Thursday, July 29, 2021

HGB Ep. 395 - Haunted Taverns of Annapolis

Moment in Oddity - Wojtek the Bear (Suggested by: Bill Richardson)

If we told you that there was a World War II hero that you had probably never heard of that was a beer drinker and cigarette smoker, you'd probably just shrug your shoulders. But what if we told you that the hero was a brown bear? His name was Wojtek and he served with the 22nd Transport Company's Artillery Division in the Polish 2nd Corps. The Polish soldiers found Wojtek as an abandoned cub in the mountains of Iran. They nursed the bear with a bottle of condensed milk. He learned to imitate the soldiers and could carry heavy supply boxes that usually took at least two men to haul. He would play fight with the troops and they taught him how to salute. Soldiers would snuggle with him for warmth and taught him some of their bad habits like drinking coffee and beer and chewing on cigarettes. Wojtek fought alongside the troops in the Battle of Monte Cassino. He carried live ammunition to help load the guns. Wojtek ended up on a farm in Scotland, in a village called Hutton in Berwickshire. He died in 1963. Princes Street Garden in Edinburgh has a tribute to Wojtek in the form of a bronze statue that was dedicated in 2015. A brown bear as Polish soldier, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - First Test Tube Baby Born

In the month of July, on the 25th, in 1978, the first test tube baby was born. We don't call them test tube babies today. People are more familiar with the term in vitro fertilization. Lesley and Peter Brown had trouble getting pregnant because Lesley had blocked fallopian tubes. British gynecologist Patrick Steptoe and scientist Robert Edwards removed a mature egg from Lesley's ovaries and fertilized it with her husband's sperm in a laboratory dish and then implanted the embryo into Lesley's uterus. It was very controversial at the time. The experiment worked and Louise Joy Brown was born via caesarean section, weighing in at 5 pounds, 12 ounces. The Browns had a second daughter via IVF a few years later. Louise, the original test tube baby, would have her own baby in 2006, naturally.

Haunted Taverns of Annapolis (Suggested by: Amanda Prouty)

Annapolis, Maryland has hundreds of years of history behind it. First settled by Puritans in the mid-1600s, it grew into an important coastal city of historical significance and is today the capital of the state of Maryland. The city has more 18th century structures still standing than any other city in the United States. Some of those structures are taverns and several of those are said to be haunted. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the taverns of Annapolis!

Annapolis was settled in 1649 by Puritans who had arrived from Virginia. They named their new town Providence. Lord Baltimore later owned the colony started here and had the town named after his wife, Anne Arundel Towne. Sir Francis Nicholson was Royal Governor of Maryland from 1694 to 1698 and moved the capital to Annapolis and named it after Princess Anne who was to be heir of the throne. Anne became Queen in 1702, and in 1708 she chartered Annapolis as a city and this bit of history can still be seen in Maryland's very unique state flag, which features her royal badge. In 1783, the city became the temporary capital of America after the signing of the Treaty of Paris and it would be here that General George Washington would resign his commission as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army.

The design of the now capital of the United States, Washington, D.C., was inspired by the plans laid out by Sir Francis. President Washington liked the baroque streets that were laid out with focal point circles that had radiating streets, giving Annapolis centers of importance like the State House and St. Anne's Episcopal Church. The town became wealthy thanks to shipping and the United States Naval Academy would be established here in 1845. *Rabbit Hole: Lt. James Sutton was serving at the U.S. Naval Academy when he shot himself in the head in front of several witnesses. At least that is what a group of naval officers testified to in 1907. The spirit of Lt. Sutton would not rest though because that was a lie. His ghost appeared to his mother and sister in Portland, Oregon and told them that he had not killed himself, but that he had been severely beaten before he was shot. The Sutton Family demanded an investigation and the body was exhumed and it was true that he had been badly beaten. No charges were ever filed though.* Like all towns, Annapolis was full of taverns and many of those still exist today and several of them have ghosts.

Rams Head Tavern

Rams Head Tavern is located at 33 West Street. This is a dark bar connected to a restaurant. The bar has a low ceiling with rows of hanging pewter mugs. The walls are brick and there is a fireplace off to one side. Also, in the back half of the bar, one will find a bed leg sticking through the ceiling. The building has been here a long time and hosted a number of businesses. During the 1700s, the property here was owned by the St. Anne’s Parish. William Reynolds, who was a venture capitalist, hatter and dry goods salesman, rented the building for one of his businesses. By 1769, Reynolds had turned his sights elsewhere and he sublet the building to Samuel Chase. Chase represented the state of Maryland when he signed the Declaration of Independence and went on to become an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court for 15 years. He faced impeachment for being too biased in his judgements on the court, but was acquitted.  William Faris would be the next entrepreneur to take over the building and he opened a clock and silversmith shop called the "Crown and Dial." 

In 1794, the “Sign of the Green Tree” opened in the space and we're not exactly sure what this was, but it would seem that a brothel was involved in some way. One of the women who worked there was supposedly named Amy. Remember that name. The Farmers Bank of Maryland acquired the property in 1812. Other businesses named this address as home, including a boarding house and other taverns. The next most prominent business would be the one that opened in 1989. Bill and Paula Muehlhauser bought the building and refurbished it into the Ram's Head Tavern. And it has remained family-owned under that name ever since. Through the years, Ram's Head Tavern has expanded. The Muehlhauser's bought the dry cleaners next door in 1992 and opened a restaurant and in 1993 they bought the barber shop next to that to increase capacity. 

The legend connected to this property is connected to Amy. There is not a lot of historical proof behind the story. This is a typical story for a young woman in the 18th century without many options. She was only 16 years old when she started working at the brothel. No one knows for sure how she came to her demise, whether it was an accident or murder, but her bed came crashing through the floor and her neck broke. One bed post from that bed went through the floor and now sticks out of the ceiling of the bar. The apparition of Amy started showing up almost immediately after her death. A woman named Beverly Litsinger was investigating the Ram's Head and she captured a shadowy image in a picture that is believed to be Amy. 

During renovations, workers found the name "Amy" written in the concrete of one of the pillars. Amy's perfume is smelled and people claim she is a fun-loving and flirtatious specter. She giggles often, ruffles hair, touches faces, spills the drinks of women and knocks women off their chairs.  Many female employees feel that Amy sees them as competiton and she often causes them to spill plates and turns off equipment they are trying to use. There are other spirits here as well. There is an elderly woman that has been seen and a Civil War soldier in a Union uniform. These spirits move furniture and the electric receipt calculator has worked when not plugged in to an outlet. The phone would ring over and over with nobody on the other end of the line. The soldier has been seen standing or sitting at the bar, drinking a beer. And if a beer is left unattended for too long, the beer will disappear from the glass.


O'Brien's is located at 113 Main Street and was built in 1774. It was first opned as the Rose & Crown, that was a watering hole for both rebels and loyalist tories.The upstairs was a brothel for a time and the storage rooms had been tiny bedrooms or probably cribs. In 1836, the building became Sam’s Café, the only place at the time to eat and dance in downtown Annapolis. Sailors and merchants loved to hang out here. The first Cabaret Theatre was established here in 1964. In the 1970s, Fran O’Brien opened a restaurant that he named for himself. He had played for the Washington Redskins as a defensive lineman. O'Brien's Oyster Bar and Grill opened here in 1999. They refer to themselves on their website as "Your favorite haunted banquet house" and claim to have spirits. A newspaper article also claimed there were ghosts here. They didn't share any stories in those places, but on their Facebook Page they said "Ours like to stack chairs at night in odd places. This has happened more than once." A local ghost hunter named Beverly Litsinger claims that O'Brien's is "so haunted its ridiculous." 

Reynolds Tavern

Reynolds Tavern is located at 7 Church Circle, facing St. Anne's Episcopal Church, and this is also home to the 1747 Pub. The building was constructed in 1737. We don't know by who, but by 1747 a man named William Reynolds was leasing the property as a tavern and a hat shop named “Beaver and Lace’d Hat.” This was a place where business was conducted. Mary, his third wife, took over the property when William died in 1777. William's son-in-law took over the tavern after Mary passed away in 1785 and he opened it as a boarding house. A John Davidson then bought the house and his widow would run it as a boarding house until 1811. The Farmers Bank of Maryland bought it in 1812, but realized it wouldn't work well as a bank. They built the bank next door and used the tavern as the cashier's private residence. The building was bought 1935 by Standard Oil Company and it hoped to demolish the structure and rebuild it as a filling station. There was an outcry over destroying the historic building and the location really wasn't suited to a gas station. 

The next main owner of the building would be the Female Orphan Society who bought it in the 1950s and converted into the Annapolis Public Library. Ironically, the 1747 Pub that is currently in the basement here had been the space used for the Children's Library. The library outgrew the space and in 1974 the National Trust for Historic Preservation took over the space and leased it to the Historic Annapolis Foundation. There were many tries at restoring the building back to its original purpose of a tavern, but that really didn't take off until 2002 when Jill and Andrew Petit bought the building and in a tip back to the original owner, they named the new tavern Reynolds Tavern.

