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

Win a Night in the Merchant House Museum

Want to spend a night in Manhattan's Most Haunted House? This may be your chance. The Merchant House Museum is hosting a lecture by Dan Sturges and a raffle. The Winner and a Guest will participate in a real paranormal investigation of the Merchant’s House Museum led by the Historic Paranormal Research team.

Merchant's House Museum, also known as the Old Merchant's House and the Seabury Tredwell House, was a Federal-style red-brick row house built in 1832 by Joseph Brewster and designed by Minard Lafever in Manhattan, New York City. Brewster lived in the house until 1836 when he sold it to Seabury Tredwell, a wealthy New York merchant, for $18,000. Seabury lived in the house with his wife, seven children, two boys and five girls, four servants, and an ever-changing assortment of other relatives.

Seabury died in 1865. The remaining family lived in the house until his youngest daughter Gertrude, who was born in the house in 1840, died in 1933. Three years after her death, the house became a museum. It is the only nineteenth century family home in New York City preserved intact, inside and out.

Seven of the Tredwell family died in the house. It is supposedly haunted mostly by Gertrude who in the later years of her life became obsessed with holding on to the family home in a part of New York City that had become run-down, semi-industrial, and disreputable. There have been reports of shadows, music from an unplayable piano, female spirit (Gertrude), footsteps, being poked, and voices.

Don Sturges and his group Sturges Paranormal have conducted numerous investigations in the Merchant House Museum since 2007. On May 14th at 7pm, He will discuss their time in the location as well as reveal photographic and audio evidence never before shared with the public. After a Q&A session, the evening will conclude with the raffle drawing.

The Raffle winner will help choose a mutually convenient Saturday night sometime this year to participate in a paranormal investigation. There will be a brief training session before a pizza dinner (courtesy of the Merchant House Museum). The investigation will begin at around 9 pm through the dead of night but raffle winner may stay as long as they wish.

Lecture tickets cost $20, $10 for Museum members (can be purchased here). Raffle tickets cost $5 or 3 for $10 (purchased here).

GS Question of the Week

70 lead codices turned up five years ago in a remote cave in eastern Jordan and may be from the 1st Century C.E. Some scholars believe they are fakes. What are your thought?

Reader Submission - History of the Ouija Board

Written by Gary Mullen from HandcraftedUK, supplier of Ouija Boards:

Paranormal tool to communicate with the dead or, a meaningless board to fool the naive? Whatever your opinion of the Ouija Board there is no denying that they are a source of intrigue and fascination for many people. But where do these boards come from? Do they have their roots in ancient spiritual practices or, are they nothing more than a modern toy?

The exact origins of the Ouija Board cannot be traced but there is evidence to suggest they may have arisen from ancient civilizations. Perhaps they are based on the ancient Chinese divination method of fuji? Dating back to 1100BCE fuji involved guiding a stick around a tray filled with sand. The messages spelt out in the container were thought to be communications from the spirit world.

In its early years the Ouija Board was referred to as a Talking Board and looked very different from the boards we recognise these days. These early designs had a pencil fitted to the planchett which was rested upon sheets of blank paper. The participants would ask a question and the planchett would travel across the paper until it had spelt out the messages from the spirits. Over time, the design was modified until the boards had letters, numbers and words fixed upon them.

The modern Ouija Board which we know today dates back to the late 19th Century where they were first sold as novelty items. William Fuld of the Kennard Novelty Company was the first to introduce the Talking Board to the mainstream and in 1901 patented the term ‘Ouija Board’ to market them. This was the perfect time to introduce these boards to the general public as interest in spiritualism was growing in popularity.

An interesting side-note is that the original Ouija Boards did not have the words "hello" and "goodbye" on them. It was only added by the Victorians who didn't want to anger the spirits with bad manners so demanded a courteous opening and closing to their Ouija sessions!

Fuld claimed the word Ouija was from the Egyptian for 'good luck'. In fact, this is untrue. However, the name can be linked to the words for yes in French and German, "oui" and "ja" respectively. One of the earliest mysteries surrounding the boards can be attributed to the death of Fuld himself. In 1927, whilst attempting to repair a flag mast on the factory roof that produced the boards he fell to his death. The official explanation is that one of the supports gave way however, others believe a more sinister force was at work and something supernatural caused his demise!

The Fuld family eventually sold the trademark ‘Ouija Board’ to the toy and game manufacturer Parker Brothers in 1966. Parker Brothers still own the trademark to this day. To date, they are estimated to have sold up to 25 million units.

