“WHAT HAPPENED IN ROOM 1046?” and 3 More True Terrors – PLUS BLOOPERS!! #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS EPISODE: When Roland T. Owen signed in to rent a room at the Hotel President in Kansas City on the afternoon of January 2nd, 1935, it began a chain of strange and bizarre events and behavior that baffle mystery and crime enthusiasts even today. (The Horror in Room 1046) *** If you are planning a visit to the beautiful Banff Hotel in the Canadian Rockies you might discover that the rumor is true, it very much is haunted. (Room 873 at the Banff Hotel) *** Does the ghost of a shoemaker continue to reside in Winston-Salem, North Carolina? (The Little Red Man of Old Salem) *** (Originally aired September 18, 2020)
SOURCES AND REFERENCES FROM THE EPISODE…
“Room 873 at the Banff Hotel” by Joseph D. Kubal for Spooky Things Online: https://tinyurl.com/y4zvrsza
“House on the Hill” by Weirdo family member Mona Thompson
“The Horror In Room 1046” by Undine for Strange Company: https://tinyurl.com/y32x9gkm
“The Little Red Man of Old Salem” by Tim Bullard for the Camel City Dispatch: https://tinyurl.com/y55n97f8
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Paranormality Magazine: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/paranormalitymag
Micro Terrors: Scary Stories for Kids: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/microterrors
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DISCLAIMER: Stories and content in Weird Darkness can be disturbing for some listeners and intended for mature audiences only. Parental discretion is strongly advised.
Welcome, Weirdos – (I’m Darren Marlar and) this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, the strange and bizarre, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.
Coming up in this episode…
Weirdo family member Mona Thompson tells about the scary experience she had in a house on a hill. (House On The Hill)
If you are planning a visit to the beautiful Banff Hotel in the Canadian Rockies you might discover that the rumor is true, it very much is haunted. (Room 873 at the Banff Hotel)
Does the ghost of a shoemaker continue to reside in Winston-Salem, North Carolina? (The Little Red Man of Old Salem)
When Roland T. Owen signed in to rent a room at the Hotel President in Kansas City on the afternoon of January 2nd, 1935, it began a chain of strange and bizarre events and behavior that baffle mystery and crime enthusiasts even today. (The Horror in Room 1046)
If you’re new here, welcome to the show! While you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com for merchandise, to visit sponsors you hear about during the show, sign up for my newsletter, enter contests, connect with me on social media, plus, you can visit the Hope in the Darkness page if you’re struggling with depression or dark thoughts. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
STORY: THE HORROR IN ROOM 1046=====
In Kansas City, Missouri, on the afternoon of January 2, 1935, a man walked into the Hotel President and asked for a room several floors up. He carried no luggage. He signed the register as “Roland T. Owen,” of Los Angeles, and paid for one day’s stay. He was described as a tall, “husky” young man with a cauliflower ear and a large scar on the side of his head. He was given room 1046.
On the way to his room, Owen told the bellboy, Randolph Propst, that he had originally thought to check into the Muehlebach Hotel, but was put off by the high price of $5 a night. When they reached 1046, Owen took a comb, brush, and toothpaste out of his coat pocket and placed them in the bathroom. Then, the pair went back out in the hall, where the bellboy locked the door. He gave Owen the key, after which the new guest left the hotel and the bellboy returned to his usual duties.
Later that day, a maid went to clean 1046. Owen was inside the room. He allowed her in, telling her to leave the door unlocked, as he was shortly expecting a friend. She noticed that the shades were tightly drawn, with only one small lamp to provide illumination. She later told police that Owen seemed nervous, even afraid. While she cleaned up, Owen put on his coat and left, reminding the maid not to lock the door.
Around 4 p.m., the maid returned to 1046 with fresh towels. The door was still unlocked, and the room still eerily dim. Owen was lying on the bed, fully dressed. She saw a note on the desk that read, “Don, I will be back in fifteen minutes. Wait.”
