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Month: April 2015

Haunted Mansion History Mystery

Or, Discover The Origins Of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion Ride

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Haunted Mansion History Mystery

Written by Sara Hofstein in Dec. 2014

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Hamilton-Turner House, Savannah, Georgia

 

In Savannah, Georgia, the dead are just as important as the living. Graveyards and majestic homes named after their prominent former owners are found all over Savannah’s downtown area. If you’re downtown, it’s likely that you’re walking on a dead body. Many a graveyard was paved over to make way for wider roads and the grand homes that were built in the 19th century. With its Spanish moss-covered trees, Savannah is said to be one of the most haunted cities in America.  It was no wonder, then, when I heard that the Hamilton-Turner House, now an inn that was built in 1873, was one of the models for Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion.

The Hamilton-Turner Inn is a beautiful Second Empire-style home built on Lafayette Square and was the first home in Savannah to have electricity. The original owner was the president of the local electric company, and it is said that a crowd gathered outside the home to watch the lights turn on, thinking that the home would explode.  It is also one of many Savannah homes rumored to have a resident ghost.  The story that is heard most often is of a Confederate soldier who roams the halls. The only explanation given for why a Confederate soldier haunts a home built after the Civil War is that the house was built on top of his grave.

Its Second Empire architecture is naturally given to creepiness and made the HM rumor unsurprising. The Addams Family home, the Munsters’, and the Bates home in Psycho are all Second Empire.  I wanted to look into this connection further between the Hamilton-Turner House and the Haunted Mansion.

I did not believe that the current version of the HM was based on the Hamilton-Turner House, as the HM looks more akin to a Louisiana plantation style, even though we know the home is based on the Shipley-Lydecker House in Baltimore.  I turned, instead, to the pre-Ken Anderson drawings to the designs of Harper Goff in the 1950’s.

The coincidences between the two homes began to build. The current Haunted Mansion at DL is on New Orleans Square, while the Hamilton-Turner House is on Lafayette, named after the French nobleman the Marquis de Lafayette. Both homes, then, are located on French-influenced squares.  The original design and the Hamilton-Turner House are located next to churches and in cities with a long connection to the dead.

I reached out to the Hamilton-Turner Inn to get their take on the tale.  Suzy Ridder, the inn’s General Manager, said that she has heard the rumor before but she doesn’t know whether it’s true.  She said she could see the similarities between the Haunted Mansion and the Hamilton-Turner House, but the one thing that was actually similar is the fountain outside each of the homes.

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Hamilton-Turner House, Savannah, Georgia
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Haunted Mansion, Disneyland, California

I looked into the matter further, to see if I could find more associations.  I found a few dubious sources, such as an Examiner.com article that said the name of the Haunted Mansion home was the Hamilton, and aCNN iReport that said Walt himself sat on a bench in front of the Hamilton-Turner and sketched it. Denise Hildreth’s novel, Savannah From Savannah mentions the story in its pages.

The rumor can be found at the website for the Association of Historic Inns of Savannah, where it says that it was “informally the model for the ‘Haunted Mansion’ at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.”  I figured the website meant Disneyland and not Walt Disney World as non-Disney fanatics often don’t realize that there are differences between the two resorts. They think the rides look the same on both coasts (I wonder how many people know that even the castles are different?).

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Haunted Mansion, Disney World, Florida

I reached out to people in Savannah, contacting the three most popular tour companies in order to find out what they knew. Garry Patrick, Program Manager of Ghosts and Gravestones, a subsidiary of the Old Town Trolley tour company, said that he had heard of the rumor but that the house was not a part of their tour program.

Adam Wilkins of Oglethorpe Tours had also heard the story, but he believed it would “make sense that this inn was used as [Walt’s] inspiration.”  He went on further to say that “Walt Disney did, briefly, consider Hutchinson Island [an island off of Savannah’s coast] as a location for Disney World,” but that it wasn’t large enough to accommodate his vision.

