Monday, March 23, 2020

The Real Pandemic Hidden Behind The Coronavirus Is Not What You Think

I think we've all wondered at times if the world could survive a crisis. 

For those of us who were kids in the 1970s and 80s, the catalyst of disaster was nuclear weapons. I'll never forget the day that I finally figured out that "duck and cover" wouldn't do anything but give us something to do right before we died. I was ten. 

Then, of course, terrorism became the boogeyman. Not so much in small town or small city USA, which is where I've lived most of my life but in big cities. Washington. Los Angeles. 

Manhattan. 

The past decade or so the agent of dystopian fear has been more imaginary. The Walking Dead, aka the zombie apocalypse. Yeah, not too scary for me. I write horror for fun. 

But now? Now we're looking at an antagonist that shouldn't have ever existed--a pandemic that so far cannot be halted with modern medicine. The fears of a pandemic have been an on-again, off-again nightmare for the past twenty years. Pretty much started for me when those f**king idiots were sending around anthrax in the wake of 9/11. Whether it was ebola or SARS, there was always something lurking around the corner that fizzled out before it impacted too many people in Europe and the US.

Until now.

I don't have words of wisdom for you that will explain all this. I don't have the medical training to discuss anything more than the most minor factoids that the CDC and common sense would dictate. That being said, however--

Politics is something I can write about.

Here's the situation in a nutshell. The past 12-15 years, the American government has been stagnated by party politics. No, I don't give a damn about either party. When you get right down to it, the Democrats are just as bad as the Republicans who are just as bad as the Democrats. I'd love to stack some more party names into that statement, but the fact of the matter is that we have no other viable parties. Corruption, back room deals, big industry and pharmaceuticals, special interest groups, PACs and SuperPACs, religious organizations, and lobbyists--that's who really controls the American government. Not the voters.

Not us.

Never has this been more apparent than now, during a global pandemic, when the US government couldn't get its shit together long enough to cross the aisle and come up with solutions to the crises now facing us. Yeah, I know. You've heard me snarling about the two-party system for years. But now it's no longer just a personal dislike. The COVID-19 virus has got me spooked and I'm not afraid to say it. And in the meantime, while you and me and billions of other people worldwide are staring down the barrel of the pandemic shotgun the United States government can't even agree on what's necessary to supply aid to its citizens who already are having to deal with supply shortages on food and other necessities, loss of pay for folks who live paycheck to paycheck or who are tipped employees, and a medical system that's already overwhelmed at the front end of this outbreak. With models of the outbreak leaning toward the peak infection rate in the US not coming until July, take a good look around you.

We're living in a REM song.

An article from The Atlantic over the weekend by Alexis Madrigal and Robinson Meyer traced the nightmarish incompetence of the federal government to give the medical and research sectors the ability to assertively track, diagnose, and treat the coronavirus. Their article also gave viral expert and research scientist Trevor Bedford a platform to share some truly alarming facts.

If there is one thing about the novel coronavirus that you must understand, it’s that it is a firecracker with a long fuse. Here is what the explosion looks like: Every six days, the number of people infected by the disease doubles, according to estimates from Bedford and other epidemiologists. At the start of February, Bedford now believes, the United States had something like 430 infections; if American interventions have done nothing to slow the disease’s spread, then his simple calculations show that more than 120,000 people could be infected by this weekend. Because of the great uncertainty, it’s probably most appropriate to give Bedford’s range: About 60,000 to 245,000 people are now infected with COVID-19 in the United States.

So if the current models are correct and Americans won't see the virus peak until July, we're looking at four and a half months of dealing with the ramifications of the coronavirus. Think about it: life without schools, churches, and for most Americans their jobs and/or income. Sheltering at home turns into an elongated vigil, and when you do have to run out to the store or the bank then you face three weeks when every little cough or sneeze feels significant. And if you catch coronavirus, you face quarantine for weeks by a medical community that's woefully understaffed and undersupplied.

There is no one person to blame. The blame can be spread around evenly between Democrats and Republicans, the House of Representatives and the Senate, the CDC and state and local health monitoring facilities. The CDC didn't confirm community transmission of COVID-19 until February 26 even though there were already at least sixty known cases in the US.

And the White House. Oh yes, plenty of blame to be slathered onto the Oval Office where the President of the United States first mocked the virus and delayed federal response to the eruption of the medical and financial impacts of COVID-19 through January, February, and over half of March before Trump assembled his too-little too-late task force. And no, that's not partisan. That's a fact. Just a few examples:

At a February 10 campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire: "And by the way, the virus, they're working hard. Looks like by April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away."

In a February 26 briefing at the White House: The infection seems to have gone down over the last two days.  As opposed to getting larger, it’s actually gotten smaller.  In one instance where we think we can be — it’s somewhat reliable, it seems to have gotten quite a bit smaller.

In a February 27 meeting with African-American leaders: "It’s going to disappear.  One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.  And from our shores, we — you know, it could get worse before it gets better.  It could maybe go away.  We’ll see what happens.  Nobody really knows."

And all sorts of other examples, which you can find for yourself in this cross-referenced article on the Mercury News.

But, it's not just the Trump administration who are guilty of screwing the biggest and most infectious pooch the US has faced since the 1917-18's Spanish flu epidemic.Both sides of the aisle have been tinkering with federal legislation to alleviate the disaster-in-the-making coronavirus, ticky-tacking so that pet projects can also benefit from emergency legislation. And just last night, the Democrats killed an Emergency Economic Relief legislation in the Senate--$1.8 trillion dollars of legislation desperately needed to help Americans financially and shore up the US stock market.

You know--maybe there were valid reasons for voting that aid package down. Maybe there were inherent flaws or oblique advantages for the big-pharmaceutical corporations that support Trump and other Republicans. But in the end, that doesn't matter to most Americans. What does matter right now is feeding their kids or finding things like meat, milk, fresh vegetables, and paper products in the grocery store. And as we stare into the face of what's looking dangerously more like another depression instead of a recession, Americans don't give a damn about someone getting a bridge package in Timbuktu approved. All they care about is getting the help they need, and it's glaringly obvious that nothing is more important to the politicians in Washington than scoring off their opponents no matter what they toss aside in the process.

So yes, Americans. Your government has failed you yet again, only this time we're not talking about some stupid impeachment trial. We're talking about decisions being made, legislation being killed, delusions being reported as fact. We're talking about a legislature that doesn't seem to care how many people are sick or dying because all they really care about is winning their reelection campaigns. We're talking about a President of the United States who's now glorifying himself as the hero of the pandemic by keeping COVID-19 when just in the past month he's mocked the virus, downplayed its importance, stalled a federal response that might have saved lives, and turned the pandemic into a polarizing morass of conflicting information so heinous that his own team has to step forward and correct or refute what Trump said just moments before.

We're talking about the real pandemic in this country: a two-party political system that should be held responsible for the spread of the virus in America and every single death that occurs because the patient was not diagnosed early enough or the hospitals and physicians don't have the equipment they need to help.

The real pandemic here? The escalating inadequacy of the federal government to effect positive change on behalf of its citizens. That's the real diagnosis of this disaster. The federal government is nothing more than a roiling, diseased collection of Typhoid Marys infecting the American way of life. And even when there is a vaccine for coronavirus (and we're realistically looking at 1-2 years before there's any sort of preventative or cure for COVID-19) the self-injected infection of the federal government will still remain and the citizens of this country are the physicians who are baffled about how to halt the spread of the disease.

Physician, heal thyself. Eliminate the real disease that's centralized in DC. Kick them ALL out and start over because this catastrophe could have been avoided with just one politician willing to take a stand on behalf of all the rest of us. We were failed by the people we elected to represent our basic existence in this nation.

