Posts Tagged ‘Kentucky’

Barbara Ann (Hackman) Taylor, ‘Bobbie’ was initially an unknown American woman who was referred to as Tent Girl.

Wilbur Riddle was out in Georgetown, Kentucky, on 17th May 1968 searching for glass insulators at the side of U.S Route 25. He was there to work as a water well-driller and was handed a note to pass some time until his boss arrived, he spotted some telephone workers and they were discarding the glass insulators as part of an upgrade program. He knew they would be useful for a friend so went to collect them.

He was on his way back from his collecting when something caught his eye as he headed back up the dirt track. The smell alone gave away there was nothing good to be found, he nudged a wrapped up green canvas and the body rolled down the slope. It exposed the body of a decomposing woman wrapped up in a heavy green tarpaulin. The material was the type of thing used in the manufacturing of tents, hence the identification.

Riddle immediately drove two miles down the road to alert the Scott County Sheriff, Bob Vance. Vance and his team then came to see and looked into the matter further, her eyes had already rotted away and her flesh was mottled, the poor woman was too decomposed to get a full fingerprint and they had to take one and rehydrate it with chemicals to attempt to gain anything at all.

They were unable to fully establish a cause of death, the best theory to date is that Bobbie was somehow knocked unconscious and rolled up and confined, eventually dying of asphyxiation. There was a section of white towelling and the green canvas sent over to the FBI laboratories in Washington for further analysis but at that point there was not very much more they felt they could do.

A lead came up about her in June, 1968 when her description matched enough features to show up missing Pasadena girl, Debbie Krane, who was last seen getting into the car of her 17 year-old boyfriend, Carl Colby. The 15 year old had gone missing March 3rd, 1968 and with the period of her death being loose enough they decided to ask her parents to come to see if they were able to identify her.

Debbie Krane’s dental records loosely matched that of the girl and at that point the police must have felt they were on track to finding her identity, then an anonymous call came in that said she was alive and well in Bradford, Pennsylvania. A long drive out to Bradford found Krane was alive and well, living with her boyfriend and that she had absconded from her home but was not deceased. They were then stumped once more.

There was another lead for the identification, a somewhat similar case that was linked up, this time from Northampton, Pennsylvania. Candace Clothier was found 13th April, 1968 and had last been seen 9th March, 1968 until her body was found. Two fishermen discovered the young lady decomposed and floating in the creek, she was found in a black cloth bag. Similarities in the case led to a question about them being linked, there is no more on her case, her case has been closed as it was felt that due to no leads and the chances of her murderer already being dead there was nothing more they could do.

‘Tent Girl’ was then a feature in American magazine, Master Detective, in the hopes that it might bring even more to the case and perhaps lead to her identification. She was eventually buried in an unmarked grave, No 90. She was buried in Georgetown Cemetery with a donated headstone and along with the police sketch of her, based on reconstructions from her body, there was also an inscription.

TENT GIRL

FOUND MAY 17 1968

ON U.S HIGHWAY 25,N.

DIED AB OUT APRIL 26 – MAY 3, 1968

AGE ABOUT 16-19 YEARS

HEIGHT 5 FEET 1 INCH

WEIGHT 110 TO 115LBS.

REDDISH BROWN HAIR

UNIDENTIFIED

She was identified in 1998, it was a result of the efforts of Todd Matthews. He was the son-in-law of Wilbur Riddle and having found out about the story he invested in a PC and got a website up and running. He had combed through lists of missing people online. He has since founded The Doe Network, an online database to identify missing people and unidentified descendants.

He got an e-mail from her sister, Rosemary Westbrook, about a young woman who had gone missing from nearby Lexington. It transpires that the family were told by her husband, George Earl Taylor, that she had run off with another man. It seems that this never rested well with Rosemary and she extended her contact to Todd Matthews, Matthews and the family were convinced enough that it led to the exhumation of her body and DNA testing. Cells from Rosemary’s teeth were compared to that of the unidentified woman and they matched up, she was finally identified. Her body was re-interred at the cemetery with her full headstone placed under the original. There is no mention of her marital name on the headstone.

The prime suspect in her murder is Barbara’s husband, George Earl Taylor, and he died of cancer in 1987. This is mentioned on Wikipedia but I have to admit I found no other source about this, given this I am not going to surmise he was involved, there is no evidence she ran away with another man but then again there is no evidence to say she did not.

What we do know is that she was finally identified and given a proper burial based on who she was, her sister was able to learn her fate and mourn properly and Todd Matthews has founded something wonderful to help as many as he can who might be sadly facing that sort of tragedy.

