« Lore

Episode 139: Heirloom

2020-03-30 | 🔗

The way we treat the past is a great lens into the character of humanity. Sometimes we elevate it, but all too often we work to bury it. And while the excuse might be to make room for the march of progress, it also allows us to hide our worst mistakes and most painful tragedies.


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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
It's the sort of thing you'd never expect to see standing on the western Bank of the Delaware River beneath the Betsy Ross Bridge in Philadelphia. There's something unusual beneath the waves and some days when the tide is very low, they expose themselves to observant travellers headstones, It's easy to assume it's just a pile of stones and in some ways that's exactly what it is. A man made breakwater built by the same people who built the bridge back in the early seventies, but the stones they used were actually headstones from a real centuries old burial ground.
They came from an area about ten miles to the north West on the west side of the campus of Temple University. In fact, if you stand on the front steps of the Temple performing arts centre and look across the street, you can still see a low stone wall. It is all that remains of monument cemetery, a burial ground that fell out of use in the nineteen twenties before it was purchased by the University of nineteen. Fifty six to allow for some much needed campus expansion disposing of the headstones was the easy part. It was the twenty eight thousand graves that were much more problematic to relocate. Mrs were sent out to living relatives at the people interred there and roughly eight thousand of them came and took their loved ones to new locations, but over twenty thousand graves seem to have been forgotten, so the university
of them to a mass grave in a newer cemetery north of town. It's an interesting story for a lot of reasons for one knowing your track and field complex is built on the site of an old graveyard, a graveyard whose headstones now help protect a nearby bridge is a great topic to pull out at parties and for that you're welcome. But it's also interesting. For another reason, it shows us with perfect clarity how people tend to handle the past. We want progress
might change. We want to move further down the cultural road, and sometimes the past can hold us back and just like the old monument cemetery, we often try to just pave over history and move forward whether or not that's the best decision in the long run. It happens everywhere, but I think it's fair to say that there are few places in America with as much historical baggage. Then the city of Philadelphia, whether it's the events that led to the birth of the United States or the centuries of life and death that have played out there ever since the city of brotherly love has become a reminder of a very powerful lesson. You can bury the pain and mistakes of the past
pretended, has all gone away. But you can never he bit from coming back. I'm Erin Monkey- and this is lore. Philadelphia- is a city that needs no introductions and its easy to see why both of the United States founding documents, the declaration of independence and the constitution were written there and the city play a pivotal role in the revolutionary war, and it's also a treasure trove of American first, the first hospital medical school public library and even the first zoo, but it didn't start off so special in sixteen
one King Charles, the second found himself with a problem. He owed a good. A of money to one of his admirals, and when that man son paid him a visit, he assumed that the family would be demanding repayment. Instead, the admiral son requested a charter to settle a colony in the new world, That son was a man named William Penn in the colony he was a word. But become known as Pennsylvania, interesting
It was in his first bit of land in the new world just a few years earlier, he had purchased the colonial province of West Jersey, which would one day become part of the state of New Jersey and because of that, the gift of the Pennsylvania territory turn him into the largest non royal landholder in the world. But pen didn't do the typical colonial european thing when he arrived. Maybe it was the visible aftermath of previous settlements in the territory. Decades of expansion by the dutch and Swedish had left the local native american people reeling with waves of smallpox and armed conflict wearing them down. Over the years. William Penn arrived with the different plan in mind. You see he was
part of an offshoot of Christianity that was heavily persecuted back in England. He understood what it was like to be a stranger under attack in a new place. So after arriving in the new world to build his new colony, he approached the monopoly. People negotiated a fair price for the land that he wanted and then bought it. I get the feeling that, from the very beginning, William Penn wanted to think a little different. You wanted people who lived in his colonies worship freely. However, they chose and he wanted their new community to exist in peace with the native Americans, who had been there for thousands of years. The actual results were never perfect, but they represented a much better start than many other colonies at the time built on that foundation, Philadelphia, thrive, by seventeen. Fifty eight had become the largest in busiest ports in the american colonies and adjust kept on growing. Of course, it didn't help that it was home to great minds like Benjamin Franklin and colonial spy,
Peggy shipping. So, by the time the murmurs of revolution began to spread Philadelphia was a natural centre point much of what happened after that was probably part of your history. Lessons school. The colony state house there in the city was used as the location where the declaration of independence was signed, which is why, of course, they eventually changed its name to Independence Hall and they used it again for the constitutional convention, which hammered out the contents of the country, Duchenne, but, like any major city tragedy, wasn't far behind in seventeen. Ninety three wave of yellow fever washed over the city then home to roughly fifty thousand people. It arrived in late July of that year and by August first it was already claiming wives. It took four months to run its course, and it was so brutal that over twenty thousand people actually fled the city, nearly half of those living there.
