Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Ghost Dog Painting

Animal lovers the world over cannot help but be touched by this painting which appears to show a forlorn little girl and the ghostly image of her deceased dog, still loyal and comforting even from beyond the grave.

The portrait speaks to man's love and devotion to our canine companions and their loyalty and unconditional love. It's a touching image...almost bittersweet...which reminds us that our furry friends never truly leave us, in spirit or in memory.

So profound is the image, that it is constantly used over and over again to illustrate articles and websites dealing with the subjects of lost pets, grief in dealing with that loss, and even more paranormal topics, such as ghost animals.

It's a beautiful image alright...but not exactly what the original artist had in mind!

The image above is a digital manipulation of a painting by Briton Riviere called Sympathy.  As you can see in the original (to the right), the 'ghost' dog isn't a see-through apparition at all, but a real, living dog.  It was painted in 1877 and according to the artist, the little girl is modeled after his own daughter, Millicent, while the dog, a bull terrier, was owned by a man who often supplied the artist with dogs. The subject is of a little girl who was sent in disgrace to sit on the stairs while her pet dog came up to comfort her.

It wasn't until 2007 or 2008 that someone using the name LissiS uploaded the digitally enhanced 'ghost' dog image to, an image alteration and contest website, and a whole new audience was found for this wonderful painting.

More strange, spooky, and creepy art from Theresa's Haunted History of the Tri-State!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Theresa's Top Links for July 2015

It's been awhile since I've done a link-roundup! Usually I just share anything cool I find on Facebook or Twitter, but there are a few sites that I find myself going back to over and over so much that they deserve a more permanent shout out! This is by far a comprehensive list---just a few that stick out to me that I haven't already linked to in the past.  Skeptical views, haunted places, ghost stories, radio shows, and plenty of articles on all aspects of the paranormal are covered here.  If you want to add any notable links, please let me know in the comments!

1. Supernatural Magazine--An excellent collection of articles on a variety of paranormal topics.  Whatever your paranormal beliefs, you're sure to find something here of interest...and something you'll find educational.  I've posted several individual articles from this site over the past few months and they always seem very well received.

2. Paranormal King Radio Network--This is the home to Paraversal Universe, one of my favorite paranormal radio shows.  Join Jennifer Scelsi and Kevin Malek each Friday evening at 8pm EST for excellent discussion and interviews with some of the top names in paranormal research.  A chat room is also available during the shows to ask questions and interact with the guests and hosts.

3. Mysterious Heartland--Anything and everything to do with haunted locations, ghost stories, urban legends, and beautifully creepy locations throughout the Midwestern United States.  Those tri-state area fans in Ohio might find this website of particular interest.

4. Midnight in the Desert--Art Bell is back with an all-new radio show! Check out the website for information on guests, upcoming shows, and how to listen to the show live, Monday through Friday at 12am EST.

5. Memento Mori (My Macabre Fascination)--This is the blog of paranormal researcher, Anna Hill. Anna Hill is a voice of reason in this field, and I always enjoy her writings.  If you want some serious paranormal commentary by someone who really knows what she's talking about, check out this blog!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Theresa Takes On West Virginia's Most Haunted! (Part One)

I began writing this blog almost a year ago. The original idea was to build off a popular post where I came up with my OWN list of the most haunted locations in the country, state by state. I had high hopes that I could do the same on a state level---take each of West Virginia's 55 counties and narrow down one location per county that would be recognized as being the perfect representative of that county's haunted history.

As you can see, that idea has not come to fruition, lol.  It proved to be just a little too daunting for me.  I might revisit the idea in the future, but for now, I thought I would take on the more manageable task of just picking my TOP 5 FAVORITE HAUNTS in the state. The criteria for this post is a little different---I tried to pick locations whose haunted reputations are well known throughout the Mountain State and beyond. For example, each location listed here has been featured as part of at least one television show.  There are tons of great, underrated haunted locations and ghost stories throughout West Virginia, but I feel these ten are universally recognized.  Please let me know in the comments what YOUR top picks would be!

