Thursday, January 25, 2024

HGB Ep. 522 - General Morgan Inn and Old Greene County Jail

Moment in Oddity - Death Crowns

On this episode, we are featuring a couple of locations in Appalachia and while researching the area we came across a creepy bit of folklore. There are these things called angel crowns or death crowns. These things are usually discovered by family members of a loved one who has recently passed away in their bed. A death crown is created inside of a feather pillow. It's usually noticed when a bereaved family member clutches the pillow and hugs it to themselves. They'll feel a weird clump or lump of feathers. When they open the pillow, they find a crown of feathers tightly wound together. All the quills of the feathers point to the center of the crown. Appalachian folklore claims that these death crowns are signs that a deceased loved one has made it to heaven. The death crown symbolizes that a person has been absolved of their sins. So if you had a family member that perhaps was a little on the bad side, this would bring you comfort. Finding a death crown is a great omen, but only if it's found in this way. If, for example, you find a death crown in your pillow, it means you are not meant to have a long life. Or it could also be an evil omen that a witch has cast a curse on someone. The best way to deal with that is to cast the crown into the fire. Appalachian tradition holds that family members are to put the death crown on display and most are stored in shadow boxes. Many families will share pictures with the local paper as well. Many times, these are passed down through the family. This is an interesting tradition and bit of folklore, but it also certainly is odd!

This Month in History - The Canning of Beer

In the month of January, on the 24th in 1935, canned beer made its debut to the American public. The Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company made 2,000 cans of their Finest Beer and Cream Ale available to the public in Richmond, Virginia. The consumers gave an approval rating of ninety-one percent, motivating the Brewery to continue their production. Cans had already been widely used for food items starting in the late 19th century. In 1909, the American Can Company experimented with canning beer but they were unsuccessful. Two years of research went into the development of a can that could contain the pressurized liquid with a special coating to keep the beer from chemically reacting with the tin. The major beer companies were not keen on marketing their brews in cans initially. However, after Krueger took the leap of faith, their sales soared with eighty percent of distributors carrying their product. The market blew up in three short months and following Krueger's success, the 'big three', Anheuser-Busch, Pabst and Schlitz jumped into the game. By the completion of 1935, over 200 million cans of beer had been manufactured and sold.

General Morgan Inn and Old Greene County Jail (Suggested by: Ivy Johnson)

Greeneville is part of what is referred to as the Tri-Cities in Tennessee. This is a region that comprises the bigger cities of Kingsport, Johnson City and Bristol and smaller towns in Northeast Tennessee. This is part of Appalachia, a place known for its legends and spirits. Two locations here add to that reputation: The General Morgan Inn and the Old Greene County Jail. Join us as we share the history and hauntings of these two Tri-City locations!

Greeneville, Tennessee was home to the 17th president of the United States, Andrew Johnson. This is a smaller town at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains and is the county seat for Greene County. Both the county and the town are spelled with an E at the end in honor of General Nathanael Greene. He was one of the most respected generals of the Revolutionary War and was a great military strategist. Before settlers were here, there was a large indigenous village. This was during the Woodland Period, which was dated from 1000 BC to 1000 AD. Eventually, the Cherokee used the area as their hunting grounds. Euro-Americans arrived in the late 18th century and the first was Jacob Brown, who had moved from North Carolina. He leased a plot of land from the Cherokee and he named it the Nolichucky Settlement. Another settler, Daniel Kennedy, decided to break free and his group formed Greene County. This area was still a part of North Carolina. In 1784, several counties decided to break away and form their own state, which they planned to name Franklin. This group was called the Franklin Movement and it eventually collapsed and North Carolina took back control in 1785. Greeneville officially became a town in 1786 and Tennessee became a state in 1796. Many Quakers moved to Greene County and so there was a strong abolitionist movement in the early 19th century. Andrew Johnson arrived in the city in 1826 and his home is now the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site.

Taverns were the precursor or grandfather to the saloons that would spread across America into the Old West. These were social gathering places to hear music, to dance, to drink and to find a simple room. DeWoody Tavern was no different. This tavern was built by William Dunwoody in the early 1790s and offered a spot for travelers along the Great Wagon Trail, which is today parts of U.S. Highway 321 and State Highway 11. The Great Wagon Road stretched for 800 miles between Philadelphia and West Virginia and broke off into the Wilderness Road to arrive in Kentucky and Tennessee. The early stages of the trail could only be traversed by horseback because it was so narrow and rough. After the French and Indian War, it expanded as it became the most heavily traveled road in America. This would have been a beautiful path, as it is today, but one can only imagine trying to get through it with a Conestoga wagon packed full with supplies and possessions and a trail full of mud and animal waste. Taverns and inns offered a respite from that and a place to water animals. 

The DeWoody Tavern was a wooden structure described as "janky." It offered food, supplies and lodging and had plenty of water because of Greeneville’s Big Spring. By the 1820s, the tavern was being called the Bell Tavern and was owned by William K. Vance and was advertised as a "Public House at the sign of the Bell in Greeneville." During the Civil War, the inn was owned by Joshua Lane and he called it the Lane House for himself. This establishment didn't choose sides during the war and served both Union soldiers and Confederates. And while being neutral during a war seems like a safe bet, it didn't work out for Greeneville because the soldiers themselves can't be trusted to keep the peace. One of Greeneville's most infamous skirmishes occurred on September 4th, 1864. 

There was a Confederate General named John Hunt Morgan, but everybody knew him by his nickname, "The Thunderbolt of the Confederacy." Morgan was from Kentucky and attended Transylvania College in Lexington until he was expelled for bad behavior. He turned to the military after that and enlisted with the 1st Kentucky Cavalry and joined the fight during the Mexican War. At the Battle of Buena Vista, he conducted himself gallantly and headed back to Kentucky in 1847. Morgan got into hemp manufacturing and formed a militia he dubbed the Lexington Rifles. He armed the entire militia at his own expense. Kentucky wasn't quick to join the cause of the Confederacy at the beginning of the Civil War, but Morgan was and he led the Lexington Rifles to Bowling Green where they fought under General Buckner. By the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862, Morgan had become a colonel. A couple months later, he began running raids all on his own with his cavalry and in July 1862, Morgan began a thousand-mile ride through Kentucky, acting like a thunderbolt destroying everything in his path. Railroad and telegraph lines were destroyed and they took Union soldiers as prisoners. They seized supplies too. Newspaper headlines documented the raids and people feared Morgan. So now you see how he came by his nickname.

Morgan continued under his own lead through the next year. His leadership ordered him to not conduct any more raids, but he rode along the Ohio River and terrorized southern Indiana and Ohio for three weeks until he was captured at West Point by the Union cavalry. Morgan was shipped off to the Ohio State Penitentiary, but he managed to escape. Morgan had a friend who lived in Greeneville named Mrs. Catherine Williams and she had invited him to stay at her mansion in the middle of the town. The property had quite a bit of vegetation and trees and a vineyard, so it provided a bit of secrecy. Despite this, some Union troops had been tipped off that Morgan was in town and they surrounded the mansion in an ambush. The Williams family tried to help Morgan escape, but there was no hope. Morgan was shot and killed as he ran from the yard to the stables. The soldier who is said to have shot him had served under him during the Mexican War. The Union cheered the end of a man that had terrorized everyone.

The landscape changed for Greeneville in 1886 when the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad built a new train depot in the town. A local entrepreneur named Colonel John Doughty decided the city needed a new hotel, so in 1884, he tore down the Lane House and built the Grand Central in its place. This was a four-story brick building with marble belts at each floor and window level. This was said to be the finest hotel "from Chattanooga to Roanoke." The interior featured wide hallways and luxurious furniture and sixty rooms. The lobby featured a warm fireplace, 35-foot ceilings, a hand-painted canopy and ornate chandeliers, that have been recreated for the modern era hotel. An upper balcony stretched across the front of the second story. There were several shops on the street level of the hotel and a flight of stairs lead out onto Main Street. Several spaces in the hotel were designated as "sample rooms" where salesmen could ply their wares. 

Grand Central Hotel not only rented rooms for a night, but people could rent them for a month. The hotel tells the story of Mr. and Mrs. Humphris Reaves who were newlyweds that married in December of 1892. They spent their first six months of marriage renting three rooms for $30 a month and they got three meals a day as well. As the seventh month rolled around, Mrs. Reaves told her husband it was time to end their extravagant living and they rented a house for $12 a month until they built one of their own. Three other railroad hotels joined the Grand Central and all four hotels were connected on their second floors with bridges. 

Mrs. E.J. Brumley bought the Grand Central in 1920 and she reopened it as the Hotel Brumley. In 1925, William Jennings Bryan, who was a well-known orator and three-time presidential candidate, stopped at the hotel for lunch on his way to the Scopes trial in Dayton. In 1928, the Brumleys began an extensive remodeling of the hotel, adding the Crystal Ballroom on the second floor, where formal events such as balls, dinners and wedding receptions were frequently held. Judd Brumley, who was the son, took over operating the hotel and he opened the General Morgan Room in 1948. This was a supper-club style private dining room on the first floor of the hotel where the elegant Crystal Ballroom had been. He purchased azure-etched mirrors for the space that hang in the Brumley's bar today. It was a hit and was soon known for being a prestigious location to hold an event. Mrs. Brumley died in 1964 and Judd followed her soon thereafter and other family members took over operations. The Brumley family ran the hotel until it closed in May of 1981 and then sat vacant for several years. 

