Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Japanese Ubume

Today's blog serves two purposes:

1. I wanted to add a "U" word to my Paranormal Dictionary page.

2. I've been interested for awhile in creating some infographics.  Infographics are a handy way to quickly share information on Facebook, especially since Facebook isn't keen on outside links.  It's also a handy way to present little chunks of information that don't have enough substance to really warrant a whole blog post.

I'm not 100% thrilled with this specific design, but I'm still experimenting with EASY ways to create graphics using the tools I have and also make them unique in a sea of all the others out there already.  Obviously I'll need to tweak the text and perhaps switch up the background depending on the photo(s) I use, but I'm okay with this as a first try that took just a few minutes to put together.  Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Man with Two Faces

Tonight's American Horror Story: Freak Show blog isn't about a sideshow performer, but it is about a human oddity that has gained quite the cult following lately on the internet.  I hope you enjoy the interesting (and, rather frightening) tale of the unfortunate Edward Mordake.

Edward Mordake was from a noble English family.  He was an accomplished musician, a scholar...and a recluse.  That's because Edward, who was otherwise a handsome and healthy young man was plagued with a rare disorder known as Diprosopus.

Diprosopus, also known as craniofacial duplication, is an affliction of the SHH protein.  It results in a duplication of parts of the face (or even the whole face) on a person's head.  It is not a result of a conjoined or parasitic twin as many believe.

Animals who are born with this affliction and survived have become quite a pop sensation.  The most popular are probably Ditto the Pig, who lived well into adulthood, and a cat who, at 12 years old, is the oldest living "Janus" Cat in the world.  Diprosopus cats are known as Janus cats, after the two-faced Roman God.

Unfortunately, humans born with craniofacial duplication rarely survive.  Most are stillborn, and a few live births only live for up to several hours. Edward Mordake, however, beat those odds.  Mordake, which was an alias, was first written about in the 1900 text Anomalies And Curiosities of Medicine, by W.B. Saunders.  Saunders wrote that Mordake's extra face was actually the face of a beautiful female.  Yet, Mordake was convinced that "his devil twin" was evil.  When Mordake would weep, his second face would smile and sneer.  It could blink and its eyes could follow you about the room.  The lips constantly were in motion, as if spewing a never-ending barrage of gibberish, but no sound was ever least not by the physicians who attended to Mordake or the few family members who were allowed short, infrequent visits.

Mordake was harassed each night by the devil twin's whisperings.  It kept him awake with the terrible, nasty, vile things it would say.  Finally, Mordake reached his breaking point.  He secured some poison and committed suicide at the age of 23.  His last wishes were that the devil face be destroyed before his burial and that his reclusive lifestyle be honored in death.  Mordake was buried in an unmarked grave with only a few close family members in attendance.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ella Harper, The Camel Girl

If you caught last night's blog, I wrote about how Season Four of American Horror Story will officially be subtitled: Freak Show.  In honor of this revelation, this week I'm featuring some of my favorite sideshow performers and human oddities.  Yesterday, I featured Fanny Mills, The Ohio Big Foot Girl.  Today is another beautiful young woman, Ella Harper.

Ella Harper, known on the sideshow circuit as The Camel Girl, was born in Hendersonville, TN sometime between 1870 and 1873.  She was born with a condition known as congenital genu recurvatum.  In layman's terms, Ella was born with knees that could bend the other way, allowing her to walk on all fours.

Not much is known about Ella's life, but we do know that she worked with W.H. Harris Nickel Plate Circus and received top billing during the 1886 season, where she was often accompanied on stage by an actual camel.  Her pitch card stated that Ella had been in show business since 1882.  Despite earning an estimated $200 a week working with the circus, Ella left after that season to pursue an education.  There is no mention of her after in the annals of sideshow history.

So what happened to Ella, the Camel Girl?  It is believed that Ella got married in 1905 in her home state of Tennessee and passed away in 1921.  She only performed a short four years, but in those years she traveled extensively, was featured in every local newspaper of every town she visited, and was touted as one of the best human oddities to ever be put on display.

UPDATE April 2015: A researcher named Ray has gone above and beyond with piecing together a complete history of Ella Harper after her time in the sideshow business.  Please go check out the following article: Finding Ella (my search for The Camel Girl).

Monday, March 24, 2014

American Horror Story Freak Show: The Ohio Big Foot Girl

American Horror Story is one of my absolute all-time favorite television shows.  I love the unique change of story lines from season to season and I love the creepiness each season brings.  I also REALLY enjoy the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) references to actual people, events and situations found in paranormal research.

And, while we're on the topic of things I love...I have always had a fascination with circus and carnival culture and history, especially the "freak shows."  Therefore, I was thrilled when last week, the rumors of American Horror Story Season 4 being of a carnival theme were confirmed.  I was even more thrilled when today, Ryan Murphy (creator and producer) tweeted that the official subtitle for Season 4 was going to be "Freak Show!"

