Thursday, January 27, 2022

HGB Ep. 420 - Ellicott City

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Moment in Oddity - Shell Cave Grotto (Suggested by: Chelsea Flowers)

There is a very unusual grotto that can be found in Margate, Kent. Inside this intricate cave system are walls and walls covered in seashells. About 4.6 million of them to be exact. Nearly all the surface areas of the walls and the roof are covered. The shells are of a local variety including cockles, mussels, limpets, oysters and scallops and are thoughtfully placed in unique shapes and interesting murals and mosaics. The winding passageway goes for about 70 feet and ends in a rectangular room. This room measures 15 ft by 20 ft. There is another area called the Rotunda that is domed with an opening to let in sunlight. James Newlove is credited with the discovery of the shell cave grotto in 1835, but his children claimed to have found it years before and used it for a clubhouse of sorts. No one knows who constructed the grotto or when. Most theories assume that the place was used as a pagan temple. Others think this was a place where secret societies met. Whatever the case, it was used as a place to conduct seances for a time and today is a museum you can visit. The Shell Cave Grotto certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Dr. William Bryden Sole Survivor of Kabul Massacre

In the month of January, on the 13th, in 1842, British soldier Dr. William Bryden, the sole survivor of a massacre in Kabul escapes to safety. The Anglo-Afghan War started in 1839 after Britain interfered in Afghanistan's internal affairs by trying to replace the current Emir with a former Emir sympathetic to the British. By 1842, things were not going well for the British after they had successfully captured Kabul. They decided to withdraw on January 6, 1842, but bad weather slowed their progress. A group of Afghan soldiers caught up with the group at the Khyber Pass and attacked them killing many of them. The afghans hit again later and massacred everybody with only Dr. Bryden managing to escape. The massacre killed 4500 soldiers and 12,000 camp followers. The British retaliated by invading Kabul in 1843. An alliance was signed, but broken in 1878 with the Second Anglo-Afghan War.

Ellicott City (Suggested by: Melanie Antonelli)

Ellicott City is a suburb outside of Baltimore with a historic and shopping district that attracts visitors year round. And it makes sense that this would be a town to bring in tourists, as this is home to the first terminus of the B&O Railroad. Founded back in the late 1700s, there is a lot of history here. The city was named one of Trip Advisor's Top 10 Spooky American Getaways because this is quite the haunted town. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of Ellicott City!

Quakers founded Ellicott City in 1772. Brothers Andrew, Joseph and John Ellicott first arrived in 1771 and they chose the spot because of its location. They had big plans for milling and manufacturing. James Hood was already here and had built a gristmill, which he sold to Joseph in 1774. Hood's son Benjamin had built a corn grinding mill too. The brothers added a flour mill and called their town Ellicott's Mills for obvious reasons. This became one of the largest milling and manufacturing towns. The brothers convinced local farmers to switch from tobacco growing to wheat. The milling business eventually had issues and the family could no longer support it so they sold everything in 1840. The railroad came in 1830 with the B&O Railroad choosing this as their first terminus. Peter Cooper was a foundry owner in Baltimore and he built the first iron steam engine meant to transport people and named it Tom Thumb. A very famous race was held in August 1830 between a horse-drawn rail carriage and the Tom Thumb at Relay Junction between Ellicott's Mills and Baltimore to see which was faster. The horse won when the train's drive belt broke, but it gave the steam engine the boost it needed to get people excited about traveling via the rails in it.

The Civil War brought the Gaithers Raiders to town as they marched to Baltimore. Ellicott's Mills also got attention when Winans Steam Gun ended up in town on its way to Harpers Ferry and it was seized by the Union Army. Camp Johnson, which was a 1200 man group from the 12th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry, set up on the front lawn of the Patapsco Female Institute. The city saw no major battles though. In 1867, the city was incorporated and the name was changed to Ellicott City. The city has seen its troubles. The Temperance Movement came through, racist political gangs shot and wounded black voters in 1879 and a lynch mob hanged Jacob Henson after he murdered shop owner Daniel Shea in 1895. The mob was afraid the Governor would release Henson for insanity, so took matters into their own hands. After that, the Governor ordered all death row inmates to be sent to the Maryland Penitentiary. But that was the past. Today, Ellicott City is a beautiful town that has made it into the "20 Best Places to Live in the United States" by Money Magazine four times. And it is home to quite a few ghosts!

Howard County Welcome Center

Howard County Welcome Center is located at 8267 Main Street. This site once welcomed more than visitors to the town, this place welcomed the dead. The W.J. Brewley Funeral Home used to front this spot on main street. The Gaither Livery Stables were in the back.Two brothers ran the funeral parlor until one of them died in 1872. Stephen Hillsinger bought it at that time and continued with the same line of business renaming it The Hillsinger Undertaking Parlor. He ran that until 1922 when he died on Halloween night. This remained a funeral parlor until it was decided to build a post office. The buildings on the site were torn down in 1937. A stone building was erected and dedicated in 1940. In 1996, the basement was opened up for a visitor center and it moved top side when the postal service left in 2009. The building was fully restored in 2016. All the vintage fixtures and furnishings are still here. Artist Petro Paul De Anna made the oil paintings that decorate the west and east walls. These were done under a New Deal program created by President Franklin Roosevelt to help boost morale during the Great Depression. Visitors and employees claim to experience phantom smells, to see strange things and to hear odd sounds and the culprit most people blame are the funeral parlor businesses that were once here.

The Judge's Bench

The Judge's Bench Bar is located at 8385 Main Street. This had originally been the property of Thomas, Elias and William Brown who received the land in a grant in the 1700s. The Brown family held the property, which was known as Mount Misery, until 1819 and they sold it to Irvin McLaughlin. This was 10 acres of land and McLaughlin paid $5,000. In 1853, he sold the property to a twenty-seven-year old woman named Sophia Frost. She and her husband built a house here that also served as a confectioner's store. And the Frost family would hold it for almost 100 years, eventually selling to Joseph Berger and his wife. They opened a grocery there naming it Joe Berger's Grocery. The Bergers left in the 1960s and a flooring company moved in. The Judge's Bench opened in the 1970s and was thought to have its name inspired by judges and court officials who would hang out at the Frost store enjoying frosty beverages because it was across from the original courthouse. Buzz Suter bought the bar in 1992.

There is a ghost that haunts the property and many believe that this is Mary, the daughter of the Bergers. Even though the Bergers had there business in Ellicott City, they forbade their daughter from dating any boys in the city because it was such a rough place. As these legends go, Mary fell in love with a boy from the wrong side of the tracks and when her parents said she could never see him again, she climbed to the fourth story and hanged herself. Shortly after her funeral, people started claiming that they saw Mary in the store. People walking past the building when it was empty would claim to see a woman peering out of the windows, especially the attic windows. Liquor bottles fall down on their own behind the bar and one of the bar owners even found a bunch of whiskey bottles lined up neatly on the floor behind the bar one morning when he opened up. Construction workers also had experiences during renovation with seeing a female apparition. Employees have felt cold blasts in the attic and the toilets flush by themselves in the restroom. And one of the more bizarre stories has a bartender claiming that he fell in love with the female ghost and spoke to her often.

B&O Railroad Station Museum

The B&O Railroad Station Museum is located at 3711 Maryland Avenue and is the oldest commercial railroad station because it was the first. The B is in reference to Baltimore and O is for Ohio. This B&O Station was completed in 1831 and was the terminus between Baltimore and Ellicott Mills. Steam engines were repaired here and freight could be stored. The original station was not built for passengers, but during a mid-1800s remodel, waiting rooms were added: one for men and one for women and children. A brick freight house was added in 1885. Train activity fell off by 1928 and in the 1950s, the use of the station by passengers stopped. Freight was still transported until the early 1970s. The old station then became a museum and a haunted one at that.

The reasons for hauntings are the hundreds of deaths that have taken place along the line. The most recent deaths were in 2012. CNN reported on this, "Two teenage girls were killed early Tuesday when a train derailed on the bridge they were sitting on, spilling coal and burying the young women, police in Maryland said. Rose Mayr and Elizabeth Nass, both 19, were apparently sitting on a bridge ledge in Ellicott City, Maryland, just after midnight with their backs to the train when it derailed, according to a written statement from Howard County police. The two girls posted photos to Twitter shortly before the crash. One showed feet dangling over a road, with the caption “Levitating.” Another appeared to look down Main Street." Employees at the museum claim to hear the sounds of dragging across the floor like freight is being moved.

