Monday, January 27, 2014

New Mexico's Haunted Children's Hospital

In 1910, Clyde Tingley and his wife, Carrie Wooster Tingley, moved from Ohio to New Mexico.  Carrie had long suffered the ill health of tuberculosis and like many eastern citizens of the time period, sought the dry air and mineral springs of the western states as a cure.  The move was a good one; Carrie's health improved and in 1935, Clyde was elected as the 11th governor of the state of New Mexico!

It was his influence as governor that allowed Clyde to help realize his wife's work of making sure sick children throughout the state had access to the best care possible.  During his tenure as governor, Tingley was instrumental in the creation of a dozen hospitals, many especially for children suffering from TB.  However, one hospital in particular stood out above the rest.

Construction began on the Carrie Tingley Children's Hospital in 1935 in Hot Springs, now Truth and Consequences.  It was funded by President Roosevelt's Work Progress Administration and finally opened on May 29, 1937 as a facility to treat children with polio.

But, as new advancements in medicine drastically reduced the number of polio patients, the hospital began treating children with a wide array of medical disorders, mostly orthopedic, and including but not limited to scoliosis, clubbed feet, cerebral palsy and spina bifida.  It continued to serve children in this location until 1981.  In that year, the facility was moved to Albuquerque and by 1987 it had merged with the University of New Mexico's Medical Center.



Today, the Carrie Tingley Children's hospital is still serving the children, birth to age 21, in New Mexico.  Outpatient services are conducted at 1127 University Blvd.  Across the street, however, is where the inpatient unit stands as part of the Barbara and Bill Richardson Pavilion.

This 24 bed inpatient section of the hospital is where all the paranormal activity is reported!  According to witnesses, the sounds of children crying, voices, and even a heartbeat can be heard in the empty areas.  Unused patient rooms are said to emit an unearthly glow.  Men in dark robes, not unlike the classic Grim Reaper in appearance, have been spotted roaming about.  And...most interesting to me personally is the reports of invisible force fields.  Witnesses to the phenomena have felt an invisible force preventing them from advancing any further.  The field not only stops you in your tracks, but is said to give off the hissing sound of static electricity.

Photos from the UNM Hospital Page                                


The Devil's Baby of Ravenswood

From Find-a-Grave user, FRAGGLEROCK66
It was recently brought to my attention (thanks to an article from WhoForted?) that the Ravenswood Cemetery in Jackson County, WV is home to quite the fascinating combined urban legend and ghost story.  The story is known locally as the Devil's Baby, although not much has been published about it online.

According to the legend, there is a Devil Baby buried in the cemetery and on moonlit nights, visitors have reported hearing the eerie, disembodied cries of an infant as the clock strikes midnight.   These cries are said to be those of George Elwood Sharp, infant son of Louis and Willa Sharp.  George was born on 27 April 1915 and passed away on 21 July 1917, making him a little older than two years of age at the time of death.  A tombstone was erected in his honor on to which was added a ceramic tombstone portrait, a popular choice in funerary art at the time.

It is this tombstone portrait of a slightly younger George that is actually the whole basis of the Devil Baby legend...

The porcelain or ceramic tombstone portrait was patented by two French photographers in 1854 and was a process that was especially popular, and thus perfected, by the Italians throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s.  The portrait is created with a porcelain (or ceramic) tile which is either solid, or applied over a metal base.  It is produced by firing an image over that porcelain tile at a very high temperature for several hours in a kiln.  Ideally, the process is designed to resist fading for at least 100 years.

From Who Forted blogger, Ted Derek Cochran
Unfortunately, that wasn't the case with George's portrait.  Severe weathering has caused an alarming pattern of fading and discoloration.  To some, when the moonlight hits it just right, the baby's image appears to take on the appearance of having horns.  To others, the teeth appear as vampiric fangs.  All take note of the eerie white void of the eyes.

The horns and fangs have led to the legend of the Devil Baby moniker, but there is one more interesting aspect of this tombstone portrait:  it glows!  Although more likely due to the material composition of the portrait than a paranormal explanation, the picture does actually appear to give off a soft glow in the dark and thus, sparking a decades old local legend about an innocent child.

If you decide to check out this legend for yourself, please remain respectful. Please be advised that according to West Virginia laws, it is trespassing to enter a public cemetery after dark without permission.  Also keep in mind that this IS a legend.  Although not much is known about George Sharp and his family, we do know that he was someone's child...a child that was taken too early.