In honor of this revelation, I wanted to do a series of bonus blogs this week featuring some of my personal favorite human oddities and sideshow attractions. But, I feel like a caveat is in order:  In no way are these blogs intended to be mean-spirited or exploit/make fun of the people featured.  In fact, I want to do just the opposite; there still remains a lot of stereotypes and misconceptions about the freak show culture and how these poor people who were different were snatched from their parents as babies and forced to be displayed like animals.  While obviously not all performers were happy with the lot they were given in life, many performers found a wonderful and accepting family within the circus or carnival.  It wasn't unusual for the owner of the circus to legally adopt and treat these children as his own.

Many of these performers grew up perfectly well-adjusted with shockingly normal lives.  They got married, had children, were educated and had hobbies.  For so many of these people, the freak show was not just the ONLY work available to them, but it was GOOD work, allowing them to comfortably support themselves and their families.  And with that, here's the first profile:

The Ohio Big Foot Girl

 Fanny Mills was born in 1860 and was raised near Sandusky, Ohio.  She was the daughter of English immigrants.  As a young adult, Fanny was described as being a petite woman, weighing in at about 115 lbs, yet her legs and feet had swelled to an enormous size!  Her custom-made shoes were a size 30, and were made from three goatskins.  Pillowcases were used as her socks.

In 1885, Fanny joined the traveling "freak show" circuit under the name of The Ohio Big Foot Girl, and the accompaniment of a nurse who assisted Fanny with walking and day-to-day tasks made difficult or impossible by her disability.  Fanny's "gimmick" was that her father was offering a dowry of $5000 and a farm to anyone who would marry his unfortunate daughter.  Fanny had plenty of offers on this fake promotion concocted by her promoters, most by gold diggers.  She respectfully declined these, but actually would quietly marry a man named William Brown.  Brown was the brother of Fanny's nurse, Mary Brown.

Unfortunately Fanny's career was cut short when illness forced her into retirement in 1892.  Ironically she and her husband DID return to her parents' farm near Sandusky, where Fanny would die in May of 1899.  Her funeral was reported as well attended, with services being held at the family's home, and private burial at Oakland Cemetery.

It would later be learned that Fanny suffered from what is now known as Milroy Disease, which wasn't classified until 1891, only eight years before Fanny's death.  Milroy Disease affects the lymphatic system, and is most often characterized by lymphedema of the lower legs, as the vessels swell with fluid.  This is an extremely rare genetic disorder in which an overwhelming number of sufferers are female.

MN's Haunted Greyhound Bus Museum

Our theoretical trip across Haunted America is drawing nearer to a close.  Today's stop is Hibbing, Minnesota at the Greyhound Bus Museum.

Photo from the Greyhound Bus Museum's website

Since 1999, the Greyhound Bus museum has been located in its own facility at 1201 Greyhound Blvd.  And, since 1999, the museum, which features over 17 historical Greyhound buses and various photos, videos, and memorabilia showcasing the history of bus transportation in America, has been haunted.

Various phenomena have been reported by staff members, and several different paranormal investigation groups have collected compelling evidence and experienced first-hand accounts of the museum's otherworldly inhabitants.  Tools will go missing, only to show up neatly stacked elsewhere sometime later.  Strange noises are heard and shadows are seen darting in between buses and even ON the "Nine Bus."  For display purposes, the bus windows are set in the closed position, while the doors remain open for visitors to explore the insides.  However, staff who are there by themselves will report that many of the buses' doors will be found closed on their own, and their windows in the down position.  The Scenic Cruiser 4501 is especially prone to its windows being lowered and raised by spectral hands.

And then, there's the little girl.  Witnesses have seen the apparition of a little girl between the ages of eight and ten years old.  She is most active around 5a.m. and it is noted that even local police officers have witnessed the child.  The little girl has also been known to interact with paranormal investigators via EVP.

So why would a newer building built specifically for the museum be so haunted?  There are definitely different theories.  It's possible that whatever is haunting the building has a direct tie to the buses or some other piece of memorabilia.  That is something we see a lot with museum investigations and even investigations of locations with many antiques.  John Zaffis, the Haunted Collector, has even carved out quite an interesting living dealing with haunted artifacts, so the idea is definitely one that is not new to paranormal research.

However, The Minnesota Paranormal Study Group (MPSG) did a couple of investigations here back in 2009 and posted some rather compelling historical research about the LOCATION where the building now sits.