One evening, a group of Civil War re-enactors was staying overnight in the station. One of the men couldn't sleep, so he got up to wander around and ended up sitting on the steps right outside the station. Another man in military garb joined him and the two chatted for a bit and then the man walked away, but in the opposite direction of the station. The re-enactor called out to him asking why he wasn't heading back to the station and the man disappeared.

The Wine Bin

The Wine Bin had once been the Ellicott City Fire Department, Station 2. This is located at 8390 Main Street and was the third fire station in the city. Andrew Isaac had purchased the lot in 1860 and later sold it to Edward Brown who sold it to Charles T. Makinson in 1881. Makinson built a fine carriage factory on the site and it operated for 30 years until a fire destroyed the building. The lot was vacant for a while and then the Howard County Volunteer Fireman's Association bought it to build a firehouse. The structure was designed in the Colonial Revival style by architect Hubert G. Jory and built by the Mancini Construction Company out of Baltimore. The firehouse was completed in 1939 and dedicated on May 1, 1940. There was an octagonal lantern on top of the two-story structure that was inspired by the one at Doughoregan Manor and the building was embellished with Flemish bond brickwork, a battlemented top and Doric columns. The Wine Bin was opened here in 2008 by Dave Carney.

Firefighters reported sounds of silverware rattling in the kitchen when no one was in there. The old typewriter would type by itself. Activity always seemed to pick up when the trucks would go out on calls. They would lock up when leaving and when they would come back, they would find the place completely unlocked. Figuring that someone was playing a prank on them with a lost key, they changed all the locks, but the unlocking antics continued. The station's dog Yogi used to indicate that something was in the building that no one else could see. He would perk up his ears and sit upright and then seem to follow something coming through a door and walking down the hallway. Whatever was there seemed to be heading to the apartment where Fire Chief Harrison Shipley had lived with his family. Yogi would bark at times at the door there and no one was ever inside. The former Fire Chief is thought to be the ghost here. He served and lived here from 1935 to 1957.

When Dave Carney opened the Wine Bin here, he immediately felt the spirit. He told Shelley Davies Wygant in her book Haunted Ellicott City, "I could feel the Captain as soon as I entered the store. I felt that he was far from threatening. In fact, from stories that I heard on the Spirit Tour, he seemed quite playful. It's obvious that the Captain loves his Fire Station home and he shares it with the current owners." 

The Hayden House

The Hayden House on Park Avenue is also known as Oak Lawn and is attached to the Howard County Court House. This used to be a private residence for decades. Attorney Edwin P. Hayden, who was the first county clerk for Ellicott City, bought the plot of land from a woman named Deborah Disney in 1842. The house Hayden had built was a side-passage, double-pile plan with a raised basement and he later added a two-story cast iron porch to the front. Side passage architectural designs have offset front doors and the double-pile means the house is two rooms deep. There is no central passageway. The two-and-a-half story house is topped by a gabled roof. Hayden lived here with his wife and six children until his death in 1850. His family stayed and eventually opened up part of the house as the Oaklawn Seminary for Girls. In 1871, the house was sold to Henry E. Wooten. Eventually the house was bought by the county in 1937. A one-story addition was added somewhere around this time. The Board of Education started using the house as offices. The District Court then started using the house and today it is the law library, which works out well since the house is surrounded on three sides by the Courthouse.

There have been many unexplained occurrences in the house with coffee pots turning themselves on even when not plugged in and the lights turn on and off by themselves. And then there is "The Cooking Ghost." There is no longer a kitchen in the building so the scent of soup or bacon and eggs is strange. Disembodied footsteps would also be heard. A worker in the building reported seeing the full-bodied apparition of a man and many believe that this is Hayden returned back to his house in the afterlife.

The Lilburn House

The Lilburn Mansion is located at 3899 College Avenue and thought to be one of the most haunted locations in Ellicott City. The mansion was built in the Gothic and Romanesque Revival styles in 1857 by a rich businessman named Henry Richard Hazelhurst. He named it Hazeldene. Stone and granite were used in the construction and give it a castle-like look, as does the four-story medieval tower. There were 20 rooms in the 7,000 square foot house with 12-foot high ceilings and seven marble fireplaces. The property also had a three-story carriage house and a three level smoke house. Hazelhurst added to his riches with a booming iron business during the Civil War. He died in 1900 at the age of 85. Several different owners then had the mansion. John McGinnis bought the mansion in 1923. A fire broke out on Christmas of that year and thankfully the McGinnis' got out safely, but the house was heavily damaged. They rebuilt the house in the same design, but changed the tower. Then the Baldwin Family became the new owners, eventually selling to Dr. Eugenia King & her son. The house was restored in 1983 by a new family and they sold it again in 1988. There was an attempt to rezone the house into a bed and breakfast in 2005, but nothing came of it and it remains a private residence. 

When the mansion was rebuilt after the fire, paranormal activity started and some believe this happened because the tower was changed. This was the most distinctive element of the house and something Hazelhurst probably really loved. The family also lost several children and Mrs. Hazelhurst died in the house. Nearly the entire family died before Mr. Hazelhurst, so there was real sorrow here too. Housekeepers claimed to see the apparition of a little girl wearing a chiffon dress. She would run about all the rooms. She was also seen once walking down a hallway, holding the hand of a male entity. The sounds of a crying child are often heard in an upstairs bedroom. The apparition of a man materialized in a doorway. The dog of one of the owners would never enter a certain room on the second floor. Disembodied footsteps are heard climbing the stairs in the tower and the windows would open by themselves. One owner, Mr. Balderson, tied them down because it became such an issue. The windows still opened on their own. The aroma of cigar smoke is detected in the library and a heavy chandelier was known to sway vigorously on a couple of occasions during parties.

Patapsco Female Institute

The Patapsco Female Institute was one of the first female institutes in the south and was chartered in January of 1834. Architect Robert Cary Long Jr. designed the Greek-revival styled building and it was  built by Charles Timanus. Timanus had also built the Court House. The institute officially opened on January 1, 1837 and was advertised as a finishing school for women, but it didn't have much success. This all changed in 1840, when Almira Hart Lincoln Phelps was appointed principal. Phelps was a well-known and respected scientist, educator and author. She changed the focus of the school to training young women to support themselves through teaching. Students ranged in age from 12 to 18 and the maximum number enrolled at one time was 150. Student were charged a basic fee for room, board, washing, and basic instruction in English. Girls could take other courses for additional fees. Phelps helped the women who graduated to find employment. In 1856, Phelps didn't renew her lease on the institute and she was replaced by Robert Harris Archer.

Archer gave the women more freedom, enlarged the school and charged higher fees. The school body made more of an impact on the local town and everything was going well until the Civil War. Archer's finances took a hit and the school was closed for a time. As mentioned earlier, the 12th New Jersey Regiment set up camp on the front lawn. By 1871, Archer was too ill to run the school and the lease was transferred to his second wife, Mary. She ran the school with her step-daughter Roberta until 1877 when they transferred the school to Washington, D.C. and renamed it the Archer Institute. The PFI continued to run under various women until 1891 when the school was closed and the joint stock company was dissolved. The property was sold to James E. Tyson. 

The building was turned into a summer hotel called the Burg Alnwick Hotel and ran that way until 1905 when  Lilly Tyson made it a private home. During World War I, the building served as a hospital for wounded veterans returning to the States. For a time it was a theater and then a private home again. Dr. Whisman bought the property in 1958 and he opened up a nursing home. That didn't last long when the county demanded that all wood be removed from the property to prevent a fire and that left behind a ruin. The doctor willed the property to the University of Cincinnati. The county bought building in 1966 and it has been under the care of the Friends of the Patapsco Institute ever since. The building was declared unrestorable, but the land around it was turned into a park.

The Patapsco Female Institute is rumored to be haunted. Two women were walking the grounds once and one of the women looked up and saw a man on top of the building. She assumed he was a workman. Then the man seemed to disappear, so she asked her friend where the man had gone. The other woman said that she had seen no man at all. This led the other woman to believe she had seen a ghost. A female ghost is the most seen spirit here. The story goes that a woman named Annie Van Derlot died of pneumonia while attending the institute. There is no record of her, but people continue to refer to her as Annie or Anna. She is seen wearing a long dress and is usually descending the stairs that are still a part of the ruin.

Historic Mt. Ida is currently the visitor center and office for the Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park. In the 1850s Judge John Snowden Tyson purchased the mansion. His daughter, “Miss Ida” Tyson, was the last of the family to live here, and it is rumored that her ghost still watches over her home. In life, Miss Ida kept a ring of keys with her at all times, and witnesses say they hear her keys jingling as her ghost walks through the house. 