So yes, physician, heal thyself and remember that there is a cure for the real pandemic here. It's called "Election Day".

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Preview--House of Wills: It Feels Evil

Author's note: This preview was written sitting inside the main chapel of the House of Wills the first day that the Travel Channel's show, It Feels Evil, was shot. But there was literally no way to suspect that the investigation would take the turn it did. Present initially as a writer, not an investigator, I was quickly sucked in with the rest of the team as we tried to decipher just what in the hell was going on in that place. Or to us, to be honest.



When the team pulls into the parking lot of the House of Wills in Cleveland, Ohio the wind howls around us while rain slashes against the crumbling building. Perfect conditions for a landmark paranormal investigation. The team heads into the building for its first look at the location, and there’s a definite sense of unease pulsing around all of them. Although it’s still daylight, the interior of the building is dark. The central chapel would be pitch black and silent if it wasn’t for the thunderstorm pounding outside and the chamber open to the sky. But despite the wind that is shrieking through the narrow corridors and winding staircases, the air is heavy…humid…and smells of decay, death, and rot. I always thought something about the building was disconcerting.

Sitting inside it, I now see why. 

The House of Wills has a definite sense of purpose. A will of its own, if you’ll pardon the pun. The atmosphere is watchful and definitely sports a malevolent edge. There’s no way to escape the isolation of this ravaged beauty on a June afternoon that feels more like March, but it’s only inside the building that one gets the sense that something’s not quite right.  

The House of Wills is cold, cold, cold and its atmosphere presses in upon you like the grave.  

Through the gaping windows on the second-floor gallery, the sky looks orange and the tree branches are whipping from side to side. The chapel has gone from repressive to malevolent. The House of Wills is nothing like it was in its heyday. Once it was a Turnverein, a German social club that promoted the ideals of Eugenics—a theory which would become the foundation of Hitler's genocide in WWII—in the twilight of the nineteenth century. Then, in a staggering reversal of purpose, the building served as a Jewish school in the dawn of the twentieth century. Most famously it was a funeral home that was one of the largest African-American-owned businesses in the US for over three decades. This ruined building went, within the space of fifty years, from a building whose owners espoused beliefs that led to the Holocaust but then became a power structure at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement.  

How would such an volte-face affect a building? Is that conflict at the heart of the alleged haunting here?

Current owner, artist Eric Freeman, is high priest of a religion he co-founded with the grandson of Anton LeVey. LeVey took Aleister Crowley’s Thelemic cult and his writings on magick and turned them into a religion (and profitable business venture) in the San Francisco of the 1960’s.  Freeman uses the  former House of Wills not only as his curated art gallery, but also for religious purposes.

There’s never been a place more perfectly suited to be haunted, but that’s not what brings the team to Cleveland. The House of Wills was designed to channel, store, and conduct energy.  The building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, was built by renowned area architect Frederic Striebinger, a thirty-second degree Mason, in 1900. 

That energy is what we're chasing.

This chapel was once a consecrated site, where thousands of families attended the Christian last rites of loved ones. But since the death of J. Walter Wills in 1971, the building’s been desecrated, first by the family who owned it, then by the gangs and drug dealers who took it over when it was abandoned. Now, the building would be almost unrecognizable to the people who once loved it. 

Something inimical and cautious lurks among these relics of Egyptian grandeur—fake relics, of course. A reproduction sarcophagus shares the space with a massive carved head of Baphomet, the horned god of Satanic worship, and the crumbling plaster of art deco glory. This old building still possesses dignity in her aged splendor, but has been cannibalized by her own children and desecrated by her own community. You can tell that desecration has been dark for it is never daytime in this place.

In the House of Wills, it is always night. 

On the former chapel's stage, an ornate casket sits upon a bier, flanked by two massive red-upholstered chairs that look like thrones. In front of one throne, ritual candles await their time to burn. The uses the building is put to are painfully obvious. The House of Wills is decaying faster than its owner can repair it. For all practical purposes, there’s nowhere in the world better suited to the task the team has been set: researching what we're beginning to believe may be a demonic attachment.  

I have to wonder if it's wise to expect this team, several of whom have been battling against their own demons for years, to attempt contact with any diabolical agency. The House of Wills, therefore, is both a battleground and a research facility, but hopefully will lead us all down a path that hopefully will lead to greater knowledge.  

Is it worth the risk? I'm not sure.

I have to be honest: this is one of the few places that has ever creeped me out instantly. I'm as sensitive as a brick so I'm used to everyone else around me being able to sense there's something about a site that just isn't right. Other folks have the instincts that lead them to paranormal activity. Tim Wood, our lead investigator, is one of the best guys I've ever seen when it comes to that. I tend to get dragged into paranormal synchronicities (like what happened when we were conducting the Zozo experiment) or I piss something off and get slapped upside the back of my head (like numerous trips to the haunted fields and cave involved in the Bell Witch haunting).

But in this moment, right after I first set foot into the House of Wills, I'm overwhelmed by the cold certainty that this is not a place to be trifled with. 

Aside from the general decrepitude of the building, it's pouring rain outside. And inside. That's rendered almost every square foot of floor into a slick, threatening expanse to navigate. Despite the fact that it's summer, the interior of this building is freezing. I'm usually the person who walks into an alleged haunted site without concern, automatically looking for anything that could debunk evidence previously caught by other teams or witness accounts. At the House of Wills, that's not possible. 

Not just because it's spooky. This place plays to a lifetime of horror movie tropes.

But something in this building feels like it's aware, and it knew we were coming. The House of Wills is anticipating...something. Or someone.

Naturally, that sends me straight into "blame Tim" mode.

Always has to be Tim's fault, right? I mean my research is rarely targeted by some supernatural entity...unless Tim's involved. Then all kinds of crazy stuff happens. But this trip is different. The crazy stuff started before I started the car to drive up here. I'm starting to think whatever is gloating at me in the House of Wills sent me a direct warning at home yesterday...the day before I left for Cleveland: 

Be careful. I'm watching you. No one involved in the shoot knows what I'm about to relate except the executive producer and Tim.

Yesterday, I was packing for the trip in my office, so my suitcase was open on the bed. I was talking on the phone when all of a sudden, a section of the ceiling collapsed. Flooring, drywall, insulation, and God knows what else fell all over me and my nearly-completed packing. 

Ever have to dig insulation out of a suitcase? I don't recommend it. Not fun. 

Aside from a sizable lump on my head, the way the whole incident went down was baffling.

Evidently something heavy in the attic had fallen between the floor joists onto the drywall, bringing a full three-foot section down in the middle of my office. Missed my bookcases, thankfully. I would have been hugely pissed if my books had been screwed up. In fact, the majority of the material that fell went smack dab into the middle of my suitcase. 

Except for one chunk of drywall. That smashed me in the head.

Here's the kicker: everything was dry. Not wet. As for whatever had caused the collapse, there wasn't a sign. It was almost like someone had stepped between the joists and stepped directly on the drywall. The incident made no sense in the normal, mundane everyday would we all inhabit.

But shivering in the dark chapel of the House of Wills, that "accident" makes perfect sense after the fact. The irony of trading one collapsed ceiling for another is too pointed to miss.

I was being warned by something that maybe this little jaunt to Cleveland wasn't such a great idea. Me being me, I shrugged it off and came up anyway like I'd been double dog dared by Flick on the playground. Nothing like a challenge, right? 

But as I sit here, with the storm lashing the building and the day waning into nighttime, I have to wonder if accepting the challenge was the smart thing to do. I have a good idea what might be lying in wait for us now that I've taken my first steps into this site. A familiar miasma, hovering over everything. The difficulties the film crew are having to combat. The mood of the investigators. The sense that something is just not right. 

