Thursday, June 22, 2023

HGB Ep. 492 - Haunted Cemeteries 26

Moment in Oddity - Got Milk? (Suggested by: Jared Rang)

Whom of us has not heard the pro-dairy slogan of, 'Got Milk', or 'Milk, it does a body good'? Would you believe that it was strictly related to a modern marketing strategy that was caused by a milk surplus that dates back as far as World War I? That was the incident that began America's century-long milk surplus. During the first world war, the US government started sending dairy products consisting mostly of canned and powdered milk to soldiers oversees. This prompted the dairy farmers to ramp up their production. When the war ended the surplus milk production did not which created extremely low milk prices. This prompted dairy farmers to stage strikes and unionized during the 1930's. Once WWII started, milk's demand again rose, albeit slightly. Along with the usual milk staples, the government actually created a floating barge that created ice cream for sailors and marines. The concrete barge was towed around the Pacific, distributing ice cream to ships incapable of making their own. It held more than 2,000 gallons of ice cream and churned out 10 gallons every seven minutes. Talk about a morale booster! Although the dairy demand had increased during WWII there was still a surplus. In response to this, the government created federal programs to artificially drive up the demand for milk. The first program was the 1940 Federal Milk Program for Schools following with President Truman passing the National School Lunch Act which mandated that each lunch provided needed to include milk. Despite those government funded campaigns, there was still a surplus which began the production of 'government cheese' of which some of us are familiar. Today, there is the Dairy Checkoff Program, with some participants being Pizza Hut's Stuffed Crust Pizza and Taco Bell's Quesalupa and the Quesarito that came after. Domino's pizzas now have 40% more cheese than days of old and Starbucks is more heavy handed with their milk to coffee ratio. Until now, I had no idea that those milk based TV commercials had such a historical, half and half scoop behind them, but one thing I do know is that they certainly are odd.

This Month in History - The Birth of Mildred J. Hill

In the month of June, on the 27th, in 1859, American musician Mildred J Hill was born. She learned music from her father and Adolf Weidig, an American composer. If you have ever sung the 'Happy Birthday' song to someone, you have page homage to Mildred and her sister Patty. Mildred wrote the music for this well known ditty and it is said that Patty wrote the lyrics. Originally the song was written as "Good Morning to All", a greeting song from teachers to their kindergarten students. In 1893, the song was published in "Song Stories for the Kindergarten". Mildred and Patty were leaders in the national kindergarten movement, promoting the importance of "purposeful play, creativity and social responsibility", as they were taught by their parents. "Happy Birthday to You" first appeared in print in 1912 and its popularity continued to grow through the 1930's. Mildred J Hill died on June 5th, 1916 and is buried at Cave Hill Cemetery and Arboretum in Louisville, Kentucky.  She and her sister Patty were posthumously inducted into The Songwriter's Hall of Fame on June 12, 1996. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, "Happy Birthday to You" is one of the three most popular songs in the English Language.

Haunted Cemeteries 26

There really is no place quite as peaceful as a graveyard. The dead generally don't talk. Introverts don't have to pretend to read a book to remain undisturbed. Extraverts can take comfort in the fact that they are surrounded by a captive audience. Everyone can take solace in the idea that when they are gone, they will have a spot to keep their memory alive. Perhaps this is why so many of these cemeteries seem to be haunted. A spirit just wants to be near their memorial. Join us as we feature haunted cemeteries from England, Arkansas, Minnesota, Vermont, Florida, and Illinois!

All Saints Churchyard in Patcham

All Saints Church stands on a hill above the village of Patcham and was built in the 12th century in an Early English and Decorated style. Many British churches and cathedrals were built in that Decorated style, which is most visible in the elaborate tracery on windows and such. The oldest part of the church is the nave with the chancel and tower, topped by a turret spire. The outside is cement with interior walls of flint with stone dressings. There is a Gothic arch over the south porch that was built in the 14th century. The church has been restored many times through the centuries and has room for 350 people. There are several memories inside, one of which is for the Shelley family, early owners in Patcham. Only part of the memorial still exists and features pilasters on each side, the Shelley coat of arms and naked gravediggers.   We're not sure when the churchyard was established, but it is very organized. One side was left to the criminals and those who committed suicide. There are seven chest-tombs from centuries ago for the Scrase family. There are sixteen Commonwealth war graves memorializing two British Army soldiers from World War I, eight Royal Air Force personnel and five soldiers and a WREN of World War II. 

