History of the Séance
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, spiritualism—a belief that the spirits of the dead can communicate with the living—was all the rage. There was no trendier activity than holding a séance led by a medium, who would mediate between the living and the dead. The mediums not only delivered messages from the dearly departed, but also demonstrated the presence of spirits in the room by levitating objects, ringing bells, and producing a substance from their bodies known as ectoplasm as seen in the photos above. In the fourth photo above, the medium can be seen “cheating” when the photographer caught her lifting the table with her knee.
Those were excellent tricks, but that’s all they were—mediums were often shown to be frauds. “Exposures are of frequent occurrence, many of them highly sensational in character,” wrote the New York Times in a November 21, 1909 article titled “Notable Charlatans Exposed In The Past: A Weird History That Leaves Spiritualism Undaunted.” (You can view a PDF of the article here.) “Slate writing, spirit pictures, table tipping, rapping, and other features of Spiritualism have been exposed time and again.”
The two last photos above, circa 1910, show medium Marthe Beraud excreting ectoplasm, her specialty, during a séance. In the last photo, a strange face appears on the ectoplasm. The material was said to be formed when mediums were in a trance state; it could only be created in near darkness and it was emitted from orifices on the medium’s body. But rather than being some spiritual substance, the so-called ectoplasm was usually gauze, muslin, or chiffon. Beraud was the first medium to perform the ectoplasm trick and one of her outspoken supporters was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
The Ghost in the Courthouse Window
In November 1876, the Pickens County Courthouse in South Carolina burned to the ground. Suspecting arson, residents wanted to punish the person responsible. After more than a year a former slave, Henry Wells, was arrested in connection with a string of burglaries and taken to the newly rebuilt courthouse. Thinking Wells was also responsible for the arson, a mob gathered outside, ready to hang him.
From a garret room upstairs, Wells was reportedly peering down at the angry crowd when a bolt of lightning struck near the courthouse and somehow etched the anguished expression on Wells’ face onto the glass of the window. The ghostly face is said to appear often. As for the legend’s truth, an urban adventure to the courthouse might provide the answers.
The Haunted Tomb of Captain Buck
In the town of Bucksport, Maine, there stands a cursed memorial where Captain Buck is buried. The tomb of the town’s founder, Colonel Jonathan Buck, features a mysterious stain — the image of a woman’s stocking foot or boot. The leg stain on the memorial, according to legend, came about when Colonel Buck burned a witch and her leg rolled out of the bonfire. Apparently before she died, she cursed at Buck that he would always bear the mark of his horrible deed. His heirs tried to clean the foot off the stone and are said to have replaced the monument twice but the foot kept coming back.
The legend of the Mysterious Tomb of Bucksport varies depending on who tells it. In one version, instead of burning her, he had her hanged. In another, she wasn’t a witch at all, just unfortunate enough to be pregnant with his child, and the witch execution was an easy fix to his inconvenient problem.
The legend grew over the centuries, fully forming as a tourist attraction when locals started selling postcards. Tourists started pouring into town to see the ghostly smudge. The town, recognizing a good thing, upgraded the Cursed Tomb experience in recent years. There is a little parking area next to the cemetery, and a wheelchair-friendly concrete ramp leading up to the cursed monument. You can photograph it through a wrought iron fence.
The Colares UFO Attack
In 1977 the Brazilian island of Colares was seemingly besieged by alien spacecrafts. Several metallic objects were seen in the sky by numerous witnesses, but what makes this story different from the usual UFO case is that the spacecrafts were actively attacking the islanders. Strange beams of light would chase people, and once it made contact, it left burns, puncture wounds and even permanent baldness on different victims.
Dr. Wellaide Carvalho treated the victims. She reported that along with the previously mentioned physical damage, victims also suffered from dizziness, headaches, fatigue, low blood pressure and anemia. Carvalho herself claims to have been caught in one of the lights but was miraculously uninjured.
UFO sightings are fairly common in South America, but this one was pretty weird by most standards. The Brazilian government began its own research project called Operation Saucer. Thirty years later, documents relating to Operation Saucer were released to ufologists and revealed that the government had been studying UFOs unofficially since the 1940s and had documented several of their own encounters.
Helltown - Haunted Ohio
The Northern part of Summit County in Ohio is known by its eery name, Helltown. In the 1970’s, Boston Township was the site of a government buyout and subsequent mass eviction of citizens of the area. The houses were intended to be torn down and the land used for a national park, but the plans never quite manifested. Legends spawned wildly. Driving through the dark, wooded landscape was enough to give chills even when it was populated, but now the drive is by boarded up houses standing next to the burnt out shells of others.
