Haunted Queen’s Court: Forgotten human remains, a lingering entity monitored by a ghostly priest, mysteriously vanishing objects, strange sounds, and more abound at Fordham University’s most haunted dorm.

Here’s a deep dive into ghost stories from Queen’s Court, looking at both the reported stories as well as the connections between tales of weirdness.

Highlights include:
• A second, forgotten burial ground on Fordham’s Campus
• My own paranormal experience
• The entity that supposedly is trapped at the end of the hall of a dorm
• A ghostly priest who banishes and traps a strange entity
• Poltergeist activity

Got a Fordham haunting to report? Send it to buriedsecretspodcast@gmail.com.

Episode Script

DISCLAIMER: I’m providing this version of the script for accessibility purposes. It hasn’t been proofread, so please excuse typos. There are also some things that may differ between the final episode and this draft script. Please treat the episode audio as the final product. 

Note: For this version of the script, I tried to censor students’ names. Everyone I mention by name was quoted and named on the record in publicly accessible articles, but many of the articles exist in PDF form in the university’s archives and are not indexed by search engines. I don’t want to screw up the SEO on anyone’s name, so if you want to see full names, check out the sources below or listen to the episode. 

  • Last episode, I talked about the history of one wing of one dorm of Fordham, so you know, I’m really making good progress on getting through my look at the history and hauntings of this campus.
  • You’ll prob get more out of this episode if you listened to the previous one, which is more about the university’s history, but I think you’re fine listening to just this one if you prefer to get right into the ghost stories
  • So anyway, I’m talking about the dorm Queen’s Court, which is made up of three halls. The oldest, St. John’s Hall, which I talked about last week
  • I saved one tidbit of history from St. John’s Hall that I wanted to share this week.
  • So, Fordham University famously has a cemetery dating on campus from the 19th and early 20th centuries, and I’m going to talk about that in depth in another episode. However, what most people don’t know, and what I certainly didn’t know, is that there’s another known burial ground at Fordham’s campus.
  • Though actually, when I went back and did more research, I found that it was mentioned in the 1891 book A History of St. John’s College, Fordham, NY, but I must have skimmed over it when reading it in the past, bc the part in that book about Fordham prior to the seminary being founded is a little boring to me.
  • So, initially I stumbled across the story of this burial ground in a 2019 book called The Big Book of New York Ghost Stories by Cheri Farnsworth (2019):
    • “During construction of St. John’s Hall, a private burial ground was discovered on farmland that had belonged to the Corsa family and is now occupied by the university. Andrew Corsa, for whom Corsa Avenue was named, was the same age as freshman and sophomore university students when he volunteered to guide George Washington, the Comte de Rochambeau, and the allied U.S.-France Army of five thousand troops to survey British defenses around Manhattan just prior to the Grand Reconnaissance on July 21, 1781. The circular garden behind St. John’s Hall marks the Corsa family’s burial grounds.”
  • I had never heard of the Corsa family burial ground, and was shocked to find this information. So I pulled out one of my favorite reference books, The Graveyard Shift: A Family Historian’s Guide to New York City Cemeteries by Carolee Inskeep (2000), and sure enough, there was an entry on the Corsa Family Burial Ground.
    • There’s very little information about the cemetery, and I think that Cheri Farnsworth got her information from The Graveyard Shift, because it’s pretty much the same. The only additional info that I found in The Graveyard Shift was that the cemetery was discovered in the 1840s when they were building St. John’s Hall. We know that the burial ground was used prior to the 1840s, but that’s it.
    • I tried to find more information about the Corsa family, but didn’t see a ton on Ancestry.com. I did find Andrew Corsa’s information on wikitree.com; he died in 1852, so wouldn’t have been buried in the family burial ground. He was buried at St. John’s Cemetery in Yonkers, but his parents may have been buried at the family burial ground, as well as his grandfather and other family members from the generations before him. Interestingly, Andrew Corsa’s father, Isaac, was apparently a loyalist who had to relocate to Nova Scotia after the Revolutionary War, but it sounds like at some point before his death, he likely returned to NY. It’s just interesting to me that the father was a loyalist and his son volunteered to help George Washington’s forces.
  • Here’s what the 1891 book A History of St. John’s College, Fordham, NY says:
    • Another tradition of revolutionary days, but one which lacks the color of probability, is that concerning the skeletons which were discovered in a mound at the rear of the old seminary. They were immediately pronounced the bones of soldiers who had fallen in some of the numerous skirmishes that took place in that vicinity during the revolutionary war. But there is nothing to confirm that belief; on the contrary, all the evidence in the case tends to contradict any such opinion. The skeletons were buried at regular intervals and in regular order, which would hardly be the case with those dying on a battlefield; there were no tokens, in the way of brass buttons, buckles, sabres and the like, such as would, in all probability, be found in the graves of soldiers; and finally, at the time the bones were discovered, a Mr. Corsa, who lived in the neighborhood, stated, it is said, that the place had been used in former years as a burying-ground.”
  • The additional two wings of Queen’s Court, Bishop’s Hall and Robert’s Hall were built about 100 years later, in 1940. Then it was called Our Lady’s Court, and then they changed it to Queen’s Court, which is what it’s still called today
    • According to the book Fordham: A History of the Jesuit University of New York: 1841-2003 by Thomas J. Shelley (2016), there’s an interesting story about how the university got the funding for Bishop’s and Robert’s Halls: Robert Gannon, the university president, was at a dinner party and he really charmed this rich lady who was hosting the party. As he was leaving, she gave him a check for $160,000. And then later she gave him another $50,000. For reference, $210,000 in 1940 is $4.1 million today.
    • So yeah, how “charming” must Gannon have been, or how rich was this lady, that it made since to give him the equivalent of $3.1 million as he’s walking out the door and then another million? A very charming man. There’re lots of stories in the book about how charming Gannon was. It’s just wild.
    • I’d always wondered why Queens Court is called QC, and I’m SURE it’s a reference to Mary, but I’m sure it was also a reference to this lady, kinda like how John Hughes named stuff after himself.
    • Anyway, the other notable thing about the other two wing’s construction was that they were built from stones from what the book called the “old Lenox Library,” so I looked up the Lenox library, which was a fancy private library that ended up becoming one of the first branches of the NYPL. It was in the UES, and stood where the Frick museum is now, at 5th ave and 70th street. It was torn down in 1912, and then Henry Clay Frick built his mansion in that location. That leads me to so many logistical questions about how the stone ended up being used at Fordham, but the internet has been no help at answering my many questions. But I guess they repurposed the stone? And I guess the stone was a perfect match. I wonder if the fancy rich lady had anything to do with hooking them up with the stone?
  • So that’s the kind of odd story behind the expansion of Queen’s Court. Let’s get to the ghosts.
  • A 2017 article in The Observer, the newspaper of Fordham’s Manhattan campus, Lincoln Center, has some great firsthand accounts of Fordham ghosts. I just want to pause to applaud the writer, Zoe S—–, for doing actual reporting and interviewing people with ghostly experiences, instead of doing what I and everyone else on the internet does, and what I’m doing, which is just regurgitating stories printed elsewhere.
    • https://fordhamobserver.com/33317/features/fordham-frights-the-ghosts-that-haunt-our-school/
    • So anyway, the article recounts a story from John A—–, class of 89, who lived in St. John’s Hall, in Queens court. This story is from the late 80s. A—–‘s friend, Paul C—–, was at his desk, doing homework. I’ll read from A—–‘s account: ” His desk was against the wall, but he could look to the left out his window and see the courtyard. It was around 10:30-11:00 p.m. He looked out the window and saw this guy in a cape walking toward the statue in the center of the court. He had a candle extinguisher. He was walking toward the statue as if to extinguish the light.”
    • However, the light was electric, so that was just weird. C—–went to the window and watched. Ten minutes later, his roommate walked in. C—– was really freaked out, and basically just kept saying “no legs” while pointing out the window. Eventually, he was calm enough to say that when he looked out the window, he saw that the figure he saw had no legs. To quote A—-: “He floated to the middle of the court, then floated out of the courtyard. Bizarre.”
  • Could this be the groundskeeper ghost, or someone else?
  • In the October 31, 1999 issue of The Ram, there are stories about possible poltergeist activity in Queens Court.
  • Thought first I wanted to talk about the definition of poltergeist activity. When I use the term, I mean a mischievous ghost or spirit that makes noises, moves things around, and generally causes annoying but mainly harmless household disruption.
    • however, some paranormal investigators say that a poltergeist needs to have a certain person, usually a young person going through puberty, especially a young girl, who the activity is sort of associate with and spurred on by. but that’s not the definition I’m using here
    • The article is called Boo! Are you Frightened Yet?  You should be, and describes a student named Andy S—– class of ’99, who looked at a Beatles album cover right before going to bed, and when he woke up, the alum that had been hanging on his wall, was gone.
      • They ascertained that no one could have entered their room, because the door was still locked, they looked all over, couldn’t find it, and gave up. He was puzzled, though, so when he heard a story about someone else’s experience in Queens Court of a picture flying across the room, he kept looking for the album. Three weeks later, he found it behind a dresser on the adjacent wall, somewhere where he was sure that it couldn’t have fallen on its own.
      •  He told The Ram: “I was so scared that  I had  trouble  sleeping for three weeks,” and, sure that this was the work of a ghost, he started asking around for more stories of hauntings.
    • He collected a number of stories, and presented the three most credible ones at his Knight Court (explain what Knight Court is).
    • The three events he told at his Knight Court all happened on the second floor of Robert’s Hall, a wing of Queens Court (for reference, I lived on Robert’s third, and I did have one paranormal experience there, which I’ll talk about when I do the episode on my experiences.)
    • Alison M—– was blow drying her hair when she thought she heard the phone ring. She turned off the blowdryer and looked at the phone, which was where it always was, on her roommate’s fridge. She kept blow drying her hair, and it didn’t ring again. Then, she looked up when her roommate Carin R—- came back from the bathroom, and Alison saw that the phone was no longer on the fridge: it was on her desk. She asked her roommate if she’s moved the phone, but she hadn’t. They were both freaked out by that. The article does not say whether the phone was still plugged in, or how close the fridge and desk were, which were my two questions when reading that.
    • Their neighbor, Vickie V—-, had an experience a few days after moving into the dorm. She was talking to her roommate, who was cutting pictures out of magazines using scissors. The roommate put down the scissors for a moment, and then when she went to pick them up, they were gone. They looked for it for 15 mins, and even took the sheets of the bed, but couldn’t find them. Then, they looked at the desk, and the scissors were sitting there on a neat stack of papers. Weirdly, the desk had been cluttered and covered with messy papers before. They were really freaked out, so knocked on their neighbor’s door at 1 am. (Unclear if the neighbor was Alison M—– and Carin R—–, or not.) One of the girls called her mom (I assume also at 1 am, lol), and her mom said that as long as they had faith in Christ, the spirit couldn’t harm them. Later on, though, V—– was skeptical, and said:  “Maybe  we can do things unconsciously  and then  we  try to attribute  them  to outside  causes.”
    • Down the hall, still on Roberts 2nd, Susan H—– and Sara H—- had an incident where they locked their door, turned off their stereo, and went to sleep. Sometime during the night, the stereo turned itself back on, and started playing a “strange CD” which hadn’t been in their stereo at all the previous day. (Not sure what strange CD meant, but I guess that’s just a flourish? It seems to be a CD they owned.) The CD they’d played right before going to bed was back in its case on the rack.
    • S—– also told other, more minor stories that had happened. To read from the article: ” Residents blamed ghosts   for   unlocked  doors,  switched-off   fans   and  missing  jewelry  that   later   resurfaced   in  odd  places.   Students  also  reported  footsteps and strange noises coming   from  St. John’s  Hall  which  was closed for  renovation.”
    • I don’t know what was being renovated in St. John’s Hall at the time, but I do know that according to an article in The Ram from September 4, 1983, there was a ceiling collapse in John’s that forced an evacuation, so it seems like it was falling apart for a while.
    • St. John’s Hall is the oldest wing of Queens Court, and it was the original wing, before the other two were added on. It’s actually the oldest dorm on campus.
    • So those incidents had happened in 95. In 96, S—– returned to Queens Court to talk at “Fright Court,” which is a Halloween event that the dorm does. There, he collected one new story, from Megan and Susan M—–, class of 2000, who said they’d lost a magazine while moving into their room on John’s 2nd. They couldn’t find it, went to dinner, and when they returned, it was sitting in the middle of their floor.
    • S—– said: “My theory is if there were  a ghost, it came as if an introduction to say, ‘Beware of me. You are not alone.”
  • Perhaps the most famous Queens Court haunting is one that’s retold in the book Haunted Halls: ghostlore of American college campuses by Elizabeth Tucker (2007), and the story also appears in The Big Book of New York Ghost Stories by Cheri Farnsworth (2019). 
    • During summer 2003, before students had moved in, five Ras and one residence hall director moved into Queens Court early to prep for students’ arrival. They had to fill out condition reports for rooms and get them prepped for the new students to move in. But a strange thing was happening on the first floor of Roberts. In one particular room, the mattresses kept ending up propped upright against the walls, even though the RA for the hall kept laying them back down every time he passed.
    • He thought that someone was probably pranking him, so he would lock the door every time he put the mattresses back down to make sure no one could get in. But it didn’t do any good.
    • One night, around 2:30, someone knocked on the RA’s door. He opened the door, and saw that his visitor was a priest.
    • According to the Fordham library website, the priest said this to the RA:
      • “Someone must have been praying pretty loudly if they got me up at this hour. Sorry about that, it normally stays at the other end of the hall, but it must have gotten out. Don’t worry, I took care of it.”
  • The library continues the story, saying:
    • “For the rest of the summer the mattresses stayed in their proper places. The RA later tried to seek out the Jesuit but when he described the elderly man who visited him in the night, he was told that the only Jesuit bearing that description had died 10 years earlier.”
  • Before I continue the story, I just want to pause on what I think is a really important part of the story. When the Jesuit says “It normally stays at the other end of the hall, but it must have gotten out,” what the heck is he talking about. Is there one room that is just understood to be haunted? Does the entity usually haunt the bathroom, at the end of the hall? Or another part of Queen’s Court? The priest didn’t say, “don’t worry, it’s gone back to the spirit realm,” or something. He implies that the entity’s home is within Queen’s Court. Not especially comforting.
  • I found some additional information about this story that I hadn’t seen elsewhere on a website called belitionlee.blogspot.com. I don’t totally know where this information came from, but it has my favorite thing, which is specific details. It claims to be an update/correct as of 2004, clarifying that it happened on the first floor of Roberts. And I’ll just read the rest from the blog:
    • “But there’s more to the events that happened…in early November 2003, when the hall was full of 20-some residents, all of the lighting- main AND emergency, suddenly went out one night. The lights were out- inexplicably- for almost the entire day. By the time night fell, the floor was pitch black. During the day, the fire alarm lights flashed several times but only in the Robert’s first hallway- nowhere else in the building. The creepiest part was that night, when the two residents who live in “the room” that had the problem with mattress flipping earlier in the summer got locked in. The second roommate had come in and didn’t even shut the door all the way- suddenly it was shut and locked, and they couldn’t open it up. No one could get the door open. Finally, locksmiths had to be brought in- in the middle of the night, keep in mind- to climb in through the windows, and literally take the door apart, until it suddenly fell off its hinges.”
  • So now we come to the experience I had at Queen’s Court. It isn’t the most dramatic story, but it’s certainly a puzzler.
    • When I was a freshman, I lived on the third floor of Robert’s Hall. Though Queens Court has a really fancy, Hogwarts-looking study hall on the first floor of Bishops, I didn’t like to study there at night after I had already showered, because I was young and vain and didn’t like to encounter people in my pajamas, and with my hair wet, and not wearing makeup.
    • I also couldn’t really study in my room, because my roommate went to bed really early and was a light sleeper.
    • So in those situations, when I needed to study late in the evening after I’d showered, I would sit in the stairwell, in between the third floor (which was the top floor) and the roof. This was an interior stairwell, positioned between Robert’s and Bishop’s halls, and it led up to the door to the roof, which was an alarmed emergency exit. It’s worth noting here that alarmed doors are very heavy, because you don’t want to risk a gust of wind opening it and waking up the whole building with the alarm, etc.
    • If I’m remembering the geography of these stairs correctly, through the mists of time, there was a landing in the middle of the stairs, and I’d sit halfway between the landing and the third floor. I wanted to be high enough away that people walking by wouldn’t try to talk to me (and ideally, they wouldn’t see me at all, because it’s kind of weird to study in a stairwell.) But I couldn’t go up too high, because there wasn’t a light at the top of the stairs, by the roof, so the higher up you went, the more shrouded in darkness you were. And if I was too high, then I couldn’t see to read.
    • One week, there was a weird thing where the alarms had briefly stopped working.
    • And it was a big deal, because people were able to go up onto the roof and take pictures and stuff, so a lot of people were going up there. I didn’t, because I’m an extremely risk-averse person, and I regret that for sure.
    • Fordham University is an extremely strict environment, and I remember the administration was not happy that people were going up on the roof, so they fixed the alarms really fast. I can’t remember exactly how long it took them, but maybe a couple days?
    • On the day that this experience happened, someone had tried going back up onto the roof, and had set off the alarms, so it was confirmed that the roof was once again off limits. I remember being super bummed about that, because I had just about got up the courage to go up there.
    • So that evening, I was sitting on the stairs, studying, and above me, I hear the door slam. It was really loud, because it was a heavy, alarmed door. I couldn’t see the door from where I was sitting, but I set down my book, went up the rest of the stairs, and saw that the door was very firmly closed. I kind of shrugged, was like, whatever, and went back down.
    • But then I heard it slam again. I went back up, checked it, and of course it was closed and no one was there. I also didn’t hear anyone up on the roof, like walking around or talking or anything.
    • Even if there was someone up on the roof, there was no reason for them to open and shut a door, unless they were going in or out, because it risked setting off the alarm. And no one could have gone in and out via that stairwell without passing by me. There was I believe one other stairwell with roof access, on the other side of the building, so someone could have gone out using that, but, again, there’s no reason why someone would have opened and then slammed the door above me shut without walking through it, especially because slamming a door risked alerting someone to the fact that you’re up there, trespassing. Also, I knew the doors had been alarmed again, someone had checked that day, so how could the door open without setting off the alarm?
    • It happened a few more times, with the door above me distinctly slamming, and me checking and seeing that everything looked normal. I thought of sitting on the landing so I could watch the door out of the corner of my eye, but it was way too dark up there, and I wouldn’t have been able to read in the dim light. After a while, I remember just being creeped out, finishing up what I was doing, and going to bed.
    • I don’t remember studying in that stairwell that often after that (I think it was fairly early in the school year and I switched to mostly studying elsewhere once I found somewhere I preferred), but I never had anything else like that happen in the stairwell.
    • So what do I think happened? To me, it sounds in line with some of the poltergeist-type activity that other people have witnessed at Queens Court. I’m inclined to think I experienced something paranormal, but as with all things paranormal, there’s not really a way for me to prove it.
    • Do I think the door was really slamming, or do I think it was just a noise that sounded like the door slamming? I don’t know, it’s too long ago now for me to remember if there had been a draft or not before I heard each slam. And I was really trying to concentrate on studying, rather than studying the circumstances of this phenomena.
    • NOTE: I know that I made some additional connections about my experience in the final episode audio, but haven’t had time to add that to the transcript.

Sources consulted RE: Haunted Queen’s Court

See sources page for the full source list for the series

Books consulted

Don’t miss past episodes:

A look at one of the most concentrated areas of hauntings in all of New York City: Fordham University in the Bronx. This is part 1 of a look at the ghosts of Queen’s Court, the oldest dorm on campus.

Ghostly priests, secret tunnels, black dogs, poltergeist activity, multiple burial grounds, housing in an old morgue, and more abound at Fordham University, at a campus in the Bronx that’s about half a mile wide. This is part 1 of a look at Queen’s Court, the university’s oldest dorm, which was built in 1845, was once a seminary, and has a number of hauntings and urban legends attached to it.

Highlights include:
• A groundskeeper ghost who still does his rounds
• The ghost of a 19th century seminarian
• A digression about Stone Tape Theory
• A theory about why Fordham’s ghost stories were kept quiet until the 1970s
• A conceited archbishop

 

Maps showing Fordham University’s size

East-West Measurement of Fordham University's Rose Hill Campus

East-West Measurement of Fordham University’s Rose Hill Campus

North-South Measurement of Fordham University's Rose Hill Campus

North-South Measurement of Fordham University’s Rose Hill Campus

East-West Measurement of a similar sized area around Washington Square Park

East-West Measurement of a similar sized area around Washington Square Park

North-South Measurement of a similar sized area around Washington Square Park

North-South Measurement of a similar sized area around Washington Square Park

 

Pictures of Queen’s Court

 
Ghosts of Queens Court

Church with pointed steeple and St. John’s, early drawing, from the Fordham University Archives and Special Collections

Ghosts of Queens Court

St John’s Hall, Queens Court_A history of St. John’s College, Fordham, N.Y by Thomas Gaffney Taaffe, 1891

Ghosts of Queens Court

St. John’s Hall with church on the right, from the Fordham University Archives and Special Collections

Ghosts of Queens Court

St. John’s Hall with vines, from the Fordham University Archives and Special Collections

Ghosts of Queens Court

St. John’s Hall, from the Fordham University Archives and Special Collections

Ghosts of Queens Court

St. John’s Hall, Vine covered wall with several students by the fountain, from the Fordham University Archives and Special Collections

 

Episode Script for the Ghosts of Queen’s Court

DISCLAIMER: I’m providing this version of the script for accessibility purposes. It hasn’t been proofread, so please excuse typos. There are also some things that may differ between the final episode and this draft script. Please treat the episode audio as the final product. 

