"Death is no more than passing from one room into another." – HELEN KELLER

Gran Hotel Viena

Ghost Hunters International is back on Jan. 6th with an all new investigation. This time the team heads to the Gran Hotel Viena in Miramar, Argentina. The history of this structure begins with a German named Max Pahlke in 1904. They traveled to Argentina in search of work. Max met and married an Austrian woman named Melita in Uruguay about ten years later. The couple had two children, Max Jr. and Ingrid.

His wife Melita suffered from bad asthma and his son Max dealt with psoriasis. Seeking relief from their ailments in Europe was rather dangerous due to World War II. Doctors suggested they visit Laguna de Mar Chiquita due to their curative baths and mud applications. The family took a trip to this location in 1938 and stayed a couple of weeks. They participated in healing treatments, balneotherapy, and mud therapy. After returning to Buenos Aires, that winter, Max noticed an improvement in his wife and son's health.

Max was in good economic standing due to being the CEO of Mannesmann company and decided to invest in Miramar. Thus began constructing, done by a German company, the first of several stages of the 5-star luxurious Grand Hotel Vienna, named after his wife's home country, in 1940. The hotel contained 84 rooms, a medical facility equipped with doctors, nurses and massage therapists, a library, bank, dining room that sits 200, granite floors, walls lined with Carrara marble, bronze chandeliers, wine cellar, slaughterhouse, bakery, only hotel with air conditioning and heating system in each facility, a large pool divided in to saltwater and freshwater (that is if you didn't want to visit the lagoon), electricity generating plant, garages with their own fuel supply and food warehouse. It was completed in December 1945.

Argentina declared war on Germany 10 days before it surrendered. Because of the victory, Max was asked to leave his position in the Mannesmann Company. This along with several cases of abuse associated by the employees of the hotel forced Max to close down the hotel and move his family in March of 1946.

After Pahlke's departure, the hotel continued to be under his ownership. Max Jr. continued treatments there until 1963 when his parents mutually agreed to reopen the hotel. Max Jr. or Dr. Pahlke refurbished and added on to the hotel with Dr. Koloman Kolomi Geraldini as service and administration manager. It remained opened that is until the mid 1980s after a series of floods damaged the Grand Hotel Vienna along with other parts of the village. Since then, the waters have receded, exposing the hotel and other buildings that weren't demolished before the flood. The Pahlke family are currently in the legal process of reclaiming the hotel.

It is allegedly haunted by flood victims, and a former caregiver.

GS Question of the Week

What are your Anti-Resolutions for the year 2010?

Reminder Sunday

You have 9 days to submit to the Ghost Stories Carnival January edition. Your submission must be in by 11 pm Central. Pick your best post between December 2nd and January 4th and submit it. No registration required. Must be paranormal related.

Lemp Mansion

I kick myself for not taking the chance to visit the wonderful place when I had the chance. My dad lived in St. Louis, MO and I often visited him during the summers. If only I had developed my taste for the paranormal as a teenager, I could have seen this structure up close. Lemp Mansion is certainly a Victorian showplace displaying the rise and tragic fall of a brewery dynasty.

Johanne Adam Lemp traveled to St. Louis from Eschwege, Germany. He sought his fortune as a grocer, providing one unique item no other store contained - lager beer. Lemp used his father's recipe and the natural cave system under St. Louis to accommodate his customers demands until abandoning the grocery business two years later and building a modest brewery. His dreams of fortune came true. John Adam Lemp died a millionaire on August 25, 1862.

William J. Lemp succeeded his father, taking the family business and building it in to an industrial giant. Lemp Mansion was built in 1868 by William's father-in-law Jacob Feickert, a short distance from the brewery. William purchased it as a residency and auxiliary brewery office. He used his massive fortune to transform his new home with radiator system, thirty-three rooms, open-air lift, and Italian marble mantle piece. The parlor contains hand-painted ceiling and intricately carved mantles of African mahogany. Behind the parlor is an atrium where they kept exotic plants and birds. At the rear of the house are three massive vaults that the Lemps built to store great quantities of art objects. Each vault is fifteen feet wide, twenty-five feet deep, and thirteen feet high. The bedrooms were located on the second floor. The servants' quarters were on the third floor featured with cedar walk-in closets, a skylight and an observation deck. The Lemps built an auditorium, ballroom, bowling alley and swimming pool in a natural underground cavern that could be reached from a now-sealed tunnel in the basement. Another tunnel led from the house to the brewery.

This great success came with tragedy. William's favorite son and heir to the brewery presidency, Frederick Lemp died from heart failure in 1901 at the age of 28. William was never the same. He withdrew from the public. His mental and physical health declined until he committed suicide shooting himself in the head in a bedroom at Lemp Mansion on February 13, 1904. William J. Lemp, Jr. succeeded his father as president. He and his wife Lillian (known as the "Lavender Lady" because of her fondness of the color) moved in and began spending vast amounts of money. Will grew tired of his "trophy wife" and occupied his time with other young women. These shenanigans led him to sire a son with a woman other than his wife. No records exist documenting this boy's life but rumors say he did exist and lived in the basement. Supposedly he was born with Down's Syndrome and was seen as a total embarrassment to the family. He was hidden away so no one would uncover Will's "shame". The boy died at the mansion in his 30s.

