Saturday, October 31, 2015

Frightening Tale: The Hook

I first heard this story when I was seven. My older sister who was in high school in the early 1960s often told my other sister and myself stories she heard at school, or while she was out with friends, on dates etc.

The story of The Hook was first told in the 1950s. During this time Lovers Lanes where teens drove to make-out were at there most popular.

This story was originally told as a cautionary tale to scare teens away from promiscuous activities.

The high school football star and his girlfriend were out on a Friday night date. After the obligatory meal and movie he drove out to the overlook where the town’s Lover’s Lane was located.

He parked his car so they had a nice view of the city lights. It was a cold fall night so they rolled their windows up and he tuned his radio low to a pop station.

As they began to kiss they were startled to hear a loud bulletin blare from the radio. It was a warning, a convict had escaped from a nearby prison and everyone was to be on the lookout.

The man was believed to still be wearing his prison clothes and he could be identified from the fact that he had a hook instead of a left hand.

This damped the romantic mood and the girl wanted to head home but her boyfriend reassured her there was nothing to worry about, the prison was on the opposite end of their town.

The two teens soon forgot the warning and continued to make out until the girl heard something that sounded like a scratching on the car door nearest her.

She jerked up and asked her boyfriend if he had heard it too. Annoyed at the interruption he told her no. He told her there was nothing to be scared of. He proceeded to kiss her once more but she heard the scratches again.

She firmly pushed him away and stated that it was not her imagination something was outside moving around their car in the dark.

Realizing he could not recapture the mood the boy shook his head in disgust. She pressed closer to his side and gripped his arm as she heard the scratching once more.

She insisted he take her home.

Angry and frustrated he turned the engine on and backed the car out more quickly than he intended. The pair barely talked as he drove her home.

By the time he stopped at the front of her house, he had cooled down. Being a gentleman he got out of his car to open her door. When he reached out to pull the handle open he stopped.

There hanging from the passenger side door handle was a bloody hook.

Scared To Death

What original prison looked like.
Credit: Oklahoma Historical Society
Oklahoma’s Guthrie Territorial Prison was the state’s first official prison. Its 15-inch thick walls and the fact that its lower level was underground and heavily guarded made escapes almost impossible.

This prison was constructed of brick and a dark limestone taken from a local quarry. Because of this dark color the locals and prisoners nicknamed it the Black Jail.

This prison because of a lack of ventilation was cold and damp in the winter and sweltering hot in the summer. Around the time Oklahoma became a state the Black Jail was closed down.

The Nazarene Church took over the property and renovated it. They used the old prison until the 1970s. Then an orphanage for young children moved in—run by the Samaritan Foundation-- but in the mid 1990s the building was found an unfit environment for this purpose mainly because of the lack of ventilation and insulation.

What prison looks like today.
Since its territorial prison days this structure has had paranormal activity. The sounds of men’s voices are heard on the first floor, in the basement area and in the hallways.

A ghost-hunting group recorded the sounds of metal doors slamming shut—despite the fact that all but one of these prison metal doors had been removed years before.

Witnesses have reported seeing fleeting images of prisoners in several of the old cells. In one cell a phantom prisoner is heard coughing.

A female ghost, believed to have been a member of the Nazarene Church is heard singing on the ground floor near the main entrance. This ghost has also been seen wearing a long dress and crossing Noble Street walking toward the main entrance.

The sounds of children playing outside the prison have also been heard. It is not known whether these spirits are connected to the days when the building was a Church or was an orphanage.

But by far the most active ghost connected to the Black Jail is a prisoner by the name of James Phillips. He was held at the Territorial Prison until his unexpected death in 1907.

Phillips was convicted of murdering a resident of Guthrie and was kept in solitary confinement in the prison’s basement level. He was slated to die by hanging.

The scaffolding for this execution was constructed on Noble Street directly across the street from the Black Jail.

