Thursday, June 29, 2023

HGB Ep. 493 - St. Augustine Haunted House Investigation

Moment in Oddity - Penny Treasure

Economic times have been tough for many of us these days, but what if you came upon an unexpected stash of coins? Copper to be precise, as in a collection of 1 million pennies! Recently a family in California discovered a collection of coins while cleaning out the basement of a deceased relatives home. Some of the coins were still encased in bank sealed bags and boxes. Reports in the New York times estimated the value of the pennies at around $10,000. Removing the coins from the crawl space they were found in was tedious. The process even left imprints on the fingers of the family members who removed them, due to the weight of the coins. One helpful detail in the discovery was that each parcel removed had the number of coins written on the outside of the package, somewhat simplifying the task at hand. However, the family has been faced with difficulties in finding a bank that actually wants all the copper coins in exchange for the appropriate pay out. A Wells Fargo manager said that the family may possibly find a few high value pennies that could be pre-WWII in the midst of the collection. The relatives have no desire to sort through the 1 million coins for the possibility of happening upon a few of the rare pennies. So they have decided to list the coins for sale on OfferUp, asking $25,000. Most people would concur that coming across an unexpected creatively concealed cache of coins is exciting. However one thing is for certain, finding 1 million pennies in a deceased relatives crawl space, certainly is odd. 

This Month in History - Death Sentences Halted

In the month of June, on the 29th, in 1972 the US Supreme Court halted all death row executions. In Furman v. Georgia, the court ruled 5 to 4 that capital punishment violated the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The case centered on Furman who was burglarizing a home when he was discovered. During his attempt to flee Furman tripped and fell, causing his gun to fire which killed a family member in the home. By a narrow majority the court decided that the death penalty constituted 'cruel and unusual punishment'. This was the first time that the US Supreme Court had ruled against capitol punishment. However, the Court ruling also suggested that new legislation could make death sentences constitutional again in the future. The Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976 in part because polls showed two-thirds of Americans supported capital punishment and progress had been made in jury guidelines. Today, the Court often faces questions on the constitutionality of particular aspects of the death-penalty system but cases continue forward following the revised laws of 1976.

St. Augustine Investigation

A haunted house in the city of St. Augustine is not unique. It seems every location near the historic downtown is haunted. But this house was fairly new, being built in the 1980s. We conducted an investigation here that lends credence to the theory that any place can have unexplained activity, regardless of age. Perhaps it is because of the land. Maybe things that happened in the house left spiritual residue. Or its also possible that spirits gather somewhere because of people seeking to communicate with them. Join us as we investigate a small house just outside of the historic downtown of St. Augustine!

So we arrived at the house at midnight and were greeted by our host John. we had booked a private investigation for just our family for two hours with Ghost Augustine and Para4rce Investigations. Ghost Augustine hosts ghost tours and pub crawls and they also make investigation equipment. One of our first pieces, an EMF detector, we bought from them and Diane has done a tour with them. John gave us a quick history of the spot before we went inside. (St. Augustine Intro) We also found that this was a commercial property for many years. One of them being Jim's Dry Wall.

The Seminole Indians were involved in three separate Seminole Wars. They are a tribe of Creek origin. The name Seminole is thought to derive from the Creek word simanĂ³-li, meaning “separatist,” or “runaway.” The name may also have derived from the Spanish cimarrĂ³n, “wild.” They settled mostly in the Everglades and were joined by other tribes and runaway slaves. Eventually, the Indian Removal Act came calling and that is what started the wars as the Seminoles fought removal. The Second Seminole War was one of the deadliest and costliest American Indian Wars ever fought on US soil and a group of Seminoles was captured and brought to St. Augustine as prisoners. They were kept at the Castillo de San Marcos, which at the time was known as Fort Marion. They were held for two months between November and December of 1837. Osceola, a famous Seminole war leader, was one of those prisoners. After the wars, many Seminoles fled south again and to this day they claim to be the unconquered tribe.

Plantations were spread across parts of St. Augustine. They grew sugar cane and indigo. Indigo in St. Augustine was called blue gold. It was the major export crop from St. Augustine in the 1760s and 1770s. Florida had a perfect environment for growing indigo and plantations could produce three crops a year.  It took about 100 pounds of indigo plant to produce four ounces of processed indigo. Indigo was processed in three vats that were made from coquina, tabby or wood. The plants were cut up and placed in the vats that were filled with water and urine to help the fermentation process. The urine usually came from slaves. In the second vat it was beaten with sticks as the water drained off and in the third vat it was pressed and then dried into blocks. The finished product would be shipped to England. The indigo was grown by and processed by slaves. The chance of there being slave graves in the area where the house stands is possible. The plantation closed down in 1866 and the land was sold.

The house is fairly small. We entered into the kitchen at one time with a restroom to the right. This is a modern restroom, but that doesn't stop it from being haunted and we will get some evidence in there a little later. The kitchen area is the central hub with a TV featuring the transmission from four cameras throughout the house. There are two small bedrooms coming off a central hall that empties into a medium size room that was probably the family room. It holds a dining table now. The original house was built in 1931 and there was another house right next to it where there is a garage today. That second house burned down in the 1940s. The 1931 house stood until 1981 when it was demolished because of foundation issues and then rebuilt. The kitchen and bathroom were part of an extension built in 1985. The house is fairly new considering that it was built in the 1980s, but that doesn't stop it from being incredibly active. This house is proof that it is important to know about the land and everything that has stood on the property through the years.

