Employees and several guests at the Story Inn on State Road 135 know the room at the top of the stairs as the “Blue Lady” room, so named for a spectral visitor who evidently has made it her permanent residence. She’s been seen standing at the edge of the bed, reflected in the window or in the mirror.
One worker who has been employed by the inn for more than ten years saw a metal coffeepot fall off of a cabinet with no one near. She has also seen another ghost in the inn. On her way downstairs to take a call she saw a cream-colored skirt swoosh around a corner. When she reached the bottom of the stairs no one was in sight. There was no other way out.
A picture of an old lady dressed in dark, nineteenth-century clothing hangs on the wall behind the service desk. It seems to have a “life” of it’s own. One of the owners commented to an employee, “She sure wasn’t very pretty.” Suddenly the picture crashed to the floor. The nail was firmly in the wall and the wire was intact!
Encounters of the Blue Lady continue to be reported
The aroma of cherry tobacco often accompanies sightings of the Blue Lady dressed in a floor length gown. Though no one know who the Blue Lady is, the employees have decided she must be one of Dr. Story’s wives, though there is no reason to believe this.
The inn isn’t the only haunted building in Story. Dr. George Story, the town’s founder, built his home on the highest point in the town. Visitors and employees believe his house is haunted. On more than one occasion the housekeeper has been pinched as she cleans the house. She’s also reported lights in the rooms after she’s turned them off and doors opening and closing without anyone being bear them.
This is one of the many stories Wanda Lou Willis shares in her book Haunted Hoosier Trails. If you enjoyed this story visit us again next week as Wanda tells us about the haunting going on at The Azalia Bridge in Southern Indiana.
Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx was founded in 1863. Its 400 acres are easily accessible from Manhattan via trains from Grand Central Station, as well as by car using the Major Deegan (I-87) or I-95. The intention behind the location was to have a peaceful place away from the downtown noise, but not too far away. The original design of the cemetery was based on the “rural cemetery movement” that originated in 1831 with Mount Auburn Cemetery in Boston. However, five years after the cemetery opened, its design was changed to a “landscape lawn plan,” which prohibited fences and encouraged central monuments with footstones. The cleaner, more spacious grounds made cemetery maintenance much easier. A few of the 300,000 people interred at Woodlawn are mentioned in this book—people such as the Van Cortlandts, Herman Melville, and Olive Thomas Pickford. Other famous people buried there include George M. Cohan, Fiorello Henry LaGuardia, Nellie Bly, Joseph Pulitzer, and Thomas Nast. For those of you who appreciate retail shopping, F.W. Woolworth, Roland H. Macy, and James Cash Penney are buried there, too.
Woodlawn offers many free events, such as concerts, walking and bus tours, theater performances, and a tree lighting during the holidays. It’s more than a cemetery; it’s a cultural resource for the Bronx. Photography is allowed in the cemetery as long as you stop by the office upon arrival, present a photo ID, and complete a simple form. I recommend you follow the formal steps in case you capture some amazing paranormal evidence and want to share it on your Web site or in a newspaper article. The cemetery grounds are open every day from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., but the office, where photography permission is secured, is closed on Sundays.
When I first visited Woodlawn, the ground was snow-covered and it was difficult to walk around; some of the drifts were more than three feet high. So I went back in early March of 2010 with Dina Chirico, my team leader at the New Jersey Ghost Hunters Society. Dina is a great navigator, which helped tremendously; she read the map and directed me while I drove. The first grave I was determined to find was that of Herman Melville. What writer could refuse the chance to pay respects to one of the greats? I certainly couldn’t. According to the map, Melville’s grave was located in the Catalpa section of the cemetery. We drove over to it and parked.
Dina and I employed a “divide and conquer” strategy to find the grave: she started at one end of the section, and I went to the other. I had my digital audio recorder running the whole time I was searching. I noted on the recording the date, time, and weather; I also took some photos while searching. As I started up a small incline, I saw what appeared to be a baby’s grave. I said into my recorder, “a little . . . it looks like a little baby grave. Born January 2, 1871, died . . . I can’t make out the month . . . seventeenth of 1872.” When I reviewed the recording, right after I said, “looks like a little baby grave,” I heard the voice of a woman whisper, “Yeah.” I know it’s not my voice because I was speaking at a normal conversational volume, and the EVP interjects so closely after my previous word, it’s impossible that I could have said it. I know it’s not Dina’s voice, either; she was so far away from me at the time that she had to yell to ask if I had found Melville’s grave yet. I shut the recorder off so I could yell back to her that I hadn’t. I didn’t know I had captured an EVP until I got home and reviewed the recording.
Dina and I reconvened at my car and reviewed the map once more. She knew we were close to Melville’s grave, and she became even more determined to find it. We started out again, and Dina found it. Honestly, I was expecting a huge monument for someone like him, but it was a simple, modest headstone. Little rocks and trinkets left by previous visitors sat atop the headstone. There was also a handwritten note that said, “Thanks. You changed my life.” Dina and I waited quietly around Melville’s grave for a bit, recording for EVPs. Then we left to find LaGuardia’s grave.
Fiorello LaGuardia was mayor of New York City from 1934 to 1945. He was a short, rotund man with a high-pitched voice, but full of fire and conviction. He did not like the shame and negative stereotypes the mob had brought to Italian culture. LaGuardia put it best when he said, “Let’s drive the bums out of town.” He had Lucky Luciano arrested, and he went after Frank Costello’s slot machines with a sledgehammer. It was a media event when the slot machines were dumped onto a barge to be taken away from New York City. Dina and I found LaGuardia’s grave much more easily than Melville’s. By then it was getting late, and we couldn’t hang around to conduct an EVP session. Dina took some pictures of the grave before we left the cemetery. Judging by how effortlessly I captured an EVP while walking around Woodlawn Cemetery, I am sure there are more to be found on a return trip. I wonder what Joseph Pulitzer, “father of journalism,” has to say these days.
