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Haunted Holly Hotel

Historic Holly Hotel haunts staff and guests

Holly HotelThe historic Holly Hotel is said to be the single most haunted building in the state of Michigan. It has been written about in newspapers and magazines and has been featured on both local and national television. In 2009, it was the subject of an episode of the popular Travel Channel program The Most Terrifying Places in America. Numerous paranormal investigators have visited the Holly Hotel, including the Motor City Ghost Hunters, the Ghost Hunters of Southern Michigan, the Michigan Paranormal Research Association, and well-known parapsychologist Norman Gauthier, who concluded that the building was “loaded with spirits.”

Despite its name, the Holly Hotel is no longer an inn and does not accommodate overnight guests. However, the dining room remains a favorite spot for dinner, afternoon tea, and Sunday brunch. Dinner is served nightly, while a traditional Victorian-style high tea is served every day except for Sunday. The restaurant’s menu is an award-winning blend of traditional signature dishes, some of which have changed very little over the last century, and contemporary seasonal fare. In addition to being featured in magazines and on television for its ghosts, the Holly Hotel is known nationally for its fine cuisine.

The Holly Hotel suffered two major fires in its long history. The first occurred on January 19, 1913, and the second was 65 years later on January 19, 1878. Reports have it that both fires started at “exactly the same time, to the hour.”

Former owner most active ghost at Holly Hotel

In fact, the Holly Hotel has been the sighting of a number of apparitions over the years. One of the most frequently seen is believed to be the spirit of Nora Kane, a former hostess of the inn. Many guests claim to have seen her in the bar area and in the back hallway, which used to be the main entrance to the hotel.

The inn’s most famous ghost is probably former owner Mr. Hirst, who passed away in the 1920s, but who, many believe, has never let go of his hotel. He is reputed to be the most active—and most unhappy—when renovations have been made to the property. A myriad of other spirits are said to inhabit the 120-year-old building.

Helen Pattskyn visited the Holly Hotel and interviewed the staff and owner. Find out all about their ghostly tales in her book Ghosthunting Michigan.

The Life and Legend of Blackbeard’s Ghost

The Life and Legend of Blackbeard’s Ghost

By Kala Ambrose, author of Ghosthunting North Carolina

Ghosthunting North Carolina

Blackbeard the Pirate may be the most famous pirate ever known, and his legend, his legacy, and his ghost remain with us to this day. His proper name was Edward Teach. He gained the nickname of Blackbeard from his long mass of tousled black hair that whipped around his head, as well as his scruffy black beard. They gave him a dark, forbidding look, and it was reported at times that he would place lit fuses under his hat that would shower his face in sparks, in order to further intimidate and scare people.

He was ruthless as a pirate, but reports also state that no captive of his was ever injured or killed. Before his death in 1718, Blackbeard lived in several areas of North Carolina, including the villages of Bath and Beaufort. Blackbeard’s final battle was with Lieutenant Maynard of the British Navy on Ocracoke Island. Blackbeard fought valiantly with his sword but at the end was overtaken by the sheer numbers of Maynard’s crew. By the time he was taken down, he had been shot five times and stabbed more than 20 times.

Once he was confirmed dead, Lieutenant Maynard ordered that Blackbeard’s head be cut off and hung from the bow of Maynard’s ship. Blackbeard’s headless body was then thrown into the water near Ocracoke Island.

Reports of Blackbeard’s ghost began in the 1800s. Locals reported seeing and hearing an epic battle with ghostly ships and men waging war against each other near Bath Creek and the inlet. Massive balls of fire were also seen moving back and forth across the water toward the ships. Legends state that Blackbeard’s ghost most often appears right before a storm rages along the coast of Ocracoke, Bath, Albemarle, and Pamlico Sound. He seems drawn to the sea when the waves pick up and are thrashing, and some say he is looking for his head. There is often a light seen accompanying his ghost, which is referred to as Teach’s Light.

Blackbeard continues to roam the coast of North Carolina and is said to frequently visit the coastal towns where he once lived. On a dark stormy night, don’t be surprised if you run into the pirate walking along the coast.

