Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My Uncommon Home


Dear Lon,

I have been meaning to write to you and describe some bizarre and on-going experiences I have had while living in a small, 3 bedroom brick ranch home in the suburbs of Atlanta, GA. Most all these incidents have occurred inside this home, which in all respects is very mundane and ordinary. There is nothing sinister about the appearance or atmosphere of this residence. I have been living here quite comfortably for 27 years, yet there are occasions when things happen in this house which can't be easily explained away.

Among the first incidents I remember distinctly was one night as my then-wife and I were lying in bed, I felt a very sharp downward tug on the bed covers. The feeling was as if someone was crouched down at the foot of the bed and had just grabbed a handful of the covers and tugged them once, sharply, toward the floor. This movement was very firm, it was not just a wrinkle falling out of the covers, or me having a dream. I was wide awake at the time. Though I waited for something else to happen, nothing did, and that was the end of that particular incident.

There have been plenty of occasions where some item would suddenly disappear from its normal location, be gone for days or even weeks, and then reappear in its proper place, or well hidden in some unexplained spot around the house. One particular incident that stands out from many years ago was my driver's license was missing from my wallet. I searched all over the house and in my car, it was not to be found anywhere. A few days later, my driver's license was back in my wallet, but instead of in the compartment with the plastic window, the driver's license was just placed in the wallet alongside my cash.

Among the more startling things that have happened have been our television turning on by itself. This has happened several times, almost always when I'm alone in the house. One time in particular was very odd, because I had been working and doing errands around the house. Those errands had me entering and leaving the living room on several trips, but it was not until I had finished all my chores and walked into the living room to sit down and watch television that it came on by itself! I looked down and verified the TV remote was sitting on the coffee table untouched and in good working order.

There seems to be a slight increase in activity around Christmas time, as I have noticed on more than one occasion items will suddenly move of their own accord. I caught a slight movement out of the corner of my eye one holiday season and noticed that an extension cord which we had used to set up a table display had started to sway on its own.

On one occasion after my divorce from my first wife while I was living here alone, I heard the sound of something scratching around in my bedroom closet one night. As I listened, the scratching sound became louder and more active. Finally, believing it had to be a rodent that was possibly chewing on something in there, I got up and searched through the closet. I found nothing in the closet, nor the rest of the room to explain the noises. On many other occasions I've heard a lot of heavy movement in the attic. The attic of this house is quite small; you can not stand up anywhere in this attic and it is also quite packed with boxes. There is no way any one of normal size could move around much up there, but yet I've often heard the sounds of what could only be a full-sized person moving all around up there, seemingly trying to make as much racket as possible while doing so. I have gotten up and gone up into the attic to check things out, but have never seen or heard anything when I did. I want to emphasize that these sounds are not rats, squirrels, bats, etc. or some other small critters; these sounds are being made by something weighing what a full-grown adult would weigh.

As you can tell, the vast majority of these unexplained events are just curious and do not exhibit any overt signs of evil or any bad intent toward my present girlfriend, our animals or myself. However, there are some incidents that continue to occur on a very regular basis that have brought much distress to my girlfriend. Often when she is the first to retire at night, she will get back up very agitated within a few minutes and tell me there are people in the bedroom that are bothering her. She has some psychic sensitivity and swears someone who had lived in the house previously had been involved in some type of witchcraft or experimentation with Ouija Boards, because she was sure a portal had been opened in the room we were now using as our bedroom. She claims this portal remained open because some previous resident or guest in the home had probably buried some talisman or spirit object in the crawlspace under the house. I have been under the house on odd occasions through the years but have never found any evidence of something buried there, yet she believes this portal is open and is the entryway for these undesirable entities to come in.

Whatever the source of these manifestations, they have greatly affected my girlfriend. She is very uncomfortable sleeping in the bedroom and even has had some of these experiences while I'm in the room with her. I can not sense these things myself, and sadly, having me there with her does not always ease her suffering. I've suggested to her that as someone who has at least some psychic ability, she should learn how to protect herself from these entities or people, but she claims she is unable to find any source of protection to stop this from happening to her.

This is by far the most disturbing aspect of the incidents and obviously I find it very distressing to have this continuing to occur on a pretty regular basis, but I've been at a loss as to exactly how to put an end to it. I'm aware that sometimes bringing in a priest or someone to cleanse a home will actually provoke even more activity rather than ending it, so she continues to have to deal with this and neither of us quite know what to do.

One other incident that happened just prior to my moving here is also worthy of mentioning here. I was living in a small wood-frame house in a neighboring town. This place had its share of strange noises at night, including some very discernible footsteps that would come up the wooden steps from the basement. One night while living there alone, I was in bed prior to falling asleep when I felt something press down on the right side of the bed near my feet. It felt exactly as if a small child, maybe about 40 pounds or so in weight, had sat down on the edge of the bed. This was needless to say very disconcerting and I was quite taken aback. However, nothing else happened. At some point, as odd as it may sound, I eventually just fell asleep without ever reaching down to see if I could feel anything there or getting up and turning on a light to ensure my safety, although when it happened I was pretty shaken. I still don't know how or why I just laid there without reacting until I fell asleep, but that's what happened.

