The Old Jail Bed & Breakfast was, in fact, at one time a jail. The history of the property started much earlier than that, however. The original structure was actually a saloon built by the Schottmuller Brothers in 1869. The saloon building was connected to a cave, which ran to their brewery. The beer was brewed in their brewery and then was stored in the lower cave temperatures before being served to the men at the saloon.
In 1884, the area needed a jail, which was built directly adjacent to the saloon. Some people surmised that the reason for this was so that rowdy drunks could be more easily jailed for the night after causing a scene at the saloon.
After the building was used as a saloon, a variety of other businesses occupied the cave and the structure. At one time, the building was used as a mortuary, again utilizing the cool temperature of the cave for preservation purposes. In 1981, the buildings on the property, including both the jail and the old saloon, were converted in the bed & breakfast, which currently occupies the property.
As far as ghostly activity at this bed & breakfast, at least three ghosts have been experienced here. The first ghost is that of a cat. While there are no reports of anyone actually seeing a cat in the building, people sometimes report feeling a cat jump into their bed in the middle of the night. When the startled lodgers get up to look for the cat, they find there is no such creature anywhere.
The other ghosts, a young boy and an older woman, have been seen together in the building. Sightings of these ghosts are often preceded by a glowing orb of light. Sometimes, the ghosts actually speak. During at least one instance, the young boy was reported to say, “Don’t be afraid; we are here to watch over you.”
Just across the street from Viretta Park sits a house that once belonged to legendary grunge rocker Kurt Cobain of Nirvana. On April 8, 1994 Kurt Cobain took his own life. An employee discovered his body in the spare room above the garage. Some say his death may have been murder and not suicide.
It is believed that before his death Kurt spent most of his remaining days sitting on a bench just outside his house. Maybe that’s where he planned his last moments. Whether or not it’s true, people say that they can feel his presence near the bench. Others say they have seen him just sitting there, reliving his last few hours. Some have even reported feeling him breathe on them or touch them. In fact, there have been reports of his face appearing in the window of his former home, and the new owners say that during thunderstorms, they can hear whispers from the former rock star himself. If you visit the site, you’ll find a bench filled with flowers and cards and writings from fans who miss his inspirational talents.
The city parks department must replace the boards on the bench every so often due to the graffiti left by fans. One man believes he has obtained the original boards that Kurt himself sat on just before the tragic event. After collecting these boards and placing them on his property, the man immediately began encountering strange things. He felt a chilling breeze shoot right past him, as if someone had run by him. He’s heard odd noises and felt a presence, and he believes that Kurt’s spirit might be attached to these boards.
Many believe that the spirit of one who commits suicide remains earthbound, due to its troubled state of mind at the time of death. So perhaps Kurt’s ghost lingers as one of those hurting souls who may have regrets.
Ross Allison is the author ofSpooked in Seattle. In his book he takes readers on a hair-raising ride through Seattle’s neighborhoods. Ross is the founder of A.G.H.O.S.T., one of the oldest, active paranormal investigation teams in Washington State.
The Ghosts of Wrigley Field
Told by Jeff Morris and Vince Sheilds
Directions From the center of Chicago, take I-90 West for 2.5 miles to Exit 48A, the Armitage Avenue exit. Turn sharply right onto West Armitage Avenue, then take your second left onto North Ashland Avenue. Follow Ashland for 2 miles before turning right onto West Addison Street. Wrigley Field will be on your left after a little more than 0.5 mile. The address is 1060 West Addison Street, Chicago, Illinois 60613.
History Slightly more than a month before being elected President of the United States, democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt sat in the stands at Wrigley Field. It was game three of the 1932 World Series. It was the top of the fifth inning. After having fallen behind 3-0 in the first inning, the home team, the Chicago Cubs, had fought back to tie the game at 4. Charlie Root was on the mound as Yankees slugger Babe Ruth stepped up to the plate.
Ruth opted not to swing at the first pitch, and the ball caught the strike zone, smacking the catcher’s mitt. The stadium erupted into applause and taunts extended from the Cubs’ bench. The next two pitches missed the zone, then the fourth pitch again caught the zone, causing the stadium to erupt into cheers. The count was 2-2. Then, something unheard of happened. Only in baseball—where the rules never change, and a game played in 1932 could be the same game played today—could a story like this be passed down from generation to generation without becoming antiquated. As Root prepared to pitch, Ruth extended the index finger on his right hand and pointed toward center field. Root delivered. Ruth swung and connected. Few who were present that day or who heard about the hit would dispute that, as the ball sailed over the center field wall, it was the stuff of legend. Despite how audacious or pretentious calling his home run might have been, Babe Ruth is, and will always be, remembered for that incident.