The next we know of Owen’s movements came at about 10:30 the next morning, when the maid came to clean his room. She unlocked the door with a passkey (something she could only do if the door had been locked from the outside.) When she entered, she was a bit unnerved to see Owen sitting silently in a chair, staring into the darkness. This awkward moment was broken by the ringing of the phone. Owen answered it. After listening for a moment, he said, “No, Don, I don’t want to eat. I am not hungry. I just had breakfast.” After he hung up, for some reason he began interrogating the maid about the President Hotel and her duties there. He repeated his complaint about the high rates of the Muehlebach.
The maid finished tidying the room, took the used towels, and left, no doubt happy to leave this strange guest.
That afternoon, she again went to 1046 with clean towels. Outside the door, she heard two men talking. She knocked, and explained why she was there. An unfamiliar voice responded gruffly that they didn’t need any towels. The maid shrugged to herself and left.
Later that day, a Jean Owen (no relation to Roland) registered at the President, and was given room 1048. She did not have a peaceful night. She was continually bothered by the loud sounds of several male and female voices arguing violently in the adjoining room. Mrs. Owen later heard a scuffle and a “gasping sound” which at the time she assumed was snoring. She debated calling the desk clerk, but unfortunately decided against it.
Charles Blocher, the graveyard shift elevator operator at the hotel, also noticed unusual activity that night. There was what he assumed was a particularly noisy party in room 1055. Some time after midnight, he took a woman to the 10th floor. She was looking for room 1026. He had seen her around the President numerous times–she was, as he put it discreetly, “a woman who frequents the hotel with different men in different rooms.”
A few minutes later, he was signaled to return to the 10th floor. The woman was concerned because the man who had arranged to meet her there was nowhere to be found. Being unable to help her, Blocher went back downstairs. About half an hour later, the woman summoned him again to take her down to the lobby. About an hour later, she returned to the elevator with a man. Blocher took them to the 9th floor. Around 4 a.m. the woman left the hotel, followed about fifteen minutes later by the man. This couple was never identified, and it is unknown what, if anything, they had to do with Owen and room 1046.
At about 11 p.m. that same night, a city worker named Robert Lane was driving on a downtown street when he saw a man running down the sidewalk. He was puzzled to see that on this winter night, the stranger was wearing only pants and an undershirt.
The man waved Lane down, thinking he was a taxi driver. When he saw his mistake, he apologized and asked if Lane could take him someplace where he could get a cab. Lane agreed, commenting, “You look as if you’ve been in it bad.” The man nodded and growled “I’ll kill that [expletive discreetly deleted in newspaper reports] tomorrow.” Lane noticed his passenger had a wound on his arm.
When they reached their destination, the man thanked Lane, then exited the car and hailed a cab. Lane drove off, having no idea that he had just played a minor role in one of his city’s weirdest murder mysteries.
Around 7 a.m. the next morning, the President’s telephone operator noticed that the phone in room 1046 was off the hook. After three hours had passed without anyone placing the phone in its cradle, she sent Randolph Propst to tell whoever was there to hang up. The bellboy found the door locked, with a “Don’t disturb” sign out. When he knocked, after a moment he heard a voice tell him to come in. When he tried the door, he found it was still locked. He knocked again, only to have the voice tell him to turn on the lights. After a couple more minutes of fruitless knocking, Propst finally yelled, “Put the phone back on the hook!” and left, shaking his head at what he assumed was their crazy drunken guest.
An hour and a half later, the operator saw the phone was still unhooked. She sent another bellboy, Harold Pike, up to deal with the problem. Pike found 1046 still locked. He used a passkey to open the door–showing that it had again been locked from the outside. In the dimness, he was able to make out that Owen was lying on the bed naked. The telephone stand had been knocked down, and the phone was on the ground. The bellboy put the stand upright and replaced the phone.
Like Propst, he assumed their guest was merely drunk. He left without bothering to check Owen’s condition more closely.
Shortly before 11 a.m., another telephone operator noticed that the phone in 1046 was again off the hook. Once again, Propst was sent up to the room. He found the “Don’t disturb” sign still on the door. After his knocks got no response, he opened the door with his passkey and walked inside.
The bellboy found something far worse than mere intoxication. Owen, still naked, was crouched on the floor, holding his bloody head in his hands. When Propst turned on the light, he saw more blood on the walls and in the bathroom. The frightened bellboy rushed out and told the assistant manager, who summoned police.