A local development group formed a new board called Olde Town Development Corporation and their goal was to buy up historic buildings. The Hotel Brumley became one of their purchases and after nine years of planning, fund-raising, and construction, they opened the General Morgan Inn and Conference Center in 1996, named for the Confederate general who came to his end in the town. A friendly foreclosure sale was held on November 29, 2000, and the hotel was sold to the Morgan Inn Corporation, which still runs it today. The General Morgan Inn was added to the National Trust Historic Hotels of America and the National Trust For Historic Preservation. It is a popular wedding venue today and has 51 guest rooms, a luxurious suite and a corporate apartment. The inn also boasts the signature restaurant and lounge Brumley's. This space features the bar, the Club Room, the Greene Room and the Library. And it's a favorite space for a ghost or two.

Many of the articles written about the General Morgan Inn claim that there are dozens of ghosts in the hotel. Possibly as many as forty. One of the spirits is said to be General Morgan himself. Perhaps he was attracted to a place that had been named for him. We aren't sure how close the mansion was to the hotel, but he more than likely didn't die on this property. Although he did once tell a group that was investigating Room 207 that he had been shot in the back and died on the premises. So perhaps he did die here. His favorite area to hang out is on the second floor and he loves the suite since it is the finest room at the inn. General Morgan was a handsome man and was thought to be quite vain. He wouldn't allow anyone to photograph him unless he had his general's hat on his head. This vanity has lead the General to be quite attached to his picture, which hangs in the suite. Guests have called the front desk claiming to hear screaming coming from the suite, even when nobody is staying in there. The staff usually says they'll take care of it, even though they know the room is empty. They're used to it by now.

Around the turn of the twentieth century, a waitress worked in the inn and her name was Grace. She was good at what she did and clearly liked the hotel enough to stay on in the afterlife. The staff affectionately refers to her as Greene Room Grace. She is seen nearly daily and even if not seen, she tends to do some kind of mischievous thing in the Brumley Restaurant. Her favorite thing to do is to steal silverware with a particular fondness for spoons. And she usually takes those spoons out of the Greene Room, which is where her nickname comes from. Grace is pretty possessive of the spoons as well, meaning that she never returns them. No one knows where she puts them.

Beverly Murzyn was a server at Brumley's Restaurant for several years and she told WJHL Channel 11 in 2019, "You'll walk through and you'll notice a spoon is missing. So we have to order spoons all the time. We're always out of spoons, it's crazy. Why spoons, I don't know. Where she puts them, I don't know." Beverly also confirmed that Grace likes to make the pictures in the restaurant go crooked. They constantly have to straighten them. A dowser came in to investigate the hotel and thought they were speaking with Grace who said she had been haunting the building for 75 years and that Grace claimed to have nine ghosts with her. Beverly believes that she saw one of these spirits as a full-bodied apparition out of the corner of her eye while she was filling salt and pepper shakers. When she turned, she saw the outline of a body walk away. It was so quick she assumed it was one of the dishwashers. She went around the corner to see who it was and there was nobody there. She said to herself, "'It's time to go.' I'd never seen a full-bodied apparition just go across the kitchen." 

And the kitchen is pretty active itself. Heavy objects move by themselves in the kitchen and occasionally go flying across the room. One time, huge cookie sheets went flying off the top of the oven and across the kitchen. Another spirit in the restaurant is a man who sits at a booth in the clubroom and drinks coffee and reads the newspaper. And the elevators are haunted, moving up and down on there own and opening on floors where they haven't been called. During an investigation near the front desk, a ghost named Bill was contacted. He claimed to be very happy working at the front desk and he claimed to have 26 ghosts with him. He is now known as Front Desk Bill. 

Another haunted location in this city is the Old Greene County Jail. The jail is the oldest jail in the state of Tennessee and is located at 115 Academy Street, but it didn't start at this location. The jail was built in 1804 in the middle of Depot Street and it was very close to Richland Creek, so it was thought it would be better to move it to prevent flooding. And this was done, brick by brick, in 1838. It has been in its current location for over 180 years. This location is behind the current day Greene County jail and courthouse. The jail was a dark place and prisoners would live in semi-darkness. Originally there was only one floor, but a second was added in the late 1800s. The first floor had one cell and a place for prisoners to relieve themselves by sitting over a hole in the floor and the second floor was more modern and had four cells where there was at least a platform for prisoners to sit on to do their duty. There was no running water and no heat for a very long time until the second floor was upgraded. Some prisoners were executed. The last legal hanging took place in 1890. The jail ran until 1987. At Halloween time, the jail is turned into a haunted house attraction, but there are those who claim that there are real hauntings here. 

It's said that the local police refuse to enter this location after dark because it is so haunted. Josh and Jon head up Southern Afterlife and they investigated the jail in 2021. They heard a humming sound coming from a corner cell, kinda like a ringing sound. Possibly something bouncing off the metal of a door? They set up a spirit box and it was really weird because they first got what sounded like a baby crying and then a very clear child voice asking, "Play?" Then it said, "This is Pat's block." A female voice answered that her name was "Marissa" after being asked. The name "Thomas" came through and they asked if this was Thomas and it said, "Yep." And then "Thomas here." Multiple voices came through and said, "Help us leave." There was a scream and then a voice said "Quit screaming."

They were told multiple times to leave and get out. They weren't sure if it was a request for them to leave or if they were being asked to help the spirits leave. A cell door slammed on its own. It was pretty startling. They tested the door to see if it would slam on its own,  but they couldn't find any way that it would do that. They heard disembodied steps coming down the hallway. They also caught a couple of little figures on the SLS camera. Were these kids again? Another group of paranormal investigators were in there in 2021 as well. They were told to get out. They said they would leave the cell if they were told a name and they got the name "Peter." And they caught a few strange sounds. 

There is also a bridge that is reputedly haunted in Greeneville called Little Chucky Creek Stone Arch. It is a stone bridge and its lasted many years. We didn't find any stories on it so we don't know why they claim its haunted. But the jail and inn seem to have something unexplained going on. Are they haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, January 18, 2024

HGB Ep. 521 - Haunted Smithsonian

Moment in Oddity - Heart Shaped Lead Casket with Embalmed Heart (Suggested by Michael Rogers)

With Valentine's Day just around the corner we wanted to share with our listeners an unusual artifact found in Cork city, Ireland. The relic was a lead heart shaped casket containing an embalmed human heart. It was discovered within the medieval crypt of Christ Church during the 19th century. Although the discovery was not completely unique. There had also been an embalmed heart found at Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin. This particular relic contained the heart of Archbishop Laurence O'Toole who was also a saint. He had died in 1180 AD. The owner of the heart found in Cork City is not currently known, but based upon similar findings it is believed to have belonged to someone noteworthy. The heart is said to now be on display at the Pitt Rivers Museum at the University of Oxford. Regardless of whom the heart belongs to, discovering an embalmed human heart within a lead case, certainly is odd. 

This Month in History - Happy Days Premiers

In the month of January, on the 15th in 1974, television sitcom Happy Days premiered. Created by Garry Marshall and running for 11 seasons, the hit show achieved number one in the Nielsen ratings in its third season. The show takes place during the 1950's and 60's in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It's centers around a post WWII middle American family with a teen son and daughter who enjoy hanging out at the local malt shop with their friends. Many of us can recall the first 2 seasons opening theme song featuring "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley and His Comets. Beginning the third season of Happy Days, viewers began hearing a re-recorded theme song sung by Pratt and McClain with the memorable lyrics starting with 'Sunday, Monday, Happy Days'. Although son, Ritchie Cunningham played by Ron Howard, was the protagonist of the show, the most memorable character was Arthur Fonzarelli AKA 'The Fonz' played by Henry Winkler. The greaser's motorcycle riding persona made him popular with the ladies, always emanating that 'cool' style. This portrayed Fonzie as a 'bad boy' who somewhat clashed with the wholesome, all American cast of characters. Despite Happy Days not being appreciated by television critics, the sitcom became a pop culture icon that is still enjoyed in syndication today.

Haunted Smithsonian 

The Smithsonian Institute is the world's largest museum and is located in Washington, D.C. There are dozens of museums that are a part of the Smithsonian and together they showcase the history and culture of America and the world. And this is also the world's foremost research center. Priceless art, collections featuring memorabilia, fossils, animals, ancient Chinese bronzes, stamps, flags, posters and even Kermit the Frog call the Smithsonian home. The Institute is also cloaked in mystery and legends and it is quite possible that several spirits call this place home. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the Smithsonian!

The Smithsonian Institution was named for the man who started it all, James Smithson. Smithson was born as the illegitimate son of the 1st Duke of Northumberland, Hugh Percy Smithson. It is believed he was born in 1765 in Paris, but none of this information was officially recorded anywhere. He became a naturalized British citizen and attended Pembroke College in Oxford. While in school, he gravitated to the natural sciences and he focused on minerals and chemistry, which was a fairly new science at the time. Smithson traveled extensively throughout Europe collecting samples of ore and minerals. He was widely respected by his peers and was accepted into the Royal Society of London in 1787. This made James one of their youngest members as it came shortly after he graduated from college. Smithson died during a trip to Genoa, Italy in 1829 and he was buried at the San Beningo Cemetery just outside of Genoa. The gravesite was marked with an elaborate sarcophagus. James had left his estate to his nephew with the stipulation that if his nephew died without an heir, the estate would go to the United States. This was a surprising request to many because Smithson had never even been to the United States.

Before we talk about how this gift lead to the creation of the Smithsonian Institute, we want to finish out the rest of Smithson's history. In 1904, the cemetery was going to be destroyed when the quarry next to it was expanded. The Smithsonian Board of Regents decided to retrieve Smithson’s remains and bring them over to the United States even though Smithson had never been to America. It would be Gilbert Grosvenor and Alexander Graham Bell who would move the body from Italy to Washington, D.C. He was buried in a crypt in the Smithsonian Institution Building known as The Castle. He was disinterred in 1973 for a couple of reasons. One was to see if he was buried with any important documents, which he was not, and the other was to study the coffin and skeleton. The examination was conducted by anthropologist Larry Angel and a copy of his findings were put back in the coffin with the skeleton before it was sealed up again. And perhaps this is why Smithson is at unrest. But more on that later.

