Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Terrifying Tales: Mary Shaw and Her Dolls

“Beware the stare of Mary Shaw. 
She had no children, only dolls,
If you see her in your dreams, 
Make sure you never scream . . .
For she’ll rip your tongue out at the seam.”

The poem above was shared in a film entitled, Dead Silence. This poem is based upon an old ghost story that was told in Ravens Fair for generations.

It was told to children to keep them in line but some claim that there is some truth to the story. Regardless, it has evolved into a terrifying tale to tell at Halloween.

Is the curse that Mary Shaw placed real?

Outside of Ravens Fair there is an old theatre—the Guignol—that sits near Lost Lake. It was 1941 and Mary Shaw was performing her ventriloquist show on stage.

A boy in the audience, Michael Ashen made fun of Mary. He called her a fraud and stated he could see her lips moving as the dummy talked. The audience then laughed.

Several weeks later Michael went missing. The townspeople and the Ashen family became convinced that Mary had something to do with his disappearance.

A group of men, made up of members of the family and some locals, challenged Mary one night. What had she done with Michael?

She screamed her innocence when they would not believe her claims that she had nothing to do with it. They grabbed her, cut out her tongue and left her to bleed to death.

The local mortician noticed Mary had several odd requests in her will but he followed them anyway. She requested her dolls, which she called “her children” should be buried with her and she stipulated her body was to be made up to look like a doll.

Several days after Mary was buried the killings began.

Each man who was involved in her murder was visited by one of the dolls. They were found dead with their tongues ripped out.

Mary’s ghost then began to visit the wives and children of these men. As the years passed their children’s children were visited. All were found in mid scream with their tongues ripped out—dead.

The residents of Ravens Fair still refuse to utter Mary Shaw’s name. For they are terrified Mary and “her children” are waiting in their grave for the next victim.

This begins a series of stories on Seeks Ghosts under the title Terrifying Tales that will be shared between now and Halloween.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Magpie Mine

This mine is known for being both cursed and haunted.

Magpie Mine
The Magpie mine is located in the Peak District of Derbyshire. It is just south of the village of Sheldon.

The mine is shut down today but many visitors come to see it on the weekends. It is a well preserved example of the lead mining industry history in the district.

The Magpie was mined for 300 years. Trouble came to the district in the 1820s and 30s when a dispute occurred over one vein of lead.

Miners from the neighboring Magpie, Maypitt and Red Soil mines would periodically break through on each other’s workings. When this happened one side would light a fire underground to smoke the others out.

Tragically, in 1833, three Red Soil miners were suffocated to death by a fire lit by the Magpie miners.

These Magpie miners were then tried and acquitted of the charge of murder because of “lack of intent” and “conflicting evidence.”

It is said the three widows of the Red Soil miners bitter about this verdict placed a curse on the Magpie mine.

Many felt this curse took hold for after this trial for deaths, floods and fire plagued the Magpie. In 1880, the Magpie Mining Company even changed it name in an attempt to rid the mine of this curse.

Magpie Mine on limestone uplands.
In 1835, the mine plagued by floods and people’s belief in this curse was closed down for the first time. It reopened in 1839 and continued to produce lead until its final closing in 1954.

A side story to the curse is the fact that after the three Red Soil miners lost their lives the Magpie gained a reputation as being haunted—supposedly by these three unfortunate men.

One well-documented encounter with this activity occurred in 1946.

A survey team working in the Magpie spotted a man holding a candle further down the shaft. This figure vanished as they watched it.

Later this team took a photograph that shows a ghostly figure standing on top of a deep pool of water.

New Orleans’ Place d’ Armes Hotel

Place d' Armes

This old hotel is located in the heart of the French Quarter in Jackson Square. It is made up of 8 townhomes with 85 rooms that all surround a pretty courtyard with lovely magnolia and crepe myrtle trees.

This courtyard also has a pool and a lovely fountain.

The Place d’ Armes was built in 1725 and is a good example of 18th-century architecture. The guests that stay here enjoy wonderful views of the Quarter including St. Louis Cathedral.

The hotel is named, Place d’ Armes for it is where the military was stationed in the Quarter, so it became known as a “place of arms.”

The site where the hotel sits was once a school in New Orleans. In the Great New Orleans Fire of 1788, most of this school was destroyed, killing the school’s headmaster and several students.

The ghosts that haunt the buildings are said to be victims of this fire. Many claim they still roam the halls of this hotel.

Guests report hearing the sound of footsteps, voices, and laughter is often heard above their rooms. Furniture is moved around in unoccupied rooms and music without an identifiable source is reported.

Two apparitions that interact with the guests include a young girl and an old man. The young girl, seen dressed in old-fashioned clothes, asks guests where her grandmother is and then vanishes into thin air.

The ghost of an old man has a beard. He also wears 18th-century clothing. He is said to nod at the guests politely and like the young ghost then just disappears.

People who have not experienced any of this paranormal activity for themselves still state the Place d’ Armes has a definite otherworldly feel to it.

For years it has been considered one of New Orleans “most haunted.” Many of the haunted tours through the Quarter include at stop at the Place d’ Armes.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Bassa Villa: Pint Glasses Smashed

Yet another pub in England appears to be haunted.

