Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Bennington Triangle

This is a weird one. No ghostly activity has been reported in this area, but things are very odd here.

Between 1945 and 1950, five people disappeared in this area of southwest Vermont, most near the Long Trail. The first was Middie Rivers, an experienced guide in his 70s. On November 12, 1945, when returning from the mountains with four hunters, Rivers got ahead of his group. Nobody ever saw, or heard from, him again.

On December 1, 1946, local college student Paula Weldon went out for a day hike along the Long Trail. She never returned. Searchers combed the area, but no trace of her was ever found. One story claims that an elderly couple saw her hiking, and lost sight of her when she went around a bend. When they arrived at that same bend, Paula was gone.

The eeriest of the three disappearances was that of James Tedford. Tedford, who was in his sixties, was taking a bus from St. Albans to Bennington when he vanished. His luggage, and an open bus schedule, were found on the bus later. Witnesses stated that he was still on the bus when it left the next to the last stop (before Bennington). When the vehicle arrived at Bennington, Tedford was gone.

His disappearance occurred three years to the day after the disappearance of Paula Weldon.

The area claimed two victims in one month the following year. Paul Jepson, eight years old, wandered away from his family's truck, which had been parked not far from the area where Paula Weldon was last known to have been seen. Bloodhounds were brought out, but his scent ended abruptly on the Long Trail, suggesting abduction.

Exactly two weeks later, 53-year-old Frieda Langer went on a hike with her cousin, Herbert Elsner. Frieda slipped and fell in a creek. She asked Elsner to wait for her so that she could return to the family campsite, change clothes, then catch up with him.

Nobody saw Langer alive again. A massive search was mounted, with as many as 300 people taking part. On May 12, 1951, Frieda Langer's body was found - in an area that had already been searched. Twice.

Decomposition prevented the authorities from ascertaining a cause of death.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

House for sale, "slightly haunted"

Not your average Zillow listing, I think. Four-bedroom Victorian with unusual additions.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Enjoy the holiday. Have a party. Stay in and have a horror-movie marathon. Carve pumpkins. Load up on candy. However you celebrate it, have fun and be safe.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Headless ghosts

Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII, has not rested easily in her grave in the grounds of the Tower of London. Executed on charges of treason, as well as infidelity (with various men, including her own brother!), Anne has made her presence highly visible at times.

A sentry at the Tower was court-martialed for sleeping on duty in the 19th century, a very serious charge. In his defense, he said he was not sleeping, but unconscious. He stated that the form of a woman approached him, and when challenged, only came closer. He stabbed the form with his bayonet, and it vanished. He then lost consciousness. Fortunately for the sentry, others testified that they had seen the same figure when on night duty. He was acquitted.

Anne's ghost returns to her childhood home, Blickling Hall, on the anniversary of her execution. She arrives in a coach drawn by headless horses and driven by a headless coachman. She holds her severed head in her lap. Her brother, executed the same day as Anne, is also seen on this anniversary. Headless, he is dragged over the grounds of the Hall by headless horses.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Haunted attractions

It's your turn, now. What are your favorite haunted attractions, and why? Cornfield, abandoned prison or hospital, trail, or other venue? What makes them so scary? What keeps you coming back?

Real Estate in Haunted Cities

Okay, it's something of a stretch, but Zillow has posted several homes for sale in "haunted" cities (which, judging from the story, means "cities with a notoriously haunted location").

Here they are!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Ghost of Anne Tottenham

Anne Tottenham was the unlucky daughter of Charles Tottenham, a stern an humorless parent. Anne lived with her father and stepmother in Loftus Hall, a lonely and, by all accounts, ugly residence.

When a young horseman asked for shelter one rainy night, Anne quickly fell for him. Rather than marrying her and taking her away from Loftus Hall, however, the young man rode away when the weather permitted, leaving Anne behind. "Her reason gave way", as the saying was, and Anne was confined to the tapestry chamber in the Hall for the rest of her life. Looking at the case from a more modern perspective, it seems far more likely that Anne attempted to leave the Hall and join her would-be lover, or that she threatened suicide; it's hardly likely that, even for such a lonely woman, insanity would have followed her brief acquaintance with the charming visitor.

