In My Commonplace Book: A Ghost Writer, Literally

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In Bag of Bones, Stephen King writes “The muses are ghosts, and sometimes they come uninvited.” In this case I share today, the disembodied muse was very much invited, through means of the Ouija board. This is the story of the spirit Patience Worth and her earthly transcriber Pearl Lenore Curran.

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Pearl Curran

I came across this story on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries. You can watch the episode here (the Patience Worth segment is at the 23:39 mark). Anyway, onto the story…

Many of the sources I came across portrayed Pearl Lenore Curran (1883-1937) as a rather basic woman with less than average intelligence. While she never fulfilled her dreams of becoming a singer, this housewife began her journey into stardom on July 8, 1913 when she received a message through the Ouija board.

Many moons ago I lived. Again I come—Patience Worth my name.

From that point on, Pearl began to receive words, messages, and prose from beyond. At first she had to use the Ouija board, but soon the words would appear without the use of ritual.

Patience Worth’s spirit came into this world when spiritualism provided unique power to women and was accepted by many (one notable example is Arthur Conan Doyle). Yet, it was under the scrutiny of science and Houdini. Nevertheless, this was an opportune time for a woman and a disembodied voice to make a splash in the literary world.

Together, Patience and Pearl wrote several novels (The Sorry Tale, Telka, Hope Trueblood, The Pot Upon the Wheel, Samuel Wheaton, An Elisebethan Mask), short stories, and poems. Their work received positive reviews. As Smithsonian Magazine writes:

“Patience Worth[’s] messages out of the darkness never sink to the commonplace level, but always show high intelligence and sometimes are even tipped with the flame of genius,” said the New York Times, echoing other newspaper reviews across the country.

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My commonplace book entry

While many found the literature of Pearl and Patience remarkable, other literary critics and scientists thought it was unimaginative and/or a fraud. Several psychologists and scientific researchers studied the phenomenon. Was Pearl smarter than she was putting off? Who was really writing this material? Is there life after death?

While I could go on all day about this, there are already two excellent articles (below) that go into great detail about Patience and Pearl.  I have also included some works by Pearl and Patience (maybe you can decide their literary worth). I recommend reading/browsing through them and writing notes in your own commonplace book!

I’d like to, though, finish with the death of Pearl Curran. It is a very curious story. The last (documented) communication with Pearl was November 25, 1937. Pearl told her friend Dotsie:

Oh Dotsie, Patience has just shown me the end of the road and you will have to carry on as best you can. 

Pearl died shortly after: December 3, 1937.

 

Additional Reading (Free Online)

The Public Domain Review, “Ghostwriter and Ghost: The Strange Case of Pearl Curran & Patience Worth”

Smithsonian, “Patience Worth: Author from the Great Beyond”

 

Works Published About Pearl During Her Life (Free Online)

Casper Yost’s Patience Worth: a Psychic Mystery (1916)

Walter Franklin Prince’s The case of Patience Worth; a critical study of certain unusual phenomena (1927) 

 

Pearl/Patience’s Works (Free Online)

A Sorry Tale (1917)

Hope Trueblood (1918)

The Pot upon the Wheel (1921)

Telka (1928)

Some selected poems 

 

In My Commonplace Book: Two Mausoleums and a Bottle of Wine

IMG-8001I was recently invited to a friend’s home on a Wine Wednesday to share some ghost stories . She thought a live version of my #humpdayhaunts series (on Instagram) would pair well with wine.

This was my first time being a “guest speaker” on a paranormal subject, so I was very anxious! I decided to narrow down my subject to Indiana ghost stories. I also used the opportunity to find new material. For a few nights, I put aside time to fill my commonplace book with Hoosier folklore.

The night of the event, I came equipped with homemade bookmarks, zines on Haunted Indiana bridges, my commonplace book, and pictures for my “presentation.” I thought if I bored them to death, I could at least send them home with some goods.

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I shared about five ghost stories with two focused on mausoleums (because I love a haunted mausoleum). Funny enough, both haunted mausoleums are located in Highland Lawn Cemetery in Terre Haute, IN (which I’ve added to my cemetery bucket list).