Haunted Hotels in Kentucky anyone?
A list of haunted hotels in Kentucky as described in Patti Starr’s Ghosthunting Kentucky
Boone Tavern (859) 985-3700
100 Main Street North, Berea, KY 40403
During the past century Boone Tavern has provided cozy lodging and fine dining to many travelers. These features have contributed to the hotel’s heritage of hospitality. Boone Tavern has been visited by many notable guests, such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Duncan Hines, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Alex Haley, Dalai Lama, Jesse Stuart, Robert Frost, and Geena Davis. Now you can be a distinguished guest by staying at the Boone Tavern. Reserve your room today by going to the Boone Tavern Web site.
Hall Place Bed-and-Breakfast (270) 651-3176
313 South Green Street, Glasgow, KY 42141
You will find this antebellum house in the historic downtown district of Glasgow. The dwelling offers four spacious guest rooms with private baths. There is a wonderful parlor and library filled with relics and old books. There’s a wonderful Victrola in the corner of the parlor that just might play a song on its own, if the ghosts are active enough. Check out the Web site for weekend specials.
Jailers Inn Bed-and-Breakfast (502) 348-5551
111 West Stephen Foster Avenue, Bardstown, KY 40004-1415
The Jailers Inn Bed-and-Breakfast is a place to enjoy a bit of history and to “do time” in the old jail. Of course your time will be a short stay as you enjoy their Southern hospitality. They offer a full breakfast, private baths, and a complimentary tour through the historic jail. Please check the Web site for weekend specials.
Maple Hill Manor Bed-and-Breakfast (859) 336-3075
2941 Perryville Road, US 150 East, Springfield, KY 40069
Voted “Most Historic Charm in the US” and “Best B&B in Kentucky” and “Best Breakfast in the Southeast.” You will find lots of amenities, which include a full country gourmet breakfast, homemade desserts and refreshments during the day with hot and cold beverages available. Check out the Web site for a variety of weekend specials.
Mullins Log Cabin (859) 322-3082
305 Scaffold Lick Creek Road, Berry, KY 41003
You get closer to nature at the Mullins Log Cabin. Judy Mullins offers workshops in basket weaving and herb picking if you want more to do. There’s so much to enjoy while staying at the cabin, and telling ghost stories by the fireplace at night might conjure up a ghost or two. Call Judy for reservations.
The Old Talbott Tavern (502) 348-3494
107 West Stephen Foster Avenue, Bardstown, KY 40004
The Old Talbott Tavern has provided shelter and nourishment to Kentucky travelers since the late 1700s. It is said that the Tavern is the oldest western stagecoach stop in America. It continues to serve good home-cooked meals and furnish comfort and rest for the weary traveler.
Serving times: Monday–Friday, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. (lunch) and 4–8 p.m. (dinner);
Saturday, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. (lunch) and 4–9 p.m. (dinner); Sunday brunch, 10 a.m.–2 p.m.
Springhill Winery and Plantation Bed-and-Breakfast (502) 252-9463
3205 Springfield Road, Bloomfield KY 40008
Springhill, the stately and historic 1857 plantation, is a destination to discover both the historic past and ghostly activity. After a delightful day, what better way to end it than to have a glass of wine from the vineyard. Check out the Web site for weekend packages and special events.
Explore the scariest spots in the Bluegrass State with author Patti Starr in Ghoshunting Kentucky. Join Patti as she visits thirty legendary haunted places, all of which are open to the public – so you can test your own ghost hunting skills, if you dare.
In addition to the above mentioned haunted hotels in Kentucky you go to Bobby Mackey’s Music World, the State Historic Theater and Natural Bridge Resort Park. Enjoy Ghosthunting Kentucky from the safety of your armchair or hit the road using the maps and the ghost hunting travel guide. Book a night in a haunted hotel in Kentucky and get ready for a frightful night.
Located on Staten Island, the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum houses historical displays and artwork and hosts Italian cultural classes. The museum also provides ghosthunters with paranormal activity to explore, but to fully understand it, we must get to know the two famous Italians for whom the museum is named. Guiseppi Garibaldi is known as the George Washington of Italy. He fought for the unification of the twenty Italian city-states. Sadly for him, his hometown of Niza ended up becoming Nice, France, when the final borders of Italy were determined. In addition to fighting in Italy and being exiled, Garibaldi fought in
South America in support of Brazil’s war against Spain. It was in Brazil that he met the love of his life, Anita. They married and had four children together. Later, Garibaldi fought for Uruguay when it was invaded by Argentina. In Uruguay he was given a red shirt to wear, and this became the uniform for his fellow soldiers. They were known as “the Red Shirts.” Eventually Garibaldi returned to Italy with his wife and children so that he could fight once more to unite Italy. The Catholic states’ army overwhelmed Garibaldi’s men, and he was condemned to death. His wife had died during the battle; therefore, he left his children with his mother and fled to America to escape execution.
