Thursday, April 25, 2024

HGB Ep. 535 - Berrima Courthouse and Haunts

Moment in Oddity - Crawfordsville Monster

In the fall of 1891 in Crawfordsville, Indiana there was an unidentified specter that brought dread and horror upon the town. The incident took place in the wee hours of the morning on the 5th of September. Two men were preparing their ice delivery wagon when they witnessed something unexplainable to them. The creature appeared to be about 18 feet long by 8 feet wide moving through the air with several pairs of fins. It was white in color and had no distinct shape or form. They reported there was a single flaming eye and that the creature made a plaintive wheezing sound. It is said that the men observed the entity for nearly an hour hovering three to four hundred feet in the sky before they left the area. Even a pastor and his wife reported observing the phenomenon. Shortly after the Pastor's experience was shared, the Keeley Institute for Inebriates reached out to the pastor and his wife suggesting they visit and receive treatment. There were multiple newspaper articles regarding the encounters, with the Crawfordsville Journal, the Indianapolis Journal and the Brooklyn Eagle reporting on the sightings. The local postmaster was deluged with letters, some of which stated that Judgement Day was near. Thankfully two eyewitnesses tracked the beast and discovered it was actually a flock of several hundred killdeer birds. It was determined that due to foggy conditions and newly installed electric city lights, the birds became disoriented, causing them to fly in a different manner than usual. However, there was also an alternative explanation for the apparition. This entailed a 'balloon parachute craze' caused by boys in the city, some of which supposedly sent cats up in the balloons. Many of us in our podcast group are avid bird watchers, but a story that is still publicized today about a large spectral entity comprised of a flock of birds, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - The Birth of Edward Everett

In the month of April, on the 11th, in  1794, orator Edward Everett was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts. He was a gifted young man with an insatiable appetite for knowledge. Everett graduated Harvard University after four years of study at just 17 years of age. He then served as a pastor in Boston and from there continued pursuing academic goals. Everett received his Ph.D. in Germany, becoming the first American to earn a German doctoral degree. Other career achievements included time spent as the President of Harvard, the Governor of Massachusetts, he was elected a United States Congressman and Senator as well as Ambassador to Great Britain and Secretary of State. One of his most memorable achievements however, was personally raising more than $69,000 for the Mount Vernon Ladies Association to purchase Mount Vernon. His lectures spanned from March 1856 until spring of 1861 and raised a third of the monies needed for the purchase of what he spoke of as "his Washington". Everett sent all the money earned from those audience filled lecture halls to the Ladies Association without keeping anything to cover his own travel expenses. Although his lifetime achievements were great, he is best remembered as the man who lectured at Gettysburg for two hours while Abraham Lincoln's speech was two minutes in length.

Berrima Courthouse and Haunts (Suggested by: Julie Burton)

The Berrima Courthouse in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales in Australia is a great example of colonial architecture. The courthouse was a necessity as the colony was built on convicts and many continued their wayward deeds. The village of Berrima itself was an important stop on the path from Sydney to Victoria and there were several hotels in the area. Many historic structures still remain and spirits just may be inhabiting them, including the ghost of Australia's first serial killer. Join us as we explore the history and haunts of Berrima, Australia!

Berrima is a small historic village in the heart of the Southern Highlands. The Highlands sit 68 miles southwest of Sydney and feature a luscious wine region. Berrima had once been the main town here and was initially meant to be the capital of the Southern Highlands. The Dharawal aboriginal people had lived along the coastal area here for centuries as hunter-fisher-gatherers. European settlers arrived in the early 1800s. Two of these people were James Harper and his wife Mary. James had been the police chief constable at Sutton Forest and he was the son of convicts. Mary herself was a convict. They bought a block of land in Berrima in 1832 and built the Surveyor General Inn in 1834 in the Georgian style. The inn remains today and is the oldest continuously licensed hotel in all of Australia. The name was a nod to Thomas Mitchell who was the Surveyor General of the colony of New South Wales from 1828 until his death in 1855. He was a larger-than-life character from Scotland. 

Despite nearly 20 other licensed inns opening up in Berrima, The Surveyor General Inn did very well and clearly outlasted all of them despite a downturn in travel when the railway caused Berrima to be bypassed. Motor cars brought the tourists back in the 1930s. By the 1960s, the place was fairly neglected and rundown and would have been demolished had it not been for residents making a push to get Parliament to pass a special Act to preserve the Inn and maintain it's historic license. Restoration was difficult as the inn had been built from sandstone that was badly weathered. The current owners are the Durney family and in 1997 they added an extension at the back of the inn to house a bistro. People claim that the inn is haunted. James Harper retired from the pub in 1839 and leased the business to recently widowed Ann Richards who owned a brewery at Goulburn and a general store in Berrima. She only hosted at the inn until 1840 when a Ralph Hush leased the place and he was replaced by William Taylor and his wife Mary in 1841. William had been a convict shipped to Australia after stealing sheep in 1832 and his wife Mary and daughter Lucy joined him the following year. Mary died in 1842 and William remarried to a woman named Bridget in 1844 and they would open the Crown Inn in 1844, which remains open in Berrima as Taylor's Crown Inn.

The ghost story featuring the Surveyor General Inn is connected to the Taylors. The Sydney Herald reported on June 13th 1842, "A considerable sensation has been felt by the inhabitants of this town, owing to the sudden death of Mrs. Taylor, landlady of the Surveyor General Inn. Mrs. Taylor was in apparent good health on the evening of the 7th-and was observed passing to and fro underneath the verandah of the inn-however about two am. Mr.  Taylor was awakened by her restlessness, and   asked her, " What was the matter," she replied, " Eh !" and never spoke afterwards having departed this life at 9 a.m. Mr. and   Mrs. Taylor had been married 30 years, and her sudden decease has been doubly felt by him-being nearly inconsolable ; it is to be hoped, the sympathy and attentions shewn to him by his friends and acquaintances, will so far succeed as to ameliorate his sorrows, for this lamented, but premature bereavement." The staff claims that Mary Taylor has returned to the Surveyor General in the afterlife. Her full-bodied apparition has been seen.

In 1835, James Harper built Harper's Mansion, which still sits on a hill overlooking the town and features one of the largest hedge mazes in the country. This was designed in the Georgian style and built from bricks made on site. The exterior was three bricks thick and the interior was two bricks thick. More than likely, the workforce was the same as those building the Berrima Courthouse and Gaol at the same time. The Harpers had six children with only three of them living into adulthood. One of the boys was only 2.5 years old when he walked into one of the immense fireplaces in the house. The other two more than likely passed from an illness like small pox at the ages of six and seven. Harper owned much of the land in Berrima and he died in 1845 heavily in debt. He had big hopes for Berrima and while many blocks of land had been sold to speculators, not much had been developed. The house is said to be haunted.

Dodger52 wrote on TripAdvisor, "The friend I was with had to quickly rush outside as she felt something strange that made her feel ill. Once outside she was OK, but was not prepared to go back in. She said she is very sensitive to phenomena. Apparently 3 children had died in the house over 100 yeas ago and 1 particularly gruesome death with a child dying when he fell into an open fire. So, the place is very interesting and worth a visit during their open days. It is historic over 135 years old and well restored and looked after." And there are indeed reports of haunting activity at the mansion. A Lady in White has made occasional appearances and psychics claim there are other spirits.

Governor Bourke visited Berrima in 1834 and he chose the site for the building of the courthouse. He laid the foundation stone in March of 1835 and sandstone was quarried from Church Hill. The roof was made from timber shingles, which was later replaced by slate. Immediate issues developed with the original architect and contractors and so construction was stalled until Mortimer Lewis was appointed as the Colonial Architect. He designed the courthouse in the Regency style with four Doric columns across the front. The interior had decorative plasterwork cornices and cedar mouldings and the courtroom was topped by a vast "greenhouse" type structure that allowed natural light to fill the interior. This was later replaced by skylights. The front entrance was bigger than it needed to be to inspire awe in all those who entered. Juror rooms were in both wings of the courthouse. There were also Housekeeper’s rooms, a dressing room for the staff, judge’s retiring room or chambers, an office for the Clerk of the Court and a Witness Room. Even with this new architect, issues continued and construction took until 1839 to be completed. Sub-standard workmanship left the roof leaking and water seeping into the foundation and major repairs were needed over the next 20 years. 

The courthouse opened with a salaried Police Magistrate and nine police constables. It served as a Court of Assizes from 1839 to 1846. Assize courts dealt with civil matters and criminal matters that were less serious. Although here in Berrima, murder cases were tried at the courthouse. The first trial by jury in Australia took place here. This was also where all public administration was handled, like the licenses for taverns and people selling wares. Convicts also got their assignments here. Community events like dances and concerts were also held in the building, along with meetings. During World War I, German officers were kept in cells in the courthouse as prisoners-of-war. The School of the Arts used the building in the 1930s. They would be followed by other organizations until the courthouse was closed in 1972. The Department of Public Works restored the building after that and tried to bring it back to its original state and that work was finished in 1976. The Berrima Courthouse opened as a museum that is owned by the New South Wales government and managed by a trust made up of local residents.

One of the most famous cases tried here was for Lucretia Dunkley and Martin Beech in 1843. The brutality of their crime shocked the entire colony. Lucretia had arrived in Australia as a convict who had been found guilty of serious crimes and sentenced to life in prison. She married Henry Dunkley in 1834 and the two had a farm near Gunning. In 1842, Henry hired paroled convict Martin Beech to work on the farm. Martin and Lucretia soon started an affair. In September of 1842, Henry went missing. Neighbors reported the behavior of Beech and Lucretia to the local magistrate and they were arrested with a paper reporting that Dunkley's disappearance "has turned out to be one of those deep laid preconcerted acts of human butchery, which occasionally take place to the disgrace of human nature."

