Kampsville Grade School Raw Footage #1 (June): This was actually the second time I had investigated this mysterious grade school with Shana, but it’s the first “raw footage” video of the series. Phantom footsteps are heard overhead…
Paranormal Roads: The Exchange Hotel (June): A wonderfully preserved historic location in Virginia that has once been used as a Civil War hospital
Paranormal Point of Interest: The Great Valley House (July): A little known historic location in Pennsylvania that contains the only known type of stone sink of its kind in the United States. Walkthrough plus an EVP session with Shana at a crypt embedded in a stone wall near the house.
It’s so much more than ghosts. To gaze upon a relic is to infuse yourself with everything that relic has come to represent: the people, the era, the ambience. History in today’s society has been relegated to the monotonous memorization of names and dates of people to which we believe we have no connection. We have forgotten the world as it once was, lost in the grind of our breakneck society while traversing what had once been countryside through concrete monstrosities and lifeless asphalt. And so, when one of those relics is greeted with the demise of a scrap pile death, such as the historic Goldenrod Showboat, most don’t even bat a manicured eye at its imminent destruction.
It was a jewel on the Mississippi River, the largest and most luxurious showboat ever constructed. Red Skelton got his start there and other famous talents performed on its stage, such as Bob Hope. Do those names even resonate with people anymore? For nearly 100 years the Goldenrod provided laughter and life for thousands along the old waterway, providing a means of escapism from life along the river, but now it rests on shore, a rusting hulk replete of its previous grandeur. Must we allow ourselves to forget all that has come before us?
Stand still for a moment and listen to the lap of the water against the shore and the breeze gently caress the leaves of nearby trees. Open your eyes and stare not at your cell phone but at the gentle ripple of a wave or the delicate veins of a leaf. For just a moment lead not with your persuasive techniques or heavy hand in the corporate boardroom, but lead with your senses. Where does it take you? Does anyone look at the stars anymore or have they become so blotted out by the false light of our street lamps that no one even bother to look?
From the deck of the Goldenrod I finally understood why the ancients so revered the celestial heavens. That night, the darkest sky I have ever experienced produced the brightest stars in the highest abundance I have ever seen. For the first time I saw the constellation Orion in its full glory flanked by so many other brilliant twinkling skylights that I almost couldn’t discern it. One word describes the moment and even it doesn’t do that moment justice: amazing. The night sky greeted me with a sensuous kiss that I have longed to return.
Make no mistake that I enjoy having my car to travel from place to place and my computer is currently making this article possible, but having modern conveniences doesn’t mean we should forget the past and the world around us. Locations like the Goldenrod Showboat are a time capsule, a vessel to take us to a place we’ve left behind. The encompassing energy when one steps inside its main doors instantly whisks you away to that forgotten era of ragtime and authentic melodrama, making you drunk on escapism within escapism if you allow it. It’s a pure looking glass into that time of American history without the overzealous pandering of modern commercialism.
Soon the Goldenrod will be gone. Whatever doesn’t get salvaged for scrap will be burned, adding further insult to injury as longtime owner, Captain Bill Menke, pieced a significant portion of the boat back together by hand after a fire in 1962 when he was more than 80 years old. To this day his spirit still roams his life’s passion, literally going down with the ship.
In the end the Goldenrod Showboat will be a footnote in history, relegated to a few paragraphs on a dusty webpage with a few museum items kept on-hand by those who truly cared for it. Hopefully, it will be remembered for a bit more than just a few names and dates — for the best history teachers are storytellers. And its ghost stories that they tell.
Society of the Supernatural recently conducted a paranormal investigation tour, hitting four locations in four days in the Midwest, primarily Indiana. The tour began with a kickoff interview on Norene Balovich’s ParanormalZoneTV on Friday, March 11, followed by a public investigation at the Bellaire House in Bellaire, Ohio, the following night. But things really picked up on the 13th when we investigated the Randolph County Infirmary in Winchester, Indiana.
Although the final 50 years of the facility were of a positive nature and known for quality care, it’s origins were dark and ominous. The building is the third on the same location, built in 1899, the first constructed in the early-1800s burned down and its successor torn down due to poor conditions and to make way for the current building. As with many asylums and poorhouses of the time, patients were treated cruelly, over-medicated, and experimented upon. Death was common place, including murder, and numerous bodies were buried in unmarked graves around the property.
Rainy weather bogged down our travels and we arrived after dark, so we unfortunately captured no daytime photography. Such are the perils of a road trip of our nature. However, we arrived at just the right time to start capturing some compelling paranormal activity.