The officers found that about six or seven hours earlier, someone had done dreadful things to Roland Owen. He had been tied up and repeatedly stabbed. His skull was fractured from several savage blows. His neck was bruised, suggesting he had been strangled. Blood was everywhere. This small hotel room had been turned into a torture chamber. When questioned about what had happened, the semiconscious Owen only muttered, “I fell against the bathtub.” A search of the room found more strangeness. There was not a single stitch of clothing anywhere in 1046. The room’s standard soap, shampoo, and towels were also gone. All they found was a label from a necktie, an unsmoked cigarette, four bloody fingerprints on a lampshade, and a hairpin. There was also no sign of the cords which must have been used to bind Owen and the weapon that stabbed him. A hotel employee reported that several hours before Owen was found, he had seen a man and a woman leave the President hurriedly. There was no doubt that, in the words of one of the detectives, “someone else is mixed up in this.”
While Owen was being rushed to the hospital, he fell into a coma. He died later that night.
Meanwhile, investigators were quickly realizing that this was no ordinary murder. Los Angeles police found no record of any Roland T. Owen, which led to the assumption that the victim had checked in using a pseudonym. An anonymous woman phoned police the night of Owen’s death, saying that she thought the dead man lived in Clinton, Missouri.
“Owen’s” body was taken to a funeral home, where it was publicly displayed in the hope that someone could recognize him. Among the visitors was Robert Lane, who identified him as the peculiar man he had seen on the night of January 3. Several bartenders testified seeing a man matching “Owen’s” description in the company of two women. Police also discovered that the night before “Owen” registered at the President Hotel, a man matching his description had briefly stayed at the Muehlebach, giving his name as “Eugene K. Scott” of Los Angeles. Unsurprisingly, no trace of anyone by that name could be found, either. Earlier, Owen/Scott had stayed at yet another Kansas City hotel, the St. Regis, in the company of a man who was never identified.
They were having no more luck with tracing the “Don” “Owen” had talked to during his stay at the President. Was he the man who was there with the prostitute? Was he the strange voice who had told the maid not to bother bringing in fresh towels? Was “Don” the man “Owen” had told Lane he wanted to kill? Was “Don” the man who had been at the St. Regis with him? All excellent questions, which were fated never to be answered.
Nine days after “Owen” died, a wrestling promoter named Tony Bernardi identified the dead man as someone who had visited him several weeks earlier to sign up for wrestling matches. Bernardi said the man gave his name as “Cecil Werner.”
While all of this established that “Roland Owen” was a very peculiar man, none of it was the slightest help in discovering his real identity, let alone the name of his killer. The woman’s hairpin found in his room, plus the angry male and female voices Jean Owen had heard led to talk that the murder stemmed from a “love triangle,” but that theory remained mere speculation. Police were becoming resigned to writing off his death as one of the unsolved mysteries, and by the beginning of March, preparations were made to bury the John Doe in an unmarked grave.
However, before “Owen” could be brought to the city’s Potter’s Field, the head of the funeral home in charge of the body received an anonymous phone call. The man asked that the burial be delayed until money could be sent to cover the costs of a decent internment. The caller claimed that “Roland T. Owen” was the dead man’s real name, and that Owen had been engaged to the caller’s sister. The funeral director said that the mysterious benefactor told him that Owen “just got into a jam.” He added that the police “are on the wrong track.”
Shortly afterward, the cash arrived via special delivery mail–again anonymously–and “Owen” was finally buried in Memorial Park Cemetery. No one attended the funeral other than a handful of detectives. More money was sent with equal mysteriousness to a local florist to pay for a bouquet of roses for the grave. It was accompanied by a card to be placed with the flowers. It read, “Love forever–Louise.”
The Owen case drifted into obscurity until late 1936, when a woman named Eleanor Ogletree learned of an account of the murder given in the magazine “American Weekly.” She thought the description given of “Owen” matched that of her missing brother Artemus. The Ogletrees had not seen him since he left his home in Birmingham, Alabama in April 1934 to “see the country.” The last his mother Ruby had heard from him were three brief, typewritten letters. The first of these notes arrived in the spring of 1935–several months after “Owen” died. Mrs. Ogletree later said she was suspicious of these letters from the start, as her son did not know how to type. The last letter said he was “sailing for Europe.” Several months after the last letter, she received a phone call from a man calling himself “Jordan. “Jordan” said that Artemus had saved his life in Egypt, and that her son had married a wealthy Cairo woman. When Mrs. Ogletree was shown a photo of “Owen,” she immediately recognized the dead man as her missing son. He was only 17 when he died.