A fun legend connected to the tavern claims that George Washington liked to frequent this pub. He apparently took a liking to Mrs. Reynolds and when he professed his love to her, Mr. Reynolds ran him out of the tavern. We don't know if there is any truth to this, but its fun to imagine Reynolds chasing Washington down the street. The pub has quotes from the Founding Fathers on the wall, perhaps to recognize that some of them were patrons of the tavern. Other stories include ghosts. Items in the kitchen would be moved by things unseen and once an employee heard a female voice singing Christmas Carols in a room they found to be empty. Other things experienced by the Petits were finding indentations in the beds upstairs, a spiral notebook in the office moved on its own and seeing shadowy figures.

The Petits and their employees experienced so many strange things that in 2004 they brought in paranormal investigators. This would be the Maryland Ghost and Spirit Society and sensitive Beverly Litsinger was their leader. The group thinks they interacted with at least five spirits in the tavern. One piece of evidence they gathered was an extreme temperature change in a corner of the room. The temp gun registered a sudden drop in the temperature followed by a spike in heat. Later, a dish suddenly broke in the kitchen where nobody was located. Litsinger claimed to see Mary Reynolds and said, "When I saw Mary, I just stood there dumfounded. She was a tiny woman - very thin - and she was lying on the bed, where I saw the covers move by themselves." There was quite a bit of evidence collected, but so much hype was drummed up and the activity started to amp up that the Petits decided to stop any further investigations.  

Mary has proven to be a helpful ghost. One day, an employee had filled a rucksack with frozen Filet Mignon. Before he was able to leave the tavern, the strap on the bag broke and when it hit the floor, the top opened and spilled out the stolen meat. If patrons get drunk and disorderly, Mary dumps drinks on them or knocks food over onto them or if they go to the restroom, she'll lock them inside.

Middleton Tavern

Middleton Tavern is located at 2 Market Place. Much like Reynolds Tavern, Middleton Tavern hosted some of the nation's earliest leaders. Guests included Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and members of the Continental Congress. The building was here starting at least by 1740 and was owned by a wealthy widow named Elizabeth Bennett. She sold the property in 1750 to Horatio Middleton probably because the stockades were nearby and it would get to be a bit much. There was also a gibbet there, which was a type of gallows where bodies would be wrapped in chains and left to be picked over by birds. Horatio opened an inn that catered mainly to seafarers. Middleton himself owned a ferry that went between the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay and Annapolis. One person who was carried on this ferry in 1781 was Tench Tilghman who was delivering the news that General Cornwallis had surrendered. When Horatio died, his widow Anne ran the operation and then later, their son Samuel took over the tavern and continued to run the ferry. His son Gilbert would take over later. By 1818, Annapolis mayor John Randall owned the tavern and he invited President James Monroe to stay and he did so from May 28th to 30th in 1818. At the time of the Civil War, this operated as the Marx Hotel, named for owner Frederick Marx.

This was a beautiful tavern that hosted community events, the Maryland Jockey Club, the Annapolis Masons and the Tuesday Club, which was a group of what was described as the town's most "distinguished wits." People came to enjoy the gardens that spread from Prince George Street to the waterfront, to drink, eat, smoke and gamble. Cleo and Mary Apostol operated the Mandris Restaurant starting in 1933 and they continued that for thirty-five years. In 1968, Jerry Hardesty bought the property and he restored it back to its prior glory and named it Middleton Tavern for the family that had operated it at the very beginning. There were two fires, one in 1970 and another in 1973, but Jerry pushed forward. An upgrade came in 1983 when the tavern was expanded to add an oyster bar.

There are supposedly three spirits in this building. One is a Revolutionary War soldier who hangs out in the first floor dining room. Another is a shadow figure that flits about the first floor and the third is a man dressed in 18th century seaman's attire who likes to look out the windows. Bartender Mike Conroy told The Ghost in My Room Podcast some of his experiences while working at the tavern. He was serving the manager Josh at the bar and wiping down bottles when he saw a dark figure moving behind Josh and he described the figure as coasting out of the bar as if on wheels and he thought it was almost floating. He tried to put it out of his mind, but then Josh told him that the hair on the back of his head felt like it was standing up with an electrical charge. Mike thinks this was Roland who is the most well-known ghost at Middleton Tavern. 

When Roland is around, there is usually the smell of cigar smoke. He likes to knock glasses over and pushes plates off shelves. He likes to move bottles and even sneak alcohol, which is why many believe he had been a patron here in the late 1770s and he was said to have mooched drinks from people. An employee saw him once and he was wearing colonial clothing. He at first thought he was a real person, but when he turned back to ask if he could get him a glass of water, he had disappeared. Melissa Huston who is a guide with Annapolis Tours and Crawls claims to have had Roland mess with her too. She was standing up telling stories to her tour group when a full water glass slid across the table and fell on the floor behind her. It took her a minute to compose herself. The group was all looking at the glass very shocked and they would have seen if a human had done it.

There is a fourth ghost connected to the tavern, but this one is seen outside. This spirit is seen on Franklin Street and people think this is Alexander Hastings who was beaten to death during a robbery outside of the tavern in the late 1700s. Witnesses claim to see the shadowy figure of a man running through the alley and yelling for help, usually being chased by other shadows. So this is probably something residual.

These taverns are some of the oldest bars in the country. Do they still host patrons from another time? Are these taverns in Annapolis haunted? That is for you to decide!

*Fun Fact: Many bartenders will do a toast to the house by tapping their drink on the bar twice.*

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Ep. 394 - Quebec City

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Moment in Oddity - Devil's Throat Cave

There are many places in the world that have the word "devil" in their names and we have talked about many of them on the podcast. One that we recently learned about is the Devil's Throat Cave in Bulgaria. This is hidden deep in the Trigrad Gorge in the Rhodope Mountains. The cave dates back around 175,000 years. There are a few legends connected to the cave and one of these is about Orpheus, the Greek poet and musician who was taught to play the lyre by Apollo. Orpheus descended into the underworld through the Devil's Throat to find his beloved Euredice. He found her, but Hades wouldn't let her go unless Orpheus promised not to look at her until they were on the surface. Unfortunately, he did look back once to make sure she was still with him and her shadow slowly faded. Orpheus wept for seven days and those tears created a spring in the cave, which reputedly has healing properties and can grant wishes. There is a waterfall inside the cave in this area that is so loud, the room is called the "Booming Hall" and this is the highest underground waterfall. This room is big enough to fit a two-story building inside. The natural entrance to the cave resembles a devil's head and inside there is a devil's head carved near the entrance. There is also a relief of a man and people claim that the figure of the Virgin Mary can be seen in the spring. A really scary thing about the cave is that anything that falls into the spring is lost in a 492 foot tunnel. Nobody has been able to figure out or map the water labyrinth and one attempt to do this in 1970, killed two scuba divers, whose bodies were never found. To get out of the cave, visitors have to climb down 301 steep steps. The Devil's Throat Cave has some very unique features and it certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Hank Aaron Hits 500th Home Run

In the month of July, on the 14th, in 1968, Hank Aaron hit his 500th home run. Last week, Kelly and I watched baseball's All Star Game and they started with a dedication to Hank Aaron who was one of the greatest baseball players of all time. Unfortunately, Aaron passed away at the beginning of this year, which at the time of recording is 2021. He was born in Alabama in 1934 and was a star athlete in school. He was still a teenager when he signed with the Negro League's Mobile Black Bears. He moved onto the Indianapolis Clowns and in 1953 he got a contract with the National League's Milwaukee Braves. When he debuted with them on April 13 in 1954, he was the last Negro league baseball player on a major league roster. Aaron mostly played right field and he played for 23 seasons, 21 of them with the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves. He and his family endured racial threats throughout his career and he became active in the Civil Rights Movement. Aaron went on to hit 755 home runs in his career, breaking Babe Ruth's record along the way. He retired in 1976, but continued with baseball in the front offices. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002.

Quebec City

Québec City is the capital city of the province of Quebec and sits along the Saint Lawrence River. The city is mostly French speaking as it was established by the French. This is an area of natural beauty and centuries of history. Several locations here that incorporate those two elements are reputedly haunted. These locations include Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Plains of Abraham, Chateau Frontenac Hotel and Montmorency Falls. Join us as we explore the history and haunts of Quebec City in Canada!

The Algonquian People called this area Kebec, meaning "where the river narrows." This was the Saint Lawrence River and it brought Explorer Jacques Cartier here in 1535. An Iroquoian settlement was already here and Cartier would return in 1541 to establish the first French settlement in North America, Fort Charlesbourg-Royal. The settlement didn't last long. It wouldn't be until 1608 that French explorer Samuel de Champlain would establish another settlement. He would build fortified city walls that still stand today and are part of a World Heritage UNESCO site. English privateers captured the fledgling city in 1629, during the Anglo-French War. Champlain would manage to negotiate a return to French hands with a very unique agreement. French King Louis XIII had to pay the dowry of English King Charles' wife. Despite being the large capital city it is today, Quebec City grew slowly and was dominated by members of religious orders in those early years.

