Thursday, March 31, 2022

HGB Ep. 429 - Haunted Nantucket

Moment in Oddity - Criminal Confessions to Skeleton (Suggested by: Sarah Lynn Jones)

Helene Adelaide Shelby of Oakland, California filed for U.S. Patent #1749090 on August 16, 1927 for an invention she named, "Apparatus for obtaining criminal confessions and photographically recording them." That's quite the mouthful, but what is really unique about this invention is that it entailed using a skeleton to extract confessions from criminals. A suspect would be placed in a small, dark chamber facing a curtained area. The curtain would be lifted and there before the suspect would be a skeleton, surrounded by a translucent veil and lit from above and below by electric lights, which made the skeleton appear to be like a ghost. The skeleton had red light bulbs in its eye sockets. The invention also had a recording device, so that the tape could be used in court and a suspect could not retract their confession. Shelby wrote in her patent application that "it is a well known fact in criminal practices that confessions obtained initially from those suspected of crimes through ordinary channels, are almost invariably later retracted" and that her invention could "produce a state of mind calculated to cause [a criminal], if guilty, to make confession thereof." The skeleton's eyes could blink and the examiner would ask questions through a megaphone from behind the skeleton, so it would perhaps be more believable that the skeleton was real and asking the questions. The apparatus was never built and probably couldn't have been used past 1961 when the Supreme Court ruled that coerced confessions were not admissible in court. Using a skeleton with glowing red eyes to get confessions from criminals is an interesting idea and if built, certainly would have been odd!

This Month in History - Triple Conjunction Causes the Black Death?

In the month of March, on the 20th, in 1345, a conjunction of three planets is blamed for causing the Black Death. Every 20 years, Saturn and Jupiter form a conjunction in which they cross over each other in the sky. The most recent was December 21, 2020. On this date in 1345, Jupiter and Saturn were joined by Mars in a triple conjunction. According to 14th-century scholars, this conjunction was to blame for the Black Death that swept through Europe, the Middle East and Asia during that century. Twenty-five million people died during the Plague. And as if blaming a conjunction of stars was not preposterous enough, others were blamed for the circumstances. People they referred to at the time as gypsies were blamed, as were witches or minorities like the Jews. As we know now, a bacteria caused the epidemic and stars certainly have nothing to do with that.

Haunted Nantucket

Nantucket is a small isolated island off of Cape Cod and has long been a summer destination for people. This had once been a whaling hub and was originally home to the Algonquian Nehantucket People. Fog regularly envelopes the island leading to it being nicknamed "The Little Grey Lady of the Sea." It seems the perfect setting for a few ghost stories and this little island has plenty of them. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of Nantucket!

Nantucket Island is part of the state of Massachusetts and sits thirty miles south of Cape Cod. The name Nantucket was derived from Algonquian names for the island, which meant something like "far away island." The original group that settled here were the Niantic or as they called themselves, Nehantucket. That name refers to being "of long-necked waters" probably referring to a peninsula of land. They arrived from Rhode Island and Connecticut. The first European to arrive here was Bartholomew Gosnold and that was in 1602. A man named Thomas Mayhew bought the island in 1641, but no one would settle here until 1659 and that would be a group of Quakers led by Thomas Macy and the settlement was called Sherburne. Mayhew sold a large interest of the island to several other men for thirty pounds and two beaver hats, one for himself and one for his wife. New York was the first state to control the island, but it eventually passed to Massachusetts in 1695. At that same time, the name of the island officially became Nantucket. The first industries here were farming and raising sheep, but soon the whaling industry took hold. And the way it first started was to use the Native American population to row the small boats with one white Nantucketer on board running the show. That is the only way this became a successful whaling port. A great fire in 1846 devastated the island. Economic issues caused hardship and the Civil War finished off the whaling industry because the boats were destroyed. The 1950s would spawn an era of growth as developers turned the island into a tourist destination and a luxurious place to live. Today, Nantucket is a summer play place for the rich. Single family homes run at least a million here. And there is enough history to have spawned many ghost stories. Here are some of the reputedly haunted places on Nantucket.

Tuckernuck Island

Tuckernuck Island is part of the Town and County of Nantucket and is a very small island west of Nantucket. There are no paved roads here or electricity and its remoteness is inviting for people looking for solitude and a chance to relax away from the chaos of the world. That makes this the perfect spot for a cryptid! The Yoho is said to live here and the Native Americans have legends that claim that this griffin-like creature takes children who have been bad. Seems like a good way to get kids to behave themselves. There have been sightings of the Yoho though. There is a statue of the creature in its full half eagle, half lion glory on the island.

Roberts House Inn

The Roberts House inn is part of the historic district of Nantucket. The Roberts House Inn was built in 1846 in the Greek Revival style. Before this was on this site, there was a postage stamp house that burned to the ground in the Great Fire of 1846. Real estate developer William Hussey bought the land and built the house, which was a private residence. His daughter Alice inherited the house and converted it to an inn in 1883. She operated that inn for 15 years and then it was auctioned off. John Roberts bought it and ran it as an inn also and his daughters continued that work through to 1960. Roberts bought the Quaker Meeting House next door and remodeled that into a restuarant and added rooms to the second floor. Someone else bought and ran the inn from 1960 to 1974 and then the O'Reilly family bought it and in 1986 they bought the Royal Manor, which had been next to the Quaker Meeting House. So the complete property is three buildings and two of them have ghost stories connected. 

The first story dates to 1977 and features the spirit of a young woman. An employee was down in the basement of the inn when they saw the young woman and they described her as having long hair and she was wearing a nightgown. This same apparition was seen later by another person on the third floor. The Manor House has hauntings as well. Mike O'Reilly was running the property in the early 2000s when they were remodeling the Manor House and his cousin was doing some of the work. He was doing some carpentry one evening all by himself and he left to get some dinner. He locked up everything tight before leaving. When he returned later, he looked up and saw a woman looking down from a window. He was shocked because he couldn't figure out how someone got in the building. He ran inside, but there was no one anywhere inside. A guest staying in one of the rooms claimed to feel as if something was floating over the bed. 

The Old Mill

The Old Mill in Nantucket is located at 50 Prospect Street and was built in 1746 by a sailor named Nathan Wilbur. The style is a classic Holland-like windmill and is thought to be the oldest functioning mill in the country. There had been four mills on Nantucket and this is the only one still there. The construction of the mill is a bit murky and ownership as well. There were two men who ran the mill early on named Eliakim Swain and John Way. White sails were used to turn the shaft that made the interior gears move the granite mill-wheels. This was a grist mill and was used to grind corn. This ground corn would be used to make Indian Pudding, cornbread, cornmeal mush, Hasty Pudding and Johnny Cake. The sons of Swain and Way inherited the operation  and they ran it until 1829 when Jared Gardner bought it for $40. He repaired it and continued to run it until 1834 when he tried to sell it, but he got no takers. His heirs inherited it in 1842 when he died. The Azores are a group of islands off of Portugal. Immigrants from here would travel to Nantucket and become millers. A group of them ran the mill until 1866 when Francis Sylvia bought the mill and he owned it for 30 years until he died in 1896. Nantucket's Historical Association bought the mill at that time. They restored it several times and it still continues to grind corn today.

There is a spirit here that is believed to belong to a former mill operator. This is a protective spirit and many believe that this is Timothy Swain who died in the mill of natural causes. A worker named Ed Dougan, who ran the mill from 1977 to 1980, reported that whenever he left the helm of the mill, it would pick up speed and vibrate violently and this would cause him to come back to where he was supposed to be. The places he would wander to were dangerous, so it seems someone was trying to keep him safe. Dougan tested his theory in front of people and sure enough, the mill would pick up speed when he walked away. There was also a large gap in the mill's turning radius that workers would fill with wax. Islanders would save their candle nubs and give them to the mill. One night Dougan filled up the gap with some of these nubs and then he locked up for the night. When he returned the next morning, the wicks had been removed from the nubs and they were sitting in two neat piles. He knew he didn't do that and he was the only one with the key to the mill, so he assumed the spirit did this.

The Nantucket Cottage Hospital

The original Nantucket Cottage Hospital was founded in 1911 by Dr. John S. Grouard and Dr. Benjamin Sharp. The two men had a hard time finding a location though. As Dr. Sharp put it in 1912, "Our hope, and longings, are for the hospital. But no house turned up in the accessible parts of town which did not have a next-door neighbor who objected." In December 1912, the old Charles Este homestead on West Chester Street that had three buildings was purchased. This property was used until 1957 when a new facility was opened to accommodate the growing needs of the island. The buildings then became a couple of private residences and a condo and then apartments. It was when this was apartments that ghost stories started to be told. The spirit liked to hide items from people, especially keys. These items would disappear for a while and then reappear. The basement apartment had a lot of activity probably because it had once been the morgue. The tenants complained that it was always cold. The landlord would check the furnace and it was always working, but the chill would never leave the apartment. A tenant claimed that his watch never worked right in the apartment. It was set to beep every hour, but in the apartment it would beep at weird times like seven minutes til the hour or twelve minutes after. Outside of the apartment, it worked fine. And tenants often felt they were being watched by something they couldn't see.

Jared Coffin House

The Jared Coffin House is located at 29 Broad Street. The house was constructed in 1845 by Jared Coffin who was a very successful whaler. The mansion is three stories and made from red brick with black shutters on all the windows and a slate roof. This was the first mansion on the island. The mansion escaped the great fire that happened the next year. Mrs. Coffin wanted to live closer to Boston, so the couple wasn't in the home long. Eben W. Allen bought the house and added a three-story addition with sixteen bedrooms in 1857. The property was restored in 1961 and runs as a hotel with thirty rooms in the main building and thirteen rooms in the Daniel Webster building, located next door. Even though the Coffins left the house early on, Jared seems to have returned. He liked to rock in a chair near the fire and there is a rocking chair that reportedly rocks on its own whenever the fire is lit in the fireplace. The apparition of an elderly man is seen sitting in it too. He likes to appear in Room 223 as well.

There are other spirits here as well. Shadow people make appearances and there is the spectre of a Puritan woman. She visits the rooms of unmarried couples who are sharing a bed. She will yank the covers off the couple or just stand over the bed, glaring menacingly. Items move around on their own. And the ghost of a little girl has been seen. cljd3 wrote on TripAdvisor in 2007, "We stayed here for two nights in a family room with husband myself and 4 yr old son. Room was large pull out sofa for boy, canape bed nice linens, clean. Building we were in was from 18th century very settled sloped floors, spooky. First night my bathroom door moved a few times. I was told a tale from someone who had worked at the inn once at dinner on second night. I was scared when I got back to my room although nothing scary happened to us. We were told the room is haunted by a lady named Phoebe who was a Puritan and gets quite upset by unmarried guests. We were happily married and safe! She will pull the covers off while you sleep and then appear scowling at the foot of the bed. I was so scared I hardly slept at all clutching my covers to me (definitely did not need to hear that story after dark). My sons DVD player was playing when we came back to the room(Sleeping Beauty) she must have enjoyed the music) I was certain we had turned it off. That was the worst of it, my husband and son were fine with it we had an overall good stay." 

