Thursday, July 27, 2023

HGB Ep. 497 - New Zealand's Vulcan Hotel

Moment in Oddity -  Le Passage du Gois (Suggested by: Karen Miller)

In France, there is a unique bridge called Le Passage du Gois that connects the French mainland to an island called Noirmoutier. This bridge floods on a daily basis, making it impassable. The length of the bridge is an impressive 4.5 km. This is a world famous natural wonder that floods twice in every 24 hour period. The average depth of the water that covers the bridge varies between 4 to 13 feet and the rising sea levels occur quickly. There have been digital signs that let drivers know if the road is currently safe to pass but there are some that tempt fate and every year there are reports of people becoming stranded or even dying. Rescue towers have been erected to give a safe haven for stranded motorists to climb up and wait for the sea levels to recede. This is not a recommended stretch of road for the common tourist due to its hazardous nature however that doesn't keep them away. One thing is for sure, a nearly 3 mile long bridge that becomes impassable twice a day due flooding, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - The Sinking of SS Andrea Doria

In the month of July, on the 26th, in 1956, Italian luxury liner Andrea Doria sank. The SS Andrea Doria was a flagship of the Italian Line and had the capacity for about 1,240 passengers and 560 crew. Amongst its luxuries were 3 swimming pools and many works of art. Its maiden voyage sailed from Genoa, Italy, to New York City. This proved quite popular so the Andrea Doria crossed the Atlantic several times before that fateful day. The ship departed Genoa on the 17th. As the Andrea was sailing south of Nantucket, her radar picked up an approaching vessel, the MS Stockholm some 17 nautical miles away. The Swedish passenger liner also detected the Andrea Doria. Both ships made adjustments to their course to widen the passing distance between them. Unfortunately, mistakes were made reading the radar and while the Stockholm chose the standard pass protocol of port to port, or left side to left side, the Andrea Doria decided to pass on the starboard side. There was heavy fog in the area of the Italian liner and once the ships had visual contact they were only 2 miles apart. With the speed at which each liner was sailing, the collision was unavoidable. At approximately 11:10pm the Stockholm struck the starboard side of the Andrea, perforating 7 of her 11 decks. Even though the Swedish liner's bow was crushed, it remained seaworthy. The Andrea Doria however, was not so fortunate. Within minutes of the collision, the Doria began listing hard to its starboard side thus prohibiting access to the ships port side lifeboats. Although 51 people were ultimately killed, this number was relatively low due to other ships rushing to the SOS call transmitted by the SS Andrea Doria. The collision causes cited were heavy fog, high speeds in poor visibility and incorrect use of radar. 

New Zealand's Vulcan Hotel

There are two things that bring people to St Bathans in New Zealand: gold and fossils. The St Bathans fauna bears dozens of different kinds of fossils. The small town itself was once a center of the Otago Gold Rush and one of the leftover locations from that time is the Vulcan Hotel. A painted lady might have lost her life at the hotel and today, people claim her spirit haunts one of the rooms there. Join us for the history and hauntings of the Vulcan Hotel. 

The Central Otago area of New Zealand is rich in sedimentary formations and fossils. In the lower Bannockburn Formation is something called the St Bathans fauna, which is a cache of fossilised prehistoric animals formed by deposits in a shallow, freshwater lake. Many tourists and scientists flock to St Bathans to see and study the fauna. One of these has been called the Saint Bathans Mammal because no one is sure what exactly this mammal once was, but it is extinct now. This is a curious species as bats, cetaceans and seals seem to be the only flightless creatures to exist in New Zealand because other mammals had to be introduced by humans. So how this thing got here is a mystery. 

Close to the town of St Bathans a fossil layer has been exposed along the Manuherikia River. This is the remnant of the prehistoric Lake Manuherikia. There is a lake near town that was man-made during the Otago Gold Rush named Blue Lake. This is a well known lake that formed when gold miners turned the 394-foot Kildare Hill into a 551-foot deep pit. After mining operations halted, the hole filled with water and it gets its name from the distinctive blue color of that water that is created by minerals from the surrounding rocks. Tourists love to camp near it and swim.

Gold was first found in New Zealand starting in 1842. This was just a small quantity, so when the gold rushes started in Australia and California, many settlers left the island. Commercial interests in New Zealand needed to keep people there, so they offered a prze of 500 pounds to anyone who could find payable quantites of gold. A timber merchant did just that in 1852 and a brief gold rush was launched. The Maori of New Zealand must have chuckled to themselves as they watched these fair-skinned men running around looking for gold that they already knew about and since they had no use for the ore, they probably wondered what all the excitement was about. The Maori preferred bone, obsidian and greenstone because they could fashion weapons from those materials. One area that they knew was flush with gold ore was Central Otago. One European did manage to stumble upon a small find in 1851, but it wouldn't be until 1861 that a rush would ensue.

Gold was discovered at Welshmans Gully in 1863. This is today the town of Cambrians and sits about four miles from St Bathans. The name was inspired by the Welsh coal miners that worked both the gold and coal pits here. Australian prospectors led by Irishman A.G. Peyman found more gold a few miles north-east of Welshmans Gully and within four months, there were two hundred miners at the site. They built a town and called it Dunstan Creek, which would later be changed to St Bathans. Those early beginnings were rough as one visitor described this as being "a pigsty on the edge of town, with an eye-watering smell, and piles of rubbish surrounding the town." The description isn't surprising considering that many of these mining towns were full of temporary structures made from canvas or calico fabric that covered timber frames. If a town proved viable, more permanent buildings were built from timber and concrete. And while many miners flocked to these towns, entrepreneurs came as well to establish shops, banks and hotels and most of them made more than the miners. Women who came and worked alongside their husbands were referred to as "Colonial Helpmeets." If a woman became widowed, she received ownership rights.

The Otago Gold Rush lasted until 1864, but this didn't end prospecting. Gold extraction became a more industrialised-mechanical process and gold fields were reworked. Chinese laborers were invited to come help with this reworking. The first commercially successful gold dredge in the world was developed in New Zealand and named the Dunedin for the New Zealand town. Throughout this time, St Bathans, which had been named for the Scottish Borders village of Abbey St Bathans, grew and by 1887, there were 2,000 miners in the area. Many buildings from the start of St. Bathans still stand today. There are many cottages that had served as homes for the various merchants in town. The timbered kauri post office opened in 1909 and is still in operation today. There are a couple of churchs, St. Patricks Catholic Church and St. Alban the Martyr, which was one of the first prefabricated buildings in New Zealand and was made from corrugated iron.

The most famous leftover building from the gold rush days is the Vulcan Hotel. The man who built the hotel was Samuel Hanger. Hanger had been born in 1830 in Hobart Town, Tasmania, Australia. Hanger married Mary Pattison in 1852 and they had eleven children. When Hanger heard about the gold in Otago, he decided to go, leaving behind a pregnant Mary and the two children they had at the time. He traveled via the ship Aldinga in November of 1862. In 1864, he sent for his family to join him. Samuel didn't work in St Bathans as a miner. His skill was blacksmithing and he set up a calico tent from which he supplied the miners with sluice pipes and drink. Hanger built his family a stone cottage that still stands in the town today. Even though the main part of the gold rush ended in 1864, there were still many people living in and traveling to St Bathans. Hanger decided to open a hotel.

For many of us, when we hear the name Vulcan, we immediately think of Star trek and the character Spock. Vulcans were logical beings who didn't experience emotions and Spock was half Vulcan. But the name of the Vulcan Hotel clearly wasn't inspired by this because it dates back to the 1800s. The Vulcan the hotel is named for was the Roman god of fire, Vulcan. Metalworking was one of his areas of expertise and since Hanger had been a blacksmith, he was inspired to use the god's name for the hotel he decided to open. Hanger opened the Vulcan Hotel in 1869 despite the fact that there were already thirteen hotels in St. Bathans. The original Vulcan Hotel was a corrugated iron building with two doors and and two windows. Five years later, he expanded and built an annex across the street that featured a billiards room and more rooms. Samuel died in 1879 and left Mary to run the hotel and she did that for several years. In 1888, she decided it was too much for her and none of the Hanger children were interested in the hotel business. But her son David's father-in-law John Thurlow was interested and he bought the Vulcan Hotel with his brother William.

The men had barely had the hotel for a year when it was damaged by a fire. They repaired the Vulcan and in 1899, they extended the billiard room annex by building on stables. William Thurlow died in 1902, so the license was transferred to a man named Patrick Sexton who held it for five years and then transferred it to Gilbert O’Hara in 1907. A couple by the name of McDevitts held the license for the Vulcan from 1912 to 1922. During their tenure, the Vulcan Hotel was destroyed by fire and it was decided to rebuild it with red brick. The Vulcan ironically had major issues with fire. In 1931, it would again be destroyed by fire. 

The Ballarat Hotel was built in 1882 from mud brick and stood just three sections to the south of the Vulcan Hotel. It had sat empty for a while, so when the Vulcan burned down in 1931, the license was transferred to the Ballarat Hotel building and renamed the Vulcan Hotel. The sign was repainted out front with a shamrock between Vulcan and Hotel. This shamrock is a throwback to the rivalry the Irish settlers from St.Bathans had with the Welsh settlers from Cambrian. The rivalry was dubbed the War Of The Roses locally and got very bitter. In 1934, it was decided that mining operations should stop because there was a real fear that the main street and buildings would fall into the hole that eventually became Blue Lake. In 1974, the billiards room and stables were sold for use as a holiday home. In 1987, a number of locals formed a company to buy the Vulcan to keep it in local hands, until the new owners Gerry and Denise Shaw purchased the Hotel in June 2021. Sue Ingram managers the Vulcan. The building is registered as a Category I historic place by Heritage New Zealand.

The Vulcan Hotel is thought to be one of the most haunted buildings in New Zealand. The most active room is Room 1 and that is because a legend claims that a lady of the evening that worked in St. Bathans, was killed in this room when this was the Ballarat Hotel, some time in the 1880s. Her name was Rose or Rosie or sometimes she is referred to as The Rose. To add insult to injury, the reason for the murder is thought to be that Rosie had a small quantity of gold that miners had given her and the murderer took that and left town. From that time, there have been many reports of lights going on and off by themselves, disembodied footsteps, doors creaking and locking themselves, cold spots, sightings of full-bodied apparitions, groaning in the hallways, kettles boiling without being turned on and a mysterious shadow figure seen at the foot of the bed in Room 1. Rosie's apparition has been seen several times reclining on a chaise lounge in the dining room. Women usually don't have any issues staying in Room 1, but men reportedly get held down and sometimes throttled.

The manager of the hotel, Sue Ingram, said of the spirit Rosie, "She locks and unlocks door, moves things about and behaves like a general toe rag. Right now, she is generally well-behaved, but she has her moments. We had a new carpet installed in November, and she didn’t seem to like that at all. Maybe it was the color, maybe it was the disruption, but she was very active and a real nuisance. People sleeping in the room have felt her sitting on the bed, there’s been an extra weight. Others have felt her on their feet. When she’s about, the room gets cold. One of the guests was unphased by Rosie’s presence and waking up said ‘I know it’s you Rosie’. At which point she left the room." 

