Moment in Oddity - Leo "Suicide" Simon
On this episode we are featuring haunted cemeteries and one of the men buried in one of them was Joel Bean. We found an interesting rabbit hole connected to him that became our oddity. When Joel Bean died in 1942,
the property he had owned was purchased by Leopold and Donna Simon (Sea-mon), who were
entertainers in traveling circuses. Leo was known by a variety of names:
Leo “Suicide” Simon, “Captain Leo ‘Suicide’
Simon”, “Fire-Diver”, the “Human Firecracker”, and the “Dynamite Devil.”
He was really good at high-board diving and he decided to add some
tricks to that. He began his fire-diving act in the 1930s. This was a
crazy act. He would climb up an 80-foot tall ladder, douse himself in
gasoline and then set himself on fire. He would then do some kind of a
swan dive or somersault into a 6-foot pool of water, which was also on
fire. As if that was not dangerous enough, the pool had spikes all
around it that could have killed him instantly if he missed. Another one
of his stunts involved climbing into a box with three sticks of
dynamite and he would light them with his cigar and basically blow
himself up. He and Donna opened the El Jobe-an Hotel in 1942 and many
circus performers would winter there, including the famous “Flying
Wallendas.” We're sure Leo's act was really something, not only dangerously nuts, but it certainly was odd!
This Month in History - Billy Goat Curse on Cubs
In the month of October, on the 6th, in 1945, the curse of the billy goat on the Chicago Cubs baseball team started. William Sianis was a Greek immigrant who opened several chains of taverns in Chicago called the Billy Goat Tavern. He kept a pet billy goat as the mascot. William loved the Cubs and on that October 6th day he bought two tickets to the game, which was Game 4 of the 1945 World Series. One was for himself and the other was for his goat. He brought the goat with him and they allowed him to parade the goat on the field wearing a sign that read, "We got Detroit's Goat." Some people seated near the goat started complaining about its smell, so William and the goat were asked to leave. William was incensed and he hurled a curse upon the Cubs. He said, "Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more. You are going to lose this World Series and you are never going to win another World Series again. You are never going to win a World Series again because you insulted my goat." And the Cubs didn't win a World Series or even a National League pennant for fifty years. They finally broke the curse or whatever it was in 2016. Whether you believe in a curse or not, the lesson here is clearly don't piss off a man and his goat!
Haunted Cemeteries 16
We all are going to die and most people desire a final tribute that will last on through the decades and even the centuries. This memorial could be a simple wooden cross, a small plaque, a tombstone of granite or marble or even something as audacious as a mausoleum or pyramid. We all want something that puts the final period on the fact that we actually did live. We were here. We contributed. We were loved. That is the purpose of cemeteries. For many of us, these are a place of serenity. Life and death come together and sit in peace. But sometimes the peace is broken by vandalism or even restless spirits. In this, our sixteenth exploration through cemeteries around the world, we will discuss the history and ghosts of some haunted cemeteries.
Little Pennsylvania Cemetery in Ohio
Outside of the Columbus, Ohio area, one will find a little tucked away cemetery known by three names: the Little Pennsylvania Cemetery, London-Darbydale Cemetery or Woolybooger Cemetery. That last name was inspired by the crypid creature that is believed to live in the cemetery. The cemetery has burials dating to 1834 and most of the burials are family plots with decorative cement edging. The layout is unique in that it is long and narrow and set on the side of a hill.
This is a cemetery with many legends connected to it and not much proof to back up those stories. One story claims that a man named Willie Butcher had lived across from where the cemetery is located. Butcher killed his family one night and then committed suicide. A little girl spirit in white has been seen wandering the cemetery and people claim that this is Willie's daughter. Willie is said to haunt the cemetery too. There is no proof that a Butcher family ever lived in that place and there is no evidence a house was ever there. Now the house was from the 1800s and supposedly the local villagers burned it down. There are no people named Butcher buried in the cemetery. Willie Butcher could possibly have morphed into Wooly Booger and that may be how that legend got started. Some storytellers claim that the girl in white was actually a murder victim found near the cemetery.
There is a legend that a Satanic cult would meet in the cemetery and conduct rituals, which is a rumor about so many haunted cemeteries. There are some who wonder if the KKK had met here and that's where stories of ghosts in the cemetery may have come from. Now as for the The Wooly Booger, it is supposed to be a Bigfoot-like creature that lives in the woods near the cemetery, but no one has actually ever seen one.