Quebec City would face more conflict. The French and Indian Wars would use the city as a launching point for raids on New England, the English would attack in 1690 and the Seven Years' War would leave the city captured by the British in 1759. One of the battles of that war, Battle of the Plains of Abraham, would leave spiritual residue behind, which we'll cover in a bit. The city would be lost permanently by the French. The British would later agree to let the original Quebecois to maintain their Catholic roots and to speak French. This would be a good move because it kept these original citizens from joining the American rebels during the American Revolution. That didn't stop the Americans from trying to take Quebec City in 1775. The British Regulars and Canadian Militia held them off and the Americans would not attack again, not even during the War of 1812. The Citadelle of Quebec was built in 1820 to further protect the city. Quebec City eventually grew to the third largest port city in North America in the early 19th century. 

The city would take center stage during World War II with two meetings between the Allied leadership as they planned the D-Day invasion. The Chateau Frontenac was one of the locations they used for these meetings. It's one of our haunted locations as well. With such a long history and battles being fought here, it's not surprising that some of the historic locations in Quebec City have ghost stories. There are several ghost tours offered here, one of which looks like a fun scavenger hunt.

Cathedral of the Holy Trinity

The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity was the first Anglican cathedral built outside of the British Isles and it is located here in Quebec City. The cathedral was built between 1800 and 1804 under the direction of King George III, who donated religious objects to the church. A special pew was made for him in the cathedral. The architects were William Hall and William Robe and they used London's Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields as their model. The spire atop the cathedral made it the tallest structure in Quebec City for many years. The building was constructed from grey stone and in the shape of a parallelpiped, which has three sets of four parallel edges. There are oval-shaped windows that had once been cartouches bearing the royal coat of arms. Bells were added in 1830 and these are the oldest change-ringing bells in Canada. These kinds of bells are very unique and rare in Canada and are rung in elaborate changing sequences. The same foundry that cast the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, Big Ben and the Jean-Baptiste bell of the Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal - Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London - cast these bells. The spirit that haunts the cathedral is thought to have been attached to a body that was supposedly buried underneath the building. This spirit likes to play the organ. People will be sitting in the church and hear organ music when no one is sitting at the organ. There is another legend that claims that the body buried under the cathedral was a baby and that the spirit is that of the mother looking for her child. A female spirit is sometimes seen floating in the balcony. Organists claim to hear a woman crying when they practice. If a toy is placed on the organ, the church stays quiet.

Plains of Abraham

The Plains of Abraham was the setting of the battle named for it during the Seven Years War that took place on September 13, 1759. The name of the area came from the farmer who owned the land, Abraham Martin. This was a battle between the British and the French and didn't last long. American colonists, Canadian militia and First Nation tribes also took part and those of us in America are more familiar with the name French and Indian War. James Wolfe was the commanding officer of the British forces and he and his men arrived in June of 1759 and held positions along the St. Lawrence River. This wasn't going to be easy for the British. In order to attack the French, they would have to cross the strong flow of the St. Lawrence River and get past the battery of guns at the fort. Wolfe led his men in their first attempt in July, but were quickly rebuffed. 

The leader of the French was Louis-Joseph, Marquis de Montcalm. He was resistant to coming out in open attack and Wolfe thought perhaps he could get him to move if he cut off supplies to the city. When that didn't work, he had his forces start hitting spots in the countryside around Quebec City. This still didn't work, so he made a bold move  to sail several ships past the fort batteries and it worked. They made it upriver and this gave Wolfe the opportunity to attack from a better position. In the wee hours of the morning on September 13th, Wolfe's men quietly made their way to a plateau and stretched across the Plains of Abraham in a horseshoe formation.

The French made their move and started firing as they approached the British, while the British waited until the French got closer and released such a volley that the French quickly retreated. Wolfe was hit three times in the exchange and reputedly said that he would have peace since he knew the French were in retreat. He then died, as did several other British officers, leaving the battle without much direction. The French countered with a relief force, which quickly pulled back as well. Montcalm's army was allowed to escape, but he had been mortally wounded and died the next morning. In total, the battle lasted about an hour, but would be one of the most significant of the war as the British captured Quebec and would never lose it again. About 180 men were killed with over a thousand wounded.

Like so many other battlefields, this one is said to be haunted and some even claim that this is the most haunted site in Quebec. The battle had been fought at midday and this is when many apparitions have been seen, mostly as residual troops still carrying on a battle. There are also solitary spirits of soldiers from the British and the French seen. They are usually wearing battle-scarred uniforms. There are tunnels near the field and these are particular hotspots for paranormal activity. People claimed to be touched by something they can't see in the tunnels and there is the strong smell of gunpowder sometimes detected. One person recounted a tale of walking in the tunnels and all of a sudden a soldier appeared and started running toward him, brushing past him with such force that he was nearly knocked down. The date of the battle, September 13th, is when many experiences are reported and these include not only the smell of gunpowder, but sulphur and there are also strange noises like gunshots, cannon fire and screams.  

Montmorency Falls

Near to the Plains of Abraham are the Montmorency Falls. These falls are on an ancient continental margin that is about 7.5 miles from the heart of old Quebec City and are part of the Montmorency Falls Park. They are sourced from the  Montmorency River and drop over a cliff into the Saint Lawrence River and are 272 feet high, which is nearly 100 feet taller than Niagara Falls. Samuel de Champlain named the falls for the Duke of Damville, Charles de Montmorency-Damville, Admiral of France and Brittany. There are many things to see and do at the park. General James Wolfe had built installations near the falls that can still be seen today. There is a cable car that visitors can ride from the foot of the waterfall to the top. A suspension bridge stretches across the entire width of the falls that people can walk across. This is with the water roaring just below your feet. To get back down, people have the option of going down a 487-step panoramic staircase that is along the cliff. There are also zip lines and something called the Via Ferrata, which is a hybrid of hiking and rock climbing. Hikers use metal holds and a steel cable to traverse the rock and there are different levels of difficulty so even kids as young as eight can get in on the fun.

The ghost that is seen here is a Lady in White that is also referred to as the White Lady. She dates back to the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. The legend connected to her claims that her name was Mathilde and she was engaged to marry a young man named Louis in July of 1759. This was at the same time that the British launched their attack near the falls. Louis was a member of the militia and he was killed in the battle. Mathilde was so devastated by his death that she put on her wedding dress and threw herself over the falls. People who see her spirit, claim to see her walking near the top of the falls and others actually see her throw herself into the churning waters at the base of the falls.

Chateau Frontenac Hotel 

One of the most famous hotels in Canada is The Fairmont Chateau Frontenac Hotel. This hotel was one of Canada's railroad hotels, built to attract wealthy tourists to ride on the Canadian Pacific Railway. The building is gorgeous and rises 262 feet and sits prominently on a hill in the historic district of Quebec City, which had once been home to another hotel built in the 1780s. The chateau was named for a former governor of the colony Louis de Buade, count de Palluau et de Frontenac.The hotel was built in 1892 and designed by American architect Bruce Price. The part that catches one's eye right away is the central fortress-like tower that was inspired by medieval chateaus found in France. There are tall chimneys, ornate gables, fancy dormers and large circular and polygonal towers and turrets. The exterior was fashioned from Glenboig bricks out of a region in Scotland and grey stone ashlar. Interior embellishments are just as fancy with wrought iron, carved stone, mahogany panelling and marble staircases. The whole place is just very Gothic.

The Chateau Frontenac opened in 1893 and is one of the most photographed hotels in the world. The Citadel Wing was added in 1899. Several modifications would be done in the twentieth century with a 1926 addition of the central tower designed by architects Edward and William Maxwell. The rue Mont-Carmel was added in 1908. In 1993, the Claude-Pratte Wing was built and this added an interior swimming pool and fitness center. Today, the hotel is run by the Fairmont Hotel chain and features 611 rooms on 18 floors. This hotel also features several ghosts. Apparently, the second floor has the most activity.

It seems only fitting that the namesake of the hotel would be banging around in the hallways. Louis de Baude de Frontenac could be one of the specters you run into if you stay here. He was the third Governor General of New France, which is what they called Quebec. He did this for ten years from 1672 to 1682 and his former home was close to, if not on the actually spot, where the hotel was built. That is why people think he is haunting the place. Either he is mad they built over his home or maybe he just is sticking to the place near his home. He is most often seen in 17th century garb, pacing in the hallways. He had died in his home and before dying, he asked that his heart be mailed to his fiance who was still in France. You can imagine that the poor girl was horrified and had it sent back. And that's why they think Frontenac is at unrest. He is most often seen on that second floor and in the ballroom.

