Thursday, October 27, 2022

HGB Ep. 458 - The Legend of Vampires

Moment in Oddity - Floating Violin

I'm sure many of us have heard or used the phrase, "It's the world's smallest violin and it's playing just for you". This is typically said in lack of pity to someone's whining about this, that, or the other. The first pop culture reference was on the TV show M*A*S*H by Major Margaret Houlihan (AKA Hot Lips Houlihan). Now take that tiny violin and flip it on it's ear and imagine the world's LARGEST FLOATING violin. That violin would be named Noah's Violin. The violin was created by Venetian artist Livio De Marchi. The violin was not playable, however, it did host a stringed quartet aboard, playing Vivaldi as it motorboated down Venice's Grand Canal in September of 2021. De Marchi came up with the idea during Italy's lockdown and stated that it represented Venice restarting. Bringing a message of hope, artistically and culturally. Artistry can take so many different forms, but a giant violin watercraft, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - The Completion of Mount Rushmore

In the month of October, on the 31st, in 1941, Mount Rushmore National Monument was completed. In 1923, a South Dakota historian wanted to attract tourists to the state and decided that a sculpture in the Black Hills area may just fit the bill. The historian was Doane (like roan) Robinson and Gutzon Borglum, a Danish-American sculptor was hired to help with the project. Borglum, along with his son, Lincoln, proposed that the sculpture be focused on the Nation and suggested four presidents should be carved. George Washington as the founding father of our nation, Thomas Jefferson for the signing of the Louisiana Purchase and the author the Declaration of Independence, Abraham Lincoln for leading the nation through the Civil War and preserving our country at any cost, and Theodore Roosevelt due to his representation of conservation and the industrial boom. The mountain chosen to be carved was known to the Lakota's as the "Six Grandfathers". The work began in 1927 and until completion, employed more than 400 men which consisted of mostly miners. They may not have been artists, but they knew how to use dynamite and jackhammers. Each president's face is 60 feet high. The original plan was to carve each president to their waist, however, when funds ran out, it was determined that the sculptures were complete on the 31st of October, 1941. Overall, the project cost $989,992.32 and took 14 years to finish.

The Legend of Vampires

Vampire-like creatures have been a part of folklore for centuries. Much of what we believe about vampires has come from fictional works, but is it possible that undead entities that subsist on blood are real? There are several historical figures that either have connections to vampire lore or are cited as possible vampires. Could anyone who consumes blood be considered a vampire?  Join us as we explore the origins of vampire lore and examine stories of reputed vampires!

The folklore surrounding vampirism dates back centuries and the initial vampire-like creatures were basically revenants. A revenant is a human corpse or the undead that rises from its grave. In most stories, the revenant is harmful to humans. Depending on the culture, a revenant can be either a spirit, a walking corpse or a demon. The etymology of the term "vampire" is hard to pin down and there are many theories. Some scholars claim it goes back to the Greek, others claim that it has a Hungarian origin. Balkan countries used words that translated as "wolf fairy." The word vampire was introduced in Germany in 1721. It entered the English lexicon in 1732 and the French in 1737. Where the term started really isn't as interesting as the actual subject. Why did cultures even start coming up with vampire lore?

The creation of these stories basically comes down to a lack of knowledge about disease and decay. The typical human corpse goes through a series of changes as it decomposes. Generally, we would not know about these changes unless we dug somebody up. And that is what they did, dug people up. And the reason this would be done was because someone in town got a wasting disease and villagers assumed that someone was taking the essence out of this person. Rumors would start that somebody had returned from the dead. The disinterred corpse would appear to still have growing hair and nails and blood would possibly be streaming from the mouth or nose. Internal decay causes bloating, forcing blood out of the body and that's why it would look like blood had flown out of a mouth. Nails and hair seemed to continue to grow because the skin would pull back as the body dried. And if the circumstances were right, a body might be preserved for a long period of time. 

Vampire superstition thrived in the Middle Ages, especially as the plague decimated entire towns. The disease often left behind bleeding mouth lesions on its victims, which to the uneducated was a sure sign of vampirism. It wasn’t uncommon for anyone with an unfamiliar physical or emotional illness to be labeled a vampire. Many researchers have pointed to porphyria, a blood disorder that can cause severe blisters on skin that’s exposed to sunlight, as a disease that may have been linked to the vampire legend. In the late 1800s, tuberculosis of the lungs was referred to as consumption because it took a while to kill its victims. They seemed to waste away as they coughed up blood. The ill would grow pale and stop eating. Eventually, they would look almost like what most people would assume a vampire would appear to look like. At one point, one out of four people were dying from the disease. Villagers were positive that a family of vampires was living in their midst. When did these stories start to be told? 

Surprisingly, the belief in vampire-like creatures was very prominent in Arabia. The earliest references found by archaeologists were on Chaldean and Assyrian tablets. Stories were found in Babylonian writing and vampires made it into Roman and Grecian works. Romans started adopting the cremating of bodies to ensure they wouldn't rise again. The Greeks and Romans spread their superstitions to Romania, Hungary, Austria, Poland, the British Isles and even Iceland. The first documented vampire hunt took place in 1345 in France. The aswang was a popular vampire-like creature in Asia starting in the 16th century. Chile had a blood-sucking snake known as a Peuchen. De Graecorum hodie quirundam Opinationabus was published in Greece in 1645 and was considered the first written text on the treatment of vampirism. The height of vampire fever hit Europe from the 1720s to the 1730s (so much for the Age of Enlightenment) and much of the well-known folklore comes out of 18th century Europe. Vampires made it into modern fiction with the publication of "The Vampyre" by the English writer John Polidori in 1819. Vampires got much of their start in America in New England in the late 18th century and early 19th century.

Much of what we have as our vampire lore was developed from Bram Stoker's "Dracula." This tome is really when vampires went from disgusting and horrific looking creatures to charismatic, good-looking and sensual. From the novel "Dracula," we get the following traits of vampires: They are immortal, have the strength of twenty men, they can take the form of an animal like a dog, bat or wolf, have no reflection in a mirror, can appear as a mist, holy water and crosses repel them, cast no shadow, they are pale with lips that can be a deep red depending on whether they have recently fed, they must sleep in dirt from their native land, they can't enter a home unless invited inside and they can change their victims into vampires. It is from the 1922 movie "Nosferatu" that we get the idea that a vampire can be destroyed by sunlight. These are considered the traditional characteristics. Some stories vary from know, like sparkly vampires. The one core characteristic is the need for a vampire to consume blood. 

The story element that one can only become a vampire if they are bitten by a vampire is more of a recent idea. It was actually thought to be possible that one could be born a revenant. Folklorist Paul Barber, wrote in his 2008 book, "Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality" that centuries ago, "Often potential revenants can be identified at birth, usually by some abnormality, some defect, as when a child is born with teeth. Similarly suspicious are children born with an extra nipple (in Romania, for example); with a lack of cartilage in the nose, or a split lower lip (in Russia) … When a child is born with a red caul, or amniotic membrane, covering its head, this was regarded throughout much of Europe as presumptive evidence that it is destined to return from the dead."

There were many superstitious practices taken up after a person died to prevent them from rising from the grave and attacking people. We already mentioned cremation. Sometimes a large stone was crammed in the mouth of the corpse before being buried, so that if the person did rise, they couldn't feed on anybody. In some places, a long nail was driven through the skull of the corpse and other places drove a stake not only into the body, but all the way through to the ground, so they would be pinned down. White thorn or ash wood was popular for making stakes. Iron stakes were also used. An interesting touch at some burials was to plant a thorny wild rose-bush near the body or at least put the stem from such o plant on the body, so that if the body tried to rise, the burial shroud would get entangled and trap the undead person. A corpse's arms might be crossed or a crucifix placed over the body to help prevent re-animation. Burial at four cross-roads was also thought to work. The strangest thing we read was that a corpse could be rubbed with the lard of a pig killed on St. Ignatius' Day to prevent vampirism.

Jure Grando Alilovic

The first historical person to be described as a vampire in records is believed to be Jure Grando Alilović who lived from 1579 to 1656. He lived in what is today Croatia. Jure Grando was called a štrigun, which was something akin to a vampire and a warlock. The legend claims that he died from an illness in 1656 and then rose from the grave every night for many years, terrorizing the people of the town of Kringa. There would be a knock on the door of a house in the village and someone from that house would die shortly thereafter. A priest in the town, Father Giorgio, claimed to come face to face with the vampire and said he held out a cross in front of the vampire and yelled "Behold Jesus Christ, you vampire! Stop tormenting us!" In 1672, the corpse of Jure was dug up and found to be perfectly preserved with a smile on his face. The group of villagers tried to pierce the chest with a hawthorne stick, but it didn't penetrate. They then sawed the head off. The vampire screamed through the process. The region was no longer terrorized.

Vlad the Impaler

Vlad Tepes (Tse-pesh) was also known as Vlad Dracul and he was born in Transylvania, Romania and ruled Walachia, Romania at different times from 1456-1462. Depending on who is telling his story, he was either a hero or a sadistic tyrant who was very cruel. He did fight off the Ottoman Empire for his people. Vlad is most known for his favoring of impaling his enemies, giving him the nickname Vlad the Impaler. Many scholars believe that Bram Stoker named Count Dracula in his novel "Dracula" after Vlad Dracul. The name Dracul comes from the Romanian word for dragon because Vlad II was inducted into the knightly Order of the Dragon. Stories about Vlad claim that he dined among his dying victims and even dipped his bread in their blood. Eighty thousand people were said to have been killed by Vlad. It makes sense that his barbaric reputation would inspire the character of Count Dracula. But he was not a vampire.

Mercy Brown

Mercy Brown was nineteen when she contracted the "galloping" variety of tuberculosis. This meant that the disease moved swiftly. Mercy passed away on January 17, 1892. Her body was placed in a stone crypt awaiting the spring thaw to be buried. Her brother Edwin also had tuberculosis and as his symptoms got worse, the people of the town started blaming a vampire for the Brown family's woes. They were certain that the vampire was living inside one of the Brown graves. This belief was held in more than just the town of Exeter. At least 80 burials have been found in recent years that appear to exhibit signs that people had been exhumed and their bodies desecrated in some way as to stop them from rising from their graves. The patriarch of the family, George Brown, grew desperate as his son became sicker and he started to believe that perhaps the neighbors were right and a vampire was stalking his family. It was decided that they needed to exhume his family members and find out which of them was the vampire. George and Doctor Harold Metcalf exhumed the bodies of George's wife and one of his daughters on March 17, 1892. They were both already skeletal. They next exhumed Mercy's body and it was still fully intact because she had been placed in the cool crypt and it was winter. Decomposition had not really begun. The two men also believe that they found fresh blood on her body. Mercy Brown was the vampire! Mercy's body was cut open and when her organs were found to still be full of blood, everyone was certain that the ritual they were about to embark upon was right. Mercy's heart was removed and burned. The ashes were collected and mixed with water so that Edwin could drink the concoction. It was believed that this would cure Edwin of the vampire attacks and break the spell. Edwin was obviously not cured. Historically, it is recorded that Mercy Brown was the last vampire exhumation.

