Archive for historical sites

THE TABBY HOUSE (Part Two)

Posted in Afterlife, Ghosts, Paranormal, Saturdays, Stories with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2012 by Dave Lapham

Before we finish The Tabby House I want to remind everyone that today Vivian Campbell (Stalked By Spirits) and I will be at the GHOSTSTOP from Noon to 3 p.m. to sign books and shuck ‘n’ jive. Come see us, even if you’ve already got out books. That’s the GHOSTSTOP, 1221 10TH St, downtown St. Cloud. Now for the rest oF The Tabby House.

Finally, reluctantly, I took a deep breath, climbed the low wall and started walking toward the house. I left my truck door open. The night was deathly quiet, no crickets, no frogs, no birds, not even any man-made noises in the distance. I felt like the last person left on Earth. I had never been so scared.

But I continued on and finally got to the house. I stopped at the wall and looked around. Nothing but decaying tabby, I told myself, trying to believe it. Calming down somewhat, I looked more closely at the construction of this building and marveled at the ingenuity and cleverness of these people. I also thought about the planter who had started the house. It was to have been a home for his married daughter, but before it was finished, he died a violent and mysterious death. Was he murdered? Was the house ever finished? Did the daughter make this place her home? Or did unearthly spirits descend and take possession? No one knew, but as far back as 1877 this place was known as a haunted house, and many of the locals who live on another part of the island have seen ghosts in the vicinity.

I sat in the doorway, closed my eyes, and listened, trying to hear, trying to feel this place. All I could hear was ringing in my ears. I sat that way for a long time, even leaned back against the rough wall. I was starting to relax. My mind wandered, thinking about what might have gone on in the house, the people who might have lived here; imagining hurricanes sweeping across the island and dumping heavy rains on the house, the family warm and cozy inside; picturing soft summer nights with tree frogs chirping and a cooling ocean breeze whispering through the oaks and the palmettos. Funny, there was no breeze tonight.

I sat there, calm now, with eyes closed, daydreaming, when I heard a noise out near my truck. I looked in that direction. I stared for a long time into the moonlight but saw nothing. At length, I turned back towards the house. Suddenly, my body turned to ice and I could not move. There in the window stood a huge wolf. He was not twelve feet away. I could smell his rank wildness. He was motionless, and his jaws were closed but his eyes were terrifying. Glowing with laser-like brightness, they blazed like the flames from a roaring fire. He just stood there, his enormous paws resting on what once was a window sill or door stoop, looking at me and I staring back at him.

Screwing up enough courage to move, I began backing toward my truck, my eyes riveted on his. Step by step by step, slowly, slowly, I backed. I wasn’t watching where I was going and just before I got to the wall, I tripped over a large chunk of tabby, my head landing barely four feet from the wall. I looked up and to my horror, standing above me was a woman in a white, flowing dress. I could tell that she was not alive—I could see right through her.

Rolling twice to my right, I jumped up, vaulted the wall, and bounded into my truck. Thank God I had left the door open. Within seconds I had spun around and was headed back out to the highway, my accelerator pressed to the floor.
I went back to the Tabby House the next day. It was quite serene and peaceful, completely different from the night before. I plan on going back again at night. Only this time, I think I’ll take a friend.

CHASING GHOSTS

Posted in Afterlife, Book Signings & Appearances, Ghost Hunting, Ghosts, Investigating, Paranormal, Updates, Wednesdays with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2012 by Dave Lapham

Before I get started on the blog, I want to put in a plug for our book-signing (Vivian Campbell, Stalked by Spirits, and me, Ghosts of St. Augustine, Ancient City Hauntings, Ghosthunting Florida, and 12-21-12) next Saturday, Oct 13th, Noon to 3 p.m., at the GhostStop in St. Cloud. Easy to find—1221 10th St.—and that’s not 1221 East 10th St (I think that’s a cow pasture.) Anyway, the GhostStop is in downtown St. Cloud. And even if you don’t want to talk to us, come on in and check out all the equipment. It’ll make you drool!

Now, about chasing ghosts. As I’ve said before, I think there’s a difference between ghost hunting and paranormal investigation. Ghost hunting is, well, hunting for ghosts. You go into a site to see if there is any paranormal activity there. Think about some of the more popular spots; Lake Worth Theater, Ripley’s in St. Augustine, the Leaf Theater in Quincy, The May-Stringer House in Brooksville. Those places are known to be haunted, and people go there to see if they can experience the reported activity. A paranormal investigation attempts to determine if a site does have paranormal activity. Most often residents of a home or other building or site invite investigators to find out if the home or site is haunted. When you hunt ghosts, you go to a site expecting, hoping, to encounter something paranormal. When you investigate, you’re looking more for an explanation of an event or activity that, on the surface, can’t be explained.

