Thursday, November 28, 2013

Ohio's Wickerham Inn

Property of
Halfway between Peebles and Locust Grove along Rt. 41 lies Adams County's oldest brick home, the Wickerham Inn.  Not only is it the county's oldest brick house, but it very well could be its most haunted as well!

The Wickerham Inn was built by Revolutionary War veteran, Peter Wickerham.  In 1797, Wickerham left Pennsylvania and settled in Adams County, Ohio.  Noticing that the Zane's Trace road, which was the first official road into the new Northwest Territory, ran across part of his property, Adams realized he could capitalize off the influx of travelers in the area who were desperate for lodging.  He built a brick inn, and in 1801 was granted his tavern license and opened for business.

The Wickerham only operated as an inn and tavern until the early 1850s but during its tenure in this capacity, picked up a horrifying ghost legend.  According to lore, a coach driver stopped one evening at the inn.  Having a pint in the tavern before bed, it is said that the driver boasted quite loudly about a large sum of money he had on his person.  Unfortunately, his boasting was heard by someone who obviously had evil intentions...

That night, a loud noise was heard coming from the driver's second floor room, yet died down before anyone investigated.  However, the next morning, the driver failed to appear for breakfast.  A young worker at the tavern was sent to summon the man, but the youth returned shaking, unable to speak of the horrors witnessed in the bedroom.  When some of the men went upstairs to investigate, they were horrified.  The entire room was splattered with blood and gore.  The bedding was soaked, blood puddled on the floor, and the walls and furniture were smeared.  However, the body of the driver was nowhere to be found.

In an effort to cover up an incident that would obviously be bad for business, Wickerham had the bedding burned and the floor scrubbed.  Yet, a grisly reminder remained behind.  The bloody stain of a man's outline, missing its head, stayed upon the wooden floorboards, where many say it remains to this day.  Shortly thereafter, the ghost of the nameless driver also began making itself known.  People would claim to see the headless silhouette of a man standing in front of an upstairs window.  One gentleman in more recent years also claimed to see a blue light which appeared in the same window.

In any event, the tavern closed for business in the 1850s and became a private residence, still owned by the Wickerham descendants.  It was rumored to be a stop on the Underground Railroad, and if so, in a weird twist of fate served as a stop for the Confederate Army.  On July 15, 1863, Morgan's Raiders spent a night in the home before moving on. The hauntings kept coming, but no one ever found out what happened to the driver.  It wasn't until the 20th century that some light was finally shed on the mysterious ghost.

According to newspaper columnist, Stephen Kelley, a woman named Virginia Wolfe Webb and her husband had inherited the home from her Wickerham ancestors, and it was her family who made a grisly discovery in the 1920s.  In 1922, the private home was receiving some upgrades, including adding central heating.  The new furnace was to be located in the basement, but workers realized that it was a tad too tall.  To make room, several limestone slabs of the floor would be removed and an area dug out to accommodate the furnace.  When the slabs were pried away, the workers were shocked to find a complete human skeleton...well, it was ALMOST complete.  The skeleton, just like the apparition and the stain, was missing its head!  Allegedly, Virginia kept the the bones in a box under her bed until the time of her death.

Today, the home is still privately owned, but neighbors and other nearby residents still claim to have seen the headless shadowy figure, still looking out the window....and still looking for his missing head.

Article by Stephen Kelley

Arkansas' Rush-Gates House

Photo courtesy of
Wishing everyone a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving this year!  I am grateful for all you readers...and I'm grateful that I'm ALMOST done with the first haunted road trip around the United States with Theresa's Haunted America page!  Today's blog brings us one step closer...

In 1900, Missouri native, Dr. J.O. Rush, moved to the town of Forrest City, Arkansas.  He took a job as the surgeon and doctor for the local railroad, and in 1906 built his home (which doubled as his office/local emergency room) near the tracks.  Dr. J.O. Rush was a prominent and well-known citizen, and there are numerous references to him and his work in a variety of publications of the early 20th century.  He lived and worked in the home until his death in 1961.