Just as we were setting up to go live near the main stairwell, we all heard a disembodied voice emanate from the second floor. This was accompanied by the sound of something large being moved, perhaps a cart. I took a quick look upstairs and called out to make sure nobody else was with us, but Dave Spinks, David Weatherly, and I were the only three in the building. We had to start the Livestream, so I came back down and we rolled into our intro, addressing what we had just witnessed.
Within minutes we were receiving intelligent responses on the ghostbox. I ended up exploring upstairs because I had seen a light in one of the corridors, but when I got up the stairs shadow movement was picked up on the night vision camera and the Geophone motion sensor on the EDI device sitting on the stairs started flashing.
After my foray upstairs I ventured back down and David start coughing profusely. He ended up having to step out of the building for a moment and when he did Dave and I distinctly heard a growl rise up out of one of the halls. This all made for a pretty hair-raising first 30 minutes of our investigation, just a precursor of things to come.
For more information about this investigation at the Randolph County Infirmary visit David Weatherly’s blog at twocrowsparanormal.blogspot.com and watch the investigation footage through the Society of the Supernatural video below:
David Weatherly presents a complete overview of the BEK phenomenon with his intriguing book Black Eyed Children from Leprechaun Press. Weatherly’s thorough research includes scores of first-hand accounts, linking the similarities and attributes between each sighting, dissecting various theories, and studying the black eyed children’s possible relation to other mysterious encounters, folklore, and legends.
Anything and everything you wanted to know about these strange, monotone children with the completely black eyes that want to invite themselves into your home or car is included in this book. “Don’t invite them in,” everyone says. Find out what happens when you do invite one in.
The book isn’t meant to scare you, it’s supposed to be an informative piece of literature about the phenomenon of black eyed children, but it may just have you jumping out of your seat the next time you hear someone rapping at the door.
This is the essential must-read book on the subject. Check out David Weatherly’s Black Eyed Children here: http://www.leprechaunpress.com/
Silent Retreat is a fine little horror romp from Starko Entertainment. The company retreat that goes awry at a secluded lodge with a dark history — that’s the premise of Silent Retreat.
This movie is a bit of a slow burn with a lot of character development up front and just a few hints of something more sinister going on before we get to some of the big reveals and the action picks up. This provides us some time, to get to know our characters, with leads played by Donny Boaz as Zach and Rebecca Summers as Meigan, and while the characters here are your general archetypes, there is a lot of great humor included. This development may run a bit long, but once the super-religious girl, Rita, goes missing and everyone splits up to go find her, the pace of the film begins to move.
The first death is rather surprising and caught me off-guard, and it wasn’t a run-of-the-mill jump scare, so I give the film makers props for the unexpected.
I also really liked the creepy ambient music played during the flashback reveals of the lodge’s dark past. It was a good selection that really drew me into the moment. There were other flashback sequences, however, that needed a better transition since it was confusing at first that we had just flashed back.
The acting was adequate — I thought Rebecca Summers was the best of the lot — with humor sequences being the most natural flowing between the characters. Tedi, played by Eli Bildner, was out perpetual comic relief.
The location was fantastic! You can’t beat a beautiful lakeside lodge for the isolated retreat-type horror flick.
Silent Retreat is a fun horror romp with surprising twists that keep you engaged. While it has a few plotholes that will leave you scratching your head, they’re not detrimental to the film and your curiosity of what happens to the characters next will draw you back in. This was enjoyable, and I’m looking forward to the next offering from Ace Jordan and Starko Entertainment.
David Weatherly’s STRANGE INTRUDERS is both an engaging and informative book that introduces the readers to a wide array of paranormal and supernatural entities. Black eyed children, shadow people, djinn, pukwudgies, and more are examined through detailed descriptions and personal accounts both by the author and witnesses he has interviewed. Weatherly even tackles the Slenderman, its Internet origins, the legends that have sprung forth, and whether or not the collective conscience of many people may have conjured up their own real boogeyman.
My latest Top 11 video covers is a viewer-requested video covering haunted toys, many of which happen to be dolls. Other haunted toy-related and haunted objects relating to children are also included. Again, this isn’t nearly complete since there are so many other reportedly haunted dolls, but this is a good selection of some of the more famed ones. Detailed descriptions follow the video below:
11. The Pulau Ubin Barbie (Singapore)
A shrine in Pulau Ubin, Singapore, is dedicated to a little German girl who fell off a nearby cliff and died when running from the British Army investigating her parents back in 1914. In 2007, a man had the same dream three nights in a row about the little girl leading him to a toy store to buy a Barbie doll. After the third night, he went to the store, bought the Barbie he had seen in his dream and placed it at the shrine.
