Thursday, November 18, 2021

HGB Ep. 411 - Miss Molly's Bed and Breakfast

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Moment in Oddity - Yemen's Well of Hell

There is a peculiar hole in the al-Mahra province of Yemen known as the Well of Barhout, but most people call it the Well of Hell. For years, locals have claimed that this is a gateway to the underworld and that the Djinn live within the depths. The truth is that this is a natural sinkhole and in September of 2021, 10 explorers made their way all the way to the bottom. The explorers found dead animals, snakes, frogs, beetles, waterfalls and stalagmites. Another claim about the hole is that it is part of a supervolcano that could one day wipe out the Earth, similar to the one that is claimed to be below Yellowstone National Park. The explorers found no evidence for that either. The most unusual find were cave pearls, which are very unique and rare because they need a completely flat surface in order to form. These are formed when dripping or flowing water gathers around a nucleus of loose material and deposits minerals in concentric layers. Since the nucleus is loose, the shape of a pearl forms. The Well of Hell may not be a prison for the Djinn, but it certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Lawrence Joel Awarded Medal of Honor

In the month of November, on the 8th, in 1965, Lawrence Joel was awarded the Medal of Honor, becoming the first living person of color to do that since the Spanish-American War. Lawrence Joel was serving as a medic with the 1st Battalion, 503rd Airborne Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade during the Vietnam War. He was with his unit in the Iron Triangle northwest of Saigon when his heroism earned him the medal. The unit was outnumbered and under heavy assault and Specialist Joel received a severe leg wound. This didn't stop him from taking care of his wounded comrades and he continued his work despite being hit a second time with a bullet lodging into his lung. He didn't stop treating the wounded until his evacuation was ordered. President Lyndon B. Johnson presented the Medal of Honor to Specialist Joel on March 9, 1967, at the White House.

Miss Molly's Bed and Breakfast (Suggested by: Amy Martinez)

Miss Molly's Bed and Breakfast has been on the suggestions list for quite a while and we decided to produce it now because our longtime listener and Executive Producer Amy Martinez's daughter recently visited the location and had a chance to investigate. A sign outside one of the rooms reads, "Street ladies bringing in sailors must pay for room in advance." So clearly, this wasn't always a simple little hotel. This was once a brothel and many of the spirits from that time back in the early 1900s are still sticking around the bed and breakfast. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of Miss Molly's Bed and Breakfast!

The most famous and popular spot in Fort Worth, Texas is the Stockyards. This is a National Historical District in what was once dubbed "Cowtown" because four million head of cattle were driven through here between 1866 and 1890. When the railroad came to town, it only made sense to establish Fort Worth as a shipping point for livestock and the Union Stockyards were built. Wealthy Boston businessman Greenleif Simpson decided to invest in the stockyard and he renamed it the Fort Worth Stockyards Company. Simpson sought out other investors and one man he approached suggested that they build meat packing plants in the city, rather than shipping the cattle off to other markets. Two large meat packing plants would be built around 1900. Around this time, the Wall Street of the West would be built too, which was the Livestock Exchange Building that housed the railroad offices, telegraph offices and livestock commission companies. In 1907, the Cowtown Coliseum was built for rodeos and stock shows.

In 1911, the Stockyards became their own city known as Niles City, which eventually was annexed into Fort Worth. Droughts, floods and fires would come. The Stockyards would be rebuilt with flame-resistant materials. The business prospered through it all until World War II. At this time in America, the railway business was in decline and the highway system was growing with a trucking business that made small stockyards and meat packers able to pull business their way. The first meat packing plant, Armour, closed in 1962 and the other, Swift, closed in 1971. In 1976, the district earned protection and restoration began on various landmarks with the Exchange Building becoming a museum in 1989. The area has become a shopping and dining district with the Star Cafe in the midst of it and the restaurant has Miss Molly's Bed and Breakfast located above the eatery.

The building that houses the bed and breakfast today was built in 1910 as a high-class boarding house and was called The Palace Rooms. By the time Prohibition rolled around, the building had changed hands and reopened as The Oasis with rooms and a speakeasy. The authorities looked the other way most of the time, but there was the occasional raid. The nice boarding house was gone by the 1940s and replaced with a bordello called The Gavatte Hotel. All types came through from cowboys to businessmen to real shady types. Eventually, Texas outlawed prostitution and the building was on the market once again. It reopened as the Star Cafe on the ground floor and Miss Molly's Bed and Breakfast on the upper floor.

The Bed and Breakfast has eight rooms with one communal bathroom. The former madame's room is known as Miss Josie's Room and this has its on private bath. The other rooms are Cowboys, Miss Amelia, Cattlemen's, Rodeo, Gunslinger and Railroader. The rooms are decorated in a manner that takes one back with lace curtains, antique oak furniture and historic quilts, iron beds and shutters. Miss Josie's Room has elegant Victorian decor with elaborate wall coverings and window dressing and the ceiling is draped fabric. The bathrooms have iron tubs, pedestal sinks and pull-chain toilets.

