S1 Ep. 18 Grace and Doppelgangers

Mimi’s on vacay this week, but Janine’s got some creepy stuff to share. First, explore the (now demolished) Grace General Hospital in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, where ghostly apparitions roam the nurse’s residence, searching for release. Then, enjoy a tale of double walkers, more familiarly known as doppelgangers, and the strange case of Emilee Sagee. This episode contains nostalgia, gardening and astral projection, a creepy little boy in a hospital gown, and footprints leading to nowhere.

Find this weeks episode at hauntheads.podbean.com or wherever you listen to podcasts!

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Wabana Iron Ore Mines, Bell Island, NFLD, Canada

I remember when Bell Island was a hub of activity. In the summer months, my family and I would take day trips over on the car ferry and spend the day there, topping off our trip with a tour of the ore mines. It was truly the highlight of our trip, next to a stop at the gift shop. Our last trip there was sometime in the summer of 1998 and sadly, by that time, the island tourism had appeared to slow. Although a few stragglers wandered in and out that year, it seemed as if the foot traffic had hit a low, but the stories of the Wabana Iron Ore Mines, of strange noises, lights, and apparitions, persisted.

Life on the Island

Bell Island is located on the Northern part of the Avalon Peninsula, a small block of land sticking out of the ocean that is roughly 9  km long and 3 km wide. Year round, the island can be accessed via a car ferry on The Tickle, the section of the Atlantic that lies between the island and Portugal Cove. Farming is a primary means of income for many and is second only to fishing, though not many can make a living from the sea any longer. The topsoil on the island is unusually rich and makes for a good yield. Throughout the 19th century, the seal hunt drew large crowds of men from both Bell Island and Conception Bay.

Mining History

In 1578, a merchant from Bristol, England, reported that there were very rich iron ore deposits on the island and, by 1678, soil samples were sent by Sir John Guy’s colony in Cupids to England for analysis.

By 1890, the deposits began to draw attention from outside mining interests including New Glasgow Coal, Iron, and Railroad Company (later called Nova Scotia Steel and Coal Co.). The NSSC began developing the site in 1892 at the urging of the Butler’s from Topsail. Thomas Cantley, Secretary of the NSSC, called the site Wabana. It is believed that Wabana is an Abenaki Indian word meaning “the place where daylight first appears.” Mining officially began in the Summer of 1895. The deposits at the Wabana mines fed giant steel mills in Sydney, Nova Scotia, and ore was also shipped as far as the United States and Germany.

For the most part, mining operations ran steadily, at times at an expanding pace, but WW1 (Germany being one of Bell Island’s largest purchasers of ore) and the Great Depression greatly affected the demand for ore and its price. Although many believed that modernization would help the mines, it was actually more of a hindrance. Many lost their jobs because new machinery could get the ore out of the ground and to the surface far faster than men with picks and shovels and mining carts. Though the mine experienced an upswing between 1936-59, one mine was shut down. By April of 1966, the final shaft, #3 mine, was shut down permanently. At the time of closure, Wabana was Canada’s longest operating mine project. Almost 80 million tons of ore was pulled from the earth and shipped to other parts of Canada, Germany, the United States, Belgium, and Holland.

Since the mine’s closure, many have left the island. In 2011, the total population was 2,346. Tourism is the primary industry at present, but those who live on Bell Island also farm and fish (to the best of their ability since the government crackdown.) #2 mine has been reopened for tours and many come to the island in the summer months to see what live below the ground was actually like.

To date, no outside company has made a bid to reopen the mines.

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Haunting

If you think about it, working in a mine was likely very dangerous. Heavy machinery could crush you, the ceiling could cave in, low lighting conditions might cause to to catch a pick to the head… None of the above sounds particularly pleasant or pretty, which is likely why many have experienced paranormal phenomena in #2 mine.

Visitors to the mine have reported:

Shadow figures- A visitor to the mine in 2016 reported seeing the shadow of a man standing in a lower portion of the tunnel that she was in with her tour group. She said the figure just stood and watched for a time, then vanished.

Noises- Strange noises are likely common in a mine shaft, particularly one as old as #2. Clanging and banging is often heard along with voices and a strange hissing sound.