Adjacent to the museum is Hibbing's oldest cemetery, Hibbing Park Cemetery, (sometimes called Maple Hill to distinguish it from North Hibbing Cemetery) which saw its first burial probably around October of 1919 according to its website.  Many, including Glen Katzenberger (listed as assistant director of the museum during its 2009 investigation by MPSG), believe that the hauntings stem from the connection with the cemetery.  But...there could be OTHER explanations as well. *Note* I've had a few people tell me that the cemetery in question IS the North Hibbing Cemetery. I've also had a few people tell me that it isn't the North Hibbing, lol. I don't plan on traveling to Minnesota any time soon to confirm or deny, so please just be advised that to the best of my knowledge, its one or the other, lol.

Photo by Lisa McLean, Find-a-Grave

Also according to MPSG's research, the land where the museum sits was once a quarantine camp for a 1918 outbreak of yellow fever.  It was theorized that the close proximity to the Hibbing Park Cemetery was ideal so that bodies could be easily disposed of from the camp.  Although the first official burial didn't happen until 1919, we do know that the land for the cemetery was acquired as early as 1917 so we can't officially rule anything out.  In addition, the fill dirt for the construction was taken from Rhood Hospital.  Is it possible that the little girl ghost and any of the others are associated with the quarantine camp, or even the dirt from the former hospital?  Those theories also hold some merit in ghost lore theory, but there's one more scenario that needs to be addressed...and that is the issue of completely natural causes!

In 1920, the town of Hibbing was actually moved when the Oliver Mining Company found an abundance of iron ore under the town.  The original Hibbing is located just north of the building, and right beside it is the Hull Rust Mahohning Mine.  With that much iron ore and mining operations located so close by, is it possible that the windows and doors moving could be attributed to ground vibrations?  Could the apparitions and darting shadows be nothing more than the effects of infrasound or a disturbance in electromagnetic fields?  I think that's also quite a possibility!

*Hungry for more Hibbing haunts?  Check out the famous Hibbing High School Phantom*

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Buried Alive in Charleston, WV

Burial vault designed to allow those prematurely buried to free themselves

Paranormal research and ghost-lore are filled with tales of people being buried alive.  In fact, during the Victorian era and earlier periods, before embalming was a widely accepted practice, the fear of being buried alive was so great that a host of inventions, such as safety coffins outfitted with bells and air chutes, became almost a norm to those who could afford them.  Sources claim that at least 30 patents for different safety coffins were issued in Germany alone during the 18th century.  However, in the 1960s, which was apparently a very weird time in history, being buried alive took on a more Houdini-esque quality as normal, everyday people shoved themselves into glass coffins and went underground as publicity stunts and tourist attractions!

Not to be outdone by the rest of the world, here in little Charleston, WV we had not one, but FOUR people buried alive in two separate stunts going on concurrently!

 I wasn't personally around in 1968, so my knowledge of these events only came about yesterday when I literally accidentally stumbled upon the following newspaper article. I've added some additional details below.  I hope you enjoy this story as much as I did!

Bill White in Austin, Texas 
From: The Charleston Gazette
Friday, June 14, 1968

By Pamela Brick, Staff Writer

Well, Charleston is now the supreme, unquestioned, undisputed world capital of the bury-people-alive business.  Promoters announced Thursday they intend to plant three "earthonauts"--a man and two women--in a single box eight feet under a Summers Street parking lot at 7 p.m. today.

There will be wooden partitions between them, "but," said one of the women, "Country Bill says he is going to take a saw down with him."

June Estep, 23, a Charleston go-go dancer and Betty Jones, 34, a grandmother and cocktail waitress, both of 223 Truslow St., will join with "Country Bill" White, 34, a country and western singer and professional burial subject from Clearwater, Fla., as the latest volunteers for burial alive.

Along with Mrs. Patricia Haverland, a Charleston divorcee who is buried at the Cherokee Trading Post on U.S. 60 east of town, they will give the city an underground population of four.  "This is the first known time anywhere that three persons have been buried together," said White.  "We challenge anyone in the world to match our stay underground."  White, who will be entering the grave for the 39th time since 1964, said the three will attempt to stay down for 102 days.  The women, neither of whom has been buried before, said they would like a stay under for at least 63 days.  "If we can stay down that long, we'll work from there," said Mrs. Jones.  

White set a world record of 63 days and 22 hours at Austin, Tex., when he came up April 26.

Why be buried alive?

Mrs. Jones said, "I have always liked to do things that are different and unusual."  She did add, however, that this is the first unusual thing she has done.  Mrs. Estep said she didn't see how anyone could live underground that long, so she's trying it to find out.

The coffin will be divided into three equal parts 2.5 feet high, 2.5 feet wide and 5 feet 10 inches long.  "Each container will have a separate lid," said White.  "This way each person may be brought out if needed without opening the entire coffin."

