September 16, 2010

Captain Lindsey House

The nine-room Captain Lindsey House, built in 1837, is one of Rockland’s first inns, located among the historic seaport buildings of Rockland, Maine. The house has served as the offices of the water company, a rooming house, and now an inn. At one time, traveling theaters were popular and actors went from town to town performing; many that came through Rockland stayed at the Captain Lindsey, and some of their gaiety can still be felt here.The house is full of antiques, which tend to attract the spirit energy of the object’s previous owners. According to the witnesses, if you stay in one of the first-floor rooms, you can hear people walking around and furniture being moved when no one is upstairs at all. The house was originally built in 1835, as the home of George Lindsey, a prominent Rockland sea captain. Two years later Captain Lindsey transformed the house into what is believed to be Rockland’s first inn, complete with a livery stable and popular tavern. So it remained until 1924 when it became the headquarters of the local water company.

A century and a half later, history went full circle when Ken and Ellen Barnes, full-time sea captains of the Windjammer Stephen Taber, purchased the property and undertook to restore it to its early 19th century elegance. Once again filled with antiques gathered by the Captains Barnes in their own travels, the inn welcomed guests to a world of gracious living and outstanding hospitality.

Each room seems to have its own story. Another sighting occurred few years ago, in a few of the rooms, at first they can see the beds are made neatly, covers smooth, but when they go back into the room later, a handprint can be seen on one of the beds, or on other beds there are impressions as if someone had been sitting on it. A cabinet in the sitting room will show a woman’s face. Faint voices have been heard, and pictures reveal many orbs in all parts of the house. The history is still alive at the Captain Lindsey House.

Sources :
Encyclopedia of Haunted Places by Jeff Belanger;
http://simonandbaker.com/captain-lindsey.html

Pic Source :
http://www.lindseyhouse.com/PeterGreenbergArticle_files/lindsey-house.jpg

April 10, 2010

The Rhode Island Vampire

Exeter, Rhode Island “There are such beings as vampires; some of us have evidence that they exist. Even had we not the proof of our own unhappy experience, the teachings and the records of the past give proof enough for sane peoples,” said Dr. Seward’s diary in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It was Bram Stoker who took the vampire of folklore and made him beautiful, powerful, and sexy. There were cases of vampires all over the world before, during, and even after Dracula both seduced and frightened us—one of these cases was Mercy Brown, the Rhode Island vampire. Mercy Brown has the distinction of being the last of the North American vampires—at least in the traditional sense. Mercy Lena Brown was a farmer’s daughter and an upstanding member of rural Exeter, Rhode Island. She was only 19 years old when she died of consumption on January 17, 1892.

On March 17, 1892, Mercy’s body was exhumed from the cemetery because members of the community suspected the vampire Mercy Brown was attacking her dying brother, Edwin. For a deeper understanding of Mercy Brown and vampirism, I spoke with Dr. Michael Bell, a folklorist and author of Food for the Dead, a book that explores the folklore and history behind Mercy Brown as well as several other cases of New England vampires. Many people’s understanding of what a vampire is comes mostly from Bram Stoker’s work and Anne Rice novels, but the traditional vampire is actually quite different. So what is a traditional vampire?

“Paul Barber wrote a book called Vampires, Burial, and Death,” Dr. Bell said. “He gives a forensic interpretation of vampire incidents. They’re a natural phenomenon that wasn’t understood by the people at the time because they didn’t really know what happens to the bodies under different conditions. His definition is that a vampire is your classic scapegoat. I think his definition, if I can paraphrase it, is something like: A vampire is a corpse that comes to the attention of a community during a time of crisis, and is taken for the cause of that crisis.”

Vampires of folklore were not the romantic characters of modern cinema; they were the walking dead who literally drained the life out of their victims. Attacking vampires was a way for a community to physically embody and fight an evil that was plaguing them. In the case of Mercy Brown, that evil was consumption. During the 1800s, consumption, or pulmonary tuberculosis, was credited with one out of four deaths. Consumption could kill you slowly over many years, or the disease could come quickly and end your life in a matter of weeks. The effects were devastating on families and communities. Dr. Bell explained that some of the symptoms of consumption are the gradual loss of strength and skin tone.

The victim becomes pale, stops eating, and literally wastes away. At night, the condition worsens because the patient is lying on their back, and fluid and blood may collect in the lungs. During later stages, one might wake up to find blood on one’s face, neck, and nightclothes; breathing is laborious; and the body is starved for oxygen. Dr. Bell feels there is a direct connection between vampire cases and consumption. He said, “The way you look personally is the way vampires have always been portrayed in folklore—like walking corpses, which is what you are, at least in the later stages of consumption. Skin and bones, fingernails are long and curved, you look like the vampire from Nosferatu.” Consumption took its first victim within the Brown family in December of 1883 when Mercy’s mother, Mary Brown, died of the disease. Seven months later, the Browns’ eldest daughter, Mary Olive, also died of consumption. The Browns’ only son, Edwin, came down with consumption a few years after Mary Olive’s death and was sent to live in the arid climate of Colorado to try and stop the disease.

Late in 1891, Edwin returned home to Exeter because the disease was progressing—he essentially came home to die. Mercy’s battle with consumption was considerably shorter than her brother’s. Mercy had the “galloping” variety of consumption, and her battle with the disease lasted only a few months. She was laid to rest in Chestnut Hill Cemetery behind the Baptist church on Victory Highway. After Mercy’s funeral, her brother Edwin’s condition worsened rapidly, and their father, George Brown, grew more frantic. Mr. Brown had lost his wife and two of his daughters, and now he was about to lose his only son. Science and medicine had no answers for George Brown, but folklore did.

For centuries prior to Mercy Brown, there have been vampires. The practice of slaying these “walking dead” began in Europe—some of the ways people dealt with vampires was to exhume the body of the suspect, drive a stake through the heart, rearrange the skeletal remains, remove vital organs, or cremate the entire corpse. All of these rituals involve desecrating the mortal remains. The practice happened with enough regularity that the general population felt it could cure, or at the very least help, whatever evil was overwhelming them. So much death had plagued the Brown family that poor George Brown probably felt he was cursed in some way. It wouldn’t take too many chats with those empathizing with George’s plight to come up with a radical idea to stop the death.

Maybe the Brown family was under vampire attacks from beyond the grave. Was Mercy Brown the vampire, or was it Mercy’s mother or sister? George Brown was willing to dig up the body of his recently deceased daughter, remove her heart, burn it, and feed the ashes to his son because he felt he had no other choice. In Dr. Bell’s book, Food for the Dead, he recounts an extensive interview he conducted with Everett Peck, a descendant of Mercy Brown and life-long resident of Exeter, Rhode Island. “Everett heard the story from people who had been there [at the exhumation of Mercy Brown]—who were alive at the time,” Dr. Bell said.

“The newspaper [Providence Journal] says they exhumed all three bodies, that is, Mercy’s mother, her sister who had died before her, and Mercy. Everett said they only dug up Mercy. He implied that there was some sign that Mercy was the one—that’s the supernatural creeping into his story. Everett said that after they had dug her up, [they saw that] she had turned over in the grave—but there’s no mention of that in the newspaper or the eyewitness accounts.” Mercy Brown died before embalming became a common practice. During decomposition, it is possible for bodies to sit up, jerk—even sounds can emit from them because bloating can occur, and if wind escapes, passing over the vocal chords, there could be groans. We don’t know exactly what position her body was in on that day in March when George Brown and some of his friends and family came to examine Mercy’s body. We do know that she looked “too well preserved.”

“There’s a suggestion in the newspaper that she wasn’t actually interred in the ground,” Dr. Bell said. “She was actually put in an above-ground crypt, because bodies were stored in the wintertime when the ground was frozen and they couldn’t really dig. When the thaw came, they would bury them. So it’s possible that she wasn’t even really interred.” Her visual condition prompted the group to cut open her chest cavity and examine her innards. Dr. Bell said, “They examined her organs. The newspaper said her heart and liver had blood in it. It was liquid blood, which they interpreted as fresh blood.”

Bell explained how forensics can clarify how blood can coagulate and become liquid again, but at the time, the liquid was taken as evidence that Mercy was indeed a vampire and the one draining the life from Edwin and possibly other consumption victims in the community. Dr. Bell said, “They cut her heart out, and as Everett said, they burned it on a nearby rock. Then according to the newspaper, they fed them [the ashes of the heart] to Edwin.”

