Thursday, November 5, 2020

HGB Ep. 359 - Zalud House

Moment in Oddity - Alice Blunden Buried Alive Twice (Suggested by: John Michaels)

Poppy Tea, or what was once called poppy water, was used as an analgesic, anti-diarrheal and it had sedative effects as it was basically a narcotic. Alice Blunden had the misfortune of consuming too much of this poppy water in 1674 at her local pub. She immediately collapsed into a deep sleep. Or was it a deep sleep? Her family summoned a doctor and he surmised she was dead when he put a mirror under her nose and no steam was blown onto the mirror. Alice's husband was a wealthy merchant and he was away at the time of her death. When he heard about her demise, he requested that the family wait for his return before holding the funeral. The doctor thought this was a horrible idea and so the family decided it would be best to bury her quickly. This was done at the Holy Ghost Cemetery. The cemetery was park-like and shortly after the funeral, a couple of boys were playing there when they heard ghastly sounds coming from a fresh grave. They ran to report this to their headmaster and he had them punished for making up stories. The man must have had second thoughts though because he went to check out the grave the next day. It had now been three days for Alice in the grave, but she was still making some weakened noises. The townspeople quickly dug her back up and found her covered in bruises and blood from her attempts to free herself from the grave. She had exhausted herself so much that the people thought that she was now dead for sure. We're not sure a doctor would have decided something different based on the record here. Mrs. Blunden was re-interred and a guard was posted, but he left in the middle of the night to do some drinking. The following morning, Alice was dug up again just to ensure that she was indeed dead and now her face and hands were clawed heavily as she had attacked herself finding that she was still in the grave. And now she really was dead. Her husband brought suit, but nothing came of it. A blue plaque at the Holy Ghost Cemetery now memorializes a story that certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Will Rogers Born

In the month of November, on the 4th, in 1879, American humorist Will Rogers was born in the Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory, which would eventually become Oklahoma. Rogers himself was 1/8th Cherokee. He got his start in entertainment as a trick roper in Wild West Shows. Then he moved onto Vaudeville where his true fame would start and he eventually ended up with Ziegfeld Follies. At this time he started incorporating some ad lib humor, which developed into his satire that he is most known for. Rogers would go on to act in twenty-one movies and write newspaper columns. His voice became well known as he appeared on the radio many times and he was easily recognized for his customary cowboy hat that he wore pushed back on his head. Rogers traveled back and forth across the United States doing lectures and he traveled to many countries. He said, "When I die, my epitaph, or whatever you call those signs on gravestones, is going to read: 'I joked about every prominent man of my time, but I never met a man I didn't like.' I am so proud of that, I can hardly wait to die so it can be carved." Unfortunately, his death would come at just fifty-five in 1935 when the airplane he was flying in with aviator Wiley Post crashed near Point Barrow, Alaska.

Zalud House (Suggested by: Anna Frias)

The Zalud House in Porterville, California is like a time capsule glimpse into the life of a family. A family who suffered much tragedy in the house. This home is unique in that the Zalud Family were the only family to live in this mansion and it is furnished with their belongings. Several family members died here and it seems to have trapped their spirits. Paranormal tours are offered and Ghost Adventures has investigated the house. Some of the activity is fairly mundane, but there also is a darkness here that seems to be connected to a chair. Join us as we share the history and haunts of the Zalud House!

Porterville, California is a small town. The Butterfield Overland Stage Line established a stage stop at Goodhue’s Crossing near the Tule River in 1858, which would eventually become the City of Porterville. The city was named after Porter Putnam who founded it when he decided to start a ranch there. Porter described his journey to this spot in his jouranl, "Country damned rough. Weather very cold. Stage riding is disagreeable. Plenty of whiskey aboard, a jolly set." The Tule River was very important to the development of the town and to immigrants who passed through. Where the river is today is very different than where it was in 1861. A heavy rain came through for weeks and the entire valley was flooded. This caused the Tule River to permanently change its course and moved a mile south of its original river bed. That river bed still exists today. Porter came up with a unique idea to grow his nee town. He offered free lots to anybody willing to start a business. Porterville soon was known as wild saloon town. By the 1910s, Porterville was a city that was becoming very prosperous and growing quickly. Southern Pacific Railroad had laid down a line that passed right into Porterville at this time. Some of the prosperity for the city came from the fact that magnesia was in the hills surrounding the city. This rare mineral was used for the lining of furnaces and making paper.