Well, I’ll get to it…

Sheets Mausoleum

So, there was a wealthy businessman named Martin Sheets who lived in Terre Haute in the 1900s. Martin had an intense fear of being buried alive. He had a reoccurring dream that he was unable to move or scream when the doctor pronounced him dead, and he then regained consciousness in a coffin deep in the dirt. Luckily, Martin had some money to insure this did not happen.

Martin first had a coffin custom made with latches on the inside, so he could easily open his coffin. To make sure he didn’t have the pressure of dirt on his coffin lid, he had a mausoleum built. Lastly, he had a phone installed in the mausoleum that could make calls to the cemetery’s main office. Imagine getting that call: “Hi, y’all. It’s Martin. Can you come get me? I seem to have been buried alive.”

In 1910, Marin died and was placed in his mausoleum. The phone connected to the cemetery office until they got a new phone system, but they did keep the phone connected and active (it was in his will and paid for after all).

Several years later, Martin’s wife passed. She was found dead in her home, clutching her telephone tightly. Family members assumed she was calling for help. They held a funeral and prepared her to join her deceased husband in the mausoleum.

When cemetery workers went to place her coffin in the mausoleum, nothing seemed unusual or out of place…except that the phone was off the hook and hanging from the wall…

Did Martin call his wife from beyond the grave?

Heinl Mausoleum and Stiffy Green

In 1920, an elderly man named John Heinl passed away. The citizens of Terre Haute liked him very much, but his dog loved him the most. Wherever John went, so did the dog. Everyone in town called the dog “Stiffy Green,” because he had green eyes and walked with a stiff leg.

When John died, he was placed in a mausoleum and Stiffy Green was placed with a friend. The mournful dog would run away often and was always found on the steps of his deceased owner’s mausoleum. Eventually, everyone decided it would be best if Stiffy Green just became a cemetery dog.

Stiffy spent the end of his days in the cemetery and, when he passed away, was stuffed and placed next to the tomb of his owner.

Several months after Stiffy Green’s death, the cemetery caretaker heard a dog barking on the way to his car. He instantly recognized it as Stiffy Green’s bark and it was coming from the direction of John’s mausoleum. People also reported seeing the figure of an old man strolling the cemetery with a small phantom bulldog following along.

Both stories are some fun Indiana folklore. Please note there are multiple versions of each story and some details have been proven false over time. But, I’m not here to ruin a perfectly good story. 

In My Commonplace Book: The Stone-Throwing Devil

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This past week, I have been filling my commonplace book with eclipse folklore, my favorite #FolkloreThursday tweets, creepy dolls, and some new ghost stories. I had an especially fun time writing about The Stone-Throwing Devil of Great Island, New Hampshire.

George Walton, a wealthy landowner, and his family were tormented by an invisible force from May to August in 1682.

One Sunday night in May (about 10 PM), the Walton household heard loud pounding on their roof. George and several others went outside to investigate, only finding that the fence gate was taken off its hinges. Then, they were pelted by stones thrown by an unseen source. After running back inside, they witnessed rocks being thrown at the window and falling through the ceiling. This went on for several hours.

The next day, servants noticed there were many objects missing from the house. During their investigation, they found some of the household objects in the yard and other odd places. Stones also continued to drop from the ceiling and down the chimney. A black cat was seen in the orchard and everyone started to speculate it could be witchcraft.

That night the stone throwing continued. A hand was even seen thrusting out from a hall window and dropping stones on the porch.

Then, on June 28th, the stone throwing got intense. During supper, rocks fell onto the family while they ate. The dining table was smashed into pieces.

The rock throwing continued and sometimes stones were up to 30 pounds! George Walton was pelted by so many stones that he suffered from chronic pain the rest of his life.

The witch suspected of this aggressive behavior? It was an elderly neighbor woman that lost land during a feud with George Walton. After he took her land, she was heard saying he would “never enjoy that piece of Ground.” George and company believed this was clearly a curse.

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I drew some spilled urine.

So, George Walton though he’d fight witchcraft with witchcraft. With the guidance of a witch expert, George decided to cast a spell on his neighbor. This involved boiling urine and crooked pins in a pot. Before the pot could boil, though, a rock fell from the ceiling and knocked the pot’s contents all over the floor. He tried it again; more spilled urine. Then the handles fell off and the pot split into pieces.

