Thursday, August 31, 2023

HGB Ep. 502 - USS Salem

Moment in Oddity - Magnetic Termites

Magnets can be a fun thing to play with when you are young. The opposite poles on small magnets pushing away from each other or grabbing different metals and comparing the strengths of the pull can be entertaining. Even sweeping a magnet through sand to see what particles may attach to the magnet can be interesting. But what if insects could detect the earth's magnetic poles? Let me introduce you to the Magnetic Termites of Australia. Now, these insects cannot be picked up and stuck onto your refrigerator like a traditional magnet, but what is special about them is that their mounds orientate so that the thinnest points always are formed North to South and they are only found in the northern territory of Australia. This method of architecture reduces the termite mound's exposure to direct heat from the sun, thus keeping the colony more consistently at their optimal temperatures. There have been scientific studies that revealed that the termites are able to use subtle changes in daylight as well as the earth's magnetic poles to determine their mounds architecture. Magnets can be fascinating but insects using the magnetic poles of the earth to benefit their survival certainly is odd.

This Month in History - Cy Young's Major League Debut

In the month of August, on the 6th in 1890, pitcher Cy Young made his major league debut. His birth name was Denton True Young but the nickname of Cy was established due to his fastball pitches which left the fences looking like a cyclone had hit them. This led the press to give him the moniker of Cy. In 1889 he began his professional baseball career in the minors with the Tri-State League in Canton Ohio. He was quickly brought up to the majors to sign with the Cleveland Spiders which had moved from the American Association to the National League just the year before. During his debut game Young pitched a three hit eight to one win over the Chicago Colts. At the time Cy was known for the power behind his hard throwing pitches and according to his long time catcher, Chief Zimmer, he would often times put a piece of beefsteak inside his catchers glove to give him some extra padding against Cy's fastball. That's one way to tenderize a steak. Young continued to excel and play for the major leagues until 1911. He passed away on November 4th, 1955 and during his baseball career established many pitching records. To this day the Cy Young award is bestowed annually in both the American and National League. 

USS Salem (Suggested by: Jared Rang)

The USS Salem was the flagship of the 6th Fleet and is nicknamed "The Sea Witch." She was first launched in 1947 as a Naval cruiser and was fortunate to never see any battle. But that didn't keep her from being linked to death with reports of onboard deaths ranging from 75 to 100. And that has left ghosts on this now floating museum in Quincy, Massachusetts that we had the opportunity to explore when we visited Salem in August of 2022. Join us for the history and hauntings of the USS Salem!

"Hey Jared, thanks so much for joining us" (Intro Jared)

Quincy is a suburb of Boston that was originally settled by the Massachusetts indigenous people. They had cleared many trees from the land that they called Passonagessit, which means "Little Neck of Land." This made it suitable for farming and Europeans settled in 1625, naming it Mount Wollaston for their leader. The next leader of the colony changed the name to Ma-re-Mount meaning "Hill by the Sea." Quincy became the new name and was incorporated in 1792. The name is in honor of Colonel John Quincy, the grandfather of Abigail Adams. Residents of Quincy actually pronounce it as KWIN-zee, which is why we are pronouncing it that way. The town became a shipbuilding center. Many famous warships were built at the Fore River Shipyard and one of these was the USS Salem.

We started our visit to Quincy, Massachusetts with breakfast at a place called McKays. When we left the restaurant, we noticed two very old historic homes right across the street. Imagine our excitement when we found out that they were once the homes where Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams were born. John Adams was born at the rear of the lot in 1735 and John Quincy Adams was born in the house that was on the corner in 1767. John Adams drafted the Massachusetts State Constitution at that house. That document would serve as a model for the United States Constitution. John Adams wasn't actually that in to politics. He once wrote, "I should have thought myself, the happiest man in the world, if I could have retired to my little hut and forty acres and lived on potatoes and seaweed." That little hut was actually a fairly nice sized two-story wooden house. 

Jared was a wealth of knowledge when it came to understanding the types and classes of warships. (Jared Ships) (Jared Ships 2) (Jared 2)

The USS Salem was ordered in June of 1943 and had its keel laid down on July 4, 1945 at the Fore River Shipyard by the Bethlehem Steel Company and measured over 716 feet when completed. The ship was named Salem in honor of Salem, Massachusetts and was the third ship to bear that name. (Jared Salem) The Salem was launched on March 25, 1947 and commissioned at the Boston Navy Yard on May 14, 1949. Captain John C. Daniel was in command from the beginning until February 1950. Her first trip was to Guantanamo Bay for training and shakedown exercises and the Salem would make so many trips to and from Guantanamo Bay that sailors started calling her the "Gitmo Express." Captain Edmund B. Taylor took over as commander in 1950 and guided the ship to the Mediterranean to begin her first tour as the Sixth Fleet flagship. The Salem stayed for a few months and was relieved by the Newport News in September 1950. (Jared Salem Guns)

The Salem would return to the Mediterranean for seven deployments as fleet flagship. This would take her to ports in Malta, Italy, France, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, and Algeria. The Salem spent a few weeks in Boston for repairs and then joined the Atlantic Fleet for maneuvers in January of 1951. She was christened the "Pride of the Fleet" and received the Fleet Battle Readiness Pennant after a competition within the Atlantic Fleet. In November 1951, the ship received her fourth commander, Captain William K. Romoser. By February of 1952, the Salem was back in the Mediterranean and taking part in Exercise Beehive II with military units from Britain, Italy, France and Greece. These exercises were to test Malta's air and coastal defense. It was back to Boston after this  and then back to the Mediterranean for her fourth deployment, which involved Exercise "Weldfest," another NATO exercise involving intensive air and sea action between more than 100,000 troops to test the effectiveness of the West's plans for the defense of Southeastern Europe and the Turkish straits at the time.

(Jared Deaths) Yeah so let's share some details about those incidents. On August 12, 1953, the Ionian earthquake hit the southern Ionian Islands of Greece, measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale. Several other earthquakes would also hit in the month of August, leaving nearly every home on the island of Kefalonia leveled. In the end, six hundred people were killed and most of the survivors moved elsewhere. The Salem was the first American ship to arrive on the scene and she became a floating hospital. The ship also provided relief supplies until her stock ran low just four days later. Death toll numbers for victims who died on the Salem range from 75 to 100, so basically the Salem was a floating morgue during that time. She was relieved by the Des Moines as flagship on October 9, 1953. She was supposed to return to her home port of Boston for repairs, but instead went to the Brooklyn Shipyard to get her radar upgraded. When she arrived, she was docked next to the pier and another ship was tied up to her. A fire broke out on the other ship, which was a lake cruiser. The fire was tamped down quickly, but some men had been injured and were moved to the hospital on board that other ship. As the fire crews were gathering up their gear, a five inch ammo magazine detonated. That explosion took much of the hospital with it, so the men injured in the fire and explosion were brought over to the Salem and seven of them died onboard. The Salem returned to Boston on October 24th for an overhaul.

The years 1954 and 1955 had the Salem traveling from Boston to Guantanamo Bay to the Mediterranean where there were more war games with the Atlantic Fleet. The cruiser left Boston on February 16, 1956 to conduct training exercises at Guantanamo Bay in preparation for a 20-month cruise as the "permanent" flagship of the Commander, 6th Fleet. After the exercises, Salem returned to Boston briefly and then headed over to the Mediterranean on May 1, 1956. The Suez Crisis broke out while she was on her way and the cruiser was diverted to Rhodes in the Eastern Mediterranean where she joined the fleet as flagship. The Suez Crisis was part of the Second Arab-Israeli War, which was an invasion of Egypt by Israel. The United Kingdom and France joined Israel in an attempt to regain control of the Suez Canal. And for people who don't know, the Suez Canal is a 120 mile long artificial waterway that facilitates trade between Europe and Asia. This connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea through the Isthmus of Suez. During that time, some of the men on another ship loaded one of the guns with ammo after it had already been loaded causing an explosion that killed one man instantly and injured five others, who were brought over to the Salem. They died on board the cruiser. The Salem has seen a lot of death for a ship that never saw any battles. 

The Salem had its moment in the Hollywood sun when it was used in the 1956 film "The Battle of the River Plate." She portrayed the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee and no effort was made to cover her distinctive hull number of 139 because in reality, the German navy often disguised their raider ships to look like neutral ships and at the time of this battle, the United States was still neutral. In the Spring of 1957, the USS Salem's turret #3 won the coveted Gold E for outstanding gun crew. The following year, the cruiser was sent to Norfolk to be scheduled for inactivation. The cruiser escaped that by being called up again to travel to Lebanon to help against a coup. But then she did head back to Norfolk where she was decommissioned on January 30, 1959. She was berthed in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet in Philadelphia. The Salem was surveyed in 1981 to see if she could be reactivated. She was found to be in excellent condition, but funding to reactivate Salem and her sister Des Moines was not secured from Congress. So she sat some more.

It would be in October of 1994, that the Salem would return to her birthplace, Quincy, Massachusetts. There she became the centerpiece of the United States Naval and Shipbuilding Museum. She was recommissioned 46 years to the day of her original commissioning, May 14, 1995, as a member of the Historic Naval Ships Association. She serves as a museum housing the USS Newport News Museum, The US Navy Cruiser Sailors Association Museum, and the US Navy SEALs Exhibit room. The Navy Squadron Patch for USS Salem is a tip of the hat to Salem and features a witch flying on a broom with a little black cat joining her. (Jared 3 - his favorite area) (Kelly to Jared)

*Rabbit Hole: The USS Salem is the Home of Kilroy. “Kilroy Was Here” was a logo that was popular during the forties, fifties and sixties. The scrawled message was first seen in Europe and the Pacific during WWII. The logo featured a face with a big long nose and two large round eyes looking over a wall with the big nose hanging over the wall. Hands gripping the top of the wall were also often drawn with the image. This image was usually seen in newly liberated areas. GIs enjoyed leaving the image in places it wouldn't be expected or hard to get into. Hitler actually became obsessed with finding this Super Spy GI Kilroy. And a story claims a toilet was built for Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin at the Potsdam Conference in 1945 and after Stalin used it he asked an aide who Kilroy was. The story behind Kilroy is this. James J. Kilroy of Halifax, Massachusetts was an inspector of the riveting gangs in the Fore River Shipyard during WWII and after he inspected and counted the amount of rivets done by various crews, he would write in yellow chalk on the steel, “Kilroy was Here.” Most of the time, this message wasn't able to be removed before the ships left Quincy, so that message traveled around the world and became a thing.*

The USS Salem is said to be in the top seven of haunted warships in the world. Travel Channel's Most Terrifying Places featured the Salem in October of 2019. (Jared 5) There are several areas that have quite a bit of activity with the Surgery Room being one of the most active. They hear the screaming of women and babies crying in here because several women gave birth on the ship after the earthquake. The berthing area where the sailors bunked is where children who came on board and died seem to have come in the afterlife. Greek nursery rhymes are heard down here. Some of the spirits reputedly here include a burning man who smells of death and hides in the berthing area beneath the third mess hall. This area was once used as a morgue. There is a young Greek girl missing part of her face who may be a seven-year-old spirit visitors call Lucy. Apparently her mother is here with her too and they dislike another spirit here named Robert. 

A former ghost tour operator named John still gives tours even though he is dead. And there are some entities referred to as The Scratchers who like to claw at the legs of visitors. And someone or groups of someones like to bang the freezer near the pantry. Some investigators have used Ouija boards in the Mess Hall and the boards have spun on their own. Once a group asked what the intentions of the spirits there were and the answer was "murder." A trickster ghost named Skip likes to pretend to be other spirits. Latches slam on their own and chairs have been pulled out and tossed across rooms. And this is really bizarre, people have heard the drill turning on in the dentist's office. Peter Blumberg runs the print shop on the cruiser, which yes, does actually still run, and he said that he saw a shadowy figure appear down a dark hallway. The figure seemed to stare at him for a while and then descended a stairway.