Stories of unexplained experiences have plagued this location for years and many claim that it is one of the most haunted spots in Texas. Guests and employees claim to see shadow figures and to feel cold spots. The scent of perfume is on the air occasionally. Coins apport into rooms that have been cleaned. Belongings disappear or are moved around and found in odd places. Sometimes after they disappear, they reappear in the spot from which they had been missing. Toilets flush on their own, lights turn on and off by themselves and doors lock and unlock by themselves. Sometimes doors won't open as if blocked by an unseen force. A reporter staying overnight once awoke to find a beautiful blonde woman sitting on the edge of the bed. There is a young girl's spirit that has appeared in the private rooms of the owners. She appears to be around eight-years-old.

Innkeeper Paula Gowins told CBS 11, "I’ve had many reports from the guests of seeing things: transparencies, smoky apparitions. Like in this room, Ms. Josie King was the last madam. She had been sighted many times, usually at 3:00 in the morning at the foot of the bed watching the people sleep. (We) only had one couple jump out of bed.”

Texpart Paranormal LLC had investigated at Miss Molly's in November of 2008. They have great notes on their website about that investigation. One passage reads, "Entered room 5 at 8:08 PM we encountered a female spirit who was 42 yrs of age and she believed the current year was 1946. She said she entertained men in this bedroom. This female spirit thought she was still alive. After initial connection with the spirit my hair in the back of my head was caress. At one point Rosie’s right elbow was touched. She mentioned she was upset that her daughter was not with her. She stated that her grandparents raised her daughter who is still alive and that she was there waiting for her daughter. At one point she laid down in the bed in front of us. We did not find out what her name was. We exited the room at 8:30 PM." Another says, "Investigators reported hearing loud talking and clanking of dishes below them. Interestingly enough, they heard these noises at approximately 9:30 pm and the business below had closed at 7:00 p.m. Upon inspection, no one was left in that business to make such noises. Both investigators also reported hearing someone talking, walking around and shutting doors in room number 8 next to them. No one was ever- at any time in room number 8. It was shut off as a control room for recording." 

Amy shared in the Spooktacular Crew: My daughter and her fiancĂ© took his little girl to Miss Molly’s, a haunted hotel, in the Fort Worth Stockyards last night. His 9-yr-old is into that which make her my kindred spirit. Anyway, Ross (the fiancĂ©) lost his dad a few years ago. I get this text from my daughter this morning:


Jayde and Ross talk about the spirits of two little boys and how they seem to be able to leave the room they usually occupy, while the other spirits seem to stick to just the one room they always occupy. And they also relate how the madame would occasionally lock girls in closets. (Jayde Ghosts) They mentioned the cowboy Jake and how his spirit manifests too. He is known to hang out in the stockyards in multiple places. The innkeeper Carey thinks her brother is there and protecting the little girl spirit named Emily and one guest even felt hands closing around his neck one time!

Even though many claim that the spirits are not evil here, that hasn't always been the case and Jayde and Ross shared these experiences from the Innkeeper and a housekeeper at Miss Molly's. (Jayde 2)

Jayde and Ross decide that they want to do some investigating and they borrow equipment from the innkeeper. And what happens reminds us of being at the Clay County Jail where the woman named Joe that was with us seemed to have the spirit of her father there. (Jayde 3) A couple things that didn’t make it onto this recording was Ross asked his dad if he was happy and the answer was yes. Then he asked “do you miss us?” and Charlie said “no.” So Ross asked, “is that because you’re always with us?” And Charlie said “yes.” Ross also said that his Mom said there were things moving around behind them and he mentions a picture of an orb going into him. Amy sent that pic and we'll see if we can upload it to Instagram. Normally, we would just be like, this is a dust orb or something, but because of what is going on with the communication and his Mom seeing stuff, maybe this orb was paranormal in nature.

Karen wrote on TripAdvisor, "OMG - I stayed there Friday night and what a night it was! I saw a door move even with the door stop on. We listened to white noise and spirits spoke through the white noise and guessed cards that we picked from a deck. I saw an orb or something follow one of the young girls that was staying with her Grandmother. You've got to see the little bear. When it's turned on and you touch it, it speaks.... well, it was speaking without anyone touching it! I would recommend anyone that is interested in the hereafter to check it out!! Shelly was awesome. She stayed the night with us along with a couple other ghost hunters. Check it out! There are no TVs or phones in the hotel. It truly is like stepping back in time. Do not expect to sleep too much as there is activity all night long."

Mamie wrote on TripAdvisor, "My friend and I decided to stay at Miss Molly’s because of its close proximity to the nightlife and also because we had heard of the ghost stories. We stayed in the Cowboy Room and were the only guests there that night. Within the first 10 minutes of being there we had the cowboy room door close on us and the closet doorknob rattle when I made a joke about wanting my friend to go open the closet door. We immediately went to dinner and when we came back our keys were moved across the room. From then on we knew the ghosts were definitely just pranksters. Later we found the leather review book that people write in and started reading their stories on the couch and kept hearing banging and shuffling in the 2nd bathroom. We never checked because we were chicken but we later found it that someone was found stabbed in the bathtub a long time ago."

dancepatti wrote on TripAdvisor, "Miss Molly's is a cozy old bed and breakfast (they do NOT serve breakfast anymore so perhaps it is a BED and BATH now). We stayed because we wanted to stay in a haunted hotel and we got our wish. We stayed in room #3 one bed had a spirit sit on it in the middle of the night, the other bed was shaken by a spirit in the middle of the night. The cowboy room gave a good scare as we entered it the door slammed on us- and I do mean slammed. Later our inferred picture showed a silhouette of a cowboy by the furthest bed. It was an exciting night!"