7 Hills Road

And finally we have probably the most creepy and fun legend in this city. 7 Hills Road lets people experience a demon driver and our listener who suggested this episode had her own as well. The road got its name from the fact the it rolls over seven hills. The legend claims that if you hit the seventh hill at midnight, you will be chased by a demon driver in a truck. Melanie's experience: "I had an experience with The Demon Driver. Growing up, Ellicott City was just minutes from my parent's house.  As a teen, I spent hundreds of hours hiking the surrounding park, checking out the ruins, swimming in the Patapsco and hanging out on Main Street. But that was a long time ago. I live about an hour to the North now... and, we have parks up here, too. One day at work, one of my office workers had finished her assignment early and was using her free time to explore haunted places in Maryland that she might visit for some Halloween fun.  I tuned in to her conversation when she began talking about Ellicott City. My memories of the place were pleasant...not haunted.
She then starts reading this story off the internet about the 'Demon Driver' on Campus Road.... apparently, people driving on that road at midnight have been followed by an old car driven by a person without a head.... I, literally, felt my stomach drop to the floor.  Goosebumps broke out as a very old, a neglected memory surfaced.  And, I could hear my high school friend saying over and over in a panicked voice, 'I can't see his head!' Back in High School, my friend and I would jump in her car on a Friday night and just drive. One night, we were roaming the roads around Ellicott City trying to figure out life at sixteen.  It was around midnight when we decided to give 'Seven Hills' a try.  (Seven Hills is the local name for Campus Road.... because it has seven sharp drops).  We were cruising at a conservative speed... the road is known for being dangerous. This car came up behind us out of nowhere.  Its grill was broader than her mid 90's Nissan Sentra and its headlights lit up the cockpit of her car.  Conversation lulled as the driver behind us pressured her to go faster.  After a couple of minutes, I made a comment about the driver behind us being a jerk.  With a high, tight note in her voice, she said, 'Melanie, I can't see his head.' 'What?' 'He doesn't have a head!'  I turned around in my seat, and sure enough, the cockpit of the car behind us appeared to be empty.  She, being the strong, reasonable person that she (still) is, maintained her speed and got us to the bottom of the dangerous road.  The whole time glancing back and forth in the rearview mirror, muttering, 'I can't see his head.'
Once we got to the bottom, the car disappeared.  We both assumed he had pulled into a driveway... or something. I had never heard that legend until my office worker read it in the office that day, years later.  But, that memory jumped up so fast. Twenty-five years later, my friend still shuts me down when I try to remind her."

Ellicott City sounds like a neat town to hang out for some shopping, a beer and some spooks! Is Ellicott City in Maryland haunted? That is for you to decide!

Honorable mention for a couple of spots that don't have any hauntings, but sound like cool abandoned places to check out. The Enchanted Forest Theme Park had been here in Ellicott City. The remnants of it are now located behind a strip mall. This roadside amusement park opened in 1955 and featured a ride throught the caves of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, the Little Toot tugboats on the pond, Mount Vesuvius, Jungle Land and Cinderella's Castle. It grew to over 52 acres and was open until 1989. Part of the park was bulldozed to make room for a shopping mall. Some rides were moved to Clark's Elioak Farm, but the rest of the artifacts had been left behind until around 2017 when the rest of the stuff was removed and replaced by a U-store. Atlas Obscura has a couple of pictures. (Urban Atrophy Pics)

Melanie wrote, "Up another hill are the ruins of St. Mary's Seminary or, as it is more commonly known, 'Hell House'. The steep stairs leading to the grounds of the Seminary are still there in the hillside. It is quite a hike, but totally worth it! Although the building is gone, at the top of the hill, there is a large concrete arch with an 8' metal skeleton of a cross on an alter. It is reputed to be the location of devil worship and all kinds of weird stuff.  But, it's so cool." St. Mary's College was built in 1868 to train men to be priests. The school shut down in 1972 and a developer bought the property to make apartments. The project was abandoned as was the property, which was vandalized and took on the name Hell House. A fire destroyed a large part of the building in 1997. The coolest thing left is what Melanie described. There is this altar beneath a crumbling colonnaded pavilion with a large metal cross sitting beneath the faux-classical dome. At least there was. Atlas Obscura wrote a couple of updates on their website: "Update February 2020: The gazebo, altar, and nearby stones have all been mysteriously painted with symbols and other drawings, all black and white. Update June 2020: All remaining structures have been bulldozed." So this may no longer exist either. (Forsaken Fotos on Flickr)

Thursday, January 20, 2022

HGB Ep. 419 - Holly Hotel

Moment in Oddity - Eggnog Riot of 1826

Ever heard of an Eggnog Riot? How about a Grog Mutiny? In December of 1826, the United States Academy at West Point, with all of its discipline, descended into a drunken riotous party. Colonel Sylvanus Thayer was in charge of the school and he had banned drinking, tobacco and gambling. Eggnog had become popular and more readily available at this time in America. George Washington was known to enjoy his eggnog with a liberal amount of rum or whiskey. The soldiers at West Point were determined to celebrate Christmas with some spirits. They snuck in gallons of brandy, rum, whiskey and wine and planned to mix it with homemade eggnog. The officer assigned to watch the North Barracks, Captain Ethan Allen Hitchcock, went to bed on Christmas Day thinking that the cadets were not going to throw a party. He was wrong and the cadets in the North Barracks started partying. By 4am, the party was spiraling out of control. The Captain was awakened and he entered one of the party rooms and told the cadets their party was unlawful and they were going to be punished. The drunken cadets turned on him, throwing rocks through his window. They also rampaged through the hallways with muskets, bayonets and swords and even took shots at the Captain. Things ballooned into a riot with more than one-third of the cadets involved. When everything wrapped up, 70 cadets were implicated with 20 of them court-martialed. An eggnog riot, especially at West Point, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Avalanche in Peru Kills Thousands

In the month of January, on the 10th, in 1962, and avalanche kills thousands in Peru. There were several small farming communities that had formed in the Rio Santa Valley in the shadow of Mount Huascaran, part of the Andes Mountains. This mountain was notorious for cracking off ice and snow, but villagers usually had plenty of warning to get to higher ground. On this particular day, things happened so fast that there was no escape. The block of ice that broke off was the size of two skyscrapers and weighed millions of ton. The avalanche it created traveled nine-and-a-half miles in only seven minutes. Whole towns were buried in up to 40 feet of ice and mud and trees. Barely anyone survived. Four thousand people were believed to have died with many bodies never being recovered. Some washed away as far as the Pacific Ocean in flooding created by the avalanche. That was a distance of 100 miles.

Holly Hotel (Suggested by: Chelsea Flowers)

The Holly Hotel is located in Holly, Michigan and has survived through several fires, the Great Depression, two world wars and a visit from the infamous temperance leader Carrie Nation. This is a beautiful Queen Anne Victorian that once provided lodging to railroad men and is today a popular restaurant that reputedly is full of ghosts. Join us as we share the history and hauntings of the Holly Hotel!

Holly, Michigan is a village located in the thumb area of the mitten about 55 miles northwest of Detroit. Nathan Herrick was the first settler to arrive in 1830. A little over a decade later, a sawmill and a grist mill were built and in 1850, the village was official when the post office was opened. At the time it was known as Holly Mills. The name changed to Holly officially in 1861. No one knows for sure where the name came from. Holly does grow in the area and an earlier settler named Jonathan Allen did come from Mount Holly, New Jersey so there are multiple possibilities. When the Detroit & Milwaukee Railroad came to town, twenty-five trains a day stopped here and the village began to prosper. Soon hotels were needed for railroad men and travelers and the Hirst Hotel would open in 1891.

John Henry Hirst was born in 1857 and he built the first hotel to stand on the site at 110 Martha Street in 1891, naming it after himself. Martha Street was mainly known as Battle Alley because of all the street fights that took place here and the name stuck into the modern era, so the street is officially known as Battle Alley today. The structure was built from wood and was soon destroyed in a fire that happened in April of 1892. Hirst decided to rebuild and chose to use bricks this time. This would also be a more elaborate hotel. He hired George Stanard and John Laneto to design and build it. The new hotel was built from red brick in the Queen Anne style and was two and half stories with a gabled hip-roof and every modern convenience of the time. It was completed at a cost of $16,000 and was said to be the finest hotel in Oakland County with the largest dining room in the area. Hirst's wife Lydia died in 1903 and he remarried in 1904. He held onto the hotel for a couple more years and decided to sell, which he did in August of 1906 to a man named Alfred Jones. Jones then immediately transferred ownership to a man named F.W. Johnson and then leased it from him for two years.

