Thursday, March 30, 2023

HGB Ep. 480 - Hemingway House

Moment in Oddity - Canary in a Coal Mine

We have all heard the phrase "Like a canary in a coal mine." This phrase references the practice of miners taking canaries into mines with them as a means to detect poisonous gases. If a canary dropped dead in the mine, miners knew they better get out. Even though this seems like a practice from many decades ago, canaries were still used in a small number of mines as late as 1996 when British legislation officially ordered miners to replace canaries with electronic carbon monoxide sensors. But long before that, miners knew something needed to change to protect the birds. They needed to resuscitate these fragile feathered friends. In the 1920s Siebe Gorman and Co invented a cage for canaries that employed an attached oxygen tank to resuscitate the birds if they exhibited signs of poisoning from lethal gases in the mines. This unique cage used 3 glass walls and the forth wall was a grill with ventilation holes. If the canary fell from its perch, an airtight door was closed over the holes and an oxygen tank attached to the roof of the cage would then be opened to revive the canary. The canaries became beloved companions of the miners with numerous stories shared of the interactions between bird and miner. Of course many lives were saved due to their relationship as well. The common practice using canaries in mines was retired in 1986 when a digital sensor known as the "electronic nose" started being employed for noxious gas detection. A machine that is able to resuscitate canaries, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Philippine Islands Independence 

In the month of March, on the 24th, in 1934, the Philippine Islands in the South Pacific were granted independence by President Franklin D. Roosevelt after nearly 50 years of American control. The Tydings–McDuffie Act, was an Act of Congress that established the process for the Philippines, to become an independent country after a ten-year transition period. Once the President signed the act it was then sent to the Philippine Senate for approval which occurred on May 1st, 1934. Following the terms of the independence act, Filipinos elected delegates for a constitutional convention on July 10, 1934. Roosevelt then approved the Philippine constitution on March 23, 1935. For the following 10 years, the Philippines remained U.S. territory. Matters pertaining to foreign affairs, defense and monetary issues remained under U.S. jurisdiction, however all other internal matters were determined by the Philippine people. During the Commonwealth timeframe, duties were exacted on a graduated scale, but the trade provisions were ultimately amended in 1939 in favor of the Philippines.

Hemingway House

We decided to take a long weekend trip to the Florida Keys for our honeymoon and one of the locations we visited was a former home of American author Ernest Hemingway in Key West. Hemingway loved Key West and left a mark on the town. He more than likely has left his spirit here as well. Join us as we share the life of this incredibly talented and troubled man and the history and haunts of his former home!

Key West was originally home to the Calusa Indians. They were also known as the "Shell Indians" and they controlled most of southern Florida. They built their homes on stilts with woven Palmetto leaves as roofs and no walls. They fished and hunted for their food, leaving behind shell mounds. The tribe died out in the late 1700s. The Spanish were the first Europeans here and they called this Cayo Hueso, meaning bone cay which may relate to stories that the Spanish found this southernmost or most western key to be littered with bones. Great Britain took possession in 1763 and the United States acquired Florida in 1821. The Florida Keys were not a very inhabited area. Mostly smugglers and pirates used the keys as hideouts. Cubans and Bahamians visited the keys often as well. The Spanish governor of Cuba deeded Key West to an officer of the Royal Spanish Navy Artillery named Juan Pablo Salas in 1815. He sold the island to U.S. businessman John W. Simonton for 2000 pesos in 1822. Simonton divided the island into plots and the U.S. brought a strong military presence there. Cuban migrants also flooded Key West and in 1832 the city was incorporated. Key West became the largest city in Florida by 1850 and by 1860, it was the wealthiest city per capita in America.

It was here in Key West in 1851 that marine architect and salvage wrecker Asa Tift built his Spanish Colonial home. Tift designed the house himself. Yellow Fever swept through Key West and killed Tift's wife and children and Tift eventually died in 1889. No one was left in the family to inherit the property and so it sat abandoned for 40 years. On April 29, 1931, American writer Ernest Hemingway and his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer, purchased the home and property with financial help from Pauline's uncle. Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Illinois in 1899 to Dr. Clarence E. Hemingway, a physician, and concert singer Grace Hall. His father took him fishing, hunting and camping, which instilled a lifelong love of adventure. Hemingway started writing early and got his first job at seventeen writing for the Kansas City Star. Shortly after that, he joined a volunteer ambulance unit that was headed to the Italian front in World War I. Hemingway was carrying chocolate and cigarettes for soldiers on the front line on July 8, 1918 when he was seriously wounded by mortar fire. And despite those injuries, Ernie hoisted a wounded Italian soldier and carried him to safety. He would later receive the Italian War Merit Cross for this action. Hemingway had surgery to remove shrapnel from both legs and was sent to the Red Cross hospital in Milan to recover. While there, he fell in love with American nurse Agnes von Kurowsky who was seven years older then him. The 1996 movie "In Love and War" was inspired by this time in Hemingway's life. Hemingway believed the two would marry when they were back in America, but Agnes broke his heart in a "Dear John" letter that informed him that she agreed to marry an Italian officer. Ernie would never recover from this rejection and his future marriages would reflect that. He would always leave his wives before they could leave him.

Hemingway got a job working for the Toronto Star Weekly when he returned home. He moved to Chicago in 1920 and met the sister of his roommate. Hadley Richardson would become Hemingway's first wife and the two went to Europe where they lived in Paris. There, Hemingway joined many expatriate artists and continued to write for the Toronto Star. The couple returned to Toronto and had their son Jon, nicknmaed Bumby. In 1923, Hemingway and Hadley went to Spain and he became fascinated with bullfighting. People started referring to him by the nickname "Papa" at this time too. This time in Spain inspired "The Sun Also Rises," which was published in 1926 and is considered Hemingway's greatest work. Ernie started an affair with a woman named Pauline Pfieffer at this time. This would end his marriage with Hadley. Hemingway married Pauline in 1927 and in April of 1928 the couple relocated to Key West via steamer ship. Their first home was on the second floor of a car dealership. Ernie's Model A was to be delivered here to the Trev-Mor Ford dealership, but the shipment was delayed so the couple decided to stay in the Trev-Mor Hotel above the dealership. They would be there for seven weeks. Hemingway completed the first draft of "A Farewell to Arms" there. The couple then moved into 907 Whitehead Street and would live there for thirteen years. 

There's nothing particularly special about the house especially compared to some of the Victorian homes that dot the landscape of Key west. The Hemingway House is square in shape with two levels and lots of windows. The verandas wrap around the entire house on both levels. The house is in the middle of beautiful gardens that are filled with cat houses and lots of cats. They are descendants of Snow White, the first polydactyl cat introduced to the property by Hemingway. Snow White was given to Hemingway by wrecker and salvager, Captain Stanley Dexter. An interesting piece of "furniture" in the garden is a porcelain trough that is used to water the cats. That trough is really a men’s urinal from the original Sloppy Joe’s Bar, that was located on Green Street where Capt. Tony’s Saloon is today. When the rent was raised, Sloppy Joe gutted the bar and moved it to its current location and Hemingway asked for the urinal since he had poured so much money down the drain drinking at Sloppy Joe's. Pauline was less than enthused and you can see how she tried to conceal the porcelain memento with decorative tiles.

There is a writing studio in the back of the house and a pool. The pool replaced a boxing ring that Hemingway loved to use to box against locals. Ernie was on assignment and away in 1938 and Pauline took the opportunity to get rid of the eyesore. She spent $20,000 having the coral and limestone bedrock dug out and this would be the first residential pool on the island. Ernie wasn't happy to see the pool and when he heard the price he took a penny from his pocket, flicked it in Pauline’s direction and exclaimed, “You might as well take my last red cent!” Pauline commemorated the moment by having the penny encased in concrete under glass that you can still see today.

When the Hemingway's moved in, Pauline was pregnant with the couple's second child. For years, Pauline had worked as a fashion editor for Vogue Magazine and she was now going to use her fashion sense to renovate and decorate this home. Ceiling fans were replaced with a variety of chandeliers, which weren't practical, but they were beautiful. There were Italian Murano glass chandeliers, a Tiffany shade, Moroccan lantern light and a Spanish Moorish chandelier. Some of the Hemingway's furniture is still here in the house. When you first step into the house, it has a central hall design with rooms coming off it. To the right is the living room. This still has an antique Spanish walnut "chest-on-chest" that held jewelry and other valuables. The top part came off and was taken on travels. In this room is also a replica of Ernie's beloved boat, The Pilar, which was a 38' hand-crafted wooden yacht made by the Wheeler Shipyard in Coney Island. Hemingway ordered customized details that included extra large fuel tanks so he could stay out on the water longer, a live fish well and a wooden roller spanning the transom so it was easier to haul in fish. He bought The Pilar in 1934 and named it not only after his heroine in "For Whom the Bell Tolls," but also his wife Pauline's nickname. (Self Guided Pilar) He lost the boat when he left it in Cuba in 1960. This living room had been divided when the Hemingway's lived there. 

Across the hall is the dining room and kitchen. There is antique Spanish furniture made of walnut in here. The head chair has a metal bar attached to the back that served as a resting place for swords. There is a  credenza and on top of that is a unique device we had never seen before. It's an antique bottle lock used to secure alcohol. There are pictures of Hemingway with his wives on the walls, as well as with his son Bumby and there is a picture of his two sons he had with Pauline, Patrick and Gregory who later became Gloria. The kitchen originally had been outside. Pauline decorated the kitchen walls with Portuguese tiles and the counters, sink, and stove are higher than standard height to accommodate Hemingway’s stature. The Hemingways also had the luxury of a modern refrigerator.

Upstairs were three rooms: the nurse maid's room, the boys' room and the master bedroom. The nanny's room has a bathroom connected to it and it got water from a cistern that was on the roof, giving the house something similar to indoor plumbing. The wall tiles are from Paris. After the boys no longer needed a nanny, Pauline used the room for sewing and other projects. The Boys Room had displays representing Ernie's time in the Red Cross in Italy, his war correspondence work during World War II for which he was awarded the Bronze Star and pictures of him fishing the Gulf Stream. He absolutely fell in love with fishing in this area. Before he had the Pilar, he chartered a boat owned by Sloppy Joe Russell.

