Sunday, July 29, 2012

My View of The Most Famous Haunted Places in the U.S. PART I:

Haunted Places

I'm sorry that it has taken me so long to get this post up for everyone that asked for it. I have been sick, on vacation, sick again and had a week's worth of writer's block. When I finally felt like writing, I was 5 hours into writing this when something happened and the whole post got deleted and then chose to auto-save at that very moment. I almost did not start over...but fortunately, I've wanted to do this one for quite some time now so much that my need for it to go public won. There is no way to get all that I want to write about on this one post so there may be a Part II in the near future. 
If I was rich, I would visit every single one of these places and write about my personal experiences...and that's to say I live through them! But for now, we will have to go with what I already know, what I've researched and what other experiences have to tell us! Ready for Part I? 

This is The Stanley Hotel & one of my very favorite places and on the very top of my list to visit first. It is located in Estes Park, Colorado. It was first opened in 1909 by a man named Freelan Oscar Stanley. I guess I could be a little biased here because this hotel gave Stephen King the inspiration to write the novel/movie "The Shining" while he personally stayed there in Room 217. Although this is not where he wrote the book, it is where the mini-series was shot and filmed. There is very little history as to why The Stanley is haunted. It's very secretive and mysterious. Hotel Workers and Guests reported the Piano playing in the ballroom when no one was in there. The employees say that it is the wife of Mr. Stanley who is playing. The Fourth floor is said to have the most activity. Guests staying on this floor reported the sound of children's laughter and playing in the hallways late at night. People who have stayed in Room 418, which is said to be the most haunted room, have said that a man appears standing beside their bed only to disappear seconds later. While filming the movie "Dumb & Dumber," Jim Carrey stayed in the same room Stephen King did (room 217). After only 2 hours later, he went to the front desk carrying his bags and told them he wouldn't stay a minute longer. After checking out, he stood on the porch and waited for his driver. Tour Guides tell the story of a small child seen by many of the Staff in areas of the old hotel. Stephen King also saw the child, who was calling out to his nanny on the second floor. This hotel reports that it is haunted by at least 12 different ghosts, including the founder. Room 401 is haunted by a ghost thief. Guests who have stayed in that room have reported numerous things missing when they have not even left their rooms. Now...I'm not sure if all of this is true or not, but if Stephen King says it is than it is! 

This is the Establishment of The Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast located in Fall River, Massachusetts. Lizzie Borden is known for allegedly murdering her Father, Andrew Borden and her Step-mother, Abby Borden in 1892. Although it is very true that the murders took place inside of this home - it is not a complete truth that Lizzie Borden was the murderer. She did receive a trial but eventually was acquitted. The maid was inside of the house that day as well! My thoughts? Lizzie did it! She was extremely jealous when her wealthy father gave Abby's sister a small fortune and a house while Lizzie, 32 at the time, still lived at home. 3 days before the murders, both Andrew and Abby came down with a bout of food-poisioning from a meal that Lizzie made herself. On August 4th, her father was found on the couch in the parlor room. He had been hacked in the face and head with an ax. Abby was found, also dead, in a bedroom upstairs. She had been hacked 20 times. But is this place haunted?? The Lizzie Borden house was bought by LeAnn Wilber who has done a great job at turning the place into a fantastic Bed & Breakfast. Actual Photos of the murders hang in the appropriate rooms. There is an "in house" Ouija Board that guests have reported having actual contact with the Borden's on. On one of the first tour guides given in the house, down in the basement, a woman was scratched by an unseen spirit. Tour Guides have closed that section off now and will no longer let Guests go down there. One guests had her ear tugged on quite hard while looking at Abby's jewelry in the upstairs bedroom where Abby was killed. Numerous guests have reported hearing a woman crying in the middle of the night. This place is very famous and well-known that The Ghost Adventures team stayed the night and got some awesome EVP recordings and stories from all the guests. 

This is the Joshua Ward House located in one of my favorite places ever...Salem, Massachusetts. I figure if every haunted story ever told was false...the ones in Salem have got to be true! I can't imagine an older story told as the one of the Salem Witch Trails. What I wouldn't give to go there! This was the home of Joshua Ward, a wealthy sea captain. The house was originally owned by Sheriff George Corwin during the Witch Trials. Corwin was said to have been cursed by a man named Giles Grey. He was accused of witchcraft and was killed by Corwin himself. Some years later, Corwin died of a heart attack and was buried in the basement of his home. When it was decided that the place be demolished and rebuilt, his body was moved to the Broad Street Cemetary. The J. Ward House was then built on the foundation of Corwin's old home. Legend calls the spirit "The Witch of the J.W. House." Workers over the years have reported seeing Corwin's ghost roam the foundation. With the house vacant for many years, police have reported 60 calls in 2 years from people reporting the security alarm going off. Hopeful buyers reported seeing the candles removed from their holders and bent into "S" shapes.... but nothing quite beat what happened when Carlson Realty bought the house in the early 1980's. After moving in, they took pictures of each of their employees individually in their own offices. When the polaroids were developed, a frightening image appeared in the place of one woman's picture. A strange, black haired woman. The employee that was suppose to have been there was no where in the picture. Here is the actual photo:

The same female employee always locked her office every evening before leaving work, always to find it the next morning completely trashed. Years later when she quit, no one else ever had the same experience as she did with the office. Maybe that chick just wasn't liked...ya know?