John Zalud built the Zalud Home for his wife, Mary, and three children, Pearle, Annie and Edward, in 1891, which is located on North Hockett Street and Morton Avenue. The Zalud Family had immigrated from Bohemia, which is today the Czech Republic, and John started off with a restaurant called Delmonico Restaurant in the town of Tulare. This was half restaurant, half saloon. It thrived while the railroad had a yard in that town, but when it moved, business slowed and he decided to move. John opened the John Zalud Saloon, which had gambling in a back room. He joined in on some of the high-stakes card games and became wealthy, which is how he had money for building the home. The architectural style is Baroque French with a mansard roof and it was built from red brick. This wasn't the first home the Zalud's built in Porterville, but Mary refused to live in the southeast area where they built, so John had this new home built. The house looks to be fairly small and has only four bedrooms.

Pearle Zalud was the last family member to live in the house and she spent the last decade of her life in the house and when she died in 1970, she donated the house and grounds to the city of Porterville. It took some time for Pearle's wishes to be honored because a man named Joe Witt, his brother Marcus Witt Jr. and Marcus' son Marcus Witt III claimed that Pearle had willed the property to them. Joe claimed that he had befriended Pearle and she had grown so fond of him that she changed her will, so that he would get the Zalud House. The version of the will he presented was ruled a fraud and in 1973, the three men were arrested and convicted on fraud and forgery charges. Pearle had requested that the home be converted into a museum and that is exactly what happened. The museum opened on May 2, 1977. A friend of her's who was a longtime resident, Albert Konda, said of Pearle, "She was a very bright lady with a great sense of humor, but she was never a social butterfly around town. She had a few quality friendships and never saw a need for much more than that."

The house not only has a wonderful collection of antiques, but there was also donated one of the largest collections of clothing from the 1890s to the mid-1950s. One piece was a silk-ribbon dress that still had the tags on it indicating that it cost $450. Some of the furnishings and art work hail from the Orient. Annie and Pearle were creators. Annie was a painter and some of her work is on the walls. Pearle did needlework and the pillows and chairs in the house are upholstered with her designs. There are brochures in the house that are a testament to the sisters taking two trips around the world.  

Tragedy would hound this family. Mary Jane Zalud developed tuberculosis and in 1912, she succumbed to the disease. In 1917, William Brooke was married to Annie Zalud so he was John Zalud's son-in-law and he was at the Pioneer Hotel on this particular day, sitting in the lobby. He was confronted by a woman named Julia Howe. Brooke had been making disparaging comments about her and she was very angry. It is thought that he liked Julia and had started rumors that they were having an affair. And even further, that she was a loose woman. Julia had a nervous breakdown and got herself a gun that some thought she was going to use to commit suicide. Instead she used it when she confronted Brooke. She shot him four times and one of the bullets pierced through his back and went through the rocking chair he was sitting in. The chair made its way to the museum. The really crazy part of this story is that the newspaper reported that Julia Howe claimed that her subconscious mind directed what she had done. Her subconscious mind directed the fatal shot without her bidding. So basically her defense was that she had been possessed when she murdered Brooke. The court ruled that it was justifiable homicide. There are many stories of cursed chairs, so if that is what is going on with this chair, it is not unique. 

Edward would be the next family member to die and this occurred in 1922. The official story is that he was out riding a horse and got kicked in the head by the horse. However, there are some who claim that he was rustling cattle and a posse of local vigilantes killed him. Edward is thought to have been a guy who got himself into a lot of trouble. He ran liquor to local tribes, which was illegal at the time. The saddle that Edward was riding in when he died is on display in the house. This blow caused Pearle and her father John to leave the home and move to Los Angeles where Annie had moved after her husband William Brooke had been killed. They stayed there until John died in 1944. Pearle moved back to the house in 1962 and as we said, she died in 1970. On the upper floor is a spirit that is believed to be the malevolent energy in the house. Could that be why Pearle lived only in the downstairs portion of the house? She was older, so managing stairs could have been difficult, but Pearle actually believed her family members were haunting the house. It also would seem that Pearle herself haunts the house.

Ghost Adventures visited the museum for Season 13, Episode 10. Heather Huerta is the curator of the house and she co-founded Paranormal Movement Investigations, which has investigated the house since 2008 and host ghost tours in the house. She guided the Ghost Adventures crew and while the crew was interviewing her, Aaron accidentally hit a window shade, the kind that rolls up, and he broke it. This seemed to anger two of the family spirits, John and Pearl. At least that was according to a paranormal investigator in the house named Benny who is a sensitive. He had Zac sit in the haunted chair while holding William Brooke' cane. Zac claimed to feel back pains and that he was having trouble breathing. The spirit box said, "Need help," but it sounded a lot like Zac's voice on the replay so we aren't sure about that. One of many problems with Zac and the crew is that they focus on one thing and it makes many of their conclusions seem false. They don't give a full investigation of a site. All of the stuff in this house belonged to the family and several pieces are connected to tragedies, so imagine the energy that could be attached.

