Saturday, January 31, 2009

Red Rose Inn

The Red Rose Inn from Loop Net

The Red Rose Inn was built in 1740 in what's now West Grove, Chester County, on an Indian trail used by both the Lenni-Lenape and the settlers (now the Baltimore Pike) in an area known as "No Man's Land." The property was part of William Penn's grant. It grew rapidly, and many of its' buildings still date back to 1827 or before.

The Red Rose's basement bar area has been victimized by poltergeist activity such as objects being moved, electronics being played with, and a shattered mirror, blamed on Indian Joe (see below). The customers and staff have seen several older spirits there, too, mostly women but also one particularly noticeable old man. He's hard to miss in his loud plaid jacket. They're shy spooks, and disappear in a flash when approached.

The headliner spirits are Emily and Joe. Emily is a young girl that Joe, a Native American, was accused of killing. The locals hung him, only to discover he was innocent. Oooops! They found the real killer wandering in the woods, drunk.

They buried poor Joe in the cellar wall, wrapped in a white sheet, so that there wouldn't be a grave outside to remind them of their rush to judgement. His spirit still inhabits the Inn, roaming the rooms looking for a way out.

But Emily is the most visible ghost. She's been seen on the steps and the main floor, wearing a fancy dress and carrying a doll, still living out her childhood that was so despicably ended.

There's also one other quirk about the Inn. It's called the Red Rose because of its' rental agreement with the original Penn family, which came about when William Penn spent a night there and paid his tab with a single red rose. The annual rent is, to this day, is one red rose, and the deal dates back to the original deed.

This old rite went dormant for awhile, but was revived in 1937. Almost every year since, a direct descendant of Penn receives a rose from the Inn's owners in a public ceremony in Philadelphia on the Saturday after Labor Day.

The bad news is that last we looked, the building was up for sale. The good news is that if you're looking for an inn with a history...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Judge Reddick's Grave

From Matt's Metalworks

Beaver County's Old Judge Reddick loved his horses. He often bragged that his steeds could beat the best anyone else owned. His braggadocio eventually reached the ears of Satan, who took up the challenge – gold if the Judge won, John Reddick's soul if old Scratch won. Reddick couldn't resist the dare, and the race was on.

They met at midnight, and every time the Judge's horse pulled ahead, the Devil's mount blew fire on it. Guess who won? When Reddick was ready to give up the ghost and was nearing Satan's service, he made a strange request of his family.

He wanted buried squarely between the Pennsylvania and Virginia border (The West Virginia Panhandle, which reaches north to the Ohio River, was then still part of the Old Dominion).

That's when the lawyer in Judge Reddick came through. When Satan came callin' for his soul, the Judge demanded extradition papers. After all, where he was heading was well out of the state, right?

When the Devil got the Pennsylvania papers, Reddick rolled over to to the Virginia side of his crypt. When he came with Virginia papers, the Judge rolled over to Pennsylvania. This went on until the statute of limitations ran out on Satan's contract.

Did it really happen that way? Well, when you cross over, go ask the Judge. He did exist, serving on the bench from 1804-1830 while living on his Hanover Township farm. His tomb still sits alone on PA route 168, resting a few hundred yards west of Kendall, on the Pennsylvania – West Virginia state border by Raccoon State Park.

(The tomb is a few hundred yards south of the road leading west from Kendall, on Pa. 168. It's made of cut sandstone and is about 4-10' square, on a hill a short distance from the Swearingen burial ground.)

And it ends up that Judge Reddick really did outsmart Ol' Scratch. When surveyors came around to verify the new West Virginia – Pennsylvania line, they found out that Reddick was actually buried 10 feet inside the PA line. His soul was Satan's for the taking all along, proper papers or not.

Geez, you'd think with all the lawyers collected in Satan's realm, he would have been better served. Good help is so hard to find, even in the fiery pits. But hey, now we know there's at least one barrister whose soul wasn't claimed by ol' Nick. Judge Reddick may have lost the race, but he won the eternal marathon.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Alfred's Victorian

Alfred's Victorian

Middletown is Dauphin County's oldest community, located at the midpoint between Lancaster and Carlisle. The town was laid out in 1755, and the Raymond-Young Mansion is one of its grand dames. And not too surprisingly, it comes with a history.