There are some strange things that happen here and most of them are connected to the churchyard connected to the church. Two of the spirits belong to Sir Charles Thomas Stanford and Lady Ellen Stanford. Lady Ellen appears as a tall, thin lady dressed in grey. She enters the church and sits in a pew on occasion, especially when it is cold outside. Apparently this spirit gets chilly. She showed up one particular Christmas Eve night for midnight mass in the 1970s and was described as looking pale and sickly and when a couple of people approached her to ask if she was okay, she disappeared into thin air. One of the earliest recorded experiences happened in 1956. Two boys were hanging out in the churchyard specifically looking for ghosts and they got their wish when they saw a dark hooded figure. Other reports claim to see an apparition emerging from the south side of the building that disappears into the churchyard. A person walking by the churchyard once saw two women in medieval clothing pass through the tombs on the west side of the churchyard.

Liberty Baptist Church and Cemetery

The city of Batesville in Arkansas is the county seat of Independence County and is the oldest city in the state. It's named for the first territorial delegate from Arkansas to the Congress of the United States, James Woodson Bates, who had settled here. The White River was right there and so Batesville became an important port after it was settled in 1810. There were few homes at first, but those early pioneers built a ferry. The town took more shape in 1821 and a post office was established in 1822. A circuit court followed. We're not sure when the Liberty Baptist Church was founded, but the cemetery connected to it has burials that date back to 1855 and continued through the 1990s. This is fairly large for a churchyard. That land was donated by Jordan Haddock.

It's not surprising that the church and cemetery are said to be haunted because the area in and around the city had extensive quarries of limestone and marble. The most reported spirit is the ghost of an old woman that can be seen sitting in a rocking chair, upstairs, through the window of the church. This usually happens in the summer. The lights in the church turn themselves on and off. There is a gravel road that leads up to the church and the town folk claim a young woman was killed and dumped on this road in the early 1900s. The cemetery features strange lights and visitors have seen the spirit of a little boy wandering around the cemetery. He has been captured in several photos.

These are experiences that people have shared after visiting the cemetery: "My brother and I went to this location, with an EVP reader. We talked to the spirits there for over an hour. when we arrived, my stomach dropped. I felt extremely uneasy the whole time. We asked if we should leave and the EVP reader said immediately after, 'dash' so we closed out the session and said goodbye and finally left."

"On the way up to the church me and my friends had a bad feeling and as I was investigating solo my spirit box began screaming at me and it was deep as if something from hell had manifested before along with a figure out in the cemetery."

"I have pictures that I have taken of this place. There is a woman in the window upstairs in several pictures. I have pictures of the window the the shades completely closed and pictures from the same night where it looks like someone has pulled the shade partially open and you can see the image of a transparent woman looking out. The lights on the front of the church went out and came back on when we asked if they wanted us to leave. This happened 2 times when we asked again just to make sure it want a coincidence. Really nothing going on with the cemetery. We have gone 3 times and got pictures from the church." 

Lakeview Cemetery

Lakeview Cemetery is located in Buhl, Minnesota and was established in 1913. Burials continue there today. Right next to the official cemetery is a potter's field where patients from the Shaw Hospital were buried. The Shaw Hospital housed people sick with tuberculosis and the mentally ill. The hospital was open until at least 1936 and then became a nursing home and by 2003, it was vacant. The city of Buhl bought the property in 2012. The people buried at the cemetery from the hospital and nursing home were buried under cast iron crosses with just a number on them. The strangest place in the cemetery has been dubbed the "Sanctuary." This is the Veteran's Memorial within a white picket fence. It consists of a large crucifixion statue with 50 white wooden crosses and a concrete box with a veteran’s medallion on it. What makes it weird is not the activity that takes place within it, but rather the lack of paranormal activity. Feelings of dread evaporate and it is very peaceful, which is in stark contrast to all the activity going on in the rest of the cemetery. The cemetery is said to be a paranormal hotspot. People claim to see apparitions that range from a white misty figure that runs near the cemetery road to a man dressed in 1920s era clothing walking among the gravestones. It is thought that he was a cemetery gatekeeper. Disembodied footsteps are heard as are disembodied voices. Flashes of light and gray mists appear and there are strange smells. This place hits all the senses.

