“TOO EVIL TO LIVE” and 10 More Tales of True Crime and the Paranormal! #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS EPISODE: (Dark Archives episode with stories from November 28-30, 2018) *** He was described as a man “too evil to live”. We’ll look at the brutal life of crime of Carl Panzram, a man some said was the personification of rage. (Too Evil to Live) *** Did a Nikola Tesla experiment cause the Tunguska Blast? (Tesla’s Death Ray) *** Bizarre happenings were centered around the Eddy home. The house was reported to be infested with supernatural beings of such numbers that had never been reported before, or since. The events were so powerful and strange, people came from all over the world to witness them. (People From Other Worlds) *** A woman’s newfound ability to astral project has her coming face-to-face with someone she never expected to see. (Astral Projection and Mom’s Message) *** The Mountain Meadows Massacre has been hailed by historians as “the most hideous example of the human cost exacted by religious fanaticism in American history until 9/11.” Ironically, it too occurred on September 11th – in 1857. (The Mountain Meadows Massacre) *** If you spend the night amongst the dead in a graveyard, don’t be surprised if something supernatural happens to you. (I Spent The Night In a Graveyard) *** An old man regrets not obeying his wife’s dying wish. (The Stubborn Piano) *** Over 200 lobotomies were performed at the Ridges Asylum – without anesthesia or an operating room. Is it any wonder why it’s now considered to be haunted? (The Ridges Asylum) *** A Vietnam veteran has his first paranormal investigation in a Nevada town with a population of more dead souls than alive. (Marine Protectors) *** In a quiet Virginia cemetery is a peculiar tomb that has mystified visitors for nearly two hundred years. Who is buried there? No one seems to know. (The Grave of the Female Stranger) *** Demons hitchhiking, reports of a mysterious entity, strange suicides… they all have been seen and experienced on a certain Indian reservation in South Dakota. (Walking Sam)
STORY AND MUSIC CREDITS/SOURCES…
(Note: Over time links can and may become invalid, disappear, or have different content.)
“Too Evil to Live” by Orin Grey: http://ow.ly/KxrA30mP1GM
“Tesla’s Death Ray”: https://tinyurl.com/v7scbe7
“People From Other Worlds” by Troy Taylor: https://tinyurl.com/u6snqa3
“Astral Projection and Mom’s Message” by CuriousDee: https://tinyurl.com/rkwkbd3
“The Mountain Meadows Massacre”: https://tinyurl.com/sdgbvsv
“Walking Sam” by Brent Swancer: https://tinyurl.com/rkbd29c
“I Spent a Night In a Graveyard” by Michael McKean: https://tinyurl.com/up2vvgn
“The Stubborn Piano” by J. Mason Brewer: https://tinyurl.com/sw2wkcw
“The Ridges Asylum” by Shannon E. Brown: https://tinyurl.com/t23xzuc
“Marine Protectors” by Weirdo family member Pam Ennis, submitted at WeirdDarkness.com
“The Grave of the Female Stranger” by Orrin Grey: http://ow.ly/NkQS30mMhhZ
Weird Darkness opening and closing theme by Alibi Music Library. Weird@Work music bed by Audioblocks. Background music, varying by episode, provided by Alibi Music, EpidemicSound and/or AudioBlocks with paid license; Shadows Symphony (http://bit.ly/2W6N1xJ), Midnight Syndicate (http://amzn.to/2BYCoXZ), Tony Longworth (http://TonyLongworth.com) and/or Nicolas Gasparini/Myuu (https://www.youtube.com/user/myuuji) used with permission.
MY RECORDING TOOLS…
* MICROPHONE (Neumann TLM103): http://amzn.to/2if01CL
* POP FILTER (AW-BM700): http://amzn.to/2zRIIyK
* XLR CABLE (Mogami Gold Studio): http://amzn.to/2yZXJeD
* MICROPHONE PRE-AMP (Icicle): http://amzn.to/2vLqLzg
* SOFTWARE (Adobe Audition): http://amzn.to/2vLqI6E
* HARDWARE (iMac Pro): https://amzn.to/2suZGkA
I always make sure to give authors credit for the material I use. If I somehow overlooked doing that for a story, or if a credit is incorrect, please let me know and I’ll rectify it the show notes as quickly as possible.
***WeirdDarkness™ – is a trademark and creation of of Marlar House Productions. Copyright © Marlar House Productions, 2020.
“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” — John 12:46 *** How to escape eternal darkness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IYmodFKDaM
TOO EVIL TO LIVE
***Carl Panzram has been called a “one-man crime wave” and described as “too evil to live”. His crime spree spans nearly two decades, even though he was hanged at the age of 38. During that time, he committed arsons, burglaries, and more, and confessed to more than 20 murders and the rape of as many as 1,000 men and boys. His plans for grander crimes—while never realized—would have been right at home coming from the lips of a comic book supervillain. While he was sitting on death row in Leavenworth, he wrote a memoir, which began with a chilling one-sentence summary of his dark deeds, followed by the simple statement, “For all these things I am not in the least bit sorry.”***
Panzram was one of the most bizarre killers in American history. He was born in East Grand Forks, Minnesota in 1892, and by 1903 he was in the Minnesota State Training School, a reform school for juvenile offenders. While there, Panzram was beaten and raped repeatedly, in a building that the school’s occupants called “The Painting House.” In 1905, Panzram burned the building to the ground: his first act of arson, but far from his last.
By the age of 15, Carl Panzram had enlisted in the army by lying about his age, although his military career didn’t last long. In fact, he was dishonorably discharged and sentenced to Leavenworth after stealing from a supply closet. William Howard Taft (then Secretary of War, soon to be President of the United States) signed the order sending Panzram to prison. And Carl Panzram was a man to hold a grudge.
When he was released from Leavenworth in 1910, “all the good that may have been in me had been kicked and beaten out”, in Panzram’s own words. Panzram had already engaged in a string of burglaries and arsons prior to his time at Leavenworth—churches were a preferred target. Yet life behind bars sharpened Panzram’s rage to a fine point, and he had grown into a full-size man of six feet and roughly two hundred pounds. He put his massive frame and violent drive to work, preying upon, again in his own words, “the weak, the harmless and the unsuspecting.”
Panzram rode the rails, burglarizing homes, burning churches, and committing multiple rapes and murders. He was regularly arrested by authorities. Yet he soon found himself back on the streets, carrying out a crime wave that tests the limits of believability. Indeed, much of what we know about Panzram’s shocking life of crime comes from the man himself, and is therefore difficult (if not impossible) to corroborate fully.
In August 1920, Panzram found his way to New Haven, Connecticut, where, in the course of robbing houses, he found himself in the home of by-then-former President William Howard Taft. From that house, he stole a fair bit of money, and also Taft’s personal pistol, which, Panzram claimed, was later used in quite a few murders. With the money he had gotten, Panzram bought a yacht and, according to his later confessions, began to lure sailors onto it with the promise of work, only to rape and murder them out at sea, dumping their bodies overboard.
Eventually, Panzram made his way to Angola, where he continued his trail of murder, rape, and other crimes. He claims to have killed six men there and fed them to crocodiles. It was also in Angola that, according to Panzram’s confessions, he raped and killed the first of at least three young boys.
Within a few short years, Panzram was back in the United States, stealing a boat and passing it off as the yacht he had wrecked before leaving the country. By 1928, when Carl Panzram was arrested in connection with a Washington D.C. burglary, he freely confessed to the laundry list of crimes he claimed to have committed. Authorities weren’t sure whether to believe the man’s extravagant testimony, but he was sentenced to at least 25 years in prison for the burglary. While there, he beat the prison laundry foreman to death with an iron bar, and his sentence was changed from 25-to-life to a sentence of death. The murder of the laundry foreman, Robert Warnke, was the only murder of which Panzram was officially convicted.
