Saturday, October 30, 2010

Great Meeting with Dr. Alan Brown

At least three N.A.P.S. investigators met Dr. Alan Brown this afternoon at Turning Pages Bookstore, and he was very pleasant to speak with.  He signed our copies of Haunted Natchez that we purchased, and left a note in each.  I (Mike) bought one for my sister Millie Burke, a historian who teaches History at Trinity.  There weren't many people there at the time I was in the bookstore, so I was able to speak to him at length and ask him questions, such as which location in Natchez did he find to be the most haunted.  His answer was Magnolia Hall, due to personal experiences he had while staying there (which he mentions in the book), followed by King's Tavern.  I explained to him about N.A.P.S. and what we are researching and investigating presently.  Dr. Brown was very interested in what we are doing at King's Tavern, and asked if I would keep him abreast of our findings.  A couple of his books are solely on ghost hunting teams such as ours, and he has a reputation for having always supported and encouraged the teams that take this research seriously.  He gave me his card, and asked me to phone him and to talk.  I asked him in turn, if he would be available to answer any questions we might have, and be a consultant for us, and he said of course!  We were able to speak for quite a while, and he had many interesting things to say about Natchez, the sites here, and how haunted the South actually is.  At this time, others came in and wanted to speak with him and have him sign their books.  Kim and Michael DeLorenze also met him a bit later, and got to ask him several questions.  When I prepared to leave I went to shake his hand and to thank him for his work in this field.  He again asked me to stay in touch with him.  There is no doubt - I definitely will.  Thank you Dr. Brown!

Needles in the Haystack: Trying to Sift Facts from Natchez Democrat Archives

Chris J. handed off copies to me of several of the items he found in the Armstrong Library archives, of Natchez Democrat articles.  I have studied them from a law enforcement investigation standpoint, and list for you just a few of the notes I came up with in my initial review:

1) The articles from The Natchez Democrat contradict one another (surprise - surprise!), and not just in minor details.  Example, an article from 3/13/1977 states that "it (the dagger) was found in 1932 when repairs were being made on the building and a fireplace collapsed.  The dagger, along with three skeletons were unearthed."  Just three months later, almost to the day, on 6/12/1977, a separate article states that "there were skeletons found back in 1930 when sewage lines were being installed in what is now the restaurant.  The skeletons were buried without ceremony in potter's field.  Later, a jewel encrusted Spanish dagger was discovered when a chimney near the skeleton's former grave, partially collapsed..." 

2) Both do seem to indicate strongly that the skeletons were dug up, and not found in some cavity in a fireplace or chimney, which is alluded to in most of the "ghost stories."

3) It also seems fairly clear now, that the dagger was not even found directly with the bodies or even at the exact same time, but somewhat separate (see items 1 & 5).  Some of the "ghost stories" even say that the dagger was found sticking in the chest of the female.  There is no indication whatsoever, from what we have found so far, that these bodies were even the victims of murder.  It may likely be that they were, but it certainly leaves room for other possible explanations.  For example, these could be the remains of Indians buried there before the white man even came to the territory. For that matter, we have yet to find conclusive evidence that bodies were found at King's Tavern at all.  We have far more evidence of a dagger than any bodies (see photo of Anabel Maxie holding dagger in 3/13/1977 article, and item 4 below).

4) One article states that the dagger was sent off to the "Mississippi Department of Archives" for a study.  In this article (the one from 3/13/1977), Annabelle Maxie (a third article has her name spelled Anabel Young Maxie - which I think is the accurate one) says that the archives department had determined that the dagger was of Spanish origin.  Action Step: get to the MS Archives and locate that study.  Also, keep looking for the dagger itself.

5) A third Democrat article from earlier, on 2/23/1974, which focuses on Anabel's father Thomas Young, says that "the old Spanish dagger was found embedded in the mortar" when "the fireplace in the 'big cellar' was being closed up and some work being done on the chimney...".  Murder or Mortar?  Was this dagger simply being used as a trowel and got misplaced, or was it indeed a murder weapon?  [Something that has always puzzled me:  I know the story in Edgar Allen Poe's The Black Cat is spooky and amazingly clever (except that he bricked up the cat in the process), but can you see someone actually trying to hide bodies that way - bricking them up behind a wall?  How long it would take and all the effort, when all you have to do is go bury them in some dirt?  I mean, think about it.  This is two hundred years ago or so.  You don't just run to Home Depot and buy bricks and mortar and go to work.  Where did they get the bricks, and lime, cement and sand to make the mortar?  Back then that was a HUGE undertaking just to come up with the materials to do something like that.  Meanwhile these bodies are rotting and decaying.  It just never made sense.  

6) A fourth even earlier Natchez Democrat article from June 1949, which seems very detailed, doesn't mention the dagger or bodies being found at all!

I could go on and on.  Those are just a few things we must consider.  It appears that the most real "ghost" of all, in this case, may be the "ghost" of real, factual historical evidence!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Kings Tavern Remains Possibly Taken to Potter's Field

Natchez, MS, Friday, October 29, 2010 (N.A.P.S.)  Our investigators currently are running down leads that the remains of a female and two males supposedly found during renovation at King's Tavern, were buried in a part of the Natchez City Cemetery known as Potter's Field.  Don Estes, our Cemetery consultant, verifies that this would indeed be a place where bones and remains like that would be taken, as it was a place for unknowns and transients to be buried.  Don stated that the last person buried there was about fifty years ago, around 1960.  Potter's Field is a sparse wooded area located adjacent to Catholic Hill, in the rear portion of the Natchez City Cemetery.