The site would suffer its second fire and this new hotel would have the first of two major fires it would endure in July of 1907. The roof was completely destroyed and the interior had smoke and water damage. The interior was restored and the roof was replaced and the hotel would change its name to the Holly Inn. The following year would bring another force of nature to the hotel. Carrie Nation brought her hatchet to town on August 29, 1908. She brought a group of Pro-Temperance supporters with her and they used umbrellas to club patrons at the Holly Hotel. Nation was already angry about the drinking, but when she saw the painting of a scantily clad woman above the bar she weilded her ax and took out a row of whiskey bottles. The owner had Nation arrested and when Governor Fred Warner heard that news, he made his way to town to use the incarceration for political means. He popped into Holly to make a re-election campaign speech, which had a spotlight on it. Nation got out of prison and confronted the Governor yelling, "You're a coward!" since he wouldn't crack down on liquor. The Governor left town quickly after that. The Holly Hotel commemorates Nation's visit every year with a re-enactment of her visit, but we imagine without the busted alcohol bottle. They also have a special menu and, of course, drink specials.

The second major fire for the hotel happened on January 19, 1913 and The Flint Journal reported, "Fire which is believed to have originated in a clothes chute where someone carelessly threw a match, totally destroyed the Holly Inn here yesterday. The estimated loss is $20,000, of which only $8,000 was covered by insurance. The fire had worked its way up the elevator shaft to the third floor before being discovered. The flames were noticed by several persons at the same time, and when the fire department reached the hotel the roof was ablaze. The hotel was a brick structure, built in 1892. It was owned by Mrs. Marie Powell, of Pontiac, and conducted by Otis Kennedy. Very little furniture or clothing was saved from the fire, and several of the guests had narrow escapes."

Mrs. Powell decided to sell the property rather than rebuild. Joseph P. Allen became the new owner and he was going to add a new element to the hotel when he rebuilt. He had obtained a liquor license, so there would now be a bar. Allen rebuilt the front entrance with a Tuscan columned porch and took the top story off the corner tower. The interior had elegant custom millwork with rich woods, tin ceilings, lead glass, luxurious velvets and plaster walls. The restaurant featured china and fine linens. Joseph renamed the hotel for himself, The Allendorf, taking inspiration from New York's Waldorf Hotel. People came from all over the Midwest just to eat here. The Sunday dinners were famous and priced at 50 cents per person. Things went great until Prohibition came to town and shut down the bar, Allen innovated and added an ice cream parlor and movie theater to try to make up the revenue lost at the bar. He sold the hotel in 1930 to Henry Norton who changed the name to Hotel Norton. It was at this time that the hotel mainly became a dining establishment as rail travel dropped off drastically. 

In a bizarre synchronicity only HGB listeners could appreciate, the hotel suffered another devastating fire exactly 65 years to the day as the 1913 blaze. Some accounts claim it was even exact to the hour. Faulty wiring completely gutted the interior. The ruined building was bought by local residents Dr. Leslie Sher and his wife and they decided that if they were going to rebuild, they were going to return the hotel to the way it looked in 1892 and that's just what they did, which included salvaging pressed tin from the ceiling and ceramic tiles from the floor. They used local historians to help ensure everything was painstakingly exact to as the hotel had been in its glory days. They reopened in 1979 as a fine dining restaurant and they called it the  Historic Holly Hotel. The following year it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Today, the Holly Hotel is owned by George and Chrissy Kutlenios. The hotel still has its three-story, helmut-domed, octagonal corner tower and hip-roof. There are three main floor dining rooms and two private banquet rooms. The Holly Hotel is one of the few properties to have had continual food service into three centuries. And the hotel is going to be featured in a Hallmark-style Christmas Movie named "Christmas at the Holly Hotel" in 2022. You know, home town girl leaves New York to help folks run the hotel and she falls in love with the police chief.

The Holly Hotel website says, "True to historic accounts from the turn of the century, the Main Dining Room has been decorated in burgundies, mauves and warm, dark oak, all typifying the Victorian Era. Rich Axminster carpeting provides an elegant field for the Victorian pedestal tables red velvet wing-back chairs, and arched, stained glass windows. Authentic Victorian gas fixtures reflect a soft light from the embossed tin ceilings. The dining rooms, each with it’s own distinctive character, have been appointed to blend true Victorian tradition with the spirit of the bustling railroad era." The restaurant has won numerous awards. Many of their recipes date back to the original hotel. And they have a comedy club here that has hosted the likes of Soupy Sales, Jackie Vernon, Bill Mahar, Pat Paulsen, Judy Tenta and Tim Allen. 

Octobers are special at the hotel. This establishment embraces its spirits, and we aren't talking about the ones Carrie Nation busted up. Several paranormal groups have investigated here and captured evidence and the end of October features Victorian seances. And they offer a special haunted dinner menu. And the fun with ghosts continues into December when the hotel hosts the Spirit of Christmas with an Olde Fashioned Christmas Celebration, complete with characters from Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. Professor of Parapsychology Norman Gauthier visited the hotel in 1989 and declared that it was "loaded with spirits." And many people agree with him believing that the Holly Hotel is the most haunted historic building in Michigan and maybe even one of the most haunted hotels in America.

Hotel owner Chrissy Kutlenios said in an article in 2009 that she had heard hundreds of experiences from guests and employees in the 30 years she had owned the building at that point. She even had her own experience in February of 1996. On that particular morning, she entered the building and began to walk the dining rooms for a quick morning inspection. When she came around a corner, she saw the full-body apparition of a Native American Indian, minus his feet. She said of it, "It was strikingly real and in three seconds it was gone. It was a very, very frightening experience and one that I haven’t been able to recreate." The spirit was only seen that one time and has never returned. This is very interesting because one has to wonder what a Native American spirit would be doing inside this hotel. Was there something he was connected to with the land?

One of the most widely experienced unexplained happenings are phantom smells. So here we go with our nose pictures again, but they are pretty reliable, especially when it comes to cigar smoke and old lady perfume. There is no smoking in the building, but the original owner of the hotel, John Hirst, enjoyed his cigars. And we imagine several bar patrons did as well. Guests claim to catch a scent of cigar tobacco on occasion describing it as barely a whiff at times and overpowering at others. And a flowery perfume is often detected as well. Mr. Hirst is the most prominent ghost here and he shows up in ways that are not just olfactory. He has appeared as a full-bodied apparition although that is very rare. When he is seen, he is wearing a frock coat and top hat. Hirst generally sticks to the top of the stairs, but has been seen a few times in the Carry Nation Banquet Room. The lower level of the Hotel once had the tonsorial parlor and he likes this area as well, especially with the cigar smoke. For those who don't know, a tonsorial parlor was a fancy barber shop. EVPs of someone believed to be Hirst have been captured. These usually feature a faint, baritone laugh. A couple of employees claim to have heard this audibly as well.

When the investigation group Highland Ghost Hunters investigated the building, they claimed that the door to the attic swung open by itself even though it was supposed to be locked. A medium named Kirsten Stanley-Morin felt an overwhelming presence of a woman when she visited the hotel. People believe this may be Nora Kane. She was the hotel hostess in the early 1900s. Her portrait is on display in the restaurant's main lobby wearing a mourning dress. She was a beautiful and petite woman who enjoyed playing music, so if you hear piano music in the air when no one is at the piano, it is probably her playing the tune. Her soft disembodied singing is heard as well. Occasionally, people playing at the piano have heard a feminine voice whisper in their ear a tune she would like to hear. The perfume scent that people have detected is thought to be hers. She likes to hang out in the turret area in the main bar and the back hallway. Nora's figure has been captured in photos, particularly during weddings that are hosted at the hotel. She is usually wearing a beautiful dress and looks graceful, but what convinces people that she doesn't belong in the pictures is that she is cut off at the knees. 

And then there is the ghost in the kitchen. Nora Kane had a daughter and she is wearing the mourning dress in her portrait because that daughter passed away. This little girl ghost likes to hang out in the kitchen and she plays with many of the pots, pans, dishes and utensils, moving them all around . Many of these date back to the turn of the century. It is a bit troubling that her favorite implement is a meat clever. This spirit sometimes plays on the banquet room steps as well, running up and down them. And there are some who claim that this actually might be the spirit of another little girl who died in an accident in the livery stable. Possibly there are spirits of two little girls here. The spirit that has materialized sometimes appears to be between the ages of ten and thirteen and she has red hair. She is a happy and playful spirit whoever she might be as her disembodied giggling is heard. This young ghost made its presence known during a seance in the early 1990s.

