Hauntings

A Haunting in Horicon

Horicon, Wisconsin is a small town of just a little over 3,500 people. The kind of town your drive through or past and see a charming main street, a local diner, and plenty of friendly faces. It is not the kind of town you would ever think would have one of the most intense hauntings in America.

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Debbe and Allen Tallmann has been living on Larabee Street, Horicon for about two years. The couple had a seven-year-old son named Danny, a daughter named Mary Ann, and Debbie was pregnant with the couple’s second daughter, Sara. One day, wanting to economize space and even bring some fun to the home the Tallmanns decided to go out and purchase a bunk bed for their children.

Before the purchase of the bunk bed, the Tallmanns home was your average American household. However, things began to change and shift around the time the bunk bed was bought and put into the home at the end of 1987.

Strange things began happening in the home but at first, they could be brushed off. The children, who were rarely sick previously, were now regularly sick or fatigued. When the couple would tuck Danny in at night his clock radio would suddenly spring to light seemingly on its own, even changing channels. Then storied signs of a haunting began to manifest...doors would open and close at will, chars would rock themselves, and quiet, disembodied voices could be heard in rooms that were known to be empty.

On one night the children began to complain of the old woman that came to their room at night. They described the woman as being old, ugly, red eyes, having long black hair, and that she glowed. There were also reports of the children seeing fires within the room.

Allen and Debbie felt that something was happening in the home that was beyond their control so they went to their local church for help and guidance. Their pastor agreed to come to the home and see if anything strange was going on. When the pastor entered the Tallmanns’ home he immediately felt uncomfortable and shaken. The pastor went as far as saying that he felt the devil within the home. He blessed the home and left...but the activity continued.

The children were now regularly frightened, Debbie and Allen felt uncomfortable, and it seemed like the blessing of the home had not helped enough. One night, Danny came into his parents’ room crying and said he wanted to leave the home. Frustrated that he was unable to protect his family, Allen told the spirits to get out of his home and that if they wanted to frighten someone they should stop picking on his children and fight him instead.

Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened.

Three weeks after Allen’s challenge to the evil that was tormenting his family, he returned home from a late shift around 2 am. It was January 7th, 1988 and when he pulled his car into the driveway he heard a howling sound that seemed to emanate from within the garage. As he got out of his car to further investigate he said the howling stopped and a voice said simply, “come here.” Wanting to get to the bottom of the noises he decided to check around back to see if anyone was playing tricks on him but he saw no one. Then, he walked back to the front of the garage which, to his dismay, was now on fire. He ran inside to get the fire extinguisher but when he returned to the garage just seconds later the fire had gone out. The garage door was completely undamaged.

Feeling shaken, Allen reentered the home quietly so he would not wake his family. He went to put away his lunch pail from his shift that he had put on the table but then suddenly it flew across the room.

Unsure of what to do, he went to bed. Over the next few weeks, he began to sleep in his daughters' room where most of the activity seemed to take place. On one night he awoke to fog swirling in the room and heard a clear voice say “You’re dead.”

Shortly after those two major events, a family member was babysitting the Tallmann children while Allen and Debbie were away. Allen’s relative was only vaguely aware of what was happening in the home but was doubtful and unperturbed at the thought of having to watch the children there. However, the horrible old woman seen by the children appeared and screamed at everyone in the house. Scared to death, the relative phoned Debby to tell her what had happened and Debby told her to pack some clothes for the kids and to get them out.

Shortly after this final event, the family moved out of the house on Larabee street. After moving, the family was contacted by Unsolved Mysteries and some footage was shot at the actual home with permission from the new owners. The episode itself aired in October 1988.

The family, who suspected the activity may be related directly to the bunk bed since the activity started around their purchase, also destroyed the bunk bed. Since moving and destroying the bunk bed no one in the family has had another paranormal experience. Those who have lived in the Larabee street home have also reported no activity.

The above image is unrelated to the story and is from flickr user Anthony Woodside. It is liscensed under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).

The Haunting of the New London Ledge Lighthouse

A lonely building, atop a small manmade island, sits alone on the sea. It is the New London Ledge lighthouse of Groton, Connecticut. In 1900 the need for a lighthouse to keep up with the increased traffic to the New London harbor. It was finally completed 1909 and became an utterly unique landmark...and a haunted one as well.

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Unlike the tall, round lighthouses we’re used to seeing the New London Ledge Lighthouse was a three-story, eleven-room brick building. The uniqueness of the lighthouse is thanks to the influence of Edward Harkness and Morton Plant who wanted the lighthouse to represent of the styles of their decadent homes. It began operating on November 7th, 1909.

The lighthouse demanded 3 or 4 man crews maintained the light, keep up the polishing, oiling, fueling, painting and any and all lighthouse repairs.

The 3-4 man teams would tend to the lighthouse until 1939. In 1939, the Coast Guard took over operation of the lighthouse. Then, in 1987 the lighthouse was automated and did not need to be regularly automated. This automation came to the relief of many...as over it’s nearly hundred years of manned operation all sorts of strange and unexplained happenings occurred to the men whose job it was to keep the light on.

Many going-ons have been reported in the lighthouse...some as negligible as ghostly footsteps and doors opening and closing to a deck swabbing itself and even a Coast Guard Officer Randy Watkins who heard his name being called from an upstairs room when every other man was asleep. Many of the lesser going-ons were chalked up a very helpful ghost, Ernie.

Ernie, although that isn't believed to be his real name, was a lighthouse keeper around the mid 1920s or 1930s. While he was tending to his lighthouse duties and away from home his wife, who lived ashore, ran off with the Captain of the Block Island Ferry. Consumed with grief, loneliness, and sadness Ernie climbed to the top of the lighthouse and jumped. Though his body was never recovered many people feel his presence to this day.

As strange things began to happen they were always chalked up to Ernie. Author William O. Thomson wrote that, “Ernie would turn on the foghorn, and that he sometimes polished brass or cleaned windows.” According to NElights,  “Actual ghost sightings were rare, and supposedly only visiting women have ever seen the lighthouse’s ethereal resident.”

Perhaps Ernie still feels camaraderie for those who visit and tended to the lighthouse in the decades after his death. In fact, those who recount their experiences with Ernie never seem to be scared. In fact, his interactions with humans seem to be playful and at times even helpful, as he was often reported as helping out with daily duties.

Ernie was so impactful to those who had long stays at the New London Ledge Lighthouse that an unknown Coast Guard office penned this goodbye to the lighthouse and to Ernie, “Rock of slow torture. Ernie’s domain. Hell on earth - may New London Ledge’s Light shine on forever because I’m through. I will watch it from afar while drinking a brew.”


This photo was taken of the lighthouse by Moondancedryad. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

I-4 Deadzone

One of the deadliest roads of America is a quarter mile of Florida's I-4 Highway. It is said that accidents happen for no reason, ghostly sightings are the norm, and other unexplained phenomena riddle this short stretch of asphalt.

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Before the I-4 Deadzone was known as the I-4 Deadzone, before it Sanford, Florida, it was the home of the Mayaca (also known as the Jojoro). The Mayaca, tragically, were primarily wiped out by early contact with Europeans and the ensuing war and disease that the Europeans left in their wake.

After the Mayaca were wiped out and many Native Americans had left the area, especially after the Seminole wars, Swedish immigrants began working the very same land. Tirelessly, they strove to conquer this strange and somewhat alien terrain with farms, buildings, and more. However, just ten years after the initial colony was created a fire broke out and decimated much of the settlement. Shortly after the fire that razed so much to the ground an outbreak of Yellow Fever followed and, since tragedies came in threes,a historic freeze would ruin the citrus crop and hurt the industry.

A few years after this in the late 1870s Henry Sanford, a prominent businessman, turned his eyes towards Florida, believing he could cash-in. He bought up a lot of land in central Florida, including what would later be called Sanford, and had hopes of building a Catholic farming community.

To his dismay, only a handful of families took him and his business partner up on this offer. And, from the very smart, just like the Swedes, Sanford and those who took him up on his offer were in for hardship. Originally, they established a town called St. Joseph’s but that was soon snuffed out by the mosquitoes and the deadly diseases they carried: yellow fever. The homestead was abandoned by 1887.

