Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Haunted Texas Governor’s Mansion

The fourth oldest executive residence in the United States is located in Austin, Texas. Several ghosts, two of them former governors of the state, haunt this mansion.

But the most well known ghost is that of a young man who committed suicide in this National Historic Landmark.

Mansion in 1860s
A Rejected Suitor

This 19-year-old was visiting the mansion when Pendleton Murrah held the office. He was the 3rd and final Confederate governor of this state.

This young man was visiting the governor’s mansion toward the end of the war when he met and fell madly in love with the governor’s niece. He proposed to this girl but she cruelly rejected him.

He returned to the small guest room located in the north wing where he was staying in this mansion and took a gun and shot himself in the head.

This suicide apparently resulted in his ghost being condemned to reside in this room.

Within a short period of time after his death witnesses started to hear wails and moans coming from this small bedroom. The activity became so pronounced that servants in the mansion refused to enter the room to clean up the blood-splattered walls.

As the months passed people noted the room was always ice-cold. Persistent banging sounds were also heard in the room--keeping visitors awake all night.

The next governor, Union appointed Andrew J. Hamilton, sick of hearing the complaints had the room sealed off. But rattling, moaning and gasping breaths continued to be heard.

A doorknob was seen constantly rattling to the point where the housekeeping staff avoided going into this part of the mansion whenever possible.

This strange activity continued into the 20th century--when the room was finally unsealed. The noises are always louder on Sundays--this was the day the young man committed suicide.

Witnesses mention hearing these strange noises even today.

Two Governors

Both Texas governors that haunt the mansion are said to linger because of their controversies while holding this office.

Sam Houston
Sam Houston, a hero from the Mexican-American War had gained Texas’s independence with his attack on San Jacinto.

He served as president of the Lone Star Republic and then when Texas became a part of the states he served as a U.S. Senator until 1860. After the outbreak of the Civil War Houston was elected governor.

But he refused to pledge his allegiance to the Confederate States of America. He had been a verbal opponent of secession. Infuriated the Texas Legislature discharged him of his duties.

Houston died in Huntsville, Texas in 1863.

Pendleton Murrah, related to the young man who committed suicide, like Sam Houston departed from Austin before his term was up.

Pendleton Murrah
In 1850 suffering from Tuberculosis he moved to Texas for the dry climate. He ran for the office of the governor in 1863.

The demands of leading Texas’s efforts during the Civil War took a huge toll on Murrah’s health. When it became apparent that Union Troops were about to occupy Texas, he stepped down and fled with other Confederate leaders to Mexico.

He died in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon Mexico in 1865.

Ghostly Activity

Pendleton Murrah’s apparition has been seen since his death both inside and outside the governor’s mansion.

Sam :Houston's Bed
Sam Houston’s ghost haunts the bedroom in the mansion that he occupied while governor. This bedroom still has the 4-poster mahogany bed, which he used. *

His apparition has been seen on several occasions. When spoken to he just disappears. His shadow has been seen lurking in a corner of this room.

In the mid 1980s Governor Mark White’s wife and daughter felt strongly Houston’s ghost haunts this room.

The governor’s daughter Elizabeth stated that the room across from her parents--Houston’s old bedroom--frightened her so she would not enter it.

First Lady Linda Gale White had several experiences that she attributed to Houston’s ghost. Awake late one night she noticed that the light in Houston’s bedroom above his portrait had been left on.

She entered the room and turned it off. The next morning she discovered the bedroom’s door was wide-open and the light was on again.

On another night she turned this same light off several times but each time it would almost immediately turn back on.

* This mahogany bed was one of the valuable items that were saved when an arsonist set the Texas Governor’s Mansion on fire in 2008.

Mansion after fire then restored.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Victim Tells All

This is the true case of a female ghost returning in order to reveal the person that murdered her.

This story first appeared in a book, Houses of Horror by Richard Winer. It was then showcased in an episode of the television show Unsolved Mysteries in April of 1990.

In 1977, Allen Showery an African American hospital orderly was called in for questioning by the Chicago police. He knew what it was about.

The Victim

Born in the Philippines in 1929, Teresita Basa was a quiet and unassuming respiratory therapist at Edgewater Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. In February of 1977 the fire department was called to her apartment.

Teresita Basa
In the blaze her nude body was found under a burning mattress with a butcher knife buried in her chest.

The police pursued several leads but none panned out.

A Vision

In 1977, Remy Chua another respiratory therapist at the hospital also from the Philippines saw a disturbing sight in the Edgewater employee lounge. She saw the ghost of Teresita in this area.

Chua who had not known Teresita very well then started to have strange visions and dreams.

In these visions and dreams Teresita implored Chua to go to the police and tell them what had happened.

Chua started to take on mannerisms and habits that were not her own. At one point her coworkers heard her singing a song. Later she denied singing this song stating she didn’t even know it.

As things worsened Chua collapsed on her bed one night. Teresita’s voice taking over informed Joe--Remy’s husband a doctor--that Showery had killed her. When Joe asked for proof so others would believe him she listed jewelry that her murderer had stolen from her home.

