CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS

CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS

Saturday, November 8, 2014

America's real-life haunted houses: GHOSTLY AMERICAN LEGENDS

 

 

 

  • Almost one third of Americans claim to have been to or have lived in a haunted house, says new poll
  • Gruesome accounts behind reported sightings, including the unsolved axe slaughtering of six children
  • Almost all stories prove to be retribution-based
  • Rare sights of 'friendly' ghosts

From the New Orleans torture attic that inspired the latest series of American Horror Story to the Iowa cottage that witnessed the shocking unsolved ax murders of several children - welcome to America's six most-haunted houses.

A shortlist of the most well-documented properties across the United States that are reportedly possessed by ghosts and other supernatural spirits has been compiled on the back of statistics that nearly one third of Americans claim to have experienced an encounter with the undead.

According to the 'Haunted House Report' on Realtor.com, 35 per cent of respondents claim they have lived or are living in a place that is haunted.

Known warning signs that a house may be inhabited are said to include having a cemetery on the property, if it is over 100 years old, whether it is close to battlegrounds or crime scenes or any quick transitions between owners, according to CBS.

Ed Kushins, a global travel expert, has put together a creepy criteria to determine the country's most ghoulish abodes and their gruesome histories.

Some are even available to stay overnight.

1.) LaLaurie Mansion, New Orleans

LaLaurie

Now: 1140 Royal Street, New Orleans, is said to be haunted by several slaves who died horrific deaths in a torture chamber at the hands of owner Madame LaLaurie

Built in 1832, this New Orleans manor is reputed to be haunted by several mistreated slaves - a story stemming from a fire in the building in 1834, when neighbors helping to save furniture from the flames reputedly found tortured slaves chained up in the attic by owner Marie Delphine LaLaurie, better known as Madame LaLaurie, a prominent Louisianan socialite and, it would later be discovered, serial killer.

LaLaurie Mansion

Then: LaLaurie Mansion in 1832

The fire had started in the kitchen and upon entering the home, police found an elderly woman, the cook, chained to the stove from the ankle.

According to the New Orleans Bee of April 11, 1834, bystanders found 'seven slaves, more or less horribly mutilated ... suspended by the neck, with their limbs apparently stretched and torn from one extremity to the other', who claimed to have been imprisoned there for some months.

Upon hearing this and once the fire was out, an angry mob descended upon the house and all-but completely destroyed it.

Actress Kathy Bates plays a character based on LaLaurie in the current season of American Horror Story, Coven.

The home, which was rebuilt to resemble the original, was owned by actor Nicholas Cage from 2007 until 2009.

Not much is known of LaLaurie's life after the fire.

However writer Harriet Martineau documented that LaLaurie fled New Orleans during the mob violence, taking a coach to the waterfront and traveling by schooner from there to Mobile, Alabama and then on to Paris.

She is rumored to have died in Paris in a boar-hunting accident.

2.) Villisca Ax Murder House, Iowa

Axe murder

It has been a century since Josiah and Sarah Moore, their four children and two visiting children were hacked to death with an ax while they slept. The tiny town where they lived in Iowa has never been the same

Axe murder

This photo, taken in 2011, shows the bedroom of Herman, 11, Katherine, 9, Boyd, 7, and Paul Moore, 5, at the time of the Villisca ax murders. Investigators believe the killer or killers attacked the parents first before moving to the children

On a quiet residential street in the small Iowa town of Villisca sits an old white frame house.

On a dark evening, the absence of lights and sounds are the first indication to visitors that the house is different from the other homes that surround it.

Upon closer inspection,it's doors and windows are tightly closed and covered.

An outhouse in the backyard suggests that this house does not occupy a place in the 21st century.

That's because on the night of June 10, 1912, the six members of the Moore family who lived here and two other children were killed in what remains the state's worst mass murder.

Parents Josiah and Sarah and their four children Herman, 11, Katherine, 10, Boyd, 7, and Paul, 5, as well as two of the Katherine's friends Ina, 8, and Lena, 12, were all found with severe head wounds from an ax.

