Showing posts with label hauntings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hauntings. Show all posts

Monday, August 7, 2017

The City that Lives Upon Her Dead

Colonial Park Cemetery

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

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 6-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, were 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 historic 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

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Queen Mary, Part ll

In the first part of this post I share a short history of this famous haunted ship.

RMS Queen Mary while
still in service.
There are many stories told about the paranormal activity on the Queen Mary. The witness accounts shared here are the original sources for the stories that are pointed to today as proof this ship is haunted.

John Smith’s Story

John Smith firmly states he did not believe in ghosts. When the Queen Mary was first docked at Long Beach, Smith a marine engineer was given the task of checking out the ship.

He worked onboard in the evenings because he had a day job.

Over a two-month period, he heard unusual sounds in the ship’s bow. He described these sounds as metal tearing, water rushing in and then many men’s voices screaming.

“It sounded like there had been a rupture in the ship’s hull.”

When he would check out the area where these noises were coming from he found nothing that could have caused these distinct sounds.

Several years later, he read about a tragedy that had involved the Queen Mary during WWll. After being converted to a troop ship, the Queen Mary collided with a British cruiser named the Curacoa.

Over 300 men were killed in this accident. The Queen Mary’s bow sliced the Curacoa in half. Smith came to believe what he had heard was the echo of this disaster. He admits this discovery shocked and overwhelmed him.

In 1987, William G. Roll a noted Danish psychologist and
Parapsychologist who made his home in the U.S. was brought in to investigate the ship. He left a recorder running in the bow area over night.

This tape-recorded an even silence with the exception of a two-minute period around 4:00 a.m. in the morning. For this brief span sounds of metal banging, water rushing and men screaming were recorded.

It was around 4:00 a.m. when this disaster happened.

Mel Meter being used in bow of ship.

An Original Sighting of John Pedder

One full-bodied apparition that has been seen on the Queen Mary many times by both staff and tourists was a fireman named John Pedder.

Shaft Alley
Pedder worked in the ship’s engine room. It is said an he was crushed as Door/Hatch 13 closed in Shaft Alley during a fire drill in 1966.

These doors are used in case of an accident. They are closed in order to make various sections of the ship airtight to prevent it from sinking.

The men on board used to play a game to see how many times they could jump back and forth through these doors before they closed. One story states Pedder jumped through Door 13 one too many times.

The ghost of John Pedder is seen in Shaft Alley near this door and the engine room.

A former tour guide, Nancy Anne a self- proclaimed skeptic encountered his ghost in the late 1980s around 5:30 in the evening.

“I was working in the capacity of a lead guide, which meant my job was to close down the tour route and make sure there weren’t any stragglers left behind.”

Nancy recalls:

“I don’t know why I turned around, but I turned around and standing right behind me on the escalator step was a man. He had blue overalls that were dirty. When I stepped aside to let him go by he wasn’t there. He was gone.”

Nancy has always stated that she does not necessarily believe any other ghost stories that other people have come up with. She only knows what she saw with her own eyes.

Swimming Pool Ghosts

Server Carol Leyden during her 14th year as a waitress on the Queen Mary was in a dinning room early one morning before it opened. She spotted a lady sitting at one table.

She went over to pour a cup of coffee for this passenger when she noticed her 1940s’ cocktail-style dress. She also wore an old-fashioned hairstyle with her dark hair rolled to the sides.

Carol noted this lady wore no make-up and was very pale. She never saw this woman move. She left the table but turned back to take another look and there was no one in the dinning room.

Carol believes she spotted another ghost in the upper class passenger pool area. One day as she was standing by the stairs to the pool she spotted an elderly woman in her sixties or seventies wearing an old-fashioned swimsuit.

This lady appeared to be in black and white like an old film.

Nancy Anne also spotted this lady. She went down the stairs and around a pillar, expecting to see this swimmer but she wasn’t anywhere to be found. She had disappeared within seconds--she could not have moved without Nancy seeing her.

Yet another witness to ghostly activity was a maintenance supervisor, Kathy Love. She and a male coworker late one night heard mysterious sounds in the pool area as they inspected it.

They heard a little girl’s voice giggling and then they heard splashing. They saw this splashing but no one was in the pool. The splashing stopped but the giggling continued.

They watched transfixed as a set of small wet footprints made a beeline for the woman’s locker room.

First Class passenger swimming pool.

Unlike Smiths and Pedder’s stories, the backstory that is used to explain these two pool ghosts does not match the ship’s history. It is said they drowned in this pool but there is no record of anyone dying from a drowning on the Queen Mary.

In Queen Mary, Part l, the history of this famous ship is shared.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio

America was divided. Richard Nixon was president and American soldiers were dying in Vietnam everyday. Many Americans considered this war to be unnecessary and unjust.