The persistent legends of Helltown add to its scary, abandoned status. The steep Stanford Road drop off, immediately followed by a dead end, is aptly named The End of the World. If you get stuck at this dead end for too long, you may meet your end at the hands of the endless parade of freaks supposedly patrolling the woods. Satanists, Ku Klux Klan members, escaped mental patients, abnormally large snakes, and mutants caused by an alleged chemical spill are all still being reported as haunting the area. If you stray from the roads, you may find Boston Cemetery, home to a ghostly man, grave robbers and, believe it or not, a moving tree. A true challenge for any suburban explorer.
Highgate Cemetery - London’s Most Haunted
Highgate Cemetery is steeped in supernatural lore. Constructed out of need with six others in the early 1800s, with London’s population nearing a million and the death toll rising, there was no more room to bury the dead. This cemetery is one of the most famous in the world, with many notable historic figures, such as Karl Marx, buried there.
The architecture of the cemetery is truly unique. In the heart of the grounds is an eccentric structure called the Egyptian Avenue which consists of sixteen vaults, entered via a great arch. Each vault fits twelve coffins, purchased and used by individual families. This avenue leads to the Circle of Lebanon which was built in the same style consisting of thirty six vaults. A separate gothic-styled catacomb, named the Terrace Catacombs, has an additional fifty five vaults.
But what lures most people to the cemetery are the legends and myths that include ghosts, a vampire and other unexplained phenomena. Spirits coming out of the mausoleums, a glowing woman who roams the paths in between the graves, a man in a top hat, and misty floating beings that hang around the tombs are just some of the the spirits that inhabit the cemetery. Its the account of the “Highgate Vampire” that makes the site legendary.
The first report was in 1970, when a young man reported that he had seen a dark figure resembling a vampire in the cemetery. Since then, hundreds of claims of suspected vampires continued to be reported. Helping the belief along was the fact that dead foxes, with their throats torn open, kept turning up on the grounds. Aside from ghosts and a resident vampire, Highgate Cemetery is a hauntingly beautiful place to spend eternity.
The Curse of the Hope Diamond
Throughout history, diamonds have signified many things to many cultures, from wealth, power and love to mystical God-like powers. But one stone’s global fame and mystique has surpassed all others: the legendary Hope Diamond.
This 45-carat, deep blue gemstone is the most valuable diamond in the world, and the most coveted and mysterious. It has been at The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, in Washington DC, for over 50 years.
Allegedly a curse to all that own it, the diamond’s bizarre properties have mystified scientists for decades and its sinister reputation as a ‘hoodoo gem’ has spawned thousands of paparazzi headlines.
The diamond’s “curse” has believed to either leave its owner and their family dead or in equally grave circumstances. The last owner to actually wear the diamond was a Mrs. Evalyn McLean, pictured above. With the Hope in her possession, her young son died in a car crash, her daughter had committed suicide at the age of 25, Evalyn herself became addicted to morphine and her husband was declared legally insane, committed until his death. From there it went to Harry Winston, who quickly donated the diamond to the Smithsonian.
Not only is the Hope Diamond an object of spectacular provenance, science has declared it a geological anomaly. Under ultraviolet light, the diamond glows an eerie deep blood red.
To some, this provides compelling evidence of a supernatural force but for a group of expert scientists, it inspired a major pioneering investigation which has shown that most all blue diamonds show read and green peaks in their phosphorescence spectrum.
However scientific investigations cannot explain the mysterious and deadly events that have besieged the Hope Diamond’s previous owners. Even science has its limits.
Ghostly Face Appears in Ultrasound
(Source: The Huffington Post)
The Gateway to Hell
The small town of Stull, Kansas, has a notorious reputation. It is said that its small cemetery is where Satan appears in person, having been materializing there since the 1850s. The town was originally named Skull, but was changed to Stull to cover its association with black magic.
According to local legend, the devil appears in Stull Cemetery on the night of the Spring Equinox and on Halloween in the ruins of the old church. There is a story that tells of Lucifer having a child by a witch in Stull and that it is buried in this cemetery. Some around here will tell you about the story that appeared in the early 1990s in Time Magazine about Pope John Paul II. According to the story, the pope asked that his airplane route be changed so he did not fly over the ‘unholy ground’ in eastern Kansas. Even musicians avoid this place; supposedly the band the Cure refused to play in Kansas because it brought them too close to the hell-gate. For years, stories of witchcraft, ghosts and supernatural happenings have surrounded the old graveyard and church.
It was claimed that despite not having a roof, no rain would fall inside the old church. The decrepit cross on the wall would invert at midnight. People said they have been subjected to a strong wind that held them down on a still night and sinister growls would come out of thin air encircling passersby. Almost everyone you speak to has a story about how ‘something’ happened to them at Stull. Almost everyone except for the 30 or so of the residents of Stull.
Locals claim that the only thing special about their cemetery is the fact that their loved ones are buried there. Furthermore, town residents are annoyed that so many people believe the stories and are tired of their cemetery being vandalized by gatherings of unruly college kids and so-called Satan worshipers.