Much of the opposition to using Ouija Boards comes from religions groups with many of them believing the boards carry a threat of demonic possession. Some fundamentalist Christian groups have burnt the boards as they see them as symbols of witchcraft! However, there is much scientific study to suggest Ouija Boards are nothing more than a toy and it is only the conscious/unconscious activities of the participants that is responsible for making the boards 'work'.

So the Ouija Board we know today may have their origins in ancient China. The methods used to use the Boards have changed through time but the debate as to their credibility is still a source of great debate. Perhaps Parker Brothers summed this up perfectly with their marketing slogans: "It's just a game…isn't it?"

Wordie House

The original Wordie House was built in 1935 and named after Scottish geologist and polar explorer Sir James Wordie who visited the site with the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Australian explorer John Rymill and his British Graham Land Expedition team constructed the hut from timber they transported to the Argentine Islands aboard the 'Penola.' They spent the entire winter of 1935 there before moving on to Marguerite Bay. This version of Wordie House was captured by the sea and swept away. A recent diving expedition of the channel adjacent to where it use to stand uncovered the ruins.

The second hut was built in January 1947 by the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey. Meteorology was the most important scientific research carried out there. Recording instruments were housed in meteorological screens. The hut was extended in 1951 to include generator shed, office, store and toilet. It closed in May 1954 and operations were relocated to nearby Galindez Island where it continues 'til this day.

Today, the second original main hut Wordie House has undergone some restoration and designated under the Antarctic Treaty System as a historical site. It comprises a kitchen, office, storage room and bunk room along with supplies, books, a typewriter, journal and various other items left behind. Other surviving remains include the meteorological screen, flagpole and two "British Crown Land" timber sign boards (erected in 1947).

It is believed to be very haunted. Paranormal activity includes voices, shadows, banging, footsteps, and objects moving on their own.

GS Question of the Week

What are your thoughts on the premiere of Syfy's Urban Legends? Like it? Hate it?

"Haunted" Swing

If you're a fan of Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files then you witnessed the phenomenon known in Argentina as the "Haunted" Swing. A single swing appearing to move on its own can be rather creepy. After viewing a reporter's video of this swing, the Fact or Faked crew set out to debunk it.

When I see or hear about something this intriguing, I want, as others do, to learn more about it. I put my Googling skills to the test and went to hunting. Other than a few forums talking back and forth on the issue, pretty much every article I found on this subject says the same thing.

This began in June 2007, although it doesn't specifically state the boy Fibian was the first to discover it; only locals are listed. Teachers or someone reported it to the police (would loved to have heard that conversation) after it supposedly kept moving back and forth for ten days straight and then stopped dead. When the police couldn't come up with an explanation, they called in physicists. After months of trying to find an answer, they too walked away empty-handed. A logical explanation couldn't be obtained. So, it must be haunted or at least that's what the parents have decided. I have yet to find anything other than what was said on the show about a little boy dying on a nearby construction site. I know the world wide web isn't always the most reliable when it comes to accurate information, but if the two are related wouldn't it be mentioned in an article somewhere?

After a little more digging, I discovered a few more tidbits that wasn't mention in the above account. During the last experiment, Jael pointed out the middle swing seat is wider than the others. Did you ever wonder why? There are various Youtube videos showing the middle swing was completely removed for a time. Wonder what happened while it was gone? A swing next to it picked up the haunted slack. Instead of putting the old middle swing back, they replaced it with an entirely new one and, of course, the new one began moving on its own.

The most common theory claims the wind or "vortex shedding" (wind blowing against a cylindrical object create a “wake” or trail of vortexes in the direction of the wind effecting the object behind the stream) is the culprit. The Fact or Faked crew came up with an experiment that pretty much duplicated what everyone was witnessing. However, those who were present in 2007 for the "haunted" sing-a-thon stated it was rather quiet for much of the time. Plus, you would think a physicist could develop an adequate experiment with results similar to the show's. So, why were they left baffled? Is the playground really haunted?

Without Swing

With New Swing

GS Question of the Week

Question from Dee of para - NORMAL aka My Life With Others:

"Have you ever encountered your doppelganger?"

Reader Submission - Full Bodied Apparition at the Doncaster Air Museum

The following account was sent in by Stu from Simply Ghost Nights:

The Full Bodied Apparition at the Doncaster Air Museum

Some years ago whilst taking part in a ghost hunt at Doncaster Air Museum, I was in a group of fellow ghost hunters in the middle of a vigil, just calling out for some form of spirit communication. We were sat in the large hangar that was said to be where the planes were repaired during the second world war, and prior to that had been Doncaster’s international airport.

