Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Are Ghosts from the Titanic Haunting Atlanta's Aquarium?

There is a wonderful exhibit at the Georgia Aquarium right now. It is the famous Titanic exhibit that has been touring the nation as of late. A few years ago, the exhibit was at the Atlanta Civic Center. I went to the exhibit there, and I highly recommend it. Not only can you touch a real piece of the ill-fated liner, but you can see items retrieved from the wreck including dishes, deck chairs, utensils, and other items. It is worth a trip to the Georgia Aquarium to see this. But there may be something else at the aquarium that will fascinate you, and it is not the fish. It may be ghosts from the Titanic itself.

I ran across this story while searching our college's databases for news articles on an historical topic I was pursuing. On Newsbank, an article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution from October 27, 2008 appeared with this story. According to article, there are spooky things going on at the aquarium, and most of it stems from the Titanic exhibit. Aquarium volunteer Margarit Mourino reported that she ". . . could feel like this hand moving over [her] head and through [her] hair." Aquarium spokeswoman Meghann Gibbons said, "We've had a number of volunteers report strange encounters when they were working the Titanic exhibit."

Aquarium officials called in investigators from Roswell Paranormal Investigations. While there they were able to record ethereal voices, saw shadowy figures roaming darkened corridors, and saw a few things that could not be explained. The team uses scientific methods and equipment to conduct their research including meters to detect electromagnetic changes and thermometers to detect drops in temperature. Diana Aveno, founder of Georgia Paranormal and director of the Roswell Paranormal Investigations, helped lead the investigation at the aquarium. While there, one recording device operated by Claudia Lee picked up an eerie response to an innocent equipment related question she asked. She asked a team member in reference to an electromagnetic meter, "Where do you want me to put it?" From nearby, a whispered voice responded, "Down," The voice did not belong to Lee or anyone verifiable.

Avena commented that because of Titanic's tragic history, it made sense that the exhibit would experience residual energy. Avena also reported that an elderly woman haunted the first class cabin replica and a young worker was spotted in a room housing dishes and clothing from the wreckage. In addition, eerie discoveries were made at the aquarium that did not relate to the exhibit itself. One investigator experienced the apparition of a Native American man in a corridor behind what is called the Cold Water Quest area.

So does the traveling Titanic exhibit include ghosts in addition to the hundreds of artifacts, pictures and replicas? Why is there an appartion of a Native American in the halls of the Georgia Aquarium? Was this the result of the Aquarium being built on sacred Native American ground? Or was this just the product of an overactive imagination? I highly recommend the exhibit to my readers, and who knows, visitors to the exhibit may get to see a really neat artifact-a lost soul from the disaster. It is worth the trip nonetheless.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More Information on the Mysterious Fish Family Vault-Memory Hill Cemetery in Milledgeville

Once again, I have to credit Hugh Harrington, author of "Remembering Milledgeville: Historic Tales from Georgia's Antebellum Capital," "Civil War Milledgeville," and "More Milledgeville Memories" for the following information on the Fish family and their mysterious vault in Memory Hill Cemetery in Milledgeville.

According to Hugh, there is a lot of misconception about the vault. First off, Thomas Jefferson Fish (T.J.) is NOT buried inside the vault, or in the cemetery for that fact. In truth, he is not even buried in Georgia. He is buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. He was a casualty of the Civil War. However, he does have a Confederate marker outside the vault. He is not there, though. Mr. Fish, Thomas Jefferson Fish's father, is buried inside the vault, as well as his mother, Mrs. Fish. She is the one in the metal casket. The other remains in the vault were buried in wooden coffins, all of which had decomposed and were almost gone when Harrington and the other members of Friends of Baldwin Cemeteries helped renovate the crypt. There are the remains of three children there, one of which has been identified. There was also an unknown adult male buried in the vault. However, upon researching the family history, Harrington discovered that the Fish brothers were all accounted for. They do not know who this adult male is.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Fish Family Crypt in Memory Hill Cemetery-Myth Debunked

There is a legend about Mr. J.A. Fish, whose family has a crypt in the Memory Hill Cemetery in Milledgeville, Georgia. The legend goes that Mr. Fish's daughter and wife died of typhus sometime around 1872. Mr. Fish was so heartbroken by the deaths of his beloved wife and daughter that he had a rocking chair dragged in to the crypt and bricked himself up inside. According to the legend, he died inside, and when visitors come to the crypt and knock on the outside of it, they can hear a faint knocking on the inside.

I asked my friend and favorite local historian, Hugh Harrington, about the legend. He and his wife, Susan, have worked on rehabilitation, preservation, and history compilation for the cemetery for years now. According to Harrington, the Friends of Baldwin County Cemeteries raised almost $17,000 to help repair the Fish crypt, as it had fallen in to disrepair. When the organization and preservationists opened the crypt, they found a metal casket and the remains of five other people. Included among their team were an archaeologist and an anthropologist. Harrington and the others did quite a bit of research on the crypt and the family. Harrington reported that since Mr. Fish died first, the legend could not be farther from the truth. There was no rocking chair, and the legend is FALSE.

I want to end this post by saying that I absolutely love Memory Hill Cemetery. The Harringtons should be commended for the work that they and others have done there. There are a number of Georgia notables buried in the cemetery, including former Georgia Congressman Carl Vinson, author Flannery O'Connor, former UGA chemistry professor and first ever UGA head football coach Charles Holmes Herty, former members of the Georgia General Assembly, former presidents of Georgia College and State University, and numerous Civil War soldiers. I highly recommend a tour of the cemetery. Although the Fish legend is not true, it is still worth a trip by the old crypt to see the restoration work done by the Friends of Baldwin Cemeteries.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Another Guest Appearance on the Radio

I hope my readers had an opportunity to listen to my guest appearance on Dr. William Lester's Dimension X radio show in November. Dr. Lester emailed me a few days after the show telling me that he had received lots of positive emails about my visit, and that he wanted me to do another appearance. I am scheduled to be on the show again on December 27th. I will put up another post closer to that day with the details on time and how readers and listeners can access the show via internet.

Fred-The Theater Ghost of Fairburn and Other Spooky Happenings

Situated in the southwestern part of Fulton County is the small town of Fairburn, which used to be called Campbellton, and was the county seat of old Campbell County before it became part of Fulton County. The small town is quite quaint, and just one trip through the historic downtown area will convince you of the need for future trips to the area.

Perhaps the most famous resident of the town is Fred, a spectre many have seen at the local theater. According to an article published by Michael Boylan on TheCitizen.com, a division of the Fayette County newspaper, "It is said that when things go awry during a rehearsal or performance, or if you hear strange noises while working back stage or in the props or costume loft, it is just Fred making mischief." Most say Fred is just a story, a local legend if you will, but there was so much buzz surrounding this little theater on a sidestreet in downtown Fairburn that it attracted the attention of the Ghost Hounds Network.

Denise Roffe and Loretta Brown, two Ghost Hounds investigators, decided to spend the night in the theater. Theater guild members decided to stay with them as well. They were investigating stories of footsteps heard by people in the theater when noone else was present, or doors that opened by themselves. Other incidents include shadow figures and reflections of people who were not there. While there, the ghost hunters did record six EVPs (electronic voice phenomenon). The voice on the recordings cannot be matched with anyone who was there that night. One recording frightened one of the ghost hunters so much that she quit the group after that night.

One of the voices on the tape can be heard to say, "Shh, they're calling me." The investigator that quit the group was frightened by the voice on the tape saying "tepga", which is Tibetan for "riding beast" or "way of transportation." In addition, members of the group were frightened by a shaking couch and an unseen hand touching their arms.

Group members claim that they did not experience any negative energy in the theater. I have been by the theater but never inside. One of the administrators at the college where I teach reported to me that there was talk by one of the guild members that TAPS had contacted the theater administrators and was planning an investigation at the theater soon. I will get back to you when I hear more information about that.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Smithy Leonard-The Lizzie Borden of Georgia

Another wonderful story recounted by Milledgeville historian Hugh Harrington is the story of the murder of Smithy Leonard. The murder took place on March 23, 1892 in Baldwin County near Milledgeville. Harrington mentions that this murder took place just a few months before the famous Lizzie Borden episode.

Smithy Leonard was not the youthful young damsel that Ordeoro Shaw was, as also reflected by Harrington in More Milledgeville Memories. Leonard was sixty years old, and her husband, Simeon C. Leonard, was the pastor of Black Springs Baptist Church. It was Reverend Leonard who returned home the day of the murder to find his wife lying in a pool of blood. She was hanging on by a thread, a thread that would soon unravel and allow her life to slip away. The Leonard home was, according to Harrington, "ransacked during the apparent robbery but nothing was found to be missing." A coroner's inquest found that the murderer had used an axe to kill Mrs. Leonard. The murderer never was found.

Harrington ends the story of Smithy Leonard with somewhat of a weird twist. On May 25, 1896, in Gaithersburg, Maryland, a man assaulted a young family, killing one young child. Later on, one Sydney Randolph was apprehended and arrested for the murder. A mob eventually broke in to the jail where Randolph was being held and nabbed him. He was hanged by the angry mob on July 5th. Right before Randolph was lynched, officials from the Superior Court of Baldwin County had sent a letter to officials in Maryland inquiring as to whether or not Randolph had scars on his face near his eyes. The officials back in Milledgeville thought that Randolph might actually be a man named Ben Temple. It was believed that Temple might be the murderer who killed Smithy Leonard. Maryland officials examined the body of Randolph, and to their astonishment, the scars were present.