10. Okiku Doll (Japan)
This mysterious hair-growing doll in Japan is said to be possessed by the spirit of a little girl who used to play with it. Residing in a Mannenji temple in Iwamizawa since 1983, the doll’s most unique quality is that its human hair continues to grow. The sad tale behind it is that the two year old who used to play with it on a daily basis died of an illness and the family placed it in the household altar. Some time later the doll’s short cropped hair began to grow and is now 25 centimeters in length.
9. Little Gracie and Bonaventure Cemetery (Savannah, GA)
In 1889, little Gracie Watson died of pneumonia at the age of six, and to commemorate her, Gracie’s father had a life-size picture-perfect statue of his daughter sculpted and placed at her gravesite. Her spirit has been seen roaming the grounds of Bonaventure as well as the former site of the Pulaski House Hotel where her mother frequently held parties for Savannah’s financially elite. Visitors to the statue often leave toys for Gracie to play with, and it’s said the statue will cry if the toys are removed.
8. Mandy doll at the Quesnel Museum (British Columbia, Canada)
The porcelain doll known as Mandy was made in England or German sometime between 1910 and 1920 and was donated to the Quesnel Museum in British Columbia in 1991. The donor claimed to hear crying in the middle of the night which did not go away until after she gave away Mandy. At the museum, employees say that since the doll has been there odd things like pencils, books, and even lunches go missing or are seemingly misplaced. They also claim that Mandy cannot be encased with other dolls because she will harm them.
7. Haunted Toy R’ Us (Sunnyvale, CA)
How about a haunting of all the toys down aisle 15C? And the women’s restroom? It is said that the Toys R’ Us in Sunnyvale, California, is haunted by Johnny Johnson, a wood chopper at John Murphy’s farm, the land upon which the store now stands. Johnny had fallen in love with Murphy’s daughter, but one day his axe missed the wood, gashed open his leg, and he bled to death. His spirit now roams the store seeking his love, brushing the hair of women, turning the faucets on and off in the women’s restroom, and tossing boxes of toys off of shelves.
6. Letta Doll (Australia)
This doll was discovered by an Australian in 1972 underneath the porch of an abandoned house that had scared him for years. Letta was made with real human hair and is believed to have been created by a Romanian gypsy about 200 years before its discovery. The doll is said to move on its own, occasionally screams, “Letta me out!” (how the doll was named), makes hanging pictures fall from walls sometimes when it enters a room, and dogs bark wildly when near it.
5. Crying Boy Painting
The Curse of the Crying Boy began in 1985 when a fire gutted a home in Rotherham in South Yorkshire, England, but a framed print of the crying boy survived unscathed. What led to the sensationalism was that the homeowner’s brother, a firefighter, claimed that he had also seen many other cases in which a print of the crying boy survived a fire without damage. Scores of subsequent Crying Boy painting fires ensued over the years. Legends of the paintings origins developed, included one that stated that the artist had taken in the child and painted him after the child’s parents died in a fire. One day his studio burned down in a blaze. While many believe many believe much of the tale is an urban legend, the number of fires the painting have been involved with and survived is uncanny, and those that have worked to debunk the tale refuse to accept a copy of the print.
4. Haunted Harold Doll
Harold is considered to be the first haunted doll that was ever sold on eBay and one of its early haunted owners recounts her experiences in the anthology Encounters With The Paranormal. After acquiring the doll her experiences included the sudden strange deaths of two people that had come near the doll and sudden unexplained illnesses. The current owner who has had Harold since 2004 believes there are many entities inside of the doll and has also attributes untimely deaths of ones close to him to Harold, has heard of people becoming very ill after taking photographs of Harold, and has had Zak Bagans of Ghost Adventures carry Harold onto the creepy island of dolls in Mexico during a paranormal investigation on television.
3. Ouija boards
Marketed as a game, Ouija boards first appeared in Pittsburgh toy stores as a “talking board” in 1891. The recognizable board and planchette have been controversial for decades, some believing they are a tool for communication with spirits from beyond while others view the Ouija board as a portal for inviting in evil entities. Many people claim that the haunting within their home began with the use of a Ouija board.
2. Robert The Doll (Florida)
This doll was given to four year old Robert Eugene Otto in 1904 who, upon receiving the doll, stated he would then be called Gene and the doll be called Robert. Gene and Robert became inseparable, and it was said that when they were alone together two voices could be heard talking and giggling. Whenever something turned up missing or broken, Gene would blame Robert. When Gene moved away and got married, neighbors claimed they routinely saw Robert in the window scowling at them. When Gene moved when his mother grew ill, Gene’s wife despised the strange attachment her husband had with the doll. One time, a plumber ran screaming from the house when the doll scowled at him them giggled. Over time after Gene passed away, the doll was donated to the Fort East Martello Museum. It is now said that one must ask permission of Robert to take his picture otherwise the photo will appear blank or distorted.
