Thursday, August 25, 2022

HGB Ep. 449 - Hogestown Church Investigation

Moment in Oddity - Angel Glow

Back in April of 1862, one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War took place in Tennessee. Approximately 25,000 Union and Confederate soldiers lost their lives. Those who were injured soon encountered a strange experience. They weren't hallucinating. The injured began to see their wounds glowing at night. A blueish greenish glow, not super bright but visible none the less. A number of those injured soldiers who glowed tended to recover more rapidly than those who did not have glowing wounds. This is why the phenomenon was dubbed Angel's Glow. This legend was passed down through the times between friends and families alike and it literally was just that, a legend, until the early 2000's. There was a teen who was an avid civil war enthusiast traveling to reenactments and the like. It is said that this boy learned about the Angel's Glow from a reenactor in Virginia. This teen had parents who were scientists so he was able to delve into the world of investigating bacteria and glowing wounds. It was quickly determined that a bacteria was indeed the cause of the glow. There were particular environmental necessities for this glow to occur. There was a need for cold temperatures, moist ground and the nematodes that carried the bacteria liked plants but specifically peach trees, which is where this battle happened. This bacteria was called photorhabdus luminescence. It is believed that this bacteria could also produce an antibiotic affect. While seeing wounds glow with bio-luminescence is strange enough, having the glow actually increase healing and survival chances, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Chappie Chapman Becomes Only MLB Player to Die From Being Hit By Pitch

In the month of August, on the 16th, in 1920, the Cleveland Indians shortstop, Ray "Chappie" Chapman, becomes the only baseball player to die as the direct result of being hit by a pitch. Baseball players wearing batting helmets has been around for so many decades, it might surprise some people to find out that they were only required starting in 1971. Baseball was much more dangerous in 1920. Helmets weren't worn and pitchers could pretty much do whatever they wanted to with balls from rubbing dirt and spit all over them, cutting into the ball and pretty much anything to affect the pitch's path. Chappie was a good batter and specialized in bunting and stealing bases. New York Yankee Carl Mays was pitching and he was known for beaning batters. His pitch hit Chappie so hard in the head that people thought the ball had hit the bat. Chappie collapsed as he ran to first base and he was helped from the field. He collapsed again in the dugout and was taken to the hospital with blood running from his ear. Chappie told people, "Tell Mays not to worry," before he lost consciousness, never to regain it. He died the following morning, on the 16th. Some fans called for Mays to be banned, but he was not and he was never prosecuted either. He took 10 days off after the incident and said later that this was “the most regrettable incident of my baseball career. I would give anything if I could undo what has happened. Chapman was a game, splendid fellow.” Spitballs were banned starting the following season, but helmets would take decades to become common place in major league parks.

Hogestown Church

Hogestown was a town settled in 1730 by a man named John Hogue and that is where it gets its name. Its first name was Sporting Green and today is part of Mechanicsburg in Pennsylvania. We ventured to this small historic settlement to investigate the Hogestown Church with an old friend of Diane's, Robert Brandt aka Sarge, who is Vice President of the Cumberland County Historical Society. There definitely seems to be some unexplained activity going on at the church. Join us as we explore the history and investigate the haunting of the Hogestown Church!

This location intrigued us because we had been told that the family that had transformed this church into their residence had left abruptly, leaving all their belongings behind. Something had scared them out of the place. We interviewed Sarge for a Paranormal Conversation a couple months ago and during that he shared some of the experiences his team, Ghost Ops Paranormal, has had on several of their investigations of this historic church. (Sarge Experiences) (Sarge Spirit Box)

So we arrived on the evening of August 5th after having dinner in Harrisburg and meeting our first Pittsburgh Salad. Sarge and his team were setting up the equipment and cameras and we went inside the church and met Mary, who is the President of the Cumberland County Historical Society. She shared with us the history of Hogestown. (Mary Int) Yeah, so the church was built to give the people of Hogestown a closer place to worship. It became a school for farmers while still being a church and then in 1997 the church was sold and converted into a private home. The owner of the house in 2013 abandoned the property, including the shed in back. In 2014, a group of Hogestown residents organized as the Hogestown Redevelopment Committee, became a 501c3 nonprofit and changed their name to Hogestown Heritage Committee. 

Sarge gets the investigation underway. (Sarge Intro) While Sarge was doing the initial walkthrough, we asked Ghost Bait about the entity in the basement. The basement has a dirt floor and we wonder about these places built down under the earth, with the earth still there and do they possibly harbor more energy than other places. (Ghost Bait Basement) So the audio went out in a few places and I have no idea why because we didn't move, but Ghost Bait was talking about how when Maude is around they get this distinct old lady perfume and a cool breeze, usually in the hallway where the rooms are located. They believe she is a source for good and protection in the building. And listening to him, one really has to be careful about opening themselves up to entities. The two times he has done it, has led to him being mean to people - his personality changed as though he had an attachment.

Kelly and I went inside and did a session with the dowsing rods and an ESTES Method Spirit Box session. (Kelly Dowsing) Is this an EVP under Kelly talking, we're not sure. (EVP Church) (Diane ESTES) Pretty cool that you asked if it was Zack and I said Zack. Sounds like he was telling us he was six years old. And pretty chilling towards the end that I said "Good riddance" and "He came up" like the bad entity came up from basement, but then left. Kelly started to not feel well and mentions fumes, which I didn't really register what she was saying. She told Jared and I back at the hotel that the fumes had gotten to her. Jared and I had no idea what she was talking about. We said it smelled like wood, but no fumes. 

Throughout the evening the REM Pods went off and the paralights went off. Many times on command. Sarge and Jared did a long session in the church after Kelly and I. (Sarge Church) The best evidence this evening came during this part of Sarge and Jared's session with the REM Pod and EMF detector. (Sarge REM) Sarge and Ghost Bait do an ESTES Session in different rooms. Sarge got the name Maude and told Ghost Bait "I'm behind you." Ghost bait said he could feel it because his arms felt cold. The box asked (Who Are They) "Who are they?" Was this in reference to us? They got Student during this and Sarge told us later that they got it 3 times and all with the same male voice. (ESTES Church) Then we all came in for a session and the voices you hear coming over the speaker are from the GhostTube Vox app.This gets some weird voices coming across.

