Te Wairoa, also known as the Buried Village, is a deserted village in New Zealand as a result of the Mount Tarawera volcanic eruption that affected the city, Rotorua. The event has been deemed New Zealand’s greatest natural disaster to date.
Perhaps you’ve heard of the native American woman activist, Sarah Winnemucca. As a child, her birth name was Thocmetony, which means “Shell Flower.” She was born near Humboldt Lake, Nevada, just around the Gold Rush period in 1844. Sarah was part of her tribe’s “royal family” because her father and grandfather were Northern Paiute chiefs.
The story of The Red Ghost of the American Midwest is a morbid, grisly one. It is filled with the “demon beasts” and mysterious intrigue of 19th-century American territories.
A Gruesome Ghost StoryThe tale begins in 1883 with two women on a ranch at Eagle Creek near the border of Arizona and New Mexico. The women were home alone with their children when one woman went out to the stream to collect water. A few minutes later, their dog started to bark, and the second woman went to the window. She heard terrible screams but was too terrified to do anything; she would later describe seeing something huge, red, and “ridden by a devil.” When the men of the house returned later that day and heard what happened, they went out to investigate. The first woman lay trampled and dead in the mud. Around her were huge hoof prints, bigger than a horse’s. Caught in the brush were strands of red hair. A few days later, two men who had come to sift for gold were camping by Chase’s Creek, several miles northeast of Eagle Creek. They were woken up to their tent crashing down around them. The men heard a scream and the battering of hooves. They saw the form of what looked like a gigantic horse scurrying away through the bushes. After they recounted the tale to the other miners at the mining camp, a few miners accompanied them back to the scene to take a look. They found enormous hoof prints and long, red hairs stuck to the bushes. The narrative of the “Red Ghost” spread throughout the area, told by miners and workers around the campfire. Many were skeptical by what they heard, and as campfire stories are wont to do, the tales began to grow taller and wilder. One report claimed that someone witnessed the beast devouring an entire grizzly bear. Another declared a man had chased the animal down just to see it vanish into thin air.
The History Behind the TaleBut why were camels even roaming around 19th century Arizona in the first place? Just before the Civil War started, Secretary of War Jefferson Davis implemented the importation of 75 camels into the United States. The idea was to employ them to survey the widespread land of the west, and to carry supplies between military outposts. Many of them were kept at Camp Verde in Texas and used for short trips to San Antonio. Eventually, two dozen camels were sent on a 1,200-mile expedition through the arid desert in the middle of the summer heat to California. They were able to accomplish what horses would never have been capable of. However, after only about a decade, most of the camels ended up being sold at auction. By the 1880s, the majority of camels had been set free to wander about the territory. How a man came to be strapped to a camel and destined to a deadly fate remains to be seen.
Western Fact or Fiction?Just how much of this macabre tale is fact and how much is fiction will perhaps forever be unknown, but this much is true: the story of The Red Ghost is one of the most exhilarating ghost stories emblematic of the American West.
Jane Rebecca York is most widely recognized for being the last person convicted under the Witchcraft Act of 1735. Parliament in the Kingdom of Great Britain passed the law to prohibit any person from practicing witchcraft. If found guilty, instead of being hunted or executed for his or her crimes, the person would be sentenced to imprisonment. The maximum prison sentence was one year. This act ultimately marked the end of the witch trials of the early modern period.
Jane, The MediumJane Rebecca Yorke was born on January 27, 1872, in England. She was a medium who practiced in Forest Gate, east London. Several witnesses claimed to have seen her conducting seances and summoning spirits of those she encountered on the streets. Her conduct in public as a medium was not necessarily pleasant, and she was known to cause a ruckus. Complaints were commonly made to the police that she was cheating the public and capitalizing on wartime fears. This was due to Jane’s consistent use of war references during her seances. Other witnesses claimed to have seen her frighten a woman on the streets by telling her that she saw the spirit of her dead brother. She also warned the woman that her husband’s life was in danger. This ultimately made the woman hysterical, causing witnesses to the exchange to become distrustful and fearful of Jane. Aside from her direct interactions with the spirits of the people she met in public, she also made other predictions and assertions. One of her later magical claims was that she had the ability to summon widely recognized spirits including Queen Victoria with the help of her Zulu spirit guide. The Zulu are an ethnic group from South Africa primarily known for their ceremonial practices and unique belief systems. She also predicted that the Second World War would end in October of 1944. This prediction was proven untrue. The war ended in September of 1945.
Investigation Against JaneOnce the police were informed of her practices, they decided to go undercover and pretend to be clients. They formulated a plan to ask about non-existent family members to catch her in the act of fraudulent storytelling and encounters with the dead. During these seances with the undercover police, Jane made detailed claims that these non-existent family members were burned alive during a bombing mission. Jane states that she was provided with this information by her spirit guide.
Trial and SentencingLaw enforcement officials and the general public eventually caught on to her false narratives. She was officially arrested by police in July of 1944, her trial set in September of that same year. The trial took place at London’s Central Criminal Court. She was found guilty on seven counts according to the Witchcraft Act of 1735. She was given a very light sentence due to her old age — she was 72 at the time of her conviction. She was sentenced to good behavior for three years and fined five pounds, as long as she no longer performed seances or scared the public with her vivid storytelling.