Investigators believed that all of the victims except for Lena Stillinger had been asleep at the time of the murders.

Investigators also believed Lena attempted to fight back because a defensive wound was discovered on her arm.

Lena was found on the bed with her nightgown pushed up to her waist and no undergarments on, leading to speculation that the killer or killers sexually molested her or attempted to do so.

While many suspects emerged, Rev. George Kelly, a traveling minister and suspected pedophile, was twice tried for the murders but was acquitted both times.

The case remains unsolved.

3.) Farnsworth House, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Gettysburg, PA,

Used to house soliders during the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War, Farmsworth House Inn is now a bed and breakfast that is thought to be crawling in ghosts

The famous Civil War battle at Gettysburg was one of the bloodiest in its four-year history. Farnsworth House, named for Brigadier General Elon J. Farnsworth, was home to Confederate sharpshooters, who would shoot union soliders from the windows during the conflict.

It later operated as a makeshift hospital, and currently functions as a nine-room bed and breakfast.

Five of those rooms are said to be haunted by the ghosts of fallen soldiers, as well as a midwife called Mary, whom many guests have reportedly seen sitting on their beds at night.

4.) Joshua Ward House, Salem, Massachusetts

Joshua Ward House

Joshua Ward House, 148 Washington Street, Salem. This brick mansion was built for merchant Joshua Ward in the 1780s on a foundation that had previously been owned by Sheriff George Corwin, who became known as 'The Strangler' for his role in the killing of many accused witches during the Salem trials of the 1690s. The spirits of his victims are said to still reside in the house today.

Joshua Ward House

Inside: One of the rooms of the haunted Joshua Ward House

Joshua Ward House

Today: Robert Murphy, owner of Higginson Book Company, bought Joshua Ward House in 1994, but it has been vacant for two years

The town of Salem, Massachusetts is no stranger to macabre record and disturbing legends and Joshua Ward House is one of its most prominent.

The Georgian/Federal style building was constructed by Joshua Ward, a wealthy merchant sea captain, in the late 1780s on foundations built by notorious former sheriff George Corwin.

Corwin was a bloody figure whose zeal added to the unfortunate events surrounding the Salem Witch Trials in the late 1600s.

Nicknamed ‘The Strangler’ for his preferred method of torture (which included tying his victims’ necks to their ankles until the blood ran from their noses), he is said to be responsible for death of countless witches.

One of them was Giles Corey, a man who stood accused of witchcraft who Corwin crushed to death by placing heavy stones on his chest in order to extract a confession.

Before he died, Corey curses the Corwin and all the sheriffs that would follow him.

Rumor has it every sheriff since Corey uttered this curse has died while in office or has been ‘forced out of his post as the result of a heart or blood ailment’.

Corwin himself died of a heart attack in 1696.

Today, many of Corwin's victims, including Corey, are said to live in Joshua Ward House.

5.) Dock Street Theater, Charleston, South Carolina

Dock Street Theatre

Then: The building that stands on Charleston's Church Street today is not the original Dock Street Theater, though it is thought to be haunted by some of its original actors, theater-goers and a local prostitute

Dock Street Theatre

Now: The theatre recently underwent a three-year, $18 million renovation

The tales of those that haunt the Dock St Theater - on the site of America's first theater - is much different from the serial killer, soldier and witch-type ghosts usually heard.
It was originally constructed around 1809 as Planter's Hotel by the Calder
It's said that there are two entities that continuously wander around the theater. One of them was a famous actor by the name of Junius Brutus Booth, most famously known as the father of the man who killed President Abraham Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth.
The other ghostly creature, a nameless prostitute locals call "Nettie" who is believed to have frequented the area also in the 1800's.
Nettie worked at the hotel and was struck by lightening standing on her porch.
She was killed instantly.
The theater recently underwent a three-year, $18 million renovation.

