Sunday, June 28, 2015

Meteor or Bad Omen Over Huntington?

I spend a lot of time at the Cabell County library going through old newspapers.  Sometimes I'm looking for information on cases we're working on and sometimes I'm looking for information for my blog. Sometimes, I just stumble upon some really weird and awesome things!  That's what happened to me last week, when I was doing some personal research on a family member who was involved in a murder.

The following article has been transcribed exactly how it appeared (weird spelling, grammar and all) in the January 13, 1914 edition of the Huntington Herald Dispatch.  According to other articles from around the same time period, near this date a meteor was spotted by many over this area of the country.  However, this was the only odd tale apparently associated with an otherwise normal event.  Several boys who witnessed the meteor near the old C&O Hospital on Huntington's 6th avenue reported it did some pretty strange things!  As an added bonus, this article goes on to discuss a haunted house that was located on 20th Street at the time!  Note:  If you enjoy this story, please check out The East End Pillow Miracle, another newspaper article I found about a bad omen discussed in a local Huntington newspaper.

Old C&O Hospital on 6th Avenue
BOYS SAY THEY SAW BRILLIANT METEOR DESCEND FROM HEAVEN WRITE NAME IN LETTERS OF FIRE, THEN RISE TO SKIES IN FORM OF WOMAN'S HEAD

Strange Story of Youngsters Living Near Chesapeake & Ohio Hospital Startles Their Parents---'Twas But Ordinary Shooting Star, Many Declare---Dark Tale of Haunted House in Same Vicinity Heard.

By R.S. Thornburgh

What many persons in the vicinity of the Chesapeake & Ohio hospital on upper Sixth avenue declared to have been a celestial portent of grave mien, but which others say was nothing more nor less than a huge brilliant meteor that swept the heavens shortly after dusk last night, was seen by several small boys while skating on a pond near the hospital who afterwards told a tale which is as wonderful and wierd as any of the dark mystery stories painted in classical literature.

The shadows had become long and disappeared in the gathering gloom as the youngsters played about an old field close to the hospital where there is a small sheet of ice.  About as they were ready to start home one suddenly cried out to the others to behold a great falling star which was zizzagging its way down the heavens.  One of them, according to his mother, Mrs. J.W. Terry of Nineteenth street and Buffington avenue, who afterwards related the story to a reporter, ran terrified to his home while the others waited in breathless fear to see what would happen.

This is the story they told to their parents:

The star became brighter and brighter, leaving in its path a tail of fire. Suddenly pausing over a lonely cottage in the vicinity, it spread into a great light.

As it hung like a fiery apparition over the home it silently burst into a flame of illumination.

So stunned by fear that they could scarcely move the boys saw written in letters of fire a strange name over the house.  They  said it was:

"Myrs. Vyrant."

As they watched the letters faded and in their stead was the face of a woman, beautiful and pale.  The blazing eyes of fire seemed turned upon them, they told their parents, as slowly the spirit-like form that had come down from the stars rose over the house and finally disappeared in the eastern heavens.

The youngsters, who sought out separately by persons in the neighborhood of the hospital told exactly the same story, are Charles and James Nash, the children of Mr. and Mrs. John Nash of Sixth avenue; Orben Davis, the son of Mrs. N.A. Davis, a nurse, of Sixth avenue, and Llewellyn Terry, the son of the Rev. and Mrs. J.W. Terry.  The Rev. Mr. Terry is a traveling evangelist, now in the south.  Orville Perry, a small colored boy, also saw the vision, according to his story.

The neighborhood on upper Sixth avenue was greatly excited last night by the story of the boys and credence was given to it by many.  The boys were closely questioned by many persons, who expressed fear that the mysterious thing that blazed in the heavens was an omen of ill tidings, that death or deep suffering was to follow to someone.  They said that it could not have been sent for nothing.

Strange tales were told there last night of a murder committed near where the wonderful sight was seen, in days long ago when the city was still young, and of a treasure buried by the murderer.

Hinging onto the story it was related that on Twentieth street, some distance away is a haunted house.  Several persons have moved into the place and afterwards left because of wierd sounds that startle them from their sleep in the early hours of the morning. 

These sounds, the tale goes, take the form of soft footsteps on the stairway and creakings of doors that never moved.  None has explained these nocturnal disturbances nor why the sights that would make one's blood run cold have been there, said one woman last night, to whom the ghostly heavenly visitor that frightened the small boys brought to mind the haunted house.

