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!

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