Don also stated that records of the Natchez City Cemetery from about 1908 to 1940, were heavily damaged in a State Archives fire that occurred there in 1940.  However, Don stated that restoration efforts did save many of the files for Natchez.  Don has done an exhaustive search through the records, but to date has not found any indication of the burial of any remains that match what we are looking for.  The bottom line is, our records are not perfect from 1908 to 1940, which includes the 1930-32 time we are investigating, which is the time period these remains were supposedly found at King's Tavern. 

We also are following leads to find a William Maxie, husband to Annabelle Maxie who, we are told, was a Court Reporter in Natchez who lived at King's Tavern for many years.  She is featured in a June 12, 1966 Democrat article that has a photo of her holding the dagger that supposedly was found with the remains.  The dagger has since disappeared, and we are trying to locate it as well.  Mrs. Annabelle Maxie is deceased, but her husband William, who sources say used to own a store on Maple Street, is still alive and around Natchez today.  We are currently trying to locate him.

We will continue to diligently search to find solid historical evidence to support (or disprove) any of the stories, folktales and legends surrounding the historic King's Tavern, and the alleged ghosts that are said to be haunting it.  We are doing all of this research prior to our field investigation, which will put the entire Tavern under an electronic and video umbrella, using over a dozen high-resolution infrared and full-spectrum video cameras and other sophisticated electronic equipment, in mid to late November. 

Mark Macy - Spot On

These words, spoken by Mark Macy recently on the current situation of paranormal electronic voice phenomena are, to me, right on target:

"I believe those miracles and many more will return when we have learned from our mistakes - when we realize that the doubts, the fears, and the insecurities...the envy, the resentment, and the other dark feelings which we humans experience almost everyday and which we take for granted as a normal part of living here on earth, must all be kept under control when we are involved in any form of spiritual work, especially ITC research.  It is easy for us to say we are in harmony with others, but our hidden doubts, fears, and insecurities say otherwise.  We have to find those dark feelings inside us and bring them into the light to heal.  After all, we humans are spirit magnets, attracting into our lives spiritual influences that resonate with our attitudes.  If we are in doubt or in fear, we will attract spirits into our lives who stir up our doubts and fears.  If we love and trust the people around us, then we will attract spirits into our lives who will support that love and trust." *

I concur.  Here's my take:  The world in which we find ourselves, is one of human self-determining freedom.  No Augustinian deterministic fatalism here, the world is far too dynamic than to be set in some static chronological trap that tick-tocks us to the edge and off into the abyss.  To be sure, this freedom is set within a struggle of blood, bone and tears, but at the end of the tug-and-be-tugged-at day it is we who determine our own destiny - by our choices, our attitude and our decisions, in spite of the bastards who would "have us their way."  And, the not-so-normal-world flexes and pulses all around us, both influencing and being influenced.  So I ask, which invisible pals do you want to be hanging out with? 

* Source - The quote from Mark Macy is from EVP Technician Certification Course; PS301 Manual, page 18; Flamel College, Sacramento, CA.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Upcoming Team Meeting:
We meet next Thursday at 7:30pm at Civil Defense Offices.  The plan now is, to have a two part meeting - an hour to discuss some things, including the KT Case, then break out and do a mini investigation.  So, unless you hear otherwise, bring at least your minimum field gear to the meeting.

I (Mike) have recently linked up with Shelly Beard and Angela Burke of Mississippi Society of Paranormal Investigators (MSSPI) and exchanged a couple of emails.  MSSPI, as some of you know from exploring their website, is based in the Batesville, Potts Camp area in north Mississippi.  They have an experienced team of professional investigators, and a very comprehensive website that is full of information on a wide variety of paranormal subjects (a nice message board too!).  For those of you who haven't already been exploring their site and learning from these paranormal colleagues, their site is  We look forward to getting together with this team and swapping stories, ideas & theories, methods - just learning and having fun!  

Visits to the Blog site:
With this Blog site only being up for 18 days now, it has been encouraging to see the response and the amount of visitors dropping by to pay us a visit.  WELCOME!  This site, geared toward insiders and the Team itself, so far has been a complimentary website to our main site since the purpose of it is to focus outward, and to give potential clients much needed info and help.  As you can see by the little red dots on the turning globe to the right, we've had "hits" from all over the U.S., and other countries as well, including Russia, Argentina, Ireland and the Philippines.

T.A.P.S. Family?
Some are asking if we qualify for the "T.A.P.S. Family" of Paranormal Investigation Teams.  We're certainly open to it.  The only qualification of TAPS that I'm not sure about, is that they require a two year history of investigating.  If they mean us as an organization, then no, we would not qualify - because we just banded together.  If they mean do we have people with at least two years experience, then yes we would easily qualify. 