I've felt this supernatural aura before. This is the first haunted location I've ever walked into and immediately had to evaluate my judgment as a result. I have no idea what's about to happen, but I have the feeling that it's going to be bad. 

Really bad.
Author's note: By the end of that episode shoot, it was apparent that this time we had all miscalculated what the effects of putting this investigative team into that location would be. 
Disastrous. 
You can check out what happened at the House of Wills tonight at 11 pm EST, 8 pm PST in It Feels Evil on the Travel Channel. Basically, it's a master class on 'why you shouldn't ignore your guts when investigating'...for all of us. 

Additional note: As I was preparing to schedule this post for release, the same section of the same room's ceiling just collapsed. Again. Apparently, I've pissed something off. 
Again.



Friday, December 27, 2019

Victoria's Black Swan Inn—Historical Dossier LSF/It Feels Evil


Author's note: This document continues our investigation into paranormal research, and was submitted to the producers of It Feels Evil as a comparison piece for/against the website currently maintained by the owner and on her website prior to the investigation. Sorry it's a little late--holidays and all that.

A few things to remember when looking at this website—many paranormal groups (including Ghost Adventures) have taken that website as gospel and reproduced it word for word. Never accept a “history” on a website as fact. Also, if there are paranormal instances cited throughout a history article, up to and including the names of alleged spirits and even what they say/do, that usually means someone doesn’t want you looking at the real history for whatever reason and want to distract you with a “look at what our ghosts do!!!” moment. But if the history is wrong, chances are that one or more of the alleged spirits is either what a psychic claimed to have sensed or imagination, providing a false validation of what’s really going on. So let’s take a look at what the o want us to think and what we know:

Website--From before 5000 B.C. to around 1000 A.D the area was the site of Native American encampments. Artifacts from this time can still be found here. Archeologists (sic) have provided evidence showing that Native Americans once lived in the area where the house currently sits. There have also been signs of a sweat lodge where Native Americans performed rituals. An ancient Indian burial ground is thought to be under the house.

Fact—okay anything from 5000 BC to 1000 AD isn’t Native American. It’s prehistoric. We’re talking about predating the Incan and Mayan peoples, and the dates cited cover both the archaic and the late Prehistoric period. HOWEVER, the period after 1000 AD is and should be the points of reference here. There’s no record of archaeologists (correct spelling) ever documenting evidence that proves Native Americans lived on/near the land where the house sits. There’s certainly not any record I can find of a dig conducted there. There’s no record of a sweat lodge. There’s no record of an Indian burial ground either, and if there WAS one under the house we should be able to record that by getting into the crawl space. (If there’s no crawl space, then there’s no way whatsoever that anyone knows what’s under the house for the simple reason that no one can get there.) All that being said, the area around San Antonio was occupied relatively continuously by indigenous people until the 18th and 19th centuries, when the Native American tribes were continuously forced west by the encroachment of European settlers and it would be odd if they hadn’t camped near a water source, especially during the summer when these tribes migrating for hunting.

According to the San Antonio Office of Historical Preservation, there were hundreds of Native American tribes in central Texas during the historic period from 1700 AD on, but these tribes are the worst documented in the historical and archaeological records.


Website: On September 18, 1842 General Adrian Woll, Sam Houston and his men massacred more than 60 Mexican soldiers during the bloody Battle of Salado. Their bodies were left to rot where they fell. Only one Texan lost his life, Steven Jett, during the battle.



Fact: That the battle took place there is apparently close to the truth, but General Adrien Woll was the French-Mexican general of the Mexican troops, while the Texans were led by Colonel Matthew Caldwell of the Texas Rangers. Woll commanded over 1600 Mexican and Cherokee troops against Caldwell’s militia of right around 200. There’s no mention of Sam Houston being anywhere close to this battle, since in 1842 he was serving his second non-consecutive term as President of Texas and was in, appropriately enough, Houston. Caldwell’s militia defeated Woll, who retreated back to Mexico, leaving his 60 dead behind. And yes—only one Texan lost his life and was interred properly while the Mexicans were left to rot.

Website: The Prescott House was built on the property after the civil war.
Sebastian L Rippstein (2/4/1824 - 7/14/1896), born in Switzerland, and his wife, Hemrieke "Betsy" Ackermann Rippstien (6/1/1834 - 9/15/1911), born in Germany, settled the land in 1867. The San Antonio Conservation Society shows that they built a stone house barn and milking barn on the property. Their children were Gustav Juilan (1851-1920), Henriettta Rippstein Seay (1854-1932), Bertha "Betty" Dorthea Rippstein Schaefer (1858-1920), Ida Rippstein Benfer (1870-1951), and Albert Rippstein (1874-1941).


Fact: You can see on this map the layout of the battle. About a third of the way down, you see the dark square that represents the Prescott house on top of a hill overlooking the river. What I find interesting about this is that there’s no mention of the Prescotts ever owning that property. (more on this confusion later) The first structures built on the property were built in 1867 by the Rippstein family, German immigrants who started a dairy business. The barn and dairy barn are purported to have been built by them. But the house that’s there now is NOT the house of the Rippsteins as best I can tell and definitely isn’t the Prescotts’ house either.



Now in this next shot, you can get a glimpse of the Black Swan Inn with the huge barns behind it, a cemetery in front of it, and across what appears to be a major road is Salado Creek. The historical marker for the Battle of Salado Creek is just outside and to the west of the gates to the BSI on Holbrook Road, which is the thoroughfare between the BSI and the Salado River…

Wait a second. I have to wonder where in the heck is the Salado River on BSI’s side of the river? Because of the claims of a natural spring on the property, you’d logically think they’d be on/near the river. Also, topographically, it’s obvious that the battle itself was fought with the Texan militia blocking the Mexican army’s advance from positions tight up against the river and behind the Prescott house which is right about where the road is today.

But that’s not all. As you can see, the big barns are behind the BSI, but on the map of the battle the barns the website claimed were part of the Prescott property are not there. There’s one outbuilding shown on the property, and it’s tight up against the big house. So the barns currently on the BSI property can’t have anything to do with the Prescotts, and were probably built in/after 1867 when the Rippsteins bought the property.

There’s a reason for that (and subsequently a reason that the big house wasn’t built until 1901-02). Many European farmers built two story barns with the animals on the ground floor and the people on an upper floor. They do that in Europe for the extra heat the animals give off. Obviously in Texas, this would suck profusely 7 months of the year. My guess is the “stone house barn” referenced on the website is what the owner’s talking about. That means the Rippsteins and the Mahlers, who bought the property twenty years later in 1887, lived in a residence inside/above the cows in the barn below until having the first house built on the property—but that house wasn’t the house that’s currently there.

Website: German immigrants, Heinrich "Henry" Mahler (9/2/1840 - 4/18/1925) and Marie Biermann Mahler (7/15/1850 - 7/25/1923), bought the property on January 10, 1887. They built the first house on the property in 1887 (Bexar County Appraisal District shows 1902 and San Antonio Conservation Society shows 1901 for the year built). Their children were Samuel George Mahler (1/21/1876 - 4/21/1937), Louisa Catherine Mahler Prange (11/1/1879 - 1/10/1918), Sara "Suzie" Mahler Schlegel (2/27/1882 - 3/23/1958), Daniel Henry Mahler (11/11/1884 - 5/27/1950). They also built a milking barn and named the farm Bluebonnet Dairy. Henry and Sam were known as the Cotton Kings. The Mahlers ran the dairy farm here until the mid-1930s.

