Elizabeth Oehler Krebs: The Flower Woman of Hiawatha

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Mrs. John Krebs.

Mrs. John Krebs had a problem. Every year at Halloween, her meticulously maintained flower garden was destroyed by mischievous children running around at night. On October 31, 1914, Elizabeth Oehler Krebs (11.19.1848-8.19.1931) organized the first Hiawatha Frolic. It is recognized as the longest consecutive Halloween parade.

Back then, women were called by their husbands’ names. Hence, you need to Google “Mrs. Krebs” to locate more information. You will find that Elizabeth was born in Switzerland and ended up residing in Hiawatha, Kansas. And she loved to garden.

In her obituary, Elizabeth is called “the flower woman of Hiawatha.” She is credited for coming up with a solution to the Halloween antics of the town’s youth: a community frolic.

Frolics are akin to the fetes held in Great Britain. The noun is defined as a “playful action” or “a lively party or game.” The Hiawatha Frolic has grown over the 107 years of its existence to include 2 parades! There’s a Kiddie Parade in the morning and the Grand Parade at night.

Elizabeth suffered great loss during her lifetime. Her only son, John Edward Krebs (12.27.1870-10.19.1893), died at the age of 22 from consumption in 1893. Two years later, she would lose her 16-year-old daughter, Charlotte May “Lottie” (10.22.1878-10.20.1895) to typhoid fever, as well. Tragically, Lottie was buried alongside her brother on what would have been her 17th birthday. The following year, Elizabeth and her husband would lose another daughter, Emma G. (1874-1896), to consumption, as well. Emma had just begun working her third year as a teacher. According to her obituary, all 19 city teachers attended her funeral. The remaining fourth child, Louise Elizabeth Krebs Friend (1872-1946), married, had children, and lived a full life, surviving both her parents.

It is easy to understand what drove Mrs. John Krebs to organize the Hiawatha Halloween Frolic. She loved children and gardening. She planted and took care of many city flower beds during her lifetime. By envisioning the community celebration, she came up with a productive solution to entertain the children of Hiawatha.

Haunted Halloween: Traditions, Superstitions, and True Crime

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Tomorrow night (October 13th) at 9 PM EST, I will be stepping in to chat about the 2nd most popular holiday in America: Halloween.

Due to last minute changes in scheduling, I am thrilled to bring you tales of fright, based in facts to whet your appetite for the upcoming holiday. Join me in the Ghost Education 101 Facebook Group for a LIVE stream, where I will take questions & the chat room will be open, OR watch the encore episode on the Ghost Education 101 YouTube channel.

This is guaranteed to be spooktacular!

Scissorland: Visit Edward Scissorhands’ Real House

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Fresh paint and topiaries adorn the front yard.

In 1990, director Tim Burton transformed the Carpenters Run neighborhood into a bizarre movie set for the film Edward Scissorhands, starring Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder. Although the houses have aged and regressed back to the typical Florida décor, the neighborhood has attracted fans since. On September 11, 2020, Joey and Sharon Licalzi won a bidding war and paid $230,378 for the 3 bedroom/2 bath 1432 square foot home. They’ve transformed it back into the movie set and have opened Scissorland, a free museum.

Edward Scissorhands (1990) is a cult classic. Filmed on a $20 million dollar budget, it grossed $56 million in the U.S. and $86 million worldwide. Deemed one of Burton’s best (aren’t they all?), the film was a fantasy-romance hybrid that told the story of Edward, the man with scissor hands. The movie is currently streaming on Hulu.com.

Fast forward 30 years and you can see how the neighborhood changed. Gone are the pastel color exterior house paint and topiary scrubs. However, Joey and Sharon have started the transformation.

The exterior is now a pastel blue, and the front yard is adorned with topiaries. The backyard is a whimsical playground. The original owner saved the mushroom wallpaper, which the couple reinstalled. They offer the home with the growing movie memorabilia as a free museum. Outdoor movie screenings will begin when the weather cools.

The memorabilia are an eclectic collection. There’s a license plate that the residents had to place on their cars for filming. A pack of cigarettes supposedly belonging to Depp is on display, along with an endearing mannequin dressed as Depp’s character. The collection continues to grow.

Although reservations are not required, I encourage those wishing to visit make them. Remember, not only is the house a museum: the couple actually resides there. The address is 1774 Tinsmith Circle, Lutz, Pasco County, Florida.