Phillips had a view of this construction from his cell window. As the days passed and he watched the gallows completion it meant it was closer to the date of his death—it is said this traumatized him.

Not long before he was to be hanged, Phillips was found dead in his cell by the guards. It was determined it was heart failure—due to the fact Phillips was forced to watch his own gallows being built in front of him. So he literally died of fright.

It is said that Phillip’s emotional turmoil is the reason his ghost still lingers. His presence is felt in his old cell and the surrounding areas.

Shortly after his death, guards, and other prisoners claimed they heard footsteps within his cell and along the hallway that leads to it. In the years since visitors have made similar reports.

There have also been several reports of people seeing an apparition at the window of Phillip’s old cell. This ghost is looking out toward the location of his anticipated death on Noble Street.

Several of these witnesses have stated the face they saw at this window held an expression of fear and horror.

The sound of a man sobbing is also heard coming from Phillip’s cell.

Excerpts from Haunted Route 66 by Richard Southall

Friday, October 30, 2015

Campfire Tale: Not Myself

I stepped off the bus shading my eyes from the bright sunlight. The familiar stately stone buildings that lined my hometown’s downtown area surrounded me.

I looked at the bustling crowd that walked passed me on the sidewalk wondering which direction I should take.

As I walked down the sidewalk I was confused. Why was I here instead of at work? Where had I been earlier? Where was my car? Why was I riding a city bus?

It dawned on me that I didn’t even know what time it was.

As a woman approached me I smiled and said, “Miss, I am sorry, I forgot my watch . . . before I could ask for the time she dropped her purse, screamed and ran.

The faces of the other people near me—all looked frightened. They were going out of their way to avoid me—some flattered themselves against the building—others ran across the street.

I realized that there must be something wrong with me. Scared myself, I decided I best head home. I hailed a cab.

When this taxi driver got closer to where I stood he sped away.

Why is everyone acting so crazy?

Not understanding what was going on I decided to call home and ask my wife Jean to pick me up. I walked to a pay phone and put in several coins.

A strange voice answered my home phone. I asked to speak to Jean.

The female voice responded. “I’m sorry she isn’t home. Her husband died in a horrible car crash two days ago. She is at his funeral.”

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Terrifying Tales: Myrtle Hill Murderer

It is said this evil woman crawls out of her grave in search of her next victim.

Myrtle Hill Cemetery
Myrtle Hill Cemetery is located in Liverpool Township, Medina County, Ohio. 

An alarming legend surrounds this cemetery. It includes a haunting and an insane woman who reaches up and grabs people if they dare to stand near her grave.

This popular legend supposedly began in the 1920s. A middle-aged wife and mother found herself living in a nightmare. Both her husband and her three sons were abusive toward her.

With no support and nowhere to turn, it is said this wife and mother slowly went mad. Lost in her own world, she began to plot how to kill her family.

One day, drawing water from the family well, a plan came into her frenzied mind. She would poison the well. That evening at supper, her husband and sons drinking this water, dropped dead.

Since the water was now poisoned, she dragged each of the four men’s bodies to the well, she hoisted them over the edge and dropped them down into the contaminated water.

When her neighbors questioned where her family was, she told them that they were away helping a relative. But when she could not provide any specifics, these people became suspicious.

Their suspicions were confirmed when a foul smell was noticed by the family well. The mad woman was arrested and put on trial.

Her defense brought in several neighbors to testify that her family abused her cruelly. She was found not guilty, by reason of insanity, and placed in an insane asylum.

Years later, when she died, her body was returned to her old home and buried in the Myrtle Hill Cemetery.

It wasn’t long before rumors were spread. It was said this murderous woman could climb out of her grave and claim new victims. Many believed she was a witch. The locals now frightened paid to have a large ball-shaped stone placed over her grave.

This was to keep her buried and people away from her grave.

