Moment in Oddity - The Great Emu War
Suggested by: Chelcie Williams
Imagine declaring war on Emus and then losing. That is exactly what Australia did in 1932. The term war is not used as hyperbole here. Real weapons of war were employed during this futile attempt to lower the population of emu. Apparently, emus had moved inland in record numbers to begin their breeding. This was at a time when the Great Depression was in full swing and farmers were having a hard time with their crops. Farmers complained to the government and the government decided to enlist the help of some World War I soldiers. The soldiers came ready for full battle, toting machine guns. They assumed that they would just have to fire into these huge flocks of emus and be done with the task quickly. But that's not what happened as documented by Ornithologist D.L. Serventy. He wrote, "The machine-gunners’ dreams of point blank fire into serried masses of Emus were soon dissipated. The Emu command had evidently ordered guerrilla tactics, and its unwieldy army soon split up into innumerable small units that made use of the military equipment uneconomic. A crestfallen field force therefore withdrew from the combat area after about a month." Very few emus were dispatched and they are plentiful today. So basically, the emus won the war and the fact that this was dubbed the Great Emu War, certainly is odd!
This Month in History - Idi Amin Becomes Dictator
In the month of January, on the 25th, in 1971, Idi Amin deposes President Milton Obote in Uganda. Idi Amin had been a Ugandan military officer who started his military career in 1946 when he became a cook for the KIng's African Rifles of the British Colonial Army. He quickly rose in rank and after Uganda would gain its independence from the UK in 1962, he became the Commander of the Army. He used this position to misappropriate funds and enrich himself. He found out that the president was going to arrest him for this activity and he decided to head a military coup. After deposing Obote, Idi Amin would declare himself President and start a reign that would lead Amin to being nicknamed the "Butcher of Uganda." He would rule as a dictator, not president, from 1971 until 1979. During that time, he expelled all Asians and ordered the execution of more than 300,000 tribal Ugandans. There are some who put his murderous streak at 500,000. There was political repression and rampant human rights abuses. He would finally by ousted in 1979 by Tanzanian soldiers and Ugandan nationalists.
In October of 2019, we met up with some listeners in the town of Roswell, Georgia and took a ghost tour. This is a charming Southern town where one can carry a Roadie as they traverse the graves in Founder's Cemetery or walk past the beautiful Antebellum mansions or roam through the ruins of mills.This town was Teddy Roosevelt's mother's hometown and played witness to some of the horrors of the Civil War. The spiritual residue is thick not only from battles, but Roswell sits alongside a deep gorge and fault line. Does the electromagnetic energy of the area attract spirits? Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of Roswell, Georgia!
Roswell Ghost Tours has been hosting tours for almost 20 years and we really enjoyed our tour guide Alice. The tour was started by a guy named Jack and then taken over by a woman named Dianna Avena and she wrote the book "Roswell: History, Haunts and Legends." Chip Coffey wrote the Forward and was going to be on the tour that ran after ours. Dianna has sold the tour, but everything about it is still based in her expertise on the town of Roswell. Kelly and I were joined by Tammie and Brian Burroughs and Christy Bacon and her family. We met under a gazebo in a park for introductions and then we were off. In the intro, we mentioned a Roadie. Roswell is one of those cities that allows to-go cups and that's their nickname for them. We opted not to carry one because, well, Kelly...and walking... This was actually my second visit to the town. I had visited back in 2014 and at that time I had just wandered through the Old Roswell Cemetery. Roswell's First Methodist Church was built on this plot in 1836. The
church was an original log cabin style structure with stone steps and
the earliest pastor of the church requested that he and his wife be
buried as close to the spot where the original pulpit stood and that
their graves be marked by two of the stones from the steps. The
cemetery was probably founded at the same time as the church but the
earliest burial that can still be deciphered was in 1846 and was that of
a four month old girl. The cemetery has 1,950 known burials. We wouldn't visit this cemetery on the tour though.
