Thursday, September 24, 2020

HGB Ep. 353 - Boggo Road Gaol

Moment in Oddity - Rapunzel Syndrome

We imagine that most of you have never heard of the rare illness known as Rapunzel Syndrome. No, this is not a disease that makes you burst into song as a man climbs up your hair to rescue you from your tower prison. This also is not a sickness that causes your hair to grow and grow and grow...you get the picture. This is an illness that causes a person to excessively chew on their hair over years, which wouldn't be so bad if not for the fact that they then swallow a bunch of that hair and it tends to build-up inside the body. In August of 2020, a seventeen-year-old named Sweety Kumari underwent surgery in India. The doctors had found a mass in the teenager's stomach and thought it was a tumor. Imagine their shock when they found a 15 pound ball of hair in her stomach! The doctor said he had never seen that kind of accumulation of hair in the body in his forty years of practicing medicine. Many people chew on their hair when they are nervous, but ingesting the hair into a ball that one couldn't cough up if they tried, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Jesse Owens Born

In the month of September, on the 12th in 1913, Jesse Owens was born in Oakville, Alabama. He was the youngest of ten children born to a sharecropper. His birth name was James, but he would be knon as Jesse from an early age for an interesting reason. His family moved from the south to Ohio and when Jesse told his teacher what his name was he said J.C. and she thought he said Jesse. He developed a passion for running when he was young. Owens first came to national attention when he equaled the world record in the 100 yard dash. He did this while still in high school. Owens took part in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. He won four medals in track and field there, defeating Nazi athletes which really angered Adolf Hitler. His world record in the long jump stood for 25 years. While Owens was clearly a gifted athlete, Hitler's Nazi minister Albert Speer wrote that Hitler "was highly annoyed by the series of triumphs by the marvelous colored American runner, Jesse Owens. People whose antecedents came from the jungle were primitive, Hitler said with a shrug; their physiques were stronger than those of civilized whites and hence should be excluded from future games." Owens said his success came from letting his feet "spend as little time on the ground as possible. From the air, fast down, and from the ground, fast up." Unfortunately, he took up smoking and lung cancer would take him at the age of 66 in 1980.

Boggo Road Gaol (Suggested by: Danika Ehlers and Natalie)

(Kelly, are you a crim or a screw?)

The history of Boggo Road Gaol is both interesting and troubling. This history goes all the way back to the late 1800s when Brisbane was finally moving from a penal colony to a free community. Many violent offenders came to their ends at the gaol. Punishment was dealt out in the black hole. Conditions became so poor that reforms were necessary. Today, the gaol is a museum offering tours and there are stories of ghosts on the grounds. Join us as we share the history and hauntings of the Boggo Road Gaol!

Brisbane was originally inhabited by the aboriginal tribes, Turrbal, Quandamooka and Yugara. In 1825, the Moreton Penal Colony was established for Sydney to have somewhere to send its British convicts. By 1839, the colony was free and many settlers came to partake of the fishing, farming and timber. The town, which was named for the Governor of New South Wales Sir Thomas Brisbane, grew and in 1859 it became the colonial capital. Queensland separated from New South Wales and Brisbane became the official capitol of the state in 1901. In 1924, Brisbane became an official city. The first jail here was established in Redcliffe, but was eventually moved to the center of Brisbane next to a bend in the river that provided a good natural barrier. There would be another gaol built after this and that is the one we are featuring.

Boggo Road Gaol had not been known by that name officially. In 1883, it was Hay Chim Gaol South Brisbane, then it was Brisbane Prison and in the early 1970s it was changed to the Brisbane Prison Complex and then finally the Brisbane Correctional Center at the end of its time after reforms were put in place. So how did it come to be known to everyone by this name? When it rained in this area, the track that had been dug out for the road would flood and get very muddy, similar to the quagmire of a bog. The area around this came to be known as Boggo and thus the track was given the name Boggo Road. These names started in the 1850s. There are some who believe that the name actually was derived from an Aboriginal word, Bloggo, that meant "two leaning trees." Whatever the case, the name stuck, even when the track became a street that was named Annerly Road in 1903.

The hill upon which the gaol was built was originally an indigineous camp. This would be the third gaol to be built in Brisbane. The land here was already a government reserve, but it would not be set aside specifically for building a jail until 1880. Robert Porter built the first cell block and it opened in July of 1883. Some time later it would officially be known as Number 1 Division. There were 57 cells originally and it held only men, but eventually a place for women would be required. A new prison was begun in 1903 for that purpose. There will be other buildings added onto the complex, but this one built for the women was known as the Number 2 Division and would be the only building to remain standing.

This was a hanging jail and forty-two people would be hanged on the grounds, which included one woman and two teenagers. The final hanging would occur in 1913 and this would be Queensland's last execution. Ernest Austin was the criminal to have that final honor. Austin had been a child killer. Ernest Austin was sentenced to death in 1913 for the vicious murder and sexual assault of an 11-year-old girl named Ivy Mitchell. This was a heinous crime as he slit the poor little girl's throat. A legend claims that Austin was lead to the scaffold and when he got to the top, he shouted that he was proud of his crime. He then gave a creepy laugh and mocked the people there to watch and he swore that he would return from the grave. What actually happened is that Austin had been sorry for his crime and even tried to kill himself before his trial. Several reporters and officials witnessed the hanging when the day came for him to be put to death and he was administered morphine and he said to the group, "I ask you all to forgive me. I ask the people of Samford to forgive me. I ask my mother to forgive me. May you all live long and die happy. God save the King! God save the King! God be with you all! Send a wire to my mother and tell her I died happy, won’t you. Yes tell her I died happy with no fear. Goodbye all! Goodbye all!" One newspaper proclaimed in a headline that "The State Slays its Own Creation." It was thought that Austin had been institutionalized for most of his life moving from a home for neglected children and then eventually onto jail.

George Silva was hanged the year before in 1912. He was a mass murderer. Silva worked for a man named Charles Ching. On November 16, 1911, Ching told Silva that he needed to go to ton for supplies. Silva had taken an interest in Ching's eldest daughter. He made advances towards her on this day and when she rejected him he killed the entire Ching family except for Charles who was away. This was six people. Four of the bodies were in the house. The son Hugh and baby Winnie had their skulls smashed and the mother named Agnes and the eldest daughter Maud had been shot by a revolver and a muzzle-loading rifle. Two other bodies were found a mile and a half away with their skulls smashed and they had been shot. Silva eventually turned himself in because he feared a lynch mob.

Eventually in the 1920s, the women would be moved out of the jail and prisoners from the St Helena Island Prison in Moreton Bay were moved into Number Two Division. There would be a later building constructed to once again house female prisoners. Number Two Division became home for the worst of the worst offenders who had long sentences to serve. Three cell blocks were set aside specifically for Lifers. These cells seem horrible. The building is made from brick and there are doors with slits for each cell. So they seem very claustrophobic. In the 1960s it was decided that an update was needed to Number One Division and so a new building was constructed around its perimeter and then it was demolished. The open oval area left behind was turned into a recreational yard. The new jail building was updated with toilets and running cold water in each cell. Another new feature was the black hole, which was under the oval. This was used throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s for punishment.

The 1970s would feature a time of great unrest at the gaol as inmates started fighting back against the poor living conditions. They staged roof-top protests, hunger strikes and riots. This got the inmates a lot of attention and it was warranted as the Number Two Division had not been updated, so there was no sanitation. Inmates still had only buckets in their cells for toilets. The government of Queensland came in and did a survey and were appalled at what they found. They officially shut down the building in 1989. In the 1970s, there were four prisoners who formed some wire bound with rubber into these little crosses and they swallowed them. These crosses would spring open in the stomach and cause pain and bleeding. This was a way for the prisoners to get out of jail because they needed to have surgery to remove the crosses. The cross idea came from John Andrew Stuart who was serving a life term for being one of the Whiskey Au Go Go Killers. He underwent surgery five times to remove crosses.