The last tour operator to whom I reached out was the Old Savannah Tour Company, which propagates this rumor according to a chat I found on DoomBuggies.com (among other sources stating that tour guides continue to give this info), but my inquiry went unanswered.

I contacted Jeff Baham of DoomBuggies.com to ask him further questions about the Haunted Mansion and the possible connection with the Hamilton-Turner House.  He did not have a definitive answer for Harper Goff’s inspiration, though he imagined that Mr. Goff would have looked at many places and sketched his designs based on something real. In regards to the Hamilton-Turner House, however, all rumors he has heard are false.

Convinced by a Haunted Mansion expert that the story, as fun as it was, was fabricated, I went back to search for the source. The only real connection I found was in the official tour guide handbook published by the city of Savannah. Parts of The Haunted Mansion film were shot in Savannah (though not at the inn), but I knew the rumor was older than 2003. Beyond that, the only mention of the Hamilton-Turner House within the guide was that it was the first in town to have electricity. The similarities between the two haunted homes began to unravel.

The long-established name of the Haunted Mansion home, though not necessarily considered canon, is the Gracey Mansion, not the Hamilton, thus debunking the Examiner.com article.  On the same message board where I found the Old Savannah Tour Company tip, I found a name for a person who might have begun the rumor, a woman named Nancy Hillis. This tale suddenly began to make sense. Like all good Savannah stories, the Haunted Mansion rumor begins with “the Book.”

There is only one book in Savannah known simply as the Book, and surprisingly it’s not the Bible. It’s John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, a tell-all of Savannah in the 1980’s that Clint Eastwood turned into a film starring John Cusack and Kevin Spacey in 1997. If you live in Savannah for any amount of time, you will somehow become linked to the Book without even trying. I moved to Savannah in 2003 and left when I went off to college in 2007. In those four short years, I learned that one of my favorite diners was a common meeting place in the Book; a story is recounted in the pages of when the protagonist, Jim Williams, had a run-in with my synagogue when he placed Nazi flags on his house, which is right across the square from my temple (though he only placed the flags in order to stop a film crew from shooting a made-for-TV movie about Lincoln’s assassination in front of his home).  I went to high school with the grandson of Jim Williams’ archenemy and neighbor, and my school was also mentioned in the Book. I moved to Savannah 20 years after the novel’s events, and somehow my life can be found in its pages.

John Berendt changed Nancy Hillis’ name to Mandy, and the character became John Cusack’s love interest in the film. In reality (and in the novel), she was the girlfriend of Joe Odom, a man who knew how to have a good time and who threw the most raucous parties. Hillis owned the Hamilton-Turner House in the 1990’s.

I was once told by an employee at the Andrew Low House, another stately mansion located on the same square as the Hamilton-Turner House (and where I worked for one summer), that there is no need to tell false stories in Savannah as all the best ones are true, but passing off tales as the truth seems to be a Savannah pastime. Nancy Hillis was no exception. She falsely claimed many times that she was once Miss Tennessee, and was successfully sued for it, and it seems that she was the one who began the Haunted Mansion rumor in order to drum up business for her failed venture.

I asked a Manager of the Hamilton-Turner Inn if she knew if the Haunted Mansion tale had originated with Nancy Hillis, and she said that she had never heard of that.  When pressed for more information about Ms. Hillis, the Manager reiterated the Miss Tennessee story that I had found in prior research, implying that Ms. Hillis was prone to making up stories.

I dug through the archives of the Savannah Morning News and found an article in their Accent Diversionssection from July 15, 1994 titled “Haunted Mansion Mystery Show Begins At Hamilton-Turner House.” Hamilton-Turner produced an interactive murder mystery play in the 90’s based off the success of the Book, titled Murder in the Garden of Good and Evil. Though there is no mention of the connection between the Hamilton-Turner House and the Haunted Mansion, listings can be found for the following weeks announcing the program as the Haunted Mansion Mystery Shows.  This must be around the time when the rumor began. Savannahians saw a story and ran with it—what was once a murder mystery play at the Hamilton-Turner house called the Haunted Mansion turned into the Hamilton-Turner House becoming the basis for the Haunted Mansion, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Nancy Hillis supported such a rumor.