  • For this series, I’m going to talk an area that I would argue has one of the greatest concentrations of hauntings and dark history in all of NYC: Fordham University in the Bronx.
  • Fordham happens to be my alma mater, so I’m excited to look at the history, hauntings, legends, lore, and my own personal experiences of the paranormal there.
  • Fordham is known as one of the most haunted universities in the United States. For this series, I’ve identified  at least 12 buildings on Fordham’s Bronx campus that have supposed hauntings
  • The Fordham hauntings are kind of bananas, and the campus has so many creepy elements in its history.
  •  Despite the modest size of the area, here’s some of the stuff that happened in this area that I’m going to cover in this series:
    • Many of them include encounters with ghostly priests, in many cases where the person didn’t realize they were speaking with someone deceased until someone told them later on.
    • There’s a case of what seems like a ghost-priest possibly performing an exorcism.
    • There’s an entire dorm on Fordham’s campus (which I lived in, and which most of my paranormal experiences on campus happened in) that used to be the medical school building, and contained a medical amphitheater for demonstrating operations and I assume cadaver dissections–and you can actually see where the amphitheater was by looking at the building in google satellite view. Also, cadavers were kept in the basement of that building, and the location of the building was supposedly even selected for ease of cadaver transportation.
    • There’s a series of secret underground tunnels connecting the campus’s oldest buildings.
    • There was an old hospital that was leveled to become the university’s parking lot.
    • There’s black dogs, ghost children, poltergeist activity.
    • There’s even a cemetery on campus where the bodies have been disinterred and moved not once, but TWICE, and now a dorm is built on top of one of the past locations.
    • All the good paranormal and creepy stuff is here! Part of the Exorcist was even filmed here
    • And lots more!
  • So, as an aside, I’d like to make a claim here that I don’t think has been made before: I believe that Fordham University is NYC’s most haunted half-mile mile.
    • I’d like to challenge fellow NYCers to find an area of similar size that has a similar level of hauntings and creepy history.
    • So, to explain my methodology here:
      • I went on google earth and measured Fordham’s campus using their measurement tool. The campus is shaped like a sideways triangle pointing eastwards, so I measured the longest part of the point, and the middle of the slanting sides. Its about .51 miles wide, and .33 miles tall. I’ll put the screengrabs of the measurements in the shownotes for this episode so you can take a look and see how I measured.
    • I think that the Village, near NYU and Washington Square Park, might be able to give Fordham a run for its money, maybe, but I’m not convinced that there’s an area of the Village of a similar size to Fordham’s campus that has a similar number of hauntings.
    • I will also include screengrabs in the shownotes measuring out the same distance in the area around Washington Square Park, so you can see what I mean in terms of scale.
    • But if anyone would like to challenge me on what NYC’s most haunted half-mile would be, I’d really love to know of a similarly haunted area so I can research it, so please email me at buriedsecretspodcast@gmail.com or message me on instagram @buriedsecretspodcast if you have a different candidate you’d like to put forth for NYC’s most haunted mile.
    • I would actually love to be refuted on this, because that would mean that there’s somewhere in NYC with even more hauntings in a small area than Fordham, so please, change my mind.
    • But until then, I, a random podcaster, would like to declare Fordham University’s Rose Hill campus as the most concentrated area of hauntings and dark history in all of NYC.
  • In characteristic form, I’ve done an enormous amount of research, so I don’t know exactly how long this series will be. Right now, I have 9 episodes worth of notes, so this could end up as long as the Ouija board series I did last year, but I’m going to try to combine some episodes because with a biweekly publication schedule, 9 episodes will take a while.
    • If you’re a longtime listener, you know that I’m not here to uncritically repeat ghost stories.
    • I want ghost stories to be true when I hear them, but I’m somewhat of a skeptical believer. When examining hauntings, I like to look closely at the history of the area, of the building where it occurred in, and at any other factors that could have bearing on the story.
    • So for example, if there’s a detail in an urban legend, I like to do everything I can to corroborate that detail. At the end of the day, you can’t really verify the veracity of a ghost story, so what you have to do is look at the story, look for holes, look for specificity and for details that you can confirm, which help to determine whether something is just a fun urban legend, or whether it’s something that might really be somewhat credible.
    • So that’s a big part of why I have so much material here. I’m all about getting the context and looking at things from all angles, and looking for patterns, etc.
  • My goal is to present this in a way that will be interesting to anyone who’s into in university hauntings, or hauntings in general, but I also expect a number of Fordham ppl to listen to this.
  • So I wanted to address Fordham folks real quick, off the top:
    • If you went to Fordham and had a paranormal experience there, and want to share it, please let me know! You can email me at buriedsecretspodcast@gmail.com.
      • So far, I’ve written this series is just using information that I was able to find that had been published online or in one of the university’s newspapers, or in a book, as well as my own experiences, but I’d love to incorporate any other encounters with the paranormal that people have had because I know there’s way more out there that just hasn’t been published.
    • Also, if any current Fordham students are listening and are interested in paranormal investigation, let me know if you’re potentially interested in investigating anything at Fordham together.
  • At this point, I have been thinking about the Fordham hauntings for–I was going to say a decade, but at this point, I’ve really been thinking about this closer to 15 years than to a decade, which, I just realized, horrifyingly, is almost half my life.
    • I didn’t start this more in-depth research until a year and a half ago. And to be fair, I’ve been researching many other paranormal and historical topics for the podcast during that time, so I’ve kind of picked up this research every few months, worked on it a bit, and then put it back down.
    • But still, the research for this series has been a large undertaking.
    • I can tell you that this is almost certainly going to be the most complete collection of Fordham ghost stories that you’ll be able to find as of right now.
    • It seems that I have the dubious honor of being the person who cares about this topic the most.
  • So, with that out of the way: in this episode, I want to talk about the dorm I lived in freshman year, Queens Court. I’ll also mention the neighboring University Church, and the Honors program building, Alpha house. All three of these are some of the older buildings on campus, built in the 19th century.
  • But before I get to those specific buildings, let’s get to some background info about what Fordham University is, for folks who may not be familiar with the school:

 

Fordham Background Info

  • So, if you don’t live in the tristate area, or the northeastern part of the US, you may not have heard of Fordham University. But you have heard of its alumni, which include obviously the most important alumna, Lana Del Rey, as well as actors Denzel Washington, Alan Alda, Patricia Clarkson, and Taylor Schilling, authors Mary Higgins Clark and Don Dilillo, former Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, and some politicians including disgraced former NY Governor Andrew Cuomo and also one Donald J. Trump, who attended Fordham for two years before transferring elsewhere.
    • And there’ve also been a number of different famous faculty members and lecturers. The most interesting one for our purposes here is probably Carl Jung, who of course is hugely influential in the paranormal world, having written about tons of paranormal stuff including alchemy and UFOs.
    • Jung gave a series of lectures at Fordham during a conference in 1912, where he argued against some of Freud’s theories: that’s supposedly the cause of their famous schism
  • So what is Fordham?
    • Fordham University is a private, Catholic college that’s run by Jesuits.
    • It’s the third oldest university in NY state (after NYU and Columbia), and it’s the oldest Catholic institution of higher education in the northeast
    • Fordham was originally founded in 1841 by Archbishop John Hughes, aka Dagger John, who I talked a lot about in one of the Calvary Cemetery episodes.
      • As with many other things he had a hand in, Hughes named the school after himself, calling it St. John’s College. (At the time, St. John’s College was both a seminary for training new priests, and a college.)
      •  A few years later, the college would be purchased by a group of French Jesuits from Kentucky, and from then on, it was a Jesuit university.
      • The name would be changed to Fordham University in 1907. Fordham is the name of the neighborhood its in, which was once the location of a farm called Fordham Manor.
    • Fordham has a handful of campuses, including the one in the Bronx, called Rose Hill, which is the largest campus and the one I lived on, one at Lincoln Center in Manhattan near the southwest corner of Central Park. There are also some smaller campuses including one in London, which I think is new is the past few years, and one in the suburbs of NYC in Westchester County.
  • Most of Fordham’s ghost stories are centered around the Rose Hill campus, though later in the series, I’ll also share what I was able to find about Lincoln Center.
  • To set the stage a bit more, while Rose Hill is located in the Bronx, it doesn’t look like an urban campus: it has lots of green space and collegiate gothic buildings.
    • It’s so pretty that it’s often used as filming locations, especially when the script calls for kind of an unnamed private northeastern fancy looking school.
    •  It was really normal to come across film crews around campus.
    • But probably the three most famous movies filmed there were A Beautiful Mind, Love Story, and The Exorcist.
  • Fordham has a really lovely campus, which was one big attraction for me, and for many students. It’s great to be in NYC but to also have this beautiful green campus as your home base.
    • But I was also very much drawn in by Fordham’s ghost stories, because it’s considered one of the most haunted colleges in America. And the creepiness of Fordham was a definite selling point for me.
    • And while I did encounter some weird stuff, it wasn’t what I’d expected. I’d hoped to meet a friendly Jesuit ghost in the library late at night who could help me with my homework, but instead I got a pretty typical grab-bag of weird paranormal crap that I’m still turning over in my head and trying to decipher, without much success, even after all of this other research.
  • So that’s some basic background on the university.

Paranormal Legends on Campus

  • Fordham’s an interesting school, because it’s pretty proud of its hauntings. There are campus ghost tours, there’s a part of the library’s website dedicated to chronicling Fordham’s most famous hauntings, etc.
  • So if you search the Fordham newspaper archives, as I have, you’ll see 283 results for search term ghost. It’s really unfortunate that every year, there’s a mass of the holy ghost, so a lot of those results are just basic schedules of when that mass will be each year, or writeups of how the mass went.
  • So the first “real” mentions of the Fordham hauntings appear in The Ram, the Rose Hill student newspaper, in the 1970s. A lot of the best stories came from articles in the 70s and 80s.

Queens Court, University Church, and Alpha House

  • Queens Court was where I lived freshman year. It’s a sort of U-shaped building with a courtyard in the middle, made of three wings, called St. John’s Hall, Bishop’s Hall, and St. Robert’s Hall
    • I believe that Robert’s is technically called St. Robert Bellarmine Hall, but everyone calls it Roberts. Robert Bellarmine is a saint from the 16-17th century who was big in the counter-reformation.
    • He was a Jesuit cardinal
    • He’s also known for adjudicating the Gallileo Affair. I guess he was like, “heliocentrism is fine as long as you treat it as a hypothetical theory and not a real thing,” and later he ended up delivering the inquisition’s injunction against Galileo, but it sounds like they maybe remained on good terms?
  • Anway, back to Queens Court: St. John’s Hall was built–I think–right around 1845, when St. John’s College was founded.
  • I wanted to read a bit from the book A history of St. John’s College, Fordham, N.Y by Thomas Gaffney Taaffe (1891) describing Queens Court–or, at the time, it was only St. John’s Hall, because I find the descriptions in the book delightfully romantic and fanciful in a very 19th century sort of way:
    • “Turning your steps to the right, after a brief interval of flagged walk bordered by garden fence and shrubbery, you come to the most charming spot in this collection of noble buildings and picturesque surroundings. St. John’s Hall, the preparatory school for small boys attached to the college, is situated at the extreme northwest of the college grounds. Adjoining it is the parish church of Fordham, the Church of Our Lady of Mercy. Church and Hall were built in 1845 by Archbishop Hughes, the latter as a seminary for the education of priests in the diocese of New York, and the former as the seminary chapel. Both buildings are of stone quarried on the college property, but different from that used in other buildings.”
  • Just to pause a sec:
    • first, I wish he had phrased “preparatory school for small boys” in a slightly less creepy way.
    • Second, interesting to note that the stone for these buildings were quarried basically on site. I talked about this some in my islands about Roosevelt Island, the idea of stone being quarried right near the buildings were being built, but for whatever reason I find that detail really interesting about older buildings in NYC.
      • I don’t know, maybe it’s the idea of the close connection to a place, like there’s something being built but the materials are being ripped right out of the ground right there? Like the raw materials aren’t going far, etc. I can’t quite say why it interests me so much, but it may just be that it’s tickling something in the back of my mind about elemental or land spirits that I just can’t quite articulate. Idk, but mentioning it here.
  • Alright, I wanted to read a bit more from the book about St. John’s Hall, since its early history is easy to gloss over and I think it’s important to know when thinking about hauntings there:
    • “The Hall is an imposing structure, the massive arched entrance, the old-fashioned latticed windows, the vine-covered walls, all combining to produce and effect at once grand and impressive. The seminary was moved in 1860 to Troy, N.Y., and the buildings sold to the college authorities. . . . For a long time the Hall was little used, the classes of Chemistry and Physics alone being held there, but in 1885 . . . It was thoroughly overhauled and fitted up to fill the requirements of the preparatory school.”
  • Some of the legends and ghost stories I was told about Queens court when I moved to campus alluded to the building’s time as a seminary, so I think it’s worth noting that it was a seminary for a very short time, 15 years, from 1845 to 1860.
    • Though, sidenote: the seminary was called St. Joseph’s, and as the book
  • Fordham: A History of the Jesuit University of New York: 1841-2003 by Thomas J. Shelley (2016) points out:
    • The [seminary’s] name, like the name of the college, was selected by Hughes, which did not surprise one savvy New York Jesuit historian, Father Francis X. Curran,  who pointed out that the bishop’s full name was John Joseph Hughes.
  • So basically, he named the college St. John’s and the seminary St. Joseph’s. He loved naming things after himself.
  • The book goes on to talk about how there are beautiful gardens and a fountain in front of St. John’s Hall, and it also describes the floorplan of the hall a bit more, which I think is worth mentioning:
    • “From front to rear of the building runs a broad hallway. On either side and on the floors above are the study hall, class-rooms, and dormitories, and in the basement are the gymnasium and drill-room. At the rear, fronting the railroad, is the boy’s playground.”
  • I believe that where that playground was, there are now two dorms: Alumni Court North (now called Loschert) and South
  • So a lot of Fordham prep stuff is associated with Queens Court, in addition to the old seminarians.
  • So, as the passage I read mentioned, Queens Court is right next to the University church. At one point, they were even connected by what looks like a hallway.
  • So, one of the most famous legends regarding the University Church is Edgar Allen Poe. Because no collection of ghost stories would be complete without Poe, right?
  • Edgar Allen Poe moved to the Bronx in 1846, lived in the neighborhood of Fordham and used to walk over to campus and play cards and drink with the Jesuits.
  • The bells of the University Church supposedly inspired the Edgar Allen Poe poem The Bells.  Poe wrote the Bells in 1849.
  • I wanted to read a bit about Poe at Fordham, which was then called St. John’s College, from Fordham: A History and Memoir, Revised Edition by Raymond A. Schroth (2009)
    • “The poet found the new St. John’s College, especially under the direction of the Jesuits, a most congenial place. The campus was not more than a twenty-minute walk down the hill from the sparsely settled neighborhood where he and his ailing wife, Virginia, along with Virginia’s mother, Mrs. Maria Clemm, had settled into a small, white three-room cottage in the Kingsbridge section.”
  • So then Virginia died and he fell into a deeper depression:
    • “Eventually he found solace in long walks. At four in the morning, he would stroll west to the aqueduct bridge, High Bridge, whose granite arches, 145 feet high, stretched across the Harlem River. Often Poe escaped to St. John’s.
    • Passing no more than a few dozen houses and farms along the way, he could saunter down the gradual slope of what is now Kingsbridge Road, which then extended to the New York and Harlem railroad tracks. . . .
    • When Poe came in the early evening, around six, he arrived in time for the Angelus. The great bells in the tower of the college church, which also served as the local Our Lady of Mercy parish, rung out in the traditional prayer: “The Angel of the Lord appeared unto Mary, and she was conceived of the Holy Ghost.” . . .  With the bell tower just a few yards away, he would not just hear the bells but also feel their vibrations as their tolling fled the tower and sent some trembling shivers through his fragile frame. A glass of wine with the fathers would calm his nerves.
    • There’s a large bell in the Fordham archives that once hung in the church and that, tradition says, inspired Poe’s famous poem “The Bells.” Unfortunately for the tradition, contemporaries and scholars have a list of competing churches, such as the Church of the Ascension and Grace Church, in lower Manhattan near the house of Poe’s friend Mrs. Schew, who claims he wrote the first two verses there. According to another tradition, this bell hung in the cupola of the mansion and called students to class and meals.
    • Poe liked the Jesuits, as he told a friend, because they were “highly cultivated gentlemen and scholars, they smoked and they drank, and played cards, and never said a word about religion.” . . .
    • After their walks, the fathers turned Poe loose in their library, where he sometimes lingered so late they would offer him a bed for the night. If—and this happened only rarely—he joined the fathers in a glass of wine and his symptoms began to appear, someone would gently offer an arm and say, “Come, Poe, we will go home now.”
  • So that’s Edgar Allen Poe and the university church.
  • Now, when I was a freshman, I was told a story, I believe by the RAs, about a priest, or maybe a student training to become a priest, who lived in St. John’s Hall, back when it was a seminary.
    • Content warning for suicide here, just skip forward a minute or so if you don’t want to hear about that. I try not to give suicide details as a general rule, but is slightly more detail than I would usually give, just because the story doesn’t work if I don’t say how this person killed himself.
    • The story goes that back when Queens Court was a seminary, it was extremely cold in the hall.
    • One priest couldn’t stand it anymore, so he hanged himself. I was told that when they found him, his feet were banging against the radiator, so nowadays, when you hear the radiators banging, it just may be the ghost of this priest.
    • Okay, that’s silly, because radiators are really loud, especially old ones, it’s a thing. A loud radiator, in and of itself, does not mean that a location is haunted. But it’s a fun, creepy story that RAs tell new students, whatever.
    • It’s apparently so commonly told that the book Ghosthunting New York City by L’Aura Hladik (2011) even mentions that specific story and says that RAs tell it to scare freshmen.
    • So I’ve always been like, eh, that story’s obviously BS made up to scare people.
    • Here’s the interesting thing, though.
    • In his 2016 book Fordham: A History of the Jesuit University of New York: 1841-2003,  Thomas J. Shelley writes that after the first 4-5 years of the seminary’s history things were going pretty well. However, by around 1850, conditions had begun to deteriorate:
      • There were repeated complaints that the poor living conditions in the seminary were impairing the health of the seminarians. One of the professors, Father
      • Isidore Daubresse, admitted that the cold and dampness had led to the death of at least one student, but he claimed that the Jesuits had appealed to the diocese in vain for three years to rectify the situation.
      • Moreover, said Daubresse, many of the seminarians came to them in poor health. “At vacations outside the seminary during the past several years,” he explained to his own superior, “some of them contracted cholera and other diseases. Should one be surprised then,” he asked, “that they return to the seminary in poor health?”
  • The book doesn’t say if this death was a suicide, or not, but it is cagey and vague, and it seems weird that they weren’t like, “a student died of cholera” or similar.
  • I really do wonder if there’s some truth to the legend about the seminarian’s suicide. And it’s one of those things: when part of a seemingly baseless urban legend starts to sound like it may be true, the rest of it suddenly appears in a different light.
  • So, the story of a haunting from a priest early in the building’s history, despite the building having been used for many other purposes, like a prep school, leads me to a philosophical question, as well.
  • If you’re a longtime listener, you know that a preoccupation of mine is this question: why do some spirits or entities haunt a location, and not others?
    • This is an interesting metaphysical question that I don’t expect to find an answer to, but embedded inside it are some other questions, which are easier to try to tease out and examine, I think.
    • Those other questions are: why do some locations have certain legends attached to them and not others? Why do some stories survive, and others fade out? Why, when some people have paranormal experiences, do they ascribe their cause to one historical figure (or past resident of an area) and not another?
    • The answers to these questions are obviously long and complicated and could yield many hours of healthy debate.
    • But the thing I’ve noticed is that one major thing seems to inform legends of hauntings, and to me legends informed by this are less credible:
      •  whoever had the greatest level of power and/or wealth in an area is more likely to be remembered than someone who had less power or wealth, and as a result, I believe that people are more likely to come up with an explanation behind their paranormal experiences that draw from the stories of the deceased people of the area who were best known
    • I think it’s important to think critically about the stories we tell about hauntings, both from a historical analysis standpoint, but also from the standpoint of trying to assess what you think about the veracity of a claim.
    • All this being said, I’m not trying to say that there’s any great injustice being done in this instance. I have no stake in whether ghost stories about Queens Court are about 19th century seminarians, students, or priests who died in the 20th century or later.
    • And I don’t really think that a seminarian suffering in terrible living conditions is any more privledged than a student. In fact, I think the opposite is true.
      • So for me, this is a point, a small point, in favor of this haunting potentially having some truth to it, despite also being an urban legend. We do know that conditions were bad, we do know that someone died, and that person is unnamed and pretty forgotten, so not exactly exciting fodder for a story that you’re making up.
    • I always feel that stories of hauntings about better known people are more likely to be fake (or wishful thinking), than stories that are about lesser known people. And of course, the more details someone comes out of an experience with, the more likely I am to think it’s true, versus vague urban legends, etc.
    • Anyway, I know that’s a long digression, but one thing that I do think is interesting about Fordham hauntings is that there are a number of them about priests who the person experiencing the phenomena wasn’t necessarily familiar  with previously, etc.
    • Also, there are famous people who’ve been associated with Fordham’s campus who, surprisingly, don’t have ghost stories about them, which I think is great, and which I think lends to the credibility of the other ghost stories. One of those figures is George Washington, who supposedly used the old manor at Fordham as a headquarters. The other figure is, of course, Edgar Allen Poe. I mean, if you want to make up a ghost story and you’re told you live on a haunted campus, wouldn’t you make up a story about Poe? I’m really impressed that the two most famous historical figures associated with the university seem not to have haunted it at all.
  • So I’ve been going on for a while, and next episode will really focus a lot on these hauntings. But I wanted to tell one more short story of a Queens Court haunting.
  • There’s a mention of Alpha House in the bit I’m going to read next, so I want to explain what the heck Alpha House is.
    • Today, it’s like a classroom/study lounge for the honors program, but it was originally built in 1864 at the campus entrance at 3rd ave and Fordham Road. (That’s right around where the Fordham metro north train station is now) For years after that, it was the college bookstore.
    • It was a gatehouse built from locally quarried stone, and it was built to test out the stone’s quality.
    • It’s since been moved to the middle of campus, near Hughes Hall, which I’ll talk about in a later episode.
  • So this come from The Ram, in an article that was published in 1983 and republished in 85 and 88:
    • “Another  ghost  who likes to keep tabs on present-day  Fordham  is the spirit  of the groundskeeper.  When  Alpha  House  was located  at the Third  Avenue gate  entrance  at the turn  of the century,  it  was used  to house  Rose Hill’s groundskeeper  and his family.  One of his duties was to  walk  around  campus  at  night  to  make  sure  all the buildings  were secure.  It’s said  that  one of  his favorite  tours  was around  St.  John’s Hall,  which he used to circle more than  once  swinging a small  lantern. Reportedly  he can be seen  late  at  night  circling  the same  building today,  leisurely checking the doors and swinging his lamp.”
  • Alright, so that’s the groundskeeper ghost. I haven’t heard of this haunting mentioned outside of the pages of The Ram, but I think it’s a nice, cozy story to close on.
  • I’ve got a bunch of poltergeist activity to talk about in the next episode, as well as the most famous Queens Court ghost story, which involves a student talking to a ghost and not realizing it, AND a ghost performing a possible exorcism, so come back the week after next for that!

 

Sources consulted RE: the Ghosts of Queen’s Court

See sources page for the full source list for the series

Books consulted

Don’t miss past episodes:

A look at some supposed ghosts and haunted cemeteries in Beacon, NY, as well as some haunting aspects of the area’s recent history.

A feeling of uneasiness permeates the beautiful town of Beacon, NY. It’s a city of industrial ruins, cemeteries (including a terrifying abandoned one), and the memories of a sanatorium for the ultra wealthy and an old asylum for mentally ill criminals. Deep woods surround the city, and mountains loom, adding to a sense of natural beauty, or, possibly, of claustrophobia and a feeling of being watched.

Highlights include:
• A figure that my wife saw in my footage from an abandoned cemetery
• Supposed cemetery hauntings
• Zelda Fitzgerald’s stay in a sanatorium in Beacon


Bail fund to get vulnerable people out of Rikers Island: https://emergencyreleasefund.com/
More information about what’s happening on Rikers Island: https://theintercept.com/2021/09/16/rikers-jail-crisis-de-blasio-reforms/
https://www.democracynow.org/2021/9/15/headlines/a_humanitarian_crisis_new_york_officials_call_out_horrific_conditions_at_rikers

Pictures of Haunted Cemeteries in Beacon

Haunted Cemeteries in Beacon

The front of the former Dutch Reform Church

Haunted Cemeteries in Beacon

A view down toward the cemetery

Haunted Cemeteries in Beacon

A solitary chair sitting behind the church, facing the cemetery

Haunted Cemeteries in Beacon

The abandoned Dutch Reform Church cemetery in Beacon, NY

 Haunted Cemeteries in Beacon

The abandoned Dutch Reform Church cemetery in Beacon, NY

 Haunted Cemeteries in Beacon

The abandoned Dutch Reform Church cemetery in Beacon, NY

The abandoned Dutch Reform Church cemetery in Beacon, NY

View of the Hudson River, with geese flying overhead, from the abandoned Dutch Reform Church cemetery in Beacon, NY

Haunted Cemeteries in Beacon

The abandoned Dutch Reform Church cemetery in Beacon, NY

Haunted Cemeteries in Beacon

The abandoned Dutch Reform Church cemetery in Beacon, NY

Script for Haunted Cemeteries in Beacon

DISCLAIMER: I’m providing this version of the script for accessibility purposes. It hasn’t been proofread, so please excuse typos. There are also some things that may differ between the final episode and this draft script. Please treat the episode audio as the final product. 

