Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Hanging of Rose Butler

The land where Washington Square Park is located in New York’s Greenwich Village was used for over a hundred years as a burial site.

It was initially used as an Indian burial ground.

Then after the Revolutionary War it was a potter’s field for criminals that were hanged in New York in the 1700s.

A Vault full of bones found
beneath the park.
There are an additional 20,000 souls buried in a mass grave, lost to a yellow fever epidemic that lasted from 1791 to 1821.

As New York’s wealthier citizens moved into the area, this extensive graveyard was covered over for a military parade ground.

It was at this point that the shallow graves of the potter’s field began to surface. As a result, several bones of the deceased poor were crushed underfoot.

The military parade ground at what was to become the park.

This stark history, plus the disturbance of these graves—point to this ground being haunted. After this location became a park in 1828, people began to note unexplained activity.

Today, the buildings that surround Washington Square, house the various NYU departments. The young people that flock to this park often do not know, about the morbid history of their favorite hangout.

Many bodies lie beneath the famous fountain and arch at this park.

Hangman's Elm
Most of NYUs students have never heard of Rose Butler, even though some have encountered her ghost. On windy nights, she is seen swinging from a large tree in the park’s northwest corner known as the “Hangman’s Elm.”

She is described as a shadow dangling in the tree that appears to disappear when witnesses move closer, to get a better view. Others have noticed this dangling figure from the various windows that overlook the park.

Some have seen her apparition walking through the park. Cold spots accompany her, even on hot summer days. Most disturbing is the witnesses who claim they felt her walk right through them.

Rose Butler was a house slave owned by the Morris family. At age sixteen, the family accused her of stealing. Previous owners had also caught her stealing.

Rose resentful, was also angered at the fact many blacks that were “free” lived near the Morris household.*

She hatched a plan to kill the family. She tried to burn down their house. She set it ablaze and tied their only exit shut.

But she only managed to burn part of the staircase, the family escaped unharmed.

Rose was arrested and tried for arson.

Arson was a heinous crime at the time—for there were not firefighters, and many perished in house fires.

Butler was condemned to death by hanging. This was a harsh penalty—for a woman. The case went all the way to the New York Supreme Court, but they upheld the ruling.

Some state this was because New York was in transition at the time. Slavery was on the decline, and there was a lot of tension between slaveholders and non-slaveholders.

At the age of nineteen, in 1799, Rose Butler was the last criminal hanged in what would become Washington Square Park. She was buried in the nearby potter’s field.

Some feel her grave was one of the many desecrated—hence the haunting.

*   She should have been free, slavery was an abomination, but some because of this sentiment, claim she was innocent--the fire was just an accident. But my research reflected otherwise.

But another question remains--

Since Rose didn't succeed, should she have been hanged? 

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Screaming Hotel Guest

This video has been floating around the net for several years. It has been the subject of a hot debate.

Is it real? Or just a fledgling film director’s attempt to sensationalize the interest in ghosts?

Regardless, this video captured something that is both scary and captivating.

It was filmed in 2003, at a Wingate Hotel, in Illinois.

Guests staying at this hotel, reported they heard screams on the second floor, near, or in Room 209.

This confused the hotel staff, since no guests had checked into this room—it was supposed to be empty.

A hotel security manager, and a desk clerk, Amy, sent a workman, John to check out what is going on.

The hotel security cameras with John at door to Room 209.
This video records the sound of screams, while John hears them at the same time, near Room 209.

This man is encouraged by the manager, who also hears the screams, via security camera and radio, to wait for the police to be called in. Instead, John enters the room.

Open door after John enters the room.
Observe, at 1:31 on the video, a bilious cloud figure exits the room just seconds after John enters the room and at 1:32 walks down the hall—to right of the door. (The video at the end shows this figure again.)

Flashing lights are recorded, not just his flashlight beam, coming from the room and John exits, noticeably scared a minute or so later.

John immediately demands the other staff, call the police.

He describes, to the two other two employees, what he found.

All the furniture in the room is upside down and the shower water is running, but no one is in the restroom.

The carpet in the room has been ripped up. But again, no one is in the room.

The security manager, whose voice is only heard on the radio, admits he is now officially freaked out.

Here is the video.

Many have tried to debunk this video, stating it was just staged.

But a variety of hotel guests heard these screams, as well as these three hotel employees claiming what they saw and heard was real.

And one cannot ignore the fact a repairman was contracted by the hotel chain to restore the room.

So this incident remains a mystery.

Hotel employees, to this day, state they avoid or are uncomfortable offering this room to guests when they check-in.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

A Ghost Followed Me Home

When I do ghost investigations, I am acutely aware I do not want the activity I encounter to follow me home.