When we entered the master bedroom, there was, of course, a cat on the bed. He had a lot of toes on those back feet. Kelly gave him some love. The bed is original to the couple. The headboard was a souvenir from one of their trips to Spain. This wasn't an actual headboard. It was made into a headboard. This actually was a wooden gate from a 17th century Spanish monastery and the original gate hinges are still attached. At the foot of the bed were two other antiques owned by the Hemingways: a midwife chair and a birthing chair from 18th century Spain. Ernie had a unique use for the chairs. He felt they made perfect fishing seats because the handle affixed to the top of them made them easy to transport to the piers and docks. The house has a basement that is not open to the public and this was mostly used as a wine cellar.

The writing studio in back had originally been a hay loft. One of Hemingway's Royal typewriters still sits on the desk and you can almost imagine him sitting here in the morning hours before noon, typing out the 600 to 1,000 words he committed to each day. While in Key West, he completed "A Farewell to Arms," "To Have and Have Not," "Death in the Afternoon," "Green Hills of Africa," "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," and "Men Without Women," as well as a large portion of "For Whom the Bell Tolls." In the afternoons, Ernest would head out fishing or into the downtown Key West area to hang out with friends. Hemingway loved Key West and he left his imprint on so many places. Sloppy Joe's Bar is probably the most famous place and it would be here that he met his third wife, Martha Gellhorn. Gellhorn was a well known writer and journalist and would be a correspondent in every war during her lifetime, from the Spanish Civil War in 1937 to the Gulf War in 1991. As a matter of fact, she was one of the first five correspondents on the beach in Normandy on D-Day - she was the only woman. The two started their affair when Ernie and Pauline were still married. They divorced in November 1940 and Gellhorn married Hemingway that December. The couple moved to Cuba about ten miles from Havana, but they would not be happy. They divorced in 1945. The following year Hemingway married Time Magazine writer Mary Welsh and she would finally be his perfect match. 

Mary and Ernie shared many same interests including fishing, hunting and skiing. The two traveled the world together. They even faced death together on one of their adventures. (Self Guided Safari) In that audio we reference hearing the word Africa earlier in the day. We shared about that on the BonusCast this week featuring our visit with Robert the Doll. Now the couple didn't have injuries from that crash, but something really seemed to be after them because get this, the plane they boarded shortly after the crash burst into flames upon takeoff. The couple and the pilot sustained injuries, and some publications back in the states had even begun inaccurately reporting the death of Ernest and Mary. Ernest’s injuries were so severe that he remained hospitalized when he received the Nobel Prize for literature and had to record his acceptance speech from his hospital bed. He would suffer the residual effects of those injuries for the rest of his life. 

Hemingway called Mary "Miss Mary" and she called him "Papa." Death would bring an end to Ernie's final marriage. The New York Times reported on July 3, 1961 that "Ernest Hemingway was found dead of a shotgun wound in the head at his home here today. His wife, Mary, said that he had killed himself accidentally while cleaning the weapon." He was a couple weeks short of his 62nd birthday. Some friends had indicated that Hemingway had been depressed. His health was failing him and he had been in pain. Ernie knew guns, so for him to be careless when cleaning one would be strange. There was also the fact that hunting season was closed in Idaho where Mary and Ernest were living at the time. He had lost many manuscripts that he couldn't retrieve in Cuba. And his father had suffered from mental illness and taken his own life. This brings us to the Hemingway curse. The curse isn't something mystical, its mental illness. The family has suffered seven suicides. Actress Mariel Hemingway became a mental health advocate and appeared in the documentary "Running from Crazy" to talk about her grandfather and sister and their suicides. Mariel has said, "I think we live in a world where creativity is defined by how much pain you go through, and that's a misinterpretation of artistry. I think if my grandfather were around today, he would go, 'Wow, I didn't have to suffer.'"

Perhaps that is why Hemingway is still around in the afterlife, particularly here in Key West.
Shortly after Hemingway passed away, neighbors and people passing the Hemingway House claimed to see the author walking in the garden around the house and they thought they saw him inside the house. What makes these stories even more credible is that some of the witnesses hadn't heard that Hemingway had died. Most reports of seeing him in the house were on the second floor, especially out on the veranda. People would wave up at him and he would wave back! This was something he did in life as well. And the cats were apparently seeing him too because he was playing with them and they were playing back. Tour guides claim to have seen Ernie in his writing studio. And the typewriter is heard making noise.

Ernest isn't the only person haunting the house though. This was Pauline's house too and she seems to have returned in the afterlife as well. She died in Hollywood, California in 1951 while visiting her sister. Reports said she died of shock, which some places call an aneurysm now, but we also read that a tumor caused her to release too much adrenaline and this drove up her blood pressure to dangerous heights. Whatever the case, Pauline was still living in the house in Key West at the time of her death. Despite that fact, she is buried in an unmarked grave in Hollywood. The house was owned by Ernest until his death in 1961 when it was sold to Bernice Dickson and then opened as a museum in 1964. Pauline's favorite spot in the house was at the top of the central staircase. It was from here that she could both look out into the writing studio and seen Ernest at work and see her children playing outside. Pauline was also a smoker and would do this often at the entrance gate and passersby have sometimes seen her doing that very thing. Occasionally the apparition walks up and down the sidewalk. And there are ghost kitties here as well with staff and visitors both reporting the sensation of cats rubbing their legs when there is no cat near them.

The Hemingway House in Key West is a must see whether you are a Hemingway fan or not. The cats are worth the visit. Bring cash because that is all they accept for tickets. And bring your sensitivity, so maybe you too can experience the spirits of the Hemingways. Is the Hemingway House haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, March 23, 2023

HGB Ep. 479 - Prospect Place

Moment in Oddity - Anting (Suggested by: Mike Rogers)

Undoubtedly we have all witnessed an anthill where some unfortunate creature was becoming nourishment for the colony. However, would it surprise you to hear that there is a term called anting, where certain wild birds will actually choose to plop themselves down upon an anthill intentionally? There are a couple of hypotheses as to why over 200 species of birds will use the ants. One thought is that the ants are used to secrete formic acid onto the birds body to act as an insecticide, fungicide or bactericide. Another possible reason for the anting could be that by rubbing the ants encourages the ants to excrete their formic acid, allowing the ants to become more palatable for the bird to then ingest. Two types of anting have been identified as active and passive. Active anting is when a bird picks up an ant in its beak and rubs the insect on its body. Passive anting occurs when a bird appears to be taking a bath in a cluster of ants. Regardless of the actual purpose behind this peculiar, preening practice, birds using insects in such a manner, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - C.H. Gould Patents Stapler in England

In the month of March, on the 5th, in 1868, C.H. Gould patents the stapler in England. What would we do without staplers? It's the easiest way to hold a bunch of pieces of loose paper together. The 1860s was a revolutionary time for paper fastening devices, but the first known stapler dates back to the time of King Louis XV in the 18th century. He used the fastener to hold his decrees together. A man named George McGill got the first patent for a bendable brass paper fastener and he went on to develop a device that could drive the fasteners through paper. Gould developed the direct predecessor of the modern stapler, but this could only drive one staple at a time. Albert Kletzker developed a similar device in America in 1868 as well. By 1898, the Hotchkiss Stapler had been developed and this allowed for a strip of staples held together by wire. This required so much force that sometimes users had to use a hammer or mallet on the plunger to get the staple to go through the paper. The turn-of-the-century brought a clipless machine so staples were no longer wired together and 1923 introduced the first desk stapler. Swingline made many of the modern day staplers until they closed their US production facilities in 1999 and one of their most interesting models used a coil of 10,000 staples. That was back in 1974.

Prospect Place (Suggested by: Donny Lawrence Norris)

Prospect Place in Trinway, Ohio was built by an abolitionist and was a stop on the Underground Railroad. This was a house that not only had to be built twice due to a fire, but it was ahead of its time in regards to amenities. A legend connected to this property claims that a bounty hunter came calling looking for runaway slaves and rather than finding slaves, he found a noose as workers on the farm hanged him.  There are stories of spirits on the property. Join us as we explore the history and haunting of Prospect Place!

George Willison Adams, or G.W. as everyone called him, was born in Virginia in 1799 to a plantation owner. His father always had reservations about owning a plantation run by enslaved people and when George was still a boy, his father gave up the plantation, freed the slaves and moved the family to Madison Township in Ohio in 1808. G.W. was raised to be an abolitionist. In 1828, he and his brother Edward built a flour mill. When that proved successful, they built another larger mill in Dresden, Ohio. The brothers went on to own a boat yard and many warehouses in Dresden. G.W. used his wealth to build up the town of Dresden, becoming the largest employer in the town and he helped build bridges and a canal that connected Dresden with the Ohio-Erie Canal. One of the bridges was a suspension bridge that he tried to get members of a stock company he set up to finance. They thought the plan wasn't feasible, so G.W. paid for the construction himself and hired his nephew to  build it. The bridge was run as a toll bridge until G.W. sold it to the county commissioners for a third of what it cost him to build it originally. G.W. and Edward also used their enterprises to set up an Underground Railroad. They would take flour down to Louisiana and come back with enslaved refugees. Their mills were used as safe houses.

It comes as no surprise then that G.W. was very active during the Civil War, to help support the Union in any way he could. He contributed money and goods for the military. When the war was over, G.W. focused on the railroad. He allowed many miles of right of way on his land to both the Panhandle and the Cincinnati & Muskingum Valley railroad companies. Eventually he became director of both companies. G.W. also got involved in politics and served as a member of the General Assembly in Ohio. ​G.W. married Clarissa Hopkins Schaff in 1845, but she passed away in 1853. The couple had four children, but two of the them wouldn't survive into adulthood, ironically the two named for himself and his brother: George and Edward. G.W. then married Mary Jane Robinson in 1855 and they had five children. 