  • I did a few newspaper searches and didn’t find that much about Beacon Hauntings. But on ghostsofamerica.com, a website where people can submit their stories of hauntings, there are multiple mentions of the graveyards in Beacon being supposedly haunted.
    • Obviously this is not the most reputable source, and the accounts don’t say which graveyard these experiences occurred in, but here they are:
      • § “. . . The grave yards were very haunted and when you went in them you immediately felt spirits watching and following you and it was confirmed by the sounds in the woods walking with you as you were walking and you couldn’t get out of them fast enough. Beacon NY is a place of many haunting’s in many places.”
      • ” Okay my friends and I go walking throughout a graveyard every once in a while. We help take care of things and just goof off. So one time one of my friends was walking through and she noticed the grave of a little girl.
      • It was dusk and getting dark so she was going to go home. On her way out she heard giggling and walking behind her. She turned around and followed it and it led her back to the little girls grave. The other day it was her, my boyfriend, two other guys and I.
      •     We were walking and being nonchalant and I noticed a little girl. I could only see from the middle of the bridge of her nose to the middle of her shins. She laughed. I’d seen her before but this time I wigged.
      • I ran out so fast that I almost passed out. My friends house is on the corner a few blocks away so I just hi-tailed it there. My boyfriend, his friends, and my girlfriend were all puzzled. Whilst running away I heard the little girl laughing.”
  • The Abandoned Dutch Reform Church Cemetery
    • First off, if you visit this cemetery, you’re trespassing. Don’t want to encourage anyone to trespass, the whole place is covered in no trespassing signs and stuff, and I’m not totally convinced that it’s completely safe. I was very careful where I was walking, and at all times, I have an easy way to broadcast my location to my emergency contact if I ever get in trouble, but I found at least one place where it looked like a grave had partially collapsed or something–there was just a hole that looked like it went way down into darkness.
    • In addition to the safety concerns here, this cemetery is off a busy road, near the train station, and it’s in between two different police departments. The train cops are about a block away, near the station, and the regular cops have a huge station about a block in the other direction. Also, while three sides of the cemetery are very wooded and you can’t see much through the trees and grass, at least in the summer, one side is pretty open and leads to a fancy apartment complex that I’m completely sure has surveillance cameras. So I don’t know how much people care about folks trespassing in the cemetery, but I do know that if someone wanted to prove that you had trespassed, it would be pretty easy. While I was there, I didn’t geotag any of my instagram stories or anything, just to be safe.
    • Since, as you have probably already guessed, I’m an extremely cautious person, I woke up really early and left the airbnb before dawn, so that way not too many people would be around, since it was still dark. And in fact, aside from running into two deer that scared me half to death, and vice versa, the only other individual I ran into on the way to the cemetery was a middle aged man wearing a NYPD baseball cap who looked at me very suspiciously. So again–there’s a big police presence in town, and it is a small town so people know you’re a hiker from out of town.
    • So the cemetery is located at the bottom of a hill, behind the oldest church in Beacon. It used to be called the Dutch Reform Church, though it has  a new name now, and it’s a beautiful Victorian Gothic church from 1859. The Dutch Reform Church was originally built in 1813 in what was known then as Fishkill Landing, but it was demolished and replaced with the 1859 structure.
    • So I went to this church, and walked around to the back. First thing I saw was a folding chair set up behind the church, facing the woods and cemetery behind it. No one was there, but that was really chilling, to just see that chair in the dark, as if as soon as I went down into the cemetery someone would sit there and watch me.
    • The cemetery has yellow crime-scene-type tape around it on that side, but there was a clear gap in the trees for a path where people might go down the steep path.
      • I didn’t have my headlamp with me, because that had vanished on me right before the trip (I’ve since ordered a new one), and I just had my mini maglite flashlight, so there was no way I was walking down a steep decline in the woods in the dark without being able to see where I was walking, especially because I was just wearing running shoes. (Since this trip, I’ve ordered hiking boots that work in warm weather–I learned my lesson.)
      • So I figured I’d walk around the block and look at the cemetery from the other side, where the major road was.
      • By the time I’d walked around, the sun had risen, but luckily there still weren’t any cars on the road. I found a place that looked a little easier to scramble up from the sidewalk, and ended up in the cemetery.
      • Then when I got into the cemetery I saw that there was an easy way in and out, near the apartment complex I mentioned, so that’s how I ended up in the cemetery.
    • The whole time I was in the cemetery, I had a really strong feeling of being watched. At the time, I thought it was just a combination of seeing the chair facing the cemetery (which I couldn’t see from inside the cemetery), the apartment complex where people could see me from their windows if they looked out of them, and just the knowledge that I was trespassing. And maybe that’s all it was, but I felt . . . Extremely uncomfortable in the cemetery. I didn’t attempt any paranormal investigation type stuff, and mostly just walked around, took some pics and video, and then left as soon as I could.
    • Also, it was summer, and was extremely hot and humid, and it was extremely buggy in there. That’s when I realized that I’d forgotten to bring bugspray. So the whole time I was fighting off mosquitos and flies that were just swarming me, even though my only exposed skin was my lower arms, hands, and neck and face.
    • Anyway, the Atlas Obscura article mentioned that there were human remains visible around the collapsed family vaults on the side of the hill, but I didn’t see any human remains there. I will say, though, the Atlas Obscura pictures looked like they’d been taken on a bright winter afternoon, and it was an overcast summer day right at dawn, so the vaults, which are arched brick structures built into the hill, looked totally dark, even when I shined my flashlight into them. I didn’t see any bones, but I also didn’t go inside, because of 1) the dark, and 2) I really don’t think it’s safe at all to go into them, because they were I  the process of collapsing. Like the arched entryways were collapsing, it was very creepy and very obviously dangerous.
    • I actually think some of the human remains I saw in pics online have been removed since; I read later on elsewhere that the remains from the vaults were relocated, including the remains of a Colonel William Few, who signed the US constitution on behalf of the state of Georgia. It sounds like his remains have been re-interred in Georgia, though there’s still a historical marker in front of the church announcing that he was buried there. Few’s remains were moved in the 1970s, but I get the sense that the other re-interments happened in the last decade or so, though I could be wrong.
    • The burials in the cemetery range from 1813 to the early 20th century; I think the last burials were from the 1920s.
    • All around the cemetery, there were tons of fallen tombstones and monuments. There was also a stone wall on the far side of the cemetery, that led to a part of the cemetery that wasn’t in the woods. It was a clearing, but because the cemetery is abandoned and it was late summer in NY, there was tall grass and other underbrush type stuff that was taller than I was. I could see some monuments through the grass, but there was no way I was venturing into the tall grass where I couldn’t see anything. Bugs, particularly ticks, were my main concern, but also it seemed unsafe and creepy. But looking  over at that part of the cemetery, you could see a view of the Hudson river, which was really beautiful. I would have said that it was peaceful, but like I mentioned I was extremely on edge and uncomfortable there the entire time.
    • So once I felt like I’d seen everything I safely could, I left.
    • Later, that night, I made my wife watch the gopro footage I took of the cemetery. I think I’ve mentioned this before but she’s very sensitive, a lot more sensitive to paranormal things than I am, and the whole time she was watching the footage she was just like, “turn it off, I don’t want to watch this, there’s something off about that place.” And I was like, it’s just a few minutes more, I just want to show you where I went and hear what you think. Near the end, when I filmed a bit of the cemetery  that’s closest to a thick stand of trees that are near the road, she was watching the video and was like, “who’s that?” And I was like, ” what do you mean who’s that, I was alone, it was really early on a weekend morning, there was definitely no one else there.” And she was like, “no, I saw someone.”
      • She didn’t want to watch the footage again, and I don’t blame her. I’ve watched it a handful of times now and haven’t seen anyone, though there’s a possibility that she saw movement from the wind blowing in the trees, or a car passing beyond the trees. We were watching it on the small screen of my gopro, after all. But even though I don’t see anything, I still think it’s notable and worth mentioning and worth me thinking about, just because my wife is more sensitive than I am and even if there wasn’t anyone there that I can see on the footage, she may have been sensing something non-visual or something. I don’t totally know how this stuff works, but I do think that two people can look at someone and see two different things, and I don’t think that means that one of them is wrong, especially when you’re talking paranormal stuff?
  • Methodist Cemetery + Afro American Union Burial Ground
    • So that same morning, I went to another cemetery afterwards. I was so relieved to leave that abandoned cemetery, it felt awful there.
    • Next I went to the Methodist Cemetery, which wasn’t too far away. Findagrave said it was well-maintained, though I’d debate that. A lot of tombstones were basically just stacked on top of each other, etc. There was also another hole that I thought might have been part of a grave having collapsed.
    • Notable thing about Black interees
  • Info from beaconcemeterytrail:
    • In 1851, James F. Brown along with Samuel Sampson, Edward Bush, Christian Reynolds, and Samuel Gomer purchased from John DeWindt, a portion of the land adjacent to the Methodist Cemetery to create a cemetery for the black community. The first burial was of J. Henry Roose on October 31, 1851.
    • There are a few surviving stones: for Warren Gomer, who may have been related to Samuel Gomer and for two Civil War soldiers, one is for Jno Jones  and the other, which is not legible, may be for Henry Sayles.
    • The stone for Civil War veteran Spencer DeFreese, who was buried on July 18, 1875,  must have fallen and moved at some point. It  is now in the Methodist section.
  • St. Luke Episcopal Cemetery-near the hiking path to Mt. Beacon
  • Other strange stuff in Beacon
    • I also visited the ruins of the old Beacon Hat Mill and Dennings Points Ruins (an old brick factory), both reminders of Beacon’s industrial past. I was bricks stamped with ____ at both our airbnb and at the ruins of the Mount Beacon Incline Railway, which were made at the brick factory.

Craig House

  • In 1859, a mansion was built on 60 acres of land in Beacon. Though the building was originally a home for a Civil War officer, it was purchased by Scottish doctor named Clarence Slocum. He renamed the mansion Craig House and turned it into basically a private sanatorium for the very weathy. To read a bit from the Atlas Obscura article about it, Slocum “believed that his patients could be cured by intensive talk therapy, coupled with fine dining and recreational pursuits like golf, skiing, and painting. For decades it was America’s most prestigious rehabilitation home, the perfect haven for patients to be cured.”
  • But a lot of really tragic stuff happened at Craig House. I did a couple episodes about Asheville, NC, last year, and one thing I talked about was how F. Scott Fitzgerald moved his wife Zelda to a sanatorium in Asheville because the hospital she was at in NY was too expensive. Craig House was where she was at in NY. At the time, 1934, Craig House cost $750/month, which is $15,311 today. So needless to say, it was extremely expensive, and as I talk about in the Asheville episodes, F. Scott Fitzgerald was’t exactly at the peak of his affluence in the 1930s. I go into more detail about the ends of both Scott and Zelda’s lives in the Asheville episode.
  • Another dark thing about Craig House is that Rosemary Kennedy was sent there after her lobotomy, which is a completely horrific story in and of itself that I won’t go into here. But needless to say, if there’s a Kennedy curse, it’s my belief that it came about because of what they did to Rosemary.
  • TW for suicide:
  • I found articles from April 15, 1950, about Frances Seymour Brokaw Fonda, Henry Fonda’s estranged wife and Jane Fonda’s mother, who killed herself at the Craig Sanitorium in Beacon. She was apparently depressed because Henry Fonda was marrying a 21-year-old woman. Francis Fonda was 42 years old when she died. One article I found mentioned that Henry Fonda was starring in a play, and he showed up for work to perform 12 hours after his wife’s death.
  • I did not visit Craig House, because it’s closed to the public and it sounds like the property is plastered with No Trespassing signs. Atlas Obscura said that someone new purchased the house in 2018, and apparently there are tons of cops around there.
  • But I’ll close this bit on Craig House with another quote from the Atlas Obscura article:
  • “Visiting today, it is a silent and haunting place. The inside remains perfectly preserved, as though the good doctor and his glamorous patients had suddenly just left the room. As Zelda at her most troubled wrote to her beloved husband, “The sense of sadness and of finality in leaving a place is a good emotion; I love that the story can’t be changed again and one more place is haunted – old sorrows and a half-forgotten happiness are stored where they can be recaptured.””

Prisons

  • I found some articles from July 1961, about 5 escaped inmates from the Matteawan State Hospital in Beacon. Two of the inmates were murderers. The cops ended up finding them hiding out in the woods a few miles away from the institution.
  • There was also a case in June 1953 where some inmates escaped, and there were others around that time.
  • The Matteawan State Hospital for the Criminally Insane was founded opened in 1892; technically another institution called the Asylum for Insane Criminals, was relocated there, and then renamed in 1893.
  • In 1899, another mental hospital for prisoners was opened at Clinton Correctional Facility, which was called the Dannemora State Hospital for the Criminally insane. Wikipedia describes it as “a massive insane asylum.” Apparently people call Dannemora “New York’s Little Siberia” because of how cold it gets, and how islated upstate NY is. BTW, I looked it up and Dannemora isn’t anywhere near Beacon; it’s a 4-5 hour drive away, pretty close to Canada. But anyway, Dannemora held male prisoners who went insane while serving their prison sentence, whereas Matteawan State Hospital held male prisoners who weren’t convicted yet, and both convicted and unconvicted female prisoners.
  • While Matteawan closed in 1977, its cemetery, where 1,000 patients are buried, is apparently just south of Beacon High School. And some of the buildings of the old Matteawan State Hospital are now part of the Fishkill Correctional Facility, which is a prison that is now in Beacon, which has both minimum and maximum security sections. One thing that seems worth mentioning is that in 1998, they built a maximum security S-Block Special Housing Unit (SHU) to hold 200 inmates. I usually think of the SHU as meaning solitary confinement, but I’m not totally sure if this is 100% solitary or not. But solitary confinement is torturous, and if you want to hear more about that, check out the recent Lunatics Radio Hour podcast episode about isolation–they have a whole episode basically about what happens to the human psyche when isolated. The Fishkill Correctional facility is less than a 10 min drive from the train station at Beacon, so like less than 3 miles.

 

 

Sources consulted RE: Haunted Cemeteries in Beacon

Articles consulted

Websites consulted 

Podcasts consulted

Don’t miss past episodes:

A look at the creepy stories surrounding the mysterious ruins of Haunted Bannerman Castle, which lies in the middle of the Hudson River.

About 50 miles away from Manhattan, the ruins of a castle lie on a small island in the Hudson River. Travelers pass the ruins on the train, and the only clue to the history of the destroyed castle are the words “Bannerman’s Island Arsenal,” emblazoned on the side of the structure. The island, and the area, has a long history of hauntings, from its pre-colonial times, to the superstitions of Dutch sailors and stories of a legendary goblin king.

Highlights include:
• A ghost ship
• A poem about the goblin king
• An amateur architect
• Exploding steamships
• Old-timey sailor hazing

Episode Script Haunted Bannerman Castle

DISCLAIMER: I’m providing this version of the script for accessibility purposes. It hasn’t been proofread, so please excuse typos. There are also some things that may differ between the final episode and this draft script. Please treat the episode audio as the final product. 

  • Bannerman’s Castle / Pollepel Island
    • About 50-60 miles away from Manhattan
    • Visible from train
    • I saw from train, wanted to visit
    • It’s this big, crumbling, Scottish style castle that says “Bannerman’s Island Arsenal” on the side
    • steamboat races, sunken ships, not on maps
  • Chen, David W. “Long Abandoned, an Island in the Hudson is Restored.” New York Times, Late Edition (East Coast) ed., Nov 28 1999, p. 1, 45:3. ProQuest. Web. 13 Sep. 2021 .

 

“The portcullis and drawbridge have vanished. The pith helmets and cannonballs are gone. But the crumbling Scottish castle remains, cryptically adorned by the chiseled words ”Bannerman’s Island Arsenal.”

 

Ever since it was abandoned in the 1950’s, this island, one of the Hudson River’s most incongruous and inaccessible ruins, has fascinated history buffs. Once the private warehouse of Frank Bannerman VI, an eccentric Scottish immigrant in the military supplies business, the castle has deteriorated so badly that the island has been declared hazardous and off limits by its current owner, New York State.

 

But now, Pollepel Island is becoming more than just a place of mystery and memory. . . .

 

Situated only 50 miles north of the George Washington Bridge in the town of Fishkill, Pollepel Island had a colorful history even before the Bannermans arrived at the turn of the century. American Indians believed that the island was haunted. Dutch sailors feared goblins who, legend had it, whipped up squalls, dooming many a vessel.

 

And the name itself is said to have two possible sources: One is a Dutch word meaning ”pot ladle,” referring to the drunken or boisterous sailors who were deposited on the island while their vessels cruised the Hudson, then picked up after they sobered up. The second is a girl named Polly Pell, the object of two gentlemen callers and the subject of a dramatic tale of love, honor and rescue — on the island.

 

In the Revolutionary War, American colonists installed chevaux-de-frise — a kind of underwater fence of sharpened logs — between the island and Plum Point, on the western shore. The idea was to sink British vessels. But the British weren’t fooled: no ships were sunk.

 

By the end of the 19th century, the uninhabited island, owned first by the Van Wycks, then by the Tafts, was used sparingly as a picnic ground and fishing spot. Then came Frank Bannerman, whose Manhattan business traded surplus military goods — including, at one point, 90 percent of the equipment from the Spanish-American War, Mr. Caplan said. The problem was that New York City officials prohibited the storage of such combustibles. So Mr. Bannerman bought this island in 1900 to build his own warehouse-cum-billboard, visible from the trains humming along the Hudson.

 

Mr. Bannerman designed seven buildings for the island — three warehouses, two workers’ houses, a family residence and the signature six-story tower — in homage to his Scottish roots, complete with turrets, crenelated towers, a drawbridge and a moat.

 

Mr. Bannerman even invented a family coat of arms, said his grandson Frank Bannerman VIII. . . .

 

The island was not immune to accidents. In 1920, a powder house explosion injured three people and catapulted a 25-foot-long piece of stone wall onto the eastern shore of the Hudson, where it landed on the railroad tracks. And once, a cannon mistakenly shot a shell over a mountain and through a barn. No animals or humans were injured.

 

Still, the island, equipped with amenities like telephone service and indoor plumbing, often possessed a comforting, members-only kind of rhythm, as the Bannermans used the island primarily on weekends and a small group of employees lived there full time.

 

Visitors would gather at a spot on the eastern shore directly across from the island, and ring a brass bell that would echo across the 1,000-foot distance. Then, the island’s employees would board rowboats to pick up the visitors — who often carried jugs of drinking water, since the river’s water was not potable.

 

After Frank Bannerman VI died in 1918, two of his sons, Frank VII and David, took over the business, which also published a well-regarded military supplies catalog. In 1959, the family moved the business from Manhattan to Long Island, and emptied the island of its remaining supplies. In 1967, the family sold the island to New York State, and by 1969, when a suspicious fire gutted many of the buildings, Mr. Bannerman’s island had fallen into desuetude.

 

The castle is visible from West Point, about four miles to the south. But to many drivers, train passengers and boaters, the castle may resemble something mistakenly plucked from Robert the Bruce’s Scotland. The Dutchess County Tourism Promotion Agency fields more phone calls about Bannerman’s Island than about any other place.

 

”Because it’s sort of unexpected,” Ms. Arena said, ”people ask, ‘What is that?’ ‘Did I really see it?’ ‘Was it a movie set?’ ‘Are there romantic or tragic stories behind it?’ ” (According to Mr. Caplan, the castle did appear in ”North by Northwest.”)

 

On a recent tour of the island, Jim Logan and Thom Johnson, two members of the Bannerman Castle Trust, noted how Mr. Bannerman had used recycled bedsprings, bamboo spears and bayonets as building materials. The tower, they explained, was actually designed to create an optical illusion, with top floors wider than the lower ones to make the building look imposing. And none of the buildings contained right angles.

 

Unfortunately, vandals have sullied the place in recent years, security cameras and No Trespassing signs notwithstanding. There is fresh graffiti, done in tribute to Limp Bizkit, Kid Rock and teenage romance. Nature has asserted itself, too, as evidenced by the spread of poison ivy and sumac.”

  • Bannerman island trust restored the castle and island

Bischof, Jackie. “Preserving a Hudson River ‘Castle’; Trustees of the Bannerman Castle are Trying to Preserve what’s Left.” Wall Street Journal (Online), Jan 13 2014, ProQuest. Web. 13 Sep. 2021 .

    • “The castle was built as a summer home for the Bannermans and to house the inventory of the family business, which dealt in military goods such as firearms, uniforms and cannons, according to Mr. Gottlock.
    • The business was started in the 1860s in New York City. After the end of the Spanish-American war, neighbors became alarmed at the idea of Mr. Bannerman stockpiling explosive materials in the middle of Lower Manhattan and he was “more or less leaned on to leave,” Mr. Gottlock said.
    • In 1900, he purchased the 6½-acre island, known officially as Pollepel Island and located between Beacon and Cornwall-on Hudson.
    • Over the next 17 years, Mr. Bannerman proceeded to build a summer residence, a superintendent’s house and five buildings, including the tower. He based the architectural design of the buildings on castles in Europe, particularly in Scotland and Belgium.
    • Mr. Bannerman emblazoned the side of the main building with “Bannerman’s Island Arsenal” in four-foot letters for passing boats and trains to see and which are still visible today. He planned to continue building on the island when he died in 1918.
    • Since then, the castle has suffered a series of misfortunes. In 1920, a powder house on the island blew up with a boom that was heard in the far reaches of the Hudson Valley and shattered windows. In 1969, two years after the Bannerman family sold the island to New York state, a massive fire raged for three days, devastating its buildings.
    • And in late 2009 and early 2010, stormy weather conditions are believed to have caused the collapse of a number of its walls. The island also suffered at the hands of vandals, scavengers and trespassers during years of neglect before the trust took over care for the island in 1993.
    • Visitors today aren’t permitted to come within several feet of the island’s buildings, but their dramatic architectural design and dilapidated state draw thousands of snap-happy tourists each summer.”
  • Frank Bannerman, who built the castle, made his money from dealing surplus arms. He started in that line of work when he was 14, buying surplus ordnance I think from the Spanish American War
  • He was scottish, and a lot of the castle is a tribute to his scottish roots
  • Dunlap, David W. “A Restoration on the Hudson: [Metropolitan Desk].” New York Times, Late Edition (East Coast) ed., May 22 2011, ProQuest. Web. 13 Sep. 2021 .

“FIRST-TIME travelers along the Hudson River might have been forgiven for thinking, upon first astonished glance, that they had seen Brigadoon emerging midway between Beacon and Cold Spring, N.Y. For everyone else, the view of that mysterious Scottish castle known as the Bannerman’s Island Arsenal had grown more disheartening over the years.

 

Into the late 1960s, the fantastic confection was still pretty much whole, until fire gutted it in 1969. Just a few years ago, the ornate shell of the tower keep was largely intact, encrusted with turrets, crenels, merlons, oriels, corbels, loopholes and bosses that looked like cannon balls. Whatever providential force held the walls precariously upright expired in the winter of 2009-10, when much of the tower crumbled.

 

In April, however, signs of a modest revival could be spotted on Pollepel Island, as it is formally known, which is owned by New York State and managed by the nonprofit Bannerman Castle Trust. The trust, which offers guided tours to the public, has begun a $358,000 stabilization of an elaborate summer residence uphill from the castle, including a new roof and new floors.

 

The residence was built in romantically medieval style in the early 1900s by Francis Bannerman VI. Downriver, at 501 Broadway, between Broome and Spring Streets, Bannerman operated New York City’s premier army-navy store at a time when that meant more than warm jackets and sturdy boots. He dealt in real wartime ordnance and materiel, and was said to have cornered the market in surplus from the Spanish-American War.”

  • I tried to look into the haunted history of the island some more. There’s a great video by Full Dark Paranormal (confirm) on youtube that I recommend that you check out, that mentions shadow people.
  • There was also the dutch superstition. From a 1996 NYT piece, Rodell, Susanna. “Bannerman’s Folly: A Hudson Island, Haunted by Goblins.” New York Times (1923-), Jan 20 1996, p. 22. ProQuest. Web. 13 Sep. 2021 :
    • “The early Dutch sailors who had to navigate the river believed this part of the highlands to be haunted by goblins who were responsible for the murderous and sudden squalls that came out of nowhere and often sank their ships. They believed that once past the island, a ship was safe. The name “pollepel” is said to be derived from the Dutch word for potladle, a reference to the drunkenness of sailors who were put ashore on the way upriver and picked up on the return journey once they were sober. A variation on this lore has it that old salts purposely got first-timers drunk and put them ashore on Pollepel to appease the awful Heer of Dunderberg (the goblin described by Washington Irving).
    • “Another legend refers to a young farm girl named Polly Pell who lived nearby during the Revolution and was courted by her old schoolmate Guert Brinkerhoff and a refugee minister from British-held New York, Paul Vernon. Brinkerhoff took her for a sleigh ride on the ice and Vernon, fearing the ice was unsafe, pursued them. He was right. He reached the pair just as the ice broke up. As the tide turned and began sweeping them downstream, Polly, who was sure the end was near, confessed her love to Brinkerhodd. Vernon nobly married them on the spot, just before the current smashed their ice floe onto the island, which was named–when all were rescued–after Polly Pell. . . .
    • “According to old river hands, during the awful squalls you can still hear orders being shouted by the captain of the Flying Dutchman, which like many other vessels sank south of the island in the early 1700s. In fact, the ruins as they now stand seem a fitting tribute to the highlands’ spooky legacy. Clearly any new human effort here will have to content with the Heer of Dunderberg.”
  • I’d never heard of this Heer of Dunderberg, but here’s what I learned about him:
    • Apparently the legends about him date to the days of Dutch New Amsterdam, there were stories of a mysterious ship, not flying any flag that anyone could recognize, going up the Hudson, all the way from Gravesend Bay, to the Hudson Highlands.
    • He was mostly seen in the highlands, and it was said that the ship was an omen or warning of death.
    • If you tried to flag down the ship or get anyone to respond, you wouldn’t be successful. Some people attempted to shoot it with cannons, but the balls seemed to go right through without damaging the ship.
    • Sailors would try to get close to the ship, which would disappear as soon as they got close.

SeaKayaker.com:

“During the black squalls that came in the spring, the old rivermen claimed to hear the shouted orders of the long-dead Captain of the “Flying Dutchman”, which was sunk on the flats south of the Island in the early eighteenth century.”

  • The ship was usually seen by moonlight, and usually a huge storm would accompany it or happen right after.
  • If the ship appeared, heading straight for yours, you were supposedly doomed.
  • I think the idea is that the ghost ship is the ghost of the Flying Dutchman, which sunk in a storm just south of Pollepel island. Other people say that it’s the ghost of the Halve Maen (which in English is Half Moon), which was the ship that Henry Hudson, whose ghost has also supposedly been seen further north, near the Catskills. Also, supposedly Henry Hudson saw ghostly figures in the area as well, when he was sailing.
  • A website called anomalien has a good description of this:
    • “Many Dutch sailors believed that this was a ghost ship summoned by the Heer of Dunderberg to prey upon unwary vessels on the river. A ship summoned from their homeland in Europe where witches and goblins thrive.

 

The Heer of Dunderberg was told to be a goblin king and his army set about to bring his wrath of rain, wind, thunder and lightening to sailors making their way up and down the Hudson. Inexperienced sailors being the most likely victims. Dutch sailors would fasten horse shoes to their masts in an attempt to ward off the Dunderberg.