The Gheus Paranormal Group have investigated in the cemetery and claimed that they captured odd pictures and EVPs. One EVP features a woman screaming and they heard this audibly as well. One of the female investigators had long scratches on her back once they left the cemetery. Visitors to the cemetery do claim to hear screams and several people claim to feel very nauseous when in the graveyard.
DV wrote on the Mask of Reason Blog, "My story involves the cemetery and it’s gate, it was always said that if you do not walk through the gate and instead choose to go around that something horrible will happen to you. Now I had always heard this but never lent it much credence but after this night I kinda thought the legend may be true. I went with 5 of my buddies and we came to the gate, well 4 of us went through but two of my friends made fun of the legend and laughed as they walked around it. We informed them but they just shrugged it off, the next night the two friends went into Lancaster and on the way back got into a horrible car crash killing my friend the driver and almost killing the passenger. Also on a separate occasion it was just two of us and as we were about to go in a sheriff pulled up and of course stopped us. But after talking to the sheriff, he informed us to never go back there due to the satanic activities that he has had to deal with in the past. This was in the mid nineties so for all of you who do go out to that cemetery built on a hill, make sure you go ‘through’ the gate."
A woman named Amie wrote on the same website, "The night before, my friend went there with a few of his other friends and as they were leaving they all said they heard a girl scream. Which was weird because no one was there but the 6 of them. I didn’t think much of it until the story above talks about hearing the family screaming. I don’t know if I believe in ghosts but I’m sure not gonna mess with them."
There is another haunted cemetery in Ohio and this one is located in Athens. Simms Cemetery is located on Peach Ridge Road on private property and graves here date back to the mid 1800s. The number of headstones still here are few. The cemetery is believed to have been named after a man named John Simms. He and his family are buried here and it is believed that he had the dubious job of being the town's hangman. Technically, he was the judge and so sentenced people to die, many of whom were black. There is a tree atop the hill at the cemetery that people claim is the former hanging tree and rope burns and marks are still visible on the limbs. Hangings here stopped in the 1890s, but that hasn't stopped people from seeing figures hanging from the limbs. There is a claim out there that this cemetery is part of something called the Cemetery Pentagram. These five cemeteries are Mathany, Hanning, Hunter, Peach Ridge, and Simms. Simms is at the top part of the pentagram.
This cemetery is small, but its haunted reputation is large. Not only are hanging victims seen in the limbs of the tree, but they are seen walking around the tree. There are strange sounds heard here and weird light anomalies, mostly in the form of orbs. The spirit of John Simms is here in the afterlife as well. He is seen wearing a long hooded shroud and walking around the trees and occasionally chasing anybody in the cemetery after dark and that sometimes he is carrying a sickle when this happens. The most bizarre claim about this graveyard is that it moves around and relocates itself. And then there is a legend connected to the cemetery claiming that a woman named Mary Roberts was buried near the Simms family plot and that she was put to death for being a witch. She was buried in this spot to curse Simms for his sins. Mary was actually buried elsewhere with her father and daughter on their farm.
Miami City Cemetery
Miami had originally been known as "Biscayne Bay Country." An early landowner here was Julia Tuttle and after the Great Freeze of 1894 took out most of the citrus in the state, save for that in southern Florida, she managed to convince railroad tycoon Henry Flagler to bring his railway down to Miami. Miami was incorporated as a city in 1896 with a population of only 300, many of whom were people of color. In 1897, the City of Miami purchased land from the Brickell family and founded Miami City Cemetery, which today can be found at 1800 Northeast 2nd Avenue. This is the oldest graveyard in the area. There are around 9,000 burials here. Most of the early burials were for black people and the first definitely was on July 14, 1897. The cemetery was segregated early with whites buried on the east end and blacks on the west end. A Jewish segment was started in 1915 as well as a Catholic section.