NAPS Investigator Chris Jackson Discovers "Goldmine" @ Archives

In Relation To Our On-Going Investigation into the King's Tavern Case:
Much detail to follow in next few days, but Chris Jackson (one of our Investigators) hit the archives at Judge Armstrong Library and discovered a goldmine of evidence that will need to be digested, cataloged, organized, and followed up on, including:

-Newspaper article with photo of woman actually holding the dagger that was found with the bodies in the fireplace; article is from June 12, 1966, The Natchez Democrat.

-Paranormal photo of an alledged ghost taken by the late Danny Richardson; a well respected professional photographer who worked for The Natchez Democrat.  Photo of the "ghost" is on location of the restaurant.        

-Many other newspaper articles, papers and photos

Action Plan:
We are getting copies of all of this evidence to place in our growing case file.  Three or four of our investigators are currently all over this evidence (Chris, Summer, Mike and Kim D) and are tracking down several avenues, including:

A) Locating the actual knife (Mike as LE Officer wants to look for blood and possible DNA evidence - a long shot, but worth a try).  Also to examine if knife fits with alleged time period.

B) Locate all newspaper articles and evidence from time period of the original finding of the remains and knife.

C) Record all names associated with the articles and track them down, if still alive, and get recorded interviews.

D) Track down members of Postlethwaite/Bledsoe family for interviews.

E)  Interviewing Danny's widow (whom Chris knows well) to see if Danny had other photos, and/or notes that would be relevant to this case or to our field of study.

We are still trying hard to locate what happened to the remains (if there ever were any) and where they may be.  Don Estes reports that he has been unable to find any record at the Natchez City Cemetery that they were brought there.  Still a dead-end (sorry) on the remains.  STAY TUNED - things are heating up.  We are also considering placing an ad in The Natchez Democrat asking for people who have factual information or have had paranormal experiences at King's Tavern to contact us.  Team members contact me with opinions, please.

King's Tavern: Far More Falsehood Than Truth

Saved under "my favorites" in my browser is a dedicated folder to King's Tavern.  In it are two sub-folders, one for accurate sites with information about the history of King's Tavern, and in the other sub-folder are most all the sites I've come across. Many, if not most, are Ghost Hunting Teams who have been to the Tavern some time in the past and have posted the "history" of the site.  So, one folder is labeled True King's Tavern and the Other is labeled False King's Tavern.  I can tell you this: only one site is listed in the True and all the others are listed under the False folder.

Typical, are such entries as these:

"Not your “typical” haunted inn, The King’s Tavern has had some particularly horrific crimes take place in its history, including the appalling murder of an infant whose cries are heard to this day."

"When Richard King first bought the building for the tavern in 1789, it was just an old house. It had been built in 1769 from bricks, and beams scrapped from dismantled sailing ships. The building was originally built to be used as a block house for Fort Panmure during the British occupation of Natchez."

"King moved his family in, and transformed part of their home into a profitable tavern and inn, the first post office in town, and now the oldest remaining building in Natchez."

"An outlaw called “Big Harpe” was staying at the inn when he became angered by the sound of a crying baby. He found the source of his ire, and snatched it from its mother arms. Before she could stop him, the brutal beast threw the infant against a wall. He then went back to the bar and ordered another beer. Employees and patrons often hear a baby crying in the vacant rooms and attic of the inn."

"Richard King had a very jealous wife. She had reason to feel as she did because Richard was carrying on an affair right in their very home! The object of his passion was a young girl, Madeline, a family servant. Soon after the affair was discovered by Mrs. King, Madeline disappeared!"

"Madeline’s remains, with a jeweled dagger in her chest, were found in the 1930s by the owners, the Postalwaith family, during a renovation which included expanding the chimney wall."

None of these statements above are true. Every single one is a made up folktale. The problem is that nearly every team that comes into the Tavern goes online for "info" and keeps perpetuating the same lies. That says a lot, doesn't it, about so-called paranormal "investigators" who do not check their facts. Just goes to show you, there are truly professional, mature investigators who do the hard work, and then there are kids who play.

The only thing more disappointing than the Teams who perpetuate the stories are the people who believe them. 

Haunted Natchez Book Signing this Saturday

Don't forget that Dr. Alan Brown, author of the just released Haunted Natchez, will be in town this coming Saturday 10/30/2010 at Turning Pages Bookstore from 1:00 pm - 3:00pm.  Go and have your book signed!  Turning Pages is located at 520 Franklin Street, and is owned and operated by Mary Emrick.

KT: Building or Structure Moved onto Site?

KT is for King's Tavern

I'm hearing and reading that a building could have been dismantled and erected on the site.  A couple of things I've read (nothing historical - just "talk") say the building was made from dismantled "sailing ships."  One source even described it as a British "pre-fabricated" building that was moved there.  Are any of ya'll hearing any of this kind of stuff?  Summer, you run across anything like that?  It'll be interesting to get Mimi Miller's take on it (Natchez Historical Society). 