 

Most sightings would occur near the shadows of the Dunderberg, a large mountain thought to be the dwelling place of the Goblin King. This mountain also marked the southern gateway to the Hudson Highlands where the most treacherous encounters would occur. Sailors claimed to see a goblin-like figure when the biggest of storms hit.

 

He was a plump round fellow with a light colored sugar-loaf hat who was carrying a horn and would be seemingly shouting out orders, commanding the gales and lightening. Some would tell tales of seeing the sugar-loaf hat of the Storm King as he became to be known by some, blow in from nowhere and land in the rigging of the ship.

 

It would stay there until the ship passed out of the Heer of Dundenberg’s domain, then blow away as if by some unseen hand. Then the skies would clear. The northern boundary which marked safety was just beyond Pollepel Island.

 

Some sailors reported seeing the Storm Ship lingering in anchorage at Pollepel Island which led them to believe that island was the home harbor for the phantom ship. Some referred to this place as Dead Man’s Isle.

 

It became a ritual at one point, to leave a new sailor on the island on the voyage up the river, and then pick him up again on the way back. If he survived! If he did, then it was thought that the Heer of Dundenberg would leave him in peace during his future voyages up the river. Any attempts to inhabit this island have failed. The ruins of Bannerman Castle stand there as a testament to this.

 

There are those who believe that this ghostly ship is the Halve Maen, then vessel of Henrick Hudson and crew in an trans-morphed form. The ghosts of Henrick and his crewmen have been seen up river where it meets the Catskills on occasion. It is said that Henry himself happened upon ghostly figures when he and his crew grounded his ship.”

  • The American writer Arthur Guiterman, who published some books and poetry from the 19teens through the 1940s, and was known for writing funny poems, wrote a poem called “The Lord of the Dunderberg,” which I wanted to read a bit from. Basically, the poem describes a ship carrying rum being plundered by the goblins.:

“Goblin and kobold and elf and gnome

Riot and rollick and make their home

Deep in the Highlands, where Hudson glides,

Curving the sweep of his volumed tides

Round wooded islet and granite base

Down through the rush of the Devil’s Race.

Great is the prowess of Goblin might;

Dread is the malice of troll and sprite;

Chief of them all is the potent Dwerg,

Heer of the Keep of the Dunderberg!

 

Mountain and River obey his spell

E’en to the Island of Pollopel;

Brooding, he sits in the rugged glen,

Jealous of honor of sprites and men.

Ye who would sail his dominions through

Scatheless, withhold not the homage due!

Lower your peak and its flaunting flag!

Strike! — to the Lord of the Thunder Crag! . . .

 

Shrouding the vessel, before they wist,

Streamed from the Mountain a curdling mist.

Piercing the woof of that leaden veil

Pelted and rattled the heavy hail.

Hudson arose like a tortured snake,

Foaming and heaving; the thunder spake,

Rolled from the cliffs, and the lightning played

Viciously red through the pallid shade!

 

Oh! how the elements howled and wailed!

Oh! how the crew of the Geertruyd quailed,

Huddling together with starting eyes!

For, in the rack, like a swarm of flies,

Legions of goblins in doublet and hose

Gamboled and frolicked off Anthony’s Nose;

While on the shuddering masthead sat

Cross-legged, crowned with his steeple-hat,

Grinning with mischief, that potent Dwerg,

Lord of the Keep of the Dunderberg!

 

. . . Skippers that scoff when the sky is bright,

Heed ye this story of goblin might!

Strange the adventures of barks that come

Laden with cargoes of gin and rum!

When the Storm Ship drives with her head to gale

And the corpse-light gleams in her hollow sail —

When Cro’ Nest laughs in the tempest’s hem

While the lightnings weave him a diadem —

When Storm King shouts through the spumy wrack

And Bull Hill bellows the thunder back —

Beware of the wrath of the mighty Dwerg!

Strike flag to the Lord of the Dunderberg!”

  • From Myths and Legends of Our Own Land — Complete by Charles M. Skinner:
    • “Dunderberg, “Thunder Mountain,” at the southern gate of the Hudson Highlands, is a wooded eminence, chiefly populated by a crew of imps of stout circumference, whose leader, the Heer, is a bulbous goblin clad in the dress worn by Dutch colonists two centuries ago, and carrying a speaking-trumpet, through which he bawls his orders for the blowing of winds and the touching off of lightnings. These orders are given in Low Dutch, and are put into execution by the imps aforesaid, who troop into the air and tumble about in the mist, sometimes smiting the flag or topsail of a ship to ribbons, or laying the vessel over before the wind until she is in peril of going on beam ends. At one time a sloop passing the Dunderberg had nearly foundered, when the crew discovered the sugar-loaf hat of the Heer at the mast-head. None dared to climb for it, and it was not until she had driven past Pollopel’s Island—the limit of the Heer’s jurisdiction—that she righted. As she did so the little hat spun into the air like a top, creating a vortex that drew up the storm-clouds, and the sloop kept her way prosperously for the rest of the voyage. The captain had nailed a horse-shoe to the mast. The “Hat Rogue” of the Devil’s Bridge in Switzerland must be a relative of this gamesome sprite, for his mischief is usually of a harmless sort; but, to be on the safe side, the Dutchmen who plied along the river lowered their peaks in homage to the keeper of the mountain, and for years this was a common practice. Mariners who paid this courtesy to the Heer of the Donder Berg were never molested by his imps, though skipper Ouselsticker, of Fishkill,—for all he had a parson on board,—was once beset by a heavy squall, and the goblin came out of the mist and sat astraddle of his bowsprit, seeming to guide his schooner straight toward the rocks. The dominie chanted the song of Saint Nicolaus, and the goblin, unable to endure either its spiritual potency or the worthy parson’s singing, shot upward like a ball and rode off on the gale, carrying with him the nightcap of the parson’s wife, which he hung on the weathercock of Esopus steeple, forty miles away.”
  • To go back to hauntings at Bannerman Castle and the island itself, supposedly the explosion that ruined a lot of the castle was caused by a lightning strike, adding to the mythos of the island maybe being cursed.
  • The website anomalien also has this story of a haunting, which I hadn’t seen many other places:

“The property was protected by breakwaters, which were formed by the sinking of old barges and boats. There is a legendary tale that the tugboat captain of one of the boats requested that his prized vessel not be sunk in his presence, but before anyone knew it, the boat was sinking right before the former captains eyes. The captain cursed Bannerman and swore revenge. It has been said that employees in the lodge often heard the ringing of the boat’s bell at various times signifying that the captain had returned to make good on his promise.

 

Just as the tugboat captain experienced a devastating loss that would condemn him to Bannerman’s castle for an eternity, Bannerman would also experience loss.”

  • To flesh out the timeline a bit more, and elaborate more on the island’s potential curse, there was the explosion of 200 lbs of shells back in 1920 that ruined part of the warehouse. SeaKayaker.com has a good description of some of the island’s disasters:

 

The cannon being tested against the mountain jumped and its shell went over the mountain and through a nearby barn. The workman melting scrap put live ammunition in the melting pot with resultant disaster. The castle was often known to have as many as fifteen flags flying about it; however, lightning struck down the flag poles so frequently that it became impractical to replace more than a few of them. Then, on a hot august day in 1920, a tremendous explosion wrecked the arsenal. Two hundred pounds of powder and shells stored in a powder house exploded, heaving a barrage of brick, munitions and equipment high into the summer sky. A twenty five foot section of high stone wall was blown to the mainland, blocking the New York Central railroad tracks.

 

The castle was considerably damaged, while the tower, along with a corner of the Island itself, were blown far out into the river. Cities and villages along the river between Hudson and Peekskill were shaken by the explosion and hundreds of window panes were smashed.

 

  • though it stayed in operation, sales declined as the 20th century wore on. In 1950, the Pollepel, the ferry boat that took people from the shore to the island, sank, and after that the island was basically vacant. In 1967, NYS bought the island, and they started giving tours in 1968. Then, in 1969, there was a fire that happened under suspicious circumstances (I’d guess vandals, but who knows), which ruined the floors and ceilings of the structures. Then the island was closed to the public. It was’t reopened until the 2000s.
  • In 2009, a bunch of the castle collapsed–about 40% of the front wall and 50% of the east wall.
  • So basically now the castle part is just what’s left of the outer walls, with the inner walls and floors and stuff gone. You can still go into the family residence though, which has been restored a bit.
  • In April 2015, a woman and her fiancé kayaked out to the island, and when her fiancé didn’t return, she was charged with his murder, and plead guilty to negligent homicide.

 

Sources consulted RE: Haunted Bannerman Castle

Videos consulted RE: Haunted Bannerman Castle

Books consulted RE: Haunted Bannerman Castle

Articles consulted RE: Haunted Bannerman Castle

  • Chen, David W. “Long Abandoned, an Island in the Hudson is Restored.” New York Times, Late Edition (East Coast) ed., Nov 28 1999, p. 1, 45:3. ProQuest. Web. 13 Sep. 2021 .
  • Bischof, Jackie. “Preserving a Hudson River ‘Castle’; Trustees of the Bannerman Castle are Trying to Preserve what’s Left.” Wall Street Journal (Online), Jan 13 2014, ProQuest. Web. 13 Sep. 2021 
  • Dunlap, David W. “A Restoration on the Hudson: [Metropolitan Desk].” New York Times, Late Edition (East Coast) ed., May 22 2011, ProQuest. Web. 13 Sep. 2021 .
  • Rodell, Susanna. “Bannerman’s Folly: A Hudson Island, Haunted by Goblins.” New York Times (1923-), Jan 20 1996, p. 22. ProQuest. Web. 13 Sep. 2021 .
  • “F. BANNERMAN, ARMS DEALER, DIES: BROKE DOWN FROM OVERWORK IN SHIPPING HIS GIFT OF 50,000 GARMENTS TO BELGIUM. GAVE TO ALLIES $135,000 OWNER OF ISLAND ARSENAL IN HUDSON WAS CHARGED IN CONGRESS WITH ATTEMPT AT PROFITEERING.” New York Times (1857-1922), Nov 28 1918, p. 17. ProQuest. Web. 13 Sep. 2021 .
  • DePALMA, ANTHONY. “An Expert on the Hudson Seeks its Revitalization.” New York Times Sep 22 2005, Late Edition (East Coast) ed. ProQuest. 13 Sep. 2021 .

Websites consulted RE: Haunted Bannerman Castle

Don’t miss past episodes:

A look at the ghosts of Mount Beacon, a mountain named for its role in the Revolutionary War, which once housed a hotel and tourist attractions, and now is a beautiful, ruin-filled place to hike.

The town of Beacon lies about an hour and a half from Manhattan by commuter train. The area, which once brimmed with factories, is now a quiet, small town, full of crumbling ruins of its past, spooky cemeteries, and deep woods.

This episode focused on Mount Beacon: its history, the reminders it holds of the past, and a experiment to test out a solo version of the Estes method, a popular paranormal investigation technique, on the mountain’s peak.

Highlights include:
• The remains of a mountaintop train, hotel, and casino
• Wild speculation about some Estes session results
• Some of Beacon’s history

Note: the Estes session contains some brief expletives.

Script for Ghosts of Mount Beacon

Mount Beacon

  • Atlas Obscura has a page with things to do in Beacon, and out of the 6 attractions they list in Beacon, I did 5 of them over the course of 2 pretty strenuous days. I managed to go on three hikes to ruins, a boat ride to ruins, three cemeteries (and I tried to visit a fourth but couldn’t find it), and went to the art museum there–in 2 days. I was very tired.
    • Both days, I woke up around 4:30 am so I could go out around sunrise, or a little before. On Day 1, I went to an extremely spooky cemetery, and on Day 2, I went to the top of Mount Beacon, where the ruins of an old casino, hotel, and railroad, are, and I did a solo Estes session.
  • I want to talk about Mount Beacon today, and my Estes session up there, but first, a little history about Beacon, NY.
    • Today, Beacon is where (wealthy-ish) residents of NYC go for vacation. It’s an hour and a half train ride from GCT, on a commuter train, not Amtrak. So it’s really easy to get there.
    • It’s a very popular destination, and is rapidly gentrifying, and has a real Brooklyn vibe. There’s literally a bakery there where everything is gluten free, and either vegan or vegetarian. Which since I eat plant-based, that was good news for me, but that really belies some of the town’s history.
    • That being said, there’s also a large population of veterans there, and plenty of folks who seem like they’ve been there a long time. People in Beacon seem pretty friendly–it was pretty normal for locals to say hello to me when I was walking around town.
    • There was also a fairly sizable population of homeless people, at least on our most recent trip in August 2021. I was a little surprised by that, though maybe I shouldn’t have been, since it’s such a rapidly gentrifying area. For reference, I looked in at the windows of real estate offices in the area, out of curiosity, and 1-bedrooms cost more than they do in my area of Queens at least–I saw 1-bedroom apts that cost as much as our 2-br here in Queens. And houses for purchase look like they start around half a million dollars. So it seems like it’s as expensive, if not more expensive, to live there as it does to live in NYC itself.
  • So let’s get into Beacon’s history.
    • We know that, back in the 1600s, the Wappinger tribe lived on the land where Beacon is now. Land was purchased from them by fur traders from NYC in the 1680s, and I’ll give my usual land deal caveat here. I don’t know the details of the land deal, but many of the deals that colonizers did with indigenous people were suspect at the very best, and I expect that’s the case here.
    • Before Beacon existed, there were two towns called Matteawan and Fishkill Landing. Later on, in 1913, the towns were incorporated into a single town called Beacon. The name came from the beacon fires that patriots lit on top of Mount Beacon during the Revolutionary War.
    • Historically, Beacon had lots of mills and factories.
      • Early on, flour mills were a big thing there. During the Revolutionary War, arms were manufactured there.
      • In the early 19th century, hat production became huge there. It was known as  “The Hat Making Capital of the US,” though I believe it was technically the #2 hat making town in the US. But at one point, there were 50 different hat companies in the area.
      • I actually visited the ruins of an old hat mill, which is right near some nice hiking trails, one of which leads to the ruins of a brick factory out on a peninusla called Denning’s Point. Brick manufacturing was big in the area, in part because they could build factories on the water, and then boats could pull up and load up on bricks, and then carry their cargo down the Hudson to NYC, where they always needed more brick for building new construction.
    • There was also plenty of tourism in the area. Atop Mount Beacon, at different times, there was a hotel called the Beaconcrest, a casino, and restaurant, and an incline railroad to take people up to the mountain. People could take the train or a boat from the city or elsewhere, take a trolley to the mountain, and then take the train up the mountain. (Nowadays, if you want to go there, you have to walk 45 mins or so from the station, and then hike up the very steep mountain yourself.) There was also a ski area nearby, which closed in the late 1970s.
    • The incline railway opened in 1902, and was designed by the Otis Elevator Company; it was half a mile long, rose more than 1,500 feet, and had an average grade of 64%, which made it the steepest railroad in existence, at the time.
    • The Beaconcrest hotel could hold 100 guests, and the casino wasn’t for gabling, but it had a balcony that ran all the way around it, as well as a rooftop observatory with telescopes and a powerful searchlight.
    • An article published last year in a local paper, the Times Herald-Record, describes the top of the mountain:

“The top of Mt. Beacon was laid out like a park with fountains, walkways and summer houses, a large casino and hotel (in place by 1926), a roof observatory which housed powerful telescopes and one of the largest search flights manufactured, to light up the Hudson River at night. The 75-mile panoramic views from the summit and its natural setting would be the lures to get tourists.”

  • The most popular time for the destinations atop Mt. Beacon was the 1920s. However, on October 16, 1927, a fire destroyed the Beaconcrest Hotel and the Casino, atop Mt. Beacon. The powerhouse for the railroad was luckily spared, and the casino was rebuilt in 1928. However, before the hotel could be rebuilt, the great depression hit, stopping progress.
  • The tourism trade was hit by the great depression in the 1930s, the war in the 40s, and, according to the Mount Beacon Incline Railroad Historical Society, as more and more people got cars, tourist attractions took a hit. The idea was that when people relied on trains and trolleys, they ended up getting funneled into major tourist attractions. But once people had cars, popular destinations started to decline. I’d never read that before, but it makes sense. Also, meanwhile, since the 1930s, there’d been a number of fires on the railroad, destroying parts of the track, and it sounds like maintenance was getting more expensive. The railroad was sold in the 1960s, and while there’d been plans to redevelop, those plans fell through, and the railroad got older and more decrepit. When a fire broke out in 1967, the lower power station for the railroad, as well as one of the two railroad cars, was destroyed. In the 1970s, the railroad, which had had more and more sporadic service, finally closed. They parked the two cars in the middle of the track, hoping to avoid vandalism, and, as the historical society put it, it “awaited better times.”
  • In 1982, the railroad and powerhouse were put on the national register of historic places, which was a promising development. But, unfortunately, in September 1983, a huge forest fire broke out, destroying every part of the railroad. The fire was suspicious, probably the work of vandals. Today, if you hike around the area, you can see some bent, twisted parts of the track, some of the heavy metal cords, and the very picturesque ruins of the powerhouse at the top of the mountain.
  • This story reminds me a bit of the tales of Coney Island in Brooklyn–there was this cool vacation destination that included some cutting edge technology, but was destroyed by fire and allowed to decay.
  • So that’s the history of the spot. I visited a few weeks ago, for the second time.
    • I woke up really early, so I reached the peak at 7something am. It was an extremely foggy day–the mountaintop was in the clouds, and mist was literally swirling across the paths. It was also extremely hot and humid; I struggled a lot during the hike, because it was literally hard to breath the air.
    • The reason why I got out so early was that I wanted to be alone and to have the mountaintop for myself to try out an estes session. I saw very few other people, and no one else on the peak for the first 45 mins or so that I was up there, and even after that it was pretty empty. So my strategy of getting up there really early during terrible weather worked. Lol.
    • So I found a trail leading down the main part of the casino and hotel ruins, and that led to a bunch of boulders going down the side of the mountain, and so I climbed down until I got to a somewhat flat boulder that I could sit/lay down on. The view from the top of the mountain was generally obscured by the clouds and fog, but I could see part of the other peak of the mountain, so it was basically just trees as far as I could see.
    • As I set up my stuff, I heard something chewing loudly in the trees below me. I think it must have moved on when I started my session, but I was a little freaked out by it initially because I had no idea if it was a deer, or bird, or something like a bear. I remembered belatedly that bears were a thing. I don’t get out of the city much.
    • Also, there were tons of bugs on all the hikes I went on in Beacon, and I’d originally forgotten bugspray so I had to buy some on my first day there. So I unpacked my stuff, coated myself in some more of my DEET-free essential oil bugspray, and then, because there were still too many bugs, I sprayed some on the rock around me until I realized I was maybe being too high maintenance, and stopped.
    • I’m hoping to do a whole episode on the solo estes session method I’ve been trying out, but since I’ve only done it a couple times, I’m not ready for that yet. The mountaintop time was the second time I did it, and I’d gotten some really intense and troubling responses during the first time, which was just an initial test in the apartment. The session on mountain Beacon felt pretty chill, and relaxed, and peaceful. I was certain I wasn’t getting anything, but then when I listened back, there were some interesting parts which I’ll share. Nothing too conclusive or dramatic, but still there were moments when its responses made sense and it felt like there was a conversation.
    • So here’s the solo estes method I used: 
      • I pre-recorded over 150 questions, which have pauses of varying lengths built into the end of them. Those are each in their own track, and there are also tracks of different lengths of silence. I used an excel formula to randomly assign each track a unique number, which is the only way to identify it. Then I loaded the tracks onto the music player on my phone and hit shuffle so they play at random. I set the recorder down next to the phone so it can pick up the questions as well as the answers I get. Meanwhile, I’ve put on my Vic Firth headphones, plugged into the spirit box, and do the Estes session as usual, as if another person is asking the questions.
      • Since I have the headphones on, I can’t hear the questions. In a traditional Estes session, the receiver would wear an eye mask to block their vision, but since that isn’t safe when you’re in public and alone, I didn’t do that. At any rate, there were no lips for me to read (not that I can read lips anyways), and if for some reason I saw the track name on my phone, all I’d see was a random number, so there’s no way for me to know what question’s being asked. And there are so many questions that it’s not like I’m going to guess which question’s being played.
      • One important caveat here is that if you’ve listened to the episode I did on the Hawthorne Hotel, you’ll have noticed that I alluded to having some hearing problems. I have auditory processing issues, which means that often I have trouble distinguishing words–like I can hear a word, but I may think it’s either X or Y, or I may hear the wrong thing initially and then understand it a few seconds late. It means that at loud bars and restaurants, I can’t follow conversations at all, and even in regular conversation, I sometimes have to ask someone to repeat themselves, and then suddenly I realize what they said right after I finish asking them to say it again. A lot of my verbal understanding comes from context clues.
        • That presents some interesting challenges in an Estes session.
        • Many times, I heard voices, but couldn’t tell what they were saying. In those cases, I said nothing.
        • At other times, I heard something, said what I thought I heard, and then realized it could have been a different phrase. Typically, in regular conversation, when there are two different possibilities to what I may have heard, I try to use context clues. But often, my second understanding of what someone said is the correct one, bc that’s when my brain has had a chance to catch up to what was said.
        • So when I heard two possibilities, I said them both. On listening to the audio back later on, I allowed both as possible answers, but tried to think of which would make the most sense in context, because that’s how I would usually operate in a regular conversational setting.
        • I know that’s a little weird, but I’m not neurotypical, so welcome to my world! I’m sure a neurotypical person with no auditory or sensory processing issues would have an easier time doing this, but I’m still pleased with myself and happy with the results I’ve been getting doing this method. I feel like it’s really opened up new possibilities for me for doing solo investigations.
        • One interesting thing was that there was a moment where I thought I heard either augment or mountain, and I said I wasn’t sure, and it clarified by saying “mountain” again.
      • So that’s how I did the Estes session. I’m not aware of other people doing solo estes sessions like this, but if you’ve heard of folks doing that, please lmk. I’d love to talk to other ppl attempting this.
      • I’ll put a bit of the audio in here, and maybe I’ll post the full session as a bonus episode or something in this feed. A couple notes before we get into the edited session audio:
        1. You can hear a lot of train noise in here, because Beacon has a train station, which is far below the mountain, on the Hudson, but really it’s only a few miles away from the mountain.
        2. If you hear clicking noises, that’s me adjusting the spirit box.
        3. If you hear mechanical whirring noises, that’s my camera, which is a little loud. I took a few pics during the session.
        4. You might also hear my phone vibrate once or twice bc I forgot to  put it into DND.
        5. I cut out the long silences but didn’t delete any questions or answers, or reorder anything. But cutting out the silences between answers brought it from 28 to 13 mins long.
      • My questions are pretty quiet. I’ll put a transcript of the session on my website.
      • The question that came up was do you have a message for me, and I got back “you’re under Beacon” (or possibly “you’re under again”). I think it meant “you’re under Beacon” as in under the peak of Mt. Beacon, tho maybe it could be referrring to being “under” as in in the Estes session. Like a lot of the answers, this one started off feeling on track and making sense and then seemed to veer off an make less sense.
      • The second question, you can’t really hear, but it’s “where do you work?” I don’t really think I got much of an answer to that.
      • Also worth nothing, I forgot to do the table setting before the session and address whatever spirits I might be speaking to etc, so you’ll hear me do that in the middle of the session.
      • When the question “did you ever live through a pandemic?” came up, I thought the answer was interesting. I got the answer: “many happening yeah”–I couldn’t tell if it was someone talking about past pandemics and living through them, or for some reason I can’t get the interpretation out of my head that maybe it was a hint at the future, and more pandemics? That may just be me being morbid tho?
      • When the question “do you want to hurt anyone?” came up, I got a few interesting responses:
        • “morning temperature”–funny bc it was so hot. I almost to the sense that the entity was joking around with me.
        • Then it said “I do” which would be slightly chilling if the vibe wasn’t so generally positive.
        • Then a bit later, it said “I don’t kick” which was kinda funny
      • “if you once lived, did you die from illness”
        • “there’s no coffin” was an interesting answer, and then I heard “yeah” and “standard”–a lot of ppl used to die from illness
      • “how many of us are there” <–can’t really hear this question
        • “you are only one”<–pretty clear initial answer
        • And then a few responses later, I got “and then I lead”
        • Then I got the very funny “I want it your hat”
        • I wasn’t wearing a hat, but my baseball cap was attached to my backpack which was sitting right next to me
      • “do you ever feel trapped, or confused, or lost?”
        • While the question was playing, I got “hey”
        • And then “find me” which seemed pretty relevant
        • And then “air down follow maybe ow” and remember I was sitting on the side of the mountain looking down
      • “how many entities are speaking to me right now?”
        • I pretty quickly got “hive mind” (while that’s being said you can faintly hear flies or some other kind of bug buzzing in the background, and then it intensifies a bit over the next few responses)
      • The question “are you lost” came up, and I part of the response I got was:
        • “no fuck that”
        • Then it almost seemed to be having a conversation, because then it said “is it the same I know”
        • And the “schadenfreude” (which I can never pronounce right, but I mean the german word for feeling pleasure at someone else’s pain)
        • Then it said “home phone” and during the session when I said that all I could think of was ET phone home, which ties in with the idea of being lost. If there were multiple entities, maybe one was lost and the other wasn’t, and the non-lost one was somewhat rudely gloating?
        • Then I got “check this out” “wild” and “you’re gonna miss me”
      • “why are you here”
        • This q gets spoken over

Transcript of solo Estes session

For the full context of the session, listen to the episode.