With just a little digging, the truth behind the Haunted Mansion tale was not too hard to find. The story, in some way, originated with Nancy Hillis and quickly became Savannah legend.  Ironically, the Savannah Morning News says the reason the victim was murdered in the Hamilton-Turner House’s Haunted Mansionplay was because “he made up stories about the city.”

Do you like a good ghost story? Then you’d probably love Savannah! Although it’s highly unlikely that the city inspired Disney’s Haunted Mansion, you’d be hard pressed to find a town which evokes the beautiful eeriness of the Haunted Mansion better than Savannah, GA.

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Haunted House In Kentucky

Or, Peek Inside The Haunted Spirit House

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Mystery Monday: Haunted House in Scott County

Written by Lex18.com in Dec. 2014

haunted kentucky

Nestled in Scott County is what appears to be a normal house, wonderfully decorated for Christmas.  But lurking inside is a secret.  Well, not necessarily a secret since it’s known around the county to be haunted.

The homeowners are used to it, but there’s proof that at one point, whoever lived there before was certainly frightened by whatever mystery was hiding between the walls.

Homeowner Dean Jessie says that if you just stick around long enough, anyone will be able to see why it is refereed to as The Spirit House. “I would say 3 or 4 times a week it could be in the daytime or the or it could be in the evening that you would experience the spirits in this house,” says Jessie. He’s lived there for ten years and says that he’s not alone. Jessie claims that there are five spirits there with him; a man in the basement, two maids, a little girl on the third floor and … Maggie.

“She built this house. This is her dream, and I could understand why she would be attached to this house,” said Jessie about Maggie.

But there are some things in his house that even Jessie doesn’t understand.  There are rooms that were completely sealed off, staircases leading to the third floor that were removed and bizarre markings above every single door. Jessie describes the markings as “ancient symbols for protection from evil spirits.” He’s convinced that there was something that happened there that everyone was afraid of and that’s what’s keeping the mystery in this house in Scott County.

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<3 Anna

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Flirty Clip Friday #60

Or, I’m Sharing My Fave Video Montages

I’m a little late to the party, but I’ve binge-watched Once Upon A Time on Netflix and I’m “hooked.” So, I’m devoting April to one of my new favorite couples–Emma Swan and Killian Jones. Enjoy some Captain Swan!

Video created by -EchoesofPassion-

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Most Haunted Sites In India

Or, Are You Brave Enough To Step Foot In One Of These Haunted Places?

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Are You Brave Enough To Step Foot In The 5 Most Haunted Places In India?

Written by baskhar.com in Dec. 2014

haunted india

A few questions are better off unanswered, like do ghosts exist. Is there a parallel world? What if someone watches you while you sleep? A calling from the paranormal, we bring to you some of India’s most spooky places.
If you wish to seek answers from the unseen, be their guests.
Bhangarh Alwar, Rajasthan:
Bhangarh located between Jaipur and Delhi in Rajasthan, is not just known as the most haunted place in India but also popular across the world for its paranormal activity.
This place has a ‘no entry after dark’ sign put up by the Archaeological Survey of India.
Ramoji Film Studio, Hyderabad:
Ramoji Film Studio was built on the war grounds of Nizams and locals believe that ghosts of dead soldiers haunt the place.
Golconda Fort, Hyderabad:
Rumors say that the souls of various Qutub Shah rulers still roam in the Golconda Fort, many have claimed hearing strange sounds from the ancient palaces at night.
The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Mumbai:
Many still believe that the chief engineer of The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, W. A. Chambers, killed himself after discovering that it was built in the reverse direction.
Many claim that they have seen a spirit floating in the corridors, which resembles the engineer himself.
The Savoy, Mussoorie:
This holiday hotel dates back to 1902. It is said that the corridors of this hotel are haunted by the ghost of Lady Garnet Orme, who was found dead in mysterious circumstances.
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Flirty Clip Friday #59

Or, I’m Sharing My Fave Video Montages

I’m a little late to the party, but I’ve binge-watched Once Upon A Time on Netflix and I’m “hooked.” So, I’m devoting April to one of my new favorite couples–Emma Swan and Killian Jones. Enjoy some Captain Swan!