The couple reluctantly approached the Chicago police who at first were skeptical. Detective Joe Stachula felt the Chua’s had given them enough information to implicate Allan Showery.

Confession and Conviction

As relatives identified jewelry found in Showery’s home as belonging to Teresita--he broke down and confessed to the crime.

He had been invited to Teresita’s home to fix her TV. He killed her and took her jewelry to give to his girlfriend.

Showery was convicted of murder in 1979. He was only given a 14-year sentence for this cold-blooded crime.

Allan Showery
Remaining Mystery

Remy has never had another experience like this one.

She and her husband and others involved in this case have not been able to explain what happened to her in 1977.

Here is the Unsolved Mysteries 11-minute story about this case. At the time of this production the names of the couple were changed.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Legend of Blackbeard’s Ghost

Edward Teach * better known as Blackbeard is considered the fiercest pirate that ever lived. This is credited more to his appearance than his actions.

A Scary Pirate

Teach was taller than most men of his time. He had long dark hair and a black bushy beard.

He loved to intimidate his enemies when he captured their ships in battle. He would board their ships with “slow burning’ fuses in his hair and around his shoulders.

The sight of him smoldering along with several pistols and knives strapped to his waist was enough for many of his enemies to surrender without a shot being fired.


Some sources state Teach was an educated Englishman but his background is still hotly debated today. What is known is the fact that Edward Teach was no better or worse than any other pirate.

History reflects his main goal was to gain loot or money not to gain vengeance or bloodshed. This does not mean he was not a violent man he was but historians note he treated people fairly who cooperated with him.

Teach plied his trade for two years--1717 to 1718 along the route from the West Indies to the waters along the southeastern coastline that later would become a part of the United States.

He commandeered a British ship called Concorde in 1717. Blackbeard rigged her with 40 cannons--the usual 26 were not enough for him. He renamed this ship, “The Queen Anne’s Revenge.”

One well-known adventure Teach was involved in reflects his true character. He blockaded Charleston’s harbor when his men desperately needed medicine.

He kept a councilman and his young son hostage until a fully equipped medicine chest was delivered.

Teach like many pirates attacked slave ships with human cargo. His trusted second in command, Black Caesar was a former black slave whose ship Blackbeard boarded and then freed all the slaves.

Most pirate ships at the time freed African slaves. Many of these men then became a part of their crews.

Blackbeard despite being a fierce opponent in battle was said to be a “lover” at heart. He supposedly took a dozen wives. He treated each dotingly until another caught his eye.

In 1718 he briefly retired from piracy and married his latest “love.” But his friends lured him back to the sea.

Blackbeard’s Death

Blackbeard often sheltered his ship in a cove by Oracoke Island--a barrier island in the Outer Banks--off the coast of North Carolina. This area is called Teach’s Hole. **

Lured back into piracy Teach attended a party in this cove with several other captains. They made such a loud uproar that nearby Virginia residents complained.

The governor of Virginia, Alexander Spotswood hired Lieutenant Robert Maynard in command of the sloop Jane to capture Blackbeard. In November of 1718 Maynard caught up with the pirate in Teach’s Hole.

A fierce battle ensued and Maynard decided to trick Teach. He sent most of his men below decks and then enticed the pirate to board his ship.

As Blackbeard and his men boarded the Jane, Maynard’s British crew swarmed out of the ship’s hole. Maynard personally fought Blackbeard who suffered 30 stab wounds and 5 gunshots.

Teach collapsed on the deck and died of blood loss. The Jane crew cut off his head and displayed it on the ship’s bowsprit. *** They then threw his headless body overboard.

Haunted Teach’s Hole

According to legend Blackbeard’s headless body was then seen swimming around the Jane before it disappeared beneath the waves. At the same time it was noted his separated head shrieked.

It is said Blackbeard’s ghost haunts the area where he died. Witnesses claim to have seen his body swimming in circles in Teach’s Hole. It is also reported that where he is seen swimming a phosphorescent light glows beneath the water.

This light is known as Teach’s Light.

Others state they have seen his ghost rise out of the water holding a lantern--he then walks ashore. It is said his boots leave no footprints. It is believed he is looking for his head.

Eerily on stormy nights along this beach witnesses state they have heard a guttural voice that crosses the wind. It is heard bellowing, “Where is my head?”

* Edward Teach’s last name is sometimes listed as: Thatch or Tash.

** Teach’s Hole is located in Pamlico Sound just off Springer’s Point.

*** A bowsprit is a type of spar--pole--that extends from the front of a sailing vessel. It is here jibs and forestays are fastened.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Canada’s Haunted Hockey Hall of Fame

This ornate building in Toronto that houses the Hall of Fame was used for over 100 years as a branch of the Bank of Montreal.

For the past 60+ years a ghost known as Dorothy has haunted this building. There have been numerous books and articles written about this female ghost with countless witness reports.

One popular backstory has been circulated for years as to why Dorothy haunts this building.

