Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cape May’s Ghosts and Legends, Part ll

Cape May is a peninsula town located on the southernmost tip of New Jersey. In Part l I share sightings of ghosts seen near Higbee Beach. The two stories below are part legend and part true hauntings.

Beach at Cape May
The Pirate’s Treasure

A legend connected to the Captain’s Quarters an inn in Cape May, now renamed The Inn on Ocean is that it has a buried treasure on its property.

The Inn on Ocean
An unseen force protects this inn. One witness to this phenomenon is a man whose family owned the inn for ten years. He states this treasure, 40,000 British pounds is buried beneath where the inn stands today.

A sea captain who looted many British vessels was able to amass a small fortune. Returning home to Cape May he gave his fortune to his mistress and told her to protect it. He then returned to sea.

Tragically, his ship was lost in a storm and when the captain did not return his mistress heart-broken committed suicide by hanging. She took the secret of the location of the buried treasure with her.

It is believed her ghost, named Charlene, wanders the inn today still protecting this treasure.

The owners of the inn state her ghost likes to make noise. Her footsteps are heard and she whispers a lot. Charlene also likes to bang cabinets open and shut.

The inn’s attic is where she often plays pranks. She likes to lock people in this room. When locksmiths are called out and arrive she then unlocks the door.

People are warned to leave the room immediately for Charlene locks the door again.

Higbee Beach and the Hound of Hell

In Part l of this post witnesses state they have seen a ghostly man walking a large black dog along this beach which is on Cape May’s bay side. Over the years these witness sightings have been exaggerated.

Higbee Beach
A legend about Higbee is about a Hound of Hell, which haunts it. This dog is described as very large and black. When this hound is seen he is sometimes accompanied by a dark figure dressed in a black cloak.

It is said both this figure and the dog have fiery glowing red eyes. Witnesses’ state when they saw these two they also smelled the distinct odor of sulfur--an odor often connected to evil.

This dog is said to carry a curse--so people are warned this phantom hound brings bad luck and death.

Where this legend originated no one knows but this type of hound is often associated with guarding a burial ground. In this case, maybe a Native American burial ground.

This legend also states this hound protects the souls of sailors lost at sea and even pirate’s buried treasure.

In Part l of Cape May's Ghosts and Legends I share one man's encounter with several ghosts.

Cape May’s Ghosts and Legends, Part l

Cape May is on a peninsula on the southernmost tip of New Jersey. It is the oldest seaside community in the United States. The original settlement was established along the Delaware Bay in 1620.

Cape May
Today, the tourists that visit this charming peaceful town littered with Victorian style homes and inns * do not see signs of the areas long violent history.

Hundreds of years ago the Native Americans used this spot to rest and take advantage of the natural resources before making the long journey up river. It is said when the white settlers first came the Indians then cursed the area.

Privateers and wreckers frequented the area’s beaches in search of fresh water. They often stole, plundered and murdered the residents. In later years, floods, fires and the Civil War brought more grief to the community.

This violent history is the reason why many feel that Cape May is haunted today.

* Many of the town's homes and inns are haunted.

Higbee Beach

This beach is located on the Delaware Bay side of Cape May. At one point it gained notoriety as New Jersey’s only nude beach. People from all over the country flocked to partake.

Today, Higbee is used as a Wildlife Management area and has regained its tranquility. All the bathers are gone.

Higbee Beach
Higbee Beach is littered with thousands of pieces of quartz known as the Cape May Diamonds. This is another reason people feel this beach has paranormal activity.

Craig McManus, a well-known psychic feels the reason Higbee is haunted is because it is one of the few places along the New Jersey coast that still has portions of the original forest habitat.

During a hike through this area McManus sensed the presence of several Native Americans. He and his fellow hikers felt the dense forested area grow unnaturally quiet. Then the spirits firmly told McManus to “leave.”

One of McManus' ghost books.
Craig McManus has also seen the ghost of a man walking a big black dog along Higbee Beach. When he turned his head this apparition vanished. Many witnesses over the years have reported seeing this same sight.

McManus feels this ghost might be Thomas Higbee who helped build the old hotel on this beach. When Thomas died it was his wish to be buried by Delaware Bay--he was.

But later a relative of his had his body removed and buried in Cold Spring Cemetery. McManus believes Higbee’s spirit was not happy about this so his spirit lingers at Higbee Beach.

In Part ll, Cape May’s Ghostsand Legends I share two legendary ghost stories that are told.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Cursed Koh-I-Noor Diamond

The Koh-I-Noor diamond, meaning Mountain of Light and its double Danya-I-Nur * meaning Sea of Light were at one time the largest diamonds in the world.