6.) Boone Hall Plantation, Charleston, South Carolina

Boone Hall Plantation, Charleston, South Carolina

A former major brickyard in South Carolina, at one time the Boone Hall Plantation used up to 225 slaves to keep up with the demand. The many who died working still roam the land, folklore says

Boone Hall Plantation, Charleston, South Carolina

These are the brickyard quarters where the slaves would live

Boone Hall Plantation, Charleston, South Carolina

Today: The gorgeous grounds of the Boone Hall Plantation in Charleston,

The Boone Hall Plantation, founded by Major John Boone and then sold to brothers John and Henry Horlbeck, is the final place on the list of America's most haunted houses.

And like LaLaurie Mansion, it is said to be inhabited by mistreated slaves.

The brothers expanded the property's brickyard and set some of their 225 slaves to work operating dangerous kilns for the local building industry beginning in 1817.

According to legend, the numerous spirit sightings at the plantation have all occurred within 20 feet of the kiln, and a slave girl and slave boy are the most commonly spotted.

This October 31st, as they do every year, millions of costumed kids — and a good number of grown-ups — will be fanning out across neighborhoods and going to parties in cities and towns all over the world. The creatures and characters on display will range from the topical (Ted Cruz, anyone?) to the classic (ghouls, pirates, witches, superheroes). But no single emblem captures the spirit of the holiday quite as neatly as that old stand-by: a ghost.

Way back in 1957, in an article titled “American Ghostly Legends,” LIFE magazine paid spooky tribute to some of the country’s most celebrated ghosts — and ghost stories. The magazine’s editors introduced the elaborate, multi-page feature thus:

The native ghosts of the U.S. are less famous than their Old World, other-world counterparts. But there are a surprising number of them and they make up a colorful and diverse group.

Most American ghosts were born in the simpler past of colonial or frontier days. Even in today’s scientific age their stories, like the ghosts themselves, die hard. From the annals of unearthly Americana, nine of the most fascinating stories were selected [for this feature]. At their sites photographer Nina Leen caught the haunting and haunted atmosphere which might make any man, having heard the creaks and seen the eerie moving lights and shadows, believe that ghosts still walk.


 

 

Westover, a mansion on the James River in Virginia, said to be haunted by a young woman who died of a broken heart in the 18th century.

 

"The Baldwin Lights" are said to appear near railroad tracks in North Carolina, not far from where a train conductor was decapitated in 1867.

 

 

The ghost of Harriet Douglas Cruger is said to haunt her former home in Herkimer County, New York.

Mrs. Theodore Douglas Robinson, Harriet Cruger's great-grandniece, plays a piano in the reportedly haunted house.

The stairwell in the Octagon House in Washington, down which a lovelorn girl is said to have plunged to her death sometime in the 19th century.

A white horse was said to appear each time someone died at Cliff House, near Hendersonville, North Carolina.

The Bell Witch of Tennessee had only one aim in the afterlife: to haunt and harass a prosperous farmer named John Bell and his daughter Betsy.

The Bell Witch of Tennessee was said to have appeared to Betsy Bell near a tree like this one, warning Betsy not to marry the man she loved.

 

A garden at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., is said to be the site of a 17th-century murder of a young man by a father who forbade his daughter to see the lad. The father and daughter, caught by townspeople while they were trying to flee the scene of the crime, were both burned to death.

When the moon is full, the ghost of a young woman burned to death centuries before is said to haunt a garden at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., "and in the air can be sensed a pungent, lingering smell of smoke."

Not published in LIFE. Photo made for the article, "Ghostly American Legends," LIFE, Oct. 28, 1957.

 

 

 

 

 

   

America's real-life haunted houses: The abandoned properties whose murderous histories are so terrifying they cannot be sold and even their neighbors are too scared to venture inside

  • The series of photos were taken by Seph Lawless his new book 13: An American Horror Story
  • All the houses book are empty and have that have seen murders and suicides as well as creepy happenings

These are America's real-life haunted houses -  abandoned properties which provided the backdrop for such bloody and brutal histories they cannot be sold.