"Country Bill," who will be placed in the middle compartment, said each person will have his individual phone and radio and will be able to talk to the others by either yelling or phoning.  The three will be visible to the public through a chute.  It will be possible to see all three at one time, said White.

Mrs. Estep, who has a seven-year-old son living with her mother in Chicago, Ill., sat nervously toying with a piece of paper as she voiced her only fright.  "The only thing that scares me," she said, "is the sound of that dirt falling down on top."

Summers Street, ca 1960, from

So, obviously this is a fairly intriguing piece of Kanawha Valley history which I plan on doing more thorough research on in the near future, but I have managed to find out a FEW things by searching online.  Unfortunately, it doesn't look like Country Bill's stunt ever got approved!  There were fears from Charleston's parking captain of the spectacle causing traffic problems and safety issues.  Then, in a newspaper article dated from June 30th, it states the project was halted by the city building inspector.  The inspector deemed the "coffin" to be a living space, thus requiring it to have 320 square feet of space, a bathroom, heat, running water, and at least two exits.

But, there was good news for Patricia Haverland!  Haverland was buried at the old Cherokee Trading Post on Rt. 60, which is close by the Daniel Boone Park....right about where the Moose Lodge is located today.  Since this location was outside of Charleston city limits, the building codes didn't apply to her.  However, her goal wasn't immediately met.  She initially had to be taken out after only 11 days due to an illness, but she persevered and went back under.

Tourists could pay a nickel to view her down in her glass-topped coffin and while she didn't beat Country Bill's record, the mother of three in her mid-30s did manage to raise $4800 for her cause of taking in and helping out unwed mothers.  As for Country Bill White, he was still alive in 2005, and was still burying himself alive to raise money for charity and to promote car dealerships.  As of 2003, he was still in the Guiness Book of World Records, after having crushed his own previous record set in Texas.

1987 Interview with Country Bill White

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Last House Standing

This evening on Facebook, I saw no less than six paranormal pages post this little infographic.  The picture is very real...but the information about it is very false, lol.  Since I am getting frustrated posting the information for it over and over, I thought I would just go ahead a blog about it!  Anyway...

In 2005, Pam and Warren Adams lost their home in Gilchrist, Texas to Hurricane Rita.  Determined not to let the destruction force them from the home they loved, they resolved to rebuild a new home on the same lot.  This lot was located on Crystal Beach, which is on the Gulf Coast side of the Bolivar Peninsula.  In a neighborhood of about 200 other homes, the Adams' new home would be the newest construction.  And what a construction it was!

With the help of Aran & Franklin Engineering and AM Coastal Construction, the Adams' built a new home, finished in 2006.  As the newest home in the neighborhood, the house was built under the newer and stricter building codes of the county.  It's hurricane windows and pitched roof were designed to withstand wind speeds of 130+mph, and additional improvements were also added, notably 14ft tall, thick, wooden column stilts.

The house was already on one of the highest lots in the neighborhood, so with the addition of the stilts, the home was a good 22ft above normal sea level, which, combined with the updated construction codes, would lead to this home's infamous reputation.

On the night of September 13, 2008 Hurricane Ike struck the area of Gilchrist, obliterating an entire neighborhood.  The only exception was the Adams' home, which stood proudly and almost eerily among the flattened neighborhood.  An aerial photo taken by Smiley N. Pool of the local newspaper, The Chronicler, quickly got picked up by the Weather Channel, CNN, and every local news broadcasting station in the country.  AP photographer David Phillips dubbed the little yellow home The Last House Standing

However, not all was well.  The majority of damage to Crystal Beach from Ike came from the 14ft storm surge, which left everything in the home ruined, covered in mud and uninhabitable.  Pam, a cost analyst working in Houston, and Warren, a retired electrical designer, fought with their insurance company for two years over an unfair payout.  But, all would work out in the end.  The house, which many believed would have to be demolished, was saved and the couple moved back in a little after a year following Hurricane Ike.  In addition, they bought the property across the street and opened up a popular restaurant called FantaSea BBQ and Grill.  Several other houses in a nearby neighborhood also lived through the storm, and although FEMA bought up much of the surrounding property with an order than homes could not be built there, there are still neighborhood lots where residents ARE rebuilding their homes AND their lives.

Therefore, its easy to see how false this image can a house have hosted an exorcism in 1988 when the house didn't even exist??  What is how many people keep posting this and pondering its authenticity.  It literally took me less than 5 seconds to do an internet search and come up with 100s of articles on this home, none of which contained any mention of an exorcism on Crystal Beach or concerning the Adams'.  Coincidence?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The New Mexico Skin Walker HOAX

A little over a month ago, Facebook and other social media blew up with a photo showing a strange, crab-like humanoid standing by the side of the road between Lybrook and Counselor, NM...very close to the Jicarilla Apache reservation.

