Seven Southern Mysteries Mar 22, 2016 10:08:26 GMT -5
Post by Graveyardbride on Mar 22, 2016 10:08:26 GMT -5
Seven Southern Mysteries
The Blood-Stained Mausoleum (Cleveland, Tennessee). In the graveyard beside St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, one of Cleveland’s oldest landmarks, is a hauntingly beautiful white marble mausoleum (above) that houses the remains of a beloved 7-year-old girl. Nina Craigmiles was the daughter of two of Cleveland’s most prominent citizens, John Henderson Craigmiles and his wife Adelia. On Oct. 18, 1871 – St. Luke’s Day – Nina was riding in a carriage with her grandfather, Dr. Gideon Thompson. Because Nina loved going fast and always wanted to drive the horses, her grandfather often handed her the reins. On this day, the carriage was traveling at a good clip, when, for some reason, the horses ran onto the railroad track and the conveyance was hit by an oncoming train. Dr. Thompson was thrown clear, but little Nina died instantly. It was unclear who was driving the buggy when the accident occurred.
Nina’s family was devastated by the loss of the lively child and John Craigmiles was determined to create a lasting memorial to her memory. He wasted no time financing the construction of an Episcopal church and stately tomb to hold his daughter’s remains. No expense was spared. He asked that the church be named in honor of St. Luke because it was on St. Luke’s day that Nina lost her life. The following year, the church was dedicated on St. Luke’s Day and Nina’s body was removed from its temporary resting place and interred in the magnificent tomb.
The Craigmiles mausoleum is constructed of Carrara marble, features 4-foot-thick walls and is topped by a marble spire and cross. Within, young Nina lies in a marble sarcophagus bearing the inscription: “Born August 5, 1864. Nina, daughter of M. Adelia and John H. E. Craigmiles. Fell asleep October 18, 1871.” In his will, John Craigmiles stipulated: “I wish to very plainly be buried in the lower-hand catacomb in the vault or mausoleum where sleeps the ashes of our darling little Nina,” and over the years, other family members joined the child in the imposing sepulcher.
The mystery of the Craigmiles mausoleum began shortly after Nina was laid to rest within its cool confines when someone noticed streaks of red above the entrance. The family hired men to remove the discoloration, but they were unsuccessful as have been later efforts. Many claimed the stains represented the blood of those resting within the tomb and deepened with the interment of each family member. Some even said the marble over the door was replaced on one occasion, but within a short time, the streaks of red became visible on the new stone. The source of the blood stains on the Craigmiles tomb remains a mystery.
The Day it Rained Eels (Coalburg, Alabama). In May 1892, the New York Sun reported a strange event following a storm in the tiny community of Coalburg: Eeels fell from the sky. And not just any eels, but a type “unknown in Alabama,” according to The Book of the Damned: The Collected Works of Charles Fort published in 1919. “Piles of them in the streets – people alarmed – farmers coming with carts and taking them away for fertilizing material,” Fort wrote. An article in The Scientific American Presents in 2000, titled “It’s Raining Eels: A Compendium of Weird Weather,” claimed the eels had likely been sucked up by the storm. “The eel deluge may have resulted from a waterspout lifting and jettisoning the fishes,” the article said. But to this day, no one knows where the eels began their journey or how they ended up in Alabama.
Other incidents of animal rains (usually fish) have been recorded. Fish fell over Marksville, La., Oct. 23, 1947. The skies were foggy but no storms were reported. The fish included large-mouth black bass, sunfish, goggle-eye and hickory shad. And on a clear day in May 1956, fish fell on Chilatchee, Ala. Reportedly this “fish rain” included catfish, perch and bream and lasted for around 15 minutes.
The Ghost Ship Gloria Colita (Mobile, Alabama). On Jan. 21, 1940, a 125-foot British schooner called Gloria Colita sailed from Mobile toward Cuba carrying a load of lumber. Less than two weeks later, on Feb. 4, Colita was discovered in the Gulf of Mexico, adrift and unmanned, approximately 150 miles south of Mobile. Some sources say she was discovered 139 miles out. The vessel’s rigging and rudder were gone and she was “badly damaged” overall, according to a Feb. 9, 1940, article in the Free Lance-Star of Fredericksburg, Va. Gloria Colita began her journey with a crew of nine men. “Apparently sudden winds striking before one of the sails could be lowered, washed the crew overboard,” the newspaper reported. On February 13, the Southeast Missourian wrote: “Judging from wrecked remains of the ship, old salts estimate that 100-foot waves broke over her, washing her crew overboard.” The damaged ship was towed to the Port of Mobile. Her crew was never seen again.
The Phantom Barber of Pascagoula (Mississippi). Residents of Pascagoula, a bustling town besieged with new jobs as the manufacture of warships increased, were on guard in June of 1942 after several people reported someone had stolen into their rooms at night to cut their hair. The stalker, soon nicknamed “The Phantom Barber,” first attacked June 5, cutting the hair of two girls – Mary Evelyn Briggs and Edna Marie Hydel – at Our Lady of Victories Convent. According to a story on GulfLive.com, the girls said the man whispered “Shh” and left through a window. A few days later, he cut hair from a young girl in a private residence. He was partial to blonde-haired girls, sometimes taking a lock or two, but at other times, cutting almost all the child’s hair. Police were baffled and residents were in a panic over the mysterious intruder.