Do you have a message for me?
You’re
Under
Again [or “Beacon”]
And I
A
Will
Looking at

Where do you work?
They [or “they are”]
Hoagie
Bereft

Do you ever have dreams in which you die?
[wasn’t hearing much, switched the headphone from being plugged into the spout to the headphone jack, clarified that I wanted to speak to nearby spirits or entities]
You
Are my [or “oh my”]

Did you ever live through a pandemic? What was that like?
Many
Happening
Yeah

DO you wish I would try to communicate with you another way? If so, how?
You’re

Is there anything you want to tell me?
I
Am [or “and”]
I [or “hi”]
Valiant [or maybe “valley”]
And [or “Annie”]

Is there something you think I should do, or that you want me to do?
Do you usually go here
Looking back
10 in the morning
[changed sweep rate to 150 ms]
Crowd
Frozen
You
I
Augment [or “mountain”]
Near me
The empire

Where were you born?
What [or “I”]
I
Crash [or “trash” or “craft”]
It
More to come [or “motorcycle”]
Eats [or “Keats”]
How you doin’

What is your location?
How are you
Ready
I
Need [or “wanted”]
Work
You
That’s it
No

How do you feel at this moment?
Ha
It’s short
Hey
Austin
Yeah [or “Yeats”]
Federal Hall [or “alcohol”]
Check that
Just
Snake [or “think”]

If you are dead, how did you die? And who was responsible for your death?
Hole
It’s just
Weekend
Weekends
Out back all day
Just that
Monster
Choice down
Baby
Yo

Do you have a favorite possession?
That hurt
Casualty
Where [or “wear’]
Water [or “at water”]

What do you think of me?
It’s here [or maybe “Jen’s here”]
Cruel [or “cruel lake”]
Out
It’s
It’s just [or “at dusk”]
300
Hi
What

If you were once human, what was your occupation?
Lie
I know
So [or “someone”]
Who
Effort

Do you want to hurt anyone?
Morning
Temperature
I do
There’s no
Keep
David [that was whispered]
Everyone
Moment
Enjoy [or “join us”]
End up
Every
I don’t kick
Anyone

If you once lived, did you die from illness?
No one
There’s no conference [or “there’s no coffin” or “there’s no coffee”]
Yeah
Standard
Flank
Further
Full mac
Trio [or “freedom”]
You need this

How many of us are there?
You are
Only one
You missed it
Hurt
And then
A leaf [or “I lead”]
I want it
Your hat [I wasn’t wearing my hat, but it was sitting next to me]

Do you ever feel trapped, or confused, or lost?
Hey [spoken while q was being asked]
Find me
Air
Down
Follow
Maybe
Ow
Tractful
Power night
Driftwood [or “stretch goal”]
Uncle
I know

How many entities are speaking to me right now?
Hive mind
No
I
Need a break
Beacon
The amount
And I
Vulgar
Apple
You get

Are you lost?
Out
Timing whispered
No
Fuck that
Is it the same I know
Schadenfreude
Home
Phone
Check this out
Wild
You’re gonna miss me

Why are you here?
Why [or “choir”]

[started to end session, then got one more response:]
It’s wrong

[ended session]

 

 

Sources consulted RE: Ghosts of Mount Beacon

Videos consulted RE: Ghosts of Mount Beacon

Websites consulted RE: Ghosts of Mount Beacon

Don’t miss past episodes:

A look at the elements of high strangeness in the 1893 story of a strange, acrobatic ghost in Woodside, Queens.

This episode delves into the Snake Woods and Rattlesnake Spring, the now-vanished wilderness of the New York City neighborhood of Woodside, and looks at the odd parts of the news reports of a ghostly figure. Though it’s possible that the entity was just an unhomed person wandering the dangerous, snake-infested woods, there are enough unusual elements in the story to bear looking at from a perspective of high strangeness.

Highlights include:
• Bigfoot
• Women in White
• Creepy reptiles

 

Episode Script for An Acrobatic Ghost in Woodside: Part 2

DISCLAIMER: I’m providing this version of the script for accessibility purposes. It hasn’t been proofread, so please excuse typos. There are also some things that may differ between the final episode and this draft script. Please treat the episode audio as the final product. 

  • I left off last time talking about St. Sebastian’s Church, the catholic church in Woodside that was located nean of this weird ghost story.
    • As a refresher, this was a story from July 1893, about an acrobatic ghost, or maybe an unhomed person, dressed in white and/or wearing a sheet. I’m really torn about whether I think this entity is a ghost or not, and I’m not totally convinced that it was, but I want to explore this topic some more and also go down a bit of a wormhole in terms of whether this ghost fits into the wild man archetype, etc.
    • As a reminder, here’s the description of the ghost from The evening world (New York, N.Y.), July 28, 1893:
      • “our ghost turns handsprings and cart-wheels, and it is very long and slender and white, and it makes no noise among the brittle sticks in the woods, except that it screeches with a blood-chilling unearthly, piercing yell that makes our knees shake and our hair to stand up”
    • The article also talks about the ghost running around on all fours.
  • Another reminder from last time is that there were some more recent ghost stories online about the same area where this ghost had been sighted back in the 19th century, and one of which was right near St. Sebastian’s Rectory. The recent sighting (when I say recent, I mean in the last decade or so), described seeing a girl in the empty field near the rectory: “She had a blank stare on her face; she was really pale with long black hair, and her dress looked like it was from the 1800s.” There was also someone online who encountered a UFO type sighting, also possibly in the same area, though it’s a little harder for me to pinpoint that location. St. Sebastian’s Church was founded the year after the ghost was sighted, in 1894, right around where the ghost was seen as well.
  • I was reading about the history of St. Sebastian’s Church on their website, and it mentioned that in the early days of colonial Woodside, there was a location called “Rattlesnake Spring” near 58th Street in Woodside, which was located either in or near “Snake Woods”.
    • Obviously I found that interesting, since the article about the Woodside ghost mentioned that “this old spring dates back beyond the recollection of the oldest inhabitants.”
    • So I searched Rattlesnake Spring Woodside and it turns out the Wikipedia page for Woodside mentions this place, so I wanted to read a paragraph from wikipedia about the early years of Woodside:
      • “”For two centuries following the arrival of settlers from England and the Netherlands, the area where the village of Woodside would be established was sparsely populated. The land was fertile, but also wet. Its Native American inhabitants called it a place of “bad waters” and it was known to early European settlers as a place of “marshes, muddy flats and bogs,” where “wooded swamps” and “flaggy pools” were fed by flowing springs.” Until drained in the nineteenth century, one of these wet woodlands was called Wolf Swamp after the predators that infested it. This swamp was not the only place where settlers might fear for the safety of their livestock, and even themselves. One of the oldest recorded locations in Woodside was called Rattlesnake Spring on the property of a Captain Bryan Newton. The vicinity came to be called Snake Woods and one source maintains that “during New York’s colonial period, the area was known as ‘suicide’s paradise,’ as it was largely snake-infested swamps and wolf-ridden woodlands.”””
    • More info in another book: https://www.google.com/books/edition/Historical_Guide_to_the_City_of_New_York/v4cGmMe6_okC?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=Captain+Bryan+Newton+woodside&pg=PA292&printsec=frontcover
    • So . . . Sounds like snake woods is not really somewhere you’d want to be hanging out, and it makes sense that the townspeople of Woodside only resorted to returning to the spring during a drought. Also, one thing worth mentioning: I’ve never seen a snake in NYC, but just the other day I was at Mt. Zion Cemetery in Maspeth, which is close to Woodside, and I encountered a family of lizards that lived in a grave and were slithering in and out. So the snakes may be gone, but there are still reptiles around there.
  • Alright, so I’ve managed to say a lot of weird stuff about this possible haunting, and now I want to stretch your credulity a little further. So, first, I feel like it’s not too much of a stretch to say that this ghost, entity, or person in the woods fits into the wild man archetype.
  • From wikipedia, here’s the definition of a wild man:
    • “The wild man or wild man of the woods is a mythical figure that appears in the artwork and literature of medieval Europe, comparable to the satyr or faun type in classical mythology and to Silvanus, the Roman god of the woodlands.”
  • There’s also a link between the wild man archetype and bigfoot. So, I’ve mentioned Timothy Renner’s work on this podcast before, but it’s been a while. He’s the host of the podcast Strange Familiars, which if you’re listening to this, you probably already listen to, and he’s also the author of a number of really great books, some of which are about bigfoot.
    • I’m going to be honest, bigfoot and cryptids in general aren’t my favorite topic–I’m much more interested in ghosts, for example–but the way Timothy Renner talks about bigfoot is really fascinating. There’re several schools of thought when it comes to bigfoot, and the dominant one, for a long time, was the “flesh and blood” bigfoot hypothesis, basically the idea that there’s an animal living out in the woods, and that animal is what people are seeing during bigfoot encounters. However, there’s also a school of thought that ties bigfoot into high strangeness and that links it to all sorts of paranormal phenomena, including poltergeists, fairies, ghosts, magic, witches, women in white, etc. And Timothy Renner’s work is focused in that second school, and boy does he have some interesting stuff to say about all of that.
    • He cowrote two books about this with Joshua Cutchin, called Where the Footprints End: High Strangeness and the Bigfoot Phenomenon, Volumes I and II, and if any of this sounds even remotely to you, you should buy them and read them, they’re great.
    • But when I was thinking about this ghost story, something sort of rang a bell for me, and I thought it was making me think of some anecdotes from these books.
    • First, there’s a term that Joshua Cutchin has coined called the wildnesgeist, or basically a wilderness poltergeist, so poltergeist activity out in the woods. In his chapter about the wildnesgeist in Volume I, he quotes a definition of poltergeist activity that paranormal investigator and author once wrote: “rock-and-dirt throwing, flying objects, loud noises, strange lights, and other apparitions, terrible smells, rapping, physical and sexual assaults, and shrieks.”
      • I think it’s worth nothing that the Woodside entity shrieked (and his shrieks maybe had an affect on people’s ability to run away or run after him), and, interestingly, years later in the 2010s, we have that random account of the UFO type lights seen somewhere nearby, as well as some other haunting stories, one of which sounds poltergeist-y. I’m not really trying to make a solid connection between these things, they could just be coincidence and mean nothing. But they’re interesting b/c they fit into a possible pattern and make me wonder if there’s something odd over in that part of Woodside.
    • The chapter also talks about how poltergeist “infestations typically begin and end abruptly, rarely exceeding a few months.”
      • We don’t know for sure when the interactions with the entity ended, but they certainly started suddenly, and had only been going on for a few days at the time that they were reported.
    • Also, I think most people know that poltergeists are often associated with adolescent girls, or kids going through puberty in general. To read from the wildnesgeist chapter: “Typical poltergeist agents” (people who poltergeists are attracted to) “are young and female, a data point resonant with bigfoot lore. Legends universally describe the creature’s keen interest in young women and children. . . . Poltergeists attach to female youths; youth and females attract bigfoot.”
      • One thing worth noting is that our Woodside wild man attacked children and women, but ran from men. In particular, we know that two 14-year-old girls, Annie Robinson, the daughter of a grocer, and her friend Josie Canton, were chased by the ghost. It seemed like a lot of the kids who the entity scared were around that age or a little younger.
    • Volume I has a whole chapter on women and white and white bigfoot sightings, so kinda an intersection between the woman and white and wild man archetypes. So I reread the chapter and wanted to share a few passages. This story about two brothers who’d experienced bigfoot sightings was first recounted on the podcast Sasquatch Chronicles , so to read from the book (258-259):
      • “The brothers lived near each other, in a wooded section of Tennessee. . . . Mick and Matt believed the bigfoot inhabited a wooded ridge line behind their homes. . . .”
    • One thing worth noting: a lot of bigfoot sightings happen in kinda small woods near where people live, so not necessarily in the deep darkness away from civilization. That made me think of Snake Woods in Woodside.
    • To continue reading:

“‘the two brothers’. . . Had been seeing an old woman in the neighborhood who they thought to be homeless. The brothers described this woman as appearing to be in her 60s, very tall, about 6’5″, and dressed in ragged, dirty white clothes that appeared too small for her frame; and old white shoes that appeared much too big . . . On one particular evening the brothers could hear the bigfoot creatures screaming on the ridge and they saw the old woman crossing their property, heading in the direction of the screaming sasquatches. They assumed the woman was insane and would be killed or injured by the creatures. In the morning, however, they saw the old woman heading back from the ridge. One of the brothers approached her, curiously, and asked her to stop. He wanted to ask her some questions and see if she needed help. The woman ignored him, so he asked again, but she still did not respond. He repeated his request multiple times, raising his voice: ‘Stop! Stop! Stop!’ but the old woman walked on as if he was not there. Finally, the brother said ‘I command you to stop!” At this, the old woman stopped, turned to the brother, cracked a sinister, evil grin, and disappeared into thin air. Both brothers witnessed the old woman vanish. The brothers consulted a medium and asked about the old woman. The medium said that the woman was not human, but an entity that appears human. The medium said that the bigfoot creatures were coming out of the earth and that this entity, which appears as an old woman, has control over the bigfoot creatures.”

  • So, I’m not saying that this man in white is exactly like the archetypal woman in white, or like the archetypal wild man.
  • There are a lot of standard bigfoot things, like wood knocks, or wild man things, like someone being really hairy and dirty, that just don’t seem to appear in the two articles I was able to find about the topic. And at least for me, the acrobatics that this person did don’t seem to ring a bell for something bigfoot, wild man, or woman and white related to me–the acrobatics stuff seems weird and unlikely, but not definitively paranormal. But I wanted to go into all of this because for whatever reason, I couldn’t stop thinking of some of the stuff I’d read or heard about these other archetypes (even the idea of him being near a spring made me think of bigfoot sightings near running water, for example.)
  • So maybe this entity was just an ordinary unhomed person, maybe a circus or vaudeville performer who knew acrobatics. Or maybe he was something more paranormal, and had some connection to all the stuff I’ve been talking about. Like most mysteries in both history and the paranormal, I don’t really have a satisfying answer for you.
  • But I hope you enjoyed hearing about this weird ghost story as much as I enjoyed researching it. I’d thought that I’d end up talking about several different ghost stories in the area of western queens today, but I got so into this one that it became the whole episode.

Sources consulted RE: An Acrobatic Ghost in Woodside

Books consulted RE: An Acrobatic Ghost in Woodside

Articles RE: An Acrobatic Ghost in Woodside

  • Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, The Evening News (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) · Fri, Jul 28, 1893 · Page 4
  • Image 6 of The evening world (New York, N.Y.), July 28, 1893, (LAST EDITION)

Websites consulted 

  • http://www.ghostsofamerica.com/1/New_York_Woodside_ghost_sightings.html
  • http://www.ufosentinel.com/15/ufosighting_15001130.html
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Sebastian
  • https://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-xpm-1997-02-09-9702090123-story.html
  • https://occult-world.com/sebastian-st/
  • https://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-xpm-2004-11-08-0411080014-story.html
  • https://forgotten-ny.com/2005/10/woodside-queens-part-1/
  • https://forgotten-ny.com/2005/10/woodside-queens-part-2/
  • http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/6406
  • http://saintsebastianwoodside.org/
  • http://saintsebastianwoodside.org/about-the-parish/https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_man

Don’t miss past episodes:

In 1893, a strange, acrobatic ghost dressed all in white appeared in a forest in Woodside, Queens.

The entity that was seen in the 19th century didn’t seem to communicate verbally, though he made strange, chilling sounds. He was able to move on all fours as quickly as an ordinary person could run, and had a penchant for acrobatic stunts like handsprings. It is unclear what happened to this entity, but more than 100 years later, other stories about ghosts in the Woodside seem to be centered in the same area. . . .

Highlights include:
• A UFO sighting
• Ghost hoaxes in Victorian Australia
• A creepy ghost of a 19th century child

 

Episode Script for An Acrobatic Ghost in Woodside (Haunted Queens)

DISCLAIMER: I’m providing this version of the script for accessibility purposes. It hasn’t been proofread, so please excuse typos. There are also some things that may differ between the final episode and this draft script. Please treat the episode audio as the final product. 

  • Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, The Evening News (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) · Fri, Jul 28, 1893 · Page 4
    • This story harkens back to an early episode of this podcast, which was about people dressing up and pretending to be ghosts in Australia, and then ppl chasing after them and trying to shoot them.
    • The headline of the article is “Hunting for a Ghost: Long Island Villagers Turn Out with Shotguns: A Gaunt Sheeted Specter Seen: This Particular Goblin Haunted an Old Spring, Where It Scared Children–If the Ghost is Caught he Will Get a Coat of Tar and Feathers”
    • It sounds like a group of people who lived in Woodside, which is a neighborhood near Astoria that I used to live in, set off to look for a ghost who had been hanging out around the old town spring and scaring children and chasing women and girls. Very similar to the stories of ppl “playing the ghost” in late 19th century Australia.
    • The location of the spring was in some woods near Betts Avenue and Greenpoint Avenue, which according to Forgotten NY, are now 58th Street and Roosevelt Avenue. (However there is still a Greenpoint Avenue near Calvary Cemetery.)
    • To read from the article:
      • “This old spring dates back beyond the recollection of the oldest inhabitants, and it is said that it never runs dry. It is the center of a network of paths that lead in from the avenues. The brush around it is taller than a man’s head. During the recent drought more than half the village of Woodside has obtained water from this spring. All day long until late at night groups of children, girls, and women could be seen in all directions with pails in their hands, going to and fro from the spring.”
    • So it’s a very old spring, but also very much in use.
    • A few days before the article was written, a group of kids were scared away from the spring; it happened a few times the next day, and the children were so frightened that they didn’t even want to go back to the spring to get their pails. A group of women were also scared away from the spring.
    • Here’s what apparently happened to everyone:
      • “While bending over drawing water they were stealthily approached from behind by a tall, gaunt individual, dressed entirely in white, who suddenly sprang upon them. The children say he got down on all fours and crawled after them like a ravenous animal. He chased 14-year-old Annie Robinson, whose father keeps a grocery store in Greenpoint avenue, more than a mile before she escaped.”
    • The article goes on to list a bunch of different people who saw this entity. One man saw him and chased after him, but, according to the article,
      • “he was not fleetfooted enough and in the dense woods he lost the trail. A search was made by some of the men that night. They discovered a sort of bed and shelter constructed deep in the woods, which was thought to be the rendezvous of the person they were hunting. A watch was left at the place, but no one came.”
    • One man from the neighborhood was walking home around midnight and “saw a figure sheeted like a ghost float out of a clump of brush and cut fantastic capers in the road, moving about as silently as a shadow. [The man’s] heart came up in his throat. He says he didn’t make any outcry, but every now and then the ghostly dancer would give utterance to an unearthly shriek that caused his hair to stand on end and made the cold sweat trickle down his back. Then the dogs began to bark, and persons disturbed by the shrieks came to their doors, and the phantom turned a few handsprings and disappeared as suddenly as he came.”
    • The article then says that the residents of Woodside were determined to hunt down this person or entity, because the wouldn’t feel safe otherwise. The idea was that they were going to shoot him, or coat him with tar and feathers and beat him.
    • There’s also an article headlined “This Ghost is an Acrobat” in The evening world (New York, N.Y.), July 28, 1893, (LAST EDITION) about the Woodside ghost, which calls it “the ghost of the spring.” It quotes people from the neighborhood as saying:
      • “Our ghost turns handsprings and cart-wheels, and it is very long and slender and white, and it makes no noise among the brittle sticks in the woods, except that it screeches with a blood-chilling, unearthly, piercing yell that makes our knees shake and our hair to stand up.”
      • It also talks about the girl who the ghost chased on all fours, and the article says that the entity was almost as fast on all fours as a 14-year-old girl was running, which is odd.
      • It also mentions the man who chased him, and it says that when the ghost screeched while it was running away, the sound momentarily paralyzed the man’s legs so he couldn’t chase it, and then it disappeared into the woods. Maybe that was just out of fear, but is it possible that something else was going on there, something paranormal?
    • I didn’t find other articles about the story, though I’m saying this with the caveat that I guess within the last day or two, my NYPL library card expired, which means I couldn’t access the different newspaper databases I usually search. So I searched the LOC newspaper archives, which aren’t as extensive, but they’ll have to do till I can go to Manhattan next to renew my card in person.
    • So, a couple things for this story. First, it’s possible that this is the story of an unhomed person who took up residence in the woods. That’s probably the most likely explanation, especially bc they found where this person was apparently living. But there’s some weird stuff in here too, and some aspects of the story that make me think that it’s fairly possible that it could have been something supernatural.
      • For example, why would a random unhomed person be dressed all in white? It doesn’t seem like the most practical color for a person who lives in the woods to be wearing, especially if he’s crawling around and doing handsprings, and if this person was wearing white but covered in mud, I kinda feel like the article may have mentioned that the man’s clothes was filthy, or something similar.
      • Also, why on earth would this person be doing handsprings? That’s a difficult move for anyone but a gymnast to be doing. Like I do a lot of yoga and stuff and can’t even do a cartwheel. Could this person be someone who once worked at the circus? Or was the person who wrote the article just exaggerating, and did this person not do any feat of acrobatics.
    • It’s maybe a long stretch to try to claim that this person was actually some sort of supernatural entity, but there were a few interesting things about this story that kinda light some lightbulbs in my mind that I thought might be interesting to talk about.
    • One interesting thing is that, like I mentioned, this wood was near present day 58th street and Roosevelt Avenue. There’s a church called Saint Sebastian Roman Catholic Church at Roosevelt Avenue and 58th Street, and the church’s rectory is a block or so away from there. This is just some rando on the internet, but a commentor at ghostsofamerica.com recounts a story about something that happened there, which I wanted to read:

Does anybody know any history background on the field that is near the Saint Sebastian Rectory on 57th Street? There used to be a house, but now it’s just an open field. Many years my sister and I were passing by and we saw a girl standing there. She had a blank stare on her face; she was really pale with long black hair, and her dress looked like it was from the 1800s.

She was there for a second and the she disappeared.

  • There wasn’t anyone saying anything about the history of the spot, but one commenter said:

Say what you will but I live on 58th and I have a ghost. This ghost has an obsession with ornaments. Every time I come home from work I find ornaments rearranged. It’s like this ghost just wants me to know he or she is there.

I have been trying to figure out if the ghost is trying to tell me something. Is there a way to communicate with this entity. Is there a way I can do this on my own or should I get a hold of an expert. Are there any ghost experts in this area.

I’ll be checking this site for a reply. Thanks.

  • Again, these are random people on the internet. But there weren’t other accounts of hauntings in Woodside on the site, though there was a link to UFOsentinel.com which has a one story from Woodside, which was an October 2014 UFO sighting. The entry reads:

I have lived here in Woodside on 61st Street since 2000 and have never witnessed anything like I did in October last year. I was with a brother and our dog Jenny. As we were near a church Jenny stopped frozen for about almost a minute.

Then she started to run around my brother like crazy. Then she stopped and stared at these 4 balls of lights. They were flashing yellow and blue and were flying or actually hovering on top of the empty field right by the church.

They were looping around the field for almost 5 minutes. My brother and I (and Jenny) were in shock. We didn’t know what to do. We didn’t have our phone with us, otherwise we would have taken some pictures to prove that theses lights were there for real.

  • This story leaves a lot of questions hanging: one, while the person lives on 61st street, what street was the empty field on? Could it have been the field by Saint Sebastian’s Rectory? Could the person have mistaken the rectory for a church? (If this is a young person especially, they may not know the difference between a rectory and a church.)
    • I couldn’t remember churches near fields in Woodside, since there aren’t many empty fields in Woodside, but I did a google maps search of churches in Woodside, and was’t seeing other church buildings near empty fields, so it seems likely to me that it was the rectory of ST. Sebastian’s church.
    • I did look up St. Sebastian to see if he has any relevant associations, and the answer is not really. He’s a pretty famous saint who’s often depicted as being tied to a tree and shot full of arrows. One interesting thing I saw online was a Hartford Currant article from 1997 that told the story of the Sicilian population of Middletown, Ct, who come from a town in Sicily with a real devotion to St. Sebastian, and who have a custom tied to wearing white when honoring St. Sebastian:
      • “Hundreds of men and women dressed in white, called “e nuri” or “the nude” for their bare or sock- covered feet, run through downtown Middletown before the Sunday Mass to thank and honor St. Sebastian for answering their prayers.”
    • I only mention that detail because I try to point out coincidences, and I thought the parallel between the white clothes of entity seen in 1893, near the site of today’s ST. Sebastian’s Church, and the present-day devotees of St. Sebastian wearing white and walking around barefoot, was interesting. The barefoot aspect especially interests me, because that’s a very back-to-nature type of thing to do, and we’re talking about a person or entity who lived in the woods. All that being said, there’s likely no connection between the two, aside from the idea that some people wear all white for religious reasons, so that feels like one possibility for why a person might run off to the woods and live alone and dress all in white–could it be a religious thing?
    • Oh, also, in case you’re wondering: St. Sebastian’s church was founded in 1894, the year after this article, though it’s only been in its current building since 1952 (the current building apparently used to be the Loew’s Woodside theater, which I wouldn’t have guessed from looking at it.)
  • So that’s some paranormal stories about Woodside centering around St. Sebastian Church. I’ll pick up next week to talk about some of my more outlandish theories about this Woodside ghost story.