The farms and homesteads remained empty until the early 20th century. In 1905 Albert Hawkins bought up the land and whatever was left over on it and built a home and farm for his family. He was likely not very aware of the sordid history of the land and was surprised when he came upon a rusty wire fence with four wooden crosses. As a pious man wanting to respect those who attempted to farm the land before him, he rebuilt and began maintaining this tiny cemetery. He put a new fence up, mowed the lawn, and always kept it spic and span. He was extremely serious about its upkeep and was sure to tell his children and grandchildren to respect the graveyard and stay away from it.

However, not everyone was as respectful as the Hawkins. Rumor has it that a neighbor tore down a piece of the fence that surrounded the cemetery. Perhaps it's a coincidence, but his home was struck lightning the same day and completely burnt to the ground. This would only be the start of strange activity as other neighbors began to complain of strange things happening in their home, like toys moving on their own, rooms with drafts, and more.

It would appear that Albert Hawkins was prudent to respect the family that had once lived on his land, as they seem to be the type to hold a grudge and exact vengeance. According to Wizzley.com “ In the 1950’s, a friend of Mr. Hawkins’ grandson thought it would be fun to kick over the wooden crosses and maybe dig up some bones. The next day as he was walking through town, he was struck by a car and died instantly. The driver was never identified, and witnesses to the accident - lifelong residents of Sanford – didn’t recognize the car.”

Around the same time as this man was hit by a car, a superhighway was proposed. The plan had it cutting right through Sanford. Hawkins’ wife, as he had died, decided to sell the land including the small graveyard. The land surveyors, who were aware of the graves, decided that they were so old that they did not warrant refiguring the highway to go around the graves or exhuming and reburying the graves. Instead, they just decided to build over the small plots.

If kicking wooden crosses and messing with the fence made the spirits of this land angry, you can only imagine what building a superhighway over them would do.

The first years of the I-4 in the early 1960s had drivers reporting glowing orbs, full-bodied apparitions, issues with their radios, and disembodied voices.

At first, many of these happenings were dismissed as drivers being tired, bored, over-imaginative, and even driving under the influence. However, soon enough local law enforcement realized something else was a play. For the stretch of highway that passed through Hawkins’ once well-maintained graveyard, there was an inordinate amount of accidents.

Since the I-4 opened in 1963, there have been over 2,000 accidents in that quarter mile stretch alone. That is why it is called ‘The Dead Zone.’ In fact, in 2017 the I-4, in general, was named the most deadly highway in America.  Using federal data, a study found I-4 that the road held an average of 1.25 fatalities per mile and have increased 10% since 2015.

So, what came first? Was this story created to explain and warn others about the dangerous driving conditions of the I-4? Or, is the land the road is built on dating back to pre-European contact simply cursed...by who and for what reason, we may never know.

Thanks to Ericha Loch T for the blogstonishing suggestion!



The above image is unrelated to the story (not taken in the dead zone). It is entitled, ‘Old Florida Interstate 4 shield in downtown Orlando. Taken May 24, 2003’ by SPUI.This work has been released into the public domain by its author, SPUI.


Franklin Castle

Franklin Castle is a gorgeous Victorian home situated on Franklin Avenue in the Ohio City neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio. It claims to be the most haunted home in Ohio. But, why is that? Is it because of its strange turrets, watchful gargoyles, and odd six-foot iron gate? Or, does this haunting go more than skin deep?

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The home was built by Hannes Tiedmann and his wife Louise. Hannes was a banker and co-founder of Union Bankings & Savings Co. and used his wealth to build the gorgeous home in 1881. Tiedmann decided to name the grand home after the street it was on, Franklin. The home took about three years to complete and the Tiedmanns, along with their young children, moved in in 1883.

Sadly, shortly after moving into this beautiful home tragedy struck the Tiedmanns as their fifteen-year-old daughter, Emma, died from complications of her diabetes. Her grandmother, Hannes’ mother, would die shortly after. However, these deaths would not be the last in the home. By 1887, three more of the Tiedmann children had died in just three years.

In a likely bid to distract himself to the five deaths that occurred in the newly built mansion, Tiedemann continued to expand the home and make it ever and ever grander. He added a ballroom, turrets, and even gargoyles. The Tiedmanns would leave the home in 1896 after Hannes’ wife, Louise, passed away.

Although no activity was ever cited or discussed by the Tiedmanns, their time in their new home was weighed down with tragedy and death. Sadly, rumors that Hannes was behind these deaths swirled in the community. He was also accused of killing his mentally ill niece, his mistress (and servant) Rachel, his four children, and an illegitimate daughter. He would later die of a stroke.

In 1913, the Mullhauser family, who had the home, sold the castle to the German-American League for Culture which some sources report as being the German Socialist Party. The German-American League for Culture taking over the grand home sparked even more rumors that the home may have been chosen for its tragic background or hidden passageways, which the party would use for medical experimentation and spying on their neighbors. During this time the home was known as Eintracht Hall. It was owned by the league for almost fifty years, from 1921-1968.

In 1968, the Romanos and their six children moved into the home. Mrs. Romano had grown up in the area and had always been fascinating by the strange and striking home. Initially, they toyed with the idea of opening up a restaurant within the home although they changed their minds. Mrs. Romano recalls many strange occurrences within the house, including footsteps, disembodied voices, and the sound of people in the ballroom. Scared at the activity, they called a Catholic priest who declined on doing an exorcism. Perhaps this was because he was a not a licensed or trained exorcist? Or, maybe he thought the Romanos were being a little excessive. However, it is said he acknowledged there was something wrong with the home and that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to move. Not prepared to leave the house, they contacted the Ohio Psychical Research Group. Rumors say that one of the members was so terrified he ran screaming from the home. In 1974, the Romanos left the home.

The house was sold to Sam Muscatello who wanted to capitalize on these rumors of a haunting and offered haunted tours of the castle. He made sure to write down every visitor’s experience and often contacted the media to cover the home. This was bolstered by a discovery of a cache of human bones, believed to be baby bones, were discovered. These may have been planted by the owner who wanted to continue the haunted tours, though. Ultimately, he wasn’t able to make Franklin Castle a must-see haunted attraction and sold the place to a doctor who later sold it to Cleveland's police chief, Richard Hongisto.

The Hongistos were allegedly thrilled to snag the home but would abruptly move out just one year later when they sold it to George Mirceta who, not from the area, had no idea of the home’s strange history. Once he did learn of its history, though, he also decided to run haunted tours.

The home was sold again in 1984 to Judy Garland’s final husband, Michael DeVinko. DeVinko would spend almost one million dollars and a decade of his life restoring the home to glory. He said he has no problems with ghosts or haunting activity and jokingly said it was because he was taking care of the home. He would move out ten years later, in 1994.

It was empty for five years but sold again in 1999. However, before the new owner could move in, an arsonist took to the home and caused extreme damage and the new owner would spend quite a bit on repairs but not enough to make it livable. It was sold in 2003 and then stood empty until 2011 when it was announced the castle would be redesigned and zoned to become a three-family dwelling.

Today, Franklin Castle is home to a record company, Norton Records and Zac Webb, an artist who has lived inside the castle since June 2018. According to Cleveland Scene, “Webb's exhibition "Faces of the Castle" will be on display during the party, and is featuring portraits inspired by his time living in the old Tiedemann House. When asked if Webb has ever experienced anything he notes, "I definitely have had a few experiences in the castle, as has everyone that's ever stayed there," Webb says. "As far as 'haunted?' I'm not quite sure." Webb explains that he frequently had unexplained experiences, including noises made when no one else was around.” He also has had strange dreams in the home and these strange dreams and the faces in them were the inspiration of many of the featured paintings.”

Thanks to Sandy C for the suggestion!



The above image is by Christopher Busta-Peck “A view of the Hannes Tiedemann House at 4308 Franklin Avenue, in Cleveland, Ohio. The structure, built in 1881, was designed by Cudell and Richardson, architects. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.” This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 1.0 Generic license.

The Smurl Haunting

The Smurl family was just like any other family living in Pittston, Pennsylvania in the 1980s. The Smurls were a family of six, Janet and Jack Smurl were the parents of four daughters: Dawn, Heather, and twins Shannon and Carin. Their story begins with a completely natural phenomenon. Hurricane Agnes flooded their home in 1972. The Smurls moved in with Jack’s parents to a duplex on 330 Chase St. This home would soon send them careening into the hold of something evil.