An attorney from Philadelphia named Richard Rush traveled to London to collect Smithson's personal effects and the money. Smithson had specified that the money would go "to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge." After Rush returned to the United States in 1838, Congress began debating how exactly to use the money. It would take until 1846 before legislation would be passed that created the Smithsonian Institution and this was officially named the Smithsonian Act of Organization. This gave provisions that a “suitable” building should be used with enough rooms and area to host an art gallery, a library and rooms for the “reception and arrangement” of natural history objects. President James K. Polk signed it into law.

The first person put in charge of everything was Professor Joseph Henry of the future Princeton University. His specialty was electromagnetism and he was a natural philosopher. He served as the Secretary of Smithsonian Institution for 32 years. The first building to be part of the Smithsonian was completed in 1855 and was dubbed the Castle. Joseph Henry lived on the upper floor of the East Wing with his family and a statue of him is in front of the Castle. The building is gorgeous with several towers, constructed from Seneca red sandstone brought in from Montgomery County, Maryland. Architect James Renwick, Jr. built it in the Norman Revival style that combined Gothic Revival with Romanesque. The interior was mainly handled by contractor Gilbert Cameron. 

The Center of the building had museum space that is now the Great Hall. Above this is a lecture room and there were two galleries on the second floor that have been changed to a visitor's center and reception area. There is a large basement below the Great Hall. The East Wing not only had the living space for the Secretary, but had research and storage space. These are now administrative offices. The West Wing that is nicknamed the chapel was a library that is now just a quiet room for visitors. Fireproofing was done to the building, but this didn't stop an 1865 fire from destroying nearly all of James Smithson's correspondence and documents, library contents, artwork and several rooms were gutted. Renovations were done and extra floors were added to each wing. Electric lighting was added in 1895. The next renovation would come between 1968 and 1970 and a five-year renovation was started in February 2023. And, of course, James Smithson's tomb is inside the Castle.

The Great Hall first held exhibitions of natural history specimens. This space was soon outgrown and before long, three additional Smithsonian museums had been built. One of the first spaces to ever be designated for children in a museum would be at the Castle. This had a large aquarium with fish in the center of the room and cases with exhibits of the largest and  smallest birds of prey, the smallest and largest eggs of the world, the largest lump of gold  ever found, and the largest diamond ever cut were around the room at the eye level of children. The exterior of the Castle was surrounded with beautiful gardens that expanded through the years. Spencer Fullerton Baird became the second secretary in 1878 and he served for nine years. He also was the museums first curator. Samuel Langley became the third secretary and he served for 19 years. All three of the secretaries served until their deaths.

There are 21 museums and the National Zoo that are part of the Smithsonian Institute with the two most recent being added in 2020. These museums are the African American History and Culture Museum, African Art Museum, Air and Space Museum, Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center, American Art Museum,  American History Museum, American Indian Museum, American Indian Museum New York, Archives of American Art, Freer Gallery of Art, Hirshhorn, Natural History Museum, Portrait Gallery, Postal Museum, Renwick Gallery, Sackler Gallery, the National Museum of the American Latino and the Smithsonian American Women's History Museum. Here is just a sample of the artifacts that have been on display. Diane remembers seeing Fonzi's leather jacket and Dorothy's ruby slippers from "The Wizard of Oz when she visited as a kid. There is also Archie Bunker's chair, Abraham Lincoln's top hat, the 1903 Wright Flyer, the Greenboro lunch counter, the desk the Declaration of Independence was written upon, Thomas Edison's "New Year's Eve" lamp, Hank Aaron's jersey, Ulysses S, Grant's chair from Appomattox, Cesar Chavez's union jacket, dresses from the First Ladies of America and Eddie Van Halen's Frankenstein electric guitar that he played on tour in 2007. The National Zoo's most famous resident was Smokey the Bear who arrived as an orphaned cub in 1950.

Before we talk about the unexplained things going on at the Smithsonian, we wanted to share some of the urban legends that are connected to the museum. Listeners have heard us joke several times on episodes about the Smithsonian hiding things in the basement, specifically around the discovery of skeletons of giants. There are conspiracy theorists who believe that every time these skeletons were found, the Smithsonian would send archaeologists out and the skeletons would never be seen again. There was a fictional account written on a website many years ago that reported that the Smithsonian had admitted to destroying thousands of giant skeletons in the early 1900s. This was debunked in 2014. The Smithsonian did some debunking as well back in 1934. The curator of anthropology for the Institute, Ales Hrdlicka (All ez Herd leech kah), said that reports of giant skeletons were just based on people's will to believe and misinterpreting bones that belonged to animals. There was just this verbal debunking, but no actual proof.

For example, a massive skeleton found in Tennessee was toured around the state as a reconstructed skeleton mounted to a timber frame. A doctor in New Orleans looked at it and claimed that the bones were of a mastodon. So somehow, a giant elephant-like creature was mistaken as a very tall human-like creature. Kinda like swamp gas for UFOs. We could share dozens of newspaper articles detailing giant skeleton discoveries and legends from Native Americans who believed giants had roamed the earth and we could even share a speech that Abraham Lincoln gave that mentioned a lost race of giants, but in the end, it's really whatever you want to believe. For us, we have no doubt that a giant race of something human-like was on the earth. Too many cultures have the stories. It's like the giant flood stories that are in so many cultures. Clearly, some kind of flood happened for all these unconnected groups told the same basic story. So were there giant bones buried in mounds around America? Did the Smithsonian gather them up and hide them? We'll never know, but it makes for a great legend anyways.

One of the legendary objects at the Smithsonian is the Hope Diamond. The history of the diamond is murky. French gem merchant Jean-Baptiste Tavernier claimed to have obtained it in 1666 in India and then it's believed he sold it to King Louis XIV in 1668. But there is no clear mention of the specific diamond, but a sketch shows a blue diamond. The court jeweler later cut the diamond and then it is listed as the Blue Diamond of the Crown of France. Most people called it the French Blue. It was believed to have been stolen during the French Revolution and disappeared from history, but tradition holds that the Hope Diamond was cut from the French Blue and some scientific testing seems to back that up. The Hope Diamond's official history starts in 1812 when it was in the possession of a London diamond merchant. It then went to the Royal Family and was probably sold for debts and was acquired by the man for whom it is named, Henry Philip Hope. The diamond passed to his nephew, Henry Thomas Hope, and then onto a grandson named Lord Francis Hope who sold it to a London jewel merchant in 1901 who sold it immediately to a man named Simon Frankel. Frankel started having financial issues and he started referring to the diamond as the "hoodoo diamond." There were some more owners and then it ends up with Pierre Cartier in 1910.

Although the diamond had been referred to as hoodoo before, it was Cartier that started the legend od the Hope Diamond being cursed. He fabricated a story to entice a Washington, D.C. socialite named Evalyn Walsh McLean to buy the gem. McLean was intrigued and she bought the diamond in 1911. And then, the story about the curse seemed to be true. Her husband left her for another woman and later died in a sanitarium. The McLean's son was struck and killed by a car and their daughter died of a drug overdose. Jeweler Harry Winston acquired the diamond after Evalyn McLean died and he donated it to the Smithsonian in 1958. And here again, the curse about the diamond seems to gain some credence. The diamond was delivered via the post office by registered mail. The postman who carried it was named James Todd and he had several misfortunes befall him. Within the year, he had broken his leg, had his dog die, his wife die and his house burned down. No bad luck seems to have fallen upon the Smithsonian and millions of people have visited it. Does it have a curse? That's for you to decide!

Here's one of the stranger urban legends connected to the Smithsonian. Gangster John Dillinger met his end in Chicago in 1934. He had been one of the greatest bank robbers in history, but now he was just laid out in a Chicago morgue, naked under a sheet. And rumor has it that this picture revealed that Dillinger was rather, shall we put this...well endowed. Newspapers decided not to run the picture as it might cause scandal. But the real story here is that somehow Dillingers appendage was removed from his body and became a part of the Smithsonian collection. The Smithsonian claims this is just a myth, but the rumors have been so intense that the Smithsonian created a form letter to respond to inquiries which reads, "In response to your recent query, we can assure you that anatomical specimens of John Dillinger are not, and never have been, in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution.”

Another urban legend claims that the Smithsonian discovered Egyptian ruins in the Grand Canyon. This was actually sparked from a real newspaper article. The Arizona Gazette is the only paper in the country to run this story. The headline on April 5, 1909 read, "Explorations in Grand Canyon; Mysteries of Immense Rich Cavern Being Brought to Light; Jordan Is Enthused; Remarkable Find Indicates Ancient People Migrated from Orient." The article featured a man named G. E. Kincaid claiming that he had been traveling down the Green and Colorado Rivers when he found a site with relics that seemed to indicate an ancient civilization had been there and many of the artifacts appeared to be Egyptian in origin. The Smithsonian sent out an archaeologist named S. A. Jordan and he investigated the site and took many of the relics back to the Smithsonian with him. No records can be found to proof that either of these men really existed and the Smithsonian claims the story is untrue and they have no such artifacts. 

Another archaeological mission that seems to be a myth is that the Smithsonian sent a team to Mount Ararat to find Noah's Ark. There is a picture that seems to show a strange formation on Mount Ararat that some claim is the ark, but the ark has never been found and the Smithsonian has never tried to find it. And another rumor is that storage area under the Smithsonian we joke about. This legend actually claims that there is an archive center underneath the National Mall. This storage space reputedly has a labyrinth of tunnels stretching out under the ground beneath many of the museums. Gore Vidal wrote the novel "The Smithsonian Institute" and he writes about the Castle basement and a group of nuclear physicists doing experiments there. The movie "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" put forward the idea that this was a real thing too. The Smithsonian’s storage facilities are actually mostly located in Suitland, Maryland. However, there is an underground complex of tunnels that connect several buildings that are only accessible to staff.