Missing Tombstone Used to Make Fudge

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Marble is the best surface for making fudge. According to one blog, “Real fudge makers … all use marble slabs.” Apparently one family in Okemos, Michigan began making fudge on a 5-foot marble slab around 1875. The slab was passed down to future generations, who also perfected their fudge-making skills with the same old marble slab. The slab was finally turned over by an estate auction dealer who posted it for sale on the Internet. One inquiring mind reached out to the Friends of Lansing’s Historic Cemeteries (FoLHC) in Lansing, Michigan, where it was identified as the long lost—some 146 years lost—tombstone of Peter J. Weller. On Sunday, September 26th, a celebration was held to celebrate the re-installation of the tombstone. Fudge was served!

Fudge being made on a marble slab. This is NOT the tombstone.

Peter J. Weller was a recent transplant to Lansing. He was born in New York in 1801 and relocated to Lansing in 1845. He died from inflammation of the bowels on December 26, 1849, at the age of 48 years, 8 months, and 22 days. He was initially buried in Oak Park Cemetery. His two daughters Christina and Lucretia were also buried there. By 1875, Lansing was growing, and the city was extending boundaries. All of the interred bodies at Oak Park were relocated to Mount Hope Cemetery. Tombstones were to be reinstalled, as well. Both Christina (4.3.1832-5.11.1854) and Lucretia (dates unknown) had individual tombstones that traveled to Mount Hope and marked their new resting place. For some unknow reason, Peter’s went missing.

The City of Lansing and the FoLHC attempted to locate any living descendants. None were found. The historic society paid for Peter’s tombstone to be clean and installed once ground penetrating radar was used to verify there were remains and a coffin buried in an unmarked grave. The daughters’ broken and aged tombstones were also clean and restored. The family are resting in a 10-plot family site. Peter’s first wife Louisa, and the known mother to Christina, is in another unmarked grave in Mount Hope. The second wife is not buried in the cemetery.

Three tombstones cleaned and reinstalled.

This is another one of those stories where tombstones are removed from cemeteries and used for odd purposes. A house in the neighborhood I grew up in had tombstone fragments in the turret in their house. Strange, indeed.

Winnie the Pooh’s House is a BearBnB

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Illustrator Kim Raymond incorporated small details into the house.

Two lucky residents of the United Kingdom will spend £95 to spend one night in Winnie the Pooh’s house. The open dates are September 24th and 25th, which coincides with the 95th anniversary of A.A. Milne’s first publication of the adorable honey loving bear.

The one-room house has all the hallmarks of Pooh’s house. Kim Raymond, who has illustrated the Pooh books for 30 years, incorporated small details into the construction of the house, which sits along the Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, England. A.A. Milne lived here and based his famous Hundred Acre Wood on the forest.

Two lucky U.K. residents will enjoy the comforts of Pooh’s house and Hundred Acre Wood.

The guests receive a guided tour of the wood, along with honey-inspired meals. They will also play Poohsticks on Poohstick Bridge and enjoy naps in the cozy beds.

The outside façade has Pooh’s tree and the “Mr. Sanders” sign. The mystery surrounding who Mr. Sanders was remains; however, the house has been beautifully realized. I hope that the house will be open on future dates for international tourists.

Young Female Ghost Appears in Eastbury Manor House Photograph

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Photograph showing the supposed ghost.

There’s a photograph making the rounds on the Internet of a supposed apparition of a young girl peering through a window at Eastbury Manor House. The image is too blurry to definitively state that Joanne Puffett and Diane De-Groot captured a ghost in the photograph. However, the location is worth discussing.

Barking Abbey, located in Barking, London, England, was a large monastery established in 666 AD. It remained viable until King Henry VIII dissolved all British monasteries in 1539. Only the Curfew Tower remains today. In 1551, the land was sold off. Clement Sisley purchased a plot in 1557 and built the first red brick Elizabethan gentry house in the area. Construction was from 1560-1573. The home was originally called Estburie Hall.

Clement Sisley (1504-1578) and his much younger wife Anne Argall (1547-1610) lived in the home with their 4 young children. Even though Clement was of the gentry class (wealthy landowner who lived totally on rental income), he was in serious debt when he died in 1578. Anne sought financial security through her second husband, Augustine Steward (d. 1597). Ownership of Eastbury remained in the family until 1629.

Ownership of Eastbury fell through many hands over the centuries. The National Trust (England) purchased the home in 1918 and restored it. The home is an H-shape with an inner courtyard. Although most of the land once owned by the Sisley family has long been sold, the house does boast two gardens: a Tudor herb garden and a walled garden. The walled garden houses bee-boles. “Bole” is a Scottish word for recess in a wall. Rows of recessed bee boles help bees proliferate.

