John Ringo Grave

John Ringo Historic Site Monument

The Historic Site Monument at the Ringo Gravesite.

If you’ve read about the untamed American frontier and have never heard of Tombstone, Arizona, for shame! This little town is a great place to learn about frontier life in a mining boom town. Tombstone is rife with legends and stories that would keep anyone interested for weeks on end. It was a silver mining town known for its rough-around-the-edges citizens. Names like Wyatt Earp, Curly Bill Brocius, Big Nose Kate, Doc Holliday– are a dime a dozen in the annals of Tombstone history. Tombstone is noted for the longest poker game in history (8 years, 5 months, and 3 days) and the infamous gunfight at the O.K. corral which was primarily between the Earps and the Clantons and McLowerys.

Part of the culture of the “Wild West” was to bury a body along the trail where the person passed away. There was no transporting the body anywhere unless the deceased was close to the rail lines at their time of death. Decomposition was rapid because food didn’t have preservatives and embalming was still in its infancy. Bodies still relatively intact that were found on the trail were buried deep enough to keep the coyotes, vultures or other desert scavengers at bay. Most makeshift graves were covered with rocks and marked with a simple wooden cross near the place the body was found and buried. The practice of leaving a cross or headstone is still observed in parts of the American southwest– though, the bodies are typically transported and interred in an actual cemetery instead of beside the road.

One such body that was found and buried on the trail is the source of much historical intrigue as there is some disagreement over the death of this man whose personal legend is linked to the infamous “Town Too Tough to Die”– Tombstone, Arizona. The body of John Peters Ringo is interred near the oak tree where he was found. A coroner’s inquest was held to determine his cause of death, but not everyone agrees with the verdict. Continue reading

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The Neighbors Are Quiet

In September of 2004, I was on an epic road trip back east with my (good) college roommates. Three of us were bridesmaids in a fourth roommate’s wedding. After a week doing wedding activities, after our newlywed friend absconded on her honeymoon, the three of us toured the east. We saw a lot of things and had a lot of fun. We each picked a main place to visit and planned a trip around that place. One of us REALLY wanted to go to Cape Cod, so we did.

Earlier that day– Wednesday, September 21, 2005– we’d been in Salem, and then we’d eaten dinner at the Outback Steakhouse near Salem. By the time we got out to the cape, it was really dark. We randomly selected a place to stay from a AAA book. The place we chose was really nice. We really loved our stay there. It’s a charming, well-priced, friendly location on the cape. As we pulled up to the motel, we drove by a cemetery. As we were checking into the room, I jokingly said, “I’ll bet the neighbors are quiet.” The owner gave a chuckle and handed us the keys.

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Cemetery Cafés Gain Popularity in Berlin

An interesting concept, to be sure…

View of cemetery from Friedhofscafé

View of cemetery from Friedhofscafé

Graveyards may not seem the ideal location for afternoon tea, but there is a trend towards opening cafes inside cemetery walls in Berlin and other cities. They offer comfort not just for the bereaved but for local people and tourists who seek tranquility.

“But no dead people were laid out here, right?” The two elderly ladies standing at the cake counter wanted to know exactly what happened here. “Oh yes, corpses were laid out right here,” replied the waitress, Johanna Helmberger, suppressing a smile.

Many visitors to Café Strauss in the the Kreuzberg district of Berlin ask her that. It doesn’t lessen the ladies’ enthusiasm. “It’s great! We’ll come again,” said one while paying.

Helmberger, 29, has a full house. Groups of pensioners, a middle-aged couple, two women with babies and a young man with a laptop. It’s a cold, rainy November day and the café, located inside the walls of a cemetery in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin, offers a view of wet headstones and family tombs. It doesn’t sound cheerful. But the guests are chatting away contentedly.

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Unknown Jewel Lost

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LeBeau Plantation, Arabi, Louisiana

For those of you unaware, a tragedy occurred over the weekend just south of New Orleans when vandals destroyed a plantation home by setting it on fire. True, it was in a pretty dilapidated state and true, also, the group of individuals who are responsible for the arson claimed to be ghost hunters, but to me they were vandals, pure and simple.