Antonio Meucci was born in Florence, Italy, and attended Accademia di Bell’ Arte (the Academy of Fine Arts), where he studied chemical and mechanical engineering. He met his future wife, Ester Mochi, when she was a costume seamstress at a local opera company where he was working as a stage technician. They married in 1834, and in 1835, they moved with the opera company to Havana, Cuba. They stayed in Cuba for fifteen years before relocating to America in 1850. The home they rented, built ten years prior in 1840, eventually became the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum. Meucci was a prolific inventor. In fact, he had a prototype for an electromechanical telephone when Alexander Graham Bell was only two years old. Although Meucci couldn’t explain electricity— he was an inventor, not a scientist—he did discover that sound, encoded as electrical impulses, would travel over copper wires. In 1854, Meucci used his “teletrefono,” as he called it, in his Staten Island home. The device allowed his wife, who was ill and bedridden, to call from her bedroom to his workshop if she needed something. In 1860, Meucci didn’t have the $250 necessary to secure a patent for his device. However, his lab partner at the time, Alexander Graham Bell, did have the money. Bell also had a powerful businessman named Hubbard as his future father-in-law. The well-connected Hubbard called in a favor or two that allowed his future son-in-law to submit for a patent for a tweaked version of Meucci’s invention. Bell’s design didn’t work, yet he was allowed to correct and resubmit his application, and within three weeks the patent was granted. Even today, such a quick turnaround for a patent is unheard of.
Curiously, Meucci’s paperwork and designs disappeared from the patent office around the time Bell was submitting for the patent. Meucci spoke only broken English, which cost him dearly in the effort to protect his business interests. He was truly taken advantage of by Bell and other big names of the day. For years, Meucci contested ownership of the telephone patent. Sadly, he died in 1899, before his case against Bell could be heard by the Supreme Court. But in 2002, the U.S. House of Representatives finally acknowledged Meucci as the inventor of the telephone.
So how were Garibaldi and Meucci connected? Garibaldi arrived in New York shortly after the Meuccis had moved into their home on Staten Island in 1850. Meucci insisted that Garibaldi stay with him and his wife, and Garibaldi ended up living with the Meuccis for six months—although the plaque above the entrance says he lived there for four years, probably because he returned to Italy in 1854 to continue the fight for unification. The house was moved to its present location in 1907, and a pantheon structure was built over it to convert it to a temple paying homage to Garibaldi. The pantheon was removed in the early 1950s because it was deteriorating. When you enter the house today, you’re actually coming in the back door; the house was rotated when placed on the property so that the sign announcing Garibaldi as “Hero of Two Worlds” would face the street. Meucci and his wife both died in residence at this house and are buried on the property. It’s possible that the rightfully disgruntled energies of Meucci may account for the otherwise inexplicable banging noises sometimes heard there.
The staff at the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum experiences cold spots and banging noises
I spoke with Bonnie McCourt, publicity coordinator at the museum, and she said that she has yet to experience anything paranormal there. Her boss, Nichole, the museum director, is relatively new to her post and has not encountered anything unusual there either. Nichole did say, however, that her predecessor had experienced cold spots and banging noises and was once pushed by an unseen hand as she ascended the stairs on her way to her second-floor office. Nichole suggested I speak with Amy Raiola, Founder and Lead Investigator for the Staten Island Paranormal Society. I did just that. Amy first investigated the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum in 2006. She told me that initially her team tracked a cold spot that moved throughout the museum. In fact, just after they entered the museum, it felt so cold that they decided to check the furnace. One woman on the team opted to run back to her car to retrieve her coat while the remaining team members inspected the furnace. By the time she got back into the museum with her coat, the place was hot—not just warmed up, but hot. Amy confirmed the furnace and heat were working properly. They realized that the cold spot moved around the museum, causing the furnace to run hotter than normal to compensate for the varying spots of extreme cold. Once the cold spot moved on, the space would revert back to being “extra toasty.” The team also obtained photos of orbs and various EVP recordings.
Investigation at the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum
In 2007, Amy and her team played host to Chris Moon of Haunted Times magazine and his Ghost Hunter’s University. The investigation at the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum incorporated the “Spirit Com” communication device Moon developed based on Thomas Edison’s original designs and ideas. Amy said it sounded as if voices from “the great beyond” were communicating via the “Spirit Com,” but that no words were discernable. “It was very faint or garbled sounding,” Amy said. As the night wore on, several members of the team left the site to get something to eat. Amy and the remaining seven investigators continued their work. After a while, they called it quits and began packing up their equipment. Just as they had gotten everything packed and ready to be hauled to their cars, they heard a loud bang from upstairs in the library.Amy described it as the sound of a large television falling off its stand.
The investigators rushed to the foot of the stairs. Amy was about to go upstairs to inspect, but she refrained, thinking it was probably one of the other investigators who was hiding up there and would jump out to scare her. Another team member volunteered to go upstairs. When his foot landed on the third stair, they heard a woman’s voice emanating from the top of the staircase, just outside the door to Garibaldi’s room. The woman’s voice was loud enough to be heard by everyone, but she was mumbling, so her words were not clear. Amy and a couple other investigators ran to their equipment cases and grabbed what they could. Chris Moon, with his audio recorder, was the first one upstairs. Amy followed with her camcorder. Amy said her video camera was working perfectly as she went up the stairs. As she approached the library, one of the investigators called out, “Matilda, is that you?” (Amy informed me that, over the course of their research, they had discovered the name “Matilda” in the museum’s paperwork.) Chris Moon’s audio recorder captured the ghostly woman’s response: “Yes.” Right after that EVP, Amy’s camcorder displayed lines across its screen and then shut down; it has not functioned since.
The day I went to the Garibald-Meucci Museum was not the best time to attempt to record for EVPs, though I tried. The offices on the second floor were full of activity such as phone calls and a radio playing in the background. I heard a loud crash, but it was not a paranormal one; it was merely a stack of files on the edge of a counter falling to the floor. Amy invited me to investigate the museum with her team the next time they go there. I simply cannot refuse. I want to know if Meucci’s restless spirit is wandering there. Is he unaware of his posthumous recognition as the inventor of the telephone? Could the ghost of his wife be the mumbling woman at the top of stairs? Either way, Meucci should be proud . . . talk about a long-distance call!
