La Llorna

la-llorona-31La Llorna is a Hispanic legend which came to popular television in an episode of the NBC drama Grimm in 2012. It’s one I’ve wanted to write about for some time, but only recently put fingers to keyboard to bring the story to life here on the blog. As with most legends, there are multiple versions. I have attempted to combine them all into one fluid story. The legend itself is most commonly known in Mexico, Puerto Rico, southwestern United States and parts of Central and South America.

She is said to appear as the ghost of a beautiful woman with long flowing black hair and wearing a white gown. She roams rivers and creeks, searching for children to drag to their watery grave.

Referred to as “Maria”, in life La Llorna was a beautiful young peasant girl who turned every male eye, young and old, rich and poor alike. While she spent most of her day at home, in the evenings she would dress up in her best dress and entertain the men in the local fandangos.

Because of her beauty, Maria believed herself better than everyone else around her and refused all advances from men in the villages. She finally found a worthy match in a young ranchero: he was handsome, he was a good horseman, he was wealthy and he could play the guitar and sing beautifully. The young ranchero wooed Maria and managed to win her hand in marriage.

The marriage began wonderfully, the pair producing two fine sons. Everything seemed idyllic. A happy family. But after a few years, the ranchero returned to the wild prairie, leaving his wife and children behind. He’d leave for months at a time, returning only to visit his sons and effectively ignoring his wife. He even spoke of leaving Maria to marry someone of his own class.

Some versions of the story state that she drowned her sons in a fit of jealousy; while others indicate they drowned from Maria’s neglect in supervising them. However it happened, Maria quickly realized the error of her ways and attempted to save them to no avail. Again, the versions of the tale diverge a bit here. One version says that she was found dead on the banks of the river the next morning by a traveler while another version states she ran through the village streets screaming and wailing inconsolably. Day after day she would roam the banks of the river, searching for her sons in the hopes that they would return. She refused to eat and soon wasted away.

Not long after Maria’s death, her spirit appeared walking along the river crying out for her sons. Many a dark night she can be seen wearing the same white robe she’d been buried in, searching for her sons. Today children are warned against going in search of La Llorna at night, lest she snatch them and drown them as she did her own.

Sources:

La Llorona – Weeping Woman of the Southwest

La Llorona – A Hispanic Legend

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Llorona

La Isla de las Munecas

If my story about Robert creeped you out, this story can only add to the feeling…

In one of the many boroughs of Mexico City, in what used to be the independent city of Xochimilco, lies Teshuilo Lake. Once part of a vast lake and canal system which once connected all settlements within the Valley of Mexico, it is now part of a much smaller, similar canal system.

In the middle of this lake is an island which many believe to be haunted. The Island of the Dolls is believed to be haunted by the spirit of a young girl who drowned in one of the canals near the island. The event was witnessed by Don Julian Santana who had left his wife and child to live on the island. While he believed he was haunted by the young girl who had drowned, many others, including his family, believed he’d imagined the whole thing. However it happened, the end result was the same: the island became liberally decorated with dolls of all kinds. According to Don Julian, they were meant to make the spirit of the young girl feel better, or to keep her occupied and not bothering him so much. He displayed the dolls all over the island, ones that he’d found in the canals or in trash or even brand new ones. They were fastened to trees or hung from branches in whatever shape they arrived in. Even the cabin he lived in – still there on the island – was filled with these dolls, which Don Julian never made an attempt to repair.

In 2001, Don Julian was found drowned in the same area of the canals he alleged the girl had drowned. Some believe that the dolls became possessed by tortured spirits and conspired to drown the old man. Others believe it was simply an accident and now the dolls are the island’s caretakers.

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In 2009, the SyFy television programme ‘Destination Truth’ aired an episode in which the team visited the island. If you want to find the episode, it’s Episode 302. One of my fellow bloggers here managed to find a 2 minute summary of the episode on YouTube: Island of the Dolls

Source:

Fort Huachuca, Arizona

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Fort Huachuca, located in Sierra Vista, Arizona, a mere fifteen miles from the Mexican border, was originally established as a government stronghold against the Native Americans in the war for the west. It was center of operations for the campaign against Geronimo and his warriors and later against Pancho Villa. The 10th Calvary “Buffalo Soldiers” called Fort Huachuca home for two decades, lending even more historical significance to an already illustrious past. Not only was February 14, 2012 the 100th anniversary of Arizona’s statehood, but February is African American History Month, so there are two reasons to honor the Fort this month!