Lights- Lights are often seen down in the mine shafts at night. At night, #2 shaft is not lit nor are any of the others (as they are not in use and sealed.) Some visitors have reported that the lights seen appear to be those similar to the older lights worn on mining helmets.

Visitors have also reported being touched on the shoulder or back and feeling cold spots throughout the mine.

Have you ever visited the Wabana mine and gone down into shaft #2? Did you have a strange experience? Please drop us a line via email or leave a comment below.

Your Fellow Haunt Head,

Janine

hauntheadscast@gmail.com

Tweet us @hauntheadscast

Facebook: Haunt Heads Podcast

Find episodes of our podcast at hauntheads.podbean.com or wherever you listen to podcasts!

S1 Ep. 17: On Location: Grant Park, Milwaukee, WI

NEW #podcast EPISODE AVAILABLE! S1 Ep. 17 On Location: Grant Park hauntheads.podbean.com #paranormal #fact or #fiction #creepy #milwaukee💀
 
Also check out hauntheads.wordpress.com for photos to accompany your listening experience. 😉
This week, Mimi and Janine (along with Mimi’s shrinky dink hubby Bill) take you into off the beaten path and into the forest. Seven Bridges has been considered a haunted location for a long time and, on this episode, the ladies will try to prove or disprove the stories told around the campfire. This episode contains SPIDERS, many screaming teens, and some nice busts.

S1 Ep. 17 Seven Bridges of Grant Park (Photos)

Thanks for taking a moment to peruse the photos we took at Grant Park on 8/5. I’ve left notes under each to kind of explain what (I think) is present. Some photos contained strange mists and halos. In one, you can almost see some sort of face peering out from the darkness. It could just be a teenager running around in the woods or might be something more. I’ll let you decide. =)

Don’t forget to take a listen to the on location episode of Haunt Heads. The pictures should pair nicely and give you a feel for the park. If you see something I didn’t, please let me know in the comments or shoot us an email at the address below!

 

Your Fellow Haunt Head,

Janine

hauntheadscast@gmail.com

Tweet us @hauntheadscast

Facebook: Haunt Heads Podcast

Find us at hauntheads.podbean.com or wherever you listen to podcasts!

Twin Strangers: The curious existence of doppelgangers.

It’s happened to me several times in the past. I’m walking around a shopping center or a grocery store and someone will tap me on the shoulder. When I turn around, I see a complete stranger staring at me quizzically. “Oh! I’m sorry! I thought you were “insert name here.”” It’s definitely weird. I’m always curious who it is I look like to them. They explain that my nose is similar and the set of my eyes. They might say I walk the same way or look like whomever they’re looking for from the side. Some people have told me I’m the spitting image of their aunt, cousin, niece, neighbor… Sometimes people tell me that they met me in France or England, two places I’ve never been. I am originally from Newfoundland and might look similarly to someone from England or Ireland. I also have French ancestors. I think we’ve all had a similar experience, being mistaken for someone else, but when two people appear in the same place at the same time, it can be very confusing and quite creepy.

The term Doppelganger is German for “double-walker” and the double of a person is considered to be a paranormal duplicate of a real person. On occasion, one can see his or her own double but, for the most part, the individual is unaware of the presence of a doppelganger. A double-walker may appear in the same place as the individual or could appear in a completely different city, town, or country.

“True” Story

In the 19th century, Emilee Sagee, 32, worked as a school teacher at several girl’s institutions in Dijon, France. By all accounts, she was an amazing and engaging teacher and her students loved her. However, despite her popularity with the young ones,  Sagee was dismissed from roughly 18 schools and could hardly hold a job for any length of time due to the strange occurrences that followed her wherever she went. In 16 years, she had changed positions 19 times and, in 1845, 13 students actually witnessed Sagee’s doppelganger mysteriously appear next to her. She stood at the front of the room, her students sitting before her in rapt attention, and all of a sudden, a form appeared beside her. It appeared to mimic her movements and, although the figure was in close proximity to Sagee, she never acknowledged its presence. This was likely a good thing because old folklore tales warn of the dangers of seeing ones own copy or “double walker.” The copy appeared several times, each appearance seemingly making Sagee herself groggy and disoriented, including once while she ate. The copy ate too, presenting the same movements and mannerisms. On one occasion, Sagee was in the garden outside the classroom while her doppelganger sat in a chair at the front of the classroom. Although Sagee reported worrying the students wouldn’t do their work without her supervision, she never looked in on them. Instead, it seems as if she projected an image of herself into the space.