The hotel is near the Plains of Abraham, so as you might suspect, some of those battle-torn spirits from the battlefield have wandered over to the hotel on occasion. They have been spotted both inside and outside of the hotel. And there is a Lady in White here. Not much is known about this spirit other then she wears a white nightgown and is very sad. Her favorite thing to do is to join guests in bed. She just needs a little comforting. Sometimes people wake up and find her just staring down at them from the side of the bed. She is not attached to any particular room, so she could pop up anywhere. 

Someone posted on TripAdvisor, "I am just wondering if anyone has seen a ghost in this hotel. I am staying in the Roosevelt suite and it has a presence I'm sure of it. I've never even believed in ghosts until today as I'm sure I saw I saw a man pass by our living room area!! Let me know if anyone else had anything similar please?"

Quebec City is a very old city with wonderful historic buildings. Are these particular historic spots haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Ep. 393 - Old Baraboo Inn

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Moment in Oddity - Chand Baori Stepwell (Suggested by: Jenny Lynn Raines)

Stepwells are a type of well or pond found in countries like Pakistan or India. They have served a utilitarian purpose for hundreds of years. The first rock-cut stepwells in India date back to 200 AD. Many of these stepwells are many storied and go down several feet into the ground. That's why they are called stepwells, because steps are used to get down to where the water is held. These became places for not only getting water during times of drought, but social gatherings and religious ceremonies were held at these wells also. Some wells had particular goddesses connected to them and gifts or prayers would be offered. The most amazing stepwell is called Chand Baori and it is found in the Indian state of Rajasthan. This is dated to the 8th or 9th century. There is a temple that is part of the complex, along with sculptures and carvings. This stepwell has 3500 very narrow steps that look quite dangerous, leading down thirteen stories. That makes this one of the largest and deepest stepwells in India. This is an amazing man-made structure, but having to take such a treacherous journey to get down to water, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Yul Brynner Born

In the month of July, on the 11th, in 1920, actor and director Yul Brynner was born. He was best known for his role as King Mongkut in the Rodgers and Hammerstein play "The King and I." The story follows the memoirs of Indian born British writer Anna Leonowens who was hired as the governess for the children of the King of Siam. This life-changing role for Brynner almost didn't happen because acting wasn't going well for him and he had decided to go into directing, but once he read the script for the play, he was fascinated by the King. He would go on to play that role 4,625 times on the stage. Those stages included London, touring productions and, of course, Broadway which had two revivals after the original production. He reprised the role in a film version in 1956 for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor. Brynner also won two Tony Awards for the role, making him only one of ten people to have won a Tony and Oscar for the same role. For the role, he shaved his head and since he was Russian born, it gave him an exotic look. Many men copied it, which was a thing at the time because bald heads weren't "in." They called it the "Yul Brynner look." The actor went on to play the role of Ramesses II in "The Ten Commandments" film and a Russian general in "Anastasia." Brynner was a philanderer who was married four times and had numerous affairs throughout his life, one long-term one with Marlene Dietrich. Yul Brynner died of lung cancer on October 10, 1985 at the age of 65. He had given his final performance of the King just a couple months before.

Old Baraboo Inn (Suggested by: Brad Brancel) 

The Old Baraboo Inn is located at 135 Walnut Street in Baraboo, Wisconsin. This location has housed a brothel, a brewery, a boarding house, a speakeasy, saloons, bars and restaurants over nearly 157 years of existence. The building has suffered fires on more than one occasion. There have been deaths here, some because of murder. The historic building has a wild history that has now led to even wilder stories of hauntings. There may be as many as thirty spirits calling this place home in the afterlife. Join us as we explore the history and haunts of the Old Baraboo Inn!

We've visited Baraboo in an episode before because this is one of the homes of the circus. Several circuses got their start here. This would also become the launching place of syndicated newspaper stories and such. Ansel H. Kellogg was editor of the Baraboo Republic and since he was working with minimal staff due to the Civil War, he ordered two pages of printed war news from a Madison newspaper every week and then he would print local Baraboo news on the blank sides in his shop. Pretty soon, other newspapers were running with the idea and now every newspaper in the nation subscribes to articles this way. The technical term for these sources is boilerplates. The Kickapoo and Ho-Chunk tribes were some of the first in the region and the Ho-Chunk still maintain a strong presence here. Evidence of an early group known as Effigy Mound Builders can still be seen in Baraboo. One of the many mounds they built still exists and is known as Man Mound. Because so many of these ceremonial mounds, and possibly burial mounds, have been disturbed and destroyed, it is thought that the area carries paranormal energy that might not be very positive.

Since this was near a river, settlers eventually made their way here. Abe Wood established the settlement in 1838. By 1866 it was an official village and grew big enough to become the county seat of Sauk County. In 1882, Baraboo was incorporated. The city had originally been called Adams, but changed to Baraboo since that was the name of the river. As to the origin of that name, it's hard to know. Some say it is a derivative of the French term for catfish while others maintain its a French surname. It would be here that George and Anna Bender would emigrate from Germany in 1848 and have nine children.

George Bender was a brewer and he brought his knowledge of German lagers with him. Lagers are light and malty and cold-brewed. He and Anna opened the first saloon in Baraboo in 1859 and called it Bender's Saloon. They moved to the South Bridge Street location a few years later, probably in 1864 since a sign on the Baraboo Inn says that it was established in 1864. The Benders built the Miller-Bender Brewery in 1868. George died in 1874 and his son Robert stepped up to help with the brewery operations. Anna decided to turn one of their properties into a boarding house. She opened this on the second level of the saloon in 1876 and called it the Bender Boarding House. Another brewer named Effinger helped with brewery operations and these thrived until the building burned down in 1884. The Benders would no longer brew lager, but they kept the boarding house going, which was thriving as a new train depot started bringing more people to Baraboo.

Anna died sometime around 1890. We searched for a death year, but couldn't find one. She did die at the Bender House and another son named Frank took over the operating of the boarding house and saloon. Frank died in 1904 and a man named August Reineke bought the saloon and renamed it for himself. Legends claim that a brothel was on the upper floor, but we couldn't find when this would be, so perhaps it was at this time. Baraboo was ahead of the curve when it came Prohibition and went completely dry in 1917, forcing Reineke out of business. He offered to sell back the saloon two of the Bender brothers and they reopened as a restaurant. This was a brewery family, so we can imagine that all that went on here was a restaurant. Certainly no speakeasy, no sir! A raid in 1929 would back up our suspicions as the police padlocked the doors afterwards. There is a portion of the place today called the Gangsters' Back Bar where Al Capone would reputedly hang out with his buddies, which lends credence to the speakeasy rumors as well. That raid would be it for the Bender family. They sold the property in the 1930s. 

In 1939, Pierce's Cafe was opened in the location and the history is murky after that with a series of restaurants and bars calling the space home. It was the Strikeout Club when John and Rose Dombroski bought the building in 1962 and they ran it as a bar and store. They changed the name to Old Baraboo Inn in 1964. John died in the front bar area in 1979 when a bowling ball came flying through a front window and scared him so bad, he had a heart attack. So two owners of the property have died on the premises, George Bender and John Dombroski. John and Rose's son, Jack, bought the business at that point and opened Bombo's Pub. Things were good for several years, but eventually a fire burned the building fairly badly and Jack had to help his patrons escape. The last person out of the building would become the eventual new owner, BC Farr. The bar and restaurant sat vacant for 14 years before reopening in 2002 under the ownership of B.C Farr. Farr bought the property in 1998 and spent years and thousands of dollars renovating it. He is still the owner today and he embraces the ghosts at his establishment. 

There are four parts of the bar that are haunted. There are the upstairs apartments, the front bar, the back bar and the basement. It's important to note that much of what is known about the spirits here and even the history, comes from psychics and mediums. As is the case with many haunted locations, the first unexplained happenings started as renovations began. Workers claimed to see shadows moving in rooms out of the corner of their eyes. Music started to be heard and there was nothing that could play it other than radios and this was not radio music. It sounded live. As did the clinking of glasses. There was disembodied laughing and talking too. The crew would turn all the lights off at night before leaving and when they returned in the morning, they would find the lights on.

The new owner Farr witnessed many things. A Wisconsin State Journal article by Doug Erickson from July 2005 featured many of his experiences. He said, "I don't really care what people think, I know what I've seen." He claims to have seen a broom float across the kitchen, seen dishes fly off racks by themselves and his tools would go missing or get moved around while he was renovating. When it comes to the walk-in refrigerator he says, "If (the ghost) doesn't like you, it will shut the door on you and turn the light off."Many times he would hear someone call out his name and when he would answer, there would be no response. If he went to investigate who had called his name, he would find no one else in the building. At first, he was really annoyed thinking someone was playing tricks on him. He would tape the windows and doors shut to see if someone was sneaking inside. He never found anyone and finally had to admit that the place was haunted. Farr feared that patrons wouldn't come to his bar if it was haunted, so he kept quiet about the unexplained things that were happening.