While the Smithsonian is very secretive about what they have hidden in their "basement," so to say, they aren't shy about their spirits. The Smithsonian Institution Archives shares stories about strange phenomenon in their museums. Back in 1900, the US National Museum, that is now known as the Arts and Industries Museum, had a spirit bird that liked to wail. This wailing was so loud that the people who lived around the building could hear it and before long, the Washington Post was running an article about the strange disembodied sound. A 2015 article in the Smithsonian Archives by Hillary Brady describes what happened, "It was recounted as a 'soul-depressing' sound, a monotonous wail, a 'dolorous note' in the night. Residents took up arms against the apparition in a 'tragic' appeal to put an end to the noise—for a watchman, a gun, for a boy, a slingshot. The phantom noise lingered on. The only explanation? This bird with the 'weird' cry terrorizing the town was the disturbed spirit of another winged creature who had given up its life 'for the sake of science and now fill[s] the cases of the Smithsonian.'"

And Diane, the listeners might recall that during our recent interview with Sylvia Shults, she remarked that security guards were a wealth of haunting stories when it came to museums. That is true of the Smithsonian. Watchmen would routinely compare notes with each other about masks that moved on their own in cases, bronze animal sculptures that seemed to come alive and they too heard the screeching of the bird. Now, we will admit that some of the ghost stories had some non-ethereal explanations. One guard mistook a diving suit for a body. A mannequin that was dressed as a Japanese warrior had been moved out of its case to be photographed and a guard thought it had taken itself out of the case. And guards often mistook a museum aide named Jesse Beach who was living at the Museum of Natural History as a ghost when they saw her wandering the halls wearing a white nightgown with her long white hair flowing. 

But there are ghosts seen by staff and visitors. The namesake of the museum, James Smithson, is one of the apparitions staff have claimed to see. He had been seen so often that a curator had the casket examined in 1973. We mentioned earlier that the official explanation was just a cursory exam, but now we know the real reason behind the disinterment. The skeleton was completely intact. We're not really sure what the curator was looking for. The skeleton wasn't walking around. Clearly Smithson was dead. Maybe they did something to try to get the spirit to rest? And the former Secretaries who tenures came to an end upon their deaths, seem reluctant to leave the Smithsonian in the afterlife. First Secretary Joseph Henry has been spotted wearing the same clothes that he wore when he was alive. He walks through the exhibits and then steps into the statue of himself outside. 

Second Secretary Spencer Baird has been seen by almost every night watchmen who has worked in the Castle. The ghost disappears when it is approached. A paleontologist for the museum named Fielding B. Meek lived under a staircase in the castle with his cat. The 1865 fire forced him to change residences to one of the towers where he died in 1876. And staff claim to see him walking around the Castle. Emil Bessels was an arctic explorer and he has been seen in the Castle. That Washington Post article from 1900 also detailed the stories of some employees who believed they had seen former scientists in the Castle. It says of one long time employee that he "has been startled at the solemn hour of midnight by coming face to face with the former secretaries long since dead. The form of Dr. Bessels has often been seen traversing the long corridors and gliding about among the dingy looking old curios. Both former Secretary Baird and Professor Henry continue to supervise the affairs of both buildings, and though long since dead, there is scarcely a man who does duty there by night who cannot tell of meeting them more than once. When spoken to, their forms vanish." 

One of the haunted items at the Smithsonian is a purple dress that Mary Todd Lincoln had worn. She had no use for the dress after the President died as she wore black mourning clothes for the rest of her life. She gave the dress to her cousin and that cousin's son sold the dress in 1916 to the Smithsonian for their First Ladies Collection. The dress is said to be haunted by Mary. People hear weeping near the dress. And her apparition has been seen near the dress too. A number of ancient Egyptian treasures are said to be cursed. A scarab from King Tut's tomb is said to carry a curse. There is also a mummified cat head and workers claim to have seen a ghost cat near the display. 

A woman named Molly Horrocks worked as a collections manager at the National Museum of American History. She told the following story in October 2022 on Season 8, Episode 9 of the Smithsonian's Podcast Sidedoor, "It was probably 8:30 or so, because we like to do things when people aren't around. So, I'm leaving my office, I've got my keys, I've got my supplies. I am meeting our mount maker at the case, which is right at the end of this stairwell...and I could tell that there was something here, but there was nobody here because it was silent. So, I'm at the point in the stairwell where I could either go up or down and I hear a sound above. Just kind of a thud, but it was enough of a sound, I knew it wasn't just a weird building sound. It got my attention. But again, I was I going somewhere. I didn't really think anything of it. I was just like, 'Oh, that's weird, whatever.' So, I would go down the stairs and at halfway down the stairs I'm like, 'Oh, that was a little weird, because there was no sound after.' I was thinking, 'Well, if there was somebody up there, wouldn't they have said 'hello'?" but there was nothing. There was just silence. So, I get to the bottom of the stairs, I'm at the door and I hear again this thud sound. And this time I looked up and when I looked up, there was a man peering at me from around the banister of the stairs that I had just come from, right where I had been. There was now a person there. I had never seen this person before. They were wearing an Ike jacket, a World War II-era jacket, olive drab, greenish kind of color. He was pretty young, in his mid 20s, maybe? We made eye contact. That's silly. Just because he wasn't real. He wasn't an alive person. It was just an awareness. This was not a living person. This is just something else. But we made eye contact. I didn't feel scared. It was just... It just was. And he seemed like he was just kind of curious. It was very strange, actually, how natural it all felt. And then I just left. I just opened the door and I left. And the door that I was going to go   opens up to the World War II section and I told the mount maker was there already waiting for me. I was like, 'I think I just saw a ghost.' And she's like, 'I don't doubt it. A lot of the staff have had some kind of weird experiences, so...'"

The third floor staff bathroom in the National Museum of Natural History is apparently haunted. And yes, it's the women's restroom. Deb Hull-Walski is a collections manager at the museum and she told the Sidedoor Podcast that when she first started working in the building back in the 1990s, she heard all kinds of ghostly experiences about the bathroom. People claimed that the manual faucet knobs would turn themselves on. Deb scoffed at the stories until one day she was in using the restroom when she heard the water turn on. There had been no one else in the restroom when she entered and she hadn't heard anyone come in. Deb finishes up and leaves her stall and turns off the water. She thinks that it just must have been pressure building up, but then the sink next to this one suddenly turns on. She turns off that faucet and then the next sink turns on. Deb turned that off and the sinks stopped turning on. A little while later, Deb brought her 15-year-old daughter to work. She had told her daughter the bathroom story and the teenager thought it was baloney. That was until both of them were sitting in Deb's office that dated to 1910 and the sink in that room turned itself on. Deb had to physically turn the knob to shut off the water and they looked at each other like, "What?" This was the first time this sink did that and it never happened again.

Kim Dixon worked at the National Zoo in 2001. One of her duties was to observe the elephants during the middle of the night. A new baby had just been born and Kim was watching them one night when she had a strange experience. She told the Sidedoor Podcast, "It was about 2:30 in the morning. I'd been on my shift maybe an hour, and I was taking my notes, sitting in the dark with my red light on, and I heard the far door by the hippo enclosure open. And then I heard the echoing footsteps of hard soles across the tile floor. Very slow, deliberate steps, just a simple click, click, click, click, click, click. And since it was a big open space with that concrete floor, it just echoed everywhere.  It didn't disturb me at that point in time, because I still thought it was maintenance, it was security, it was a keeper. It was someone that I knew. Not a big deal. So, I was in the middle of taking some notes and I looked over in front of Ambika's enclosure, who was the enclosure to the left of where I was sitting. And there was a tall, what I felt was male, figure. And he leaned into the lower bar and put his hip out and looked at the elephant. And then he turned and he looked at me. I don't remember any facial features and I didn't think anything of it. I smiled, I nodded. My timer went off. So, I looked down and I started to take my notes and then I looked up to say something to them and they were gone. I didn't even breathe at that moment, because I was listening for any footsteps around me since it was pitch black other than my little red light. And I didn't hear any footsteps and I didn't hear any door." Kim checked the facility and all the doors were still locked and she was the only human in it. She called security and they checked the building too. They found nothing. She wondered, " "Could it have been that you were falling asleep? Could it have been the lighting in the room?" Nope. That didn't work. I checked that. I checked that. I checked that. And to this day I can still kind of see how they were: gray figure, very solid-looking. And I know they turned and they looked at me. They noticed me. We made some type of contact in that moment. But the second I looked down, they vanished."

A curator of the Castle collection named Richard Stamm said of the reputed hauntings, "Many ghost stories have swirled about, but in the many years I have been in this building, no ghosts have ever shown their faces to me!" Is it because there really aren't any spirits at the Smithsonian. Or is it haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, January 11, 2024

HGB Ep. 520 - The Life and Afterlife of Joan Crawford

Moment in Oddity - Mr. Eat-All

Monsieur Mangetout (maanj-too) was Michel Lotito's entertainment name. Which, translated to English means 'Mr. Eat-all'. Lotito suffered from pica which is classified as an eating disorder where a person compulsively consumes non digestible material. Michel was examined by doctors and was found to possess an incredibly adaptable digestive system. His stomach lining and intestines were much thicker than the average human. Due to this, Monsieur Mangetout was able to consume metals and all sorts of indigestible items. However, he would do so in a cautious manner. Items Michel ate were always cut down to a smaller passable size and he kept his throat lubricated with mineral oil. This method allowed him to consume up to 2 pounds of metal each day. Throughout 'Mr. Eat All's' career, he consumed 18 bicycles, 7 TV sets, 2 beds, 15 grocery store carts, a computer, A COFFIN, a pair of skis and 6 chandeliers. His entertainment career culminated in eating a whole Cessna 150 airplane. It did take him 2 years to consume the entire plane, but regardless, that is pretty impressive. Unfortunately Lotito died of natural causes at the age of 57, but one thing is for sure, Michel's consuming of a whole Cessna airplane certainly is odd.  