In 1856, G.W. decided to build his brick mansion. This was done in the Greek Revival architectural style with ornate gingerbread porticoes and rose three-stories, covering 9,500 square feet with 29 rooms. There was a wing added to the house that was only two stories and this was used as servant quarters. The roof was covered with copper panels. A cupola crowned the house and this would be used to house a signal light for runaway slaves. If the cupola was dark, it meant bounty hunters were in the area. If the cupola was lit, runaway slaves hiding in the fields would know it was safe to come up to the house. This place was ahead of its time with hot and cold running water from a copper tank cistern on the second floor that pressurized water throughout the house and two coal stoves that had copper tanks that heated the water. There was an early form of air conditioning that was created by bringing the cool air from down in the basement up through ducts inside the walls to the main living quarters. The home also had a unique refrigeration system. This was a gorgeous place and the family was just about to move in when the home was leveled by an arson fire. George Blackburn had been a bricklayer on the house who figured if he burned the house down, he would have more work to do building the new house. G.W. found out and a legend claims he had him arrested and that Blackburn managed to escape from jail, but was later killed when he tried to rob a house and met the sharp end of an axe. The truth is Blackburn never was arrested for the arson, but he did eventually go to jail for other crimes because he was a career criminal and he died at the Ohio State Penitentiary of heart disease.

The wreckage was cleared away and a barn was built on the remains of that first mansion that could serve as living quarters for ranch hands and also housed the carriages and horses. A new mansion was built that matched the previous one in every way except this one included modern fire stopping measures with interior walls being made from brick and a two-inch layer of mortar was placed between the first and second floors of the house to help block fire. G.W. named his home Prospect Place because it offered the prospect of a better future. And for runaway slaves, it offered the prospect of freedom. Abolitionist meetings were more then likely held in the Gentlemen's Parlor and one guest at the house was probably Mr. Nelson T. Gant who was a former Virginia slave from Loudon County that received his freedom when his owner died. He moved to Zanesville, Ohio and started an orchard and coal mining operation from which he became a millionaire. Gant was also an important conductor on the “Underground Railroad.” The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 made it legal for bounty hunters to capture runaway slaves in free states and take them back to the South for reward money. A legend claims that a bounty hunter came to the door demanding that runaway slaves be handed over. George had answered the door with a gun and there was a bit of a standoff until some of the farm workers came over and the bounty hunter left. There are claims that those workers chased down the bounty hunter, brought him back to the barn and hanged him from a rafter.

G.W. died at the age of 79 on August 31, 1879. Mary then moved to Zanesville to live with her sister and the eldest daughter Anna lived on the homestead with her husband William Cox and their children. There is a weird mystery here with William though. He put a lot of money into Prospect Place and he and Anna were happy here for many years. But at the turn of the century, something changed and William Cox just disappeared. A friend of the family claimed to spot him in San Francisco, but when she called out to him, he brushed her off and hurried away. Some believe that he really did go to the city, but died in the 1906 earthquake. The house would continue to stay in the Cox family until the 1960s. The family had squandered their money and left the house abandoned.  In 1969, Prospect Place was sold to a distant relative of George Cox named Eugene Cox who owned a gravel mining company, the Cox Gravel Company. Eugene decided to mine on the property. However, the house was left to ruin and vandals broke in and nearly gutted the place. By 1988, the once grand mansion was slated for demolition.

A local businessman named Dave Longaberger, of Longaberger Basket Company, couldn't stand the thought of the historic home being torn down, so he bought it with plans to renovate. Dave started with installing a new roof and putting a security system in to protect the house. Then he redid the floors and started tackling other projects, but then he was diagnosed with cancer. The cancer eventually killed him, but the Longaberger Company continued to maintain security on the property until 2001. The great-great-grandson of G.W. Adams, George J. Adams, purchased the home with the goal of finishing the restoration. He created a non-profit, the G.W. Adams Education Center, Inc., which has owned the building since 2005. In 2017, George retired as chairman of the board due to health reasons, but a new board of trustees and the educational center have continued the restoration. They host tours, school programs and ghost hunts, both public and private! Private hunts are just $70 per person on Wednesdays and Thursdays and $80 on Fridays. Saturday nights you can rent the place for $640.00

The property is said to harbor the spirits of the Adams family. The spirit of the bounty hunter is thought to still be hanging out in the barn. His angry spirit is said to lash out at visitors and a dark clad form is seen in the barn. Other possible spirits might belong to fugitive slaves. Some who arrived at the house had been beaten or shot and they didn't survive their injuries. There is a legend about a young girl who had been in the house, delirious with fever. She had gotten up and walked out onto a balcony that was over a side portico and slipped on some ice that sent her over the railing and to her death. Her body was kept in the basement until the spring thaw. She is seen walking around the house in a white dress, especially in the ballroom. Anne Adams-Cox is said to have died in the house after an accident, broken-hearted from the disappearance of her husband. Her apparition has been seen wandering the halls. A psychic once claimed that a former servant at the house likes to hang out on the stairwell landing between the second floor and the ballroom.

Adelaide Haunted Horizons made the trip from Australia to investigate here and wrote, "This was the second visit for me to Prospect Place.  Unfortunately, on the first one, I managed to lock my keys in the boot of the car, so I missed most of the investigation.  Now, I had a second chance to return to finally look for the Prospect Place ghosts myself.  This time I was joined not only by Kag but also by Beth Darlington from Access Paranormal. We started in the front room, and it wasn’t long before the Mel-meter (EMF Meter) triggered, but at the same time, a RemPod (proximity device) triggered upstairs.  Kag remained in the hallway down below while Beth and I went for a walk to the barn and stables. Despite us not being in the house with Kag, there were still thumps from upstairs and what sounded like somebody moving around, and the Ovilus (turns EMF fields into words) spat out the word ‘Blaze’.  Not only that, but upon doing an E.V.P. (Voices on recordings you don’t hear at the time) burst, she apparently captured two.  What are they saying?  We aren’t sure. Meanwhile, in the barn/stables, Beth and I were having experiences of our own.  I was looking towards the barn door towards the house, when I saw a small bright light which moved across in front of the house.  I saw it a second time in the doorway of the barn about 4ft off the ground.  It came in very bright white, undulated, turned and then vanished.  I will add that this was seen with my eyes, not on the camera, and it wasn’t peripheral vision but full-on.  A couple of seconds after this, the RemPod triggered.  Without telling Beth, she also saw a white light moving around. 

We swapped around, and Beth remained in the house on her own while Kag and I went to the barn to do a live stream.  We were getting some interesting results on the equipment, but suddenly we heard what sounded like Beth shouting.  We quickly turned off, thinking that Beth was in trouble and headed back to the house only to find that she was fine and hadn’t shouted out at all.  As we were discussing this, a fire alarm went off, deafening us as we tried to find it.  We called Jeff, our host, who was sleeping in a house close by, as we couldn’t fathom where it was coming from.  As he walked through the door, although it had been screaming for over 10 mins, it suddenly stopped and did not trigger all night again.  Jeff scratched his head as it was not that the batteries were going flat and there had been no source of the smoke.  The only thing he could think of was that whoever was there was trying to drive us out of the house, especially as the noise was so unbearable. Beth and I went down into the cellar, leaving Kag elsewhere, and it wasn’t long before we had equipment trigger, and at the same time, we had footsteps crossing above us.  We took note of the time to cross-reference with Kag, but she was nowhere near the area. It certainly was an interesting night, and we would love to go back sometime to explore further and try and communicate with the Prospect Place ghosts."

Mark Clair in 2014 on TripAdvisor, "I made sure I reiterated "haunted" in the title. It was. Active, alive, absorbing our energy, responding with incredible results. My team and I investigated this place. We had seen it on Ghost Adventures. Approaching the mansion is a walk back into history, rich with conflict, pain, sorrow, courage and death. During our investigation, I offered whatever energy I had to the residual residents so they could provide some sign that they were present and attentive. My team offered theirs as well. We continued on through the house and shortly after, we were collectively drained of our energy. We had never felt or experienced this kind of drain before and we've investigated many locations for many hours. It made us become almost comatose with exhaustion. We decided to venture into the basement and were amazed at the shadow activity. In dim light, after taking 15-20 minutes to allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness, our entire team witness shadow figures like nothing we've ever encountered. The shadows moving across and up and down the hallway were highly visible as they blotted out the only source of light at the end of the corridor. Many were at the end of the hallway, while others almost seemed to pass directly in front of us. It was at this time when a female team member was touched and her shirt pulled from behind. The activity continued for almost an hour. When it began to subside, we continued our investigation. All in all, we feel that Prospect Place is well worth returning to for another investigation. It's truly an amazing place."

Tom S in 2019 on TripAdvisor, "Five of us returned to Prospect Place for the third time in several years. The restoration of the mansion is continuing and what a worthy cause this is. We visited 6/23/19 and was met by Carrie and her Son. We were given a warm welcome and Carrie's Son shared some of his experiences with us. He is a budding ghost hunter and we enjoyed his stories. As on our previous trips we had activity in the cellar and on the 2nd and 3rd floors. The pigeons are gone and the 3rd floor battened down so it was much quieter and easier to investigate. We got quite a few good EVP's and were told there were 8 Adams there, Sophie Adams and several who were servants are still there. We got some interesting photos and videos. The house was very active the night we were there. If you are interested in the Ghost hunts, we highly recommend it and if you are just into history it is still highly worth the visit. Stop in and see for yourself."

Ghost Adventures investigated Prospect Place during their third season in 2010. The guys heard disembodied laughter and hissing and a young girl's voice. They caught EVPs saying, "come here," "some more" and "get out." They also heard disembodied footsteps, had an object thrown at them and heard a loud bang. The guys also claimed that a cross on the wall was getting very cold and they believed this was an...uh...portal opening up. There were the usual balls of light that Ghost Adventures captures that we don't put much stock in.

In 2016, Ghost Brothers went out to investigate Prospect Place. They were greeted by the owner, George Adams who was the great-great grandson. A woman named Kim Salzwedel told the Ghost Brothers that she had been in the barn when she was touched by a spirit. She said she felt a burning on the upper part of her back and her daughter looked at her back and there was a large red handprint with scratches under it. She and her daughter also captured an EVP saying, "I will cut you." Kim agreed to meet the guys out at the property and she told them that legends claim that the bounty hunter that was hanged in the barn could have been buried there as well. The Ghost Brothers brought out a cadaver dog and it did indicate that there were human remains in a part of the barn. The dog's signal was to bark, but he did even more than that. He started growling and ran away from the area that he marked. 