Brian Leffler of Northern Minnesota Paranormal Investigators wrote on Occult World in 2017, "An investigation in June of 2003 resulted in a very strange video. I was filming in infrared and asking questions. I said, 'If there are any spirits here, show me a sign.' I started filming, and a single flag began to wave, though there was no wind. I panned the camera around and found many other flags sitting perfectly still, including the large flags on their poles sitting 25 feet in the air. This anomaly was confirmed when I listened to the audio from my micro cassette tape and found I had captured some EVP. I discovered that immediately after I had asked for a sign, two different ghosts had a conversation. The first ghost said, 'There’s no harm in that,' followed by the second ghost replying, 'Yeah, show ‘em the flags, Roy.' Another trip to Lakeview in June of 2003 handed me my first full-bodied apparition experience. I was sitting in my vehicle loading my camera when a man walked out of the main gate. I was mildly upset, thinking that someone had come to lock up the cemetery. He walked right across the small dirt road that my car was sitting on and vanished. He was a younger man wearing a touring cap, a light-colored shirt, and dark pants—he looked to be from about the 1920s." 

Green Mountain Cemetery

Green Mountain Cemetery is located on 35 acres in Montpelier, Vermont that was initially bought by the town and lawyer Calvin Keith. They split the cost. The cemetery was established in 1854 and features terraced lots, sculptures, 2.5 miles of curved roads and lots of vegetation. The Chapel-Vault Building was constructed in 1905 from a generous bequest of John E. Hubbard and can hold up to 60 entombments. The chapel is fairly small and can accommodate 60 people for funeral services. Montpelier's citizens donated a plot called the Soldier's Lot during the American Civil War for the burial of veterans and it is maintained by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. There are six Union veterans buried there. Many Medal of Honor recipients are here, as are Vermont politicians. But probably the most famous grave here is the one that provides our paranormal element.  

John E. Hubbard has a creepy statue sitting atop his plot. His aunt, Fanny Hubbard Kellogg, had died in 1890 childless and a widow. Her estate was worth $300,000 and she planned to leave it to the city of Montpelier. She specifically was going to leave $55,000 for the erection of a chapel and gates at green Mountain and the rest would go to building a library for the town. John had assumed that since he was the only living relative that he would receive the estate. When he heard the will read, he decided to challenge it and this would leave many townspeople thinking very poorly of him. A judge ruled the will invalid because the two witnesses to it said they didn't realize what they were signing. The city took it to the Supreme Court of Vermont, but Hubbard made a deal before the court ruled and he gave Montpelier $30,000 for a new library. He eventually spent another $30,000 on the library to ease the town's distrust of him. Hubbard died in 1899. Professor John W. Burgess wrote of the death, "At midnight the hurricane burst upon us; great trees swayed and houses trembled; torrential rain fell; the lightning was so incessant that it seemed no longer night but brilliant day; and the incessant roar of thunder was like the discharge of a thousand cannon. At daybreak it ceased. . . . Word ran through the town that, in the midst of the tornado, the spirit of Hubbard had departed. Two days later a little funeral cortege, a hearse and two or three carriages, passed down the main avenue of the town to the beautiful Green Mount Cemetery, and the tragedy of that life was ended."

Atop Hubbard's grave is the Greek personification of death, Thanatos. This is a bronze sculpture of a man with his head thrown back and his body wrapped in a billowing shroud. The sculpture was designed by Karl Bitter. There is an inscription on the wall that frames the figure featuring lines from William Cullen Bryan’s poem “Thanatopsis” (“Thoughts on Death”):

Thou go not like the
Quarry slave at night
Scourged to his dungeon
But sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust.

Approach thy grave
Like one who wraps
The Drapery of his couch
About him and lies down
To pleasant dream.

Nobody calls the figure on the grave Thanatos. This is Black Agnes to everybody and there is a legend connected that mirrors the legend about Black Aggie that we shared way back on Ep. 24. It is said that if you sit in its lap during a full moon, you will die within seven days and take seven friends with you! The original legend about Black Agnes goes back to English folklore about a bogeyman called Black Annis. The name comes from an 18th century title deed for a parcel of land named "Black Anny's Bower Close." Black Annis was said to be a blue-faced hag with iron claws and a taste for human flesh. She would venture out at night specifically looking for children. She would eat them and then tan their skins by hanging them on a tree and then eventually wear the skins around her waist. The tale was used to get kids to behave.

The thing not behaving here though is apparently Black Agnes. The statues eyes are said to glow red and it makes creepy noises and sometimes let's out with a blood curdling scream. There’s a decades-old story of three teenagers who sat on Black Agnes during a full moon, trying to show one another how brave they were. When nothing happened, they laughed about it on the way home, sure that they’d put one over on old Black Agnes. One week later, one boy fell and shattered his leg. Another died in a tragic car crash. The third drowned. Pretty crazy story, but the ones connected to Black Aggie are the same. The legend of Black Aggie has reached the ranks of Bloody Mary.  It is claimed that saying Black Aggie three times before a mirror in the bathroom at midnight brings the same results as those brought about by saying Bloody Mary three times. Black Aggie will appear behind you in the mirror and then stab you or take you for a ride to Hell. There have been no reports of Black Aggie being a part of supernatural activity since being removed from the cemetery. This may only be because many people are unaware of her new home or no one who sees the statue realizes that she is part of an ongoing urban legend.

Key West Cemetery

The Key West Cemetery is located at the foot of Solares Hill  and covers nineteen acres. This unique cemetery is similar to the cemeteries of New Orleans. The water table makes it nearly impossible to bury people in the ground here, so most plots are above ground in chests, tombs and mausoleums. There are around 100,000 people buried here, but no one is sure on the exact number because many in the old section are unmarked. This cemetery was established in 1847 after the first cemetery on the island located in coastal sand dunes on Whitehead Point near the West Martello was destroyed by a hurricane in 1846. Bodies kept washing out of it before that, so it was for the better anyway. The land for the new cemetery was bought from L. Windsor Smith. There is a Catholic section in the Northeast corner of the cemetery that was founded in 1861. There is also a section set aside for Cuban independence fighters from the Ten Years' War called "A los martires de cuba." The largest memorial in the cemetery is dedicated to the men who died aboard the U.S.S. Maine when it was blown up in 1898 in Havana Harbor. Two hundred and sixty sailors were killed and two dozen of them are buried in the Key West Cemetery. They are joined by a few other veterans from the Spanish-American War.

Some of the interesting graves here include B.P. “Pearl” Roberts final resting spot. She passed in 1979 and her tombstone reads, "I Told you I was Sick." Gloria M. Russell must have been a fun gal because her headstone reads, "I’m just resting my eyes." The man who owned Sloppy Joe's, Joe Russell, was buried here when he passed in 1941. A man named Manuel Cabeza is buried here and despite the fact that most people probably wouldn't think an island like Key West could have a racist lynching, it did. Cabeza was a World War I vet who had fallen in love with a woman that was of mixed-race. When the Ku Klux Klan heard about this, they decided to teach him a lesson and they tarred and feathered him. Cabeza wanted revenge and so he shot and killed one of the men who had done this to him and he was arrested. This took place on Christmas Eve of 1921 on Duval Street. A posse decided to take justice into their own hands and they broke Cabeza out of jail and lynched him.

There are many, many roosters who run around the cemetery at all hours and they are joined by a couple of spirits. The most prominent ghost is said to belong to a woman who traveled to the island from the Bahamas. Staff members and guests have all claimed to see this Bahamian woman. She doesn't seem to be a nice ghost. Being seen seems to really piss her off and she has become a protector of the cemetery. We know you guys don't sit on tombstones and are careful about walking on graves and such, but some people are not and she gets very angry if she sees this going on. People who experience her rage claim they can feel this very threatening air about them. If they actually see her, she makes threatening gestures. The spirit disappears when approached. Some psychics claim that she is angry because she is looking for someone that she can't find. The other ghost here belongs to a young girl. People claim to hear her calling out and when they follow the voice, they don't find anyone. Many times, they end up at the grave of a young girl. 

Mount Carmel Cemetery

Mount Carmel Cemetery is a large cemetery in the Chicago suburb of Hillside. Mount Carmel covers 214 acres with many notable burials, particularly victims and perpetrators of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Diane has visited this Roman Catholic Cemetery just outside of Chicago and was quite surprised to stumble upon Al Capone's grave. She had no idea he was buried there. Another great plus is that there are over 400 mausoleums! The cemetery was founded in 1901 and holds the burials of over 226,000 people, many of them Italians and this is revealed in much of the Italian customs and imagery.