Was Sydney Randolph really Ben Temple, and did this man murder Smithy Leonard? If he did, why? As Harrington writes at the end of his story about the murder, "Whether this man, using the names of Temple and Randolph, was guilty of the Smithy Leonard murder will never be known."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Update on the Tara Grinstead Post and Case

After my post about the disappearance of Tara Grinstead from Ocilla, Georgia in 2005, I got lots of emails and a few comments on the site itself. As you can see, that post got the most responses from readers. One person that emailed me concerning the case was heavily involved in the case itself and has been following it since 2006. He emailed me to discuss some of my hypothesis. I asked him if I could quote him. He never got around to responding to that, so out of respect for him, I will not give his name here, but I will update you on what he said to me in his email discussion.

In my post, I suggested that Tara's abductor probably drove her, in her car, to another location. I even surmised that the abductor was a man due to the driver's seat being pushed far back in the car, much further back than would be necessary for Tara to drive it. This researcher told me that the seat was moved by someone who got to the car before police could secure the perimeter. That same person also washed the car. So, there really is no proof at all that the car was driven after Tara disappeared. As a matter of fact, according to this professional, it is highly unlikely that anyone drove the car. It is his opinion that whoever took Tara did not use her car.

I also read recently that there was a strange vehicle, a black truck, seen at Tara Grinstead's home shortly after her disappearance. I have not heard what connection this vehicle had to the case, but there was something strange about the driver and the fact that he was parked at Tara Grinstead's house after her disappearance. If anyone has any additional information on that development, please post it here or email me.

The Murder of Ordeoro Shaw-Was Her Husband Michael Shaw Really Guilty of Her Murder?

One of my favorite local Georgia historians is Hugh Harrington. He specializes in Milledgeville history among many other things. I highly recommend his books Civil War Milledgeville and More Milledgeville Memories. One of the most interesting stories in More Milledgeville Memories is the story of Michael Shaw, a man hanged in Milledgeville on July 12, 1878 for the murder of his wife, Ordeoro. The murder took place on April 30, 1877. Mrs. Shaw was 24 years old.

According to Harrington, Michael Shaw left home the morning of the murder to chop firewood. Some time later, he heard a gunshot, prompting him to return to the house where he found his wife lying on the floor in a pool of blood with her brains bashed out and skull fractured. Beside her on the floor was her four year old daughter. It was also discovered that a lightwood knot was used to kill her and her arm was bruised and broken in places, obviously from an attempt to shield herself from the blows. It was also discovered that Mrs. Shaw had been shot in the head by Michael Shaw's gun, a gun that was nonetheless missing.

The four year old daughter claimed that two black men had killed her mother. Michael Shaw took the child and rushed her to the home of Sarah Moore, Ordeoro Shaw's mother. Soon after, a manhunt took place for the two black men who were said to have committed the murder. Dogs were used to pick up the scent. Two men were brought in who were unable to account for their whereabouts.

It was not long after that the murder case began to take on a very different nature. Now it appeared that Michael Shaw would be the prime suspect. This turn of events was the result of the four year old daughter changing her story. She now said that her father had killed her mother. Sarah Moore, the deceased's mother, believed her granddaughter. It was also brought up that Michael Shaw was not of the most upright reputation. Some time before this incident, he had been accused of killing a black man, as well as being part of the Ku Klux Klan. In addition, a man who lived with the Shaws, David Butler, testified that he had been out plowing the morning of the murder and saw Michael Shaw beat his wife with a log and then drag her in to the house where he then heard gunfire. Previously, Butler had testified that Shaw had been out cutting firewood when they both heard gunfire from the house. He said Shaw called out to him and then ran to the house. His new story was much different and made Shaw look guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt.

A detective from Atlanta, E.C. Murphy, was sent to Milledgeville to investigate the case. The district attorney felt that the evidence against Shaw was mainly circumstantial, and he wanted something more concrete. Rumors began to circulate that Shaw abused his wife and was considered a terror to the black community where he was thought to have been responsible for the deaths of a few black citizens. An anonymous letter was sent to a local police official saying that Shaw had murdered a black man and then thrown the body in his well. The letter encouraged police to search the well to find the skeleton. They did, and a skeleton turned up. Harrington ponders who sent the letter in his retelling of the story in More Milledgeville Memories. There was also a rumor that Shaw was part of a group of desparados called the Georgia Tigers. Harrington says in his book that there was never any evidence connecting him with any of these claims, but that this did not stop the local rumor mill. Nevertheless, it was after Murphy came to Milledgeville and opened his investigation that David Butler changed his story.

Shaw was convicted of the murder of his wife, and he was sentenced to hang. His execution was carried out on July 12, 1878, in a private hanging on a gallow constructed near the Oconee River. An eighteen foot fence was constructed around the gallows to shield it from public view. When Shaw's body was examined, it was reported that he died from strangulation. His neck did not break.

Was Michael Shaw guilty, or was he the victim of a duplicitous scheme? Why did David Butler change his story? And why did his little girl say that black men had killed her mother at first only to change her story later? And who sent that anonymous letter to local police alerting them that there was a skeleton in Shaw's well? After the murder, many people in the local area maintained that Shaw was innocent. He never admitted guilt while on the gallows, but he also never claimed to be innocent at the gallows that day. He claimed that he never received a fair trial. He said over and over again while he was awaiting his execution that David Butler had told lies in his testimony. It is true that David Butler was not the most reliable of witnesses. One Georgia Supreme Court justice wrote that David Butler was less than credible, not simply because he changed his original testimony, but that when asked, he did not know in what state he lived, how many days were in a week, nor how many months were in a year. Furthermore, he did not know how to count to ten, and he swore he had never tried to count that high. In my opinion, this makes his testimony highly dubious.

It may never be known if Michael Shaw was guilty or not. As a matter of fact, the whereabouts of his grave are unknown. His wife is buried in West-Neal Cemetery off County Line Road in Baldwin County near Milledgeville. However, as Harrington reports, that cemetery is overgrown with weeds and brush. Her grave is marked, however. To me, this sounds a bit like the case of Tom Woolfolk, who as you know from a post I wrote about him on this blog, was accused and hanged for murdering his entire family in Macon in the late 1880s. Macon is just a 45 minute drive from Milledgeville.

Show Tonight

For those of you following the blog, don't forget that I will be on Dimension X tonight at 10:00 p.m. with Dr. William Lester. Dr. Lester is a man after my own heart, having a Ph.D. in history from Clark Atlanta University, and having become interested in the weird and paranormal much like I did. I have told people before that researching the strange and paranormal can sometimes be a natural outgrowth of history. So many ghost stories and strange phenomenon are rooted in history.

The show can be accessed through the website http://www.apsrradio.com/modules.php?name=Stream

Once you are there, you can select the type of stream you have. Windows Media Player is the one I use and works well for me. The show will start at 10:00 and Dr. Lester told me yesterday that I would be on around 10:05. I would love to have you all listen in as I talk about my research, this blog, my Georgia Bigfoot book coming out next year, and other items that I have been researching.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Your Favorite Blogger Will Be On the Radio Talking About This Blog!!

I received an email today from Dr. William Lester, the host of a show called Dimension X. He has invited me to appear on his radio show in Atlanta on November 22. The show airs on the APSR radio network. The show's website is www.dimensionx.synthasite.com. I will be talking about my blogsite, as well as my book on the legend of the Georgia Bigfoot, due out next year from Idyll Arbor Press.
Tune in and you can hear me talk about why I started the blog, how I got interested in these topics, as well as how I went about the research for my book. I hope Dr. Lester will allow me to discuss all those things.

Vidalia Man Commits Suicide The Same Way His Heart Donor Did, After Marrying The Same Wife

Tragically, there is another mystery that comes from Vidalia. Sonny Graham, who lived in Vidalia, began suffering from congestive heart failure around 1995. His salvation came when the Medical University of South Carolina contacted him telling him that a 33 year old man, Terry Cottle, had been a heart donor. Sadly, Mr. Cottle committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. His heart was available. Through this tragedy, Sonny Graham could have hope. The heart transplant took place, and Graham recovered. About a year after the surgery, Graham contacted the agency that helped him find the heart. He was given the name and address of Cottle's widow, Cheryl. Graham contacted her, and through letters, phone calls, and visits, the two formed a strong bond. Over time, the two fell in love, and Graham and Cheryl Cottle were married. She moved to Vidalia to be with him.

If the story ended there, it would have no place on my blog, but it was not to be. Four years after the two wed in 2004, Graham tragically took his own life, the same way that Terry Cottle had before. He shot himself in the head. He did it in the garage of the home that the couple shared in Toombs County. Cheryl was now a widow again. She had lost two husbands the same way, and ironically, they both had the same heart. Friends of Sonny Graham said he showed no signs of depression. Cheryl Graham herself made no mention of any concern she had about Sonny in that respect either. This is one strange story. Think of it. A man kills himself by shooting himself in the head. Then, his heart is given to another man in the next state. That man meets and marries the former man's widow. Years later, that man kills himself the same way the donor had, and leaves his wife as a widow a second time and in the same manner.

Some scientists report that there are over 70 cases of people taking on the characteristics and personalities of their organ donors. In fact, a woman from Lancashire, England claimed that her literary tastes changed significantly after a liver transplant she had. Previously, she had enjoyed the biographies of celebrities and pop-fiction such as The Davinci Code. After the transplant, she developed a taste for classical literature at the expense of her previous taste. Scientists say that the phenomenon is called cellular memory phenomenon. However, most in the medical field are skeptical of this and say there is no credible evidence to back this claim. But whatever the case may be, this incident in Vidalia sounds very, very strange. My prayers go out to Cheryl Graham. The news reports of this story can be found at the following links:

UFO Over Walmart in Vidalia, Georgia

My readers probably realize I grew up in South Georgia, Montgomery County to be exact. The city of Vidalia spills over the Montgomery County line just a bit. But the city is mainly in Toombs County. It is most famous as the home of the Vidalia Sweet Onion.

When I was a junior in high school, I remember hearing and reading about the sighting of UFOs above the local Wal-Mart store in Vidalia. As a matter of fact, I had worked at that store just a few months prior to the sighting of these flying objects. I worked in that store during the Christmas holiday in December 1990. The sighting happened February 16, 1991. I returned to work there in the summer of 1991.
So, I guess I just barely missed out on all the excitement.

The sightings took place, as I mentioned above, on February 16, 1991, and from what I can find, most of the activity took place over that Wal-Mart store on Highway 280 East headed toward the town of Lyons. The story reported that the local radio station, which in my guess would have been the local station 98Q, received over 30 calls about the strange silver disks that had red and white lights. It was reported that some think the objects were flying from Hazlehurst to Vidalia. One man reported that one of the four objects hovered over his car, making the car stall. The vehicle would only restart after the objects flew away.

As far as I know, there were never any reports of missing persons or animals associated with these sightings. The report I read stated that one police officer observed the flying disks, and his name was listed as Lt. P. McNeese. No other reports were noted immediately before these sightings in the area.

Perhaps visitors from another planet had heard how tasty our onions were down in Vidalia and just wanted to check on how to get a ten pound bag???

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What Was Archie Butts doing in Europe?

As many of my readers may know, I am very interested in the sinking of the Titanic. My love of Georgia history and Titanic lore came together when I found out that there were four Georgians on board the ill-fated luxury liner when it went down. They were Archibald Butt, Mr. and Mrs. Jacques Futrelle, and Isidor Straus.

I have always been fascinated by the story of Archibald Butt, even to the point of writing an article about him for New Georgia Encyclopedia. It can be found at the following link: http://www.newgeorgiaencyclopedia.com/nge/Article.jsp?path=/HistoryArchaeology/TheProgressiveEraandWorldWarI/People-6&id=h-3667.

Major Butt made it so far up the political and military ladder that he became the military aide to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. When the two presidents became locked in a heated struggle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party and were going to run against one another for the presidency in 1912Archie was torn as to what to do. In the spring of 1912, President Taft sent Archie to Europe for a much needed vacation. Taft felt that the cruise and sea air would do Archie a world of good. How were they to know that the trip back would be interrupted by perhaps the world's worst maritime disaster? When the ship hit an iceberg and sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean on the night of April 15, 1912, Archie would be among those lost. His body was never recovered. Upon hearing that Archie was lost forever, President Taft was devastated, even coming to Augusta in the near future to help memorialize Major Butt.

So was Archie in Europe simply on vacation? Officially, the Taft White House said yes. They said that the only official duty he had while in Europe was as an official emissary to the Pope. He even paid a call on the King of Italy while he was there. However, rumor circulated in the days after the sinking that Archie was carrying official documents on behalf of the Taft administration that made it clear what position the United States would have if war broke out in Europe. World War One did not break out until 1914, but the tension and diplomatic conflicts that would lead to the war had been brewing for quite a while before that. Taft and his administration knew there would be trouble ahead. Rumors ran wild in Washington after Butts died on board the Titanic that he was carrying messages from Taft to the leaders of Europe that the United States would support whichever side was attacked first if war erupted in Europe. Although there was no real proof of that rumor, it persisted and even grew in strength as the years progressed. As a matter of fact, one of Archie Butts descendants teaches at the same college as I do. He reports that the story has persisted in his family for the past few generations as well. He remembers hearing his elders speak of Archie and his mission in Europe when he was a young boy.

So, is there any truth to the rumors. When war broke out, we did in fact side with the attacked. It would not be until 1917 that we officially entered the war, and President Taft was more than five years removed from the presidency. Wilson lead the nation when we finally declared war. But we did support those that were attacked rather than the provoker. So, did Archie really relay critical diplomatic messages to the leaders of Europe? The world may never know, and if there was any offical documentation, it is long gone, as it went to the bottom of the Atlantic on the cold night of April 15, 1912.

Montgomery County's Cooper-Conner House and Ghost Ram

In rural Montgomery County, which happens to be my home county, in the southeastern portion of Georgia, George and Nancy Cooper settled and built a house that almost resembled a small fortress. It was built somewhere around 1831. The reason the home was built this way was so that it could withstand attacks by local Native American tribes in the area. The outer walls of the home were made of large pine timbers about sixteen inches wide and six inches thick. These timbers were handcut and kept together by two inch wooden pegs. The home remained at its original site near the Dead River area in the southern tip of Montgomery County for years. Nearby is the famous local Dead River Cemetery where several Revolutionary War soldiers are buried. Not long ago, Brewton Parker College purchased the home and had it moved to the campus as part of its historical village display. Thousands of people tour the home and others in the village each year on the campus in Mount Vernon.

The house is the oldest surviving house in the county and it comes complete with its own ghost stories. The most famous of which involves a former history teacher and journalist, Kitty Peterson, who took her class to the Cooper-Conner House to illustrate local history and to engage in a little fun time through telling ghost stories. After stopping off at the Dead River Cemetery to talk about Revolutionary War soldiers buried there, Mrs.Peterson, chaperones, and her students headed down a wooded lane near the cemetery to visit the Cooper Conner House.

Once inside, Mrs. Peterson began discussing the home, how it was built, and a little history of the surrounding area. She then led her class upstairs to begin the ghost stories. As she began to tell her ghost story, she noticed that the sky was growing dark; she then heard a loud clap of thunder. Deciding that it was probably the better part of wisdom she sent one of the young men downstairs to the cars to make sure that the windows were all rolled up. However, although the sky was dark and thunder had been heard, there was not a cloud in the sky when Kitty looked out the window. This was weird, and many of the adults wanted to go ahead and leave the area in case the dirt road that led back to the main road got muddy in the rain. But there was no sight of rain, and no clouds in the sky. The students urged Kitty to continue with her ghost story, so she moved ahead. As she was in the depth of her ghost story, the whole audience jumped in fright as they heard what sounded as if the front door of the house had been slammed shut. Kitty sent a student downstairs to see if all was okay and to check on the front door. Kitty knew that since there was no breeze blowing, and if there were one, it would have to be a strong one to push the huge front door of the house shut. She felt that there must be someone there. But when the young man returned, he reported that there was noone there, and that the door was standing wide open. Stupified, the students and Mrs. Peterson wondered what could have made the noise that startled the entire class and sounded just like the huge front door slamming shut. Peterson then realized that there was a slight breeze, but that what little breeze was indeed present would have caused the door to open, not slam shut. She became nervous. She told the students that someone might be playing a trick on the class, so she took a quick head count. She was startled to find that all of the students were present and that noone was missing. Her students laughed and said that it was probably a ghost. Some even shouted out that they wanted her to finish her story. She decided that was best.

A few moments later, as she was well in to her spooky ghost story, the whole group was startled by what sounded exactly like footsteps making their way toward them up the steep staircase leading to the second floor of the Cooper Conner House where they were seated listening to a ghost story. The steps continued, and now they sounded like the sound of hoofs instead of human feet. Everyone's eyes widened. Students leaned in to one another asking if they were hearing things. Kitty thought it best to ask a few students to take a peek down the staircase to see what was making the noise. They did, and to their amazement, they saw nothing. When they reported this to Kitty and the other students, everyone became nervous and really scared. One student suggested that everyone go outside and see if they could find any tracks because what was making the sounds could have hurriedly walked back down the stairs and gone outside. Plus, it would have had to have made tracks in the dirt outside the house as it walked inside. The class gathered, moved down the stairs, and poured outside.

Once outside, they found that the entire yard was covered with hoof prints. Upon examining them, some of the teenagers in the group, many of which were avid hunters, said that the prints belonged to a ram. At this, Peterson decided it was time to leave. Everyone began walking back to their cars. As they moved away from the house, one young man discovered more hoof prints, but they were on top of the footprints the students and chapersones had made when they first arrived. They looked further and could see no hoof prints in front of them. What this meant was that whatever animal had made these tracks had done so AFTER the class had arrived, gone inside the house, and were seated listening to the ghost story.

About a year and a half after her class field trip to the Cooper Conner House, Kitty Peterson discovered a strange tale that might explain what happened that afternoon on the premises. In the past, Major Richard Coooper, a man who helped build the house, had been involved in the politics that led to the American Revolution. He was a fierce loyalist who hated Tories, those who were still supporting England and the King during the fight for independence. On a wartime trip to Savannah, Major Cooper met a Tory, and it did not take long for hatred to develop between the two. Things got worse between Cooper and the man and in time the two swore that they would not rest until the other was dead. That day came years later when the two met again at a tavern in Savannah. A fight ensued and Major Cooper shot and killed the Tory, who, as he lay dying, swore that Cooper had not heard the last of him. He swore that he was not yet done with Cooper. Then, he died. When Cooper returned home, it was no time before his servants and help began to complain that odd things were happening at the Cooper home. They reported doors standing wide open that had been locked tight before. But the most strange thing they reported was the sounds of animal hoofs walking across floors or climbing the stairway. Sound familiar? What is even more unnerving is that Kitty Peterson, nor anyone who was at the Cooper Conner House that day had ever heard of the legend of the curse, nor the stories of the mysterious hoof sounds in the home reported by the Cooper servants. Was this the ghost of the Tory returning to haunt Major Cooper? Who knows? But this story has been told for generations by the members of the families who owned the home before it was purchased by Brewton Parker College in 1991. Pictures of the house can be seen at this link:

I remember hearing this story a lot as I grew up in the area. I was even part of a committee who started a local history festival in Montgomery County that ran for about ten years. One of the events in the festival was a tour and reenactment at the Cooper Conner House. The old house is spooky, but it is a must see for any history buffs and ghost hunters. I remember feeling sort of uneasy as I wondered around the old house and went inside and upstairs. But I never heard the sound of hoofs. I have even met Kitty Peterson on several occasions, and I can attest to the fact that she is NOT one prone to embelishment. I believe there is something strange at the Cooper Conner House. In addition, I suppose in the interest of full disclosure, I should report that Major Cooper and many of the Coopers and Conners are ancestors of mine.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Mary Shotwell Little Vanishes at Lenox Square-Well, We Think!