1. Annabelle (Connecticut)
Annabelle is the #1 most haunted toy, really due to its recent surge in popularity over the past few years, starting with The Conjuring and then being given its own feature film. First of all, the doll is really a large Raggedy Ann doll, quite less intimidating-looking that the creepy porcelain doll that was created for the movies.
The doll was originally purchased in 1970 from a hobby store as a birthday present from a mother to her 28 year old daughter, Donna, a nursing student in college. It wasn’t long before the doll started changing positions, like legs being crossed when they hadn’t been, and messages on parchment such as, “Help me,” started showing up around the house. After ruling out the possibility of an intruder, Donna and her roommate, Angie, contacted a medium and a seance was held in which a spirit came forth claiming to be a seven year old “Annabelle Higgins” who just wanted to stay with them and be loved. Donna felt compassion and gave Annabelle permission to live within the doll and stay with them. One night, a friend named Lou was spending the night and was awoken to Annabelle gliding up his leg, up to his chest, and then began strangling him. Another night he and Angie heard sounds of an intruder in one of the rooms, but discovered only Annabelle mysteriously tossed in a corner. When Lou approached the doll he felt someone behind him then a searing pain on his chest. he was suddenly bleeding, and when he opened his shirt there were claw marks on his chest.
At this, Donna contacted the Episcopal church who contacted Ed and Lorraine Warren. After a paranormal investigation and a blessing of the home, Donna requested the Warrens’ take the doll with them, and it is now on display in their museum.
I just released a new Top 11 video, this time one covering historic paranormal frauds. While I have witnessed some truly remarkable paranormal activity, there have been a number of people throughout the years that have created their own paranormal or supernatural hoax in order to fool the masses. While this list I’ve compiled isn’t nowhere near complete, it is at least a compelling selection spanning hundreds (sometimes thousands) of years to consider worthy of the Top 11 historic paranormal frauds. Below is the video to accompany this blog article:
11. The Cottingly Fairies
10. Rudolph Fentz
9. Peter Popoff
7. Alien Autopsy
6. The Ghostly Drummer of Tedsworth
5. The Amityville Horror
4. Uri Geller
3. Salem Witches
2. The Fox Sisters
1. Simon Magus (Simon the Sorcerer, Simon the Magician)
In the spirit of the season I am republishing a number of my paranormal articles from my old column. Enjoy!
Originally published April 21, 2011
While ghost stories circulate around the University of Oklahoma’s campus, it is rather uncommon for a paranormal team to be offered an opportunity to investigate there, and by all accounts no one had ever investigated Ellison Hall. So when the Society of the Haunted was offered the chance to investigate there, the group’s theologian and occult specialist, Chris Borthick, remarked, “This is a very rare and unique opportunity.”
For decades, the rumored spirit of a boy who had been mortally wounded rollerskating down Elm Avenue during the Great Depression and now skated the halls of Ellison had made the ghost story rounds about the campus. Other sounds, such as people moving down the hallways, have been heard as well but are not as legendary, and staff have witnessed motion activated lights being turned on in hallways and bathrooms when no one else is around. Would Society of the Haunted be able to prove or disprove any of these claims?
Originally named Hygeia Hall after the Greek goddess of health and well-being, Ellison Hall opened in 1928 as OU’s infirmary. In the early 1930s it was renamed to honor Dr. Gayfree Ellison, the Director of Student Health from 1920 until his death in 1932. It was during this time that the fatal roller skating accident occurred, and the boy was brought into the infirmary in an attempt to be revived. He died on the operating table. In 1971 the building transitioned to the home of the University of Oklahoma Student Association, and now it serves in a variety of capacities including the Student Services Center, Native American Studies, African and African-American Studies, and the dean’s office and administrative staff.
Society of the Haunted had access to all hallways and conference rooms, the administrative office on the third floor, and the basement. Beginning with the basement and working their way up, they swept each level before deciding to concentrate their efforts on the third floor, which had held the operating rooms during the building’s infirmary days.
During the sweep, the team’s psychic, Vanessa Hogle, who enters a location not knowing a thing about it’s history and rumored hauntings, felt, “like I was in a crowded auditorium with multiple people yelling, ‘Pick me! Pick me!’ It all made sense when I was told after the fact that the place we were investigating was once an infirmary.”