NAPS Investigator Kim DeLorenze KT Research: Interview

I (Kimberly D) interviewed Mr. Joe Eidt concerning events that may or may not have happened at King’s Tavern in 1930s. Mr. Joe is 77 years old and has a sharper memory than most people my age. The reason I felt he was a credible witness, is because his Uncle, Bill Eidt, owned the corner building attached to King’s Tavern in 1933. This was around the time that the bodies were allegedly found in King’s Tavern and all of the paranormal activities were suppose to start. The building that is now the bar for King’s Tavern, was once a gathering place for the towns people to hang out and listen to music. It was an environment of fun complete with a juke box, pool tables, blues and other music. The name of the place was Windmill Music Co.
Mr. Eidt said that while he was there as a boy, he use to enjoy watching the records in the juke box as they flipped out and fell into place. He enjoyed the place so much that, later in life, he took over for his Uncle. During the time that Bill Eidt owned the Music co., He and Joe would hear the stories and things going on around the Tavern.
"You would hear all kinds of stories about Madeline and the bodies. My uncle said that he heard about them finding bones there, but he didn’t know how many or to whom they belonged. We would go in there to eat and they would seat us next to the fireplace and say, "if you watch closely... sometimes Madeline will walk to the fireplace, hoist her skirt and warm her bottom"It never happened. Every once in a while, we would hear a few strange noises in our building that were unexplained, but the whole "very haunted" part was over exaggerated. I think that the stories are not all real, but it does add intrigue and atmosphere to the restaurant as you enjoy a great meal. That is one of the only places my wife will go out to eat because she enjoys the food so well. I don’t know if it is really haunted or not, but you do get a feeling there that you don’t get many places," said Joe.
I also heard a claim (from someone wishing to remain anonymous) that a Native American group in Natchez owned that area and had a small building or inn there in 1716. I was told that people and soldiers would come down the river and, on their way back up the trace, they would stop at that post to get food and rest because there was no other place to stop on the trace. (Except the side of the road) Then the French made the Native Americans give up the area and tore down the building to use the area. Soon after, the area became occupied by the British who built a building and used it as a base and inn for their own soldiers. And it is there that the stories and history picks up. We know through deeds and research that this is more than likely not true. Records indicate that there was not a building before 1798. (Thanks to Summer) However, as far as folklore goes, I thought this would be an interesting story and angle to add to the file.

King's Tavern Timeline

1794     July 20: Prosper King on July 20th petitions to the Spanish governor for permission to build a house on lot 3 of square 33 - the site where the Tavern now stands.

1796     July 21: Petition granted to Prosper King by Gayoso on July 21st of this year.

1798     January 18: Prosper King sells the property for $50.00 to his brother, Richard King on January 18th. Whether there was a building on the site at this time is unknown.

1799     August 5: The earliest association of a King with a tavern is found on August 5, 1799 in the Minutes of the Court of General Quarter Sessions of the Peace (Adams County Courthouse, Adams County Mississippi, p.78) where Richard King was licensed to operate a public house.

1799     August 21: Micajah Harpe (Big Harpe) murders Major William Love for snoring in his sleep, as well as Mrs. Stegall and her child by tomahawking them to death, on Wednesday, August 21, 1799.  This occurs about 5 miles north of Dixon, Kentucky in Hopkins County.  A few days later, he is hunted down and beheaded by Moses Stegall, the husband.  Little Harp (Wiley) flees to Natchez and joins Sam Mason and his gang robbing and murdering people along the Natchez Trace.  The story about Big Harpe killing an infant at King’s Tavern is totally unfounded, and evidence is very strong that Micajah never stepped foot in Mississippi.  However, it is very likely that Wiley (Little Harpe) was in the Tavern often.

1804     February 8: Wiley Harpe (Little Harpe) is captured and executed by hanging on February 8, 1804, just outside of Natchez.  His head is then cut off and stuck on a pole on the Trace.  The actual place of execution is Gallows Field, in the community of Greenville (at the time said to be about 300 people living there), but no longer exists.

1817     Richard King dies. His son Samuel inherits the Tavern, which he sells this same year to Charles B. Green, the son-in-law of Juan Girault. Green runs into financial difficulty and is forced to mortgage the Tavern to the First Bank of Mississippi. See next entry for more details.

1817     An 1817 map of the division of Richard King's estate depicts 2 buildings on lot 3, square 33, the larger of which sits directly on the present site of King's Tavern. That one of the two buildings was operated as a public house is supported by Richard King's inventory which lists 4 waiters and one set of dining tables (Probate Box 22) and the subsequent purchase of the property by Charles B. Green, who was also a tavern keeper (1807 city tavern license, Mayor's Court Minute Book 1085-1808, Natchez City Records, Mississippi Dept of Archives and History). Green then mortgaged the property to the Bank of Mississippi and lost it a short time later to the bank which was owned by Henry Postlethwaite and Dr. Stephen Duncan.

1823     August 27: Henry Postlethwaite dies of yellow fever on August 27th of this year, his widow (Elizabeth Morgan Postlethwaite) and her 8 children move into the Tavern. 

1827     February 2: King’s Tavern property deeded to Stephan Duncan by the Bank of Mississippi to help settle Henry Postlethwaite’s affairs which were tied up in the bank’s assets on February 2, 1827. Mr. Duncan then conveyed the property to Emily Postlethwaite and her sister Mary Ann Bledsoe in 1861.

1860      July 27: Elizabeth Morgan Postlethwaite passes away on July 27th at the residence.

1861     Property deeded to Emily Postlethwaite and her sister Mary Ann Bledsoe as part of their inheritance.

1874     George Wiley dies.  Wiley, who came to Natchez in 1788 and died in 1874, wrote "Probably the oldest house now existing in Natchez is the one occupied by Mrs. Postlethwaite on Jefferson Street between Union and Rankin. It was at one time kept as a tavern by a man named King..."(Claiborne: Mississippi as a Province, Territory and State, page 529).