Lucretia had confessed that Beech entered her and her husband's bedroom with a candle and axe and hit Henry in the forehead with the axe as he slept. Beech struck Henry two more times. The force was so great that it broke Henry's back. The two then put Henry's body in a sack and buried him in a hole and then cleaned the house. Despite the confession, the couple plead not guilty and were tried and found guilty and sentenced to hang.The judge said of Lucretia, "You, Lucretia - a name ill assorted with the adulteress and the murderer! - exhibited on your trial, a tone and manner, accompanied by language, which might well excite doubt of your kindred with the human species, and lead to the conviction that the Devil himself had, for a time, assumed the female form."

The pair were quickly executed. When Lucretia was hanged, her body ejected a fetus that she had apparently been impregnated with by Beech when the two shared a cell at the Berrima Gaol. Lucretia and Beech had their heads cut off after they were hanged and the bodies were buried standing up, so that they would never know any rest. Their skulls were sent off for scientific study in phrenology. Eleven years after that, the skulls were donated to the Australian Museum where they were put in boxes and still remain. The fetal skull had also been with them, but is believed to have disintegrated. This story is told in the courthouse with an audio and light show and creepy looking mannequins.

The old Berrima Gaol was built in 1835 by a pardoned convict named James Gough and John Richards. Convicts in leg irons did the work under the watchful eyes of red coated British garrisons. The gaol had walls of stone three feet thick and thirty feet high and three wings that were two-stories high. There was a central watchtower and 34 cells. This wasn't a place anyone wanted to be with harsh conditions. Cells were dark with solid cedar doors and prisoners were confined to them nearly all day. An underground floor had three solitary confinement cells and every prisoner had to spend time in them. Eventually, a larger gaol was built in another town and this became a place for mainly older and sick prisoners. The gaol closed in 1909 and then reopened in 1949 as the Berrima Training Center after extensive rebuilding. During World War I, this was an internment camp for German prisoners. The gaol was minimum security until 1970 when it was upgraded to medium security and remained that way until 2001. In 2001, the name was changed to Berrima Correctional Center and with that came a major change. For 166 years it had just been a gaol for men and now this would be a women's gaol. It closed again in 2011, but was reopened in 2016, finally closing for good in 2020.

There were two successful escape attempts from the gaol. Bushranger Larry Oummins crawled 400 yards down a drainpipe to the river. At the end he found a grate blocking his way and managed to break it out. The other escapee was named Mad Tom Can of Careoar. He had been sentenced to the gaol after stealing a horse. He made it over the gaol wall by making a hook out of a horseshoe and tying it to a homemade rope composed of strips of a chaff bag and throwing the hook up to the edge of the wall when the guard wasn't looking. Both men were recaptured.

The courthouse features history tours and ghost tours because the place is reputedly haunted. The APPI has experienced a variety of activity while conducting tours. They've heard disembodied footsteps, had doors unlatch themselves and creak open, seen full-bodied apparitions and even had doppelgangers. There has also been piano music heard and poltergeist activity moves objects around the property. During an investigation, APPI captured an EVP that said, "Free them all cops." (EVP Berrima) A police prosecutor was attacked in the male holding cell once when APPI was investigating. They have a video on their website and it really looks like something got this guy. Perhaps a spirit that knew he was a law man and wasn't happy about it. Johnny commented, "I spent a lot of time at this location. Had footsteps walk right up to and past me. Another time loud exhaling sounds. Also a tapping sound that use codes to communicate and it was always correct." 

They conducted a sensory deprivation experiment. A guest named Liz took part and she felt the air around her become very heavy and dense and then towards the end she ducked her head quickly and she explained that even though she had headphones on, she thought she heard a loud bang. And then she felt like something was on top of her. She shook uncontrollably for about 5 minutes after the experiment. The group also conducted a table tipping session in a cell and a guest named Helen started to feel her chair being tipped forward even though no one was behind her. And then she heard heavy breathing and felt very cold. Then she thought she heard someone say the name James or John and it seemed angry. She herself felt overcome with anger and had to leave the cell. Another guest named Andrea had visited the courthouse many time and she had the following experience. She was standing next to a basin in the Judge's quarters and she had her back to the door. The doorknob started rattling. And then the door opened, but everybody who was in the building was inside the room, so who opened the door? A short time later, the door to the vanity under the basin opened by itself.

There are thought to be several spirits here. One is referred to as Pale-faced Paddy Curran. Patrick Curran had been indicted for raping a woman named Mary Wilmore in 1841. Her husband had been away and Curran accosted her when she went out for some wood and he held a knife to her throat. The jury found him guilty. He was also indicted for being an accomplice to a Patrick Berry who shot a constable named Patrick McGuire. They both beat him too. The jury deliberated for about a quarter of an hour and found Curran guilty of that crime as well. He was sentenced to death. He is seen flitting through the pine trees on dark nights.

Another ghost is referred to as the abominable John Lynch, who was said to be the most callous murderer in Australia's history. And he was a horrible man. He would go from simple thievery to serial killer. Lynch was born in Ireland in 1812. When he was nineteen-years-old, he was tried and convicted of "obtaining goods under false pretences" in 1831. He was sent the colony of New South Wales and arrived in October 1832. Lynch was assigned to work at the Oldbury Farm and by 1836, he and another man named John Williamson were tried for the murder of another assigned servant on the farm named Thomas Smith. That man's body was found in the hollow of a fallen tree about a mile from the convict huts at the farm. There were two heavy pieces of wood nearby covered in blood and human hair. The case rested on a witness who wasn't found to be credible and Lynch was found not guilty. Lynch later confessed that he did kill the man. He was put on a chain gang and later turns up in 1839 having reported being stabbed by three other convicts who were sentenced to death. Those sentences were commuted to being sent to a penal settlement. It later came out that Lynch was bragging about how he got three men transported from the colony, but in actuality he had stabbed himself to get revenge on them for something. 

Lynch escaped and committed the Razorback murders in which he killed a young aboriginal boy and a man named Edmund Ireland with a tomahawk. He stole their stuff and headed towards Berrima where he committed the Fraser murders. This was a father and son and Lynch again used the tomahawk and stole their stuff. In Berrima, he hit the Mulligan Farm and killed John Mulligan and his de facto wife Bridget Macnamara and her two children. One of them was Mary who was only 13 and Lynch violated her before murdering her. He then piled the bodies up and burned them and then squatted on the property for six months. As papers related, the sickest thing about this guy was that "he -always prayed to the Almighty for aid before committing his killings."

His final murder would be his undoing. He met a 27-year-old man named Kearns Landregan along the road in February 1842. He asked the young man to come with him to Berrima to do some fencing and so they traveled together. They camped near the Ironstone Bridge about seven miles from Berrima. The morning of February 20th, Lynch hit Landregan on the back of the head with the tomahawk twice. He dragged the body into the brush and decided to come back later to bury it. The next day, a labourer was passing by and found the body and reported it in Berrima. A publican named John Chalker told the authorities that he had seen the dead man in the company of John Lynch. The two had dinner at his establishment. He later went with the police to identify John Lynch. Lynch was arrested and indicted for Landregan's murder. And then more people came forward and before long, the authorities realized they had a multi-murderer on their hands. The Sydney Herald said of Lynch, "We doubt whether there ever existed in this Colony a man so deep in crime as this man, and yet his appearance is not in the least such as would lead one to suppose he was a murderer." Lynch was a good-looking guy who only stood 5 foot 3 inches tall. Lynch was tried in the Berrima Courthouse on March 21, 1842 and found guilty of Landregan's murder. He was sentenced to hang. Lynch had killed at least ten people, so this was justice for all of them. Before the trap door swung down ending Lynch's life, he did a little step-dance for the crowd.

A third spirit here is said to be Lucretia Dunkley and she appears as a headless apparition. Martin Beech's spirit is here as well, missing his head too. Paranormal investigator Judy Kemme and psychic June Cleeland are part of Southern Highlands Ghost Hunts and Investigations. Kemme told The Sydney Morning Herald, "You can never guarantee paranormal activity is going to happen, but I've never had it not happen in here. We've heard doors slamming, voices, and you'll probably feel the presence as you go in." She pointed to the jail next door and said, "People were hanged just over there, and the bodies were buried standing up just inside that wall. So you never know who's going to be hanging around." Cleeland definitely feels like Lucretia is haunting the courthouse. She told the paper, "This is one of the most haunted places I've been in. Some of them, like Lucretia, are not really aware most of time. She's lost in her own anger, bitterness and resentment. But there are others that will stand giggling, watching you, and they want to do things, make noises. Others are sort of passing through."

Berrima has a long history in Australia and many firsts for the colony happened in this little village. Are there spirits of killers walking the streets and hanging out in the buildings? Are these locations in Berrima haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, April 18, 2024

HGB Ep. 534 - Haunted Cemeteries 29

Moment in Oddity - The Tower of London Hand

Sometimes a disembodied hand is just a disembodied hand that may be looking for its body. Or maybe it's Thing from the Addams Family. Or perhaps it could be the representation of something that is lore with a touch of the historical, as it is at The Tower of London. The Tower of London is one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites and is a historic castle located on the River Thames in London, England. Originally constructed as a defensive fortress, the Tower is now an iconic landmark beckoning tourists from all over the world. The first building that visitors encounter here is Byward Tower. Prior to passing through its archway and hidden in plain view, is a foggy brick of glass built right into one of the drum towers. Resting just behind the glass is a macabre sight, a human hand. Although it is artificial, it is enough to give some tourists the heebie jeebies! Lore has it that due to the Byward Tower having been the main entry to the castle, visitors were required to place their hand within the hole and speak a password to gain entry. If the word uttered was incorrect then the potential intruder would have their hand chopped off then and there! Although the Yeoman Warders who currently guard the castle are not sure of the hands' origin or purpose, the sight of a disembodied hand encased in the wall of a medieval castle certainly is odd.

