Thursday, February 24, 2022

HGB Ep. 424 - Thomas House Hotel

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Moment in Oddity - Seneca Village (Suggested by: Jennifer Guthrie) 

Central Park in New York City breaks up the metropolitan expanse of skyscrapers with a natural space. Back in the early 1800s, lower Manhattan had become a dangerous place and very crowded. Plots in the open countryside that would eventually become Central Park were very cheap. John and Elizabeth Whitehead had owned the farm land here and they started selling plots. The first man to buy a plot was a black shoe shiner named Andrew Williams. Several hundred people of color bought up more plots and they founded Seneca Village. Irish and German immigrants came to the area as well. This village was a perfect example of racial harmony for a middle-class group of people. On July 21, 1853 that all ended when New York City used eminent domain to take ownership of Seneca Village, so they could make Central Park to satisfy the wealthy New York families. And the history and evidence of Seneca Village just disappeared. And what was allowed to be told about the village were lies, claiming that it had been home to squatters and was swampland offering little more than squalid conditions. This changed in the 1990s when historians began to piece together the truth. Archaeological digs have also taken place to ascertain where the village was and to uncover more information. Managing to disappear a whole village and hide the truth about it for over a hundred years, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Tenley Albright Becomes First American Female to Win World Figure Skating Championship

In the month of February, on the 15th, in 1953, Tenley Albright became the first American female to win the world figure skating championship. Tenley began her skating career as a young girl on a man-made flooded and iced over area behind the family home. Her father had created the space for her and her friends. She started entering competitions when she was 11-years-old. And then polio hit. Tenley's case was mild and rehab honed her skating skills. She won a silver medal at the 1952 Olympics, but eclipsed that with her world championship win. She performed feats never performed by a female skater before. In an age when we have women that are performing quads, it may not sound impressive that Tenley pulled off a double axel, double loop, double rittbereer and double solchow, but at the time it was amazing. Many thought that she would go on to become a professional skater, but she opted for school. She competed at the Winter Olympics in 1956 and became the first American female gold medalist in figure skating and then entered Harvard Medical School, following in the footsteps of her surgeon father. She became a noted surgeon. Today, she is 86 and lives in Massachusetts.

Thomas House Hotel

The 1880s were a time of great interest in the healing powers of mineral springs and one of those springs we haven't covered yet was Red Boiling Springs in Tennessee. Hotels often were built near these springs and one of them that was constructed here is today known as the Thomas House Hotel. This seems to be an incredibly haunted location that has been featured on several paranormal television shows and the hotel regularly offers ghost hunts. Join us for the history and haunts of the Thomas House Hotel!

Red Boiling Springs is in a valley on the Highland Rim in Macon County in the Upper Cumberland region of Middle Tennessee. This is about 70 miles northeast of Nashville. Mineral springs were not the first things to bring people into the Red Boiling Springs area. A salt lick attracted animals and Native Americans and so the area was named Salt Lick Creek. Attracting animals was good fro hunting and men like Daniel Boone traversed the animal trails leaving their mark behind. He carved 1775 and his name on a beech tree here. Land grants were issued starting in the 1780s. The city of Salt Lick Creek was officially founded with a post office in 1829. By 1847, the town had been renamed Red Boiling Springs in honor of the red-colored sulfur mineral water that bubbled up from springs. 

There were several types of mineral waters here, differentiated mostly by color names. There was Red Water, which had iron and sulphur and high levels of calcium and magnesium with a somewhat agreeable taste. Black Water had the same minerals, but had a horrible taste and turned silver coins black. The White Water was used for dyspepsia. Freestone Water had very little mineral content so tasted pretty good. The Double and Twist Water apparently made drinkers do that, so we imagine it was pretty gross. People not only drank the waters, but also soaked or bathed in them.

Attention was brought to these springs by a woman named Aunt Sooky Goad. She claimed that she drank from the sulfur water and that it cured her issue with dropsy. Dropsy was a term used for an accumulation of excess water in body tissue. Basically this would be like edema from congestive heart failure. She developed a salve from the water that she called Aunt Sooky's Salve and she sold it as a medical product. Aunt Sooky's brother, John D. Kirby, also claimed that the mineral water had healed his sore eyes. People started coming to the area and setting up tents, so they could partake of the healing waters.

Most of these springs were on the Jesse Jones farm and he happily sold a 20 acre plot surrounding the springs to a businessman named Samuel Hare. Hare envisioned a great enterprise. He had seen other businessman around the country buy up land near mineral springs and then build inns to bring people in to partake of the health benefits of the water. And we love that these entrepreneurs did this kind of thing because it seems like nearly all of these hotels connected to these mineral springs have hauntings. One has to wonder if the use of these waters that were considered sacred by the indigineous people who lived near them led to these hauntings because elemental land and water spirits have been angered. Samuel Hare did go on to build his inn in 1844, but he didn't focus on the roads which were very poor. Those poor roads and the remoteness of his inn, led to it being closed by the 1870s.

James Bennett was the next businessman to step up and try his hand at running a resort at the springs. In 1876, he opened up his resort, which was several log cabins and a dining hall. A stagecoach line had been developed between Gallatin and Red Boiling Springs, which helped this endeavour to be more successful. New York businessman James F.O. Shaughnesy bought the tract of land from Bennett in the 1880s and started developing a bigger resort. Zack and Clay Cloyd were general store owners in Red Boiling Springs and they decided to take advantage of the growing reputation of the town as a mineral spring resort. They built the Cloyd Hotel in 1890. This was a two-story white weatherboard building with long two-story verandas. In 1905, the Red Boiling Springs Water and Realty Company was formed and bought the initial tract from Shaughnesy. Ten years later they replaced Shaughnesy's hotel with a bigger and more lavish hotel they called The Palace.

Several other hotels would be built including the Central Hotel and the Donoho. The springs here did well into the 1930s, which was better than most areas, and there was plenty of entertainment too. Lots of games were played and circuses would come to town, as well as minstrel shows. Red Boiling Springs had its height of popularity during World War I and II. Eventually, people lost interest in the springs and the hotels fell into disrepair. The town became a shell of its former self and then a large flood in 1969 destroyed many businesses and homes and killed two little girls. But the former Cloyd Hotel, now known as the Thomas House Hotel, is still here and apparently, crazy haunted. The current hotel is not the original. That one burned down in 1924. It was rebuilt by Joseph H. Peters in 1927. He had purchased the hotel from the Cloyd's in 1916 when they could no longer afford to run it and he continued to call it the Cloyd Hotel. The hotel was kept at two-stories with 50 rooms and two community bathrooms, but this one was built from red brick and had an arcaded portico, as described by its application for historical designation. This confused us a bit because arcades and porticoes are different, so we aren't sure why this verbiage was used. Porticoes have horizontal beams across the top versus the arches of arcades. The red bricks were made on-site. The hotel offered patrons three meals a day served family style.

The hotel was bought by Dr. A.T. Hall in 1950 and he updated the hotel, adding a bowling alley, miniature golf course and swimming pool. Unfortunately, Edwin Ward Rush, would drown in that pool in 1961 at the age of seven. Professional wrestler Lester Morgan bought the hotel in 1973 and he held onto it for a short period of time. He was foreclosed on in 1974, unable to make the hotel profitable even though he kept a live bear inside the hotel as entertainment. Evan Moss bought the property and opened up the Mossy Creek Summer Camp for children in 1983. The camp closed in 1988 and the Anzara Corporation bought the building and renamed it the Anzara Hotel. This was not a real business group, it was actually a religious cult. This hotel and the other two still open in Red Boiling Springs were used as basically a commune. Not much is known about this group, but they are described as an Armageddon cult that liked to summon the dead. 

Penni Goode Evans wrote of her time with the cult in her article "My Time with a Cult, "We stayed at all three hotels in Red Boiling at different times, but for a few months we lived at the Anzara.  I was seventeen then and very naive, I knew nothing of cults or anything like that, and wasn't even sure they WERE a cult until we'd left and Dateline or one of those shows did a piece on them, somewhere around 1990.  By the time they did the piece, the cult had picked up and split.  Anyway, my boyfriend and I got a room at the Anzara.  At that time, there was a very big, hard-nosed woman who owned the hotel (she was the leader of the cult) and in the beginning, I thought they were just Baptists or something and I remember telling her, "I'm a Christian......Baptist?" - She just looked at me like I was stupid. Our room was downstairs by the laundry room. I remember some strange people staying there, which I chalked up to just people being strange.  My seventeen year old mind was blown, though, one night, very late, when my boyfriend went down to the kitchen (we were allowed use of the kitchen)  and saw the people staying at the hotel, naked, and dancing in the dining room.  He ran back to our room, like, "What the fuck did I just see?"  ---- I remember, also, there was a very rich lady staying at the hotel.  I now know the cult was milking her for her money, but back then, I wasn't hip to people and their motives.  Anyway, so this fancy pants lady was from New York City and she had a little white dog and she and I would sit on the swing on the front porch and I would smoke her Pall Mall filterless cigarettes with her (and almost die because they had no filter!)  and we had a lot of long talks.  I don't remember now about what but, I really liked this lady. I do remember that she was sad and she seemed very lonely. It was summer then, and I recall that she drank a lot of sweet tea. -- Funny, as I think of our time there, I also remember that there was a front desk in the foyer, with an old fashioned cash register, and back then, it cost fifty dollars a week to stay at the hotel and my boyfriend would pay our fee, and then, when the cult leaders were out of sight, he would go back and hit the NO SALE button, and take our money back."