The Wauwinet Hotel

The Wauwinet Hotel has welcomed guests for nearly 150 years. This is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the downtown area of Nantucket. The hotel was built in 1875 by ship captains and named for the chief of the tribe that once inhabited the eastern section of the island. One of the draws of the hotel in the past and still in the present is the food. The hotel would host shore dinners serving up boiled lobster, clam chowder and decadent pastries and cost 75 cents. Dances would follow the dinners on the regular. Asa Small bought the hotel in 1882 for $1700 and added a laundry and new bathhouses.  James A. Backus managed the Wauwinet starting in the mid-1890's and then he bought it after the turn of the century and his family would own it until 1978. He added a second floor and a veranda to the front of the hotel, complete with rocking chairs. The Wauwinet Casino was built in the early 1900s, but this wasn't a place to gamble. It was a restaurant with a five-piece orchestra, and became the most popular restaurant on the island. Robert B. Bowmans became the new owner in 1978, but he didn't hold it for long, selling it the the Karp family in 1986. They did an extensive renovation and redecorated, reopening in 1988. 

The reason this hotel may be haunted is that there is a rumor it was built on an old Indian burial ground. All the regular haunts like lights flickering and doors and sinks having minds of their own happen here. But there is also the phantom smell of roses and gardenias smelled in different areas of the hotel. And one of the stranger phenomenon is the sound of running water in the lobby, but there is no fountain or other water decor in the lobby. Disembodied voices are also heard and that sometimes is in the form of echoing laughter.

Nantucket Hotel and Resort

The Nantucket Hotel and Resort opened in the summer of 1891 as the Point Breeze Hotel. It was built on Brant Point where shipbuilding had previously been the main industry. There were forty rooms and each was equipped with electric bells to ring the hotel lobby for service. An early ad for the hotel reads:

The hotel still offers live music and New England Clambakes. In 1900, the east wing was added to the building. In 1925, a fire razed the west wing and the tower. The hotel started in the Folger family and remained there in the 1930s when Gordon Folger, Jr. took over the operation. His grandfather had originally built the hotel. He renamed the hotel the Gordon Folger Hotel and added a new restaurant he called The Whale. This is today the Breeze Bar and Cafe. The Gonella family bought the hotel in the 1990s and refurbished it and changed the name back to the original. The Snider family bought the hotel and renovated it, reopening in 2012 as the Nantucket Hotel and Resort. This is the only full-service hotel on the island that is open year round. The hotel seems to have several ghosts hanging out though no one knows who they are. Full-bodied apparitions are seen in period clothing and guests claim to feel they are being watched. Disembodied voices are also heard. 

The Nantucket Whaling Museum

The Nantucket Whaling Museum is located at 15 Broad Street. William Hadwen and Nathaniel Barney partnered to open the Hadwen and Barney Oil and Candle Factory in 1847. They didn't move into the building that no houses the Whaling Museum until the following year. This is a Greek Revival industrial building and was part of a complex of buildings that produced oil and candles. The oil was used to not only light lighthouses along the Atlantic Coast, but was shipped to London and Paris to light street lamps. Whaling ended in Nantucket in 1869, so the building became a warehouse. Then an antiques store opened there. Edward F. Sanderson had collected whaling artifacts over the years and he donated the collection to the Nantucket Historical Association. They bought the former factory in 1929 to display the collection and in 1930, the Whaling Museum opened. A woman visiting the museum had a weird experience. She was looking at a portrait hanging on one of the walls and she became mesmerized by the image of a man in the portrait. Her sister said it was like the woman was in a trance. She had to physically shake her to get her attention again. The woman told her sister that she felt as though she knew the man, perhaps in a previous life. She later found out that there was a strange story connected to the picture. The man had claimed to be in love with a mermaid. BTW, the museum has holographic spirits that share about the history of the island and whaling. 

The Hadwen House

The Nantucket Historical Association also manages the Hadwen House located at 96 Main Street. This was built by William Hadwen and is a gorgeous white Greek Revival style mansion. The mansion was built in 1846 by local builder Frederick Brown Coleman. Coleman was known for his intricate carvings and pillar designs and this is on display at the Hadwen House. The facade of the house has four colossal pilasters rising the two-and-a-half stories of the clapboard house. These are part of the pedimented ionic portico. The mansion was eventually owned by Jean Satler Williams and he gave it to the Nantucket Historical Association in 1963. In 1964, the Hadwen House was opened to the public as a house museum. People can tour the house and see period furniture, some of which had belonged to the Hadwens. The silverware on display is also original to the house. And the former owners still seem to love their silverware. In 2018, janwilson515 wrote on TripAdvisor, "From what I hear the Hadwens had many parties and dinners at this house (you can see the original china on display) and the interns who sleep upstairs often hear dishes and glasses clinking, chairs being moved, and laughter and chatter, but when they come downstairs of course it is dark and quiet, no one is there."

Ships Inn

Obed Starbuck was a very successful whaling captain and he built the Ships Inn that sits at 13 Fair Street in 1831. Starbuck inspired a main character in Moby Dick, the first mate. And yes, this is where Starbuck's gets its name too. The rooms in the inn are named after the ships in Starbuck's fleet. Fun Fact: One of the rooms was named Spermo, but that had to be changed since too many keys with the name went missing. Everybody needs a naughty souvenir, right? The inn was recently restored and offers ten rooms with private baths. There is also a restaurant at the inn. Ellie Gottwald is the owner of the inn with her husband Mark. She is better known as actress Ellie Cornell and played Rachel Carruthers in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers. And that seems fitting since the inn is said to be haunted. There are stories that a couple of ghosts haunt the property. Obed Starbuck is thought to be one of the spirits. He is known to walk around the hallways at night. Ellie says the Captain likes to gaze out the front window towards the sea. She has seen him. She said, "I saw him once. It was late one night when I was painting upstairs. He went through one closed door then right through the wall to the next room."

Sherburne Inn

The Sherburne Inn had originally been the Silk Factory. Silk was a big commodity in the mid-1830s. William H. Gardner, William Coffin and Samuel B. Tuck got together to create the Atlantic Silk Company and they built a massive building on Academy Hill. The company had one of only two power looms in the whole world. They planted White Mulberry Trees, which were needed for feeding the silkworms, but the soil of the island is sandy and the trees didn't thrive. By 1844, the silk business was done in Nantucket. The east side of the building was converted into a guesthouse, which is today the Sherburne Inn. This is of Greek Revival style. The inn passed through many hands and is now in the hands of TPG Hotel, Resorts and Marinas.  The inn offers eight guest rooms. 

A couple of the owners were Susan Gasparich and Dale Hamilton. They had bought the inn in 1994 and the previous owner told them the inn was haunted. This owner had seen the apparition of a woman wearing a white Victorian dress with long red hair. Soon, weird things started happening to Susan and Dale. A guest told Susan one morning that she had been awakened at 2am and that she saw a misty, cloud-like figure moving through the room. She had thought it was a dream until her husband told her that he woke up at the same time and saw it as well. Another guest was locked out on his balcony and he had to yell for help. The ghost gives off a feeling of peace, but can be a bit of a prankster. One prank happened to a couple staying in Room 5. They heard the sound of fingernails scratching down the wall above the headboard. This happened over and over, starting at the top of the wall and scratching downward. The couple just threw the blanket over their heads and tried to sleep, hoping nothing would appear. A resident who had lived in the building in 1978 claimed that she heard knocking on her apartment door, but no one was there. She also saw the apparition of the woman and often felt as though she were being watched.

Nantucket Unitarian Church

The Nantucket Unitarian Church was once known as South Church on Orange Street. This had originally been the Second Congregational Meeting House Society and their building was constructed in 1809. This is a very distinctive building with a large bell tower capped with a gold dome. The bell was cast in Lisbon, Portugal and brought over in 1812. The first town clock was added to the tower in 1823 and was electrified in 1957. The Goodrich organ was added in 1831 and is the oldest American-built organ still in use. The church is officially known today as the Second Congregational Meeting House Society, Unitarian Universalist. Quite the mouthful. The first minister here was Seth Freeman Swift. He served from 1810 to 1833 and during his tenure, the congregation considered themselves Congregationalists. After he passed away, the people voted to be Unitarians. This may have set Seth off because he is haunting the heck out of this church. 

His apparition has been seen many times and people recognize him because a portrait of him hangs in the church and reveals his long, lean face, square chin, spectacles and auburn hair. Fuddy Van Arsdale was a former sexton and she was alone in the church cleaning one evening. She suddenly heard heavy footsteps coming towards her, but she didn't see anybody. Fuddy started whispering a hymn to herself to ease her nerves and the footsteps stopped. She didn't hear them retreat, so she was still unnerved. She had heard stories that Seth Swift haunted the place. Now she was a believer. After that evening, she always say "Hi" to Seth whenever she entered the church and he never snuck up on her again. Bob Lehman was a member of the church and he told the Pelican Pub, "I’ve heard all about Seth. The old sextons told stories about being here at night, and they’d hear people walking upstairs, but when they’d check, they couldn’t find anyone. Seth is an old ghost, you know. He doesn’t approve of everything we do. I have not run into him, but then, I’m afraid of the dark, so I don’t come here at night. Seth is everywhere; he has taken on a life of his own."

Seth has a habit of banging on the vestry windows, but he will stop when people yell out for him to do so. One day, some boys were being rambunctious in the upper part of the church. The custodian heard them tear don the stairs and go out the door, slamming it behind themselves. It was icy cold outside, so he thought it was weird that they would leave the warmth of the church. they soon returned because of the chill and tapped on the window to be let in. The custodian was perturbed because he had just let them in not long before this, so he demanded to know why they left if they were only going to bother him to be let back in again. The boys answered, "We were scared. A man jumped out from behind the
pulpit and chased us. He didn’t want us there." The custodian assumed it was Seth because he was the only man in the church. Seth may not be the only spirit here. Susan Jarrell was the music director from the late 1970s through the early 1980s. She said, "I was sitting at the organ practicing one Sunday morning before service, and two soldiers marched in wearing Revolutionary War garb—red pants, swords, black hats." Despite the scare, Jarrell continued to practice playing and the ghosts left.

Imagine the New England Clambakes and lobster boils that took place here. The scent of the sea breeze enveloping you as you relax in a chair on the lawn. Perhaps a boat or two has taken to the water. Nantucket sounds like a dreamy place to visit, especially back during the Victorian era. So much from that time still seems to permeate the island. Have spirits continued to stay on here? Are these locations in Nantucket haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:

Thursday, March 24, 2022

HGB Ep. 428 - Haunted Cemeteries 22

This episode sponsored by Best Fiends! Download Best Fiends FREE today on the App Store or Google Play!