By this time it was a little after midnight and we needed to be up and on the road by 7am, so we called it a night. Hogestown is an interesting area and we hope that it can someday be protected as a historic district. We're sure the ghosts at the church feel the same way. If there are ghosts. Is the Hogestown Church haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, August 18, 2022

HGB Ep. 448 - Haunted Fayetteville, North Carolina

Moment in Oddity - Siphonophores

Some people have fears about the unknown in the deepest, darkest depths of our oceans. For many, this isn't just the usual apprehension surrounding sharks and the like. One particular type of creature can be the fuel for nightmares. These are siphonophores. This is an order of marine animals in the phylum Cnidaria. Jellyfish are a part of this phylum. The creature is made up of a complex aggregate colony of many nectophores. Each one is genetically identical. While jellyfish are single organisms that can swim, siphonophores are drifters that flow with the ocean currents. All the individual organisms work as one whole. Some catching prey, some digest food, other parts reproduce while some create the creatures own bioluminescent light. Similar to jellyfish, siphonophores are venomous but rarely are fatal to humans although their stings can be quite painful. Siphonophores are predatory carnivores that feed on copepods, krill, other crustaceans as well as small fish. Each organism has an independent nervous system but they do share a circulatory system. While some may find these creatures beautiful, I would surmise to say that if you were to Google images of them right before bedtime, you would have some terrifying nightmares because these creatures certainly are odd.

This Month in History - MTV Launches

In the month of August, on the 1st, in 1981, MTV launched. This was back when MTV was cool and it was an awe-inspiring experience to have music videos featuring the hottest songs of the time. One of MTV's creators, John Lack, started the broadcast by saying, "Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll." The channel then rolled out the first video, which was The Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star." This first broadcast was only seen in New Jersey, but soon enough every house that had cable was able to get the channel, which revolutionized the music industry. It also pushed cultural boundaries and introduced interesting reality shows like The Real World. MTV introduced us to the term VJs rather than DJs. And who could forget Headbangers Ball, Celebrity Deathmatch and Beavis and Butthead? Careers were launched and many top acts reached their pinnacle because MTV put them in heavy rotation. For us, the 2000s killed MTV by dumping music videos and running reality shows that are just plain dumb. BTW, Iron Maiden had the first heavy metal video on MTV.

Haunted Fayetteville, North Carolina

Fayetteville, North Carolina was settled nearly 240 years ago and has witnessed much history in that time. The city has deep Scottish roots with pioneers immigrating from the Scottish Highlands. And while those roots leaned towards loyalty to the English, this town's revolutionary spirit was strong. The city has endured huge fires and Sherman's Army and come out on the other side with a vibrant spirit and the motto "Can Do Spirit." And speaking of spirits, there are quite a few here and we are going to take you along as we visit a few of them on our 2022 Road Trip. Join us for the history and hauntings of Fayetteville, North Carolina!

Fayetteville was mainly founded by Scottish immigrants in 1783 and was named for Marquis de Lafayette. The city was the first to honor him in this way and Fayetteville was the only city named for him that he actually visited. The carriage in which he arrived is still here and had been on display at the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry & Museum, which has been permanently closed. But before the Scots made their way up the Cape Fear River to establish the settlements of Cross Creek and Campbellton, which would combine to become Fayetteville, indigenous tribes of the Siouan People had inhabited the area. After the bloodiest colonial war in North Carolina, the Tuscarora War, and the Yamasee War, the Native Americans were pushed out as colonization was encouraged. Since many of the immigrants here were Scottish Highlanders, they remained loyal to the Crown during the American Revolution. But there were patriots here too who created a document called the Liberty Point Resolves, which declared their support for liberty for the colonies. Robert Rowan was the leader of this group and many places are named for him in Fayetteville. The second oldest militia company in the country is still active in the city. 

Nearly all of Fayetteville was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1831. This fire started on May 29, 1831 just before noon. Residents came out of church around noon and found the Market Square on fire. The fire had started in a kitchen at a house at the northwest corner. The fire spread quickly from rooftop-to-rooftop, burning 600 buildings by evening. The one fire engine was basically useless and abandoned and water buckets were little help as well. Officials made the hard decision to start blowing up buildings in the path of the fire to give it less fuel and keep the flames from spreading. Pastor Rowland wrote of his church, "The tall steeple of the Presbyterian church seemed a pyramid of fire; for a while it stood firm, soon the bell descended with a crash—the steeple trembled, tottered and fell." All the churches burned, except for the Methodist church, 105 stores, a school, two banks and two hotels. Thankfully, no one died in the fire. Fayetteville bounced back and rebuilt.

Plank roads were a thing in North Carolina for awhile. These are roads built from wooden planks or puncheon logs and hit their boom from 1844 to the mid 1850s. Puncheon logs are split logs with the face smoothed. One of the main plank roads was the Fayetteville and Western Plank Road. This stretched 129 miles from Fayetteville to Bethania, which was a Moravian village outside of Salem. The tolls North Carolina charged were .5 cents per mile for a horse and one rider, 2 cents per mile for a teamster with two horses, 3 cents for a teamster with three horses, and one with six horses, 4 cents. This road helped Fayetteville become a hub of trading.

The Civil War brought destruction to Fayetteville again. General Sherman brought 60,000 troops to town and they destroyed the Confederate arsenal, cotton factories, foundries and the offices of The Fayetteville Observer. Confederate Lt. General Wade Hampton got involved in a skirmish in downtown Fayetteville and killed 11 Union soldiers. Shortly after that, the Battle of Monroe's Crossroads commenced just outside the city. This was the last cavalry battle of the Civil War. The years after found Fayetteville growing rapidly, but things were not good for black residents as Jim Crow laws were adopted and racial segregation set in. The Civil Rights Movement was robust here with marches and sit-ins. The military established Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base here. But of particular interest to us are the haunted locations in Fayetteville.

Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex

This historical site contains the Arsenal Park and the 1897 Poe House. The United States Arsenal that had stood here was commissioned after the War of 1812 and was completed in 1858. When the Civil War started and North Carolina seceded from the Union in 1861, a local militia captured the arsenal and turned it over to the state, which made it part of the Confederate States of America. Rifles, ammunition and gun carriages were produced here until the facility was destroyed by General Sherman's troops in 1865. All that remains are the extant ruins of the southwest tower and the machine shops. There is also a metal structure that is a recreation of one of the arsenal's ghost towers that probably was originally wooden and used as a lookout. It is lit up at night and can be seen from downtown Fayetteville and Hay Street. An interesting piece of history about the arsenal is that 50 to 60 young women were employed here as cartridge makers. They made up the bulk of the employees doing that job and were paid 50 cents a day. From January 1864 to August of that year, the arsenal produced 900,000 rounds of ammunition.