Being that this is a Roman Catholic cemetery, many clergy are buried here. A large mausoleum houses the remains of bishops and archbishops of Chicago. The structure was designed by architect William J. Brinkmann in the Romanesque style. And you can't miss it because it dominates the cemetery on a hill. The interior is beautiful, resembling a classical chapel with altar, murals and clerestory windows, which let in lots of light to the central part of the mausoleum.

The cemetery had funeral train service for many years that started in 1926 and ended in 1934. The number of notable burials here is outnumbered by gangsters. For every baseball player and actor like Dennis Farina and Cardinal or Bishop, there is a Sam Giancana, Antonio Lombardo, Sam Genna, Mike "he Devil" Genna, Machine Gun Jack McGurn, Frank Capone and Al Capone. Capone was born in Brooklyn in 1899.  Both of his parents had immigrated from Italy.  Capone did well academically in school, but he hated the rules at his Catholic school.  He dropped out when he was fourteen years old because he was facing expulsion for hitting a female teacher in the face.  Like Bugs, Capone found trouble early.  He joined several gangs in New York, finally working his way into the powerful Five Points Gang in Lower Manhattan.  Capone's trouble with women would continue and while he was with this gang, he worked as a bouncer at a nightclub and insulted a woman there.  Her brother took a knife to Capone's face, leaving him with the lifelong scar that lead to his nickname "Scarface."  Capone got married when he was nineteen and moved to Chicago at the age of twenty on Johnny Torrio's invite.  There he would work as a bouncer at a brothel where he would contract the Syphilis that would eventually kill him. His grave simply says "Capone - My Jesus Mercy."

Machine Gun McGurn and Capone both plotted the St. Valentine's Day Massacre that HGB covered way back in Ep. 28. On St. Valentine's Day in 1929, McGurn's crew that he had put together, staged a police raid on Bugs Moran's North Side Gang. The gang thought it was the real deal and they complied, giving up their guns. There were seven of them and they were lined up against a wall and assassinated with seventy rounds of ammunition. It was the most horrific gang slaying in mob history. The victims were John May, Adam Heyer, Peter Gusenberg and his brother Frank, Albert Weinshank, Reinhardt Schwimmer and Albert Kachellek. Both perpetrators of the massacre and victims are buried at Mount Carmel. The most famous burial in the cemetery though isn't a gangster or a mobster. It's the Italian Bride.

The grave of Julia Buccola Petta is known as the Italian Bride and her burial is quite odd. It's not because of the grandiose statue erected over her grave that is a duplicate of her wedding photo, or that she was buried in her wedding dress because she was considered a martyr for having died during childbirth. And it isn't because her child who also died in childbirth is buried with her. The odd thing here is that Julia's mother had her exhumed in 1927 after being buried for six years and Julia's body was found in a state of non-decay. She looked life-like, as though only sleeping. Her skin was still soft and supple. A picture was taken and we agree that Julia looks like she was just buried. However, the baby is in a state of decay as is the coffin. This indicates that this wasn't some kind of trick played by Julia's mother. The mother had claimed to have dreams of her daughter for those six years with Julia saying in those dreams that she was still alive and needed her mother's help. No one could explain what had happened here other than a really great embalming job and/or corpse wax, which is formed during decomposition. Julia's mother not only raised money after the exhumation to build the memorial, but she also attached two pictures to the grave. One was the wedding photo and the other was the postmortem picture after exhumation. And perhaps that is why Julia is at unrest. People report seeing the apparition of a young woman in a white wedding dress walking through the tombstones. The dress is usually glowing. The figure disappears. One little boy had an interaction with Julia's spirit. He got separated from his parents in the cemetery and when they finally found him, he was holding the hand of a woman in white. She disappeared as the parents approached.

We'll never know why some spirits decide to creep among the final resting places of people. Maybe they like the peace and quiet as much as many of us. Maybe the graveyard scene from Disney's Haunted Mansion is really playing out in these cemeteries and we just can't see all the cavorting. Whatever the reason, it does seem that some cemeteries are haunted. Are these cemeteries haunted? That is for you to decide!

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