The folklore said that destroying the heart of a vampire would kill it, and by consuming the remains of the vampire’s heart—the spell would be broken and the victim would get well. The community’s vampire slaying had failed to save Edwin—he died two months later—but perhaps it helped others in the community? Dr. Bell’s view on Mercy Brown is that she was the scapegoat author Paul Barber discussed. Dr. Bell said, “She basically absorbs the ignorance, the fears, and in some cases the guilt that people have because their neighbors, friends, and family are dying, and they don’t understand why and they can’t stop it.”

Today some claim to see Mercy Brown’s specter near her headstone. Others have also spotted a glowing ball of light above her grave. Dr. Bell said, “That’s called a ‘corpse light’ in folklore. That’s a wellknown phenomenon—it’s been reported all over the place. There have been explanations, like the process of decomposing organic matter, like human flesh creating methane gas that can be ignited, and so on, but who knows? Things like that, you feel that there must be something behind it even if you can’t explain exactly what it is.”

Mercy Brown is arguably North America’s most famous vampire because she is also the most recent. The event caused such a stir in 1892 because newspapers such as the Providence Journal editorialized that the idea of exhuming a body to burn the heart is completely barbaric in those modern times. As Dr. Bell said, “Folklore always has an answer—it may not be the scientifically valid answer, but sometimes it’s better to have any answer than none at all.”

From Wikipedia The Mercy Brown Vampire Incident, which occurred in 1892, is one of the best documented cases of the exhumation of a corpse in order to perform rituals to banish an undead manifestation. In Exeter, Rhode Island Exeter, the family of George and Mary Brown suffered a sequence of tuberculosis infections in the final two decades of the 19th century.

Tuberculosis was called "consumption" at the time and was a devastating and much-feared disease. The mother, Mary, was the first to die of the disease, followed in 1888 by their eldest daughter, Mary Olive. Two years later, in 1890, their son Edwin also became sick. In 1891, another daughter, Mercy, contracted the disease and died in January 1892. She was buried in the cemetery of the Baptist Church in Exeter. Friends and neighbors of the family believed that one of the dead family members was a vampire (although they did not use that name) and caused Edwin's illness. This was in accordance with threads of contemporary folklore linking multiple deaths in one family to undead activity.

Consumption was a poorly understood condition at the time and the subject of much urban mythology. George Brown was persuaded to exhume the bodies, which he did with the help of several villagers on March 17, 1892. While the bodies of both Mary and Mary Olive had undergone significant decomposition over the intervening years, the more recently buried body of Mercy was still relatively unchanged and had blood in the heart. This was taken as a sign that the young woman was undead and the agent of young Edwin's condition. The cold New England weather made the soil virtually impenetrable, essentially guaranteeing that Mercy's body was kept in freezer-like conditions in an above-ground crypt during the 2 months following her death. Mercy's heart was removed from her body, burnt, and the remnants mixed with water and given to the sick Edwin to drink. He died two months later.

Sources : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercy_Brown_vampire_incident.

According to Richard Spiers, The little boy hugged close to his mother. Men were breathing hard in the cold March air of the Rhode Island farming community. Digging through the tenacious cemetery dirt, mists formed around their perspiring flesh. Suddenly, a thud of shovel on coffin lid came from the dark hole. Grunts ensued as the heavy box lifted in the last red glints of sunset. The boy's pappy pried loose the lid to reveal the girl. Men nearly wretched as the cadaverous grave odor from the pine box wafted through the twilight. The boy's uncle was a serious man, a no-nonsense farmer. Desperation had driven him to this point. Tears filled his eyes as he reached into the box, plied a steel knife, and then ripped the heart of his daughter from the dead body.

Over to the red-hot kettle he staggered. His trembling hand dropped the icy thing into the glowing iron pot. Immediately the sizzle emitted a bloody spew of rancid steam. In a few minutes, the charred muscle became charcoal. The boy's pappy ground it into dust. He added water to make a rusty nail smelling tea. The stooped farmer, the boy's Uncle, spoke in his loud baritone as all listened. "Drink this! We must save ourselves from the devil's curse!" Then taking a deep swig, he passed the cup around for the moaning men, gagging children and weeping women to drink. *** So, you think you know all about vampires. Did you know for more than 150 years they lurked in the green valleys of New England? These revenants, ghost-like beings that came back from the dead, were once living victims of consumption. The disease came upon them slowly at first. Shortness of breath grew steadily worse as infected bronchia swelled.

There was no rest as something constantly attacked the body. Fever accompanied night sweats. Appetite faded. Pains in the shoulder blades from fatigued breathing felt like gnarled claws ripping to get inside. Finally, lungs filled with pustules of infections. Oxygen could not enter the blood, so arteries ran blue making the skin pallid. Tissue necrosis ensued. Victims coughed up dead lung tissue accompanied by dark blood. After weeks of wasting disease, death came quickly, often at night when the damp air was worse. In the days before the Revolutionary War, several clans of families immigrated to America. Facing the challenges of a savage land, they chose to remain isolated from their neighbors.

As disease struck, the rustics believed they could do more for themselves, especially as they saw physicians at the turn of the nineteenth century have no success at curing tuberculosis. They had brought their own eclectic myths from their native lands coupling them with legends the Native Americans told. These folk tales told how the dead, lonely when they died, so cold in the ground, that they came back at night to suck the heat and life out of the living family members.

These dead departed had no malice in their behavior. Yet the living had their rights also. The clan leaders assembled to decide how to remedy this. They reasoned that the first who died started the chain reaction, so if that revenant stopped, the curse would stop. Therefore they must exhume that body and burn the heart. If they did nothing, more would die of the disease until the dead outnumbered the living, thus killing the entire community. Why the heart? We turn to "body forensics". In order to understand this, thanks goes to both the prolific author Patricia Cornwell and the hit show CSI.

When a body deteriorates in the grave, the temperature and conditions of the ground very greatly, but in general, the fatty tissues succumb first, then the muscles. The heart's dense muscle often takes decades for bacteria to break down the organ. Extracted from the earth, even years later, the heart resides in place within the skeleton. Frequently the organ still contains sour blood dark with iron-laden hemoglobin. The elders in the clan knew this, too. The durability of the heart made it the seat of the spirit in folklore legend. When they dug open the grave they received a shock. After burial in the cold New England soil, the body might look reasonably preserved for several months or longer. In special cases, the corpse might still have bloody froth about the lips. Certainly they felt the dead had come from the ground in a spirit form to feed on the remaining family members. This had to be the work of the devil! We turn now to the marvelous research of Michael E. Bell in his book Food For The Dead.

A remarkable folklore researcher, this scientist has combed the legends of New England. Through hard work over decades, including interviews with family descendents, he discovered that immigrants to western Rhode Island just before the Revolutionary War came up with this unique way to deal with tuberculosis. The first documented cases Bell found came from the Tillinghast clan and their acquaintances. In the 1790's, the Harris, Spaulding, Staples and Tillinghast families all participated in digging up graves and burning hearts. The practice continued sporadically for nearly 150 years. In all, Bell found at least twenty occurrences he documented around Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, Ontario and Illinois.

As the clans married, they carried the practice with them whenever an outbreak of tuberculosis struck. At the turn of the twentieth century, progressiveness was king. Powerful men such as Bell, Carnegie, Rockefeller, Ford and his close friend Edison forged ahead with electric motors, electric lights, telephones, 'auto-mobiles', and gas powered engines. Others steered steel ships and built steel bridges over huge waterways, harnessed radio transmissions, or utilized medical x-rays from radioactive elements. It was an era of science.

In the midst of this, the 1892 Providence Journal editors fumed over scandalous barbarism just outside their modern city. A group of rustic know-nothings had dug up a body and burned the heart in order to rid the community of tuberculosis. This last case of a heart burning to stop tuberculosis vampirism is that of Mercy Brown. The Brown family lived in a farming community near Exeter, Rhode Island during the last decades of the nineteenth century. The Brown family situated between Exeter and North Kingstown experienced several bouts of consumption.

