Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Minnesota Exorcism Church

You might have seen this image before.  It's a favorite on Pinterest as well as on many different Facebook pages.  A creepy, dilapidated church out in the middle of nowhere just HAS to have a suitably creepy back story, and this seems to do the trick.  Furthermore...unlike many of these images with accompanying outrageous text, this story sounds like it COULD be true.

It's no secret that throughout history, not much was known about mental illness. A favorite scapegoat was obviously that people suffering from such things as schizophrenia and other mental illnesses were, in fact, under demonic possession. And, its no secret that historically, the treatment for the mentally ill were sometimes worse than just living with the affliction itself! Many families, for a variety of reason, chose to keep mentally ill loved ones out of asylums.  However, if they were a risk to themselves or others, they sometimes had to be restrained or locked away.  Sometimes they were simply locked away from the outside world out of shame and embarrassment. In any event, its not too far of a stretch to believe that mentally ill persons who were assumed to have been possessed by demons would fail to be 'cured' from an exorcism, and thus locked away for safety's sake. I don't necessarily think it happened at this church, though...

From the Church's FB page
After an attempt to verify the information presented in this graphic, I learned that the church in question wasn't even IN Minnesota. This church is actually the Estonian Ev. Martin Luther in Lincoln County, Wisconsin! It was built in 1914 as the first Estonian church in the United States. The actual congregation dates back to 1897, however and by 1903 there were enough members to start looking to move church services from private homes into a new church.  Money for the project began to be collected in 1907, and the graveyard (which would only ever hold about 14 people) was established in 1909.

The church wouldn't be used all that much.  By the 1950s, the small Estonian population was moving into the cities, and 1964 marked a 50 year reunion celebration that effectively ended regular church services as the small church in the woods.  In 2011, the current owner, Bill Rebane, claimed that a group of about 20 still worshiped at the site, weather permitting, yet the small building was in an obvious state of disrepair.

However, recent posts to the church's Facebook page show that care is being taken not only to preserve the church, but to restore it to its former glory!  There Facebook page, along with a blog called Shunpiking to Heaven, have some awesome photos and history---just no mention of any failed exorcisms on the site!  Please check them out for more information.

Church Facebook Page

Shunpiking to Heavens Backroads Blog

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Book Review for Haunted Harbor

Title: Haunted Harbor--Charleston's Maritime Ghosts and the Unexplained
Authors: Geordie Buxton and Ed Macy
Published: 2005/2012 by History Press
Amazon Purchase Info

I wasn't about to leave Charleston, S.C. without at least one book of regional ghost stories, and the title I chose from the gift shop at Patriot's Point was Haunted Harbor, by Geordie Buxton and Ed Macy.  I chose this particular book because I'm a big fan of this publisher's other books in this Haunted America series AND because I already owned a book about the haunts of downtown Charleston and wanted something a little different to add to my collection.

I'm rather pleased with this choice! It's a very short book, only 128 pages, and many of those are simply full-page photographs, but there's a lot of information packed in here!  Charleston is an extremely historic city, playing a big role in both the start of the Revolutionary War AND the American Civil War...and Charleston Harbor was right there at the base of it all.  From 18th century pirates to modern day industry, Charleston Harbor has been a hotbed of activity for over 300 years. It would make sense that it would pick up a few ghosts...

...and the emphasis with this book is on the few, lol.

I really liked this book---it was interesting and definitely covered plenty of strange incidents and other weirdness, but it did seem a little...light...on actual tales of ghosts. The authors sum it up best at the beginning of the chapter dealing with the Charleston County Jail with the quote, "Some places in the port city don't necessarily need ghosts to be haunted. Their creepy history speaks for itself." I personally would like my hauntings to deal a little more with ghosts, and I don't think the problem was that there are a lack of such specters, even within the confines of the harbor!

