Thursday, June 17, 2021

Ep. 389 - Haunted Cemeteries 19

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Moment in Oddity - Outlaw Robert Clay Allison Killed in Freak Accident

Robert Clay Allison is buried at West of Pecos Museum, which is also known as the Robert Clay Allison Burial Site. He was an American Western Frontier Outlaw who had a real penchant for shooting people. He once remarked, "I never killed a man that did not need killing." Needless to say, he had some personality problems and was quickly discharged from the Confederate Army shortly after joining up during the Civil War for that reason. He went on to be a trail boss and met up with a desperado who had a grudge against him named "Chunk" Colbert. The two men spent a day carousing and drinking, but things went south at dinner when Colbert reached for Allison's gun. Allison quickly shot Colbert. He was asked by someone why he would sit down to dinner with a man who had a grudge against him and he said, "I didn't want to send him to hell on an empty stomach." Allison was at Cimarron's St. James Hotel in 1875 when he got in a gunfight and killed Francisco "Pancho" Griego. He and his brother John were drinking and gambling at a saloon in Las Animas, Colorado when Constable Charles Faber came along with a shotgun. The Constable wounded John before Allison killed him. Then he changed his ways. In 1880, he moved to a ranch, married and had two daughters. One would expect that an outlaw would die in a blaze of glory, but Allison died in a freak accident. He was going for supplies and a grain sack started sliding from the wagon. As he reached for the sack, he fell from the wagon and the wheel ran over his neck, killing him and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Frances Pizarro Comes To A Bloody End

In the month of June, on the 26th, in 1541, Frances Pizarro meets a bloody end. Pizarro had been a Spanish conquistador and he conquered modern-day Peru and brought down the Incas. He had a rival conquistador who challenged him when he was governor of New Castile that would become Peru. He had that conquistador executed. That man's son wanted revenge and he would have it. His name was Diego de Almagro. Pizarro was eating dinner at his palace in Lima when Diego and several of his men busted in. Pizarro grabbed a sword from the wall and defended himself successfully against three men before Almagro’s men stabbed him in the throat. Before he died, Pizarro shouted, “Jesus!” and drew a cross on the ground with his own blood and then he kissed it. He had been one of the most ruthless conquistadors. He was buried in Lima Cathedral. In 1977, his burial box was opened and forensic scientists found that the skull was broken by numerous violent blows, so apparently he got more than just stabbed, which seemed fitting for such a violent man.

Haunted Cemeteries 19

We all love cemeteries around here. These are places of beauty and memorial, even the ones that have become overgrown and neglected. Headstones contain valuable information that can reveal the ethnicity, the demography or even the epidemiology of an area. Also, the feelings that people had at certain times or in certain places about religion and death. On this episode, we are not only going to talk about several haunted cemeteries: Cemetery Memorial Park in California, Oakland and Greenwood Cemeteries in Florida, Rosehill Cemetery in California and Mound City and Springdale Cemeteries in Illinois, but also some of the difficult issues with cemeteries: desecration and the burial of blacks. These kinds of issues can lead to unrest. Join us for Haunted Cemeteries 19!

Cemetery Memorial Park (Suggested by: Leo)

Brandon Alvis is one of the paranormal investigators on the new version of the Ghost Hunters. He released a documentary on Cemetery Memorial Park in Ventura, California in 2019, which was shown at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Check out the trailer on his website: https://www.brandonjalvis.com/ We have talked about the desecration of cemeteries many times on this podcast and specifically how that can lead to hauntings. The story here is horrible. Beneath this park are buried hundreds of bodies. They were never moved. Their headstones and memorials were lifted off of plots and dumped into a canyon in 1964. This had been St. Mary's Cemetery and one man's dedication for fourteen years, brought to light the desecration propagated by the city council. 

On October 3, 1862, a parcel of land measuring 3.69 acres was purchased from George S. Wright, Henry Webb, Edmund L. Gould and Daniel Waterman. This was then deeded to the Right Reverend Thaddeus Amat, Bishop of the Diocese of Monterey-Los Angeles, "for the use and purpose of a Catholic Burying Ground" at San Buenaventura. In 1889, the city took over control of the non-Catholic portion of the cemetery. Internments stopped in May of 1944. In August of 1949, the Planning Commission recommended razing the tombstones and building houses on the property. The plan was rejected. The next plan would come in 1963 with Ventura City Manager Charles Reiman getting the go-ahead from the City Council to build a memorial park. Curbs, slabs, vaults, headstones and bases were to be removed. It was suggested that small brass markers be set flush with the ground to mark the burials. We're not completely sure what happened, but the cemetery was demolished. Some families collected slabs, other slabs were used in construction, added to abstract art sculptures and ground into fill. Headstones were removed by the end of summer in 1966 with the entire project ending in 1969. The push to restore the cemetery continues today.

The people buried here were Native American, ranchers, cowboys, pioneers and veterans. Some of those veterans were war heroes, even recieving the Medal of Honor. Now they lie below the dirt, unidentified, where dogs defecate and urinate and the homeless and others leave their trash. The Ayala Family was buried here. Rita Davis Ayala was a pioneer of the city. Her husband José Ramón de los Santos Ayala was a veteran of the Civil War, enlisting with the California Volunteers and he had an honored place in the ranks of the Grand Army of the Republic. Their son Alphonso preceded them in death at the age of 27. Many of the buried here served with Company C, 1st Battalion Native Cavalry. Members of the Hobson Family were buried here. They had a successful cattle business, Hobson Brothers Packing Company, and many butcher shops in downtown Ventura, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. One of the brothers, Abram, was considered a consummate horseman in the Vaquero tradition. In 1893, William Vandever was buried here. He served as a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War and became a United States Representative from California and Iowa. There was James Sumner who was buried here in 1912. He had been a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the Medal of Honor. In 1990, the American Legion Post 339 placed markers over the graves of Private James Sumner and Brevet Major General William Vandever.

There had been 3800 people buried here and many of them still remain with only a few of the final resting places marked, which may be why there are rumors of ghosts here. These include headless figures and pirate ghosts. A local legend is connected to a young man who unfortunately hanged himself from a tree in the park and people claim to sometimes see his ghostly body swinging from the tree on foggy nights. People who live near the park claim to see apparitions in the street as though they are wandering around looking for their graves or tombstones or something.

Oakland and Greenwood Cemeteries in Tallahassee

The historic Oakland Cemetery is located near the corner of Brevard and North Bronough Streets in Tallahassee, Florida at 838 N. Bronough Street. This cemetery was established in 1902 and at the time, blacks and whites were buried in separate sections. It took on the name "the old cemetery," even though there was an Old City Cemetery. In 1936, another cemetery was established in the city, solely for the burial of people of color, and that would be Evergreen Cemetery. Commissioners voted that any remaining plots set aside for blacks at Oakland would be taken back by the city and resold. There was a big problem though. The black citizens were having none of this because of the land upon which Evergreen was supposed to be founded. This was, of course, the undesirable, low-lying ground in town. Completely unsuitable for burial. 

The Tallahassee Daily Democrat wrote, "The vexing problem of burial lots for negroes and cemetery regulations, including titles to cemetery lots, is before the city commission again... the commission directed its attorney, James Messer, Jr., to draft an ordinance for early adoption that will regulate the depth of all graves to be dug in the four cemeteries inside the corporate limits. Officials admitted the new law will have a definite bearing on further use by negroes of one of their burial grounds in the city. Recently a new negro cemetery was opened, but members of that race have vigorously protested and so far are said to be almost unanimously opposed to its use as a burial ground." Despite these objections, the commission voted in February of 1937 to close the cemetery to blacks. 

J.R.D. Laster was a well-known black undertaker in town and his name comes up over and over as he fought against the commission. He organized the black community and they founded the Greenwood Cemetery Company so they could buy their own land for burial. Evergreen Cemetery would never come to fruition. The company purchased ten acres of land, in an area lying East of Old Bainbridge Road. The land was purchased from Erma L. Jenkins, who was one of the company's founders. They paid $10 and Greenwood Cemetery was officially established in 1937. Burials began soon after that and the cemetery is today 12.4 acres. Unfortunately through the years, neglect took over the cemetery as families passed or left the city. The understanding was that families would care for their plots. Once all the founding members died, only the undertaker's daughter was left to care for the cemetery. In 1985, clean-up efforts began as the city took over restoration of the deteriorated cemetery. Greenwood Cemetery was officially re-dedicated in October of 1987.

Greenwood Cemetery's grave markers reveal the social structure of Tallahassee's black community over a fifty-year period. There are simple markers, there are big commercially designed stones and there are homemade markers. What makes this graveyard unique among the Tallahassee cemeteries are the Afro-American folk art and traditions infused here. Many of these traditions come from West and Central Africa. Concrete headstones have decorative pieces of mirror and tile applied to them and this is said to represent water. This reminds us of the thought that a person is crossing a river to get to the afterlife. Crosses are fashioned from metal and wood. Some headstones have been painted silver. And there are plots decorated with items that belonged to the deceased like cups and saucers or bowls. This reminds us of the Latino cemetery we stumbled upon one day that was full of items decorating most of the plots from flowers to religious icons to personal items.

We were unable to find any haunts at Greenwood Cemetery, but Oakland Cemetery has a story. Inside Oakland Cemetery, one will find the onion-domed, lichen covered and crumbling Phillips Mausoleum at Block 18, Lot 12. This was built by and for architect Calvin C. Phillips who designed structures for the Paris Expo in 1877 and the Old Clock Tower in the All Saints Neighborhood in Tallahassee. The mausoleum was built in the early 20th century and displayed the eccentricities of the man who chose a mixture of Greek, Indian, Doric and Roman styles. There's not much known about Phillips. He was born in Massachusetts in the early 1830s and moved to Tallahassee alone in 1907, even though he was married and had two daughters. He lived as a hermit there and was obsessed with time, which is why he built the Old Clock Tower. He was obsessed with his final burial spot as well. He spent days and days for years building the crypt and just sitting inside of it. When asked about it he said he was getting used to it. At the time he was in his 80s and not far from his death. The mausoleum was finished in November 1919 and he died only a few days later.

