Episode 174: From Scratch

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

they weren't always close to the shore. When you stand there today you might get the impression that they were constructed so close to the water on purpose but time has a way of changing things when they were first built they stood much farther inland but rising water levels erosion have played a magic trick of sorts located at orkney on the tiny island of papua yesterday. The site is known as the nap of power. It's a pair of structures made of stacked flat stones in rectangular doorways all embedded in grassy mounds. The roofs might be open to the sky today but evidence of post holes suggest that they once had proper tops and inside large thin pieces of slates have been used to divide the space into smaller rooms. Some believe the name power comes from the old norse word for burial mounds and if you look at them and made that assumption. I can't blame you. But that's not what they were. These amazing structures were something very familiar to all of us homes in their ancient to they date from around thirty five hundred b c which means they are early neolithic and even older than the more famous scar brace sites elsewhere in orkney but older than stonehenge older even than the great pyramid and they make something very clear wherever humans go. If we can't find a home waiting for us we make one and the same can be said about folklore. If you spend any amount of time reading the stories that have been passed down through various cultures over the years it quickly becomes clear that those stories have spread right alongside the people who told them but just like our innate need for a place to live sometimes that new life in a new place required new stories to make it all come together folklore evolves it grows and sometimes it's invented from scratch to help people feel a better sense of community in one place in particular is famous for its stories both in the ones they've made up and the ones that are two amazing to believe aaron minke and this is lower. There was a reason people began to move there. The area of the united states that we now know as wisconsin started out as a sort of gold mine for early european settlers. Although the gold wasn't literal it was everything else. And the reason was an idea called glaciation. That's when an area of land is covered by glaciers for a very long time which grinds the surface down and smoothes out the hills and valleys but south western. Wisconsin is part of a region in the midwest known as the drift louis area. Where none of that happened. And that meant that. All those valuable minerals and metals were more common on the surface ripe for the picking so to speak. And if you want proof just look at the name of one of the oldest towns in that area mineral points if you were a settler looking for zinc and lead back in the early eighteen hundreds mineral point was the place to be easy picking meant easy money and soon enough people flocked there from all over in fact so many miners move there that there wasn't enough housing for them so they started to carve out little caves for themselves in the hills soon enough. Some people noticed that these caves had a striking resemblance to badger holds and started referring to the miners as badgers themselves. So if you've ever wondered why wisconsin's nickname is the badger states. Now you know when the surface resources were picked over people started digging into the earth for a long while the big target there was lead and mineral point was the epicenter of that industry but whenever humans have dug deep for resources they've also found plenty of tragedy and wisconsin is no exception. In fact mining. Accidents were so common that they didn't receive a lot of attention in the local papers. They were just sort of accepted as part of the job although every now and then reports of larger accidents would appear and when they did. The language was always highly descriptive. One man in eighteen ninety three was described as being blown to atoms when the explosive charge was set off too early and in nineteen o. Nine four other miners were killed when the entire powder house detonated as they were walking past it the men were said to have been vaporized which paints a pretty clear picture of how dangerous job typically was and how creative the newspapers had become with reporting it but mining accidents weren't the only thing putting early settlers at risk all those people packed into wooden buildings and surrounded by thick woodland made for a lot of fires to for example in may of eighteen. Ninety six. massive fire broke out in northwestern. Wisconsin near the city of ashland. Three dockworkers were killed in the blaze and four years later. Another fire claimed four more lives in the very same town then in eighteen eighty. Three tragedy struck a lot closer to home in milwaukee. There was a hotel called the newhall house which had been built in eighteen. Fifty six by a local merchant named daniel newhall contemporary reports claim that it was one of the nicest hotels in america when it first went up but within just twenty five years it had already started to look a bit. Rundown but in january eighteen eighty. Three that no longer mattered. The fire broke out on the tenth of that month. Starting inside the elevator shaft and quickly spreading throughout the rest of the hotel and by the time it was over the next morning the entire building had been reduced to rubble because was more than likely just a product of the time while the outer shell of the building had been brick. The insides were entirely wooden and all throughout the hotel gaslight fixtures provided illumination for