Following the doctor's death, his home stayed in his family line until 1995, when ownership was given to the county.  Money was raised and extensive renovations were undertaken in 1998 to turn the house into the St. Francis County History Museum.  Today, the museum is still going strong, and features a number of exhibits portraying local history.  There's even a room completely renovated to look like an exact replica of one of the doctor's operating rooms! This bears as striking coincidence with Kentucky's Bluegrass Heritage Museum; a former doctor's home/office turned local history museum complete with reconstructed medical room with a haunted reputation....

Anyway, what is interesting about the museum collection is that is largely comprised of Dr. Rush's personal collection of artifacts!  Shortly after moving to Arkansas, Rush, who was somewhat of an amateur archaeologist, began collecting locally found prehistoric relics, including fossilized mastadon bones.  His collection continued to grow as patients paid him with relics and friends and family sent back exotic specimens from world travels.  The doctor was so proud of these items that he displayed them prominently in the hospital section's waiting rooms.

With so many things going on, its anyone's guess as to the cause of the paranormal activity, but there's definitely activity to speak of!  Weird shadows and movement in the windows are reported after museum hours when no one is supposed to be in the building.  Securely shut doors open on their own, strange noises, some which sound like muttering, are heard, and objects have a bad habit of disappearing.  In fact, according to curator Shelley  Gervasi, there aren't many on the staff of the museum who HAVEN'T experienced the disappearing object phenomenon!

Whether these events are the work of those who died during the home's tenure as a hospital, the doctor himself, or even tied to the many artifacts, it does appear that the renovations to the museum definitely stirred something up.  In order to better understand the paranormal activity associated with this location, the team Paranormal Research in Unknown Phenomenon uses the facility as a training ground, and several times a year, the museum hosts an open ghost investigation event for the public.

Links of interest:

Friday, November 8, 2013

Celebrity Vampires

This past summer, I implemented the very first Theme Week here on Theresa's Haunted History:  Vampire Week!  Unfortunately, the ADD kicked in, and I never quite got around to finishing out my entries for Friday and Saturday.  I apologize...but hopefully I will be redeeming myself before the end of 2013!  My first step in that redemption is to bring you today's Friday Night Funny!

Obviously, this was meant to be posted in June as part of Vampire Week, but better late than never, right?  I sincerely hope you enjoy this compilation of Celebrity Vampires!

It all started in 2011 when the following photograph was put up for sale on eBay.  Seller Jack Mord from Seattle, an antiques dealer and collector, was offering the carte de visite style photograph for a mere price of $1 million.  The photograph was found in the back of an album filled with other Civil War era photographs and is believed to be a gentleman who lived in Bristol, Tennessee around 1870.  Although un-labeled, it is believed that the photograph was taken by a man named Professor G.B. Smith.

From Business Insider
According to Mord's personal theory, the man in the photograph is none other than our modern day actor, Nicholas Cage.  Mord, who believes Cage is actually a vampire, states that every 75 years or so, the man whom we know as Nicholas Cage, fakes his death and begins a new life with a new identity.  However, skeptics were quick to point out at least one major flaw in this theory...and that's the widely accepted belief that vampires cannot be photographed!

Vampire, doppelganger, or just unfortunate resemblance...whatever the cause, Nick Cage would soon find out that he wasn't the only celebrity with a historical look-alike!  There are literally tons of these out there, but I culled a few of my favorites.

Shortly after eBay saw the Nick Cage vampire, the John Travolta vampire made an appearance.  A collector from Ontario, Canada listed this ambrotype from the early 1860s for a STEAL at $50,000!

In 2013, this photo of an Eddie Murphy doppelganger hit the internet.  Various individuals attempted to debunk the photo using error-level analysis, but not strong conclusions were ever published.  

