Little James c.1877

On the northern end of Cordova street, in our nation’s oldest city, lies a catholic burial ground with the name “Tolomato Cemetery”. It served as the Catholic burial ground for the city; beings inside the city walls was considered “consecrated ground”, only Catholics could be buried there. The first recorded burial in this cemetery is from 1786 (a woman named Gertrude Pons), making it one of the oldest cemeteries in the nation.

A small, lonely tombstone stands in the front of this cemetery, the tombstone of little James P. Morgan, who died at the age of five years and ten days old on November 28, 1877, cause unknown. James has been, quite literally, at the forefront of many ghost tours for as many years as I can remember. Children say they see him up in the trees playing around, swinging his feet. It is rather ironic that James is buried by himself if you know about his story- one that many continue to tell nightly. James was buried in this cemetery, tragically, long before his parents died. It seems as though his parents suffered an insurmountable amount of grief in their lifetime; James also had two siblings pass on long before their time. Agnes, aged two years, and Arthur, aged seven years. Both of his siblings are buried in the cemetery at the Shrine of our Lady of la Leche on what John F. Kennedy called “the most sacred acre”- The Mission of Nombre de Dios, NOT the Tolomato cemetery where James is buried. (They both died after burials were no longer permitted in the Tolomato- 1884.) Thus, little James seems to be alone in every sense of the word.

I was giving a ghost tour tonight, telling about the spirit of James, when a guest asked me to look at a photo he caught. Was it the James playing in the tree? We looked back a where the picture was taken, thinking it must have been Spanish moss. No Spanish moss hanging in that area. We thought perhaps it could be a light from someone’s car passing by- no cars. We even thought maybe a camera flash was the trick- but how in this exact pattern? It sure looked like someone playing in the tree from my angle, but surely we couldn’t have been this lucky to catch James AS I was talking about him. But perhaps we did. We could find no other explanation for this figure in the tree, even after taking other photos and trying to recreate anything even remotely close. What do you think?

I’ll end this post with a quote from Sherlock Holmes I think applies in this situation:
When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

What do you Believe??

Good evening and allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Lisa and I have the privilege of working with some amazing ghost guides here in Saint Augustine.  When asked to be a part of the A Ghostly Encounter blog, I immediately thought “how cool would it be to bridge two haunted cities together!”  I decided that I would introduce you to my hometown of Bucks County, Pennsylvania and its surrounding counties.

St. Augustine, being known for its paranormal activities and haunted locations always reminded me of back home.  You see, we also have a “haunted” jail that folks flock to in hopes of capturing photos and paranormal sightings.  The jail that I speak of, in Pennsylvania, is known as the Eastern State Penitentiary.  Its 142-year history is full of suicide, madness, disease, murder and torture, making it easy to imagine the spirits of troubled souls left behind to roam its abandoned halls.

The Eastern State Penitentiary was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world. It operated from 1829 until 1971. The penitentiary refined the revolutionary system of separate incarceration. At its completion, the building was the largest and most expensive public structure ever erected in the United States and quickly became a model for more than 300 prisons worldwide.

Notorious criminals such as Al Capone and bank robber Willie Sutton were held inside this horrific institution. The harsh punishments used on prisoners are enough to make you shiver even without seeing a ghost. There was the water bath, in which inmates were dunked then hung out on a wall in winter until ice formed on the skin. The mad chair, which bound an inmate so tightly that circulation was cut off, later necessitating amputations. The iron gag, where an inmate’s hands were tied behind the back and strapped to an iron collar in the mouth, so that any movement caused the tongue to tear and bleed profusely.  “The Hole,” an underground cell where unfortunate souls had no light, no human contact, no exercise, no toilet and little food and air. 

Cellblock 12 is known for echoing voices and cackling; Cellblock 6 for shadowy figures darting along the wall and Cellblock 4 for visions of ghostly faces. Many people have reported seeing a silhouette of a guard in one of the towers. The sound of footsteps, wails and whispers are heard over and over again!!

Due to its ominous appearance, gloomy atmosphere, and long history, Eastern State has been used as a location for television programs and films about hauntings. Television shows like Ghost Hunters explored the paranormal at Eastern State. Eastern State was also used in an episode of Cold Case titled “The House” which dealt with a murder after an inmate escape. For the show, the prison was renamed Northern State Penitentiary.

In the PlayStation 2 game, The Suffering, players can find a video documentary of Eastern State Penitentiary, one of the inspirations for the game.

