Sunday, August 11, 2013

Haunted Lighthouses



Lighthouses have guided countless sailors safely to shore on moonless, starless nights. I love the history, mystery and romance of lighthouses and their keepers, told in the stories, which have been passed down through the years. Legends claim that these four lighthouses are haunted.


The Pensacola Light is located in Pensacola, Florida and is surrounded by huge, old live oak trees laden with Spanish moss, which give it an eerie feel. According to the legends, Jeremiah was the first keeper of the light station, which was built in 1826. He and his wife, Michaela, moved in and Michaela, who loved the lighthouse, maintained it in impeccable condition. In 1840, Jeremiah died and some believe that his wife stabbed him. Upon her husband’s death, Michaela became the new keeper and she served in that capacity until her death in 1855.

The original lighthouse was evidently poorly instructed and a new one took its place in 1859. According to legend, Michaela, already deceased, was unhappy about that and one of the workmen rebuilding the tower reported having a water hose yanked from his grip. Years later, mysterious stains, which looked suspiciously like blood and couldn’t be scrubbed away, appeared on the floor of the rebuilt lighthouse. Visitors have reported hearing their name called and feeling someone breathing down their neck – when there was no one else there.

The Fairport Harbor Lighthouse is located on the shore of Lake Erie, at the mouth of the Grand River in Fairport Harbor, Ohio. It was originally constructed in 1825 and was rebuilt in 1871. Captain Joseph Babcock was the first keeper of the reconstructed lighthouse and he raised his family there. Mrs. Babcock, who kept many cats as her pets, fell ill and was bed-ridden while living there.

To this day, many claim to have seen the ghost of a gray cat, who appears in a puff of smoke, running about upstairs. A mummified cat was found by a worker years after Mrs. Babcock’s death and it is still displayed in a glass case at the Fairport Harbor Museum.            

The St. Simons Lighthouse is located on the southern tip of St. Simons Island, Georgia. In 1880, an argument between the lighthouse keeper, Frederick Osborne, and his assistant, John Stevens, ended with a fatal gunshot. Although John continued to tend the lighthouse after Frederick’s death and was never charged with his murder, it’s rumored that he often heard the sound of Frederick’s footsteps in the vacant tower. Over the years, many others have claimed to hear the footfalls.

The White River Light Station is located in Whitehall, Michigan in a scenic setting. The lighthouse’s first keeper, Captain William Robinson, served for forty-seven years and, at age eighty-seven just before he was going to be forced to retire and to vacate the premises, he died in his sleep. Some attribute the mysterious sounds of a cane thumping and someone pacing upstairs to be him and the museum’s curator reports that, if she leaves a dust rag near a certain display case, she returns to find the rag moved and the case dusted. Is the Captain’s wife, Sarah, still helping her elderly husband care for his beloved lighthouse?

20 comments:

  1. Wonderful post, Pat, with a romantic, historical, and spooky theme. Sounds like a fine basis for a series of mysteries...

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    1. Well, John, I can't get enough of lighthouses. As to a series of mysteries, well, you never know. I will say that in my fourth Malone mystery, which is in the very early stages of plotting, there will be a lighthouse. :)

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  2. What is it about lighthouses? What makes us want to climb all those steps? I have learned to resist. I didn't know so many were haunted.

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    1. Dac,
      I've visited a lot of lighthouses and I love them all! Of the ones I've seen, these are the only four that are said to be haunted - at least as far as I know.

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  3. Everyone loves a good ghost story, and these are surely the fodder of ghostly books. I hope you include more stories in the future.
    Marja McGraw

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    1. Thanks, Marja. As I just replied to John, there will be a lighthouse in the fourth Malone mystery. (I need to finish the third book first.) :)

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  4. Whether haunted or not, lighthouses are fascinating. Looking forward to the next Malone mystery, Pat.

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    1. I agree, John. I plan to see a few more lighthouses when I go on my next (much needed) vacation. :)
      I'm getting close to completing the third Malone mystery and I plan to send it to my publisher within the next two months. Fingers crossed, it will be published early in 2014.

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  5. Lighthouses are rich in character and history...and apparently spooky ghosts! This was a great post Patricia.

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    1. Thanks, Chris! I had so much fun writing it.

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  6. Very interesting post, Pat. I believe in ghosts, though I haven't met any. I do put them in my books occasionally. I think a lighthouse setting would make a great mystery series.

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    1. Marilyn,
      I've got my hands full right now with one series but, as I mentioned to John Daniel, you never know. :)

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  7. Really interesting post, Pat. This concept might make a great idea for your next novel. Just a thought.

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  8. I love lighthouses, Patricia, and live not too far from the Montauk Lighthouse, the oldest in New York State, commissioned by George Washington in 1792. I've never heard that it's haunted, but a mystery writer like you could easily make it so! Thanks for an interesting post.

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    1. Eileen,
      I've seen a few lighthouses in New York but not the Montauk Lighthouse. One of these days I plan to see it though. You might say it's on my lighthouse bucket list. :)

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  9. Pat: I like that: lighthouse bucket list. I too love lighthouses and I'm surprised that, given the amount we have here in New England, there's not a haunted one on that list. On Cape Ann (Mass.) where I grew up there's a great boat tour that's very popular with tourists and best of all, is under two hours. It's a lighthouse tour where participants can view five working lighthouses up close. I've seen some beautiful examples over the years. They've evolved from kerosene to electricity to solar/digital. May they forever reign! Sharon Love Cook

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    1. Sharon,
      Several years ago, I went on a tour of New England, including Massachusetts. I was in lighthouse heaven! My favorite was the Gay Head Light on Martha's Vineyard. I'll definitely have to go back someday to take the tour you mentioned!

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  10. Hi, Pat,

    These are great stories and I love the photos! Thanks for sharing them with us.

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    1. Thanks, Jacqueline. I took the photos myself when I visited each of the lighthouses.

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