As he sat on death row, Panzram refused his right to appeal, and when human rights and anti-death penalty advocates offered to intercede, Panzram famously wrote that, “The only thanks you and your kind will ever get from me for your efforts on my behalf is that I wish you all had one neck and that I had my hands on it.”
During his last days in prison, Panzram befriended a guard named Henry Lesser, who gave Panzram money for cigarettes, and paper and writing utensils so that Panzram could record a detailed history of his crimes. In the astonishing document, Panzram not only wrote of the crimes that he had committed, but also those he had contemplated, including the sabotage and robbery of a train and the murder of everyone on board, as well as starting a war between the U.S. and Britain in order to make money on the stock market.
“In my lifetime I have broken every law that was ever made by both man and God,” Panzram wrote. “If either had made any more, I should very cheerfully have broken them also.”
Carl Panzram was hanged in 1930 at Leavenworth Penitentiary, where his grave is marked only by his prisoner identification number, 31614. As he went to the gallows, he reportedly spat in the executioner’s face and, when asked if he had any last words, told the man to hurry it up, stating that, “I could kill a dozen men while you’re screwing around!”
TESLA’S DEATH RAY
On June 30th, 1908, a giant explosion flattened over 800sq miles of forest near the Tunguska river in Siberian Russia.
The area of the blast was extremely remote, but the devastation was immense. An estimated 80 million trees were flattened and whole herds of deer wiped out.
The magnitude of the blast was thousands of times greater than the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima and its impact was felt as far afield as Great Britain.
Had it occurred just minutes later it would have destroyed the whole of St Petersburg and killed millions of people.
Whilst it quickly became apparent something momentous had happened at Tunguska, the area of the blast remained inaccessible until the first expedition there in 1927.
The 1927 investigation began nearly a century of debate about what caused the blast, with explanations ranging from comets and meteors to expulsions of natural gas and even mini black holes.
One of the alternative theories about Tunguska revolves around pioneering inventor Nikola Tesla.
Tesla was a scientific genius credited with several important innovations in electricity, magnetism and radio. For many years, he explored ideas for the wireless transmission of electricity.
In 1901, he began construction of the 57m high Wardenclyffe tower in New York. Ostensibly for telegraphy, he used the tower to further his experiments into the transmission of electricity.
But by 1906, his chief financial backer JP Morgan grew dissatisfied with Tesla’s experiments and withdrew funding. Tesla’s plans were in ruin, he became desperate and, according to biographers, suffered a nervous breakdown.
It has been suggested that Tesla tried to salvage his work at Wardenclyffe and revive his fortunes by staging an audacious publicity stunt.
Tesla had become convinced his wireless electricity transmitter could be used as a weapon — able to transmit an electrical wave through the Earth of such intensity it could destroy a target hundreds of miles away.
Like the rest of America, Tesla was gripped by the exploits of Admiral Robert Peary and his assault on the North Pole. At the time of the Tunguska blast in 1908, Peary was camped out at Ellesmere Island in preparation for his bid to reach the pole.
Tesla had made cryptic remarks about contacting Peary somehow and had instructed him to watch the tundra for ‘signals’.
What better way for Tesla to demonstrate the awesome power of his device to the world than to fire a bolt of energy towards Ellesemere and rip up some ice or cause a light show?
Advocates of the theory that Tesla was behind the Tunguska blast claim his publicity stunt went drastically wrong, his concentrated wave of electricity overshooting its target and instead causing the explosion at Tunguska.
Could Tesla really have been responsible for the Tunguska blast?
The idea of death rays was very prevalent around the time of Tunguska. Several inventors, notably Harry Grindell Matthews in England, claimed to have invented such a weapon.
In 1907, there was much speculation in the press that the explosion that destroyed French battleship Iena in March was caused by some kind of wireless energy wave, with Tesla’s name even mentioned in connection with the disaster.
Tesla himself gave rise to much of the speculation by repeatedly claiming his electricity transmission device could be used as a directed energy weapon.
Writing to Liberty magazine he explained — “My invention requires a large plant, but once it is established it will be possible to destroy anything, men or machines, approaching within a radius of 200 miles.”
Tesla wrote several letters to the New York Times in which he expanded on the potential of his invention as a death ray.
“As to projecting wave energy to any particular region of the globe…this can be done by my devices…the spot at which the desired effect is to be produced can be calculated very closely, assuming the accepted terrestrial measurements to be correct.”
Just 2 months before Tunguska, he wrote tellingly — “This is not a dream. Even now wireless power plants could be constructed by which any region of the globe might be rendered uninhabitable without subjecting the population of other parts to serious danger or inconvenience.”
Did Tesla, beset by financial problems and desperate for his Wardenclyffe plant to succeed, use it for precisely the purpose he described to the New York Times?
Although the prevailing consensus as to the cause of the Tunguska blast is the explosion of a comet or meteorite in the atmosphere above the area, there are numerous reasons to doubt this.
Several eyewitness reports describe unusual and prolonged lights in the sky, both before and for days after the impact, quite unlike those to be expected from a meteorite or comet.
Even as far afield as England, the sky was lit up for days afterwards. Widespread reports of night turning into day flooded into the newspapers. One correspondent recounted how he was able to read a book illuminated purely by the night sky.
Tesla specifically cited the ability of Wardenclyffe to light up the atmosphere on several occasions — “I have planned many details of a plant which would be amply sufficient to illuminate the entire ocean so that such a disaster as that of the Titanic would not be repeated.”
Many of the eyewitnesses also describe earth shaking, even before the explosion. Again, Tesla described how his device could shake the ground, even boasting on one occasion that he could shake the Empire State building to its foundations.
The meteorite theory is also undermined by the fact that no blast crater or trace of any meteorite had ever been found, despite exhaustive searches.
If, however, Tesla really could transmit a directed energy beam through the ground, it would leave no traces or crater.
It has been pointed out that a line drawn between Tesla’s Wardenclyffe tower and Tunguska passes through the location of the supposed target of his energy beam — Ellesmere Island.
Whilst the correlation isn’t exact, it is an interesting coincidence. Did Tesla, intending to shake up the ice at Ellesmere overshoot his target and accidently cause the devastation at Tunguska?
The concept that electricity could be wirelessly transmitted over long distance is now discounted as pseudoscience by most scientists.
Whereas Tesla did successfully demonstrate short-range transmission of electricity, he was never able to demonstrate any ability to transmit it over great distances.
Tesla, always desperate for an audience for his inventions, would have widely advertised the technology if he had really perfected it as he claimed.
Tesla was a very eccentric individual. He had visions, claimed to receive signals from extraterrestrials and somewhat oddly was in love with a pigeon.
He was also an inveterate self-publicist notorious for making far fetched and exaggerated claims which he could not back up. For example he once claimed he could fire an energy beam at the moon and disturb its surface.
There have been many attempts to produce the kind of death ray proposed by Tesla over the years, but no such weapon has ever been produced, despite its obvious military application.
The vast amount of energy Tesla’s death ray would require to operate as he boasted would appear to rule it out as any kind of viable device.
It is estimated that to produce the estimated 10 megaton blast recorded at Tunguska, Wardenclyffe would need transmit billions of watts worth of power — thousands of times more than the New York power grid he relied on was capable of producing.
PEOPLE FROM OTHER WORLDS
On October 14, 1874, Colonel Henry Steel Olcott – attorney, military investigator during the Civil War, and skeptic on assignment to root out Spiritualist fraud in Vermont – met the woman who would change his life. Her name was Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and she had captured the attention of the Western world with her strange mix of mysticism and Eastern rituals. Within a few short years, she and Colonel Olcott would find the Theosophical Movement, which still exists today. But on that day in Chittenden, Vermont, both Olcott and Blavatsky were there to see of the stories that were being told about the small town were true.
