INDEPENDENCE DAY SPECIAL – 7 TRANSATLANTIC TALES OF TERROR!

As 4th July celebrations are well under way and the United States of America celebrates Independence since 1776, I took a look at 7 infamous creepy connections betweeen the USA, Ireland and Britain. Each starts or ends in America and is case is more chilling than the next!

Typhoid Mary, New York

Typhoid Mary

Mary Mallon was born in Cookstown, County Tyrone in 1869 and left to begin a new life in America at the age of 15. With a natural talent for cooking, she began to take up placements in wealthy homes as a cook – and that’s when her reign of terror began.

Based in New York, from 1901, Mary left a trail of sick and dead as she moved from post to post.  The cook was impossible to trace, as she would leave as soon as typhoid took hold. Mary eventually changed her name to hide from the authorities, as she continued to spread the disease and avoid detection.

Typhoid Mary was quarantined for the last time in 1915. She was sent to Riverside Hospital on Brother Island in New York, where she remained until her death in 1938.  While only 3 deaths were officially attributed to this silent killer, many more have been linked. Typhoid Mary continues to haunt Brother Island, proclaiming she has done nothing wrong.

Bridget Sullivan, Maid of the infamous Lizzie Borden, Massachusetts

 

Lizzie Borden

Lizzie Borden

Bridget Sullivan was a 26-year-old maid from Ireland, working for the Borden family in Fall River, Massachusetts. In 1893 she was the star witness for the prosecution in the case against Lizzie Borden – on trial for the gruesome murder of her father and stepmother.

Both were axed multiple times in the family home, the motive being that Lizzie resented a will change in favour of her stepmother. Due to a lack of evidence, Lizzie was acquitted.

The murder house is now a B & B and is such a hotbed of paranormal activity that the likes of Ghost Adventures and Ghost Hunters have filmed here. Disembodied voices and apparitions are rife, however the most meaningful sighting is that of Bridget Sullivan doing her chores and trying to speak – perhaps to say what really happened that day.

RMS Queen Mary, Long Beach, California

RMS Queen Mary

The Queen Mary was a Cunard Cruise Liner built in England to compete with European superliners.  Her maiden voyage was her assigned route between Southampton and New York in 1936. With the outbreak of the Second World War she was seconded to military service and used to ferry and deploy Allied Forces.

After more than 30 years of service including wartime, the Queen Mary left Southampton for her last voyage and docked in Long Beach.  In 1971 she was officially opened as a tourist attraction and then a year later as a hotel.

In recent years she has been the subject of several paranormal investigations including television’s Ghost Hunters.

Listed in Time Magazine as one of America’s Top Ten Haunts, RMS Queen Mary is subject to the sounds of ghostly child laughter and the apparition of a sailor killed in the engine room.  There are also reports of unidentified spectres and the spirits of crew members who died when the Queen Mary collided with the HMS Curacoa, just off of the coast of Ireland.

With almost 50 official deaths on board in her lifetime and more still undisclosed by the military, the British ship Queen Mary may well be one of America’s most haunted places.

Francis Tumblety, suspect in the Jack the Ripper Murders, New York and Maryland

Francis Tumblety, Jack the Ripper suspect

Francis Tumblety, Jack the Ripper suspect

Francis Tumblety was an Irish-born American citizen who practiced as a doctor of sorts.  With a seeming distaste for women, he gained wealth and social standing but not without incident, as he was arrested for being involved in the Lincoln assassination.

It was while he was in London in 1888 however, the murders of five prostitutes took place. These brutal killings were were attributed to an unknown assailant labelled Jack the Ripper – and Tumblety was a prime suspect.

Having been arrested for an unconnected charge by the Metropolitan Police, he absconded and fled back to the United States once he discovered he was being investigated for the Whitechapel Murders.

The matter was publicised and Scotland Yard pursued Francis, however no extradition ever took place. Jack the Ripper was never caught.

Doctor Crippen, Murderer, Michigan.

Dr. Crippen

Hawley Harvey Crippen was a homeopathic medical practitioner in the United States.  Upon the death of his first wife, he moved to New York and remarried Cora Turner.  Together they moved to England in 1895.

Unable to sustain a decent career as his time was spent socialising and managing his wife’s failing stage career, they moved to an address in Holloway, London and took in lodgers to supplement their paltry income.

Following a January party at their home in 1910, Cora disappeared, with Crippen claiming she had returned to the U.S.