The Anzara Corporation collapsed in 1992. A fire in the 1990s destroyed one of the wings, but this was rebuilt. Today, the hotel is owned by the Cole family who acquired it in 1993, and features a 125 seat dining room with a stage that hosts events and shows. There are 15 rooms with private bathrooms for rent. And they offer Ghost Hunt Weekends. Chad Morin, owner of Ghost Hunt Weekends said, "We go every month and several times a month, and fans of the paranormal can join us. We have dinner. We show you our documentary that it took me about six years to produce, and it tells about the history and the haunts of the Thomas House Hotel and of the area.We’ve had doors opening and closing. We’ve had a ball captured on video roll across the floor. We’ve heard screams. We’ve hard talking. We’ve heard whistling. We’ve seen shadow people. We’ve seen the apparition of a little child and another one of a tall man, that the only thing we can figure out is that he’s the previous hotel owner from the 1900s that still wanders the halls. It’s a great time. There’s nothing evil or malevolent there. It seems like the spirits there are the previous hotel owner and some children. It seems like they enjoy being there and the company."

The most haunted room at the hotel is said to be Room 37. Loud crashes have been heard, the sound of bricks falling even though no bricks are found laying around and a shadow figure has been seen going through the front door and then it stood next to a chair before disappearing. The young daughter of one of the Cloyd Brothers, Sarah, died at the hotel and her spirit has been seen, mainly in Room 37. So that room is full of toys for Sarah. A guest who fell off a horse and died is thought to haunt the property too. Cherry Cole was so unsettled by things going on at the hotel that she was unwilling to be in it at night. Guests hear a man whistling through the hotel and guests sometimes wake up in the middle of the night to see a female apparition staring down at them.

In 2012 during Season 8, Ghost Hunters visited the location. Cherry told Jason and Grant that people regularly heard footsteps walking around above them when nobody is on the upper floor. Her husband Derrell claimed to have seen the apparition of an elderly man, but he didn't know it was a ghost until he asked him if he could help him and he disappeared right before his eyes. Apparently, Mr. Cloyd whistled all the time and so they think he is The Whistler. Their daughter-in-law Destiny said that one night she was looking down as she walked the hallway and she ran into something. She looked up and there was a tall, thin man standing there. She had never seen him before and when he disappeared, she realized he was a ghost. A lady dressed in pink has been seen by a member of the Cole family too. She had white hair, smiled and then faded away.

During the investigation, Jason and Grant heard disembodied footsteps on the second floor and like something being dragged. There was also audible whistling. It was really loud and I got chills listening to it. Adam and Amy asked for the spirit to knock to let them know it was there and there was a knock. They asked for two knocks and there were two knocks. This was in Room 16. Amy and Adam were whistling in the area where The Whistler made noise with Grant and Jason and they heard whistling in response. Tango and Steve heard a female voice moaning, They thought it might have been Sarah. Later, in an area that had a ton of dolls, Jason and Grant were calling out to Sarah and asking if she wanted to play with the dolls and they heard the audible voice of a little girl. We heard it too, very clear. Something like "those are my toys" or "I like toys." Amy did the flashlight experiment with Sarah and she turned off the flashlight when asked. And then she stopped playing with the flashlight. Amy asked if she stopped playing because she as told to stop and the light turned on. The spirit let her know that she was more than 5-years-old.

Katrina and Jack visited this location in Season 2 of Portals to Hell. They think they communicated with an Elemental. Katrina saw a tiny blue light and then shortly after that Jack saw a shadow move across behind their camera man Scott. As Jack was describing that, he, Katrina and a producer all saw another orb of light appear and then disappear. They caught it on camera and it was weird. A dark force has been traced to a hallway and the camera in that hallway shut off when they were in there. Jack claimed that this force kept waking him up in the middle of the night and Katrina said that it had pulled hard on her ear. They did a Geo Box session in the Cloyd Chapel that is also owned by the Cole family. This has been an ongoing restoration project for the Coles, Ghost Hunt Weekends and author Kyl Cobb. When they asked if someone was in there, "Hell no" came through the box. (Thomas 1) Then the name Rohepeshal came through the box and Katrina repeated it and the box said it again. It was said that Rohepeshal is an Algonquian word for 'spirit'. A whole group of coyotes started howling outside suddenly when they decided to go dark and silent. Maybe just a coincidence, but since they thought they were dealing with an elemental, it was a bit chilling to hear. This elemental seems to be connected to the water and possibly angry because the springs were sucked dry by people. So it isn't just the hotel that is haunted, but perhaps the entire area where the springs were.

This hotel seems like a quaint place to stay, but guests might get more than they bargained for. Is the Thomas House Hotel haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, February 17, 2022

HGB Ep. 423 - Halifax, Nova Scotia

Moment in Oddity - Mooning Men

Most of us are familiar with gargoyles on buildings, which are said to ward off evil and are also used to direct rain water away from the building structure. But how many of you have seen gargoyles that are carved to look like naked men? These are known as the Mooning Men. They can be found at various locations in England and France. One of the most well known locations is that of Easton-on-the-Hill in Stamford, England. Legend has it that the mason carver created these men in protest of being underpaid. All but one of these under clad gentlemen have their derrieres facing towards Peterborough Cathedral and they are carved in such a way that the rainwater exits out of a particular orifice. Many also have unmentionable body parts on display as well. Be that as it may, the origination seems to be more urban legend than fact. Actually there are several churches that also have Mooning Men that don't face Peterborough Cathedral and typically, building churches was not paid for by the Diocese but by wealthy benefactors of the area. Interestingly, it is said that at the time of the building, many people were plagued by constipation, which may have been connected to this preoccupation. Regardless of the truth behind the origination story of these unique gargoyles, seeing naked men in a bent over position on a building, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Supreme Court Rules 19th Amendment Constitutional

In the month of February, on the 27th, in 1922, the Supreme Court declared that the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, was constitutional. The Amendment stated that "the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex." Suffragists had worked for nearly 100 years to get women the right to vote and in 1916, both major political parties agreed that it was time that women have that right. The 19th Amendment was passed by Congress on June 4, 1919 and it was ratified by 36 states, so that it reached the three-fourths majority required to add an amendment to the Constitution. Millions of American women exercised that right on Election Day in 1920 thanks to the work of Alice Paul, Lucy Stone, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frances E.W. Harper, Ida B. Wells, Mary Church Terrell and Susan B. Anthony.

Halifax, Nova Scotia (Suggested by: Mieke (Meeka) van Vulpen)

Nova Scotia means "New Scotland" and is known for its coastal views, lobster, fish, blueberries and apples. Halifax is the capital of Nova Scotia, Canada and the largest municipality in the province. Being one of the largest harbors in the world, this city has been witness to two tragic maritime accidents. There have been battles waged here and whole groups of people were driven out when Britain settled the area. For these reasons and others, Halifax has quite a few haunted locations. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of Halifax!

Hunter-gatherer groups were the first to hunt and traverse the area that would become Halifax. The first known indigineous group were the Mi'kmaq People and their territory which stretched from Prince Edward Island to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia was called Miꞌkmaꞌki. The coastal area where Halifax would be established was called Kjipuktuk, pronounced "che-book-took" and this meant "Great Harbour" in the Mi'kmaq language. Colonel Edward Cornwallis would bring the first group of settlers from England to Chebucto in 1746. The British wanted to keep the French out of the area and they planned to build a harbor, which would be the second largest in the world at the time. They changed the name of the settlement to Halifax in honor of the Earl of Halifax who masterminded the settlement. These settlers, which numbered around 2,500, were ill-prepared and few homes were built before the first winter. Nearly a thousand of the settlers left for Boston and other places in the colonies. 

