Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Daily Bedlam and the Ghosts of the Lost Regiment

I have fallen quite behind on my blogging lately.  I have also fallen behind on my blog reading.  The world of haunted and dark blogs I usually keep up with has been lost in the fog of chaos that is my life.  This is not surprising since I can hardly keep up with the laundry and making sure I have all my clothes on right side in lately.  It is my goal over the next few weeks to pull things back together and start keeping up with things again, but I offer my apologies in the meantime. 

Several things have kept me away from my blog over the last several weeks.  One of the largest things was Haunted Chattanooga.  I have been working slowly on this book for History Press for a while and procrastinating with all the power in me.   The deadline was this month and all my procrastination caught up with me.  I had to write the book.  Thank God Amy Petulla of Chattanooga Ghost Tours is my co-author, because she saved me on this one.  She was organized and knew the ghost lore of Chattanooga like the back of her hand.  Besides writing her own portion of the book, she helped me pull my portion together in a way that actually made sense.  So I've been buried in ghost stories, but unable to write here.   A few other things have slowed me down a little.  My dog had puppies, which has kept me very busy, and I'm pregnant and the waves of morning sickness have been bad enough for me to take a few months off work to lay in bed and wonder why I thought having children might be a good idea. 

I've met my deadline now and I'm feeling a little better and I'm determined to catch up.  I want to catch up on my blog writing and reading.   For now, here is a small taste of Haunted Chattanooga in the form of one small tale from Lookout Mountain.  There are many, many ghost stories from Lookout Mountain, but this is one of my favorites.

It is not surprising that the Civil War left its fair share of ghosts behind on Lookout Mountain.  Many battles and skirmishes were fought in the mountain's massive shadow.  So many men died in the mountain's shadow that the soldier's sorrow has left an imprint in the stone. One of the more famous ghost stories of the mountain is a about a group of Union soldiers that got lost while fighting in the skirmishes at the base of the mountain. They became so lost that they wandered away from the battle to the other side of the mountain. They had already seen combat, so as they wandered the mountain they lost blood, food and morale. This was only made worse when members of their group began to die. Unfriendly locals helped pick off the gang of lost men, driving them deeper into the woods and further into a state of panicked madness as they realized that they might not ever make it off the mountain alive. The last that was seen of this lost regiment, there were only seven Union soldiers left alive. They were last seen in Blanche, Alabama, heading up the mountain. Residents of the area still say that they see the ghosts of the regiment, however. They say that they hear the soldiers’ ghosts crying out in the night. They say that the ghosts of the lost regiment still wander the mountain, trying to find their way home.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Ghosts of Fort Morgan

The Fort Morgan area has become a vacation spot.   Its beaches sit overlooking the Gulf of Mexico and tourists come from all over to watch the  Dolphins and dip their toes in the sand.  The sands of Fort Morgan carry an older, forgotten history, however. Most tourists will never know that the sands they play in were once soaked in blood.  

Fort Morgan began construction in 1812 and was finished in 1834 and was widely regarded as the "finest example f military architecture in the New World."   The fort was constructed in a unique star shape that made it easier to defend.    Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines sat on opposing sides of Mobile Bay and acted together to close the Bay off and defend the waters.

Fort Morgan saw heavy fire during the Civil War.  I was used defensively by the Confederates and was also a starting point for blockade running ships.  The Union took the Fort during the Battle of Mobile Bay.  After Fort Gaines fell, Union soldiers laid siege to the fort an set the wooden parts of the fort on fire.  Many men died in this battle and the Confederate soldiers did not meet happy ends.

It is not surprising that this old Fort has more than its fair share of ghosts.  It has a long history filled with war and fire.  The old barracks are said to be one of he most haunted portions of the fort..  In 1916 or 1917 a prisoner hung himself in the barracks.  According to local lore, you can still hear the hanging man cry late at night.   He is not alone in his sorrow.  During the Civil War, a bomb went off in the fort and several men met a horrible fiery death.   The bomb went off in a room with a big fireplace and they say you can still hear the men screaming at night.

The final ghost comes from an unconfirmed story of woe and sorrow.   They say that some time in 19th a young woman was drug into the fort by unknown men.  The woman was beaten, raped and murdered.  According to legend, she still wanders the Fort looking for justice. 

Oddly, I've been to the beaches at Fort Morgan on many occasions, but never visited the old Fort.   I hope to fix that mistake this summer on my visit.   The very shape of the old fort seems to lend itself to ghosts stories and call to spirits to stay and linger.   I can't believe I missed this little gem.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

And the Free Kindle Goes to......