Barbara Ann Hackmann Taylor.jpg
By Source, Fair use, Link

Floyd Collins was a well-known explorer who visited the large cave complex in Kentucky, USA known as Mammoth Cave. Tragically he died in Sand Cave there on 30th January, 1925 after a rock fell on his leg and he was pinned in a small passageway.

The day after two friends found him and for two weeks rescuers attempted to reach Collins. It was a media sensation but had a tragic end as three days before the rescuers could reach him Collins perished.

They could not remove the rock and so left him there and sealed the area up that led to his body. His brother, Homer, finally recovered him and then had his body buried at the family property. Two years later his father sold up the place and the new family had his body exhumed, they had the body placed in a glass coffin and he was left on display there for several years.

In 1929 Floyd was subject to another move when his body was stolen, the police recovered the unfortunate corpse but his injured leg was missing. He has not finally got rest at the Jackson’s Flint Ridge Cemetery and hopefully will remain undisturbed.

Is it any wonder then that he is not at rest? the area of Sand Cave is said to be haunted by Floyd, his screams and pleas can be heard from the sealed cave. A story recounts about decades old whiskey bottles being thrown at people who get too close. Is he trying to help though? Colleen Olsen told Kentucky’s Wave 3 News she slipped and started to fall but was grabbed and pulled back up. She turned to thank her friend Richard only to find that he was on the other side and so she thanked Floyd instead.

I have this picture via the Musical written about the events, I am not entirely sure how I feel about that… but here you go anyway.

floyd_dress_0375_resized

 

There you go for a song from Black Stone Cherry too:

A strange part-man, part-goat and part sheep creature all mixed into one, the creature is said to be under the railway trestle over Floyd’s Fork Creek over in Fisherville, Kentucky, USA.

There seems to be quite a hideous description linked to it, it appears with a deformed human body, fur-covered goat-legs and short sharp horns from the head. It has alabaster-skinned face and wide set eyes that sound both frightening and fantastical.

Urban legends abound say it can employ hypnosis, or mimic voices in order to lure victims to the trestle into oncoming trains. Some say the beastly thing leaps down from the trestle and onto the roof of cars passing by.

Another version has the victims attacked by a bloodied axe and others say it is so unsettling that when people see it they are driven into leaping or driving over the edge.

Trains regularly go over the trestle despite alternative rumours that it is abandoned, indeed going over it or causing any trouble there will lead to prosecution of trespass. The 8 foot fence appears to have done little to stop legend seekers trying to find it, and has sadly led to some deaths.

The suggested origin according to some tales is that the creature might well have been a man, a side show freak attraction at a circus who was so mistreated when he left he vowed revenge; on who I can’t seem to work out.

Another story appears to be quite stereotypical of an odd dodgy horror, a farmer who sold himself to Satan, has been reincarnated as the frightening Pope Lick Monster.

 

It seems on my part to be slow on the uptake to have blogged this, given it’s fame, but here we go! And in time for Halloween 2014!

Waverly Hills Sanatorium is now closed unless you pay for a private tour group, opportunities. It resides in the State of Kentucky, USA and opened in 1910 as a two-storey hospital and closed in 1962 when the drug Streptomycin made the TB Sanatorium redundant. The plan for the building is now to turn it into a luxury hotel and funds for its renovation, preservation and conversion are raised via tours, mostly of the paranormal type.

I won’t go into details regards the TV shows that have filmed there but they include Ghost Adventures, Ghost Hunters, Most Haunted, Worlds Scariest Places, MTV’s Fear and there is a film called Death Tunnel that was filmed on that location. Ghost Adventures and Ghost Hunters have both done live broadcasts for Halloween specials and the location is popular with those who watch the shows.

The land was purchased originally by Major Thomas H Hays in 1883, he opened a small private school there and hired Lizzie Lee Harris as the teacher. She loved Walter Scott’s Waverley novels and called the school Waverley. The name was liked well enough for Hays as he in turn called the property Waverley hills. The name has been changed between Waverly and Waverley Hills throughout its history but the current and likely final variation is the one of Waverly.

In the early 20th century Jefferson County (and Louisville) was stricken by the TB outbreak, the response was a two-storey wooden sanatorium that was opened on the land. It wasn’t enough to cope with the high levels of patients and so the building slowly began to take form into the large brick and concrete structure present on the site today. Thousands of people young and old made the place their home for some time and when it finally closed in 1962 the building was already a marked part of the Kentucky history.