Royce Clarke, a co-partner of the hotel in 2020, told Debbie Jamison from the website Stuff, "On a previous occasion when he stayed there he was awoken by the electric jug turning on and off by itself during the night. Convinced it was a friend playing a prank, Clark sat with the door ajar and a mirror, but saw no-one moving before the jug started again. The next day he examined the jug and pulled it apart, but was unable to get it to operate independently. 'Then I knew for sure it was her,' he said."

Author of Haunted New Zealand Roadtrip, Mike Wallbank, wrote on Haunted Auckland in 2020 of his stay at the hotel, "There was another story of a female staff member working there one night, who screamed as she saw someone walking through the bar area. They say she was terrified. Royce was working that night and witnessed the look of sheer terror on her face at the time: an image that has remained with him since. More recently – that week in fact – Royce awoke at 2am to a loud clicking sound. It was the kettle jug in the corridor for patrons to make tea and coffee, switching on. Thinking it was a mate of his also staying there, he went back to sleep. The next morning, he questioned it. His mate hadn’t gotten up. Checking the jug, it was still warm. For some reason the jug had turned itself on and boiled. This happened numerous times soon after. The men could find no logical reason for this happening other than one playing a prank on the other and denying it (Royce’s initial assumption towards his mate), which they both swear wasn’t the case. I’m told of a few male patrons reportedly being woken, and held down with hands around their throats, and an overwhelming sense of fear. These are the more common reports. A theory being that The Rose might be getting back at men for causing her death.

The night before I arrived, Royce tells me he had gone around the bar, locking up after a long day – something he does every night. He locked the front door first, then went around shutting windows, drawing the curtains closed and turning off the lights. Before heading to bed he checked the front door one last time, as he always does. The next morning the bar door was found open. The door can only be unlocked and opened from the inside. The lock itself, being of the solid slide-bolt make with a second locking button, is firm and secure and only released from the inside. No one, including myself, could find any reason or answer to this mystery. So, what do we have? Many years of anecdotes from both patrons and staff. Many experiencing the exact same event. Many describing the same details. Could it be just the power of suggestion at play?"

Mike Pole visited the Vulcan Hotel and wrote of his experience there in 2022 on Medium, "It was summer and still perfectly light, and I pulled up beside a pretty laid-back scene. The publicans, husband and wife, were sitting on the chairs outside the pub along with two guests. I parked the car and joined them. They produced my meal and we all shot the breeze for a while, until eventually the guests headed to bed. The husband then went to bed and it was just me and his wife chatting. The next day I wanted to hunt for fossils, so arranged an early breakfast, at 07:00. Eventually she got up to go and told me to find myself a room when I was ready 'Any room except the Number One, or the Number Two — it’s got the guests.' My ears pricked up. 'The Number One?' I asked. 'Oh, I guess you may as well spread yourself out,' she said 'Take the Number one if you want.' The room had a small double-bed against the far wall, and a bed-side table with an alarm clock on the near side of it. There was a window out on to the deserted street. I went to bed, and (unusually for me) fell asleep quickly. In the dead of the night I was woken by being slammed twice into the mattress. There was no fear — just immediate exhilaration. All I could think was: 'Wow — that was the ghost!' I looked at the clock — it was 06: 20, and I could hear music coming down the corridor from the vicinity of the kitchen. Good, I thought, that’s the sound of my breakfast being made. I lay in bed going over and over the ‘experience’ and thinking 'Wow! Wow! Wow! That was the ghost! I’ve experienced the ghost!'

But then …. I realized — 'I’m lying on my left hand side. If I had just looked at the clock, I would have had to have been lying on my right hand side — and I know I haven’t moved at all. And then I opened my eyes. It was pitch black. It was so dark I couldn’t have seen the clock anyway. And there was no music. It was dead quiet. I got up, turned the light on, and checked the time. It was just after three. Confused, I turned the light back off and went back to bed. I didn’t sleep for ages, then did, then woke up about thirty minutes after I said I wanted breakfast. I rushed to the shower then into the dining room. The publican wasn’t too happy of course. As I tucked into breakfast, I tried to redeem myself: 'That ghost.' I said –'people feel someone sit on the bed beside them, don’t they?' 'Yes,' she said, 'but some people get slammed in the mattress. But just last week we had a woman who was woken up by someone playing with all of her toes.'

The best way I can try to describe what I felt was as if someone had lowered a huge electromagnet over the bed (yes, I’d have to have the opposite polarity, but work with me on this one) and then thrown the switch twice in quick succession. If there was a sound to it (and there wasn’t), it would have been a 'WAAARP… WAAARP.' To be absolutely clear — it had a sort of ‘electronic’ nature, but there was no ‘shock’. What I experienced deep in that night was far from my expectations. [Unfortunately] I wasn’t woken up by the spirit of some young woman, good-natured, despite being robbed of her life well over a century before. Rather, what it was, was entirely ‘inhuman’. Of course, it may be entirely unrelated to the ‘ghosts’ other people have experienced for decades, but this seems like too much of a coincidence. Whatever it was that I felt — I have never felt either before or since. Whatever it is giving that Number 1 bedroom a strange reputation, I’m sure I’ve experienced it."

There is another haunted place in St. Bathans. The post office that we mentioned earlier is said to be haunted by an elderly woman, possibly a grandmother, and she usually has two young children with her. It isn't surprising that a town like St. Bathans, which is nearly a ghost town now, would have spirits. There was so much life here with saloons and brothels and mining. Is it possible that some of that former life still continues on in the afterlife? Is the Vulcan Hotel haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, July 20, 2023

HGB Ep. 496 - Haunted Amish Country: Lancaster County

Moment in Oddity - Fat Albert the Blimp

Back in March of this year, Diane and I traveled down to the Florida Keys for our honeymoon. While cruising down the highway, what did we spy with our little eyes but a big stationary blimp that had the appearance of a white whale from a distance. Of course this was just after the Chinese spy balloon reports so I immediately began searching my phone for more information. Turns out this chonky balloon has a nickname by locals of Fat Albert. The blimp is one of eight Tethered Aerostat Radar Systems (or TARS for short), that hover along the U.S. southern border. This balloon is indeed a spy balloon of sorts, however the Customs and Border Patrol and the Department of Homeland Security prefers the term 'surveillance' balloon. They utilize Fat Albert to monitor boats and low-flying planes in the area. According to articles, the blimp was the first of its kind, going aloft in 1978. In 1981, Fat Albert decided to go on a pleasure cruise. The blimp broke free from its moorings and began a tour around the Gulf of Mexico. Some kindly fishermen who spied Fat Albert hooked the runaway blimp to their 23 foot fishing boat. They were thanked for their efforts by promptly being lifted, men, boat and all before dumping them into the water near the Mud Keys. That Fat Albert was finally shot out of the sky by a Air Force F-4 Phantom fighter jet using air-to-air missiles. Now, if you're ever driving down scenic U.S. Hwy 1, I don't recommend trying to get a closer look at Fat Albert due to the fact that he is tethered to a military base. The base is located in Cudjoe Key and although you won't encounter a giant killer canine there, you may be met with guns. Fat Albert was scheduled to end his 45 year flight on March 15, 2023, however when we drove by on the 16th he was still flying high and proud. So if any listeners live in the area and know of Fat Albert's current status, please let us know. A blimp named Fat Albert floating over the Florida Keys for decades as surveillance, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Stephen Foster Born

In the month of July, on the 4th, in 1826, American composer Stephen Foster was born in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania. He wrote over 200 songs, many of which we are familiar with such as "Oh! Susanna", "Camptown Races", "Swanee River", "Beautiful Dreamer" and so many more. There are many biographies covering Foster's life but the details vary greatly. Some historians believe that his brother destroyed any writings about the family that he thought were negative. Foster had three older sisters and six older brothers and while his initial education was academic in nature, Stephen taught himself to play the clarinet, guitar, flute and piano. When he was about eight years old, his brother William thought that Stephen would benefit from being under the guidance of Henry Kleber, a German-born music dealer in Pittsburgh. Foster learned music composition from him. Despite never living in the South and only visiting it once, most of his songs are set in the South. He became sick with a fever in 1864 that weakened him and this was what some think caused him to fall in a hotel room in the Bowery and cut his neck. But it also may have been a cut made at his own hand. Whatever the case, his writing partner found him still alive in a pool of blood and rushed him to the hospital where he died three days later. He was only 37 years old, but his music has lived on for over 150 years.

Haunted Amish Country: Lancaster County (Suggested by: Kay Eberhart)

The Amish are one of the oldest communities in America, predating the formation of the United States. Lancaster County in Pennsylvania is considered Amish Country as this is where they first settled and continue to live. The county seat of Lancaster is one of the oldest inland cities in the United States and it was the capital of the state for thirteen years. There are several locations here that are reputedly haunted. Join us as we share the history and hauntings of haunted Amish Country!

Lancaster County was established in 1729. They had no courthouse at the time, so court was held in a tavern. The jail was at the sheriff's house. The first courthouse was built in Penn Square. That one was destroyed by fire in 1784 and a new one was built in the footprint. That eventually would be known as the State House when the city of Lancaster served as the state capital. The county is 46 miles wide and 43 miles long with the Susquehanna River bordering it on the west and cities named New Holland, Mount Joy, Marietta, Bainbridge and, of course, Lancaster. Lancaster was originally called "Hickory Town" and was first settled by the Pennsylvania Dutch who actually came from Germany and took their name from "Deutsch" in German. An immigrant named James Hamilton platted out the land. Lancaster became a county seat in 1729 and remains that today. One of the citizen's championed the renaming of the city to Lancaster after the English city from where he came. For this reason, the city is also known as the “Red Rose City.” Lancaster reached borough status in 1742. As the Revolutionary War raged, Lancaster became a munitions center and was the National Capital of the American colonies for one day, September 27, 1777. The British had captured Philadelphia and the Continental Congress had to flee. Lancaster would become the capital of Pennsylvania from 1799 to 1812.

Lancaster County is known for being the oldest Amish settlement in America. The Amish here live a very plain lifestyle that they have carried on for centuries and their culture is very important to the area. Tours are offered of the farms and houses and Amish quilts and furniture can be purchased. The Amish church is a group of traditionalist Anabaptist Christians that developed after a group of Swiss and Alsatian Mennonite Anabaptists split in 1693. One group left with a man named Jakob Ammann and they called themselves Amish. This group also eventually divided into the Old Order Amish and Amish Mennonites. The Old Order are the ones that still use horse and buggy to travel. Amish and Mennonites came to Pennsylvania in the early 18th century. They all speak Pennsylvania Dutch and are pacifists who will not participate in any military service. Those of us outside the Amish world are called "English" by them. The practice of headcovering is part of traditional Anabaptism. The Amish value humility, they reject labor-saving technologies, electricity and photographs and baptism takes place between the ages of 16 and 23. You must be baptized to join and no one is allowed to marry outside of the Amish church.

