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Showing posts from 2016

Woman frightened by ghost jumps from railing

An interesting ghost story from Akron, Ohio. From the Richmond Item, October 17, 1895

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Why have so many celebrities died in 2016?

When I heard about the passing of George Michael earlier today, it brought to mind several emails I've received from readers over the past few months, asking "What's up with all the celebrity deaths this year?" From the deaths of David Bowie to Prince, it seems that every day some iconic entertainer is gone away before their time. Some readers wanted to know if perhaps there is some sort of astrological phenomenon at play, or perhaps some mysterious curse.

Of course, since Journal of the Bizarre deals with all things spooky, we were curious ourselves, so we conducted our own scientific study of dead celebrities (which very well may be the first of its kind) to see if there really is anything unusual about 2016. We pored over every celebrity death since 2000-- that's 17 years worth of deceased singers, actors, authors, directors, models, professional athletes, politicians and any one else whose death warranted a mention on the venerable website…

The Bible Code and the 2016 Presidential Election

Did Bible Code experts foresee a victory for Donald Trump?

Prophecy is a funny thing. It's one thing to look for signs and codes and hidden messages after an incident has already taken place, but prophecy takes on a different perspective when a prediction was made long before the incident occurs. For instance, many people looked to the prophecies of Nostradamus after the 9/11 attacks and seemingly found "proof" that Nostradamus "foresaw" the terrible event (the proof, of course, being a vaguely worded passage that kind of resembles something that could possibly be construed as a description of what happened). These interpretations are subjective; people fit Nostradamus' vague words to events that have already happened, pointing out similarities to suit their interests. This is what is known as "retroactive clairvoyance", or "postdiction" (as opposed to prediction).

While the quatrains of Nostradamus were all the rage in the 80s and 90s, …

Haunted Apples: The Legend of Micah Rood

From the Granny Smith to the red delicious, there are hundreds of varieties of apples-- but only one of them recalls the legend of a blood-chilling murder.

This particular variety of apple comes from New England and traces its roots to Norwich, Connecticut. It has fair, firm yellow skin and excellent flavor and each individual apple, when cut in half, exhibits a red speck, like a drop of blood. Known locally as the "Mike" apple, this variety is named after a 17th century farmer named Micah Rood.

Micah was the son of Thomas Rood, one of the earliest settlers of Norwich. As a youth he dutifully tended and cultivated his father's fertile acres but one day his habits changed. He became gloomy and restless and began shirking his duties in favor of whiskey. He lost interest in his work and stopped attending church. He was shunned by his neighbors, many of whom believed that Micah had fallen under a witch's spell.

One spring, after winter melted away and the countryside bu…

The Best of Pennsylvania Oddities

If you enjoy Journal of the Bizarre, be sure to visit our sister blog, Pennsylvania Oddities, where we delve into all things odd and peculiar from around the Keystone State. From unsolved murders to haunted places, from lost treasure to mysterious creatures, Pennsylvania Oddities has something for everyone to enjoy!

Here are just a few examples of what Pennsylvania Oddities has to offer:

Mount Carmel's Mysterious Suicide Cell

This quaint small town gift shop has a morbid past--- including a half dozen documented suicides.

The True Story of Shamokin's Famous Missing Head

The search continues an unidentified murder victim's lost head, missing since 1904.

The Aeronaut's Fate

The strange but true story of Wash Donaldson, a famous hot air balloonist and his equally famous disappearance.

The Tragic Fate of Homer Swaney

When Homer H. Swaney lost his life in the sinking of the steamship Clallam off the Pacific coast in January of 1904, it concluded a strange tale of superstition…

Rubba Mumma: The Strange Superstition of Jamaica's River Mother

Of the many odd superstitions from the West Indies, the superstition of Jamaica's river mother, or Rubba Mumma, is perhaps the most famous and bizarre of them all.

While many Jamaicans might scoff at the idea of mermaids, many Jamaicans are adamant in their belief that water nymphs live at the heads of the island's mountain streams. In previous centuries the sources of these streams were considered sacred places; Jamaican plantation slaves persuaded their masters to allow them to sacrifice oxen or other livestock at the head of the waters as an offering to the Rubba Mumma, to ensure good fortune. Owners of sugar plantations gladly went along with this custom, since it was these mountain streams that powered the wheel of their sugar mills. On most sugar plantations a bull or calf was sacrificed annually to ward off droughts.

