Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Jenny Haniver

Awhile back this particular photograph made its mandatory rounds throughout Facebook and the rest of the internet...especially on paranormal websites.  What was this strange bi-pedal creature?  Was it an alien?  How about a demon or an angel?  Theories abounded, most taking on a very extra-terrestrial theory as to what the little human-like monster could truly be.  And then, the voices of reason stepped in, lol.  It was quickly shown that the little creature was nothing more than a member of the ray or a skate family.  So, not an alien; just a marine fish cut and sculpted into a thing of nightmares.

Obviously, I had watched all this unfold, but honestly, wasn't really interested until just recently.  I was watching my favorite show on Netflix right now, Oddities, which chronicles the adventures of a very unique antique store in New York known as Obscura.  Taxidermied animal anomalies are a specialty for the shop and every once in awhile the shop discusses what is called a gaffe...the fake taxidermy specimens such as the Fiji mermaids and...the Jenny Haniver!

I was quite excited to see that the stupid little fake thing that caused such a stir online awhile back actually had a name as well as an interesting and LONG history.

Jenny Hanivers, also known as Devil Fish, originated as early as the mid-1500s as a way for British sailors in Belgium to make a little extra cash.  Taking the carcass of a ray or skate, the sailor would cut, dry and varnish the finished product to sell as oddities and souvenirs.  The name Jenny Haniver is believed to have come from a loose pronunciation of the French phrase, jeune d'Anvers, which translates to "young person of Antwerp."

And even though the photo above managed to fool more than a few modern people, it doesn't seem like too many people were fooled at the time....or were they?

As early as 1558, there was a warning to the people that these were not a new species.  Konrad Gesner's Historia Animalium, volume IV clearly states that the Jenny Haniver is a disfigured ray and NOT a dragon, as many believed!  And...in a twist of fate that so often comes with this line of work, a friend posted the image below as I was planning out a post on the Jenny Haniver...

Salvador Dali with a Jenny Haniver.  You're welcome!

*Theresa's Note*  If anyone wants to buy me a Christmas present, apparently these things are still being sold in some places!  I would LOVE my very own little Jenny Haniver under the tree this year!

Book Review for Kentucky Spirits Undistilled

Title: Kentucky Spirits Undistilled
Author: Lisa Westmoreland-Doherty
Published: 2009 by Schiffer Publishing
Amazon Order Information

I purchased Kentucky Spirits Undistilled because I was in need of some inspiration; my Haunted Kentucky page has always been lacking WAY behind West Virginia's and even Ohio's...and I needed some ideas on wonderful Bluegrass haunts to further research and feature.  This book offered me just what I was looking for, and was a really fun read in the process!

Kentucky Spirits Undistilled isn't a long book, but its packed full with over a dozen haunted locations.  The author provides a wonderful mix of historic background information, current descriptions of the location and its alleged paranormal activity, and of course, her own adventures while visiting.  Where applicable, she's added photographs of her adventures, many of which allegedly contain proof of paranormal activity.

Many of the locations are from around Louisville, where the author lives, and I honestly had no idea that Louisville had so many interesting places...from graveyards to restaurants to everything in between, there's a ton of different places, many of which are open to the public to visit.  I was impressed by the fact that I had only previously been aware of 2-3 of the locations, making this a wonderful resource for new fodder on the Haunted Kentucky page...in fact, you might have already seen at least one places already featured!

Overall, this book was well-written and very entertaining!  The author states at the beginning that she's skeptical, and that she's approaching the book from a journalistic standpoint...not one of a paranormal investigator.  Despite this caveat, there are plenty of photos in the book that claim to show paranormal activity that a more die-hard investigator would quickly dismiss...and the author does relate more than a couple of tales of being quite frightened during her adventures by something she apparently doesn't believe in.  However, by the conclusion, she does admit that her mind might have changed, but just keep in mind that those in the field who are a little more based in science might not be impressed with the "evidence" of ghosts presented.  It's still a great book, and a wonderful addition to the local folklore collection!  I can't wait to track down a copy of her haunted Lexington book!