The dead man had finally been identified. Justice for his brutal death, however, remained hopelessly elusive. This is one of those irritating unsolved murders that is nothing but a bunch of questions left in a hopelessly tangled mess. Why was Artemus Ogletree using multiple false names? What was he doing in Kansas City? Who killed him and why? Who was “Louise?” Who was “Jordan?” Who sent the money to pay for Ogletree’s funeral? Who really wrote those letters to Ruby Ogletree? What in God’s name happened in room 1046?
It’s almost certain we will never know. The investigation into Ogletree’s death was briefly reopened in 1937, after detectives noted similarities between his murder and the slaying of a young man in New York, but this also went nowhere. The case has remained in cold obscurity ever since, except for one strange incident about ten years ago. This postscript to the story was related in 2012 by John Horner, a librarian in the Kansas City Public Library who has done extensive research into the Ogletree mystery. One day in 2003 or 2004, someone from out-of-state phoned the library to ask about the case. This caller–who did not give his or her name–said that they had recently gone through the belongings of someone who had recently died. Among these belongings was a box containing old newspaper clippings about the murder. This caller mentioned that this box also contained “something” which had been mentioned in the newspaper reports. Horner’s caller would not say what this “something” was.
It seems only fitting that a case so mysterious throughout should have an equally baffling last act.
Coming up next on Weird Darknesss… Weirdo family member Mona Thompson tells about the scary experience she had in a house on a hill.
But first… if you are planning a visit to the beautiful Banff Hotel in the Canadian Rockies you might discover that the rumor is true, it very much is haunted. That story is up next.
STORY: ROOM 873 AT THE BANFF HOTEL=====
If you’re planning a visit to the astounding Canadian Rockies, see if you can make your way to the town of Banff. The village is nestled in a U-shaped valley carved by an ancient glacier and is surrounded by a magnificent array of mountains. The town of Banff sits on the edge of Banff National Park, Canada’s first national park established in 1885 and was developed after miners discovered natural hot springs in the area.
On the outskirts of the diminutive metropolis is the Fairmont’s Banff Springs Hotel. This impressive inn, also dubbed the “Castle of the Rockies” is well known to Canadians as one of the most haunted places in their country. The hotel is noted for several different purported hauntings.
First, a little about the hotel. It was William Cornelius Van Horne that turned the phrase, “Since we can’t export the scenery, we will have to import the tourists.” The hotel was the brainchild of Van Horne, appointed general manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway. He wanted folks to see the beautiful Canadian Rockies while at the same time profiting his railway and resort. The original Banff Springs Hotel, constructed of wood, was designed by Bruce Price and opened in 1888. The original facility burned down in 1926 and was rebuilt in 1928.
The present buildings were constructed in an amalgam of styles but is considered to be Canadian Chateauesque with elements of Scottish baronial architecture and the Arts and Crafts Movement. Many Americans probably are more familiar with another notable “railway” hotel – Hotel Frontenac in Quebec, also built in this distinctive Canadian architectural style. “Chateauesque features on the building include its steep pitched roofs, pointed dormers, and corner turrets” (Wikipedia, 2018). The 764-room facility sitting about 4,600 feet above sea level is clad in Rundle Limestone and many renovations have been done to the buildings over the years.
Currently, the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is owned and operated by AccorHotels since 2016 as one of a chain of luxury accommodations under the name Fairmont Hotels and Resorts (FH&R). FH&R was formed in 2001 as a result of a merger between Fairmont Hotels and Canadian Pacific Hotels.
In 1988, the hotel became a National Historic Site of Canada and is now considered to be an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Such notables as Queen Elizabeth II, King George VI, Helen Keller, Marilyn Monroe and others have all stayed at this property. But enough of the boring history for now, let’s get to the good stuff – and the reason why you listen to this podcast.
There are several recurring paranormal events generally associated with this hotel.
