Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Brocken Spectre

It's Wednesday, so I thought I'd try a theme post today!  To celebrate Weird Weather Wednesday, today's photograph is definitely pretty creepy, maybe even a tad spooky, but completely explainable by a natural, atmospheric phenomena.  Today's photograph is...

The Brocken Spectre

This particular photo is just one of many wonderful examples of the Brocken Spectre Phenomena out there.  This one was taken in Poland's Tatra Mountains, and as you can see, features a shadowy human figure with notably long limbs floating in the sky, shrouded with a rainbow colored aura.  But, what appears as a ghostly spirit is actually the product of being in the right place at the right time.

According to Wikipedia: 
The "spectre" appears when the sun shines from behind the observer, who is looking down from a ridge or peak into mist or fog. The light projects their shadow through the mist, often in a triangular shape due to perspective. The apparent magnification of size of the shadow is an optical illusion that occurs when the observer judges his or her shadow on relatively nearby clouds to be at the same distance as faraway land objects seen through gaps in the clouds, or when there are no reference points by which to judge its size. The shadow also falls on water droplets of varying distances from the eye, confusing depth perception. The ghost can appear to move (sometimes suddenly) because of the movement of the cloud layer and variations in density within the cloud.  The head of the figure is often surrounded by the glowing halo-like rings of a glory—rings of coloured light that appear directly opposite the sun when sunlight is reflected by a cloud of uniformly-sized water droplets. The effect is caused by the refraction of visible light. -Wikipedia
First described in 1780 by Johann Silberschlag, the name comes from the Brocken, a peak in Germany's Harz Mountain range, noted for its misty mountain banks and low-altitude accessibility.  Legend has it that at least one mountain climber was so startled by the sudden appearance of a huge, shadowy humanoid that he fell to his death.  Since then, it has become a widespread superstition that any climber unfortunate enough to witness a Brocken Spectre, or Brocken Bow as its sometimes called, is doomed to meet his/her demise on the mountain. If you think THAT'S spooky---apparently you don't even need a mountain OR the sun to create a similar phenomena.  Check out this ghostly looking image, courtesy of Harald Edens:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

8 Classic Tales of Horror

Looking to add some intellectual savvy to your Halloween celebrations this year?  There are so many  awesome books, fiction and non-fiction, that make excellent spooky reading material for this time of year, but I've chosen to share some of my favorite examples of classical horror literature.  These tales, all written in the 1800s, have withstood the test of time and remain as creepy now as the day they were written.  Many of these are quick reads, either short stories or novellas, and ALL are available FREE in various formats for reading on your computer or ebook device.

If you have a favorite spooky book, perfect for the Halloween season, hop on over to Theresa's Haunted History Facebook and let me know what it is!

1. Turn of the Screw by Henry James--Published in 1898, this is perhaps one of my favorite novels by Henry James, despite its verbosity and complexity.  Don't let the language scare you off; this is truly a frightening tale of a governess trying to protect her young charges from the spirits who intend to do them harm....or is it?  The mystery of what is actually going on, whether it be in real life or in the governess' own mind makes for some creepy reading.

2. The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde--Here's a short story, first appearing in print in 1887 and again in 1891 featuring a family that moves into a quintessential haunted house.  However, as hard as the ghost tries, the family, except for one young girl, chooses to ignore him.

3. Dracula--Published in 1897, this iconic work by Bram Stoker is the go-to guide for the vampire mythos and the creation of horror's most famous ghoul, Count Dracula!

4. Frankenstein--Mary Shelley's 1818 work is another iconic piece in the history of horror.  Written one summer during a challenge with some friends over who could write the scariest story, this tale of a doctor and his monstrous creation has been a Halloween favorite for close to 200 years.

5. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson--The ultimate tale of good vs. evil and the dual nature of every human being...just, pushed to the limits, lol.  Published in 1886, this classic tale will send shivers down your spine.

6. The Picture of Dorian Gray--Another Oscar Wilde favorite, published in 1890.  The Picture of Dorian Gray is a tale of what happens when vanity overrules a person's senses.  This story was apparently quite controversial in Britain when it was first published!