Moment in Oddity - Jack Daniels Dies From Stubbed Toe (Suggested by: John Michaels)

Jasper Newton Daniel was an American distiller and businessman. He was known to everybody as Jack. So yeah, he was THAT Jack Daniel. He founded Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey Distillery in Lynchburg in 1875. Jack reportedly learned how to work a still from a preacher or possibly the slave of that preacher who was named Nearest Green. He was good at distilling, but not very good at remembering combinations. At least, the combination to the safe in his office. Legend claims that he became so frustrated one day that he kicked the safe hard and injured his toe. That toe festered and became infected and then got gangrene, which traveled further up his leg leading to it needing to be amputated. That didn't stop the gangrene and it traveled further causing blood poisoning. This would kill him on October 9, 1911. So basically, Jack died from a stubbed toe and as if that isn't odd enough, he died from an infection, for which alcohol can be an antiseptic and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - "Oklahoma" Debuts on Broadway

In the month of March, on the 31st, in 1943, "Oklahoma" premiered on Broadway. The musical started with the name Away We Go and was predicted to be a huge flop. Gossip columnist Walter Winchell said, "No girls. No legs. No chance." The show was also going to take risks like not having a big name star, the source material was obscure and this was being helmed by the new duo of Rodgers and Hammerstein. There would not be much spectacle and the show opened with a lone cowboy singing about meadows. The show debuted under the new title Oklahoma and had been slightly retooled. The solo performance of the song "Oklahoma" was changed to a full-cast showstopper. The musical set a Broadway record of 2,212 performances before closing after a five year run. That song that the cowboy sung to open the show is known by nearly everybody today, "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'."

Haunted Cemeteries 22

Every life is worth remembering. And that is what cemeteries are all about. Remembering those who have lived. Some of those people in graveyards were famous, some were powerful, but most are just like us. A mom or dad, sister or brother or perhaps a friend. Some of those who are buried have chosen to stay with their bodies. Their spirits glide through the tombstones. Other haunting activity in cemeteries seems to feed off the legends told or the rituals held. Join us on Haunted Cemeteries 22 as we share haunted cemeteries in Indiana, Mississippi, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania! 

Crown Hill Cemetery (Suggested by: Ed Jones)

Indianapolis' first cemetery was Greenlawn Cemetery, but the amount of death that accompanied the Civil War made it necessary to create more burial ground. Crown Hill Cemetery was the answer. It was established in 1863 by a group of businessmen who formed the Association of Crown Hill. They met with landscape architect and cemetery superintendent John Chislett, Sr. to discuss the creation of a garden-like cemetery. These garden cemeteries were growing in popularity during the Victorian era as we and our listeners all know well. The association bought a 166-acre farm and tree nursery at Strawberry Hill, which overlooked the city. Chislett's son, Frederick, was hired as the first superintendent for Crown Hill and he would made sure that his father's plans were followed. This design used many of the natural features already on the land and the roads were laid out in winding curves. The cemetery was dedicated on June 1, 1864.

Lucy Ann Seaton was the first burial. She had died of consumption at the age of thirty-three. She would be joined by more than 700 Union soldiers who died in Indianapolis during the Civil War and had originally been buried in Greenlawn Cemetery. And Lucy would also be joined by her daughter who shared the name Lucy. She died four months after her mother. The first Memorial Day was observed on May 30, 1868 and Crown Hill took part with around 10,000 people attending a special ceremony. That number wasn't surprising because Crown Hill Cemetery had become a popular place for families to hang out. They enjoyed picnics and walks through the park-like setting and the cemetery quickly added more to enjoy, building a Gothic chapel and vault in 1875, a new three-arched gateway in 1885 and a new gate and gatehouse in 1900. More land was added as well and by 1911 Crown Hill covered 550 acres making it the third largest nongovernmental cemetery in the United States.

The cemetery association decided they wanted to add something special in 1912. Indianapolis' pioneers were buried in Greenlawn Cemetery and they wanted to bring them here, so they established Crown Hill's Pioneer Cemetery and moved the bodies of 1,160 early settlers. This area is bordered by a black metal fence. The Confederate Mound was created in 1933 and over 1,600 Confederate burials were moved here. The Community Mausoleum was dedicated in 1951 and a series of Garden Mausoleums that were outdoors was completed in 1962. To help with preservation at the cemetery, The Crown Hill Heritage Foundation was established in 1984. A new crematorium and mortuary were added in the 1990s.

Famous burials here include President Benjamin Harrison. There is a Harrison family plot that includes his first wife Caroline, who died while Harrison was President, and their son Russell. Their daughter Mary is buried nearby. She served as First Lady while her mother was ill. Caroline died during the re-election campaign that Harrison lost. Booth Tarkington was a well-known novelist and playwright in the early 1900s and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, twice. He is buried in a mausoleum in lot thirteen. Writer James Whitcomb Riley was the richest writer of his time and when he passed away in 1916, he was buried here. He has a large Greek Revival monument that includes ten white columns and a sculpture of a young boy reading a book. The chemist and founder of Eli Lilly and Company, Colonel Eli Lilly, is buried here in an ornate mausoleum. He was inspired to found the company after his young wife died from malaria. And Richard Jordan Gatling, founder of the Gatling Gun Company, is buried in section three, lot nine. He created the Gatling Gun, which was popular during the Civil War. This gun had six barrels on a revolving frame and was powered by a hand crank. This gun could shoot twelve hundred rounds per minute. The more portable machine gun would make it obsolete.

And the infamous gangster and bank robber John Dillinger has his final resting place here. Maybe. There are doubts that the body buried in Dillinger's space is really him, but attempts to have him disinterred have failed. Family members and others believe there are inconsistencies in the autopsy including eye color, fingerprints, the shape of the head and ears. The grave is in section forty-four, lot ninety-four. Riots nearly broke out on the day he was buried in the cemetery on July 26, 1934. This was four days after he was shot outside of the Biograph Theater in Chicago. Souvenir hunters started breaking off chunk of his tombstone and over the years the stone has been replaced several times. The family eventually covered his plot with concrete to be sure no one actually stole the body.
There are spirits here and we'll start in one of the most poignant spots in the cemetery. This is Section 37, which is a memorial for children that died while at the Indianapolis Children’s Asylum, the Children’s Guardians Home and the Asylum for Friendless Colored Children. These children died between the years 1892 and 1980 from neglect, starvation and disease. And some even died because formaldehyde was added to milk to kill any pathogenic microorganisms. This is a mass grave numbering 699 children. Indy Ghost Hunters investigated the cemetery and they focused on Section 37. They caught several EVP. A couple were humming, another said "help her" and another said "they think it's me." This makes sense because there are claims of people hearing the playing of children and disembodied humming. Unfortunately, there are sometimes screams also heard.

Visitors to the graveyard have also seen the apparition of a woman holding a baby and wandering around the graves. People wonder if she is lost nor looking for something. She vanishes after being seen. The ghost of soldiers in uniforms are also seen and it is said that these spirits are from all of the wars. They disappear after being seen as well. Unexplainable lights are seen in the cemetery too and disembodied footsteps are heard. And there is a version of the Resurrection Mary story connected to Crown Hill. This one goes the opposite way though. This hitchhiking ghost gets picked up at the cemetery and gives an address to be taken to, but disappears before arriving. Then if the driver goes to the door, they find out that she has passed away or no one at the address knows the girl.

Cedar Rest

Bay St. Louis on the Mississippi Gulf Coast was once called Shieldsborough and located on South Second Street is a very old cemetery known as Cedar Rest. The cemetery was founded in 1820, but the oldest burial dates to 1815. There are around 2,400 graves here. We thought this was a fun story. The Sea Coast Gazette was a local Victorian era paper and it reported that a J. B. I and his wife were buried in a crypt with a spire that was facing west across from the bathtub. We of course wondered what the bathtub was and apparently that was what people called a watering trough for horses that sat in front of the first courthouse in Bay St. Louis. In 1993, the Hancock County Historical Society started an annual cemetery tour at Halloween.

Bud Steed shares a chilling story in his book "Haunted Mississippi Gulf Coast." Some hippies were hanging out in the cemetery smoking some pot in the 1970s. Their group was suddenly joined by another man that nobody knew, but they weren't against joiners. The group grew uncomfortable though because the man just gave off a menacing stare. He was kneeling and had mutton chop sideburns and a long scar that ran down the left side of his face. One of the guys finally told him to get lost, but the stranger just kept staring. The guy then reached out to push him away from the group and his hand went right through the stranger. This was clearly a ghost and the group tore out of the cemetery, except for the young man who had challenged the ghost. The spirit had grabbed him by the shoulders, told him to get out of his house and threw him to the ground. The ghost then turned and faded away. Now we would normally be like, well they were high so of course they saw a ghost, but this particular apparition has been seen many times in the cemetery. There are also strange orbs of light seen dancing among the tombstones and the spirit of a young woman holding a parasol has been seen. She usually nods at whoever sees her, turns into the cemetery and disappears.

Rock and Roll Graveyard

The Rock & Roll Cemetery is also known as the William Seymour Cemetery and is located in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. This small private graveyard is located near Back Bay and Fort Bayou. The cemetery probably earned its name from its most famous haunting. An elderly woman is seen rocking in a rocking chair. There are strange sounds heard like growling and moaning and shadow figures have been seen. Sam Seymour has explained that this is his family's cemetery. He said, "I know a lot of history to the place and even have the keys to the gate. I believe the old woman that everyone sees is my great grandmother Ada...her grave is located 4 graves down on the right of the tree. I can remember her sitting on the porch in her rocking chair every evening."

Anonymous, "Hi,my name is Kim and I am 27 years old I have lived in Mississippi for 21 years. In high school my friends and I, looking for a cheap thrill, would hop in the car and drive to rock-n-roll graveyard. I can honestly say that I have never seen anything in the graveyard but have heard things. One night my friends and I went there and on the way in something dragged over the top of our car, we were so scared that we immediately decided to leave. On the way out something ran across the road in front of our car that looked like a big blob of water or something,I still to this day don't know what it was. I still live 10 minutes from it. My in-laws own property on Ft.Bayou Rd. I have not been there since then I pass there often and will not look down that road."

Swan Point Cemetery

Swan Point Cemetery is located in Providence, Rhode Island and was founded in 1846. But that isn't when people started to be buried here. The oldest section of the cemetery can be found overlooking the Seekonk River and there are burials here dating back to 1722. This is a garden cemetery that started on 60 acres, but now covers 200 acres. There are beautiful flowering shrubs, azaleas, magnolias, rhododendrons, daffodils and much more. Two hundred varieties of trees have been counted here. The gorgeous landscaping is complimented with Victorian statuary. The First Congregational Society were among the first to buy plots and they transferred their dead from West Burial Ground to this new graveyard. In 1886, landscape architect H.W.S. Cleveland was hired to layout plans for Blackstone Boulevard. Boulders from the property were gathered and used to build a boulder wall to border the cemetery. A new cemetery entrance was constructed as well. The greenhouse was added in 1917 and other buildings were added in 1923 and 1932. In 1933, the Alexander Farnum Lippitt Memorial Park was established.

Notable burials here include 23 former governors of Rhode Island and Major Sullivan Ballou. Major Ballou had been a successful attorney in Providence, Rhode Island when the Civil War started. He had also been a former Speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives. He volunteered and was enlisted in the 2nd Rhode Island Infantry and they elected him major. He was wounded and died at the First Battle of Bull Run. His body was disinterred by Confederates who thought he was Colonel John Slocum and they desecrated the body and dumped it in a ravine. He was found later by a contingent of Rhode Island officials, including Governor William Sprague. They identified the body by tattered remnants of his uniform. His body was transported back to Rhode Island and buried here at Swan Point. He had written a final letter to his wife that became famous. It reads, "My Very Dear Wife: Indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days, perhaps to-morrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write a few lines, that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more. Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. Not my will, but thine, O God be done. If it is necessary that I should fall on the battle-field for any country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American civilization now leans upon the triumph of government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution, and I am willing, perfectly willing to lay down all my joys in this life to help maintain this government, and to pay that debt.

