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Showing posts from 2018

The mule with a snake in its eye

A rather strange story from the August 21, 1894 edition of the Delphos (OH) Daily Herald.

The Ghost of the Queen City Cotton Mill

The Lakeside Development in southern Burlington, Vermont, is one of the more interesting listings on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places because it is not a singular structure, but the remnant of a company town laid out in 1894 by the Queen City Cotton Company. The mill, which stood just to the east of the Vermont Railway tracks, was reportedly haunted by the ghost of a young woman named Mary Blair, who was killed by a train while walking to her Lakeside home in June of 1900. According to local legend, both the mill and the spot where she was killed have been visited by her spirit.

One following account of the haunting appeared in national newspapers in November of 1900.

And, for those who are interested, here is the June 30, 1900, article from the Burlington Free Press which describes her tragic death.

The Falls Church House of Horrors

Most people would agree that houses seem to have a spirit and personality all their own. Like the people who dwell inside of them, some houses seem to attract joy and happiness, while others seem to attract tragedy. Some may chalk this up to paranormal phenomenon, while the more skeptical among us may claim that it's nothing more than bad luck.

Yet, there are some houses with such dark histories that even the most skeptical person may have a hard time explaining it. One such house stood in Falls Church, Virginia, and this house was the scene of several unimaginable tragedies.

On a rainy Sunday morning in May of 1907, hundreds of curiosity seekers braved the mud and trudged their way up to the top of hill to obtain a glimpse not of the little white frame house, but the lifeless bodies of Silas Putnam and his housekeeper, Mrs. Emma Beavers-- victims of a shockingly brutal crime that had occurred the day before.

While murders and suicides always drew a good crowd of gawkers in those da…

Debunking the Pittsburgh Synagogue False Flag Claim

As could be expected, it didn't take long for right-wing conspiracy theorists to claim that the recent attack of the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh was a staged hoax.

Since we've devoted a lot of time to conspiracy theories over the years, we listened to these claims with casual interest, with no intention of weighing in on the matter. However, since we are based out of Pennsylvania, and are better informed than most outsiders about state politics, we thought it might be a good idea to debunk some of these spurious allegations before they pick up steam.

The most absurd allegations come from the alt-right conspiracy site State of the Nation, whose contributors were already crying "false flag!" within hours of the fatal shooting that claimed the lives of 11 Jewish worshipers. For those who are unfamiliar with this repository of right-wing hogwash, State of the Nation describes itself thusly:

We have no political affiliation.  SOTN …

The man who tricked P.T. Barnum

A rather amusing story about a fellow who successfully tricked P.T. Barnum out of $25 appeared in newspapers in October of 1861, and involves a man who sold Barnum a "cherry-colored" cat. Barnum soon learned, however, that cherries come in a variety of colors.

The Curious History of the Magic 8-Ball

With the possible exception of the Ouija board, the best-selling prognostication device in American history is the Magic 8-Ball. According to Mattel, over one million Magic 8-Balls are sold each year. I've owned one, and there's a good chance that you have too. However, while almost every man, woman and child is familiar with this beloved toy, few people are aware of its curious history.

Here are some truly fascinating facts about the Magic 8-Ball and its inventor, Albert Carter.

1. Carter was the son of a real-life fortune-teller

The inspiration behind Albert Carter's toy was a divination device used by his mother, Mary, who eked out a living as a professional clairvoyant in Cincinnati, Ohio, during the early 1900s. It was based on a tool used by psychics for "automatic writing"-- the supposedly supernatural phenomenon of jotting down words without conscious thought.

2. Carter's toy was originally known as the Syco-Seer

In 1945, Carter's invention hit toy…

Science confirms Earth's core is solid

For generations schoolchildren have been taught that the core of the Earth is liquid, while a smaller percentage of non-conformists adhere to the theory that the earth is hollow. Science has now conclusively proven that the earth is solid, confirming the theory first proposed by female Danish seismologist Inge Lehmann in 1936.