The account reads as follows:

witnessed by nearly 50 persons, the students were intently working in their sewing class while another teacher sat at the front of the room reading a book. Outside the window, the students could see Emilee working in the garden. The supervising teacher stood up and left the room. Seconds later, Emilee walked in and sat down in the empty chair. Students thought nothing of it until one gasped and pointed out the window where Emilee was still working diligently in the garden. Two of the students stood and approached the doppelganger and being quite brave, reached out and touched it. They said it looked just like Emilee Sagee in all aspects except when they ran their hands through the entity, they said it felt empty, like the stuff cobwebs are made of. Later Emilee Sagee had told school officials that she indeed had been outside picking flowers in the garden. She had not seen the doppelganger (in fact, Emilee never once saw her twin) but had in fact, wished to herself that she was in the classroom supervising the sewing class. School officials noted in their documentation that each time the doppelganger appeared to them, the real Emilee appeared lethargic and listless.

A few people attempted to approach and touch the copy, but they found that, although the figure was textural like heavy fabric, they were unable to place their hands upon it. Instead their hands slipped right through the copy, making it more of an apparition. Day after day, the copy would appear and more and more children would be removed from school by their parents. One would imagine it’s quite stressful to have a ghost-like figure drifting about while in the confines of a classroom. Eventually, Sagee was dismissed from the position.

However, this tale is not unique in and of itself. Many others have had similar experiences. Some of them were even famous.

Not the Only One

Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia in the 18th century, retired to bed one evening when servants explained to her that they had already seen her enter the throne room. When Catherine went to investigate, she came upon an exact copy of herself sitting on her throne. She ordered her sentries to fire at the apparition, but to no effect. Catherine herself died shortly thereafter.

Shortly before Percy Bysshe Shelley, a very adept poet, drowned in a sailing accident in 1812 he told his wife Mary (you might know of her, she wrote a little novel called Frankenstein) that he had seen his doppelganger several times. At one point, he had even met his copy on a terrace. The apparition had asked him, “How long do you mean to be content?” before disappearing. Percy’s doppelganger was also witnessed by his friend Jane Williams who stated that she would often see Percy walking past her window toward a dead end. He would only walk toward the dead end and never returned back the way he’d come. The real Percy was no where near at the time of these incidents.

Queen Elizabeth I of England (reigned from 1558-1603) was known by those close to her to be a very savvy and level-headed individual and she was certainly not the type to be concerned with the paranormal, that is until she saw her doppelganger lying motionless on her bed. The spectral Elizabeth appeared to be laid out as if for funerary presentation. Such appearances are often precursors to the death of that individual and, in Elizabeth’s case, this was no exception to that rule.

One day, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, famous writer and politician, (1749-1832) was riding along a footpath toward home, having just left the residence of a love interest named Frederika. Goethe claimed that he saw a rider in the distance riding toward him. As the figure came closer, he realized that the rider was himself, though wearing different clothing. When the figure was close enough to touch, it disappeared. About eight years later, Goethe was again riding the same path in the opposite direction when he realized that he was wearing the same clothes that the figure had been wearing eight years prior.

In another instance, Goethe saw his friend Freidrich walking down the street wearing Goethe’s own dressing gown. Goethe went home and, when he arrived, found that Freidrich had changed into one of his dressing gowns while drying his wet clothes. Freidrich claimed to have been inside and never wandered in the street.

Fact or Fiction?

While mystics believe that double-walkers are supernatural in nature, those with a more scientific lean are inclined to believe that seeing yourself in this way can more reasonably be attributed to schizophrenia or a glitch in the brain.

At present, there are websites where you can find your doppelganger. One such site, http://www.twinstrangers.net, a company based in Ireland, claims that two head shots and a quick search on their site will hook you up with a carbon copy of yourself. Just for fun, I signed up. I have yet to get a confirmation in order to access the site, but it will be very interesting if I happen to stumble upon another me on the other side of the world somewhere.