Our first tale deals with a so-called “secret room.” Upon constructing the pre-fire building, a room inadvertently was built without any windows or doors and subsequently was sealed up. No adverse events occurred in this space but visitors report hearing unexplained noises and paranormal activity in the immediate area. “When the original wood building burned down due to the fire, this mysterious room was discovered” (Haunted Places to Go, 2018). There are no apparent reasons for the inexplicable apparitions and activity. However, some research indicates that this room, when rebuilt, has been combined with another to create a large suite.
Another recurring tale from the hotel is that of Sam McCauley (or McAuley), the friendly obliging ghost. “To say Sam loved working at the hotel would be an understatement. Retiring from his job on numerous occasions he was always drawn back to the role he enjoyed so much. At one point the ageing Sam informed his friends and colleagues that when he died he would return to haunt the Banff Springs Hotel. It seems that Sam was true to his word as he has been witnessed all over the hotel, but particularly on the ninth floor” (Crouch, 2016). Sam died in 1976. Ever since, “incidents involving mysterious phantom lights, elevator doors opening and closing at random, and guests being helped by an elderly Scottish bellman in an antiquated uniform have been attributed to Sam’s ghost” (Peters, n.d.). This good-natured spectre is one of much more recent times. Many reported paranormal activities usually have been associated with events, usually tragic, from the more distant past. The next legend is one of those.
This is a story of sadness taking place sometime during the early 1930s at a young couple’s nuptial. The tale is so iconic that Canada issued a postage stamp as part of the “Haunted Canada” stamp series and a collector coin in its remembrance. The story typically goes as follows. A young bride was either ascending or descending a staircase to meet her new spouse for their first dance as a couple. In one version, the bride tripped on her train sending her tumbling down the staircase breaking her neck. In another version, the poor bride’s dress catches fire from candles that are lining the staircase and she subsequently falls to her death during the ensuing commotion. “Over the years, various hotel patrons and staff have reported seeing a phantasmal bride dancing alone in the Cascade Ballroom or ascending the marble staircase on which the tragic event is rumored to have taken place. Others have heard strange noises emanating from the bridal suite when the room was not is use” (Peters, n.d.). Still, “others have felt the woman’s presence in the bathroom at the top of the stairs where she is said to watch people. Those who descend the stairs she died on can sometimes feel a chill breeze even when there is no draft” (Crouch, 2016). “In addition to this, she has been seen in other areas of the hotel, still wearing her beautiful white wedding dress that she died in” (Haunted Places to Go, 2018). No written records have been able to document or confirm this supposed tragedy.
The spirit of the mother and particularly that of a young girl, her spectral daughter, still seem to linger in the vicinity of one of the inn’s rooms. “Guests who stayed in the room after the subsequent investigation and cleanup reported being awoken in the night by violent shrieks, and chambermaids who routinely cleaned the room would report finding bloody fingerprints on the bathroom mirror that could not be washed off. In response to the disturbing reports, hotel management sealed off the room” (Peters, n.d.). “Since the room has been sealed an impression of a small child sometimes appears on the wall where the door should be. The image has been successfully photographed by some guests” (Crouch, 2016).
“Some other alleged hotel spectres include a ghostly bartender who encourages inebriated patrons to go to bed, and a headless man who, despite his obvious handicap, somehow manages to play the bagpipes” (Peters, n.d.).
Paranormal events such as floating orbs, noises, and ghostly images have been recorded by visitors, but I could not find any evidence of paranormal researchers documenting and corroborating these stories. Staff at the hotel routinely decline to discuss the paranormal activities supposedly taking place at the resort. However, more recently, the hotel has embraced these “occurrences” and now offer regular guided ghost tours with a “haunted” Halloween ball occurring every Fall.
STORY: HOUSE ON THE HILL=====
In 1986 I was visiting my mother, my older sister and my new step father in Cicero, Indiana it was in the country with nothing but corn fields for miles with one small town that contained a gas station, Dairy Queen, small grocery store and video store. I lived in San Antonio, Texas with my father, so this being out in the country like this was new to me. This would be the first and only time I visited at that home. The home in Cicero was big and on a lot of acres, there was a lot of room to roam, we had horses, and a man made pond.