I've been told the previous resident of my present home, an elderly woman, had become ill and died here. There is ample evidence she loved this home and was quite attached to it. There are still many plants and shrubs growing around the lot which she planted herself. Perhaps she is still here and makes her presence known with these incidents to let us know we're not alone. If she is still here, for the most part she has been a very congenial, non-threatening member of the household and I have no problem sharing the place with her so long as she doesn't make trouble.

The above incidents are true. I have been an ardent researcher of all things paranormal/unexplained all my adult life and I have to admit it's been extremely interesting for me to have some real-life unexplained incidents of my own which, if nothing else, have given me irrefutable proof these incidents happen, quite probably happen to everybody, but some people take note of it and other people just ignore or dismiss these things.

Sincerely,

Steve A.

Better Haunted Homes and Gardens

House of Spirits and Whispers: The True Story of a Haunted House

Haunted Georgia: Ghost Stories and Paranormal Activity from the State of Georgia (Haunted States Series)

Haunted Georgia: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Peach State (Haunted Series)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Haunted Locations and Legends


I will occasionally post a collection of ghostly tales from the past...enjoy:

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Malayan House Comes 'Alive' at Night

Many flock to Jalan Bellamy for the Ikan Bakar while others may recognise the road as home to one of the country’s oldest international school, Alice Smith.

The road has not changed much since the country’s pre-independence days and remains a quiet path that most city dwellers do not use.

With old government quarters hidden by the large trees on the road, the aroma of fish being grilled waft out from Gerai Seri Menanti and Seri Melaka while the chatter and laughter of children from the Alice Smith school livens up the atmosphere.

Rosemary Alder Duckworth who lived at 5, Jalan Bellamy from 1947 to 1949 remembers the days when housing was scarce in post-war Malaya and when most houses on the street housed two or more families.

“A few families would share a home and we were very surprised to find house No 5 empty.

“We moved in but for the next two-and-half years, we had a lot of problems, especially with servants who would just disappear in the night without even collecting their pay,” said Duckworth.

She had come to Malaya with her family when her father, Frederick Victor Duckworth, was appointed the last British adviser of Selangor.

The family managed to trace a few of their former workers and they recounted tales of paranormal activities that took place in the servants quarters and kitchen.

“We then realised that the house was not snapped up because it was considered haunted. Many of the servants told us that they would be jolted awake from sleep and see blinding lights circling on top of them. Some said they even saw vegetables flying around the kitchen,'' said Duckworth.

She had the chance to speak to the Richardson family who had lived in the house before the war and they confirmed the unusual sightings in the house.

“Corinne Richardson was one of those who lived in the house and she related an incident that took place one night.

“She told me she was awakened by loud banging noises and saw an old Chinese man standing next to her bed. Corinne’s sister, who was in the room, also saw the man,” said Duckworth.

“Corinne asked the man what he wanted but there was no reply and the man just walked away. The banging noises, however, continued. Corinne told her parents and although they looked everywhere, the man was not found.''

The Richardsons later found out that at the exact time that Corinne saw the old man, the chief of a nearby village on Jalan Bellamy had passed away.

“When she was shown a picture of the village chief, Corinne recognised him as the old man who had appeared in her room.''

During the Duckworth family’s stay at the house, the haunting worsened and they had to conduct an exorcism ceremony.

Other than this, the family enjoyed their stay on the quaint Bellamy road.

“It was a very quiet and nice residential area with big trees. said Duckworth.

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Girl's Ghastly Death Leads to Haunting Legend


Prosperous times in Niagara County came in the first half of the 1800s and brought many beautiful homes and mansions, some rumored to be haunted.

A mansion on a hill in Lockport's Lowertown briefly claimed a reputation as haunted due to the tragic fire death of a young girl. Mrs. Albert Gagliardi lived in the house as a youngster in the early 1900s and wrote a 500-word essay about it.

Edward Bissel built the Gagliardi house in 1829, according to late County Historian Clarence O. Lewis. A flourmill owner, Bissel decided to build his house high on a hill opposite the Lake Avenue Bridge over the Erie Canal.

The next year, Dr. Jonah Skinner, the first Lowertown doctor, built his house next door. Later that year, Judge Nathan Dayton built his elegant home on the same hill.

Bissel sold his house to Albany Land Company Agent Lot Clark, who in September of 1835 put it on the market with this ad in the Niagara Courier: "Valuable property for sale. The house and lot formerly occupied by Edward Bissel with adjoining lands are offered at a bargain. The house is one of the best built and best furnished in the western part of this state. It is pleasantly situated near other fine dwellings and good society. The out buildings consist of a barn, stables and carriage house. A garden and an orchard of choice fruit adjoins the house; also 40 acres of land. Apply to Lot Clark."