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The Duplex was originally built in 1896 and was located on a quiet street in a lovely middle-class neighborhood. The house was bought in 1973. Jack’s parents lived on the right half and the Smurl family lived on the left. The Smurls put a lot of love into their side of the home and spent what money they could redecorating and remodeling in an effort to make their new house a home.

The Smurl family was a well-respected Catholic family. Jack and Janet both grew up nearby. They met in 1967 and married in 1968. Jack served in the Navy and would later become a neuropsychiatric technician.

The haunting began innocently enough in January 1974. A strange stain appeared on one of the home’s new carpets that had no explanation and could not be easily removed. Then the floodgates open. A television set burst into flames, pipes continued to leak despite being re-soldered, the new sink and bathtub were unexplainably scratched. In 1975 Dawn, the oldest daughter, began telling her parents she saw people floating around her bedroom.

This activity may be reminiscent to listeners who tuned into the Black Monk series. Just like the Smurls, the Pritchards also experienced strange figures, leaking pipes, and inexplicable mini-disasters. In addition, two other infamous hauntings, the Perrone family and the Hodgson family both had several daughters. Is it possible that the number and gender of children could also be a factor in these kinds of hauntings?

In 1977, after years of intermittent and easily overlooked experiences the phenomena inside the home began to intensify. In addition to the inexplicable things noted above the family also began hearing footsteps. Other incidents like unplugged radios blaring music, cold spots randomly appearing, drawers were angrily opens and closed, also plagued the home. There were reports of a permeating aroma of rot around the home as well. Furthermore, Jack began to feel an unseen hand caress him and the consistent feeling that he was being watched.

In 1985 the activity sparked to an all-time high. During this time Janet gave birth to the twins (Shannon and Carin) which only seemed to further increase the activity. Scratches began appearing on the family members, the walls would rattle, and the dog and Janet experienced levitation. Jack’s parents, the elder Smurls, often heard insults, screams, and other loud noises emanating from the Smurls side of the duplex. However, nothing evr appeared in their own home.

In January 1986 after years of unexplained annoyances and months of terrifying experiences the Smurls decided to try and get in touch with the Warrens. The Warrens responded positively and made their way from Connecticut to Pennsylvania. They brought along Rosemary Frueh who was a nurse and psychic.

Their investigation would last months - well into August, 1986. In their initial walkthrough they believed there to be four different entities within the home. Three were fairly minor and likely responsible for some of the ‘smaller’ unexplained phenomena. However, the fourth entity was very powerful...and angry. According to the Times Leader, Ed Warren said, “The Smurls are truly a family coming under a visual attack,” Warren said. “The ghost, devil, demon – or whatever you call it – is in that home.”

To deal with the most powerful entity, believed to be a demon, Ed Warren decided to contact a Vatican-mandated exorcist - Father McKenna. The attempted an exorcism did not go very well and seemed to only make the demon angrier.

During this time several members of the family reported being sexually violated or otherwise made ill by the entities. According to Helly Star, “Janet said she had been sexually assaulted by the shadows she had seen, one of the twins, Carin, suddenly fell ill and nearly died from this inexplicable infection, and Dawn, the second twin, she became also sexually assaulting the entity. Janet and her mother-in-law had traces of beatings, bites, and bites all over the body.”

Father McKenna attempted another exorcism some months later but, like the first, this exorcism did not yield positive results.

It was during this time of the activity that rumors began to swirl about the family. Many believed the family might be looking to sell their home or make money off the haunting, as they had recently fallen on tough times.

A third exorcism was attempted but this time with several priests as well as a group of parishioners from a local church. It is important to note that this exorcism does not seem to be supported by the Vatican. However, it appeared to work...no phenomenon was experienced for a number of months. Activity began creeping in again, though, and the family decided to finally leave the home.

Rumors of the haunt being a fake were further bolstered when Ed Warren contacted Robert Curran and suggested he write a book about the Smurls and their haunting.

The person who moved into the home 1988 has never reported supernatural activity. The Smurls have not reported any lingering activity in their new home. In 1991, the Haunted (the same name as the book) was made into a made-for-TV movie.

Thanks to Sonya C-S for the topic suggestion!




The above image is unrelated to the story and was taken by Flickr user Hamish Duncan. Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)


Borley Rectory: An Overview of Activity

Borley is a village in Essex that is an exemplary slice of pastoral England. In fact, the Saxon words "Bap" and "Ley", where Borley comes from, translates to "Boar's Pasture." However, this lovely English hamlet was once home to one of the most intense and storied haunted buildings in England and, perhaps, the world: Borley Rectory.

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Borley Rectory was first built in 1863. It was erected on the site of an ancient monastery, potentially dating back to the 13th century. The long history of this particular piece of land was well known during the Victorian Age. In fact, there was even a ghost story. The legend said that, on the site of the monastery, there was a sad, sullen ghostly nun who would walk back and forth on a specific walk and the locals called it ‘Nun’s Walk.’ The nun was said to hail from Bures and that she had fallen in love with a monk at the Borley Monastery. The two had an illicit love affair and even attempted to elope but were tracked down and punished. Both were executed and, as the legend goes, bricked up in the cellar (which, of course, seems like a bit of a stretch).

This is all to say, the land of the Borley Rectory was occupied long before the walls of the Rectory went up.

The Rectory was first built for Reverend Henry Bull and his family of thirteen (often misnumbered as 14) children, his wife Sarah, along with a small staff to run the stately home. It was twenty-three room, two-story red brick home, and its grounds stretched nearly four acres. Shortly after the Bulls and their staff moved in, things began...happening. It was said to have, like most hauntings, begun as fairly benign, footsteps heard when no one was there, whispering, and other small noises. But, as time progressed things became more and more intense.

While the family reported experiencing these haunting and ghostly noises throughout their time there, it remained the family seat until 1892. It seems that, for the most part, the hauntings were limited to noises although there are some claims the family would sometimes see ghostly faces in second story windows or full-bodied apparitions on the house and grounds.

Interestingly enough, Britannica Online reports, “Revd Bull had a summer-house put up overlooking the Nun's walk so that he could watch the manifestations. However, the lady soon became something of nuisance: often startled guests by peering at them through the windows of the new rectory.”

When his father died in 1892, Henry Foyster Bull inherited his father’s home. He moved in, clearly not put off by the haunting, and remained there until his death in 1927. Perhaps the family had gotten used to the extra noises throughout the home or had even struck up a deal with those extra guests in the 60+ years someone from the Bull family lived there.

Between 1927 and when the new family moved in, it was empty for about eighteen months. The new rector, Rev. Guy Eric Smith, moved in with his wife in 1928 but, unlike the Bull family, did not even stay an entire year. It seems that, during the Smiths short stay that the activity really kicked up. They experienced similar hauntings as the Bulls but in addition, also saw lights and heard the servant bells’ ringing despite being disconnected long ago. Perhaps most horrifically, Mrs. Smith discovered a human skull deep inside one of the rectory’s cupboards.

Although they didn’t stay long, it was the Smiths who first brought attention outside of Borley to the Rectory. They contacted the local paper in hopes of getting in touch with the Society for Psychical Research. Unhelpfully, the paper sent out a reporter to cover the story and write articles. At this time, Harry Price, a famed paranormal investigator, was also contacted.

It is said when Price visited the activity got louder and more intense, including objects flying around rooms and loud knocking from inside the walls. Price left without conclusions but after he did leave the grounds the haunting relaxed. Mr. Smith later said he believed Price was behind the escalated noises and experiences.

The Rectory did not stay empty long this time and in 1930, Reverend Lionel Foyster, his wife Marianne, and their daughter moved in. This small family would experience some of the most intense hauntings the home had seen yet.

Unlike previous residents, the haunting seemed particularly focused and attracted to Marianne. Soon, in addition to the disembodied noises and footsteps often heard in the home, messages and her name began to be scrawled randomly on the walls of the home. In one case, it was said witnesses watched this writing manifest before their very eyes. According to Historic Mysteries,  “However, despite attempts at communication, most remained unintelligible. Though one certainly read, "Marianne, please help get" and another, "Pleas for help and prayers".

Interestingly enough Marianne later confessed that much of it had been a hoax. She had been having an affair with one of the Rectory’s lodgers and that she covered up her physical activities with the intense haunting episodes. Although, this could be a falsity, as some sources cite it and others don’t and there doesn’t seem to be any definitive proof she said this. However, it could be a perfect explanation as to why the haunting, even if it was real to a degree, was so hyper-focused on one person whereas before it never was.

