Sunday, November 23, 2008

Smithy Leonard-The Lizzie Borden of Georgia

Another wonderful story recounted by Milledgeville historian Hugh Harrington is the story of the murder of Smithy Leonard. The murder took place on March 23, 1892 in Baldwin County near Milledgeville. Harrington mentions that this murder took place just a few months before the famous Lizzie Borden episode.

Smithy Leonard was not the youthful young damsel that Ordeoro Shaw was, as also reflected by Harrington in More Milledgeville Memories. Leonard was sixty years old, and her husband, Simeon C. Leonard, was the pastor of Black Springs Baptist Church. It was Reverend Leonard who returned home the day of the murder to find his wife lying in a pool of blood. She was hanging on by a thread, a thread that would soon unravel and allow her life to slip away. The Leonard home was, according to Harrington, "ransacked during the apparent robbery but nothing was found to be missing." A coroner's inquest found that the murderer had used an axe to kill Mrs. Leonard. The murderer never was found.

Harrington ends the story of Smithy Leonard with somewhat of a weird twist. On May 25, 1896, in Gaithersburg, Maryland, a man assaulted a young family, killing one young child. Later on, one Sydney Randolph was apprehended and arrested for the murder. A mob eventually broke in to the jail where Randolph was being held and nabbed him. He was hanged by the angry mob on July 5th. Right before Randolph was lynched, officials from the Superior Court of Baldwin County had sent a letter to officials in Maryland inquiring as to whether or not Randolph had scars on his face near his eyes. The officials back in Milledgeville thought that Randolph might actually be a man named Ben Temple. It was believed that Temple might be the murderer who killed Smithy Leonard. Maryland officials examined the body of Randolph, and to their astonishment, the scars were present.

Was Sydney Randolph really Ben Temple, and did this man murder Smithy Leonard? If he did, why? As Harrington writes at the end of his story about the murder, "Whether this man, using the names of Temple and Randolph, was guilty of the Smithy Leonard murder will never be known."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Update on the Tara Grinstead Post and Case

After my post about the disappearance of Tara Grinstead from Ocilla, Georgia in 2005, I got lots of emails and a few comments on the site itself. As you can see, that post got the most responses from readers. One person that emailed me concerning the case was heavily involved in the case itself and has been following it since 2006. He emailed me to discuss some of my hypothesis. I asked him if I could quote him. He never got around to responding to that, so out of respect for him, I will not give his name here, but I will update you on what he said to me in his email discussion.

In my post, I suggested that Tara's abductor probably drove her, in her car, to another location. I even surmised that the abductor was a man due to the driver's seat being pushed far back in the car, much further back than would be necessary for Tara to drive it. This researcher told me that the seat was moved by someone who got to the car before police could secure the perimeter. That same person also washed the car. So, there really is no proof at all that the car was driven after Tara disappeared. As a matter of fact, according to this professional, it is highly unlikely that anyone drove the car. It is his opinion that whoever took Tara did not use her car.

I also read recently that there was a strange vehicle, a black truck, seen at Tara Grinstead's home shortly after her disappearance. I have not heard what connection this vehicle had to the case, but there was something strange about the driver and the fact that he was parked at Tara Grinstead's house after her disappearance. If anyone has any additional information on that development, please post it here or email me.

The Murder of Ordeoro Shaw-Was Her Husband Michael Shaw Really Guilty of Her Murder?

One of my favorite local Georgia historians is Hugh Harrington. He specializes in Milledgeville history among many other things. I highly recommend his books Civil War Milledgeville and More Milledgeville Memories. One of the most interesting stories in More Milledgeville Memories is the story of Michael Shaw, a man hanged in Milledgeville on July 12, 1878 for the murder of his wife, Ordeoro. The murder took place on April 30, 1877. Mrs. Shaw was 24 years old.

According to Harrington, Michael Shaw left home the morning of the murder to chop firewood. Some time later, he heard a gunshot, prompting him to return to the house where he found his wife lying on the floor in a pool of blood with her brains bashed out and skull fractured. Beside her on the floor was her four year old daughter. It was also discovered that a lightwood knot was used to kill her and her arm was bruised and broken in places, obviously from an attempt to shield herself from the blows. It was also discovered that Mrs. Shaw had been shot in the head by Michael Shaw's gun, a gun that was nonetheless missing.