Anyway, some of the tales you'll read about is the creepy face in the flag at Ft. Sumter, a spooky experience shared by 18 members of a boy scout troop on the USS Yorktown, a UFO filmed in the area, and a mysterious car accident that may or may not have really happened. Definitely take a look at this book if you plan on visiting the Charleston area---it'll give you some great ideas about interesting and haunted places to visit that just aren't really discussed in other books about area hauntings. There's a good dose of history thrown in, and even though the text seems a little disjointed at times (possibly because of the dual authorship), you can actually learn quite a bit about the history of this area and why Charleston Harbor has been so important over the years, not only to the city and the state...but to the whole country as well.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Horror Comedy

I usually don't watch a ton of movies...but when I do, I tend to binge-watch a bunch at one time!  That's what happened to me earlier this week.  I made good use out of Netflix account and Roku box and watched several horror films...most of them COMEDY horror!  It all started with The Mansion of Madness...

1. The Mansion of Madness (1973)--This one was NOT on Netflix, but I did find a link to watch the whole film on Youtube if you're interested. I'm just not sure if I would recommend it, lol.  This film was seriously a series of WTF moments for me. I've never dropped acid before, but I assume the imagery of this movie would mimic a bad trip quite nicely.  Basically, its the story of a French mental institution taken over by its patients and a journalist who happens to visit in order to write a story on the place. Directed by Juan Lopez Moctezuma, this movie is loosely based on the Edgar Allan Poe work, The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Feather.  There's really only one word to describe it: surreal. 

2. Housebound (2014)--Housebound IS available on Netflix streaming, and is one of those little gems of horror comedy.  It's not the greatest movie in the world, but its entertaining, had some spooky moments, and went through so many plot twists and turns that you weren't really sure where you'd end up! A young woman with a criminal past is forced to spend her home confinement sentence at her mother's house.  Immediately, weird things start happening, and its up to the girl to either solve what's going on, or pay the price. First a skeptic, she then faces the harrowing challenge of making others believe her.  There's some suspension of disbelief needed here, as many of her actions would have landed her butt in jail anywhere else, but that just sort of lends to the desperation and frustration factor. Definitely recommend this one! 

3. Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil (2010)--Another movie available on Netflix streaming, Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil has been one that I've been meaning to watch forever...just never got around to it.  I'm glad I finally made the time, because its pretty hilarious.  This twist on a classic slasher flick might have been a tad more gory than I like my horror, but the comedy made it bearable. The two main guys are really quite lovable and you can't help but feel bad for their situation. The only thing that didn't thrill me was that somewhere I read that this was supposed to have taken place in West Virginia and I'm pretty bored with the whole stereotype of West Virginians all being uneducated, murderous hillbillies, lol. Now I just need to watch the sequel!

4. The Ouija Experiment (2011)--This was the only horror movie I watched this week without overtly being classified as a horror comedy...but it was still kinda funny in spots because it was so cheesy. As another Netflix streaming option that I had been meaning to watch for some time, The Ouija Experiment wasn't retched...it just wasn't very good, either.  It's filmed in one of those 'found footage' styles and chronicles a film maker's quest to shoot some spooky footage of a Ouija board experiment for his Youtube channel. The characters were all just dreadful and annoying so I definitely empathized with the ghosts more! Some of the things they said and did literally made me cringe...especially the bits with the 'ouija expert.'  There were definitely some creepy moments and a few jump scares that kept it entertaining, though.  One thing I couldn't figure out, however, was that if this was a found footage type film, why could WE see the ghosts on film, but when the characters played back their own footage, there was nothing there?

5. The 'Burbs (1989)--I wasn't sure whether or not to include The 'Burbs since its really not a horror comedy, but a dark comedy.  In any case, its freaking hilarious!  This was one of my favorite movies growing up, and I was thrilled to find it on Netflix. A band of neighbors, suspicious of a quiet, and somewhat weird family on their cul-de-sac, take it upon themselves to find out what horrors are really going on. It's a comedy of errors with a surprising twist at the end...a movie that really makes you wonder, "how well do you know the people next door?" Oh, and its got Corey Feldman in it as an added bonus!

