Thursday, June 24, 2021

Ep. 390 - 1872 Denham Inn

Moment in Oddity - Man Found Dead in Dinosaur Statue

Chalk this oddity up to a very weird death that leaves behind more questions then answers. Many of you probably heard the story reported several weeks ago about a body being found inside the leg of a dinosaur statue. This statue was a papier-mâché figure in the shape of a Stegasaurus that sat outside of the Cubic Building in Barcelona Spain. It was being used as an advertisement for an old cinema. A father and son were walking by the statue when they caught the unmistakable scent of death. The father looked through a crack in the leg of the dinosaur and saw the body of a man. He quickly called the authorities and three fire brigades worked to free the body. This was a 39-year-old man who had been reported missing by his family. There was no foul play involved, but this is where things get even weirder. The man was found upside down in the leg and the authorities reasoned that he had been trying to retrieve a dropped cell phone. Question number 1 is how did the cell phone end up dropped inside a dinosaur statue that is four-legged and parallel to the ground? Question number 2 is how did this guy get inside the statue? The only opening we saw was through the mouth and it didn't seem big enough for a man to crawl through, but even if he did, this brings us to Question number 3. Why wouldn't he cry for help? We don't know cause of death, so perhaps he fell onto his head. Hopefully the results of an autopsy are released soon and we get some answers because finding this missing man dead inside a dinosaur statue, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Denali Summited For First Time

In the month of June, on the 7th, in 1913, Alaskan missionary Hudson Stuck led the first successful ascent of Denali. The mountain was formerly known as Mt. McKinley and is today inside the Denali National Park and Preserve. It is the highest point on the American continent standing at 20,320 feet and fittingly, the name "Denali" comes from the Koyukon people of Alaskan Athabaskans and means "the high one." The name change officially to Denali came in 2015. Hudson Stuck was an amateur mountaineer who became archdeacon of the Episcopal Church in Yukon, Alaska in 1905. In 1913, he recruited three men to join him in an ascent of Denali. These were Harry Karstens, Walter Harper and Robert Tatum. The climb took them seven-and-a-half weeks and they did it all with just pick axes. They had to endure temperatures that dropped to minus 80 degrees and one of their camps caught fire, destroying supplies and food. Denali's true summit is its south peak and Stuck was the first to reach it. Harry Karstens would go on to become Denali National Park and Preserve's first superintendent.

1872 Denham Inn  

Monticello, Florida has a claim to being the South's most haunted town. The 1872 Denham Inn is located in Monticello and when we realized we had a chance to pass through on a road trip to New Orleans, we decided to book a night in this Bed and Breakfast's most haunted room: The Blue Room. On this episode, we'll share the history, haunts and our investigation of the 1872 Denham Inn! 

Monticello is located in the panhandle of Florida, about 26 miles east of Tallahassee. The county it resides in is Jefferson County, so we bet you can guess where Monticello gets its name from. We headed to the Letchworth-Love Mounds before checking into the inn. These mounds are very overgrown, but you can tell that they are not part of the natural topography. This is Florida's tallest Native American ceremonial mound. And we emphasize the ceremonial part because many of these Native American mounds that are found throughout America are burial mounds. No bones were ever found inside these mounds. 

This ceremonial mound was built between 1,100 and 1,800 years ago and rises 51 feet. Like other mounds, these were built by carrying dirt in baskets and dumping it until the large hill is formed. The people who built the mound are believed be part of the Weedon Island Culture. They were in this area between 200 and 450 AD. Artifacts here though lead archaeologists to believe that some group of people have lived here for 10,000 years. There are two other mound sites in this part of Florida. They used the mound to conduct rituals, have ceremonies and play games. The people lived in huts nearby and grew maize. A little fun fact that connects Thomas Jefferson to all of this is that he once excavated a Native American mound. And the county here is named Jefferson. Some historians actually claim that Jefferson is the "Father of American Archaeology" because of this effort.

John Denham was a hard working man who became very successful. His parents, Andrew and Jane Denham, immigrated from Dunbar, Scotland to Baltimore, Maryland in 1832, when John was fourteen-years-old. They family eventually made their way to Monticello, Florida and this is where Denham would spend the rest of his life. He got into the export and import business, shipping merchandise down the St. Marks River to foreign ports. He became a cotton king. John married Caroline Ellen Marvin in 1848. The couple would have eleven children and several of them would die young based on the records on gravestones. The children were Robert, Josephine, Martha, John Jr., Martha, Agnes, Jane, Caroline, Thomas, Jessie and Eliza. Two daughters and a son would live into their 80s and three of the Denham daughters, Agnes, Caroline and Eliza, all died in 1940. The Denham Family are all buried at the Roseland Cemetery in Monticello. John and Caroline built their first home at the corner of Palmer Mill Street.