It was believed by many that Dorothy was a teller at the bank. She became involved in an affair with the branch manager--a married man. Later, when this romance soured this man jilted her. She then committed suicide on the upper floor of the bank sometime between 1900 and the 1960s.

A newspaper article written by The Star in 2009 revealed their research about this well known haunting.

They discovered the popular backstory about Dorothy was actually true.

The Ghost of Dorothea Mae Elliott

Dorothea was only 19 year-old when she shot herself early one morning in 1953. She was transported to St. Michaels’s Hospital where she died later.

Dorothea was orphaned at the age of 9 when both her parents died within a few years of each other.

Employees that worked with Dorothea at the bank remember her fondly. She was a popular colleague who was bubbly and beautiful. Her looks were compared to a Hollywood star of the time--Rita Hayworth.

One female employee noted that she was tall and buxom, sophisticated and well liked by the men. This same employee noted that the morning Dorothea committed suicide her blue dress appeared to be wrinkled and untidy.

Finding herself rejected by this branch manager Dorothea took a .38 caliber revolver from a drawer it was kept in at the bank and went to the 2nd floor women’s washroom where she shot herself.

Since her death, there have numerous reports of strange activity occurring in this building--first when it was still the bank and later when it became the location for Canada’s Hockey Hall of Fame.

An Active Haunting

For many years staff and employees have refused to be in this building after 6:00 p.m. Most refuse to go up to the second floor.

Common activity reported includes: cold spots, lights flickering on and off and doors opening and shutting without reasonable cause.

Other reports include: hearing moans and screams throughout the building as well as people hearing footsteps.

Some witnesses state a phantom hand touched their shoulders.

One former Hall of Fame employee, Rob Hynes who was an events coordinator had a scary encounter with this ghost.

He was in a kitchen on the 2nd floor behind the conference room when he got a strong feeling someone was watching him. When he entered the conference room he saw one of the chairs moving around. There was no breeze in this room.

He quickly exited this room when this chair headed for him.

One young male visitor to the Hall of Fame started to scream, “Don’t you see her, don’t you see her.” He stated that he saw a woman with long black hair walking through several walls upstairs.

In the early 1990s before the Hall of Fame was located in the building a musician by the name of Joanna Jordan was playing her harp for an event being held in the Great Hall.

She looked up and saw a ghost looking down at her from the ceiling. She had not heard about this haunting beforehand. In later years, when she visited the Hall of Fame she refused to go up to the 2nd floor.

45 foot high ceiling
More Sightings

On the site Toronto and Ontario Ghosts and Hauntings Mathew Didier wrote about the Dorothy haunting. He at one time worked as a teller at this bank branch. His post solicited many comments.

One man who left a comment was an employer of the bank in the 1980s when it was used as office space for the bank's computer department.

He states that there was a lot of poltergeist activity and cold spots in the building when he worked there. He and his fellow workers did not share what they experienced at the time afraid of dismissal.

Because of the building’s history he and others did not like staying after 6:00 p.m. or going up to the 2nd floor. They found Dorothy liked to play pranks.

He and forty other employees worked in cubicles on the main level. One day he left his desk to copy a paper two cubicles down from his. He was only gone a few moments but when he returned he found his space in disarray.

His desk was messed up and his coffee cup was spilled. He also found his filing cabinets were locked. None of his colleagues were close enough to have done this in the short time he was gone.

There are many more stories about sightings of this ghost on the research society site mentioned above.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Kentucky Ghostlore

William Lynwood Montell a former professor at Western Kentucky University spent 15 years collecting oral ghostlore. He and his students either recorded these stories as they were told or transcribed them carefully so they could be reprinted word for word.

The folklore narratives they collected had all been passed down from generation to generation. Montell published his collection in a book entitled, Ghosts along the Cumberland.

All these stories were collected in the south central Kentucky foothills known as the Eastern Pennyroyal or Pennyrile.

Among the locals Tale swapping was a regular form of entertainment. In this part of the U.S. ghost stories were referred to as tramp tales or bear tales. This kind of story was often shared while getting a haircut or told by a grandparent in the home.

The following is one of my favorites from this book. Since most “oral” folk stories do not read smoothly I have taken the liberty to tweak this one.

Dividing Up the Dead

Origin 1791

One dark night a slave named Sam approached his master and said, “The Lord and the Devil are up at the graveyard dividing up the dead.”

What actually was going on--two men had been gathering hickory nuts and gone into the graveyard to divide their nuts.

As Sam had passed the graveyard, he heard two voices mumbling, “One for me and one for you. One for me and one for you.”

His master replied, “Now, Sam you know that can’t be true.” He continued, “ If I could just walk, I would go up there and see for myself.” The old master had been injured in an accident years before and couldn’t walk.

Sam was able to convince his master to let him carry him on his back up to the graveyard. As they stopped by the gate to listen, they heard the mumbling, “One for me and one for you. One for me and one for you.”

Finally the counting stopped. One voice said, “That is all.” Another said, “No, there are two more by the gate. *

It is said this master who had not walked in years outran the strong slave back to the house.

* What the nut hunters actually meant--each had dropped one nut by the gate as they went in.