The series Amish Haunting started in 2014. The television show proves that the Amish are no strangers to ghosts, possessed dolls, demons and all kinds of chilling experiences. The Lapp family deals with a faceless doll that is evil and an Amish witch comes back from the dead to terrorize the living. A witch's tree that wasn't burned down unleashes evil and the angry ghost of a man disgraced by the Amish church haunts parishioners. An Amish family is cursed after using the dark art of fortune telling. Now obviously, the Amish community would have had nothing to do with this program because they don't do photos or videos - they don't even use mirrors. But the places where they live DO have hauntings. And that is what we are going to share on this episode. 

The Eternal Hunter

There is this legend told about an eternal hunter. Lancaster County had many foundries in the 18th and 19th century and there were all these iron furnaces along this border ridge. Ironmasters ran these furnaces and this story was about the ironmaster from Colebrook Furnace. He was an alcoholic who treated his workers poorly and his hunting dogs even worse. Everyone called him The Squire. One day, some men from Philadelphia paid him a visit and The Squire bragged about how great his hunting hounds were. When the group went out to hunt, the hounds didn't match his expectations and he said, "I'll show these town-bred gentlemen, if my dogs can hunt so well on earth, another hunt in hell!” The Squire then took his hounds to the furnace and ordered the workers to throw them in the fire. The dogs came back and haunted him and drained him of life and so his spirit now roams the countryside for eternity. The legend is thought to have originated in Germany and probably came over with the Amish. The German version of this legend is more charitable with the hunter going out to find food for the community and dying. In the afterlife he continues hunting to ensure generation after generation doesn't starve.

Mondale Road Bridge

Lancaster County has more covered bridges than any other Pennsylvania county and one of those bridges is an infamous Cry Baby Bridge. The story claims that this is the Mondale Road Bridge, but nobody knows exactly which bridge that is because Mondale Road has two bridges. These are the Hunsickers Mill Covered Bridge and the Pinetown Covered Bridge. Both were built in the mid-1800s and were damaged during Hurricane Agnes. They have been rebuilt and the one that is haunted has the spirit of a young Amish girl hanging around. The story goes that she was playing near the water and fell in and drowned. People who drive onto the bridge at night and turn off their lights, claim that the spirit of a young girl will crawl into the car and if she can't get in, she leaves small handprints on the car. 

Rachel’s Cafe & Creperie

Rachel's Cafe and Creperie is located at 201 W. Walnut Street in Lancaster's historic district. Rachel's is a popular, Parisian themed crepe place known for their savory varieties and Nutella drinks. The building is old, but there are no recorded deaths. Staff and clients claim that faucets turn on by themselves in the bathrooms. A former manager named Morgan Miller said, "It would randomly just turn on full blast! I used to think that maybe it was customers leaving it on, but it would happen early in the morning. Then I thought it was Ray [Rachel Adam’s father], but c’mon, he knows how to turn off a faucet." So perhaps this is the owner's father coming back to play pranks on his daughter's business.

Franklin & Marshall College

Franklin & Marshall College was established in 1787 and offers an undergraduate liberal education. It started off as a German school named German College and Charity School. The college became Franklin College and then merged with Marshall College in 1853. They each were named for their founders, Benjamin Franklin and John Marshall. Franklin College would be the first in the nation to allow female students, although later it would become an all-male school. Once the colleges merged in 1853, a new building and site was proposed. The site had been the former Gallows Hill and the building, now known as Old Main, was built in the Gothic Revival style and has a distinctive tall tower. Several class buildings and dormitories were added throughout the 1900s, with major expansions in the 50s and 60s.

The 200 acres of land upon which the college sits was not only Gallows Hill, it once had villages on the Susquehannock and then later a variety of indigenous people like the Shawnee, Seneca, Lenape and Nanticoke. The Lancaster Treaty of 1744 was made between English colonial officials and leaders of the Six Nations. The Conestoga Indian Town was still here and on December 14, 1763, a racist vigilante group known as the Paxton Boys, swept through and massacred several of the people. The survivors were taken prisoner and held in a Lancaster warehouse. They were subsequently murdered on December 27th. That leaves some bad energy here as does a story told about Dietz-Santee Hall. Workmen were digging on the side of the building in 1936 when they found several headless skeletons. The biology Department ended up having to come clean and admitted that their Anatomy Department dissected cadavers and these were bodies that they didn't dispose of correctly. The skulls more than likely ended up in some fraternity cellars.

There are many ghost stories connected to the campus. Hensel Hall houses the performing arts and was constructed in 1925. The building underwent a renovation in 2000 and was renamed Barshinger Center for the Performing Arts. The unexplained thing that happens here takes place when someone stands on the stage at night with all the lights turned off. If you look out over the empty auditorium, you might see two lights moving slowly back and forth across the back of the auditorium.

Another building on campus is Diagnothian Hall, which is a gorgeous building built in the Gothic Revival style in 1856. It was originally built to house a literary society. Members would read parts of classic books and then discuss what they read. They would also make speeches and debate. It then became the College Bookshop and then the Music Department. Today, it houses the Registrar's offices. During the Civil War, it served as a hospital for wounded soldiers. A part of the archives at the library documents a haunting experience a professor had one evening when he was working late and put on a Souza duet called “Red Cross Nurse,” a song about a nurse tending to soldiers during World War I. The archives says, “As this song played over his stereo, he began hearing sounds apart from the music — he heard moaning, rattling sounds, and overall, the sounds of a person in intense pain…He later realized the connection between his experience and Diagnothian Hall’s history as a Civil War hospital. About 3 or 4 years after his first experience, the same professor was in his office late at night and was playing the piece 'Haunted Landscape' by the University of Pennsylvania's George Crumb. Crumb wrote the piece specifically about the battlefield of Gettysburg as it is today and the sense of a 'lingering presence' there. The atmosphere of the piece is ambient and quiet. The professor, not realizing at that moment the implications of this piece, played it over his stereo and heard precisely the same sounds as before when he had played "Red Cross Nurse." Other people in the building have claimed to hear the slamming of doors when no one else is in the building.

Old Main sits next to Diagnothian Hall and sometimes at night, the bell that is in the tower will ring all on its own. Distler House was the Gym and is one of the oldest buildings on campus, being built in 1891. The upper floor had the gym equipment, while the lower floor had a bowling alley, dressing rooms, lockers and the boiler room. In the 1920s, the Old Gym was replaced by a new one and this building became a student center. It was remodeled in 1976 and renamed "Distler House" after former F&M president Theodore "Prexy" Distler. The building had administrative offices and academic departments until 2001 and then became the "Distler Student Union." Students report hearing strange noises late at night, especially on the upper floor. The sound is described as something similar to squirrels running in circles. There is also the sound of furniture moving and rough-housing, even though nobody is in the area of the sounds. This had been a gym with an indoor track and wrestling meets were held here, so perhaps these are residual sounds from the gym era.

The Huegel Alumni House is said to be haunted by a former President of the college because this had once been used as a residence for Presidents. His name was John Ahlum Schaeffer and he served as president from 1935-1941. Schaeffer had actually attended the school and belonged to the Kappa Sigma fraternity and Goethean Literary Society. So he was very attached to the school. He was a tall man and enjoyed smoking cigars. To blow off stress, he would leave campus at lunch and speed through the Lancaster County countryside, probably scaring the Amish in their buggies. On the evening of Sunday, April 6th, 1941, Schaeffer went to bed early to read a book and his daughter found him deceased sometime around midnight, still holding the book. He apparently had a cerebral hemorrhage. Strange sounds are heard, strange sensations are felt and the scent of cigars is often detected.

The Shadek-Fackethal Library is said to be haunted by a historian who loved the library and was there often to do research. That man was Dr. Harvey Bassler, noted geologist and expert on the Amazon river basin, and he spent his time in the library during the late 1940s researching the Pennsylvania-Dutch culture. He was also a director for the Pennsylvania German Society and collected many artifacts and books and used the NE corner of the 3rd-floor of the library for cataloging and organizing his collection. People described him as being an older man with shaggy white hair who was usually seen bent over a table, deep in thought. Bassler had premonitions about his death and told people he knew he was going to die in a car accident. He did just that on March 14th, 1950 when his car hit the open door of a parked car and careened into oncoming traffic and hit an oil truck head-on. Up through the 1970s and early 1980s, students and staff would find books strewn about after they had been shelved properly, they would hear strange sounds and the elevators seemed to have minds of their own, traveling to wrong floors and opening when no one had called them. One student described hearing noises like "people moving furniture" in the southwest corner of the 3rd floor. People believe that this is Dr. Bassler just watching over his collections and favorite library.

Wohlsen House was built in 1929 and initially served as the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity house. In 1982, it was renovated and became the Admissions Office. People claim that a young man died in the house when he fell down the stairs. They have claimed to see the apparition of a man appear and then walk through a wall. The lights will turn off all by themselves and people started yelling, "Knock it off, Bob" and the lights would come back on. People have heard doors slamming in the house in the middle of the night on their own. Late one evening, a woman was working in the basement alone when she heard a loud bang on the stairs. She was alone in the house and learned later about the young man who fell down the stairs.

The Fulton Theatre

The Fulton Theatre is referred to as the "Grand Old Lady on Prince Street" and is the oldest working theater in the United States. We mentioned earlier that Indians that survived the massacre by the Paxton Boys were taken to a warehouse and imprisoned before they were also killed. Where the Fulton Theater now stands had been where that pre-revolutionary jail had stood. Fourteen of the Conestoga Native Americans were killed on this spot on December 28, 1763. As a matter of fact, the rear wall of the the theater was an exterior wall of the jail courtyard. Fulton Hall was built here in 1852 and named for Robert Fulton who was Lancaster County's steam engine pioneer. A wooden statue of him was placed on the front facade. A replica takes its place today, but the original was restored and is displayed in the front lobby. The construction was paid for by Lancaster merchant Christopher Hager and the building was designed by Samuel Sloan in the Victorian style and became a community center hosting plays, lectures, concerts and meetings. The hall was sold to a harness worker named Blasius Yecker and a hotelier named Hilaire Zaepfel. After the Battle of Gettysburg, Fulton Hall served as a hospital for wounded soldiers and then a few years later was renovated by Yecker and a man named Edward Forrest Durang. This would now be a true performance venue and had a grand re-opening on October 2nd, 1873 under the name Fulton Opera House. The first play they hosted was Othello and the proceeds benefited widows and orphans of the Civil War. 

Yecker's son Charles took over operations in 1903 and he preferred the neo-classic style, so he hired local architect C. Emlen Urban to redesign the interior. By the 1950s, this was no longer a fancy playhouse, but a second-rate movie house. Lancaster residents began a campaign to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Fulton by returning it to an opera house, but everything about the place was now set for movies and the task was too daunting. They opted for a new movie screen, which was installed in 1957 and it was now called the Fulton Art Theater. The great grandson of the Fulton Hall founder, Nathaniel E. Hager, joined with Lancaster citizens to form the Fulton Opera House Foundation to save the building from the wrecking ball. In 1983, the Actor’s Equity Association recognized the Fulton as a professional regional theatre and in 1995 it was restored to its Victorian styling, reopening on October 14, 1995 with a Gala Reopening performance of the Stephen Sondheim musical, Company. And it is still going strong today and able to boast about the many stars that have graced its stage including Sarah Bernhardt, Mark Twain, Horace Greeley, Debbie Reynolds, Lily Tomlin, Lionel Barrymore, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, W.C. Fields, George M. Cohan, Treat Williams and Lancaster’s own Jonathan Groff. Theatrical performances included Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

And then there are the ghosts. One has been nicknamed "The Whistler" because he likes to whistle. His full-bodied apparition is usually seen wearing a three-piece white suit with a straw boater hat, brown shoes and brown belt. This spectre has been reported for decades and no one is sure where he came from. The Fulton's Director of Education, Mark Wise, said, "Some people say he whistles when someone is messing up their line or their lyrics, or perhaps he’s a bit of a trickster and likes to play jokes on people. No one’s ever really been too afraid of him; they feel like he is a positive presence to have around. But he’s appeared over and over for decades now."