The four year old daughter claimed that two black men had killed her mother. Michael Shaw took the child and rushed her to the home of Sarah Moore, Ordeoro Shaw's mother. Soon after, a manhunt took place for the two black men who were said to have committed the murder. Dogs were used to pick up the scent. Two men were brought in who were unable to account for their whereabouts.

It was not long after that the murder case began to take on a very different nature. Now it appeared that Michael Shaw would be the prime suspect. This turn of events was the result of the four year old daughter changing her story. She now said that her father had killed her mother. Sarah Moore, the deceased's mother, believed her granddaughter. It was also brought up that Michael Shaw was not of the most upright reputation. Some time before this incident, he had been accused of killing a black man, as well as being part of the Ku Klux Klan. In addition, a man who lived with the Shaws, David Butler, testified that he had been out plowing the morning of the murder and saw Michael Shaw beat his wife with a log and then drag her in to the house where he then heard gunfire. Previously, Butler had testified that Shaw had been out cutting firewood when they both heard gunfire from the house. He said Shaw called out to him and then ran to the house. His new story was much different and made Shaw look guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt.

A detective from Atlanta, E.C. Murphy, was sent to Milledgeville to investigate the case. The district attorney felt that the evidence against Shaw was mainly circumstantial, and he wanted something more concrete. Rumors began to circulate that Shaw abused his wife and was considered a terror to the black community where he was thought to have been responsible for the deaths of a few black citizens. An anonymous letter was sent to a local police official saying that Shaw had murdered a black man and then thrown the body in his well. The letter encouraged police to search the well to find the skeleton. They did, and a skeleton turned up. Harrington ponders who sent the letter in his retelling of the story in More Milledgeville Memories. There was also a rumor that Shaw was part of a group of desparados called the Georgia Tigers. Harrington says in his book that there was never any evidence connecting him with any of these claims, but that this did not stop the local rumor mill. Nevertheless, it was after Murphy came to Milledgeville and opened his investigation that David Butler changed his story.

Shaw was convicted of the murder of his wife, and he was sentenced to hang. His execution was carried out on July 12, 1878, in a private hanging on a gallow constructed near the Oconee River. An eighteen foot fence was constructed around the gallows to shield it from public view. When Shaw's body was examined, it was reported that he died from strangulation. His neck did not break.

Was Michael Shaw guilty, or was he the victim of a duplicitous scheme? Why did David Butler change his story? And why did his little girl say that black men had killed her mother at first only to change her story later? And who sent that anonymous letter to local police alerting them that there was a skeleton in Shaw's well? After the murder, many people in the local area maintained that Shaw was innocent. He never admitted guilt while on the gallows, but he also never claimed to be innocent at the gallows that day. He claimed that he never received a fair trial. He said over and over again while he was awaiting his execution that David Butler had told lies in his testimony. It is true that David Butler was not the most reliable of witnesses. One Georgia Supreme Court justice wrote that David Butler was less than credible, not simply because he changed his original testimony, but that when asked, he did not know in what state he lived, how many days were in a week, nor how many months were in a year. Furthermore, he did not know how to count to ten, and he swore he had never tried to count that high. In my opinion, this makes his testimony highly dubious.

It may never be known if Michael Shaw was guilty or not. As a matter of fact, the whereabouts of his grave are unknown. His wife is buried in West-Neal Cemetery off County Line Road in Baldwin County near Milledgeville. However, as Harrington reports, that cemetery is overgrown with weeds and brush. Her grave is marked, however. To me, this sounds a bit like the case of Tom Woolfolk, who as you know from a post I wrote about him on this blog, was accused and hanged for murdering his entire family in Macon in the late 1880s. Macon is just a 45 minute drive from Milledgeville.

Show Tonight

For those of you following the blog, don't forget that I will be on Dimension X tonight at 10:00 p.m. with Dr. William Lester. Dr. Lester is a man after my own heart, having a Ph.D. in history from Clark Atlanta University, and having become interested in the weird and paranormal much like I did. I have told people before that researching the strange and paranormal can sometimes be a natural outgrowth of history. So many ghost stories and strange phenomenon are rooted in history.