Former brothels have a tendency to be haunted because of the nature of the business and the violent history that can be connected to them. We don't know much about that history here, but clearly there are some unexplained things happening here. And on top of that, it seems that Ross got the opportunity to talk to his father through the veil. Good golly is Miss Molly's Bed and Breakfast haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, November 11, 2021

HGB Ep. 410 - Cerro Gordo Ghost Town

Moment in Oddity - The Steamboat Arabia

The Arabia Steamboat Museum is found in Missouri and remembers the Steamboat Arabia tragedy. The Steamboat Arabia was built in Pennsylvania in 1853. The steamboat spent its time transporting passengers along the Missouri River and she also carried cargo like merchandise for stores and the mail. The Arabia didn't  work very long as she sank on September 5, 1856. The Missouri River was a treacherous river and one of the biggest dangers were fallen trees that were hard to see because they would lie just under the surface of the water. On that fateful day, the Arabia hit one of those trees and sank in a matter of minutes. The 150 passengers and crew on board managed to make it to safety, so no one died. Over time, the Missouri River shifted. That didn't reveal the Arabia though as it had sunk 45 feet underground. A group of four men led an effort in 1988 to excavate the steamboat and they found a large collection of pre-Civil War artifacts and glass bottles that still held their contents. Some of those contents were preserved pie fruit and pickles. One of the excavators ate some of the preserved pickles and found them to not only be edible, but still fresh and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Sistine Chapel Opens to the Public

In the month of November, on the 1st, in 1512, the Sistine Chapel ceiling opens to the public. The Sistine Chapel is the chief consecrated space in the Vatican and someone very talented was needed to paint frescoes on the ceiling. Michelangelo, the greatest Italian Renaissance artist in human history, got the call from Rome in 1508. He had started his life in art at the age of thirteen working as an artist's apprentice. His talent was soon discovered and nurtured. Michelangelo crafted such works as the Pieta and David before he was called to paint the ceiling of the chapel. The frescoes he created were epic and featured nine panels of Biblical history, starting with The Creation of the World. Other panels feature the Creation of Adam with God and Adam stretching their arms out towards each other, the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden and Noah and the Flood. Figures from the Old Testament can be found along the sides of the panels and Michelangelo used fictive architectural molding and supporting statues to pull everything together. The work took four years to complete and is a masterpiece.

Cerro Gordo Ghost Town (Suggested by: Julie Shjandemaar)

The ghost town of Cerro Gordo is found in California's Inyo Mountains. This fairly prosperous mining town was established in the mid-1800s and had been mostly abandoned for decades. New life was breathed into it recently after being purchased in 2018 for almost $1.5 million. This mining camp had been a dangerous place to live. People died from gunfights, disease and mining accidents. And now it would seem that spirits still remain because of all those deaths. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the Cerro Gordo Ghost Town!

Cerro Gordo was founded in 1865.  The name in Spanish means “fat hill" and the peak sits eight miles east and 5,000 feet above Owens Lake, which had actually been a lake at one time, but is dried up now. Pablo Flores is credited with discovering silver ore here and he began mining and smelting operations. Growth for the mining town was slow as Native American populations kept people from coming. Fort Independence was built nearby and the soldiers here expelled the Native American populations. Everything was very primitive with this early operation. The ore was smelted in adobe ovens. Another miner named Jose Ochoa was pulling as much as 1.5 tons of ore out of the San Lucas Mine every 12 hours. As word about the silver ore got out, more miners came. 

The quality of the ore caught the attention of a Quebec-born sutler at Fort Independence named Victor Beaudry. He was a businessman and he decided to open a general store in the town. Beaudry was a smart man and he would trade provisions with the miners in exchange for portable silver and lead that the miners had smelted together. Beaudry also extended credit to the miners and this enabled him to eventually foreclose on their claims and he soon owned most of the Cerro Gordo mines. This included a half-interest in the largest, the Union, perched above the camp. Beaudry built two modern smelters in the town with his money as well.

The road in and out of the town became treacherous with bandits waiting to grab ore from miners heading down into other towns. Tiburcio Vasquez was a highwayman who worked in California from 1854 to 1874 and the Vasquez Rocks north of Los Angeles was a frequent hideout for him and so they named this for him. He was a real ladies man and considered handsome and a great dancer. His trademark was to bind the hands of his victims and leave them face down in the dirt. Vasquez was captured in 1874, tried and sentenced to hang. This execution took place on March 19, 1875. He had a lieutenant named Cleovaro Chavez and they would stop people to ask for "tolls." This became a lucrative business with dozens of teamster teams taking the route to Los Angeles with ore and then back to Cerro Gordo with liquor and sundries. The teamsters would try to warn each other if they ran into bandits and some would stash the ore along the road to come back for later. Vasquez and his crew left the area after stopping a stage coach near Cerro Gordo and shooting and wounding a man.

In April 1868, mining engineer Mortimer Belshaw arrived from San Francisco with plans to build a smelter. He bought a one-third interest in the mountain's largest galena lode, which is silver-bearing lead ore. Many of the mines, including the large Union Mine, were tapped into this vein of silver ore. He and his business partner Abner B. Elder built the Yellow Grade Road that led up to the mines. He also built the Belshaw House, a two-bedroom, 1-bathroom house that still stands in the mining camp and has served a variety of purposes from a private residence to a bed-and-(cook-your-own)-breakfast that sleeps up to five. Belshaw and Elder found a third partner, President of the California Paper Company Egbert Judson, and they formed the Union Mining Company. The group went forward with building a steam powered smelter and ran the thing 24/7. The smelter produced 120 silver and lead ingots a day, each weighing 85 pounds.