Bassa Villa in Bridgnorth
The Bassa Villa pub in Shropshire, England caught on their CCTV-- security cameras--an unseen force hurling pint glasses off the bar’s shelves.

Unusual activity is something that new owner Nick Bevon is used to. He has worked in the pub for years and has experienced unexplained activity in the past.

While working alone he has had his wrist grabbed down in the cellar and he has seen a mysterious figure walk across the bar—all the while wondering if it was just his imagination.

Bevon and many others have also heard strange noises in the pub’s cellar.

The most notable incident although happened last month-- in mid August. Nick and his assistant manager entered the pub one morning to find smashed glass all over the floor.

Thinking someone had broken in the night before Nick checked the pub’s security cameras.

He was surprised to see glass pints falling from various bar shelves at 1:43 a.m. without any apparent assistance.

He checked the scene from several camera angles but concluded no one was in the pub at the time these glasses fell.

Scene from the video footage.
Bevon states, “I do not believe in ghosts but I can’t see any other explanation for this.”

The activity in the pub is attributed to the mother of two children who drowned in the building. It is said she is the dark lady seen walking around the pub.

In the 1600s, when the pub was known as the Magpie House, these two children, Charlotte and William drowned while playing hide and seek when the pub’s basement was flooded from the River Severn.

Bevon looking down the well.
However, Nick Bevon recently discovered an old well in the pub’s cellar—he thinks the children might have drowned in this well instead.

The following is some of the activity that Bassa Villa’s security camera’s caught last month.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Loss of Mark and Debby Constantino

Death is not a period but a comma in the story of life.

In happier times.
The paranormal community received startling and sad news this week. Mark and Debby Constantino who were featured several times doing EVPs on Ghost Adventures died in an apparent murder/suicide yesterday.

Debby filed for divorce earlier this month.

The two recently had arguments over money that ended in physical violence—in March Debby was arrested for scratching and slicing Mark’s arm open with a kitchen knife.

Mark and their daughter Raquel were arrested in August and charged with kidnapping Debby breaking her nose and strangling her.

The court let Raquel and Mark out on bond with the stipulation they stay away from Debby.

Yesterday, September 22, Mark went to the home where Debby lived in north Reno and shot and killed her male roommate and then kidnapped Debby.

Another female roommate alerted the police that Debby was missing.

The police went to Mark’s apartment in Sparks where he opened fire on them. They and the FBI spent several hours trying to coax Mark to surrender. When they entered the unit they discovered both Mark and Debby dead.

May both their souls rest in peace.

This is a horrific tragedy for everyone involved but as time passes I hope the Constantino’s will be remembered for the contributions they made to paranormal investigations.

I observed first hand how they conducted EVP sessions, which changed the way I do EVPs. I wrote a post about their unique method back in 2011, here.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Storm

Since her husband’s death Sarah had wanted to move her three young children from the family farm into town. She delayed because the farm had meant so much to her husband.

A near tragedy changed her mind. With the spring rains came torrential floods. One storm in particular lasted 3 days. The winds threatened to blow the old house down.

The firewood was running out so Sarah sent her oldest son, Daniel to fetch more. She warned him as he donned his rain slicker to be very careful.

She watched from the front porch as Daniel made his way to the woodpile. He was trudging back to the house when a large branch from a dead sycamore tree snapped.

She screamed a warning but it was too late, this branch struck Daniel’s head knocking him off his feet. She ran to his side picked him up and carried him back to the house all the time calling his name—she received no response.

Daniel’s head was bleeding profusely and his face was pale. Sarah knew she must get help, but how? The farm was ten miles from the nearest town and high water had washed the bridge out.

Finding no solution, Sarah became frantic. The sounds of the wind outside were joined by a distinct knock on the front door. At first Sarah thought it was her imagination but as the knocks became more persistent she cautiously opened the door.

Two rain-soaked men stood in front of her. One was chubby and short the other was tall and lanky. Sarah managed to stutter that her son was injured and could they bring help.

The taller of the two quickly moved passed her and took off his hat. She recognized him as a visiting doctor by the name of Tucker who had been the guest of the local doctor three years before.

Relieved she quickly led him to where Daniel lay. He examined her son and concluded he needed an operation to save his life. His friend handed him a large black bag Sarah had not seen when they stood on the dark porch.

Dr. Tucker took Sarah’s arm gently and suggested she take the smaller children into the next room and get some rest. Sarah reluctantly complied and was surprised she was able to doze off.

When she awoke the operation was over. Doctor Tucker assured her there was nothing to worry about Daniel would be fine. Relieved, Sarah thanked him and invited the two men to dinner.

She went to the kitchen to see what she could prepare, when she returned the two men were gone.

After the storm had passed, Sarah went into town. She ran into the local doctor and told him how grateful that Doctor Tucker had happened by her farm.

Dr. Jones listened to her story with a puzzled expression. He hesitated and then told her she must be mistaken for Doctor Tucker had been killed in a train accident the year before.

This story has been told in many different forms—it is another gem that Ruth Ann Musick collected for her book Coffin Hollow.