I fully acknowledge that not all investigation groups are above board, honest or even working with a full deck, but to my knowledge, none has ever destroyed a place they were allegedly investigating. Straight up vandalism is what it was, getting high and drunk and setting things on fire with their stupidity.

Apparently, though, before it was burned down, the LeBeau Plantation had a reputation for being haunted. Though the windows of the cupola are boarded up in the photo above, this has not always been the case. Prior to it being boarded up, there were reports of lights being visible in the cupola, despite there not being any electrical connection since the 1980s. It apparently also had the reputation for being the most haunted house in the area.

The land on which the house once stood was granted in 1721. Various plantations occupied the land for the next hundred years or so, then the land was turned into a brickyard. In 1851, Franciose Barthelemy LeBeau purchased the land and built the house that was recently destroyed.

According to some, the LeBeau family was just as bad as the LaLauries when it came to mistreatment of slaves. They would beat their slaves to death on occasion and then would order the living ones to bury their dead out in the field. It seems, though, that the dead slaves were able to exact revenge by haunting the LeBeaus and driving them all insane. Nearly all of the family committed suicide.

Artist's rendering of LeBeau Plantation as it appeared in the 1800s.

Artist’s rendering of LeBeau Plantation as it appeared in the 1800s.

The light in the cupola is not, however, any of the murdered slaves. In the 1970s a family resided in the house for a short time, but left soon after the death of their daughter. She fell from the cupola, allegedly pushed by unseen hands. The family moved out soon after.

Perhaps between the holidays, I will drive down to Arabi and see the remains for myself and take a few photos. It saddens me greatly that a piece of our local history was destroyed in such a senseless manner. Looking around online, you can see photos of the vandals and they don’t look like the brightest individuals in the world, which kinda enforces my belief that they weren’t real “ghost hunters” but used it as an after thought thinking they might get a “pass” on any prison time because they were “working”.

Sources:

http://old-new-orleans.com/NO_LeBeau.html

http://earthfiles.net/articles/plantation.cfm

A Ghostly Good Time

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City Park, Bisbee, Arizona

Old City Park is a sprawling 9,000 square-foot park located at 62 Brewery Ave in the mountainous City of Bisbee, Arizona. The park boasts an amphitheater, bleachers, a Ramada, slides, a basketball hoop, concrete court, and activity center. In the daylight, the park looks colorful and inviting, and there are often music or theatrical events hosted here. In the evening, City Park is fairly well lit and, being close to Old Bisbee, it’s not a bad location to spend some time hanging out… unless one is familiar with the history of City Park and knows that City Park used to be the Bisbee Cemetery.
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A Tragic Death in Western Film

I must have driven State Road 79 to Phoenix a dozen times. On each of those travels I’d pass the Tom Mix Wash and, in passing, wonder who Tom Mix was and what he did to be famous enough to have a wash named after himself. It wasn’t until his name came up in connection with a certain Santa Rita Hotel that I remembered the name “Tom Mix” long enough to look him up. That’s when I learned that Tom Mix Wash was where silent film star Tom Mix spent the last moments of his life.

The names Clint Eastwood and John Wayne have been synonymous with western film for as long as I’ve been alive. What I didn’t know was that there was another name that had made the genre popular long before I was born. That fellow was Tom Mix.
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Scotland’s haunted castles: would you be spooked?

This is an awesome write up of various castles in Scotland which are haunted. I know we’ve probably covered many of these individually over the years, but it’s nice to have it straight from someone living there.

The Hazel Tree

I’m not at all sure what the collective term for ghosts is:   a presence, perhaps, or a clutch?

Anyway, just in case it has escaped your attention, Hallowe’en is approaching;  if you were unaware, a walk around any supermarket will put this right.  This means that, all across the country, people will be queuing up to be scared witless – or merely entertained, depending on their constitution – by a ‘fright night’ in a haunted castle or mansion.

I’m never quite sure what to make of Hallowe’en – it is over-commercialised, but its underlying roots are as dark as night, reaching back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain.   Spirits are said to be especially active around this time because the veil between their world and ours is very thin.

Fortified by this idea, I thought I’d take a look at some of Scotland’s most haunted castles and the stories…

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