 

Sources consulted RE: An Acrobatic Ghost in Woodside

Books consulted RE: An Acrobatic Ghost in Woodside

Articles RE: An Acrobatic Ghost in Woodside

  • Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, The Evening News (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) · Fri, Jul 28, 1893 · Page 4
  • Image 6 of The evening world (New York, N.Y.), July 28, 1893, (LAST EDITION)

Websites consulted 

  • http://www.ghostsofamerica.com/1/New_York_Woodside_ghost_sightings.html
  • http://www.ufosentinel.com/15/ufosighting_15001130.html
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Sebastian
  • https://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-xpm-1997-02-09-9702090123-story.html
  • https://occult-world.com/sebastian-st/
  • https://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-xpm-2004-11-08-0411080014-story.html
  • https://forgotten-ny.com/2005/10/woodside-queens-part-1/
  • https://forgotten-ny.com/2005/10/woodside-queens-part-2/
  • http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/6406
  • http://saintsebastianwoodside.org/
  • http://saintsebastianwoodside.org/about-the-parish/https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_man

Don’t miss past episodes:

When a series of dangerous paranormal events plagues a home, famed psychical researcher and author Hereward Carrington is called in to investigate the “Gold and Ghost” haunted house in Astoria

In 1934, a 30-year-old man and his 80-year-old housekeeper supposedly experienced a series of paranormal events at their home in Astoria, NY. One of their tenants was strangled (non-fatally) in bed, the housekeeper and her German Shepherd were thrown to the ground hard enough to break limbs, and the man was visited in the night by a shadow person-type ghost who told him that there was gold buried underneath his basement. The story just gets weirder from there, and even famed researcher Hereward Carrington wasn’t able to untangle the details. To this day, questions remain about this story full of strange contradictions and puzzling details.

Highlights include:
• An abandoned secret passageway
• Psychics confirming a ghost’s claim
• A stumped paranormal investigator
• Buried treasure

Episode Script The Gold and Ghost Haunted House in Astoria (Haunted Astoria)

DISCLAIMER: I’m providing this version of the script for accessibility purposes. It hasn’t been proofread, so please excuse typos. There are also some things that may differ between the final episode and this draft script. Please treat the episode audio as the final product. 

  • This is probably most famous haunted house type case in Astoria, which actually involved famous psychical researcher Hereward Carrington coming to Astoria.  He was actually the head of the American Psychical Research Institute.
  • I read an article in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) · Sun, Jul 11, 1937 that had more background info on him. This article, funnily enough, was printed right next to a huge advertisement for a chain of funeral homes in Brooklyn.
  • It had a striking description of him:
    • Dr. Hereward Carrington . . . A keenly intent man with magnetic gray eyes and a shock of graying hair, leaned forward it his chair and revealed fascinating ghostly data. He believes in ghosts, though he has exposed as many fraudulent spirits as he has made friends with honest-to-goodness spooks in years of psychical research.
  • It goes on to talk about how he’s been doing a survey of haunted houses, and “The search for haunted houses gravitated Dr. Carrington towards Astoria some time ago, where he spent considerable time in the famous ghost and gold house. Even now, three years later, he is reluctant to speak much about that adventure. He is inclined to be modest about frauds he has shown up and more reticent to boast about the ghosts who are his friends. There is too much of this tongue-in-your-cheek attitude about ghostly things in this country, he feels. Whereas abroad, especially in his native England, the subject of psychic phenomena is taken seriously.”
  • The article goes on to say that Carrington was born in England, but went to the university of Iowa. He got interested in the paranormal bc of his interest in amateur stage magic. He said that he wasn’t a spiritualist, and was a normal person who liked to play bridge and tennis. His interest in the paranormal came from scientific interest rather than an emotional loss.
  • Here’s what he was quoted to say about the paranormal:
  • “[I] don’t believe there is any such thing as the supernatural. Rather it is the supernormal. There are countless sources of nature that have not yet been discovered and every now and then give some indications of their being. In England, for instance, the subject of psychic phenomena is respectable. Groups study it at Oxford and Cambridge. But that is not so, here.”
  • The article goes on to describe his philosophy: “People who don’t believe in ghosts, he admitted, are afraid of them. People who do believe, are actually fond of their ghostly friends. At least, they are interested in them. He will scoff down traditional ghost stories that crop up and point out how the power of suggestion has worked.”
  • I kind agree with that. The article also says:
    • “No astronomical genius has ever seen Mars with the naked eye, yet science readily accepts Mars as something that actually exists.”
  • Then the article turns back to the Astoria story:
    • “But that Astoria ghost story was just the old power of suggestion theory, Dr. Carrington revealed. A young Sicilian and his housekeeper, an elderly Irish woman, reported to Dr. Carrington that they heard footsteps on the Astoria shack they wished to fix up for renting purposes. A woman tenant in the house was strangled one night in bed. The misty figure on the stairway appeared one night and admonished them: “Don’t be afraid; there’s a fortune buried in the cellar.'”
  • The Sicilian man apparently used to own a beauty parlor, and apparently his las name was Basulca.
  • A NYT article from 1934 said that the woman who was strangled–who did not die, btw–had fingerprints on her throat after. The article also claimed that the original owner of the house had supposedly strangled his daughter in the room where the boarder lived.
    • “One night, as the Italian beauty specialist lay asleep, something awakened him. Sitting on his bed was an indistinguishable shape–not the conventional ghost of fiction, all draped in white–but something dark. He knew from its voice that it was the shade of the woman who had been murdered.
    • “‘Do not be afraid of me,’ it said. ‘Go on with our digging. There will be no rest for me until you find what you seek.'”
  • That detail is interesting. Doesn’t it sound like maybe her body was buried in the basement, and that was why she couldn’t get rest until the “treasure” in the basement was found? Wouldn’t you lie to someone to get them to dig up your body, if you were a ghost who was concerned with that sort of thing.
  • To go back to the Brooklyn Daily eagle article, the man dug a lot:
  • “He dug and dug so deep that the dirt completely filled the cellar. He struck a cement wall, broke through that, but found no treasure. Dr. Carrington brought three mediums to the scene and each one told of the buried treasure. Then the ghost story really became exciting. A big dog was picked up and thrown down, one day, and limped forever after. The elderly housekeeper was knocked down by the ghostly body.”
  • “‘As events finally turned out,’ Dr. Carrington said, ‘the ghost proved to be a myth. The building department made the young man stop digging. He eventually moved away and the house was done over and there haven’t been any tales of ghosts lately.'”
    • I don’t understand what “done over” means in this context, but I think it must mean examined, because according to tax records from 1940, the building that stood there had been there since 1908.
    • Also, the article doesn’t explain why Carrington thought this story was fake. It doesn’t refute the things that happened, it just ends. And Carrington said some things that made it seem like he thought the haunting might be real. So let’s get into it.
  • This story supposedly takes place at 30-35 31st Street in Astoria, though I’ll talk a bit about how descriptions of the home make it seem like maybe it happened elsewhere. However, articles in both The Brooklyn Daily Eagle and Brooklyn Times Union published on Nov 22, 1934, which were written after police visited the home and gave the address, both say that’s the address, so I’m inclined to believe t.
  •  Today, the N/W trains run on an aboveground track right on 31st street, and the elevated train was there back in the 1930s as well. The building was off of 30th avenue (as you can tell by the 30 before the dash in its address)
    • Nowadays, there’s a decent sized apartment building there that was constructed in 2006, where you can currently rent a 1 bedroom apt there for $1,750/month, with the first month free. That’s a pretty middle of the road price for the neighborhood these days, though it’s pretty cheap by NYC standards. I think the interior of the apartment is not the best looking, but it’s in a big building and they allow pets.
    • I did find an old 1939-1941 tax photo of the building that used to be there, which was built in 1901.
      • The old building looks like it was 2 stories, with a basement with windows that start at the level of the sidewalk. There’s a brick stoop of 3 steps that leads up to the front door, which looks really cool: it’s like a double door that opens in the center, has windows inset in them, and some nice octagonal  molding. There’s a driveway in the side, with a garage behind it, which I suspect maybe held carriages or horses or something before cars were popular.
      • The building is continually described as a shack, but it looks nice in the 1940 picture. I think that they likely added the details of it being rundown to add to the ambiance of the ghost story.
    • So let’s go back to 1934, when this story took place.
  • There’s a book called New York City Ghost Stories by Charles J. Adams III, which was published in 1996, that has a chapter on this story. He seems to draw mostly from the NYT’s accounts of the hauntings.
  • I found the two November 1934 articles that it cites:
    • POLICEMEN’S QUEST FOR GHOSTS FUTILE: Three Carloads Go to Astoria’s ‘Haunting House’ Only to Get a Cold Reception. New York Times (1923-Current file); Nov 22, 1934; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times with Index
  • GOLD GHOST WALKS IN ASTORIA HOUSE: Psychic Expert, Called to Old … New York Times (1923-Current file); Nov 21, 1934; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times with Index pg. 21
  • The articles are written somewhat sensationally, and it talks about the woman’s “police dog” which NYC Ghost Stories says was a German shepherd.
  • NYC Ghost Stories says a NYT article that I couldn’t find described the house as “huddled in the growing dark like some sinister prehistoric monster.” However, I found part of that article paraphrased in a syndicated piece printed in the January 1, 1940, issue of the Standard-Speaker in Hazleton, PA.
    • This article is interesting to me because it shows the sensationalism that crept into the story to make it interesting news copy. After all, supposedly in 1937, Carrington disavowed the haunting, and here a news service is digging up the story again and embellishing it. The article says:
    • “In a certain street in the Borough of Queens in the City of New York, there is a century-old house reputed to be haunted by poltergeists–the German name for ghosts with a mean disposition and a bad temper; spooks that would just as soon crown you with a flat-iron as look at you.”
    • So, first, that’s kinda a funny description of poltergeists. Second, it says the house is a century-old, which is not true. Since it was built in 1908, it was only 32 years old in 1940.
    • Then it describes a reporter being sent to “this house in Queens, haunted by such totalitarian spooks. He arrived just at dusk. The setting was perfect for a ghost story. Sagging and weather beaten, badly in need of paint, it huddled in the growing dark like some sinister prehistoric monster. The porch was warped. Loose boards creaked under the tread. The Bell sounded deep and hollow somewhere inside. The door opened about two inches and a gray old face, barely distinguishable in the old gloom, and partly hidden by tangled gray hair, peered out. A big shepherd dog growled somewhere behind the old woman’s skirt. When the reporter said he had come from Dr. Carrington, the door opened a little wider and he was admitted into a dark hall. No lights anywhere. He was led into the front room, where furniture, oddly shaped and grotesque in deep shadow, seemed to crowd in upon him and the old woman.”
    • The woman then begs the reporter not to use her name or mention the street name, and the reporter asks her if the story is true, and then the woman nods, “her old eyes wild with fear.” Then, basically, it gets dark, she doesn’t turn on the lights, and the reporter leaves and the woman locks the door after him. But it’s written in a way to sound really sinister.
    • So there are a few things wrong with this story. One is that the building, based on the 1940 tax photo, looks like it’s a sturdy brick building, like many buildings around here built around that time are. It looks not unlike a building I used to live in that was about the same size and built in the early 1910s, which is has a brick exterior that is in great condition today. So if it’s brick, how can it be sagging and in need of paint? Also, the tax photo shows a stoop, but no porch. Either 1) the address I found in an article for this house is incorrect, or 2) the house’s appearance was made up and exaggerated for effect. My guess is that the second is more likely.
    • The article also had a very dramatic description of what happened in the house: “the little old woman was going about her affairs on the lower floor of the house, her big German shepherd dog at her heels. All at once something–something–lifted the dog six or seven feet in the air and slammed it back to the floor with terrible force. As it lay there whimpering, unable to get up, the old woman knelt down on her knees by its side. She found that both its hindlegs were broken. Six weeks later an invsible malevolence lifted the little old woman off her feet and violently hurled her to the floor, breaking her left leg and left arm.”
    • The article doesn’t mention the Sicilian man at all, the gold in the cellar, or other parts of the haunting that other articles mention, which makes me think even more that this one is mostly highly embellished/somewhat fictional.
  • But to return to the 1934 NYT article I was able to find, that described three carloads of cops showing up at the house at 9 am. It also mentions that the house was “an ancient mansion” and it mentions the “sagging boards of the porch” though the article is embellished enough that it seems like that could just be a creative flourish. Though in another 1934 NYT article, I also saw the house described as a 100 year old frame house.
    • But basically, the cops said they’d read about the case in the newspaper, and had heard that she dug up the cellar. NYC Ghost Stories claims that the cops visited not to investigate the ghost story, but because they didn’t have a permit to dig for gold in the cellar.
    • The cops asked about the pit, which had supposedly been dug 20 feet deep and 10 feet wide, in the search for gold. The old woman denied everything and said there had been no ghost, and Carrington had never visited. She said she had the hole dug to have a cool place to store vegetables during the summer.
    • They went to the basement and “encountered great mounds of earth that had been taken out of the pit. There were large boulders that had obviously been lifted out with back-breaking effort. And then, finally, there was the pit itself, a deep, yawning hole. All around the inner walls of it were huge plants, apparently used for shoring. Near by was a pail and a shovel, as if the digging were either still in progress or only recently abandoned.”
    • Then it describes how a reporter who had come along with the cops “stopped dead in his tracks, startled. ‘There’s a man hanging from that beam,’ he said, pointing.”
    • Apparently “‘the man’ was only a curious mannikin made of accordion tissue. No one explained THAT, not even the woman proprietor. She and the growling dog stayed upstairs.”
    • The cops continued going through the basement, and encountered a tunnel, obviously of great antiquity. This, it is understood, was originally a passageway leading from the old house to a near-by church which has long since been torn down.”
    • That detail is really interesting to me, because if there was supposedly gold hidden in your basement, you’d probably think it’d be hidden in the already existing tunnel, not randomly under the floor?
    • The cops questioned the woman some more, and she eventually admitted that Carrington had visited, but she claimed there were no ghosts. The cops then demanded that she have the hole filled in, because it could damage the foundation of the house.
    • When the NYT contacted Carrington for a statement, he said that the American Psychical Research Institute had no connection to the investigation–he said it was a personal investigation. The way he said it made it sound like the investigation had happened a while before, maybe even years before? So that’s sort of interesting. I guess the story took a while to get out.
      • Carrington basically then said that he wasn’t able  to do a proper investigation because the owners wanted it to be conducted under “absolute secrecy” so it sounds like he wasn’t able to confirm or deny the hauntings. He did mention that several mediums who he brought, who hadn’t been told about the supposed gold in the basement, all confirmed that there was gold buried beneath the house.
    • But apparently Carrington and his wife had visited the home 3 times to investigate, and at least according to the NYT, “Nothing that occurred during the visits of the Carringtons indicated that the forces behind the tricks that disturbed the household were of human origin. They were unable to explain the happenings.”
  • The closing line of The Brooklyn Times Union (Brooklyn, New York) · Thu, Nov 22, 1934 · Page 8 says: “Whether there is gold or ghosts in the Astoria home will probably remain a mystery because Mrs. Sheehan’s big police dog does not like visitors.”

Sources consulted RE: Haunted House in Astoria (and the Haunted Astoria series)

Books consulted RE: Haunted Houses in Astoria

Articles RE: Haunted House in Astoria

  • POLICEMEN’S QUEST FOR GHOSTS FUTILE: Three Carloads Go to Astoria’s … New York Times (1923-Current file); Nov 22, 1934; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times with Index pg. 12
  • GOLD GHOST WALKS IN ASTORIA HOUSE: Psychic Expert, Called to Old … New York Times (1923-Current file); Nov 21, 1934; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times with Index pg. 21
  • The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) · Thu, Nov 22, 1934 · Page 24
  • The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) · Sun, Jul 11, 1937 · Page 8
  • Brooklyn Times Union (Brooklyn, New York) · Thu, Nov 22, 1934 · Page 8
  • POLICEMEN’S QUEST FOR GHOSTS FUTILE: Three Carloads Go to Astoria’s … New York Times (1923-Current file); Nov 22, 1934; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times with Index
  • Standard-Sentinel (Hazleton, Pennsylvania) · Mon, Jan 1, 1940 · Page 6
  • Mower County Transcript (Lansing, Minnesota) · Thu, Feb 12, 1874 · Page 1
  • New-York Tribune. November 23, 1858
  • “Another Hanted House in Astoria” The Evening Post.. November 23, 1858
  • “It was a White Horse And something that Looked like a Red-headed Ghost Leading it.” June 28, 1888 Brooklyn Times Union
  • New York Daily Herald (New York, New York) · Thu, Jan 29, 1874 · Page 8
  • The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) · Thu, Jan 29, 1874 · Page 3
  • POLICEMEN’S QUEST FOR GHOSTS FUTILE: Three Carloads Go to Astoria’s … New York Times (1923-Current file); Nov 22, 1934; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times with Index pg. 12
  • GOLD GHOST WALKS IN ASTORIA HOUSE: Psychic Expert, Called to Old … New York Times (1923-Current file); Nov 21, 1934; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times with Index pg. 21
  • The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) · Thu, Nov 22, 1934 · Page 24
  • The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) · Sun, Jul 11, 1937 · Page 8
  • Brooklyn Times Union (Brooklyn, New York) · Thu, Nov 22, 1934 · Page 8
  • Brooklyn Times Union Sat Sep 4 1869
  • Another Haunted House in Astoria. Evening Post (published as The Evening Post.) (New York, New York)November 23, 1858
  • The Brooklyn Daily Eagle Sun Jul 18 1886
  • The Brooklyn Daily Eagle Wed Dec 27 1893
  • Brooklyn Times Union Sat Mar 7 1925
  • Brooklyn Times Union Thu Nov 22 1934
  • The Brooklyn Daily Eagle Sun Jul 11 1937
  • The Brooklyn Daily Eagle Thu Nov 22 1934
  • The Courier Fri Feb 2 1900
  • Image 18 of The sun (New York [N.Y.]), January 14, 1900
    Evening Post published as The Evening Post. November 23 1858
  • New York Tribune published as New-York Tribune. November 23 1858
  • Brooklyn Times Union Mon Oct 25 1909
  • The New York herald (New York, N.Y.), February 13, 1921, (SECTION 6)
  • Brooklyn Times Union Thu Jun 28 1888
  • GOLD GHOST WALKS IN ASTORIA HOUSE: Psychic Expert, Called to Old … New York Times (1923-Current file); Nov 21, 1934; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times with Index pg. 2 
  • POLICEMEN’S QUEST FOR GHOSTS FUTILE: Three Carloads Go to Astoria’s … New York Times (1923-Current file); Nov 22, 1934; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times with Index pg. 1
  • The evening world (New York, N.Y.), December 30, 1889, (EXTRA 2 O’CLOCK)
  • The Appeal Sat Feb 24 1900
  • The Inter Ocean Sun Jan 21 1900
  • The Evening World Wed Nov 29 1893
  • The Brooklyn Daily Eagle Thu Apr 19 1928
  • The Tonganoxie Mirror Thu Jul 19 1883
  • Reading Times Mon Jan 20 1896 The Brooklyn Daily Eagle Sun Nov 8 1885 (1)
  • The evening world (New York, N.Y.), December 30, 1889, (EXTRA 2 O’CLOCK) https://www.loc.gov/resource/sn83030193/1889-12-30/ed-1/?sp=3&q=astoria+ghost&r=-0.026,0.482,0.453,0.19,0
  • The times (Washington [D.C.]), December 19, 1897: https://www.loc.gov/resource/sn85054468/1897-12-19/ed-1/?sp=8&q=astoria+ghost&r=0.109,0.598,0.884,0.371,0
  • Image 18 of The sun (New York [N.Y.]), January 14, 1900: https://www.loc.gov/resource/sn83030272/1900-01-14/ed-1/?sp=18&q=astoria+ghost&r=0.489,0.945,0.683,0.365,0
  • Image 8 of New-York tribune (New York [N.Y.]), January 7, 1919: https://www.loc.gov/resource/sn83030214/1919-01-07/ed-1/?sp=8&q=astoria+sanatorium&r=0.385,0.216,0.487,0.205,0
  • Image 7 of The sun (New York [N.Y.]), February 17, 1919: https://www.loc.gov/resource/sn83030431/1919-02-17/ed-1/?sp=7&q=astoria+sanatorium&r=0.569,0.553,0.276,0.116,0
  • Image 10 of New-York tribune (New York [N.Y.]), February 10, 1906: https://www.loc.gov/resource/sn83030214/1906-02-10/ed-1/?sp=10&q=astoria+sanatorium&r=0.719,0.853,0.417,0.223,0
  • Image 4 of New-York tribune (New York [N.Y.]), September 30, 1905
  • Image 21 of The New York herald (New York, N.Y.), May 27, 1921: https://www.loc.gov/resource/sn83045774/1921-05-27/ed-1/?sp=21&q=astoria+sanatorium&r=0.342,0.678,0.311,0.166,0
  • Image 16 of New-York tribune (New York [N.Y.]), October 5, 1904: https://www.loc.gov/resource/sn83030214/1904-10-05/ed-1/?sp=16&q=astoria+sanatorium&r=0.323,1.204,0.323,0.173,0
  • Brooklyn Times Union (Brooklyn, New York) · Thu, Nov 22, 1934 · Page 8: https://bplonsite.newspapers.com/image/576215460
  • The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) · Sun, Jul 11, 1937 · Page 8: https://bplonsite.newspapers.com/image/52695146
  • The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) · Thu, Nov 22, 1934 · Page 24: https://bplonsite.newspapers.com/image/59991092
  • https://www.qgazette.com/articles/pages-from-the-long-island-star-journal-9/
  • Image 18 of The sun (New York [N.Y.]), January 14, 1900: https://www.loc.gov/resource/sn83030272/1900-01-14/ed-1/?sp=18&q=astoria+ghost&r=0.555,0.033,0.321,0.148,0
  • Buffalo Morning Express and Illustrated Buffalo Express Tue Nov 13 1894

     

Websites consulted 

  • https://notjustopera.com/steve/vital/nyctaxphotos.php?year=1939-1941&borough=&number=30-35+&street=31st+Street&block=&lot=

  • https://nycma.lunaimaging.com/luna/servlet/detail/NYCMA~9~9~126332~953053:3035-31-Street?sort=borough%2Cblock%2Clot%2Czip_code
    https://bplonsite.newspapers.com/image/576215460 Downloaded on Jun 1, 2021

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hereward_Carrington

  • Carrington’s Books: https://archive.org/search.php?query=creator%3A%22Hereward+Carrington%22

  • https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/author/5832

  • https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20161028/prospect-lefferts-gardens/creepy-halloween-bridewell-prison-van-cortlandt-manor-astoria-willowbrook/

  • “The So-Called ‘Kidnapping Club’ Featured Cops Selling Free Black New Yorkers Into Slavery,” Smithsonian Magazine: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/so-called-kidnapping-club-featured-new-york-cops-selling-free-blacks-slavery-180976055/
  • https://crimereads.com/the-kidnapping-club-that-terrorized-african-americans-in-19th-century-new-york/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Riker
  • https://nyslavery.commons.gc.cuny.edu/dating-the-start-and-end-of-slavery-in-new-york/
  • https://www.rikerhome.com/press/li-press-1968_large.htm
  • https://www.geni.com/people/David-Provoost-II/6000000002766404071
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Provost
  • https://nycemetery.wordpress.com/2021/01/02/jones-woods-cemeteries/
  • https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e1-0c20-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
  • Los Angeles Herald, Volume 33, Number 108, 17 January 1906 https://cdnc.ucr.edu/?a=d&d=LAH19060117.2.18&e=——-en–20–1–txt-txIN——–1
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U_Thant_Island
  • https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/u-thant-island
  • Records of enslaved people in Newtown, Queens: https://nyslavery.commons.gc.cuny.edu/search/?appSession=5MCUK448ECO579156B8UL5N69FD4FP9HR01OXX509Z67L48DL4CAXL8EEI52U669I1O38XF12FE61JXWM4Y10N2Z9JAN9LHJU8BN2285018P4549838QC2RQ2L4EH2QX
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_A._Garfield#Assassination
  • http://collections.mnhs.org/MNHistoryMagazine/articles/33/v33i01p029-034.pdf
  • https://kellykazek.com/2018/06/25/bet-you-didnt-know-about-this-haunted-american-castle/
  • https://time.com/96533/thieves-break-into-james-a-garfields-tomb/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emanuel_Swedenborg
  • https://newtownpentacle.com/2009/06/13/a-big-dig-in-queens/
  • https://www.pbs.org/wnet/african-americans-many-rivers-to-cross/history/who-really-ran-the-underground-railroad/
  • https://www.6sqft.com/15-underground-railroad-stops-in-new-york-city/
  • https://nyslavery.commons.gc.cuny.edu/
  • https://nyslavery.commons.gc.cuny.edu/search/?appSession=1WXJ2370QHI6H9C815459UHS4F9AVG7ZNZ5RH7T39B21KWP081R95709VQVLNQPWX8M9A7IO8M3W22FY550M360BW077FZ21H52A90IQ93SZZS0A870A6XT8EJ4V78I8
  • https://www.6sqft.com/search-over-35000-records-of-slavery-in-new-york/
  • https://www.6sqft.com/before-nycs-slave-market-freedmen-from-africa-were-allowed-to-own-farmland/
  • https://www.6sqft.com/in-the-1700s-there-was-an-official-location-for-buying-selling-and-renting-slaves-on-wall-street/
  • https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5e/1873_Beers_Map_of_Astoria,_Queens,_New_York_City_-_Geographicus_-_Astoria-beers-1873.jpg
  • https://oana-ny.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/old_astoria_map_1873_bg-1024×666.jpg
  • https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1873_Beers_Map_of_Astoria,_Queens,_New_York_City_-_Geographicus_-_Astoria-beers-1873.jpg
  • https://shop.old-maps.com/new-york/towns/kings-queens-cos-ny-1859-town/astoria-new-york-1859-old-town-map-custom-print-queens-co/
  • https://cdn2.bigcommerce.com/n-zfvgw8/wkatj7/products/109812/images/126869/LongIslandCity_Astoria_MiddleVillage_1873_web__84173.1548088614.1280.1280.jpg?c=2
  • https://www.mapsofantiquity.com/store/Antique_Maps_-_United_States/Northeast/New_York/Long_Island/Astoria,_New_York,_verso_Woodside,_Maspeth,_East_Williamsburg,_Newtown/inventory.pl?id=NYO016
  • https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/medny/astoria.jpg
  • https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/medny/halsall7.asp
  • https://forgotten-ny.com/2002/02/astoria-necrology/
  • https://forgotten-ny.com/2002/02/astoria-necology-continued/
  • https://cdn6.picryl.com/photo/1903/12/31/queens-vol-2-double-page-plate-no-30-part-of-ward-two-newtown-trains-meadow-6c7e10-1600.jpg
  • https://www.qchron.com/qboro/stories/you-ain-t-afraid-of-no-ghost-we-ll-see-about-that/article_010ee09d-001f-5505-a643-147da790ecbf.html

Don’t miss past episodes:

A look at some 19th century tales of haunted houses in Astoria, NY.

