; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Daily 2 Cents: Ghost Dog Keeps Watch -- Lifetime Events...I'm Scared -- Arcane Radio 'THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE' Giveaway

Ghost Dog Keeps Watch

WILMINGTON — Of all the doomed spirits haunting North Carolina, few inspire heartsick tears more than Boss the tugboat captain’s dog – devoted canine, dockside hero, fearless pooch who died for love.

She trotted at the heels of Capt. William Ellerbrock, tagging along for pints of ale or jaunts on the Cape Fear River, lending comfort to the rough-handed skipper. They made boon companions, ashore and afloat – a pair whose friendship endures in Wilmington folklore.

Then one night in 1880, she darted into a burning building after her beloved master, perishing beside him in the flames, a torn piece of his coat in her charred muzzle. To this day, her whine can be heard along the waterfront, especially, it’s said, to those being careless with fire.

So sacred is Boss’ memory to the Port City, so hallowed her bravery, that her image appears chiseled on Capt. Ellerbrock’s grave, the only North Carolina dog so honored, as far as I know.

To this day, when guides lead tourists on the ghost walk down Front Street, they weep through the telling of Boss’ story, stricken more than a century later.

“It doesn’t have a lot of ghostly occurrences,” said John Hirchak, lead guide and author of “Ghosts of Old Wilmington,” “but it’s just such a tragic and moving story that it’s hard to resist. I’m bawling my eyes out every time I work on it.”

Young William Ellerbrock fled Germany in upheaval and landed in the 19th-century South, a culture where he never exactly fit. Knowing no one, fumbling with the language, he sought shelter with an uncle who taught him the tugboat trade.

He missed the old country and his friends, assimilating poorly, until one day his uncle gave him a present: the dog he named Boss.

Stories differ on Boss’ breed, a Newfoundland or a plain mutt. But history agrees that the two never parted, especially that April night when the alarm bells rang out over the waterfront. One account states that Ellerbrock handed Boss over to a bystander before he rushed in to help the victims, and that his dog broke free and chased after him. But Hirchak suspects that Boss wouldn’t have parted from Ellerbrock even for a second.

However it happened, the pair weren’t discovered until the next morning, the captain face down in the ashes and pinned under a collapsed wall. When crews lifted them from the wreckage, a woman in the crowd called out, “There’s something in the dog’s mouth!”

When they inspected, they found the pup’s teeth still clenched around her master’s sleeve, torn off as she tried to drag him to safety.

“This was big news when it happened,” Hirchak said. “It’s like the little girl falling down the well. Everybody felt like they had something invested in it.”

Capt. Ellerbrock and Boss rest in a corner of Oakdale Cemetery, a green and wooded graveyard hung with Spanish moss. They’re not far from 367 unknown Confederate soldiers and hundreds more victims of yellow fever. Newscaster David Brinkley’s grave is within shouting range.

By all accounts they do not appear in the burial ground, choosing instead to bob peacefully on some celestial riverboat. But Hirchak tells this story:

Long after their death, the fire largely forgotten, a merchant running a new business near the spot had an electrician do some work in an old upstairs corner. While he was poking around, he and his crewmen heard a dog whining nearby, and after searching around, they couldn’t find the animal anywhere.

But once he’d taken a good look, the electrician came back downstairs and advised against the work. Too risky, he said. A fire hazard.

He’d never heard the story of Boss the valiant, Boss who charged into an inferno. But he must have heard a phantom canine growling across the decades, a warning from trusty, long-eared protector. - News Observer


Riddle of how medium knew the fate of ships

The eerie peace of a suburban seance was shattered by knocking at the door. Into the house burst several police officers who manhandled the medium, searched for evidence of trickery and interviewed each of the sitters.

That raid in Ella Road, West Bridgford, in 1956 effectively ended the career of one of the most famous mediums of the century. No charges were brought but five weeks later the woman who is sometimes remembered as the 'last witch' died.

The irony was that a woman suspected by Notts police of being a common conwoman had, 12 years earlier, been taken so seriously that she was tried under the 1735 Witchcraft Act and jailed.

Seventy years on her descendants continue to campaign to win a posthumous pardon for Helen Duncan. On the website www.helenduncan.net, her family state: "Since her death, Helen has been considered a martyr among mediums and spiritualists. A campaign for Helen to be awarded a posthumous pardon has been continually rejected to this day."

Helen was born in Scotland in 1897. She married Henry Duncan with whom she had six children. From an early age she is said to have displayed the 'gift' of medium with the spirit world. A feature of her sittings was her ability to emit 'ectoplasm' from her mouth during her trances – a stringy white substance that is supposed to give form to spirits and allow them to communicate.

To raise the family, Duncan worked in a bleach factory by day and by night accepted the small donations of friends who came to her sittings.

In 1931 Duncan was denounced as a fraud by both the Morning Post newspaper and the London Psychic Laboratory, which had examined her.

The laboratory's director, Harry Price, declared that the so-called ectoplasm was in fact cheesecloth Duncan had swallowed and then regurgitated during her seances.

She was also prosecuted at Edinburgh Sheriff's Court in 1933 for affray and being a 'fraudulent medium', for which she was sentenced to a fine of £10 or a month's imprisonment. But it was during the Second World War that the mum from Callander became famous – to some, infamous.

At a seance in Scotland in 1941, Duncan announced that a major warship had been lost. A military intelligence officer was at the sitting. He checked the claim with an Admiralty contact. His contact was unaware of any loss, but 15 minutes later it was confirmed that HMS Hood had been sunk off Greenland with the loss of 1,400 sailors.

Duncan held a second seance in Portsmouth in November, 1941. The spirit of a sailor in uniform reportedly materialised complete with the name HMS Barham on his cap band. Sitters say they heard him declare to his mother (who was there) that his ship had been sunk with a great loss of life. When the shocked lady said that couldn't be correct as she had not been notified, the spirit sailor claimed she would be in three weeks before fading away.

The sailor's mother was so concerned that she contacted the Admiralty who sent two officials round to question her.

The Admiralty knew through German Enigma machine radio communications intercepted by Bletchley Park that the Germans thought only minor damage had been caused to HMS Barham yet the truth was the ship had blown up a few minutes after being hit by a torpedo.

As the Royal Navy wanted the Germans to think HMS Barham was still a threat in the Mediterranean rather than laying on the bottom of it, they had gone to great lengths to keep the sinking from the public. In fact, it was not officially announced until late January 1942.

Police raided another of her seances in Portsmouth. Duncan and three sitters were arrested for vagrancy. She was remanded in custody and the charge was later amended to conspiracy. However, when she appeared at the Old Bailey she faced charges under the Witchcraft Act of 1735.

The trial caused a media sensation and was covered in the newspapers, many of which revelled in printing cartoons of witches on broomsticks. The defence announced that Duncan was prepared to demonstrate her abilities in the witness box. This amounted to conducting a séance in the court while in a state of trance and the offer was refused.

The prosecution alleged that she 'pretended to exercise or use human conjuration that through the agency of spirits of the deceased, dead persons should appear to be present'.

Duncan was convicted, sentenced to nine months, and branded in one newspaper headline as 'a humbug'.

Duncan applied her psychic gifts in Holloway prison and was visited by Prime Minister Winston Churchill who, according to Duncan's friends, considered the Act and prosecution to be 'obsolete tomfoolery', and promised to make amends.

Duncan was released in September 1944. The Witchcraft Act was repealed after the war, and in 1951 the Fraudulent Mediums Act was introduced. It was aimed by Home Secretary Sir Herbert Morrison not at genuine practitioners, but at tricksters. In 1954, spiritualism was officially recognised as a proper religion by an Act of Parliament.

On October 24 and 25, 1956, Duncan held seances at the house in Ella Road, West Bridgford, at the invitation of the occupant, Joe Timmins, a respected physiotherapist and a spiritualist. The magazine Psychic News reported on the incident the following month. It alleged that a couple who attended the Saturday seance and booked for the Sunday session were, in fact, undercover police officers.

Guests assembled in a first-floor bedroom at Mr Timmins's home. After 20 minutes, reported Psychic News, 'banging was heard on the outside door accompanied by the bell ringing... when the door was opened the police came in'.

"According to Timmins's account, they made a dive over the sitters in the front row and tore down the curtain which formed a cabinet in the corner of the room. Then two policewomen grabbed the medium while policemen took flashlight photographs. By this time the lights were on..."

Witnesses said the officers kept asking for masks, beards and a shroud. No evidence of trickery was found and there were no charges brought, but the disturbance may have been significant. On the Helen Duncan website, a relative says "in their ignorance the police had committed the worst possible sin of physical phenomena – that a medium in trance must never be touched or a light shone on the medium. If this happens the ectoplasm returns to the medium's body too quickly and can cause immense – sometimes even fatal – damage."

Witnesses reported that Duncan was ill, and a doctor was called. Later, said Psychic News, two second-degree burns were found on her stomach. At previous seances where interruptions occurred, it was reported, she had suffered burns.

Six weeks later, on December 6, 1956, she died of a heart attack.

Today, 58 years after her death, a campaign started by the Psychic World Newspaper in 1997 on behalf of her family to clear her name is still fighting its corner, despite a 2005 Criminal Cases Review Commission ruling that it was 'not in the public interest'. - Nottingham Post


Lifetime Events...I'm Scared

Amsterdam, NY - This next event, the 4th in my life, is something I cannot bottle up anymore. It's been over 20 years. Even as I type this, I am genuinely scared. And all because of a pee break.

Early morning, approximately 4 AM, during a television commercial break, I got up and went to pee. On my way there, out of the corner of my left eye, I noticed, through the window, what appeared to be, someone trespassing, walking in our driveway using a flashlight. Immediately, I thought vandalism to the cars or raiding the garden. I went to the backdoor, there are two doors to walk through. Inner main door, outer screen door. The inner door is metal and uses a skeleton key. Not exactly a stealthy combination when you are trying to sneak up on an intruder. Well whatever it was did not seem to be aware of my presence until I was standing on the landing looking at it. We made "eye contact" and then the thing morphed into a machine and approached me, rising up to my level.

Sorry for the CapsLock, but, I AM KEEPING, WHAT THIS THING LOOKED LIKE TO MYSELF....UNTIL I CAN SPEAK WITH EITHER, Stanton Friedman and/or Bill Birnes.

I'll bet now you really do think I'm crazy.

I'm scared about this. Please don't think me wonko.

The rest of this story only comes out with a face to face conversation.

I am NOT SEEKING publicity.

I am NOT SEEKING money.

What happened to me was real. I just want talk about it. PRIVATELY!

I'm just an average joe, and I'm tired of holding it in.

I've never reported anything until today, prompted by my most recent sighting. It all came rushing back and I feel strongly about telling of all, my 6 experiences. But this one is the biggie. After all this time, it still bothers me. - MUFON CMS


Arcane Radio 'THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE' Giveaway - Entry deadline Saturday Oct. 11th - Send your contact information to info@arcaneradio.com



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