Video created by KaterineSwan

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<3 Anna

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2015 Spring Break Road Trip Part 2

Or, Join Me On A Road Trip Up The Eastern Coast To Berks County, PA

In March, I set out with my mom and daughter on a four-day road trip from North Carolina to Pennsylvania to explore historical sites before I move away from the area permanently this summer.

Third stop–Gettysburg, PA Gettysburg 2015-03-14 13.15.11

Gettysburg 2015-03-14 14.31.17

Gettysburg 2015-03-14 14.34.19

Fourth Stop–Fredericksburg, PA

Fredericksburg March 2015 145

Fredericksburg March 2015 156

Fredericksburg March 2015 118

Fredericksburg March 2015 122

 

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<3 Anna

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Abandoned Haunted Pub Nobody Wants To Buy

Or, How To Buy A Piece Of British History

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Abandoned Pub Nobody Wants To Buy Because Of Ghost Of Black-Eyed Girl

Written by Matt Payton in Oct. 2014

4 crosses pub.jpg

You can take your pick – a drunk ghost called Charlie, a heartbroken damsel called Emily, a Roundhead soldier spirit or a black eyed little girl dressed in rags..

This menagerie of poltergeists live in the now abandoned Staffordshire pub, the Four Crosses which dates back to 1636.

This property with its 10 bedrooms and a car park with a capacity for 80 vehicles will set you back a value-laden £325,000.

If you are interested and have children, just make sure none of them ‘can see dead people.’

Chris Arnold, who runs ghost-themed events said of the haunted pub: ‘I have hosted events at haunted buildings throughout the country and I have to say the Four Crosses Inn is probably the most haunted.

‘We have experienced so much there but a piano playing by itself on command was the most dramatic.’

 

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<3 Anna

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Flirty Clip Friday #58

Or, I’m Sharing My Fave Romantic Video Montages

I’m a little late to the party, but I’ve binge-watched Once Upon A Time on Netflix and I’m “hooked.” So, I’m devoting April to one of my new favorite couples–Emma Swan and Killian Jones. Enjoy some Captain Swan!

Video created by Olent Alf

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<3 Anna

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My Review of A Night to Surrender

Or, What I Thought Of Tessa Dare’s Spindle Cove Starter

night to suurender tessa dare

 

Back Cover Blurb:

Spindle Cove is the destination of choice for certain types of well-bred young ladies: the painfully shy, young wives disenchanted with matrimony, and young girls too enchanted with the wrong men. It is a haven for those who live there.

Victor Bramwell, the new Earl of Rycliff, knows he doesn’t belong here. So far as he can tell, there’s nothing in this place but spinsters…and sheep. But he has no choice, he has orders to gather a militia. It’s a simple mission, made complicated by the spirited, exquisite Susanna Finch–a woman who is determined to save her personal utopia from the invasion of Bram’s makeshift army.

Susanna has no use for aggravating men; Bram has sworn off interfering women. The scene is set for an epic battle…but who can be named the winner when both have so much to lose?

My Thoughts:

I adored this book! It was fun and feisty from the very beginning to the happily ever after ending. Bram is damaged, both inside and out, but so is Susanna, and they make the perfect pair. When the boys took over the girls’ delicate tea shop, transforming it into the Rutting Bull Saloon, I couldn’t wipe the goofy grin off my face.

But my favorite part is Bram and Susanna’s verbal brawling in the cove.

Bram: “You’re just begging to be taught a hard, fast lesson in what it means to please a man.”

Susanna: “You’re just longing to put your head in my lap and feel my fingers in your hair.”

He backed her up against a rock. “You need a good ravaging.”