This marker actually does not mark a grave but
instead marks the Stoskopf family plot.
But their efforts to keep people away just attracted more thrill-seekers. This was when something odd was noticed about this round stone.

During the winter months, people reported this stone was scorching hot to the touch. And during the summer months, the stone was ice cold. The locals felt this stone was also warning people to stay away.

Beginning in the 1940s, people also stated they saw a ghostly woman walking around the Myrtle Hill Cemetery—rumors spread this was the insane murderer.

The above is just a legend but it is based upon the following true story.

In 1925, 45-year old Martha Wise –whose family lived near the Myrtle Hill Cemetery—prepared New Year’s dinner for her family. She included an extra helping of arsenic for everyone.

She had previously murdered her first husband, Albert Wise and her mother, Sophie Hasel. At her trial, Martha admitted to poisoning several of her children--they survived--but her aunt and uncle died.

She stated the devil told her to do it.

Wise was placed in a reformatory on a first-degree murder charge. But later this charge was reduced to second-degree murder. She was granted parole in 1962, at the age of 74. She died in 1971 at the age of 83.

Two of her victims were buried at Myrtle Hill Cemetery. Some believe the ghost that is seen wandering the cemetery is actually Sophie Hasel—Wise’s mother.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Haunted Object: The Pupa

The word Pupa is Latin for doll. Pupa is considered haunted, she was made to look like her future owner in the 1920s. This was a common practice during this period. Pupa even has hair that was taken from the little Italian girl who was to own her.

This trend is still done today—minus using the owner’s hair—the American Doll line called Just Like You makes dolls to look like their owners.

Pupal is 14 inches tall and her head, arms and legs are all made of felt. She still wears her original blue suit and has a large blue bow attached to her hair.

Here is the owner her baby
brother and her doll in
The little girl that was to become this doll’s owner cherished Pupa so much she kept her close her entire life. She eventually moved from Trieste, Italy to America.

The owner told her grandchildren that her doll “had a mind of her own.” She confided that the doll talked to her and that at one point Pupa even saved her life. The details of this story have not been shared.

In 2005 when the doll’s owner died, her family placed Pupa in a glass display case in order to preserve her. However, the family reports this doll does not like her new home.

Shortly after being placed in this case the family found it steamed up with a thick fog. They noticed what appeared to be a child’s fingertip pressed into the glass and the words, “Pupa hate” written on the glass.

They have observed that if items Pupa does not like are placed to close to her she pushes them away.

The family states that this doll has moved on several occasions. They have heard what sounds like tapping on the case only to find Pupa’s hand pressed against the glass.

At other times they have found the doll’s legs crossed when she was not left in this position. They also state her facial features change expression.

This is similar to two other haunted dolls: Mandy and Robert which stories are told here and here.

Creepiest of all, was one member of the family watched as Pupa got up and walked around the glass case. He videotaped this but when he went to upload this video—it was masked in a thick white fog and the words, “Pupa no” appeared.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

State Theatre: Freddy’s Ghost

State Theatre—now known as State Theatre Center for the Arts has one beloved ghost.

This theatre that opened in 1925 is in Easton, Pennsylvania. Architect William H. Lee designed it. He took his inspiration for his design from the Davanzanti Palace in Florence, Italy. The result is a unique blend of beauty and grace.

State Theater
The State Theatre was first used for touring vaudeville acts. When this era ended it like most theaters in the U.S. was then used as a movie theater.

From the 1930s until the 1960s J. Fred Osterstock managed this theater. He loved the building so much that during the flood of 1955 he lived in his office to protect the building.

After Fred’s death in the 1970s, the theatre fell on hard times. Its beautiful frescoes and artwork were painted over. The building was now used for rock concerts.

This activity evidently stirred up Freddy’s ire. It was during this time his ghost began to make appearances.

J. Fred Osterstock
The theaters’ night maintenance staff was the first to see Freddy’s ghost. On several occasions, they spotted a man who they thought was trespassing.