This led to a legend starting about his death that claimed he hired a carpenter to build him a coffin out of cherry wood. When Phillips got the casket, he had it delivered to the mausoleum and then shut himself inside of it where he died. People claim that is why his spirit is at unrest. But it could be for another reason since this scenario more than likely did not play out. In 2000, vandals broke into the crypt and stole the skull of Phillips. It has never been recovered. And perhaps that is why people claim to see Phillips’ ghost sitting on top of the mausoleum. His apparition has also been spotted walking around the cemetery.

Rose Hill Historical Cemetery at Black Diamond Mines

Rose Hill Cemetery is a Welsh Protestant cemetery that is found on the Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve. This area was the Mount Diablo Coalfield in what was Nortonville and Somersville, California. A low grade of coal was dug out of the mines here from 1850 until the turn-of-the-century. As the coal dried up, the towns started to slump economically, but they got a boost in 1920 when silica sand started to be mined out of the Hazel-Atlas Mine. This was used in glass-making. This mining had a good run until the 1940s and all of the mines were shut down for good. The people living in Somersville left the town, taking their homes with them. You heard that right. They literally took their homes down, board by board and took them to a new town to reassemble.

They did leave behind their dead at the Rose Hill Cemetery, which is surrounded by a black wrought-iron fence. This was named for Emma Rose, who was the daughter of the man who bought the land from the mining company. Graves here date from 1865 to 1954. Many people died in the towns around the mines from a variety of things like mining accidents and black lung to epidemics of diphtheria, typhus, scarlet fever and small pox. The cemetery looks really nice today, but before this became a preserve, the graveyard was desecrated with headstones being broken or knocked off their bases. Supervising Naturalist Traci Parent put together a team and they painstakingly put the headstones back together and did their best to figure out where people were buried, even though early records had been destroyed. They even managed to get 12 headstones that had been taken, returned to the cemetery.

The desecration of the cemetery seems to have led to some hauntings. The experiences got so intense that it is said that 119 exorcisms had to be performed. One of the creepier hauntings describes thirteen ghosts of children all dressed in black wandering the graveyard. Perhaps victims of an epidemic in their burial clothes. There are also floating, glowing crosses seen in the cemetery. A ghost that glows white has been seen gliding over the headstones and the sounds of a horse drawn carriage have been heard on the cemetery road. Other sounds that are heard include, ghostly cries and laughter, bells jingling and wind when there is no actual wind.

The most well known ghost here is Sarah Norton. Nortonville is named for her family. Her husband Noah Norton had founded the town, but he died in a mining accident. She had lost her religion along the way and was a very opinionated and strong woman. She worked as a midwife and had delivered many babies in the mining community. She was traveling in a buggy to deliver another of those babies on October 5th, 1879, when she was thrown from the buggy and killed. She was not given a proper Christian burial because two storms erupted each time they attempted to have the funeral. And she's a tad angry about that. She appears in the graveyard as a "gliding lady" or a "glowing Lady" and she has been nicknamed the White Witch because she is a malevolent entity that scares people who see her.

Mound City National Cemetery

President Abraham Lincoln authorized the creation of twelve national cemeteries on July 17, 1862 and one of those was Mound City National Cemetery in Mound City, Illinois. This city had large naval shipyards that provided warships to the Union's Mississippi Squadron during the Civil War, which was comprised of 80 vessels. The USS Cairo, USS Cincinnati, and USS Mound City were some of their famous ironclads that they produced. There was a nearby military hospital and the first burials would be men who succumbed to their injuries and illness. The hospital could care for up to 1500 men and the first arrivals were from the Battle of Belmont in Kentucky, followed by a campaign at Fort Donelson. There would also be causalities from the Battle of Shiloh. Starting in 1864, bodies were re-interred from local battlefield cemeteries. The 10 acres are the final resting place for around 8500 people from all of the wars and burials still continue today for service veterans. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There is one Civil War Brigadier General buried here, John Basil Turchin. There is also a beautiful marble monument that was erected in 1874 for the Illinois State Soldiers and Sailors Monument, a tribute to the unknown fallen during the Civil War.  

There is one spirit here and it belongs to a woman. Many believe that this apparition is the wife of Brigadier General Turchin, Madame Turchin. Turchin was Russian born and known as the Mad Cossack because of his service in the army of the Russian Czar. He loved his wife and hated to be away from her, so he actually brought her to the battlefields with him. She witnessed his charge that saved the day at the Battle of Chickamauga. She wrote the only woman's war diary of the military campaigns Turchin was involved with. We imagine her account was rose-colored because her husband was later court-martialed for not controlling his men and allowing them to burn and pillage towns. After his death in 1901, she visited his grave at Mound City often and that is what her ghost continues to do today.

Springdale Cemetery in Illinois

Springdale Cemetery is located in Peoria, Illinois. Peoria was established in 1691, making it the oldest European settlement in Illinois. The city was named for the Peoria tribe from the area. Springdale Cemetery started as a private cemetery and was founded in 1854 although the first internment didn't happen until 1857. The cemetery was platted over 360 acres of rolling hills, but was later trimmed back to 223 acres. There are over 78,000 people buried here and there are 15 private mausoleums and one large public mausoleum. 

There are several notable burials here that include 900 military veterans, with one special area designated as Soldiers' Hill. Lucie Brotherson Tyng was the founder of the Women's Christian Temperance Union and she has a plot here. There is also the founder of the Bradley Polytechnic Institute, which became Bradley University, Lydia Moss Bradley. American artist Hedley Waycott is here. He was Peoria's best loved painter and was self-taught. A newspaper writer commented of him, "Waycott was gratified to believe that he played a large part in helping many people learn to appreciate the vast beauties of nature and have a deeper longing for the finer things of life." Former Illinois Governor Thomas Ford has his final resting place here. And the father of American aviation, Octave Chanute is buried at Springdale. He was a mentor for Orville and Wilbur Wright and was a pioneer in wood preservation and civil engineering of bridges. He used some of his ideas for building trusses on a bridge to creating stacked wings for planes. Chanute was also honored by becoming part of the Frieze of American History, in the Capitol Rotunda, in Washington DC.  

There is a true crime story connected to Springdale Cemetery. The body of Mildred Hallmark was found inside the cemetery on June 18, 1935. Mildred had been a pretty auburn-haired nineteen-year-old. She had been heading home the night before after a date at the movie theater. She took the streetcar to her stop and was never seen alive again. A local newspaper article reports on the trial after the arrest of a serial rapist in the area named Gerald Thompson.

 

Thompson was found guilty and sentenced to die in the electric chair at the Joliet prison. He had apparently punched Mildred so hard that he broke her neck. He was executed in October of 1935. Mildred may be our Lady in White at this cemetery. This apparition is usually seen close to where Mildred's body had been discovered near a place that had been the Duck Pond. A gazebo now stands near the spot. She is seen wearing white because that is the color of dress that she wore on her date. People also report orbs of light that flutter around the gazebo.

Other mysterious activity includes hearing disembodied voices in the cemetery, not only talking to each other, but talking to the person who hears them. Some kind of haunting music is heard on the air as well. One man reported having a conversation with an elderly man who looked very real to him, but ended up vanishing into thin air as he started to walk away.  

There are also reports of a Witches Circle here. The Cole Family Plot can be located because of two prominent features: the sassafras tree and a granite obelisk monument made from imported Scotch granite that feature a large inverted torch on one side. There is a granite circle that borders the plot. The Cole Family was headed by Almiran Cole who opened Peoria's first distillery. He and his wife Chloe are buried here, along with their children. They had nine of them and many died young, with eight having their final resting place here. The distinctive sassafras tree here has been used twice by people who hanged themselves, the most recent in 2000. It has the nickname, the Devil's Tree and many believe that is because the leaves of the sassafras look like a trident or pitchfork. Adding to the mystique of this plot is the fact that the Cole family is buried in a circle around the obelisk. That is where the nickname Witches Circle comes from. And there are rumors that Satanic rituals have been performed in Cole Circle. Adding credibility to these rumors are people who claim to hear chanting on the air, feel cold spots and some claim to not only get that feeling of being watched, but they actually see weird shadowy figures in the circle. 

Erin Egnatz's, of Hauntings Around America, experience, "I recently visited Springdale Cemetery on a very cold and windy day which made investigating pretty tough. I spent a majority of my time in the Summit Range area. Here I was drawn to a couple headstones that had been knocked over. I don't know how long it has been since they fell but you could definitely feel the overwhelming sadness of the area. As I was visiting these headstones (pictured above) I began to hear music coming from, what I suspect was around the 1920's but I could be off by a bit, but I do not it was from a long time ago. I followed the music for awhile, which led me to a lovely mausoleum that had clearly been touched by time. I no longer heard the music but was completely absorbed by it. The door had a slight hole which made it possible to see inside the mausoleum. Inside was the burial chambers of the dead along with flowers which had clearly been there for quite awhile as they had all turned black and brittle with age."

