Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pilgrims and Aliens

When it comes to exploring the unexplained, UFOs are my favorite topic to investigate. So in honor of Thanksgiving, we will look at some surprising evidence of extraterrestrials that we find deep in America’s past. No, I’m not referring to the hundreds of Native American accounts we have of otherworldly visitors. Everybody knows that unless white folks write it down then it’s just mythology. Believe it or not, pilgrims (the whitest people ever) were the earliest Europeans in North America to record a number of UFO sightings.

The first known incident happened in 1639, just 9 years after the establishment of Plymouth colony. The report comes from The History of New England, 1630-1639, a book by John Winthrop, a puritan and the first elected Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. His writings are considered the central source for the history of the area.
One night in March of 1639, James Everell “a sober, discreet man” and two companions boarded a small boat and set out for a trip on the Muddy River in Boston. They had been moving downstream for about a mile when the night’s mysterious events began. The three men were suddenly confronted with the appearance of a huge, bright light hovering in the sky. The light “flamed up” as it hovered and appeared to be about “three yards square.” As they watched, the light “contracted into the figure of a swine” and moved “swift as an arrow” in the direction of Charlton. For several hours, the light moved back and forth in the sky between Everell’s location and Charlton. When the light finally disappeared, the men noticed that they had somehow been carried against the tide back to the place where they had embarked. Wait a second. Either these pilgrims ate some magic mushrooms or this matches perfectly with what some modern UFO witnesses report with close encounters! Winthrop’s book offers us even more strangeness to consider.

In 1644, a rash of bizarre sightings was again reported in Boston. The account says that mysterious lights appeared about 2 weeks after the destruction of a ship commanded by Captain John Chaddock, a pirate whose ship was intentionally blown up in the harbor. On several occasions, Bostonians saw a light resembling the moon rise from the water near the site of the sunken ship that merged with an identical light and then separated again, repeating this over and over while shooting out flames and sparks. The people of Boston attributed the lights to the ghost of one of the dead sailors, a confessed necromancer allegedly responsible for the ship’s destruction. According to Winthrop, this anonymous person had “done some strange things by his art in his Avay from Virginia hither;” to make things even more strange, Winthrop reports:

“all the bodies blown up were found but his, which never was. Hence it is left to be inferred that the master teacher of the black art of necromancy took away the body as well as the soul of his pupil, at the moment of the catastrophe.” 

Were the strange lights, the ship’s destruction and alleged sorcerer whose body is never recovered simply a coincidence? Even when examined separately, they are wildly fascinating events worth more investigation. Could the “sorcerer” have actually been an extraterrestrial or a time traveler sent to change the course of history and then teleported away after sinking the ship? It would make for a great movie sci-fi movie script, Pilgrims and Aliens. Unfortunately, the truth about what really happened may remain a mystery like so many events in the distant past. When it comes to unraveling Earth’s biggest mysteries, I need all the help I can get, so your comments and stories are welcome. Keep exploring!

(Murfreesboro Pulse November 2012)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Murfreesboro's Most Haunted

(As featured in the October 2013 edition of the Murfreesboro Pulse)

Murfreesboro’s Most Haunted

I’m not a big fan of Halloween attractions like haunted houses.  Having spent a certain amount of time in the field researching real monsters and investigating actual paranormal phenomenon, it’s difficult to get excited about the fake stuff.  Don’t get me wrong. I like Halloween fun and have been known to disguise myself to play the occasional trick.  But for those curious about real paranormal activity, I have a special treat for you this October.

 The Murfreesboro’s Most Haunted list presented here was assembled based on the experiences of local paranormal investigators, reader submissions and my personal explorations in search of the unknown.   Here’s what made the list. 

Stones River Battlefield – It’s the site of more than 3000 deaths and one of the bloodiest  battles of the Civil War. Numerous sightings of ghastly apparitions have been reported for decades in and around this historic area. Entire troop formations have been seen here by witnesses here that disappear without a trace.  


Social (formerly Blue Rooster and Blues Boro) – I saw some pretty frightening things at this bar when I used to hang out there. But according to the Shadow Chasers of Middle Tennessee, a number of electronic voice phenomenon or EVPs (alleged ghost noises) have been recorded in the basement which sound people playing billiards in an area with no pool table.

Center for the Arts – Another submission from my friends at Shadow Chasers, the Center for the Arts is said to host more than just live performances. It seems the dead also perform their own kind of show at night and that the voices of children laughing have been captured by recorders.

Davis Market – Many know of the “curse of Davis Market”  and that it’s actually the center of the universe.  But there’s more to this place than these urban legends. Some employees have experienced strange happenings like objects moving, doors slamming and calculators running numbers with nobody around.

Black Fox Camp Springs – This general area is where some of the first settlers in Rutherford County made their homes.  It’s located along the Nickajack trace, an ancient Native American highway which ran all the way down to Spanish Florida. According to legend Chief Black Fox escaped an attack by diving into the spring and emerging three miles away at Murfree Springs.  I’ve heard drums beating here on more than one occasion and was unable to identify the source.   


The Black Cat Tavern – This abandoned underground speakeasy from the days of prohibition is not just a little spooky, but the first time I went inside the cave I heard voices and what sounded like music coming from somewhere deep underground. 

Smotherman’s Antiques   Melinda Blick of Stones River Paranormal considers this local antique store  to be a paranormal hotspot. It makes sense that it might manifest some activity. This business houses a collection of items belonging to dead people in a building that has its own lengthy history.

The old MTMC Hospital  – Although the lot where the old hospital stood is now empty, some vivid accounts were shared with me by former employees of the old hospital.  These included witnesses seeing floating objects as well as phantoms which appeared to comfort the dying.  

Big B Cleaners – The haunted drycleaners might not sound so spooky.  But Big B was once the site of a local taxi service back in 1920’s. It was during this period that a murder took place and it’s believed that the victim may still be lingering.  Investigators who have probed this location have witnessed mysterious lights and sounds coming from the building
Oaklands Plantation – Although it has never been formally investigated (to my knowledge), this stately home from the early 19th century made the list by default. The location was home to a large number of slaves and was the site of an engagement between Union and Confederate forces during the Civil War. Perhaps the Oaklands Association will someday allow an investigation of the house that will validate its place on this prestigious list of haunted places in Murfreesboro.

More Pictures coming soon!