Haunted houses and possessed people are standard camp fire ghost story fare. But if a spirit can attach itself to a building or a patch of ground such as an old battlefield, it makes sense that they’d also be able to attach themselves to an inanimate object. Down through the ages there have been many items that people have claimed are cursed, haunted or just plain possessed. From a creepy walking cane to a ring nobody dare wear, here are ten items that will give you the creeps.
Would you pay $65,000 for a metal walking cane? Especially a haunted one? The ‘Ghost Cane’ was put on eBay by Mary Anderson, a woman from Indiana who hoped the sale would ease the fears of her 6-year-old son who had come to believe that his grandfather’s ghost roamed the family home. The cane reached 132 bids on eBay and was only accepted on the online bidding site, which usually rejects ‘intangible items such as spirits or souls’ because Miss Anderson made it clear she was only selling the cane so that her son would no longer freak out.
However, she also asked the winning bidder to write a letter to her son telling him that the cane and the ghost were doing just fine. The ‘Ghost Cane’s’ new home is the Golden Palace casino in Antigua where it will take place of pride alongside a grilled cheese sandwich. But not just any grilled cheese sandwich, this sandwich bears the face of the Virgin Mary and was bought on eBay for a cool $28,000.
150 years ago Jacob Cooley ordered his African American slave Hosea to build a chest for his first child. Hosea set to work, crafting a wooden chest of some remark. For some unknown reason his master was displeased with his efforts and beat his slave to a pulp, killing him. Cooley’s other slaves vowed to avenge the death of their friend and sprinkled the dried blood of an owl in the chest and had a ‘conjure man’ curse the chest. As if by magic, Cooley’s first born died in infancy and over the forthcoming years a total of seventeen deaths were attributed to the chest. Eventually the curse was lifted by a ‘conjure woman’. The chest can be found in the Kentucky History Museum in Frankfort.
Rudolph Valentino (1895-1926) was considered one of Hollywood’s greatest silent movie stars. Valentino died of a perforated ulcer at the age of only thirty-one. Some blame his early demise on a ring he purchased from a jeweler in 1920. The ring had a gem called the tiger’s eye embedded in it. The legend goes that Valentino showed the ring to a close friend immediately after he bought it and his friend said he saw a vision of a pale and deathly Valentino. Regardless of what his friend did or did not see, Valentino’s next few major pictures flopped at the box office and he died within six years. But Valentino wasn’t the ring’s only victim: his lover Pola Negri became gravely ill after wearing the ring, so much so that her career had to be put on the back burner for years and it never fully recovered; Russ Colombo, the actor hired to play Valentino in the biopic of his life wore the ring and was killed in a shooting accident some days later; and the gangster Joe Casino bought the ring and refused to wear it until the curse had faded. After several years he finally put the ring on—and was dead within a week due to a motoring accident. The list goes on… But since the 1960s the ring’s whereabouts have remained unknown. Perhaps it’s on your finger, dear reader?
The Crying Boy is a mass-produced print of a Bruno Amadio painting which proved popular throughout the 1950s and beyond, particularly in the British Isles. However, the painting attracted some media attention in the 1980s when UK tabloid The Sun ran a story saying that a Yorkshire fire-fighter claimed to have been at the scene of several house fires where the painting had been the only household item left unscathed. He also said that no fire-fighter would dare to have the painting in their home for fear of inciting a house fire.
The tabloids went wild with the story, interviewing several family members who had suffered fires and who had owned the painting. Within six months The Sun had started a cursed painting campaign telling its readers to pass the painting to someone else, hang the boy painting next to a girl painting or send the print to the newspaper who would perform a mass bonfire burning—all of which would lift the dreaded curse. After a BBC investigation into the paintings it was revealed that they were covered in a fire repellent varnish. Was this the reason for their unblemished record with fires or were their more sinister forces at work?
The Possessed Bunk Beds
The case of the Haunted Bunk beds was so famous that the tale found it’s way on to the hit TV show Unsolved Mysteries. In February 1987 in Horicon, Wisconsin, Alan and Debby Tallman brought home a bunk bed from a second hand shop, and like you do, they put it down in the basement. In May later that year, the couple moved the beds upstairs… and nine months of hell ensued and not just a bad back from shoddy bed building. From the very first night the bunks were in their new room things quickly escalated from wacky to just plain creepy.