*Looking for MORE Book Reviews from Theresa's Haunted History?*

Monday, October 28, 2013

My Halloween Cat

Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted a black cat.  Since we're a dog family, and NOT a cat family, I thought that dream was never going to come true.  When I was 17, a stray cat DID show up at our house, who quickly became part of the family...but he was a tabby.  Years later when we were on the search for a pet cat for my son, Luke, I told him that people didn't pick cats; cats picked their OWN owners and that when the time was right, God would make sure he got the kitty that was meant for him.  The kitty that came into our lives was a white and orange flame-tail we named Snowball.

Aaron and Ichabod
I resigned the fact that even though I always wanted a black cat, I had to listen to my own advice...that cats pick their own owners and it must not have been in God's plan for me to have my little black kitty.  I owe an apology to someone up there because a few weeks ago, a little black kitty came into our lives!  When a friend and fellow HPIR member, Kelly, put a message up asking if anyone to take the emaciated little ball of feisty black fluff she had found at a client's home, I knew that I had to give this kitty a good home.  Mom, Luke, and I (after calling a very reluctant Aaron) got in the car and went to go pick up our new baby.

The little kitty was so thin that you could see and feel every one of her bones.  We took her directly to our vet, and luckily my mom drove because even though we had the cat carrier, I held the tiny cat all the way back to Hurricane.  She was literally so thin that I was afraid she wasn't going to make it, and if she DID'NT make it, I wanted her last moments to be ones filled with love and comfort.  She laid against my chest and slept the entire way.  I decided early on that the little cat would be named Ichabod, after Ichabod Crane.  I know that new television show just recently came out, but OUR Ichabod is actually named after the Disney character.  Each year at the start of the Halloween season, Luke, Aaron and I watch the animated movie, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which contains a loooong description of how thin Ichabod Crane was.  Unfortunately, we found out from the vet that Ichabod was a female.  Still, the name was so fitting that we kept it, and call her Icky for short.

Aside from finding out from the vet that Ichabod was a girl, we found out that she was severely emaciated and basically had no muscle mass.  She was so weak that they wouldn't even give her the required vaccinations.  We made an appointment to come back in 10 days with orders to provide plenty of kitten chow and even more TLC.  Ten days came and went, and Icky gained over 2lbs.  She was now healthy enough to start the vaccination process.  She had also grown quite comfortable in her new home and even with her new cat brother, Snow.

With doctors' appointments and everything else, she's kept me even busier, but I can't imagine our home would be complete without her.  She's my little Halloween gift--I finally got my black cat, and right before Halloween!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Movie Review: Insidious, Chapter 2

Last week, Aaron took me to see Insidious: Chapter 2.  I had been waiting patiently for WEEKS for this one, and we caught the last week of showing at my local theater.  Oh.My.Goodness.  This was seriously one of the best movies I've seen in a long time!  I am proud to offer this quick review as part of my annual October Horror Movie Challenge!

In Chapter 2, we pick up where the first movies leaves off.  The Lambert family is recovering from their ordeal, and while police sort out just what happened to psychic researcher, Elise, they move in with the grandmother.  And, as heavily implied in the first movie, we quickly find out that things aren't necessarily back to normal!  Throughout the course of the film, things get weirder and weirder and the lovable ghost hunters from the first movie are joined with a new ally (and an old one) to help the grandmother fight the evil force that has returned.

I love the fact that this film explores what happened to Josh as a child and develops a back story to explain the evil that has plagued him since he was a young boy.  It's a cleverly done story and is pretty darn creepy.  What this movie lacks in the jump scares that made the first one such a hit, it makes up for it with a satisfying and in my opinion, rather intelligent, plot.  It feels like a good, classic ghost story...my favorite kind of movie!

The ending of the movie is rather open-ended and according to sources, there are plans already for a follow-up!  It'll be interesting to see just what direction the movie goes in; it seems like the Lambert family has finally put an end to the ordeal...or have they?  And what about our little red, Tiptoe-through-the Tulips, friend?  Chapter 2 definitely has the feeling that it could have gone in several different directions and hopefully some of the other aspects touched upon in Chapter 1 will be developed later on.

I definitely recommend watching this one if you get a chance, but its highly recommended that you watch the first movie beforehand.  You won't be totally lost if you don't watch the first one, but it certainly adds to a greater understanding and thus, a greater enjoyment...and there's one scene in particular that explicitly goes back to the first movie and explains what REALLY happened.  So yeah...this one is a strong, two thumbs up from me!