Cornwallis managed to recruit New Englanders to come up and as that population soared, relations with the Mi'kmaq deteriorated. The Mi'kmaq felt that they were being pushed out of their land, which is exactly what was happening and when that didn't work, Cornwallis set a bounty on Mi'kmaq scalps and he brought in several war ships. And that started a war. This was known as Father Le Loutre's War or the Micmac War. Cornwallis declared Halifax as the new capitol of the British colony and the Mi'kmaq said this broke any treaties that had previously been established. The war lasted from 1749 to 1755. There were multiple skirmishes and Halifax endured thirteen raids by the Mi'kmaq and Acadians who had joined forces. When the war ended, the Acadians were driven out of Canada. The Mi'kmaq eventually signed a peace treaty in 1761. By the time the American Revolution brought Loyalists flooding into Halifax, the Mi'kmaq were pretty much run out of the area. 

The Golden Age for Halifax would come in the mid-1800s. The railroad would come, as would industrialization. Around this time, a Black community dubbed as Africville was established at the edge of the Bedford Basin. Black Nova Scotians lived here for decades, but by the 1950s the neighborhood was in serious neglect. The city had never run water or sewage services to Africville and even built a dump nearby. So in 1961, the residents were forced to vacate and the neighborhood was razed. Today, it is a National Historic Site. 

Before the sun rose on the morning of April 15th, 1912, the grand "unsinkable" RMS Titanic sunk after sideswiping an iceberg.  The collision punched holes in five of the sixteen watertight compartments causing the ship to take on more water than it was built to handle.  More than 1500 people met their final fate that morning in the icy waters of the North Atlantic Ocean.  In the aftermath, rescue ships were sent to recover the bodies of the dead: CS Mackay-Bennett from Halifax, Nova Scotia, the cable ship Minia, lighthouse supply ship Montmagny and sealing vessel Algerine.  On board the CS Mackay-Bennett was embalmer John Snow.  He owned a funeral parlor in Halifax and several victims were taken there rather than to the curling rink.  The building was a two story wood and stone building on Argyle Street and  John Snow and Co. Funeral Home hung on a sign outside the building.  Several coffins were hoisted up to a second floor room, one holding John Jacob Astor IV, and there they sat until burial. We'll talk more about this location later.

The sinking of the Titanic was not the only maritime disaster connected to Halifax. One of the greatest maritime disasters in Canadian history took place in December of 1917. A French cargo ship named the SS Mont-Blanc collided with a Belgian Relief vessel called SS Imo. This took place between upper Halifax Harbor and Bedford Basin in an area nicknamed "The Narrows." After the vessels crashed into each other, there was a huge explosion. And when we say huge, we mean massive. This was the largest artificial explosion next to a nuclear bomb going off. The Richmond District of Halifax was hit the hardest by the explosion. Nine thousand people were injured and two thousand were killed. This came to be known as the Halifax Explosion.  

Halifax is the cultural center of Nova Scotia and has a great history. Many of the locations in Halifax have ghost stories connected to them. Our first site is connected to a lighthouse and interestingly, hits on our Margaret/Peggy nickname topic. This place is called Peggy's Cove.

Peggy's Cove

Peggy's Cove is a quaint fishing village about 45 minutes from downtown Halifax that is home to Peggy's Point Lighthouse. This is one of the best known and most photographed lighthouses in Canada. The waters here are very dangerous. The place is named for Margaret who moved to the village with her husband after a tragic accident claimed the life of their children. Margaret would walk the dangerous rocks along the cove, day and night, as she grieved her children. One day, Margaret's husband joined her on the walk. He suddenly broke into a dance trying to cheer her up and in his exuberance, he fell off the cliff. Margaret quickly followed him as she threw herself off the cliff and into the ocean as well. It is now said that her spirit still walks the cove. Her apparition is seen wearing a blue dress and sometimes standing on the rocks above the ocean. They also will sometimes witness her jump from the cliff and disappear. Of course, there are skeptics who point out that this is at the mouth of Margaret's Bay, so it was named Margaret's Cove and then shortened to Peggy. The site was featured on Creepy Canada.

McNabs Island

McNab's Island was originally named for Cornwallis, but was later named for the man who initially bought it in 1782, Peter McNab. It is the largest island at the entrance of Halifax Harbor. This made it a strategic military setting, but before that indigineous people and fishermen made use of it. The McNab family owned it for a long time. Over time, pieces were sold off with the final bit of land being sold in the early 1930s. In 1866, the steamship S.S. England carrying 1202 passengers from England to New York had an outbreak of cholera and asked to dock at Halifax. The city had its own outbreak in 1834 that killed 600 people, so they told the ship to dock at McNab Island. The dead were buried in two locations: Little Thrum Cap and Hugonins Point. There were around 200 who died and the graves at the Cap eventually washed away. Conditions on the island were horrible with little food and when shipments of food did arrive, only the strong got it because they could fight for it.

In 1797, the H.M.S. Tribune ran aground off McNab Island when the Captain tried to proceed through the Halifax Harbor without the customary escort. The ship drove up on Thrumcap Shoal damaging its rudder and hull. The Captain would not let anyone off the ship and managed to get the ship free with some assistance, but then it just drifted helplessly. It was taking on water faster than the pumps could get it out. The ship foundered and 200 men, women and children drowned. The location is now called Tribune Head.

There are a number of strange stories told about this island. The island is full of ruins, particularly old forts like Fort McNab and Fort Ives. No one has lived here since the 1950s. The first strange story is just fun. Nobody gets in and out of the harbor without passing through Captain George's legs. Captain George was a former lighthouse keeper who had to have a leg amputated. This was buried near Fort Redoubt on the Halifax side. When Captain George died, he was buried on McNab Island. So now he has a leg on either side of the harbor.

There are tales of abandoned mines full of gold. Some believe that buried treasure was left on the island. In 1845, two men were observed near Finlay Cove using a mineral rod and they were very secretive of what they were looking for. They claimed they couldn't find what they had been looking for and left. Later, a hole was found at the base of a cherry tree at a spot marked with five stones. People claimed that they had found a treasure there. Peter McNab, Jr. claimed to see a sea serpent off of Ives Point in 1853. He claimed it was 20 feet long and resembled a large eel with a small head that was raised three inches off the water and it moved with an undulating motion. Hangman's Beach is also here where supposedly the British hanged enemies during the Napoleonic War, pirates and mutineers. The bodies would be left for a while to serve as a warning against criminal activity. Occasionally, ghostly hanging bodies are sometimes seen. And a former resident who drowned on the island is said to be seen as an apparition. 

St. Paul’s Anglican Church

St. Paul’s Anglican Church is the oldest building still standing in Halifax. The church was built in 1750 and modeled after St. Peter's Church in London. The bricks were made locally and timbers were shipped from Maine. Reverend William Tutty was the first minster. When the Halifax Explosion happened, a deacon was standing in front of a window on the right side of the church and it is said that his profile was forever etched into the glass. When people look up at the upper-level rounded window from the sidewalk, they can see his shadow behind the window.There also was a window frame from another building that got lodged into the wall during the explosion.

Halifax Citadel National Historic Site

The Halifax Citadel started out as a wooden guardhouse on the hill that overlooks the harbor. This was a small redoubt and was completed in 1749. This first citadel had fallen into poor condition by 1761 and so plans were made to build a new one, but this was delayed by the Seven Years War. The second citadel was built in 1776 and this was the first major permanent fortification. The center was a three-story octagonal blockhouse with a fourteen-gun battery and 72 mounted guns with multiple lines of earthen redans and a large palisade wall around it. The spot where it sat was named Citadel Hill. By 1784, this citadel was in ruins and it was decided to build a third citadel. Construction began on this in 1796. Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent and fourth son of King George III was the Commander-in-chief at Halifax. He inspired much of the design of this new citadel that was completed in 1800. This had four bastions that were surrounded by a central barracks and magazine and there were also earthwork walls. Prince Edward also commissioned the building of the Halifax Town Clock on the eastern slope of Citadel Hill. This clock still works today.

And once again, despite any kind of attack on the citadel, by 1825 the citadel was in ruins except for the powder magazine. The final citadel was built in 1828 and this is the one that still stands today. This one was built over 28 years and was completed in 1856. This is a star-shaped fortress with armored ramparts and an internal courtyard. Portions of the hill had tunnels so that they could be packed with dynamite to blow up the fort if needed. During World War I, the Canadian government considered anyone who had not become naturalized British subjects to be enemy aliens. These people were held as prisoners of war in 24 camps across Canada and some were held at the Halifax Citadel from 1914 to 1918. These were mainly German reservists.

