Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hauntings: Orphanage at Gettysburg

Orphanage at Gettysburg (Pennsylvania)

After the Civil War, many orphanages were opened around the country to take care of children whose parents died in the war.  One opened in Gettysburg and was run for many years by  Phelinda Humiston.  When she retired, she left the children in the care of a woman named Rosa Carmichael.  However, Rosa was a merciless sadist who beat the children, imprisoned them in the basement for days, and even killed some of them.

One young girl escaped and told others of her experiences at the orphanage, which included being beaten by teenage boys, who Rosa armed with sticks, and being tied to a fence in the hot sun until she suffered serious burns.  When the house searched, it was found to be full of torture devices, and the basement had been converted into a dungeon where children were shackled to the walls and left to starve.

Today, the house is the Soldiers National Museum, but the dungeon was kept as it was in the 1870s -- the shackles can still be seen in the basement and many of the other artifacts from Rosa Carmichael's time there are on display.

Visitors have reported hearing children crying or moaning and feeling invisible little hands tugging on their clothes.  Photos come out with strange white streaks on them, and sound recordings with e.v.p.s (electronic voice phenomena) have been made.





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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Hauntings: Newstead Abbey


Newstead Abbey (UK)

Newstead Abbey was originally built in the 12th century as a priory for Augustine monks. In the 1530s, King Henry VIII broke with the Catholic church and the monks were kicked out. The priory was bought in 1540 by Sir John Byron—an ancestor of Lord Byron, the famous poet—and that began the first of 300 years of Byrons in Newstead Abbey.  
 
The Curse  According to an old superstition, people become cursed and have bad luck if a religious home is used as a private residence.  Several generations of the Byron family experienced bad luck and declining fortunes. By the time the last Lord Byron—the famous poet—lived at the abbey, it was in decrepit shape. Byron was forced to sell the property, and Thomas Wildman bought it. The curse affected the Wildman family too, and several more families that owned the property in later years were also plagued by bad luck. 

Along with the curse, ghosts haunt the abbey.

The “White Lady” ghost Sophia Hyett, a great fan of Byron’s poetry, lived near the Abbey.  The Wildman family gave her permission to roam their gardens whenever she liked.  Even after her death, people have reported seeing Sophia’s ghost, and she’s always dressed in white.

The Goblin Friar or the Black Friar This spirit presages doom.  He only appeared to heads of the Byron family just before something bad happened.  On the day Lord Byron married Anne Milbanke, he saw the Friar’s ghost.  The marriage turned out to be a disaster that lasted for only one year.  Lord Byron wrote about his encounter with the Goblin Friar in the poem “Don Juan.”

Boatswain’s ghost Lord Byron had a pet dog, a Newfoundland called Boatswain.  When the dog died, he was buried at Newstead, and one of Byron’s last wishes was to be buried with his beloved pet.  However, when Byron died in 1824, he was buried at the famous and prestigious Westminster Abbey.  It’s said that the ghost of the big Newfoundland dog wanders Newstead, looking for his master.

The “Rose Lady” This ghost is often seen at the bottom of staircase and is always accompanied by the scent of roses that lingers after she disappearsOne notable appearance she made was in front of a group of tourists.  The tourists were frightened, and the staff believe this was done as a protest by the Rose Lady because tour leaders hadn’t included her story in the tour.  Now, she's always mentioned, and she’s been seen less often.

The Legend of the Rooks Rooks (crows) live on the property by the hundreds.  It’s believed they're the souls of the monks who once lived at the abbey.  American author Washington Irving stayed there and reported he saw all the rooks leaving in the mornings to search for food and then returning every nightfall.  They did this every day, Monday through Saturday
except Sundays, when they remained roosting in their nests as if it's their "day of rest."  The locals are so sure the rooks are the former monks that hunting or shooting them is forbidden.




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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hauntings: Moss Beach Distillery


Moss Beach Distillery (California)

The Moss Beach Distillery (Moss Beach, CA) first opened in 1927 as "Frank's Place"      a speakeasy frequented by movie stars, politicians, and gangsters.
 

Although the property has changed hands many times, the ghostly presence of the “Lady in Blue”persists.  Legend has it that in the 1930s, a beautiful, local housewife who loved to wear blue dresses had an affair with a piano player and often met him on a nearby beach.  Later, she was murdered on the beach, and her spirit has been glimpsed wandering the beach and the cliffs above, some say still searching for her lover.

The Lady in Blue also appears in the Distillery (now a restaurant). She's a melancholy and gentle spirit, more given to playing tricks than scaring people. Some of her more playful acts have been:

~  In the mid 80s, the Distillery’s wine storage was in a room with one door and no windows. One night, a waiter looking for wine couldn’t push the door open. After calling others to help, their combined weight managed to get the door far enough for one man to slip through the gap. He found all the wine crates in the room had been stacked up against the door. But no one could have done it and then gotten out through the door—the only exit.
~  The Lady is fond of locking and unlocking doors, turning on faucets and showers, and moving furniture around in the middle of the night. After hours, her footsteps were so often heard walking around the dining room that the owners finally carpeted the floor.
~  Children have reportedly been warned away from the edges of cliffs by a lady dressed in blue.
~  The oddest incident happened when the restaurant’s computer system began showing all dates as 1927 no matter how many times the software was re-booted or the date was changed manually. It was 1927 when the business first opened as "Frank's Place."





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