That May, another photograph caused a similar sensation.  Digital archivists from the New York Public Library came across the photo of a Harlem man, circa 1939, who is a dead-ringer for rapper Jay-Z.

From NY Daily News

So there's just a small sampling of MY favorite celebrity look-alikes.  I'll let you come to your OWN conclusions as to whether or not these strange images are a little more than just mere coincidences are not.  I also encourage you to take a second look at those old family photo albums you might never know what (or WHO!) you're gonna find!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Dingess Tunnel

Dingess Tunnel ca 1893
Dingess Tunnel is one of those super-haunted locations that everyone seems to know about.  Everyone...except for me!  Originally constructed in 1892 for the Norfolk and Western Railroad, the tunnel served as a major landmark along what was known as the Twelve Pole Creek Line, between Lenore and Wayne.  Nearly a mile long and now open to automobile traffic, the tunnel is today used as a major thoroughfare into the small Mingo County town of Dingess.  However, a long and seedy reputation of violence and death has permanently scarred the historic structure and ensured its position as a Haunted West Virginia place of interest!

As already stated, the tunnel was constructed in 1892 and according to local history, it was constructed largely by African American and Chinese immigrant labor.  It was these two ethnic groups, among many impoverished families of all colors and backgrounds who not only flocked to the area to work on the railroad tunnel construction, but also to work the coal mines in and around Dingess.  It is said that there were a fair share of accidental deaths while the tunnel was under construction...but that there's an even darker history to account for the high number of deaths surrounding the tunnel itself!

During construction of the tunnel and throughout its first 12 years of use or so, this was THE main route in this area of Mingo County. However, locals didn't take kindly to outsiders, especially if those outsiders were of a much darker skin tone. Local lore is filled with tales of an unknown number of deaths resulting in outsiders, especially African Americans, being shot to death at the entrances to the tunnel. This violent history continued well into the second half of the 20th century. According to an article for the e-WV Encyclopedia by Robert Spence, writer Huey Perry described it as a notorious ambush site in his 1972 memoir of the Poverty War, They’ll Cut Off Your Project. An example of these ambushes was felt by a contributor to an query about the tunnel. This person related a tale that happened to her family in 1968 when her husband, child, family friend and herself attempted to go through the tunnel with out of state plates. They were stopped on the other side by several men with shotguns, demanding to know who they were and why they were there. The husband told them they were there to visit family members, and after providing his driver's license as proof of identity and luckily LOOKING like the family he said they were there to visit, the car was begrudgingly allowed through.

In addition to the violence, the narrow tunnel has also seen its fair share of accidents as well. There is mention of an event in June 1905 where two trains collided, resulting in the deaths of at least three people, but I have yet to find any substantial information on it. I did, however, stumble across another train wreck at the tunnel that occurred on September 6, 1899. A freight train crashed, resulting in seven deaths, including those of the brakemen, Frank R. Archer and Charles Booth, fireman John Chafgin, and four unknown

From Panoramio

Over the years, the tunnel fell out of favor, and eventually out of use, as a railroad line. In the 1960s, a one-lane paved road was constructed through the tunnel as a main route into the modern town of Dingess.  Today, you can still take an incredibly frightening journey through the habitually dark one-lane tunnel...but keep your eyes open for one of the ghosts of the tunnel!

For years, the tunnel has had a reputation of being haunted by the souls of those who perished in at least one of the train crashes...and possibly those who perished as a result of the high level of violence!  The apparition of a man has been seen hanging at one end of the tunnel, and at least one person claims to have gotten a photo of a little girl standing in the tunnel.  Visitors have also reported experiencing various sounds, both heard audibly to the naked ear, as well as EVP evidence, including a voice saying "Hi" and the sound of organ music.  The tunnel has such a reputation that when the Ghost Lab crew visited in the summer of 2010 to check out an alleged haunted house, locals insisted they make a stop at the tunnel!