The Whiskey Au Go Go Killers were John Andrew Stuart and James Richard Finch. Whiskey Au Go Go was a cabaret nightclub that was in Brisbane. The club was firebombed in the early hours of March 8, 1973. Two five-gallon drums of gas were placed in the club's foyer and lit with fire. Carbon monoxide fumes rushed into the main room and the club was soon a deathtrap. Vats of used cooking oil were lined against the only escape route and they were upended as people stampeded through and eventually it was hard for people to stay on their feet. When they did manage to get outside, they were met with a six-foot high fence in the alley. There were fifty people in the club and 15 of them would die. Those that survived jumped from broken windows onto an awning and then dropped the remaining 15 feet to the ground. There were also windows in the bathrooms that people squeezed through. John Stuart had warned the police that Whiskey Au Go Go was going to be firebombed, so he became their top suspect. An associate of Stuart's named James Richard Finch was arrested. He proclaimed he was innocent, but the police said that Stuart planned the crime and Finch lit the fires. Both men would claim during their trials that they had been pressured to give false confessions. Stuart not only swallowed metal objects, he also once sewed his lips shut with wire paperclips. Finch was a self-harmer too. He cut off one of his fingers during the trial. *Fun Fact: Inmates were photographed holding their open hands against their body to show that they had all their fingers upon entry into the jail.* Stuart died in jail in 1979 after a six day hunger strike. Finch was released in 1988 after serving fifteen years.

Number One Division would close in 1992 and all but the C5 guard tower were demolished in 1996. The women's prison, which was operated for 100 years, was used until 2000 and then torn down in 2006. The only section of Boggo Road Gaol that still remains is Number Two Division and it has been heritage listed. In December of 2012 it was reopened and serves as a museum offering tours and there are a variety of tours. These are conducted by Boggo Road Gaol Pty. There was redevelopment done as well and this lead to the construction of an urban village that was completed in 2010.

Another infamous convict at the jail was Patrick Kenniff who was Australia's last bushranger. He and his brother, James, were cattle thieves. They stole horses and robbed stores as well, but what got Kenniff thrown into Boggo Road Gaol was murder. A police posse had set off after the boys after they stole a pony. They managed to capture James, but the rest of the group got away. They later ambushed the two men who made up the posse and their remains were later found burned up in saddle bags of one of the men's horses. The brothers were sentenced to death, but James' sentence was later commuted to life. Patrick was hanged in 1903.

Florence MacDonald and her husband, Angus, were sentenced to death for murdering Grace MacDonald. This was later commuted to life imprisonment. She was the first woman sentenced to life imprisonment in Queensland. Florence was known as the stepmother of the "Longreach Cinderella." She and her husband kept Grace chained up under the family home and they deprived her of food. They worked the poor girl to death. Florence was released after serving twelve years.

"Slim" Halliday was nicknamed the "Houdini of Boggo Road." He escaped from the jail twice, once in 1940 and again in 1946. He tried four other times, but failed. Slim was exactly that, tall and thin. He was a thief and enjoyed breaking into houses. He eventually was caught and convicted in 1939. He was sentenced to five years of hard labor. Slim tried his first jailbreak in 1939 and was busted using a drill to drive out the rivets that held the bolt. Halliday made his first jail break on January 28, 1940. He slipped out of line and climbed over a wall and ran for the prison workshop where he had his escape kit. Over several months he put together a grappling hook that was made out of two wooden hammock sticks and he attached 30 feet of rope to it that was knotted every 18 inches. There was a spot on the outer wall that could not be seen from the towers. He worked his way over with the grappling hook. It took hours before he was missed and he was long gone. He was recaptured a week later. His next escape in 1946 was with two other men using a grappling hook again. They were recaptured four days later. Eventually he was released, but he returned to jail in 1952 a murderer.

We came across a website while searching for ghost stories that denied that the gaol was haunted. The author said something along the lines of, even if ghosts were real why would they be any more prevalent in a jail than other places? Of course, they may not, but we all understand that the higher the levels of trauma, the more likely it is that a location will be haunted. The author wrote, "The recent television-inspired fad for 'ghost hunts' - based on the use of obviously fake 'ghostometer gadgets' - has also proved problematic. Such activities have not only been scientifically discredited, but they are clearly disrespectful in a place where people have committed suicide or been murdered within living memory. Relatives of the deceased have strongly expressed their opposition to commercial 'paranormal industry' activities inside Boggo Road. This led to the Queensland Government taking the welcome step of banning ghost hunts at the heritage prison in 2015." And that really is disappointing because many investigators just want the spirits to tell their stories. Ghosts are at these locations for a reason and we believe that is because they have a story they need to tell. So let's look at these non-existent ghosts at Boggo Road Gaol.

Ghost tours are hosted by Brisbane Ghost Tours. The child killer Ernest Austin is said to haunt Number Two Division even though he was hanged in Number One Division. Prisoners claimed to see his face appear outside their cell door. His eyes were filled with darkness and prisoners claimed that they knew when they looked in those eyes that he had made a deal with Satan. That deal was that he would snatch their souls in exchange for his own. Then the apparition of Austin would come through the door and try to strangle them. This was said to drive a few of them crazy. Haunting Australia investigated the jail in 2015 and they got some interesting evidence. The most evidence came through the spirit box. There were a lot of angry responses and choice words we cannot share here.

Jack Sim is a dark historian, writer and Director of Boggo Road Gaol. He shared some ghost stories with the ladies from Haunted Down Under. Jack himself had seen one of the ghosts that old prison guards used to talk about experiencing. This was the ghost of a former guard who was killed in the jail workshop in the late 1960s known as Birdie. Sadly, he was not supposed to be on duty that day, but he had switched shifts with another guard. An inmate who was incarcerated after being found guilty of multiple murders killed him. Most guards who reported seeing his apparition were working the graveyard shift. It was as though he were still on duty patrolling the place. His disembodied footsteps would be heard many times. Jack saw him standing outside one day and at first he thought he was some member of the state government security detail named Steve. So he said, "Hey Steve, I'll be right out in a second." And then he did a double take because he realized it wasn't Steve and then the man in the uniform just disappeared. 

The back track that runs the perimeter of the jail property is a type of no man's land and this is reputed to be the most haunted area of the jail. Most prisoners knew that the gaol was haunted and they knew which specific cells were haunted. They would place bets with each other when a new prisoner would be placed inside one of these cells as to how long it would take before they were begging to be moved. There was only one prisoner to each cell and Jack was told by a former inmate that one rainy night he awakened and felt as though someone were watching him. He looked to the end of his cell and there sitting on the floor was a young man. Then he disappeared. 

Jack related a really scary experience for himself. The doors to the cells are heavy and Jack had gone into one of the cells that was reputedly haunted one day and the door slammed shut. He turned and watched the slide bolt move by itself and he was locked inside. He was all alone. His cell phone and keys were on the lower floor and no one was expected at the jail until two days later. He started to panic thinking that he would be locked in there for two days. Then suddenly, the slide bolt moved again and unlocked the door. The ghost or ghosts were clearly playing with Jack and trying to scare him and they certainly did!

