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Showing posts from 2015

The Failed Resurrection of Doc Taylor

When October 30, 1893, came and went without Doc Taylor rising from the dead, few residents of a small town in rural western Virginia were surprised. And with Doc Taylor's failed resurrection, one of the strangest chapters in the history of Wise County drew to a close.

Few men living in this mountainous region of Virginia were as eccentric-- or as dangerous-- as Doc Taylor, who earned his living as a preacher and a self-educated country doctor. According to historical records, Taylor was a walking arsenal of sorts, always carrying a Winchester rifle, two Colt revolvers and a belt containing two rows of cartridges wherever he went. He was reportedly a physician of most unusual skill and, in spite of his lack of formal education, attracted patients within a 50 mile radius of the town of Norton.

Taylor was also a well-known Swedenborgian minister, preaching Christianity according to the teachings of 18th century theologian and mystic Emanuel Swedenborg. Doc Taylor was known to spend d…

Werewolves of Portugal

While researching legends and myths of the Portuguese corredor I came across a fascinating article from 1890. In Portugal, the corredor is also referred to the "night ranger"-- a type of shape-shifting creature that shares many similarities with the European "wehr wolf". The following is a reprint of an article that originally appeared in The Fortnightly Review, which was a popular and influential magazine in 19th century England.

Portuguese Bugaboos: Gloomy Traditional Beliefs Existing Among the Peasants of Portugal

The most somber of the traditionary beliefs in rural Portugal certainly go back to far beyond the time of the Moors, beyond even the period of the entry into the peninsula of the nations from Central Europe. The wehr-wolf legend comes from Roman times. The term for the man-wolf in Portuguese is lobis-homem, hardly a change from the Latin lupus-homo, though it is more than likely that in substance if not in form the lycanthropic myth is far older than th…

Was a Bigfoot skeleton unearthed in Oregon in 1912?

The Mystery of the Ellensburg Giant

In early 1912, workmen discovered a most unusual skeleton near the Oregon coast, while digging in the present-day city of Gold Beach (formerly known as Ellensburg). It was the skeleton of a veritable giant, measuring nearly eight feet in height. While many archaeologists of the era were unearthing strange skeletons of human giants all across the United States (leading many to believe that an ancient race of giants once roamed North America), the Ellensburg Giant-- as it came to be known-- was rather different.

The most curious feature was the skull, which featured a sloping ape-like forehead, along with not one, but two rows of teeth in its upper jaw. Unlike many of the other giant skeletons unearthed in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the skull of the Ellensburg Giant did not feature the high, prominent cheekbones that were the hallmarks of Native American heritage.

The earliest recorded account of this startling archaeological discovery comes fro…

"My Strangest Experience": Encounter with a Shadow Being

Every so often, a reader sends us a story so chilling that we feel compelled to share it with our audience. The following story, sent to us by Glenn from Cherry Hill, NJ, involves a late night encounter with a shadowy being of unknown origin.

In the fall of 2002 I moved from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to St. Lawrence County in upstate New York. It was a move that was made gradually, involving numerous seven-hour-long trips back and forth, cramming as many boxes and bags as I could into the hatchback and backseat of my Pontiac Firebird.

If you've ever made the long journey from Harrisburg to Canton, New York, you already know how mind-numbingly exhausting the trip can be. Once you leave Interstate 81 at Watertown and hop onto Route 11, you encounter long stretches of thirty or more miles at a time on a lonesome two-laned highway without passing through a single town. Sure, you'll see signs every now and then informing you that you've just entered a village with a strange nam…

The Great Witching Hour Debate

Depending on who you talk to, the supposed "witching hour"-- when supernatural activity peaks-- is either midnight or 3 AM, and various paranormal researchers appear to be fiercely loyal to their preference. Others claim that the whole idea of a witching hour is a bunch of hot air, most likely invented by authors of ghost stories and Hollywood movie-makers.  So which hour are witches most likely to bewitch? That is what we at Journal of the Bizarre are here to find out.

But before we delve too deeply into the great witching hour debate, let's examine the two times most commonly associated with spooks, goblins, warlocks and witches.

Based on our research, most historical references describe the witching hour as midnight, as it represents the passing from one day to the next. Since the concept of "passing over" is an integral part of the theory of afterlife, it makes sense that midnight would come to symbolize the moment when spirits can pass between the earthly a…

The Ghost of Jimmie Welsh

In 1890, a terrifying apparition haunted the tracks of the Lake Erie and Western Railroad. The ghost-- who appeared to be looking for his lost head-- was believed to be that of Jimmie Welsh, a train conductor who met his unfortunate end in November of 1889.