I have always had an interest in cases involving strange disappearances. To me, there is something eerie about a person just vanishing. I have been to places where lost or missing people were last seen, and there is just something weird about being in a place like that. I am still committed to driving down to Ocilla, Georgia where Tara Grinstead disappeared so that I can drive by her house. However, since I posted that article on Halloween Day, I have received several comments at the site, as well as several emails about her disappearance. One gentleman, who like me has always been interested in strange disappearances, emailed me about another case that happened right here in Atlanta.

On October 14, 1965, Mary Shotwell Little disappeared. She was a secretary for the C&S Bank, which is now Bank of America. Mary had recently been married to a bank examiner and was living with him in an apartment in Dekalb County. Mary did not have any children. She was 25 years old, a sweet person, hard worker, and loyal employee. She and a coworker went to dinner the night she disappeared, and the last her friend saw of her was when she was walking back to her car in the Lenox Square parking lot in Atlanta. Before going to eat with her friend she had purchased groceries and put them in her car.

When Mary did not show up to work the next morning, her boss asked about her, and her friend with whom she had dinner the night before told him where she had seen her last. Her boss phoned the security personnel at Lenox Square and asked them to see if her car, a pearl gray 1965 Mercury Comet, was still parked in the lot. No car was found matching that description. Calls to her home went unanswered. Her boss got worried. Roy Little, her husband, was contacted, and he immediately returned home from a banking trip south of Atlanta. Around the middle of the day, Little's boss became annoyed that he had not heard anything, so he decided to drive over to Lenox Square to see if he could find her or her car. He found her car parked in the yellow lot. What he found inside seemed to come straight out of a nightmare. The groceries she had purchased the night before were still in the car undisturbed. There were bloodstains in the vehicle, and there was a pair of women's underwear in the console, neatly folded.

The case was turned over to Lt. Jack Perry of the Atlanta Police Department. Detective Perry was a well-respected, well-known homocide detective with a high success rate in breaking cases such as this. Upon investigating, Perry found out that Little had been receiving flowers from an unknown person days before her disappearance. She had also recently been receiving phone calls at work that seemed to upset her. She was heard saying that the person calling could come by and see her whenever he/she liked, but that she could not come over there. She was also heard to say, "I'm a married woman now." Who this was, and where "there" was, noone ever knew. She did not speak about these phone calls at all with her friends, family, or coworkers. In addition, Mary had been making weird statements in the days before her disappearance, saying she was afraid to be home alone and in her car alone. Noone knew if she was just being paranoid, or if she was having problems with her husband. Her husband was never really a suspect because he had an airtight alibi and would not have profited at all from her disappearance.

A month after her disappearance, Perry learned that Little's credit card had been used in North Carolina. This was a big lead. Little was originally from Charlotte and had family there. Perry thought that Little might have returned to her hometown without telling anyone. However, the strange fact remained that her car had been returned to where she had disappeared and she had left her groceries in the car. Also, why were various pieces of women's undergarments with bloodstains on them still in the car, folded neatly between the console at that? In addition, police had discovered that there was a thin red film all over her car, as if she had been down a dirt road. Even more perplexing was that the car was not there early the morning after she disappeared when her boss called Lenox Square security, but when he drove over there himself, it was back in the lot as described above. Had someone driven off in her car after she finished dinner with her friend and then driven it back before her boss arrived on the scene at midday? This was strange. Perry learned that the first time her card had been used was in Charlotte in the early morning hours of October 15th, not long after she had disappeared from Atlanta. Whoever got her, or if she left herself, must have driven very quickly to Charlotte, as it is a long drive from Atlanta to Charlotte, North Carolina, especially given that the highway system in 1965 was not what it is today. Then the question arises, "Did Mary then turn around and drive the car back to Atlanta?" If so, why? She could not have, for a few hours after her card had been used in Charlotte at a gas station, it was used again in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her signature appeared on both receipts, and authorities and family members confirmed that the signature was hers.

Perry decided that he had better go to Charlotte and Raleigh to interview the gas station attendants to see if they remembered anything about the transactions. Surprisingly they did. The gas station attendant at Charlotte said that he remembered a woman using the card, but that she had a cut on her head, was trying to hide her face, and seemed to be traveling with a man who was giving her orders. The gas station attendant in Raleigh told Perry that he remembered helping a woman who was traveling with two men, and that she was bloody, even having blood on her legs. Once again, Perry was stupified.

The Mary Shotwell Little case was never solved, and furthermore, the police file on her is missing. Jack Perry never could get over the fact that this was the one case he could not solve at all. He died of cancer in July 1995, never knowing what happened to Mary Little. She had no enemies, was not disliked by many people at all, and had no criminal or sordid past. There are some theories out there that she suffered from a psychological disorder and made herself disappear. You can click on this link for a website run by a researcher who contacted me via email about the Tara Grinstead case and believes that Grinstead and Little suffered from the same disorder and that this caused their disappearances. Here it is: http://www.visionandpsychosis.net/Mary_Shotwell_Little_Diane_Shields.htm

There is another site that includes a nice article about the disappearance; it was written by a journalist and researcher. http://www.buckhead.net/history/mystery/msl_a.html

I doubt that Mary Shotwell Little is still alive, but it is possible that the psychological disorder theory is plausible. I would love to hear ideas about this.

Georgia Guidestones

Near Elberton, Georgia there is a monument of sorts that has intrigued visitors for generations. In 1980, a man by the name of Robert C. Christian contracted with a local granite company in Elberton to build what we now call the Georgia Guidestones. The stones sit outside of Elberton in a meadow. Robert C. Christian was not the real name of the man who paid to have these stones built.

The stones stand about 19 feet high and overlook Highway 77 right outside of Elberton. The monument includes four major stones, a smaller stone in the center, and another that tops the entire structure. Etched on the major stones are messages, or what many call "commandments." They are written in 12 languages, which includes English, Russian, Sanskrit, Arabic, Cuneiform, Egyptian hieroglyphs, and classical Greek. The commandments on the stone are quite interesting, and many critics say that they seem to could come straight out of any biblical prophecy text with their ideas of a unified world government and reduction of the world's population for management purposes. The other commandments include ideas of harmony and brotherhod.

Not much is known about Mr. Christian other than the fact that he identified himself as a Christian man who was, as author Randall E. Floyd writes in his book MORE GREAT SOUTHERN MYSTERIES, "...concerned with the welfare of humanity..." Making things more interesting is the fact that Cherokee Indians called this area the center of the world. A nearby plaque mentions that the Indians would come to that location to hold councils, dances, and religious ceremonies. Workers who were excavating the area and building the monument reported hearing strange sounds emanating from the hills in the area and other works collapsed of dizziness and lightheadedness during work on the project.

Thousands of people come to the area each year to see the stones. Noone knows much about the purpose of the stones, but many do say that the financier of the project, Mr. Christian, probably felt that the world was headed for apocalypse and that these stones would survive that fallout and could serve as a guide to any humans who were left after such an event, thus the reason that the monument is often called the Georgia Guidestones. I am planning to visit the area and take pictures in the near future, perhaps during the Thanksgiving break. I am very intrigued by this.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Lost Maidens of the Okefenokee

I encourage my readers to check out the books by E. Randall Floyd, who is now the publisher and owner of Harbor House Books in Augusta. Mr. Floyd is a longtime journalists, and he has even written screenplays. Before becoming the founder, president, and owner of Harbor House, he wrote a number of books on southern mysteries, many of which can be still found in bookstores and online. A colleague of mine gave me an old copy of one of Mr. Floyd's books that I simply could not put down when I got it. It is More Great Southern Mysteries and is a great read. In the book is a great story called The Lost Maidens of the Okefenokee.

According to Floyd, when conquistadores arrived in these parts in the late 16th century, they heard stories about a "...tribe of beautiful, dark-eyed, maidens known collectively as the 'Daughters of the Sun.'" These women were said to speak in accents of music and looked like angels. It was said that they lived in the Okefenokee on an island that was protected by swirling mists, deep rivers and alligator-filled lakes. Floyd goes on to say that later Creek legends tell of white settlers who became dizzy and unsettled as they searched for these women. Out of nowhere, these angelic-like figures appeared from nowhere and took them to an island nearby where they nursed them back to health. As soon as the white explorers were well again, they were whisked away in a cloud of smoke. Other stories include young Indian braves who encountered these beautiful women but that they were married and tried to have the young braves leave before their angry, jealous husbands came back to the village. Some later explorers in the swamp have claimed to have heard "soft laughter" and seen thin, clouded forms whisking through the swamp.

Floyd tells us that there are several theories about what and who this is. One in particular is that they are leftovers of the Mayan civilization that migrated to the Okefenokee over a thousand years ago. Other theories include tale of Atlantis. I had never heard this legend before reading Floyd's book. But I can tell you one thing; there are lots of myths and legends about the Okefenokee Swamp. On this blog a few months ago, I recounted a story of the Bigfoot attack in the early 1800s in the Okefenokee. There are other stories about giant skeletons being unearthed in the swamp. The Okefenokee is full of myth and legend. I will try to post more about these legends in the coming days.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Oakland Cemetery-More than Just an Historical Gem

It is no secret that I LOVE Atlanta's Oakland Cemetery. Right there in the midst of all the modern skyscrapers of the capital of the New South lies one of the most beautiful and unique parks in any municipal areas in the nation. What I mean by this is that Oakland is not only a cemetery, but it is actually a city park owned by the City of Atlanta, or, as I like to point out in my political blogs, the taxpayers. On my many visits, I have seen people strolling around the park with their pets, sprawled out on the grass reading, helping themselves to a picnic, or just jogging through. It is the final resting place of several Georgia governors, famed golfer Bobby Jones, author Margaret Mitchell, former Atlanta mayor Maynard Jackson, and thousands of Atlantans from yesteryear. If you have never visited, make it a point to do so.