Fact: What makes this odd is that the website claims the Mahlers built the house in 1887 BUT the San Antonio Conservation Society AND the Bexar County Appraisal District don’t show a house (that didn’t involve cow storage) built on the property until 1902/1901 respectively. Also, why were Henry and son, Sam, known as the “Cotton Kings” when they were running a 200-acre dairy farm? Shouldn’t they be known as the Cow Kings or the Cream Kings instead? So there are multiple red flags here that lead me to believe substantial parts of this section of the history have been manufactured instead of researched.

Website: After Mahler’s wife passed away, he followed suit two years later from lovesick grief. Heinrich also haunts the Milking Barn and roams the property, including inside the main house. His daughter, Sara "Suzie" pulls pranks in a building located behind the Black Swan.

Facts: Case in point. First off, there’s no way anyone dies of grief. That’s BS until and unless a proper medical association assigns “lovesick grief” as an actual diagnosis. I don’t expect that to happen anytime soon. Second off, again with stating anything paranormal-related as an actual fact. This continues to deteriorate as the "history" continues. Note that Suzie is Henry's daughter. This becomes important.

Website: Carl Mahler from Germany had a daughter named Sophia Louise Mahler Meyers, a spinster who lived in the house until she was 82, but haunts the house as an 8-year-old girl singing and laughing and known for playing tricks on people.

Fact: There’s no context for this. We don’t know who Carl is, or why he lived there. This is the first time he's mentioned. Same thing for his daughter, who is apparently stuck there as an 8-year-old girl. But here's the most telling clue that something about this "history" stinks to high heaven. Just one paragraph ABOVE this claim, it's stated that a sweet little Suzie was the daughter of Henry Mahler. There's no Carl mentioned, or a Sophia despite them purportedly both living in the house as part of the same family. Now there are TWO mischievous girl ghosts that are the SAME AGE.  This is the result of either historical confusion--possible--or haunted house myth-making--probable. The website can't even keep its own story straight, but still presents this all as "fact" or "history" when it's patently a fiction. To me, this is a strong indication that someone hopped onto a free genealogical website, where date/name confusion is pretty much the order of the day on any family tree, without double-checking through vital records.

All this does is create a scenario where a paranormal investigator or—even worse and more dangerous—a paranormal tourist takes a cheap voice recorder into the location to talk to “Sara (Suzie)” or "Sophia" the sweet little girl prankster ghost and accidentally summons an entity to interact with her/him. The lie becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. So if you're part of an investigation team that does not perform legitimate historical research on a property and instead relies upon an owner's website or a previous paranormal group's findings, your team can be sent blind into a dangerous paranormal event without the proper preparation or protection. That's why research is legitimately the most important segment of an investigation and cannot be skimped.

See, anytime you use a voice recorder or call out a spirit, that’s conjuration and an amateur isn’t aware of that. There’s no telling what can and will respond…and follow you home. This is irresponsible on the owner’s part—first, by putting what psychics or an EVP or an odd feeling someone translates into “little girl ghost Suzie” down on the HISTORY page as FACT. Second, by attributing paranormal or supernatural events as being the actions of a specific named entity, the owner is creating a false narrative or mythology for the location. There isn’t really any way to prove the claim on any front.

An investigator can, perhaps, after a LOT of investigation, feel fairly confident in a hypothesis about a historical figure being part of a haunting. Usually, that’s in residual hauntings—like Lincoln’s ghost in the White House, for example. A person who witnesses a full-bodied apparition and later is shown a group of pictures of people who lived on the property and recognizes one of the photos as being the ghost he saw can create a reasonable assumption the entity is that historical resident. But either of these types of confirmation is extremely rare.

In this case, these definitive identification of entities as the historical residents on the property is just creating a reckless and ultimately reckless mythology for the site, making it more dangerous for investigators, paranormal tourists, and residents alike. (Author's note post-investigation: this also generates an interesting factor when the subsequent investigation led the team to a doll as the apex of the haunting. You'll note that the owner of the BSI states in an interview that someone goes into that room every couple of weeks to "talk to the dolls". That's a conjuration, and may be the entire reason the inn has any intelligent haunting at all. Chances are correspondingly greater that this is a dark or demonic entity, lured in under the guise of sweet little Suzie, and may have taken up residence in the doll. Annabelle, anyone?)


Website: Henry and Sam Mahler were known as the Cotton Kings. They lived on the property with 200 acres after Marie died.

Henry and Marie's son, Dan, and his wife, Mary Mahler, lived on the property with 237 acres. They sold the house and surrounding land to two sisters and their husbands in 1941.

Katherine S. Joline Holbrook (9/17/1883 - 1/27/1950) and Joseph "John" Younger Holbrook (4/6/1879 - 9/3/1960), along with Mary Blanche Joline Woods (7/8/1887 - 1/17/1976) and Claude B. Woods (10/31/1882 - 1/17/1935) purchased the property. The sisters called the house White Gables. They conducted extensive remodeling, adding two wings to enlarge the mansion to accommodate the two families. The house was then called "White Gables". After purchasing more land a second house was built in 1901 but it later burnt down.

Fact: Here’s where the ‘history’ contradicts itself directly. Earlier on the page, the website states that: Henry and Marie Mahler bought the property on January 10, 1887. They built the first house on the property in 1887 (Bexar County Appraisal District shows 1902 and San Antonio Conservation Society shows 1901 for the year built).Then the Holbrooks/Woods family purchase the property and evidently adds the two wings to the house, and then a second house was built in 1901 but it ultimately burned down. But this narrative doesn’t match up precisely.

At first, the website claims the “Prescott House” was built AFTER the Civil War. But—in 1867, the property was purchased by the Rippsteins, who I’m assuming lived over the dairy barn as would be normal for them as German/Swiss immigrants. So what happened to the Prescott House, that the website claims was built after the Civil War?

In 1887, then, the Mahlers bought the location “and built the first house” on the property, a fact that’s disputed by two different agencies in the Appraisal Department and the Conservation Department, which have the dates for this house as 1901 or 1902. Now we have the Holbrook/Woods family adding two wings and building a second house that burns down. What we DON’T have anywhere on this website is an undisputed and definitive date when the house that exists on the property was built.

In the book  Battles and Men of the Republic of Texas by Arthur Wylie, however, the author states that:

After forming 140 Texian volunteers Caldwell marched for Cibolo Creek, twenty miles from San Antonio. A little later Caldwell moved his camp thirteen miles closer to the city along Salado Creek near the Prescot (sic) House. Altogether, about 220 Texians had been assembled to fight the Mexicans…

This version of events is backed up by the Texas State Historical Association. So there was a house close to the Black Swan Inn called the Prescott house that pre-dates the battle, and as was pointed out earlier the current building is not in the proper location on the map to have been the Prescott house.

So my best guess without actually going in person to the County Clerk’s office and digging out plat books is that the Prescott house was not on the property now associated with the Black Swan Inn, that the first two families lived over the barn in an old-country ‘house barn’, and that the first possible date for the current residence to have been built is the 1901/1902 date that the Appraiser’s Department and the San Antonio Conservation Department have listed on official San Antonio documents.

Therefore the house currently known as the Black Swan Inn wasn’t erected until 60 years after the battle, and has nothing to do with the battle save for the fact that the Mexicans rode over it on their way to be shot to pieces by the Texians holed up in the creek bottom.

That would also discount any possibility of a Rittspein/Mahler historical figure haunting the current house, because they would never have lived there. This would be an easy mistake to make for any amateur researcher, who wouldn’t be able to untangle the “house barn” mystery and subsequently ended up with multiple “first house” possibilities on the property.