When you’re looking for places to hunt ghosts, a good rule of thumb is “the older, the better.” Not true across the board, but something to keep in mind. Older sites have more history and more chances that something occurred there to keep spirits around. Historical sites are always good. Think Gettysburg, Chickamauga, Andersonville, or, closer to home Olustee, all from the Civil War. Or try the Kingsley Plantation on Talbot Island for a really ancient site. And there’s always the Castillo in St. Augustine. And you can peruse the history of your area to find a lot of places where epic tragedies happened. Personally, I like to go to places which have never been explored before, like the courthouse in Tavares, which I visited with Outcast Paranormal Society a few weeks ago. That was exciting. And you never know what you’re going to find.

When you go into an often-investigated site like, say, Ripley’s, and you don’t find much, it can be tough on your ego. “What did I do wrong? Why didn’t I experience X, Y, or Z?” I guess that’s why so many groups use the known sites for training new members. If they don’t experience the paranormal activity there, they’re probably doing something wrong. In any case, historical sites are always a good bet.

Then, there are cemeteries. I have said in the past that since people usually die someplace else and their bodies are transported to cemeteries for burial, there won’t necessarily be much activity in those sites. But, that’s not always true. In the first place, cemeteries are often portals for ghosts trying to move on. Of course, murders and other crimes sometimes take place in cemeteries, and natural and man-made disasters can devastate cemeteries as well as other locations. Sometimes, too, grave robbers anger departed souls desecrating grave sites.

If you’re interested in graveyard ghosts, I recommend a comprehensive book by Melba Goodwyn, a friend from Texas. The book is Chasing Graveyard Ghosts. Melba is an experienced clairvoyant parapsychologist with a vast knowledge of astrology, numerology, divination, and traditional psychology. Her book is a text for learning about graveyard ghosts.

And, finally, don’t forget next Saturday’s book signing at the GhostStop, AND don’t forget checking out 12-21-12 (by Parker Lee) on Kindle. If you don’t have a Kindle, Amazon will give you a free app to download e-books to any device.

Last but not least, please pass the word around about my site. Hey, give me some feedback, too.

THE TABBY HOUSE (Part One)

Posted in Afterlife, Ghosts, Paranormal, Saturdays, Stories with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 6, 2012 by Dave Lapham

Fort George Island is one of the Talbot Islands near Jacksonville just off A1A. On the section owned by the National Park Service there stands the Haunted Tabby House and the Kingsley Plantation. I had read about Fort George Island in Joyce Moore’s excellent book, Haunt Hunter’s Guide To Florida, and it piqued my interest. I called the National Park Service to get permission to visit after dark; the hunter’s moon was just a few days away.

The following Saturday night I found myself driving down the winding, shaded roadway toward the Tabby House. Small pin points of moonlight knifed through the thick canopy above and created an eerie glow, made even more ghostly and macabre by long strands of softly swaying Spanish moss which hung from the trees and by the dense palmetto scrub which lined both sides of the road. I was alone, and I began to feel a little claustrophobic.

I also began to feel something else. Fort George Island has been continuously occupied by humans for five thousand years. Traces of every period remain. There are thirty-some archaeological sites on the island, including the old tabby slave quarters, and I could almost hear the big old bell clanging, calling the slaves in from the fields. Is that what I sensed? Or was it some pre-historic Indian?

I drove on and suddenly I was in a clearing and there stood the ruins of the Tabby House, washed in the whiteness of the full moon. Tabby is a mixture of sand, water, and lime made from burning oyster shells, which is then mixed with whole shells and poured into forms to make a serviceable concrete. The moonlight reflecting off the shells made the ruins fairly glow.

Not much was left of the house. The walls had eroded, and there was a gaping hole in the middle of the front wall where once stood a door and behind it another wall with a smaller hole, presumably once a window or another doorway. About ten or twenty yards in front of the house there was another low tabby wall, which had once surrounded the house.