The show can be accessed through the website

Once you are there, you can select the type of stream you have. Windows Media Player is the one I use and works well for me. The show will start at 10:00 and Dr. Lester told me yesterday that I would be on around 10:05. I would love to have you all listen in as I talk about my research, this blog, my Georgia Bigfoot book coming out next year, and other items that I have been researching.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Your Favorite Blogger Will Be On the Radio Talking About This Blog!!

I received an email today from Dr. William Lester, the host of a show called Dimension X. He has invited me to appear on his radio show in Atlanta on November 22. The show airs on the APSR radio network. The show's website is I will be talking about my blogsite, as well as my book on the legend of the Georgia Bigfoot, due out next year from Idyll Arbor Press.
Tune in and you can hear me talk about why I started the blog, how I got interested in these topics, as well as how I went about the research for my book. I hope Dr. Lester will allow me to discuss all those things.

Vidalia Man Commits Suicide The Same Way His Heart Donor Did, After Marrying The Same Wife

Tragically, there is another mystery that comes from Vidalia. Sonny Graham, who lived in Vidalia, began suffering from congestive heart failure around 1995. His salvation came when the Medical University of South Carolina contacted him telling him that a 33 year old man, Terry Cottle, had been a heart donor. Sadly, Mr. Cottle committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. His heart was available. Through this tragedy, Sonny Graham could have hope. The heart transplant took place, and Graham recovered. About a year after the surgery, Graham contacted the agency that helped him find the heart. He was given the name and address of Cottle's widow, Cheryl. Graham contacted her, and through letters, phone calls, and visits, the two formed a strong bond. Over time, the two fell in love, and Graham and Cheryl Cottle were married. She moved to Vidalia to be with him.

If the story ended there, it would have no place on my blog, but it was not to be. Four years after the two wed in 2004, Graham tragically took his own life, the same way that Terry Cottle had before. He shot himself in the head. He did it in the garage of the home that the couple shared in Toombs County. Cheryl was now a widow again. She had lost two husbands the same way, and ironically, they both had the same heart. Friends of Sonny Graham said he showed no signs of depression. Cheryl Graham herself made no mention of any concern she had about Sonny in that respect either. This is one strange story. Think of it. A man kills himself by shooting himself in the head. Then, his heart is given to another man in the next state. That man meets and marries the former man's widow. Years later, that man kills himself the same way the donor had, and leaves his wife as a widow a second time and in the same manner.

Some scientists report that there are over 70 cases of people taking on the characteristics and personalities of their organ donors. In fact, a woman from Lancashire, England claimed that her literary tastes changed significantly after a liver transplant she had. Previously, she had enjoyed the biographies of celebrities and pop-fiction such as The Davinci Code. After the transplant, she developed a taste for classical literature at the expense of her previous taste. Scientists say that the phenomenon is called cellular memory phenomenon. However, most in the medical field are skeptical of this and say there is no credible evidence to back this claim. But whatever the case may be, this incident in Vidalia sounds very, very strange. My prayers go out to Cheryl Graham. The news reports of this story can be found at the following links:

UFO Over Walmart in Vidalia, Georgia

My readers probably realize I grew up in South Georgia, Montgomery County to be exact. The city of Vidalia spills over the Montgomery County line just a bit. But the city is mainly in Toombs County. It is most famous as the home of the Vidalia Sweet Onion.

When I was a junior in high school, I remember hearing and reading about the sighting of UFOs above the local Wal-Mart store in Vidalia. As a matter of fact, I had worked at that store just a few months prior to the sighting of these flying objects. I worked in that store during the Christmas holiday in December 1990. The sighting happened February 16, 1991. I returned to work there in the summer of 1991.
So, I guess I just barely missed out on all the excitement.