The series of photos were taken by Seph Lawless his new book 13: An American Horror Story.

All the houses in his book are empty and have provided the backdrop for murders and suicides as well as creepy happenings.

Scroll down for video

The Oliver Family Mansion, Chester, Pennsylvania. The Oliver family went missing in 1898, a mystery that baffled investigators. The family was never found, but locals say they can sometimes see the Olivers in the windows of the mansion

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The Oliver Family Mansion, Chester, Pennsylvania. The Oliver family went missing in 1898, a mystery that baffled investigators. The family was never found, but locals say they can sometimes see the Olivers in the windows of the mansion

The Sayer House in Kentucky -  after both parents committed double suicide their four small children raised themselves for more than a decade in this home

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The Sayer House in Kentucky -  after both parents committed double suicide their four small children raised themselves for more than a decade in this home

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The Hooley Haunted Mansion in Texas was home to several strange deaths in the 1970s, when the mansion served as a bed and breakfast

Lawless toldSlate he found entering the homes 'terrifying' but not due to their past: 'I'm more concerned with my reality of being attacked by derelicts, murderers or criminals that often inhabit these places.'

But he admitted that in some of the buildings he did see and hear things he could not explain.

For example in one house featured in the book, doors slammed violently shut, seemingly of their own accord.

In Detroit, Lawless, who promotes his work via a Facebook page, saw 'what appeared to be a pool of blood' in the corner of a room.

Lawless said it was only when he was editing the images on his computer that he noticed 'shadowy figures hiding behind objects in the photo'

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Lawless said it was only when he was editing the images on his computer that he noticed 'shadowy figures hiding behind objects in the photo'

The Oliver Family Mansion, Chester, Pennsylvania. The Oliver family went missing in 1898, a mystery that baffled investigators. The family was never found, but locals say they can sometimes see the Olivers in the windows of the mansion

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The Doll House in Mansion in Philadelphia is an abandoned mansion full of dolls, saws, and other tools neatly displayed on metal shelves throughout several rooms

'I called police but after about an hour the Detroit Police Department didn't show and I left,' he said.

He said it was only when he was editing the images on his computer that he noticed 'shadowy figures hiding behind objects in the photo.'

'It was more than likely someone in the house was hiding there after I had entered. There's no way for me to know now since I didn't edit the images until weeks later.'

One of the homes pictured is the Oliver Family Mansion in Chester, Pennsylvania.

The Oliver family went missing in 1898, a mystery that baffled investigators.

Locals say the owner of Ohio's Milan Mansion was a practicing witch. The original owner, known as the Milan Witch, is rumored to be buried underneath the front porch

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Locals say the owner of Ohio's Milan Mansion was a practicing witch. The original owner, known as the Milan Witch, is rumored to be buried underneath the front porch

The Haught Mansion in Brush Park, Michigan, used to be a brothel. Several dead bodies were later found in the cellar

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The Nova House, Youngstown, Ohio. Benjamin Albright shot and killed his son by accident and then killed himself and his wife in 1958. The home has been vacant ever since and still has personal belongings inside

12.) In 1941, The Haught Mansion (Brush Park, MI) was used for brothel for upscale gentleman. Years later several dead bodies were found in the cellar of the Mansion. Each body had been marked by a what appeared to be a perfect circle on the torso and chest areas

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12.) In 1941, The Haught Mansion (Brush Park, MI) was used for brothel for upscale gentleman. Years later several dead bodies were found in the cellar of the Mansion. Each body had been marked by a what appeared to be a perfect circle on the torso and chest areas

The family was never found, but locals say they can sometimes see the Olivers in the windows of the mansion

The Nova House in Youngstown, Ohio was the place where father Benjamin Albright shot and killed his son by accident then killed himself and his wife after being struck with anguish and guilt in 1958.

The home has been vacant ever since and still has some of their personal belongings inside.

In Akron, Ohio, the childhood bedroom of one of the most notorious serial killers in American history is featured.