Oakland is also home to a number of strange and mysterious happenings. I want to point out one here in the blog tonight. I would also like to recommend a great new book called GHOSTS OF ATLANTA: PHANTOMS OF THE PHOENIX CITY by Reese Christian. The story I am about to recount can be found in her book, among many others.

The story goes that if you visit the Confederate section, you will come upon perhaps the most famous monument in the cemetery-the Lion of the Confederacy!! It is a majestic, moving monument to the Confederate dead. The cemetery is home to hundreds of them, many from the Battle of Atlanta fought at the beginning of Sherman's famous March to the Sea. The Lion is modeled after the famous Lion of Lucerne. The monument depicts a dead lion, complete with a dagger in its heart. This is a tribute to those who fell in defense of the South during the War Between the States. Reese Christian writes in her book that, "It is said that each year at twilight on November 14, the date that General Sherman and his army vacated Atlanta to head south toward Macon and Atlanta, a 'roll call of the dead' can be heard in a ghostly voice, calling out the names of the dead who reside in the Confederate section of Oakland Cemetery."

On my many visits to the cemetery I have gone up the Lion of the Confederacy monument and there is always a feeling of sadness that I feel when I stand there. The monument is majestic. It should definitely be one of the places you visit in the cemetery when you walk through its grounds.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Three Year Anniversary of the Disappearance of Tara Grinstead

While this blog usually focuses on the strange and weird, there is one Georgia mystery that I find very intriguing-the disappearance of Tara Grinstead. For those that might not know, Tara Grinstead disappeared in Ocilla, Georgia on October 22, 2005. This October marks the third anniversary of her disappearance. Tara was an all-American girl. She was a 31 year old high school American history teacher who had her masters, was working on her specialist in education degree, and was planning on finishing her doctorate in education one day. She was a former Miss Georgia contestant, involved in many local community activities, was loved by her students, and had lots of friends. She was the kind of girl that any mother would hope her son marries.

Tara returned to her Ocilla home from a cookout on that Saturday night, and noone would ever see her again. She had a dog-Dolley Madison, a cat-Herman Talmadge, and a quaint little house in the city of Ocilla. She never left her animals unattended, but when police arrived at the Grinstead home, they found Dolley Madison (her dog) in the backyard where she had obviously been left most of the weekend. This was very strange for Tara. She always left the dog in at night. Suspicion that something might be wrong with Tara began on Monday morning when she failed to show up for work at the high school. Administrators called her family and police, and the family did report that they had tried calling Tara on Sunday but got no response. They chalked it up to her being busy or out with friends and out of range with her cell phone. When police arrived at the home on Monday, they found a few things out of the ordinary which included the dog being left out, a knocked over lamp in her bedroom, her cell phone still hooked up to the charger, her digital alarm clock on the floor and six hours behind, and the driver's seat in her car pushed way back as if someone large and tall had driven it. (Tara was short and petite.) While these things are kind of odd, they did not really jump out at police as evidence of something foul. However, when they combed the yards, they found what could be the only real evidence of something strange. They found a latex glove on the front lawn. Those who knew Tara knew that she kept a pristine lawn, and that she would have easily noticed a glove there and would have discarded it. Police collected the glove and had it sent off for testing.

Simply put, it just looked as if Tara Grinstead was either sucked in to thin air, or she got up and walked away, both of which seem improbable. There are some, however, who think that Tara may have decided to disappear and leave her former life behind. She did, afterall, have some problems in her social and romantic relationships that led some to hypothesize she might have been overcome with grief and frustration and felt that the only way to solve her situation was to leave it all behind. Tara's friends and family wholly reject that proposition. They say that she was not that kind of person, and that if the going got rough, and it did, she would not have walked away.

What kind of problems was she having? Well, she was still distraught over the breakup with her former boyfriend, Marcus Harper, a man she really wanted to marry. He was a former police officer and soldier in Iraq. The two had split up recently. Harper was going back and forth to Iraq as a contactor, and the relationship between the two had been strained. Harper was in the area the night that Tara disappeared. He was riding around with a friend who was on the force in his squad car as his friend patrolled the area. Harper was called in for questioning, and on the day he came to the police station to answer questions, Anita Gattis, Tara's sister, blared at him, asking, "What did you do to my sister?" Harper realized that there was much suspicion surrounding him, so he retained an attorney.

There were others that were looked at with suspicion. Anthony Vickers, a former student of Grinstead's was also fingered. Vickers had grown close to Grinstead and was even picked up one day for coming to Tara's house and beating on her door a while before her disappearance. Vickers was questioned but nothing came of it. Vickers did claim he and Grinstead had been having an affair, but there was no evidence to corraborate that.

So far, there has been no sign of Tara. Her mother has passed away since her disappearance, and her family is still heartbroken. They continue to search for Tara. This case is quite strange. Why was her house locked but her car under the carport unlocked and her cell phone still inside on the charger? If she took the time to lock her house because she was leaving, would it not stand to reason that she would also take her cell phone? Why was her driver's side seat pushed so far back, as if someone large had been driving it? Why was her alarm clock on the floor and six hours off? What happened to the lamp inside the house? Was it knocked over by a struggle? Did the abductor, if that is what happened, return to the home and try to straighten up? If that happened, then would it not stand to reason that the assailant would have put the lamp and clock back like he/she found it? Would that person also not have been smart enough to put the car seat back in the position it would have been in had Tara driven the car? Or perhaps the abductor was attempting to do that, but got scared off before he/she could finish? But what or who scared him or her off? Perhaps it was Dolley, Tara's big dog, who scared him off with her barking? The neighbors did say that Dolley was barking profusely early Sunday morning. How early? Not sure. But what is strange is that they do not report that the dog was barking very loudly earlier or late Saturday night. Perhaps Dolley saw Tara when the pair was leaving and was not alarmed. Perhaps the abductor did not return to the scene until much later. Was Dolley barking at him then? Dogs usually stop barking after a while even if they are outdoors and want to come in. My dog is the same way. He just gives up and lays down on the grass until I decide to come get him. Dolley probably did the same thing after the two left the home, but started back up when she saw the stranger return without Tara. Was the abductor wearing a pair of gloves when he or she took Tara and just dropped one in the front yard on his or her way out without knowing it?

Here is my hypothesis. I agree with Anita Gattis, in part, that is. I think that Tara was home when someone she knew arrived. If the person who abducted her is the same person who drove her car last, then it seems to me it was a man simply judging by the way the seat was positioned. Then again, I guess it could have been a very tall woman, but that is highly unlikely. This leads me to my next idea. Why did the abductor drive Tara's car? More than likely he walked to her house rather than take the risk of being seen in his vehicle, which could have easily been identified by a license plate number among other things. I think the abductor was someone she knew. She let him in the house. He had a pair of gloves in his pockets because he knew what he wanted to do. She answered the door and let him in because she knew him. Tara had been changing clothes in her room because they found the clothes she was wearing that night lying on the floor of her bedroom. Since no body fluids were found, I highly doubt she was raped, at least there. There has been no evidence of body fluids in her car either, so it is highly unlikely that she was raped in her car either. But I think that when the man came inside, he followed her to her bedroom because that is where the alarm clock and lamp were. Perhaps there was a struggle and that was what knocked off the lamp and disturbed the alarm clock. Then, perhaps the abductor took her out of the house and took her somewhere in her car. The dog would probably have been let out by Tara to use the bathroom and to get a little outside time before being brought in for the night, which is why the dog was outside in the backyard when the police arrived and more than likely why the neighbors heard the dog barking early Sunday morning. So I don't think Dolley was inside during the abduction. She was more than likely outside, and she was still outside when the abductor came back to the house to bring home Tara's car. That is probably when Dolley started barking early Sunday morning. I feel that the abductor went inside the house to clean up any evidence but Dolley started barking so much that he was scared off before he could pick up the lamp and alarm clock. He probably hurriedly exited the house, taking Tara's keys and locking the door behind him and accidently dropping one of the gloves in the front yard as he was leaving. I am sure he probably used the gloves to strangle her when he took her away from the house, or he may have just used the gloves while he was inside the home when he abducted her and when he returned to clean up the house. He more than likely had them on while he was driving her car to keep from leaving fingerprints. As to why he may have kept her keys, well, he may have touched them and her purse, and because it would be difficult to totally clean off prints from keys and a purse, he decided to just keep them. During the struggle, she more than likely would have not had an opportunity to get to her phone, and he would have not touched it either since it was on the charger, so it was safe to have left it there. That is more than likely why her purse and keys were missing but not her cell phone. He probably had to leave so quickly because of the barking dog and the fact that others would be up stirring around to see what the dog was barking at, so he would not have had time to lock the car and did not want to risk it if he did.