Also located here is the 1897 Poe House that was built by E.A. Poe, and yes, his first name was Edgar, but he isn't that Edgar Poe. He was a local businessman and ran the Poe Brick Company. This is a two-story house done in the Queen Anne Victorian style with beautiful ornate gingerbreading along the first story veranda and along a second floor balcony. Edgar and his wife had eight children and he built two other homes on the property for his daughters, but they no longer stand. Someone who lived in the house for three years claims there were many strange occurrences in the house and they believe it was haunted. There is a historic graveyard here as well. The house offers tours and during the Halloween season they offer "Invoking the Spirits: A Poe House Halloween." They have a video to a YouTube dramatization they produced during the pandemic and you can find it here:

Cool Spring Tavern

Cool Spring Tavern is located at 119 N. Cool Spring Street. This is a federal style building that stands two-stories with long verandas on both stories, a low hipped roof and square Doric posts. Each side of the house has a large exterior brick chimney laid in Flemish bond with glazed headers forming chevron patterns. The interior has Federal trim and follows a center-hall plan two rooms deep. This was built in 1788 by Dolphin Davis and Nathan and Elisha Stedman and operated as a tavern until 1795. This is the oldest existing structure in the city. Elisha Stedman married and made the tavern his private residence after 1795. This was the Stedman Estate until 1834 and then there were five different owners. In 1860, Alfred A. MacKethan bought the home and that family still owns the property.

The state's Constitutional Convention was held here in November 1789 and included many members of the state legislature. The presiding officer of the convention was Richard Caswell who had been the first governor of the state of North Carolina after independence. He lived at the tavern and after toasting North Carolina becoming part of the United States, he retired to his room and suffered a stroke. He died five days later. Legends claims that his spirit haunts the tavern. Another legend claims that a young woman hanged herself in the attic and her apparition is seen walking around with a candle.

Prince Charles Hotel

The Prince Charles Hotel is located at 430 Hay Street and is now known as The Residences at the Prince Charles. The hotel opened in April 1925 under Carl and Richard Player and started as a seven-story building built in the Colonial Revival style with an Italian Renaissance style palazzo with 125 rooms. The Players sold the hotel to Dr. R.L. Pittman and his son Raymond and they added onto the hotel in 1942, provided 60 more rooms. It did well for a few years, but eventually turned into more of a flophouse where rooms could be rented for $8 a night. The city of Fayetteville bought the Prince Charles in 1978 and later closed it. Despite not being in use, the hotel was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. A developer came in to restore the hotel in the mid 1980s, but the hotel was closed shortly there after due to unpaid debts. Southern National Bank took possession of the hotel and sold it to a group of investors headed by Dr. Menno Pennink in 1992. 

Radisson took over the management, but the bad luck this hotel had with owners just continued when the hotel was sold in 2004 to Choice Hotels and faced default in 2007. New York investor John Chen bought the property with grand plans of adding a tower and running the hotel as an apartment and office building. That never happened. Rather, this became a rent rooms by the month place and the city shut it down in 2010 for code violations. Durham-based developer Jordan Jones bought the property in 2014 for $200,000 and rebuilt the interior as apartments and opened in 2019 as The Residences at the Prince Charles. The spirit that has watched the comings and goings of all these different eras of ownership is said to be Charlotte. She was a bride who got married at the hotel and got the shock of her life when she walked into the honeymoon suite and found her husband in bed with one of the bridesmaids. She committed suicide by jumping out of a window and is usually seen riding the elevator to the eighth floor where the suite had been located. She likes to mess with the locks on the 8th floor also. The spirits of WWII soldiers were seen in a bar that had been in the hotel. Legend claims that a police officer was murdered on either the 4th or 6th floor and he is said to haunt the hotel.

Sandford House

Sandford House is part of Heritage Square, which is owned and maintained by The Woman's Club of Fayetteville and located at 224 Dick Street. It's officially known as Fayetteville Woman's Club. The house was built in 1797 by John McLeran and was designed in the Colonial Georgian architectural style. Duncan McLeran later bought the house, but he didn't own it long and sold it to John and Sarah Adam in 1804. In 1820, the home became the first federal bank in North Carolina. The namesake for the house, John William Sandford, bought the house in 1832 and returned the house to a private residence and he and his wife, Margaret, lived there with their seven children. Margaret died in 1860 and William remarried and he stayed in the house until his death in 1870. It is believed that Sherman's troops used the house as a barracks during the Union occupation of Fayetteville in 1865. Former Confederate Captain John E.P. Daingerfield bought Sandford House in 1873. He had served as a clerk at the Harpers Ferry arsenal during John Brown's raid. The Captain went on to serve at the Fayetteville Arsenal. He and his wife Matilda had four children, one of whom became a celebrated North Carolina painter, Elliot Daingerfield. Fayetteville belle lillian Taylor became the next owner of the house with her husband A.H. Slocumb. The last family to privately own the house were the Powells. They acquired the house in 1919 and stayed until 1941 and then The Woman's Club of Fayetteville leased the property for 4 years and then they optioned to purchase it and still own it today.

The club used the house to provide shelter for unmarried working women during World War II. The second floor bedrooms were turned into dormitory-style living with 30 women packed into the rooms. The club also offered the lower floor for social functions. 

Hauntings here began during the Civil War and the legend connected to that time is that a young couple was trying to escape the house through a tunnel when they saw Union troops appraoching. The tunnel was blown up, burying them and the woman's ghost has been seen on one of the staircases. People call her the Lady in Black. The young man haunted the dormitory rooms. This spirit could possibly belong to Margaret Sandford though. She is thought to haunt the house because she died in the house and may have been worried about the care of her children, especially after William remarried. Another ghost appears as a young girl who wanders the hallways looking forlorn as though she is in mourning. She is said to be missing her sweetheart who was murdered before the Civil War and buried in a secret underground passageway that led to the Cape Fear River. The entrance to this passageway was in the bank vault. Perhaps this is the tunnel the young couple was escaping through as well? People claim to see indentations on furniture when no one is sitting on the furniture.

Kyle House

The Kyle House at 234 Green Street was built by merchant James Kyle in 1855 and is one of the oldest surviving residences in the city. Kyle was Scottish and had come from Philadelphia to Fayetteville, so when he decided to build his home, he hired a Philadelphia architect and hauled materials by water from Philadelphia. These materials included handmade bricks and hand-hewn support beams. The house was made in the Greek Revival and Italianate architectural styles and features a hipped roof, a widow's walk, fluted Greek columns, wrought-iron balustrade and pilasters. Italian craftsmen created the intricate detail work inside the house. The walls were built with 18-inch thick walls lined with brick to provide fireproofing because the house that stood here before had burned down in the Great Fire of 1831. There were four rooms downstairs and a formal staircase led up to four bedrooms on the second floor. An interesting aspect of the staircase can be seen on the octagonal newel. It's inlaid with a six-pointed mother-of-pearl star Builder's Button that signifies that the house was paid for when completed. The kitchen was in a building in the side yard.

