Archive for Strange Tales

The Hahn Mansion

Posted in History, Locations, Writing with tags , , , , , , , on February 12, 2018 by S. P.

The Hahn Mansion Today (Photo: Realtor.com)

The story of Rudolph Hahn and the Hahn Mansion began in the silver mines of Montana and ended in a seedy boarding house in Spokane, Washington.  It’s a tale of wealth, divorce, intrigue, death, and murder, whose spirits, some claim, linger to this day.

On September 5, 1908, the president and largest shareholder of the Hecla Mining Company, John Smith, died, leaving his vast fortune and major interest in the company to his recently wed wife, Sarah.  In 1916, Sarah and her new husband, Ralston “Jack” Wilbur, spent $75,000 (nearly $1.7 million in today’s dollars) on the construction of a sprawling mansion on Spokane’s South Hill.  Contemporary newspaper accounts reported that famed Spokane architects G. A. Pehrson and Kirtland K. Cutter collaborated on design of the palatial home, which featured gold leaf carvings, mother-of-pearl inlays, and beamed ceilings.

Not long after completion of the home, Sarah divorced Jack Wilbur and sold the home in 1918 to a druggist named William Whitlock.  In turn, Whitlock sold the home in 1924 to one Randolph Hahn.  It was during Hahn’s residency that the story of the home became “interesting” to say the least.  If nothing else, Randolph Hahn certainly left his mark on the history of Spokane.

Hahn began his professional life as a painter and barber.  Around 1885, Hahn married Annie Tico. The 1910 census lists Hahn, his wife, and five children living in a rented home at 613 Washington Street in Spokane.  Hahn’s occupation is listed as “x-ray specialist.”  However, by the 1920 census, 53-year-old Hahn is now shown as married to 21-year-old Sylvia Fly, with no mention of Annie or Hahn’s children.  Moving up in status, the census lists Hahn as a physician engaged in private practice.

Without ever having spent a day in medical school, Hahn began amassing his own fortune.  “Doctor” Hahn’s specialty involved electro-therapy as a purported cure for a variety of ailments, along with a side business performing illegal abortions for wealthy clients.  Part of the $50,000 in improvements he made after purchasing the mansion from Whitlock reportedly included the addition of secret passages to help maintain the anonymity of his clients, as well as gutters carved into the floor of the basement to aid draining blood from his operating room following one of his “procedures.”

Living in the Great Gatsby-like world he created, Hahn earned a reputation as an eccentric and a partier.  Reports from the time describe him as always appearing well-dressed in the finest suits, but clad in slippers.  Even during prohibition, the Hahn residence was well known for wild, alcohol-fueled parties.  During one of his parties, a drunk Hahn apparently drove his car into the swimming pool.  Much to the chagrin of his neighbors, he also developed an interest in radio, hanging speakers around his home playing loud music at all hours of the day until a court-order forced him to stop.  Given Hahn’s guest list of the rich and famous of Spokane at the time, it seems the police generally turned a blind-eye towards his antics.

His relationship with Sylvia proved tumultuous, with witnesses often reporting heated arguments, including one in which Hahn apparently suffered broken ribs.  The couple even divorced for a time, but later remarried as evidenced by a marriage certificate from June 8, 1933.  The turbulent relationship came to an ultimate conclusion on May 2, 1940.  Following a particularly violent row, Sylvia was discovered dead in her bedroom with a bullet wound to her head.  Despite the official ruling of suicide, multiple other bullet holes were discovered in the bedroom wall.  Hahn claimed these resulted from his bouts of indoor target practice – and the officials accepted his story.

Hahn’s wild, party-filled lifestyle continued for a few years after Sylvia’s death – along with Hahn’s illegal abortion clinic.  Unfortunately for Hahn, one of his “patients,” a young woman from Mullan, Idaho, died on his operating table while undergoing an illegal abortion.  Although he’d escaped similar charges in the past, this time he wasn’t so lucky.  In 1945, a jury convicted Hahn of manslaughter.  He received a $1000 fine and probation.  However, the conviction destroyed his reputation and ended his “medical” career, forcing Hahn to sell his mansion and move into a rooming house, the New Madison Apartments, in downtown Spokane – a far cry from his former opulent lifestyle.  Hahn met his fate on August 6, 1946, when an attacker plunged a bayonet through Hahn’s heart.  A traveling hearing aid salesman, Delbert Visger, eventually confessed to the murder, claiming robbery as a motive.  Yet, rumors persisted that it was actually revenge for a botched procedure carried out on the man’s wife by Hahn years prior.

