Archive for the ‘Unusual Findings’ Category

Sources: Find a Grave, Atlas Obscura, The Milwaukee Journal, coned.com, youtube, British Psychology Uk, Actually going to school < yes I can say this for once!

Homer Lusk Collyer – 6th November 1881 -21st March 1947

Langley Wakeman Collyer – 3rd October 1885 to approx. 9th March 1947

The brothers became infamous for their bizarre natures and their obsessive-compulsive hoarding. They lived at 2078 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, New York City in the USA. Fifth Avenue is one the most expensive streets in the world, Upper Fifth Avenue is known as Millionaire’s Row. The brothers lived there but these days it is Collyer Brother Park, in their memory and the property is long gone. It was a Harlem brownstone property, the material was very popular at the time and examples are widely seen around Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware for example.

The brothers were the son of Dr Herman Livingston Collyer, 1857-1923, and his first cousin, Susie Gage Frost Collyer, 1856-1959. They had their first child, a daughter, in 1880 called Susan, who died when she was only four months old. Following that tragedy, they had Homer Lusk, born 6th November 1881. 3rd October 1885 and Langley Wakeman was born, both brothers went on to attend Columbia University. Homer earned a degree in admiralty law, Langley studied both engineering and chemistry. Langley was also an established concert pianist and in 1909 Herman moved the family into 2078 Fifth Avenue.

Dr Collyer was eccentric himself and sometime in 1919 the married couple separated, I was unable to locate an exact reason for it, I found her memorial online and it said she was buried 27th January 1929 of Carditis (inflammation of the heart). The two brothers stayed with their father, and it is also worth noting that in this era separation was very unusual, it would have likely caused gossip in the area. When Dr Collyer died, he left everything to his sons, they brought all of his possessions back to the home, including medical instruments and when Susan died she left them the property, they continued to live there for the rest of their lives. They socialised for about four years after that and Homer practised law whilst Langley worked as a piano dealer.

In 1933, Homer lost his eyesight due to having haemorrhage in the back of his eyes. This started the withdrawal from society as Langley left his job in order to care for his brother. They then ended up with more things to consider, they were fearful of changes in the area as their own neighbourhood was suffering from the Great Depression; they also seemed to be uncomfortable with the new African American community coming into nearby empty apartments. When asked about their self-imposed exile it was Langley who stated, “we don’t want to be bothered.”

With the rumours of local interest in the brothers growing there were now crowds coming to look at the property, no doubt adding to their growing sentiment stated above. The Milwaukee Journal reported on that fact that local teenagers had thrown rocks at their windows and this prompted them to sure up the property even more, to try and stop burglary and crime against them they then booby trapped the house and used all the things they had hoarded to make warrens and tunnels through it. It had got to the point they were making nests to stop in around the place.

Langley told a reporter he had to bath, groom and read to his brother and that he would play piano as part of looking after him. Homer was being cared for by diet and rest, as both men seemed resilient to the idea of any doctors intervention, even to the point that they did not seek any medical advice when Homer was left paralysed by inflammatory rheumatism, he was now blind and paralysed in the property and solely dependent on Langley. They had been brought up by a doctor and they felt they already knew enough to handle it all.

At some point Langley turned to going out after midnight, avoiding the crowds and witnesses so that he could get food and water from the garbage, or to collect from butchers and grocers who were throwing food away. He would bring it all back for this brother and by the early 1930’s the house was in disrepair and then in 1937 the telephone was disconnected. They had failed to pay their bills so the gas, electricity and water were disconnected in 1938, so they warmed the house with a small kerosene lamp (sounds safe…) and then the water had to be collected from a water pump in the local park. Their only connection to the outside world was a crystal radio. The home-made radio was created by Langley and they are sold these days as an educational toy.

The neighbours and shopkeepers would explain that whilst he was polite and clam, he was also ‘crazy’. Langley was fiercely protective of his brother and spent $7,500 on the property next to them when he found out it was being used to spy on them. There was a small fire in 1941, Langley would not let firemen speak to Homer when they were called out to extinguish it. 2077 Fifth Avenue, the neighbours place, was repossessed in 1943. Langley said as they had no income they should not pay income tax, there were rumours that they were sat on piles of cash, they didn’t trust depositing it, but this seems to be unfounded.

They came under public scrutiny again, workers from Consolidated Edison were sent to the home in 1939 to remove the gas meters, they were met with hostility. In November 1942, Bowery Savings Bank began eviction procedures and sent a clean-up crew to the place.  Neighbours summoned the police over Langley yelling at the workers, the police tried to force their way in and got met by the wall of junk, they found Langley in there who wrote a cheque for $6,700 without comment, then he ordered them all off the property.