At this point, Beaudry and Belshaw were in competition, but they realized if they worked together, they could control the whole town. They produced so much ore that it couldn't be hauled down the mountain fast enough. Remi Nadeau was a French Canadian freighter they hired to haul the ore to Los Angeles in a trek that took three weeks. The ore would be separated at the refinery in Los Angeles.

As the town grew into a boomtown, trouble came with it and law enforcement tended to stay away from the town, which had about 5,000 residents at its height. There was at least one murder every week and shootouts were a normal occurrence. The danger was so bad that miners would stack sandbags in their beds in order to take the impact of stray bullets that might be flying when they were sleeping. A horrible mining accident happened in the 1870s when a mine collapsed and trapped around 30 Chinese miners. They were never rescued and are still buried underground. 

A man named James Brady took over the shipping contract in 1871 and he had a new method. He had established the town of Swansea on the east side of Qwens Lake and launched an 85-foot steamer he named Bessie Brady after his daughter. This saved at least two days in transport, so more money was being made. At least for a little while. Rain is not a usual thing in California, but at this time, torrential rains fell and Brady fell behind. Then Brady and Belshaw got into a fight over mining rights that ended up in court. Brady won, but he lost the shipping contract. Nadeau took over the freight again in 1873, but he wanted in on the action this time and so he was made a full partner in a freighting company they called Cerro Gordo Freighting Co. It was also decided to build stations along the route to make the trip easier.

Belshaw and Beaudry were considered Bullion Kings at the height of the mines' output. In total, the mines produced $17 million in silver and lead ore. That equates to $400 million in today's dollars. The mining industry helped to build Los Angeles. It's sad to think that this town became a mostly forgotten ghost town after spending nearly $350,000 on local farmers feed crops like barley and hay. The town was diverse with a large mix of Hispanics, Chinese, Whites and Native American, most of whom worked the mines for $4 a day and had a life expectancy of five years. John Simpson and his wife had built the American Hotel in 1871, there were two dance hall/brothels, blacksmiths, assay offices, a couple of general stores, saloons, restaurants and bunkhouses. Interestingly though, there were no schools, churches or a jail. 

Commerce slowed down in 1877 when the Union burned down. It was rebuilt, but left Belshaw in debt and he shut down his furnace and cut the pay to $3 a day. Many miners left and the Union closed down in 1879, Beaudry shut down his furnace after that and sent the last shipment of ore in November of 1879. Beaudry died in 1888 and Belshaw died in 1898. The best story is Nadeau's. He was smart and invested his money in wine grapes, barley and sugar beets. He bought land in downtown Los Angeles and built the Nadeau Hotel in 1886. This hotel was demolished in 1932 and a new building was built that is the Los Angeles Times Building that is part of Times Mirror Square today. 

Interesting story connected to this location from Haunted Places by Dennis William Hauck:

This wasn't the end for Cerro Gordo. Low grade silver ore continued to be pulled from the area mines into the 20th Century. High-grade zinc ore was discovered in 1907 in the Union Mine and a different kind of smelter was built at the base of the mountain and the ore was moved in buckets on a cable tramway. The operation was slightly successful until Louis D. Gordon bought the title and incorporated the Cerro Gordo Mines Co. Business started booming as 20 tons of zinc ore were mined daily. The ore was shipped via railway to the United States Smelting and Refining Co. in Utah for processing. Silver and lead were still being pulled between 1911 and 1919. Many of the tunnels were extended and while they aren't safe to enter now, there are 37 miles of tunnels snaking through the mountain.

American Smelting of Utah took over the mines from Gordon in the 1920s and then the U.S. Army came during World War II to get zinc out of the mines for the war effort. The zinc was used to make pennies because the copper was needed for war equipment. The pennies were steel and coated with the zinc to prevent rust. By 1959, the mines were no longer in use. W.C. Riggs had bought the property after the war and he hired a woman named Barbara and her boyfriend to work as caretakers. Barbara had previously worked for RKO Pictures and had been married to an assistant director. So apparently she ran away to a ghost town with her boyfriend. Riggs went bankrupt and didn't pay the couple, so they took him to court and were awarded ownership of Cerro Gordo in 1949. Eventually the boyfriend died and Barbara married Jack Smith. They sold the property to Jack Smith's niece Jody Stewart and she and her husband Mike began restoring the buildings and turning the ghost town into a tourist attraction.

They turned the general store into a museum and reopened the American Hotel. The Belshaw House was turned into a bed and breakfast where the guests make their own breakfast. A bunkhouse dating to 1904 was also opened as a place for up to 12 guests to bunk. In 2001, Jody died and Mike followed in 2009 and Mike's son Sean Patterson inherited the property. Sean hired a caretaker to continue the restoration and give tours. On July 13, 2018, a man named Brent Underwood spent $1.4 million to purchase Cerro Gordo along with some partners. There were twenty-two structures still standing of the 500 that were once here. These included the mining operation, Belshaw House, the American Hotel, a general store, an assayer’s office and Lola’s Palace of Pleasure. Underwood is the current owner and actually spent part of the pandemic snowed in on the property.