This cemetery has a very unique situation. Owners of a plot actually own the deed to the plot. People can still be buried in this graveyard today, but there is a strict criteria that must be met. The person who wants to be buried here must either hold the deed or prove that they are related to the deed holder. There are around 10 to 20 burials a year. Some of the interesting burials include pioneer families like the Peacocks, Dr. James Jackson and the Burdines, military burials that include Confederates, Union soldiers and Spanish-American war veterans and Julia Tuttle who is considered the "Mother of Miami." There is also the only known five oolitic limestone gravestone found in the world. This is Miami Oolic, which is formed from fossils of corals, echinoids, mollusks, and algae. Other oolic limestone is formed from small grains of sand that have rolled around the sea floor collecting calcite, which binds different grains of sediment together. Sarcophagi were made from an unusual limestone and sarcophagus means “flesh-eating.” This was a specific kind of limestone that facilitated the decomposition of flesh.
So let's look more closely at some of these prominent burials. William M. Burdines was the founder of Burdines, which was a chain of department stores in Florida with a headquarters in Miami. Macy's eventually bought it out and dropped the Burdine's name. William died in 1911. John Sewell was the third Mayor of Miami and he was buried here in 1938. Dr. James Jackson was the first resident physician in Miami. And then there was Julia Tuttle. You probably have never heard of her, but that is a shame because she is the only woman to found a major American city. She owned the land upon which Miami was founded and so she was called the "Mother of Miami." Tuttle convinced Flagler to move his railway south by sending him a bouquet of flowers proving that the freeze had not touched Miami. Flagler agreed to bring the railway down and Tuttle supplied him with the land for a hotel and a railroad station for free. Tuttle died at the age of 49 from Meningitis. Julia Tuttle's spirit is one of the apparitions seen here. People claim to feel as though someone is standing near them when they visit her memorial. She shows up when vandals come onto the property and start their antics.
Probably the most strange burial is that of Carrie Barrett Miller. Her husband requested that after her body was placed in the grave, sans coffin, that she should be covered in concrete. The tombstone explains why, "The body of Carrie Barrett Miller was moulded in this solid block of concrete. December 4th 1926. After the body has gone to dust, her sleeping form will remain." But one has to wonder, who would see the form? Even with the concrete there, people claim to hear scratching coming from the grave.
Prism Paranormal went in with a spirit box and near the Vereen family's mausoleum they got the name Vereen and also David twice. That was the name of the guy using the spirit box. Near Robert Emmet Cooney's chest tomb, the spirit box said Robert Emmet twice. It then said, "Of course he died" when David asked how he died. The name David came up a lot. An interesting exchange said "We're dead" then another voice said "Don't tell him that." There was also "I'm here" twice and "We're here" once. The military sections of the cemetery really had a security guard freaked out. He had experienced some strange things in the cemetery and he happily shared about those, but when it came to these sections he would only say, "Don't go there after dark." Ronnie Hrwitz is a historian and volunteer at this cemetery and he has found all kinds of strange things connected to Santeria and Voodoo, both of which are practiced in Miami. He has found "a goat's leg, a pig's head, little cups of espresso, voodoo dolls. Every Sunday the grave of Lt. Gen. N.I. Egoroff of the Russian Imperial Army is covered with sweets — only sweets." This has caused some to claim that there is a dark energy here.
Indian Spring Cemetery
This second haunted cemetery from Florida is named for the site where it is located, Indian Spring. The Calusa Native American tribe were mound builders that were here starting around 3,000 years ago. They are more popularly known here as the "Shell Indians." They lived along the southwest coast of Florida and controlled most of southern Florida. They were seafaring warriors and the other indigineous tribes feared them. Their homes in Indian Spring would have been built on stilts and the roofs would have been fashioned from Palmetto leaves. The homes had no sides. They collected shells and left them in piles that can still be seen today. They died out in the late 1700s. More than likely, an Indian burial ground was here.
White settlers would set down roots and form the town of Charlotte Harbor, just south of Punta Gorda. They would found Indian Spring Cemetery in 1886. James L. Sandlin, a Florida pioneer, donated the land. The cemetery stretches over 40 acres and about 2,500 people are buried here, with 380 of them being veterans of all wars. Sandlin is one of those people. Other notable people buried here are Virginia Taylor Trabue, who died in 1924 and was the wife of Punta Gorda's founder, Sallie Jones who was Florida's first female Superintendent of Schools and died in 1960, Albert Waller Gilchrist who died in 1926 and was the Florida Southern Railway surveyor who platted Indian Spring and served as Governor of Florida from 1909 to 1913 and Joel Bean who died in 1943 and was the founder of El Jobean, Florida's first circular city. That is an anagram of his name.
