Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Ridgeway Ghost

In Wisconsin folklore * there is a famous tale called the Ridgeway Ghost. This ghost story was often told during Wisconsin’s pioneer days.

The following is the story of how the belief in this “ghost” was used to dissuade bad behavior.


Sightings of this ghost occurred along an old military road, a 25-mile stretch--known as the Ridge Road-- that ox driven wagons traveled in the Lead Region of this state.

The early mining communities of Blue Mounds and Dodgeville in Iowa County bookended this 25-mile stretch. The settlement of Ridgeway that this ghost was named for was halfway between these two mining camps.

The ghost used this settlement as its headquarters.

Stories

It was said…

This ghost is unusual in that it can change its’ shape.

This phantom was a man with a whip that chased the living.

Or this ghost was a headless horseman.

Or even creepier--this entity was a fierce beast like creature or ball of fire.

People warned…

This haunting was the result of a bar fight. Two brothers--14 and 15 years old--had the misfortune to be involved in a saloon brawl in the 1840s. 

A rowdy threw the 14-year old into a fireplace where he burned to death. The other brother managed to escape but froze to death on his way home.

A Respected witness…

Doctor Cutler of Dodgeville was the first person to see this ghost in the 1850s.

He stated the face of the ghost appeared on a pole on his wagon as he was driving home one night--just as he passed the home of the deceased brothers.

Most frightening of all…

This entity would attack travelers and then would immediately disappear.

Blue Mounds
Several witnesses, including a well-liked man named John Lewis, who saw this ghost were then plagued by ailments and died.

Locals started to refuse to go out at night alone.

Reason For Story

Along this 25-mile stretch, between Dodgeville and Pokerville, were at least a dozen saloons each with a worse reputation than the last.

Gamblers, miners and “toughs” frequented these establishments.

Tavern fights often broke out between drunks and robberies and murders were a common occurrence.

Many of the miners and locals were Welsh and Cornish folk--both these cultures were steeped in old superstitions.

As the story goes the Ridgeway Ghost was manufactured to help rid the region of the disreputable element, which hung out in these saloons.

Practical jokers then helped to spread the growing belief in this ghost. It only took a few “pranks” which then threw the entire region into a panic.

In 1910 when the town of Ridgeway burnt down it is said that this entity moved to the woods near Mineral Point.

* Folklore Pamphlets, 1921-45, by Charles E. Brown, Published by Wisconsin Historical Society

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Gardner’s "The Victorian"

Mansion in early 1900s
Locals in Gardner, Massachusetts call an old spooky mansion in their community “The Victorian.” For many years the residents have told tales of the scary ghosts that reside in this home.

Sylvester K. Pierce originally had this home built in 1875. He had it built right across the street from his successful furniture business, which made chairs.

Unsuspecting Buyers

In 2008, Edwin and Lillian Gonzales were looking for a change. The couple unable to have children was in transition. Edwin was given the opportunity to work from home and Lillian had always wanted to renovate a Victorian home.

They decided to move from Boston.

Lillian’s sister told them about a home in Gardner that was selling for a very reasonable price and was the ideal Victorian property.

When Edwin called the realtor he was surprised by her attitude. She quizzed him on whether he really wanted to visit the mansion, which he found odd and then ignored.

When the couple first walked into the mansion Lillian fell in love with it at first sight. The couple brushed off the realtor’s warning that the home was considered to be haunted.



The Gonzales’ not believing in ghosts paid her no mind. But as soon as they started to move into the home they noticed something wasn’t quite right.

Strange Activity

The couple discovered items often were moved. At first they just ignored this. But by the spring of 2009 the activity took a turn for the worse.

One afternoon as Edwin worked in his home office an image of a man appeared right in front of his face. He then saw a hand swing at him--he put his own up to deflect the blow.

After this incident the Gonzales noticed more strange activity--it occurred both day and night and especially during full moons.

One room in the mansion called the Red Room had a violent history. The story goes a client became angry with a lady of the evening and murdered her in this room.

At one point a medium and a small group toured the home. The medium went into a trance while in the Red Room. She attacked another member of the group--it seems the murderer had taken over and attacked a woman in the group that reminded him of the prostitute he had killed.

The Gonzales noted that anytime women visited this room they had trouble breathing. Men on the other hand felt nothing.

More Activity

The original owner's oldest son, Edward Pierce is said to haunt the home’s cellar. He while alive claimed he saw his dead mother in a hallway in the mansion.

He lost his family home in a poker game and the winner feeling bad let him continue to live in the mansion--but in a room in the cellar. In this area people have picked up a negative energy.

Near the cellar’s cistern children have been heard laughing and shadows are seen. Two little girls are known to have died in the home--one drowned in the back pond and the other named Rachel died at the age of 5 in 1918.

In 2011, new neighbors moved in next door to the Gonzales. Edwin noticed that one young son from this family kept staring up at his office window. The mother of this boy the next day knocked on their door.