These sacrifices to the Rubba Mumma continued well into the 20th century, long after the closing of the island's last sugar plantation. In rural regio…

My Strangest Experience: The Boy Outside the Tent

How do we decide which reader-submitted stories to include in our My Strangest Experience series? We like to use a little something we call the tingle test. That's when you read something so spooky that it makes all the tiny hairs on your arms and ears and neck tingle. This story, submitted by a woman from Tennesee named Judy Yannick, definitely passed the test! 

During the summer of 1974 my family took its last summer vacation as a family. I had just turned nineteen and would be going away to the University of Tennessee in the fall. My younger brother Barry, who was a few months shy of his eighteenth birthday, had already committed himself to the navy and he, too, would be going away. As we had done every year since I was old enough to remember, we took our shiny Airstream camper to Lake Brownwood State Park in Texas. Located virtually near the state's geographical center, it was a convenient drive from our home in Winchell.

As usual, my parents, Flo and Louis Gotschall, got …

The most tragic coincidence that has ever happened

The only thing worse than getting hit by a train is getting hit by a funeral train. Such was the tragic fate of an unfortunate man who, in 1891, made the mistake of getting in the way of General William Tecumseh Sherman's funeral procession. The following comes from the Feb. 21, 1891 edition of the Pittsburgh Dispatch.

An intimate look at a 19th century morgue

In 1894, the city of Philadelphia completed construction of a new morgue on Wood Street. Philadelphians were proud of their new state-of-the-art morgue, so proud, in fact, that the Philadelphia Times devoted nearly an entire page of their June 3, 1894 edition to the new structure. This story, reprinted below, is a unique and fascinating glimpse of the day-to-day operations of a large city's death house more than 120 years ago, as well as the gruesome work performed by the "morgue-keeper" and other individuals who kept the morgue running.

The new Morgue on the north side of Wood street, above Thirteenth, is finished and ready to receive the city's unknown dead. Philadelphia is consequently better equipped in this department than any other city in the United States. In fact it is stated that although some of the European morgues, particularly those of Paris, Berlin and London, are larger than the Philadelphia institution, they are not by any means as satisfactorily equ…

David Rice Atchison: The Man who was President for One Day

Being that today is Election Day I thought it would be fitting to write about something presidential. And, being a website devoted to the strange and bizarre, the logical choice would have been to write about something spooky, like White House ghosts or some other aspect of Washington's haunted history. But, as entertaining as they may be, those types of stories have already been done to death.

Instead, today's post is about my favorite U.S. president. No, I'm not talking about Honest Abe or Thomas Jefferson or FDR. I'm not even talking about John Tyler (he was our 10th president, in case you had forgotten). I'm talking about David Rice Atchison-- a man forgotten by most, but remembered by few as the man who was "President for One Day".

Atchison was born in Kentucky in 1807 and studied law at Transylvania University in Lexington, where his classmates included several future prominent American politicians and the future President of the Confederacy, Jeffers…

The bone-chilling tale of the real Alice Cooper

According to urban legend, legendary rocker Vincent Furnier adopted the stage name of Alice Cooper after the name was revealed to him during a Ouija board session. In a BBC interview in 2009, however, Cooper revealed that the story was entirely made up for publicity purposes. According to the veteran rock star, the origin of the now-famous moniker was far less spooky; Alice Cooper was a fictional character on the Andy Griffith television series Mayberry R.F.D.

There was, however, a real Alice Cooper. And her story is far spookier than the urban legend.

(Editor's note: The following story is based on authentic news articles. For a complete list of sources, see end of blog post)

Alice Cooper lived in Walkerville, Ontario, during the early half of the 20th century. Awakened from a terrifying nightmare one night in the November of 1924, her subsequent actions led to one of the strangest mysteries in the history of Ontario.