About the author of Ghosthunting North Carolina: Award winning author, national columnist, inspirational speaker, and host of the Explore Your Spirit with Kala Radio and TV Show, Kala Ambrose’s teachings are described as discerning, empowering and inspiring. Whether she’s speaking with world-renowned experts on the Explore Your Spirit with Kala Show, writing about empowering lifestyle choices, reporting on new discoveries in the scientific and spiritual arenas or teaching to groups around the country, fans around the world tune in daily for her inspirational musings and lively thought-provoking conversations.

Haunted Indigo Hotel

 

Sounds of cannon fire heard in haunted historic Indigo Hotel

Haunted Indigo HotelThis historic hotel is located at what had once been the northwest corner of the Alamo compound, site of the bloodiest fighting when Mexican troops overran the mission and slaughtered its Texian defenders on March 6, 1836. Garrison commander William B. Travis was among those who fell here (the front desk being located at the spot where he was believed to have died), and the area was so packed with mangled bodies in the aftermath of the battle that the ground was said to have been saturated with blood.

In the years after the battle, Samuel Maverick, who left the besieged Alamo four days before it fell to serve as a delegate to the convention for Texas independence, built his home at this location. Then, in 1909, Southern Pacific Railroad executive Colonel C. C. Gibbs built the first skyscraper in San Antonio on the site. The Gibbs building still stands today and houses the beautiful Hotel Indigo San Antonio Downtown-Alamo.

Paranormal activity that people have claimed to experience at the hotel includes hearing the sounds of gun and cannon fire and the agonized wailing of wounded and dying men; seeing spectral figures moving a cannon along the adjacent streets; hearing strange voices and disembodied footsteps, particularly in the basement; seeing people getting on and off the historic and now out-of-service elevators; and witnessing figures in 19th-century clothing walking down the halls, entering rooms, and then disappearing.

Ready to check-in?
Hotel Indigo San Antonio Downtown-Alamo
105 N. Alamo St.
San Antonio, TX 78205
Tel: 210-933-2000
Website Hotel Indigo San Antonio Downtown- Alamo

For a journey to some of the most haunted and fascinating places in San Antonio, Austin, and the Texas Hill Country, check out Michael O. Varhola’s book Ghosthunting San Antonio, Austin, and Texas Hill Country.

The author at Ye Kendall Inn
The author at Ye Kendall Inn

About the author: Michael Varhola has authored or coauthored 34 books and games — including the swords-and-sorcery novel Swords of Kos: Necropolis and two fantasy writers guides. He has also published more than 120 games and related publications. He is the founder of the game company Skirmisher Publishing LLC, editor in chief of d-Infinity game magazine, and editor of the America’s Haunted Road Trip series of ghosthunting travel guides. He has edited, published, or written for numerous publications, including The New York Times. He also has an active online presence, notably through Facebook and a variety of other blogs, forums, and sites. He lives in the Texas Hill Country.

About the series: America’s Haunted Road Trip is a one-of-a-kind series of haunted travel guides. Each book profiles 30-100 haunted places that are open to the public. From inns and museums to cemeteries and theaters, the author visits each place, interviewing people who live and work there. Books also include travel instructions, maps, and an appendix of 50 more places the reader can visit.

Ghost Dogs of Orozimbo Plantation

Ghost Dogs spoil escape of Mexican President Santa Anna

Ghost Dogs
Antonio Lopez Santa Anna

The Battle of San Jacinto occurred on April 21, 1836, and lasted a mere 18 minutes. Sam Houston led the Texas army to fight Santa Anna, the president of Mexico, resulting in the loss of hundreds of men, only nine of which were Texas soldiers. San Jacinto was the victory that ended the Texas Revolution and secured Texas’ independence from Mexico. Santa Anna was caught dressed as a common soldier the day after the battle, and he was held prisoner at several plantations in the South while his captors negotiated his fate.