when it was over. At least five thousand people were dead. Today, it's remembered as the most deadly outbreak of yellow fever in american history. All those dead needed to be buried too, and that's the other legacy of Philadelphia that most people aren't aware of when you're one of the largest cities in the country. It also means that you have a lot of burials to do. In fact, Philadelphia has a massive amount of cemeteries, at least two hundred and ten by most accounts, and part of that is all the fault of the founder, William Penn. In order for his freedom of religion, philosophy to truly be lived out, one of the things he believed was that graveyard should be established by each religious group as they needed it and Result, rather than finding a few large burial grounds, the city filled up with scores of little ones and, of course, the Revolutionary WAR and the American civil war. Both increase the need for burial space, eventually, the European garden style cemeteries became
popular combining burial grounds with something closer to a park in appearance, in fact, mommy. Cemetery was one of them before it fell into disrepair and was paved over in the nineteen fifties. Of course, But time has a way of paving over things on its own. Doesn't it as the decades of by more and more of those small old graveyards have been replaced with modern development, because humans are constantly looking towards the future and oftentimes. The past becomes a casualty in that process to move forward. Some people think that we need to leave our history. Behind in a city like Philadelphia, though, history isn't just something that happened, it's I've and active and seemingly all around us try as we might no amount of paving or construction can make it all go away. But if the store
these that are still whispered about the city today are true: it's easy to see why they want to there's a lot talk about in Philly from Independence Hall to the Liberty Bell, it seems that the early days of the United States are on full display their and because of that, those places and objects have become household names but there are some lesser known ones too. Instead, One thousand eight hundred and seventy local group of labourers, known as the carpenters Company of Philadelphia, built a meeting hall for its large two hundred member meeting for years later, delegates from twelve of the thirteen colonies needed a place to meet to discuss a british blue
eight of Boston, harbour a meeting that is now known today as the first Continental Congress and the Carpenters Hall was the perfect spot. During the revolutionary war. The building was home to a military hospital. Changing head between the Americans and the British at least once and then, when the dust settled, it became the home to the first national bank. In fact, it was its use as a bank that caused one particular experience to take in August of seventeen. Eighty nine two men entered carpenters Hall in the dead of night, and in May their way down to the bank vault in the basement as quickly as they could. They filled their bags with over one hundred sixty thousand dollars a fortune close to half a million dollars today, and then they left vanishing into the darkness. It turns out the locks on the building had recently been changed. The Locksmith the carpenters Guild had hired name. Pat lions did the work without any problems, but mysteriously skipped town about two days before the robber.