Underwood has spent 2020 and 2021 exploring his ghost town and refurbishing buildings. He has rappelled 1,100 feet underground into the tunnels and posted the videos on YouTube. Many parts of the Union Mine hadn't been seen in decades and Underwood found lots of artifacts in the mines and in the town. Many of these items told the story of the miner's lives. There were love letters, mining claims tobacco tins, old newspapers, divorce settlements and bank documents. There was even still some dynamite down in the mines. Things were really moving along for Underwood until tragedy struck. The historic American Hotel, the Crapo House and the Ice House at Cerro Gordo burned down in what is thought to have been an electrical fire in an early morning fire on Monday, June 15, 2020. In a weird coincidence, the American Hotel had originally opened on June 15, 1871. Interestingly, Underwood told the LA Times that he thought the cause of the fire could be paranormal. He said, “The caretaker here told me that he and another person saw a shadowy apparition moving in the hotel kitchen at 4 p.m. the previous day.” The Crapo House had belonged to William Crapo, who had gunned down a postmaster as he walked along the dirt road near the American Hotel. 

Fun Fact: Jeff Goldblum has been by the ghost town. He was there to film an episode of his TV show "The World According to Jeff Goldblum" that featured the history of denim. Many California silver miners wore them since they were specifically invented for them by Levi Strauss in 1871.

Caretakers for years have told stories of having strange experiences in the ghost town. Many believe the place is haunted. Lights switch on and off in unoccupied buildings on the regular. Underwood has experienced this himself. He said, "I went in, turned them off, re-locked the building, and they were turned on again that night." The strange happenings seemed magnified when Underwood was snowed in and around to notice them more. Books would spontaneously fall off of shelves. When its once or twice, it probably is nothing, but having it happen on the regular seems weird. Underwood's wallet moves around. He'll find it in places he knows he didn't put it.

In 2019, Zak Bagans and the crew of Ghost Adventures paid Cerro Gordo a visit and concluded paranormal activity here could be the result of two child spirits trapped in Belshaw House, an 1800s structure Underwood was living in. Roger Vargo and his wife Cecile talked with Bagans about their experiences staying in the Belshaw House. They were sleeping in the bedroom and something pounced on his wife that she couldn't see. Other people had similar experiences there. Robert Desmarais was a caretaker and he felt something jump on his chest and it knocked the wind out of him. So he knew it wasn't a dream. Another investigator captured an EVP of a child's voice and there were no kids in the town. Could these be children jumping on the people?

Alphonse Benoit was shot and killed in the poker room in the house. Zak thought he heard something coming from that room. There is a bullet hole with blood stains on the floor in there. Right near that area, Billy and Zak felt a definable cold spot. The EMF meter spiked there, a really big spike. Billy felt as though his fingers were really cold all of a sudden. Zak got out the thermal camera and it was clear that Billy's fingers were blue while the rest of his hand was the normal human red, orange and yellow and Zak's hand right next to his was completely red. And then they caught something bluish-green in the form of a human torso manifesting on the other side of the table.

Aaron and Zak heard footsteps in the house when they were lying on beds and their cameras did catch very faint footsteps. The ghost of Mr. Belshaw had been seen in the house. He appeared as a portly man, as described by eyewitnesses. Billy had set up a rig with a deep sea fishing pole where he sent an audio recorder and GoPro down into a very deep mine shaft. Billy felt a sharp tug at one point that he described as feeling like a fish on his line and the camera showed the line bobbing as if tugged. Billy was really shaken by the experience and it seemed legit. They also caught two long and interesting EVP on the recorder while in the shaft. One said, "Can anybody hear me?" and the other "I'm going to work." Aaron and Zak were investigating in the poker room and caught an EVP that they said sounded like, "You both just walked to me," but Kelly thought it sounded more like, "Do you want to fuck with me?" That sounds more accurate based on what happened here. They put an Ovulus near the bullet hole and the word "Slain" came up. A game camera seemed to pick up a figure that is not solid because the guys showed what they looked like crossing in front of a game camera.

Ghost towns are notoriously haunted because they were usually notorious places. That would be the case for Cerro Gordo. There are many reasons for this town to be haunted. Is the Cerro Gordo Ghost Town haunted? That is for you to decide!

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Bonus - St. Augustine Lighthouse Investigation 2021

We arrive at the lighthouse and check in, do the bug spray thing and prepare our equipment. There were 25 of us - the largest ghost hunt we have ever hosted. We not only had our co-hosts Jerry and Tracy Paulley of Hillbilly Horror Stories, but Nick McGirr who hosts tours and investigations in Charleston also joined us and he had some nice equipment with him. We also had our hunt regular Dolly with us and she brought her new SLS camera with her. Many of the listeners also had equipment and we think everybody not only had a good time, but also had some unexplained things happen.

Everyone was invited to climb the lighthouse. The view from the top is so amazing, especially at night. Our host Amber and Diane talk about being locked in the lighthouse by something unseen. (Lighthouse 1) And Amber shares about being touched by a ghost at the lighthouse. (Lighthouse 2) Then we did a formal intro (Lighthouse Intro)

And we were off to investigate in the lighthouse. All the stories about the children who died here, do not give a specific date for their accident. The closest we've come is to a year, 1873. We never thought much about it until investigating this time and this came up on the Ghost Radar App. (Lighthouse 3) We got "summer," "real" and "research." Also the name "Adam." We also later got the name "Ellen" and the word "Florida."