Rev. Piedmont, Mrs. Gagliardi's father, bought the house in 1917. She wrote, "Way up on a hill in the center of an acre of land stood a huge stone house with four Roman pillars holding up the front veranda."

This was her first impression of their new home. The second came moments later when, on their way up the hill to the house, they saw a sign tacked to a tree with huge black letters proclaiming "Haunted House."

Some time before the turn of the century, the rumor went, a young couple with two children, a 9-year-old girl and a baby, occupied the house. One night, the young girl was left alone to watch the baby while the mother ran an errand. Somehow a kerosene lamp overturned, starting a fire in the baby's crib. The girl ran over and beat out the flames around the baby, but her clothing caught fire. She dashed toward the front door but collapsed in the hall there and died.

This tragedy caused the mother to have a breakdown, and she was admitted to a mental institution. The fire burned the wainscoting in the front hall, and the charred boards were replaced but were not an exact match, so it was obvious where the fire had occurred.

Mrs. Gagliardi said the side door consisted of a huge window that went to the floor: "One had to reach down, grasp a handle and pull the window up, step inside and pull the window down."

Beautiful marble fireplaces graced all 17 rooms on the two floors, including the large kitchen. The ceilings were 14 feet high.

"Now the stairs were what really fascinated us. They were winding stairs starting from the first floor and winding their way to the second floor and then to the attic. If one stood at the bottom one could see the attic door.

"The whole stairway and banister and rail were made of the finest black walnut. At the rear of the second story were the servants quarters consisting of a kitchen and four bedrooms."

Many beautiful homes were built in the Lockport area due to prosperity brought by the opening of the Erie Canal. Likewise, commerce brought prosperity to Lewiston, accounting for many fine homes built there.

A Lewiston resident, Mrs. Lucy W. Hawes, wrote a glowing description of the fine Lewiston homes in 1887. She wrote, "Lewiston had advantages denied to other Western New York communities. Her main or Center Street was the great overland route across the continent.

"Great lines of stages loaded with travelers headed for Niagara Falls. Lewiston was the custom port and the distributing post office. Sometimes 30 ox teams conveyed merchandise up the Portage Road to Niagara Falls and Buffalo." About the homes, she wrote, "Nearly every house had its hand carved walnut stair rail, high ceilings, floor length windows, candelabra, pianos, marble fireplaces in every room and other evidence of the prevailing prosperity of that early period."

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The Chase Vault (Moving Coffins of Barbados)

There is a vault in a West Indies cemetery that prefers its coffins in disarray. An entire family was buried within - the Chase family. One by one, family members both young and old would die and be carefully placed in their eternal resting place - until the father (rumoured to be one of the most hated men on the island) was interred. When the ground keepers opened the door to store him within, all the coffins seemed to have scattered themselves about the floor.

The strange occurrence happened again and again. Some reports say people could actually hear the coffins moving themselves while locked inside the cement sealed vault.

Many a strange thing has happened in the West Indies - not the least of which is the case of Barbados' self-moving coffins. The story goes that the family Chase had a crypt in a local cemetery to hold all the family members who'd passed on. The first to be housed in the edifice was Mrs. Thomasina Goddard in or around 1807. She was followed by two year old Mary Ann Chase in 1808 and then by another child - Dorcas Chase in 1812.

Those coffins were all very well behaved until the family head - Thomas Chase - was to be placed inside. Thomas, as we've already stated, is said to have been one of the more despised men on the island. When the crypt was opened to place him inside, the other coffins seemed to have moved themselves from their orderly places.

Those in the funeral party were angered at the finding, supposing heartless robbers to be responsible. This thought was soon abandoned as nothing was missing from the coffins, nothing of value had been placed inside in the first place, and (most significantly) the door to the burial site was a huge stone cemented in place. To open it, the cemetery workers quite literally had to do so with a hammer and chisel. The stone was also said to have been so big, a team of at least four men would be needed to move it. Confused, the townspeople placed the freshest body inside and resealed the vault.

The newest coffin was a 240 lb. lead coffin, an extremely difficult thing to toss about for anyone looking to drag it around until money fell out.

In 1816 another burial was to take place - this time for eleven year old Charles Brewster Ames. Again the coffins were everywhere but in their proper places. The 240 lb. lead coffin of Thomas Chase was also in the wrong location. The crypt had been completely sealed and, again, had no signs of tampering or forced entry.

52 days later, another burial was to take place in the crypt. A large crowd gathered for this one, and they weren't disappointed. This time the cement-sealed door was closely examined before opening, with no strange findings. Again the coffins had thrown themselves about. There was a difference this time in that the first coffin that had been placed inside - the only one made of wood - had been badly damaged by the tussle. A reverend was called in to check the scene, but left with no new insight. Once again the vault was sealed.

