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!

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