The Carter Brothers

When taking a Vampire Tour in New Orleans, you will most definitely hear the story of the Carter Brothers. John and Wayne Carter lived in a house in the French Quarter. They kidnapped people, tied them to chairs in their house, slit their wrists open catching the blood in cups and then they drank the blood. They wouldn't completely drain their victims at once. They would leave the home before sunrise and return after dark. They would reopen the wounds at the wrists of their victims and drink the blood. They never did anything to care for their victims, like giving them food or water. They would just let them slowly die. No one knew this was happening until one of their victims managed to escape while the Carter Brothers were gone during the day. This was in 1932 and the victim was a young girl. She ran down Royal Street until she found a police officer. She told him her story and showed him her wrists, but he was skeptical because the story sounded so far-fetched. He did gather a group of officers and they visited the house where they were shocked to find four other victims. They were half dead and tied to chairs with bloody bandaged wrists. Two dead victims were also found wrapped in blankets. The brothers were arrested and they begged to be put to death because they believed they were vampires and couldn't stop what they were doing. They were tried, convicted and executed. Legend claims that when the vault where their bodies were placed was opened a year and a day later, there were no remains. There are actually no records of the Carter Brothers, either in the city or police records. Did they ever exist? There are some who claim that they see the Carter Brothers occasionally in the city. Many times they are reported standing on the second-floor balcony of the home where they used to live. Both thin and smartly dressed.

Let's look at some historical accounts of vampire-like activity. There was a castle in the north of England, where the vampire so frightened all the people that no one ever ventured out of doors between sunset and sunrise. The sons of one of his supposed victims at length opened his grave and pierced his body, from which a great quantity of blood immediately flowed, which plainly proved that a large number of persons had been his victims. In vol. iii. of Borderland by occultist Dr Franz Hartmann he shared a couple of narratives, "A young lady of G—— had an admirer, who asked her in marriage; but as he was a drunkard she refused and married another. Thereupon the lover shot himself, and soon after that event a vampire, assuming his form, visited her frequently at night, especially when her husband was absent. She could not see him, but felt his presence in a way that could leave no room for doubt. The medical faculty did not know what to make of the case; they called it ‘hysterics,’ and tried in vain every remedy in the pharmacopœia, until she at last had the spirit exorcised by a man of strong faith. 

Another case is that of a miller at D—— who had a healthy servant boy, who soon after entering his service began to fail in health. He had a ravenous appetite, but nevertheless grew daily more feeble. Being interrogated, he at last confessed that a thing which he could not see, but which he could plainly feel, came to him every night and sat upon his stomach, drawing all the life out of him, so that he became paralysed for the time being and could neither move nor cry out. Thereupon the miller agreed to share the bed with the boy, and proposed to him that he should give him a certain sign when the vampire arrived. This was done, and when the sign was given the miller grasped the invisible but very tangible substance that rested upon the boy’s stomach, and although it struggled to escape, he grasped it firmly and threw it into the fire. After that the boy recovered his health and there was no repetition of the vampire’s visits."

Dr. Hartmann also contributed the following story to the Occult Review for September 1909, under the title of An Authenticated Vampire Story, "On June 10th, 1909, there appeared in a prominent Vienna paper (the Neues Wiener Journal) a notice saying that the castle of B—— had been burned by the populace, because there was a great mortality among the peasant children, and it was generally believed that this was due to the invasion of a vampire, supposed to be the last Count B——, who died and acquired that reputation. The castle was situated in a wild and desolate part of the Carpathian Mountains, and was formerly a fortification against the Turks. It was not inhabited, owing to its being believed[68] to be in the possession of ghosts; only a wing of it was used as a dwelling for the caretaker and his wife. Now it so happened that, when I read the above notice, I was sitting in a coffee-house at Vienna in company with an old friend of mine who is an experienced occultist and editor of a well-known journal, and who had spent several months in the neighbourhood of the castle. From him I obtained the following account, and it appears that the vampire in question was probably not the old Count, but his beautiful daughter, the Countess Elga, whose photograph, taken from the original painting, I obtained. My friend said: ‘Two years ago I was living at Hermannstadt, and being engaged in engineering a road through the hills, I often came within the vicinity of the old castle, where I made the acquaintance of the old castellan, or caretaker, and his wife, who occupied a part of the wing of the house, almost separate from the main body of the building. They were a quiet old couple and rather reticent in giving information or expressing an opinion in regard to the strange noises which were often heard at night in the deserted halls,[69] or of the apparitions which the Wallachian peasants claimed to have seen when they loitered in the surroundings after dark. All I could gather was that the old Count was a widower and had a beautiful daughter, who was one day killed by a fall from her horse, and that soon after the old man died in some mysterious manner, and the bodies were buried in a solitary graveyard belonging to a neighbouring village. Not long after their death an unusual mortality was noticed among the inhabitants of the village: several children and even some grown people died without any apparent illness; they merely wasted away; and thus a rumour was started that the old Count had become a vampire after his death. There is no doubt that he was not a saint, as he was addicted to drinking, and some shocking tales were in circulation about his conduct and that of his daughter; but whether there was any truth in them, I am not in a position to say."

This is a story from Crete, "Once upon a time the village of Kalikráti, in the district of Sfakia, was haunted by a Katakhanás (Which is the term for vampire there), and the people did not know what man he was or from what part he came. This Katakhanás destroyed both children and full-grown men, and desolated both that village and many others. They had buried him at the church of St George at Kalikráti, and in those times he was regarded as a man of note, and they had built an arch over his grave." So this shepherd comes along and seeks shelter from a storm where this vampire was buried and he and the vampire actually strike up a bit of a friendship that evening, but after the vampire returns from killing people and brings the shepherd a liver, the shepherd "lost no time, but gave information to the priests and others, and they went to the tomb, and there they found the Katakhanás, just as he had been buried. And all people became satisfied that it was he who had done all the evil deeds. On this account they collected a great deal of wood, and they cast him on it, and burnt him. His gossip was not present, but when the Katakhanás was already half-consumed, he, too, came forward in order that he might enjoy the ceremony. And the Katakhanás cast, as it were, a single spot of blood, and it fell on his foot, which wasted away, as if it had been roasted on a fire. On this account they sifted even the ashes, and found the little finger nail of the Katakhanás unburnt, and burnt it too."

At the beginning of the eighteenth century several vampire investigations were held at the instigation of the Bishop of Olmutz. The village of Liebava was particularly infested, and a Hungarian placed himself on the top of the church tower and just before midnight saw a well-known vampire issue from his tomb, and, leaving his winding-sheet behind him, proceed on his rounds. The Hungarian descended from the tower and took away the sheet and ascended the tower again. When the vampire[87] returned he flew into a great fury because of the absence of the sheet. The Hungarian called to him to come up to the tower and fetch it. The vampire mounted the ladder, but just before he reached the top the Hungarian gave him a blow on the head which threw him down to the churchyard. His assailant then descended, cut off the vampire’s head with a hatchet, and from that time the vampire was no more heard of.

These are reports from a cemetery in Bulgaria, "1. A woman of the name of Stana, twenty years of age, who had died three months before, of a three days’ illness following her confinement. She had before[103] her death avowed that she had anointed herself with the blood of a vampire, to liberate herself from his persecution. Nevertheless she had died. Her body was entirely free from decomposition. On opening it the chest was found filled with recently effused blood, and the bowels had exactly the appearance of sound health. The skin and nails of her hands and feet were loose and came off, but underneath were new skin and nails.

2. A woman of the name of Miliza, who had died at the end of a three months’ illness. The body had been buried ninety and odd days. In the chest was liquid blood. The viscera were as in the former instance. The body was declared by a heyduk, who recognised it, to be in better condition and fatter than it had been in the woman’s legitimate lifetime.

3. The body of a child eight years old, that had likewise been buried ninety days; it was in the vampire condition.

4. The son of a heyduk, named Milloc, sixteen years old. The body had lain in the grave nine weeks. He had died after three days’ indisposition, and was in the condition of a vampire.

5. Joachim, likewise the son of a heyduk, seventeen years old. He had died after three days’ illness; had been buried eight weeks and some days; was found in the vampire state.

6. A man of the name of Rusha, who had died of an illness of ten days’ duration and had been six weeks buried, in whom likewise fresh blood was found in the chest.

7. The body of a girl ten years of age who had died two months before. It was likewise in the vampire state, perfectly undecomposed, with blood in the chest.

8. The body of the wife of one Hadnuck, buried seven weeks before; and that of her infant eight weeks old, buried only twenty-one days. They were both in a state of decomposition, though buried in the same ground and closely adjoining the others.

9. A servant, by name Rhade, twenty-three years of age; he had died after an illness of three months’ duration, and the body had been buried five weeks. It was in a state of decomposition.

10. The body of the heyduk Stanco, sixty years of age, who had died six weeks previously. There was much blood and other fluid in the chest and abdomen, and the body was in a vampire condition.

11. Millac, a heyduk, twenty-five years old. The body had been in the earth six weeks. It was also in the vampire condition.

12. Stanjoika, the wife of a heyduk, twenty years old; had died after an illness of three days, and had been buried eighteen. The countenance was florid. There was blood in the chest and in the heart. The viscera were perfectly sound, the skin remarkably flush."

Marita Woywod Crandle owns the Boutique du Vampyre shop in the French Quarter in New Orleans. We loved the shop and while there, we picked up her book "New Orleans Vampires History and Legend" and in there, she shares a story about a visitor to her shop that unnerved her and almost convinced her that vampires may actually exist.

So are there such things as vampires? We guess the answer to this question depends upon the definition used to describe a vampire. If it simply is someone who drinks blood, then the answer is a clear "yes." There are many modern-day Sanguinarians who are vampire lifestylers. These are people involved in consensual relationships with people willing to have their blood drank. There are also spiritual vampires. These are people who drain others of their energy. We've all met a couple of these people. But what about the traditional vampire? The creature that is undead and must drink blood to continue forward. Are they real? Do they exist? That is for you to decide!

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

HGB Halloween Special 2022

Many of us Halloween enthusiasts have a kinship for vintage items with Halloween decorations. They evoke a time in the past that for many of us reminds us of our childhood. On this Halloween Special, we'll share a bit about the history of the things we have loved since childhood - carving pumpkins, wearing costumes, trick or treating - and then talk about the history of vintage decor. 

Carving Pumpkins

Originally, this time of year that we call Halloween was named Samhain and the Gaelics believed that the veil between life and the afterlife got really thin at this time. This gave them the ability to commune with deceased relatives and they would put candles in their windows to help light the way home. When villagers would go from house to house, they would also carry makeshift lanterns with them. They would hollow out gourds and then place candles inside. Turnips and potatoes were mostly used in Europe. There is some folklore connected to how these carved gourds came to be known as Jack-o'Lantern. The Irish shared the Legend of Stingy Jack. Jack got his Stingy nickname because he was just that, stingy. Once, he got stingy with the wrong person, that person being the Devil. Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him, but when it came time to pay, Jack wasn't interested in paying. He came up with an idea. He suggested that the Devil turn himself into a coin and then Jack would pay for the drinks with the coin. The Devil turned into a coin, but instead of paying for the drinks, Jack put the coin in his pocket next to a silver cross he kept there and the Devil was trapped. Eventually, Jack agreed to free him if the Devil promised not to come after his soul for a year. When the year was up, Jack trapped the Devil in a tree by carving a cross on the trunk and Jack agreed to help him down if he promised to leave him alone for 10 years. Jack then died shortly thereafter, but he wasn't allowed into Heaven. The Devil also couldn't take Jack with him because of his promise, so he sent Jack off into the dark. He gave him a piece of coal to light his way and Jack put it inside a carved out turnip. Jack has roamed the Earth ever since. The Irish called him Jack of the Lantern. 

