Friday, April 17, 2015

Ireland’s Loftus Hall

This large manor house sits on a remote section of Hook peninsula in County Wexford. Its original name was Redmond Hall named after Sir Alexander Redmond who had it built in 1350. The hall remained in his family for several generations.
Loftus Hall
The Loftus family, who were English planters from the area bought the hall in 1650 and renamed it Loftus Hall. They like the Redmond family owned the manor house for several generations.

In 1870, the original hall was torn down and a new one was built on its foundations.

During the time the Loftus family owned the hall rumors were spread that the manor was haunted by the devil himself and the ghost of a young woman.

One of Ireland’s most notorious legends was born--guaranteeing Loftus the reputation of being one of Ireland’s most haunted.

When the Loftus family went on an extended business trip in 1766 they brought in Charles Tottenham, his wife and young daughter to be caretakers of the hall.

The Tottenham family settled in for a long stay.

Hook Lighthouse
Near Loftus Hall is Hook “Head” Lighthouse. This lighthouse is one of the oldest in the world. It is said this spot is the graveyard for a thousand ships.

One ship that anchored along this shore during a violent storm delivered a mysterious young man to Loftus. He and Anne quickly became close. But their friendship was not to last.

One night as the Tottenham family played cards with this young stranger the manor’s butler noticed he dealt Anne’s parents three cards each but only gave two to Anne. As he started to point this out, Anne bent to the floor to retrieve a card she evidently dropped.

While below the table she was shocked to see the young man had cloven feet. She stood up, screamed and accused him of being a demon. He then rose up in a puff of smoke and crashed through the roof, leaving a large hole.

Even though this hole has been repaired many times it is stated that the damage to this spot can still be seen.

After her discovery, Anne went mad. Her parents now ashamed had her locked in Loftus’ Tapestry Room away from prying eyes.

Anne often refused food and water. She sat for hours gazing out a window with her knees tucked tightly under her chin. In one version of this story it is said she watched and waited for the mysterious young man to return.

When Anne died in 1775 they could not straighten out her body because her muscles had seized so she was buried in a sitting position.

After her death rumors spread that this mysterious man returned to Loftus Hall. He is blamed for the poltergeist activity that occurred in the manor for years afterward.

A Catholic priest by the name of Father Thomas Broaders * was brought in to exorcise Loftus. It appears he succeeded with the devil but not with the young woman’s ghost.

Over the years, many witnesses have spotted a ghost they feel is Anne Tottenham--this is believed even though the original hall was torn down. She is often seen walking down one large oak staircase in the present day hall.

In 2011, a group stated they saw Anne’s ghost while on a tour of the hall.

After the Loftus family sold the property it was renovated in anticipation of a visit by Queen Victoria --she cancelled her trip.

In 1917, it was bought by the Sisters of Providence and used as a convent and girl’s school. In the early 1980s it was used as a hotel but by the 1990s it was abandoned.

A private owner bought the property after this but the manor remains unused.

* Father Thomas Broaders is buried in Horetown Cemetery and his epitaph reads:

“Here lies the body of Thomas Broaders, who did good and prayed for all, and who banished the devil from Loftus Hall.”

Thursday, April 16, 2015

New York City: Morris-Jumel Mansion

This large house in Washington Heights is the oldest standing home in Manhattan. Today it is run as a museum.

Morris-Jumel Mansion
Rodger Morris, a British Colonel, first owned the mansion. He had his 8500 square manor designed in the neo-Palladian style. This elegant house sat on 100 acres of thickly forested land. It had magnificent views and was the envy of all who lived in the colony.

During the Revolutionary War he and his family fled. George Washington then used the mansion as his base during the Battle of Harlem Heights.

In 1810, a French wine-buyer by the name of Steven Jumel and his wife Eliza bought the home.

Eliza Jumel had been an actress and prostitute in Rhode Island before their marriage. Steven did not find out about this until several years after they married.

Eliza Jumel
Eliza was a colorful character who caused a stir wherever she went. On a visit to Paris she befriended Napoleon and became infamous for being kicked out of France for being too wild.