It seems that in 1874, some very strange things were happening in Chittenden. The bizarre happenings were centered around the home of William and Horatio Eddy, two middle-aged, illiterate brothers, and their sister, Mary. The Eddys lived in a house that was reported to be infested with supernatural beings of such numbers that had never been reported before, or since. The events at the farm were said to be so powerful and so strange that people came from all over the world to witness them.
Of course, not everyone believed the stories before they arrived. One of the most skeptical was Henry Olcott, who had read about the Eddys in a New York newspaper. Intrigued, he convinced the New York Tribune to send him to Vermont to investigate the wild tales. Olcott had no interest in the supernatural prior to this. Born in New Jersey in 1832, he attended college in New York City, studying agricultural science. While still in his early 20’s, he received international recognition for his work on a model farm and for founding a school for agriculture students. During this same time, he published three scientific works. He went on to become the farm editor for the Tribune. When the Civil War broke out, Olcott enlisted in the Union Army. He was appointed as a special investigator to root out corruption and fraud in military arsenals and shipyards. He was soon promoted to the rank of Colonel and after the war, was part of a three-person panel that investigated the assassination of President Lincoln. After the war, Olcott studied law and became a wealthy and successful attorney.
He could never explain what prompted him to read the article about the Eddy brothers, or why he was interested enough to travel to Vermont to investigate the claims made about him. But whatever the reason, it changed his life.
Olcott traveled to Vermont with newspaper artist, Albert Kappes. Together, they planned to investigate the strange events at the Eddy farm and if the stories were a hoax, they would expose the Eddy brothers in the newspaper as nothing but charlatans. His first impression of the Eddys was not a favorable one. The two distant and unfriendly farmers were rough-hewn characters with dark hair and eyes, and New England accents so thick the New York attorney and writer could scarcely understand them.
The story was that they came from a long line of psychics, including a distant relative that was convicted of witchcraft at Salem in 1692. Their grandmother had been blessed with the gift of “second sight” and often went into trances, speaking to entities that no one else could see. Their mother, Julia, had been known for frightening her neighbors with predictions and visions. Her gifts were unwelcome in the Eddy home. Her husband, Zepaniah, was a cruel and abusive man. He beat his wife and later, when it was discovered that this sons also had strange powers, he beat and whipped them. As children, the Eddys were unable to attend school. When they did, books flew, desks levitated, and rulers, inkwell, and slates flew about the classroom.
Zepaniah continued to beat his sons, trying to make the disturbances stop. Instead, they grew worse. If they went into a trance, he would pinch and slap them, trying to wake them up. It didn’t work. They were bruised until they were black and blue. Once, on the advice of a sympathetic “Christian” friend, he doused the boys with boiling water. When this didn’t work, he also allowed this friend to drop a red-hot coal into William’s hand. He had hoped to “exorcize his devils.” The boy never awakened from his trance, but he bore a scar on his palm for the rest of his life. Unable to control the boys, he sold them to a traveling showman who, for the next 14 years, took them all over America, Canada and Europe. It was a brutal and degrading life. As part of their “performance,” audience members were allowed to try and awaken the boys from their trances. The Eddys were locked into small wooden boxes to see if they could escape and hot wax was poured into their mouths to see if they could produce “spirit voices” when they were unable to talk. The skeptics poked, prodded, and punched the sleeping brothers, leaving them scarred and damaged for the rest of their lives. On several occasions, they were even stoned and shot at by angry mobs.
The Eddys eventually returned home after their death of their father. Along with their sister, Mary, they turned the family farm into a modest inn called the Green Tavern. It was there that Olcott first met the brothers and it was there that they began holding seances for Spiritualists who traveled to see them from across the country and overseas.
During Olcott’s first night at the farm, he was witness to an outdoor séance. He was led through the woods with a few other participants to a natural cave in a deep ravine. Olcott later learned that it was called “Honto’s Cave,” in honor of the Native American spirit who often appeared there. Olcott suspiciously investigated the cave but found it was little more than a few rocks on top of one another, forming a natural arch. There was only one way in or out. He determined there was no way that anyone could slip in or out of the cave without being seen.
Horatio Eddy acted as the medium for the séance. He sat on a camp stool under the arch and then was draped in a makeshift “spirit cabinet” formed by shawls and branches that had been cut from small saplings. As Horatio rested there, a gigantic man, dressed as a Native American, emerged from the darkness of the cave. A few moments later, more spirits appeared above the cave entrance and in the surrounding rocks. Olcott counted 10 different spirits at the site. The last, the spirit of William White, the late editor of a Spiritualist newspaper, emerged from within Horatio’s cabinet. He was dressed in a black suit and white shirt was supposedly recognizable to some who had read the newspaper and recognized his picture from it. He vanished at the same time the others did. Moments later, Horatio appeared from the cabinet and signaled that the séance was at an end. After the bizarre display was over, Olcott and Kappes carefully searched the cave and the surrounding area for footprints in the soft earth.
They found no footprints – there was no trace that anyone had been there.
Olcott was intrigued, but not convinced. The whole thing would have been too easy to stage, he believed. It would be different when he could see one of the seances inside of the house. The Eddys had built a séance room on the second floor of the inn. Olcott and Kappes thoroughly examined it. They drew charts and diagrams and took numerous measurements, sure that they would find false panels, secret doors, or hidden passages – but found nothing. Determined not to give up, Olcott hired carpenters and engineers to come and search the place, but the experts found nothing unusual. The walls and floors were as solid as they seemed. There was no trickery taking place with the structure of the house – which made what Olcott witnessed on the following nights even stranger.
Each séance was basically the same. On every night of the week — except for Sunday — guests and visitors would assemble on wooden benches in the séance room. A platform, which had been assembled there, was lit only by a kerosene lamp, recessed in a barrel. William Eddy, who acted as the primary medium, mounted the platform and entered a small cabinet. A few moments later, soft voices began to whisper in the distance. Often, it would be singing, accompanied by spectral music. Musical instruments came to life and soared above the heads of the audience members, disembodied hands appeared, waving and touching the spectators, and odd lights and unexplained noises appeared and filled the air.
Then, the first spirit form emerged from the cabinet. They came one at a time, or in groups, numbering as many as 20 or 30 in an evening. Some were completely visible and seemed solid. Others were transparent and ethereal. Regardless, they awed the frightened spectators. The spirits ranged in size from over six feet to very small (it’s worth noting here that William Eddy was only five feet, nine inches tall). Most of the ghostly apparitions were elderly Yankees or Native Americans, but many other races and nationalities also appeared in traditional Russian, African, and Asian garb.
Olcott could not explain where they had come from! He had examined the spirit cabinet and platform and had found no trap doors, nor hidden passages. In fact, there was no room in the cabinet for anyone other than the medium himself. Olcott was familiar with the workings of stage magicians and fraudulent mediums, but could find none of their tricks present at the Eddy house.
The apparitions not only appeared but they also performed, sang, and chatted with the sitters. They produced musical instruments, clothing, and scarves. In all, nearly every type of supernatural phenomena was reported at the Eddy farmhouse. These included rappings, moving physical objects, spirit paintings, automatic writing, prophecy, speaking in tongues, healings, unseen voices, levitation, remote visions, teleportation, and more. And of course, the full-bodied manifestations of which Olcott observed more than 400 during the weeks he visited the house! He concluded that a show like that which he had seen would have required an entire company of actors and several trunks of costumes.
Yet, Olcott’s inspection of the premises revealed no place to hide either actors or props. The idea of stage actors was further dispelled by the convincing manner of the spirits. One woman spoke, in Russian, to the alleged spirit of her deceased husband. A number of other dialects were also heard. How was this possible when the Eddy’s could barely read and write, and were scarcely capable of speaking coherent English?
