Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Own A Piece of History

Right now, despite the slump in the real estate market locally, there are two rather interesting older homes for sale right in New Windsor. The first of these is the old Anders property, sitting right on Main Street across from the bank. It's a beautiful older home and has been kept in good shape by the current owners.

The second property is just outside of town on Springdale Avenue and has been a bed and breakfast inn for many years. It was built sometime in the late 1800's and has a history of being haunted. In the early 1900's, it was called the Windsor Castle and was a popular place to stay for visitors to the area. IN more recent years, it has been known as the Yellow Turtle Inn.

Visitors to the property in modern days have reported strange sightings and unusual noises. The third floor, in particular, seems to attract spirits. Years ago, a family living in the house reported the sounds of marbles rolling down the hall outside one of the bedrooms in the middle of the night.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Junkyard

To appreciate this place, you have to be able to get a sense of its size, considering it sits along an old country road outside of Taneytown. I the photo to the right (best seen at larger size by clicking on it), the cars actually stretch from before the old mill on the right to quite a ways beyond the bran all the way on the left. The areas in between the buildings are jam-packed with rusted old cars and it's impossible to see from the road just how far back the piles of old junkers goes. From the road, I could see dozens.

In among the truly awful are a few gems however, such as this classic old Hudson. Too bad the body is in two pieces! The contrast between the emblem and the completely rusted grill makes for an interesting picture.

It's rather amusing to see how many different types of cars are in this lot - everything from old classics to sports cars and everything in between. I did have to laugh when I noticed the sign along the road though. Would anyone really notice if someone dumped some more junk here?

But my favorite from this morning's trip is this one of the front side of the old mill. See if you see what I see in this picture.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Snallygaster Sightings

Every few years, someone reports a sighting of this creature, though the descriptions are often very different. Here's one of the earlier ones, written with tongue firmly in cheek:

Frederic, The News, July 25, 1934

Snallygaster Story Is Revived At Middletown

Baltimore, July 23

Excessive heat of the current summer, it is feared by many residents of Middletown, Md., is hatching snallygaster eggs with loud and startling reports.

A dispatch from Middletown states: "Residents of Pleasant Walk, in the northern section of Middletown Valley, have been much excited during the past week over the identity of a large, strange bird which was shot and killed by Edward Lewis.

"Some of the persons who saw the bird expressed the belief that it is the offspring of the dreaded snallygaster which appeared in this section in November , 1932, despite the fact that scientists claim it requires from twenty to twenty-five years for a snallygaster egg to hatch. Those who believe that the young monster is a small snallygaster claim that the unusual heat of the present summer caused one of the eggs to hatch prematurely.

"According to Mr. Lewis, he had been missing chickens from his flock for some time and kept a watch out for the bird, which was four and one-half feet tall and measured six feet from tip to tip of wing. Its bill was four inches long and the claws at least four inches in length. The bird had speckled feathers.

"Mr. Lewis also stated that even after the bird had been shot and badly wounded, it made an attempt to attack one of his children, and it was necessary to fire a second shot to save the child from the clutches of the monster."

The snallygaster which terrified the Middletown Valley in November 1932 met its end when, attracted by the fumes arising from a 2500-gallon illicit liquor vat in the Frog Hollow section of Washington County, it lost control of its wings and dropped into the mash.

Prohibition agents who raided the still a few days after the accident occurred reported finding the monster in cold death. The mash had eaten practically all the flesh from the beast, only the skeleton remaining.

It now appears, however, that the monster laid several eggs before its fall. And it is believed in some quarters that the exceptionally warm weather of the past two months has caused of these eggs to hatch about twenty years ahead of its time.

When last seen alive in November 1932, the senior snallygaster was wearing water-wings and riding a bicycle, giving vent to strange cries as it pedaled its way over mountain roads.

Strange or Not?

Why does the stone in the middle show virtually no sign of wear, compared to the ones on either side of it? All three are from the mid 1800's and the one in the middle is actually older than the other two.

It's actually not really a mystery as the one in the middle was carved by Boss Hammond from a very tightly-grained black stone that is similar to slate, and as a result, all of the stones he carved have stood up very well to the ravages of time. Sebastian "Boss" Hammond was a slave who purchased his freedom one gravestone at a time, the majority of his stones found in the area around New Windsor in Carroll County. He left no signature on his work, but administration records in Carroll County show the executors of several estates paying him between $11 and $21 for grave markers. This particular one is found in the private cemetery of the Cassell family out side of Westminster.