I just can't do a Haunted Places list and not include one from the very state I live in and one I've personally visited. This is The McRaven House located in Vicksburg, Mississippi. After reading about how this was THE most haunted place in Mississippi, I was so very excited to actually get to see it in person. However, when we got there, it was closed down....and no body could tell us why. It looked the part as well. It was located at the very end of a dead end street, surrounded by a wrought iron gate. You could barely make out the house from the road because the man who owns it has let the trees and vines grow up around the house. I was very disapointed. However, that doesn't stop the legend from needing to be told here. First and foremost the house was owned by Sheriff Stephen Howard and his wife Mary Elizabeth. Mary Elizabeth died at the age of 15 inside the home, during childbirth. During the Civil War, the McRaven was used as a Confederate field Hospital and camp site. The owner at the time, John Bobb was murdered in the back of his home by 25 Union Soldiers. McRaven was eventually sold to William Murrey and his wife, Ellen Flynn. Together they had 4 daughters and 3 sons. William died inside the home in 1911, his wife in 1921. Ida, their daughter, died there in 1946 and their son in 1950. From this point on, the remaining siblings lived there together unmarried and very out of touch with the world. They met their deaths in this same house as well. At least 6 occupants have died inside the home and former owner John Bobb murdered just outside the home. Numerous Confederate Soldiers died there as well. In 1960, the McRaven was sold to the Bradway family who restored the home and opened it up to the public as a tour home. In 1984, Leyland French purchased it and was the first to actually reside in the home after many many years. 
Many reports of ghostly activities are said to spread throughout the house, but the center of activity seems to be the middle bedroom upstairs where Mary Elizabeth Howard died during childbirth. Her ghost is said to be responsible for why the light will never stay off in that room. Her ghost has said to appear on the house's flying wing staircase and in the dining room. While handling Mary Elizabeth's wedding shawl, some say it emits heat, while others claim it about jumps out of their hands. Leyland French once saw the ghost of former William Murrey and it scared him so much he locked himself in his room for the rest of the night. During an interview with Susan Spencer on 48 Hours, French said that one night while putting things away in his dresser, he heard something bang on the landing. Suddenly, the drawer slammed on his hand and broke it. That was when he called in a Priest he knew from New Orleans to come and have the house "blessed." In 2007 French put the house up for sale and as of July 2011 ( just 2 months before my visit to the McRaven) the house is closed for tours and Mr. French is not living on the property.  I can't imagine a more haunted place (besides Salem, MASS) that could be more haunted than where the Civil War took place! 

This is definitely one of the more fascinating stories in my research. This is a the story of The Bell Witch Cave located in Adams, Tennessee. If and when I get the chance, this is the second place I want to go right after the Stanley Hotel of course. This particular haunting is the only one I've found where the spirit actually harmed and killed a family member. The hauntings began in 1817 to a man named John Bell. This included the family seeing spectral creatures, hearing voices, violence and death. Particularly tormented was John Bell's daughter, Elizabeth (Betsy) Bell. She was slapped, bruised and stuck with pins. They eventually held a seance with other neighbors. The spirit identified herself as the "Witch" of Kate Batts, a neighbor and enemy of John Bell. She despised him over a disagreement of purchased slaves. The witch then started making her appearances all over Robertson County, only limiting the torment to the Bells. After 4 long years of torment, John Bell was poisoned with a mysterious black liquid. He quickly died. It is said that Kate Batts showed up at his funeral, laughing and dancing. Along with his dead, the hauntings for the rest of the family stopped and they were able to live a little more peacefully. However, the Bell Witch's spirit is said to be living in the cave right outside Adams County. Legend says that when tourists come to visit the cave, it is best not to take anything from there...or she will put a curse on you and your family, just as she did the bells. I'm assuming she has a serious issue with people stealing from her...whether it be a rock from her cave or a slave she owned back in the day! I won't be taking a souvenir back with me and that's for sure! 

I know if you guys haven't heard of any one of these places I've mentioned above...surely y'all have heard of The Amityville House located at 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, NY. This is the house where the famous DeFeo Murders took place on November 13, 1974. There were 6 family members...father, mother and 4 of the 5 children shot & killed. The killer was son, Ronald "Butch" DeFeo Jr. The story is the parents were attacked while in bed. Both parents were shot twice. The two brothers were ordered face down and shot as well. Dawn and Allison, the two sisters, were shot next. Although Butch blamed the entire thing on his sister, Dawn, saying it was all her idea and that she was really the one who shot and killed their siblings while Butch struggled with her, accidentally killing her when the gun went off, no one in their right mind believed that story, although the post mortem examination did show that she had "unburned" powder burns on her nightgown. Investigators thought that there was just no way he could have done all of these killings alone and with no outside accomplices at all. Of course, DeFeo claims he was possessed and the movie definitely leads us to believe that he was. Who knows...he might have been. Legally, nothing was ever found and no evidence of where or who the help came from was ever really found. (Probably because it was ghosts...duh) but this fact was ignored....of course! 
Although this house is famously linked to the DeFeo killings, it was originally used to house Native Americans that were crazy, sick or dying. The Indians were buried on this property...and Butch claimed that he was possessed by them. Eventually, the house went up for sale and was purchased by George and Kathy Lutz. The family claims that the keyholes oozed blood, the toilet water turned black, and nasty smells constantly flooded the house. George started to get sick and lose a lot of weight during the whole 28 days that they lived there.  The family really started to lose it when they claimed to begin actually seeing the ghosts. Eyes peering at them in the darkness and their little girl developed a friendship with "an imaginary friend" named Jodie. See all of this was in the movie, The Amityville Horror, but Hollywood added the rest. It didn't go to that extreme and the dad didn't go that crazy. After the family's departure, paranormal investigators flooded the house. They didn't deny that they immediately felt the most terror they had ever felt before from the presences in the house. The feeling was so overwhelming that at one point, a Duke professor passed out from fear.  Today, however, the house is up for sale and looks completely different with a completely different address. I guess they have to do something to get folks to buy that house! I would definitely visit this home...but I would not, and I mean, I would not stay the night there. I've followed this story since I was little and as much as I love horror...the Amityville story scares me way too much! Here is a photo of the house today...

I still wouldn't buy it...would you??

Like I said earlier, I will definitely plan on doing a Part II on this sometime in the near future. Here are some quick interesting wrap ups I found before I go...
  • The Devil's Tree in Benards Township in New Jersey. It is said to be one of the old headquarters of the Ku Klux Klan An area surrounding the tree is said to give off unnatural warmth where snow doesn't seem to stick in the dead of winter. They say that the tree has a branch that still hangs low from where the KKK would lynch people. People who have tried to cut it down or do harm to the tree have allegedly met an untimely death.
  • Tennessee State Prison is said to be haunted. A former warden describes odd voices, strange sounds, and mysterious footsteps. The location was used in the movie "The Green Mile" and in the TV-Series, "Celebrity Paranormal Project."
  • There is nothing creepier in my opinion than a good old-fashioned Insane Asylum, and Athens has one of the most famous called The Athens Lunatic Asylum located in Athens, Ohio. This hospital was operated from 1874 until 1993. It held many violent patients and is famous for being the site of hundreds of lobotomies. Since closing, the hospital has been at the center of numerous ghost stories, most of which are kept alive by the students at the University, which now owns the grounds of the asylum. The most famous of these is Margaret, a deaf-mute patient who escaped from her room, accidentally becoming trapped in an abandoned ward, and eventually died of exposure. Her decomposing body was found weeks later, and the stain that was left on the floor of the ward can still be seen today. 
I hope you guys enjoyed Part I of My Most Haunted Places. I've really enjoyed doing this blog. I'm truly fascinated by each and every place mentioned above. I've watched countless episodes of Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures...movies involving Gacy's House, etc etc etc. so doing the research on it all was amazing. And yes...kind of frightening as well. Who knows just how much of this is false and how much of it is real. Who knows how much of it we don't know at all. When trying to sell a home, I'm sure a lot of things get covered up. Like the fact that the Amityville House changed it's address and name. Although they can never cover up what really happened there....they might as well bull doze that house all together and forget about it! 
And you guys...who knows what happened in your house before you lived there....and if you built your home...who knows what use to lie on that same foundation years and years ago...who all might be buried under neath the surface. I admit, I use to live in a very old house and I was freaked out the majority of the time I lived there. Never saw anything which is why I'm not in an insane asylum myself, but I sure felt like I would at any moment. But what about you guys? Got any stories to tell? Places you know for a fact to be haunted? Let me know. You can email them to me or put them in the comment section below and I will add them to my Part II of Famous Haunted Places in the U.S. 
Until Next Time...

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  1. Thank you for sharing. The Stanley Hotel is very near to me-might need to check it out!

  2. Well, for me, there's a fine line between enjoying a possible visit to one of these places and being utterly scared!
    I loved your post, so well organized and with so much info!
    I'm definitely giving you a "call" if I ever decide to move. :)
    I'll have to agree on that idea of bulldozing the house. Eerie!

    Keep up the wonderful work!

    Andreia :)