Kathy Thomas was our spirit magnet in the lighthouse. She told us about hearing the little girls giggle when she was here before. (Lighthouse 4) Kathy felt the spirits more than once when we were at the base of the stairs in the tower and then we were able to verify her experience with equipment. (Lighthouse 5) So you hear there Kathy saying she feels cold spots, and then Kelly is using the temp gun and getting readings of colder temperatures near Kathy, especially her hand hanging by her side. Nick is capturing readings on his devices too. Then whatever this was leaves. Diane wanders down to the display cases and talks with one of the listeners about what she is experiencing. (Lighthouse 6) So she was feeling a cold area from her kneecap down and that's exactly the area that Kathy was getting her feelings of cold. Then whatever was around Kathy comes back and Diane is able to verify what Kathy is feeling not only with the EMF, but her own body. When you hear Diane talking about this, she has walked over to Kathy and crouched down with the EMF held up to Kathy's dangling hand. (Lighthouse 7) So Diane felt the same prickly feeling as Kathy and the EMF went off when we asked, pinging to orange and then red when asked. To Diane, this was the coolest experience of the evening. 

Next, we headed over to the Keeper's House and we started down in the basement where the most activity is usually reported. The creepiest thing down here was a mannequin in scuba gear. Dolly sat down next to it with her SLS and she captured something that was not the mannequin. (Lighthouse 8)

Then we started a series of Estes Method/Spirit Box sessions. Diane conducted the first one and unbeknownst to her, when she responded to questions or said something, other pieces of equipment started going off. (Lighthouse 9) What I liked on this was that I was getting nothing at the same time as the equipment stopped registering anything. And then the conversation picked back up with Nick asking questions. And Kelly felt something cold on her hand. Nick's equipment seems to support that. Kelly also described a spider web feeling and Kathy said she had that too. Then Diane blurts out Cornell. Diane did a little investigating about Keepers and wonders if this was Cardell, rather than Cornell. Second Assistant Cardell D. Daniels (1911-1914) Head Keeper: (1935 – 1943) Cardell had two kids, a boy named Cardell Jr. everyone called Cracker and a daugther named Wilma. In a previous St. Augustine episode we shared how Cracker launched his sister's cat Smokey out of the tower with a parachute, but the cat survived and showed back up a few weeks later. This was in the 1930s. In 1941, the Coast Guard took over the lighthouses and Cardell was given the option of retiring or putting on a Coast Guard uniform and he gladly accepted. The lighthouse also moved to being electrified during his time there. Wilma returned to the lighthouse for a visit in July 2021 at the age of 90 and climbed all the way to the top. She said of her father, "He'd sit on the railing with his butt. He was a real tall, thin fella. … He'd sit there and hold his feet up and slide all the way down." Cardell's wife Grace planted the yellow lilies that still grow at the lighthouse.

Kathy took over the Estes Method. (Lighthouse 10) She said "Rick" three times and this is after calling for help. We focused on a name, but that changed later when we went upstairs. Shantel pulled Diane aside and asked, "Do you think Rick could actually be wreck?" Then she pointed up and at the top of a display were these giant letters spelling WRECKED. We didn't stop to think of why the lighthouse was there. Because of shipwrecks. I don't know if we caught an EVP here, but I'll play it to see what you think. (Lighthouse EVP 1) Sounds like "job" to me. 

Nick takes over the Estes Method and things take a mean turn. (Lighthouse 11) Nick was firing off answers. He got Rick too. And we loved the "count to 3" and "smart." We went upstairs and did some work with the dowsing rods and Kelly got touched again. The REM pod also went off. Then our two hours was up. It went really fast and we had a great time! We really enjoyed Nick. He had a respectful investigation technique and he asked unique questions that were more personal.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

HGB Ep. 409 - Gaither Plantation

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Moment in Oddity - Coffin in Golf Course Pond Complete with Skeleton and Axe (Suggested by: Mike Rogers)

Just another day out at the golf course...until you find a coffin in a pond and well, it wasn't empty. The coffin was discovered in 2018 in a pond at a golf course in Lincolnshire, England. Archaeologists estimated that it dated back to the Bronze Age. The coffin was made from a hollowed out oak tree trunk. The even more amazing part was what was found inside the coffin. The remains of a 4,000 year-old man, who was of high status, were inside along with a well preserved axe. And this was no ordinary axe. It was very rare, one of only twelve discovered in Britain. The coffin and axe are on display at the Lincoln Collection Museum. The Tetney Golf Club also has a tribute to the discovery made on the property. They have a photograph of it up on the clubhouse wall. An axe makes a pretty unique golf club and finding one in a coffin with a 4,000 year old skeleton, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Cherry Valley Massacre

In the month of November, on the 11th, in 1778, the Cherry Valley Massacre took place. Cherry Valley was just east of Cooperstown, New York and a man named Colonel Ichabod Alden was in charge of the 7th Massachusetts Regiment there. He had a long career in the military. He served in the Plymouth militia and then served in the 25th Continental regiment after the Battle of Lexington and Concord in 1775. But when it came to this moment during the Revolutionary War, he was out of his element. Alden had been warned that Native Americans were preparing to attack, but he ignored them. Chief Joseph Brant showed up with 600 Iroquois. He was joined by 200 Loyalists serving under Major Walter Butler. Alden had less than 300 men and they were quickly dispatched. Forty Patriots were killed, including Alden and all the members of the Wells family, and seventy were taken prisoner. The attack came to be known as the Cherry Valley Massacre and was one of the most horrific frontier massacres of the war. A monument was dedicated at Cherry Valley on August 15, 1878.

