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

Villisca Ax Murder House

Villisca, Iowa was a close community in Iowa but everything changed on June 10, 1912 when the bodies of eight people were discovered. The Josiah B. Moore family and two overnight guests were founded murdered in their beds. Over 90 years later, the murders still remain unsolved.

What happened? All is known is that Sarah and Josiah B. Moore, their four kids Herman, Catherine, Boyd and Paul and two of their two friends Lena and Ina Stillinger walked home after a children's program at their Presbyterian Church at around 9:30 pm. The next day, a concerned neighbor Mary Peckham noticed the family was strangely quiet most of the day. She didn't see Moore leave for work. Sarah wasn't cooking breakfast or doing chores. No sounds of their children running and playing. She examined the house, looking for signs of life prior to calling Josiah B.'s brother, Ross.

When he arrived, he unlocked the door with his set of keys and along with Mary, began searching for the family. When he discovered the bodies of Ina and Lena, he told Mary to call the Sheriff. The rest of the Moore family were found upstairs brutally murdered, all their skulls were crushed by an ax that was later found.

The news spread fast and it has been said that hundreds of people wandered the house before the Villisca National Guard arrived to regain control of the crime scene but not before they touched everything, stared at the bodies and taking souvenirs. As a result, all potential evidence was either contaminated or destroyed.

There were many suspects. Frank F Jones was a prominent resident of Villisca and a senator. Josiah B. Moore worked for Jones until he opened his own company in 1908. Jones was considered one of the most powerful people in Villisca. He was a man who didn't like to be "defeated" and was upset when Moore left his company and took the John Deere franchise with him. There were also rumors that Moore was having an affair with Jones' daughter-in-law, but nothing was ever proven. However, it was motive to Jones and his son Albert. William Mansfield was believed to have been hired by Jones' to carry out the murders. He was arrested and later released after payroll records showed he was in Illinois at the time of the murders.

Revered George Kelly was a traveling salesman who supposedly confessed to the crime on a train heading back to Macedonia, Iowa. He claimed the reason for killing them derived from a vision telling him to "slay and slay utterly". He was arrested on unrelated charges and eventually was sent to a mentally hospital. His obsession with the murders and numerous letters sent to law enforcement made him appear as a viable suspect. However, after two trials, he was acquitted.

There was a common belief a serial killer may have been responsible for the murders and Andy Sawyer was number one suspect tied to this theory. He was a transient fingered by his boss on a railroad crew as knowing too much about the crime. Sawyer was also know to sleep and have conversations with his ax. He was brought in for questioning but was released when records showed he was in Osceola, Iowas on the night when the murders took place.

The house had many owners over the years. Darwin and Martha Linn had purchased the house in an effort to preserve and save it from being razed. They restored the house, turning it in to a museum. As much as the Josiah B. Moore family home became a part of American crime history, it also has a place in ghost legend.

Ever since the house was opened to overnight visitors, ghost enthusiasts have flocked to it, seeking the strange and the unusual. They witnessed the sounds of children’s voices when no children were present. Others have experienced falling lamps, feeling of heaviness, sounds of dripping blood, moving objects, banging sounds and a child’s laughter.

There are those who lived in the house who say they never experienced anything paranormal. No ghosts at all were believed to be inhabiting the dwelling until 1999 when Nebraska ghost hunters labeled it "Haunted". Some believe the house gained it's status after the Sixth Sense gained popularity.

So, is it really haunted? Spend $10 to tour the house during the day or $400 to spend a night there with a group of friends or family and find out for yourself.

Source: 

Prairie Ghosts

P.R.I.S.M. - Villisca Ax Murder House

Villisca: Living with a Mystery

Dick Duck Cemetery

Many cemeteries have their own "rock star" that draws in visitors and Dick Duck is no different. Dick Duck Cemetery in Catoosa, Oklahoma was already being used as a cemetery when Richard "Dick" Duck donated it in the early 1830s. However, people don't come to see Richard. It's a different "Duck" that lures them in.