The following newspaper story about the ghost of Jimmie Welsh appeared in the Chicago Tribune on March 19, 1890.

The Conductor's Ghost

Trainmen on the Lake Erie and Western railroad between Findlay, Ohio, and Fostoria are greatly disturbed over what they claim is the ghost of a dead freight conductor. The conductor was killed one night last November, at Arcadia, about eight miles east of this city, by his train breaking into two sections in such a manner that he was thrown to the track from the car on which he was standing and beheaded by the wheels before the train could be controlled.

The accident occurred at a point where dense woods nearly arch the track, above the rails, and here it is, the trainmen assert, the ghost of the m…

"My Strangest Experience"

A shapeshifting table and a tragic tale of merry old England

Editor's Note: From time to time we receive emails from readers who have amazing stories to tell, so we decided to publish some of them as an occasional feature we call "My Strangest Experience". Today's amazing story is from "Edna" of Greenwich, Connecticut.

When I was five, my father, a military aviator, perished during a training exercise in Maryland. To cope with the hardship of bringing up a daughter on her own, my mother would send me to my Aunt Hester's home near Boston each summer for a few weeks, giving my mother time to cope with her loss on her own terms, without having to worry about providing for me. Aunt Hester was, in my opinion, "rich", having inherited a home in Melrose that once belonged to her grandfather, who had been an executive with the Boston and Maine Railroad.

Aunt Hester never married, and in those days (it was the late 1950s) we called women like her spinst…

The case against extraterrestrial life

When I was ten years old my parents took me and my brother on a family vacation to Virginia. With a six hour drive ahead of us, we stopped at a Kmart along the way to stock up on provisions for the trip. While my brother picked out an Etch-a-Sketch and some cassette tapes for his Walkman (this was the 1980s, after all), I headed to the book aisle and picked out the first paperback that caught my attention: Communion by Whitley Strieber. Something about those bulging black alien eyes on the cover fascinated me, and thus my lifelong fascination with UFOs and extraterrestrials began.

Decades later and hundreds of paperback and hardcover books along the way (plus an embarrassingly insane amount of hours spent listening to Art Bell and George Noory), I had the opportunity to observe my first UFO, in the form of an oddly-shaped pink superstructure sailing erratically through the daytime sky. It appeared to be about the size of a skyscraper and it's shape could not be described as round,…

The Haunted Scaffold at Cook County Jail

Chicago's Cook County Jail, once home to notorious gangsters like Al Capone and Frank Nitti has been rumored to be haunted for decades. Considering that sixty-seven executions were carried out by electric chair at the California Avenue facility between 1928 and 1962, it should be no surprise that the jail is a spooky place.

However, it's Cook County's old jail, known to the locals as Bridewell ("Bridewell" is British slang for jail), where the most well-documented cases of paranormal activity took place. Many of these disturbances, it is believed, are the doings of a young prisoner named Peter Neidermeier, who was hanged at the jail in 1904. Neidermeier, along with his pals Gustave Marx and Harvey Vandine, were leaders of a gang known as the "Car Barn Bandits". Credited with eight murders and numerous robberies, the Car Barn Bandits made headlines in papers all over the country for their audacious and ruthless exploits.

In April of 1904, just days before…

Dead Father Beckons Son to the Grave

When two different people have identical dreams, it is a strange and uncommon occurrence. But when a dead father appears in the identical dreams of his two sons-- imploring them to follow him to the grave-- it is even more bizarre. But the story doesn't end there; one son grew gravely ill and died just days after the incredible dream, making the following story, which appeared in the Bamberg Herald on June 19, 1913, one of the most bizarre tales we have ever encountered.

Very Queer Case- Father's Spirit Calls Two and One of Them Dies

The death dreams of Joseph H. Freedman and Max Freedman, brothers, of New Brunswick, N.J., followed by the passing away of Max, were discussed with awe in that city by many people for days.

Ten days ago Joseph dreamed vividly that the spirit of his dead father appeared and begged him to join him in the grave. This dream neither he, his wife nor any other member of the family told to Max, who was dangerously ill of a kidney disease.

But his wife told …

Wilhelm Wulff: The Devil's Astrologer

Wilhelm Wulff's name may be unfamiliar to most people, yet he played an important role during the Second World War-- a role that indirectly altered the course of world history. Born in 1892, Wulff is best-remembered as a member of the court of Heinrich Himmler, Hitler's notorious head of the S.S. and chief of the Gestapo, where he served as Himmler's personal astrologer.