In 1819 another family burial was needed. The vault was opened with all the same results - except the wooden one found damaged the last time had not been moved one single inch. The governor of the island (Lord Combermere) had enough at this point and ordered his own investigation - nothing was found. This time sand was scattered on the ground to catch the footprints and movements of any pranksters. The governor's own seal was placed in the hardening cement, then the vault was ordered sealed until the next family tragedy.

But the governor couldn't wait that long.

Less than a year later the head-of-state ordered the crypt opened, this time only in front of himself and several friends. The seal was perfectly intact upon arrival, but the coffins were still scattered. Some of them had even flipped upside down, and one was lying halfway up the stairs leading to the door. The sand so carefully placed before gave away no footprints or signs of water. The governor then ordered the coffins removed to a new burial site, and the crypt was left open. It's standing open and empty to this very day.

We don't know about you, but we're not scared of it at all.

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The Haunted Castle of Oldenburg Princess

The right for long-term rent of Castle of Oldenburg Princess of the 19th century – one of the main sightseeing sites of the Voronezh Region of Russia – has been put out for tender.

According to psychics and ufologists, the Castle of Oldenburg Princess is not only a sightseeing site but also an anomalous zone with strong paranormal activity: it is known that here people often fall down in a faint; rats, mice, and flies do not dwell in the castle, and besides, tourists mark sudden and frequent camera breakages.

In 1879 this estate near the Russian city of Voronezh was a wedding present of the emperor Alexander II to granddaughter of Nicolas I Grand Duchess Eugenya Romanova (married name Oldenburg). The Princess used to visit the castle very often.

After 1917 the castle’s owner migrated to France. The new Russian authorities used the building as a school, then as hospital and library. 30 years ago the building was admitted to be no longer suitable for exploitation.

Now the region’s administration hopes that a new investor will restore the castle and the nearby park and make it the main sightseeing of the Voronezh Region.

Earlier the press wrote that Prince Michael of Kent (great grandson of the Russian Tsar Alexander II) wanted to purchase the castle while being on their visit to Voronezh in spring 2007. However, Prince was refused as the local authorities explained that the castle was registered as federal property and therefore could not be sold.

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Poltergeist Forces Family to Flee Home

A poltergeist that has forced a terrified Carlisle family to flee their home is to be "cleansed" by a vicar.

Spooky happenings prompted Allison Marshall, 27, to bundle her family out of the house in Mardale Road, Raffles, in the middle of the night.

Carlisle Housing Association, which owns the property, has now arranged for a priest to step in and end the family's nightmare.

Allison and children Rebecca, three, Emily, four, Shannon, seven, and Aaron, eight, enduring a series of bizarre happenings at the house that has been her home for four years.

She and her children are now staying with her mother Lesley Whitewick, 46.

The drama began last week with a catalogue of inexplicable happenings, which included household objects hurtling around the room and sudden and unexplained drops in the temperature in the house.

They continued with the mysterious appearance of a skull image in a picture frame in a glass display cabinet and disturbing noises in the dead of night, including a child sobbing.

A family friend called in a clairvoyant, who claimed he saw the image of a child in a dressing gown.

Allison said: "I don't really want to leave the house so it would be better if they could do something to sort it out and get this thing out of my house. If they can't get rid of it I'll have to move."

In a statement, Carlisle Housing Association said: "Carlisle Housing Association takes any situation which is causing distress to its tenants seriously and will offer support and assistance where it can.

"Two members of CHA Housing Management team visited the tenant on Monday morning to assess the situation and also arranged for the local vicar to contact her separately.

"We appreciate the distress Miss Marshall has voiced and will continue to offer her our support."

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Historic Boston Hotel Has Haunted Past


The story: The third floor is the paranormal hotspot at this historic Boston hotel. Charlotte Cushman, a renowned 19th century stage actress who played both male and female roles (Lady Macbeth as well as Hamlet), died in 1876 in her room on the third floor. Now, one of the elevators often travels on its own to the third floor, even when no buttons are pushed.

More haunting: Charlotte isn't the only ghost suspected to haunt the third floor of the Omni Parker House. A businessman died in Room 303. Guests and staff have reported the smell of whiskey and raucous laughter. After a large number of guest complaints, the room was converted into a closet.



Spooky visits: Some surprised guests have reported seeing Harvey Parker, the hotel's founder, in their rooms asking about their stay. Mr. Parker died in 1884.

History and legend: The Omni Parker House was the gathering place for "The Saturday Club," a group that included Longfellow, Thoreau, Dickens and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Since Longfellow's favorite room was on the third floor, many suspect the elevator is returning him upstairs after a club meeting.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Washington Irving & American Gothic

Since my early years I have been intrigued by American folktales, especially the classic stories written by Washington Irving. The following essay incorporates an historical figure and one of Irving's best known characters into a tale that some say contains more fact than fiction.