In the late 1700s covered bridges were being built in small towns all over Kentucky. At one point there were over four hundred of these magnificent wooden, covered passages that provided protection for travelers, wagons, cargo, and cattle as they crossed a river or creek. Of all these bridges, there are only thirteen left, and of the thirteen, only four are still open to vehicular traffic. Most of these covered bridges were lost to fire, burned by troops on both sides during the Civil War. Today, all the remaining covered bridges are listed with the National Registry of Historic Places. Stories are told about the bridges as stages for hanging a slave, or hacking off someone’s head, or losing control of a car and crashing into the water below. There are bridge stories about Civil War ambushes and unwanted babies tossed into the water. Such incidents are the source for many ghost stories.
Facts about the Haunted Colville Covered Bridge
It was built in 1877 by Jacob Bower, and it traverses over Hinkston Creek in Bourbon County. The bridge featured truss construction and a multiple king post style with a single 124-foot span. During this era the Kentucky wilderness was covered with an abundance of poplar trees, so the truss structure was built with poplar timbers. After many years, the bridge was in dire need of repairs and was restored by Louis Bower in 1913. His son, Stock, restored and raised the bridge to its present height in 1937. Sadly, the rough-hewn structure that served its community so well was dismantled in 1997 and had to be totally rebuilt. It didn’t open to traffic again until 2001.
Investigating the Haunted Colville Bridge
Once I had collected my information about this haunted location, Chuck and I drove to the Colville Bridge by the way of Paris Pike, one of the most scenic roadways in the Kentucky Bluegrass Region. This quiet route affords spectacular views of horse farms amidst the historic rock fences that line the road for twelve miles.
A blanket of shadows formed around us as we entered the blackness of night along the country road. We turned off onto a more primitive road, and shortly the headlights revealed a bright white-and-green covered bridge directly before us. We pulled off the road and stopped before entering the bridge. I grabbed my flash light and left the car to go stand in the middle of the bridge. It was a cool October evening with a slight breeze that carried the scent of the water below. There was no moon that night so the only light that brightened my path was the torch in my hand. Chuck called out from the car, “Hey, Patti, don’t go too far, I don’t want to lose sight of you.” I yelled back, “I’m okay, don’t worry about me!” and at that moment I felt a slight touch on my shoulder. I jerked around and flashed the light towards where I was standing. Nothing was there. Just about that time, a set of headlights came up behind me, and as I turned I could see that it was the rest of my investigation team. I had decided to invite Pete Eclov and Mary Beth to join us at the bridge. They were two of my newer ghosthunters and needed to get more experience in the field. I knew their expectations would run high, which, to me, seems to render better results on a ghost investigation. It sure did pay off because we started to get results as soon as we began gathering our data.
After we had discussed some of the bridge legends, which included the teenage couple who drowned under the bridge and Ms. Mitchell, we decided to turn on our EMF meters, recorders, and the Ovilus. While walking down the center of the bridge, our EMF meters started beeping, alerting us to a disturbance in the electromagnetic field. Even though the disruption only lasted for a couple of minutes, we were able to get responses to a few of our yes and no questions. The Ovilus, which indicates energy through reciting words, started to talk shortly after the meters registered. As I lifted the Ovilus up, it spouted out, “Car lights,” and we looked at each other in amazement, since one of the stories involved car lights coming up behind a parked car on the bridge. Then I asked if Ms. Mitchell could come through, and shortly after that question the Ovilus said, “Sarah Mitchell.” This name is not programmed into the vocabulary of the Ovilus, so you can understand our astonishment. Mary Beth said, “Are you here with us, Ms. Mitchell?” Pete decided to rewind his audio recorder to see if we got a response to the question. Sure enough, we heard a woman’s voice clearly answer “yes” to Mary Beth’s question.
I always tell people that I do not have proof that ghosts exist, but I’ve been known to get some pretty convincing evidence. I feel the evidence we collected that night at the bridge was a good indication that the Covered Colville Bridge is definitely haunted and worth the trip to investigate.
With Christmas only a few days away we wanted to share with you a recipe from the Ghost Whisperer’s Cookbook. Enjoy the story and the Beyond Delicious Coconut Kisses
The Story of Ted’s Beyond Delicious Coconut Kisses
When I’m visiting friends, they usually know better than to invite people over at the same time. You’d be amazed how many conversations come around to ghost stories, and from there it’s only a matter of time before it comes out about what I can do. After that, there’s no more relaxing for me! It’s like I’m back on the clock, answering questions and telling stories. Not to say it’s particularly hard for me to tell stories – I love to! – but when I’m expecting a night off, I like to have it.
That’s why it took me by surprise when my friend Sharon said she had invited her neighbor Carly over to visit with us. I was dumb folded when she also announced that Carly thought she had a ghost, which is why she wanted to stop by and visit. The only thing that saved the afternoon was the big plate of cookies Carly arrived with!
Ted, my husband was with me and his eyes lit up when he saw that some of the cookies were macaroons. Ted’s a huge fan of coconut, especially coconut cookies, but since I am not, he really doesn’t get them much at home. As Ted reached for his second, I noticed that the ghost who had come in with Carly – because yes, there was a man attached to her – was scowling a little.
“These are delicious!” Ted said. “The macaroons?” Carly replied. “Thank you!” That made the ghost scowl even deeper. “Those are not macaroons,” he mumbled. “Why does he always call them macaroons?” “Well, what do you call them?” I asked the ghost. He told me they were Coconut kisses, not macaroons. I didn’t want to bicker about what the difference could possibly be, so I asked him who he was instead.
Turns out his name was also Ted, to which Carly responded, “Grouchy Uncle Ted?” “He didn’t introduce himself that way,” I said diplomatically. Carly had me ask him if he had a wife and what her name was, which confirmed that it was indeed Aunt Irene’s husband, grouchy Uncle Ted. “He was always so particular about everything,” Carly explained. “He’d sit there and grouch about everything that wasn’t exactly the way he like it.”