When Europeans came over to America, they continued this custom and the indigenous people introduced them to a much better gourd to use and this was the pumpkin. Putting scary faces on the pumpkins started with young people wanting to do pranks. In Europe, they would take some of these lanterns with faces and walk them around in the dark as though they were floating and claim that this was Stingy Jack. This got even more refined in America where pumpkins looked even more like a disembodied head. By the end of the 19th century, the jack-o'lanterns became a part of Halloween decor. The wife of the Mayor of Atlanta hosted a party in 1892 and she put several carved pumpkins around as decorations, particularly on the porch. The carved pumpkins gained in popularity with vintage Halloween decor and movies like The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, which depicted the Headless Horseman with a flaming pumpkin for a head. And now today, it has become a tradition across the world to carve pumpkins and place them on our front porches or in our windows on Halloween night.

Costumes and Trick-or-Treating

Wearing costumes at Samhain began for the Celts. the purpose of wearing the costumes was to ward off spirits who would be traversing into our world since the Veil between this world and the afterlife was thin. Later, people put on costumes so they could impersonate the dead as they went from house-to-house to get treats in exchange for recitations of poetry or the singing of songs, also known as mumming. In parts of Western Europe, this act of visiting houses was to collect offerings for the dead or to say prayers for them. It would be North America that would turn these traditions into what Halloween is today with parades, costumes and trick-or-treating. This started in the 19th century. Obviously, earlier costumes were designed to be terrifying since they were meant to scare spirits away. And anyone who has seen photos of early costumes knows this to be true. These costumes are truly the things of nightmares.

For many of us, our early costumes were homemade and some of the more popular outfits were not politically correct. There were gypsy costumes and hobos. We've all seen pictures of the costumes worn back when film was in black and white and some of those costumes are the creepiest things we've ever seen. The ones that really bring back an air of nostalgia for those of us in the Crew up in the 1970s and 1980s are the Ben Cooper costumes. Ben Cooper, Inc. was one of the three largest Halloween costume manufacturers in the U.S. between the 1950s and the mid-1980s. The company produced very inexpensive costumes with masks made from plastic and smocks made from vinyl. They were definitely cheap cause we think we nearly ripped all of them at some point while walking in them. Ben cooper was born in New York City in 1906 and started out as an accountant, but jumped over to designing costumes for the theater in 1927. Talk about a career change! Cooper changed his focus to Halloween costumes in the the 1930s as the Great Depression shuttered theaters. He bought A.S. Fishbach, Inc., which was licensed to use Walt Disney characters, and founded Ben Cooper, Inc. in 1942. Cooper got his costumes into Sears and J.C. Penney and Woolworth's. In the 1980s, the company suffered a variety of financial issues, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy twice and eventually was bought out by Rubie's Costume Co. in 1992.

Trick-or-treating in medieval Europe had a Christian twist to it as the church had adopted All Saints Day on November 1st to take the Pagan traditions out of Samhain. The night before became All Hallows Eve, which we now call Halloween. The act of going door-to-door to sing and to gather treats or spiced cakes called soul cakes for the dead was called souling. One of the traditional songs goes this way, "A soul! a soul! a soul-cake! Please good Missis, a soul-cake! An apple, a pear, a plum, or a cherry, any good thing to make us all merry. One for Peter, two for Paul, three for Him who made us all." No one is sure what the original soul cakes were made of, but more modern versions contain flour, butter, egg yolks, fine sugar, milk, vinegar (sometimes), dried fruit, and spices. They are usually decorated with a cross across the top.

Vintage Halloween

We love vintage Halloween! For collectors, the heyday of Vintage Halloween collectibles covers the period from the 1920s to the 1960s. But the vintage look has really undergone a renaissance and has been popping up in various stores over the last couple of years. This is new stuff, but with a nostalgic look. The original vintage came in a variety of styles, from noisemakers to postcards to paper mache lanterns to party decorations to books to candy bowls to home decor to costumes. In the early 1900s, children carried parade sticks as they trick-or-treated. These had various carved designs, like pumpkins, and were lit by a candle. Halloween parties have always been popular, but they had an unprecedented popularity in the 1920s and this continued through the 1930s. Preparations would start in August. Noisemakers were a popular party favor. 

The Dennison Manufacturing Company published Halloween-themed craft and party idea books called Bogie Books from 1909 through the 1930s. A Bogie Book from 1920 says of Halloween that it is the one time "of all the year when an opportunity is supposed to be given for looking into the future and having one's fate settled for the coming twelve months. Why not invite your friends to a Hallowe'en party and join in the fun of trying some of the time-honored ways of finding out what the future holds in store?" The book is full of tips on making that perfect spooky zone and ideas for party games, mostly involving blindfolds and choosing future loves. The books also had ghost stories. Another reads, "The night when mystic spirits are supposed to be abroad and supernatural events take place. What a night for a party! The hostess who entertains on Hallowe'en has a wealth of superstitions and traditions that can supply the ideas, not only for the games and stunts, but also for the decorations. With the Bogie Book to picture decorations, favors and costumes for Hallowe'en harvest time and Thanksgiving, it is very easy to plan and give an unusually delightful party."

Probably the most famous producer of Vintage Halloween is The Beistle (Buy-stul) Company. This company was founded in 1900 by Martin Luther Beistle. Beistle was born in 1875 in Pennsylvania. he married Anna Mary and they had three children. One of his interests was coins and he had a large collection numbering 8,200 of United States half dollars dating from 1794 to 1929. He invented and marketed the "Unique Coin Holder," which was an acetate slide covered cardboard holder used to store coins from 1927-1970. But by far his greatest contribution when it came to paper products was starting The Beistle Company. Before founding the company in his Pittsburgh home's basement, he worked as a salesperson for the Pittsburgh Art Calendar Company. One of the places he tried to sell the calendars was in hotels and he made a keen observation while in the lobby of hotels. All the live plants were dead because nobody would bother to water them. Beistle got the idea to create paper plants and he improved on his design after a trip to Heidelberg, Germany, where he learned a honeycombing technique that could be used to make tissue paper decorations and products. The Beistle company grew and was able to incorporate in 1907.

Eventually Beistle moved the company to Shippensburg, Pennsylvania and it was incredibly successful, surviving the Great Depression and both World Wars. When Beistle died 1935 at just the age of 59, his son-in-law Henry E. Luhrs took over the company and it continues to be run by descendants to this day. The company has made party decorations and novelties for all holidays, but is probably most famous for its Halloween designs. As a matter of fact, the first seasonal decorations decorations added to the catalog were Halloween. This started in 1921 and has continued for over 100 years with over 1000 different designs and decorations. These designs include witches, black cats, bats, owls, spiders and jack o'lanterns. There were also cardboard fortune-telling games that served as Halloween party entertainment. With questions including "Will I soon be engaged?" and "Does my employer like me?" The Halloween designs were so popular, we probably have Beistle to thank for making Halloween so popular. With the popularity of vintage decor, The Beistle Company started Vintage Beistle, with some of the products dating back to the 1920’s with designs over 80 years old. One of the more popular items that has survived through the years and that most of the listeners more than likely know is the 55-inch-long jointed skeleton introduced by Beistle in the 1930s. In mint condition, an original can fetch up to $75 and in the packaging it goes for $150. Black cats were the next popular image to be launched by the company in the 1930s. In the 1950s, Beistle started embracing more fun, kid-friendly designs that featured a ghost and a large owl.

One of the companies to embrace these old Beistle designs is Creepy Co. Kellie Taylor is the founder and creative director of Creepy Co., which got its start on Instagram and has gotten huge from there. Creepy Co. got the license to Beistle and each year since 2016, Creepy Co. has worked with the Beistle Company to produce officially licensed vintage Halloween goodies in the form of pins, shirts and sweaters, patches and throws with the designs. If you aren't signed up for their newsletter, you should rectify that!

We have several listener experiences to share. First, we wanted to start with our neighbors who shared their experiences with us at a Fall Festival our neighborhood hosted.

One of our neighbors had moved here from Beaufort, South Carolina where he had lived in a trailer. One morning he woke up, unable to move and feeling as though something were watching him and holding him down. It was a classic case of sleep paralysis and he was completely terrified.

Another neighbor told us an experience her sister had while visiting Gettysburg. She had stayed at the Farnsworth House and the room they slept in had a picture of General Lee on the wall. The picture fell off the wall and they could not figure out how it picked itself up off the nail. The fireplace also turned on by itself and the door unlocked itself.

Another neighbor had worked at an old theater in Boston. This was your standard historic theater that had hosted plays and then vaudeville acts and finally into the movie era. While he worked there, it had converted back to a community theater. They had a ghost light like all theaters do and this one always acted weird. It would blink all on its own and no matter how many times they changed out the bulb and checked the wiring, it continued to do its own thing, turning off and on by itself as well. Anyone who was left to do the nightly checks before leaving, felt uneasy, especially when having to check that the ghost light was on. They started playing the song "Walk of Life" while doing checks to make themselves fell better.

One of our other neighbors had a lot of stories to share. She feels as though she is sensitive to the other side. The house where they had lived previously was in Indiana and the house was haunted. The sliding glass door opened on its own. They would see a depression in the bed as though something unseen was lying down. The lights in the bathroom would turn off and something had messed with some of the wires in the house. 

Jannae shared an experience, "Hello fearless leaders! My friends and I just got back from a girls weekend down to Mammoth Cave & Lost River Cave in Kentucky. I had two experiences I wanted to share with you. The first was inside Mammoth Cave. As we’ve discussed, I talk to dead people but I try to stay grounded about the whole thing and get validation as much as possible, because it can be surreal.  I get why people are skeptical about this stuff. All of the tours at Mammoth were booked except the self guided tour which is what we did. When we got into the cave, I saw in my head (I’m a Clairvoyant medium so I see them with my minds eye) a shadow figure of a young man walking backwards in front of me like a tour guide. I got the sense that he was late teens / early 20s and I kept hearing the name Steven. (I’m also Clairaudient) He popped up a couple times and I felt like he really knew the caves, but it was a short tour full of other people so I had a hard time concentrating on just him. He seemed to stick around for a while in case I had any questions. After the tour my friends and I went hiking and we found the Old Guides Cemetery. There is a sign posted out front of the cemetery and it briefly discussed the grave of the guide Stephen Bishop.  Well, hello Stephen!

Flash forward to today, I went back through and listened to the HGB episode of Kentucky Caves. Diane discusses the guide Stephen Bishop, who started working in the caves when he was 17, was said to be one of the ghosts there. I believe he was my shadow guide. While at the cemetery I felt a very strong pull off to the left and wandered away from my friends. I put both hands firmly on the black iron fence that surrounds the cemetery and waited. After a couple seconds I felt a hand wrap around my left wrist. It felt very warm. Slowly I looked up and saw a larger man with a broad face and black eyes standing there in front of me. Again, this was in my minds eye. At the same moment I looked up I got a super sharp headache from the top of my right eye down to the side of my nose. Before I saw him I knew he would have an injury to match the pain and he did. It looked almost like an axe wound or something like that. It looked painful and I kept hearing the word “murder.” I tried to ask him if he was murdered but he was frantic and I couldn’t get much more out of him. The headache was becoming too much so I had to ask him to let go and remind him he was not allowed to follow me. The headache dissolved as soon as I was out of sight from the cemetery. I have no idea who the second guy was, but he apparently met an unfortunate end on the grounds somewhere."