On college campuses across the country students were protesting this war. President Nixon held a deep and paranoid animus toward these protestors, which he called “bums’ and “communists.”

Setting more fuel to the fire that raged, Nixon announced in a speech on April 30, 1970 that his administration was authorizing a military invasion of Cambodia.

In this same speech he stated:

“We live in a time of anarchy, abroad and at home.”

He went on to state that he would not tolerate an attack on the “great institutions, which have been created by a free civilization in the last 500 years.” Especially he noted, “universities.”

Shootings at Kent State University

The governor of Ohio in 1970 was James Rhodes. He agreed with Nixon’s opinion of student protestors. He hoped to be Nixon’s vice-presidential running mate in 1972.

After Nixon’s speech on April 30th Kent State erupted with protects against the war and Nixon.

Governor Rhodes denounced these protestors as “un-American.” He promised that the National Guard would “restore order.” They did exactly this with grisly results.

On May 4, 1970 a small group of guardsmen without warning or provocation fired 67 shots in the direction of dispersing demonstrators.

Four students, 2 men and 2 women were killed. The victims were: Allison Krause, Jeffery Miller, Sandra Scheuer and Bill Schroeder. Nine other students were wounded.

This photo taken by John Filo of
 runaway Mary Ann Vecehio
kneeling by Jeffrey Miller's body.
This photo won the Pulitzer Prize that year.
Of the 4 killed two weren’t even there to protest the war. Scheuer was crossing the parking lot en route to her next class.

Schroeder, a campus basketball star, was actually a member of the campus ROTC recruitment center, which student protestors had burnt to the ground just 3 days before.

He had simply stopped near the protest to see what all the fuss was about.

The university banned any protests on campus after May 3rd but the students despite this rallied on May 4th. The guardsmen fired tear gas into the crowd but the 600+ students continued to rally.

The guardsmen afterwards stated they “genuinely feared for their lives.” They were armed, none of the students were.

Some people whom were in support of these killings stated it was the student’s fault. They stated the ROTC center being burned and rocks being thrown 3 days previous to May 4th was provocation enough.

Many however did not feel this way. People cautioned “mere words” and “non-violent protest” could get you killed.

Four Students killed

Reaction to the Kent State killings was swift.

Students at over 900 universities and colleges launched a fresh wave of protests--which resulted in the first successful student strike in U.S. history.

People all over the U.S. became bitterly divided over Kent State just as they were over the war.

Despite this controversy, the Kent State massacre did shock the national conscience. In the end it was probably the leading factor that forced the Nixon administration to wind down the Vietnam War more quickly than they originally intended.

Vice-President Spiro Agnew, a former prosecutor, stunned his fellow conservatives when he admitted, “while not premeditated, the guardsmen actions had constituted “murder.”

Even though there were two witnesses, both former marines and Vietnam vets, who reported seeing a guardsman officer drop his hand to signal his troops to fire upon the fleeing students, no officers were held legally culpable for this action.

These men had all removed their nametags that day.

Most of the lawsuits that were brought on behalf of the dead students were dismissed.

Allison Krause’s parents, who sued the state of Ohio, eventually received a token “apology” and $15,000 in cash as compensation.

The Shooting Victim’s Ghosts

Unfortunately, Kent State will always be associated with the tragic events of May 4. 1970.

For 35 years of the 44 years since these shootings occurred the campus administration did not officially recognize the anniversary of this tragedy--that is until the 40th anniversary.

Parents and others held unofficial anniversary ceremonies instead.

But there are other reminders in various places around Kent State’s campus that keep these victims tragic end in the forefront.

Since their deaths, many witnesses believe the spirits of these four students still haunt the university grounds.

Four cement slabs in the shape of rectangular boxes mark the exact spot where each of the 4 killed exactly fell. Apparitions have been seen hovering over these cement markers.

Cement Markers

More often though their apparitions are seen in the commons area where Stopher Hall once stood. It was in this building that the bodies of the 4 killed where placed for several hours after they were shot.

There have also been numerous accounts that these 4 haunt their former dorm or apartment rooms. It is said that Allison Krause’s dorm room in Engleman Hall is especially active.

Here is Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young's famous song about this tragedy-- Ohio along with pictures of student protests of the time.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

New Mexico State Penitentiary Riot, Part ll

Bars torched to enter cell.
The New Mexico State Penitentiary was the location for the second deadliest prison riot in U.S. history. In a 36-hour period in 1980 the prison was trashed and acts of torture, rape and murder were carried out against many prisoners. No guards were killed but several were assaulted.

The state pen was closed down after this riot, never to be used as a prison again. A new maximum-security prison opened across from where Old Main still stands.