But, my dear wife, when I know, that with my own joys, I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with care and sorrows, when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it, as their only sustenance, to my dear little children, is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country. I cannot describe to you my feelings on this calm summer night, when two thousand men are sleeping around me, many of them enjoying the last, perhaps, before that of death, and I, suspicious that Death is creeping behind me with his fatal dart, am communing with God, my country and thee. I have sought most closely and diligently, and often in my breast, for a wrong motive in this hazarding the happiness of those I loved, and I could not find one. A pure love of my country, and of the principles I have often advocated before the people, and "the name of honor, that I love more than I fear death," have called upon me, and I have obeyed. Sarah, my love for you is deathless. It seems to bind me with mighty cables, that nothing but Omnipotence can break; and yet, my love of country comes over me like a strong wind, and bears me irresistibly on with all those chains, to the battlefield. The memories of all the blissful moments I have spent with you come crowding over me, and I feel most deeply grateful to God and you, that I have enjoyed them so long. And how hard it is for me to give them up, and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when, God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our boys grow up to honorable manhood around us.

I know I have but few claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me, perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar, that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, nor that, when my last breath escapes me on the battle-field, it will whisper your name. Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless, how foolish I have oftentimes been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears, every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortune of this world, to shield you and my children from harm. But I cannot, I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more. But, O Sarah, if the dead can come back to this earth, and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you in the garish day, and the darkest night amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours always, always, and, if the soft breeze fans your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air cools your throbbing temples, it shall be my spirit passing by. Sarah, do not mourn me dear; think I am gone, and wait for me, for we shall meet again. As for my little boys, they will grow as I have done, and never know a father's love and care. Little Willie is too young to remember me long, and my blue-eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the dimmest memories of his childhood. Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care, and your development of their characters. Tell my two mothers, I call God's blessing upon them. O Sarah, I wait for you there! Come to me, and lead thither my children." This letter was featured in Ken Burn's Civil War documentary.

And Howard Phillips Lovecraft, more well known as H.P. Lovecraft, is buried here at the intersection of Pond Avenue and Avenue B. Fans took up a collection in 1977 to place the gravestone here. This is a low gray granite tombstone which reads, "I am Providence." That is a line from one of his letters. Lovecraft joins the ranks of many historical figures that have done great things with their art or service to humanity, but that have problematic personal lives and bigotry. We have found that we often have to separate the art from the maker. We love the stories of Lovecraft and the world that he built for so many of his famous characters like Cthulhu. He had a very small readership during his lifetime, which is surprising considering his popularity today. He was born in Providence, Rhode Island on August 20, 1890. He was raised mostly by his mother and her sisters after his father died when he was relatively young. He was often ill and as a teenager, he and his mother had financial issues. He used writing to escape his circumstances. This didn't prevent him from having a nervous breakdown that prevented him from graduating from high school. He launched his career in weird fiction with "The Tomb" and "Dagon," both published in 1917. Lovecraft married Sonia Green in 1924 and they had a short and difficult marriage, divorcing in 1929. Only one of his works appeared in book form during his lifetime, "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" in 1936. His life was cut short at the age of 46 by intestinal cancer on March 15, 1937.

One of the reasons we may have spirits at unrest here is that this cemetery inherited a lot of burials from other cemeteries. But the main haunting here is connected to Lovecraft. Annual gatherings are held around his death date and this is when the activity increases. Murders of ravens are said to gather in the trees near his tombstone. There are unexplained noises and there was once a brief freak snowstorm that occurred during a gathering. And Lovecraft's spectre is said to appear as a strange, cloudy distortion. 

Laurel Hill Cemetery

Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was founded in 1836 and covers 78 acres. This is the second oldest garden cemetery in the United States. The cemetery sits above the Schuykill River and the initial founder of the cemetery was John Jay Smith and several partners. Smith was a Quaker and librarian and he realized the Friends Graveyard was not going to work for the growing city. The men found a rural area outside of Philly for the cemetery and it started as 38 acres. Scottish architect John Notman laid out the design. Notman wanted this to be a place of nature and art and he created a Doric Roman Gatehouse, chapel and superintendent's house as the first buildings. John Smith had planted 2,400 trees by 1844. By the 1860s, the cemetery became so popular that tickets had to be issued to control how many people visited. People would come for walks and picnics or just to drive the carriage through.

Over the years many monuments and statuary were added to the cemetery in the Egyptian Revival, Classical Revival and Gothic Revival styles. The oldest statues at Laurel Hill are the three that makeup the Old Mortality, which is located directly in front of the main gatehouse. There is also a Yellow Fever Memorial that was erected in 1855 and this was dedicated to the first responders who helped fight the Yellow Fever epidemic in Portsmouth, Virginia. Several historic cities that we have featured have had streets with old mansions that are known as Millionaire's Row. Laurel Hill has a grouping of mausoleums that is referred to as Millionaire's Row. One of the coolest memorials belongs to the William Warner family. It features the Angel of Death as a stern looking woman with a gown slipping down one of her shoulders and she is opening the granite sarcophagus behind her as though she is releasing the soul trapped inside. This soul appears as a winged face rising from the open tomb in a flame made of stone.

In 1913, a Doric terra cotta receiving vault was built in South Laurel Hill. During the 1970s, Laurel Hill fell into a bit of disrepair and suffered vandalism. It wouldn't be until 1973 that people of color were allowed to be buried here. The Friends of Laurel Hill Cemetery oversee the care of the burials. In 2013, a bronze statue of a Civil War soldier that was made in 1883 and used to be at Mount Moriah Cemetery was brought here and rededicated. More than 75,000 people are buried at Laurel Hill and burials continue today. Some of these burials are of notable and prominent people, including 40 Civil War-era generals, that includes General George Meade.

Matthias W. Baldwin was the founder of the Baldwin Locomotive Works, which became one of the largest and most successful locomotive manufacturing firms. He has a statue in front of the Philadelphia City Hall and his monument at Laurel Hill stands tall over his and his wife Sarah's graves. Sarah Josepha Hale was an American writer and she wrote the nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb." She also was known for campaigning for the holiday of Thanksgiving to be created and she pushed for the Bunker Hill Monument to be built. She died at the age of 90 and has a very simple tombstone that contains only her name and birthdate and death date.

Six passengers from the Titanic are memorialized here. William Crothers Dulles died and his body was recovered. His marker states he "Died from Titanic," which is a little odd. Mrs. Lily A. Potter survived the sinking and lived to be 98 and helped found the Southeastern Pennsylvania chapter of the American Red Cross. Mrs. Olive Potter Colius was Lily's daughter and she survived as well. Mrs. Eleanor Elkins Widener survived the tragedy because she had boarded the last lifeboat to leave the Titanic. She left behind her husband and son and they both perished. Her husband George Dunton Widener was never recovered, so he has a cenotaph in the cemetery as does their son Harry who was also never recovered. His mother founded the Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library at Harvard in her son's honor and legend claims that she made this contribution on condition that every Harvard graduate be taught to swim. 

Oscar Allis who invented the Allis Clamp is buried here. The Allis clamp are those scissor like clamps used to hold tissue with these sharp teeth. Anne Francine was an actress and cabaret singer in places like the Copacabana. She performed on Broadway, starring in Mame with Angela Lansbury and on television she played the role of villain Flora Simpson Reilly on Harper Valley PTA. And speaking of villains, she starred as the Evil Queen in the 1979 musical adaptation of the 1937 animated film "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." She's buried on Millionaire Row in Michael Ehret's mausoleum. Circus owner Adam Forepaugh is also buried here. Elisha Kent Kane was a prominent explorer of the Arctic in the 1850s. He was the first to chart the course that Robert Peary would use when he claimed the North Pole in 1909. Kane's body was shipped around America for two weeks before he was buried because he was so revered. Historian Henry Charles Lea has a bronze sculpture of the muse of history, Clio, sitting on his tomb.

Fun fact: Adrian Balboa and Paulie Pennino, fictional characters from Sylvester Stallone's Rocky movies, have tombstones sitting near the main gatehouse. Adrian Balboa's tombstone was used in the 2006 movie Rocky Balboa and both headstones were used in the 2015 movie Creed. And speaking of movies, a man named Charles Vansant was buried here. He was the first to die from a shark attack in a series of attacks that took place on the Jersey shore in 1916. His story was immortalized in the movie "Jaws."

There are some interesting stories connected to some of the burials as well. One of these belongs to Dr. Ellwood Kirby. He not only practiced medicine, but taught it and he offered care to anyone, regardless of their financial standing. When he died from a heart attack on Christmas in 1935, he left behind a small fortune to his family. But rumors circulated that he had been buried with much of his riches, including precious stones and jewelry. Some vandals  broke into the Kirby family mausoleum and pried open Ellwood's grave. They found no riches, but they stripped the corpse naked and stole a pair of $10 cuff links. Kirby was redressed and given a new casket.

Catherine Drinkhouse-Smith and her family were Spiritualists. Catherine considered herself a medium. The final resting place of the family is just south of the gatehouse and is probably one of the most wordy monuments ever created. The writing features favorite quotes, street addresses, religious affiliations and the exact times of death. Martha Drinnan was the daughter of Laurel Hill's caretaker when she died in 1903. She was considered a spinster at the age of 39 and went missing in November of that year. She had been heading towards the Laurel Hill train station and was last seen walking along Kelly Drive. Her body wouldn't be found until March of 1904. A fisherman hauled in Martha's headless body. She was buried with no marker because her family couldn't afford one. And a Civil War veteran named Maurice Fagan took his own life at his family's burial plot, unable to deal with the migraines and the PTSD he suffered from. 

Free Spirit Paranormal Investigators regularly investigate the cemetery and help guide tours and hunts there. Frank Cassidy is a member of FSPI and he said that he has experienced enough unexplained stuff here to claim that the cemetery is very active. The group has captured moans, groans and whispers. And they claim to have seen shadow figures and indistinct shapes moving around headstones.

Disembodied whispers are heard near the area where Martha Drinnan was buried. There is also wailing heard and this continued even after a headstone was placed on her grave. A group in 2018 heard audible whispers at Fagan's family plot. The sounds of gunshots are also sometimes heard. NapoleonicCode on YouTube attended one of the hunts offered in 2011 and they were near Dr. Moray's mausoleum and said, "Paging Dr. Moray. Are you here?" Behind this is an audible sound that resembles something like a scream. (Laurel Hill Scream) (Laurel Hill Scream Amped) An electronic device also went off at another plot for about 20 seconds. One of the investigators named Gina claimed that she was knocked down by something she couldn't see. She felt the pressure on her chest before she fell back. 