Kyle didn't live in the house, rather he gave it to his daughter Margaret as a wedding present. She and her husband, Dr. J.F. Faulk, lived in the house until after the Civil War and they moved to California, so James Kyle bought back the house and gave it to his younger daughter Annie. After Annie was widowed, she took boarders in the house. The house stayed in the Kyle family until they sold it to the city of Fayetteville in 1963. The city used the house as City Hall until 1991, housing the mayor's office and city administration offices. The house sits next to St. John's Episcopal Church and they bought it from the city in 1991. They renovated the house, modernizing the kitchen and bathrooms and adding a new corridor to connect the parish hall to the rear of the house, and opened it in 2002. The upstairs is used as classrooms and the downstairs hosts events and meetings.

Stories of hauntings here have been told for decades. Many believe that James Kyle haunts the house even though he didn't live in it and they think he was unhappy that his daughter had used it as a boarding house. He is often seen going up and down the stairway. The former Mayor, Bill Hurley, and his staff had machines that would turn on by themselves and furniture would move around. There were icy cold spots and noises that couldn't be explained. They often told stories of their spirited office environment. Former City Manager Roger Stancil saw an apparition and felt cold spots in his office upstairs. During a candlelight tour, a volunteer suffered an awful chill that even a blanket and warm cider couldn't shake. She only lost the chill when she went outside of the house. A great-great-grandson of James Kyle, James Kyle, Jr., had lived in the house until he was in his 20s and he twice saw the ghost of his ancestor.  

Vander Light

This area has its own ghost light known as the Vander Light. Legend claims if you stand on the ridge where the Old Vander Road crosses the railroad tracks and look to the east, you will see a light coming up the tracks. The light is said to belong to a lantern carried by railroad worker Archer Matthews who had been investigating a sound he heard along the track and he slipped, knocking himself out. He fell across the track and when the next train came, he lost his head. Now the lantern is looking for his lost head. Since the 1930s, there have been dozens of reports of people seeing the Vander Light. Skeptics claim that methane gas and electrical charges cause the light or perhaps some kind of a phosphorous gas compound that reacts to produce heat and light. 

Fayetteville is an interesting city with a lot of history reflected in some of their historical structures. Are any of these places haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, August 11, 2022

HGB Ep. 447 - The British Museum

Moment in Oddity - The Two Headed Boy of Bengal

There's a small village in Bengal, India, where a little boy was born in 1783. The midwife assisting the birth was so shocked by the child's appearance that she tried to kill him by throwing the boy into the fire. The baby had two heads. Fortunately, the baby survived with some burns in one eye and ear. Although the parents were shocked, they began to see their baby as a money making opportunity, so they decided to head to Calcutta so their son could be put on exhibit. The young child became very popular garnering requests for private showings by India's noblemen, civil servants and city officials. If this wasn't sad enough, his parents used to cover their son with sheets for long periods of time to keep those who hadn't paid to view the boy from having a peek. Now, although the boy was described as two headed, he did not have two heads growing out of a single neck. Instead, the second skull sat inverted on top of the main skull. The second head had a few irregularities. The ears were malformed, the tongue was small and the lower jaw was diminutive but other than that, both heads were the same size and were covered with black hair at their junction. Although they were fused, the heads did react independently from each other. When the boy laughed or cried the upper head didn't always respond and there were times recorded that when the child slept, the second head would be awake actively viewing their surroundings. Despite being unusual, the boy did not seem to suffer any ill affects from the parasitic twin. One day at the age of 4 the boy's mother left him alone while she fetched water. When she returned, she found her son deceased from a cobra bite. Eventually the boy's corpse was dissected and was found to have two completely independent brains. These types of parasitic twins are known as craniopagus parasiticus, and are an extremely rare type of parasitic twinning that occurs in about 2 to 3 in 5 million births. Typically the twins do not survive birth. Though the boy did die young, the fact that he survived to the age of 4 with this rare form of parasitic twinning only to meet his demise due to a cobra bite, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - Lewis and Clark Expedition Experiences Only Death

In the month of August, on the 20th, in 1804, the Lewis and Clark Expedition suffers its only death. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark had gathered together 35 men to form the Corps of Discovery to explore into the western part of the United States to prepare for Westward Expansion. They were three months into the voyage when Sergeant Charles Floyd became ill for several days. He seemed to get better for awhile, but on August 15th, came down with what they described as a "violent colic...[and] he was sick all night." By the night of August 19th, the young man was close to death and Clark sat up with him trying to make him comfortable. Sergeant Floyd died the next afternoon and the Corps buried him on a high bluff they named Floyds Bluff in his honor. The bluff overlooked a stream that they named Floyds River as well. Modern physicians believe that based on the symptoms described by Lewis and Clark, Sergeant Floyd had acute appendicitis. This was the only death the Corps of Discovery suffered throughout the two year expedition.

The British Museum

The British Museum in London is a site to behold with over thirteen million objects in its vast collections from around the world. Over 17,000 people visit the 14-acre complex every single day, making it the most popular attraction in Great Britain. There is no doubt with the relics and other objects that are here, that a ghost or two might be hanging out due to attachments and such. And keeping in mind that some of these collections should probably be repatriated to their home countries, it's no wonder that spirits may be at unrest. Join us as we explore the history, collections and hauntings at the British Museum!

The British Museum was the first national museum of its kind, meaning it was not owned by a monarchy or private collector. Originally founded in 1753 by an Act of Parliament, the doors officially opened in 1759. The creation of this museum was inspired by a man named Sir Hans Sloane, a London-based doctor and scientist who had a vast collection of curiosities, books, manuscripts, dried plants, drawings and international antiquities. When he died in 1753, he bequeathed it to King George II for the nation of Great Britain. A 17th-century mansion named Montagu House was chosen to house the museum. The house had been built by a Frenchman called Pouget and was the grandest private residence in London at the time. This was the first public building to be electrically lit. Only the well connected were able to get tickets to see the collections until 1830 when the museum was completely opened to the public. It was also around that time that the Montagu House was demolished to make way for the British Museum visitors see today. 

Some of the key artifacts that the museum acquired in the 19th century include the colossal bust of Ramesses II, marble sculptures from the Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens, Assyrian and Babylonian antiquities and the Rosetta Stone. These all laid the foundations for many of the 94 collections at the museum like the Egyptian, Ancient Near Eastern, Animals, Africa and Charles Towneley collection. It was becoming apparent that Montagu House was too small to hold the many objects being acquired by the museum and it was getting too crowded with people as well. This pushed a building committee to form to expand the museum. Architect Sir Robert Smirke, who specialized in the neoclassical style, was assigned the task of designing an addition to the museum on the eastern side and a main building to replace the Montagu House, which was demolished. What came out of Smirke's work was a monumental Greek Revival building with four wings, 43 Greek temple columns, large steps and triangular pediment constructed from concrete, cast-iron framing, London stock brick, Haytor granite and Portland stone. Bits and pieces of the museum opened over time. The King's Library Gallery in the East Wing, which held King George III's collection which included more than 65,000 books, was opened in 1827, although the whole wing wasn't completed until 1831. The West Wing was completed in 1846 and the South Wing in 1847. The forecourt opened in 1852 and the rest of the museum opened to the general public in 1857. The main quadrangle building won the Royal Institute of British Architects' Gold Medal.