According to Daily Mail, Associate Professor Hrvoje Tkalčić and PhD Scholar Than-Son Phạm of Australia National University (ANU) arrived at this conclusion by studying shear waves, or 'J waves', which are produced by earthquakes and can only travel through solid objects. These waves cannot be observed directly, so the researchers had to devise a creative way to detect them.

They accomplished this feat though correlation wavefield method, a method which has been traditionally used to calculate the thickness of the ice-shelf in Antarctica. This correlation wavefield method also revealed another interest fact about the planet's core.

'We found the inn…

Jettatore: The Evil Eye of Casoli Paracrotti

At the turn of the last century, one of the roughest neighborhoods of New York was Five Points-- a bubbling cauldron of immigrant gangs, political corruption, overcrowded slums, filth and disease. One particularly rowdy area within Five Points was Mulberry Bend (or, as it was referred to be locals, "The Bend"). The Bend was a maze of tenement-lined streets and treacherous alleys with colorful names such as Bandit's Roost and Ragpicker's Row. In 1911, Mulberry Bend was demolished; Columbus Park now occupies the plot of real estate that was once known as the most dangerous and violent place in America.

During the late 19th century, however, the most feared man in Mulberry Bend was neither gang leader "Bill the Butcher" Poole nor his blood-thirsty Bowery Boys. Neither was it Irish mob boss John Morrissey or Tammany Hall thug Paudeen McLaughlin. No, the most feared denizen of Mulberry Bend was a diminutive Italian banana merchant by the name of Casoli Paracrott…

Military achieves breakthrough in telepathic warfare

“As of today, signals from the brain can be used to command and control … not just one aircraft, but three simultaneous types of aircraft.” These were the portentous words said by Justin Sanchez, director of DARPA’s biological technology office, at a recent event in Maryland.

Last week, tech editor Patrick Tucker of the Defense One website, reported that the U.S. military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has achieved a breakthrough in telepathic warfare-- or, at least, a breakthrough in the frightening field of brain-computer interfaces, otherwise known as BCIs.

The current breakthrough stems from 2015 research project, in which a paralyzed woman was able to steer a virtual F-35 fighter jet with a surgically-implantable microchip. Earlier this month, DARPA announced that they had improved the technology to allow a user to steer multiple aircraft at once, including drones.

According to Sanchez, the human guinea pig in this experiment was a paralyzed man named Natha…

The Incredible Tale of the Strahl Family Curse

In February of 1928 the wife of Dr. Samuel Oliver Netherton, a prominent physician from Kansas, was found dead in the basement of their home on a farm outside of Olathe. Death was instantaneous; she had been shot in the back of the skull at point blank range.

Suspicion, naturally, fell upon the dead woman's husband. This sent shock waves throughout the community, however, as Dr. Netherton was the last person anyone would ever suspect of carrying out such a foul deed. A graduate of prestigious Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Netherton was able to retire at an early age after accumulating substantial wealth, and had devoted his leisure time to world travel.

Mrs. Edith Netherton, who was born into the equally prosperous Stahl family, possessed property worth $100,000. The Nethertons, however, lived frugally, and few people around Olathe were aware of the couples' wealth. When it came to money, the Nethertons only splurged when it came to Dorothy-- their beloved nine-year-old daugh…

The cursed elk's head

The above story, published in 1938, describes an elk's head that was believed to be responsible for a series of fires in Minnesota. Weird.

Live fast, die young, and leave an exploding corpse

History records numerous instances of exploding corpses, usually caused by a buildup of combustible gases that are the natural byproduct of human decomposition, and since we found these articles to be quite fascinating, we thought we'd share them with our readers.

George Marlow: America's Greatest Bodysnatcher

While pillaging graves may seem like a revolting idea, it was a lucrative business in the United States during the 19th century. As the medical profession began to flourish, schools required a steady supply of cadavers for dissection and anatomical study. Enter the "Resurrection Men"- professional body snatchers who provided medical schools with stolen corpses. While hundreds of resurrection men operated throughout America in the late 1800s, few were as prolific as George Marlow.