This Month in History - The Dedication of the Pentagon

In the month of January, on the 15th, in 1943, the Pentagon building was dedicated. The building sits on 1,100 acres of land which once belonged to Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The United States Federal Government confiscated the property during the Civil War. The idea of the Pentagon was suggested by Army Brig. Gen. Brehon Sommervell. He proposed it as a short term solution to the current War Department's lack of space while the likelihood of joining WWII was looming. Plans for the building were to utilize it for a hospital, office or warehouse after the culmination of WWII. The shape of the structure was said to have been designed due to the bordering of five adjacent roadways. The Pentagon was completed in 16 months using 435,000 yards of concrete, 43,000 tons of steel and 680,000 tons of sand and gravel. After WWII, officials determined that there was a justified need to retain a large military defense office. As such, the Pentagon continues to operate as a military command center to this day. 

The Life and Afterlife of Joan Crawford

Joan Crawford was an icon of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Her dramatic looks and stunning ability to take on any character, made her a highly sought after actress. The actress' reputation was marred though after her death when one of her adoptive daughters wrote a scathing memoir that became a movie depicting Crawford as a horrible mother who was mentally unstable and abusive. On this episode, we will journey through the life of Crawford. A life that was very complicated. And perhaps this is why there are rumors that Crawford's spirit might still be among us. 

Joan Crawford was born Lucille Fay LeSueur (Laysir) in San Antonio, Texas, on March 23, 1905, or was it 1904 or maybe even 1906. No one is actually sure what year exactly she was born as Crawford was notorious for lying about her age as most women do, particularly when in showbiz and especially at that time. It's hard enough for actresses to get good, rich parts today when they are over the age of forty, so imagine during Hollywood's Golden Age. Her father was construction worker Thomas LeSueur and her mother was Anna Bell Johnson. Anna was a young mother and Lucille would be her second child with Thomas who left shortly after Lucille was born.  Her mother married theater owner Harry Cassin in 1909 and the family relocated to Lawton, Oklahoma where Cassin managed the Ramsey Opera House that hosted a variety of stage performances, including vaudeville acts. Lucille fell in love with what she was watching on stage and soon she was actually performing on stage, particularly for children. She went by the nickname Billie and for many years believed that her step-father Henry was actually her biological father. This marriage eventually ended in divorce as well.

Clearly, Crawford's childhood was tough. She had already been through two father figures, one of whom abandoned her and the other it turns out, was sexually abusing her and had embezzled money from the theater forcing the family to move to Kansas. Crawford was a strong-willed woman and that developed in her childhood, not only as just a core part of her character, but possibly as protection against the abuse and an onslaught of teasing. Her clothes were homemade and kids made fun of her at the private schools she attended. This got worse when her mother divorced Cassin and Billie then became a work student who had to clean and cook to compensate for her education. She suffered intense corporal punishment at school as well. The relationship with her mother wasn't great either as her mother was continuously comparing Joan to her older brother Hal and wondering why she couldn't be good like her brother. And, unfortunately, her mother blamed her for the sexual abuse.

Crawford attempted to attend college in 1922, but as some of us find, college really wasn't for her. Her education record was mainly faked because her workload at the private schools she attended kept her from being able to study or attend many classes. Dancing would become Crawford's entry to fame. She won several dancing competitions that she entered at the urging of her boyfriend at the time, Ray Sterling, and she eventually joined a traveling revue as a dancer under her birth name of Lucille LeSueur. During this time, she did do some things to help pay the bills that would come back to haunt her. She was filmed dancing nude and performed in peep shows and after moving to Chicago, she started work as a stripper. She was arrested for prostitution during this time. In 1924, she made another move to Detroit and there she got work as a chorus girl and this is when she was discovered by a Broadway producer there named J. J. Shubert. He offers her a job on Broadway and Crawford moved to New York City.

Her first husband would come along after she hit the stage on Broadway. This was saxophone player James Welton. The marriage was short-lived, but not much is known about it because Crawford didn't talk about it. Crawford loved New York City and she would say of her time there that the big city felt like home to her. Crawford did a screen test at the end of 1924, which was viewed by Hollywood producer Harry Rapf. He took the test to MGM, which promptly offered Crawford a contract making $75 a week. Crawford jumped at the chance and borrowed $400, so she could move to California. Her first job in Hollywood was serving as a body double for Norma Shearer, who was MGM's top talent at the time. Crawford was credited under her birth name. By the end of 1925, she had appeared in five films.

The publicity head for MGM, Pete Smith, didn't care for the name Lucille LeSueur because it sounded like "sewer" to him. A "Name the Star" contest was held, which came up with the name Joan Arden. Another actress had that name, so the secondary name of Crawford was chosen. Crawford didn't care for the name. She preferred Jo-Anne to Joan and Crawford sounded like "crawfish" to her. Then Crawford set out to promote herself because she felt that she should be getting better than just bit parts. MGM screenwriter Frederica Sagor Maas said of Crawford, "No one decided to make Joan Crawford a star. Joan Crawford became a star because Joan Crawford decided to become a star." In 1927, she appeared in the film "The Unknown" with Lon Chaney, Sr. and she considered him to be a mentor saying, "It was then I became aware for the first time of the difference between standing in front of a camera, and acting." Her big break came in 1928 with the film "Our Dancing Daughters." This was a flapper themed silent movie and people compared her to the It girl, Clara Bow. Crawford made for the perfect star. She had large blue eyes, dark eyebrows, wide mouth, broad shoulders and a slim figure.

With this success, Joan was able to purchase the home that she would live in for most of her life. This was a 10 room house at 426 N. Bristol Avenue that she heard about from a contractor friend of her brother Hal. She paid $57,500 for it and the original design was in the Spanish villa style. The house would be renovated many times and go through a complete style change to  Georgian in the mid-1930s. The original interiors featured tile flooring, wrought iron accents and exposed stained wood ceiling beams. Much of the furniture was primitive, but it would become more formal as the tile floors were covered with bright-colored rugs and the exposed wood was painted. Joan was dating several men at the time that she bought the house, but the one that she really latched onto was Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. The couple married in June 1929, and Crawford officially dubbed the house "El JoDo," a combination of the names Joan and Douglas. She had obviously gotten the idea from Pickfair. And yes, just like Pickfair, it turns out that this house will have some haunts of its own.

Joan Crawford loved men and being engaged or married didn't stop her from having affairs. She carried on quite a few during her marriage to Fairbanks and eventually they divorced in 1933. Part of the issues in the marriage also included a resentment that Crawford had for Fairbanks lack of will or trying when it came to acting. She basically had to swim in the gutter before her rise to fame and he took the fact that his father was famous for granted and he wasn't very committed to his career. She began an extensive remodel of the house after this and also added a pool house and theater to the backyard with the pool between the two buildings. There were also two rooms added to the house. The theater served the purpose of giving Joan a place to practice being live on stage and she would invite her friends as an audience. When Talkies took over Hollywood, Crawford transitioned perfectly. Her voice was thought to be alluring and critics complimented her talking and singing.

The next major love of Crawford's life would be Clark Gable. They had a love affair that lasted for twenty years, off and on. They met on the set of "Dance Fools, Dance" in 1931. After that film, Gable and Crawford made two more films that year and that success placed Crawford among MGM's top female stars. Gable and Crawford would make eight films together in total and she would say of Gable that he was the only man that she really loved. The 1930s was incredibly successful for Joan. She married her third husband Franchot Tone in 1935. Tone turned out to be an alcoholic who was incredibly jealous of her fame and he physically abused her throughout their marriage. Make-up artists would have to work wonders to cover the bruises she would receive. Crawford left Tone in 1939 after he cheated on her.

The Hollywood Reporter released an ad in 1938 that declared Joan Crawford "Box Office Poison" along with other female stars like Katharine Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich, Mae West and Greta Garbo. The list was put together by the president of the Independent Theatre Owners Association of America, Harry Brandt, and his reasoning behind doing this was that these actresses were making more money than they were worth as reflected by ticket sales. Later, it would come out that some actors were on the list as well. This basically was a movie exhibitor who was having issues with making money and box-office flops. We would concur that Hollywood artists make way more money than they should, but that's the world we live in. Being dubbed "Box Office Poison" hit Joan hard and she had trouble getting work for a while and her next couple of movies flopped. She had a comeback in 1939. 

Christina Crawford was Joan's first child that she adopted in 1940. She had been unable to carry a pregnancy to term, so she turned to adoption. She originally named Christina Joan after herself, but then changed her mind. The adoption had to go through Las Vegas because California wouldn't allow a single woman to adopt a child. Crawford married actor Phillip Terry in 1942 and they adopted a boy they named Christopher. The biological parents wanted him back after a year, so Joan had to give him up and then those parents turned around and sold him to another couple for $250. Crawford would always consider Christopher to be one of her children since she had raised him for a year. She and Phillip adopted another boy who they named for Phillip, but after the couple divorced in 1946, Crawford changed Phillip Jr.'s name to Christopher. 

MGM and Crawford terminated their contract together after 18 years in 1945 and Joan signed with Warner Brothers. Her first film with the studio was Mildred Pierce in 1945, which was a smash hit for Warner Brothers and earned Crawford the win for Best Actress for her roll in it. She didn't attend the Oscars because she thought she would lose and told everyone that she was too ill to go. After she heard that she won, she had her make-up and hair done and conducted a photo shoot of her accepting the Oscar in bed. 

