Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Haunted Places (A Halloween Post)

A Mother Life

Even though a Romney presidency is the scariest thing I can think of right now, I’ve already done enough political blogging for one lifetime. Christina Majaski talked me into it. She twisted my arm. Held a gun to my head. Threatened to reveal that, as a child, I had a crush on Mr. Spock, because I love emotionally cold, unavailable men.

A couple of weeks ago I asked my Facebook fans to identify their favorite haunted places. Here are some of them.

1) Theorosa’s Bridge can be found on the outskirts of Valley Center, Kansas. It’s one of a number of haunted bridges located around the country. There are multiple versions of the story:

  • According to the oldest version, a wagon train full of settlers was crossing the river near the bridge in the late 1800s, when a gang of Indians attacked them and stole a baby, Theorosa. It’s said that the ghost of the distraught mother still roams the riverside, calling out forever for her child.
  • In another version, Theorosa is a young Native American woman, because that sounds legit. She conceives an illegitimate child with a white man, and then throws it into the river to, according to Wikipedia, “hide her shame.” The grief-stricken young mother then either throws herself into the river or gets pushed into the river by the baby’s father. Either way, she also drowns.
  • A third version of the story has the young mother standing on the riverbank, I guess maybe contemplating killing herself and/or her child, when the baby’s father appears and stabs her to death. She drops the child into the river, and dies herself.

Why do I find that so funny?

  • In yet another version, Theorosa is a local farmer’s wife who conceives the love child of a farmhand. She throws the baby into the river, then herself. In both this version and the previous one, those who stand on the bridge and say “Theorosa, Theorosa, I have your child” will be feel the ghost’s wrath.
  • In a fifth version of the story, a local husband suspects his wife of cheating on him because she has a daughter with the wrong color hair. He drowns the daughter in the creek, and then leaves his wife, taking the other children with him. In this version the wife dies of old age or whatever, but her ghost still visits the creek daily, looking for the lost child.
  • Some people say that Theorosa was a witch who got murdered, along with her baby daughter, because people were freaked out that she was a witch.

That was how people rolled, back in the day.

2) Thalian Hall in Wilmington, North Carolina is not really haunted, honestly, you guys, any “strange occurrences” on the premises are totally attributable to Thalia, Muse of Comedy, and not at all to ghosts, really.


Besides, it’s an old building, and you’re bound to get strange noises, cold spots, disembodied voices, disappearing scripts, “creeps,” the occasional apparition and, when the weather’s right, dogs mysteriously tossed off balconies into the audience below. NBD.

3) According to their website, “there are only happy ghosts at the Stanley Hotel!” Reportedly, however, Stephen King got the idea for The Shining from staying in the Stanley Hotel’s haunted room 217 when the place was almost empty. So, yeah.

Happy ghosts, indeed.

Reports of strange goings-on at the Stanley Hotel include:
  • Phantom parties in the ballroom.
  • Mysterious piano-playing.
  • Unexplained tucking-in of guests.
  • An apparition of a man standing over a guest’s bed, then running into the closet, for some reason.
  • Disappearing luggage, watches and jewelry. (Due to GHOSTS, wink wink).
  • Lights going on and off.
  • Ghostly children running through the halls, especially on the fourth floor.

Guests in room 217 have reported finding their luggage unpacked and their things put away, presumably by the ghost of Ms. Elizabeth Wilson, one of the Stanley Hotel’s early housekeepers. The hotel’s previous owners, Freelan O. and Flora Stanley, are also said to be responsible for much of the ghostly activity that goes on there.

4) The Red Top Jail in Llano, Texas is supposed to be totally haunted, even though they don’t really mention it on the town website. Founder and President of the Llano Historical Ghost Society, Kenny Hare, first experienced the Red Top Jail haunting when he spent the night there at the age of 18. Hare claims that the toilet flushed all night for no reason.

According to this totally trustworthy internet commenter, “What the city website doesn’t mention at all is that the Red Top is a very, very evil place. The most evil place I’ve ever been.”

duh Duh DUH

He goes on to insist that vagrants, blacks, and “undesirables” were hanged from one of the Red Top’s rafters, through a hole in the floor, so that they’d plummet down and dance their final jig right in front of all the prisoners in their cells. He acknowledges that The Man won’t admit to having performed these hangings, but that he totally knows they happened because “you can absolutely feel the bad energy in that place.” 

That’s a creepy story but I don’t know, though, people poop when they die. You’d think they wouldn’t want to have to mop that up. I mean, yeah, Wild West, I know, everyone was covered in poop all the time, but still, I don’t know.

And then he goes even further on to insist that the whole place is infested with black pigeons (a sign of eeeeviiilllll) and it all just falls apart right there.

You need to work on your storytelling, dood.

5) White Ladies Priory was probably founded in the late 12th century. No one knows for sure, but the architecture of the place matches that of the period.

As you can see here.

King Charles II famously stopped here during his flight from England after losing the Battle of Worcester in 1651, but that’s beyond the scope of this post. White Ladies Priory was dissolved in 1536, having fallen into disrepair and financial hardship. Visitors to the area report mysterious whispers, music, and rustling sounds. Birmingham Ghosts and Hauntings UK (BGAH) have investigated White Ladies Priory, and report the presence of strange lights, white apparitions, and “light taps to the head.”

This anonymous internet commenter swears that Satan-worshippers perform their rites at White Ladies Priory (oh, those crazy Satan-worshippers!). She also reports a feeling of being watched while on the premises, and insists that the place was burned down by parties pursuing King Charles II, resulting in the deaths of many children, although I can’t find any of that in the histories and also, it doesn’t make much sense.

Kids hang out in old churches all the time, right?

6) Mary King’s Close can be found in the Old Town district of Edinburgh, Scotland. Extra points if you know how to pronounce “Edinburgh.”

It’s named after Mary King, daughter of Alexander King, who owned properties in the close in the 1600s. New archeological evidence shows that Mary King’s Close evolved from several narrow streets bordered by seven-story tenement houses. Rumors of hauntings in the close have circulated since the 1600s. Legend has it that the spirits haunting Mary King’s Close are those of plague victims walled up inside and left to die, or tossed into the walls. Some attribute the strange sightings in Mary King’s Close to the presence of swamp gas from the nearby Nor Loch.

The ghosts of your underwear.

7) The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, also known locally as the Weston State Hospital, can be found in Weston, West Virginia, about 15 miles from where I grew up. Have I been there? Yes. Is it haunted? Perhaps. It’s totally been on Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures and I think they even let people spend the night in there, for the right price.

Construction began in 1858, but was interrupted by the outbreak of the Civil War. The hospital was completed in 1864 and the first patients were admitted. The grounds contained a dairy, waterworks, cemetery, farm and gas well. Designed to hold 250 patients, the hospital had 717 patients by 1880, and by the 1950s, it contained more than 2,600 patients. They lived with inadequate sanitation, lighting, heat, or furnishings. Apparently there were just all kinds of murdering and torturing going on in there, and people were kept in cages, and everything. The hospital was closed in 1994, and the few remaining patients were moved to a new facility. Plans to convert the building into a prison never materialized. It was auctioned off in 2007, and is now open to the public for tours and events.

My friend had her wedding there. Creepy. ~ Tim Kiser