The brewery's success continued to decline due to competition and Will's lack of keeping up with industry's innovations until Prohibition closed the plant's doors forever in 1919. William Jr.'s sister Elsa committed suicide in 1920 despondent over her rocky marriage. Two years later on June 28th, Lemp Brewery once valued at $7 million was sold at auction for $588,500. Most of the company's assets were liquidated but the Lemp family held a morbid attachment to the mansion. William J. Lemp Jr. shot himself within the same walls as his father eighteen years prior on December 29, 1922. His son, William Lemp III died of a heart attack in 1943 at the age of forty-two.

William Jr.'s brother Charles continued to live in the house developing a morbid fear of germs until he succumbed to a self-inflicted gunshot wound on May 10, 1949 after killing his beloved Doberman Pinscher in the basement. His brother Edwin walked away from his family's tragic life in 1913. As the last living Lemp, he lived a quiet reclusive life until dying of natural causes at the age of ninety in 1970. His last wishes were to burn all of the family's prized artwork, documents and artifacts perhaps as a means to put an end to his family's curse once and for all. The mansion was transformed in to a boarding house. However, it's now reputation as one of the ten most haunted places in America left the boarding house without many tenants. It soon fell in to disrepair until the Pointer family purchased it in 1975 and renovated the mansion in to a restaurant and inn.

Lemp Mansion has seen more than it's share of paranormal activity. Witness reports include ghostly knocks, footsteps, apparitions, voices, lights turning on and off by themselves, doors lock and unlock, and the piano plays when no one is near it. Three areas in the house, the attic, basement and cavern also known as the "Gateway to Hell" by staff members, are believed to be the most active. The attic that once housed the William Jr.'s illegitimate son also known as the "Monkey Face boy" is now haunted by him. Many from the street claimed to have seen him peeking from a window. Investigators who left toys in the room would return to find them moved.

William Jr. is believed to be haunting his beloved downstairs bathroom, now used as a ladies room. Many women have reported a man peeking over the stall when no living man was even in there. In William Sr.'s bedroom, guests have reported hearing running up the stairs and kicking on the door. When he committed suicide, William Jr. ran up the stairs and attempted to kick the door down when he found it locked. The sounds of horses have been heard outside of what use to be William Sr.'s office. Even the "Lavender Lady" and Charles have been seen on occasion. Ghost hunters all over the country have flocked to this location. Extreme Paranormal via Ghost Lab will follow in their footsteps on the TV show's season finale.
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Christmas Traditions: Fact or Myth?

Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas Carols between 1649 and 1660 in England. He thought that Christmas should be a very solemn day and therefore banned carols and parties. The only celebration was by a sermon and a prayer service.

Myth: Rudolph lived with Santa at the North Pole and was one of his original reindeer. Actually Rudolph was discovered by Santa while he was making his Christmas delivery to his home. The story of Rudolph was written in 1939 by Robert May, an advertising copywriter for Montgomery Ward in Chicago for promotional reasons.

Fact: Some priests in Australia advise you to say "Happy Christmas", not "Merry Christmas", because Merry has connotations of getting drunk.

Myth: The candy cane is said to have its roots in Christianity. I list this as a myth because not all believe the candy cane's origins was religious in nature. Supposedly in England, a Christian candy maker invented a way for members of the Christian community to recognize each other. He is said to have shaped the candy in the form of a shepherds staff to symbolize that God in Heaven is the "Good Shepherd." He used white candy to represent purity. On the staff, he than placed three small red stripes to represent the presence of the Trinity. A bold red stripe was placed throughout the candy representing the blood of Christ and its redeeming power. Of course, this all depends on your personal beliefs.

Fact: St Francis of Assisi introduced Christmas Carols to formal church services.

Myth: All of Santa's reindeer are female. Despite many who believe only female reindeer would be able to pull a fat jolly elf around the world and know where the heck they were going, the laws of nature say otherwise. Most - and I do say most - reindeer loose their antlers by winter while females retain theirs well in to Spring. Santa's reindeer are all depicted with their antlers. In conclusion, some of them have to be male as well.

Fact: The soft drink company Coca-Cola invented our modern image of Santa Claus in the 1930s.

Myth: Jesus Christ was born on December 25th. The actual birthday of Jesus Christ still has experts scratching their heads. Some believe Christ was conceived on March 25th. Therefore, logically, he could have been born on Christmas. But truth is, no one really knows for sure...yet.

Fact: Alabama was the first state in the USA to declare Christmas a legal holiday in 1836 and Oklahoma was the last, 1907.

Myth: The number of suicides rise during the holiday season. Statistics show the suicide rate doesn't increase during the holidays. However, the media continues to perpetuate that it is, something that may cause more harm than good. This myth has been around, and was possibly started in the 1946 holiday film It's a Wonderful Life, when a fictional character contemplated suicide on Christmas Eve.