So what do we make of this phenomena? Have you ever met your double? I suppose not. For, if you did, you’d likely be dead.

Your Fellow Haunt Head,

Janine

hauntheadscast@gmail.com

Tweet us @hauntheadscast

Facebook: Haunt Heads Podcast

Listen to our podcast at hauntheads.podbean.com or wherever you listen to podcasts!

S1 Ep. 16 On an Egg Roll

This week, Mimi delivers two steaming hot tales of the supernatural from Chinese writer Gan Bao and Janine springs into the legend of Spring-Heeled Jack. This episode contains Chinese food critiques and praises, folklore, and mysterious family recipes. “There’s five spice in these egg rolls, right?” 😉

Got a folklore story or paranormal experience to share? Send it to us at hauntheadscast@gmail.com.

Grace Hospital (Nurses Residence)

I was born there, at the Grace Hospital in St. John’s, Newfoundland. There’s a photo of me, a port wine stain on my right cheek, swathed in a fluffy baby blanket with satin trim and a glazed look in my eyes in one of the many, featureless maternity wards the Grace had to offer. There’s more to my story, not much more that I want to divulge here, but the hospital and the residence building on the property have a story all its own. Old buildings often do.

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Yes, this is your humble fellow Haunt Head as a wee babe.

Rich Past

The Grace was Newfoundland’s first maternity hospital, opened in September of 1923 by the Salvation Army. It was built specifically to cater to unwed mothers and had only 22 beds, but quickly expanded to 100 beds and had added a children’s ward by 1929. It was also chosen as the location for the second nursing school in the province. Mary Southcott (1862-1943), having created the first nursing school between 1903 and 1914, was charged with starting one at the Grace hospital. She had been in the employ of the St. John’s General Hospital, but had resigned from her position as Superintendent of Nursing after conflicts arose regarding her methods. She set up her own hospital and promoted midwifery in the province, also serving on the Newfoundland Midwifery Board. She was also the President of the Child Welfare Association and an advocate for women’s suffrage.

Wrecking Ball

Several extensions were added to the Grace in later years, expanding again in 1954 to 200 beds and the government updated the existing nursing hospital 10 years later. A nursing residence was also added. The expansion of The Health Sciences Center in St. John’s prompted the closure of the Grace in 2000. It was believed that the building was outdated and that it would cost far more to bring the structure up to current standards than it would to outfit the HSC.


Transportation and Works
November 17, 2006

Government Plans to Demolish Former Grace Hospital Building

The Honourable John Hickey, Minister of Transportation and Works, announced today that government will issue a tender next week for the demolition of the remaining hospital building at the former Grace Hospital site LeMarchant Road, St. John’s. If that building, constructed in the 1960s, is demolished, only the nurses’ residence would remain on the site.

The decision to issue a tender for the building’s demolition was made following an unsuccessful call for Expressions of Interest to sell the facility issued in July. Government has determined that none of the responses are acceptable. However, Minister Hickey says a window of opportunity remains for those respondents.

“We’ve advised the respondents that we are open to offers until we award a contract for the demolition of the remainder of the former Grace Hospital,” said Minister Hickey. “We expect this would give the respondents four to six weeks to revise their submissions.”

In 2005, Transportation and Works contracted for the environmental remediation and demolition of a portion of the structures on site. As a result, the houses at 205 Pleasant Street and 203 Pleasant Street, the smoke stack, the 1920s section and the majority of the 1950s section of the former Grace Hospital were demolished.

At present, the only structure remaining of the old hospital is the nursing residence. The hospital itself, smoke stack (which was a rather iconic part of the landscape in St. John’s),the residences at 203 and 205 Pleasant St., the expansions added in the 1920’s, and out buildings had all been demolished by 2008.

Abandoned

There’s something about abandoned spaces. It’s as if, at any moment, something terrifying could slither its way around a corner or through a dark opening. These are the things we think about as we sit perched in front of our computers, scrolling through (what has recently been dubbed) our ruin porn.

