Archive for May, 2023

Single Woman’s Travel Diary

Posted in Renee Marino on May 26, 2023 by tommcge

Come explore with a single woman as she chronicles her trip to three of the most haunted cities in the United States. Her first stop Boston, MA and its region 
Day 0: I’m bursting with excitement as I prepare for my trip through the haunted and historical past of our country. As a single woman, I’m always on the lookout for new adventures and experiences, and this trip promises to be full of them! From exploring the history of the Boston Tea Party to diving into the fascinating world of Gettysburg PA and Savannah GA. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me. Follow along with me on this journey and let’s discover the North of Boston together! #NorthOfBostonTour #SoloTraveler #AdventureAwaits

Day 1: Today, I had the incredible opportunity to step back in time and experience the Boston Tea Party firsthand at the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum! I dressed up as a colonial woman and threw tea overboard with the other “rebels.” It was an exhilarating experience, and I learned so much about the history of the American Revolution. I can’t wait to see what other adventures await me on this trip! #BostonTeaParty #LivingHistory #NorthOfBostonTour
Recommended Photo: A picture of me dressed up as a colonial woman throwing tea overboard with the other “rebels.
(…to be continued) While I know there are some exciting adventures remaining  ahead my , I’m still soaking up the beauty and charm of the North of Boston region. From the quaint streets of Salem to the bustling energy of Boston, there’s always something new to discover. If you’re interested in learning more about this trip or other amazing travel opportunities for single women like myself, don’t hesitate to reach out to me! Let’s explore the world together. #TravelSolo #NorthOfBostonTour #Wanderlust
Recommended Photo: A picture of me smiling and enjoying the scenery of the North of Boston region. 

Hell House on the Hill, Danvers MA

Posted in Danvers MA, Ghosts, Haunted History on May 23, 2023 by tommcge

Open: May 1, 1878–Hell House on the Hill

When Dr. Calvin S. May is appointed superintendent of the hospital, the state of  Massachusetts had been undergoing a shift in treatment of the mentally ill. The focus was now “to create a humane and compassionate environment for the patients. The disabled would be placed in a beautiful, healthy and welcoming community where they would be treated with compassion and love.” But…

Instead, Danvers State Lunatic Asylum and others like it became a place of torture, forced fear and abuse. The land which the psychiatric hospital rests, in Danvers, MA is purchased from Francis Dodge in 1874., The need for such an institution North of Boston is caused by the closure “of the facility at South Boston.” The overcrowding of the areas other residences in the region are also a concern. For example, by 1866 Tewksbury Asylum held 1300 patients; it is meant to house only 1000. While this is happening, 1200 more mentally disabled individuals were distributed within this system.

The new complex in the town of Danvers included a school for nurses, segregated buildings for men and women, a research laboratory, a clinic to study “ mental deficiency in children,” and a tuberculosis center. By the time of its closing on June 24,1992 the mental health department in the state went from a place of beauty where, in theory the disabled could get a sense of “balance restored” to a place where patients feared.

“Despite every effort to preserve this natural historic treasure, despite its unique place in the history of the area and in the humane treatment of the mentally ill, Dr Kirkbride’s approach of fresh air, good food gainful occupation, etc. and a limit of 500 patients (maximum in the facility) [which] was later distorted by overcrowding in the 20th century. [This] does not negate the benefits of Kirkbride’s original vision.”

H.P. Lovecraft used this Danvers Psychiatric Hospital as his inspiration for Arkham Asylum, It also turns out the land which this building would sit belonged to John Hathorne, the chief judge overseeing the trials in Salem (1692-1693). In the 1980s 115 patients go missing, their whereabouts are still unknown! So is this place haunted? Are the spirits of those terror victims roaming the grounds? Remember, what this mental institution’s nickname is… 

Savannah’s Other Cemetery

Posted in Renee Marino on May 17, 2023 by tommcge

Colonial Park Cemetery—The Other Burial Ground 

Image being on a ghost tour in Savannah and witnessing a rare sighting of a soul from the grave first hand. This is what happened in November, 2001. James Caskey, a tour guide is leading a group of tourists when he noticed several people looting intensely at something. Turning around the guide saw a mist, four to five feet high rising from the ground, swirling and then disappearing.

This is  one of many ghostly appearances to have occurred in Colonial Park Cemetery—the other burial ground in Savannah. Consecrated in 1750, this is the oldest graveyard; located   right in the middle of the city. There are 700 headstones in the cemetery but twelve thousand are believed buried here. When the community expanded, the boundaries of the cemetery shrank. So when Savannah’s population say the city is built on it’s dead believe them.