They first saw him standing in the back of the theater. When they approached him, he vanished into thin air. This shocked them for he appeared real.

On another occasion, they watched this figure as it went into a utility closet—they followed him, but he just disappeared.

They were so alarmed they called in the police. The first time the officers found nothing. The second time they were called out, the officers brought their police dogs.

Once in the theater, these dogs stopped in their tracks and refused to move. They stood still, their hair on end and growled at a sight no one else could see.

In the 1970s historian Ken Klabunde was closing the building for the night when he spotted a figure walk off the stage while he was alone. Intrigued, he did some research. He discovered a photo of Freddy and realized this was the man he had seen.

By the 1980s the theater was in such terrible shape plans were made to tear it down. A group of concerned citizens came together and saved the building.

Today, the State Theatre has been restored to its original beauty. Live theatre and concerts are performed in the building once more.

Freddy’s ghost still haunts the building—it appears he is pleased. He is so active, a live radio show broadcasts from the building every Halloween. Listeners can call in with their questions for Freddy.

His ghost is so appreciated that the State Theatre gives out an award named the “Freddy Awards.” This ceremony is the theatre's own Oscars.

2014 Freddy Awards
Photo: Bill Adams

Friday, October 23, 2015

A Beloved Home

Over the years as people have discovered I have an interest in ghosts they have opened up and shared their ghost stories with me. They have shared stories that happened to them, a relative or even a friend.

A co-worker told one of the best stories I have ever heard.

This woman had grown up back east and later moved with her husband to New Mexico.

When she was a young child her father and mother had moved the family, which included three daughters to a rural suburb outside the city. The girls were ecstatic for they now had several acres to explore.

They moved into a small house on the property. This house became a life-long obsession for her father. She told me she couldn’t remember a time while growing up where their new home was not under construction or being renovated. 

The kitchen alone was changed so often that her mother often stated that her children grew up with a helping of sawdust in their food.

She laughed and told me that sometimes she wondered whom her father loved more, his family or their home. He would sometimes leave special events in his daughters’ lives early, such as graduations, just so he could finish laying floor tiles etc.

Years after his daughters married and his wife had passed her father still lived in his beloved home. He died—no surprise—doing what he loved, fixing something in his home.

Several years later when this co-worker and her husband were visiting friends and family in their home state, the sister they were staying with received an odd phone call.

The woman that now lived in the home where they grew up requested to meet them. They arranged to have lunch together the next day.

The woman told them she loved their old home. Even though the suburb was not as rural as it once had been the house was still surrounded by untouched acreage.

She told them that the summer before her daughter had held her wedding reception at the home. My co-worker and her sister thought this was nice but they noticed the lady was becoming nervous.

She finally bent down and pulled out a photograph from her purse. She told them it was a photo taken at the reception. She mentioned that when the photographer had her daughter view the wedding pictures so she could choose which ones she wanted he had gone out of his way to point out this one.

Uncomfortable now, she told the sisters that this photo, which was of the wedding party lined up, had a strange transparent man at the end of the bride’s side.

He was unusual because he was not dressed for a wedding instead he wore paint overalls and a work hat. None of her family or herself remembered seeing this man during the reception.

At this point, the sisters requested to see the photo. It was their father at the end of the line. His ghost was still hanging out at his beloved home.

Years later, while visiting this co-worker at her home she took me over to a photo that hung on her living room wall. It was the wedding reception photo with her father.

The Night Watchman

A dark figure is seen moving about on the fourth and fifth floors . . .

New York State Capitol
The New York State Capitol building in Albany has one ghost that many have seen over the years. In March of 1911 this building caught fire. There was one casualty. A night watchman by the name of Sam Abbott was killed by smoke inhalation.

Tragically, Abbott was just steps away from escaping when he was overcome by the smoke. Shortly after his body was found and the Capitol was repaired people began to see and hear odd things near where Sam died.

