August 15, 2015

A Macabre Bucket List- 8 Haunted Places To See

Places I want to visit before I die, (That doesn't mean others didn't die at these places.)

I. Stanley Hotel

Location: Estes Park, Colorado

Stanley Hotel
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Freelan Stanley
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The co-inventor of the Stanley Steamer, Freelan Oscar Stanley, came to Estes Park in 1903. He was suffering from tuberculosis and came West due to his doctor's orders. Stanley's health began to improve. His wife and himself fell in love with the area and decided to invest money into it. The Stanley Hotel was opened in 1909 and catered to the rich and famous, including Titanic survivor Molly Brown, President Theodore Roosevelt, and Emperor Hirohito of Japan.

The Stanley Hotel has quite the reputation of being haunted. Staff have reported hearing a party going on in the ballroom when it's empty. Guests of the hotel have claimed to see to have seen a man standing over their bed at night before running into a closet or just disappearing. Phantom voices and a child's laughing have also been heard. With a reputation like this, it's no wonder the hotel was the inspiration for Stephen King's novel "The Shining". Scenes from the TV adaption of the novel were also filmed here. The history of the hotel, and its reputation call to me.

The Stanley Hotel- Official Website
The Stanley Hotel- Wikipedia Website
The Shining (novel)- Wikipedia Website
The Shining (film)- Wikipedia Website

II. Bird Cage Theater

Location: Tombstone, Arizona

Bird Cage Theater
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Bird Cage theater, in addition to being a theater also served as a brothel, saloon and gambling parlor. It opened in 1881. There were 14 cages, that were situated on balconies above the stage. "Soiled Doves" or prostitutes would draw back curtains in the cages or "cribs" and dance and entertain their clients.

The theater was the second home of entertainers, cowboys, and outlaws alike. The smell of liquor, smoke, and sex must of hung heavy in the air. In 1882, the New York Times reported that "the Bird Cage Theatre is the wildest, wickedest night spot between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast." Hundreds of bullet holes in the walls of the theater lay claim to that statement.

According to legend, the longest running poker game is said to have been played there. Played non-stop for 24 hours a day, for eight years, five months, and three days. The players included Doc Holliday, Diamond Jim Brandy, George Hearst, and Bat Masterson.

Gambling Parlor inside the Bird Cage Theater
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Tombstone in the late 1800s wasn't a place for the weak of heart. It was a town full of violence, and death. Some say that the ghosts of people who died in Tombstone still walk the streets at night and the Birdcage Theater is where the spirits still find entertainment that they found in life.

Employees and visitors of the theater have reported seeing ghosts of prostitutes, and cowboys. Some have claimed to have been touched or even pushed by these ghosts. It's said that you can hear the distant sounds of laughter and yelling, poker chips being thrown on a table, and liquor glasses still being filled.

The Bird Cage Theatre- Official Website
Bird Cage Theatre- Wikipedia Website

3. Bachelor's Grove Cemetery

Location: Midlothian, Illinois

Bachelor's Grove Cemetery
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Originally named Everton Cemetery, a now abandoned cemetery, it saw its first burials as early as the 1830s. The cemetery was a favorite spot in the 20s and 30s for Chicago's organized crime to dump their victims.

Madonna of Bachelor's Grove
Many sightings of paranormal activity have been reported there for quite some time. Including, orbs, a lady in white, a phantom farmhouse is said to appear then vanish, a two-headed ghost, a black dog, and the famous image of the "Madonna of Bachelor's Grove"- a photo taken in August of 1991, by the Ghost Research Society which ran in the Chicago Sun-Times, showing a transparent woman sitting on a tombstone. Reportedly, no one was there when the photo was taken.

Ghost Research Society- Official Website
Bachelors Grove Cemetery

IV. The Myrtles Plantation

Location: Saint Francisville, Louisiana

In 1796 a man named General David Bradford AKA Whiskey Dave obtained a land grant of 650 acres. In 1820, Whiskey Dave's son-in-law, Judge Clarke Woodruff, remodeled the mansion. In 1834 the plantation was owned by Ruffin Gray

Myrtles Plantation
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Stirling who turned the mansion into what you see today. Stirling and his wife, Catherine doubled the size of the former house, and changed the name to "The Myrtles". The Stirlings had eight children in total but sadly, five of them died in childhood. The house changed owners several times in the late 1800s until the 1970s when it was purchased by James and Frances Kermeen Myers. The mansion is now home to a bed and breakfast. It is on the National Historic Register and is a perfect example of antebellum splendor, and grandeur.