1932      Remains of 3 skeletons (1 female & 2 male) & a Spanish dagger supposedly found during remodeling of the building. The bones were reported to been buried in Potters Field of the Natchez City Cemetery. We do know that the dagger does exist, because of photographic evidence & that we have located the owner of it. As for the bones, we still have found no proof they were ever found, but we are still researching their existence at this time.

1959     December 3: Mrs. Annabel Young Maxie, a descendant of the Postlethwaite family, inherits the Tavern (see article entitled “Garden Club To Restore Historic ‘Kings Tavern,’” dated 12/3/1970 in The Natchez Democrat. She states in this article “I am pleased the Pilgrimage Garden Club plans to restore King’s Tavern to the 1823 period when the first of my family’s six-generation occupancy commenced. It was in that year, 1823, that the house was deeded to Mrs. Henry (Elizabeth) Postlethwaite, my great, great, great grandmother, a widow with eight children by Doctor Stephen Duncan, then president of the Bank of Mississippi. Mrs. Postlethwaite died at the family residence, (King’s Tavern) on Friday, July 27, 1860.”

1966     October 18: Natchez Democrat article states that a “Mrs. Jean Modessit, owner of King’s Tavern, historic old home on Jefferson street here, yesterday reported that someone has stolen a very valuable antique Dagger from the living room of the home. Mrs. Modessitt stated that she knows who took the dagger and is withholding reporting the theft to the police in the hope that it will be returned during the next few days.”

1970     December 2: Mrs. Annabel Young Maxie, a descendant of the Postlethwaite family, sells King’s Tavern to the Pilgrimage Garden Club on the 2nd of December of this year. 

1971     Garden Club starts restoration of King’s Tavern.

1973     September 14: In an article in the Natchez Democrat entitled, King’s Tavern Restoration Complex, Henry W. Krotzer Jr, architect with Koch and Wilson of New Orleans describes           his firm’s work and the progress at King’s Tavern at a Pilgrimage Garden Club luncheon “on Thursday.” He advised the Club that, “It has been a most complicated project.” Determinations from his firm’s study are:
1) The original building had no original paint – it was unpainted, which was unusual for Natchez.
2) Archeologists found some brick gutters under some cellar windows, indicating the original ground level of the yard (which was not indicated in this article).
3) Gallery (porches) were enclosed around 1830. The biggest decision was to NOT restore the Tavern to open porches as it was originally, but to retain the enclosed Galleries.
4) According to Krotzer, the second biggest decision concerned the chimney. After a portion of the building had been taken apart for renovations, hints pointing to a chimney in the cellar did appear. Nothing sensational has come to light to affect the progress of the work. “Unfortunately the brick floor was not saved. It broke and crumbled as it was removed.”

1974   Opens for pilgrimage tours & restaurant for a short time.

1974   February 23; in a Natchez Democrat article of this date entitled, Thomas Young recalls King’s Tavern, written by Thomas E. Young, he states: “My mother Hilda died when I was two years old and my grandmother has told me many times of the misty figure of a veiled woman in a cloak with head bowed and hands folded which stood at the foot of her bed at night after my mother’s death.”  This is the first written and recorded mention of any ghost at King’s Tavern.  His mother was Hilda Register Young. Young also states in the article, “at no time in my memory or to my knowledge from conversations, was there a brick floor in any part of the cellar.” Also, “the fire-place in the ‘big cellar’ was being closed up and some work being done on the chimney when the old Spanish dagger was found embedded in the mortar.”

1975     November 16: A Century Turns Back For King’s Tavern, is the title of an article in the Natchez Democrat on this date. In the article, the Tavern is now being called The Bledsoe House, and describes how the Tavern has been turned back into a working Tavern. The kitchen was built on the side connecting the Tavern to the annex located on the corner of Jefferson and Rankin Streets. So, the kitchen was added between 1973 and 1975.

1977     March 13: Democrat article with photo of Annabel Maxie holding the dagger that was allegedly found in 1932.

1977     November 15: In a special executive board meeting on this date, the Pilgrimage Garden Club closes the Tavern, apparently due to financial problems. Source is Democrat article of 1/25/1978.

1978     January 25: Garden Club leases the Tavern to Mrs. Bobby Porter and Mrs. Florence Turpin. It is a 5 year lease, with an option for an additional 5 years. In an article on this date entitled, “King’s Tavern to Reopen: Individuals Lease Historic Building,” Florence Turpin and Bobbye (spelling as article spells her name) are named as partners. The plans are to open the Tavern in February under the name The Post House Restaurant. They also have leased the building on the corner, known as the annex, and will decorate it from a gift shop to operate as a lounge. The article also mentions “at least two ghosts, Madeline and the Indian Chief, are said to roam the building…” Also, the article states, “The reference to buildings in the deed indicates that the tavern antedates the King ownership. At the time of the deed to King, the Tavern was situated on the Natchez Trace and provided a resting place for the early settlers of the Mississippi Territory.”