When it was revealed to Vanessa that the building had once served in this medical capacity, one of the audio recorders the team carried picked up an electronic voice phenomenon of a woman’s voice stating, “Sorry.” Electronic voice phenomena are believed to be the voices of spirits captured with electronic audio recording equipment.
Activity on the third floor picked up as the night went on. Case manger Cathy Nance reported, “Standing by room 305 I kept hearing knocking on the wall. We could not figure out where the knocking was coming from but it was between another investigator and I. The photographer also verified that he heard the noises as well. I also heard shuffling and something ran past me and bumped into the door. I felt cold air rush past me as I heard noises along the wall. I stayed as [parapsychologist Logan Corelli] went to see where it went. After he went through the door the knocking continued in the same location. I also heard shuffling of papers and chairs moving, and a light which had been off earlier came on at the other end of the hall on the third floor.”
Another light that mysterious turned on was in one of the second floor restrooms, possibly confirming one of the reported occurrences. While this was being investigated, the sounds of someone walking around the first floor and doors opening and closing filtered up to the open second floor lounge, but upon inspection by some of the university’s yearbook staff on hand to document the investigation and Andrew Shanor, Society of the Haunted’s videographer, not a soul was found.
Was the ghost of the rollerskating boy found that night? Thus far, the evidence gathered does not prove nor disprove the presence of the legendary skater. Spirits don’t act on cue, but an alternative suggestion about the skating sounds was offered by Vanessa: they could be the sounds of hospital bed wheels. Further investigation of the building may reveal more truth.
In the spirit of the season I am republishing a number of my paranormal articles from my old column. Enjoy!
Originally published February 17, 2011
Most people enjoy a good ghost story. Whether it be a creepy tale told around the campfire, an old yarn spun by grandma, or a collection of stories in a book, people are fascinated by the paranormal. The recent rejuvenation in paranormal interest through a number of popular reality TV shows has allowed people to open up about their experiences and more stories are being brought to light, including many in Oklahoma. With its colorful past, both wonderful and tragic, this surge in paranormal interest has caused Oklahoma to be seen in a new perspective.
Oklahoma has a history that many outside the Sooner State don’t realize. It’s a cross-section of Americana from Native Americans, to the Civil War, to gun-slinging outlaws, to land rushes, to railroads, to cowboys, cowgirls, and Wild West shows, to tornadoes, to historic Route 66. The rough frontier life mixed with pioneers from a variety of different backgrounds, including displaced Native Americans, gives the state a unique blend of adventure and misfortune. The following is a brief glimpse at what this Oklahoma history offers its paranormal community.
While most people remember the famous battles of the east, the war between the states reached out to Oklahoma as well back when it was known as Indian Territory. Ft. Washita, established in 1842, was used as a regional headquarters by the Confederacy after the Union had abandoned it. General Douglas Cooper who commanded the Confederate troops at Honey Springs is buried at Ft. Washita in an unmarked grave. A number of dark masses and shadows have been seen moving all about the area while mists have risen up near the old Confederate cemetery. Apparitions of Civil War soldiers fade in and out, sometimes as a single entity and other times as a group. There’s also the grave of “Aunt Jane” whose mysterious tale has a number of variations.
The city of Guthrie, the original state capital, is likely the most haunted city in the state, containing enough ghost stories to fill volumes. Once just a stop along the Santa Fe Railway, it burst into a city of 10,000 overnight with the 1889 land run. With the massive influx of new people, so also came saloons, bordellos, and crime. To this day, the Blue Belle Saloon still exists with Miss Lizzie’s Bordello (now a collection of shops) above it, but patrons and workers of the past still linger including the apparition of a man throughout the saloon, the image of a dark-haired woman who is believed to be Miss Lizzie, and the sound of a girl crying, possibly one of Miss Lizzie’s girls who served there as a business arrangement with her family. Other Guthrie haunts include the first territorial jail, the Santa Fe Depot, the Logan County Memorial Hospital, the Stone Lion Inn, as well as a number of other local establishments.
The Skirvin Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City had some of it’s haunts make national headlines in 2010 after visiting NBA basketball teams were spooked in their rooms before facing the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Skirvin’s legend of Effie is well known – an attractive chambermaid was said to have had a child with William B. Skirvin, but she was secretly stashed away on the top floor of the hotel until her depression overwhelmed her and she threw herself with baby in hand from the window. There is much debate as to whether Effie truly existed, but players from both New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls claimed to have experienced paranormal activity at the luxury hotel.
These brief paragraphs are just a smattering of all the tales that abound in Oklahoma. New ones keep being unearthed all on a recurring basis as people become more comfortable sharing their experiences and letting the paranormal community investigate their claims. As these stories come to light, Oklahoma’s colorful past may just become it’s ghostly future.