Many visitors to the jail have seen the apparition of an older woman in a high necked dress. Some people think that this spirit belongs to Ellen Thompson, the only woman legally hanged in Queensland. She was tried, along with her younger lover, for the murder of her husband. The Judge, Justice Pope Cooper, said the following as he sentenced the two, "Prisoner Ellen Thompson and you prisoner John Harrison, have been found guilty of the crime of murder on evidence which I must say to my mind is quite sufficient. One of the jury has thought to make a recommendation of mercy on the grounds that he is of the opinion that there may have been a quarrel between the murdered man and Harrison immediately preceding the murder. I will, of course, forward that recommendation to the proper authorities. I can give you no more hope than that. That you, Harrison killed the old man Thompson, I have no doubt whatever. The jury have found that you did so, and I confidently believe that Thompson's wife was present at the time aiding and abetting you. You committed a most cruel murder, and you did it, in my opinion, for sake of gain. Nothing now remains for me but to pass upon you both, the sentence of the law. I have no option in the matter. The sentence that I have to pass on you, Ellen Thompson, is, that you be taken to the place whence you came, and thence to the Brisbane gaol; and thence on the date to be appointed by the Governor-in-Council, you be led to the place of execution, and that you be hanged by the neck until your body be dead." When people describe seeing Ellen, they say that she is wearing the clothes that she was photographed wearing before she was hanged. Visitors will go into the section of the museum with the gallows displays and swear that they have just seen the woman that is in the pictures there. Female guards did have similar clothes, so it is possible that the spirit belongs to one of them, but we haven't heard of any of them dying at the gaol. 

Like all gaols, this one has a history of interesting characters and infamous inmates. Deaths by suicide and execution were plenty. The emotions that a jail spawns feed negative energy. Is the Boggo Road Gaol haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, September 17, 2020

HGB Ep. 352 - Cleveland's Millionaire's Row

Moment in Oddity - Theodore Judson Claims to Have Seen Mermaids

In 1873, P.T. Barnum offered $50,000 to anyone who could bring him the body of a sea serpent. There might just have been someone who could have done that at one time and his name was Theodore Judson who eventually was known as Crazy Judson. He became keeper at Stratford Point Lighthouse in 1880 and he stayed there for over 40 years. His family joined him at the lighthouse. In 1886, they told the Bridgeport Union that they had seen a sea serpent. The paper reported, "A sea serpent with pea green whiskers passed down Long Island Sound in a big hurry Wednesday morning. He was plowing through the water at a 25 knot clip when he passed the Stratford lighthouse and left a wake of foam behind him a mile in length. He was easily 200 feet in length, and his head was reared 20 feet above the brine...The big reptile was plainly seen from the lighthouse by Keeper Theodore Judson, his wife, his son Henry and his daughter Agnes, and by H. W. Curtis of Stratford, as well as by a number of people at Captain John Bond’s place up the river...Keeper Judson seriously declared to a reporter that he could not be mistaken. 'I saw it plainly,' he said, 'and so did my wife and children and Mr. Curtis. All of us are familiar with the appearance of a school of porpoises, and this sight was entirely different. . . . It could be plainly seen without a glass.' There were many witnesses, so this is not what earned Judson his nickname of "crazy." It would be his report about seeing mermaids that would do that. Judson told a reporter in 1915, "Three days ago, I saw a shoal of mermaids off Lighthouse point. I’ve seen them again and again, but it’s only once I laid hands on one. She scratched me well, but I got her brush away from her and I’ve got it yet. It’s generally in the early morning or late afternoon that they gather around the rocks off the point. Sometimes I’ve counted as many as 12 or 15 of them, their yellow hair glistening and their scaly tails flashing. They’re a grand sight." Judson would produce the brush when asked about it and his wife believed the story. This keeper was known for his tales, but he always maintained he had really seen and touched a mermaid and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - The Penny Press Begins

In the month of September, on the 3rd, in 1833, the New York Sun newspaper first appeared launching the penny press. While printed newspapers are in decline and fairly obsolete in 2020, there was a time when nearly everyone got their news from the newspaper. The Penny Press was exactly what it sounds like, newspapers sold for a penny. This innovation began with Benjamin Day when he founded the New York Sun. It was a desparate move rather than a smart business move because Day had lost his printing business during the Cholera Epidemic of 1832. He assumed that the working class would enjoy newspapers if they could afford them. Most newspapers sold for six cents. So Day targeted his newspaper to the working class and featured human interest stories and sensational stories, like the Moon Hoax which claimed scientists had found life on the moon. He also introduced another innovation, the newsboy. The Sun would be the first paper to be hawked on street corners by newsboys. By 1836, the New York Sun was the largest seller in America with a circulation of 30,000.

Cleveland's Millionaires' Row (Suggested by Lori Blackburn)

Cleveland's Millionaires' Row was the place where the elite built their grand mansions in the early 1900s. Industry was booming and men like Marcus Hanna, Amasa Stone, Samuel Andrews, Charles F. Brush and John D. Rockefeller picked this sixth largest city in America as their home. These were some of the most powerful men in the country and their street would be known as the "Showplace of America." All but four of these mansions would eventually be demolished. They are a testament to the past and hold on to their spirits. Join us as we explore the history and haunts of Cleveland's Millionaires' Row. 

Paleo-indigineous tribes were here where Cleveland would eventually set down roots as far back as 10500 BC and these were migrant groups. Many of their tools featured flint that came from Indiana. Ohio is famous for its burial mounds and many are found here. Many Native American tribes would come through the area like the Iroquois, Ottawa and Shawnee, but not many stayed. From the mid-1600s to the mid-1700s, no tribes inhabited the region. Cleveland was named for its founder General Moses Cleaveland. He had been a director of the survey group sent out by the Connecticut Land Company. Cleaveland would become the capital city of the Connecticut Western Reserve. The General designed the public square after those in New England. The village of Cleaveland was incorporated on December 23, 1814. The spelling was changed in 1831 to Cleveland for an interesting reason. A newspaper could not fit the other spelling on its masthead. Because the city was located on the southern shore of Lake Erie at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River, trade became a major industry. Eventually the city would become a center of industry and a gateway of immigration. During the early part of the 20th century, the city was one of the largest cities in America. After the Wars, the city declined as people moved out of the city into the suburbs and industry slowed down.

It was during the roaring success of the industrial age that Cleveland's Millionaires' Row would be born. Euclid Avenue is an old road that was originally laid out in 1815 and paved with Medina sandstone. The road followed the historic Lake Shore Trail and was given the name Euclid from a surveyors' settlement to the east that had that name. The street was declared to be a highway in 1832 by the state legislature. Rufus Dunham would be the first man to see the potential of Euclid Avenue. He would buy 140 acres of land and built a farm and tavern. This tavern opened in 1824 and would become a stagecoach stop. The Dunham Tavern still stands today at 6709 Euclid Avenue and is the oldest building in Cleveland, Ohio.  Cleveland landscape architect, A. Donald Gray purchased the home in 1932, and restored it and it reopened as the Dunham Tavern Museum in 1941. Rufus Dunham had struggles in those early years because the city did little to service the street and drainage was horrible. As more wealthy people were drawn to the street, the city was forced to update, so that flooding would stop and the property would be more desirable.