1987     Garden Club sells property to Mrs. Yvonne Scott.

1988     Reopens as King’s Tavern.

2005   Mrs. Yvonne Scott sells property to Tom Drinkwater and Shawyn Mars who are the current owners of King’s Tavern.

2010   October 22nd, N.A.P.S. launches an extensive, full-blown paranormal investigation into King’s Tavern – the crown jewel of Natchez’ haunted sites – with interview & historical research phases initiated.

2010   December 28nd, N.A.P.S. officially closes its first investigation into KT, with a finding of Positive: Class B (significant paranormal activity present); with reservations about some experiences claimed being possibly due to high EMF and some likely due to matrixing from the high expectations created by advertising of the haunting.  However, none of that is sufficient in our minds to explain all that is happening, and our own investigation revealed plenty of data and evidence on its own (including tactile, olfactory; Class A EVP; Photo and Video; as well as EMF and motion/temperature detection data – many of it cross substantiated).  Furthermore, the investigation uncovered significant errors and misinformation into the history of the Tavern, including dates, and this correction of historical data may be the greatest contribution of this particular investigation.  Lastly, the investigation concludes its finding, but does recommend that the Tavern be investigated further, in the future, to answer specific questions and issues that this investigation raised – see Case File “Recommended Follow-Up Investigations.”

Natchez Historic Foundation: Land Records, Deed & Titles
Mississippi Department of Archives & History
            Cindy Gardner, Director of Collections, Museum Division
            David Abbott, Archaeologist
A Way Through the Wilderness: The Natchez Trace and the Civilization of the Southern Frontier, by Davis
A History of Muhlenberg County (Kentucky), by Rothert
The Outlaws of Cave-in-Rock, by Rothert
Natchez Under-the-Hill, by Moore
Natchez: The History and Mystery of the City on the Bluff, by Whitington
The Devil’s Backbone: The Story of the Natchez Trace, by Daniels
Natchez On the Mississippi, by Kane
Archives: Natchez Democrat
The Judge Armstrong Library

©  Copyright 2010, Natchez Area Paranormal Society. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Harpes: Zeroing in on the Truth

To the left is a photo of a bridge that is close to mile marker 24 on the Natchez Trace.  Friends of mine who cycle (that's bi-cycling!) the trace with me know this bridge very well.  It is not far from a site that has very significant interest for one of our characters that we are researching, related to King's Tavern.  Read on...

It is amazing once you get on the trail of something, what you can find in your research. Information starts popping out everywhere, suddenly rewarding the often frustrating process.  Using Kentucky historical sources from the two counties that I had identified earlier as to where the end to Big Harpe occurred, I have now found out some amazing documentation of the very end of Micajah (Big) Harpe, as well as updated (shocking!) information on Wiley (Little) Harpe. 

We now know the exact location and dates of the murder of Major William Love for snoring, then the subsequent murder of the Stegall baby and Mrs. Stegall the next morning (which I outlined in an earlier blog post).  This all happened at the Stegall cabin about 5 miles east of Dixon, Kentucky, on August 20, 1799.  Using calendar programs on the Internet I found out that this was on a Tuesday night.  The next morning, Wednesday, the Harpes slit the baby's throat and killed Mrs. Stegall.  I am getting more and more information that they passed themselves off as brothers but that they were actually cousins - don't know for sure yet.  I still have not been able to find out Mrs. Stegall's first name. 

After beheading Big Harpe and putting his head in a saddlebag, Moses Stegall took the head back and placed it in a tree about 3 miles north of Dixon.  The place is still called "Harpes Head."  I have found and ordered a copy of this history book (not a folktale book at all) that recounts much information on this, and records the eyewitness account of an old woman who said that she was a child that lived near the scene when Big Harpe was killed by the posse.  She remembers looking down at the headless body of Micaja Harpe.  This information is further backed up by the official Encyclopedia of Kentucky History. I am adding the former book to my (quickly growing) historical collection.  I also downloaded a map of the State of Kentucky that shows the counties.  Hopkins County, where the murders occurred that led to Big Harpes demise, is in western Kentucky (the cabin near Dixon).  They fled trying to escape east into present day Muhlenberg County (the County just east of Hopkins County), and that is where Micajah was caught and beheaded. 

Shocking News:
In an earlier post (below) I stated that Little Harp (Wiley) was executed in Greenville, Mississippi at a place called Gallows Field.  I assumed that the Greenville was modern-day Greenville, but I have found out that this is not so.  The Greenville that is where Wiley was hung and beheaded was a town in Jefferson County, half-way between Natchez and Port Gibson!  It is close to Rodney, and I am trying to find out exactly where this Gallows Field is so I can go there.  This puts much more credence into Wiley (Little Harp) being a regular around Natchez, and that for sure he was probably in and around King's tavern quite a bit.  So, we now have solid historical evidence that is multiple source cited that puts Little Harpe - Wiley (and not Big Harpe - Micaja, or Micajah as his name is sometimes spelled) in and around Natchez as a regular.  Jeepers, I think I'm becoming a Harpe expert.  I also found an old book (and ordered it) that has a very old sketch of the Gallow's Field, drawn around 1917 by J. Bernhard Alberts, before the community of Greenville died out to being just woods and fields in Jefferson County.  Wouldn't you love to take a metal detector out there?!