The Grace had added a children’s ward and was accepting regular patients (not just unwed mothers) by the time it closed its doors. My grandfather, having fallen from a garage roof onto a pocket full of nails, spent a chunk of time here after surgery and rehabilitation. I remember clearly visiting the cafeteria with its pink walls and twisty chairs and weaving my way down the long hall from my grandfather’s room to the vending area. I also recall Mr. Coffee and Mr. Canoe, two men who are very likely dead by now, who shared a room with my grandfather and offered me Werther’s Original’s that had probably been kicking around in the drawer they materialized out of long before either man had resided in those beds. They meant well.

Grace Hosp.

Cafeteria. Grace General Hospital. St. John’s, NFLD. Photos by Colin Peddle. https://www.colinpeddle.com/grace-hospital-circa-2007/

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Long hallways and empty rooms. Grace General Hospital. St. John’s, NFLD. Photos by Colin Peddle. https://www.colinpeddle.com/grace-hospital-circa-2007/

It wasn’t long after the Grace was slated to be torn down that curious individuals began investigating what remained. Although much of the equipment had been moved to the HSC, light fixtures, old desks, and random medical paraphernalia were abandoned within. Many of the remaining articles were removed and taken off property by those looking to make a quick buck while other items remain, a ghostly reminder of the building’s past.

Hauntings

The old nursing residence seems to be a hub of activity. Individuals who live close to the building or have sight lines to the property report ghostly apparitions, strange lights, and strange noises in the night. One such individual, a nursing student on break from his classes at university, had gone home to visit his parents during a break. His bedroom has a clear view to the old Grace Hospital parking lot. The student reported waking to a strange howling sound sometime around 4 A.M. He made his way to the window and instantly noticed someone walking around in the lot. He might have mistaken this someone for a living person if not for the fact that the person appeared to have no legs. They simply stopped at the hips, the remaining anatomy “fading” away into nothing. The figure would stop every few minutes, look to the sky, and let out a mournful wail. After about fifteen minutes, the figure slowly made its way toward the building and disappeared out of sight.

A member of the demolition crew had a similar experience. While inside the residence, he kept catching glimpses of someone peeking around the door frames in his periphery. After a few minutes of this, the man walked to the doorway where he had last seen what appeared to be a little boy. He peeked into the room, but saw nothing there. The room was empty of furniture and he saw no child inside. He went back to work. Shortly thereafter, the crewman again saw the boy. This time, as the boy disappeared through a doorway, he noticed that the boy appeared to be floating. The crewman was unable to make out distinguishing features, but he noticed the boy appeared to be wearing a hospital gown.

As a nurse was leaving the hospital in the winter time, heading across the residence lot to her car, she noticed a woman walking toward the back of the building. It appeared as if she wasn’t wearing any winter clothing and it was very cold. The nurse watched as the woman disappeared around the corner. She didn’t look like any nurse on staff that she knew and she wondered if a patient wasn’t out wandering. The nurse followed the woman around the corner, but the woman had disappeared. When she looked down, there were footprints in the snow, leading toward, and stopping in front of, a solid brick wall.

Are there spirits trapped on the grounds of the old Grace General Hospital? Will they ever find peace? Perhaps the energy surrounding the property has created a sort of portal to the other side, allowing the spirits of those lost while the hospital was still in operation to roam endlessly and without release. What do you think about the eyewitness accounts? Let us know in the comments.

Your Fellow Haunt Head,

Janine

hauntheadscast@gmail.com

Tweet us @hauntheadscast

Facebook: Haunt Heads Podcast

Podcast episodes are available at hauntheads.podbean.com or wherever you listen to podcasts!

 

S1 Ep. 14 A HAUNTING OF HAMILTON PROPORTIONS

Another week, another episode! This week, Mimi shares the story of a haunted Manhattan hotel, the Morris-Jumel Mansion, and Janine fans the flames of speculation surrounding spontaneous Human Combustion (SHC.) This episode features a “shrunken” head, an elderly ghost, an expression of love for musicals (from Mimi,) and some Googling (it sounds dirtier than it is…)
Thanks to http://anomalyinfo.com for all of the awesome info regarding Spontaneous Human Combustion. If anyone is interested in learning more about SHC, check out this website. It’s full of interesting information and a chronological list of SHC cases throughout history.
http://anomalyinfo.com/Topics/spontaneous-human-combustion-reports-chronological-order

The Mystery of Roanoke

The Croatan are a small Native American group residing in the coastal areas of what is now North Carolina. Croatan Island (sometimes called Croatoan Island and now known as Hatteras Island) is located on the banks of the Staunton (pronounced Stanton) River and, in 1587, the Croatan got some new neighbors. They were English settlers, numbering somewhere between 115-120, led by Gov. John White.