Perhaps hauntings are a self-fulfilling prophecy — if you want to have a haunted experience, your imagination just might make sure you do. Certainly, there are thousands of visitors who say they’ve experienced no odd feelings, no sudden chills, no strange sounds, no apparitions. And yet there are plenty who say they have.


Demons and Ghosts

Good morning Ghostly Crew!

Today we are going to talk about the difference between demons and ghosts and what are the signs to tell them apart. So first and foremost, the defining difference between them is that a demon is an entity that previously was not living while a ghost is a human/living spirit. Not all Ghosts are good spirits. The tragic truth is there are some truly evil people in the world and when they die sometimes that evil stays with their soul. Demons, on the other hand- it really depends on your own beliefs, but in the paranormal world research shows demons as harmful entities. Certain cultures, such as the ancient Greeks, believed that demons could be both good and evil. According to several sources, Socrates, Ancient Greek philosopher, was believed by many to be protected by good demons.

Whether you have a ghost or a demon haunting your home, your house will have an unsettling feeling to it. For ghosts, that unsettling feeling may come and go. This is because the ghost is pulling energy from wherever it can and you are feeling the change of electricity in the air. This is something very difficult for ghosts to do as they do not have unlimited energy. They are organic energy. Ghosts will also come in two forms other intelligent or unintelligent. Intelligent meaning they are aware of their actions and of their death, unintelligent meaning the latter.

Demons are intelligent beings that will change the energy of the home until that are removed from the house. Sometimes this is easy to do and sometimes it is very difficult and draining on a family. We are not sure where demons come from or why they are able to walk the earth preying off of humans, although different religious groups have their theories. The first difference you’ll notice with a demonic possession of a house is the faint smell of rotten meat. Animals will notice these demonic entities more as they stalk and prey on your energy fields. If any demon begins preying physically on a person(s)- immediate action is to be taken.

Stay tuned for how to protect yourself from a spirit (ghosts and demons)

Have a ghoulish day
-Renee Riso
Ghost Tour Guide and Ghost Enthusiast

Blue Light at the Castillo?

First of all, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Morganne and I have been a guide with Ancient City Tours and A Ghostly Encounter since 2008. It never ceases to amaze me the sheer amount and diversity of paranormal happenings in our old city. Last Saturday, May 11, 2019 I was preparing for another ghost tour just like any other Saturday. As with all of the other nights, you never know what to expect. I was thinking of traffic patterns, the size of my group, logistical routes and stories that would fit best. It always seems like the most miniscule, cracked, can’t-remember-stories seem to show themselves when you are least prepared. Then you are left to try and connect the pieces so you don’t end up looking like a fool in front of your thirty-some guests!

We got to the Castillo and I immediately noticed the grounds were very busy for that time of night. My guests were investigating in a few, well thought out spots, when a woman on my tour I came to know was from Kentucky came up to me and said “I don’t know if I got something in my picture, what do you think?” I glanced down at this photo taken only moments before and was met with bewilderment. What was this blue light I was seeing? I had gone over the happenings in the city ten times in preparation for my tour; surely I knew there was nothing going on at the fort tonight. There were no lights to speak of in this location, let alone blue lights- and nothing to reflect off of in mid air. “I don’t know what that is..!?” I replied. But I HAD heard of this blue mist before, and we were just about to divulge.

A tour guide I’ve known for many years, and one that still works with me today I’m glad to say, told me of a time he and another guide went out on the town to experience “spirits” of the other kind- he was successful. They decided to visit the Castillo at the almighty “bewitching hour”- admittedly, the same time as “last call”. They got to the fort grounds and began walking around, taking pictures, exploring on their own when something caught their eye. A blue light above the gun deck. They both confirmed with each other what they were seeing and it stayed around for long enough they both got spooked and headed for the hills (or in this case, the cab pickup location).

So was it THIS blue light that we captured above the fort, or maybe something else? It HAD been seen years before, and apparently has been seen again. Perhaps it is a Spanish soldier still running endless cannon drills who doesn’t know they’re gone. Or perhaps a prisoner making themselves known to anyone that will look. One thing is for sure, I definitely have another story to tell on my ghost tour.

A Paranormal Encounter

Join us as we investigate a true haunted pub tonight. We are bringing the tools, the cameras, and the investigators just to see if anyone there wants to show themselves to us. I’ll post report photo’s and documents later.

The Archeology report of this property is pretty phenomenal, which shows some remnants that something pretty ghastly likely took place on this spot!

The best part is: We will be doing this on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 pm till midnight thru the next few months. So Grab a friend, an open mind, and come learn all about what paranormal investigations are in a climate controlled, relaxed and great facility. Not to mention the first beer or glass of wine is on us!