Book Review for Booger Hole

Title:  Booger Hole: Mysteries, Ghost Tales, and Strange Occurrences
Author: Mary Lucinda Curry
Illustrated by: Elaine Douglas and Joe Holley
Published: 1990 by Frog Pond Printery
Book Photo: by Susanna Holstein who also reviewed this wonderful book on her wonderful  Granny Sue blog!

My favorite used book store is closing at the end of the month and in order to support a local business (and get some HELLUVA good deals in the process) I've been visiting about once a week to browse through leftover stock.  They must be pulling stuff out of the deepest recesses of storage because I've stumbled across some wonderful little gems that probably would be overlooked by most people.

One of those little gems is the book, Booger Hole, by Mary Lucinda Curry.  First printed in 1990, I wound up with the 1998 fourth printing edition that I found by complete accident.  I was reaching up on a high shelf to look at another book and realized that there was a teeny, slim volume stuck underneath it, invisible to the naked eye.  I grabbed it out of curiosity and was pleasantly surprised.  It was a book of West Virginia ghost stories!

Well...its kind of a book about West Virginia ghost stories.  The book is actually a very short primer on the rough history of an area of Clay County called Booger Hole.  Since the Civil War, Booger Hole, located off a section of Rush Run Hollow known as Richardson's Run, has had a seedy reputation.  It has been known as a place of thieves, murders, and spooky, supernatural experiences!

The author discusses the possible roots of this reputation and follows up with several tales of theft and murder connected to Booger Hole...some murders which to this day are classified as unresolved.  The second part of the book is a collection of ghostly and supernatural legends, passed down orally from various contributors including a gentleman who has lived in the area since the 1930s.  This is really a fascinating read.  It's well written, especially for a low-distribution publication, and the author cites plenty of primary historical documentation to back up the tales that have been passed down through the generations.  My absolute favorite tale in the book is a personal experience told by Wilson Douglas concerning what we would now call a vardoger experience!

Unfortunately, the somewhat cursed reputation of Booger Hole has continued on into modern day.  Just this past summer a group of local teenagers piled into a pickup truck with the intent of visiting Booger Hole's Chimneys.  The Chimneys is the name given to a group of chimneys of course...the only remaining remnants of long-ago burned down houses. According to the book, these are probably what is left over after local citizens, fed up with the reputation of murders in the area and fueled by the court case of Howard Sampson, set fire to homes and ran many of the Booger Hole residents out in 1917. Local legend says the chimneys house the ghosts of former residents and screams have been heard emanating from the old structures.  Around dawn, the pickup truck full of teens rolled over, killing one young girl and injuring 10 other kids.

That tragic incident aside, Booger Hole is a short book, but its jammed with a wonderful array of local history and legend.  This book is a must-have for any collection of WV folklore, history, or ghost tales library so obviously it fits right in on my shelf!  Unfortunately, a copy might be a little hard to obtain.  My copy has a publishing date of 1998 on it, so I'm not sure if the address is still valid or not, but below I'll add the contact information if anyone's interested.

Cindy Curry
Rt. 2, Box 82
Duck, WV 25063

Ghostly Encounters Tour 2013

Hunter's Moon by Nightskyinfo.com
This weekend kicks off the second weekend of Huntington Paranormal's Haunted and Historic Guyandotte Tours!  In this installment of our 2013 tour season, we're bringing back our popular Ghostly Encounters Walking Tour of downtown Guyandotte!

The Ghostly Encounters tour will take visitors on a guided walking tour through Huntington's oldest, and some say most HAUNTED, neighborhood!  At a little under 2 hours and a little over a mile in distance, your Ghostly Encounters tour will take you to about a dozen of Guyandotte's most haunted locations.  History combines with legend to provide a unique experience that is sure to leave even the most skeptical shaking their heads!  Every year we change things up a tad, and every year multiple visitors report having their own paranormal experiences!  Cameras are highly encouraged as a way to document YOUR experiences!

