Over 70 years ago, Oliver Springs, TN was faced with the murder of two sisters and their 16 year old errand boy. Margaret Richards was a secretary for the Oliver Springs Brick Yard. Her sister Ann was a bank teller at Oliver Springs Bank. The two lived with their other sister Mary.
On February 5, 1940, Mary, teacher and librarian at Oliver Springs High School, wrote a note to her sisters. She sent a couple of students to deliver the note, but they returned saying no one answered the door. After a second failed attempt to deliver the note and learning her sisters didn't show up to a scheduled meeting, Mary went to the house. Upon arrival, she witnessed a brutal scene.
She found her sister Margaret,46, dead on the stairwell. She had been shot twice, once in the head and once in the throat. Her sister Ann, 48, was dead on the kitchen floor from being shot in the head. Their errand boy Leonard "Powder" Brown was discovered near the second floor banister with a .38 pistol in his hand. It was believed he killed Margaret and Ann and then committed suicide. Only problem is there were no fingerprints on the gun. He was also described as being timid, afraid of death and guns. The person who killed the victims possessed an ability to fire accurately. However, there was persistent theories of his guilt.
One stated he became jealous when the sisters gave him and another person a suit of clothing and the other person's suit was better than his. Another rumor had people believing Brown idolized ex-cons. There were two seen around the town, waiting to board trains to Chattanooga and Jefferson City. Another theory told of Brown's parents going insane before they died and his father supposedly killed someone. He was orphan raised by his Aunt and Uncle. The Richards sisters allegedly told Brown he wasn't doing his job properly and he may go back to an orphanage. The town was divided among those who believed Brown murdered the sisters and those who thought there was a fourth person involved.
On February 13, 1940, there was a five-hour long investigation with an Anderson County Coroner's jury and Mary and the sisters only brother, Joe, in attendance along with 25 witnesses who testified. It was determined that all three were killed by persons unknown despite the sheriff's persistence it was Brown. However, it wouldn't be until 2001 that Brown became officially cleared of all allegations. A witness finally came forward with information about two men seen spying on the house the day before the murders. There had also been witnesses on the day of the murder who claimed to have heard two men talking inside the house.The case remains open.
The mansion the Richards sisters lived in was destroyed by a fire. Harvey's Furniture was built in its place. Employees and customers have witnessed a female apparition wearing a 40s style dress and have often heard voices from unknown origins throughout the building.
The Ghost Hunters crew are returning to the Mark Twain House and Museum for tonight's episode. A couple of years after marrying Olivia Langdon in 1870, Samuel Langhorne Clemens a.k.a Mark Twain decided to move to Hartford, Connecticut. He had visited years prior to meet with his publisher Elisha Bliss Jr from American Publishing Company. During this visit, he became attracted to the town and wanted to be closer to his publishers. The Clemens Family rented a house in the Nook Farm neighborhood in 1871. Then, bought land and began construction on a new home.
Designed by a New York City architect named Edward Tuckman Potter, the 19-room Victorian Gothic structure contained bay windows, fireplaces from India, hand-stenciled paneling and an enormous hand-carved mantel purchased in Scotland. The top floor was the billiards room and study where Twain wrote some of his notable works including The Gilded Age, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and The Prince and the Pauper late at night. His children had their own nursery and playroom/classroom. They moved in after it was completed in 1874 and lived there with his wife and children. The couple had three daughters named Olivia Susan (Susy), Clara Langdon and Jane Lampton (Jean). They also had a son but he died 19 months after he was born from diphtheria in 1872. Seven years after the house was completed, an additional strip of land was purchased leading to the kitchen and front hall being enlarged, the driveway redrawn and the installation of new plumbing, heating and a burglar alarm. Unfortunately, the lavish lifestyle in Connecticut would soon come to an end.
Mark Twain had formed the company Charles L. Webster & Company which published his writings along with Ulysses S. Grant's memoir. After about ten years of business, his company went bankrupt in 1894. He succumbed to several other investment losses and bank panics. Thus, forcing him to move his family to Europe in 1891. He began lecturing to pay off his debts. During one of his European lectures, his oldest daughter Susy died from spinal meningitis in 1896 at their home in Hartford. She was 24 years old. The Clemens wouldn't return to Connecticut until 1901 where he had another house built named Stormfield in Redding. Jean moved in with her father and worked as his personal secretary until she died on Christmas Eve in 1909 from a heart attack as a result of a seizure (she was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was 15) at the age of 29. Clemens himself lived in Stormfield until he died on April 21, 1910. Clara would be the only Clemens child to out live their father.