Mark Twain wrote that Euclid Avenue was "the most beautiful street in the world." If you fronted on Euclid Avenue, you had really arrived. After the Civil War, manufacturing took off in America and Cleveland grew quickly. The city became one of the five main oil refining centers in the U.S. joining cities in Pennsylvania and New York City. It would be here that Standard Oil would get its start as a partnership between William Rockefeller, John D. Rockefeller, Samuel Adams and Henry M. Flagler. The wealthy would build their homes between Erie (E. 9th) St. and Willson Ave. (E. 55th St.) with Lake Erie to their rear and that included these oil magnates. John Rockefeller bought his home on the avenue in 1868 for $40,000.  Many of the mansions were built in the Romanesque style and Cleveland architect Chas F. Schweinfurth designed at least 15 of the mansions. What is interesting about these homes is that these were large stone structures that should have stood for decades and maybe even a couple of centuries, but these homes went up and were torn down over and over as new owners would come along. Many mansions would be demolished for good as the wealthy chose to move to the suburbs. By 1937, only seven of the  forty mansions remained on Millionaires' Row. And unbelievably, the luscious lawns in front of these homes became used car lots with the houses serving as offices for those lots. Most of the rest of the homes were destroyed so the Innerbelt Freeway could be built.

The grandeur of Euclid Avenue was over. Ironically, the pollution created by these rich men's factories pushed them out. There would be no more parades or social gatherings with patriotic bunting decorating the streetlights. It was hard to believe that this street once rivaled New York's Fifth Avenue for wealth. Only four of these grand structures have made it to our present day and a couple of them have spirits still knocking around in them. Fun Fact: One of the most interesting people to live on this street was con artist Cassie Chadwick. This was the woman who claimed to be the illegitimate daughter of Andrew Carnegie. She pulled off one of the greatest bank heists in history. She also claimed to be a clairvoyant and went by the name Madame Marie LaRose. She was also a real madame and opened a brothel in Cleveland. But don't tell her third husband that, whom she convinced she was a widow running a boarding house for women. It was with him that she lived on Millionaires' Row. She was not welcomed by her neighbors.

Stager-Beckwith Mansion

This mansion is located at 3813 Euclid Ave. This is the oldest mansion on Millionaires' Row and was built in 1866 by Anson Stager who was the general superintendent of Western Union Telegraph whose claim to fame was creating the most effective secret code during the Civil War. His home was the first mansion built on Euclid Avenue and was designed by Joseph Ireland. The original floor plan had 15 rooms and covered 10,000 square-feet. Stager lived here with his family for two years and then he sold it in 1868 to Thomas Sterling Beckwith who made his fortune in the furniture business. He founded the first furniture and carpet store in the city, Beckwith, Sterling and Company. When Beckwith died in 1876, Charles Brush bought the mansion. Brush sold the house in 1913 to the University Club. The club occupied the space for 90 years and added 40,000 square feet to the property. The University Club was a social club for men with college degrees. In 2018, the mansion became the Cleveland Children’s Museum and that is what it is today. To date, we have heard no reports of hauntings here. If you hear differently, let us know.

H.W. White Mansion

The H.W. White Mansion is located at 8937 Euclid Ave and is today known as the Cleveland Clinic White Mansion. H.W. White had worked for the Baker Motor Vehicle Company, which had been an electric car producer in Cleveland during the turn of the century. The house was designed in the Romanesque Revival style. There is wonderful detail in the stone carving and stained glass windows. We have heard no haunting tales about this location either. Again, if you've been there to see a doctor and had some kind of experience, let us know.

Mather Mansion

The largest among the mansions constructed on the street was Mather Mansion, which is located at 2605 Euclid Ave. This was built for Samuel Mather in 1910 by architect Charles Schweinfurth in the Tudor style. Mather was chairman of Pickands, Mather & Company, which was one of the four largest shippers of iron ore in the country. He was one of the richest men in Cleveland and held powerful positions in transportation, iron and banking. His mansion was luxurious with the finest furnishings from around the world and a ballroom with a 16-foot ceiling. The interior featured handcrafted woodwork, stone and brick. The house had cost $1,200,000 upon completion. Samuel Mather died in 1931 and the Cleveland Institute of Music moved in until 1940. The Cleveland Automobile Club purchased the house then, staying until 1967 when Cleveland State University acquired the property. The university renovated it and the mansion was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on February 20, 1973. The university planned to turn the house into a boutique hotel, but they gave up that plan in 2014. Instead they set it up for the Center for International Services and Programs, a program that taught English as a second language.

The Mather Mansion is reputedly haunted. One story was shared by a member of the grounds crew who was sent to investigate why motion sensors had been set off at 2 a.m. He walked throughout the mansion and suddenly heard the elevator fire up. It began to move and then he heard the sound of people laughing and the clinking of glasses. Music traveled on the air and yet, he was the only one in the building. He was so scared that he said he would never enter the house again and he never did. A housekeeper had her own experience that was even more terrifying. She was cleaning a room when she felt something that she could not see, forcibly grab her and she was flung from the room. As she picked herself up, she heard the vacuum turn itself on and then it joined her out in the hallway. Other people in the house have experienced the faucets turning on and off by themselves, heard disembodied footsteps and strange knocks. It's the creepy moaning that gets most people though.

An article in November of 2016 in the CSU Alumni Association details an investigation they hosted: "In what has become one of the Alumni Association’s most popular Passport Cleveland tours, a group of brave alumni recently joined the Ohio Ghost Hunters for an investigation into whether Mather is indeed haunted. Based out of central Ohio, the Hunters are a group of scientific and psychic medium investigators traveling the state, gathering evidence of the paranormal and offering solutions on how to address otherworldly phenomena. 'We’ve found spirits present in business buildings, open fields, trains, navy ships [and] historic villages,' said Peggy, director of Ohio Ghost Hunters. And as you might guess, they might have found some at Mather Mansion during the tour. Peggy led the group into what is believed to be Samuel Mather’s former bedroom—a cavernous room with elaborate woodwork and candle-like wall sconces—set up an electromagnetic field detector and what’s known as a Spirit Box that can supposedly interpret voices from the "other side," turned off the lights and initiated an investigation.

It started with basic questions. “Is there anybody here from the Mather family?” Peggy asked. 'We’re not here to do anything but ask you questions,' she assured whatever, whomever they hoped to encounter. 'Are there any spirits that haunt Mather Mansion?' 'Me,' a voice supposedly intoned through the Spirit Box. 'That sounds like a child,' Peggy said. 'What's your name?' Though they never found out the child’s identity, two members of the Ghost Hunters were fairly certain they could distinguish two separate voices communicating. 'How about we come back sometime?' Peggy offered as the evening drew to a close, following that with a farewell. Through the white noise of the Spirit Box, what sounded like 'goodnight' replied. 'Did you hear that?' Peggy chuckled.

The Drury Mansion

The Drury Mansion is located at 8615 Euclid Avenue. Francis Drury began the road to success by inventing a lawnmower. He was born in 1850 in Michigan and got started early in the hardware business. It was at that time that Drury invented the first internal gear lawnmower. He moved to Cleveland with his invention and partnered with Taylor and Boggis Foundry Company to manufacture the lawnmower. Later, he started the Cleveland Foundry Company and focused on cooking stoves. So he created the first kerosene stove that would eventually lead to the Coleman stoves many of us have used for camping. This was really innovative cause everybody was using wood stoves. This would get Drury working with John D. Rockefeller who produced kerosene. It was a great partnering.  

