The incredible (unsolved) mystery of Kaspar Hauser

Nuremberg, May 26, 1828: a mysterious boy, about 16 years old, wanders in search of the Captain of the 4th Esgataron of the Shwolishay regiment, to whom he has to deliver a letter. Obviously, no citizen of Nuremberg is aware of the boy’s identity. The letter explains that, from 7 October 1812, the boy had been entrusted to the mysterious author and, among other things, instructed the captain that “…if he isn’t good for anything [the captain] must either kill him or hang him in the chimney.” Apparently Kaspar Hauser,…

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An Irish (true) story: the Enniscorthy poltergeist

You want to exange this life of the modern journalist for the dashing life of an Edwardian hunter news? Well, a century ago, back in 1910, one of the local reporters for County Wexford, Ireland, was one Nicholas Murphy, a man of the Roman Catholic faith who lived at George’s Street in the town of Enniscorthy. He was aged in or around forty at the time, when the call came to cover a most unusual event just a short stroll from his house. The scoop was that an upper room…

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Buried in a Barrel: the story of Captain Sluman Gray~

We’ve probably heard of metaphorically being “over a barrel”, but what about literally being in one? This is the curious sea-farin’ tale of Captain Sluman Gray of Lebanon, in Connecticut (and what happened to him after his demise and burial), even though the gulf between the story and the truth can be as wide as the ocean itself. Well, for a long time, the story regarding Capt. Gray went something like this: an experienced whaling captain, Gray—with his wife Sarah and their children in tow—put out aboard the James Maury…

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Wang Lang: the “Super Grannie” who has completed over 100 marathons in the last 20 years

Wang Lang is a 70-year-old Chinese woman has been dubbed “Super Grannie” after it was revealed that she is an avid runner, with over 100 marathons completed in the last two decades! If most people choose to take it easy after they retire, Liaoning-based woman is definitely not one of them. She started running at the tender age of 50, as a way to keep in shape, but soon realized it was her passion. She ran her first marathon in 2004 and hasn’t stopped since, racking over 100 completed marathons…

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Malte Stierngranat: the man who did what he wanted

Locals in Sweden have a nickname for the eccentric nobleman who built himself a pyramid tomb in the middle of the south highlands: “Mannen som gjorde vad som föll honom in”. Literally: “The man who did what he wanted.” The curious character certainly carried around a lot of names. His name was Georg Malte Gustav August Liewen Stierngranat, and was born in 1871 on an estate called Nobynäs, outside of the small city of Aneby. Because he was the oldest son, he was expected to stick around the manor house…

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World’s loneliest monk lives in his own temple in the middle of Tibetan lake 100 miles from nearest town

Located on top of a small mound, on a sliver of land stretching into the serene Yamdrok Lake is Rituo Temple, the home of just one solitary monk who spends his days chanting sutras and meditating. Rituo literally means “the stone on the mountain” in Tibetan, and it is often referred to as Tibet’s loneliest temple. Its history goes back more than 700 years, but it’s still today considered one of the country’s hidden gems, and few tourists venture out to visit it. That’s because it’s located in the middle…

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California’s “Dark Watchers” that have been spooking hikers for centuries

For at lest 300 years, hikers in California’s Santa Lucia Mountains have been reporting sightings of shadowy, mysterious silhouettes popularly known as “dark watchers”. If you want to see one of them, you should wait until the late afternoon. As the sun begins its descent behind the waves, look to the sharp ridges of the Santa Lucia Range, the mountains that rise up from the shores of Monterey and down the Central California coast. If you are lucky, you might see figures silhouetted against them. Some say the watchers are…

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The Bridgewater Triangle: Massachusetts’ paranormal vortex

The Bridgewater Triangle is an infamous area within southeastern Massachusetts in the United States, that is known for its odd paranormal activity. The Triangle is about 200 square miles (520 km2) of swampland and forest. The area is well known for its UFO sightings, orbs, balls of fire and other spectral phenomena, but also various bigfoot-like sightings, giant snakes, “thunderbirds”, and poltergeist phenomena. You name it, they have it. Even stranger sightings have occurred like one that took place in 1980. It was then that police sergeant Thomas Downey had…

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Ming the Clam: the 507-year-old clam that explained climate change

It wasn’t just any clam. Ming the Clam was 507 years old. For his whole life, he lived on the bottom of the Norwegian Sea and, while on earth the years passed, the world, inevitably, changed. Great empires rose and fell again into the dust, the Industrial Revolution transformed human society, and two world wars claimed millions of lives. In 2006, a team of British scientists was engaged in a mission of assessment off the coast of Iceland, within a study to discover the effects of climate change. Ming was…

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Juraj Jánošík: how an outlaw became the Slovak National Hero

Juraj Jánošík, the outlaw who supposedly robbed the rich and gave to the poor (a deed often attributed to the famous Robin Hood), and who has inspired really countless artistic works, was once an ordinary man, despite there are very few accounts about his life. One of them is the protocol from his trial in March 1713 when he was sentenced to death, other are the two documents from the archives in Trenčín, and lastly, there is the registry office of the parish in Varín. Thanks to the latter, we…