“You,” she breathed, “need a hug.”

I highly recommend this book to Regency fans, and I’ll be looking for the second book in the series!

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6 Most Haunted Places In America

Or, Look Inside Some Of America’s Most Haunted Sites

Visit the original article here. Or continue reading below for the full story.

 The 6 Most Haunted Places In America Will Terrify You

Written by Theresa Argie in Sept. 2014

Haunting is a phenomenon that seems to lay upon a place in layers, like geologic strata, with the most recent and energetic spirits most likely to interact with their environment in a manner that we humans can detect. Of course human ability to sense such things lays upon a sliding scale. Typically, as the strikingly accurate Handbook For the Recently Deceased from Tim Burton’s haunted classic Beetlejuice states, “The living usually won’t see the dead.” But for the most sensitive people, such as Amy Allan, co-star of Travel Channel’s “The Dead Files,” many locations harbor spirit activity, and some locales are virtually alive with the dead performing elaborate pantomimes.

Over the last decade or so, with the popularization of ghost hunting TV shows and the broad “normalization of the paranormal,” we’ve seen the emergence of “super haunts”: destinations with so much spirit energy that it can be detected regularly by people of average sensitivity and register on ghost hunting equipment.

Savvy entrepreneurs have seized on this trend and market their spooky domains for paranormal tours, investigations, and overnight stays. Paranormal investigators, thrill seekers, and the curious flock to these venues in droves, expressly hoping to make contact with the other side.

But for those seeking a more intimate paranormal experience, one off the beaten and heavily marketed path, there are active properties in virtually every community in the land, hidden local gems full of haunted history and spine-chilling supernatural secrets.

PRISON REDEMPTION
Ohio State Reformatory, Mansfield, Ohio

This gothic castle-like structure was built in 1896 with the noble goal of reforming juvenile and young-adult offenders. As with many best-laid plans, the ideals of the Reformatory gradually gave way to institutional reality, the path to a better life yielding to a warehouse of despair, pain, even death.

Plagued for decades with overcrowding, decay, and explosive violence, the doors to OSR were closed for good in 1990 by a federal order citing “brutalizing and inhumane conditions,” but something remained behind. Along with the peeling paint and rusting iron bars, the troubled spirits of forgotten inmates still linger behind its thick stone walls.

Ghosts of angry men physically attack visitors and staff. Eerie whispers echo through the cells blocks, calling by name those who dare climb reverberating metal stairs to its upper tiers. Apparitions of emaciated prisoners flicker in and out of the dark shadows of solitary confinement, tucked deep in the bowels of the building.

And the heartbroken spirit of Helen, wife of a former warden, cries out in her former quarters, her distinctive rose perfume accompanying her presence.

US-HISTORY-ASYLUM 1/26
Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, Weston, W. Virginia

Before 19th century reform revealed mental illness to be a medical condition, asylums were the dumping ground for society’s unwanted. Originally a destination of enlightened empathy and treatment, the famed Kirkbride method emphasized institutionalization and an architecture that afforded a pleasant aesthetic, but TALA eventually became just another overcrowded, underfunded warehouse of pain and misery.

When the doors finally closed for good in 1994, the confused spirits of many former patients stayed locked inside. Murders, rapists, and other violent offenders still mix with those who’s only crime was depression or substance abuse. Tortured ghosts of those who endured horrific ice-pick lobotomies scream for justice inside the asylum walls. The lingering spirit of a lonely child named Lily is one of TALA’s innocent victims. Like a sentinel, she sits patiently in her brightly colored room, waiting for someone to play with her.

Waverly Hills Sanatorium
Waverly Hills Sanatorium, Louisville, Kentucky

Once the last best hope for those suffering from tuberculosis, aka “The White Plague,” this enormous bat-winged shaped building retains the memories and emotions of its former patients and staff. Before the modern age of antibiotics, fresh air and nutrition were the primary treatments for TB. Doctors tried many experimental procedures to help the afflicted, but drastic surgeries often maimed or even killed the patient outright — another case of best intentions gone awry.