In January 1947, Crawford adopted twin girls, Cindy and Cathy from the Tennessee Children's Home Society, an unlicensed orphanage and it turned out to be a horrible place. The owner, Georgia Tan skimmed 90% of the fees for her lifestyle. Many of the babies were stolen from unwed mothers. After bringing the twins home, Crawford would begin to have a drinking problem. In 1952, Joan left Warner Brothers and basically worked as a free agent, which didn't go well. She had trouble finding work and so she left Hollywood for awhile and married Pepsi-Cola president Alfred Steele in May of 1955. The couple split their time between the Bristol Avenue house and Manhattan, New York, where they owned a penthouse apartment at 2 East 70th Street. The apartment would eventually become Crawford's full-time residence, but she wouldn't sell the Bristol house until 1960. Crawford became very active with Pepsi and she traveled extensively opening up bottling plants and doing other promotional things around the country. Crawford would say that she probably traveled 100,000 miles for Pepsi.

Joan's mother died in 1959 and although the mother and daughter had a strained relationship, it hit Joan hard. Shortly after that, Alfred died from a heart attack and Joan was devastated. Joan was elected to the Board of Directors for Pepsi after Alfred's death and she would remain there until 1973 when she retired.  Joan began acting again after Alfred's death because he had left her nearly penniless. And that was a great thing for us because 1961 brought a script to Crawford entitled, "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" Crawford took on the part of Blanche Hudson who had once been an A-list star, but now was elderly and disabled and under the care of her psychotic sister Jane. Crawford suggested that the part of Jane be given to Bette Davis. Many people were shocked as they thought the actresses hated each other, but they maintained that they never had a feud. Which was not true. Rumors claim that Davis even kicked Crawford so hard in the head on set, that Crawford needed stitches. 

The film was a huge success and Crawford had her second comeback. Davis was nominated for an Academy Award. Another rumor about the rivalry claims that Crawford was upset that she hadn't been nominated. Anne Bancroft had been nominated in the Best Actress category, but she wasn't going to be able to attend the Oscars, so Crawford called her up and asked if she could accept the award on Bancroft's behalf if she were to win. So Anne did win Best Actress and Crawford did accept the award for her. Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange starred in the FX docudrama entitled "Feud" in 2017, which was inspired by the purported feud between the women. Creator Ryan Murphy had interviewed Bette Davis for four hours back in 1989 and he said it was clear that Davis hated Crawford, but that she greatly respected her talent.

We love the old Night Gallery series as we are sure many listeners do as well, and Crawford appeared in the 1969 film that served as the pilot for the series. BTW, Steven Spielberg was the director. It was the first time he directed a star of that caliber. Joan was presented the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes in 1970. Crawford would act for the last time in 1972 on a television episode of The Sixth Sense. Her last public appearance was on April 8, 1973 at a sold out event at Town Hall in Manhattan, New York presenting John Springer's series "Legendary Ladies." A series of clips from Crawford's screen career were shared and then she did a question and answer afterward. Joan moved to a smaller apartment, made an appearance at a book party in 1974 and things went south for Crawford. By 1977, she was too weak to care for her Shih Tzu dog and she gave her away. Four days later, on May 10, 1977, she had a massive heart attack and passed in her apartment in New York City. She was reported to be 69-years-old, but was probably closer to 73.

Joan's funeral was held at Campbell Funeral Home in New York. Her will left $77,500 to both twins Cindy and Cathy and Christina and Christopher were both disinherited. The will said, "It is my intention to make no provision herein for my son, Christopher, or my daughter, Christina, for reasons which are well known to them." The two challenged the will and received a $55,000 settlement. Crawford was buried at Ferncliff Cemetery and Mausoleum. But that was not the end of Joan Crawford's legacy or time here on this dimension. The next major stop on the Joan Crawford timeline would have to be the movie "Mommie Dearest." For listeners who are our age, meaning you grew up in the 1980s, you more than likely watched this movie or heard about it. 

The 1981 movie was based on the 1978 controversial tell-all written by Christina Crawford. It was her revenge on her mother for leaving her out of the will. The book depicted Joan as an alcoholic who was cruel and unbalanced. Joan's friends all denounced the book as fiction and lies and even her rival Bette Davis said, "I was not Miss Crawford’s biggest fan, but, wisecracks to the contrary, I did and still do respect her talent. What she did not deserve was that detestable book written by her daughter. I’ve forgotten her name. Horrible." Cindy and Cathy Crawford also said that the book was all lies. Joan was known to be a strict mother and could be controlling, but the stories of beatings were over the top. The movie sensationalized the claims in the book even more, to the point that the movie came across as campy and over the top with Faye Dunaway's performance remembered as overblown, rather than Oscar worthy. 

Faye Dunaway was an obvious pick to play Joan. Crawford herself had said, "Of all the actresses, to me, only Faye Dunaway has the talent and the class and the courage it takes to make a real star." Dunaway felt that she was the only one brave enough to take on the role. She wrote, "The general sentiment in the industry was that anyone who played Christina’s version of Crawford would pay a price for taking on one of Hollywood’s great legends." When Roger Ebert saw Dunaway in her make-up on the set, he said, "My god, she looks just like Joan Crawford." The make-up took seven hours to apply and the make-up artist Lee Herman used a Q-tip to cross-reference Dunaway's face with Crawford's. The resemblance was spooky, but that wasn't all that was spooky about the set of the movie. There are claims that Joan Crawford haunted the set. 

Dunaway's behavior became increasingly more erratic during production and some people wondered if she was a woman possessed. At the time, Dunaway was caring for her infant son and people thought perhaps the pressure and sleep deprivation were getting to her. Dunaway wrote in her memoir "Looking For Gatsby" that, "A week into production the role really began troubling me. It is difficult to spend the day inside a character that is so dark, and not easy to shed the emotions, like the costumes and makeup, at the end of the day. At night I would go home…and feel Crawford in the room with me, this tragic, haunted soul just hanging around.” She describes "a chilly presence, a coming-in-and-sitting-on-the-window-ledge sort of thing."

One of the weird things that happened on the set was that Dunaway suddenly lost her voice during a screaming scene - yes, THAT scene about the wire hangers. People had said that Dunaway's performance made it seem as though Crawford had loaned her voice to Faye for 12 weeks. There was speculation that this was Crawford taking back her voice during a scene that she particularly didn't like. An entire reel of film also came out completely blank and no one knew why. And some of Crawford's gowns went missing. The movie opened to horrible reviews and audiences erupting into raucous laughter. Perhaps the influence of Crawford's ghost had an effect.

The Bristol House was said to be haunted as well. Crawford sold it to actor Donald O'Connor in 1960. He did some extensive renovations and in 1975 sold the property to investor Gary Berwin. He sold the house to actor/producer Anthony Newley. The house was sold again in June of 1981, to Texas developers Robert and Nancy Crow. The couple divorced in 1984 and Nancy got the house. There was a slight fire on the second floor that did a bit of damage that was quickly repaired. Crow sold the house in 1996 for over $1.5 million and the new owner divided the property into two parcels and part towards the back of the property was sold and a house was built on it in 2011. The pool house and theater that had been there before were demolished. It is believed that the owner that Crow sold to is still the current owner. And we are left to wonder if that owner has experienced anything. But that is not the case in regards to the time when Crawford lived there. 

Brad and Sherry Steiger were experts on the unexplained and conducted a lot of paranormal investigations and research. Joan Crawford's house was one of the places they wrote about in their 1990 book "Hollywood and the Supernatural." They approached Christina to ask her about rumors of hauntings at the Bristol House and she seemed surprised that they had heard about the weird activity. She told them, "I have vivid memories of some things, but when you are severely abused, you tend to block out other things. I'm positive that there were manifestations occurring when I was little. I saw them! There
were places in the house that were always so cold that nobody ever wanted to go in them. As a child, I was always told that I had an active and vivid imagination; I was always scared by things, but people just told me that I just had an 'active imagination.' Years later, I thought, oh well, maybe that was good to have had an active imagination, and I became a writer because of that."

"But as a child, I saw things in the house! There was, of course, no context or framework in which to put what I saw and felt. I had nobody to speak to about the occurrences. Any time I would become extremely frightened and would get out of my bed to try and find somebody, I was always treated as though I were
just being a 'bad child' that didn't want to go to sleep. I always expressed my fear to my mother because it was she that I went to find to help me ... because I would be very upset and I'd be crying. I used to have terrible nightmares and that kind of thing, but a lot of it had to do with the fact that I saw things in the night; so the solution to that finally was just to leave the lights on everywhere. One of the things I saw seemed like an apparition of a child ... or children, but as I said, I may have blotted out a lot.

The Steigers wrote, "Christina told us that she had not been back to the house since she was seventeen. Christina recalled her last day there, 'I remember the woman who had taken care of me and my two younger sisters since I was four years old just watching me, without saying a word. I was going from room to room in the house, without saying anything, just standing in the middle of each room, then going on to the next one. She finally asked me what I was doing. I told her that I would never see this house again, therefore, I was saying goodbye to it. Many years after I had left, we met again. She was now an elderly woman and had retired. We always had been quite close. She told me she had always remembered the look on my face when I said my goodbyes to the house. It seemed a strange thing to do, to say, 'I'll never see this house again,' when at that time there was absolutely no inkling of the house being sold. In fact, it was not sold for another two and a half to three years, and, indeed, I never have been back.'"