These five cemeteries are historic and beautiful. We would love to visit any of them because every graveyard is special. These are places filled with people who were cared for by someone at sometime. From the children that fill the nurseries to the wives and husbands to murder victims to the downtrodden to the most prominent people in a city, all were special to someone. Do some of their spirits linger? Are these cemeteries haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:

Thursday, March 17, 2022

HGB Ep. 427 - The Village of Rugby

Moment in Oddity - The Valley of Headless Men

Canada has its own version of the Grand Canyon. This is called the Nahanni Valley named for the river that runs through it. The valley is filled with deep canyons and beautiful trails. The water features whitewater rapids and hot springs. The area is accessible only by foot or plane or boat. This is all nice, but what really interests us about Nahanni Valley is that it is nicknamed the Valley of Headless Men and for good reason. Brothers Willie and Frank McLeod set off on a quest for gold in 1908 in the valley. Their bodies were found two years later on the banks of the river. They had been murdered and decapitated. Their heads were never found. Martin Jorgenson met the same fate nine years later. He too was looking for gold and sent word home he had found it, but he never brought any home because his cabin burned down and his remains were found in the ashes. His body was missing the head. In 1945, a nameless miner from Ontario was found dead in his sleeping bag, also missing his head. The Nahanni Valley is thought to be a sacred place. For these men, it was a deadly place. Who killed them and why their heads were taken has remained a mystery and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Judge Roy Bean Dies

In the month of March, on the 16th, in 1903, Judge Roy Bean Died. Roy Bean was born in Kentucky in the 1820s and he spent much of his life in trouble. Much of this trouble entailed shooting people. First, there was the guy he shot in a Mexican bar. Bean ran away to San Diego where he ended up shooting another man during a quarrel. He made his way to Los Angeles where he killed a Mexican officer in a duel over a woman. The officer's friends hanged Bean, but the rope wasn't set quite right and he lived long enough for the woman he was fighting over to cut him down. Next, he was off to Texas where he actually stopped his life of crime and became a successful businessman. In 1882, he built a saloon in Southwest Texas that he named The Jersey Lilly in a town he founded named Langtry, both inspired by the actress Lillie Langtry. Bean had seen the actress in a magazine and he liked her. At that same time, he became a justice of the peace and he dealt out some humorous and bizarre rulings as "The Only Law West of the Pecos." He fined a dead man $40 for carrying a concealed weapon and threatened to hang people for using profane language. He chose jurors from his best bar patrons and they were expected to buy drinks when in recess. He ended every wedding he officiated with "and may God have mercy on your souls." He died at the age of 77 after a bout of heavy drinking.

Village of Rugby (Suggested by: Tammie Burroughs)

A British author founded the village of Rugby in the beautiful Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee. This was meant to be a utopia and for a time, it really was. Large Victorian buildings were constructed, social clubs were founded, lawn tennis was played and the library was stocked full of books and became the pride of the colony. Then it all ended amid financial issues, epidemics and fires. The village was revitalized in the 1960s and is a place tourists can visit for a time capsule into the Victorian era. And several locations in Rugby are reputedly haunted. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of Rugby, Tennessee!

British author Thomas Hughes was a social reformer with a vision. Hughes was born in Uffington, Berkshire in 1822. He became a lawyer and part of the Queen's Counsel and supported many Christian Socialist issues. The social reformer was later elected as an MP to Parliament. In 1857, his most famous work, Tom Brown's School Days, was published. This novel was semi-autobiographical and set at Rugby School, which is where Hughes had gone to school. He must have liked the name because he chose that name for a settlement he founded in the American state of Tennessee. This settlement would be his attempt to build a model village.

One piece of reform that Hughes championed was doing away with primogeniture. This was the practice of the eldest son inheriting everything when his parents died. There was an organization in Boston called the Board of Aid to Land Ownership, which helped unemployed urban craftsmen start over in rural locations. Hughes heard about the group's work and he thought the same kind of idea could work for Britain's second sons. Thomas Hughes encouraged many of the younger sons of British families to immigrate to America and find success through building his agricultural community. This would work as a cooperative enterprise. The site for Rugby was chosen because the Cincinnati-Southern Railroad had completed a line through this area of the Cumberland Plateau to Chattanooga. Hughes dedicated the Rugby Colony on October 5, 1880. 

A man named Franklin W. Smith laid out an early plan for Rugby. The first frame structure built was known as the Asylum. Several other homes were built as well as a three-story inn named the Tabard Inn in the first year. Croquet courts and lawn tennis courts were built and a walkway dubbed "The Meeting of the Waters" was laid out. The sell of alcohol was banned and all colonists were required to invest $5 in the commissary. A church was built primarily for the Episcopal Church, but any denomination was allowed to gather there. Literary societies and drama clubs were founded and the Thomas Hughes Public Library was opened with thousands of tomes to peruse. Over the next couple of years, stables were built as well as sawmills, a drug store, a general store, a butcher shop, a dairy and many more Victorian homes. Three hundreds people called Rugby home and they enjoyed their culturally refined lives in a beautiful wooded setting. 

Sounded like bliss, but there were many problems that would beset what was supposed to be a utopia of Christian socialism. Those English second sons didn't know much about manual labor or farming. The soil of the Cumberland Plateau was not good for growing crops either. In 1881, typhoid came calling and surged through the village. Shortly after that, fighting over land titles led to lawsuits. The Tabard Inn burned down in 1884. Another hotel was built on the spot, but it would burn down in 1899. Soon the earliest colonists started leaving for greener pastures. Many would think that Hughes would be depressed with what was happening to his vision, especially after pouring $75,000 into it, but he remained hopeful writing in 1896, "I can’t help feeling and believing that good seed was sown when Rugby was founded and someday the reapers, whoever they may be, will come along with joy bearing heavy sheaves with them."

The village was never completely abandoned, but the population dwindled considerably. Most residents from the turn of the century to the 1960s were descendants of the original colonists. There were some Appalachian families too. By the 1960s, Rugby was in a sad state with many of the Victorian buildings in disrepair. Some had burned down and others had been demolished. A young man named Brian Stagg visited the village and he saw a future for it that didn't include complete demolition. He wanted to bring it back. In 1966, Stagg started the Rugby Restoration Association and he and several locals started the work of restoring the community. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers worked on a Master Plan for Rugby that would make it the southern gateway for a new park. This would be The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. Stagg was able to get Rugby village on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and its known as the Rugby Colony Historic District.

The organization changed its name in 1982 to Historic Rugby with Brian's sister, Barbara Stagg, now at the helm. She and her husband, John Gilliat served as property managers and spent 32 years getting a spotlight on the village and updating by building a new visitor's center and theater and founding Beacon Hill, which is a housing development. Much of the acerage around the village has been protected because of Barbara and her nephew Michael's work and they built the Massengale Homeplace and Trail in the Rugby State Natural Area in 2010. Barbara retired and the Board of Directors now handles the work of restoration and special events. There are many sites to check out. The visitor center is Rugby's restored schoolhouse and features a century of the village's history. There is the Thomas Hughes Free Public Library, Thomas Hughes' home, Christ Church Episcopal with its original hanging lamps that were converted to electric, stain-glassed windows and 1849 rosewood organ, Laurel Dale Cemetery, the Rugby Commissary where one can find handmade crafts and books, the Harrow Road Cafe, the Pioneer Cottage and 6-bedroom Newbury House Bed & Breakfast. And there seems to be spirits who have decided to continue on in Rugby in the Afterlife. Here are a few of the haunted locations in the village.  

Kingston Lisle Inn

The Kingston Lisle Inn was the Queen Anne Gothic style two-story home of Thomas Hughes. The home is surrounded by a white picket fence and has a stone path leading to the front porch. The name comes from the village of Kingston Lisle in the Vale of White Horse in Britain. Hughes might still be in the home. People report hearing disembodied snoring and the ghost likes to pull the blankets off of guests.

The Rugby Library

The Thomas Hughes Library was built in 1882 and is a quaint little Victorian with a small steeple in the middle of the roof. The books that were brought over from Britain can still be found in the library and people believe that the curator is still hanging around to watch over those books. All the books are dated to pre-1900, with the earliest dating back to 1600s. There is also a story about a ghost dog that haunts the library.

Spirit of Red Hill Nature Art & Oddiments

Artisans Donna Heffner and Annie Patterson own the Spirit of Red Hill, which is a shop that features artwork, antiques and fine crafts. There is also a room for rent called the Bensted Bedstead. The site was originally home to the Alexander-Perrigo House, which has been rebuilt here. That original structure was a boarding house first run by the Samuel Alexander family in the 1890s. The next proprietor of the boarding house was Winfield Scott Perrigo and his wife Ora. There is a spirit that haunts the location. A guest had come down after spending the night and claimed that she had a strange dream. A priest was in the dream and he was teaching the guest how to play cricket. Patterson took the guest into another room and showed her a picture of a priest who had lived in Rugby. The guest immediately recognized the man as the priest in her dream.

Roslyn House

The Roslyn House was built in 1886 by Montgomerie Boyle who was related to the seventh Earl of Glasgow. He rented the home to a Mrs. Richard Tyson of Baltimore, who brought her son, Jesse, and daughter, Sophia, to Rugby with her. Mrs. Tyson enjoyed a good party and she hosted many of them. She is the one who named the house Roslyn, inspired by her ancestral home in Scotland. She planted an elaborate garden around the house. There was a road called High Street that Jesse would race down with a carriage pulled by a team of four horses. He often would race all the way to Segdemoor where the Cincinnati Southern Railway was located. Jesse seems to have left behind a residual spirit. Visitors have reported hearing the sounds of a team of horses and carriage racing along the road. Occasionally, the carriage and horses are seen and they disappear into the nearby woods. The house has a spirit too that is heard sobbing. This seems to be coming from a female spirit that has been seen. Witnesses who see a picture of Sophia claim that she is the spirit they have seen.

Barbara Stagg’s brother, Brian, lived at Roslyn for a while. He started having paranormal experiences shortly after moving into the house. There were simple things like a door locking by itself or hearing disembodied footsteps in the hallway. Over time, the cause of these things was revealed when a female spirit dressed in Victorian clothing started appearing. She would often pace the hallway and sob. He had a friend named Sarah Bonner come over and she saw the apparition as well. Both of them confirmed it was Sophia when they saw her picture.

Newbury House

Newbury House Bed and Breakfast is a cute bungalow that features six bedrooms for rent. The large Thomas Hughes Suite is downstairs and the other five rooms are upstairs. Barbara Stagg of "Historic Rugby" said that a man named Otis Brown from Boston built the house in the mid-1880s and named it for himself, The Brown House. We've also seen his name as Ross Brown. He ran the place as a boarding house. The location changed its name to Newbury House and was run by James Milmow, Louise Dyer, and C.A. Clark. Nelson Kellogg was the next owner and he ran the house until 1920. In 1985, Historic Rugby bought the house and restored it. They furnished it with Victorian antiques and opened it as a bed and breakfast. This is the most haunted location in the village.

The laughter of unseen children is heard in the house. The most common experience guests have had is being awakened in the middle of the night and finding the spirit of a man standing near the bed.Who is this spirit? The Tabard Inn had burned down and was rebuilt and a Mr. Davis was hired to manage the rebuilt inn. He moved to Rugby from Buffalo, New York with his wife. The Tabard was the social center and often hosted dances. On one particular night, Mrs. Davis got more attention from the men of the town than he liked. She was one of the few women in town at the time. He became very jealous and brooded for a bit. His jealous rage finally overtook him and he slit her throat and then shot himself. The inn burned down again, but items from the house survived and were put in other places. Mr. Davis seems to have attached to some of the items. Is it possible that Mr. Davis is haunting the Newbury House?

