Friday, October 8, 2021

Capturing Spirits in Photographs


 It's the most wonderful time of the year ... Welcome to October! This month, we'll explore the odd events, and bizarre findings that make our world wonderfully spooky and weird.


The Fox Sisters

It all began in 1848 in Hydesville, New York when the Fox sisters claimed to be able to communicate with the spirits through rappings. Only years later did one of the sisters confess to a large audience that it had all be a hoax; the girls had the sounds by manipulating their joints.



Spiritualism and spirit photography became popular after the Civil War, thanks, in part, to First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln. Mary had lost two sons, Willie at age eleven, and Eddy at the age of four. When a group of mediums known as the Lauries approached her, Mary began attending seances in Georgetown. She got so much from them that she held more than half a dozen seances in the Red Room of the White House.


Mary with Abe's "Ghost" 

These “visits” from her dead sons offered her solace, and a means to go on. When her husband, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, Mary began “talking” with him, too. Other bereft families throughout the country were also seeking to communicate with their lost loved ones. In fact, by 1897, more than eight million Americans believed in spiritualism. And spirit photography helped make the metaphysical seem real.


One of the better-known U.S. spirit photographers was William Mumler of Boston. He is the person who took the photo of Mary Lincoln with the “ghost” of Abraham leaning over her. Mumler left Boston after being accused of faking his photos by double exposing the photographic plates. He moved to New York where he was put on trial for the same charge in 1868. Mumler was acquitted due to lack of evidence, but this ended his spirited career.


A Spirited Brother

In typical spirit photos, faces and heads appeared hovering over the shoulder or head of the living subject. These faces usually had a connection to the living – a husband, wife, parent, sibling or child who had passed on. Most were said to be created by double exposure, or having an accomplice step from behind the curtain as a subject sat for a portrait, thereby imposing the image of another person on the plate.

Maggie Fox

In 1888, Maggie Fox appeared at the New York Academy of Music and confessed before a large audience that she and her sisters had created the mystical rappings by manipulating their toe joints and knuckles. She proceeded to remove her shoes and show the audience how she could  "rap her toes." One year later, she recanted, but the damage had been done. By the close of the century, spiritualism was losing its bewildering hold.     


Doyle and a Ghost

World War One brought a resurgence of spiritualism and ghost photos. Again, the nation attempted to reach beyond the veil to communicate with lost husbands, fathers, and brothers who had perished during the Great War. In 1916, Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, attested to the legitimacy of ghosts in his book, The Case of Spirit Photography.


Houdini & Fake Lincoln Ghost

But magician Harry Houdini wound up on the other side of the pall. Houdini had attended seances to contact his dead mother, but soon realized that the mediums were fakes. He then wrote a book, A Magician Among the Spirits, which detailed how mediums created their illusions.


The Brown Lady

The most famous ghost photograph was taken in 1936 at Raynham Hall in Norfolk England. In it, the Brown Lady can be seen descending the manor staircase. Supposedly, this is the ghost of Lady Dorothy Walpole (1686-1726) whose husband locked her in her room after discovering an alleged affair with Lord Warton. She died there of smallpox in 1726.

Her ghost was first seen during the Holiday celebrations in 1835. The ghost was sighted again in 1926, and photographed in 1936. Charges of fraud were quickly issued, and ranged from double exposure to rubbing grease on the camera lens in the shape of a figure. No resolution was ever reached.


Orbs - What are they?

Today, spirit photographers say it is hard to be taken seriously with the hoaxes of the past. When they photograph orbs, many claim it's backscatter caused by the reflection of particles or waves sent back in the direction they came from. But others claim these orbs indicate the presence of spirits, and life from the beyond.



The Lady in White

Regardless of whether you believe in the presence of spirits, and the ability to visually capture them, there are numerous photographs that have been taken over the decades that defy explanation; the Brown Lady being one of them. Also questionable is this photo of the Lady in White in Bachelors Grove Cemetery in Chicago.



Can a spirit’s presence be visually captured? 


It remains in the eye of the beholder.


~ Joy

Friday, July 2, 2021

Haunted Hayswood Hospital for Sale

Have you ever wanted to own your own haunted house? What if you could up the ante and own a haunted hospital? Well, this may be the opportunity you’ve always wanted. Kentucky Commercial Property Search is billing this location as “the second most haunted place in Kentucky.”


The History

Located in Maysville Kentucky, with a view of the Ohio River, the building originally operated as the Wilson Infirmary in the 1800s. When the owner, Mary Peale Wilson died in 1908, the building was demolished. 


In 1915, Hayswood Seminary, a private school for girls, was opened. A fourth-floor was added in 1925 with another addition built on in 1971. 



In 1931, the facility opened as Hayswood Hospital and could accommodate more than 75 patients - residents of Cincinnati, southwestern Ohio and Mason County Kentucky.



In 1942, the US Navy sent naval personnel who had been psychologically
traumatized by the attack on Pearl Harbor to the facility for treatment. In 1983, the hospital was closed as medical needs changed and a new facility opened south of town.


Today, it is reported that medical equipment, furniture and some of the patient’s rooms are still intact. Other areas have been vandalized or damaged by the elements encroaching through broken windows.