One morning I remember being in the kitchen and my sister and I over heard my mother and step father talking about a house on a hill that was haunted and bad things would happen to anyone who went on the property. Apparently something happened to someone in town that went there. “they were told never to go there so it’s not like they weren’t warned” my step father said referring to whoever they were talking about.
It was maybe a week later and my sister and I were driving into town to get something from the store when my sister pulled onto that property with the house. I told my sister that I didn’t think we should be there, and she said we had nothing to worry about it was just a house. It was a two story brick home that had been neglected for a very long time. There was not really a driveway just an open area to park. We got out of the car and went around the house, nothing seemed scary or weird, just a run down house with a few broken windows. I remember thinking if someone fixed this house up it would be really nice. I walked behind the house and there really wasn’t a back yard but rather a steep drop off that lead into a wood area. I looked further out and that is when I saw a man with dark hair just standing there looking at us. The man was wearing what looked like a florescent vest, like you see road workers wear. I really didn’t think anything about it being from Texas it was not uncommon to see hunters wear the same type of gear so they are not shot by other hunters. I know it sounds crazy, but it happens. The man turned around and went back into the wooded area.
By this time my sister and I had seen everything we wanted to see and left. That night everything was normal until we went to bed. My sister and I each had our own rooms located on the second floor both of our bedroom windows were off the front of the home which faced West. We slept with our windows open because the house was not air conditioned. It was around 2:00 am and my sister comes into my room visibly shaking she woke me up and said come here look at this, from the hallway if you were facing both our bedrooms if you leaned to the left you could see into my sisters room with the window being right in front, if you leaned right you could see into my room with my window right in front. When I looked into my sisters room her curtains were going crazy like a wind storm was outside, but when you looked into my room the curtains laid flat, no movement at all. My sister proceeds to tell me when she woke up there was a native American Indian man at the foot of her bed. ” He didn’t do anything he just stared at me” she said after she said that the curtains immediately went flat, no wind. My sister and I were so scared she slept in my bed that night. To this day we still talk about that weird incident and still do not have any clue what or why that happened, but in the back of my mind I know it had something to do with us going to that house on the hill.
Coming up next… does the ghost of a shoemaker continue to reside in Winston-Salem, North Carolina? I’ll relate the rumors to you when Weird Darkness returns.
STORY: THE LITTLE RED MAN OF OLD SALEM=====
Smells of burning hardwood fill the streets at Old Salem in Winston-Salem as three shy but bold pheasants wiggle haltingly across the road down from the Single Brothers House one July Friday morning, completely unaware humans think there is a ghost living in a cellar there.
Jennifer Bean Bower, associate curator of Photographic Collections at Old Salem, is quite familiar with this specter.
“The Little Red Man ghost story is very popular, and we now actually have a ‘ghost’ tour in October in which visitors can tour the Single Brothers’ House, the place of the accident and sightings at night.
“It is really a lot of fun. To make a long story short, when the Single Brothers House cellar was being excavated the top part of the ground caved in on several of the workers. One man was completely covered by the dirt and later died. His name was Andreas Kremser. He was described as being a short, little man, and legend has it that he was wearing a red jacket at the time of his death.”
That is not the end of the story.
“Shortly after his death ghostly happenings began to occur in the Single Brothers’ House, and sightings of a little red man moving along the hallway were reported,” she said.
Near Old Salem downtown yellowing newspapers are stacked as researchers scour The North Carolina Room at the Winston-Salem Forsyth County Library. Reba Jones smiles behind the desk. It’s very quiet.
She was a tour guide at Old Salem, a native of Winston-Salem. A past president of the Forsyth County Genealogical Society, formed in 1982, she is adept at sharing the history of the area and enjoys doing so.
“I had to oversee everything that was going on in the society. Before you become president, you have to be president-elect, and you get up all the programs for a whole year for every year. As the president, you kind of oversee everything that is going on.” From 1981 to 1989 she was a tour guide at Old Salem.
“When I would have a tour with the school children, they would ask me about the Little Red Man in the Single Brothers House. I would ask them if they believed in ghosts, and if they said yes, I would say ‘Yes, that’s story’s true.’ If they said no, then I said ‘No, it’s not true.’ You have to believe in ghosts.”
Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever thought you noticed something in the middle of the night that looked out of the ordinary? Maybe there was a silhouette at your window in the darkness outside your room on a dark and stormy night. Some people don’t mind walking in a graveyard at midnight or thereafter. Some people are superstitious. If you are frightened by unexplained events, then maybe you should cease reading from this point on because some of what follows has never been reported until this thorough investigation.
“It’s a fascinating story, and it’s one we like to tell because it is a story of something that did happen there, that they could see the Little Red Man after he had passed away there. They could see the Little Red Man. If you’ve read the story, it says that they thought they saw a little red man down there. That’s the reason, that man’s ghost who got killed down there.”
Does she believe in ghosts?
“Yes and no,” she said. “Yes and no.” Stories like this can be positive for tourism, she admitted.
“I think it does. When they come to Old Salem, if they’ve heard it before, they want to hear about it,” she said, admitting that the history of Old Salem is interesting. “It’s very, very interesting. You can never learn everything from Old Salem.” George Washington visited Old Salem.
“Ghosts of Old Salem and other tales” compiled by Richard W. Starbuck is a good reference. The Moravian Archives of Winston-Salem, N.C. and the Forsyth County Library is also a good start, an archive produced by Adelaide L. Fries, who spent 40 years as an archivist for the Moravian Church and chief historian. Everywhere one goes, you hear a story about Kremser. One Davidson County man said he was playing Kremser for a Halloween event in the cellar at Old Salem, donning a red hat, and between tours he was alone and heard the tapping.
In “Ghosts of Old Salem & Other Tales” by Richard Starbuck from the Moravian Archives at the Forsyth County Library, it is reported that in the Advent season a Candle Tea is held annually in the house, and some folks have been scared because of unexplained noises.
Kremser was buried in God’s Acre at Old Salem, born March 7, 1753 in Gnadenhutten, Pa., brought up in the home until age three. He lived in Bethlehem and in Nazareth. In October 1766 he moved to North Carolina where he was a shoemaker in Bethabara.
You will learn this and much more in the mass of very interesting papers “Records of the Moravians in North Carolina” compiled and edited by Adelaide L. Fries, chief historian and archivist for 40 years for the Moravian Church of America South Province. There is Volume 5, 1784-1792 which is interesting, part of the records of the N.C. Historical Commission. Starbuck was her assistant archivist and assistant.
The record books by Fries are under lock and key for fear of theft, and they cannot leave The North Carolina Room.
One footnote read, “The tragic death of Andreas Kremser gave rise to the tradition of the Little Red Man of the Brothers House, though in fact it offers no foundation for a ghost story.” In Feb. 6, 1772 he moved to Salem. Just before going to the excavation March 25, 1786 he went to the Festal services of his choir and congregation, and he was “quiet all day.” The next day was the day of the excavation. About half past 11 he was warned by a brother who saw him kneeling while working, according to the history books.
According to Fries’ account, March 25: “During the night the Single Brethren had an unusual and sorrowful experience. Some days ago they began digging the cellar for the addition to their house, and several Brethren were working there in the evenings without charge, and they were doing it this evening after service.
“The Brethren were using a method which expedited the digging and which had worked well so far, that is they had undermined a part of the bank and then break it off from above the ridges. Several Brethren had noticed that on the side where they were now working, the soil was sandy and loose, and they doubted the advisability of using the above-mentioned method, indeed warned earnestly against it: “Few of the Brethren who were working there could see the danger, but most of them took every care, especially when the warning was repeated. When a rather long section had been undermined, the brother who had been stationed above on guard noticed that it was breaking of its own weight and quickly gave the alarm.” This was around midnight Kremser was a small man, and he was wearing a red cap when the bank caved in on him.
“And most of the Brethren below were able to avoid the falling earth. To their horror, however, they saw that two Brethren had been covered, Andreas Kremser, completely, and Joseph Dixon, to his armpits. All the Brethren hurried to the scene, including those who had already gone to bed. And in a few minutes they had dug out both of the Brethren. Brother Dixon had not been injured, and after being bled, he recovered entirely in a few hours.” Kremser had been buried alive. He allegedly spoke, “complaining of pain.” His left leg was broken, according to the records. A “Doctor Lewis” was there and opened a vein in his arm, “but little blood flowed, and there were soon signs of his approaching departure.” There were many tears.