He was eventually transported to the Orozimbo Plantation on the Brazos River, less than a dozen miles north of West Columbia. A Mexican officer accompanied by several of his men made plans to advance on the plantation and free their president. The thick trees bordering the river provided an excellent cover as they advanced one stormy evening, taking advantage of the sound of the pouring rain  to conceal their approach to the farmhouse in which Santa Anna was held prisoner. Just as they were about to rush the guards, an eerie and unmistakable sound of howling dogs came quickly towards them, and the Mexican men were forced to retreat. Those keeping guard at the farmhouse went to investigate, but they found no animals in the area.

The howling dogs had been heard by many, yet no one could explain where they had come from, as they had not been seen. Speculation arose that they may have belonged to a man who went off to war and never came home, forever leaving his faithful friends to search for him.

It has been well over a century since Santa Anna was held at Orozimbo, yet stories of the phantom dogs never seem to fade away. In fact, many people still claim to hear the pack roaming through the dense jungle of trees near the property, letting out an eerie howl as they approach. While Santa Anna was eventually allowed to return to his country, the ghosts dogs are still—and might forever be— keeping watch over Orozimbo Plantation.

The Lone Star State is so vast it includes just about everything — including ghosts! For more haunted stories, check out April Slaughter’s book Ghosthunting Texas

Photo credit:
By Yinan Chen [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Ghost Hunting 101

Ghost Hunting 101 with L’Aura Hladik

L'Aura Hladik
L’Aura Hladik

For those new to the research of ghosts and the paranormal, here is a list of terms used frequently throughout this book and the paranormal research community.

Orb or Orbs—These appear as balls of white light that can be translucent or opaque. Sometimes they appear to have a hue or color, either red or blue. In most cases, orbs are determined to be the result of the digital camera taking a picture of dust, pollen, or an insect. In most cases, the orbs show up in pictures but are undetected by the photographer’s eye.

Ectoplasmic Mist or Vapor—This anomaly is an amorphous cloudy or smoky appearance in photos. This mist shows up in photos, even though the photographer doesn’t see any obstruction or interference when taking the photo.

Vortex (Vortices-pl.)—This anomaly appears as a tornado or funnel-shaped mist in photos.

Full Body Apparition—The ultimate capture for a paranormal investigator, full body apparitions can appear as solid as you and I or as a shadow or pile of dust in the form of a human. They can be seen with the human eye as well as in photographs.

EMF (Electromagnetic Field)—The device, an electromagnetic field strength meter, is used to track the EMFs during an investigation. It is theorized that a spirit or ghost will cause a fluctuation detected on the meter between 0.2 to 0.4 milligauss.

EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena)—Typically, the spirit or ghost’s voice is not heard with the human ear but is picked up by either digital or analog audio recorders. The movie White Noise dictated the accurate definition of EVP but instead portrayed ITC—Instrumental Transcommunication. (ITC—voices of the spirit world are supposedly captured by having one’s camcorder record the white noise displayed on one’s TV set.)

Residual Haunting—This is the effect of a traumatic or emotionally charged event leaving its mark in time so as to play itself over and over. Some residuals are audio only, some are video only, and some are both audio and video. Residual haunting is non-interactive with the living or the surroundings.

Ghosthunting New Jersey
Ghosthunting New Jersey

About the author:  L’Aura Hladik’s interest in the paranormal started in childhood and culminated with living in an actual haunted rental house when she was in the eighth grade. In 1993, she officially began hunting for ghosts; in 1998, she founded the New Jersey Ghost Hunters Society, which is the largest organization of its kind in the “Garden State.”

In addition to ghost hunting, writing about ghosts, and presenting her findings to schools and libraries over the years, she’s also appeared on the nationally syndicated talk show Montel Williams, as well as local cable shows and New Jersey’s own radio station, 101.5 FM.

L’Aura’s ghost research takes her beyond the borders of New Jersey to other states—even other countries, such as Ireland. Yet the “Jersey Girl” always comes home to her favorite haunt. One of L’Aura’s most prized possessions is her 1983 Cadillac Fleetwood, affectionately known as Jezzabelle.

L’Aura Hladik is the author of Ghosthunting New Jersey where you can find 34 tales about the scariest spots in the Garden State.

