Thursday, December 3, 2020

HGB Ep. 362 - 1837 Bed & Breakfast and the Old Jail

Moment in Oddity - Spider Webs as Bandages (Suggested by: Scott Booker)

Many of you listeners are probably afraid of spiders. So the idea of a spider web bandage might not be appealing. But the truth is that they make a great natural way to protect and heal wounds. The idea of using spider webs for bandages started in ancient Greece and Rome. They would first clean the wounds with honey and vinegar and then ball up spider webs to cover the wounds. THis would dry out the wound quickly. Spider webs were perfect for a number of reasons. They are rich in Vitamin K, which promotes clotting, they have natural antiseptic and anti-fungal properties as well. On top of this, the webs are very strong since they are made from silk produced from the body proteins of the spider. If you would like to give this a whirl, you need to find a newly spun web with no insect corpses in it and no spider as well. Ball up the web and stuff it into your wound and cover with a sterile cloth to secure it. You can use warm water to remove the hardened web later. A team at the University of Nottingham developed a synthetic material that resemebles spider silk. It took five years. This spider silk is also not allergenic or inflammatory. But you have to admit the thought of using spider web as a bandage, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Berlin Wall Comes Down

In the month of November, on the 9th, in 1989, the Berlin Wall came down. Yes, it pains us too to realize that this event happened thirty years we are getting old! Many of you listeners probably remember this time, which really wasn't so long ago, that the country of Germany was split in two with East and West Germany being separated by an actual stone wall with barbed wire. Construction of the wall began in August of 1961. East Germany was headed by Communists and they wanted to keep what they referred to as "fascists" from coming into East Germany and undermining their socialist state. What it actually did was imprison the people of East Germany, many of whom tried to escape. The East German Communist Party announced on November 9, 1989 that their citizens could cross the border whenever they wanted and that evening, a newly freed people did what President Ronald Reagan told the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, to do, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" People hammered and picked at the wall, breaking off chunks. Bulldozers and cranes moved in and took care of the rest. What followed was the greatest street party in history as 2 million people went from East Berlin to West Berlin. A Berliner spray painted on the wall, "Only today is the war really over."

1837 Bed and Breakfast

The 1837 Bed and Breakfast in Charleston, South Carolina is the former home of a cotton planter. The style of the home is a great example of the Charleston Single home. Although this was not a plantation, it still had slaves that lived on the third level and there are stories that claim that a mother and father were sold off to another planter, leaving their nine-year-old son without his parents. He may have tried desperately to find them and ultimately lost his life. Ghost stories claim that he is still here at the house, acting like a poltergeist pulling pranks on visitors and perhaps even appearing as footsteps on the bed spread. While in Charleston, we couldn't pass up the chance to visit the Old Charleston Jail. This was Diane's second visit and Kelly's first, and we got to do an investigation there! Join us as we share the history and investigation at the 1837 Bed and Breakfast and the Old Charleston Jail!

The neighborhood where the bed and breakfast is located was developed in the 1840’s and was called Harleston Village because the original owners of the land were the Harleston family. This was a family that had been in Charelston a long time. A golf course had been on the land too called Harleston Green. The 1837 Bed and Breakfast was thought to have been built in 1837, but after a visit from some descendants of the original owners, it was discovered that the house was built in 1798. Of course, they didn't change the name because that would be marketing suicide. The builder of the house was Henry Mockenfuss, a German immigrant who built many properties in the area. The house was built in the Federal-style and as a single house, which was popular in Charleston. The standard Charleston single house was built with a narrow side that ran two- or three-bays wide with a gable end along the street and then a longer side that was perpendicular to the street and running five-bays. The design worked well here because the main part of Charleston was laid out with long, narrow lots. Single houses all had the same basic layout inside with the house being one room wide inside. There would be two rooms on each floor with each floor designed the same way. There would be one room to the side and one to the rear of the house. Many of the houses had multiple porches, or what they call piazzas, in Charleston.

The next owner of the house was thought to be Martin Hurlbert, a schoolmaster. He sold it in 1818 for $3,000 to Nicholas Cobia, a cotton planter. In 1842, Nicholas’s wife, Ann, leased the house to Miss Margaret Cobia along with two slaves known as “Mary” and “Nancy.” Eventually Ann's nephew, Henry Cobia, inherited the house along with a slave named “Fanny” and her six children. In the early 1900s, the former mayor of Charleston, William Schirmir, owned the house and he converted it into a boarding house, connecting the carriage and kitchen house to the main house and adding a rear third story. During World War II, the house served as an apartment building for ship builders at the Navy Yard. In 1956, the house was turned into a beauty shop on the first floor and probably rented rooms above. In 1983, Sherri Weaver and Richard Dunn bought the house and converted it into the bed and breakfast it is today. The bed and breakfast has its dining room, kitchen, and parlor on the first floor of the main house. There are three guest rooms on each of the second and third floors. And there are rooms in the carriage house with two on the bottom and one on the second floor. We stayed in one of the first floor rooms in the carriage house. We were greeted by Mohamad who owns the inn with his wife Lynn. (1837 Inn Welcome) 