After the Foysters moved out in 1937, the next several reverends decided to live elsewhere and the Rectory remained empty. Returning in 1937 almost a decade after his first experience in the home, Harry Price rented the rectory in order to carry out a detailed investigation in May 1937-38.

In his typical and media-centric approach, he contacted the Times and a story about his impending investigation ran on May 25th, 1937 and an ad for ‘Official Observers’ to come to the Rectory. Price was not investigation alone, though. He created a team of 48 ‘official observers’ to lend credibility and insight into his investigation. These ‘official observers’ included an army colonel, a doctor and an engineer. Sadly, no official log of events was kept. But, Sidney Herbert Glanville, who stayed at the rectory on many occasions and wrote up his experiences.

On March 27th, 1938 a seance was held in the home. A voice from beyond shared the fate of the Rectory. It was said that a fire would catch in the hallway that very night and burn down the home. In the ruin of the fire, a nun's body would be discovered amongst the ruins.

Despite this extraordinary, exciting, and dangerous fortune...nothing happened.

In May 1938, Harry Price’s lease ended and he left. The Rectory was then leased by Captain Gregson, apparently unafraid of the Rectory’s hauntings. Like every other person who has inhabited, or even stayed at the home for a few nights, he was subjected to continuing mysterious happenings. Sadly, this included the loss of his two beloved dogs.

One night, exactly eleven months to the day after the seance held by Harry Price that told the fate of the home, an oil lamp unaccountably fell over in the hall and Borley Rectory burnt to the ground.

According to witnesses, ghostly figures were seen roaming around and through the flames and a nun's face peered down at the destruction from an upper window.

In 1943 it appears the final part of the fortune would be found true. Harry Price returned a third time to the ruins of the home. He had a team of excavators under his organization dig in the cellar and remains of the Rectory. Amazingly, a human female jaw bone was discovered. Price believed these lend credibility to the nun story that existed long before the Rectory was eve built. In an effort to end the hauntings of the Rectory’s ruins and the very land itself, Price gave the jaw, along with the few articles found near it, a Christian burial.

Sadly, the origin of the jaw bones and the articles (including medallions) was later contested and disputed. Although no official evidence or reports have been made one way or another.

The Rectory’s remains remained upright until 1944 when it was completely demolished. However, strange reports still flow out of the former place of the Rectory and the four acres it had.



Thanks to Caztor T for the suggestion!



The above image is of the Borley Rectory after the fire incident. It is in the public domain.


The Stocksbridge Bypass

Astonishing Legends is no stranger to haunted roads (seriously, check out our Resurrection Mary series) but we haven’t visited many haunted roads outside of America. Tonight on the blog, we’re exploring the history behind the Stocksbridge Bypass (A616), which links Sheffield to Manchester.  

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The hauntings for this stretch of land didn’t begin with the road. In fact, it seems that the road wasn’t haunted so much as the land it was built on. Several local legends discuss various origins for why the land is haunted or cursed. One of the most popular stories, surprisingly, involves a monk. It is said that the monk had slowly become disillusioned with religion and when he finally passed the church decided to bury him near the future road in an unconsecrated grave. Other stories say that there were mine shafts dotted throughout the area and that these shafts were not clearly marked. Sadly, many children were said to have fallen or gotten lost in these shafts and died, their bodies never recovered.

Now that we have some potential reasonings behind why it might be haunted, let’s discuss some of the experiences travelers have had on the bypass.

The most well-known, and earliest, stories of the haunted bypass takes place in September 1987. While the bypass was being built security guards were hired to protect construction materials and ensure nothing would go awry. Two of these security guards were just going about their business on September 8th. Or so they thought. However, a call received by Peter Owens, the supervisor of these two men, shattered any idea of September 8th being a normal night.

The two men told their story which happened at roughly 12:30am. They had been driving along patrolling the road when they saw the unsettling sight of children playing in the construction zone. While they noticed that the children were wearing out of date clothing, they were more concerned that they were so far away from home and close to dangerous wiring and construction materials.

After watching for a little while they decided to approach and take the children home, but when they walked over to the children they vanished and there were no footprints or signs of children playing.

The next morning after word got out about the story other members of the construction team said they had heard children’s voices during the night, too.

But, that isn’t where the story ends. The following night the same two men were on patrol and this time they encountered something even more haunting. This time they saw a tall, cloaked figure that they described as ‘monk-like’. When they approached this man, just like when they approached the children, he vanished. They called their supervisor once again and called the police station. The officer that answered jokes that it sounded they needed a priest, not a policeman.  The two security guards later reached out to the church and demanded an exorcism on the site.

The police decided to visit the site on September 11th. Thinking they saw something, both men rushed out of the car but it turned out to just be a construction sheet flapping in the wind. When they returned to the car, Officer Ellis got a horrible feeling and, turning to look out the side window, saw a dark, clothed torso pressed against the door. It abruptly vanished and reappeared on Officer Beet’s door. They both jumped out of the car but could not find the body. Returning to the car, they found it wouldn’t start. After several attempts, the car finally started and as they were pulling out they heard a huge bang on the side of the car with no explainable cause.

Both officers reported it had been the most terrifying experiences of their lives.

While this may have been the first encounter it would be long for the last. Since the bypass was completed in 1988, experiences have poured in.

For example, on New Year’s Eve, 1997, a couple was driving home on the quiet road when a figure suddenly appeared in front of them. Startled, and not wanting to cause harm to the person, they swerved violently. Luckily, no harm was done to them but when they went out to retrieve the person, there was no one there.

Paul Ford also had to swerve to avoid something unexplainable. When he was 28 he and his wife were driving to Jane’s sister’s home in Stocksbridge. While driving, Paul spotted a figure in the middle of the road. He says, ‘I just slammed the brakes on and swerved to avoid hitting it, and it was only through Jane grabbing the wheel that we managed to stop the car from crashing.,’ said Paul. Jane added: ‘If I hadn’t have been in the car Paul could have been killed or seriously injured and it left both of us badly shaken up. It was a very frightening experience and I think it might explain why there have been so many accidents on that road.’ The pair continued their journey in a  state of shock and were visibly shaking when they arrived at their destination.”

To this day, he still will not use the road.

Interestingly enough, this particular road has (statistically) some of the worst accident records in the region. So, is the road truly haunted? Or, has folklore sprung up around since its construction as a way to warn people of the dangerous driving conditions?

Thanks to Dave I for the suggestion!


The Stocksbridge Bypass from Underbank Road by Wendy North. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Mirrors & the Paranormal

Mirrors have played a major part in folklore and, more recently, the horror movie genre for decades. But why are mirrors, and reflections, so central in our folklore of fear? There are hundreds of tales of haunted mirrors, from ancient mythology like Narcissus to the sleepover urban legend of Bloody Mary and all even movies like Oculus (2014).

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Many believe that ever since human beings became aware of reflections, both their own and the world, there has been a fascination and folklore, and even myths about mirror worlds, in the cultural consciousness. As we know them today mirrors haven't been around that long. In fact, according to LiveScience, “In 1835, German chemist Justus von Liebig developed a process for applying a thin layer of metallic silver to one side of a pane of clear glass. This technique was soon adapted and improved upon, allowing for the mass production of mirrors.” But, even before the 1830s we still could see reflections in things like glass, metal, and, of course, water.

But why are we so frightened and intrigued by mirrors?

It seems that we see more in mirrors than our own reflections. One of our favorite astonishing beings often makes appearances in mirrors: Shadow People. Shadow People are often seen standing near or close by mirrors or, even worse, appearing in the mirror’s reflection but being nowhere in actual sight.

Perhaps even worse than Shadow People, Exemplore writes that strange, unknown, and grotesque faces are the most common. “This is by far the most frequent manifestation reported by people in association with haunted mirrors. The faces are, most of the time, human - and sometimes known to the witnesses. But there are a number of accounts where people have reported other entities/demonic faces appearing.”

Even today, mirrors still terrify us. In a dynamic experiment, Giovanni Caputo at the University of Urbino in Italy conducted a study of mirrors in 2010. In the analyzing the results article, published in Perceptions, describes a terrifying experience. In total, 50 participants were asked to stare into a mirror for 10 minutes in a dimly lit space. An astonishing 66% witnessed huge deformations of their own face, 18% percent saw an animal such as a pig or cat in the mirror, 28% observed a completely unknown person, and a shocking 48%  beheld monstrous or fantastical beings. So, it seems, there is something to the legends.