Another of the spirits is male and he appeared in the audience one night during a closed rehearsal. When he was questioned as to who he was, he claimed that he was there to see his granddaughter. He told a spotlight operator, "Oh, well, I'm here to see my granddaughter perform. I've never gotten to hear her sing before on stage" and then he pointed her out. After the rehearsal was done, the spotlight operator went up to the woman and told her, "I just got to meet your grandfather -- he was so proud of you, so excited to come hear you sing and perform." The woman looked at him very confused and then informed him that both of her grandfathers were dead. Then she said that she did recall that one of her grandfathers had told her that he was sad that he never got to hear her sing on stage.  

Broadway star Marie Cahill performed at the Fulton many times in the late 1800s and early 1900s. She died in New York City on August 23, 1933 and apparently she liked the Fulton so much, she returned in the afterlife. Wise said, "She tends to appear to women, female actresses on our stage, she always appears downstage right. There used to be a spiral staircase from downstage right that would go down to the dressing rooms, and she always insisted on having a dressing room down at the bottom of downstage right, at the bottom of that staircase. Some women have even said she has screamed in their ears while they’re trying to sing or say their lines. So we think she has some major jealousy issues with fellow divas." This ghost usually appears in a white dress and once told a stagehand who asked her what her name was that her name was Marie.

Bube’s Brewery

Alois Bube was a German immigrant who arrived in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania in 1876 and bought a small brewery there. He had been a brewing apprentice in Germany and brought his knowledge of creating German-style lager beer to the area. Alois expanded the brewery several times and added a Victorian hotel and restaurant to it. He was very successful, but he died suddenly in 1908 at the age of 57. His family continued on with the brewery and managed to survive Prohibition. His family continued with the business until the 1960s. Restoration started in 1968 and continues today. There are several restaurants here now. The Bottling Works is set up like a tavern and is in the original bottling plant for the brewery. The water was drawn from the limestone taverns. There is a Biergarten just outside The Bottling Works. The Catacombs is several stories below street level. It's such a cool space. It really is like being down in a cave with stone-lined vaults and big barrels for aging the beer. In 2001, a small microbrewery was added and they produce small batches of 6 to 8 offerings a year. Sam Allen is the current owner.

There are two spirits reported to be here. One is a woman in a long gown. The other goes by the nickname the White Hermit and is said to haunt the caves under the street level, which of course is lined with limestone. The story behind him is that he was a schoolteacher who immigrated to America from Scotland in the 1700s. His mother died when he was young and his father remarried to a woman the hermit didn't get along with. The father went away in the middle of winter and the hermit pushed his stepmother and and half-sibling out the door and they froze to death. He ran away to America after that and settled in Lancaster. He worked as a schoolteacher until one day someone from his hometown in Scotland came into town. The hermit decided he better hide so he ran into the caverns under the brewery and hid. He went unnoticed for years and when people finally spotted him, his hair had grown very long and gone white. So that is how he got his nickname. It was thought that he eventually died in the caves. He was last seen around 1765. And now people see his apparition down in the caves.

Railroad House Inn

The Railroad House Inn is located in Marietta, Pennsylvania. The borough was settled in 1727 and was named by combining the first names of the wives of the first two settlers, Mary Cook and Etta Anderson. The Railroad House Inn was built in 1823 directly across from the train tracks. The inn mostly housed canal workers and the occasional tourist. Today, it offers nine remodeled rooms and some ghosts. There is a Woman in White whom has been seen by several guests and people call her Annie. She likes to flirt with male guests. People see some male spirits who are thought to have been canal workers. There is also the spirit of a young girl with blonde hair. She is usually seen in Victorian garb and likes to play pranks. Room 6 is said to be the most haunted, but guests have reported feeling cold spots and seeing objects move throughout the inn.

Haldeman Mansion

The Haldeman Mansion in Bainbridge is named for Samuel Stehman Haldeman who was an internationally known scientist. He was born in the house that sits on what is known as the Locust Grove Estate in 1812. He is credited with advancing American science to a place of independence from that of Europe, but he was also a successful businessman in iron manufacturing. Professor Haldeman also was a leader in the development of phonetics as a science. (Mort: That's studying the difference between how different things are pronounced like the letter Z and the letter S. With Z our vocal cords vibrate.) The estate, which overlooks the Susquehanna River, is part of a historic and archaeological district. It is believed that there is evidence of four Indian cultures that were on the land for at least 900 years. The estate originally was made up of 440 acres and the earliest European settlers were Scot-Irish immigrants that included a fur trader, a Lieutenant Colonel from the French & Indian War, a brigade commander and wealthy tavern and land owner. That final one was Henry Haldeman. He bought the Locust Grove Estate in the late 1700s with the house already on the property. The Haldeman family lived on the property until the early 1800s and made many additions to it through the years that included a four-story grist & commercial mill, distillery, sawmill and livestock operations. They were close friends with President James Buchanan who more than likely visited the mansion.

The Haldeman Mansion is said to be one of the most haunted places in Lancaster County. There have been multiple spirits seen here. These ghosts include a teenage boy, a singing female servant, a grouchy man named Jacob who doesn't like the singing of religious music or furniture being moved and a little girl. There were several unmarked graves found during plumbing and electrical work that was done under the building. Fox 43 was out there for Halloween in 2018 and they reported hearing disembodied voices, seeing a chair move and lots of equipment going off. The reporter demonstrated the dousing rods and got them to point to where the spirit was standing and they crossed a couple of times to answer "yes" to questions. 

Christina Mark told Tyler Huber of Legends of Lancaster, "Apparitions, ghosts -- people say they can feel them, some hear them say things, some people have seen the spirits. I myself saw one here that was back in the early 1980s. I was coming through the house and actually walking out to the front porch. There was a wedding here, and I was putting food out on the tables. And as I came into this room, I could ... it was like I felt something, and I looked over at the window. There was a woman standing there, and she was looking out the window. She didn’t react to me whatsoever; she just looked out the window, dressed in a normal dress you’d see in the 1800s. … then all of a sudden she was gone."

A guest wrote of her experience, "One year, my husband and I were here for a family member’s birthday party. It was a teenager, and we had a mini haunted house for the kids, and we heard a door slam upstairs. We had made some areas off-limits. My husband thought, ‘OK, some kids went in the far room.’ The one staircase was closed off and no one could use it. When he went into the room, it was totally empty. When he came back downstairs, it happened again. He saw someone go past the stairwell, so he went back upstairs, opened up the door, and nobody was there -- no one he could see."

Jaytro wrote on TripAdvisor in 2018, "It helps to go in with an open mind and to actually participate in the experience. I distinctly heard children's voices at one point, even though no children were present in the group or on the property. I had just come downstairs from the upper floor when I heard the voices of children, laughing. It seemed to be coming from the front entrance. This room was two rooms back from the entrance. I was so sure that I heard them, that I actually walked out to the front entrance and looked outside for the children. Later in the session, I confided in Lora what I had heard. She had told me that while we were upstairs with Rob and she stayed on the first floor, she had heard the children's voices, but didn't say anything to anyone because she didn't want to influence our experience. It definitely gave me chills!!"

Rock Ford  

Historic Rock Ford was the home of Revolutionary War general Edward Hand. Hand was born in Ireland in 1744. He studied medicine in Dublin and enlisted as Surgeon's Mate with the 18th Royal Irish Regiment of Foot and was sent to Fort Pitt in America. In 1774, he resigned from the British service and moved to Lancaster to open a medical practice. He married Katherine Kitty Ewing in 1775 and joined the Continental Army as Lt. Colonel of the 1st Battalion of Pennsylvania Riflemen. Hand and Kitty had eight children: Sara, Dorothy, Katherine, John, Jasper, Mary, Margaret and Edward. After the war, Hand got involved with politics, joining the Federalist Party and serving in Congress. The Hands moved to Rock Ford in 1794 and did have at least two slaves in the time they lived there. The land upon which Rock Ford stands was purchased in two transactions: 160 acres in 1785 and an additional 17 acres in 1792. The name Rock Ford was inspired by the fact that the house sits along the banks of the Conestoga River and there were no bridges at the time, so the river had to be crossed at fords, which are shallow parts with hard rock bottoms. These are termed "ford at the rock" thus Rock Ford. This was a working farm with livestock and large orchards. Hand was an avid horticulturist and introduced a strain of plum named for him.

In total, four members of the Hand family died in the mansion. Hand died in 1802 and Kitty died in 1805, both at the mansion. The Hands' eldest son, John, took his own life with a bullet to the head. His blood is rumored to still stain the hardwood floor in an upstairs guest bedroom. The property was sold in 1810 and run as a tenant farm for 150 years with little being changed to the house. In the 1950s, the Lancaster Area Refuse Authority bought the property with the intention of demolishing the house and building a trash incineration plant and landfill. The Junior League of Lancaster put a stop to that in 1957 when they bought Rock Ford and the Rock Ford Foundation was established the following year. They restored the house and opened it as a museum in 1960. The mansion is four stories with each floor having a central hall and four corner rooms. The inside painting was restored to original and furnishings are from the Hands' time at the house. The only original thing is a dress that was worn by Kitty. There is a barn on the property that is not original, but is located where the original barn had been. Tours are offered as well as hosting of special events and weddings.

Guests and staff have experienced strange things at Rock Ford. Family members died in the house, but also it has been reported that in the 1970s, some Native American skeletons were found buried under the house. The phantom smell of snuffed candles has been detected, especially in the morning. Disembodied footsteps have been heard on the stairs. The Hands' daughter Margaret died in the house at the age of eleven and a young girl ghost that has been seen in the house is thought to be her. EVP have been caught including the voice of a young girl and a threatening voice that said “Kill her” toward a paranormal investigator. Human shaped mists have been captured in photos as well.

Director Sam Slaymaker told Legends of Lancaster, "In the 1970s, a couple had a son living in an apartment on top, where caretakers would live. The son was told he shouldn’t be playing in the museum rooms, but kids being kids, he did. He one day came back to his mom shaken up and he told her that he was in the boys’ bedroom on the second floor -- the Hand boys’ bedroom -- and there was another boy there. He said he could tell it was his room and he didn’t want him there."