Drury had arrived and he wanted to build a mansion where all the other successful men had on Euclid Avenue. Construction began in 1910 and finished in 1912. It was built in the Tudor Revival style and had 34 rooms. The spacious home covered 25,000 square feet. Drury, his wife Julia and their son lived at this location for twelve years. They followed their neighbors to the suburbs and bought the 155 acre Cedar Hill Farm. Julia and Francis only lived there for a year before Francis died and then she moved and died in 1943, eleven years later. The Drurys would always be known for their philanthropy. They donated much to the music community in Cleveland. The Drury Mansion was bought by the Drury Club in 1939. Much of the Drury family's furnishings remained as a part of the Drury Club. People would come here to have dinner and do some dancing. This later became a nursing home for many years, around four decades, although this seems to have been a halfway house of some sort in the 1970s because there were stories of guards and parolees in the house. And unwed mothers were said to find sanctuary here before the halfway house. The Cleveland Clinic bought it in 1989 and they continue to maintain it today. 

An article written in the Cleveland Plain Dealer written by Imogene Addams in 1939 claimed that the Drury Mansion had "rumors of its secret doors and subterranean tunnel have long mantled it in a shroud of mystery." The author went on to write that the tunnel had been sealed. The passage had lead to some sunken gardens across the way. One of the main rooms had a six foot fireplace with hand-carved Bedford stone and dark oak paneling. More rooms must have been added at some point because their are stories that claim there are 52 rooms inside.

This home is notoriously haunted. There were some years when it stood vacant. There were two police officers who were guarding the house in 1972 and one evening they had a terrifying experience that they would not discuss. They were found in the morning sitting on the floor with their backs against each other and they each had their shotguns at the ready. Others who have worked in the house have reported hearing disembodied footsteps and doors and windows that open and close by themselves. Some have claimed feeling as though they are being watched. In 1978, the first report of seeing an apparition would be made. The sighting took place on the main staircase and a worker claimed that he saw a mysterious woman standing there with her hair up in a knot on top of her head and wearing a brown dress. There were other sightings of her in the kitchen and in some of the bedrooms. Many people wondered if this was Julia Drury. Others believe that this is another woman. Possibly a woman who boarded here. People say that they have heard disembodied screams floating through the hallways. Stairs creak as though under the weight of a human.

On Dan Ruminski's Cleveland Storyteller website: "A couple of years ago, I was giving a Cleveland Storyteller presentation at the Drury Mansion on Euclid Avenue, one of the four Millionaire’s Row mansions that is still standing. With 52 rooms and walls of remarkable wood detail, the mansion’s sheer size and splendor took us all back into time. I was speaking with my back to the grand fireplace, entertaining a crowd that had gathered to hear about Francis Drury and his wife, Julia. When I spoke Julia Drury’s name, the lights over the fireplace flickered quickly—intentionally. The simple mention of her name triggered an obvious sign of her presence. I halted; the audience gasped. Our eyes darted around the room. My wife described Julia’s appearance with stunning accuracy, and she had never seen a picture of Mrs. Drury before. The following Monday I returned to the Drury Mansion to return some photographs to the mansion curator. Again, I mentioned Julia Drury’s name while standing in the living room with the man. And, again, the lights flickered fast—on and off, on and off. The ghost of Julia Drury was letting us know we were in her company."

A distant tragedy has been connected to the mansion. About a half-dozen blocks down the street a fire broke out at another building occupied by the Cleveland Clinic. This took place on May 15, 1929. One hundred twenty-three people perished in the blaze that was started by vapors connected to x-rays. One of the victims spirits is said to have traveled down to the Drury Mansion and it seems appropriate since this is another place owned by the Cleveland Clinic. This apparition has been described as being beautiful and brunette. She wears a bracelet identifying her as a patient of the Cleveland Clinic. When she makes appearances temperatures rise to unbearably hot levels. People who see the ghosts claim that she seems to be trying to share a message. She then disappears in a flash of smoke.

The fact that so many of the mansions that once stood along Euclid Avenue no longer exist is sad. How did a street that once was a showcase, lose so many of its treasures? Two of the four are thought to be haunted. Are the Mather Mansion and Drury Mansion haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:

Danielle Rose, “Mather Mansion,” Cleveland Historical, accessed September 7, 2020, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/87

McNamara, Robert. "Penny Press." ThoughtCo, Feb. 11, 2020, thoughtco.com/penny-press-definition-1773293.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

HGB Ep. 351 - The Ghosts of Bermuda

Moment in Oddity - Dying Banned in Longyearbyen                                                              Suggested by: John Michaels

While it's not a law on the books, so its not illegal to die in Longyearbyen, Norway, for all intents and purposes, one is not encouraged to die there. This little village is located on the archipelago of Svalbard and is thought to be the most northerly town in the world. There are not many services on the island. The hospital can only handle non-life threatening conditions and there are no nursing homes. For this reason, any residents of the island must also have an address on the mainland. When they get to a point where they can't care for themselves, they have to leave. Some people do die here though in accidents and the 1918 Spanish Flu even hit here. But one cannot be buried here in a coffin because the bodies don't decompose since it is always so cold here. There are actually victims of the 1918 Spanish Flu buried here with remnants of the virus that were sampled and studied in 1998. So while dying isn't banned here, it is uncommon and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Bobby Fischer Wins World Chess Championship

In the month of September, on the 1st, in 1972, Bobby Fischer wins the World Chess Championship in Iceland. This was the most publicized and still the most famous chess title match in history. American Bobby Fischer faced Russian Boris Spassky and since the Cold War was going strong at this time, there were many political undertones. Fischer had started early with chess. He was playing professionally by the age of eight and he won the U.S. Open Championship when he was only fourteen. When Fischer won, it was the first time an American won the competition since it started in 1866 and the Russians had not been defeated in 24 years. So Fischer was a hero in some circles, but he definitely had his flaws. He was arrogant, demanding and only agreed to play in the tournament after the prize money was doubled and Henry Kissinger begged him to go. Fischer took home over $156,000, but would lose his title three years later when he had to forfeit his title because he wouldn't show up for the competition when his demands were not met. "The Ballad of Bobby Fischer" was a song he inspired and he became the subject of many movies and books.

The Ghosts of Bermuda

Most people think of the island of Bermuda as a tropical getaway with turquoise water and pink sand beaches. And while that is true, Bermuda has been known as the Isle of Devils. Much of the reason why was because of the stormy weather that has throttled the island, along with the treacherous ring of coral that has surrounded it. This also happens to be the eastern point of the Bermuda Triangle. Thus the island has become a place of lore and there are many tales of hauntings. Join us as we share the history and hauntings of Bermuda! 

Juan de Berm├║dez was a Spanish explorer who was the first to discover the island of Bermuda in 1505. He was sailing back to Spain after bringing provisions to Hispaniola. The island would be named for him and he would return to it a few years later to drop off some pigs in case anyone ever got marooned there. In 1609, Bermuda would finally be settled by the British, but this was not a planned development. Their ship The Sea Venture was headed to Jamestown when it wrecked on those treacherous corals around the island. Three people stayed here while the rest continued to Jamestown. It would take three years before the island was officially British territory and it has stayed that way up until our current time. The Town of St. George would be named the capitol and is considered the oldest continually inhabited English town in the Americas.

Bermuda has seen a lot of action through the years. The British used this as a launching point during the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. The Confederates used it during the Civil War. When Prohibition was in full swing, Bermuda was the scene of rum running. And while Bermuda is a British territory, it has been allowed to self-govern and British troops left in 1952. Agriculture and salt trading were early parts of its economy and these grew into shipbuilding and exporting lilies and onions. Fun Fact: Bermudians are sometimes called Onions for this reason. And, of course, the island's main enterprise is tourism. There is a mix of cultures here with a melding of British colonialism, the slave trade and immigrants from other islands and countries. There are many people on the island who speak Portuguese and Bermudians have unique idioms. For example, a "regular Sally Bassett day" means a hot summer's day and "Aunt Haggie's children" means slow or confounding people. 