One worker caught a dark figure in one photograph, another time when he and his friends spotted the dark figure walking through the hall he tried to snap another photo but his camera malfunctioned. When he moved to a lower floor his camera worked fine.

Photo of 1911 fire.
This man’s office is located above the library near where Abbott died. He states he often feels that someone is watching him. He has also become nauseous during the times he has experienced this activity.

He feels the ghost is not a shadow figure but instead a three-dimensional figure that wears dark clothing.

Others have captured glowing streaks of light on the fourth and fifth floors in photos they have taken.

Another witness also saw the night watchman. A female employee working late one night on the fifth floor ran into a man dressed as a night watchman.

He stopped and asked her if everything was okay. She reassured him that she was fine and then returned to her office. She later mentioned this encounter to a colleague—this person asked her “What guard?”

She was told there was no guard on duty. Later, when she saw a picture of Sam Abbott she said that was the guard who talked to her.

Late at night, maintenance staff have also encountered the phantom night watchman.

Several report an unseen presence touched them as they vacuumed and emptied the trash. Others have said their vacuums turned off mysteriously and then they heard someone whisper in their ears.

This activity happens so frequently that some of these cleaners have requested not to be assigned to this area anymore.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Jersey Devil

They say . . . in the Pinelands of southern New Jersey there is a monster that haunts-- it is known as the Leed’s Devil. This devil when seen resembles a dragon with a head like a horse, the body of a snake, a forked tail and wings like a bat.

This devil—the Jersey Devil—wrecks havoc upon farmer’s crops and livestock, it poisons water sources-- pools and creeks and when it is seen on the Jersey shore—it is considered a harbinger—for soon after ships wreck.

So beware of this monster with the flashing red eyes.

This well-known legend is rooted in New Jersey’s past. It began with a woman’s curse.

Deborah Smith emigrated from England in the 1700s to marry a man named Leeds. The couple settled in the New Jersey Pine Barrens in Galloway Township, Atlantic County.

Their life together was not a happy one. Mr. Leeds was a lazy drunk who rarely worked. Deborah put food on the table for their twelve children by sewing shirts.

When Deborah discovered that she was pregnant with her 13th child it is said she snapped. She cursed her ner’er-do-well husband and invoked the power of the devil.

It is said she wished her thirteenth child “may be the devil.” So revenge could rain down on Mr. Leeds.

She got her wish for soon after this child was born it turned into the dragon like creature described above and flew off. The legend states that her family was truly cursed for the Leed’s Devil not only killed her husband but several of her other children.

One dipiction of the Jersey Devil
Some believe the origin of this legend is actually rooted in a superstition widely believed in the 1700s. People during this time believed in witchcraft and they felt a child born with a deformity—which might have been the case with the Leed’s 13th child—was a sign God cursed the child.

Regardless, the belief in the creature known as the Jersey Devil has persisted ever since. For over 200 years, there have been numerous sightings of this flying devil.

In the 1870s a Long beach fisherman claimed he saw the Jersey Devil serenading a mermaid.

A famous sighting occurred in 1909 when a councilman, E.P. Weeden in Trenton claimed that he was awakened by the sound of flapping wings outside his bedroom window. He stated he found cloven hoof prints in the snow after this.

Soon, other residents stated they also saw similar hoof prints. Within a week thousands of residents in the area stepped forward to say they had seen the Devil. Local newspapers wrote several stories about these sightings.

It wasn’t long before sightings were also reported in Pennsylvania and Delaware.

In 1978, two teens ice-skating in Chatsworth near the Barrens claimed to smell an odor of “dead fish” and then they spotted two red eyes staring at them. They didn’t stay around to see the rest.

Many more witnesses have come forward to state they did not see the Jersey Devil but instead heard it “rampaging through the woods, or emitting blood curdling cries.”