And Adrienne shared these.

Finally, we have this interesting thought from John Michaels about the shape of houses.

We hope you all have a great Halloween! Be safe!

Thursday, October 20, 2022

HGB Ep. 457 - Skinwalker Ranch

Moment in Oddity - Alien Trade on the Moon

We oftentimes call ourselves 'weird-kids' and as such, can commonly be found reading up on topics like the paranormal, cryptids and aliens. Most would probably imagine that the topic of alien lifeforms is a relatively 'new' concept for the most part. But would it surprise you to hear that there was a gentleman who, in the 1600s, thought he would make it to the moon to trade with aliens? John Wilkins was a scholar and a founding member of the Royal Society which is the world's oldest national scientific society. It was his belief that the moon and the rest of the planets were all inhabited by alien races. He was determined to build a flying machine to access these alien societies so he could establish trade with them. His goal was to increase the prosperity of Britain through this. One version of Wilkins mode of transport consisted of a type of flying vehicle which, once up in the atmosphere, would be assisted by angels who would pilot the flying machine, either good or bad angels. Apparently he was not particular about which. Although he had lofty goals, suffice it to say, John Wilkins never found any success with this endeavor. At hundreds of years away from the creation of any type of flying machine, let alone an actual car, the thought of being able to coerce an angel into whisking people to different planets, certainly, is odd.

This Month in History - The First Transatlantic Radio Voice Message

In the month of October, on the 21st, in 1915, the first transatlantic radio voice message was made by the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (also known as AT&T) from Virginia to Paris. The word spoken was a simple "HELLO". This came from B. B. Webb who was in Virginia and the message was picked up by an antenna atop the Eiffel Tower. This speech transmission was able to be attempted due to Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel because he wanted to keep the tower that bore his name useful. In 1898, Alexandre had attached an antenna to the tower so that people could conduct experiments in wireless telegraphy. The city had plans to disassemble the tower and turn it into scrap metal but due to Mr. Eiffel's forethought, Paris continued the funding to keep the tower intact. In 1913, Paris and Arlington Virginia had begun exchanging wireless signals, yet it wasn't until eleven years after the 1915 transmission that a two way transatlantic call would occur. Communication has definitely come a long way in the past 107 years. I wonder if Mr. Eiffel could have ever imagined what we'd have available in our back pocket with the ingenuity of cellphones. I know I cannot imagine Paris, without the Eiffel Tower.

Skinwalker Ranch

Skinwalker Ranch is located in the Uintah Basin, an area infused with stories of Spanish mines, legends of buried treasures, remnants of ancient civilizations, UFO activity and tales of strange phenomena like cattle mutilations, cryptids and poltergeists. The ranch covers over 500 acres and has been a source of fascination to the public since the 1990s when stories of strange happenings started being shared. Is there something special about this area and Skinwalker Ranch in particular? Join us as we explore the history and weirdness of Skinwalker Ranch!

The Uintah Basin is fed by the rivers that flow from the Uinta Mountains. These mountains are on the northern border of the Basin and the highest point in Utah is here, Kings Peak. The unique feature of this range is that it runs from east to west. An indigenous tribe that the Basin was named for, the Uintah, traded with the French beaver trappers that came in the early 1800s. All of those who came early on, came for the rich resources. Later, the Ute tribe would be here and a presidential decree established the Northern Ute Indian Reservation in the area. In 1905, the reservation was opened up for homesteading to everyone. People not only came to homestead, but legends of the Old Spanish Gold Mine called to them. There are many variations of stories of outlaws burying their gold at the bottom of a canyon or smugglers hiding their goods within the rocky outcrops. These are the tame legends and myths. Others have a sinister and frightening mystique to them.

Rock art that has been left in the form of pictographs and petroglyphs features symbols, birds and anthropomorphic figures. Native Americans, archaeologists and historians have all been unable to decipher what some of this art is depicting. Some of the symbols and figures are most certainly spiritual. Could some of this art feature things that were seen by previous civilizations? Skinwalker Ranch is named for a specific entity that legend claims hangs out in this region. This is not just an anthropomorphic animal, but rather, a human that can shapeshift into an animal like a wolf, coyote or bear. Indigenous tribes all have legends of witches or medicine people or shaman that can shapeshift into animal creatures. In all variations, these creatures are bad with many considered evil or demonic. Some of these entities develop from a tribe member who did something taboo or used their magical powers for malevolent reasons. Skinwalkers are known as ánti’jhnii (awn ginny) as a classification and each tribe has their own variety. Skinwalkers figure heavily in the legend and lore of the Navajo and in their language they are known as yee naaldlooshii, which literally means “by means of it, it goes on all fours.” Many Navajo won't even say the term "skinwalker" out of fear. It is believed that just saying the word will call one of these creatures to show up. What differentiates a normal wolf from a skinwalker is the skinwalker's ability to walk upright and the sheer size of the creatures. These creatures are said to have glowing blue eyes too. Their abilities include being able to run faster than cars, jump over cliffs and possibly control human minds. Skinwalkers can only be killed by a bullet or knife that has been dipped in white ash.

Skinwalker Ranch obviously got its name because of claims that skinwalkers roam the ranch. There are a number of theories as to why there are skinwalkers on the property. The one connected to the indigenous people claims that there was a hostility between the Navajo and Ute tribes that went back many years. The two tribes fought often and the Ute took many Navajo as slaves. Eventually, the two tribes disputed territory and when the Navajo were forced to leave, they laid a curse on the land. This land is where the ranch is located. This is a legend with no historical proof and doesn't entirely explain why skinwalkers would be attracted to the ranch. Could there be some other source for weird creatures being on the land? There has been enough UFO activity here to lead some to claim that the creatures could be extraterrestrial. There are rumors of portals on the land and there is even one triangular area of the land that really seems to have some kind of anomaly above it. But theories really are meaningless if there aren't skinwalkers on the ranch. What makes people think that these entities are there? The Native Americans in the area believed that Dark Canyon, which is next to Skinwalker Ranch, is where the skinwalkers live.

This all started with the Sherman family, Terry and Gwen and their teenage son and ten-year-old daughter. The Shermans bought the ranch from Kenneth and Edith Myers in 1994. The Myers had owned the property since 1934. Interestingly, the Myers never reported any strange incidents on the ranch. The infamous article "Frequent Fliers" written by Zack Van Eyck appeared in the Deseret News in June of 1996 and shared the experiences of the Shermans, which launched the whole legend of Skinwalker Ranch. Terry said, "For a long time we wondered what we were seeing, if it was something to do with a top-secret project. I don't know really what to think about it...We've seen (the UFOs) enough and we know pretty much what the craft look like, and I think it's definitely associated with the cattle mutilations - when we see the crafts and then the cattle, we have problems. You talk to a lot of people around here that at one time or another have seen something they can't explain. There's been a lot of cattle mutilations, and a lot of them weren't reported. Several (ranchers) told me that when they had a (mutilation), they called the authorities and the authorities couldn't do anything, so it was just a waste of time and effort." 

The UFO activity and cattle mutilations are the main claims by the Sherman family. They saw three varieties of UFOs that included a small boxlike craft with a white light, a 40-foot-long object and a huge ship the size of several football fields. Seven of the Shermans cattle either went missing or were found dead and mutilated. One had a hole cut into the center of its left eyeball and another had its rectum carved out.The ranch also experienced something similar to crop circles. The Deseret News article says, "They once discovered three circles of flattened grass, each about 8 feet across, in a triangular pattern about 30 feet from each other. In a nearby pasture, other strange soil impressions have been found - circles about 3 feet wide and a foot or two deep with the dirt in the center perfectly flattened."

There were many other varieties of paranormal activity on the ranch as well. This included Terry hearing male voices in the air above his head that his dogs reacted to with barking and growling. The family saw strange lights in the sky like blue spheres and large orange circles. These lights would zip around the sky. Weird roars were heard in the woods. And then there were the skinwalkers. Terry and Gwen Sherman saw a terrifying creature that resembled a wolf or coyote, but wasn't entirely either of those. The creature was stalking their livestock pen and grabbed one of the calves in its jaws. So that indicates the size of the creature. It smelled like rotting flesh. First, they tried hitting the creature with a baseball bat and it was unfazed. Terry had guns with him and he told his son to run and grab the handgun. Several shots from the handgun did nothing. Terry had his son fetch a rifle. The blast threw the animal back, but it still seemed to leave it uninjured. The creature did run away and Terry and his son tracked it to a spot where the footprints just stopped, as if it had disappeared. 

Gwen had an experience with the same kind of creature later while she was driving in her car. She saw what looked like a very, very large wolf running beside the car. The head of the wolf was the same height as her window. She also saw what looked like a large brown dog in the distance that had a head much larger than the typical dog. It's eyes glowed blue. Probably the worst thing to happen on the ranch was the death of the Shermans' dog. One day a flying glowing blue orb appeared and terry told his dog to get the orb. The dog chased it into some undergrowth and then yelped really loud and didn't come out of the vegetation. Terry ran over to the area and all he found was scorched earth and strange greasy blobs, which was probably all that was left of the dog. The Shermans had now reached a point where they felt it was unsafe for their family and they decided to sell.

We should point out here that while many people thought the Shermans' claims were a hoax, the family didn't get rich or famous for their claims and even when the stories were originally told in a book, they were referred to as the Gorman family to protect their identity. And while the Skinwalker Ranch is notorious for weird activity, the whole region has unexplained stuff going on with most people having seen at least a UFO or strange lights. Over 400 UFO sightings have been reported going all the way back to the 1950s. Stories of these Skinwalker tracks that go for a little while and then abruptly end are very common as well. 

The next owner was billionaire property magnate Robert Bigelow. He bought the ranch for $200,000 in 1996 and he knew exactly what he was getting. Bigelow was very interested in strange phenomenon of all types. He had heard the stories about the ranch. Prior to buying the property, in 1995, Bigelow founded the National Institute for Discovery Science or NIDS. The organizations purpose was to research and study paranormal topics like UFOs. It specialized in cattle mutilations and black triangle reports. So Skinwalker Ranch was the perfect site to set up a laboratory. The institute disbanded in 2004 and attributed much of what they saw to military aircraft. Bigelow has been reluctant to talk about the research done on the ranch, but that wasn't the case for the scientists that worked there or visitors.

The Hunt for the Skinwalker was published in 2006 and written by Dr. Colm Kelleher and George Knapp. Dr. Kelleher was a biochemist who worked for Bigelow and led the research team. He spent months on the ranch and experienced many unexplained things. Anybody who listens to the radio show Coast to Coast is familiar with George Knapp. He fills in quite a bit for host George Noory. Knapp was an investigative journalist at the time and he was invited to the ranch. He was the only journalist to be invited to do so.  The two men opened the door into the unknown and into Skinwalker Ranch with this book and meticulously shared their findings and experiences. Kelleher claimed in the book that in March of 1997, he saw a large humanoid figure that was perched in a tree. He wrote, "The large creature laid motionless, almost casually, in the tree. The only indication of the beast’s presence was the penetrating yellow light of the unblinking eyes as they stared fixedly back into the light." He felt that the creature was a large bird of prey because after he shot at it with his rifle and it flew off, he found claw marks and imprints on the ground that matched those made by raptors, only much larger.