guests which meant that there were hundreds of open flames dancing around that any given moment honestly. It's a miracle the place didn't burn down sooner. And while the guest records were also destroyed in the fire. At least seventy six. Charred bodies were pulled from the ashes of the building. Most had died inside while a few had tragically tried escaping the flames by leaping from their windows only to die upon impacts and then burn in the wreckage one bright spot in an otherwise dark moment is how one pair of guests managed to survive charles sherwood stratton and his wife lavinia were traveling performers known all over the united states and they had been staying there at the hotel when the fire broke out they both apparently climbed out onto the ledge outside their window and waited for a fireman to pick them up and carry them to safety and i mean that literally in fact the firemen was able to carry both of them down at the same time tucked safely under his arm. That's because each of them were roughly three feet tall being some of the most famous examples of dwarfism in their day. And while you might not recognize the name charles stratton you will find his stage name familiar general tom thumb clearly. The early days of life in wisconsin came with challenges and risks. But all of it was in an effort to carve out a new home in a brand new place a home that quickly began to brew some of its own stories and legends it. All it takes is a quick tour of that local lore to learn something inescapable all the tragedy of the past certainly left. It's mark some of it was imported when settlers began to arrive in the region now referred to as wisconsin. They brought beliefs with them from their old homes. It's something humans are very good at when we migrates even when we can't carry belongings there's always room for story. Cornish miners attracted by the lead and zinc in the ground brought stories of goblin. Light guardians of the mind called tummy. Knockers and the german and scandinavians who made up a majority of early settlers brought their own old world folklore. But it's the tails born right there. After everyone's arrival that have truly left an impression. One of those stories comes to us from that old industrial center mineral town in february eighteen. Forty to a local man named william. Kathy attended a formal party at the home of a captain. But kathy wasn't the sort of man play by the rules that had a reputation for being a troublemaker. With a violent temper basically he was the worst sort of guests. They could have asked for when he arrived. Caffey discover. The guests were being announced as they entered through the main door so he stepped aside to wait for his own name to be called. When it wasn't he became angry asking why he had been ignored after being told that his name had indeed been called but that he had arrived too late to hear it he stole the guest list and stormed out of the house into the cool night air outside. Cathy was confronted by a few of the more courageous. Gentlemen from the party without that guest list. New arrivals couldn't be announced and they wanted it back. A kathy refused and in the heat of the argument. He pulled a pistol from his jacket and shot one of the men dead where he stood. Kathy stood trial for his crime and in november of eighteen forty two. He was driven to the gallows in the back of a wagon. Local legend says that he sat atop his own coffin there. Straddling it like a horse and tapping. It's hollow sides like a drum once in front of the gathered crowd. He refused to say his final words and drop through the platform to his death. A moment later ever since there have been stories of people who claim to see kathy's ghost walking through buildings in the area of his execution sites. One location is the walker house which is an end today but was a tavern back in the mid eighteen hundreds and while it has been remodeled many times over the years some parts of the past refused to go away guests there have seen a ghostly figure walking through the hallways at night sometimes with his head where it belongs and other times with tucked under his arm others have heard disembodied voices in rooms that were supposed to be empty. Even doorknobs have been seen turning on their own. The in might not sit on the exact location of kathy's execution. But it seems. His story has no intention of checking out. And there is a hotel in milwaukee with the similar guest. Visitors to the hilton garden. Inn have reported all sorts of unusual experiences from doors that open and close on their own to the sensation of being grabbed or pushed. And that would make it a creepy location. All on. its own until. I told you that it was originally built as a hotel called the loyalty house built on the very spot that once held the newhall house hotel. One of milwaukee's darker tales though comes from an area called allen's edition in a house at the corner of alison whitcomb. It was there in eighteen. Seventy four that locals had one of the most unexplainable experiences in the states. And if it's true it gives us plenty of reason to stop and consider the darkness. It might have left behind in august of that year. Mary spiegel reported for work in the kitchen of giddings boarding house. Owned and run. By mr and mrs giddings. Mary was a teenager with a rough home. Life and the job in the boarding house was meant to give her an escape from the anxiety in violence there in the end it only made things worse on the morning of august eighth. Mary was working alongside. Mrs giddings preparing food for the residents of the house. When a number of the chairs around the kitchen table suddenly levitated up from the floor