In addition, such an elaborate show would have cost a fortune to produce each night. They would have had to pay actors, invest in costumes, and hire someone to create the “marvels” of the spirits. This would have been impossible given that the brothers were almost penniless. Most of the visitors who came to the farm did not pay and the rest only gave $8 per week for room and board at the inn. No admission was ever charged for the séances. In Olcott’s mind, fraud would have been physically and financially impossible.
In fact, the whole thing was impossible, but it was real!
Olcott spent 10 weeks at the farm. He left the place disliking the house, the food, the weather, and the Eddy brothers themselves – but he also left convinced that the two men were making contact with the dead. He wrote this in the newspaper and then wrote a massive book about the Eddys called PEOPLE FROM OTHER WORLDS. It is filled with precise drawings of the apparitions, the farm, the house and even detailed plans of its construction, proving that no hidden passages existed. He also recorded over 400 different supernatural beings and collected hundreds of affidavits and scores of eyewitness testimony to the amazing events. He also reproduced dozens of statements from respected tradesmen and carpenters who had examined the house for trickery. A modern reader would have to look very hard to discover anything that Olcott did not investigate.
Eventually, the Eddys had a falling out and spent the rest of their lives apart. Horatio died in 1922. William lived to be 99 and died in 1932. He never participated in seances again. If either of the two men had any secrets about the weird events at their home, they took those secrets with them to the grave.
What really happened at the Eddy farm in Chittenden, Vermont?
No one knows. To read this story today, we are first inclined to dismiss the events as fanciful tales from another time, but can we really? Colonel Olcott had impeccable credentials for investigating fraud, so we can’t simply dismiss his story out of hand. His extensive documentation, along with his investigative skills, suggests that the events were not part of a hoax. Olcott remained skeptical and analytical throughout his stay at the farm, and yet he came away convinced that the Eddy’s had the power to contact, and communicate with, the dead.
Colonel Olcott came away from Chittenden a believer. The once skeptical military investigator was convinced that the dead could – and did – communicate with the living.
In fact, he was so convinced of the reality of the spirit world that he left his career and his wife and devoted the rest of his wife to the study of the occult and the arcane. He founded the Theosophical Society with Madame Blavatsky and moved to India, where they endeared themselves to the countless Hindu worshippers. Olcott spoke in temples and open squares in India and Sri Lanka, where he urged young people and their families not to relinquish their traditions and to argue against colonialist missionaries. He lobbied the English authorities to permit a national celebration of Buddha’s birthday, during which worshippers rallied around an international Buddhist flag that Alcott helped design. He raised money for schools and educational programs and wrote a book about Buddhism that is still read in Sri Lankan classrooms today. Within 20 years of Olcott’s first visit, the number of Buddhist schools in the island national grew from four to more than 200. After his awakening at the Eddy farm – and his introduction to Madame Blavatsky – Olcott understood himself to be on the mission of a lifetime. It was mission that touched Hindu and Buddhist cultures so deeply that Olcott may be the single most significant Western figure in the modern religious history of the East. Decades after his arrival there, the Buddhist nation of Ceylon enshrined his image on a postage stamp and marked his death with a national holiday.
And it started with a séance on a ramshackle farm in Vermont.
Whatever the reader chooses to believe, it cannot be denied that something amazing and mysterious occurred in Chittenden, Vermont, and on the farm of the Eddy brothers, although what this may have been — we may never know for sure.
ASTRAL PROJECTION & MOM’S MESSAGE
This isn’t a typical ghost story, but I hope you’ll find it interesting regardless…
A little background; I started astral projecting almost 5 years ago. The first time it happened was completely spontaneous (as were the following 2-3 times after this). Definitely mind blowing stuff. I remember the first time it happened, I thought “Oh my God, it’s real! This is amazing!”. I don’t know why, but I knew exactly what was happening while it happened. I had no fear. I had previously thought that out of body/astral projection experiences were not real and bogus stories. Boy, was I (thankfully) wrong. Since then, I’ve gotten a tiny bit better at control and initiation. However, I am not an expert by any means and wish I could initiate it more frequently. Many of my experiences have been short and sometimes hazy (difficulty with vision). However, I have had some beautiful, very clear and personal experiences that have further cemented my belief in the existence of life after death.
The following experience though, I can tell you, this incident was very clear. No haziness, trouble seeing or hearing.
This experience took place 2 years ago, in 2016. I intentionally went out of body and immediately entered what I would describe as some type of warehouse. I walked down a hall to investigate, turned a corner and saw my mother standing there. My mother passed away almost 17 years ago (in November). I’ve encountered her a few times while “out” and our interactions are usually brief with lots of hugs and her reassurances that she is with me and loves me (I am very lucky).
This time, I immediately asked her if the voice I had heard (it sounded like grumbling) while exiting my body was George (George is what we nicknamed the spirit/ghost in the house I grew up in. I have mentioned him in previous stories on this site). I don’t know why I asked that. After I had asked if it was George, she made this “Mmmmmmm” sound as if she debated on telling me. I asked again and she said “Listen, pay attention. You need to remember 50 10”. I asked what that meant. She replied, “Just remember, 50 10. Pay attention. Something will happen next week and you will know what it means”. That was it. I was back in my body, awake, trying to figure out what that meant. It nagged at me, so I called my father and explained everything. He does believe me as far as my AP experiences, but has a hard time understanding it. I don’t blame him.:)
He wondered if maybe, it had to do with the date of May 10th (50= May, 5th month, after taking away the 0 and 10 as in the 10th day). I do understand the confusion as far as 50 equaling May, but can’t explain why it was related this way. This took place on May 5th or 6th. I thought, maybe, but it seemed too easy, right? So after brainstorming on it for awhile, I figured when the time came, I would know what 50 10 meant.
Fast forward a few days later. My cousin, who I’m very close to (we are 4 months apart) called uncontrollably crying, trying to speak. Finally, I understand her. She was saying “He’s gone! He’s gone! My brother is gone, he’s dead!” For privacy reasons, I will call him Ray. Obviously I was shocked; her brother was 31 years old, his death was sudden and a total surprise. I jumped in the car to go to her house and be with her. While driving, it hit me: The date was May 10th. I called my father to deliver the sad news and to start rallying the family together. Then I said “Dad, it’s May 10th”. He said “Oh my God. It is! It was true!” To this day, I’m still flabbergasted over this. It’s hard to imagine my mother giving me a piece of information this serious. One more thing that happened just prior to her phone call; my left ear started ringing (very loud and high pitched). I remember I stopped what I was doing and felt uneasy. I don’t know if it’s connected, but thought it worth mentioning.
The only thing I could and can think of is that I was given a sort of “heads up” message regarding Ray’s death. I know it seems too crazy to be true. My reasoning is this: Our family was not meant to intervene, but to understand that family on the other side was expecting him and for some reason it was meant to be. That thought has comforted me since it happened and gave me the strength to help with the arrangements and support his siblings and father (Ray’s mother, my mother’s sister, also passed away, about 6 years ago).
There were 120 settlers camped in southern Utah on Sept. 7, 1857, the day the Mountain Meadows Massacre began. Most of them were en route from Arkansas to California and were assured by a friendly Mormon leader that this spot in the Mountain Meadows of Utah would be a safe space for them to camp.
But not a single one of them would make it out of that field alive. Within five days, women and children alike would be slaughtered. Only a handful had been awake when the gunfire began, but the settlers acted fast.
They arranged their wagons into a protective circle against the onslaught which would go on for five days. Their attackers appeared to be Native Americans, all with painted faces. But even amidst all of that chaos, a few of those doomed settlers got a good look at the men trying to kill them: they weren’t hostile Native Americans, they were white men.
