Birch Hill Cemetery, Fairbanks, AK

Date of Discovery/Date of Establishment & Haunting

Sightings of apparitions within the Birch Hill Cemetery have been happening since the 1930s.

Name & Location

Birch Hill Cemetery houses at least one apparition, the most notable of which is the White Lady.

Physical Description

Gwich'in Elder Grave at Birch Hill Cemetery
Gwich’in Elder Grave at Birch Hill Cemetery

The Birch Hill Cemetery is a prominent geographical feature in Fairbanks, it rises on the north slope of the city and faces the Steese Highway. It is a peaceful cemetery that is surrounded on three sides by dense woods and the overlooking hill to the city displays seven planters that are in the shape of the Big Dipper–the symbol on the Alaskan flag. It is a very unsuspecting location for a haunting, it’s a beautiful location.

The White Lady appears in an early 1900s era dress and a fancy hat–something that would have been worn during the early pioneering days of Fairbanks. Aside from the White Lady, the apparition who appears most often, there have been reports of a little girl and a little boy who haunt the cemetery on their own.

Origin

The Birch Hill Cemetery officially became the main cemetery in Fairbanks after the Clay Street Cemetery began to quickly fill up–it covers approximately thirty-two acres of the southwest side of Birch Hill and there are still plots available today.

Mythology and Lore

The White Lady has been sighted since 1938 when the cemetery was officially established, along with two apparitions of children.

In 2001, Fairbanks paranormal investigator by the name of Jessie Desmond obtained an electronic voice phenomenon (EVP), but states that they are not necessarily “the result of intentional voice recordings.” He also stated that Paranormal Explorers of Alaska (PEAK) uses this particular cemetery for training and to see if they can capture more information about Birch Hill Cemetery’s resident ghosts. They occasionally capture orbs in their pictures and would hear movements that have no known origin.

In May of 2012, Jessie Desmond collaborated with Neelie Lythgoe and Tony Hernandez members of Investigators of the Paranormal in Alaska (IOPIA) from the Anchorage region; it was during this investigation that they were able to capture a few EVPs as well as a picture of what they believe was an apparition.



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Bloody Mary

Date of Discovery

In 1553, Mary Tudor came into power as Mary I, Queen of England and within five short years became known as Bloody Mary due to all of the Protestant Christians that were executed during her time in power, before she died.

Many researchers claim that Mary I, Queen of England is not the same Bloody Mary represented in the Urban Legend–a more interesting link to the Bloody Mary legend is when it was first officially studied and documented in the 1970s, where it was impossible to conclude exactly when and where this legend originated but suggested the actual Bloody Mary was a witch that died in the 1800s after being found practicing black magic.

Name

Bloody Mary is a fairly vague figure in historical context–originating from various tales about Mary Whales, Mary Worth, Mary Worthington, and Mary Tudor. Due to the widespread nature of the urban legend bearing her likeness, she also has many other nicknames aside from Bloody Mary, which include Bloody Bones, Hell Mary, Mary Johnson, Mary Lou, Mary Jane, Sally, Kathy, Agnes, Black Agnes, Aggie, and Svarte Madame.

Vaguely related to the modern Japanese lore of Hanako-san.

Physical Description

Bloody Mary’s visage is not consistent among the different resources that are available, wherein some cases she is a young woman with blood streaming down her face from an open wound on her forehead, to a demonic-looking witch who reaches out from the mirror to slash the individual chanting her name, the only real consistency is that Bloody Mary is always a female specter.

Origin

In 1978 the first documented case-study was done of Bloody Mary, by Janet Langlois a folklorist–the consensus was that the legend was based on a witch who had been caught practicing black magic.

Mythology and Lore

Summoning Mary requires the individual to stand in front of a mirror and chant “Bloody Mary,” between three and thirteen times—the number has never quite been decided upon—in a darkened bathroom while staring into a mirror. This urban legend is associated mostly with adolescent slumber parties, which has caused the legend to come under scrutiny, but it hasn’t caused the legend to cease, nor for any that have experienced her to be any less sure of what they have seen.

Variations upon the legend, include that the ritual must take place at exactly midnight, that the participant must twirl while chanting her name, that water must be splashed with water (some cases, specifically ocean water), or red candles must be lit during the ritual. Descriptions of the event also vary from case to case, including that Mary’s face will appear in place of the participant, that she appears with bloody tears streaming from gouged-out eyes, that your own reflection will be covered in blood, that Mary will reach out of the mirror and scratch you, she blinds you, drives you insane, or leaves you comatose, or comes out of the mirror entirely and kills the participant. Considering there have never been any cases of people being killed in this circumstance, it cannot be confirmed that she will kill the participant. In less creepy or horrifying accounts of encounters with Bloody Mary is that she appears after three chants of her name, appears in the room with the participant, not through a mirror, just as a manifestation of her spirit to truthfully answer questions asked about the participant’s future.

Bloody Mary is popular in the realm of scary entertainment and she is often the source of inspiration for popular movies, television series, and scary stories. While the story may seem extravagant and overtly scary, it is said that horrific details could have been added to discourage people from taking part in what may seem to be, “satanic rituals,” while many that may have performed this ritual as a child can report that it’s likely nothing will happen.

Modern Pop-Culture References

Books & Literature

Movies

Television Series



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Hanako-san

Date of Discovery

Matthew Meyer, an author and folklorist, has dated the legend of Hanako-san back to the 1950s, but like the western counterpart, Bloody Mary, it is clear that the legend existed before official documentation.

Supposedly the urban legend began in 1950 as, “Hanako of the third stall.” In the 1980s, her story became widely known all over Japan, and in the 1990s a variety of movies and animes were made about her. She is now known as, “Hanako of the Toilet.”

Name

Hanako-san and Toire no Hanako-san in Japanese, which translates roughly to, “Hanako of the Toilet.”

Vaguely related to the legend of Bloody Mary.

Physical Description

Hanako-san, according to Japanese urban legends, is the spirit of a young girl who haunts the bathrooms of schools. Although her physical description varies across the different sources, she is commonly seen as wearing a red skirt or dress, with her haircut worn in a bob long enough to cover her neck.

In Japanese culture, she is known as a yōkai–which is a reference to a spirit in the form of a monster, or demon–or a yūrei, which is synonymous with what western culture considers a ghost. 

Origin

Over the last seventy years, Hanako-san has become a fixture of Japanese urban folklore, before the 1990s, it was just an oral legend, but it has since become a part of their pop-culture, being featured in movies as well as manga and anime series. Michael Dylan Foster wrote The Book of Yōkai: Mysterious Creatures of Japanese Folklore, in which he stated that Hanako-san is a well known urban legend associated with all schools across Japan.

Mythology and Lore

As a part of Japanese urban legends and folklore, Hanako-san is more versatile spirit than most, like Bloody Mary she comes to haunt only when she is called. Each reported case has different details of the haunting and encounter, but there are common themes across the board. In one version, she is a school child who was killed during an air raid, while playing hide-and-seek, during World War II–a variation on this is that she was starving, but agreed to play the game anyway, but her body gave in to hunger and died in the bathroom stall. In other versions, she either committed suicide or she was hiding from an abusive parent and upon finding her in the bathroom they killed her. Some stories suggest that she came to the school to play when it wasn’t in session, was followed by a pedophile, then was assaulted and killed. Depending upon the variant of the story, however, she can either appear as a ghostly, bloody hand or Hanako-san herself. Additional details about where her grave can be found are given in some scenarios, which suggest that she was either buried in a garbage dump in Saitama, or behind a school gym in Tokyo.

In Japanese schools across the country, the typical ritual goes, that you enter the girl’s bathroom (usually on the third floor) and knock three times on every door. From the closest door to the farthest door, after knocking, you would ask, “Is Hanako there?” After repeating this question three times the answer, “yes,” will come from the third stall in a small, soft voice. When you open the door to the stall, Hanako will be standing there, waiting to drag you into the toilet.

While it may sound like an odd trend, there are quite a few yōkai and yūrei that reside within bathrooms and toilets. Most any person from Japan will tell you that they have tried to summon Hanako-san while they were in elementary school.

Modern Pop-Culture References

Books & Literature

Movies

Television Series



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Categories
Haunted Places

Old Town Pizza – Portland Oregon

Date of Establishment & Haunting

Old Town pizza resides where the lobby was in the original Merchant Hotel which was built in 1880 by wealthy lumber barons. The haunting began between the late 1800s and early 1900s, but the exact date of the original sighting is unknown.

Name & Location

Old Town Pizza, Merchant Hotel. The building is located in Portland, Oregon’s Old Town District also known as Chinatown in the Northwest part of the city.