Links of Interest:
Tombstone Portraits
The Devil's Baby (Who Forted?)
Find-a-Grave

Monday, January 13, 2014

Book Review for The Headless Horror: Strange and Ghostly Ohio Tales

Title: The Headless Horror: Strange and Ghostly Ohio Tales
Author: Chris Woodyard
Published: January 2013 by Kestrel Publications
Amazon Information (available in Kindle Format and paperback)

As a paranormal researcher, investigator and blogger sometimes working in Ohio, I absolutely fell in love with the idea of this book. Written by my favorite paranormal Ohio author, Chris Woodyard, The Headless Horror was packed full of vintage newspaper articles from the 1800s and into the early 1900s on a variety of paranormal subjects. Tales of ghosts, hauntings, UFOs, Fortean phenomena, ghostly pranks, and much more came from all corners of the state and were presented in their original format. Where applicable, the author has added additional commentary and research to explain more fully the events discussed.

In my own work, I spend many hours poring over old newspaper articles but I've never been so lucky as to stumble across so many paranormally themed articles as Woodyard has managed. The sheer bulk of original articles combined with the extra research makes this book a great resource for anyone doing any type of paranormal investigation of the Buckeye State.

This is also an interesting book for anyone interested in history, as it provides a firsthand account of so many fun, historical tidbits, such as the methods of grave robbers and the methods to stop them. For some, however, this book might be somewhat of a dry read...the original language of articles written by 19th century journalists isn't always the fluid, straight to the point language that people of this century appreciate. And, due to the nature of the work, its format doesn't have the same easy flow as a narrative; its a little choppy in some places, making it an ideal work to read in chunks.

Overall though, I give this a solid two thumbs up!  It's also come to my attention that this particular title is actually the second in a series featuring these vintage newspaper articles!  Oh, and if you were wondering about the title...the "headless horror" mentioned is in reference to the famous Pearl Bryan decapitation that shocked the Cincinnati area and those who have visited Bobby Mackey's will especially appreciate.

Bonus!

Looking for more information on Pearl Bryan's murder?  Want FREE information on Pearl Bryan's murder?  Here's the link for a FREE Kindle download of the original publication on this horrific story that is so familiar to so many paranormal investigators:


Edited to Add:  Interestingly, I just looked up the Amazon reviews for the Chris Woodyard book, and apparently I was channeling another reviewer!  

Friday, January 10, 2014

Scaring Up "Ghosts" at the Ohio Penitentiary

GHOST SCARE WORKED WELL
GUARDS AT OHIO "PEN" TRY NOVEL FORM OF DISCIPLINE



Columbus, Aug. 11.  The guards of the Ohio Penitentiary have decided on the "ghost scare" as a sure cure for misbehaved colored prisoners and attempted their first experiment with ghosts Saturday night.  The experiment worked to such good purpose that the prisoner experimented upon nearly went into hysterics.

Many of the colored prisoners are habitual criminals and spend most of their time in solitary confinement much to the annoyance of the guards in charge.  One of the guards conceived the idea of giving a "ghost scare."  Throwing a sheet over his head he went into the cellar about 11 o'clock and proceeded towards the cell of one of the men confined.

With a yell that could be heard all over the big prison, the colored prisoner fell to the floor begging for his life and moaning as if he was about to die.  The guard thinking that his man had enough went away, but the prisoner could not be quieted.  He threw himself about and appeared to be in such agony that medical attention had to be called to quiet him.

In a short time the news that ghosts were about the prison was known to all of the prisoners, who had heard the scream of the scared man, and sleep was impossible the rest of the night.

The plan worked so well that the colored population have vowed that they will be good for all time to come and have promised the guards that if they will keep the ghosts away they will have no more trouble on their account.

It is the plan of the guards to try the "scare" as often as the occasion calls for.  If it works again as it did Saturday night the "solitary" will be a deserted place for a long time to come.  Many tricks have been used, but none of them has had the effect of the one lone ghost.

The subject of the experiment is in good condition again, but does not know the ghost he saw was not real.  Much comment on the mysterious ghost is passed, and when the occasion requires the men to go near the cellar they waste no time in getting by the supposed headquarters of the whiteclad spirits.

From:  The Evening Independent [Massillon, OH].  11 August 1909

Above is a REAL newspaper article about the former Ohio Penitentiary in Columbus, Ohio.  The prison opened in 1834 and served the incarcerated of the Buckeye State until 1984.  It was demolished in 1998 after housing decades of famous prisoners, suffering devastating riots, and even surviving through one of the worst prison fires in history.

I picked this particular article to include in the Friday Night Funnies section of this blog because despite it being pretty cruel and unusual punishment, it appears to come off as an absurdly simple joke.  However...I can't help to wonder if there isn't something a LOT more sinister hidden in this little ghost prank.  Obviously it bothers me that only the "colored" population was targeted for this experiment.  And...it doesn't take a genius to make the connection between that little fact and the "sheeted" ghost of the article...

