the Water and Fire Man. He went through the territory marking off boundaries and the Mount Lofty Ranges are said to have been formed from his body. the Mount Lofty Range was also said to be formed from the body of Yurebilla the Giant. The story of the Mingka Bird tells of Mount Barker and a little bird who lived there that would announce the approach of visitors. The Mingka would also work like a Banshee in that its call could signal the death of a loved one. And there is a story about Nganno the Giant. His son was murdered and Nganno journeyed far and wide to find the murderers. While he was traveling, he named the places he passed through and also formed rivers, which he filled with fish. He eventually did find the murderers and killed them and decided to return home. The journey had changed him greatly and his people almost didn't recognize him. They feared him and ran into the sea where they transformed into sea creatures. They called out things like "I am a whale" and "I am a shark" and that is what they would become. Some of Nganno's people did not recognize him at all and they killed him and when he fell, part of his body made up the Mount Lofty Range.So lots of these legendary people built those mountains with their bodies.
The story of The Ngurunderi Dreaming from the Murray River website:
"In the Dreaming, Ngurunderi travelled down the Murray River in a bark canoe, in search of his two wives who had run away from him. At that time the river was only a small stream, below the junction with the Darling River.
A giant cod fish (Ponde) swam ahead of the Ngurunderi, widening the river with sweeps of its tail. Ngurunderi chased the fish, trying to spear it from his canoe. Near Murray Bridge he threw a spear, but missed and was changed into Long Island (Lenteilin). At Tailem Bend (Tagalang) he threw another; the giant fish surged ahead and created a long straight stretch in the river.
At last, with the help of Nepele (the brother of Ngurunderi's wives), Ponde was speared after it had left the Murray River and had swum into Lake Alexandrina. Ngurunderi divided the fish with his stone knife and created a new species of fish from each piece.
Meanwhile, Ngurunderi's two wives (the sisters of Nepele) had made camp. On their campfire they were cooking bony bream, a fish forbidden to the Ngarrindjeri women. Ngurunderi smelt the fish cooking and knew his wives were close. He abandoned his camp, and came after them. His huts became two hills and his bark canoe became the Milky Way.
Hearing Ngurunderi coming, his wives just had time to build a raft of reeds and grass-trees and to escape across Lake Albert. On the other side their raft turned back into the reds and grass-trees. The women hurried south.
Ngurunderi followed his wives as far south as Kingston. Here he met a great sourcer, Parampari. The two men fought, using weapons and magic powers, until eventually Ngurunderi won. He burnt Parampari's body in a huge fire, symbolised by granite boulders today, and turned north along the Coorong beach. Here he camped several times, digging soaks in the sand for fresh water, and fishing in the Coorong lagoon.
Ngurunderi made his way across the Murray Mouth and along the Encounter Bay coast towards Victor Harbor. He made a fishing ground at Middleton by throwing a huge tree into the sea to make a seaweed bed. Here he hunted and killed a seal; its dying gasps can still be heard among the rocks. At Port Elliot he camped and fished again, without seeing a sign of his wives. He became angry and threw his spear into the sea at Victor Habour, creating the islands there.
Finally, after resting in a giant granite shade-shelter on Granite Island (Kaike), Ngurunderi heard his wives laughing and playing in the water near King's Beach. He hurled his club to the ground, creating the Bluff (Longkuwar), and strode after them.
His wives fled along the beach in terror until they reached Cape Jervis. At this time, Kangaroo Island was still connected to the mainland, and the two women began to hurry across to it. Ngurunderi had arrived at Cape Jervis though, and seeing his wives still fleeing from him, he called out in a voice of thunder for the waters to rise. The women were swept from their path by huge waves and were soon drowned. They became the rocky Pages Islands.
Ngurunderi knew that it was time for him to enter the spirit world. He crossed to Kangaroo Island and travelled to its western end. After first throwing his spears into the sea, he dived in, before rising to become a star in the Milky Way."
The first settlers would come in 1802 and these were British sealers. They kidnapped Tasmanian indigenous women to bring with them as wives and the way we heard it described is that they were mistreated at first, but eventually the men began to respect them because they knew how to live in the untamed land of this third largest Australian island. Many of the kidnapped Aboriginal women tried to escape by crossing Backstairs Passage and this wasn't just by boat. Several swam for freedom and died trying. Records indicate that only one woman ever made the swim alive. The British would start colonizing South Australia in 1829. Kangaroo Island would be colonized in 1836 and this brought a farming community in that displaced the first islanders. By the late 1870s, only three Aboriginal women still remained and they were named Sal, Suke and Betty. Betty's descendants still live on Kangaroo Island.