YouTuber Exploring with Josh visited the ship in 2022. The caretaker, Don Decristofaro, who is also a former Naval officer, told them that the week before they visited, another group of three ghost hunters saw a full-bodied apparition in the Volunteer's Lounge. Only they didn't know it was a spirit at the time until they asked Don about other people being on the cruiser. It smelled like cigarette smoke in there and a chair had been pulled out when Don ran in to see what was going on. The guys said the man was wearing a green jacket. Don has worked at the ship for over sixteen years and he told them that he doesn't feel comfortable going anywhere forward of his office. He says that area feels very dark. His hair used to be much longer and every time he would come on the ship, The Chief would yank his hair. The Chief was the man responsible for making sure things ran properly on the ship and respectfully and he likes to hang out in the Galley. There were four guys on Josh's team and while they were recording Don giving them a tour of the ship, they captured a dog bark. There is said to be a ghost dog on ship and she likes to hang out in the barber shop for some reason. 

The group heard disembodied footsteps and caught several EVP responses. They got confirmation that somebody did die during surgery while investigating the surgical room. They captured the creepiest EVP session we've ever heard and it scared Josh enough that he was tempted to stop recording. On a the previous recording they captured a Class A "We are" and then there was a third word that was unintelligible. So Josh did another session asking if they could repeat what they said after "we are." What they captured was angry screaming. He asked another question and there was the angry screaming again. Then an EVP said, "Get off." And then there was screaming again. So in that one quick session there were three of these non-human sounding screams. They decided to stop asking the Chief for his name because they were so unsettled by the screams. We would've been too. They did apologize for irritating him with constantly asking for a name. The Ovilus said dark, haze and Chief. And one of the guys saw a person standing in a doorway across a room from where they were standing. This door lead into the hospital and they had been getting a feeling they were supposed to go into the hospital. When they arrived the Ovilus said, "waiting." Like a spirit had been waiting for them. They got some really interesting evidence.

Kindred Spirits investigated the ship on their "Sea Witch" episode in Season 5 and Don joined them and spoke bluntly to The Chief to see if they could get some interaction, specifically get him to tell them his name. It seems that Don and him don't get along. Don had heard when he first got to the ship that there was an angry sailor spirit there that was abusive towards people. So Don decided to lay down the law and he shouted in the Main Mess Hall, "I hear you're a tough guy. I'm a sailor too and I'm a tougher guy than you ever were dead or alive or someplace in the middle and you should just bring it on." A sensitive with the group told Don, "Oh, he hates you." The spirit felt disrespected and all of a sudden, Don felt as though he were frozen and he was out of sorts because he doesn't remember anything after that until the sensitive shoved him. He saw that blood was running down his palms because he had been making such tight fists that his fingernails had cut into his palms. 

A paranormal investigator named Suzanne Viegas told Adam her group was sitting at a table getting ready to do an EVP session and there was a noise that even made Don turn ghost white. She had never heard anything like this noise before. Then she looked off down the space and saw a black shadow figure. She left right after that happened. Suzanne felt that the ship having a haunted house attraction there might have increased the activity and made it more negative. During the investigation, Adam and Amy asked Don to interact with The Chief and Don said, "You've been screwing around with me for 15 years, but these people are leaving tomorrow and they got no time so just cut it out and give them your damn name" and they caught a clear EVP saying, "F**k you, Don!" So far, no one has had luck in catching his name. Amy felt something grab her ankle while they did a remote viewing exercise with Chip Coffey. Chip heard in his head, "If you like the dead, you'll like it here." He also got the message that someone didn't want to be there and was angry. Amy and Adam brought a Greek translator on with them to talk to the children. The children didn't say that they felt unsafe. 

Ghost Hunters investigated the Salem in 2009 and they captured EVPs featuring banging noises and a female voice saying something indecernible. The guys found that the EMF on the ship was high and that it may be causing  hallucinations and extreme paranoia. Alaina and Ash from the Morbid podcast joined YouTubers Sam and Colby for an investigation of the Salem in November of 2022. Alaina had something blow what felt like cold air in her ear. Alaina and Ash seemed to get the bulk of attention from the spirits rather than Sam and Colby. They got a lot of words on the Ovilus. It seemed pretty active for them. 

The USS Salem was built to help renew the Naval fleet that had been diminished by World War II and she did just that for ten years. She was remarkable and well-suited for battles she would never see, and yet she is tinged with death. Are there spirits still wandering the various areas of the cruiser? Is the USS Salem haunted? That is for you to decide!

At the end of recording we asked Jared about the battles that interested him the most. (Jared End)

Thursday, August 24, 2023

HGB Ep. 501 - Hotel del Coronado

Moment in Oddity - Gold Coin Treasure

With such a large Lottery payout recently it can make one curious about the likelihood of suddenly hitting those winning numbers or coming across buried treasure. Earlier in 2023, a Kentucky man found an unexpected cache of gold coins buried in his corn field. The fortuitous, farmer found over 700 gold coins dating back to the Civil War era. The coins have since been certified as genuine $1, $10 and $20 dollar gold coins minted prior to and during the Civil War. The value of the individual coins vary from one dollar coins selling for $1,000 to gold Liberty double eagles minted in 1863 which can sell for between a few thousand dollars up to nearly $400,000 dollars at auction. Some of the found coins were in such excellent condition that it has been determined that they may have never been in circulation. Many of the coins were minted in 1862 and 1863 during which time Kentucky was the location of intense battles between the Union and Confederate armies with the state being politically divided. It is hypothesized that the gold coins were buried during this time to hide them from the invading army and that most likely the owner was killed since the coins were never recovered by their owner or perhaps they simply forgot where they buried the stash. Although the finder of the treasure has chosen to remain anonymous, the fact that he posted his discovery on the internet may not keep his identity a mystery for long. It is understandable how discovering such a historic and rare find such as these coins can be compared to winning the Lottery but undeniably, it certainly is odd.

This Month in History - The Lincoln Penny

In the month of August, on the 2nd, in 1909, the first pennies with Lincoln's profile were issued. If it were not for President Theodore Roosevelt, the Lincoln one cent piece may never have come to fruition. At the turn of the century, the deceased President Abraham Lincoln had already become a highly regarded icon. Although at the time, people thought it improper to have a real persons likeness on a circulating coin, Roosevelt had a different opinion. He had viewed sculptor Victor David Brenner's bronze plaque of Lincoln and was so impressed that the sitting President insisted that the artist create a coin of Lincoln's profile for circulating currency. The creation process was difficult for Brenner and the U.S. Mint Chief Engraver, Charles Barber. The Engraver did not favor working with outside artists and it took a while to come up with a design that satisfied both the artist and The Mint. Victor David Brenner wanted to create a beautiful coin, where as Charles Barber desired a design that would not wear out the coin dies too quickly. Once the final design was agreed upon and production began, the new to arrive coin was highly publicized creating much impatience with the general public. Due to the expected demand, The Mint held off release until it had struck more than 25 million pennies to place into circulation.

Hotel del Coronado

There's no other way to describe the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego other than magnificent. The structure is unique and easily recognizable with its Queen Anne Victorian architecture and white clapboard exterior topped with red turrets. Much has been added to it through the years to modernize it, but the original 1888 hotel still dominates the scene. A beautiful stranger came to stay in 1892 and she was found dead at the hotel. And now that hotel is famously haunted by her spirit. From the hotel, one can see the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, which also is apparently haunted. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of Hotel del Coronado.

San Diego was experiencing a land boom in the mid 1880s. Elisha Babcock, Jr. and Hampton L. Story traveled to Coronado Beach and they were so moved by the beauty there, that despite having no experience in the hotel business, they decided to build a hotel. Their goal was to make it the talk of the western world. The men formed the Coronado Beach Company and chose a site for the hotel. Then there was the matter of all the logistics connected to developing the hotel properly. There would need to be streets and parks and transportation. The Coronado Ferry Company developed ferryboat service between San Diego and Coronado The men then set out to build a town by holding a land auction and they sold 350 lots. Continued sales eventually reached $2.25 million. Coronado was incorporated in 1890.

Architect James Reid from New Brunswick, Canada laid out the basic design for the hotel in 1886. Babcock's instructions to Reid were as follows, "It would be built around a court... a garden of tropical trees, shrubs and flowers,... From the south end, the foyer should open to Glorietta Bay with verandas for rest and promenade. On the ocean corner, there should be a pavilion tower, and northward along the ocean, a colonnade, terraced in grass to the beach. The dining wing should project at an angle from the southeast corner of the court and be almost detached, to give full value to the view of the ocean, bay and city." 

Construction began in March 1887 and a planing mill was built on site to finish the raw lumber, kilns were installed for making bricks and a metal shop and iron works were constructed. California red wood was used for external siding and the lobby had Illinois white oak. Much of the labor came from Chinese immigrants and about 250 men were needed. The pinnacle of the hotel was the Crown Room, which was the main dining room, and it had an Oregon sugar pine ceiling that was installed without any nails. Only pegs and glue were used. The interior court of the hotel had a fountain and exotic fruit trees. There were music and billiard rooms, private parlors and expansive verandas. The Mother of Balboa Park, botanist Kate Sessions, designed the landscape for the hotel. This included a Japanese tea garden, tennis courts, bowling alleys and an Olympic-sized salt water pool. The hotel touted itself as a health resort.

The Hotel del Coronado officially opened in February 1888 with 399 rooms. It featured the latest in fire prevention with a freshwater pipeline running from San Diego Bay, two large concrete cisterns in the basement to catch rain water and gravity flow sprinklers. The world's first oil furnace was installed in the hotel. The electrical system was also a marvel. It ran electric wires along the gas lines, so that if the electricity didn't work, gas could be used. The Del, as everyone was calling it, was the first hotel to have electricity. And then right after the hotel opened, the land boom busted and the Coronado Beach Company found itself in need of money, which they borrowed. They then capitalized with three million dollars, but eventually ended up selling to John Diedrich Spreckles. The Spreckles family would retain ownership of the hotel through to 1948. 

The rich and famous all wanted to stay at the hotel and they did. The Prince of Wales, Edward, visited in April of 1920. The 1920s were a grand time for the Del. Charlie, Chaplin, Rudolph Valentino, Clark Gable, Mae West, Errol Flynn, Douglas Fairbanks, Bette Davis, Ginger Rogers, Katharine Hepburn and Joan Crawford all visited during that decade and the 1930s. The cisterns down in the basement were used for hiding alcohol during Prohibition. The SS Monte Carlo shipwrecked a quarter mile south of the hotel. This had been a gambling ship know for its "drinks, dice and dolls." A Naval Air Station was built on nearby North Island in 1917 and is considered the "Birthplace of Naval Aviation." During World War II, hotels were used by the government for housing and hospitals and the Del was one of them that housed pilots that were being trained at the Naval Air Station. The government didn't actually have to officially commandeer the hotel as it willingly housed families of officers as well. It did receive designation as a wartime casualty station and planted a large victory garden on all the spare grounds.

In 1948, a man named Barney Goodman purchased the hotel from the Spreckels. Under his tenure, the hotel began to fall into disrepair. The once gorgeous Del needed renovating and that would come in 1960 when local millionaire John Alessio bought the hotel. He invested $2 million on refurbishment and redecorating, which was supervised by Hollywood set designer Al Goodman. Goodman was born in Chicago in 1910 and he studied at the prestigious Chicago Art Institute. He moved with his wife to Hollywood during the Great Depression and he was hired as a set artist by Paramount Studios. Goodman spent twenty years working in Hollywood not only working on movies, but also television shows. He was a pioneer in special effects and set design. The redesign he did of the Hotel del Coronado's ballroom in 1961 was acclaimed and featured in San Diego Magazine. 