crashed into the ceiling. Plates began to fly out of the closet nearby and shatter on the floor at a boiling pot of tea on the stove somehow fell over splashing hot water everywhere. Obviously both women were terrified as any of us would be if it had happened in our own kitchen and it continued to vegetables flew lamps toppled and potted plants left out of their spots so young. Mary rushed from the house to find help when she returned. She had to neighborhood ladies. Until mrs mead and mrs roland as soon as mary brought him into the kitchen the chaos began again. Mrs mead was so overcome with fright that she reported feeling sick and ran away from the house. Mrs roland stuck it out longer. Watching as objects flew from one place to another with no one near them to cause the movement but eventually they went looking for additional help a short time later to physicians arrived. Dr meecham and dr gray both of whom were struck by flying objects almost at once. And what's amazing about this. Entire encounter is just how thorough the local newspaper was in its investigation. Multiple people of high reputation were quoted with names to support the story. Which stated that these things occurred without human agency is vouched for by scores of eye witnesses. Clearly something unexplainable happened in this house. Some of those. Who witnessed it. All blamed young. Mary spiegel for the activity. Even though they couldn't explain it logically she was never seen throwing things and oftentimes the objects that moved. Were doing so across the room from where she and others were standing but she was young enough that some people just assume that she was a troublemaker. As all children are supposed to be. Mary was sent home after that back to her horrible father and life of loneliness and fear according to the newspaper reports. This drove mary to try and take her own life although someone intervened and taking sympathy on her. Mrs giddings invited mary back to continue her employment there at the boardinghouse the moment mary stepped into the kitchen however all of the chaos and flying objects started up again and no one either then or now as ever been able to explain why Every topic seems to have an epicenter if you want to discuss civil war history. It's hard to do better than visit gettysburg. The history of human flights. You'd better visit kitty hawk in north carolina and if you're interested in exploring wisconsin's paranormal reputation. Most would tell you that whitewater was the place to be. The reason seems to be something that happened back in the late eighteen. Hundreds that's when an unassuming man named morris moved from new york to wisconsin settling in whitewater to work as a farmer but soon enough he was pulled into the growing world of spiritualism attending seances and building his entire social circle. Around it during one seance. It's reported that morris asked a spirit where he might find a fortune. He promised that if it happened he would devote his life and money to the cause of spiritualism to work as its champion and in response the medium related information to him about where he might dig a profitable mine with the location in hand he found the owner of the property purchased it and immediately began mining for riches and it worked soon enough. Morris was a wealthy man and true to his words. He began to put that fortune to work promoting the teachings and the practice of spiritualism now morris was known around town for a lot of activities. He would speak publicly on the subject regularly and engaged in lively debates with his critics. He was even known to get kicked out of local churches for showing up and interrupting their services with his own messages. But what morris needed really was an epicenter for his life's work so in eighteen eighty eight. He started construction on an entire school devoted to it when it opened doors in nineteen. Oh three the school had his name right there. On the sign the morris pratt institute and it had his passion inside with classrooms and curriculum devoted to the study of spiritualist beliefs and practices and the pinnacle of all of that was a space on the third floor known as the white room. Thanks to its white walls white floor and white furniture. It was there that only true mediums could enter and practice everyone who stepped inside had to be dressed entirely in white and then they would gather around the table and make contact with the spirit realm if it sounds like something pulled right out of a horror film with a crazy old rich guy building a mansion devoted to spiritual energy. That's not too far from the truth. And that sort of story has a way of impacting. The community around it morris pratt died in nineteen. Oh two but his school lived on for decades more in the nineteen forties. The institute's sold their building and move to a more modern facility where they still operate today but the old structure found new uses as the years went on and as you might imagine with that sort of story at the center of city life darker legends were bound to pop up giving whitewater reputation and a nickname the second salem. For example there are rumors. A haunted book locked up in the basement of the local library. All sorts of legends have been attached to it to that a number of students and even a local professor have all taken their lives after reading it that the contents could drive a person to madness that it was a gateway to a realm of darkness. But the story is larger than reality. It turns out that the only locked book in the library is an old catholic. Hymnal thanks to its large size ornate gothic decorations and forbidden nature. Being locked in a cage but community has crafted