Both these diamonds originated in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India.

The Koh-I-Noor today is a part of the British Crown Jewels and is 105 carats--its original size was an amazing 793 carats. The East India Company seized it for Queen Victoria in 1851.

Before the 18th century this diamond was traditionally known as Madnayak or the King of Jewels. Afghan’s Ahmad Shah Abdali renamed it Kohinoor.

In its history, various Hindu, Mughai, Turkic, Afghan, and Sikh rulers have owned the Koh-i-Noor. Most took possession of it as part of the spoils of war.

It is said this diamond brought them all misfortune. A written record from 1304, when Barbur was the leader of the Mogul Empire, first mentions the stone being cursed.

“He who owns this diamond will own the world, but will also know all its misfortunes. Only God, and women can wear it with impunity.”

It was during Barbur’s time the diamond was cut to just 186 carats. The man who did this was severely punished. When the British took ownership of the stone Prince Albert had it cut once more--to 105 carats.

Koh-I-Noor's original setting.
Whether one believes in curses or not this diamond has always been associated with bad luck. All these rulers while in possession of the Koh-I-Noor experienced violence, murders, mutilations, torture and treachery.

Many lost their thrones and a few even lost their lives.

Queen Alexandra wearing
Koh-I-Noor in her
coronation crown.
The British royal family knowing of this curse has wisely made sure it is given to the wife of the male heir to the throne.

In contrast to this curse, it is believed the Koh-I-Noor actually protests woman who wear it.

*  The Danya-I- Nur is the oldest diamond in the Iranian Crown Jewels--it is 186 carats today.

Inez Clarke: A Real Haunting or Myth?

Stories about cemetery statues coming to life are a popular ghost sub-genre.

One of the most beloved of these tales involves a statue of a pretty six-year old girl wearing a frilly dress and sitting in a rustic log chair. Her name was Inez Clarke and the statue that marks her grave is enclosed in a glass box.

Inscribed below this case:

Click to enlarge
Daughter of
J.N. and M.C. Clarke
Born Sep. 20, 1873
Died Aug. 1, 1880

This impressive sculpture is located at Graceland Cemetery outside Chicago Illinois.

Inez was buried at Graceland in 1880. According to one legend she died when her parents forced her outdoors into a thunderstorm as punishment.

When she was struck by a thunderbolt and killed her parents now guilt ridden told others that she died of tuberculosis.

A subtler story told is that Inez was on a picnic with her parents when a sudden storm moved in. She was hit by a thunderbolt and killed instantly. Her parents inconsolable had a lovely statue made and placed at her grave in remembrance of their daughter.

Shortly after her burial, it is said Inez was not able to rest in peace. Rumors began that she haunted her gravesite. Her ghost was seen near her statue and also seen meandering throughout the cemetery.

Credible witnesses stated they saw a little girl dressed in an old-fashioned dress playing next to the glass-encased statue. Others stated they heard crying or moaning coming from this plot.

Children most often see her ghost. They state they run and play with her.

One cemetery night watchman quit his job after spotting the case empty during a violent thunderstorm. He was scared the stories about Inez’ ghost were true.

After this rumors spread that the statue above her grave would come to life during storms.

This entire story was supposedly debunked in 1910 when staff contacted the Clarke family which they thought was connected to Inez. This family knew about the old tales but denied the connection.

Soon after it was discovered that there was no one by the name of Inez Clarke in the local US Census in the late 19th century.

It was also discovered that Inez’ grave was actually the burial plot for an eight year old boy named Amos Briggs.

Then an explanation was given as to why this statue was above his grave. It was stated a Scottish sculptor offered it to the cemetery. Graceland accepted it but did not put much thought into where they placed it.

Grandparents buried  at left.
But this old explanation does not explain the inscription below Inez’s statue.

Recently, new research points to the fact Inez is buried here. She was the daughter of Mary Clarke who had her during her first marriage. So Inez’ real last name was “Briggs.”

Inez went to live with her grandparents after her parents divorced. The name “Inez Briggs”--seven years old--does appear in the 1880 Chicago Census report. Inez was living with her grandparents at the time of her death--the cause was diphtheria.

Her grandparents most likely had the statue made. More proof that points to the fact this is the real story is her grandparents, David and Jenny Rothrock are buried right next to her grave at Graceland. 

Below is a copy of the 1880 Chicago Census that shows Inez living with her grandparents.
Click to enlarge