All throughout the construction, the museum continued to acquire objects and even started its first overseas excavations in 1840. This was in Asia Minor and recovered the remains of the tombs of the rulers of ancient Lycia. There were more excavations in Assyria and eventually Ashurbanipal's great library of cuneiform tablets was discovered. One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the 4th-century BC Mausoleum of Halikarnassos, was discovered by Charles Newton in 1857. By 1900, the museum again needed more space so property was bought around the museum, houses were demolished and new wings were built. The North Wing opened in 1914 and a conservation laboratory was added in 1920. This latter development was due to damage that some objects suffered after being moved to protect them during World War I. Objects would again be moved during World War II to protect valuable collections from air raids. The Duveen Gallery was indeed heavily damaged by bombing. This was repaired and much of the museum was restored as collections were brought back after the Blitz. There was more expansion in the 1970s and purpose-built galleries were added in 2000. Queen Elizabeth II Great Court opened in 2000, which includes the Reading Room that is open to anyone for reading, and is the largest covered square in Europe. Today the museum has expanded to include the Natural History Museum with 70 million objects and the British Library with 150 million objects. The British Museum has over 13 million objects.

Some of the interesting artifacts here include:

The Gebelein predynastic mummies, which are six naturally mummified bodies that date to 3400 BC. Two were identified as male and one as female, with the others being of undetermined sex. The mummies were found lying on their left sides in the fetal position.

The Battlefield Palette is known by several other names: the Vultures Palette, the Giraffes Palette, or the Lion Palette. Archaeologists believe that this may be the earliest battle scene representation on a ceremonial or ornamental cosmetic palette from ancient Egypt. This dates to around 3100 BC.

Several of the original casing stones from the Great Pyramid of Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

One of the oldest papyri from ancient Egypt.

The Coffin of King Nubkheperre Intef from Thebes dating to 1570 BC.

Fragment of the beard of the Great Sphinx of Giza.

Book of the Dead of Nedjmet with painted offering-vignettes and columns of Hieroglyphic text. Nedjmet was the wife of High Priest of Amun at Thebes.

Brass head of an Ooni of Ife, which was a king in Nigeria. This was actually found by accident.

Bronze statue of the Buddhist goddess Tara found in Sri Lanka.

Chess pieces found on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland that are made from walrus ivory and whales' teeth that date to between 1150 and 1200 AD.

The Nereid Monument is from Turkey and it looks like they brought back the whole thing. This looks like a Greek temple with the columns and between the columns are statues of the Nereids, which were mythical sea-nymphs and daughters of the sea-god Nereus. This dates to around 390-380 BC. 

The Mausoleum of Halikarnassos from Turkey was a tomb built for a king and was regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. This mausoleum stood 131 feet tall and had colossal free-standing statues and marble relief slabs and the pyramid roof was crowned by a four-horse chariot.

One of the Rothschilds left his collection to the museum and it is known as the Waddesdon Bequest. One of the pieces that caught our attention is the Holy Thorn Reliquary. This was fashioned in Paris in 1400 and was made to display a thorn from the crown worn by Jesus at the crucifixion. The thorn is behind a crystal window. Baron Rothschild got it in 1860 and it had been part of the Holy Roman Emperor's Imperial Treasury at one time. There's also this cheeky little guy known as the Huntsman Automaton. He was crafted by Wolf Christoff Ritter of Nuremberg in the early 1600s and is quite rare as most of these didn't survive because they were a part of German drinking parties. These were trick wine cups. There was a mechanism that would propel the cup across a table on three hidden wheels in the base and whomever the automaton stopped in front of, was expected to remove the head and chug the wine inside the body. Way more interesting than beer pong! The Assyria: Nimrud Collection features carved stone panels depicting the king and his subjects doing various activities, but what interested us about this is that one panel features the king engaging in ritual scenes with protective demons. At least that's the way the museum puts it, "protective." Okay, and where's our weird Bible people. Another room is the Assyria: Nineveh Collection. Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian empire and the place God sent Jonah to preach and Jonah decided he didn't want to do that, so God sent a storm that nearly took out the ship he was on and the crew threw him overboard when they realized he was the issue and he ended up in the belly of a giant fish for three days. The stone panels in this collection feature scenes of the transporting of huge sculptures of human-headed winged bulls called lamassu and were located at the entrances of the palace. If you've listened to The Ghost in You Podcast episode about angels, these lamassu actually depict what cherabim probably look like. They had two wings and four faces: one was a lion, another an ox, another an eagle and the last a human.

The Enlightenment Room would be of particular interest to us and our listeners. There is a lot of cool stuff in here that highlights the seven major disciplines of the Enlightenment: the natural world, the birth of archaeology, art and civilization, classifying the world, ancient scripts, ritual and religion, and trade and discovery. The Enlightenment Period was from 1715 to 1789 and people tended to collect sacred objects like charms, amulets and statuary representing ancient Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Indian religions and they also collected items that were used in occult and magical practices. Several artifacts displayed here once belonged to alchemist and occultist John Dee. Dee lived during the Elizabethan period. He was born in 1527 and eventually became an advisor to Queen Elizabeth I, who allowed him to choose her coronation date. He had one of the largest libraries in England, coined the term "British Empire," studied mathematics, astrology, alchemy, divination, Hermeticism and the Enochian language. That last bit is said to be an angelic language. He claimed to have conversations with angels and kept journals full of these dialogues. Dee's items that are here at the museum include his Magic Mirror, Magic Discs, and Crystal Ball. The Magic Mirror is made out of obsidian and came out of Mexico sometime between 1527 and 1530. This sinister looking black mirror was said to have been used by an Aztec priest to conjure visions. Dee used it to talk to angels and pulled it out for many seances. The crystal ball is made from rock crystal and measures only 2 inches in diameter and was also used for talking to angels via scrying. There are also three Magical discs that were made in the late sixteenth-century from wax. There are engravings on these discs that include symbols and inscriptions and Dee called one of them the "Seal of God."