So, while the authorities didn't know who the two thieves were, they did try to track down lions after he was pretended he rolled on his partners in crime. One man, Isaac Davis, was finally captured four months later, while he was trying to deposit and obscene amount of money into another bank. His fellow thief, Thomas Cunningham, would never face justice, though it turns out that he actually lived in a room on the second floor of carpenters Hall, but died from yellow fever just a few days after robbing the bank, he's. Writing corpse was found later that Weak carpenters Hall went through a lot of changes after that, eventually, the up. there's boarding house was converted into an apartment for a permanent caretaker and it stay that way. For over a century and then in the nineteen sixties, a new family moved in the first thing they noticed was the odd collection of noises. They would hear each night what
The first night they encountered them the thumbs and being sounds above them were so loud that they called the police to search the home. The police found nothing in the attic other than cobwebs and dust, but they did report a powerful stench. Perhaps it was just a dead animal, or maybe it was an echo of the thief who died in the us from yellow fever years later, that same family reported hearing shouting in the lower level during the night it sounded to them, like group of men were having a lively debate with questions and shouts of agreements, filling the room in never seem violence, but with that many people inside the building, the caretaker certainly didn't feel safe, investigating based in their apartment that night, but when they were inspecting the meeting hall in the morning, they claim to notice the scent of pipe tobacco, but the oddest part of the experience was the date that it all happened September. Fifth of nineteen, seventy four, exactly two hundred years after the first meeting of the First Continental Congress,
The carpenters hall isn't the only building with shadows of the past inside it south of the city Stan's another relic from the birth of the nation, Fort Mifflin. And while it's tragic history happened long ago, some people think the aftershocks have lingered on. It was built by the British. As for Thailand battery in one thousand seven hundred and seventy two at what must have seemed like the worst possible time for them in hindsight, just a few years later, the Americans rebelled and for battery was taking over to use against the people who built it. They weren't too happy about that either and in one thousand seven hundred and seventy seven, the British destroyed the structure with cannon fire from the Delaware River. It said it roughly. Seventy five center. The soldiers inside the Ford at the time were killed in the attack, something that certainly must have left an echo of pain and suffering
through the war was over the United States military rebuilt, the fort renamed, it's after Governor Thomas Michelin and then kept it in operation for another century that even served as a civil war prison camp in the eighteen sixties, adding another dark chow. You're too its painful storing. Today there are a number of stories that are whispered among visitors to the fort. Some people claim to have periods than usual sites and sounds inside the blacksmith shop located on a site, doors that move on their own and the sounds of a hammer. Pounding on metal are all frequent occurrences there others, have heard the sounds of screaming near the officers quarters and while there's no way to prove it stories, have grown up around those sounds to provide an explanation.
It said that a woman named Elizabeth Pratt lived on the fourth with her husband, a military officer and their daughter, but family tragedy led to her taking her own life. To this day, visitors claimed they can hear her wailing and crying and grief with the most haunted location in the forty two. According to those who have been, there is inside one of the fortified gun structures, known as a case mate during war, the casemates were structures within the wall of a fourth that would house the guns, with small openings, to allow munitions to be fired at enemy ships. But at least one of those case, mate's was used for another purpose.
During the American civil war case made, eleven was converted into a prison cell for confederate soldiers and war criminals. One of those was a man named William how a union soldier who killed his commanding officer before attempting to dessert his post, how spent his final days in case made eleven waiting for his trial and sentencing and even carved his signature into one of the walls where it can still be seen today, When they executed him, the union forces actually sold tickets. On August, twenty sixth of eighteen, sixty four hundreds of locals handed over a bit of cash to come watch how stand atop the gallows with a black sack over his head and then plummet to his death, and then they all went home But there are stories that suggest that how never left some visitors case made eleven have seen odd shapes that move in the darkness and the figure of a and in a civil war. Uniform has been spotted there as well, and the clue that seems to suggest that this figure was William. How.
