Friday Top 5: Ghosts of History

On this Halloween we are ending our month of October’s frightful Friday’s with these stories of ghosts from history. Whether you believe or not, these stories are all based on true events that took place in this country’s past and continue to be told due to the strong evidence supporting them. So enjoy this eerie read and have a happy Halloween.

1) The Greenbriar Ghost- Elva Zona Heaster (1897)

Zona was a woman who met a wandering man named Erasmus Stribbling Trout Shue, but was called Edward. They soon fell in love and married, despite Zona’s mother’s wishes. Within a year of their wedding, a boy went to the couple’s house on an errand and found Zona lying dead at the foot of the stairs. He ran home to his mother who called the local doctor but by the time he arrived on the scene, Edward had moved the body upstairs and washed and dressed her in a stiff-collared dress with a veil over her face. He stood at her head grieving loudly while the doctor inspected the body, but not thoroughly. Four weeks after her death, Zona’s mother claimed to have been visited by her four nights in a row. Zona told her mother that her husband had broken her neck when he believed she hadn’t cooked any meat for dinner. Eventually her body was exhumed and an autopsy performed which proved that her neck had been severely broken and that the cause of her death was a brutal attack. During the trial, her mother’s accounts of Zona’s ghostly visits were so diligently maintained that the judge could not tell the jury to disregard the stories, leading to the one and only case of a ghost’s testimony affecting a trial’s outcome. Edward spent the rest of his life in prison, where it became known that he had been married twice before; the first divorced him and claimed he was extremely cruel and the second had died less then a year after marriage of mysterious circumstances.

2) Kate Morgan, Hotel del Coronado (1892)

Remember the Hotel del Coronado from an earlier post? I neglected to mention that it is also haunted. Kate Morgan was married to a man in Iowa but after some years ran off with another and moved to Los Angeles and began working as a house maid. There she told people she was married to a gambler, however her husband was a mail carrier in Nebraska at the time of her death. She was found dead with a gunshot to the head (the bullet did not match her own gun) within five days of checking into the Hotel del Coronado under the name Charlotte “Lottie” Barnard, a woman from Detroit who vanished from the census after her “death.” The deceased was described as “the beautiful stranger,” however photographs of Kate never matched that of the body. No family went to identify the body either. Regardless, the mystery of Kate Morgan and is yet to be solved. And today, guests of the room she stayed in often complain of cold breezes and the television turning on and off.

3) The Bell Witch, Adams, TN (1817-present)

The story of the Bell Witch is actually the most famous haunting story of American history. It inspired The Blair Witch Project (1999) and books have been written about it over the centuries. It all started one day in 1817 when John Bell was out in his field when he spotted a dog sitting in the corn rows with a rabbit head. He shot, but it vanished. That night, sounds of people beating on the outside walls of the Bell’s home started, increasing each night. John’s sons often ran out to catch the culprits but always returned with nothing. Soon, covers were ripped off of sleeping people and many were slapped hard and frequently, leaving handprints on their faces. While the stories and witnesses of the entity’s actions grew significantly over time, General Andrew Jackson visited the Bell farm to see what the fuss was all about. He intended to stay two nights but his men begged to leave the first night after one of his men was beaten and kicked out the door by an invisible force. They left at some point during the night. When Bell’s daughter Betsy became engaged to Joshua, the witch tormented them to the point that Betsy broke off the engagement and the entity backed off. The witch was known to have intelligent conversations and even repeated word for word two sermons being spoken at the same time thirteen miles apart. After a time the witch turned her fury on John Bell until he died. She continued to visit his widow and son over the years, and predicted with incredible accuracy events of the civil war long before they happened. Today, candlelight is frequently seen in the fields around the Bell farm, photographs show strange images and voices are commonly heard.

4) The Legend of Myrtles Plantation, St. Francisville, LA (built 1796)

There are a number of stories of hauntings that surround this current day bed and breakfast, with purportedly ten murders that have taken place, although only one is proven. The most famous of ghosts would have to be Chloe; the slave who had her ear cut off after eavesdropping and poisoned her mistress and two daughters, then was hanged and thrown into the river. Many report to have seen Chloe in some form or another. The other is of the mistress and her daughters whose souls are possibly trapped inside the one mirror that was not covered per tradition at their death. Sometimes handprints are seen fogging up the mirror. Another is of a girl who died in 1868 after being treated with voodoo and occasionally her ghost will show itself in the room in which she died and will begin practicing voodoo. No matter what the story is though, Myrtles Plantation goes down as possibly the most haunted buildings in America, with twelve different ghost sightings throughout history. It was, incidentally, built on top of a Native American graveyard.

5) Toni Jo Henry, Calcasieu Parish Courthouse, LA (1942)

Toni Jo was a beautiful drug addict prostitute who met the love of her life, Cowboy, when he entered the brothel. They married, he helped her clean herself up, and they returned to Louisiana. However, he was soon arrested for killing a man in TX and was imprisoned back in his home state. Toni Jo immediately fell back to the streets where she met Arkie Burks, the man who would help her try to break her husband out. As the two hitchhiked their way to TX they tortured their driver and Toni Jo shot him between the eyes. Soon they were arrested and sentenced to death. After four appeals and three trials, Toni Jo was finally put to death as the first woman to sit in Old Sparky’s lap (she was electrocuted.) Today, a woman’s voice is often heard in the court where the execution took place and switches will suddenly be turned off. But the perhaps the most spooky of all is the sound of long, painful screams of a woman.

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