CITIES IN AMERICA
1. San Diego
SD's Whaley House is so haunted, it's been made official by the state.
2. Washington, DC
Appearing nightly in the Lincoln Bedroom: Honest Abe himself!
3. New Orleans
Scary: Some Big Easy spirits even do their haunting in French.
Our Founding Fathers still roam the cobblestone streets in Philly.
5. Los Angeles
LA's Queen Mary is the most haunted ship in America.
6. New York
Gotham's peg-legged first mayor still limps through his old 'hood.
Revolutionaries abound, and witch-trial victims spook nearby Salem.
8. Las Vegas
It's a party when Elvis and dead mobsters return to hit the slots.
If the words 'Devil Baby' creep you out, you may want to skip Chicago.
Howls erupt from an old mine and stolen cadavers return for revenge.
...he took 15 agonizing minutes to die as he struggled at the end of the rope...
The Whaley House
Yankee Jim was a San Diego boat thief who was hung in 1852. His executioners were a might clumsy -- he took 15 agonizing minutes to die as he struggled at the end of the rope. In 1857, Thomas Whaley built Whaley House at the hanging site for his bride Anna Eloise. As the young family grew it was haunted by Yankee Jim's ghost -- seems Yankee Jim was still angry over his inhumane death and would stomp about loudly to show his displeasure. Now a historical landmark, a host of ghosts have joined Yankee Jim in the haunting of Whaley House: spectral cats nap on chair cushions; cradles are rocked by unseen hands; windows open and close of their own accord; the ghostly laughter of long dead children is heard in the halls. Watching over all the comings and goings in the house is a phantom Anna Eloise Whaley herself, wandering about with a candle in her hand, checking the locks and windows for all eternity.
Source: Guiley, R.E. The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits. Roundhouse Publishing Ltd., 1992.
...the suicidal poetess wrote of being "hurled ... out of this world"...
The Whaley Skeleton
Afraid that your skeletons in the closet will be revealed? It's said that the Whaley House in Old Town also has a skeleton that dates back to 1885. It's rumored that this skeleton is the ghost of Violet Whaley, a young poetess who took her life -- with a shot to the heart -- at age 22. The lovestruck Violet had married at the age of 19 against the wishes of her parents; the marriage ended but a few weeks later, sending her back to her family in shame. A newspaper article about Violet's death described her ex-husband, who her parents strongly disapproved of, as "a worthless fellow" who lived under several aliases and was known to be a swindler. The marriage and its failure sent Violet into a depression, one which inspired her to write poems about how she'd be "Glad to be hurled/Anywhere, anywhere/Out of this world." Yet despite her suicide, her specter remains.
Source: Rule, Leslie. "Coast to Coast Ghosts: True Stories of Hauntings Across America." Andrews McMeel, Kansas City. 2001.
...Campbell lost his footing and fell 100 feet to the deck...
The Star Of India
The world's oldest active iron-hull sailing ship, the Star of India is currently docked in San Diego. The ship's illustrious history has given way to not a few reports of it being haunted. Smells of baking bread come from the ship's galley, even though it has long been closed; chills are often felt near the chain locker located toward the bow of the ship. But the ship's most tragic haunting is also one of its most chilling. In 1884, the teenage stowaway John Campbell was discovered on the ship. He was immediately put to work. While climbing the ship's high rigging, Campbell lost his footing and fell 100 feet to the deck. Both his legs were crushed by the fall, and he lived an agonizing 3 days before finally succumbing to his injuries. He was buried at sea. Visitors sometimes report feeling his cold hand on them when they near the site of this tragedy.
Most of these wraiths seem benign, but there is an ominous and ghostly black cat...
The White House
The White House has a whole host of ghostly inhabitants from our nation's past. Abigail Adams is seen wandering about and folding spectral laundry, William Henry Harrison haunts the attic (he was the first President to die in office) and Andrew Jackson liked his bed in the Rose Bedroom so much that he still sleeps there. The most well-known dearly departed denizen, Honest Abe, appears often to the staff and guests wandering in and about the Lincoln Bedroom. Most of these wraiths seem benign, but there is an ominous and ghostly black cat that is said to appear in the basement on the eve of national tragedies -- such as the fall of the stock market and the assassination of JFK.
One of the most curious ghost stories to come from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue involves, believe it or not, landscaping. First Lady Ellen Louise Axson Wilson, during her husband Woodrow Wilson's term, had wanted to tear down the famous rose garden, home to many press conferences today. Dolley Madison, the wife of James, had planted the garden, and workmen sent in to take their hoes to the ground were stopped in the middle of their tracks by her enraged ghost. The workers' tales of this hair-raising experience have preserved the rose garden better than spring rain. So many spectres -- surely this warrants an independent counsel!
Sources: http://theshadowlands.net/places/dc; Blackman, W. Haden. 'The Field Guide to North American Hauntings.' Three Rivers, 1998.
...he did not die; he instead spent the remainder of his days in an asylum...
Located near Lafayette Square, 8 Jackson Place was built at the same time as the White House. Maj. Henry Rathbone, who lived there, was sitting next to Abraham Lincoln on the ill-fated night he died; John Wilkes Booth stabbed Rathbone in the head and neck while making his getaway. Rathbone survived the attack, but he never fully regained his mental faculties. Eighteen years after the attack, he killed his wife and then tried to kill himself in what was apparently supposed to be a murder-suicide. But he did not die; he instead spent the remainder of his days in an asylum. From time to time, people have reported his cries coming in the house, no doubt coming from a longing to return to the happy years before the attack by Booth.