“Actually, he’s complaining now,” I admitted, and explained to Carly what he’d said about the cookies. “Oh, I know what he called them,” Carly said. “But everyone else on the planet calls them macaroons, so that’s what I call them now, too.” “No!” Uncle Ted disagreed. “They are not macaroons! Macaroons have flour in them and these cookies do not. Is she even making them right? They have to cool on a damp cloth before you try to take them out of the pan.” Uncle Ted – perhaps in an effort to prove how articular he really was – then asked me to copy down his recipe to make sure Carly was at least making them right.
I passed along the recipe and Carly nodded as she looked it over. “Yes, that’s how they’re made. I don’t need this,” she said, handing the recipe back to me. So I made the White Light for Uncle Ted. Thankfully, he saw Irene in it and crossed right over without another thought.
Ted’s Beyond Delicious Coconut Kisses Recipe
1 1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg white
Blend coconut, milk, and vanilla thoroughly. Beat egg white until stiff. Combine the two mixtures and drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Bake in moderate over at 350 degree for 15-20 minutes. After baking, let cool for several minutes on a damp cloth before carefully lifting them from the pan with a spatula. Placing the pan on a folded damp cloth while removing the kisses helps to avoid breaking them.
After a delicious lunch of pizza at the Monticello Pizza Kitchen, which, by the way, is also haunted, Betty, Lisa, and I headed for Tallahassee and the Knott House Museum just down from Florida’s Old Capitol in the Park Avenue Historic District. The area around what is now Tallahassee has been occupied by various indigenous and European cultures for twelve thousand years. Soon after the United States took possession of Florida from the Spanish in 1821, the Territorial Governor, William P. Duval, laid out the city, and in 1824 it became the territorial and later state capital of Florida. It is a beautiful city. Its rolling hills, wide boulevards, stately buildings, various college campuses, and numerous parks give Tallahassee a genteel ambiance.
And the Knott House with its handsome Greek Revival facade only adds to that atmosphere. The house was built in 1843 by free-black builder George Proctor as a wedding gift for Thomas Hagner and his wife, Catherine. Thomas died in 1848, but Catherine remained in the house and added major additions to the rear. She turned it into a boarding house, presumably to supplement her income. At the end of the Civil War, Union General Edward McCook commandeered the home for his headquarters. He read President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation from the front steps on May 20, 1865. Today a ceremony on May 20 every year commemorates the event.
The Hagner family owned the house until 1883 when they sold it to a Dr. Betton, who maintained his office in the building. Following a succession of owners, William and Luella Knott finally bought the house in 1928. The Knotts were an influential family in Tallahassee. William was variously the state treasurer and comptroller and ran unsuccessfully for governor. Luella, a poet and community volunteer, was a staunch supporter of women’s rights. She homeschooled her three children, Mary Franklin, James Robert, and John Charles (“Charlie”), wrote and published countless poems, and filled her house with the antiques she loved. She also filled her home with poetry, which even today is scattered around the rooms, tied to various items with silk ribbons. Because of that, the house is known as the “The House That Rhymes.”
William died in April 1965 at 101 years of age; Luella fell and died a few days after that. Charlie then moved into his family home, determined to preserve it as his parents had left it. And when he died in 1985, he left it to the State of Florida, stipulating that it be maintained as a museum house. The Historic Tallahassee Preservation Board took charge of the property, and after spending more than one million dollars and several years of preservation and restoration efforts—the restoration team found evidence of earlier fires, which had to be addressed—the museum finally opened to the public in 1992.
Walking through Knott House Museum
Walking through the house is eerie. It is so complete and looks so lived in, I expected to see the lady of the house, Mrs. Knott, around every corner and in every room. There are four thousand books, three hundred pieces of furniture, and fifteen hundred personal items and art work. Books lie open on tables. Personal effects are strewn about. I would not have been surprised to see a steaming cup of coffee sitting on the counter in the kitchen, waiting for Charlie to come in and pick it up. I felt as if I were invading the Knotts’ privacy, as if I shouldn’t be there. But it is a beautiful house and extremely well maintained. Tours in the past used to be self-guided, but are now led by knowledgeable docents. That’s probably a good idea. Betty and her BBGT crew have been through the house many times. In past years, the curator hosted a “Fear Knott” event around Halloween as a fund-raiser. Betty, Lisa, and their team gave presentations and “haunted” tours through the house in the evenings. They also have conducted paranormal investigations in the building and have spent many nights there after the museum was closed. The most frequent experiences reported by BBGT investigators, visitors, and staff are footsteps. They are heard throughout the house. Sometimes they are very heavy like a man’s, and at other times lighter, as if a woman were walking around. They could very well be Charlie’s father, his mother, or Charlie himself. All three had a special passion for the house.
Once in the days when the tours were self-guided, a visitor rushed down the stairs breathless. A staff member was standing at the bottom. The visitor, quite excited, said, “I believe I’ve just seen a ghost!” The staff member, who’d had her own experiences, asked the lady what had happened. “Well, I just went into the first room on the right at the top of the stairs, and there was an older woman dressed in old-fashioned clothes standing there. At first, I thought she was a docent or something, but she just stood there and looked at me. And then she evaporated into thin air!” On several other occasions, visitors have reported seeing people throughout the house who appeared to be visitors as well, only to vanish before their eyes. Perhaps Charlie, his parents, and maybe even his friends are walking the halls. In the past, various staff members have reported items being moved around. Perhaps a book has been taken from a shelf in the library and left on a table somewhere else, pictures rearranged, fireplace tools misplaced, pages of music on the piano turned.