Alessio didn't hold onto the hotel for long. He sold it in 1963 to M. Larry Lawrence who initially planned to demolish the Del and redevelop the land. Thankfully he changed his mind and instead invested a whopping $150 million to refurbish and expand the hotel. He doubled its capacity to 700 rooms and added the Grande Hall Convention Center and two seven-story Ocean Towers. Larry died in 1996 and his family sold the hotel to the Travelers Group and they in turn made a $55 million upgrade to the hotel in 2001. Through all these changes, the original portion of the Del has kept its Victorian look, which inspired the design of Walt Disney World's Grand Floridian Resort. Cottages and villas were added to the property in 2005, which increased occupancy by 205 rooms. And then things got really complicated about the Del's ownership.

Many different transactions and changing of hands occurred with multiple companies holding shares of the hotel. The Blackstone Group LP, which seems to own everything nowadays, bought Strategic Hotels and Resorts in 2015 after it became the full owner of the Del. The hotel was said to be worth $590 million at the time. A year later, Blackstone tried to sell the property to China in a a multi-resort deal worth $6.5 billion, but the government said, wait a minute. The Del is too close to major Navy bases for the comfort of the government. So Blackstone still owns the hotel today, but it is managed by Hilton Hotels and Resorts. The Hotel del Coronado was inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 2018.

The ghost story connected to the Del is fairly well known and involves a woman named Kate Morgan who seemed to have committed suicide at the hotel. There is a lot of mystery to this story. She started out as Kate Farmer and was born in Iowa in 1864. We are unsure of the month, but by September of the following year, she was motherless. Her father cared for her for a short time, but then sent her off to her maternal grandfather. Her father remarried and started a new family, leaving Kate behind. So she has lost her mother and been abandoned by her father by the age of two. She grew up and married Thomas Edwin Morgan on December 30, 1885. She became pregnant right away and gave birth to a boy the following October. Tragically, the child only lived for two days. This is the point in our narrative were facts and fiction get blurred.

Many accounts claim that Tom Morgan was a no good gambler who took his wife on the road to swindle people out of money as they pretended to be brother and sister. In these accounts, Kate got pregnant again and decided that this card sharking life aboard trains was not suitable for a pregnant woman and she gets off the train without Tom who decided he was not ready to settle down. This took place in 1892. While it is a fact that the couple did split up in 1892, there are historical records that seem to indicate that Tom stayed in Iowa and lived out the rest of his life there. The fact that trains were heavily policed also makes it improbable that this couple could have done much card sharking.

The story continues that Kate arrived at the Hotel del Coronado, registered under the false name Lottie Bernard, attempted to abort her own baby and became very ill. She claimed that she was waiting for her brother who was a doctor to show up at the hotel and help her. Most people believe that she was going to rendezvous with a lover as she was estranged from her husband. Witnesses claimed that she had been arguing with a gentleman on a train who abandoned her mid-trip. This man never came and Kate was found dead at the bottom of some stairs leading to the ocean on November 29, 1892 from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot to the head. Although the coroner did say that the bullet didn't match the gun, it was ruled a suicide and the story of Kate Morgan was over. Until the 1980s, when a San Francisco lawyer named Alan May decided to look at the case. May wrote a book in which he claimed that the bullet in Kate's head was not a bullet that matched the gun she had. He surmised that her husband Tom had found her and in a rage killed her. It's believed that the coroner misspoke at the inquest and that the bullet did match the gun and that May's theory was preposterous.

But even more mysterious is that there is information that has come to light that leaves doubt that the dead woman was even Kate Morgan. The body it seems was never properly identified. Kate's family did not claim the body or identify it and the dead woman was said to be beautiful. A picture that was provided by Kate's employer revealed that Kate was quite plain and certainly not a woman who would be thought to be pretty. She also dressed plainly. The dead woman was found with an expensive shawl around her. Kate also did not have the kind of money to stay at the Hotel del Coronado. So who could this dead woman be?

There was an actual Charlotte Lottie Bernard from Detroit who lived during this time according to census reports. She disappears from census reports about the same time that a Lottie Bernard turns up dead at the Hotel del Coronado. Author John Cullen believes the stranger was Lizzie Wyllie. This was a young woman who got knocked up by a rich married man. He claims that Kate Morgan befriended Lizzie and that she pushed Lizzie into some kind of blackmail against her lover. Lizzie became distraught, took several types of medicines to cause herself to miscarry, became very ill and finally committed suicide by shooting herself. Kate then takes off with a man named John Longfield, who had also been a lover to Lizzie.

The story about the dead woman is quite confounded and more than likely will never be solved. The identification practices at the time were antiquated. After reviewing much of the evidence and reading the coroner's inquest, we can't honestly say with any certainty that the dead woman was Kate Morgan. There was no autopsy. Not all witnesses were interviewed. The investigation was shoddy at best. Was this just a suicide or could it have been murder? That is difficult to ascertain, but whatever the circumstances, it was not a good death.

What we do know is that many people claim that the Hotel del Coronado is haunted by a female ghost. The hotel goes with the claim that the ghost is Kate Morgan. For that reason, we will refer to the ghost as Kate. Renovations have caused the room number to change, but most accounts claim that Kate checked into either Room 302 or Room 3327. The room is said to be quite active. Lawyer Alan May himself stayed in that room and claimed he had a visitation from Kate. The lights turn on and off in the room all by themselves. Cold breezes are felt in the room. Curtains move even with the windows closed. And the room has an all over oppressive feeling. Kate has been seen all around the hotel though. She died on the exterior staircase leading to the beach. This location has featured sightings of her full bodied apparition. The hallways have also apparently been walked through on occasion by Kate. Corey Menotti was a Guest Service manager and he said that years ago he was watching the sunset when he felt something like drapery being swept across the back of his legs. Later, he found out that he was standing where Kate Morgan's body was found and it sent chills up his spine.

Christine Donovan was the director of heritage programs at the hotel and wrote "Beautiful Stranger: The Ghost of Kate Morgan and the Hotel Del Coronado." She was once emailed by a doctor who claimed that during his stay, his shoes and socks (which he always carefully placed by his bed at night) would end up all over the room by the time he woke up. Many people have claimed to have objects thrown about their rooms in the middle of the night making people think that Kate isn't the only ghost here. Room 3519, which was formerly Room 3502, had once been a maid's room and stories claim she had been the mistress to a hotel owner. She committed suicide in the room after finding out she was pregnant. Objects in this room move around on their own and there is other haunting activity.

The gift shop is nearly as active as Kate's former room. Items are removed from the shelves, but always found upright and unbroken on the floor. Sometimes those items literally fly off the shelves. An employee who works in the shop claims that she once saw a woman wearing a black dress with a high collar behind the counter one morning before opening. She hurried past because the figure scared her. Later, she asked the manager if another employee had been in this particular shop early that morning. The manager said she had been the first in to the shop, but that she had noticed that the books on the counter had been in a disarray as if someone had been leafing through them and she knew she had straightened them the night before.

The fifth floor has a haunted room that has been investigated several times by paranormal investigating groups. They have captured chairs moving, water faucets turning on by themselves and objects moving. The hotel started allowing people on the hotel's haunted tour to enter the room in 2022. Halloween is a special time at the hotel with bonfires on the beach, ghost stories read in the lobby, pumpkin carving and ghost tours. 

*Fun Fact: Hotel was featured in "Some Like It Hot."*

Across the bay from the hotel is Old Point Loma Lighthouse. It's not a very big lighthouse, but for 36 years, it kept watch at the entrance to San Diego Bay. The location for the lighthouse was chosen because it was 422 feet above sea level. California had only been an official state for 19 days when Congress appropriated funds to build lighthouses on the West Coast. The job of building the lighthouse on Point Loma was given to Gibbon and Kelley out of Washington, D.C. Construction began in 1851. Sandstone was carved from the hillside for the walls of the lighthouse and salvaged floor tiles from the ruins of an old Spanish fort were used as flooring. The roof was fashioned from rolled tin, the tower was made from brick and the housing for the the light was from iron and brass. 

This would be one of those lighthouses that was basically a house with a small tower in the middle for the light. The lantern and lens came from Paris in 1855 and was lit for the first time on November 15, 1855. A small wooden structure was built next to it for storage, but was converted to an assistant keeper's house in 1875. Today, that house serves as a museum and the lighthouse was refurbished by the National Park Service. The lighthouse is referred to as the Old Point Loma Lighthouse because a newer one was built at a location closer to the water at the tip of the Point at a lower elevation. This was necessary as it was found that fog and low clouds often obscured the light and keepers sometimes had to rely on shotgun blasts to warn ships. The keeper extinguished the lamp for the last time on March 23, 1891.

Some family memories were shared by David & Jeanne Israel who had a great grandfather that was a Lighthouse Keeper at Old Point Loma. Their grandfather grew up at the lighthouse. They wrote, "Life on the isolated Point was, at times, an adventure. My mother remembers as a child complaining to my grandfather about having to walk to school, and him telling her, 'How would you like to have to ROW A BOAT across the bay to school?' That’s how he and his two brothers got to school in Old Town San Diego from the Lighthouse." The Israel family lived there for 18 years and the great grandfather was the one to extinguish the light for the last time. In 1984, the light was re-lit again by the National Park Service for the first time in 93 years, in celebration of the site’s 130th birthday. Approximately 3,000 people and over 100 descendants of the Israels attended.

People who have visited the lighthouse claim that it is haunted. There are stories of loud disembodied footsteps coming from the second floor. The bedrooms feature low moaning that some describe as sounding demonic. One visitor was climbing the stairs up to the light when they heard that weird moaning and it got louder with each step. At the top of the stairs there was a bone-chillingly cold spot. Then a dark, shadowy figure appeared, flew past the visitor and disappeared down the stairs. No one knows for sure who the spirit might be, but most people think it is Robert Decatur Israel, the last keeper. The Point Loma Rosecrans National Cemetery is only a mile away from the lighthouse, so perhaps a spirit or two visits from there.

So who was the dead woman on the stairs at the Hotel del Coronado? Has she been misidentified and this is why she haunts the hotel? Does the spirit remain because of the tragic death? Is the Hotel del Coronado haunted? That is for you to decide! 

Thursday, August 17, 2023

HGB Ep. 500 - Mystic Mountains

Moment in Oddity - Skin Furniture (Suggested by: Chelsea Flowers)

When shopping for furniture many people choose a variety of fabrics for items like couches or lounge chairs. Leather is a popular choice as it is easy to clean and tends to be long lasting. In 2014 there was a furniture designer that took a very unusual spin to creating a new style of furniture. Her name is Gigi Barker and her creations set her apart from any other designer of her time. Her exploration into a unique project was titled, 'A Body of Skin' where she explored how consumers would react to furniture created with the smell and feel of human skin. Barker is a British designer and founder of design studio 9191 and during this pursuit she made furniture that smelled like and felt like human skin using pheramone impregnated silicone to create a collection of chairs and footstools. The pieces were modeled after the Rubenesque folds of a man's stomach. Her belief was that the pieces made out of the unusual material would help the furnitures owners create a unique bond with a physical connection to the pieces and to examine their own relation to their skin and the skin of other people. The furniture pieces were also said to match a humans body temperature which is "perfect for soothing a crying baby". Although it is unclear if these pieces are still able to be purchased these days, the original price for a chair and foot stool was over $4,000 back at the launch in 2014. Furniture styles and consumers tastes can run the gamut but pricey furniture that feels and smells like human skin, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - Betty Boop Makes Her Debut

In the month of August, on the 9th, in 1930, Betty Boop made her grand debut. That first cartoon was called Dizzy Dishes and she was just a side character. The cartoon begins with some singing cats and then moves on to a character named Chef Bimbo who is taking the order of a gorilla. He goes into the kitchen to make the food and as he brings it out, he sees Betty Boop performing on stage and falls immediately in love. He drops the food and heads to the stage where he dances with a duck. The gorilla is angry that he didn't get his food and chases the chef, who escapes on a train. It's hard to believe, but Betty Boop started out as a dog with floppy ears. Fleischer Studios, who created the character, soon reimagined her into a female human. Her initial costume was a flapper dress and she was drawn sexy. Threats of cancellation forced the studio to censor the character and tone down her curves and lengthen her dress. Fleischer Studios retired her in 1939 because they were tired of censoring the character. She had a resurgence in 1955 when Paramount sold some of its pre-1950s shorts that starred Betty. Today, she is still going strong and even has her own social media accounts.