Back in New York she enjoyed spending her husband’s money. Steven Jumel died in 1832 when he supposedly fell from a carriage. Shortly after his death rumors spread that Eliza actually had something to do with it.

Within months of Steven’s death Eliza married Aaron Burr the former vice-president and the man who killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel--more about this and places Burr’s ghost is seen is here.

Burr squandered Eliza money in several controversial land deals and she promptly divorced him. After this she became a recluse.

It is said that when Charles Dickens met Eliza as an old woman it was she who inspired him to write the character of Miss Havisham in Great Expectations.

She died in 1865 but many believe she haunts the Morris-Jumel Mansion.

Several people who have visited this house museum state they encountered her ghost. She is heard tapping her cane on the floor during the day and witnesses state she spoke to them through an old grandfather clock that stands in the mansion.

Front of Morris-Jumel mansion.
One favorite story told by the curators happened in the 1960s. A group of school children arrived early one morning to tour the mansion. As they stood on the steps waiting impatiently they were noisy.

An elderly lady wearing a purple old-fashioned dress came out on the porch and yelled at them to “shut up.”

As they entered the museum they asked their tour guide about this old lady. None of the staff knew anything about her.

The children became exited in one room when they spotted a portrait on the wall. It was a picture of Eliza Jumel. The children stated that was the women who had yelled at them.

An interesting side note to this haunting is about a séance that was held in the mansion in the 1960s.

The participants supposedly talked to Steven Jumal during this session. He told them that he had not died from a carriage accident.

He stated a pitchfork stabbed him instead. Eliza had then undone his bandages leaving him to bleed to death. So Eliza had murdered him after all.

Eliza’s ghost is not the only one to haunt the house. A more fanciful story told is about one painting in the mansion.

This picture depicts several Revolutionary War soldiers. It is said if a person stands alone in this room they must be cautious for one soldier in this picture has been known to step out of this painting and accost visitors.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Haunted Summerwind

If one goes looking for ghosts in Wisconsin the name Summerwind always pops up.

This mansion was located on the shore of West Bay Lake for 72 years. It burned down in 1988 after it was hit by lightning. Despite this fact, many still have questions about this place and its ghosts.

This mystery began in 1916. Robert Lamont was working as Secretary of Commence in Herbert Hoover’s administration when he bought an old fishing resort along the Michigan border near what is today the town of Land O’ Lakes.

The property came with a hunting lodge and several smaller cabins. Lamont turned this property into a comfortable summer home. He had 4 new fireplaces built with two forty-foot chimneys. He had a grand terrace added and expanded the size of the home.

He had steam heat put in and had servant quarters built. He named his new retreat, Lilac Hill.

Lamont was the first of several owners that realized that the property was haunted. One day hearing noises in his kitchen he discovered what he thought at first was an intruder.

He shot at the person twice. To his amazement this figure then vanished as he watched it.

Lamont along with various of his guests also were overwhelmed with a feeling of a "flight response" when they spent time on the homes' second floor.

After fire
In the 1930s Lamont’s family sold Lilac Hill after his death. Many felt they did not want to deal with the properties ghosts any longer.

In 1941, a family named Keefer bought the property. They were soon to regret this purchase. They spent the next 30 years trying to get rid of it. They sold it five different times only to have the new owners return it to them within days of their purchase. One disaster after another happened to each new owner--it appears the ghosts were unhappy.

In 1972, Arnold and Ginger Hinshaw purchased the property now known as Summerwind. They moved in with their 6 children.

They immediately started to notice odd activity. In the evenings as they ate dinner the family often saw a lady wearing a white dress dancing in their living room. Also a window in the master bedroom would open on its own.

Ginger started to redecorate the home. She threw out an old lace curtain that hung between the home and the servant’s house several times only to find it hanging once more in its original spot.

Several of the Hinshaw’s new appliances, including a water heater and pump broke down only to start working again several weeks later. The couple became frustrated when local repairmen refused to step foot on the property.