The stone throwing continued.

George ended up lodging a complaint against his neighbor with the council in Portsmouth.  The council’s decision is unknown. We do know George was hit by rocks on the way to the hearing.

This story is documented by various sources, including a first-hand account by a Richard Chamberlain, which you can read HERE.

During my research, I learned the term lithoboly or a mysterious hail or rain of stones that pelt victims and property and is usually caused by witchcraft or demons. I added the term to my glossary page for future reference. Side note: you might keep a glossary in the back of your commonplace book.

Source: Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits. 1992.


Commonplace book exercise for this week: Find a historical account of someone allegedly attacked by witchcraft. Maybe you might find some accounts on archive.org? Like the story I shared above? You might read and write about The Bell Witch.

A Hoosier Ghost Story with a Pun

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I have been thoroughly engrossed with the 1980 book Indiana Folklore: A Reader from Indiana University Press (edited by Linda Dégh). In this book, I came across the most suspenseful ghost story and just had to share it.

Three teenage boys stumbled across a haunted house on their way to another friend’s giphy (5)house. The boys began poking fun at each other, saying the other two were not brave enough to go inside. Eventually, after the teasing had died down, they agreed to spend the night in the haunted house together. The next night, the boys packed a lantern, bed-rolls, soft drinks, and a riffle and walked towards the house.

While making themselves (somewhat) comfortable in the haunted house, they heard a noise downstairs. The sound was a loud scratching noise, like something was being dragged across a cement floor.

The teenagers headed downstairs with their rifle and lantern. They heard the noise coming from the furthest corner of the room. The boy with the lantern turned his light towards the sound and saw a coffin, standing and scooting itself unassisted across the floor. The coffin kept getting closer and closer. And closer. The coffin after some time was three feet away from the boys. One of the boys decided to stop this scary coffin.

Can you guess how he stopped the coffin? 

Well, he reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a Smith Brothers cough drop and took it; and he stopped that COFFIN for the time being, so the boys were saved. 

Get it? 🙂


Italics are direct quotes (because I didn’t want to ruin the pun) and the story was shared in the chapter “The Walking Coffin” by William M. Clements. // Photo by Ksenia Makagonova on Unsplash

The Chain on the Tombstone

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Today I wanted to share another piece of Indiana folklore: the chain on the tombstone.

In Bonds Chapel Cemetery (Orange County, Indiana) sits a gravestone that reads “Floyd E. Pruett, 1894-1920.” On the side of the stone is the ghostly appearance of a chain. Many argue the chain developed over time and the number of links continue to grow in number. The chain has been the topic of speculation for quite some time.

Folklore scholar William M. Clements interviewed Terry, an “expert” on this tombstone, in 1968. Terry explained the tombstone’s unusual appearance.

Well, the tombstone itself isn’t unusual. I mean, it’s a small tombstone; but when you get up close, you can see what appears to be a chain. And small links of a chain look maybe engraved in the tombstone to form a cross […] sometimes there’ll be seven or eight; sometimes there’ll be up to fifteen or sixteen. And, well nobody knows why it changes. Some people think maybe it’s the weather and something in the stone itself; and other people just think it’s psy…(whistle) supernatural. (from Indiana Folklore: A Reader, 1980)

A chain, huh? According to S.E. Schlosser (Spooky Indiana, 2012), legend says Pruett died by a cursed chain. He had killed his wife with a logger chain (he was a logger) and, before her dying breathe, she put a curse on her husband. A few days later, a chain broke loose from a timber wagon, whipped in the air, and snapped the man’s neck. Some legends say it was the same chain he used to kills his wife. If you touch the chain today, you will be killed by a chain. This is just one of many versions of the story, though.

For example, a more romantic version has been posted on hauntedplaces.org. A user writes:

He was killed in battle, and his girlfriend stood across the road, watching his burial from afar. Some say her ghost to this day still awaits his return. The chain is said to grow [edited from groe] one link longer every year, symbolizing her growing love for him, and it is said to glow at night. An apparition in a black dress can be seen standing on the other side of the road.