First of all, the children of the house became ill, then a radio would jump from station to station without anyone touching it and to cap things off, the first two children to sleep in the bed said they saw a witch. The Tallmans got a pastor in and things cooled for a while. But when Alan Tallman returned home a few weeks after Christmas in 1988 he heard a voice telling him to ‘come here’. He followed it to the garage where he witnessed a blazing fire. Rushing to grab an extinguisher, Alan returned to the scene only to see the fire had vanished. A few more creepy circumstances later and the Tallmans had had enough—they burned the bunk beds. And would you believe it, just like that, the paranormal activity ended.
Screaming Skull of Burton Agnes Hall
By all accounts the mystery of the screaming skull is one which seems to belong to the British Isles alone. There are several accounts of skulls being removed from homes which result in a series of unexplained events such as poltergeist activity and eye-watering screams. One of the most famous screaming skulls is the one from Burton Agnes Hall in Driffield, East Yorkshire. The Hall was built during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I by Sir Henry Griffiths and his sisters. During the build one of Sir Henry’s sisters, Anne, was stabbed and killed by an unknown assailant. Before she passed on her other sisters promised that her head would be removed from her body and kept in the hall… a bizarre last request if ever there was one.
The sisters, putting the request down to near-death delirium never made good on their promise instead burying her body in a grave, intact. Shortly after the burial groaning could be heard throughout the hall. A little freaked out, the sisters visited the family vault and found their sister’s head had decayed to a skull and was remarkably detached from the body. The sisters took the skull and placed it in the hall where upon the groaning and moaning ceased. Sir Henry and the sisters eventually died and their descendants and new occupants of the hall attempted to remove the skull but each time the skull was removed the building would tremble and portraits would fall from the walls. Finally one of Sir Henry’s descendants agreed to keep the skull in the house but only if it was bricked up behind a wall, where it remains today.
Baleroy Mansion, Pennsylvania was built in 1911. Since it’s construction the building has accrued many artifacts of not only considerable monetary value but historical importance as well. The mansion houses items which once belonged to the Founding Father, Thomas Jefferson for instance. But alongside its palatial and opulent merits, Baleroy Mansion also has some paranormal prestige.
The mansion’s last inhabitant, George Meade Easby, (a descendant of seven signers of the Declaration of Independence) died in 2005 but before his death he claimed to have seen many ghostly goings on all around the house—most notably the ghost of his brother, Steven who died suddenly as a young child, his mother and none other than the ghost of Thomas Jefferson himself. However, the most unsettling tales come from the infamous Blue Room and the ‘Chair of Death’ which can be found there. The chair is a two-hundred-year-old blue upholstered wing chair, which some say once belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte.
But this isn’t the kind of chair you’d want to show off to your neighbors and it’s certainly not the kind of chair you’d want them to sit in either. Several paranormal investigators believe a female ghost haunts the chair and George’s nickname for the spirit found in this particular room would back that claim up: Spectral Amelia. It is said that whenever Amelia is present, a blue mist descends upon the room and that any one who is brave enough to sit in the chair when the spirit is in attendance will die suddenly. To this day four people have pooh-poohed the claim and brazenly sat in the chair. Those very same people perished. So the question is, would you sit in the Chair of Death?
The Haunted Wedding Dress
As the daughter of Elias Baker, the rich iron magnate of Blair County in the 1800s, Anna Baker wanted for nothing. Her father splashed her with jewels and all that money could buy. But as a typical teenager, Anna wanted that which cannot be bought—true love. Something her father would have been happy for her to experience, as long as it was with a man of equal social standing. In true star-crossed lover fashion however, Anna fell for a handsome, low paid iron worker at her father’s blast furnace.
The loving father turned to archetypal angry dad in a heart beat—legend has it that his screams of rage could be heard from miles around. Elias simply didn’t want his little girl running off with someone who wasn’t good enough for her—in his eyes at least. And being the man of the house—and a very opulent house it was—Elias had the final say. But being as stubborn as her father Anna decided that if she was not to marry the man she most wanted to, she would not marry a man at all. She lived a spinster and died a spinster. And she never got to wear the flamboyant wedding dress she’s picked out with her mother. Not in this life at least.