In the 1960s, strange tracks were discovered near May’s Landing—rumors stated it must be the Jersey Devil. When loud shrieks were also heard in the area local Camden merchants offered a $10,000 reward for the capture of the creature. They stated they would build a zoo to display it.

This reward remains unclaimed.

Excerpts from Spooky Campfire Tales, by S.E. Schlosser and The New Jersey Historical Society.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Yosemite Indian Museum

Half Dome and Merced River in fall.
Nestled in the mountainous terrain of the Sierra Nevada in California, the 1,200 squares miles that encompass Yosemite National Park was first preserved in 1864 by Abraham Lincoln. The park opened in 1890.

At the beginning of this month, Yosemite commemorated its 125 anniversary.

Yosemite is known for its spectacular waterfalls, valleys and mountains. It offers grand meadows, ancient sequoias trees, lakes and streams and some of the world’s best rock climbing. Four million people visit the park every year.

The areas first inhabitants were Native people—the Tsa’lagil or Miwok. The park first celebrated this fact with the establishment of the Indian Village in 1920. Today, nearby this village is the park’s Indian Museum.

Yosemite Museum
According to Antonio R. Garcez’ book, American Indian Ghost Stories of the West Yosemite Park and this museum are both haunted by Native Americans.

The spirits of these Indians are seen moving throughout the park. Some are even heard singing. Reports of this activity are common near streams and waterfalls.

One female Native American park ranger and storyteller states that in the corner of the Indian Museum building there is an Indian burial ground. This location is not widely shared—out of respect for the dead.

This park ranger feels that other spirits are drawn to this area because the museum displays fine artifacts, such as baskets *, that these spirits are proud of and attached to.

* These baskets are valued at between 10,000 and 15,000 dollars.

Shadow people are seen in this museum as well as display lights tend to flicker. But by far the most compelling activity revolves around the museum’s mannequins.

This paranormal activity has startled more than one person.

These mannequin’s faces were cast or molded from real Native American’s faces that were deceased at the time.

An unusual sound often heard in this museum is the shrieks of visitors. When they are approached to find out what is going on they all describe seeing various mannequin’s heads turning and looking at them.

Other reports include details of these mannequin’s eyes and mouths moving.

What is interesting about this activity is the fact that the local Native Americans believe that it is disrespectful to stare or look straight at the spirits of the deceased.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Typical Encounters with Ghosts

The most common ghost encounters people experience are subtle in nature. These encounters can be scary, but most witnesses do not report the widespread stereotyped spirits that are portrayed in books and films.

Ghosts rarely confront or come after the living.

On this blog, many stories of true hauntings are shared. The witnesses in these stories often report just feeling the ghost’s presence as opposed to seeing it. But they know a presence is there and the fact they cannot explain it is scary enough.

How is that chair moving? Where did those footprints come from? Who is walking upstairs? Who opened that door? Who slammed the door shut? Where is that rose perfume coming from? What brushed against my leg? Who is whispering? Who is humming? Who turned off the light? Why is my dog growling? Where is the banging sound coming from? Why is this side of the room freezing cold?

People that experience hauntings often report unusual smells and sounds. These may lead to a sighting, but more often not.

This is why seeing an apparition is considered the "Holy Grail."

A hundred to one, people report being touched by something unseen as opposed to accounts that state a person saw a ghost touch them.

In the accounts I share, hardly ever is there an encounter where a ghost talks to someone—granted they make noise, but they do not carry on conversations.

EVP’s are the exception to this--but in these instances, the ghost’s voice is recorded--the spirit is not seen or heard talking in real time.

One of the creepiest things a witness can experience is seeing a ghost in a photo when it wasn’t there at the time the picture was snapped. This happens more often than most realize.

The fact that witnesses experience all this “unseen” activity actually makes it scarier. When something is unseen people’s imaginations, kick in, and their imaginings often make things tens times worse than they actually are.

Most hauntings are benign in nature but the way the living experience them makes them infinitely scarier.