7. The Tell-Tale Heart--First published in 1843, the Tell-Tale Heart is a Poe classic...and you can't have a Halloween-themed literature list without mentioning Edgar Allen Poe!  Murder, insanity, and the incessant beating of that blasted heart come together to terrify you with this gothic thriller.

8. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving--Published in 1820, this short story has withstood the test of time; the tale of Ichabod Crane meeting the Headless Horseman is still as spooky as it was almost 200 years ago.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ghost Boy in Tree

Another "faux-tograph" has been making its rounds on social media this week and last.  The picture in question was published last week in the UK's DailyMail online edition and was allegedly taken sometime this past August by Michelle Mason.  On a family walk near Cannock Chase in Staffordshire, Mason's children, Lee and Sophia took time out to climb a tree, and Mason snapped a photo.  It wasn't until later that the family realized that a third child had made its presence known in the photo.  What is interesting about the photo is that the ghostly Victorian-era child's most notable feature is the dark, black eyes.  For several months now, the area of Cannock Chase has been in the news multiple times concerning sightings of Black Eyed Kids, a type of paranormal being that has only been noted in the past 15 years or so. Mason claims the photo was taken with a normal camera and that she did not alter it in any way.

Unfortunately, there's overwhelming evidence that SOMEONE digitally altered the image, adding in the little boy.  The photo below was found on the Facebook page, Ghost App Ghosts, which archives a variety of smart phone ghost app images. You can clearly see that the little boy on the right hand side of the photo, with his dark eyes and hoop in hand, is an identical match to the young fella seen here in this app's extended preview section.  He's on the bottom row, middle column:

If that isn't enough to convince you of this photo's fraudulent nature, here's a side by side of the images:

Well, I'm convinced...but there are still plenty of people out there who are posting the original, looking for opinions on its authenticity.  As Halloween draws closer, we has paranormal investigators, researchers, and enthusiasts have to stay vigilant because this is the time of year that is ripe for these types of fake images  This is also a time to practice a little tact and community service.  If you come across someone posting this photo, or another obvious fake, don't be afraid to tell them that its not real--just do so in a beneficial way.  Many people who are posting fakes aren't actually making the fakes themselves.  Rather, they are being fooled by family and friends who are altering their images or, they're just simply re-posting from the other sources pictures that they find interesting.

And don't simply yell, "FAKE!" without backing up your argument.  I try to keep postings of some of the more widespread ghost app images on my blog, just so I have a handy link with all the information I need to which I can refer people to.  There are also some excellent Facebook sites solely dedicated to collecting and archiving as many Ghost App images as they can find, as well as other popular sources for digital alterations.  I've already mentioned Ghost App Ghosts, but There's a Ghost App for That is another great resource.  Let's work together and use these horribly frustrating photos as an opportunity to share knowledge and resources and hopefully keep the field of paranormal study moving in the right direction!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Bloody Horseshoe Grave

By Josh Guisinger
A couple of days ago, I posted about a really bizarre urban legend concerning a Kentucky cemetery and the road that runs past it.  Much like the Hell-Hound of Baker Hollow Road, the tale surrounding Ohio's Bloody Horseshoe Grave is also a convoluted tale that really is best just being taken at face value-- as a fun, spooky story, perfect for the Halloween season!

Outside of Somerset, in Perry County Ohio, sits the small Otterbein United Method Church and its adjoining graveyard.  Full of historic tombstones, many dating back to a time before the Civil War, the church has done an excellent job in keeping the old burial ground clean and kept up.  But, that hasn't stopped hordes of legend trippers, collectors of the macabre, and vandals from visiting Otterbein's most famous grave---The Bloody Horseshoe Grave.

The grave belongs to a young woman by the name of Mary Catherine Angle Henry, wife of local farmer, James K. Henry.  In the winter of 1843-1844, James Kennedy Henry was thirty years old, and looking to settle down into married life.  Unfortunately, he was having a terrible time choosing between two local beauties--Mary Angle and Rachael Hodge.  One night, after heading back home after allegedly courting with BOTH women, James fell asleep astride his favorite horse, Bob.  When he awoke, he found that Bob had not taken him back home, but rather, had returned to the home of Mary Angle.  Taking it as a sign, James wasted no time in asking Mary to be his wife.  The two were wed on January 11, 1844 with Rachael serving as a bridesmaid.