The sightings took place, as I mentioned above, on February 16, 1991, and from what I can find, most of the activity took place over that Wal-Mart store on Highway 280 East headed toward the town of Lyons. The story reported that the local radio station, which in my guess would have been the local station 98Q, received over 30 calls about the strange silver disks that had red and white lights. It was reported that some think the objects were flying from Hazlehurst to Vidalia. One man reported that one of the four objects hovered over his car, making the car stall. The vehicle would only restart after the objects flew away.

As far as I know, there were never any reports of missing persons or animals associated with these sightings. The report I read stated that one police officer observed the flying disks, and his name was listed as Lt. P. McNeese. No other reports were noted immediately before these sightings in the area.

Perhaps visitors from another planet had heard how tasty our onions were down in Vidalia and just wanted to check on how to get a ten pound bag???

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What Was Archie Butts doing in Europe?

As many of my readers may know, I am very interested in the sinking of the Titanic. My love of Georgia history and Titanic lore came together when I found out that there were four Georgians on board the ill-fated luxury liner when it went down. They were Archibald Butt, Mr. and Mrs. Jacques Futrelle, and Isidor Straus.

I have always been fascinated by the story of Archibald Butt, even to the point of writing an article about him for New Georgia Encyclopedia. It can be found at the following link:

Major Butt made it so far up the political and military ladder that he became the military aide to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. When the two presidents became locked in a heated struggle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party and were going to run against one another for the presidency in 1912Archie was torn as to what to do. In the spring of 1912, President Taft sent Archie to Europe for a much needed vacation. Taft felt that the cruise and sea air would do Archie a world of good. How were they to know that the trip back would be interrupted by perhaps the world's worst maritime disaster? When the ship hit an iceberg and sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean on the night of April 15, 1912, Archie would be among those lost. His body was never recovered. Upon hearing that Archie was lost forever, President Taft was devastated, even coming to Augusta in the near future to help memorialize Major Butt.

So was Archie in Europe simply on vacation? Officially, the Taft White House said yes. They said that the only official duty he had while in Europe was as an official emissary to the Pope. He even paid a call on the King of Italy while he was there. However, rumor circulated in the days after the sinking that Archie was carrying official documents on behalf of the Taft administration that made it clear what position the United States would have if war broke out in Europe. World War One did not break out until 1914, but the tension and diplomatic conflicts that would lead to the war had been brewing for quite a while before that. Taft and his administration knew there would be trouble ahead. Rumors ran wild in Washington after Butts died on board the Titanic that he was carrying messages from Taft to the leaders of Europe that the United States would support whichever side was attacked first if war erupted in Europe. Although there was no real proof of that rumor, it persisted and even grew in strength as the years progressed. As a matter of fact, one of Archie Butts descendants teaches at the same college as I do. He reports that the story has persisted in his family for the past few generations as well. He remembers hearing his elders speak of Archie and his mission in Europe when he was a young boy.

So, is there any truth to the rumors. When war broke out, we did in fact side with the attacked. It would not be until 1917 that we officially entered the war, and President Taft was more than five years removed from the presidency. Wilson lead the nation when we finally declared war. But we did support those that were attacked rather than the provoker. So, did Archie really relay critical diplomatic messages to the leaders of Europe? The world may never know, and if there was any offical documentation, it is long gone, as it went to the bottom of the Atlantic on the cold night of April 15, 1912.

Montgomery County's Cooper-Conner House and Ghost Ram

In rural Montgomery County, which happens to be my home county, in the southeastern portion of Georgia, George and Nancy Cooper settled and built a house that almost resembled a small fortress. It was built somewhere around 1831. The reason the home was built this way was so that it could withstand attacks by local Native American tribes in the area. The outer walls of the home were made of large pine timbers about sixteen inches wide and six inches thick. These timbers were handcut and kept together by two inch wooden pegs. The home remained at its original site near the Dead River area in the southern tip of Montgomery County for years. Nearby is the famous local Dead River Cemetery where several Revolutionary War soldiers are buried. Not long ago, Brewton Parker College purchased the home and had it moved to the campus as part of its historical village display. Thousands of people tour the home and others in the village each year on the campus in Mount Vernon.

The house is the oldest surviving house in the county and it comes complete with its own ghost stories. The most famous of which involves a former history teacher and journalist, Kitty Peterson, who took her class to the Cooper-Conner House to illustrate local history and to engage in a little fun time through telling ghost stories. After stopping off at the Dead River Cemetery to talk about Revolutionary War soldiers buried there, Mrs.Peterson, chaperones, and her students headed down a wooded lane near the cemetery to visit the Cooper Conner House.

Once inside, Mrs. Peterson began discussing the home, how it was built, and a little history of the surrounding area. She then led her class upstairs to begin the ghost stories. As she began to tell her ghost story, she noticed that the sky was growing dark; she then heard a loud clap of thunder. Deciding that it was probably the better part of wisdom she sent one of the young men downstairs to the cars to make sure that the windows were all rolled up. However, although the sky was dark and thunder had been heard, there was not a cloud in the sky when Kitty looked out the window. This was weird, and many of the adults wanted to go ahead and leave the area in case the dirt road that led back to the main road got muddy in the rain. But there was no sight of rain, and no clouds in the sky. The students urged Kitty to continue with her ghost story, so she moved ahead. As she was in the depth of her ghost story, the whole audience jumped in fright as they heard what sounded as if the front door of the house had been slammed shut. Kitty sent a student downstairs to see if all was okay and to check on the front door. Kitty knew that since there was no breeze blowing, and if there were one, it would have to be a strong one to push the huge front door of the house shut. She felt that there must be someone there. But when the young man returned, he reported that there was noone there, and that the door was standing wide open. Stupified, the students and Mrs. Peterson wondered what could have made the noise that startled the entire class and sounded just like the huge front door slamming shut. Peterson then realized that there was a slight breeze, but that what little breeze was indeed present would have caused the door to open, not slam shut. She became nervous. She told the students that someone might be playing a trick on the class, so she took a quick head count. She was startled to find that all of the students were present and that noone was missing. Her students laughed and said that it was probably a ghost. Some even shouted out that they wanted her to finish her story. She decided that was best.

A few moments later, as she was well in to her spooky ghost story, the whole group was startled by what sounded exactly like footsteps making their way toward them up the steep staircase leading to the second floor of the Cooper Conner House where they were seated listening to a ghost story. The steps continued, and now they sounded like the sound of hoofs instead of human feet. Everyone's eyes widened. Students leaned in to one another asking if they were hearing things. Kitty thought it best to ask a few students to take a peek down the staircase to see what was making the noise. They did, and to their amazement, they saw nothing. When they reported this to Kitty and the other students, everyone became nervous and really scared. One student suggested that everyone go outside and see if they could find any tracks because what was making the sounds could have hurriedly walked back down the stairs and gone outside. Plus, it would have had to have made tracks in the dirt outside the house as it walked inside. The class gathered, moved down the stairs, and poured outside.

Once outside, they found that the entire yard was covered with hoof prints. Upon examining them, some of the teenagers in the group, many of which were avid hunters, said that the prints belonged to a ram. At this, Peterson decided it was time to leave. Everyone began walking back to their cars. As they moved away from the house, one young man discovered more hoof prints, but they were on top of the footprints the students and chapersones had made when they first arrived. They looked further and could see no hoof prints in front of them. What this meant was that whatever animal had made these tracks had done so AFTER the class had arrived, gone inside the house, and were seated listening to the ghost story.

About a year and a half after her class field trip to the Cooper Conner House, Kitty Peterson discovered a strange tale that might explain what happened that afternoon on the premises. In the past, Major Richard Coooper, a man who helped build the house, had been involved in the politics that led to the American Revolution. He was a fierce loyalist who hated Tories, those who were still supporting England and the King during the fight for independence. On a wartime trip to Savannah, Major Cooper met a Tory, and it did not take long for hatred to develop between the two. Things got worse between Cooper and the man and in time the two swore that they would not rest until the other was dead. That day came years later when the two met again at a tavern in Savannah. A fight ensued and Major Cooper shot and killed the Tory, who, as he lay dying, swore that Cooper had not heard the last of him. He swore that he was not yet done with Cooper. Then, he died. When Cooper returned home, it was no time before his servants and help began to complain that odd things were happening at the Cooper home. They reported doors standing wide open that had been locked tight before. But the most strange thing they reported was the sounds of animal hoofs walking across floors or climbing the stairway. Sound familiar? What is even more unnerving is that Kitty Peterson, nor anyone who was at the Cooper Conner House that day had ever heard of the legend of the curse, nor the stories of the mysterious hoof sounds in the home reported by the Cooper servants. Was this the ghost of the Tory returning to haunt Major Cooper? Who knows? But this story has been told for generations by the members of the families who owned the home before it was purchased by Brewton Parker College in 1991. Pictures of the house can be seen at this link:

I remember hearing this story a lot as I grew up in the area. I was even part of a committee who started a local history festival in Montgomery County that ran for about ten years. One of the events in the festival was a tour and reenactment at the Cooper Conner House. The old house is spooky, but it is a must see for any history buffs and ghost hunters. I remember feeling sort of uneasy as I wondered around the old house and went inside and upstairs. But I never heard the sound of hoofs. I have even met Kitty Peterson on several occasions, and I can attest to the fact that she is NOT one prone to embelishment. I believe there is something strange at the Cooper Conner House. In addition, I suppose in the interest of full disclosure, I should report that Major Cooper and many of the Coopers and Conners are ancestors of mine.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Mary Shotwell Little Vanishes at Lenox Square-Well, We Think!

I have always had an interest in cases involving strange disappearances. To me, there is something eerie about a person just vanishing. I have been to places where lost or missing people were last seen, and there is just something weird about being in a place like that. I am still committed to driving down to Ocilla, Georgia where Tara Grinstead disappeared so that I can drive by her house. However, since I posted that article on Halloween Day, I have received several comments at the site, as well as several emails about her disappearance. One gentleman, who like me has always been interested in strange disappearances, emailed me about another case that happened right here in Atlanta.

On October 14, 1965, Mary Shotwell Little disappeared. She was a secretary for the C&S Bank, which is now Bank of America. Mary had recently been married to a bank examiner and was living with him in an apartment in Dekalb County. Mary did not have any children. She was 25 years old, a sweet person, hard worker, and loyal employee. She and a coworker went to dinner the night she disappeared, and the last her friend saw of her was when she was walking back to her car in the Lenox Square parking lot in Atlanta. Before going to eat with her friend she had purchased groceries and put them in her car.

When Mary did not show up to work the next morning, her boss asked about her, and her friend with whom she had dinner the night before told him where she had seen her last. Her boss phoned the security personnel at Lenox Square and asked them to see if her car, a pearl gray 1965 Mercury Comet, was still parked in the lot. No car was found matching that description. Calls to her home went unanswered. Her boss got worried. Roy Little, her husband, was contacted, and he immediately returned home from a banking trip south of Atlanta. Around the middle of the day, Little's boss became annoyed that he had not heard anything, so he decided to drive over to Lenox Square to see if he could find her or her car. He found her car parked in the yellow lot. What he found inside seemed to come straight out of a nightmare. The groceries she had purchased the night before were still in the car undisturbed. There were bloodstains in the vehicle, and there was a pair of women's underwear in the console, neatly folded.

The case was turned over to Lt. Jack Perry of the Atlanta Police Department. Detective Perry was a well-respected, well-known homocide detective with a high success rate in breaking cases such as this. Upon investigating, Perry found out that Little had been receiving flowers from an unknown person days before her disappearance. She had also recently been receiving phone calls at work that seemed to upset her. She was heard saying that the person calling could come by and see her whenever he/she liked, but that she could not come over there. She was also heard to say, "I'm a married woman now." Who this was, and where "there" was, noone ever knew. She did not speak about these phone calls at all with her friends, family, or coworkers. In addition, Mary had been making weird statements in the days before her disappearance, saying she was afraid to be home alone and in her car alone. Noone knew if she was just being paranoid, or if she was having problems with her husband. Her husband was never really a suspect because he had an airtight alibi and would not have profited at all from her disappearance.