For many people, when hearing the name Bermuda, they immediately think of the strange triangular portal referred to as the Bermuda Triangle. Christopher Columbus documented some of the earliest anomalous incidents in his logs, in which he describes compasses moving about erratically and strange lights in the sky. The Bermuda Triangle is also known as the Devil's Triangle and stretches from Miami, Florida to San Juan, Puerto Rico to Bermuda and could encompass up to 1.5 million square miles. This is one of the most heavily trafficked areas in the world by planes and ships, and several of those planes and ships have gone missing under mysterious circumstances. There are those who believe that the disappearances are tied to something paranormal like UFOs or some kind of portal or vortex. But science has a very different opinion.

From the NOAA website, "Environmental considerations could explain many, if not most, of the disappearances...And there is some evidence to suggest that the Bermuda Triangle is a place where a “magnetic” compass sometimes points towards “true” north, as opposed to “magnetic” north. The U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard contend that there are no supernatural explanations for disasters at sea.  Their experience suggests that the combined forces of nature and human fallibility outdo even the most incredulous science fiction. They add that no official maps exist that delineate the boundaries of the Bermuda Triangle. The U. S. Board of Geographic Names does not recognize the Bermuda Triangle as an official name and does not maintain an official file on the area. The ocean has always been a mysterious place to humans, and when foul weather or poor navigation is involved, it can be a very deadly place.  This is true all over the world.  There is no evidence that mysterious disappearances occur with any greater frequency in the Bermuda Triangle than in any other large, well-traveled area of the ocean." 

One of the most famous disappearances was Flight 19. This was a group of five TBM Avenger torpedo bombers out on a training flight on December 5, 1945. They never returned home and naval investigators assumed there was a navigational error and then the aircrafts ran out of fuel. There were 14 men lost with that disappearance. Radio conversations between the pilots of the planes was overheard by other aircraft. One of the students was asked about his compass reading and he said, "I don't know where we are. We must have got lost after that last turn." Another student was having the same trouble saying, "Both of my compasses are out and I am trying to find Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I am over land but it's broken. I am sure I'm in the Keys but I don't know how far down and I don't know how to get to Fort Lauderdale." A search and rescue aircraft with a 13-man crew disappeared while looking for wreckage from Flight 19. The theory is that this plane was overloaded with fuel and exploded.

Spithead House

Granaway Deep is a basin in Warwick, Bermuda. Along the shores of this location, one finds a house known as Spithead. This was the former home of Bermuda's foremost privateer, Hezekiah Frith. He was born in Bermuda and became a successful shipowner in the late 1700s. He made a fortune from smuggling and privateering. He ran a store next to the house where he sold treasures from two ships he had captured. Legend claims that he captured a Frenchwoman and kept her at his house. It is thought that he might have killed the young woman in the carriage house. And it is her and Hezekiah that are believed to haunt this location. American playwright Eugene O'Neill once lived in the house as did actor and director Charlie Chaplin. English playwright Sir Noel Coward lived here in 1956 and he claimed to have seen both apparitions on many occasions. 

The Ghost of Captain George Dew

Captain George Dew was a privateer who starting as a sailor working on the slave ships heading for west Africa. After this, he focused his efforts in Central and South America. In 1686, he took part in buccaneer raids on Panama City and the following year, he helped sack the city of Guayaquil in Ecuador. Bermuda would become a part of his life in 1691 when the country gave him a commission to privateer and he was told to focus on French ships. He partnered with William Kidd for awhile and also Thomas Griffin. They were pursued by pirate hunter Christopher Goffe, but he could never catch them as it was said "they could sail two feet to his one." Captain Dew returned to Bermuda in 1693 and got married and started a family. Soon he was off being a pirate again. He joined Thomas Tew for a bit and then he was off pioneering the Pirate Round route to Madagascar and then he pirated through the Caribbean. He settled down finally in 1699 and returned to Bermuda where he built his home that is now known as the Old Rectory. It took on this later name after Parson Richardson who was known as the "little bishop" lived here. Dew began a law practice of all things and was elected to a seat in the General Assembly. He died in 1703. The Old Rectory was eventually turned into a bed-and-breakfast and a Bermuda National Trust property. There are unique features like welcoming arms stairs and windows that are positioned high on the house, just under the eaves. (Those welcoming arms stairs are the ones that come up both sides. Legends claim that this was so a man wouldn't see a woman's ankles. Probably more about symmetry.) The Old Rectory is haunted by the ghost of Captain Dew and he is said to be seen most often sitting at a harpsichord and playing it softly.

Old Morgan

Some locals call this legend The Cloudy Captain, others refer to it as Old Morgan. Apparently, the Old Morgan is a long, low-lying raincloud that appears during the summertime over the island, but it is not actually a raincloud. This is supposed to be the spirit of a whaleboat captain by the name of Morgan. So, yes, Captain Morgan. One has to wonder if he was running rum. Legend claims that smugglers ransacked his boats in 1775 and he was so angry about this that even in death he cannot rest until the culprits are apprehended. That never seems to have happened, so this cloud will continue to show up and islanders will probably hope that the rain that is falling is actually rum. (When we researched further we did find that there was a Charles W. Morgan whaling ship that carried whaleboats aboard it. She is nearly 180 years old and has been restored and named for Charles Waln Morgan, a businessman rather than a captain.)

Somersalls 

Somersalls is a home found at Orange Grove that was built in the late 1600s. This was built by William Manigan. His family had a Native American slave named John that they abused horribly. One day, John decided to kill the family, so he set the house on fire and then waited outside with a gun to shoot anyone who fled. After the deed, he was captured, tried and sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered. Legend claims that his spirit still roams the grounds, although we could find no records that this location still exists. John is heard chanting in a Native American language and holding a pistol.

Bel-Air

Another weird story is told about a house called Bel-Air on Cobb's Hill. People claimed there were strange noises, disembodied voices and flickering lights here. The Helen Hays Repertory Theater visited in 1958 and while staying here, they felt very unsettled. They decided to use a Ouija Board to see if the place was haunted. It was said that they made contact with a female slave who had once worked on the property. She told them that another slave had stolen some jewelry from their master and that he was tortured as punishment. While that happened, he cursed the house and that had left the dwelling with an oppressive and negative energy. One part of the torture was that the slave's hand was burned in a kiln. The spirit gave them directions where they could find it and when they dug in the spot, they found an old kiln.

Fort St. Catherine 

Fort St. Catherine is the oldest and largest fort on the island and sits at the northeastern tip of St. Geroge's Island. As was the case with many forts built in the 1600s, this one was originally constructed from wood. A stone fort replaced it in 1614, but that would not be the final fort. This one was rebuilt five times with the final one being completed at the end of the 19th Century. The main issue for Fort St. Catherine was that it was fairly exposed, but its position did help it prevent ships that had entered through the open Atlantic from coming around St. George's Island and heading West. Ships had to get close to the fort because of the reefline, so they were easier to hit. Today, the fort is a museum and a fun fact is that Charlton Heston once appeared in a production of Macbeth in the 1950s at Fort St. Catherine's. The main spirit that haunts the fort is known as George. His apparition has been seen and heard in the lower chambers of Fort St. Catherine. Apparently, he got rather bothersome with his antics and an exorcism was performed, but it didn't work. Mainly because those are for demons. George is just cantankerous. 