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Image Source: Angelfire

But, Clements interviewed a grocer who remembered Pruett died from tuberculosis, and that the mysterious chain was probably the result of a rusty chain that had come in contact with the stone in the quarry. Another informant gave a similar explanation for the chain mark and Pruett’s death.

Clements concluded that “a legend has been created among the youth of several southern Indiana counties in order to explain a physical phenomenon as well as to provide a supernatural ‘thrill’ as an escape from boredom” (264).

Pruett most definitely died of usual circumstances and was unfortunately given an unusual gravestone. How did the story start? I don’t know. It is interesting to see the various explanations for the chain, from the believable to the wild. But, let us remember to see past the legend and acknowledge he is a person. 

Want to hear more locals (of the past) tell their version of the story? Read more here.

Update. There’s a similar story about a Carl Pruitt in Kentucky. Same last name but different spelling. Weird right?

The Hoosier Bloody Mary

ryan-holloway-168913What version of Bloody Mary were you told as a child? There’s Mary. There’s a mirror. There’s the risk of a bloody end. But, what words did you utter (and how many times)? What origin story were you told? Who was the real Bloody Mary? Mary Worth? Mary Weatherby? Mary Worthington? Mary Lou? 

The ritual and biography of Bloody Mary has variations, and my favorite origin story begins at a farm in Lake County, Indiana with a young girl named Mary Whales.


Sometime during the 19th Century, there lived a belligerent farmer named Old Man Whales. Old Man Whales supplemented his farm income by catching and selling runaway slaves. An evil man, he only loved himself and his wife Virginia.

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This story is adapted from S.E. Schlosser’s Spooky Indiana. This is my favorite book on Indiana folklore and hauntings. Highly recommend: beautiful writing style and illustrations.

After the Civil War, Old Man Whales’ life crumbled around him. He lost income from his nefarious business and his wife died during childbirth.

But, Virginia left a beautiful gift on this earth: Mary.

Old Man Whales hated Mary. She represented the cause of Virginia’s death. Mary, in blond curls and dressed in dirty rags, was kind and hardworking. While her dad drank himself to sleep, she did most of the housekeeping and chores. The only thing that brought her happiness were books. Books allowed her to escape that small farm in Lake County.

One night, Old Man Whales came home especially drunk and angry. He marched into Mary’s room while she slept and stabbed her to death with the same knife he used to slaughter pigs. Her screams could not save her. He left her bloody body in the bed with her head nearly severed. He went to bed, proud of his work.

The next morning, Old Man Whales took her body and buried her in the basement. He thought it was the last he would see of his daughter. As these things go, it would not be.

Two nights later, Old Man Whales entered the house after doing his evening chores. Standing in the kitchen was Mary, smiling through a “knife-split mouth.” Her head dangled off her neck and pool of blood surrounded her feet. “Ffffaaaatttthhherrr…” she hissed, running towards him. He ran out of the house and spent the night in the barn.

The next day, Old Man Whales returned to the house and saw no signs of last night’s bloody incident. He blamed the alcohol and went about his life. A week later, as he read the newspaper next to the fire, Mary appeared again. She sat across the room from him, with her dress covered in blood and head moving about. She flew towards him, clutching knitting needles like knives. Old Man Whales ran out of the house and into the barn. He looked at his back and his shirt was bloody with knife-like gashes.

thomas-shellberg-31280For days, Old Man Whales slept in the barn, but finally convinced himself that the image of his murdered daughter was just the whiskey. He decided to go back into the house one morning, clean up, and head into town.

When he looked into the mirror to start shaving, a face was peering back at him. Flesh fell from her pale face and through her sharp teeth Mary said, “Ffffaaaatttthhherrr.” Using her long nails she reached through the mirror and slapped Old Man Whales twice across the face. He fled again to the barn.

Old Man Whales thought he was safe in the barn, but heard a voice behind him: “”Ffffaaaatttthhherrr.” After he turned, she pointed to a noose hanging in the rafters. He began to climb up the ladder. The noose looked so welcoming…

In My Commonplace Book: Japanese Ghost Diseases

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As some of you know, I keep a commonplace book and it is the very reason I started this blog. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the concept or would like to learn more, I wrote about the brief history and use of commonplace books in Dirge Magazine.