She asked how many children they had, being told they had none she then asked who was the young boy dressed all in white that had invited her son to come play with him the day before?

Paranormal Investigations

A Massachusetts paranormal investigator, Eric Perry has been in the mansion several times. His team has seen shadows, heard voices and footsteps in the Red Room and collected several EVPs.

In the cellar he has heard a child’s voice requesting, “Come play with me.”

He believes the mansion is haunted because it is on a ley line. He also believes the house has a portal * to the left of the grand staircase. In this area people have reported something pulling them back.



The television shows Ghost Hunters and Paranormal Witness have both highlighted the Gonzales mansion in episodes. Paranormal Witness did the reenactments for their episode in three other homes--they found the real mansion too scary to film in.

* I discuss Portals in another post here.

Too Disturbing

The activity became so disturbing that the Gonzales decided to have the mansion blessed. This only exacerbated the situation.

Lillian began to feel sick while inside the home--once she went into the yard she felt fine again.

She decided to sleep downstairs because the activity upstairs became annoying. One night while sleeping downstairs she woke up at midnight screaming, “Get it off of me.”

Edwin Gonzales
She had felt something heavy on top of her. At the same time, Edwin began to see an apparition of a lady in one upstairs window.

Deciding the activity was not something they wanted to deal with anymore the couple packed up--they left 80 percent of their possession behind. They still own the home but since 2013 they live in an apartment in Gardner.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

I See Dead People…

This famous line from the 1999 film The Sixth Sense is a reality for the main character in Dwain Campbell’s book, Tales From the Frozen Ocean. Campbell shares the story of a teacher who sees dead people.

Colin Aintree born in Halifax, Canada in 1971 as a child 9 times out of 10 could predict whether a mare was going to have a colt or a filly just by looking at her.

His brothers were jealous of him because he always knew precisely were to cast his line to catch the largest trout. Neighbors came to Colin for he was especially good at dowsing for water.

Without a doubt Colin Aintree had a knack. But in his teens he starts to have experiences that literally terrify him. Later he comes to understand what is happening.

First Visions

At the age of 16, in 1988 Colin attends the funeral of his great aunt. As he listens to the graveside prayers in a cold rain he spies some children cavorting in a remote corner of the cemetery. He loses sight of them but their old-fashioned clothing pique his interest.

They seemed to play in an eerie silence. Curious, Colin after the service heads to the area where he saw these children. He discovers no trace of them. The soil in the area dampened by the rain has no prints.

He does spot the faded markers of four brothers and sisters that all died in a 1893 house fire. Realizing he has seen a family of ghosts a sickening fear overtakes him.

This experience proves to be the first of many visions--they on average occur once a month.

A year later, Colin now a freshman in college goes to Point Pleasant Park with a large group of students. He wonders along a path that runs parallel to the harbor. Glancing down this lane he sees something that shocks him so much he faints.

There, dangling from the branches of a pine tree swaying in the breeze are 3 rotting corpses. When he comes to an old lady standing over him, quizzes him as to whether he is diabetic or epileptic.

The dead men are gone and Colin leaves the park quickly.

Psychics

Colin confused about what is happening to him falls into a depression. His life changes when a female roommate brings a box of yard sale books home. In this collection he finds a book about the famous Dutch clairvoyant, Gerald Croiset.

After reading several library books about Edgar Cayce, Peter Hurkos and Ingo Swann, Colin realizes there are others that have experienced what plagues him.

Edgar Cayce
Nova Scotia

After graduating from college in 1994 Colin is offered a teaching position in Central Newfoundland.

Photo Spencer Dove
Little does he know that he is about to travel to one of the most haunted and foggy “isles in the fabled Seven Seas.” He finds his talents challenged by dark forces in this land surrounded by a frozen ocean.

If there is a Richter scale for psychics Colin Aintree would be a 10.

Dwain Campbell a college professor shares in his book several tales that happen to Colin--warning they are dark in nature.

His main character finds he must choose between suicide or a mentorship with an ancient Irish nun who is far more than she seems.


Here is a link to where Dwain Campbell's fantasy fiction book-- Tales From theFrozen Ocean-- can be purchased.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Haunted Texas Governor’s Mansion

The fourth oldest executive residence in the United States is located in Austin, Texas. Several ghosts, two of them former governors of the state, haunt this mansion.

But the most well known ghost is that of a young man who committed suicide in this National Historic Landmark.

Mansion in 1860s
A Rejected Suitor

This 19-year-old was visiting the mansion when Pendleton Murrah held the office. He was the 3rd and final Confederate governor of this state.

This young man was visiting the governor’s mansion toward the end of the war when he met and fell madly in love with the governor’s niece. He proposed to this girl but she cruelly rejected him.

He returned to the small guest room located in the north wing where he was staying in this mansion and took a gun and shot himself in the head.

This suicide apparently resulted in his ghost being condemned to reside in this room.

Within a short period of time after his death witnesses started to hear wails and moans coming from this small bedroom. The activity became so pronounced that servants in the mansion refused to enter the room to clean up the blood-splattered walls.