We love our cemeteries whether they come with a haunting or not. Are any of these places full of stones and bones haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Ep. 388 - The Jefferson Hotel

Moment in Oddity - Erfurt Latrine Disaster (Suggested by: Victoria Howard)

Erfurt is the capital of Germany's state of Thuringia. It is known for its well preserved medieval city centers. There is something else it is known for, the Erfurt Latrine Disaster. There was a feud between Louis III, Landgrave of Thuringia and Archbishop Conrad of Mainz that intensified in 1184. The Archbishop started building a castle near the border of Thuringia and Louis III saw it as a provocation. At the same time, King Henry VI was conducting a campaign against Poland. He had heard about the other conflict and decided that he needed to mediate a stop to the issue. He was staying in Erfurt and called for a diet between the men. He also invited several other nobles to help with the negotiations. The diet took place on July 26, 1184 on the upper floor of the rectory at the church of St. Peter's monastery. This was a really old building. More than one hundred men gathered on that floor and the beams began to creak beneath them. They were partially rotted and soon the upper floor fell through to the floor beneath, which also gave way. Beneath the monastery was a large bathroom with many latrines that emptied into a septic tank below that was really just a large pool full of fecal matter. The group fell through the second floor onto the latrines, which easily gave way to the pool below. Sixty people were killed in the tragedy with most drowning in the tons of excrement that had accumulated over the years. The Archbishop, Louis III and King Henry VI all managed to survive. Drowning in a pool of poo is not only completely disgusting, it certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Cole Porter Born

In the month of June, on the 9th, in 1893, composer and lyricist Cole Porter was born. He was born to a wealthy family in Peru, Indiana. Porter loved music and his mother helped him pursue it. He wrote his first operetta with her help at the age of ten and at that point he had already learned the violin and the piano. His rich grandfather paid for his schooling, which took him all the way to Yale where he became president of the Yale Glee Club. Porter would write 300 songs while at Yale, much to his grandfather's displeasure. Granddad wanted him to become a lawyer. He moved to Paris during World War I where he hosted scandalous parties with recreational drugs, cross-dressing and gay frivolity. He married a rich American divorcee while in Paris and the couple would remain devoted to each other from their marriage in 1919 until her death in 1954. It was a marriage that worked for both of them, providing him cover for his homosexuality and it gave her social standing and a best friend. Porter's Broadway career began in 1928 when five of his songs were used in the musical Let's Do It. His most successful musical was Kiss Me Kate in 1948, which won a Tony for Best Musical. Porter died of kidney failure in 1964 and was buried in Mount Hope Cemetery in Peru, Indiana. What's your favorite Cole Porter song? Mine is "Everytime We Say Good-bye."

The Jefferson Hotel (Suggested by: Sandra Parr Latham)

The Jefferson Hotel, named for the city of Jefferson in Texas, has a fun history that continues on into today. From beginnings as a cotton warehouse to a speakeasy with women plying their trade to a gambling and dancing hub to a hotel full of uniquely named rooms and interesting antiques, this hotel has seen it all. And now it plays host to a variety of ghosts. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the Jefferson Hotel! 

Jefferson, Texas is a really haunted city. At least that is its claim. That's not hard to believe when visiting its historic hotels. Two of the most haunted ones in the city sit right across from each other. The name of the city is, of course, for Thomas Jefferson. The city was founded in 1842 by Allen Urquhart on land ceded from the Caddo Tribe. The town would become a riverboat town for an unusual reason. The Red River Raft was a log jam that stretched for over 100 miles on the Red River and it raised the level of that river as well as the Big Cypress Bayou near Jefferson. This made it possible for riverboats to travel from St. Louis, Missouri and New Orleans, Louisiana to Jefferson. That lasted until the Army Corps of Engineers blew it loose with nitroglycerin in 1873. And the riverboat days died. Before this, Jefferson had been the sixth largest city in Texas with a population that peaked at 30,000. After the loss of port city status, it had dropped to 3,000. Jefferson was the county seat of Marion and this county voted for secession prior to the Civil War. Many of the men went off to fight. The Texas and Pacific Railway was built and bypassed Jefferson in the 1870s and its glory days were officially put behind it. 

It was also during the late 1870s that the town got some attention because of a sensational murder trial. Abraham Rothschild was facing murder charges in the death of Diamond Bessie Moore. Moore was a working girl from New York who had made her way to Jefferson through New Orleans. She arrived in town with Rothschild on her arm and the two claimed to be a married couple although that was not the case. The two had met each other in Hot Springs and began traveling together. Moore was soon found murdered in the woods near Jefferson. The trial was intense and made news around the country. Rothschild was eventually found not guilty after first being found guilty and sentenced to die. He won on appeal and the murder has never been solved. But I think we can guess what happened here by a few of the details. Rothschild bought two lunches for a picnic near Big Cypress Creek and the couple disappeared into the fog there. Rothschild returned to town alone and when asked about his wife, he said she was in the country visiting friends. When Moore's body was found, there were the remnants of a picnic nearby. She had a gunshot wound to the head. Diane found this fun clip in the newspaper about Rothschild:

The Historic Jefferson Hotel is located at 124 W Austin Street in Jefferson, Texas and just came under new ownership with a grand reopening in October of 2020 after major renovations. Those new owners are Jeromy and Pam Jones. The Jones are so cool! They embrace the ghost stories and here are some of their themed rooms: the Egyptian room which contains two actual antique Egyptian sarcophagi, a doll room, a nautical room, a train room, the Pride House room, the Bridal Suite, the Honeymoon suite, a carnival room, Bigfoot room, and a mask/Mardi Gras room. They have filled the hotel with antiques, many of them very unique. A few include a rare antique cash register, 150 year old Sun chair, movie props, a faberge egg, antique coffin fans and an antique phone booth that has been wired with a camera that is in the upstairs hallway so that guests can watch people up there and scare them by talking to them. And they own a company that runs out of the hotel called “Paranologies,”which combines the paranormal with technology.

The Cotton Industry really exploded in the 1850s and with the ease of shipping out of Jefferson, a cotton warehouse was needed. That building would eventually become the Jefferson Hotel when the shipping industry was crushed by the destroyed log jam. This obviously took a lot of renovating to turn the warehouse into a hotel and long verandas were built around the second floor of the building. Most of the histories we read had this change coming in the 1870s, which would coincide with the port failure. The real question is when was this a hotel and when was it a brothel? The ladies here were called Good Time Girls and they advertised their wares from the veranda. As the country moved into Prohibition, the Jefferson Hotel kept its wayward ways and opened a speakeasy they called The Crystal Palace. Ragtime tunes were pounded out in the ballroom while couples danced and gamblers tried their hands at cards.

From that point up until 2020 with our new owners, we don't know much about the ownership. We can guarantee based on the reviews we've read from recent visits, this is a hotel perfect for the Crew. There are fun old and odd things to observe and plenty of spirits. Like so many other old homes and hotels, cigar smoke is smelled here and, of course, the hotel is smoke-free. Mysterious knocks are heard on the walls and headboards. Water turns itself on and off in the rooms. And there are the typical issues with the doors locking and unlocking themselves. Guests and employees all report experiences. 

Michael was a former desk clerk and he became so terrified one night that he ran out of the hotel. And when you hear what happened to him, you will not blame him. Michael was responsible for locking up. He was locking up the last area, which was a longer, dark hallway. Just as he locked the last door, all of the doors in the hallway started slamming open and closed. These were doors that he had already locked. Things got worse. The lights started flashing on and off. There was more! The sounds of furniture dragging started coming from the rooms and then he heard disembodied footsteps. That was enough for him and he ran outside to wait for his ride. We'd love to know if the doors were locked again in the morning.

Former manager Alicia Montgomery told the news-journal, "I was a pretty big skeptic when I first came along. I know there are things that are unexplainable that happen in the hotel. I've been the only one at the hotel, with no employees and no guests, and the front switchboards on the front desk light up like rooms are talking to each other. Dishes have been moving; I haven't seen them, but you hear them clinking. Our pay phone in the hall rings. Televisions are turned on and off. I've seen things fall with no one around them. Things happen all the time."

One of the named spirits here is The Vanishing Man. This is a tall man dressed in high boots and a long coat. The main place he is seen is Room 5 and he was first seen by a child. He is the most reliable ghost, showing up in several rooms where he either just stands around or sits for a spot. Some guests have seen him walking in the hallway and assume that he is a guest until he disappears through a door or wall. Other really well known specters here are the Mill Children. One child appears as a girl aged around seven wearing a pinafore, which is sometimes called a pinny. These are those aprons that are worn over dresses that have holes for the arms and an open back. The other is a boy about the same age who wears knee length britches. No one knows for sure their origin, but they probably didn't die here when it was a hotel, so they more than likely worked in the cotton warehouse and died in some kind of industrial accident. They are highly "spirited" and heard laughing in the hallways and they love to chase each other into rooms. They are pranksters who like to steal items as well. They really like keys. They love pennies and marbles, so if you are investigating, make sure to bring some of those with you. They also will turn the lights on and off.  

Jodi Breckenridge is the former manager of the Jefferson Hotel and current operator of Historical Jefferson Ghost Tours and she says of the children ghosts, "When people tell me that they've seen them, I'll ask before I say anything, 'What do they look like?' 'What are they wearing?' Just to compare stories to see if everyone is seeing the same thing. It's always a little girl and little boy, 7 to 8 years old. They always describe her as wearing the pinafore, white leotard and black high-top button boots. They say he has on knee britches. It's not fancy clothes; it's just what children would be wearing everyday." Housekeeper Denise Garza said of the children ghosts, "You can turn off a light, and it will turn on again when you walk away, but when you walk back to turn it off, it will switch off by itself. (But) they'll behave when I tell them to. Sometimes I'll just say, 'All right children, enough is enough,' and they'll stop."

A couple passing Room 12 noticed that they could see light coming from under the door and they noticed what appeared to be a shadow passing though the light. They were unnerved as they knew they were the only people staying in the hotel that night. The apparition of a thin woman with blonde hair has been seen in Room 12 many times. A man staying in that room felt a caressing up and down his legs throughout the night.