The Halifax Citadel became a National Historic Site in 1935. Despite that, the citadel started to fall into disrepair, especially after World War II. Downtown businesses wanted to level the hill for more parking. Thankfully this didn't happen and the community raised funds to restore the citadel. It was restored to its 1869 Victorian era appearance. Today, Parks Canada runs the site and you can tour the grounds and visit the on-site museums. And you may run into a ghost or two.

Eric Nielsen of Parks Canada told CBC news in 2011 that he had never seen a ghost at the citadel, but he had heard plenty of stories. Warrant Officer Edwards died tragically and his heartbroken lover haunts the citadel looking for him. Claude Valiquette, a security officer, has seen her full-bodied apparition. He describes her as wearing white and says that she has appeared quite often. The garrison prison cell is the most haunted location on the property. A soldier was murdered and his body was thrown down into a well. He now walks the grounds as well. The Cavalier Building plays host to the Grey Lady.

One employee saw on her monitor that there was a man in the Tides of History Theater and there was not supposed to be anyone in there. She searched the entire theater and found no one. Hal Thompson, who was the visitor experience officer in 2011, told The Hamilton Spectator that a woman once saw a uniformed man enter a room and then vanish. She couldn't figure out how he was able to leave the room so quickly since there was only one exit. She told Thompson about this and described the uniform. No one at the Citadel was wearing that kind of uniform. Thompson told the woman that it probably was a ghost. He said, "It doesn't make any sense. There should not have been anyone there wearing that uniform and disappearing into thin air like that. So that's a fairly convincing story."

Alexander Keith’s Brewery

The Alexander Keith Brewery is named for the man who founded it. Keith immigrated from Scotland to Halifax in 1817. In 1820, he founded the brewery. In 1928, the brewery was sold to Oland Brewery and then Labatt Brewing Company. Keith's beers were made with high levels of hopping and all-malt mash ingredients with no corn used. The most popular offering they have is Alexander Keith's IPA, although it isn't a true IPA because this is very lightly hopped and has a lower alcohol content. It has won awards in the Golden Ale category. The brewery offers tours and you just might run into the spirit of Alexander Keith himself.

Keith built a tunnel from his home to the brewery so he could check on things no matter what the weather was like. Disembodied footsteps have been heard coming from the tunnels. In the hallway, the squeaking of a handcart is sometimes heard as though a big keg of beer is being wheeled around. Keith's spirit has been seen standing at the bar several times. And a female ghost has been seen dressed in 19th century attire and she usually disappears into a wall. Paranormal investigators have come through and caught temperature drops and had their EMF meters go off. This happened many times as they tried triggering activity by playing music.

Five Fisherman Restaurant

The building where the Five Fisherman Restaurant is located started out as a school. The parishioners of St Paul’s Church of England thought that Halifax needed a school with an emphasis on both religious studies and general education for the poor of the city. Their school opened in 1818 and was the first school in Canada to offer a free education. The building has been protected as a Heritage site since it was the First National School. Over time, the population outgrew the school and it moved, so the building was sold to a woman named Anna Leonowens. You might recognize that name. Ever seen the movie "The King and I" or read the book "Anna and the King of Siam?" This is THAT Anna. She was the former governess to the children of the King of Siam. After her adventure there, she moved to Halifax. She opened the Halifax Victorian School of Art in the building. 

The art school later moved and the building was bought by the Snow family and things got really interesting because they opened up John Snow & Co. Funeral Home.It would be John Snow who was tasked with the recovery of the dead from the sinking of the Titanic. Many of us know the story behind the building of the Titanic and its maiden voyage that ended in tragedy and we know what happened to Rose and Jack, but very few know the story of recovering the dead. It was a monumental task. Halifax had received word by 10:00 p.m. on April 15, 1912, that the Titanic had sunk and that there were hundreds believed dead. The White Star Line had a partner in Halifax, A.G. Jones and Company, and they asked them to charter a ship to help in recovery. This ship was the MacKay-Bennett and John Snow, Jr. was asked to head up the task since his funeral business was the largest and most successful in Nova Scotia. Snow quickly asked every undertaker and embalmer in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island to help.

A woman named Mary Dodosky Walsh was asked to join to help embalm the women and children and Canon Kenneth O. Hind was asked to join so burials at sea could be conducted. Several tons of ice, a hundred wooden caskets and tons of embalming material were loaded onto the MacKay-Bennett and it was off. Each embalmer was given his own room on board. The ship arrived at the scene at daylight on Sunday, April 21st and 51 bodies were immediately recovered. One of those victims was a blond haired two-year old who would never be claimed or identified. The crew had been instructed to do the same thing for every body. Each was marked with a piece of canvas that had and identifying stenciled number and these were logged in a book. The bodies were identified by scars, birthmarks, hair color and so on and any items recovered on the body were also documented. Unfortunately, people were embalmed in order of class, so the First Class got embalmed first. The rest would have to wait until they arrived in Halifax.

That evening, a couple dozen bodies were buried at sea, mostly crew members. They got back to work the following day and recovered another 27 bodies, one of whom was Colonel John Jacob Astor. John Snow, Jr. described the bodies they brought in, "Everybody had on a lifebelt and bodies floated very high in the water in spite of sodden clothes and things in pockets. Apparently people had lots of time and discipline for some had on their pajamas, two or three skirts, two pairs of pants, two vests, two jackets and an overcoat. In some pockets we {the embalmers} found quantities of meat and biscuits. In most every man’s pocket were found quite a bit of tobacco and matches and vials of whiskey. Many people had keys to their stateroom and lockers." There were more burials at sea that evening. 

By Tuesday, the Captain of the McKay-Bennett was sending out for more help. The embalmers were exhausted as was the crew. An additional 87 victims had just been recovered. A ship called the Minia was prepared back in Halifax and John Snow Sr. contacted casket manufacturers that more caskets needed to be made. He also gathered more embalming supplies. His son Will Snow boarded the Minia along with the Rev. H. W. Cunningham and they left Halifax at midnight. They arrived on Friday, April 25 and joined the MacKay-Bennett in gathering more bodies. The McKay- Bennett headed back to Halifax that evening with 190 bodies on board. The Minia would stay out until Tuesday, April 30th and then it came home too.

The Mayflower Curling Rink was set up to take the bodies. Any bodies that still needed embalming were done here in canvas-enclosed cubicles. Family members were brought in to identify loved ones. Many bodies were shipped home with Canada and America waiving all fees. The rest of the victims were buried at Fairview Cemetery and Baron de Hirsh Cemetery. The little blonde hair boy we mentioned earlier had his funeral furnished for free by the Snows. There were 75 officers and crew from the MacKay-Bennett at the funeral and they all chipped in for his monument. It reads, "Erected to the Memory of an Unknown Child Whose Remains Were Recovered After the Disaster to the Titanic, April 15, 1912."

As if the Titanic disaster had not been enough, just a couple years later, the Halifax Explosion occurred and the Snow Funeral Home was called again to take on a huge task with 2,000 victims. Rows and rows of coffins were lined up outside the building. After the business shut down, the building became a warehouse. In 1975, it was restored and refurbished and turned into the restaurant that it still is today, 5 Fisherman Restaurant. And with the history that the building has, it is no wonder that it is apparently very haunted. Employees and guests claim nearly daily odd occurrences. Shane Robilliard was the Five Fishermen's general manager in 2011 and he told The Hamilton Spectator that cutlery moves on its own, disembodied voices are heard and shadowy figures have been seen. One evening, some diners were trying to send a text message while dining and instead of the intended message, only the word death appeared in the text. The water turns itself on all the time.

A waiter was in the restaurant by himself late one night and heard the swinging doors leading into the kitchen start moving. He was sure he was alone, so he went to see if someone else had come into the restaurant and he found no one else there. A server was there on another night and as she approached the host stand, she saw a gray apparition that looked like a foggy mass and it moved down the staircase. She decided to lock up and leave. Another waiter was at the credit card machine ringing up a bill when he felt a tap on his shoulder. He mumbled to hang on and then he felt another tap on his shoulder. He yelled "What?!" as he turned around to see that no one was behind him.

One evening a hostess was leading a couple to their table and when she got to the salad bar she stopped to show them the offerings. She suddenly felt a brush across her face. It was not overtly violent feeling, but when she returned to the hostess stand, a co-worker asked her what happened to her face. There was the mark of a hand on her face as if she had been slapped. The salad bar seems to be a center of activity for some reason. A worker was setting up the salad bar one day when he heard a loud crash. He set down what he was carrying and went to find out what had happened. When he looked around the corner of the bar, he found a broken glass ashtray. He picked up the pieces and stood up facing the mirror and saw the reflection of an old man walking away from where he was standing. The man was wearing a long black coat and had long gray hair and he was tall. The worker was surprised because he was the only person who was supposed to be at the restaurant setting up. He spun around to question the man and didn't see him. He looked back at the mirror and the man was gone from there too. 