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The infamous murder of Colleen Bawn, one of Ireland’s most haunting crimes

It was autumn 1819 when the body of a 15-year old girl was found floating along the estuary of the River Shannon, Ireland. Through a police investigation, it was discovered that her death was orchestrated by her recently eloped husband John Scanlan, who was a few years her senior. She was Ellen Hanley, orphaned at an early age and raised by her uncle John Connery. She was known by the nickname “Colleen Bawn,” an anglicized spelling of “Cailín Bán” meaning the “pure/innocent girl”. This attracted the eye of John, who…

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Shadows From the Walls of Death – the book that can (literally) kill you

When people speak of “potentially-deadly books”, they usually refer to the radical or controversial ideas they contain, but in thw case of “Shadows from the Walls of Death: Facts and Inferences Prefacing a Book of Specimens of Arsenical Wall Papers”, the potential for lethalness is quite literal. The “lethal” book was published in 1874 by Dr. Robert M. Kedzie, a Union surgeon during the American Civil War and later professor of chemistry at Michigan State Agricultural college (now MSU). Of its 100 or so pages, 86 are “just” samples of…

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Bottle trees: a southern tradition with a spiritual past

For believers and ghost stories enthusiasts, the countryside of the American South is haunted and, given the history of the region, it is not hard to understand why. For istance, If you travel across the South from the Lowcountry of Charleston to the Mississippi Delta you will find many superstitions about the dead, and you will see firsthand some of the ways that locals protect their homes from the souls that apparently have not moved on from our world and have chosen instead to wander in the night and not…

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Charlie Lawson, the wandering ghost of Stokes County

Stokes County, North Carolina, is located in the heart of tobacco country. Back in the heyday of the Golden Leaf, as tobacco was once called, almost every man in Stokes county farmed tobacco or had some kind of connection to it. And the most infamous tobacco farmer of them all was such a Charlie Lawson. It is said that his crimes are so horrible that his soul is not even welcome in Hell and, as a result, some local residents say his ghost still wanders the road in Stokes County…

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Lt. George Dixon and his lucky gold coin

According to the legend, Lieutenant George Dixon of the 21st Alabama Infantry Regiment was quite a lucky man. At least, at first. Shot at the battle of Shiloh, the ball from a Union soldier’s musket that hit him in the thigh should have taken his life, or at best his entire leg. In fact, serious arm and leg wounds during the Civil War were often treated by amputating the affected limb, the practice of which required nothing more than an ether-soaked rag over the nose and an improvised surgeon’s saw.…

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The haunted fields of Andersonville~

When it comes to haunted places in the Deep South of United States, two cities often come to mind: Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia. If you’ve ever been to either of these two cities you’ll understand why. And if not, just considering their history, how could they not be, given the bloodshed of the Civil War as well as the horrible Slave Trade? Despite it is easy to understand why these two cities carry a reputation for harboring the souls of the dead, there is another haunted place in…

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New Jersey Devil’s Tree: an allegedly cursed tree that represents a town’s reckoning with a racist past.

Drivers near the corner of Mountain Road and Emerald Valley Lane in Bernards Township, New Jersey, come upon a tree that rises from the brush that, at sunset, becomes a dark silhouette against the field that stretches just behind it. Known simply as the Devil’s Tree, the oak is believed to have disturbing powers, cursing anyone who harms or simply touches it. By all accounts, it is at least two hundred years old and, according to the locals, everyone in the vicinity of Bernards Township seems to have a story…

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Old Charleston Jail: criminal, pirates and war prisoners~

When one thinks of haunted locations, the first thing that comes to mind are houses, usually followed by cemeteries. However, another type of location that should also come to mind are prisons. The stories of prison in the United states are deeply woven into America’s fabric, and quintessentially depicted in films like Cool Hand Luke and Escape From Alcatraz, and immortalized in songs like Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” and Bob Dylan’s “Hurricane.” In any case, for those who survived prison, for them the triumph is a hollow victory, they…

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The mystery of Brown Mountain Lights

Near the town of Morganton, North Carolina, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains lies the so-called Brown Mountain. Interestingly, as far back as the early 1900’s, people have observed a ghostly phenomenon in the skies around the mountain that has become known, not coincidentally, as “the Brown Mountain Lights”. However, some of the earliest reports of these ghost lights came from Cherokee and Catawba Indians, but also settlers and Civil War soldiers, and thousands have witnessed the spectacle, which is ongoing to this day. Ghost hunting is a…

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The bedside ghost of Edenton’s Cupola House~

Ghost stories are one of the most fascinating ways to uncover an area’s history, past residents, culture and stories. Nestled on the banks of the Albemarle Sound, in a remote part of eastern North Carolina, lies the small town of Edenton. Incorporated in 1722, it was the first capital of colonial North Carolina and as such has a rich history dating back to its early days as a maritime seaport of pre-Revolutionary War America. Given the age of some of the historical homes and buildings in Edenton, not to mention…