As always, this tour is being offered to the public for FREE, and is led by knowledgeable guides eager to make your tour experience one you'll never forget.  Tours leave from the Guyandotte Branch Library on Richmond Street and early ticket distribution begins at 6 pm.  This year, the library is holding a special movie night in conjunction with our tours!  Arrive at 5 pm for a FREE horror movie and popcorn while you wait for your tour to start.  Bring your camera and flashlight, and be sure to wear comfy shoes and join us this Friday and Saturday, October 18th and 19th for Ghostly Encounters!

An interesting side note:  Friday's tour falls on the 2013 Full Hunter's Moon!  The Hunter's Moon is the full moon immediately following the Harvest Moon, which is the full moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox.  Sometimes referred to as the Dying Grass Moon or the Travel Moon, the Hunter's Moon signified the start of the time when hunters began stocking up on meat for the upcoming winter.  It is believed to have gotten its name from Native American origins, but the first mention of it comes from a 1710 edition of British Apollo, which states that its the name the country folk used to describe the October full moon.  Some believe that a full moon can actually increase paranormal activity, but either way, it'll be a hauntingly beautiful and somewhat spooky experience as we tour the town under the light of the full moon!

I'd also like to take a moment to thank all of our volunteers and all of our guests!  HPIR has been offering these free ghost tours since our inception at the 2008 Guyandotte Civil War Days.  We truly enjoy offering this service to our community and have gotten wildly positive feedback.  We often say that the best way to teach history is through a good ghost story and I've personally seen this in action year after year as some of our regulars can quote, nearly verbatim, Guyandotte's early history up through the Civil War!  We hope you continue to enjoy our tours as much as we love giving them.  Hope to see ya out this weekend, and please see our website for full details on the Ghostly Encounters Tour, and the rest of our season's schedule!

Upcoming Tour Dates:

October 18th and 19th-Ghostly Encounters Walking Tour
October 26th-Guided Ghost Hunt
November 1st and 2nd-Civil War Haunted History Tour

Strange Photo Taken from a Previous Tour

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

National Face Your Fears Day!

Thing, the Chirophobic's worst nightmare
Today is October 8, 2013 and that means its National Face Your Fears Day!  With Halloween is just a few short weeks away, this is a time of year when most of us WANT to be scared! Horror films, ghost stories, and haunted house attractions are some of the ways we can safely face our fears this time of year and have a lot of fun at the same time...but to some people, its not that easy!  Fear of everyday objects can be debilitating...and unfortunately, kinda hilarious for the rest of us!

So, in order to celebrate this unique and somewhat spooky holiday, I thought it would be fun to make an alphabetical list of some of the more interesting fears and phobias.  I've also thrown in a few Halloween-themed phobias just for fun!  These have all come from The Phobia List, which offers an excellent index and information on a variety of phobias.

Automatonophobia- Fear of ventriloquist's dummies, animatronic creatures, wax statues - anything that falsely represents a sentient being.

Barophobia- Fear of gravity.

Chirophobia- Fear of hands.

Dextrophobia- Fear of objects at the right side of the body.

Eisoptrophobia- Fear of mirrors or of seeing oneself in a mirror.

Francophobia- Fear of France or French culture.

Genuphobia- Fear of knees.

Homichlophobia- Fear of fog.

Ichthyophobia- Fear of fish.

Japanophobia- Fear of Japanese.

Kathisophobia- Fear of sitting down.

Linonophobia- Fear of string.

Mycophobia- Fear or aversion to mushrooms.

Novercaphobia- Fear of your step-mother.

Omphalophobia- Fear of belly buttons.

Peladophobia- Fear of bald people.


Ranidaphobia- Fear of frogs.

Samhainophobia: Fear of Halloween.

Triskaidekaphobia- Fear of the number 13.

Uranophobia or Ouranophobia- Fear of heaven.

Vestiphobia- Fear of clothing.

Wiccaphobia: Fear of witches and witchcraft.

Xanthophobia- Fear of the color yellow or the word yellow.


Zemmiphobia- Fear of the great mole rat.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Ghost of Emma Crawford-Colorado

Emma Crawford
Around 1889, Emma Crawford moved from Boston to Manitou Springs, Colorado with her mother and sister, Alice.  Emma, who had been diagnosed with TB when she was just seven years old, hoped that the fresh mountain air and healing spring waters would be enough to "cure" her disease...or at least let her live a fairly normal life and pursue her musical career.  The family set up house on Ruxton Avenue, and as Spiritualists, were even known to conduct a few seances at the residence.