Then there is Room 19. If you want to book a fun room, this one is for you. Cynthrax wrote on TripAdvisor, "Most people who we've met staying here come for the paranormal experiences. The Historic Jefferson Hotel never disappoints! Room 19...WOW!!! We had 2 in the bed and 2 on the floor sleeping (I got the floor the first night) and everyone had experiences! The floor planks by my head were moving, creaking, etc. when footsteps walked RIGHT BESIDE MY HEAD!!!! I swore our friends had gotten up to go to the bathroom, but they had not moved once they got under the covers...they were experiencing their own unique "fun" with ghosts!! They said, they felt like they were surrounded by people who kept crowding in more and more shaking the bed from side to side, bumping it harder every now and then. In the bathroom, after taking a bath, you'll see a message in the mirror...it hasn't changed in years and I've tried to rub it out as well as write other messages (various methods) on it to see if they'll show up w/steam...nope.

Room 19 is thought to be the haunt of our Lady in White because that is where her bed is located today. The Lady in White is thought to be Lydia Grisby who was left on the day of her wedding by her fiance. She hanged herself in either Room 12 or Room 14 from a 12 foot high headboard on the bed, it is thought in 1912. Some believe she may have been pregnant and that is why she was so distraught. This female ghost appears in a white bridal gown and has blonde hair. She usually is floating above the ground and appears most often to men who are alone. She is not only seen in Room 19 with the bed, but she appears in several areas in the hotel. 

Judy's Mirror used to find its home in Room 19, but now it sits in Room 17. There seems to be the spirit of a teen girl attached to this mirror. The legend behind her claims that she was a worker at the hotel when it was a bordello. A client stabbed her and left her to die in the bathtub. When guests take showers and the mirror steams up, she will leave messages in the mirror. Sometimes her spirit is seen in the reflection. The words she writes are usually either cries for help or sometimes they are warnings. The name Judy has shown up a few times, which is where the mirror gets its name.

This month, May, in 2021, an article on KTEM News revealed that a couple staying Room 17, left in such a hurry that they left their items behind. The couple had stayed at the hotel in March and claimed to see two messages written in the fog of the mirror that was created when they took a shower. They saw the first one while they were still in the shower. It read, "You must leave." One of them got out and wiped off the mirror a bit unnerved, but assumed it was something a previous guest had left behind to spook them. They got back in the shower and when they were finished and finally got out for good, they were stunned to see a new message on the mirror, "Get out!" Clearly this was not something a previous guest had left. The couple locked the bathroom door before closing it and dressed quickly. They then fled to the front desk where they checked out. The time was around 1am. The staff of the hotel decided to document everything in a video and you can clearly see Get Out written on the mirror, but it's weird because it doesn't look like something that would be written with a finger. It is too thin for that. Here is a screenshot from the video:

 


And in another photo, there almost appears to be a third head between the two employees who made the video:


 

Here is the actual video:  

The employees tried to fog up the mirror and take pictures again the next day, but this time there was no message on the mirror. Some other couples had stayed in that room previously and they claimed that they watched as the word "Help" was written across the fog on the mirror. Then the word "Judy" was written. Then "Murder" appeared written backwards. Also, there was this entry into the journal kept at the front desk about paranormal experiences in Room 17 on Dec. 20, 2014, "Everyone took a shower before me and only whenever I showered, 'get out' appeared on the mirror. The next morning there was nothing. We turned the heater off and throughout the night it would be scorching hot and then freezing cold."

The new owners have had there own experiences already. Jeromy’s father Richard Jones was staying at the hotel to help with the remodel and he told the Marshall News Messenger, "I was walking out of the kitchen one day and heard a loud crash as I got into the ballroom area. I walked back into the kitchen and a big, heavy tray of about 50 pieces or more of silverware had been knocked off the counter and onto the floor. I tried to explain it away by saying, ‘maybe the air conditioner kicked on and pushed it off but it was heavy so I don’t know how it could have happened.”

Jeromy was cleaning up in Room 15 when he had a surprising experience. He picked up an item at the end of the bed and glanced at the other side of the bed as he stood up. A red-haired little boy popped his head up on the other side of the bed. Jeromy was slightly startled, but he quietly backed out of the room and shut the door. His wife Pam said, "We’ve heard children laughing and talking, footsteps, things like that but one of the best things we were able to catch on camera was when my friend came here to visit us. She was walking down the hall upstairs and was taking photos and she aimed the camera down the hall and caught a silhouette walking from the hall, through the wall, into the stairwell like it was heading downstairs. Her iPhone camera was on the live setting so it does a few seconds of live video before each photograph and you see the silhouette clearly moving through the wall. Now she doesn’t want to come back to stay.”

Another haunted hotel in town is the Kahn Hotel that sits across the street and it is said that there is a cowboy ghost with black hair that crosses back and forth across the street between the two hotels. The Kahn used to be a saloon. So this seems to be a shared spirit. There are many haunts in this small town. Is the Jefferson Hotel one of those haunted places? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Ep. 387 - DeSoto House Hotel

Moment in Oddity - Charfield Railway Disaster (Suggested by: Mike Rodgers)

In this episode, we will be talking about a Lady in Black spirit and synchronistically, we have another story here about a Lady in Black connected to a couple of mysteries connected to a train crash. A passenger train was heading from Leeds, England to Bristow on a foggy night in October of 1928. The train was traveling fast and scheduled to arrive early at a railway station in Charfield, Gloucestershire, which it was just supposed to pass through. A freight train was backing off the track when the Leeds train arrived and there was a horrible collision that killed 16 people, burning them so they were unrecognizable. Family members managed to identify the victims, save for two children: a girl of 12 and a boy of 5. Nobody ever came forward to identify or claim the children. No one knew where these children came from and they were buried together in a common grave with no names on the tombstone. While the country worked to identify the children, investigators tried to figure out how the crash happened. The Leeds train was in perfect working order. The conductor and fireman both survived and claimed that all the lights coming into Charfield had been green, while the signal man said he had turned them to red. And even though there was fog, there had been no fog signal man. No one was ever charged and the cause of the crash remains a mystery. The third mystery connected to the crash entailed a woman in black who would arrive by limousine and place flowers on the grave of the children two or three times a year. She was frail and wore a veil, so no one ever saw her face. Some people claimed that she was a ghost who would disappear and that the car sometimes disappeared too. These things remain mysteries connected to the the Charfield Railway Disaster and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Brooklyn Bridge Opens

In the month of May, on the 24th, in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge Opens. John Roebling was a pioneer in steel suspension bridge design and he solved a major problem with them that caused failure. New York State accepted Roebling's design for a bridge that would connect Brooklyn and Manhattan. This would be the world's first steel suspension bridge and spanned 1,595 feet. Roebling wouldn't live to fulfill his duty as chief engineer. A boat smashed his toes while he was doing compass readings for the bridge and he died of tetanus three weeks later. He would be the first of two dozen people who would died building the bridge. His son Washington would take over and two granite foundations would be the first parts of the bridge built. The bridge took fourteen years to complete. Thousands of residents turned out for the dedication ceremony that was headed by President Chester A. Arthur Governor Grover Cleveland. Washington was injured by the bends while working on the bridge and partially paralyzed, so it would be his wife Emily that would take the victory lap across the bridge. She rode in a car with a rooster, which was a symbol of victory. By the end of that first twenty-four hours of being opened, 250,000 had walked across the Brooklyn Bridge.

DeSoto House Hotel (Suggested by: Amanda Allen and Jennie Douglas)

The DeSoto House Hotel sits at the corner of Green and Main Streets in downtown Galena, Illinois. This building has claims that it is the most haunted hotel in Illinois and with a history that includes President Abraham Lincoln, that reputation seems fitting. This was a beautiful hotel hosting grand balls until the economy hit it hard, but it has risen once again to provide the finest in accommodations. And with a Lady in Black who wandered the dining room so much that they left a hole in the wall for her, who wouldn't want to stay here? Join us as we share the history and hauntings of the DeSoto House Hotel. 

Galena, Illinois was once the principal river port of the Upper Mississippi Valley. The hills, bluffs and valleys make this area very scenic and with nearly 85% of Galena's buildings being on the National Register Historic District, this town should be on everyone's bucket list. The Sac and Fox tribes were some of the first people here and they mined the lead deposits found here. French traders arrived in the late 1600s and they established a trading post. Others came for the lead deposits and in the early 1800s, Congress established the Upper Mississippi Lead Mine District. This is where Galena got its name because that is the technical term for sulphide of lead.

By the 1850s, Galena became a shipping port with the Galena River flowing into the Mississippi River. The population grew to 14,000 and Galena was shipping 54 million pounds of lead a year. The Illinois Central Railroad brought a line through town and hotels were built to accommodate the travelers.  The Galena Hotel Company was formed by a group of investors and they made their first project the DeSoto House, which they named for Hernando de Soto who discovered the Mississippi River.

The DeSoto House Hotel opened on April 9, 1855 as the “Largest Hotel in the West” and featured five stories with 225 guest rooms, a 300 seat dining room and other smaller dining rooms, Ladies' Parlors, Gentlemen's Reading Room, a saloon, huge kitchen with the modern appliances of the time, gas lights, offices, retail stores and a bowling alley. John C. Parks stepped up as the first proprietor of the hotel and the deal he made with the hotel company was that he would furnish the building in exchange for a two year rent-free contract. He spent $15,000 on furniture made from rosewood, velvet carpeting, satin damask curtains, marble-topped tables and a beautiful rosewood hand-carved piano.