Windswept Cottage

Hugh Gray was a hotelier in Bermuda and he owned the Cambridge Beaches property. On the property was the Windswept Cottage and this is where he lived with his wife. The Grays went to lunch with Inspector Dennis Alderson in the 1920s and the trio decided to go for a boat ride. The boat turned over and only Hugh Gray survived. He was rescued and a search was made for the bodies of his wife and the Inspector. Five days later, the body of Inspector Vernon Jackson was found at Spanish Point, but he had not drowned. His cummerbund was found tightened around his neck. Mrs. Gray was never found. An inquest was held, but Hugh Gray was cleared. Most people believe there was a love triangle and Gray killed his wife and her lover. Some time later, Hugh Gray was found dead at the bottom of the stairs at the Windswept Cottage. Rumors circulated that his wife's ghost had come back to get revenge. There are claims that Hugh Gray now haunts that cottage. Housekeepers are afraid to clean the cottage and there are claims that the disembodied whistling of Hugh is heard. His apparition is seen walking the coastline near the cottage as well.

Winton Estate

The estate known as Winton is said to be the scariest haunted property on the island. The Winton Estate is found on the North Shore and is over 200 years old. This home was built by Captain Thomas Dill who had been born in Devonshire Parish. Dill would start as a rifleman with the Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps in 1895 and work his way up to lieutenant and finally Captain by 1914. He was the commandant and it was his duty to guard the Royal Naval Dockyard in Bermuda. He gave up his position to fight in World War I and the Bermudian contingent was strongly praised for their work. Dill later became Bermuda's Attorney General and served as a member of the Colonial Parliament. He married Ruth Neilson and they had seven children. Fun Fact: Their daughter Diana married Kirk Douglas and she was the mother of Michael Douglas. The haunting that takes place here is said to be from Mrs. Dill. Her misty apparition has been seen roaming the house and she touches people by tapping them. Her disembodied footsteps are heard and she appears hovering over people when they are in bed. She answers the phone too, but doesn't say anything, confounding the callers on the other end of the line. 

There are claims that the haunting is so intense that it has driven people to a nervous breakdown. Mrs. Doreen “Mac” Musson told The Bermudian about her time living in the house for 11 months in 1964, "We just couldn’t get any sleep at night. Even after the first week I began to notice something, though I didn’t believe in ghosts when I first moved in. There were sudden temperature drops in the house–even in the dining room–which couldn’t be explained away as drafts." She also claimed that her children saw the ghostly face of a woman looking at them and that objects would go missing. Orbs would travel up and down the stairs. Eventually, Mac Musson wrote a book with John Cox titled "Bermuda’s Favourite Haunts."

Orange Valley Road House

Devonshire Parish is one of the nine parishes that make up Bermuda and it lies in the very center of Bermuda. This was named after William Cavendish, 1st Earl of Devonshire. Within the parish, on 15 wooded acres, stands a 200 year old home known as the Orange Valley Road House since it sits on that road, but it should probably be known as the Cox House because that is the name of the family that has owned this house throughout those centuries. The house is well preserved and has some of the finest examples of Queen Anne furniture and there are painted portraits of all the generations who have owned the home. The house was originally built by Captain William Cox in 1796. Another member of the Cox family who lived here was named Laura. She was an avid horticulturist and took great pride in the gardens on the property. She died in 1861, but it is at unrest because her beloved flower garden was torn up and removed. She appears as a full-bodied apparition pointing angrily at the spot where her garden once was located. 

One of Cox's descendants, John Cox, is the current owner and he has experienced many things. He wrote an article in The Bermudian in October of 2019 and he wrote, "Although I have never seen it, I actually experienced it some years ago which caused me serious alarm. At the time, I was occupying the west bedroom upstairs. Night after night, I was awakened by strange steps pacing back and forth across my room. Eerie lights would also pass by the opened door which led into the day room and small objects on the bureau would move of their own accord. Sometimes I would feel that I could not breathe, as though I were being choked. Finally, after many unnerving encounters, I called out loudly, 'Please, whoever you are, stop this. You are frightening me!' In the next instant, I was aware of someone standing over me. A warm hand touched my neck. It was as real as if my own mother had touched me. After that night, I was never again troubled by the ghost."

John Cox also wrote of his cousin's experience that happened a couple decades earlier. She had brought her twin daughters over for a birthday party and was walking around the grounds when she ran into a Lady in White with her hair pulled back into a bun. His cousin said, "The mysterious woman seemed to want to communicate with me, but she said nothing. She just gazed intently at me. She next beckoned me towards the old rose garden. I looked toward the garden, some 40 feet away and then back at the mysterious woman but she had vanished as quickly as that! I knew then that I had encountered a ghost. For a while I had an odd feeling about it but I tried not to let it bother me." 

Laura Cox is not the only spirit reputedly on this property, which some claim is the most haunted in Bermuda. In 1974, John's brother and some of his friends decided to camp out in Orange Valley. When they returned to the house the following morning, they saw a man staring out of a window of the east bedroom. The boys turned on a flashlight to get a better look and they saw that the man was heavy set and wearing a dark cloak. They could all see the man clearly and they observed him for a while before he disappeared. The boys ran inside to search the house and only found the father sleeping in an upstairs room. John later figured out who the spirit belonged to and it was an eccentric uncle named Aubrey Cox. Aubrey had put in the larger window that is found in this room because he liked to wake up early and watch the dawn approach out that window. John's brother has also been awakened by the spirit of a young black man and seen him standing by the bed before he disappeared. For some reason, after he vanishes, there is a smell of bacon.

A young woman was taking a tour of the house and she told John, "You will probably think me crazy but do you know you have a ghost in the house?" John told her that they had several. She must have thought he was poking fun at her because she emphasized that she was serious and then she told him what she had just experienced, "I have communicated with the spirit of a woman of about 40 years of age. She says her name is Mary and she is very distressed because her husband is away at sea and he doesn’t know she is ill." When John looked through his family records, he found out that Captain William Cox was married to a woman named Mary who died of pneumonia in the house in April of 1806 while he was away, sailing in the West Indies. Objects have been known to move on their own around the house and there have been some disturbing experiences too. John and his cousin were both choked on the stairs when they were teenagers to the point that they couldn't breathe.

The Ghosts of New England Research Society investigated the house in 2013. They claimed to catch the sound of a woman sobbing uncontrollably in an upstairs bedroom. They also reported, "We also witnessed what appeared to be a black, shadow figure, appear near a coffee table in the main parlor of the house during an EVP session. In the interest of full disclosure, of the four people in the room, three could see it and one could not. However, at that very instant, an infra-red, motion activated camera tripped and took several pictures, none of which show anything unusual." They also detected the scent of roses when there were no roses in the house.

Bermuda is a beautiful island with a landscape dotted by hundreds of historic buildings. Are some of those buildings haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, September 3, 2020

HGB Ep. 350 - H.H. Richardson Complex

Moment in Oddity - Mammoth in Alaska

Massive shaking near the Kultieth River in southeast Alaska was picked up by an earthquake center in Alaska in 2015. The shaking lasted for eight minutes before the transmission stopped. The scientists knew from observing the data that they were receiving from this remote seismic station, that what was registering was not an earthquake. So what could it be? Thoughts of the movie The Thing probably came to mind for some of these scientists. Whatever had caused the shaking had also damaged the machine. There are some who wondered if it was possible that a prehistoric mammoth had caused the damage. Mammoths went extinct at least 4,000 years ago or so we've been told. But indigineous shamen claim that mammoths were being hunted as recently as 200 years ago. The scientists decided that it was probably just a bear that destroyed the machine based on teeth marks. Mammoths had lived here at one time and Alaska is so remote, the possibility that some survived is real. There are also reports that there is an Alaskan Bigfoot, which could be big enough and powerful enough to destroy equipment. No one knows definitively what destroyed the equipment and caused 8 minutes of shaking and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Jimmy Carter's UFO Report

In the month of September, on the 18th, in 1973, Jimmy Carter filed a UFO Report. The future president's sighting had actually happened in October of 1969, but he waited several years before officially filing the report with the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICA.) His story detailed how he was waiting outside a Lion’s Club Meeting in Leary, Georgia in the evening. He looked up at the sky and saw what he described as "the darndest thing I’ve ever seen." What makes this even more believable is that he was with a group of people who all saw the same thing. President Carter wrote that the UFO was "very bright [with] changing colors and about the size of the moon" and "the object hovered about 30 degrees above the horizon and moved in toward the earth and away before disappearing into the distance." Because of his own experience, Carter promised during the presidential campaign of 1976 that he would push for the release of government documents about UFOs if he were elected President. As we know now, that was just another presidential campaign promise not kept.