White was to be the guiding hand and to aid in the development of a new colony. Sir Walter Raleigh had intended for the colony to be established in the Chesapeake Bay area, but the Captain of the ship they sailed upon dropped them on Roanoke Island instead, a site that had hosted a colony of settlers previously. The previous attempt had been a glorious failure.

The new settlers began setting up shop, building structures, and working toward creating some sense of home in their new surroundings, picture an even shittier version of Oregon Trail, but it wasn’t long before the group began to run out of supplies. White set sail for England to procure more stores for his settlers on August 27, 1587 and arrived in November of that year, just as England was about to go to war with Spain. Queen Elizabeth I ordered that all available ships to confront the Spanish Armada, preventing White from returning to Roanoke for a period of three years.

When White did return, he found the colony abandoned and all of the settlers missing. Although he searched endlessly for them, he found no clue as to there whereabouts nor did he find any human remains to indicate they had been killed. His daughter, Ellinor White Dare, son in law, Ananias Dare, and granddaughter, Virginia Dare, had vanished. A single word was carved into a wooden post, the only clue as to where the settlers may have gone or what had happened at Roanoke. That word was Croatoan.

What happened to the settlers of the lost colony of Roanoke? Were they captured by local native tribes? Were they murdered by an aggressive tribe? Were they assimilated into a friendly native tribe? Were they taken as slaves to work in copper mines? (It was speculated in Return to Roanoke: Search for the Lost Colony (History Channel, 2015) that this was the colonist’s fate.) Were they murdered by Spaniards marching up from Florida or were they abducted?

White was left to wonder and failed to find any settler, alive or dead.

Virginia and The Dare Stones

Virginia Dare was the first child of English heritage to be born in the Americas and was named Virginia because she was the first born there. Her father was Ananias Dare, her mother was Ellinor White Dare (daughter of Gov. John White.) Illustrated depictions of young Virginia’s baptism into the Catholic faith at the Jonestown Exhibition in 1907 can be found online, but the child vanished soon after without a trace. Her life is a mystery and remains so to this day.

In 1937, a California man driving through the coastal Carolina region found a 21 pound rock, roughly 80 miles from Roanoke Island, engraved with strange markings. He delivered his find to the History Department at Emory University. When university officials declined to pay for testing of the stone, Haywood Pearce brought it to Brenau University and began tracing its origins and transcribing the writing on the stone. He put out a call for other stones, offering a reward, but was essentially buried in potentials, further muddying the mystery. There are a total of 48 stones supposedly describing the last days of the colony at Roanoke.

According to The Native Heritage Project (https://nativeheritageproject.com/2013/12/08/the-dare-stones-1-through-48/), the original stone reads as follows.

The writing on the stone appears to be a message from Ellinor White Dare to her father describing murders by “sa(l)vages” (save 7 colonists) and the locations of grave sites along with where the group of surviving colonists might be found. Some scientists have speculated, upon close examination, that some of the stones appear to have been recently carved, one even looks as if it may have been done with a drill press.

 

A team of historians commissioned by the Smithsonian did assign some validity to the original stone. The team was led by Samuel Eliot Morison of Harvard University. A preliminary report was released stating that the stone appeared to be valid and the stones officially became known as the Dare Stones.

In 1941, the Saturday Evening Post all but reported that Pearce Jr. had crafted the stones himself. There was talk of libel action against The Post, but WWII pretty much put the kaibash on that. The stones disappeared from view on campus.

In 1977, Leonard Nimoy narrated an episode of In Search of… on which a Brenau professor, Dr. Southerland, stated that he believed only the first stone was authentic. Ten years later, he amended his statement, asserting that even the original stone may have only a 50% chance of being real.