Both Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas visited the hotel and spoke from a balcony that overlooked the main street. Lincoln was there on July 23, 1856, and he campaigned for John Fremont who was seeking the presidency. Stephen Douglas was a senator when he spoke from the same balcony on July 25, 1858. Fifteen thousand people held a rally in front of the hotel when Lincoln ran for president. President Lincoln wasn't the only president connected to the hotel. William Jennings Bryan was also a guest here. Ulysses S. Grant was from Galena. This was his hometown and when he returned home victorious from the Civil War, 25,000 people lined the streets to welcome him and a grand reception ball was held in his honor at the DeSoto's ballroom. When Grant ran for president, Rooms 209 and 211 became his presidential campaign headquarters.

These were big historic moments for the hotel. Good times. But the hotel would have some major issues. The first thing to befall it was a fire on June 2, 1859 that destroyed a dozen rooms on each floor. The entire hotel was damaged from the smoke and water. Ten years later, a boiler down in the basement exploded. The owners at the time decided to call it quits and auctioned off all the furnishings and by December of 1870, the hotel was closed. The closure wouldn't last long as W.H. Blewett purchased the hotel in 1871 and he redecorated the hotel and refurnished it to better reflect that time period. Some well known guests during this period were balloonist Silas Brooks, Duprey and Green's Minstrels and General and Mrs. Tom Thumb. The top two floors of the hotel were removed in 1880. Hot and cold running water would soon follow and bathrooms were added to all floors. When economic times were down, the hotel served as a boarding house. 

New renovations would be completed in the 1970s, but the hotel would still find itself facing demolition. There was an outcry from the town people and Mayor Frank Einsweiller began an effort to fund a complete restoration, which would take seven years to gather $7.8 million in funds. This renovation took place for a year between April 15, 1985 and April 19, 1986. When this was done there was a four-story atrium Courtyard dining room, the Generals' Restaurant with original brick walls and beamed ceilings named for nine Civil War generals that were from Galena, the Green Street Tavern, 55 guest rooms with private baths, ballroom, specialty shops and conference and banquet rooms. The front lobby has this great wrap around front staircase that you can imagine Lincoln once walked up and down. The furnishings and decor harken back to the Victorian era.

This town that time forgot has not been forgotten by its previous residents. Ghosts wander many places in Galena and several ghost tours are offered. The DeSoto House Hotel has lots of ghost stories connected to it with the first ones dating back to the 1800s. In one newspaper article, a woman claimed that a black figure came to her window. Guests for years have caught the scent of cigar smoke and strange perfume. Disembodied voices are heard in the hallways and full-bodied apparitions in period clothing have been seen. The third floor seems to have the most activity with Room 333 being the most haunted, although the Green Street Tavern gives it a good run for its money with its Lady in Black who wears a period dress. People claim to hear sounds from the fourth and fifth floors, which no longer exist.

The story behind the Lady in Black is that she has regularly been seen walking into a wall near the fireplace in the Green Street Tavern. She even seems to have been captured in this photo:

Contractors were repairing plaster in the restaurant after a flood and discovered a doorway behind a wall. The place in the wall that the Lady in Black would walk into. So they decided to leave this area of the wall open and put plexiglass over it. Then they hung a sign next to it reading:

Guests claim that the hotel is haunted, but in a nice way and most stories seem fairly benign. Connie wrote on the Midwest Wanderer website, "The desk clerk I spoke with said she never believed in the paranormal until her experiences at the DeSoto House.  First was a cold chill followed by a bright ball of light that zoomed past her as she worked on the third floor late at night, with no explanation as to where the light could have come from.  Then there were the reports from several guests that they felt someone sit on the edge of the bed.  The reports were always from guests staying in the same room."

A woman named Mary wrote, "My husband and I stayed at the Desoto House 2012 and I can tell you that I did think someone sat on the bed next to me. I was so surprised to see no one was there when I looked up from my phone. I called out to my husband and he was in the bathroom at the time. There was definitely someone with me but I couldn’t see or hear anyone. Creepy feeling. Later that same night when we were getting into bed I reached out to shut off the lamp and before my hand got near the lamp the light went out. That did it for me. I knew someone was in our room with us. Our room was on the second floor. We never heard a sound or voices but that was enough for me to be sure there was someone with us that night."

On the Illinois Haunted House website, "I love Galena in general, and always wanted to stay at the Desoto House. I had always heard about the haunted history, and thought since I was finally staying there I’d bring my Spirit Box for fun to investigate a bit. Sometimes it’s hard to make out voices on the SB 7, but these were some of the clearest responses I have ever heard/gotten. Was really cool just sitting in my room communicating. Turned my skeptic girlfriend into a believer real quick! Can’t wait to go back! Don’t remember the room number unfortunately, but the whole town has spirits. Was just last year 2019. All around a great place to spend the weekend! "

Lynn wrote, "My husband and I stayed here in January about 5 years ago. I can’t remember if we stayed on the second or third floor. We too had a couple of strange things happen. The first night I turned the TV off manually and it came back on– twice!! The second night I woke up and saw this strange light slowly moving around the coffered ceiling! It wasn’t a ball of light, more like wave of light. I must not have been too scared though cause I went back to sleep!"

Christina wrote, "We stayed nearby over this past weekend, but stopped in the Green Street Tavern for lunch. I hadn’t read about any of the haunting stories or anything in advance. As we were waiting for our lunch, something distinctly brushed my cheek. I was astonished that there wasn’t something actually touching my face. I thought it must be a few long hairs grazing me (my hair is very short), and even wondered if the woman behind me had swept her hair back off her shoulders inadvertently brushing my cheek, but my significant other said nothing/nobody had come near me. Just a moment later, as I was still trying to figure it out, the same sensation occurred near my collarbone on my chest. I was startled and kind of unsettled, but it made me laugh almost uncontrollably – very out of character for me to begin such a giggling jag."

Gale Schultz, food and beverage supervisor at the Desoto House Hotel, claims she saw the Lady in Black. She said, "I was walking with another server one day and I stopped dead in my tracks and I saw her just walk right past me and go up the stairs. And I turned to the server and she said 'Oh my God, I just saw that too.' So she did see the lady in black as well." Schultz described her as wearing black clothes and she had a smokey type of figure.

Elizabeth wrote, "I stayed there with my husband about a year ago. In the middle of the night I was woken up by the feeling of my husband getting into bed on the right side of the bed, laying down next to me, and putting his arm around me. i bought it was a little strange since he always sleeps on the left side of the bed and isn’t much of a cuddled when he sleeps. But I didn’t think too much of it and drifted back to sleep for a bit. I woke up a little while later and was surprised to see my husband back on “his” side of the bed. In the morning I asked if he had gotten up during the night at all and switched sides of the bed and he said he didn’t. He isn’t prone to sleepwalking. It was very strange. Definitely could have been a dream on my part but it was so vivid!"

Mary Earl wrote, "First of all i want to say i would never stay at any other hotel in Galena! It`s smack dab in the middle of town so you can literally park your car in the attached parking garage and start having fun. Second i`d like to share a paranormal experience i had on the first floor ladies restroom. I was in the stall and the restroom was empty except for me. Suddenly i was shocked to hear an infant crying since i didn`t hear the door open and anyone enter. Then as the baby continued to cry i heard a womans voice hushing the child, i came directly out of the stall and to my surprise no one else was in there with me! I later heard from the desk clerk that what i had experienced was a paranormal happening and others had reported it happening to them also. I feel very happy that i got to experience the phenomenon!"

Sue wrote, "Last month we stayed in room 331. No action either night but the morning we were leaving, a light went out on its own. we tried to fix it and couldn’t. Then it went on, and off, and on, and flickered for a minute before staying on. Our friend was in the shower at the time. She came out and told us she felt a presence in there and asked it to turn the lights on and off, or even just flicker them, to let her know someone was there. She was so bummed out nothing responded to her continued requests when she had such a strong feeling. We were SHOCKED when she told us the requests she was asking, while they were actually occurring in the room instead of the shower! CREEPY!"

Vera Wrote, "My husband & I stayed at the DeSoto this past summer. Cannot remember our room number, but our corner room faced the Main Street. I got up middle of the night to use the bathroom. After returning to bed, I had difficulty falling asleep, feeling like something strange was going on. At first, I didn’t want to open my eyes, but thought, “That’s silly.” I opened my eyes, and saw a very thin woman in a black, somewhat sheer dress, walking past the foot of our bed. I actually tried to scream out my husband’s name, but was unable to utter a sound. The woman kept walking, towards the street side wall, but glanced at me, just as she disappeared through the wall."

Stacy wrote: " I fell asleep early, but was awakened by a vivid dream and the feeling of something hovering over my bed, it seemed black and frilly-like. In my dream I was running through an old building with tons of doors and I was getting lost and calling out for my sister-in-law. Then as I woke up I felt or saw a black figure hovering over me. I quickly jumped up- went to the rest room, grounded myself, and went back to bed! I was startled for a few moments. I didn’t wake my sister-in-law, but the next morning I told her that I had a scary dream about a black ghost. She laughed and said, “oh so it wasn’t Casper”? I replied, no it was black, and that was one freaky dream!!! I didn’t find out until two nights later that the hotel was famous for “The Lady in Black”, ghost. We took a ghost tour and learned about the many ghosts of the Galena hotel, and the infamous “Lady in Black. I was pretty freaked out for a for a few days, and I can’t explain it….. but I was visited by something that night. I can still see the figure as I awakened from my dream. I could not see a face, but it was over the end of my bed and seemed black and frilly, like a curtain, or dress. An experience that I have never had before, and so very vivid to me."

