Monday, August 18, 2014

Video: Spirit Leaving Car Accident Victim's Body?

Another video has taken the paranormal social media scene by storm.  The video allegedly shows First Responders working the scene of a horrific head-on collision.  As a news commentator makes note of the lack of information to the extent of the injuries suffered, a shadowy figure can be seen ascending from the red vehicle, raising its arms, and shooting up towards the heavens.  The overwhelming consensus on so many of Facebook's notorious paranormal groups is that this is either the soul of the deceased leaving the body....or perhaps something supernatural coming to collect that soul.  Watch the video below:

Did you see it?

This horrific accident took place in late April of 2012 near Brattleboro, VT.  32 year old Dustin North was driving his black Audi with a passenger.  Before the crash, witnesses had reported seeing North swerving back and forth at high speeds along Route 30.  Richard Kenyon (58), was heading in the opposite direction when he swerved into the opposite lane to avoid North's car, which was in the wrong lane at the time.  North swerved back into the correct lane and hit Kenyon's red Jetta head on.  The accident happened north of Grafton Village Cheese, near the I-91 overpass.

Fortunately, North and his passenger walked away with only minor injuries.  Richard Kenyon also walked away with only minor injuries.  However, his passenger, 65 year old Joseph Chagnon, had to be cut out of the vehicle and airlifted to UMass Medical Center with a host of severe injuries.  He spent four days in ICU in critical condition, suffering from a broken back, broken ribs, a broken clavicle, broken neck, broken leg, and internal bleeding from lacerations of the liver and kidney.  Fortunately, Chagnon survived and was released from the hospital to continue his healing at home.  The following November, North was sentenced to 3.5 to 7 years prison for the accident.  At the time, he had been under the influence of pain killers, Xanax, and methadone. no one died from this accident.  Does that mean the video is necessarily a fake?  Perhaps it was a Guardian Angel or spirit guide, watching over and keeping all four men involved in the crash relatively safe.  I'd like to believe I'm sure many others would like, as well.

But...that is not the case with this video.  If the cartoonish appearance of the apparition didn't alert you to its lack of authenticity, then perhaps this video will convince you.  This is the original video footage; notably absent is the black apparition:

Man Sentenced For Causing Near-Fatal Crash While High on Prescription Drugs, by Susan Smallheer.  From Vermont Today (November 15, 2012)

Brattleboro News Youtube Channel, Info from the Brattleboro Informer

Monday, August 4, 2014

Charles Lindbergh and the Third Man Factor

Charles Lindbergh in WV, 1927
Today is somewhat of an interesting day for West Virginia history.  On August 4, 1927 the famed aviator Charles Lindbergh landed his plane, The Spirit of St. Louis, at Moundsville's Langin Field.  Following the success of his solo, non-stop, trans-Atlantic flight that May, Lindbergh was on the West Virginia leg of his country-wide tour promoting aviation.

As far as I know, there were no spooky occurrences directly related to the stop in Moundsville or Lindbergh's public appearance in Wheeling...but the same cannot be said about his actual trans-Atlantic journey!  During his solo trip across the Atlantic Ocean on May 20-21, Lindbergh fought a storm, disorienting fog, ice in the fuselage and severe fatigue.  At one point, he actually was reported as falling asleep with his eyes open and suffering hallucinations.

But were these images really just simple hallucinations...or something else altogether?  Many believe that Charles Lindbergh experienced a very unique (possibly) paranormal phenomena that only a handful of others have experienced over the years:  The Third Man Factor.

These incidents wouldn't hit the mainstream public until 1953, when the book, The Spirit of St. Louis, was published.  The text contains a timeline of events, including notes concerning the idea that maybe Lindbergh WASN'T alone in his plane during his trans-Atlantic flight.  Here's just a few quotes, courtesy of Good Ghosts That Help, about the beings he began seeing around halfway through his historic flight :

* "Those phantoms speak with human voices.  They are friendly, vapor-like shapes without substance, able to appear or disappear at will, to pass in and out through the walls of the fuselage.."

* "They were discussing problems of my navigation, reassuring me, giving me messages of importance unattainable in ordinary life."

*  "These spirits have no rigid bodies, yet they remain human in outline and form.  They're neither intruders nor strangers, its more like a gathering of friends and family after years of separation, as though I'd known all of them before in some past life."

The Spirit of St. Louis at Langin Field

What Charles Lindbergh experienced while all alone up there in his plane has come to be known as the Third Man Factor.  The "third-man" moniker comes from Ernest Shackleton's experience of the phenomena when making the historic trip to the South Pole in 1916.  Shackleton, along with another member of the party, F.A. Worsley, both made statements to the effect that they had a strong sensation that they were accompanied by a fourth member of the expedition, or...a third companion. T.S. Eliot drew on that experience, and wrote a poem called The Waste Land, changing the Fourth Man to the Third Man.