The highly contagious disease could also affect the brain, causing many to go mad. The slow agonizing death suffered by many Waverly’s residents left a residue of dark energy to fester in the building. Ghostly forms follow visitors through the narrow corridors. Phantom footsteps and eerie voices echo among the walls of the body chute, aka “the death tunnel,” the discrete final exit for many patients.

An entity known as The Creeper climbs the walls and ceilings with its spindly spider-like limbs. Thought to be a harbinger of evil, it moves with unnatural speed, stalking those who roam the creepy, lonely corridors. Originally a place of hope for the afflicted, Waverly Hills is burdened with the weight of thousands of suffering souls.

And three more haunted gems…

The Red Onion Saloon – Skagway, Alaska
Many who flocked to Alaska during the gold rushes of the 19th century never made it past the staging town of Skagway. Overwhelmingly unprepared for such a backbreaking journey, many stayed in the town and sought their fortune in other ways. Many women found themselves with little opportunity to make a respectable living and turned to prostitution. With no shortage of customers, these “soiled doves” found plenty of work in Skagway. Brothels became commonplace, and the Red Onion was the best in town.

Although only in operation for two years in the late 1890s, this fascinating place has secured its spot in Alaskan history. It is now a popular tourist attraction, complete with a brothel museum on the top floor. But behind the music and free flowing brew is a collection of the Klondike’s most intriguing ghosts. The spirit of Diamond Lil, a former madam, still keeps a watchful eye on her girls and guests. She caresses male visitors with her ghostly hands and whispers seductively in their ears. A malevolent male presence intimidates unsuspecting staff and patrons, bullying both from beyond the grave. The solid apparition of a woman in a long dark dress glides ethereally up and down the staircase. The gaiety of current clients cannot silence the spirits of those who refuse to be forgotten.

The Lake County History Center – Painesville, Ohio
Museums are an often underappreciated source of paranormal activity. For example, the Lake County History Center has everything one could ask for in a haunted location. It was once the site of the Lake County Poor House, a facility that housed the dispossessed of society, the poor, the infirm, the mentally ill, widows and orphaned children. Mix in some prisoners and the criminally insane and you’ve got a melting pot of misery.

The basement had dirt floor cells with iron doors and cages for the unruly. In contrast, a significant portion of the building was a beautiful home for the facility’s superintendents and their families, elegantly furnished with posh amenities of the Victorian era. Now it is a living museum, filled with antiques and artifacts of days gone by, displays that tell the history of Ohio and its people.

But strange things are afoot at the history center. Disembodied voices, ghostly moans, and children’s cries pierce the silence. Large shadowy figures appear to dart along the hallways. A dark energy roams the basement, appearing at times as a pulsating black mass. The ghost of the matron, a severe and silent woman, still holds vigil on the old dormitory floors, keeping a cold watchful on her flock.

Mission San Miguel – San Luis Obispo, California
Founded by a Franciscan priest in 1797, the mission was one of a long chain of missions along the road known as the El Camino Real. The Franciscans established these respites along the coastline like a chain to heaven, converting many of the local people to Christianity along the way.

The beautiful church built in 1821 still stands today. The mission was secularized in 1834, and in 1848 a civilian named Reed became the proprietor, turning the property into a much needed hotel and general store. Rumors spread that Reed had a plethora of gold on hand at all times. A tragic robbery turned murder left Reed, his family, and his staff brutally slain for a sack of gold. Their dismembered parts were buried in a communal grave in the church’s cemetery.

Today the Mission San Miguel is once again a working church, retaining much of its original character and beauty. The grounds are a museum, a tribute to its former occupants. Encased in the adobe walls are the memories of those who fell victim to its darker days. Phantom priests of decades past return to keep a watchful eye on the congregation. The ghosts of the native people walk amongst the buildings of the old fort acting as protectors of the land. And the spirits of the slaughtered Reed family still linger, seeking justice from beyond the grave.

 

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<3 Anna

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