A month after her disappearance, Perry learned that Little's credit card had been used in North Carolina. This was a big lead. Little was originally from Charlotte and had family there. Perry thought that Little might have returned to her hometown without telling anyone. However, the strange fact remained that her car had been returned to where she had disappeared and she had left her groceries in the car. Also, why were various pieces of women's undergarments with bloodstains on them still in the car, folded neatly between the console at that? In addition, police had discovered that there was a thin red film all over her car, as if she had been down a dirt road. Even more perplexing was that the car was not there early the morning after she disappeared when her boss called Lenox Square security, but when he drove over there himself, it was back in the lot as described above. Had someone driven off in her car after she finished dinner with her friend and then driven it back before her boss arrived on the scene at midday? This was strange. Perry learned that the first time her card had been used was in Charlotte in the early morning hours of October 15th, not long after she had disappeared from Atlanta. Whoever got her, or if she left herself, must have driven very quickly to Charlotte, as it is a long drive from Atlanta to Charlotte, North Carolina, especially given that the highway system in 1965 was not what it is today. Then the question arises, "Did Mary then turn around and drive the car back to Atlanta?" If so, why? She could not have, for a few hours after her card had been used in Charlotte at a gas station, it was used again in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her signature appeared on both receipts, and authorities and family members confirmed that the signature was hers.

Perry decided that he had better go to Charlotte and Raleigh to interview the gas station attendants to see if they remembered anything about the transactions. Surprisingly they did. The gas station attendant at Charlotte said that he remembered a woman using the card, but that she had a cut on her head, was trying to hide her face, and seemed to be traveling with a man who was giving her orders. The gas station attendant in Raleigh told Perry that he remembered helping a woman who was traveling with two men, and that she was bloody, even having blood on her legs. Once again, Perry was stupified.

The Mary Shotwell Little case was never solved, and furthermore, the police file on her is missing. Jack Perry never could get over the fact that this was the one case he could not solve at all. He died of cancer in July 1995, never knowing what happened to Mary Little. She had no enemies, was not disliked by many people at all, and had no criminal or sordid past. There are some theories out there that she suffered from a psychological disorder and made herself disappear. You can click on this link for a website run by a researcher who contacted me via email about the Tara Grinstead case and believes that Grinstead and Little suffered from the same disorder and that this caused their disappearances. Here it is:

There is another site that includes a nice article about the disappearance; it was written by a journalist and researcher.

I doubt that Mary Shotwell Little is still alive, but it is possible that the psychological disorder theory is plausible. I would love to hear ideas about this.

Georgia Guidestones

Near Elberton, Georgia there is a monument of sorts that has intrigued visitors for generations. In 1980, a man by the name of Robert C. Christian contracted with a local granite company in Elberton to build what we now call the Georgia Guidestones. The stones sit outside of Elberton in a meadow. Robert C. Christian was not the real name of the man who paid to have these stones built.

The stones stand about 19 feet high and overlook Highway 77 right outside of Elberton. The monument includes four major stones, a smaller stone in the center, and another that tops the entire structure. Etched on the major stones are messages, or what many call "commandments." They are written in 12 languages, which includes English, Russian, Sanskrit, Arabic, Cuneiform, Egyptian hieroglyphs, and classical Greek. The commandments on the stone are quite interesting, and many critics say that they seem to could come straight out of any biblical prophecy text with their ideas of a unified world government and reduction of the world's population for management purposes. The other commandments include ideas of harmony and brotherhod.

Not much is known about Mr. Christian other than the fact that he identified himself as a Christian man who was, as author Randall E. Floyd writes in his book MORE GREAT SOUTHERN MYSTERIES, "...concerned with the welfare of humanity..." Making things more interesting is the fact that Cherokee Indians called this area the center of the world. A nearby plaque mentions that the Indians would come to that location to hold councils, dances, and religious ceremonies. Workers who were excavating the area and building the monument reported hearing strange sounds emanating from the hills in the area and other works collapsed of dizziness and lightheadedness during work on the project.