In 1883 the mother, Mary Eliza, died. Shortly after this, a daughter Mary Olive died. Then, in early 1891, the only son Edwin contracted the disease. Brown sent the man to Colorado hoping the change in climate might rescue his heir. Later in 1891, daughter Mercy Lena caught 'galloping' tuberculosis and died quickly. Faced with a decade of death, the community leaders gathered to suggest the old folk remedy handed down by clan elders. Brown was aghast, but peer pressure coupled with desperation caused him to call the attending community physician, Dr. Metcalf. Metcalf came to dissuade the leaders to not do this horrendous ceremony, but he arrived too late. He found Brown surrounded by four men who had taken three bodies from the family vault. Mrs. Brown's corpse had most of the muscle tissue remaining, but no blood in the heart. Mary Olive's corpse was but skeleton and hair.

Mercy Lena's cadaver was but two months in the cold earth. The men pulled out the heart and liver for examination. The heart was dripping with blood, a sure sign that Mercy was the vampire! They incinerated the organs to powder. Old Doc Metcalf seemed to quickly cover his culpability when he spoke to the reporter at the newspaper. No one could agree whether or not Edwin drank a tea made with the ashes, though it seems that the community leaders would insist on this. Editors and Mayors exploded in anger throughout New England over such barbaric practices in their modern, progressive society.

The scandal apparently provoked the rural authorities to insure this never happened again. The newspaper pages yellowed as the story faded into oblivion and rumors throughout Rhode Island. However, two great horror writers, Bram Stoker and H. P. Lovecraft preserved the incident in their writings. Stoker sat struggling in his study working on a complicated novel about a modern day vampire. It was to be his homage to his hero J. S. LeFanu.

What would a man of science do if he encountered a medieval myth? How would late Victorian London react? Could science or faith succeed in such an encounter? From out of the blue, a New York Times reprint of the Providence Journal article crossed his desk. Inspired by the clipping, he created the character of Lucy Westenra. Perhaps the name playfully alluded to western Rhode Island.

Yet it is H. P. Lovecraft we must thank most for preserving the legends of Mercy Brown in his satirical weird tale: The Shunned House. Written between October 16-19, 1924, he reflected the disgust that the modern elitist gentry of Rhode Island had on such a barbaric tradition. Lovecraft, having been born in 1890, had lived in Providence most of his life. He knew the details of the legends well, though he relied heavily upon the folklorist Sidney Rider for many of the details he used in the story.

As Lovecraft's Mercy Dexter character allows the plot to flow, he cagily reveals, "[don't] hire anyone from the Nooseneck Hill country … seat of uncomfortable superstitions. As lately as 1892, an Exeter community exhumed a dead body and ceremoniously burnt its heart in order to prevent certain alleged visitations." So, there we have it.

Real vampires lurked in the imagination of numerous rustic farmers and merchants for over 150 years. Finally, progress coupled with embalming techniques eradicated the practice by 1892. Mercy Brown was the last case. Or was it? Christopher Coleman's Strange Tales of The Dark and Bloody Ground reports that just before WWI in the hill country of Bradley County, Tennessee, road workers uncovered an old unmarked grave. The mummified remains of a woman had a stake driven in its heart! As archaeologists or folklore scholars continue to look, perhaps other vampires will show up? Look around. Is there someone in your own community still waiting to stake a vampire?

Sources : http://www.underworldtales.com/submissions/mercy.htm.

April 07, 2010

Flagstaff Train Station

Flagstaff has a lot of history, but some of the history is hidden and most people don't realize a lot of the haunted places in Flagstaff. It may be hard for some to believe that Flagstaff could be such a haunted town, but the Haunted Places walking tour proves Flagstaff has its own share of the paranormal. Visitor Center workers have reported feeling like they were being watched as they climbed the stairs to the upper floor of the station. Other have described the stairs as having an eerie or cold feeling to them. Strange things often happen here but are normally glossed over by the staff, such as locked doors that have often been found unlocked when the janitorial staff comes in the night. The Flagstaff Amtrak station is located at 1 East Route 66 in Flagstaff, Arizona. The station, formerly the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway depot, doubles as a visitor center and is located in the midst of the shops, cafes, and boutiques of downtown Flagstaff. Northern Arizona University is located nearby, as are the Lowell Observatory (where Pluto was discovered), Sunset Crater, the Walnut Canyon National Monument, ski resorts, and other attractions.

A musty smell lingered in the air as James Hardy, an administrative specialist with the Flagstaff Visitor Center and tour guide for the Haunted Places tour, began with the story of The Brakeman. Prior to 1926, when the station was built, the railroad tracks would have run right through the middle of the building. On these original tracks, in an unfortunate but very common accident, a brakeman was killed – crushed between the couplings of two boxcars. Is it possible that this brakeman is still here at the spot where his life was cut short?

A member of the staff here after hours reported seeing and hearing people in the locked and secure building, only to find no one was around when he went to check.

Sources :
Flagstaff’s Haunted Places Compiled and Written by James Hardy;
http://azdailysun.com/news/local/article_dd25f1c9-6a17-5d8c-92de-810b9d68c36b.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flagstaff_%28Amtrak_station%29

Pic Source :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Flagstaff_train_station.jpg

April 05, 2010

Boggo Road Gaol

Boggo Road Gaol (jail) in the Queensland city of Brisbane is now a museum that holds relics of Australia’s early penal system. The site was a notorious Australian prison located on Annerley Road in Dutton Park, an inner southern suburb of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. And the only surviving intact gaol in Queensland that reflects penological principles of the 19th century. For many years it was Queensland's main prison. Inside, visitors see how the prison worked, its cell blocks, its old furnishings, and on some occasions, the ghosts of its former inmates. It was officially known as "Brisbane Jail" but was commonly known as "Boggo Road Jail" because Annerley Road became known as "Boggo Road" due to its poor condition, after originally being named "Bolgo Road". Boggo Road was originally an unofficial and unmaintained short-cut between Ipswich Road and Stanley Street that became very boggy after rain. The Boggo Road Gaol site was designated as a penitentiary reserve in 1880. The first cellblock (The ‘No.1 Division’) opened on 2 July 1883, and over the years many other buildings came and went on the site. It was the scene of 42 hangings, including the hanging of Ernest Austin in 1913—the last execution in Queensland.

The first buildings were built by Robert Porter, contained 57 cells. It is heritage-listed. In 1898, the state government deemed that a new women’s prison was also necessary, and construction of the new facility began in October 1901. The female division, number two division, opened on October 3, 1903—the first women’s prison in Queensland. Number two division operated as a women’s prison until 1921,when the demands for more prison space forced the government to make all of Boggo Road’s facilities for men. Boggo Road was a place where many different criminals did time.

A new prison was built around the perimeter of No.1 prison during the 1960s and No.1 prison was demolished leaving area for a oval and recreational facilities for the newly built prison and this prison had running cold water and toilet facilities in all cells. Under the oval was the facility that became known as the "black hole" where prisoners were subjected to "punishment". The "black hole" continued in use until the late '80s.

John Banks began working as a guard at Boggo Road in 1972. The prison closed in 1989, and most of Boggo Road’s buildings were demolished with the exception of division two. With the help of John Banks and two other former guards, the site became a museum in 1992. More than 20,000 visitors a year pass through the iron gates to see what prison life was like. Boggo Road’s most well-known inmate is also one of its most notorious. The local lore says this notorious criminal is still around—that he made a deal with the devil.

On September 22, 1913, Ernest Austin had the distinction of being the last prisoner hung in all of Queensland before capital punishment was abolished throughout Australia in 1922. Austin was sentenced to death for murdering an 11- year-old girl named Ivy Mitchell, who lived in the Samford section of northern Brisbane. Austin showed no remorse during his trial. When Austin got to the gallows, the official report said he announced his remorse and then was hung without incident. But there’s another version—one that may explain why Austin might still be hanging around.

The historical record actually tells a very different version of events. Far from being proud of his crime, Austin had tried to hang himself in the police watch-house, and had appeared resigned during his trial and imprisonment. His execution took place in front of several reporters and officials, and although there were some minor discrepancies in their reports on the event, they all told a very different story to the one above. His last words, no doubt under the influence of morphine, were reported in the Brisbane Courier as:

"I ask you all to forgive me. I ask the people of Samford to forgive me. I ask my mother to forgive me. May you all live long and die happy. God save the King! God save the King! God be with you all! Send a wire to my mother and tell her I died happy, won’t you. Yes tell her I died happy with no fear. Goodbye all! Goodbye all!"
(Brisbane Courier, 23 September 1913).

A similar account appeared in the Truth newspaper, this one reporting that “God save the King” were his actual last words. Did they lie? It could be claimed that this version of events was just part an official cover-up of the more-disturbing events on the gallows, as the authorities were trying to maintain public support for hanging and did not want the awful truth of what Austin had really said getting out.

