Orensburg Haunting

On November 16, 1870, a wealthy landowner named Shchapoff found his household in an uproar over a dancing ghost, when he returned to his large country estate near Orensburg, in the Russian province of Uralsk. According to Helena, his 20-year-old wife, their baby daughter had been fussy on the night of the 14th and had not been at all eager to go to sleep. Mrs. Shchapoff asked Maria, the cook, if she would see to the child. Maria entertained the girl with her harmonica, while her mistress and the local miller’s wife gossiped in the living room. When Mrs. Shchapoff heard the sounds of the cook’s feet tapping the floor in a brisk three-step dance, she remarked that when all else failed, Maria danced for the child, which always put the little one to sleep. The miller’s wife was in the act of nodding her head in agreement when she suddenly opened her mouth in both surprise and terror, and screamed that there was someone looking in the window.

Mrs. Shchapoff turned and saw nothing to cause the woman so much alarm. The awkward moment was interrupted as Maria entered the room and told her mistress that her child was now sound asleep. Mrs. Shchapoff thanked the cook and dismissed her for the evening.

A few minutes later, as the two women sat chatting, the miller’s wife once again claimed that she saw something at the window. Mrs. Shchapoff rose from her chair to investigate, but she was halted in her journey to the window by the sound of an uproar in the attic above their heads. At first it seemed to be a flurry of wild rappings that had the two women staring at one another in wide-eyed confusion. Then the pace of the sounds slowed until they began to sound like the three-step Maria had been dancing for the child.

Mrs. Shchapoff was perplexed. The miller’s wife questioned how the cook could have gotten up to the attic without their seeing her pass. Then the two women left the sitting room and walked quietly back to the cook’s quarters. Opening the door just a crack, they were able to see Maria sound asleep in her bed.

Determined to see who had gone up to the loft unnoticed, Mrs. Shchapoff grabbed a lantern from a kitchen shelf, and the two women walked up the stairs to the attic. Although the sounds of the dancing continued, their lantern plainly revealed that there was no one in the loft. Then, as the women beat a hasty retreat down the stairs, the rapping seemed to race ahead of them, rattling the windows and pounding at the walls.

The miller’s wife fled the manor to get her husband and the gardener, and Mrs. Shchapoff went to the nursery to check on the welfare of her daughter. By the time the miller’s wife returned with her husband and the gardener, the rappings and dancing had attained such a volume that both Mrs. Shchapoff’s mother and mother-in-law, as well as Maria, had been awakened by the racket. The two men searched the house and the grounds and found nothing that could explain the bizarre disturbance, which continued until dawn.

At 10:00 P.M. the next evening, the dancing ghost once again began its spirited interpretation of the three-step. The Shchapoff’s servants patrolled the house and the grounds but could find no trace of the invisible dancer who continued to perform and to evade the searchers until dawn. When Mr. Shchapoff returned that next afternoon from his business trip, he scoffed at his young wife’s account and jokingly accused her of getting into his brandy while he had been away. Shchapoff was a no-nonsense landowner who had little patience with superstitious folktales and accounts of ghosts, dancing or otherwise. He grew very impatient when his mother and mother-in-law warned him that something supernatural had visited the house in his absence, substantiating Helena’s story of a dancing ghost.

In a gruff and irritated manner, Shchapoff scolded the ladies for having sat around idly in the evenings, concocting a ghost story that had frightened the servants and distracted them from their work. He sent Maria to fetch the miller, a man he regarded as completely sensible and reliable, to set the matter straight.

The miller didn’t disappoint him. While he admitted that there had been strange noises that had disturbed and confused the entire household, he stated that he had, that very day, removed a pigeon’s nest from under a cornice of the house. It seemed likely to him that the bird had somehow been responsible for the weird noises that had so upset the women and the servants.

That evening after the rest of the household had retired to their rooms quite early, exhausted from their nocturnal ordeals of chasing the eerie tapping sounds, Shchapoff sat down in a chair in his study to read for a while before going to bed. At about 10 o’clock, he was distracted by scratching noises from above his head. Thinking at first that the pesky pigeon had come back to roost under the cornice, he became puzzled when he listened more closely to the sounds. He soon realized the sounds were not those of an animal; rather it sounded as though someone in the room above him was dancing a three-step.

Believing that Helena was having a bit of fun with him, Shchapoff put down his book and began climbing quietly up the stairs to his wife’s room. He stood outside the door for a moment to be certain that he had accurately traced the sound of the dancing. Then, convinced that there was no doubt that the sounds were coming from Helena’s room, he pushed open the door and stood ready to deliver a stern lecture to his young wife.

She lay in her bed, her eyelids closed, in deep sleep. The sounds of dancing had ceased the moment that he had opened the door. There was something strange going on here. Confused and more than a little baffled, Schchapoff started to close the door when a series of rappings sounded from above his wife’s bed. He walked quietly to the wall, thinking he might catch a hidden prankster in the act of hammering on the bedstead. Just as he bent to listen more carefully to the noises, a rap sounded with such force next to his ear that it nearly deafened him.