"Behind the New Grand Hotel, in the Catskills, is an amphitheatre of mountain that is held to be the place of which the Mohicans spoke when they told of people there who worked in metals, and had bushy beards and eyes like pigs. From the smoke of their forges, in autumn, came the haze of Indian summer; and when the moon was full, it was their custom to assemble on the edge of a precipice above the hollow and dance and caper until the night was nigh worn away. They brewed a liquor that had the effect of shortening the bodies and swelling the heads of all who drank it, and when Hudson and his crew visited the mountains, the pygmies held a carouse in his honor and invited him to drink their liquor. The crew went away, shrunken and distorted by the magic distillation, and thus it was that Rip Van Winkle found them on the eve of his famous sleep." - Myths and Legends of Our Own Land - Complete- Charles M. Skinner - 1896

Henry Hudson and the Catskill Gnomes

On September 3rd of 1609, Henry Hudson sailed the Half Moon into the mouth of the great New York river that later bore his name. The explorer and his crew journeyed north for several days, trading with the native residents and searching for the fabled northwest passage to the Orient. By the time he reached the area that would become present-day Albany, Hudson knew that he had not found the passage for which he sought. Reluctantly, he turned the Half Moon and sailed back down the river.

That night, Henry Hudson and his crew anchored the Half Moon in the shadow of the Catskill Mountains. Around midnight, Hudson heard the sound of music floating across the mountains and down to the river. Taking a few members of his crew, he went ashore and followed the sound up and up into the Catskills. The sound of the music grew louder as Hudson and his men marched up to the edge of a precipice. To their astonishment, a group of pygmies with long, bushy beards and eyes like pigs were dancing and singing and capering about in the firelight.

Hudson realized that these creatures were the metal-working gnomes of whom the natives had spoken. One of the bushy-bearded chaps spotted the explorer and his men and welcomed them with a cheer. The short men surrounded the crew and drew them into the firelight and the dance. Hudson and his men were delighted with these strange, small creatures, and with the hard liquor that the gnomes had brewed. Long into the night, the men drank and played nine-pins with the gnomes while Henry Hudson sipped at a single glass of spirits and spoke with the chief of the gnomes about many deep and mysterious things.

Realizing at last how late it was, Hudson looked around for his men. At first, he couldn't locate them. All he saw were large groups of gnomes, laughing and joking as they sprawled around the fire. Then, to his astonishment, he recognized several of the gnomes as his crewmen! They had undergone a transformation. Their heads had swollen to twice their normal size, their eyes were small and pig-like, and their bodies had shortened until they were only a little taller than the gnomes themselves.

Hudson was alarmed, and asked the chief of the gnomes for an explanation. It was, the chief explained to Hudson, the effect of the magical hard liquor the gnomes brewed. It would wear off when the liquor did. Hudson wasn't sure that he believed the little man. Afraid of what else might happen to him and his crewman if they continued to linger in such company, Hudson hurriedly took his leave of the gnomes and hustled his severely drunken crewmen back to the Half Moon. The entire crew slept late into the morning, as if they were under the influence of a sleeping draught. When they awakened, the crewmen who had accompanied Hudson up into the Catskill Mountains, aside from ferocious headaches, were back to normal.

Hudson continued on his way down the great river, and by October 4th, the Half Moon had reached the mouth and Hudson and his crew sailed for home. In 1610, Hudson set off on another journey, searching for a northwestern passage to the Orient. Trapped in the ice through a long winter, Hudson's crew eventually mutinied and set Henry Hudson and eight of his crewmen adrift in the Hudson Bay. They were never seen again.

In September 1629, twenty years to the day that Hudson and his crew met the Catskill gnomes, a bright fire appeared on the precipice above the hollow, and dance music could be heard floating through the mountains. The Catskill gnomes spent the evening dancing, and carousing and drinking their magic liquor. At midnight, they were joined by the spirits of Henry Hudson and crew. Merry was their meeting, and the gnomes and the spirits played nine-pins all night long. Each time they rolled the ball, a peal of thunder would shake the mountains, and the fire would flare up in bolts like lightening. The party lasted until daybreak, at which hour the spirits departed from the hills, with promises to return.

Every twenty years, the spirits of Henry Hudson and his crew returned to the Catskill Mountains to play nine-pins with the gnomes, and to look out over the country they had first explored together on the Half Moon. Now and then, one of the Dutch settlers living in the region came across the spirits as they played nine-pins. They claimed that any man foolish enough to drink of the spirits' magic liquor would sleep from the moment the spirits departed the mountain to the day they returned, twenty years later. Most folks discounted the story, although several members of Rip Van Winkle's family swore it was true. True or false, wise folks who walk among the Catskills in September do not accept a drink of liquor when it is offered to them. Just in case. - Spooky New York: Tales of Hauntings, Strange Happenings, and Other Local Lore- S. E. Schlosser

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Washington Irving's Mysterious Home

Click for video

<-- Is this a ghost? Could it be the apparition of Washington Irving?

TP - On June 26, 2010, 14-year-old Rachel Lambert saw something a bit unusual in a photograph she took earlier during her trip to Washington Irving's Sunnyside.