The story that accompanied the creepy photo was that a geologist working in the area noticed something strange, and decided to take a heat signature of it.  The geologist promptly quit the next day under mysterious circumstances and the photo of the alleged skin walker surfaced on the internet, causing a huge sensation, being shared thousands of times within mere hours.  Many believed that the creature was indeed a Skin Walker, or a magical person with the ability to transform into an animal-like creature.  It is interesting to point out that the general area where the photo was allegedly taken is in the vicinity of the Skin Walker Ranch, a property with a long history of high strangeness, including UFOs, cattle mutations, walker beasts.

However, it didn't take long for the web warriors to put an end to the speculation!  It was quickly discovered that the photo in question was actually a still from a MOVIE!

That movie would be the 1982 low-budget gruesome British sensation, Xtro.  Released in the U.S. in 1983 and directed by Harry Bromley Davenport, Xtro is a sci-fi horror involving a man who was abducted by aliens, only to be returned three years later.  Only...he wasn't the same when he returned.

Xtro became somewhat of a cult classic, spawning two sequels that had nothing to do with the original plot.  As late as March 2011, Davenport claimed to be working on the next movie in the installment, Xtro IV.  Unfortunately I haven't been able to find anything past that date confirming whether or not the movie was ever made...but it seems like this mysterious picture that no one is taking credit for posting might have been the perfect viral marketing ploy!  It's definitely sparked an interest in the original movie with a generation who wasn't even born when it came out.

It's also an example of something I blogged about awhile back; the importance of cinematic research!  As researchers, its SO important to keep up with pop culture...and how people can use pop culture to relate to, or in this case mimic, a paranormal event!  So, go watch some horror films...even some really bad, cheesy 80s gems...and don't feel guilty about it; you're doing legitimate research.

*Theresa's Note:  I feel like I shouldn't have to dedicate a blog post to the subject of the Skin Walker hoax since its already been debunked, but I've noticed that these things have a habit of making a comeback...and I wanted to be prepared!  Plus, it was kinda fun looking up clips and information about this movie.  It's uh, definitely not for those with a delicate constitution! *

Monday, March 10, 2014

Debunking a Kentucky Cemetery Legend

This morning, I saw a Facebook post for a cemetery legend out of Marion, Kentucky.  The legend was that of the Pilot's Knob Cemetery Witch Girl.  Since I'm always short on interesting places in the Bluegrass State, I decided to research this location a little more and add it to the Haunted Kentucky Page.

What I found was not exactly shocking.  From what I can find, there is not one single supporting piece of evidence to show that there's even a grain of truth buried somewhere in the deep recesses of this urban legend.

As the stories go, Mary Evelyn Ford lived with her mother near Marion, Kentucky around the early 1900s.  For reasons unnamed, the mother and the girl were universally believed to be witches by the townspeople, and thus, in an act of vigilante justice, the townspeople swooped in and burned both mother and daughter alive.  The mother's charred remains were taken away, yet the little girl's body was buried in the Pilot Knob Cemetery.  However, it was believed that without proper precautions, her spirit would seek vengeance on those who took the lives of her mother and she buried in a lead-lined coffin, and covered in concrete and gravel.  As an added precaution, her grave was surrounded by an iron fence, made of interlocking crosses, designed to keep her spirit from escaping.

That hasn't stopped her from trying, however.  Visitors to the site have noted that they've seen the apparition of the little blonde girl, wandering back and forth in her white iron cage, wearing a singed white nightgown.  She reaches out to those who get close enough, trying to pull them in with her.  She's even been seen making faces at people, peering through the iron bars.  If you do manage to climb over the fence, its said she'll hold you down and pull you into her grave with her.

In reality, Mary Evelyn Ford was the youngest of at least six children born to James Andy Ford and Mary Rebecca Davis Ford.  According to her death certificate, she passed away on May 31, 1915, just a few weeks after her fifth birthday, from peritonitis.  Her mother, who legend claims is missing, is really buried in the same cemetery, dying in 1955 after outliving her husband and at least two of her children.  It seems like the legend was nothing more than a made up story intended to keep people away from the cemetery at night...and to account for why Mary's grave seems to be the only one with a gravel top and iron fence.

But...that still doesn't account for some of the other spooky goings-on in the cemetery, one of which is directly related to the little witch girl.  There is said to be an evil presence in the cemetery, that of a man known only as The Watcher.  The Watcher allegedly was killed at a nearby bridge, but is drawn to the cemetery by the little witch, whom he tries to capture, but cannot, due to the fence of crosses.