Now a fine restaurant, the Victorian home was built as the residence of Charles Raymond. It's supposed to be haunted by Emma, the second wife of 1902 owner Simon Cameron Young. She died in 1948, but likes to keep her hand in the going-ons of her old house.

Her rocking chair can be seen rocking back and forth with no one in it. The scent of her lavender perfume can be caught wafting through the air and sometimes her voice is heard. She's been known to toss a thing or two around, and like many spooks, loves to play with electronic gadgets.

In fact, one of the owners, taking a group picture of the staff, caught Emma on a frame in one of Pennsylvania's more famous spook shots. What the heck, why should she be left out of the house portrait?

She isn't alone. One visitor heard the voice of an entity assumed to be the second owner, Redsecker Young, who bought the house from the Raymonds in 1888 and later sold it to Simon (although it could be him, too - the ghostie didn't ID himself), in an upstairs room. He told him "Emma is here," and then said "Out!" after the guest starting snapping some photographs. Some ghosts love paparazzi, some don't. Go figure.

Kelly Weaver and the Spirit Society of Pennsylvania have investigated the place, and feel that Emma is a harmless spirit, attached to her home and trying to show the living that she's still the lady of the manse. They've also heard voices and captured some pretty good EVP's.

They figured the spot was spooky enough that late every autumn, Kelly and her husband host "Haunted Dinners" at Alfred's Victorian. Ya can't beat a steak and a spook during the Halloween bewitching season.

To add to the tale, a reader that lives across the street in a clone of Alfred's Victorian wrote in and said that they made contact with a spirit in their home during a Ouija board session. That's one spooked-out neighborhood!

And if you'd like to read up on Emma and Alfred's Victorian, they're featured in The Big Book of Pennsylvania Ghost Stories by Mark Nesbitt and Patty Wilson, the encyclopedia of eerie for Keystone spooks.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Chief Joc-O-Sot and the Erie Street Cemetery

Joc-O-Sot's grave from

Born in 1810, Joc-O-Sot was a Sauk chief and warrior during the Black Hawk wars of 1832. After a series of massacres, battles with the US militia, and cholera, the Indians were defeated for once and all and sent west.

Joc-O-Sot worked as a fishing and hunting guide in the Cleveland area after the hostilities. He later joined a theatrical troupe run by Dan Marble, and Joc-O-Sot toured Europe in Marble's Wild West show to earn some money for his now impoverished tribe.

He became a celebrity in England, even having a pow-wow with Queen Victoria. But an old wound he received during the war flared up, and he sensed he was on the way to the spirit world.

He hurried back to America, wanting to be buried with his Sauk tribesmen in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Travel wasn't exactly zippy back in his day, and he never quite made it home, getting as far as Cleveland before succumbing in 1844. He was buried in the city's oldest boneyard, the Erie Street Cemetery on Ninth Street.

This didn't sit very well with Joc-O-Sot's spirit, and the first bit of lore claims that his outrage at being buried in Cleveland instead of home manifested itself when he shattered his tombstone. Some blame lightning, but hey, someone had to loosen that bolt from the skies, right?

Other say vandals did the dirty deed, and their story has a spooky twist. They claim that the evil-doers were driven insane by a curse laid on them by Chief Thunderwater, a Seneca that was a local Indian rights activist. He died in 1950, and was buried beside Joc-O-Sot, where we suppose he keeps a watchful eye on the spook of his roaming brother.

And local legend has it that Joc-O-Sot's ghost will wander the grounds until he makes it back to his people. It may be that his spook is all that's left at the cemetery. Some think his body was spirited away, perhaps to another burial site or maybe by medical students or doctors in need of a skeleton.

Erie Cemetery is in a prime real estate spot in Cleveland, and developers have often tried to buy it and dislodge its dead. It's alleged that the protective spook of Joc-O-Sot has dispatched a couple of the land-grabbers to the spirit in the sky in dramatic fashion. One guy even tried to frighten the Chief away by littering his grave with decapitated sheep. But hey, it's pretty tough to scare the dead.

Through the years, Joc-O-Sot has had his own protector. Three stalks of maize grow every year next to the chief's grave. Some say a Sauk woman visits to placate his restless spirit, while others say the gods send the corn to nourish him until he makes his final journey to his tribal lands.