Website: Attorney Hall Park Street, Jr. (11/10/1909 - 8/4/1965) and Joline Woods Street (12/15/1912 - 12/22/1959). They inherited the house in 1952 from Joline's mother, Claude Woods. After the deaths of Mr. and Mrs. Holbrook and Mr. Woods, Mrs. Woods lived in the house with her son-in-law, Park, and her daughter, Joline. During this time a second story was added to the main house. While Park and Joline owned the property Earle Stanley Gardner visited the house and wrote some of his famed Perry Mason television series scripts here. Joline died of breast cancer in 1959. Park, Jr. was later found dead in 1965 hung by a neck tie with his hands tied behind his back...the death was ruled a suicide. They were survived by their daughter, Joline "Jingles", who was only 19 at the time and their son, Hall Park Street III. (no vital records found). Park Street supposedly committed suicide by hanging himself in the house, though this has been a highly controversial subject. A psychic consultant with Syfy's television program Sightings communicated with former resident, Hall Park Street, whom he believed was murdered in a south wing closet, then moved to another location, where the murderer made the death look like a suicide. They believe Street was killed because of a treasure he still guards in the south wing. Others believe that Heinrich ghost drove Park to commit suicide. The most unnerving spectral presence at the property is that of a man who has been spotted stalking angrily all over the house. Rumor has it that he is the ghost of Hall Park Street. Is he perhaps looking for his beloved wife Joline, whose spirit is also said to haunt the Inn after tragedy struck her at the tender age of thirty-eight when she died of cancer. Dressed in a luxurious white gown with a beaded jeweled medallion in from of headband with a feather at the back over her dark hair, this is a very beautiful female spirit roams the property aimlessly, especially around the gazebo, but Park and Joline never seem to meet.

Fact: Okay here’s where things get egregiously wrong. Thanks to the August 7, 1965 edition of the San Antonio Express and News, the fact-checking for this section of the website was easy. HALL PARK STREET JR DID NOT KILL HIMSELF AT WHAT IS NOW KNOWN AS THE BLACK SWAN INN OR ANYWHERE ON THE PROPERTY AT ALL. Street committed suicide at his home in the affluent Oak Park neighborhood, 401 Northridge Drive, which is 2.9 miles away. He also didn’t bother to mourn his first wife, Joline, all that much because he was already remarried at the time of his death in 1965. So there is no treasure in the south wing that Street was killed over and the murdered/moved. There is no chance that the vengeful ghost of Heinrich Rittspein drove him to suicide when Street was a nine-minute drive away from the property in his new house when he killed himself, and absolutely zero possibility that’s he’s stalking the house because he’s heartbroken over Joline’s death.

So no, they aren’t trying to find each other in vain.

What this IS representative of, however, is the worst kind of mythology creation that is perpetrated by someone needing to exploit the paranormal for reasons other than research/investigation. As for Street’s son, Hall Park Street III—while the owner claimed to find no vital records for him, I did find him—still living, in Austin, TX after a 30 second Google search. He can be found at https://www.parkstreets.com/ where he has this to say:

A native Texan born in San Antonio, I am the son of a noted lawyer and my godfather was the world's bestselling author of his time, Erle Stanley Gardner, of Perry Mason fame. My father was a member of the Court of Last Resort, a group of lawyers and forensic experts who worked to get prisoners they felt unjustly convicted new trials. Some of my fondest memories of my father was us driving from one state prison to another where he interviewed prisoners. I always got a kick out of seeing my dad in the opening credits of the TV show they made about the Court of Last Resort which showed for two seasons. I grew up in what is now one of the most haunted houses in Texas. It was spooky but not as spooky as it has been made out to be.

Bolding mine, for emphasis. He’s now a renowned photographer based out of Austin after careers in the law and foreign importing, and can be reached via his website. Might be a worthwhile on camera interview depending on how the investigation goes. I assume that Hall Park Street III, therefore, has vital records for anyone who cares to look.

The remainder of the “history” section on the website is modern, taking us through the Mehrens’ ownership, who bought the house in 1973. I would assume that either Joline the younger lived in the house between 1965 and 1973—she was 19 and evidently a recent bride in Wisconsin when her father committed suicide--or that the house was rented out after Joline the elder passed away in 1959. The Mehrens sold the house to Werner Schmidt in 1980. The house went into what appears to be some form of seizure, ending up as the property of Sunbelt Self-Storage in 1987 before being ultimately sold to Jo Ann Marks Andrews Rivera in 1991. She named the property the Victoria's Black Swan Inn, and built up a paranormal tourism site/B&B/Events business while living with her family on the site.

Other information on the location: Recent reviews of the Black Swan Inn have included growing accounts that the property is not just run down, but falling apart and filthy. There are reports of insect and rodent infestation—highlighted by the Ghost Adventures episode where they left a static cam rolling on the owner’s children all night due to her claim that something was ‘pinching’ them as they slept. Turned out to be a fat, juicy rat instead.

There have also been negative reports left on the quality of the food at catered events, at the rudeness of the owner and the staff, and on a few occasions “absolutely ruining” weddings held there. Refusing to turn on the air conditioning for a summer wedding in Central Texas is a recurring theme, as is the owner taking drinks out of people’s hands and pouring them out. Take that FWIW.

The Rivera family appears to live on the second floor of the main house, and the house didn’t have a second story until the Street family added it between 1952 and 1965. So any paranormal phenomena up there should be surprising.

Conclusion: There’s a long provenance of modern paranormal teams gathering evidence at the Black Swan Inn, but there are no contemporary reports of paranormal events prior to Ms. Rivera’s ownership of the property. The ties to the Battle of Salado are tenuous, the stated history of the house is so unreliable that there’s not even a solid date of when the building was even built. And the suicide or murder/suicide the website wants prospective clients to believe happened in the house actually occurred in a different house almost 3 miles away.

The overall purpose of the website is to push the paranormal agenda to the exclusion of anything else in my opinion. The “history” in the history/about section of the website is peppered with references to spirits that are allegedly the former residents of the house despite the house not even being built yet. So this isn’t a history. It’s a mythology, comprised of historical half-truths and what psychics have said about the property despite the constant contradiction or even downright falsehoods (like the Street suicide) in order to make this house appear more haunted than it evidently was when Hall Park Street III grew up.

All this being said, though, considering the uses to which the house is put, the weekly ghost tours and ghost hunts, the scrying closet’s constant use and the seances in the room outside it, what you have here is a paranormal time bomb. IF there’s a haunting at this location, I’d find it almost impossible to attribute activity to the former residents on the property. I’m more inclined to think that whatever is contributing to the ‘escalating’ negative activity on the location is the result of the constant conjuration going on there, opening doors without knowing how to shut them again. That would strand human entities there, probably pissing them off. However, that open door leaves the house and ground vulnerable to demonic infestation, which much be strongly suspected headed in.

Author's note, post-investigation: It's my opinion now that the investigation is completed that the paragraph above this one was the correct prognosis for the paranormal activity in Victoria's Black Swan Inn. The team, therefore, caught no evidence to support the owner/website claims save with a doll most likely empowered through regular and ritual conjuration. 

Sunday, December 22, 2019

The Aftermath: How Alzheimer's Reinforced My Agnosticism

Dear God--if there is such a thing--ease my father's confusion tonight. Allow his fears to dwindle. Give him ease; grant him rest. Let him sleep sweetly, buried in the memories that are lost to him in the waking nightmares that torment him every day. Let him learn once more how to revel in the fleeting joys--a walk outside, or the deep-hued hue of a winter's night sky that sets the snow to glittering darkly. Let him dream of himself--not the self that's burdened by so much fear and anger right now but the younger self. The gentler self that fears nothing. 

Yes, please God--ease my father's confusion tonight. Let him be free of fear.