Interest in the stones was once again revived as Jamestown, VA, celebrated the 400th anniversary of the first English colony to gain purchase on American soil. An internet scavenger hunt (among other scheduled events) caused Brenau officials to receive dozens of phone calls. One of the items on the scavenger hunt list was a rubbing of one of the Dare Stones.

Location of the Stones

It has been speculated that the stones are housed in an 18th century mausoleum on campus, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The Dare Stones are actually housed in a boiler room beneath the university amphitheater and range in size from 20-40 pounds each. One stone is on view at the Northeast Georgia History Center adjacent to campus. Two (including the original stone) are housed in the special collections section of the Trustee Library.

Every Good Mystery Has a Twist…

In an interesting twist, part of the Ellinor Dare legend is that she gave birth to a child named Agnes who was fathered by an American Indian “king” from North Carolina or Georgia. Tribes in that area believed that the souls of the deceased were transferred into sacred stones.

Kathy Amos, the university’s Tradition Keeper states that Brenau’s resident ghost showed up around the same time the stones did. Supposedly, the ghost’s name is Agnes.

Stories exist about the ghost of Agnes committing suicide by hanging herself in the theater. It’s generally a story of unrequited love. Agnes is also said to have been a pledge for Zeta Tau Alpha who died in an initiation gone wrong. It has also been said that she killed herself after being ousted from the sorority. Some claim that Agnes appeared in the 1930’s while others say she’s been around since 1960. She’s said to haunt the theater, the dorms, the library… It seems as if it depends completely who you talk to on campus as Agnes stories abound.

Have you ever seen the Dare Stones first hand? What’s the story with Agnes? Is she the deceased daughter of Ellinor or another spirit entirely? Let us know in the comments below!

Your Fellow Haunt Head,

Janine

hauntheadscast@gmail.com

Tweet us @hauntheadscast

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Find us on PodBean, iTunes, or wherever you listen to podcasts!

S.K. Pierce and “Chair City”

When it comes to haunted, historical locations, there’s a line drawn in the sand by many paranormal investigators and enthusiasts. Either fix it up and live with the spirits, create a bed and breakfast and run historical tours, or turn it into something entirely else. That “else” can either be a welcome addition to the community surrounding the property or an unwelcome nuisance and, in this particular case, many in the field believe that line has been crossed. In the case of the S.K. Pierce Mansion, it’s been flipped into the “else” category. The mansion will offer stay-cations for those looking for a fright, but the basement will also serve as a haunted attraction during the month of October.

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S.K. Pierce Mansion by jasonbakerphotography81 via Flickr

Let’s rewind…

In 1875, Sylvester Knowlton Pierce, a wealthy furniture magnate and owner of S.K. Pierce & Sons Furniture Company, decided to build a structure befitting his stature. That structure became the S.K. Pierce Mansion in Gardner, Massachusetts. Pierce’s furniture empire earned Gardner the title of Chair City and his name became forever entwined with the place he called home.  The home took 1 1/2 years to complete, a project that enlisted the help of 100 men. The completed mansion (a total of 6,661 sq ft, though some claim it’s closer to 7,000) had 10 bedrooms and 2.5 baths. Little did Pierce know, but the energy he invested into the property would be forever trapped there.

The Pierce family, Pierce himself, his wife Susan, and their son Edward moved into the house in 1877. Roughly 3 months later, Pierce’s wife succumbed to a bacterial infection. Pierce mourned the loss of his beloved wife for one year before finding a new bride, Ellen, who was far younger than himself. With Ellen, Pierce fathered two more children, both boys.