It is the common talk in the vicinity that there is a treasure buried somewhere near this house and that back of this hord lies deep plot of intrigue as dark as any of the narrative of the operations of Kidd, the pirate, in the early days.

Writers of old times in their eastern mystery stories of strange happenings on wide deserts told of beings descended from the skies, of devils and genii risen from the depths of the region of fire, yet none dared conceive a more puzzling "yarn" than that told by the youngsters of what they thought they saw!  All insisted that they were telling the truth and were apparently much frightened by what they could not understand.

Many persons in the city saw a flaming meteor just after dark last night.  It was described as one of the most brilliant that has ever been witnessed in this part of the Ohio valley, forming a complete arc over the heavens before it finally disappeared in the western horizon.

Meteors, considered by the ancients as forerunners of disaster, famine or war, and almost as greatly feared as were comets, ever have had a romantic supernatural air about them, that leads to many a delightful tale.

However, at this season meteors are not unusual, astronomy tells us.  This heavenly body is nothing more than a large shooting star which has become diverted from its course in the space beyond our atmosphere and is hurled through the air.  The contact of the body with the air, because of its terrific speed causes the meteor to catch fire, therefore being visible to the eye.  Most meteors and shooting stars burn themselves out before striking the earth, but occasionally one reads of one of these bodies reaching the ground with such force as to bury itself in the soil or even to damage property, in case of striking a building.  Examination of such fallen stars by scientists have shown them composed of earth and various metals.

There are certain times of the year when falling stars are quite frequent, one of these periods being during the last of this month.  At these times one may notice a large number of shooting stars if the nights are clear. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Death Looking into the Window of One Dying

Today's blog post is a short one, but its the first of several similar postings that I hope to share with you throughout the year.  The topic is strange, creepy, and spooky art...of course, with a paranormal flair to it! 

The painting below is entitled Death Looking into the Window of One Dying (1900) by Czech artist, Jaroslav Panuska. Panuska was born in 1872 and died in 1958, and while many of his paintings are mundane landscape-type scenes, a handful are rather unique and arguably downright creepy!  For more of these creepy works by Panuska, please check out the Monster Brains blog!


Friday, June 19, 2015

Women in Hysterics as Ghost Runs Down Street

The Baptist Church in Rockville Centre that was 'haunted' by a 'ghost'!
Just in time to be added to the Friday Night Funnies collection, I found this rather hilarious article printed in the January 8, 1914 edition of the Huntington Herald-Dispatch.  The story comes from Rockville Centre, Long Island, New York and features a rather unique sort of ghost...

ROCKVILLE CENTRE, L.Is. Jan. 7--There are several persons in this village today who are still on the verge of hysterics as a result of a scare from what they believed to be a ghost.  It wasn't. It was very material and the only thing spiritual about it was the ingredients taken prior to its materialization.  All who were frightened were returning to their homes from a church service.

Since four prisoners broke out of the jail recently Dr. Devillo N. Bulson, the village president, adopted the scheme of lodging drunkards and other persons charged with minor offences at the Rockaway Centre Hotel, trusting to the efficient and popular night clerk of that hostelry to guard them. 

John McManus, of East Rockaway, who was accused of having accumulated more of a load of liquor than he could carry, went in search of Dr. Bulson, saying he wished to be committed to a comfortable bed in the hotel. Mistaking the brass sign on a house, McManus entered the home of Dr. Frank T. Delano instead of that of the village president.

Dr. Delano said he would not accept McManus' explanation and the latter began to wreck the interior of the house.  Policemen Peterson and Kircher were summoned.  They marched McManus to the jail, deciding to take another chance and hoping that McManus' condition might deceive him concerning the strength of the institution.  An hour later, at half past ten o'clock, McManus is said to have removed a door of the jail from its hinges.  With a sheet covering his head and trailing to the ground he ran out of the prison and down the main street of the village, uttering terrifying shouts.

The union service, in the Baptist church had just ended, and there was a long procession of women and men on the sidewalks.  The noisy apparition plunged through these, bowling over several women and knocking men aside.  Other women fainted, and the "ghost" ran up the church steps and into the auditorium before all of the persons were out, continuing his shouts and waving his sheet.

Several men drove him from the church and pursued him five blocks before they caught him.