Bluford "Blue" Duck (no relation to Richard) was born in Cherokee Nation and an outlaw who participated in stage hold-ups and rustlings. On the long list of famous outlaws, his name didn't rank high. However, stories have circulated that Blue not only knew female outlaw Belle Starr but had an affair with her prior to her marriage to Sam Starr. Only a single photograph is proof the two knew each other which may have helped him later on in his life. Also, Larry McMurty used Blue as inspiration for his book Lonesome Dove.

Blue, also known by his Cherokee name Sha-con-gah Kaw-wan-nu, got drunk on the night of June 23, 1884 and was riding with William Christie in the Flint Districk of Cherokee Nation. They crossed paths with a farmer named Samuel Wyrick and for unknown reasons began firing his revolver at him. Then, reloaded and shot a nearby Native American boy who worked by Wyrick as he was attempting to get help. Then rode to the next farm over and shot and missed Wyrick's neighbor. Duck and Christie was later tracked down and arrested. Both were sentenced to hangby Judge Issac Parker on July 23, 1886 but with the help with Belle and his lawyer Thomas Marcum, Blue's was later changed to life in prison in 1886. He was transferred to Menard Penitentiary at Chester, Illinois on October 16, 1886. Christie was cleared of all charges. Nine years after his sentence, he became ill with consumption. President Grover Cleveland pardoned the outlaw on March 20, 1895, allowing him to spend his final month with his friends and family. On May 7, 1895, Bluford "Blue" Duck was laid to rest in Dick Duck Cemetery.

Many believe Blue along with the spirits of children haunts the cemetery. Visitors have spotted shadow figures of sizes throughout the property. Some have heard voices, speaking in Native American languages, and whispers and felt cold spots as well as the sensation of someone running their fingers through hair. The other spirits are believed to belong to kids who have "Half Breed" marked on their headstones who died between 1882 and 1883. Not much more is known about them. According to Find A Grave, there are a couple of adults with "Half Breed" on their headstones as well. I'm not sure it has any more significance than a reflection of the times they lived in. People have seen and heard these children spirits in the cemetery at night and have an overwhelming feeling of dread whenever they stood near their graves.

Sources:

Examiner - Haunted Cemeteries of Oklahoma

Find a Grave - Bluford "Blue" Duck

Examiner - Seeking Paranormal Answers at Cemeteries

Mandy the Doll

I’ve written about Robert the doll and the Island of Dolls in the past. Today’s entry is about one located in the Quesnel Museum in British Columbia, Canada. Mandy is an antique porcelain doll over 90 years old with a ripped body, cracked head and wearing dirty clothing and was supposedly made in Germany or England around 1910 or 1920. She was donated to the museum in 1991 by a lady named Mereanda. What makes her so unusual is the powers some say she possesses.

Her previous owner related to the museum all the strange things she is supposedly capable of. The donor would wake up to the sounds of a crying baby in the basement. Upon inspection, she found an open window and no baby. After Mandy was donated to the museum, the crying stopped. However, the museum staff and volunteers problems were just beginning. Lunches would mysteriously disappear from the refrigerator and be found in a drawer later. Objects such as pens, books and pictures would go missing. Some would turn up later. Others were never found. Footsteps were heard when no one was around.

When she first arrived at the museum, Mandy didn’t have a “permanent” place to call her own within the building. She sat facing the public entrance and provided fodder for visitors. Later, she was placed in a case alone in another part of the museum. Rumors stated she couldn’t be placed with any other dolls in fear she would harm them. Then again, she may not like being by herself either. After being locked in a room, staff found papers thrown all around the room as if she had a tantrum. She’s been known to “play” around with electrical equipment, causing them to malfunction. Visitors have claimed to feel uneasy or sad around her. Some say her eyes have a tendency to blink or follow people around the room. Her fingers and head move on their own as well.

If Mandy is as bad as some say, how did she become possessed in the first place? No one knows for certain. Although, there’s a possible legend. There is a story, which has the doll being trapped in a basement with a little girl. She died and supposedly her spirit became trapped within the doll. Many years after this allegedly happened the doll was found in the basement after someone heard a child crying. When they found it, the doll was crying tears of blood. Don’t believe there is any evidence to prove this story to be fact or fiction as of now. Either way, it doesn’t stop people from flocking to Quesnel Museum, hoping to see Mandy put on a show.

Source:

Roadtrippers

Quesnel Museum
 
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