a story to fit it. It's all fiction but it feels like it should be true and it's not the first time that sort of thing has happened in whitewater. There are a number of people who believe that there is a triangle of evil activity in town and the corners of its territory are three local cemeteries and sure enough if you look at a map. Those three points calvary cemetery oak grove cemetery and hillside cemetery. All seem to form an obvious and clear triangle whether the stories set within it are true though is up for debate but geography doesn't lie right in the center of this triangle. Is the granddaddy of them. All the location of the old morris pratt institute and the largest complex of buildings in the centre today belong to the university of wisconsin whitewater. Which has its own fair. Share of tales of haunted dormitories. But there's one building with more darkness than most when sarah posey and her husband bought the place in the late eighteen hundreds. It was supposed to be their home. The house became the center for their life and they had two sons there. Sarah was an artist and help support the family by teaching and one of her passions was tile making which she used to craft a number of beautiful tiles that were placed in among the woodwork. along the grand staircase. They're two of the tiles. Though were special. Sarah crafted one with her own image on it and another with the face of her oldest little oliver and they were mounted in a place of honor. Writes in the decorative facing the dining room fireplace but when opportunities in california pulled the family west. Those tiles were left behind. Just one more part of the house they had turned into a home and it's clear that it held a special place in their hearts because when little oliver died young at the age of thirty seven he was brought back to be buried there in whitewater his mother. Sarah followed him. Six years later also returned home for burial in nineteen twenty six but one thing had changed since their time. Their little oliver's tile on the fireplace had gone missing ever since people who lived in the house reported seen a woman in a white gown wandering the halls others claim to wake in the middle of the night to find the figure of a little boy standing at the foot of their bed as the stories flooded in over the years many began to assume sarah and oliver posey returned to their beloved home but it was clear that they were unsettled. Perhaps looking for something in the nineteen eighties. The house went through a series of renovations to restore an update much of the home and in the process. One of the workers made an amazing discovery. It was a hand painted tile with the image of a little boy on its oliver posey had been found and the tile was returned to its home above the fireplace ever since the ghostly figures of the woman and child. I've never been seen again. We humans have an intimate relationship with story. We build our lives around them we entertain ourselves with them and we hold our hopes and dreams up against them like templates story drives us and arguably makes us more human in the process. There are a lot of stories that we've been telling for millennia. The obvious examples are classic mythologies from the ancient world but even some of the fairy tales we think of as relatively modern like cinderella for example or actually just descendants of older tales from places like china and eastern europe. When we find a story we love we tend to hold onto it and pass it down through the ages sometimes though we find ourselves staring at a blank page and sometimes there's something big and obvious that gets people talking and those things have a way of kicking off stories that are new and fresh and really connected to the community who tells them which is what i think happened in whitewater. A great example is the landmark known as the witches tower. It's real name. is the sterren park. Water tower built in eighteen. Eighty nine to hold one hundred eighty five thousand gallons of water for the community. In fact it's the second oldest continuously operating water tower in the states but it also has an appearance that's generated quite reputation resembling a thick gothic tower crowned by metal tank up top and that medieval image has led some to believe that the tower also serves as the home to a coven of witches who exit the structure at night to perform rituals around it and for a long while it seemed there was proof on the building that the town was trying to keep something trapped inside because the barbed wire at the top of the surrounding fence based inward rather than toward the outside. There was nothing more than a mistake by the installers but it took on a life of its own and i have one last story that stands out as a perfect example of that concept in action to understand it though. We have to return to the home once owned by sarah posey and her husband by the nineteen sixties. The house was being used as fraternity housing for students attending the university of wisconsin. As you might imagine those frat members got up to a lot of mischief during their time there and for one of those students. Those memories were foundational becoming stories. That would live on through his work later in life specifically one of the students reportedly drove his motorcycle up the stairs to the second floor. Very same staircase that wants displayed. Sarah posey's handmade tiles had become a ramp for a wild college student. Who left his own marks on the floor. That student who watched it happened right there in the posey house would go on to start a career in entertainment known for his wild antics and crazy behavior in all of that bold personality fueled by memories of life in that whitewater. Frat house was poured into the nineteen seventy eight film animal house and that frat boy turned actor and comedian. The legend himself john belushi. There's something powerful about ghost stories. When presented in their historical context as we've learned from sarah posey's house as well as other locations from within the center of whitewater wisconsin the two are inextricably tied where there are tales of haunting. 's there's usually a backstory which brings me to an announcement you know. I have a healthy love for haunted locations as well as the historical details that anchor them in the real world and so does my good friend. Amy bruni if you don't know her name. Amy is the star of the hit. travel channel. Show kindred spirits and years before she was a regular on the legendary show ghost hunters and just like me. Amy loves the history behind the huntings. So about a year ago i started talking with her about making a podcast of her own and together. We've crafted a really special show. That i absolutely no. You're going to love called the haunted road in each episode. Amy will take a deep dive into the history of one of her favourite haunted locations. And then sit down with paranormal investigators who have spent time there to hear about their experiences and impressions from the place. Halted road arrives. July seventh on the iheartradio app apple podcasts. Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. Lauren. more and final linked to subscribe over at grim and mild dot com slash haunted road. But since it's a grim and mild. Podcast i have the power to share a bigger chunk with you right here right now and if you stick around through this brief sponsor break. I'll do just that. This episode of lor was made possible by wondering if you're a lifelong learner like me. You know how different the various services out there can be there are streaming services all over that. Turn our brains off for mindless entertainment. But the one. 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You can skip those trips to the post office. Stamps dot com has been absolutely essential to running my business especially over the past year and a half. I can use my computer to print labels ship merchandise by postage and scheduled packaged pickups. Right here for my desk which saves me a ton of time. Plus stamps dot com. Gets you five cents off. Every first class stamp up to forty percents off priority mail and up to sixty six percent ups shipping rates. Stamps dot com has saved me time and money which is a big win in my book. Stamps dot com is a must have for any business. whether you're a small office sending invoices side-hustle oetzi shop shipping out your orders or just navigating this hybrid work life. Stamps dot com can handle it all with ease. No wonder nearly a million businesses use it. Stop wasting time going to the post office and go to stamps dot com instead. There's no risk and with my promo code. Laura you'll get a special offer that includes a four week. Trial plus free postage and digital scale no long term commitments or contracts. Just go to stamps. dot com. Click on the microphone at the top of the homepage and then type in the word. Lor that stamps dot com offer code. Lor stamps dot com. Never go to the post office again in nineteen inv- alaska iowa. A family of six plus. Two of their guests were the victims of a horrible axe murderer. This unspeakable crime took place as they slept in their beds and horrify the small town of two thousand people since then. The house has been dubbed. The va liska ax murder house and is the site of many paranormal happenings attracting paranormal investigators from around the globe. Robert larson is one. Such paranormal investigator from rhinelander wisconsin in twenty fourteen. He was investigating the liska ax murder house with his parents. He told them he wanted to attempt an experiment where he would recreate the seen. The murderer left following the horrible crime. That took place there. He asked them to leave him completely alone. But to monitor the building from outside from their. Dvr cameras robert proceeded to stage the home exactly as it had been found the morning of the murders including covering all the mirrors with cloth drawing the curtains leaving a bloody bowl of water in the kitchen and even laying. A large pile of bacon on the kitchen counter will talk about the meaning of that later. The only thing robert didn't have was an axe so he may do with a knife. Robert lay down in one of the beds in the downstairs bedroom and clutch the knife in his right hand robert proceeded to call out to what he believed to be the ghost of the killer. In the dark he hurled horrible names and insults at the killer and provoked unrelentingly. The last thing robert remembers is a strange light anomaly. Emerging from the closet in the room he was in and heading straight for him. When he came to the knife he had been clutching was buried in his shoulder. He was screaming and his parents. Were calling for help. Robert was severely injured. He was actually life flighted to the nearest hospital where he coded due to blood loss but thankfully revived. The police ruled. That robert did this to himself but to this day. He swears otherwise. He claims the knife was in his right shoulder at an angle. That would have been impossible for him to do himself. And that even then. He is right handed and had the knife in his right hand. Try that for yourself. Hold something in your right hand and try to reach your right shoulder with enough force to bury a knife in it. We will never know the answers as to what happened. That night roberts actions were just out