His wife sat up in bed, screaming in shock and fear. She calmed when she saw her husband standing near her bedside. “What was that?” she demanded. “Did you hear it?” Not wishing to alarm his wife, Shchapoff insisted that he had heard nothing. As if to call him a liar, two explosive knocks seemed to shake the house down to its very foundation. The angry landowner took his pistol from a drawer, slipped on his coat, and declared that he was putting a stop to the nonsense. He got his dogs, roused the servants, and told them that they were going to find out who was responsible for the outrage against his home.

However, Shchapoff found no prankster that night on whom he might vent his spleen. The next day, he enlisted the help of his neighbors as well as his own servants. The crew searched the entire house and examined every foot of the grounds. That night, at Shchapoff’s request, his neighbors stayed to witness the disturbances. The uninvited invisible guest performed well. It danced above the heads of the searchers all night long—and, for a finale, it struck a door with such force that the heavy wooden planking was torn from the hinges.

A month later, on December 20, the Shchapoffs were entertaining guests who openly expressed their skepticism of the phenomena their hosts described as having been active in the house. Angered that their guests would doubt his word, Shchapoff summoned Maria to the parlor and commanded her o perform a three-step, announcing in a loud voice that probably all the ghost needed was a little coaxing and it would come back. At her master’s insistence, Maria danced a brisk little three-step. The cook completed the dance, then looked around the room fearfully as a rapping began at the windows. The assembled guests listened incredulously as they heard an exact replication of Maria’s dance coming from the attic overhead.

The skeptical guests accused Shchapoff of having planted another servant up in the loft, but when a group of doubters went up into the attic to investigate, they found no one.

On New Year’s Eve, 1871, Shchapoff again ordered Maria to dance a three-step in order to induce the dancing ghost to follow her with an act of its own. The country home was filled with guests who heard for themselves the ghostly echo of Maria’s dance coming from the ceiling above their heads. The invisible performer became so animated and enthusiastic that for the first time it made some attempts at vocalization and sang some garbled snatches of Russian folk songs.

After such remarkable phenomena had been produced at two holiday parties, the stories about the mysterious goings-on at the Shchapoffs’ country place spread across Russia. Soon, scientists and spiritualists sought an audience with the dancing ghost, using widely diverse methods of communicating with the strange force.

An investigator by the name of Dr. Shustoff explained the whole phenomena by invoking the magic name of electricity. He maintained that the soil conditions at the country place had produced the weird phenomena. He also theorized that somehow the electrical vibrations might be coming from Mrs. Shchapoff.

Dr. Shustoff’s theory of prankish electrical currents was doomed when the phenomena began to give evidence of increasingly advancing intelligence that could respond to conversation and questions advanced by investigators.

A psychic investigator named Alekseeff devised a series of knocks that he claimed allowed him to communicate with the entity haunting the country estate. According to information gathered by Alekseeff, Mr. Shchapoff had been cursed by the servant of a neighboring miller. For whatever reason, this angry servant so despised Shchapoff that he had maliciously set a devil on the wealthy landowner.

The provincial governor, General Vervekin, appointed a group of individuals to be the official investigators of the disturbances that plagued the Shchapoff estate. The team included Mr. Akutin, an engineer; the aforementioned Dr. Shustoff, an electrical theorist; and Mr. Savicheff, a magazine editor.

This committee eventually decided that Mrs. Shchapoff had been producing the so-called supernatural effects by means of trickery, and Mr. Shchapoff received a sharply worded letter from the governor, warning him not to allow his wife to produce the phenomena again.

In spite of the governor’s demands, the violence of the disturbances at the Shchapoff estate continued to increase. The ghost had acquired incendiary abilities, and Helena Shchapoff was the one who bore the brunt of the attacks. Balls of fire circled the house and bounced against the windows of her room, as if seeking to smash into the house and set it aflame. Dresses that hung unattended in closets burst into flame. Once, a mattress began burning underneath a guest as he readied himself for bed.

The ghastly climax of the haunting phenomena occurred when Mrs. Shchapoff appeared to become a veritable pillar of fire in front of the horrified eyes of the miller and another houseguest. A crackling noise had come from beneath the floor, followed by a long, high-pitched wailing. A bluish spark seemed to jump up at Mrs. Shchapoff, and her thin dress was instantly swathed in flames. She cried out in terror and collapsed into unconsciousness.

The houseguest leapt to his feet and valiantly beat the flames out with his bare hands. The most curious thing about the incident was that the courageous guest suffered severe burns while Mrs. Shchapoff received not a single blister, even though her dress was nearly completely consumed by the flames.

The Shchapoffs had had enough of their encounters with the dancing ghost. When the entity had contented itself with a nightly performance of the three-step, it had merely been a noisy nuisance. Now it had become a vicious terror, quite capable of dealing out fiery destruction. Mr. Shchapoff closed up his country place and made arrangements for a permanent move to the city of Iletski.

The phenomena ceased at once after the Shchapoffs had taken up residence in their town place. Although Helena Shchapoff recovered the health that had been rapidly waning under the onslaughts of the ghost, she died in childbirth eight years after their move.