The night was a cloudless summer night, it was also a rather mild time of the night too. The group was in good spirits all ready in anticipation for a night of ghost hunting, the adrenalin was starting to pump around the body of all of us. We were calling out for spirit activity when suddenly five of the group saw the solid mass of a human shape move directly pass the larger than normal doorway.

We immediately ran to the doorway to investigate who, or what had fleeted past the door, but not a soul was to be seen in the few seconds we had taken to reach the doorway they had literally disappeared.

From the whole area when we reached the doorway we inadvertently set off the security lights, but most shockingly outside the hangar there was pea gravel all around the area of the Air museum, which when the ghost hunters walked on it made an incredible noise that could be heard from our chairs in the hangar., however

We had heard no noise from the visitation we had all seen, and another sobering thought also materialised. The figure literally walked straight through the disabled hand rails that lead into the hangar doorway. As we added up all this information the cold realisation hit each and everyone of us that we had indeed been, very fortunate to have come within metres of a full bodied apparition.

I asked Alan who was staffing the air museum that night, whether anyone else could have walked by the doorway as the figure we had seen was much bigger than Alan’s, Alan stated that no one else was on the grounds as the gates were all locked and the high fencing was quite difficult to climb up and the security light would have come on in the event of someone walking in.

The group all commented that we must have indeed seen a full bodied apparition, as in all our endeavours to point to the figure being human, we could not see how it was possible for a human figure to walk by the security lights without setting them off, how no noise was heard from the figure walking on the surrounding pea gravel, and there was no trace or sign immediately after the incident. The ghost hunters who witnessed this still chat about the time, we all saw a full bodied apparition at Doncaster Air Museum.

Haunted house of Sas van Gent

In 1905, Saint Gobain ordered architect Jozef August Jacobs to build a glass factory and surrounding houses including an Executive Board house known as Sas-van-Gent De Villa. At the time of its construction, the border between the Netherlands and Belgium didn't exist. Today, the house use to sit right next to it.

Jacobs was the head of the factory. He became the first owner of the villa. He lived there with his wife, mother and five children. Five years later, he built a phosphate factory in Sas van Gent. However, life soon took a turn for the worse. In 1914, World War I began. Holland stared as a neutral country with huge electric fences on the border.

There are several stories associated with people and the electric fence closest to the villa. Supposedly, a German soldier looking to desert the army was electrocuted in or outside the house. Another story speaks of a small guy who escaped from the Germans by using a barrel between the electric wires.

In 1927, the Jacobs family left town and moved to Gent. A rich man named Bel assumed the position of new head of the glass factory and moved in to the Villa only to move out shortly after. He thought the house was too big.

The last owner was a scouting group who used the villa as their home. They abandoned it in 1951. It has sat empty for about forty-six years, absent of living residents. Some believe the house was haunted several spirits of those who died on the property including the German soldier who was electrocuted and three Canadian soldiers who were blown up in a tank outside the house. Visitors have reported strange feelings, shadows, footsteps, voices, temperature drops and objects thrown.

Those paranormal enthusiasts who were lucky enough to visit the house warned others of its overall state. The house had fallen in to a state of disrepair. The roof had been completely removed some time ago. Flemish entrepreneur Luc Christiaen owned the property and was looking to sell the site with or without the house. Dutch entertainer Johan Vlemmix was the only potential buyer but failed to make a formal offer. Sas van Gent De Villa was demolished last month.

Magnolia Plantation

Note: This entry is in the process of being amended. I recently learned some details are not accurate. I hope to have the problem fixed soon.

Jean Baptiste LeComte II received Spanish and French lad grants in the mid-1700s. Buildings began to erect in the 1800s in Westwego, Louisiana. However it wasn’t until 1830 Magnolia Plantation saw it’s first residents. Jean’s son Ambroise and his wife Julia Buard and began turning the property in to large-scale cotton production. Using slave labor, they converted 2,000 acres wooded area in to huge cotton crops. Their profits allowed them to expand to three plantations using Magnolia as their home base. Most of Magnolia’s structures which include a blacksmith shop, a plantation store, a former slave hospital, eight brick cabins and a gin barn date between 1835 to 1850. The slave hospital housed the owners when the main house was burned by retreating Union soldiers during the Civil War in 1897. The house that stands today is a recreation of the original.

Magnolia remained a source for cotton for over a century. It was considered exceptional because of the farming technology, such as the cotton picker tractors and two cotton gins (both steam- and animal-powered) and a rare 11 by 30-foot wooden screw cotton press. Ambroise and Julia’s daughter Ursula and her husband Matthew took over the plantation shortly after their marriage in 1852.