The Cubs were swept in that series. And it wouldn’t be the last World Series they would lose. As any Cubs fan knows, the team holds the record for the longest losing streak between world championship wins in the world of professional sports. They have not won a World Series since 1908. They have never won a World Series since they moved to Wrigley Field in 1916, two years after it was built. In Chicago, though, this doesn’t matter. Once a Cubs fan, always a Cubs fan. Even though the Cubs haven’t won the championship for more than 100 years, they will always have their fans. The fans are there through the good times and the bad, through the legendary moments and the quiet seasons that fade into history. They stand by their Cubs in the oldest stadium in the National League and the second-oldest stadium in professional baseball, Wrigley Field. Some of the greatest fans, such as announcer Harry Caray, songwriter Steve Goodman, and player-manager Charlie Grimm, have likely remained here after their deaths.
Ghost Story Three famous ghosts are said to haunt Wrigley Field. The first is that of legendary announcer Harry Caray. The ghost of Harry Caray most famously haunts the press box and the adjacent bleachers at the stadium. Most people who experience Caray’s ghost report an unexplainable feeling and a presence they cannot see. Others report strange mists that they attribute to Caray’s ghost.
The next ghost is that of songwriter Steve Goodman, who not only wrote many songs about his beloved Cubs, but also had his ashes scattered at Wrigley Field when he died from leukemia in 1984, at the age of 36. People sometimes report seeing the ghost of Steve Goodman sitting in the seats behind home plate, watching the Cubs play on even after death.
The third ghost is Charlie Grimm, the manager who led the Cubs to the 1932 World Series. Security officers roaming the ballpark after dark have reported hearing the phone in the bullpen ring on its own accord. Guards have also reported hearing their names called by an unseen entity and have actually seen a figure resembling Grimm walking through the park or its hallways. They attribute the bullpen phone and the name-calling to Grimm because his ashes live on in this place. They are supposedly housed in a private box in left center field.
Visiting While the best time to visit a ballpark is always on game day, Wrigley Field also offers guided tours throughout baseball season, during which you can visit places that the public is not often able to go. Regardless of when you go, it is well worth a trip to this legendary site. Wherever you sit, you may experience the ghosts of any of the Cubs fans who have passed through this park over the last 100 years.
For 99 ghostly places you can visit in and around the Windy City, check out the Chicago Haunted Handbookby Jeff Morris and Vince Sheilds.
Wrigley Field: Derek Kaczmarczyk from Naperville, US [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Steve Goodman: By David Gans [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Charlie Grimm Card: By Goudey [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Harry Caray: [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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.
Sounds of cannon fire heard in haunted historic Indigo Hotel
This 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.
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 spoil escape of Mexican President 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 bookGhosthunting Texas.
By Yinan Chen [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Trombone Tommy continues playing, even after death
A 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.
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.
Ghost of notorious gangster has been seen outside the Biograph Theater
John 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.
The 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.
There 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.
Located 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.
Rosemary Ellen Guiley talks to us about the Ectoplasmic Ghost phenomena
Many haunted locations have albums of photographs taken on premises by visitors. Some of them show cloudy mists that weave around the objects in the photos. The mists may look like fog or smog, or uneven layers and streams of smoke. Ghost enthusiasts call this phenomenon ectoplasm or “ecto” for short. When it shows up in a photograph, they say, it reveals a ghost or spirit. Is ecto really paranormal or a case of mistaken identity?
Whether or not ectoplasm is a genuine substance, belief in it persists, perhaps due in part to the popularity of the 1982 film Ghostbusters. The origins of ectoplasm date to the nineteenth century when Spiritualism and séances were all the rage. The word was coined in 1894 by a French researcher, Charles Richet, who combined two Greek words, ektos and plasma, to mean “exteriorized substance.” Richet used it to describe a weird third arm that oozed out of the noses, mouths, ears, and other body orifices of mediums during trance states. Supposedly, ectoplasm was used by spirits to materialize bodies in the physical world.
Ectoplasm was warm to the touch and smelly. It ranged in texture, such as dough, rubber, cotton, muslin, gauze, and froth. It would come out in shapeless masses, or form into ghostly hands and feet, as well as other parts of a spirit “body.” Sometimes ectoplasm seemed more like a vapor or smoke.
Sometimes the “ecto” turned out to be soap, gelatin or egg white
From its beginnings, ectoplasm was controversial, and was uncovered as fraudulent in some cases. Sometimes the “ecto” turned out to be nothing more than soap, gelatin, and egg white. Researchers tested mediums by forcing them to drink blueberry juice or dyes, in case they had secreted cotton or linen in their stomachs to regurgitate. Other mediums performed séances in the nude to prove that they were not faking it. Research of ectoplasm ended for the most part by the mid-twentieth century with the jury out on whether or not it is a genuine spirit manifestation.
The latest twist of ecto has emerged in photography, especially images taken with digital cameras in haunted locations. Those white mists usually have a natural explanation; the camera has captured humid moisture in the air that is invisible to the human eye but is illuminated by a camera flash. Sometimes cigarette smoke is the culprit. Nearly invisible wisps of smoke can linger in the air long after a cigarette has been extinguished.
So, most ecto or ghost mist photos probably have natural explanations. Some photos, however, do defy explanation, keeping the debate going and the intrigue high.
Rosemary Ellen Guiley is the author of Ghosthunting Pennsylvaniais a renowned expert on paranormal, visionary, and spiritual topics.