I consider myself a lifelong learner and I am, like all of us living in a digital world, constantly bombarded with interesting information. The commonplace book provides a way to capture and reflect on the (spooky) things I learn everyday. My commonplace book is strictly about the occult, so I thought I might share what I’m writing about in it on the blog each week (Update: I know, I have not done so. But, expect it to pick up early August).

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This week, I filled my commonplace book with Japanese spirits that cause infection and diseases. 

Long ago in Japan, human illness was caused by tiny creatures that crawled into your body and wreaked havoc. According to one source I found, there was a book written in 1568 titled Harikikigaki (author unknown), which delineated 63 of these types of creatures and ways to fight them off with herbal remedies.

Another source and a favorite of mine provided details on these types of spirits (although not necessarily outlined in the book mentioned above). Yokai.com is an online encyclopedia on Japanese ghosts and demons with beautiful illustrations and detailed entries. You can easily get lost in there for hours.

I filled my commonplace book with notes from this site, and wanted to share the most interesting ghost disease I came across.

So, the GYŌCHŪ is a intestinal worm with six arms and red tongues. It is sexually transmitted and lives and breeds in the host’s sex organs. It reproduces on Kōshin night (from the ancient Kōshin religion), which occurs every 60 days. On these nights, the Gyōchū left the bodies of their hosts to visit the King of Hell (and Judge of the Damned). These worms were very gossipy and would tell the King all their host’s sins. The King of Hell would then punish hosts for their sins. To avoid having this gossipy worm in your body: don’t have sex on holy nights.

Commonplace book exercise for this week: Check out Yokai.com and take some notes on some of your favorite yokai. 

The Ghosts of Famous Musicians

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According to writer Edward Bulwer-Lytton, “Music, once admitted to the soul, becomes a sort of spirit, and never dies.” Imagine all the souls touched and all the spirits created in the hearts of fans of famous musicians. And, while their corporal bodies may lie underground (or in the the winds of Joshua Tree), their music is still touching new generations of souls and their sightings are constantly on repeat. The following are famous musicians that supposedly still walk the earth. While some of the stories are nonsensical, they speak to our attachment to music and our the immortality of musical legends.

Buddy Holly 

On February 3, 1959, a plane carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson crashed into a cornfield near Mason City, Iowa. The three men and pilot died instantly. Visitors to the crash site today have reported shadowy figures in the distance and the sound of music. If you walk towards the music, the shadows disappear.

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The ghost of Elvis is said to haunt various locations, including:

  • Old RCA Recording Studios (Tennessee). People have reported weird noises coming out of sound equipment, lights blowing out, objects being moved, and the apparition of The King himself.
  • Room 1016 of the Knickerbocker Hotel (Hollywood). Elvis stayed here when he filmed movies. Visitors and staff attribute the eerily cold room to his spirit.
  • Graceland (Memphis). There’s a couple photos circulating online that supposedly capture Elvis looking out the window.
  • Las Vegas Hilton. People have seen his spirit in the penthouse, the basement where he hung out with his band, and the elevator he used to avoid screaming fans.
  • The Ryman Auditorium (Nashville). Lisa Marie Presley claims she heard her father, Elvis, while there. After a performance at the theatre she went into her dressing room. The door was stuck and she could not get it open. Suddenly, she heard the distinct laugh of her father and the door opened.

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Fictional ghostbuster Dan Aykroyd believed the ghost of Mama Cass, of The Mamas & the Papas, haunted his previous house. She also had owned the house at some point and it served as the rehearsal location for California Dreaming.  He says a poltergeist got into bed with him, the Stairmaster was turned on, and jewelry was moved around on the dresser.

Kurt Cobain

Listen, a lot of people would love to kiss Kurt Cobain. A 20-something bar manager from Essex, England claims to have shared a digital kiss with Kurt Cobain in 2000. When browsing the internet late night, Kurt Cobain began to talk to the bar manager through her Compax Presario laptop and asked for a kiss. After an intimate kiss (y’all, I don’t know the logistics), her laptop broke and her digital, otherworldly romance with Cobain ended. I’m calling a big “nah” on this story; just some steamy fan fiction.