Roswell is about 30 minutes north of Atlanta and while it has a small town feel, it is actually the sixth largest city in Georgia.The architecture is unique with New England influences added to Greek Revival styling. The town gets its name from Roswell King who came to Georgia in 1788. He got involved with cotton, lumber and rice and worked as a broker. He married his wife Catherine in 1792 and the couple would have nine children. There was talk of gold in north Georgia in the early 1830s and Roswell wanted in on the action. This coincided with the Native American groups being run out via the Trail of Tears and a lot of land was up for grabs. This was a rich area that the Native Americans had referred to as "Enchanted Land." Roswell bought up land near Vickery Creek and he built a textile mill. Several other families with wealth had joined him - the Dunwodys, Pratts, Smiths and Bullochs - and they would establish a mill village. There would be a center street through town and on one side, the rich families built their Antebellum mansions and on the other side, the mill workers and slaves lived. Roswell would die in 1844 and ten years later, the town would be incorporated.
The mills were key for the South, so they could process cotton without sending it north. Mill workers were little more than servants receiving poor pay and treatment. They were paid in script leaving generations of families in debt and basically forced to work in the mills. In 1840, the Roswell Manufacturing Company would open two mills that would be burned down during the Civil War. They rebuilt and the mills were open until the 1970s. In 1853, Roswell had two cotton mills, a woolen mill, flour mill and tannery. In the middle of the Historic Mill Village, in Old Mill Park on Sloan Street, is located the Lost Mill Workers Memorial. The women and children of Roswell had to take over the running of the woolen mill near Roswell's covered bridge because the men had been sent off to fight in the Civil War. This mill was responsible for making the Roswell Grey that was material used to make Confederate uniforms. General Sherman sent General Kenner Garrard with four thousand troops to capture Roswell's covered bridge, which would threaten the Confederates downstream on the Chattahoochee River. Garrard did just that and he discovered what the mills were doing and reported this back to Sherman who ordered that the families be run out of town. Many of these families would never return to Roswell. The memorial is dedicated to the four hundred women and children charged with treason and run out of town. Some didn't survive the trip as they were forced on foot to Marietta and then shipped out by boxcar with little rations. Because they were poor, they would never be able to pay to return. Most would never reunite with husbands if they had survived the war. Many northerners were outraged by the action. The screams of the women and children seem to have locked into the mills. There are people who claim to hear these screams like some kind of residual energy. We stopped for a restroom break in this park and Alice showed us a picture taken on a tour and it looks like you can see a figure in a uniform with a sword, standing near a woman whose husband had snapped the picture. You could clearly see that she was throwing a shadow, but this figure was not.
The Union troops hung out in the city for twelve days and took over many of the Antebellum mansions. It is believed that they didn't burn the homes because they had occupied them. The mansions have been restored and many of them can be toured. We will touch on several of them. Roswell survived the war and the Great Depression and has bounced back really well. Now it is one of Georgia's largest cities, but it still has a homey feel. For a place with a small town feel, Roswell has more than its share of ghosts. Vickery Creek feeds into the Chattahoochee River and water is a great conductor of energy. But there is even more here. In our episode about Kentucky caves, we talked about these deep caves being places where spirit activity is high. The Hellier series by Planet Weird explores these theories of unexplained things hiding in the cold recesses of caverns. Roswell has deep gorges along Vickery Creek, with some areas diving 300 feet deep. Add that a fault line runs beneath Roswell and you have the beginnings for reasons to have high levels of paranormal activity. But there are also the personal ghost stories that have come about because of tragedy. This first tale is a tough one and we will try to relate it in a less graphic way.