The Knott House Museum is a “must-see”
At the end of each day, the outside doors to the Knott House are closed and locked, of course, but inside doors are always left open to provide air circulation. Often when staff members arrive in the morning to unlock the house, those inside doors are all closed. And passersby late at night have reported seeing lights switching on and off inside the locked and empty house, as if someone was going from room to room.
In the Knott House Museum, Betty and her BBGT investigators have experienced just about every activity others have reported. They’ve also had another experience. During one investigation, Betty and Lisa were sitting downstairs, quietly listening, when they heard humming coming from upstairs. It sounded like a woman softly humming a lullaby to a baby. When they went through every room in the house to try to find the source of the sound, they could hear it everywhere but were never able to identify its location. The Knott House Museum is a “must-see” stop for anyone visiting Tallahassee. The visitor will find the most completely restored nineteenth-century house in Florida, and who knows? You might get to meet Mr. and Mrs. Knott or their son, Charlie.
Enjoy Ghosthunting Florida from the safety of your armchair or hit the road using the maps, the haunted sites travel guide, and the “Ghostly Resources.”
Redhawk Ranch – Wimauma
A story about peaceful Redhawk Ranch by Dave Lapham
Chasing ghosts across the length and breadth of Florida had been a thrill so far. I’d met dozens of wonderful people and had many exciting experiences, but like any road trip, it could wear you down. And after many weeks and hundreds of miles, I was getting tired and was thinking of taking a break from my travels. That’s when I met Bud and Brenda Hoshaw of the Redhawk Ranch, five miles south of Wimauma. They invited me to their ranch and spiritual retreat center, and I quickly accepted. From the moment I passed through the gates, I felt at peace, completely relaxed. But the tranquility and serenity of the place belies its violent past. Indigenous people occupied the area around Tampa Bay and the southwest coast of Florida for thousands of years. There is strong evidence that some of them lived on what is now the Redhawk Ranch. Tocobaga and Calusa tribes made their homes along the stream that flows along the south side of the retreat center.
The Tocobaga and Calusa tribes made their homes on what is now the Redhawk Ranch
The Calusa were powerful and dominated the area from just south of Tampa Bay to Fort Myers and inland to Lake Okeechobee. Their original name, Calos, meant “Fierce People,” but they, as well as the Tocobaga to the north, were no match for the Spanish conquistadors who came into the area in the 1500s. Hernando de Soto, who landed in the Tampa Bay area in May, 1539, was especially brutal. De Soto’s troops raped, murdered, mutilated, and slaughtered innocents with abandon. They even had trained greyhounds that attacked on command. The Spanish fed the dogs human flesh. Smallpox, measles, and other diseases brought in by the Spanish further decimated the native peoples in the area. In time the land passed into the hands of white settlers, and the Indians were no more.
But something or someone wanted Native Americans back on the land. Bud and Brenda Hoshaw are Native Americans, Bud part Menominee and Brenda Cherokee and Cheyenne. The story of their acquisition of the 18.5 acres that is now the Redhawk Ranch is bizarre. About twelve years ago, Bud and Brenda lived in a beautiful log home about four miles away. This house on five acres was their dream home, and they were quite happy. Then one day Brenda was on her computer when an advertisement for an 18.5- acre tract nearby popped up. She thought it strange, because she had been researching other things, not real estate. She deleted the ad and went back to work. The ad popped up again, and over the next ten days every time she went on the computer to Google something, the advertisement came up.
Finally, Bud told her, “Let’s call the realtor. This obviously means something.” And so they did. Carl Weiss took them to the property on Route 579, which turned out to be hard to find, because the large “For Sale” sign had fallen over and couldn’t be seen from the road. The frontage was completely overgrown and there was no drive into the place, although two rotting gate posts stood several yards off the road. But as soon as they stopped and got out of the car, Brenda knew she had to have the property. Brenda is psychic, and the first thing she saw was an Indian by the old gate posts. He seemed to be a sentry or lookout. And as they walked the property, she felt and saw other entities, including a red hawk. In the northeast corner, she was almost overcome by the beauty and peace of the place. A bank in New York owned the property, and when Bud and Brenda discovered what the bank was asking, they were dismayed. They couldn’t afford it. But Brenda prayed about it and knew they were supposed to be there, so they made an offer—one third of the asking price. The bank accepted their offer without even a counter offer. Stranger still, they discovered later that another man had gone around the realtor and directly to the bank with a much better offer and was refused.
An evening of ghosthunting at Redhawk Ranch
On one recent occasion, Brenda invited several sensitive friends down for an evening of “ghosthunting.” Claire Castillo, Frank and Debbie Visicaro, Rick and Denise Incorvia, Cynthia Anderson, and Helen Bender all assembled with Bud and Brenda in their living room. They were asked to walk around the property without discussing their experiences and then write down whatever ever they saw, smelled, heard, or felt. After everyone was finished they would gather and tell the group what they had experienced. Three hours later, they all returned to the living room, excited by what they had encountered. To begin, several of them felt that the whole area had once been underwater, and as geological changes had occurred, it had become dry land. There was also some sense that a stream once existed next to the driveway. They also felt that the stream running along the south side of the property had once been much wider and deeper.
Debbie and Rick agreed that this area had once been a village. They both had a vision of a panicked group of women, children, and old men getting into two canoes on the stream in the southwest corner of the ranch and fleeing. They felt that the village was under attack by white men. Not far away, several members of the group sensed a burial ground. Farther upstream Brenda had a vision of an area where women gave birth. Possibly a hut of some kind once stood there. She said her knees went weak, and she had difficulty breathing. There was high energy all along the stream. Frank also had a vision of several Spanish swords lying on the ground near the northeast corner in the vicinity of Bud and Brenda’s Sacred Circle. He also saw what he thought was an angel, a wolf, and an owl, which he sensed were keeping them safe from deception. Near the creek he had the feeling that a child had drowned. Denise and Bud saw a chief that was made of wood, its head covered with brightly colored wooden feathers. And almost everyone saw wraith-like wolves, eagles, coyotes, dragonflies, and even a white horse, in addition to the ghosts of two young white girls. Cynthia said she sensed a brave showing off the horse in a camp right behind the house.