The research team wanted to document everything at all times, so they built observation posts, set up cameras everywhere and had round-the-clock surveillance. They ran into problems that many paranormal researchers run into and that is having equipment malfunction so that weird activity doesn't get recorded. Some of the equipment would be severely damaged too with wires ripped out. Knapp said of the ranch, "The [Sherman] ranch presented a unique opportunity to study a rich tapestry of strange stuff. It was as if someone had ordered up the weirdness pizza with everything on it." During this time, the ranch manager and his wife had gone out and tagged a calf and a little while later, their dog started acting very strangely. They went out to the field where the dog was and found the newly tagged calf dead. The body cavity was completely empty. There was no blood. The animal had been thoroughly cleaned out and it was broad daylight. The researchers got to the point where they thought that whatever they were dealing with was intelligent and omniscience, basically knowing what the researchers were going to do before they did it. Retired Army Intelligence Officer John Alexander believed that a "pre-cognitive sentient intelligence"  messing with equipment right before they were going to use it.

In 2016, Bigelow sold the ranch for a reported $4.5 million to Brandon Fugal who is Chairman of Colliers International in Utah. Fugal is a prominent businessman and real estate developer in the Intermountain West. Like Bigelow, he has always been fascinated by weird stuff, especially UFOs. He wanted to do his own research on the ranch and now we all get to share in that with the History Channel show "The Secrets of Skinwalker Ranch," which showcases a team of researchers Fugal has put together and the evidence they have captured. The team consists of caretakers Anthropologist Kandus Linde and Technologist Tom Lewis, Manager Jim Morse, Chief Scientist Erik Bard, Superintendent of Skinwalker Ranch Thomas Winterton, Chief Security Officer Bryant Arnold or "Dragon" and engineer Dr. Travis Taylor who has worked with NASA and the Department of Defense. The team has used the most cutting edge technology available and recruited the help of many experts in various fields to shoot rockets into voids in the sky, to decipher rock art, to chant and pray, to dig and so much more. The Command Center is state-of-the-art and monitors everything going on on the ranch. The team has conducted drone aerial surveys, soil surveys and seismic record reviews to try to find a natural reason for the weird phenomenon.

One thing that is very clear with the ranch is that it doesn't like it when people dig there. And yes, we are talking as though it has a personality, but after watching three seasons of this series, it's hard not to believe that the area is a living organism of some sort. Superintendent Thomas was digging one time and he nearly died when he had a weird medical emergency happen to his brain in which his scalp separated from his skull. This was before the series started. Anytime Thomas started to have his head feel bad, the group would get him out of the area. He has not let it scare him away, but its really weird how he is the only one of the group to experience this. There was a visiting engineer who experienced a severe headache and needed to be taken to a safe area when on the ranch. This makes what happens to Thomas more credible.

There are three points of interest on the ranch: Homestead 2, The Mesa and The Triangle. Homestead 2 is an abandoned house that many people believe is haunted. People feel weird out here. A rabbi came out to Homestead 2 and he chanted in Hebrew to open a portal. At the same time, a thermal camera showed a circular vortex that was much colder than everything else in front of the house. They also caught something going through the area that was totally blue, having no heat signature, so it couldn't be an animal. The best way to describe the movement is as though an animal were running through the brush. On another visit, they caught a ball of light with weird trails behind it and this orb moved erratically. They referenced it as some kind of UAP. High levels of radiation were detected out here as well, especially in a well when they first opened it up. Dr. Travis Taylor seemed to develop chemical burns on his face after that as though he got a major shot of radiation. The team keeps getting a 1.6 gigahertz RF Radiation signal and the last time they got it, they picked up some weird audio signals. Every time they get this signal, weird stuff happens or researchers get headaches. On another occasion, Caretaker Tom Lewis and Dragon were out at Homestead 2 and Erik played back an RF signal of 1.6 over a radio for them to listen to and see if it changed the energy at the site. Almost immediately, Tom Lewis fell to the ground and needed to go to the hospital. He was very weak and the doctors weren't sure what had happened to him that made him collapse and needing assistance to walk back to the truck.

The Mesa is very large and has many strange features. Night vision cameras pointed at it seem to show it glowing. It's as if there are a bunch of lights behind it, but of course that is impossible. They have drilled into a void in the Mesa and  hit a large metallic object. The metals retrieved were analyzed and two of the materials were things used on space shuttles tiles. They think there is a dome shaped object buried in the Mesa. Is there a UAP under the dirt and rocks? There is also a formation on top of the Mesa made with rocks that seems to be in a spiral shape. This is interesting because there are spiral petroglyphs on rocks on nearby properties and Native Americans claim that is a symbol for portals. So did an earlier civilization indicate that the Mesa had a portal with this formation? In 2010, a former military guy was on top of the Mesa and he took pictures of canine footprints up there. He also heard a gutteral growl from an animal in a ditch near the mesa.

The Triangle is basically an area the researchers have mapped out that has three points on the ground that come together at a point in the air about 5000 feet up to a mile from the field that looks like a triangle in 3D. At that mile high level, numerous tests seem to have proven that something is sitting there. That has been the greatest mystery here and the focus of much of the research. On one occasion, Dr. Taylor and Erik Bard took a helicopter ride through the anomaly at that mile high range and it was really weird. They went up in a spiral fashion and took readings as they went. Brandon's brother Cameron was the pilot and his radar picked up that something was forty feet under them even though they saw nothing. A camera picked up a shadowy anomaly that crossed under the helicopter, almost imperceptible. Nobody on the ground using binoculars could see anything. A large rocket with a ton of equipment on board was shot up into the center of the anomaly above the triangle one night and something caused it to completely bend off course. At the same time, they caught a UAP that ascended from the mesa and then just vanished. Did it go into a portal?

Kris Porritt was a deputy sheriff and he met with the caretakers to tell his experiences when the Myers family owned the property. The Myers never publically told anyone about weird stuff on the ranch, but clearly it happened because one day Porritt asked Mr. Myers wny he had chains on locks on everything, including the refrigerator in the house. Myers told Porritt that they got visitors. Then he specified that those visitors were alien. Things would come up missing. He didn't necessarily see them, but he could feel them. Screens on the windows would be taken out. The caretakers shared that they experience weird things too and often feel like they are being watched. They would hear strange sounds and voices in the basement and in 2019, Season 1 of the show, they drilled into a wall in the basement and found another room or storage area that had been sealed up. A camera was run inside and they found what looked like bones. Not big ones from what we could see in the images. But strange nonetheless because why was something with bones sealed up in this concrete area. Porritt also shared a story where 3 heifers went missing and were found in a shed, stacked up on top of each other and they appeared dead until they poured water over them and then they seemed to come to life.

In the first year that they were out there, a cow mysteriously died and nothing would go near it. No animals tried to eat it even though it was left out there for months. Veterinarians had a hard time figuring out what killed the animal. The cows have on several occasions gotten spooked as an entire herd and run without any discernible reason what has caused it. Throughout all three seasons, dozens of UAPs have been caught on camera and seen by the naked eye of everybody staying at the ranch and visiting it. There are no contrails, they don't appear on flight maps and they disappear nearly as soon as they are seen. They've identified three different types of these UFO objects: glowing orb-like ones, objects that streak quickly across the sky and darker flying objects.

Diane believes in the possibility of Skinwalkers. She has a couple of theories about what they are, one being that they are some kind of government experiment. More likely is that they could be some kind of chimera created by supernatural forces or entities. Diane is positive there is a portal above the triangle and that there is something inside the Mesa. Kelly shares her thoughts as well.

Some people who have visited have had a hitchhiker effect in which it seems something has followed them home. There are so many stories about the ranch that it is difficult to not believe something strange is happening there. The level of scientific studies conducted and the evidence gathered by the team of "Secrets of Skinwalker Ranch" are very convincing. Is Skinwalker Ranch haunted and a headquarters for unearthly and strange phenomenon? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, October 13, 2022

HGB Ep. 456 - The Conjuring House

Moment in Oddity - Dinosaur Prints Found in Chinese Restaurant

Typically when someone decides to go out for a meal at their favorite restaurant, they expect to enjoy some good eats and nice conversation. Well, that wasn't the case for a restaurant's patron in the province of Sichuan, China. While the diner was seated in the outdoor courtyard, they glanced down at the stone floor and noticed something unusual. It appeared to be a dinosaur footprint. Expert paleontologists were called in to examine the prints. It was determined that the prints were 100 million years old and there were two sets of prints identified. A 3D printer was used to analyze and discover which dinosaurs were responsible for the ancient prints. It turned out that sauropods were the mysterious producers of the footprints. Fossils are not commonly found in Sichuan. These prints were in exceptional condition due to what was located on the property prior to the restaurant. As it turns out, a chicken farm was originally here and during that time, the area was covered with dirt and sand for the hens to lay eggs on. The soil material created padding for the additional preservation of the dinosaur footprints. When the restaurant owners purchased the land they removed the loose soil and upon discovering the natural stone, they liked the look and decided to keep the courtyard in it's natural state. Finding any type of fossil is always exciting, but having chickens aide in any fossils pristine preservation, certainly, is odd.

This Month in History - The Jazz Singer Premiered

In the month of October, on the 6th, in 1927, the first feature length talkie film was premiered. This was The Jazz Singer, starring Al Jolson and May McAvoy. The musical drama was the first to showcase a synchronized recorded musical score, as well as lip-synchronous singing and speech. The film's storyline features a young boy who loves jazz and ragtime and wants to become a performer. The boys father is a cantor and does not approve, kicking his son out after discovering the boy was performing anyway. The Jazz Singer is a romance that has the lead fall in love with another performer, find success as a performer, and ultimately ends with the father forgiving his son prior to passing away. The film was produced by Warner Brothers using the Vitaphone sound-on-disc method which began the end of the silent film era. Although the film was not the first to feature talking and sound, prior releases were only 'short films'. The movie was based on a play by the same title written by Samson Raphaelson and the plot was based on his short story, "The Day of Atonement". The Jazz Singer won several awards and in 1996 it was chosen for preservation in the National Film Registry of "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" motion pictures. This film is also ranked at number ninety by the American Film Institute as one of the best American films of all time.

Conjuring House 

The Farmhouse on Round Top Road. Sounds like a quaint little place to visit. This farmhouse is anything but quaint. This is the location that inspired the movie The Conjuring. The legend of haunting activity at this farmhouse is nearly unbelievable. There are literally hundreds of people who claim to have had strange experiences here. For decades, the home was closed from the public, but since 2019 it has been open to investigations. People who visit claim that it does not disappoint. Join us as we try to unravel the truth behind the history and hauntings of the Conjuring House!

Most people have either seen The Conjuring movie or at least heard of the Conjuring House. This is a case that gained notoriety when Ed and Lorraine Warren got involved and The Conjuring movie features that moment in time when they investigated the property in October of 1973 and the Perron family was living in the farmhouse. Now you all know, when we hear that the Warrens are involved with a case, our fraud hackled go up. But this haunting seems to have enough evidence that it actually might be true that something supernatural is going on at this location. We doubt it has anything to do with demons, but it does seem some spirits have called this home. 

Before diving into this, let's first talk about our thoughts on demon possession and demons.

Let's circle back through the history and see what we can find. First, the house is located in a city that it is made up of villages. The city is Burrillville and the village is Harrisville. Burrillville is named for James Burrill who was born in Providence on April 25, 1772.  He eventually became Attorney General of Rhode Island from 1797 to 1814 and was a member of the State House of Representatives from 1813 to 1816. Burrill was also chief justice of the state supreme court and a US Senator for the state of Rhode Island from 1817 until his death in 1820. He was so important to the state that the town that had originally been called Glocester, decided to change their name to Burrillville to honor the man.