However, the Courier and the Truth took opposing stands on capital punishment, so why write the same story? Surely it would have suited the anti-hanging propogandists at the Truth to print a story with Austin laughing at his executioners, showing the failure of the death sentence to impress any sense of repentance upon him. The angle they instead took was to to portray Austin as a 'feeble-minded degenerate', someone with a 'mental deficiency' who was raised in a home for neglected children and lived an institutionalised life that made a monster of him.

The headline proclaimed 'THE STATE SLAYS ITS OWN CREATION'. Blame for the crime was to be shared with the state, his Frankenstinian creators. In later years, Austin was to be re-created again, this time as a supernatural demon.

It is interesting that Austin is now said to haunt No.2 Division. Like all the other prisoners executed at Boggo Road, Austin was actually hanged in the original No.1 Division, which was demolished to make way for a newer No.1 Division in the early 1970s. The newer No.1 Division prison was demolished in the 1990s.

Jack Sim, local Brisbane historian, has been running Brisbane Ghost Tours since 1998. “The papers at the time reported he [Austin] was sorry for what he did,” Sim said. “But old-timers here reckon he laughed and said: ‘She loved it’—referring to his victim—‘she enjoyed it’—referring to the terrible act he perpetrated upon her—and ‘I would do it again if I could.’ “As the executioner released the trapdoors beneath his feet, the murderer began to laugh, all the way to the very end of the 13-foot rope. Even then he tried to force out one last little chuckle from between his lips. It was said that the laughter was often heard in the early mornings in the cellblocks.”

According to Sim, some of the locals believed part of Austin’s agreement with the devil was to gather more souls. This could be part of the reason for many Austin sightings around the prison. Sim said, “Ernest Austin was reported to torment the prisoners and guards for years after his death. The prison has what I would define as a haunted atmosphere. It definitely still has a feeling of human occupation, even though it’s been unused as a prison since 1992.”

One security feature of the prison was the peastone gravel placed all around the divisions. On quiet evenings it’s impossible to walk on the gravel without making a lot of crunching noise. Guards reported seeing darting shadows and other “ghosties” that their sleepy states seemed to induce. There is a long history at Boggo Road of guards avoiding the night shift in all possible ways. “There were some ‘screws,’ who would not do the night shifts,” Sim said. “When they were rostered onto night shifts, they would do anything to swap to a different night. Some of them appear on the rosters of the time, but they maintain that they actually didn’t show up; another officer took their place. One officer told me that a mate of his never once in 15 years as a guard here actually did night shift. On his record it says he did, as it does on his timesheets. But, a packet of tobacco slipped to the right person took care of the details.”

According to Sim, one documented ghost encounter occurred in 1970 when a prison officer saw what he referred to as a “big, white, shapeless mass” on top of the dividing wall of the exercise yard in the old number one division. This was in the early hours of the morning— the officer claimed the white mass slid off the wall and disappeared into the darkness. Sim said, “The spot where he saw the ‘ghost’ was just behind A Wing, where the gallows used to be. The prison officer asked for a transfer to Townsville Jail. Who could blame him? I’d have transferred from here too if I could have.” Although the exact number of prisoners who died at Boggo Road jail during its 106 years of operation is not exactly known, including account for executions, suicides, murders, disease, and natural causes, conservative estimates put the number of deaths in excess of 100.

Conditions were so bad at the prison that there were uprisings. From 1974 until 1985, prisoners insighted several riots. Clothing and furniture would be burned. The foam mattresses would be set ablaze until the foam melted into a boiling hot ooze of chemicals. The rioting inmates would fill tins with the hot substance and throw it at the guards. Banks said, “It’s most probably as bad as what it would be in the front line of a war. It’s a hell of an experience. People yelling and smashing and making noises.” Watching out for the living inmates was not the only thing a Boggo Road guard had to encounter.

The first time Banks heard about the ghosts at Boggo Road Gaol was shortly after he started working there in the 1970s. “We had officers here you’d have to relieve at 2:00 in the morning because they just didn’t want to be here,” Banks said. “They’d turn around and be white as a sheet and say, ‘I’ve seen a ghost.’ So you’d move him away from here and put him somewhere else. We’ve had officers here that have seen ghosts walk around. They’ll see a person walk by and they know quite well they’re the only one here.” The guard killed in 1966 has been spotted in the jail by guards and visitors alike.

Sim has spotted a specter on his ghost tours at Boggo Road. He said, “I’ve seen the ghost of a prison officer walking the grounds of number two division; there’s no doubt.” Some of the prisoners at Boggo Road Gaol appear to have an eternal life sentence. The old buildings, cells, and furniture speak to passersby of a rigid lifestyle where some prisoners were forced into submission, others into madness and suicide, and some were lucky enough to get out and on with their lives.

Sources :
The World’s Most Haunted Places by Jeff Belanger;
http://www.boggoroadgaol.com.au;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/boggo_road_gaol

Pic Source :
http://www.boggoroadjail.net/gatediv2.JPG

April 04, 2010

Catacomb Museum of Paris

There is one Paris museum that’s as haunted as it is macabre. You won’t find it on the Champs-Elysees; in fact, you won’t find it above ground at all. To get to the Catacombs, you’ll be traveling more than 20 meters below the city streets in the Montparnasse section of Paris. Opened in the late 18th century, the underground cemetery became a tourist attraction on a small scale from the early 19th century, and has been open to the public on a regular basis from 1867. Following an incident of vandalism, they were closed to the public in September of 2009 and reopened 19 December of the same year. There are human bones stacked in the tunnels under the city—a lot of them. The Catacombs of Paris are a network of tunnels and caves that run for more than 300 kilometers under the city. To build a city, you need materials. The Romans were the first to quarry the limestone in the area in 60 B.C.E.; however, those quarries were the open-air kind—the Romans just dug out the rock that was exposed. As the city grew and covered the landscape, tunneling would be required to get more building materials.

In 1180 C.E., Philippe-Auguste became King. He was a major proponent of tunneling to quarry in order to build ramparts to protect the city, and it was under his rule that this tunnel network was truly born. The quarries grew in size and complexity and produced building materials for centuries to come. Quarrying continued with reckless abandon until problems began to arise. In the 18th century, the city of Paris (and the weight of its buildings) continued to grow as the ground became more hollow underneath. Some buildings began to collapse and fall into the earth that was opening up below them.


On April 4,1777, the Inspection Générale des Carrières was formed to manage, fill in, or close sections of the tunnels deemed dangerous. It was during the 18th century that a second problem arose for Parisians: The graveyards were getting full—very full. The Cimetière des Innocents (Cemetery of the Innocent) alone held more than 30 generations of human remains. The government had been searching for and consolidating long abandoned stone quarries in and around the capital since 1777, and it was the Police Lieutenant General overseeing the renovations, Alexandre Lenoir, who first had the idea to use empty underground tunnels on the outskirts of the capital to this end. His successor, Thiroux de Crosne, chose a place to the south of Paris' "porte d'Enfer" city gate (the place Denfert-Rochereau today), and the exhumation and transfer of all Paris' dead to the underground sepulture began in 1785, when the bones were moved to the underground network en masse, the quarries became the Catacombs.

Disturbing the dead is a bit of a universal taboo. It’s understood across many cultures that one should leave the dead alone, and many go through great care to perform rituals and ceremonies to see off their departed loved ones to the afterlife. However, the living will usually take precedence over the bodies of their kin who have passed on.

Located off the Denfert-Rochereau Metro stop, the Catacomb Museum exists to oversee the tunnels and bones, to teach the history of why the bones are there, and to provide the only means to visit the mortal remains of more than 1,000 years of Parisians. For €5 (euros), visitors can descend into the Catacombs. A spiral cement staircase leads visitors down 130 steps, to 20 meters below the surface. At the bottom of the stairs, there are two rooms full of photographs of ancient graffiti from within the Catacombs as well as some of the below-ground structures. After passing through the two small rooms, you’ll enter the actual Catacombs.

The ceiling of the tunnel is as low as 6 feet and as high as about 12 feet on average, though some sections have an almost cathedral-looking structure high above your head. The lighting is very low, but your eyes adjust. The limestone walls are tan in color and cool to the touch. The fine gravel under your feet crunches with each step, and the only other sound is an occasional drip-drip from somewhere in the tunnels. Parts of the ceiling collect water in an upside-down puddle, and when the water gets too heavy, it drips on an unsuspecting passerby or to the ground.