Eddie Hinton

The ghost of Eddie Hinton is said to haunt the famous recording studio Muscle Shoals in Alabama. From 1967 to 1971, Hinton played in the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section on records for artists such as Aretha Franklin, Elvis, and Otis Redding. People have reported the apparition of a man in a blue suit that many believe is Hinton, because he was buried in a blue suit. Musicians have also had unexplained equipment malfunctions.

Whitney Houston

The bond between child and parent can sometimes be complicated by, but not broken by, death. Whitney Houston passed when her daughter Bobbi Kristina was only 19. In an interview with Oprah, Bobbi Kristina said, “Throughout the house, lights turn on and off, and I’m like, ‘mum, what are you doing?’ I can still laugh with her and still talk to her. I can hear her voice telling me to ‘keep moving, baby, I’ve got you’. I can always feel her with me.”

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John Lennon has been seen around The Dakota in Manhattan, his home and the site of his death in 1980. Three years after his death Joey Harrow (musician) and Amanda Moores (writer) spotted Lennon near the location he was shot. He was surrounded by an eerie light. They were going to approach him, but the look on his face seemed to say “don’t come near me.” Yoko Ono also reported seeing Lennon sitting at a white piano at The Dakota. He said to her, “Don’t be afraid. I am still with you.” Side note: Before his death, John Lennon reported seeing a Crying Lady roaming the halls of The Dakota (it has quite the haunted history).

Another number of encounters happened with his old band mates. In 1995, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and Paul McCartney were in the studio recording “Free As A Bird.” Paul commented that he felt Lennon’s presence in the room: “There were a lot of strange goings-on in the studio—noises that shouldn’t have been and equipment doing all manner of weird things.” Later during a photo shoot for the album, a white peacock appeared from a neighboring yard. Paul felt this was the spirit of John Lennon coming to hang out to complete the album. He may have even made his presence known on the album itself. According to Paul: “We put one of those spoof backwards recordings on the end of the single for a laugh, to give all those Beatles nuts something to do […] Then we were listening to the finished single in the studio one night, and it gets to the end, and it goes ‘zzzwrk ngggwaaahh jooohn lennnnon qwwwrk.’ I swear to God” (Source).

Liberace

In the 80s, Liberace opened a restaurant off the Vegas strip called Liberace’s Tivoli Gardens (later changed to Carluccio’s Tivoli Gardens). Paranormal activity at the restaurant includes: cold spots near his piano, faucets turning on and off, unexplainable yellow mists in photographs, and bottles falling off shelves. Could this be the ghost of Liberace? I think this story needs more rhinestones before I can verify.

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In 1997, rock historian Brett Meisner took a picture in front of Jim Morrison’s grave at Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris. It was not until 2002 that he noticed a figure standing behind him: Jim Morrison? The ghost photo has been deemed “unexplainable” by researchers. What do you think?

Meisner says he regrets visiting the cemetery, because things have been weird ever since. After the picture was taken, his marriage fell apart and his friend died of an overdose. He has also been approached by people who claim to be haunted by Morrison: “At first it was sort of interesting to see how many people felt a spiritual bond with Jim and the photo, but now the whole vibe seems negative” (Source).

Gram Parsons

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The story of Gram Parsons’ death and burial is already pretty legendary. Parsons, of The Flying Burrito Brothers, overdosed while staying at Joshua Tree Inn in the California desert. His family wanted his body returned to Louisiana, but his manager and best friend Phil Kaufman knew otherwise. Kaufman says Parsons wanted his body burned on a funeral pyre in Joshua Tree. Kaufman and company stole Parsons’ body from LAX and performed the ritual he wanted (they were arrested, but fined only $750).

Parsons supposedly haunts Room 8 at Joshua Tree Inn, which is available for a spooky stay!

Sid Vicious

The historic Hotel Chelsea in New York has been a temporary home for many creative thinkers, artists, musicians, writers, designers since being build in the 1880s (Tennessee Williams, Mark Twain, Andy Warhol, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohenx, Jack Kerouac, Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, and Bob Dylan, and many more).  There have been several notable deaths at this location too: poet Dylan Thomas (Room 206 in 1953), writer Charles R. Jackson (1968), and Nancy Spungen (Room 100 in 1978).