A few weeks ago, when my first novel, Death's Dream Kingdom, came out, I said I would give away a free kindle to the person who helped me spread the word about the book's release.   I have to say that one person really went above and beyond to earn the kindle.   Mishy of Haunted Antique Store (http://www.hauntedantiqueshop.blogspot.com/) tweeted, facebooked, put it on her blog, and distributed it in her newsletter to over 3000 people.  Wow.  Thanks Mishy!  The kindle is yours.  I will be emailing you to get your address so I can send it to you!  I appreciate everyone else who participated and thank you all for everything you did to help.  I wish I could give a kindle to all of you!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Are You Ready for the Zombie Apocalypse Tomorrow?

 For those of you who haven't heard the news, Christian radio broadcaster and president of Family Radio Harold Camping has used complex biblical numerology to determine that the rapture is tomorrow.  I am a little off topic here, but I figure since, according to Camping, most of us will be ghosts in the next few months it is a more ghostly topic than most may think. Thousands of Campings followers have sold all their worldly possessions and abadoned their families to prepare for the end of times.   According to Camping,  only 200,000 people will be raptured tomorrow.  Only the most loyal will be taken to heaven.  As for the rest of us, he is pretty specific in what we can expect.  We will all have to survive hell on earth until October 21st when the world will end.   In the New York Times Camping said:

"When the clock says about 6 p.m., there’s going to be this tremendous earthquake that’s going to make the last earthquake in Japan seem like nothing in comparison. And the whole world will be alerted that Judgment Day has begun. And then it will follow the sun around for 24 hours. As each area of the world gets to that point of 6 p.m. on May 21, then it will happen there, and until it happens, the rest of the world will be standing far off and witnessing the horrible thing that is happening."

What is the next horrible thing, you may ask?  Many believe it will be zombies.  The CDC issued an alert (CDC officials claimed in the New York Times it was only to draw attention to their hurricane preparedness plan, but I think they know the zombies are coming) on their blog.   The CDC blog is titled Zombie Preparedness 101.   http://emergency.cdc.gov/socialmedia/zombies_blog.asp  .  The CDC isn't alone.  I found this sign on The Frog Queen's blog:   http://strangelittlegirlblog.blogspot.com/

So, in order to help all my readers prepare for the zombies that will probably start flooding our streets on Sunday, I have taken some tips from The Zombie Survival Guide, the CDC, and from my fading zombie blog to help you put off becoming a ghost and survive Sunday's zombie hoard.   Of course, Camping could be wrong.   He was wrong when he predicted the end in 1994, but it is better to be safe than sorry with these types of things.  

1. Always have a pack prepared with all the supplies you need in case you have to run.  Don't forget food, water, water purification supplies, lots of ammo, and blunt objects.  The CDC recommends you have the following items in your emergency preparedness kit:
•Water (1 gallon per person per day)

•Food (stock up on non-perishable items that you eat regularly)
•Medications (this includes prescription and non-prescription meds)
•Tools and Supplies (utility knife, duct tape, battery powered radio, etc.)
•Sanitation and Hygiene (household bleach, soap, towels, etc.)
•Clothing and Bedding (a change of clothes for each family member and blankets)
•Important documents (copies of your driver’s license, passport, and birth certificate to name a few)
•First Aid supplies (although you’re a goner if a zombie bites you, you can use these supplies to treat basic cuts and lacerations that you might get during a tornado or hurricane)

2.  Always use bludgeoning tools before guns when possible when facing a zombie.  Ammo will run out quickly and you'll never run out of bullets with an axe.

3. Avoid cities and towns.   When the people start dying, urban areas will be flooded with zombies. Find someplace remote where people didn't go much in life.

4.  Travel on foot when possible.  Roads will become backed up and traffic accidents and fires will draw the zombie hoard.   Walk quietly in the woods and avoid notice.

5.  Drink Trappist Ales.  I hear they repel zombies and they'll dull the pain if you are eaten alive.  I know I want to be drunk if I'm going to be disemboweled.