Tracking Old Stories

Here's an interesting old story from the 30's:

From The Democratic Advocate (Westminster), Nov. 23, 1934.

George Miller Held For Arson

Fires Barn of Norman Miller, Near Union Mills---Feared Half-Sister Would "Bewitch" Him--Denies He Confessed To Starting Blaze--Sentence Not Passed.

George Miller, 18 year old farm youth who signed a statement that he was driven to burning his cousin's barn by fear of his half-sister's threats to "bewitch" him, Tuesday was convicted of arson in the Carroll County Circuit Court. The jury found Miller guilty despite his repudiation of the confession, which he admitted signing. "I was scared," was his explanation of the confession when he took the stand.

The court deferred sentence of the youth and sent him back to jail.

Miller was arrested October 4 on a charge of burning the barn of Norman Miller, his cousin, near Union Mills. At that time, in the presence of State's Attorney Theodore F. Brown and Sheriff Ray Yohn, he admitted the crime, saying he set the barn afire because his half-sister, Mrs. Edgar Cronister, had ordered him to and said she would bewitch him if he did not obey. She already had bewitched some horses in the neighborhood, he said.

"Do you believe in witchcraft?" he was asked.

"When you have been taught that ever since you were a baby you can't help but believe it," was the answer in the signed confession.

The youth explained in the statement that Mrs. Cronister was angry with Norman Miller because her husband had been calling on their daughter. She predicted that either their home or their barn would burn as result of these visits, said Miller. Then she sent him to start the fire.

Mrs. Cronister, a short dark woman with piercing eyes, also was arrested and charged with "counseling arson." She took the stand in the trial of Miller and flatly denied any threats.

The confession was introduced as evidence by Sheriff Yohn. The boy not only told the prosecutor about his fear of his sister's supernatural power but also, when taken back to jail, he repeated it before a stenographer and signed the statement, the Sheriff said. The officer thought there was little doubt that Miller was "scared," as he had said, but witches, not officers, seemed to be the subject of his fear.

Miller being the State's chief witness against his half-sister, and having denied the truth of his statement about her threats, Brown moved the case against her to the "stet" docket and she was allowed to return home to her husband and four children.

What makes a story like this so interesting is the awareness that there is usually more to the story than meets the eye. In this case, though Miller later denied his original confession, a little background research does turn up some rather interesting additional items that flesh out more about the people involved.

Another article about this fire gave Mrs. Cronister's first name as Rosie, a bit of info that made tying in more of the family information much easier. As it turns out, Edgar Chronister (note the spelling) had a bit of trouble with the law from time to time. For example, in the fall of 1929, Edgar was arrested for "illegal possession of intoxicating liquor", after a local raid turned up several moonshiners int he area, including Edgar's father , John. Problems with moonshine may have led to other problems as well as the following story shows Edgar in trouble again:

New Oxford Item, 1/15/1931


Edgar Chronister, Mt. Pleasant township, was arrested Friday morning by Deputy Sheriff Lewis W. Wagaman on charges of assault and battery and on-support. Information was made by his wife, Rosie Chronister, Mt. Pleasant township.

Chronister was taken before Justice of the Peace S. J. Staub, Bonneauville, where he waived a hearing and was committed

to the Adams county jail in default of $700 bail.

Monday, March 26, 2007

An Odd Old News Article

Two Mormon elders named James and Maxwell, who have been proselytizing in Washington and Holmes counties, in Florida, were whipped by the residents and driven into a swamp, where it is believed they perished.

Reported May 15, 1890 Hagerstown | The Herald And Torch Light

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Anyone Missing Their Cauldron?

Monday, March 5, 2007 9:02 AM EST
By Danée Attebury

A human skull in a black cauldron as well as other unusual items that may have been part of a religious ritual were uncovered by police Thursday in Conowingo.

Several local residents discovered the site while walking through a wooded area near the 500 block of Belle Manor Road at about 2 p.m. They called Maryland State Police, said Detective Sgt. Steve Seipp.

The skull was inside one of two black cauldrons at the scene. Police also found two human thigh bones, a plastic skull, animal jaw bones, turtle shells, feathers, purple and red cloth, toy handcuffs, crosses and a small statue resembling a totem pole, Seipp said.

“This is the first time I’ve seen anything like this,” he said.