Pilot Knob Cemetery (has pictures of Mary's death certificate and links to tons of info on the legend)
Find-a-Grave Listing for Mary (includes links to parents)
Louisville Ghost Hunters Society (investigation and readers' comments)

Friday, March 7, 2014

Zak Memes

It's Friday! That means its time for a long overdue Friday Night Funny, Ghost Adventures Style.  Tonight, I'm sharing some of my favorite Zak memes.  Zak is the guy that everyone loves to have some fun with...especially the ghosts!  Please enjoy this small collection...and check back for Zak Memes Volume 2, coming next month!  And, if you're of a legal drinking age, make sure you check out the Ghost Adventures Drinking game, too!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Indiana's Haunted Bristol Opera House

The Bristol Opera House was built in 1896 by Cyrus and Horace Mosier, brothers from Elkhart, Indiana.  It opened in 1897 with a production of U.S.S. Pinafore by the Arion Company, and quickly became a showplace for Bristol's arts and entertainment.  Over the years, the Bristol Opera House tried to keep up with the growing needs of the community, as well as advancements in technology.  It served as a music hall, a cinema, and even a skating rink, all before 1940.  However, that year, the aging structure was deemed unsafe for anything other than storage...a position it held onto for 20 years.

In the early 1960s, the former Opera House was still declining, and slated for demolition when the Elkhart Civic Theatre company swooped in and saved the building, eventually bringing it back to its former glory and turning it again into a showplace for Bristol's arts and entertainment community. It's reopening was in July of 1961. Today, the old Opera House is still home to the Elkhart Civil Theater, but its also home to a few resident ghosts.

One such ghost that calls the theater home is a little girl the staff have named "Beth."  Beth's apparition has been spotted at stage left, peeking out from behind the curtain and peering out into the audience.  Another presence is that of "Helen," a middle aged woman who seemingly watches over and protects the directors and producers of the various shows.

And finally...there is Percival.  According to the stories, Percival was a former handyman who worked at the original Bristol Opera House in exchange for room and board, after he and his family lost their home in a fire.  Percival is seen as a trickster, and anything that goes wrong, from electrical disturbances to missing tools and/or props is blamed on Percival.  Percival really doesn't like musicals, so much of the annoying behavior seems to occur when such a production is going on.  But Percival's antics don't end there; he is often felt brushing up against actors and guests, and has even been known to grab and jerk an actor back as he's making his entrance onto the stage.  Ladies have an especially difficult time with Percival as he is often seen hanging around the women's dressing rooms.  He's also seen in the right aisle of the theater.

Photo and more info from Dread Central
Elkhart Civic Theater Homepage
A 20th Century History and Biographical Record of Elkhart Co. Indiana

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

KY's Benham Schoolhouse Inn

Looking for a really unique place to stay the night in Kentucky?  Bonus points if its haunted?  Look no further than the Benham Schoolhouse Inn, in Harlan County.

From Yelp user, Dave H.
Benham is a small community, once a coal camp town under the direction of the Wisconsin Steel Corporation (later International Harvester).  In 1926, Wisconsin Steel built a state of the art all-grades school for the children of the camp.  In 1961, the last high school class was graduated from the school, which continued to serve as the local elementary until 1992.  A year later, renovations were underway to turn the former school into a premier inn, encouraging tourism in the Kentucky coalfields.

Today, the Benham Schoolhouse Inn is under the direction of the Southeastern Kentucky Community and Technical College, which runs a Hospitality Management program, allowing students to work as interns at the inn.  Original hardwood floors, historic school photos, painted lockers, and other little touches remind those who stay overnight or visit for any number of special events and functions hosted by the inn, that the school spirit is still alive at the Benham Schoolhouse.  That might be true figuratively as well as literally...

The web is full of stories about the inn being haunted, and while the activity varies, almost all reported events involve the spirits of former students.  The sounds of children laughing, playing, and talking are heard at all hours throughout the former school.  Even the apparitions of children, dressed in the style of the 1920s, have been seen by the more sensitive visitors.  Other reported incidents involve an apparition of a man carrying a suitcase, lights that dim by themselves, and a shower that turned on and soaked a guest.  One theory presented as to why the school might be haunted came from a Harlan County local on a Topix post.  This contributor, who went to school at the Benham School, claims that the building was erected over a cemetery where not all the bodies were removed.  In fact, this contributor claims that an intact skeleton was unearthed and used in the school's anatomy classes to teach the skeletal system!