Ghosts of Old Main

Since the riot this pen’s many buildings have remained empty. In more recent years one cellblock has been used by the movie industry to store props and movies have been filmed in the old prison.

These original buildings have some stark and unexplainable activity. There are many stories connected to the original penitentiary or Old Main--here are just two--both are scary.

Scary Halloween, Anyone?

Up until recently, with a few exceptions the general public was not allowed in these buildings. So many stories came from the former guards that were assigned to be caretakers of Old Main.

One exception was a paranormal group that agreed to go in during a radio Halloween special. The media presence was skeptical but what happened while they were there freaked them out.

Since the buildings are abandoned there is no electricity hooked up to Old Main. These two groups went into the old prison after dark and were assembled in one entrance area when they heard and caught on their recorders the sounds of one cell door after another quickly slamming shut.

These doors originally ran on electricity and could be closed or opened one after another. After the prison shut down and the electricity was cut off these doors could only be opened or shut manually-- cranked with metal wheels that are very hard to turn--some of them are even rusted.

When the group checked these doors they were shut--so how did they manually shut so quickly? Most say this is impossible--but it happened.

Phantom Witnesses to an Execution

One investigator I used to work with had the opportunity to investigate the prison before it was open for tours. She is a sensitive and was surprised that she didn’t pick up on more negative feelings or energy while in Old Main.

She did mention that while in the basement near the prison’s Gas Chamber she did feel some extreme negative emotions.

Several years later I heard the following story-- some state it is just two men’s over active imaginations but it does collaborate what my friend felt.

As a joke a producer who was working on a film being shot at Old Main picked up an actor that flew into Albuquerque to play a part in his film. He decided to put a scare into this young actor and suggested they visit the state pen late that night before shooting began the next day.

The two men joking around entered Old Main holding flashlights. The producer first took this actor to Cell Block 4 where the snitches were held in protective custody before the 1980 riot. He showed his companion the indents in the floor where one mentally ill patient was decapitated.

Burnt outline of one prisoner
tortured to death,
He then showed the actor the outline of a human figure that had been burned into the floor by a welding torch used to torture and kill this prisoner who was a snitch.

Half serious, half jokingly he dared this young actor to sit in the pen’s old Gas Chamber. The man agreed, which surprised him--it was getting cold and he wanted to return to his hotel room in Santa Fe.

But he led the young actor down several flights of stairs to the basement where the Gas Chamber is located. Both men were surprised to see a light at the end of the corridor. As they approached they discovered it was a lit candle placed upon a chair in an area designated for viewing executions.

The young man patted him on the back and stated, “Good joke.” But the producer was surprised and shocked for he hadn’t placed the candle there. He was about to suggest they leave when the young actor bounded into the chamber and sat in the chair.

The actor stopped talking when he noticed his producer was staring into the viewing room. He turned and looked and saw dark figures standing looking toward him. The producer waved to him and started back down the corridor.

The actor followed him quickly. By the time the two men got up to the ground level they were both running.

So is this story true? The two men it happened to believe it did. One phenomenon in Old Main that has been reported many times by both former guards that take care of the old prison and the public is they have seen dark figures that are described as 3 dimensional in appearance.

One of many odd photos
taken in Old Main.
Here is a link to a local news video. It has a recording of cell doors slamming shut. 

The video below is another local newscast that shows pictures from the riot--in this report a guardsman and a prison social worker are interviewed about what they saw after the riot ended. This report gives several incorrect numbers, guards held prisoner etc.

Here is a link to New Mexico State Penitentiary Riot, Part l --it is a brief disturbing history of this violent prison riot.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Paranormal TV Channel

There are free samples of this channel on YouTube. These productions are well-produced episodes that focus on both well-known and obscure hauntings around America. To view all of them you have to subscribe and sign-in but I have found they are worth the extra effort. 

The stories they tell most often have witnesses with first hand accounts about the ghost or ghosts they have encountered. They always include recent sightings etc. They also tap into a variety of sources: psychics, parapsychologists, mediums, authors and spiritualists etc. to narrate these stories. These narrators usually have some direct link to the stories they share.

The following free fifty-seven minute video is one they produced. It gives the viewer a good idea of the production value of Paranormal TV. The only drawback is that since it is free there are ads within it but you can “skip them”. What I find useful about this series is they also periodically debunk some stories about hauntings. 

The following video is worth a look-see. One story it shares about the “The Lady Who Walks the Stairs” in the hacienda on a ranch called, “Los Luceros” in Alcalde, New Mexico just 40 miles north of Santa Fe is one I have investigated. I will share my story about this house in future.

Enjoy the video entitled "Hauntings Across America".