However, it wouldn't be until 2009 that the term would really pick up steam.

That year, John Geiger released the book, The Third Man Factor: Surviving the Impossible.  Building on over six years of research, the book chronicles the case studies of numerous people who survived with a little help and/or reassurance from someone who wasn't truly there.  According to Geiger, the Third Man is an unseen being that intervenes at a critical moment---when people are in great stress or in a life or death struggle---to give comfort, aid, or support.

Mountain climbers, solo sailors, survivors of shipwrecks, and polar explorers make up the largest demographic of witnesses to this phenomena, but the Third Man can pop up anywhere to anyone, it seems. In addition to Charles Lindbergh, another notable case is that of Ron DiFrancesco.  DiFrancesco was one of the last, if not THE last person to make it out of the second tower alive during the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.  At one point where DiFrancesco was giving up, he heard a voice calling him by name, telling him to get up, and that he could do this.  DiFrancesco claimed that not only did he hear the unidentified voice, but he also felt an unseen presence with him.  He even felt that 'person' lift him up and guide him to safety!

There are definitely enough case studies to show that something is happening to these people, but what exactly that might be is hotly debated.  Some believe that these beings are supernatural in origin.  Perhaps they are guardian angels or spirit guides?  Maybe they're the spirits of loved ones who have passed away coming back to help us when we need them the most?  One page I found went as far as to theorize that these beings are gremlins.

Other theories are a little more psychological and/or scientific.  It's highly likely that these ARE hallucinations, but hallucinations that are part of a larger coping mechanism as the witnesses are trying to make sense out of tough situations and subconsciously make appropriate choices that the conscious might not be able to tackle.  The process might have something to do with the theory of bicameralism, an idea that the human mind once assumed a state in which cognitive functions were divided between one part of the brain which appears to be "speaking," and a second part which listens and obeys.  To me, the theory of the bicameral mind sounds a lot like the idea of Socrates' daimon...a being he thought was a separate entity, but that later scholars argue was simply a manifestation of Socrates' own conscious. many, this phenomena takes on a very religious or spiritual nature, especially for Christians as the similarities to the Footsteps poem are obvious.

There are a ton of excellent sources on the theory of The Third Man Factor, and I suggest anyone with an interest to do some research of their own as there is no way I can do the subject justice without making this post the size of a book!  I've listed a few sources that I used in this blog to get you started, though. Happy Reading!

Additional Reading:
Lindberg Lands in Moundsville, by Thomas O. James
Article from the Moundsville Journal
Charles Lindbergh's Gremlins, by Seeks Ghosts
Third Man Factor from Wikipedia
NPR's Guardian Angels or the Third Man Factor? 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

South Carolina's Forgotten Ghost Photo

The information for today's post comes from an excellent little book called The Ghosts of Charleston by Edward B. Macy and Julian T. Buxton III. While fairly short, its packed with stories from Charleston, South Carolina's many, many haunted hot spots, including a whole chapter dedicated to today's photograph:

The photograph above was taken about 11 pm on June 10, 1987 at the St. Philip's Church Graveyard.  Local resident, Harry Reynolds, had been out all day testing his new Kodak ASA-200 film camera, when he decided to end the day with a couple of shots at the nearby cemetery.  Unfortunately, the gates were already locked for the Harry cut through a nearby playground that adjoined the cemetery property, and took his photos through the wrought iron gate.

Most of the cemetery shots turned out rather dark, but the image above, which was the last on the roll, came out showing what appears to be a clear image of a shrouded woman kneeling over a grave!  Thinking it was a simple double exposure, Harry sent the photo and the negatives off to the Kodak lab, where experts ruled out that possibility, as well as the possibility of tampering.

Convinced he had caught a real ghost on film, Harry then set out with the help of his wife and a friend to discover who the ghost could be.  They learned that the grave belonged to Sue (Susan) Howard Hardy, wife of Gaston Hardy, who was the Secretary of the Treasury for the South Carolina Railroad.   She had died on June 16, 1888 at only 29 years old.  As their research would show, Sue passed away from complications due to labor.  Her stillborn baby had died six days earlier...on June 10th.

Harry had taken a photograph of what appears to be a woman in mourning, 99 years to the day, after Sue Hardy's child had died.  Is this a photograph of a mother mourning the loss of her child from beyond the grave or simply a camera malfunction?  If you're in the area, you can find out for yourself! Today, the cemetery is a favorite stop on the different Charleston ghost tours and it is reported that the mournful cries of a woman can be heard at certain times in the evening.  Some of the tours also offer a warning:  When copies of the photograph by Harry Reynolds are passed out to guests, pregnant women are warned not to touch them after several incidents have arisen where pregnant women DID handle the photographs and consequently felt as if they were being choked, felt nauseous, etc. The church, however, doesn't put much stock into these reports, and has gone as far as to issue the following signage:

Further Reading:
St. Philip's Church website
Scares and Haunts of Charleston
Find-a-Grave: Sue Howard Hardy

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Alaska's Haunted Boney Courthouse

Today's Haunted America location comes from Anchorage, Alaska and is really more of a fright bite.  As interesting as the story is to me, there just really isn't any information on this location and its hauntings anywhere online.  Nevertheless...