After seeing Tim Burton's film, "Sleepy Hollow," Rachel pursued her interest in the paranormal and convinced her family to take a trip from Rotterdam, N.Y. to see what the town of the horseman is really like.

They ended up wandering the estate of Tarrytown's Sunnyside and as they did, Rachel saw something strange in a window of Irving's cottage. She snapped a picture and moved on, as not to miss any of their tour guide's fascinating historical speech. When Rachel got home the next night and viewed the picture on the 27-inch screen of her computer, she found that the creator of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow had not let her down (see attached video).

She and her family were able to make out a figure that looks like the head and upper body of a ghost holding a quill pen. Rachel determined that before her eyes was a picture of the ghost of Washington Irving.

Rachel's father Ed believes that his daughter's sighting of the spirit may not have been a sheer streak of luck. Just before the family stopped outside the cottage, they were having a conversation with the guide about Rachel's achievements as an English honors student and her dream of becoming a writer. They additionally spoke about her interest in Sleepy Hollow and how she had planned out sights to see and goals for the trip, which included stopping at Washington Irving's grave in the Sleepy Hollow cemetery beforehand. The family thinks that Irving's spirit may have overheard this conversation and acted. Perhaps Irving's thoughts were, "I'm gonna let her see this and do this for an aspiring author," as Rachel's father put it.

When Historic Hudson Valley, the organization entrusted to maintain the estate, was contacted, spokesperson Rob Schweitzer said he was "unaware" of any ghosts at the estate.

But some ghost enthusiasts maintain the Sunnyside is known for holding the spirit of Washington Irving.


"The legend says he still haunts the house," said Donna Davies, of Haunted Hudson Valley. "He passed away in the house. If he was going to haunt any place he would haunt Sunnyside."

Another ghost hunter, Linda Zimmermann, has written many books on the hauntings in the Hudson Valley and agrees with Davies' assessment in her book Ghost Investigator: Hauntings of the Hudson Valley, Volume 1:

* "Irving made his home at Sunnyside in Tarrytown. Some people claim that to this day, he still resides in his beautiful mansion. That are reports that Irving's spirit walks the halls and rooms of Sunnyside, and that he particularly favors the tower know as the Pagoda. It seems to be poetic justice that the man most know for his ghost story would pass on and create one of his own."

Rachel was certainly excited by this sighting and claims that she is now even more interested in Sleepy Hollow, Irving and ghost stories. As for her parents, Rachel's mother emphasized that they have always been open about the paranormal with their children and allowed them to explore its possibility rather than fear it.

Ed however, stated that he always thought there could be a potential for the spirit world, but that there are also other scientific ways to explain such mystical events. "Do we make these things up in our minds or are they there?" he initially thought. But after taking several close looks at the photograph he said, "I think it's there."

Many family members and friends that were shown Rachel's photograph were similarly shocked by the image and questioned their ideas about the spiritual world.

"I think it made some people believers," said Ed Lambert.

Some even said that it looks like there are several ghosts in the image, besides Irving's spirit. The Lambert family believes that some kind of paranormal investigation should be done to determine what is really in the photograph and at Sunnyside.

The Lambert family plans to return to Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown in the fall to see the scenery of the season, and perhaps to further explore the possibility of the supernatural in the villages.

Although Rachel is likely to also pursue her interest in the paranormal elsewhere, her recent experience and haunting souvenir caused her to admit, "I think there's something special about Sleepy Hollow.

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The Legend of Sleepy Hollow


Ichabod Crane, a Connecticut schoolteacher, arrives in Sleepy Hollow in 1790 and is immediately attracted to the supernatural tales told by the area’s Dutch housewives, particularly the tale of a headless horseman. According to the story, he is a Hessian cavalryman who was decapitated during a battle in the American Revolution. Each night he rides out searching for his lost head.

Crane also spends his time pursuing a young woman, Katrina Van Tassel, the "plump," 18 year-old daughter and sole child of a wealthy farmer. This infuriates a rival for Katrina’s hand, “Brom Bones" Van Brunt, a handsome but rather rowdy and brutish man who subjects Crane to ridicule.

One Autumn night after attending a party at the Van Tassel home, Crane encounters the headless horseman near a bridge and the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. A pursuit through the countryside follows during which the spectral horseman hurls his “head” at Crane. The next day the schoolteacher is missing, leaving behind a riderless horse, a trampled saddle, Crane’s hat, and a smashed pumpkin.

Irving leaves it to the reader to decide if the horseman was an actual specter or Van Brunt in disguise.

The Sleepy Hollow Cemetery


The cemetery in Sleepy Hollow is a beautiful Victorian era cemetery with many hills and valleys in a gothic park-like atmosphere, situated on the east side of the Hudson River. It contains the final resting place of Washington Irving, the author of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow – Ichabod Crane's encounter with the Headless Horseman. Washington Irving wrote, in a letter addressed to the editor of Knickerbocker Magazine, “I send you herewith a plan of a rural cemetery projected by some of the worthies of Tarrytown, on the woody hills adjacent to the Sleepy Hollow Church. I have no pecuniary interest in it, yet I hope it may succeed, as it will keep that beautiful and umbrageous neighborhood sacred from the anti-poetical and all-leveling axe. Besides, I trust that I shall one day lay my bones there.” Washington Irving’s gothic revival home, known as Sunnyside, is situated not far from his gravesite, along the Hudson River.