This Month in History - ANZAC Day

In the month of April, on the 25th, in 1915, 70,000 soldiers from the Allies landed at Gallipoli marking the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during World War I. Great Britain had declared war on Germany after it invaded Belgium in 1914, bringing their Commonwealth realms into the war. The objective of this military action was to drive through Istanbul and take out Turkey. This would allow Russia to get its supply lines through to help them fight Germany. The Allies weren't successful and a stalemate resulted that lasted eight months before the Allies withdrew. There were heavy casualties on both sides. 20,000 of those 70,000 troops were from the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps, also known as ANZAC. April 25th formally became ANZAC Day in 1916 to commemorate victims of war and recognize the role of armed forces for the countries. This was officially declared by Acting Australian Prime Minister George Pearce and carries on a tradition of courage, endurance and mateship.

Haunted Cemeteries 29 

It wasn't until the nineteenth century that it occurred to people that cemeteries could make great parks. A movement carried over from France and swept the nation and garden cemeteries were founded in every state. These became gathering places for family picnics and settings for long, peaceful walks enveloped in the shade of countless varieties of trees. Several of these cemeteries are not as peaceful as they could be, with spirits roaming about after dusk. In this episode, we share the history and hauntings of cemeteries in Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Mississippi, Indiana and Colorado.

Cave Hill Cemetery

Cave Hill Cemetery is located in Louisville, Kentucky. This is the largest cemetery in Louisville and many claim that it is the most beautiful cemetery in Kentucky. This is a 296 acre burial ground located at 701 Baxter Avenue that is not only an arboretum, but it's the final resting place of Muhammad Ali and Colonel Sanders. Cave Hill was chartered in 1848 on a rural property known as Cave Hill Farm. Garden cemeteries were the rage in the late Victorian era and Louisville wanted their own, so they hired Edmund Francis Lee to lay out the design. There were lakes and ponds and hills and winding paths. Beargrass Creek runs through the middle and is fed from a cave for which the cemetery is named. There are 500 varieties of trees on the property, some of which have won awards. William Johnston had owned the land and his farmhouse that still stood on the property was turned into what was called a pesthouse, a place for people with contagious diseases to be locked away from the public. That was demolished in 1872 and replaced by Beechhurst Sanitarium that was open until 1936 when it too was demolished.

The Italian Renaissance Revival entrance and main gate was added in 1880. Another entrance was added on Baxter Avenue and this featured Corinthian styling with a clock tower that held a 2,000 pound bell. Apparently, this got hit by lightning alot as it was the tallest structure around for years. There are over 120,000 internments. Over 250 Confederate soldiers are buried, one of whom was Brigadier General Alpheus Baker. The founder of Louisville, George Rogers Clark was buried here after being exhumed in 1869 from another cemetery. A friend of his, Judge John Rowan, said at his funeral, "The mighty oak of the forest has fallen, and now the scrub oaks sprout all around." Meriwether Lewis Clark, the grandson of the famous explorer, has his plot here. Well known burials here include the sisters who created the Happy Birthday song, Patty and Mildred Hill. The founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, Colonel Harlan Sanders, died in 1980. He developed his secret recipe for breading chicken and cooking it in a pressure fryer in 1940 when he was 50-years-old. He was buried in his trademark white suit and black western string tie. His second wife joined him at Cave Hill in 1996. One of the greatest American boxers of all time, Muhammed Ali, was buried at Cave hill when he passed in 2016.

There are many unique memorial graced with sculptures. Saundra Twist, a mom of three kids, had once been a fashion model and so an elegant statue graces her plot with a stone tablet sharing the story of her career. The grave of three-year-old Samantha Ann McDonald has a birdbath and a sculpture titled "Jesus Is My Swingset." Her likeness sits on a wooden plank suspended by ropes and a rendition of Jesus stands behind her gripping the ropes. Little Samantha passed when she accidentally rode her trike into the family swimming pool and drowned. The lyrics to "Jesus Loves Me" are carved into stones on either side of the sculpture. Harry Leon Collins was known as the Frito-Lay Magician because he had been a salesman for the company and then became a full-time Frito-Lay corporation magician. His plot fetaures him in a tuxedo with his cape tossed over a box, more than likely filled with props. This sculpture creeps people out a bit because of the hollow eyes. It's not haunted, but other areas of the cemetery have strange things happening. Dusk seems to bring the haunts out at Cave Hill. People claim that green orbs have been seen floating in the cemetery at night. A female apparition is seen. No one knows who she is, but she tends to the graves of children. Disembodied whispers are heard, especially near the graves of Civil War soldiers.

Maple Park Cemetery

Maple Park Cemetery is located at 300 W. Grand Street in Springfield, Missouri. The burial ground was founded in 1876 after residents complained that the city cemetery, called Hazelwood, was too far outside of town to make it convenient to visit loved ones' final resting places. That cemetery was four miles from downtown Springfield at the time. Six businessmen heard the complaints and they formed an association that founded a not-for-profit cemetery. The cemetery was filled with maple tree plantings and that is where the name originates. The land where the cemetery sits was owned by the Campbell family and they had a fruit farm there, along with a house. The property was originally 200 acres and L.A. Campbell sold 30 acres to an agricultural association. This was used as a fairgrounds for awhile  and then it was sold to the cemetery association. The most distinctive item in the graveyard is the historic gazebo. No one is sure what it dates to, but it is thought it was a part of the fairgrounds. This features an onion dome cupola and designs near the roof featuring horseshoe-shapes, a four-leaf clover and cross designs. Visitors to the cemetery have claimed to see shadow figures, particularly near a mausoleum. Sometimes these figures have more detail to them, but when approached, they disappear. A little girl ghost has been seen playing amongst the tombstones. This is an intelligent haunting as she is aware of people and her surroundings. The gazebo occasionally features music...and it's not because a band is playing there.

Red Oak Presbyterian Cemetery

Red Oak Presbyterian Church is a historic church in the old river town of Ripley, Ohio. The church isn't fancy - just a little knock-about-place. Doesn't really look like a church. Interestingly, it has two separate doors on the front and no one knows why. Theories include, a door for women and one for men or possibly one for whites and for one blacks, being that this is an old church. One thing that gives away that this is a church is the cemetery behind it. The congregation was founded in 1798 and the building was constructed in 1817. The cemetery not only includes members from the church, but pioneers from the area. The most well known person buried here is Rosa Washington Riles who passed away in 1969. You may not recognize that name, but you probably recognize the name "Aunt Jemima." She was a member of the church until she left town in her mid-thirties to work as a cook for an executive from the Quaker Oats Company. The original Aunt Jemima had been Nancy Green and when she passed in 1923, the company needed other women to take on the role. So Riles became Aunt Jemima in the 1950s. A pancake breakfast in honor of Riles is hosted every year by the church to raise funds to maintain the old cemetery. The church also paid for Riles headstone.

The cemetery here is supposedly crazy haunted. Two log houses served as church buildings in the early years, but both burned down, the last one because it was hit by lightning. That lightning hit a tree in the cemetery too. That killed the tree, at least for a little while. A few years later, it started to regrow. And then, it was hit by lightning a second time. Just before the church had it cut down, it showed signs of life again. The church started calling this the Resurrection Tree. A person wrote of the cemetery, "It is one of the most eerie cemeteries I have ever visited. My son was three at the time and had no idea where we were. He just liked the headstones. But then there was this one day. He kept talking to someone and he started dancing on a headstone buried in the ground. I told him to stop and that we did not step on them. He said, "But she did it." I asked, "Who did what?" He answered, "The mom." WTF? I asked him to tell me what he was talking about. Who was he talking to? He said her name was Anna. Um, okay. I'll play along. "Who is Anna and what is she telling you?" He said, "She said her mom did it and she's sad." "Her mom did what?" He said, "She killed her. She killed all of them." What? He didn't even know what a cemetery was at that time. I started looking at the gravestone he was dancing on and it was a woman. There was also a 5 foot tall monument with a lot of names and dates on it. One name was Anna. There were 5 or 6 other names and dates. They were all the children of that woman. All of them died before they were five. (Born in the 1800s) Now, he couldn't read yet, nor did he know we were in a place where dead people were buried. Call it a coincidence, but I think that little girl told him that her mom killed her and all of her siblings. Creepy shit. I never took him back there with me again."

Chapel of the Cross, Madison Mississippi (Suggested by: Chelsea Flowers)

Chapel of the Cross Cemetery is located at 674 Mannsdale Road in Madison, Mississippi. This is attached to the church for which it is named. The Johnstone family came from North Carolina to Mississippi in the 1820s and bought land. John T. Johnstone bought 524 acres where the Chapel sits today. There was a log cabin already on the property and he enlarged it for his family and named it Annandale. That had been the name of his ancestral home in Scotland. The family had moved into the cabin in 1841 and just seven years later, John was dead at the age of forty-seven. His wife Margaret buried him in the flower garden of the log cabin home. John had wanted to build a church here and Margaret went forward with that plan. She hired architect Frank Wills and he designed a Gothic Revival church with a lofty bell tower, tall narrow windows, and arched entrances. The church was built from bricks made by slave labor from river bottom clay. The interior featured hand-hewn wood and pews and chancel furnishings were imported through a furniture dealer in New Orleans. The baptismal font was cut from three pieces of imported Italian stone and the pipe organ was shipped from Philadelphia. The original bell was melted down by Confederate forces to make bullets during the Civil War. The church has undergone extensive renovations and is home to an Episcopalian congregation. Located behind the church is the cemetery.