His spirit sometimes crosses the street to haunt Jacobs' Field, home of the Cleveland Indians. Some say it's to show his displeasure at the team mascot, Chief Wahoo, an insult to native Americans throughout the land. Others think it's because the field is built on an old Indian burial grounds.

Either way, a sighting of Joc-O-sot never fares well for the hometown nine, and superstitious fans leave trinkets like feathers and shotglasses on his gravestone, maybe hoping he'll haunt the White Sox instead.

Erie Cemetery has other spooks, too. There's also the Woman in White who is known to flag down drivers near the front gate for a ride home. But hey, the paranormal world is loaded with Resurrection Mary tales. How many Indian chiefs get to spook a ballyard?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Raynham Hall - No, the One in New York!

Raynham Hall from the Raynham Hall Museum

Raynham Hall is the former home of the Townsends, one of the founding families of the Long Island town of Oyster Bay. Now a museum with 20 rooms, the building is a showcase of the community from its revolutionary war days in the 1770s through to the height of its fame in the Victorian Era in the 1870s.

It was built in 1740 by the Townsend family, and has a colorful history dating back to the Revolutionary War. The Townsends were the backbone of a Yankee intelligence group known as the Culper Spy Ring. Their home was used by the British to quarter troops, and the Townsends, being merchants, had free rein of the waterfront, so information was easy to come by and could be gotten out to the Revolutionary commanders by boat.

They once alerted George Washington about a planned British attack on the French fleet landing at Newport, Rhode Island. Once informed of the plan, Washington was able to bluff the enemy into believing he would attack New York City. The British had to withdraw their forces to defend the Big Apple, and the French were able to anchor without interference.

Its first ghost was due to the patriotic diligence of the family. A redcoat Major, John Andre (who was a friend and maybe more of Peggy Shippen, Benedict Arnold's wife), boasted of a letter he received from Arnold. He was ready to surrender his troops at West Point to the British for the right price. The scheme was overheard by one of the Townsend daughters and sent along to Washington, who foiled it before it began.

When Arnold heard that Andre had been captured, he skedaddled to the Vulture, a British warship. The Americans hanged Andre as a spy, but Arnold was never caught. Andre's spook has been seen on horseback roaming the grounds of the estate, perhaps still trying to absorb the lesson of keeping mum.

The Brits helped create another haunt of the home, too. John Simcoe, the commander of the unfortunate Andre, kept a lover in the mansion, Sally Townsend (OK, so they weren't all loyal to the colonial cause).

It's said Sally's spirit still remains in the home, and that her bedroom is frigid to this day, requiring the staff to don a sweater before going into it. Psychics claim the room is occupied by an unhappy spirit. It doesn't take an overdose of ESP to ferret that out.

The aroma of cinnamon and apple have been sniffed in the house, usually by staff near the stairwell by the kitchen. This manifestation is a good omen; it means that the "Ghost of the Kitchen" has accepted and welcomed you into her home. Her spook has been seen on occasion in the kitchen, although she's more often announced by scent than sight.

That's not the only smell associated with the house. In the front lobby, the aroma of pipe smoke and a woodburning stove are often encountered. The area was once a kitchen area of Raynham Hall.

The old servant quarters features the aroma of roses, and shadowy figures have been reported there. They say good help is hard to find, but heck, here you can't get rid of them!

And speaking of help that never left, the ghostie of 1860's laborer Michael Conlin has been seen in the garden and inside the house. He wears a heavy coat with brass buttons, and sometimes materializes as half a spook, with nothing below the torso.

When tour photos are developed, particularly from the children's nursery and sometimes in the master bedroom, orbs often appear. EVPs pick up screams and other sounds not heard when the investigators were present, especially in Mary Townsend's room.

Raynham Hall has been featured on a number of television programs on paranormal activity, and the help and many visitors accept that it's haunted. But hey, every thing's not so spooky there.

The Townsend home is also the the site of the first documented Valentine in the United States, a love letter from Lt. Col. John Graves Simhoe to Sarah Townsend dated February 14, 1779. So not all the vibes are bad.

(By the way, this is NOT the Raynham Hall that's home to the famously photographed Brown Lady. That one is in Norfolk, England, and eerily enough, is the home of a Townsend family, too.)