Dear God--if You really exist--let my father have moments when he remembers that he is loved...so loved by his wife; his children; his grandchildren; his great-grandchildren. Let the clouds of confusion melt away, so he once more is eased by the thought that his name, his history will not be forgotten. Let him remember--even for the briefest moment--who I am, what my name is, all the laughs and tears and anger and longing that any father feels for his daughter, his oldest child. Let him look on me with that lost clarity, and find it again even if it's only for ten seconds.

Yes, God--let my father feel loved tonight. Let him remember me.

Dear God--You know why I doubt that a deity exists--let my father prepare for his last great journey in the silent and now echoing in the vaults of memory that were once packed with the thousands of moments he collected in an amazing, full life. Husband and father, brother and grandfather, friend and ally, soldier and businessmen. My father's life reads like a bestselling novel of a man who learned how to live and sacrificed everything for his family's sake. Strengthen the child who grew to manhood in rural Tennessee, unable to attend more than half the school year because he was needed on the farm. Strengthen the young man who dreamed of being an architect, but joined the Army instead. Fortify him, like he swallowed his shyness long enough to approach a beautiful French ballet dancer while stationed in Paris post-Korean War and with her, founded a family.

Yes, God--let my father remember the courage he had tonight. Let him regain it, just once.

Dear God--why don't You answer me? We both know that I have good reason to doubt Your existence. What You've inflicted on my father is almost the nail in the coffin. Atheism is easier; agnosticism is faster. Either would have left me with no one to be angry with right now. I'd only be able to rage against the vagaries of fate. But my dad had faith. A lot of faith.

Did You take that from him too? Or did You leave him on his own, confused by Your silence?

Well, I don't have faith in You. Once I did. Once I believed in You and prayed to You and You never had anything to say to me. So now I'm talking to you again. It's hard not to feel like my father's condition is somehow my fault, that because of decisions I have made some omniscient power determined that the best punishment on me for MY behavior was to transfer its divine ire on my father. That's the kind of thinking that makes me look over my shoulder...makes me think that maybe I should place my faith in You again so I can find the answers to my questions.

But only for a moment. After that split-second of consideration, I flip right back to rage again. I'm angry at everyone. I'm angry at the doctors who didn't catch this sooner. I'm angry at the people who guessed his condition, and exploited it in business deals. I'm angry at the family, who left my stepmother to cope with him all by herself. I'm angry at my brother, who lives five minutes away but can't be bothered to help my father out.

I'm angry at my dad.

I'm furious with myself.

I'm enraged at You.

Yes, You. If You exist, then this is unforgivable. To take my father's mind, his memories, and replace them with confusion and fear is a torture method that make the Spanish Inquisition look commonplace. To reduce the brilliance of my father's intellect and to replace it with a vacuum that cannot be filled...is that how You reward people with faith? Is this disease the culmination of all those years when he tried to live by the precepts of Your church?

And You wonder why I turned my back on you for the last time. I turned away from You the first time when my best friend, who had the purest and most intense faith I've ever seen, died in that freak car wreck. That made me an agnostic at eighteen. Then I turned away again and instead watched helplessly as scores of young men were eradicated thanks to AIDS. That hardened my resolve against you. I walked precariously along the tightrope stretched between agnosticism and atheism. I prayed until I couldn't say another word, my throat ravaged with crying as my daughter was so consistently abused and I never got any sort of response from You. The abuse she endured continued, and I fell off that tightrope and rejected all belief that You or any other deity would intervene.

Now I'm mad at you again because what's happened to Dad is something I consider unforgivable.

For the first time, I'm sending a double-bird to heaven. I'll never forgive You for this. Never. To hell with platitudes or psalms or the power of prayer. Prayer is the spiritual equivalent to yelling in a cave for help. There's no response save for my own voice rebounding to me.

No. Wait. That's not right. I did hear one thing. I heard the fear in my father's voice when he asked, "Are you just throwing me away?" when he was admitted to the hospital and visiting time was over. I heard the despair, the longing, the confusion, the terror...

What am I supposed to tell him. You tell me: what am I supposed to tell my father, who honored You every day of his eighty-four years when he asks me, "Are you just throwing me away? What's wrong with me?"

My father deserved a better end than the one that's been given him.

Heh.I just read through this again. Funny in a way. I'm writing a blog post berating God, which is a concept that my analytical mind just could not accept. This is a child's reaction, a child's deferral of guilt from herself to someone or something wholly unrelated.

Yes, it sounds like the ranting of a child--which it is. This post is the ranting of an adult child. My father's child. Ostensibly Your child too, if the Bible is to be believed. So if You're out there, and I have no reason to think You are, answer me these questions.

Will You be throwing me away too? Like You've done my father?

Why?

I'll wait. I look forward to once again not hearing You.




Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Paranormal Research Part 2: The Haunted Monroe House

This article concludes the two-part paranormal research series of blog posts, continuing the history of the haunted Monroe House.

When researching a haunted location, the purpose isn’t to prove the legends but to establish a connective thread between what the legends and claims say and events that can be substantiated by documents. And in this case, the evidence is building. Beginning with the violent and abusive situation in the Miars’ household, a pattern emerged that included paranormal activity, suspected infidelity, and bizarre accidents and misfortunes to the families that lived there. The Berger family was originally suspected as the source of the haunting, with some claims that John B. Berger was a violent and abusive barkeeper who punished his kids brutally. That doesn’t hold water, with the Hartford City News Telegram eulogizing him as “a man of sterling qualities, honorable to the core. He was big-hearted and genial and it is doubtful if any man in the city had more friends.”
And of course, John B. Berger was dead when the public fiasco of the Miars’ marriage became public knowledge.

In that period between 1907-1911, when the Miars’ behavior became fodder for the town gossips and their claims of desertion, cruelty, and the violent abuse of their children was hashed out in the courts and the newspaper, a series of strange disasters befell the Berger family at the same time—a shooting as the result of a hate crime; frostbite and a horse’s foot turned into gangrene and an amputation; death in childbirth; a carriage wheel falling off and resulting in a severe injury—these events seem to be interconnected with some strange energy or influence that both fueled and charged a sequence of tragic incidents that are unexplained.

The Miars children—Edna was eight, while Ernest was four—match up with the legends about the house, including a famous picture with two child-sized apparitions looking out from a window. The pattern of abuse also matches up with the claims of psychics and many of the EVPs and other communications received at the house, as well as the testimony of local residents who were brought up on stories about the residence. One medium said the energy of the haunting was fueled by an “angry jealous woman out for blood”. This, too, could refer to the Miars because the husband deserted his wife for another woman, and ran away to marry her illegally. That desertion of children was duplicated almost simultaneously by Frederick Nicaise, whose children lost their mother, Mary Berger Nicaise, in 1909 and by 1910 they’d lost their father as well. Perhaps he died, or left to find work and never returned. We don’t know, but the pattern of abandoned families seems to have continued.

And the pattern doesn’t stop there.

What makes Caroline Berger’s weird carriage accident in 1911 even more interesting is the gruesome death of Sydney Faulkner thirty years later. Faulkner lived in the upstairs apartment in 1940 with his wife, Myrl. He was killed August 18, 1940 when his car inexplicably struck the support beam of a bridge. The Muncie Star pulled no punches in its report of the accident: “The bridge beam was driven back through the car, piercing Faulkner's body, and both car and bridge were badly damaged. Use of acetylene torches was necessary before the body could be removed from the automobile."
Faulkner also had a passenger in the car: a woman not his wife. Mrs. WH Wolfe was with him that morning, and incredibly she wasn't injured.

Here again, the pattern emerges: potential infidelity and a strange accident while away from the home under suspicious circumstances.