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Hotel Bethlehem

 

Hotel Bethlehem is full of ghostly activity

Hotel BethlehemOne of the biggest paranormal hot spots in Pennsylvania is in the Bethlehem area in the Lehigh Valley, and Hotel Bethlehem ranks as the number one ghost destination. Large, stately, and elegant, the hotel anchors the town’s historic district, steeped in the culture of the founding Moravians. It is full of ghostly activity.

The hotel teems with ghosts. Numerous guests report the same or similar experiences in certain rooms and areas. The hotel also is popular with paranormal investigators. Every hotel has its “most haunted” room or rooms; at the Hotel Bethlehem, the winner is Room 932. An apparition of a man appears at the bedside in the middle of the night. One couple described him as wearing an undershirt and boxer shorts. He vanished when they turned on the light. The couple was so unnerved that they checked out that night.

A woman staying in Room 932 went into the bathroom, turned on the light, and saw an entirely different room, one with pink wallpaper. Perhaps she saw a glimpse of the room as it had been in the past. Room 932 may be the hotel’s most famous haunted guest room, but many of the other rooms also have ghostly activity. Plumbing turns off and on without explanation, other apparitions are seen, phantom voices are heard, and objects are moved about.

Among the ghostly residents are several that stand out for their frequent appearances and details:

– Francis “Daddy” Thomas welcomed and attended to visitors who came to Bethlehem. He was known for his kindness and humor. His ghost has been sighted in the boiler room area.

– Mrs. Brong was an innkeeper of the old Eagle Hotel with her husband until they were fired by the Moravian Church in 1833. The Church officials were mortified by their unacceptable and outrageous behavior. Mr. Brong liked to get so drunk that he had to be laid out on a bench. Mrs. Brong shocked guests by going barefoot while she worked. Mr. Brong has not lingered, but Mrs. Brong is seen by staff and guests in the restaurant and kitchen, dressed in attire of the 1800s. Still defiant of the propriety of her era, she wears no shoes or stockings.

– Mary “May” Yohe was born at the old Eagle Hotel in 1866 and was still a child when she danced and sang for the hotel guests in the lobby. The Moravians sent her to Paris to learn opera. By 1888, she was famous on stage for her singing and dancing––and off stage for her torrid romances. During the 1890s, she went to England and fell in love with Lord Francis Clinton Hope, whom she married. Hope owned the infamous Hope Diamond, a large and rare blue diamond that was named for the family and reputed to be cursed. Mary often wore the gem. Did it doom her marriage? Something did, for May left Hope for an American soldier, who later turned the tables and left her. May’s ghost sings, and the player piano in the lounge frequently plays on its own. May is thought to be the ghost of a little girl seen in the exercise room on the third floor and also in the lobby.

Rosemary Ellen GuileyHotel Bethlehem is proud of its heritage, both historical and ghostly. Add to that its elegant ambience, finely appointed rooms, and superb dining, and you have an all-in-one haunted vacation.

For more about the history of Hotel Bethlehem and other haunted places in Pennsylvania, check out Ghosthunting Pennsylvania by Rosemary Ellen Guiley.

Trombone Tommy – Sounds from the Afterlife

Trombone Tommy continues playing, even after death

MoreHauntedHoosierTrailsA haunted railroad tunnel near Medora, between Medora and Fort Ritner, has a ghost not believed to be frightening but, instead, rather sad.

During the 1920s and 1930s, jobs were hard to find; often, a man would have to travel miles from home just to earn a meager living. In many instances, the unwitting vagrants were forced to become knights of the rails – hobos. Along the rails, these itinerants would set up camps where all of the knights were welcome to stay, bunk under the stars, and share cans of beans for as long as they wished.

One of these knights must have been a musician at one time, for he always traveled with his trombone. His companions dubbed him Trombone Tommy. People who lived in the area often talked about hearing him playing his trombone as he walked through the nearby railroad tunnel. One night, intent on playing, he evidently didn’t hear a freight train enter the tunnel, and he was killed.