Amish Country reminds us all of a simpler time and many of us probably long for that simpler life. One thing is for certain though, it doesn't matter what level of technology one embraces from the wagon wheel to artificial intelligence, ghosts are involved with it all and can be detected with gadgets or nothing at all. Are these location in Amish Country haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, July 13, 2023

HGB Ep. 495 - Haunted Schools

Moment in Oddity - Tunguska Event

Most of us have seen the movie Armageddon about an asteroid that is threatening to collide with Earth. It's estimated by scientists that asteroids hit the Earth once every 500,000 years. Meteors, on the other hand are very prevalent at approximately 17,000 impacts per year. There was an event back in 1908 that occurred in a remote area of Siberia called the Tunguska Event. It occurred on June 30, just after 7 a.m. in what is now believed to have been a meteoric air burst. 80 million trees were flattened, some were burned and people 60 kilometers away were knocked off their feet. Eyewitnesses described a fireball in the sky. The stony asteroid of about 160-200 feet in size approached the Earth at what was estimated to be approximately 60,000 mph. Although it is classified as an impact event, the asteroid is believed to have exploded around 3 to 6 miles above the Earth, leaving no impact crater. The Tunguska event is the largest impact event in recorded history. Although there was no impact crater, the impact zone was approximately 5 miles across where trees had been scorched and stripped of their branches yet still remained upright. However, trees that were further away from ground zero had been partially scorched and knocked down in directions facing away from the center, thus creating a circular pattern of downed trees. The information of the event that I provided tends to be a common opinion, however there are some who believe Tunguska could be related to extraterrestrial activity. Regardless of origin, the Tunguska event certainly is odd.

This Month in History - The Death of Billy the Kid (Suggested by: Sarah Silver)

In the month of July, on the 14th, in 1881, 'Billy the Kid' was shot and killed. As the story goes, Billy showed up at his friend's house at 12:30 a.m.. Unfortunately, his friend was being questioned by Lincoln County Sheriff Pat Garrett, at the time. Both Billy and Garrett drew their weapons, but the sheriff shot first, killing 'Billy the Kid'. However over the years other theories have emerged. Some believed that the sheriff shot the wrong man and Billy got away. To add to the mystery decades later, two separate men came to light which many believed to be the famous outlaw. The first man was John Miller, who lived in a small village in New Mexico. When he died, there was found in his possession a pistol with 21 notches on the grip, the same count of deaths attributed to 'Billy the Kid'. The second was a resident of Hico, Texas. His name was Ollie "Brushy Bill" Roberts. 'Brushy Bill' secured an audience with the governor of New Mexico in 1950. He sought a pardon for Billy's murders which failed and Roberts died soon afterwards. These tales are not surprising or unusual given the fact that we have heard similar stories about famous figures some believe to not actually dead. Elvis Presley or Adolf Hitler anyone? Actual literature of the time seemed to centralize around sensationalized newspaper articles and books hammered out quickly to cash in on the event. Researcher and author Jim Montavalli seems to believe that the 1882 biography written by sheriff Garrett, is the most trustworthy account of 'Billy the Kids' death, noting that Garrett deemed the shooting a lucky break. According to Garrett, he and his deputies traveled to Maxwell's ranch and upon arrival, saw some men camped out. They heard one man speaking fluent Spanish (which Billy was known for) and this man started walking towards Maxwell's home. Garrett quietly entered the house and questioned Maxwell who had been sleeping. Maxwell confirmed to the sheriff that Billy had been around the property. Suddenly a man came into view holding a gun and knife asking in Spanish "Who's that?". Sheriff Garrett raised his weapon and shot twice, killing the outlaw. According to the account, a Coroner's Jury held an inquest and determined that indeed, the body was that of 'Billy the Kid'. Unfortunately we will never know for certain if indeed the body was correctly identified. A flood in September of 1904 washed away the grave markers in Fort Sumner's Old Military Cemetery leaving the definitive location of the outlaws body a mystery. 

Haunted Schools

School is scary enough without having ghosts running around the halls. There's all that social pressure and expectation of good grades. A haunted school means that you don't just have to skirt the visible bullies, but the shadow figures lurking in the corners. Join us as we explore these reputedly haunted schools from around the world!

Riverside Park School

We're going to start with a doozie right here in Florida in Jacksonville. This originally was known as Riverside Park School, but today has been dubbed the Devil's School. The original school was just a tiny place built from wood in 1891. After being deemed a fire hazard, it was rebuilt in 1917 out of brick and renamed Riverside Grammar School. It was designed by Rutledge Holmes and was the county's fourth public school. There was an auditorium, offices and a large cafeteria with a fireplace on the first floor and classrooms on the second floor. The school changed names again in 1950 to Annie Lytle Public School in honor of the principal Annie Lytle Housh. The construction of two major interstates, 95 and 10, isolated the school and by 1960, it was closed. For the next ten years it was used as storage and office space. The property was sold in 1980 with a plan to turn it into senior apartments, but that never came to fruition and the building fell into disrepair. A fire in 1995 caved in the auditorium roof. Another effort was made in 1999 to turn the property into condominiums, but public outcry over its historical significance shut that down and it is today a historic landmark. One that was marked with graffiti and dogged with tales of hauntings and satanic worship.

Renovations have been attempted at the school with paint being applied to graffiti and broken windows being replaced. But that doesn't fix the legends connected to the school. Stories claim that a principal of the school had been a cannibal. The principal would call students up to his office and they would never be seen again according to these tales. The details got even darker with claims that the principal had converted a closet into a meat locker and he would hang the children up in there. There are versions that claim that multiple staff members were in on the cannibalism. There is a alternate version with the principal just going berserk and murdering a bunch of kids. 

There was a bad janitor here too who would take students down to the boiler room and boil them alive. One kidnapped student managed to escape when the boiler room exploded. Sounds inspired by Freddie Krueger. There was a fire and several students were killed and these students ghosts haunted the school after that. Then there are stories of Satanic rituals taking place on the school grounds. And that possibly may be the only bit of truth in these legends as much of the graffiti in the school is of Satanic iconography. There are some who believe the fire that happened in 1995 was caused by candles used during one of these rituals. The truth is that the building became a dangerous place when it was abandoned. Whether there are ghosts there or not, its definitely not a place for children anymore.

Tonk Upper Primary Government School

This school is located in India and was established in 1999. It's a co-educational school that teaches in Hindi and provides an upper primary level education. In 2014, three students at the school claimed that they saw the spirit of a young girl in the restroom and that she tried to push them down into the toilets. All three had passed out in the restroom and that is what they claimed caused them to faint. All the students were told to stay home for a week while the school was cleansed of evil spirits. The story claimed that 300 people took part in the cleansing and one of them was a villager that was said to be possessed by the deity Tejaji. The villager said that since it had been two months since a puja had been conducted at the school, the spirit came in. The villagers then agreed to be sure to perform a puja ceremony at least every two months to prevent spirits at the school. A Puja ceremony ranges from a brief daily ritual to an elaborate temple ritual and is observed in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.

Lee William’s High School

This school is located in Kingman, Arizona. The high school opened in August of 2012 and is named for Richard Lee Williams who was a former school principal and firefighter who died while fighting the Doxol Disaster in 1973. Eleven firefighters perished in this blaze that is also known as the Kingman Explosion, which happened during a propane transfer from a Doxol railroad car to a storage tank. A hairline crack allowed the propane to leak and static electricity ignited the gas leading to the explosion. The original Kingman High School opened in 1917. In 1993, a north campus was built for upper classmen, while freshman continued at the original old school. Eventually the new north campus became the high school for all students and the old campus was converted into a middle school. The old school was gutted in 2010 to update it and make it a second high school. The only original part remaining besides the outer walls is the gymnasium, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A new auxiliary gym was built. Something else preserved during the renovation was the "Mohave County Union High School 1917" monument sign. 

But something was disturbed during the renovation. There was a pioneer cemetery here with eleven graves, seven coffins and several artifacts. But even before that, the land itself was witness to conflict between pioneers and the indigenous people. The haunting activity was so pronounced that the principal, Steve Elwood, spoke to the Los Angeles Times in 2013. Principal Elwood shared that ghosts of women and men in period clothing from pioneer prairie times have appeared at graduation events on the football field. Students claim to have seen a spirit wearing a bowler hat and long coat lurking in the hallways. There are reports of disembodied footsteps, alarms that go off on their own, lights that flicker and hand dryers that go off on their own too. The spirit of a little girl calls out that she wants to play. The school janitor has probably had the most experiences as the ghosts seem most active at night when he is there alone. He often hears voices in classrooms when no one is in them. He told the LA Times, "Some nights I hear footsteps. Last fall, I was [cleaning] in the girls’ bathroom and I heard someone going into the boys’ lavatory. I hear voices coming from some rooms, little kids mumbling. I can’t really hear what they’re saying. It’s kind of freaky, but it really doesn’t bother me. I just tell them all to go home."

El Paso High School

El Paso High School is the oldest operating high school in El Paso, Texas and is nicknamed "The Lady on the Hill." It was built in 1916 by the Trost & Trost architectural firm in the Greco-Roman style and features a Corinthian porch. Because of the time that it was built, this is a fancy school. The bathrooms and shower rooms are made from marble and porcelain. The main corridor floor is from marble and classroom floors were laid from hard maple. A bronze tablet above the front doors reads, "A Cultivated Mind is the Genius of Democracy: It is the Only Dictator that Free Men Acknowledge and the Only Security that Free Men Desire." The school became a national historic landmark in 1980.

The school is said to be haunted because it was used as an overflow morgue during the Spanish Flu of 1918. Then it served as a hospital for casualties from World War II. The most well known ghost story told about the school involves a picture. This is a class picture taken in 1985 that sits in a trophy case. A woman in white is seen in the center of the picture, somewhat blurry and students and staff claim that this was no one who went to the school or worked there. No one was actually standing in the spot when the picture was taken. And since this was from 1985, it couldn't have been photoshopped. People think this is the spirit of a female student who committed suicide many years ago when she jumped off one of the school’s balconies. Sometimes that spirit appears as a residual haunting jumping from the balcony. A strange mist sometimes fills the halls as well. Sometimes noise is heard as though a group of people are playing basketball in the gym, but there is nobody in there when people check.

West High School

West High School is located in Anchorage , Alaska. The school was established in 1953 on Romig Hill. For a time, Anchorage Community College held classes at the school until they had a campus built in the early 1970s. An earthquake in 1964 destroyed most of the school's second floor and damaged part of the first floor. All that survived on the second floor is the band and choir rooms and nothing else was rebuilt. A science wing was added in 1996 and the school underwent a major renovation in 1998. The auditotium is the largest of any high school in Alaska and holds 2,000 people. It was constructed in 1954. Many rock concerts were hosted here featuring Ozzy Osbourne, Steppenwolf, Ted Nugent, Johnny Cash and the Bee Gees.

A woman in white haunts the auditorium. The theater teacher named David Block told the Anchorage Daily News in 2017, "I've never, ever seen a ghost in there -- I can't say I even believe in ghosts. I haven't ever seen her, but enough people have seen her that I have to believe that something is going on." Block also said that two assistant principals and a security guard saw something white flash through a corridor behind the balcony and that one of those principals was so rattled that he won't talk about the incident. Block continued, "Even I don't like going into the passage behind the balcony." The spirit has been seen among the seats, sometimes walking a hallway, sometimes hiding backstage or down in the basement. People also claim that a former janitor haunts the school still doing his cleaning job. Disembodied footsteps are heard and doors slam.