Mystic Mountains

Vast areas of the oceans have never been explored, but there are also places on the earth that have been left untouched. Particularly the mountains. Some are so high, men can only dream of scaling them. Others are so thick with vegetation, it is impossible to penetrate deeply. Fathomless mysteries are hidden within them. Several of these mountains have legends connected to them, making them mystical. The irony of many of these mystical peaks is that although they rise high above the horizon, their roots go deep, many ushering an entrance to the underworld. Join us as we share some of the world's mystic mountains!

Mountains have always held a sacred place for indigenous people. Part of the reason why is that they seem to connect the heavens to the Earth. The term often used for this concept is axis mundi, which is a mythological concept that there is a connection between Heaven and Earth or higher and lower realms. This term is also used to refer to the axis of the Earth. Mountains can be anchors as well. The Navajo believe that their land was anchored by four sacred peaks put into place by The Holy People. The Navajo spiritual beliefs have two classes of beings: the Earth People and the Holy People. The Earth People are us humans while the Holy People were spiritual beings and they taught the Earth People. The four sacred mountains they installed were Mt. Hesperus to the north, San Francisco Peak to the west, Mt. Taylor to the south and Mt. Blanca to the east. Indigenous cultures look to the mountains as a source of water, fertility and healing. All dimensions intersect at these sacred mountains.


Haleakala National Park is in Maui, Hawaii and covers over 30,000 acres and is named for the volcano there. Haleakala means "House of the Sun" in Hawaiian and here is the legend that it is connected with. Maui is a demigod and in this myth his mother is a woman named Hina. Hina was working on a special cloth made from tree bark called kapa one day. This is a bark that needs to dry thoroughly in the sun. La was the sun god and he started making the days too short for the bark to dry. Hina complained to Maui and he went to do something about it. He laid in wait during the dark of night on top of Haleakala. When La appeared, Maui lassoed him with a strong rope woven from coconut fiber. He tied La to a tree and after a while La begged to be released. Maui said that he would release him if he would let there be more light during the day. A deal was struck and the islands had more light. This made Haleakala a sacred place of the gods and now people travel to the top of the volcano to watch the sun rise.  

Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji is located in Japan and considered a central religious site. Many in Japan have worshipped Fuji-San as a god and made pilgrimages to it, specifically from the Shintoist and Buddhist traditions. They start at Sengenjinja shrines at the foot of the mountain and climb to the summit where the Shinto deity Asama no Okami lives. The mountain is a gathering place for the spirits of deceased ancestors as well.

Windjana Gorge

Windjana Gorge is sacred to the Bunuba Aboriginal People of Australia. The gorge is located in Kimberley and had once been an ancient coral reef. This was a spiritual place for the Bunuba who believe powerful Wandjina creation spirits live here. Dreamtime stories claim that the Wandjina created not only the earth, but also the humans and animals. They would usher out punishment in the form of lightning, floods and cyclones. For years, the indigenous people have painted images of these spirits on the rocks or repainted the pictures. In their culture, the Wandjina would pick the spot where they would die and paint their image on a cave wall. They would then dive into a waterhole and be gone.


Schiehallion rises as a cone-shaped mountain in the Scottish highlands. The Scottish Gaelic name is Sith Chailleann, which means "fairy hill of Caledonia." This peak is said to be the one most mystical mountains in Scotland. As we've covered in a previous episode, faeries are not all like those presented in fairytales or Disney movies. Some of these supernatural beings have a dislike for humans and Schiehallion is one of the places where they drag intruders to the underworld. A blue hag named Cailleach Bheur lives here and she is the personification of winter in Irish and Scottish legends. She freezes the landscape and kills unsuspecting travelers. She is reborn on Samhain every year and stays until Beltane. When Beltane arrives, she turns into a gray standing stone or sometimes a beautiful maiden. Flowers are brought by young girls to a fairy well on the mountain  on May Day. Another legend has to do with the caves of the mountain. There are a series that go straight through the mountain, but it is said that hikers are easily lost in them because once they go a little ways into the cave, they find a door and once they go through it, it closes and keeps then from returning the way they came. Some of these caves are said to have been sacred to the Templars and they hid there. One of the caves has been nicknamed Tom a Mhorair or Giant's Cave and this has an entrance that is four yards wide. As a person travels through the passageway, it begins to narrow and it gets darker and darker and this is because it is a portal into the underworld.

Mount Kailash

Kailash, meaning crystal, is a mountain found in Tibet that has never been climbed and has been deemed "utterly unclimable." The north face is a wall that rises 6,000 feet high. The southern slopes are more gentle, but no one has braved this side although many teams have been invited to do so. And perhaps that is because this is not only a mountain that is held sacred in four ancient religions, but this is said to be the home of Shiva. In the Hindu religion, Shiva is called the Destroyer. Kinda sends a shiver down one's spine when one hears that a statue of Shiva sits outside of CERN in Switzerland and this is where the Large Haldron Collider is located. Ravana is a multi-headed demon that attempted to uproot Mount Kailash to get revenge on Shiva. It didn't work as Shiva pressed his right big toe onto the mountain and trapped Ravana there. The summit of the mountain is thought to be a gateway to Heaven. A Tibetan religion that predates Buddhism is called Bön and in this belief, the mountain is the seat of all spiritual power. Devotees to these religions will make the 32 mile trek around the mountain, many while prostrating themselves at every step. Four of the longest rivers in Asia are fed from Kailash.

Mount Prisank

Mount Prisank is located in Slovenia and is also known as Prisojnik. This is one of those mountains that bears a resemblance to a human. The countenance of the "Heathen Maiden" appears on this formation. A local legend claims that a giantess prophesied that a boy would be born that would grow up and kill a golden-horned chamois. He would then become rich. She told this to a bunch of pagan women and for some reason they were really mad about it and decided to punish her, so they turned her into stone.


The Untersberg Mountain is the northernmost peak of the Berchtesgaden Alps between Germany and Austria. You can picture this mountain in your mind if you think about the opening of "The Sound of Music." Julie Andrews sings "The Hills Are Alive" as she dances across the top of the Untersberg. There is a legend that the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa is asleep inside this mountain and that some day he will be resurrected. The Emperor has a beard that has continued to grow as he sleeps and it is said to have grown around a round table two times. When that growth extends to three times around the table, the world will end. The story continues that when the Emperor leaves the mountain, the last battle of mankind will be fought on a pasture near Wals, west of Salzburg. Another version of the legend claims that rather than Emperor Frederick, Charlemagne is the one waiting inside the mountain and that he is being taken care of by the Untersberger Mandln, small dwarf-like creatures. He wakes up every 100 years and if he sees ravens flying - which he always does - he goes back to sleep for another 100 years. There is a cave system below the mountain as well. And perhaps it is from here that all the strange beasts reportedly seen here come from. Many have felt a dark presence here.

Chief Mountain

Chief Mountain is located on the eastern border of Glacier National Park and the Blackfoot Indian Reservation in the state of Montana. This uniquely shaped mountain is rather steep, angular and reef-like. The Blackfoot call the mountain Ninaistako and it is sacred to them, serving as home to a primordial deity they call Ksiistsikomm. This translates to "Thunder." For the Blackfeet, deities could exist simultaneously in both the visible and invisible world, so they are not completely spirits. They are something in between or something that can be both physical and spiritual. Chief Mountain is considered a liminal space, which is a space between two realms. The word 'liminal" comes from the word "limen," which means, "threshold or doorway." Sounds kinda like a stargate or portal to us.

Mount Graham

Mount Graham is the highest peak in the Pinaleno Mountain range in Arizona. This has been a sacred mountain for the Apache who not only used it for its natural resources, but this was a holy place of prayer and home to the mountain spirits they called gaan. The Apache land was in New Mexico and Arizona and in 1870, the US government gave the tribe a small portion as a reservation. The Apache remained tied to Mount Graham, but it was no longer part of their territory. The gaan are said to still live in the caves of the mountain and when called upon they bring healing. There were special ceremonies for rites of passage and celebration and the Apache would wear masks and dance. The masks symbolized the masks that the gaan were believed to wear and after ceremonies were done, the Apache would offer the masks to sacred sites inside the mountain. Mount Graham is associated with thunder, lightning, rain and the springs there are an important source of power for the Apaches. That power is so strong at times that only medicine men are able to harness it.

The Mount Graham International Observatory was built in 1989 and is used by several organizations. These include the research arm of the Department of Astronomy of the University of Arizona and the Arizona Radio Observatory. But the one we find the most fascinating is the Vatican Observatory. Why would the Vatican even have a large telescope and why did they pick Mount Graham for its location? And even more intriguing is why they named their telescope Lucifer. Okay, so technically the name started out as Large Binocular Telescope Near-infrared Spectroscopic Utility with Camera and Integral Field Unit for Extragalactic Research, but if one takes most of the first letters, you get Lucifer. This telescope wasn't owned by the Vatican, it just is part of the same observatory. But the Vatican got enough inquiries about it that the name was changed to LUCI in 2012. Is that Luci in the sky? This also isn't exactly a telescope. It's a near-infrared instrument that attaches to a telescope. But we still wonder why the Vatican chose Mount Graham for its telescope. Could it be that the indigenous people thought that Mount Graham was a star gate as well? A star gate can take people to other dimensions.

Mount Shasta

Some people think that Mount Shasta is the most paranormal place on the entire earth and they just may be right. Everything from UFOs, strange disappearances, weird creatures, ghosts, underground bases and the list goes on. The mountain stands nearly alone as the second-highest peak at the southern end of the Cascade Range in Northern California. This is the fifth highest peak in the state. Indigenous people consider it sacred with some believing that this is the center of the world and others thinking this was the birth place of all life. All native tales warn about going above the treeline. This is the domain of the Sky People. One of these spirits is Skell who came down onto the summit of Mount Shasta. Skell had come from the Above-World to fight with the Llao, the Spirit of Below-World. Skell used hot rocks and lava. The tribes also believed that there were races of giants who lived in the mountain. The Native Americans claimed that these giants prospered for many years, but were wiped out in a great flood. The Modoc called their version of giants Matah-Kagmi and they were the keeper of the woods. This term could be translated to be Bigfoot. Giants being here aren't just legends though. Giant skeletons were found and reported in the newspaper.

Some people claim that residents of the lost continent of Lemuria sought refuge in Mount Shasta. Lemuria was a mythical continent in the same vein as Atlantis. As a matter of fact, legends claim that the two were in opposition to each other. Atlantis wanted to control the world and Lemuria just wanted to be left alone. The two fought, possibly destroying each other's continents and they had to move to new locations. Mount Shasta is where the Lemurians were said to have fled to and their hidden city there was called Telos. This was known as the "City of Light." Seven-foot-tall creatures with long flowing hair that have reportedly been seen here are thought to be Lemurian offspring. Many cults have based some of their own beliefs and teachings on the myths about this hidden city. Some stories claim that it isn't Lemurians who live here, but rather Lizard People or reptilian humanoids.

The story of a civilization being in the mountain was backed up by a British prospector named J.C. Brown who was searching for gold there for the Lord Cowdray Mining Company of England. He claimed to have found a lost underground city in 1904. What happened is that he found the entrance to a cave after removing some rubble and he hiked the length of the tunnel, which was eleven miles long. He found abandoned machinery that could have been used for mining, statues of gold and weapons. There was a tomb with 27 giant skeletons, ranging in height from seven feet to over ten feet tall. The story claims that Brown covered over the entrance and told no one what he had found. Then thirty years later, he told a man named John C. Root about the discovery and Root gathered together a team of 80 people to go explore Mount Shasta. On the day they were set to head out, Brown was supposed to come and lead the team, but he never showed up and was never heard from again. 