I stopped by the wall and got out of my truck. All was quiet. I was alone, just me, the crumbling ruins of the old house, girdled by weeds and bathed in the ghostly light of the moon, the dark, forbidding trees which seemed to envelope the whole clearing—and something else which I could sense but not quite see. Beads of sweat formed quickly on my upper lip, yet I was freezing cold. My heart pounded loudly in my chest. I stood there motionless by my truck for a few minutes staring at the ruins and wishing I had enough sense to climb back in and drive away. (TO BE CONTINUED)

THE MOORISH HOUSE ON CHARLOTTE STREET – Part 3

Posted in Afterlife, Ghost Hunting, Ghosts, Investigating, Paranormal, Saturdays, St. Augustine, Stories, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 29, 2012 by Dave Lapham

She thought about the Baroque music she had first heard and in an “aha” moment realized that it was the obscure little Francesco Molino concerto she had played for a recital when she was a senior in high school. She blushed at the thought of her ghost playing the piece for her. One day shortly after her revelation she took her guitar to the house. She entered through the loggia, sat in the living room, and began playing. The guitarist appeared immediately. He smiled, sat down, and began playing with her. They played well together, she on the Paraguayan Berlucci her parents had given her as a graduation present, and the ghost on his ancient Spanish guitar.

As time passed she found excuses to visit the house on more and more occasions, always taking her guitar with her. Matt knew she wanted the house to be perfect and didn’t begrudge Sara her passion for it. He did think it a bit peculiar that she always took her guitar, but he passed that off as her equal passion for music. He couldn’t see she was drawing away.

After four months, the renovations were complete. Sara proudly opened the door and led Matt inside. It was exquisite. The tile floor had been repaired, windows replaced, period wallpaper added to the dining room and living room, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves added to the little library off the loggia. The wood floor upstairs, too, had been refinished and glistened. A second bathroom had been added to the spare bedroom. Everything had been freshly painted.

Next they went into the kitchen, where Sara had replaced all the appliances, cabinetry, and floor. She had had existing windows enlarged and new ones built into the wall looking out on her garden.

In the old carriage house, now a three car garage, she had had a work bench installed and cabinets added along one wall. Best of all, as far as Matt was concerned, were the servants’ quarters, which Sara had converted to a “playroom” for Matt, his own private man cave, with a huge desk, an even larger HDTV, a pool table, and all of his “I love me” framed diplomas, awards, and pictures hung on the walls. Matt was speechless.

The next day was moving day, so they didn’t remain long at the house. Sara had a vague sense of wanting to stay in the house, but she knew she needed to get back to the apartment to box up everything and get ready for the movers. They left the garage and returned through the kitchen to the house. Just as Sara entered she saw her ghost on the landing across the living room. He was walking up the stairs. She smiled. Matt was oblivious.

He had a shift in the ER the following day, so Sara agreed to stay and supervise the moving company. As soon as Matt finished he would come to the house to help her unpack.

In the morning he hurried off to the hospital, and Sara waited for the movers, who arrived promptly at eight. It wasn’t going to take long to load their furnishings and boxes and get them to the house. By noon Sara was alone in her new home, ready to unpack when the phone rang. It was Matt. “Hey, how is it going?”

“Well, I’m here. The movers just finished unloading everything. I’m going up to A1A for a quick bite and then start unpacking.”

“Good. I’ll be there by three.”

Sara flipped her cell phone closed and walked into the living room. There sat her guitar player. Their eyes met for a moment, and then he looked away and began playing. Sara hesitated before walking into the dining room where she’d left her guitar.

Shortly after three, Matt drove up. The driveway gate was open, but Sara’s car wasn’t parked in front. Matt went in and drove around to the garage. Her car wasn’t there either. Odd, he thought. Perhaps she had left her car somewhere else out of the way. He got out of his car and walked over to the kitchen. The door was unlocked. He entered. Silence. Sara wasn’t anywhere on the property. Mildly concerned, he called the hospital, his parents, her parents, and three of her friends. No one had seen her. As the day wore on without any word from her, his concern turned to panic. As dusk settled, he called the police.

Matt couldn’t sleep. His parents and Sara’s came over to join him in his vigil. About every hour, Matt called the police. Exasperated, the dispatcher told him he would be called when they had any information. At seven the next morning, the phone rang. It was the Florida Highway Patrol. They had located Sara’s little red Miata outside a restaurant in Hastings. It was unlocked. Her purse was on the front seat, and the keys were in the ignition. Nothing appeared to have been stolen, and there was no sign of a struggle. Forensic experts were later to pour over the car, but found nothing unusual.

Police had discovered a woman’s foot prints in the sand leading from the driver’s side of the car into the restaurant and back again. There were no prints from the passenger side, but one of the waitresses remembered seeing a pretty, black-haired woman and a tall, slender man around six that morning. “It was real busy in here then, but I remember them ‘cause he was dressed kinda funny.”

