I understand, you want to read what was most popular. What were the top choices of readers for the month of October 2013? I’d be happy to share those with you.
Today will end the 30 (31) Day Ultimate Blog Challenge for this quarter. As I prepared this blog site for launch the end of September 2013, I had no idea that it would be as popular as it got. I am grateful to everyone who viewed, shared and followed it this month. I will be continuing to create great new haunted posts but it will not be on a daily basis as it has been for the challenge.
I will be working on my books for the month of November but I will stop in and be sure to provide you with entertainment on both blogs.
Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, which opened in 1829 was once one of the most famous and expensive prisons known for it’s unusually cruel treatments of it’s prisoners. According to the official website, it was considered “the world’s first true “penitentiary,” a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of convicts.”
This maximum security prison was made up of 7 different cell blocks with which all met in the center for an easier command center with the need for less guards. Cells were designed for complete solitary confinement. Each had a locked gate with iron bars with heavy wooden doors that would close off the prisoners from other inmates to be ensure there was no talking across the halls. It was thought that isolation would help prisoners find God, but instead, it drove many of them insane.
The penitentiary was in use for 142 years before it shut down in the 1970’s for about 30 years. They are now open for tours and it’s used as an outstanding Halloween attraction.
It sits on 10 acres of land and if you were to walk around it, you would complete a half mile. It had 450 cells and at it’s peak there were about 1800 prisoners there at one time with approximately 75,000 prisoners admitted over the course of its operation.
Inhumane Treatment of Prisoners
In 1913, Pennsylvania abolished solitary confinement and the inhumane treatment began. If the prisoners acted out during the winter, ice cold water was thrown on them and they would spend the night outside. In the morning they could be found with a thin layer of ice formed over their body.
Iron gags were used on prisoners who wouldn’t obey the no talking ordinance. The gag was used like a bear trap on their tongues and was tied to their hands behind their back. Every time they moved the contraption would cut their tongues.
If they misbehaved, one of the punishments was being strapped in a chair so tight that it would cut off circulation to their extremities.
Most of the prisoners were sentenced to life and died within these walls, hundreds perished during the TB outbreak and many others committed suicide due to the inhumane treatment.
If all of that isn’t enough to make you think it could be haunted, several guards were killed by inmates who would reach through the bars after the doors were opened and shoved them only a few inches until they fell over the rails to their deaths.
In addition, during the 1930’s, an officer was clubbed to death by an inmate with a disassembled piece of a sewing machine.
Al Capone spent time here in a very well furnished cell. It was said he could be heard screaming on several occasions because he thought he was being haunted by one of the victims of the infamous Valentine’s Day Massacre.
Willie Sutton, a notorious bank robber actually managed to escape in 1945 through a tunnel that took a team of men a year to dig. Once outside the walls, Willie was quickly captured.
A locksmith doing restorations in cell block 4 was trying to remove a 150 year old lock from a cell door when a massive force overcame him. He believes that when he opened the gate it opened a pathway to the spirits who were trapped behind its bars.
In review of the Ghost Adventure’s investigation there were a great number of findings. It was quite an intense episode. During Zak’s interviews of an eyewitness at the prison, he discovered there were many reports of phantom footsteps, noises, voices, moaning, screaming, several accounts of physical touching and pushing, apparitions, banging and many other accounts of unexplained happenings.
The episode is 45 minutes long. If you have an interest and would care to see what they discovered while on site, start viewing at 13 minutes. This is where the first encounter is recorded. Zak is taking to a tour guide and they step inside Al Capone’s cell. Listen for what happens when another guide gives the history about reports that Al thought he was haunted.
(If you are short for time, after the previous part, skip ahead to around the 22:30 mark.) When Zac starts to torment the ghosts, a clanking noise is captured. At 25 minutes they receive a spike on the EMF detector and moments after they recorded an EVP. I could go on and on with what they found and what happened to them during their stay. I’ll let you decide if you’d like to review more. If you decide you are interested, here is the link to the video:
If you are among the bravest of the brave, you can pay a small fee to be scared out of your wits by people in full makeup and zombie attire who are stationed in cells throughout the jail. Walk through and tread lightly so as to not disturb the ghosts. watch your step however, the place is deteriorating and it adds to the image of a haunted location. “Terror Behind The Walls” has 6 different attractions on site that start on the weekends in September and run every day through the month of October, except Mondays. The last weekend is November 9. You may have to wait in line, but they make sure you are entertained while you hang out with your friends. For info, check out: Terror Behind the Walls.
If that seems too much for you, they are open daily for prison tours.
For a virtual tour, see the source documents below:
Fall River, Massachusetts was home to the Borden family in the 1890’s. Andrew and Abby Borden were murdered in the home on August 4, 1892. Their daughter Lizzie was tried and acquitted for the brutal crimes against her father and step mother due to lack of evidence. Her sister, Emma, who had been away on a pleasure trip, believed too, that she was not guilty of the crime.
In 2007, Tim Estiloz spent the night in the house and relays the history of the murders and the house today in this 7 minute video below, (“Lizzie Borden: The TRUE Story & The Murder House Today.”)