Alaska became a part of the United States in 1959, but it wouldn't be until over five years later that its first governor, William Egan, established the state's Supreme Court (1965).  Originally composed of three justices, Buell Nesbett led the group as the Chief Justice.  As the state's needs continued to grow, the decision to increase the number of justices from 3 to 5 was made in 1968, and one of those justices was the Honorable George Frank Boney.  Boney served as a justice for two years.

In 1968, Judge Nesbett retired, and Judge Boney took his place, becoming Alaska's second (and youngest) Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.  Unfortunately, tragedy would cut Boney's career short and he died in a boating accident on August 30, 1972.  Born in July of 1930, Boney was only 42 years old.

Chief Justice George Boney, seated
His legacy would live on, though.  Completed in 1973, Anchorage's new judicial building was named the Boney Memorial Courthouse at the insistence of a former state attorney who claimed to feel the presence of the deceased judge.  In fact, the modern courthouse, the first to incorporate public art in its design and planning, is said to be haunted by none other than Judge George Boney himself.

Anchorage Daily News
The Alaska Court System: Celebrating 50 Years

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Kids Say the Darnedest Things

I'm sure a lot of you have seen those websites that list really creepy things that little kids have said to their parents, babysitters, and other adults.  Some of the disturbing statements seem to suggest an imaginary friend that might not be so imaginary...and some of the statements seem to suggest evidence of the child remembering a past life.

My own son, Luke, is almost 5 years old.  Since he learned to talk, he's definitely said some strange things...but things that seem to suggest that perhaps he could see ghosts.  Not once did he ever say anything that was exceptionally creepy, and he certainly didn't say anything that would make me think he was reincarnated. That changed a few days ago!

Luke and I were driving home one evening, and like most kids his age, he LOVES to talk and discuss anything and everything he can think of.  We were almost home when he started talking about being a big boy.  Being a "big boy" has been a big deal for Luke lately.  He just started wearing underwear FULL TIME (no more pull-ups!) and will be starting preschool soon. He was chatting away about things he could do now that he couldn't do when he was a little baby when he asked me very bluntly if he was old enough to drive yet.

I laughed and told him that no, he had a few years to wait before he'd be old enough to drive.  In his sweet little voice he then asked me if I would teach him to drive.  (This might have been brought on by the fact that his older cousin just got his driver's license.)  I replied that of course I'd teach him to drive, and that I would teach him many things over the next few years.  He seemed content with that answer, but a few seconds later is when the conversation turned weird.

From the backseat came a tentative, soft little, "Mom?"

Me: "Yes, babe?"

Luke:  "Remember a long time ago when I was big enough to drive and I drived your car? I drived fast!"

Me: "You drove mommy's car?! No way!"

Luke: "Yeah! You got mad, but I drived it and then car crash.  BOOM! Big crash.  Mommy, you cried and cried.  I crash and was dead."

By this time we were pulling into the driveway and good thing, because I was shaking like a leaf.  I firmly told him that he hadn't died; he was right here in the car with me and we were both fine.  He hasn't mentioned it again, and neither have I.  I know its probably nothing significant; just the ramblings of a 4 year old boy with a very active imagination who watches a lot of stuff on television that he probably shouldn't, but it really shook me up.  From now on, I'll be paying especially close attention anything out of the ordinary he says...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Toronto's Keg Steak House

2005, From Wikipedia
Happy Canada Day!  Today is July 1st, and that means a great big "Happy Birthday" to our friends in the north.  On July 1, 1867 Canada became a new federation with its own constitution by signing the Constitution Act--formerly known as the British North America Act.  And, what better way to celebrate than with a Canadian ghost story?

Today's tale comes from one of the most beautiful restaurants I think I have ever seen.  I thought Columbus' Elevator was an elegant and unique dining experience, but it doesn't hold a candle to Toronto's Keg Steakhouse.

The Keg Steakhouse franchise is known for housing its restaurants in really unique locations, and the old Euclid Hall in Toronto was a wonderful choice.  Construction on the mansion began in 1867, the same year that Canada gained its independence!  It was built for Arthur McMaster, the nephew of the prominent William McMaster, founder of McMaster University.