The plantation has the ominous name of "One of America's Most Haunted Homes". A ghost of the name of William Drew Winter is said to haunt the mansion. William was a lawyer who lived at the plantation from 1865 to 1871. It's said that he was shot outside the mansion and died while trying to climb the stairs in the house. Supposedly, he died on the 17th step. There are reports by employees and visitors of the mansion that they can hear his footsteps.

There is a legend of a slave girl named Chloe. She was supposedly a slave owned by Mark and Sara Woodruff. It's said that her left ear was cut off, due to her eavesdropping on the Woodruff's business dealings. She wore a green turban to hide her missing ear. The legend goes that she baked a birthday cake containing extract of a poison for Sara and her two daughters. Sara and her daughters died. Chloe was then hung and thrown into the Mississippi River.

1992 photo of Chloe via
In 1992 a photo was taken on the plantation by the owner for rating a fire insurance policy. In the photo, there is what appears to be a negro girl standing between the General's Store, and the Butler's Pantry. It's said that this is a picture of Chloe.

The spirits of Sara and her children are said to haunt one of the mirrors in the mansion. Traditionally mirrors were covered with cloth or sheets after the death of a person. The legend goes that a mirror was missed when Sara and her children died and their spirits were trapped inside the mirror. Their apparitions are sometimes seen in the mirror along with handprints.

The Myrtles Plantation- Official Website
Myrtles Plantation- Wikipedia
Legends of Myrtles Plantation- Wikipedia

V. The Baker Hotel

Location: Mineral Wells, Texas

Baker Hotel
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
It was built by Theodore Brasher Baker in 1926 and completed in 1929. The opulent hotel boosted 14 stories, 450 guest rooms, 2 ballrooms, a beauty shop, bowling alley, gymnasium, and the first swimming pool built at a hotel in Texas. Many celebrities and stars have stayed at the Baker Hotel including, President Lyndon B. Johnson, Lawrence Welk, Clark Gable, Judy Garland, and it's rumored the famous outlaw couple Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow have also stayed at the Baker.

Baker Hotel Postcard
It was permanently closed in 1972 and has suffered the ravages of time, and vandalism. There are said to be ghosts of people who have committed suicide in the hotel, and even Bonnie and Clyde's spirits are said to haunt the halls. There are now, plans, to restore the Baker Hotel with a budget of $54 million.(1)
Baker Hotel Foot Bridge
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Baker Hotel- Wikipedia Website
The Baker Hotel Renovation
The Dallas Morning News- The Baker Hotel- Beautiful Pictures Featuring The Hotel



VI. The Winchester Mansion

Location: San Jose, California

Winchester Mansion
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Gun magnate William Wirt Winchester was the President of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company in 1880. He married a woman named Sarah Pardee in 1862. They had a baby girl they named Annie. Sadly Annie died five short weeks later of marasmus, a form of malnutrition. Sarah suffered another blow when her husband, William also died in 1881 of tuberculosis.

Grief-stricken Sarah consulted a psychic who told her she lost her baby girl because the spirits of all the people killed by the Winchester rifle wanted revenge. The psychic told her to move out West from Connecticut. Sarah moved to San Jose, California and hired architects and construction workers to renovate a farmhouse in 1884. Under Sarah's guidance, the construction on the house never stopped until Sarah's death on September 5, 1922. Dubbed "The House That Fear Built." Sarah believed that as long as construction continued the ghosts would be appeased.

A staircase leading nowhere.
One of the many oddities in the house.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Sarah wanted to confuse the malicious spirits and keep herself safe. So the mansion has stairways that lead to walls, doors that open to nowhere, and windows overlooking other rooms.  There are 160 rooms, which include 40 bedrooms, 2 ballrooms, 47 fireplaces, 2 basements, and three elevators. [1] "Most of the stained glass windows were created by the Tiffany Company." The money Sarah received from the proceeds from the sales of the Winchester Rifle allowed Sarah to continue to build the mansion.
One of the beautiful stained glass windows in the mansion
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
There was an earthquake in 1906 which reduced the number of stories of the mansion from seven to four.

Sarah Winchester
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
When Sarah died in 1922, oddly there was no mention of the mansion in her will. So it was sold at auction for $135,000 to John and Mayme Brown. The mansion is now open to the public and is owned by Winchester Investments, LLC. A private company who represent the descendants of John and Mayme Brown.

Railing surrounding a window in the floor.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Ghost stories abound with this mansion. Workers and guests claim to hear strange noises, to seeing spirits of construction workers who have accidentally died in the mansion, servants of Mrs. Winchester, to that of Sarah herself.

Whether you think Sarah was extremely superstitious, or just plain crazy this mysterious house is definitely worth checking out for yourself.

Winchester Mystery House- Official Website
Winchester Mystery House- Wikipedia Website

VII. Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

Location: Weston, West Virginia

Opened in 1864 it was a state-run to house the insane. It was designed to hold 250 people but became overcrowded with over 2,400 patients. The acceptable treatment of mentally ill patients back then would be considered downright torture today. For example, a common treatment was insulin shock therapy. Large doses of insulin were injected into the patient to put them in a coma, to "reset" their brain. Many patients died due to this course of "treatment". This treatment, along with lobotomies, and bloodletting, this place of care, was more like a place of horror. 

The hospital was closed in 1994 due to reports of mistreatment and abuse of the patients. A man named Joe Jordan bought the hospital in 2007 and opened it for tours. It became a National Historic Landmark in 1990. 

Disembodied voices, strange noises, and apparitions are said to abound within Trans-Allegheny's halls. It seems to me that a life of neglect and abuse behind closed doors is a recipe for a tortured spirit. I hope these souls have found some peace in death, but it seems according to people who have been to Trans-Allegheny, they have not.

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum- Official Website
Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum- Wikipedia Website

VIII. Gettysburg Battlefield 

Location: Gettysburg, PA 

via: My Scenic Byway: Gettysburg Battlefield

This green field now quiet and serene turned red with the blood of Union, and Confederate soldiers as they roared into battle in the beginning of July 1863.

"General Robert E. Lee marched his Army of Northern Virginia into Pennsylvania in late June 1863. On July 1, the advancing Confederates clashed with the Union’s Army of the Potomac, commanded by General George G. Meade, at the crossroads town of Gettysburg."(1.)

"It's estimated that between 46,000 and 51,000 casualties were suffered by each side when the battle was over."(2.)
The home of a Rebel Sharpshooter, Gettysburg (1863) by Timothy O'Sullivan

"....But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract...."(3.) Lincoln spoke his now famous words of the Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863, when a national cemetery was dedicated to the fallen soldiers.

Photographers such as Mathew Brady, Timothy O'Sullivan, and Alexander Gardner helped to bring a realization of the terrible cost of war with his photos of the dead. The bodies lying lifeless on the ground where someone's brother, father, or husband.
The "Slaughter pen" at foot of Round Top, after the Battle by Alexander Gardner

With all the blood that was spilled on Gettysburg, there are numerous reports of phantom soldiers walking the hallowed ground. Maybe the battle never ended for them but continues to play out into eternity.

1. "Battle of Gettysburg." History Channel. A&E Television Networks, 2009. Web. 15 Aug. 2015.

2. "Battle of Gettysburg." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 14 Aug. 2015. Web. 16 Aug. 2015. <>.

3. Wikipedia contributors. "Gettysburg Address." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 9 Aug. 2015. Web. 16 Aug. 2015.

Gettysburg- National Military Park Website
The Atlantic, The Battle of Gettysburg- Photos
The American Civil War, Then and Now- Amazing Photos
The Battle of Gettysburg- The History Channel
Alexander Gardner (photographer)- Wikipedia Website
Timothy H. O'Sullivan (photographer)- Wikipedia Website

February 21, 2015

Human Torso Found in Caves in 1979- Cold Case In Idaho Gets New Heat

The city of Dubois is a small town which sits in the north eastern part of Idaho. According to the population in 2013 was 596. 

In Dubois there are some caves carved into the landscape which locals call, the Civil Defense Caves. They were given this name during the Cold War. Caves were used by civil defense to store food, supplies, and give shelter to people in case a nuclear bomb was detonated in the area.

In 1979 there was a human male torso found in the caves, missing arms, legs, and a head.

In 1991 a man exploring the caves, with his daughter and grandchildren, found a severed arm with the hand attached. According to the 'Deseret News': "My daughter shined a flashlight on it, and it was a human hand," the man said.

He said the hand was still attached to an arm with a piece of a sweater on it, close to a hole in the ground.

The Clark County Sheriff's office went out to investigate and then found another arm along with two legs that were wrapped in a decaying burlap sack.

"Sheriff King believes the limbs belong to the same body as the torso, which was found about 100 feet deeper into the cave. Clothes on the limbs appeared to match those found on the torso, including dark wool pants, a white cotton shirt with pink stripes and a maroon sweater.
The torso also was found wrapped in burlap.
The limbs were cleanly severed from the body, possibly with a saw, King said, although there were no wounds on the torso. He said a medical examiner's report concluded that the man died six months to five years before the remains were found."

"Somebody killed him, that's for sure, said Earl Holden, who was Clark County sheriff at the time the torso was found, said Tuesday."

Now in 2015, the sheriff's department has given Idaho State University's Anthropology Department the job of coming to the caves to find any more possible evidence and the hopefully the missing head. ISU plans to use 3D scanning to map the caves, and make a model of the remains to hopefully identify the victim.

Sheriff May of Clark County is asking if you have any info on the case, or you might know who the victim is to call the Sheriff's office at (208) 374-5403 or (208) 709-6703.

Clark County Sheriff's Department

Deseret News

January 31, 2015

Cemetery Symbolism

A cemetery holds stories. Stories of people who once lived in your community. A cemetery, especially to me, and other taphophiles alike, is place to go to learn the history, and hear these stories. Not a scary, creepy place but a place to reflect, and learn. One way to learn the stories of the people buried there is by headstone symbols. They give a glimpse who the person was, more so than simple reading the headstone. In this post, I have included some of these symbols and their meanings. This isn't by any means a comprehensive list. I have simple included some of the most common symbols.

A symbol of resurrection, innocence and peace. A dove ascending represents the departed's soul going to heaven. A dove holding an olive branch symbolizes the departed soul has found peace in heaven. A dead dove can mean a life cut short.

It represents safety, hope, and steadfastness. It also means the anchoring influence of Christ. It can also be for the grave of a seaman, or as a symbol of Saint Nicholas, who was the patron saint of seamen. A broken chain on the anchors, means the ending of life.Picture 

Photo Found:

Broken Column
A broken column represents a life that was cut short.

Photo Found:

Covered Urn
The draped urn, can mean several things. The urn represents a funerary urn, used to hold the deceased ashes. The draping, can symbolize the guarding of the ashes, or that the departed's soul has left the body to go to heaven. The drape can also signify the shroud between life and death.

Photo Found:

A family tree. The broken branches represent the members of the family. A trunk, broken branches, represent the shortness, ending of life. 


Fleur de lis
Symbolizes purity and chastity, attributed to the Virgin Mary.It can also represent the Holy Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Photo Found:

This symbol also can represent many different things. The book can make reference to the bible, the book of life. It may also on a headstone for a scholar, lover of books, or learning, a publisher, or writer. Also a book can represent the Evangelists. A closed book can represent a life cut short, the book of life, closed.

Photo Found:

3 Chain Links with the Letters F.L.T.
This symbol is one for a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.). It is a fraternal organization that strives to "improve and elevate the character of mankind by promoting the principles of friendship, love, truth, faith, hope, charity and universal justice". The letters: F.L.T. stand for, Friendship, Love, and Truth.

Read more about the I.O.O.F. here: 

The sovereign grand lodge of Independent Order of Odd Fellows

Photo Found:

The Letters I.H.S.
It stands for the first three letters of the Greek spelling of the Holy Name of Jesus.

Iesus Hominum Salvator – Jesus the Savior of men

Photo Found: