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Thomas Good / NLN via Wikimedia Commons //GFDL 
Thomas Good / NLN via Wikimedia Commons //GFDL 

7 More Haunted Places and the Ghost Stories Behind Them

Thomas Good / NLN via Wikimedia Commons //GFDL 
Thomas Good / NLN via Wikimedia Commons //GFDL 

Last week, we told you a quite a few ghost stories tied to specific locations. Below, a few more tales of spirits doomed to spend eternity wandering through estates, cemeteries, lakes, and more.

1. KREISCHER MANSION // STATEN ISLAND, NEW YORK

In 1884, New York brick magnate Balthasar Kreischer built two identical, mirror-image mansions on Staten Island for his sons Charles and Edward. One still exists, and is said to be haunted. In 1894, Edward Kreischer was found dead of a gunshot wound at his factory. He was just 43; the coroner ruled it a suicide. The Kreischer family eventually left the neighborhood, and of their homes, only Charles Kreischer’s house still stands. Although Edward Kreischer never lived there, there have been numerous tales of slamming doors and a ghostly woman’s voice wailing, said to be Edward's wife Freda mourning her husband’s death.     

In 2005, gangster Robert McKelvey was murdered at Kreischer Mansion, drowned in the brick pool, cut into pieces, and then burned in the mansion’s furnace. The caretaker of the house and another man were convicted of the mafia hit in 2009, and a third went into the witness protection program.  

The Kreischer Mansion, which was added to the Historic Register in 1968, has been on the market for years. If you’ve got $11.5 million—and nerves of steel—it can be yours.

2. THE MYRTLES PLANTATION // ST. FRANCISVILLE, LOUISIANA

The Myrtles Plantation house was built by David Bradford, who had been a respected lawyer in Pennsylvania until he took part in the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794. Wanted for arrest, he fled to Louisiana, leaving his family behind. There, he purchased 600 acres of land and, after a pardon in 1799, brought his wife and children to live there too.

The property passed to Bradford's son-in-law Clark Woodruff. Legend has it that during Woodruff's reign at the plantation, he had a relationship with a slave girl named Chloe while his wife was pregnant. Chloe became paranoid when Woodruff ended the affair, and he allegedly cut her ear off as punishment for eavesdropping. From that point forward, Chloe wore a turban to cover her scar. In an act of revenge, Chloe later poisoned a birthday cake meant for one of the children. Woodruff didn't indulge, but his wife and children did and subsequently died. As punishment, Chloe was hanged from a tree on the property. Today, the ghosts of Chloe and the children supposedly roam the plantation house—though there's no solid evidence she ever existed. (Records indicate that Mrs. Woodruff and two of their three children died of yellow fever.)

Ruffin Grey Stirling bought the plantation in 1834. Five of his nine children died there before reaching adulthood. The family lost their wealth in the Civil War. The next owner didn't have much luck either: Stirling’s son-in-law William Winter, who inherited the property, was murdered on the front porch in 1871, shot by a still-unknown assailant. The plantation passed through several owners since then, and, in addition to Chloe's spirit, is said to be haunted by Winter. These days, The Myrtles is operated as a bed and breakfast. You don’t have to stay the night, though, as it also has a restaurant and offers guided tours.

3. THE GRAY LADY // COLUMBUS, OHIO

Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery in Columbus, Ohio, is the final resting place of 2260 Confederate soldiers. Why Ohio? It was the site of a Union POW camp, which held 9400 rebel soldiers during the Civil War. A smallpox epidemic struck the camp in 1863, and the victims, both prisoners and those who worked at the camp, were buried there. After the war, the camp was dismantled; the cemetery was all that was left. In 1895, gravestones slowly began to replace wooden markers.

Louisiana Ransburgh Briggs was a Southerner from New Madrid, Missouri, whose father sent her north to Ohio to avoid the war. After it was over, she married a Union veteran—but never forgot her Southern sympathies. Briggs visited the Camp Chase Cemetery and placed flowers on various graves, even those covered with overgrowth. During her evening visits, Briggs wore a veil to hide her identity, earning her the nickname "the Veiled Lady of Camp Chase." She later spearheaded the efforts to reclaim and maintain the cemetery. After her death in 1950, reports of mysterious flowers appearing on graves—and the sounds of crying—were attributed to the ghost of Mrs. Briggs, who then came to be known as "The Gray Lady." Briggs' spirit seems particularly active at the grave of a 22-year-old soldier from Tennessee named Benjamin F. Allen. (There have also been reported sightings of Confederate soldiers' ghosts at Camp Chase.)

4. GRACE BROWN // BIG MOOSE LAKE, NEW YORK

Grace Brown was in love with Chester Gillette. After hearing that her boyfriend was consorting with other women, she pleaded with him to marry her. After all, Brown was pregnant with their child. Gillette took her to a resort in the Adirondacks, which she hoped would result in an elopement. Instead, on July 11, 1906, the couple went for a boat ride on Big Moose Lake, where Gilette beat her with a tennis racket and threw her overboard. She could not swim. Brown’s body was recovered the next day; an autopsy confirmed the pregnancy. Gillette was tried and found guilty of murder, and executed in 1908.

To this day, the ghost of Grace Brown is often seen standing on or sinking into the water, or walking along the shores of Big Moose. Those who live nearby or work at one of the resort hotels sometimes report strange happenings inside too, which they blame on Brown's ghost. 

5. FREDERICK FISHER’S GHOST // CAMPBELLTOWN, NSW, AUSTRALIA

Frederick Fisher was a local businessman who had been in and out of prison. His neighbor George Worrall held power of attorney over Fisher's property while he was incarcerated. On the night of June 17, 1826, Worrall announced that Fisher had fled to England to avoid more legal trouble. Worrall soon disposed of Fisher's assets, and the suspicious citizenry had him arrested. Worrall blamed four other men, who were also arrested. But where was the evidence of any actual wrongdoing? According to legend, a local farmer, John Farley, saw the ghost of Fisher sitting on a bridge, pointing to an area where his body was subsequently found. The ghostly story was not used as evidence in the trial, but Fisher's body was recovered on October 25, and Worrall was convicted of the murder and hanged. The story was made into a movie in 1924. And now, every November, Campbelltown holds the Festival of Fisher's Ghost.

6. CHERRY HILL HOUSE // ALBANY, NEW YORK

Philip and Maria Van Rensselaer had a large house built in 1787, where their family lived for five generations. By 1827, Elsie Lansing Whipple, married to John Whipple, was the lady of the house. The couple hired a drifter named Joseph Orton as a handyman—or so they thought. The man's real name was Jesse Strang, and it turns out he was hiding from the wife and children he had abandoned. 

Supposedly, Elsie hated her husband, but could not divorce him because he would then get her family fortune. Instead, she began an affair with Strang and convinced him to kill John. After a failed attempt at poisoning, Strang shot and killed Elsie's husband. Strang and Elsie Whipple were both arrested. Strang tried to blame Elsie for the murder, but was nonetheless found guilty and executed. Thousands of people turned out to witness his hanging. Elsie Whipple was tried separately for aiding and abetting the murder, and was acquitted, presumably due to her social standing.     

Ghosts are said to haunt the house called Cherry Hill to this day, although witnesses are divided as to whether the ghost is that of John Whipple or Jesse Strang. There are still bullet holes in the roof of the mansion, now a museum, from the night Whipple was murdered. 

7. CHASE VAULT // CHRIST CHURCH PARISH, BARBADOS

The Chase Family Vault in Christ Church Parish, Barbados was built in 1724 and used by the Chase family beginning in 1807. Remains were interred and sealed with marble and cement. When Thomas Chase, a man with a reputation for cruelty, died in 1812, two of his young daughters were already interred in the vault. Mary Anne was only two years old when she died, and her older sister Dorcas later died under unusual circumstances. When the crypt was opened for their father’s burial only a month after Dorcas’, the coffins already there had clearly been moved. (The toddler’s coffin was found standing on its end.) All three caskets were repositioned and the vault was resealed. Twice in 1816 and once in 1819, the crypt was opened for further burials; each time, the previous coffins were found flipped over or turned end-to-end. The island governor ordered a seal placed on the door and sand put on the floor to retain evidence of any break-ins.

Yet when the crypt was next opened, the seal remained unbroken, the sand was intact, and the coffins had once again moved. That's when the family decided to relocate the coffins of their loved ones elsewhere. The vault has not been used since.

Skeptics maintain that underground water seepage is to blame, because that could, theoretically, move the coffins without seeming to disturb a layer of sand. As the mausoleum is built of coral, leakage does seem to make sense. Other researchers are convinced that the story is just plain untrue, since contemporary accounts are lacking.

See also: 8 Haunted Places and the Ghost Stories Behind Them

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6 Historical Methods for Contacting the Dead (and Their Drawbacks)
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

'Tis the season for getting in touch with the spirit realm. (This applies no matter what month we're in right now; 'tis always high time to get your séance on.) But there are several different ways you can go about it. Do you Ouija? Should you go wandering around a haunted house? No, you should probably pick up the psychic telephone.

Lapham's Quarterly helpfully charted out some of historical ways you could (supposedly) go about contacting the dead, from Chinese Fuji writing—a method that's kind of like a Ouija board, but using a stylus to make letters in sand instead of a board—to past-life regression via hypnosis. The chart lays out how each ghost-whispering concept works, and its theoretical drawbacks. Because there are always drawbacks.

Transfiguration, for instance, lets you see a spirit's face through the body of a medium, but that's a whole lot of hard work for your medium. You can listen for electronic voice phenomena via a recorder, but you have to buy the recorder first. F. R. Melton's 1921 invention, the balloon-powered psychic telephone, was a great option—except when his son George wasn't around to work it. And past-life regression, as you might imagine, holds “potential for new levels of self-hatred." No one wants to find out that their past self was a total jerk.

There are plenty of scientific and cultural explanations for seeing ghosts that don't involve the actual spirits of the dead returning to the Earthly plane, but if you're into the history of the occult, this is a great primer on spirit-conjuring traditions.

[h/t Lapham's Quarterly]

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Michael Tackett - © 2012 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All rights reserved.
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9 Horror Movies Inspired by Real-Life Events
Michael Tackett - © 2012 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All rights reserved.
Michael Tackett - © 2012 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All rights reserved.

While most horror movies are complete works of fiction, the genre occasionally offers up stories that are based on terrifying and jaw-dropping real-life events, like the nine collected here.

1. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984)

Premise: A supernatural killer stalks his prey while they dream during deep sleep. 

Real-Life Inspiration: Wes Craven based A Nightmare on Elm Street on a series of newspaper articles from the Los Angeles Times about a strange phenomenon where young Asian refugees would mysteriously die in their sleep. It was reported that many would refuse to sleep, citing terrifying nightmares that they feared would lead to death.

According to Craven, the paper "never correlated [the three articles], never said, ‘Hey, we’ve had another story like this'":

The third one was the son of a physician. He was about twenty-one; I’ve subsequently found out this is a phenomenon in Laos, Cambodia. Everybody in his family said almost exactly these lines: "You must sleep." He said, "No, you don’t understand; I’ve had nightmares before—this is different." He was given sleeping pills and told to take them and supposedly did, but he stayed up. I forget what the total days he stayed up was, but it was a phenomenal amount—something like six, seven days. Finally, he was watching television with the family, fell asleep on the couch, and everybody said, "Thank god." They literally carried him upstairs to bed; he was completely exhausted. Everybody went to bed, thinking it was all over. In the middle of the night, they heard screams and crashing. They ran into the room, and by the time they got to him he was dead. They had an autopsy performed, and there was no heart attack; he just had died for unexplained reasons. They found in his closet a Mr. Coffee maker, full of hot coffee that he had used to keep awake, and they also found all his sleeping pills that they thought he had taken; he had spit them back out and hidden them. It struck me as such an incredibly dramatic story that I was intrigued by it for a year, at least, before I finally thought I should write something about this kind of situation.

2. CHILD'S PLAY (1988)

Premise: A serial killer's soul possesses a toy doll and wreaks havoc.

Real-Life Inspiration: In 1909, Key West painter and author Robert Eugene Otto claimed that one of his family's servants placed a voodoo curse on his childhood toy, Robert the Doll. Supposedly, the doll would mysteriously move from room to room, knock furniture over, and conduct conversations with Otto. Robert the Doll was left in the attic until Otto's death in 1974, when new owners moved into his Florida home. The new family also claimed mysterious activities would happen in the house connected to the doll. Today, Robert the Doll is on display at the Custom House and Old Post Office in Key West, Florida.

3. THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (1979)

Premise: A young family moves into a house where a murder was committed, and experiences strange and terrifying occurrences.

Real-Life Inspiration: Based on the book of the same name, The Amityville Horror follows the paranormal events that terrorized the Lutz family. In 1975, the family moved into 112 Ocean Avenue where, unbeknownst to them, Ronald DeFeo, Jr. had brutally murdered his family 13 months before they arrived. While in their new home, the family claimed that they saw green slime on the walls and red-eyed pigs staring into their kitchen and living room. After less than a month, the Lutz family moved out of the small town of Amityville, New York.

4. PSYCHO (1960)

Premise: A secretary goes on the run after she steals $40,000, only to wind up in a motel where the innkeeper and his mother are more than they appear to be.

Real-Life Inspiration: Psycho's Norman Bates is loosely based on convicted murderer and grave robber Ed Gein, who, during the late 1950s, killed women and unearthed corpses in Wisconsin. He also fashioned human skin into tiny keepsakes and knickknacks, such as face masks, belts, and chair coverings. Psycho's novelist Robert Bloch based Bates on Gein, but changed the character from a grave robber and murderer into a serial killer who dressed like his mother. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Silence of the Lambs also based their serial killers—Leatherface and Buffalo Bill, respectively—on Gein.

5. THE EXORCIST (1973)

Premise: Two Catholic priests perform an exorcism on a young girl who is possessed by the devil.

Real-Life Inspiration: The Exorcist's author and screenwriter William Peter Blatty based the novel and film on a Washington Post article from 1949 headlined, "Priest Frees Mt. Rainier Boy Reported Held in Devil's Grip." The article followed Jesuit priests William S. Bowdern, Edward Hughes, Raymond J. Bishop, and Walter H. Halloran participating in the rite of exorcism on a boy with the pseudonym "Roland Doe" in Maryland. According to the priests, they allegedly experienced the boy speaking in tongues, the bed shaking and hovering, and objects flying around during the ordeal. The exorcism was one of three official Catholic Church-sanctioned exorcisms in the United States at the time.

"Maybe one day they’ll discover the cause of what happened to that young man, but back then, it was only curable by an exorcism," William Friedkin, the director of The Exorcist, told Time Out. "His family weren’t even Catholics, they were Lutheran. They started with doctors and then psychiatrists and then psychologists and then they went to their minister who couldn’t help them. And they wound up with the Catholic church. The Washington Post article says that the boy was possessed and exorcised. That’s pretty out on a limb for a national newspaper to put on its front page ... But you’re not going to see that on the front page of an intelligent newspaper unless there’s something there."

6. THE GIRL NEXT DOOR (2007)

Premise: An aunt tortures and abuses her niece, and a neighborhood boy fails to alert the authorities.

Real-Life Inspiration: Based on Jack Ketchum's novel of the same name, The Girl Next Door is based on the murder of Sylvia Likens, a 16-year-old girl from Indiana in 1965. Sylvia and her sister Jenny were left in the care of Gertrude Baniszewski, a family friend, when their parents left town as traveling carnival workers. Baniszewski, along with her children and a few neighborhood kids, locked Sylvia in the basement, where they tortured and abused her until she died of a brain hemorrhage and malnutrition.

7. THE CONJURING (2013)

Premise: Two paranormal investigators help a family who move into a secluded home plagued by weird events.

Real-Life Inspiration: The Conjuring is based on real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren and their experience with the Perrons, a family who moved into a Rhode Island farmhouse and experienced ghostly and terrifying occurrences in 1971.

"When Insidious came out and was successful the story about the Warrens came to me and I was like, 'Oh, my gosh, this is really cool,'” director James Wan told Entertainment Weekly in 2013. "But I didn’t just want to make another ghost story or another supernatural film. One thing I had never explored was the chance to tell a story that’s based on real-life characters, real-life people. So those were the things that led me to The Conjuring."

The Warrens also had a possessed Raggedy Ann doll that was the inspiration for the spin-off film Annabelle. Allegedly, a demon spirit possessed the Raggedy Ann doll, which is currently on display and under lock and key at the Warrens' Occult Museum in Monroe, Connecticut.

8. OPEN WATER (2003)

Premise: Two scuba divers become stranded in shark-infested waters after their tour group accidentally leaves them behind.

Real-Life Inspiration: Open Water is based on American tourists Tom and Eileen Lonergan, a couple who were lost at sea when their tour group left them behind while scuba diving near the Great Barrier Reef in Australia in 1998. When the diving company realized the mistake two days later, they organized a search party, but the Lonergans were never found. The only thing that was found was a diver's slate (an underwater communication device) with a S.O.S. message on it that read, "[Mo]nday Jan 26; 1998 08am. To anyone [who] can help us: We have been abandoned on A[gin]court Reef by MV Outer Edge 25 Jan 98 3pm. Please help us [come] to rescue us before we die. Help!!!"

9. THE BLOB (1958)

Premise: A mysterious alien life-form terrorizes a small town and consumes everything in its path as it grows bigger and bigger.

Real-Life Inspiration: Believe it or not, The Blob is based on a New York Times article from 1950 titled, "A ‘Saucer’ Floats to Earth And a Theory Is Dished Up." The story followed four Philadelphia police officers who came into contact with a strange gooey material, which is now believed to be "Star Jelly," a transparent gelatinous substance. When one of the officers tried to move the goo, it started to dissolve and evaporate, so there was nothing to show the FBI when they arrived on the scene except a spot on the ground.

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