After another odd, unexplained event in Natalie Crists’ house, her and Christopher Balzano decided to look into what might be going on.
The Trippers decide to take a break from the folklore of hauntings to introduce Natalie to the world of Ouija. The two discuss what’s been going on in the house and some of the traditional practices and folklore surrounding the spirit board.
What do Tom Petty, and dead janitor, and Ted Bundy have to do with each other…and what about that ghost in the bikini?
With the summer quickly approaching, it is time to start looking at far, far away Florida locations to include in Tripping on Legends Summer 2019 Road Trip. There may be no better place to look than with institutes of higher learning across the Sunshine State, starting with the two biggies. Florida Schools are haunted.
Natalie Crist and Christopher Balzano take a look at some of the famous hauntings and urban legends coming out of Florida State University and the University of Florida, including ones involving love, suicide, lightening, Ted Bundy, and Tom Petty.
Towers are meant to be monuments, and monuments are designed
to draw the attention of all who see them.
They mark great people or are meant to commemorate a moment in time
people feel is worthy to be relived and remembered. Standing like centennials, they are lightning
rods for ceremonies, meetings, and even dates.
They are lightning rods for legends.
Hulley Tower may be standing in the front of the Stetson
University campus in Deland, Florida, but for the students there it is the
center of the school. Once over
116-feet, it has been the home to several legends over the years, but not all
of them are haunted. For example, it
used to be said that students would go to the tower before a big test and rub
the brick hoping for good luck. If it
was a particularly tough exam, students were said to ask the two people interned
inside the tower for help. It’s also
said to be the meeting place of a secret, exclusive society at the college, but
no one has ever been able to get a firm handle on the real story.
One of the creepiest legends about the tower, and the one
that brought us to the campus, was the story of Susanna Brown. She was said to be the daughter of a Baptist
minister from Iowa. She attended Stetson
in the early 1890s as a finishing school, but in her first semester she fell in
love with her English professor. The two
quickly began to fall for each other, and over the course of the year they
would meet at Hulley Tower late at night to talk and spend time together. The affair continued through the summer, but
things took a turn in the fall semester.
While they were kissing behind the tower late one night, they were
spotted by a fellow staff member. He went
to administration, and by the next afternoon Susanna was thrown out of school
and her professor fired. She was destroyed. She would have to go back home dishonored and
without the man she had fallen in love with.
She cleaned out her room, making sure to take a ribbon her love had
given her and a poem he had written her.
She snuck off to Hulley Tower and jumped from the top after telling the
world that she would love her banished professor forever. To this day her voice is heard declaring her
passion at night during the fall. Her
ghost is also caught climbing the tower stairs and seen jumping from the top.
It’s the kind of story you’ve heard before. At least you’ve heard something like it whenever you’re from. The legend was made popular in Dusty Smith’s Haunted Deland and the Ghosts of East Valusa County. The only trouble is, it never happened. Unlike other bits of folklore or legends, this one seems to be the creation of the author herself, although it is unclear if she was told the story by another source. It falls apart on a basic level, although all who hear it want it to be true. Brown is said to have attended the college and committed suicide in 1892 or 1893. Hulley Tower was built by the second president of the university, Lincoln Hulley, who served Stetson between 1904 and 1934, 12 years after the suicide.
He and his wife Eloise donated the building to the university, mainly as a source for the 11-bells she loved that rang out over the campus, and both are laid to rest in the mausoleum at the base of the tower. Lincoln Hulley died right before it was completed in 1934, and the bells continued to play there for decades after Eloise had died as well. There is no way Brown could have killed herself from throwing herself off a tower that didn’t exist.
So maybe the suicide happened somewhere else on campus and the tower, being a touchstone for things at Stetson, became the new site of the death. According to Kelly Larson, archivist at the college, there have been no suicides on campus. When Natalie and I went there we spent the day diving into the records of the school, and we could find no death that matched Brown’s or any reference to her attendance or expulsion from the school. Furthermore, the picture published in Smith’s book identified a man as the professor who was having the affair. In fact, that man acted as an interim president for the college a few decades after the picture was taken. He was not quietly thrown out or even a professor at the school.
The real haunting at the tower is actually much more
romantic. Lincoln and Eloise are said to
still walk the grounds near the tower in the early morning hours. Although they died at different times, they
have found each other in death and return to the place they loved in life. At times they are said to be seen with
walking a dog, although it is more commonly said to be Lincoln Hulley walking
the dog alone. It is more likely this is
another potential ghost who has been connected to Hulley because of the tower
and the popularity of the love story.