Was Jane Actually a Medium?It is unclear whether Jane was a real medium due to the countless witnesses disproving her claims. What makes her story particularly conflicting are the comparisons of witness accounts between her story and those who preceded her. Helen Duncan was the last person imprisoned under the Witchcraft Act of 1735. She was also a medium and frequently practiced her clairvoyant ability. What makes Helen and Jane’s stories different are witness accounts supporting Helen’s authenticity. The most unique aspect of Helen’s case was the use of ectoplasm during seances. Ectoplasm is described as a substance exuded from the ghostly body. However, it was still difficult to identify the substance as real due to lack of research and understanding at the time. Unlike Helen, Jane had no concrete evidence to support her claims, leaving many to believe that she was a fake. Even to this day, little is known about unique spiritual abilities and research is still being conducted to study the phenomenon.
AftermathJane’s trial marks the end of the western world’s witchcraft trials. The Witchcraft Act of 1735 was eventually phased out in the 1950s.
For more than seven decades American roads were dotted with the familiar orange roof and blue cupola of the ubiquitous Howard Johnson’s restaurants and Motor Lodges. The company’s founder and namesake was a grade school dropout who became a franchising pioneer and introduced the restaurant industry to centralized purchasing. Johnson repeated his formula with motor lodges, creating one of the world’s largest hotel chains. In 1965 Howard Johnson’s sales exceeded the combined sales of McDonald’s, Burger King, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. By 1979 the “Host of the Highways” had become the largest hospitality company in America, with more than 1,000 restaurants and 500 motor lodges. But the company saw a decline of its rule over the roadways in the 1970s after a series of events destroyed the company’s earnings. Over the last decade and under new ownership “HoJo” hotels have thrived, but the final dozen restaurants were left to rot. Today all have closed, except one.
Chang and Eng Bunker were Siamese-American conjoined twins born on May 11, 1811. They are most widely recognized for coining the phrase “Siamese twins,” which is generally used to this day to refer to conjoined twins. Little was known at the time about conjoined twins, and because of its rarity, they were two of the most widely studied humans within the 19th century.
The “First” Siamese TwinsChang and Eng were born in what we today know as Thailand. They were joined at the sternum by a band of flesh and cartilage about five inches long and nine inches in circumference. Their livers were also connected. Upon consulting various medical professionals, the brothers were urged not to attempt surgery to separate them. At the time, medical technology was not advanced enough for a successful operation.
Their Life in the United StatesChang and Eng left for the United States in 1829. They were only seventeen years old. Their popularity skyrocketed after they became heavily involved in “freak shows.” However, after three years of consistent involvement in shows, they decided to tour on their own. They quickly found financial success. Upon their departure, they expressed that their managers had been cheating them of money. The brothers often performed athletic stunts, including running, somersaults, and swimming. They also played checkers and performed parlor tricks. Tickets for the show cost about 25 cents, and souvenirs, such as pamphlets or drawings of the men, were often sold at the shows as well.
The Pre-/Post-Civil War YearsIn 1839, after nearly a decade of touring, the brothers decided to settle down and quit their current lifestyle. They moved to North Carolina and became citizens of the United States. Chang and Eng married local sisters and raised 21 children. Many of their children ultimately ended up touring with their fathers once they came out of “retirement.” The brothers even owned slaves in North Carolina up until the end of the Civil War. In the years following the war, they lost their slaves and a portion of their wealth as well. This is ultimately what caused the brothers to continue touring. However, many audiences in the north were unsupportive of them due to their slaveholding practices in the south. To combat this continuous criticism, the brothers presented themselves as old men with many children who simply supported their state during the period. They were even outspoken about several of their sons who were harmed during the war, even though they were part of the Confederate States Army. This made the audience angry. Many believed the men were attempting to take advantage of them.
Health ProblemsIn 1870, Chang and Eng visited Russia and Germany with plans to explore other parts of Europe. They returned home soon after to avoid the Franco-Prussian War. During the journey back home, Chang suffered a stroke on the ship and his right side became paralyzed. As a result of Chang’s medical condition, the brothers decided to retire from touring altogether, even though Eng remained in good health. Chang’s condition continually deteriorated and he began drinking heavily. Eventually, his right leg was slung. Chang developed bronchitis four years later in January 1874. He was urged by medical professionals to stay indoors to avoid the cold weather. Still, against this advice, the brothers traveled to Eng’s house on January 15, further exposing Chang to harsh weather. The next day, Chang appeared to have recovered from the previous day of travel. However, that same night he found himself having difficulty breathing, so they decided to sit upright in a chair for the night. Eng quickly became paranoid about spending nearly an entire week with his brother being ill and urged Chang to lay in bed instead.
The Death of Chang and EngEarly the next morning, one of Eng’s sons came to check on the twins. He found Chang dead beside his brother. Still alive, Eng expressed that he must go also. About two hours after Chang’s death, Eng passed away before the family physician could assist him. Chang and Eng’s body was autopsied and researched following their death. They are buried in North Carolina. Their fused livers are currently displayed in a jar at Mutter Museum in Philadelphia.