Well, it seems that those who have seen him had been able to describe almost everything about him, except for one glaring omission. His face, they say is covered by something dark shadows, perhaps or maybe even a black sack. tragedy comes in a lot of shapes and sizes and throughout the centuries Philadelphia has played hosts to a variety of them from hanging to outbreaks battles for freedom and petty crime
pain and suffering has stained just about every page of the city's history. One of the more forgotten tales, though, has nothing to do with the birth of America or the war for independence. Instead, its tragic story of just how bad humans are at dealing with their own failings and mistakes, and it serves as a reminder of just how dangerous our actions and This can be. The northeastern edge of the city is a neighborhood known as Somerton. Today, it's part of the urban sprawl that is Philadelphia, but in the late 1800s hundreds it was home to a work farm for mentally ill. Of course, an enormous amount has changed in the field of mental health over the past century and a half. So what constituted mental illness back then was a bit of a grey area.
In eighteen o seven, the farm was replaced by a set of buildings that would later become known as the by very mental hospital. It was a cluster of structures that will serve as the residents and treatment facilities for patients diagnosed by the local hospital. As mentally ill. But in one thousand nine hundred and seven there was a common belief that all patients suffered from physical causes that could be treated in the same manner and sadly, that's sweeping generalization. Let the decades of tragedy. The problems actually started in the local government, though, when the hostage.
Was being built. The official in charge of the project allowed corruption and negligence to invade every aspect of the construction contractors were allowed to build the city exorbitant amounts of money for the smallest things, drawing up the budget long before the facility was ready to open. As a result, much of the hospital was built with poor materials and with untrained labor. It said that within the first decade it was open one patient managed to escape the residence by literally chewing through a wooden window frame. Another managed to pick the lock on their door with the kitchen spoon illustrating too powerful since the building was poorly made and the patients wanted out of it. In eighteen, seventeen, the? U S, military paid, the hospital, a visit world war, one had left them struggling to care for all the wounded soldiers returning from Europe, and they were inspecting hospitals on the east coast that might serve as overflow help. But after inspecting the facilities at Highbury, they quickly.
Their minds. The hospital was becoming less of a treatment centre and more of a prison for the unwanted in society. Violent criminals were sent to stay there alongside actual cases, a mental illness, creating a terrible mixture of human struggles ad in the poor conditions and the vastly outnumbered staff, and it was a tragedy just waiting to happen and that staff was part of the problem to sure they were outnumbered, but they were also unqualified for the work that they were doing. In fact, a good number of the people watching over the patients were patients themselves, individuals who been promoted simply because
They seemed more stable than the rest. As you can imagine, I was a recipe for disaster in nineteen nineteen, one of the local papers began to investigate the daily happenings at the facility, and the details they reported were stunning. In one report it was claimed the two orderlies actually choked a patient to death in an effort to subdue him, but because these men were revealed to be former soldiers suffering from post, traumatic stress disorder, they weren't punished for their crimes they were given- raises other employees at the hospital had less savory past violent criminals were often sent to work there as an alternative to serving their sentences in prison for the state. They were cheaper to care for that way, but they were also entirely unqualified for the work they needed to perform and in many cases they use their positions, to abuse the patients by the nineteen, thirty is bribery. Mental hospital was barely recognisable as one patients
wandered the hallways completely naked the truck he used to deliver food to the past. Woody was the same one used to haul away the dead and violence and abuse were practically part of the system, so in nineteen thirty, eight the state stepped in and took over renaming it the Philadelphia State Hospital, but the needed improvements. Never came. The population had grown to over four thousand patients, double what the facility had been designed to care for, and I would say get worse by the nineteen eighties conditions were so bad that the hospital was at risk of losing its Medicare funding. In the end, is to tragic events in nineteen. Eighty, seven that helped close down the facility for good. In March of this year, a court ruled in favour of a patient who had been left in shackles for over three years, rather than properly care for him. And then, three months later, a female patient went missing from the building. It would take over nine weeks to find her body hidden outside on the hospital grounds, no suspects,
wherever arrested for her murder. Those horrible revelations led to an investigation which finally resulted in an ordered to close down the hospital. Yes, the bill
He sat empty for decades, as was so common with these old mental health facilities. And yes, it's empty shell became home to all manner of unusual reports and activity, but as far as I can tell, there are no collections of hauntings that people still whisper about today. It maybe that's all right because for a building like the Philadelphia state, hospital stories of ghostly visions and unnatural sightings are necessary to paint the place as hunted its past was already painful enough, as it is in all the things that were documented within those walls over the years certainly seem to include monsters they weren't of the supernatural kind. Instead, it was us
history can be a tricky thing to manage on one hand, it needs to be cared for and preserved so that we can pass it on to the next generation like an heirloom on the other. That heirloom is filled with all manner of unsightly mistakes, and it's easy to think the world is better if we never opened it up again. Thanks De there is a lot worth saving in Philadelphia for every Bible
mental hospital or eastern state penitentiary. There is an independence hall or Betsy Ross House. So much of the history that has been saved is there to teach and inspire and that something we can all be grateful for, but it doesn't make the shadows go away. Thanks to federal regulations regarding his best us, the Philadelphia State Hospital wasn't actually torn down until two thousand six, which meant that its hulking presence was there every day for years, reminding people of the horrors committed inside it. In the name of science, between the inhumane treatment of the patients there and the staff barbaric approach to mental illness It's no wonder locals as soon for years that the place was cursed in a decade's between disclosure and demolition. Police were called to the property, hundreds of times fielding reports of satanic rituals and other criminal activity Today, the land at once stood on is mostly occupied by a modern retirement home. Although there are
Wilson, remnants of the old hospitals, roads snaking around the southern edge of the property reminders of a past that isn't so easy to bury and over at Fort Michelin, tourist still shuffle through each day to enjoy any experience. It's hard, the blame them to lay out and history of the fort really does set apart, and so much of it has been preserved. If you were to stop, I today you'd be able to walk the grounds on the main level and also two or three Some of the buildings, including the casemates down to low visitors to the place, seemed to enjoy the educational nature of the tours offered there and that many people over the years have walked out with a smile on their face, which they've blamed on one of the tour guides who assist
They say this man dressed in impeccable period, clothing and tells jokes and answers questions, while he shares amazing, forgotten details about the fort it supposed to be quite the experience, but perhaps it's a different kind of experience than everyone understands. You see. Some of those tourists have stopped by the office before leaving just to pass on a kind word about their entertaining to our guide, but it said that the staff there have always sent them away with a bit of news. That's both sad and unsettling. No one fitting that description works at the Fort Philadelphia past is unquestionably an american treasure
but I hope you ve also enjoy the tour through some of its less savory locations to because there's just as much to learn from the darkness as there is from the light. However, unsafe in my feel, but Philly has also been home to the bizarre, and I found one last tale that I think you're going to love stick around after this brief sponsor break to hear all about it. This episode was made possible by staff stock. Come if you're a small business owner you're busy enough as it is either have time to deal with the hassle of guilt to the post office with stamps dot com. You can skip the trip and never waste another dollar or minutes stamps that come with you print official postage right from your computer. So you can spend less time post office and more time running your business simply put stamps dot. Com saves time, money and stress for more than twenty years stamps that comment
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save time and money this year with stamps dot com sign up with the promo code, Laura for a special offer that includes a four week: trial, free postage and a digital scale, no long term commitments or contracts just go to stamps dot, com click on the microphone at the top of the homepage and then type in the word lure that stamps dot com offer code lure stamps dot com never go to the post office again was born in Eastern Europe and one thousand six hundred and sixty seven. Although, if I told you the country of his birth, was Transylvania, you might conjure up the wrong idea. Johan wasn't a bloodthirsty warlord. He was a scholar effect by the age of twenty two. He had already been published multiple times and had earned a master's degree in
Oh Johan was a thinker, you loved wrestling with new ideas, challenging old ones and carving a path for himself rather than following the well worn rights in the road. So it was no surprise when his studies led him to Germany, where he met another Johan.