Then the two policemen, deciding to take no more chances on the jail, placed McManus in a wagon and drove him two miles to East Rockaway, his home, where they deposited him on the road and told him not to return.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Leeds General Infirmary Ghost Hoax

It isn't even Halloween season, yet there seems to be an explosion of people trying to pass off photos that have been digitally altered with the help of any number of ghost cam applications as the real deal.  Several times a day I find myself posting screen shots of different app menus trying to show people that the 'ghost' is nothing more than a prank.

One of the more prolific photos being shared all over social media was featured recently on a British news website, The Mirror.  The article claims that Andrew Milburn, a 21 year old employee of Leeds General Infirmary sent a Snapchat photo to his girlfriend.  The photo was taken at the hospital's Clarendon wing, which is the children's ward, and Milburn claims that he didn't realize the photo contained what appears to be the ghostly image of a young girl until later.

Even after numerous people wrote in, proving that the image is from a ghost app, Milburn maintains that he did not alter his photo or is otherwise trying to hoax anyone.  However, it is clear to MOST people that the image is indeed a ghost app.  As you can see from the photo below, the image used is in the first small box.  It has been transposed in the photo, but is clearly the same image of a young girl in a white dress posed at an angle.  I say MOST people realize this because unfortunately, even when presented with the evidence, there have been numerous instances of people still claiming that this photo is indeed proof of an afterlife.


It seems that even complete strangers cannot accept the fact that these types of photographs aren't 'real' because admitting that they are hoaxed somehow invalidates their own experiences.  I really hope that more people start realizing that just because a particular photo (or video, or EVP, etc.) isn't proof of life after death, it doesn't mean that what they experienced wasn't real.  In fact, its my opinion that blindly believing in and accepting shoddy evidence is a drastic insult to more unexplained claims.

I also hope that by continuing to share these ghost app photos and informational resources that more people will become familiar with them and stop being so easily fooled!  Anyone claiming to be a paranormal investigator or researcher needs to study these ghost apps and become familiar with the many images...many of which are used over and over again.  There are some great resources and databases, which I've listed below:

Ghost App Ghosts
There's a (Ghost) App For That
Bust That Ghost




Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Book Review for Ghosts of Old Louisville

Title: Ghosts of Old Louisville: True Stories of Hauntings in America's Largest Victorian Neighborhood
Author: David Domine
Published: 2005 by McClanahan Publishing House, Inc.
Amazon Purchase Info

If I had to choose one word to sum up this book, it would have to be...sophisticated.

Seriously, this was a pretty awesome book.  David Domine is a resident of Old Louisville, a huge Victorian neighborhood in central Kentucky.  Through beautiful writing, David tells the history of his unique neighborhood and the tales of ghostly residents that still reside therein.  Included on that list is David's own home and the steps he had to take to ensure a peaceful existence of cohabiting with the other side.

While the stories are primarily from private residences, there are a handful of locations that are open to the public, such as the Speed Art Museum and Central Park.   There's even a brief write-up of Waverly Hills, because no book about the ghosts of Louisville could be complete without at least a mention of the famous tuberculosis hospital.

I personally really enjoyed this book.  It was the perfect blend of historical fact and story-telling.  As an added bonus, there were plenty of photographs to really illustrate the beauty of this historic district.  While Old Louisville is now a protected historical district, in the 1940s, the neighborhood saw a lot of neglect and decline.  David and so many of the other current residents that he interviews and shares stories from have really taken great pride in returning the neighborhood to a sophisticated, upscale example of Victorian style---that passion and dedication certainly comes through in the writing.  I'd definitely recommend this book as a welcome addition to any library of Kentucky ghost stories, but I think anyone who has an interest in the Victorian age, history in general, or simply just a good ghost story can get a lot out of this book as well.  I know I'll be keeping an eye out for this author's other books!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Saturday Documentary Roundup

Last Saturday I posted about all the horror films I watched throughout the week, all of which were available through Netflix streaming.  THIS week I went in a little bit different of a direction---I focused on documentaries and non-fiction series.

1. Mystery Files: Hitler---I began with a short, 24 minute documentary by the Smithsonian Channel (available on Netflix streaming) about Adolph Hitler's earlier years.  This film focuses on the changes Hitler went through during WWI that turned him from an unambitious slacker to the anti-Semitic politician hell-bent on world domination we now know him as.  I didn't really know a lot about Hitler's involvement in WWI so this was definitely interesting and educational...but with most of these Mystery Files, there was still no real sense of...closure...maybe?  Only speculation and theories were presented in regards to the mystery of why Hitler became the most evil man in history.

