Monday, August 7, 2017

The City that Lives Upon Her Dead

The title of this post is the nickname given to Savannah, Georgia. This southern city is called this because their old burial grounds were paved over without moving the graves that lay beneath.

Colonial Park Cemetery

This fact has led to reported ghostly sightings across Savannah. But many locals agree their city’s Historic District is the most haunted.

In the middle of this district is the six-acre Colonial Park Cemetery that dates back to 1750. Over 10,000 souls are buried here despite the fact there are only 1,000 headstones that remain.

The reasons for this vary. Over 700 victims of the 1820s yellow fever epidemic are buried in mass graves at Colonial. This graveyard also has many family vaults were family members were placed. Their remains turned to dust and placed in urns so the next generation of deceased could be placed on the shelves—this cycle then continued.

Gravestones displaced by Union
Many of Colonial’s gravestones were moved or disfigured by Union troops during the Civil War, which leads to more confusion of where the deceased are buried.

But the most compelling factor is when the cemetery’s boundaries were shortened the surrounding streets, i.g. Abercorn and Oglethorpe was paved over, and many of the graves were left under them.

One area of Colonial today is a children’s playground and basketball court. Sightings of ghosts believed to be deceased men who were killed in duels are reported here. Other sightings in the cemetery include shadow figures and a green mist that floats among the gravestones.

By far, the most famous haunting at this park is known as the “Hanging Tree” ghost. Locals and tourists are fascinated by this story, which has taken on epic proportions.

A male ghost, known as Rene Rondolier, is often seen walking through Colonial or hanging from a tree called the “Hanging Tree.” located at the back wall of the cemetery.

It is said Rondolier is easy to spot because he is almost 7 feet in height. His ghost is infamous because it is believed he murdered two young girls in this graveyard. He then was lynched either on the Hanging Tree or in a nearby square.

Footnote: There is little historical evidence that Rondolier ever existed, but this story through several generations has taken on folkloric status.

Despite this fact, there have been so many witnesses to this haunting as well as others that paranormal investigators in the area have dubbed Colonial Park “Paranormal Central” and of course ghost tours are offered.

Ghostly figure captured at Colonial

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Little Hands

First-person account from the Reader’s Digest:

When my mother was a teenager, she lived in a haunted house. What is unusual about this is she never talked about it. She did tell me a story about an encounter with a ghost, but it didn’t occur in her home.

A few houses down from her home lived a family with two daughters. The younger of the two girls went to bed complaining of a terrible headache.

The family discovered this little girl had died during the night. It was determined she had an aneurysm.

Overwhelmed with grief, this family left town for a while after the funeral. They asked my uncle to take care of their pets.

My mother and father were dating at the time, and they asked to go along. My mother really wanted to play the family’s grand piano.

As the trio entered the house, the two men went to the basement to feed the pets, my mother headed straight for the piano. As she played, she felt something brush her ankles. She continued to play thinking one of the cats must have escaped.

A few moments later, she felt the soft brushes again. She looked under the piano but saw nothing. As she started to play again, she felt two small hands grab each leg tightly.

She got up and ran to the basement door. The two men responded quickly to her panicked call. When they arrived at the top of the stairs, she described what had happened.

Her uncle turned white. He told her a story the neighbor had told him at the funeral. The deceased daughter always played a game with her father as he played the piano.

She would crawl under the piano and grab his ankles and then push his feet up and down on the pedals.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

An Evil Presence in Georgia

Old Chatham jail
The Old Chatham County jail in Savannah, Georgia is so haunted people are actually encouraged not to visit.

This jail established in 1737, housed 300 prisoners in its 250 plus year history. It was closed in 1989 to move the inmates to a larger facility.

The county then used the building to store city archives. It was at this point city employees began to report strange activity.

These witnesses reported hearing footsteps and voices without known sources. Several stated they felt they were continuously watched.

They reported being touched, pushed and even thrown against walls by an unseen force.

Paranormal researchers were called in. These groups collected videos of ghostly figures, frightening EVPs and a variety of Poltergeist activity. One group witnessed a 150-pound metal plate fly across the room they were standing in. This plate hit the opposite wall with such force it marred it.

One cell in the old building is more active than any other location. It is believed to house the malevolent spirit of Carl Isaacs.

Carl Isaacs Jr.
Isaacs escaped from a Maryland jail in 1973. He and his two brothers headed to Florida in hopes Carl would not be re-captured. They ran out of gas in Georgia and landed at a dry station.

Isaacs and his brothers decided to rob a trailer home that sat in the back of this station. But the Alday family who lived there interrupted their burglary.

Isaacs held the five male members of the family at gunpoint. He and his brothers shot and killed them the men. They then raped and shot Mary Alday and dumped her body in the woods.

A few days later Isaacs was arrested, he still had the murder weapons in his possession. These murders are still considered some of the worst in Georgia history.

Carl Isaacs was put in Chatham County jail where he sat on death row for years. Since his death, his ghost has terrified witnesses.

Paranormal investigators report an overwhelming sense of dread while they were in his cell. They state that afterward, this feeling is hard to shake.