Nancy was a figure of the 1970s punk rock scene and the girlfriend of Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious. Their relationship was full of excessive drug use and domestic abuse so, when she was found stabbed to death at The Chelsea, many believed Sid killed Nancy. He was arrested and charged with second degree murder, but died of an overdose while out on bail. Sid and Nancy are both said to haunt The Chelsea. In particular, people have seen Sid in the elevator.

Hank Williams

Country legend Hank Williams haunts the famous Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN. Staff have reported Williams hanging out backstage and a mysterious white mist on stage. Is Hank still playing music in the afterlife?

According to CMT, his spirit makes the rounds:

The legend of Williams’ ghost has also inspired two major country hits — David Allan Coe ’s “The Ride” (1983) and Alan Jackson ’s “Midnight in Montgomery” (1992) — so it’s not surprising that reported sightings are not limited to Nashville. Williams is also said to haunt the Andrew Johnson Hotel in Knoxville, Tenn., where he spent his last night prior to dying in the back seat of a car while being driven to Canton, Ohio for a concert on Jan. 1, 1953. Williams’ ghost has been reportedly seen in private homes in Tennessee and Alabama, as well as various honky-tonks throughout the South.


If you could see the ghost of a famous musician, which one would you want to see? Let me know in the comments!

North of Salem: The Ghost Twins of North Andover

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Since it is the season of the Gemini (and I’m a Gemini), I started doing some research on ghost twins. Down the internet rabbit hole I went, and I’m glad I did. North Andover, Massachusetts encompasses the historic town of Andover and is just an hour(ish) drive north from Salem, home of The Witch Trials. Many argue Andover was overlooked by historians and that many of those accused of witchcraft in the region were actually from Andover. Salem State University historian Emerson “Tad” Baker says, “They should really be known as the Andover Witch Trials.”

The fear of witches in Andover sparked the most interesting (and problematic) urban legend. This is the story of the Albino Twins of North Andover.

Near Baker and Bradford Street in North Andover there is an abandoned road, which is the focus of local teenage curiosity.  This road is now blocked by a gate with a large “Do Not Enter” sign. This road has been nicknamed “Albino Road” by locals.

During witch hysteria, a couple living on this road gave birth to albino twin boys, which was a sign of witchcraft (well, according to this legend). The couple decided to hide and protect their children from discrimination and persecution. Unfortunately, their existence was revealed in their teenage years and they had to undergo tests to determine if they were witches or not. This included being thrown into Lake Cochichewick to see if they would sink. The boys drowned, of course, because stones were tied to their feet. Their parents were burned alive when their house was set on fire.

The spirits of the boys and their parents now haunt the road…supposedly (I don’t believe it). I do wonder where such an urban legend came from. Was it from a fear of the unknown? Or from a fear of those different than us?

Sources

North Andover’s Witchy Past

New England Folklore (a great blog!) 

Pour A Glass of Wine for the Spirits: Haunted Vineyards and Wineries

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To celebrate my return to blogging after a short break (not of my choice!), I decided to explore ghosts through one of my favorite pastimes: drinking wine! I do not have the luxury to see many vineyards in person, but visiting them through their ghost stories is just as fun. The following vineyards and wineries have especially interesting paranormal history. Open a bottle of wine, turn down the lights, and get ready to be spooked (or not, you are so brave).

Bartholomew Park Winery (Sonoma, California)

Before it became a winery, this location served as a morgue, insane asylum and delinquent home for wayward women. According to ghost hunter Jeff Dwyer, “A short time after the winery opened, employees heard voices singing in the cellar that once housed prisoners. The choir is heard in the afternoon and again late at night. Hymns are the usual choice” (source). Visitors have also reported doors locking on their own, a fire extinguisher thrown against the wall, and a piano playing.

In the 1970s, the remains of a woman were discovered in the basement walls during an earthquake retrofit. Some attribute these remains to Madeline, an incarcerated women who lived on the property in the 1920s/30s.  She tried to escape several times and was eventually successful. Or, is that her in the wall?

Korbel Champagne Cellars (Guerneville, California)

Korbel was founded in 1882 and produces the very popular champagne I consume once a year (because I can only afford Andre). The horror film Altergiest was inspired by and filmed at this winery (I haven’t seen it, have you?). People have reported orbs, cold spots, and moving objects.