2. Killer Legends---If you enjoyed the Cropsey documentary, you'll really enjoy this one as well.  It's put out by the same people, and has a similar theme.  Instead of focusing on ONE urban legend, however, in this film they tackle four popular urban myths and find REAL crimes that formed the basis of the tales.  I thought this was really well done and its probably my favorite documentary of the week. Interviews with the people who lived through the tales, plenty of newspaper accounts, and actual visits to the site were enhanced by statements made by historians, researchers, and folklore/urban legend experts, making this not only entertaining, but pretty educational as well. It was also pretty creepy...

3. Myth Hunters: The Nazis and the Book of Power---This one wasn't a documentary, per se, but part of a television series.  I chose to watch this particular episode because I've always had a fascination with the Nazi obsession with the occult.  The Book of Power in question is the Germania...a book Himmler read and based much of his ideas on genetic purity and the perfect German race on.  I was absolutely fascinated by how a stubborn Italian Count went to great lengths to make sure the Nazis didn't get what they wanted.

4. The Truth Behind: UFOS---Pretty standard UFO documentary, complete with a trip to Area 51 and much discussion on Roswell.  However, this was still pretty interesting as it delved a lot into the recent work of Moller and his UFO-like flying vehicles.

5. Mystery Files: Abraham Lincoln---Abraham Lincoln was a pretty complex guy.  This short film focuses on his early life and how it shaped his political agenda.  Lincoln's earliest years as a politician were of a stark contrast to his later years and I never realized that he sat out of politics for five years.

6. Nightmares in Red, White, and Blue---A look at the cultural history of horror movies in the United States.  Most of the American greats in horror film make an appearance in this documentary.  Probably my SECOND favorite pick of the week!

7. The Search for the Holy Grail---This was an excellent documentary as well.  Most grail documentaries focus on the Dan Brown interpretation of what the grail is.  While those theories are certainly discussed, this film tends to explore all possibilities and examines how art, literature and pop culture through the ages worked to shape the grail story...and vice versa.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Yokum's Vacationland


Shirley and Carl Yokum, Source

It all started in 1935 when Seneca Rocks resident, Carl Yokum, realized the potential of the area as a premier fishing tourism destination.  That year, he built the first two log cabins at an investment of about $30 per cabin that would grow into the massive vacation empire known as Yokum's Vacationland.  Three years later, Carl married his childhood sweetheart, Shirley Bland, and together they ran their rustic empire, which today includes a general store/motel, Princess Snowbird's Indian Village complete with teepee camping, campsites and cabins, a restaurant, a second motel, two school buildings and even more log cabins!

However, things didn't always go as planned for the Yokum's and their campsite near the base of Seneca Rocks.  Carl's very first customers only paid for one week---their second week's check BOUNCED. During WWII, Seneca Rocks was used as a rock climbing training facility for soldiers, and tourists were replaced with military personnel.  Vandals destroyed the original canvas coverings of the teepee village and in 1985, deadly flooding destroyed most of the original cabins.  But through it all, the Yokum's managed to stay together, and rebuild, bigger and better than ever at each setback.  Today, Carl has passed, but Shirley still takes care of much of the daily operations well into her 90s and visitors still come from miles around to stay at the campground.  Staff working as guides to Seneca Rock also sometimes stay for the season.

In fact, it is one such former employee who is responsible for sharing all the spooky goings-on here!  In February of 2014, a climbing guide who stayed at the campground in a pop-up camper all season long wrote into the WVGhosts website to share plenty of personal stories from the campground.

Activity experienced included a constant feeling of being watched, either through the windows of the camper, or from the treeline or pavilion on the way to the bathhouse from there.  The pavilion was also said to creak and make other noises, just as if someone was standing there. Footsteps were heard in the gravel behind this guide, and in one unfortunate incident, some unseen force seemed to have grabbed the neck of this unfortunate employee and slammed her head down on the table!

The most haunted area, however, seems to be the bathhouses, located on the lower level with guests rooms above it.  Stall doors would unlock and fly open, this employee would be poked while showering, and footsteps and movement could be heard upstairs, even when no one was staying in the rooms above.  It's anyone's guess as to who or what is responsible for the strange activity experienced in the area, but many believe that the root cause of the paranormal activity could be because of the Native American influence of the area, especially the disturbance of a burial ground.

Sources:
Goldenseal Magazine: Fall 2008
WVGhosts
Yokum's Vacationland Website
The Legend of Princess Snowbird