Thanks to Kellie Dawn O for the suggestion!

This image is unrelated to the above story and is entitled, “Marsden J. Perry home, Providence, Rhode Island. Interior scene, detail of piano, crystal chandelier, mirror, and door Abstract/medium: 1 photographic print.” by Frances B Johnson


The Kiyotaki Tunnel

One of the most haunted locations in Japan isn’t a house or a graveyard or anything you’d expect, it’s a Tunnel. Specifically, the Kiyotaki Tunnel. The Kiyotaki Tunnel is a single-lane route that connects northern Arashiyama to the town of Sagakiyotaki. The tunnel is brimming with ghosts, bad luck, cautionary tales, and paranormal activity.

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The Kiyotaki Tunnel began as a part of the Atagoyama Railway and was built in 1927, completed in 1928. It is roughly 1,640 feet. The notorious element of the tunnel began almost immediately. It is rumored that the tunnel was originally constructed with slaves and there were a number of fatalities during the building process. None of these deaths seem supernatural and largely due to the difficult working conditions that were typical of railway building. However, now it is said that these poor souls roam the tunnel. Another theory for what causes the strange occurrences at Kiyotaki is that it was cursed by an ancient man who died in battle and cursed the ground.

The tunnel was active through 1944 carrying people to Arashiyama, Kiyotaki, Kiyotakigawa, and Ataga, which made it an essential part of the railroad. In fact, it was one of the most important stops for those making pilgrimages to the Atago-jinja Shrine. It has not been abandoned, but it has been repurposed. Currently, the tunnel has been incorporated into the road system in the area. 

The occurences in the tunnel are quite varied. Some people say that when they enter the tunnel, a ghostly apparition appears in their car while they pass through the tunnel only to vanish when they exit the tunnel. Others have heard voices, screams, and muttering while passing through. Some who enter the tunnel do not experience anything paranormal at first glance they do complain of dizziness, nausea, and headaches. The hauntings are said to occur largely at night and many people urge against visiting at night unless completely necessary.  Some of the constant full body apparitions include something familiar to Legenders - a roadside woman, often described as wearing white. Others report seeing handprints on the hoods of their car after passing through the tunnel, despite not being there when they entered. 

One thing unique (and a bit hard to do while driving) to the tunnel is to avoid looking at any mirrors. Whether they’re in your car, outside of your car, on the road, or anywhere else. Why? It is said that even if you glance at one for only a second you’ll see a spirit and meet an undeniably dark fate - you’ll see yourself as a dead person and will die in a few days.

 

The above image is from sugoiinipponnews
 

Dragsholm Castle and its One Hundred Ghosts

Dragsholm Castle is a stunning castle located on the west coast of Sealand, just an hour’s drive from Copenhagen. The stunning white castle looks like something out of a fairytale and has stood for more than 800 years. It was built in 1215 by the Bishop of Roskilde. It was later modified in the middle ages to be a fortified castle. In fact, the castle was almost impenetrable and said to be the only castle on Zealand to withstand the brutal armies of Count Christoffer.  Today, the castle boasts a Michelin star restaurant, gorgeous suites, rave reviews, and over one hundred ghosts. Yes, you read that right...one hundred ghosts.

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Dragsholm is said to be home to over 100 spirits who are not quite ready to leave this world. One of the reasons Dragsholm is so haunted is because it once served as a prison space for very special prisoners. When the castle was given to King Christian III in 1536, it was modified to become a prison for noble and high-ranking ecclesiastical prisoners. Many of the ghosts are believed to be from these prisoners and the staff that tended to the castle, which remained a prison for almost 100 years. There were several notable prisoners, including the Mad Squire. In life, he was known as Ejler Brockenhuus and was a former confidant of the King. When he was imprisoned and his life coming to an end he began length and incomprehensible diatribes. It is said that you can still hear him rambling in the corridors near his cell.

Another infamous prisoner-turned-ghost was James Hepburn, an Earl. He was the third husband of Mary, Queen of Scots. However, he had previously jilted a Danish fiancee before marrying Mary and when he fled Scotland he sought solace in Denmark. Seeking solace here was...not the best idea. Why? Well not only had he jilted a member of a powerful family, he also ran off with a sizable dowry that her father had given him for his ex-fiancee, Anna Rustung. For this, he was captured and imprisoned in Dragsholm. It was said he went insane while imprisoned and died at the young age of 44. His ghost has frequently been spotted amongst the castle’s grounds and entering the grounds in a ghostly horse-drawn carriage.

Dragsholm is also home to its very own Women in White (or, in this case, Lady in White). It is believed that this ghostly woman was once Celina Bolves, daughter of the powerful and noble Bovles family. Unfortunately for Celina, she fell in love with a laborer far below her own rank. Disregarding her family’s pleas to leave him she remained with him and soon became pregnant with his child. Her father discovered what his daughter had done and imprisoned her in the castle’s dungeons. It was there she died.

Those who have experience the White Lady say that she appears to be looking for someone (perhaps her lover) and often moans or sighs in sorrow because she is never able to find him. Though beautiful, she is often described as a tragic figure who brings a sense of sadness to those who see her.

The most surprising thing about the Lady in White of Dragsholm castle? In the 1930s when workmen were busy repairing the basement plumbing at the castle they discovered a skeleton wearing a white dress imprisoned in a wall.

There is also a happy ghost that haunts the merry halls of Dragsholm. She was a maid that worked at Dragsholm but did not live on the property. One day, after her commute to work, she began complaining of a painful toothache. The generous master of the castle at that time gave her a poultice to help soothe her toothache. Soon enough, she began feeling better and was very grateful. Sadly, shortly after this good deed her life was cut short and she died. It seems her spirit returned to the castle to eternally show her gratitude. She is often seen at night and appears to be a protective and helpful spirit that happily guards Dragsholm.

These are just a few of the ghosts that haunt what is potentially the most haunted castle in Denmark. Do you know of any other hauntings at Dragsholm?

 

The above image is of Dragsholm Castle taken by Bococo it is licensed under CC-SA 3.0.

Sachs Covered Bridge

Located in a bucolic stretch of Pennsylvania, one of its most historic covered bridges is also one of the country’s most haunted. Looking at the preserved bridge one would hesitate to call it haunted, as it looks like something out of a Thomas Kinkade painting. Sachs Covered Bridge in Gettysburg, designated Pennsylvania’s “most historic bridge" in 1938 and also on the National Register of Historic Places, has quite a storied, and potentially haunted history.

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Before it was haunted, it was a bridge built in 1852. Sach’s bridge is a “Town Truss” bridge, which is a lattice-like bridge. Almost ten years later, it became an important bridge during the Civil War. On July 1st, 1863 the bridge was crossed by I Corps of the Union Army marching towards Gettysburg. Just four days later, much of Robert E. Lee’s Army would retreat back over the bridge after the Union victory in the Battle of Gettysburg.

But not every Confederate soldier made it safely across the bridge. Rumor has it that three Confederate soldiers who had attempted to desert during Gettysburg were found and cut here. Perhaps even more interesting is that there is another rumor that these alleged Confederate soldiers were not deserters at all, but spies. Although neither story has been totally verified, many people who have had experiences at the bridge report hearing battle fire, screams of people that sound as if they’re being wounded and killed, and others have even reported seeing full-bodied and uniformed apparitions of these soldiers! Even more, mention feeling cold spots and even seeing a strange, dark, and unexplainable mist.

This bridge is like many bridges in America, especially many covered bridges: haunted. What makes bridges so haunted? Why does every town - big and small alike, seem to have some sort of haunted bridge lurking just on the periphery?

In folklore, bridges often serve as important points in stories - where devils make deals, where trolls live, and especially where ghosts lurk. Is it because we come so close to being washed away should a wood plank give out or our cars fail on top? Is it because the “Imp of the Impure” calls us to the edge and asks what would happen if we jumped?

Water is also believed to be an important aspect of the paranormal and paranormal activity. Water is, as many know, a wonderful energy conductor. Now, although this proves useful in our daily lives it is important to think about everything in context - particularly the paranormal. Many people believe that paranormal entities and happenings are energy-driven, so many, many experiences (some, not all) take place near bodies of water. There is also a belief, if you believe any of this at all, that this energy allows entities to travel more freely.