A story got out that Anne's young man was none other than the devil himself, which Anne discovered one evening when she leaned down to pick up a playing card that had fallen on the floor, and saw that her visitor had cloven feet. When she screamed, he disappeared in a puff of smoke. For some reason, Anne's father and stepmother preferred this ridiculous story to the truth, and stated that the devil was causing the disturbances in their home.

The tapestry chamber, where poor Anne spent the rest of her life, became haunted by her ghost. One guest experienced an entity jumping on his bed and growling like a dog. Another woke the house with his screams, after the bed curtains were pulled aside and he saw a woman wearing a brocade dress standing next to the bed, staring at him.

Another guest, who had stayed up late reading, saw a woman in a brocaded dress pass through the room and enter the closet. When she appeared the following night, he tried to catch her - and his arm went right through her. She continued to the closet, where she vanished.

Years later, that same guest was staying at the Hall again when another guest's valet - the one whose screams had awakened the house on a previous visit - refused to sleep in the tapestry chamber. When the guest asked the valet why he would not sleep in that room, the valet asked, "Is it not possible that you do not know that Miss Tottenham passes through that room every night, and, dressed in a stiff flowered silk dress, enters the closet in the corner?"

The guest shared his previous experience with the valet, who replied, "Yes, that was Miss Tottenham, and, as is well known, she was confined—mad—in that room, and died there, and, they say, was buried in that closet."

Anne bedeviled visitors of generations of owners of Loftus Hall. One guest found his belongings strewn around the room one morning. Another felt a growling something jump on the bed and pull off the covers (unlike the other growling victim, however, he did not fire a pistol up the chimney).

In 1868, a friend of the owners' visited the Hall, and asked the housekeeper how Miss Anne took to the changes in the tapestry room, which had been converted into a billiards room. The housekeeper, frightened, finally said, "Oh, Master George! Don't talk about her: last night she made a horrid noise knocking the billiard-balls about!"

Saturday, January 19, 2013

From Ancient Greece

 Courtesy of Pliny the Younger:

There was in Athens a house, spacious and open, but with an infamous reputation, as if filled with pestilence. For in the dead of night, a noise like the clashing of iron could be heard. And if one listened carefully, it sounded like the rattling of chains. At first the noise seemed to be at a distance, but then it would approach, nearer, nearer, nearer. Suddenly a phantom would appear, an old man, pale and emaciated, with a long beard, and hair that appeared driven by the wind. The fetters on his feet and hands rattled as he moved them.

Any dwellers in the house passed sleepless nights under the most dismal terrors imaginable. The nights without rest led them to a kind of madness, and as the horrors in their minds increased, onto a path toward death. Even in the daytime--when the phantom did not appear--the memory of the nightmare was so strong that it still passed before their eyes. The terror remained when the cause of it was gone.

Damned as uninhabitable, the house was at last deserted, left to the spectral monster. But in hope that some tenant might be found who was unaware of the malevolence within it, the house was posted for rent or sale.

It happened that a philosopher named Athenodorus came to Athens at that time. Reading the posted bill, he discovered the dwelling's price. The extraordinary cheapness raised his suspicion, yet when he heard the whole story, he was not in the least put off. Indeed, he was eager to take the place. And did so immediately.

As evening drew near, Athenodorus had a couch prepared for him in the front section of the house. He asked for a light and his writing materials, then dismissed his retainers. To keep his mind from being distracted by vain terrors of imaginary noises and apparitions, he directed all his energy toward his writing.

For a time the night was silent. Then came the rattling of fetters. Athenodorus neither lifted up his eyes, nor laid down his pen. Instead he closed his ears by concentrating on his work. But the noise increased and advanced closer till it seemed to be at the door, and at last in the very chamber. Athenodorus looked round and saw the apparition exactly as it had been described to him. It stood before him, beckoning with one finger.

Athenodorus made a sign with his hand that the visitor should wait a little, and bent over his work. The ghost, however, shook the chains over the philosopher's head, beckoning as before. Athenodorus now took up his lamp and followed. The ghost moved slowly, as if held back by his chains. Once it reached the courtyard, it suddenly vanished.

Athenodorus, now deserted, carefully marked the spot with a handful of grass and leaves. The next day he asked the magistrate to have the spot dug up. There they found--intertwined with chains--the bones that were all that remained of a body that had long lain in the ground. Carefully, the skeletal relics were collected and given proper burial, at public expense. The tortured ancient was at rest. And the house in Athens was haunted no more.