The Eastern State Penitentiary, located in Philadelphia, USA, was opened on 25 October 1829.
It is most famous as being the first prison to introduce a brand of solitary confinement as a form of rehabilitation. This solitary confinement was legally conditional in that the warden was required to visit every inmate each day, and that the overseers were required to see each inmate at least three times a day.
The doors on the prison were tiny, and it is believed that they were constructed like this in order to force prisoners to bow when entering their cells, similar to giving penance at a religious service. Each cell had a single glass skylight, said to represent the ‘eye of God’, which gave the impression that they were being watched by God at all times.
Outside the cells was an exercise yard, and time in the sun was synchronised so no prisoners would be out in the exercise yard at the same time – severely limiting human contact. When a prisoner was escorted to the yard from his cell, he would have a hood placed over his head so the other prisoners did not recognise him.
One of the most bizarre prisoners to be locked up in Eastern State Penitentiary was Pep “The Cat-Murdering Dog”. Pep was an actual dog who was given a life sentence by Governor Gifford Pinchot for allegedly murdering the governor’s wife’s favourite cat. Apparently Pep was assigned with an inmate number, and he even had a mug shot. It is thought though that the Governor placed “Pep” in prison simply to boost the morale of other inmates.
The prison was the scene of a major breakout when, on 3 April 1945, twelve inmates managed to dig an undiscovered, 97-foot (30 metre) tunnel under the prison. It took a year to dig this tunnel, the mastermind behind the escape being inmate Clarence Klinedinst, a plasterer, stone mason, burglar and forger. After a years’ worth of effort, half of the escapees were captured by the end of the day, with the other half caught within a couple of months.
Because of its dark history, many believe the Eastern State Penitentiary is haunted. Both officers and inmates alike have reported mysterious visions and strange experiences in the gaol. It is the place of legend in the paranormal community, with people travelling from all over the world to investigate it.
Some of the most common reported phenomenon include:
-Shadowy figures that seem to quickly turn away when approached
-a dark figure that is occasionally seen in the guard tower
-an evil cackling is heard coming from cellblock 12
-shadowy figures have been seen sliding down walls in cellblock 6
-ghostly faces have been witnessed in cellblock 4
-and strange sounds such as disembodied footsteps, distant talking, and banging of cell doors have also been heard.
The Eastern State Penitentiary is definitely on my Paranormal Bucket-list!
Peet is a paranormal investigator, ghost tour guide, events manager and documentary producer – she is also Cancerian, has blue eyes and likes walks on the beach…
What sets your business apart in the field? We aren’t your ‘run of the mill’ ghost tour. We aren’t big business trying to make money. We run our tours on passion, and we are primarily paranormal investigators, and ghost tour guides second. We don’t just offer ghost tours, we offer a variety of different events for people to enjoy, from ghost hunts, to our big expo (the Oz Paranormal and Spiritual Expo), and the Death Culture Series – where we get speakers in specific taboo genres to come in and talk about what they do. Finally, we have produced a professional documentary on one of our venues, and hope to do more!
What is one of your best business tips? Utilise social media as best you can. So many people are on it nowadays that it is the best resource out there for advertising.
Megan is confident “guests at this private seating will walk away feeling sufficiently satisfied from the combination of flavours offered…” and should expect a “...sweet experience of contact with the spirit world.”
Tickets are still available but selling fast so get yours today! BUY TICKETS HERE
South Australia’s Haunted Horizon Ghost Tours has been nominated in the Telstra Australian Business Awards in the category South Australian Micro Business Award
Alison Oborn owner and operator of Haunted Horizons described the nomination as “Really strange! Somewhere, deep down I still feel… “it is just a ghost tour” traditionally they are never taken seriously.”
There has been some serious attention on Haunted Horizons as this is not the first recognition the company has received being named Top Tour Operator in 2015 in the (South Australia) State Tourism Awards.
Alison isn’t complaining about the attention of course adding ‘’there is a pride that comes with realizing that we are doing a great job in sharing our passion.’’
So what is the secret to their success?
‘’Personality’’ is the key ingredient says Alison ‘’My amazing guides, as I always say, are the beating heart of Haunted Horizons. They fully understand the ‘keeping it real’ motto and are a lot of fun to be around for both us and our guests. We weren’t frightened to throw out that thinking that people have to have something happen to enjoy their night. They can enjoy it anyway and if something happens as well… that is a bonus.’’
The business awards have been running since 1992 and ‘’showcase the very best of Australia’s small and medium business talent…2016 entrants will be no exception.’’
Check out Haunted Horizons on FACEBOOK to wish them luck and check out ALL they have to offer at their WEBSITE
My Spooky Business...Celebrating Australian people working in the Paranormal and Spiritual Community. This week we chat to Renata Daniel owner/operator of Newcastle Ghost Tours
What is the name of your Business and how long have you been in business?
I am the owner of Newcastle Heritage and Ghost Tours based in Newcastle NSW. I have been taking tours since 2010.
What motivated you to start your business?
Newcastle has an amazing history but few know about it! I went on a ghost tour delivered by a group from Sydney in about 2008 and was motivated to look into starting something locally. It would take me two years of research and jumping through all the proper hoops before I ran my first tour.
What sets your business apart in the field?
Really, I don’t try to stand apart or be better than anyone else I just try to do my best and honour the stories that I hear and tell. This is my full time business so it is ultimately important that I maintain a good reputation and gain trust within the community. I’m pretty old school and cannot compete with those who can deliver fantastic on line content, videos, and social media content (jealous much) so I just focus on what I can do and do it well.
What is one of your best business tips? Work hard, keep an eye on what your competition is doing as it can give you ideas on how to run your business better. If you get up every day and cannot wait to get to work….it means you are in the right place.
A peak behind the scenes…what is something we don’t know about your business? I try and give back to community as much as I can. I support DevilArk by sponsoring a Tasmanian Devil with a monthly payment. I also support Newcastle Night Angels a local charity supporting local homeless people and donate when I can. I have virtually turned my home into a storage shed with all the stuff I have collected to run my business – it drives my husband crazy.
What is your favourite business quote? If ‘Plan A’ didn’t work the alphabet has 25 more letters – stay cool!
Connect with Newcastle Ghost Tours at their WEBSITE and on FACEBOOK
The definition of a taphophile is someone who loves cemeteries and funerals. Although I am someone who does not love funerals (let’s face it, I always bawl like a baby, probably more so than the grieving family themselves) I sure do love cemeteries. Whenever I’m on the road, I’m sure to crane my neck to look at a cemetery passing by, imagining myself walking through the plots, reminding myself of my own finality.
My earliest memories are that of Rookwood Cemetery, located within the confines of Sydney. It is the biggest Necropolis in the Southern Hemisphere and is the final resting place of over a million souls. Pretty incredible, right? I would happily skip amongst the graves, practicing my reading skills, becoming familiar with those who had passed over, finding little artefacts such as watches and rosary beads, as well as pictures of the once living. People from different religions, cultures, political persuasions, socio-economic status and different times, all resting under the same sky.
I would define myself as a people person, but that isn’t just limited to the living. Deceased people fascinate me. The word “cemetery” is Greek for “sleeping place”. I want to know the stories of these people before the cemetery became their final sleeping place. What were their names, how long did they live for, where did they grow up and die, did they have a family? A head stone only tells you so much. I am in love with the individual story of one’s life, no matter how seemingly inane it may be. I like to use the details on the head stone and reconstruct pieces of what I think their story might be or might have entailed as well as reflect on what my life story might eventually look like if it were presented on a head stone. (So far it consists heavily of cats and chocolate, so I’m trying to work on the finer details).
So GOOey friends, here are some cemeteries I have enjoyed visiting in the Sydney and greater Sydney region over the years. Feel free to let us know at GOO what your favourite resting places are.
1. Rookwood Cemetery. Located in Lidcombe, Sydney, this cemetery has been established since 1868 and is the resting place of many prominent Australian figures and is also the resting place of my own grandmother. It has an array of mausoleums, monuments and memorials located in its confines and also runs walking tours (which I am adding to my list of must dos for 2016). You could spend days there (and if you’re lucky enough when you pass over, a whole eternity!) A must for any taphophile.
2. St John’s Cemetery, Parramatta. This is the oldest burial ground in Australia, and seems somewhat out of place within the urban sprawl of the Parramatta CBD. I have fond memories visiting this cemetery during my high school years and recall my admiration for a couple of interred souls with the first name of “Hannibal”. Many of Australia’s colonial pioneers are buried here including D’Arcy Wentworth, many of the Blaxland family and Mary Pymble. I am fascinated by convict history and the history of this cemetery will not disappoint.
3. All Saints Cemetery, North Parramatta. On the outside, it may seem a little innocuous, but again, it’s the human story that intrigues me. Parramatta is one of the oldest colonial settlements in Australia, so it is hardly surprising that it has its fair share of cemeteries. Approximately 2,000 people are buried with many in unmarked graves. According to the information on site, this includes many “poor, insane, abandoned, destitute and soon forgotten, most died as inmates of the Parramatta Lunatic Asylum, Parramatta Gaol, the Female Orphan School, Parramatta Orphan School and other benevolent institutions in the area.” There are many other families from backgrounds buried in the cemetery.
Other notable cemeteries I have visited, but need to explore further are Hartley Cemetery (which is well kept and lis one of the oldest cemeteries ocated in the upper part of the Blue Mountains, but is closed at night). Junee Cemetery, resting place of one of Junee’s most well known families, the Crawleys of the Monte Cristo Homestead (well worth investigating!) and Picton Cemetery (often referred to as one of the most haunted towns in NSW).