It soon gained another use, it reopened that year as Woodhaven Geriatric Centre, for the care of those with dementia and mobility limits. It also catered for the mentally ill and unfortunately it closed in 1982 due to the discovery of patient neglect. It was understaffed and overcrowded like so many at this period in time. Due to the inaccuracy of it being labelled a mental asylum there are plenty of urban legends that took form and so it can be summarily advised that caution be given to those seeking information about the paranormal reports.

At some point in history there was a situation where the owner wanted the building destroyed but as it was listed (National Historic Register), he would need to ensure that the building was condemned. He actively encouraged vandalism and other acts of destruction on the property. When this failed he eventually gave up and sold the property in 1982.

In 1983 it was brought with the idea of changing it into a maximum security prison. It was dropped because of protests from the neighbours and then plans to adapt the place into apartments also fell through from lack of investors.

In 1996 the ownership changed to Robert Alberhasky, he wanted to construct the largest status of Jesus in the world along with an arts centre and a worship centre. Plans for this also fell through, to be honest to me this hardly seems surprising, but of over 12 millions dollars required Alberhasky only raised $3000.

In 2001 Tina and Charlie Mattingly took on ownership and now run tours to fund the restoration and conversion of the building to a luxury hotel whilst preserving as much of it’s history as possible. Naturally with the history of the place there are an abundance of ghostly tales to keep thrill seekers and ghost hunters attracted to the site.

Under the Sanatorium there is a tunnel that has been labelled the “death tunnel”, it was used to allow staff to move up and down into the hospital, the hill it resides on is very high and this was a safer method to get there. The walkways had lights and a later addition to the tunnel was to place air vents along the way. It was also used for the transport of goods, supplies and then removal of the dead.

The use of the tunnel for this purpose is why it has the paranormal reputation attached, the tunnel was used to safely transport the dead without the patients seeing them coming down the hill. The tunnel meant that the dead were taken away and it was hoped it would not deteriorate the morale of those in the sanatorium. It seems a practical use, and I have never found any stories about any tragic events down the tunnel to do with someone dying, patients reviving or other such things that might have led to the reason for a haunting. Instead it seems that the legend is purely attached to its use as a removal place for the dead.

The Death Tunnel has had reports of shadow figures, apparitions and EVP experiences. I am sure with a little digging around on the internet you are likely to find the same sort of video’s and ‘evidence’ that I have. I would understand the reputation but with it being designed for the idea of a little dignity I do find myself wondering…

However I did find that there are reports of people seeing a hearse pull up as if still collecting the dead. The hearse seems to make little sense to me, why would there be a phantom vehicle when there is no sign of this scenario being attributed to any tragic motion other than the natural movement and removal of the dead. Perhaps someone can enlighten me? Presumably either it is collecting or waiting for the next one to be shipped out.

Here are some that might be of interest:

Room 502 has a myth attached to it that a nurse died there, she was pregnant from the owner of the time and was unmarried. The tragedy continues in the tale in that she also contracted TB and so probably felt her options were utterly limited. Some say that she was murdered and others that she committed suicide hanging herself by the light-bulb wire outside the room, she now haunts this spot. The first date of this occurrence is listed as 1928 and then again four years later it is said that a nurse either fell of jumped to her death from the balcony of that room. (It is worth noting that so far no names or genuine documents for this have seemingly arrived on my investigations). What is said to be experienced, other than sightings, is a terrible feeling of despair upon entering the room.

The death tunnels reputation is also well recorded, you can find numerous accounts of peoples personal experiences along with EVP’s, Orbs and sightings of apparitions. You can find so many of these with an internet search that I haven’t felt a need to present them.

The death count is also often cited as around 63,000 with over 8,000 recorded in one single and very bad year. Presumably this high count would be attributed to the peak of the outbreak but either way it contributes to the haunted speculations. From research on the papers and data assembled many suggest that this number is widely exaggerated and that the real number is likely to be around only 10% of that. It is more likely that the total death toll would resemble more like the 8212 recorded on it’s worst year…

Whilst there is not a full list of the deaths, there is a lot of good indications that the lower figure is far more realistic. Death Certificates for the State of Kentucky were recorded and kept, they were maintained by the states and those for 1911-1953 have been made accessible. The rest are likely to be issued in the future and so going by that information and the information gathered by the press, other local sources. There is another claim that the real total (presumably suggesting much higher than 63-64k) had been covered up to keep state funding higher, in reality this would not do a thing, if anything they would exaggerate the numbers to get sympathy and more funding.

Another aspect to the speculation on the death count reality is that they say staff were dying so fast no records could be kept. This is not correct at all, for instance the Medical Director Dr Dunning S Wilson was there from 1911-1917 and did not die, he went on to carry on his career elsewhere. He is one of a few examples showing that the facts are not necessarily what go with the stories.