Before this though, the Nipmuc people were here. This was a tribe that spoke an Algonquian language. They helped keep starving European settlers alive and in return, contracted smallpox. As settlers continued to encroach on their land. they joined the King Philip's War and lost and found many of their numbers sold into slavery in the West Indies, so by the late 1670s, the Nipmuc were no longer here. In 1731, the Town of Glocester was incorporated and when Burrillville was founded, its location gave access to many lakes and rivers. That meant this whole area would become mill towns. There was also a lot of farming. Villages were created around the original mill complexes and this is how villages identified themselves. The Nipmuck River was directly north of Harrisville and borders it as it joins the Clear River on its way down to the Blackstone. It was in this village that the Richardson family was deeded land in 1680 and it was surveyed by THE John Smith. This property was more than a thousand acres and was eventually sold off in parcels to other families. The Arnold Family owned this particular parcel and built a large wooden farmhouse here in 1736 that now covers 3,109-square-feet.

The house stayed in the same family for eight generations, but under different names because the women of the family couldn't inherit the property. So from the Arnold Family, the property passed to the Butterworth Family and then to the Kenyon Family. The Perron Family would break the generational ownership when they bought the property in December of 1970. This was Carolyn, Roger and their five daughters: Andrea, Nancy, Christine, Cindy and April. They stayed for a decade and then the Schwartz Family purchased the property in 1980. Norma Sutcliffe became the new owner in 1987 and she was the one who had to endure all the looky lous coming by the property after the Conjuring franchise of movies came out. She had enough by 2019 and sold to Cory and Jen Heinzen who opened up the property to tours and investigations. In May of 2022, Jacqueline Nuñez purchased the property for $1.5 million and she expanded the paranormal and historical business and has a team of tour guides helping with investigations. Nunez, has had a connection to the spiritual side of things her whole life and has had many experiences throughout her life. The Heinzens' daughter Madison is a caretaker of the property. 

The stories of haunting activity began with the Perron Family and the supernatural connection to them seemed to call to Carolyn, the matriarch. She discovered the farm by accident in June of 1970, according to daughter Andrea Perron. Andrea wrote the trilogy "House of Darkness: House of Light" that detailed the experiences her family had during the decade they owned the Conjuring House. Andrea has always struck us as an honest woman. And while the Warrens got involved in this case, which might make some people think that the claims are dubious, Roger - Andrea's father - threw Ed Warren out of his house. That for us, makes the Perron's story more real. We can't explain how the Perrons managed to stay for 10 years or how Norma Sutcliffe managed over 30 years in the house, but based on experiences people have had since the home opened to the public, there can be no doubt that something paranormal is going on at this house.

Let's look at some of the things that the Perrons claimed to experience. Carolyn seemed to get the brunt of any malevolent energy and Andrea said of this, "Whoever the spirit was, she perceived herself to be mistress of the house and she resented the competition my mother posed for that position." The haunting activity began the day they moved in. There were objects that inexplicably launched across rooms and smashed into walls. Many objects also moved from place to place. Carolyn would notice that a broom she had placed in a specific spot would be missing or moved to another spot. Doors open and slammed on their own. Books fell off the shelves in the library. Disembodied spirits were seen by the five Perron daughters, but they seemed to be harmless. Then the energy shifted into a darker space. 

Horrendous smells like decaying flesh were smelled in the house. The girls beds would shake every morning at 5:15 a.m. Andrea said her youngest sister crawled into bed with her the first night they slept in the house and she told Andrea that she was hearing voices around her bed and that they were saying there were seven soldiers buried in the wall. This could be referring to stone walls on the property. Andrea shared an experience Christine had many times, "She’d glance at a window, only to see the woman standing behind her own reflection in the glass. The spirit was always the same. So much taller than the youngster, she stood out in the crowd...No optical illusions involved, no mistaking it for something else beyond the glass, this was an entity. As if standing at the mirror, there she was, right behind the kid, gazing at the glass with her...just watching Christine watching her." Roger felt a cold presence down in the basement whenever he went down there. 

Carolyn started to be physically attacked. Her leg was cut with a what seemed to be a large needle one night. The energy got so bad in the house, that the Perrons sought help and Ed and Lorraine Warren would answer the call. The Warrens were the ones who concluded that the spirit haunting the house was Bathsheba Sherman. They referenced the wound Carolyn got that may have come from a sewing needle as proof. Lorraine conducted a seance and as this went on, Andrea watched from a hiding place. She described what she saw as best she could. The 200 pound table seemed to lift from the floor. It seemed as though her mother became possessed and started speaking in a language she didn't recognize. Then she watched her mother rise out of her chair. Andrea wrote, "I thought I was going to pass out. My mother began to speak a language not of this world, in a voice not her own. Her chair levitated and she was thrown across the room." The seance was stopped and Carolyn went back to being herself. Roger was enraged at what had happened and he ordered the Warrens out of his house. He apparently had knocked out one of Ed's teeth when he punched him before they left.

We have no idea if the Schwartz family or Norma Sutcliffe experienced anything paranormal, but the Heinzens said activity started for them the moment they got ownership of the house. Keep in mind that they were actively seeking activity. They heard disembodied footsteps, heard weird knocking and Cory told the New York Post, "And when I say lights flashing in rooms, it’s rooms that don’t have light in there to begin with." Cory and his family spent the first four months in the house, mostly hanging out in one room, so the spirits could get used to them. That didn't keep a shadow figure from visiting them and Cory said in a Wall Street Journal article, "Once we realized we were both awake and both seeing it, it was gone."

There definitely seems to be spirits in this home, but let's debunk the main one that the movie focused upon. The movie claims that a witch named Bathsheba Sherman caused the malevolent activity. Basically, she was said to be a devil worshipper who had killed two children and hanged herself on the Arnold property. The truth about Bathsheba is that she was born in Rhode Island in 1812. She married a farmer named Judson Sherman in 1844. The Shermans lived on a farm that neighbored the Arnolds and there are stories that a baby died in Bathsheba's care. Stories claim that it appeared that a sewing needle had been thrust into the base of the baby's skull, but a court didn't find her guilty of any wrong doing. There is no court record and no record of the baby's death. The Shermans had four children, only one of whom - a son - made it into adulthood. She never hanged herself. Bathsheba died of old age on May 25, 1885, four years after her husband Judson had passed. There were claims that she was buried on the Arnold property, but her grave is located in the historic cemetery across the street from the fire station and rotary in downtown Harrisville off of Harrisville Main Street and Callahan School Street. So the movie's claims and the Warrens' claims about Bathsheba are untrue. Historians do claim however, that Bathsheba had a bad reputation with the help they had on their farm. She was mean to the staff and might have even beaten or starved them.

So why does there seem to be unexplained activity here? What could be causing this? Other claims that have been made about the house include three suicides - two by hanging, one by poison - two drownings, four men who froze to death and the murder of eleven-year-old Prudence Arnold by farmhand William E. Knowlton. From what we could find, several of the people involved were members of the Arnold family, but the incidents happened at other properties. That doesn't mean that the generational property isn't calling their souls here, but we need to be factual about actual events on the property. Jarvis Smith did die of exposure on the farm.

The website for the Conjuring House claims that there are two spirits in the house for whom they know the identity. The first is a ghost named Abigail Cook Arnold who was the daughter of Martha Hopkins and Sylvanus Cook. She came to live on the Arnold property after marrying farmer John Arnold. They had 14 children together and Abigail lived to the ripe old age of 93 and she was buried in Burrillville. She must have loved the farmhouse because she has stayed and protects it. She warns investigators when a malevolent spirit is around and will either tell those living to "get out" for safety, or perhaps she is telling the mean spirits to leave. The other ghost has been named Mathew K. Through various investigations, the house has pieced together what they can about this individual. Mathew never lived at the house. He ended up here when he was trying to make his way to the light, which makes some investigators think that the property has a portal. Mathew claims to have died in 1888 when he was 27 years old and he was apparently married at the time of his death. Comments he has made through EVP and Spirit Box sessions indicate that he is fun-loving, wonders why women wear pants and that modern music is strange. He once referred to a smart phone as "witchcraft."

Zak Bagans and Ghost Adventures investigated the house for Halloween in 2019. They were joined by Andrea Perron. Zak interviewed a friend of the Heinzens' named Bill Brock. He witnessed a black mist in the house that came together and moved forward and terrified him. He has experienced many things in the house that he can't explain. The Heinzens' son Kyler had an experience that had him leaving the house for two weeks. He told Zak what happened. The thing he saw was a black shadow around midnight and it was moving in the corners of the house. Kyler had been asleep and something had awakened him and he was petrified when he saw the shadow. Zak then had Andrea take the crew into the house and give them a tour. Before entering, she told Zak that Lorraine brought a medium with her that Andrea believed unleashed something in the house that nearly killed her mother. She also feels that Bathsheba is involved in the activity, but I think that has been clearly debunked. The EMF spiked high on the staircase that led to the girls' bedrooms. Later, cell phone footage revealed a light in this room, flashing brightly and then dimming. The crew felt unwell while sitting in the dining room and they felt like they could see dark figures out of the corner of the eyes and they all felt shaky. This clearly could all just be a result of anxiety. 

Keith and Carl Johnson were investigators that came to the Perron house before the Warrens. Carolyn saw their ad in a paper and called them to come help. They joined the crew for the investigation and told Zak that they immediately felt foreboding feelings the minute they got out of the car. The Johnsons heard something shuffling around in the empty bedrooms overhead. Carl later saw something dark and shapeless coming down from the bedrooms towards him. Keith used the name Jesus and an open window came slamming down closed and shook the house. This was a window that had been stuck open from the August heat. They brought some older equipment to use during the investigation, which included Polaroids and old tape recorders. Carl and Zak felt a cold air mass in a bedroom and there was that electric pins and needle feel and the hair on Carl's arm was sticking up. The whole group heard a growl after Keith said a protective blessing and the camera caught it. The SLS Camera mapped out two figures in the doorway of a room near where Zak was sitting. A Polaroid seemed to show a black mass, but it really could have been a human shadow too. Carl saw this black mass move in a room and then hover over him and then he almost seemd to be taken over by something. Of course, none of this could be proven with any devices, so we have to just believe that it wasn't all an act.

Julie Jordan wrote for People Magazine in October 2021, "Around 11 p.m., we started our investigation in the library and turned off all the lights. Within minutes a nearby motion detector was triggered repeatedly for no apparent reason. There were also loud creaks in the living room as if someone was walking by.  Upstairs we sat down in the bedroom where the attacks took place. Again a motion detector went off and we saw a ball of light in a corner where there was no obvious source. Shadows seemed to be closing in on us and our terror prompted us to all pile in the bed. What can I say? There's just something about four grown women snuggling together that can clearly make things feel a lot less scary. Downstairs in the basement was a lesson in just how hard it is to navigate in the dark. All of your senses become heightened and every little noise causes a jump scare. And don't get us started on how many snake skins dangle from the foundation, left exactly where their former occupants discarded them. As we were standing in a room next to an old well, a table somehow shifted into Liz's leg even though no one was next to it."  

