Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Ghostly Graduation Gifts

Both my nephew and my step-nephew will be graduating high school at the end of this month. As they are getting ready to start this new phase in life, I'm left wondering what sort of spooky and totally awesome gift would be appropriate for such an occasion. While cash is still the safest and most practical gift for any grad, if you have a graduate in your life who enjoys the creepy side of things....consider one of these options as a unique alternative or as simply a supplement to the boring ol' money standby.

1. A Book of College Ghost Stories: Is the college that your high school graduate is going to in the Fall haunted? (Or, is the college that your college graduate is leaving haunted?) Why don't you see if there is a book specifically dedicated to those hauntings, or if the school is mentioned in a compendium of ghost tales? Here are two general examples:  

Haunted Colleges and Universities, by Tom Ogden
Haunted Halls of Ivy, by Daniel Barefoot

2. A Haunted Trip: Besides money, the gift of travel is another popular option for graduates. Get creative, and give it a spooky spin! You can give your grad tickets to a public ghost hunt at one of the popular pay-to-play locations (such as Waverly Hills, WV State Penitentiary, TALA), book them a couple of nights' stay in a haunted hotel, or just send them to a location know for its hauntings, pointing out all the haunted attractions, tours, restaurants and hotels in the area. Another cool idea is a ghostly road trip! Again, point out all the spooky spots along the way to eat, stay, and play.

3. A Psychic Reading:  Your graduate is about to embark on a crossroads in his/her life. If they are feeling a little overwhelmed or unsure of the direction they should take, they might enjoy a psychic reading! Check your local listings and ask around for recommendations. You can go with a general psychic reading, or choose someone who specializes in palm reading or tarot.

4. Spooky Dorm Furnishings: If your graduate is moving into his/her first apartment or staying in a dorm for the first time, help them decorate it with spooky style and freaky functionality! Etsy is a great source of different home goods relating to various paranormal themes. Here are a few of my favorites!

Protect furniture with these MugRug coasters from SewSweetSparrow

Snuggly fleece blanket from micmo

5. Spooky School Supplies: Study in spooky style! Carry your books around in a ghostly backpack (okay, so its really the SnapChat logo, but that makes it even more relevant right? LOL) or protect your tablet with with what so many fear is a demonic portal to Hell---can you think of a better security measure against stolen property??

From Wanelo

Monday, May 23, 2016

Monday Meme: Scooby-Doo vs. TAPS

Happy Monday! Ready for today's Monday Meme? This one definitely takes me back to my childhood. I was obsessed with Scooby and the rest of the gang from Mystery, Inc. when I was younger. I was pleasantly surprised that my now 18 year old nephew also enjoyed it when he was little. My six year old son still counts it among his favorite shows, which warms my heart.

In some ways, I'd like to think that Scooby Doo had a little something to do with my decision to become involved in paranormal research. It was the first time I saw a group of everyday people actually investigate 'paranormal' mysteries...and pretty much solve them all! I don't think I'm alone---in fact, I've actually heard many paranormal investigators give at least partial credit to Scooby Doo for sparking their interest into researching the unknown.

In a similar vein, many paranormal investigators also give credit for their start in the investigation world to the original TAPS team, as featured on Ghost Hunters. Although not perfect, at the time, the show really was somewhat revolutionary. Just like Scooby, you had a group of everyday people investigating mysteries of the unknown. It was, and continues to be, one of the more accurate portrayals of the investigation process available on network TV.

I was never a HUGE Ghost Hunters fan, but I've watched my fair share of episodes over the years and loosely follow their work. I do respect the team for their contributions to paranormal research...which is why I felt the need to point out a huge problem with today's meme, lol. Yeah, Scooby and the Gang could wrap up a case in less than 30 minutes...but there was a reason for that. In Scooby, the bad guy was always a shady real estate developer, a group of smugglers, or a disgruntled family member left out of a will. The mysteries were solvable because there was a rational explanation.

TAPS may have never 'caught a ghost,' but maybe because what they're actually investigating cannot be caught. They've amassed some interesting potential evidence over the years, but if something is truly paranormal, by its very definition, it cannot be explained. Or, maybe...there are no ghosts to catch? Just something to think about this week.....

Monday, May 16, 2016

Monday Meme: Haunted Homes

Happy Monday, everyone! I thought I would try something new this month: The Monday Meme! I often see memes and infographics shared around social media that I just HAVE to make a comment about (usually a snarky one)...so I thought I might as well share them here! I get to loudly voice my opinions and create new content for the blog, all at the same time!

The first victim in my little experiment is this infographic by Trulia, listing the top 10 places to find haunted homes, based on how many homes in an area are "both old and vacant." Not only does this list focus solely on the east coast (with the exception of Detroit), this is like, the worst way to gauge a 'haunted home.'

Come on! "Old and abandoned" does not equate to 'haunted.' This would have been just as, if not MORE accurate, if it was titled Top 10 Places to Find a Meth Lab or Top 10 Places to Find Squatters in a Flop House. At best, this is VERY overgeneralized information, and at worst, it is sheer misinformation. Don't perpetuate or spread this type of bad information---if you're looking for haunted location, try my blog, Unconventional Haunts, instead! 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Catman's Grave, Delaware


At the end of an old dirt road in Frankfort, Delaware, there sits an old cemetery, with burials dating back to the early 1800s. If you're lucky enough to find this elusive spot, you've found the site of Catman's Grave.

Urban legend states that the cemetery was once looked after by a caretaker with strange, cat-like features known as Catman. Catman lived in a nearby home and didn't take too kindly to the local teenagers who would come to the secluded spot, spending much of his time running them off. When he died, he was interred in an above-ground crypt in the cemetery....and apparently kept up with his caretaking duties, even in death!

According to one commentator on the StrangeUSA site, the tomb in which he was said to be interred was torn down in 1994 at the request of the family (due to threats of vandalism), and the four people who claimed it as their final resting spot were given regular in-ground burials. However, those who claim to have seen the crypt before it was taken down claim that the inside was marked by strange scratches....like the kind made by a cat's claws.

Although the crypt is no more, Catman still makes his presence known in the cemetery. There is apparently the remains of a brick wall towards the back of the cemetery. It is believed that those who knock on this wall three times will summon Catman, who, in retaliation, will cause the visitor's car to stall, fail to start, or a host of similar problems.

If you choose to visit this location, please do so respectfully...and gain permission if you wish to actively investigate. This cemetery, while known in ghost hunting circles as Catman's Grave, is actually the Colonel Armwell Long Cemetery. Armwell Long served with George Washington in the Revolutionary War. When he died in 1834, he joined his wife, a son, and several other relatives in their small, family plot. However, plans were soon made to turn the burial ground, as well as the surrounding lands owned by the Layton family, into a large, public cemetery in Armwell's memory, with him being cited as the new cemetery's first official burial. Today, the cemetery sits off of a private road, which is interestly just off Route 401,  known locally as Catman's Road. It is unclear whether or not the road was named that before or after the legends of Catman took root, lol.

Haunted Places

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Motherhood and the Grave of Zona Heaster Shue

Happy Mother's Day from Theresa's Haunted History of the Tri-State!

If you follow my Facebook page, you've definitely seen this photo. It's been my banner photo for just about the entire time I've maintained this page. And, if you're familiar with West Virginia ghost lore, you probably know a little about the grave pictured. But...how is that all related to motherhood and why did I choose it as the focus of my Mother's Day post? For a few reasons...

Firstly, the story of the Greenbrier Ghost, while tragic, tells a beautiful tale between the bond between a mother and daughter that couldn't be broken, even in death. The story has been shared so many times, that I could never do it justice. However, the basic story goes as follows:  When young bride, Zona Heaster Shue, was found dead under mysterious circumstances, most people suspected her husband. However, it would take the convincing of her mother, who received several signs and then later dreamed that Zona came to her and told her that she was murdered, to bring a conviction.

Whether or not the mother actually received psychic messages or had her daughter come to her in dreams, the fact remains that she was astute enough to take her suspicions and make someone listen to her. You can read the whole story here: The Greenbrier Ghost

Secondly, this photo means 'motherhood' to me on  a very personal level. It was taken during the summer of 2009. My mother, who has always supported my love of all things paranormal, and I went in search of the elusive grave of Zona, the Greenbrier Ghost. We had easily found the highway marker, but could NOT find the cemetery anywhere, lol. We drove around for a couple of hours down the creepiest, most desolate country roads, desperately trying to follow the flimsy directions I had found. It was actually a lot of fun, and gave me and my mom an excellent opportunity to spend the whole day together.

Further...you can't tell since I'm crouching down behind the stone...but this photo also shows my own journey into motherhood. I am about six months pregnant with my one and only son, Luke!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Ouija Funnies

Friday Night Funny time! I've seen this and similar memes all over social media lately. True story: when I was about 7 or 8, I actually DID try to summon the devil, just to see if I could. My plans were to try to call him out, offer up my soul, and then back out at the last minute. I wanted to see if it would actually work and he'd show up. He didn't. That started a long, long process of realizing that the religious beliefs I had been taught at an early age were necessarily....accurate, lol. I was a really weird kid.

Anyway, I didn't use a Ouija Board to try to summon the devil that time...but I do have another hilarious Ouija story. When I was about 12, my 11 year old step-sister, her best friend, and I were sitting around her bedroom and decided to contact the spirit world. This was in the middle of the day in the heat of summer, but we turned off the lights, blocked out the windows with blankets, and lit a few candles. 

I was getting bored with the lack of movement from the board, and I apparently got a little distracted. I guess I was sitting there sort of glassy eyed, daydreaming, when I heard my step-sister start shrieking. She jumped up and ran out of the room, which of course caused me and her best friend to also start shrieking and run out after her. Somewhere along the line the candles got knocked over. Luckily, we didn't set the house on fire, but we did leave a HUGE red wax stain in the carpet that we got in big trouble over. 

But what caused all this? My step-sister mistook my glassy-eyed daydream look for one of a possessed individual. The reflection of the flames of the candle flickering in my eyes were the last straw and she freaked out. So yeah...I don't recommend children playing with these. But, if you'd like to hear more of my thoughts on the Ouija Board you can check out my article below:

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Unconventional Haunts

Greetings my unconventional conventionists! (Bonus points if you got that reference!) Today's post is all about the unconventional---specifically, unconventional places that seem to have a high concentration of hauntings!

Come find me!
Now, I'm a firm believer that any location has the potential to be haunted and there are definitely some places in particular where it is pretty much assumed some type of activity is going to occur. These places, which can be found on multiple lists throughout different paranormal books and websites, usually include hospitals, asylums, schools, theaters, battlefields, cemeteries, mansions, hotels, and prisons/jails. More in-depth lists also tend to include places such as museums, churches, historic sites, train depots and railroad tracks, tunnels, forests, and roads.

These are all great places, many of which live up to their haunted reputations...but sometimes I find it a little boring always writing about the SAME types of places on here over and over again. I love a good night's stay in a haunted hotel, or investigating one of the many jails/prisons that embrace their haunted history with public hunts...but I'm all about the unusual. That's why I decided to take a look at some locations that definitely seem to have more than their fair share of ghost stories, but that don't necessarily fit the classic mold of what a haunted location should be. In no particular order:

Unconventional Haunted Locations

1. Lighthouses---I'm really suprised that lighthouses don't make the cut on these routine lists more often, because seriously, I cannot think of a single lighthouse that DOESN'T have some type of ghost story attached! But why are lighthouses so haunted? Could it be that their shape or close proximity to salt water channels and funnels energy in a unique way? Are they influenced by area shipwrecks and drownings that they could not prevent? Or is it because a lighthouse keeper devotes his entire life to spending every waking moment, desperately tending to the lighthouse, keeping it going and protecting so many that even death cannot break that commitment? Whatever the cause, there are enough haunted lighthouses in the world to warrant a whole website devoted to the phenomena. Check it out at: Haunted Lighthouses

2. Any bridge in Ohio---If you have never heard of a Crybaby Bridge, you are NOT from Ohio, lol. Bridges tend to be hot spots of potential paranormal activity, but many of the stories are nothing but simple urban legends, including the phenomenon of Crybaby Bridges. Usually, these stories are pretty similar---a scorned woman kills herself and/or her baby by jumping off a bridge. If you stop your car on the bridge, you can hear crying and splashing, see lights, and if you're lucky, your car might even stall or be pushed by unseen hands! Crybaby Bridges are so prevalent in Ohio that they now have their own website. The Crybaby Bridge Project seeks to document these, and separate the legends from any grains of truth that might be buried within.

3. Zoos---More and more I've been seeing stories about haunted zoos.The bond between humans and animals is a complex one, and one that isn't always good. I think that complexity of emotions contributes heavily to why so many zoos are starting to develop a reputation for being haunted. Two examples you can find on Theresa's Haunted History include the phantom lioness of the Cincinnati Zoo and the tale of a murdered zookeeper of Houston Zoo.

4. Bowling Alleys---I have no real theory as to why more and more bowling alleys are coming forward with their ghost stories, but there doesn't seem to be any set reason why. Is it the infrasound involved in the machinary and crashing of bowling balls, or is it just simply history? Two examples can be found on this blog, Colonial Lanes in Huntington, WV,  where an employee was murdered years ago, and Kentucky's Rose Bowl Lanes, built atop the site of a deadly accident.

5. Apartment Buildings---Out of all the different types of residential dwellings, apartment buildings tend to be the most haunted. Just like hotels, you've got a high turnover rate. Most people outside of really big cities see apartments as temporary, so there are a LOT of different people with a lot of different energies coming and going. Unfortunately, apartment buildings are often the victims of some negative stereotypes. Apartment living is cheaper, its seen as a temporary living situation, and since the occupant doesn't actually OWN the space, there is often a distinct lack in pride of ownership and individualization.  Those traits tend to attract negative, and even dangerous activities, such as drug use. And, as part of life, deaths also will occur in apartments. Unfortunately, apartments are notoriously difficult to investigate. Sounds, smells, and other signs of a haunting could simply be neighbors nearby....and trying to get the records as to who actually rented the individual apartment in a larger complex is frustrating and sometimes impossible.

6. Amusement Parks---If I have to become a ghost, I'd love to haunt an amusement park! Of course, you have amusement parks where sudden, tragic deaths have occurred, and you've got amusement parks that were built atop land with a storied history...but when it boils down to it, couldn't some of these hauntings simply be people wanting to hang onto a good time? Two of my favorite haunted amusement parks in this area are of course, Kings Island, with its multiple ghosts, and Huntington's Camden Park, where Native Americans, spooky feelings of being watched, and a woman in a polka dot dress still rule the grounds.

7. Antique Stores---If you believe that objects can be haunted, cursed, or hold attachments, then the idea of haunted antique stores makes perfect sense! There are a LOT of very personal, and very OLD items that pass through the walls of these stores, each with a story to tell. As a bonus, many antique stores are located in old, historic homes and buildings! I have had the pleasure of investigating a local antique store, which wishes to remain anonymous, but you can find other stories about the Greater Columbus Antique Mall and Nevada's Dake House antique store right here on my blog!

8. Libraries and Bookstores---Here's another place I'd LOVE to spend my eternity! Reading and collecting books is a huge part of my life, and it's a love I share with a lot of other people. And, similar to antique stores, books are objects that can hold attachments, and stores and libraries can often hold a history all of their own. Here are a few bookish haunts you can find at Theresa's Haunted History: Portsmouth Ohio Public Library and WV's Kingwood Library.

9. Courthouses---I'm convinced that West Virginia has more haunted county courthouses than any other state! But why are courthouses so haunted? Many of our county courthouses are historic buildings, making their way onto the National Register of Historic Places, so plenty of years have passed in which to pick up a ghost or two! Plus, courthouses were often where the local jail was located and sometimes the site of local executions. There are literally so many haunted courthouses in West Virginia alone that I'm just going to share the Haunted WV link and let you browse for yourselves if you'd like more info!

10. Retail Stores---It seems weird that a modern retail chain store would be haunted, but again, I firmly believe that ANY place has the potential to have paranormal activity. I actually used to work at a haunted Dollar Tree! We'd have stuff fly off the shelves right in front of us, vacuums would seemingly unplug themselves, and we'd chase phantom shoppers through the aisles after closing. Unless there is some sort of strange incident connected with the store itself, most of these hauntings seem tied to the land the modern store was built atop. This is the case with the Toys R Us ghost and WV's own haunted Kmart.

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Lockdown: My Paranormal Pet Peeve

Okay, so I'm sure today's post won't sit well with everyone out there in the paranormal investigation community. Please keep in mind that this is just my opinion and my personal preference. I don't have anything against those who engage in this; we're all in this field for different reasons, and we all have different ways of doing things. And with that, here we go...

Many times on paranormal social media pages, you'll see interactive questions asked of viewers. A popular choice of question is always, "What is your biggest paranormal pet peeve?" Such a question will often illicit some pretty universal replies, such as provoking of spirits, not gaining proper permission to be at a location, investigators being too quick to call something paranormal, and other infractions that deter from the scientific integrity and professionalism of this field. Those are all great answers, and I agree. However, my answer is almost always the same.

My biggest paranormal pet peeve is when people use the term 'lockdown' in place of 'investigation!'

I'd rather see 'ghost hunt' used over 'lockdown' any day of the week, and even thought it seems like such a trivial thing, it just irks me, lol. Here's why:

1. For starters, this bit of phrasing didn't enter the vernacular until Ghost Adventures first aired, and Zak became an instant para-celeb. If you are using this terminology, that gives me the impression that you're emulating this group and the way they conduct their research and investigations. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I've been in this field long enough to spot a red flag or two. If you're naming your investigations 'lockdowns,' because that's what Zak does, chances are you are doing some of the other things that Zak does that just aren't examples of good, scientific and ethical investigating. I've even seen a few people who have obviously learned EVERYTHING they know about paranormal investigation from this particular show, never having cracked open a book, shadowed another group, or researched the field through any other means.

2. Secondly...are you REALLY locking yourself down? Are you physically locking, from the outside, all exits from the building you're investigating? Are you locking yourself in from the inside? If you aren't, then is it really a LOCKDOWN?

3. If you are actually locking yourself down, you have to ask yourself WHY? What is the purpose, and is it beneficial for my goal in this investigation? I do understand that security can be an issue, especially during the filming of a television show with popular para-celebrities. Even we little people run the risk of unwanted visitors coming onto a site and contaminating our potential evidence, but I've personally never had to resort to chaining myself into a location. Why?

4. Because it is SO unsafe. I absolutely hate the fact that they actually show Zak and the gang being locked in from the outside. If there is a fire, or if someone needs medical attention, I want to be able to quickly get the help needed. And, I don't want to put the client/owner of the property in a difficult liability situation if something goes wrong and I and my team are injured or worse because we couldn't get out of a building.

5. If you're 'locking down' as a means to show that you have no fear of a location, you might want to find another way to get your thrills. If you have to prove what a badass you are, you're not devoting your time, energy and resources into what really matters during an investigation: finding answers.

I know my words seem a little harsh, but again, I'm really not trying to judge (too harshly, any way, lol!) anyone who is guilty of this behavior. I would just like to encourage everyone out there to examine their own investigation style and philosophy. Ask WHY do I do things this way...and is there a better way? In a field as dynamic as the paranormal investigation field, there are very few absolutes and plenty of room for growth and improvement.

Hop on over to Facebook to let me know where YOU stand on the lockdown debate!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Theresa's Top Links for April

As a new month starts, I thought I'd post something I haven't posted in awhile---a link roundup! Get settled in, and be prepared to check out some awesome websites, Facebook groups, and radio shows that deserve a special shout out!

First up...Several weeks ago, I was honored to be asked to participate in a round table discussion on Paraversal Universe Radio concerning the topic of the most haunted locations in the world! I joined hosts Jennifer Scelsi and Kevin Malek, as well as Jason Bland from Paranormal Soup and Gavin Lee Davies of the Paranormal Chronicles, in a spirited discussion about some REALLY awesome places around the world. If you missed the show, you can find it in the archives, and please check out the websites of Paraversal Universe, hosted by the Paranormal King Radio Network, as well as those of my co-guests, below! 

April was also the month of my least favorite holiday when it comes to the paranormal world---April Fool's Day! There weren't too many new hoaxes popping up, but I was ready for them all with the help of a few websites!

8. Ghost App Ghosts: This Facebook page has an awesome collection of ghost app images, both menu screen captures, and examples of the images actually being used. If you have ANY reason to believe that a photo apparition might be a ghost app, consult this page! I check it, probably at least once a day. If you are a paranormal investigator or researcher, you need to familiarize yourself with this extensive database. 

9. The Museum of Hoaxes: An excellent website devoted to exposing the truth. If you see a photograph or story that seems too strange to be true, it probably is...and its probably featured on the Museum of Hoaxes.