Physical Description

An ornate stone building is one of Portland most beautiful pieces of architecture. The Merchant Hotel sits on the corner of NW 3rd and Davis St in Portland, Oregon and takes up half of the city block. The four story building has been wonderfully maintained and the spooky nature of it’s past is evident as soon as you approach.

Haunted Merchant Hotel Portland Oregon

Origin

The Merchant Hotel was built in the late 1800s (1880) by Brothers Louis, Adolph, and Theodore Nicolai and it was originally a luxury hotel in what is now known as Portland’s Old Town district and Chinatown. The building is built atop Portland’s Shanghai Tunnels which connected businesses to the docks to move goods. Later the tunnels were allegedly used to shanghai sailors thus the mysterious name.

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Mythology and Lore

Nina (pronounced “Nigh-na”) is the most notorious ghost and has been frequently sighted at the Old Town Pizza restaurant. Nina was forced into prostitution and worked at the upscale hotel. When she had the chance to escape the life she was forced into with support from local missionaries she took it. However, she never made it out of the hotel. She was found dead at the bottom of an elevator shaft not too long after planning her escape.

She reportedly will tap employees on the shoulder when they are in the basement. She has been seen wearing a white or black dress and will observe patrons eating.

Owner Adam Milne said an employee once saw a woman in a white dress go downstairs during closing time. When he went down to tell her they were closed, no one was there – Portland Eater Oct 27, 2016

Modern Pop-Culture References

Books

Puzzle Box Horror’s “Atlas of Lore” July 2020 article Slice

Index

  1. https://pdx.eater.com/2016/10/27/13440764/haunted-portland-restaurants-and-bars-oregon
  2. Portland Historic Landmarks Commission (July 2014), Historic Landmarks — Portland, Oregon (XLS), retrieved February 1, 2015.
  3. Portland Bureau of Planning (April 4, 2008). “National Historic Landmark Nomination (Revised Documentation): Skidmore/Old Town Historic District” (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  4. “Merchants Hotel”. Historic Resource Inventory, City of Portland. Oregon Historic Sites Database. Retrieved January 26, 2015. “Old Hotel Remodeled For New Role” (December 7, 1968). The Oregonian, Section 1, p. 15.

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Pocong

Name

Known most frequently as Pocong, or Pochong, meaning “wrapped ghost.” Also known in Indonesia and Malaysia as a kain kafan, which translates roughly to, “(fabric) shroud,” As well as hantu bungkus, or “the wrapped ghost,” in Malaysia.

Physical Description

Described as having a pale green, shriveled, and decaying face–where its eyes should be, there are two abyss-like holes. It is said that due to the Muslim origins of this legend, the pocong is wrapped in the prescribed length of cloth used in Muslim burials to wrap the body of a dead person. The corpse is covered in white fabric which is tied over their head, under their feet, and around the neck. Because they have their feet tied together, the pocong cannot walk, which causes the pocong to hop like a rabbit, but they can hop up to fifty meters (a little over 162 feet) at a time. It is said they also have the ability to fly and teleport.

Pocong in Indonesia
Photography by Adhietya Saputra

Origin

Believed to have originated in Indonesia, the pocong is a wrapped ghost that is said to be the soul of a dead person trapped within its shroud. According to the traditional beliefs of the region, the soul of a dead person will stay in the realm of the living for forty days after their death–if the ties of the shroud are not untied after forty days the body is said to jump out from the grave to warn people that they need their soul released. After the ties are untied the soul is released and will leave the realm of the living forever.

Mythology and Lore

The Response to COVID-19

During the COVID-19 crisis of 2020, volunteers began dressing as the pocong, getting wrapped in white sheets and roaming the streets of neighborhoods in Indonesia’s central province on Java island to deter people from going and visiting each other during the period of self-isolation due to the viral outbreak. In Kepuh village of Sukoharjo, volunteers of this phenomenon told Reuters, that they have been conducting surprise patrols every few days since early April. Their plan initially backfired due to the fact that these patrols became a social media sensation–so a bunch of people actually came out of their homes just to see what was going on. Despite the setback, the volunteers of Kepuh have been working to mitigate the impact of COVD-19 through coordinated efforts with ministries, government agencies, and regional administrations.

He added later that the initiative was in cooperation with the local police force, saying that they, “set up the pocong roadblock,” and that the “environment of the village had become more conducive [to the idea of staying inside].”



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