In 1857, when the Mountain Meadows massacre occurred, Utah and the United States were on the brink of war.
Utah had only been an American territory for seven years. Before then, it had been a part of Mexico although, in practice, it was ruled by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and their President Brigham Young.
To the U.S. Government, Young appeared to be a religious dictator of a theocratic state and Young’s power over his people made them nervous.
The Mormons of Utah were convinced it would just be a matter of time before the U.S. invaded them on the grounds of religious persecution. Thus, when President Buchanan announced that he planned to move national troops into Utah to monitor the Mormons, the Mormons saw this as a hostile invasion.
Brigham Young urged every Mormon to resist the US troops. He declared that: “I will fight them and I will fight all hell!”
The Church had been tense against the federal government ever since the murder of their founder and Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith, at the hands of an Illinois lynch mob in 1844. Young subsequently led his people in an Oath of Vengeance and asked them to swear that: “You and each of you do covenant and promise that you will pray and never cease to pray to Almighty God to avenge the blood of the prophets upon this nation.”
Indeed, by the time of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, the Mormons were ready for war.
Meanwhile, a group of families from Arkansas headed out west to California.
They were called the Baker-Fancher Party, a group of some 140 men, women, and children. Some were chasing the gold rush, some were visiting family, and some were hoping to set up ranches. But not one of them expected to do anymore in Utah other than restock at Salt Lake City and pass through.
Paranoia was so thick in Utah in 1857 that the Mormons there refused to give the party food.
At the same time, Mormon surveyor and Indian agent John D. Lee, together with Mormon apostle George A. Smith, met with the Paiute Native Americans and warned them against the settlers passing through. The two Mormon men told the Native Americans that these settlers were dangerous and a threat to the Mormons and Native tribes alike.
Mormons then were urged to “shore up alliances with local Indians,” while Lee convinced the Baker-Fancher party that a large group of Paiutes “in their war paint, and fully equipped for battle” were near.
Isaac C. Haight, a leader of several Mormon congregations and mayor of Cedar City, allegedly ordered Lee “to send other Indians on the war-path to help them kill the emigrants.” Together, Haight and Lee armed the Paiutes and thought they had thus covered their tracks in the oncoming slaughter.
On Sept. 7, 1857, Paiutes and some Mormons dressed as Paiutes first attacked. The fight lasted five days and the Baker-Fancher party began to run out of ammunition, water, and food. By Sept. 11, the Mormons feared that the settlers had realized their identities. Two militiamen, their faces washed clean of paint and plain clothes on their bodies, approached the wagons with a white flag. John D. Lee himself marched with them.
They were a rescue party, Lee told the settlers, here to save them from the vicious Paiutes they claimed were behind the attack. They said that they had negotiated a truce and persuaded the natives to let them escort them to safety in Cedar City.
The Baker-Fancher Party fell for it. The settlers were separated into three groups of men, women, and children. The men were almost immediately shot at point-blank range. The women and children were also met with bullets. The Mormons “decoyed out and destroyed with the exception of the small children” who were “too young to tell tales,” and subsequently left no settlers over the age of seven. These 17 surviving children were doled out amongst locals along with their possessions.
A woman in Cedar City would later recall the sight of those 17 children as they were dragged into town and forced into new homes:
“Two of the children [were] cruelly mangled and the most of them with their parents’ blood still wet upon their clothes, and all of them shrieking with terror and grief and anguish.”
The militia hastily buried the dead. Every man present was sworn never to tell a soul.
The war the Mormons had so feared between the U.S. troops never did happen. When the federal troops entered Utah in 1858 led by Major James Carleton, there was no eruption of violence. But there was suspicion on behalf of the troops, who found the bones of children littered in the Mountain Meadows.
Lee himself had told Young that the Paiutes were to blame for the massacre, though the U.S. troops and Major Carleton didn’t buy it. The Major sent word back to the Congress that the Mormons were responsible for the bloodshed of some 120 men, women, and children. Young responded to the accusation by martyring Lee.
Lee was convicted and sentenced to death by firing squad in 1877. “It is my fate to die for what I did,” Lee said, moments before he faced the firing squad, “but I go to my death with a certainty that it cannot be worse than my life has been for the last nineteen years.”
The Mountain Meadows Massacre has since been hailed by historians as “the most hideous example of the human cost exacted by religious fanaticism in American history until 9/11” in 2001. Exactly 144 years later to the day.
Major Carleton ensured that those killed in the Meadow Mountains Massacre were given a proper burial. Then, in the place where they had been killed, he erected a monument. On it was written: “Vengeance is mine: I will repay, saith the Lord.”
One very eerie phantom that is said to have long prowled the region of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota is a mysterious dark shadow-figure known to wander about in the night on inscrutable errands. Commonly called “Walking Sam,” as well as “Big Man” and “Tall Man,” this entity is said to be around 7 feet in height, with a lanky build, long arms, and a face devoid of any facial features, although descriptions can vary. In some cases, the apparition is said to have two glowing red eyes, in others he is described as wearing what appears to be a cloak or a stovepipe hat, while in others still it is merely an amorphous humanoid shadow. One weird description of the entity was written of in Peter Mathiessen’s 1983 book about Pine Ridge, called In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, in which he gives an account by a Lakota medicine man thus: ***There is your Big man standing there, ever waiting, ever present, like the coming of a new day… He is both spirit and real being, but he can also glide through the forest, like a moose with big antlers, as though the trees weren’t there… I know him as my brother… I want him to touch me, just a touch, a blessing, something I could bring home to my sons and grandchildren, that I was there, that I approached him, and he touched me.***
This wandering wraith is speculated to be everything from a ghost, to a demon, to some supernatural figure such as a Skinwalker or Shadow Person, but in every case it is described as being distinctly evil. Sometimes it is seen merely wandering aimlessly about, as if searching for something. At other times it has been seen walking along roads, even hitchhiking, and in more sinister reports it is said to kidnap people to carry them away into the night. In every case it is seen as a menacing, malevolent entity to be avoided. One possible account of Walking Sam comes from a witness who was driving one evening just outside of Eagle Butte, SC, when he was allegedly confronted by two frightening being described as being translucent and with hideous visages. He would bizarrely describe the entities thus: ***It was glowing like a real dim light bulb causes you can see through it. Eyes were size of human, really long nose long in length. It has a really big mouth. Its arms were like sticks. They were parallel through each other. The two sticks looked like it was glowing. It was around 4-foot-tall, but its arms stretched. The other one, on the left hand side of the road had a face like a beast, horrifying, ugly, looked wrinkly, walked like a squat about the size of a goat. It was glowing too, reddish brown. It was wide and narrow.***
Even weirder than this confusing description, one of the creatures apparently phased into the witness’s car and rode along with him in the passenger seat for several miles before vanishing into thin air. Another report was from someone who reached out to me in response to my own experience with a roving band of strange individuals, who claimed that he had had a somewhat similar experience, this time in South Dakota, not far from the Pine Ridge Reservation, in fact. He claimed that he had been driving along at night and that he had seen a dark, hunched over form pacing about at the side of the road, who seemed to be hitchhiking. When he pulled over he had been met with the sight of a very tall, lanky man dressed in a cloak and top hat who did not have a face, and who approached the vehicle to demand to be let in and given a ride, even banging on the side of the vehicle. The witness drove off in a panic, and when he later relayed his experiences to locals he was told that this was “Walking Sam,” the “Tall Man.” This was indeed the account that spurred me to look into this to begin with, as I had never heard of it before.