UPDATE:  The Logan County Facebook page posted an article from Appalachian magazine about the train collision!  Find the link HERE!

(To those finding this blog through the iReport article, I've noticed some comments in the comment section of that site stating that a ghost hunter's blog is not a legit source, and I wish to clarify.  The purpose of this blog is to combine the fact with the folklore, a tag line clearly stated in my header.  I've reported on the LOCAL folklore and thought I made it clear which parts were backed up by historic resources and primary documentation...and which parts were tales passed down by locals. I'm sorry if I have failed to make that distinction clear enough.  Although I pride myself on doing in-depth research on many of my haunted WV locations, we cannot forget that folklore, no matter how technically "false" it is, is a part of the culture and history of a location as well.)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Alabama's Haunted and Historic Drish House

Around 1822 Dr. John Drish moved to Tuscaloosa area, where he set up a successful physician's practice as well as construction company.  By 1835, he married the wealthy widow, Sarah Owen McKinney, and began construction on a palatial Greek Revival mansion.  It would be the center piece of his plantation, located just outside of town.  It was completed in 1837.

Originally named Malone Place, the Drish Mansion underwent drastic renovations in the late 1850s which turned the Greek Revival styled home into an Italianate paradise, complete with 3-storey tower.  It is a local legend that these changes were the direct result of a healthy competition between Dr. Drish and Robert Jemison, a founding citizen of Tuscaloosa who at the time was building his own Italianate home.  Unfortunately, the doctor would not be around much longer.  He took a nasty fall down the staircase of his home and died in 1867.  Again, local legend has an interesting explanation for these events...

Allegedly, Dr. Drish was somewhat of a gambler and an alcoholic and after a night of drinking, the doctor began hallucinating in bed.  He jumped up out of bed, took off running, and fell right over the banister to his death.  His will stipulated that upon his death, his body should be laid out in the upstairs area of his own home and his body surrounded by candles.

Sarah remained in the home until her own death in 1884 and by some accounts, she became increasingly maddened and distraught over the death of her husband.  She even went as far as preserving the candles from his funeral to be used in the same manner during hers.  Unfortunately, she hid them away and they could not be located after her death.

Over the years, the home has been used in a variety of capacities.  In 1906, the Tuscaloosa County Board of Education established the Jemison School in the home, which surely was a blow to Dr. Drish, who was in direct competition with Robert Jemison in life.  By 1925 it was a car parts warehouse for Charles Turner's Tuscaloosa Wrecker Company and in 1940 it was purchased by the Southside Baptist Church.

Membership in the church dwindled by 1995 and for awhile the property was leased to the local Heritage Committee.  However, it wouldn't be until 2007 when several of the former church members turned the deed over to the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society.  Since then, the organization has been busy trying to clean out and stabilize the structure, as well as demolishing several wings added onto the original homestead.  The group also opened the home up to paranormal investigations for the first time, and with very good reason!

The ghosts of the Drish Mansion made their public debut with the 1969 book, 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey, by Kathryn Tucker Windham.  According to stories found within the book and elsewhere in popular ghost lore, it seems that there are at least three ghosts that still reside within the home.  The apparition of Dr. Drish himself has been seen, and there are stories that his daughter, Katherine, who was also said to have gone insane due to her relationship with a young man being forbidden by her father, makes an appearance.  However, the most prolific haunting is possibly connected with Sarah.

After Sarah's death, passersby would often note that lights would be on in the third story tower.  Many times, this visible candlelight was so overpowering that people assumed the home was on fire!  The fire department would be called, and when they arrived, found no evidence of a fire burning anywhere in the home.  It is believed that Sarah is lighting the candles that she so desperately obsessed over for her own funeral.

More information on the history of the house and its ghosts, as well as the results of an investigation by the Tuscaloosa Paranormal Research Group can be found in the article below:

Tuscaloosa News: Drish House Finally Gets a Chance to Yield its Secrets