Along the walls there are dated carvings and graffiti spray-painted in French. The tunnel makes 90-degree right and left turns, and in this part of the Catacombs, the environment feels like a tunnel in the rock—nothing more. After a few more long tunnels, rights, and lefts, visitors will approach some painted pillars surrounding a narrow doorway. The sign on top reads: “Arrete! C’est ici L’Empire de la Mort”—”Stop! Here is the Empire of the Dead.”

Due to the difference in darkness between the two rooms, you can’t see what is in the tunnel beyond until you walk through. It’s a good idea to pause here for a moment before passing into the Ossuary of Denfert-Rochereaux, what lies on the other side is overwhelming. In a passage no more than 6 to 8 feet in width are stacks of human bones and skulls. At the doorway they are stacked about four feet high. The skulls greet those who enter with empty but powerful stares. All around you there is nothing but the ornate patterns of bones and skulls as far down the tunnel as light will allow you to see. Within the entire Catacombs, there are more than 6 million bodies stored— only bones now. Though some bones can be found in the Catacombs in other parts of Paris, most of the bones are housed in the 1.7-kilometer stretch that the Catacomb Museum manages.

In different sections, the skulls form patterns within the stacks of arm and leg bones. There are skull crosses, hearts, arcs, and other groupings. The stacking of bones is intricate, symmetrical, and very macabre. Dumping millions of human remains down a 20-meter hole is not very respectful of the dead. Perhaps the meticulous care in the arrangement of the remains was the workers’ way of trying to give some dignity and beauty to the deceased. In different lengths of tunnel, there are signs marking which cemetery the particular bones came from, along with the date they were placed. The process started in 1785, and the oldest year marked in the museum is 1859.

Though the movement of bones to the Catacombs wasn’t a nonstop process, for at least seven decades bones were being transferred below ground. The lights are very dim in the tunnels, and as your body blocks the sparse lighting, shadows dance around the bones. Water drips and echoes in the distance, and sounds carry as they bounce around the limestone walls. The skulls certainly add to the very supernatural mood.

In a cavern just before the exit stairway leading to a building on the rue Dareau (former 'rue des Catacombes') above, one could see an example of the Quarry Inspection's work in the rest of Paris' underground caverns: its roof is two 11-metre high domes of naturally degraded, but reinforced, rock; the dates painted into the highest point of each bear witness to what year the work to the collapsing cavern ceiling was done, and whether it has degraded since. These "fontis" were the reason for a general panic in late-18th-century Paris, after several houses and roadways collapsed into previously unknown caverns below.

Near the end of your Catacomb tour, it’s worth reminding yourself that these people all had names. Every one of them was a person. Those 6 million people sacrificed their eternal resting ground so the city of Paris could grow and thrive. Noblemen’s bones are intertwined with peasants, families’ skeletal remains may be crushed with their ancestors’ bones, and visitors walk through all of it. There are 30 generations speaking to each passerby, forced into a single collective voice. If you listen closely, you may just hear some of those voices.

Sources :
The World’s Most haunted Places by Jeff Belanger;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catacombs_of_Paris

Pic Source :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Catacombes_de_Paris.JPG

March 25, 2010

Haunted Auditorium of Hibbing High School

In northern Minnesota, about 80 miles northwest of Duluth and located on the iron range, an almost medieval-looking castle rises against the skyline. From marble staircases and brass railings to art deco walls, this place is like no high school ever seen. The Hibbing High School auditorium modeled after New York City’s Capitol Theater, many details of this great room, such as its woodwork, engravings, artwork, and crystal chandeliers, make this a place that will take your breath away. The auditorium is also the home of legends—both the musical kind as well as the ghost of seat J47, who has been known to make an occasional appearance for the camera. The Hibbing High School auditorium, considered by ghost hunters to be among the world’s most haunted places.

Though stories of eerie events have circulated about the auditorium for decades, a handful of photographs taken with an old Polaroid camera in 2000 have been by far the most bizarre. The photographs, taken by the school’s stage manager, show the apparition of a man sitting in seat J47, watching the theater shows. Many people believe the image to be the ghost of the old stage manager, who died in 1942.

Hibbing, Minnesota, is a blue-collar town. Generations have toiled pulling iron ore from the ground in the area’s steel mines ever since mining explorer Frank Hibbing set foot on the land in 1892. Within a year of its discovery, people were moving to town in droves for the job opportunities of working in the mines. By July of 1893, a 2-squaremile town site had been laid out and was given the name of Superior. The little town was on a fast-track to growth. The name Superior was changed to Hibbing in honor of its founder less than 15 years after its incorporation. Town residents were grateful to Mr. Hibbing for his discovery that led to steady work for so many.


By 1914, Hibbing’s economy was booming—it had been called the “richest village in the world.” The assessed valuation of this village was more than $84 million. This steel town was getting a lot of luxuries from the profits of Oliver Mining Company, a subsidiary of U.S. Steel Corporation. Hibbing is also known as the town that moved. As 1920 arrived, large deposits of iron ore were being discovered in the midst of residential neighborhoods. The mining company was buying all of the property it could, but eventually whole neighborhoods were going to have to be moved. In exchange for the major inconvenience of relocating houses (at the company’s expense), Oliver Mining Company proposed the building of a grand high school.

Initial construction on Hibbing High School began on April 28, 1920, when a building contract was awarded to Jacobson Brothers Construction. The initial cost was $3,927,325. In 1922, a stage manager named Bill was brought in from New York to run the impressive auditorium (I’m withholding Bill’s last name, as he still has family who work at the school). Bill loved the theatre and loved overseeing the performances in this impressive piece of New York, cloned and placed in northern Minnesota. The Hibbing auditorium held vaudeville performances, symphony orchestras, and school plays.

The school was initially built in the shape of a capital “E” and would house grades ranging from kindergarten through a two-year junior college. It also housed several spirits who still haunt the building but seem to focus most of their attention on the auditorium.

Ghost stories are not the only legends that come from the Hibbing High School auditorium. Folk rock singer Robert Zimmerman (better known as Bob Dylan) made one of his first public performances on the auditorium stage during a talent show when he was a student there. Zimmerman was a graduate of the Hibbing High School class of 1959. Today, Hibbing is a town of 17,000 people. The heyday of the iron mines has past, though a few are still open and employ some of the locals.

Chuck Perry has been the Stage Manager at Hibbing High School since 1979. Perry has been living in Hibbing most of his 49 years and said he heard about the ghosts even before he started working at the high school. He’s well-known in the community and was a bit hesitant at first to talk about the ghosts. Some of the rumors behind the ghost stories that have gone around the high school include someone falling off the balcony and dying, one of the chandeliers falling on a person in the seats below, a physically disabled student with health problems expiring in the auditorium, and the death of the auditorium’s first stage manager, Bill.

Chuck Perry was able to verify the story of the disabled girl dying in the auditorium to be true, and Bill did pass away in the 1940s. The others, he was not able to verify. Perry recalled one incident in the early 1990s when a devoted Dylan fan and apparent New-Ager walked into the auditorium. Perry said, “She walks around the rows of seats, and she mentions something about a chill. And I said, ‘Yeah, okay, sure.’ Pretty soon she starts talking about this seat J47 specifically. She says she can feel something there.”

Perry dismissed the event until shortly after he saw a special on an educational cable channel about people who go into graveyards trying to photograph ghosts. Perry thought he’d try his hand at spirit photography and use seat J47 as his test. Perry said, “I took an old Polaroid [camera] that I had backstage—basically it was a prop. I went and bought some film for it, and I set it up on a tripod right at seat J47. I took a few pictures, and basically nothing happened. I tried it a few more times and took about 50 pictures total. Six of them came out with something in them.”

As others around the state have heard about the ghost of seat J47, they too have brought their cameras to try and capture something. The most profound of the six pictures Perry took can be seen at the beginning of this chapter. You can see a semi-translucent man wearing a hat and sitting in seat J47, which is located in the center section of seats, on the right side of that section if you’re facing the stage. The seat has some people spooked. Perry said, “There’s kids that come here that won’t sit there. They don’t even want to walk by it.”