It seems that in some recent accounts the specter has been blamed as appearing to people in order to encourage them to commit suicide. In 2009, teenagers on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation began to report of being approached by a very tall, wraith-like shadowy figure which they claimed was Walking Sam and who reportedly spoke to them and told them to kill themselves. During these encounters the victims claimed that they had felt mysteriously compelled by the being’s words, as if some command was worming into their brain to force them to bend to its will. Many of the people of the area truly believe that this is more than just superstition and folklore, and that this is literally a real entity that is on some dark mission. One tribal elder made a statement during a tribal council meeting, claiming that even the police knew of this phantom, which blogger Mike Crowley wrote of thus: ***The woman, who was elderly but otherwise quite lucid, described Walking Sam as a big man in a tall hat who has appeared around the reservation and caused young people to commit suicides. She said that Walking Sam has been picked up on the police scanners, but that the police have not been able to protect the community from him. She described him as a bad spirit. She wanted help from Washington with foot patrols for the tribal communities to protect them from Walking Sam.***
If any of this is true, then it apparently worked on at least some occasions, as throughout the years there were more suicides and in 2013 there was a spate of 5 suicides on the reservation. By 2014 it was reported that there were at least 103 official suicide attempts on the reservation over a period of several months, although some claimed it was more like 240, and nine of these between the ages of 12 and 24 actually succeeded. Many of these were carried out by hanging, and eerily it was claimed by Oglala Sioux tribe Vice President Thomas Poor Bear that there had been found nooses hung out in the wilds near a place called Porcupine, and that when authorities had gone to remove them they had found that a group of teenagers had congregated there for the purpose of committing a mass suicide. Of course, according to them Walking Sam had told them to do it.
While many people of the area attribute all of this to a mysterious phantom interloper, there are others who see this as just a vestige of folklore intertwining with the rampant poverty and drug abuse seen on the reservation. After all, this is one of the poorest areas of the nation, with more than 60% living below the poverty line and many turning to drugs or alcohol to try and drown their sorrows. In addition, much of the badlands this region encompasses is wholly unsatisfactory for farming, there is little clean water, medical care is poor, and this might as well be a developing country situated right in the United States. In light of this it seems that the suicide rate is bound to jump, as people with no way out make one for themselves, and indeed the suicide rate for reservations such as this are well above the average. In this sense, perhaps the existence of “Walking Sam” may be a way to explain the reason for all of this misfortune. Mike Crowley has said of this: ***Walking Sam may be just one such explanation that resonates among some of the Lakota for teen suicides… [It] shouldn’t distract the reader from the fact that people on the reservations are distraught… Whether Walking Sam represents Bigfoot, an evil spirit, or is just a manifestation of the fear that people have about losing their loved ones to what seems an incomprehensible type of event, the teen suicides are real.***
In the end we are left to ponder just what it is that is going on here in this sparsely populated stretch of desolation. What sort of ancient spirit is stalking these lands, and does it have any connection to any phenomena reported elsewhere? Could this be Skinwalkers, a ghost, a demon, or some other supernatural entity from lore? Or is this all just Native superstitions, myth, and urban legend? There is really no way to know, but the people who have witnessed this dark stranger certainly seem to be convinced of what they have seen. Whether it is all real or not, one is left to wonder if this tall man with no face, this “Walking Sam,” is really out there wandering the wildernesses of South Dakota, and if he is, just what he or it wants.
I SPENT THE NIGHT IN A GRAVEYARD
I spent the night in a graveyard. Well, kind of. We actually went on a series of nights, most recently Halloween, and that time I went alone. Why go to a glitzy, Hollywood-induced costume party when you can celebrate it the old-fashioned way with a good old ghost hunt? A proper stake-out with coffee and biscuits. We went armed with a torch, digital camera, voice recorder, and of course our own senses and judgment – probably the most important tool of all, but also the one most prone to error. Amateurish tech by proper ghost-hunting standards I know, but you have to start somewhere.
As with my previous tale, this one comes from the Scottish town of Troon, specifically an old graveyard and church ruins on the outskirts called Crosbie Kirkyard. It dates back to 1681 but an older church apparently stood on the site as far back as the 1200s, so we’re talking really old here. It was officially closed in 1868 when the town got a bigger cemetery and the gates have been locked ever since. According to legend, the roof of the church blew off during a storm the same night Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet, was born in the nearby town of Ayr. However, that tale sounds apocryphal and made-up. What’s more interesting is a poem made about the place by one John Laing, alleging it to be haunted by “ghaists an’ spunkies” (ghosts and strange lights). Again, don’t just take my word for it; all of this info can be found online. This is a real place with a real history.
If you know the local area well enough, there are a few ways to get there, the most direct being through the woods. The gate is permanently locked and the wall more or less insurmountable, though there is a way in by standing on a tree stump around one side and mounting part of the wall. A cemetery at night was a petrifying thought when I was younger so simply being there in the dark felt like something of an achievement. The hardest part was probably entering in; you’re never sure what’s over the other side of that wall. I almost had to remind myself that somewhere in here was the resting place of a one-time assassin named David Hamilton, though most say it was really his brother who was guilty and that David was just part of the plot, but that’s a debate for another day.
My photos were fairly spooky in themselves, showing dark trees and ruins looming up against a grey sky, not to mention the jagged metal of the cemetery gate, but there was nothing out of the ordinary. A few dust specs maybe. Then I set down my voice recorder and we exited the graveyard, hoping to pick up something in our absence, and returned a half hour later.
Just as the novelty of it all was wearing off, we took a seat on an overturned gravestone (sorry dead person!) and were gazing at the stars when a white streak of light came zooming past right above us. My friend thought it might be a shooting star, but it seemed much too low and small. Shooting stars travel in an arc whereas this light just shot straight by in a perfect line. If that was weird, it was to get even weirder.
As we set out on our way home another one of these lights appeared just over the ruined church, zooming into the treeline. It was lucky I turned my head round at that moment to catch it; I wonder how many lights there were that we didn’t see. There was no doubting it this time; it was way too low and minuscule to be a shooting star. I can only describe these lights as tiny white balls or globes which travelled very fast. Either it was a ghost (whatever that might be) or I witnessed a strange light phenomenon, possibly something similar to what we might now call will-o’-the-wisps or something we don’t know about yet. Maybe these lights were the ‘spunkies’ reported in John Laing’s poem centuries earlier. ‘Spunkie’ is an old Scots word which basically meant a strange light or glowing.
The following evening I listened back to the audio from my voice recorder, all 27 minutes of it, and I did find something, however faint. In-between the gentle wind and car noises is what sounds like a tap followed by three or four footsteps. I rewound and compared it with my own footsteps at the start of the recording and the sound was practically identical. I also tried reproducing the ‘tap’ sound by touching the screen of the phone and playing it back, and that too sounded quite similar. The whole segment is unique in the whole footage. Was it simply another person, you might ask? Well, although a main road runs nearby, barely anyone walks this way, especially at night; it’s a bit out of the way. Type in ‘Crosbie Churchyard’ on Google Maps and you’ll see what I mean. And I think it’s a pretty fair assumption that we were the only weirdos going into this place at night. I suppose the likeliest explanation is an animal, but the footsteps sounded too slow and heavy to be a squirrel or rabbit, though that’s just my own personal judgment.
Nothing happened on the other nights but that still can’t diminish our experiences from the first time. Beginner’s luck I suppose. In fact the only vaguely paranormal thing we encountered on the second night was a noise outside my friend’s house on the homeward journey. Then the thought came to me that what we call the paranormal probably works in a very funny way or, bizarre as it sounds, like fishing. You can go 10 times and only catch something once or twice. All my run-ins with ‘ghosts’ so far have had that kind of theme: there’s something there, not overly clear or discernible, but still quite out of the ordinary, then in an instant it’s gone or doesn’t show up again. It’s not as if you can catch it up close and take it back to test in a lab, but you know there was definitely a weird element about the experience.