Rodney Mooney heads up the Wandering the Pines of Mississippi account on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube and Chelsea shared this post in the Crew, "The following is a true story most have never heard & likely won’t find anywhere else, at least, not in its entirety. Thank you Leslie Miller, guide for Mont Helena in Rolling Fork, MS, for introducing me it. This story strengthened my resolve to record our MS stories & share them for hopes of preserving our state’s great history before it’s lost.  I have a lot of ideas for how I’m going to preserve these stories that I’ll share with you in the future, but in the meanwhile, brace yourselves for a small sample of one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever heard… It’s Christmas, 1855. 16 yr old, Helen Johnstone, is celebrating with family at her sister’s house when there is a knock at the door. She answers it to find the very handsome Henry Vick, from the same family that settled Vicksburg, so think of him as a MS prince. Though, we must then also see Helen as our MS princess as well; her family was very well off & established much of MS as well; her bloodlines went back to some major Scottish clan roots… As Helen answered the door, Henry explains that he was traveling from Nita Yuma when his wagon became stuck in the mud and a wheel spike had broken. While he was looking for help, he found more than he bargained for at that doorstep; it was love at 1st sight. Helen begged her parents for Henryto be allowed to stay until they fixed the wagon.  A few days later & before he could leave, Henry asked Helen’s widowed mother for permission to marry her daughter. Helen’s mother agreed but only until she had time enough to build them a house, later to be named Annandale, once near present Madison, MS (to later be known as the most beautiful gem in the South before it burned). She also did this to protect her daughter, to give them a longer engagement, being Helen was only 16. Two years pass, the house is almost complete, so Henry & his friends accompany him to New Orleans, so he can buy a suit for the wedding.  It was to be the wedding of MS royals after all & was to be a wedding for the ages! There are 2 stories as to what happens next: it is said that Henry had a run in with someone over land; however, the following is the story that I feel is more accurate after further research.  One of Vick’s accomplices, in some accounts referred to as a Mr. Stith, on the trip to NO became angered when he fell off his horse after trying to get on it; he blamed it on Henry’s man servant not saddling it correctly. Stith said if Henry didn’t beat the manservant himself, he’d do it himself. Henry protected his man servant, siding with him over his friend, angering the man further. After a heated conversation & needing to be separated, things seemed to have cooled down, or so Henry thought. They made it to NO, bought the suit, & were celebrating at a bar, when Stith, still angry, approached Henry. Stith demanded a duel with pistols. Henry then denied the request as Helen had explicitly requested that Henry never do such a thing before he left.  She couldn’t bare to lose the love of her life nor the thought of him taking the life of another. However, at this refusal, Stith declared to all in the bar that by not agreeing to a duel, his entire family name, Vick, would be tarnished & he would “no longer be known as a gentleman of honor.”  Would the city of Vicksburg have to change its name?  For shame!  Apparently, this threat was enough. Honor was held in much higher regard back then. Henry agreed to the duel, but dueling was illegal. They found a field, hidden away all the way out in Mobile, Alabama, where they thought was private to have the duel. Being the gentleman, after walking their 10 paces, Henry turned but fired a shot straight up into the air. After all, he promised Helen not to kill a man.  Unfortunately, Stith did not miss, hitting Henry right between the eyes, killing him on the spot.  As police were made aware of the duel & closing in, Henry’s friends gathered the body, hid it in a box with coffee grounds to mask the smell, & sent it on a train with the caterers delivering food to the wedding, none all the wiser that the groom was dead in a box with them. Henry’s friends were unable to get word to Helen about her fiancĂ©’s death due to the illegality of the dueling & being pursued by police, so unawares, Helen & her mother were still decorating the newly built church, the Chapel of the Cross in Madison, for the wedding. Waiting for her fiancĂ© to arrive, the joyous mood turned to despair, as her husband’s body arrived instead.  Instead of a wedding, they had a burial on their wedding day.  She wore her wedding gown, & all with lanterns to light the way, buried Henry Vick in his new suit in the Johnstone family plot. It is said that Helen would not leave & stayed nearby, sitting on the cold iron bench, rain or shine, beside his grave, wailing, crying, & talking to him for months until her mother took her away to visit family in Scotland. Years passed, Helen returned to MS, & married a reverend & soon had children.  They all lived happily at Mont Helena in Rolling Fork, MS, built atop an old ceremonial mound. She is said to have had a happy family life for the remainder of her years… However,… perhaps Helen & Henry’s love story did not end as many suspect.  I was made privy to a new wrinkle to the story… Her husband, the reverend, had passed, & Helen was on her deathbed at the top of Mont Helena.  I was told that her mother was at her bedside, when Helen looked up & smiled. With her last breaths, Helen said, “Mama.. do you see him?  It’s Henry… I see him coming in his carriage to take me home.”  There are also other stories of sightings of Helen’s ghost still haunting Henry’s graveside, sitting on the same iron bench.  Whether or not you believe they are reunited in the afterlife… No matter if her last words & present haunts are true,… the love story between the bride of Annandale & Henry Vick was real. And,… I like to think that by remembering & retelling this tale, they ARE united again, their story preserved, & their love, immortal. - Quick note: when visiting Henry’s grave at the Chapel of the cross, I was in respectful silence & admiration, when out of nowhere, a ray of sunlight broke through the leaves in the trees, passed over Helen’s bench, & illuminated the cross atop Henry’s tombstone.  It was brilliant."

Justus Cemetery

Justus Cemetery is located at 805 S. Howard Street in Oxford, Indiana. There are around 1200 burials here. Burials have taken place since 1808, but the cemetery wasn't officially established until 1840. The first burial after that was for James McConnell on March 11, 1840. One of the burials here is connected to a tragic story. Two 13-year-old boys named Marvin Mounce and Carol Albertson were buried here after they drowned trying to save the young sister of Marvin, Coleen. It seems Coleen was wading in the shallow water when she stepped off into a deep hole. The boys were fishing and came running when they heard Marvin and Coleen's mother screaming. Neither boy could swim, but Marvin jumped in, while Carol grabbed a pole for Marvin to grab onto. Carol slipped into the hole trying to rescue Marvin. Both boys went under and never surfaced, but Coleen bobbed to the surface and was pulled out by some people who had come running to the scene and she was revived and saved. Marvin and Carol were recovered a little later and their funeral was held at Carol's house. Carol was buried at Justus and Marvin was buried at Boswell Cemetery in Boswell, Indiana. 

The ghost story here has nothing to do with the boys. This story begins with the water tower in Oxford. The night was cold and blustery and the train was making its way along the Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad. It made its normal stop at the water tower to take on water. Crew members were trying to stay warm as they did their work when they suddenly heard a deep, echoing moan rising from the tower. But it wasn't just the crew that heard the noise. The passengers did as well. As the noise continued, a glowing white figure appeared and drifted towards the train. The crew members stood frozen to their spots and none of the passengers dared to breathe. And then a passenger screamed, followed by another passenger screaming. This woke the crew out of their stupor and they quickly packed in their stuff, but before they could leave, they watched as the spirit made its way to Justus Cemetery and disappeared into a grave. A few nights later, the train experienced another strange thing. It had stopped for water at the tower again. The crew finished up without any issues, but as the train tried to pull away, the wheels just spun around and the train went nowhere. The train seemed to be held back by something. The panicked crew felt the train break free and it lurched forward. They decided to not stop at the Oxford water tower ever again.

Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs

Evergreen Cemetery is located at 1005 S. Hancock Avenue in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It was established in 1871 and covers 220 acres. This was two miles from the town and founded initially under the name Mountain Home Cemetery by Colorado Springs founder General William Jackson Palmer. The name was changed to Evergreen in 1877. This has been city owned and operated since 1875 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993. A small chapel in the cemetery was built in 1910 and the basement vault could hold up to 30 bodies during the winter when the ground was frozen. A special mechanism would lift the caskets up. Burials continue still and there are over 100,000 currently. Notable burials include pioneers of Colorado Springs including Palmer, mine owners, astronaut Dale Gardner and Roy Rogers comical sidekick Pat Brady. Stephanie Westerfeld was an American figure skater who was flying to the World Championships in Prague in 1961 aboard Sabena Flight 548 when it crashed. Her sister Sharon was also on the plane and both were killed. Stephanie was 17 and Sharon was 25.

The chapel seems to be the scene of most of the haunting activity. Strange, unexplained noises have been reported and dark figures have been seen inside near the casket lifting device. A woman was visiting when she reported feeling a cold blast go through her as she was going down the stairs of the chapel. She felt extremely uncomfortable. Another woman experienced the same thing and said the cold blast felt negative. In April of 2011, Biography Channel's "My Ghost Story" ran an episode with a segment called "Tale of a Crypt" that featured Evergreen Cemetery. Will DeBoer worked as the cemetery manager for 19 years and he hosted walking tours where he would take people inside the chapel. Michael Coletta was another tour guide. They both appeared on the show. Michael said he had a group out in the cemetery at night when they saw a figure fly through the cemetery. The figure was described as moving cat-like and was five feet in length. Michael has used an K-2 Meter in the crypt and gotten readings. The crypts each have 100-year old wooden doors that are very heavy and the insides have slate shelves. Michael was videotaping down there when his skin started crawling and he turned around and caught on tape one of the doors opening on its own. Wind couldn't move the door. Michael circled the door to show that there were no wires or anything. He backed away from the crypt and door and the door started to close very slowly. Michael called a local radio station and showed them the video and invited them to help him try to debunk it. They tried pushing on the doors to make them swing open and they needed a lot of force to do that.