COMING SOON: According to the official website, Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast Museum, if you are too afraid to spend the night in a haunted house but have an extreme fascination, there is another option. The house is set up with 16 cameras throughout and the main website offers a membership to which you can view their ghost cams from the comfort of your home. They don’t guarantee you will see any ghostly activities (just to satisfy their lawyer they say) but they are hoping you will catch orbs, apparitions and astral projections. They are hoping to have 4 cameras up and running by the end of this month (October 2013) and the rest active soon after.
If you go to the website above, you can find more info. The current pricing for October 2013 is $15 for a tour. They run every hour on the hour, every day, except major holidays, from 11-3 and last approximately 50 minutes. Reservations for a tour are not necessary unless you have a group of 10 or more.
There are other options besides the tour. You can choose to spend the night if you dare, but children under age 5 are not permitted. You have the choice of just renting the room, doing a full bed and breakfast, “half board” or “full board.” I was unable to get the rates at this time.
What are some of the things you have heard about the case or the house? We will never know if it was Lizzie who committed these murders. Perhaps with modern day science we could have pulled prints found from the axe in the basement, but even then, if the axe belonged to the family an argument could be made that her prints would be on it anyway. Could it have been her sister who returned early from her trip or the maid, even a passer-by or neighbor who had a disagreement with the Bordens. Again, we will never know.
Let us know if you have visited this location and if you think it is haunted.
Let me start off by saying that I can already tell you that this will be a several part series. If you have interest in this Gardner, Massachusetts mansion, please follow this blog for more. It will be my main focus for this week as I will be adding new posts with much more video evidence. I anticipate this to be at least a 4 part series! I am enamored by this place. It’s as if I’m drawn to it, time and time again. I will eventually gain the courage to sit in on a live investigation, which they do offer many of.
(If you are from this area or plan on visiting for one of the scheduled tours of this Haunted Victorian, please also check out my other local post on The Haunted Rev Cemetery. You can find a link to the left in the sidebar or you can open this link in a new window or tab by right clicking on it and remain on this page for what follows. The Rev Cemetery in Fitchburg, MA (Dean Hill Cemetery)
I recall the first time I heard of “The Gardner Victorian.” I was an intern in Worcester and met Mark, an on air personality for a local radio station. He was living in the home at the time and we were on the subject of the paranormal and he began telling us about the stories of the house. At the time Ghost Hunters had already been in the home as well as the psychic we were about to have visit the station, Gary McKinstry. Both had been there for investigations that turned up solid evidence that he wasn’t just imagining things. He took us into one of the production booths and let us listen to a sound bite of an EVP they had captured during an investigation. The voice sounded like he was speaking a different language. He had it translated and told us what was said but for the life of me, I can’t remember. (Could this have been the voice of Eino, the Finnish Immigrant who lived and died tragically in the house in the 60’s?)
Mark went on to share a story about a time that he had gone across the street to pick up dinner and there were 2 men standing there staring at the house. He offered to give them a tour. (I couldn’t recall every detail since the story was told to me so long ago but I conferred with a video in which Edwin recalled the story as I recall, except that I wasn’t sure about the last two messages. I remember the one about the dog as told per Mark.) During the tour one of the men had seen a woman standing in front of him who looked like a servant. She had given him 3 messages:
He relayed to Mark that she said she didn’t appreciate the dog roaming the house freely, (Mark’s dog was in the basement, 3 stories below, a fact which the man would not have known.)
The second message was that there was something in the basement that had to be removed. It took quite a bit of searching but they found mason jars in an area behind the stairs that had swastikas on the label. When they took the jars out of the house, the wind ripped the label off and it disintegrated. (They realized after that S.K. Pierce was Jewish.)
The man was also told that he should be cautious and watch his daughter because she was going to be bitten by a dog. Sure enough, a couple weeks later, Mark received a phone call from the man who informed him that indeed, the prediction was accurate and his daughter had been bitten.
I never took Mark up on his offer to let us tour the house. He was in the midst of moving out at the end of my internship. One night, a few years ago, I was so drawn there that I stopped at the pizza place across the street with my son, Dan. We asked if the current owner offered tours and if they would mind if we stopped by unannounced and asked. The owner said he knew the owners of the mansion and didn’t think he would not mind if I knocked on the door.
As we stood in the doorway talking to Edwin, my son and I both saw what looked like an apparition on the landing of the stairway that looked like a young woman. He told us a quick story about how the activity had started to pick up a great deal during recent times. He had two little dogs that were barking in the background and he pointed out that there are times that when the dogs barked, an entity will growl back. My memory is a little foggy about this part but I though he mentioned there being something about the dogs not wanting to go near the staircase.
Edwin Gonzalez and Lillian Otero are the current owners and have reported that they have been driven out of the house due to the way the extreme activity has affected them. Immediately after moving in they started experiencing several unexplained events. At the time, they did not believe in ghosts. In several videos he recounts plant holders that moved without visible influence and a man who appeared in front of his face that he can still picture clear as day. He says that right after the man appeared he left the house to get something to eat across the street and calm down and had noticed a lot of commotion. A man had just had a fatal heart attack.