Gaither Plantation

Covington, Georgia is nicknamed Hollywood South due to the number of movies and television shows that have been filmed there. One location that not only hosts weddings and other events, but has also served as a set for films and TV shows is the Gaither Plantation. The house dates back to 1850 and there are two cemeteries on the property along with other historic buildings, one of which is an old church that was moved to the property. Several of the buildings, especially the main house, have paranormal activity. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the Gaither Plantation!

Covington, Georgia is about twenty-six miles east of Atlanta. This is the seat of Newton County and was incorporated in 1854. The city is named for United States Army Brigadier General and United States Congressman Leonard Covington, who was a hero of the War of 1812. General Sherman marched through the city on his March to the Sea in 1864 and several buildings were looted and burned, but a few antebellum homes were spared, one of which was the Gaither Plantation. The plantation is now known as Gaither's at Myrtle Creek Farm. 

The Gaither Family has a long history in America with most descendants tracing their roots back to John Gater who arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in 1620. Dr. Henry Gaither passed 875 acres to his son, William Hubert Gaither who built the farmhouse on the property in 1850. Gaither married Cecilia Billups Wood in 1855 and the couple had four children: Sara Clara, Mary Jane, Henry and William Jr. Tragedy struck for the family when Sara Clara died at the age of nine. She was buried in a plot in the family cemetery on the property. The farm was set up as a cotton plantation and the family owned 130 slaves. The plantation did very well for years, even after the Civil War, when the slaves were freed. 

In 1888, the Gaithers son Henry got into a deadly conflict with a neighbor named George Smith. We have read two versions, but both end with George Smith dead. One version claims that Henry destroyed some turkey nests on Smith's property and the men fought with Henry using a big stick to club Smith. The other version claims that Smith was clearing land with fire and accidentally burned some of the Gaither turkey nests that were scooped up in the brush heaps. When Henry found out about it, he grabbed a shovel and hit Smith over the head, killing the man. Regardless of what the facts were, Henry went on the run and ended up in Texas somewhere, never to be seen again. 

In 1890, William Gaither died and the property passed to Cecilia. She had him buried in the family plot next to their daughter Sara Clara. Cecilia only stayed with the property for a few years after her husband's death, moving into Covington proper in 1906 with her son William Jr. Boll weevils hit in the early 1900s, devastating the cotton crop. This is a little grayish beetle with a long snout. These traveled up from Mexico to the United States in the late 1800s and by the 1920s, they were in all major cotton-producing areas. At the time, one third of the insecticide used in the US was just to go after the boll weevil. The boll weevil has been eradicated in all states except Texas. The Gaither Plantation couldn't make their tax payment in 1921 and had to declare bankruptcy. The Gaithers lost the family farm over twenty-eight dollars.

Through the next several decades, the property was sold to farming families, including the McIntoshs, Siegfrieds and Welchels. The buildings on the property changed over the years. The property started with the plantation house, outdoor kitchen, barn, outhouse and slave quarters. The barn was replaced in 1950 by Ralph Welchel. (Read p. 47 from Ghosts of Atlanta, Phantoms of the Phoenix City by Reese Chrisitan.) 

Some buildings burned down or fell apart and other buildings were brought to the property, including the Harris Springs Primitive Baptist Church. The church brought some bad history with it. Legend claims that the pastor of the church caught his wife having an affair and murdered her. He then killed himself. Newton County took over the site in 1996 and they host events, weddings and tours there, as well as renting it out for film and TV production. Paranormal investigations take place here too because there are several spirits on the property.

One of the events that had been hosted at the farm were re-enactments. The Union marched on the plantation looking for Confederate soldiers they believed were being hidden there. Supposedly, Cecilia had hidden Confederates in a secret passageway. Re-enactors who have camped out on the farm claim to have seen a man's spirit walk from the fireplace to the front window in the parlor. The scene replayed itself over and over in a loop. The apparition of a solider in a gray suit has been seen in the basement appearing to be trying to hide. The re-enactors also saw someone in the windows when no one was in the house, as did people who attended the Hummingbird Festival.

East Georgia Paranormal Lead Investigator Bobby Bishop was interviewed by The Covington News in 2007 and he told the paper that he was skeptical of most ghost sightings, but Gaither Plantation was one of three sites he believed was a hotbed of paranormal activity. They have done many investigations at the property over the years. On one of their first investigations, a sensitive on their team said they were uncomfortable on the stairs leading to the attic and they later found that they had captured an EVP at that same time that said, "Don't go up the stairs."

