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

GS Question of the Week

Why do you think dolls are common haunted objects?

The Ghost Detective Review

Stay Thirsty Media, Inc, June 11, 2010
Kindle, approximately 340 pages
Ordering Information:
Amazon.com

In the closing months of the 20th century, James McParland arrives in Boston to seek redemption. One hundred years earlier, he had joined The Pinkerton Agency and had quickly become its top detective—a man so feared by his opponents that they often committed suicide rather than fall into his hands.

Although dead for more than eighty years, McParland’s reputation as “The Great Detective” preceded him as he reappears determined to earn eternal peace by helping the souls of those he tormented in life whose ghosts still walk among the living.

Thomas Lowenstein took his passion for turning a wrong in to a right and translated it into his debut novel, The Ghost Detective. I see a lot of promise in this writer. The novel skips around between POVs and time periods, but not so much the reader gets confused or lost. The characters were drawn out. The premise is rather interesting. A long dead detective uses his investigative skills to help lost souls finish their unfinished business so they can move on from purgatory. The novel itself is rather well written.

However, the descriptions tended to drown the story in certain places. On occasion, the dialogue was a bit stiff. Tags were used when not needed. No breaks to indicate POV shifts in mid-chapter. Character's thoughts don't stand out among other sentences. I think each has a way of taking away from the story, but I believe this author has a good career ahead of him.

I would recommend this book, even more so since 50 cents from the sale of every digital copy of The Ghost Detective, payable by the author and the publisher, goes to the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to the release of those wrongly imprisoned for a crime they did not commit.

The Victoria Hotel

In 1887, John Mckleroy was a partner in the Anniston Land Company, Confederate Veteran, State School Superintendent and a candidate for governor twice. He chose the highest hill on Quintard Avenue to build his home. The Victoria was built in 1888. Mckleroy died in 1894 and his widow continued to occupy the home. That is until William, her son and mayor of Anniston, moved her out while she was on vacation in Florida. He died six months later. The McKleroy family occupied the home for 25 years.

In 1920, William McKleroy’s widow sold the house at public auction to William Coleman Wilson. Wilson was president of the Emory Foundry Company. The business produced Anniston's most prominent product, cast-iron pipe. The Wilsons occupied the residence until 1949. Frank and Robbie Kirby became the third owners and last full-time residents. Mr. Kirby was the founder and president of Anniston Electric Company. Mrs. Kirby was a leading musician in the community and entertained guests in what is now know as the Victoria Lounge. After their deaths, the Kirby estate went into a trust for their sisters, the Methodist Church and the Children’s Methodist Home. A realtor contacted them with a creative idea, turning the mansion into a country inn. They loved the idea and sold the estate to a South Carolina developer in 1984. Anniston architect Julian Jenkins and contractor Earlon McWhorter designed and restored this Southern home.

The McKleroy Guestroom is the most Victorian of the main house’s bedrooms. It features antiques from the 1890’s when Anniston was a boom town, an iron mantle made in one of Anniston’s foundries,and a jetted claw-foot tub. The Wilson Suite is the largest of the bedrooms within the main house. It features the middle portion of the three-story turret and a half-canopied bed as well as an iron mantle painted to look like marble. The Kirby Suite displays the chintz and colors popular again today and includes a “modernized” bath and a closet once used as a dollhouse for visiting nieces. The restoration for Alabama’s first Country Inn took approximately two years. Because Anniston needed hotel rooms, the annex additions to the main house were creating twenty-six rooms in 1986 and eighteen in 1988. In 1996 McWhorter completed the final phase of The Victoria with an addition of twelve guest rooms. The Victoria has sixty rooms and a fine-dining restaurant, which can seat up to one hundred people.

In January 2009, McWhorter donated The Victoria to Jacksonville Stated University Foundation. The Foundation has contracted with Jackson Hospitality Services to manage the hotel. Future plans include using the hotel and restaurant as a teaching facility for JSU students going into the hospitality field.

The restaurant and hotel is believed to be haunted by at least one active spirit. Footsteps are heard coming from spots in the house where no one is found. Music emanates from the piano lounge when no one is in the room. The piano has even been seen playing on its own. Witnesses have reported seeing a female apparition on the upstairs landing. The sound of glasses clinking together has been heard behind the bar by staff and a few guest.

No one knows for certain who the spirit or spirits are haunting the property. However, The Victoria is good for a little fine dining, good entertainment, and maybe a ghost or two.

Rose Island

An 18.5-acre island in Narragansett Bay off Newport, Rhode Island, Rose Island allegedly received its name due to appearing like the shape of a rose at low tide. Fortifications were constructed during the American Revolution on island due to its strategic location at the entrance to Newport Harbor. British and colonial soldiers alike used the island to defend Newport. From 1798 to 1800, the U.S. government began constructing Fort Hamilton but never finished it.

The U.S. Navy stored explosives during World Wars I and II as part of the Navy Torpedo Station on Rose Island. The government stopped using the land after World War II (except for the lighthouse) and declared it government surplus. Today, the only inhabitants of the Torpedo Station are three species of snakes, plus thousands of nesting birds that are protected by the State. The stone barracks from the fort still remain. Many of these buildings are in danger of collapsing and is considered unsafe for visitors to explore in or around them.

Designed and built in 1879 by Vermont architect, the Rose Island Lighthouse served as an aid to navigation for a century. It stands atop Fort Hamilton’s former South Battery on the southwestern point of the island, replacing a private light maintained by the Bristol Steam Boat Company. A brick oil house was added to the station in 1912 along with a brick fog signal building that was placed on a rock just west of and below the lighthouse. Lighthouse keepers were not paid well. They sometimes had to develop creative ways to feed their families, growing crops and caring for farm animals who sometimes wandered from the lighthouse grounds into the military compound, much to the officers’ annoyance. Keepers also battled rough weather conditions.

The Rose Island Lighthouse narrowly avoided destruction on August 7, 1958 when two tankers collided in heavy fog near Fort Adams and burst into flames. The Graham floated dangerously close the lighthouse, forcing the keepers to flee from the intense heat. However, the tide and wind turned and took the ship away from the lighthouse. Eighteen men from the two ships were killed in the incident.

It was abandoned as a functioning lighthouse in 1970 and vandalized after the Newport Bridge was built nearby. In 1984, the Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation was founded to restore the dilapidated light on behalf of the City of Newport who received it for free from the United States government. Today, visitors can spend a night as a guest or a week as the "lighthouse keeper," completing many of the chores required to keep the lighthouse in good condition for a fee.

It is believed the island does not only hold the ruins of its military influence. Newport was known for its epidemics of diseases such as influenza, smallpox, and cholera. The Fort Hamilton barracks were used as a quarantine station during a 1823 outbreak of cholera. Victims of these epidemics along with military men who died in Newport are believed to inhabit a number of unmarked mass graves. In the late 1800s, witnesses reported "ghouls" stealing bodies from the island in the name of medical research. However, today, no one knows where these bodies are located. But one old military cemetery was uncovered in 1938 during construction of a water tower. Several human skeletons were found wearing Civil War-era clothing along with various artifacts. The remains and artifacts were placed in a large metal box and reburied in an unknown location on the island. Could such stories aid to Rose Island's haunted status?

Guests have reported hearing disembodied voices, witnessing doors slam before their eyes, and having unexplainable feelings of depression. One ghost rumored to dwell in the lighthouse is Keeper Charles S. Curtis who served thirty-one years (1887 - 1918) at Rose Island. Overnight guests claim to have heard him walk down the stairs at midnight, as was his custom in life, and make a thorough inspection of the facility. He often makes a brief stop in the kitchen before returning upstairs. Curtis' grandson, Wanton Chase, was sent to live with his grandparents on the island in hopes the salty air would improve his health. Years later, Chase was instrumental in restoring the lighthouse to its former 1912 self. This included assembling an antique kitchen wood stove from memory. Unfortunately, the keeper at the time managed to put the stove together before his arrival. When Chase stood before the stove, he saw something he wasn't expecting, the ghostly image of his dead grandmother Christina Curtis. This was followed by the smell of sugar cookies.

GS Question of the Week

Why do you think gargoyles and grotesques are placed on Gothic cathedrals and buildings?

Angkor Wat Temple

From Angkor the Khmer kings ruled over a vast domain that reached from Vietnam to China to the Bay of Bengal. The temples of Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia were built by the Khmer civilization between 802 and 1220 AD, and represents one of humankind's most astonishing and enduring architectural achievements. More than 100 stone temples still stands today, and are the surviving remains of a grand religious, social and administrative metropolis.

Angkor Wat was built by Suryavaram II, and honors the Hindu god Vishnu. Angkor Wat combines two basic plans of Khmer temple architecture: the temple mountain and the galleried temple, based on early South Indian Hindu architecture. It is designed to represent Mount Meru, home of the devas in Hindu mythology. The temple is situated within a moat and an outer wall. 2.2 miles long are three rectangular galleries, each raised above the next. At the centre of the temple stands a quincunx (geometric pattern consisting of five coplanar points) of towers. The stones, as smooth as polished marble, were laid without mortar with very tight joints which were sometimes hard to find. The blocks were held together by mortise and tenon joints in some cases, while in others they used dovetails and gravity. The blocks were presumably put in place by a combination of elephants, coir ropes, pulleys and bamboo scaffolding.

At the temple of Phnom Bakheng there are 108 surrounding towers. The number 108 is considered sacred in both Hindu and Buddhist cosmologies as it is the sum of 72 plus 36 (36 being ½ of 72). Another mysterious fact about the Angkor complex is its location 72 degrees of longitude east of the Pyramids of Giza. The temples of Bakong, Prah Ko and Prei Monli at Roluos, south of the main Angkor complex, are situated in relation to each other in such a way that they mirror the three stars in the Corona Borealis as they appeared at dawn on the spring equinox in 10,500 BC. It is interesting to note that the Corona Borealis would not have been visible from these temples during the time period in which they were constructed.

Unlike other temples at Angkor, Ta Prohm has been left as it was found. Ta Prohm's walls, roofs, chambers and courtyards have been sufficiently repaired to stop further deterioration, and the inner sanctuary has been cleared of bushes and thick undergrowth. Built in the later part of the 12th century by Jayavarman VII, Ta Prohm is the terrestrial counterpart of the star Eta Draconis the Draco constellation.
In 1177, approximately 27 years after the death of Suryavarman II, Angkor was sacked by the Chams, the traditional enemies of the Khmer. In the late 13th century, King Jayavarman VIII, who was Hindu, was deposed by his son in law, Srindravarman who spent the previous 10 years in Sri Lanka becoming ordained as a Buddhist monk. Hence, the new King decided to convert the official religion of the empire from Hindu to Buddhist. Since Buddha was Hindu from birth to death and divisions between both the faiths appeared seamless, citizens were quick to follow a faith founded on tranquility without a need for material gain and power.
During half-millennia of Khmer occupation, the city of Angkor became a pilgrimage destination of importance throughout Southeastern Asia. Sacked by the Thais in 1431 and abandoned in 1432, Angkor was forgotten for a few centuries. Wandering Buddhist monks, passing through the dense jungles, occasionally came upon the awesome ruins. Recognizing the sacred nature of the temples but ignorant of their origins, they invented fables about the mysterious sanctuaries, saying they had been built by the gods in a far ancient time. Centuries passed, these fables became legends, and pilgrims from the distant reaches of Asia sought out the mystic city of the gods. One of the first Western visitors to the temple was Antonio da Magdalena, a Portuguese monk who visited in 1586 and said that it "is of such extraordinary construction that it is not possible to describe it with a pen, particularly since it is like no other building in the world. It has towers and decorations and all the refinements which the human genius can conceive of".
However, most people continued to believe the stories to be nothing more than legend. That is until the French explorer Henri Mouhot brought Angkor to the world's attention in 1860. The French people were enchanted with the ancient city and beginning in 1908 funded and superbly managed an extensive restoration project. Work was interrupted by the civil war and Khmer Rouge control of the country during the 1970s and 1980s, but relatively little damage was done during this period other than the theft and destruction of mostly post-Angkorian statues. Restoration efforts still continue to this day.
Angkor Wat Temple has its place among pop culture as well. During the midst of the Vietnam War, Chief of State Norodom Sihanouk hosted Jacqueline Kennedy in Cambodia to fulfill her "lifelong dream of seeing Angkor Wat". In January 2003 riots erupted in Phnom Penh when a false rumor circulated that a Thai soap opera actress had claimed that Angkor Wat belonged to Thailand. Scenes from the Tomb Raider series were also filmed there. Recently, Josh Gates and the Destination Truth crew performed the first paranormal investigation of Angkor Wat.
This beautiful, ornate temple is a place that has long been associated with spirits. It was believed to be a funerary temple. Locals don't enter into it at night very often. Therefore, it’s never been filmed at night before, providing an excellent location for Josh and his crew. People say they see strange lights, hear strange noises, and have encounters with violent apparitions.

Colonial Inn

The history of the Colonial Inn extends three century. The original house was built in 1716 as a private residence for the Minot family in Concord, Massachusetts. Captain John Minot was a soldier and physician. It served an important purpose during the Revolutionary War.

One of the inn's original buildings was used as a storehouse for arms and provisions in 1775. The British attempted to seize and destroy the town militia's supplies. However, the met the Minutemen on North Bridge on April 19th. This became the first battle in the Revolutionary War known as battle of Lexington and Concord. Owner Dr. Timothy Minot, also a physician tended to the wounded from the battle. In 1889, the Minot house along with two nineteenth-century buildings became an inn.

Parts of the establishment were used as variety store and the town's center of commerce during the first half of the nineteenth century. It was also used as a residence. Henry David Thoreau and his family moved in to the inn in the early 1800s. His grandfather owned one of the houses that now make up the inn. Thoreau occupied the property between 1835 and 1837 while attending Harvard. Beginning in the mid 1800s, the building served as a boarding house and then a small hotel, named the Thoreau House after Henry's aunts, the "Thoreau Girls." It wasn't renamed Concord's Colonial Inn until 1900. German Hotelier Jurgen Demisch bought the property in 1988 and put it through a transformation, taking its historical background and combining it with modern services. The Colonial Inn has seen its share of famous guests including Franklin D. Roosevelt, Shirley Temple and Steve Martin. However, some believe guests and soldiers never checked out.

One room in the inn is reported to hold most of the paranormal cards. Room 24 is in the oldest part of the inn. It was room in the original Minot residence and also was used as makeshift morgue during the Revolutionary War. Those who have stayed in the room have witnessed a variety of activity. The first reportedly haunted happening in the haunted room took place in 1966, when a woman on her honeymoon was awakened by a gray, shadowy figure appeared a few feet from the edge of the bed. Other guests since have told tales of strange sensations, voices, dreams, door open and close, and apparitions of two bloodied soldiers in the middle of the night. A woman in blue is seen in the Merchant's Row Restaurant. Another woman is seen descending down the stairs. Footsteps have been heard coming from that area as well. These are among various other claims experienced throughout the inn.

No one knows for sure who the apparitions are but there are several candidates. Some speculate that Room 24 is haunted by soldiers who died under Dr. Minot's care, or perhaps the spirit is Dr. Minot. But others have described a woman, wearing Native American dress. It might also be members of Henry David Thoreau's family. Whoever they may be, the ghosts have always been described as friendly. If you ever find yourself in Concord, Massachusetts, stop by the Colonial Inn and be sure to request Room 24.

GS Question of the Week

Ghost Hunters Trivia: Who was the tech specialist in Season 1?

Beast Legends

Take Josh Gates 5 or 6 minute case assessment, tack on a short film and you get Beast Legends. You would think a group of experts would use their time and knowledge to separate fact from fiction. However, in this little gem, they explore the legend. Put a more visual take on the legendary creatures and the stories behind them to give you an idea of what people oh so long ago may have seen and experience. They take all the evidence they collect from observing actual animals and conducting experiments and use them to digitally bring the legend alive in a 5-minute film.

It doesn't matter the details of the legend were probably exaggerated by drunken sailors. It doesn't matter that giant, colossal squid octopi hybrids most likely don't exist and never did. We can spend an entire hour each week watching them put together horror shorts using legendary beasts. I'm still trying to figure out why I should care enough to waste an hour watching this every Thursday. If I want to see a creature feature, I'll turn on ChillerTV.

Shippen Manor

Shippen Manor was built between 1760 to 1765 for Dr. William Shippen II and his brother Joseph Shippen II in Oxford, New Jersey. The Shippens family were a wealthy, prominent Philadelphia family. The Manor is Georgian style, constructed with two-foot thick stone walls, and three chimneys. The ground floor consisted of six rooms with two bed chambers and four garret rooms upstairs. Dr. Shippen was a self taught physician and a member of the Continental Congress who had the privilege of attending to Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, George Washington, and Generals Gage, Howe, and Lafayette.

William’s son Joseph W. Shippen began managing the property in the early 1760s. He acquired the housekeeping services of Martha Axford. During her “housekeeping” time in the house, the two had seven children. However, no documentation has been found to provide proof of marriage between Joseph and Martha. He died in 1795 without a will. His father moved in the Manor to overseen furnace operations and manages his son’s estate. Despite not approving of the relationship, William II was rather fond of his grandchildren. His grandson was the personal secretary of Thomas Jefferson. Martha died a few years later. William II owned the Manor until his death in 1801.

The Robeson Study is named for Morris Robeson, grandson of Jonathan Robeson, who acquired part interest in the property in 1808. His grandfather built the original Oxford Furnace in 1741. Robeson died in 1823. His family continued to own the property after his death, leasing the furnace to several individuals and companies. Henry and Jordan Company leased the property in 1832. He hired Selden T. Scranton, George Scranton and Charles Scranton. The Scrantons ensured the longevity of the Oxford Furnace. Selden married William Henry’s daughter, Ellen, in 1839 and Charles married another daughter, Jane, in 1847. Selden and George bought the furnace tract from the Robesons. The Scranton Parlor was originally two rooms. A stone wall divided the two rooms until it was remodeled in 1850. In 1935 the Warren Foundry & Pipe Co. donated the Furnace to the State.

It served as the corporate headquarters for Oxford Furnace, one of the first producers of iron ore. It remained in either private or corporate hands until 1974 when the State of New Jersey purchased the property. However, it was left to deteriorate until 1984 due to lack of funding for restoration. The Shippen Manor Museum opened in 1995, after the house was restored, and is furnished in colonial and Victorian periods.

Some activity includes uncatalogued items appearing on cupboard shelves and doors opening the wrong direction. The doors at the back of the manor of period door latches and knobs, and one door in particular only opens from the inside. The spirit of a soldier has been seen in the reception area as well as the door tends to open and close on its own. In the dining room, a little boy in period clothing has been witnessed by staff and visitors. Witnesses have reported seeing a female spirit in blue attire and hair in a bun in the Victorian Parlor.

GS Question of the Week

In what year was the term "crop circle" inducted in to the Oxford Dictionary?

Bedtime Stories

Bedtime Stories by: Chris Triplet (Rose Dog Books) contains four short stories of a supernatural nature. From ghosts to witches to demonic possession, the human spirit is challenged to overcome obstacles with faith and sacrifice.

In “The Covered Bridge,” faith is pitted against an evil presence which must be exorcised by five brave souls.

In “The Campfire,” two men come upon a site that defies the fabric of nature.

In “The Witch,” a man is willing to sacrifice his soul to save his wife from a vengeful demon.

In “The House of Echoes,” a woman and her three children stand together against the spirits that surround them.

Based in Spain and Mexico, these accounts were handed down as ghost stories from mother to children to not only entertain but to share family history. To make it even more of a family affair, the author's sister Barbara Book provided the cover art.

About the Author

Chris Triplet was born and raised in Monroe, Louisiana. His father’s family emigrated from Ireland in the mid-nineteenth century, and his mother’s family came from Spain in the early part of the twentieth century.

One of six children, he grew up reading science fiction - something his father introduced him to. With a large book collection, Chris now enjoys all variety of fiction. After school, he worked many diverse jobs, which led him to Decatur, Illinois, where he now works at a local bank.

You can find Chris at his blog Bedtime Stories/The Forgiving Heart or his Facebook page.

The Lyric Theater

Prior to the American Civil War, Tupelo, Mississippi was known as Gum Pond due to the numerous black gum trees in the area. It was later renamed in honor of the Battle of Tupelo. You may recognize the name thanks to a little singer named Elvis Presley who was born in East Tupelo in 1935. While several notable names can be linked to the city, there are just as many legends. Paranormal investigators believe much of the city is haunted. One particular location may have a 1930s tornado to thank for their alleged haunted status.

Mr. R. F. Goodlett secured enough funds and The Comos was built in 1912. The Comos, as the Lyric Theater was originally named, was designed as a vaudeville theater and included space for several commercial offices. The Lyric remained a home for live productions until the 1930's, when it became a part of the M.A. Lightman Company (Malco) chain of movie houses, acquiring its now-familiar marquee and Art Deco appearance. A persistent rumor dictates Elvis’ first kiss was stolen in the balcony of the Lyric. However, the theater's sturdy brick walls were truly tested on April 5, 1936. A massive tornado swept through, leveling much of the city. Being one of two buildings to survive this meteorological event, the Lyric was turned in to a makeshift hospital and mortuary. The dead and the dying were moved in to the building. Surgeries were performed by using the popcorn poppers to sterilize medical instruments and crawl spaces temporarily stored the dead. It's believed one of those victims still lingers. Theater staff named their ghost "Antoine" and accuse him of such minor offenses as stealing keys and humming to himself. He clomps around the theater in the wee hours, moving things around.

By 1984, the Lyric had outlived its usefulness as a movie theater and was facing likely abandonment and demolition. The Tupelo Community Theater snatched the Lyric away from the wrecker’s ball in the fall of 1984, and began work on renovations. With gifts and pledges that eventually totaled over $230,000, the Theatre’s friends rebuilt the stage, installed new theatrical lighting and sound systems, totally rewired the building, installed a new heating and air conditioning system, and, most visibly, spectacularly restored the lobby. The Lyric Theater is still in use to this day.
 
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