At the time of the interview, Christina had heard that the current owners of the house had called in the Reverend Rosalyn Bruyere of the Healing Light Center to work with the house. The Steigers wrote that Christina said, "Rosalyn described what she had seen in the house when she went there. She picked up on some things that astounded me because they seemed to validate what I may have seen and experienced when I was little. It gave me goose bumps when Rosalyn told me that she discovered so many spirits in the house and there had been signs of ritual abuse in one of the rooms. Many of the spirits had 'underworld' connections. I was sent to boarding school when I was ten years old. I came home infrequently after that. I always believed that I was sent away partly because I was too much the eyes and ears to the world--a witness. I saw too much, I guess. Some of the things that I saw that were going on were very violent. Her [Joan Crawford's] relationship with men, a number of men, was extremely violent. I was getting too old, and I was beginning to understand what was going on.

That house is so weird! Now, evidently, the walls are starting to catch fire! Other people have heard children's cries in the walls! Every single owner has had trouble. The first one was Crawford. She built the majority of the house. It was a small cottage when she bought it, but most of the house, she built. She sold it to Donald O'Connor, who sold it to the Anthony Newleys. They sold it, I think, to the current owner, who is a friend of the Reverend Rosalyn Bruyere, and they asked her to "work" on the house. Every single family that has lived in that house has had horrible things happen . . . illnesses, alcoholism, addictions, relationship problems, and now, evidently with the current owner, the walls are breaking out in flames! I've heard that in particular it's the wall that was behind Crawford's bed."

Christina went on to remind the Steigers of what she wrote in "Mommie Dearest" about her mother's final moments. A woman had been praying for Joan at the foot of her bed  and she said to the woman, "Don't you dare ask God to help me!" And then she died. Christina felt that this interaction revealed Crawford's arrogance and she believed that was partly why the house seemed cursed. She said, "And that has nothing to do with me! So it would not surprise me in the least if the "haunting" spirit that is in the house is Crawford! She was capable of real evil. If you have never experienced that "look" from another human being, it is almost impossible to believe that such an experience could even exist! I think perhaps that's why so many people are unwilling to deal with the shadow side because they can't really get themselves to believe that such a dimension exists. My brother and I were absolutely terrified of her. In fact, there is
a passage in Mommie Dearest that describes ('the look" on her face) when she tried to kill me when I was thirteen. We all saw "that look." My brother and I talked about it extensively ... it was not of an ordinary human being!"

The Steigers talked to the Reverend Rosalyn Bruyere of the Healing Light Center and she told them, "It is true that the house was afflicted with spontaneous fires, primarily in the wall behind where Joan Crawford's bed used to be. However, I did not pick up that Joan Crawford's ghost was there." Bruyere felt that the house had a presence or something before Crawford moved in and that her chaotic remodelings and constant building onto and changing of the house, led to chaos for this presence. Like the Winchester Mystery House. Bruyere said, "Nothing is where it should be. She added dining rooms and hallways that led to other dining rooms. It all combines to form an H-shaped house. Turn a corner and you're lost." For this reason, the healer felt that the haunting was multi-layered.

Bruyere said, "It was a place of conspicuous negativity. I called it an 'Astral Central,' a gathering of spirits that were attracted to the negative vibrations. People had been tied up and tortured in that house. I picked up on gangland figures, corrupt politicians. There is an area in the house where a child [not Christina] had been tortured and molested. Terrible things went on in that house."Once the Beverly Hills Fire Department spent four days there attempting to solve the mystery of the spontaneous fires that would break out on the walls. I feel the spirits were trying to burn the house down to protect some horrible secret. There is something hidden there. I am certain that there are bodies buried in that basement." The healer claimed to have cleared the house.

The Steigers decided to visit the house for themselves and they wrote, "When we [authors Brad and Sherry] visited the former Crawford home in the early 1990s, the current owners graciously allowed us to enter to film a segment for an HBO special on haunted Hollywood. The couple told us that they had experienced some mysterious pyrotechnic phenomena and had witnessed quite a number of apparitions of quite a wide variety of entities in various parts of the home. The couple said that the small cottage next to the swimming pool very often seemed to be the center of haunting phenomena. We kept in touch with the couple for quite some time. It was not long after we had filmed in the Crawford home that they decided to move. We have no comment from them whether or not it was because of any haunting phenomena."

There's this Ghost Box Session on YouTube supposedly with Joan Crawford. There was an interesting exchange where the woman asking the questions asked, "I hope this isn't too sensitive of a subject, but your daughter Christina wrote a very controversial [Voice asks, "What has she done?"] tell all memoir, that you probably know about. How did you feel about that? Were you upset and are you still upset?" [Voice asks, "Now what have you done?"] The woman asked if she had seen Bette Davis on the other side and what sounded like a male voice seemed to be asking who Bette Davis was. "Bette Davis" was very clear. There was also a voice that seemed to sing "Tina." Could this be short for Christina?

We want to end this episode sharing a quote from the amazing Jessica Lange who portrayed Crawford in "Bette and Joan." Lange said, "[Joan's] brutal childhood was masked by the beautiful, impenetrable veneer of this great, gorgeous movie she was always on, which is a tremendous burden in and of itself, but always there was this thing lurking underneath of being this poverty-stricken, abused, unloved, abandoned young child and woman." We think her life really reflects this accessment. Is it possible that Joan Crawford's spirit is still lurking just beneath the living world? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, January 4, 2024

HGB Ep. 519 - Franklin Castle

Moment in Oddity - The Pando Tree of Utah (Suggested by: Michael Rogers with reference to Paul C. Rogers studies)

Approximately 1 mile southwest of Fish Lake in Utah one can find an extraordinary specimen of botany. This is the Pando tree. It spans approximately 106 acres and it is referred to as a singular tree although its entirety consists of over 40,000 individual trees. Pando, in Latin, means "I spread". This forest of trees emanates from an original single seed with new shoots emerging from its root system, essentially making each individual tree a clone of the original. So, relatively speaking, Pando is one giant organism weighing in around 13 million pounds. Pando's species of tree is known as the Quaking Aspen. Some Aspens produce asexually through spreading root systems where suckers emerge from the roots creating stands of trees that are genetically identical. Pando's specific age is difficult to calculate, but it is believed to have sprouted at the end of the last ice age. However, one thing is for sure, an astounding acreage of aspens all assembled from one single seed, certainly is odd. For a more detailed coverage of the Pando Tree of Utah, please use the link in the show notes to read Michael's Uncle's articles.

This Month in History - Wheel of Fortune Premiers

In the month of January, on the 6th, in 1975, The Wheel of Fortune premiered. The NBC daytime gameshow was originally hosted by Chuck Woolery and actor Susan Stafford who turned the letters. The show is one of the longest running syndicated gameshows in America. Created by Merv Griffin, The Wheel of Fortune was designed to combine roulette and Hangman. As most are familiar, contestants guess letters to solve the word puzzle. Since the show's creation, buying a vowel has remained a constant price at $250. In addition to being the longest running American gameshow, Wheel also boasts the longest running host. Pat Sajak, who will be retiring in September of 2024, has been hosting Wheel of Fortune since 1981. His co-host, Vanna White, has been working with Sajak since 1982. White recently re-upped her contract with the gameshow through the 2025-2026 season. Wheel has become such an iconic gameshow that phrases spoken by its contestants such as, "I would like to buy a vowel" and "I'd like to solve the puzzle" are a part of the American lexicon today.

Franklin Castle

Cleveland's Franklin Castle is not really a castle, but is actually a glorious Victorian mansion named for the street upon which it sits. The former Tiedemann residence is cloaked in rumors and innuendo that has lead to it famously being known as "The Most Haunted House in Ohio." Many people have passed through the doors here from bankers to smugglers to members of the German socialist party, mediums, investigators and priests. Tours and overnight stays are hosted and many guests claim that the moniker of "most haunted" is appropriate. Getting to the truth about this property isn't easy. Join us for the history and hauntings of Franklin Castle! 

The city of Cleveland was no stranger to wealthy families. And for good reason because the city was one of the five main oil refining centers in the U.S. and Standard Oil would get its start here. In Ep. 352, we featured Cleveland's Millionaire Row along Euclid Avenue. This is where most of the richest men in Ohio lived. Franklin Boulevard was known as the West Side's Euclid Avenue to give listeners an idea of the wealth of this street as well. A point of interest along this boulevard is the Franklin Circle Christian Church, which was built in 1878, but the congregation has had a presence here since 1848. One of the pastors in 1857 was James A. Garfield - yes, THAT James Garfield, future 20th president of the United States. 

The Franklin Castle has also been known as the Tiedemann House because that family were the original owners. Hannes (Hahn nez) Tiedemann was born in 1833 in Prussia. His father passed in 1846 and two years later, he emigrated to New York with his mother and five siblings. Tiedemann got work as a barrel maker in Royalton, Ohio in 1850 and he eventually moved to Cleveland where he worked as a clerk for a wholesale grocer. There he learned the business and in 1864, he joined forces with another man named John Christian Weideman and opened the wholesale grocery firm Weideman & Tiedemann. They were incredibly successful and Hannes became a rich man. Just two years before this, he married Luisa Hock and the couple would have six children. They moved into a house where the future Franklin Castle would be built in 1866. This house was known as Bachelor's Hall and had been owned by Alonzo Wolverton. Hannes' mother Wiebeka moved in with the family as well.

The Tiedemanns lost three children in infancy before 1873. Nearly every website about the hauntings at Franklin Castle claim that these three children died at the castle, but that is impossible because the castle wasn't built yet. Hannes added banker to his list of accomplishments in the 1880s and he decided to build a house fitting of his expanding position and wealth in the Cleveland community. The Franklin Castle was started in 1881 as designed by architects Cudell & Richardson in the Queen Anne Victorian style and took two years to complete. The exterior was made from sandstone with eighty windows and the house had four-stories and a corner tower. The interior featured twenty rooms, a ballroom and a wine cellar. Before the castle was completed the Tiedemanns' fifteen-year-old daughter Emma died. The story was that she passed from complications of diabetes, but some believe that something else happened here. Rumors circulated that she had hanged in the attic. It is claimed that she died in the castle, but we don't know if that is true since the house was completed. Perhaps they lived in part of it. Within a month, Hannes mother had passed away from natural causes. This is said to have been in the house too, but again, the castle wasn't completed. Deaths would continue in the family when Hannes' wife Luisa passed from liver disease in 1895 and she DID die in the castle. Depending on timing, it is possible that most members of the Tiedemann family died on the site since they lived in a house on the property before the castle was built, but the only confirmed death we know of in the house, was Mrs. Tiedemann.