Benham Schoolhouse Inn Facebook Page

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Galley Restaurant and Hackett Hotel

From Hidden Marietta
Hidden Marietta just ran an awesome article about some of the many haunted places to eat throughout Marietta, Ohio...which linked to another another article on haunted accommodations as well!  I was pleased to see that I have already featured a few of the locations listed, such as Buckley House and Lafayette Hotel, but one location I hadn't heard of appears to be a recent addition on the Hidden Marietta tours:

The Galley Restaurant and Hackett Hotel

Located at 203 Second Street, the original Hackett Hotel was built in 1899 by John H. Riley, who arrived in town a decade before and quickly began building magnificent structures throughout the town.  The Hackett Hotel was strategically located across from the train station and rail yards, and featured such amenities as an in-house bowling alley and bar. a way to further accommodate the young men who arrived in Marietta by boat and by rail, the Hackett Hotel featured a bevy of "working girls."

By the 1960s, the hotel had fallen into disrepair, and it wouldn't be until the 1980s when new life was breathed into the structure, turning it into the Galley Restaurant.  Immediately upon opening, it was apparent that something was amiss.  Bottles would shatter to the ground.  Glasses would fly off racks and break.  Even chairs would mysteriously and violently be shoved across empty rooms by  unseen hands.  Employees quickly decided their resident ghost needed a name, so they christened her "Charlotte."

It is believed Charlotte was one of the Hackett's working girls because she tends to interact with men only...and interact quite malevolently at times.  In addition to the poltergeist-like activity of chairs and glasses being thrown about, those who encounter Charlotte report feeling very uneasy and threatened around her.  And...Charlotte isn't just limited to roaming the Galley Restaurant.  Her domain is the ENTIRE building!

Up until 2012, the third floor of the building held several small, private apartments, where gentleman residents occasionally ran afoul of Charlotte's shenanigans.  Just recently, however, those apartments were renovated and converted into a new, posh Hackett Hotel, featuring five brand-new rooms with a nod to its early 20th century beginnings.  And, like renovations tend to do, Charlotte's ghost got riled up.  A small child reported talking with a "woman in a long dress" that no one else present could see.

If you're looking for a fun weekend trip this year, definitely consider Marietta, Ohio!  Catch a bite at the popular Galley Restaurant, make a reservation on the Hidden Marietta tour, and spend a night in the unique Hackett Hotel.  You MIGHT just get to see Charlotte's antics up close!

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Little Chemo Girl

Can you see the transparent image of a little bald girl on the right hand side? The NEWEST Kaiser hospital in Irvine, CA, has documented 4 different spirits who wander the hall. They call this one the little chemo girl. Sometimes she is seen at the elevator and someone will offer to push the button for her. When they turn back around, she has vanished....

This sad tale and accompanying picture flooded the internet awhile back, and is currently making another round.  Really tugs at the heartstrings, doesn't it? Those who have commented on Facebook postings of this picture have been fascinated by its authenticity, with theories ranging from the idea that the little girl is an angel sent to escort the recently departed home, to simply being a little lost soul, doomed to wander the halls of this California hospital forever.

It's not true...

Like many other photos that seem too good to be true, this one is as well.  The image of the little bald girl is actually an image of a little boy.  While not as popular as the little girl in plaid, the little ghost boy (aka, The Little Chemo Girl) is a prominent feature of the Ghost Capture smart phone application, developed by Ghosts Don't Exist.  See him down there...bottom left, third one over.

Anyway, the ready-made caption to go along with this fraudulent photo mentions the name of the hospital and the fact that the "little chemo girl" is only one of several reported ghosts at the location.  Since even hoaxes are sometimes rooted in fact, I wanted to know if there were anything up with these claims.  What I found was simply that this particular hospital was built in 2008 as part of a larger hospital system covering several states.  I didn't run across any other stories about the little chemo girl or any of the other ghosts with whom she shares the halls.  However, I DID find a story submitted to the Shadowlands concerning an older Kaiser hospital in La Mesa, California.

In short, a police officer was in the basement break area, where emergency personnel were allowed to shower and get a snack while on duty.  A cup of coffee he was about to drink was knocked violently from his hand before a disembodied voice crudely told him to get out.  Other officers who responded to his calls for help were faced with the task of letting their brother in blue know that he had just had his first experience with Kaiser's well-known ghost. After that, the officer refused to use the services of Kaiser's break room, yet found himself once again in the basement area years later when the space was remodeled and used as doctors' offices.  Bringing up his experience years before, his doctor let him know that he wasn't least six ghosts were said to have invaded the basement area which was once used as the morgue.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Safety--The Ghost Hunter's 1st Aid Kit

In this continuing series of articles relating to safety and paranormal investigating, I wanted to talk a little bit about a very important piece of the ghost hunter's tool kit:  the first aid kit.  A well stocked first aid kit is a must-have for any investigator, whether they are investigating a private residence, an outdoor location, or a creepy old abandoned building.  Unfortunately, this rather mundane item is sometimes overlooked or forgotten...until it is needed.  A properly stocked first aid kit can save your investigation from being ruined by a small, uncomfortable inconvenience, but in rare circumstances, it may also save a life.