For awhile, the treatment, popular for many East Coasters, seemed to be working, and Emma's condition improved.  It was during this period of hope that Emma's close friend and suitor, Wilhelm (William) Hildebrand, asked for Emma's hand in marriage.  As the story goes, Emma actually met Wilhelm while living in Boston.  He became smitten with her and moved to the area to work for a local railroad company...and to presumably be with his young love.  Emma was hesitant, but accepted his proposal on the condition that if the tuberculosis were to take her life, he'd make sure she was buried on nearby Red Mountain.

Emma had developed almost an obsession with Red Mountain.  It is said that during her times of sickness, she'd lie in her bed and look out her window at the peak of Red Mountain in the distance.  Emma became convinced that the spirit of an Indian, Red Chief, roamed the mountain.  This obsession would ultimately lead to Emma's demise.

In December of 1891, just weeks before she was to be married, nineteen year old Emma took her good health as a sign to hike up to the top of Red Mountain.  She made it to the top, where she claims that the spirit of Red Chief appeared before her beside a pinion tree. She tied her handkerchief to this tree, then hurried back down to tell everyone of her wonderful adventure.  Unfortunately, the over-exertion was just too taxing on her health and she lapsed into a near-delirium before finally succumbing peacefully in her mother's arms.

Wilhelm kept his word and gathered a team of a dozen men to help him bring Emma up the mountain.  It was a difficult undertaking but finally Emma was at peace where she wanted to spend her eternity...but she wouldn't stay that way for long.

In 1912, her grave was moved to make room for a railroad project.  She actually became somewhat of a tourist destination, as passengers would pay $1 for a thrill ride trip that included an 80% downward incline and a chance to see Emma's ghost.  Even after just a short decade following her death, Emma's grave was being visited by other Spiritualists who hoped to contact her spirit and the others said to roam Red Mountain.  However, due to safety concerns, the railroad project was shut down in 1927 and Emma's grave was largely neglected.

Two years later, the heavy rains of late summer washed Emma's casket and remains down the mountain and into the canyon below, where her skull and pieces of coffin were discovered by two young boys.  After sitting in storage while the family was attempted to be contacted, Emma would eventually be buried in what is now Crystal Valley Cemetery.  Her remains were never claimed by family; instead, Bill Crosby who took piano lessons from Emma as a child and whose grandfather was one of her pallbearers, claimed her body.  Her grave was unmarked until 2004 when a memorial stone was erected in her honor.

Today, people claim that the apparition of a dark haired beauty wearing a ragged wedding dress is seen roaming the area of Red Mountain, never to rest until she is returned to her original resting spot.  As a way to memorialize Emma and to appease her spirit, the town of Manitou Springs celebrates in a very unique way.  Since 1994, the town has hosted annual Halloween coffin races!  Participants dress up as Emma and create unique coffin vehicles, which they then race, reminiscent of the "ride" Emma and her coffin took down the mountain.  In more recent years, a period-correct wake and funeral are also held for Emma in the historic Miramont Castle.

*2018's Coffin Races will be held on Saturday, October 27th!  This event has been featured on the Travel Cemetery and many other media outlets and is celebrating its 24th season this year with a parade, the races, and much more!  Check out the race's FB page for more info*

More info on the story of Emma can be found in the book Haunted Manitou Springs, by Stephanie Waters

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

FaceBook's Most Famous Ghost Girl

With the start of Halloween season, EVERYONE starts getting in a spooky mood, including local media!  This is the time of year when news stations, periodicals, and radio stations start delighting their audiences with spooky local legends, interviews with local paranormal teams...and of course, the sharing of alleged ghost photographs!

One of those photographs has been making its rounds en force on FaceBook lately, complete with captioning.  It seems that a family had been experiencing some weird things, and the family pets seemed quite interested in something unseen.  When a photo was taken, a little ghostly girl was clearly seen outside.