Blanche Lowe Sr. and Jr. lived together in a home along Main Street about 300 yards from the Town Square. Apartments now stand where the home used to be located. The mother and daughter enjoyed getting dressed up in their 1940s finest and heading out for dinner and a movie in Atlanta every Saturday. Eventually Blanche Sr. got Alzheimer's disease and at the time it was hard to find care. Blanche Jr. worked in Atlanta and she always worried about her mother wandering. The two Blanches loved dogs and they took in many strays and Jr. hoped that the dogs company would help settle her mother. But if you guys know Alzheimer's Disease, people who suffer from it wander no matter what you do. Blanche Jr. decided that tying her mother to a chair would be the best alternative. Every morning, she would tie her mother in the chair and then free her when she got home. One day, Blanche Sr. cut herself and was bleeding enough that it attracted the dogs. We won't get into details, but when Blanche Jr. got home, she found her mother dead. Just tragic. And now that tragedy has left the residual image of two women dressed in their 1940s best, standing on a corner at the north end of the Town Square waiting for a taxi.
Barrington Hall was our first stop on the tour and has been named one of the "50 Most Beautiful Homes in Metro Atlanta." This mansion was built in 1842 by Barrington King, the son of Roswell King, and he chose a spot on the highest hill in Roswell. The style is Greek Revival, which is clearly visible in the fourteen Doric columns, and materials used in the construction include termite-resistant heart-of-pine and virgin pine that was aged two years. There is a three-sided piazza as well and everything was designed by architect Willis Ball. Barrington and his wife had twelve children and nine of them survived into adulthood.
Both Barrington and Roswell died in this house. An interesting story connected to Roswell is that a slave was told to sit with Roswell's body until his wake. In the middle of the night, the corpse let out a bellow that scared the poor man keeping watch so much, that he jumped up and fell out of the upstairs bedroom window breaking his neck in the fall. Barrington had died at 68 from a kick that he received from a horse. His wife, Catherine, stayed in the home and died here as well. Here daughter Eva had married William Baker, whom was a pastor, and they moved into the house to care for Catherine and then stayed until Eva's death in 1923. Eva had left the mansion to her children. They wanted to sell the place, but Eva's favorite granddaughter, Evelyn Simpson, wouldn't hear of it and she managed to raise enough money to buy the property from the rest of the family and she kept it until she died in 1960 and her sister Katharine took over care of the property and adopted a good friend named Lois Carson, so that Lois could inherit the house when Katharine died in 1995. We're not sure if there was some stipulation that the house could only go to a family member or something. Lois died in 2003 and gave the house to her friend Sarah Winner who refurbished the horse-hair plaster walls and heart-of-palm floors and restored furnishings and paintings. She then sold the house to the city with the agreement that it would always be a museum.
Our group took a picture in front of this mansion all together. We got to go up on the porch where the young man died and peer in the windows. The inside looked beautiful. Alice told us some of the ghost stories connected to the house. The first being about the slave who fell through the window. Then Alice told us this hilarious story that happened to her during a tour. A woman named Lucille came to visit the property when it was still undergoing restoration and there was a giant fence around the whole thing. She and her husband circled it wishing that they could get closer to the house. While doing that. they spotted someone in the side garden. It was a woman wearing a grey dress and large white bonnet. The couple assumed that it was Lois who owned the property at the time. They were invited for tea later that day at the hall with Lois because Lois found out that Lucille was a king descendant. When the couple met Lois, they were perplexed to see her in modern clothing. They mentioned that they thought they saw her earlier in the garden and she told them she had not been in the garden and was the only person on property.
Dianna recounts the experience of a woman who was doing an investigation with her at Barrington Hall in her book. The woman wrote, "I passed through a doorless doorway and stopped dead as the sensation of a warm hand applied to my back gave me momentary paralysis. The fine hairs on the back of my neck stood on end." Dianna rushed over to her when the woman told her this and she was enveloped in chilled air. Then Dianna felt the hands touch her as well, but even more prominently as though she were being hugged from behind. The Director of the Georgia Ghost Society, Bob Hunnicutt, claims that his hand was touched while investigating the mansion and that it felt as though something squeezed it. There is an ice house out back too where many people have had experiences. Perhaps because they might have had to store bodies in there after people died. Someone died in a rocking chair in the house that is still there and people claim that it moves on its own at times. We try to get a look at it through the windows.