In 1880, Hart Massey and his family moved into the home after living for several years in Cleveland, Ohio.  The Massey's only daughter, Lillian, named the home, Euclid Hall, after the street they lived on in Cleveland. Lillian was a very educated young woman, but when her husband died in 1909, it was said that her health steadily declined until her own death in 1915.  That year, the home was given over to Victoria College.  Over the years since, it served as the first home to the radio station, CFRBC, now Newstalk 10, an art gallery, and a restaurant.  It was purchased in 1976 for use as The Keg Steakhouse.

According to one website, the hauntings of the former mansion-turned restaurant began as early as the 1950s.  There are actually many, many ghost stories and sightings associated with The Keg, but none so prevalent as the ghost of the maid.

Legend has it that Lillian's death in 1915 so grieved one of her maids that the young woman tied a noose to the oval vestibule above the main staircase and hung herself.  While grief is the main reason given for the suicide, other theories claim that the maid was having an affair with a member of the Massey family, was possibly pregnant, and was afraid that Lillian's death would lead to her secret being discovered.  Whatever the cause, her body was found the other members of the staff and to this day, the spectral image of a maid is seen hanging from a noose in that area. However, somewhat contradictory to these legends, Lillian wasn't even living in Canada when she died, according to her biography.

Other sightings include a young boy seen going up the staircase to the second floor who likes to stop and peer at diners.  This young boy may or may not be the same ghost believed to be a son of Hart Massey, who, is seen angrily running around and who is to blame for an armchair found in a window frame.  Apparently, Hart scolded a young son for playing on the Sabbath, and moving a heavy armchair into the window frame was his childish way of retaliating!  Children are heard playing in the upstairs area where the children once played and slept when the mansion was a private residence, and a small child can be heard crying for his mother.

Lillian herself may also still be haunting the home. She has been seen on the second floor, but she's also credited with being the entity that haunts the ladies' restroom on the second floor.  She isn't SEEN in this location, but has scared several patrons by giving them the feeling that someone was watching them, flushing toilets, and rattling the handle on the stall doors.  In fact, one woman claimed that after feeling the eerie presence, she was shocked to actually see the latch on the stall door come undone and the door fly open!

Ghost Walks and Dark History Tours
Why I Love Toronto

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Haunted St. James Hotel of Alabama

From Panoramio
In 1837 the Brantley Hotel opened in Selma, Alabama.  It was named after the head financier, Brigadier General John Brantley and catered to the rich cotton traders and other wealthy agriculturists and plantation owners of the mid-19th century.

Throughout the years and throughout many different owners, the Brantley Hotel went through some interesting transitions.  Owner, Dr. James Gee renamed the Brantley renamed the hotel the Troupe House, and put his slave, Benjamin Sterling Turner in charge of management.  Turner would go on to become the first African-American mayor of Selma, and the first African-American elected to U.S. Congress.

During the Civil War, the hotel was saved from the destruction of the town.  In 1865, when Union troops took over Selma, they burned much of the business district and factories.  The hotel was saved due to the fact that the troops used it as their headquarters.

It wouldn't be until 1871 that Captain Tom Smith, the newest owner, changed the name to the St. James Hotel.  It was during Smith's tenure that the infamous Frank and Jesse James allegedly stayed at the hotel.  Unfortunately, hard times during the 1890s led to the closure of the St. James.  Afterward, the former hotel became used as storage and office space, a feed store, and a tire recapping factory.  The first floor was completely gutted, and several wings were demolished during this time period.

A group of concerned citizens and investors came together in the 1990s, and at a cost of $6 million, restored the hotel to its former glory.  Luckily, much of the upper floors were still in tact, but improvements were made to update the hotel with modern amenities.  The new St. James Hotel opened in 1997 and it wouldn't be long before the ghost stories started pouring in.

By Alex Bush, c. 1937
According to different sources, there are three main ghosts that call the St. James home.  The first is the most interesting to me.  Apparently guests have often complained about hearing a dog incessantly barking in the courtyard, keeping them up all night.  When staff goes to investigate, there are no dogs to be found.  The sound of a dog running in the halls has also been noted.

The second ghost is said to be none other than Jesse James himself.  A man in 1800s clothing, complete with spurs has been seen in several locations throughout the hotel, most notably exiting rooms 214, 314, and 315, as well as sitting at a table in the bar.

"Lucinda" is the third ghost of the St. James.  A portrait of Lucinda hangs in the Water Avenue side sitting room.  Lucinda most often makes her presence known through the strong scent of lavender, but she's been seen on occasion as well, walking the halls of the upper floors.  But who is Lucinda?  Legend has it that Lucinda was a long-term resident of the hotel...and the mistress of Jesse James.

If you stay at the hotel and are interested in the ghostly side of its history, make sure you ask the front desk staff to see the ghost photo.  The photo, allegedly showing one of the ghosts of the St. James isn't on display, but staff will be glad to show it to you.  It'll be up to you to decide whether its just lens flare...or something more!

Article by Beverly Crider
St. James Hotel Website
St. James Virtual Tour
Southern Spirit Guide