I hope all of you have a happy rapture day tomorrow and survive the zombie hoard on Sunday!  You know, I just realized my advice was go into the woods with guns and weapons and drink lots of beer.  Keeping that in mind, make sure people are dead before you shoot them or hit them.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Old Bryce Hospital for the Insane

Alabama Hospital for the Insane was designed to be a refuge for the mentally ill.  Its architecture was designed based on the ideas of Dorothea Dix and Thomas Story Kirkbride.  It was meant o be moral architecture that would contribute tot he healing process within the hospital   The hospital opened in 1861 and for a while it held to the ideals of Dix and Kirkbride.  The first superintendent, Peter Bryce, was an idealist and he had studied mental health in Europe.  He believed that patients should be treated with respect kindness.  He even abandoned the use of restraints.  The hospital was later named for Bryce and it went on to be the model for progressive mental health care.

Time quickly eroded Bryce' legacy, however.  By 1967, there were more than 5200 patients residing in a facility that was never meant to hold that many.  Observers described Bryce as a concentration camp and a model for human cruelty.  In 1970, one patient named Wyatt started a class action law suit against the Alabama's other mental hospital, Searcy State Hospital.  This lead to major change in the way the mentally ill were treated in Alabama.  The number of beds were cut drastically and humane treatment of the mentally ill became an absolute necessity.  The landmark Wyatt v. Strickney Casee would change Bryce drastically. Old Bryce was the African American portion of Bryce Hospital and was notorious for being even more cruel than its white counterpart.  After Wyatt v. Strickey and desegregation, Old Bryce was shut down entirely and other buildings were used.  The African American patients were integrated into the white population.  

Old Bryce still sits quietly deserted, however, as a reminder to the old days when patients were held like prisoners with no rights.   It is covered in graffiti and has been vandalized many times.  Its even been set on fire.  Trespassing is forbidden here, but the curious have reported seeing all manner of horrors coming out of the dark around Old Bryce.  Lights flicker on an off in the building that has no electricity.  Phones ring in rooms with no phones.  Phantom lights drift from room to room. Furniture moves on its own and footsteps echo through the abandoned hallways.  The living patients may be gone, but many believe Old Bryce is still filled with the ghosts of those who once suffered in its walls.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Origins of Friday the 13th

Friday the 13ths is considered the most unlucky day of the year.  Most people aren't entirely sure where this bad luck comes from, but fear of Friday the 13th  can affect as many as 1 in 4 people.   The fear of Friday the 13th is known as triskaidekaphobia. 

"It's been estimated that [U.S] $800 or $900 million is lost in business on this day because people will not fly or do business they would normally do," said Donald Dossey, founder of the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina.

So where does this fear that can cripple a nation come from?   There really seems to be no consensus on the origin of Friday the 13th.  Everyone has a story, but most of them are different.  The fear comes from an unknown source.  Here's a look at a few of the Friday the 13th origin stories I've found.

One folklorist traces the origins back to Norse mythology.   There were 12 gods who had a dinner party in Valhalla.   A 13th guest, Loki, was uninvited.  Always the trickster, Loki tricked the god of darkness, Hoder, into shooting Balder, the god of joy.  Balder died and darkness descended on the earth.  Joy was lost to man and from then on 13 was considered unlucky.

In 1307, on October 13, 1307, King Phillip IV of France ordered every member of the order of the Knights Templar executed on charges of  high treason and heresy.  King Phillip owed the Templar's a good deal of money and they had amassed an enormous amount of wealth on their crusades.  It is thought that the order was actually to strip the Templar's of their wealth.   The Templar's were tortured horribly and forced to confess  to crimes they didn't commit.  They all died, but as the grandmaster died he cursed King Phillip and the day making Friday the 13th unlucky for future generations to come.

Many believe the fear comes from the number 13 itself.  According to numerologist, the number 12 is associated with completeness.  There are 12 months in a year, 12 zodiac signs, 12 apostles, 12 Olympian gods, 12 tribes of Israel,  12 hours in the clock, 12 labors of  Hercules.  The list goes on and on.  The addition of the 13 ruins perfection is utterly bad and unlucky.  In many stories, the 13th guest is always a bad sign.  Think Judas at the last supper and Loki in the above story.  It is the number 13 that lends the curse to Friday the 13th.   Combine that with the unlucky Friday, when Jesus was crucifies and Adam tempted Eve and you have a recipe for an unlucky day.