Dalen is sensitive to energy and in one of the upstairs bedroom, he got so nauseous he had to leave and he did end up throwing up into a trash can. The Ghost Brothers started their investigation in the barn and they set up a REM Pod. When they asked if there was someone in there that they couldn't see, the REM Pod lit up. Later they asked why the spirit only messes with women, is it afraid of men and the REM Pod lit up again. Dalen felt like he was pushed in the barn. They went looking for a red-eyed entity that hides down in the basement and Dalen did seem to capture two red dots on the thermal camera. They tried debunking it thinking it was lights on the camera causing it, but then the dots weren't there anymore. Something started scratching near a fireplace on the third floor when Marcus asked if there was anyone else in the room with them.

Prospect Place is a large and distinct house with an equally distinct and historic brick barn. The place once saved slaves and now it seems that some of those spirits might be saving this place as people come from all around to seek their presence. Is Prospect Place haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, March 16, 2023

HGB Ep. 478 - Mason House Inn

Moment in Oddity - Fiscal Fishy

So many people around the globe play video games. Recently there was a Japanese gamer with about 100K subscribers on YouTube who had his credit card compromised by his Betta Fish. Without ever giving a thought to the consequences, this fiscally, foolhardy fish used it without his owners permission and created a security breach during a live stream gaming event. This particular gaming community actually use fish as the players. How do you ask? Well, the YouTuber devised a system that allowed their Betta fish to play Pokemon games on a Nintendo Switch. The fish tank actually has sensors that act as buttons on the gaming device. The recordings of the Betta tells the characters which way to move or how to make decisions. Prior gaming attempts were in Pokemon Sapphire where the fish in question, beat the game, garnered 450K views. However, the security breach occurred during a game of Pokemon Violet during a live stream. After 1,000 hours of playtime the game glitched and the Switch changed to its home screen. The Betta just kept swimming obviously, and in doing so, inadvertently opened up the Nintendo eShop where the opulent opponent purchased four dollars worth of points using his owner's credit card. Doing so exposed his owner's account information to the live stream audience. This feisty fishy was not done there... He also proceeded to download an app to play Nintendo 64 games, spent reward currency on a new avatar, asked for a confirmation email from PayPal AND changed the name of his owner's account to ROWAWAWAWA. These days we all need to be cautious to keep our credit cards safe and secure. However, one thing is for certain, a fish stealing financial information, sharing it and then proceeding to go on a shopping spree, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - The Birth of Greenbacks

In the month of March, on the 10th, in 1862, the first issue of U.S. government paper money occurred as $5, $10 and $20 dollar bills began circulation. These were also known as greenbacks, due to the green ink on the backside of the paper money. The government began the issuing of this paper money in the effort to help finance the Union cause in the American Civil War. At the end of the war, fiscal conservatives demanded that the government retire the greenbacks. This was opposed by farmers and others who desired to maintain the current higher prices. The Panic of 1873 and the following depression polarized the nation. At that time, farmers demanded more greenbacks be issued or unlimited silver coins. In 1874, the Greenback-Labor Party was formed and after Congress passed the Resumption Act, the greenbacks were able to be redeemed in gold. The Greenback-Labor Party made the repeal of that act its first goal. Eventually a compromise was made that kept the Resumption Act, the expansion of paper money redeemable in gold, and enacted the Bland-Allison Act. This new act created a limited resumption of the coinage of silver dollars. By 1878, most people supported the expansion of currency and thought that the best chance of success was to move further towards the unlimited coinage of silver.

Mason House Inn

The Mason House Inn is the oldest steamboat hotel on the Des Moines River in Bentonsport, Iowa. It has a history connected to the Mormon Trail, the Civil War and the Underground Railroad. Today, it is run as a bed and breakfast rather than a hotel. There are several reasons for spirits to be hanging out here and the owners embrace the haunting, documenting dozens and dozens of experiences. join us as we share the history and hauntings of the Mason House Inn.

Bentonsport is a small village along the former Iowa Mormon Trail. The village was founded along the Des Moines River and that made it an important port for steamships along the river. Charles Sanford was the first settler in the area and he built a trading post here in 1836 and it was called Ross Settlement. The name was later changed to Benton's Port for Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri who had been known as Old Bullion and was an architect of Manifest Destiny. On June 21, 1837, the board of supervisors of Van Buren County granted licenses to two men named Isaac Reed and Henry Smith. This gave them the right to run ferries across the river between North and South Benton's Port. And they would transport all kinds of things from equipment to humans and every kind of animal and even whole wagons with a team. Bentonsport flooded twice, once in 1851 and another time in 1903. The oldest wagon bridge of its type is located here and was built in 1883. Today, this is mostly a tourist area with several bed & breakfasts and Mason House Inn is one of them.

The Mason House Inn was originally named Ashland House and was opened as a hotel for travelers on the steamships in 1846. At the time, this was located next to the post office, just to the right of the river bridge overlooking the river. The hotel was built by Billie Robinson who was a Latter Day Saint from Nauvoo, Illinois and was designed in the Georgian Federal architectural style and stands two 1/2 stories with twenty-one rooms. The top row of windows on the front entrance feature a large central window that is balanced by two quarter-circle windows, making it unique. A tugboat struck it in 1851, but only caused slight damage, which we believe can still be seen today. By 1857, a couple named Lewis and Nancy Mason owned the inn and they renamed it the Phoenix Hotel, but eventually the place just took on their name and has been the Mason House inn since. During the Civil War, Iowa was Union and a safe haven for runaway slaves. The hotel soon found itself on the Underground Railroad as it was ten miles from the Missouri state line and made a good first stop.The hay loft of a barn on the property was used as a hiding place as was a tunnel in the back that was connected to a wood shed.

Senator William Ernest Mason was the youngest son of Lewis and Nancy and he wrote of this time when he was ten in his autobiography, "If I became interested in 1856 in politics, I was more so in 1860.  (William was 10 years old in 1860.)  I used to listen to my father's talk about politics, and go out to hear him and others speak on that subject.  I cannot remember the year when we used to help the run away slaves.  I remember my first experience.  I was sent out to the barn with a basket of bread and meat and told to take it up to the hay loft.  I did so and as I put the basket on the floor near the stairs, I saw two or more black curly heads stick out from the hay, and you can imagine my fright and that it did not take long to get back to the house.  I was smart enough not to tell anyone, for if I told, the poor fellows would have been sent back to slavery.  I learned afterwards that my father's house and barn was the first station on the Underground Railway, being about ten miles from the Missouri line, and that the negros came in the night, knew where to go, and were fed and slept and directed on to a Quaker settlement at Salem as near as I now remember.  My father was a great lover of law, and yet I wonder when I think of it, he helped escaping slaves, and in that way openly violated the law.  It brought him into some trouble with his church, but he was not expelled from the church nor was he indicted, though both were threatened.  I believe that the time will never come again in this country, when a man will be justified in breaking the laws of his country.  We will never have slaves again and the laws must be written by the conscience of a Christian people, and obeyed until repealed by that same power."

The hotel not only was cover for escaped slaves, but it served as a shot term hospital as wounded soldiers awaited transport to a hospital in Keokuk. Many soldiers didn't last long enough to make the trip and died at the hotel. For a time in the 1940s, the hotel hosted the community library. The Mason family held onto the property for 99 years, passing it through family members, and then sold to the Redhead family who ran the hotel for 33 years. During their tenure, they added the general store that is attached to the main house. In 1989, the McDermets bought the inn and in 2001 Chuck and Joy Hanson bought the place as the fifth owners of the house and the current ones, although the property has been up for sale for some time. There are many stipulations as to who they would be willing to sell to and this includes keeping all the antique furniture with the house and continuing to run this as a bed and breakfast. Many of the antiques are original to the Mason family. The Hansons added the Caboose Cottage in 2006, which features the opportunity to overnight in a real rail car! They had to deal with a flood in 2008. 

They wrote of that experience, "We had sandbags along the sidewalk in front of the Inn and all the way down to in front of the Caboose Cottage.  The water was about 18 inches up on the sandbags for about a week before it receded.  Our neighbor to the east did not sandbag, and we did not realize that our property is lower than his.  When the water went into his yard, it seeped downhill into our yard and flooded the property around the Caboose and in front of Rooms 2 and 3.  Chuck had a large sump pump going day and night for a week to keep the water from reaching the Main house.  The pump took one gallon of gas at a time, and would run for two hours on the tank full.  Chuck and I slept in Room 1 for the week so we could keep an eye on the water height.  We set the alarm clock to ring every two hours so Chuck could get up and put gas in the pump tank.  We called it "feeding the baby".  We had moved all the furniture out of Room 1 (except for bed) and out of the Parlor (except for the piano), since these were the two rooms to flood first if the water would have come into the Main house.  But, thanks to the sandbags and Chuck's diligence with the sump pump, the water never came into the Main house first floor.  The basement did get water into it because the sump pump down there burned out and we got about 8 inches of water in there before we were able to get another one hooked up."

And the great thing about the Hansons is that they are not only very happy to share the history of the hotel and area, but also to share ghost stories about the hotel and their own personal experiences. Nothing here is said to be malevolent and much of the activity is very subtle. And apparently, the spirits have requested that no Ghost Boxes be used during investigations. Which is interesting since we've found it to be the best way for them to communicate. But it is cool that the hotel readily welcomes people to investigate. For $500, your group can have the main house to yourselves. Or you can just book a room and do a little investigating while sharing the place with non-ghost hunters. The hotel even had "The Today Show" name it as one of the most haunted hotels in America.  

There are many possibilities for who could be haunting the inn and the current owners believe that they have had a couple hundred spirits come through. One spirit has been nicknamed "The Ghost Dog." The story here is that a young woman was killed by her estranged husband in 1883 in the hotel's parlor. Her dog went after the husband and mauled him to death on the front steps. The poor dog then mourned himself to death, refusing to eat. The dog's spirit is seen still waiting outside the parlor window for his girl. Lewis and Nancy Mason were the original Mason's to own the hotel and Lewis died in the hotel in 1867 from cholera. People claim that he is here in spirit. The couple's bedroom was what is now Room 5 and their bedroom set is in there. Mary was the couple's second daughter and she and her husband Frank Clark, helped Nancy run the inn. They eventually handed the inn over to Mary's niece Fannie and moved to Washington D.C. After Frank died there, his body was brought back to the hotel to be waked. Mary stayed on to help Fannie until her death at the hotel in 1911 on the third floor. Several people have seen both Mary and Frank. He is usually in a black suit and the couple are sometimes heard arguing in Rooms 5 and 6.   