I am trying to find a date of Wiley Harpe's execution, so we could pin down the time of his being in Natchez to a "time window."  We know it was after August of 1799 because that is when Big Harpe was killed and Wiley fled to Natchez.  That fits with the time-line of King's Tavern being constructed and operating as a Tavern at that time (Summer's finding that Richard King applied for a license to operate a tavern in 1798).  So, let's continue with constructing the elements of the time-line and adding pieces to the puzzle.  We also have the alleged 1930 discovery of bodies in the fireplace.  Someone needs to start researching the Bledsoe angle - why the house is also called the Bledsoe House.  Update:  Wiley "Little" Harpe was executed on Wednesday, February 8, 1804 by hanging, then his head was placed on a pole on the Trace.  This occurred at Gallow's Field, Greenville, Mississippi, about 24 miles north of Natchez.

Don Estes as a Consultant: Cemetary

I (Mike) spoke with Don Estes late this afternoon and reestablished contact with him after many years. He and I have known each other for a long time, as our dads were both very good friends.  Don is now retired from being Director of the Natchez City Cemetery, although he still helps there a good bit.  He is also author of a very informative and interesting book entitled, Legends of the Natchez City Cemetery.  As a historian, no one knows more about the City Cemetery than Don, and he is an excellent source for Natchez, Adams County and Natchez Trace history.  I explained our situation, and specifically went into the possible transference of the bones/bodies that were supposedly found at King's Tavern during renovation work "on the chimney" there in 1930.  (I think they mean the fireplace as a whole - because it is not a good idea to put a body in a chimney and hide it, and still have the chimney function - the chimney is the flue.  That's my extensive building and construction experience leaking out).  This renovation work allegedly led to the discovery of 3 bodies - one female and two males.  Our probative effort is based upon the fact that by 1930, fairly good records were being kept, and that something should be in the historical record (newspaper article, police report, coroner's report, burial record, etc.) of the incident.  Summer is tracking down Duncan Morgan (an old master mason) whose father, also a master mason, is said to have been one of those restoring the brick work on the fireplace.

Don informed me of several facts about King's Tavern.  He stated to me that he did not remember ever hearing anything about what happened to the bodies (skeletons) that were found.  However, he told me he would immediately begin to research the Cemetery's records looking into any possible links or records of the bodies being moved to the City Cemetery.  He stated that he has all the cemetery records on computer at his home, plus he will be at the Cemetery working tomorrow, filling in for the current Director who is out.  We appreciate Donald as a source and a consultant that we can turn to on this and future cases. His help is going to be invaluable in our work - especially the historical research phase.  (He also has had extensive dealings with other paranormal groups in the past coming to the Natchez City Cemetery to "investigate."  He has some interesting stories to tell that we need to listen to, that expose some teams as less than impressive when it comes to how some researchers can act, or make claims that just are not there.)  Let's learn from others' mistakes and get better at what we are doing.  I'm proud of us as a team and we need to constantly remind one another to not let our bias and desire for discovery slant or skew our "findings."  Let's stay solidly objective and "optimistically skeptical."

NAPS Investigator Summer Stone's KT Research: Findings

I (Summer) did some research today - started out at the Natchez Visitor's Center, then on to the Courthouse, which led to the Historic Natchez Foundation - I have a lot of interesting things to share, but more to look into. The land was deeded to Prosper King in1794, then sold to his brother Richard in 1796. He applied for a tavern license in 1798 - there was no building on the site prior to then, so claims that the building dates to 1789 are false- this is backed up by tax records, which I have copies of. I've got a couple of leads that I have to follow up on tonight regarding the skeletons that were supposedly unearthed in the flooring of the tavern in the 1930's - I've got the number for a brick mason whose father worked on the restorations of the tavern, the historian I spoke with said if there's any truth to the legend, then he will know. Also, as far as Madeleine is concerned - there is no way to prove or disprove this. Record-keeping in that era was haphazard and if the legend is true, then there will be no death certificate as she was murdered then hidden away to be found half a century later. There will likely be no birth certificate either; if she did in fact exist, we must consider that the tavern was on the Trace, and she may not have even been from the area, and if she was, we have no last name to go by. The legend concerning the outlaw Big Harpe can be corroborated to a certain extent - he did exist, and he did operate in and around the Natchez area - however, his base was located in Vicksburg, and he wasn't here long before returning to Kentucky where he was captured and executed. He was one of the worst, his crimes among the most atrocious, and he could have stopped in the tavern - but there's no way to prove he did. There's no way to prove he didn't, either. I still have more to look into, as I said, but hopefully this is a good start.

Historic Research: Harpe's & King's Tavern

I (Mike) have uncovered extensive history of the Harpe Brothers, Micaja ("Big" Harpe) and Wiley ("Little" Harpe) from several sources that pretty much say the same thing.  My sources include a historical writer from North Carolina by the name of Jonathan Daniels (who also served as President Roosevelt & Truman's Press Secretary) who cites first hand accounts of a mail rider on the Trace named John Swaney that was interviewed before Swaney's death. Swaney was one of the regular riders who carried mail and other small items from Nashville to Natchez and back again and knew people all up and down the Trace, even some of the outlaws, such as Sam Mason.  Also, I found an excellent article on them written by Harold Utley, President of the Hopkins County Historical Society in Kentucky; a paper by Jon Musgrave, an Illinois Historian; as well as several other sources.