Mount Shasta is ranked number 13 out of the 300 hotspots in the world to have UFO activity. And the UFO activity has been picking up in more recent years. Sightings range from light formations moving together over the peak to chrome objects to a giant glowing jellyfish hovering over the mountain. That last one was reported in 2008 by a number of people who lived in the area. It made no noise and looked like a fire was raging inside of it. And a passenger on a plane in 2021 captured a video of a white object that changed shapes several times over the mountain. Many times it is reported that these UFOs fly into the side of the mountain and just disappear. 

New Age Believers think that Mount Shasta is a power center and in Hindu, this volcano is the root chakra with Mount Kailash being the crown chakra. There are people who claim that the mountain contains an energy vortex and that this allows UFOs or people to travel to another dimension. There have been a number of strange disappearances reported in the area. In 2011, a young couple was hiking with their little boy when they looked away for a moment and he had disappeared. A massive search was put together by Butte County and it went on for five hours before the boy was found unharmed. Later, the boy told his grandmother that he liked her better than the other grandmother who had found him in the woods. This other grandmother had taken him to a cave in the woods. Then she asked him to defecate on a piece of paper. He was then lead out to the place where he was found. Such a strange story, but one that seems typical for Mount Shasta.

Mount Hermon

Mount Hermon straddles the border of Syria and Lebanon and rises to 9,232 feet. The top is nearly snowpeaked year-round and the runoff of this snow flows down through the rocks at the base of Mount Hermon and at one time created the headwaters to the River Jordan. The river flows down into the Sea of Galilee and then on to the Dead Sea. The Jordan helped to keep things fertile that were near it and while trees can be rare in Palestine, the Jordan Valley has many trees. This is an important river as it has always been the main water source for Israel. It would later take on significance as this became the place where Jesus was baptized. Mount Hermon has three distinct summits. There is no vegetation above the snow line of Mount Hermon and there is almost a complete absence of soil. Wolves, bears and leopards live here.  Below the snowline is very fertile with pines, oaks, poplars and vineyards. Mount Hermon has been considered sacred for all of recorded history and is a part of several religious legends. 

It is mentioned in the Epic of Gilgamesh and Ugaritic texts and has many temples built upon it by Pagan religions. The god El was the supreme deity of the Canaanite religion and it was at the top of Mount Hermon that it was said he made his domain. He had his 70 sons there with him. The mountain is a key location in the Bible and in apocryphal texts, specifically the Book of Enoch. This is where a group of fallen angels known as the Watchers made their descent, not only from the heavenly realm, but a descent into sin that would land them in chains in Tartarus. Enoch 6 relates this story as the passage reads, "1. And it came to pass when the children of men had multiplied that in those days were born unto them beautiful and comely daughters. 2. And the angels, the children of the heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: 'Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men and beget us children.' 3. And Semjâzâ, who was their leader, said unto them: 'I fear ye will not indeed agree to do this deed, and I alone shall have to pay the penalty of a great sin.' 4. And they all answered him and said: 'Let us all swear an oath, and all bind ourselves by mutual imprecations not to abandon this plan but to do this thing.' 5. Then sware they all together and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it. 6. And they were in all two hundred; who descended ⌈in the days⌉ of Jared on the summit of Mount Hermon, and they called it Mount Hermon, because they had sworn and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it. 7. And these are the names of their leaders: Sêmîazâz, their leader, Arâkîba, Râmêêl, Kôkabîêl, Tâmîêl, Râmîêl, Dânêl, Êzêqêêl, Barâqîjâl, Asâêl, Armârôs, Batârêl, Anânêl, Zaqîêl, Samsâpêêl, Satarêl, Tûrêl, Jômjâêl, Sariêl. 8. These are their chiefs of tens."

The group did indeed do what they set out to do and their offspring are known as the Nephilim. The first mention in the Bible of Mount Hermon comes when Israel is battling King Og of Bashan, whose kingdom included the mountain and this was not surprising considering that Og was the last of the Rephaim. He was a Nephilim. Deuteronomy 3:8-10 reads, "8 So we took the land at that time out of the hand of the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, from the Valley of the Arnon to Mount Hermon 9 (the Sidonians call Hermon Sirion, while the Amorites call it Senir), 10 all the cities of the tableland and all Gilead and all Bashan, as far as Salecah and Edrei, cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan." So Mount Hermon made up the northern boundary of the Amorite kingdom. The Amorites were a Nephilim clan.
Diane has an old book titled "The Bible as History" written by Werner Keller and published in 1956. This is a great book describing the archaeological discoveries of the time and how they affirm the Biblical stories. She found this great passage about Mount Hermon on page 75, "Some days later W.F. Lynch stood on the slopes of snowcapped Hermon. Among remains of broken columns and gateways lies the little village of Baniya. Local Arabs led him through a thick clump of oleanders to a cave half-choked with rubble on the steep limestone flank of Hermon. Out of its darkness gushed a stream of pure water. This is one of the sources of the Jordan. The Arabs call the Jordan Sheri at el Kebire, the 'Great River.' This was the site of Panium where Herod built a temple to Pan in honor of Augustus. Shell-shaped niches are hewn out of the rock beside the Jordan cave. 'Priest of Pan' is still clearly legible in Greek characters. In the time of Jesus the Greek pastoral god was worshipped at the source of the Jordan. There the goat-footed Pan raised his flute to his tune." It grabs our attention when we hear terms like "ridge of limestone," "limestone cave" and in the passage “steep limestone flank.” We tried to find the geology of the other mountain peaks in the area like Mount Sinai and Mount Nebo and Hermon seems to be the only one full of limestone. And perhaps that is what made it special to the fallen ones because it had a supernatural power supply within it.

The god Pan is connected with the headwaters of the Jordan River and the area at the base of Mount Hermon, from where the head waters used to run until geology caused them to move, is known as the Grotto of Pan. Pan is a very interesting god. He at first seems to be some kind of weird wood nymph that is half-man/half-goat that runs around playing a pan flute and just looking for a good time with a phallis that expresses that...uh...interest. But he is far darker than that and seems to be what Satanic images have been modeled after. Satan is usually depicted as half-man/half beast with cloven hooves, a tail and horns. Pretty much the image of Pan. In Greek mythology, Pan was the offspring of Hermes and a wood nymph or Apollo and Penelope. And there are also other stories like Penelope sleeping with 108 suitors when Odysseus was away and she gave birth to Pan. There is no clear geneology. It is believed that he pre-dated the Olympians. One of the myths told about him is how he came to play his pan flute.

*Rabbit Hole: Pan desired a wood nymph named Syrinx who was the daughter of Ladon, the river-god. She wanted nothing to do with Pan, so she ran away from him. He pursued her and was gaining when she came upon her sisters and begged them to hide her. They changed her into a reed that was among many reeds. Pan eventually got to where the reeds were located, but he couldn't tell which one was Syrinx. He took some of the reeds and cut them down and placed them together to form a pan flute. He was never without it after that and felt that his beloved Syrinx was with him. The word panic comes from pan as does pandemic and Peter Pan’s name is a tip to him. Pan is the only god that has reputedly died as reflected in the declaration, “Great Pan is dead!” Banias is the Arabic pronunciation of the pagan cult city known as Panias as named for Pan. The Romans called this Caesarea Philippi. The limestone cave here was considered a gate to the underworld. Fertility gods were said to spend the winter inside the cave. Orgies were held at the cave to entice Pan to return, particularly in the Spring.*

The Canaanite god El, was believed to have set his temple up on Mount Hermon and he lived there with his seventy sons. El is also the god Kronos who was the leader of the Titans that would later be overthrown by the Olympians. El is also Anu, the ancestor of the Annunaki whom the TV show “Ancient Aliens” loves to talk about. And also Enlil of the Mesopotamians and Kumarbi of the Hittites and Hurrians. If you are having trouble keeping all these gods straight, don’t worry, you aren’t alone. The key to keep in mind is that we are talking about many different cultures, but very possibly the same god and how he or she was interpreted by a given culture. There are scholars who connect the god Dagan with El. Dagan was not only a fish-like god, but referred to as “lord of the dead.” This is interesting considering that the Canaanites considered this the entrance to the underworld. Literally speaking, Mount Hermon is believed to be the entrance to Hell. The punishment for the Watchers was to be thrown into Tartarus, which was below Hades and Hell. So this wouldn’t have been a long trip for them.

The only temples that still stand on Mount Hermon are of Roman design. There are around thirty of them. George F. Taylor provided a pictorial guide to the temples in the 1960s and he maintained that they were built by the hand of a single master builder. An interesting concept. Of most interest to me though is why these shrines would have been built up on a mountain that spends much of its time covered in snow. They were worshipping something here. Qasr Antar was said to have been the highest temple of the ancient world and it sits near the summit of Mount Hermon. Sir Charles Warren visited it in 1869 and took a limestone slab from the site that reads, "According to the command of the greatest and Holy God, those who take an oath proceed from here." The man who translated this, George Nuckelsburg, connected this inscription with the oath taken by the Watchers that bound them together in their rebellion. So the god referred to here is thought to be Ba'al. 

Clearly many gods were worshipped here at Mount Hermon.  And according to Christian tradition, this spot was important as well. Some scholars believe that this is the Mount of Transfiguration. The Transfiguration is described in Matthew 17:1-8, "And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 And Peter said to Jesus, 'Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.' 5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” 8 And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only." 

We hear lots of myths about the entrance to Hell or the underworld, but if there is such a place that we can access from here, Mount Hermon gets our vote for a couple of reasons. One is the saying "crossing over Jordan." You've all heard people say that a deceased person has crossed over the Jordan. That's the Jordan River being referenced. The Jordan River had flowed from Mount Hermon until geology shifted it a bit. Why would people choose the River Jordan unless it had some kind of connection to dying and passing across the Veil? Here is Matthew 16:13-20, "13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say that the Son of Man is?' 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' 15 He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' 16 Simon Peter replied, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' 17 And Jesus answered him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.'" 

Now many Catholics claim that Peter was the rock Jesus was referencing. They say the church is built on him and this gives him primacy over all the other disciples and that is why the Pope is above all. There is actually a huge boulder or rock at the entrance to the Grotto and we kinda think Jesus was being literal and pointed at the rock and saying that the gates of hell that were right there would not prevail. Imagine standing outside of Hell and lobbing a big ole statement like that! So that's another reason why we think this could be an entrance to the underworld. Why else would Jesus go out of his way to come to this specific spot?