This legend is repeated on campus and retold by people who attended the
school. There are written references to
it in the paper, and most people who went to school have seen the couple or
know someone who has. There have also
been reports of the bells sounding even though no one is ringing them, an
amazing feat considering they are not even housed in the tower anymore.
This is the legend we wanted to trip. Not only did it fit in perfectly with our Haunted Love Project, it was also something we could do on campus without specific permission or without breaking the law. One of the reasons the bells are no longer in the tower is that it is not really there anymore. In 2005, 94 feet were taken down due to safety reasons, and the bells were dispersed throughout the campus. The bodies of the couple are still at the base, their coffins visible through the windows, but the building is locked and there is no reason for staff to go inside.
We had woken up at midnight to try and capture the Oviedo Lights and returned to the campus at 5 o’clock AM. The grounds were dead but lit up by the yellow street lights of the campus. After walking the grounds in front of Hulley, we went to the building itself to try and talk to whomever might take the early morning walks. The feeling was different than it had been when we had visited earlier in the day, cooler but with an odd electricity in the air.
Then it happened. As we focused on the yard behind the tower, something dramatically changed. As we stood watching the main buildings, the supposedly haunted Holler Fountain and Elizabeth Hall, we were suddenly in a bubble. There was no air, no sound, as we watched several dark figures move across the grass, weaving in between the trees. These were not like the shadowy figures we had seen during the Ghostly Pants legend trip or the Mini-Lights. These were almost like the negatives of a photograph like I would later see at Arbuckle Bridge. There was nothing malevolent about them, but rather it felt like we were watching a moment that had happened long ago but inversed somehow.
And then after a few moments, it was over.
The air was humid again, and the noise of the early morning
birds came back. Both of us looked at
each other at the same moment and felt we had been brought back to the real
world. It was not the couple we had
seen, or maybe it had been in some way.
We had perhaps viewed the impression of students going to class, year
after year and decade after decade, leaving an impression on the environment
around them. We got back in the car,
knowing there would be nothing else that would happen, and drove off.
Legends give birth to other legends. We need them, and we need them to be ours, so
we take the best parts, the ones that really speak to us, and add details that
make them our own. Every generation
borrows the greatest hits from the one before until the original story, the
truth of the details, is lost. Not that
it matters much. A great story is always
better than the truth and always better when you yourself can be part of
it. Hulley Tower inspires that kind of
borrowing. Still looming large on the
campus of Stetson despite its new, small stature, it continues to be the kind
of place students come to feel the electricity at the school and be part of
something bigger than themselves, like a living yearbook that isn’t contained
to one year. It would seem some keep
coming back for the bells even after they die.
We’re still knee deep in the #hauntedlove project, so we’re especially looking for ghost stories with a love twist.
Last week Tripping on Legends got the board back out. It has been years since I had used one, and maybe a decade since I had seriously used one to try and communicate with the dead. Natalie, on the other hand, had not used one at all.
Before we sat down and tried to talk to whatever was making itself known in her house, I felt I needed to give her some basics on the board. This sparked my memory of the experiences I had early one looking into the paranormal and some of the stories I had collected. Thought it might be time to dust some of them off to share with people again.
I was never really close to Kelly. I actually only knew her in passing and I would never have spoken to her. She was the head cheerleader and three years older than I was. When she graduated from high school she came back and became the assistant cheerleading coach and I would see her in the gym during practice or on the campus talking to old teachers. She was, from afar, someone who enjoyed life and gave back to the community she had gotten from.
While using the board with some friends, I was asked by a spirit to be given permission to come into the room. When I did, it said it knew me from high school. I asked her name and the spirit asked me to open up my freshman yearbook to page 17. It was the seniors. The pointer spelled out Kelly’s name, and she was the fourth picture in the first row on the page. I thought maybe it was a spirit just looking over my shoulder picking out a name a random until I got back together with an old girlfriend. She had been a cheerleader and once she asked me if I knew whether her old cheerleading coach, Kelly, had died in a car accident.
When people tell me stories of unusual things that have happened when they have used the Ouija board, I always ask the same question: Where did you get it? Most of the time the answer is a confused look up as they painfully search their past and then a shrug of the shoulders. I understand that. Ouija boards seem to be the last true artifact handed down from generation to generation. Anyone who has looked for on at their local store can tell you to look in the board game aisle of the toy store to find your new glow-in-the-dark board. You can find one at your local occult dealer, but the casual user won’t go to one except near Halloween. Instead, boards are found in the attic or basement of their parent’s or grandparent’s house. They are found where the boxes and dust of the house have collected, under a quilt, on top of old books, or next to the old game of Operation with the funny bone long lost.
We take them out and breathe life into them, sometimes asking the people who use to use the board about it, but more often not knowing the history.
Sarah know the history of her board, and the colorful path it took to her is as interesting as the events she witnessed with it. The board was made in the 1930’s. It belonged to her great aunt who lived on a farm with her brother and sister, Sarah’s aunt. There was a fire in the barn where she kept the board, but it was untouched although most of the other things in the barn where lost. When Sarah’s aunt left the farm she took the board with her, and years later it ended up with Sarah’s grandmother who didn’t use it. Sarah found it while cleaning her grandmother’s house and has used it since.
Sarah brought the board to a friend’s house who thought she lived in a haunted house. They talked to a while to “nice” spirits before something else spoke up. It spelled out, “DIE DIE DIE” and the temperature in the room dropped. They tried to move the plancette to Goodbye, but it wouldn’t move. The lights started to go on and off and furniture began to move. Sarah’s friend felt cold hands on her neck and began to scream. Sarah threw the board against the wall and everything stopped.
Sarah’s had other occurrences while using the board, usually harmless or amusing like the time they talked to Marie Antoinette who spelled out, “I want your head,” and then had a book fall on her friend’s neck, but the experience at her friend’s house has left her shaken. She has blessed the board, but is still hesitant to use it.
I’ve had some bad experiences with the board as well. Some have been discouraging and a waste of time, which I consider negative, but one was all out dangerous.
I had been dating a girl my freshman year of college who practiced Wicca, who I shall call Cindy. My roommates and I had wanted to use the board and asked her if she had any knowledge we didn’t. She promised to use some of what she knew to see if we could get anything stronger. I should start out by saying my dorm was the old Charlesgate Hotel, which is now apartments or condo or something. It is considered one of the most haunted buildings in Boston. I saw and experience several occurrences there, but this one was the most intense.
Cindy formed a circle using rope and invited each of us into it. As we entered she blessed us and had us repeat something I don’t remember. She also anointed us with a salt water solution she said it was for protection. When we were all in the circle she closed it and said another prayer. She then cleaned the board with more salt water, the whole time speaking softly under her breath.
We started to use the board and made contact with several spirits. Then a particularly strong spirit came on the board that I shall call Aza. I don’t remember the spirit’s real name or I might use it, although from what I heard I might chose a different name anyway. All I do remember was it had a lot of A’s, Z’s and B’s. After talking to us for a while, Aza told us she was a woman and that she was a witch from three hundred years ago. She surprised us by knowing a lot about us and some very personal things no one in the room would know about the others. She then said she wanted to channel.
Cindy was dead set against it and told us to get off the board and wash it. I was young and intrigued by it. I had never tried to channel a spirit before, and although I didn’t know the first thing about it, I was into doing something new. Cindy went through it step by step. All it really consisted on was deep breathing and opening myself up to Aza coming in. I was unsure what would happen to me, and Cindy didn’t know for sure. Aza might talk through me or just move my hands directly to the letters she wanted.
I started to feel a dull pain in my back and kept crouching over. I was getting really tired, and before I knew what happened, I was lying down. My hands began to rise off the floor, and when I tried to stop them I realized I no longer had control over my arms. I tried to sit up but couldn’t. I was paralyzed, but my hands kept moving. They started going for my neck, and my friends just watched, not knowing what was happening. As they tightened around my throat, my voice came back and I screamed for help. My friends had to pray my own hands from my throat. The whole time I could talk and tell them what was going on, but I couldn’t control my body. I fought against them, kicking and thrashing my arms to break their hold, and I was finally restrained because one of my friends was over two hundred and fifty pounds.
Cindy eventually started yelling at Aza to get out of me and saying prayers over me. Later she told me something about a spirit being able to take over a living person if they caused the physical death of that person, something that has been echoed by a few people I have talked to, but which other people tell me is not true. Cindy was finally able to get the spirit to leave by standing me up and propping me in front of a mirror. Aza, as it turn out, did not really want to be inside of a man.
A few months later a high school friend of mine who was there that night called me. He told me he remembered the full name of the spirit and had asked a friend of his who was into the occult and a practicing “wizard”. The man told him to never say the word out loud again. It seems we had made contact with a non-living spirit, something like a demon. He said that although it was probably not the demon herself, people who devoted their lives to her often took her name in ceremonies and that they were often practitioners of some pretty powerful black magic.
A group of five of us had gone on an investigation that had proven somewhat successful. Although we had gotten no solid proof, there had been a history at the sight witnessed by one of us and I believe I made contact with something. Nevertheless, the lack of seeing a concrete apparition that night had left us a bit teased. We went back to Matt’s house and decided to use the board to try and get something.