Those are just some of my theories. I would be very interested to hear others. But whatever happened to Tara Grinstead, I hope that her family can find some closure and maybe one day, Tara might even come walking up to her family's front door and say, "I am sorry I caused so much trouble, but I had to get away for a while." Somehow I don't think that will happen. I think Tara was the victim of the rage of a lunatic and her soul is with the Lord, and her body is somewhere in a deep unmarked grave. I pray for Tara and her family.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Camp Creek Train Wreck of 1900 Might Be Responsible for Haunted McDonough Square

What is oftentimes called Georgia's own Titanic story took place in Henry County, Georgia on June 23, 1900. Near the present-day city of McDonough, there is a small creek called Camp Creek. As in 1900, today there is a railroad track that runs across the creek. However, if you were to visit the site today, the creek flows quietly underneath the railroad crossing. On that fateful day in 1900, the creek was swollen due to three weeks of heavy nonstop rainfall. The railroads were important modes of transportation in 1900, as this was before the mass production of automobiles. The heavy rainfall would spell disaster for Old Number 7, the locomotive that would pull the train northbound from Macon on to the bridge over Camp Creek that fateful day.
I first learned of this event after taking the Haunted History Tour of McDonough tonight led by Caprice Walker and Dan Brooks of Bell, Book and Candle in downtown McDonough, Georgia. Living in the area, the tour was even more enjoyable for me due to my curiosity about the many old buildings and homes in the downtown area. On the tour, Dan and Caprice tell guests of the many historic buildings in downtown McDonough and the ghost stories that have made these buildings so mysterious. On the tour, the two take guests to the square downtown. While it is a very peaceful, serene looking park, there are a number of things that have happened in and on the square that make it the site of some eerie happenings. Perhaps the most intriguing of these is what is called the Camp Creek Train Wreck.
As Old Number 7 sat on the tracks at the McDonough depot waiting for the heavy rainfall and bad weather to pass, it was attached to a combination car, day coach, and Pullman sleeper. There were 48 passengers and crew aboard. The engineer, J.T. Sullivan, was given the orders to wait at McDonough for eastbound Number 27 from Columbus coming in from Luella. Number 27 never came, but the Red Ball Freight carrying two people did come through and was waived on. It later crossed the Camp Creek bridge, becoming the last train to do so before the fateful accident.
Around 9:45 p.m. that night, Sullivan received orders to continue northbound. The passengers were a bit nervous about making the trek in the awful weather, and when told of this by one of his crewman, the engineer is said to have remarked, "We'll either be having breakfast in Atlanta or Hell." As the train neared the bridge, the brick supports underneath the bridge had washed out from under the tracks. By the time the train got to the bridge, it was too late. They applied the brakes on the train, but it did not work. The engine leaped through the air as the tracks fell away underneath, and although it almost made it to the other side, the other cars crashed in to the chasm below. According to Brooks and Walker in their guide to historic and haunted downtown McDonough, "As soon as the train crashed, it was engulfed in flames. The train cars began to fill with water from the swollen creek. Survivors attempted to climb the wreckage, but were swept away in the raging torrent. The scene was one of horror."
Of the 48 people on board the train, only nine survived that night. Those people were taken to the Globe Hotel or the Dunn House downtown on the square to receive any needed medical treatment and to board for the time being. The Globe Hotel is now the home of Scarlett's Retreat in McDonough and is the two story home facing Jonesboro Street. Those bodies that were recovered from the wreckage were taken back to McDonough. They were laid out on the square for identification. Local undertakers, B.B. Carmichael and A.F. Bunn and Company handled much of the work on the bodies.
Brooks and Walker have a theory as to why the square in downtown McDonough is so haunted. They feel that it has a lot to do with the Camp Creek Train Wreck of 1900. In their guide they comment, "Maybe that is why so many places around the square are considered haunted-by the ghosts of the dead who were laid out in the public square. Or maybe it is the ghost of those poor victims where were never recovered from the wreck, seeking their homes and are lingering here not knowing they never made it on their trip." Below is a partial list of the passengers and crew that were part of that wreck:

Passengers (list incomplete): W.W. Ipark, W.F. Maddox, George W. Flournoy, W.J. Pate, and Jesse Pate all of Atlanta; Clinton Hightower of Stockbridge; J.L. Florida of Nashville, Tennessee; and W.H. Jensen of Sugar, Utah.
Crew: J.T. Sullivan, W.A. Barclay, W.H. Green, W.W. Bennett, all of Atlanta; H.R. Cressman of Asheville, North Carolina.
Unidentified: There were 11 people, both African American and caucasian. Brooks and Walker also report that there were some bodies believed to be underneath the splintered railcars that were lying in the creekbed that were never recovered and identified.

Perhaps these lost souls do continue to roam the downtown square in McDonough. I know that there were a lot of buildings that we visited on the tour that were haunted. This was a tragedy of major proportions. This weekend, I plan to find the site of the wreck and visit. They did rebuild the tracks over Camp Creek, and to this day there are trains that still cross the creek on the new tracks that are there. There are still parts of the old support beams that are in the ground underneath the tracks and near the creek bank. There are also remnants of the old brick supports that are still there. I plan to visit and take pictures. Perhaps I will get to post them soon. I highly recommend a trip to McDonough to take Walker and Brook's tour. You can call and make arrangements at 770-957-1880. They visit a haunted theatre, as well as restaurants that used to be funeral parlors and are very haunted. One is The Seasons Bistro, considered to be the most haunted building in McDonough. They also visit the old Masonic Lodge, and the Hazlehurst House, a haunted antebellum mansion. It is quite a tour.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Georgia Bigfoot Hoax Turns Sour-Fast

What a difference a week can make. Since last Friday's press conference, the Georgia Bigfoot hoax perpetuated by Matthew Whitton and Ric Dyer has become the biggest Bigfoot story since the Patterson/Gimlin footage of 1967. However, this was a hoax, unlike the footage that Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin showed the world. After the press conference, hundreds of Bigfoot researchers, enthusiasts, and members of the scientific community began to question the appearance of the body. Once again, there were those who had done a simple Google search and found the company website for Thehorrordome.com and saw plainly that the costume was what the pair was showing as the Sasquatch body in the freezer. Interestingly enough, I knew the two men who did the Google search and found the costume. They included me on a email list they sent out immediately after discovering the site. The two hoaxsters, Dyer and Whitton, should never have messed with the two real Bigfoot experts I talk with and are sources for my upcoming book on the Georgia Bigfoot. These guys are actually smart, unlike Whitton and Dyer.
I actually spoke with Ric Dyer back in early July. Honestly, when I spoke with him, it was during the early stages of this hoax, and he and Matthew Whitton had not changed their stories. One of the guys I spoke of earlier who is actually a credible Bigfoot researcher in Georgia called me to tell me that there was a new website out there about a group who did Bigfoot research in Georgia, and that I might want to check them out. I told him I would, and the next day, I had surfed the site and put in a call to the tip line just to see what the two guys were involved with and if I could interview them about their work. Once I made the call, hours later, Dyer called me back and told me he would be willing to allow me to interview him. We talked on the phone for over an hour. Only moments in to that conversation he told me that he and Whitton had discovered a body. He said that they discovered it while tracking the creatures in the North Georgia Mountains. Although he would not tell me specifically where, I asked if it were near Blue Ridge, Ellijay, Cherry Log, or Helen. He mentioned that it was closer to Blue Ridge and Ellijay. Since there have been sightings that have come from those areas, I felt it might be plausible to believe that there was indeed a body found there.
Continuing the conversation, Dyer told me that Whitton stayed with the body while the other members of the team went back in to civilization and got materials to retrieve it and store it. He told me that he and Matthew Whitton had spent tons of money on this, but that they fully intended to make that money back by selling the body. He specifically said that a CNN news crew had already been there to interview them and that he and Whitton had shown the crew the body. He told me that the crew laughed and giggled at the mention of a body, but when they showed the crew and its producer the corpse and allowed them to "stick their hands down in to the ice" to touch it, they quickly stopped laughing. Little did I know that there was no CNN news crew that visited their home, and that what they had in the freezer under ice was a Sasquatch costume from TheHorrorDome.com. Keep in mind that all that they told me sounded fairly believable. I remember calling my contacts after speaking with Dyer and telling them that they could indeed have a specimen and we should find out more about it. Nonetheless, going back to the conversation I had with Dyer, I remember him telling me that they had sold out their July expedition to the North Georgia Mountains to find more Sasquatch, and that they indeed knew where a family of them lived and were going to capture a live one. I guess they planned on having someone dress up in the costume and allow them to film while they pretended to capture the Bigfoot. I must admit that the costume looks fairly real, and that these guys were probably convinced a video of such would be perceived as possibly real. Who knows?
Dyer told me that he and Whitton had lost a lot of money so far on this, but that they had planned on selling the body for a large sum of money. However, no pictures or videos could be released because CNN had first release rights on the footage. That was questionable, but I am no lawyer. Speaking of lawyers, he told me that the pair had one, Monroe Ferguson. This lawyer was supposedly helping them get their contracts and legal rights to the body and copyrights together. Once that had been done, all would be released and the world would see just how real Bigfoot was. I suppose they were laughing at me the whole time that I was on the phone. But the way I look at it now is I still have my job and the whole world does not look at me as a known liar. Yes, I am an academic historian who believes there is enough evidence to suggest the existence of Bigfoot. I am not the only college professor who does. Check out Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum, or the late Dr. Grover Krantz. Listen to the ideas of Dr. John Bindernagel. For heaven sakes, Loren Coleman of Cryptomundo.com is a former college professor and holds advanced degrees. There are a number of learned men and women who believe this creature indeed does exist. Wayne Ford, a very intelligent, college educated man, is a journalist for the Athens Banner-Herald in Athens, Georgia and he has pretty much staked his reputation on it, releasing a number of articles for the paper on it and even engages in ongoing field research. So, the way I see it, those two are the ones I am laughing at now, not the other way around.
Dyer also told me that Matt Moneymaker of the BFRO had offered them $100,000 for the body. They refused, holding out for more. When Moneymaker asked them more questions, specifically about their June expeditions, he became convinced they were lying. The reason: he had evidence of them sending out emails on the days when they were SUPPOSED to be deep in the North Georgia Mountains leading that expedition. I go to those mountains a good bit on vacation, and I can tell you that wireless access is almost non-existent once you leave the municpal areas like Blue Ridge and Ellijay. Moneymaker knew this too; he has done research in those same mountains, and unlike Matt Whitton and Ric Dyer, he is not ignorant. Moneymaker immediately called them a pack of liars and hung up the phone with them. Obviously that pissed them off with Moneymaker. Dyer told me on the phone that night that they planned to show Moneymaker how wrong he was and they were going to expose him for the fraud he was. It looks like Moneymaker got the last word. Check out the BFRO website on the Georgia hoax. Moneymaker had the article put on the front page of the website. It can be found at http://www.bfro.net/.
I cannot figure out why these two lied the way they did. They soon made contact with Tom Biscardi who then told Fox News he had touched, prodded, and seen the body and that it was no costume. Later, after the hoax was exposed, he claims he was duped and that he had not seen their body until it was dethawed. Is he lying? Most certainly. Being interviewed now by Fox, CNN, and other outlets, Dyer is telling everyone that Biscardi and Steve Kulls of http://www.squatchdetective.com/ were both in on it and that they were coached by them. Kulls denies this, and Biscardi is attempting to sue the two. Dyer says he has proof of that. He also tells reporters that they were just playing a joke and that they never intended for this to get as big as it did. "It got legs,"is what some are saying, including Dyer. But what should he have expected? He and Whitton went on national television with Biscardi and lied. Did they not expect it to go this far? Why call the press conference if you did not want this to get out of hand, and why get involved with Tom Biscardi, a known hoaxer? Whitton, an injured Clayton County police officer has now been fired by police chief Jeff Turner. Turner says there is no way Whitton can be trusted in court now and is virtually useless to the force. I agree. Now, Whitton has no job. So why did they do it.
I think it might be possible that these two think they could make money on a book deal. Sure, they have gotten their names all over the news, and I would say that they were seen in the last week almost as much as Olympic swimmer and gold medalist Michael Phelps was, and as such, perhaps they feel they can cash in by selling their story for a book deal. But they are now being sued by Biscardi and his company, SearchingforBigfoot Inc. They have hired a lawyer to handle their legal affairs. Whitton did not even know he had been fired until he heard it on the news. Oh well, he used the news to perpetuate a lie; Chief Turner just returned the favor by using the news to inform Whitton of his employment status.
Should we have all known this was a hoax? Probably. But we had a hard time trying to figure out why they were doing this if it were a hoax. How would they have gotten out of it? It was too stupid to be a hoax, we thought. There were some clues. For instance, they hoaxed Whitton's brother and presented him as a Dr. Paul Van Buren. We all caught that and they had to come clean. We should have learned from that. But then again, they had no way out of this, we felt. If they did not have the body, it would be too obvious. They had to have something. As it turns out, they did not. What I hope does not happen is that people begin to doubt that there really is Sasquatch in Georgia. There is so much proof that there is. My book, which will be released in the coming months, will lay out the evidence for such a possibility. It is being published by Idyll Arbor publishers. In that book, you will see the real Bigfoot research community who will more than likely be the ones to bring in a real corpse. Honestly, Whitton and Dyer will be included in my book. They have an entire chapter devoted to their lie. It would not be complete without them. Afterall, this was a huge event in Georgia Sasquatchery-lie or not. But they did lie, and this is all over now. They are left to fight the legal battles and political fall out they have caused. True research will go on, and the story of the Big Georgia Hoax will now be part of history. What a summer!!!!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Georgia Bigfoot Body is a Hoax, But Georgia Bigfoot Is Real