As the months passed people noted the room was always ice-cold. Persistent banging sounds were also heard in the room--keeping visitors awake all night.

The next governor, Union appointed Andrew J. Hamilton, sick of hearing the complaints had the room sealed off. But rattling, moaning and gasping breaths continued to be heard.

A doorknob was seen constantly rattling to the point where the housekeeping staff avoided going into this part of the mansion whenever possible.

This strange activity continued into the 20th century--when the room was finally unsealed. The noises are always louder on Sundays--this was the day the young man committed suicide.

Witnesses mention hearing these strange noises even today.

Two Governors

Both Texas governors that haunt the mansion are said to linger because of their controversies while holding this office.

Sam Houston
Sam Houston, a hero from the Mexican-American War had gained Texas’s independence with his attack on San Jacinto.

He served as president of the Lone Star Republic and then when Texas became a part of the states he served as a U.S. Senator until 1860. After the outbreak of the Civil War Houston was elected governor.

But he refused to pledge his allegiance to the Confederate States of America. He had been a verbal opponent of secession. Infuriated the Texas Legislature discharged him of his duties.

Houston died in Huntsville, Texas in 1863.

Pendleton Murrah, related to the young man who committed suicide, like Sam Houston departed from Austin before his term was up.

Pendleton Murrah
In 1850 suffering from Tuberculosis he moved to Texas for the dry climate. He ran for the office of the governor in 1863.

The demands of leading Texas’s efforts during the Civil War took a huge toll on Murrah’s health. When it became apparent that Union Troops were about to occupy Texas, he stepped down and fled with other Confederate leaders to Mexico.

He died in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon Mexico in 1865.

Ghostly Activity

Pendleton Murrah’s apparition has been seen since his death both inside and outside the governor’s mansion.

Sam :Houston's Bed
Sam Houston’s ghost haunts the bedroom in the mansion that he occupied while governor. This bedroom still has the 4-poster mahogany bed, which he used. *

His apparition has been seen on several occasions. When spoken to he just disappears. His shadow has been seen lurking in a corner of this room.

In the mid 1980s Governor Mark White’s wife and daughter felt strongly Houston’s ghost haunts this room.

The governor’s daughter Elizabeth stated that the room across from her parents--Houston’s old bedroom--frightened her so she would not enter it.

First Lady Linda Gale White had several experiences that she attributed to Houston’s ghost. Awake late one night she noticed that the light in Houston’s bedroom above his portrait had been left on.

She entered the room and turned it off. The next morning she discovered the bedroom’s door was wide-open and the light was on again.

On another night she turned this same light off several times but each time it would almost immediately turn back on.


* This mahogany bed was one of the valuable items that were saved when an arsonist set the Texas Governor’s Mansion on fire in 2008.

Mansion after fire then restored.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Victim Tells All

This is the true case of a female ghost returning in order to reveal the person that murdered her.

This story first appeared in a book, Houses of Horror by Richard Winer. It was then showcased in an episode of the television show Unsolved Mysteries in April of 1990.

In 1977, Allen Showery an African American hospital orderly was called in for questioning by the Chicago police. He knew what it was about.

The Victim

Born in the Philippines in 1929, Teresita Basa was a quiet and unassuming respiratory therapist at Edgewater Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. In February of 1977 the fire department was called to her apartment.

Teresita Basa
In the blaze her nude body was found under a burning mattress with a butcher knife buried in her chest.

The police pursued several leads but none panned out.

A Vision

In 1977, Remy Chua another respiratory therapist at the hospital also from the Philippines saw a disturbing sight in the Edgewater employee lounge. She saw the ghost of Teresita in this area.

Chua who had not known Teresita very well then started to have strange visions and dreams.

In these visions and dreams Teresita implored Chua to go to the police and tell them what had happened.

Chua started to take on mannerisms and habits that were not her own. At one point her coworkers heard her singing a song. Later she denied singing this song stating she didn’t even know it.

As things worsened Chua collapsed on her bed one night. Teresita’s voice taking over informed Joe--Remy’s husband a doctor--that Showery had killed her. When Joe asked for proof so others would believe him she listed jewelry that her murderer had stolen from her home.

The couple reluctantly approached the Chicago police who at first were skeptical. Detective Joe Stachula felt the Chua’s had given them enough information to implicate Allan Showery.

Confession and Conviction

As relatives identified jewelry found in Showery’s home as belonging to Teresita--he broke down and confessed to the crime.

He had been invited to Teresita’s home to fix her TV. He killed her and took her jewelry to give to his girlfriend.

Showery was convicted of murder in 1979. He was only given a 14-year sentence for this cold-blooded crime.

Allan Showery
Remaining Mystery

Remy has never had another experience like this one.

She and her husband and others involved in this case have not been able to explain what happened to her in 1977.

Here is the Unsolved Mysteries 11-minute story about this case. At the time of this production the names of the couple were changed.