Synchronicity: Diane was watching the My Ghost Story episode and it went into the second segment about a haunted house in Fort Scott, Kansas. Crazy place where a man hacked up his wife in the basement and another man shot himself with a shotgun on the porch. The couple that lived there and shared their experiences saw an apparition, heard disembodied voices talking to their young daughters at night when they slept and had investigators catch activity in the basement including a shadow figure on video that gave me chills. It ended with the wife and their three children moving out and leaving the husband to deal with stuff. Diane wanted to know more, so she Googled the husband's name and as of 2020, the couple was still together as their names appeared together in the obituary for his father. She then saw another link via Facebook for a man with same name as husband and he lives at Fort Riley, Kansas. Our previous episode featured Fort Riley.

Grace Robertson wrote on Quora five years ago, "We were driving back we would pass this old little Catholic cemetery. It was very neat looking, meaning that people would come out and take care of the graves. This was in Poteet, it is dry and dusty. Red sand, just dusty. When we would drive by this cemetery there would be little lights on the graves, on top of the headstones just everywhere. All different color lights. These lights were not lighting bugs. There were pink, red, yellow, green. blue little lights. There was no marsh or water, the sunlight was not dancing off the headstones and grounds. Some of these headstones where old wooden crosses and dull white ones. This one was closer to us. If we were to take the long way to the cemetery it would be a half of mile. There was a lot of strange going on there. We would have to drive pass that cemetery to get to our home. We would see shadows there walking about. There would be fog that would surround the cemetery, it would look like a gate of fog. Every thing else would be clear, very clear but that fog would surround the small cemetery. Again you would see corpse lights, will of the wisp just hovering there. If they were lighting bugs they wouldn’t just stay at one spot. Sometimes when you would drive home late at night there would be a shadow darting across the road. There were plenty of accidents because of the shadows. 

 That graveyard was over run with weeds, there was trash and couples would go there to have their alone time. This little cemetery was being so disrespected that we decided to “adopt” a piece of the graveyard, maybe inspired someone to take care of it. There was a lot of graves that were very old. My daughter and I pick a grave, and we started pulling weeds and trying to clear a spot to put a vase of flowers that we got at our local HEB. We were talking, bonding and just was having a pleasant time. All of a sudden we heard footsteps, we didn’t pay it any mind. We weren't doing anything wrong, when all of a sudden we noticed that we couldn’t hear anything. No cars whizzing by, no birds, or insects, nothing. It was as if we were in a dome, the air pressure got heavy but we could still hear those footsteps. I felt something between my daughter and me. It was cold. My daughter was about to say something but I shush her. I handed her my car keys, and she knew what she was supposed to do. When she got in, I turned to where I felt the cold spot and said that I understand that you wanted to see what we were doing. We meant no disrespect. We are leaving now and you are to stay here and not follow us nor bother us. I then slowly and deliberately began walking to my car. I took a bottle of cold water and put some on the back of my neck and then toss some water behind my shoulders my daughter did the same."

Cemeteries are so beautiful and peaceful. Many of these provide a wonderful place to enjoy a picnic with family, even the deceased members. Some of these cemeteries have some weird things occurring. Are these cemeteries haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, April 11, 2024

HGB Ep. 533 - Fort Riley

Moment in Oddity - The Rock and Roll Granny

Rock-and-Roll Granny isn't a label you hear very often. However this is the moniker that Cordell Jackson had been bestowed. She was born in 1923 in Mississippi and with her father's career as a musician, Cordell was taught guitar, double bass and piano from a young age. She started performing with her father's band and eventually began writing music and lyrics. In 1943 she married and moved to Memphis, Tennessee. She then began installing recording equipment in her new home so she could record herself as well as other local artists. One demo recording was of Sam Phillips who ended up creating Sun Records who became the label for icons like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison. In 1956, Cordell founded Moon Records label on the advice of RCA Records' Chet Atkins. She had been having a difficult time competing with male artists so this was a more effective way to get her music out to the world. Cordell wrote, engineered, produced and arranged her own music and soon she had recruited other performers like Allen Page, Earl Patterson and Johnny Tate. Primarily a solo artist, the 'rock and roll granny' would occasionally have a back up band. Cordell performed on shows like 'Late Night with David Letterman' and appeared in a Budweiser commercial featuring dueling guitars with Brian Setzer. She had a prolific musical career but only released one solo full length album titled 'Cordell Jackson-Live in Chicago', which was released in 1997. The 'rock and roll granny' died on October 14, 2004 of pancreatic cancer in her beloved home of Memphis, Tennessee.

This Month in History -  The Birth of Washington Irving

In the month of April, on the 3rd, in 1783, Washington Irving was born in Manhattan, New York. Irving was an American short-story writer, historian, biographer and diplomat. He was well known for his collection titled, The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent, which contained literary pieces like "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow". Irving began his career with an array of observational letters to the Morning Chronicle written under the pseudonym Jonathan Oldstyle. In 1815, he moved to England for a short time and that is where he first published The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. A few of his historical biographies included Muhammad, Oliver Goldsmith and George Washington. He also wrote several histories of 15th century Spain, covering topics like Christopher Columbus, and the Moors. in the 1840's Washington Irving served as an American Ambassador to Spain. He was one of the premier American writers to earn recognition in Europe, and he supported other writers like Longfellow, Herman Melville and Edgar Allan Poe. Irving championed writing as a legitimate profession and he worked to establish better laws to protect American writers from copyright infringement. Washington discovered Tarrytown, now known as Sleepy Hollow, during a yellow fever outbreak in Manhattan which had prompted his parents to send him up the Hudson river to stay with a friend. He fell in love with the area and would make several additional trips to the region. Washington Irving died of a heart attack in 1859, just eight months after finishing his Washington biography.

Fort Riley (Suggested by: Ed Jones)

Fort Riley sits on the north bank of the Kansas River near Junction City in Kansas. The military installation has a history that stretches back more than 150 years. Early on, the soldiers' missions were to protect the overland trails that settlers were using to move west. Eventually, they protected the railways being built. The fort would eventually become important in training the cavalry and served as a training center for every major war. Today, it still is a working base with several museums dedicated to its history. Many locations reputedly have some strange things happening. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of Fort Riley!

Fort Riley started off as Camp Center in north central Kansas. That name was because the outpost was considered the center of America. Surveyors laid it out in the fall of 1852 and three companies of the 6th infantry arrived in the spring to build temporary quarters. The name of the camp was changed to Fort Riley on June 27, 1853 in honor of Major General Bennett C. Riley who had led the first military escort along the Santa Fe Trail in 1829. Using his name makes sense since the initial goal of the post was to protect people taking in part in Westward Expansion over the Oregon and Santa Fe trails. Between 1840 and 1860, nearly 400,000 people used the Oregon Trail, which stretched 2,170 miles between the Missouri River and the Oregon Territory. The original trail was laid out by fur traders starting in 1811. The route branched off into the Bozeman Trail, the California Trail and Mormon Trail. Many towns were established along the way. The Santa Fe Trail was established in 1822 and connected Franklin, Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico. This trail was started by Native Americans and then came the trappers and traders and then the settlers.

The particular spot chosen for Fort Riley was on a plain overlooking the Kansas River valley. Materials in the area were used in the construction and this was mainly limestone that was cut in a pasture cut style. This means it had a smooth surface. The design was typical of the time with a central parade field with officer's quarters on the north and south sides and enlisted barracks on the east and west sides. A hospital was also built on the east side and other buildings were on the south and west sides, including stables and quartermaster's storage. In 1856, a cholera outbreak left 75 to 125 people dead. Listeners are probably aware that before the Civil War, states like Kansas and Missouri had internal strife about whether they would be slave states or not. Between 1854 to 1859 there were several scuffles that got increasingly more violent that were called "Bleeding Kansas." 

Proslavers were called "border ruffians" and abolitionists were called "free-staters." Both sides carried out raids, assaults and murders with at least 56 political killings. The main issue, of course, was whether Kansas would gain statehood as a slave or free state and the reason this was so critical was because with statehood, Kansas would get two senators that would affect the balance of power in the Senate. The Senate was split on the issue. Missouri had entered as a slave state in 1821, so it tried to influence what was happening during Bleeding Kansas. Kansas eventually broke into a state-level civil war with two separate capitals and constitutions. Kansas was admitted as a free state, but it revealed that a national Civil War was inevitable. Troops from Fort Riley were asked to not only patrol the Santa Fe Trail, but now they were needed to put down outbreaks of violence across the territory.

The Civil War broke out and while there were still pro-slavery people in Kansas, the Union always maintained control, but there were many skirmishes along the Missouri and Kansas border. During the war, many troops were sent eastward to fight, but some stayed at the post, so it could be used as a prisoner of war camp. And there were still people traveling west that needed protection. After the war, the troops were used to guard construction of the Kansas Pacific Railroad from Native American attacks. The plan was to build the railroad from Kansas City to Colorado and then onto California, but there were not enough funds to get past Colorado. Eventually it was consolidated with the Union Pacific in 1880 and is still a part of that today. A couple of interesting characters that were stationed at the post in 1867 were Lieutenant George Armstrong Custer and Wild Bill Hickok who served as a scout. Custer was sent off to the plains of eastern Colorado on a campaign and was later court martialed and suspended for one year when he returned to Fort Riley without permission so that he could see his wife. In the mid-1880s, the Army decided to officially establish the Cavalry and Light Artillery School at Fort Riley and more buildings were added with these stones being rough edged that is referred to as a hammered stone.