Upon Pierce’s passing (1888), the home was left to Ellen but, once Ellen passed away (1902), constant bickering about property rights drove a wedge between the brothers. Edward ultimately took ownership of the property (some accounts state that Ellen’s son Frank took ownership), being Pierce’s only son, and turned it into a boarding house. It wasn’t long before Edward’s business venture turned sour. The mansion, once host to great names like P.T. Barnum, Pres. Calvin Coolidge, and Norman Rockwell (among others,) shifted to gamblers, alcoholics, and prostitutes. The boarding house quickly turned into a brothel. When Edward passed, his half brother Frank stepped in, but lost the property in a card game (there have been accounts that state Edward lost the house.) Having lost what remained of the Pierce fortune, Frank (some accounts say nothing of a brother named Frank, rather Edward is the guilty party) was allowed to stay in the basement of the home because he had nowhere else to go. The home was purchased by a wealthy and eccentric artist who abandoned the property in the 1970’s, leaving it to sit for 30 years. It was then bought by a young couple, when the property was on the brink of demolition, Edwin Gonzales and Lillian Otero, but it wasn’t long before they were forced to sell the house. The level of paranormal activity had been so great, Gonzales and Otero felt they could no longer safely reside there. They placed the property on the market for a song, a mere $329,000.00.

Present Day

Rob and Allison Conti, owners of Dark Carnival, purchased the house in 2015 when a friend relayed them the MLS listing. Rob had been looking for a location he could turn into a freestanding haunted house for some time, but had been unable to procure a location in his home state of New Jersey. Since a fire at a freestanding haunted attraction killed 8 teens in the 1980’s, the rules surrounding the running of such attractions had become more strict within the state. When the Pierce Mansion came onto the market, a friend of the Conti’s noticed the listing and brought it to their attention. After some debate as to whether or not they could afford to purchase the home, they decided to place an offer and it was accepted. The Conti’s began the reconstruction and beautification of the home’s many bedrooms in an effort to bring it back to its former glory. As of June 25th of this year, the house is still undergoing extensive renovation.

Paranormal Phenomena

Reported activity at the mansion is listed below. Please be aware, the following information has not been confirmed as many of the statements/murders are not backed up by any proof (newspaper, obituary, etc.)

  1. While the Pierce Mansion was a brothel, it is said that a prostitute was murdered in an upstairs bedroom referred to as the “Red Room.” Although I searched extensively, I could find no report of this murder in any newspaper of the time. It is entirely possible that the murder was covered up or that the police had little time to hear of the murder of a woman of ill repute. It is also said that her murderer, known only as David, still haunts the home.
  2. A Finnish immigrant named Eino Saari burned to death in the master bedroom. It is said that, to this very day, the bedroom smells of smoke. Saari is believed to have died from smoke inhalation and often smoked in bed, but there are those who believe that Saari’s death was a case of spontaneous combustion. There were no burn marks on the surrounding walls or floor. Only the bed had been burned.
  3. A young boy drowned in the basement.
  4. The spirits of S.K. Pierce, his first wife Susan, and the Pierce’s nanny (Mattie Cornwell) are said to haunt the home.
  5. The ghosts of a young boy and a young girl have been seen on the staircase.
  6. Unnamed dark entities inhabit the basement of the home, though some say the spirit of Edward (potentially Frank depending on which account you’re reading) resides down there. EVP’s have been caught by various paranormal investigators and there seems to be a voice saying the name “Edward.”
  7. Many visitors to the property have captured EVP’s and photographs of spirits.

Guests have experienced:

  • Disembodied voices.
  • Chanting.
  • Full bodied apparitions.
  • moving furniture.
  • Screens flying off windows.
  • Slamming doors.
  • Temperature changes.
  • Footsteps.
  • Foul odors.
  • Shadow people.
  • A lion’s roar (said to be S.K. Pierce reaching out from beyond the grave and voicing his displeasure of the residents and visitors to his house.)
  • Guests have been pushed on the staircase (one guest has almost been pushed out a 3rd floor window.)

The property has been featured on many ghost hunting shows including Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures and has been the subject of several books, but how much of the mansion’s history can be corroborated? Are the current owners of the home simply ramping up reports of paranormal activity in order to gain more business?

On their website, the Dark Carnival (Rob and Allison Conti) states that visitors to the property will need to sign a waiver prior to entry, absolving them of any physical or mental assaults from the spirits that dwell within. According to them, the spirits are “extremely advanced” and might “impose their will” on guests. The website also states that guests are not to antagonize the spirits as this may make the spirits angry and lash out.

Have you ever visited the S.K Pierce Mansion? Do you have a story to share? Tell us your feelings about the use of a historic property used as a haunted house in the comments section.

Your Fellow Haunt Head,

Janine

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