John told us about the various spirits they believe are in the house. The first room we went into was Jack's Room. The story behind Jack is that he lived in the original house during the 1940s and he became depressed and hanged himself in the house. John is going to tell us about the spirit and right at the beginning you will hear us react to a piece of equipment that picks up static electricity because it blipped. It is similar to a REM Pod. (Jack) 

The main room with the dining table is home to the spirit of a little boy named Tommy and just as always seems to happen with us, we got the most interaction from him. He was a ton of fun! There is also a ghost cat that hangs out as well as another entity. Here's John telling us about these spirits.(Tommy) That thing called the Spider will seem to show up later in the way John said it would, on the SLS Camera. There are some people who think that the Spider was brought in via a Ouija board at some point. John also told us later that Tommy occasionally swears because he has picked up a few of those bad words through the years.

The other small bedroom is home to a spirit named James. John told us that it feels oppressive to people who are sensitive and Kelly definitely felt weird in there. Here's John sharing about the ghost. (James) It is a small room that could make people feel claustrophobic, but Kelly felt something else. So perhaps this is some kind of portal. Then John cut us loose to start investigating. We started in the main room. Diane set up the flashlight experiment, but the light never turned on. John had a maglite he set up on the table and it was really active, but even after we set our flashlight next to his, we got nothing. That makes us think that maybe there was a battery issue. Although it did turn on once when Kelly asked it to and then turned off right after that when John asked for James to turn it off and then it turned on again when Kelly asked it do it again. 

Ghost Augustine makes equipment and they have an Ovilus like device they developed because Ovilus went out of business. It was spitting out a lot of words, which again made us wonder if it was an equipment issue. It did say "34 years" when first turned on and it is believed that Jack was in his 30s when he committed suicide. Diane asked about the spider entity - you will hear the Ovilus in the background and John does decide to turn down the sensitivity. (Spider) There are many spirits in the house, so that also may be why there were so many words coming out of it. We also had a music box set up in the front room and it is going to be very active. It went off for the first time about 10 minutes into the investigation. The creepy word at the beginning of this clip is the Portal Box in Jack's Room. (Music Box 1)

While Jake and Diane stayed in the main room, Kelly, Christy and Jordan went into Jack's Room and did a dowsing session. Diane heard Kelly ask if something was pushing on her legs. It seems that Kelly and Jordan were getting touched quite a bit. Jake and Diane picked up an orb that moved from the floor to the chair and back down again so we thought maybe this might be the cat. Then the music box went off again and it seems that Tommy was here, so perhaps he was the orb because the chair the orb went up on had Tommy's bear sitting in it. In this clip you also will hear the Spirit Box starting because Diane was setting that up when the music box went off. (Music Box 2)  Sounded kinda like a kid saying "yes" when we asked if he liked the bear. 

Diane got the idea that we should sing nursery rhymes and this is going to be a big hit with Tommy. In this clip you'll hear us singing and then we ask Tommy if he'd like us to sing again and we think we got a pretty clear answer on the Spirit Box. (Spirit Box Yes Sing) We continue with the song fest! (London Bridge) As you heard, the REM Pod also went off, along with the music box and the cat ball went as well. We finished off with Itsy Bitsy Spider in the room that has the spider. LOL! Then we decided to Ring Around the Rosie and go around the actual table and the REM Pod went crazy. (REM Pod 1)

John pulled out the SLS Camera at this time. We first aimed it at the bathroom and there was definitely something sitting in there on the toilet. We recorded a video of that. Then we took it to the main room and Jordan gets touched as does Jacob. (Touched) So Jordan's butt got touched and Jacob's hand got tingly. Tommy showed up on the SLS Camera and waved and we did "Ring Around the Rosie" again and Diane made a video of the SLS Camera and a bunch of stuff going off on the table. (Rosie)

Jake then gives the ESTES Method a try. Unfortunately, we don't have the internal Spirit Box recording for this (Jake Estes Final) We wonder if the numbers he said like 7 and 8 were referring to spirits in the location because he said "here" a bit after that. John mentions the Spider being on the table numerous times. There was a vase with dried roses in it on the table, so it was interesting to hear Jacob say rose when we asked where the spider was. Then we were told to leave, but we didn't agree to that. 

Jordan tried the Estes Method next. You'll hear at the beginning that John gets his ear tugged and then he mentioned someone else who died in the house named Colleen. Apparently she died in a fire. John also mentions hearing something like nails on a door. (Jordan Estes) We asked for a name through Jordan, but Jack apparently preferred the Portal Box and said his name through that. A word that Jordan didn't catch may have been (Sweetums)? There was also safe a couple of times, sense, 40th and fight or sight. Lots of alliteration, Kelly.

Christy tried the Estes Method next. (Christy Estes) Something got screwed up with her Spirit Box internal recording because I think it actually somehow merged something from our Lilian Place investigation because we got words that we remembered from that. And unfortunately it happened with all the rest of the sessions. Here is John giving the Estes Method a try. (John Estes) He got six several times too. Maybe in reference to our family group of 6? And then Diane did an Estes session. (Diane Estes) Diane thought it was cute that Jack was behind her and Jordan said "Jack and Diane." The Portal Box said "Yep" after Christy asked if Jack was behind Diane. And then that was hilarious after Kelly said Christy hadn't been touched before and Diane blurts out "Horny." Then at the end of Diane's session the SBox just switched what it was doing all on its own. 

This investigation was a ton of fun and even better, we got the opportunity to introduce our niece and nephew to ghost hunting. Our brother-in-law Rich still left as a skeptic, but there was no doubt that some things happened on this evening that we couldn't explain. Is this house in St. Augustine haunted? That is for you to decide!

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