In my mind, I think it is because it is a liminal space. In between nature and man-made, danger and safety, and the known and the unknown, because we know where the road will take us but not the river.

This image was taken by Kevin A. Trostle and is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0. 

The Green Lady of Caerphilly Castle

Sprawling across an impressive 30 acres, Caerphilly Castle is Wale’s largest castle. It began its life as a medieval fortress built between 1268-1271, by Gilbert de Clare. The castle’s design is based on a “concentric ring of walls, something not seen in Britain before. It also has an extensive ring of water defenses and huge gatehouses. This mammoth stronghold remains a striking testament to the Anglo-Norman domination of the area.” Its impressive age, size, and strength is legendary enough...but there is a ghost that haunts these halls. She is known as  the Green Lady of Caerphilly Castle.

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This story begins with Alice de la Marche of France, the niece of Henry II and wife of Earl Gilbert de Clare. Alice was a woman with refined tastes, a passionate nature, and had a bit of a wild side. This wild side caused some friction between her and her husband, as she “came to resent her husband’s warring disposition.”

On a seemingly normal day, Gruffudd the Fair (who was also Prince of Brithdir) visited the castle. He immediately caught Alice’s eye and she quickly became enamored with this handsome, well-spoken prince. Before long, the two were lovers. Unfortunately for the secret couple, Gruffudd, unable to handle his guilt, confessed his secret relationship to a monk. This monk was loyal to de Clare, who he quickly informed.

Seeing red due to his anger, he immediately sent his wife back to Franche and ordered his men to hunt down Gruffudd.

Gruffudd, who was forewarned of de Clare’s search, also succumbed to anger and revenge. He hunted down the monk that shared his secret with de Clare and hung him from a tree. Not long after this excursion, de Clare’s man caught up to him. Just a short time later, Gruffudd would also be hanging.

Soon after, a page was sent to inform Alice of her lover’s demise at her husband’s hands. Unable to handle the fact that she helped cause her lover’s death, she dropped dead. Although she died in France, it is said her ghost returned to Caerphily Castle to haunt its great ramparts.

After a few weeks of investigating the Lady in White stories, I was surprised to come and find an interesting sub-genre of Lady in Green stories. Although the above story does share some similar stories to Lady in White stories, Lady in Green stories seem to 1) take place in castles and 2) involve some royal or noble lineage.

Back to Alice, though. She is dressed in green, representative of her husband’s envy, and she wanders the halls in silent solitude. Some say she is stuck in purgatory for her sins, others say she is waiting to meet once again with Gruffudd, and still more say she is still in shock...even all these days later.

Other accounts also give her a unique ability -ability to turn herself into ivy. If you spy her through her guise and she likes you, she will reach out to shake your hand and vanish shortly after.

The cover image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. You can view it here.






 

The West Virginia Penitentiary

Located in Moundsville, West Virginia The West Virginia Penitentiary has been listed “on the top ten list of the Department of Justice’s as one of the “most violent.” Originally established in 1866, Moundsville’s walls housed over 100 years worth of inmates. Although the last of the inmates were relocated in 1995, some say ghosts of time past still wander the building. Also, like many buildings of this time, although it was originally only built for 480 prisoners by the 1930s there were usually a total of 2,400. In fact, sometimes three prisoners would be assigned to one 5x7 cells.

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Due to the overcrowding riots, escapes, murders, and uninhabitable conditions were common place. Roughly 36 murders took place within the walls and 94 men were executed. Not to mention, the instruments of torture that lay behind the prison’s captivating acade. Specifically, the kicking jenny which was “an instrument invented and built in the prison. It is made somewhat in the shape of a quarter-circle, with the highest end about three or four feet above the platform upon which it is set. The prisoner is stripped naked and bend over upon the machine.” After this,  “His feet are fastened to the floor with ropes, while his hands, which are stretched over the upper end, are tied with roped attached to small blocks, by which a tension so strong that the frame of the prisoner can almost be torn in two can be made with a slight pull.” Finally, “after the prisoner is placed in position the Superintendent, or whoever does the whipping, takes a heavy whip, made of sole leather, two pieces of which, about three feet long, are sewed together, and the ends scraped slightly rounding, the lash being three inches broad at the handle, tapering to a point. With the whip, the prisoner is beaten until he is almost dead, or the strength of the man who is doing the whipping gives out."

Hauntings are nothing new in Moundsville. In fact, they were reported as early as the 1930s. The first report came from guards on duty and not necessarily the prisoners. Guards would often report that they saw inmates “walking freely on the grounds so alarms were sounded.” Once the alarms were tripped, the area was investigated. However, no one ever found the inmates wandering around that were reported by guards or had seemingly tripped the alarm. The repeated false sightings became increasingly common and the reputation of the haunted prison increased.

Like many haunted buildings throughout America, it is rumored that the prison was constructed upon land that once was a burial ground for Native Americans. So many believed that this was the cause for the negative energy and hauntings that the ground of the prison has been blessed many times. However, it is rumored that an unknown curse remains as punishment for disturbing the rest of the dead.

One of the most frightening haunts of the old prison is a being referred to as ‘Shadow Man’. The name comes from this spirit’s practice of lurking amongst the dark corners of the prison, casting his shadow and darkness among the halls and cells of the building. According to witness reports, the Shadow Man has no visible features. Witnesses also report feeling very intimidated when seeing this being. Although his identity is unknown, many speculate he may be a guard that used to check on the cells and walk the halls and life. Others believe he may be an inmate trying to find a way out of the darkness.

Red Snider is another spirit who can’t seem to leave. He was murdered while in prison and some say he can still be seen wandering the halls. “A man that worked on a haunted house in the prison claimed that while he was walking around with his tools, someone, not living, grabbed him by his arm. The man maintained when questioned that nobody else was near him during this event.”

There are several areas known as particular hot spots among ghost hunters and tour guides of the prison. Some of these places are to be expected, such as the North Wagon Gate which is where death row inmates were taken to be hung, Death row itself, and the chapel. One interesting area that is also reportedly haunted is the ‘Sugar Shack’. The Sugar Shack was a recreation room in the basement to be used when prisoners could not go outside due to adverse conditions. In this room there are often reports of chatter and cold spots.

The building is one of the most haunted places in West Virginia, and potentially all of America.


This image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. It was taken by Rhonda Humphreys. More information can be found here.
 

Phantom Hitchhikers

Most people who live in America, or read about American folklore, can likely point out a few major "players" in the scene. One of the most prominent of these tales is that of the Phantom Hitchhiker. Scholar Jan Harold Brunvand writes in his book,  The Vanishing Hitchhiker: American Urban Legends and Their Meanings, that these are "the most often collected and the most discussed contemporary legend of all."

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If you're not familiar, the phantom hitchhiker, also known as "vanishing" hitchhikers. Can be a variety of different people. At their base all phantom hitchhikers are strange figures usually picked up on lonely roadsides that, before they are dropped of, they vanish without a trace from the interior of the car. In fact, this is quite an old folktale and there are even stories of them disappearing from carriages and horses! Additionally, they are often picked up by (or being driven near) to graveyards, bridges, intersections, tight turns, dangerous hills, and any part of the road where tragedy has stricken before.

But why are these stories so pervasive in American culture? Well, there are a few reasons. One of them being the prevalence of many people mobile and vehicle-related accidents. Almost every town, even small towns, have a dangerous intersection or a too-sharp-turn...so, in turn, every town could have one of these ghostly hitchhikers, forever traveling on the same stretch of road that killed them.

But that isn't the only theory. 

Scientific American's article on this mentions that there are two lessons one could take from these tales:

1. A reminder of the importance of community...that good people will pick up distraught-looking hitchhikers in need of a ride.

2. They also served as a warning for driving too fast because you too could end up haunting your own stretch of highway.

According to the writer, Krystal D'Costa, says "These stories aren't necessarily "spine tingling," but they reflect larger social concerns and are designed to encourage behavior change."

Resurrection Mary is one of the most popular of all of these stories. Although, we don't quite know who Mary was there are several primary theories. One of them is that she was a young woman who spent a wonderful night in Chicago dancing the night away at the O Henry Ballroom on Archer Ave. At one point in the night, she leaves the ballroom and begins making her way along the roadway. Presumably, a vehicle struck her, left the scene, and she died as a result of the accident. How do those that experience Mary know it is the same girl? Well, her unmistakable white dress and dancing shoes are her trademarks. Oh, and her destination is always the same...Resurrection Cemetery.