21st March 1947, and a man identifying himself as ‘Charles Smith’ phoned the police about there being a dead body in the property. The caller said there was a smell of decomposition, a squad of emergency workers had to basically begin removing trash and goods from the property to get inside. It took five hours to get through the door by removing the obstruction from the door, they finally found Homer’s body there with his head resting on his knees. The medical examiner said the older brother had been dead for 10 hours, the ME confirmed his identity then said he had died of starvation and heart disease. At this stage it was believed that Langley had left the property and his neighbour was identified as the caller using ‘Charles Smith’, then a policeman was posted at the property to wait for his brothers return.

Langley did not show up after his brother’s funeral on the 1st April. A manhunt was set for him, sightings for the man were made across nine states and the police continued to clear the property as they waited for news. On the 8th April they found the body of Langley Wakeman only 10 feet away from his brother, the smell of decomposition had been caused by his body and not that of Homer, it was estimated he may have died about 9th March. The theory posed, and most widely accepted, was that he had been attempting to get to his brother when he set off one of his own booby traps and was crushed by debris. It seemed that with this both men’s fate had been sealed.

The property then had to be cleaned out, some sold, some passed to the hands of collectors and around 120 tons of rubbish and objects were removed. The obsessive-compulsive hoarder objects were mostly disposed of and eventually the property was demolished. Modern firefighters have been known to use the term Collyer’s Mansion when dwellings are dangerous due to hoarding, there have been TV shows, plays and stories that use their case as influences in their creaton.

Overall it is worth remembering that OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder, is an issue that can come about in many forms. Quite often it is thrown out as a term for someone who is very meticulous and orderly, it is a concern when those things begin to affect your every day life. Around 2.3% of the diagnosed population are known to have this to a life-affecting level, self-diagnosis is not counted in these figures (and nor should it – get help if you think you have it). OCD is linked to trauma, there are differential diagnosis that also come into play, anxiety, depression and eating disorders along with OCD Personality Disorder come under this complicated bracket. It is also known that OCD affects men more often than women.

The reality is that these two men lived in dangerous conditions, the inability to know they needed help led them to be shut off from the world and they were in sub-par living conditions. Could they have been helped? Could Homer have lived longer if he had been found sooner? Ultimately there is no answer for this, but I do think it’s worth keeping an eye on how someone lives and if you are concerned discuss it with them if you think you can. Have I seen Hoarders? Yes, did I like it? Well actually I found it very hard to watch the TV show because I do keep lots of things that might be seen as unnecessary, and I also try to say things like “I might need it.” How have I learnt to try and reduce that threat? I have a rule that if it is not “used” or of true sentimental value then I shall remove it and sent it to charity or pass it on… and with that note I am off to clean my desk for the fourth time since starting to write this blog!

Known also as Kanontsistóntie’s it’s origins come from the Iroquois people (Native Americans). Folklore says that the Flying Heads drove the native’s away from what is now the state of New York, into the Adirondack Mountains before the European settlers arrived. The legend of the event kept the neighbouring tribes from the area and whilst the legend survives it’s unfortunate that the tribe does not.

The hill where the unknown tribe had been is said to be cursed and hotels built there had short life spans, all three there mysteriously burnt to the ground.

An original story passed down details that one year there had been a severe winter, the tribes hunting and fishing had failed and whole families were dying to famine. The younger folk wanted to risk the hostile tribes around them and make a move to the west of the lake but the elder men vetoed this idea.

They said the ‘Master of Life’ was punishing them for some crimes and once endured the tribe would flourish again. The young locals were enraged and the result was the death of the older men. According to legend the heads were sank to the bottom of the lake, the bodies then burnt to keep them apart. After this there were bubbles and slimes on the lake, a giant head with wings came up and the tribe were unable to escape it.

 


By Copy of a traditional Iroquois painting. – Alexander, Hartley Burr. The Mythology of All Races, Vol. Ten: North American. Boston: Marshall Jones, 1916. Page 30., Public Domain, Link

In Singapore you will find plenty of large blocks of tall apartments, and many years ago one flat at Bedok North Avenue gained notoriety thanks to a tragic event. The flats are near the Bedok reservoir, a new family set up home there, husband and wife with their child were after more money and the husband ended up involved in gambling.

Not only did he decide to leave them in debt… he found another woman and told the wife he wanted a divorce. The young mother threw her three-year old toddler down 25 stories and then leapt out of the window after him. The husband then later had another child with his mistress.

On the child’s third birthday the ghost of a boy, (legend has it as the dead toddler) came to him and convinced him to dive off the balcony to fly… inevitably he died.

The local residents say that the Bedok flats are haunted, that apartments remain empty because of the extreme paranormal state and rumours persist that there was another family in a flat that committed suicide and another was murdered in an elevator incident caused by a ghost.

