Saturday, February 28, 2009

Blood Mountain-Home to Unknown Creatures?

In Union County, near Blairsville, Blood Mountain was the sight of a battle between Cherokee and Creek Tribes for control of territory. The Cherokees won the battle, which was fought at Slaughter Gap between Blood Mountain and Slaughter Mountain. Both Slaughter Gap and Slaughter Mountain are called such due to the tragic fight between the two tribes. A visit to the area will reveal a Georgia Historical Marker that pays tribute to the historical nature of the place.

Bigfoot researchers contend that Blood Mountain is also the source of quite a few reported Sasquatch sightings. Some field researchers with the Bigfoot Field Research Organization have followed up on reports from the area, and they say that their files contain sightings from the area. Additional legends associated with Blood Mountain include a race of people who can be heard drumming. Researchers with the BFRO say that this is more than likely the wood knocking so common to Sasquatch. They say that since wood knocking is used as a communication tool among these animals to keep track of one another when they spread out foraging for food, the animals are probably doing this as they hunt for food on the mountain, a prime location for food due to its abundance of plant and animal life. The drumming that the Native Americans and other people have heard there was probably Sasquatch wood knocking. Researchers mention that their research in to the legend of the drumming people of Blood Mountain indicate that the drumming happens at night. To these researchers, this also fits neatly in to the characteristics of Sasquatch, as they are known to forage for food at night under the cover of darkness to avoid human contact.

The North Georgia Mountains have always been the location of mysterious sightings and strange occurances. Perhaps there is more to Blood Mountain than meets the eye.

Track Rock Gap-An Ancient Georgia Mystery

About five miles east of Blairsville, Georgia in Union County is Track Rock Gap. The anthropoligist James Mooney, who wrote the book "Myths of the Cherokee" recalls that the Cherokee called this place Datsu'nalasgun-yi. There are a number of soapstone rocks on a trail through the gap and these rocks are covered by petroglyphs. Moooney also mentions that the Cherokee give another meaning to the name of this place-where the tracks are.

Bigfoot researchers are of the opinion that Track Rock Gap is a place where Indians recorded their experiences with Sasquatch. One Bigfoot investigator from the North Georgia area makes mention that natives had the habit of recording what they saw around them, an explanation for petroglyphs and rock drawings in Indian territories. The drawings at Track Rock Gap are no exception. It has been said by some that the drawings at Track Rock Gap are simply historical records of natives and their observation of Sasquatch in the area. There are indeed stories and legends among the Cherokees that give some credence to the idea that Cherokees in the area had come in to contact with strange animals that could be Sasquatch. One such legend is that of Tsul'Kalu, also called Jutaculla/Judaculla.

This is quite an interesting theory. Much research has been done around Track Rock Gap, and several Sasquatch sighting databases turn up reports and sightings in the area. This summer, I plan to visit the area for a few days. I hope to get some pictures of those rocks, and whatever else might be lurking up there.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

1887 Voodoo Murders in Milledgeville, or Were They?

This story comes from Hugh Harrington's "Remembering Milledgeville" available from History Press ( and published in 2005.

In 1887, in Baldwin County near Milledgeville, a family of eleven were dead or deathly ill after they enjoyed a meal together. The father, John Harris, together with his wife and nine children all became sick after eating a meal together. Before dying, they became so sick that they were unconscious. A local physician, druggist, and college professor were called to the scene. They examined the bodies, and immediately posion was suspected.

According to Harrington, "The story gets even more interesting as it was said that John Harris had a dispute with his brother-in-law, Jim Bonner." It was said that Jim Bonner was a "practitioner of voodoo." It was reported that Jim Bonner said that since John Harris did not believe in voodoo and its power, that his whole family would meet the grim reaper within one month. After the death of four of his children and his wife, John Harris became quite ill, a maniac, according to Harrington. He was thrown in the State Lunatic Asylum.

Jim Bonner was arrested by local police upon suspicion for murder. Rumor had it that he was a practitioner of voodoo, using medicinal plants and roots that he gathered in nearby swamps and such. Although he was kept in jail for a time, he had to be released because there was no real evidence against him. He and his wife eventually left Milledgeville and went to Putnam County. After a few days at the asylum, John Harris died in convulsions. The stomach of Mrs. Harris had been sent to Athens to be examined for possible poisoning. However, there was no evidence of poison, and the results of the examination did nothing to solve the mystery. The possibility of spoiled food was mentioned, but no proof offered.

Noone knows for sure what killed John Harris, his wife, and four of his children. As Hugh Harrington writes in his book, "Bonner may have been entirely innocent or perhaps he had committted the perfect crime through the use of voodoo. Who can say for sure?"

This is a very interesting story. I find it very odd that so many of the family died around the same time after eating the same meal. Wouldn't their mother and father be smart enough to have spotted spoiled food before they ate it? Who knows? But this case is very weird. Was it the work of a voodoo doctor, or just pure coincidence?