Some other cemeteries that I would love to one day visit include St Bartholomew’s, located at Prospect next to the Great Western Highway (always creeped me out driving past at night), Waverley Cemetery (you’d never tire of that view) Camperdown Cemetery in Sydney’s inner west, as well Mulgoa Anglican Church Cemetery and St Matthews Anglican Cemetery. There are thousands of cemeteries and bural places across Australia. Put them all on the list!
And while I have plans of being cremated and sprinkled over my favourite geographic locations, while I am living, I want to know - who wants to tag along on a taphophilic adventure?
Disclaimer: While GOO encourages its followers to discover Australia’s fascinating cemetery scene, we encourage you to do so respectfully and within the confines of the law. Many respectful groups and teams operate walking and historical tours of cemetery sites, and we encourage you to look into these. Another helpful website is the Australian Cemeteries Index: http://austcemindex.com/
When not leading others astray by night on ghost tours, Elie teaches squishy little people by daylight and has an obsession for all things cats.
"I'm a barbie girl, in a barbie world. Life in plastic, it's fantastic. "
Whilst most of us at some point in our lives probably had a Barbie or Ken doll or maybe you leaned towards He-man Master of the Universe or a superhero, not all dolls were the seemingly harmless variety of the aforementioned. Throughout history there have been many reports of dolls who I for one wouldn't be touching let alone giving to my children. Personally I can't stand clown dolls or those porcelain looking dolls that just stare at you wide eyed no matter where you move. But I digress, let's have a look at some of the not so pleasant dolls that people have been unfortunate enough to come across.
The most famous is probably Robert the Doll. Robert was created close to the turn of the 20th century and is dressed like a sailor boy, he was stuffed with straw and had buttons for eyes. The story goes that in the late 1890's Mr and Mrs Otto built their new home in Key West, Florida, they were rather well off, but not kind to their servants at all. One of their serving girls, who it was said was versed in the art of Voodoo and who had been mistreated, gave their son Robert Eugene Otto this doll who would become his constant companion. Robert became obsessed with the doll, he would sit it at the table at dinner time, dress it in his own clothes and insisted on being tucked into bed with it each night.
After a while Robert asked only to be called by his middle name 'Gene' as Robert was now the dolls name and his parents often heard him having conversations in his room, with a second lower voice answering him. Gene began to start blaming Robert for household things getting thrown around, toys getting mutilated and his room being messed up. Giggling could often be heard and more than once his mother came into his room to find Gene cowering in the corner with Robert sitting on the bed staring. Many servants left as the antics escalated, causing his parents and relatives to eventually remove Robert and put him in a box in the attic where he stayed for years.
Gene's father died and left him the house so he moved back with his new wife. He collected Robert from the attic and the doll took hold again. Gene's wife claimed she had seen his facial expressions change, others claimed to see the doll staring at them from out of the turret windows, they would find him in the rocking chair when he'd been left in the attic. Gene took the doll with them wherever they went and even had it sitting in a chair in their bedroom. His wife eventually insisted the doll be moved back to the attic as their marriage broke down. Mrs Otto supposedly went insane and died of unknown causes, Gene followed not long after on June 24th 1974.
Robert was left on his own but still got up to mischief. Reports of laughing came from within the house, he reportedly locked people in the attic or attacked them. Tenants heard footsteps in the attic and a plumber found the doll moved across the room. Eventually another family brought the house and as soon as their 10 year old daughter found Robert the mischief started again. She claimed, and still did 30 years later, that the doll used to torture her. They used to find Robert all around the house, after locking him in the attic but the last straw was finding the doll at the foot of their bed with a kitchen knife.
In 1994 he was donated to the Fort East Martello Museum where his mischief hasn't stopped and where he remains to this day closed up in a glass case. Cameras and electrical devices often fail in front of his display. One staff member claimed to have cleaned him up and turned all the lights off, locked up for the night only to arrive in the morning with all the lights on and dust all over the shoes of the doll as if he'd been walking around. Staff will often find him moved in his display case or report hearing someone tapping on glass when they walk past. Visitors also have claimed to see his face change expression like Gene's wife did. Legend has it that if you try to take his picture without asking his permission then Robert will curse you. Are you willing to try???
Let's talk about Annabelle now! Many kids I knew growing up had a Raggedy Ann doll, not many I'm sure would've been like this!
This doll was brought in 1970 from an antique store, Donnas mother brought it for her as a graduation present from nursing college. At the time Donna lived with a roommate Angie, neither of them noticed anything strange about the doll. Soon though they began to notice the doll had moved, to start with just small things like a hand or leg being in a different position, but eventually they would find her in different rooms of the house to where she had been left. Sometimes she would be crossed legged on the couch or standing upright next to a kitchen chair.