It was pretty casual, and two people had fallen asleep by the time we got settled in. After a few spirits had talked to us, we got a man who claimed his name was Jay. Jay was very angry, and said he had been in the apartment for a few weeks because he liked watching Matt and his girlfriend. He was able to give a few details about things they had done over the past few days, and with each right answer, Matt’s jaw got closer to the floor. When talking about Matt and his girlfriend, Jay’s movements around the board were smooth and even. As soon as he started to talk about himself he got aggitated and moved quickly. He said he was going to stay and there was nothing we could do.
I had recently read in a book about an angry spirit that appeared to a woman who eventually brought in an investigator and a physic. In the story the physic had asked the spirit to ask for help from a friend or relative from the other side. He had said he was so mean in life he didn’t think anyone would help him. Someone eventually came and took him away. I was drawn to the story by a line the ghost said upon leaving; “She was the only one that could see me.”
I asked Jay to call to someone to help him. He said he didn’t like anyone and no one liked him. That was why he had killed himself. I asked about family and he got abusive to Matt, Jenna and I. I tried to calm him down and asked him to try at least. He told me someone was now with him. I asked him to reach out to that person, who he then said was his father.
Now, I try to be as skeptical as I can. If I allow my imagination to get the better of me, I can invent about anything. It is easy to say I just imposed a story I had read onto a situation. I can see that, but there was an added, uplifting aspect to the session. Jay never said good-bye. When I asked him to talk to his father, he said okay and the pointer stopped. I don’t just mean it stopped moving, it stopped in mid-spell. I was overwhelmed by a feeling that what had just happened was real, and I felt I had touched the spiritual side of my searches.
The following account was originally published at Massachusetts Paranormal Crossroads…
College dorms have long been considered ideal locations for paranormal happenings.
Whether it is young people dealing with being adults for the first time or the history behind the walls, every college seems to have at least one famous haunting that is connected with it. Massachusetts, with more colleges per square mile than any other state, cultivates its share of college ghost stories and adult who remember the spirits they shared their rooms with.
Becker College opened as an academy in 1784 in Leicester, Massachusetts. One hundred years later E.C.A. Becker began his college in Worcester, and in 1974 the two colleges merged to create one college with two campuses. More than a decade before the merger the Worcester campus bought Miller Hall and inherited something more than the tradition and history inside its walls.
Miller Hall was built in 1891 as a two family house. The property switched hands for the next fifty years. It most famous residents were the wife and daughter of Judge Webster Thayer who lived there after a bomb destroyed their house in 1937 by communist sympathizers who were angered at Thayer’s decision in the Sacco-Vanzetti case. Until 1937 the house remained much like it was when it was built by Daniel Bates. In that year
Harlan Pierpont bought the house and began reconstruction, changing the outside of the house and installing modern plumbing and heating.
Whether it was these changes or the energy brought on by the new residents, the dorm has now become known to the people on campus and in the surrounding areas as one of the most haunted spots in Worcester. It now acts as a Co-ed dorm for 23 students and at least on ghost.
Over the years students have dealt with unseasonable temperature changes in certain areas, voices coming from the walls and the locking and unlocking of doors. Due to modifications in the layout of the rooms, some doors lead to nowhere or are always locked. Although there is nothing behind these doors, voices and banging are often heard. At least twice, people said they had seen a figure in their room or unexplained lights.
Jennifer remembers one night in particular. She heard banging from inside one of her locked closets. She had often experienced chills in her room and the feeling of being watched, as well as a feeling of foreboding in her own closet, but that experience left her truly scared. When she talked to others she found they had experienced similar occurrences. One room had their fan begin spinning so fast it seemed it was going to come out of the wall. They then heard something being dragged across the ceiling above them. They talked to the people that lived above them, but the other students confirmed they had been asleep at the time. Another night Jennifer heard moaning in the halls. The next morning, when the students woke up, trash was thrown about the hall.
All the students claimed they had not done it and the floor was isolated by fire doors.
One of the most disturbing incidents involved another girl in Miller Hall. She woke up to find herself paralyzed and something holding her down. This kind of haunting is not unusual and is often explained away scientifically. For a long time there has been the legend of the Old Hag who would hold you down at night and drain your energy. What was unique about this experience was that the young lady also felt her eyes being held shut, a physical effect not heard often if at all. When she was finally able to open her eyes, her whole room, darkened when she had gone to bed, was filled with a brilliant white light.
There are no specific tragedies linked to the house to give a reason for the hauntings at Miller Hall. There seems to be different types of hauntings, from unexplained noises to visual hauntings and they seemed to not be confined to a certain area or room. Whatever lurks in the halls of Becker Colleges dorm seems to truly be unexplained.