After opening, many of the employees claimed to have paranormal experiences and the cat was out of the bag as they say. Waitress Peggy Tobias claimed to see a full-bodied apparition behind the bar. This is a spirit that everyone thinks is Mary. The story is that Mary once worked in the brothel upstairs and bled to death in the building in the early 1900s. A customer named Char Lotte has seen Mary's ghost on the dance floor. She seems to really like a certain song that plays on the jukebox by Stevie Ray Vaughan called "The House is Rockin'." It is thought that two other women who worked in the brothel also died here. So we have at least three former brothel workers and two owners who have died here. But there could be as many as thirty ghosts as Farr claims.

There are two apartments upstairs. The first tenants in one of the apartments complained to Farr about hearing the loud sound of a piano playing honky tonk music and loud laughter. This was before the bar had opened. A man named Johnny Flores had rented one of the upstairs apartments and he told Erickson that he fled the apartment because he couldn't take this ghostly female voice calling his name in the middle of the night anymore. A female tenant named Brooke Schonenberger claims to have been pestered by a dribble of water that comes down from a kitchen cabinet where nothing is stored. One resident was really startled when a light fixture came crashing down onto a bed from the ceiling.

Food Network, clearly not known for their specialization in hauntings, has declared this location one of the top ten haunted places in America. Other spirits that have been seen here include a cowboy named Jed, an elderly woman, an elderly man, a saloon dancer and a ghost cat. And Al Capone has been seen and caught on EVP, according to some investigators. And then there is Cybil, the Lady in White, that has been seen here. Scents like roses, cigars and old lady perfume have been detected through the years. The bar stools seem to have minds of their own. They spin around and sometimes tip to the side as if asking patrons to hop aboard. Do they charge for rides here? There is a spirit who has been nicknamed "The Whistler." He whistles, of course, and it is usually a happy tune. Of course, the female restroom here is haunted. Former owner Rose Dombroski has been detected by mediums who investigate the restroom. Women who visit the restroom claim to smell her old-fashioned rose perfume. The cowboy Jed is sometimes seen in the restroom too. Mediums claim he died from a fall on the stairs.

And probably the strangest spirits here belong to a boy and a dog. One would not expect to find children spirits in a bar. Apparently, some patrons bring their children along who play in the back bar area. Occasionally they claim to have been playing with other children, even though nobody else has brought children with them. It's assumed they were playing with children ghosts. A little boy ghost and a dog have been captured in pictures. Kelly knows this sensation well from her experiences at the McPike Mansion, patrons claim to feel as though children are climbing up on their laps at the bar.

The Travel Channel Series "Hometown Horrors" featured Baraboo, Wisconsin in one of their episodes and the Old Baraboo Inn was included on that episode. Brenda Block is a resident who appeared on the show and she claimed to have felt something she couldn't see, touch her hair one day as she sat at the bar. When she turned to look behind her, she saw no one. BC Farr appeared on this show and explained that many people were killed in the basement and that there was even an execution pole down there. He also claimed that early gunfights at the saloon took some lives and bullet holes in a couple of walls seem to indicate that this is true. The basement is said to be full of dark energy. In 2016, Dennis Catencamp went down to investigate the basement and got the scare of his life. His flashlight stopped working and he felt like something was crushing his entire body. He ran terrified from the basement. During the episode, a group that included BC, BC's sister, Dennis, Brenda and a psychic went down to explore and, of course, they all felt weird and such, but there was no evidence collected. 

BC Farr also made an appearance on Fright Club with Jack Osbourne and The Ghost Brothers. They were interviewing him about a video that was made there during an investigation. The video featured SLS footage that looked like a couple of spirits get amorous in the former brothel area. While Farr was talking about this, a distinctive shadow is seen behind him. Jack immediately got excited and everybody asked Farr to flip the camera around so that they could see who was in the bar with Farr. There was no one there and on top of that, there was no light source or a window to the outside where the shadow of a human could be made and projected. Then a couple minutes later, a weird shimmering light anomaly appeared over the top of Farr that again, could not be explained. Everybody was real excited and Farr was befuddled as to what happened because he, of course, couldn't see any of this. He just heard the guys all going crazy.  

Poor delivery drivers and salesmen for different products have experienced some weird things. Many of whom have changed their routes to avoid the inn. The Budweiser guy witnessed the apparition of an elderly woman in the front bar and some people think that this is Anna Bender. The man said she was standing in the doorway and glaring at him. He said she was wearing a dress straight out of "Little House on the Prairie." He never returned. Delivery people from Sysco have also been spooked by unexpected encounters. These took place in the kitchen and front bar area and on one instance the kitchen doors were witnessed swinging open and closed on their own.

Many paranormal investigation groups have visited and collected evidence. There have been videos of shadows and orbs and many EVP have been recorded. Creepshow Paranormal has investigated here a couple of times. Rocks have been thrown at them and they've seen shadow figures. Paranormal MD, Mary Marshall said, "I've been investigating in the paranormal field for 18 years. I consider my paranormal experiences at the Old Baraboo Inn some of the most profound and exceptional ever. This property is definitely in my top two favorite haunted locations to visit. In addition, the staff is another top reason for continuing to return to Old Baraboo Inn!"

Melinda Hollis had participated in a ghost hunt here and she told author Amelia Cotter in her book "Where the Party Never Ended: Ghosts of the Old Baraboo Inn, "I visited the Old Baraboo Inn and participated in a ghost hunt. Within the first 30 minutes, I captured what I think was a ghost or spirit on video. Within minutes of capturing the ghost, I suddenly felt hot, my face felt flush and turned red, even my ears felt hot! I became dizzy and had to sit down. I was brought a glass of water and it soon passed. I was told I was possibly hugged by a ghost. The experience was amazing!" Farr also shared many stories with Cotter and one of particular interest seems to be connected to the circus. He told her, "I looked over and there was a guy standing there, a full-body apparition with a blank, death-stare face. He was wearing what looked like a circus shirt. It had blousy sleeves and orange stripes with ruffles. I remember just looking at this guy, and he just looked back at me. Then he slowly disappeared. I pictures him as a juggler or riding a unicycle. He was a fairly stocky guy. Maybe he was attracted to the smell of the prime rib I was preparing. I could tell he liked it."

Cotter also describes a terrifying incident that Farr had with a group of ghost hunters up in the old brothel, "We were hearing babies crying and I was walking down the hall. We had one flashlight on. I had a weird feeling all of a sudden and when I turned around, I looked up and there was a freaking orb - closed to basketball size - just hovering near the ceiling. It started coming at me, and then it stopped. I said, 'I see you. I'm not afraid of you. What's going on? Come talk and try to communicate with us, come on. I know you hear me, come on.' It started growing immensely, like a great big white mist, and then it turned into a black-bodied form, kind of like a bear. I said, 'I'm not afraid of you, come on. Come on.' And it stopped like ten feet away from me, and all these people were just completely freaked out. I stood there looking at it for what felt like a couple of minutes and then it just slowly faded backwards, straight back into the wall. My heart was pounding and the people in the group were like 'Let's get the hell out of here now.' And it felt like something wanted us gone, but like it was just kind of shooing us away. It was just huge and so dark, darker than the darkness around it, and had a kind of a glow, like a shadow figure, but it was a real monster - just huge and black. And you could see through it. We weren't sure if it was Ma Bender up there with us or not. It could have been her though, and could have been Rosie Dombroski, too."

Many photos you can find online feature people posing in front of a sign that reads, "I got ghost bombed at the Old Baraboo Inn." This references a drink one can order at the bar and also the fact that many people entering have some sort of weird experience whether it is a strange feeling or an actual interaction with a ghost. This location sounds like a fun place to get ghost bombed. Is the Old Baraboo Inn Haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:

Amelia Cotter's book "Where the Party Never Ended: Ghosts of the Old Baraboo Inn"

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Ep. 392 - Lyceum Hall

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Moment in Oddity - Abandoned Town of Disneyesque Castles (Suggested by: Gail Frederick)

Near the Black Sea, in Turkey, stands a very unusual abandoned village. Turkish real estate developers, the Yerdelen Brothers bought this land and plotted out a sprawling village that any wanna-be monarch would be happy to buy into. They dubbed their development Buri Al Babas and set out to selling and building 732 mini-castles. This was near the town of Mudurnu, full of curative hot springs, which added another selling point. Each castle would have Gothic-style rooftop terraces and under-floor heating and Jacuzzis on every level. And, of course, they looked like mini-castles complete with turrets and pointed roofs. This place looked like a gnome village from afar, but it was meant for wealthy foreigners and it might have been successful if it had not been for the faltering of Turkey's economy due to terrorist attacks, political coup attempts and the Covid Pandemic. Investors and buyers pulled their money out and the brothers had to declare bankruptcy. Now the abandoned village just features half-completed castles, destroyed landscaping and unfinished dirt roads. An abandoned Disneyesque village in the Turkish forest, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - The Niagara Movement Forms

In the month of July, on the 11th, in 1905, members of the Niagara Movement meet for the first time. This meeting took place on the Canadian side of the Niagara Falls. The Niagara Movement was a group of African American men, made up of entrepreneurs, scholars and lawyers with W.E.B. Du Bois being one of those men. The meeting lasted for three days and the men laid out plans to push back against racial segregation and hate crimes. This would be the precursor to the later civil rights movement. Booker T. Washington had pushed more of an appeasement plan, while the Niagara Movement decided to focus more on agitation and forming state level chapters. They fought for fairness in health care, education, voting rights and employment. The Niagara Movement didn't grow as they hoped and disbanded within five years, but the basic principles would be adopted by the NAACP that formed shortly before the Niagara Movement ended.