Often Donna would leave her in the lounge and go to work, only to come home and find her in the bedroom with the door closed and vice versa. Their friend Lou hated the doll and insisted there was something evil about it. Soon they started to come home and find notes written on parchment paper asking to 'help me' or 'help Lou'. No one in the house had any parchment paper so where did this come from and the writing was that of a child. The kicker came when Donna came home one night to find Annabelle on her bed with what looked like blood on her. Donna contacted a medium. The medium came and claimed to be in touch with a girl called Annabelle Higgins, she used to live there before the apartment was built and she was killed there. The girl claimed to feel safe with Donna and Angie and wanted to stay with them. They gave her permission to inhabit the doll and stay with them. Those of us who deal with the paranormal will know that who a spirit shows itself to be is not always the case and sadly in this situation that is exactly what happened!
Lou began to have horrific dreams where Annabelle was climbing up his leg while he slept and strangling him, he would wake up out of breath and with a pounding head. He became concerned for his friends. The next day Lou was in the house with Angie when they heard noises coming from Donnas room. Fearing they had an intruder they quietly went to the door, waited for the noises to stop then flung the door and turned the light on. The room was empty apart from Annabelle who was tossed in a corner. Lou walked into the room to investigate and as he moved closer to the doll he had the feeling someone was behind him. He spun around to see no one there, but suddenly had a burning pain in his chest. He opened his shirt to see 7 apparent claw marks on his chest that had drawn blood. They began to heal almost immediately but there was no doubt in Lou's mind that Annabelle had done it.
They called on a priest for help, who in turn called on paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Warrens determined that there was a demon attached to the doll and its final goal was to take over Donnas body. They took the doll away with them and the priest exorcised the house! Ed took the back way home, fearing the doll would cause problems on the drive home. Which it did, the power steering failed, the brakes kept failing almost causing collisions and the car kept stalling, he eventually doused the doll in holy water and it stayed quiet for the rest of the drive. At their home, Ed sat the doll in a chair near his desk where it levitated several times. Over the next few weeks it would appear in different rooms of the house and seemed to have a hatred for the clergy. One priest came to visit and basically said she was just a doll and no threat to anyone. On his way home he was involved in a near fatal collision when his brakes failed. To this day Annabelle is now housed in a purpose built glass case in the Warren's Occult museum.
While she seems quiet now she is blamed for one more death, a young man and his girlfriend were viewing her in the museum when the young guy banged on the cabinet and provoked her. On their trip home on a motorcycle they crashed with the young man dying instantly. When the girl was later questioned by the Warrens she claimed that just before they crashed they were laughing and joking about the doll.
I don't know about you but I'll never look at Raggedy Ann the same way again!
What about creepy baby dolls, Mandy is the epitome of this!! Mandy is one of those creepy porcelain dolls that I just hate to look at. She was either made in Germany or England around 1910-1920 and she was donated to the Quesnel Museum in British Columbia in 1991. Her previous owner could no longer keep her as she used to be woken up constantly by a baby crying in the night in her house. Needless to say there was no baby living there at the time. The sound would echo through the halls coming up from the basement. When she investigated she would find nothing but an open window.
Finally she had enough and donated the doll to the museum and the crying in her house stopped. It cannot be substantiated but there was a story that a little girl died in the basement while she was with the doll, but at this point that is just a story. The museum was told she couldn't be put with other dolls or she would harm them.
Once she arrived at the museum strange things began to happen. Staff would have their lunches disappear from the refrigerator only to find them tucked away in drawers later. Pens, books, pictures and other objects would go missing, some never to be found again. Staff would report hearing footsteps when no one was around. She was originally placed near the front entrance to the museum where many people discussed her cracked and creepy face. She was eventually moved to another section in a case by herself but almost as if throwing a tantrum, the staff came in to find papers thrown all about the place. Electrical devices often failed around her and many visitors claimed to feel an uneasiness when near her. Some have also claimed to see her head and fingers move on their own accord, she's also been known to move to a different display case.
Mandy also has a little lamb toy that sometimes appears outside of her display case even though the museum has been closed. Staff has also reported tapping on the glass of her cabinet. She seems to like attention and the staff, to sometimes settle her down, will carry her around with them at night or sit her on their lap while they work. This seems to placate her and most agree she doesn't seem to be evil but just a small child that wants some attention.
There are many other 'haunted' dolls out there that I can discuss but that can be for the next blog. It's a subject that fascinates yet terrifies me at the same time. I'll just leave this one here by letting you know that Target will be having their toy sale in a couple of months ;)
Amanda Moloney is a mum to 2 children and a husband by day and paranormal investigator by night. Amanda's passion is not only finding answers to her questions but also the historical side of a lot of the cases and she is an avid researcher. She also likes to take romantic walks along the beach