Each of these mountains is unique, but all of them are considered sacred and mystical. Clearly, mountains have been considered to be abodes for the gods since the beginning of human history. And many are thought to be portals. Those beliefs cross all different types of cultures, religious beliefs and parts of the world. And when that happens, it is safe to assume there is some truth to the myths. Are these mystic mountains paranormal in nature? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, August 10, 2023

HGB Ep. 499 - Peabody-Whitehead Mansion

Moment in Oddity - Oscar the Cat (Suggested by: Chelsea Flowers)

Many Nursing homes and hospitals employ the service of therapy animals. They can vary by species but most commonly dogs and cats are the animals that supply the need. There was a cat at a nursing home in Providence, RI by the name of Oscar who became quite famous. This fine fluffy feline was said to be rather skittish when he first came to call the nursing and rehabilitation center home, back in 2005. Initially, Oscar wasn't terribly social and preferred spending his time in a supply closet or under various patients' beds. Gradually however, the staff starting noticing a change with Oscar. When a patient was nearing the end of their life, Oscar would crawl up in bed with them and stay there comforting the person as their end drew near. At first when his behavior was noticed the connection wasn't clear but gradually his predictability proved itself once Oscar hit between 20 or 30 deaths in a row. Some people at the home called Oscar an Angel of death while others just simply referred to him as an angel. Now, the way in which Oscar was able to 'predict' who would be passing next is not concretely determined. It could be that prior to passing that the body emits a particular smell that Oscar was able to clue in to. It's also possible that the cat could see the spirits of those coming to check on their friend or loved one. Sadly, in February 2022, the sweet floof went the way of his charges. However we are positive that the staff at the nursing and rehabilitation center miss him daily. Therapy animals do so much good helping those who are struggling in one way or another, but being able to predict a person's passing, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - The Discovery of Penicillin

In the month of August, on the 6th, in 1881, Alexander Fleming was born. He is most well known for discovering a broadly effective antibiotic. As a young man Alexander was encouraged by his physician brother to study medicine as his career path. Alexander did just that, graduating from university in 1906 with distinction. From there Fleming joined the research department at his alma mater where he became a research assistant bacteriologist. He worked under Sir Almroth Wright who was a pioneer in the area of vaccine therapy and immunology. During his medical service in WWI, Alexander witnessed many soldiers dying of sepsis caused by infected wounds. He watched as the common antiseptics of the time often made the soldiers injuries worse. In an article he had published in a medical journal he explained that the topical antiseptics were not able to reach the deeper penetrating anaerobic bacteria which were causing the demise of so many soldiers. After the war, Fleming continued his research into bacteria and antibacterial substances. Many presentations and studies of Alexander's findings were relatively ignored. However, on September 28, 1928, he revolutionized the world of medicine. He had been studying staphylococci and discovered a fungus growing on some of the plates. The staphylococci that was nearest the fungus were destroyed whereas the staph that was further away on the petri dishes were intact. The mold that had destroyed the staphylococci was Penicillium. Alexander continued to study the molds affect on Gram-positive bacterias that caused illnesses like pneumonia, meningitis and diphtheria as well as the affects on gonorrhea which is a Gram-negative bacteria. Fleming shared his discovery with the Medical Research Club on February 13th, 1929. The presentation received little response. However, in 1940, two biochemists in Oxford began studying penicillin further. Through their studies and clinical trial successes, they began the development of methods for mass production and mass distribution in 1945. The discovery of penicillin and its development marked the beginning of modern antibiotics.  

Peabody-Whitehead Mansion

Denver was considered the Queen City of the Plains during the Victorian era and by 1867, it was designated the territorial capital. Colorado would gain statehood in 1876 and a capitol would be built on Capitol Hill starting in 1886. Capitol Hill would become a thriving neighborhood, particularly for the wealthy, and it would be here that Denver's Millionaire's Row would be established. The Peabody-Whitehead Mansion is one of the homes that has survived from that opulent era. There are many ghost stories that have been told about this property through the years. Join us as we share the history and hauntings of the Peabody-Whitehead Mansion!

The Colorado Silver Boom began in 1879 and lasted longer than the Colorado Gold Rush of 1859. The Silver Boom brought unprecedented growth to Denver. The wealthy families in the area started looking for a place to build their homes that would take them out of the pollution of lower downtown. That higher ground was Capitol Hill and in this neighborhood was Grant Street, which was once home to the city's Millionaire's Row. Very few of the mansions built during that time still exist as many were demolished in the early 20th century. And as is the case with so many of these historic mansions, many were turned into apartments and office buildings. And that is the case with the Peabody-Whitehead Mansion. It eventually became home to a variety of businesses. But it started off as the home for Dr. William R. Whitehead. 

William Whitehead was born in 1831 in Suffolk, Virginia. He decided to pursue medicine and went to school at both the University of Virginia and the University of Pennsylvania. He went to Europe for post-graduate work in Paris and Vienna and it was while he was in Vienna that he volunteered during the Crimean War to be a surgeon for the Russian Army. The Crimean War was fought from October 1853 to February 1856 between Russia and a coalition formed by Britain, France, the Ottoman Empire and Sardinia-Piedmont. At its base, the war was religious with a disagreement between Christians in Palestine, Catholics in France and the Russian Orthodox Church. This was one of the first wars to incorporate technological advances like photographs, telegraphs, the railroad and explosive shells. It was during this war that Florence Nightengale came on the scene. The war humiliated Russia with defeat in one of the bloodiest wars of modern history. Medical treatment would change during this time and Whitehead was decorated by Tsar Alexander II for his services. Emperor Louis Napoleon also praised him.

When Dr. Whitehead got back to the states, the country was in a turmoil that would erupt into the Civil War. Whitehead was on the side of the Confederacy and he served directly under General Robert E. Lee. He was the doctor to treat Stonewall Jackson's accidental injury at the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863. He put the General in an ambulance, but unfortunately, Jackson would succumb to his injuries. Whitehead went to New York after the war and worked as a clinical surgeon at New York University. Both his wife and infant son became ill and the Whitehead family moved to Denver for the cleaner air in the early 1870s. The doctor became a leading physician in Denver.

Whitehead hired architect Frank Edbrooke to design his Queen Anne style home on Millionaire's Row in 1889. Edbrooke had also designed the Tabor Opera House and the Brown Palace Hotel. The mansion was unique in that it was built from Colorado Red Rock and had massive masonry walls and chimneys with the steeply pitched roof of an English country house and a large front porch. Dr. Whitehead asked for Edbrooke to include a grandiose ballroom because he liked to throw lavish parties. He would become ill and die on October 13, 1902. The other man that the house was named for didn't actually live in it for very long. This was Republican businessmen James H. Peabody who ran for Governor of Colorado in 1902 and he won. There was no Governor's mansion at that time, so Peabody rented the Whitehead mansion from 1903 to 1904. Peabody's tenure as Governor was tumultuous. He had been born in Vermont in 1852 and he went to business school there. His family relocated to Pueblo, Colorado and he followed when he graduated to help run the family business. Peabody moved to Canon City in 1875 and he established himself as very successful in business, banking and local politics.

One of the major issues during his Governorship were mining strikes and there were many violent clashes. Peabody took the side of the mine owners and he called the National Guard in to squash the strikes. More than 100 people died. Most of the unions were destroyed by the fall of 1904. The next election for Governor would be fraught with issues. The Democrat beat Peabody, but fraud was found so thousands of votes were annulled. The Democrats found irregular votes for Peabody as well. So an unusual compromise was worked out. The Democrat Alva Adams was given the governorship and Peabody was allowed to pick the next two justices to the Colorado Supreme Court. Further investigations proved that both parties had basically cheated, so the legislature declared Adams' governorship a fraud and he was taken out of office and replaced by Peabody who was forced to immediately resign and Republican Lieutenant Governor Jesse McDonald was sworn in as governor. So on that 16th day of March in 1904, Colorado had three governors. Peabody moved out of the mansion and it became apartments. 

By the 1950s, the mansion was being used as a place for businesses ranging from restaurants to bars and nightclubs. Strings of them came through and only lasted a few years each: The Carriage Inn, The Bombay Club, Senor Peabody's, Albies, Bentley's and so on. This lasted until the 1990s when the house was bought by Richard R. Arber Associates which was an engineering firm that renovated the mansion as their offices. In 1993, the mansion was listed as a Denver landmark by Ordinance 534 of the Denver city council. Through the 2000s, other businesses have used the house. Diane stood outside this location on a ghost tour in 2016 and at that time it was home to a law office.

There are claims of at least a dozen ghosts in the mansion. Ghostly experiences started almost immediately after Dr. Whitehead moved into the house. People thought that some of the soldiers who were his battlefield patients that passed had spirits that followed him. Other ghosts may be from Peabody's time in the house in the form of dead union miners seeking revenge. One business in the mansion had been MEGA 1031 and they reported many haunted events during their tenure. They reported on their website, "Inexplicably, books have mysteriously fallen from shelves in empty rooms and paperwork has strangely re-arranged itself. We’ve even heard an occasional faint baby’s cry, however; none of us have actually spotted any cloudy spirits lurking in our offices."

This was not the only business to have issues. The various restaurants all reported that trays would mysteriously tip over with dishes and glasses crashing to the floor. Guests and staff would all watch as utensils and pots and pans would fly around the kitchen and dining areas. The servant bells that had been installed when the home was built would go off on their own at random times. They also heard baby cries coming from behind the second-story bar. One of the more bizarre stories involved a chandelier that would flicker all the time. One of the managers finally decided to call in an electrician to fix the issue. Both men were completely shocked when the electrician found that the chandelier wasn't hooked up to any electrical wiring! A ghost was blamed for a bottle of beer that was poured down the shirt of a cook who had disparaged homosexuals. One bar that occupied the location decided to embrace the hauntings and called itself Spirits on Grant Street opened on Halloween in 1983. That business was forced to close within the year because the activity became too much.

Seances were conducted in the house in the late 1970s. Psychics who have visited the location report that a woman named Eloise would greet partygoers at the top of the staircase back during the Whitehead era. She was supposed to get married in the mansion, but was stood up, so she ended up hanging herself in the house. There is no proof for this in any newspaper reports. Eloise was blamed when one evening staff were mocking the fact that she haunted the house and a table leapt up from the floor about eight inches. Supposedly another woman hanged herself in the basement from a pipe. She had been working as a waitress at one of the restaurants. The first floor women's bathroom is said to be haunted by a man whose cherry pipe tobacco is smelled in there. A legend claims that construction workers abducted a girl in the 1970s and took her into the house where they raped and murdered her and buried her in the basement. Again, there is no proof for this in any official records, but investigations have turned up interesting things that might support the story. 

Ghost Adventures visited the house during Season 7 in 2012 and their tour guide and historian at the house was Phil Goodstein. He has written many books about the ghosts around Denver and he claims this is one of the most haunted places in Denver. The guys also talked to Dr. Tom Noel, whom my mother worked with for years helping him research his books. He didn't know of any stories about the woman being raped or killed at the house. A documentary producer named Tim Schultz edited a documentary that he was working on at the house. He told Zak about his experiences. Tim witnessed a guy get pushed up against the wall by something he couldn't see. He described it like his arms were pinned up and they tried to push him and move him and they couldn't move him. This same guy's mother was in the house at the time and she was a psychic. She was overcome by a spirit and had to be helped from the house. She described it like she had been drained. 

A woman named Nicole was on a tour and the guide was leading them through the alley and her fingers started to tingle. When the group got to the front of the house, she had a panic attack. She joined the guys for part of their investigation and they started with an EVP session in the basement. They all claimed to feel a very heavy and dark energy that was making them dizzy. They captured the following words on the Spirit Box: "Pete", "yourself", "no", "watch it", "she was raped", "it was_", "it is violent here", When asked if there was a body buried here the box said, "street." Some people think the murdered girl was buried in the alley rather than the basement. The words "found it", "he's scared" also came through. And UFC Fighter Brendan Schaub had been a guest investigator with them and the box said, "Brendan!" Brendan later claimed to feel something grab his ankle. A ball of light was captured on camera flying straight down into Zak's head and on the infrared camera they captured an anomaly. The Denver police were called to do some investigating at the house to see if they could find any evidence of a crime.

The basement really seems to be the most haunted area of the house and most definitely has the most negative energy occurring. Many people claim that there are demons down there, but it really could just be negative energy either from real crimes that happened or just the stories told about such things. Diane's mom's good friend, historian Kevin Pharris, took Diane on a ghost tour in Denver several years ago and he told the group a story about an experience he had at the house while giving a tour around Halloween one year. He shares the same story in his book "The Haunted Heart of Denver" on p. 27.