I don’t give much credit to feelings of being watched or of a ‘presence’ (after all, that you feel scared is a fact about yourself and not your surroundings), but I suppose it’s not a bad thing to say that at no point in the investigation was I genuinely frightened or alarmed. I even liked it in there, the magical stillness of it all. If one thing’s for sure it’s that the dead are less likely to harm you than the living, but whether they are all truly at rest, I still can’t say.
THE STUBBORN PIANO
The following is an old African-American folktale that, while probably not true, is entertaining nonetheless.
There was a man who had a farm and a farmhouse with a nice big front room. He lived there alone after his had wife had died. His wife had loved one thing in this world more than anything else, and that was to play the piano sitting in that front room. When she was alive, she would sit there every night and hit those keys to make beautiful music. And when it came time for her to leave this world, she called her husband to her bedside and made him promise that he would never, ever sell that piano or move if from the house. That’s how much she loved that piano.
So for many years that’s what the man did. He just let that piano sit there. But came time he was getting old, and getting tired of taking care of that big farm and that big house. He decided he wanted to sell it and move somewhere smaller. So he started to pack up all his things and move his furniture out of the house.
He had his bed and his sofa and all his other furniture sitting out on the porch ready to move away. And then he went to move that piano. He hauled that piano out onto the porch with the rest of the furniture. Well, that piano just lifted up its legs and walked right back to where it had been sitting all those years.
The man hauled it out onto the porch again. But it got up again and walked right back to where it had been.
This went on and on. That piano just would not go.
Finally, the man got so angry about it he said he pay a whole bunch of money to anyone who could move that piano.
There was an old root woman who lived nearby. Everybody went to root women in those days to take care of any kind of unusual problem. This old root woman heard that the man was offering a whole bunch of money to anyone who could move that piano, and she thought that she sure would like a whole bunch of money, and that a piano that moved by itself was a mighty unusual problem. So she reckoned that she was just the one to take care of it.
So she went to the old man and told him that she was the one to move that piano, and that she’d be dancing in Hell if she couldn’t move it. The man told her to go get her roots and such and see what she could do.
When the root woman came back, her mother was walking right behind her, yelling at her. Her daughter had told her what she’d said about dancing in Hell, and that root woman’s mother was going on and on about people making big promises and saying what they hoped would happen to them if they couldn’t keep those promises, and how they could come to regret saying what they hoped would happen to them if they couldn’t do what they said they’d do.
But that root woman didn’t listen to her mother. She took her roots and such and started trying to move the piano. She got it out onto the porch, but the same thing happened again. That piano got up and started moving. Only this time that piano was moving fast, so fast that it knocked that root woman down and it killed her and she died. Now everybody says that they believe that she’s dancing in Hell.
The Ridges Asylum, formerly the Athens Lunatic Asylum, was a facility for the mentally ill, opened on January 9, 1874 in Athens, Ohio. The state had recruited Thomas Kirkbride, a founding member of the Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane, to design the facility. He believed that asylums should be large, self-sufficient communities and thought it was therapeutic for patients to be in a place that resembled a home.
The main building was four stories high with two wings, separating patients by gender, patients were then divided into 10 different groups based on their diagnosis. They also housed patients based on the severity of their illnesses—the most violent lived in the farthest wings of the facility while those non-violent, not exhibiting severe symptoms, were kept closer to the center of the building, where they could mingle with hospital staff.
As the years wore on, the facility began to become overcrowded due to a consistent influx of patients being admitted. By the 1950s, the asylum was over three times its capacity as they housed over 2,000 patients. Modern day treatment of people with mental illness still leaves much room for improvement, and looking back, what transpired at the Ridges Asylum is truly terrifying.
The facility closed in 1993 and is currently run by Ohio University.
Dr. Walter Freeman first made a name for himself treating patients during World War II at a Veteran’s Affairs hospital. Doctors there noted that he and his partner were treating patients with mental illness by cutting into the skull and slicing through neural fibers in the brain.
Freeman really pushed the boundaries of practicing ethical medicine, essentially having no regard for the patient’s ownership of their own bodies. He advocated for VA psychiatrists who were not trained in surgery to be able to perform lobotomies themselves, and figured since they were already in there, they should remove samples of brain tissue for further testing.
This sounds like a serious and painful procedure because it absolutely is. Freeman didn’t use typical anesthetics for his lobotomies, he used electroshock.
António Egas Moniz is credited with creating the lobotomy, a procedure that was intended to treat those with mental illness.
Although there are several ways to perform a lobotomy, the procedure itself is fairly simple–you have your patient and your pick, you drive your pick through your patient’s eye socket. The pick would be placed just above the eyelid and eyeball and hammered into the skull. From there, the pick would be used to sever connections in the front of the brain. A nurse at the asylum reported that the procedure sounded like cloth tearing.
The frontal lobe is typically responsible for personality, behavior, and voluntary movement, making it a prime location for correcting what was seen as undesirable thoughts or behavior during that time.
This procedure became increasingly popular and instead of it being used only in severe cases, the lobotomy was used to treat lively kids whose parents just wanted a docile child, insomnia, and depression. Patients rarely remembered anything about the procedure or Dr. Walter Freeman, which is unsurprising given that they had been shocked and had their frontal lobes scrambled.
Mental illnesses can differ vastly from patient to patient, by diagnosis, and even day to day. Early healthcare professionals and staff believed they had cutting-edge technology in the treatment of those in their care, however it was rather barbaric.
Lobotomies, shock therapy, and ice water drips were all used on hospitalized patients before medication became commonplace treatment in the 70s.
The asylum became a dumping ground for family members who felt like they had nowhere to turn. While some patients battled schizophrenia, others were admitted due to menopause, postpartum depression, tuberculosis, or certain disabilities.
Eventually the grounds blossomed, the facility grew to include cottages, an amusement hall, and even a farm.
Some say the farm at The Ridges was self-sufficient, and they’re right…to a point.
The farm at the asylum raised cattle and pigs, had an orchard, and a general farm, all of which needed tending to. This is where the patients came in.
It was believed that physical work was therapeutic, and who could argue that someone in a mental institution couldn’t benefit from raising animals for slaughter?
Thankfully, by the 1950s, The Ridges reverted back to outsourcing their labor as, much like the prison system, there were complaints over the use of free labor.
53-year-old Margaret Schilling was a patient at the asylum in 1978, and by this time the patient population had drastically decreased. This was largely due to the fact that regular hospitals had begun to accept patients that would have been sent to state run asylums.
As hospital records are still sealed, not much is known about Margaret’s past, her treatments, or why she was even in the asylum to begin with.
At this time, certain patients were allowed to move freely within the asylum and the grounds, though they had to be back in the building and accounted for at the end of the day. This policy is what allowed Maragret to wander off into a rather isolated part of the building.
That frigid December night, staff members were unable to find Margaret. This winter was rather historic, being one of the coldest on record. They searched the building, the attic, the grounds, and the attic again. They called out for her. She was gone.
Six weeks went by before they found her…because of the smell. Margaret was found dead in the attic. Her naked body was in the middle of the concrete floor, her clothing neatly folded and stacked on the window sill. It was now January of 1979 and highway patrol had to be called out to assist in moving the body. Strangely, underneath Margaret’s body was a mark.
It was the shape of her body and it couldn’t be removed. Workers scrubbed and scrubbed and couldn’t get it to come out. Some paranormal investigators and fans of lore believe the stain to be haunted. It attracts television shows, journalists, and brazen bypassers who choose to break in just to be able to touch Margaret Schilling’s final resting place.
However, the case may not be as mysterious as they may want to believe. Some staffers feel as though Margaret intentionally went up to the attic and wanted to die. This doesn’t explain the duration of time that she was missing, nor does it help clarify how her body was found in the same place that had been searched multiple times before. But the stain? There’s some science behind that.