Indian Spring Cemetery is said to be haunted. People claim to see ghostly lights and to hear disembodied moaning and screaming. Shadow figures are also seen. My friend, Scott Walker, founded Peace River Ghost Trackers and they have collected evidence at the graveyard. Their group experienced the sounds of crying and wailing female voices and they witnessed lights moving across the graveyard and disappearing into graves. They think the mausoleum on the west side of the cemetery is the most haunted location where they witnessed several times a dark shadow that drifted out of it and floated down along the Alligator Creek. On the Florida Haunted Houses website, a couple of people posted about hearing screams in the cemetery too. One wrote, "I was the only one who had heard it, which was astonishing as it was so very loud. I had heard a woman screaming as if she was at the verge of death. She sounded to be about 18-28."
In Dave Lapham's book "Ghosthunting Florida," he writes about the experiences of a woman named Jody who lives near the cemetery, "She and her mother used to walk their dogs in the evenings along the road next to the cemetery. One evening when she was about fourteen or fifteen, they walked a little farther than normal, and by the time they turned around to go home, it was getting dark. That didn't particularly bother them because they knew the area - this was their neighborhood. But as they strolled along, the dogs began to bark excitedly at something in the cemetery. At first Jody and her mother couldn't see anything, but then lights appeared, floating three-to-four feet off the ground and occasionally what looked like large, dark balls of mist swooshing by them. Suddenly, the dogs stopped barking and became very nervous. Frightened now, they all raced home. Jody doesn't walk there in the dark anymore."
Seventh Day Baptist Cemetery/Green Lady Cemetery
Seventh Day Baptist Cemetery, or as the locals nicknamed it, Green Lady Cemetery is located on Upson Road in Burlington, Connecticut. This is the oldest cemetery in Burlington and dates back to the late 18th century. The name indicates that this is the burial ground for members of the Seventh Day Baptist Church. This was a religious group that originated in Rhode Island and 20 families decided to move to Burlington, Connecticut and established a new church there in 1780. When the church was built, a half an acre was set aside for the purpose of a public burying ground. Residents of Burlington didn't care much for this group and they made attempts to drive them away, which eventually happened in 1820. The last burial in the cemetery just happens to be Diane's birthday, October 14, in 1881. The cemetery soon took on another name and that was Green Lady Cemetery, due to a legend.
Locals claimed to see a green spectral figure in the cemetery and they started calling her the Green Lady. Most people believe this is the spirit of a woman name Elisabeth Palmiter, who was a Seventh Day Baptist. She apparently died after going out into a bad snow storm looking for her husband. He had gone to town to get supplies, but decided to stay put when he saw how bad the storm was. Elisabeth got lost and drowned in a swamp. The story goes that her husband Benjamin found her body frozen in the swamp, wearing a green dress. There is one version of the legend that claims Benjamin murdered her and threw her in the swamp.
Many people have claimed to see the spirit glowing in a green mist when they pass by the cemetery. Some have been close enough to see her smile before she disappears. Mysterious lights are also seen the graveyard. Some say the light almost appears to be the light from a lantern and they wonder if this is the spirit of Benjamin looking for Elisabeth. As is the case with so many cemeteries, people claim that satanic rituals took place here in the early 1990s. A couple of local students found an altar in the cemetery and they heard disembodied voices yelling at them, "GET OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT!" They fled from the cemetery. There is a claim that a paranormal researcher was in the cemetery recording and he captured shrieking noises and was also tapped on the shoulder in December 2015.
Nunica Cemetery is found in the tiny town of Nunica on Michigan's west coast. This is reputedly one of the most haunted cemeteries on that coast and was established in 1883. This is a small secluded cemetery with a winding dirt road that has had a real folk art feel to it because for many years, families were allowed to make their own homemade memorials. A notable burial here is for Henry E. Plant. He was a Civil War Congressional Medal of Honor recipient. He served as a Corporal in Company F, 14th Michigan Infantry. He earned his medal on March 19, 1865 during the battle at Bentonville in North Carolina. He rushed forward to rescue his unit's colors from the Confederates when his color bearer had fallen mortally wounded. He died in 1925. Another Civil War veteran here is Joel A. Bond, whom people refer to as Mr. Bond. He served with the Twenty-first Michigan Infantry. He owned a farm in Nunica and lived until 1913. Investigators claim that he haunts the cemetery and likes to get cheeky with the ladies by playing with their hair and touching their bottoms.
