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Wow - I blinked, and here we are coasting through the beautiful turning leaves of fall, and zooming into the middle of the Christmas season! I'm not kidding, this year seemed to fly by. This photo is of Sterne Fountain, and a few weeks later, the trees are now almost bare. I hope that things slow down some after the first of the year. November was a great month, with the Jefferson paranormal conference followed by Thanksgiving, and then a rush into Christmas decorating since The Grove is on Jefferson's Candlelight Tour of Homes this year. One thing I can say up front - the supernatural activity has been at a peak for the last few weeks, and I'm anxious to share this month's GroveZine with you... while anticipating the stories that I already have for next month as well! For now, though, just sit back, relax, and enjoy The GroveZine for November!
The History, Haunts & Legends conference was held again in Jefferson this month, and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. My hat is off to Jodi Breckenridge - she puts on a conference that would rival any one in the country, and I don't say that lightly. She has truly perfected the art form. In my speaking career, I've been fortunate to be asked to speak at conferences and gatherings from Ohio down to Louisiana, California back to Texas, and many places in between. It's seldom that I see a conference as enjoyable as the one here in Jefferson. I think that diversity is one of the strong points. Take this last conference for example: there were talks on every topic from Time Travel (expertly done by Larry Flaxman) to Human/Spirit Interaction (hosted by Mike McCaskill). The incredible Dr. Rita Louise gave a session on 2012 prophesy, and there were just too many other wonderful speakers and programs to name. The event was topped off by coordinated paranormal investigations that evening, and so the conference wasn't over for most attendees until the wee hours of Sunday morning. I can see the History, Haunts & Legends conference continuing to grow as a major attraction here in Jefferson. If you haven't been before, the next date is April 11, 2011, so make your plans to attend now. I can't recommend this enough!
Okay, I'm not in the television program reviewing business, but I think that one of my favorite M*A*S*H television episodes is #187, named "Old Soldiers," where Col. Potter has a tontine with a group of his WWI buddies. The last one alive drinks a toast to the others from a bottle of brandy that they found during the war. As Potter is handing it out to his current MASH officers, he says, "As I recall, it was mighty smooth back in '17," to which Major Winchester replies, "Then it should be magnificent now." The implication was that in the 30+ years, the brandy had aged to be something really special. I love this episode, and it always brings a tear to my eye when Colonel Potter toasts his old war buddies.
That episode got me to thinking. You see, next year (2011) is the 150 birthday of The Grove, and so Tami and I are considering sealing a time capsule to be opened in 100 years. Not only have we been researching the mechanics of actually preserving a time capsule for 100 years (buried vs. above ground, material it is made of, etc.) but we've also been kicking around ideas for what to put inside. Aside from the obvious things (letters, a newspaper, a book or two) I was inspired by the M*A*S*H episode to include a bottle of brandy, which, to paraphrase Winchester, "should be magnificent then." Here's the problem: I contacted a brandy expert, who basically said that the writer of the M*A*S*H episode took a few liberties with the facts. He said that brandy doesn't get better or worse with age, and while there is some fun to drinking a brandy that was made a 100 years ago, the aging process doesn't enhance it. My question to you is this - do you know of any fine liquor that actually would become enhanced with the aging and could survive 100 years? I'm a chardonnay-on-the-front-porch kind of guy (or a beer around the campfire), so I have to admit my ignorance when it comes to distilled spirits. Any suggestions or advice would be GREATLY appreciated about anything to include... after all, the clock is ticking to 2011 rather rapidly!
The whole "time capsule" idea fascinates me. Just imagine - there is not a single person reading this issue when it is sent out that will be alive then. Even if I were to live to the ripe old age of 100, the capsule wouldn't be to the half-way point of being opened. Who knows what The Grove, the City of Jefferson, the State of Texas, or even our country will be like in 100 years? I feel compelled to do this, though, because I can only imagine how wonderful it would be if the barber Charlie Young had buried one for me a hundred years ago. You know, in some respects, I think that the GroveZine is a time capsule. On the website there are six years of archives already describing the ghostly events at The Grove, but also things happening around Jefferson. If I could find a way to put the issues up to this point in the time capsule, I would, but printed out I think they'd take up a lot of space. And who knows what electronic media will be available when it's opened - if I put in a USB drive or a CD ROM, it would be like opening a time capsule now with an 8-track tape in it. Oh well, there's plenty of time to figure out the details. Stay tuned, and we're definitely open to any suggestions on the subject.
I mentioned earlier that one of the presentations at the Paranormal Conference was on time traveling, but now I'm going to tell you how I planned on showing the folks on one particular Grove tour exactly how to do it. On Sunday morning after the conference, I set the alarm for 8 AM and got up to start getting ready for the 11 AM tour. The house was in pretty good shape, so I didn't wake Tami - I just read through emails and puttered around picking up things a little bit. She was up soon, and together we put the finishing touches on everything. At 10 AM, I told her that I was going to get in the shower and get ready, when she stopped me and said, "Why does the atomic clock in the den say 9 AM?" I wondered what had happened, and then questioned if we had somehow missed daylight savings time, and a quick check of the internet confirmed that we had. The atomic clock makes the change automatically, even though none of our other clocks do. Sure enough, at 2 AM that morning everyone "fell back," but we didn't know to do it.