of the camera frame and his parents were so horrified by what they heard on the recorder. Robert was running at the time that they destroyed it now. I actually interviewed robert face to face. I expected to walk in and find a man who may not be entirely truthful. But i believe him. Whatever happened there that night. His left him a different person and it was to this day. Probably one of the most powerful interviews. I've ever conducted with someone. I think that was the first time i had ever met someone who had had a paranormal encounter. That made me question whether paranormal activity can actually be dangerous. Because i had never heard a story like this and the look in his eyes was one of just complete and utter terror. Eventually we were able to get robert to return to the house. And i think that was incredibly therapeutic moment for him that he needed but it was also in the middle of the day and he was surrounded by people. I don't think you could pay him enough to ever reenter that home by himself. I'm amy bruni and this is haunted road. So i am now joined by johnny hauser. Who is the i guess resident. Paranormal investigator the vellisca house. Would that be your title a yeah. I'm kind of a all. Titles with the heck's house the tour guide the overnight guy the website guy. The lawnmower guy. Like oh yeah jack-of-all-trades jack-of-all-trades for that house. I'm the norman bates of the ax. murder house. and so you actually live right next door. Is that correct. Yeah i live right next door in peckham house. And she of course was the neighbor that initially found or notice. Something was wrong at that house next door which is interesting because the more children used to play over in my house. I mean mary was like a grandma to them. I've investigated there for a few nights. And i didn't really find any evidence of the children but i do know that many people have And then we did have an experience that we felt might have been with something more. I don't like to say negative but some some someone or something that was a little more angry and a little more malicious. And you know your thoughts go to. This must be the ghost of the murderer you know but what what do you think that is. Who do you think that is. I think that everywhere on this planet where something horrible has happened. It leaves that negative imprint. It's just like you walk into a room where someone had an argument. You feel that negative energy. It's very real in lingers place had an atom bomb of negative energy dropped on it right. i mean. I think that just in general huntings react to the vibe in the space you know and and that goes for the living and the dead. I wanna give listeners kind of the vibe of the house. Because i experienced the gamut there i experienced that kind of positive moment and the negative moments. I'm just wondering if you could pass on some of those. Oh man over fifteen years of being in this place. I've seen you know just the normal footsteps store opening closing there for like a month. There's a lot of poltergeist activity of things stacking and arranging which is odd because nobody lives there at all empty place. I've seen the positive. I've seen the negative one of the most profound things that i've ever experienced friday night. The overnights cans told for whatever reason. So i thought i'm just going to go in victims some things in the upstairs bedroom. Lock the kitchen doors. Nobody could walk in. And as i'm up there somebody walks in the house. And i'm like people were closed like well obviously idiot. They broke in the. You know because it's like nighttime. And i thought they have no idea. I'm upstairs so i'm going to have fun with this. In a heightened. The kids room closet must plan. Was this scare this kid. Jump out you know and just do the y you break in if you wanna see l. Just show it to you so the walking around downstairs for like ten minutes. That comes upstairs into the room. I man kicked the closet door open. Do the big blah. Nothing there was nothing. And i couldn't even move. I couldn't talk. The i always heard you know. Oh i felt a rush of cold air. I thought yeah. Everybody says that. I've never experienced at that time. I did check the whole house. The door was locked watcher surveillance video. There is nothing. Wow and i've seen a lot of like a amityville quality of the house of mental manipulation. And i've experienced that in there to where especially in the downstairs bedroom. Einon lena's room where you just kinda zone and owl and pretty soon. You're just like out of it. You go out of the house and you know second hour or two later like start coming back to normal and that's a that's a very scary part of the house for me. I know what it can do. So i don't push it anymore. This episode of laura was written and produced by me. Erin monkey with research by sam alberdi and music by chad lawson. Lor is much more than just a podcast. There's a book series available in bookstores and online and two seasons of television show on amazon prime video. Check them both out. If you want more laura in your life. I also make an executive produce a whole bunch of other podcasts. All of which. I think you'd enjoy my production company grim and mild specializes in shows that. Sit at the intersection of dark and the historical. You can learn more about all of our shows and everything else going on over in one central place grim and mild dot com and you can follow this show on twitter facebook and instagram. Just search for lor podcast. All one word and then click that follow button and when you do say hi i like it when people say hi and as always thanks for listening.

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