Robert Berdella (also known as the Butcher of Kansas City), raped, tortured and killed at least six men between 1984 and 1987.

The Hooley Haunted Mansion was home to several strange deaths throughout the 1970s when the mansion served as a bed and breakfast for passing transients.

The Bailey Mansion (Hartford, Connecticut) is the haunted house that inspired the popular television series American Horror Story

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Abandoned house in East Cleveland, Ohio, where serial killer Anthony Sowell hid victims' bodies

The Sewell house is now demolished but locals would cross the street to avoid walking on the sidewalk directly in front of the house. 

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The Sewell house is now demolished but locals would cross the street to avoid walking on the sidewalk directly in front of the house.

In 1941, the Haught Mansion, Brush Park, MI, was used as a brothel for upscale gentleman.

Years later, several dead bodies were found in the cellar. Each had been marked by what appeared to be a perfect circle on the torso and chest areas.

A Cleveland home where suspected serial killer Michael Madison tortured and killed his victims, three teenage girls, a few years ago, is also in the book.

The bodies were only found when a cableman called police complaining about a foul odor coming from the area

The house is now demolished but locals would cross the street to avoid walking on the sidewalk directly in front of the house.

One of the more eerie homes is the Doll House in Mansion in Philadelphia.

It is an abandoned mansion just full of dolls, saws, and other tools neatly displayed on metal shelves throughout several rooms.

The Temple Haunted Mansion in Detroit, Michigan, was the site of a triple murder in August 1942. Neighbors stated they might even hear the ghosts from next door. This mansion was demolished by the city of Detroit on the same day Seph Lawless' book was released this month

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The Temple Haunted Mansion in Detroit, Michigan, was the site of a triple murder in August 1942. Neighbors stated they might even hear the ghosts from next door. This mansion was demolished by the city of Detroit on the same day Seph Lawless' book was released this month

The Bailey Mansion in Hartford, Connecticut, is the haunted house that inspired the popular television series American Horror Story

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The Bailey Mansion in Hartford, Connecticut, is the haunted house that inspired the popular television series American Horror Story

Locals say the owner of Ohio's Milan Mansion was a practicing witch, known as the Milan Witch.

She is rumored to be buried underneath the front porch.

The Temple Haunted Mansion in Detroit, Michigan, was the site of a triple murder in August 1942.

The Bailey Mansion (Hartford, Connecticut) is the haunted house that inspired the popular television series American Horror Story, which pon on a family that moves into a house haunted by its former deceased occupants.

The Cater House Estate in Buffalo, New York, was home to a local sheriff who shot himself after the place went into foreclosure in 1968.

The house has remained vacant ever since, but locals claim they regularly hear voices coming from it.

The Cater House Estates, Buffalo, New York. Home to local Sheriff Donald Caters, who shot himself after the home went into foreclosure in 1968. The house remained vacant and was said to have been haunted ever since - locals often heard voices on site. The home was demolished in late 2013 

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The Cater House Estates, Buffalo, New York. Home to local Sheriff Donald Caters, who shot himself after the home went into foreclosure in 1968. The house remained vacant and was said to have been haunted ever since - locals often heard voices on site. The home was demolished in late 2013

The childhood bedroom of one of the most notorious serial killers in American history, Robert Berdella (also known as the Butcher of Kansas City)

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The childhood bedroom of one of the most notorious serial killers in American history, Robert Berdella (also known as the Butcher of Kansas City)

 

   
     


A house in Henniker, N.H., said to be haunted by a red-haired woman named Mary who died in 1814.

 

A house in Hadley, Mass., said to be haunted by Elizabeth Porter, dead for more than 200 years. This four-poster bed reportedly often "shows the impress of her frail body."

 

 

A house in Henniker, N.H., said to be haunted by a red-haired woman named Mary who died in 1814.

Nina Leen—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

In a house in Hadley, Mass., the whirring of long-dead Elizabeth Porter's spinning wheel is often heard toward dawn.

 

   














   

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