There is an animal spirit here too that many people believe is the Hirst's rat terrier dog that they named Leona. The sound of a dog running in the hallways is heard even though there are no animals in the building. The feeling of an animal brushing up against a leg has been felt by guests and employees. And disembodied barking is heard, especially in the early morning hours by kitchen staff. 

Sally wrote in 2016, "I live in Holly and frequent the Hotel quite often for their tea hour and Sunday brunches. It took several times before I finally had an experience. To be honest it wasn’t even on my radar, and was the very last thing on my mind. When you live here in Holly you hear about it all the time and eventually take it with a grain of salt. While in the bathroom freshening up, all alone standing at the sink I had the most cliche of experiences, but one that frightened me to the core. The air became very cold, not drafty but icy. I looked at myself in the mirror and actually saw my hair moving from the breeze (there are no windows in the bathroom) as I turned to leave I actually turned my body so I was face to face with a woman. She was most definitely not of this world. She had very long black hair, her head was down and her arms were out as if she wanted me to hand her something. She looked to be “misty” with very torn clothing and greasy looking hair. I tore out of there faster than I have ever moved in my life! While in the basement on another occasion at the comedy club, we were some of the first to arrive. We ordered our cocktails and were chatting when the same cold air came in. It’s a completely different feel than a cool breeze from outdoors. It actually makes the hair on your neck and arms stand up and the eerie feeling that comes with it is unmistakable. We stayed for the show with no further incidents, but I am now a true believer."

Robin wrote in 2018, "My Aunt and Uncle owned the Holly Hotel for many years. They operated it as a boarding house, bar, package liquor store, pool hall and restaurant, serving hamburgers and pizza. They lived on the second floor in a large apartment. It always smelled like cigars, everywhere We had the run of the place. We had experiences down in the cellar/basement where we played on our Uncles old /illegal slot machines and often times when we ran up and down the large staircases. We just got use to the fact that our balls would be moved around on the old pool tales or “someone” would brush past us on the stairs. We would say things like “hey, leave my #3 ball alone.” or “you’re in my way,” while on the stairs. Nothing too frightening ever happened. As an older adult we had a lunch at the Holly Hotel after our Aunt died five years ago. We, again, went all over the building and the only place I felt some presence was in the lady’s bathroom."

Alex Cripps was a former employee and he said, "I never believed in it until I decided to work here, and it’s one of those things that you have no choice of not believing. There’s just too much activity. It’s just too frequent to just pass it off as something else and act like it’s nothing." Based on all these accounts, it does seem that paranormal activity is frequent here. It would be cool if that Christmas movie manages to capture some evidence during filming. Is the Holly Hotel haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, January 13, 2022

HGB Ep. 418 - Epping Forest

Moment in Oddity - Roman Dodecahedron

Brian Campbell was digging around in his yard in Romford, East London in 1987 when his shovel hit something metal. He quickly uncovered the clay-caked object and discovered an interesting artifact. He wasn't sure what to make of it and assumed it was some kind of measuring tool because it had multiple sized holes in the round object with 12 sides that was smaller than a tennis ball. He kept it on the windowsill and didn't think much of it until he saw a similar object decades later in a museum in Germany. It was then he discovered it was a Roman dodecahedron. The first was discovered 300 years ago and archaeologists have been baffled by them ever since. The artifacts are finely crafted from metal. More than 100 have been found in total and they are of varying sizes. There is no written documentation in any historical sources to shed light on their use. Were they used in trade like coins? Were they for ornamentation? Were they used in magical practices? Or were they a measuring tool as Campbell suspected? Nobody knows and that makes the Roman dodecahedron, very odd!

This Month in History - Georgia Becomes a State

In the month of January, on the 2nd, in 1788, Georgia becomes a state. Georgia was named after King George II and Europeans first settled it in 1733. That first settlement was Savannah. Georgia was one of the most prosperous British colonies, but that didn't stop the patriots in Georgia from sending delegates to the Second Continental Congress. The colony remained deeply divided during the Revolutionary War and Savannah was a stronghold for the British. In 1787, two Georgians named Abraham Baldwin and William Few Jr., signed the new U.S. Constitution at the Constitutional Convention. When the Constitution was ratified by Georgia on that day in January, it became the fourth state to enter the Union.

Epping Forest

There is nothing quite so epic when it comes to ghost stories as a haunted wood. About an hour outside of London is Epping Forest. This is an ancient woodland with more aged trees than any other site in the United Kingdom. One can only imagine how many elementals and fae people must call this place home. There is history and some legends and, of course, ghosts. Join us as we set off on an adventure through Epping Forest!

Waltham Forest is an outer borough of London, bordered by Essex, that was established in 1965. It's name is taken from an ancient woodland called Waltham Forest. The Waltham name was probably derived from Walthamtow. Roman and Saxon settlements cut down much of the original woodland and remnants of their settlements are still found in the borough to this day. What is left of that former woods is Epping Forest, which lies on a ridge between two rivers, Lea and Roding and covers 5,900 acres. This is more commonly known as the "People's Forest." Epping Forest is also its own government district in Essex that was formed in 1974. The town is referred to as a market town and is known to draw visitors to its steam engine tours, antique shops and historical re-enactments.

No one is sure just how ancient Epping Forest is, but it first was recorded in writing in the 17th century. Ruins dating to the Iron-Age were found, so the forest clearly dates back to that time. Benjamin Harris Cowper discovered an Iron-Age camp in 1872 and it was excavated by General Augustus Pitt-Rivers in 1881. The site was dated to 500 BC and is today marked off as several hill forts that sit in a line. They are named: Loughton Camp, Ambresbury Banks, Wallbury Camp, Little Hadham, Barkway and Littlebury. Loughton Camp covers 10 acres and is located at one of the highest points in Epping Forest. This camp more than likely had a single high rampart and there is a stone Iron Age grain millstone nearby. Ambresbury Banks is spread over 11 acres with a six foot high bank encircling it, hence where the Banks part of its name comes from. Puddingstone blocks were used in its construction.

(Rabbit hole) Puddingstone is a conglomeration of round pebbles that have been cemented to each other. The fact that the pebbels have colors that contrast with whatever cements them together is what gives them the name puddingstone because it looks like a Christmas pudding. Puddingstone is usually named after the paerticular area that it originates so there is Roxbury puddingstone, Hertfordshire puddingstone, Schunemunk puddingstone, St. Joseph Island puddingstone and so on. This is all naturally forming and the material that cements the pebbles varies from sand to silica to sandstone.

Not much is known about the other hill camps. Boudica is a British folk hero who was the queen of the British Iceni tribe. This was a group that rose up against the Roman Empire in 61 BC. There is a local legend that claims that Boudica used the camps for their last stand, but there has never been evidence of that found. The battle that legend claims took place on Ambresbury Banks was similar to the Battle of Bull Run. Families came out to watch that first battle of the Civil War in their wagons and the same was true for the Iceni. They far outnumbered the Romans and thought this would be a quick battle, just as Bull Run was predicted to be. Boudica's charge was faltered because they had to go uphill and the Romans fired a hail of javelins. The Iceni tried to retreat, but the wagons blocked them and trapped them and the Romans had a huge victory. Boudica and her daughters suicided on poison before the battle concluded. But again, in the dozens of times archaeologists have excav ated here, they found no evidence for this battle. Historians believe that it more than likely took place near Mancetter in Warwickshire. But the interesting thing is that the spirit of Boudica has been seen wandering around Ambresbury Banks and Loughton Camp. The sounds of drums and marching soldiers have also been heard.

The Anglo-Saxons cut down much of the forest in the area of the hill forts. The trees in this area were clearly a reforestation after the forts were abandoned because they are mostly wild service trees. There are many varieties of trees found in the forest including the beech-birch and oak-hornbeam trees. There are still around 55,000 ancient trees here including ancient Pollarding Trees. The Epping Forest also has around 100 ponds, grasslands, streams, a bog and a heath. Some of the ponds are man made since cattle were allowed to roam here. Other ponds formed from bomb impacts. Timber from the trees was used in the shipbuilding industry for the Royal Navy.

Much like the forest near St Briavels Castle, Epping Forest was a royal forest, first gaining that legal status during the 12th century under Henry II. Royalty would hunt here and villagers were allowed to let their cattle graze and they could gather firewood. The use of it as a hunting ground continued up through Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth I. Henry VIII had a building known as the Great Standing built in 1543 to be used as a lodge. The building is still there and open to the public under the name Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge. It offers a great view of Chingford. Deer were the most popular game sought in the forest. There were populations of both red deer and black deer. Today, red deer or Roe deer are no longer found in the forest. There had been an ancient tradition known as the Easter Monday Stag Hunt, which officially ended in 1807. There were still some hunters who engaged in it after that time until a riot brought it to an end in 1882.