The house isn't as grand as some of the other historic mansions of Capitol Hill, but it certainly does have a big reputation when it comes to ghost stories. Is the Peabody-Whitehead Mansion haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, August 3, 2023

HGB Ep. 498 - Memphis' Victorian Village

Moment in Oddity - The Original Mechanical Doll (Suggested by: Breanne Sanford)

Once upon a time, in a year not so long ago, there was a life-sized doll that caught the attention of many, to the extent that a woman wanted to purchase the doll for her granddaughter. The doll was born in Como, Colorado in 1890. Her name was Lady Blythe Vashtie Marvin and she started performing at the ripe old age of seven. She was discovered by Mary Elitch as Blythe was pretending to be a mechanical doll. Due to her performances she became known as "Lady Blythe The Original Mechanical Doll". She performed at the 1915 world's fair in San Francisco as well as performing as the headliner in the Orpheum Circuit. One of the most commonly shared stories of her career was when she was working in the window of Bullock's Department Store in Los Angeles. It took place just before Christmas and as Lady Blythe played her part of the mechanical doll in the window of the store, Santa would wind her up and then the doll would break down and the performance would repeat with Santa ultimately picking her up and carrying her away. Lady Blythe noticed an older woman coming to watch her 'performances' for a full week. She became concerned the woman would tell the children who would gather that she was not an actual doll. Lady Blythe need not be worried because, in fact, the older woman was so taken with the mechanical dolls performances that she wanted to purchase Lady Blythe from the store manager for $1,000! Lady Blythe the Original Mechanical Doll performed around the world and had quite a storied career, giving her last performance at the age of 70. But one thing beyond question, a woman making a living by portraying a mechanical doll, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - Birth of Raoul Wallenberg

In the month of August, on the 4th in 1912, Raoul Wallenberg was born in Stockholm, Sweden. He was born into two prominent Swedish families, his maternal grandfather being a celebrated neurologist and paternal grandfather an Ambassador to the Swedish embassy in Japan. Sadly, Raoul's father, a naval officer, passed away from cancer just three months before his son was born. Wallenberg's paternal grandfather Gustav, had a great influence on Raoul's life including his education. This led the young man to study architecture at the University of Michigan. He loved his time in America and he found it difficult to leave once his college years were completed. Eventually Wallenberg moved to Palestine where he worked as an apprentice to a Jewish banker from Holland. This proved to be a turning point of sorts for Raoul as he met once well off middle class Jewish people who were now reduced to ragged clothed beggars by the Nuremberg laws of the German Reich. After the sudden passing of his grandfather, Gustav in 1937, Raoul floundered for a few years but never forgot about the Jews suffering in Nazi Germany. In 1944, Wallenberg had made connections with Iver Olsen, a representative of the American Refugee Board. Raoul enthusiastically agreed to go to Hungary to assist the Swedish embassy in Budapest. His progress over the next six months were inventive, valiant and daring. His admirable goal was to save what was left of the Hungarian Jewish population. Wallenberg created a Swedish passport and stated that it entitled those that held one, amnesty from the deportation to the Jewish death camps. He supplied as many as he could without any particular requirements of the receiver. It is estimated that this sole act saved 20,000 Jewish lives. He then went on to create safe houses and was able to home 35,000 people in buildings fabricated for less than 5,000. Wallenberg's humanitarian efforts were relentless and he had an incredible way of encouraging and rallying others to stay positive and vigilant. He continued his valiant efforts until January, 1945. Raoul Wallenberg had requested a meeting with the highest Soviet authorities after explaining to Russian soldiers he encountered, his goal of rescuing Jews. He was escorted to his home to gather some belongings where he told his friends that he would be back in a week. His friends and family never saw him again. Over the years there have been varying stories as to the fate of Raoul Wallenberg. The latest sighting noted was in 1987 in a prison camp, 150 miles from Moscow. On October 26th, 2016, the Swedish government officially declared Raoul Wallenberg deceased with the death date listed as July 31st, 1952.

Memphis' Victorian Village

Memphis' Adams Avenue is where the rich built their homes during the Victorian era. Today, it is referred to as the Victorian Village, but in its heyday, this was Millionaire's Row. These gorgeous homes not only represent the opulent lifestyle of the rich Victorian times, they hold history and ghosts. Memphis has an amazingly rich history and culture that is both positive and dark and that is the case with the spirits here too. Some are benevolent, while others are hostile. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of Memphis' Victorian Village!

The city of Memphis has seen some amazing history. Indigenous people referred to as the Mississippian culture were the first to settle here and they were followed eventually by the Chickasaw Indian tribe who arrived in the 17th century. Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto was the first European to arrive in the area, followed by French explorers led by René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle. The land was purchased from the Chickasaw Nation in 1818 and Memphis was founded by a group of investors that included James Winchester, John Overton and Andrew Jackson. The city was officially incorporated in 1826 and named for the ancient capital of Egypt on the Nile River. The town was initially platted around four town squares, three of which still exist today. Those squares would host slave auctions as Memphis became a major slave market. The city would also be a major exporter of cotton. Memphis is considered the "Home of the Blues and the Birthplace of Rock 'n' Roll" with many notable musicians growing up around Memphis like Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, Isaac Hayes, Andrew Hayes, Young Dolph, and Elvis Presley. And really, Memphis has also been saturated with the music culture of gospel, jazz, R&B, rap and soul. Fun fact: Close to 20 percent of the earliest inductees (24 of the 97) in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame have come from within a 100-mile radius of Memphis. This was also the place where Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. would die on April 4, 1968 at the Lorraine Motel. Today, Memphis is home to St. Jude Children's Hospital, Graceland, Sun Studios and Beale Street. And historic Adams Avenue is home to many wonderful Victorian era mansions.

We covered Cleveland's Millionaire's Row in Ep. 352. Many major cities in America had a Millionaire's Row during the Victorian Era. Memphis was no different with Adams Avenue being the home of its Millionaire's Row. And while the opulent homes were beautiful, there was a dark side to this road too. Wade Hampton Sides wrote a 2010 book about the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. named "Hellhounds on His Trail" and he describes Adams Avenue in this way, "A block from the park was the place on Adams Avenue where Nathan Bedford Forrest once operated a giant slave market, said to be the South's largest, that boasted 'the best selected assortment of field hands, house servants, and mechanics … with fresh supplies of likely Young Negroes.'" The neighborhood was on the outskirts of Memphis. Over a dozen three and four-story homes were built along this lane between 1845 and 1890. As the city expanded, the area around the Victorian Village declined with more lower income homes being built. As the exclusiveness vanished, so too did the wealthy families who had lived here. Some of the abandoned mansions were demolished, but several still stand today. And a few of them are reportedly haunted.

Woodruff-Fontaine House

The Woodruff-Fontaine House at 680 Adams Avenue could definitely be in the running as a home for the Addams Family. The Second Empire French Victorian mansion was built in 1871 by prominent businessman Amos Woodruff. Woodruff was born in 1820 in New Jersey. He and his brother moved to Memphis in 1845. They owned a carriage-making business and after awhile, Amos' brother decided to go back to new Jersey. Woodruff continued on his own and became very successful. He eventually opened a hotel, was a bank president and got involved with the railroad, a cotton compress firm and a lumber company.  In 1870, Woodruff purchased land along Adams Avenue for $12,000 and he built his 5-story mansion, designed by architectural firm Jones and Baldwin headed by Edward C. Jones and Matthias H. Baldwin. Jones had designed the first skyscraper in Memphis. The house featured a mansard roof, a central tower with tower lookouts on the fourth and fifth floors and elevated basement. There were eighteen large rooms and three great halls with the layout being the standard Southern pattern of a broad center hall with rooms on each side opening into the halls. The floors featured high ceilings and the interior had decorative molding and framing with rope motifs and scroll carvings. The stairwell ceiling at the top of the third floor was hand-hammered tin with wreaths, garlands, and winged cherubs designs. Amos moved into the house with his wife Phoebe and their four children - Sallie, Mollie, Frank and Cora - and they lived there until 1883. 

Woodruff sold the house to Noland Fontaine in 1883. Fontaine came from Louisville, Kentucky to Memphis when he was in his twenties. He married Virginia Eanes in 1864 and they had ten children: Mollie, Williamson, Emma, Virginia, Noland, Edward, Martha, Seward and Elliott. Fontaine made his money in cotton and he opened Hill-Fontaine & Company. The Fontaines loved to throw lavish parties, one of which had John Philip Sousa's band performing. Even President Grover Cleveland came to a party. The Fontaine's daughter Mollie got married in 1886 and the reception was thrown in the house's ballroom. Noland told the couple he was going to build them a house across the street and it took four years. We'll talk about that house in a bit. The Fontaine family lived in the house until 1926. Both Noland and his wife Virginia died in the house. The Woodruff-Fontaine House was then sold to a woman named Rosa Lee who also owned the house next door. Both houses were turned into the James Lee Art Academy and we'll talk about that later. When the art school moved out, the house was willed to the city but stood vacant and vandalized and was going to be demolished. In 1962, the Memphis Chapter of the Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities acquired the house and restored it by adding modern plumbing, wiring, heating and air conditioning. Wainscoting and plaster were repaired as was a fresco painting on the ceiling of the west ballroom. The mansion opened in 1964 for tours, weddings and events. And there are stories of ghosts.

Fun Fact: With the Second Empire French style, symmetry and balance are key so in the back of the foyer there are two doors across from each other. One door is an actual door that leads to another area while the other door opens onto a brick wall.

Mollie Woodruff lived at the house with her husband Egbert Woolridge. The couple lost a young child shortly after childbirth and then Egbert got a staph infection and pneumonia and passed away. Both of these events took place in what is called the Rose Room at the mansion. This had been Mollie's bedroom. She eventually remarried in 1883 and moved to her new husband's home. Mollie lost another child there and she would have no children after that. She eventually moved in with her sister who had a home on Poplar and died there in 1917. Mollie Woodruff is thought to be one of the spirits at the mansion. Staff and visitors have seen a smoke formed apparition of Mollie. Staff say that she shows up whenever they start moving furniture or updating things in the house. Mollie can get pretty angry about changes and likes to slam doors and break things.  Her favorite spots seems to be the bed in the Rose Room and she is seen sitting on it.

The great granddaughter of Mollie's sister Sarah, Elizabeth Edwards, claimed that she was in the house when Mollie slammed a door. She also had friends who heard disembodied footsteps and an audible voice call out, "My dear." Laura Cunningham wrote in her book "Haunted Memphis" that "On one occasion, while Mrs. Edwards was conducting a tour, a woman walked into Mollie's old bedroom and grew quite pale and started to tremble. She told Mrs. Edwards that she was a psychic medium who could give messages from the dead. She informed Mrs. Edwards that Mollie's room was arranged incorrectly and that the bed was near the wrong wall. The large half-tester bed stands against the south wall, but the medium felt it belonged on the east wall, closest to the central staircase."

Susan Morgan was the events coordinator for the house back in 2009 when she told the blog I Love Memphis that she had personal experiences with the various ghosts. One time she had a string of pearls ripped from her neck. She has also had her hair stand up and she's had to smooth out the bedclothes in Mollie's bedroom in the morning after having everything straightened the night before. Art students from the school also claimed to experience hearing disembodied sighs and whispers coming from Mollie's old room. This room also is sometimes filled with a musty odor and can get very cold. A visitor once entered the room and immediately started having trouble breathing. She turned to the guide and asked who died in the room. A young boy on a tour turned to his teacher and asked where the lady had gone that had just been sitting in a chair. People who see the full-bodied apparition of Mollie say that she is wearing a period dress that is green.

It's not just Mollie here. People claim to hear the sound of a baby crying and then a woman whispering to the baby. Contractors have felt as though someone was following them around and chandeliers have swung on their own. The paranormal activity heightens from February to May, which is the time between when the baby passed and Egbert died. On the day before the anniversary of Egbert's death one year, some staff heard crying coming from upstairs. They went upstairs to investigate and the crying stopped. When they went back downstairs, the crying started again.  A male spirit likes to hang out on the third floor and cigar smoke is detected up there. No one has ever seen him, but they feel him and he has a more hostile feel to him than Mollie. Especially towards women. Female visitors and staff feel threatened on the third floor. One former female director was even pushed down the stairs. It is thought that this isn't Egbert, but rather Elliot Fontaine who died during the Spanish Flu of 1918 when he was only thirty-four. It is believed that he was gay and a snooty socialite. Perhaps that is why men feel perfectly comfortable on the third floor, but women do not. A tour guide claims to have seen a man that resembled Elliot sitting at the base of the fourth floor tower steps.