We thought we'd have a little fun and put the term "ghost" into the collections search and we were certainly shocked to find that 333 objects popped up. There were books, clothing, amulets and the number one objects for this word were drawings, most of them Asian. Another common item that came up were these netsukes from Japan. These are little statuettes, many of which are pretty creepy looking. Most seem to date to the early 19th century or Edo Period. We looked up netsuke and they are defined as miniature sculpture that originated in the 17th century in Japan and were initially a simply-carved button fastener on the cords of an inro box. They went on to become these ornately sculpted objects. An inro box is a Japanese case for holding small objects and usually worn around the waist of a kimono. Another item that caught our attention was Number 10 of 32 issues from Volume II of an illustrated periodical of eight pages entitled "The New Casket." How would that not catch our attention? But the headline was what really did it, "The Headless Horseman" and the wood engraved illustration features two men on horses looking like they are talking to each other, but one is holding his head under one arm. This dates to Saturday, March 10th, 1832.

The British Museum has every reason to be haunted. There are hundreds of objects connected to death, the remains of 6,000 people and statues of demons and gods. Stories of hauntings are plentiful. Museum staff and visitors have reported doors opening and closing on their own, dramatic temperature drops, music from another era playing, many times ancient in origin and alarms go off on their own for no reason. A Dutch couple was in the Clocks and Watches gallery and took a picture of a model ship dating to the 16th century from Germany. They saw in the picture a reflection in the glass case of a female little person who was missing clumps of hair and wearing a 16th century dress. When they turned around, there was no one there. When they asked a woman at the information desk about this development, she directed them to the Spiritualist Association of Great Britain. A picture of what was described as a "mummified Mexican baby boy hovering in mid-air" has been taken. Flying pebbles have struck people on the forehead. 

The CCTV revealed a weird occurrence one evening when a security guard closed and bolted a set of double doors. Another security guard radioed him that the doors were open and still needed to be locked. The first security guard was incensed as he knew he had locked them, but when he returned, they were wide open. He locked them again and told the other security guard that he knew he locked those doors. They checked the footage and sure enough, they saw the doors moving on their own.

Phil Heary had been a guide at the museum for nearly 30 years and he had plenty of experiences. He told the MS Amlin website that the upper Egyptian gallery always made him feel very uneasy and the temperature plummeted many times in there for no reason. He related, "One occasion I will never forget was in the early 1990s when, during a visit by Prince Charles and the then Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, I was asked to prepare the gallery before the dignitaries arrived. Heary remembers the room feeling as cold as a freezer, his breath making clouds in the air. And there was a foul smell, he said, which made his stomach turn. When another colleague joined him, the gallery suddenly returned to normal. Soon afterwards, Prince Charles and Mubarak arrived on their tour, oblivious to the eerie goings-on."

An American-born artist named Noah Angell put together an audio guide called Ghost Stories of the British Museum after interviewing several curators, security guards and museum guides. He told The Economist about some of these stories, "In one story, a security guard found himself inexplicably captivated by a 19th-century wooden Congolese sculpture of a dog. Sensing that the sculpture had inanimate powers, he pointed his finger towards it—and fire alarms in the gallery allegedly went off on cue. Other tales include ones of haunted stairwells, a crying caryatid from the Elgin Marbles, and secret powers from statues of the Egyptian goddess Sekhmet." A security guard watching live CCTV footage in 2014 featuring a stairwell near the upper Egyptian Gallery told Angell that he saw huge orbs of light moving in the air and he described them as hovering "completely static in mid-air for three or four seconds. They would chase each other around in circles and zip off into the distance.” He called a couple of other guards to check it out and they found nothing in the stairwell while at the same time, this security guard was still seeing the orbs on the camera.

Angell shared another story from 2004 about an encounter that got violent. A security guard was locking up doors, but he had some trouble when he got to Gallery 42 with ancient Anglo-Saxon artifacts on display. One of the artifacts here is the Sutton Hoo helmet, thought to have been worn by a mighty seventh-century king of East Anglia called Raedwald. The doors would not push closed, so he shoved them hard. Angell said, "When he did, he felt very distinctly that someone’s wrist came out from between the two doors, caught him in his sternum and knocked him a metre or so onto his backside." This was witnessed by another guard. A psychic medium came through the area and explained why there is activity in this gallery. There had been a conversion of the Medieval Christian Relics Gallery into the Islamic Gallery and apparently some spirit keepers told the psychic the following, “Whoever was looking after that, whoever was linked to those objects, maybe more than one person, has got the hump, because you swapped Christianity for Islam, and in the Medieval world, in those times, that was the devil. Because you represent the people who work here [you] are responsible. That’s why the doors closed on you, and that’s why your man was thrown. That’s what it is – you’ve replaced Christianity, you have replaced it with something that’s a devil to us. You displaced us for that.”

A female security guard was down in the storage rooms in the basement, turning off lights when she felt like someone was standing behind her and this is way weird, but she told Angell, "I felt them reach into my body, and grab me by the spine. It sent the most intense chills up and down my spine; my legs went to jelly." A male security guard went down to check out the rooms after she related what happened to her because he thought the story was bull. Same thing happened to him. He described it as something unseen grabbing his spine.

Another weird experience connected to the Egyptian collections is connected to a photo taken of a child. This was in front of a large tableau of hieroglyphics and a large black mass is seen in the picture that seems to be rising out of the floor. The tourists showed the picture to a guard who was quite freaked out by it. Jim Peters, a Collections Manager said, "There was a time when the cleaners refused to clean the cases in the mummy gallery because the mummies would move. So they refused. They genuinely believed that the mummies were moving, and refused to go in there. So, the museum had to do something about it, and get different people in.” The museum tried to explain these occurrences as the cleaners just being a little too aggressive in their cleaning and causing a static charge that caused the cloth to move, making it look like the mummies were moving.

One of the more well known haunted objects at the museum has been dubbed "The Unlucky Mummy." This is actually a coffin lid or mummy board, rather than a mummy. Archaeologists believe it once belonged to a woman of high status who lived sometime between 950-900 BC. The mummy lid was excavated in Thebes and bought by four Englishmen, all of whom died in unfortunate circumstances. That had people calling this object cursed. In the early 20th century, journalist William Thomas Stead wrote about the curse in an article and even regaled his fellow passengers on the Titanic with stories about the Unlucky Mummy. And we all know what happened there. Was this object the real reason the disaster happened?