On further investigation, Scotland Yard began to suspect Crippen of foul play but there was no evidence and no body.  Spooked by the enquiries, Crippen went on the run and boarded a ship called the Montrose, bound for Canada.

Following a further extensive search of the house, human remains were discovered, buried beneath the cellar. A wanted notice had been put out for the fugitive and the captain of the Montrose recognised Crippen with his lover.

A wireless telegram was sent to Scotland Yard and Chief Inspector Dew in charge of the case pursued on a faster ship, arriving in Canada ahead of the Montrose.

Crippen was arrested and returned to London, where he was convicted and hanged on 23 November 1910.  His waxwork is one of the most notable exhibits in Madame Tussaud’s Chamber of Horrors in London.

Goody Glover, Witch, Boston, Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Witch Trial

Massachusetts Witch Trial

Ann ‘Goody’ Glover was born in Ireland and during the time of the Cromwellian wars was arrested alongside her husband because of her Catholic faith.

The pair were sent to Barbados as slaves, where her husband died, tormented for his religion.  Ann and her daughter found themselves in Boston in 1680, where she took work as a servant in the home of John Goodwin.

In 1688, as the maniacal puritan obsession with wiping out sorcery was beginning to take hold, the children of the house all took ill. The doctor attending stated that it could only have been caused by witchcraft and Goody was the prime suspect.

The eldest daughter stated that she became sick immediately after an argument with the housekeeper. At trial Ann Glover refused to speak anything other than Irish. As a result her testimony was declared invalid and it was considered further proof that she was a witch.

Goody Glover was convicted of witchcraft and sentenced to hang in November 1688.  While undoubtedly mentally unwell, in later years the Irish Catholic was deemed to be have been persecuted for her faith and on the 300th anniversary of her execution was memorialised and given her own commemorative day on 16th November in recognition of the injustice done.

Roanoke, the Lost Colony, North Carolina

Lost Colony of Roanoke

During the Reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Sir Walter Raleigh was tasked with founding a settlement on the east coast of North America.  In 1584, the first meetings took place with local natives on Roanoke.

The first attempt at settling was fraught with battles with indigenous dwellers and the lack of a relief fleet.  Finally Sir Francis Drake rescued the settlers who wished to leave and returned to England.

In 1587, led by the artist and appointed Governor John White, 115 British men, women and children, including his own granddaughter arrived at Roanoke to create a new colony. When they landed, they discovered that the few settlers who had remained previously had disappeared, only a single human skeleton remaining.

Terrified they tried to re-board the ship, however the Captain refused them passage and insisted they remain behind as instructed. As the state of unrest continued, Governor White returned to England to beg for leniency and the return of the settlers.

Due to the Spanish war and bad weather, White was unable to return to Roanoke until the summer of 1590, where he found… nothing.  Not one colonist, or one tool and the fort was completely dismantled.  The men, women and children of the Roanoke British Colony had vanished.

The only clue was the word ‘CROATOAN’ carved into a tree. Both English and Spanish forces began a hunt for the lost settlers, carrying on until at least 1600, believing the colony to have relocated – they were never found.

Theories of slaughter by natives, integration with locals or relocation abounded, however no bodies, evidence or artefacts were ever found. To this day the 115 remain the lost Colonists of Roanoke.

Happy 4th July!

 

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GHOSTS OF RMS LUSITANIA AND THE PORT OF COBH

With a sea faring history going back hundreds of years, Cobh in County Cork is an unassuming port that continues to be visited by some of the largest ocean liners in the world today.  A picturesque town with strong regal connections, it is hard to imagine that Cobh is synonymous with two of the biggest passenger liner tragedies of all time, just three years apart – RMS Titanic and RMS Lusitania. 

7th May 2015 marks the one hundred year anniversary of the sinking of RMS Lusitania.  As Cobh is making itself ready to remember the dead of this First World War tragedy, what part did the former Queenstown play in the disaster and why do some of the victims of the sinking refuse to leave?

CONSTRUCTION AND USE OF THE LUSITANIA

RMS LUSITANIA

RMS LUSITANIA

Built in Scotland, the Lusitania was largely funded by the Admiralty, as Europe was in a state of unrest and conflict was believed imminent.  By contributing to the cost and overseeing the construction, the Navy would be able to call on the 787 ft liner in the event of war, while in the meantime she was one of Cunard’s front running cruise vessels setting records for speed.

The Lusitania made 201 successful transatlantic voyages as a passenger ship since 1907.  Once war broke out, the cruiser was also used to ship weapons to Britain with travellers knowing little or anything about the additional military cargo stored a few decks beneath their feet.