So that's what I've been watching this week.  What have you watched recently?  Share your hits and misses with us over on Theresa's Haunted History Facebook page, or check out my article, Cinematic Research, about how watching horror films can actually be educational!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Galloping Horseman of Pine Baron

Wescott Road, Edisto Island
In a little over a week, I'll be in Charleston, South Carolina! So, I was pretty thrilled when I recently stumbled across a little ghost story from Edisto Island, located about 40 miles south of Charleston.  I found this tale in the book, Tales of Edisto, by Nell S. Graydon.  Originally published in 1955, this book (which I got from our local Goodwill) is a treasure trove of the early history of the area, complete with a fair sprinkling of ghosts and legends!  One such legend is The Galloping Horseman of Pine Baron.

I haven't been able to find out much history about the actual original home of the Pine Baron plantation (often referred to as Pine Barren or Pine Barony).  However, we know that the original house was one of the many homes associated with the Whaley family, who were early settlers to the island.  Colonel Joseph Whaley was cited as living in the home between 1806 and 1862, when he was forced to leave due to Civil War tensions.

After the war, Joseph, along with his son William Whaley, fought to regain legal control of Pine Baron and other property.  Unfortunately, the original home was believed to have burned to the ground in the 1930s by a disgruntled family member.  There are several notable stories associated with the history of the house, but today's tale comes from a newer home of the same name located on the plantation.

In August of 1945, a storm was on its way to Edisto and the author of Tales of Edisto (Nell Graydon) was staying at a cabin on the beach.  When an evacuation of the beach was called, Mrs. Whaley invited several displaced persons to spend the night in the old family mansion.  At the time, Mrs. Graydon's son was with the 11th Airborne Division on Luzon in the Philippines. Communication with him had been sparse in recent weeks and there were rumors of upcoming major action in that area...action that if went poorly, would result in horrible consequences.  Therefore, Mrs. Graydon had been glued to the radio, hoping for news of the war.

About an hour had passed at the home when a tree fell, knocking out power. The increased rains were also threatening to flood the nearby creek and for the first time in history, the water was seeping uncomfortably close to the house.  One of the gentleman who were staying with the party, a Mr. M-, decided to throw on his overcoat and walk down to his car, where he hoped to hear some news about both the war and the weather conditions on the car's radio.

Mr. M- was gone for over an hour before coming back up to the house.  Unfortunately, there was too much static to hear much of anything and he had no war news to report to the worried Mrs. Graydon.  He did manage to hear enough to learn that the storm was hitting nearby Beaufort and that's when he decided he better head back up to the house!  He hadn't been back for long when Mr. M- casually asked the other 11 or so guests at the home what the gentleman with the lantern had wanted.

Mr. M- told the group that while he was at the car, he saw a man on horseback with a lantern quickly gallop toward the house.  However, none of the guests had any idea what he was talking about.  No one had come to the door and no one had seen or heard anything.  Mrs. Whaley, however, knew EXACTLY what was going on, and put her hand on Mrs. Graydon's shoulder.  "Don't worry," she said.  "Your boy is safe and no harm will come to Pine Baron or its occupants from this storm."

She quickly explained...

A former owner of the home, William Whaley, had such a short fuse that he was known as "Powder Bill."  Ever since his years at South Carolina College in the mid 1830s he had been known to partake in plenty of duels.  Shortly after his marriage, his young wife was appalled to learn that William would be taking part in yet another duel, 40 miles away in Charleston.  She begged him to allow her to accompany him, but he wouldn't allow it.  As a compromise, he promised to post couriers with fresh horses every five miles between Charleston and the island.  As soon as the duel was over, the news would reach her quickly.

Luckily, William survived the duel and the good news reached the young Mrs. Whaley in a timely fashion, right as planned.  And ever since then, in times of danger or despair, the occupants of Pine Baron would look for the Galloping Horseman.  The Galloping Horseman only brought GOOD news, and seeing him was a sure sign that all would be well.

*This story has a lot of similarities to another popular South Carolina coastal legend, the Gray Man of Pawley's Island.  The Gray Man, if seen during a hurricane, is a good omen, and whomever sees him will be safe from the storm.*

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Ghost Dog Painting

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

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

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

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

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

It wasn't until 2007 or 2008 that someone using the name LissiS uploaded the digitally enhanced 'ghost' dog image to Worth1000.com, an image alteration and contest website, and a whole new audience was found for this wonderful painting.

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