A well known group that was stationed at Fort Riley were the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments of all-black soldiers, otherwise known as Buffalo Soldiers. The indigenous people called them that because their hair reminded them of the hair on buffaloes. Their main time here was in the 1920s and 1930s and during World War II, they joined the 2nd Cavalry Division. Training that troops in cavalry tactics at Fort Riley was the finest in the world. The relationship between rider and horse was refined here. Cavalrymen were always testing their skills and one intense ride was called were the "Russian Ride." This was a three-mile ride that had twenty-four jumps of varying degrees of difficulty and some objects were very unusual. And a student couldn't graduate from the Cavalry School until they had conquered the dreaded "Cemetery Hill." This was a hill that was a very steep drop. Ever see the movie "The Man From Snowy River?" This was a very similar and treacherous ride that tested skill and bravery. In the movie, the character of Jim is lying almost completely back on the horse as they traverse down a very steep mountain side. The scene was done in one take and is one of the most memorable in movie history. It will give you chills.

The Cavalry School continued until October 1946 and any tactical training with mounted troops in the Army ended in 1947. The last horse-mounted cavalry charge by a U.S. Cavalry unit took place on the Bataan Peninsula, in the Philippines in early 1942 during World War II. There are still ceremonial horse-mounted cavalry, but the term now is used for mounted reconnaissance and target acquisition. Helicopters are referred to as Air Cavalry and there is a mechanized Armored Cavalry. Basically, tanks are the new horses. "Here comes the Cavalry" or "The Cavalry has arrived" is used in our modern vernacular to indicate that something has arrived just when needed.

The World Wars required lots of men to be trained quickly to go to war. In 1917, Camp Funston was built five miles east of Fort Riley and this became a training site for up to 50,000 men. The first division trained here was sent to France in the spring of 1918. Around this same time, the Spanish Flu of 1918 hit Fort Riley. That camp would later be dismantled, only to be rebuilt again in 1940 for World War II. In an area known as Republican Flats, a barracks was built and called Camp Forsyth. Through to 1945, 125,000 soldiers were trained between Camp Funston and Camp Forsyth. Boxing great Joe Louis and movie star Mickey Rooney were two of those soldiers. President Franklin Roosevelt visited Fort Riley on Easter Sunday in 1943. Camp Funston eventually became a prisoner of war camp.

Fort Riley became a key training facility during the Korean War. Recruits came from all over the United States and the 37th Infantry Division, made up of units from the Ohio National Guard. During the Cold War, members of "The Big Red One" started arriving at Fort Riley. This is the 1st Infantry Division and got its nickname from its shoulder patch, which is a big red number 1. They initially occupied the barracks at Camp Funston. New quarters and barracks were built and called Custer Hill. A new hospital was also built and named for Major General Irwin. In 1966, 50,000 more acres was added to Fort Riley. The 1st Infantry Division was deployed to Vietnam during the Vietnam War. The Big Red One returned in April 1970.

The Gulf War saw Fort Riley deploying troops again. Most of the Big Red One was transferred to Leighton Barracks in Germany in 1995 and it wouldn't be until 2006 that they were welcomed back home. With that, a new era began and a new Division headquarters was built, along with barracks and dining hall and improvements were made to Marshal Army Airfield. Troops were sent to Iraq to train Iraqi Security forces. The Army website says of the Big Red One and Fort Riley, "The 1st Infantry Division continues to proudly serve our homeland. Ever brave, responsible and on point, the Big Red One team is absolutely committed to each other, our families and our communities. That sense of teamwork is what makes Fort Riley a great place to come home to and what separates us from other Army divisions or installations. Fort Riley and the 1st Infantry Division — first for the nation."

With this long history, it is no wonder that there are many areas that have reportedly experienced strange happenings. The central Artillery Parade Field is on historic Main Post. In 1887, the cavalry and artillery split their parade fields with the cavalry taking the original and a new one being set up for the artillery. The Artillery Parade Field now hosts the annual Fall Apple Day Festival. This has a very strange apparition. People claim to see a woman wrapped in chains walking across the field on clear nights. 

The Cavalry Parade Field has its own haunts too. There are claims that a group of spectral riders is seen galloping across the field. They are also heard. Most reports claim that there is a sound like thunder and the feeling of a low vibration and then the group of riders appears. Then the riders slow at the intersection of Sheridan and Forsyth Avenues, where a rider dismounts and then the rest of the troop wheels around and rides away. That intersection is where Custer had once lived. The house burned down many years ago, but apparently the riders are accompanying Custer on his ride home as his escorts. The story behind this could be that Custer wanted to get back to the fort because he was worried about the cholera outbreak and he thought his wife might be in danger. He had an escort of his men ride back with him and he found his wife Libby to be fine. Could this be a residual haunting?

Near where the Custer house once stood is what was called Quarters 24. This was constructed from limestone in the 1850s and today is a museum named the Custer House. The house has been renovated and has furnishings from the 1870s and 1880s and best represents the kind of building Custer would have lived in with his wife. Hauntings here date back to 1855 when many people lost their lived to cholera in the building. Soldiers claimed to see full-bodied apparitions and people visiting the museum claim to hear moans and to see ghosts. A sergeant who worked in the building in the 1970s claimed to often hear strange noises coming from the upstairs rooms. These sounds resembled what sounded like stamping feet on the floor. Other people claim to hear what sounds like someone pulling a boot on and then stamping the foot to get the boot on fully. When people go to investigate the sound, they find no one upstairs. This sergeant also reported that a teddy bear in the children’s room kept moving around. He would place it on the bed before leaving and then when he got there the next day, he would find the bear on a rocking horse in the room. A female soldier would arrive in the morning and find a bed looking as if it had been slept in and she also always felt like she was being watched in the museum. 

The Infantry Parade Field was used for a time as a polo field. The ghosts of two polo-playing men are seen riding their horses and playing polo. A soldier was walking across the field one night when he began to hear faint shouts and cheers from a distance. Then he saw what looked like two figures playing polo. The ball came flying up towards him and then the players started galloping towards him. As they close enough for him to see details, he noticed that one of the figures had no face, but instead a grinning skull. The spirit them yelled at him, " Leave! Now, while you still can!" The soldier listened and ran. The Lower Parade Field has a ghost rider too. This spectre gallops madly across the field in the morning, only to disappear as quickly as he appeared.

The Spanish Flu pandemic that hit in 1918, took many soldiers' lives. One of them is thought to haunt an area outside of the old World War I era gymnasium. A Public Works employee was repairing some downed electric lines in the late 1960s when he reported seeing the ghost of a soldier in a World War I uniform. He appeared to be continuing his patrol wearing a heavy wool overcoat and carrying a rifle over his shoulder. The weird thing was that a snowstorm had downed the lines and when the worker went over to offer the soldier some hot coffee from his thermos, the soldier disappeared. And there were no footprints in the snow.

The main hospital has had issues with its fire alarms going off on their own. Especially in the Bio-Medical room. One day, the alarm went off eight different times and the fire marshal got tired of coming out for false alarms, so he disconnected the alarm. It didn't help. The alarm went off three more times after that. The NCO Club had an MP report that an unseen force jerked open the door he was guarding. The door had been locked. The No. 1 Stable had years of reports from soldiers serving on night guard duty that they would see a man in period clothing ride through the stable and then disappear. There was actually something to back up these stories when years later some renovation work was being done and the skeletons of a horse and rider were found in an old ravine.

There is a house known as Quarters 124 and a legend claims that a woman drowned herself in a well on the fort grounds in the 1860s. This woman now haunts the house and residents have reported hearing loud noises during the night that include what sounds like someone dragging a wooden box up and down the stairs. The noise got so unbearable that a priest was called in to do an exorcism. The noises stopped for a time, but eventually returned.

The Post Cemetery is haunted by Major Lewis A. Armistead of the Sixth United States Infantry Regiment. His wife Cornelia Armistead died of the cholera epidemic in the summer of 1855. Before that, the Major had taken his men southwest to keep them from getting sick. They only got about nine miles away before the disease took hold among his men and they had to stop. Major Armistead returned to the fort and found that his wife had died. The Major was later killed during the Civil War in 1863 and after that, his ghost was seen wearing a dark blue uniform, kneeling and weeping at his wife's grave. 

A woman named Susan Fox lived with her step-father in a small frame building across the creek from the Fort Riley Trolley Station in 1855. She was engaged to be married to a soldier who was away. She spent much of her time caring for people who had contracted cholera in the nearby town of Pawnee City. Her father was away when she contracted the dreaded disease herself and she died alone at the house. Her fiancee returned and discovered her body. It was decided to bury her in her wedding dress in a small grave near the railway bridge to the trolley station. People who have lived in the house claim that Susan haunts the place. The first to do so was her fiancee who said, "It was a difficult passage for her, and Susan came back to her old home several times demanding to be let in." Residents have reported shrieks and strange noises and one woman who was ironing when the apparition of Susan appeared, threw the iron through the window. A Post Commander got so fed up with the reports that he paid out of the Fort's funds for a priest to come and exorcise the house. That didn't work so they demolished the house. That hasn't stopped Susan who has been sighted hanging around the Trolley Station.

And speaking of Pawnee City, the first Territorial Capitol of Kansas was built here along the eastern border of Fort Riley. Pawnee City eventually just became part of Fort Riley and this is the only building that still exists from the town. The building only served as the capitol for five days before the capitol was moved to another city. The Kaw River Nature and History Trail is near the building. People claim to hear the sorrowful voice of a woman. One man described the voice singing a sad melody. He went to look for the woman who sounded as though she were near the river. He claimed to see the shaded form of a flatboat or barge being pulled across the river by a human-shaped shadow figure. When the apparition and the phantom boat reached the other side of the river, both vanished. Legend claims that a slave woman used to pull the ferry back and forth across the river and some believe that is where this ghost originates.