On this occasion and many times before and since, Cynthia, Debbie, and Brenda also met an old man, a chief, sitting in a rocking chair on Brenda’s porch. They smelled his pipe before they even saw him. He is a kindly person, and Brenda is comforted by his presence. The group stayed late into the evening, sharing with each other. And although they each had different experiences, they all agreed that, except for the area where the burial grounds were located, the whole ranch was filled with positive energy. On my visit, as usual, I saw nothing, but I was filled with peace and a sense of well-being. And I did have one experience. While walking into the Sacred Circle with Bud, the wind chimes hanging there began tinkling, which, Bud told me, almost always happened. Still, it made me smile. After we soaked up the good vibes in the circle for several minutes, Bud motioned to me, “Come on. I want to show you something else.”
And we walked out into a circle of trees in the center of the field which fronts the house. Bud produced a compass and handed it to me. When I stood exactly in the center of the ring of trees, the north arrow pointed north, but if I moved one step to the left, the needle swung left. If I stepped one pace to the right of center, it swung to the right. Very curious. Bud and Brenda have several mastiffs for security. They are sweet dogs, but Bud is careful to pen them when strangers are around, because they are very protective. On my visit, Bud was with me when I got out of my truck, so all they did was lick my hand and vie for attention. I love dogs, and we made friends quickly. When I drove away from the house and stopped across the field at the Sacred Circle for one last look, the dogs came bounding after me, crowding around and begging for attention.
When I finally walked back to my truck, opened the door, and started to step up, Butkus, their big male who doesn’t weigh much less than his namesake, sat on my foot and looked up at me with soulful eyes. He didn’t want me to leave. “I know, pal. I don’t want to leave either, but I’ve got to go.” With that he raised his rump and licked my hand goodbye. Driving away, I laughed out loud with happiness, totally revived and ready to get back on my haunted road trip. The Redhawk Ranch is a fantastic place, and when I finish with this book, I’m going back for a nice, long stay. I hope I can finally meet some of these friendly ghosts in person.
Berry Hill Road – Sleepy Hollow Southern Style A story by Michael Varhola
Certain it is, the place still continues under the sway of some witching power … The whole neighborhood abounds with local tales, haunted spots, and twilight superstitions; stars shoot and meteors glare oftener across the valley than in any other part of the country. – Washington Irving, ”The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”
Berry Hill Road and the area through which it wends are creepy under the best of circumstances, and it is easy to see how someone visiting them in darkness might conclude they are haunted. In addition, the stretch of country road and the rural thoroughfares branching off it are also home to a number of other reputed paranormal phenomena.
This road does, in fact, have a widespread reputation for weirdness in the Danville area, as my wife, Diane, and I discovered while ghosthunting there the week between Christmas and New Year in 2007. We had gone in search of ghosts associated with the wreck of the Old 97, a train that had derailed in 1903, but nearly everyone we talked to dismissed it and directed us instead to Berry Hill Road.
It was an unseasonably bright, sunny, and warm afternoon as my wife and I headed east on Riverside Drive out of Danville, following the directions we had been given by various people. We had, in fact, spent part of the previous evening drinking martinis with Colie Walker, night manager for the restaurant at the hotel where we had stayed the night, and he had given us an earful about the place. His stories included accounts of ghostly little girls jumping rope near the willow tree under which their bodies were buried; a span dubbed “Satan’s Bridge” where the spectral form of a young man who supposedly hanged himself there has reportedly been seen; a stretch of highway in front of a witch’s house on which cars will roll uphill rather than down; and the slaughtered carcasses of animals hung from trees. It is also reputedly an active stomping ground for the Ku Klux Klan. In short, Sleepy Hollow, Southern style.
Just a few miles past the line for Pittsylvania County, we came to the intersection with Berry Hill Road and turned left. From where it begins at Riverside Drive, Berry Hill Road twists about seven-and-a-half-miles, generally heading southwest, until reaching the North Carolina state line, where its name changes to T. Clarence Stone Highway. In its relatively short stretch through Virginia, however, the road has a markedly distinct character, which became obvious to us almost immediately.
Near its start, a number of other roads lead off in either direction from Berry Hill Road: those to the north generally past older, modest, relatively small houses, and those to the south past larger, more affluent homes and farms. Soon after passing these, however, the road begins to run through dense woodland punctuated by miles-long stretches of devastated-looking blight, mostly on the south side of the road. Periodically, tucked back in the wood line, we could see abandoned, vegetation-choked farmsteads and rutted dirt roads (that probably don’t appear on any maps) twist away into the forest. Many were blocked by makeshift gates emblazoned with signs warning visitors away. To say that the area felt ominous and unwelcoming would be an understatement.
At the intersection with Oak Hill Road, we went north for awhile, and eventually came to a small country church, the first thing we had seen in several miles. We decided not to go any further at that point, and turned around. Approaching the intersection with Berry Hill Road again, we noticed at the side of the road the mangled carcass of a large animal, possibly a deer, with its exposed and bloody ribcage turned skyward.
We continued on Berry Hill Road, and soon after saw, at the left side of the road, a large rock painted with a white cross. Overhead, both in the air and perched on nearby utility poles and trees, an uncannily large number of vultures watched over the place and regarded us as we passed.
At the intersection with Stateline Bridge Road, just past a set of railroad tracks, we went south. We turned past a pickup truck stopped at the three-way stop that was turning onto Berry Hill Road, and I noticed the driver, a white guy with a mustache and baseball cap. As we moved down the road, I saw him make a U-turn and begin to follow us.