One day as Arnold went to enter his car it caught on fire mysteriously.

One of the most disturbing incidents happened when the family pulled out a large drawer in a linen closet upstairs to find a dark open space. They discovered a mummified corpse with shriveled limbs and dark hair hanging from its skull.

The couple decided to just leave it--not wanting to stir up more activity.

The activity in the home eventually took a toll on both Arnold and Ginger. Arnold felt driven to play the family organ each evening--his music became more frenzied as time went on.

He eventually stopped working on the house and had to seek professional help.

Ginger found that she became overwhelmed with feelings of despair. Soon after the family moved out, Arnold and Ginger divorced.
The Milwaukee Journal, 1985
In an odd twist to this story--Ginger’s father, Raymond Bober, purchased the property. He intended to turn the large home into a bed and breakfast.

Ginger’s parents and brother Karl also experienced the strange activity. The lace curtain continued to appear and the master bedroom window continued to open.

Karl often heard his named called out when he was alone in the home. The family also heard phantoms gunshots in the kitchen.

Ginger remarried and returned to help her family restore the home. She decided to show her parents the corpse but it had mysteriously disappeared.

The Bobers also discovered some kind of time and space distortion. They would measure a room one day only to discover that several days later it had shrunk or expanded in size.

Photographs they took of various rooms would often reflect furniture that was no longer there.

What is left of Summerwind.
Today, thrill seekers still enter the property in hopes of seeing ghosts. All that remains is part of the foundation, the chimneys and weeds.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Why is My House Haunted?

This is a common question. People who find their homes are haunted often wonder why. Debi Chestnut’s book entitled, How to Clear Your Home of Ghosts and Spirits is a good go to source to answer this question. 

In her chapter entitled, How Did the Ghost Get Here? Chestnut provides a list of reasons or possibilities as to why a home is haunted. It is a good checklist to help determine what is the cause of a haunting.

Of course, there is an endless list of possibilities why a home has ghosts present--but Chestnut’s list touches upon the most likely reasons, which can help a large percentage of the people who ask this question.

In most cases, if one can determine this it helps them to live with the activity without fear. If this comfort level cannot be reached knowing the cause can also help to get rid of the activity.

Here are just a few of Chestnut’s possibilities with brief descriptions. If one is experiencing a haunting my suggestion is to buy her book for the complete list and more in-depth descriptions.

Is it past owners of the home? They might not realize they’re dead or they have a strong attachment to the property. If they do not realize they have passed on clergy can be brought in to lead them or if they simply do not want to leave--the living can lay down ground rules they must follow if they want to stay.

Tied to the land not the property. The entities home might have been torn down but the new owners property is near it. Or the entity might be buried in the area. This type of haunting is normally residual in nature and these entities do not interact with the living--so it is easy to ignore this type of haunting.

Drawn in or invited to your home. Through the use of a séance of Ouija Board. These activities both open portals. Neither of these activities should be taken lightly. If either has been done it is best to bring an expert in to smudge your home.

Is the home cluttered or messy? This type of disorganization can leave the living feeling depressed or sad. Negative energy, like demons and poltergeists can be drawn to this kind of environment. Solution--clean up.

Bringing haunted objects into home. Most of the time this kind of energy is benign--despite what is presented on TV--use your gut instincts if the item doesn’t feel right, don’t buy it. If it has already been brought into home, the solution is easy--get rid of it.

Is the spirit attached to an individual as opposed to the home? If a persons’ behavior has drastically changed, for example they are having: suicidal thoughts, drastic mood swings, unexplained illness, loss of energy, panic attacks, inability to concentrate, nightmares etc. it might be an attachment.

Chestnut recommends this person should always first go to their physician to rule out other causes--for this type of paranormal activity is rare. If it is determined it is an attachment, one should try to talk and reason with the entity and if this doesn’t work clergy should be brought in.

Debi Chestnut also provides an interesting chapter in her book on how to get rid of ghosts. Her suggestions are useful. In a future post I hope to share more about this topic.