There could be another spirit here. A man named Charles Oldfield was an inspector and he was sent to Rugby by the Board of Directors in England in the early 1880s to see how the utopian village was doing. His brief visit to Rugby was enough to convince him that this was the place for his family. He sent for his wife and son in England to join him. The son departed immediately, but his wife stayed behind to pack things for the move. Oldfield died the night before his son was to arrive. That is why people think his spirit is at Newbury House. He had died there waiting for his family and perhaps he stays there still waiting for them. Women who stay in the room named after Oldfield claim that it is very cold and that they get nudged or poked by something they can't see. Is he wondering if these women are his wife?

readhead00 wrote on TripAdvisor, "I specifically asked before booking if this place was haunted. He laughed and said he hasn't heard anything since he has worked there. After a night of hearing things all around us and having a very disturbing experience (like electricity through my whole body) we decided not to stay our second night. When we turned our keys into the nice lady working at the visitor center she proceeded to tell us many stories of paranormal activity. The area is beautiful, the people exceptionally friendly and the buildings are amazing. But do not stay at the Newbury if you are even a little 'sensitive.' You will not sleep."

Fantome Paranormal Investigations did an investigation at the Newbury House in February 2021. They set a Rem Pod up in the dining room that went off and then again when asked to make it go off again. The device went off repeatedly and for long periods. Until one of the investigators asked if the spirit wanted to answer some questions. She said, "If you want to answer questions, turn on the Rem Pod." The Rem Pod went quiet. Apparently, on a previous visit, a device they set on a chair went flying across the room.

Tammie sent us a couple of pages of experiences that Newbury House has collected from visitors. 

Rugby sounds like a cool and quaint Victorian village. A trip here is like a time travel back in time. Are there spirits here from that time as well? Is Rugby, Tennessee haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, March 10, 2022

HGB Ep. 426 - Fort Omaha

Moment in Oddity - Skeleton Walled Up at Fort Independence

There is a legend connected to Fort Independence in Boston that Edgar Allan Poe may have used for inspiration. It seems that in 1905, some workmen were doing repairs at Fort Independence on Castle Island in Boston Harbor in the former dungeon area. When they knocked down a brick wall, they discovered a skeleton chained to the wall, wearing tatters of what looked like a military uniform. This apparently was a man known as Lt. Gutavus Drane. In 1817, a young lieutenant named Robert Massie arrived at the fort. He got along with everyone except this Lt. Drane. One day, the two men were playing cards and after Lt. Massie laid down a winning hand, Lt. Drane jumped up and slapped him across the face, accusing him of cheating. He demanded satisfaction and suggested a sword duel. Lt. Massie was no match for experienced Lt. Drane, but he wanted to save face and agreed. He was quickly run through and buried outside the walls of the fort. Massie's fellow officers decided to seek revenge and they grabbed Lt. Drane and walled him up alive down in an unused area of the fort. Military officials assumed Lt. Drane had gone AWOL. Ten years later, an 18-year-old Private Perry, Poe's fake name, was sent to Fort Independence where he found Massie's grave and asked about it. He was told the story and it inspired The Cask of Amontillado. Finding a skeleton walled up in a dungeon and learning it inspired a famous piece of literature, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Five Letters Between John and Abigail Adams

In the month of March, on the 7th, in 1777, John and Abigail Adams exchanged five letters. Abigail was home on the couple's farm in Braintree, Massachusetts and John was a member of the Continental Congress that had gathered in Philadelphia. The Adams' relationship was on display in these letters, which revealed they had a mutual adoration of each other and that they enjoyed speaking of intellectual topics. The letters also revealed that John wasn't a fan of Philly or Quakers. He wrote, "This City [Philly] is a dull Place, in Comparason [sic] of what it was. More than one half the Inhabitants have removed to the Country, as it was their Wisdom to do—the Remainder are chiefly Quakers as dull as Beetles. From these neither good is to be expected nor Evil to be apprehended. They are a kind of neutral Tribe, or the Race of the insipids." Abigail's letters bemoaned the lack of patriotic fervor in New Englanders and she wrote that she looked forward to more letters from her beloved husband to his devoted Portia, which was his pet name for her. In total, the Adamses wrote 1,160 letters to each other. And on that same date in 1969, Ann and Dave Student married each other. Fifty-two years strong.

Fort Omaha (Suggested by: David Young)

Metropolitan Community College in Omaha, Nebraska has a campus filled with historic buildings because this was once Fort Omaha. This fort's main purpose was to serve troops logistically during the Indian War era and is connected to the landmark Standing Bear v. Crook Case in 1879 in which Native Americans were legally determined as persons under the law. This location also was a place that conducted experiments with dirigibles at the Balloon School. There are multiple ghost stories from Fort Omaha as well. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of Fort Omaha.

Clearly, relations between the United States government and Native American tribes has never been good. The West became an area of more confrontation between indigenous tribes and the military after the Civil War. One of these skirmishes took place between the Lakota tribe of the Sioux and the U.S. Army and the result was that the U.S. government signed a treaty that the army would abandon posts along the Bozeman Trail. This was an overland route that connected southern Montana to the Orgeon Trail in eastern Wyoming. General William Tecumseh Sherman decided that there was a need for something to replace those abandoned posts in the West to help supply the military and stop any uprisings with Native American tribes. Omaha was a newer city, but steadily growing as the Union Pacific Railroad reached the Rockies. The city really wanted to be the spot that a military installation would be built and North Omaha was chosen. Augustus Kountze, Emerson Seymour and Charles Wells owned plots of land in the area and this was bought by 79 local investors who then leased the land to the government for the fort. The fort covered nearly 83 acres. 

The Sherman Barracks was established in 1868 by Captain William Sinclair. He was the one who decided on the name, but General Sherman said he didn't want his name on a small installation. So in 1869, the name was changed to Omaha Barracks. In 1878, the Omaha Barracks would become Fort Omaha. Originally, the barracks were made on the cheap with just wood frame structures. Six hundred and fifty men from Battery C of the 3rd U.S. Artillery from Fort Kearney, Nebraska lived in the barracks and marched on the 30 acre parade ground. Other than the barracks, there was also a post headquarters, bakery, guardhouse, storehouses, and sutlers store. In 1870, the War Department authorized 14 permanent posts under Fort Omaha. The main job of the fort was to serve as the departmental headquarters for the Department of the Platte, which included present day Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah and portions of Montana and southern Idaho. The headquarters would remain here from 1878 to 1881. This was a supply post and troops were sent out on coordinated campaigns against Native American tribes in the area that included the Ute, Northern Cheyenne, Sioux and Nez Perce. 

The first brick structure was built in 1879 for General George Crook. He was the Commander of the Department of the Platte from 1875 to 1882. He initially lived off post, but in 1878 the army started requiring department commanders and officers to live on the post. The two-story house was built in the Italianate architectural style. It was crowned with a hipped roof and the east facade had a long porch. General Crook and his wife moved in and they entertained dignitaries regularly. General Ulysses S. Grant and his wife visited and so did President Rutherford B. Hayes. The house served as a home for commanders until 1905 when it became an officer's club and mess hall. In 1930, it became a home once again until the fort closed in 1973. This is the oldest private residence still standing in Omaha and was placed on the Register of Historic Places in 1969. In the 1980s, the house was refurbished by the Douglas County Historical Society and opened as a museum. They also restored the Victorian Heirloom Garden where there are 110 varieties of heirloom flowers, trees and shrubs that are native to Nebraska. Some date back to the 1880s when they were brought via wagon trains. The museum is full of Victorian antiques.

General Crook's Headquarters was also built in 1879. This was a two-story building made from brick. He only used it for a couple of years before moving the headquarters to downtown Omaha to be near the Union Pacific terminal. The building was transformed into a hospital until the post was abandoned in 1896. There was another hospital on the fort that was declared uninhabitable in 1879 by the post surgeon because conditions were very poor with only wood burning stoves for warmth and no bathrooms. So the transformed headquarters served that purpose until a new hospital was built in 1906 by the Army Signal Corps. Later, the hospital served as a recruiting center during both world wars.

General Crook was part of an important case known as Standing Bear v. Crook. Chief Standing Bear (Ma-chĂș-nu-zhe) was the leader of a band of about 82 Ponca people who lived near the Niobrara River. This was land being eyed by white settlers, so there was a real push to get the Ponca to move. In 1876, there was more than just trying to convince the tribe to move. The government told them they were being moved to Indian Territory, which was Oklahoma. The Ponca saw the new land and refused to take it, so they went back home. So then, the government issued an order on 12 April 1877 to force their removal. Federal troops were called in to enforce the removal orders. The journey back to the Indian Territory was grueling and nine people died along the way. After arriving, another 160 Ponca died and this number included Standing Bear's only son, Bear Shield. His son told his father that he wanted to be buried in the ancestral homeland. 

When the government heard that the Ponca had returned, General George Crook was ordered to arrest them, but General Crook liked the tribe. He did bring the Ponca to Fort Omaha, but then he contacted newspaperman Thomas Tibbles who was the assistant editor of the Omaha Daily Herald. He told Tibbles why Standing Bear returned and that he wanted to rally support for the man. Tibbles went to work making speeches at local churches and he gained sympathy for Standing Bear. Then Tibbles hired  John L. Webster and A.J. Poppleton to represent Standing Bear and the Poncas at a trial. The attorneys asked Judge Elmer Dundy to grant a writ of habeas corpus. This was the first time such a motion had been filed on behalf of a Native American and Judge Dundy agreed. The trial opened in Omaha on April 30, 1879, and lasted two days. The U.S. government argued, “that [Standing Bear] was neither a citizen, nor a person, so he could not sue the government.” Standing Bear gave impassioned testimony and General Crook spoke on his behalf. Standing Bear’s lawyers argued that under the Fourteenth Amendment, Standing Bear and his fellow Ponca were both citizens and people and entitled to the same constitutional rights as other citizens of the United States and Judge Dundy agreed writing, "That an Indian is a PERSON within the meaning of the laws of the United States."  Scholars have compared the case as having a similar civil rights impact as the Dred Scott decision and the Brown v. Board of Education.

Standing Bear was able to bury his son after the trial near the Niobrara River. After years of governmental acts, Standing Bear was granted a parcel of land in the old Ponca territory. He lived on the parcel with his family and raised livestock and farmed. He died in 1908 and a memorial was built in his honor on the Parade Grounds. A statue was placed in the National Statuary Hall at the United States Capitol featuring Standing Bear in September of 2019. It features his quote, "My hand is not the color of yours, but if I pierce it, I shall feel pain. If you pierce your hand, you also feel pain."

In 1880, the troops would finally get indoor hot and cold water bathing facilities. There was one for officers and three for enlisted men. The Ordnance Magazine was built in 1883 and this was used for the storage of ammunition and weapons. The building was fairly small and topped with a tin-roofed. The soldiers were trained to be excellent marksmen. The types of weapons used were Remington, Winchester and Springfield rifles and nickel-plated Colt revolvers. Ten companies of the 2nd Infantry would be at Fort Omaha until 1896 and then they moved to Fort Crook near Bellevue. The Army Signal Corps made this their home in 1905 and they stayed until 1913. Fort Omaha's Officers Row was built in 1906. These homes were very basic and built on a budget with classic lines featuring several architectural styles like Georgian, Federal and Greek Revival. There were many social events for the officers like band concerts, charity balls and gatherings at fraternal lodges. 