Another staff member encountered this same ghost. Several years later, an assistant manager was standing at the salad bar and talking on the phone. He saw an elderly man standing on the landing below him, looking up at him. He told the man he would be right with him. He wrapped up his phone call and went down to meet the man and could find him no where. The manager checked the doors and they were all locked, so there was no way this man could have gotten inside the restaurant. He was telling the employees about the experience and the one who had seen the older man in the mirror asked the manager to describe the man. The manager said that he was an older man with long gray hair and a long black coat. They had seen the same spirit. 

The Captain's Quarters is a private room behind the salad bar. One night after closing, a waiter heard a couple arguing loudly in the private room. He opened the door and the voices immediately stopped. There was no one in there. A few nights later, another server was checking everything and getting ready to lock up when she saw someone go into the private room. She was the only one at the restaurant, so she opened the door to see who had gone in there and she found the room empty. The only exit was the entrance and no one went passed her. 

Other employees claim to have heard their names whispered. Some say that they feel cold spots and even that it feels like a spirit has passed through them. A waitress was setting up a station when she heard a tapping on the window. She looked up and saw nothing, so she went back to work. She heard the tapping again and thought it was really weird since this was a second story window. She walked over towards the window and saw a misty gray shadow outside the window. As she got closer, it dissipated.

Halifax is a beautiful maritime location. This spot has seen its share of disasters and history. Are these locations in Halifax haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, February 10, 2022

HGB Ep. 422 - Cincinnati's Union Terminal and Art Museum

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Moment in Oddity - Dead Man's Hole (Suggested by: Jill Phenix Martinez)

Dead Man's Hole is located a few miles south of Marble Falls in Burnet County, Texas. This is a limestone sinkhole with a 7-foot diameter opening and a depth around 15 stories deep. In 1951, a group of spelunkers from the University of Texas explored the hole. They found natural gases coming from the hole so they had to use special breathing apparatus. They found that the hole split into two arms. Imagine their surprise when they found the bones of seventeen people in the bottom of the hole. There had been a large oak tree that sat here once and it was used for hanging people. Sometimes the bodies were discarded into the hole. There was a group of zealous secessionist Texans in the area named Fire Eaters and they killed anyone who didn't share their views. One of the men they killed was a New York-born judge named John Scott and they dumped his bullet-riddled body into the hole. The Fire Eaters hanged a man named Adolph Hoppe from the oak tree and cut his body down so that it would fall into the hole. The final body identified belonged to Benjamin McKeever and his was a retribution killing done by the friends of a man he killed. The bag of bones retrieved from Dead Man's Hole were taken to the Burnet County Courthouse and eventually disappeared. Why they were taken to a courthouse is anybody's guess. The hole is now part of a park and is covered by a metal grate. Dead Man's Hole and that lost bag of bones, certainly are odd!

This Month in History - United Artists Created

In the month of February, on the 5th in 1919, United Artists was created. Actors wanted to be able to control their own interests rather than being dependent on the big studios. United Artists was formed by Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith and it quickly did well because these were all big name stars. Veteran producers eventually joined, but by the 1940s, the studio was struggling financially. The production studio was sold in 1951 and UA only financed and distributed films with the original partners selling their shares in the mid-1950s. Successful films like The African Queen and West Side Story and franchises like James Bond and the Pink Panther helped UA to thrive again. Several Best Picture Oscars came in the 1970s, but then UA was struggling again. In 1981 it merged with MGM and eventually became a boutique producer of smaller films before being acquired by Tom Cruise and his production partner, Paula Wagner. Later, the UA brand was subsumed into MGM and in 2018 became United Artists Digital Studios, which it still is today.

Cincinnati's Union Terminal and Art Museum (Suggested by: Angela Wallingford)

Union Terminal in Cincinnati, Ohio was one of the last great American train stations built and has the largest half-dome in the western hemisphere. The terminal has helped tourists get around, welcomed World War II soldiers home and now features several museums. The unique Art Deco building also served as inspiration for the Justice League's Hall of Justice. The Cincinnati Art Museum has stood for over 136 years. Both of these locations have several ghost stories. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of Cincinnati's Union Terminal and Art Museum.

After the Great Flood of 1884, Cincinnati was in need of a plan for railroad traffic. The city had several stations, all of which were too close to the Ohio River and so prone to flooding. Plans were delayed over the years by the Depression of 1920 and World War I, but by 1927, seven of the biggest railroads had reached an agreement and chosen a site for their one massive terminal building. The site was in the West End near the Mill Creek. Architectural firm Fellheimer & Wagner were chosen to design the building and they started ith a Gothic style structure, but eventually chose Art Deco. The Union Terminal Company was formed to contruct the building and that began in 1928. 5.5 million cubic yards needed to be hauled in to fill in the Mill Creek valley. Construction was finished ahead of schedule at a cost of $41.5 million. The complex officially opened on March 31, 1933.

The terminal complex had 22 buildings covering 287 acres with the main structure set as a T-shape with a long half dome over it and five floors. The main facade was inspired by the Helsinki Central Station in Finland. There are seven limestone mullions with two of them supporting a large central clock made from 52 panes of glass. Neon tubing was added to the hands, giving them an orange-red hue. Behind the mullions is a semi-circle of frosted windows. There are two bas-relief carvings made by Maxfield Keck on each end of the arch. The north carving represents transportation and the south carving represents commerce. Nine doors lead into a marble vestibule and the rotunda with its interior dome that spanned 180 feet and rose 106 feet. The design of the complex featured three concentric lanes of traffic for cars and taxis, buses and streetcars. Ninety-four miles of track brought in and out 216 trains a day carrying around 17,000 passengers.

The exterior of the main terminal was constructed from steel, concrete, masonry curtain walls and fine-grained limestone. That limestone includes the fossils of snails, sea lilies, brachiopods and other organisms. There is also Cold Spring dark rainbow granite. The original dome was terra cotta that was replaced with aluminum sheathing in 1945. Other parts of the complex include a washing platform, cinder pit, coaling station, a power plant, two electric substations, roundhouse, water treatment plant, a mail handling building and an express terminal. The express building was two stories tall with offices on the second floor. This was 742 feet long and had platforms with canopies. The Western Hills Viaduct spans the rail yards and is 3,500 feet long.

The interior of the terminal was very bright with lots of light and warm colors. The marble in the rotunda is 150 million years old and features fossils. There was red and yellow Verona marble and dark red Tennessee marble. The dome ceiling was plastered in yellow and orange. Everything was accented in aluminum. The flooring was terrazzo of gray and rose coloring, divided by brass strips. The pattern flowed in such a way that it guided people to and from the main entrance and platforms. The rotunda has murals depicting American and Cincinnati history. The heating was ahead of its time with ramps being heated and hot air venting from behind light fixtures. The rotunda had a semi-circular central information desk and ticket kiosk with 18 ticket windows. There was a newsstand, tobacco shop, soda fountain, drug store, telegraph center, a tea room, a small theater, clothing shops and two dining rooms. The waiting rooms featured marble and wainscoting with zebrawood, walnut and holly. There were connecting bathrooms that had marble walls and showers.

The train concourse was demolished in 1974. American Oak Leather-upholstered settees and chairs in aluminum frames were used for seating rather than wood benches. The interior featured industrial mosaics made by Winold Reiss representing fifteen local businesses: piano manufacturing (Baldwin Piano Co.); radio broadcasting (Crosley Corp.); roof manufacturing (Philip Carey Co.); leather production (American Oak Leather Co.); airplane manufacturing (Aeronca Company); ink making (Ault & Weiborg Corp.); laundry-machinery manufacturing (American Laundry Machine); meat packing (E. Kahn & Sons); pharmaceutical production (William S. Merrill Co.); printing (U.S. Playing Card Co. and Champion Paper Co.); steel manufacturing (American Rolling Mills [Armco]); rolled steel manufacturing (Andrews Steel Company and Newport Rolling Mill); soap making (Procter & Gamble Co.); and machine tools manufacturing (Cincinnati Milling Machine). Those mosaics were saved and moved to several different locations. Several were moved back to the complex and placed in the museums. It took three months to remove the murals and it was very difficult. Two of them can be seen in the movie Rain Man.