The Cunard liner was painted camouflage grey as war approached but continued to be used as a passenger vessel.

THE FATEFUL CROSSING

Pier 54, New York

Pier 54, New York

On 1st May 1915, RMS Lusitania set sail from New York for Liverpool on her 202nd voyage with 1962 passengers and crew on board.

By now the cruise ship had been transformed to her initial glory from the camouflage grey, however she was not bearing flags in marked out war zones, contravening Cruiser Rules dictated by the First World War.  These rules were set to safeguard passengers in the event of capture or attack and prevent any misidentification by the enemy.

The ship set sail from Pier 54 in New York despite the following statement from the German Embassy being printed in dozens of American newspapers:

“Notice!

Travellers intending to embark on the Atlantic voyage are reminded that a state of war exists between Germany and her allies and Great Britain and her allies; that the zone of war includes the waters adjacent to the British Isles; that, in accordance with formal notice given by the Imperial German Government, vessels flying the flag of Great Britain, or any of her allies, are liable to destruction in those waters and that travellers sailing in the war zone on the ships of Great Britain or her allies do so at their own risk.

Imperial German Embassy

 Washington, D.C., April 22, 1915.”

Although the ship’s manifest openly documented munitions in the cargo hold, the extent of undocumented firepower has never been fully disclosed and undoubtedly contributed to the Lusitania’s demise.

KINSALE AND THE TORPEDO

GERMAN U-20

GERMAN U-20

As RMS Lusitania approached the south coast of Ireland, a German U Boat crossed her path and due to the nature of her cargo, prior warnings and without the relevant flags, the captain of the U-20 give an order to fire.

The Lusitania sustained a direct hit which in turn caused further explosions within the hull, most likely due to the extent of ammunition and artillery on board.

Due to the lack of lifeboats being launched, poor execution of evacuation and the way in which she tilted and descended, the Lusitania sank to the bottom of the sea, 11 miles from Kinsale, County Cork in just twenty minutes.

The sinking of the Lusitania, both in speed and manner was eerily reminiscent of RMS Titanic, just 3 years earlier.  Despite rescue efforts from localised fishing vessels, 1201 souls were lost.

Sketch of the sinking Lusitania

Sketch of the sinking of RMS Lusitania

AFTERSHOCK

Some of the deceased were brought to Kinsale by rescue boats and interred at St Multose Church, while it was also in Kinsale that the local Coroner launched an official enquiry the following day.

The majority of the bodies however, were either brought to or washed up in Cobh, (Queenstown as it was known at the time) along with the few survivors.  In the Old Church Cemetery on the outskirts of Cobh, almost 200 of the victims of the tragedy are buried in mass and individual graves.  Of course many more were never recovered at all.

Mass Funeral Service for Lusitania Victims

Actual image of the Funeral Service for victims of RMS Lusitania

In a sickening coincidence, Ireland’s first custom built hotel, The Commodore opened for business in 1854 and its focus was to attract the many passengers embarking on voyages including the Titanic and Lusitania.  At the time of the sinking of the Lusitania by a German U Boat, the hotel was under German ownership.

Otto Humbert and his family were forced to hide in the cellars as a crowd gathered and demanded the hotel be burned to the ground. The hotel itself was then converted into a hospital and makeshift morgue for the victims.

THE COMMODORE HOTEL, COBH

THE COMMODORE HOTEL, COBH

GHOSTS AND HAUNTINGS OF RMS LUSITANIA

While locals feel there must be some residual energy left from the fear and torment of the poor passengers within Cobh and particularly The Commodore Hotel, the haunting most reported is one witnessed on more than one occasion from a diverse section of the community including the White Witch of Cobh and a Graves Inspector.

This supernatural event is none other than the chilling sound of a mass funeral procession for the victims of the Lusitania which had taken place on 10th May 1915.  The White Witch herself claims to have ‘seen’ it, however most accounts refer to many low murmuring voices and the sound of footsteps approaching the cemetery wall.  Some have in fact assumed a current funeral was approaching and have looked up to see nothing but an empty road.

With so much maritime tragedy at its heart, it is little wonder that as the broken bodies of the victims of the RMS Lusitania lay in Cobh, the despairing spirits also remain.

Lusitania monument, Cobh, County Cork

Lusitania monument, Cobh, County Cork

More tales of Haunted Cobh can be found here! 5 Haunted Places to Visit in Cobh