Pretty spooky, right?  I bet the girlfriend in the photo thought the very same thing!  Fortunately for her, however, she has nothing to fear.  The photo, featuring the world's creepiest little girl in a printed dress, was created using a popular smartphone application.  The app is called Ghost Capture by a company that calls itself by the aptly named, but unfortunate moniker of Ghosts Don't Exist.  What I assume happened was that the boyfriend in the story (granted that what little back story we do have has any basis in fact) wanted to scare his girlfriend, and thus played a little prank on her using the app.  She freaked, shared the photo with friends and family, and the more gullible of the lot took it to the next level until it eventually ended up fooling at least one radio station who is sharing the image.

Ghost Capture App Ghosts

Unfortunately, its not JUST everyday people being fooled.  Obviously the media is being fooled by this and similar images, but the saddest aspect is that people who are self-proclaimed paranormal experts and paranormal investigators are sharing this image around FaceBook thinking its real. Comments from others serve to enforce the idea that this little ghost girl is fooling a LOT of people. 

Now, everyone has a right to believe what they want when it comes to the paranormal field and I'm not one to dispute things that I cannot begin to prove or disprove.  However, this photograph is a known fake using an image clearly taken from a well-known phone application.  Belief is one thing, but we as investigators and researchers of the paranormal must walk a line; its possible to be open-minded and tactful, especially when it comes to dealing with the beliefs of others (especially those who are our Facebook fans, lol), but this can be accomplished without the spread of misinformation and mis-education.  Passing photos such as this off as 'real' only hurts the field as a whole, whether done intentionally or not.

The Original Photo, posted by the awesome people over at Ghost App Ghosts

And, going off on sort of a tangent...there is absolutely no excuse for anyone working in the paranormal field to be tricked by this particular image.  Seriously, this little girl should be earning royalties from beyond the grave; out of all the choices this particular app affords, plus those of copycat apps, she is always the most popular. Chances are, you've seen this same image pop up in numerous "true" ghost photos at least half a dozen times.  Look below for a few examples of our favorite little spook I've culled from a quick Google Search...and please see my article on Photo Analysis for some really easy ways to check a photo's authenticity! 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tour Season 2013

Welcome to October!  With the lowering of the temperature and the falling of the leaves comes a very special time for Huntington Paranormal Investigations and Research...TOUR SEASON!

Our Haunted and Historic Guyandotte Tours are entering our 6th season of offering completely FREE, historically accurate, fun and of course, SPOOKY walking tours of Huntington's oldest neighborhood.  This year, we've added a little special treat for ya'll!

We get so many requests to join us on a ghost hunt and unfortunately, that's just not feasible to take everyone who contacts us.  So, we've decided to bring the ghost hunting to YOU!  Our first event of the year will take place this weekend on Friday and Saturday, October 4-5.  Instead of the usual walking tour (those will be held later on) we're offering YOU a public ghost hunt of Huntington's oldest brick residence, The Buffington House.

Please join us this weekend for a hands-on guided ghost hunt of the historic home!  Bring your own equipment or help us use ours to see if we can capture evidence of Guyandotte's earliest and most prominent citizens!  Recent investigators visiting the house have captured a myriad of EVP evidence,  mysterious Ovilus and K-II hits, and even a few personal experiences!

These special tours are FREE.  Please meet us at the Guyandotte Branch library at 6pm for early ticket distribution.  We'll be leading THREE separate hunts, lasting a little under 2 hours each, and visiting one other haunted and historic location in downtown Guyandotte!  (If you miss this weekend's event, another ghost hunt will be held on October 26.)

*Please see our website, GuyandotteGhosts, for more information on THIS event and our upcoming tour schedule!*


(Theresa's Note:  This event is not a part of Guyandotte's Swinefest activities.  HPIR and Haunted and Historic Guyandotte Tours are not affiliated with this organization and will no longer be providing free tours in conjunction with the festival.  If you'd like more insight on this, plenty of articles can be found in the Herald Dispatch and on local news stations' websites.  Unfortunately, due to a scheduling conflict, Swinefest is being held on the date of our first event AND is apparently advertising a haunted cemetery tour.  Please be advised that the cemetery tour being advertised on Swinefest literature/posters/websites is NOT being hosted by HPIR and Haunted and Historic Guyandotte Tours.  )