The Orensburg haunting is an unusual case in many ways. Perhaps, as some have theorized, there actually was a curse levied on Mr. Shchapoff by a disgruntled servant of a neighboring miller. The projected hatred of such an individual may somehow have intensified what had begun as rather ordinary haunting phenomena (e.g., the face at the window, the imitation of the cook’s dancing, the raps on the walls) and transformed them in a force of malicious evil.

Real Ghosts, Restless Spirits, and Haunted Places by Brad Steiger
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Lost City of Helike

The ancient city of Helike (Eliki), situated on the southern shore of the Gulf of Corinth, roughly 93 miles west of Athens, was originally founded in the Early Bronze Age (2600-2300 B.c.). The first prehistoric settlement was submerged beneath the waves about 2,000 years before the city was destroyed. In the eighth century B.C. The poet Homer states that the city of Helike participated in the Trojan War with one ship under the command of Agamemnon. Helike had become a wealthy and successful metropolis, the leader of the 12 cities of the first Achaean league (a union of local city states), and founder of colonies abroad such as Priene, on the coast of Asia Minor, and Sybaris in Southern Italy.

Eliki, also known as Dodekapolis (from the Greek words dodeka meaning twelve and polis meaning city), became a cultural and religious center with its own coinage. Finds from ancient Eliki are limited to two 5th century copper coins, now housed in the Staatliches Museum, Berlin. The obverse shows the head of Poseidon, the city's patron, and the reverse his trident. There was a temple dedicated to the Helikonian Poseidon. Helike's temple and sanctuary of Helikonian Poseidon was famous throughout Classical Greece, and was rivaled only by the Oracle at Delphi, across the Gulf of Corinth.

But all this was to change one terrible night in the winter of 373 B.C. For a period of five days, citizens of the city gazed in bewilderment as snakes, mice, martens, and other creatures fled from the coast and made for higher ground. Then, on the fifth night, "immense columns of flame" (now known as earthquake lights) were witnessed in the sky, followed by a massive earthquake, and a towering 32 foot high tsunami wave. The coastal plain was submerged, and as Helike collapsed, the tsunami rushed in and dragged its buildings and its inhabitants out with the retreating waters. The city and its surroundings disappeared beneath the sea, along with 10 Spartan ships that had been ancored in the harbor. The neighboring city of Boura, and the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, were also destroyed.

When a rescue party arrived the next morning, nothing remained of the once great city but the tops of the trees in Poseidon's sacred grove, peeping above the waves. Perhaps because Helike had been a revered center for worship of Poseidon (the god of earthquakes and the sea), a tradition originated among its jealous neighbors that the city's destruction was punishment sent by the angry god for desecrating his sanctuary. Following the disaster, the former territory of Helike was doled out between its neighbors, with the city of Aegio taking over leadership of the Achaean League.
Hundreds of years later a Roman city was built on the site, which also appears to have been partly destroyed by an earthquake in the fifth century A.D. For centuries after the disaster ancient writers such as Pliny, Ovid, and Pausanias reported that the submerged ruins of Helike could be glimpsed on the sea floor. The Greek scientific writer, astronomer, and poet, Eratosthenes (276-194 B.C.) visited the site and recorded reports by local ferrymen of an upright bronze statue of Poseidon submerged in an inland lagoon, where it often trapped the nets of fishermen. But soon afterwards the area silted over and the location became lost.

In 1861, German archaeologists visiting the region obtained a bronze coin of Helike featuring a splendid head of Poseidon, but nothing else surfaced from the ancient site. Ancient writers had all stated that the remains of the city lay submerged beneath the Corinthian Gulf, but for decades numerous expeditions searched for it without success.

 The Helike Delta, with the Gulf of Corinth at the left

In 1988 the Helike Project was formed to locate the lost city, but a 1988 sonar survey under their auspices revealed no trace beneath the sea. Consequently, director of the Helike Project, archaeologist Dora Katsonopoulou, and Dr. Steven Soter, of the American Museum of Natural History, decided to investigate the coastal plain.

Systematic excavations of the Helike Project started in 2000. The first trial trenches opened on the basis of evidence from topographical studies, bore holes and geophysical surveys, revealed buried remains in various locations along the plain dated on the basis of the excavation finds to the Early Bronze Age, Late Bronze Age, Geometric, Classical, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods.

In 2001, a few feet beneath the mud and gravel, the team discovered ruins of Classical buildings, which turned out to be the remains of the city of Helike destroyed by the earthquake of 373 B.C. The location of the ruins lay almost half a mile inland, which explains why no one had found them beneath the sea. Analyses of the microscopic organisms preserved in the layer of fine dark clay covering the buildings revealed that the site had been drowned by a shallow inland lagoon, which had subsequently silted up. The discovery of sea shells and the possible remains of seaweed on the site are evidence that Helike's ruins were probably at one time beneath the sea.