Museums present us all with some moral issues. These are places where we can learn from and experience the past. On the other hand many places in the world have been vandalized and taken from, so that we can have these objects to put on display and perhaps that has led to some disturbed spirits in these museums. Is the British Museum one of these haunted museums? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, August 4, 2022

HGB Ep. 446 - Southgate-Thompson House

Moment in Oddity - The Leatherman (Suggested by: Mike Rogers)

The Leatherman was a famous vagabond who wore a hand made leather suit including his clothes, shoes, scarf and hat. He traveled regularly between the Connecticut River and the Hudson River from approximately 1857 to 1889. This mysterious man walked a route of 365 miles year after year and was believed to be a French Canadian. Although he was fluent in French, when spoken to he would rarely reply with anything but a grunt or gesture. He would generally return to the towns along his path every five weeks. Residents often considered it an honor that he would chose to accept food and supplies from them, often eating the offerings on their doorsteps. Ten of the towns he traveled through passed ordinances exempting the Leatherman from the state "tramp law" passed in 1879. Despite surviving foul weather and frostbite with all ten fingers and toes intact, his final demise was due to cancer of the mouth because of years of chewing tobacco use. His body was found on March 24, 1889 in Mount Pleasant, New York. He was buried in Sparta Cemetery, on Route 9 in Ossining, New York with his original tombstone reading as follows: FINAL RESTING PLACE OF Jules Bourglay OF LYONS, FRANCE "THE LEATHER MAN" who regularly walked a 365-mile route through Westchester and Connecticut from the Connecticut River to the Hudson living in caves in the years 1858–1889. On May 25, 2011 the Leatherman's remains were exhumed to be moved to a different location within the cemetery. With this exhumation no remains were found so only coffin nails and soil were reinterred within a pine box and the new tombstone simply reads "The Leatherman". Although the original tombstone bared the recorded name of Jules Bourglay, researchers and the death certificate still list this man as "unidentified". A man trekking 365 miles continually for 31 years through harsh weather and being welcomed as an honored guest while barely speaking a word, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - Sue the Tyrannosaurus Rex Discovered

In the month of August, on the 12th, in 1990, the skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex was discovered in South Dakota. This is a fairly recent bit of history, but its cool so we wanted to share it. The incredible find was at the hands of fossil hunter Susan Hendrickson who saw three huge bones jutting out of a cliff. Hendrickson worked for the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research and they paid the man who owned the land, Maurice Williams, $5,000 so they could excavate what turned out to be the largest Tyrannosaurus Rex ever discovered. The Institute planned to build a non-profit museum to display the fossil they named Sue, in honor of the discoverer. They were stopped in their tracks by the U.S. government who sued claiming that the bones had been on federal land. It was found that Williams had traded his land to the Cheyenne River Sioux to avoid paying property taxes and the deal with the Institute was declared invalid. Sue was sold at public auction for $8.36 million to Chicago's Field Museum. Scientists found that the bones were so complete and well-preserved that they were able to find out more about the dinosaurs. One of those things was that Sue had a wishbone, meaning their theories that birds are a type of living dinosaur might just be true.

Southgate-Thompson House

The first image we saw of this place featured this grande dame of a home at night with uplights illuminating the front. With its concave mansard roof and center three-and-a-half-story tower, we could imagine the Addams Family feeling right at home within the walls. For 200 years it's sat above Newport, looming down over the Ohio River. Today, it is a music venue and place for the arts. Stories claim there are at least three spirits in this house. The city of Newport itself has ties to gangsters and a few other haunted places as well. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the Southgate-Thompson House and Newport, Kentucky!

Newport, Kentucky is located at the confluence of the Ohio and Licking Rivers and is today known as an entertainment hub for northern Kentucky. The area was first settled by James Taylor, Jr. in 1791. The official founding of the town came in 1795 and was named for Admiral Christopher Newport who was the commander of the first ship to reach Jamestown, Virginia. One might wonder why they would choose a name connected to Virginia. Taylor's home state was Virginia. The Newport Barracks was established in 1803 and was a center of activity during the Civil War for both sides. Jefferson Davis, General Robert E. Lee and Union General Ulysses S. Grant all served tours of duty at the Newport Barracks. The Campbell County Courthouse went up and eventually became the site of public hangings in the late 1800s. Newport grew so much that by 1900, it was the third largest city in Kentucky. The city was the place to be for speakeasies and illegal alcohol during Prohibition and earned the reputation of being called "Sin City." Gangsters loved this place and some of the main mobsters here were Moe Dalitz, George Remus, Dutch Schultz and Pete Schmidt. A flood wall was built in 1948 because of a catastrophic flood in 1937 that flooded much of the city. There are many bridges in the town that were built to connect to neighboring communities. A little fun fact about the Daniel Carter Beard Bridge is that it is nicknamed "Big Mac" bridge because of it resembles the McDonald's arches.

Richard Southgate was born in 1774 to Captain Wright Southgate and his wife Mary in Manhattan, New York. The Southgate family name came from the ancestors who had been keepers of the south gate in London, England. Richard went to William and Mary College to study law and had the opportunity to hear at the bar men like Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. He moved to Newport in 1795 and was licensed to practice law in 1797. A few years later, he got involved in politics and was elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1803. He then moved on to the Senate for many years. He married Anne Winston Hinde in 1799, who was the daughter of revolutionary war officer Dr. Thomas Hinde. They had eight children and they all lived to adulthood. Squire Grant purchased 1000 acres of land from a William Kennedy in August 1796. This was on the east side of the Licking River. He assigned the land to William Mosby Grant, who, the next day assigned it to Richard Southgate. The Southgates originally built a log house on the property.

Southgate was prosperous enough by 1814 that he was able to build his family a mansion to replace the original house. Construction took until 1821 to complete the house at 24 East 3rd Street. At the time that construction commenced, there were British prisoners at the Newport Barracks who had been captured during the War of 1812. It is believed that some of these prisoners were brought to the property and used to help build the mansion. The entire Southgate property took up a complete city block. The mansion was three stories tall when completed. The first floor had a parlor, library, and dining room. The second floor had bedrooms and ladies’ sitting rooms. The third floor had more bedrooms. The basement had storage and the ballroom. The Southgates enjoyed entertaining people and even hosted future president Abraham Lincoln and a company of soldiers who would fight under Captain Sherman in the Battle of San Jacinto for Texas independence. 

Southgate died on July 24, 1857 at his mansion. He was eighty-three years old and had endured a long illness. Southgate House was passed on to his eldest daughter Frances Mary Taliaferro Parker. Frances and her husband added the entrance tower to the house, as well as the widow's walk and the mansard style roof. Frances bequeathed the house to her eldest daughter, Julia Thompson, in 1869. Julia had married James Thompson in 1855 and they had a son named John. James had attended West Point and graduated in 1851. He went on to become a colonel for the Union during the Civil War. John would follow in his father's footsteps and attend West Point as well, graduating in 1882. He became a 2nd Lieutenant and was assigned to the army Ordinance department in 1890. He later served during the Spanish-American War and got very familiar with the Gatling gun. Automatic firearms fascinated him and he decided to focus on that and became a famous weapons inventor. He helped develop the Springfield 1903 rifle used in World War I and the .45 caliber Colt 1911.