There is a ghost tour that starts in the lobby of the DeSoto, which seems to be a good indication that some paranormal activity is going on here. Is the DeSoto House Hotel haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Ep. 386 - Bishop's Stortford

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Moment in Oddity - Knocking On Wood (Suggested by: Mary Bright and Memory Burcalow)

The superstition of knocking on wood has very interesting origins. There is an ancient belief that Hamadryads or Dryads live inside trees. Hamadryads are creatures found in Greek mythology that live in trees. These nymphs are born bonded to a specific tree and will be with that tree until the tree dies. It was believed that the gods would punish people who harmed trees for this reason. The Deipnosophistae of Athenaeus lists eight hamadryads who were the daughters of Oxylus and Hamadryas and these were Karya associated with walnut or hazelnut, Ptelea associated with elm, Ampelos associated with vines, Balanos associated with oak, Morea associated with mulberry, Kraneia associated with dogwood, Aigeiros associated with black poplar and Syke associated with fig. The Cracker Butterfly is part of the genus Hamadryas, which is named for these nymphs, and it is fitting as this butterfly spends all its time on trees and its coloring causes it to completely blend into the tree. Ancient priests and priestesses would knock on trees to summon hamadryads when they needed help. This could be help with getting rid of evil or sometimes the Dryads would fulfill wishes. Perhaps like rubbing a lamp to get three wishes from a genie? So if you knock on wood out of superstition, just know that you might be summoning a tree spirit and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Operation Chastise and Bouncing Bombs

In the month of May, on the 16th, in 1943, Royal Air Force Lancaster bombers hit Nazi German industry hard by destroying two huge dams in Operation Chastise. These bombers accomplished this feat by using bombs designed by Sir Barnes Neville Wallis who was an English scientist and engineer. These bombs were called bouncing bombs and what they did was bounce across water towards a target and this bouncing action kept them from getting caught in torpedo nets and other obstacles. The bomb has backspin, which causes it to bounce on the water several times before dropping under water and going off near the target. The official name for the particular bouncing bombs used during this raid was Upkeep. The RAF bombers dropped the Upkeep bombs close to the surface of the lake at the Mohne and Edersee dams, flooding the Ruhr Valley. Two hydroelectric power stations were destroyed, along with mines and factories. It would take months for the Nazis to get production back to normal. They tried to frame the attack as a minor inconvenience, but it boosted British Morale and had they used a thousand bombers, they would have had even more success. Sir Wallis was disappointed that there were not follow up attacks to keep the dams from being repaired.

Bishop's Stortford

Many of the buildings and homes in Bishop's Stortford have changed very little since medieval and Tudor times. This is a historic market town in Hertfordshire, England with a history dating back to Roman occupation and Norman conquest. Many locations claim to have ghosts from churches to pubs to hotels and so much more. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of Bishop's Stortford!

Early on, the area where Bishop's Stortford would be established was a small Roman settlement that was mostly used as a stop along a well-traveled road. After the Roman Empire fell, the Saxons moved into the area. The village would first be mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 with the name Esterteford. This was named for the Steorta family that built a manor here and ruled over the area. That manor was sold in 1060 to the Bishop of London who was named William. Putting Bishop with Steorta gave the town the new name of Bishop's Stortford. The nearby river would take on the name River Stort as well. The Normans would build Waytemore Castle shortly thereafter, but the castle would not survive as King John had it destroyed in 1208 and now only a mound remains, as this was one of those motte and bailey designed castles. There are many tunnels that seemed to have run from the castle to various places in the town and these were once opened for historical tours until demmed unsafe. During medieval times, Bishop's Stortford became a market town and remains that today. The corn exchange brought malting, which brought brewing and the river canal was used to transport all kinds of goods from coal to timber to food supplies.

Death was a common occurrence in the town. Three plagues swept through starting with the Bubonic Plague in 1349, which killed half the town. This was followed in 1582 by the Black Death and then the Great Plague of London in 1665. Bishop's Stortford managed to avoid most of the bombing raids of the World Wars, but there was a prisoner-of-war camp in the town. Fires have swept through and there have been the tragedies that all towns face. Many places in the town claim to have spirits and the center of the town seems to be a hotspot. Let's explore a few of them! 

St. Mary's Catholic School

One of the most famous ghosts in the village is the Grey Lady and she is literally everywhere. We've never heard of a ghost getting around this much. This first stop is where many people believe she originates from and the legend behind her is that she is a nun who jumped from an attic window after she was disgraced, but no one knows what that means. We would imagine if the story is true that she more than likely was pregnant. This originally was a convent founded by five nuns from Belgium in 1896 and is located at the top of Windhill on Bell's Lane. These nuns had a goal of establishing a school, but the people of the village were suspicious of the women and their unusual dress. They bought Windhill Lodge and carted all their belongings up the hill. They started with nine pupils. This original building serves as administration offices today and another building built later is the school. Interestingly, even though the origins of the Grey Lady are traced to here, there are no stories of hauntings here. None that they are talking about.

St. Michael's Church

St. Michael's Church is located at 1 Windhill and is at the center of the town. This is a beautiful church with many medieval touches that give it a castle-like look and it has a churchyard. The first priest in Bishop's Stortford was John De Stratherne and he arrived in 1332. The Normans built the first church here, which eventually fell into disrepair and was pulled down in the late 1330s. The 1400s would see this new church built in the perpendicular style of English Gothic with lots of windows and bigger than most parish churches. As we have covered on other episodes, Henry VIII began a war of sorts on the Roman Catholic Church and pronounced himself head of the Church of England. He sent Thomas Cromwell out to dissolve monasteries and bring the wealth that the Catholic church had been accruing by buying up land and renting it out, back to the nobility. St. Michael's was used as a barracks by Cromwell's men for a time. The church had to be fumigated after the men finally left. The churchyard harbors spirits. People report seeing a mysterious figure in black and this has taken place for a couple centuries, all the way up to the mid-1980s. A woman was walking by the churchyard early one morning when she saw a woman wearing a long dress walking amongst the tombstones. She at first thought the woman was visiting the graveyard, until she disappeared.

Boar's Head Inn

Across from the church is The Boar's Head Inn, located at Number 30 on High Street. This was built in 1420 and when the church was transferred over to an Anglican church, Queen Elizabeth I ordered the Rood Loft to be taken down that had been built under her sister Mary's reign. Wood from this was used at the Boar's Head Inn and a huge wooden beam that goes across the fireplace is one of those pieces. This is thought to have been the Church House for St. Michael's and used for the brewing of Church ales. Now before you get to thinking that the church was getting into an early form of craft brewing, the term ales was used for any festive gathering or fund-raising event. During a church ales, a warden would beg for or buy malts and then sell it to the public to raise funds for the church. The Boar;s Head has records showing that it paid rent to the church, which makes sense because the church owned a ton of property here. The pub was built in the Tudor style and features exposed timber framework. The inn  has changed hands many times over the years and was almost destroyed in a fire in 1991.

The Grey Lady is such a strong presence here that the pub has been exorcised multiple times. There are those who say that she is harmless and that there are other malevolent entities here. During a Ouija Board session, people felt that they communicated with the Grey Lady and she told them that her name was Sarah and that she had been raped and murdered by the squire's son several centuries before and the date that this occurred was the day of the seance. A grey misty vapor has been seen in the pub and an entire bar full of patrons witnessed the Grey Lady float through. Other paranormal activity includes chairs being dragged across the floor, trash cans in the back rattle on their own, loud bangs are heard on the doors and a dog refused to go down into the cellar. A man is thought to haunt the cellar, but no one knows his identity. An apparition of a woman has been seen many times sitting at the bar. And Ruth Stratton who wrote Haunted Hertfordshire: A Ghostly Gazateer claims that a ghost people call "Captain" is possibly Captain Winter who had owned the Windhill House. 

Windhill House

Captain Winter raised a band of yeomanry and he gave permission for them to camp on the grounds of Windhill House. This was in the early 1800s when there was a fear that Napoleon might invade England. The Captain decided to test the soldiers one night to see how alert they were and this turned out to be a bad idea. One of the soliders was so alarmed that he fired his musket and killed the Captain. The property is now business offices and occupied by Pellys Solicitors. People have claimed to see the ghost of Captain Winter on this property too as well as a phantom army marching around.

The George Hotel

The George Hotel is another place where the Grey Lady is seen. This hotel just recently came under new ownership and was also renovated. The George Hotel is thought to be the oldest inn in the town. The original foundation was built at the end of the 14th century and Thomas Petworth may have been the first owner, as he was running it in 1417. The Hawkins family were the next owners and they held onto it for 300 years. During the 15th century they held their manorial courts here. The central location made it a prime spot for people to stay. King Charles I ‘dyned at ye George’ in 1629. This was such a big moment for the little town that the bells were rung at St. Michael’s Church in honor of the occasion. King Charles II visited often because he loved the races at the Newmarket and The George was the place he stayed with his entourage.

William Layer of Cambridgeshire became the owner of the George after the Hawkins family. He leased the George to Thomas Doncaster and Philip Mills along with an adjacent barn. The barn was eventually demolished after 1800. Five cottages were added to the property and when the original building was expanded, these cottages became part of that and the hotel was raised to three stories. It became the Bishop Stortford Excise Office and a terminus for stagecoaches coming from London. In the early 1800s, the hotel became a masonic lodge followed by an auction house in the 19th and early 20th century. Today, it is a hotel sitting above a popular Italian restaurant called Prezzo.

Guests and staff claim to have had strange experiences here from doors that open and close on their own, strange noises, beer taps and water taps that turn on by themselves and the feeling of being watched. The Grey Lady is here and seems to like Room 27 the best. Could it be because of the mysterious cupboard set into the wall? This is something that hasn't been opened for reputedly 200 years and the reason why is because the handle is stuck and no one wants to force it since the building is historically protected. According Jenni Kemp's "Haunted Bishop's Stortford," there are some who believe this opens onto a balcony where a murderer hid before jumping out of the cupboard and murdering a woman in the room. But we would think that a balcony would be visible from outside? The feeling in the room can be malevolent and a grey mist is sometimes seen, which is why the Grey Lady is thought to be here. She has appeared to a few as a full-bodied apparition, usually standing over the bed with her arms raised. Many guests have left this room in the middle of the night out of fear, including a military officer who felt safer sleeping in his car.