There are now homes built on what used to be Barrington's property and people in those homes experience paranormal activity too. Most owners have seen the apparition of a tall black man in overalls. Perhaps the one Alice had told us about? The man who founded the Savannah Ghost Talk Ghost Walk had owned a home directly behind Barrington Hall and he said, "I can tell you I have never experienced a location with as much activity as we had in this home in just that year and a half period of time." He often heard music coming out of the woods. An overnight guest awoke one night to find a woman standing by the side of the bed who just disappeared.
Bulloch Hall was President
Theodore Roosevelt's mother's childhood home. This mansion was built in
the early 1840s by the slaves of Major James Stephen Bulloch. He would live in this
home with his second wife Martha and their daughter Martha would be
Teddy's mother. The Major himself was one of Roswell’s first settlers. The mansion is also in the Greek Revival style and was designed by architect Willis Ball, also. A unique feature is its temple-form architecture with a full pedimented portico. The floor plan is described as "four square." The kitchen has a beehive oven and there are eleven fireplaces. The mansion stayed in the hands of the family in a similar way to Barrington, until the 1950s when it was left abandoned. The city of Roswell finally purchased it in the 1970s and refurbished it.
The Bulloch House has an interesting unexplained thing that happens when it comes to candles. The wedding Alice was referring to was a re-enactment of Teddy Roosevelt's parents' wedding that took place here. Margaret Mitchell, who wrote Gone with the Wind, wrote an article about the wedding for the Atlanta Constitution newspaper in 1923. That young girl who drowned was a fourteen-year-old black girl and is thought to have drowned in the well in the mid-1800s. The well is still here. People claim to hear a girl sobbing by that well. When Bulloch Hall is closed for the day, all the lights are extinguished. One night on a tour, the guide remarked that it was weird that the attic light was on since the lights are never on at night. One of the docents for the house happened to be on his tour that night. She said that she had turned everything off and locked up. She drove by the mansion later that evening and saw that the light was off. She was too scared to investigate then, but brought a couple people with her the next day. The security system did not indicate that anyone had been in the home the evening before.
An employee at the house saw the spirit of a man dressed in a long dark coat standing on the stairs. She started walking towards him and he disappeared. She also heard a loud banging that made her and a friend run out of the house after she remarked that she didn't think the house was haunted. The banging reminded her of iron skillets being dropped on the floor. People have also reported seeing the apparition of a young boy wearing knickers running around the front area of the house, both in the yard and along the white fence. The rocking chairs on the front porch sometimes move on their own. There are reconstructed slave quarters in the back and people say they hear disembodied voices by them. It is believed that the slaves buried their dead on the property in unmarked graves.
An Old Mill House (Katharine's Cottage)
Some crazy stuff has happened at this old mill house we passed on our way to the cemetery. Alice tells the story of all the water issues they have had. You'll have to excuse the dog barking in the background. Love the description of electricity in the walls as fire in the walls.
The Founder's Cemetery was established in 1840 and burials continued here until 1860. We got to go inside and wander around. The coolest thing in there for us was this really old tree stump. This was the original burial ground for Roswell and was connected to the Roswell Presbyterian Church and has 28 grave markers, mostly for the founders of Roswell and some of their slaves. There are many more unmarked graves and a geophysical survey in 1984 found 65 graves. The first burial was for Charles Irvine Bulloch who was two-years-old when he died of scarlet fever in 1841 when there was an outbreak in the town. There are also burials for John Dunwody, Roswell King and James Bulloch.
Now the key thing about this cemetery is that what is there today is about a third of the original cemetery. And there are homes all around the cemetery. So...yeah, homes are built over burials. A family lived across the street from the cemetery, but not in a place where they could see the graveyard. They decided to widen their driveway and the workmen unearthed a casket on the furthest area out. The person was given a proper burial, but the disruption to a peaceful deathly slumber seems to lead to other disruptions, with electrical things. Anytime a car is parked on this part of the driveway, the battery discharges and if the engine is running, it will stop running. The battery draining also effects electronics used in that area. Neighbors to the cemetery claim to hear disembodied talking at all times of the day and night and when they investigate, they find no one around. The cemetery is said to drain batteries too, but we didn't have any problems on the tour and took many pictures of the headstones and such.