Passenger train service would come to an end on October 28, 1972. Eventually it would return in 1991 when Amtrak started operating out of Union Terminal. The complex had never been very busy. People in the city called it a White Elephant. Traveling by train was already losing its luster by the time it opened with the only uptick coming during World War II. By 1962, only 24 trains were passing through the terminal. The city decided to brainstorm some other uses for the building. The Cincinnati Science Center opened in 1968, but closed soon after in 1970. Just before demolition was scheduled, the terminal was nominated and placed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Southern Railway bought the passenger yard and turned it into a freight yard and they had the terminal concourse demolished. The city of Cincinnati purchased the terminal in 1975 and started looking for tenants. Columbus based Skilken Organization stepped forward with plans to turn the building into a mall called the Land of Oz. Their plan included a bowling alley and ice skating rink. Cincinnati awarded them a lease and the developer spent $20 million renovating the terminal. They installed retail shops and restaurants, but the bowling alley and skating rink never happened. There were 54 vendors and 8,00 visitors a day coming through after it opened in August of 1980. By the following year, tenants were already moving out of the mall and Oz closed in 1984. Part of the building was renovated to become the Cincinnati Museum of Health, Science and Industry, which opened in 1982. This would be joined by the Cincinnati Historical Society and Cincinnati Museum of Natural History and later the Omnimax theater and Cinergy Children's Museum were added. All the museums are known as Cincinnati Museum Center now. 

When Amtrak started service here again, the former men's lounge was turned into their waiting room and ticket counter. Major renovations to the entire complex were started in 2016 and completed in 2018. Another museum was added in 2019, Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust and Humanity Center. The Rookwood tea room had that name because it was completely decorated in Rookwood Pottery tiles. During World War II it operated as a USO center and in 1980 it became a GD Ritzy's ice cream and chili parlor. Then it was a United Dairy Farmers ice cream shop. Today it is a Graeter's ice cream parlor.

For years, people have claimed that the complex is haunted. One of the stories is connected to a World War II plane. A ghostly pilot has been seen inside the plane on several occasions. There are mysterious sounds that seem to hearken back to the war with the sounds of people crying and welcoming back soldiers. The disembodied playing of children is also heard. The most famous ghost that is here belongs to a former fifty-year-old security guard named Shirley Baker. She had been working here for a year when the sound of breaking glass was heard on September 6, 1989. Shirley told co-workers that she was going to investigate and was never seen alive again. When she didn't return after a while, her co-workers went looking for her and found the broken glass and Shirley's car missing. Eventually her body was found in a shallow grave in Clermont County. She had been kicked to death. Three men were apprehended for the murder after two years. Shirley's apparition has been seen roaming the hallways and she checks the doors to make sure they are locked by rattling the door knobs. She has spooked many of the cleaning crews. One of the employees, Jessica Urban, was in a storage room when she felt a strong cold spot and then a flash of blue and she was sure that it was Shirley.

Angie's experience, "I do have personal encounters here. There was a replica of an ice cave in the Natural History museum, at the end of the cave was a small pool of water with a water fall and large chunks of "ice". Leading a  group one evening, which I had done 100s of time, I watched as a dark shadow rose from behind one of the 'ice' chunks and run into the  waterfall. A co-worker was walking down a ramp in a gallery near this ice cave, said she saw a shadow moving quickly up the ramp, she froze, the shadow went through her with a cold gust of wind. I was working an overnight one evening in the Natural History Museum, I needed to go to the offices on the second floor. There was a big fancy event happening in the rotunda, so I wasn't able to take my normal route through the rotunda and up the elevator.  I had to take the stairs, which I had only done a handful of times before. I walked out of the stairwell, and into a long hall, to my left overlooked the rotunda, to my right, a lot of doors. As I walked, I mumbled that I had no idea where I'm going, then a door opened, I peeked in, and it was the door I needed. I walked through, saying, 'Thanks Shirley', and door closed behind me. I later told my supervisor about this, she looked at me wide eyed and told me that Shirley has been known to open the doors for women, but slams them shut on men."

The Cincinnati Art Museum

In the late 1800s, public art museums were just gaining steam in America. In 1881, the Cincinnati Museum Association was formed with the goal of founding an art museum in the city. Their first goal was to find funding and they found a large donor in Charles West. He was a successful local businessman and philanthropist and he donated $150,000. The Cincinnati Art Museum sits on a hill in Eden Park because that is where West wanted the building to be built. Other people had wanted downtown Cincinnati on Washington Park or Burnet Woods, but when you put up the big bucks, you get to choose the location. West did something else that helped raise funds. He challenged the citizens of the city to raise matching funds within a year. The citizens met the challenge in a MONTH! Clearly, the people wanted this museum.

Cincinnati architect James W. McLaughlin was hired to design the building and he chose the Romanesque-revival architectural style. The museum officially opened on May 17, 1886 and is still open today, making it one of the oldest public art museums in the United States. The displays have changed over the years and additions have been made to the building over the last 136 years. So many changes that it is actually hard to make out the original structure. The dome, tower and west facade are the only original elements visible. The building was made from local blue limestone, red granite from Missouri and Bay of Fundy polished granite makes up the columns. The windows were made from large sheets of polished plate glass and red Akron tiles were used on the roof.

The Art Academy of Cincinnati relocated to the museum in 1887 and the first big addition came in 1907 when the Schmidlapp Wing was opened. This wing was named for Emma Louise Schmidlapp who was the daughter of financier and philanthropist Jacob Schmidlapp. He did this as a memorial for Emma who was killed in a train crash, along with her mother, in February of 1900. This addition was designed by Chicago architect Daniel Burnham in the Doric style. A corridor gallery attaches this to the main building. In 1910, the Ropes Wing was added because of bequeaths from sisters Eliza and Mary Ropes and was designed by Cincinnati architects Garber and Woodward. More additions came in the 1930s with the Emery Wing named for Cincinnati philanthropists Thomas and Mary Emery and the Hanna and French wings. These were also designed by Garber and Woodward. The courtyard was enclosed and the museum took on a more rectangular shape. That courtyard would be officially named the Alice Bimel Courtyard in 2004 in honor of a longtime museum volunteer. Frederick H. Alms was a founder of the Alms and Doepke Dry Goods Company and his widow Eleanora bequeathed money for the Alms Wing in 1937, which was designed by local architects Rendigs, Panzer, and Martin. The main entrance was moved in the 1950s and that is the entrance that is still used today. The Great Hall was divided into two floors at this time as well. 

The Adams-Emery Wing was built in 1965. A two-year, $13 million renovation started in 1993. The Great Hall was returned to its 1886 appearance. A staircase that had been demolished was rebuilt. The first floor of the Adams-Emery Wing became the Cincinnati Wing in 2003 and is dedicated to Cincinnati's art history. The Longworth Wing was opened in 2013 and named for Joseph Longworth, a significant figure in the history of the art academy and museum. The Rosenthal Education Center opened in 2015. The CAM is part of the Monuments Men and Women Museum Network, launched in 2021 by the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art. The collections in the museum span 6,000 years of human history and include over 67,000 pieces. This is the largest collection in Ohio. There also seems to be a collection of spirits here.

Employees and visitors claim to see mysterious orbs and figures. A painting of a woman with a lyre is said to sometimes sing in French. A Samuel Best clock in the Cincinnati wing no longer has its bells, but people say that it still manages to chime. A ghost rises from a mummy displayed in the antiquities gallery. This usually looks like a black mist that rises to the ceiling and disappears. A storage closet above this area was used by security guards to catch a break and a nap. One day a guard awakened to see a menacing head floating directly in front of him. He tried to get to the door, but the head kept blocking him. It took several minutes for him to escape and he was done working for the museum. There is a legend that someone hanged themselves from the third floor balcony in the main room. People claim to see this hanging figure on occasion. And the women's bathrooms have several stories, of course. In the Dutch Gallery, women with long hair feel as if someone is pulling their hair.

Russell Ihrig shared stories from staff at the museum with Local station 12 in 2019. He said, "In the Great Hall, they'll see sort of shadowy figures moving around on the staircases and on the balconies, and they kind of disappear and move around. I've had guards tell me about a woman that walked past them in a certain staircase when they were closing and they said, 'Oh, we're closing, ma'am,' and then when they looked again, she was gone." Another group of people "heard someone cough, and they turned around and they didn't see anybody, and all they could hear was the whispering and someone saying, 'Frank!'" Also, "People have seen a sort of hooded figure, which many interpret to be a monk, in that room, rising up and floating through the space." Russell shared a story on an interview he did with the Cincinnati Museum Center that was chilling. A security guard who worked the desk in the morning would always say good morning to another guard named Rosemary who would walk past him in the morning. She would greet him warmly. One morning, she passed the front desk without responding to his greeting and he wondered what was wrong. Later in the break room, he wondered aloud to the other guards, "Anybody know what is Rosemary's issue today? She walked past me this morning without responding to my greeting." The guards looked at each other and one of them said, "Well, Rosemary died last night." 