Mgotjane Primary School 

This primary school is located in Swaziland. It's always the girls' restroom isn't it? Three girls went to the bathroom together and while one of them stood outside of the stall, the other two entered a stall. They both heard a voice screaming at them from down in the toilet that they should stop peeing on it. The girl waiting outside also heard the voice also and asked who was in the stall with the girls. The voice in the toilet got louder and louder and the three girls ran back to their class and reported what happened to a teacher. The teacher was skeptical, as were the parents of the girls. And then other girls in the junior class started reporting the same phenomenon. And that wasn't all. A female teacher left the school in 2013 and refused to return because she claimed that evil spirits had attacked her in the school. Another teacher soon followed, claiming that he felt unsafe at the school.

A teacher named Thulani Dlamini said, "At times it comes as an evil spirit or in the form of a person. One night in June, I was in my room when I overheard footsteps of people approaching my quarters.  My colleagues had once told me of how their sleep was interrupted by a strange spirit and that got me thinking. I immediately reached for my bible and started reading it. As I read my bible I heard one of my colleagues shouting that he was being attacked by four short men who were trying to strangle him. The time was after midnight if I recall correctly. Late that same night, at around 2am the ‘four men’ came to my house. Two entered through the back door and the other two through the main door. Upon entering, two stood at the edge of my bed and the other was by the headboard. They kicked me on my back after they could not sit on me or strangle me. They also tried to press me face down so I couldn’t breathe but they couldn’t. Just before the crack of dawn Mduduzi came knocking pleading to come and spend the night in my room." The school was closed for a few days and a prayer session was held with parents, teachers and students. We're not sure if it did the trick or not, but there haven't been any more recent reports of hauntings.

Majiji Primary School

There is another haunted primary school in Africa. Majiji Primary School is located in Zimbabwe. In 2022, reports came out of this school of paranormal activity. These reports claimed that a goblin was attacking students and staff. The school closed for a while and then a prophetess named Sithembiso Moyo came to the school to conduct a cleansing ceremony. She claimed the goblin was caused by the spirit of a late teacher. Moyo said, "There is a spirit of a male teacher who died at the school. The family of the long deceased teacher failed to perform traditional rituals to cleanse his spirit from the school and his spirit is now troubled. It is today that we get rid of it and make sure that the spirit of the late teacher will be exorcised and tamed so that he rests in peace." We're not sure if it worked or not.

Roy High School

The high school is located in Roy, Utah and was built in 1965. It soon became the county's largest high school and was ranked in the top ten of schools in the nation. And its also one of the most haunted schools in America. There is a female spirit that hangs out in the theater named Mable. Students claim that she moves props and plays with the lighting. There is also the spirit of a floating head that students have claimed watches them when they are in the school alone. There are people who think the head belongs to a boy who was hit by a train when he was walking to school. Another spirit who likes to wear a purple hat has been seen and this spectre tries to get students to follow her. She gives off a malevolent feeling. 

Sophi B. Wright Middle School

It really isn't shocking to hear that a school is haunted in New Orleans. That is where Sophi B. Wright Middle School is located. Middle schools are always scary, but this one even frightened the National Guard. The school was the first all-girls school in the city and was built in 1912 by local architect E.A. Christy in the “Collegiate Gothic” style. Sophie B. Wright spent her life working in education and this started at the age of fourteen when she opened a day school for girls in a spare room at her family's home in 1880. Right before she died in 1912, the Sophie B. Wright High School was opened and named for her. In 2007, the school became a charter school catering to grades 6 to 12. It underwent major renovations in 2016. 

During Hurricane Katrina, the school was evacuated and the National Guard used it as living quarters. They were the first to report strange things happening at the school. Sergeant Robin Hairston reported that she saw the apparition of a girl in a doorway. Specialist Rosales Leanor claimed to see the shadow of a young woman when she was in the bathroom and she ran out in terror. Once these stories came out, staff from the school told stories about paranormal experiences that they had endured as well. One said he opened a closet to find a little girl ghost giggling at him. After the National Guard vacated the school, a chaplain was called in to cleanse the school and apparently it worked.

Yanagawa High School

Yanagawa is a private high school in Japan that was established over 80 years ago. It made news in Japan Today in 2014 when videos from inside the school started going viral. These featured dozens of girls collapsing and it was claimed that a vengeful spirit was causing the issue. One girl started the frenzy when she yelled that she couldn't move her body. Girls near here started yelling that they were paralyzed too. Some screamed, “kill me” or “die.” This behavior continued for a couple of hours. Apparently the girls had gone on a field trip to Mt. Hiko and the Aburagi Dam area, where a headless ghost is said to wander. People thought the girls had somehow brought the ghost back with them. Maybe one of them had been possessed. The school closed for the rest of the day when the frenzy started and students were sent home. It remained closed the following day while authorities investigated. It was eventually blamed on some kind of group hysterics. But many still believe there was a ghost involved, maybe even Hanako-san, a spirit that haunts bathrooms in Japanese schools. 

Parker Roads Elementary

Diane has several family members who live in Florissant, Missouri and this town is home to our next haunted school, Parker Roads Elementary. Apparently, this school was built over an old burying ground. Before the school was built in the 1950s, the state of Missouri ordered Leaf Brown Cemetery to dig up all the bodies in the cemetery and move them to another cemetery, but as usually happens, at least one body was left behind. This is a spirit that is seen only by the children. They claim that she is a blonde woman wearing a black dress with no eyes. She usually hangs out guessed it, the bathrooms.

Westall High School

This school in Melbourne, Australia isn't exactly haunted, but it did experience a weird UFO visit. It was around 11 am on Wednesday April 6, 1966 that students and a teacher from Westall High School reported seeing a UFO. They claimed that it appeared to be saucer-shaped and was a silvery-green color. The craft was twice the size of a standard car at the time and descended, then flew over the school. It then headed to a stand of trees where it disappeared. The stunned students claimed that the UFO reappeared around 20 minutes later and then sped up and flew to the north-west.

Farrar Schoolhouse

The Farrar Schoolhouse is located in Maxwell, Iowa and was dedicated in 1922. A man named C.G. Geddes donated six acres of his farm for the Washington Township Consolidated School District. This school building would combine all the one-room schoolhouses in the area to one building. Some people in the district were not happy with the new schoolhouse because it cost $100,000 and had the modern amenities of electric lights, indoor bathrooms and boiler heating. The school was named for the town of Farrar, which eventually became part of Maxwell. The school closed down in 2002 and sat abandoned for five years. Jim and Nancy Oliver bought the schoolhouse in 2006 and quickly noticed that things were off. They were told when they asked around about hauntings that students had experienced unexplained stuff for years before the school closed. They would watch doors slam themselves and saw shadow figures. Former janitor Bill Webb would find the gym lights on all the time after he would shut them off. He would also hear disembodied footsteps when he was in the school alone.

Nancy Oliver herself saw the ghost of a young boy near the gym. She also heard the giggle of a little girl and looked in a classroom where she heard it coming from and saw the figure of a girl with a long, frilly dress and curly hair. Steven Tracy founded Iowa Paranormal and he said that his team once saw a full-bodied apparition on the third floor near the principal's office. His group thinks that a former principal might be haunting the building even though nobody died on the property. Other experiences had by people investigating the building include balls rolling by themselves in a classroom on the third floor, music has been heard coming from the gym, the spirit of a boy was seen coming out of Room 206 and a nine-foot tall shadow figure was seen on the third floor.

The schoolhouse has been featured on Discovery Channels "My Ghost Story" and "Ghost Stalkers" and been investigated by a number of paranormal celebrities like Johnny Houser, David Rountree and Christopher Booth. John E. L. Tenney said of Farrar, "Farrar flummoxed me, and in doing so, I fell in love with it. It was quiet and loud, inactive and hyperactive. It was cold and hot and warm and spoke and sang and laughed all while standing mute. Lockers slammed, ethereal footsteps ran down hallways, and yet, for all the multitude of experiences and non-experiences, the one thing I came to learn was that this school could teach me something."

Pocatello High School

We covered Pocatello High School in Ep. 49 back in 2015. Pocatello High School is located in Idaho and the city of Pocatello is known as the Gateway to the Northwest. It was founded in 1889. Many of the historic buildings from Pocatello's earliest days still exist today. One of those buildings is Pocatello High School. The school was built in 1892 and named West Side School. The building featured a belfry, gables and arched windows. All grades attended classes in the school. The school was a matter of pride for the city and because of this, two presidents spoke at the school. Those presidents were Theodore Roosevelt in 1902 and William Howard Taft in 1908. The school thrived until 1914, when a fire broke out. A boiler had apparently started the fire. Students and teachers rushed to save what they could and the fire department arrived on horse drawn carriages. It was no use. The school was completely destroyed, burned to the ground. The town decided to rebuild the school in the former's footprint. Students met on the lawn and in churches while they waited for the new school to be built. That new school was finished in 1917. The school was expanded in 1939 and a gymnasium was added. Major renovations were done in 1996 and a new gymnasium was completed in 2006. The school would seem to be a typical high school, until one hears about the supernatural occurrences that have been experienced within the school.

A peculiarity of this high school is that a real skeleton was used in science classes. Obviously, the school decided this was not a good idea and they switched to using a plastic skeleton. Apparently, the spirit behind the skeleton was not happy about this switch. Science teachers started finding bones from the real skeleton tucked inside cabinets and in other places within the science department. It was in the 40s or 50s when two girls at the school decided that life for them was over. They made a pact with each other that they would commit suicide. Only one of the girls went through with the plan because the other chickened out. The girl who followed through with the horrible plan, hung herself from her locker. She wore a distinctive perfume that is smelled in the hallways to this day. The most intense scent came from her original locker. It got so bad that her locker was finally removed. Custodial staff sees a young girl's apparition in the hallways at night.

On several occasions, the tinkling of piano keys has been heard coming from the music room at night. When someone goes to investigate, there is never anybody found playing the piano. Toilets flush on their own when no one is in the restrooms. The same thing happens with the lights. They are repeatedly turned on and off and it gets so intense that police are called.  Whispers are heard throughout the school and no one is found in the areas from which the whispering originates.

In 2014, a dark, shadowy figure was captured on a security camera moving from a bench into a bathroom. The lights also flickered in the video and the security alarm went off. The video was widely circulated online and on TV. Some people have debunked the video claiming it is a cobweb or string that has caused the weird anomaly walking around in the video, but that doesn't explain the lights. They have investigated the school several times over seven years and John Brian said that they were doing investigating near the bathroom where the security footage was shot and they had equipment go missing there. A janitor found it in a stairwell up in a window well out of reach of most people. He had gone up there to dust and saw the equipment. Don Contant was a principal at the school and he claimed to witness several paranormal things and heard many stories. He would hear banging on the floor and go over and bang back on the floor and tell the ghosts to stop banging because he had work to do. When A&E brought Ghost Hunters back in 2019, they visited the high school.  