The remains of one Classical building graphically illustrated the fate of the city. One of its walls had collapsed in a seaward direction, clear evidence to support destruction by the backwash of a giant wave. Amongst finds of demolished walls, pottery fragments, and terracotta idols, the excavators found a mint silver coin with a representation of Apollo wearing a laurel wreath, cast in the neighboring town of Sikyon a few decades before the earthquake struck. The sad fate of this once great Classical city is thought by many to have been the inspiration for the legend of Atlantis, first recorded by Athenian philosopher Plato a few years after the Helike earthquake, in 360 B.C. A BBC Horizon documentary Helike- The Real Atlantis, made in 2002, makes this claim for the site.

The area around ancient Helike is one of the most seismically active in Europe, and at least 4,000 years of ancient settlements on the site have flourished and been destroyed by earthquakes. So it is hardly surprising that the ancient city was the center of a cult dedicated to Poseidon, the god of earthquakes. In August 1817, an earthquake preceded by a sudden explosion destroyed five villages in the place where Helike once stood. In 1861, 8 miles of coastline sunk about 6 feet, and a 597 foot wide coastal belt of coast was submerged beneath the waves. In June 1995, while the Helike Project team were working in the area, an earthquake of 6.2 on the Richter scale struck, killing 10 people in the adjacent town of Aigion, and demolishing a hotel in modern Eliki, killing 16.

Dr. Steven Soter collected many descriptions of odd events preceding this quake, which have overtones of the ancient accounts of the earthquake that destroyed Helike. People heard fierce winds when the air was still outside, dogs howled unaccountably, there were subterranean explosions, strange lights in the sky, and fireballs. Huge numbers of octopuses were seen by local fishermen and, the night before the earthquake, numerous dead mice were found on the road, all of which had been run over by cars while trying to make their escape into the mountains. These incidents are reminiscent of the behavior of animals in the 2004 tsunami that struck Sri Lanka, southern India, western coast of Sumatra (Indonesia),  and Thailand, caused by a huge 9.15 Richter earthquake in the Indian Ocean. In Sri Lanka, where tens of thousands of people lost their lives, animals appear to have fled inland before the tsunami struck. Even though the tsunami caused a heavy loss of human life in the area of Yala National Park, Sri Lanka's biggest wildlife reserve, no dead animals were found. Experts believe that animals possess a sixth sense with which they sense a natural disaster. This is certainly suggested by their behavior before the Helike earthquakes.

Hidden History by Brian Haughton;

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Mystery of the Romanian Romeo and Juliet

On April 2013, an archaeological team from the Cluj-Napoca Institute of Archaeology and History of Art have uncovered several Middle ages skeleton in the courtyard of a former Dominican monastery. Two skeletons, of a young man and a woman, were found clearly buried together with their hands clasped for eternity. According to Daily Mail, the team may have discovered a Romanian Romeo and Juliet after unearthing the bodies of a young couple who were buried holding hands. They were surprised when discovering the couple holding hands as double burials were extremely rare in that period.

Main researcher Adrian Rusu said that several graves had been found in what was the courtyard of the monastery, including the couple buried together. The couple are thought to have lived between 1450 and 1550, as the grave’s position and proximity to the monastery are typical of this period.

 The mysterious skeletons holding each other hands

The remains belonged to “a young couple of around 30 years of age, a man and a woman buried together, facing each other and holding hands. It’s a strange case, a sort of Romeo and Juliet. The man appears to have died in an accident, as the sternum was broken by a blow from a blunt object and the woman buried with him could have had a heart attack on hearing the news, there isn’t really any other explanation for her death,” said Adrian Rusu.

Mr Rusu explained it is unlikely she killed herself - and if she had they would not have been buried together like the were in a holy place. Because suicide was regarded as a sin in the Medieval Ages.

He stated that the team also discovered the partial skeleton of a child but also lower leg bones belonging to a fourth skeleton. The works conducted by specialists from the Institute of Archaeology and from the Cluj-based Transylvania’s National History Museum, are part of a project to rehabilitate the former Dominican church in Cluj-Napoca, a monument dating back to the 14th Century.


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Zanzibar Demon

The scene is modern-day Zanzibar, where a terrible monster, the infamous “popobawa,” is swooping into bedrooms at night and raping men—particularly skeptical men. The demonic beasts name comes from the Swahili words for bat and wing, and indeed the creature is described as having, in addition to a dwarfs body with a single cyclopean eye, small pointed ears, and batlike wings and talons. According to local villagers, it is especially prone to attack “anybody who doesn’t believe”. One 1995 victim was a quiet-spoken peasant, a farmer named Mjaka Hamad, who said he does not believe in spirits. He first thought he was having a dream. However, 'I could feel it,’ he said, “something pressing on me. I couldn’t imagine what sort of thing was happening to me. You feel as if you are screaming with no voice.” He went on to say: “It was just like a dream but then I was thinking it was this popobawa and he had come to do something terrible to me, something sexual. It is worse than what he does to women.”

The demon struck Zanzibar in 1970 and again briefly in the 1980s. According to The Guardian, “Even those who dismiss the attacks as superstition nonetheless admit that for true believers they are real. Zanzibar’s main hospital has treated men with bruises, broken ribs and other injuries, which the victims blame on the creature”.