Perry has also had a few unexplained experiences within the auditorium. On November 26, 1996, Hibbing High School fell victim to a significant amount of smoke damage due to a fire that broke out when some remodeling work was being done on the west wing of the building. The school would remain closed for more than a month for repairs. Perhaps the spirit in the auditorium was watching out that there wasn’t another fire?

The first story Perry ever heard about ghosts in the auditorium involved the backstage area. Perry said the encounter took place in the mid-1970s, before he started working at the high school. He said, “We have 10 dressing rooms, and one of them is really large. Supposedly this gal was back there getting her makeup on before the show. Somebody walked in the dressing room she assumed was in costume, she looked up, and they just kind of were gone. And that happen two or three times in that room.”

A janitor at the school, who wished to remain nameless, claims to have heard someone enter a classroom behind him when he was cleaning the room one night. Every time he turned around to look, he heard footsteps move back into the hall. When he turned back to his work, the steps returned. He never saw anything, but he certainly heard the footsteps. People from all over Minnesota have heard about the ghosts in Hibbing High School.

Sources :
The World’s Most Haunted Places by Jeff Belanger;
http://www.ifallsdailyjournal.com/node/5467

Pics Sources :
http://evanandnicdoorlay.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/hibbing_high.jpg;
The World’s Most Haunted Places by Jeff Belanger page 45

March 17, 2010

The Whaley House

The Whaley House built in 1856 by Thomas Whaley, a merchant from New York. The property was the town gallows before the house was built. Located at 2482 San Diego Avenue in Old San Diego, the Whaley House has been restored and is now owned and operated by the San Diego Historical Society as a tourist attraction. According to the Travel Channel's America's Most Haunted, the house is the number one most haunted house in the United States. The alleged hauntings of the Whaley House have been reported on numerous other television programs and been written up in countless publications and books since the house first opened as a museum in 1960. The most regular spirits present today are: Thomas Whaley, Anna Whaley (wife), James Robinson (hung on the property before the house was built), and a small girl (around 3 years old).

Thomas Whaley was born in New York City to Rachel Pye and Thomas Alexander Whaley, the 7th of 10 children. This branch of the Whaley family came to Plymouth, Massachusetts from Northern Ireland in 1722. Alexander Whaley, the great grandfather of Thomas Whaley, a gunsmith, participated in the Boston Tea Party, and was with George Washington during the Battle of White Plains. He provided flintlock muskets for the Revolutionary War and his house in Long Island was General Washington's headquarters.

Thomas Whaley was born into a family of blacksmiths, gunsmiths, and locksmiths. The Whaleys were Presbyterian, Whigs, comfortably fixed financially, hard workers, bright, and spirited. After its construction was completed in 1857, the mansion became the center of business, government, and social affairs in Old San Diego. The oldest brick house in Southern California, the Whaley house served as a courthouse, a courtroom, a theater, and a boarding house—as well as the family home of Thomas and Anna Whaley and their children.

June Reading, a former director of the Whaley House, told of footsteps being heard in the master bedroom and on the stairs. Windows, even when fastened down with three four-inch bolts on each side, would fly open of their own accord—often in the middle of the night, triggering the burglar alarm. People often reported having heard screams echoing throughout the second story of the mansion, and once a large, heavy china closet had toppled over by itself.

Numerous individuals had sensed or psychically seen the image of a scaffold and a hanging man on the south side of the mansion. According to Reading, 10 years before Thomas Whaley constructed his home on the site, a sailor named Yankee Jim Robinson had been hanged on the spot of what would later become the arch between the music room and the living room in the mansion. Whaley had been an observer when Yankee Jim kept his appointment with the hangman. Some visitors to the Whaley House have reported seeing a gaudily dressed woman with a painted face lean out of a second-story window. In Reading’s opinion, that could well be an actress from one of the theatrical troupes that had leased the second floor in November 1868. The Court House Wing of the mansion is generally thought to be the most haunted spot in the Whaley House, due to the violent emotions that were expended there in the early days of San Diego.

Many individuals who have visited the old house have heard the sounds of a crowded courtroom in session and the noisy meetings of men in Thomas Whaley’s upstairs study. According to many psychical researchers, the fact that this one single mansion served so many facets of city life, in addition to being a family home, almost guarantees several layers of psychic residue permeating themselves upon the environment. Many sensitive visitors to the Whaley House have also perceived the image of Anna Whaley, who, some feel, still watches over the mansion that she loved so much. And who, according to a good number of those who have encountered her presence, deeply resents the intrusion of strangers.

In the fall of 1966, a group of news-people volunteered to stay in Whaley House to spend the night with Yankee Jim. Special permission was granted to the journalists by the historical society, and the ghost hunters settled in for their overnight stay. The wife of one of the reporters had to be taken home by 9:30 P.M. She was badly shaken and claimed that she had seen something on the upper floor that she refused to describe. The entire party of journalists left the house before dawn. They, too, refused to discuss the reason for their premature departure, but some people say the ghost of Yankee Jim, still protesting the horror of his death, confronted them. Since that time, night visits have not been permitted in Whaley House.

In addition to the sightings of the primary spirits of Thomas and Anna Whaley, Reading said that the other ghosts most often seen include those of Yankee Jim, who walks across the upstairs sitting room to the top of the stairs; a young girl named Washburn, a playmate of the Whaley children; and “Dolly Varden,” the family’s favorite dog. And then there are the screams, the giggles, the rattling doorknobs, the cooking odors, the smell of Thomas Whaley’s Havana cigars, Anna’s sweet-scented perfume, the sound of footsteps throughout the house, and the music box and piano that play by themselves.

Even animals aren't left out of the singular occurances. A parapsychologist reported he saw a spotted dog, like a fox terrier, that ran down the hall with his ears flapping and into the dining room. The dog, he said, was an apparition. When they lived in the house, the Whaley's owned a terrier named Dolly Varden.

The Whaley House stands silently watching over San Diego Avenue as it has done for a century and a half. Every day visitors come from around the world to tour the historic museum. Today, no one is allowed in the Whaley House after 4 P.M., but police officers and responsible citizens say that someone—or something—keeps walking around half the night turning all the lights on.

Sources :
Encyclopedia of Haunted Places : Ghostly Locales from Around the World by Jeff Belanger;
The Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained Vol.3;
http://whaleyhouse.org/chrono.htm

Pic Source :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:San_Diego_-_Whaley_House_01.jpg

March 11, 2010

Charles Bridge

The bridge was originally called the Stone Bridge (Kamenný most) or the Prague Bridge (Pražský most) but has been the "Charles Bridge" since 1870. The bridge has survived much traffic and natural threats such as floods. Today it’s used as a historical landmark and a footbridge. But tourists and street merchants aren’t the only ones who wander across this bridge—this site also has its share of ghosts. Built in 1357 and commissioned by Charles IV, Charles Bridge connects the Old Town and Malá Strana and crosses the river Vltava. The Gothic structure was built by architect Petr Parlér who also oversaw the building of Prague Castle. Local legends say they mixed egg yolks in with the mortar to make the bridge stronger. The bridge is 516 meters long and nearly 10 meters wide, resting on 16 arches shielded by ice guards. It is protected by three bridge towers, two of them on the Lesser Quarter side and the third one on the Old Town side.

The Old Town bridge tower is often considered to be one of the most astonishing civil gothic-style buildings in the world. The bridge is decorated by a continuous alley of 30 statues and statuaries, most of them baroque-style, erected around 1700.

Throughout its history, the Charles Bridge suffered several disasters and witnessed many historic events. A flood in 1432 damaged three pillars. In 1496 the third arch (counting from the Old Town side) broke down after one of the pillars lowered, being undermined by the water (repairs were finished in 1503). A year after the Battle of White Mountain, when the 27 leaders of the anti-Habsburg revolt were executed on 21 June 1621, the Old Town bridge tower served as a deterrent display of the severed heads of the victims to stop Czechs from further resistance.

During the end of the Thirty Years' War in 1648, the Swedes occupied the west bank of the Vltava, and as they tried to advance into the Old Town the heaviest fighting took place right on the bridge. During the fighting, they severely damaged one side of the Old Town bridge tower (the side facing the river) and the remnants of almost all gothic decorations had to be removed from it afterward. During the late 17th and early 18th centuries the bridge gained its typical appearance when an alley of baroque statues was installed on the pillars. During a great flood in 1784, five pillars were severely damaged and although the arches did not break down, the traffic on the bridge had to be greatly restricted for some time.