For several weeks Sara’s disappearance was front-page news, but not one substantial clue or sighting was ever made. After a time, it slid to the bottom of the pile and eventually became an unsolved, cold case. Sara was never seen again.

THE MOORISH HOUSE ON CHARLOTTE STREET (Part 2)

Posted in Afterlife, Ghosts, Paranormal, Saturdays, St. Augustine, Stories with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2012 by Dave Lapham

Zamora had been able to acquire more land around the house, because it was south of the main part of town. That made room for a detached kitchen, a sizeable garden, and a carriage house. Although the property had passed from the Zamora family’s hands, subsequent owners had been able to keep it intact. Through the years there had been modifications, although the original Moorish atmosphere had been maintained. The kitchen had been connected to the main house by an enclosed walkway. Servants’ quarters were built above the carriage house. The garden had long since been abandoned, but Sara was already making plans to grow her own vegetables.

She knew the history of the house but, oddly, had never been in it until she and Matt had looked at it with the realtor a few weeks before. When she was growing up, it had been owned by the English couple, who were there only a few months out of the year. Later, it had sat empty and deteriorating. No one seemed to want it, partly, she supposed, because restoring the house was going to cost a good bit and partly because of the stringent requirements of restoration enforced by the city and its Preservation Board—St. Augustine was the only city in the United States with an archeologist on staff.

Matt fumbled with the keys as he unlocked the pedestrian gate which led to the loggia. Sara kept pushing him, she was so excited. “Hold on just a second, Sara, let me get the gate open.” The handle finally turned. “There.” He stepped back to let her enter first.

Sara rushed in, grabbing the keys from Matt as she went. She had the front door unlocked and was inside before Matt had taken three steps. Breathless, she stood in the middle of the large living room and turned slowly, trying to take it all in. A wide, deep fireplace anchored the far wall. To the left stairs led to a landing and then up to the second floor. Also on the left another room tucked in between the outside wall and the loggia. She planned to make it a small library and office. To the right the dining room extended from the front wall next to the loggia almost to the back wall. A hallway led from the living room behind the dining room to the kitchen. The inside, like the exterior featured Moorish accents with an intricately-tiled floor and elaborate filigree covering the arched doorways. An ornate mirror hung over the fireplace.

Matt walked up behind Sara and put his arms around her. They stood there staring at their reflections in the mirror, neither saying anything. After a few moments she turned quickly and hugged him. As she looked over his right shoulder she thought she saw something move on the far side of the room. When she looked again, she saw nothing.

“Let’s go check out the rest of the house,” she finally said, grabbing his hand and pulling him toward the stairs.

The upstairs was just as enchanting as the first floor. The floors were wood, but the Moorish motif had been carried throughout the house. Even the bathroom had a Moorish flavor to it. They walked quickly around the rooms, deciding that they’d use the corner room as the master bedroom and considering the possibility of adding a second bath to the other bedroom. Then they went downstairs to inspect the kitchen and the rest of the property.

The ensuing weeks were busy for Sara and Matt. Sara was taking days off to spend time with the architect, the contractor, and the city archeologist, and Matt worked extra hours at the hospital to cover for her.

One Saturday Sara was in the house alone checking on the many details of the renovation. She was standing in the dining room, when she heard guitar music again. It was coming from the living room.

She stepped through the doorway—and there, sitting in a chair, was a dark-haired man bent over what looked like a very old guitar and playing the piece she had heard a few weeks earlier. He was dressed in what she thought was 18th or 19th Century clothing: brown, tight-fitting trousers with a long waist; a short cream-colored waistcoat with wide lapels; and a white, high-collared shirt with ruffles down the front and hanging from the cuffs of his waistcoat. He didn’t acknowledge her presence but continued to pick out the music with long, slender, and very supple fingers. Sara stood just outside the dining room and listened. After several moments, she cleared her voice. Slowly turning his head, his face expressionless, gazed at her for four or five seconds. Then he disappeared.

Her knees were shaking. She wasn’t exactly afraid. She was stunned. She had never seen a ghost before, but she was certain that’s what the man was. Still, it wasn’t a frightening experience. And she had been enthralled the music.

For weeks she came to the house as often as possible, and every time she was alone, the guitarist appeared. After several visits, he stopped disappearing when she made her presence known, evaporating only when someone else came or when he finished what he was playing, always the same piece.

Sara was fascinated by the apparition. She didn’t tell Matt or anyone else about it. She didn’t know exactly why. Did she believe he would think her insane? Did she feel guilty for some reason? She should have said something, but she didn’t. TO BE CONTINUED…