I highly encourage buying a copy of "Remembering Milledgeville." There are quite a few stories in the book about murders and other local mysteries from Milledgeville and Baldwin County. You can also check out Hugh and his wife's work that they have done out at Memory Hill Cemetery in downtown Milledgeville. (or nearby, rather)

Tours of McDonough Memorial Cemetery

My friends down at Bell, Book, and Candle, (Caprice and Dan) and I will be conducting tours of the McDonough Memorial Cemetery today at 5:00 p.m. The tour will highlight some of the same people as the ghost tour, but will also include a number of historical figures not on the tour. We will also be covering some history of American funerary customs, symbolism behind toombstones, and general history of McDonough and the cemetery itself. We envision these tours to be on the Saturdays when there is no Haunted History Tour. There is no Haunted History tour today, so the cemetery tour will take place. We will meet at Bell, Book, and Candle at 5:00 and then everyone will drive themselves out to the cemetery, which should only take about three or four minutes to get to from the bookstore. I am not sure how much the tour will cost today, but future tours will be 10.00 per person, with a discount for small children. Contact Bell, Book, and Candle for more information.

Come and join us for the tour. I will be speaking along with Dan and Caprice. One of the stories we will cover will be the brutal murder of Adam C. Sloan in 1892. We will also talk about the Dickson family and visit the grave of Mayor J.B. Dickson, his wife Grace, and the many children the two had who died in their youths. Ruth Elizabeth Dickson is also buried there in the family plot and we will talk more about her suicide.

Email me if you have any questions.

More Interesting Facts About the Mary Shotwell Little Case

In the past few months I have done a few radio appearances, two of which focused solely on the case of Mary Shotwell Little. I have had several emails about the case. Several people have been wondering if there have ever been any updates on the case. To my knowledge, there were lots of calls, false leads, and supposed sightings in the years after the disappearance, but nothing that led investigators to anything remotely resembling the solution to this case. If you did not read about the case, you can find my post about it on this blog in the archives section under November 2008.

There was one immediate update or piece of information that I wanted to share with you that I think makes a big difference to the case. Jim Ponder, the FBI agent who worked the case, revealed that he thought that Mary was kidnapped. Here is the information upon which he bases his theory. He reported that the Sunday after Mary Shotwell Little's disappearance, Jim Ponder was assisting with interviewing Little's former roomates, all of which were being conducted at the Atlanta police headquarters. While he was there, a woman named Carolyn Smitherman came in and reported an interesting incident. Smitherman reported that she was in Lenox Square the day Little disappeared. As a matter of fact, it was deduced that she was getting in her car just before Mary Little would have left the mall. As Smitherman was walking to her car, she realized she was being followed. She hurried to her car and locked the door. A thin man with brown hair cut in a crew cut grabbed the handle. She replied, "If you think you're going to get in my car, you're crazy." He responded by tapping the windon and telling her that her ". . . back tire is low." Becoming concerned, she left the area quickly and drove to a nearby service station. Much to her surprise, her tires were all fine.
Ponder thinks it was this man who grabbed Mary Shotwell Little, and he says that he thinks that he drove Mary to a nearby location, raped her, brought her back to Lenox Square, and traded cars. He says that he thinks the man drove her to North Carolina. He obviously thinks that the man murdered her, for his next comments were "I imagine she's buried in the woods somewhere north of Raleigh."
This is a plausible theory, but I still wonder why he would have taken her to North Carolina. The two could have picked some other man up, perhaps the attackers friend or something, and the three could have still driven to North Carolina. The three would have been the people spotted at the gas station by attendants. But I still cannot explain why they would have driven to North Carolina. Was it coincidence that that was where Mary Shotwell Little had family and had lived before moving to Atlanta? Or did she ask her attackers to honor one last wish and take her to North Carolina if they planned to kill her?
Something else that puzzles me is that when Diane Shields was murdered and the investigations hit the paper, C.J. Strickland, a detective working on the case, was quoted in the local papers as having said that the murder of Diane Shields and the disappearance of Mary Shotwell Little were most certainly connected, Mary Little's mother called Strickland and told him that she did not want the investigation in to her daughter's disappearance pursued any further. Little had only been missing for two years at that point. Strickland was mystified by this, and he wondered if perhaps the Little family had heard from Mary, and he suggested that the FBI tap their phone lines. However, the FBI declined. So, perhaps we will never know if the family did have some additional information about her disappearance that the FBI and police did not.

