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"The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing."  Socrates

Belle Grove Mansion

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          On February 6, 2021, High Spirits of Palmerton Paranormal embarked on its first ever live stream investigation in beautiful King George Virginia.  Belle Grove Mansion, tucked tightly against the banks of the Rappahannock River, welcomed us with the southern hospitality only movies are made of.  The rich colors of the oval office envelop all the walls of the great halls and the embellishments of the manor draw you in with every breath.  A crisp river dew lightly kisses your cheeks sending chills down your spine giving rise to a sense of confusion; was that a drop of dew on your cheek or something more sinister?  As you turn the corners of the beautifully decorated halls dated timepieces give sense to an enigmatic nostalgia that keeps you guessing where those white mists in your peripheral are originating from or where those dark shadows are heading.  Longing for peaceful sleep in the comfortable queen canopy bed becomes quite the conundrum when the silence of the night erupts into a terrific fear.  Belle Grove mansion truly is a beautiful trauma onto itself.; an interesting dichotomy of beauty and horror when beneath its charm you uncover the sordid details of the untold stories. The tales of those who died the untimely deaths and the demise of the men, women and children who unjustly fell victim to the rich and those who were the casualties of illness and war. 
     

          The story of this great southern beauty begins with the German emigration of the Hite family to the Shenandoah Valley in the early 1700s which resulted in the construction of the home on the face of the river by the grandson of the original settlers.  The home was to display the social status of Issac and Nelly (Madison) Hite.  Nelly, sister to the future president James Madison, lived in the home with her husband Isaac who had fought with the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War.  The couple had 3 children between them.  After Nelly’s death, Isaac married Ann Maury with whom he had 10 more children prompting an extension of the manor.  The growth of the family resulted in the glorious west wing of Belle Grove.  Between 1783 and 1851 Isaac owned a distillery, a general store, a gristmill and a sawmill, in addition to 7500 acres.  Isaac Hite was also deeded 15 families of slaves during this time.  Today there are ongoing archaeological efforts to honor these families at Belle Grove Mansion by continuing excavation research efforts.  Isaac Hite died in 1836 followed by Ann in 1851.    In 1860 the Cooley family bought the mansion which exchanged hands several times during the Civil War.  The most notable occupation of Belle Grove took place after Union General Philip Sheridan invaded in the fall of 1864 killing men, women and children inside the home during the Battle of Cedar Creek On October 19th. The Brumback family later bought the home in 1907 followed by the Hunnewells in 1929.  The home was stripped to its foundation and restored to look exactly as it did during the 1800s in the late 20th century.  

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

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          Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, regarded by locals as Weston State hospital, was built between 1858 and 1881 as the second largest hand cut stone edifice in the world next to only the Kremlin.  It was under construction throughout 1881 but opened its doors to patients in 1864. Originally built to house 250 patients, at the height of its trauma and sordid operations, it housed over 2400 patients.  The Asylum was under order by the state of West Virginia to halt operations in 1996.  However, due to horrendous conditions it abruptly closed in 1994.  Throughout the last decades of the 20th century mental health reformers saw to the closing of the hospital due to poor health conditions, treacherous treatment of patients and numerous questionable deaths and murders.  

         In the 19th century, the hospital began operation prior to the completion of construction due to the outbreak of the Civil War as a field hospital.  In later years, patient admissions records show a history of misdiagnosed illnesses and ailments as priority patients’ admissions.  Due to the archaic laws of that time frame husbands could admit a spouse to the asylum for any number of reasons and that patient would sit until the spouse returned. These were the majority of patients second only to violent offenders.   Sadly, many of these women were never retrieved or released and died at the hospital.  Woman who were pregnant gave birth at the hospital and their children lived there until they were 18 or were adopted; whether they were ill or otherwise.  Many children were also left there by parents who could not or who were not willing to care for them.  Sadly, many died under suspicious circumstances.

         Many methods were used to treat mental illness but none were more notorious than the trans-orbital lobotomy.  Performed by the infamous Dr. Walter Freeman, these procedures were often performed on patients who were handpicked by doctors and staff as well as Dr. Freeman himself at the asylum.  These patients were then moved to recovery in the basement of the Asylum and later to the rehabilitation room.

        Ironically, intended to originally be completely self sufficient with a dairy, farm, cemetery, and water works Trans-Allegheny reached 666 acres at its height.  There are a multitude of wards and wings as well as separate buildings on site.  HSPP visited the Asylum in August of 2020 and investigated the outer-lying buildings.  This investigation included the main building which spanned the civil war hospital on the first floor, the violent men’s and women’s wards, the lobotomy wing, the recovery and rehabilitation floor as well as doctors’ and nurses’ quarters.  The children’s wing was also a focal point.

        Our investigation of Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum provided paranormal insight into the ongoing torment these patients continue to suffer.  They are neither cured nor released and the evidence collected provides as much proof that there is much to be said about unfinished business. The Asylum stands to be one of the saddest and darkest places we’ve ever and probably will ever go.  The cold and darkness of the stone is as enveloping as the sadness and desperation you feel as you walk the former footsteps of those lost souls.  We pray they find peace in their voices finally being heard, even if it must be now, centuries after they’ve crossed over the veil. 

Ohio state reformatory

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On March 6th, 2021 HSPP members were sentenced to a 6 hour stay at Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield Ohio.  Founder and Lead Investigator Allen Rex Jr., HSPP Medium and Founder Laurissa Rex and Lead In investigator Kandise Hicox (MD) quickly discovered upon investigation of the facility during this time the inmates that once lived out their life sentences there are in fact still carrying out those sentences after death; seemingly never able to escape the encapsulating emptiness that is the Romanesque architecture of their eternal tomb.

Ohio State Reformatory sits on a field that once trained troops during the Civil War.  Later the land was purchased by the city for the construction of a prison that would later become the Ohio State Reformatory.  Built between 1886 and 1910, the Ohio State Reformatory was designed with cathedral-like architecture to remind prisoners of spiritualism.  This reminder would be intended to psychologically trigger a spiritual rebirth in the most hardened of criminals.  In 1896 the first 150 prisoners were brought to the prison.  In 1990 the prison closed its doors forever as it was ordered to do so in a 1986 federal court decree citing inhumane conditions.  Due to financial issues that led to delays in the construction of the replacement facility that now stands to the west of the closed down Ohio State Reformatory the shut down did not fully take place until 1990.

HSPP had the pleasure of navigating the long and narrow icy cold corridors where we encountered numerous entities. Some were still carrying out their sentences, while some reconciled themselves and repented, others continued their lives of crime and ruled the cell blocks with iron fists while former officers and rival inmates kept watch over their posts as they did long ago. One thing was as clear as the air was icy thick; their life continuing after death in those corridors and if you listen close enough you can hear it echoing in the raspy whispers of the EVPs of some of Ohio’s most violent and frightening criminals who hunted us as we lurked their dark cells this lonely winter night in the freezing Midwest.
 

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