In January of 1893, an inventive journalist concocted a creative scheme in order to get an interview with Marlow by pretending to be an agent of a medical college. Never one to turn away an opportunity to do business, Marlowe spilled his secrets to the undercover reporter. He acknowledged that his best customers were the medical departments of Georgetown University, Howard University, Columbian University (which later merged with George Washington University in 1904) and the National University Medi…

The deadliest bridge in Indiana?

In 1891, a railroad bridge over Stucker's Creek in Scott County, Indiana, had to be replaced because it was so low that it anyone standing on a train risked losing their head. The above newspaper article, from September of 1891, indicates that the bridge developed a reputation for being haunted after claiming the lives of 39 railroad employees.

Metaphysical Murder: The Strange Theory of the Duplicate Crime

One of the most accomplished detectives in history, Inspector Thomas F. Byrnes, developed an unusual theory which he called the Law of Duplicate Crimes. He believed that every unusual crime in which passion or intelligence played a role was psychically mirrored in another part of the world. While the two crimes may occur days apart, the crimes were virtual duplicates of each other, right down to remarkable coincidences and minor details.

Since Byrnes' pet theory had a ring of the supernatural to it, his Law of Duplicate Crimes is little remembered today, But in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with the rise of spiritualism and theosophy, many leading detectives of the era adopted the famed inspector's theory, and even achieved remarkable results by putting it to use. Other contemporary supporters of Byrnes' theory included the likes of French statistician Jacques Bertillon and Hungarian social critic and author Max Nordau.

While modern criminologists may refer to per…

Half-Hanged Maggie and other survivors of the gallows

Although execution by hanging fell out of favor in the United States by the end of the 19th century, the last execution by hanging in this country took place in Delaware in 1996. But, throughout history, hanging has been the most practiced form of capital punishment around the world; and while countless convicts-- guilty and innocent alike-- have met their demise at the end of a rope, history records several interesting examples of individuals who managed to  survive this barbaric death penalty.

One of the earliest recorded cases took place in Cambridgeshire, England, in 1264 when a woman by the name of Inetta de Balsham was sentenced to death for colluding with robbers. After she was hanged, her body remained on the gibbet for three days. Yet historical records indicate that de Balsham not only survived the ordeal, but was actually pardoned by King Henry III.

Botched hangings, it seems, were commonplace in England around this time; in 1313, Matthew Enderby was hanged until he was pron…

There's something spooky about white cats

A few weeks ago, while 'talking shop' with a fellow paranormal enthusiast, I casually mentioned that white cats have played a strange premonitory role in my life.

The first unusual encounter I had with a white cat occurred when I was in junior high. In order to get in shape for the upcoming football season, I had gotten into the habit of going out for a run every night, usually after midnight. One hot August night, as my footsteps echoed through the rain-dampened alleys and backstreets, just as I rounded the corner of my block and sprinted toward home a large white cat darted out from behind a trash can and dashed across the alley into an abandoned garage, nearly entangling itself with my feet. Although the unexpected incident scared the crap out of me at the time, I gave the matter little thought until the following morning, when my parents informed me that my ailing grandmother had passed away the previous evening in a local nursing home.

Of course, the death of my maternal g…

The ghost who plowed a field

This story comes from the Philadelphia Times, Sept. 4, 1892.

Unsolved Mystery: The Skeletons of Grape Island

Last week's post about the sale of the notoriously haunted Getter's Island in the Delaware River brought to mind another spectacularly spooky island, this one situated in the Kankakee River, about ten miles south of Joliet, Illinois.

Grape Island, at first glance, is hardly worthy of notice. It's a tiny speck of land, overshadowed by its much larger neighbor, Bardwell Island, and easily overlooked by most boaters and fishermen. However, this tiny island has a chilling history that dates back to the days before the Civil War.

In those days, the island was occupied by an early settler named Steele, who was a hunter and trapper and was generally known throughout the region as something of a mean-spirited recluse.

In 1861 Steele was visited by a fellow named Burrington, who had departed from Momence, Illinois, with $10,000 to purchase cattle for the U.S. army. Steele offered Burrington lodging for the night at his tiny house on Grape Island. He was never seen again, and in the…

Driven out of home by ghosts

The above article is from the Los Angeles Herald, April 27, 1905.