Also buried at the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery are other luminaries such as: Andrew Carnegie, Walter Chrysler, William Rockefeller, and Elizabeth Arden. The television series “Dark Shadows”, which featured vampire Barnabas Collins, witches, ghosts, and other supernatural creatures, inspired a film, “House of Dark Shadows”. In the film, Lyndhurst, a gothic revival mansion in nearby Tarrytown, was the Collinwood estate and a mausoleum in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery was shown as the Collins family tomb. The cemetery is rather renowned and guided tours are offered in October. It is also adjacent to the cemetery of the Old Dutch Church, which is the resting place of those who inspired Irving's characters of Katrina Van Tassel, Brom Bones, and the headless Hessian soldier.

Sources:
tarrytown.patch.com
longislandgothic.com
classic-american-fiction.suite101.com
wordcraft.net


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Legendary Sleepy Hollow

Where the Ghosts are

A British ghost investigator named Dean James Maynard visited Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow in the summer of 2005 and called the area “the most haunted place in the world.”

Who and where are the ghosts? Here is a guide to the apparitions and places where they reportedly reside. Should you see a ghost or hear about one we haven't mentioned, please let us know.

Ghosts and places where you might encounter them:

1. Washington Irving (1783-1859)

Washington Irving was the first American writer to gain old world respect and recognition for the new world’s literature; he bought consciousness of fantasy, ghosts, goblins and the supernatural to American fiction. He experienced periods of gloom and obsession with death during his lifetime. His ghost has been reportedly seen in a window of a bedroom that faces the Hudson River and also in his study located on the east side of the cottage, away from the river. The Complete Tales Of Washington Irving19th Century American Literature)

2. Washington Irving’s fiancee Matilda Hoffmanm

Irving’s shy and beguiling fiancĂ©e is said to haunt a trove of trees from which she watches Irving’s cottage. She died on April 26, 1809 at the age of 17 from complications from a cold that led to consumption. Sunnyside

3. The five caring nieces of Washington Irving

They were the daughters of Irving’s elder brother Ebenzer. After the visitors are gone, they still tidy the house. Sunnyside

4. The woman who ate green apples

A young woman, suffering from a lost love, wandered through the orchard, ate too many green apples, died and stayed as a ghost according to Washington Irving III, great-great grandnephew of Washington Irving. Sunnyside

5. The Headless Horseman, a mercenary Hessian trooper

Washington Irving’s famous character was a mercenary Hessian trooper whose head was blown away by a cannon ball during the American Revolution. He returns at night to the scene of the battle. Take cover if you hear hoofbeats. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

6. Abraham Martling, Washington Irving’s inspiration for Brom Bones

Old Dutch Burying Ground, Sleepy Hollow

7. Eleanor van Tassel Brush, Washington Irving’s model for Katrina

She was the love interest of Ichabod Crane and Brom Bones. Old Dutch Burying Ground, Sleepy Hollow

8. Baltus Van Tassel, father of Eleanor van Tassel Brush

Old Dutch Burying Ground, Sleepy Hollow

9. Samuel Youngs, Washington Irving’s model for Ichabod Crane

He was a schoolteacher and later a lawyer. Ichabod Crane was met by the Headless Horseman in the vicinity of Patriot’s Park; the route of their chase has been guessed at but the timber bridge has long since been gone. An existing bridge called the Headless Horseman Bridge over the Pocantico River at North Broadway (identified by a metal blue sign with yellow lettering) is not where the encounter took place; this bridge was erected around 1912. Old Dutch Burying Ground, Sleepy Hollow and Patriot’s Park, Tarrytown

10. Henry Hudson and his Half Moon crew

The ghosts of Henry Hudson and his crew play ninepins upstate at Kaaterskill Falls where Rip Van Winkle napped for 20 years and missed the American Revolution. That's a long trip but visitors can see the bronze statue of a reclining life-size Rip Van Winkle in Irvington. Hudson's crew haunts Kaaterskill Falls in the Catskill Mountains. The statue however is on Main Street next to the town hall in Irvington, NY.

11. Revolutionary War Major John Andre

Major John Andre was caught by three American militiamen with papers describing the defenses at West Point. His conspiracy with Benedict Arnold exposed, he was sentenced to death by hanging. Angry at both the Americans for denying his request to be executed by firing squad and the British for refusing an offer of exchange for Benedict Arnold, he died in a rage. His ghost is said to roam Patriot’s Park where he can be heard reciting a poem he penned that was published in the Riverton’s Gazette on the day he was captured. In the poem, he wrote, “What hero could refuse to tread the rugged path to fame.” Patriot’s Park, Tarrytown.

12. Brigadier General Anthony Wayne

General Anthony Wayne, who carried out the order to hang Major Andre, was the commander of the American forces assigned to patrol the Hudson River. His ghost is said to haunt the riverfront but out of respect for Andre’s ghost, it carefully avoids Patriot’s Park. Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow waterfronts.

13. Hulda the Witch

An immigrant from Bohemia, shunned and feared by her Tarrytown neighbors, she fired on British troops with deadly accuracy during the American Revolution. After killing many redcoats, she fell mortally wounded. Later, her neighbors discovered a will in her home leaving her money and possessions to the widows of patriots who died during the war. Old Dutch Burying Ground, Sleepy Hollow

14. Captain Kidd (1654-1701)

A notorious pirate whose gold and buried treasure is still sought, some of which may have been buried along the Hudson River. His ship stopped at or near Tarrytown where he had dealings with wealthy local merchants. He was hanged by the British on May 23, 1701. Exact locations unknown

15. The crew of Captain Kidd’s pirate ship, the Adventure Galley

When Captain Kidd buried gold and other loot, his crew members drew lots. The losers were killed and their bodies were placed on on top of the treasure chests to repel intruders. As ghosts, they remain fierce sentries destined to guard Kidd’s treasures forever. Exact locations unknown

16. A woman mistaken as Captain Kidd’s bride

She was captured in Tarrytown, tried for piracy and executed. She is believed to be either a traveler who booked passage to Tarrytown looking for work or or a slave or servant intended for a rich merchant. Her ghost proclaims her innocence as she waits for the vessel that brought her to Tarrytown believing it is coming to her rescue. Tarrytown’s river edge

17. The pirate whose skull was battered by Captain Kidd

In a fit of rage, Captain Kidd killed a member of his crew by striking him with an iron water bucket. Kidd was hung for the murder of this sailor, not for piracy. Tarrytown’s river edge

18. An intoxicated villager

He was a local resident who lost his balance and drowned while attempting to navigate his rowboat across the Tappan Zee; boaters say he often waves to passing vessels. Tarrytown waterfront

19. Five young women slain by a mad monk

Five innocent young women, believed to be virgins, died at the hands of a mad monk. Tarrytown near Sunnyside cottage

20. The mad monk accused of murdering the five young women

Before he could be tried, the monk was killed by a house servant, the lover of one of the five women, who then sealed the monk’s body in the manor’s walls. The house was owned by John Jacob Astor, a close friend of Washington Irving and at one time, the richest man in America. Tarrytown near Sunnyside cottage

21. The Armour-Stiner house’s odoriferous guest

This ghost exudes an “exquisite and unidentifiable fragrance” according to a passage in a book written by poet and historian Carl Carmer, best known for his autobiographical book, “Stars Fell on Alabama.” The ghost’s identity is unknown but it is believed to be either Aleko E. Lilius, a Finnish writer and explorer, or the woman he cohabited with, a 20th-century lady pirate who made a fortune plundering vessels in the China Seas. Theories have also arisen that the ghost is Paul J. Armour, the New York banker who built the house in 1860, or Joseph Stiner, a wealthy tea merchant who bought it in 1872. An eight-sided domed and colonnaded structure in Irvington built in 1860 and resembling a classic Roman temple

22. Sybil Harris King, known as “the apparition in white”

She was the daughter of Benjamin Newton Duke, co-founder of the American Tobacco Company. She has been heard pacing up and down the second-floor hallways of the King House in Tarrytown. She was married to Frederick King, son of Thomas King, vice president of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, the country’s first major railroad. She died in 1955. Located on the grounds of the 26-acre Tarrytown House Estate and Conference Center

23. The woman who froze to death at Raven Rock

She lost her way during a storm and became trapped by blinding snowdrifts in the hill behind the rock. Her wailing, similar to the sound of the wind, warns travelers not to seek safety here. Raven Rock, a precipitous outcrop on Buttermilk Hill located on the Rockefeller estate

24. The Indian maiden who died at Raven Rock

She fell or leaped to her death from Raven Rock when pursued by Tory raiders. In another version of this story, it is said she was fleeing a jealous admirer. Raven Rock, a precipitous outcrop on Buttermilk Hill located on the Rockefeller estate

25. The engineer of Lincoln’s funeral train

It is said that once a year in April, a 14-car black funeral train with a ghost at the throttle sounds a deafening whistle as it approaches Sunnyside. The piercing sound wakes Irving’s ghost as the train chugs toward Tarrytown carrying Abraham Lincoln’s body, just as his funeral train did in 1865 when it traveled from New York City to Buffalo and eventually to Springfield, Ohio, Lincoln’s final burying place. Sunnyside cottage - tarrytown.patch

Washington Irving : History, Tales, and Sketches: The Sketch Book / A History of New York / Salmagundi / Letters of Jonathan Oldstyle, Gent. (Library of America)19th Century American Literature)

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