Given the history, not surprisingly rumors of hauntings of the Hahn Mansion persist to the present day.  Over the years, witnesses have claimed to hear sounds of crowds partying, loud arguments, shrieks from Hahn’s former patients, gunshots, and even the figure of a woman who appears on the staircase.  All, of course, taking place when only the witnesses were present in the home.  Since the home is once again an elegant private residence, it seems the current owners alone know if such activity is still (or ever was) taking place…

[©2018 All rights reserved.  This copyrighted material may not be reposted or reproduced in any form without permission.]

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Ghosts of the White Eagle Saloon

Posted in Commentary, History, Investigations, Locations with tags , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2016 by S. P.
White Eagle

White Eagle Saloon (Photo: McMenamins)

Located in one of the oldest sections of Portland, Oregon, close to the docks and railyards, the neighborhood around the White Eagle Saloon has held a reputation as rather “rough and ready” for most of its history. As the decades progressed, many of the older buildings around the White Eagle found themselves demolished and the area becoming increasingly industrial. However, in keeping with its tough reputation, the White Eagle soldiered on, continually operating as a bar, but also at times alternately as a brothel, cheap hotel, and rooming house. The building itself is two-story brick, about thirty feet wide, seventy feet long, and forty feet tall. The White Eagle is currently a “hip” corporate-owned saloon hosting live music on the main floor and a small historic hotel on the second floor. Along with continuing to host spirits of the alcohol kind, the White Eagle also, apparently, continues to play host to a number of spirits from beyond the grave.

Ghostly manifestations include disembodied voices and mysterious apparitions. Previous owners and employees reported hearing a woman crying on the second floor, only to find it completely deserted upon investigation. In connection with this voice, there are also reports of a vaguely human, teardrop-like form appearing in one of the second floor windows. Additionally, witnesses have reported hearing voices and people walking around in the main floor bar area while working alone in the basement after closing. One unusual report involves a toilet in the men’s room. Witnesses claim to hear in the quiet after closing footsteps leading to the men’s room, the men’s room door open and close, and then the toilet flushing. The only truly distressing report occurred several years ago when a waitress claimed to have been pushed from behind by invisible handles while going down the stairs to the basement. A bartender and doorman who rushed to assist her claim a mop bucket at the top of the stairs came flying towards them. Not surprisingly, the waitress reportedly quit her employment the following day.

The White Eagle certainly has a reputation as a tough and shady joint. The first bar at the location, B. Soboleski and Company Saloon, open in 1905 in a 1880s wood frame building. The present brick building opened in 1914 with a change in ownership and name to the Hryszko Brothers Saloon. During its heyday, the area teemed with saloons filled with dockworkers, rail workers, sailors, and prostitutes. The neighborhood itself served as a melting pot of Chinese, Russians, Germans, Slavs, and Poles. Many saloons in the area, including the Hryszko Brothers Saloon, were rumored to have tunnels leading directly to the wharfs used to shanghai sailors. Reputedly, prostitutes lured unwary drunks to the basements of the establishments with a promise of fun, where waiting thugs rendered the man unconscious, robbed him, and then used the tunnels to dump him on the streets (if he was lucky) or sell him to sea captains in need of crew (if he was especially unlucky). According to legend, the “shanghai tunnel” at the White Eagle was filled-in during the 1910s. However, the Hryszko brothers’ establishment held a reputation for gambling and prostitution. Even after Oregon Prohibition in 1917 forced a name change to the Hryszko Brothers Soft Drink Emporium, old-timers claimed illegal activity and alcohol continued to flow freely.

In 1938, another name change brought the Hryszko Brothers Restaurant and Beer Parlor and an improved reputation. During World War II the bar became known as the Blue Eagle Cafe and business boomed with workers from the nearby shipbuilding yards. A further change in 1941 ushered in the current name: the White Eagle Cafe and Saloon – reportedly a nod to the white eagle on an early Polish flag. Never considered a great neighborhood, the area around the White Eagle slipped into economic decline during the 1960s, with the White Eagle changing hands from the Hryszkos family to Tony Ferrone and becoming known as a rowdy “biker bar.” Things changed in 1978 when a tool and die maker named Chuck Hughes fulfilled his dream of owning a bar by purchasing and “cleaning up” the White Eagle. He continued to run the White Eagle for many years until it finally passed into current ownership by the McMenamin’s company in 1998.

There are certainly spirits of one kind or another still holding court at the White Eagle. Whether only of the liquid kind or also of an otherworldly nature is left to the decision (and imagination) of the reader…

[©2016 All rights reserved.  This copyrighted material may not be reposted or reproduced in any form without permission.]

He’s Baaack!

Posted in Commentary, News with tags , , , , , , on August 4, 2013 by S. P.
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Image: Wikimedia Commons

After a brief hiatus to deal with a family medical situation, The Ghost Writer has returned! In addition to more regular postings on here, expect to see some other things coming your way from The Ghost Writer. Thank you for your continued loyalty and support. Please help me build this site and my facebook page by inviting your friends to join the adventure through following this blog and “liking” my facebook page. Thanks again!

The Ghost and the Saint

Posted in History, Religion with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 12, 2012 by S. P.

St. John Bosco (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Not only does Christianity acknowledge the existence of the spirit world, even great saints sometimes experience encounters with “ghosts.” One such saint was John Bosco (1815 – 1888). While a young man, Bosco made an agreement with his friend Comollo that whichever of them died first would give the other some sign as to the state of his soul. As it happened, Comollo’s death came first, on April 2, 1839. The next evening, following the funeral of his friend, Bosco sat sleepless on his bed in the dorm room he shared with twenty other seminarians. At this point, we take up the story in Bosco’s own words:

“Midnight struck and I then heard a dull rolling sound from the end of the passage, which grew ever more clear, loud and deep, the nearer it came. It sounded as though a heavy dray were being drawn by many horses, like a railway train, almost like the discharge of a cannon…While the noise came nearer the dormitory, the walls, ceiling and floor of the passage re-echoed and trembled behind it…The students in the dormitory awoke, but none of them spoke…Then the door opened violently of its own accord without anybody seeing anything except a dim light of changing colour that seemed to control the sound…Then a voice was clearly heard, ‘Bosco, Bosco, Bosco, I am saved.’… The seminarists leapt out of bed and fled without knowing where to go. Some gathered in a corner of the dormitory and sought to inspire each other with courage, others crowded around the prefect, Don Giuseppe Fiorito di Rivolo; thus they passed the night and waited anxiously for the coming of day. All had heard the noise and some of them the voice without gathering the meaning of the words. I sat upon my bed and told my comrades that they had no cause for alarm. I had clearly understood the words; they were ‘I am saved.’ Some had also understood them clearly as I had done, and for a long time afterwards there was no other subject of conversation in the seminary.”[1]

[1] As quoted in: Abbot Alois Wiesinger, Occult Phenomena in the Light of Theology (London: Burns and Oates, 1957) 228-229.

There’ll be Scary Ghost Stories…

Posted in History, Locations with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 11, 2011 by S. P.

Railroad Convict Labor (Image: http://www.learnnc.org)

There’ll be scary ghost stories

And tales of the glories of

Christmases long, long ago.

Gentle readers, in the “spirit” of the Season, I present my humble contribution of a “scary ghost story.” Turn down the lights, curl up with your computer in that big comfy chair by the fire and enjoy. Don’t worry, that noise outside is just the wind, or Santa, probably…

The metallic tink of a chorus of pick axes striking rock filled the crisp air like a bizarre industrial age symphony. In the best of conditions building a railroad was hard work. In rough terrain it was hell. This was rough terrain. Had it not been for the winter cold, the laborers would have sworn they were in hell.

In 1883, the directors of the Western North Carolina Railroad were determined to build a line linking Bryson City and points west with Dillsboro and the outside world. They’d be damned if trifling things like mountains or even the lives of workers would stand in their way, especially in the case of the men working to complete the Cowee Tunnel near Dillsboro, North Carolina.

These were no ordinary railroad workers. The area was considered so dangerous, few men signed up for the job. The state of North Carolina came to the aid of the railroad by supplying prison convicts, mostly black, for labor.

The prisoners and their guards camped across the Tuckaseegee River near a hairpin bend which Cowee Tunnel was being built to bypass. Each day groups of twenty prisoners were shackled together in ankle irons and ferried across the river in rafts under the watchful eye of a guard.

On that cold fateful winter morning in 1883, tragedy struck. The river was running high and the current swift that morning. Before they even realized what was happening, the angry river capsized one of the rafts and tossed twenty prisoners and their guard into its frigid waters. Weighed down by the heavy chains, nineteen of the prisoners met a horrific death by drowning. Only one prisoner, Anderson Drake, managed to free himself and rescue the guard, Fleet Foster.

Unfortunately, Drake, unwilling or unable to part with his criminal ways, stole Foster’s wallet during the rescue. What should have been a heroic triumph became brutal punishment when the wallet turned up at the bottom of Drake’s duffel bag. The guards whipped Drake and sent him back to work on the tunnel.

The bodies of the nineteen less fortunate convicts were pulled from the river then hastily buried in unmarked graves on the hillside near the mouth of the tunnel. Since no one much cared about the fate of a few prisoners, their unmarked graves were quickly forgotten as work immediately resumed on the tunnel. Even today, the exact location of the graves remains uncertain.

What seems not so uncertain is the restlessness of their spirits. From shortly after the time of the mishap itself to the present, witness after witness near Cowee Tunnel report hearing unexplained sounds of splashing water, clinking chains and axes, and perhaps most disturbing of all, loud, mournful, pitiful wails of anguish. Do the dead still haunt Cowee Tunnel, seeking to remind us of the presence of their nearby, but neglected, graves?

If you’re brave enough to find out for yourself, take a ride on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. Their excursion train runs from Bryson City to Dillsboro, passing through the infamous Cowee Tunnel. Just to be safe, you might want to keep the windows of your carriage closed…

Merry Christmas and have a spook-tacular holiday!

Sources:

Baldwin, Juanitta. Smoky Mountain Ghostlore. Virginia Beach, VA: Suntop Press, 2005.

Osment, Timothy N. “Railroads in Western North Carolina.” Learn NC, no date. http://www.learnnc.org/lp/editions/nchist-newsouth/5503.

Taylor, Troy. Down in the Darkness: The Shadowy History of America’s Haunted Mines, Tunnels and Caverns. Alton, IL: Whitechapel Productions Press, 2003.

©2011 S P Schultz, All Rights Reserved

PIA Conference Presentation – On the Nature of Ghosts

Posted in Commentary, Events, History, Investigations, News, Poltergeists, Religion with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2011 by S. P.

White Noise Paranormal Network

Thanks to White Noise Paranormal Network, you can click on the link below to view my presentation, On the Nature of Ghosts, from the 2011 PIA Conference:

http://justin.tv/whitenoise02/b/291569213

You can also access videos of the other presentations through this link:

http://www.ghostshow.net/pia/

5th Annual PIA Conference a Success

Posted in Events with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2011 by S. P.

2011 PIA Conference

The fifth annual Paranormal Information Association Conference came to a successful conclusion this past Sunday in Sebring, Florida. The PIA, which began life as the Florida Ghost Gathering, aims to bring together researchers of anomalous phenomena from around the state in order to share ideas, network, and build friendships. Unlike other conferences which largely cater to “fans” of “paranormal” television, the PIA Conference is open only to members of organized research and investigation groups. Another key feature of the PIA Conferences is the fact they are held “at cost” – everyone, including speakers, pays a modest registration fee and no one makes money off the conference. No, you won’t hear the latest “celebrity” speaking about the latest “hit” television show. Instead, you will encounter people with decades of actual field experience in anomalous phenomena research eager to share ideas and information with fellow colleagues. Also, unlike other conferences, the PIA Conference is not limited to merely the discussion of “ghosts,” but includes all areas of anomalous phenomena research including cryptozoology and UFOs/UAPs.

This year’s gathering was held at the historic Kenilworth Lodge in Sebring, Florida. The lodge opened in 1916 and has seen its share of well-known guests, including playing host to a meeting of US governors in 1924. The Kenilworth served as the perfect backdrop for the PIA Conference. The organizers of the PIA Conference hope to establish good relationships with a few historic hotels around the state in order to set-up something of a “rotation” for future PIA gatherings.

The event featured an excellent line-up of speakers on a wide variety of topics. Along with a variety of presentations, another hallmark of PIA Conferences are social activities to encourage networking and the building of relationships and friendships among various teams and investigators. This year’s event delivered in this aspect as well with all of Saturday evening devoted to social activities.

PIA’s organizers understand that the “turf wars” and personality conflicts which seem to dominate the field are not helpful. Their events are dedicated to breaking down those barriers by helping everyone understand we’re all working towards the same goal and we can more easily reach it by working together rather than by working against each other.

If you’ve already attended a PIA Conference, I’m sure you need no further motivation to keep attending. If you haven’t attended, I highly encourage you to do so – I strongly suspect it will only take one time to make you a regular!

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