In the Middle Ages, when a leader executed a person, the leader wanted the world to know about it. Posting decapitated heads (and other severed body parts) on popular landmarks was common practice all over Europe. But there were 10 particular local lords who had the misfortune of having their heads stuck on poles on the Charles Bridge for years until the flesh rotted away and their skulls were picked clean by the birds.

Today, these 10 lords are said to be walking the bridge—especially at night—singing sad songs and scaring those who pass by wondering who the source of the singing is. But the 10 ghosts aren’t the only lore belonging to the Charles Bridge. A water goblin is said to live under the bridge, who devours the souls of those who drown from falling or jumping off the bridge.

Sources :
Encyclopedia of Haunted Places : “Ghostly Locales From Around The World” by Jeff Belanger;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Bridge

Pic Source :
http://www.incoczech.com/charles-bridge-prague-at-night-bigimage357.jpeg

March 08, 2010

The Tower of London

The Tower of London is often identified with the White Tower, the original stark square fortress built by William the Conqueror in 1078. However, the tower as a whole is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and moat. The tower's primary function was a fortress, a royal palace, and a prison (particularly for high status and royal prisoners, such as the Princes in the Tower and the future Queen Elizabeth I). This last use has led to the phrase "sent to the Tower" (meaning "imprisoned"). It has also served as a place of execution and torture, an armoury, a treasury, a zoo, the Royal Mint, a public records office, an observatory, and since 1303, the home of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. Ghost sightings at the Tower have been happening since the mid-13th century, and many of these spirits are pure royalty. The ghosts of princes, queens, countesses, children, and many others have been seen, felt, or heard over the centuries by the Tower’s Yeoman Warders and its visitors.

The Tower’s earliest, central structure was built by William the Conqueror of Normandy, between 1066 and 1067 C.E. King William I chose the site along the shores of the River Thames and built the initial structure into the southeast corner of the Roman city walls. By the late 1070s, the White Tower was completed by Norman masons and Anglo-Saxon laborers. It was the tallest building in London for many centuries. This fortress has served vitally important roles to Britain ever since, including a royal palace, an armory, a prison, the central stage of executions in London, a mint, and home to the Crown Jewels.

Over the next 480 years, expansion projects by various kings would include building curtain walls featuring towers with names such as Byward, Beauchamp, Devereux, Bloody, Salt, Lanthorn, Martin, Flint, and several more. A great moat around three sides of the complex connected to the Thames, and a wharf separated the moat from the river. Inside the walls of the fortress, barracks, stables, the Jewel House, and a formal housing facility called the Queen’s House were built. When a visitor steps into the Tower of London today, they step into a millennia of British history. The dark, foreboding castle walls rise around each visitor, and considered by many to be the most haunted on Earth.

Lower-class criminals were usually executed by hanging at one of the public execution sites outside the Tower. High-profile convicts, such as Sir Thomas More, were publicly beheaded on Tower Hill.

Seven nobles (five of them ladies) were beheaded privately on Tower Green, inside the complex, and then buried in the "Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula" (Latin for "in chains," making him an appropriate patron saint for prisoners) next to the Green. Some of the nobles who were executed outside the Tower are also buried in that chapel.

The names of the seven beheaded on Tower Green for treason alone are: William Hastings, 1st Baron Hastings (1483)Anne Boleyn (1536)Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury (1541)Catherine Howard (1542)Jane Boleyn, Viscountess Rochford (1542)Lady Jane Grey (1554)Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex (1601) George, Duke of Clarence, the brother of Edward IV of England, was executed for treason in the Tower in February 1478, but not by beheading.

With so many famous executions at the Tower, some of the historically obscure ghosts also seem to want recognition. Yeoman Sergeant Phil Wilson, a Yeoman Warder is a full-time resident of the Tower since 1996. Wilson is also the resident expert on the ghost legends. To become a Yeoman Warder at the Tower of London, one must have served in the armed forces for at least 22 years, reached the rank of staff sergeant or higher, be a recipient of the Long Service and Good Conduct medal, and have a character reference of “exemplary” when they leave the service. After that, an interview process determines who will make the cut into this elite group. There are currently 35 Yeoman Warders in the world, and these Warders have overseen the Tower of London for many centuries. The Beefeaters, as they came to be called informally, started as bodyguards for King Henry VIII, in 1485, and they can be spotted in their scarlet and gold dress uniforms or their more dressed-down scarlet and blue uniforms. Wilson and his wife have lived in Beauchamp Tower since they first moved into the Tower of London, and though Wilson doesn’t consider himself a believer in ghosts yet, he is very well-versed in the ghostly legends of the Tower, and he has had a few unexplained personal experiences himself.

Yeoman Warder Wilson first came to the Tower when he served guard duty in 1967. He said, “In 1967, the Tower was a very different place. There weren’t the lights around the area; it was quite a scary place.” Before serving guard duty, and before military service, Wilson heard about the ghost stories in the Tower of London when he was a child. He heard about the story of Queen Anne Boleyn from the 1935 song, “Anne Boleyn,” by R.P. Weston and Bert Lee. The chorus of the song goes,
“With her head tucked underneath her arm / She walks the Bloody Tower! With her head tucked underneath her arm / At the Midnight hour.”

Anne Boleyn was the second of King Henry VIII’s six wives, and they were married in 1533. Henry VIII plotted against his wife and had her investigated for infidelity and treason. She was found guilty and executed at the Tower of London on May 19, 1536. She is one of the most persistent ghostly figures seen there, according to literature published by the Tower. The headless female figure of Anne Boleyn is occasionally spotted drifting from the Queen’s House within the Tower walls, across to the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula. She’s said to lead a procession of dignitaries down the aisle to her final resting place under the altar.

One of the more gruesome haunts is that of Margaret Plantagenet, the Countess of Salisbury. Henry VIII didn’t agree with Margaret’s staunch Roman Catholic beliefs and viewed her as a political threat. She was 68 years old when Henry VIII ordered her head to be placed on the chopping block at Tower Green. On May 27, 1541, the Countess of Salisbury refused to put her head on the block like a common traitor, and ran from the executioner who hacked her to death with his axe. Witnesses have seen the act replay itself in the Green, and others have seen the shadow of the axe fall on the nearby stone wall.

On July 17, 1674, some workers were dismantling the staircase of the White Tower for a reconstruction project, when they discovered two small skeletons. In Alison Weir’s book, The Princes in the Tower, she says, “It was immediately assumed that these were the bodies of the Princes in the Tower. An anonymous eyewitness wrote: ‘This day I, standing by the opening, saw working men dig out of a stairway in the White Tower the bones of those two Princes who were foully murdered by Richard III. They were small bones of lads in their teens, and there were pieces of rag and velvet about them.’ They were, he adds, ‘fully recognized to be the bones of those two Princes.’” The two Princes were 12-year-old King Edward V and his 9-year-old brother, Richard, Duke of York. The two boys were murdered under suspicious circumstances in 1483.

One story says it was Richard III who plotted the murder, while others say it was Henry Tudor (who would become King Henry VII) who ordered the deed done. Regardless, the elder boy was stabbed to death while his brother was suffocated with a pillow. Their bodies were hidden—buried near the foundation of the White Tower. The Princes have been spotted in the Bloody Tower wearing white nightgowns and holding hands. They never make a sound and can only be seen for a few fleeting moments before they fade into the stonework.

Sources :
The World’s Most Haunted Places by Jeff Belanger;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tower_of_London

Pic Source :
http://www.historic-uk.com/DestinationsUK/WhiteTower.jpg

March 04, 2010

Haunted Places in Hollywood

Hollywood has produced so many motion pictures portraying ghosts and the afterlife, it should come as no surprise that many former homes and places of certain movie stars who have passed on to the other side are said to be haunted. The following places are said to be haunted :

• Ever since the late 1920s, the spirit form of the Great Lover, Rudolph Valentino (1895–1926), has been seen in and around his former home, Falcon’s Lair, on Bella Drive.

• The former house of Joan Crawford (1904– 1977) on Bristol Avenue has an eerie history of mysterious fires that kept breaking out on the wall where the headboard of her bed once rested. • Clifton Webb (1891–1966), who in life was a militant nonsmoker with a distaste for cats, is said to make life difficult for cigarette smokers and cat fanciers in his former home on Rexford Drive.

• The ethereal form of Marilyn Monroe (1926– 1962) has been seen to materialize in front of her earthly home on Helena Drive.