Source: Rule, Leslie. 'Coast to Coast Ghosts: True Stories of Hauntings Across America.' Andrews McMeel, 2001.
..the ghost still causes a stir on opening nights... .
Opening Night Jitters?
It's said that the National Theater is haunted by one of the men who graced its stage -- and he's even got a fan following him around. John McCullough was a popular actor during the late 19th century, often winning plum roles over other area thespians. One night, a backstage argument between McCullough and a less-renowned actor over his being cast in the lead role of a play turned violent. A gun was drawn, and McCullough was shot and killed. His ghost is said to be friendly, but it still causes a stir on opening nights. In an odd twist, another ghost haunting the theatre named Eddie is there precisely because of his admiration of McCullough.
The graves are bedecked with tributes from the faithful...
Marie Laveau & Marie II, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1
Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau believed in keeping it all in the family. Her daughter, Marie Deux, followed in her mother's sinister footsteps. They were not content to dabble in the love charms and gris-gris magic of lesser Voodoo queens. Their repertoire included political corruption, sexual intrigue, murder and brothel management. Wealthy young Creole gentlemen could make political contacts, hurry a robust wealthy relative to their death and wallow in the fleshly pleasures of beautiful quadroons -- all at the Maries' Maison Blanche on North Rampart street. One stop shopping, indeed. You'll find both priestesses are buried in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, where the graves are bedecked with tributes from the faithful -- they leave flowers, money and food in return for the Maries' ghostly help in affairs of the heart. Their ghosts haunt New Orleans to this day, floating down St. Anne's St. in flowing robes.
Source: Guiley, R.E. The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits. Roundhouse Publishing Ltd., 1992.
The leader and his army materialize in full Confederate regalia...
Beauregard-Keyes House Hauntings
General Pierre Gustave Toutant de Beauregard's soldiers are, if anything, loyal. In fact, they'll fight the Battle of Shiloh before their general time and time again. Beauregard's French Quarter house, built in 1812 on Chartres Street, was the home of the Confederate military leader until 1869. Under his command, the South began the shelling of Fort Sumter, igniting the Civil War. He also led his troops at Shiloh, a bloody battle in Tennessee that ended in tens of thousands of casualties. Some say that at 2AM, the ghosts of Beauregard and his troops reenact the Battle of Shiloh in the hallway of the house, just outside the main ballroom. The leader and his army initially materialize in full Confederate regalia before the toll of the battle leaves them tattered and bloody.
Source: Hauck, Dennis William. 'Haunted Places: The National Directory.' Penguin Books, 2002.
...seven other slaves were attached to torture devices...
Delphine Lalaurie seemed like the perfect woman. She was beautiful, wealthy and appeared to be filled with charm. But Lalaurie would chain her slaves in the attic, where she would have them tortured. In 1833, a year after Lalaurie's house was built, a young slave girl escaped but was cornered on the roof by Delphine. According to witnesses, the woman beat the girl with a whip until the girl jumped off the roof - to her death. Lalaurie hid the girl's corpse in a well, but police followed a tip from a neighbor and found the body. For the crime, she was given a fine and forced to sell her remaining slaves. But friends and sympathizers won the slaves back at the auction and gave them back to Dame Lalaurie. But she never changed. In April 1834 a slave cook set the kitchen on fire because he couldn't take any more of her abuse. Firefighters who extinguished the fire found the cook chained to the floor before discovering seven other slaves attached to various torture devices in the attic. This time around, Lalaurie was run out of town and she moved to France, where she died on a hunting expedition years later. By the turn of the century, the Royal Street house had been converted into an apartment complex. Tenants have said they've seen the visages of Lalaurie and her slaves. The ghosts can also be heard, including the sounds of chains dragged down the stairs, cries from the fountain and screams from the attic. And even when outside, passersby hear whispers of 'la maison est hantée'-- the house is haunted.
Source: Hauck, Dennis William. 'Haunted Places: The National Directory.' Penguin Books, 2002.
Ectoplasm has been known to ooze from doorframes...
Thomas Jefferson at Baleroy House
Baleroy House hosts a number of guests from beyond the grave. Thomas Jefferson is known to appear in the dining room and upstairs a kindly monk in a brown habit wanders the bedrooms. Ectoplasm has been known to ooze from doorframes and a grouchy old lady ghost has swatted visitors with her cane -- not all ghosts are friendly. The Blue Room is host to Amelia, a malevolent spirit who is quite possessive of a 200-year-old wing chair. Anyone who sits in it soon dies -- four deaths have already been attributed to this curse. Baleroy House is open to the public ... we suggest that you stay on your feet during your tour.
Source: Hauck, Dennis. 'Haunted Places: The National Directory.' Viking Press, 1994.
...ghosts of Civil War-era soldiers have allegedly taken refuge on the island...
Pea Patch Island
Fort Delaware is located on Pea Patch Island, right in the middle of the Delaware River. About 12,000 prisoners were held in the fortress during the Civil War. Today it is a state park, located near a bird sanctuary that houses herons and egrets. But some allege that birds aren't the only things causing a buzz around the island; ghosts of Civil War-era soldiers have allegedly taken refuge on the island. And to add to the apparitions, park ranger Roby Armstrong saw one night on her rounds a silk-wearing pirate standing in the window of the massive structure. As it turns out, this area on the Delaware River once swarmed with pirates that terrorized area residents; a 1933 newspaper article went so far as to posit that the nearby city of Blackbird was, in fact, named after the infamous Blackbeard, who had settled in Philadelphia during the 18th century. Could Blackbeard be keeping an otherworldly eye on his treasure? The birds might be the only ones who know for sure ...
Source: Rule, Leslie. 'Coast to Coast Ghosts: True Stories of Hauntings Across America.' Andrews McMeel, Kansas City. 2001.
...solitary-confinement cells and thirty-foot-high walls...
Eastern State Penitentiary was famous not only for being a massive, expensive structure that pledged to rehabilitate lawbreakers through "confinement in solitude with labor," it was famous for the criminals it held within its walls. Al Capone, Willie Sutton and Pep the Cat-Murdering Dog were among its more notorious inmates. The prison was closed down in 1970, its electrical and mechanical systems a shambles. The huge stone hulk, with its solitary-confinement cells and thirty-foot-high walls, is allegedly teeming with caged spirits who are after many years waiting to get out. Watching over these imprisoned spirits is the apparition of a guard, who has been seen in the prison's high guard tower late at night.
Sources: http://www.theshadowlands.net/, http://www.easternstate.org/
...Wallace dissected the body and boiled
the parts in a large iron kettle...
Boiled to the Bone
Revolutionary war general 'Mad' Anthony Wayne died in late 1796, at the age of 51. It's said that, had he stayed alive, he would have most likely made a credible run for the presidency. At his request he was buried in a plain oak coffin near Erie. Thirteen years after Wayne's death, his son Isaac decided to move his father's body to the family's burial plot at St. David's Church in Radnor. Wayne's body was so remarkably preserved -- with little decay, except in the lower portion of one leg -- that it was decided impractical to reduce the body to small packages that would fit into the back of the sulky. With Isaac Wayne's permission, Wallace dissected the body and boiled the parts in a large iron kettle to render the flesh from the bones. Isaac Wayne took the cleaned skeleton back home in the sulky. The rendered flesh and the knives used in the operation were replaced in the original coffin and reinterred in the old grave. Every year, it's said, Wayne's ghost rises up from his family's plot, searching for his flesh.
Source: Oral history
...from women in period bathing-suits materializing near the pool where they drowned to the ghostly screams of the ship's cook...
Forty-nine people have died on the Queen Mary since it first set sail in 1936 -- not quite a Titanic total, but enough to lend credence to rumors of several ghosts inhabiting the dry-docked ship in its Long Beach berth. Visitors and staff have reported various sightings throughout the oceanliner's decks. To wit: women in period bathing suits allegedly materialize near the pool where they drowned. Some people say they have heard the ghostly screams of the ship's cook, who burned to death in the kitchen during WWII -- when the troops on board rioted against his vile cooking and stuffed him in an oven! Numerous other spectres have been noted by witnesses, along with strange noises, objects floating through the air and dancing spheres of light. Though the Queen Mary is on inactive duty now, it seems the spirits within are most definitely not.
Source: Myers, Arthur. 'The Ghostly Register.' Dorset Press, 1986.
...three spirits linger here to this very day...
Ghosts of the Stagecoach Inn
Located ninety minutes north of Los Angeles in Newbury Park, the Stagecoach Inn served as a resting place for tired travelers on the Butterfield to St. Louis stagecoach run. Built in 1876, the Stagecoach saw her share of violence and tragedy; Pierre Devon, an itinerant mountain man, was brutally murdered in one of the upstairs bedrooms. A little boy, staying at the hotel with his parents, wandered away into the hill nearby and vanished without a trace. A beautiful woman was abandoned here, left by an angry lover. She took her own life.
These three spirits linger here to this very day... Pierre Devin is credited with small physical disturbances and cold spots on the stairway, the little boy wanders the hotel calling for his family and the lovely lady appears, only to disappear in a waft of perfume. By all accounts the ghosts are benign and don't seek to disturb anyone... they just seem to be looking for the happy days before their unfortunate deaths.
Sources: Blackman, W. Haden. 'The Field Guide to North American Hauntings.' Three Rivers Press, 1998; www.thespiritreal.com.
Marilyn Monroe appears as voluptuous and lovely as ever...
Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel Hauntings
Built in 1927, the sparkling white Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel has hosted Tinseltown luminaries galore: Clark Gable and Carole Lombard stayed in the penthouse suite, Errol Flynn whipped up his ''famous'' gin recipe in the back of the hotel barber shop, Shirley Temple learned to dance from Bill ''Bojangles'' Robinson on the hotel stairway, Marilyn Monroe posed for photos on the pool's diving board... Indeed, the very first (and shortest) Academy Awards were held here in the Blossom Room.
Several stars evidently liked their stay so much that they return from beyond the grave to enjoy the Hollywood Roosevelt's hospitality again and again. Marilyn Monroe appears -- as voluptuous and lovely as ever -- in the full-length mirror that once hung in her suite; the mirror is now next to the elevator in the lower level. Montgomery Clift lingers in suite no. 928: during the filming of ''From Here to Eternity'' Clift would pace up and down while reciting his lines and playing a trumpet. His ghost continues to do so, and seems to have the rather bad habit of leaving the phone off the hook.
...every so often the man would appear to
sadly survey his surroundings...
Harry Houdini's Home
Harry Houdini, the son of a simple rabbi who would grow up into the man whose very name would embody the meaning of ''magic'' wanted to believe. He wanted to believe that the soul was transcendent, that humans could pull back the veil of death and communicate with lost loved ones, he wanted to believe that death wasn't an ending -- but a beginning. He was so dedicated to that end that he spent a significant amount of his adult life (when not escaping from locked trunks and straightjackets while suspended upside-down in a tank of water) debunking fraudulent mediums and spiritualists in an attempt to root out an authentic medium that could put him in contact with his beloved deceased mother. A Hollywood entrepreneur, Houdini bought a home in Laurel Canyon -- a lavish gothic castle which was the site of a murder just a few years before: the gay heir to a major furniture fortune had thrown his lover off of his balcony. The house suited Houdini, and soon became the place of frequent séances and other spiritual experimentation.
Houdini would die on Halloween in 1926; soon afterward, reports of a man of melancholy demeanor appearing on the house staircases or out in the garden grotto began to occur on a regular basis. Decades would go by, and still every so often the man would appear to sadly survey his surrounding before fading away. In 1959 a brushfire raged through Laurel Canyon, destroying the house... but the magician's wraith is said to still appear among the ruins of the foundation and gardens.
Source: Guiley, R.E. 'The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits.' Roundhouse Publishing Ltd., 1992.
It's said that Stuyvesant's ghost restlessly strolls The Bowery.
St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery
New York's first mayor, Peter Stuyvesant, built the first church on this site in 1672 and was laid to rest here in a simple vault. One hundred years later the church was torn down and another built in its place. Since then, it's said that Stuyvesant's ghost restlessly strolls the neighborhood. Disturbed by the demolition and rebuilding of his resting place, he stumps along on his wooden leg. His favorite haunt is along Stuyvesant St. toward Cooper Square. He's been sighted more frequently in the last year -- perhaps he's thinking of running for mayor again, or perhaps even senator.
Source: 'Hauck, Dennis. 'Haunted Places: The National Directory.' Viking Press, 1994
Burr appears in a ruffled shirt and is described as having piercing eyes...
Haunting of Aaron Burr
Greenwich Village is home to Quantum Leap Natural Food, a good vegetarian joint that caters to health conscious folks... and the melancholy ghost of Aaron Burr.
In the early 19th century, politician Aaron Burr owned the property and the Quantum Leap Café resides in what had once been his stables. Burr's life was marked by tragic circumstance. A presidential hopeful, he dueled fairly with Alexander Hamilton, who died; though Burr was acquitted of any wrongdoing, his reputation was forever tainted. Worse, Burr's beloved daughter Theodosia set sail from Georgetown to New York City... and her ship just disappeared. No trace was ever found of the vessel, but it's been long held that a storm blew the ship off course into the Devil's Triangle.
Burr haunts the Quantum Leap Café -- not because of a supernatural hankering for tofu, but perhaps in search of his shattered dreams, his lost reputation and his missing daughter. He's said to appear in a ruffled shirt and is described as having piercing dark eyes, his spectral form cloaked in an air of inexpressible sorrow and regret.
Sources: Blackman, W. Haden. 'The Field Guide to North American Hauntings.' Three Rivers Press, 1998; www.phantomfinders.com.
... they can still be heard in a fight that ends with bloodcurdling screams...
Ghosts of the Conference House
Built in the early 1600s and once known as the Bently Mansion, the Conference House has a long history of conflict, tragedy and death. Early settlers of the area on Staten Island were slaughtered by hostile Native Americans; the souls of the murdered are said to still wander these grounds late at night. For reasons known only to him, the House's original owner, Captain Billop, abandoned his fianceé just a few short days before their wedding; she died of grief shortly after, but her piteous weeping can still be heard in rooms she was known to frequent. A descendant of the good Captain is said to have murdered a servant girl (his lover, perhaps?) during an argument -- at night it's said that they can still be heard engaged in a fight that culminates with a woman's bloodcurdling screams followed by deathly silence. During the Revolutionary War British forces occupied the House. The bodies of soldiers who died of disease or in skirmishes are said to be buried in unmarked graves in the cellar. Visitors to this subterranean resting place claim feelings of tremendous anxiety and dread.
Source: Blackman, W. Haden. 'The Field Guide to North American Hauntings.' Three Rivers Press, 1998.
... he sits at his favorite corner table nursing a drink...
Dylan Thomas and the White Horse Tavern
Poet Dylan Thomas' tortured soul lingers at the White Horse Tavern in Greenwich Village. One evening, during his fourth tour of the United States, Dylan popped in for a whiskey... actually, 19 straight whiskeys. His final words are said to have been ''I've had 19 straight whiskies. I believe that's the record.'' Thomas expired late in a local hospital of complications due to alcohol poisoning. Go figure.
Today the White Horse Tavern has an entire room devoted to Thomas, complete with portraits of the fubsy-faced poet. Thomas himself manifests a presence from time to time: he sits at his favorite corner table nursing a drink (whiskey, of course) or, when in a frisky mood, spins the table just as he was wont to do in life.
Sources: www.nycgoth.com; The Small Press Center, www.smallpress.org.
...bodies can be seen swaying from ghostly gallows...
Salem Witch Trial Hangings
The Salem Witch Trials of 1692 began with the hysterical declamations of several girls -- claiming that their sudden bizarre behavior (profane exclamation, screaming as if being tortured) was the work of local witches. A firestorm of accusations swept through the village, and within a year the Salem courts had executed 19 alleged witches and pressed to death a man who refused to acknowledge or refute the charges. Another woman would die in prison while awaiting trial. Save one, all the executions were carried out by hanging on Gallows Hill. This site, near Salem Hospital, teems with the ghosts of the sad folks who were so unjustly accused centuries ago; some bodies can be seen swaying from ghostly gallows while other apparitions wander about as if confused. The Old Jail rings with the cries of Giles Corey (the man who died by 'pressing' -- large rocks were piled upon his chest to compel him to confess) while at the Witch House, the former abode of one of the trial judges, women in 17th peasant garb can be often seen peeking out of the windows.
Not all restless spirits are from Salem's dark past -- the nearby modern Salem Hospital (overlooking Gallows Hill) is also home to a tragic spirit: in the late 1980s a woman died in childbirth; doctors, nurses and patients report seeing her in the delivery room and halls, searching for her baby.
Sources: Blackman, W. Haden. 'The Field Guide to North American Hauntings.' Three Rivers Press, 1998; Boyer, Paul. 'Salem Witchcraft Trials,' World Book Online Americas Edition; 'The Haunted Dawghouse,' http://dawghouse.topcities.com.
...the ghost shows a preference for rocking chairs...
The Jared Coffin House
Prosperous Nantucket shipbuilder Jared Coffin had this dream house built for his bride in 1845; but the fickle female felt that the home was much too far from the Boston high society to which she aspired. So the home was placed on the market and the family moved to Beantown. Barely a year later, Nantucket's Great Fire burned through town; the Coffin house's stalwart brick walls and slate roof wouldn't burn and assisted in curtailing the catastrophic blaze.
The house has changed several times, undergoing expansion and renovations. It's served as a hotel and inn, entering the purview of the Nantucket Historic Trust during the 1960s and resold into private ownership during the 1970s; but the house retains an authentic air. Authenticity is important -- particularly to original owner Jared Coffin: he so appreciates the attention to accurate 19th century details that his spirit has returned to the home he built with such pride. Mr. Coffin's ghost shows a preference for rocking chairs, and is usually sighted rocking slowly... as if savoring his surroundings. Note that the macabre name 'Coffin' is prominent on Nantucket -- the family has a long history on the island. The Jethro Coffin House is considered to be the 'oldest' on the island. Older and more modest than the Jared Coffin House, it also is reported to be haunted.
Sources: Blackman, W. Haden. 'The Field Guide to North American Hauntings.' Three Rivers Press, 1998; www.phantomfinders.com.
Public hangings were held here until 1817...
Ghosts on the Green
Together, the Boston Public Gardens and Boston Common represent one of the oldest public spaces in the United States -- accordingly, the verdant space in the center of Boston has quite a history. Public hangings were held here until 1817, and cattle grazed the Commons into the 1830s. In these modern days the grounds are a lovely respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life... hardly the kind of place one might encounter ghosts -- but ghosts do indeed haunt the paths and benches.
The spirits of two women are often seen, seemingly elderly, genteel in dress and behavior. They're dressed in crisp white dresses in the mode of the 1830s, suggesting two devoted companions (sisters, perhaps?) out for a leisurely summer stroll. It's thought that they might have once been guests at the nearby Ritz Carlton -- the posh hotel overlooks the Gardens. The women walk together with arms linked or settle on a bench to watch the world go by. They smile pleasantly at passersby, seemingly oblivious that they themselves are no longer of this world. It's suggested by veteran ghost hunters that, should this refined twosome be encountered, discreet manners and polite behavior ought to be employed... these happy spirits are not aware that they are dead, and would be most shocked if so informed.
Sources: Blackman, W. Haden. 'The Field Guide to North American Hauntings.' Three Rivers Press, 1998; www.cityofboston.gov.
...women's voices can be heard arguing and crying.
Lizzie Borden's House
Lizzie Borden took an ax, She gave her mother 40 whacks, When she seen what she had done, She gave her father 41. The ghastly ditty is well known even today -- the August 4, 1892 crime was the most notorious of its time. In quiet Fall River, affluent yet notoriously miserly Andrew Borden and his second wife Abby were found murdered in their small Greek Revival home... and the younger daughter of the house, thirty-something Elizabeth was quickly charged. It was common knowledge that the Borden family was dysfunctional and fractious -- the sisters (the older Emma lived in the house, too) and their dour step-mama shared a mutual dislike -- family discord and that old standby, money, are alleged to have been the crime's motive. It would take a jury one single hour of deliberation to acquit Lizzie of the charges, but local society had already convicted her -- Miss Borden would move into a swankier home and change her name to 'Lizbeth,' but never escape the suspicions that followed her throughout her life. She died in 1927, alone.
Today, the Borden house on 2nd Street serves as both a bed and breakfast and a museum. While none of the original furnishings remain, the home is maintained to reflect the 1892 time period... which seems good enough for the ghosts from the past that haunt these halls. Inexplicable cold spots shift throughout the house, ghostly footsteps tip-tap across the floor and women's voices can be heard arguing and crying. Most visible is Abby, Lizzie's stepmother, who keeps herself busy dusting and making the beds, sometimes even climbing under the covers with guests for a nap.
Sources: www.lizzie-borden.com; www.hauntedhamilton.com
...the apparitions of father and daughter usually appear on rain-soaked nights...
The Eternal Wanderers
The spectres of Peter Jugg and his young daughter, Jenny, supposedly haunt the backroads of Eastern Massachusetts, fixed in their never-ending journey home to Middle Street in Boston. Lost in a violent storm in 1770, the apparitions of father and daughter usually appear on rain-soaked nights, their wagon and horses enveloped in a phosphorescent glow. Jugg has been known to cry out, ''Which way to Boston?'' And upon receiving instructions, he promptly takes off in the other direction, his rain-soaked little girl clinging to his sleeve. The lost souls have frightened many a nighttime traveler, and have even been reported to stop at their old residence on Middle Street -- only to be turned away, 200 years too late.
Source: Norman, Michael & Scott, Beth. 'Historic Haunted America.' Tor Books, 1995.
...her finger was cut off to remove the ring...
The Spirit of Marblehead
The Marblehead coastline on Massachusetts Bay stands staunchly by the crashing Atlantic, a silent witness to American history that is rapidly becoming a popular getaway spot for East Coasters. Visitors walk the bluff, cliffs and beaches and explore the quaint nearby town. Sunny summer days are idyllic here... but nights are another thing entirely.
In the evening, usually by the light of a waxing moon, all is not peaceful. Local legend claims that a wealthy woman was accosted by pirates on the beach, assaulted then robbed of her jewels. One bauble -- a fabulous ring -- resisted the brigands' attempts to wrest it from her finger... the woman was murdered on the beach and her finger cut off to remove the would-be booty. Visitors report hearing her screams as she begs for mercy... and some feel surreptitious tugs at their fingers, as if someone was trying to remove a ring.
Sources: www.phantomfinders.com; 'The Haunted Dawghouse,' http://dawghouse.topcities.com.
...he's seen backstage, striding down the hall in a studded leather ensemble...
The Ghost of the King at the Las Vegas Hilton
Elvis loved Vegas, no doubt about it. He loved the girls, he loved the glitz, he loved the tacky excess. Elvis and Las Vegas went together like white-bellbottomed jumpsuits and mutton-chop sideburns. 'The Pelvis' died in Memphis at his beloved Graceland in the summer of 1977, but he still shows up in Sin City on a regular basis.
He's spotted all over town -- just about every hotel has an Elvis story. The older, portly Elvis shows up most often at Fremont Street taking in the light shows. The young, postage-stamp Elvis lounges at the Flamingo Hilton, where he filmed parts of ''Viva Las Vegas.'' Landmark Drugs, where the King had his prescriptions filled, is also an Elvis hangout. But his favorite haunting place seems to be the International Hotel (now the Hilton). The King headlined here in the early '70s, and turned the 30th floor into the Elvis Presley Suite. Elvis strides down the hall dressed in a studded leather ensemble.
Sources: www.phantomfinders.com; www.lasvegassun.com.
...empty tanks of gas are mysteriously filled...
Whiskey Pete's Hotel & Casino
Smack-dab on the California/Nevada state line, Whiskey Pete's Casino is a welcome stop for folks making the long trek through the southwest desert. The sprawling hotel complex offers gaming, shopping and recreation -- but the place got its start way back when a crusty miner named Whiskey Pete opened a filling station on the godforsaken spot, and augmented his meager sales with a brisk moonshine business. Whiskey Pete died of lung cancer in 1933, but his legacy lives on decades later with bright lights and the ching-a-ling of slot machines. Guests report parking their cars with almost empty tanks of gas, only to return to find them mysteriously filled ... and the specter of a grizzled old man, chuckling to himself, shuffling down the halls.
Source: www.shadowlands.net; local historian Elario Betruva.
...the dapper thug lounges on late nights by the pool...
Bugsy's Ghost at the Flamingo
Benjamin 'Bugsy' Siegel was as handsome as he was ruthless, a Brooklyn-raised son of Russian immigrants who got his criminal start running a two-bit protection racket on the seamier streets in New York. By the time he reached manhood he'd earned his nickname 'Bugsy' for the charming trait of 'going bugs' at the drop of a hat -- snapping at the slightest provocation, without mercy or regard for the consequences. By the late '30s Bugsy was a full-blown made man, a gangster's gangster -- and he headed west to conquer Hollywood. He spent several years rubbing elbows with movie stars, extorting money, fiddling with illegal gambling and murdering the odd gangland rival before turning his eyes to the dusty desert town of Las Vegas, where land was cheap and gambling was legal. Draining mob coffers dry, Siegel built a gambling palace without parallel -- the Flamingo.
After a shaky start, the hotel/casino was a success. But Bugsy wasn't able to enjoy his handiwork for long. One night in 1947, Bugsy had just settled down in his Hollywood hotel to read the evening papers when a fusillade of bullets hailed into his room. They shattered a window and killed Bugsy right where he sat. No one's really sure who killed the hood, who had enemies to burn. But one thing's for sure: this gangster prefers this world to the next. Bugsy's ghost made its way back to his haunt in Las Vegas. Guests and employees at the Flamingo still report seeing the dapper thug lounging on late nights by the pool. He may be waiting for a romantic rendezvous with his mistress, Virginia Hill. She's probably not coming; she didn't even bother coming to his funeral.
Sources: Blackman, W. Haden. 'The Field Guide to North American Hauntings.' Three Rivers Press, 1998; www.shadowlands.net.
The city's graveyards were never in want of fresh corpses.
The Old Washoe Club
Virginia City was a bustling mining town at the turn of the twentieth century. The abundance of gold and silver ore in the region made scrappy prospectors into instant millionaires. This promise of instant wealth attracted dreamers from all parts of the country, but the hazardous nature of mine work and the omnipresence of outlaws meant that the city's graveyards were never in want of fresh corpses. One of the unwitting victims of this rough-and-tumble existence was a young boy who was killed by a team of runaway horses. To this day, the echoes of a young crying child can be heard and in the halls of the Old Washoe Club, where the boy once lodged with his family. Patrons of the club have also reported sightings of a grieving woman ghost frantically pacing the halls.
Source: Oberdin, Janice. Haunted Nevada -- draft, 1998; http://members.aol.com/obeecat. [Accessed 26 Sept 2001].
...the child had every appearance of being Satanically sired.
The Hull-House Devil Baby
Chicago's Hull-House is well known -- this juggernaut of social reform was one of the original settlement houses in the area to cater to the profoundly poor and needy. Jane Addams -- who would go on to win a Nobel Prize for her good work -- and Ellen Starr spent decades feeding, clothing and educating all who came to their door, turning away no one. Foundlings were often discovered on the House's step, left by mothers unable to care for them.
It is the stuff of local legend that on a crisp morning in 1913 another crying bundle was discovered on the stoop -- but this time the House's benevolent ladies recoiled in horror upon unwrapping the infant: the child had every appearance of being Satanically sired. A tail, skin patchy with scales, pointed ears, hands and feet with a cloven appearance -- the baby was a horror to behold. But Addams soon felt her heart melting, and she resolved to care for the child, keeping him away from a world too cruel and too ignorant to tolerate his appearance. To the public, Addams denied the existence of the boy, allegedly keeping him in the attic for his own protection; though the child was never seen outside the walls of Hull-House, there would be many reports of a fearsome face staring down from the window. By all accounts the Devil Baby died young, having never left his attic lair... but passersby still regularly report seeing a terrifying face in the upper windows of Hull-House.
Source: Blackman, W. Haden. 'The Field Guide to North American Hauntings.' Three Rivers Press, 1998.
...chilling screams for help tear through quiet summer nights...
The Haunting of Harpo Studios
On the banks of the Chicago River in the early summer of 1915, just steps from the Clark Street Bridge, 9,000 festive folks boarded four ships bound for Michigan City -- Western Electric was treating its employees and their families to a company picnic. About 2,500 passengers boarded the Eastland, some lining her rails and some dancing to an orchestra on the promenade deck. Even though the ship tilted perceptibly to her port side the captain made the decision to cast off, but before the Eastland could get underway she capsized. Passenger and crew who were able jumped into the water or onto the wharf -- still, 800 lives were lost on that sunny morning. A nearby building was quickly made into a makeshift morgue -- surviving family members would come forward and claim the cold, still bodies still dressed in their festive picnic finery. The Eastland disaster would be one of the largest maritime tragedies in American history.
Employees at Harpo Studios, production digs for Oprah Winfrey, report hearing piteous sobbing, ragtime music, laughter, cries for help and the footfalls of what seems to be a large crowd. A stately woman, dressed in gray and wearing a large old-fashioned hat is seen floating through the halls -- even being recorded on a security camera. While Harpo Studios is an icon of modern television production technology, the building that houses the company once served as that long ago makeshift morgue. Nearby at the Clark Street Bridge chilling screams for help tear through quiet summer nights; passersby call the police on a regular basis to report ''luminous'' bodies floating in the water of the Chicago River -- but none are ever found.
Sources: Rule, Leslie. 'Coast to Coast Ghosts.' Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2001. Eastland Disaster Historical Society, www.eastlanddisaster.org.
...claiming that a pretty young girl was locked inside the cemetery's iron fence...
This story seems to be the genesis of the popular urban legend that, once embellished with local flavor, is a favorite at sleepovers and campouts. In the '30s, a beautiful Polish girl left a dance at the O'Henry Ballroom (now the Willowbrook) after arguing with her boyfriend and attempted to hitchhike home along Archer Avenue. Somewhere along this road, near Resurrection Cemetery, she was killed by a hit-and-run driver. Not long after her death, a pretty girl in a '30s style white dress began hitching rides along Archer Avenue ... usually going to or from the ballroom, usually vanishing at the cemetery. In 1977, a call was made to local authorities, claiming that a pretty young girl was locked inside the cemetery's iron fence. Upon investigation, no young woman was found, but two bent and scorched bars, bearing the indelible imprint of two hands -- were pulled apart just wide enough for the slim body of a girl to slip through. Evidently, Mary didn't want to be late for the dance.
Supernatural cars and trucks race about the grounds...
Bachelor's Grove Cemetery
It's thought by some that Bachelor's Grove might be the most haunted place in North America: the ramshackle cemetery, called ''Bachelor's Grove'' because of an internment population largely made up of men who shuffled off this mortal coil while yet in the prime of life, is a creepily lonely site... ill-kempt and forlorn, it can be accessed from rough gravel path off I-294 (in the Rubio Woods Preserve.)
Spirit activity is lively here: a spectral farmer and his equally spectral horse plow a field, the ''White Lady'' and her ghost baby appear with the full moon and an entire house -- complete with picket fence -- fades in and out of sight. Supernatural cars and trucks race about the grounds, often forcing earthly motorists from the roads. A small pond at the edge of the grounds was a popular place for gangsters -- many a dead body was dumped in the water to ''sleep with the fishes.'' It's not unusual for amateur ghost hunters to encounter nattily dressed young men sauntering down the paths, heading back to Chicago. Other fiendish finds have included a glowing yellow ghost-man, a two-headed monstrous creature that wanders amongst the tombstones accompanied by sparkling blue lights and a host of monks wandering about with no apparent purpose.
Would-be ghost chasers should note that Bachelor's Grove is heavily patrolled by local law enforcement due to the site's popularity with voodoo, black magic and other cult groups; the grounds are off-limits after dark.
Sources: Blackman, W. Haden. 'The Field Guide to North American Hauntings.' Three Rivers Press, 1998; http://www.shadowsofchicago.com
... the bodies of the dead were left to rot on the dunes of Lake Michigan.
The Fort Dearborn Massacre Site
During the War of 1812, when local Indian tribes were allied with the British against U.S. forces, American commander General William Hull ordered the evacuation of Fort Dearborn. The order seemed imprudent to many: the evacuation would include a number of women and children, and many thought that remaining at the Fort would have been wiser. Regardless, in mid-August of 1812 a small band of soldiers, women and children left the Fort hoping to find refuge at Fort Wayne. Twenty-four hours later, fewer than half of the original 148 members of the party would be alive; Indians ambushed the party, killing 86 people and taking the remainder prisoner. Fort Dearborn was burned to the ground and the bodies of the dead were left to rot on the dunes of Lake Michigan.
In the early 1980s a construction crew unearthed what was believed to be the bones of the victims of the massacre. Though the remains were relocated and reburied, evidently not all was made peaceful again: local folks started reporting spectral figures, dressed in archaic military uniforms or ''settler'' clothing, in a field just north of 16th St. Screaming silently or running about as if terrified, these slaughtered specters seem to be doomed to re-live that horrible day in 1812 for all eternity.
The site of the Fort Dearborn Massacre can be visited today: a small plaque on the side of a building at 18th and Prairie marks the spot.
Source: Whitechapel Press & The American Ghost Society, www.prairieghosts.com
The Woods are haunted by ghostly lights and phantom faces...
Alexander Robinson was a Native American man who aided white soldiers and settlers during the infamous Fort Dearborn Massacre. As a reward for his assistance, he was given the land now known as Robinson Wood. While the fate of patriarch Alexander is argued -- some say that he was murdered by area Indians for helping the enemy, some say he lived to a ripe old age -- generations of the reputedly wild Robinson family would live here well into the 20th century. But in 1955, the family homestead inexplicably burned to the ground. Just a few months later a grisly discovery would be made: the bodies of three young boys were found bound and naked in a ditch on the property.
The Woods are haunted by ghostly lights and phantom faces; visitors report hearing disembodied voices and the persistent beat of an Indian drum. Tortured moans (Alexander? The dead boys?) are heard on windy nights, while many -- even in the midst of winter -- note a persistent aroma of blooming lilacs. Amateur specter-sleuths should note that most activity seems to come from the left side of the stone Robinson Family monument.
Sources: Blackman, W. Haden. 'The Field Guide to North American Hauntings.' Three Rivers Press, 1998; Whitechapel Press & The American Ghost Society, www.prairieghosts.com.
...solitary-confinement cells and thirty-foot-high walls...
Reed Gold Mine: Eternal Prisoners
The first American gold rush took place in Charlotte in the late 18th century, with the path to the Reed Gold Mine being well-trod by explorers and dreamers. The mine became haunted shortly after it was discovered by Eleanor Mills. Mills tripped on her dress and fell while inside the mine; as she fell, she struck her head on a beam, sending her into a coma. Her husband, who was with her, was so saddened that he wept himself to sleep in the mine. When he woke up, he realized that his wife's corpse was still, but her voice continued to emanate from it. Frightened, he threw her body down a deep tunnel called the engine shaft, but that did not stop the screams -- it only made them louder. Her voice can still be heard echoing throughout the mine.
...her grave robbers sold her corpse to the anatomy department...
Anatomy of a Haunting
A young woman's ghost is said to haunt a male dormitory on the Founders College campus. Louise, from the town of Salisbury, died young. After her death, her body was snatched by robbers. At the time, colleges with medical schools were not allowed to buy bodies for use in their anatomy classes, so they were entirely dependent on grave robbers to get cadavers for them. Louise's grave robbers, according to lore, brought her corpse here and sold it to the anatomy department. The building which she haunts was allegedly where her cadaver wound up, waiting to be used by classes; the exact whereabouts of her corpse are unknown to this day.
Murdered while on a mission to get reinforcements for their troops...
King's Mountain Road Ghosts
Legend has it that for upwards of two centuries the road between King's Mountain and Charlotte has been prowled by the ghostly apparitions of two soldiers on horseback, seemingly lost and looking for directions. No traveler can help them, because the British regiment they seek has been gone for 200 years. Murdered while on a mission to get reinforcements for their troops, the two soldiers are most often seen at forks in the road, their spectral figures bent haplessly over an old map, their journey to save their comrades doomed for all time.
Source: Roberts, Nancy. 'America's Most Haunted Places.' Sandlapper Publishing Co., 1987.