In 2007, reports of the demon's existence have been common for many years in Zanzibar, where locals claim it originated. The BBC's John Ngahyoma in Dar es Salaam says not many people actually believe that the demon exists and there have been no sightings. But Mbaruku Ibrahim, who hails from Zanzibar, says the story of the demon is common there and people in his village on Pemba island sleep beside a huge fire outside their houses whenever it is said to appear. The story goes that the bat is able to transform itself into a man at night and it has also been blamed for rapes of women.

 Map of Zanzibar Archipelago

Popobawa, is the name of an evil spirit, or shetani, which is believed by residents to have first appeared on the Tanzanian island of Pemba. While some people said its simply a Zanzibaran version of a physiological and psychological phenomenon known as a “waking dream.” One of the characteristics of such a dream, known more technically as a hypnopompic or hypnagogic hallucination (depending on whether one is, respectively, waking up or going to sleep), is a feeling of being weighted down or even paralyzed. Alternately, one may “float” or have an out-of-body experience. Other characteristics include extreme vividness of the dream and bizarre and/or terrifying content. Similar feelings were also experienced by persons in the Middle Ages who reported nighttime visitations of an incubus (a male demon that lay with women) or a succubus (which took female form and lay with men). In Newfoundland the visitor was called the “Old Hag”.

In the infamous West Pittston, Pennsylvania, “haunted house” case of 1986, tenant Jack Smurl claimed he was raped by a succubus. As “demonologist” Ed Warren described it: He was asleep in bed one night and he was awakened by this haglike woman who paralyzed him. He wanted to scream out, of course—he was horrified by what he saw, the woman had scales on her skin and white, scraggly hair, and some of her teeth were missing—but she paralyzed him in some manner. Then she mounted him and rode him to her sexual climax.

Such accounts come from widespread places and times. For example, consider this interesting encounter, which occurred in the seventeenth century. It concerned one Anne Jeffries, a country girl from Cornwall. In 1645 she apparently suffered a convulsion and was found, semi-conscious, lying on the floor. As she recovered, she began to recall in detail how she was accosted by a group of six little men. Paralyzed, she felt them swarm over her, kissing her, until she felt a sharp pricking sensation. Blinded, she found herself flying through the air to a palace filled with people. There, one of the men (now her size) seduced her, and suddenly an angry crowd burst in on them and she was again blinded and levitated. She then found herself lying on the floor surrounded by her friends. This account obviously has striking similarities to many UFO abduction accounts—some of which, like those of Whitley Strieber’s own “abduction” experiences described in Communion (1988), are fully consistent with hypnopompic or hypnagogic hallucinations. Still other entities that have appeared in classic waking dreams are ghosts and angelic visitors.

The Mystery Chronicles :"More Real-Life X-Files" by Joe Nickell;

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Flying Humanoid of Iowa

In December 1903, a horrible "winged beast” also known as the "Flying Humanoid of Iowa" terrorized the town of Van Meter, Iowa. The monster put in its appearance Monday night. U.G. Griffith, an implement dealer, drove into town at 1 A.M. and saw what seemed to be an electric searchlight on Maher and Grigg’s store. While he gazed it sailed across to another building and then disappeared. According to the Watertown Herald [New York, December 5, 1903], Dr. A.C. Olcott, who slept in his office on main street, was awakened by a bright light shining in his face. The doctor “grabbed a shotgun and ran outside the building, where he saw a monster, seemingly half human and half beast, with great bat-like wings. A dazzling light that nearly blinded him came from a blunt, horn-like protuberance in the middle of the animal’s forehead, and it gave off a stupefying odor that almost overcame him. The doctor discharged his weapon and fled into his office, barring doors and windows, and remained there in abject terror until morning.”

Flying Humanoid of Iowa - half human and half beast, with great batlike wings 
(art by Ricardo Pustanio)

Peter Dunn, cashier of the only bank in town, prepared to guard the funds with a shotgun loaded with buckshot. At two o’clock, he was blinded by a bright light. “Eventually he recovered his senses sufficiently to distinguish the monster and fired through the window. The plate glass and sash were torn out, and the monster disappeared. Next morning imprints of large three-toed feet were discernible in the soft earth. Plaster casts of them were taken.”

“That night Dr. O. V. White saw the monster climbing down a telephone pole, using a beak much in the manner of a parrot. As it struck the ground it seemed to travel in leaps like a kangaroo, using its huge, featherless wings to assist. It gave off no light. He fired at it, and he [believed] he wounded it. The shot was followed by an overpowering odor. Sidney Gregg, attracted by the shot, saw the monster flying away.”

“But the climax came the following night. The whole town was aroused by this time. Professor Martin, principal of the schools, decided that from the description it was an antediluvian [before the great Biblical Flood] animal.”

“Shortly after midnight J. L. Platt, foreman of the brick plant, heard a peculiar sound in an abandoned coal mine, and as the men had reported a similar sound before[,] a body of volunteers started an investigation. Presently the monster emerged from the shaft, accompanied by a smaller one. A score of shots were fired without effect.” 
“The whole town was aroused, and a vigil was maintained the rest of the night, but without result until just at dawn, when the two monsters returned and disappeared down the shaft.”