The crew then interviewed a paranormal investigator named Scott Gruenwald who had suggested the location to Zac. He had sat in the chair on a previous visit and he claimed to feel a pain in his shoulder that was like a pencil slowly being shoved into his shoulder. At first he thought he might be having a heart attack because he is middle-aged and when he breathed it got worse. Before Zac and the crew started their official investigation, Aaron started feeling really bad. He said that he felt as though he were going to pass out when he was sitting in front of one of the monitors. He looked at his FitBit and his heart rate was 141 bpm while sitting. Something was definitely affecting him and Zac decided that he should not be part of the investigation to protect his well being. Actually, that was not the case - lol! Zac sent him in all by himself since something as affecting him. Aaron did feel as though something electrical had passed through him before his heart rate went up. All the guys took turns sitting in the murder chair and each one claimed to have weird feelings and anxiety attacks. An SLS camera picked up an anomaly near the chair that Zac thought was a creature, but we felt it as the size of a child and it is possible that there could be some kind of child energy in the house. There were some interesting words on the Ovulus as well. Zac and the guys may have gotten some evidence or maybe not. The curator seemed to indicate in an article that they Hollywoodized  everything.

We found another interesting legend out of Porterville. Jason Offut wrote on the Mysterious Universe website about this legend featuring a gnome in Porterville, "When Tammy moved herself and her three children to the country house by the Tule River near Porterville, California, she didn’t know something wicked waited for them. 'We always got the feeling of being watched,' Tammy said. One spot on the farm especially put her on edge, the barn. The family animals, dogs, a cat, turkeys, chickens, and ducks avoided that rickety, dark building. 'We had had a lot more chickens and ducks but they had started disappearing,' Tammy said. 'I also noticed that none of the neighbor’s animals, or stray animals for that matter, would go anywhere near that barn. It was without a doubt just creepy.' She soon discovered why. 'One evening my son, who was seven years old at the time, and I had just come back from grocery shopping,' Tammy said. 'We parked and got out of the car and as I was opening up the back to get the groceries out I noticed a movement out of the corner of my right eye.' As she lifted a grocery sack from the car, she saw the movement again. 'This time I heard a very freaky, very evil-sounding chuckle,' she said. 'I looked in the direction of the sound and there standing about 50 yards from my son and I was what I can only describe as a gnome.' The creature, about two to three feet tall, wore baggy black pants, and a gold-colored shirt. A salt and pepper beard ran from beneath a red, pointed hat. 'That thing grinned at us and the creepy grin spread from ear to ear and its teeth were a gross brown and pointed or jagged,' she said. 'It had a bulbous nose and large, deep-set eyes.'

She dropped the groceries, and grabbed her son, the wicked little man cackling after her as she ran to the house. Tammy burst inside through the kitchen and slammed the door. As she tried to tell her daughters about her panic, something moved outside the kitchen window. She looked, and saw the top of the thing’s red, pointed hat. It had to be about ten feet off the ground. The thing eventually disappeared from the window and Tammy retrieved the groceries from the car. She never saw it again, but until the day she moved, she heard the gnome’s creepy chuckle coming from the old barn. Although Tammy’s family had gone, the gnome wasn’t finished terrorizing whoever lived in that house. Charlie, her husband, their two-year-old twin girls and two golden Labrador retrievers moved into the two-story house by the river in March 2010. 'The house was perfect for us,' she said. 'Exactly what we were looking for, and we couldn’t wait to move in. There are three bedrooms, a huge kitchen, dining room and living room and lots of windows all around it.' The deck that opened off the back door overlooked the woods and the nearby Tule River. A deck in the front overlooked a pond. Charlie placed fairy, gnome, and toadstool yard ornaments around the pond, and stocked it with Japanese koi fish to make it feel more like their home. That feeling wouldn’t last.