The disappearance of Mary Shotwell Little is one of the oddest mysteries I have ever read about here in Georgia, or anywhere for that fact. Was Diane Shield's death related to Mary's, and if so, why? Or did Mary engineer her own disappearance? We may never know.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Dickson Family

In McDonough, right off the square on what is known as Jonesboro Road, sits a beautiful white home that is now owned by a couple who have renovated it and made it an events center of sorts. The home is often called the White House or simply the Dickson Home.
The home was once the residence of one of McDonough's most prominent citizens, James Buchanan Dickson (J.B.). J.B. Dickson served as mayor of McDonough in the late 19th century, having also been a successful merchant in town, as well as involved with the running of the First National Bank. J.B. was born in 1856 and died in 1929, right as the Great Depression was beginning and the same year of the great stock market crash. This is fitting given the tragedies that befell Mr. Dickson during his life.
Mayor Dickson's life was consumed with business. He was a successful merchant in Locust Grove, which is where he met and married his first wife, Mattie Sullivan. The Dicksons had two daughters, and then a son. However, his son died in 1889, and as if to add insult to injury, his wife, Mattie, died the same year, right after their son, just three years after moving in to the new home in McDonough. A few years later, on November 11, 1891, J.B. Dickson married his second wife, Grace Foster, and the two had a son, Gordon Dickson, on October 3, 1892. Three years later, another son, Ralph Foster Dickson, was born on July 17, 1895. It appeared that tragedy was visiting someone else now, as the Dicksons seemed to be happy and secure. By this time, they had been in their new home on Jonesboro Street for almost ten years. But this was not to last. On July 9th 1898, three year old Ralph Foster Dickson died at their peaceful home. Sadness was mixed with joy that month, as the passing of Ralph was met with the arrival of a new baby girl, Ruth Elizabeth. However, Ruth Elizabeth's ending was marred with sorrow much like her arrival.
The years moved along and in 1902, another child arrived, this time a son, Howell. However, as if a giant page were turned, another child was snatched up by the prongs of death when an infant son was born in 1904 and died that same year. It seemed as if the Dickson family could not win for losing.
More tragedy visited when on April 12, 1908, Elizabeth L. Sullivan, the mother of Mayor Dickson's first wife, was visiting and took critically ill. She died a few days afterwards in the Dickson's home. With so much death in that one house it seemed as if no more tragedy could happen, but on November 27, 1929, Mayor J.B. Dickson himself succumbed to the pains of a prolonged illness and died in his home. His wife Grace lived on for eleven more years before passing on January 1, 1940.
Perhaps the biggest tragedy to befall the family took place on July 11, 1944, when Gordon Dickson, who had moved out of the house and left his sister Ruth Elizabeth there to live alone, came from his home next door to check on her and found her dead, apparently of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. This was the eighth death to happen inside the Dickson house.
Investigative teams have been inside the home checking it and looking for any spirits that still walk the halls of the home of Mayor J.B. Dickson and his family. Their question: Is this house cursed? Many EVPs have been recorded in the house, including those saying "I am here," and "Gordon." A female voice could be heard saying "Lillie," and investigative teams have also been frightened by the sounds of a child singing a lullaby upstairs, rattling coat hangers, and the loud scream of someone coming from the second floor. Perhaps the most frightening experience was a voice saying, "Get Out!"
Other phenomenon seen at the house include orbs that show up in pictures, lights appearing on the wall over a fireplace, red mists, and unidentified sounds coming from all the home. Freelance Paranormal Society and Atlanta Ghost Hunters have all done investigations in the house and reported findings.
One of the things I think roams the halls of this house is an evil spirit. As I was discussing with a reader of this blog via email, evil manifests itself through the appearance of loved ones or just in human form. My best friend reported that his mother would talk about how her grandfather would come to visit her in her and her husband's house, and she would sit and have conversations with him. It was no time later that her husband, my best friend's father, hung and shot himself in the doorway of a bedroom in that house. When the family sold that house and my best friend was doing one last sweep through the house to make sure he had not left anything behind, he walked past the room where his father had hung himself. The door to the room was closed, but underneath the door, he could see what he thought was someone walking back and forth along the floor right in front of the door. However, noone was there, and there was nothing in the window or outside that could have cast a shadow and made it appear that there was someone there pacing. My best friend, as well as his siblings, believe that whatever had been visiting with their mother masquerading as the grandfather was the entity that tormented their father and told him to take his own life. My friend commented that when he saw this underneath the door, he left in a hurry, and as he was closing the front door, he yelled, "You can HAVE IT!!!"
Believe it or not, demons do walk among the living, and they masquerade as innocent and benevolent looking humans in ghost forms, sometimes even our lost loved ones. We must be careful. We must not tempt these things, lest we fall in to their trap. Is this what is up in the Dickson House? Well, it sounds like it to me, but I could be wrong. I do not think Ruth Elizabeth Dickson committed suicide on her own. I believe she was told to do it, or she was just plain murdered. What investigators, the owners, and tour groups have been hearing in the Dickson house is probably what is left of the evil that lured Ruth Elizabeth to her death. I have been in there, and I felt fine. I plan to go to one of the Murder Mystery dinners that are held there. But I never plan to tempt fate, and I certainly do not plan on doing any ghost hunting there.