Along Abercrombie Street  tourists will notices several “depression and humps”  along the sidewalk. It is believed they are from buried coffins which have “ collapsed under the weight of the bricks and earth over them.” The cemetery would stop burying the dead in 1896 and includes yellow fever victims (please see post on the yellow fever epidemic on this site), Civil War veterans and several victims of violence. Colonial Park Cemetery is now a tourist memorial to the victims of Savannah’s history and their connection with the Belle of the South.

People who are buried here includes:

Button Gwinnett— Signer of the Declaration of Independence. Killed in a duel with Lachlan McIntosh

Lachlan McIntosh—a military and strategist. Buried a few feet from Button Gwinnett 

Archibald Bulloch—Signer of the Declaration of Independence and defended the colony of Georgia during the American War from Britain. The great-great grandson of Theodore Roosevelt, he died under mysterious circumstances. 

There are also many headstones  that have been changed and lists the names of the dead as much older than they were. An example of this is that of Susannah Gray. A young woman who passed at age 21 her tomb though, reads, age “121 years and 1,121 days” This and other changes to headstones are attributed to the Union Army, which camped here in 1864.

Theory on Salem Witch Hysteria (1692-1693)

Posted in 17th century, Salem MA, Witchcraft Hysteria on May 13, 2023 by tommcge

Salem’s Coast (now)

An Alternative Theory to the Salem Witch Hysteria (1692)

In Salem,1692 a community is on edge and intolerance would soon be its master. While many theories have been tested, I have thought about the way people lived in the late 17th century must have contributed to the hysteria. For example, the houses were small, crowded, and damp. Chairs were few; usually only the head of the household had one. The rest sat on benches. 

The understanding of human anatomy is also in flux. Most doctors in the 17th century still adhered to the concept of the four humors within the body. The theory suggests they were specific fluids which were the primary cause for illness. Classified as blood, phlegm, yellow and black bile. It was believed illness set in when a patient had “too much of one” of these in their body’s system. Surgical  operations in the meantime are done by barber-surgeons. (How would you like your barber today to operate on you?)

The life expectancy is 35 years , with most deaths coming in childhood. It had been said if a youngster is able to survive past their teenage years, they could possibly live into their 50s or 60s

Colonists in this century also would have consumed high quantities of cider, rum and beer. Alcoholic drinks were the preferred choice of beverage since drinking water is often deemed unhealthy and dirty.

There are fears of Indian attacks; being abducted, tortured or scalped. Not to mention piracy that saw those swashbuckling sea dogs just off Massachusetts’ coast.

Again, many theorists have argued about the cause of the crisis in Salem MA (1692-1693) . Not a lot have been attributed to lifestyle though. All these proposed ideas as to why, I believe must be included with the closeness of the community. That is, the fears of attacks, abuse and the close proximity to which they lived to one another.

A most notorious prison: Andersonville Prison

Posted in Andersonville Prison Camp, Cemeteries, Civil War, POW (Prisoners of War) on May 11, 2023 by tommcge
“There are deeds, crimes that may be forgiven but this is not among them.” Walt Whitman

Andersonville Prison opened in February 1864 and is now considered, by many to the worst prison camp to operate in the history of the country. Originally constructed to hold Northern inmates captured during the war after the prisoners exchange system collapsed. The prison soon became a place of torture, terror and brutality. 

Picture being taken prisoner during the Civil War and assigned to Andersonville. Incarcerated in a place meant to hold 10,000;  six months after it opened held 30,000+. In addition, you would face hunger, severe illness and violence between your fellow inmates.

Henry Wirz would eventually be tried, found guilty and ordered the be hanged for overseeing the horrific crimes that occurred at the prison. Some believe that he had been used as a scapegoat for other Southerners. The trial took two months and convicted of war crimes and Wirz is sentenced to execution on. November 10, 1865

Andersonville National Historic Site is now a reminder of this time. Visitors can view the memories of POW (Prison of War) at the museum which is located on the grounds. They may also wander through National Cemetery, which holds the remains of past POW and is still receiving veterans for burial.

Fort Frederica, Savannah GA

Posted in History, SavannahGA on May 8, 2023 by tommcge

 Fort Frederica, the first fort 

Established in 1736, Fort Frederica is built. Its construction had been created as a defense against Spanish encroachment. At the time of Georgia’s founding, the colony would eventually become a barrier between English and Spanish territories . When James Oglethorpe arrived in 1733, the colony lay on land under Spanish control with “a number of missionaries along the Georgia coast.” When these were abandoned, the English moved in for their defense and the construction of the fort began 

Challenges soon arose and ushered in a period of tension. Fort Frederica stands as a symbol of British power and a barrier against Spanish invasion. A year later the two nations were at war. King George’s war began when Oglethorpe made a move on Spanish St. Augustine. This military scheme failed however and Oglethorpe’s men returned northward. “The Spanish response came two years later.”Thirty-six ships with 2,000 men sailed to St. Simons Island and eventually captured the fort there. Once seized, the British evacuated and returned again to Fort Frederica. 