HISTORY OF THE HOUSE
The house on 4 West Broadway, was built in 1875 in “The Chair City,” Gardner, Massachusetts by then, king of the chair manufacturers, S. K. Pierce who had the previous house that stood there moved to make room for the mansion across the street from his factory.
There have been 7 reported deaths attached to this house, according to an investigator with Ghost Adventures…
Susan Pierce, Sylvester’s first wife, died in 1876, although, they could not be sure if she died in the house.
S. K. Pierce passed on January 28, 1888.
Ellen Pierce, his second wife died in the home from cancer in 1902.
Ellen and Sylvester had 3 sons. Edward, who was the oldest, married Bessie and they had a daughter, Rachel who died of the Spanish flu in 1916 at the young age of 2 years old.
Bessie Howe Pierce also died in the house.
Eino Saari, a Finnish Immigrant who died on April 3, 1963 passed away in the master bedroom from smoke inhalation. He had been smoking and possibly drinking in bed and was found burned to death. Some people argue that it was spontaneous combustion because there were no burn marks on the walls or the floor but the mattress had caught on fire and put itself out.
In 1965, Edward had lost the home after gambling it in a poker game and the new owner let Edward live in a room in the basement where he later passed away in 1967. It is said he still occupies that area. Here is very short chilling video of a voice captured during an investigation that sounds as if they are saying the name, “Edward.”
Other Compelling Stories:
Edwin tells the story of two young boys who had moved into the neighborhood. Their mother had stopped by to ask Edwin how many children they had. When he told her they didn’t have children, the woman state that her son had seen a young boy in the window shown here, wearing a white shirt and shorts who had said he wanted to play with them but his mother would not let him outside.
When I inquired last month, September 2013 via their Facebook page, Haunted Victorian, about tours that were being offered I received this response from I believe, Edwin; “Hi Missy… Here is some info: The mansion is known as being one of the most haunted homes in the country. My story started about 5 years ago when I purchased the mansion. Neither of us knew anything about the home’s reputation of being haunted. We saw the home for sale online, quickly made an appointment to see it, and fell in love with it right away. The mansion charmed us. We immediately experienced unexplained ghostly encounters on the very weekend after buying the home. Never having experienced any paranormal activity in Boston and not believing in ghosts, this was very difficult for us to deal with. We officially moved in in April of 2009. Over the next few months, we began to experience moving objects, whispering and chanting, loud banging on our master bedroom door, voices calling our names, footsteps, slamming doors in the middle of the night, shadows, tapping, sounds and smells, and even full body apparitions. Lillian would see large shadows darting from room to room in the basement when she was alone there. One time she was driven to leave the basement when she observed a shadow hovering over her shoulder. In contrast, on another occasion Lillian was led to the basement for no reason after hearing voices, and she began digging for hours until she unearthed a bone. In the fall of 2011, we abruptly moved out. The activity became just too much to handle. For example, Lillian awoke to find herself held down on our bed. After a few minutes Lillian began to scream. She does not recall screaming “take her off me,” but those screams still echo in my head.”
During the 9/2013 episode of Ghost Adventures, they interviewed New England Paranormal Researcher, John Brightman IV who had done a recent investigation in the home. He had received evidence of a recording stating, “Squeeze every throat,” just before he was scratched by something unknown. He showed pictures of his ribs where he had been scratched and it appears to show the roman numeral, IV. He is the 4th in his family and no one had known that before this event. He claims to have been attacked a second time as well.
Edwin stated during the interview with Zak Bagans that 3 mornings in a row he saw a young woman in white levitating near his bed, crying uncontrollably.
The most recent investigation by Ghost Adventures turned up some bone-chilling evidence. On camera they caught loud banging upstairs that could not be debunked, a golf ball sized orb float past Zak and Aaron into the area where they hear the banging, a mist-like ball float near them in the basement, a voice state, “He’s here,” when they asked the question who is down there with them. On the third floor they used the spirit box to ask questions and received chilling responses. They asked if the spirits remembered Edwin who had, by then, already moved out with Lillian, a little girls voice came across with a drawn out, “hiiiii….” When asked, “Do you want them to leave,” there was a definative, “No,” but then Edwin asked, “Do you want us to sell the house,” a “not sure,” answer was given. The final question had my hair standing on end. Edwin asked the name of the woman who lived in the house. “Lil-li-an,” was spoken very clearly in a woman’s voice and also caught on tape. It was a chilling episode with a great deal of evidence and back story from the owners.
This is only part one. I will be covering this house with more throughout the week. Please follow the blog or check back if this house is of interest to you.
Thank you for visiting. Please come back for more…
YouTube Video from Maine Ghost Hunters ; “MGH – Haunted Victorian Mansion Tour w/ Owner Edwin Gonzalez,” Uploaded April 25, 2011
Ghost Adventures Episode, “Haunted Victorian Mansion,” Aired on 9/20/13