Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Dead Man’s Cane

This is a 1st person account given by a police officer.

It had been a bad winter. In 1985, we had 18 inches of snow on the ground and more was falling.

My partner and I were patrolling the city parks in Roanoke, Virginia. Because of the weather they had been closed for several days.

While everyone was safe and warm inside we were out looking for vandals or anyone who might be stealing. Thieves often stole copper pipes when no one else was around.

In one remote park we were driving around the perimeter when suddenly we heard a loud bang, then another.

We quickly exited our vehicle and plowed through the snow. The bangs where coming from a restroom building.

As we neared this building we heard yet another loud bang. It sounded like something metallic.

As we approached the door a series of bangs rang out. We pushed the door open ready to confront thieves. Once we were inside the loud noises stopped.

We saw one person in the freezing room. It was an older man lying on the floor under one sink. He clutched a walking stick in one hand. Just above where he lay was a series of metal pipes.

He must have been the one who made the banging sounds we heard. But as we approached we realized he was dead.

Our guess was he had frozen to death. We checked the rest of the building and found nothing. We noted there were only our footprints in the snow outside.

A few days later I called the medical examiner. He told me the man was intoxicated and had been dead for at least 24 hours when we found him. As we suspected he had frozen.

If it hadn’t been for the banging on the pipes this man would not have been discovered until days later. By then it probably would have been children playing in the park who found him.

My partner and I never discovered a logical reason for the bangs we heard. We never heard them again at this park.

We have often wondered if they were made by the dead man’s cane. Did he want to be found?

This story and many others told by police officers are shared in Loren W. Christensen’s book entitled, Cop’s True Stories of the Paranormal. This book can be found on Amazon.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Mercy Lena Brown’s Ghost

Mercy Lena Brown is famous for being a vampire not a ghost.

In the 1700s and 1800s New England was ravished by consumption an early term for tuberculosis.

Families watched as their loved ones died a long painful death. This illness left its victims gaunt, flushed and with sunken eyes. Relatives stood by helpless as the ill coughed and coughed.

Doctors where unable to help.

People described this illness as literally sucking the life out of its victims. These communities fearful and ignorant began to rely on superstitious beliefs.

Most came to believe evil forces were at work. A widespread odd belief took hold. These New Englanders blamed what they called the “walking dead” as the reason for their loved ones dying. It was stated these evil entities moved among them at night—and sucked the life out of the living.

The term “vampire” was not used but this is what this superstition was based upon.

Read more details about this belief in the Smithsonian Magazine here.

Click to enlarge
The most famous New England vampire case involved a young woman named Mercy Lena Brown (1872-1892). Her family lived in the small village of Exeter, Rhode Island.

Mercy’s family, like many others, was hit hard by consumption. Mercy’s mother and a sister died. Her older brother Edwin became ill. He moved to Colorado in hopes of a cure but returned to Exeter still ill.

Brown Family Plot
Mercy also became ill with consumption. She died at age 19 in winter so her body was placed in a sort of freezer—an above ground vault—so she could be buried properly once the ground unfroze.

Neighbors of George Brown, Mercy’s father asked him for permission to exhume his family’s bodies. They felt one of them was “undead” and was continuing to make Edwin ill. George gave his permission.

Vault her body was kept in at
Chestnut Hill Cemetery.
The mother and sister had decomposed to bones, which was expected. But when Mercy’s body was examined it had not decomposed—having been kept in the cold vault.

The group that dug up the bodies discovered congealed blood in her heart and liver. They took this as a sign she must be among the undead. They then performed a ritual that was believed to release the afflicted from this evil influence.

They removed Mercy’s heart and placed it on a rock and burned it—this turned it to ashes. They then mixed these ashes with water and had Edwin drink it. He died 2 months later.

Mercy’s body was among many in New England that were desecrated in this fashion. But her story like the others does not end here.

Her spirit has been restless ever since. Over the years many people in this small community have reported strange sights and sounds.

Mercy's gravestone.
Her body is buried in Chestnut Hill Cemetery in Exeter. Residents and visitors report seeing strange lights in this cemetery. Many who have stood on graves in this cemetery state that something unseen shoved them off these plots.

Many Residents have come forward to state they have seen Mercy’s ghost walking around the community.

Those who have offered prayers for Mercy report afterwards smelling the scent of roses.

Mercy’s spirit is known to visit members in the community that are about to die. Relatives have encountered their loved ones in earnest conversations with Mercy hours or even minutes before they passed.

It appears that Mercy’s spirit is a kind soul who doesn’t want to see any more graves desecrated. She also exhibits compassion for those who are about to die.

Today people often leave items on her gravesite. My wish is these items be respectful and not a joke because ignorance labeled her a vampire.

Wyoming’s Plains Hotel

Plains Hotel
This luxury 5-story hotel in Cheyenne was opened in 1911 to provide a comfortable place for oil barons, rich ranchers and Army officers to stay. It also catered to tourists headed to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons.

Sponsored by the Cheyenne Securities Company its cost including décor and furnishings was $250,000.

It has a grand ballroom and a lobby that is provided with extra light from a spectacular stained glass skylight. It has a central marble staircase as well as rich mahogany and leather furniture throughout.

Sky light over lobby.
When it first opened the Mezzanine featured an orchestra that played for its distinguished guests. In more recent years, Presidents Truman, Nixon and Regan all stayed at the Plains.

Each of its 100 guest rooms had plush velvet carpet, phones, private baths and large brass beds.