Another story is about the little boy who haunts corridors and likes to play by bouncing balls, this invariably leads to folks bringing them along to try and get an interaction. The ghost is said to be that of young Timmy, a six or seven-year-old boy who died there but has not yet moved on – another webister calls him Bobby. Critics say that the ball is not moved by little Timmy but instead a more mundane answer would be that the uneven floors and draughts contribute more to the movement.

Timmy is not the only young ghost there, the third floor is also said to be haunted by Mary. Again she is said to play with a ball but the stories are so similar it is entirely possible that like many the stories have simply taken on two entities (excuse the pun). With the children of the Sanatorium needing entertainment it is also said that the swing erected for them can be seem coming and that many have also heard the sounds of children singing ‘Ring a Ring a Roses’.

Perhaps a more pleasant experience for the hauntings is the smell of the cooked food that comes from the kitchens and canteen areas. Supposedly whilst there has been no food cooked there since 1982 there is a waft of food through the rooms. Slightly less exciting would be the idea of the gent that walks around in a white coat and pants…

Other reports that seem to be available include a guard seeing a floating head in a room late one night. Having passed out from fright he did not bother to return to the place. Lights have been seen despite there being no electricity and one security guard saw a television on from the third floor where he was outside, he went up to find that there was nothing out of the ordinary.

In summary there is a LOT to read and a lot to find out. I hope that you enjoyed the bits that I have put together.

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By Kris Arnold [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Waverlyhillssanatorium

Sloss Furnaces is a National Historical Landmark in Birmingham, Alabama. It was a large iron-producing blast furnace from 1881 to 1971. After it’s closure ir was one of the first industrial sites to be preserved for the public use in the USA. It is used as a museum that also hosts festivals and concerts. There is also an annual Halloween attraction – Sloss Fright Furnace. I’ll be honest I had never heard of the place until Ghost Adventures did a show there and I happened to see it.

Colonel James Withers Sloss was one of the founders of Birmingham and helped to promote rail-road development. He founded the furnace company and the first blast was initiated April 1882. The facility produced an impressive 24,000 tons of iron and won a bronze medal at the Southern Exposition at Louisville, Kentucky in 1883.

It was sold in 1886 when Sloss retired, the Sloss-Sheffield Steel and Iron Company then installed new equipment from 1902 onwards, the furnaces were modernised between 1927 to 1931. Through the modernising they also became on of the largest sellers of pig-iron in the district and the world. During this time they build 48 small cottages for black workers near the down-town furnace, the community became known as Sloss Quarters.

In 1952 the furnaces changed hands, then sold two decades later in 1969 to the Jim Walter Corp. The area had suffered from serious pollution and the U.S Clean Air Act pretty much spelt its demise. The Jim Walter company donated the property to Alabama State Fair Authority as a museum of industry. In 1977 the Birmingham voters approved a $3.3 million bond to stabalize the main structures and develop the visitors centre.

So now the industrial history is out of the window lets get onto the ghosts.

In the early 1900’s James Wormwood was the foreman of the graveyard shift, there were 150 workers there to keep the furnace fed, only the poorest and desperate men would risk this job in the summer, and Wormwood was apparently quite willing to make the workers take risks to ensure he impressed his bosses. 47 men lost their lives under his supervision and there were also numerous accidents that left other man unable to work. They were also not allowed breaks or holidays.

1906 it’s possible that karma took her chance, James Wormwood lost his footing at the top of the highest blast furnace (Big Alice) and was killed instantly when he fell into a pool of melted iron ore. Beofer that date he had never been up to the furnace top, no one was convicted of murder but rumours state it is possible a worker pushed him. It was not long after this the graveyard shift was disbanded.

It seems that Wormwood still considers his job important, and workers had complained they frequently felt that there was an unnatural presence around them on the site. In 1926 a watchman was injured, he had been pushed from behind and told to get to work by someone unseen. In 1947 there were three men found knocked out in a boiler room with no recollection of what had happened. Samual Blumenthal was a night watchman who in 1947 described coming face to face with a half-man and half-demon creature that tried to push him. When he resisted the monster tried to beat him with his fists, Samual had intense burns and died before returning back to Sloss.

So how much is really the haunting of former Wormwood or other violently ended lives or how much is the sensations of being in the massive complex at night or alone in these vast areas? Sloss Furnace has gained one of the reputations of haunted that sits alongside the Eastern State  or Danver so I have decided it’s one for the blog.