Needs will change based on the location of the investigation and members of the group, but I've compiled just a VERY basic checklist of items to consider for your own kit. There are plenty of sites out there that will help you put together basic to comprehensive general first aid kits, or where you can buy a pre-made kit (Adventure Medical Kits has some AWESOME but PRICEY selections) but I've tried to include items that would be of an especially useful nature to a paranormal investigator on location.   Please note that I am not a medical professional...just someone who has found herself out in the middle of nowhere, covered in poison ivy a time or two!

First Aid Kit Checklist:

  • Various sized adhesive bandages
  • Gauze pads
  • Anti-bacterial or alcohol wipes
  • Neosporin or other antibiotic cream
  • Gloves
  • Antihistamine tablets, such as Benadryl
  • Cough drops
  • 81 mg aspirin
  • Aspirin, Tylenol, Ibuprofen, etc.
  • Antacid tablets and/or Pepto tablets
  • Hydrocortisone ointment (or any rash, bug bite, poison ivy cream/itch relief spray or cream)
  • Scissors
  • Medical Tape
  • Elastic bandages
  • Cold pack
  • Tweezers
  • Space Blanket
  • Burn cream
  • Quik-Clot
  • Snake-bite kit
  • Hard candies
  • 1st aid manual

Preventative Measures and Other Considerations:

  • Having a team member who is a doctor, nurse, EMT, or is otherwise a trained medical professional is an added benefit to any group.
  • Consider having everyone on the team become certified in basic CPR/1st aid.  Classes are available for a nominal fee through a number of organizations, including the Red Cross.  
  • Make sure everyone is current on their tetanus shots!
  • Know your own physical limitations and don't push them; regular check-ups with your family physician are recommended.
  • Make sure that your team leader knows of any medical issues you might have, such as low blood sugar, epilepsy, asthma, etc...and how to recognize and deal with the issue should it arise.
  • If you require an inhaler, an epi-pen, or other medication, make sure you have it with you, and that at least one other person on the team knows where to access it and how to help you administer it if needed.
  • Do a thorough walk through of the location in good lighting and mark off any areas that may be a safety hazard.
  • Dress appropriately for your location; long pants and sleeves, and sturdy, closed-toe shoes are always recommended.
  • Respirator masks are recommended for indoor investigations where mold, asbestos, and animal droppings may be a problem.
  • If you're going to be outside, invest in bug spray!

Happy and Safe Hunting!
Check out my first article in the safety series:  Getting Permission to Investigate

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Book Review for Paranormality

Title: Paranormality-Why We Believe the Impossible
Author: Prof. Richard Wiseman
Published: 2012 by Pan Books
Amazon Order Info

Paranormality is a delightful foray into the processes of why we as humans tend to believe in certain paranormal concepts when good science keeps showing us that these things cannot possible exist. Obviously, this is a biased, one-sided argument, but its extremely well done.  Most books in this genre tend to be extremely condescending and downright hateful to anyone who dares believe there is more out there than meets the eye, but with Paranormality, Professor Wiseman has managed to present the information and arguments factually and simply.  He doesn't make a lot of personal judgments against those who do believe...just states the research and the conclusions.  It's full of such excellent academic research, but presented in a way that anyone can easily understand it, no matter what his/her educational background may be.

And although you could classify it as a science book, it's less of a critique about the hard science of the paranormal, meaning the physics, the chemistry, the geology, etc. behind natural occurrences that can be construed as paranormal.  It's more about the psychology behind how and why we perceive things to be paranormal, and why we hold so tightly to those beliefs despite evidence against them.  Sprinkled throughout the text are demonstrations and experiments the reader can try for himself to illustrate the points shown through the academic studies.  An even cooler feature of the book is the QR codes.  If you have a smartphone or tablet handy, you can scan the code directly from the book and be taken to video demonstrations and interviews (there's a website address below for those who don't have a device to scan the codes).

Obviously, I have to recommend this to my colleagues in the paranormal field.  No matter where one's beliefs may lie, being well read in a variety of books examining ALL sides of the debate is crucial to being the best researcher and investigator one can be; you can never have too much information.  I'd also highly recommend this particular title to anyone studying psychology since it really is a psychological survey with some awesome psychology studies used to illustrate the concepts presented.

Check it out.  Try the demonstrations and watch the videos.  You won't be disappointed!

Theresa's Note:
Okay, wow, lol.  In looking up the Amazon ordering information, the copy of the book I have (linked above) is selling for over $30 new AND used.  That is way more than the $5 I paid for it on Book Outlet. Apparently, there is another edition (its the same book but with a different subtitle and cover) which is going for a MUCH more affordable price on Amazon.  I've linked to it here: Paranormality-Why We See What Isn't There.