Until recently that very wedding dress was on display at the Blair County Historical Society’s museum in the Baker Mansion, in Anna’s old bedroom no less, in front of a mirror. It was kept in a glass box, where it was said to sway from side to side. Some believe loose floorboards were to blame, others drafts but for those of a paranormal disposition, the answer is simple—Anna, the bride from beyond, dressed for her wedding day for eternity, was adoringly admiring herself in a mirror.
Annabelle the Possessed Doll
Famous investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren took on the case of Annabelle the Haunted Doll in the early 1970s. The antique doll had been bought as a present by her a mother for her daughter, Donna in 1970. Donna was a student at the time, training to be a nurses. She lived in a small apartment with her friend, Angie. The Doll took pride of place on her bed. And then—you guessed it—weird stuff started happening. The Doll seemingly had the ability to move about on its own. Sometimes the girls would come home to find the doll in a different room from where they had left her; even finding her sat crossed legged on the couch with its arms folded.
Some time after this the girls would come home to find hand-written notes written in a crude child’s writing. The message read: ‘Help Us’. Who was writing the notes? And where was the old-looking parchment the messages were written on coming from? But the girls couldn’t analyze for too long because within a few days more strange occurrences happened, namely blood started to appear on the doll, from nowhere. The girls called for a séance, where they were acquainted with a spirit girl called Annabelle Higgins—a seven year girl who had been found murdered on the plot of land the apartment the girls lived in was built on.
Annabelle ‘moved’ into the doll so she could have some female company and once they heard Annabelle’s story the girls agreed that that spirit could stay in the doll and in the apartment… A bad decision—for one of their close friends at least, Lou. Lou had told the girls over and over again to ditch the doll and the dislike was clearly a two-way street. One evening when Lou was in Angie’s bedroom he was attacked by an unseen force. The attack left him with seven claw marks on his chest. Enter, paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren.
After looking into the case, Ed and Lorraine Warren concluded that the doll was not possessed by a spirit girl but by a malevolent spirit who wanted to eventually posses a human host. According to the Warrens, the ‘demonic spirit’ had manipulated and preyed on the girls’ emotional weaknesses, currying favor with them and lying in wait, until eventually it would have tried to possess them. The Warrens removed Annabelle from the apartment and to this day it remains in the Warren Occult Museum in Moodus, Connecticut. Annabelle still moves around on the odd occasion and, it is said, even growls at visitors.
Myrtles Plantation can be found on the outskirts of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Down the years this 200-year-old, 10-acre plantation has served as a family home but these days it’s run as a bed and breakfast—and is a hotspot for paranormal tourists. Every night at 3am a total of 15 ghosts come out to play. Four of these ghosts come from one tragic tale—that of the Woodruff family and a young slave named Chloe.
In 1817, Sara Mathilda inherited the plantation from her father. She moved in with her husband Clark Woodruff and their three children. Clark decided to bring one of his slave with him from his own home—Chloe. One evening, when Clark caught Chloe eavesdropping on one of his private conversations he cut off her ear. From that day on Chloe would wear a green turban to cover up her mutilation. Chloe, to win back the trust of her owner so she would not be sent to toil in the fields, hatched a plan. She made a birthday cake for the Woodruffs’ eldest daughter but spiked it with oleander leaves—a poisonous plant found on the plantation.
The family would become sick and Chloe, knowing the antidote, would be on hand to nurse them back to health and in doing so get back in her master good books—or that was the plan, at least. In actual fact, Chloe got her dosage wrong and Clark’s wife and two of his children died of poisoning. Distraught by her actions, Chloe confessed to the other slaves who panicked, believing they’d be blamed for hiding the culprit, hanged Chloe and threw her lifeless body in the Mississippi River. Creepy already, right? It’s about to get a whole lot creepier.
According to fable there’s an old Southern tradition stating that when a family member dies, all the mirrors in the home must be covered up so that the soul of the deceased will pass on to the next world and not become trapped in a reflection of this world. As was the norm, on the night of the tragic poisonings all the mirrors in the house were covered up—except one. Aside witnessing a ‘dark-skinned’ ghost with a ‘turban’ on her head wondering the plantation, visitors to the bed and breakfast are also shown an ornate mirror inside the home where the souls of the mother and children are said to be trapped.
Some claim to see handprints, others the faces of children but one thing’s for sure, it’s not the mirror you’d want to regularly do your hair in. On a side note, when Clark learned of the fate of his family he surrounded the house with myrtle crepe trees, hence the plantation’s name.