One day, while walking back from the river to the house with her daughters and their dogs, the dogs became riled. As they approached a rickety outbuilding Charlie called “the shack,' the dogs began to snarl and bark, the hair in their backs standing up. 'Something told me to run so I grabbed a twin under each arm and ran for home,' she said. 'Something about that shack gave me the creeps, especially at night, but I don’t know why.' She began to notice none of the animals, not even wildlife or stray cats, would go near the shack, until the day she heard the fight coming from inside. 'It sounded like a cat was in a fight with something way bigger than it was,' she said. Her husband grabbed a flashlight and ran to the shed. 'Just as he got to the door the noise stopped,' she said. 'He went in and looked around with the flashlight. There was a cat. It was totally skinned on one side and its neck looked as though some thing had taken a huge chunk out of it.' He stepped outside the shack to catch his breath, and when he looked back in the cat was gone. 'There was no way that cat moved by itself,' she said. 'We were standing right there. Where did the cat go?' They discovered the cat was the least of their worries. One night around 3 a.m., a raspy, gurgling singing woke Charlie and her husband from sleep. 'It was without a doubt the most hideous sound I have ever heard,' she said. 'It freaked us out.' Charlie and her husband looked out their bedroom window and saw something that challenged their sanity. 'Standing by my pond holding one of my garden gnomes was what I can only describe as something out of a Grimm’s fairy tale,” she said. 'The thing that was standing in our yard was hideous and grotesque.'

A human-like creature stood under the bright light of the motion detector. It was two to three feet tall, with a long gray beard, maroon pants, baggy yellow shirt, brown vest, a dark waistcoat, and a reddish brown pointed hat. 'The thing that made this creature really hideous was its eyes and teeth,' she said. 'It looked like it was grinning and its teeth were jagged and pointed. The eyes were little beady and dark and mean.” As the creature stared at Charlie and her husband, it reached into the pond and grabbed a koi, dropped the fish into its mouth and swallowed. Charlie’s husband pushed the window open a few inches and screamed at the creature, telling it to leave their yard or he’d call the police. The gnome grinned, laughed, and gave them the finger. They told the police they’d had an intruder, but the officers looking around their yard at 4 a.m. found only shoeprints the size of a small child. The gnome came back night after night, holding a yard ornament and eating their fish. They eventually moved the ornaments and put the fish into a tank in the house. They instantly realized they’d made a mistake. 'One night after we had removed the fairies and gnomes and fish from the yard the creature showed up at the usual time, 3 a.m.,' she said. 'When it found that the yard ornaments were gone and the fish were gone it went crazy. It was yelling and screaming something that we couldn’t understand, but we did understand that this thing was pissed and wanted us to know it.' The gnome ran around the house, screaming and gurgling. Then Charlie realized the dog door was unlocked. 'It was big enough for our dogs to go through and it would be big enough for that creature to go through as well,' she said. 'I took off running down to the kitchen and as I got there the dogs had started barking like crazy at the doggy door.'

She shut and secured the dog door, then ran upstairs to shut the windows. 'A fear hit me like nothing I had ever felt and I ran back up to the twins’ bedroom where they were both sound asleep in their cribs,' she said. Neither parent slept that night; they decided to leave the farm at Porterville. 'The last we heard of that creature was a very loud screeching, cackling sound,' she said. “It was under one of the living room windows and when my husband went to check it out he saw the top of that creature’s hat under the window. Right then we decided that we were out of there. We couldn’t stay there with that creature.' Did Tammy and Charlie live in the same house? I wanted to know, so I told Charlie about Tammy’s experience. 'The description of that barn and everything else sounds just like it, and the Tule River runs behind the house,' Charlie said.

Her experience was too terrifying for her not to find out. 'It’s too creepy to think that there are more of those creatures,' she said. 'I would like to speak to those other people and find out if we were in the same house or close to it.' I put Charlie in contact with Tammy. 'Charlie sent me an email and she described the house that she lived in,' Tammy said. 'She started naming some of the side streets and then I knew it was the same house or really close to it.” The women eventually met and drove to the property. 'It definitely was the same place,' Tammy said. As Tammy stood, looking at the house where a three-foot tall man with pointed teeth, and evil cackle had laughed at her, she saw someone had torn down the barn. 'Even with that shack gone the whole place still had an eerie feel to it and I don’t know if that is because of what we dealt with while living there or just the place itself,” Charlie said. 'I don’t think I’ll be going back there again.' Before they left, the women approached their old house and knocked on the door. The current resident did not want them there. 'She was just hateful and when we tried to ask her about the barn she pretty much told us to get lost and not in those nice words,' Tammy said. Charlie was equally taken aback. 'We tried to ask about the shack and if she had ever experienced anything while it was there but she didn’t want to talk to us,' Charlie said. 'In fact, she told us to leave the property. She didn’t have to tell me twice. I was happy to get away from there.'" 

So is this story of a little gnome the real deal? Are members of the Zalud Family haunting their former home? That is for you to decide!

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