Fort Riley has been an important military base and continues to train America's fighting force. Soldiers don't typical welcome stories of the supernatural, nor do they readily share them. So hearing stories about ghosts on bases seems a little more believable. Is Fort Riley haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, April 4, 2024

HGB Ep. 532 - White Eagle Saloon

Moment in Oddity - Sky Camping

Camping can be a relaxing way to get out and enjoy nature. Some people rent camper trailers, others prefer to use tents and sleep on the ground. Both Diane and I have done our fair share of camping over the years, however there is one camping style that neither of us would be caught dead doing. This is known as sky camping. Sky camping is an extreme type of camping that is not for the feint of heart. It is definitely a unique experience in that the tent or hammock is suspended in the air from trees, cliffs or other high points. The scariest looking location is one we recently came upon in the mountains of Shanghai, China. At this particular location the sky campers are suspended over deep caverns in their little hammocks between mountains. It is said that the whole experience is quite safe. A person is tethered at all times. Umm... OK, NO! Worse yet is if "Nature Calls" and the whole business of how you 'do your business'. We'll let you use your imagination. Or, you can use google. There are many different ways that adrenaline junkies get their fix. But in our minds, resting in a relatively risky repose, suspended hundreds of feet above rocky crevasses, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - Planet of the Apes

In the month of April, on the 3rd in 1968, the movie Planet of the Apes was widely released across the United States. The American science fiction screenplay was written by Michael Wilson and Rod Serling of Twilight Zone fame. The film starred Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, James Whitmore, James Daly, and Linda Harrison. It was loosely based upon the 1963 novel of the same name. The premise of the movie is that an astronaut crew crashes onto an unusual planet sometime in the future. The astronauts encounter a strange society of ape like creatures who have developed into a civilization similar to a human one. With the apes demonstrating higher intelligence and speech. Serling rewrote the script outline several times before filming began. Production took place from May 21st until August 10, 1967, with set locations in California, Utah and Arizona. The final cost of the film came to $5.8 million. Planet of the Apes premiered at the Capitol Theatre in New York City before being released to the rest of the United States by 20th Century-Fox. The movie was a box-office hit, earning a lifetime domestic gross of $33.3 million.

White Eagle Saloon (Suggested by: Annie Caredio) 

McMenamins pubs, breweries and hotels are notoriously haunted. We've featured a couple of McMenamins establishments on episodes and The White Eagle Saloon is another one of those properties. The saloon describes itself as, "Echoing with tales of ghosts, mischief and mayhem, this 1905 saloon and hotel reverberates with live music and funky attitude." This is one of Portland's oldest bars and one of its most haunted. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the White Eagle Saloon!

McMenamins and beer go hand-in-hand. They operate 24 breweries and have brewed over 75,000 batches of craft beer. They have several IPAs, Black Rabbit Porter, Terminator Stout, Hammerhead, Ruby Ale and tons of other seasonal brews and such. Our favorite named one has to be Gnomesquatch, which describes itself in this way, "Watch out for the Gnomesquatch! Nocturnal by nature, these creatures are hard to find and rarely seen, so when they are the pictures are always fuzzy. But don’t fret! We have captured the essence of these elusive creatures in a hazy IPA. Gnomesquatch Hazy IPA has a nice pillowy mouth feel with flavors of citrus and orange marmalade. Enjoy a pint today and get out and get Gnomesquatching!" Mike and Brian McMenamin opened their first bar together in 1983, making the company 40-years-old. That pub was called the Barley Mill Pub and featured a barley mill from Oregon's first microbrewery. The brothers have always prided themselves on saving buildings and remaking them into their own vision with funky graphics, avante garde music and good food and beer. In 1998, McMenamins White Eagle Saloon was opened. 

The White Eagle itself dates back to 1905 and is located at 836 North Russell Street, close to the docks and railyards in one of Portland's oldest neighborhoods that had a reputation as being rough and tumble. This area of Portland was originally known as Albina and the neighborhood here is still referred to in that way. This had been a company town controlled by the Union Pacific Railroad. It was annexed by Portland in 1891. The White Eagle was originally named the B. Soboleski & Company Saloon for Barney Soboleski, who had immigrated from Poland at the age of 19, this started as a one-story brick building that was narrow and rectangular shaped. W.C Arthur and Co. were the architects of the second-story that was added in 1914. Not sure who built the original building, but the front as it appears now would have been done by that company. The front features a decorative brick facade and a glass transom across the front first floor entrance. Soboleski used the building to house industrial supplies until an economic boom hit Portland. A Russian immigrant from Polish-speaking Russia named William Hryszko partnered with Soboleski to open a saloon in the building. They decided to name it the White Eagle Saloon for the white eagle that is found on the coat of arms of Poland, which was a white eagle on a red shield. William Hryszko’s brother Joseph took over as the head bartender of the saloon after the second floor was added. That floor was run as a boarding house and Joseph lived in one of the rooms. 

The saloon became a type of Polish community gathering place and a favorite spot for industrial workers and sailors. A crazy story connected to the White Eagle at this time originated in the national press shortly after the bar opened. In June of 1906, the press dubbed Portland as "one of the worst centers of Anarchy of Russian origin." The fact that an anarchist Polish immigrant named Leon Czolgosz had assassinated President McKinley in September of 1901, made officials and the press suspicious of places where Polish immigrants would gather. This put the White Eagle on its radar. Rumors had been circulating that a dangerous Polish Anarchist group had been meeting at the bar to plot the assassination of President Theodore Roosevelt. On June 18, 1906, officers raided the White Eagle. Neither co-owners Hryszko or Sobolewski were arrested, but it took the media changing up the narrative and actually having a reporter go into Lower Albina to interview Sobolewski and other leaders of the alleged Anarchist group. The result of the interviews calmed the fears of the public and proved there was no assassination plot.

There were eleven pubs along Russell Street and competition was fierce, so the White Eagle started offering free lunches. Other pubs followed suit and it worked out really well for the poor of the city until the city of Portland banned the practice. The White Eagle needed something else to rise above the other bars and rumors circulated that they were allowing gambling and prostitution. Historians looked into the claim that a brothel was being run on the second floor, but no evidence was ever found.  The 1920 Census showed that no women lived upstairs at the White Eagle. And although this had a history of being a rough neighborhood, police records from 1906 to 1916 show little indication that prostitution had much of a presence here. There are some who claim that it was possibly the basement that was a brothel and that an opium den might have been down there too. Businesses that engaged in these kinds of practices used vault doors at their entrances. The White Eagle did have a vault at the top of the cellar stairway, but this was a modern addition made in the 1970s. No one knows why it was added, but the Saloon's blog wondered if it was to suggest that illicit activities had gone on to enrich the rumored history.

Barney Soboleski sold his interest in the business in 1914. The building would then be known as the Hryszko Brothers Building from then on and the siblings changed the building. They were the ones who added the upstairs floor and they extended the rear of the building. And then there was that little thing about Prohibition. This may be when some illicit activity DID get started with some illegal alcohol running between the Shanghai tunnels and the White Eagle. Mention of this tunnel also brings to mind the practice of "Shanghing" men at the bar. It is quite possible that inebriated men at the bar would get pulled into the tunnel and taken to the docks and loaded onto a departing ship. And while the White Eagle wasn't an official brothel, there is no doubt that men staying upstairs would hire women to join them in the evenings. Poker games were run in the downstairs bar. Although, technically, the Hryszko Brothers changed the business name to Hryszko Brothers Soft Drinks Emporium at the time.

After Prohibition ended, sailors became the prevalent customers at the bar. They would be bringing in the shipments of alcohol and stay to enjoy a few drinks. The Hryszko brothers changed the name of the White Eagle at this time because they decided to become an official restaurant. The new name became Hryszko Brothers Restaurant and Beer Parlor. The name changed again during World War II to Blue Eagle Cafe. That lasted until 1949 when White Eagle became the name again. The 1960s would bring in a rowdy crowd once again and the second generation of Hryszkos decided they wanted to sell. A New York immigrant named Tony Ferrone became the new owner and he had a vision of opening the place to live music. This turned the saloon into a hip spot to check out through the rest of the 60s and 70s. Audrey Sampson was his wife and co-owner. Early on, women were not allowed in the workingman's bar. If they wanted a beer, they would have to stand outside and pass an empty bucket inside to be filled and then carry the full bucket of beer back home. This wouldn't really become a bar where women felt welcome until Audrey had bought the bar with Tony.  By 1976, Philip Siegelbaum and Tyler Stevens were the owners. They moved the bar and remodeled everything. Charles Hughes bought the business in the late 1970s and although the establishment had already made its image more reputable, he wanted to solidify that. So he made a rule that bikers needed to remove their jackets when they entered, as well as any weapons. The bikers didn't mind. The White Eagle was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997 and as we said before, the McMenamins brothers purchased the saloon in 1998.

One of the coolest things about the saloon is the bar. It survived all the owner changes and renovations. It's hard to trace the origins of the bar, but most people believe that the beautiful ornately carved oak bar and back bar were built in the late 1800s in England and shipped around Cape Horn to be a part of the 1905 Lewis & Clark Exposition in Portland. Once the fair closed, the bar was bought to be installed in the newly built White Eagle. The tile floor features a Native American pattern. There was also a trough between the bar and the brass footrail that worked like a running water spittoon and according to former owner Charles Hughes, the trough was also used in the saloon's early days as a urinal. That trough is now covered with cement.  The upstairs runs as a hotel today featuring 11 rooms and is called a rock-n-roll hotel because it is right above a raucous bar with live music all night. So this isn't a place for early to bed light sleepers. 