Alice, who shared a home with her son, Jimmie, at 63 Monmouth …

John Dempsey goes hunting for humans

In the summer of 1878, John Dempsey of Staten Island, New York, decided to hunt his fellow man for sport. The following story appeared in the August 17, 1878 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

The woman who couldn't stay married

The above newspaper item from 1925 describes Ms. LaForge, perhaps the most divorced woman in American history. What makes her story even more unique is that most of Ms. LaForge's divorces came at a time when divorces were considered taboo and were, in many cases, extremely difficult to obtain.

JOTB weighs in on the death of Max Spiers

It's not every day a conspiracy theorist's death makes headlines in mainstream news outlets; In the past 24 hours, I've seen stories about Max's death everywhere from the New York Post to The Sun to Yahoo News. And, if you happened to click on any of these articles, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Mr. Spiers had just died recently, when, in fact, Max Spiers has been dead since the evening of July 16.

Back in July, few people outside of the Alex Joneses of the world reported on Max's death. So, why then, is the Internet suddenly blowing up over the "UFO expert-slash-government whistleblower who was found dead after vomiting black liquid"?

If you ask me, it's all for the sake of profit, brought on by the tens of millions of people around the world who are following Julian Assange and his recent WikiLeaks dump of emails targeting Hillary Clinton. Yes, October of 2016 is a great time to be a government whistleblower. Even if the whistleblower in qu…

Strange History: The Uncanny Death of George Melchior

A Ramble in Mental Telepathy

On a cold winter night in Chicago in 1894, there occurred an incident most bizarre and remarkable. The authenticity of this event was vouched for by one of the witnesses, a doctor by the name of L.T. Potter, who was employed by the Chicago Health Department. It is a story that seems to prove the phenomenon known as mental telepathy.

On the evening mentioned, Dr. L.T. Potter and a number of his colleagues were sitting in the lobby of the Oakland Hotel, at the corner of Drexel and Oakwood boulevards, when a stranger entered the room. His fine attire suggested a man of means, but he seemed afflicted with depression and anxiety. Dr. Potter and his friends sized him up as a man who had been out drinking and needed refuge from the harsh winter cold. From his worried expression they gathered he had been caught in the storm without sufficient money in his pockets to pay for a room.

The young stranger, growing offended by the stares and speculative murmurs, address…

An Ohio Spook Story

Stumbled across this interesting story, from the Feb. 21, 1891 edition of the Pittsburgh Dispatch:

Lord of the Bees?

The June 19, 1895 edition of the Kansas City Times describes the strange story of the funeral of a young boy who was fascinated with bees.

The Curse of John Wilkes Booth

History remembers John Wilkes Booth as the actor-turned-Southern sympathizer who shot and killed Abraham Lincoln in Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865. While the fate of Booth, along with that of co-conspirators Lewis Powell, David Herold, George Atzerodt and Mary Surratt, is well documented, less widely known are the bizarre fates of several other individuals who played a role in the drama of Lincoln's assassination.

One such example are the fates of the man and woman who accompanied President Lincoln to Ford's Theatre on that fateful night-- Major Henry Rathbone and his fiancée, Clara Harris. That these two individuals even ended up at Ford's Theatre in the first place is a strange twist of fate; Lincoln's invitation to attend the theatre that evening was rejected by several other people. Ulysses S. Grant and his wife Julia were originally invited, but Mrs. Grant (who was not fond of Mary Todd Lincoln), refused the invitation.
In the years following Lincoln's …

My Strangest Experience: The Thing in the Attic

We invite readers to share their most bizarre experiences and encounters, and so far we have received a few humdingers-- from the New England woman who had a strange experience with a shape-shifting dining room table to the man who was chased by a shadow being in upstate New York. Since we don't know these contributors personally it's impossible to vouch for their authenticity (although we strive to publish only those stories we believe to be true). Today's tale of the macabre, however, is different because it comes from a mutual friend of ours who, from our experience, is such an honest fellow that he makes Abe Lincoln seem like a pathological liar (come to think of it, we've uncovered convincing proof that Honest Abe wasn't as honest as he claimed to be). We've known Mark and his wife, Tamara, for several years, having first met them in 2006, about a year after the following series of incidents occurred in their apartment, housed in a Victorian home on Louisa…