This oppressive energy is considered evil in nature. These investigators experiences have dictated who is allowed to tour this old jail. Paranormal teams are allowed in, but others who apply are turned away.

I recently heard this building has been demolished. Will the activity now stop?

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Moundsville Penitentiary

This old prison still stands in West Virginia. It operated for 119 years. During the years it was run it was considered one of America’s most violent correctional facilities.

"Old Sparky"
Close to 1,000 men that entered its doors died while incarcerated. Some died by hanging or later by electric chair. Others were murdered by fellow inmates or took their own lives.

Moundsville was notorious for violent riots that were caused by overcrowding. In the 1950s the prison was filled beyond capacity—each 5X7 foot cell housed three prisoners. This was later deemed inhumane.

Moundsville was closed down in 1995--  tours are offered today. Staff and visitors have reported seeing shadows and hearing strange noises in the old prison.

One of the first sightings was of one inmate who was brutally murdered by fellow prisoners. The room he haunts is the reception area of the prison. It was dubbed, “The Sugar Shack” by the inmates because of the fights, rapes, and murders that often occurred in this room.

The Sugar Shack
The murdered inmate, R. D. Wall met his fate here. He was cut and stabbed to the point that his body was found later in many pieces. His ghost is spotted lurking in the dark corners in the Sugar Shack.

Shadow figure photographed
by Polly Gear
A dark shadow has been seen in this area as well. This entity has shown up in photos taken.

Other restless spirits have also been seen in other parts of this prison. Some speculate these are the men who were executed.

To add to this activity is the fact that the town of Moundsville, West Virginia is named after many Native American, Adena, burial mounds located in the area. It is said these spirits have been seen by many.

With all this mysterious activity would you dare to take one of the night tours offered at Moundsville?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Haunted Ceiling

H. G. Wells
A recent discovery uncovered a lost story by the 19th-century author H. G. Wells. It is an intriguing ghost story entitled The Haunted Ceiling.

Some of Wells’ most famous stories include: The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, and The Island of Doctor Moreau.

Experts on Wells stories feel this newly discovered manuscript written by Wells in the mid-1890s does not reflect his best work but I have read it and found it fun and surprising.

Andrew Gulli, the editor of Stand Magazine, found the manuscript in an extensive archive at the University of Illinois which keeps many of Wells papers. Gulli published The Haunted Ceiling in late November of 2016 in issue #50.

The story begins with a male character named Meredith speaking to a friend who is visiting. He looks up at the ceiling and states:

“Don’t you see it?”
“See what?”
“The thing. The woman.”
I shook my head and looked at him.
“All right then, don’t see it.”

The story then involves its main character on a macabre journey that includes strange events that occur in the old house he resides in.

Wells often told gothic tales where his characters doubted what they experienced, especially if they encountered something supernatural.

The Haunted Ceiling is similar to another ghost story Wells published around the same time—“The Red Room”. In this story, a skeptic—a scientist-- spends a terrifying night in a castle room trying to debunk claims it is haunted.

The Haunted Ceiling unlike The Red Room has a surprise ending.

The issue of the Strand Magazine that shared this story for the first time can be bought here.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Wolf Creek Inn

Wolf Creek Inn
This inn was first called the “Wolf Creek Tavern” when it opened in the 1880s. It is the oldest continuously operated inn in the Pacific Northwest.

In its heyday, it serviced weary travelers that made the 16-day journey north from San Francisco to Portland, Oregon.

Jack London is said to have finished his story Valley of the Moon while staying at Wolf Creek, in the summer of 1911. He is one of the spirits that have been seen and heard in the inn since his death in 1916.

In later years, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks stayed at Wolf Creek. Clark Gable, his wife Carol Lombard and Orson Wells also stayed at the inn. John Wayne rented a room while he filmed Rooster Cogburn.

The inn today has a variety of spirits that still make appearances. One favorite ghost story is about a stagecoach driver named, One-Eyed Charlie Parkhurst. During the Gold Rush years, Charlie was known to be one of the toughest drivers along the northern route.

Stagecoach Drivers
Quotes about Charlie include “He drove his team hard, cussed up a storm and spat tobacco juice harder than anyone else.”

Charlie had a reputation for never missing a day’s work—except the day after payday when he was too hung over to drive.

In 1868, Charlie registered to vote, he told friends so he could vote for Ulysses S. Grant.

When Charlie Parkhurst died at the age of 67, the mortician that tended his body was in for a shock. Charlie was actually “Charlotte,” an orphan girl who escaped her life by hiding as a man.

When Charlie voted in the 1868 presidential election, some believe she was the first woman in the U.S to cast a vote.

For years, people who have visited Wolf Creek claim to have seen the ghost of a rough dressed man on the main floor at the inn. This ghost’s voice has been picked up on EVPs. Many believe this is One-Eyed Charlie.

Some question this since Charlie died four years before the Wolf Creek Tavern opened. But this story was too good to pass up.

This inn is owned by the state of Oregon and is on the National Register of Historic Places.