There were several lords who had manors in the forest and they erected many enclosures, which caused strife for years. The commoners would break down the fences on occasion, so their cattle could graze freely. By 1878, Epping Forest was under the jurisdiction of the City of London Corporation and no longer a royal forest. The city purchased the nineteen manors. Many things changed after this, starting with no more hunting for the Crown. People had more ability to let their cattle graze in the forest and they could collect firewood. One person was hired as the primary caretaker of the forest and this was the Superintendent. Twelve Forest Keepers were also appointed. On Whit Monday in 1880 they recorded 400,000 people in the forest. Queen Victoria visited in 1882 and reiterated that the wood was the People's Forest. The forest would reach the modern era when a road was planned out through the center of it and is today known as the Epping New Road that is part of the A104.

The Butler's Retreat is another building that remains from Victorian times and is adjacent to the Queen's Hunting Lodge. It is named for John Butler who once owned the property. The building was refurbished and reopened in 2012 as a cafe. Along with the lodge and the retreat, there is a coach house and stables that have been opened as an interpretation center. These four buildings make up the Epping Forest Gateway. Today, Epping Forest is made up of a Lower Forest, which is just north of the town of Epping; Bell Common that has a cricket pitch; Epping Thicks where the Ambresbury Banks Iron Age fort is located; Genesis Slade; Great Monk Wood; High Beech; Bury Wood and Chingford Plain, which has a golf course; Knighton Wood and Lords Bushes; Hatch Forest and Highams Park; Woodford Green, which also has a cricket pitch; Walthamstow Forest and Gilbert's Slade; Leyton Flats; Bush Wood and Wanstead Flats and Wanstead Park. And there are three visitor centers.

There are many legends connected to the forest and a few ghost stories. One legend features the highwayman Dirk Turpin who has turned up in a couple of our episodes. Turpin was born in Essex and took after his father as a butcher. In the 1730s, he joined an Essex gang of deer thieves. They were known as the Gregory Gang and they were notoriously violent. He eventually left them and became the legendary highwayman we all know him as. Loughton Camp in Epping Forest was a place of refuge for him and also his hunting ground. He worked with Thomas Rowden and eventually there was a bounty on their heads. A servant of one of the Forest Keepers named Thomas Morris saw Turpin in his hideaway in Epping Forest and decided to try to apprehend him. Turpin shot and killed him.

Eventually, Turpin was arrested and hanged in York in Knavesmire (York) on April 7, 1739. Turpin was buried in St. George's Churchyard in York, but his body didn't stay there long. He was exhumed by a man who sold him to a doctor that wanted to dissect Turpin's body. An angry mob showed up before that could happen and the doctor and body thief were arrested. Turpin was reburied, but he would not have a headstone for 200 years. Perhaps it was this little episode that has caused Turpin to be at unrest. His spirit is said to walk through Epping Forest and likes to hang out at his former haunt (hideout) near Loughton Camp. 

This wasn't the only crime going on in the forest. The Epping Forest is a good place to make things disappear and to dump a body or two. More than a dozen murder victims have been found in the forest since the 1960s. The most recent was in 2015. One of the more bizarre murders was of Patricia Parsons in 1990. She ran a local massage parlor. She apparently had a little black book of clients and was going to sell the details to a newspaper. So clearly more than massage was going on here. It is believed a contract was placed on her head and she was found dead in her car with a bolt from a cross-bow through her head. The murder remains unsolved. And there was a hit man style execution of an accountant named Terence Gooderham and his girlfriend Maxine Arnold in the forest in 1989. Gooderham was believed to have worked for the Clerkenwell crime syndicate laundering money and he extorted 250,000 pounds for himself. Nobody has ever been convicted of the murders, but a man described as "Britain's most notorious hitman", James Moody, was believed to be the trigger man.

A paper clipping from March of 1878 tells the story of an apparent suicide at Knocker's Pond, which is at Lindsey Street. It reads, "Early on Wednesday morning a hat and coat were seen by Mr. Bates' milk boy lying by the side of Knocker's Pond in Lindsey Street, Epping. The pond is a large one, within sight of a number of cottages, which get the greater part of their water supply from it. Under the coat was found the following letter: 'My dear brother - when you receive this my body will be lying in the pond at the lane near Epping. My brain is gone mad through that cursed horse racing and betting. I have spent my last penny in the town for bread, but I am driven mad through Croydon races. Please break the news to my unhappy wife and children. Tell her I have found her last words came true. Keep this from poor father, as it break his heart. Goodbye, my brother Walter; if it possible, never remember me no more. From your unhappy brother.'" The letter was addressed to a Thomas Morris and the paper says the pond was searched and dragged and no body was ever found.

So that's the real story, but the pond does have an amazing legend. The story morphed into a milkman and milk cart that managed to crash into the pond after he fell asleep while driving. Now people claim to see a cart and horses being driven by a headless man emerging from the depths of the pond on occasion. There are even some who claim it is carrying a body to the Angel in the Epping Cemetery in Bury Lane. Another story about this pond dates to the 1960s when visitors to the forest claimed to see two ghostly figures emerge from the pond and they were on horseback. They then rode in the direction of town. And speaking of ponds and suicide, there is another legend that claims another pond deep in the forest draws people to it to commit suicide in the water. This pond was said to be the scene of a tragic murder-suicide of two lovers around 300 years ago. The water is dark and murky and no birds sing here. The pond has been nicknamed Suicide Pond. No one knows the exact location and there was even a contest held one year for people to find it, but no pond seemed to match the description.

And speaking of headless spirits, the Wake Arms roundabout is home to a headless male spirit that is believed to be a biker who died here in an accident. He needs to watch out for the ghostly horse-drawn coach that comes through here as well. Perhaps the one from the pond in the forest? The Kings Oak Pub is a Victorian building that was built in 1887. The restored gastro pub has timber beams, antique crystal chandeliers and log fires where one can enjoy traditional pub food. There is also a headless horseman ghost that likes to haunt the area near the pub. And a little girl who drowned near the pub likes to pop up every so often.

We don't know for sure that anyone was hanged in the forest, but with its centuries of history there may have been an execution or two. One place with this reputation is Hangman Hill. The spirit of a hangman walks around this area according to local legend. And what he does sounds very familiar to our Spook Hills here in America. He likes to drag cars uphill. Just as with our hills, people put their cars in neutral on the hill and the car slowly drags up the hill. Perhaps just as the hangman dragged people to the noose. The high-pitched screams nearby though cause one to think this is more than just an optical illusion.

People love to spend an afternoon picniking in "The People’s Forest." The ancient trees make for a creepy and fun setting. There is much to do here from mountain biking to fishing to hiking to horseback riding, but be careful because many people claim to have been touched by things unseen, to hear phantom sounds and to feel as though they are being watched. Is Epping Forest haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, January 6, 2022

HGB Ep. 417 - Haunted Cemeteries 21

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Moment in Oddity - The Italian Bride Julia Buccola Petta (Suggested by: Jim Featherstone)

The grave of Julia Buccola Petta is found in Mount Carmel Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois. She is known as the Italian Bride and her burial is quite odd. It's not because of the grandiose statue erected over her grave that is a duplicate of her wedding photo, or that she was buried in her wedding dress because she was considered a martyr for having died during childbirth. And it isn't because her child who also died in childbirth is buried with her. The odd thing here is that Julia's mother had her exhumed in 1927 after being buried for six years and Julia's body was found in a state of non-decay. She looked life-like, as though only sleeping. Her skin was still soft and supple. A picture was taken and we agree that Julia looks like she was just buried. However, the baby is in a state of decay as is the coffin. This indicates that this wasn't some kind of trick played by Julia's mother. The mother had claimed to have dreams of her daughter for those six years with Julia saying in those dreams that she was still alive and needed her mother's help. No one could explain what had happened here other than a really great embalming job and/or corpse wax, which is formed during decomposition. Julia's mother not only raised money after the exhumation to build the memorial, but she also attached two pictures to the grave. One was the wedding photo and the other was the postmortem picture after exhumation. The story of the Italian Bride, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Francis Salvador Becomes First Elected Jew in the Americas

In the month of January, on the 11th, in 1775, Francis Salvador became the first Jewish person elected to office in the Americas. Salvador's family were Sephardic Jews from London. His grandfather brought a group of Jewish settlers to Savannah, Georgia in 1733. They then bought land in South Carolina. Salvador's great grandfather had been the first Jewish director of the East India Company. When that business collapsed and the family's land in Portugal was destroyed in an earthquake. Salvador decided to follow his grandfather's path to America and set himself up in South Carolina in 1773 with a plan to send for his wife and children later. He was elected to that seat on the South Carolina Provincial Congress a little over a year later. Salvador was a strong supporter of the independence movement and he soon was known as the Southern Paul Revere after riding 30 miles through back country settlements to warn them of a Cherokee attack. He later would himself be attacked by a group of Cherokee and Loyalists while leading a militia group. He was shot and scalped, but lived long enough to find out that his group had won the engagement. He was 29 when he died and was recorded as the first Jewish soldier to die in the War for Independence.