The West Virginia State Penitentiary at Moundsville is one of MY personal favorites on this list and along with the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, seems to always find its way on those top 10 lists of most haunted places in the country!  Construction on the penitentiary began in 1866 and it continually housed inmates up until 1995. Over the course of its 130 years, the prison saw two major riots, numerous suicides, plenty of violence and murder, and more death from disease than you could ever imagine. With all that dark history, there's no wonder people think this location is haunted!

The most popular ghosts associated with the old prison include the infamous shadow man who has shown up in photographs, a presence in the indoor recreational area known as the Sugar Shack, and the spirits of infamous inmates Red Snyder and R.D. Wall. Ghost and history tours are available, as well as private and public investigation opportunities.

As mentioned above, Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum always seems to find its way onto most haunted lists, and for good reason.  This Kirkbride style mental health hospital traces its roots to before the Civil War! As with many state insane asylums of the 19th century and early 20th century, TALA was plagued with issues of overcrowding, treatments that we would today classify as inhumane, and allegations of abuse, neglect, and all sorts of unsavory behavior. The last patients were removed and relocated to other facilities throughout the state in 1994 and for years, the building sat empty, largely unused.  Today, a variety of ghost, history, and architectural tours are available, as well as public and private ghost hunts and even some fun stuff like concerts, paintball, and drag shows. With all the activities available, people still flock to the old asylum for its haunted history, most notably the spirit of a little girl named 'Lily.' 

No list of famous West Virginia hauntings would be complete with a mention of Lake Shawnee, location in the southern part of the state, near Princeton.  I first became aware of Lake Shawnee when it was featured on Scariest Places on Earth, a television show that featured hauntings and showed everyday people being taken to these places and told about their history. While there is a lot of misinformation and a lot of information that cannot be validated nor denied regarding this location, it still is a spooky place! In recent years, it has been the subject of numerous national articles. 

The small amusement park opened in 1926 on land marred by an Indian massacre and some say its location doomed it to a cursed existence.  Numerous deaths are said to have occurred during the park's operation, including several drownings and a little girl killed when her swing struck a parked delivery vehicle. Today, visitors to the area report that the apparition of a man can be seen in one of the Ferris Wheel seats, and the little girl, wearing a pink dress, can be seen either in full apparitional form, or in the form of a cold spot or orb near or on the swing ride.

Along with the West Virginia State Penitentiary at Moundsville, Dr. Grimes' Dental Office is probably my favorite on this list.  It is located in Huntington and was the subject of a Dead Files episode a few years back.  Over the course of several years and several investigations, I've put a lot of personal research into this location and have a very fond attachment to it.  

The dental office is housed in a former duplex, built shortly after the turn of the last century. It was mostly used as housing for men working for the railroads, but in the 1920s, it was home to a young lady named Lavina and her family.  Lavina's apparition had been spotted numerous times, along with evidence that she might be accompanied by something a little darker. Lavina died under rather mysterious circumstances in the home and it is believed that those circumstances may have been sinister. Luckily, it now seems that Lavina's soul is at rest, yet this location is still one of my top favorite haunts of all time.

Riverview Cemetery

With a list including a prison, an insane asylum and a spooky amusement park, I felt obliged to include a cemetery...and Parkersburg's Riverview Cemetery is definitely an iconic West Virginia haunted burial ground. A staple on Susan Sheppherd's Parkersburg Ghost Tours, Riverview Cemetery is home to several different legends, including sightings of a hunched man wearing a black trench coat. The phantom, which has been spotted in broad daylight AND long after the gates lock for the evening is believed to be Captain George Deming, who once lived near the cemetery.  He is seen standing near his own grave and is believed to be mourning a lost child buried close by.  The most popular legend of the cemetery, though, is undoubtedly the Weeping Woman.  The Weeping Woman is a carved statue standing watch over the Jackson family plot and many believe that she walks the cemetery at night, weeping for lost family members. It is also said that those who come to the Weeping Woman with an unselfish wish will find that wish granted!  Many women who have come and touched the statue have found themselves to be pregnant shortly thereafter!