Fort Omaha entered a period of balloon and aviation history in 1909 with the Observation Balloon Corps. A storage building for a dirigible was built. The first experiment they conducted involved inflating a dirigible with hydrogen gas and sending Pilot Captain Charles Chandler and his passenger Lieutenant J. Ware off to Iowa. They made it and landed safely before the balloon was lost to a fire from a static discharge. The Corps was moved to another location, but returned in 1916 and a Balloon School was set up. Balloon training was very demanding. Balloonists were going to use the balloons for spying and observation and they had a code they sent via a telephone line from the balloon's basket to an extensive switchboard system. Sixteen thousand men trained in this field at Fort Omaha during World War I. The Caquot was the best dirigible they had and this was shaped like a sausage with fins. The Balloon Corps stayed at Fort Omaha for four years.

During the 1920s and 1930s, the fort was continuously occupied. After 1935, the fort was used as a residence post for officers on duty at 7th Corps area headquarters. During World War II, it served as a support installation for the 7th Service Command. The Army decided the fort was surplus property in 1947 and they gave it to the Navy who used it for a Reserve Training Center. In 1973, the Defense Department decided they no longer wanted the property, so they deeded it to the Metropolitan Community College in August 1975. Army Reserve units still train there and the college is not allowed to change the exterior of the buildings or the Parade Grounds. The Metropolitan Community College was created in 1974 after the Nebraska legislature consolidated eight technical community college areas into six. The Omaha Nebraska Technical Community College Area was merged with the Eastern Nebraska Technical Community College Area and given the name Metropolitan Technical Community College Area. In 1992, the Legislature voted to change the name to Metropolitan Community College Area, shortened to MCC.

MCC is one of the fastest growing post-secondary institutions in Nebraska and three buildings were added to the campus: The Construction Education Center, The Center for Advanced and Emerging Technologies and The Career and Academic Skills Center. In 2021, they opened the Automotive Training Center. The college has grown to become the second largest post-secondary institute in Nebraska. There are several campuses all over Nebraska. Students have a variety of offerings for major fields of studies. And they have an opportunity to mingle with ghosts because the former Fort Omaha is said to be haunted. The school hosts haunted history tours. In 2022, they have one in April and one in May.

Turmoil feeds negative energies and Omaha played host to a very bad scene in 1919. Lieutenant Colonel Jacob Wuest, commander of Fort Omaha at the time, had to send a company of troops to help the local police when a riot erupted. The summer of 1919 was a dangerous time in America with riots rocking major cities across the country. It was nicknamed Red Summer. There were 25 large ones. The one in Omaha started when Agnes Loebeck, a white woman, reported that she had been assaulted by a black man. A packinghouse worker named Will Brown was apprehended by the police and brought to the Loebeck to be identified. Agnes claimed he was the assailant. Before the police could leave, a mob started forming outside the house. Reinforcements helped get Brown to the Douglas County Courthouse. Three days later, on September 28, 1919, a mob of around 10,000 people gathered outside the courthouse. When night fell, the looting began and people started firing on the courthouse. Two men were killed by flying bullets. The mob then set the courthouse on fire. Will Brown told the Sheriff who was trying to protect him, "I am innocent, I never did it, my God I am innocent."

Firefighters arrived and tried to extinguish the flames, but the mob pushed them back. The mayor came out to reason with the people and he was knocked out. When he came to, he found himself with a noose around his neck with the other end flung up over a lamp post. He passed out again and woke up in the hospital where he had been in a coma for several days. The mob managed to get inside the courthouse and dragged Brown outside. What happened to him is too horrifying for us to share on this podcast. It's a sad testament to the inhumanity of humans. What we will share is what actor Henry Ford said of the scene. As a 14-year-old boy, he watched what happened from the second floor of his father's printing plant that was across the street from the courthouse. He said, "It was the most horrendous sight I’d ever seen . . . We locked the plant, went downstairs, and drove home in silence. My hands were wet and there were tears in my eyes. All I could think of was that young black man dangling at the end of a rope." The Army from Fort Omaha was able to restore order and they patrolled the black community to make sure no more lynchings took place. No one was ever charged for what happened to Brown.

The Douglas County Courthouse still stands today. It was built in 1912 in the French Renaissance Revival architectural style. The fire nearly destroyed the building. Brown was lynched across the street at 18th and Harney Street. The Metropolitan Utilities District and the Omaha Housing Authority are located there today. We tried hard, but couldn't find any hauntings related to these locations. But there are other ghosts connected to Fort Omaha.

Another Douglas County fixture was the Poor Farm. A 60-year-old man named Peter Gronwold lived there in 1890. He scraped by making a living as a servant to Lieutenant Wilson who lived in officer’s quarters at the Fort. He was working there one day when he broke and had what was described as a psychotic episode. Gronwold started flinging plates at a wall and he broke out a window. Lt. Wilson tried to subdue him and Gronwold died from what was thought to be a heart attack. His spirit is said to have haunted the location for 20 years after that. We're not sure why it stopped after that or if his spirit might still remain, but has become quiet.

Apparently, psychics were invited out to Fort Omaha to perform seances as a form of entertainment. People would come out to the fort to watch drills and such and this was an added extra. A local newspaper reported in 1918 that the troops who figured the psychics were charlatans, were given something to think about. A particular psychic was able to conjure a ghost on command. The troops, of course, believed he was faking the whole thing. That was until the ghost continued to make appearances night after night for the rest of the week. We're not sure if this was a spirit connected to the fort or something the psychic pulled from somewhere else. No description was given of the ghost, but there are reports of people seeing the apparition of a young soldier walking around who either disappears or is semi-transparent. A nicely dressed middle-aged man has been seen by students and he disappears, which is what indicates he was a ghost. A Native American warrior has also been seen. And there are stories of a young girl.

The young soldier ghost could be connected to another incident at the fort. In 1981, there was an explosion at the World War I Balloon School on the south side of the parade grounds. A gas storage tank exploded, killing two soldiers immediately and sending another to the hospital. He later died during surgery. All three of these men are said to roam the campus in the afterlife. And speaking of the hospital, a soldier who was in the hospital in 1945 became violent one day and murdered one of the nurses while doctors and other nurses looked on. Her spirit has been seen gazing out the windows of the former hospital.

One of the original officer's houses is also haunted. When it was being renovated in the 1970s, workers would hear knocking on the walls. They assumed some other workers were playing tricks or just working on the opposite sides of the walls. When they would go to look, they would find that no one was on the other side of the wall. Tools would also mysteriously disappear and then show up later in different rooms, sometimes days later. 

We have one more ghost story to share. This isn't at the former Fort Omaha, but six minutes to the east at Carter Lake. The lake was a popular getaway for city people and the Rod and Gun Club was set up to facilitate their use of the lake. The Omaha Rod and Gun Club was founded in 1905 by Dr. Despecher and there were 175 charter members. There were bungalows built along with a clubhouse. H.C. Oakley and his wife Mabel owned a cabin there. One day, Mabel's sleeve caught fire from the stove and she ran out of the house into the arms of her husband and died. The cabin burned to the ground. A restayrant was eventually built on the site of the former cabin. The chef slept at the restaurant and he started having experiences with a ghost. He was sleeping one night when he was awakened by the sound of a match striking. He saw a woman surrounded by fire and carrying a lighted match in her hand. She appeared night after night, always glowing with an unearthly blaze of light. His dog occasionally ran in and would bark and then run back out. Finally, one night the burning woman held the match out to him and he pushed it away. He was stunned when he was not burned and he felt no pain. He insisted on having his room moved and she didn't bother him anymore. The Rod and Gun Club closed down in the 1940s. 

Omaha was a wild town in the west and a perfect spot for a military base. Fort Omaha served a good purpose and serves an even higher calling now as a place of education. Is the former Fort Omaha and now the current Metropolitan Community College haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:
Adam F.C. Fletcher has a great blog on the history and some of the ghost stories of North Omaha at

Thursday, March 3, 2022

HGB Ep. 425 - Hannah House

Moment in Oddity - Oldest Drawing of a Ghost in Babylon (Suggested by: John Michaels)

In one of the vaults at the British Museum, one can find the oldest drawing of a ghost. The curator of the Middle Eastern department at the museum and a world authority on cuneiform, Dr. Irving Finkel, said that the artifact had been overlooked until now. Part of the problem is that it has never been on display and the other reason is that it needed to be viewed in the proper lighting. Under the right lighting, a faint outline of a figure appears on the Babylonian cuneiform tablet. Dr. Finkel thinks the tablet has been misinterpreted since being acquired by the museum in the 19th century. He describes the carving as showing "a male ghost and he’s miserable. You can imagine a tall, thin, bearded ghost hanging about the house did get on people’s nerves. The final analysis was that what this ghost needed was a lover. You can’t help but imagine what happened before. ‘Oh God, Uncle Henry’s back.’ Maybe Uncle Henry’s lost three wives. Something that everybody knew was that the way to get rid of the old bugger was to marry him off. It’s not fanciful to read this into it. It’s a kind of explicit message. There’s very high-quality writing there and immaculate draughtsmanship. That somebody thinks they can get rid of a ghost by giving them a bedfellow is quite comic." The tablet was created about 3,500 years ago and is believed to have been part of a library of magic. The palm-sized tablet also contains directions on the back for exorcising an unwanted ghost and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - OK Enters National Vernacular

In the month of March, on the 23rd, in 1839, OK enters the national vernacular. Apparently, the young people of the late 1830s liked to misspell words on purpose and then abbreviate them, which doesn't seem much different than today. For example, "no use" would be spelled "know yuse" and then abbreviated to KY. "No go" was similar being spelled "know go" and abbreviated to KG. "All correct" became "oll korrect" and this was abbreviated to OK. On that day in March, OK made it into the limelight when it was printed in the Boston Morning Post as part of a joke. It gained even more popularity when it became part of Martin Van Buren's re-election campaign. People called him "Old Kinderhook" because that was the name of his hometown in New York. He had a group of thugs helping to convince people to re-elect him and the group was called the OK Club for both Van Buren's nickname and the now popular term OK. American linguist Allen Walker Read was the man to figure out where OK originated and now you know!

Hannah House (Suggested by Ed Jones and Sarah Silver) 

The Hannah House in Indianapolis, Indiana was the family home of Alexander Hannah. This home was meant to be a place of refuge for runaway slaves along the Underground Railroad. Tragedy struck when a lantern that a group of the formerly enslaved people were using tipped over. A fire erupted and they were trapped in their hiding place and none survived. Their bodies were more than likely buried on the property. This event has led to hauntings in what is now a museum. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the Hannah House.

The Hannah House is located in Indianapolis, Indiana at 3801 Madison Avenue in Marion County. The county had originally been home to the Lenape tribe. The county was organized in 1822 and named in honor of American Revolutionary General Francis Marion. Alexander Ralston had assisted in laying out Washington, D.C. and he assisted laying out Indianapolis, which is why it has a circular common in the center of town that is known today as Monument Circle. Indianapolis became a major stopping point in the 1830s and the capital of Indiana. The city eventually became a major manufacturer of automobiles and this connection to vehicles continues today with the Brickyard 400 and Indy 500.