There was not only sealing and farming here, but also salt harvesting. Whaling stations were set up in the 1840s at Doyle’s Bay, D’Estrees Bay and Hog Bay. In 1852, the first lighthouse was built at Cape Willoughby. This was desperately needed as the waters off of Kangaroo Island were treacherous. More lighthouses were added through the years with Cape Borda Lightstation in 1858, the Cape du Couedic Lighthouse in 1906 and Cape St Albans Lighthouse in 1908. The waters wrecked many ships like the cutter William heading for the whaling station in Hog Bay on August 23, 1847. The greatest loss of life came in 1899 when the Loch Sloy wrecked in Maupertuis Bay, Thirty-one people drowned. Other shipwrecks were the Loch Vennachar in 1905 and the Portland Maru in 1935. The first colonial settlement was Kingscote and it is the islands largest town. There are around 4,000 people living on the island, at least, there were until the bush fires. A ferry brings people in and out, along with supplies. The island has become known for its wine and honey that comes from Ligurian Bees. And it's a popular tourist destination. We wonder how many of those tourists know they are wandering onto a haunted island.
*Share fun facts about the island*
An interesting story popped up as we searched for ghost stories about a ghost boat found off of Kangaroo Island in January 2019. Apparently, Abby Sunderland left on an around-the-world sailing trip as a teenager. That's pretty brave. She suffered many setbacks and had various issues, eventually having to abandon her boat called Wild Eyes in 2010. She had to be rescued by French and Australian authorities. The boat had been lost for eight years.
There are many stories of the unexplained and hauntings on Kangaroo Island. The Aboriginal people called this the Island of the Dead for the reason. These early people were the Ngarrindjeri people and they believed that the island is where spirits traveled after death. The ancestral spirits would gather here before the final journey into heaven. Another group of people here were the Ramindjeri and they thought of the island as being the "gateway to star heaven in the Milky Way." The Ramindjeri have a spirit here of a woman who died that appears to people as a small bird.
As is the case with many of the lighthouses around the world, Kangaroo Island has haunted lighthouses. Families who stayed in the lighthouses were very isolated because no roads linked the lighthouses to the main parts of the island. This was a very hard existence.
Cape Willoughby Lighthouse
Cape Willoughby Lightstation is found in Cape Willoughby Conservation Park and was the first lightstation in South Australia. It was first lit on January 16, 1852. The cottages have claims of unexplained stuff creaking floorboards and fingers tapping on the windows. A man named Clive Daniels was staying there one night with his wife and family in 1993. The group soon figured out that they were not alone. Clive was playing his guitar and writing music inside the lighthouse alone. He could feel the atmosphere changing. The air got heavier and he heard the sound of a wooden door creaking open. The lighthouse had no wooden door. And then he heard the footsteps climbing up towards the top of the lighthouse where he was sitting. Clive's flashlight inexplicably went out. The battery had been new. Then he felt a presence. An icy cold mist surrounded him and he could feel it watching him. He shivered. He put his guitar away and made his way down the tower as best he could in the darkness. When he got outside, his flashlight turned on again. He looked back at the lighthouse and he thought he saw someone up at the top. About a half hour after he returned to the cottage he was sharing with his wife, she awoke and felt something in the room. She woke Clive and he thought it was the same presence as the one in the lighthouse. Then the shower turned itself on by itself. It ran for 15 minutes. They went to investigate when the shower turned off to see if someone had actually taken a shower at 2am. Clive's wife Robin found the bathroom empty and dry. No water in the shower, no warm misty air or steam on the mirror. The next morning, Clive's sister told him that a shadowy figure had come into her room during the night. She at first thought it was a piece of luggage and went back to sleep. She found a trail of sand on the floor and no one had been to the beach. The family finally packed up and left when a newspaper on the table had its pages flipped all on its own. What could be haunting the place? The gorge beneath the lighthouse is called the Devil's Kitchen. Several ships wrecked here killing sailors. And a lighthouse keeper died here in the lantern room in 1869.
Cape Borda Lightstation
The Cape Borda Lighthouse was originally known as Flinders Light and is perched on the cliffs of Investigator Strait, which is at the north western corner of Kangaroo Island. The lighthouse is very uniquely shaped. Rather than round, it is square and doesn't stand very tall. Construction was completed in 1858 and this is the third oldest remaining lighthouse. Supplies were brought in by ship and had to be hauled up the cliff edges. Cape Borda was automated in 1989 and is still fully operational with even the fog cannon still being fired daily. The keeper’s cottage is said to be haunted. Tourists can rented out the cottage and several have claimed to experience weird things while there. The main spirit said to be here belongs to a little girl.