Real Monsters, Gruesome Critters, and Beasts From the Darkside by Brad Steiger;

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Real Monsters, Gruesome Critters, and Beats From the Darkside by Brad Steiger page 91
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Barnsley Garden

A golf resort known as Barnsley Gardens located in Adairsville, Georgia, United States was rumored has been cursed by Cherokee Indians. Barnsley Gardens has a past filled with love, loss, and legends. Originally known as Woodlands, the plantation was established by Godfrey Barnsley for the love of his life, his wife Julia. In 1823, eighteen-year-old Godfrey Barnsley sailed from his native England to Savannah, Georgia. In Savannah, he became a clerk for a cotton shipping firm and rose quickly in the cotton world. By 1834, he had become one of the top cotton merchants in the south. He also aspired to build a big house with Mediterranean-style villa with stucco walls and soaring towers surrounded by springs, exotic gardens and marble statuary from around the world.

While living and working in Savannah, he met Julia Scarborough, the daughter of a prominent merchant and financier. They fell in love and were married December 24, 1828. Barnsley wanted to find a location with a cooler climate where their 6 children would to be healthier. It was in Cass County (now known as Bartow County), that he found what he was looking for. Until recently, the Cherokee Indians had lived in that area and many of them believed the land to be cursed. Barnsley had been told that this was a cursed area and he would not be wise to build there but, he had found what he wanted and was going to build his home there.

 Barnsley Garden and the Manor House Ruins

Later Barnsley purchasing large tracts of the old Cherokee Indian Lands and began to create a grand Estate and Gardens, a prominent oasis amidst the lovely mountains of Northwest Georgia that he named… “Woodlands“. Trees, plants, and shrubs, along with thousands of priceless collections from the four corners of the World were transported to Woodlands, the illustrious dream home he had long planned for his beloved Julia.

Everything went according to plan at first. The Barnsley's arrived in 1841 and settled into a temporary log cabin while construction on the main house began. They planted gardens, built playgrounds and dug fish ponds. Gradually, the Woodlands grew to encompass more than 10,000 acres.

Three years later tragedy struck. While visiting her doctor in Savannah, Julia became very ill and soon died of a lung ailment. Barnsley was devastated by the loss of his wife. In his grief, he threw himself into his work and left his 6 children in the care of a governess for more than a year. Later, he said he felt her wife's presence at the site telling him to finish the house for him and his children. The mansion was built in the style of an Italian villa by the architect Andrew Jackson Downing. He built a library, billiards room, two drawing rooms, reception hall and separate quarters for housekeepers and grounds-men. He stuffed the house with expensive furniture and his priceless collection of paintings and other art objects.

Each day after the workers left, he would wander the gardens, weeping and calling out his dead wife's name. He sought desperately to establish contact, to communicate with his wife's spirit.

On many occasions visitors to the Woodlands spotted the wispy form of a young woman gliding through the gardens or wandering across the acorn-shaped hill on which the mansion stood. Some caught glimpses of a young woman's forlorn face peering from tower windows. Those who had known Julia swore the apparition bore a striking resemblance to Barnsley's wife.

Unfortunately, Julia's death was only the beginning of misfortunes that would plague Barnsley for the rest of his life. Freakish accidents claimed the lives of several of his children, while the collapse of the Southern economy following the Civil War laid waste to his estate and ruined him financially.

Some say the trouble was linked to an old Indian curse. According to legend, a Cherokee chief cursed the ground because the fegeral government uprooted his people in the 1830s and sent them marching westward. No white man would ever know peace on the ground, which the Cherokee claimed was sacred.

Nobody thought much about the curse until Julia's death. Not long after Julia's death, Barnsley's youngest son died in a fatal accident. In the autumn of 1858 his teenage daughter died in the house. That same year, another son was killed by Chinese pirates while in the Orient searching for exotic plants for the estate's formal gardens. In Savannah, a son-in-law was crushed to death while overseeing a transfer of logs.

Eventually, Barnsley blamed his misfortune on the curse, and sought out mediums, psychics and religious leaders to help undo the old Indian's curse.

A few months later, with the outbreak of the Civil War, Barnsley was left alone with his unfinished manor house. His estate now lay in shambles, along with his dream of becoming one of the most prosperous planters in the South. Godfrey Barnsley died in New Orleans in 1873. His body returned to the family burial plot at Woodlands. His North Georgia Estate would later become known as Barnsley Gardens.

On his deathbed, Barnsley reported begged a minister to rid the evil curse on his property. It was too late to bring back his family, or to restore his health and fortune, but at least he hoped the future owners would be spared misfortune and grief.

In 1874, a tornado swirled in from the north, blowing off the mansion's roof and scattering his exotic planting to the four winds. Unable to rebuild or even keep up the ground, Barnsley's descendants simply let the old estate fall to ruin.

Almost 150 years later, in 1988 Prince Hubertus Fugger purchases the estate, reviving and expanding the Historic Gardens so that more than 200 varieties of roses thrive. The remains of the Manor House Ruins are restored and Barnsley Gardens Resort is born.

