10 Haunted Places and the Ghostly Women Who Linger There
By Debra Kelly, Urban Ghosts Media, 6 September 2016.
By Debra Kelly, Urban Ghosts Media, 6 September 2016.
Whether you’re a believer or an ardent skeptic, there’s something eerily compelling about a good ghost story. From silent, grainy apparitions to malevolent poltergeists and horrifying entities at the foot of one’s bed, tales of the supernatural have a habit of drawing us in. Oftentimes, such stories speak of mysterious, anonymous spectres known only as the White Lady, the Grey Lady or even the Blue Lady, as centuries of folklore and oral tradition have blurred the lines between the paranormal and urban legend. But there are also many locations where the identities of resident ghosts remain well known to believers. This article delves into a handful of those supernatural stories and eerie folk tales.
1. Harriet - Charleville Castle, Ireland
Image: Matt McKnight
Charleville Castle, located in the Irish Midlands of County Offaly, was built by the Earl of Charleville at the turn of the 19th century. Visitors today will find an impressive Gothic castle, once long-abandoned but now undergoing a process of restoration and conservation, and haunted - many believe - by the spirit of a little girl who died there in 1861.
It’s said that her name is Harriet, and she was the youngest daughter of the third Earl of Charleville. According to the Charleville Castle Heritage Trust, Harriet died when she was only 8-years-old, but her ghostly presence has endured in the buildings. Visitors claim to have heard her laugh and caught her image on camera. Some even claim to have seen her, a little girl with blonde curls and a blue and white dress.
2. Grace Brown - Big Moose Lake, New York, USA
In 1925, Theodore Dreiser wrote “An American Tragedy.” It was based on the true story of a murder in the idyllic setting of New York’s Big Moose Lake, and it’s said that the spirit of Grace Brown still haunts the beautiful landscape where she met her tragic end.
On July 11, 1906, Grace and her boyfriend, Chester Gillette, rowed out into the lake. Grace was several months pregnant, and letters found after her death would reveal that she knew Chester was cheating on her - and that she was afraid he was going to leave. Instead, Chester bludgeoned her with a tennis racket and pushed her overboard. Not knowing how to swim, she drowned.
Chester was eventually executed for the murder in 1908, but it’s rumoured that Grace’s heartbroken spirit continues to haunt Big Moose Lake.
3. Sister Marie Inconnus - French Fort Cove, New Brunswick, Canada
Image: IR Walker
Historians have given the ghostly specter of the headless nun the name “Sister Marie Inconnus”, simply meaning Sister Marie Unknown. According to folklore, Marie was likely the youngest daughter of a noble French family, and had been assigned her familial duty of joining the religious life.
She was sent to Quebec in the mid-1700s, and found that her services as a religious counsel and nurse were needed at French Fort Cove. Acadians that had settled there were stricken with leprosy, and rumours of an attack by the British were mounting.
To safeguard their treasures, Marie oversaw the collection and burial of all the families’ heirlooms and valuables. One version of the story tells of two sailors, driven mad by disease, who interrogated Marie for the location of the treasure. When she refused, they decapitated her. Though her body was returned to France, it’s said that her headless ghost still walks the cove.
4. Okiku - Himeji Castle, Japan
Image: Niko Kitsakis
Himeji Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and one of several locations said to be haunted by the ghostly figure of a woman named Okiku.
There are several different versions of the story, but one says that Okiku was a maid in the household of a samurai named Tessan Aoyama. Aoyama tried to persuade the young girl to become his lover, and in order to force her to agree to his terms, he hid a set of 10 valuable plates. He threatened to accuse her of stealing them if she didn’t submit to him, but she drowned herself in a well instead. After her death, her spirit remained in the well, counting the plates and reciting numbers from one to nine before beginning to wail and eventually driving the samurai insane with guilt.
5. Minnie Quay - Forester, Michigan, USA
Image: Minnie Quay Facebook
The little town of Forester sits on the edge of Lake Huron, and during the 1800s, the Great Lakes network was a bustling hive of shipping activity. Minnie Quay lived there with her parents, who forbade the romance that was beginning between the 15-year-old girl and a sailor.
That sailor left town in 1876, just before a spring storm swept across the lake. His ship sank and he was drowned, leaving Minnie inconsolable. Her parents had forbid her to say goodbye to him before he left, and she jumped off Forester’s pier to join her beloved in the cold spring waters of the lake.
Since then, visitors have laid flowers on her grave, while some have claimed to see her spectral form wandering the shores. Some say that she even called to them, in a bid to have them join her at the water’s edge - where she will ultimately lure them into the dark, cold lake.