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The curious folktale of Blowing Rock, North Carolina

Apparently, most people born in North Carolina have visited Blowing Rock at one time or another in their lives. The town of Blowing Rock, is named for “The Blowing Rock”, an outcropping of rock studded with crystals that hangs over a deep valley in the Appalachian Mountains. In any case, along with Tweetsie Railroad and the “mile high swinging bridge” at nearby Grandfather Mountain, it is a popular destination for anyone that visits the Blue Ridge Mountains. However, few people know the story behind Blowing Rock. As a child, my…

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The (real?) story of the Surrency ghosts – Georgia

One of the most famous ghost story in the history of the South dates back to the early 1870’s in the town of Surrency, a small hamlet located about sixty miles southwest of Savannah, Georgia…. “That place was possessed by something evil.” That was the opinion of such a Herschel Tillman when he recalled his many visits to the home of Allen Powel Surrency when he was a boy in the early 1870s. And, interestingly, he was just one of the thousands of witnesses to the strange and sometimes violent…

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The unsolved mystery of Madagascar, the gold ship vanished in 1853

The frigate Madagascar left Melbourne for London on this day, August 12, 1853 with more than 150 passengers and its crew…but also nearly three tons of gold on board. It was never seen again. The Madagascar was a sturdy British merchant vessel built in 1837, used for carrying soldiers to India as well as passengers looking for an exotic vacation on the Indian sub-continent. However, by the 1850s, Victoria was in the grip of a gold rush and the ship found it had a new role in its life: instead…

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The ghost of Alice Riley and the legend spanish moss

If you go to any coastal town in the South, you’ll see huge, centuries-old live oaks with limbs covered in Spanish moss. From Myrtle Beach down through Charleston and Savannah, and on into Florida, the huge trees are the last living elements of the Antebellum South. These old sentinels even predate most of the haint that roam through the southern countryside, or rattle chains in the attics of local homes. Beyond this area, few probably know the story of Alice Riley and her connection to so called Spanish moss. She…

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The unsolved mystery of Draga Mitrićević’s death

Draga Mitrićević was a daughter of a well-to-do entrepreneur and Privy Councilor. She was educated abroad and spoke several languages and the vast family fortune and reputation was further strengthened by close connection to the Royal Court through Draga’s marriage with the young officer who served as royal household administrator. It seems a perfect story…until she found out about her husband’s infidelity. She made a scandal confronting him in public and throwing out all of his personal possessions into the street and, with heart broken, she moved to her own…

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432 Abercorn Street: one of Savannah’s most haunted houses between history and urban legends

For generations people have talked about one house in Savannah more than any other, with creepy tales of the past owner, Benjamin Wilson, becoming more and more different and rich in details with every decade that passes by. This house is known simply by its address: 432 Abercorn Street. The privately owned home (and not open to visitors) is a place of endless rumors that draw tourists from around the country, including rock star Alice “No More Mr. Nice Guy” Cooper. The story of 432 Abercorn begins in the year…

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The witches of Benevento and their walnut tree Sabbats

We are in Italy. When the Romans conquered the area in the 3rd century B.C. they changed its original name Maleventum (meaning “bad event”) into Beneventum (“good event”) but, name apart, it was a place of crossroads. The city stood in fact where the Appian Way forked and the Sabato and Calore rivers came together and, interestingly, crossroads (in italian “crocevia”) were the special domain of the goddess Trivia, protector of witches, with word Tri-via that means “three roads”. The legend of the witches of Benevento dates back to the…

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The haunted Orphanage in Marquette – Michigan that is now an apartment building ~

The first orphanage in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the destination for area Native American and parentless children, was built in downtown Marquette in the 1870s and called “Rock Street”, followed in 1881 by a Catholic home named after St. Joseph in Assinins. However, already in 1903, these two orphanages were overfull, due to a ruthless campaign of removing infants from their Native American mothers. Frederick Eis, a Bishop residing in Marquette, soon began to petition funds for a new orphanage in his city, one that would become the biggest…

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St. Senara’s Curch and the legend of the Mermaid of Zennor~

A variety of fish-tailed gods were worshipped by the first civilisations of the Middle East, and the earliest known of these was Oannes, Lord of the Waters, who appeared about 7000 years ago. However, it is unclear what the connection is between these ancient gods and the mermaids that were reported by European sailors from around the 15th century onwards. But sightings were at one time pretty common in Cornwall. British folklore proposes that the mermaid represents an early depiction of the goddess Aphrodite, who was seen as a warning…

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The mystery of WWII bomber plane that still lies in North Carolina’s Badin Lake

Apparently some North Carolina lakes of considerable depth generate as many legendary tales, expecially fish tales, but not only. Badin Lake, just outside the town of Albemarle, is not an exception. Created in 1917 by the damming of the Yadkin river, the 5300-acre lake reaches depths of over 60 meters and holds in its belly the remains of farmhouses and entire forests, as well as, according to a legend, the mysterious wreckage of a World War II B-25 Mitchell bomber. As story goes, Mary Elizabeth McDaniel hurried through an early…

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