this one Johan Zimmermann Zimmermann was a disgrace. Lutheran minister, he had a sort of revelation at some point in his career and began telling everyone he met that the Lutheran church was the Anti Christ. Naturally, he was fired from his position and that new found freedom allowed him to craft his own small colt. He called it the chapter of perfection and by the time he oh hi, kelp arrived in Germany. It was growing. The group held a lot of beliefs that aren't particularly necessary for you to enjoy this story, but one of the key tenants of their faith was that a life in the wilderness would be a better way to wait for the end of the world, which Zimmermann predicted would arrive shortly, and what better placed to look for that sort of environments. Then the new
and thanks to William Penn's insistence on freedom of worship, they knew just the colony to move to. They were set to depart Germany in August of one thousand six hundred and ninety three, but before they could Zimmerman, took ill and died in his place. Johan kelp was appointed the new leader of a chapter of perfection, and then they boarded their ship and set sail for America. They arrived in the infant. dulcea and then headed north following the school river and then with a hidden creek north of that and that's where they built their first community. But they kept the low profile, most likely afraid of the same sort of religious persecution they suffer through in Germany and there they dabbled in also. Of less mainstream activities like alchemy and new morality. They held festivals and spoke about visions from angels who visited them in their dreams, but Firstly, they just spent hours each day in meditation and prayer. Yo
kelp began to call himself copious and if the records are correct, he later sat for a portrait that would turn out to be the first known oil painting in new world. But as the years war on the group began to shrink, there was a lot is happening to the south in Philadelphia of exciting changes and modern advancements, along with steady work and social interaction, all things that were missing in their little community, and then in seventeen o eight kelp got sick. It probably didn't help at the man had been living in a cave for the better part of a decade, historians think that it was demoniac then did him in, but not before. He managed to pass along and heirloom to his next. In line a man named Daniel Geisler, it was
box, perhaps as big as a modern shoe box, but its contents were a mystery because the lid was locked and kelp told his assistant to take itself to the school river and then toss it in no one. He told him should possess. What is inside, Geisler did ass, he was told by most of it he did travel down to the river and he probably stood on the Rocky Bank with a box in his hand, but his curiosity got the better of him, so he backed away found a hiding place among the rocks and then tucked the box inside it, and then he returned to his dying. Master kelp, however, was having none of it. He instinctively knew what Geisler had done and scolded him for his deception.
Then, with the lecture complete, he sent the man back to finish the job in Geisler like a dog with his tail between his legs hurried out. To do it soon enough. He was standing on the bank of the river and he sent the box sailing into the air. It said that when the container hit the water it instantly ignited into a ball, a fire knowing their experiments with alchemy. It could have been filled with some volatile chemical, but that's no fun in the world. The folklore is it no, instead its belief that the box contained the actual philosopher's stone which sadly vanish beneath the rivers current, never to be seen again. The chapter of perfection die Shortly after Johan Kelp passed away, but there are still remnants of their community if you know where to look for them, the cave he lived in, like a hermit is still out there in the woods like a rough hewn tomb covered in MOSS
dead, leaves, and there are neighborhoods all around it, because of course there are people are good at bearing the past. After all, and throwing up subdivisions on the site of an ancient religious commune certainly fits the bill, but it also makes it more differ. To see the past you'll know you're in the right area, though, when you see the street signs Johann Kelp might not live there anymore, but plenty of people can say that they live near a place that he left his mark on. A street called hermit Lane. This episode of law was written and produced by me, Erin Monkey, with research by Marcel Crockett and music by Chad. Lawson more is much more than just the podcast, though there's a book serious avail.
And bookstores in online and two seasons of the television show on Amazon. Prime video check them both out. If you want more lore in your life, I also make two other pod casts air and make his cabinet of curiosities and unobserved here and I think you'd enjoy both of them. Each one explores other areas of our dark history, ranging from bite sized episodes, the season long dives, into a single topic. You can learn more about both of those shows and everything else going on over. In one central place, the world of lore dot com, slash now
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Transcript generated on 2022-03-12.