In the summer of 1989, another Cherokee returned to the estate to undo the old chief's curse. Richard Bird, a medicine man from Cherokee, North Carolina, said he knew something was wrong the moment he stepped onto the property. "There was definitely something unexplained when we got here...there was something," he told reporters.

Bird was hired to perform a "casting out" ceremony by an attorney representing the estate's new owner. The ceremony must have worked, because the estate has apparently been free of trouble ever since.

In the Realm of Ghosts and Hauntings by E. Randall Floyd;

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Museum of Purgatory

The Museum of Purgatory is entirely contained within one small room of the Church of the Sacred Heart (Chiesa del Sacro Cuore del Suffragio) in the Prati neighborhood of Rome – on the same side of the Tiber River as Vatican City. This museum is the smallest museums in the world and houses the most unusual collections: an amazing collection of books, paintings and fabrics bearing traces of ghosts from Purgatory. Scorched fingerprints on prayer books, handprints burnt on to wooden tables, and singed pillowcases and shirt sleeves seem to be the purgatory equivalent of paper and pen. One day in 1898 the most inexplicable things started to happen in the church, a fire broke out in one of the annexed chapels, but when Father Victor - once the fire had been put out - went back into the chapel he found the mysterious image of a distraught face drawn on one of the blackened walls. The priest thought it was a ghost trying to communicate with the living and from that day on he devoted his whole life to setting up this museum.

Hand prints which appear to be burned onto the pages of books

The museum, about 100 years old, was the brainchild of Victor Jouet, a French priest who travelled to Belgium, France, Germany and Italy, scooping up relics to display in his gothic church on the banks of the Tiber. Victor Jouet, was supposedly inspired to build this purgatorial museum after a fire destroyed a portion of the original Chiesa del Sacro Cuore del Suffragio, leaving behind the scorched image of a face that he believed to be a trapped soul. Jouet died in the museum's only room in 1912, surrounded by his treasures, and nothing has been added to the museum since.

There are 10 important relics inside the museum:

1. Photographic reproduction of the altar of Our Lady of the Rosary located in a chapel which existed before 1900 between the present church and the religious house.

2. Three finger-prints on the prayer book of Maria Zaganti of the Parish of St. Andrew in Poggio Berni (Rimini), left by the deceased Palmira Rastelli, the parish priest’s sister, on 5 March 1871.

3. The apparition, in 1875, of Luisa Le Sénèchal (born at Chanvrières; died on 7 May1873), to her husband Luigi Le Sénèchal, in their house at Ducey (Manche-France), asking him to pray for her and leaving as a sign the print of five fingers on his night-cap.

4. A photocopy (the original is kept at Winnemberg near Warendorf in Westfalia, Germany), of a burn mark made on the apron of Sister M. Herendorps, a lay sister of the Benedictine Monastery of Winnemberg, on Saturday 13 October 1696 by the hand of the deceased Sr. Mary Care Schoelers, a choir sister of the same order, a victim of the plague of 1637.

5. A photo of the mark made by the deceased Mrs. Leleux, on the sleeve of her son Joseph’s shirt, when she appeared to him on the night of 21 June 1789 at Wodecq (Belgium).

6. A finger print left by the pious Sister Mary of St. Luigi Gonzaga, when she appeared to Sister Margareth of the Sacred Heart, on the night between 5 and 6 June 1894.

7. Marks left on a small wooden table and on the sleeve and chemise of the Venerable Mother Isabella Fornari, abbess of the Poor Clares of the Monastery of St. Francis in Todi. The four marks were left by the deceased Fr. Panzini, former Abbot Olivetano of Mantua, on the 1st November 1731.

8. Mark left on the copy of «The Imitation of Christ» belonging to Margherite Demmerlé of Ellinghen Parish (diocese of Metz) by her mother-in-law who appeared to in 1815, thirty years after her death in 1785. 

9. Fiery finger prints by the deceased Joseph Schitz when he touched with his right hand the (German) prayer book of his brother George on 21 December 1838 at Sarralbe (Lorraine).

10. Photocopy of a ten lire Italian banknote. Between 18 August and 9 November 1919 a total of thirty such notes were left at the Monastery of St. Leonardo in Montefalco by a deceased priest who asked for Masses to be said.

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Tolkien Mysterious Ring

On April 2nd 2013, an ancient Roman gold ring are putting on display at The Vyne, Hampshire (now owned by the National Trust). The ring, which was found in a field in Silchester, Hampshire in 1785, believed to have inspired JRR Tolkien to write "The Hobbit." It is linked by a name inscribed on it to a Roman tablet - Senicianus. The ring is larger than an average ring (diameter of 25mm and weighing 12g) and is believed to date from the 4th century was in the collection of the Chute family – which for generations was interested in politics, collecting, and antiquarian research – for centuries before the house came to the National Trust in the 1930s. This ancient artifact is also inset with an image of the goddess Venus, and lay forgotten in the library of the National Trust property for several years.