But the question of the day is whether Eastbury Manor House is haunted. It probably is. The most familiar legend tells of the house being haunted by a young girl that only women can see. That certainly fits the narrative of the photograph. However, there is a lesser-known variation where it is a young girl and a woman who haunt the dwelling.

I’m curious about whom might the girl—and woman—be. Records from the 1500s are scarce, possibly lost to fire. Luckily, the house does hold paranormal events. At this time, though, the home is closed due to COVID. (Note: Joanne and Diane merely walked outside the house, where they took the picture.) Check the website, https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/eastbury-manor-house, to see when the home reopens. And I will add the house to my bucket list.

Recent Loch Ness Monster Sighting

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There have been 13 sightings of Nessie, the famous mythical water creature thought to reside in Loch Ness. New to the official database that collects information on sightings: Webcam footage from the live webcam is divided into a separate category, arranged by year. This allows visitors to the website to view portions of the video footage that is monitored by volunteers. Photographs remain divided by year. So far this year, there have been 8 web camera postings and 5 photographs. However, there still isn’t credible evidence that Nessie actually exists. But that shouldn’t stop you from visiting and searching for yourself!

Click here for the official register of sightings: http://www.lochnesssightings.com/index.asp.

View the most recent sighting on August 22 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoPqMaZJXYo.

Watch adorable sheep munching on the grass on the web camera here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntHCxxkVA7U.

The Angel of Grief Weeping Over the Dismantled Altar of Life (1894)

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The Angel of Grief, as it is known, is one of the most iconic funerary sculptures that exist. It is also one of the most copied. The original was created by American lawyer, poet, and sculptor William Wetmore Story. The Angel of Grief would be his last major work and lovingly dedicated to his recently deceased wife, Emelyn. It captures the grief he experienced at the prospect of living without his spouse.

William Wetmore Story (1819-1895) saw an opportunity to quit practicing law and become a full-time artist. He was the son of Associate Justice Joseph Story (1779-1845) who served on the Supreme Court of the United States, also known as SCOTUS. William graduated from Harvard College and began his career in law. He was successful but unfulfilled. When his father died, William accepted an offer that changed the course of his life.

A committee set up to honor the late Justice Joseph Story wanted to commission a statue in his memory, and they asked William to create it. William was a hobbyist and accepted the commission as long as he and his family moved to Italy for him to study.

William Wetmore Story (1819-1895)

By this time, William and Emelyn nee Eldredge had married and started a family. They had two children: Edith “Edie” Marion and Joseph “Joe.” And so, the family moved to Rome, Italy where William embarked on an apprenticeship. Tragedy struck the young family when little Joe died from gastric fever on November 23, 1853. He is buried in Campo Cestio in Rome.

The family grew while William honed his craft. Thomas Waldo, born December 9, 1854, and Julian Russell, born on September 8, 1857, joined older sister Edie. (Note: All four surviving children embarked on careers in the arts: T. Waldo became an acclaimed sculptor; Julian was a famous painter; and Edit, known as the Marchesa Peruzzi di Medici, became a writer.)

Although William returned to the United States to erect the monument for his father, he would make Rome his home. During the forty years he and Emelyn resided in Italy, William created other famous sculptures and gained acclaim as a poet. They enjoyed life and each other.

Emelyn died in 1894, and William’s heart broke. He prepared and created one last sculpture: The Angel of Grief. An angel dressed in Roman attire drapes her body over the altar with her large wings slumped in despair. The sculpture personified the grief that embraced William.

William died in his sleep a year later. He is buried beneath the sculpture with the love of his life. The monument sits in Campo Cestio, also called the Protestant Cemetery or the Cemetery for the Non-Catholic Foreigners. It may be viewed during posted business hours. If you’re unable to see it in person, you can visit some of the copies in America. I cannot state if the cemetery is haunted; however, I can tell you that it has some of the most beautiful funerary monuments that I’ve ever seen in one location. It also has about 40 cats that roam the cemetery listening to classical music when the cemetery closes for the day. Well worth a visit, in our post-COVID world.

While researching this article, I wanted to find a photograph of Emelyn; however, I was unable. There are a few of William and his children who survived into adulthood, but nothing for Emelyn. That is also heartbreaking. I would love to see the woman who supported and encouraged her husband to create so many famous pieces of art, especially the most important piece that is one of his most well-known.

The woman in this photograph is believed to be Emelyn; however, it is not verified.