Museums are such fun spaces. There are some interesting stories connected to these two complexes dedicated to the art and history of Cincinnati. Are Cincinnnati's Union Terminal and Art Museum haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, February 3, 2022

HGB Ep. 421 - Laura and Oak Alley Plantations

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Moment in Oddity - The Johnny Cash Tarantula (Suggested by: Jared Rang)

Johnny Cash was known as "The Man in Black," so why wouldn't scientists name an all black tarantula after him? Tarantulas are some of the most unique spiders in the world and there are about 29 species of them in the United States. They belong to the genus Aphonopelma and fourteen of the species in America are entirely new to science with Aphonopelma johnnycashi being one of them. This variety was discovered around 2015. Most male johnnycashi taratulas are black in coloration, hence the inspiration for the name. Also, the scientist who discovered the species, Dr. Chris Hamilton, said the species is mainly found near Folsom Prison in California and who doesn't know the tune "Folsom Prison Blues" made famous by Cash? The johnnycashi taratula is pretty cool, but naming a spider after a famous musician, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Gunslinger John Wesley Hardin Pardoned

In the month of February, on the 16th in 1894, Gunslinger John Wesley Hardin is pardoned. Hardin was an infamous gunslinger who was thought to have killed at least 40 people in his time. His first murder was at the age of fifteen and the victim was an ex-slave. Hardin went on the run, but was eventually arrested in Waco, Texas - oddly, for a crime he hadn't committed. He escaped and ran to his friend Wild Bill Hickok who ran Abilene, Texas. Hardin found more trouble here when he shot through his hotel room wall to stop another guest's snoring that had awakened him. The shots killed the man and Hardin was on the run again. He finally ended up in Florida where he shot another man and was arrested. He was spared the gallows and given a life sentence, which he served fifteen years of before being pardoned. He moved to El Paso and became what else, a lawyer. His past caught up to him though and he was shot in the back and killed in a revenge murder.

Laura and Oak Alley Plantations (Suggested by Yvette Tan)

Traveling through the swamp lands of Louisiana is an adventure, not only through nature, but through history. The dank humid air and large oaks filled with Spanish Moss add an air of the creepy. So much is haunted here. These swamp lands were once dotted with large plantations and some of them still exist today. Laura Plantation and Oak Alley Plantation are found near Vacherie, Lousiana. Today, they are museums that one can explore and possibly interact with a few ghosts. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the Laura and Oak Alley Plantations!

Vacherie, Louisiana is a part of the St. James Parish and located an hour away from New Orleans. This small town was used as a location for filming the series True Detective. The name means cowshed in French, or what we prefer Dairy Farm, and is home to several former plantations. Little has changed here and most people who live here were born in the area and never leave.

Most people are familiar with the tale of Br'er Rabbit because of Disney's movie Song of the South and the amusement park ride Splash Mountain, which was inspired by the movie. What most people probably don't know is that the tales about Br'er Rabbit were brought over to America from Senegal by slaves and made known to the rest of the world by a neighbor of the Laura Plantation named Alcee Fortier. He visited the plantation in 1870 and recorded the stories of the freedmen still working on the plantation after the Civil War. These stories were passed down in the creole language. They featured the clever rabbit and the stupid fool, said in creole as Compair Lapin and Compair Bouki. Br'er rabbit is indeed a trickster in the stories. These stories were published by Fortier in 1894 as "Louisiana Folk Tales: In French Dialect and English Translation." Eventually they would be adapted into the stories that Disney used for their movie.

But before the stories and before the plantation, there was a large Acolapissa village here. It was named Tabiscanja, meaning long river view, and dated to the early 1700s. There were ceremonial mounds built high above the river and huts were placed at higher elevations as well. This was a small, obscure Native American group that lived in Louisiana and Mississippi and are believed to have spoken a Muskogean language called Mobilian. They disappeared as they merged into other tribes, but a remnant did stay here and would live on part of the plantation until 1915. A little side story here told by the plantation website says that "In the mid-1700s, a Catholic missionary came and chopped down the Acolapissa's 14ft-high, red-painted totem. The priest was upset because the totem was an erect phallus." This totem pole was called a Baton Rouge, which means red stick. SO for those of you living in Baton Rouge, well... Actually, legend claims Baton Rouge got its name from a cypress pole stained red with blood that marked a boundary on hunting grounds between Native American tribes.

Acadian refugees settled here in 1785. They had been run out of Canada by the British in a violent and harsh expulsion. People were burned from their homes and some were killed and this is considered a crime against humanity in line with genocide. The Acadians found refuge in Louisiana and it is from them that we get the Cajun culture. The word Acadien became the word Cadien, which became Cajun. A large area that the Acadians occupied became part of the Laura Plantation.

Guillaume Benjamin Demézière Duparc was the first owner of the Laura Plantation and so it was first called the Duparc Plantation or more specifically l'Habitation Duparc. He had been granted the large track of land by Thomas Jefferson in 1804 for his service during the Revolutionary War. The largest building on the property was the Big House, which was built with slave labor and completed in 1805. There was a raised brick basement and the house was built in a U-shape with a central coutryard flanked on either side by wings. That raised brick basement means that the house was raised high above the ground, supported by blue-gray glazed brick columns and walls. There was an 8-foot deep pyramidal brick foundation underground. A separate kitchen building was behind the house. Much of the house was prefabricated and made from wood and done in the Creole architectural style, but it had unique elements. There was Federal-style interior woodwork and a Norman roof truss. There were no hallways, just two rows of five rooms that opened into each other. The interior was plastered and the outside was stuccoed and covered in several bright hues of red, ochre, pearl and green. The 24,000 square foot house was surrounded by a white picket fence encompassing a large yard for entertainment. The property also had a dairy, smokehouse, blacksmith shop and overseer cabins.

Duparc continued to buy more land until the property covered 12,000 acres. The Mississippi River was only 600 feet away. The main crop was sugarcane, but the land also produced pecans, rice and indigo. Slave cabins lined a dirt road behind the plantation house and this road led to a sugar mill about a mile away. Two families would share a cabin with doors for privacy and they shared a central fireplace. The cabins each had their own gardens and chicken coops or pigpens. There were 69 cabins in all with a separate communal kitchen building and an infirmary. At its height before the Civil War, the plantation had around 186 slaves.

Guillaume Duparc lived at the plantation for four years before he died in 1808 and the property passed to his daughter Elisabeth Duparc. She had married George Raymond Locoul, so the plantation became the property of the Locoul family and eventually passed to Laura Locoul Gore who was the fourth mistress of the plantation. She ran it as a sugar cane plantation and the name of the plantation comes from her first name. She wrote the memoir "Memories of the Old Plantation Home: A Creole Family Album," which wasn't published until 2000.

Florian Waguespack bought Laura Plantation in 1891 and continued the production of sugarcane on the farm. After about a century of production and occupation, the main house and gardens were in disrepair, so the Laura Plantation Company, LLC was established and acquired fourteen acres that included the main house and other outbuildings in 1993. Restoration was done to the French parterre garden, a pecan orchard, the roads and fences, a potager planted adjacent to the original kitchen and vegetable plots were replanted near the surviving slave cabins.

Today, the Big House no longer has the back wings and a back kitchen wing had been added off the back porch. Six of the slave quarters still remain and there is a second house known as Maison de Reprise, which was built for the first female president of the Duparc Plantation. The plantation was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a museum that can be toured that houses many of the family heirlooms from over the years. A fire in 2004 damaged 80% of the Big House and completely destroyed the newer kitchen wing, which was not rebuilt. The rest of the house was restored in 2006.

The Duparc family were Creole and the plantation celebrates this heritage. Creole was about culture, not race, so many different groups are also considered Creole whether they were enslaved or free blacks, white European immigrants, Native American or Acadian descendants. To be Creole meant that you were probably born in Louisiana, spoke Spanish, French and/or Creole and practiced the Catholic faith. French was the main language though, with most Creoles having that as their first language. This culture was very different from the White-Anglo-Saxon-Protestant culture that made up most of America. The Creole culture faltered when public eduation was mandated in 1916 and schools were segregated and the French language was deemed a foreign language and English became the mandatory language. The Jim Crowe laws of the 1960s further divided the Creoles into separate segregated groups. Much is still lost today, but a resurgence in Creole food, music, folklore, architecture and traditions has taken place. And Creole was not limited to America. Brazil and the Guianas are recognized as Creole countries and many islands in the Caribbean are saturated with Creole culture.