The Hauntings

There have been reports of flickering lights, an oppressiveness near the structure and a tall man standing in one of the third-floor windows. Inside the building, people report the feeling of being watched even followed by shadows. A woman who carries her newborn baby down the hallways. Red eyes have been glimpsed in rooms along with cold spots felt throughout the hospital. Disembodied voices can be heard, and a stretcher rolls along on its own. And, of course, the morgue area is a hotbed of activity.



But those who worked there in the 1970s and early 80s say that the hospital was haunted even back then. Patients reported seeing doctors and nurses from another era walking the halls. The Travel Channels Ghost Asylum did a piece on it and several paranormal groups have down investigations.


The Property for Sale

The brick building, composed of four stories, is made up of 80,000 square feet located on nearly 3 acres with ample parking. Zoned commercial, this could become a tourist paranormal hotspot for a haunted venue, restaurant, hotel, apartments or maybe, just for a personal residence. The asking price for Hayswood is $800,000 but some judicious bargaining may get the price lowered. The last sale was in 2018.


Keep in mind that to open the building to the public, major repairs need to be made including floors and stairs along with asbestos cleanup. Cleanup has been estimated to be in the millions.


Today, the property is secured with fences, and the windows are boarded up. Maysville police will arrest any trespassers and file federal trespassing charges – no exceptions.

Contact Kurt Schuler with KCREA at and search for Hayswood Hospital for the details.

~ Joy




Friday, February 26, 2021


If you’ve spent much time in a cemetery, you know that not all grave markers are the same. Today, we'll take a look at six types of stone you will find in a graveyard.


Types of Headstones

1)  Fieldstone (1600s – Present)

Fieldstones were the earliest types of grave markers used from 1600s to the present. Besides being plentiful, these rocks could be carved, chiseled or painted with a name, dates and other information. The main problem was that over the decades, the stones get moved so many might not be where they were originally placed. You will still find fieldstones in cemeteries. They became popular again during the Great Depression when families could not afford markers.


2)  Slate (1600s – 1900s)

Slate was very popular, mainly in the eastern U.S. during the 18th to the 20th centuries. One of the reasons is because the stone is easy to carve. Slate can withstand freezing and thawing fairly well, which is why we can still read them. And acid rain appears to have a minimal effect. But due to the stone’s porousness, it is subject to delamination, which means it separates into sheets and falls away.


3)  Sandstone (1650s – late 1800s)

Sandstone was another stone that carvers used from the 1650s to the late 1800s. It was easy to decorate and was available around the country. The stone's color may range from red to light tan to brown to grey. The problem with this stone includes spalling and flaking. This is where pieces chip off the stone making the surface uneven, hard to read and encourages  the growth of lichen.


4)  Limestone (mid-1700s – 1930s)

Limestone was favored in the Midwest from the mid-1700s to the Great Depression because of its availability and ease of carving. This stone is made up of calcite and calcium carbonate. These small particles are composed of fossils held together by a lime cement.

Although visually appealing, this soft stone is severely affected by weathering, which causes pitting and that slowly wears the details of the stone away. This also causes the letters to dissolve over time. Tree stones were usually crafted from limestone and were a very popular marker in the Midwest.


5)  Marble (1780s – 1930s)

Marble has been used for centuries due to its strength and beautiful appearance. In the U.S. marble gravestones were popular from the 1780s through the 1930s. The stone is usually white with blue or grey veins running through it but can also be black with white veins. When you rub your hand over marble, it feels like sandpaper.

But marble began to fall out of favor when weathering made it difficult to read. Acid rain has become the main enemy of this stone causing the surface to become grainy and the lettering on the stone to slowly fade away.


6)  Granite (mid-1800s – present)

Granite is the most durable of gravestones, and currently, the most popular. With use mainly from the mid-1800s to the present, these gravestones can be red or grey in color. The red stones contain a small amount of oxidized iron. Granite that ranges from bright red to pink in color usually come from Missouri, and the darker red stones are from Wisconsin. Grey stones are quarried mainly in New Hampshire. Granite lettering is resistant to deterioration, and the stone does not erode. Modern techniques make it easy to carve, and lasers allow etching of personal images to tell your life’s story.


And then there's the marker that isn't really a stone but still prevalent in cemeteries across the country: 

Bonus - White Bronze (Zinc) (1880s – 1920s)

“Tombstone Tourists” will be familiar with another type of gravestone made of white bronze or zinc. Although not white, and not made of bronze, these memorials are usually very detailed, always different, and found in very good to excellent condition. White bronze monuments are easy to spot once you start looking for their telltale bluish-grey color.

White bronze monuments offered a less expensive alternative for a custom designed and detailed grave marker.  But there were those who looked down on the white bronze marker as being a cheap imitation of a solid granite stone.  Some cemeteries even banned them, many times due to the urging of local granite and marble monument companies. This is part of the reason they had such a short life, only from the 1880s to the 1920s. 

These monuments weathered well but they did have one flaw – creep. This occurs when the weight of the top of the monument bears down onto the base and it begins to bow or bulge – very slowly, over the years.  The only way to rectify this is to place a stainless-steel armature inside the base of this hollow marker to help support the upper weight.


Regardless of what type of stone you decide on, be sure to put a little of your story on the marker with carvings, images or symbols. Leave something for the coming generations to consider and enjoy when they wander the cemeteries.

~ Joy