It is clear there are many reasons to fear the dreaded Friday the 13th, but for me Friday the 13ths have always been lucky.  So have a happy Friday the 13th, watch one of the 12 million Friday the 13th movies (I like the one in space), and wish me luck on my lucky day!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Gaurdian Ghost of Cloudland Canyon

Cloudland Canyon is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been camping.  It is quiet and filled with the gentle sound of trickling water.  It is known for its waterfalls, but the small waterfalls are just as beautiful as the bigger more famous waterfalls.  The park is situated on the Southeast corner of  Lookout Mountain, but isn't overrun with tourists like the Northeast side of the park.   A deep gorge runs through the park, which is filled with creeks, waterfalls, and lush vegetation.   On a quiet evening, camping in this park, the children can explore and discover adventure while the adults find peace around a fire.  During the day, extensive hiking trails innervate the park offering views of rare beauty.

At night, after the campfire is out and all the campers have retired to their tents to sleep,  it is said that a ghost wanders the park leaving footprints behind him.  The ghost is often seen on a high point in the park looking down on visitors.   He is seen on horseback and in the garb of a Cherokee brave.  Many campers report seeing him at their campsite and other campers have reported finding the tracks of an unshod horse in their campsite when they wake up in the morning.   He is often seen wandering between campsites, watching the campers.  These sightings are not described as fearful encounters and many believe the Native American is there to protect the park and its residents.   I never saw this ghost while we were camping in Cloudland Canyon, but I could see why he would want to stay in the park, even after death.   It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever camped.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Spirit Cabinets

In the late 19th century and the early 20th century that was a movement known as the spiritualist movement.  I have written about the spiritualist movement before and those of you who know the paranormal well are probably very familiar with it.  During this time their was an explosion in interest in the supernatural in general.  Mediums and explorers of the otherworldly were everywhere having seances and trying to connect with the other side.  Well known people like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle endorsed the movement.  

A spirit cabinet is one of the many tools that was designed to aid mediums and spiritualist during this time period.  The cabinet was a tool inspired by an audience member viewing a medium.  At the time, mediums put on quite show.  They summoned spirits and made objects move.  Lights flashed, ectoplasm was spewed forth in a dazzling proof that ghosts were among us.  One audience member was skeptical and indicated that mediums could be using the same slight of hand a magician uses to produce such affects.  They said the medium should be bound in a box so they couldn't use slight of hand.

The spirit cabinet was made to accomplish this.  During a seance, a medium was bound in the locked cabinet.  Once bound within the cabinet, the medium would produce an even more amazing show.  Music and light would come from the box. Sometimes ghosts hands would creep out of cracks and crevices.

Of course, in reality, the spirit cabinet made it even easier for the many fraudulent mediums of the time to fake spiritual encounters. Once locked in the box, they could easily escape their bindings and use their hands to manufacture ghostly phenomena.  All they had to do was creep back into their bindings to convince the audience that ghosts had filled the room with the paranormal rather than them.     Sometimes spirit cabinets were little more than a curtain with a chair behind it that the medium hid behind.  

The cabinets many flaws were exposed by stage magicians like Houdini who showed how easy it is to fake the ghostly phenomena from behind a curtain.   This was one of the many nails in the spiritualist coffin that proved that most mediums were frauds and that ghosts didn't move furniture or play music on demand.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Death's Dream Kingdom Free Kindle Give Away Contest!

I have been trapped in a disaster area since last Wednesday when the first tornado sirens went off.  Since that time,  I have been stuck in the dark and  lost away from computers and modern conveniences.   I got my power back last night and that is cause to celebrate and when my computer came back on I realized that my novel, Death's Dream Kingdom has been released.  This gives me double cause to celebrate!

To celebrate Death's Dream Kingdom,  I am going to give away a kindle.  Death's Dream Kingdom  has been released first on kindle and won't be out in other formats until November, so it is time for me to celebrate the kindle by giving them away.  If you are like me and always wanted a kindle but don't want to pay for one, now is your chance to get one.  The rules to this contest are simple.


1. Tweet, facebook, blog, and tell your friends about this contest.
2. Comment below telling how many times and where you posted, talked about, and linked to the contest
     ex. I tweeted 4 times, told 2 friends, and posted the contest on facebook
3. The person who does the most to spread the word about this contest will win a free kindle.
4. In the event of a tie, I will give a way 2 kindles
5. In the event of a three way or greater tie, I will draw names.
6. Winners will be announced on May 23, 2011.

So spread the word and you will get a free kindle this month!  Help me celebrate having a new book out and having the amazing power of electricity!  If you are interested in buying Death's Dream Kingdom and helping me celebrate, you can click on the link below.  Also,  I give extra points to people who buy the book :).