The Star Inn Pub

The Star Inn probably dates back to at least 1636 and was a timber-frame structure that is now covered with bricks. John Ward was the first owner and in 1808, a brewer named Hawkes and Co. The small pub garden here was once a stable yard that became a car park and then finally the garden. Unexplained activity here includes noises and knocking in the small bar of the Star Inn. The Grey lady has also been seen here. A person cleaning the place ran into the Grey Lady and fled, never to return. Right outside the pub, a male apparition was seen walking, three feet in the air!

Black Lion Inn

Across the road from The Star Inn Pub is the The Black Lion Inn, which was used for coffin storage during Tudor times. The Black Lion gets its name from the emblem of Edward III’s wife, Queen Philippa, the daughter of the Count of Hainault, which was a province in Belgium. The word black was ominous in the life of Philippa. She was a victim of the Black Death in 1369 as was her daughter Joan. Her son, Edward, Prince of Wales, was known as the Black Prince. Bishop Bonner held prisoners here that were accused of heresy and these prisoners would cross the bridge from here to the bishop’s Court House for their hearing. Local builder Joseph Glasscock bought the Black Lion in 1899 and removed every inch of the plaster that covered over the interior timber work. The two story building attached was once a stable.  There are a couple of ghosts here. A ghost haunts Room 6 and once joined a man in bed. There is also a mischievous little girl ghost dressed in Victorian clothing that has been seen and guests and employees have heard what they think are her footsteps. She likes to turn off the lights and hide people's keys.

Cooper's Department Store

Across from the Black Lion Inn is Cooper's Department Store. This timber framed building is basically the Sears of Bishop's Stortford, if there was still a Sears. Residents can find everything for the garden, gifts, glassware and tools. They also might find some ghosts because this is a very old building. The hanging judge Bishop Bonner's nephew owned a house that was once part of the building that houses the store. There is plaster ceiling decor that dates back to the early 16th century at the entrance of Coopers, giving a glimpse into its past. This store had been called Maslens in the 1980s and employees complained about poltergeist activity. There are thought to be three spirits here: an angry woman who is hostile, a male spirit in a brown uniform and our Grey Lady who is spotted as an apparition that disappears into walls. The angry ghost is blamed for throwing tools when the building was being renovated. She also gashed the fresh plaster. Human bones were discovered in a cupboard during the refurb and it was thought that perhaps burying them would tamp down the hauntings, but that has not been the case.

The Oxfam Shop, Tissimans and Pearsons Department Store

The Oxfam Shop is another haunted shop in town. The basement is the most haunted location in the building and a woman working there claims that she felt a tap on her shoulder and when she turned around, no one was there. That seems tame, as do the stories of stock being moved around down in the basement, but the story of an ominous shadow figure on the stairway scares many people. Pearson's Department Store had been located at Numbers 15 and 17 on North Street and this was yet another favorite of the Grey Lady. A woman claimed to see her in the basement stockroom as a grey misty figure. And yet another haunted shop is Tissimans, which is a men's clothing store dating back to 1601. The building itself dates back as far as 1360, so Tissimans claims to be the oldest men's clothing store in the world and had served the Royal Family. That was until it closed in 2013. Tissimans had been something else at its start. They did more than dress the living, they dressed the dead. This was also the local undertaker and had been named Slaters. The Grey Lady had been seen there on many occasions. Mr. Tissiman himself claimed to see the apparition multiple times, usually at night. There were also the claims of the smell of smoke in the building.

The Cock Inn

The Cock Inn dates back to 1540. There were four inns on this corner and this is the only one to remain, making it the oldest one here. The building is timber-framed with three gables and crooked windows. This became a tavern in 1620 under the name The Black Lion and was renamed Vernon's Head in 1749. That name was for Admiral Edward Vernon who captured all the military installations at the port of Portobelo in the West Indies in 1739. Many pubs renamed themselves in his honor. That was right after the event. It took The Cock Inn ten years before they did that. The pub eventually took on its current name. This inn was the place for the average person. The rich and nobels stayed elsewhere, while The Cock Inn was for servants and employees. Funny thing, the more elite Crown Inn or Red Lion Inn that were on this corner, no longer exist. The notorious highwayman, Dick Turpin, stayed here in between bouts of robbing wealthy travelers along the nearby road. Wanted posters at the time read, "Wanted. Knowne highwayman and rogue, Dick Turpin. For robberie and grievous offence upoune travellers on ye London to Cambridge coach. He has been espied in company at ye Cock Inn." Ironically, on the south side of the building, there was a courthouse and jail. Coal merchants moved in and there was a shop here until the 1960s when it was demolished to make room for more road.

The publicans daughter was playing in the cellar one day when it suddenly became very cold around her. The cellar door then banged shut loudly and locked itself, leaving the poor girl locked in the cellar. She screamed for a bit before she was finally heard and rescued. The culprit is said to be a mischievous little girl ghost named Emilie. Strange lights have been seen as well as shadow figures and a man in Civil War clothing has been seen. A young female ghost is seen crying and people believe she is waiting for her husband's return. Renovations in the 1970s escalated the haunting activity and employees would come in to find table overturned, lamps broken and the energy in the place began to feel malevolent. The bad energy seemed to leave when they started decorating with beautiful fresh flowers in vases everywhere.

The Police Station

The police station opened in 1940 at Basbow Lane across from St. Michel's Church. Supernatural activity started to be reported in the 1970s. Two officers were hanging out in the cell block and enjoying good conversation as they had been told that there were no prisoners in any of the cells. There easy evening ended at 3am when they both jumped at the very loud slamming of a cell door. They both jumped up and ran to the cells and found cell door number 2 vibrating as though it had just slammed. There was no one anywhere in the cell block. The magistrate's court is in this building too. A few weeks after this incident an officer called two of his colleagues to return back to the station from a call because he felt that there were intruders in the courtroom that was above where he was sitting. There had been a crash and some bangs, which led him to believe there were multiple people. The group went up to the courtroom and looked through the window and saw that all the tables and chairs had been turned over. All the doors were locked. There was no one in the building. They could not figure out how the furniture got that way other than that something unseen had done it. 

Many police officers claim to hear disembodied footsteps and doors lock and unlock themselves. Two police officers were playing cards one night when they heard footsteps coming down the back stairs. They turned to see who was coming, but no one ever showed up. A female police officer had similar experiences when manning the front desk. She started thinking that some of the male officers were playing tricks on her, so she would hide behind something to jump out...and she would wait...and wait and no one ever appeared. And probably the strangest story occurred during a refurbishment. The constable noticed that the lights had been left on in the men's and women's bathrooms. He tried to go into them to turn off the lights and they were both locked. He talked to the contractors the next morning to make sure they turned the lights off when they were done with their work. The men looked confused and took the constable into the bathrooms to show him that the lights had bare wires that had no power and were not hooked up. What has caused this place to be named the most haunted police station in England? It was built on a former slum property where much suffering probably happened.

The Grey Lady was said to pop up at a cottage on Basbow Lane and a grey mass was seen at Basbow Lane car park. A White Lady passes across from an old cemetery on the east side of Cemetery Road to the new cemetery. The disembodied sounds of horses and carriages are heard in various place. Some times the coaches are seen riding along the lanes in a spectral form. The shrieking lady runs along Water Lane. The mound that was once Waytemore Castle has given up its literal skeletons, mainly of children and babies, leading many to believe a hospital was once in the castle. Prisoners were kept in the dungeon. The energy is malevolent near the mound. Some even think the Grey Lady had actually been burned at the stake here. 

Most interactions with the Grey Lady have been negative in nature, but sometimes she is not in a bad mood which makes people wonder if there is more than one Grey Lady. Is there even a Grey Lady? Are these locations in Bishop's Stortford haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Ep. 385 - Old Clay County Jail

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Laura Ruby's book "Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All. The audiobook is deeply discounted through May 2021 at your favorite digital audiobook retailer and get the paperback from Balzer + Bray wherever you buy books.

Moment in Oddity - Infinite Pit Revives Animals (Suggested by Scott Booker)

It all started with a phone call to Coast to Coast AM when Art Bell was host. A Mel Waters was calling in to let George and his listeners know that he had a bottomless pit on his property in Washington state. The hole had been located on the property for decades with many indigineous tribes being aware of its existence. Many locals called this "The Devil's Hole." The hole was nine feet in diameter and the beginnings of it were shored up with bricks to about fifteen feet deep, but once past that, there was just dirt and darkness. Waters told Bell that he had tried to measure how deep the hole was by dropping a fishing line with weight down the hole, but he gave up after 80,000 feet and no slack in the line. Animals avoided the hole too. No birds flew over the top and Waters' dogs would dig in their paws to keep from being moved near the hole. A voice doesn't echo into the hole and a radio placed near the hole played music from another era. The strangest story Waters told was that his neighbor had thrown his deceased dog down into the pit and the neighbor later claimed to see his dog running in the forest wearing his collar. The government leased Waters' land and told him to leave the country. When he returned, the government claimed that they had bought the property and neighbors told him that black vans had been guarding the hole. Waters called into the radio show a second time and listeners started investigating him and found no records of any kind for any Mel Waters in Washington. People aren't sure he even exists. Whether Mel's Hole exists or not, the story certainly is odd!