Cape du Couedic Lighthouse
The Cape du Couedic Lighthouse has a tower with a red cap that was constructed from 2,000 pieces of local stone and a Fresnal lens made by Chance Brothers. There were three four-roomed cottages built as well for the keepers to use as living quarters. The way that supplies made it to the lighthouse was via boat and hauled up to the lighthouse by a flying fox winching system that was originally powered by a pair of horses. Visitors books report all the different haunting experiences visitors have had while staying here. Many people have seen the apparition of an elderly man who people believe is a former lighthouse keeper. There are weird sounds and lights turn on and off by themselves, particularly in empty cottages.
The women who write the Ghost and Girl Blog wrote an article entitled "Favourite Haunts: A Sea of Ghosts on Kangaroo Island" and in that article, one of them detailed her visit to Cape du Couedic and experiences she had writing, "I was completely restless the entire first evening of our stay. Inside the cottage, it felt as though we were constantly watched. I know it sounds terribly cliché, but this sensation was so intense that it made the hairs on the back of my neck remain permanently raised, as if something was hovering just behind me, deliberately staying out of sight. Whenever I looked up, or turned around, or walked out of one room and into another, I could not escape the feeling that at any moment I would find a stranger staring at me from within the shadows. Then on the first night, not long after I had dozed off, I was woken suddenly by what I thought was someone whispering in my ear: "My name is John..." I live in an old, stone house, and am therefore familiar with the sounds that old, stone houses make in the night: The pop and crack of the roof and floorboards as the house cools; the knocking of the stones and the rattle of sash windows and doors as it shifts and settles; the howl of the wind as it makes it way down the chimneys. And for the first two nights at Cape du Couedic, the wind howled and the sea crashed in a way that only the Southern Ocean is capable of, and all the noises we heard during those two nights we could confidently say were nothing more than the normal sounds that an old stone cottage makes during nights of wild weather. On the third night, though, we were blessed with perfect calm. The eerie sensation of being watched and followed had abated, and we found ourselves quite comfortable within the walls of the old assistant keeper's cottage. It made for an undisturbed sleep. However, in the early hours of that last morning, before the sun had even peaked above the horizon, I woke from my slumber, unmoving, but fully awake and alert. Outside it was perfectly still, not even the sound of a bird could be heard. And then, just as it had been reported countless times in the visitor books, there came the sound of movement from the other end of the corridor outside the bedroom: A shuffling, thumping and tapping, the distinct sounds of someone pulling on boots, followed by footsteps proceeding down the hallway to the front door, first becoming louder at their approach, before gently fading away. The tales of the ghosts of Cape du Couedic do not reveal, nor even hazard a guess at the identity of the spirit whose footsteps are so regularly heard making their way down the hallway in the cottage. I like to think that it is one of the old assistant light-keepers making his early-morning check of the lighthouse. Whilst it's easy to make assumptions, it's more difficult to confirm if any of the assistant light-keeper's stationed at Cape du Couedic, and resident of the same cottage, were actually named John. It'd be a neat coincidence if there was, though."
Cape St Albans Lighthouse
Cape St Albans Lighthouse was built in 1908 out of stone and painted white. Access to the lantern room was unusual in that a cast iron staircase was built on the outside. The tower had a fixed white light with a red sector to warn of the Scraper Shoal and was unmanned running off of kerosene. In 1914, the light was converted acetylene gas. A switch to electricity was made in 1976. We couldn't find any ghost stories for this one.
A possible ghost light was seen on the island in 1998. Two people were out walking on Snelling Beach on the island late at night when they saw a yellowish white light on the hillside. This ghost light moved south along the valley at about tree level and then suddenly turned and started coming towards the witnesses. The color of the light changed from yellow to a bright white and grew from the size of a tennis ball to the size of a dinner plate. The light changed direction again and moved away from the witnesses and got smaller. A second light joined the first a little bit later and then they both disappeared over the hillside.
Now I don't usually get into talking about UFO sightings, but there have been a couple of interesting reports from Kangaroo Island that were reported on the Haunted Adelaide Blog. Alan Potter was a radio technician apprentice who was working at the Adelaide Airport in 1969 tracking a Fokker Friendship aeroplane when he reported seeing a second object flying in a straight line towards the aeroplane. Potter told ABC Radio of the incident, "I still don't think I believe in UFO’s but I can't explain this. As the Fokker tracked towards Kangaroo Island, a smaller echo, much smaller than the Fokker, appeared to leave the large echo and fly in a line directly towards the plane. With one rotation of the radar antennae, that large echo had moved 70 nautical miles to the north-east, in the next pass it had disappeared off the screen completely."
The bush fires on Kangaroo Island are devastating. Countless animals have been killed and lots of gorgeous acreage will now have to rebuild. This is a land of mystique and legends among the Aboriginal people. Are there spirits here? Is Kangaroo Island haunted? That is for you to decide!