The ring was probably found in 1785 by a farmer ploughing a few miles away within the walls of Silchester, one of the most enigmatic Roman sites in the country – a town which flourished before the Roman invasion, was abandoned by the 7th century and was never reoccupied. There are no details of exactly when it was found, but historians assume the farmer sold it to the history loving wealthy family at The Vyne. It was a strikingly odd object, 12g of gold so large that it would only fit on a gloved thumb, ornamented with a peculiar spiky head wearing a diadem and a Latin inscription reading: "Senicianus live well in God".

 The mysterious gold ring inscribed in Latin

A few decades later (early 19th century) and 100 miles away, more of the story turned up. At Lydney in Gloucestershire, a Roman site known locally as the Dwarf's Hill, a tablet with an inscribed curse was found, also featuring Senicianus. Written on it was a plea from a Roman called Silvianus, asking Nodens, the god of the Lydney temple, to return a ring, stolen by Senicianus, and placing a curse of ill health on the thief. The translation reads: "To the God Nodens. Silvianus has lost a ring ... among those who bear the name of Senicianus to none grant health until he bring back the ring to the temple of Nodens."

Lydney was re-excavated by the maverick archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler, who called in JRR Tolkien in 1929 to advise on the odd name of the god – and also spotted the connection between the name on the curse and the Chute family's peculiar ring. It seems that Senicianus only got as far as Silchester before he lost his booty.

Tolkien was a Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University, started writing The Hobbit within a year of learning of the ring in 1929. He visited the Temple of Nodens on a number of occasions. The area around the temple was known as Dwarf's Hill, believed to have been an Iron Age fort containing mines which some suggest was the inspiration for the dwarves in The Hobbit.

How the ring came to reside at The Vyne is unknown but the owner, Chaloner Chute, included information about the ring in his history of the building in 1888.

Referring to the Ring of Power in Tolkien’s work, expert Dr Lynn Forest-Hill (the education officer for the Tolkien Society) said: “Exhibition visitors can decide for themselves: is this The One Ring?"


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Zana the Ape Woman

In 1850, a group of hunters were prowling the Ochamchir region of Georgia in Russia when they were astonished by the sight of a young female wild woman. She looked somewhat human, but also had many ape-like features. With great difficulty, they captured the woman and brought her to civilization for study where they named her Zana. Zana didn't look quite human either. Unlike other feral captures, which were obviously human in appearance, she had thick arms, legs and fingers, a massive bosom and was covered with dark hair. More primitive still was her behavior, which was so vicious that she had to be kept caged for the first few years of her captivity.

The details of her life in the Russian village are sketchy, but apparently Zana's behavior mellowed after a few years and she was taught to perform such domestic tasks as grinding corn. It was said that she had a remarkable tolerance for the cold and disliked being in a heated room.

Although Zana never learned to communicate through human speech, she obviously had developed social abilities since she gave birth to several children sired by various human fathers. How these pregnancies came about exactly is unclear, but it is known that Zana accidentally killed at least one of her children by trying to bathe it in a cold river. Apparently, she thought her offspring had the same tolerance to cold as she did.

The father, meanwhile, gave away four of the surviving children to local families, for their protection. Unlike their mother, the children did learn to speak and they eventually had children of their own. The two boys, Dzhanda and Khwit Genaba (born 1878 and 1884), and the two girls, Kodzhanar and Gamasa Genaba (born 1880 and 1882), were assimilated into normal society, married, and had families of their own.

The complex of human features, inherited from his father, was dominant in them and overruled the mother's line of descent. Khwit (also spelled Kvit), who died at the age of 65 or 70, was described by his fellow-villagers as little different from the human norm, except for certain small divergences. Khwit was powerfully built, had dark skin, but he inherited scarcely anything from Zana's facial appearance. He was extremely strong, difficult to deal with and quick to pick a fight. In fact, he lost his right hand after one of the many fights he had with his fellow-villagers, but his left hand sufficed him to mow and do other work on a collective farm, and even climb trees. When old, he moved to the town of Tkvarcheli where he eventually died, but he was taken back for burial at Tkhina.

Zana the Ape Woman

Zana herself died in 1890. One of her sons Khwit died in 1954. There were rumours that his father was in fact Edgi Genaba himself, but in the census he was put down under a family-name of Sabekia. It is significant that Zana was buried in the family cemetery of the Genabas, and that the two youngest children of Zana were brought up by Genaba's wife. Her grandchildren, according to researchers, had dark skin, negroid features and were extraordinarily strong.

The skull of Khwit is still extant, and was examined by Dr. Grover Krantz in the early 1990s. He pronounced it to be entirely modern, with no Neanderthal features at all. If Krantz's verdict on the skull is correct, and the skull itself is indeed that of Zana's son, it would indicate that Zana may have been a member of an isolated hunter gatherer tribe so culturally different from her captors' society as to make Zana seem non-human to them, even though she was indeed a modern human. Another account by Russian anthropologist M.A.Kolodieva described the skull as significantly different from the normal males from Abkhazia: the skull "approaches closest the Neolithic Vovnigi II skulls of the fossil series".


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