This Month in History - First Wagon Train Leaves For California

In the month of May, on the 1st, in 1841, the first emigrant wagon train left Independence, Missouri heading for California. This wagon train was headed by John Bidwell and Captain John Bartleson, two men who had organized the Western Emigration Society. This first group included 69 adults, five of who were women, and a couple of children, traveling by Conestoga wagons pulled by horses, mules and oxen. This would be the blind leading the blind as Bidwell and Bartleson had never traveled to California before. The group managed to move around twelve miles a day. At Soda Springs, Idaho, the group split in two because half wanted to go to Oregon and half wanted to go to California. Bidwell led the California group of 33 people. Before reaching California, they had to leave their wagons because the terrain was too much for them. This group eventually made it to Tuolumne County in California on November 4, 1841, arriving nearly starved to death and lacking water. This would be the beginnings of the Oregon Trail.

Old Clay County Jail (Suggested by: Emily)

Listener Emily had contacted us and wondered if we would like to join her on a ghost hunt of the Old Clay County Jail in Green Cove Springs, Florida and we, of course, said yes. This would be our second hunt at an old Florida jail in a little over a month's time. Like the Old Hamilton County Jail, this one was the scene of executions and was open for almost 100 years. Several sheriffs lost their lives too, so the spiritual energy here was high. But we also had experiences with another spirit that none of us expected because this one should not have been at the jail, but might have tagged along knowing that the opportunity to get a message through would be possible. Join us as we share the history and haunts of the Old Clay County Jail and Courthouse.

Clay County is located west of Jacksonville and St. Augustine and was established in 1858. People would flock to Clay County in that earlier era because of the hot springs. Steamboats would bring them in to cities like Green Cove Springs, which is where the Old Clay County Jail and Courthouse are located. The Courthouse was constructed in 1890 and was designed by Ellis and McClure. The original jail was made from wood in 1874 and by the time the courthouse was built, it was falling apart. The  jail that stands today was finished in 1894, rises two stories, has one-foot-thick brick walls and was designed by the Pauly Jail Company. There were sixteen jail cells with maximum security upstairs. The jail held men, women, juveniles and the mentally ill. 

This is the second oldest jail in Florida, falling right behind the Old Jail in St. Augustine. The solitary confinement for this jail was a box out back that was like a sweat box and some liken it to an archaic form of torture. Food was cooked early on by the jailer's wife and was mostly fresh food. But that is where comfort stopped as the jail had no AC or heat, so prisoners were left to the elements. The Clay County Jail was used until 1973. Executions took place at the jail. At least seven hangings were documented and all took place on a scaffold. Abe Middleton was hanged in 1912 for the accidental murder of a man. Many people think his spirit is still here since the murder was an accident. 

Many sheriffs served Clay County and the jail. One of them, Sheriff John P. Hall, served for three decades, which is a Florida record. Three Clay County Sheriffs were killed in the line of duty between the late 1800s and early 1900s. Sheriff Joshephus Peeler was shot and killed on May 10, 1894 at a train station when he intervened in an argument between two men. He left behind a wife and five children. ranging in age from 6 months to 10 years. Sheriff Charles Wilson was shot and killed by a suspect during an arrest attempt aboard a train on July 10, 1906. Sheriff Theodore Cherry was shot and killed by a suspect during an interrogation interview on July 6, 1913. They brought the body of Sheriff Cherry back to the jail and laid his body on the floor of the booking room, which is today the archives. That Sheriff may still be here and one woman claims that just as she approached the double front doors of the courthouse, a man jumped out at her and startled her. He was dressed in period clothing of a sheriff and had come through the doors without opening them. 

Emily had invited us to dinner before the ghost hunt and this is where we met the rest of our team for the evening. No one from the group had investigated inside the jail, which was exciting so that we wouldn't be biased in any way. And as we would come to find out, not all the spirits at the jail were from that location. Our team included Emily's husband Mike and her two sons, Jake and Luke, and then three other women named Jo, Sarah and Christine. We had a great time talking ghosts with them at dinner and answering their questions. None of the three of them had ever investigated before. 

After dinner, we drove into Green Cove Springs to the jail, which is part of a bigger museum complex. The historic courthouse is across from it and there are several pieces of train memorabilia that included an old train depot building and a caboose on tracks. We took some pictures and walked around with the EMF detector to see if we would get anything and it did go up to yellow for a bit. Emily then familiarized us with the lay of the land. (Emily Tour 1) So yes, there was a school diagonally across the street, which would have been unnerving when the jail was in use. While the front of the jail is similar in design to the Old Hamilton County Jail, this one was painted white in 1963 and stretches back farther, so it was much larger with more jail cells. The warden's living quarters was also separated more. We didn't get to see much of that because this was also archive storage, but there were pieces from the jail in regards to stories and artifacts. One of these was a spoon that had been shaped into a key. Billy Joe Krebb had made this in 1964 and used it to unlock his cell and those of the other inmates. Unfortunately, the key wouldn't work on the front door and they all ended up back in their cells. 

In the warden's quarters, many children were born. The first female mayor of Green Cove Springs was one of those children. The Hinson brothers grew up in the jail and they went on to become prison guards and one of them was actually present at the execution of Ted Bundy at the Florida State Prison in Raiford, Florida. After our visit in the archives, we went into the jail, which just oozed creep. The walls featured peeling paint, the metal bunks were rusting, cobwebs clung to high places and the rusted and warped stairway was interesting to navigate. Throughout the jail, there are signs on the walls detailing bits of history, which was a nice touch. 

One of the most common forms of evidence that investigators capture at the jail are electronic voice phenomena and that would be the case for us. Other unexplained phenomenon include disembodied voices and Kelly thought she had heard something say "Hey" from a few cells down from one we had all gathered in for an Estes Method Spirit Box session. There is also the sound of shuffling feet, footsteps and the creaking of cell doors. Weird anomalies have been caught in pictures. And many people have been touched in the jail. Kelly felt as though something touched her hair and her calf in one of the cells and also her bracelets. When the Ghost Hunters investigated this location during Season 9, Amy Bruni was scratched on her arm.

Vishi Garig is the Archive Specialist at the jail and she witnessed an apparition standing at the end of one of the cell blocks by an open cell door.  This spirit was wearing a long gray cotton shirt that she could tell was wrinkled, but she knew this was a spirit because everything other than the shirt was transparent. Plus, she was the only person in the jail. A man had been walking on the maximum security side of the jail and something he couldn't see grabbed his elbow inside one of the cells.

Kelly and I started in an end cell where she felt like there was a presence. We set up an EMF and the flashlight and started a dowsing rod session. The spirit indicated that it was afraid of the EMF detector. (Dowsing Rod 1) A couple of the doors were weird in the jail as the window that would allow an officer to look inside a block without actually going in was pointing outward rather then inward, so we weren't sure of the purpose of the doors. Kelly saved a lizard we found in one of the cells and she put him outside. We then did an Estes Session with the spirit box. Christine and Sarah joined us. (Estes Session 1) We got some pretty amazing answers there with names and other responses, including that angry cursing one. We decided to move to a different cell upstairs and we were just visiting as we set up equipment and the flashlight turned itself on and then off. We did a second (Estes Session 2), so right after this point, Diane just started firing off answers, which made us wonder if she was answering questions being asked in a nearby cell. So we moved. We decided to use the Spirit Box in the open. (Spirit Box) I'm thinking that the "life" might have been Mike since I heard that name before. And then we got that clear five. Then Christine and Sarah tried their hand at the Estes Method. (Christine Estes) So Christine heard a female voice and she was clearly scared. Then Sarah gave it a try. (Sarah Estes) They got initiated good!

We all gathered in a cell together and turned on the Spirit Box. (Group Estes) We got a "yes" and "It's me." I decided to do the Estes Method because it was hard to hear. (Diane Group Estes) I loved that the response was "boo" to what you want to say to Jo. I find it interesting that we got Michael and Em, which could be Emily and her husband Mike? And I love when Christine asks why the dowsing rods keep pointing at Luke and I say "I don't know dammit." Emily picked up some EVP. On this first one she asks about the cell that they are in and I believe they are doing a dowsing rod session. (Emily Cell No) And here is is amped. (Emily Cell No Amped) Definitely sounds like a male voice saying no. And what is convincing to us is that if this had been Emily's husband saying that, it would contradict that she is saying that the rods indicate yes and she says something else again really quickly, which we don't think she would had her husband said the no.

We then investigated outside where the gallows had been located. We set up the EMF detector and flashlight and then Kelly started a dowsing rod session and Diane did the Estes Method with the Spirit Box. We seemed to be communicating with some other type of entity. (Gallows Investigation) There was that sentence "Go to the box" and now we wonder if it was the sweat box that was used for solitary confinement. We didn't know about the sweat box until Diane researched this episode after the investigation. And then the "That's Laughable." Flashlight turned on as well. And about 2 minutes after the flashlight turned on, it turned off again and then turned right back on. The rest of the group joined us outside and we talked to Jo for a moment. (Jo Dad) That part where we were talking about Sarah, we had a Sarah with us, but Jo's wife's name is Sarah too.

 Jo seemed to be the center of much of our activity, which was interesting because it seemed that her father was trying to communicate with her. He passed away when Jo was 13 and from talking to her at dinner, even though she was probably the same age as us, it still was painful for her. This revealed itself in dowsing rod sessions and perhaps this EVP that Emily caught. (Emily Jo EVP) It's really hard to hear what we heard, so here is the part we want you to hear amped. (Emily Jo EVP Amped) Sure sounds like a breathy Jo to us. Now later, Emily asks the spirit about this and we think there might be a couple of things here. (Emily EVP Hans) Now we will amp the two places we hear EVPs. (Emily EVP Hans Amped) We hear wow and Hans. Here's (Hans EVP) again. Hans is Jo's father's name.

We had some very interesting experiences at this old jail. It seemed as though we were getting communication with some former occupants and possibly Jo's father. Is the Old Clay County Jail haunted? That is for you to decide!