Haunted Cemeteries 21

We love our cemeteries around here. They are places of such peace and for many of us, strangely, a place of comfort. And as we have found, many have a spirit or two unable to let go of their terrestrial bonds. On this episode, we are going to share some of the burial practices of rural families at the turn-of-the-twentieth-century and some of the traditions that are still carried on in cemeteries today. We also have several more haunted cemeteries to share from Ohio, Oregon, California and Indiana. Join us as we share Haunted Cemeteries 21!

Tammie Burroughs got some interesting information from her genealogy group that we thought would be fun to share. When death occurred among rural families at the turn-of-the-twentieth-century, the body of the deceased was prepared for burial by neighbors and/or family members. This was done by placing the corpse on a cooling board, which was generally a wooden plank between a couple of chairs, and then washing the body and putting clean clothes on the deceased. Back in the day, this was either their Sunday best or a burial shroud. Coins were placed over the eyelids to keep the eyes shut and a cloth was tied around the head and under the chin to keep the mouth closed. Rigor mortis set in within two to three hours, so all of this needed to be done quickly.

Before the advent of the embalming process, few preservatives were available. Those that were, however, were either liquids or mixed with a liquid. Placed on a white cloth, they were administered primarily to the face. Turpentine was often used, though the most commonly available preservative was camphor (made of camphor gum and pure liquor). In both cases, the drenched cloth was applied repeatedly to the dead person's face to try to stop it from "changing" or turning black. If the coffin had been completed, the body was placed in it; if not, the corpse remained on the cooling board until it was finished. The job of making the coffin fell to the neighbors and/or family. While they were busy building it out of pine or oak, then lining it, other neighbors took on the task of digging the grave. While these activities were carried out mainly in the day, in the evening an all night vigil around the corpse began.

"Settin' up with the body" or "the wake" as it was universally known, usually occurred on the night immediately following the death. The custom, which found its way into the North Carolina backcountry via Scotch-Irish settlers, served several purposes. It was a time of making sure the deceased had truly died and it allowed friends and family to pay their last respects. Animals and insects were kept away from the body. When Tansy was in bloom, it was commonly used because insects were repelled by its scent. Burial in the cemetery took place as soon as possible because it was impractical to keep a body out for even a short amount of time. Some burials took place on the same day of death because the bodies were in such poor condition. Most were interred within one to three days. It was really dependent on the state of decay the body was in and whether the coffin and grave were done.

Graves were usually dug by several men in the community. When asked what was done with corpses in the winter if the ground was frozen, Raymond Coins, 88-year-old resident of Stokes County, stated that they went ahead and buried them. "We never stood back on the ground being frozen. If necessary, a fire was built to thaw the ground some." Other people dealt with frozen ground differently. One woman's solution was to store her dead husband's body in their corn crib until the ground thawed in the spring. To reach the place of burial, which was either the family cemetery or the church, the coffin was often placed on a wagon drawn by mules or horses. Once here, the coffins were lowered into the ground using rope or plow lines, whichever was on hand. Planks were then lain across the top of the vault to cover the top of the coffins, then dirt was put on top of the planks to complete the grave.

Cemeteries face east toward the rising sun, associating the deceased with the Christian belief of Resurrection. Trees and plants commonly found in cemeteries include: dogwood, cedar, and perriwinkle. All of these are referred to as "evergreen." Symbolic meanings are as follows: Dogwood stands for love and adversity. Cedar stands for nobility. Perriwinkle stands for sweet memories of unerring devotion. And as we know, garden cemeteries became the most popular form of cemetery, giving families a beautiful place to spend time with their deceased love ones. And some of these places are haunted. Here are a few more of them.

Milan Cemetery

Milan Cemetery is located in Milan, Ohio. The cemetery is bordered by St. Anthony's Catholic Cemetery and Galpin Wildlife Sanctuary It was founded in 1851 and has over 7,000 burials, many of them early pioneers. Two of those pioneers were Benjamin and Lorena Abbott. Benjamin died in 1854 and a mausoleum was built for him. The unusual thing about it was that it faced away from all the other monuments. And the location was down an embankment, near a swamp-like body of water. Mr. Abbott clearly wasn't interested in having visitors to his grave. And it didn't help that legends started growing up around the mausoleum. People claimed that if you knocked on the door, the ghost of Mr. Abbott would chase you away. Sometimes his wife would get in on the action too.  

Along with Benjamin and his wife, their two granddaughters were buried in the vault. The two died of natural causes as happened to many children in the 1800s. But legends claim that the two girls died at the hands of their grandfather and that he buried their bodies in the back area of his property. After they were discovered, they were placed in the vault. The bodies were actually buried on the Abbott property as families sometimes did at the time, but new owners wanted them removed, so they were then placed in the vault. So a pretty tame story as compared to the murder story, but as we know, moving bodies can have haunting consequences. Another interesting tidbit is that Mr. and Mrs. Abbott are no longer in the tomb having been moved to a different plot. We're not sure why. The granddaughters remain though. And perhaps that movement also has caused problems. There are claims of strange lights in Milan Cemetery at night. People claim that these lights are the spirits of the Abbotts making their way around the cemetery.

Eugene Pioneer Cemetery (Suggested by: Angel Macias)

The Eugene Pioneer Cemetery is one of the three oldest cemeteries in Eugene and is basically located right next to the University of Oregon in Eugene. This covers sixteen acres with about 5,000 burials. Prime real estate in the university's eyes which had once planned to expand the campus there, but that clearly never happened thankfully. Three different sessions of the Oregon State Legislature had bills introduced trying to condemn the property and have the graves removed with the last one occurring in 1963. And as should be the case, the cemetery was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. The cemetery was founded in 1872 by the Spencer Butte Lodge No. 9 of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. 

The biggest area of the cemetery is the Grand Army of the Republic burial plot, which is in the center of the cemetery. General John W. Geary bought the plot in 1887 and there are 57 graves here, with 51 of them being Civil War veterans. The center features a twenty-five foot statue of a Union soldier. This is an 8-short-ton statue that was brought here by an eight horse team from Vermont and financed by Union veteran John Covell's estate in 1903. The head of the statue is not original. Vandals broke into the cemetery in December 2001 and pulverized the head. Local artist David Miller remade the head from Vermont blue marble and it was rededicated on Memorial Day in 2003. More restoration was done to the memorial plot in 2007. Another notable burial here is for Louis Renninger, who was awarded the Medal of Honor in the American Civil War.

Angel wrote, "I've taken occasional strolls through the cemetery heading home from lab, and unfortunately (although I use that term hesitantly) haven't seen or experienced anything first hand. However, common stories include hearing the sound of bagpipes late at night, movement of statues, and the classic woman in white." Stories about the woman in white claim that she does more than just walk around the cemetery. She appears to clean some of the headstones, so she acts as a caretaker. The movement of statues Angel mentions is said to happen on a particular night of the year around midnight. All the statues are said to get in the actions as they walk around and seem to talk to each other. 

Spadra Cemetery (Suggested by: Angel Macias)

Spadra was once a grand town, but today it is completely forgotten because there is not much left of it. There's the Phillips Mansion and the Spadra Cemetery and that's it. This is a small place near California State Route 57 in Pomona. Ricardo Vejar and Ygnacio Palomares received a Mexican land grant in 1837. Vejar built his Rancho San Jose de Abajo on the southern portion of this grant, but was eventually forced to sell the property. A Prussian Jewish immigrant named Louis Phillips started managing the ranch and he did so well with it that he eventually bought it and started selling plots of it to settlers coming to the area. This developed into the town of Spadra. The name comes from Spadra Bluff in Arkansas where many of the settlers had come from. This grew into a prominent city and was the dominant town in the Pomona Valley. The Butterfield Stagecoach and Southern Pacific Railroad both stopped here. 