As is the case with so many haunted locations, the line between fact and fiction is blurry at the White Eagle. There mostly is just oral history to fill in the formal records. One story that is told is that a lady-of-the-evening was killed by a jealous lover in an upstairs room. Her name is said to be Rose and she haunts the upstairs rooms of the White Eagle Saloon. Patrons claim to hear a woman weeping, possibly over a lost lover. Psychics have claimed to feel a deep well of sadness in the upstairs level. The basement, on the other hand, gives intuitives a feeling of violence and death. Strange noises are heard coming from the basement. Lore claims that white ladies-of-the-evening worked the upper floor, while black and Asian women worked in the basement. One of the women of color is said to haunt the basment. People are groped down here and the freezer door opens and closes by itself. Coins sometimes fall from the ceiling. One waitress was pushed down the stairs and after a couple of co-workers went to help her, they watched a mop bucket at the top of the stairs come flying at them. The waitress quit that day and didn't come back. 

Interestingly, the application for the history register talks about the ghosts. One section reads, "One of the ghosts seems to have been a Polish immigrant, Sam Warlinski. He supposedly worked at the docks for some time. Upon retirement, Sam was hired by the Hryszkos as a handyman and began boarding upstairs. (Other accounts report that Sam was adopted by the Hryszkos.) When the rooms upstairs were condemned, the Hryszkos told Sam that he would have to leave but that they would help find him a new place to live. The Hryszkos left to begin looking for a new boarding house for Sam. When they returned, they found him in his room dead of natural causes. The Hryszkos removed the body but locked the room just as Sam had left it. Contemporary accounts relate that it is now impossible to keep what had been Sam's room open. There have also been strange sightings in the upstairs windows and unexplained toilet flushing attributed to Sam." Historical records do seem to indicate that Sam died in Salem, Oregon, so did he just return here after his death?

A waitress was scared by an experience that she had. She was carrying a customer's order to their table  
and as she went to place it on the table, the plates flew out of her hand by themselves. Another unnamed spirit likes to tug on patrons’ shirts and staff members' aprons. Doors and windows open by themselves in all eleven rooms upstairs and apports appear out of thin air. One of the weirdest apparitions is described as being a vaguely human, teardrop-like form. This is usually seen looking out of an upstairs window.  

Seven years ago, a Reddit user wrote, " The following is not my experience, but was told to me by a stripper who dances in Portland Oregon. For years I've asked strippers all around Portland 'Have you seen ghosts?' One in 7 have, but only two stories stick out. Here is one of those true stories. A girl we'll call 'Angie' decided to go to the White Eagle Tavern, in the Albina section of Portland. Portland is divided by the Willamette River. West side is downtown Portland. East side is east Portland. About 6/8th's of Portland is on the east side. Back around 1900 the East Side was mainly forest and farms, with marshes, swamps, and an occasional "built up" area. One of these built-up "towns" was "Albina"; which is directly across the river from downtown Portland. In 1900, it was a small town of about maybe 700 people. It's social center was the White Eagle Tavern. On the first floor was a tavern. On the 2nd and 3rd floors were rooms (with no toilets...even today). In the basement was a brothel that included Asian girls, black girls, and a few white girls. During this time, it was illegal to be black in Oregon. So, if you were a black prostitute, you had to stay inside, and downstairs out of sight. Anyway, the story goes, they had a white prostitute who was in love with the piano player (they didn't have radios or cds in them days). But, a local cow boy (yes, they had them) were in love with the prostitute. A love triangle. Anyway, according to the legend, the cowboy was planning to marry the prostitute as soon as he came into a better financial situation. The cowboy told the piano playing to "stay away" from his woman, or else. He came into the Tavern, went to see the prostitute, only to see the piano player in bed with her. Well, he took out his gun and shot them both dead. Then, when he saw what he had done, he put the gun into his own mouth and pulled the trigger. Since then, some people have heard piano music (there is no piano), and a woman crying. Some people have seen a 3D shadow of a cowboy walking around upstairs. This is what I read online. The following is what the stripper told me. She said she didn't know that the White Eagle Tavern was haunted. Nobody told her. They went there one evening because a small alternative band they liked played there. They decided to rent a room for the night. The rooms were cheap (toilet at the end of the hallway). The rooms had no TV, no radio, a sink, but no toilet. But, they were planning to drink, the rooms were cheap, so they bought a room for the night. I think they paid 45 dollars. Anyway, they turned off the light and went to sleep. She said she 'heard' something, and she looked toward the door. She said she saw a 'shadow' coming through the door. The shadow looked just like a cowboy, but it was pure blackness. No features. No colors. She could hear the spurs on his boots as he started to walk past their bed. When he got to their bed he stopped, turned towards them, bent over, and looked at them. She could see no eyes. No features. Just pure blackness. He then straightened up, walked over to the sink, stared into the mirror (she could not see his reflection). He adjusted his cowboy hat, and then turned around and started to walk out. Once he got in front of their bed, he stopped, turned toward them, leaned over as if he was staring at them. She said she was so scared she couldn't move. He straightened back up, walked over to the door, walked THROUGH the door, and that was that. When he was gone she violently shook her boyfriend who turned over and said: 'I know, I know...I saw him too!'" 

Kathryn Kemp wrote on the McMenamins blog, "We recently stayed two nights at the White Eagle Saloon in Portland – one night on the way down to San Fran & one night on our way back. I want to start by saying that the bar & hotel are beautiful and the price is right but we now believe the hotel is haunted. Neither my boyfriend or I believed in ghosts, we are very logical people and we hadn’t read anything about the hotel being haunted when we booked it. Our first night in room 1 was wonderful and uneventful but our 2nd night in room 3 was down right scary. We had just got in from a brutal 10 hour drive and went straight to bed. We were lying in bed trying to fall asleep and the bed started moving up & down for no reason – we tried to rationalize that it was probably due to the bar below but it felt pretty creepy. My boyfriend proceeded to fall asleep but I was a little rattled and couldn’t sleep, I kept feeling like something was tickling my toes. I eventually fell asleep too and in the morning we were abruptly awoken by what felt like a object hitting the bed very strongly from below! We were both freaked, so much so that my boyfriend was looking under the bed. When we got up we also found that the water in the sink was running. My boyfriend felt that there was something in the room that just wanted us out so that’s what we did – no shower, no nothing – we high tailed it out of there! It wasn’t until today that we read many articles about the hotel being haunted. It’s too bad because we loved the place and the price was right but we won’t be able to do another night there. If you do chose to stay – don’t stay in room 3!" 

Ghost Hard conducted an investigation in October of 2023 and they said, "We experienced nonstop ghostly activity including intelligent responses from the ghost of Rose the Saloon girl. Through our REM Pod and EMF detector we had interactive conversations with the ghost in room three - supposedly the most haunted in the hotel. (Although the ghosts aren't confined to one place!) We spent the night in this haunted hotel - but we didn't get much sleep. And nonstop EMF detector action is a Ghost Hard first. We were blown away by the ghostly action we experienced." They have a video up on YouTube featuring the investigation.

Just two miles away from the White Eagle is the North Portland Library. The library started as a small reading room in a little house on Albina Avenue that opened in 1909. there were only 500 books in circulation there, but it was very popular. A quote from the annual report in 1910 said, "It is hardly possible to make comparisons to show the growth at North Albina. From the day this reading room opened, it has been a matter of wonder that so much could be done in so tiny a place.” By 1913, the reading room had morphed into a library with a new building designed in the Jacobethan style at the corner of North Killingsworth Street and North Commercial Avenue. The new location featured a children's reading room, a 150-seat meeting hall and many more books. Nurses used the building as a well-baby clinic in the 1920s. During World War II, the Red Cross hosted nursing classes and sewing circles at the library. The Black Resource Center was added in 1987. In 1996, the library was renovated and upgraded. The renovations held onto the historical feel of the building and it is very similar in style as to how it started.

And as could only be fitting in a library, it's reputedly haunted! The most well known ghost story is about the Shadow Man. Renovations done in the 2000s, added security cameras. One December, a couple of security guards were sitting in the security office joking around, when one of them caught something out of the corner of his eye on a screen. Upon closer inspection, they saw what looked like the shadowy figure of a man sitting in a chair in the conference room on the second floor. They both felt an eerie sensation. They knew the conference room was supposed to be empty. They went to investigate and crossed through the dark library to the second floor and found the room empty. They searched the entire room to make sure no one was hiding. The officers went back down to their control room and saw that the figure was still sitting in the conference room. The guards rushed back upstairs, but again found nothing. They reviewed the tapes later, and sure enough, the shadow man appears on tape in the conference room.

Patrick Provant, who had worked at the library, claimed that the bathroom on the second floor of the library was haunted by a spirit that liked to play with the hand dryer. He said that the dryer would turn on at random, often when he was using the bathroom. Patrick reported it to maintenance who fixed it. But the issue continued. They tried fixing it again and the hand dryer continued to do its own thing. Patrick said he decided to test the ghost and he asked it to turn on the dryer. Maybe it was a coincidence, but the dryer turned on. He tried the test again during a lunch break on another day and the dryer wouldn't turn on. He said, "I bet you a nickle you won’t turn it on." And it didn't. He went back to his desk disappointed and found a nickel waiting for him on his desk. A group of students from nearby Jefferson High School used the library to shoot footage for a school project on the paranormal. Patrick told them about the hand dryer and lead them into the bathroom. When he indicated which dryer was the one that went off by itself, the dryer turned on by itself. The students were terrified and ran out of the bathroom. 

We've covered some other Portland haunts like the Shanghai Tunnels and the Heathman Hotel. The city definitely has some interesting history and haunts. Is the White Eagle Saloon haunted? That is for you to decide!