While the Faulkners were living in the upstairs apartment, labeled as 220 ½ Monroe Street in the 1940 census, the house was owned by Harry B. Meyers, who lived downstairs with his wife, Emma, and their adult son Clayton, who was twenty-three. Meyers was a finishing superintendent at the paper mill which was the major industrial employer mid-century, and Clayton worked with him as a packer. After Sydney Faulkner’s tragic death, Myrl moved out of the upstairs apartment. A family with young children moved in later, and that’s when we start to get our first modern claims of paranormal activity, as evidenced by this August 12, 2016 comment left by an anonymous gentleman on a story about the Monroe House on HauntedHovel.com:
“I spent about six years of my childhood growing up in that house. I was always scared of the strange noises; they were not common but when it happened it sure got your attention fast. My mother would comfort me about the sounds and voices as a child but she mentioned years later about a woman she thought she had seen upstairs near my bedroom. She had always wondered if she had seen the apparition of the women who had taken her own life decades ago. I for one never liked the old house and was happy when we relocated in the early fifties to Muncie. Always been curious about the afterlife after my youthful experiences, and the house that brought it to my attention. Very good to find this site and pleased to see others chatting about the place. Brings a sense of normal to me who have spent seventy plus years in deep thought over my experiences(sic).”
But after 1940, we run into a brick wall researching the history of the Monroe House and the people who lived there. The last federal census made available to public research was 1940, since by law census details cannot be released until seventy years after the census date. Telephone directories become huge, and almost impossible to locate names by street address. The Monroe house became a rental property, although we have apocryphal online claims that previous landlords lived in the house until the late 1990s-early 2000s.

There are also claims that tenants in the house during the nineties were Satanists, and that their magic rituals and occult practices intensified the already-haunted property—claims that are lent credence by the objects that have since been purportedly discovered buried on the property: fetishes made of jewelry and human hair, wrapped in cloth; shorts that might have blood on them; and of course the discovery of the bones and skull fragments unearthed in the basement by investigators on a paranormal TV show.

It is important to note that there is absolutely no evidence to back up many of the legends’ claims. No one (that we can find) ever died in the house. There wasn’t a fire that killed a small child. In fact, there’s no evidence of the house catching on fire at any point after it was built in 1900. It’s also important, however, to mention that the original house on the property (the one built in the 1850s) may have burned down, and this house was constructed on top of what was left, incorporating wood that was physically sound but scorched.

What we did find was a series of bizarre and tragic events that could perhaps explain the origins of the haunting—and the stories that now have circulated in Hartford City for over seventy years.
In 2019, the investigations of the house are where the real questions now lie. The Monroe House has been vacant for over ten years, deserted by the living and occupied only by the dead…or the demonic, which has seemed to become the consensus around the property over the last five years. It remains to be seen as we continue to research the property what—if any—additional links can be added to the chain of documented events that still impact the house today.


Monday, December 16, 2019

It Feels Evil Paranormal Fact Checks--The Real History of Yorktown Memorial Hospital

Author's note--I conducted the research for LiveSciFi's investigation of Yorktown Memorial Hospital for the new Travel Channel show It Feels Evil. The local folklore has been related as "history" by the owners of the location and almost every paranormal investigation ever conducted. This dossier was made available to the production company before the show was filmed, and demonstrates why legitimate research is a necessary requirement for ANY paranormal investigation--and also how often that research is ignored in favor of folklore and downright lies. This dossier has been presented in its original form.

Almost every online source claims that over 2000 people died at Yorktown Memorial Hospital in Victoria, Texas. Unfortunately, as with so many other paranormal sites being run as tourist destinations, those claims have been wildly exaggerated. The facts tell an entirely different story. It appears that the majority of these claims stem from the Ghost Adventures investigation of the hospital or were initiated by an owner or interested party, and are being propagated by the guides on ‘historical’ or paranormal tours of the property 
But there is VERY little about Yorktown Memorial Hospital in the newspaper accounts of DeWitt County, Texas. At first I couldn’t figure out why. And then I realized the answer was actually very simple: Yorktown Memorial Hospital wasn’t a hospital the way we think of them today. The hospital was more like an overnight urgent care. It was created to handle childbirth and labor, minor/routine mostly outpatient surgeries, and to stabilize patients with emergency care before transporting patients to bigger facilities. This wasn’t a hospital designed to handle critical care. That’s the reason why claims of 2000 or even 500 deaths at the location have been grossly exaggerated, and why almost every newspaper article archived about the hospital is a birth announcement.  
According to records cited by Pam Culpepper of the Yorktown View-News, only 7 of the 33 years of the hospital’s existence ended with over 60% occupancy—of a 27-bed facility. These are the real statistics involving occupancy:  
1951 - 367 - 27.1%  
1952 - 624 - 33.1  
1953 - 778 - 38.9  
1954 - 773 - 41.3  
1955 - 700 - 52.8  
1956 - 689 - 50.0  
1957 - 607 - 48.1  
1958 - 717 - 53.9 
1959 - 741 - 52.9  
1960 - 713 - 55.0  
1961 - 700 - 41.0  
1962 - 630 - 74.7  
1963 - 617 - 64.6  
1964 - 546 - 65.1  
1965 - 529 - 52.1  
1966 - 577 - 58.5  
1967 - 569 - 58.6  
1968 - 579 - 72.3  
1969 - 578 - 66.6  
1970 - 585 - 64.5  
1971 - 592 - 62.1  
1972 - 560 - 64.5  
1973 - 476 - 57.4  
1974 - 458 - 54.1  
1975 - 495 - 46.1  
1976 - 518 - 52.2  
1977 - 448 - 39.3  
1978 - 484 - 41.4  
1979 - 596 - 45.5  
1980 - 452 - 39.5  
1981 - 494 - 46.4  
1982 - 654 - 52.7  
1983  655  44.4  

That’s 19,501 total admissions in 33 years, meaning that in order for over 2,000 people to have died in the hospital, roughly one out of every ten people admitted would have had to died. Obviously, that’s statistically impossible. Any hospital would have been shut down long before 1984 with statistics like that, and particularly such a small hospital. The other number quoted frequently is 500 deaths, which is one out of forty admissions, but that seems rather high as well. This wasn’t a hospital designed for the kind of health care that would result in a high number of deaths. boots on the ground researcher would more than likely be able to find the exact number of deaths in the hospital, but the rough average of deaths per admissions nationally is about 2.4% according the CDC (775,000 deaths per 31.7 million hospital admissions in 2000; 776,000 deaths per 35.1 million admissions in 2010). (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db118.htm 
That being said, it’s important to understand that this hospital was not equipped to do major surgeries, provide long-term health care, or to provide critical care. According to a history of the hospital in the DeWitt County View of June 27, 1984:  
“In the spring of 1946 when the Dr. Allen Community Hospital of Yorktown was converted into a rest home for the aged, the city was left without a place to meet emergency needs, much less to handle births or ordinary surgery. It was then that agitation began in earnest to build a community hospital.”  
That hospital opened on March 25, 1951. The building is a cross-shaped single story with only the center section having a second story. The second story is the convent for the nuns who staffed the hospital, including living quarters and a chapel. When the hospital opened its doors, there 
were ten doctors and nine nuns on the staff for the 27-bed facility.  
After the closing of the local hospital when it was turned into a nursing home facility in 1946, the people of Yorktown came together to have a new hospital created for births, minor surgeries, and emergency situations—a place to stabilize patients before transferring them to a larger facility. By June of 1949, $150,000 had been raised, and when the committee in charge of the facility sought a religious organization to help the local Catholic priest suggested the Felician Sisters. 
The Felician Sisters are a Franciscan order of nuns whose members profess public vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. Mrs. Louis Streiber, widow of a former town mayor, donated ten acres for the hospital, and that’s where the facility was built.  
Something to know about the Felician Sisters here—the sisters were the last people paid for their work, and they were paid at a rate far less than what laypersons received: 
 “The Sisters, who comprise one-third of the professional help are on a salary much lower than the going rate for their respective positions. Their salaries are sent to the Motherhouse for the upkeep of the Motherhouse, education of the young Sisters, and medical care for the sick and elderly Sisters. Only after all has been paid, employee salaries and suppliers bills, do the Sisters get paid. Their salary has been in arrears many, many times for as long as found months until such time that enough cash flow was available to pay them. Each year’s audit confirms the fact that without the lowered rate of pay to the Sisters, the hospital could not have survived. The auditors and those in the financial know-how are amazed that the hospital has existed in spite of all the financial obstacles, primarily because of low patient census. The relief, the substitutions, and the 24-hour back up and call by the Sisters are the basic reason for the Yorktown Memorial Hospital's survival to the 80's.”  
This makes sense, particularly when the hospital finished in the black only 7 years out of its existence. So taking into consideration these factors, the place of Yorktown Memorial Hospital in the community wasn’t that of a normal hospital, and the death statistics that were reported by a previous TV investigation were grossly exaggerated. After all, Yorktown’s population has hovered right at 2,000 for fifty years. I went through forty years of newspaper articles in the DeWitt County newspapers. Ninety percent of the mentions in the paper were birth notices. The remaining ten percent were announcement of board meetings, events notices, and death notices which were almost all events that had happened elsewhere—like massive heart attacks at home—but were brought to the facility for a doctor’s care and confirmation of a DOA.
  