Joe Nickell wrote an article for the Skeptical Inquirer after visiting the house in 2016 when Norma Sutcliffe opened the house. He felt that he was able to debunk many of the claims that Andrea Perron made in her book. Doors that opened on their own were most likely due to being warped from time and weather and having antique latches that didn't hold properly. Norma said that she and her husband Gerry had to fix some of them when they moved in. Apparitions Carolyn saw in her room were blamed on sleep paralysis. Fly infestations in Winter were blamed on cluster flies. The University of New Hampshire describes them in this way, "The large sluggish flies known as cluster or “attic" flies (Pollenia rudis and relatives) often invade New Hampshire homes in fall and turn into wintertime pests. They are particularly noticeable on warm winter days when they become active and find their way into living quarters. Just when you think you have them under control, more appear the next day, creating the impression they are breeding inside the house. In reality, they are only using your home as a place to spend winter and do not cause damage to the buildings, furniture, or occupants." Nickell doesn't believe that anything paranormal happened to the Perrons. But how about you all?

The Conjuring House certainly has a big reputation when it comes to claims of paranormal activity. One has to wonder if its the people that cause the haunting or is the property itself actually haunted? Is there even a haunting going on here? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, October 6, 2022

HGB Ep. 455 - Haunted Cemeteries 24

Moment in Oddity - The Curse of the Uluru Rocks

Many of us, when visiting a unique location will have the desire to bring home a souvenir. Whether it be from a souvenir shop, or a piece of nature. I myself have collected interesting rocks from travels and usually label the bottom of them to be able to recall the location visited, years later. However, I've never collected any items that have laid upon me any sort of curse (that I know of). Let me direct your attention to Uluru, Australia. Australia’s Uluru-Kata Tjuta (Cat-tuh Cheetah) National Park is home to the iconic geologic formation known as Uluru or Ayer's (Eye-yurs) Rock. It is said that if you collect a rock from this location, a curse will be laid upon you. Curses of bad luck upon rock collectors has been such a frequent occurrence that park rangers actually have a name for rocks that are returned via mail as "Sorry Rocks". The largest of these was a whopping 70 lbs! Typically these rocks are returned with an apology letter and request to be rid of the sudden bad luck. Some offenders return the rocks out of guilt as well because the land is sacred to the indigenous Anangu (Ahn-nang-goo) people, and stealing the rocks is similar to stealing an icon from a church. On average, park rangers receive one package of 'sorry rocks' per day which lends credence to the potential curse. Regardless of what one believes, a National Park receiving a package of rocks in the mail each and every day, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - Johnny Carson Becomes Host of Tonight Show

On the first of October, in 1962, Johnny Carson took over from Jack Parr as the new late night host of The Tonight Show. Most people these days have heard of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson due to the longevity of the show. Carson hosted for three decades and garnered a large audience. In addition to interviews with the day’s biggest movie and TV stars, as well as athletes, politicians, singers, comedians and animal acts, Carson's show wove in quite a bit of humor. From his jovial stage presence, to his opening monologue jokes and signature golf swing, Johnny was a favorite of many viewers. Along with his repeated well known skits as the elderly Aunt Blabby and Carnac the Magnificent, Johnny had hilarious banter with sidekick Ed McMahon and band leader Doc Severinsen. Carson had a large influence on major changes in the entertainment industry like when his show moved from New York to Burbank, CA in 1972. This brought with it the change in popularity from Broadway to Hollywood. After three successful decades of hosting The Tonight Show, Johnny made the decision to retire and on May 22, 1992, Carson hosted his final show. Once retired he chose to remain out of the spotlight for the most part. Sadly, on January 23, 2005, the late-night TV legend died at the age of 79 of complications from emphysema. I'm certain he is still missed by many, to this day.

Haunted Cemeteries 24

Every cemetery is as unique as the people who are buried within. Tombstones stand in silent vigil over final resting places. Some markers are made from stone, others from simple wood. Many are professionally etched, but a handful are lovingly hand carved. All are a testament to a life lived, some well and some not so well. All with value. On this episode, we feature cemeteries in the Middle East, South Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and Canada. Join us for Haunted Cemeteries 24!

Wadi al-Salaam (Suggested by: Chelsea Flowers)

Before we discuss the haunted cemeteries, we want to talk about the largest cemetery in the world. This cemetery is Wadi al-Salaam, which translates to Valley of Peace.  The cemetery covers nearly 1500 acres with more than 6 million bodies interred. Burials continue today with up to 50,000 bodies annually from both Iran and Iraq. The cemetery has many catacombs and each crypt can hold up to 50 bodies. Ancient Mesopotamian cities all had cemeteries like this with lots and lots of tombs. Millions of people visit the cemetery every year and the most visited mausoleum is Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr's final resting spot. No one is sure when it was established, but the claim is that this goes back to Abraham and that he bought land here. The shrine of Ali ibn Abi Talib, the first Shia Imam, is nearby and legend claims he said the Wadi Al-Salaam was a part of heaven. Shia Muslims believe that Ali can intercede for the dead while their soul is passing into the afterlife. Anyone buried in this cemetery will be raised from the dead on judgment day, so it is easy to understand why so many people want this to be their final resting place. Before a body is buried, it is washed and wrapped at the cemetery, funeral prayers are said at the Ali shrine and the body is carried around the shrine three times.

Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston, South Carolina (Suggested and Research Help by: Savannah Marchione)

Magnolia Cemetery is one of America's most beautiful and historic Victorian era garden cemeteries, located at 70 Cunnington Avenue in Charleston, South Carolina. This started as a 1500 acre rice plantation known as Magnolia Umbra Plantation that was established by Colonel William Cunnington. The house he built between 1798 and 1805 still stands in the cemetery and serves as the administrative offices of Magnolia Cemetery Trust. This home was built in the Federal style and features five rooms. The plantation was run on the backs of over 200 enslaved people. In the mid-1800s, the rural cemetery movement was taking root and Colonel Cunnington was approached by the Magnolia Cemetery Trust, that had formed in 1849, and they asked to buy the land. The cemetery was officially established in 1850 and named Magnolia in honor of the plantation. The cemetery was designed by Charleston architects Edward C. Jones and Francis D. Lee. Stonecutters William T., Edwin R., and Robert D. White sculpted many of the gravestones and monuments. The grounds also held numerous lakes, bridges, locks to control water, islands, forests and marshlands. Some of these garden elements no longer exist. The cemetery nearly went bankrupt shortly after opening, but the Civil War started and soon lots of plots were needed. Around 2200 Confederate soldiers are buried here in an area called the Soldier's Ground.

In the early years, there had been a gothic chapel in the cemetery that was also designed by Edward C. Jones. The chapel stopped being used in 1876. There was also a porter's lodge at the entrance of the cemetery, which was demolished in 1868 after the Civil War because it was heavily damaged during occupation by Union forces. A live oak tree on the property not only witnessed that occupation, but much more since it is estimated to be 500 years old. People call it The Grandfather Oak. Like many older cemeteries, this one had a receiving tomb that still stands today. This tomb was designed to hold four bodies, but during the Civil War, they crammed up to 25 bodies in there as they waited for coffins and burial plots. Families were charged $25 a month for the bodies to wait in the tomb. This fell into disuse after embalming became the normal practice after death. A man named William Burroughs Smith was stored in the tomb for 30 months. Savannah said of the tomb, "I've heard stories from people that say they see a tall man in blue standing near the tomb, and what I find interesting is the last to tours I've done in the cemetery, we've had heat storms and bolts of lightning have either struck the building or right over the building with a loud cracking boom. Now I don't think the two have anything to do with one another but I thought it was odd, especially since that would be the only time we would see lightning." 

Some of the notable graves here belong to well known Charleston families:  Frost, Rhett, Jenkins, Legare, Bennett, Manigault, Middleton, Gibbes, and Lowndes. George Washington's nephew William, who was a Revolutionary War hero, is buried here. Robert E. Lee's grandson, Robert E. Lee III, is buried here because he married a girl from Charleston. The Washington Light Infantry has a monument as well. There is a mausoleum in the shape of a pyramid. This mausoleum belongs to William B Smith and his wife. The door is now made from oxidized metalwork and the opposite side has a stained glass window. The steps leading to the door are flanked by swords with butterflies below them.

The Elbert Jones Monument is amazing! This is a Gothic Revival tower that stands 20 feet tall and sits on a multi-level pedestal with multiple design elements that include spires and angel statuary. This was the first large private monument to be placed in the cemetery and this was in 1852. Elbert Jones wasn't from Charleston, he was from San Francisco. He had made his fortune there during the gold rush, selling supplies to gold diggers. He had a wife named Sara who was from Havana, Cuba. She had gone there to give birth to their daughter and she was going to be coming back through Charleston on her way home to San Francisco. Jones decided to surprise her by meeting her there. Unfortunately, he contracted yellow fever while there while he waited for her to arrive. He died before Sara and their daughter arrived. The tower has markers on three sides, one for Elbert, one for Sara and one for their son Charlie. The daughter refused to be buried here because she felt the south took her father from her. She is buried in New York.  On Elbert's side of the monument there is an area of the stairs that look glued together and this is because there are stairs that go down into a crypt with shelves for the caskets. Jones is thought to be one of the ghosts here. People have said they've seen a man walking around the gate looking lost and perplexed, and one person has said that they have had a gentleman come up to them and ask where the Charleston Harbor is and is looking for his young family and needs directions.

The H.L. Hunley was a submarine that arrived in Charleston in August of 1863. It was named for Horace Hunley who helped finance it. The submarine was placed in the harbor to begin testing that didn't go well. The Confederates were frustrated with how long it was taking the designers to finish tests, so they seized the submarine. The Hunley was taken to Fort Johnson and then left for its first attack. The hatch was open on the submarine, which caused it to sink. There are two stories as to what caused water to get in the hatch. One claims that a passing ship caused a wake that filled the sub with water. Another story claims that the mooring lines of another ship became tangled with the sub and pulled it onto its side. There were eight men on board. Two escaped from the inside and another was on top of the submarine, so easily got free. Five men perished. After several weeks, the submarine was retrieved and given back to Hunley. He brought it back to the harbor and scheduled a demonstration. He was the captain and joined by seven other men. Hunley claimed that the submarine would dive under the CSS Indian Chief and surface on the other side. The submarine went under and wasn't seen again for weeks. The bow was buried in the mud and chains and ropes were used to hoist it to the surface. All men were lost and Hunley was still clutching a candle. The forward ballast tank valve had been left open, which flooded the submarine. The crews from both tragic accidents are buried at a memorial in the cemetery. 

A couple of the hauntings here are connected to the graves of children. The first belongs to Rosalie Raymond White. She was born in Charleston in January of 1882 and passed away 7 months later in September 1882 from yellow fever. The plot features a bassinet and a death mask. Legend claims if you visit Rose and place baby toys or change on her bassinet, good fortune will follow you with an easy pregnancy. People claim that Rose is an active spirit. Savannah wrote, "Several times when I have visited there I have heard what sounded like a baby crying, but it was a soft cry and one that sounded like a 'I'm just saying a hello,' if that makes any sense, and I've also heard cooing, and a soft baby giggle. I've heard stories from the tour guides that they've had pregnant women say that they've felt their stomachs being rubbed and one woman said it felt like a little kid was softly patting her stomach, and other women feel a presence of a baby around this area. Rose and her entire family are all together in a brass gated section of the cemetery, I think there are like 10 different headstones.  Interestingly enough I believe Rose and 1 other child's grave are the only 2 that have the death mask, I'm like 90% positive about that."