The house is beautiful and very welcoming inside with the kitchen and dining room being an open concept design. The formal parlor of the main house contains many of the original design elements like the red cypress cornice, wainscoting, and the black marble fireplace. During renovations the cypress was stripped from a scaffold with heat gun, sanded and oiled with tung oil. The front door opened into a small entry way that has the narrow stairs leading up to the other levels. The medallion on the ceiling in the entry hall is original and it took four days to clear the old paint away with a dental tool during renovations. Portions of the plaster cornice had been cut years ago to put in a partition and had to be replaced and rebuilt with plaster.  The plaster is original and has been mixed with horsehair as we have discussed in other episodes. The wood floors are made from wide planks of heart of pine. The house boasts that these planks are amongst the widest in the city with one in the dining room measuring 14 inches wide. Mohamad gave us a little tour outside as he took us to our room. (1837 Tour)

We settled in a bit and then decided we would try to get some communicating going with any spirits at the house. The ghost stories about this bed and breakfast seem to center around just one ghost and he is known by the name George. The backstory for George is not verified, nor does anyone know if any part of the legends are true, but here is what people claim is the story about George. George's parents worked inside the house and they lived on the third floor. George worked out in the stables and ran errands. He had time to play, so life didn't seem so bad for him taking into account that a nine-year-old boy didn't know anything other than slavery. For some reason, the cotton planter decided to sell off George's parents and keep George. One can imagine how upsetting this was and there are two versions of how George reacted. In the the first, George hears that his parents are aboard a slave ship in Charleston Harbor. He leaves the house and manages to find an empty row boat and starts rowing towards the ship. In the process, he falls out of the boat and drowns. In the other version, George runs away and is eventually captured and thrown into the barracoon in the heart of Charleston. A barracoon was a barracks like building for housing slaves. While he was in there, he could have gotten sick and died or his owner might have retrieved him and he lived a very short life back at the house. Whatever happened, people are pretty sure that a nine-year-old boy is running around the bed and breakfast in the afterlife. 

Guests have heard the incessant rocking of a rocking chair outside their rooms that only stops when someone shouts, "Stop that rocking, George!" No one has seen George, but they hear his footsteps. He likes to shake guests beds and he opens and closes doors. He turns the TVs on by themselves too. There are other noises that might be caused by something else and this usually entails hearing the crack of a whip. Chandeliers tend to sway on their own too. Most of the activity is said to occur on the third floor. We feel like we did get some kind of communication with a spirit. (1837 Investigation 1) Okay, right there I thought I heard a whisper, I'll replay the original section (1837 Whisper) and now here it is amplified (1837 Whisper Amplified) We think we hear a breath and then "I'm so mad." It makes sense because we were dancing around asking about his parents. We continued with trying to communicate and I did a Facebook Live and while I was outside showing the Bed and Breakfast, Kelly got a little emotional talking to who we thought was George. The communication really seemed to break down over that. (1837 Investigation 2)

The next morning we went to breakfast, which was delicious and very filling! (1837 Breakfast)

So you heard on that exchange that we had the opportunity to investigate the old jail. This was up in the air as it has been for Bull Dog Tours and the jail for a couple of years. Listeners might recall that Diane visited with a couple of listeners two years ago because we thought it would be closing. Our listener Myra has joined us on investigations at the St. Augustine Lighthouse and the Exchange Hotel and she contacted me a couple days before the trip to say we could get in to the jail. Joy met us there and we were joined by another young couple who had never been to the jail or investigated before. We cannot remember their names, but the male was a police office who also was a person of color and he had a couple of experiences that unnerved him a bit with feeling very dizzy and a little ill on a stairway. There was a set of stairs that seemed to affect Myra and Kelly too. As Diane told Mohamad and Lynn, she didn't experience anything that she would equate to a haunting. This was her second time there with nothing unusual happening, so for her personally, she can't say the jail is haunted.

Joy was a wonderful guide! She shared experience stories and took us into every area of the jail, even some places she disliked going. One of these was a room where Mike Brown of Pleasing Terrors used a Ouija Board. We got to see what the warden's living area was like. He was here with his wife and children and they sometimes had boarders too. All of this 12 inches away from Death Row. The place smelled so bad you could smell the scent blocks away. Imagine living there! (Charleston Jail Joy) So you heard that we all felt an unusually cold spot. That was it for Diane feeling anything in the building.The tour continued and we have a few of the highlights here. (Charleston Jail Joy 2)

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