There have been over 30 "verifiable" sightings of Mary. The first encounter occurred allegedly occurred in 1939. Jerry Palus claimed he danced all night with the ghost girl at a dance hall on 47th Street, and when he went to drop her off at the address she gave...she vanished and he was at Resurrection Cemetery. According to Prarie Ghosts, he was desperate to find out more information about what he had experienced, "Determined to find out what was going on, Palus visited the address the girl had given him on the following day. The woman who answered the door told him that he couldn’t have possibly been with her daughter the night before because she had been dead for several years. However, Palus was able to correctly identify the girl from a family portrait in the other room."

 

photo: This image is from Martin and is liscensed under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).

 

The Lighthouse of Tévennec

One of the most haunted places in France is out at sea. The lighthouse of Tévennec was first lit in 1857 and is located snugly between the French mainland and the Île de Sein. It sits on a stretch of water known as the "Raz de Sein" in Brittany. Although it lighthouses are supposed to serve as a beacon of light, it has an irrefutably dark reputation. In fact, it was so difficult to get to and so utterly terrifying to its inhabitants, it was automated in 1910. How terrifying was it? Multiple guards went mad, died suspiciously, lost children, and experienced haunting. 

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There is a chance that death and destruction ruled Tévennec long before lighthouses were even invented. According to Breton folklore, Tévennec was the seat of Ankou...the personification of death. Ankou is also known as the grave yard watcher, so this treacherous stretch of sea seems like a good place to set up shop.

In it's 50+ year history it had twenty-three guards the first of which was Henri Guezennec. Unfortunately, the saying "the first is the worst" sticks solidly to Guezennec's time spent at Tévennec. He went utterly and completely mad due to the ghostly, disembodied voices he heard. Guezennec would be the first of many to be driven mad at Tévennec. The second guard suffered a similar affliction and the government changed Tévennec from a one-man to a two-man operation. 

Hauntings aren't surprising in this isolated and dangerous lighthouse. In fact, it is likely that hundreds of people would have met their end near or on the lighthouse, which was located on the "Raz de Sein" a stretch of water notorious for huge waves. In fact, there was a house that was built and re-built three times but the waves were so large they would often go over the roof, ruining the house.

The strange happenings wore on to such a degree that in 1893 crucifixes were embedded into the rocks surrounding the island. It was thought that this could lessen the strange and unexplained going-ons at Tévennec. This was followed by a new kind of search for the guardsmen: married couples. There was a hope that recruiting married couples to keep the lighthouse together would help stave off loneliness and the ill effects of the island. However, it seemed that no guard could last much more than a year. 

In 2015 Marc Pointud set out to spend 2 months alone in the lighthouse (albeit with media and communication tools) which has remained empty since 1910. Pointud might be just the man for the job, though. In 2002, he founded the National Society for Heritage, Lighthouses and Beacons, to preserve the country's lighthouses, especially the forgotten ones. In 2011, the state granted his organization permission to occupy and renovate Tévennec. He spent the weeks there without incident, although he did say he didn't believe in ghosts and did not feel as disconnected and isolated from the world as the guards that came before him. His long-term goal being to eventually turn it into an artist residence. I wonder what dynamic scenes could be inspired by Tévennec's location. 

.The above image is by Calcineur, Self-photographed and is liscensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

One thing I love writing about on the blog are stories of haunted America. Why? Well, because usually at least 1 or 2 listeners have been to these infamous places and have a story or a picture to share, so if you ever have one share them below or send to astonishingcontact@gmail.com! Now, on with the show.

Today, I wanted to talk about the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (I know Lunatic is NOT a PC word, but that is what it is called. Please do not think the name reflects AL's thoughts on the victims on this Asylum).

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Like many intriguing and infamous buildings,  the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is hidden in the mountains. In particular, Weston, West Virginia. The building itself is formidable - and that isn't an exaggeration. In fact, this Asylum is America's largest hand-cut masonry building. It operated as the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum for over 100 years, 1864-1994.

Not only would this building soon be home to less than savory practices to help those with mental illnesses, but it was built largely by prison labor, beginning in 1858. The Civil War interrupted construction, and the first patients were admitted in 1864, when the hospital was referred to as West Virginia Hospital for the Insane. However, construction continued through 1880. 

Oh, and for those who like an extra added spooky-factor...when completed, the land and buildings comprised of 666 acres.

Despite its massive size, it was really only designed to hold about 250 patients. However, this building did not become one of America's most infamous hauntings because it was a well run asylum. By 1880, right before construction was finished, it already housed about 715 patients. The number continued to grow and doubled in the 1930s. At its peak in the 1950s the facility housed roughly 2,400 patients which far exceeded the limit. The population size lead to mass mismanagement and mistreatment of the patients. Soon enough, gossip and reports began pouring out of the asylum of increasing violence.

The overcrowding, which at this point, had been a decades-long issue, naturally lead to a whole host issues leading to substandard care and conditions. In 1949, the problems became so notorious that the The Charleston Gazette did an entire series of articles exposing the gruesome conditions. These issues included the usual suspects like sanitation issues, broken/not enough furniture, heating issues, and even a lack of light.

However, this expose did not bring the institution down and it continued to operate until 1994. Although the population significant decreased by the mid 1980s, this did not improve conditions. In fact, they had stayed the same or in some cases even gotten worse. For example, patients who could not be controlled appropriately spent inordinate amounts of time literally locked in cages.

One of the most horrifying procedures regularly carried out were transorbital lobotomies, also known as ice-pick lobotomies. The procedure was when a sharp, pronged device was driven through the orbital socket. This caused permanent damage, however it was seemed to 'alleviate' many of the symptoms. These were so popular that one doctor allegedly performed over 225 lobotomies in one week. Dr. Walter Freeman, who helped pioneer this practice in the early '50s, was one of the most notorious doctors of the Asylum.

The final death throes of the building began in the 1990s. In 1992 the Charleston Gazette published another article describing in detail horrendous conditions inside of the asylum. In this year,  George Edward Bodie died after a fight with another patient named David Michael Mason. Furthermore, a patient named Brian Scott Bee, committed suicide and his badly decomposing body was not found for over a week.

Surprisingly enough, the building was named as a National Historic Landmark. The current owners of the building even offer historic daytime tours and paranormal tours six days a week, and even Ghost Tours and Ghost Hunts on weekend nights.

The terrors of the asylum didn't vanish when the hospital went out of official commission. Those who visit the building today regularly report seeing apparitions of nurses, doctors, and even patients roaming down the hallways. There is also an auditory element as well, with many reports of hearing anguished cries echoing through the hallways.

The most infamous haunting is the young ghost of Lily. Lily apparently spent most of her short life inside the walls of the asylum. She was believed to be the daughter of a previous patient, Gladys Ravensfield who was admitted to the asylum after being attacked and raped by soldiers during the civil war. Although some believe she was an orphan left at the steps of the main building. However, sticking to the Ravensfield theory, it was believed she gave birth in 1863 to the baby who was named Lily by the staff. Gladys never fully recovered and eventually descended deeper and deeper into madness due to the horrible expereince and the general unpleasantness of life in the asylum. 

She died in childhood, but the staff memorialized her with a room filled with toys that she was known to interact with, as well as candy. The most popular area on the first floor is Lily’s Room, located in the eastern corner of Ward Four, a “step” between Ward One and the older Civil War section. Lily is known to tug on the clothes of people who she takes a liking to and sometimes even slips her ghostly hand into the hand of female visitors.

 

This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID "highsm.31656". 

The Hinsdale House

Have you ever heard of the Hinsdale house? I hadn't until very recently. Things began going wrong long before the Dandy family moved into a century-old townhouse in Hinsdale, NY during the 1970s...but why not start at the apex?

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Like many families who buy a house - Clara and Phil were excited and caught up with the flurry of excitement that comes with moving. However, the honeymoon glow of the new house only took a few days to begin wearing off. Soon, the family began experiencing some very unexplainable phenomena. 

It started off semi-innouncously - almost instances which could just be brushed off. Things like phone calls from unknown callers and various acts of minor vandalism (think cabinet doors from Paranormal Activity) that is typically linked to poltergeists. The only frightening unexplainable occurrence at the beginning? Sometimes, soft chanting could be heard at the edge of the woods surrounding their home.