Carleton House was built in 1880 to serve as the Fort’s hospital.  The Fort soon outgrew the six-bed facility, so a larger building was built and Carleton House went on to serve a variety of purposes, finally settling in as housing for high ranking officers and their families. These days the Fort serves as as U.S. Army’s Information Systems Command and the Army Intelligence Center and School. Carleton House is still used as officer’s housing.

Army life being what it is, there is a lot of moving around, so a number of families have moved in and out of Carleton House over the years.  Even though many of the families stayed for short periods, the house soon gained a reputation.  The most voluble witness to date for this haunting is Brigadier General Roy Strom, who served as deputy commandant of the Army Intelligence Center and School during the 1980’s.

From day one the Stroms received clues that the house had a peculiar story.  One of the local men that the moving company hired refused to enter the home when he found out in which house he was supposed to be working.  Linens and blankets neatly stored in what was once the morgue of the old hospital were found strewn about the room.

The General and his family were convinced that they were the focus of pranks by the neighborhood children because the doorbell would ring continuously throughout the day, but no one was ever at the door.  The General even lay in wait for the mysterious bell ringer and ran around the corner of the house to the front when he heard the doorbell, but no one was visible.  Finally, the family disconnected all the doorbells.

The neighbors told the family of an incident that had happened to the prior residents of the house. The neighbor had sent her son over the the Carleton House with a plate of cookies for the resident family.  The boy could see the lady of the house through the glass in the front door, walking away as he rang the doorbell, seemingly ignoring him.  He went home with the cookies and told his mother what had happened.  Concerned, she phoned next door and the lady of the house said that they had just that moment walked in the front door, as the phone was ringing.  No one had been home when the boy saw the figure through the glass.

Mrs. Strom once saw what she now believes to be the ghost one morning when she was in the kitchen.  Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a female figure walk past the doorway.  She called out, believing it to be her teenage daughter.  When she didn’t receive a response, she investigated and found her daughter still asleep. No one else was in the house at the time.

The family also had some of the standard ghost activities: pictures falling off walls in the middle of the night for no reason, a swirling mist seen in the bathroom, voices being heard from empty rooms, things being moved.

The next residents of the home, Colonel Robert Bishop and his family, had their own experiences.  The colonel heard a young boy calling for “Daddy” in the wee hours of the morning.  He checked on his own son, but found him sleeping peacefully. The lights in the house would switch on and off of their own volition.  The base’s electrician checked the wiring, but could find nothing faulty.  The colonel’s wife would hear footsteps when she was alone in the home.

The spookiest encounter Colonel Bishop had was when he opened the door to one of the closets in the house and found himself face to face with a tall, blonde, female apparition.  Nonplussed, the army man closed the door and walked away swiftly.

The Bishops warned the next family slated to move into the Carleton House of the crazy happenings.  Colonel Warren Todd and his family said they lived in anticipation of finding the closet ghost, but never ran across her that way.  One of the Todd sons did see the blonde ghost in the living room one morning around three, and the youngest son, though remaining mute on the subject of the ghost, refused to sleep in his own room for the three years that they lived there.

As with the previous families, the Todds experienced the lights going on and off and when they reported it to the base electrician, he just shook his head and told them the issue with the wiring was psychical, not physical. They also heard a boy’s voice calling for “Father” and a female voice in the living room that said, “I’m tired. I’m sleepy.”

No one knows who the blonde ghost is, though at some time she was dubbed “Charlotte” and the name has stuck.  Since there were not many women on army bases out west back in the 1800’s, a popular theory was that she was the wife of an officer, or a local woman who died at the hospital while giving birth. That would explain why she is staying around the Carleton House, to search for her baby.

The most interesting aspect of the haunting, in my opinion, is that it takes place at a military base that is the center of cutting edge informational technology. In spite of the occupants being seasoned army personnel and logic-minded professionals, they still have to admit that there is more to their world than meets the eye!

I would like to thank the late Arthur Myers for his informative story on Fort Huachuca’s Carleton House in his book The Ghostly Gazetteer, which is one of my favorite ghost story books.  Thanks, Mr. Myers!

UL: La Llorona – The Crying Woman

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She Searches the River at Night

La Llorona is a popular legend among Latino communities across the United States.  La Llorona means “the crying lady” in Spanish. There are a few different versions, some of which I will cover here.  It is such a moving and disturbing story that it has been written about in folk lore, and even song.

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