The press conference has come and gone. As suspected, Tom Biscardi provided nothing new or nothing concrete during the Palo Alto, California conference. All that was done was Biscardi introduced Matt Whitton and Ric Dyer, the two hoaxsters who have perpetuated this lie since the middle of the summer. Biscardi also presented what Fox News called "blurry" photos of the head of the supposed creature. Biscardi claims that he will assemble a group of scientists to examine the body in the coming days and still says he wants popular Fox News anchor Megyn Kelley to come and see the body too.

For those of you who do not know, Tom Biscardi has been involved in so many hoaxes, that anything he does now is suspect. Known anthropologist and Sasquatch researcher Dr. Jeff Meldrum of Idaho State University and author of Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science said as much during an interview with The Scientific American. In addition, the owner of www.cryptomundo.com, Loren Coleman, who is the author of Bigfoot:The True Story of Apes in America, basically said that the teeth in the animal's head looked like they could have been his late mother's set of dentures. Noone in the Bigfoot community of any note or merit is taking this seriously. As I stated on an earlier post, Whitton and Dyer are self-admitted liars. On Steve Kull's internet radio show on July 28th, Ric Dyer said himself that eighty percent of what they posted in their Youtube videos previously was lies intended to "piss off" the Bigfoot community. In addition, they also admitted lying about the true identity of Dr. Paul Van Buren, who turned out to be Martin Whitton, the brother of Matt. While it was true he was from Texas, he is not and has never been a scientist or Bigfoot researcher. The two lied about this, and it was only when they were caught that they played it off as a joke, which it was not. They only considered it to be a joke when they got CAUGHT.

So, what we have here is a pair of liars, by their own admission. Couple that with Tom Biscardi's sketchy past, and it is more than difficult to take anything this trio says as believable. I for one am tired of this ploy and feel that it will do nothing more than bring even more negativity to the field of Bigfoot research. What these men have obviously done is bought a Sasquatch halloween costume, dumped animal entrails on top, put in a fake pair of dentures, and billed it as a Sasquatch body. They obviously used the costume before they did all this to take those blurry photos in the woods. I wonder which of the two put the costume on and tromped through the woods like a moron to do that? Did they not know that it is dangerous to tromp through the Georgia woods in a costume like that? Guess not!!!

But you should in no way judge the Georgia Bigfoot community by the actions of these two hoaxers. They are not the real deal, and the only thing they are really good at is lying. If they have a body, which they don't, then let them produce it. I challenge them to call Dr. Meldrum, Esteban Sarmiento, Matthew Moneymaker, and a CNN or Fox News crew to do a REAL scientific examination of said body. In addition, I would like for them to produce the list of people who went on their supposed expedition back in June. I am sure that if they are the real deal, the patrons would not mind being associated with the "Best Bigfoot Trackers in the World." Also, I would like for them to produce the receipts they got when they purchased the flatbed truck and
freezer they claimed to have bought when they supposedly brought the body out of the woods. If they really did anything like this, then the receipts would be very handy, and I am sure that if they have lost them, the companies would be more than willing to verify the purchase. Afterall, these are the "Best Bigfoot Trackers in the World." Of course, none of these things will ever happen.

Although this body is a fake, there really is a Bigfoot in Georgia. The real trackers and Georgia Bigfoot investigators work every week compiling evidence and doing research to prove that the creature is real. Anyone who has ever done any research on the history of Georgia will know that the state used to be home to two very large and powerful Native American tribes-the Creeks and the Cherokees. The history of both of these tribes includes stories that sound a good bit like Sasquatch stories and encounters. In addition, reports in Georgia of Bigfoot sightings go all the way back to 1816. Sightings of the creatures still abound, especially in the North Georgia Mountains. The BFRO routinely conducts expeditions and research in the state, and there is even a website devoted entirely to Bigfoot sightings in Georgia-www.georgiabigfoot.com. There is so much evidence and history of Bigfoot in the state of Georgia, that I have written an entire book on the topic. The book will be out shortly, and I hope that it will shed light on just how true the existence of Georgia Bigfoot is. In that book, you will meet some true professionals who have spent many hours in the woods tracking these creatures. They have read tons of books, articles, and done their own primary research in the woods and fields of Georgia. In fact, one case is still being investigated and it is clear that the eyewitnesses in this case saw more than one Bigfoot on more than one occasion. But these guys do not go out and buy costumes and perpetuate hoaxes. They care more about the truth than their own careers. In fact, one is such a committed researcher that he has moved to the Pacific Northwest for a year to gain even more valuable experience in Bigfoot research so that he can do more and be more resourceful when he returns to the Peach State in 2009. It is their stories that I hope to tell. Nevertheless, there will be a chapter about this hoax, using the facts as reported by Whitton, Dyer, and Biscardi themselves. Hopefully, the world will soon see how elaborate of a hoax this is, and how credible the real Bigfoot research in Georgia is.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Georgia Bigfoot Body Video Released

Well, the September 1st deadline was moved up, and for what reason, I am not sure. However, Bigfoot researcher Tom Biscardi, who many of my sources tell me has been involved in releasing pictures and videos of Bigfoot that have then turned out to be hoaxes, has taken the lead in talking to the press and the rest of the world on behalf of Matt Whitton and Ric Dyer. The two men from the metro-Atlanta area claim to have the body of a Bigfoot found in the North Georgia Mountains. While I am sure that Bigfoot does exist in North Georgia, I am skeptical as to whether or not this is a real specimen. On the internet, there is a company that sells Sasquatch costumes. It can be accessed at http://www.thehorrordome.com/HDSHOPPINGPROPS/SasquatchLARGE.htm. If you take a close look at the photo of the costume, it looks suspiciously like the body in the freezer that they are now calling the Ricmatt creature. This was brought to my attention by two experienced and seasoned Georgia Bigfoot hunters, both of which are field researchers and members of the BFRO.

Right now, Tom Biscardi says that there will be a huge public announcement made on Friday, August 15th in San Francisco, California about the find. According to Biscardi, the two, Whitton and Dyer, stumbled upon the creature while they were in the woods in North Georgia. No other details about what they were doing there or how it was discovered have been released. Biscardi claims to have gone with the pair to the area where the body was retrieved. I spoke with Ric Dyer on the phone back in July, and he told me then that the two were Bigfoot hunters and had been looking for Bigfoot for a while. However, now it appears that the two just "stumbled upon" the body and were not actually Bigfoot hunters. He also told me that at that time a CNN news crew had already been to the site where the body was being stored, and that they had filmed the creature. Ric Dyer, with whom I spoke, also promised to allow me to interview him and Matt for my upcoming book; however, they never called me back, and I have yet to interview them. Nonetheless, most of what they are now saying is on Youtube or is being relayed by Tom Biscardi. As far as I know, CNN has not covered the story, and several local news stations from the Atlanta area did interview the two, and sources now tell me that none of those local stations plan on doing a story and releasing the story or footage of the two men that they shot because the two refused to show any of them a body. The only media outlet (national) that I know of that has even touched this is Fox News, and they did it more so as a joke. They are the ones that ridiculed Matt Moneymaker of the BFRO. However, some at Fox appear to believe that there may be something of merit to this story. I believe that they may be fooled.