On summer evenings, the town’s residents had heard Trombone Tommy’s music coming from the tunnel as they sat on their front porches cooling off from the hot summer’s sun. Though no one in the community knew him or had met him, they soon realized they missed him. His trombone was silent.

However, shortly after the accident, people began to hear the echoes of music coming from the direction of the tunnel. At first they were frightened, but then they accepted and enjoyed the music for what it was. Trombone Tommy was continuing to play for them, even after death.

Trombone TommyTrombone Tommy is one of the many stories told by Wanda Lou Willis in her book Haunted Hoosier Trails.

About the author: Wanda Lou Willis is a folklore historian who specializes in Hoosier folktales and historic research. She is a feature writer for the Indianapolis Star “Seniority Counts” section and regularly appears on WXIN-TV’s early-morning show. For more information check out her website.

 

John Dillinger Lives

 

Ghost of notorious gangster has been seen outside the Biograph Theater

Biograph TheaterJohn Dillinger Lives – Not the flesh-and-blood gangster, of course, but his ghost, who has been seen outside the place where Dillinger drew his last breath—the Biograph Theater on North Lincoln Avenue.

By the time Dillinger was gunned down by FBI agents on July 22, 1934, he had become Public Enemy No. 1, his notorious exploits ballyhooed in newspapers across the country on an almost daily basis. While much of the American public viewed Dillinger as something of a modern-day Robin Hood, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover had issued a “shoot to kill” order on the gangster as well as a $10,000 reward. Each of the five states in which Dillinger and his gang had robbed banks also offered $10,000 rewards.

In July 1934, Chicago police detective Martin Zarkovich approached Melvin Purvis, director of the Chicago office of the FBI and told him that he could deliver Dillinger. Zarkovich had a friend named Anna Sage, a whorehouse madam who was facing deportation to her native Romania, who he said could set up Dillinger if the FBI would halt her deportation proceedings.

John_Dillinger_full_mug_shotThe deal was struck. The evening of July 22 was a warm one. John Dillinger wore a lightweight coat with a white shirt, gray pants, canvas shoes, and his usual straw boater as he entered the Biograph Theater with his most recent girlfriend, Polly Hamilton Keele. Anna Sage, who wore a brilliant orange dress, accompanied the couple. The banner hanging below the Biograph’s illuminated marquee advertised that the theater was “cooled by refrigeration” so that its patrons could watch Manhattan Melodrama, starring Clark Gable, William Powell, and Myrna Loy, in comfort.

While the movie played, Purvis positioned his men in the streets outside the theater. He was nervous, chain-smoking cigarettes as he waited for the theatergoers to exit. At about 10:30, the house lights came up and the theater began to empty. As the crowd filed out, Purvis saw Anna Sage’s distinctive orange dress—the means by which they agreed to identify her, and thus, Dillinger—among the crowd. He signaled to his agents and the police to move in.

Dillinger stepped off the curb, just before the alley that ran alongside the theater. Alerted by something, he suddenly stopped and whirled around, apparently reaching for a gun hidden beneath his coat. The agents opened fire. Three bullets struck him. Dillinger staggered a few steps then fell to the pavement dead.

John KachubaThere are stories of people seeing a shadowy figure of a man running on the sidewalk, or heading for the alley. He runs, then staggers, then falls and disappears, almost as if reenacting the shooting over and over again. There are some who say the man killed at the Biograph Theater that night was not really John Dillinger, but that the FBI, embarrassed by the Little Bohemia debacle, could not admit yet another mistake and so covered up the truth. We may never know the truth, but what we do know is that a man was shot and killed that night and that his ghost relives that agony still.

In his book Ghosthunting Illinois, John Kachuba explores the scariest spots in the Prairie State.  He visited thirty-two legendary haunted places, all of which are open to the public – so you can test your own ghosthunting skills, if you dare.