Wulff claimed to have accepted this position against his will; it was either take the job or be sent back to the concentration camp where he had been interred for several months. As a result, he maintained his freedom by casting daily horoscopes for one of the most reviled men in the history of mankind. Wulff's horoscopes were so accurate that Himmler himself rarely made a decision without consulting Wulff.

In his 1973 book Zodiac and Swastika Wilhelm Wulff details his life as a Nazi astrologer, offering a bizarre glimpse into the minds of men like Hitler, Himmler and Rudolph Hess, all of whom were obse…

A visit from beyond the grave?

Since its inception in 1892, the Society for Psychical Research has published innumerable papers on paranormal phenomena from around the world, while being one of the first organizations to catalog and archive reports of the strange and unusual. One of its earliest cases, which took place at a London photography store in January of 1891, still stands as one of the most unusual.

On Saturday morning, January 3, 1891, a photographer named James Dickinson arrived at his London studio around eight o'clock, and a little while later a young man by the name of Thompson stopped in to inquire whether or not his photograph was finished. Dickinson looked into the matter and informed Thompson that his photograph was not yet finished, but informed the customer that he should have it ready later that afternoon.

"But I've been traveling all night," the customer complained, "and I can't call again." Thompson unhappily left the studio without another word, and Dickinson c…

Hairy Men in Caves: True Stories of America's Most Colorful Hermits

Discover the hermit from Ohio who lived in a tree, the hermit from Iowa who shared a cave with a trained pig and later became an elected judge, the hermit from California whose life was immortalized in a Nat King Cole hit song, the hermit from New York who shot Billy the Kid, the hermit from Massachusetts who went to school with King Edward, the hermit from Michigan who helped capture Jefferson Davis, the hermit from Washington who had an army of trained skunks as bodyguards, the hermit from Tennessee who was raised in the White House, the frog-eating hermit from New Hampshire who captured the emperor of India, the hermit from Kentucky whose name became a famous brand of whiskey, the hermit who was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, and more! 

Hairy Men in Caves: True Stories of America's Most Colorful Hermits profiles the lives of over 80 of the most eccentric hermits, recluses and misanthropes of the past three centuries. Published by Sunbury Press, it is the largest compend…

The ghost dancer of Kataragama

Known as the "City of the Gods", the Sri Lankan holy city of Kataragama is sacred to Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims alike, and it has been a sacred place for thousands of years. Archaeological excavations have determined that Kataragama has been the site of human habitation for at least 125,000 years. With such an incredible history, it's easy to understand how this sacred site in Sri Lanka became a popular tourist destination.

In 1939, two Englishmen were shooting a travel film in the jungles of Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon) when they were attracted to an abandoned but majestic ancient temple near Kataragama that was in a state of ruin. The film crew consisted of Charles Brooke Farrar, an artist, and G.A. Smith, a photographer. Farrar and Smith both agreed that the ancient temple would be perfect for their project. They set up their camera and began filming.

Just as the men began shooting, they saw a stunningly beautiful girl they hadn't noticed before. She was d…

The haunted telephone

Can spirits use technology to get in touch with the living? Many people believe this to be true, and this belief has endured throughout modern history, from the invention of the telephone to the invention of the cellphone and the Internet. The following is a rather interesting story that originally appeared in the New York Sun in January of 1879 under the title "A Haunted Telephone".

Mr. John J. Ghegan, the night operator in the Newark office of the Western Union Telegraph Company, is agent for Professor Phelps' and Professor Edison's telephones and he has put up a large number of both kinds of the instruments in Newark. About three months ago he put up a Phelps telephone for Mr. J.J. O'Connor, the Catholic bookseller and publisher for the diocese of Newark. Mr. O'Connor is the agent for the Cemetery of the Holy Sepulcher, in East Orange, two miles from Mr. O'Connor's store and residence, at No. 103 Washington Street.

He frequently had occasion to se…

5 premonitions of death that defy explanation

Can some people accurately forecast their own death? The historical record suggests that, yes, they can. While it may not seem remarkable for a 100-year-old human or someone with a terminal illness to predict the time and day of their demise, history records numerous cases of healthy and otherwise normal individuals who were able to predict their departure from this word with startling accuracy. Below are five examples.

1. Ten-year-old boy unknowingly schedules his own funeral

On Sunday, July 15, 1883, the ten-year-old son of Judge J.D. Comstock from Colesville, New York, startled his parents by writing a note in which he declared something remarkable would soon take place. Although he was in perfect health, the boy died suddenly shortly thereafter and his funeral was scheduled for Friday, July 27 at 3 pm. Later that day the deceased boy's parents found the note the boy had written just days before and read it:

"Within twelve days after today, on Friday, at three minutes past…