H.H. Richardson Complex (Suggested by: Karen Hubbard)

Hotel Henry, Urban Resort Conference Center sounds like a nice place to stay. Looks like a great place to host a wedding and who doesn't want a historic Gothic structure in their wedding photos? Perhaps hearing that this location is situated on a War of 1812 battlefield might give one pause. Or maybe the fact that this structure was once an asylum might be worrisome. Would the fact that Frederick Olmstead designed these grounds cause some hesitation before booking? After all, Olmstead was a landscape architect who was notorious in supernatural circles for designing haunted property. It is not surprising that the former H.H. Richardson Complex is reputed to be one of the most haunted sites in Buffalo and in the state of New York. Join us and our listener Karen Hubbard as we explore the history and haunts of the H.H. Richardson Complex!

The Buffalo State Asylum opened in 1880 on what had been 200 acres of farm land overlooking the Niagara River and Lake Erie. The corner stone was laid on September 18, 1872 and the account about it that appears in the book "The Institutional Care of the Insane in the United States and Canada" states, "The corner-stone of the hospital was laid before a distinguished body of people. The account written at that time says 'the display made by the military and Masonic Order, including the Knights Templar, was the finest ever witnessed in this city, and had the weather proved propitious the effect would have been grand. Governor John T. Hoffman made the opening address, and an oration was delivered by James O. Putnam. After the oration Dr. James P. White, president of the Board of Managers, notified Christopher Fox, Grand Master of the Masons of the State of New York, to lay the corner-stone with the ancient forms of Masonry.'"

Construction had begun in 1870 and took twenty years to complete, but when it was finished, it was one of the most state-of-the-art asylums of its time. This was the first hospital for the insane to offer a training school for nurses. Like many of its counterparts, this institute was designed in the Kirkbride Plan and the grounds were specially designed by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Olmsted famously said, "The root of all my good work is an early respect for, regard and enjoyment of scenery… and extraordinary opportunities for cultivating susceptibility to the power of scenery." He had a lot to work with because there were several springs on the property and groves of oak and maple trees. The architect of the asylum was the man for whom it was named, H.H. Richardson. And as Karen Hubbard informed us, (Karen 1) that is what Richardson Romanesque was named for. The buildings were constructed from red sandstone and brick. A very unique feature was that the buildings had curved walls and there was a reason for this. In many asylums, patients would be placed out in hallways with overcrowding, but these curved walls prevented that from happening here.

The first buildings on the property were the administration buildings. There were five buildings and eleven wards and it wouldn't be until 1895 that the final five buildings would be completed and finish the original plan. That are these two glorious towers rising up out of the main building like some kind of Gothic cathedral. Additional buildings would be added. In 1897 would come the building for the worst cases of mental illness that housed the operating rooms, hydrotherapy equipment, electrical apparatuses and laboratory. An amusement hall, a male employee dormitory, a chapel and home for the superintendent were added in 1905. Ward 35 would come in 1909 and housed female tubercular patients. Ward 36 was built in 1913 and was a pavilion for contagious disease.

The first patients to arrive at the Buffalo asylum came from the Utica State Hospital. And as was the case with all asylums and despite the fact that this one was constructed to prevent the issues experienced at other asylums when overcrowding happened, this asylum became horribly overcrowded and old, outdated practices started to be used meaning people were abused and living conditions went downhill.

In the 1970s, despite restoration efforts, three buildings were demolished. The Richardson Center Corporation was formed by the state of New York in 2006 with the goal to rehabilitate the site. In 2008, stabilization efforts were made that were completed in 2012. During that time, a fire caused $200,000 in damage and no cause was ever found. In 2013, plans were made for the first Phase of the development and Hotel Henry would be born.

Hotel Henry is unique in that it claims to be an urban resort. Their website describes it this way, "Hotel Henry’s Urban Resort is distinctive from the type of 'resort' that most travelers expect. Instead, the surrounding city of Buffalo – its galleries and cultural institutions, architecture, nearby parks… are the treasures to be enjoyed. The Urban Resort is the design-rich city of Buffalo itself. Situated on 42 acres within the City of Buffalo’s museum district and cultural corridor, the Urban Resort Conference Center is surrounded by parks, lakes, museums and connected to the fun and vibrant Elmwood Village. Enjoy a vibrant urban streetscape interwoven with sprawling parkways, local food and shopping, an adjacent college campus, world-class museums and galleries, and nearby Delaware Park. Hotel Henry is centrally-located among Buffalo’s most eclectic and active areas. This is the urban resort experience." Architecture firm Deborah Berke Partners, along with Flynn Battaglia Architects and Goody Clancy, which is a preservation firm, partially restored the former asylum. The hotel offers 88 rooms and many upgrades, but some original features are still here. There is a winged staircase, original moldings and fireplaces and 12-foot hallways.

We found this article in the Buffalo Biz Journals dated to 2016 talking about the ghost stories connected to building and despite the fact that a haunted reputation is usually a selling point for many hotels, Henry Hotel developer Dennis Murphy said, "I suppose from the outside looking in, those types of stories could be really interesting. But as someone who is making a big financial investment in this project, they are not helpful." And despite the fact that Murphy claimed that he never experienced any activity and that a paranormal investigator interviewed for the article made the same claim, there are plenty of people who report having paranormal experiences here. One of those people is our listener Karen Hubbard. (EVPs -2)

Paranormal investigator and Buffalo ghost walks guide Mason Winfield has an interesting theory we had not heard before. He has said basically that it's not surprising that the mentally ill have "a greater tendency" for hauntings because "they have higher functions of the unconscious mind." A young woman and her friends visited the Buffalo Asylum when it was abandoned and she said, "It looked like someone snapped their fingers and everyone disappeared.' There was still medical equipment and hospital beds inside. She said there were no ghosts, but she definitely got some intense feelings. A floor partially caved and the group started running. The woman said, "When we saw a sign for the morgue I said, ‘Screw this! I need to get out!’" She had felt overwhelmed by fear. "All I can remember were my emotions. I wanted to die."

The idea that a former asylum would not be haunted is ludicrous based on our experiences. There is just far too much energy left over, regardless of what renovations have been made. Maybe one day Hotel Henry will embrace the past and embrace its spirits. But as is the case with all of our episodes as to whether this location is haunted, that is for you to decide!

Show Notes:

The Institutional Care of the Insane in the United States and Canada, By Henry Mills Hurd, William Francis Drewry, Richard Dewey, Charles Winfield Pilgrim, George Adler Blumer, American Medico-Psychological Association. Committee on a History of the Institutional Care of the Insane, Thomas Joseph Workmann Burgess, Volume 3, The John Hopkins Press, Baltimore, Maryland, 1916, Pages 179 – 184.