There was no suicide-murder-love triangle involving patients and staff ever reported at the facility. There was no death notice for a little girl (more on this later). There was no notice of the death of a man named Doug Richards in 1973. There is no article or report of Dr. Leon Norwierski having slit a patient’s throat during a thyroid surgery resulting in that patient’s death or any other allegations of incompetence. (Note here that if a doctor made that kind of horrific mistake, he’d be sued for malpractice and his medical license revoked. While I can find articles Dr. Norwierski wrote for the American Journal of Medicine, there is no indication anywhere that he was sued or his license revoked for incompetence. Current libel/slander laws state that once a person is dead, you cannot libel or slander them legally so everything’s fair game. That’s a dead shame because this facility and the groups that just copy/paste the history seem to be slandering a doctor who did nothing but good for that town.) There were no articles or reports that anyone died at the back door of the hospital from a drug overdose when his friends just left him at the ER entrance and rang the night bell for a nun to come find him. 
All that being said, what we seem to find here at Yorktown is the gradual creation of folklore built around an abandoned building. When the hospital was finally closed, it just sat there and rotted. Kids broke into the building, turning it into a hangout. Also, keep in mind that the second floor of the central hallway was a convent with the chapel and altar still intact. Considering that paranormal activity has spread across the street to the feed store/lumber yard and the second floor there is particularly active, it’s a reasonable assumption that the Felician Sisters’ convent, chapel, and living quarters have been defiled or desecrated. There’s no telling what happened in those area before steps were taken to stop/prevent trespassers 
However, here’s a tidbit that might interest you: After the hospital closed it was then converted into a drug rehabilitation facility, which was eventually halted by the state for their inability to contain their patients. One example of this claim is of a patient that exited the facility, who then walked across the street to the local feed store where they slapped an employee across the face.” 
So there does appear to be at least an allegorical tie established between the feed store and the hospital, which could explain why the energy from the hospital is allegedly showing up across the street now.  And it does make sense that the nuns were incapable of keeping rehab patients confined and on the property. So I started thinking about the “TJ” who allegedly died outside the emergency entrance when he was dumped there by his friends after a heroin overdose. I thought that just maybe the legend was being told backwards, and that he was a patient who got out of the hospital without the nuns’ notice and subsequently tried to get back in at night when the place was locked up and couldn’t. But…no. Still no TJ deaths listed in any of the DeWitt county newspapers. Since death records are sealed in Texas for 75 years, the newspapers are the only avenue I’ve got. 
According to the DeWitt County Appraisal District Tax Rolls, the hospital ownership since it closed is as follows. City to James D. Short (no date), James D. Short to Short Family Trust (5/26/1995), Short Family Trust to Herbert Schaefer (11/25/1998), and Short Family Trust to Phillip M. Ross (8/07/2008), Phillip M. Ross to Jo Ann Marks Andrews Rivera.  
A couple of things to mention—caretaker Mike Henson has told stories about seeing strange black creatures/masses in the hospital corridors that are “about the size of an adult German Shepherd”—which ties into a theory I have regarding demonic/negative haunts like the Bell Witch or the Welles House where this type of thing has been documented. Same thing with the little girl ghost—something that pops up all the time in demonic hauntings like the Sallie House. That would really make me focus on the second story and the chapel/convent during the investigation. I think you’ll be more likely to find evidence of desecration and that would explain the hauntings on this property.  
While there were naturally some deaths in the hospital--most likely fewer than 100--I’ve found nothing to indicate that any of those deaths were connected to the reported ghosts that haunt this location. I’d be inclined to think that if Dr. Leon Norwierski haunts the ER/OR area, it would be as a residual entity. I’ve found no evidence of the other named ghosts to back up those claims. There were no reports of a double homicide in the basement and the “blood spatter” (if that’s what it is and I’d use luminol to test it) either post-dates the hospital when a trespasser injured themselves or a maintenance worker using a sharp tool injured himself—which makes sense seeing as the alleged blood is in a boiler room in the basement.  
By passing on these legends as fact, the management of the Yorktown Memorial Hospital facility is recklessly endangering visitors and investigators of the site by sending them out thinking the entities are innocuous only for them to find something completely different. Out of all the stories I’ve found/researched, I’d be most interested in the link between the feed store and the hospital, which at least seems to be corroborated. For a haunting to spread that distance, I’d consider this to be a demonic infestation caused by a combination of thirty years of trespassers’ legends, misinformation, and the perpetuation of that misinformation by ownership, a previous televised investigation that seems to just have made stuff up, and tour guides/paranormal guides who reinforce those false legends on a daily basis.  
However, not everything’s been good between the ownership of the hospital and the town of Yorktown. Local residents who were born at the hospital or witnessed the death of someone they loved at the hospital are horrified at the use the hospital’s been put to. In 2010, the city forced previous owner Phillip Ross to close the hospital for code violations. After a complaint by someone who had visited the site, the county building inspector and codes officer were denied entry into the hospital. When a judge issued a court order to the owner, a group of county and town officials entered the building, eventually finding code violations in the electricity, the structure, and the plumbing. The city administrator added that the two hours he spent in the building during the inspection didn't have him fearing ghosts. 
"If I am scared of anything in that building, it's tetanus," Puente said. 
ETA: I am waiting for a couple of phone calls that might impact this dossier, but I doubt it. I’m currently trying to dig out whatever I can on the drug rehab center but the powers that be in that town don’t seem to want to discuss it. As best I can tell after an extensive search of the historical record as documented by newspapers and personal accounts, none of the published stories regarding the hospital are based upon actual historical fact. Any haunting there—and there’s an extensive provenance to support the fact that the building is haunted—has to have been engineered by what happened on and to the location after it was decommissioned as a hospital and abandoned for a number of years before being turned into a paranormal attraction. And considering the nature and spread of the haunting, there seems to be evidence that the haunting began with the desecration of the convent and chapel and is now fueled by a steady stream of investigators and tourists and the energy they bring to the site.