The plantation was the center of a community of Creoles of color and blacks who lived and worked on the plantation as tenant farmers and laborers. However, treatment of the slave laborers was not always good. The basement was used for curing meat. In the 19th Century, a slave overseer brought slaves there to punish and torture them. Some rebelled, killing and curing him. No one knows if he was ever served to his compatriots. Leg stocks still stand on the property as a reminder of the humiliations, starvation and public punishments. Escaped slaves were allegedly hunted down. The eight brick cabins were a rare masonry slave village. Two slave families lived in each building, sometimes up to 10 people in each unit. During the Civil War, the slave quarters were used to house Confederate prisoners, up to twenty-five in each. Some soldiers died from suffocation.

Many ghosts are said to plague the property. Neighbors say they still hear the murdered overseer’s screams and feel his icy presence. Enslaved blacksmiths would incorporate hidden voodoo symbols on Christian crosses used as LeComte grave markers. The slaves often casted evil wishes on their oppressive masters using voodoo. In the main house, there is a room dubbed “The Dying Room”. It is said that many of Magnolia’s residents went to this room to die. This room also housed a Union Major who was slowly poisoned and driven to madness by his Confederate prisoners. Eyewitnesses have reported seeing a man’s distorted face appear in the window and during full moons, the kitchen door opens and misty things crawls around on their hands and knees.

Confederate soldiers who died in the slave cabins are said to be buried in shallow graves surrounding them though no one has ever did a thorough search. It is believed they whisper the names of the living. Sometimes even attempts to possess them in order to get the revenge they seek. Other ghostly apparitions and disembodied voices are often seen and heard on the property. Motion detectors are often triggered without a known reason.

Magnolia Lane Plantation has appeared on Ghost Adventures.

GS Question of the Week

Please examine the photo below:

Do you think it is paranormal or a hoax?

Battle: LA

The "Battle of Los Angeles" also known as "The Great Los Angeles Air Raid" is believed to have triggered the era of official UFO secrecy by the U.S. government. The incident occurred less than three months after the United States entered World War II as a result of the Japanese Imperial Navy's attack on Pearl Harbor and five years before the "capture" of a "flying saucer" in Roswell, New Mexico. The target of the aerial barrage was thought to be an attacking force from Japan especially since the alleged attack came one day after the Bombardment of Ellwood, Japanese submarine attacked coastal targets near Santa Barbara, California in 1942.

Air raid alarms throughout Los Angeles County were triggered on the night of February 24th-25th. A total blackout was ordered and thousands of air raid wardens were summoned to their positions. At 3:16 a.m., the 37th Coast Artillery Brigade began firing 12.8-pound anti-aircraft shells into the air at a reported aircraft. A minimum of 1,430 shells were fired that night. Pilots of the 4th Interceptor Command were alerted but their aircraft remained grounded. The artillery fire continued sporadically until 4:14 a.m. The "all clear" was sounded and the blackout order lifted at 7:21 a.m.

Several buildings were damaged due to friendly fire. Three civilians were killed by the anti-aircraft fire and three others died of heart attacks attributed to the stress of the bombardment. Millions of people witnessed the incident and it quickly became front-page news throughout the nation. Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox held a press conference within hours of the air raid, stating the entire incident was a false alarm due to anxiety and "war nerves". General George C. Marshall believe the incident may been caused by commercial airplanes used as a psychological warfare campaign to generate panic.

When documenting the incident in 1983, the U.S. Office of Air Force History also attributed the event to a case of "war nerves" likely triggered by a lost weather balloon and exacerbated by stray flares and shell bursts from adjoining batteries.

Some press outlets suspected a cover up and speculations began to run rampant concerning invading airplanes and their bases. Some theories included a secret base in northern Mexico and Japanese submarines with the capability of carrying planes. Others believed it was either staged or exaggerated to give coastal defense industries an excuse to move further inland.

Today, when we see the infamous LA Times photograph, we automatically see the saucer-like object highlighted in the light beams and think UFO. The U.S. Office of Air Force History concluded it to be a weather balloon. However, other explanations included "slow-moving blimp", "mass hallucination triggered by war hysteria", and "light reflection".

Whatever triggered the air raid, the infamous LA Times photograph put the Fact or Faked crew in to debunking mode in an effort to come up with a plausible explanation. However, they were unable to accurately reproduce the photo. The incident did manage to inspire several films including the latest blockbuster released by Sony Pictures titled BATTLE: LA (currently in theaters), starring Aaron Eckhart and Michelle Rodriguez. In the movie, a Marine Staff Sergeant who has just had his retirement approved goes back into the line of duty in order to assist a 2nd Lieutenant and his platoon in an effort to reclaim the city of Los Angeles from alien invaders.

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