The Clemens Family sold the house in 1903. After Susy's death, they never could return to the home they treasured so much. Over the years, the house was turned in to a school, apartment building and library. It became a National Historic Landmark in 1962 and underwent a multi-million dollar renovation/expansion in 1974. Today, the house functions as a museum dedicated to Mark Twain's life and work.
While a visit to Mark Twain's House and Museum will invite you in to the world of a great American writer, you may encounter a ghost as well. Staff and visitors have experienced a wide range of paranormal activity including seeing shadows, hearing voices and footsteps, and having their clothes tugged on. Others have smelled cigar smoke (especially in the Billiards room), seeing orbs, hearing children's laughter. There have been sightings of a woman in translucent period clothing (possibly the spirit of Susy) on the 1st/2nd floors and an African American male (possibly the ghost of the Clemens' worker and freed slave George Griffin) seen on the 3rd floor. Of course everything in the Twain House may not be sweet and nice. There are reports of growling and things being thrown at people in the Basement.
Andrea Allisonon Sunday, December 02, 2012
The following story was submitted by Julie:
I spent 38 days in pure mental hell in a haunted house!
When I was twenty one years old, my new husband's family offered to sell us a house that had been in his family for generations at an incredibly cheap price. They had a difficult time keeping it rented and did not want to hassle with it anymore. We jumped at the opportunity and moved in almost immediately. It was only a matter of hours before strange things began to happen. It did not take me long to decide there was something or someone else other than us in that house.
Almost every night we would hear something coming up the staircase. The steps were old so you could hear every creak. Nick, my husband would jump up out of bed whenever he heard it to go make sure that someone hadn't broken in. It would always end the same, no one was there. The ghost appeared to get braver as time went on. We could hear the steps eventually come down the hall; they were getting a little closer to our bedroom door with each visit. Finally, the night came that we had both been dreading. Nick was sound asleep, exhausted from working hours of overtime. I heard the steps dare to pass the doorway of our bedroom and enter our room.
I felt slightly aware of something or someone approach the side of the bed I had my back turned to, but I was afraid to look. I just kept my face in Nick's chest and closed my eyes tightly. I felt as though there was someone right behind me, right behind my head just staring at me. I knew one thing for sure; I was not going to turn around to check. I just wanted to fall back to sleep as soon as possible.
My hand searched under the covers for Nick's hand. I very softly and quietly moved my hand beneath his big palm. I did not want to disturb him; I just knew it would make me feel better if his hand was lying on top of mine.
My back felt ice cold; I tried to bring the covers up tighter around my neck and back. That's when I felt it. Something moved briefly on the bed behind me. I did not acknowledge it. I forced myself to stay still as if I were still asleep. I felt that if I suddenly reacted, I would see something horrible, so I did not turn around, I did not move.
That seemed to upset whatever was behind me. I felt the bed move again, but just ever so slightly. I felt that whatever was behind me was so close to me it was almost touching my hair. I had the feeling on my scalp similar to when you have static electricity in your hair. I was sure it must almost be standing on end.
I rubbed Nick's palm with the back of my hand. I think I was actually trying to wake him, but trying to do it quietly, so whatever was behind me would not notice. It didn’t work. Nick just grunted a moment and then took another deep breath, he was still sound asleep.
I felt another movement on the bed directly behind me again. I actually could feel the blanket I had wrapped so tightly around me tug on me a bit as if someone had laid some weight on it behind me, I was sure that something was trying to get even closer to me. Suddenly I felt air blow on my cheek. It was just the same as if someone had breathed on me, except it was a lot colder, ice cold.
I tried rubbing Nick's hand again only I did it more aggressively this time. He moaned a little and turned to face me laying his arm across my side. That made me feel a little better, if there was someone or something directly behind me he would have struck them with his hand when he put his arm around me. I no sooner had the thought when Nick's arm went flying off of me and back towards him. It was as if someone had picked up his arm and flung it off of me. At that same exact moment, I felt a very strong tug on my hair, and heard a whisper in my ear.
"Get out of my room," the words struck me like a knife in my stomach.
It was a very raspy mean voice. I woke Nick instantly, but once again there was no one there. Many things happened in that house. We only lived there for thirty six days, thirty six days of pure mental hell.
That was when I started to believe in ghosts and spirit hauntings. It forever changed how I view things. I wrote a book about the whole experience, The Lennox Haunting... It is on Amazon, It is a true story!