Monday, January 6, 2014

Higher Education for Paranormal Investigators



Massive open online courses (MOOCs) provide a FREE way for paranormal investigators to expand their knowledge on a variety of helpful and interesting topics.  I've hand-picked a few from Coursera.org, my favorite provider, on some very special courses for paranormal enthusiasts!

Every year, my New Year's resolutions include a commitment to further my education in the paranormal field.  This is a field that is always changing and it's a field that incorporates knowledge from many other disciplines.  To really give paranormal research and investigation the respect it deserves, a working knowledge of the sciences, psychology, religion and history (just to name a few) is critical.

I'm always looking for economical (well, cheap, hehe) ways to improve my knowledge and one way to do this is through the emerging popularity of MOOCs...massive open online courses!  If you're not familiar with MOOCs, basically they are college level courses offered FOR FREE online!

Each class is set up a little differently, but generally consists of taped lectures that you watch at your own leisure online and short required readings.  Most classes require quizzes/tests/homework assignments in order to receive a certificate of completion.  All materials are provided online for free and the courses are open to anyone with internet access.

There are so many websites that offer MOOCs, but my favorite I've tried so far as been Coursera.org.  Through Coursera, you can take classes from world renowned colleges and universities and choose from a huge selection!  I personally recommend any science or psychology courses for paranormal investigators, but this month, there's gonna be a few choices that I thought would be of particular interest to the paranormal community!

Modern European Mysticism and Psychological Thought
This is a 7 week course that begins on January 13th.  It will be taught by Jonathan Garb of Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  Please check out the link for a full syllabus and course outline.

Astrobiology and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life
This is a 5 week course beginning January 20th.  It's being taught by Charles Cockell of the University of Edinburgh. The topic will be about the conditions and probability of finding life outside of planet Earth.

Soul Beliefs: Causes and Consequences 
This class also begins January 20th and will run 13 weeks.  It's being hosted by Rutgers University and will discuss how different cultures define "the soul."

If you enroll in any of these courses, or choose something else altogether, please let me know!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Radiant Boys

Welcome to 2014!  For the first blog post of the new year, I wanted to revive the short-lived Paranormal Dictionary with a post about a certain type of ghost story you've probably come across before...Enjoy!

Throughout some parts of the world, most notably Asia, ghosts are classified/labeled according to the circumstances of their death.  One such example of a very death-specific ghost comes from the British Isles...the phenomena of the Radiant Boy ghost.

As the name would imply, the Radiant Boys generally manifest as beautiful, fair-haired boys under the age of 12.  Often described as wearing white nightgowns or nothing at all, these Radiant Boys are said to emit a golden glow about them and if seen, are said to be an omen of ill-luck...and even death.  Why the negative implications of these sightings?  Perhaps its because of how the Radiant Boys are said to have originated.

The concept of the Radiant Boys, while famous in British folklore, probably stems from a class of German ghosts known as the kindermorderinn.  Kindermoderinn are ghosts of children who were murdered by their mothers.  The  Radiant Boys, while little to no actual documentation of such a murder is ever cited in individual cases, are also said to be the products of this type of infanticide. 

Radiant Boy sightings have come from all over parts of England and Ireland, but the most prolific cases come from Cumberland.  Interestingly, Cumberland was settled by the Germanic people in the 9th and 10th centuries, creating a link between the kindermorderinn and the Radiant Boys!  There are a couple of famous stories that get quoted over and over, including an incident from Corbly Castle in 1803.

Corbly Castle, located in Cumberland, was occupied by the Howard family when the incident in question took place in September of 1803.  On September 8th, the rector of Greystoke and his wife were staying the night at the home with several other guests.  Their planned visit was cut short when the rector awoke that night to a terrifying apparition.  Between one and two in the morning the rector awoke to a glimmering light which quickly escalated into a bright flame.  The flame then morphed into the figure of a young boy in white, with a warm golden glow who stared benevolently at the rector before disappearing in the vicinity of the chimney.  No one ever reported seeing the boy again, and the room in which he manifested was later converted into a study affectionately, if not accurately, called The Ghost Room.

While the Corbly tale definitely has some of the criteria of a Radiant Boy sighting, there's one important piece of the puzzle the case is lacking; was this really a death omen or portent of doom?  We're not really sure.  There's no evidence that the rector befell any great tragedy following the sighting, and we know he was alive and well at least 20 years after the event took place!  There are plenty of other stories, some which do reference more malevolent outcomes, such as the sad tale of Captain Robert Stewart, who would later be known as Lord Castlereagh, 2nd Marquis of Londonderry, committing suicide after years of bad luck following his Radiant Boy sighting, but I'll let you research those yourself!

Happy Haunting!