Lyceum Hall

Lyceums were part of an educational movement in the New England area during the Victorian era. These were places that hosted some of the greatest orators of the time and one in particular was the scene of Alexander Graham Bell making the first successful long distance phone call. This would be the Salem Lyceum Hall. Today it is Turner's Seafood Grill and Market. This sits on land once owned by Bridget Bishop who was the first to die during the Salem Witch Trials. Is this land cursed? Is that why there are ghost stories connected to this property? Join us as we explore the history and haunts of the Lyceum Hall.

Salem, Massachusetts has made it into several of our episodes. We've talked about the Salem Witch Trials, the Witch House, House of Seven Gables and haunted Derby Street. This is considered one of the most haunted cities in America and it seems to live up to that reputation. Salem had originally been known as Naumkeag, which means "peace." That moniker certainly didn't match those early years for the Puritan-controlled town that put a couple of dozen people to death for alleged witchcraft. And curses still seem to haunt the area for those early sins. The Great Fire of 1914 in Salem only added more fuel to the negative vibe with half of the city burning down. But on a second glance, Salem is a beautiful New England town with wonderful architecture and history that embraces the Irish, Italian, Polish and French-Canadian immigrants who helped to build it. All of New England was a diverse area and it would be here that lyceums would originate.

Lyceums were a completely American movement and they launched in 1828 when Josiah Holbrook started the first lyceum in Milbury, Massachusetts, Milbury Lyceum No 1 branch of the American Lyceum. The Holbrook family emigrated to America from Derby, England in the late 1600s to New York and eventually spread down to Connecticut to a town they named for their original town in England, Derby. It would be here on the family farm that Josiah would be born in 1788. Holbrook eventually went to Yale College where he studied chemistry and geology. On the family farm he would set up the first industrial school in the United States. This first school of industrial training for men would inspire the first national education association and would lead to an upgrade in school books and materials, more government support for public schools, better skills taught to teachers, natural sciences would become part of the regular curriculum and start women getting early education for careers. This first industrial school eventually became that first lyceum that Holbrook started. Holbrook defined lyceums as places where groups of people interested in obtaining self culture and knowledge could go to study agriculture, geology and mechanics and later the study of languages was added. After that all levels of math were introduced along with history and geography. Holbrook devised teaching aids as well.

Other towns latched onto this lyceum idea and before long there were 100 similar societies throughout New England. Lyceums also eventually opened in the mid-Atlantic states and the Midwest. By 1834, the number of lyceums in America had grown to 3,000. Salem would open its lyceum in January of 1830 and it was named the Salem Lyceum Society. It's goal was to provide "mutual education and rational entertainment" for the townspeople. Not only would there be educational courses, but there were dramatic readings, debates and lectures. Many famous orators would pass through the doors like Ralph Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Lectures covered things like anatomy, literature, politics, science and phrenology. These first lectures were hosted at the former Methodist Church on Sewall Street or the Universalist Church on Rust Street because the lyceum had no official building. That changed in 1831 when the Salem Lyceum Society bought land on Church Street and built a building there for $4,000. This wasn't just any land. This land had belonged to Bridget Bishop and this was where her apple orchard had been.

Bridget Bishop's orchard was on land she had inherited from her second husband, Thomas Oliver. Several girls, Ann Putnam Jr., Mercy Lewis, Mary Walcott, and Elizabeth Hubbard, claimed to be afflicted by witchcraft and Bishop was one of those they accused. She was taken to Ingersoll’s Ordinary in Salem Village to be examined. Her accusers were also there and they writhed on the floor declaring that Bishop was afflicting them. Bishop responded, “I never saw these persons before, nor I never was in this place before. I am as innocent as the child unborn. I am innocent of a witch.” Judge Hathorne accused her and sent her to the Salem jail to be put on trial. She of course was sentenced to die and she would be the first of those accused of witchcraft in Salem to be put to death. So keep in mind that the Salem Lyceum Hall was built on Bishop's land. 

The amphitheater-style seating could accommodate 700 people and had images of great orators like Demosthenes and Cicero on the walls. Lectures were hosted every Tuesday night with men paying an admission of $1 and women paid 75 cents. There was a catch for the women however. They needed to be introduced by a male in order to enter. So as you can imagine, women weren't invited to speak very often. Only a half-dozen women ever appeared on the Church Street stage. The most notable performance was by British actress Fanny Kemble and she did a dramatic reading of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" during the 1849-50 season. Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, and suffragist Mary A. Livermore also spoke here and despite the resistance to women, Salem’s Lyceum hosted the Woman Suffrage Club of Salem. In 1848, author Nathaniel Hawthorne was appointed the corresponding secretary of the Salem Lyceum. And although he held this important position, he himself never gave any lectures. Apparently, he had horrible stage fright. But he did bring in his friends Horace Mann, Ralph Waldo Emerson - who appeared here 30 times, Henry David Thoreau and Daniel Webster who spoke on "The History of the Constitution of the United States."

Early speakers were members of the Salem Lyceum and most did so for free so that the mortgage on the building could be paid more quickly. These men included Charles Upham, John Pickering and Henry K. Oliver. Other later lecturers would be Oliver Wendall Holmes speaking on "Lyceums and Lyceum Lectures;" former United States President John Quincy Adams spoke on "Faith and Government;" James Russell Lowell spoke on "Dante;" Richard Henry Dana Jr. spoke on "The Reality of the Sea" and "The Importance of Cultivating the Affections" and abolitionist Frederic Douglas did a timely speech on "Assassination and its Lessons" right after President Lincoln was assassinated. But the most amazing event to take place here happened on February 12, 1877. Alexander Graham Bell hosted the first public demonstration of a long distance telephone conversation. Bell made the call to his assistant Watson who was in Boston. This was so popular, they did it again a few weeks later.

Eventually, the lyceums fell out of favor. And the history here gets a bit murky. The original lyceum burned down in the Great Salem Fire of 1914 and was replaced by the two-story brick building there today. A number of restaurants have called this spot home. The Colonial Cafe opened in 1935 and then there was Lyceum Bar & Grill and 43 Church Street. Turner's Seafood opened here in November of 2013. Turner Fisheries was started by James F. Turner in 1954. He had emigrated from St. John's Newfoundland to the Boston Fishing Pier in 1920. Turner became very successful as flying fresh seafood around the country became possible and many restaurants would advertise, "Today’s fish flown in fresh from Boston’s Turner Fisheries." Turner Fisheries became the nation's leading quality seafood house. In 1989, Jim's only son John started a new wholesale company, J. Turner Seafoods, in Gloucester, Massachusetts. J. Turner Seafoods Inc. continues today and now things have branched into the restaurant industry under John's four sons. In 1994, they opened Turner’s Seafood Grill & Market in their hometown of Melrose, Massachusetts. They opened another location in Gloucester. And then they opened this restaurant in the Lyceum Hall in 2013. And they not only embrace fine seafood, they embrace their ghost stories.

Lights here turn on and off by themselves and doors open and close on their own. Utensils get stolen with employees claiming that they sometimes have to bring patrons up to five spoons because they keep disappearing. Since this land once was an apple orchard, people claim to smell the scent of apples. Bridget Bishop's spirit is the one experienced here most often. Some employees and patrons claim to have seen her at the top of the staircase on the second floor. There are also several mirrors in the restaurant and people claim to have caught her reflection in them. Terri Colbert was a former employee and she claimed to have seen Bridget Bishop, “It was a busy night. When I came up the stairs and looked up, I saw another woman standing on the other staircase leading up to the loft. I was petrified. My initial thought was that it was a person breaking into the restaurant. When I realized she wasn’t a regular person, I ran back downstairs and almost fainted.” Colbert described the woman as wearing a seventeenth-century white dress. And that is how most people describe this woman, in a long flowing white dress. Colbert also saw chairs move on their own in the restaurant.

Tim Maguire ran the Salem Night Tour and he said, "It's very common to hear things like voices or footsteps when nobody is around. Many people watch a woman walk by who suddenly disappears. We've had dozens of photos of faces in the window looking out and hands up against the glass. People feel sadness. Bishop, when she was brought to trial wasn't treated very well. Spirits left behind would hang around and convey sadness if they were wrongly accused." There was also a Wiccan group that conducted a ritual on the second floor and they claimed to come into contact with a female ghost identifying herself as Annabelle. This spirit apparently hangs out in several buildings here and resembles the girl from "The Ring" movie.