I told Tami that with all the excitement of the conference, I'd bet that some other people missed it as well, and that we'd probably have some folks show up at 10 AM thinking that it was 11. Preparing for that, I jumped in the shower and started getting ready. As I was blow-drying my hair, I had a brilliant idea - it was truly inspired. My plan was this: I wouldn't tell our guests about the time change, and I'd conduct the tour just as if they'd arrived at 11. When we got back to the kitchen to wrap things up, I would talk about the time travel presentation at the conference a little, and then inform everyone that I was going to show them how to actually perform time travel right then and there. I was going to light a candle on the kitchen island, have everyone stand around it and hold hands, at which point I'd go into a frenzy of chanting and waving my arms. Heaving a deep sigh, as if the experience had completely drained me, I'd then tell them that we had successfully traveled back one hour, and for the rest of the day every clock that they saw would reflect that. I loved the idea. I've never been prouder of myself for hatching a little joke.
I immediately clicked off the blow dryer, and ran to find Tami and tell her not to spoil my plan. She shrugged, and said, "I wish you'd told me sooner - a group of ladies just called and I told them that they'd missed daylight savings time as well, but that we were going to do a 10 AM tour for them." I was crushed - the best joke that I might have pulled off in my entire life had been foiled. Oh well, you know what they say about the best-laid plans of mice and men...
Here in the first few days of December, I have to say that the house as been more active over the last six weeks or so than it has in all of 2010. We've had some dramatic things happen, which I'll be sharing over the next couple of GroveZines.
One of the ladies that I was going to "time travel" with on the 10 AM tour sent me an email after they returned home and started looking through their photographs. Lara Basham wrote, We were the four ladies who got a personal tour on Sunday morning, at 10 (when we all forgot the time had changed). While taking the Ghost walk, I took this picture. After much discussion and comparison to other photos, we think that this is something special. I'd love to hear your opinion. We swapped an email or two discussing it, trying to figure it out, and she said that no one was smoking around her on the ghost walk that night, so I think that it's a very interesting photograph. I appreciate Lara allowing me to share it with the GroveZine readers.
This next story began one of the most interesting things that's possibly ever happened here. During a tour of The Grove in November, Tami was out on the front porch waiting for me to finish up and she had a lady come up and say that a couple of members of their party ran into a disturbing experience on the ghost walk the night before. She brought up a young couple, who both told a disturbing story. While Jodi was doing her stop at the house on the ghost walk the night before, the young lady was looking at the fountain that we have in front of the house (that looks like a water pump) and swore that it was flowing blood (when Tami told me that, I thought that sounded a little extreme, but stay with me for a minute). It bothered her, so she walked over to the edge of the group, and the guy followed her. The west side of the house was visible, and the way that Tami understood it, they both witnessed a white man severely beating a black man. When the victim appeared to be dead, he was then hanging from a tree as if he had been lynched by the white man. The scene was then gone, but it was so disturbing that they had to come back to the house for some closure - neither got any sleep that night. Tami took them through the house and assured them that it was a warm, friendly place, and that to our knowledge nothing violent like that had ever happened on the property. They seemed to feel better about it, and left. But stay tuned for what happened next.
A week or so later I was at a meeting of the Marion County Historical Commission, of which I'm a member, and the subject of maps came up. I was sitting next to a guy who is perhaps the city's most prominent historian, John Nance (he runs the Turning Basin River Tours, so some of you may have met him). During the conversation, I told him that there was one map I'd love to get a copy of, which was drawn as part of a 1860s military trial in Jefferson known as the Stockade Case. A local klan-type organization had killed a carpetbagger and two freedmen, and the klansmen blamed were put on trial by the military who were occupying Jefferson after the Civil War. For some reason, The Grove is shown on the map and marked as "Mr. Stilley's House" (Frank Stilley built it in 1861). When I mentioned that, he said that it could be that Stilley witnessed the murders of the two black men. Supposedly they were dragged down Moseley Street (where The Grove is) and killed somewhere along there. As we talked further, the young couple's vision began to exactly mirror the events that John was describing. It really caught me off guard - I couldn't help but wonder whether they had witnessed a replaying of the terrible events of that evening so long ago.
I find it extremely curious that the events played out as they did - a couple witnessed the vision of a horrid event taking place beside the house, which I would have sworn had never happened since we never found any documentation of it, and then a local historian happens to describe an event very much like that happening in the proximity of The Grove. It's a heck of a coincidence, but then again, I don't believe in coincidences... everything that happens is for a reason. We'll therefore be digging more in to the Stockade Case, and looking for more information. If we can find it, we would very much like to honor the memory of those who lost their lives so terribly.
As much as I was looking forward to sharing the previous story with you, I can't WAIT to get into some of our Christmas Candlelight stories... the "ghosts of Christmas present" were definitely active here at The Grove, so stay tuned for the next issue.
Meanwhile, I hope that everyone had a great Thanksgiving. We all have so many things to be thankful for, and I believe that in doing so, our blessings will only grow. Tami and I sincerely appreciate you taking a little time out of your schedule to read the ezine every month. Thanks so much for being a part of the GroveZine, and just to say one more time, fasten your seatbelts and get ready for the December issue!
If you'd like to check any of my books, you can find them at Barnes & Noble, Borders, Amazon.com, or
at The Grove's website if you'd like to order a signed copy of anything.
If you missed any issues of the GroveZine, you can find them at the GroveZine Archives.
01/21-23/2011 8th Annual Quilt Show "Quilts on the Bayou"
03/4-6/2011 22nd Annual Mardi Gras Upriver "History on Parade"
03/12/2011 5th Annual St. Patrick's Day Celebration & Irish Stew Cook-off
04/9/2011 Spring "History, Haunts & Legends" Conference
05/6-7/2011 Battle of Port Jefferson" Civil War Re-enactment
05/6-8/2011 64th Annual Pilgrimage Tour of Homes & Spring Festival
05/5-8/2011 Diamond Bessie Murder Trial Play
05/28/2011 Cypress River Airport Fly-in
07/04/2011 "Jefferson Salutes America" 4th of July Celebration
10/7-9/2011 13th Annual Boo Run Benefit
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