There are a couple of legends here. One claims that a tree near the front of the cemetery was used by a man to hang himself. A missing branch seems to lend credence to this fact and that it was cut off to perhaps bring the man down. People claim to get a creepy feeling when near the tree. Another legend claims that there are no burials in the front of the cemetery because this is a Native American burial ground. There is no record of either of these stories, but they are interesting.
Nicole Bray, the founder of West Michigan Ghost Hunter's Society, has investigated inside the cemetery. Her first visit, she took an EMF detector with her and it was going crazy. This cemetery is nowhere near anything that would give off an electrical field. The energy drained from the equipment every time she visited the cemetery. There is a section that has many children buried in it and one day when Nicole took a tour group through the cemetery, the group suddenly felt as though cold air was enveloping them and then someone heard a little boy's voice and then the cold disappeared as quickly as it came.
Amberrose Hammond wrote the book, "Ghosts and Legends of Michigan's West Coast" and she claims that when she was in the cemetery she felt her left hand get really cold. Someone with her pulled out a temperature gauge and even though it was summer, the gauge read 20 degrees. The cold eventually went away, but it served to back up the story that a little girl's ghost likes to hold hands with visitors to the cemetery. There is a lady in white here who has been seen on a part of the cemetery that is on a hill.
Toowong Cemetery in Brisbane (Suggested by Natalie and Asha Moore)
Toowong Cemetery is also known as the Brisbane General Cemetery and was once Brisbane's main cemetery. Burials started here in 1871, but was officially founded in 1875 on the slopes of Mt Coot-tha in Brisbane's inner western suburbs. Over 120,000 people are buried here over forty-four hectares, which is a little over 108 acres, making this Queenland's largest cemetery. The cemetery is beautiful with winding pathways, large fig trees, weeping banyans, Bangalow Palm, Cypress Pine, Camphor Laurels, avenues of oleander flowers and many unique burials.
On our earlier episode featuring Brisbane, we shared that this had once been a penal colony, but quickly transferred to a free area. Since this had been a place with mainly criminals, the first cemetery here was used for burying convicts and soldiers. Such a place did not seem appropriate for children. It was decided that another cemetery needed to be laid out on the outside of the community. This cemetery was soon done away with because expansion encroached on it and another site in Toowong was chosen. For a couple decades there would be a lot of debate in regards to this burial ground. Much of the issue dealt with public access, but once it was surrounded with public roads, the debates lessened with most focusing on health issues. And there were some residents who wanted to use the land for other things. We imagine this is one of the only cemeteries to have once had a rifle range.
The cemetery was closed to burials except for family members in 1975, but in 1998 it reopened to burials. Many unique memorials and prominent people can be found in Toowong Cemetery. One of the first burials was for Queensland's second governor, Samuel Wensley Blackall. He had been a big proponent for establishing this cemetery and he wanted to be buried there. He was buried here on January 3, 1871 on the highest knoll. This grave is the largest and most prominent in the cemetery and because it is on the high knoll, it had a wonderful view of Brisbane. Most of the high areas of the cemetery were left to the more prosperous. As you make your way to the lower more water-logged areas, you will find a lower class of people with paupers being buried in this less desirable area. There are many separate sections for different religions and denominations.
There are graves for 270 Commonwealth service personnel from World War I and 117 Commonwealth service personnel from World War II. Some memorials include the Cross of Sacrifice, Shrine of Remembrance and the Temple of Peace, which was built in 1924 by Prussian migrant Richard Ramo. He designed it as a memorial to his four sons and his dog, who was poisoned, and it has many anti-war inscriptions and several stained glass windows. Adventurer Edward McGregor had a monument made in his likeness and it features him sitting with his chin on his hand looking down as he watches over his wife's grave. He holds a laurel wreath in his other hand.