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Ye Kendall Inn

The land in which this is national historic landmark sits upon was sold to Erastus and Sarah Reed, who left Georgia for Texas, on April 23,1859 by John James for $200. The couple built the center portion of the inn bringing the Southern Colonial architectural style to the Texas Hill Country. During these days, there were no hotels available to travelers, leaving them at the mercy of homeowners willing to share their spare rooms. The Reeds were the first to begin this hotel tradition, offering four rooms for those traveling through Texas Hill Country. Ranchers used the surrounding grounds as a wagon yard and penned their cattle in what is now the cities main plaza. The Old Reed House was also Boerne's stagecoach stop.

It's hotel traditions wouldn't end with the Reeds. In 1878, C. J. Roundtree and W. L. Wadsworth bought, expanded the building to accommodate visitors attracted to the healthy climate and gave it the new name of The Boerne Hotel. However it was owner Dr. H. J. Barnitz who adopted the name Ye Kendall Inn about thirty years later. It has given shelter to many famous people including Jefferson Davis, President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Robert E. Lee. The nine-acre property features airy porches, fully restored cottages, a 19th Century chapel converted in to a bridal suite, spa services, tavern and 36 guest rooms, suites and cottages. There is also a partial filled underground tunnel which connects the inn to the Boerne Public Library, a building which was owned by Joseph Dienger and operated as a general store in the past. This tunnel along with the 22-inch-thick hand-cut limestone walls has left many to believe Ye Kendall Inn may be haunted.

The lobby is thought to be one of the most active areas. A sign flew off the wall and across the room and cracked. Horses and carriage has been heard around the front desk. Phones are screwy for unknown reasons. Lights flicker. Some people have reported being touched by unseen hands. In the Marcella Booth (still alive and living in Boerne I believe) Room, there is a story about a body imprint on the bed. Maids, while making the bed, smooth out the covers. Upon leaving, the bed spread rumples in the shape of a person. Footsteps and feelings of uneasiness are reported in the cellar. Doors open/slam shut and door knobs rattle on their own.

Some believe both Sarah and Erastus haunt the location. Sarah is described as being a playful spirit (possibly the culprit who threw the sign) and Erastus is thought to be more "evil" of a presence by some. A chandelier has fallen, shattering on the floor, nearly miss hitting people. The third hotel owner, Harry King, was killed in a hunting accident and is seen walking across the courtyard or sitting at his favorite table in the restaurant wearing a top hat. A woman in a long white dress, believed to be Sarah, is also seen wandering the grounds. The claw-foot bathtub in The Victoria Room mysteriously fills itself while guest sleeps. They claim to never hear the water running.
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GS Question of the Week

Was Jesus Christ really born on December 25th?

Spook The Truth Winner

A number was pulled from the virtual hat. The winner is....Commenter Number 1, Susie! Thanks for all those who entered.

The Ghosts of Lone Jack - Review

Spinning Moon Press, April 2009
Paperback, 255 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-9800369-0-9
Tweens 12 and up
Author Interview
Ordering Information: | Time Bandit Books

What do you get when you mix a piece of American history, ghosts and children? The Ghosts of Lone Jack By: Lance Lee Noel.

Jared Milhouse spends what seems like a quiet summer at his grandfather’s farm in Lone Jack, Missouri. A chance encounter with a female spirit during the tail end of a baseball game changes his life forever. With the aid of his acquired new friends of the Crossroads Club, his dad, grandfather, two town eccentrics and a couple of amateur ghost hunters, he explores the story of one of the bloodiest battles in the Civil War and looks for the key to release the town from a decades old curse.

The Battle of Lone Jack was a very real conflict that took place on August 16, 1862. This being one of the most appealing aspects of this story. Another being the actual battlefield is reportedly haunted: phantom campfires, smells, voices and apparitions of Union/Rebel soldiers. I admire the author’s intentions with this novel. Use a real piece of history within a fictional plot as a teaching tool for kids. I liked the story premise. The protagonist, Jared, is a character kids can relate to. I think one of the major problems I had with it was the story structure. It could be a lot tighter than it is. It starts off a little slow. The descriptions are a little hit or miss at times. Slows the pacing of the story. When some of the characters go in to details about the battle, the regional dialect tends to get lost at times. I want to hear the story but have it sound like it’s actually coming from that character and not a historian.

Another problem is all the point of view transitions. The big action scene towards the end is all over the place. Definitely on the verge of confusion. One or two point of views would have been better than like five. Then there were the rookie mistakes: spelling, grammar, scene blocking, etc. All of which should have been taken care of during the editing phase. I think if the author took a bit more time with editing he could have made it so much better. The Battle of Lone Jack is a story worth telling but how you tell it is just as important, especially in this case as some of the proceeds are being donated to the Lone Jack Civil War Battlefield, Museum & Soldier’s Cemetery.

All in all, this is a book worth the purchase. Perhaps not written in the best of the author’s ability. But one kids will enjoy for the fruits of a ghost story and a history lesson blended together for their entertainment.

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