The Spadra Cemetery was established in 1868 out of a need for a burial place for non-Catholics. Melinda Arnett was the first person buried there that year. Many prominent citizens of the town would follow including Phillips and his wife Esther. The cemetery was deeded to the Spadra Cemetery Association for $1 in 1897. There are around 200 people buried here. The last burial was here in 1965. Spadra's moment in the sun ended and the railroad left along with the businesses. The people left and their cemetery fell into disrepair. Today, it still is a jumble of broken and missing tombstones. The Historical Society of Pomona Valley owns the cemetery and the president Deborah Clifford said, "This has long been a happy hunting ground for anyone with a Ford F-150 and a chain. You roll in, lasso a headstone and take it with you.”

Perhaps this is why the spirits are at unrest at this cemetery. Many who have visited, come away completely creeped out by their experiences. Jonathan R. wrote on Yelp, "After walking around with a bunch of friends for a while, we decided to leave. However, on our way out the girls in the group ran out from feeling a hand grab them. One girl stayed behind, and once we were out she took a picture of the exit and what we found in the picture was really scary. A tall slim like figure with a very distorted face appeared in the picture. Ever since then I have not gone back."

Rudy M. shared his experience after visiting the cemetery, "We were on the 10 freeway almost back home about 20 minutes after leaving and I felt this overwhelming feeling of death. I felt so panicked & controlled, like something attacked me in [my] homie's car. I asked my grandpa to pray for me once I got home. This place is truly haunted and demonic.”

One of the famous spirits here is James Fryer. He likes to make disembodied noises and shows up as a full-bodied apparition. He was a man who died in 1921. A paranormal investigator names Huesca has been to the cemetery multiple times and had a run-in with Fryer's ghost. He said, "Out of nowhere I felt strange, and from the corner of my eye I saw this dark figure just look over my shoulder. It either wanted me to get out or make itself known, but it was really creepy.” A local named Wayne Owings who didn't believe in ghosts had his own experience. He said, "I seen him. I ain't lying. Heard something and I looked. Standing right there." Owings claimed that the figure was dressed in an old-fashioned black suit with a vest. 

Cherokee Cemetery (Suggested by: Chee Xiong)

Cherokee Cemetery is located at 3927 Cherokee Road in Oroville, California. This is a private cemetery governed by The Cherokee Cemetery Association. Ed Campbell is the sexton and it is something that has run in his family. Both his father and brother were sextons at the cemetery. The cemetery has a lot of evergreen plantings. Plots are marked out in borders of concrete. The front gates are metal and have the name Cherokee Cemetery near the top of the gates.

There is a legend that in the 1800s, a girl in the town was murdered by a man that lived in a house across from the cemetery. The town took vengeance by burning him alive in that house. People visiting the cemetery have heard his loud heavy footsteps. There are also claims of loud bloodcurdling disembodied screams. Another legend claims that if you place flowers on the grave of a child who died on the same day as his father, his apparition will visit you and thank you. Several people say they have seen a young boy hiding behind a tree or a gravestone. And the faint laughter of a child is heard sometimes. A woman named Cynthia claimed to see a woman in white standing near the entrance when she visited in July of last year (2021).

Doc wrote, "I lived near the Cherokee cemetery for years, right behind where the murderer was burned in his home. Many unusual things would happen at the cemetery and surrounding homes, one time after out of town friends thought it would be fun to visit the cemetery at night we had a couple weeks of music boxes playing by themselves, lights turning on and off and eerie silence when the area was a haven for many birds and bugs."

Kelly wrote, "My Brother lives in nearby Paradise, so when I go to visit I like to go the the nearby, old cemeteries. We were at Cherokee Cemetery, and there was a fresh grave dug for a burial the next day I guess. The grave was right next to the main gate of the cemetery. I took some pictures of the gate and the grave. In the pictures were smoke like figures, one hovering over the new grave and one over the gate."

Ashley wrote in 2019, "I live near the cemetery. For fun me and my son like to ride our bikes there. One day we looked at some old graves and it started to get dark so we got on our bikes to leave and near a woman grave unexpectedly I got strong smell of rose and vanilla perfume. It was a smell I had never smelt before and for some reason it seemed to smelled like old perfume. It’s possible there was a plant near by that I just got a woof of wind. Who knows?"

Highland Lawn Cemetery

Highland Lawn Cemetery is found in Terre Haute, Indiana. The cemetery is the second largest in the state of Indiana and was built on land that had once been home to a farm and a distillery. The land was very marshy, so not ideal. The graveyard opened in 1884 with its first burial who was Samantha McPherson who died from typhoid fever at the age of thirty. The entrance gate is gorgeous, featuring a Romanesque Revival bell tower and Gothic-style arch. This was designed by Architect Paul Leizt and built by Edward Hazledine out of local limestone. There are beautiful statues and memorials inside and a little chapel on the hill with gabled roofs and stained-glass windows.

Some of the notable people buried here include Union leader Eugene V. Debs. He ran for president a couple of times and was well-known in Terre Haute. People visit his grave from all over the country. He died in 1926. Vaudeville actress Valeska Suratt was buried here in 1962. All eleven silent films she starred in were lost in the 1937 Fox Vault Fire. Most of her work was done in the 1920s. She died penniless having squandered not only the money she had made, but also money that was raised for her during a benefit hosted by an author who had heard of Suratt's dire living conditions. She apparently liked to gamble. There is a grave with a large angel standing in front of a cross on the grave of lawyer and writer Max Ehrmann. He wrote the poem "Desiderata." This poem was very popular during the counterculture movement. Dr. Allen Pence, who founded the First Spiritual Society of Terre Haute in 1867 is buried here in section three. The second floor of his building, Pence Hall, was the society's meeting hall. Seances and lectures were hosted at Pence Hall and it became a spiritualist center. Pence remained a believer until his death even though the Spiritualist Movement had started waning by that point.

Claude Herbert is buried in a mausoleum off the main driveway. Herbert died a hero. He had been playing the part of Santa Claus at the Havens and Geddes Department Store on the evening of December 19, 1898 when a fire broke out. Herbert hadn't been real excited about the job, but he needed something to help support his widowed mother and he had just come home from the Spanish-American War. Children were taking turns on his lap in the basement of the department store when an incandescent bulb in the display window burst, setting nearby items on fire. There were thirty children with Herbert and he went into action to get them to safety. He got them all outside and then heard that there may be other victims in the building. He stripped off the costume and ran back into the building, but he never came out. Some witnesses thought they saw him jump from a fifth story window. Firefighters found two of his bones in the smoldering ruins the following day. Those remains were buried in the mausoleum and activity has been reported near the tomb. Strange lights and orbs are seen and weird mists have been caught on camera.

Many legends are connected to Highland Lawn Cemetery. One features a phantom bulldog. His name was Stiffy Green who acquired his nickname due to the stiff gait he walked with and the fact that he had bright green eyes. His owner was a nice elderly man named John Heinl. John died in 1920 and was buried in a mausoleum. Stiffy Green was taken to the graveside funeral and refused to leave the mausoleum. Like so many of these stories, the townspeople took pity on the dog and brought food and water to the cemetery for him. He eventually died there next to the mausoleum. The townspeople put their money together and had Stiffy Green taxidermied and he was placed inside the tomb. Shortly after that, people started hearing barks coming from the mausoleum. Especially the caretaker. He heard the barks all the time. The ghosts of both the bulldog and John have been seen near the mausoleum and the phantom smell of John's pipe tobacco has also been detected. 

Another cemetery legend is connected to a businessman named Martin Sheets. He had been a stockbroker and then a cattle farmer. He had made himself a lot of money and part of what he did with that money was planning his death. He was terrified of being buried alive like many people of his day. So he designed a custom casket with latches on the inside so he could open it if he needed. He had a mausoleum built and rigged it with a telephone. Sheets had the phone service paid for through many years. Not sure if he expected to rise at some point years later or what. He eventually died and wasn't embalmed and he stayed inside his coffin. His wife Susan died three years later from a massive heart attack. She was found clutching the phone in her hand. Her family assumed she had been calling paramedics. The odd thing is that when they brought her body to the mausoleum for burial, they found the phone inside there off the hook. Had she and Mr. Sheets been talking to each other before she died? 

Not every cemetery is haunted, but we have found that many of them do have a spirit or two hanging around in the afterlife. Are they unwilling to leave their bodies? Are they afraid of what may meet them beyond the veil? Could they just be lost in some way? Are these cemeteries haunted? That is for you to decide!