Highlights include:
• A ghost spider
• Debunkings
• A runaway horse

Episode Script for Haunted Houses in Astoria, NY (Haunted Astoria)

DISCLAIMER: I’m providing this version of the script for accessibility purposes. It hasn’t been proofread, so please excuse typos. There are also some things that may differ between the final episode and this draft script. Please treat the episode audio as the final product. 

  • • First, let’s look at a story from Long Island City, which is adjacent to Astoria.
    • The original article was printed in New York Daily Herald (New York, New York) · Thu, Jan 29, 1874 · Page 8, but I also found parts of it reprinted in the Mower County Transcript (Lansing, Minnesota) · Thu, Feb 12, 1874 · Page 1, in an article called A Long Island Ghost.
    • Let’s get into it, I’ll read a bit of the Mower County Transcript article:
    § Long Island City has a new sensation, in the shape of a haunted house, situated on Jackson Avenue.
    • Sidenote, the Daily Herald article says that the house was on Dutch Kills road, two miles from Hunter’s point.
    § The landlord, until a couple of weeks ago, has been unable to rent the building for a nominal sum.
    • According to the herald, the family said “they were not afraid of ghosts or the Old Boy himself.” Old Boy is capitalized and I assume it means the devil. The family consisted of 5 people, and the house was small, so there were people occupying every room except the parlor and kitchen.
    • The residents heard a low moaning sound and the father, Mr. Daley, got up and went into the hall, thinking that someone had a cold because it was a bitterly cold night.
    • It seemed like the sound was in the kitchen, but when he went there, he heard it in the parlor, and when he went to the parlor, he heard it in either the kitchen or parlor.
    • It sounds like he gave up and went to bed then, since he couldn’t locate the source of the sound.
    • A little later, he heard a body fall down the stairs, and he heard “deep sepulchral groans” which apparently came from the garret and the hall. The crockery was thrown out of the cupboards, onto the floor.
    • Apparently, the next day, there were more sounds, including someone crying murder and scaring people. One dark thing that the Daily Herald article says “One of the children was so thoroughly frightened that it was thrown into spasm and its life is now despaired of,” and the Mower County Transcript article sadly says says that “One child was so frightened that it was thrown into convulsions and has since died.” WTF?
    • Then it says that the premises were “overhauled” but they couldn’t solve the mystery. The Daley family moved out on Wednesday, saying that “they weren’t afraid to stay, but they couldn’t sleep at night.”
  • New-York Tribune. November 23, 1858
    • This was a reprint from the New Jerusalem Messenger, a NYC religious newspaper of the Swedenborgian denomination.
    • That religion was started by Emanuel Swedenborg, a Swedish inventor, scientist, theologian, philosopher, and mystic who experienced dreams and visions and claimed that after a spiritual awakening, he developed the ability to visit Heaven and Hell to talk to angels, demons, and ghosts at will.
    • So with that context, let’s get to the article, which was headlined “The Haunted House in Astoria”
    • It tells the story of a haunted house that can’t be rented out because it’s so haunted. The former owner was burned to death in the house, and since then, the ghost visited the house every night, making noises opening and closing locked doors without unlocking them, opening windows and tossing plates onto the grass outside, while leaving some of the plates still in the cabinets, and scaring the watchdog so much that he would run to his owner, thinking he was in danger.
    • This has real poltergeist vibes.
    • The story was relayed by a former tenant, a military man, who had to leave because whenever he hired servants, they would quit. Though I bet he was freaked out too.
    • Over the previous summer, the house had stood empty, and the newspaper sent reporters to investigate the house. They encountered nothing, and theorized that maybe rats were making the noises.
    • Since the house was unoccupied, the owner found a poor family to live there for free. At first, housekeeper–which I assume was the wife of the family–said there was no haunting. But then she told a neighbor that “Sure enough, there is a ghost in the house.”
    § She then produced evidence by fastening strong black thread to a large needle, sewing it to a pincushion on the table, and then having both the needle and thread disappear. She looked for them, and eventually found them. I’ll read from the article which reports that she saw:
      • “high up, the needle still fastened to the thread, but suspended and hanging downwards, while the rest of the thread was most curiously woven together, and adhered to the shutter, without anything to hold it. This supernatural work could not, of course, be done by any one but a ghost. Ellen Green, an intelligent young woman, after attentively listening to her neighbor, went with her to the haunted house to examine this mysterious thread and needle. Sure enough there were the thread and needle as described. But anxious to solve the mystery, she picked up the thread from the shutter, and perceived that it had adhered by means of a spider’s web, and just above she beheld the ghost in the shape of a hideous large black spider–a most fitting representative of all ghost stories, as spiders’ webs correspond to falses and treachery.”
  • I also wanted to talk about some ghostly false alarms, as a reminder that these sorts of stories should be taken with a large grain of salt. So let’s look at a story from the same day in The Evening Post:
    • “Another Hanted House in Astoria” The_Evening_Post.___November_23_1858
      • This story begins: “Astoria seems to be full of ghosts. We yesterday published the story of the haunted house in Astoria. Today we have another from the same correspondent.
      • This article tells the story of a roadside inn, where a landlord had died. Then, if a guest tried to stay in the room where he died, his ghost would “shake him out.” Not totally sure what that means, but to read a bit of it: “Several having tried and got a good shaking, the use of the chamber had to be abandoned.”
      • But then, on one cold night, a weary traveler stayed in the room, since it was the only vacant one. I’ll read a bit more:
      • “As he was very tired, he determined that no ghost should shake him out. But he had no sooner dropped asleep than the whistling of the wind, the creaking of rusty hinges, and a violent shaking of his bed awoke him. Nothing daunted, but with the right spirit of inquiry, he concluded that the natural results must have natural causes.”
      • And to make a long story short, he decided that the shaking and creaking came from the inn’s swinging sign, which was attached to a loose beam that went into the room. And that the bed rested against. So he moved the bed to the middle of the room and wasn’t awoken again.
    • Seems like a false alarm:
      Ghost Horse
      • The June 28, 1888 issue of the Brooklyn Times Union has a story headlined “It was a White Horse And something that Looked like a Red-headed Ghost Leading it”
      • It relays the story of one John Thompson, who was apparently a well-known figure in Astoria, and who resided near “Cook’s training stables”
      • I can’t quite say where Cook’s training stables are, though I assume they’re in Astoria. I looked at a map of old Astoria in 1873, and there were several livery stables near the water, so perhaps it’s one of those, though it could also just not be on that map
      • One night, Thompson heard a horse moving around the yard, and he started to get dressed so he could catch the horse and bring it back to the stable.
      • When he went outside, he saw the horse quietly eating grass in near an Alderman Gibson’s house. He was about to lead the house away, when he heard a window open and a woman yell: “Take that horse out of this yard, sir. How dare you bring your horse in here to eat our grass?”
      • Then the horse turns around, the woman sees the man in a white robe, and supposedly yelled to her husband that “there was a red-headed ghost in the yard leading a white horse.”
      • I’m sharing this story for several reasons. One, it shows what kind of anticlimatic nonsense newspapers used to print back then. It almost feels like they were just trying to fill column inches. Two, it shows how easily people can mistake very normal things for the paranormal.
  • One thing I meant to mention last week but forgot to put in the correct section of my notes:
    Hermit Cave
    • • I found a Brooklyn Daily Eagle article from October 22, 1899, that detailed historic homes in the area of Elmhurst, which is just east of Astoria, and it mentions an old hermit cave in Trains Meadow, which was a swampy part of the area: “A near neighbor of the Morrel house is the old Sackett residence, since modernized into a mansion. It was a spacious structure and the rooms were exceedingly well finished. A circular mound in the woods opposite is, according to tradition, the remains of a hermit’s cell, whose story was the subject of a romance.”
      The article doesn’t say what this story was.

Sources consulted RE: Haunted Houses in Astoria (and the Haunted Astoria series)

Books RE: Haunted Houses in Astoria

Articles RE: Haunted Houses in Astoria

  • Mower County Transcript (Lansing, Minnesota) · Thu, Feb 12, 1874 · Page 1
  • New-York Tribune. November 23, 1858
  • “Another Hanted House in Astoria” The Evening Post.. November 23, 1858
  • “It was a White Horse And something that Looked like a Red-headed Ghost Leading it.” June 28, 1888 Brooklyn Times Union
  • New York Daily Herald (New York, New York) · Thu, Jan 29, 1874 · Page 8
  • The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) · Thu, Jan 29, 1874 · Page 3
  • POLICEMEN’S QUEST FOR GHOSTS FUTILE: Three Carloads Go to Astoria’s … New York Times (1923-Current file); Nov 22, 1934; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times with Index pg. 12
  • GOLD GHOST WALKS IN ASTORIA HOUSE: Psychic Expert, Called to Old … New York Times (1923-Current file); Nov 21, 1934; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times with Index pg. 21
  • The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) · Thu, Nov 22, 1934 · Page 24
  • The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) · Sun, Jul 11, 1937 · Page 8
  • Brooklyn Times Union (Brooklyn, New York) · Thu, Nov 22, 1934 · Page 8
  • Brooklyn Times Union Sat Sep 4 1869
  • Another Haunted House in Astoria. Evening Post (published as The Evening Post.) (New York, New York)November 23, 1858
  • The Brooklyn Daily Eagle Sun Jul 18 1886
  • The Brooklyn Daily Eagle Wed Dec 27 1893
  • Brooklyn Times Union Sat Mar 7 1925
  • Brooklyn Times Union Thu Nov 22 1934
  • The Brooklyn Daily Eagle Sun Jul 11 1937
  • The Brooklyn Daily Eagle Thu Nov 22 1934
  • The Courier Fri Feb 2 1900
  • Image 18 of The sun (New York [N.Y.]), January 14, 1900
    Evening Post published as The Evening Post. November 23 1858
  • New York Tribune published as New-York Tribune. November 23 1858
  • Brooklyn Times Union Mon Oct 25 1909
  • The New York herald (New York, N.Y.), February 13, 1921, (SECTION 6)
  • Brooklyn Times Union Thu Jun 28 1888
  • GOLD GHOST WALKS IN ASTORIA HOUSE: Psychic Expert, Called to Old … New York Times (1923-Current file); Nov 21, 1934; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times with Index pg. 2 
  • POLICEMEN’S QUEST FOR GHOSTS FUTILE: Three Carloads Go to Astoria’s … New York Times (1923-Current file); Nov 22, 1934; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times with Index pg. 1
  • The evening world (New York, N.Y.), December 30, 1889, (EXTRA 2 O’CLOCK)
  • The Appeal Sat Feb 24 1900
  • The Inter Ocean Sun Jan 21 1900
  • The Evening World Wed Nov 29 1893
  • The Brooklyn Daily Eagle Thu Apr 19 1928
  • The Tonganoxie Mirror Thu Jul 19 1883
  • Reading Times Mon Jan 20 1896 The Brooklyn Daily Eagle Sun Nov 8 1885 (1)
  • The evening world (New York, N.Y.), December 30, 1889, (EXTRA 2 O’CLOCK) https://www.loc.gov/resource/sn83030193/1889-12-30/ed-1/?sp=3&q=astoria+ghost&r=-0.026,0.482,0.453,0.19,0
  • The times (Washington [D.C.]), December 19, 1897: https://www.loc.gov/resource/sn85054468/1897-12-19/ed-1/?sp=8&q=astoria+ghost&r=0.109,0.598,0.884,0.371,0
  • Image 18 of The sun (New York [N.Y.]), January 14, 1900: https://www.loc.gov/resource/sn83030272/1900-01-14/ed-1/?sp=18&q=astoria+ghost&r=0.489,0.945,0.683,0.365,0
  • Image 8 of New-York tribune (New York [N.Y.]), January 7, 1919: https://www.loc.gov/resource/sn83030214/1919-01-07/ed-1/?sp=8&q=astoria+sanatorium&r=0.385,0.216,0.487,0.205,0
  • Image 7 of The sun (New York [N.Y.]), February 17, 1919: https://www.loc.gov/resource/sn83030431/1919-02-17/ed-1/?sp=7&q=astoria+sanatorium&r=0.569,0.553,0.276,0.116,0
  • Image 10 of New-York tribune (New York [N.Y.]), February 10, 1906: https://www.loc.gov/resource/sn83030214/1906-02-10/ed-1/?sp=10&q=astoria+sanatorium&r=0.719,0.853,0.417,0.223,0
  • Image 4 of New-York tribune (New York [N.Y.]), September 30, 1905
  • Image 21 of The New York herald (New York, N.Y.), May 27, 1921: https://www.loc.gov/resource/sn83045774/1921-05-27/ed-1/?sp=21&q=astoria+sanatorium&r=0.342,0.678,0.311,0.166,0
  • Image 16 of New-York tribune (New York [N.Y.]), October 5, 1904: https://www.loc.gov/resource/sn83030214/1904-10-05/ed-1/?sp=16&q=astoria+sanatorium&r=0.323,1.204,0.323,0.173,0
  • Brooklyn Times Union (Brooklyn, New York) · Thu, Nov 22, 1934 · Page 8: https://bplonsite.newspapers.com/image/576215460
  • The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) · Sun, Jul 11, 1937 · Page 8: https://bplonsite.newspapers.com/image/52695146
  • The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) · Thu, Nov 22, 1934 · Page 24: https://bplonsite.newspapers.com/image/59991092
  • https://www.qgazette.com/articles/pages-from-the-long-island-star-journal-9/
  • Image 18 of The sun (New York [N.Y.]), January 14, 1900: https://www.loc.gov/resource/sn83030272/1900-01-14/ed-1/?sp=18&q=astoria+ghost&r=0.555,0.033,0.321,0.148,0
  • Buffalo Morning Express and Illustrated Buffalo Express Tue Nov 13 1894

     

Websites consulted RE: Haunted Houses in Astoria

  • “The So-Called ‘Kidnapping Club’ Featured Cops Selling Free Black New Yorkers Into Slavery,” Smithsonian Magazine: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/so-called-kidnapping-club-featured-new-york-cops-selling-free-blacks-slavery-180976055/
  • https://crimereads.com/the-kidnapping-club-that-terrorized-african-americans-in-19th-century-new-york/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Riker
  • https://nyslavery.commons.gc.cuny.edu/dating-the-start-and-end-of-slavery-in-new-york/
  • https://www.rikerhome.com/press/li-press-1968_large.htm
  • https://www.geni.com/people/David-Provoost-II/6000000002766404071
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Provost
  • https://nycemetery.wordpress.com/2021/01/02/jones-woods-cemeteries/
  • https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e1-0c20-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
  • Los Angeles Herald, Volume 33, Number 108, 17 January 1906 https://cdnc.ucr.edu/?a=d&d=LAH19060117.2.18&e=——-en–20–1–txt-txIN——–1
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U_Thant_Island
  • https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/u-thant-island
  • Records of enslaved people in Newtown, Queens: https://nyslavery.commons.gc.cuny.edu/search/?appSession=5MCUK448ECO579156B8UL5N69FD4FP9HR01OXX509Z67L48DL4CAXL8EEI52U669I1O38XF12FE61JXWM4Y10N2Z9JAN9LHJU8BN2285018P4549838QC2RQ2L4EH2QX
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_A._Garfield#Assassination
  • http://collections.mnhs.org/MNHistoryMagazine/articles/33/v33i01p029-034.pdf
  • https://kellykazek.com/2018/06/25/bet-you-didnt-know-about-this-haunted-american-castle/
  • https://time.com/96533/thieves-break-into-james-a-garfields-tomb/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emanuel_Swedenborg
  • https://newtownpentacle.com/2009/06/13/a-big-dig-in-queens/
  • https://www.pbs.org/wnet/african-americans-many-rivers-to-cross/history/who-really-ran-the-underground-railroad/
  • https://www.6sqft.com/15-underground-railroad-stops-in-new-york-city/
  • https://nyslavery.commons.gc.cuny.edu/
  • https://nyslavery.commons.gc.cuny.edu/search/?appSession=1WXJ2370QHI6H9C815459UHS4F9AVG7ZNZ5RH7T39B21KWP081R95709VQVLNQPWX8M9A7IO8M3W22FY550M360BW077FZ21H52A90IQ93SZZS0A870A6XT8EJ4V78I8
  • https://www.6sqft.com/search-over-35000-records-of-slavery-in-new-york/
  • https://www.6sqft.com/before-nycs-slave-market-freedmen-from-africa-were-allowed-to-own-farmland/
  • https://www.6sqft.com/in-the-1700s-there-was-an-official-location-for-buying-selling-and-renting-slaves-on-wall-street/
  • https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5e/1873_Beers_Map_of_Astoria,_Queens,_New_York_City_-_Geographicus_-_Astoria-beers-1873.jpg
  • https://oana-ny.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/old_astoria_map_1873_bg-1024×666.jpg
  • https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1873_Beers_Map_of_Astoria,_Queens,_New_York_City_-_Geographicus_-_Astoria-beers-1873.jpg
  • https://shop.old-maps.com/new-york/towns/kings-queens-cos-ny-1859-town/astoria-new-york-1859-old-town-map-custom-print-queens-co/
  • https://cdn2.bigcommerce.com/n-zfvgw8/wkatj7/products/109812/images/126869/LongIslandCity_Astoria_MiddleVillage_1873_web__84173.1548088614.1280.1280.jpg?c=2
  • https://www.mapsofantiquity.com/store/Antique_Maps_-_United_States/Northeast/New_York/Long_Island/Astoria,_New_York,_verso_Woodside,_Maspeth,_East_Williamsburg,_Newtown/inventory.pl?id=NYO016
  • https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/medny/astoria.jpg
  • https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/medny/halsall7.asp
  • https://forgotten-ny.com/2002/02/astoria-necrology/
  • https://forgotten-ny.com/2002/02/astoria-necology-continued/
  • https://cdn6.picryl.com/photo/1903/12/31/queens-vol-2-double-page-plate-no-30-part-of-ward-two-newtown-trains-meadow-6c7e10-1600.jpg
  • https://www.qchron.com/qboro/stories/you-ain-t-afraid-of-no-ghost-we-ll-see-about-that/article_010ee09d-001f-5505-a643-147da790ecbf.html

Don’t miss past episodes:

A smuggler’s ghost in Astoria, NY, stories about tunnels in Astoria, NY, as well as more of the neighborhood’s grim history.

Note: There’s mention of chattel slavery around the 15 min mark, and more details after the 18 minute mark.

Highlights include:
• A haunted cave that’s disappeared
• Horrific deeds done by a famous Astorian
• Some awful deaths in a tunnel under the river
• A manmade island
• The spooky Hell Gate

Episode Script for A Smuggler’s Ghost and Tunnels in Astoria, NY

DISCLAIMER: I’m providing this version of the script for accessibility purposes. It hasn’t been proofread, so please excuse typos. There are also some things that may differ between the final episode and this draft script. Please treat the episode audio as the final product. 

Smugglers at Halletts Cove:

  • Hallets Cove is right next to the Socrates Sculpture Park, which I talked about n a hidden cemetery episode. It’s the park that has a wall made of tombstones.
  • I found some interesting stuff in the book History of Long Island City, New York. by J. S Kelsey, which was published in 1896 about a possible smuggler’s cave and who supposedly haunts Hallet’s Point. For reference, Hallet’s Point today hosts the Astoria Houses, a NYCHA building.
  • This is from the book Old roads from the heart of New York : journeys today by ways of yesterday, within thirty miles around the Battery by Sarah Comstock, and it’s talking about Jones Wood at first, which is now part of the Upper East Side of Manhattan, across the river from Astoria:
    • “Two remarkable cousins, Samuel and David Provoost, have passed into history. The former was the first bishop of New York, and the president of Columbia College. But David was famed in a widely different way. He was one of the most dare-devil smugglers known, and a rocky hole once existing on the shore of this wood was known as “The Smuggler’s Cave.” Here, and in another cave across the river at Hallett’s Point, he hid his treasure, and the boys of the early eighteen-hundreds used to shiver and tell delicious, creepy stories of the old rascal whose ghost haunted these two black caverns. Not until he was ninety years old did David yield up his law-defying, rollicking, money-scattering career.
  • I’m having trouble confirming whether there was any kind of smuggler’s tunnel or cave there for real, and haven’t found other mentions of ghost stories in that area. Though I know that when the Hallets Point reef was blown up in 1869, tunnels were dug there, radiating underneath the reef and the river, and then blown up. This was to make the area more navigable for ships, since as I’ve talked about before, the Hell Gate was extremely treacherous.
    •  I don’t know of anyone who died during that excavation, but I do think it counts as trauma to the surrounding area which is something I look at when it comes to hauntings and the paranormal:
      • History of Queens County, New York, with illustrations, portraits, & sketches of prominent families and individuals (1882):
      • https://archive.org/details/historyofqueensc00newy/page/274/mode/2up?q=belmont+tunnel
      • Hallett’s Point Reef was a particularly dangerous obstruction in the east channel, as it did not leave sufficient seaway for vessels floating down with the ebb and steer- ing clear of Flood Rock. It also created dangerous eddies at either tide. The reef was of semi-circular form, 720 feet across and extending 300 feet into the channel. Since surface blasting had proved of so little avail it was determined to sink a shaft down into the rock and cut diverging lateral tunnels that should pene- trate the rock in all directions, something like the work- ings in a coal mine. The walls of the tunnels were then to be charged with explosives, these to be connected with an electric battery, the water admitted, and the charges fired.
  • I have been able to find more information about David Provoost, however.
    • “Merchant and smuggler David ‘Money Ready’ Provoost (1691–1781). The 90 acre site, Louvre Farm, on the eastern side of Manhattan, was owned by the Provoost family and had a cave where David hid his money.[18][19][20] It was later said that David’s ghost haunted the woods.”
  • I fond a bit more in a book called A Loiterer In New York by Helen Weston Henderson, 1917:
    • “The bishop had a cousin, David Provoost, a Revolutionary solider with a rare talent for smuggling which won him the nickname of “Ready Money Provoost.” He used to hide his booty in “Smugglers’ Cave” on the shore of the bishop’s farm, or in a cave at Hallett’s Point, Astoria.”
  • Apparently the Provoots had a cemetery in Jones’ Wood, and  The book Old New York, from the Battery to Bloomingdale. by Eliza Greatorex (1875?), which is sort of a nostalgic look at disappearing landmarks in NYC, has a description of the area. It sounds like the Riker and Lawerence families had properties there in Manhattan, in addition to their Queens homesteads, which makes sense. But then it mentions the smuggler as well:

“The what walks and nutting expeditions the children remember into Jones’ Woods, whose long avenue opened to the south, and where they could visit the old tomb of the smuggler in the rocky and shady ground near the wood! But the city has destroyed the beauty of all that region; the Riker HOuse and Lawrence homestead and the lively Arch Brook are hardly to be discerened, and have all long ago passed from the possession of the families who made them such charming homes for long happy years.”