• When popular singer Englebert Humperdinck bought Jayne Mansfield’s (1933–1967) “Pink Palace” on Sunset Boulevard shortly after her death, he claimed he encountered her ghost.

• Guests at the Roosevelt Hotel on 7000 Hollywood Boulevard have reported encounters with the ghosts of Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift (1920–1966). People have sighted the spirit of Monroe near the full-length mirror on the lower level, and many guests have had their sleep interrupted by Clift blowing on a trumpet in Room 928 as his spirit still rehearses for his role as the bugler in From Here to Eternity (1953).

• Mae West (1892–1980) loved to host seances in her old home in the Ravenswood Apartments on Rossmore Avenue, and her spirit has remained strongly attached to the building.

• The “Man of Steel,” George Reeves (1914– 1959), who starred in the series Superman (1950–57), is claimed to have been seen in the home on Benedict Canyon Drive where his body was found.

Source :
The Gale Encyclopedia of The Unusual & Unexplained Vol.3

Pic Source :
http://www.visitingdc.com/images/hollywood-sign-address.jpg

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

There are many legends about Sleepy Hollow. The most famous legend of Sleepy Hollow was based on a German folktale, set in the Dutch culture of Post-Revolutionary War in New York State. The original folktale was recorded by Karl Musäus. The fictional tale is set at the bridge over the Pocantico River in the area of the Old Dutch Church and Burying Ground in Sleepy Hollow. However there is a real place known as Sleepy Hollow rests in a wooded area behind the Kulpmont Cemetery located just outside of Kulpmont around the Northumberland County area, Pennsylvania, near a town called Den Mar Gardens. There is no headless horseman in this legend, however. The story of Sleepy Hollow sounds like that of a local legend, but curiosity has taken over many individuals who have decided to venture to this location. The area is eerie, silent, and still considered to be part of the Kulpmont Cemetery.

Numerous decapitated tombstones lie in a thick overgrown area of broken- down trees and weeds. When entering Sleepy Hollow, you find yourself walking under what seems to be a tunnel of trees. The legend says that many years ago, three young men ventured into the cemetery, that at the time was not overgrown.

The three young men, for reasons unknown, decided to tear down a large, cement cross, which stood in the center of the cemetery on a cement platform. They destroyed the monument. After wrecking the cross, it is said that they got into a deadly car accident, and all three died.

There is another local legend stating that in the 1980s and the early 90s, this location was used to perform Satanic rituals. It is believed that numerous Satanic symbols can be found carved on trees here. There are numerous unexplained accounts that come from this location. One popular legend states that at exactly midnight, you can hear an old organ playing. There have been other reports of hearing strange noises here as well.

Sources :
Encyclopedia of Haunted Places : “Ghostly Locales From Around The World” Compiled & Edited by Jeff Belanger;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Legend_of_Sleepy_Hollow

Pic Source :
Encyclopedia of Haunted Places : “Ghostly Locales From Around The World” Compiled & Edited by Jeff Belanger page 70

March 02, 2010

The Haunted Castle of Good Hope

The Castle of Goede Hoop (Good Hope) is a star fort which was built on the original coastline of Table Bay between 1666 and 1679 by the Dutch East India Company to serve as a replenishment station for ships sailing by the Cape of Good Hope. From 1678 it was the centre of civilian, administrative and military life at the Cape, until the settlement grew and some functions and activities moved away from the Castle. It replaced an older fort called the Fort de Goede Hoop, which was made out of clay and timber and built in 1652 by Jan van Riebeeck upon his arrival at the Cape. This largest of South Africa’s buildings is also the oldest…and the most haunted. The pentagon-shaped castle was constructed on the shore so high tides would fill its moat. There was a dreaded Donker Gat (dark hole) dungeon used to hold prisoners, who would be chained to the walls and tortured. If an extra-large wave came crashing up the shore during high tide, the hole could fill with water within seconds and drown the prisoner chained below. One can imagine the mental anguish of hearing the waves getting louder and louder as the tide rose—hoping the next crest doesn’t fill your watery tomb. The castle also served as an execution site for convicts, escaped slaves, and rebellious natives. There’s small wonder why this place is haunted.

One of the most profound sightings at the castle involves a tall, glowing figure that is seen pacing between the Oranje and Leerdam bastions. The spectral figure would occasionally stop his march to lean over the castle wall to view the street below. The sound of phantom footsteps have also been reported in this area when no living person is present to make the sounds. It’s rare when we can put a name from history to a ghost, but in the case of the Castle of Goede Hoop, we can: Governor Pieter Gysbert van Noodt.

In April of 1729, van Noodt ordered seven soldiers to their deaths for desertion. One of the seven stood on the gallows and announced that the group was wrongly accused and condemned van Noodt to “divine justice.” The seven were hanged, and van Noodt died later that same day of unknown causes. Today, van Noodt has been seen walking the grounds and been heard cursing under his breath before disappearing. Other resident ghosts include the curly-haired specter of Lady Anne Barnard, who lived at the castle in the late 1700s and has been known to make her appearance at parties, and a phantom black hound that leaps at visitors but vanishes inches before colliding with the frightened visitor. Today the castle is an Africana museum offering daily tours.

Sources :
Encyclopedia of Haunted Places : “Ghostly Locales From Around The World” Compiled & Edited by Jeff Belanger;
http://www.castleofgoodhope.co.za/;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_of_Good_Hope

Pic Source :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kasteel_de_Goede_Hoop_circa_1680.jpg

The Ghost of Waterworks Valley

There are scary ghost stories in various parts of the Island. In Waterworks Valley in St Lawrence, there is a sad story told of a bride who went to the church for her wedding, but her bridegroom failed to appear. She was so sad that she went home and killed herself. The ghost story says that once a year at midnight a carriage drawn by phantom horses is driven by a coachman along the Valley. Inside is a bride in white, but under her veil there is no face, just a skull. Waterworks Valley, in the parish of St Lawrence in the Channel Island of Jersey, is named after the great number of reservoirs and pumping stations found along it. Even in the daytime, it is a brooding, haunting place, overcast as it is by a thick layer of trees and foliage. It is damp and dark, and people are often forgiven for seeing or hearing things. Sometimes there is no mistaking the ghostly sights and sounds that occur. Years ago, a couple were walking home through Waterworks Valley. As it reached midnight, they heard a peal of bells. They began to walk faster - then they realised that the bells they could hear were in fact wedding bells.

A bridal procession slowly appeared round the corner - a coach drawn by six horses, with footmen and a coachman. As the coach passed, the couple looked inside at the bride, dressed in her magnificent white wedding dress.But the bride had no face - under her wedding veil there was just a skull. Scared out of their wits, the couple ran the rest of the way home. At first, they worried that people would laugh at them, but when they told others about their encounter, they were told about an old legend. Countless people have seen it pass by, and even more have run away after hearing it approach. This, they say, is the ‘Phantom Carriage’.

The stories often follow a similar pattern. Usually the events occur in the evening and begin with the muffled ringing of bells – the unearthly music is said to sound more like wedding bells than anything sombre. Gradually, mixed with ringing, another noise becomes discernible. It is the sound of horses
trotting along the valley, accompanied by the spinning, bumping rattles of a carriage. Emerging from the gloom, witnesses spot the procession which is clothed in eighteenth century costume. They see that the coach’s passenger is a bride in her wedding dress, but as it rolls past witnesses see the face behind the veil. It is the haggard skull of a corpse.

One tale of explanation claims that in the early eighteenth century a girl who was due to be married at St Lawrence parish church was disappointed at the altar. It is said she committed suicide that evening, and the apparition is a representation of her timeless sorrow. Another variation of the story is that she committed suicide on the eve of the wedding, but her ghostly figure appeared at the church the next day anyway. It was only as the groom lifted the veil that he noticed the pale lifeless face of a corpse underneath.

Many people believe the phenomenon happens only once a year at a specific time. But there are so many sightings, and such vivid recollections, that perhaps this poor girl’s misery is constant and never-ending. If you are unlucky enough to see this ghostly carriage you will be terrified as it passes to see that the young bride has no face.

Sources :
100 Strangest Mysteries by Matt Lamy;
http://www.jeron.je/thatwasjersey/custlore.html;
http://www.bbc.co.uk/jersey/content/articles/2006/10/30/folklore_ghostly_bridal_feature.shtml

Pic Source :
http://www.cultofcinema.com/LISTTop501920s22.jpg

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