A lot of the hot ghost action happens in the Santa Nella House. In the late 1860s, the Korbel Brothers called on their friends to help in their Champagne endeavor. One of these friends, Dr. Joseph Prosek, arrived in 1871 and built a large house near the vineyards. He planted grapevines and olive orchards (for medicinal purposes). Now called the Santa Nella House, Prosek’s home is now an inn for those visiting wine country. According to Dwyer, four ghosts haunt this location.

  1. Dr. Prosek’s Wife, Emma (supposedly): She moves, hides, and reproduces objects around the inn. She is seen wearing a long black dress with high collar.
  2. An Elderly Gentleman: He sometimes wears a tophat and mourning coat. He has been seen sitting in a parlor chair and walking around guest rooms. He sometimes makes noises and messes with electronics.
  3. The Veranda Ghost: Seen outside the house (mostly on the veranda), this ghostly man likes to ring the doorbell.
  4. Ghost Cat (yes!): This cat leaves paw prints on the bed and carpet of The Blue Room.

Franco-Swiss Winery (St. Helena, California)

The 2010 Time article “Bringing a Historic but Haunted Winery Back to Life” describes Leslie and Richard Mansfield’s decade-long endeavor to bring this “ghost winery” back to life. This restoration project came with a ghost: Jules Millet, a past owner of the winery who was murdered there in 1882. One winter night, Leslie and Richard were giving their dinner guests a tour of the winery with flashlights. One of their friends shouted, “If you’re here, Jules Millet, knock three times!” Nothing happened. The next night when Leslie was home alone, she heard six loud explosions in the house. The next morning she went to the basement and found the source of the noise: the flashlights used during the late night winery tour exploded into a million pieces.

Belvoir Winery (Liberty, Missouri)

The Belvoir Winery is on the historic Odd Fellows Home site. The Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) was founded by Thomas Wildey in Baltimore, Maryland in 1819. The IOOF “promotes the ethic of reciprocity and charity, by implied inspiration of Judeo-Christian ethics” (source). The Odd Fellows Home site in Liberty served as a place to care for their members, widows, and orphans. This wasn’t considered charity, because residents worked (if physically able) and were expected to remain in good standing. The site had three main buildings: the hospital, the old folks home, and the school. There’s also a cemetery onsite. I recommend reading its history on the winery’s website (super interesting).

Paranormal experiences include:

  • Apparitions of orphan children
  • The sound of children running down the halls, giggling, and singing “Ring Around the Rosy”
  • The sound of a piano playing
  • Doors opening and closing
  • Shadows
  • The feeling of being watched
  • A hug and shoulder grab from an unseen source
  • A “mischievous man” growling

Zephaniah Farm Vineyard (Leesburg, Virginia)

In 1743, Lord Fairfax (a friend of George Washington’s) sold 2000 acres to George Nixon, who then started a dairy farm. In the 1800s, his daughter Mattie inherited the farm. She legally owned the farm until she married British veterinarian Dr. William Casilear, because it was passed to him due to a (sexist) law.

So, Dr. Casilear was a jerk. He was aggressive, carried around a pistol, and supposedly cheated on his wife with the cook. In July 1911, Dr. Casilear shot one of this tenant farmers, Joseph Cross, to death. He believed Joseph left the gate open, accidentally letting the cows loose. Dr. Casilear said it was self-defense and, since this was Jim Crow South and Cross was black, he was acquitted of his charges. Dr. Casilear ran off and was never seen again, leaving Mattie to care for the farm. In 1950,  the Hatch family purchased the property. In 2001, Bill Hatch and his wife Bonnie planted grapevines and started their winery journey.

According to paranormal investigators, there are possibly 35 spirits on the property (mostly in the library), including pets! One of the spirits is Mattie and, according to Bill Hatch, she is especially active when soon-to-be-married couples visit. Maybe she’s trying to warn them of the difficulty of marriage? Bonnie has reported hearing loud conversations upstairs. A carpenter refuses to enter the attic. And, employees have seen apparitions sitting at the table. The owners are not too worried about all these ghosts, though. During a paranormal investigation, it was revealed that Mattie was pleased with the changes made to the property (Food and Wine).

I wonder if there are ghost cows?