The Public House
The most haunted place in downtown Roswell is said to be the former general store that is now known as the old Public House. The building was constructed in 1854 and carried most everything people would need for supplies, except for liquor. The Roswell Manufacturing Company ran the commissary. During the Civil War, it was a Confederate hospital. After the war, it went back to being a store. The building eventually became a really popular upscale restaurant in the 1980s and 1990s known as the Public House Restaurant and then it became J. Christopher's Restaurant. There's a story dating back to the time of the Civil War about a Union soldier named Michael and a young woman named Catherine who worked at the store. Many versions are told, but the basics of the story are that the two fell in love and that Michael dies either in battle, through being struck by lightning or is hanged by Confederates. Catherine then hangs herself. The couple are said to haunt the building. People see them dancing through an upstairs window. But they aren't the only spirits here. People claim that there are eight entities here.
A piano in the upstairs area plays by itself. When employees go to investigate, the tinkling of the keys immediately stops and they find the cover down on the keys. A bartender claimed that one night he was in the restaurant with only a manager and that he was upstairs cleaning glasses while the manager was downstairs. He finished drying the glasses and hung them in their places over the bar. He went to get his jacket and keys and when he passed the bar, he saw that every glass was standing upright back on the bar counter. Liquor bottles would also be found turned backward the following day. Employees would claim that chairs would be taken down off tables after they had been put up for the night. A woman claimed to feel a very cold air envelope her when she went upstairs and the hair on the arm of her male companion stood on end. Employees avoid the upstairs as much as possible. And this is another place with a really haunted women's restroom. Why does that always seem to be the case?
David is the new owner of the Roswell Ghost Tour. He used to manage J. Christopher's and Alice told us this. (Roswell 6) We apologize because of the traffic noises, but if you couldn't hear that real clearly, Alice said that the owner of the building found a rock thrown through a window, only it was coming from inside the building, not the outside in. Another former manager of J. Christopher's quit abruptly after an experience she had upstairs. This area was not open to customers, so she had gone up there to take a break. There were three large wing chairs there and she sat in one and closed her eyes. She heard the springs in the chair next to her squeak, so she opened her eyes to see who joined her. There was no one sitting next to her, but she clearly saw an indentation in the chair as though someone were there. Then the apparition materialized and she saw a man in a Confederate uniform. He looked at her and she screamed and ran from the building and never came back. This ghost is seen often. Another employee had brought her four-year-old with her to the building and she left her by the stairs while she went to the office. When she returned, she heard her daughter talking to someone. When her daughter saw her she said, "You just scared the nice man. He had a neat costume on with lots of buttons."
The buildings connected to the restaurant have had many unexplained things happen as well. They all used to be part of the store and hospital. And there had been a funeral parlor in one of the shops years ago. There had been an old theater in one of the upper shops that showed silent movies and a live piano player would accompany the movies. He often complained of really cold spots enveloping him. A Confederate soldier was also seen in the theater. The funeral home had been next to the theater, so many spirits wandered over from there. A former bank still has its vault in one of the shops and this is used for storage, but employees feel really uncomfortable in it. Nobody likes to be in any parts of the buildings alone.
There are a few other buildings in the Roswell historic district that have had strange things happen in them. One former mill house duplex housed a beauty salon and employees did not like being in the building alone. The house had been built in the 1840s and was the scene of two tragedies. One was a suicide in which a woman slit her own throat in front of the fireplace when she heard the Union forces were rounding up all the women and children. The other was apparently the murder of a woman by a Union soldier. People claim to see the full-bodied apparitions of women in this home. And there are other stories to be told we are sure. We had a great time on this ghost tour and recommend it if you are in the Atlanta area. Is Roswell, Georgia haunted? That is for you to decide.