Jerry Love was once the Chairman of Friends of Gaither and he had people who rented the property tell him that they saw a man in a grey suit down in the basement and a woman who was rocking a baby in an upstairs window. He said, "Every time someone would ask me, I would unlock the house and go and look for the person they were seeing. Sometimes it was the face of a woman in the attic window. Other times they would say they saw someone looking out of the downstairs window. There was never anyone there when I went to look." And people have claimed to hear the laughter and playing of children when no kids are around. There are three other children buried in the graveyard where the Gaither daughter was buried. And there is a slave cemetery too, so this could be where the children are coming from.

There is a handle on the indoor well that is located on the ground floor of the farmhouse and it has been seen turning on its own. The spirit of Cecilia Gaither is believed to be here, possibly because she was not buried with the rest of her family and is troubled by that. The name Celie has been heard coming through and that was nickname that the children used for Cecilia. Cecilia's room is on the second floor and is probably the most haunted area of the house. The pages of a Bible that belonged to her have been seen turning on their own and a rocking chair in the corner is rumored to rock with nobody in it and it is too heavy to be rocked by wind. This chair did not belong to the Gaithers and is on loan from another location and the legend connected to it is that the woman who owned it had lost her baby. Occasionally there have been reports of people who have seen Cecilia sitting in the chair and rocking a baby, but perhaps it was the mother.

A volunteer and caretaker were in the kitchen when they heard voices coming from the front porch. They went to the door to see who was there and when they opened it, they found the porch empty. There was no one nearby who could have made the sound of voices they heard. The show "Vampire Diaries" filmed at the Gaither Plantation. Star Nina Dobrev claimed that a piano started playing on its own during a 2010 shoot. One of the Assistant Directors hollered, "Stop! Whoever that is stop the music. We're rolling. Cameras are on." When they went into the room where the piano was located, they found it empty. Nina also had the unnerving experience of having the lights go on and off erratically while she was in the bathroom. She thought the crew or some co-stars were playing tricks on her, but everybody denied playing with the power.

The Tyler Perry movie "Madea’s Family Reunion" was shot at the Gaither farmhouse and they experienced some activity. The director had called for quiet on the set as they prepared to film a scene. Suddenly, there were loud footsteps on the widow walk. The director yelled "cut" and was not pleased. He told an assistant to go find out who was up there and tell them to come downstairs. The assistant found no one, so they started the scene over again. Footsteps interrupted once again, only this time they were coming down the stairs. The director hollered for the person to come down and quit walking around. There was no response. A couple of people went and looked around and saw that there was no one on the stairs or near them. Just before the director yelled "action" to try filming for a third time he yelled, "Will the ghost of the house please cooperate!" They managed to film the scene without any further issues.

Central Georgia Paranormal Society investigated in 2013 and captured EVPs. In one recording, the group asked if there was a spirit in the house and it answered, "Hey!" In another capture they got the voice of a child saying, "Hello." They heard an audible heated discussion between two women coming from the empty attic. The front screen door also opened on its own and slammed shut. They investigated the church too and picked female voice in an EVP saying, "Willa." The group also has heard yelling, screaming and a choir in the church.

The Ghost Hunters investigated during Season 5 on episode 6. Judy Gaither Dial, the great-great-great granddaughter of W.H. and Cecilia Gaither, met the team and told them she has encountered the ghosts before. She told the guys that the doors on the buffet open and close on their own. And this isn't because the floor is unlevel because the doors will swing shut after they have opened. Judy also thinks that she was touched by Cecilia in Cecilia's bedroom. She felt a hand on her back when she was telling some friends about her great-great-great grandmother. The rocking chair in that room also moves on its own. The attic scares her and she won't go up there. Judy took the team out to the Baptist church that was moved onto the property and she told them that the chair behind the pulpit has vibrated and had an apparition of a man sitting in it. Marty Roberts, Jr. was the caretaker at the time of the investigation and he told the guys he had seen shadow figures and heard disembodied voices at the house. TAPS heard a voice in the attic and footsteps and shuffling. Jason put flour down on the floor to see if they could catch any footprints, particularly rodent footprints. This old school technique got them three footprints. They didn't match any of the patterns on their shoes. The team captured on video, the buffet doors opening on their own.

Judy has shared other experiences that she has had. She enjoyed sitting on the front porch swing and one time when she was sitting without swinging, she felt something unseen sit down next to her and then the swing started moving. Her feet couldn't reach the ground, so she knew it wasn't her moving the swing. Judy jumped off the swing and ran inside to tell Tracy, the caretaker at the time, what had happened. She expected Tracy to be shocked, but she only said, "It's happened to me too." Judy has heard many strange sounds in the house. Judy also claimed that a decorative bowl would move around. The Georgia Paranormal Research Team out of Dublin, Georgia investigated the house and they had an experience that backed up Judy's claims about the bowl. They placed a flat piece of paper under the bowl and then went to investigate the other rooms of the house. When they returned, not only had the bowl moved, but the piece of paper was crumpled up next to the bowl. They also recorded spirits knocking to let the investigators know that they were there. 

The church is reputedly pretty haunted as well since it was the scene of a murder-suicide. Whenever women sit or stand on the pulpit and sometimes even when they just pass by it, unexplained activity will start up in the church and women feel very unwelcome. The chair in the pulpit will begin to vibrate. A man has been seen sitting in the chair and his head would move around as though vibrating too, so maybe the chair just has issues with people sitting in it. 

There is much history at the Gaither's Plantation. Are some of the family members still sticking around? Do objects and furniture on the property have attachments? Is Gaither Plantation haunted? That is for you to decide!