Alexander Hannah was the man who had the Hannah House built. He was born in the southern part of Indiana in Wayne County in 1821. He learned the trade of harness making, but when the California Gold Rush started, he decided to find his fortune. Hannah did manage to find some gold and bought a ranch while he was in California. When the rush died down, he chose to return to Indiana and decided to live in Indianapolis where he worked for the Indiana Central Railroad. His father Samuel was president of the company and owned hundreds of acres in the area. Hannah eventually bought 240 acres for himself, just south of Indianapolis. He decided to build his mansion on that land in 1858.

The Hannah House was built in the Italianate architectural design with elements of Greek Revival. The exterior was constructed from red brick. The house was two-and-a-half stories tall with a smaller two-story wing connected to the main block house. The roof was a low hip style with wide eaves and had four chimneys. The central doorway is pretty plain with a rectangular transom, so this element is clearly Greek Revival. The windows were tall and thin and had shutters. The second floor had taller windows that opened onto an uncovered balcony that no longer exists. The original porch no longer exists either, but there had been porches on the north and south facades.

The interior featured 24 rooms with a wide central hall floored with poplar, laid in 8-inch boards, at the entrance of the house. There were two formal rooms on either side of the hallway with fireplaces. One was a double parlor and the other was a sitting room and dining room. The connected wing had the kitchen and a pantry. The kitchen had its own fireplace, which is the largest in the house. The kitchen also has a cool secret passage that is concealed in a dining room cupboard that passes from the pantry to the dining room. The doors and windows were decorated with acanthus forms, which are like ornamental foliage. There was a main staircase that led up to the second floor with four bedrooms and a sitting room. Three of the bedrooms had fireplaces.

Hannah came up with another line of revenue after buying his land. The first toll road to be built in Marion County crossed his land. This was the Indianapolis-Southport Toll Road that stretched from Indianapolis to Madison. That street still reflects this history in its name, Hannah Avenue. Alexander collected tolls from people who used this section of road. He also got into farming and raising livestock. The property grew hay, wheat, corn and oats. Cattle sheep and pigs were raised on the land too. Hannah also served the Indianapolis Southside as postmaster, sheriff, Circuit Court Clerk and a member of the Indiana General Assembly. 

Alexander married late in life. He was fifty-one when he married Elizabeth Jackson in 1872. She had been born in 1835 and was 37 years old. The couple had wanted children. There are claims that Elizabeth did become pregnant, but that she either miscarried or the baby was stillborn. There are no records for either of these, but there is a small unmarked gravestone at the family burial, which seems to indicate an infant burial. The couple added onto the property with a service building that included a summer kitchen, smoke house, wash house, milk cooling room and servant's quarters. The couple were very active in civil events, especially since Alexander had his fingers in many political arenas. They loved to entertain and often opened up the parlors to celebrate. 

But the couple had a secret that would have brought ruin to their social lives. They were staunch abolitionists and their property was located in such a place that it worked well for the Underground Railroad. There were acres and acres of wooded area and not many people living in close proximity. Our research claimed that Alexander was a conductor, but that term doesn't seem to be accurate. Conductors were people like Harriet Tubman who actually guided people personally along the tracks, which was the term for the routes. Station Masters hid escaped slaves in their homes, which were referred to as stations, and that is what the Hannahs did. They hid these enslaved people in their cellar, which had lots of room.

The cellar obviously would have been chilly and dark and oil lamps would have been supplied to the fugitives. A devastating story connected to the mansion claims that one of these lamps got knocked over and the cellar was quickly set ablaze. The fugitives were unable to get out as the room filled with smoke and flames. They were all killed. The Hannahs clearly would have been very upset about this development. They would have wanted to give these people a Christian burial, but doing anything public would reveal their secret and they both could have been jailed. They also needed this station along the railroad. The house servants decided to bury the bodies in the floor of the cellar. We have no proof of this story, but it certainly was something that would be kept tight-lipped within the house and family. And a partially-collapsed tunnel leading towards the Hannah property seems to lend credence to the home being a station. 

Elizabeth died in 1888 at the age of 53. Alexander did not remarry and he died in 1895 at the age of 73 and joined Elizabeth at Crown Hill Cemetery. His monument is a large obelisk. The house sat abandoned for four years and then a German immigrant named Roman Oehler bought the house and 21 acres in 1899. He owned a jewelry business in Indianapolis. He built some outbuildings for the property and put a new porch on the mansion. The house stayed in the family with his daughter, Romena Oehler Elder, being the last. She was in the house until 1962, but the house stayed in the family for another six years, although it was vacant. From 1968 to 1978, a couple by the name of O'Brien, lived in part of the house and ran an antique shop out of the rest of it. The house was placed on the Register of Historic Places in 1978. In 1980, the house was used to host a haunted house-themed fundraiser, which seems fitting since the house is reputed to be haunted. It was a museum for a while and then a private home again and now today, it is a museum again that offers tours and hosts weddings.

Alexander and his wife Elizabeth have been seen in the house and there are even claims that there is a foul smell that is connected to the stillborn baby. We're not sure why that would be the case since there is a grave for the baby, so it wasn't holed up in the house somewhere. And with the story of burying the fire victims in the cellar, we would think that any smell of decay would be linked to that event. The house even has the nickname "The House That Reeks of Death." Elizabeth wears a variety of clothing. Sometimes she is seen wearing a black dress and other times a peach dress. She likes to peek out of an upstairs window. Alexander once told a guest to go back downstairs and mind their own business.

There are claims of cold spots, disembodied voices, flying utensils, electrical equipment going haywire, pictures flying off walls, doors opening and closing on their own and strange noises. The staircase leading to the second floor has carpet, but that doesn't stop people from hearing the sound of footsteps of varying loudness moving up and down the stairs. Rustling clothing is also heard on the stairs. The house has been investigated by many paranormal investigators and the mansion embraces this by offering ghost hunts. It's very reasonable running $500 for a group up to ten people. News crews have come through as have psychics. They have all reported unexplained occurrences in the house. The ghosts of the formerly enslaved people have been seen as well. Their wailing and moaning has been heard in the cellar and whispers have also been heard. Bad smells aren't the only phantom scents. The scent of roses and lavender have also been detected, as has the scent of burning wood.

A woman named Agatha claimed to see a spirit looking out of a window when she drove by one day. A woman named Tiara attended a ghost hunt and they captured a recording of a child saying, "Save me, save me!" up in the attic. This is said to be the ghost of a boy named Tommy. Richard said, "I went on a tour of this house many years ago in the summer, hot as the devil. I was with my wife and daughter and was getting ready to descend the steps from the attic! I decided to venture around while they went down the steps. It is then the temperature in that steaming hot attic turned into a refrigerator, and the most horrible smell I ever encountered filled the attic. I never moved so fast in my life getting out of that house. My wife and daughter said I looked like all the blood left my face, they said I was white as a ghost. Needless to say I will never venture back into the Hanna House, I won't even look in that direction when I drive by it! God is my witness that house is definitely haunted, they say a ghost can't hurt you but a ghost can definitely make you hurt yourself!"

Cali said, "We went one year when it was a haunted house. It was like 5 of us and we started in what I think was the attic and worked our way down. At one point we heard some one say Kisha, Kisha. We were spooked because we're like who is saying my friends name we never told anyone her name. I was pretty much running at this point. Trying to get the hell out of there. I didn't care who I ran over. I have never been to another haunted house since that day."

A review in 2019 said, "I attended a tour and haunted house at this location years ago. While in one of the upstairs rooms on the tour, I was touched by what felt like a child running past and bumping into me. In the basement I was grabbed on the forearm by an unseen hand. There is definite activity here."

A review in April 2020 of the house claimed, "I visited the Hannah House with my family back in the late 60s when I was maybe 6 years old. It must have been an open-house because there were many people there touring the house. It was a sunny day as I recall. Two things I remember. I have a memory of a rocking chair on the porch, rocking it's self. The second is that I was in a line of people going down the stairs into the basement and I remember becoming hysterical with fright, even though I was surrounded by adults. I had to be taken out of line and calmed down. I never set foot in that house again until about 5 years ago when the H.House hosted the Indiana Paranormal Meet and Greet. I toured the house and finally made it into that scary basement, but had no experiences. I did find out, that the rocking chair is one of the reported phenomena at this house, so that was a "real" memory. I will say that as a historical home, it is worth taking a tour."

Daywalkers Paranormal Investigations investigated the mansion in June of 2012. They captured several EVP. There was a female saying "You're welcome" and a male voice that said "want help." Diane also thought one sounded like a child saying "come on." And there was one that sounded like "I don't like her." One group was at the house when they heard a crashing in the cellar. There were old canning jars that stood along a wall down there and they thought that is sounded like those had gone crashing, but when they got to the cellar, they found nothing amiss. 

A TV crew came through the haunted house hosted by the Jaycees in 1981. The camera man commented that it would be creepy if the chandelier started swinging in the room he was filming and the chandelier suddenly started swinging in a six-inch arc. They could find no reason for the light to be doing that. Later, they caught a picture falling off the wall. The nail was still in the wall and pointing upward. The string on the back of the picture was intact. The only way for the picture to fall would be if something lifted it up off the nail.

In the 1970s, an older couple lived in the house and sold antiques out of it. A man named Dan went shopping there once and shared the following experience, "The old couple who lived there sold 'Antiques'- more like accumulated house stuff. They let me roam all over the house looking for used furniture and usable things. Went up to the attic- the roof had caved in and though there were piles of furniture- all weather ruined. There was an old woman up there who asked what I was doing there. 'Looking for a bookcase,' I said. 'Well it ain't here,' she said. I went downstairs, having found one in a bedroom, and commented about other customer in the attic. The Mrs. laughed and explained thay she
was not a customer and thought that  still owned the house and did not like anyone upstairs. She was a house spirit and harmless. The old man was in an antique wooden wheelchair and they never went upstairs anyway. The Mrs. saw her sometimes and asked that I not go to the attic as the floor may not be safe from the weather coming in. Definitely a house ghost who had loved her life there and had not moved on. The old couple were used to the spirits there."

There definitely was a supervisor spirit while the O'Briens lived in the house. They hired a painter and he eventually left the job, but who could blame him once you hear what he went through. Doors would swing open as he walked by and pictures would slide on the wall when he passed as well. He heard an audible voice say, "You will not paint my house!" and "Do a good job painting my house!" The final straw for him was when a spoon flew across the room at him. Mrs. O’Brien’s son volunteered to finish the paint job. From his first night working, he could feel that someone was watching him and that unnerving feeling continued until he finished. Something else weird happened while he worked. On the second night, he brought his family with him, which included his wife and two daughters. Three of them worked on painting while the littlest girl played on the stairs. They heard her talking to someone and so Mrs. O'Brien's son went out to see who she was talking to. He saw no one, but she claimed to be able to see an elderly man. They all watched as she continued to carry on a conversation until she said the man went back up the stairs.

Mrs. O’Brien once looked up at the second floor and saw a man standing there in a black suit and she watched as he walked across the upstairs hallway. She thought maybe he was a customer, so she went up to help him, but when she got up there, she could find him nowhere. Mr. O’Brien saw something similar. He saw a transparent man, dressed in a period black suit standing at the top of the stairs on the second floor. He faded away slowly. 

The Hannah House sounds like an interesting place to investigate. Is it haunted? That is for you to decide!