Spanish troops, commanded by Manuel deMontiano went after them.. General Oglethorpe however was prepared and the the latter had to scramble back to Fort St. Simons. Thus ending the War of the Austrian Succession. Never again would the Spanish try to get a foothold in the colony of Georgia.

When Oglethorpe first stepped onto the new world however, his vision had been one of a social experience. He and the trustees of the colony dreamed of transporting debtor from Great Britain to work in cooperation with each other. But, soon they realized the colony would need a population consisting of skilled craftsmen to thrive. By 1743 there were fewer than 1,000 people left and the peace treaty of 1748 left Fort Frederica in ruins when the last British troops were withdrawn.

The Yellow Fever Epidemics of 1820, 1854 &1876

Posted in History, SavannahGA, Yellow Fever on May 6, 2023 by tommcge

The symptoms, the burials the mass graves; being buried alive!

Why is Savannah so haunted?

The city of Savannah has had its share of disasters, disease deaths, etc. It is considered to be the most haunted (depending on what region of the country you’re in, but certainly is in contention.) There were three major Yellow Fever outbreaks during the history of Savannah: 1820, 1854 and 1876; with the1876 virus considered the worst. A plaque, in regards of the 1820 epidemic located in Colonial Park Cemetery reads, “almost 700 people buried here.” Note, the actual number of dead is 666. 

When you contacted Yellow Fever you initially exhibit muscle aches, vomiting and perhaps bleeding. This, followed by delirium and then the victim would fall into a coma. After death came, the body would be thrown into a mass grave.  For the lucky who got placed into a coffin, the chance of being buried alive became all to real.

This is evident by by the scratches from inside some of the coffins uncovered at the city’s cemeteries. The cause for this is simple, the victim’s would become comatose, their heartbeat would slow with their breathing non-detectable. Thus, the trauma of being buried alive is born. The solution: to tie a piece of string extending from the corpse’s finger to a bell near their headstone.

Yellow Fever has left its mark on Savannah and for the spirits of its citizens it has reached into the heart of history.

The Pirate House Restaurant, Savannah GA

Posted in History, Pirates, Restaurants, SavannahGA, travel on May 2, 2023 by tommcge

Eat where pirates used to dine? Or, did they…

When you stop in to The Pirate House Restaurant, you will step back in time to Savannah’s golden age of piracy. Eat where famed swashbucklers used to dine.  Hear tales of their and the victims they Shanghaied. 

Imagine eating in a place where visitors used to be kidnapped and forced to work as pirates. Where these rogues would conspire to get young men intoxicated then used the tunnels beneath the city to get them aboard ships, usually destined for the Orient. These men were abducted and usually transformed into pirates themselves. But, how factually accurate is this?

The Pirates House, constructed in 1794 in the poor Irish section of town . It sits on land once established for a Botanical Garden, which ultimately failed  The restaurant is opened in 1953 by Jim Casey, a visionary and historian. Casey immediately capitalized on the myths of the golden years of piracy. The house began telling tales of shanghaied sailors, ghosts of pirates and  underground tunnels leading to the Savannah River. 

Ultimately, the truth will prevail however. Pirates probably did not frequent the famed pirate house; but privateers most likely did. Privateers were legalized pirates. In other words, the former were hired by a government while pirates were outlaws. Many of these swashbucklers became fierce sea dogs after 1714, the end of Queen Ann’s War (War of Spanish Succession). Many sailors, who had been in the employ of England entered the world of piracy. Men, suddenly unemployed and wanting revenge against the nation they once worked began the illegal seizure of British assets. On a downward swing by the time of The Pirate House construction, it is unlikely famous pirates walked its floors. And…

Concerning those underground tunnels, they were most likely used as a storage space for nearby Fort Wayne. Sailors probably were Shanghaied but by privateers, not pirates. The latter would have no need to kidnap young men because those in the piracy realm were treated much better (given an equal share of the treasure, had a vote in the days activities , etc.) than privateers. In fact, some claim privateers were the real pirates.

Nevertheless, The Pirate House Restaurant is a great place to dine. There are guided tour but, please remember fiction is always stranger (and stronger) than the truth. The truth is not important, it’s how the story is told.