Some graduate students analyzed the stain in 2008 and found that the cause of the stain was simply the way her body had begun to decompose combined with the harsh and toxic 70s cleaning products used to try to sterilize the area. Essentially, they unknowingly sealed in an imprint of a deceased patient.
There are rumors that Margaret may have been hearing impaired or perhaps she had been overmedicated by asylum staff, both reasonable possibilities behind why she may not have been able to respond to the search team when they tried to find her.
It’s heartbreaking to know that she died alone in freezing temperatures, away from her husband and locked away in an asylum. Perhaps those who hypothesize her death was intentional, an act of willful suicide, would prefer to think she died on her own terms rather than at the hands of a flawed medical system.
It’s not necessarily uncommon for a cemetery to be nearby a church or hospital, but the Ridges Asylum had a few, with more than 1,900 people buried on the property.
Many of the grave stones are only marked by number and are the final resting place for veterans, patients, and cadavers used by Ohio University.
Oddly, one graveyard has all of the headstones arranged in a circle. This is allegedly considered a circle of power by some witches and those who practice black magic, though some think this was simply a very misguided prank pulled by students in the 1920s.
Across from the asylum is another cemetery, separated by a creek.
Several graves are accessible by a bridge and are said to be home to murderers. Fearing these spirits are sinister, many people believe the alleged murderers were laid to rest there because spirits can’t cross water.
Jim “Jack” Croc, an alligator, was brought to the grounds by an employee in the 1950s. He was one of three alligators, but he was, for some reason, the most famous.
During the warmer months, Jack lived in the fountain on the grounds but he was moved to a plastic kiddie pool in the basement.
One has to wonder about the psychological and ecological effects of three alligators living on the grounds of a mental health treatment institution.
As with any older building, many people believe the Ridges Asylum is haunted. Thanks to folklore and media representation, mental health institutions are believed to be dark, evil places, filled with sad and angry spirits.
One rumor tells the tale of a college student who broke into the grounds after they had closed in 1993. They allegedly found Margaret’s body stain and touched it, which led to being tormented by ghosts–so much so that they ended up killing themselves.
Although the asylum closed in 1993, Ohio University took over building. They renovated parts of the facility to create an art museum, studios, and offices.
Dear Weird Darkness: So glad I found your podcast. Love your show – keep up the good work. I am the Case Manager of a paranormal investigation team in Sacramento, CA.
This story is about my husband Robert and his first investigation with the team. In order to understand I have to give you a little background about my husband. He is a Vietnam Veteran who was wounded on his second tour. He was wounded in a running firefight by 3 hand grenades. He was hit in both arms, both legs and has a plate in his head but to meet him you would never know it. He had been pronounced dead at one point so now likes to let me know that there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Robert is a Marine and part of 3rd Force Recon just after the Tet Offensive. He wasn’t quite 18. He was part of an 8 man team and the only survivor. One road a motorcycle into a brick wall, another walked into the China Sea, and the rest died due to Agent Orange. He doesn’t speak much of those years and I don’t push it.
We were going to investigate the Washoe Club in Virginia City, Nevada. A “ghost town” with a population of more dead than alive souls. It was late at night and we were on the 2nd floor. These old building have halls that connect many of the rooms and shorter entry ways from the main hall to the room. We were sitting side by side on folding chairs watching the main hall. The main hall goes to the “Ballroom”. Suddenly Robert asked me if I had seen them. “No” I responded. I hadn’t seen anything. I could hear the agitation in his voice. This is a man that does not rattle easily. Then he got up and started toward the hall and going from room to room. “I saw you” he said, “what do you want?”. Now I have become concerned. I can hear it in his voice as he kept asking from room to room. Finally he asked our friends if they had seen someone, smelled something strange. They responded that they hadn’t seen anyone but they had smelled something. It smelled damp, humid and a bit like body odor. You must remember that this was in the beginning of April and Virginia City was just above freezing so body odor would generally not be a problem.
When I finally got Robert to tell me what he had seen. What he had seen was his 7 guys going down the hall in two lines just as they would have when heading to get their orders. He thought they had come for him.
We sat down later and came up with a more accurate explanation. The Washoe Club has been known over the years for having some not nice spirits. They were there to protect him. Later we got confirmation. When Robert goes on investigations nothing will happen when he is in a room but once he leaves the activity will amp up. We now have Robert watch the monitors.
GRAVE OF FEMALE STRANGER
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Cemetery in Alexandria, Virginia is home to a most peculiar grave—one that bears no name, only a haunting inscription: “To the memory of a Female Stranger.” The identity of the soul at rest beneath the headstone remains a mystery, attracting visitors and inspiring ghostly tales since at least 1833.
The inscription in its entirety reads as follows: “To the memory of a Female Stranger whose mortal sufferings terminated on the 14th day of October 1816. Aged 23 years and 8 months. This stone is placed here by her disconsolate Husband in whose arms she sighed out her latest breath and who under God did his utmost even to soothe the cold dead ear of death. How loved, how valued once avails thee not/To whom related or by whom begot/A heap of dust alone remains of thee/Tis all thou art and all the proud shall be. To him gave all the Prophets witness that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. Acts 10th Chap. 43rd verse.”
The poetic verses are taken from Alexander Pope’s 1717 poem “Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady,” with a few alterations. The first print mention of the Grave of the Female Stranger appears to be in a poem published in the Alexandria Gazette in 1834, which details a visit to the tomb. The poem was published under the initials S.D. and later revealed to be the work of poet Susan Rigby Dallam Morgan of Baltimore, Maryland.
Ms. Morgan also wrote about the grave in her column for The Philadelphia Sunday Courier under the pen name Lucy Seymour. In an entry from 1836, Morgan wrote that the Stranger had been a foreign woman of “tearful face and a pale complexion” who traveled with a male companion said to be her husband, though locals doubted this claim. According to Morgan, the only soul that the Stranger confided in before her passing was a local pastor, whose name is also lost to time.
Articles about the Female Stranger continued to surface throughout the years, growing more mysterious with each publication. In 1848, the Alexandria Gazette published a letter that claimed the grave belonged to a beautiful woman of pale complexion who was accompanied by a disreputable man. The companion gave his surname as “Clermont” and paid his bills with $1,500 in counterfeit English currency.
An 1886 version published in the Hyde Park Herald added such dark Gothic details as a doctor sworn to secrecy and a reclusive husband who kept his wife’s face hidden behind a veil and forbade anyone to speak to her or attend her funeral. An account published in the Washington Evening Star suggested that the Female Stranger and her male companion were doomed lovers. Yet another penned by Col. Fred Massey in the Cincinnati Commercial Gazette in 1887 adds that the lovers were European nobles who absconded to Alexandria, and that the Female Stranger died in her husband’s arms with their lips locked in a final kiss. The husband buried his partner in secrecy then disappeared from town, only to return in the dead of night and exhume her body to take it with him.
With little in the way of concrete proof, multiple theories as to the true identity of the Female Stranger have circulated. Some are comic in their outlandishness—one suggests that the Female Stranger was, in fact, Napoleon Bonaparte in drag—while others possess a whiff of truth. A persistent theory claims that the Female Stranger is actually Theodosia Burr Alston, the daughter of Vice President Aaron Burr, who disappeared at sea some four years before the recorded death date of the Female Stranger.
Whoever she was—if she existed at all—the Female Stranger has left a lasting impression on Alexandria. Tourists visit her grave to this day. The stranger’s spirit, too, still lingers. She is said to have died in Room 8 at the nearby Gadsby’s Tavern. Some claim that her ghost haunts the room in which she passed, and can be seen standing at the window and gazing out the glass.