Update (07/01/2008): In related news, the author of this blog is not the same person who wrote the article above, despite what a bunch of posters on a beauty discussion board seem to think. The article was posted because it fits in with the topics covered on this blog. The author of this blog is also not the author of the Bashville blog - the template is a common one and can be used by anyone with a Blogger acount. And, finally, the author of this blog does not post on either the beauty bash board or on Makeup Alley. but is getting quite a chuckle watching the antics.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Tradition Continues

Late to posting this, as this is actually news from late January, but so it goes.

Every year, since 1949, a solitary figure has gone to Edgar Allan Poe's grave site in Baltimore to perform a tribute to the poet. This year was no exception, as the visitor left the ow-traditional birthday cognac and rose on Poe's grave. In 1993, a note was left stating, "The torch will be passed." Apparently, the man who had been making the pilgrimage each year had passed the tradition on to his son, who is now leaving the tribute each year on Poe's birthday.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Our Haunted Museum

I live in New Windsor, MD, which is a typical small, Carroll County town that was a far busier place 100 years ago. There are a handful of small businesses along Main Street, but generally it's mostly a residential area now. We do however now have a small museum, located in one of the oldest houses in town, and rumor has it, we have a few ghosts. Back in the fall of 2006, just before the museum opened to the public, the local history group, the New Windsor Heritage Committee, invited a paranormal investigator to speak with the group. She was from the Gettysburg area and had spend some time a few days taking pictures in the old graveyard right behind the museum.

She told us during the meeting that she had detected a young girl's spirit in the upstairs, and had felt several other presences as well. And the photos she showed us from her trip to the graveyard were jam-packed with orbs.

If any house in town deserves to be haunted though, it's probably the Bloom House down by the railroad tracks, built in the late 1800's. Adam Bloom and his young family moved in to the house in 1890 and he opened a creamery nearby, which was, apparently, quite successful. His oldest daughters attended private school in town and life proceeded on an even keel. But several years later, Adam grew more and more despondent and his daughter Estelle later claimed that he had been heavily influenced by a traveling missionary who convinced him of his own sinful nature. Whatever the reasons, on May 20, 1898, Adam shot himself in his workshop and took quite a few hours to finally die of his wounds, no doubt in a great deal of pain. Local historian, R. Bryce Workman, has written a small book, available at the New Windsor Museum, detailing the life of Estelle (Stella) Bloom and her sister Marion, both of whom had become involved with very prominent writers during their lives, in and around our sleepy little town. At the end, though, Estelle died alone in the old family home, having suffered the ravages of both cancer and too much alcohol.

Never a Dull Moment

I know this is not the time of year that most people think of the sort of things that I classify as weird, you know, haunted houses, strange creatures, odd people with quirky behavior and so on, but I just get a kick out of this stuff, so I look out for it year-round. While, you're sitting there on your back deck enjoying the newly arrived spring weather (if and when it ever arrives here in Maryland), I'll probably be sitting in front of my PC, buried in some odd research project, trying to dig up yet more strange info to amuse myself with.

One of the odd books in my collection is a great book called Weird Maryland, which is one of a series of books about weird places in the US - nice to know we're odd enough to make the cut, eh? I consider the book a great starting point for learning more about some of these weird places around here. Even though I've lived here all my life, there were a few in the book that I had never heard of at all.

Like Midgetville, also known as Zoobieville. According to the book, there are at least possible communities of houses built for midgets in the state, but the only one that I have been able to learn more about is the one referred to as Zoobieville. On a message board devoted to hoaxes, there were several people who lived either in the northeast area of Maryland or in Delaware who had heard of or visited at some point, a place known as Zoobieville in that area. Apparently, there is an area up there known as the Valley and that is where this community is located. Rather interestingly, one of the sites that mentioned Zoobieville also made mention of a place in the area called Cult House, stating that it was less scary in the day time, though the post did mention that Zoobieville was "creepy as ever". So, I guess I'm intrigued a bit now. From the sounds of it, it must be somewhere in the area near the Delaware line, as he mentioned that before they went to Zoobieville, they had gone to "the highest point in Delaware", on Ebright Road, which runs between Naamans Road and Namaans Creek Road outside of Wilmington. A different post had talked about a midget community near Smiths Bridge Road so this place may not actually belong in Maryland at all, but rather in Delaware or possibly PA. Hmm...