But Thompson's most famous invention was the Thompson submachine gun, which we all know more commonly as the "Tommy Gun." He developed this after World War I and while it was popular with the military during World War II, it was more popular with gangsters. Crime gangs in large cities in the 1930s were able to outgun the police, who eventually started using the guns too. Outgunned, police forces also began using the weapon. John Thompson retired from the military in 1914, after thirty-two years of service. He was buried at West Point when he died in 1940. The Southgate House was sold to Fannie and Lewis Maddux in 1888, so it was no longer in the Southgate/Thompson Family anymore. In 1894, the first meeting of The Keturah Moss Taylor Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution was held at the house. The Knights of Columbus of Campbell County purchased the mansion in 1914. They restored the house and after a fire in 1948, they added a brick porch and a large backroom. A balcony overlooking the basement was also added and this allowed people to overlook the main stage that was installed in the basement. The Thompson House has maintained much of this look from the Knights tenure. 

The Thompson House is today a music venue where up and coming rock and roll bands or musicians perform and even some well known acts perform here. The former ballroom has a horseshoe balcony around it and it is said that all the seats have a great view of the stage from either the balcony or main floor. The first floor was converted to the bar and billiards rooms, known as June's Lounge.  The second floor was converted to a smaller stage for concerts known as The Parlour. The third floor hosts an art gallery. The house is also popular with paranormal enthusiasts Rarely a week goes by without some kind of unexplained activity. Both guests and employees report many experiences and the most common accounts shared entail the movement of inanimate objects. Decorations move along the floor and walls. The bar is probably the most active with these sorts of things as glasses rattle regularly and move across the bar and liquor bottles shake and move. A couple were hanging out in June’s Lounge when a beer slid across the table and ended up in the lap of the young man. Disembodied footsteps and voices are heard as well. And the front door has a way of opening and closing by itself. A piano at the venue likes to play itself when nobody is nearby and knocking is heard on the walls.

People who have had experiences claim that there are three entities in the house. We have our very common Confederate Civil War soldier. During the Civil War, Newport was a gateway to the South. The Newport Barracks was controlled by the Union, but loyalties were divided in the city. Where the barracks used to stand is now General James Taylor Park and it is only a half mile away, so its possible that a soldier spirit could have wandered over from there. During the war, the barracks also served as a hospital and some of the worst casualties from the Battle of Shiloh were brought here. This ghost has made many appearances all throughout the house and has even manifested so well that people have conversations with him thinking that he is just dressed up in a costume. He seems to have a particular fondness for the men's bathroom on the first floor. A man's disembodied laughter is attributed to him too.

Another of the spirits seems to belong to a six-year-old boy. It is claimed that he died in the house, but we have no name for him, so this can't be verified. We only know for sure that the man who built this house died inside of it. The boy runs and plays throughout the house and when people try to chase him down, he disappears.  

The most well known apparition here belongs to a ghost everyone calls Elizabeth and there is an unverified legend connected to her. People believe she was a woman who worked in the house for either the Parkers or the Madduxs. She was married to a man who worked on a riverboat on the Ohio River. The widow's peak on the house gave her a vantage point that she could see the boats down on the river and many days she would find herself up there gazing down on the boat here husband was aboard. One day there was a horrible explosion aboard that riverboat and Elizabeth, unfortunately, witnessed that. The legend ends in tragedy as most do. She was so distraught knowing that there was no way he could have survived, that she hung herself right there in the house. What she didn't know was that her husband had been held up by something in the city that caused him to run late and he was unable to get on the riverboat before it left port, so he had survived. It is more probable that any female spirit here would actually belong to Francis Parker. She had lived here a long time, may have died in the house and loved the house enough that when she bequeathed it to her daughter, she specified that she would be allowed to live in the house until her death. The spirit is thought to be the one that opens and closes the door, as though she is going out for an evening walk. One of the most dramatic stories features a Christmas tree that was set up in between some French doors. This tree was pushed across the floor four feet and left in a corner of the room, without an ornament out of place.

Newport, Kentucky has enough haunts that they have offered ghost tours during the Fall season. We haven't heard any stories about the former Newport Barracks, but it would be a location we would definitely check out. Another spot that has activity for good reason is the memorial known as the World Peace Bell. This is the world's largest free swinging bell and weighs a whopping 66,000 lbs. and measures 12 feet in diameter and 12 feet high. The ring of the bell is described as powerful and awe-inspiring. And while it is meant to be a symbol of peace, spirits are not at peace here. The bell sits atop a former graveyard. One that only had the tombstones moved and not the bodies. The city didn't find out this little "fun fact" until they started digging to install the memorial and workers found bones. Newport was left with a challenge. How in the world could they match up bones with the tombstones that were moved to Evergreen Cemetery in Fort Thomas? They decided to just leave the remains here. So many times, people have had a feeling of unease at the memorial. 

The Newport Syndicate features dining, banquets, entertainment and a Gangster Tour. This was originally the Glenn Schmidt Playtorium, which housed a bowling alley, restaurant and casino. This was owned by local gangster Pete Schmidt who named it for his son Glenn. Schmidt also owned the Glenn Hotel where he ran a distillery out of the basement until police busted that up. After getting out of jail, he opened a casino in the hotel and called it the Glenn Rendezvous. The Cleveland Syndicate wanted to run all the crime in the city, so they offered Schmidt a deal on the hotel, which he refused. He then opened the Beverly Hills Club, which was bigger and better and when he wouldn't sell that to the Cleveland Syndicate, they burned it down. The Playtorium not only had the legal fun, it also catered to prostitution and illegal booze. It was rumored that Schmidt tortured and killed a member of the Purple Gang at the Playtorium. The Purple Gang was also known as the Sugar House Gang and they were out of Detroit. These were mostly Jewish gangsters who were hijackers and bootleggers. It was rumored they took part in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. The place was remodeled in the 1990s and became the Newport Syndicate and people claim it is haunted. There have been dozens of sightings of an apparition wearing a black suit and fedora. Many times, this ghost is acting as a Peeping Tom in the women's restroom. Stories about this spirit go all the way back to the 1960s, when a waitress reported that she was pushed into the sink while in the bathroom. She looked in the mirror and saw this fedora wearing man just before he disappeared.

Melissa Reinert took the ghost tour in 2016 and wrote about it in an article in the Cincinnati Enquirer. She wrote, "Our guide shared the story of a psychic who had taken the tour a few years back. When he reached this corner of the alley he kept saying, 'So many, so many, so many.' When she asked what he was talking about, he replied that looking out the windows of the buildings on either side of the alley were all those who had witnessed mob-related murders that occurred just up the street at Sixth and Monmouth. There were eight murders on that corner and no one was ever brought to justice for any of them. Their souls, the psychic said were stuck there because of guilt."

If all this isn't enough hauntings for you in Newport, Bobby Mackey's Music World is just five miles down the road. Are these places, especially the Southgate-Thompson House haunted? That is for you to decide!