As we sped down the road, the creep in the pickup stayed behind us, and after about a mile we broke out of the wood line onto a low concrete span over a river. As we reached the other side of it, we passed a sign welcoming us to North Carolina, and the name of the road changed to Berry Hill Bridge Road. We went about another mile, until we reached an intersection near a farm where we could turn around, and as we did the pickup truck passed us and continued on its way.
Returning to the bridge from the other direction, I was stunned to see that it was completely covered with graffiti, something that while driving into the sun and keeping an eye on my rear-view mirror I had not noticed previously. Colie Walker had described “Satan’s Bridge” as being tagged (an urbanized term for “painted” that, when I explained it to my wife, both baffled and annoyed her). Its location corresponded exactly with the directions Walker had given us, and so it seemed we had found the cursed bridge.
Driving back across to the Virginia side, we went a few hundred yards to a spot where the road widened adequately for me to safely turn off and start to get my equipment ready for a walk back to the bridge. “I’m just going to wait in the car,” my wife said as I started to get out of the vehicle, repeating a mantra that for her was as automatic and unanalyzed as “bless you” would have been in response to a sneeze. The creep with the pickup was on the other side of the river and I would see if he was coming back, so I didn’t argue with her.
Heading toward the bridge along the left side of the road, I could see that the nearby woods were choked and tangled with heavy vine growth and had an almost quintessentially haunted look. I also had a growing sense of unease, and as I came nearer to the bridge I became increasingly aware of a sound like a howling wind, somewhere in the distance, that became more and more audible as I neared the span.
Walking out onto the sunlit bridge, I could hear a low, shrieking noise somewhere in the distance, like a wind ripping through the woods around me. Glancing at the wood line on either side of the river, I could see that it was perfectly still and could not feel so much as a light breeze. It sent a chill up my spine. It would have scared the hell out of me and made me feel like I was standing on the threshold to the netherworld if I’d been there at night, possibly alone, or under the influence.
I quickly walked to the far end of the bridge and, with the light at my back, got some photos. Most of the graffiti I passed seemed to be of the “X loves Y” and “Class of Z” variety, but there were a few pentagrams and devilish epithets mixed in with it. I also saw burnt-down candle stubs lying among the detritus of broken beer bottles on either side of the bridge. No one passed by during my time there, and I was completely alone as I looked down into the swirling ochre water of the Dan River and contemplated where the young man would have hanged himself if such an incident really had occurred here. The low, concrete bridge didn’t look like it would be very convenient for that purpose—and his dangling specter would not have been visible by anyone on or at either end of it—and I wondered if he might not have used one of the trees in the surrounding vine-choked forest. It would have been, in any event, a morose and dismal place to die.
My need and desire to stay at the bridge sated, I trotted back toward the car and we resumed our exploration of the area. Turning back onto Berry Hill Road and continuing southwest on it, we soon reached the point where it crossed the North Carolina state line. Almost immediately afterward, we heard a shrieking exactly like that of a jet engine, pulled over to the side of the road, and looked up, expecting to see an aircraft passing overhead and the noise to fade. There was nothing above us, however, and the noise remained steady for awhile longer before fading away.
We could see that the land across the road was fenced off and make out a small cluster of pipes and utility infrastructure. While we could not see anything that could have been making the great noise we heard, and while no signs offered an explanation for them or the fenced-off area from which they emanated, it seemed pretty obvious that we had stumbled onto some sort of industrial test facility—and that it had accounted for the distant noises I had heard at Satan’s Bridge (a later perusal of maps and satellite imagery, however, did not reveal anything of that nature in that particular area). This new mystery being far beyond our purview, and with the sinister aspect of the neighborhood starting to weigh on us, we decided to leave it unexamined.
Heading back up Berry Hill Road toward where we had started, we made a few more exploratory stops before reaching the highway. We never did see the willow tree Walker had told us about, and we weren’t sure of the exact location to try putting our car in neutral to see whether it would roll uphill. We saw so many dilapidated antebellum houses that we could not be certain which one was reputed to be the lair of the witch. But a couple of hours on Berry Hill Road were enough to convince us that there is probably a good reason for its reputation in the local area – and that we did not want to be lingering on it after dark.
Americas Haunted Road Trip will soon be headed for Victory of Light Expo, Cincinnati’s premier body, mind and spirit event – and with Thanksgiving just around the corner we are celebrating with a GIVEAWAY for all our fans. Scroll down for easy entry information.
Since its inception in 1992, Victory of Light, has established itself as one of the largest and longest-running metaphysical conventions for the general public in the country.
Americas Haunted Road Trip will be joining over 250 vendors. We will bring our entire collection of haunted road trip guide books including our latest addition Ghosthunting Oregon.
About Ghosthunting Oregon: Our latest book takes readers along a guided tour of some of the Beaver State’s most haunted historic locations. Author Donna Stewart invites you to accompany her as she explores each site, investigating eerie rooms and dark corners.
About the author: Donna Stewart is a noted paranormal researcher, radio host, writer, and founder of the nonprofit Southern Oregon Project Hope. With a lifelong interest in the paranormal, she has devoted more than 30 years to research, mentoring new investigators, and confounding the highly regarded paranormal research team Paranormal Studies and Investigations (PSI) of Oregon. She also hosts the long-running BlogTalkRadio Show PSI-FI Radio.
Come and visit us at booth # 622. Meet some of our authors, take advantage of incredible deals and enter our raffle for a chance to win one of our many awesome prices.
So join us November 22 & 23 at the Sharonville Convention Center for the 2014 Victory of Light Expo.
Victory of Light Expo is held Saturday November 22nd through Sunday November 23rd daily from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Sharonville Convention Center. For more information check out the Victory of Light Expo website.