When Ghost Hunters was there doing an investigation, they had something weird happen with an antique cash register. While they were investigating, the cash register all of a sudden printed a receipt and it was timestamped “Good Morning.” The register had not been programmed to print such a thing. There have been problems with other electrical equipment in the restaurant.

Ghost Adventures visited the Lyceum Hall in 2011. George Harrison was the owner at the time and he told Zak that they definitely have a presence in the restaurant and that they believe that it was Bridget Bishop. They hosted weddings on the second floor and several times, a female entity has showed up in pictures, which Diane took off the TV and will put up on Instagram. Zak also talked to contractors who had been putting in a sprinkler system at night. They joked about there being a ghost on the stairs cause they had heard the stories, but they stopped laughing when three boxes came flying down the stairs. They had a young man, Max, who had his own paranormal group, join them for their investigation. They sent him up those stairs by himself with an audio recorder and he captured a couple of EVP. The first came after he asked who hanged Bishop. The name Mary came through and Mary Walcott was one of her accusers. Then Max asked what kind of apples she grew and Zak said that it was weird he would ask that right then because he smelled apples. Max said he asked because he smelled apples too. They definitely captured a female voice later in an EVP and she seems to be saying, "You come back."

There is a courtyard behind the building and this often features unexplained activity. High levels of electromagnetic activity have been picked up in the courtyard. And, of course, apples are smelled here as well. Does the spirit of Bridget Bishop still hang around this location trying to prove her innocence? Is the Lyceum Hall haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Ep. 391 - New Orleans Absinthe and Ghosts

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Moment in Oddity - Unexplained Sleeping Deaths Inspired Wes Craven (Suggested by: Justin Rimmel)

Wes Craven claimed that his inspiration for the 1984 film, "A Nightmare on Elm Street" came from the real life aftermath of the Cambodian genocide. Craven had heard the story of a child refugee who refused to sleep because he was terrified that he would die in his sleep because of dreams that he had been experiencing. One night his parents heard him scream out and when they got to his room, they found him dead. This young child was not alone. The Hmong People were from Laos and they had helped the Americans fight back against the North Vietnamese in the Vietnam War. Many of these Hmong soldiers became refugees who fled to America and during the 1980s many of these young men in their 20s and 30s, died in their sleep with no apparent reason why. One 1981 newspaper article pointed out that the recent death of a 47-year-old Laotian refugee was the 13th nocturnal death among the Hmong since 1978. The only theory medical experts could come up with for the phenomenon was the chemical nerve agents that these people had been exposed to during the war. They thought perhaps the remnants of this exposure had led to the deaths. But there is nothing to support this and why did it only affect men in this way? The Hmong came to believe that they were being punished by the spirits of their ancestors since they had left their homeland. Perhaps it was the stress from these fears that caused heart attacks or something. No one knows, but the fact that a fictional serial murderer like Freddie Krueger was inspired by the death of Laos refugees, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Jones and Morrison Die on Same Day, Two Years Apart

In the month of July, on the 3rd, in 1969 and in 1971, two well known musicians died, exactly two years apart from each other. The musician who died  in 1969 was Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones. Jones was a gifted musician who had been the original leader of the group, but years of decadence and drug use caught up to him and Mick Jagger and Keith Richards fired him. Jones was found dead at the bottom of his swimming pool three weeks later. Jim Morrison had the been the charismatic frontman and voice of The Doors. He too had issues with alcohol and drugs with mescaline being a favorite due to its hallugenic qualities. He was found dead in a bathtub at a Paris apartment he shared with his girlfriend at the time. The death was recorded as a heart attack although no autopsy was done. Morrison's girlfriend claimed he hadn't been doing drugs, but later recanted that before she died of her own overdose. Not only did Morrison and Jones die on the same day and in a similar manner, two years apart, but they both also died at the age of twenty-seven.

New Orleans Absinthe and Ghosts

The Green Fairy is the nickname for a once illegal liquor known as absinthe. There are a few places in New Orleans where one can get a shot of absinthe. The most famous place is the Old Absinthe House, but there are also the Mahogany Jazz Club and Pirate's Alley Cafe. These locations have not only that spirit, but some human spirits too. We figured, why not put together a legendary drink that claims to cause hallucinations with tales of ghosts? Join us for a jaunt down the streets and alleys of the French Quarter in pursuit of a special fairy and the ghosts connected to it! 

The French Quarter is what most people think of when they think of New Orleans. This is the old part of the city that is full of bricks and cast iron and wrought iron. This was originally founded by the French in 1718. The French Quarter's boundaries stretch from Canal Street to Esplanade Avenue and from the Mississippi River northwest to North Rampart Street. When we visited in December of 2020 during the Covid Pandemic, it was relatively quiet. This visit was quite different with many people and the partying that is famous in this part of New Orleans. Bourbon Street was hopping again. And the smells of the city were in full bloom. The French Quarter probably has more spirits per capita than anywhere else in the world. Here pirates mingled with ladies-of-the-evening and politicians, artists, musicians and many other people. This is an area rich with energy and is one of the few places that has several areas where one can get their steampunk on with a shot of absinthe. 


Absinthe is a funky green liquor derived from the flowers and leaves of Artemisia absinthium - from which it derives its name - and herbs that include sweet fennel and green anise. That fact is one reason, I'm not interested in trying Absinthe. I hate the taste of licorice. The other reason is the high alcohol content in this drink.It's between 110 and 144 proof. I'm a beer girl and one shot of this just might be too much for me. Absinthe is usually diluted with water because of that high alcohol percentage. Another name for Artemisia absinthium is Wormwood, which seems fitting based on the fact that Revelation in the Bible claims that a meteorite is going to hit the Earth in the future and cause the water to be undrinkable and the name of the meteorite is Wormwood. Egypt was probably the first region to use Wormwood and this was as a medicinal curative. French nuns would be the first ones to use Wormwood as an elixir in the late 1700s. This perked the attention of a doctor named Pierre Ordinaire and he distilled the elixir into an alcoholic beverage. He wasn't making this to start his own bar, but rather as a medicine. It would be given to French troops as a treatment for malaria. By the mid 1800s, bistros and pubs in France had grabbed hold of this green drink of the French soldiers and started serving it up. The drink soon took on the name la fee verte or The Green Fairy and the 5:00 o'clock hour became the green hour. 

Parisian artists and writers became the champions of the drunk-inducing drink and claimed that it bolstered their creativity. Men like Vincent Van Gogh, Oscar Wilde and Aleister Crowley were proponents of the glories of the Green Fairy. This caused absinthe to become very popular in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Absinthe made its way to America, specifically New Orleans. Rumors started circulating that Absinthe not only got people drunk quickly, but it had a hallucinogenic effect. For this reason, it was banned in the United States starting in 1912 and Europe soon followed. The Temperance Movement had a lot to do with that. A Temperance Petition in 1907 read, “Absinthe makes you crazy and criminal, provokes epilepsy and tuberculosis, and has killed thousands of French people. It makes a ferocious beast of man, a martyr of woman, and a degenerate of the infant. It disorganizes and ruins the family and menaces the future of the country.” In 2007, absinthe could be legally made again, but it is highly regulated to make sure its level of thujone remains less than ten parts per million of thujone.Thujone is a chemical compound that was thought to create psychoactive effects. In high doses it can cause convulsions and is toxic to the brain, liver and kidneys.

The Wormwood Society is America's Absinthe Association and Information Network and they have a collection of historical documents about absinthe. One is a pamphlet published by the U.S. Brewer's Association entilted "‪A Solution of the Temperance Problem‬, ‪Proposed by the Government of Switzerland."‬ It talks about a late 19th century absinthe drinking club and reads, "In 1876 a number of Parisian women formed an Absynthe Club and adopted by-laws prescribing that on the days of meeting the members of the club must wholly abstain from the use of solid food, in the place of which latter absynthe was to be consumed to the extent of the drinker’s ability. This competitive drinking bout had for one of its incidental objects the election of a presiding officer, inasmuch as the member who could drink most without showing signs of intoxication, was declared president of the club."

La Galerie de l'Absinthe

Not far from the World War II Museum, one finds the Southern Food and Beverage Museum. The museum has several exhibits and one of these is La Galerie de l'Absinthe. This is a collection compiled by Raymond Bordelon and is the only one of its kind in the U.S. dedicated to absinthe. The collection features absinthe spoons, absinthe cocktail recipes, and absinthe fountains. Displays cover the history of the drink in general and in New Orleans. Some of the history connected to absinthe includes stories of Vincent Van Gogh being a heavy user of the drink and it is credited not only with helping him with his impressionistic paintings and his liberal use of the color yellow, but also with the removal of his ear. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was a heavy drinker of absinthe and even carried a hollow cane filled with absinthe. It is believed to have inspired his impressionistic scenes of the brothels and night spots of 19th-century Paris. And this talk of absinthe and brothels and night spots brings us to our first haunted location.