Milton Schoolhouse

The Milton Schoolhouse was covered by us in 2015 on episode 90. In 1904, the Milton Schoolhouse was built. The original parts of the school consisted of four classrooms, restrooms on the ground floor and a boiler room. Two new additions were made to the school in 1930 and 1937. This construction saw the addition of eighteen new classrooms, a gymnasium, and a cafeteria. The school served elementary students and was the main schoolhouse for Alton from 1904 until it was closed in 1986. The Milton School sat abandoned for 4 years after that. In 1990, a man named Gary Levi purchased the building. A warehouse was added to the building in 1993 and he operated the Intaglio/Levay Glass and Giftware company from it until 1998. After the glass company was shut down the building sat dormant again, this time for eleven years. In 2009, it was purchased by Meredith Elston who rented out space in the school to small local businesses. Those businesses included a coffee shop, massage parlor, an aromatherapy store, three photography studios, a pet groomer, an electrician and a party bus company. Doug Mattingly bought the school before the pandemic in 2020. He is renovating the building and attempting to rejuvenate it. They have built out and rented a couple of apartments in the north wing and the south wing is becoming commercial studios. The gym is being set up as a place to host weddings, concerts and receptions. Some commercial tenants have carried over from previous years, including Maeva's Coffee.

What is most commonly associated with the school building; however, is the hauntings. Over the years, there have been reports of many kinds of activities in the schoolhouse. These vary and include footsteps, shadowy figures in a basement stairwell, a shadow seen peeking out of a second floor window, strange noises in the boiler room and other odd things. Patrick Keller mentioned on his Big Seance Podcast featuring this location that the cellar was very creepy. Exploding boilers killed many people. Did someone lose their life here? Or did something happen on the land? The most commonly reported occurrence of activity over the last 60 years revolves around the haunting of the school by a young girl supposedly named Mary and possibly also the spirit of the twisted man who would be her killer. 

According to legend, school had dismissed for the day on a fall afternoon. Everyone had gone home except for a girl who was working on a seasonal bulletin board for her class. A janitor took advantage of the opportunity and dragged her away to a locker room where she was found assaulted and deceased. A few days after this, the body of the janitor was found hanging in the school with a note scrawled near him which simply stated "I did it." The story has no evidence to support it, so it more than likely never happened. But there are things happening here that lend credence to a young girl ghost being in the school. For years following this, children claimed to have encounters with strange figures, hear sounds all around the school and the name Mary floated through the halls like a secret word on the tips of everyone's tongue. When Intaglio Design took over the building, employees claimed to see the apparition of a small girl while working there. They claimed to find glass items shattered near a specific shower stall in the previous locker room. 

There was even one employee who claimed the apparition of the young girl became very attached to her. Her office was located by a stair well outside of the gymnasium. An apparition of a young girl was often seen in her office, out of the corner of her eye in other rooms, and was even reported to have typed on the computer when no one else could have possibly been in her office. Little X's and O's were left behind on the screen. This employee grew attached to the spirit of the little girl. Over the years, she claimed another spirit was in the school as well. This one, she said, was threatening. Other employees felt short of breath and panicked in the area surrounding the girls shower room and even supported the story that they had seen the office employee terrorized by a spirit in a hallway. The woman eventually left her job and refused to return to the building. A few years later, it was shut down again, until the purchase in 2009. Ghost Hunters investigated the property in 2010. They experienced lights turning on and off by themselves and heard disembodied footsteps. They also heard a disembodied voice shush them.

Poasttown Elementary

We covered Poasttown Elementary on episode 228 in 2017. Poasttown started off as a town in Ohio named West Liberty and was platted by Peter Post in 1818. There was another town in Ohio with that name, so in 1848 it was decided to change the name in honor of the founder. Poasttown Elementary got its start on August 18, 1936, when the voters of Madison Township passed a bond issue for a consolidated elementary school at Poasttown to replace the township's one-room school. On September 7, 1937, the new school on Franklin-Trenton Road opened although not all the construction was completed. The school wouldn't be officially dedicated until April 15, 1938. Pupils were assigned to the new school from Upper and Lower Browns Run, Dubbs, Pike and old Poasttown. There were 200 students at that time.The schoolhouse has a history that is relatively peaceful. There is a story that a young girl, named Sarah, fell three floors down a stairwell and was killed by a serious head injury. There doesn't seem to be any evidence backing that story though. The school eventually closed in 2000 and the building is now owned and operated by Darrell and Brenda Whisman. Darrell had attended the elementary school in the 1960s. He soon figured out the school was haunted. Poasttown Elementary’s official motto has become "When you leave, you believe."

One reason that there might be hauntings here could be because the town has known tragedy. There were two train crashes about a mile away from the property, one in 1895 and the other in 1910. Interestingly, both happened on July 4. The 1910 crash was a head-on collision of a passenger train and a freight train that was the worst railroad crash in Butler County’s history. The crash killed 24 people and injured at least 35 and the area where the school would eventually be built was used as a triage area. There was also a great flood in 1913 and six people were killed. Whisman noticed the haunting activity almost immediately after he bought the building in 2004. He said, "We’ll hear a desk being drug across the floor above us. We’ll hear little kids’ footsteps. I’ve heard voices with my own ears when nobody is here but me and my wife. I just can’t explain it."

He had a friend doing construction work one day who let out a loud scream from the top floor. Darrel said, "He runs down to me. He can’t catch his breath and he’s saying, ‘There’s something up there.' I thought maybe a dog or possum got inside. But then he says, 'Dude, it’s a ghost.'" Dozens of paranormal investigators have done ghost hunts at the school. Paranormal investigator Mike Palmer founded the Paranormal Investigators of Northern Kentucky and they have investigated the school twice. Palmer said, "It’s very rare for our instruments to simultaneously go off and do so on command. This place is definitely active." One of his team members has become nauseous when inside the school. The team also captured an EVP of an older man saying, "Russ will eat it." This was after an investigator commented that she felt a critter run past her feet. 

Our listener Angela wrote us, "I am with Big Country Paranormal and we have seen full bodied apparitions, (7 foot tall) a door to the roof open and slam shut,  black floating masses, white mists, voices, strange glowing lights floating through the rooms, and even a gremlin-like creature! It was built on the ground once used to temporarily lay the dead from a fatal train accident. The janitor died in a fire and it is said  a child had a fatal fall near the stairs.  There is so much more to tell you and even an episode of Ghost Brothers was filmed there. I saw a full bodied apparition and a goblin like creature while on my first visit!"

All of these schools have been places for learning. Is it possible that some of the children that were once there as students have returned in the afterlife? Are schools attractive to other spirits? Are these school haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, July 6, 2023

HGB Ep. 494 - Beauvoir House

 Moment in Oddity - Perpetual Stew (Suggested by: Jannae McCabe and Mariessa Dobrick)

Pease porridge hot, Pease porridge cold, Pease porridge in the pot, nine days old. The earliest record of this rhyme was around 1760 and referred to a porridge made from peas. It is said that oftentimes the stew would be served for dinner, left in the pot which would reference the 'cold' then be reheated for dinner again. Now, the nine days old portion of the rhyme is what gets me. I understand the premise behind perpetual stew but my mind paints a graphic picture of the possible intestinal problems produced by spoiled peas porridge. Well now, forget the nine days part and substitute that with 50 years! There is a restaurant in Bangkok called Wattana Panich. This family owned restaurant is famous for a soup that has been feeding locals and traveling foodies for half a century. One of the family members stated, "We never make the soup new, instead we store it every night and add new ingredients and water to it every day". Now, the ingredients added daily ARE cooked prior to being added to the soup, so the meats are cooked through before going into the stew. And reports are that the stew is very flavorful with some of the meats incorporated being goat, buffalo and beef. The restaurant has won numerous awards over the years and they always stay very busy with customers. I can be somewhat daring in trying different delicacies, but for me, consuming a soup that has been simmering for as many years as I have been on this earth, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - President Garfield's Assassination

In the month of July, on the 2nd, in 1881, President James Garfield was shot and mortally wounded. Charles J. Guiteau was his assassin. Guiteau harbored ill will for the newly elected President. This was due to feeling slighted for not receiving acknowledgement and compensation for the efforts Guiteau made during Garfield's election. Guiteau believed he should be awarded a diplomatic post for his supposedly vital assistance. This assistance related to Guiteau having written a speech initially supporting Grant, but when Grant lost his nomination, the speech was sloppily converted into a support speech of Garfield. This perceived slight ultimately led to Guiteau stalking the newly elected president to the dire day of July 2nd. The President was scheduled to leave for holiday from the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station. Garfield did not have a security detail with him, as was common for early presidents. After President Garfield entered the station's waiting room, Guiteau shot twice. The first bullet grazed the President's shoulder and the second lodged in his back. The second bullet was not able to be located and Garfield was told he would not survive the night. He did however survive and then the task to locate the bullet moved forward. Alexander Graham Bell devised a metal detector to try and locate it. Unfortunately the metal bed frame interfered, as did a doctor who insisted the bullet would be lodged in Garfield's right side. As it turned out, the bullet was actually on Garfield's left side and would have been found if Bell was able to use his detector on that side. The President's conditioned continued to worsen and he passed away on September 19, 1881 after less than nine months serving as the nations President. 

Beauvoir House (Suggested by: Rebecca Holliman) 

Beauvoir House is located in Biloxi, Mississippi. This was once the home to former president of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis. The estate is nearly 175 years old and provided a place of refuge not only for Davis, but for Confederate veterans. There was a hospital, chapel and a cemetery for them. Today, the house is open for tours and there are stories of ghostly Confederates and the apparition of Jefferson Davis himself. Join us for the history and hauntings of the Beauvoir House.

Indigenous people have been in the Biloxi area starting from 8,000 BC and into the 1700s. The French were the first Europeans to arrive here and they became friends with the Biloxi Indians who were called Bilocci by the French and that is where the city gets its name. This was the capital of French Louisiana for a time. The flags of six countries have flown over the city in its time starting with France, then there was England, Spain, the Republic of West Florida, the Confederate States of America and the United States flag. Biloxi was not a city with a large population, but by the mid 1800s it had become a summer resort area. The town was incorporated in 1838. Biloxi fared well during the Civil War, seeing no battles and no damage and was occupied by the Union for most of the war. After the war, tourism and canning of seafood became the major industries. Biloxi is today a co-seat for Harrison County and is the fourth largest city in the state of Mississippi. Gambling is legal in Mississippi, so the gulf town is popular with casinos as well. One of the most well known historic sites in Biloxi is Beauvoir.

Beauvoir was built in 1848 by planter and entrepreneur James Brown and he was the architect. The home was built to face the Gulf of Mexico and the name "Beauvoir" means "beautiful to view." And the name is perfect because the property is surrounded by massive magnolia, cedar and oak trees that are dripping in Spanish moss. The Oyster Bayou runs across the property behind the house. The property covered 608 acres.The main house was built in the Greek Revival style. This is a raised cottage with a full basement that was used for storing food and wine. The large veranda is surrounded by square wooden pillars and the front doors have opaque glass with a berry and leaf pattern. The interior of the house was designed for natural ventilation to keep it cool. There is a wide hall with four rooms coming off of it upon entering the house. There is a front and rear parlor with white marble mantelpieces and two bedrooms on the other side. To the rear is another block of four rooms. All the rooms have access to the veranda. The kitchen was in a separate building behind the house at one time. A unique feature to the home are the frescoed walls and ceilings of the hall and parlors that feature shells, mythological figures and garlands of fruit and flowers.