This is why I find the following account from Britain so scary.

Bored one evening, Abby, at age seventeen accompanied several of her friends into a nearby village cemetery. The group proceeded to trample across several graves, disrespectfully.

They spent an hour making jokes about the dead, and laughing.

Abby was about to pay, for this prank.

Three days after this escapade, she awoke to see a transparent apparition sitting on a chair next to her bed. The figure appeared to be an old woman.

The next morning Abby brushed off what she had seen, as just a bad dream. But she discovered it wasn’t.

For weeks after this first appearance, Abby saw the spirit of this old woman repeatedly. This ghost would follow her throughout the house. She saw it both day and night.

At first, this did not disturb her, for she felt this presence was harmless.

But it did start to annoy her. She decided to confront this old woman, but every time she approached it, the spirit would freeze and then disappear.

Soon after this, the encounters became more threatening.

One day boiling water for tea, Abby felt an unseen force grab her hands. It was if the old woman was trying to scald her.

Then the spirit began to trip her, especially on the wet bathroom floor, or when she stood at the top of the stairs.

Now frightened, Abby decided to admit to her parents what she was experiencing. They were skeptical at first, but they quickly changed their minds, when both saw the old woman drift down the hall on the second floor.

This entity ripped the vacuum out of Abby’s Mom’s hands, and it held various doors open so firmly, no one in the family could shut them.

Loud rapping noises and bangs resulted in the family having several sleepless nights.

Water began to spill from the kitchen ceiling. A plumber was called, but this man found no leaks. The family had to put up with weeks of incessant dripping sounds.

Objects and furniture began to be moved, from their usual places.

One afternoon as Abby watched television with her father, she fell into a trance. The entity spoke through her.

Her father listened, as a strange voice described being the daughter of a French physician, in the 1800s.

The family made the tough decision to move from the home they had lived in for eleven years.

Abby had one last encounter with this ghost. Weeks after the family moved out, she returned to retrieve some posters she had forgotten, that were tacked on her bedroom wall.

She picked up the phone, curious to see if it was still connected.

Suddenly, two icy-cold hands encircled her throat. She was being choked. Terrified, she managed to break free.

She ran from the house, and didn’t return for her posters.

Scandinavia’s Kraken

Kraken attacking merchant ship, 1830
Pierre Denys de Montfort

Original illustration from
Jules Verne's book, 1870.
In Nordic folklore, the kraken * (hafgufa) was a giant, sea monster that devoured ships and their entire crews.

The belief in this creature terrorized several generations of sailors and fishermen.

This monster dwelled at the bottom of the Greenland Sea off the coasts of Norway, Iceland, and Greenland.

Scary stories of the kraken were told throughout the 1700s and 1800s. The kraken was associated with many superstitions that sailors held. Especially since they loved a good “tall tale.”

It was stated that this enormous monster could swallow men and the largest ships, and even the most immense whales whole. It was believed its many arms could reach up from the depths of the sea and pull down its prey.

Its movements at the bottom of the Greenland Sea was said to resemble underwater volcanic activity.

It was so large—that when it gradually surfaced, bubbling, it was sometimes mistaken for an island.

It would burst up to the surface. Spurting water from its large nostrils, causing circular waves that would go on for miles, which resulted in dangerous currents.

It is believed there were only two krakens for it took massive amounts of fish to sustain them. They would just open their jaws and let the fish swim in, then when their stomachs were full, they would clamp their jaws together.

Fishermen would often take the risk of fishing around the kraken for the catch was exceptional. It is said the kraken would stretch its neck out, and belch out thousands of fish.

There were even stories of ships sailing right through its open jaws and living to tell about it.

Pen and wash drawing
Pierre Denys de Monfort, 1801.
In the 18th Century it was described as “octopus-like” (cephalopod) with spikes protruding from its suckers.

In the Swedish and Norwegian languages, kraken or krake means an unhealthy animal or something that is twisted. In its plural form--kraken, it means octopus.

At one time the Nordic people even felt it was taboo to say the word “kraken” out loud, for it was believed this would summon this horrible monster.

It is believed a real sea creature inspired the origins of this tale—a giant squid that could reach up to 60 feet in length.

*  Note "kraken" is not capitalized in Nordic culture.

In 1830, Alfred Tennyson wrote a sonnet about the kraken.

"Below the thunders of the upper deep;
Far far beneath in teh abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides; above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many wonderous grot and secret cell
Unnumber'd and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages, and will lie
Battening upon huge seaworms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die."