When the Civil War broke out, most of the businesses in Monticello were shut down, but Denham had aligned himself with the Confederacy and he used his business to keep the Confederate Army supplied. After the war, Denham was still flush with cash and he decided he wanted to build his family a much bigger home. This would be a 5000 square foot, two story house just blocks away from the first house. Denham supervised all of the construction work and requested something that was not being added to many houses at that time in the early 1870s and that was a cupola. These were used by women in the past to watch for ships coming in on the coast or by plantation owners so they could keep an eye on the work in the fields. John was one of these guys who wanted the best of everything. He was totally into that age-old adage of keeping up with the Joneses, so he used that cupola to keep an eye on the Joneses. He wanted to make sure that he was doing better than them. Every evening, he would carry a lantern up to the cupola and look out over the area.

And that seems to be one of the most seen bits of paranormal activity at the Denham Inn, a light coming from the cupola and a shadowy figure sitting up there. John Denham was only 54 when he died at his home in 1874. There were times when the house stood empty, but neighbors said that the house was not silent. They would hear music coming from the house and disembodied voices. And John is not the only ghost here. There is a ghost who has been nicknamed Aunt Sarah that is here too. Some guests have claimed to capture her in pictures. She is thought to have been John's unmarried sister. She never married, but rumors claim that she kept company with a popular and married politician. He would meet up with her in her room. That is today the room known as the Blue Room. This room is said to have the most activity and this is where we stayed for the evening. Children guests claim to be tucked into bed by someone they can't see. She likes to sit in the rocking chair in this room and has been seen there as an apparition and sometimes the rocking chair just moves on its own. The television turns on and off by itself too. We also saw a story claiming that there is a Lady in White here that might be wearing a wedding dress and is seen running across the yard.

There was no rocking chair in the room, just a plush seat with a matching ottoman. The room is painted blue, which is where it gets its nickname from. A modern ceiling fan hung from the original slat board ceiling and the furniture was antique. The bathroom was more modern with a little closet off of it where we found a creepy doll. Everything was very nice and comfortable. Downstairs there is a sitting room/parlor that leads into a dining room with a mural on the wall that looked like trees. The rooms are decorated with antiques. There are thirteen rooms in total with eight fireplaces in the house. We met Pat Inmon, the Innkeeper who restored the house and runs it as the Bed and Breakfast. She was a nice lady. My parents stayed across the hall from us - we made sure to book them a non-haunted room. 

We started investigating after we brought our stuff up to our room on the second floor. We got out the EMF, which would record no activity throughout the investigation, the dowsing rods, the flashlight and a little recorder. I set up the EMF and flashlight right next to each other on the mantel and we asked the spirits to light things up. Then Kelly started using the dowsing rods. (Denham Dowsing 1) So clearly the female spirit we were chatting with was not interested in talking to us. But we will find that there are many more spirits here that are interested in engaging.

We started an Estes Method Spirit Box Session and Diane got the name "Mike" (Session Mike) and then a whole lot of nothing while Kelly went into the bathroom to unpack and freshen up. Then she came back out and several spirits started coming through the box. I was not wearing the noise cancelling headphones for this, only one ear bud so I could hear the spirit box better, but also ask questions. (Spirit Box Session) We possibly had two children, three and six. That is a possibility since the Denham's had several children who died young. Many of their burials have no birth date, so it is hard to peg who these two could be. Jane Palmer Denham does have dates and she was six when she died.

So we had turned off the recorder and finished our investigation, but it wasn't over for the spirits. It was amazing what happened next. Diane shares the experience. 

We went off to dinner and met up with Suzanne, her son Drew and his friend Arrian. We ate at Mafia Pizza, which is set up like a speakeasy and even had the outline of a body marked off on the floor. Good food and beer! Then we met Linda Schuyler Ford for our private ghost tour. She was amazing and we will hopefully be joined on a future episode by Linda to share the haunts of Monticello. We got to go inside another haunted jail where the EMF pinged orange the entire time, so we assumed it was something about the electrical. Linda told us about some of the haunts at the Denham Inn, which includes people seeing the Lady in White walk across behind the house between the main house and the cottage in the back. The chandelier in the dining room did blink twice while we were standing outside, but we chalked it up to something electrical. She did share her own personal experience at the Denham Inn too. (Linda Denham)

Nothing happened through the night. No spirits woke us up. We had a great breakfast and then got to go up to the cupola. It was stuffy and probably had a great view before the live oaks got so big. There was the chair sitting there in case John wanted to have a seat. We didn't sit down. Is the 1872 Denham Inn haunted? That is for you to decide!

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: 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 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!