6. Maria Renata Von Mossau - Kloster Unterzell, Germany
Image: H. Helmlechner
The spectral form of Maria Renata Von Mossau is alleged to walk the halls of her German convent, where her spirit supposedly remained after her execution for witchcraft.
She joined the convent when she was only 19 and eventually became Sub-Prioress, but by 1746 things were taking a dark turn. Starting with a nun named Sister Cecilia, her charges began exhibiting signs of possession and torment. When one nun died, she first condemned Renata as the source of the darkness plaguing the convent.
Renata eventually confessed, claiming that she had been in league with the Devil since she was 7-years-old. She claimed to have mastered the creation of various poisons, and that she had joined the convent simply to cause as much misery and destruction as she could. Sentenced to death by the secular courts, she was first beheaded then burned in 1749 - but it’s been said that her ghost still walks the convent’s halls.
7. Lady Metcalfe - The National Library of India
Image: Avrajyoti Mitra
The National Library of India in Kolkata houses the nation’s largest collection of books, with more than 2.2 million texts. It was founded in 1836 by the Governor General Lord Metcalfe, and it’s said that his wife still ‘lives’ there.
Lady Metcalfe was notorious for demanding that everyone who read the books, purchased with funds donated by the library’s benefactors, must return the volumes to their rightful place. It’s said that she still patrols the halls and shelves, and that anyone who doesn’t return a book to its right place might just find her standing over them.
Strangely, the library’s ghostly caretaker isn’t the only unexplained aspect of the facility. In 2010, an Archaeological Study, which was conducted ahead of renovation work, uncovered a mysterious chamber on the ground floor. About 1,000 square feet in size, there was reportedly no way in - or out - of the room.
8. Louisiana Ransburgh Briggs - Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery, Ohio, USA
Image: George C. Campbell
During the American Civil War, Camp Chase was used as a holding centre for Confederate prisoners. In 1863, hundreds died after an outbreak of smallpox, and the cemetery was thus established. There are some 2,260 people buried there, and it’s said that the Veiled Lady of Camp Chase can sometimes be seen visiting the graves.
It’s thought that the ghostly figure is that of Louisiana Ransburgh Briggs, a southern girl whose family sent her to the relative safety of the north when war broke out. There, even though she met and married a Union veteran, she remained a staunch supporter of her native soldiers.
In order to both pay her respects to the fallen and keep out of the public eye, she would often cover herself head to toe in black as she walked through the cemetery and laid fresh flowers on otherwise forgotten graves. Briggs died in 1950, and some say that her spirit still walks among the graves of her fallen soldiers.
9. Francoise de Foix - Chateau de Chateaubriant, France
Francoise de Foix became the official mistress - or “Sweetheart of the King” - of France’s Francis I in 1518, much to the dismay of the rest of his family. She was eventually displaced by Anne de Pisseleu d’Heilly, and left the royal court for Chateau de Chateaubriant in 1528.
Francoise died there in 1537, amid rumours that she had been killed by her husband, Jean de Laval. He had known about her affair with the king and had kept his silence for a decade, but it’s said that he had her sealed inside a padded cell, where she died. Though it’s more likely that she died from some sort of illness, tales nevertheless persist that, every year, on the anniversary of her death - October 16, 1537 - the ghost of Francoise de Foix returns to walk the halls of the home in which she died.
10. Olive Thomas - The New Amsterdam Theatre, New York, USA
Olive Thomas was America’s original flapper. A silent film star whose career began in 1914, she was known as a Ziegfeld girl, and as “The Most Beautiful Girl in New York City”, a title she won when she was only 16. Thomas starred in 20 films during a career that was only four years long, and ended when she was on a vacation in Paris.
The holiday was an attempt to save her marriage to Jack Pickford, but it ended in tragedy. She drank a bottle of mercury bichloride that her husband was using to treat syphilis. Unsubstantiated rumours began to circulate that her death was brought about by suicide, and the deceased Olive Thomas was at the heart of one of the country’s earliest entertainment scandals.
Some believe that Olive’s ghost still haunts the New Amsterdam Theatre, where she once stood on stage before adoring crowds. Allegedly seen wearing her green beaded dress and holding a blue bottle, she is said to have terrified security guards by appearing when something changed at the theatre, and when her old Follies alumni came to visit.
Top image credit: Kevin Dooley/Flickr.
[Source: Urban Ghosts Media. Edited.]