I know this list is a little light---I originally had intended this to be a Top 10 list, but decided that I'd break it up a little.  So...don't fret!  In the coming months, I'll be posting even more most haunted lists from right here in West Virginia, and probably Ohio and Kentucky as well! And as always, you can always check out my Haunted West Virginia Page for more great Mountain State locations! 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Slit-Mouthed Woman

Today's blog takes us far, far away from the tri-state. The legend of Japan's Kuchisake-onna has fascinated me for years and it has been interesting to see 'new' versions of the legend pop up on different websites! If you ever plan on visiting any Asian country, especially Japan, you might want to pay attention to this blog---it might just save your life.

The Kuchisake-onna is more commonly known as the Slit-Mouthed Woman, so named for her grotesque appearance.  Beginning around 1979 in Nagasaki Prefecture, school children walking home alone would report that a very beautiful woman with long, black hair and wearing a beige trench coat would approach them.  In these days, her mouth was covered by the collar of her coat or a scarf.  She would approach the child and ask him or her if they thought she was beautiful.  If the child said no, the woman would take out a large pair of scissors from underneath her coat and immediately kill the child.  If the child said YES, the woman would remove the covering from her mouth, revealing an horrific gash.

She would then repeat the question, "Am I pretty/beautiful?"  If the child said no, he would be cut in half with the large pair of scissors.  However, if he child said YES, the Slit-Mouth Woman would let him off easily---the scissors would be used only to slash the child's mouth, copying the woman's own injury.

In later years as a fear of germs would lead many Japanese to wear surgical masks out in public on a regular basis, the Slit-Mouth Woman kept her beige trench coat, but upgraded her mouth covering.  Her back story has also changed over the years.  In the original tales, the Kuchisake-onna had been the beautiful, yet unfaithful wife of a samurai.  After discovering that she had cheated on him, the samurai slashed his sword across the woman's face, marring her great beauty so that no one would ever love her again.  With the 2007 release of the film, Carved, a back story developed to explain that the ghost was that of a woman who was hit and killed by a car in the 1970s, an accident that left a disfiguring wound across her face.  She allegedly was a child murderer.

So, if you DO encounter the Slit-Mouth Woman you're doomed right?  Well, not exactly.  For one thing, she only seems to go after school children, so if you're of a more mature age, you're automatically pretty safe.  She only goes after children who are walking ALONE, so if you are a child, make sure you take a buddy with you wherever you go.  But, if you still find yourself a victim of the Slit-Mouth Woman, you'll need to trick her!

Make sure to tell her she's beautiful when she first asks.  Then, when she takes off the mask to reveal her wound, don't answer her with a yes or no.  Instead, when she asks if you find her pretty, tell her you find her average, or so-so.  Better yet, answer her question with a question: ask HER if she thinks YOU'RE pretty!  In her confusion, you'll be able to get away.  If for some reason, you mess up and the scissors come out, grab a handful of candy and throw it at her. She'll be forced to stop and pick it all up, giving you ample time to run away.  I hear she's particularly fond of butterscotch...

More Asian Ghost Stories on Theresa's Haunted History
The Yurei
The Ubume
The Cursed Japanese Kleenex Commercial

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Buyer Beware: The Tragic Death of Ellen Shannon

There's a rather unique tombstone at Girard Cemetery in Erie County, Pennsylvania. It doesn't feature an elaborate shape or carving, nor does its size immediately draw the eye of visitors.  In fact, from afar, it looks pretty unassuming---just a normal tombstone.  It's only when one gets close enough to read the epitaph that one realizes just how special this tombstone really is.

Ellen Shannon was born in Ireland around 1844. As a housewife living in Pennsylvania, she suffered an extremely tragic and quite ironic death at the age of 26. An oil lamp exploded, fatally burning the young woman. While burns sustained from lamp accidents was a pretty common thing during this time period, the family of Ellen Shannon decided to use her tombstone as a way to point out the ironies in this particular case and warn the public that it could happen to them, too! 