  • Then the book describes the life of David Provost, and closes with his death and what happened to his supposed tomb:

“He died in 1781, at the age of ninety years, and his name was inscribed on the tomb where Johannah, his most loving wife, had long reposed. Three-quarters of a century after his death, the tomb was opened and in it were found three or four coffins. The lid of one of these measured over seven feet, and a few vertebrae, of a size which would correspond to a frame of such magnitude, were near. A woman’s skeleton and a child’s were also discovered. Since then the tomb, or rather the place of the tomb, has been left open, empty and ruinous; but when we last saw it (October, 1875) the hill remained, and the doorway and enough of the original structure to identify it.”

  • Belmont tunnel (steinway, worker deaths, etc): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U_Thant_Island
  • https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/u-thant-island
    • Basically, in the 1890s, William Steinway, of Steinway piano fame, whose company town was located in Astoria, wanted to build a tunnel under the east river for trolleys (the 7 train uses the tunnel now.)
    • According to an article called “Four Lose Their Lives in Tunnel Disaster” in the Los Angeles Herald, Volume 33, Number 108, 17 January 1906, there were some deaths during the construction of a tunnel under the East River.
      •  Two workers died of suffocation and caisson disease, or the bends, two drowned, and two were badly injured.
      • It sounds like all four of those workers were Black. A white foreman and assistant were also injured.
      • The accident was caused by a compressed air pipe which burst in the tunnel under the east River, beneath Man O’War Reef, which was even with 42nd Street in Manhattan. At the time that the article was written, the day after the accident, the two drowned men were still stuck underwater in the tunnel.
    • The landfill from the tunnel’s construction became a tiny island in the East River called U Thant Island, which at 100×200 feet is the smallest island in Manhattan. It has a cool little metal structure on it, and it’s closed to the public and acts as a bird sanctuary. A colony of cormorants lives there.
  • About a month ago, I was at Astoria Park, and I overheard a group of men in their 50s talking about how supposedly we were right near an area with tunnels that had been used by famous Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman. I haven’t been able to confirm that, but my ears perked up because we were less than a 10 minute walk away from Halletts Cove, where I had heard about smugglers tunnels.
    • Henry Louis Gates, Jr., wrote an article that was posted on PBS and The Root debunking some myths about the Underground Railroad, and he said that there weren’t as many tunnels used as people seem to think there were:
      • “Those tunnels or secret rooms in attics, garrets, cellars or basements? Not many, I’m afraid. Most fugitive slaves spirited themselves out of towns under the cover of darkness, not through tunnels, the construction of which would have been huge undertakings and quite costly. And few homes in the North had secret passageways or hidden rooms in which slaves could be concealed.”
    • However, that being said, if there was an existing smuggler’s tunnel, it makes me wonder if it may have been used? They also could have existed but then been blown up when the Army Corps of Engineers tunneled under the East River and detonated bombs to clear out the most tretcherous parts of the Hell Gate.
      • Though sidenote, I will say that the Hell Gate is still awfully weird. The other night, my friend and I went to Astoria Park and hung out watching the Hell Gate for a while. We saw tons of whirlpools, some small, some at least several feet wide.
  • But to get back to smugglers tunnels, as I was working on this, I remembered that I read an article about the Riker-Lent-Smith homestead, which mentioned possible smugglers tunnels there.
    • After some digging through my extremely disorganized mess of sources that I used for my episode on the cemetery at the old Riker homestead, I found what I was looking for: A March 17, 1968 article in the Long Island Press called “This House May Be Haunted.” So to read from that article:
      • “There are chains in the basement that supposedly were used to imprison slaves,” said Mrs. Rica Smith with a shudder. And there’s also a rmor that a hidden passage, once used for smuggling, runs from the ancient basement to the bay.”
    • I remember at the time that I did that episode, a few months ago, I was wondering why there were a few offhanded mentions of slavery, but not details about it. To be honest, I’d read this article near the end of preparing my notes for the Riker-Lent-Smith Cemetery episode, and hadn’t had time to follow up. But last week I started to remedy that, and today I want to continue.
    • While I haven’t been able to find more information about the smuggler’s tunnels, I have found some really dark stuff about the Riker family.
  • So content warning on this, I’ll be talking about some disturbing stuff RE: chattel slavery, including stories about free black people in NYC being kidnapped and forced into slavery.
  • I was doing some more reading on John Jay College’s website about slavery in NYC, and learned something that I had no idea about regarding one of the Rikers of Newtown, Queens.
    • I wonder if this is something that people raised in New York, who I assume learn New York history in school, learned about? I can’t say since I grew up in Texas and had two years of Texas history.
    • But I was reading about the timeline of when chattel slavery ended in New York, and there was a 1799 Gradual Emancipation Law, which basically meant that current enslaved people had to remain enslaved, but the children of enslaved mothers born after the law was passed would be freed. Then in 1817, there was another emancipation law that applied to people who were still enslaved, which took effect in 1827, though apparently as late as 1830, there were still 75 enslaved people recorded in the census.
    • So while slavery in NY supposedly ended in 1827, there were still loopholes.
      • First, even after 1827, if an enslaver was visiting NY for nine months or fewer, they could bring enslaved people into NY and that was legally fine.
      • Second, slave ships were allowed to anchor and restock in NY, as long as they weren’t planning to sell any enslaved people within NY. There was even a court case in 1838 about it, which confirmed that a ship was allowed to do this in NY Harbor.
      • Third, if you’re American, I’m sure you’re somewhat familiar with the fugitive slave laws, which were really screwed up. And basically what could happen was agents representing southern slave-owning plantation owners could come to states like NY, where slavery wasn’t legal, and, to read directly from the website kidnap “black persons resembling fugitives.” While I obviously think it’s screwed up that enslaved people couldn’t come to states where slavery was illegal for safe asylum, but also, enslavers from the south could come up to the north and just kidnap random Black people, claim that they resembled a fugitive enslaved person and then bring them down south and enslave them. If they didn’t want to just spirit them away, though, they could also bring their victims to the Court of Special Sessions, which, to read again from the website, was “presided over by former slave holder Richard Riker and his associates known as the ‘Kidnapping Club.'”
        • So of course I read that and was like, yep, there’s no way that’s not one of the Newtown Rikers, and I went to wikipedia and of course saw that that was correct. He was the son of Samuel Riker, a congressman, and Anna Lawrence Riker, of the Lawrence family.
        • Richard Riker was a lawyer who had attended the College of New Jersey, now known as Princeton University, then was a NY assemblymember and district attorney. Also, and I’m reading from Wikipedia now:
          • “He served three non-consecutive terms as the Recorder of New York City between 1815 and 1838. In this position, Riker abused the Fugitive Slave Act to send free blacks to the South to be sold into slavery. By the 1830s, abolitionists considered Riker a member of the “Kidnapping Club”,[3] along with Daniel D. Nash and Tobias Boudinot, who “boasted that he could ‘arrest and send any black to the South.'””
        • I found a really good, but extremely upsetting, article in the Smithsonian Magazine, called “The So-Called ‘Kidnapping Club’ Featured Cops Selling Free Black New Yorkers Into Slavery” about the kidnapping club, that I wanted to read from:
          • “The Constitution’s Fugitive Slave Clause required northern free cities like New York to return the self-emancipated to their southern enslavers, and the NYPD and officers like Rynders were only too willing to comply, conveniently folding their hatred of black people into their reverence for the nation’s founding document. Armed with the founders’ compromise over slavery, Rynders and his fellow officers, men like Tobias Boudinot and Daniel D. Nash, terrorized New York’s black community from the 1830s up through the Civil War.
          • And, even worse, it often mattered little whether a black person was born free in New York or had in fact escaped bondage; the police, reinforced by judges like the notorious city recorder Richard Riker, sent the accused to southern plantations with little concern and often even less evidence.
          • Thanks to Rynders, Boudinot, and Nash, the New York police department had become an extension of the powerful reach of southern slavery, and each month—and often each week in the summer months—brought news of another kidnapping or capture of a supposed runaway. Black New Yorker John Thomas, for example, was claimed by an enslaver from Louisville, Kentucky. Thomas purportedly fled slavery along the Ohio River, then travelled through Canada, and ultimately found a job as a porter in a Manhattan hotel. In late 1860, Thomas was arrested as a fugitive by the Manhattan police. While in prison, Thomas hastily drafted a note, dropped it out his cell window, and asked a passing boy to give the note to his employer, who submitted a writ of habeas corpus.
          • Unfortunately, the marshal on duty was none other than Rynders, who produced a different black man in response to the writ, and the judge declared the writ satisfied. In the meantime, Thomas’ employer and friends learned, too late, that one of Rynders’ deputies had taken the real John Thomas to Richmond, where he would be transported to Kentucky, lost in the darkness of American slavery, like untold numbers of other kidnapping victims.”
  • The article also talks about about what happened after the Civil War:
    • “Boudinot became a captain in one of the city’s main wards and Rynders became a Democratic elder statesman during and after the war. In fact, New York City, always ready to defend the cotton trade with the South, voted against Lincoln in 1860 and harbored racial conservatives like Wood during the war and after. Embodied by newspapers like The New York Weekly Caucasian, one of the nation’s most prominent promulgators of white supremacist ideology, the city remained an unfriendly place for African Americans.”
  • There’s a book that came out last year called The Kidnapping Club: Wall Street, Slavery, and Resistance on the Eve of the Civil War by Jonathan Daniel Wells, which I’m reading right now. But I wanted to read an excerpt of it that was published on crimereads.com, which relates to Riker, and some of the people he harmed, or tried to harm.
    • On a Saturday in March 1834, seven-year-old Henry Scott sat at his desk in the African Free School on Duane Street in Manhattan, practicing his letters as his teacher Mrs. Miller watched. African Free School Number 5 had just opened in 1832 under the direction of African American teacher Jane Parker, and like the other Black schools Number 5 had been absorbed into the public school system. Abruptly the classroom door opened and in walked two men Henry had never seen before. One was a well-dressed southerner, the other a New York sheriff, and they had come for Henry.
    • Richmond industrialist Richard Haxall had built a fortune in the 1820s and 1830s by serving as the president of railroads and other businesses, including running his family-owned flour and milling operation, and like other southern businessmen he traveled frequently to New York. Haxall’s daughter would marry the youngest son of Robert E. Lee, connecting one of the region’s most prominent merchant families to one of its leading military families. But the blood and business ties between Wall Street and slavery were too intertwined to untangle. In fact, Haxall’s brother made the city his home, and on this March morning he had come to the school for Black children on family business: he claimed that Henry was Haxall family property, and he intended to take Henry back to slavery.
    • Announcing to the teacher and school superintendent that Haxall and the New York sheriff would be arresting Henry as a runaway, the school immediately erupted in chaos. Henry screamed and cried, while his young classmates shouted, “Kidnappers!” and “Let him alone!” and tripped over each other to run out of the school. Some children ran to their parents, while others chased Haxall and his police escort as they left the school with Henry. Pandemonium and disbelief at the brazen arrest of a schoolchild created enough chaos that Haxall could make off with his prey.
    • The Black and white abolitionist community in New York sounded the alarm bells and mobilized for the legal battle that everyone knew would now ensue. Haxall and the sheriff dragged Henry before New York City recorder Richard Riker, who sat on the bench in City Hall just blocks from the Duane Street school where Henry had been studying. Black activists like David Ruggles came into all-too-frequent contact with Riker because, as the city recorder, Riker also served as the main judge in the Court of Common Pleas.
    • Just blocks removed from Ruggles’s home on Lispenard Street in the middle of Lower Manhattan, but a world away in terms of wealth and privilege, Riker presided over criminal cases in a stately judicial building. The son of a US congressman and the descendant of a prominent Dutch family, Riker had been a district attorney, a second in a number of duels, a member of the New York State Assembly, and a prominent Democratic lawyer in a long and distinguished career. Bald except for a fringe of hair around his ears, with a pointed nose and small chin, “Dickey” Riker as he was known looked more like a clerk or bookkeeper than a distinguished politician. In his early days, he had fought a duel on the shores of Weehawken, just months before Alexander Hamilton would be killed in a duel with Aaron Burr on the same spot. Shot in the leg during the duel, Riker was taken to his home on Wall Street where a surgeon gave him only a one-in-ten chance of saving the leg. “I accept the chance cheerfully . . . do what you can, and by the aid of the Almighty and a fine constitution I may yet save both limb and life.” Though he walked with a limp for the rest of his life, Riker went on to serve the city and the state in a number of important political and legal roles, from a committee on the completion of the Erie Canal to the position of recorder.
    • By the time Henry Scott appeared before him, Riker had already been serving as the city’s recorder for more than five years. Unfortunately for the city’s Black residents, one of the chief responsibilities of the recorder’s office was to hear cases of people accused of being runaways from southern slavery. Dragged before Riker at all hours of the day and night, accused runaways found themselves before a judge known to sympathize with the South and slaveholders. In fact, Ruggles had publicly named Riker as a key cog in what Ruggles had branded the New York Kidnapping Club in a newspaper editorial. With little more than the word of a white person, and with little concern as to whether the accused was actually a runaway or had been born free, New York’s Black men, women, and children fell prey to kidnapping.
    • Riker served his southern masters well, always eager to promote the Union by reaffirming New York’s willing participation in the return of suspected runaways. He was well aware that the Fugitive Slave Clause of the Constitution required so-called fugitives from service (which could only mean escaped slaves) to be handed over to their owners. Many northern states and cities acquiesced reluctantly to the constitutional compromise over slavery, returning runaways only after every attempt to keep them free had been exhausted. Not so in New York City. Although a dedicated band of Black and white activists, lawyers, and politicians stood ready to join the fight to keep an accused fugitive from being returned, the city’s legal and political system was rigged against them.
    • Riker made his pro-South stance clear toward the end of one cold November day in 1836 when an alleged runaway was brought before him. An agent representing a southern slave owner had claimed a fugitive and appeared before Riker to make his case. The recorder had a message for the southern agent: “Tell your southern citizens that we Northern Judges damn the Abolitionists—we are sworn to abide by the Constitution. Tell your Southern citizens that the great body of the northern people are all right.” As Riker knew, the city teamed with pro-South and even proslavery Democrats, many of them Wall Street merchants, Irish laborers, members of Tammany Hall, and others who actively sought ways to entrap Black residents in the web of the kidnapping club. Riker unabashedly positioned himself near the center of the web. . . .
    • As a sobbing and terrified Henry sat before Riker at the start of the hearing, it became quite clear that Riker intended to live up to his reputation as the friend of southern masters. Richard Haxall claimed that Henry actually belonged to his mother, Clara Haxall, and that he had entered the courtroom to claim Henry on her behalf. New York law required that agents acting on behalf of owners had to present proof that they were an official and documented representative of the slave owner, but Haxall had no such proof. Riker could have released Henry then and there, but instead, unsure about what course to take since he was convinced that Henry was in fact a fugitive, he ordered the young child to jail while Haxall was given time to produce his father’s will. In the meantime, Henry’s classmates had begun raising money for his legal defense. By gathering pennies from parents and the Black community, the children in the city’s public schools helped to release Henry from the clutches of the New York Kidnapping Club, one of the few to escape from the long and powerful reach of Boudinot, Nash, and Riker.

Sources consulted RE: Smuggler’s Ghost and Tunnels in Astoria, NY

Books RE: 

Articles RE: Smuggler’s Ghost Astoria

  • Brooklyn Times Union Sat Sep 4 1869
  • Another Haunted House in Astoria. Evening Post (published as The Evening Post.) (New York, New York)November 23, 1858
  • The Brooklyn Daily Eagle Sun Jul 18 1886
  • The Brooklyn Daily Eagle Wed Dec 27 1893
  • Brooklyn Times Union Sat Mar 7 1925
  • Brooklyn Times Union Thu Nov 22 1934
  • The Brooklyn Daily Eagle Sun Jul 11 1937
  • The Brooklyn Daily Eagle Thu Nov 22 1934
  • The Courier Fri Feb 2 1900
  • Image 18 of The sun (New York [N.Y.]), January 14, 1900
    Evening Post published as The Evening Post. November 23 1858
  • New York Tribune published as New-York Tribune. November 23 1858
  • Brooklyn Times Union Mon Oct 25 1909
  • The New York herald (New York, N.Y.), February 13, 1921, (SECTION 6)
  • Brooklyn Times Union Thu Jun 28 1888
  • GOLD GHOST WALKS IN ASTORIA HOUSE: Psychic Expert, Called to Old … New York Times (1923-Current file); Nov 21, 1934; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times with Index pg. 2 
  • POLICEMEN’S QUEST FOR GHOSTS FUTILE: Three Carloads Go to Astoria’s … New York Times (1923-Current file); Nov 22, 1934; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times with Index pg. 1
  • The evening world (New York, N.Y.), December 30, 1889, (EXTRA 2 O’CLOCK)
  • The Appeal Sat Feb 24 1900
  • The Inter Ocean Sun Jan 21 1900
  • The Evening World Wed Nov 29 1893
  • The Brooklyn Daily Eagle Thu Apr 19 1928
  • The Tonganoxie Mirror Thu Jul 19 1883
  • Reading Times Mon Jan 20 1896 The Brooklyn Daily Eagle Sun Nov 8 1885 (1)
  • The evening world (New York, N.Y.), December 30, 1889, (EXTRA 2 O’CLOCK) https://www.loc.gov/resource/sn83030193/1889-12-30/ed-1/?sp=3&q=astoria+ghost&r=-0.026,0.482,0.453,0.19,0
  • The times (Washington [D.C.]), December 19, 1897: https://www.loc.gov/resource/sn85054468/1897-12-19/ed-1/?sp=8&q=astoria+ghost&r=0.109,0.598,0.884,0.371,0
  • Image 18 of The sun (New York [N.Y.]), January 14, 1900: https://www.loc.gov/resource/sn83030272/1900-01-14/ed-1/?sp=18&q=astoria+ghost&r=0.489,0.945,0.683,0.365,0
  • Image 8 of New-York tribune (New York [N.Y.]), January 7, 1919: https://www.loc.gov/resource/sn83030214/1919-01-07/ed-1/?sp=8&q=astoria+sanatorium&r=0.385,0.216,0.487,0.205,0
  • Image 7 of The sun (New York [N.Y.]), February 17, 1919: https://www.loc.gov/resource/sn83030431/1919-02-17/ed-1/?sp=7&q=astoria+sanatorium&r=0.569,0.553,0.276,0.116,0
  • Image 10 of New-York tribune (New York [N.Y.]), February 10, 1906: https://www.loc.gov/resource/sn83030214/1906-02-10/ed-1/?sp=10&q=astoria+sanatorium&r=0.719,0.853,0.417,0.223,0
  • Image 4 of New-York tribune (New York [N.Y.]), September 30, 1905
  • Image 21 of The New York herald (New York, N.Y.), May 27, 1921: https://www.loc.gov/resource/sn83045774/1921-05-27/ed-1/?sp=21&q=astoria+sanatorium&r=0.342,0.678,0.311,0.166,0
  • Image 16 of New-York tribune (New York [N.Y.]), October 5, 1904: https://www.loc.gov/resource/sn83030214/1904-10-05/ed-1/?sp=16&q=astoria+sanatorium&r=0.323,1.204,0.323,0.173,0
  • Brooklyn Times Union (Brooklyn, New York) · Thu, Nov 22, 1934 · Page 8: https://bplonsite.newspapers.com/image/576215460
  • The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) · Sun, Jul 11, 1937 · Page 8: https://bplonsite.newspapers.com/image/52695146
  • The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) · Thu, Nov 22, 1934 · Page 24: https://bplonsite.newspapers.com/image/59991092
  • https://www.qgazette.com/articles/pages-from-the-long-island-star-journal-9/
  • Image 18 of The sun (New York [N.Y.]), January 14, 1900: https://www.loc.gov/resource/sn83030272/1900-01-14/ed-1/?sp=18&q=astoria+ghost&r=0.555,0.033,0.321,0.148,0
  • Buffalo Morning Express and Illustrated Buffalo Express Tue Nov 13 1894

     

Websites consulted RE: Smuggler’s Ghost Astoria

  • “The So-Called ‘Kidnapping Club’ Featured Cops Selling Free Black New Yorkers Into Slavery,” Smithsonian Magazine: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/so-called-kidnapping-club-featured-new-york-cops-selling-free-blacks-slavery-180976055/
  • https://crimereads.com/the-kidnapping-club-that-terrorized-african-americans-in-19th-century-new-york/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Riker
  • https://nyslavery.commons.gc.cuny.edu/dating-the-start-and-end-of-slavery-in-new-york/
  • https://www.rikerhome.com/press/li-press-1968_large.htm
  • https://www.geni.com/people/David-Provoost-II/6000000002766404071
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Provost
  • https://nycemetery.wordpress.com/2021/01/02/jones-woods-cemeteries/
  • https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e1-0c20-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
  • Los Angeles Herald, Volume 33, Number 108, 17 January 1906 https://cdnc.ucr.edu/?a=d&d=LAH19060117.2.18&e=——-en–20–1–txt-txIN——–1
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U_Thant_Island
  • https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/u-thant-island
  • Records of enslaved people in Newtown, Queens: https://nyslavery.commons.gc.cuny.edu/search/?appSession=5MCUK448ECO579156B8UL5N69FD4FP9HR01OXX509Z67L48DL4CAXL8EEI52U669I1O38XF12FE61JXWM4Y10N2Z9JAN9LHJU8BN2285018P4549838QC2RQ2L4EH2QX
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_A._Garfield#Assassination
  • http://collections.mnhs.org/MNHistoryMagazine/articles/33/v33i01p029-034.pdf
  • https://kellykazek.com/2018/06/25/bet-you-didnt-know-about-this-haunted-american-castle/
  • https://time.com/96533/thieves-break-into-james-a-garfields-tomb/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emanuel_Swedenborg
  • https://newtownpentacle.com/2009/06/13/a-big-dig-in-queens/
  • https://www.pbs.org/wnet/african-americans-many-rivers-to-cross/history/who-really-ran-the-underground-railroad/
  • https://www.6sqft.com/15-underground-railroad-stops-in-new-york-city/
  • https://nyslavery.commons.gc.cuny.edu/
  • https://nyslavery.commons.gc.cuny.edu/search/?appSession=1WXJ2370QHI6H9C815459UHS4F9AVG7ZNZ5RH7T39B21KWP081R95709VQVLNQPWX8M9A7IO8M3W22FY550M360BW077FZ21H52A90IQ93SZZS0A870A6XT8EJ4V78I8
  • https://www.6sqft.com/search-over-35000-records-of-slavery-in-new-york/
  • https://www.6sqft.com/before-nycs-slave-market-freedmen-from-africa-were-allowed-to-own-farmland/
  • https://www.6sqft.com/in-the-1700s-there-was-an-official-location-for-buying-selling-and-renting-slaves-on-wall-street/
  • https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5e/1873_Beers_Map_of_Astoria,_Queens,_New_York_City_-_Geographicus_-_Astoria-beers-1873.jpg
  • https://oana-ny.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/old_astoria_map_1873_bg-1024×666.jpg
  • https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1873_Beers_Map_of_Astoria,_Queens,_New_York_City_-_Geographicus_-_Astoria-beers-1873.jpg
  • https://shop.old-maps.com/new-york/towns/kings-queens-cos-ny-1859-town/astoria-new-york-1859-old-town-map-custom-print-queens-co/
  • https://cdn2.bigcommerce.com/n-zfvgw8/wkatj7/products/109812/images/126869/LongIslandCity_Astoria_MiddleVillage_1873_web__84173.1548088614.1280.1280.jpg?c=2
  • https://www.mapsofantiquity.com/store/Antique_Maps_-_United_States/Northeast/New_York/Long_Island/Astoria,_New_York,_verso_Woodside,_Maspeth,_East_Williamsburg,_Newtown/inventory.pl?id=NYO016
  • https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/medny/astoria.jpg
  • https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/medny/halsall7.asp
  • https://forgotten-ny.com/2002/02/astoria-necrology/
  • https://forgotten-ny.com/2002/02/astoria-necology-continued/
  • https://cdn6.picryl.com/photo/1903/12/31/queens-vol-2-double-page-plate-no-30-part-of-ward-two-newtown-trains-meadow-6c7e10-1600.jpg
  • https://www.qchron.com/qboro/stories/you-ain-t-afraid-of-no-ghost-we-ll-see-about-that/article_010ee09d-001f-5505-a643-147da790ecbf.html

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