Plantations conjur conflicting emotions. On one hand, there are beautiful landscapes crowned with gorgeous homes. On the other is the repressive past that found men, women and child enslaved based merely on their circumstance of birth. Many plantations were host to cruelty and witnessed the violence of war and rebellion. Some groups believe these plantations should all be razed. But do these homes simply bear the sins of their owners or can they be a place of healing? For us, as is the case for all history whether good, bad or somewhere in between, there is always value. And when considering the spirits that still remain, simply erasing the past may not serve whatever their connection to the property may be. Laura Plantation is no different than many of the other plantations in the south. Nearly all have ghost stories connected to them. Laura Plantation doesn't seem to want to embrace those stories, but that doesn't make the ghosts disappear.

Our listener Yvette Tan, who suggested this location, has visited Laura Plantation and she said of her visit, "I began to get a headache as the tour group moved from a bedroom to the dining room, the sensation going away after we exited the house through the kitchen. I thought nothing of it. Later, as the group rested underneath a covered bridge on the property, I asked if anyone had experienced anything supernatural in the area. The guide said that though they weren’t allowed to say anything, there have been reports of one of the slaves (sort of like the mayordoma or manager) appearing in the dining room. Imagine the coincidence!" Activity in the home seemed to pickup after the fire and remodeling. People who walk the grounds never fell alone. But other than this little bit of information, that's all we got as paranormal investigations are not allowed. The same can't be said of Oak Alley Plantation that has at least four apparitions on the grounds.

Oak Alley Plantation is less than four miles away from Laura Plantation and is known as the "Grand Dame of the Great River Road." No one knows for sure who planted the huge hundred-year-old oaks that line the eight-hundred-foot path up to the plantation. There are twenty-eight of them spaced eighty feet apart. They predate the plantation by at least 100 years. Historians believe that Oak Alley got its name from riverboat captains who saw the alley formed by the oaks and gave the landmark the navigational nickname. A French Creole named Valcour Aime purchased the land here in 1830 and established a sugarcane plantation. He named it The Bon Séjour Plantation - meaning good or pleasant stay - and Aime became one of the wealthiest men in the South acquiring the nickname "King of Sugar." Valcour Aime had a brother-in-law named Jacques Télesphore Roman who also owned a plantation and in 1836, the men exchanged property. Roman would be the one to build the mansion here and it was constructed with slave labor. The house was completed in 1839.

The mansion was built by George Swainey in the Greek Revival architectural style with a square floor plan. A central hall runs through the middle of both stories of the house. The windows are large and the ceilings high at twelve feet. This design probably helped with cooling the house in the oppressive summer heat. The mansion was built from bricks that were made on site and then stuccoed and painted white as to look like marble. The front has a distinctive colonnade of  28 Doric columns to match the 28 oak trees. The roof was made of slate with four dormers, one on each side of the hipped roof.

The Bon Sejour had a master gardener among its enslaved population of 200 and he was named Antoine and he was brilliant with plants. He is credited with creating the "paper shell" pecan that can be cracked with the hand by using grafting techniques in 1846. These are today known as the Centennial Variety. The original grove was cleared to plant more sugarcane after the Civil War and another original stand on the Anita Plantation was washed away in a river break in 1990. Roman died of tuberculosis in 1848 and his wife Celina took over operations at the plantation. Celina loved spending money and wasn't very good at management and the plantation came under heavy debt she nearly bankrupted the estate. In 1859 her son, Henri, took over, but with the onslaught of the Civil War, the property lost its economic viability - probably because much of the work force was free and left. The plantation was put up for auction in 1866 and sold to John Armstrong for $32,800.

Confederate War veteran Antonio Sobral was the next owner, buying the property in 1881, and he tried to get the sugar cane business going again, but had little success. The Hardin Family owned the property next and they saved the oak trees from destruction by levee work supervised by the Army Corps of Engineers. This was a massive property that had been established by a very wealthy man and it seemed that no one could manage to upkeep the property. It fell into steady disrepair until 1925 when Andrew and Josephine Stewart bought the property. They hired architect Richard Koch to refurbish and modernize the house. The black and white marble floors were replaced with wood and a kitchen would be built in the rear of the first floor. Extra dormers would added to the roof as well. The Stewarts transformed the former sugar plantation into a cattle ranch. Sugar cane would return in the 1960s, however. Josephine planted a formal garden as well. She would continue on at the plantation after Andrew died and when she passed in 1972, she left the property to the Oak Alley Foundation, which opened the property to the public. A garage was turned into a theater and there is still a blacksmith shop on the property as well as the Stewart graveyard. And recreated slave quarters were added to reflect the true history of the property. A slave database project has also been underway to identify all the slaves that had once been on the property.

The plantation has been used as a location in the films "The Long, Hot Summer," "Primary Colors" and "Interview with the Vampire." The series "North and South" also featured the plantation. Today, it is a restaurant and inn offering a tranquil retreat in the plantation country with award-winning food and tours. There are several cottages on the property for stays and weddings are regularly hosted. The "Spirits Bar" is aptly named not only for the drinks that are served, but this property is reputedly haunted by several spirits.

Two of the people who loved this home the most were Jacques Roman and Josephine Stewart and they both seem to still be here in the afterlife. The apparition of Roman has been seen walking around the mansion's galleries by both employees and guests. He is described often in formal wear. He usually vanishes after being seen. Jacques has also been seen wearing grey clothing and riding boots. Josephine spent much of her later years in the Lavender Room and her presence is felt here often. She enjoyed roses and planted many on the grounds, so if she is nearby the scent of roses is usually detected. Sometimes it is so strong as to be overwhelming. She has also been seen looking out of the window of this room. And once an employee outside saw the light turn on in the Lavender Room and a figure glided across the room and then looked out the window that resembled Josephine. Rocking chairs on the front porch have been known to move on their own.

Tragedy was a real thing for the Roman family and maybe it was karma for keeping slaves. Not only did Roman die of TB at a rather young age, they lost a daughter, Marie, after his passing at the age of eleven. Another daughter named Louise developed gangrene after a fall in her wire hoopskirt and her leg had to be amputated. She was so traumatized by the experience that she left and became a nun. And then, of course, the family lost the property. So there is reason for negative residue here. The dining room is the scene of much activity. Silverware and candlesticks have been known to go flying. Jacques wife is sometimes blamed for this, but the spirits of former slaves are thought to be here as well.

Ghost Hunters visited in Season 4 on episode 19, so clearly the place embraces its haunted reputation. Sandra Schexnayder was the house manager at the time and she shared her own experiences. She saw a spirit she called "the lady of the house" on the stairs, while she was seated at the piano. She had locked the house and was just waiting for the last tour to finish up. The ghost was wearing black, she walked to the staircase, stopped and turned to look at Sandra. Sandra stood up to walk towards the ghost and she disappeared. Another woman named Darlene Gravois was looking out the window and she saw a shadow and then a woman wearing an Antebellum costume outside. She thought it was maybe someone for the tour, but there was no one outside when she opened the door. This woman too was in black. The woman in black has also been seen in the large mirror in the hallway. Many people think that this ghost belongs to Celina, the wife of Jacques Roman.

Celina is also seen sitting on a bed in an upstairs bedroom. Sometimes there is just an impression in the bed as if someone unseen is sitting there. Dee Bergeron was a tour guide at the house and she told the guys that she witnessed a candle fall out of the candelabra on the table in the dining room. She put the candle back in the holder and as she turned to leave the room, the candle came out of the holder and shot across the room, hitting a door. Sandra will not go into the attic. She says she usually makes it to the fifteenth step and she just can't go any further because of an overwhelming presence that she feels. The employees also claimed that one night after turning everything off and going outside, all the lights came on. They were too scared to go back inside, so drove away and as they looked back, they saw that the house was dark once again.

During the investigation, Jason caught a heat signature on the FLIR camera on an outside balcony. When Grant went out there, there was barely a heat signature, so it was weird. Steve felt a presence next to him while sitting at the dining table. Jason and Grant both felt a cold spot in one of the rooms as they were talking about other people now owning the property and they wondered if it made previous owners angry since these owners could do whatever they wanted. A flashlight also turned on and off by itself.

The Louisiana Spirits Investigations group has also investigated the property and they captured several EVP. All the activity they captured happened in the attic. Shadows were seen on the walls and someone saw Roman's face in a mirror for a brief moment. One of the investigators also had his arm grabbed rather roughly by something he couldn't see. He dropped his camera from the force. There was one experience in Cottage 4 where the group stayed. They got an early morning wake-up call when there was a loud bang.

These two plantations are beautiful and a reminder of a troubling and interesting past. Are there still spirits that remain from that past? Are the Laura and Oak Alley Plantations haunted? That is for you to decide!