The other child's grave belongs to a little girl named Annie. She died at the age of 2 or 3 from yellow fever. Annie is a very kind and friendly spirit. Savannah wrote, "If you do the night tour and you are off to the side or to the back of the group and you are a woman, she will come up to you and hold your hand or you'll feel something hug your legs as if a toddler came up to you to hug you. I had heard a rumor that she liked dogs, so I decided to test it out one day. I have a 110lb Saint Bernard, Black Lab, Weimaraner mix, named Bandit. So I had taken him out of the car and he was all excited and kinda zooming around smelling all the smells and peeing on every blade of grass that he came in contact with, like every dog does. Then I noticed he kinda seemed to slow down and kinda stopped and at this point I'm over looking at another grave, so I turned back around to see where he was at and I stopped dead in my tracks and I see that he had gotten into the family section and was laying in the grass on his back, belly up with this big ole grin on his face, and it seemed like he was getting his belly rubbed and as soon as I go to grab my phone to take a picture, he hops up and comes barreling back to me. I really wish I was making this up, but I was just in shock, so I simply said, 'Thank you, Annie. I hope you enjoyed playing with Bandit." 

About three months later, I had my sister-in-law with me and we had Bandit with us, so I had let him out of the car like I had done three months prior and sure enough, we went to leave and I went go find Bandit, and there he was again, belly up with that same dopey Bandit grin laying right next to Annie's grave. So I again walked over to Annie's grave and stood outside the iron gate and said thank you for keeping Bandit company, Annie, he really enjoyed it. This next part is what gave me the biggest jump scare I've had, when my sister-in-law grabbed my arm and very quietly said something or someone is patting my leg and it feels like a toddlers hand. I was in awe, but very nervous at the same time. And Bandit, as calm as could be, walked over to Val, my sister-in-law and just gently leaned against her without putting all his weight into her and just started wagging his tail. And I looked down at him and he had that dopey grin again. So now, every time I go to Magnolia I always take Bandit and I always know where I will be able to find him."

Camp Chase Cemetery

Camp Chase was established in 1861 in Columbus, Ohio to replace Camp Jackson, which was much smaller. This was named for former Ohio Governor Salmon P. Chase, who at the time was serving as President Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury. This served as a training camp for the Ohio volunteer army soldiers, a muster outpost, a parole camp and a prisoner-of-war camp. Between 1861 to 1865, 150,000 Union soldiers and 25,000 Confederate prisoners passed through its gates. There were 9,400 men being held as prisoners near the end of the war. Some of these prisoners were Kentucky and Western Virginia civilians suspected of supporting secession and one of those prisoners was three-term United States Congressman Richard Henry Stanton. Other prisoners were Confederate soldiers that took part in Morgan's Raid in 1863.The camp closed in 1865 and buildings were dismantled so that the materials could be used to build other places like the National Asylum for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in Dayton, Ohio. The former Camp Chase is now a residential and commercial area called Westgate.

More than 2,200 Confederates were buried in the Camp Chase Cemetery, which covers two acres. These men had died from starvation or one of the many disease outbreaks at the prison like smallpox. In 1895, former Union soldier William H. Knauss organized the first memorial service at the cemetery. In 1902, the Confederate Soldier Memorial was dedicated. Regular memorial services have been held annually. The spirit here is called The Lady in Gray. She is reportedly looking for her lost love's burial in the cemetery. She appears as a young woman of around twenty, dressed in gray and carrying a white handkerchief. Sometimes she leaves fresh flowers on the grave of a Confederate soldier.

Lake Forest Cemetery in Michigan (Suggested by: Jim Featherstone)

Lake Forest Cemetery is the oldest graveyard in Grand Haven, Michigan and had its first burial in 1873. Many of the founders of Grand Haven are buried here. The town was established along the Grand River and Lake Michigan and was an important port. The first cemetery here was in what is now Central Park and had to be removed because the city's bustling downtown started to bump up against this land of the dead. The land for Lake Forest had been purchased outside of town in 1862 with plans to build a garden cemetery. The highest point of the cemetery was designated Ferry Hill and this is where the pioneers are buried. These bodies were moved from the original cemetery to Lake Forest. 

The other bodies were moved too, but it took a while because people had to be bribed with a free burial plot in this new cemetery to get them to move bodies. And if family and friends weren't around to move bodies, they may not have been moved. Amberrose Hammond writes in her book Ghosts and Legends of Michigan's West Coast about a couple of newspaper articles that read, "In plowing today, they came across the brick foundation of what was probably once a vault in the old cemetery that used to be located there. Several human bones were also found" and "A human skeleton was found this afternoon by the city employees at work grading the city park. The bones were gathered together and it was suggested that they be cleaned and taken by the school. On the skull was found considerable hair of reddish color, despite the fact that the body had been buried 25 years. It is believed that still more skeletons will be found."

There are three hauntings connected to this cemetery: The Ghost of Kate Koopman, The Blue Man and the Potter's Field. The Blue Man is usually seen on Ferry Hill, which was named for Reverend William Ferry who died in 1867. People believe that this bluish ghost is Ferry. The graves have been desecrated at times and this spirit seems to be guarding the area. The stories of the Blue Man started as far back as the 1960s with high school students claiming to see a blue light coming from Duncan's Woods. This is a wooded area that borders the cemetery and is named for the Duncan Family who donated the area to the city. The family is buried nearby. The blue light would dance through the woods and into the cemetery. The stories continued into the 1970s, but eventually morphed into this bluish mist rising from Ferry Hill. There are stairs leading up to Ferry Hill and the rumors about these stairs match those of stairs in other cemeteries. This must be some kind of stairway to Hell. Legend claims that you will have a vision of your death when you reach the top. And another story claims that anyone buried here will have their soul climb the stairs. If they see a white light when they get to the top, then they move on to Heaven. But if there is no light, the soul has to trudge back down the stairs and wait for their trip to Hell.

The Potter's Field here is similar to other cemeteries. This is an open area of land with very few tombstones. One part of this is probably a mass grave that has estimates of holding around 1,500 bodies. Hammond shares an experience a psychic friend of her's had, "I took somebody who claimed to be psychic on a walk past Potter's Field one day. This person wasn't told anything about the history of this spot in the cemetery beforehand. As we walked, he stopped and said, 'wait a minute; what's going on here.' The only way he could describe what he was seeing was how he said he saw oil slicks just moving through the air above him."

And then there is the spirit of Kate Koopman. She is buried here in the cemetery. She was married to a saloon owner named Peter Koopman in the early 1920s. Peter came home one night and killed Kate in their home. That home is a consignment shop today and unexplained stuff has been going on in the store for years. Piles of clothes left the night before would be put away. An employee saw a full-bodied apparition coming down the stairs, which is where Kate had died. The spirit disappeared. Another employee named Yvonne said, "I saw her standing and looking out one of the upstairs windows. I've also seen her in one of the upstairs rooms where we sell our formal wear. When I come into work each day, I unlock the door, and the first thing I say is, 'Hi Kate.'" As to whether Kate haunts her burial, we haven't found any evidence.

Girls School Cemetery in Illinois (Suggested by: Jim Featherstone)

The Illinois State Industrial School for Girls used to be located around 764 Fox Run Drive in Geneva, Illinois. The complex had been comprised of colonial-style cottages and service buildings, surrounded by a fence. All that remains are these 51 graves, which are located between two houses. The school was basically a place for girls who were deemed “wayward.” The complex was built in the early 1900s and ran until the 1970s. The school was anything but that. This was basically a prison with locked doors and windows with bars. There was even a "hole" here for solitary confinement. This and beatings were used to punish any kind of minor infraction. An insider told Chicago journalists that whips and handcuffs were used on the girls. One of the things that got girls placed here was getting pregnant out of wedlock. They would stay here until they had their child and then the baby would be taken from the mother and she wouldn't see it again. After the institution was closed in 1978, the buildings were torn down, but the cemetery remained. The subdivision maintains the cemetery, which has burials for some of the girls and some babies. People claim to see glowing red eyes in the cemetery at night, especially up in the trees. And there is a figure in white that is seen walking in the cemetery. Sometimes this figure runs and cries.

Deadman's Island

Deadman's Island has a history of death. There has been slaughter here and the island itself was a giant burial ground. Deadman's Island is off of Vancouver, British Columbia in Coal Harbor. The island was officially designated as Deadman Island by the Geographical Names Board of Canada in 1937. When the indigenous people used this as a burial ground, they called it skwtsa7s, meaning "island." The name is Squamish. They had a unique form of burial in which their dead were put in red cedar boxes and hung in trees. Many of the First Nation people conducted burials this way. Coming upon burials like this should have caused explorers to turn around and leave, but that wasn't the case for John Morton. He visited the island in 1862. He either found a coffin that had fallen and opened, or he helped get it that way, and he found bones with a tassel of black hair. Morton attempted to buy the island, but Chief Capilano who lead the Squamish from 1895 to 1910 changed his mind when he told Morton about something even more troubling than just a burial ground. There was a lot of blood spilled on this island.

In the 1700s, there were two warring tribes that met up on the island. These were a Northern and a Southern Salish tribe. The Southern group got the upper hand and took women, children and elders as hostages. The Northern group tried to negotiate a peaceful exchange, but the hostages were slaughtered. Another 200 Northern warriors were killed in fighting. From that time, the island has been thought of as cursed. This is why it became a burial ground because no one wanted to live here. This went from a native cemetery to a European cemetery as settlers came to areas around the island. Mountain View Cemetery was established in 1887 and this then became the only cemetery in Vancouver and no more burials took place on the island. All sorts were buried on the island before that time though, many of them the castoffs of society. There were bandits, murderers, ladies-of-the-evening, Chinese lepers, suicides, seamen who died in wrecks and Canadian Pacific Railway construction casualties. There were also some early pioneers as well. The Great Vancouver Fire took place on June 13, 1886 and destroyed nearly 1,000 buildings and killed 21 people. These people were buried on Deadman's Island. Victims of a smallpox epidemic also ended up here.

The Ludgate Affair began in 1899 and lasted until 1930. American industrialist Theodore Ludgate wanted to build a saw mill and log the entire island. The federal government gave him the lease, but Mayor James Garden was not about to let Ludgate destroy the island. On the morning of April 24, 1899, Ludgate headed out to the island with 30 men to begin clearing the island. Mayor Garden was waiting for them with the entire police force. Once the men tried to cut down a tree, the police arrested everyone. There was a protracted legal battle and several more confrontations like this all the way through 1930 when the lease ran out. And it was during this time that stories of hauntings started to be told. Police officers who occupied the island overnight claimed to hear the rattling of dead men’s bones. They saw skeletons and heard those skeletons shriek. A story written in the Vancouver Courier said, “Perhaps suspecting that human agencies, rather than supernatural ones, were responsible, the chief of police suggested, tongue-in-cheek, that his men carry torches so they would be braver and the ghosts a little less active.” 

A Canadian Naval Base was established here in 1943. Naval men have made claims of hearing and seeing strange things. Over the years, people have claimed to see spectral forms in the fog with red, glowing eyes. Names are heard being hissed in the air. Blood-curdling screams are heard. Some witnesses claim to see a fluorescent glow on the island that is in a human form. Weird moaning is heard and strange lights are seen. 

We love any cemetery, no matter the age or size. We especially love when they have ghost stories. Many people will claim that cemeteries are rarely haunted, but through the years of us researching these cemeteries, we have found that to be anything, but true. Are these cemeteries haunted? That is for you to decide!