Many politicians are buried here like Leslie Corrie, who had been a mayor of Brisbane, and Frank Forde who had been Prime Minister of Australia. A controversial grave is said to be the final resting place of Walter Thomas Porriott whom Queensland historians Jack Sim and Paul Tully believe may have been Jack the Ripper. He was a convicted killer and known to be a man of a thousand identities and he was in the Whitechapel area of London during the murders. You can find it under a tombstone that reads "Bessie - Died 25th June 1957 - And her Husband," which is located at Portion 7A, Section 185, Grave Number 9/10.
Karl Kast was a German immigrant who took 12 homemade pipe bombs and a gun with him to Wickham House where he killed a doctor, wounded two others and ignited three bombs in the foyer. He went 100 meters to Ballow Chambers and killed another doctor, tried to kidnap another one and then locked himself in an office where he shot himself and lit another bomb. He died in the hospital later and was buried in Toowong Cemetery. His motive for the rampage was that he had been injured in an accident and he went around to doctors looking for someone to relieve his pain and get him on a lifelong pension. Doctors couldn't find anything wrong with him and said it was all in his mind. Apparently, he decided to make the doctors pay for challenging his story.
There are historical tours offered and ghost tours are available on Fridays and Saturdays. One of the most beautiful memorials is for the Mayne Family. This crypt of the famous Mayne family includes the patriarch and matriarch of the family and all but one of their six children, all of whom did not marry. The Maynes were philanthropists and benefactors to the University of Queensland. The tomb is ornate with with lots of carved design elements and it is surrounded by white wrought iron. The crypt is said to be haunted with people claiming to hear sounds coming from inside of it that sound like something is being thrown around inside and angry voices arguing. A crimson liquid has been seen leaking from the bottom of the crypt before. There is a story that claims that Patrick Mayne had been a violent man and he once killed someone ans dismembered them that person, but that another person was charged with the crime. On his deathbed, Mayne confessed to the crime and the curse that was upon him passed onto his children, which is why they never married or had children. They didn't want to pass on the curse.
There is supposedly a spook hill inside the cemetery. This is a hill that Avenue 12 extends over and if you put your car in neutral, it will get pushed backwards up the hill. The cause is thought to be the spirits of two sisters killed in a car accident who are buried at the top of the hill. This isn't the only legend connected to the spook hill. Supposedly a vampire is seen at the bottom of the hill. The story with this one dates back to the turn-of-the-century and it claims that a woman’s grave was exhumed after she had been buried for 20 years so that they could figure out what she had died from and the body was discovered to be in perfect condition and her teeth had elongated fangs. The coffin had not been nailed shut and the dirt above it had seemed loose. After this, reports started of a woman dressed in 19th-century garb with long dark hair being seen at the bottom of the hill. Jack Sim tells a story about an elderly lady who visited the cemetery with a friend because she wanted to place flowers on the grave of a friend. They saw an attractive young lady with long hair, so they smiled at her. When she smiled back, she revealed a double row of sharp, pointed teeth. The women were scared by this and hurried to their car. When they got to the front gate, the same young woman was there and there was no way she could have beaten them to the gate. The woman stepped aside and let them leave.
A rite of passage in the cemetery used to be connected to the memorial of boxing legend Peter Jackson or Peter the Great who fought twenty-eight of the best men in England and America and lost to none. In the 1950s, young men would challenge each other to go into the cemetery and stand in front of the memorial. Then there would be the sound of a bell ringing and Jackson would appear wearing his boxing gloves. Probably even more than being a legend, it probably was older boys scaring the younger boys by ringing a bell off in the woods. I'm not sure why the boys would see the boxing great because he doesn't have a statue at the gravesite. It's a thick cube-shaped obelisk that stands eight feet with a lion atop it and a bust of Jackson on the side. Stories of ghost sightings go back to World War II. There are claims of a strange entity hissing at people that has been nicknamed The Angel of Death. Jack Sim claims to have seen the entity ten times in eight years. A guy was on the tour when it made an appearance and he declared it a fake and ran over to where the figure was to prove the tour had staged this event. He came running back full bore and declared that it was floating and had no feet. A woman in black mourning clothes from the early 1900s is seen in the cemetery near the woods, walking among the tombstones and if anyone gets too close, she disappears into the woods.
Historic cemeteries not only fall victim to vandals, but they are also surrounded by legends. It's hard to pick through what may be true. Many of these cemeteries have legends that seem to be just that. But there are some ghost stories that could be true as well. Are any of these cemeteries haunted? That is for you to decide!