Do you believe in ghosts? Many people do, several don’t. According to the “Haunted House Report” posted by Realtor.com, 35 percent of the people surveyed claim to have lived in, or are living in a home that is haunted.
The alleged telltale warning signs that a house you are living in may be haunted are said to include having a cemetery on the property, a home which is over 100 years old, whether home has been the scene of a particularly gruesome crime or it’s near a battlefield and there is, of course, the giveaway sign, when a home keeps changing owners often and quickly.
So, with that being said, I’ve put together a shortlist of America’s six most haunted houses and their gruesome histories.
Joshua Ward House, Salem Massachusetts
Well known for their macabre history, Salem, Massachusetts is no stranger to disturbing legends and the Joshua Ward House is one place with one of the most prominent of these legends.
The house was built by Joshua Ward, a wealthy merchant sea captain, in the late 1780s on a foundation built by the notorious former sheriff, George Corwin.
Sheriff Corwin was a prominent figure whose passion for torture fueled the unfortunate events that became the infamous Salem Witch Trials of the late 1600s.
Nicknamed “The Strangler” because of his preferred method of torture, which included tying his victim’s neck to their ankles until the blood ran from their noses, Corwin is said to be responsible for the death of countless witches.
One of these so called witches was Giles Corey, a man who was accused of witchcraft. Corwin crushed Corey to death by placing heavy stones on his chest in order to extract a confession.
Before Corey died, he cursed Corwin and all of the sheriffs that would follow in his position.
As legend has it, since proclaiming his curse, every sheriff has died while in office or has been “forced out of his post as the result of an ailment that had to do with the heart or blood”. Corwin himself died of a heart attack in 1696.
Today, it is said that many of Corwin’s victims, including Sheriff Corey haunt The Joshua Ward House.
LaLaurie Mansion, New Orleans, Louisiana
Built in 1832, the LaLaurie mansion is claimed to be haunted by several tortured slaves. In 1834, during a major fire at the manor, several of the neighbors were helping to save the contents of the home from the fire when they found tortured slaves chained up in the attic by the owner Marie Delphine LaLaurie, better known as Madame LaLaurie, a prominent socialite and, as it was later discovered, a serial killer.
The fire had started in the kitchen where, upon entering, an elderly female cook was found chained to the stove by her ankle.
According to the New Orleans Bee from April 11, 1834, bystanders found “seven slaves, more or less horribly mutilated. They were suspended by the neck, with their limbs apparently stretched and torn from one extremity to the other”, who claimed to have been imprisoned there for many months.
The home, which had been rebuilt to resemble the original, was owned by actor Nicholas Cage from 2007 till 2009.
LaLaurie’s life is a mystery after the fire, however, writer Harriet Martineau claims that after fleeing the New Orleans, during the mob violence, she took a coach to the waterfront and traveled to Mobile, Alabama on a schooner and then settled in Paris. She is rumored to have died in Paris, France in a boar-hunting accident.
Boone Hall Plantation, Charleston, South Carolina
The Boone Hall Plantation was founded by Major John Boone and then sold to brothers John and Henry Horlbeck.
Like LaLaurie Mansion, the plantation is claimed to have housed mistreated and tortured slaves.
The Horlbeck brothers expanded the property’s brickyard and set some of their 225 slaves to work operating dangerous kilns for the local building industry beginning in 1817.
According to the legend, there have been several sightings of spirits within 20 feet of the plantation’s kiln. A slave girl and boy are the most commonly spotted of these ghosts.
Dock Street Theater, Charleston, South Carolina
Originally built in 1809, as Planter’s Hotel by the Calder, the Dock Street Theater is the first building, in the Thirteen Colonies, that was designed for use as a theater.
There are claims that two entities continuously wander around the theater. One of them was Junius Brutus Booth, a famous actor and the father of President Lincoln’s assassin John Wilkes Booth.
The other spectre is a nameless prostitute the locals called “Nettie” who is believed to have frequented the area in the 1800s.
Nettie worked at the hotel which is where she was struck by lightning and killed instantly while standing on her porch.
Farnsworth House, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
The famous Civil War battle at Gettysburg was one of the bloodiest during the four-year war. Named for Brigadier General Elon J. Farnsworth, the Farnsworth House was home to Confederate sharpshooters who would shoot Union soldiers from the windows of the house during the conflict.
The home later operated as a makeshift hospital, and currently functions as a nine-room bed and breakfast.
However, five of those rooms are said to be haunted by the ghosts of fallen soldiers, along with a midwife called Mary.
Many guests claim to have seen Mary sitting on their beds at night.
Home of the Villisca Ax Murders in Villisca, Iowa
An old white frame house sits quietly on a residential street in the small town of Villisca, Iowa.
On the night of June 10, 1912, six members of the Moore family, who lived in the home, and two other children were brutally killed in what remains Iowa’s worst mass murder to date.
The parents Josiah and Sarah along with their four children Herman 11, Katherine 10, Boyd 7, and Paul 5, as well as two of Katherine’s friends Ina 8 and Lena 12 were all found with severe head wounds created by an ax.
The investigators on the scene believed that all of the victims except for Lena Stillinger had been asleep at the time of the attack. They also believed that Lena attempted to fight off her attacker because of the presence of defensive wounds on her arm.
While there were many suspects, Reverend George Kelly, a traveling minister and suspected pedophile, was twice tried for the murders but was acquitted both times. To this date, the case remains unsolved.
So, I ask the question again. Do you believe in ghosts? There seems to be a lot of people who do.