Photo credits:
Biograph Theater © John Kachuba
John Dillinger: © By FBI [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Oaklea Mansion

Oaklea Mansion Bed & Breakfast in Winnsboro, TX

 

Oaklea MansionThe colonial-style home was originally built in 1903 by Mr. Marcus Dewitt Carlock, Sr. He was a successful attorney who had been involved in many political ventures, and often entertained the politically elite of the time. The Carlock home was recorded as a Texas Historical Landmark in 1966; a marker bearing a brief history of the house is proudly displayed beside the front door.

Current owner Norma Wilkinson was born and raised in Winnsboro, and knew the Carlock family prior to purchasing the home in 1996. Norma and her husband live in the home, but have also opened it to guests as the Oaklea Mansion Bed & Breakfast.

Many visitors to the mansion and its grounds have reported strange experiences during their stay, and paranormal teams have also investigated the home, finding that legitimate activity was indeed occurring there.

 

The author of Ghosthunting Texas, April Slaughter visited the Oaklea Mansion with her husband and stayed in the “English Rose” room, which was richly decorated in floral décor and had access to the balcony. After a few hours’ sleep, April’s husband Allen was jolted awake by the feeling of a hand gripping his left ankle. He sat up in bed and saw no one there, but maintains that someone or something had touched him. He waited for awhile, but sleep ultimately found him again and the remainder of the night was uneventfully peaceful.

Norma treated April and Allen to an elegant breakfast the next morning while they discussed their experiences from the night before. April and Allen wholeheartedly believed that they were not the only guests of the Oaklea Mansion. It is a lovely mansion and no real surprise if a member of the Carlock family regularly comes back to check on the home they once owned

The Lone Star State is so vast it includes just about everything — including ghosts! For more haunted stories check out April Slaughter’s book Ghosthunting Texas

 

The Ghost of Edgar Allan Poe

PoeHouse-BaltimoreLocated just eight blocks from where Edgar Allan Poe is buried at Westminster Hall and Burying Ground is, ironically, one of the many houses the author lived in over the course of his life. It was not, however, his home at the time he died in Baltimore in 1849 at the age of forty, as many people assume—possibly because of all the paranormal phenomena that have occurred at the site.

The author dwelled in this small, unassuming brick townhouse for just a couple of years, from March 1831 to October 1833, with his aunt, Maria Clemm, and her children, Henry and Virginia (whom he married in 1835, when she was thirteen and he was twenty-seven).

His stay there followed his discharge from the United States Military Academy at West Point and preceded his move to Richmond, Virginia, to work as a staff writer and critic for the Southern Literary Messenger, a periodical devoted largely to fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and reviews. While living in the Baltimore home, the author lived and wrote—possibly creating as many as a dozen published stories and poems—in a little top-floor room with a pitched ceiling.

In the early 1930s, the city of Baltimore planned to demolish the house as part of an urban clear-cutting campaign and to extend the almost tastelessly named “Poe Homes” housing project onto the site. The Edgar Allan Poe Society managed to obtain the property and opened it to the public in 1949.

Exhibits at the little museum include a lock of Poe’s hair; some china that once belonged to his guardian, John Allan; a reproduction of the portrait Poe painted of Virginia after she died in 1847;  a reprint of the 1849 obituary from the October 24, 1849 edition of the Philadelphia Dollar Newspaper; and Poe’s original announcement  about the creation of The Stylus, a literary magazine that never got off the ground.

Strange phenomena people have reported at the site include the sensation of someone tapping them on the shoulders, mysterious muttering voices, lights moving around in the house when no one was in it, inexplicable cold spots, windows flying open or slamming shut—and, in at least one case, a window falling out of its frame and smashing onto the floor.

Some people have, predictably, also claimed to see the ghost of Poe in this house—and perhaps part of his spirit does remain behind there residually, or visits periodically during its rounds to the many other sites where people have seen it. What even more people have claimed to see or otherwise sense, however, is a specter that many have described as a heavyset, middle-aged woman. Who she might be, however—and whether or not she has any connection to Poe—remains unclear, and further investigation would seem to be in order.

More haunted tales connected to Edgar Allen Poe are found in Ghosthunting Maryland by Michael Varhola.

Copyrights: By Midnightdreary (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons