February 28, 2016

Cemeteries Are More Than Places For The Dead

To most, cemeteries and graveyards are a place to avoid unless you are burying a loved. Most find them places of sorrow, fear, and unpleasantness. However, some people seek out cemeteries. These people don't feel negative connotations towards cemeteries. They seek out cemeteries to relax and reflect. Some go to cemeteries for genealogy and historical research. and full of stories from the past. This post is about a few of the most popular cemeteries in the world, and the beauty and art you can find within them. There are many in the world, and I have only mentioned a few. This list is in no particular order.

Pere Lachaise Cemetery Paris, France 

Père Lachaise opened on May 21, 1804. With the church grave years of Paris filling to capacity, Pere Lachaise was part of several cemeteries, including Montparnasse Cemetery, and Montmartre Cemetery, built to help relieve the crowding in the churchyards. It is now the largest cemetery in Paris, over 100 acres. There are more than 3 million visitors a year. (1)

The more famous graves at Père Lachaise include the grave of the author, Oscar Wilde, lead singer of "The Doors", Jim Morrison, and classical composer, Frédéric Chopin
Père Lachaise Cemetery
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Piaget Tomb at Père Lachaise
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Beautiful Stained Glass Window Inside of the Piaget Tomb
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Grave of Oscar Wilde
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Grave of Jim Morrison at Pere Lachaise
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Fredrick Chopin's Grave at Pere Lachaise
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno Genoa, Italy

Staglieno is one of the largest cemeteries in Europe. It was opened on January 2, 1851. (2) It has some of the most beautiful sculptures and funerary art in the world. To walk through Staglieno is to walk through a great museum. Mark Twain visited the cemetery in the 1880s and commented: "...as one walks down the middle of the passage, are monuments, tombs, and sculptured figures that are exquisitely wrought and are full of grace and beauty..."

Monteverde Angel | Oneto Family Tomb at Staglieno
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Enrico Amerigo Tomb at Staglieno
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Erasmo Piaggio Tomb at Staglieno
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Scala Family Tomb at Staglieno
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Inga Tomb at Staglieno
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Highgate Cemetery London, England

Highgate Cemetery
Photo by: Panyd The muffin is not subtle via Wikimedia Commons

Highgate Cemetery was opened in 1839 and is part of "The Magnificent Seven". A group of cemeteries on the outer edges of London that was the first to be landscaped and designed with aesthetic value. "Together they tell a story of Victorian enterprise and progress that can impress today, and demonstrate the decent disposal of the dead."(I) The Magnificent Seven was part of a movement to beautify cemeteries, to have them more park-like than simply a dumping ground for the dead.

The cemetery is now managed by "The Friends of Highgate Cemetery", a charity group founded in 1975, its main purpose is to preserve and restore the cemetery for future generations.

The cemetery is divided into the West & East Side. The Westside which is the oldest part of the cemetery is available to visitors by guided tour only. The Westside includes the famous "Egyptian Avenue and The Circle of Lebanon, which features tombs, vaults and winding paths dug into the hillside." (3)  The East Side is available to visitors to explore without a guided tour. 

Some people of fame buried at Highgate include sociologist, Karl Marx, poet, Christina Rossetti, scientist, Michael Faraday, and singer George Michael.
The Circle of Lebanon
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The Entrance to Egyptian Ave
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Graves in the Eastern End of Highgate Cemetery
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Grave of Karl Marx at Highgate Cemetery
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Highgate Cemetery
Photo By: Laika ac via Wikimedia Commons

Metairie Cemetery New Orleans, LA

Metairie Cemetery has the largest collection of funerary art and statues in the city of New Orleans. The layout of the cemetery is in the shape of a large oval, due to the site of the cemetery once being a racetrack for horses, Metairie Race Course. 

A man named
 Charles Howard moved to New Orleans from Baltimore before the Civil War. He wanted a membership to Metairie Jockey Club and was denied. The legend goes, that he swore he would one day buy the race track, and turn it into a cemetery. Eventually, Charles had his wish. The cemetery went bankrupt due to the Civil War, and Howard bought the track in 1872. (4) Howard is buried in the cemetery. He died in 1885. (5) Looking at the cemetery from the air you can visibly see an oval-shaped layout of the graves. 

Notable burials in the cemetery include Stan Rice, (Poet and husband of Author, Anne Rice), Marguerite Clark, actress, Dorothy Dell, film actress of the 1930s, and Jefferson Davis, Confederate President during the Civil War.

One of the more beautiful statues in the cemetery is that of the Angel of Grief in the Hyams Mausoleum. It is based off the Angel sculpted by William Wetmore Story in 1894. (6) The Angel of Grief can be found all over the world. The original, by Story, was sculpted for his wife, who is buried at the Protestant Cemetery in Rome, Italy. 

Metairie cemetery is now owned by 
Service Corporation International(7) According to SCI's website, they are "...North America’s largest provider of funeral and cemetery services.."

Metairie Cemetery
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Brunswig Mausoleum at Metairie Cemetery
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Tomb of Charles T. Howard
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Hyams Mausoleum
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Arlington National Cemetery Arlington, VA
Arlington is hallowed ground as the final resting place for our nation's service men, women, and their families. The cemetery's vision is to"...lay to rest those who have served our nation with dignity and honor, treating their families with respect and compassion, and connecting guests to the rich tapestry of the cemetery's living history, while maintaining these hallowed grounds befitting the sacrifice of all those who rest here in quiet repose."

Like other cemeteries, Arlington is full of history. Arlington was originally land owned by George Washington's grandson, George Washington Parke Custis. Custis's daughter, Mary Anna Randolph inherited the land after her father's death. Mary Anna was married to the famous Civil War General Robert E. Lee in June of 1831. .During the war, the 1,100-acre property served as a military camp.

Mary Anna and Robert Lee's son, George Washington Custis Lee, sold the property to the government in 1864. Due to the high death toll during the war, the property became a cemetery. The first burial was on May 11, 1864, for Private William Christman. On June 15, the property was officially named a national cemetery.

Today Arlington serves as the final resting place for more than 400,000 military men and women and their families. (9)

Famous graves in the cemetery included Presidents, John F. Kennedy, and William Howard Taft, Sculptor, Vinnie Ream, Boxer, Joe Louis, and Civil Rights Activist, Medgar Evers, and the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Arlington National Cemetery
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Custis Lee Mansion in the background with Kennedy's grave in the foreground.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

November 22, 1963, JFK was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald while on a campaign trip in Dallas, TX.  

Mrs. Kennedy stated she wanted to model her husband's funeral after that of Abraham Lincoln's'. The executive director of the U.S. Civil War Centennial Commission, Professor James Robertson, and David Mearns, the directory of the Library of Congress did extensive research on Lincoln's funeral.

On a trip back in March 1963, Kennedy stated while visiting the Cutis-Lee Mansion that the view of Washington DC was so beautiful that he could stay there forever. Robert Kennedy used that memory as confirmation that Arlington would be where JFK would come to rest.

Mrs. Kennedy wanted to mark her husband's grave with an eternal flame just as the grave of the unknown soldier in Paris, France. The Washington Gas Company hooked up a propane torch and it was lit by Mrs. Kennedy, and Robert during the funeral on November 25, 1963. There is a constant electric spark near the nozzle which will relight the gas, should it go out from rain or the wind. The entire gravesite is 3.2 acres and the area directly around the grave is paved with stones quarried from Cape Cod, Kennedy's former home city.

"The presence of the grave also boosted attendance at Arlington National Cemetery. The president's 1963 funeral had been televised live, with 93 percent of all American homes watching. Satellites beamed the proceedings to another 23 countries, where another 600 million viewers watched. The television coverage transformed Arlington National Cemetery from a quiet veterans' cemetery into one of the Washington area's most popular tourist attractions. Average yearly attendance rose from 1 million people in 1962 to 9 million in the first six months of 1964." (10)

The tomb of the Unknowns was completed in 1932. Unidentified soldiers who have died in World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam wars have been interred in the tomb. However, the unknown soldier who died in the Vietnam war has become known. From mitochondrial DNA testing, the world found out that the unknown soldier was 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie, who was killed in Vietnam in 1972. Blassie's remains were moved from the tomb to his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. He was buried in the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, on July 11, 1994. (14)
Mrs. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy walk away
from President Kennedy's casket after lighting the Eternal Flame
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

John F. Kennedy's grave with the eternal flame burning in the background.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

William Howard Taft Memorial
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Tomb of the Unknowns
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Bonaventure Cemetery Savannah, GA

Known for its oak-lined walkways and weeping willows, Bonaventure started as a private cemetery on Bonaventure Plantation. In 1846 Josiah Tattnall, Jr. sold it to Evergreen Cemetery Company which was purchased by the city in 1907, making Bonaventure Cemetery, a public cemetery. (13) Citizens of Savannah can still buy plots in Bonaventure for their internment.

In 1867 a naturalist and preservationist named John Muir took a long walk of 1,000 miles from Indiana to Florida. (15) He later wrote a book about the adventure entitled "Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf". While in Atlanta he chose to sleep in Bonaventure Cemetery for six days and nights. He slept on graves, stating it was the safest and cheapest place he could find while he waited for money from home to arrive. Muir said of the cemetery: "...I gazed awe-stricken as one new-arrived from another world. Bonaventure is called a graveyard, a town of the dead, but the few graves are powerless in such a depth of life. The rippling of living waters, the song of birds, the joyous confidence of flowers, the calm, undisturbable grandeur of the oaks, mark this place of graves as one of the Lord’s most favored abodes of life and light." (16)
Ives Monument at Bonaventure Cemetery

One of the most visited and beautiful tombstones at Bonaventure is that of a young girl named Gracie Watson. She was born in 1883 to W.J. and Frances Watson. Her father was the manager of the luxurious Pulaski Hotel. It is said that Gracie, with her blue eyes and a bright smile, would entertain the guests at the hotel with dances, and songs.

Sadly, in 1889 Gracie died from pneumonia. Her grief-stricken parents had the artist John Walz carve the likeness of Gracie in sculpture to place in the Watson Family plot in Bonaventure. As a tribute, many visitors leave flowers and toys for little Gracie. (17)

Gracie Watson's Grave
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Laurel Hill Cemetery Philadelphia, PA

In 1835 a man named John Jay Smith had lost his daughter. While looking at local churchyard to bury her, he was struck by how crowded it was. "...I found it impossible to designate the resting place of a darling daughter, determined me to endeavor to procure for the citizens a suitable, neat and orderly location for a rural cemetery."(18) Smith wanted to create a cemetery that was a place of peace, and beauty for Philadelphia, a park-like place where overcrowding wasn't a problem. In 1836 Smith and some associates, citizens of Philadelphia who shared Smith's vision bought a 32-acre estate called Laurel Hill. It's remote location applied to Smith. A Scottish immigrant named John Notman designed the cemetery. (19)

The cemetery was completed in 1839. To increase the cemeteries notoriety, several prominent citizens were interred from other burial sites and reburied at Laurel Hill, including Charles Thomson, Continental Congress Secretary; Thomas McKean, signer of the Declaration of Independence; and David Rittenhouse, first director of the U.S. Mint.

It became a cemetery where the wealthy and influential wanted to be buried. During the Civil War many members of the military, including 42 Generals were buried at Laurel Hill. Today, after several expansions, Laurel Hill covers 78 acres. (20)

Sadly after the Second World War, the cemetery became the victim of neglect and vandalism. In 1977 Laurel Hill Cemetery was added to the National Register of Historic Places. In the following year a committee was founded, Friends of Laurel Hill Cemetery, to help preserve the history and beauty of the cemetery. Founded by a direct descendant of John Jay Smith, Drayton Smith, his wife, and historian John Francis Marion, it helped to preserve the history and beauty of the cemetery, for future generations.(21) They host tours, a 5K run, and a ball to help raise funds for the cemetery.

Laurel Hill Cemetery's gatehouse built in 1835, designed by John Notman
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Patterson Monument at Laurel Hill
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Benson Mausoleum at Laurel Hill Cemetery
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Rose Hill Cemetery Chicago, IL

Rose Hill Cemetery was established in 1859.(22) The name Rose Hill was an error, it was supposed to be titled "Roe's Hill", named after Hiram Roe. The owner of the land who sold it to the city for the cemetery.

The entrance gate to the cemetery was designed by William W. Boyington, who also designed the Chicago Water Tower. He is buried in Rose Hill.(23) Entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, Rose Hill is full of beautiful, and interesting monuments.

Many well know Chicagoans are buried here as well, such as:
John D. Hertz, Sr. (1879-1961) Founder of Hertz Rent-a-Car, Richard Warren Sears (1863-1914), founder of Sears Roebuck and Company, and Aaron Montgomery (1844-1913) who founded the Montgomery Ward mail-order catalog are both interred in beautiful private rooms in Rose Hill Mausoleum.

The mausoleum was designed by Sidney Lovell (1867-1938) and dedicated in 1914. It has two levels and is made out of marble. The floors are made from Carrara marble. There are private family rooms, with beautiful bronze gates, and Tiffany stained glass windows. 

Another mausoleum to note in Rose Hill is that of the Franks. 14-year-old Bobby Franks, son of Jacob Franks was heinously murdered by his cousin, Richard Loeb and Richard's friend, Nathan Leopold, Jr. To learn more about Bobby Franks' murder please see my previous post. Legend says that young Bobby haunts the mausoleum.

Rose Hill Entrance
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Close up of one the greyhounds at the Stein Family Grave
Photo Courtesy of A. Louise Weston @ https://www.marbleorchard.com/
Check out her page for more beautiful photos of cemeteries!

Rosehill Mausoleum
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

There are cemeteries around the world are full of beauty, art, and history. Some cemeteries have become a tourist attraction along, with the Effiel Tower, and Big Ben. To quote Benjamin Franklin, "Show me your cemeteries and I will tell you what kind of people you have."  
Cemeteries can be more than places of sorrow or fear. They are a quiet oasis to many, to reflect, and decompress, a place to research history or on a tourist's list of places to see.

Credits, and Citations

1. Wikipedia contributors. "Père Lachaise Cemetery." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 31 Jul. 2015. Web. 14 Sep. 2015.

2. Wikipedia contributors. "Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 24 Jun. 2015. Web. 20 Sep. 2015.

3. Wikipedia contributors. "Highgate Cemetery." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 7 Sep. 2015. Web. 20 Sep. 2015.

4. Branley, Edward. "NOLA History: Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans - GoNOLA.com." GoNOLA.com. N.p., 06 May 2013. Web. 20 Sept. 2015. <http://gonola.com/2013/05/06/nola-history-metairie-cemetery-in-new-orleans.html>.

5. Wikipedia contributors. "Charles T. Howard." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 26 Feb. 2015. Web. 21 Sep. 2015.

6. Wikipedia contributors. "Angel of Grief." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 20 Aug. 2015. Web. 21 Sep. 2015.

7. Wikipedia contributors. "Metairie Cemetery." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 10 Sep. 2015. Web. 21 Sep. 2015.

8. Service Corporation International. "Our Business History - About SCI - Service Corporation International." Service Corporation International, 2014. Web. 20 Sept. 2015. <http://www.sci-corp.com/en-us/about-sci/our-business-history.page>.

9. "Web Brochure 2015." Arlington National Cemetery. U.S. Government, 2016. Web. 03 Feb. 2016. <http://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/>.

10. Wikipedia contributors. "John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 26 Jan. 2016. Web. 4 Feb. 2016.

11. Wikipedia contributors. "William Howard Taft." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 4 Feb. 2016. Web. 4 Feb. 2016.

12. Wikipedia contributors. "Vinnie Ream." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 17 Sep. 2017. Web.

13. "Chapter 2 - The Last Salute." Chapter 2 - The Last Salute. U.S. Army Center of Military History, 24 May 2005. Web. 04 Feb. 2016. <http://www.history.army.mil/books/Last_Salute/Ch2.htm>.

14. Wikipedia contributors. "Arlington National Cemetery." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 7 Sep. 2017. Web.

18 “History.” Laurel Hill Cemetery, 2017, thelaurelhillcemetery.org/about/history.

15. Wikipedia contributors. "Bonaventure Cemetery." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 2 Nov. 2015. Web. 7 Feb. 2016.

16. Wikipedia contributors. "John Muir." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 5 Feb. 2016. Web. 7 Feb. 2016.

17. "Little Gracie in Bonaventure Cemetery." Discover Historic America Tours. N.p., 2016. Web. 07 Feb. 2016. <http://discoverhistoricamericatours.com/savannah/historic-people/little-gracie/>.

18. The Laurel Hill Cemetery. Friends of Laurel Hill Cemetery, 2016. Web. 14 Feb. 2016. <http://www.thelaurelhillcemetery.org/index.php?flash=1>.

19. Keels, Thomas H. "Laurel Hill Cemetery." The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia. Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities, 2016. Web. 14 Feb. 2016. <http://philadelphiaencyclopedia.org/archive/laurel-hill-cemetery/#4709>.

20. Wikipedia contributors. "Laurel Hill Cemetery." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 12 Jan. 2016. Web. 14 Feb. 2016.

21. Keels, Thomas H. "Laurel Hill Cemetery." The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia. Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities, 2016. Web. 14 Feb. 2016. <http://philadelphiaencyclopedia.org/archive/laurel-hill-cemetery/#4709>.

22. Hucke, Matt. "Rosehill Cemetery and Mausoleum." Rosehill Cemetery and Mausoleum. N.p., 2010. Web. 28 Feb. 2016. <https://graveyards.com/IL/Cook/rosehill/>.

23. Wikipedia contributors. "Rosehill Cemetery." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 24 Jan. 2016. Web. 28 Feb. 2016.

Book Citations

I. Knight, Derrick. "Introduction." Introduction. MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, THE: London's First Landscaped Cemeteries. By John Turpin. N.p.: Amberley, 2011. N. pag. Print.

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
Photo: Roadtrippers.com
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 myrtlesplantation.com
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
Photo: rootsweb.ancestry.com
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


1. http://www.mineralwellsindex.com/news/baker-team-updates-progress-on-financing-hotel-restoration/article_9749266a-50bc-11e4-ad39-a725e1577959.html

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. &lt;https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Battle_of_Gettysburg&amp;oldid=676136796&gt;.

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