Fannie died at the hotel on May 24, 1951 and the circumstances are sad. She died sitting in a chair by the fireplace in the dining room and had been dead for two to three days before a fellow business person came to check on her. He saw her through the window and had to break it to get to her. Her apparition is seen wearing a grey skirt and white blouse and is most often in the dining room or parlor. A Confederate soldier named Markie who died at the hospital is here. Another soldier who was 34-years old named Harold died here after being seriously wounded. He is seen in boots and likes to lay on the beds and knock on the walls in Morse Code. It is believed that the hotel may also have become a Tuberculosis sanitarium for a while in the early 1900s and a child spirit from that time is thought to be here. A doctor lived at the hotel in the 1940s and brought some of his patients there for care and some of them may have died in the inn. One of these people was the grandmother of a woman who took a tour at the bed and breakfast. And two girls named Amanda and Anna have told investigators that they died from injuries under the care of the doctor at the inn. An old man named Elmer argued often with the proprietor of the inn, Mrs. B.R., from 1956 to 1989 and he decided to off her one night. He climbed a tree behind the inn, holding a shotgun and a rope. His plan was to shoot the woman, but instead, she came home and found him hanging from the tree by the rope. Police reasoned that he was drunk and accidentally hanged himself, although a note in his pocket claimed that he planned to shoot Mrs. B.R. and then hang himself. The tree creaked in an awful way for quite a while before it was finally cut down.

Chuck and Joy not only embrace the paranormal going on at their B & B, but Joy documents the experiences in journals. We are going to share several of those. She started keeping the journals in 2003. The Hansons had three daughters, Cindi, Kristin, and Jinni, and they all experienced things. They had alarm clocks that would set themselves and go off. When the spirit was told to stop, it did. Beds are found messed up after they have been made. Floors are heard creaking and doors lock on their own. Joy sometimes leaves the front entrance unlocked to make it easier for guests to get in, especially during bad weather, and Joy would have to let the guests in because the door had locked. Apparitions have been seen in the mirrors, some that look like gray fogs.

Joy wrote in June of 2002, "We had a customer who was checking in, and while he was filling out his registration form in the foyer, he looked up the stairs and said, 'Is my room up there or over in the annex building?”  I told him his room was in the annex building, Room 2.  He said,  “Good.  ‘Cause you have a ghost up there and I just can’t deal with that tonight.'  He requested no breakfast and he was gone the next morning when I got up. Another customer, around the same time, was checking in.  And as she was filling out her registration form in the foyer, kept looking up the stairs.  She said, 'Did you know you have a ghost up there?'  I answered that we had been told that, but never saw anything ourselves.  Was it male or female?  She said, 'I don’t get a sense of gender.  Just that it is happy here and does not want to leave.  It likes it here.  It is a friendly spirit, it will not hurt you.  It just likes it here.  It may not have been someone who died here, it could have been someone who liked to come here when it was alive and has come back here.  It does not want to leave.'  That’s about all she could tell us. (We now know that was Curtis.)"

In 2003 Joy wrote, "Several times I have encountered a cold spot in the hallway on the second floor.  I get a momentary feeling of disorientation and then it is gone.  When I go back to the place where the cold spot was, it is gone.  Cindi has had similar experiences in the same place.  It is always in the hallway between Room 6 and the closet door on the second floor. A customer told us this story:  One night when he was staying here, (when the McDermets owned the Inn), there was a knock at his bedroom door late at night.  He answered the door, but there was no one there.  He closed the door and there was a knock again.  Once again he opened the door but there was no one there.  The next morning, at breakfast, the other overnight guests were all talking about how they had all had similar experiences the night before with someone knocking on the door but no one was there. About 1am, I heard the door to our bedroom squeak open.  I heard the floor squeak twice as if someone had entered our bedroom.  (It was dark and I did not have my glasses on to be able to see anything).  There was a pause and the floor squeaked twice going back out the door.  Then the door closed with a loud boomp.  This woke Chuck and he sat straight up in bed.  The next morning he said it felt like a cat was sleeping on the foot of our bed.  He could feel the vibrations, like purring, on his left foot.  But when he looked, there was nothing there and then the phone rang and the vibrations quit."
The Hanson's daughter Kristin had this experience in 2003, "She was climbing the stairs to her room on the third floor and she saw something white out of the corner of her eye standing in the doorway to the front bedroom.  As she got closer to get a better look, it disappeared.  The vision lasted only a moment, but the impression Kristin got was that it was an old woman in a long white dress or nightgown, about the same height as she is (5 ft. 4 in.)." A guest shared in June of 2003, "This morning after breakfast, the guest who had stayed in Room 5 the night before, called me aside and said: “I don’t mean to scare you or anything, but did you know you have a ghost here?”  I answered, “Well, yes we have suspected it.  Did you see something?”  She answered, “Sort of.  Last night I was sitting in the rocking chair in my room, reading a magazine.  My husband was in the shower.  Suddenly the room got really cold and I got goose bumps all over my arms and the hair stood up on my arms and the back of my neck.  Then I saw an area of fog begin to form over by the twin bed.  I just watched as the fog got thicker and I could almost see the head of an old man, but then the fog just vanished.  Then the room warmed up and I thought to myself “that was interesting” and I went back to my magazine.  It was not scary or anything, just interesting.  So I just wondered if you knew you had a ghost here.”

 Joy wrote in August 2003, "Yesterday we had two people here who said they could see and sense several ghosts in the Inn.  (Their names are "Dan" and "Jessica".)  They said there is a little boy, about 10 to 12 years old or so, who sits on the second floor landing and waves at people as they pass by.  (This might be George.)  Then he is sad when they don’t wave back.  They said there is a bloody body on the sidewalk in front of the Inn.  Someone fell down the back staircase and broke her neck.  Someone was killed in the dining room by the bay windows by 4 men at about midnight, and it is reenacted every night.  Something bad happened in Room 7 and there is still a lot of bad energy in there.  The doctor equipment in Room 5 still holds lots of energy from it’s owner. There is a woman in the southern 3rd floor room who likes to look through our stuff in there.  (We use that room as a storage room and Cindi says she hears things moving around in there.)  They said there is a protective spirit in the dining room who likes to take care of the house. (Fannie Mason Kurtz died in the dining room in 1951.)  Dan said he saw a woman brushing her hair while seated at the mirror in Room 5.  She turned to look at him when he entered the room, and then went back to her grooming.  All in all, they said the ghosts know we are here, they are aware of us.  They don’t like it that we are here, but they are used to us and won’t hurt us.  The little boy is mischievous and likes to play pranks."
"We had 2 different guests mention things today.  One was a man who took a tour of the Inn and later commented that something violent happened in Room 7.  He got some very strong feelings when he was in there.  The same day, there was a lady eating lunch in the dining room.  She kept looking over toward the fireplace.  Then she commented to her friend that there was a spirit in the room.  The friend said she should tell the owners.  I happened to be clearing the table nearby and heard all this.  The lady then looked at me and said 'Someone died in here.”  I said she was right.  The lady said “It is a woman.  She died here by the fireplace.  She is still here in the room walking among the guests.  She is happy.'  I told her about Fannie Kurtz.  The lady said 'She is still here.'"

Joy has seen a spirit named Buck several times. She wrote this in 2005, "Tonight I was struggling to get a large piece of wood in the woodstove in the Keeping Room.  It was heavy and a little too big and already burning on the far end.  I was struggling to get it into the stove when I heard the floor squeak behind me.  I turned my head just far enough to see a man wearing a long-sleeved cream-colored shirt standing outside the bedroom door watching me.  Because I was not looking through my glasses lens, the figure was fuzzy except for color. Thinking it was Chuck, (I knew he was wearing his long-john shirt which is cream and he was in the bedroom watching basketball) I went back to my wood thinking he would come and help me push.  When he did not come help me, I looked again and he was gone.  Just then the wood slipped into the stove and I closed the door and went into the bedroom to ask Chuck why he did not help me.  Chuck said he did not go into the Keeping Room, he did not know I needed help, he had been in the bedroom all along.  I think it was Buck again.  He wore a cream colored long-sleeve shirt when I saw him before."
In April of 2005,  "Last night we had a group here from Iowa State University having a staffing retreat.  This morning I was in the kitchen listening to the chatter in the dining room during breakfast.  The people were discussing whether they had slept good or not.  My ears picked up on the lady who had been in Room 7.  She said every time she was about to doze off, she got poked in her arm.  She thought it was a muscle twitch, but it felt like a poking, and it went on all night long.  So she did not get much sleep.  When I went to clean Room 7, it was obvious that the lady had slept on the right side nearest the window.  This is the side that gets messed up.  I wonder if someone was wanting her to move over." 

In May of 2005 Christopher Moon from Denver, Colorado who ran the online magazine Haunted Times Magazine visited. "Late Friday night, the 20th, Christopher and his father, Dennis, arrived just before midnight and they did a preliminary reading with an electrical detecting meter, digital cameras, temperature gauge, and a digital voice recorder.  We did readings in the dining room, Mary’s room, outside, in the parlor, and in Room 7.  We did voice recordings in the dining room, Mary’s room, and Room 7, and got a lot of clicks and pops and beeping noises, mostly.  But we also got a small child’s voice in Room 7.  Chuck asked "Did you arrive by steamboat, train, or stagecoach?”  and a child’s voice answered what sounded like “maybe”.  Christopher thought it sounded like a girl about 3 or 4 years old.  After he went to bed, he said she visited his room (4) as a shadow, but did not say anything.   In Mary’s room, in back of the scratching and popping sounds is the sound of a creaking rocking chair.  We got to bed about 3am.   On Saturday the 21st, our guests arrived around 1:30pm and we started the class around 2pm.  Chris described the various tools and machines he uses in his investigations and some terms.  We broke for dinner and then the fun began.  After Chuck and I gave a short history lesson, the group went up to the Bentonsport Cemetery to look around and see what we could get.  Mostly we got a lot of orbs and we did an EVP reading and got a definite answer to the question “Are there any Masons here?”  Don’t know if it was yes or no, but it was abrupt.  We stopped at the Presbyterian Church building on the way back and Christopher got a shooting orb on a video camera that shot over the top of the building!   When we got back to the Inn, we broke into groups and did pictures and EVP readings in various rooms.  In Room 6, Christopher and another man said they felt their shirt hem being tugged on.  We got a lot of orbs and some interesting voice recordings.  Here are some questions and answers:   “Do you know you are dead?”  ---  “yessss”.  “Are you happy here?”  ---  “happy”.  “Do you have anything to tell the owners?”  ---  “tell them we are happy”,  “not to leave now”.  (A few days earlier, Chuck and I had been talking to Bill and Betty Printy about moving back to Dayton.)   “Did you die here?” ---  “no” “yesss”.  (2 different voices).  We got to bed about 1am.  This morning, the 22nd, "Debbie" reported being touched on her arm during the night in Room 6.  The people staying in Room 8 were gone before breakfast, don’t know why." Joy called those people and said, "Today I called the people from Room 8 who left early.  She said their toilet kept flushing by itself and they heard footsteps walking around upstairs and it was too creepy so they left around 3am.  They live nearby so they just went home to get some sleep. We checked the  toilet and there was nothing wrong with it."

This was from August 2005, "We had a couple in Room 5 last night who were hoping something would happen.  Boy did they get their wish.  They had heard about the rocking chair sounds and were laying in bed listening, but the husband fell asleep without hearing anything.  Soon after that, the wife "Tamara" heard a man or men talking.  It was dim and she could not make out what they were saying.  She thought it was the TV or maybe someone outside.  She got up and looked out the window and did not see anyone.  She went down to the dining room and found it dark and quiet.  She went back upstairs and back to bed.  The talking got louder and louder and then she felt a cold spot forming on her left thigh and her chest.  She looked at her leg and saw goosebumps in that area.  Then she felt a pressure on her thigh and her chest pressing her into the bed.  It pressed her hard and she could not move and found it hard to breathe.  Then the muttering voice got very loud and seemed to come from right above her face.  She said it a man’s voice, low and gravely.  She could not understand what he was saying and she was trying very hard to figure out what he was trying to tell her.  He got loud and insistent.  It lasted for what she called a long minute, and then it was gone.  She felt her chest and it was ice cold.  She woke her husband and asked him if he had heard any of it and he had not.  But he felt her thigh and chest and said they both were ice cold."

This was from November 2005, "This morning at breakfast, the lady who stayed in Room 5 last night, asked if any of the guests had a little girl.  We said there were no children.  She told us that last night, as she was climbing the stairs to go to her room, she saw a little girl about 3 or 4 years old run across the top of the stairway, like from Room 4 area over to Room 6.  She was wearing a long white nightgown, and just ran across and that was all.  But there were no children guests in the Inn that night.  Did she see Robin?"

Now jumping to 2009, "Chuck and Jinni and I have been sleeping up in Room 7 because our room is sooooo cold.  Our room / office is in the old horse stable building, and there is no heat in there.  We have a space heater going, but when it is in the minus-degrees outside, like it has been lately, the space heater just can't keep it warm enough to sleep in there.  Anyway, all the guest rooms have their own heaters and are nice and toasty warm, so we have been sleeping upstairs.  A few little interesting things have happened, night I heard Jinni shifting around in her bed, like she does when she is being annoyed.  Then I heard her say, "Stop it.  That's my blanket."  Then she went back to sleep.  I asked her about it the next morning and she said someone kept pulling off her blanket, she did not know who it was.  One night, Jinni and I had gone to bed, but Chuck had stayed up to watch a football game.  About 11pm, I heard the bedroom door open, close, and footsteps shuffled into the room, but nobody got into the bed.  I looked, expecting Chuck, but no one was there.  Chuck finally came to bed about midnight and I asked him if he had looked in on us earlier and he said he hadn't.  Well, somebody did!  The next morning, there was alot of knocking going on in the room.  There was a knock on our headboard, on the wall across from my side of the bed, and on the wall next to Chuck's head.  It sounded like one, loud rap with knuckles on wood.  Chuck also said he heard some noise on the third floor like something heavy being slid across the floor up there.  Last Saturday, I was talking to Cindi on the phone and she made a comment about poopy baby diapers, and I heard a woman say "There's nothing I can do about that."  It was really clear, but Cindi did not hear it, so it was only on my end.  I don't know if that was paranormal, but it was definitely not-normal.  We have had voices in the phone before, but not that clear."

January 2009, "Last night there was a team of four ladies who are part of a paranormal investigation team from Illinois.  They had some interesting personal experiences.  They heard knocking on the walls and sounds of someone walking around in the hallway, when they were all in Room 6.  They used their pendulum to ask questions and it was reacting well.  They took pictures throughout the night, but the ones they took during and right after the pendulum sessions were full of orbs and they were very impressed by this.  Something that I noticed was that about 8pm the ladies and I were talking in Room 6, along with Doug, another investigator from near Chicago, and we were sitting near the hallway.  At one point I heard the sound of someone coming up the stairs but no body came up.  Another time I heard footsteps in the hallway, down toward Room 7, and I looked and saw nothing, but the sounds were there.  Then, in the area where Doug and I were sitting, the temperature dropped suddenly and Doug broke out in goosebumps on his right arm but not on his left, his right arm being the one near me.  I got so cold I started shivering.  This lasted for about a minute then it warmed up.  I wonder who it was that was standing there listening to us talk. Doug told me a story of something that happened the last time he was here with a friend:  They were staying in Room 5, with Doug in the big bed and his friend in one of the twin beds in the adjoining room.  About 1:15am, the friend started yelling at Doug for shaking his bed, thinking Doug was playing a trick on him.  But Doug answered that he was over in the other room.  When the friend realized that it was not Doug, he jumped out of the twin bed and ran over to the big bed with Doug.  He would not go back to sleep alone.  He said the mattress of the twin bed was actually picked up at the foot and dropped several times.  As long as he thought it was Doug, he was just annoyed.  But when he found out it was not Doug, it really scared him.  He spent the rest of the night on top of the covers of the big bed and would not go back to the twin bed.  I've never heard of anything so violent before, I'm guessing Harold really wanted to get this guy's attention!"

March 2009, "Last Thursday night, there was a husband and wife and two teenaged girls staying in Room 5.  The girls asked to try my pendulum, so I let them borrow it for the evening.  They tried to talk to anybody who wanted to do it and the only one who answered was Mary.  The girls were happy to talk to Mary and they said they had a nice conversation.  During the night, the two girls were in the twin beds and they heard footsteps walking around and around near them.  One girl saw a glowing orb next to her bed, low to the ground.  At first she thought it was her cell phone screen, but then realized that her phone was not there.  About the same time, the lady in the big bed woke up and saw the shadow of a man standing next to the bed.  He was wearing a 'baseball type' hat with a short brim.  It lasted a few seconds and then he faded away.  Then she saw the shadow of a woman, also standing next to the bed.  She could see the shadow was wearing a long dress or skirt.  The shadow turned and walked through the wall.  The lady said she had heard the walking-around sounds coming from the girl's side of the room, but thought it was the girls.  The husband slept through the whole thing, but later admitted that he had smelled a perfume that he had never smelled before.  He chalked it up to something new his wife was wearing, but she said she was not wearing any perfume."

February 2010, "There was a ghost hunting group here last night from Minnesota.  They had some pretty good personal experiences.  Early in the evening, one man saw a moving shadow that could not be accounted for.  The woman heard the scratching / tapping sounds that we have heard in Room 1, except she heard it in the Parlor.  The K2 meter reacted whenever the group talked to Harold.  They heard little running footsteps in the hallway, like those of a child.  The woman had an experience in her room during the night that disturbed her enough to go sleep in another room.  She did not say at the time what it was that disturbed her, and she left early, so the leader is going to talk to her tomorrow to see what happened.  They are going to review their video and audio recordings and let us know if they get anything interesting.  I'll let you know what the woman says as soon as I find out." and "This morning, Jinni and I were in the kitchen.  She was making her own breakfast and I was making breakfast for the guests.  She looked at the wall calendar and noted that tomorrow is Valentine's Day.  So she said "Happy Valentine's Day!", and a man's voice said "Thank you".  She looked at me and I looked at her and I asked her who said that.  She shrugged and answered that it must have been Dad (Chuck).  I went and looked in the dining room and there was no one there.  Chuck, I knew, was in the bathroom shaving, and it was not his voice anyway, it was a deeper tone.  It must have been Curtis again.  I think he likes to hang out in the kitchen."

March 2010, "This past weekend we had a ghost hunting group here from the Des Moines area.  Right away they started having some interesting experiences.  While looking at the doctor's equipment in Room 5, the bathroom door swung closed and latched.  Nobody was near it and there were no windows open, no breeze, no explanation.  Later, the doctor's equipment started swaying and swinging on their hooks.  The group tried to duplicate it with walking around and near it, but could not duplicate it.  During the night, one member saw a girl in a white nightgown standing on the landing and took a picture.  Hopefully they will send it to us to share here in the Journal.  They heard music and people talking, but could not figure out where it was coming from.  The twin bed in Room 5 by the wall was shaken during the night, it really surprised the young lady sleeping in it!  They heard footsteps in the hallway and up and down the staircase.  And they heard footsteps up on the third floor when nobody was up there.  In Room 6, the people saw moving shadows and heard footsteps in the room and hallway.  About 2am, there was a loud bang, but nobody could explain where the sound came from.  They got lots of orbs in the pictures and had wild temperature swings during the EVP sessions.   While sitting in the Parlor, they heard footsteps and a sound of chairs moving in the dining room, but nobody was in there.   All in all it was a very exciting and interesting night for them.  Their web site is"

April 2010, "The three ladies who stayed in Room 7 this past weekend had a busy time.  The two sharing the big bed said that every time they closed their eyes, the bed would shake like somebody was bumping against it.  They were watching a movie on their laptop, and one saw a little girl run across the room behind the computer screen.  The lady in the twin bed said she felt a cat jump onto the bed and curl up.  The other lady took a picture and they got what looks like cat eye shaped orbs.  They went around the Inn taking pictures of the different rooms and got a very bright orb in Room 6 with the face of a bald man in it.  They also got two orbs outside Jinni's door that have the face of a girl and a cat.  They have been here several times and always get some interesting interaction.  I think the spirits like their energy."

June 2010, "We went on a little vacation last week and when we returned we found quite a surprise.  We had cleaned all the rooms before we left, knowing we had guests arriving as soon as we got back.  I had done a check of all the rooms to make sure they were ready before we left.  When we got back, several beds were messed up.  Room 5's twin beds had cat footprints in them and the pillow had a head divot in it.  Room 6's big bed looked like somebody had sat on it (rear-end marks).  And Room 7's twin bed was really messed up.  The quilt was pulled down and the pillow was in the middle of the bed.  Somebody had pulled a "Goldilocks" on us and tried out the beds!  The next morning, my parents, who have been staying in Room 1, said they heard footsteps up in Room 6 all night long.  Somebody was up there walking back and forth and back and forth.  They thought somebody had checked in already, but nobody was up in that room during the night."

August 2010, "There was quite a bit of activity this weekend.  The couple in Room 7 said they felt somebody sit on the foot of the bed during the night.  When they came down for breakfast, they had made the bed and when they went back upstairs after breakfast, the bed looked like somebody had been laying on it.  Curtis is up to his tricks in there.  The ladies in Room 5 used the pendulum to talk to Harold, Curtis, Fannie, Amanda, and Mary.  During an EVP session, they heard two POP! sounds coming from the opposite corner of the room.  The twin bed by the wall was knocked on underneath the mattress.  The chandelier swung for about 20 minutes then stopped.  The ladies could not recreate it and keep it swinging for that long.  They locked their door and in the morning they found it unlocked.  The curtains were swaying in and out and they could not recreate that either.  I think Harold was having a good time with them."

Halloween 2010, "Wow, what a busy night we had last night!  We did one of our Ghost Stories Dinners (the next one is Nov. 6)  and had 21 people attending.  During our program about the things that happen around here, we heard alot of thumping upstairs on the second floor.  It was going on in Rooms 4 and 7 and in the hallway, we all heard it.  We made sure everybody was in the dining room and nobody was upstairs.  Later I asked Curtis about it on my pendulum and he said it was the children playing.  During the night, the people in Room 6 heard a woman singing up on the third floor above their room.  That must have been Mary since her room is up there.  The people in  Rooms 1 and 5 both heard children playing and giggling in the foyer and on the staircase.  The people in Room 8 heard shuffling footsteps outside their door about 2am, and they had a K2 meter and  they asked yes and no questions and found they had Morris and Harold in their room.  The K2 meter detects Electro-Magnetic Fields and will light up when something with electric magnetism gets near it.   She told the spirits to touch the K2 and make the "Christmas Lights" come on if the answer is yes.  She asked several questions to narrow it down to Morris and Harold.  During our evening program, the lady got really cold on one side and her leg felt like someone was sitting on her.  She asked if that was Morris sitting on her lap and the K2 indicated yes.  In a different room, I was talking to Curtis on the pendulum and he also said yes, Morris likes the lady.  

tks617 wrote in 2019, "Usually, I leave reputedly haunted places disappointed without having had an experience. I definitely did not leave the Mason House Inn disappointed on that count. Some very strange things happened--and I felt as if mischievous spirits were at play."

There are literally dozens of experiences here, which makes it hard to not believe that something unexplained is going on here. Just how many spirits are here is a mystery. Is Mason House Inn haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, March 9, 2023

HGB Ep. 477 - Investigation of Lilian Place

Moment in Oddity - Mimizuka Ear Mound

On History Goes Bump, we often discuss mounds of different varieties left by indigenous people. Sometimes they are mounds for holding rituals, sometimes they are gathering places, or they can also be burial mounds. There is a very unique burial mound found in Kyoto Japan called the Mimizuka Ear Mound. This is a memorial burial mound in south east Kyoto for the noses of Korean soldiers and some Chinese civilians killed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi's invading armies in the late 16th century. Although the location is commonly known as the ear mound, it's original name was Hanazuka, or 'Nose Mound'. In 1597, Hideyoshi ordered a campaign to try and seize the Korean Peninsula while heading towards conquering Ming China. During this time Hideyoshi ordered the entire populace of certain locations killed and their heads to be shipped back to Japan as proof. As it turned out, there were so many bodies that the soldiers needed to conserve space in the shipping of the corpses, so they began removing the noses from the heads to reduce the size of their "proof". It is told that tens of thousands of noses were buried in the Mimizuka Mound. Hideyoshi ordered the memorial built in what is perceived as an act of contrition, however it also could have served as a warning to other nations not to challenge the Japanese military. Regardless of the reason for building the mound, one thing is for certain, a burial mound containing just noses, certainly is odd.

This Month in History -  Penn's Pennsylvania Land Grant

In the month of March, on the 4th in 1681, King Charles II of England granted a huge tract of land in the New World to William Penn. This transaction served as a method to settle an outstanding debt that the English crown owed to William's father. Once Penn received the 45,000 square miles of land from the Crown, he set about attracting investors and settlers. By the year 1685, he had sold 600 individual tracts making up 700,000 acres of Pennsylvania’s land in the Quaker settlement. By 1700, that number increased to 800,000 acres sold. Although Englishmen made up the majority of the First Purchasers, Penn also concentrated advertising efforts in continental Europe as well. This attracted individual investors from Germany, Holland, and France. William Penn offered land tracts of varying sizes which not only appealed to those of higher means, but also to those of more humble circumstances with some plots as small as 125 acres. William Penn established Pennsylvania as one of the largest Restoration colonies eventually making it the geographic center of British colonial America. 

Investigation of Lilian Place

Lilian Place is a Victorian house named after a member of the Thompson family. This was a pioneer family of Daytona Beach and the house remained in the family for decades. We had done a daytime historical tour several years ago and produced a BonusCast based on that visit in which we actually captured EVPs and heard some ghost stories after the tour was over. We couldn't pass up a chance to return and do some investigating. Join us and our listener Bailey as we share the history of this great historic house and the results of our investigation!  

Getting out to island strips along the Atlantic Coast of Florida wasn't easy during the Victorian era. Living there would be even harder. The only way to make this feasible was to build bridges and many have been built through the past 150 years. Many people know Daytona Beach for two things: beaches and auto racing. But there was much more to this town that actually started as three towns that merged together: Daytona, Daytona Beach and Seabreeze. Daytona was founded by and named for Ohio entrepreneur Mathias Day. In 1870, he bought part of a land grant along an uninhabited mainland riverfront and dreamed of selling lots. That venture didn't work out well and only a few families built homes there, but Day was still referred to as the Pied Piper of Cincinnati since he convinced several families to leave the prosperous city and come down to this rugged area of humidity and mosquitos. Daytona Beach eventually became a place for the testing of automobiles and then racing and the hard packed beach made this one of the most famous beaches in the world, which is one of only a handful that allow cars to drive and park on the beach.

But long before all that, another entrepreneur was attracted to the area, Laurence Thompson. He and his wife Mary Eliza had lived in Ohio and knew Mathias Day who invited them to come on down. This wasn't an easy trip as the train only traveled as far south as Jacksonville. They had to take a boat to get further down to a place called Enterprise and then it was a horse-drawn wagon to New Smyrna and another boat to Tomoka, which is what Daytona was originally known as. Once there, they stayed at Day's hotel called the Palmetto House. Laurence and Mary Eliza did this all with two kids in tow, three-year-old Lilian and six-month-old Laurence Junior. Laurence was in the dry goods business and he bought property on South Beach Street from Day's brother Calvin and lived in the house that was already there. They built a dry goods store next door. This was in 1875 and the store served about seventy inhabitants living in the area. Laurence's brother Graham ran the business with him and they opened the upper hall as a meeting room. 

A little fun side story that we ran across connected to Thompson's store is connected to the start of the Daytona Beach News-Journal. The man who launched the paper in 1883, Florian A. Mann, had promised the small community that the paper would be out on February 1st, but that date passed with no paper. Apparently, the schooner carrying the newsprint had sunk. People were restless and Mann walked by the Thompson dry goods and got an idea when he saw the bolts of cloth in the window. He ran in and bought a roll of white cotton cloth that had a border of red-and-blue forget-me-nots and ran that through his press since it was about the same size. It worked!

Laurence eventually became city clerk for the fledgling town and tried his hand at growing citrus, but decided real estate would be more profitable. And that's where he made some serious money. Enough to build his family a mansion, the first one on the beachside penisula of Daytona Beach. This house would overlook the Halifax River and was built in 1884. This is an Italianate Victorian styled house with a tall middle column that for many years was the highest structure in Daytona Beach. That seems almost laughable now with all the nearby high-rise condos and hotels. The tower has a widow's walk that comes out from it like a small balcony. The interior featured high ceilings, wood crown moldings, carved wood mantle pieces and heart-of-pine floors. There are only a couple of pieces of furniture in the house original to the family, but period pieces were found that match a Victorian timeline and there are many interesting antiques inside. The house is painted to match its original look in yellow with green and red trim. The house also features some pocket windows. The most unique feature of the house is the staircase. The balusters are made to look like Ts for Thompson and the stairway branches off into two. We didn't get to visit the third floor when we came to do the historical tour, but for the ghost hunt we did and we spent most of our time there. There are two small rooms up there. There were several bedrooms on the second floor. The first floor had the parlor and dining room.

In 1896, The Halifax River Yacht Club was founded and Laurence was one of those founding members. As a matter of fact, he allowed the club to build a wharf off of his property. This club is the oldest on the East Coast that is still meeting in its original spot. Laurence also donated land for building one of the bridges to the mainland. Mary Eliza was very active in her husband's businesses and in social circles, besides raising three children. She and Laurence added Harrison to their family about eight years after moving to Florida. She was a charter member of the Palmetto Club and helped with their Children of Working Negro Women where she met Mary McLeod Bethune. Bethune was an educator and Civil Rights leader who was best known for starting a black school in Daytona Beach, Daytona Literary and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls, that is today Bethune-Cookman University. She also helped found the United Negro College Fund and counseled U.S. Presidents. Her relationship with Mary Eliza was special enough that Dr. Bethune spoke at her memorial.

But like many moms, legend claims that Mary Eliza could be a little meddling in the love lives of her children and when she found out her only daughter was in love with a commoner, she ran the man off. So Lilian never married and lived with her parents. Mary Eliza died in 1909 and Laurence died in 1920 from a stroke and Lilian inherited the mansion that is now named for her. She raised her nephew Harrison Thompson Jr. when his parents Lucy and Harry divorced. She stayed in the house until her death in 1934 and the house was sold to a relative named Alice Dalton to keep it in the family and Alice is the one who named it Lilian Place. She rented the house to the Wells family and eventually gave the house to Patricia Thompson Bennett who was the daughter of Laurence Jr. 

Pat moved into the house with her husband in 1949. There had been an apartment on the southeast side of the house and that is where she lived. Diane was listening to an interview with Pat and she very nonchalantly mentioned that the apartment was interesting because that is where the ghost Lucille lives. Nobody really knows where Lucille comes from or her history. Before our hunt, Sherry our guide said that there is a legend that Harry was supposed to marry Lucille, but he fell in love with a Lucy instead and so Lucille climbed up to the widow's walk and threw herself to her death. We'll talk more about that in a bit. Pat stayed in the house until 1984 when the house was sold to Greg and Susan McDole and they restored the house. A carriage house on the property was turned into four apartments. Michael and Suzanne Riccitiello acquired the property in 2002 and renovated it into a six-room bed and breakfast and furnished it with 1880s furnishings and embraced its Victorian heritage. Suzanne passed away in 2006 and Michael left, leaving the property abandoned. The Heritage Preservation trust was able to buy the house with a grant in 2009 and today it is a museum hosting tours and events. The events we especially like are the ghost hunts the last weekend of every month. And another we want to partake of are their dinner ghost hunts on the first weekend of the month.

An interesting connection to this house centers on the author of "The Red Badge of Courage," Stephen Crane. On New Year’s Eve of 1896, Crane was riding aboard a ship called The Commodore which was beginning its fifth attempt to take munitions to Cuban insurrectionists. He was going as a journalist to cover the insurrection against Spain. A Captain wrote of the ship, "The Commodore was a fine boat. She carried her load like a cork and breasted the waves like a duck." It was foggy when it was off of Jacksonville and it hit a sandbar. They managed to get off the sandbar, but the ship started taking on water. People boarded lifeboats and Crane got into an open boat that was only ten feet long, barely big enough for the four men in it. The men spent a day in the boat, barely holding on until they were to Daytona Beach and a young man named John Kitchell jumped into the cold water and brought each man to shore. He saved three of them, but a fourth had died. One of the men was the Captain of the ship and he was taken with another man to Surf Crest cottage and Crane was taken to Lilian Place to recoup. His girlfriend Cora spent time with him there and as a thank you, Crane sent an autographed copy of "The Red Badge of Courage" to the family. The book became lost through the years. Stephen Crane must have liked his time here because his spirit has been seen in the house. There are some who claim that Cora also joins him in spirit form. Crane died young at the age of 28 and he and Cora never had the chance to marry. She took on his last name though and is buried under a headstone as Cora Crane. Their time here must have been very special.

When we visited the house the first time, we didn't know much about any hauntings here. We were excited when our tour guide who was a seventy-year-old gentleman brought up spirit activity in the house. So when we decided to join the ghost hunt here, we knew there was a little bit of activity, but we had no clue about just how many spirits are thought to be in this location. And the activity for us didn't stop. We bought a new piece of equipment and it worked like a charm! (Explain the Ghost Stop SBox) And we also brought a Poor Man's Boo Bear with us. It worked great too and we have a video up on YouTube that shows that.

So let's talk about experiences in this house before we share our results. We mentioned Lucille earlier. Visitors have reported seeing an apparition of a woman walking into rooms or down hallways and then disappearing. And this spirit has been seen looking out of the second floor windows. And these sightings have been going on for over a hundred years. They got the name Lucille because this entity gave it. One night some visitors were staying on the second floor when they were awakened by a presence. This was a woman in a period dress with a high collar and she was pouring a glass of water from a pitcher. She turned to them and said, "Don't be afraid. My name is Lucille. I am not going to harm you." She set down the glass and left the room. She looked very real so the guests asked why this woman had been sent to their room and no one knew who they were talking about. The description didn't fit anybody in the house. 

When Pat lived in the house, she had placed her infant daughter in a crib on the second floor and when she went to check on the baby, she found her on the floor, swaddled neatly in blankets and peacefully asleep. All three of Pat's daughters reported paranormal experiences throughout all the years they lived there, although they never saw the ghost. The vacuum cleaner would turn itself on, windows would lock on their own and door knobs would rattle. Sometimes the water faucets would turn on on their own and footsteps were heard on the staircases. Mike Riccitiello, who started the B&B, shared some of his stories with Nancy Zrinyi Long in her 2012 book "The Ghosts of Lilian Place." He said, "My wife and I moved into Lilian Place in 2002. We had heard some rumors of the house being haunted, but we had no encounters or strange occurrences during the long year we spent renovating the old house into a period bed & breakfast. Occasionally we might find a light turned on, or did we leave it on? Sometimes water would be running in the second floor bathroom, but we assumed it was human forgetfulness. One strange occurrence was on Christmas Day shortly after we moved in and had decorated the site. We had a nine-foot Christmas tree set up in the Parlor, fully decorated with old ornaments and lights. When the family came downstairs Christmas morning, the huge tree was lying on the floor between the table and couch as if someone had slowly lowered it to the ground. Not a bulb or ornament was broken, and no one had heard any noise during the night, but there lay the tree on its side!"

Also during that tenure, they hosted weddings and one bride told them she saw a woman in a white dress that looked to be from the 1800s looking out at her from a window during the ceremony. She asked who the woman was and why she hadn't been seated down on the lawn with the rest of the guests. Mike then explained to her that the house had been locked up during the ceremony and that no one was inside. Another guest reported awakening at 7am and seeing a man in a old period jacket and ruffled shirt, standing at the foot of the bed. This man turned, opened the door and walked out. When the guest and his wife went down to breakfast, they commented about the employee waking them up that morning. Mike looked at them funny and then said they didn't do that kind of thing and had no employees dressed like that. And the couple were the only people on the second floor. Later the couple was looking at a book about the history of the house and saw a picture of Stephen Crane in there. They told Mike that was the man in their room that morning. 

This was a large group for the ghost hunt, probably about twenty of us, so we were at first worried that this wouldn't be such a good investigation and since it was Bailey's first time, we wanted it to be good. This group turned out to be very respectful and pretty darn quiet. We only had two hours, so we knew we wouldn't get to the whole house, but we certainly weren't expecting to basically just stay on the third floor, but that place was hopping for us! Sherry introduced herself and our ghost hunt leader Mr. Ed and told us a bit about the house. (Sherry Intro) Mr. Ed shared a story with us and a picture and if it was real, it was amazing. It really looked like the spirit of a little girl next to this door he talks about. (Mr Ed Story) During the introductions, we could hear that a REM Pod was going crazy above us, so we headed up the stairs first. We went into a bedroom that had a REM Pod in it, but this probably wasn't the right one because we seemed to get no interaction in here. Based on our later experiences, we're pretty sure the REM Pod that was going off was the one on the third floor. It is up there that people claim to interact with children and that was certainly our experience.

The staircase leading to the third floor is very narrow and opens into a room with a low ceiling. There are only two rooms up here. The further room looks over the river through two arched windows that Sherry told us people had captured pictures of spirits in. That room had the REM Pod and a laser grid. We started in the first room and popped a squat to conduct our first Estes Session with our new SBox and what we are going to do is intersperse the Sbox recording with this and see what you guys hear. Is it the same as Diane? And here at the beginning you'll hear Diane say "speak" a couple times. That literally came up dozens of times. Made us wonder if there was a bunch of spirits here and one of them was running the show to keep it orderly. (Estes Lilian 1) Wait, what was that?! (Homosexual) Diane was talking fairly loudly and got a bit of attention with that. So was this referring to us or something else? Here is the rest of that session.(Estes Lilian 1 Part 2) There was about 30 seconds of the SBox still going without Diane listening and we got this (Estes Walk with Me) Is it walk with me or fuck with me? And then almost sounded like a woman saying swimming. Kelly used her dowsing rods to ask a few questions during this too.

Bailey tried her hand at the Estes Method and right at the beginning I'm throwing in the first word that came through, but it wasn't heard by Bailey yet. We think it was "sacred" (Estes Lilian 2) So at the beginning Bailey had said "dead" but we think it said Ed and we were wondering if this was referring to our ghost host. And the "record yourself" sounded more like core truth? Not sure what that was referring to. The scary actually sounded like it might be a woman saying Mary. Was this Mary Eliza? (Mary SBox) Towards the end you hear us interacting with a cat ball, which did light up on command in Diane's hand. This was Bailey's first time doing this so there were some things that came through that she might not have heard. Is this Thompson, the family name? (Thompson SBox) This came through when we were asking about going to beach and swimming. (Didn't want SBox) Is this saying they didn't want to swim? And listen to this clear sentence from a female (Well maybe I'm weak SBox) And See us (See us SBox)

We decided to go into the other room since the REM Pod kept going off and we took the Boo Bear. We did our third and last Estes Session in here. A little warning, about 3.5 minutes in the REM Pod goes off and it is high pitched. (Estes Lilian 3) At the end Bailey asks who this is, but I'm already in the process of taking off the headphones so I didn't hear that we might have gotten the name Howie. That singing part was so cool!

Then Kelly got out the dowsing rods. Another warning, there is REM Pod activity at the beginning so watch your ears. (Lilian Dowsing) It seems we were communicating with a 12-year-old boy, although the REM Pod went off when we asked if we had a girl too. And Kelly definitely felt like there was more than one spirit using the rods and we got two different positions in the room pointed out. We have the video of the EMF going off with the bear on our YouTube channel and it's up on the Facebook Crew and Instagram.

Then we moved onto the nursery and set the bear on the floor. There was a small crib with a baby doll in it and a smaller REM pod. (Lilian Nursery) So the REM Pod was going off quite a bit and on command. And the ball lit up on command too. And yes, we did leave the bear.

This was such a fun investigation and for a place not really known for its activity, it was very active for us. Probably one of the best investigations we have been on. This is a wonderful Victorian mansion with so much history and love connected to it. Is Lilian Place haunted? That is for you to decide!