The Plains has been renovated twice, first in the 1930s and then again in 2002. Many guests today still enjoy its cowboy themed luxury.

People who promote the Plains Hotel are not shy about another feature it has. Violence that occurred in hotel in the past has given it four resident ghosts.

Soon after the Plains opened its doors a honeymoon couple checked in. This couple was given a suite on the 2nd floor. They had an argument stemming from the bride’s nervousness about their marriage bed.

The groom impatient and angry left his bride, Rosie and went down to the first floor bar. While there he met a local prostitute.

Wigwam Bar
Rosie concerned about how long her husband had been gone grabbed a gun for protection and headed toward the bar. She entered just in time to see her husband leaving with this shady woman.

She followed them up to the fourth floor and watched as they entered a guest room. Upset, she gathered her courage and barged into the room only to find her husband in bed with this lady.

Rosie now angry at this betrayal raised the gun she held and shot them both. Distraught, she then went back to her room and shot herself. This double murder, suicide resulted in an active haunting.

Since, Rosie’s ghost has been seen wandering the second floor. She wears a blue gown and witnesses state she appears to be lost in thought with a look of disappointment on her face.

Housekeepers state they have heard phantom wailing coming from the newlywed’s room and guests who have stayed in this suite state they have heard the actual argument that occurred between the bride and groom before the husband left for the bar.

Rosie’s unfaithful husband is seen finely dressed. He wears 1900s formal attire with a long black coat and black polished boots. He has on a white shirt with silver buttons.

He is seen on the 4th floor and throughout the hotel, including the basement.

The prostitute is seen in a short red dress adorned with white lace. She is spotted on the 2nd floor and in the lobby area. Several witnesses have stated they saw her in the balconies above the lobby.

Balconies above lobby.
She has issues with brides. Several have claimed to encounter her while in the hotel. One Halloween, mannequins were displayed as a bride and groom. A witness saw a lady in a red dress push the bride mannequin over then she just disappeared.

A fourth ghost seen in the Plains is that of a man who killed a guest. He got in an argument with this guest and shoved this poor soul out of a 4th floor window.

Witnesses state they feel anger and a sense of dread in the area where this happened.

When these ghosts are present, guests report doors and windows open without assistance. 

Plains Hotel today.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Evelyn Carter and Gaineswood

Gaineswood in 1860.
Gaineswood a southern plantation was built in southwestern Alabama in Demopolis on the eve of the Civil War in 1842.

General Nathan Byron Whitfield designed his mansion to reflect the Greek revival style and had highly skilled artisan slaves build it. Today it is considered Alabama’s finest neoclassical home. It reflects 3 ancient Greek architectural orders: Doric, Ionic and Corinthian.

General Whitfield
It was used as a private residence until the late 1960s. The house is beautifully preserved and still has fine Chippendale furniture throughout.

It is on the National Register of Historic Places and is listed as one of 150 mansions in the U.S. that are must visits. Today it is run as a house museum.

Tragically, soon after the mansion was completed, General Whitfield’s wife died. He was left with small children to rear. He hired a young gently bred lady, a Miss Carter to be his housekeeper and a companion for the children.

Miss Carter’s nearest relatives were in Virginia and her father was in Europe serving as consul to Greece. Despite her duties keeping her busy the General noted Ms.. Carter was lonely. He gave her permission to invite her sister Evelyn to Gaineswood for the winter.

Evelyn was a merry addition to the home. She loved to play the piano. The General also a musician often accompanied her. He enjoyed tunes from Scotland and would play duets with Evelyn on his bagpipes.

Despite it being one of the coldest winters on record, Evelyn’s presence brought happiness to everyone.

Tragically, Evelyn became ill. The General called in the best doctors but after several weeks Evelyn died. Depending upon which account one reads Evelyn died of a severe attack of malaria or pneumonia.

In a more dramatic version it is stated she died of a broken heart.

Lantern domes are
above several rooms to
provide extra light.
A handsome French count—an exile from the Napoleonic Wars—was visiting Demopolis. He became attached to Evelyn. He bought her an engagement ring but the couple quarreled. He snatched the ring from Evelyn’s hand and threw it into the bushes.

He then left and never returned. Grief-stricken, Evelyn succumb to illness.

Her last wish was to be returned to Virginia for burial. It being winter the roads were covered in ice and snow, it would also take Evelyn’s father weeks to return from Greece for the funeral.

So a decision was made to place Evelyn’s body in an airtight pine box sealed with rosin. It was then placed below the stairs in the cellar. When spring arrived it would be taken to Virginia.

The residents of Gaineswood came to believe because of this decision Evelyn’s spirit could not rest in peace. They believed she did not like being kept in a cold, dark cellar.

Soon after being placed in the cellar people in the household began to hear footsteps coming up the cellar stairs. They would hear someone tip toe into the drawing room where the large piano stood.

Faint sounds of music would float throughout the mansion. Most of these tunes were Scottish ballads.

On several occasions when braver souls would venture down into the cellar these sounds would stop. But once they returned upstairs the musical sounds would begin again.

These footsteps and music were so persistent they would wake the entire household. So when spring arrived everyone was happy. They believed their sleep would no longer be interrupted. But they were wrong.

Even though the activity was not regular, Evelyn’s ghost continued to haunt Gaineswood. Apparently she was still protesting she was kept in the cellar for several months.

Even in more recent years, when Gaineswood was still a private residence visitors would insist their dreams where interrupted by the sounds of soft footsteps on the cellar stairs—followed by the melodious sounds of songs long forgotten.