For now, noone has seen the body in the Bigfoot community except Tom Biscardi. If there is a body, and it is real, then the two should NOT be afraid to release it and show it to the world at the press conference. Will they? I don't know. I am not sure why these two have been so coy. If they do have a body, they will not be able to keep it. More than likely it was found on public property and would be confiscated by the Georgia DNR of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. If there is no body, then Biscardi, Dyer, and Whitton will have a lot of explaining to do. They supposedly have led expeditions and charged people money, claiming to be the only pair to ever find a Bigfoot body and know where a family of Sasquatch live, so if there is no body, those claims are fraudulent. This could get interesting.
The two men who claim to have the body have a track record of lying, by their own admission. Dyer told Steve Kulls of Squatchdetective, that the many Youtube videos were full of lies. They were just trying to piss off the Bigfoot community, and were trying to lure in people and get exposure, but they admit that they were lying to do it. In addition, to that they create a fictitous character, Dr. Paul Van Buren, who turned out to be Matt Whitton's brother. Only when they were caught did they finally admit that they were lying about that, and then tried to play their lie off as a joke. Perhaps they are lying now. Who knows? What will come of that press conference? What will happen? If the press does not do proper investigation like they would on any claim such as this, perhaps a hoax will be perpetuated and everyone will end up with egg on their face.

Friday, August 8, 2008

September 1st Draws Nearer

It appears that two men from the Atlanta metro area have found Bigfoot, or they say they have. The two own the site http://www.bigfoottracker.com/. I have spoken with one of the two, and he says that the body will be released for the world to see on September 1st. A lot of people have debated whether or not this is true. Here is a quick update. A visit to the site of Bigfoottracker.com reveals that the two have partnered with longtime Bigfoot researcher Tom Biscardi who owns http://www.searchingforbigfoot.com/. Apparently, he has taken DNA samples of the body. The website gives no further information, but previously, Dyer and Whitton, the owners, said they will release the body and photos on September 1st.

In addition, if you go to the webpage, there are a few photos there that seem to indicate that they photographed something in the woods. If you look VERY closely, you can see the semblance of a silhouette in one of the photos that looks like there is something standing there. Is this one of their blurrier and less decipherable pictures? Are they trying to let us see what they have little by little and have released the most obscure ones first? Perhaps!! Check out the photos.

I personally am looking forward to September 1st to see what they have. If they have a body, then the world of science will have quite a task getting all the information gathered by Bigfoot hunters about these animals. It will also lead to vindication for scientists who stuck their necks out and said that these animals did indeed exist, like Dr. Jeffery Meldrum of Idaho State University, and the late Dr. Grover Krantz of Washington State University. I highly recommend Dr. Meldrum's book Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science.

Stay tuned!!! This could get interesting.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Will the body be released soon?

The men who have claimed to have found the body of a Bigfoot in the North Georgia Mountains are now saying that they have sold the body for about ten million dollars. This came from the mouth of one of the men, Ric Dyer, on the internet radio show, Squatch detective, which aired on Monday night. However, they claim that they will release video of the body on September 1st. The two men have posted videos on Youtube under the screen name rdyer678 if anyone would like to check them out. They have very unconventional ways of promoting their message. In fact, they seem to have a vendetta against Matt Moneymaker, the owner of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, and Loren Coleman, the owner of Cryptomundo and famed cryptid researcher and author.
According to their story, as told by Dyer on the Squatch detective radio show, the men are NOT Bigfoot researchers and never had been before they supposedly found this body. Dyer says they stumbled upon the body, and then proceeded to purchase equipment to haul it out of the North Georgia Mountains over the course of a day and a half. He also says that as they were dragging the body out of the woods, they felt they were being watched by other Sasquatch. They also claim to have photos and video footage of living Sasquatch and will release those pictures and videos later this summer as well.
There is a great deal of controversy surrounding these events. First, the two men seem to be very abrasive and braggish. They claim to be the "best Bigfoot trackers in the world." But on the radio show Monday night, July 28th, Dyer said that we should all understand that 80 percent of what we hear and see on their videos is just to sell t-shirts and make fun of the Bigfoot research community. So, there is really no clear indication of what their intentions and purposes are. Again, according to Dyer, they have sold the body to a third party and are not going to be supervising scientific inquiries and examinations of the body. However, he did indicate that there were three people that he had chosen to see the specimen before the September 1st release date. Steve Kulls, the owner of http://www.squatchdetective.com/ is one of the men who has been chosen. You may monitor his site for more updates.
Is all of this true? Many of my contacts in the Bigfoot research community that I interviewed for my upcoming book believe it is a huge hoax. Others in the community at large are perplexed about their methods. I have spoken with Mr. Dyer, and although he seemed a nice enough man, there are some things he did not reveal to me, and without those details, I cannot say for sure what is truly going on here. Indeed, I hope they do have a specimen, as that will solve the mystery and give the scientific community a springboard from which to leap in to genuine scientific research about the creature. If they do not have a body, then this will be a black eye to them, but also to the Bigfoot research community as a whole, many of whom have latched on to this tooth, nail, and claw. Only time will tell. I would suggest continuing to monitor their website and their Youtube account for more details in the coming weeks. The countdown is on. If they are for real, we are one month away from a big unveiling.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Bigfoot Body in Metro Atlanta?

Recently, I had an opportunity to talk with a young man who is part owner of Bigfoottracker.com. He and his business partner, Matthew Whitton, a Clayton County police officer who was hurt in the line of duty, have formed the group to lead expeditions in to the North Georgia Mountains to search for the elusive creature. Ric Dyer, the gentleman with whom I spoke, informed me that the team had found the dead body of a Georgia Bigfoot. I asked him when the two planned to release the body, or at least photos and videos of it, to the public. He commented, "Soon." Now, the pair, after some ribbing and scrutiny for PR stunts gone awry, have decided to release pcitures and videos of the body by September 1st. I have been told by Ric that they have already been interviewed by a CNN news crew, a news crew from a local Atlanta television station, and articles have been written and posted in newspapers in Fayette and Clayton County. The pair have a site called Bigfoottracker.com and can be located at www.bigfoottracker.com. Also, they frequently post videos on Youtube under the name rdyer678. In one of the videos, you can see something that looks like a giant body under a tarp in a freezer. Perhaps that is the body of the elusive Georgia Sasquatch. Who knows? Maybe the world will be astonished on September 1st when they unavail what they have....
Do check out their site. You can even call their sighting hotline and talk with them about it. They are pretty nice guys who don't seem to mind telling about their story. It is at least worth a look.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Is the Old Governor's Mansion Haunted?

If you have not been to Milledgeville to the Old Governor's Mansion, you certainly are missing a treat. In the last few years, the state of Georgia has appropriated millions of dollars for the repair and restoration of the mansion. It served as the home of Georgia's governors from 1838 until 1868, some 30 years. Until 1879, it served as a boardinghouse, when it was then purchased by Georgia Military and Agricultural College as a dorm. After 1890, it served as the home of the presidents of what is now Georgia College & State University, the institution which owns the mansion now, although it is no longer being used as the residence of the college's president. Regular tours are offered, and the mansion staff is headed by Jim Turner, a professional public historian.

There are quite a few stories that exist about the old mansion, including one Georgia College student who witnessed the appearance of a meek, well-dressed woman one evening while tidying up after a catered dinner in the mansion in 1994. But the most interesting story behind the Old Governor's Mansion involves a former cook who spent most of her life preparing meals there. Her name was Molly, and she worked in the mansion when it was part of the dormitories owned by Georgia Military and Agricultural College, now Georgia Military College. She also served as a cook there for the first few presidents of what is now GC&SU. According to Barbara Duffey in her book Banshees, Bugles, and Belles: True Ghost Stories of Georgia, people who have been in the mansion often report smelling blueberry muffins cooking. Others smell pork and blackeyed peas cooking, all three of which were part of the culinary delights served by Molly during her tenure as a cook at the mansion. Each time these smells have lingered and tantalized the noses of mansion visitors, it has been found that noone is in the home cooking, and the kitchen is empty. On one occasion, visitors reported smelling burned potatoes. The smell grew so strong that the local fire department was called to investigate. Although all of the firemen could smell the odor of burned potatoes, the source could not be found. It was suggested that the smell came from Molly. The evening when this happened had been the occasion where a Texas Confederate soldier's remains had been unearthed and were placed in the mansion to lay in state to honor the fallen hero. There were thousands of visitors to the mansion during the event, and the doorbell rang numerous times. It was said that Molly must have been startled or confused by the incessant ringing of the mansion's doorbell that she forgot about her cooking potatoes and inadvertantly allowed them to burn.

Other incidents involve the lingering odor of cigars and pipe smoke in the mansion library. It should be noted that many of the college presidents who lived there would often retire to that room after dinner to have a smoke. Perhaps some of them are still keeping vigil in the mansion library. Stories are also told of a servant who after preparing and cleaning an upstairs bedroom was startled by someone (or something) throwing the bed linens off the bed on to the floor. After this happened several times, the servant decided not to enter the bedroom again.

I would highly recommend Mrs. Duffey's book. Not only are there great stories in the book about Milledgeville, Georgia's antebellum capital, there are numerous stories about ghosts of Macon, Savannah, and the small towns of Coastal Georgia. If you cannot find the book in stores, try contacting the publisher, Rockbridge Publishing Company in Berryville, Virginia. Happy reading!!!