“Brother Kremser, however, of whose recovery there was hope at first, became weaker and weaker. At about two o’clock in the morning he passed away very quietly, having received the blessing of the congregation and of his choir, given with deep emotion and yet in faith. A thousand thanks were given to our dear Lord for the escape of so many Brethren for who the danger was almost as great.”
Sunday, March 26: “The litany, the homecoming of Brother Andreas Kremser was mentioned in the usual manner.”
March 27: “At one o’clock there was the funeral of our beloved brother Andreas Kremser. Brother Koehler pointed out that our Savior allows nothing to happen to His children except what is best for them and what will promote the object of our faith, that is the salvation of our souls. This must be our point of view in our faith because in our ignorance of His wise designs we do not understand something unusual and affecting the fate and unusual departure of our Brother Kremser. It makes us very sad, but without doubt it was best for him for his heart was so that he was ready to enter into eternal salvation. The index of the books note other facts about his life – Kremser’s bills were paid, and the remainder was to be sent to his mother in Bethlehem, Pa. He swept the most important chimneys, the records showed, because one family had the measles.
On one March 4 he left the shoe shop and worked in the Single Brother’s kitchen, one page noted. Nov. 16 – “To bring the chimney sweeping into better order Brother Kremser shall be told to divide the list, sweeping part each month and sweeping certain chimneys every month.”
One brother said that Kremser had not been able to climb his chimney, however, that other larger men had been able to do so. Kremser reportedly said that the chimneys ought to be made larger.
Once Kremser took a stack of diaries and letters of May, June and July to Bethabara, and they were entrusted to a man returning to Pennsylvania, the records showed. Although Kremser’s spirit had passed on from this world, his antics had stayed behind.
“Afterward an unusual sound was heard at night, like a tap, tap, tapping of a shoemaker’s hammer. And they would say, ‘There’s Kremser.’”
People would hear light steps in the hallway, according to the history books. Sometimes people would catch a glimpse of a little fellow in a red cap going past a door. “Little Betsy” went sometimes to visit her aging grandmother in this building when times brought change and females to the building. The girl had just learned to talk since a serious illness had left her deaf. She knew nothing of ghosts.
One day she came to her grandmother with excitement, ‘Betsy saw little man out there,’ according to the records, adding the man beckoned her with his finger as a child signals another to play.
Years passed, and a substantial citizen was shown the cellar, and the Little Red Man appeared as they tried to catch him with no success while the phantom grinned at them from the doorway. The citizen was not addicted to alcohol, the documents added.
Finally visiting minister held an exorcism with the command, “Little Red Man, go to rest,” and he has not been seen since There are no such things as ghosts.
There are no such things as ghosts. Fear of death and the unknown strikes fear into mortal beings, so therefore we are frightened of the unexplained. But why do skeletons and tombstones gives us the creeps? The prayer said at Kremser’s funeral enlightens us to our mortal journey’s end. Remember. There are no such things as ghosts.
Thanks for listening (and be sure to stick around for the bloopers at the end)! If you like the show, please share it with someone you know who loves the paranormal or strange stories, true crime, monsters, or unsolved mysteries like you do! You can email me anytime with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find information on any of the sponsors you heard about during the show, find all of my social media, listen to audiobooks I’ve narrated, sign up for the email newsletter, find other podcasts that I host including “Church of the Undead”, visit the store for Weird Darkness merchandise, and more. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find the Hope in the Darkness page if you or someone you know is struggling with depression or dark thoughts. Also on the website, if you have a true paranormal or creepy tale to tell, you can click on TELL YOUR STORY. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
All stories on Weird Darkness are purported to be true unless stated otherwise, and you can find links to the stories or the authors in the show notes.
“Room 873 at the Banff Hotel” by Joseph D. Kubal for Spooky Things Online
“House on the Hill” by Weirdo family member Mona Thompson
“The Horror In Room 1046” by Undine for Strange Company
“The Little Red Man of Old Salem” by Tim Bullard for the Camel City Dispatch
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry.” – Jonah 2:2
And a final thought… “The truly rich are those who enjoy what they have.” – Yiddish Proverb
And a final thought…
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.