I found an article about a family that were found dead in the nearby Bedok Reservoir, the article was found on Yahoo News dated 23rd October, I will leave you to decide but it was a mother, three year old child and an estranged father involved.

Tan Sze Sze and her three year old, Jerald Chin were found dead by PUB officers after they had been reporting missing two days prior. Willy Chin, her husband, arrived to pay his respects only to find that a large number of angry family members rushed at him. The father tried to get away from them only find that his vehicle was blocked in and they were trying to pull him back out of it.

After 10 minutes he was able to escape but things did not end at the wake, Tan’s mother and sister, with other family members, went to his house to confront him. Police later arrested the sister’s husband because she refused to leave. Tan was petrified that he was going to take away her son because she had been fined for not letting Chin see Jerald.

Tan had revealed that she had suicide plans on the day she went missing, and Chin said that he was at a loss when the police had informed him about the events. He had wanted to see his son, it had not happened despite his best efforts and he felt he had done nothing wrong. If she had simply allowed him to visit the situation would never have been taken to court. She was found cradling her son with their wrists joined by red string. They were wearing red shorts and had painted red fingernails. Red is the customary Chinese symbol for revenge after death. Family members stated that her son was her life, I cannot help but think if that was the case she wouldn’t have taken his as well as an act of revenge, simply arranged a formal way for him to see his child…

http://A little Linky Thing

Gwanju, South Korea has the Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital that was closed in the 1990’s. It says that there were mysterious deaths, mad doctors who were as crazy as the patients but in reality the hospital closed for more mundane reasons. It closed through lack of money, unsanitary conditions and problems with it’s sewage disposal system.

When the owner left the country and left no documentation about the land or buildings on it the whole ended up left as it is. Whilst closed and left abandoned it is by no means left unvisited, regularly people go to the place to see it and people often break in. In 1996 the owner fled to America because it was said that he was as insane as the patients, but in reality it sounds more like a dodge to be incarcerated for the terrible conditions and the fact he would likely end up spending more to update the building and so abandoned ship, so-to-speak. Families that lost their loved ones didn’t seem to get the answers they needed about why or how deaths happened.

It then leads to stories about terrible experiments and information that should have been hidden away… this is most likely that they were not told because no one had the knowledge or because the full details might well have been upsetting, who knows? Not me.

Paranormal events are also said to occur at the place, some comments around the net on various sites say that people have experienced being scratched and that glass had been hurled around. There are also mentions about capturing EVP’s too. All in all however it seems that the reality is people were poorly treat, experienced a disservice and the owner disappeared to avoid facing up to it all.

There is also a film based on this place, the film came into controversy as the owner filed a lawsuit saying that the negative press would make an effect on attempts to sell the building. A court case in Seoul, March 2018 over ruled attempts to stop it being shown and it was released. It is a fairly generic horror for it’s type so I think if you get a moment to watch it, then it’s not all that bad for horror fans. 

Thanks to the Youtube channel series ‘Ask a Mortician’ I ended up travelling to Lincoln Cathedral. I spent a good twenty minutes from the car park up the steep hill to get there and was not disappointed, it was worth the walk and I got plenty of good exercise too.

According to Wikipedia they are also known as transi, and the term Cadaver Tomb refers to a variety of monuments. Thee carving is of a decayed/decaying body with the shroud wrapped around it. Some of them have another sculpture above of the persons likeness before their death. The term includes both the single cadaver monument and the ‘double decker’ that hosts the alive and dead.

The one I went to see if the one at Lincoln Cathedral, it is of Bishop Richard Fleming who died in 1431. It’s said to be the earliest surviving one in England and I took a video and pictures, you can enjoy the link –

There are examples in Italy too, including in Rome at the tomb of Pope Innocent III. France also has examples, Henry II is buried in ice.

I found a very good and lengthy resource.

http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/4274/2/DX082064_1.pdf

Cadaver tombs look dramatic and macabre, with perhaps a deep meaning for those of faith. A reminder that the body must decay so the soul can be released, once left to dust the soul would not longer be trapped and paired, instead the soul would be released and thanks to prayers (and of course money) the soul could ascend.

My last one to look at is a transi-monument that really went the full hog… René de Chalon’s memorial is at Saint-Étienne Church at Bar-le-Duc in France. The young prince died at age 25, either his wife asked or he had asked her, but the upshot was the memorial was about a life-sized skeleton with strips of skin over it, a right hand clutching at the rib cage. He wanted the left hand holding up his heart up high. The hand once held his real and dried heart but somewhere along the lines it was believed to have been stolen during the French Revolution.

I didn’t get to France but I did appreciate the one I found more locally. I hope you like the pics I got courtesy of my phone.