As to whether Hannes was heartbroken by this development, we will never know, although he did sell the castle within a year of his wife's death, so clearly the mansion they shared lost its luster. Hannes is a tragic figure. He had six children and all of them passed in his lifetime. So he watched his entire family die before he passed. He was also said to be a generous man in the community. But the legacy of his life is clouded with rumors and innuendo that are perpetuated by nearly every article or show about the house.  There were stories that he wasn't a faithful husband and that he had carried on affairs with servants and other women in town. One tale claimed that Hannes had strangled a servant girl named Rachel because she intended to marry. None of these claims have any proof. Hannes married again shortly after his wife's death, but that marriage lasted only a year before they divorced. Hannes died in 1908 all alone. Hannes sold the castle to the Mulhauser family. The Mulhauser family lived in the castle for around seventeen years and they sold it to the German Socialist Party in 1913. This development would spark more rumors that can't be verified about the mansion. Nazis were harbored here and there are claims that around twenty people were killed in the house over political disagreements. Clearly, there could have been Nazi sympathizers here based on ownership, but as to murders, there is no proof. The German Socialist Party promoted this as a culture center and it continued that way until 1968.

The house was sold to the Romano family in 1968 and there were so many weird things happening in the house that they had a priest come in and conduct an exorcism. Apparently this didn't work and the family was gone by 1974 and the house would begin passing through many owners. Sam Muscatello was the next owner and he embraced the haunted reputation growing around the castle. He opened it to tours and ghost hunts and he embellished the legends of the house claiming that there were secret tunnels and passageways and that he found bones. Many people believe he planted the bones himself. Sam sold the house to a doctor who quickly sold to Richard Hongisto, the Cleveland police chief at the time. He and his wife only managed a year in the castle before selling to George Micerta who also opened the house to tours. He got the house placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. 

In the mid-1980s, Michael DeVinko, Judy Garland's last husband, bought the castle and he renovated it so that he could use it for social events. He managed to find the original blueprints and front door key! Michelle Heimburger was the next to try her hand at ownership, but her dreams of restoration were put out by a fire in 1999. She didn't have the funds to repair it, so she sold to a group of people who wanted to turn it into a club called the Franklin Castle Club and that lasted until 2006. Then the castle sat abandoned for a few years. In 2011, Oh Dear Productions, LLC bought the castle with plans to live on the fourth floor ballroom and open the bottom floors to run as an art gallery. There were other plans put out that the house was going to be broken into apartments. The last thing we found in regards to ownership of the mansion was that the company named Oh Dear Productions, LLC was merged out of existence and the current owners are named Kitt and Pascal. We think they owned Oh Dear Productions. They have been renovating the castle for nearly a decade and had rented out space to New York record company, Norton Records. That company was named for Ed Norton of "The Honeymooners" and has been finding and selling obscure rock and roll music for over forty years. A creepy website has been built that invites people to tour and stay overnight.

Many of the legends about the castle are untrue, but rumors of paranormal activity at the Franklin Castle have lead to its reputation as one of the most haunted houses in the United States. And there really does seem to be a lot of activity here. People report disembodied footsteps, doors opening and closing on their own and lights flickering off and on. The incidents that sparked the Romano family to seek religious help included organ music that would play on a regular basis throughout the house even though the family didn't own an organ. And shortly after moving in, the Romano children came down to the kitchen for snacks of cookies and asked if they could take a cookie up to the little girl crying upstairs. Mrs. Romano dashed upstairs and found no little girl, but the children insisted that a little girl had been up there and that she had been crying. Throughout their tenure, the Romano children would continue to claim that they played with ghost children in the house. Could these have been the Tiedemann children who had died in childhood and managed to find their way into the house that their family had later built? The priest who performed the exorcism claimed that the house harbored evil spirits.

Other ghostly sightings are connected to unfounded legends. A woman in black is thought to be the servant Rachel that Tiedemann supposedly murdered. There was a claim that he had also murdered a niece whom he caught in bed with one of his grandsons. She was supposedly only thirteen-years-old. Her spirit has identified as Karen and many people have claimed to interact with her. Websites claim that 12 baby corpses were found in a secret tunnel, but clearly newspapers would have picked up on this story, so it is unfounded. A doctor had lived in this house for a while and these were babies he experimented on, at least according to rumors. One of the creepiest stories was told by a radio host back in the 1970s. He was at the castle to do a special broadcast and he brought a tape recorder with him. As he walked up the staircase, the tape recorder was ripped from his arms and thrown down the stairs. That was unnerving enough, but when he started to played back the tape that he had recorded the special into, a strange sinister laugh could be heard throughout the entire broadcast. This wasn't something that was heard audibly during the broadcast. BTW, this was a Halloween special.

Many paranormal TV shows have featured this location. Paranormal Lockdown was there in 2016, Ghost Adventures was there in March of 2020 and The Holzer Files was there in November 2020. Nick Groff said that he felt as though whatever was in the castle was feeding off their energy or taking it from them. They caught a disembodied voice telling them to "Get out!" The Holzer Files visited the castle because Hans Holzer visited the castle when the Romano family lived there. Holzer actually visited three times and every time, his equipment malfunctioned. He always took medium Sybil Leek with him and she couldn't get a reading at the house before she and Hans had to leave. Hans called it "a frightful place filled with souls." The only thing left behind of the investigations was one reel of tape. The tape features Hans simply interviewing the family about their experiences. He wasn't trying to collect any paranormal evidence at the time and yet, there is the voice of a little girl on the tape. Supposedly, there was no little girl in the room at the time of the recording. 

Medium Cindy Kaza picked up on a woman who wanders the house and she was hearing that the kids were suffering and the kids were crying quite a bit. Then she did her trademark automatic writing. She picked up that this isn't a regular haunting and there was something like black magic or Satanic rituals and she felt very nauseous. Cindy had to get out. Equipment supervisor Shane Pittman went down into the basement and he was pushed by something he couldn't see and then later an ice-cold energy seemed to pass through him and it chilled him to his core. One of the Romanos' daughters, Dee, joined Dave Schrader for an interview. She was four-years-old when the family moved in and she clearly remembered playing with a little girl who lived in the house. She had blonde hair and wore a Victorian-era dress. She was never happy and was always crying. The little girl would say that she was waiting for her mother, so she seemed to feel abandoned. Dee said that her mom had rented out the fourth floor to some college students and one day she found a spirit board up there. This possibly was what Cindy was picking up on. Dee also said that the third time Hans visited that her mother told him to get out and she remembered her being very upset for a couple months after that. He was never invited back. In the end, the legends were debunked and the crew felt they had communicated with Emma for sure.

Historian Bill Krejci (Kree chee) lived in the castle during the winter and he hosted the crew from Ghost Adventures. We liked this guy. He was clearly angry about Hannes being dragged through the mud and most of these stories started in the 1980s because of a medium. She claimed that Hannes told her that he had murdered several people and where he committed these acts. Zak got argumentative with the guy and he clearly wanted to believe that Hannes killed somebody and hid the body in the wall. Zak went on to excitedly claim that he had heard another story connected to the family that Hannes and Luisa's son Carl had committed suicide in 1929 by jumping off a bridge. This was after the historian told him that all the Tiedemann children died before Hannes who died in 1908. On top of that, there was no son named Carl. A simple search revealed that Carl was the grandson of Hannes and the son of August. We don't know why Carl did this. A newspaper article does reveal the bizarre circumstances, but we don't think it was due to some curse on the family or the castle.

Zak also talked about the fire that happened when Michelle Heimberger owned the place. A man had set multiple fires inside and claimed he was trying to destroy the evil spirits inside. A former resident of the home named Helen Mirceta told Zak that she was pushed down the second floor stairs multiple times. She said she felt depressed and sad in the castle and she felt much better after they moved out. Her husband heard the cries of babies inside the walls. They placed an old tape recorder in a closet to see if they could capture the sounds and they caught an EVP of an angry man and a girl screaming. There was the sound of slapping also. Zac Webb lived in the castle in the summer of 2018 and he said he had many vivid dreams of an elderly lady questioning him about a murder in the castle. The crew did experience an interesting interaction with the spirit box. They asked for a name and got "it's Richard." They asked how many spirits were in the castle and got "17." Another spirit identified itself as "Lester." Aaron felt some energy come up behind him and then the box said "run." A female voice said to "help Richard." They caught a weird shadow figure and Zak felt like something was trying to push him down some stairs, They felt like most of the haunting stuff was psychological.

There may have been liquor smuggling going on when the German club was here. Tour guides tell stories of having a secret passage way that kept popping open and this had once hidden a still. The first to report this was a tour guide back in 1975 and he told the story to the Plain Dealer and a picture was shared revealing the secret area. A paperboy was delivering a paper to the castle when he watched a woman in white come through the door and float towards him. A young female ghost has been seen standing at an upstairs window and this is thought to be Emma. 

Beth A. Richards and Chuck L. Gove wrote "Haunted Cleveland" in 2015 and they share some stories in there. (p. 21-25)

Franklin Castle is mired in false legends that continue to be perpetrated by investigators. The truth though is tragic enough to leave a psychic impression on the castle. Emma passed as a teenager and seems to be separated from her mom and unable to get to her even though Luisa died on the property too. Is the Franklin Castle haunted? That is for you to decide!