One night, the family even reported that a crop of "strange faces" were watching them through their windows. Mr. Dandy, like any good guy, ran outside to confront the trespassers. But, by the time they got their the faces had somehow reversed and now appeared as if they were inside the house looking at him.

Then, soon things began to escalate. They started to see things. What kind of things? The most prevalent seemed to a full-bodied woman in white. However, other apparitions plagued the family like half-animal human hybrids and even slightly indescribable demonic-like beings.

The hauntings soon became more and more violent. In one incident, a lamp was thrown directly at one of the Dandy daughters. Objects often flew around the room, aiming for a human target. 

Driven to desperation in just a few short months, the Dandy's sought out the help of the church. Father Alphonsus was assigned to help the family. A team of paranormal investigators also trekked out to give their assistance to the family. There doesn't seem to be a lot of specific accounts of the exorcism, so it is safe to assume it went...as par for the course as an exorcism can go.

After a few days of cherished calm, the madness and evil began again. The exorcism failed. The activity returned to a heartbreaking fervor, finally forcing the Dandy's to flee the premise and leave the house. They lived in the house from July 1973 - October 1974.

The Hinsdale House is also slightly notorious for another reason: it is responsible for one of the scariest and most watched episodes of Paranormal Lockdown. Nick Groff and Katrina Weidman spent a grueling 72 hours inside the house. The experience included chanting, banging, and an overwhelming sense of confusion. You can watch some clips here.

What is the fate of the house now? Paranormal investigator Dan Klaes bought the property in 2015, and he hosts a variety of paranormal teams, researchers, and investigators at the property. 

The above image is not a picture of the house and is by flickr user Bodomi. It is liscensed under Creative Commons. 

 

A Ghost Ship Found Almost 100 Years Ago is Still a Mystery

96 years ago, a 5-masted, 225-foot schooner crashed into the shoals of Hatteras, NC. The ship's sails were fully engaged, and, as Coastguard searched the ship they did not find the crew that engaged these sails. The only living soul aboard the ship was a cat, oddly enough, with six-toes. One of the only clues of this strange shipwreck? The ship's name: Carroll A. Deering.

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Locals spoke about the mystery constantly, as the coastguard and FBI investigated the ship. In fact, there were 5 total investigations by different government and private institutions to try and figure out what, how, and why the Deering met its fate on the shores of Hatteras.

The 225-foot Deering left Boston and picked up a load of coal in Norfolk in late 1920, bound for South America. The Deering company hired W.B. Wormell to replace Capt. William Merritt, who became too sick to make the voyage.

Joe Shwarzer, the director of the North Carolina Maritime Museums, says "This is still one of the great unsolved maritime mysteries...There are any number of potential explanations for it.”

However, we do know a little bit about the Deering and its journey before it turned into a ghost ship. The Deering company hired W.B. Wormell to replace the previous captain, who was too sick to make the long voyage. Lucky for him, eh? It left Boston to pick up coal from Norfolk in late 1920, and it was bound for South America, and then would make its way back to Boston.

 The ship was making its way back home when it was sighted on January 28th, 1921. This is supported by a report lightship at Cape Fear, south of Wilmington. It was spotted again on January 31st, at approximately 6:30am by Andrew Gray, a member of station 183. Gray spotted the schooner stranded on the outer edge of Diamond Shoals. Several other reports were made of the stranded ship, however, rough waves that morning prevented any rescue boats from heading out.

When rescue crews were able to get close enough to investigate by sight, they reported no signs of life...or the life boats. Rescue crews returned four days later and boarded the boat, as the weather had calmed down by this time.

Upon boarding found food on the galley stove, clothing in lockers, 3 pairs of boots in the captain’s cabin, and even a bed that had been recently slept in, according to a 1921 Virginian-Pilot report.

Theories abound on what happened to the crew - and why they would leave food and supplies on board. For example, given the extreme weather it is possible that they could have tried to make for land but drowned or wrecked in the process.

Or, equally as believable, it is possible that the crew was distressed and the steamboat, the Hewitt, picked them up. Sadly, the Hewitt sank a few days later...potentially taking the Deering crew with it.

 The Bath, N.C., Daily Times had a slightly more nefarious conclusion - that pirates had raided the ship and killed and/or enslaved the crew. However...wouldn't true pirates, ya know, steal everything they could (like the boots and food that were noted as being left)? Though, 3 other ships disappeared around this same time and it was thought to be the work of pirates or rum-runners.

Even more nefarious, there were papers found at a Russian communist office in New York which called for its members to seize any U.S ships they could. Thus, the Deering could have been one of the targets (according to reports of the day.)

At the end of it all though? We don't know. Despite several searches of the eastern seaboard no bodies, evidence, or clues were found that would lead us to discovering the Deering's true fate.

One thing does remain of the crew - their six-toed cat, which, according to locals, has produced a long-lasting progeny of equally-toed cats amongst the island. 

 

The above image is from Flickr user Apasciuto and is liscensed under creative commons. It is not related to the story - simply an image of the ocean!

What Did the Modern Ghost Look Like in 1940?

In the 1940s, two American folklorists undertook the monumental tasks of collecting then-contemporary ghost stories. Despite being separated by over 2,000 miles (one in CA, the other in NY), their findings were eerily similar.

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The findings were published in two different journals. First, "California Ghosts" by Rosalie Hankey was published in California Folklore Quarterly in 1942. This was followed by Louis C. Jones' "The Ghosts of New York: An Analytical Study in the Journal of American Folklore in 1944.

At this time, the most common ghost story across the country was that of the 'vanishing hitchhiker'. Now, if you're into the paranormal even slightly, or ever told ghost stories around a campfire, you probably are familiar with this apparition. The ghost, almost always a woman, appears to motorists on the highway as a totally normal human being in desperate need of a ride. However, after the being has been in the car for some time they either disappear in the actual car, or, when dropped off, disappear then.

The interesting thing about this is, at the time, more people reported seeing solid human-like ghosts, rather than the wispy white ghosts with barely-human shapes, or even blurred edges, that dominant most of our thinking. In fact, many people were completely unable to tell the ghost WASN'T a ghost until it was 'too late'. Or, even more interesting, they would drop them off and then later find out the person they talked to and dropped off had been dead for months or even years.

This is linked to another part of the study - the idea that more than a third of our ghosts died violent or sudden deaths." With hitchhiker deaths, many were accidents or even suicides, and even murders. Thus, those people who suffered greatly at their end of their life now seem to suffer in the after, or pre-after, life.

Even as early as the 1940s, ghosts still played a major role in the human psyche. And, what's more, is that they were becoming more real, more human, and, arguably, more tragic and relatable than the ghosts of yesteryear. Jones wrote that advancements in science of course is correlated with advancements and changes to our ghost lore. In fact, in his article he writes that these advancements allow people to "open their mind to possibilities,"

Our continue updates to ghost lore, and the fact that hundreds, if not thousands, new ghost stories, videos, and photographs circulate on the internet and on major news channels regularly seems to support this 50+ year old belief.

I think it's time for an update, though. What does the contemporary ghost look like in he 21st century? Has it changed due to the prevalence of visual culture like TV, movies, youtube, and more? Have we maintained the more human-like ghosts of the 20th century? Have we regressed to more fanciful and older ghostly traditions? Or, perhaps most interesting of all, have we created a whole new conception of what a ghost is?

The above image is from Flickr User Josh Meek  and is licensed under Creative Commons 2.0. 

Did King have a bit of the Shine?

We know a lot of Stephen King's characters can shine, but did a little rub off on King? Henry Yau was staying at the Stanley Hotel when he decided to take a quick snap. It is this hotel where the idea for the famed book "The Shining" was first created. Yau captured a haunting image when he attempted to take a panoramic picture. Click here to see the photo!

The photo appears to have captured two apparitions standing on the staircase: a woman and her child.

This hotel is where Stephen King and his wife, Tabitha, stayed on the last night before closing for the winter. King was inspired to write the novel due to the strange feeling of being the only guests at a large hotel. The rumors of the hotel being haunted stretch back decades, and even promoted a visit from the show "Ghost Hunters".

According to the Stanley Hotel's website, the ghosts of F.O and Floral Stanley are still trying to the run the hotel from beyond the grave.

This photo is free under the Creative Commons public domain.