Mary loved to hook up the carriage to Bob and tour the beautiful countryside with her new husband.  However, marriage bliss would not last long for the couple.  Mary became pregnant with a son, but unfortunately died from complications on February 28, 1845.  The baby was stillborn.  James buried them in the Otterbein Church graveyard, and faithfully visited nearly everyday.

However, James was still a young man and nature would finally take its course when he and Rachael began a more intimate relationship. Puzzled over what to do, once again James fell asleep astride Bob, this time coming home from Mary's grave.  When he awoke, Bob had again failed to bring him home.  Instead, he brought him to Rachael.  Again, Bob's actions were taken as a sign, and James asked Rachael to be his wife.  They were married on December 7, 1848.  The service was held at Mary's grave site.

And that's when things started getting ugly.  Apparently Mary wasn't too thrilled with being forced to be the bridesmaid at the wedding of her own husband.  The following day (or a week later by some accounts), the caretaker of the graveyard ran to the Henry household and told the couple they needed to get to Mary's grave immediately.  What they found was a blood-red outline of a horseshoe on the back of the grave!  The appearance of the strange marking was accompanied by mournful wailing and a ball of light that blazed over the tombstone that night.

Puzzled, and most likely pretty darn scared, James and Rachael tried to get their life back to normal.  Early the next morning, James arose to take care of morning chores out in the barn.  However, when he failed to return to the house, Rachael got worried.  When she went out to see where he was, she found him in the barn, lying dead with a bloody outline of a horseshoe on his forehead.  Bob had become spooked by something and kicked James in the head, killing him, leaving a mark on him identical to the one on Mary's tomb?  Was it all just another coincidence...or did Mary's spirit have something to do with James' tragic death?  We may never know, but visitors to the cemetery today can still see the red horseshoe on the back of Mary's stone and some still say they can hear her mournful wails and the clomp of horse hooves nearby.

*In an alternative version of this story, James and Mary received two horses as wedding presents--one from her parents, and one from his.  After her death, it was considered socially appropriate and expected that the horse be given back to her parents, who were struggling to make ends meet.  While the issue was never brought up in polite conversation, it was said that there were a lot of bad feelings, especially after James remarried and still refused to turn over the wedding present from his first marriage.*


Forgotten Ohio

Haunted Hocking


Friday, October 17, 2014

Family Friendly Halloween Movies

I absolutely LOVE Halloween and am so blessed that my five year old son also shares in my passion for the holiday and everything spooky about it--including the movies!  This is a really fun age for him, because he's still young enough to really enjoy his favorite cartoon characters and their crazy Halloween hijinks...but he's also getting to the age where he can really watch and understand some spookier tales.  In no particular order, here's a list of 11 of our favorite Halloween movies to watch together as a family!  Some are more suited for little kids, while many of them are really meant for a slightly older audience.  Almost all can be appreciated, at least in part, by the grown-ups!

1. Paranorman (2012)-- A young boy has the ability to see dead people.  It's kinda like The Sixth Sense in CGI, but with more of a purpose.  I really like this movie.  It's a cute kid's movie, but there are some rather adult innuendos thrown in for the parents, which hopefully, will go right over the heads of most children.  Oh, and there are zombies...lots and lots of zombies.  If you have a Netflix account, you can watch this one on there.

2. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow/Disney version (1949)--This is an annual tradition for us, and we even named one of our kitty cats Ichabod after Mr. Crane and his thin frame and voracious appetite.  The atmosphere is delightfully spooky and there's just something about vintage Disney that puts me in the Halloween spirit.  It's a wonderful adaptation of the Headless Horseman tale with wonderful music thrown in.

3. Hocus Pocus (1993)--One of THE best Halloween movies ever made, in my opinion.  Its exciting, its spooky, and the kids win!  It also has one of the best adaptations of 'I Put a Spell on You' that I've heard.  Since 1993, this tale of the Sanderson Sisters of Salem, who are resurrected on Halloween night by an unwitting virgin has captured the hearts of cult movie lovers, lol.

4. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!  (1966)--Another timeless classic that is at the top of every family's Halloween season viewing!  Linus awaiting the Great Pumpkin in the pumpkin patch, Lucy's terrifying witch mask, and poor Charlie Brown's candy bag full of rocks will never get old.

5. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)--Dark and spooky and quintessentially Halloween. There's really not much more I can say about this one.

6. The Worst Witch (1986)--Mildred Hubble is a witch; possibly the WORST witch!  This classic 80s coming of age tale with a twist covers all the cliche themes of being yourself, doing your best, and the value of friendship...but with witches!  For the parents, especially the mommies, Tim Curry makes a spectacular appearance as the Grand Wizard, and wows students and teachers alike with his funky dance moves, catchy Halloween song, and high tech 80s special effects.  This one is available to watch for free on Youtube.

7. The Witches (1990)--Based off the Roald Dahl book, this film has one of the creepiest moments in cinematic history as the head witch peels off her face mask to reveal her true form.

8. Curious George: A Halloween Boo Fest--I absolutely love Curious George and this one-hour long Halloween special is really cute and cleverly done.  It's a spin-off of the cherished Headless Horseman tale, but its done is a very non-scary, yet mysterious way.  Little kids will love the twist at the end, and even those a little older will appreciate some of the jokes.  This one is available on Netflix if you miss it on PBS.

9. Ghost Busters (1984)--This is probably Luke's favorite movie out of all these mentioned.  I'm not sure what it is about a group of guys running after some actually pretty scary ghosts, but he'll watch it over and over again and sing "Who Ya Gonna Call?"  until you physically make him stop!  The part where the evil dog-thing attacks Rick Moranis' character is a little intense for him, but the rest of the movie doesn't faze him a bit...and its one of my favorites, too.

10. Halloween is Grinch Night (1977)--Until this year, I had no idea this movie even existed, but found it in its entirety to watch FREE on Youtube.  Obviously, nothing can replace the Grinch's timeless Christmas tale, but this Halloween prequel had its moments and plenty of catchy lil' tunes.  At a little over 25 minutes long, this is a perfect pre-bedtime quickie. 

11. Winnie the Pooh's Halloween Stories--I actually found this one while posting the Youtube link to Halloween is Grinch Night and had to post it!  It's your classic Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends from the Hundred-Acre Wood telling spooky stories.  At one hour long, this collection of tales is great for movie night with even the youngest of family members.

There are tons of awesome family-friendly Halloween movies and specials out there.  If you or your family has a favorite that you didn't see mentioned here, head over to Theresa's Haunted History Facebook page and let me know about it!  Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Hell Hound of Baker Hollow Road Cemetery

Baker Hollow Church, Source
It's getting closer and closer to my favorite holiday...HALLOWEEN!  To help celebrate the more fun, light-hearted side of Halloween spookiness, today's blog post is nothing but pure, unadulterated urban legend.  For the investigation and research process, we try to uncover the truth about haunted locations, supported with as much historical documentation as possible.  However, in the spirit of the season, sometimes its just as important to enjoy a good story for what its worth.  With that caveat, I bring you the tale of Baker Hollow Road Cemetery.

Baker Hollow Road Cemetery is located in Marion, Kentucky and there are so many aspects to this legend, that there's no way I could cover them all.  But before we get to all that, I can't resist throwing in a LITTLE bit of history!

The Baker Hollow Road Cemetery is actually two separate and distinct cemeteries known collectively as the Baker-Phillips Cemetery.  Baker Cemetery is the burial ground associated with the Baker Church, and can be found to the side of the building.  Phillips Cemetery is located towards the front of the church.  When the new road came through this area, it split the farm property of Edgar Ovel Phillips in two, leaving one section on the other side of the road in front of the church.  When a cousin's son passed away in 1949, Phillips gave permission for the boy, Major Samuel, to be buried on that strip of land for free.  As more and more family members passed away, they were also buried on that plot of land.  It wouldn't be until 2008, however, that an arch would be erected denoting the fact that this was a separate cemetery from Baker. (Info from Debbie Phillips Roberts)

Courtesy, Find-a-Grave
Find-a-Grave, however, still has the both sections listed under the Baker name, and contributor, Jean, posted the photo of Major Samuel's grave.  The boy died of non-infectious encephalitis just shy of his 10th birthday.  He was the son of James and Marie Samuel.  The reason why its important to note who Major Samuel was is because his burial may or may not have a direct affect on at least one of the cemetery legends!  It is a belief, especially in the southern United States, that the first person to be buried in a new cemetery is destined to become the cemetery's guardian, protecting the grounds and manifesting in a variety of ways, the shape of a black dog.