Thousands of people come to the area each year to see the stones. Noone knows much about the purpose of the stones, but many do say that the financier of the project, Mr. Christian, probably felt that the world was headed for apocalypse and that these stones would survive that fallout and could serve as a guide to any humans who were left after such an event, thus the reason that the monument is often called the Georgia Guidestones. I am planning to visit the area and take pictures in the near future, perhaps during the Thanksgiving break. I am very intrigued by this.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Lost Maidens of the Okefenokee

I encourage my readers to check out the books by E. Randall Floyd, who is now the publisher and owner of Harbor House Books in Augusta. Mr. Floyd is a longtime journalists, and he has even written screenplays. Before becoming the founder, president, and owner of Harbor House, he wrote a number of books on southern mysteries, many of which can be still found in bookstores and online. A colleague of mine gave me an old copy of one of Mr. Floyd's books that I simply could not put down when I got it. It is More Great Southern Mysteries and is a great read. In the book is a great story called The Lost Maidens of the Okefenokee.

According to Floyd, when conquistadores arrived in these parts in the late 16th century, they heard stories about a "...tribe of beautiful, dark-eyed, maidens known collectively as the 'Daughters of the Sun.'" These women were said to speak in accents of music and looked like angels. It was said that they lived in the Okefenokee on an island that was protected by swirling mists, deep rivers and alligator-filled lakes. Floyd goes on to say that later Creek legends tell of white settlers who became dizzy and unsettled as they searched for these women. Out of nowhere, these angelic-like figures appeared from nowhere and took them to an island nearby where they nursed them back to health. As soon as the white explorers were well again, they were whisked away in a cloud of smoke. Other stories include young Indian braves who encountered these beautiful women but that they were married and tried to have the young braves leave before their angry, jealous husbands came back to the village. Some later explorers in the swamp have claimed to have heard "soft laughter" and seen thin, clouded forms whisking through the swamp.

Floyd tells us that there are several theories about what and who this is. One in particular is that they are leftovers of the Mayan civilization that migrated to the Okefenokee over a thousand years ago. Other theories include tale of Atlantis. I had never heard this legend before reading Floyd's book. But I can tell you one thing; there are lots of myths and legends about the Okefenokee Swamp. On this blog a few months ago, I recounted a story of the Bigfoot attack in the early 1800s in the Okefenokee. There are other stories about giant skeletons being unearthed in the swamp. The Okefenokee is full of myth and legend. I will try to post more about these legends in the coming days.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Oakland Cemetery-More than Just an Historical Gem

It is no secret that I LOVE Atlanta's Oakland Cemetery. Right there in the midst of all the modern skyscrapers of the capital of the New South lies one of the most beautiful and unique parks in any municipal areas in the nation. What I mean by this is that Oakland is not only a cemetery, but it is actually a city park owned by the City of Atlanta, or, as I like to point out in my political blogs, the taxpayers. On my many visits, I have seen people strolling around the park with their pets, sprawled out on the grass reading, helping themselves to a picnic, or just jogging through. It is the final resting place of several Georgia governors, famed golfer Bobby Jones, author Margaret Mitchell, former Atlanta mayor Maynard Jackson, and thousands of Atlantans from yesteryear. If you have never visited, make it a point to do so.

Oakland is also home to a number of strange and mysterious happenings. I want to point out one here in the blog tonight. I would also like to recommend a great new book called GHOSTS OF ATLANTA: PHANTOMS OF THE PHOENIX CITY by Reese Christian. The story I am about to recount can be found in her book, among many others.

The story goes that if you visit the Confederate section, you will come upon perhaps the most famous monument in the cemetery-the Lion of the Confederacy!! It is a majestic, moving monument to the Confederate dead. The cemetery is home to hundreds of them, many from the Battle of Atlanta fought at the beginning of Sherman's famous March to the Sea. The Lion is modeled after the famous Lion of Lucerne. The monument depicts a dead lion, complete with a dagger in its heart. This is a tribute to those who fell in defense of the South during the War Between the States. Reese Christian writes in her book that, "It is said that each year at twilight on November 14, the date that General Sherman and his army vacated Atlanta to head south toward Macon and Atlanta, a 'roll call of the dead' can be heard in a ghostly voice, calling out the names of the dead who reside in the Confederate section of Oakland Cemetery."

On my many visits to the cemetery I have gone up the Lion of the Confederacy monument and there is always a feeling of sadness that I feel when I stand there. The monument is majestic. It should definitely be one of the places you visit in the cemetery when you walk through its grounds.