A product known as R.E. Danforth's non-explosive burning liquid did just what it was marketed NOT to, and the results were deadly.  In fact, it wasn't the only time Danforth's product claims failed to deliver.  In November of 1872 a twelve year old boy suffered a similar fate trying to light his wood stove. 

In a time before Consumer Reports, the Better Business Bureau, and the internet, one family took it upon themselves to find a unique way to not only warn others of a dangerous product, but to get in a sweet little jab to the company as well. Over 100 years later, this tombstone still exists to tell the tragic and ironic tale of a young Irish girl's death...a death that should never had happened. Buyer Beware. 

In Memory of
 Ellen Shannon
Age 26 Years
Who Was Fatally
Burned Mar. 21 1870
By the Explosion
Of a Lamp Filled
With R.E. Danforth's
Burning Liquid

Monday, July 27, 2015

Ohio's Haunted Hammel House

By some accounts, Waynesville is the most haunted city in Ohio, boasting no less than 36 haunted sites within town limits...and the historic Hammel House bed and breakfast is its most haunting building! Built on the site of a former log tavern known as Jennings House, Hammel House gets its name from one of its rather colorful owners, Enoch Hammel.

Hammel seemed like a rather fine, upstanding citizen to most residents of the town, but a Quaker woman who stayed across the street from Hammel House on a regular basis knew better.  Mrs. Anna O'Neal was known to park a wagon in front of her cabin so that her children wouldn't be able to see the "Bacchanalian revelry and ribald conduct which was hourly enacted." In later years, the inn was owned by Mr. W.O. Gustin who made major improvements, added modern amenities, such as electricity, and turned the place into a fine hotel, which hosted several presidents over the years. However, today, the inn is as much known for its ghostly goings-on as it is its famous guest list!

In an interview, owner Pam Bowman describes the hauntings of Hammel House.  As the stories go, in 1823 a traveling merchant, possibly a jeweler or gold merchant came to Waynesville and stayed the night in Room #4 of Hammel House.  He was never seen from least, not in the flesh.

Since then, visitors have reported that in addition to the apparition of a ghostly cat, the murdered merchant still makes his home at the inn. He is seen as a shadowy form that will manifest in one area of Room #4 and make his way out into the inn and into the dining area.  Some guests sleeping in that particular room and the one next door claim that this shadowy manifestation has even climbed into bed with them! If you're a little uneasy about booking a room with a possible ghost, each October the inn features a special Ghost and Goblet Dinner and Tour where you enjoy a wonderful meal at the inn, followed by a ghost tour of some of those Waynesville hot spots!

Interview with Pam Bowman
Hammel House website

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Pearl Harbor's Ghost Photo

Way back in September of 2011, the internet was abuzz with a new 'ghost' photograph taken at Pearl Harbor's USS Arizona Memorial. The popular image was even picked up by CNN...but what WAS it?

When an Australian family visited Hawaii in 2001, one of their stops was the USS Arizona Memorial. Located in Pearl Harbor, the memorial, which was built in 1962 and sees over 1 million visitors a year, straddles the sunken wreckage of the USS Arizona. The USS Arizona was the victim of the Japanese attack of December 7, 1941...the attack that plunged the United States into World War II. 1177 sailors and marines were killed during that attack, and 1102 of them, for various reasons, claim the wreckage as their final resting place.

Susan De Vanny was with her family visiting the memorial when she snapped a photo of the wreckage that can be seen below the water. It wasn't until she got home, however, that she began looking through her vacation photos and came across this startling image! The combination of the ripples of the water and the sun shining through the leaking oil created a near-perfect image of a young man's face! The face, which many think represents one of the fallen sailors from the attack, is said to appear as if it is crying or even screaming. Susan states, "It just looked sad, really sad and young."

One of the most obvious explanations for the ghostly appearance of the photo is the phenomena of pareidolia.  Pareidolia, also known as matrixing, describes how our brains take random stimuli and patterns and try to make sense out of them.  Our brains are hard-wired to see faces in random objects and while this sounds like as good an explanation as have to admit this is still a pretty striking image!

Info from The Stir