But, in order to experience the black dog, one must first FIND the cemetery in question, which is located off Baker Church Road.  Coming from Marion, the church and one section of cemetery will be on your left.  Pass the church until you come to the fork in the road and turn around at the fork.  Those who have experienced the Baker Hollow Road legend report that midnight is the best time to go and under the cover of this darkness, the section of cemetery in question will not be visible until one turns around at the fork.  But, as the cemetery suddenly pops into view, its not unusual to experience feelings of extreme sadness to the point of even crying.  Now is the time to keep your eyes open for the Hell Hound.

The rather large dog is described as being as black as night with glowing yellow eyes.  It may appear as limping, or otherwise injured, but DO NOT get out of the car and attempt to pick it up!  If you speed up the car in attempt to get away from this dog, it will keep time with your car, always watching you with its yellow eyes.  If you manage to follow it back to the triangle section of the fork in the road, watch its shadow---legend says that the shadow will turn into a large, demonic beast, before it and the dog disappear from view altogether.

Image by Abellia
As creepy as that sounds, encounters with the Hell Hound, or cemetery guardian, are tame in comparison to what others have experienced.  Just on the road alone, people have heard laughing, screaming, crying, and the voices of deceased loved ones calling out to them.  Strange weather phenomena, such as very centralized rains have been noted, as have thick pockets of fog and mist that appear and disappear out of thin air.  Along the sides of the roads, the spectral bodies of men, hanged years ago for crimes lost to history, can be seen swaying from the trees, and broken down cars will be parked, filled with the tormented screams of those crying for help.

If seeing and hearing all this still hasn't scared you off, feel free to drive into the cemetery itself---just be prepared to stay for awhile.  Those who have dared enter the sacred grounds after dark have found that their vehicles will mysteriously shut off and refuse to start back up.  Even if you wait it out until morning or gather the courage to get out and push the car out through the gates, your encounter has not yet ended.  Visitors often report being plagued by horrible nightmares and nocturnal visits by unclean spirits.

Obviously there is a lot of "information" out there on this location, and it seems like everyone has their own story to tell about what they or a friend of a friend experienced!  Strange USA has a wonderful collection of these experiences, but if you've had your own...I want to hear about it!

More photos and directions

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Ebola Zombie Debunked

*Unfortunately, as I was preparing for this article, news broke that Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to be diagnosed with ebola in the United States, has passed away at a Dallas hospital.  Please keep him and his family in your thoughts today.*

It all started with an article from the All Africa website, dated 24 September 2014.  The article discussed that two Liberian women, Dorris Quoi and Ma Kebeh in their 40s and 60s respectively, had been declared deceased, succumbing to the horrible disease ebola.  However, before their bodies were buried, the two women were said to have resurrected.

While the article doesn't flat out say that this story obviously isn't a sign of the coming zombie apocalypse, it is important to note that this area is a very small, very superstitious area.  More importantly...ebola is such a scare right now and with a shortage of doctors and medical supplies and people being turned away at hospitals, its very possible that these women do exist...and were actually declared or thought to be dead 'dead,' but really weren't.

It wasn't until later that a third case of an ebola victim coming back to life hit the media, which apparently was actually the FIRST.  Apparently ABC News, while filming a segment with Dr. Richard Besser for Good Morning America caught footage of a man in a body bag, ready for burial begin moving his arms.  This footage fueled the idea that maybe there was actually something to all the very least, it supported the idea that people who were thought to be dead might not actually BE dead to begin with.

And then, the infamous photo showing one of the living Liberian zombies (see above) went super viral (pardon the pun) after being posted on a satirical news site. The dead probably aren't coming back to life---more likely, they were never dead to begin with, but we do know for sure that the photo released of the victim is nothing but a hoax.  Two images were combined to create the "zombie":

1. A still shot from the movie World War Z, featuring Sarah Amankwah, who played a zombie employee at the W.H.O. lab.

2. This really awesome mask created by sculptor  Jordu Schell