Herbert George Wells, the internationally celebrated English writer, was born in the Bromley area of Kent, England, on September 21st, 1866. He was a renowned novelist, historian, teacher, and journalist. HG Wells penned dozens of artistic works, including short stories, novels, autobiographies, and biographies. The author was particularly acclaimed as a gifted writer of science fiction. Well’s book, The Time Machine, is a highly acclaimed and phenomenal work that catapulted him to literary fame. Other famous titles by Wells include War of the Worlds and The Invisible Man. The renowned author, who was dubbed as “the Shakespearean father of science fiction,” died in 1946. Despite his fame as a distinguished man of letters, the secret life of HG Wells, particularly his erotic liaisons with a coterie of women, is both controversial and shocking.
The Shocking Sex Life of HG WellsHG Wells was recently unveiled as a determined, unrelenting, and unapologetic advocate of free love. As Wells himself famously said towards the end of his life, “I have pleased myself tremendously through romantic deeds.., every iota of sexual impulse in me… has fully expressed itself. Let me admit it, I am immoral and have preyed on admirers.” Interestingly, a newly launched biography reveals some graphic, sordid details about the author’s intriguing sex life. HG Wells has been described as an irresistible magnet that strongly attracted women. Indeed, most of the women’s adulterous appetites drove them to follow him passionately, even if it meant they would die. Much of the prolific writer’s erotic life was generally unknown by his adoring fans. His extraordinary literary exploits were more than matched by his overactive and unusual sexual thirst that led him to dally in fascinating sexual encounters with many young women. Some of them laid out elaborate love traps that would catch the all-too-willing scholar-turned sexual predator. At one time, Wells shockingly had sex with a woman within a church building. He would later have more sex with her in the nearby bushes.
The “Unattractive” Romantic LoverIt did not deter that Wells was apparently sexually unappealing, going by his physical attributes. His appearance was even described as “unprepossessing.” The renowned writer is also described as “a short man with a high-pitched voice and a tubby in tow.” Regardless, Wells proved to be the undisputed champion of indiscriminate love escapades that paired him with an amazing multiplicity of partners. Never mind that he was already married to two wives. One of Wells’ first documented secret lovers was Amber Reeves. The young lady was the daughter of New Zealand’s High Commissioner to the UK, William Reeves. When they first met, Amber was barely 18. She studied at the Cambridge, Newnham College, was brilliant and intellectually gifted. She was a great admirer of HG Wells and enthusiastically shared his philosophies. Interestingly, Wells already had three other lovers, Rosamund Bland, Dorothy Richardson, and Violet Hunt. Regardless, the relationship between Wells and Amber gradually grew intimate, with the two enjoying a peculiar closeness. Wells described the illicit affair as “romantically spontaneous,” suggesting that Amber lured him with her youthful magnetic enthusiasm.
Sex in a Church BuildingThe two rented a room near the Victoria Station in Warwick. This became the love birds’ ever-cozy nest. They went for long walks and ate at restaurants. Sometimes Wells made love to Amber in the bushy, windy area near Hythe. They even once made love in a local church building. Of course, the affair soon became a scandal with Amber revealing the matter to her mother, lecturers, and fellow students. When Amber demanded to have a child with him, Wells was more than ready. He later sent some letters addressing the newborn as “Dear Pup,” assuring it of “daddy’s love.” Years later, the author admitted “feeling happiness and unregretted exhilaration as well as relishing a sense of sin” in these illicit affairs.
The Russian Spy LoverIn the 1930s, HG wells got involved in yet another steaming love affair with Moura Benckendorf, who was the official interpreter of Maxim Gorky, a Russian writer. Moura became one of Wells’ most enigmatic lovers. As author Andrea Lynn revealed, Moura feigned love to gain access to HG Well’s high circle of friends. In her book, the “Shadow Lovers,” Lynn says that through Moura, Wells met Benard Shaw Sydney, and Beatrice Wells, and Stalin. After this meeting, the communist dictator received international praise. Wells thought of Moura as an elusive woman of surprises. She once pretended to be pregnant with him. Later still, HG Wells had a fling with Odette Keun, a Dutch writer who greatly admired him. She famously lured Wells into a room that was ready and prepared for sex. Of course, Wells could not resist. The pair soon moved into Well’s winter abode in France to enjoy a brief romantic escapade.
In 2017, space enthusiasts were thrilled by the news that two Soviet-era space crafts had been found abandoned in the Kazakhstan desert region. The exciting discovery sparked speculation and curiosity regarding what the Russian space agency planned to do with the cherished remains of the vintage space shuttles. The twin crafts were hidden in a lonely hangar in the Kazakh steppe’s Baikonur Cosmodrome. The valued vehicles were ‘busy’ collecting dust, rust, and bird droppings. The Baikonur Cosmodrome is an active spaceport located approximately 1,500 miles southwest of Moscow. To date, the Russians still use the Cosmodrome to send or retrieve astronauts who visit the International Space Station.