There were also two cottages added to the property that flank the house. They each have pagoda-like roofs and were single rooms with two entrances and floor length windows. Despite all the land and being referred to as a plantation, Beauvoir was never a working plantation and only had gardens later when the Davises lived there. In 1873, the property was sold to a man named Frank Johnston, but he didn't own it for long. The next owners would be Samuel and Sarah Anne Ellis Dorsey. Sarah was born and raised in Natchez, Mississippi and she became a novelist and historian. Her biography about the Louisiana wartime governor, Henry Watkins Allen, is a historical classic that is part of what has come to be known as Lost Cause literature. Her husband Samuel was much older and he passed in 1875, so her half-brother Mortimer Dahlgren moved in with her. 

Sarah had heard that Jefferson Davis and his family were having difficulties and so she invited him to rent one of the cottages on the property, which he did in 1877. Jefferson Davis was born in Kentucky on June 3, 1808. His brother Joseph pushed for Jefferson to be well educated, so he attended Transylvania College in Kentucky before going to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1824. Davis wasn't much of a cadet. He placed 23rd in a class of thirty-four. He continued to serve in the military though and saw some action during the Black Hawk War in 1832. In 1833, he met future President Zachary Taylor's daughter, Sarah, and he fell in love. The couple were married in 1835 without the blessing of Taylor. Their wedded bliss was short lived as the couple contracted malaria and Sarah died just three months after the nuptials. Davis was devastated and he became a recluse for ten years. He eventually found love again with Varina Banks Howell and the two married in 1845. The couple would have six children, two girls and four boys, but only the girls would reach adulthood. That same year, 1845, Davis' political life began and he was elected to the US House of Representatives for Mississippi. He eventually served 6 years as US Senator from Mississippi, 4 years as US Secretary of War and even ran to become governor of Mississippi in 1851.

But, of course, what he is most well known for is becoming the first and only President of the Confederate States of America. Mississippi was the second state to secede leading up to the Civil War, with South Carolina being the first. Davis believed that the Constitution protected the rights of the states to secede, but he wasn't in favor of such a drastic move. He argued against it for a time, but was “drafted” to lead the Confederacy. He had to be drafted because he didn't want the job. He wanted a military post. On February 18th, 1861 Jefferson Davis was sworn in as President of the Confederate States of America. Davis had owned a plantation with slaves, so he was in favor of the institution. Jefferson was a popular president at first, but his personality would soon clash with many people. He would reward unsuccessful military officers, his administration had a lot of infighting and he was chronically ill. The Confederacy would suffer a number of defeats in 1865 and by April 2, 1865, Davis and the other members of the Confederate government were forced to flee from Richmond because the Union was on its way there. Davis was captured by Northern soldiers near Irwinville, Georgia on May 10, 1865.

Jefferson Davis was imprisoned at Fort Monroe, Virginia for two years. He was charged with treason, but never was brought to trial. He was released on bond in May of 1867 and his trial which was dragged out to 1869 was cancelled by the prosecution. Davis and his family traveled throughout Europe for a while before returning to America in Tennessee. That brings us to 1877 and Davis has been invited to rent a cottage at Beauvoir and he took Sarah Dorsey up on that offer. Varina Davis joined her husband at Beauvoir in 1878 and the following year, their daughter Winnie joined them after studying in Europe. In 1879, Davis signed a contract to buy Beauvoir for $5,000 that he was going to pay in three installments, but a few months later Mrs. Dorsey passed and at the reading of her will, Davis was surprised to hear that she had left the property to him. The Davis family moved into the main house and Davis used the cottage on the east side as a study and the books, desk and chair that are in there today were his, as was the color scheme, which features a blue ceiling and yellow walls. The west side cottage was used like a guest house and the Davis' daughter Margaret and her family stayed there often. Mrs. Dorsey was an author and she had encouraged Davis to write a history of the Confederacy, which he did called "The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government" and it was published in 1881.

Jefferson Finis Davis died in New Orleans, Louisiana on December 6, 1889. The year before his death, Davis wrote, that the young men of Mississippi should “lay aside all rancor, all bitter sectional feeling, and to make your places in the ranks of those who will bring about a consummation devoutly to be wished—a reunited country.” Mrs. Dorsey had provided in her will that after Jefferson Davis died, that Beauvoir should go to his daughter Winnie. She remained single her entire life and she and her mother stayed on at Beauvoir for a time while Varina wrote a book called "Jefferson Davis: A Memoir." Varina and Winnie moved to New York City in 1891 and Winnie passed in 1898. Varina inherited Beauvoir at that time and in 1902 she sold most of the property to the Mississippi Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. She stipulated that Beauvoir would need to be used as a museum to honor her husband and a home for Confederate veterans and widows. The Sons of Confederate Veterans built a dozen barracks buildings, a hospital, and a chapel behind the main house to accommodate the veterans. From 1903 to 1957, approximately 2,500 veterans and their families lived at the home and many of the veterans who died there were buried in a cemetery that was added to the property. 

The museum at Beauvoir was opened in 1941 and tours were offered starting then and continue to today. Also added to the property were a Jefferson Davis Gallery, gift shop, the Tomb of the Unknown Confederate Soldier, and the Jefferson Davis Presidential Library. Hurricane Camille blew through in 1969 and devastated most of the gulf coast of Mississippi. Beauvoir stood up pretty well suffering some flooding and losing the front stairs of the main house. The east cottage lost its front steps and veranda. Some of the outbuildings were demolished and the landscaping was lost as well. Hurricane Katrina did a number to the property in 2005 when the storm hit Biloxi head-on. The main building was severely damaged with its porches being destroyed and a part of the roof was lost. As for the rest of the property, one cottage was destroyed as was the Library Pavilion, a barracks replica, the Confederate Museum and the director's home. The Davis Presidential Library lost 35% of its collections.

The destroyed buildings are slated to be reproduced as replicas. The main house is suffering from deterioration caused by settling after restoration was done in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The ceilings have come down in a couple rooms and painting is needed. Beauvoir sits on 52 acres today. The cemetery holds 784 graves and features the United Daughters of the Confederacy Memorial Archway. Jefferson Davis' father Samuel Emory Davis is buried here as is a Davis niece and her husband and there is also the Tomb of the Unknown Confederate Soldier. Original headstones were just made from wood with hand painted markings. The government eventually provided stones for the veterans. The information on many of them is incomplete or wrong. Many burials have no markings as they were for the wives of the veterans.

Stories of hauntings have persisted at the property for decades. Appearances of Jefferson Davis are the most abundant. Many times, visitors have complimented the staff on the great Davis impersonator they have and, of course, there never is any impersonator at the site. Winnie also makes appearances in wedding photos. She is usually seen looking out of a window. Jefferson Davis and his wife Varina have also been captured in photographs. People claim to feel as though they are being followed in the home. And a bust cries tears. 

Scott Rogers heads up MGCParanormal, a paranormal investigation group that conducted a ghost hunt at Beauvoir in 2014. He told the Tuscaloosa News, "One (staffer says) he sees Jeff Davis a couple of times a week standing in the main hall. Full-body apparitions are a rarity, but they’re normal there. There’s a file, I’m guessing 30 or 40 photographs that visitors have sent back to them. There are photographs of full-body apparitions that aren’t supposed to be there. They have captured Jeff Davis, his wife, Varina, his daughter, Winnie, and, they haven’t been captured, but it’s common occurrence for them to talk about a Confederate soldier walking the grounds at times whenever they don’t have people doing re-enactments." The group found the cemetery to be the most active place on the property. They also had an investigator get touched, a tablecloth moved and a rocking chair started rocking on its own.

Kitsaa Stevens works in museum development and programs at the museum and she told WGNO that the spirits "like to entertain our guests. One of our favorite stories is that we had a guest come in the gift shop and she told Miss Rosie that the rein-actor that we had portraying Jeff Davis was really rude. He told her to stay out of his wife’s garden. No matter what Rosie told her or anyone else, we did not have any actors on the property that day. Rosie told her that she should listen to Jefferson Davis." Stevens also shared a story about the way that Winnie Davis presents herself in hauntings, "My seniors were on the steps of the house and we heard Winnie’s piano play, inside the house. The curator was quite adamant at the time, to not touch the piano. 40 seniors turned around and said, we’re not even in the house." 

Walt Grayson worked as a weather anchor and eventually hosted a segment called "On The Road" with Mississippi TV channel WLBT. He joined in on a ghost hunt at Beauvoir. He was pretty skeptical, even when a Spirit Box seemed to respond to the investigators. One of them heard the name Mr. Albert come across, so he repeated the name and immediately got, "What?" And then a little later they got another name on the Spirit Box: "Walt." An investigator asked, "Did it say Walt?" Then the box continued, "Walt, Walt, Walt, Walt, Walt…" Needless to say, Walt Grayson wasn't as much of a skeptic after that and didn't like the feeling of being the hunted rather than the hunter.

Michael Kleen wrote an article about Beauvoir in 2017 and in it he revealed, "A building with a history like Beauvoir (as the Davis home is called) usually has a few ghost stories, so I wasn’t surprised to see an article called 'What’s that in the window at Beauvoir?' sitting on the main desk in the research library. Written by Charles L. Sullivan in 2004, it told the story of a photograph taken by Charlie Brock, a Confederate re-enactor, in 1984. The photograph was of his wife and two of her friends, dressed in period clothing, on the east side of Beauvoir. When the photo was developed, two figures mysteriously appeared in one of the windows. At the time the picture was taken, the house was closed to visitors, locked, and the security motion detectors were in place. Never-the-less, two humanoid forms stand in the window. One is noticeably taller than the other. The shorter of the two figures is also the easiest to see. 'She' appears to be wearing a white dress. Two of the three women walking on the lawn were wearing blue dresses, and one was wearing a dark red dress. The window was also at porch level, above the heads of the three women, making it unlikely (unless the window was angled downward) that this was a reflection." 

Jefferson Davis haunts a couple of other places as well. Fort Monroe is technically in Virginia, but all through the war it was securely in Union hands and in fact is still an active army base.  It was here that Davis was confined after his capture, kept in shackles twenty-four hours a day in Casemate No.2.  Oddly, Jefferson Davis’ ghost has not been reported there but on the citadel’s ramparts, called the Terraplain.  On a moonlit night one may see the gaunt figure wandering beneath the flagpole that sits atop the walls, pacing to and fro, wishing to be free.  His wife, Varina, also haunts the old fort, in an apartment provided for her on the fortresses grounds.  The windows in that apartment have been known to rattle all of their own, the spectre of Varina expressing her frustration at her husband’s incarceration no doubt.

And apparently, the Davis' had a child who died during the war and that child haunts the Davis’ previous residence in Richmond, sometimes called “The Confederate White House." Clearly, members of the Davis family are not at rest in the afterlife. Is Beauvoir House haunted? That is for you to decide!