Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Removal of Black Aggie, Part ll

Black Aggie statue.
In Part l of this post here, several legends are shared that resulted in the Black Aggie statue being removed from the grave it marked in Druid Ridge Cemetery. Large numbers of people entering this Cemetery in Pikesville, Maryland at night illegally plus ongoing vandalism spurred its removal.

The Agnus Family donated it to the Smithsonian in the 1960s. They are related to the general whose grave displayed the Black Aggie statue.

The following is just one of the many scary legends that were told about this statue—which spurred its removal.

Three teens were sitting on a slope overlooking Druid Ridge Cemetery in the 1950s. They were there because they had heard rumors about one marble grave marker dubbed—Black Aggie.

One boy in the group, Nathan had heard the stories from his mother so he was regaling the other two with what he knew.

“At first glance Black Aggie looks harmless-- but her angelic face is deceiving for she has a demonic nature. They say it’s her eyes-- during the day they are pale and blank but at night they turn fiercely red and glowing.”

The other male in the group, a boy by the name Josh laughed. “So she is a statue that gives you an evil eye. Come on you don’t actually believe that?”

Nathan placed on the defensive stated, “It is not just an evil eye, witnesses state when you look directly into Aggie’s eyes you go blind.”

She in particular is a threat to males. She hates them because of the way she died.”

Josh’s girlfriend asked, “How did she die?”

Nathan relishing his role continued, “My mother told me she was left at the altar. She then died of a broken heart.”

Josh laughed again. “This is all hogwash. Has anyone witnessed her red eyes or evil nature?”

Nathan worried he was losing face, got up off the grass. “It’s getting cold, time to leave.”

Josh ran down the hill. “Not until we visit Black Aggie.”

Nathan reluctantly showed the other two the way to the statue. It was located in the oldest part of the cemetery—Black Aggie sat with her arms stretched out and a shroud draped over her—in the shadow of an ancient oak.

Josh moved in close, “So this is Evil Aggie?”

As a cold chill ran down Nathan’s back, he glanced around and nodded yes. “It is cold and late, let’s go.”

Josh reached out and poked the statue. He quipped, “So many men to blind and so little time.”

Nathan now nervous but not wanting to show it feigned boredom. “Hey, you’ve seen her—now let’s go.”

Josh ignored Nathan and stepped up onto the base of the statue, he then jumped into her lap. “You go, I want to visit with Aggie for awhile.”

He leaned back against one of the statue’s arms and dangled his legs over the other. His date looked up at him, “You shouldn’t do that, it is disrespectful.”

A cold chill slammed into the center of Nathan’s gut. Frightened now, he said, “this isn’t funny.” When Josh once more ignored him he shouted, “Get down, let’s go, I mean it.”

Josh looked over at the other two teens. “You are chickens. You should go, I don’t feel like hanging out anymore.”

Nathan grabbed the other boy’s girlfriend by the hand and escorted her out of the cemetery.

The next morning Josh’s girlfriend called Nathan. “Josh’s mom called me this morning—she is in a panic because he didn’t come home last night.”

Nathan blew it off, “He is just trying to freak everyone out.” But several hours later when Josh still had not made an appearance the two teens met back at the entrance to the cemetery.

When they came within sight of Black Aggie Josh’s girlfriend sighed in relief, “There he is, still in her lap.”

Nathan shouted Josh’s name but he did not respond. As the two drew near they found it odd he didn’t acknowledge their presence. Nathan then reached out and touched Josh’s arm.

Josh moved slightly, “Is that you guys?”

Nathan said, “It’s us, why didn’t you go home last night?”

Josh turned to them and they drew back in horror as they looked upon his face. His eyes were coated white—he was blind.

“I couldn’t find my way . . . and she wouldn’t let me go.” He held up one of his arms and there the other two teens saw dark purple and blue marks in the shape of Black Aggie’s five stone fingers.

More legends are shared in Part l The Removal of Black Aggie, here.

The Removal of Black Aggie, Part l

The name Black Aggie was given to a statue that originally sat in Druid Ridge Cemetery in Pikesville, Maryland. It marked the grave of General Felix Agnus.

Black Aggie in Druid Ridge Cemetery
This statue, dramatic in appearance, is an unauthorized replica of a statue sculpted by Saint-Gaudens in 1891—called Grief. It depicts a seated somber figure that wears a shroud.

This statue was placed in Druid Ridge in 1926. Soon after several scary legends were attributed to it.

The main legend stated that if someone dared to spend the night sitting on the lap of Black Aggie they would encounter the ghost buried there.

Another legend stated that all the ghosts in this cemetery would gather together at this statue once a year.

Other tales stated that grass would not grow in the areas where the statue’s shadow rested during the day. A more startling claim was the statue’s eyes would glow red at night and that Black Aggie would physically move.

These legends that were told and retold attracted unwanted attention. Many people broke into Druid Ridge Cemetery at night and the statue was frequently vandalized.

Fed up, the Agnus family donated the statue to the Smithsonian in 1967, however its original base remains at the General’s grave.

Today Black Aggie is displayed in the courtyard behind the National Courts Building in Lafayette Square in Washington D.C.