After the eighth bizarre hair-cutting attack, police got a lead. Mr. and Mrs. Terrell Heidelberg were attacked in their home, but this time, instead of cutting their hair, the intruder assaulted them, breaking the wife’s teeth and striking the man with an iron bar. As police searched for a suspect, one additional haircut attack occurred, according to oddlyhistorical.com.
Then authorities announced the arrest of William A. Dolan, who had a grudge against Terrell’s father, a judge. Dolan was charged with attempted murder in the Heidelberg assault. Police also discovered a collection of human hair near his home and announced the Phantom Barber had been captured. However, Dolan was convicted only of the attack on the Heidelbergs and continued to deny he was the Phantom Barber.
Because the brutality of the Heidelberg attack was so out of character for the Phantom Barber hair-cuttings and Dolan was never charged with any other crimes, people began to wonder if the Phantom Barber had eluded capture. The hair was never tested and the assaults ceased after Dolan’s arrest. Was Dolan the Phantom Barber? We will never know.
The Phantom Whistler (Paradis, Louisiana). In September 1950, newspapers around the country detailed the case of a mysterious whistler who stalked a young woman in Paradis. Eighteen-year-old Jacquelyn Cadow told authorities the incidents began in February when someone started wolf whistling beneath her bedroom window. She also said someone had broken into the house. Police could find no signs of the whistler.
After Ms. Cadow announced her engagement to Herbert Belsom, a state trooper, the Whistler changed his tune to a “warbling funeral march,” according to an article in the St. Petersburg Times. Then, the threatening phone calls started. On Sept. 21, The Reading Eagle (Penn.) reported: “For the past few days the townspeople have talked of little except the intruder who threatened the girl’s life and vowed to prevent her marriage to a young state trooper. Opinion is divided over whether the nocturnal whistler is a prankster, a would-be killer or a lunatic.”
Deputies began guarding the Cadow home at night and neighbors and reporters watched the house in an attempt to catch a glimpse of the Phantom. On one occasion, Cadow, her mother, aunt and a reporter from the New Orleans States-Item all heard the Whistler, but saw no one. Cadow tried staying with relatives, but the Whistler followed and continued his harassment. The nerves of the young bride-to-be were frayed and she came close to suffering a breakdown.
Finally on Oct. 1, Cadow and Belsom were married without incident. The Whistler was never heard again and the sheriff closed the case. The Whistler's identity was never determined.
The Voodoo Hex of Shelbyville (Tennessee). This tale involves a 1957 murder that was quickly solved. The mystery surrounding the incident lies in its purported supernatural elements. On March 22, 1957, the bullet-ridden body of Simon Warner, a self-described “crime doctor” and owner of the Country Café. Police soon arrested Mose H. Martin of Stevenson, Ala., and charged him with first-degree murder. Martin said he had consulted Warner, who was known locally for his psychic abilities and often told fortunes.
Warner took pride in helping solve, or even prevent, crimes. According to a March 23, 1957, article in the Gadsden Times: “Warner had said on previous occasions he was able to see a killing shaping up months in advance and ‘I always do all I can to keep it from happening.’” People came from miles around to have their fortunes told by Martin and many claimed his powers were astonishing.
However, in the case of Mose Martin, something went wrong. Martin told authorities he paid Warner $50 to cure a stomach ailment. Officer Durwood Thompson quoted Martin as saying: “I shot him because he double-crossed me in voodoo. I would have shot anybody who double-crossed me in black magic like he did.” Martin’s stomach ailment had grown worse following Warner’s treatment – the details of which were never revealed – convincing Martin he had been the victim of a “voodoo hex.” In the end, Warner could not predict his own murder – at least not in time to stop it.
The Bleeding House (Atlanta, Georgia). Just before midnight on Sept. 8, 1987, an elderly couple discovered blood on the floors and lower walls of the home they had rented at 1114 Fountain Drive (above) in Atlanta. Unable to find its source, 77-year-old Minnie Clyde Winston and her husband, 79-year-old William Winston, contacted police. Blood was found on the bathroom floor and walls, and in the kitchen, living room, hallways, bedroom, basement and crawl space. The Winstons were the only occupants and owned no pets. Police were baffled and took samples to be tested. The fluid was definitely human blood, Type O. Both the Winstons were Type A.
In October 1987, Sgt. H. L. Bolton was quoted in the African American, saying, “We have not stopped looking because we know houses don’t bleed. But we haven’t determined that a crime was committed and that is our primary concern.”
There were no additional blood stain incidents in the home and police eventually closed the investigation. The source of the blood remains a mystery.
Sources: Kelly Kazek, AL.com; Atlanta Magazine, June 2006; and 13 Tennessee Ghosts by Kathryn Tucker Windham.