Mahogany Jazz Club

The Mahogany Jazz Club is located along Chartres Street just a half block down from Canal Street, so basically at the edge of the French Quarter. We passed by it every day while we were there, but it was never open. This had once been the Folk's Lodging House, owned by Fred Folk. Tragedy at this location would begin at this time. There was a young man of 26 named Charles Murphy who worked as a shoemaker in a factory in New Orleans. Murphy came down with a fever that left his body exhausted. He had it for several days and could not shake the illness. His weariness caused his work to decline and he fell into a depression. Mr. Folk went to give him a wake-up call at 6am one morning and the two men chatted. Mr. Folk returned to his downstairs office and Murphy tied a piece of clothing line around his neck and tied the other end to a hook on the wall and hanged himself. Mr. Folk realized a couple hours later that he had not seen Murphy leave and he went upstairs to check on him where he found him dead. This was in 1888.

The next tragedy would involve a man named George Kreis in 1890. This was a guy down on his luck that Mr. Folk befriended. He invited the man who was living on the street to come and stay at his establishment. He also helped George find a job in a bakery. The problem was that George was not a very good baker and he became depressed at his work. With the money he had manged to make, he bought a gun and shot himself at the boarding house. Poor Mr. Folk would end up finding another suicide victim in his lodging house. 

And there was yet another death. The Times-Picayune reported on November 22nd, 1892, “Shot in the Dark: Mysterious Killing on 125 Chartres Street.” This told the story of homeless man Scotty Boyle who made a habit of hanging out near the door to Folk's Boarding House. The article says he was “minding his business when a tall man in dark brown suit approached him. A bystander heard the man in the brown suit get angry and he yelled at Boyle, “I’ll shoot you for fun!” And he did just that shooting Boyle in the face. The man in the suit then fled down Chartres Street. Boyle was still alive, but unable to speak and he died before he made it to the hospital. The killer was never found.

We're not sure what happened to this location through the years, but today it is the Mahogany Jazz Club were patrons can get a drink and listen to great live jazz. But the real treat here is the burlesque show in the back where the Green Fairy is served up. This is a small, intimate venue where patrons get to hear a brief history of absinthe before being offered a sample. The burlesque is very tasteful we hear. The cost is $20 and many claim it to be a hidden gem. Not only do we have the Green Fairy here, but there are stories of ghosts.

Patrons claim to have been touched by something unseen and hearing disembodied whispers and voices. The employees claim that the spirits are nice here. Connie Fry had been a general manager her and told Ghost City Tours, “I’ve had staff members previously that have mentioned actually seeing a figure in the back room…I have had several customers who have mentioned having feelings of things brushing across their shoulder, fingers running through their hair shadows out of the corners of your eyes. Charles [Murphy] turned around and hung himself, so I’m pretty sure he’s one of the spirits that is lingering. We have one who we jokingly call Rebekah because we don’t know her name. But you’ll see a glass move a little bit on the bar or if you’re getting ice out of the ice machine, the lid will drop on your head.  She just wants to let you know that somebody’s here.”

Pirate's Alley Cafe 

Pirate's Alley is an alley that some claim was the scene of pirate commerce once upon a time, but there is actually nothing to prove that and it more than likely was just another alley in New orleans. But it is a cool name for an alley and a cool name for a restaurant. The Pirate's Alley Cafe is located at 622 Pirate Alley. This was originally a royal prison run by the Spanish in the mid-18th century. Jean Lafitte and his brother were imprisoned here for a time. It was eventually demolished in the late 1830s. The building that stands there now was built and eventually became the Pirate's Alley Cafe. Aleister Crowley hung out at this bar and even wrote two of his books here while sipping absinthe.
James Caskey writes in his 2013 book "The Haunted History of New Orleans: Ghosts of the French Quarter" that the bar has a poltergeist-like entity whom slams doors, shatters light bulbs and harassed a female bartender by undoing her bra and lifting her top, exposing the poor gal. Employees started leaving out some rum to appease the spirit. A guide for the Haunted History Tours company, Jerry Andersen, shared an experience a woman had on one of his tours in Kalila Smith's book "New Orleans Ghosts, Voodoo and Vampires, Journey Into Darkness." A woman on his tour got upset when she realized that her expensive wristwatch was missing. People in the group searched all around where they had been, but found no watch. The tour continued and the group went into the cafe for a drink. The woman reached into her purse to pay for a drink and found her watch. This was a watch with one of those safety clasps and she never took it off to put it in her purse. She was sure she had been wearing it. Ectoplasm has been captured in a picture around the sign of the Pirate's Alley Cafe.  

Old Absinthe House

At the corner of Bourbon and Bienville Streets, sits the Old Absinthe House. The original building that once stood here was built in 1752, but burned down in the 1788 Great Friday Fire. The only thing of the building after the fire was the fireplace. Pedro Front and Francisco Juncadelia were two Spaniards in the city who wanted to open a grocery store, so they rebuilt on this location and opened in 1806. This store operated for forty years and sold the necessities of life along with tobacco products and imported wines. This location became very important during the War of 1812. General Andrew Jackson met up with the pirate Jean Lafitte right before the New Orleans Battle in 1815 on the second floor. Jackson made a deal with Lafitte to release his men from prison with full pardons if they would fight in the Battle of New Orleans. These pirates were familiar with the lay of the land including the swamps and they were instrumental in America’s victory over the British. And you may remember from an earlier episode that this battle in New Orleans actually never needed to be fought because the war was over.

In 1846, Aleix's Coffee House took over the location. Now, this wasn't your local Starbucks. Or even your neighborhood coffee house. Places that served coffee were called cafes. When they were called a coffee house, that meant something else. This was a house of vice. All kinds of vice. Drugs were readily available and all kinds of liquor. In 1874, the site became The Absinthe Room and mixologist Cayetano Ferrer created the Absinthe House Frappe. The Coffee House had been popular, but the Absinthe House blew it out of the water. This was a location not to be missed. When absinthe became illegal and then Prohibition became the law of the land, the Absinthe House almost shut down. But, of course, it remained open as a speakeasy. It was so popular though that the authorities were well aware it was still running and some of them threatened to burn the building down. The owners moved everything a few blocks down to a warehouse and kept the operation going. Today, that location is the Mango Daiquiri Shop. When Prohibition was repealed, the Absinthe House reopened in its former location.
Many celebrities have passed through the doors from Frank Sinatra to P.T. Barnum, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Walt Whitman (fun fact: we had a quote of his on the wall in our hotel), Liza Minelli and even President Franklin Roosevelt. The saying here is that "everyone you have ever known or will ever know, eventually ends up at The Old Absinthe House." This location went through a major renovation in 2004, including the copper-topped bar.

There are several spirits that have made the Old Absinthe House their home in the afterlife. The pirate Jean Lafitte must like to reminisce about his role in beating the British during the War of 1812 because his spirit is seen here as a full-bodied apparition on the second floor. And many of his crew members join him as well. Their disembodied partying is heard with laughter and singing and glasses clinking and the sounds of beer mugs crashing to the floor. Some people even claim to have seen General Jackson standing with Lafitte, so perhaps some of this is residual, playing over that important moment in history. A Lady in White wearing a long white dress is seen sometimes and temperatures drop on a regular basis. A child runs across the third floor and doors open and close on their own. Disembodied whispers are heard, chairs move on their own and so do bottles. Interestingly, the ghost of Marie Leveau is seen in the bar. She steps up to the bar as though she wants to order a drink or two. She is also seen looking out of a window on the second floor.

Benjamin Butler was the General of the Union occupying force in New Orleans in 1862 and he was so brutal, people called him "The Beast." He was only rivaled by General Sherman. His father had served under General Jackson during the Battle of New Orleans. He tried politics for a while and was a lawyer, but during the Civil War he managed to get appointed as Brigadier General of Massachusetts militia. He was unscrupulous, ignored authority and completely disregarded military procedures. Although he did nothing to capture New Orleans, he took over charge of the citizenry. He issued General Order No. 28 on May 15, 1862 which read, "As the officers and soldiers of the United States have been subject to repeated insults from the women (calling themselves ladies) of New Orleans in return for the most scrupulous non-interference and courtesy on our part, it is ordered that hereafter when any female shall by word, gesture, or movement insult or show contempt for any officer or soldier of the United States she shall be regarded and held liable to be treated as a woman of the town plying her avocation." Butler would be removed for this egregious dishonor of the Southern women. Even though he died in 1893 in Massachusetts, his spirit is said to be seen at the Old Absinthe House.

Absinthe is a powerful drink, so its not surprising that three of the locations in New Orleans that serve it are buzzing with spiritual activity. Are any of these bars haunted? That is for you to decide!