In Washington D.C.
Ironically, another grave statue that is located at Green Mount Cemetery in Montpelier, Vermont has inherited the legends that originally surrounded Black Aggie.

In Part ll of The Removal of Black Aggie, one story that inspired the interest that surrounds this statue is shared.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Portland’s Pittock Mansion

Many residents and tourists drive up the hill to this historic Oregon mansion. Its front gardens offer a wonderful panoramic view of the city.

View of Portland from Pittock Mansion.
The 16, 000 square foot sandstone mansion was completed in 1914. It was built using all local materials.

Architect Edward T. Foulkes designed it. Foulkes esthetic was unusual for the time.

Pittock Mansion
The mansion is an interesting mix of square stonewalls and a circular interior. The mansion’s rooms are built off a central grand staircase like spokes from a wheel.

Foulkes included many of the most up to date features in the mansion. He included a dumbwaiter to lift food to the upstairs bedrooms.

Instead of bells to call servants Foulkes had an internal phone system installed and he situated the house so the airflow would cool the interior without the use of ceiling fans.

A powerful central vacuum system was also installed throughout the home.

One unique feature on the entryway ceiling was placed there at the request of Mrs. Georgiana Pittock. The visitor can see foil lining this ceiling—this foil reflects Mrs. Pittock’s frugal pioneer beginnings--she had saved the foil from her tea containers for years.

Georgiana Pittock
Henry and Georgiana Pittock were not the typical upper-class wealthy couple of the time. They believed in public service.

Georgiana helped found the Ladies Relief Society in 1867. This group established a Children’s Home, which helped Portland’s needy children. She also helped establish the Martha Washington Home for single working women.

Her love of flowers was the birth of Portland’s annual Rose festival. Her husband often led the parade.

Henry Pittock
Henry Pittock was responsible for bringing modern innovations to several industries in the Pacific Northwest. He was a newspaper editor, publisher and wood/paper magnet. He made The Oregonian a daily newspaper.

He founded the Mazamas climbing club and was a member of the first expedition to climb Mt. Hood.

The Pittock Mansion was completed after the couple’s 58th wedding anniversary. Georgiana lived in the home for only four years until her death in 1918. Henry died a year later in 1919.

It stayed in the family for the next three generations until 1958. It then fell into disrepair.

The mansion was bought by the City of Portland in 1964 and restored to its original glory by public funds and public labor.

In 1965, the mansion was opened to the public—tours are offered—it wasn’t long before people began to believe that Georgiana and Henry haunt their beloved home.

Odd activity has been noted throughout the mansion.

A boyhood picture of Henry seems to move from place to place. It is kept on a bedroom mantle but witnesses’ state that after seeing it in this spot it moved to a different location, within minutes.

Tour guides have seen a figure standing in various ground floor rooms as they open the mansion in the mornings.

Many visitors have reported smelling fresh roses—Georgiana’s favorite flower—when there are no fresh flowers in the mansion.

Others have heard boot footfalls walking in and out of the rear entrance and another volunteer found a heavy window on the first stair landing shut and latched when it had been opened earlier that day to cool the mansion.

One woman was viewing a selection of pictures in the basement when she felt someone watching her. She turned to see the figure of an elderly woman wearing outdated clothes standing next to her.

This woman then vanished as she watched.

The Silent Organ

The Trivett family migrated west from Ontario, Canada in 1908. They settled on a homestead in Saskatchewan.

Mary Trivett was a hearty farm wife and mother of five children who was never too busy to lend a helping hand to a neighbor in need.

She had been a devoted member of the Salvation Army for most of her adult life and she carried on their charitable doctrine despite the fact there was no branch near where her family now lived.

She often opened her home to the poor and homeless. Her kindness became renowned in the area. During World War l she doubled her time and efforts to help all who were in need.

The local United Church, which Mary was a member of, often supported her charitable endeavors.

One afternoon Mary confided in the church organist, a man by the name of Walter that she loved his music but that she missed the enthusiastic sound the Salvation Army’s drums and tambourines made.

She confided to him that when she passed she did not want organ music at her funeral for she felt it was too somber—she wanted something upbeat instead.

By 1928, the year Mary Trivett passed away, Walter had forgotten about her wish not to have organ music at her funeral.

He practiced several favorite hymns to play for her family and friends. The day of the funeral Walter sat at the United Church’s pump organ and began to play but no sound came from the instrument.

He checked the organ but found nothing wrong with it. He tried to play his first selection again but once more there was no sound. He pumped the pedals and tried a variety of keys but the organ remained mute.

He finally gave up and Mary’s funeral continued without musical accompaniment.

After the burial, Walter returned to the church. With the first note he struck the church was filled with organ music. The organ now played as it had while he had practiced the day before.

Confused, Walter wondered what had happened during the funeral—suddenly he remembered Mary’s wish from years before—it now made sense.

Mary had gotten her last wish—she had not wanted organ music—and her spirit had made sure there had been no organ music.

So the organ had honored Mary’s wish even though Walter had forgotten.

Assiniboia and District Museum
Today this pump organ is fully restored and the Assiniboia's District Historical Society displays it in their museum. This old organ has been preserved because of the story above.