Mollie Fontaine-Taylor House

This is today known as the Mollie Fontaine Lounge and it sits across from the Woodruff-Fontaine House at 679 Adams Avenue. Noland Fontaine built this for his daughter Mollie as a wedding gift. And yes, there had been two Mollies at the Woodruff-Fontaine House, which can be confusing. This mansion was built in 1886 in the Queen Anne Victorian style. This is a smaller house than those around it. but it is spectacular with its gingerbread ornamentation. Mollie lived here with her husband William W. Taylor until his death in 1925 and then she continued on alone until she passed in 1939. For the next few decades, the house changed hands and was divided into apartments. The Memphis Housing Authority bought the property in 1965 for an urban renewal project. Elaborate parties became a staple at the house starting in the 1970s. The owner during that time was quite the ladies man apparently and rumors claim that the home was a set for a Penthouse photoshoot, possibly the first one. 

Karen and Bob Carrier would buy the house as a private residence in 1985 and Karen ran her catering company, Another Roadside Attraction, out of the house. The Carriers eventually renovated the carriage house and used it for the catering company. Karen owned several restaurants in Memphis and she decided to turn the house into another one called Cielo in 1996. In 2007, the house was renovated once again and reopened as the Mollie Fontaine Lounge. The lounge describes itself as "Funky, Extraordinary, Eclectic, Soulful, Artsy, Avant-garde atmosphere; like your crazy aunts place, with a fondness for Alice-in Wonderland incongruities. Mollie Fontaine Lounge is open from 5pm 'Til the spirits go to sleep'." They have hosted DJ nights and burlesque shows throughout the years. 

This other Mollie haunts here former home. So basically you have the two Mollie ghosts haunting places across the street from each other. Patrons and staff claim that Mollie likes to take things and she even has flipped a cake or two. One hot summer day, she was blamed for turning the power off. The manager lifted the glass he was drinking from and proclaimed, "Cheers to Mollie!" and the power came back on. Now this has become a tradition at the lounge.

Magevney House 

This house is certainly nothing fancy compared to the Victorians on this street. The Magevney House is a simple white clapboard home located at 198 Adams Avenue. The original build that was constructed in 1833 consisted of just one room with a hallway. The house is named for Eugene Magevney who was born in Ireland in 1798 and he studied to become a priest. He first came to America in 1828 and spent five years in Pennsylvania. Eugene eventually moved to Memphis in 1833 where he worked as a teacher and became a civic leader. He boarded at the house until he bought it in 1837. At that time, he added a front parlor and an upper floor to the home. The parlor came in handy as Magevney was Catholic and he would hold the first Catholic Mass in Memphis in the parlor of his home. This was in 1839. Another Catholic first for the city would be Eugene's marriage to Mary Smythe, who was a former student of his in Ireland. The couple would have two daughters, Mary and Kate, with Mary's baptism being the first Catholic one in the city and this also took place in the parlor of the Magevney House.

In the 1850s, Eugene added two rooms to the back of the house. Much of the payment that Eugene received for his lessons came in the form of land and soon he had amassed a considerable fortune. But he would continue to live in his little clapboard cottage. He ran unsuccessfully foir mayor after retiring from teaching and then died in 1873 during the city's yellow fever epidemic. His wife Mary stayed in the house until her death in 1889 and Kate inherited the house and lived in it until 1925. Her sister Mary had left for Galveston, Texas where she established the Sacred Heart Convent in 1882. Kate married twice. Her first husband, John Dawson, died in the house in 1872. Her second husband, Hugh Hamilton, died in 1887. Kate took over her father's real estate business and by the time she died in 1930, it was worth $3.5 million. There was no will and a big court battle ensued with Kate's adopted daughter Blanche Karsch receiving the bulk of the estate. She gave the house to the city in 1941.

The City of Memphis restored the house and transformed it into a museum that featured what life was like for a family in the 1850s. During the restoration, a half-inch of paint needed to be burned off the walls and then a reproduction of Victorian wallpaper that was similar to the type used in the 1850s was added to the walls. Probably the most painstaking work took place on the roof. The family had installed a front porch and tin roof that went over the original cypress shingle roof. An exact replica was made of each shingle made from cypress. There are a few pieces of furniture original to the family, including Mary Smythe's horse-hair trunk she came over from Ireland with and Eugene's desk. Strangely, a hand carved crucifix was found lodged within a wall and it is now on display downstairs. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. The museum is now under the direction of Pink Palace Museums and is open on the first Saturday of every month in the afternoons.

If you visit, you might experience some ghosts. Some employees have felt so uncomfortable in the house that they are reluctant to go inside and usually hang out in the garden unless conducting a tour. Visitors have sometimes felt the same way, not staying long enough for the tour to finish. One woman reportedly left in tears claiming something bad was in the house. A group of schoolchildren were visiting the house and they watched as a locked door to Eugene's desk opened on its own. Two child ghosts have been seen and heard in the house and it is believed that this is Mary and Kate when they were young. People claim to see them peering out of the windows at night. Child footprints have been found in the garden when volunteers arrive in the morning. A young girl once told her mother that she saw a man standing in the alley between the house and the church next door, but her mother didn't see anyone. The sound of a ball bouncing down the stairs has been heard multiple times and no ball is ever found, much less someone who was playing with it. And here's what is really interesting about that. The stairs to get to the upper floor were on the exterior when the city acquired the house. They built the interior stairs, so they aren't original to the house and weren't here when the family lived there.

Mallory-Neely House 

This breathtaking home at 652 Adams Avenue is considered to be one of the best preserved Victorian homes in the United States. New York banker Isaac B. Kirtland built a two-and-a-half-story house on a three-acre lot along Adams Avenue in 1852. This was designed in the Italianate villa-style. Kirtland sold the house and one acre of the land to cotton merchant Benjamin Babb for $40,000 in 1864. Babb had arrived in Memphis twenty years before that and by 1881, he and his brother-in-law had founded Benjamin Babb & Company. James Columbus Neely would be the next owner and he moved in with his family in 1883. He also worked in cotton as a broker and had a wholesale grocery. The Neelys would make major renovations to the house over the next ten years, adding a full third floor and the four-story tower in the front. This brought the house up to twenty-five rooms and nearly every room boasted a fireplace. The interior featured elaborate stenciling on the ceilings, parquet flooring and ornamental plasterwork. The family also added two stained-glass windows purchased at the 1892 Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

The house passed on to the Neely's youngest daughter Daisy in 1900. She had married cotton broker Barton Lee Mallory. He had established W.B. Mallory & Sons with his father. The couple had three children: William, Barton Lee and Frances. The home was big enough to share with Daisy's sister Pearl and her husband Daniel Grant and their kids. Barton died in 1938, but Daisy stayed on in the house until her death in 1969 at age 98 and she made it known that she wanted the house to become a historic museum. The mansion wouldn't be donated until 1972 and at that time it was turned over to the Daughters, Sons and Children of the American Revolution. They turned the home into a museum and eventually turned it over to the City of Memphis in 1985. In 1987, it became part of the Pink Palace Museums. It was closed from 2005 until 2012 due to a need for expensive renovations. Today, it has a new slate and copper roof and is open for tours on Fridays and Saturdays.

Whatever is haunting this house is friendly and welcoming. The first person to feel a presence in the house was living in a suite of rooms that had been turned into an apartment on the second floor. She experienced weird stuff, but wasn't spooked by any of it. An investigator was taking pictures in the house and captured an image with hundreds of sparkles appearing throughout the room. At the same time, the group that was in the room all felt the hair on their arms stand on end. There was a feeling of electrical energy and it lasted for quite a while. A visible orb was once seen on the ceiling of the second-floor hallway and was described as being indigo-colored. No source could be found for what was causing it as no sunlight reached the area. 

People have seen a woman crying in a third-story window. The third floor actually seems to have the most haunting activity. A cleaning crew once saw a woman with white, untamed hair staring down at them from the third-story stairwell. Neither would ever be in the house alone after that. Laura Cunningham writes in her 2009 book "Haunted Memphis" that the Mallory family had their own ghost story too. She writes, "One Halloween night, guests were arriving at the house for a party. Through the open front door, one person spotted a disembodied hand creeping down the banister of the grand, central staircase."

James Lee House

It's no wonder that the James Lee House is an internationally acclaimed boutique bed and breakfast. The house is absolutely gorgeous and stands at 690 Adams Avenue. The house was built in three stages. The original part of the house was built in 1848 and consisted of a small, two-story brick house. William Harsson was the owner and he was a lumber baron. He sold the house to his son-in-law, Charles W. Goyer, in 1852. Goyer had married Harsson's daughter Laura in 1849. He came to Memphis via a flatboat in 1841 when he was still a teenager, but he hit the ground running and became a prosperous merchant. After buying the house, he added a second addition to the south side of the home. In 1871, he added on to the front of the house, which included a three-story tower that totally makes this house! The additions to the house were necessary as Charles and Laura had 10 children. Laura died of Yellow Fever in the late 1860s and Goyer married her sister Charlotte.

Lee Line Steamers was founded in Memphis by James Lee. His son, Captain James Lee, Jr., was a Princeton graduate and he had moved to Memphis in 1860 to work as a lawyer. He had formerly lived in another house on Adams Avenue. He retired from law in 1877 and joined his father at Lee Line Steamers. When he died, the house passed to his daughter Rosa who was the last family member to live in the house. She donated it to the city to serve as the James Lee Arts Academy that eventually became the Memphis College of Arts. The art school moved to Overton Park in 1959. The Memphis Chapter of the APTA acquired the house in 1961, saving it from demolition, but nothing was done to restore it. The mansion sat vacant for decades and then in 2013, Jose and Jennifer Velazquez and J.W. and Kathy Buckman bought the James Lee House in partnership and they spent a year restoring the property. The website has tons of pictures featuring the work that was done. The house reopened as the bed and breakfast it is today in 2014 and features five suites.

The Lee Suite was formed from three rooms and features a collection of antique books. The Harsson Suite was also formed from three rooms and has a rustic, farmhouse feel with two exposed-brick chimneys that have cast-iron mantels. The Goyer Suite has a clawfoot tub that is original to the house. The Crosley Suite is the only one on the first floor and also is formed from three rooms and is decorated art deco style. And finally, the Isabel Suite has an exposed brick chimney and features a door to the bathroom left over from the art school days that has doodles all over it. Along with decadent treats and a relaxing atmosphere, the B&B also has a spirit. Laura Goyer seems to have never left the house. Art students as well as visitors have reported for decades that they have seen a woman in red. Finally, another colored dress! Investigators and psychics all feel as though this woman in red is very agitated. Several students claimed to see a woman in a flowing red dress come floating down the front staircase and when she got to the bottom, she disappeared. A former caretaker once said that he saw a rocking chair rock by itself. On another occasion, he saw a woman in red standing in the corner of the apartment he lived in at the back of the house. This was in the oldest section of the house. Many people who enter claim to feel an angry energy, but based on the success of the B&B, we aren't so sure that is true. But maybe it is true because maybe Laura is mad that her husband married her sister.

These glorious homes make up a special section of Memphis, full of memories and possibly ghosts. Standing here, one can imagine glancing in the windows and spying couples in their finest, swaying to the sound of jazz music. Or maybe it isn't imagination. Maybe there are spirits here still going about their business in the afterlife. Is Memphis' Victorian Village haunted? That is for you to decide!