Here is just a small part of what I've learned as fact.  By far, the area of the Harpes' activity was in Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia (they were born in North Carolina, and fled there because their father was a Tory who supported and fought for the British) and not Mississippi and certainly not Natchez.  The infant that Big Harpe murdered by slamming its head against something is believed to have been done in a cave, perhaps Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, or more likely Cave-In-Rock (actually a rocky over-hang) just across the river in Illinois where they fled on one occasion to escape one of many posses they fled from (see photo of Cave-In-Rock above).  "Big Harpe said when he was dying that the only thing he was sorry for was that he had there smashed out the brains of one of the Harpe infants on the wall of the cave." [The Devil's Backbone, Jonathan Daniels, p. 122].  It is historical fact that Micaja died slowly, and was confessing some of his crimes to the posse who had tracked him down in what is now Muhlenburg County, Kentucky.  That is the occasion where he uttered the above statement.  The posse that killed Micaja was made up of Moses Stegall, John Leiper, Matthew Christian, Neville Lindsey, Silas McBee, William Grissom and James Thompkins.  Stegall was the husband and father of a woman and child that Micaja had just murdered, along with a Major William Love, whom Micaja murdered because Love was snoring in his sleep (remember hearing that story!) in a loft he was sharing with the Harpe's.  The Harpe's were simply traveling through the area and stopped at the Stegall house (husband Moses was away).  Mrs. Stegall had graciously let them stay in for the night, which was customary for that time.  Major Love was there doing work for the Stegall's, who also had a child.  Macaja killing Love is what triggered this last murdering spree, supposedly killing Mrs. Stegall and the child to hide the evidence because he also set fire to the house.  This typical murdering rampage by Macaja would lead to his death.  The posse tracked them to their camp in Muhlenburg County and tried to capture them.  Wiley escaped, but Big Harpe was shot.  Micaja, who lay slowly dying of a wound to his spine (a shot fired by Leiper), was begging for water and talking.  Leiper gave him some water out of a shoe.  The fact that anyone would accommodate Micaja at all actually infuriated Moses Stegall, so he pulled Micaja's own knife and began slowly cutting his head off.  He cut so slow, it is reported in several of the historical accounts that Micaja had time to say, "You are a god-damned rough butcher, but cut on and be damned."  Stegall left the corpse there to rot, but took the severed head back to Hopkins County (Kentucky) where he impaled it on a lance and placed it in the fork of a tree.  The head remained there for many years, and the location is known today as "Harpe's Head."  The camp and exact site where Micaja was killed is a known location to this day.  The hill is called "Harpe's Hill" and the cave itself (which is in the south slope of the hill) is called "Harpe's house." 

Association to King's Tavern:
I have found no evidence whatsoever that directly puts either of the Harpe's, Micajah or Wiley, at King's Tavern (which was a long shot anyway).  I did find where Wiley ("Little" Harpe) did flee to Natchez for a time, but that he found it "too rough."  (That's hard to imagine - but that's is what is said.)  I found quite a bit that puts Wiley here in and around Natchez, but no evidence anywhere that I have found to date, puts Micaja in Natchez.  Of course, when Wiley came to Natchez it is more than likely that he visited King's Tavern, as it was the trail- head for the Trace.  I found strong evidence of Wiley being on the Trace (with his association and outlawing with Sam Mason), but again, never found anything that put Micaja there.  Wiley's adventures on the trace occurred after Micaja's beheading. Incidentally, Wiley ("Little" Harpe) was caught and executed in Greenville, Mississippi, and was hung.  He and another man named James May killed Sam Mason for a $2000 bounty put on Mason by Governor William C.C. Claiborne, but were caught and identified.  Wiley Harpe was trying to pass himself off as John Setton.  (They claimed they caught Mason and killed him in Mason's swampy hiding place near Lake Concordia, and they had put his head in a lump of blue clay for preservation so it could be identified as Mason, and they could collect the reward.)  Obviously, Wiley was in and around Natchez at this time, and was seen here.  They took the head to Greenville because that is where the Circuit Court was at that time, and the location of the judge who would have to rule that it was Mason and they could collect the bounty.  However, they were busted out by two men named John Bowman and a Captain Stump who had run-ins before and knew what Wiley looked like.  In fact, the clinching evidence was provided by Bowman, who told the Court that, "If he's Little Harpe, he'll have a scar under the left nipple of his breast, because I cut him there in a difficulty we had, one night in Knoxville."  Harpe's shirt was removed, and the scar was there.  [Daniels says in his book that one version of this story actually places this scene at Natchez!]  What is fact:  May and Wiley Harpe were executed by hanging on February 8, 1804 in a place called "Gallow's Field" in old Greenville, Mississippi.  After he was hung, Wiley's head too was displayed on a lance to warn travelers on the road to Natchez. 

All of the printed information I found and sources are in the N.A.P.S. King's Tavern Case File - in a folder labeled "Harpes" and will be cited in our final report.  By the way, it is thought that the Harpes were brothers, but one source said they may have been cousins.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Affiliate Membership to AGS

N.A.P.S. TEAM:  We need 4 members (at least) of our Team to be willing to fork up $30 each in order to gain an affiliate membership to American Ghost Society (Mike is already a research member).  They have emailed Mike about becoming an area rep.  If we do that we'd like to have an affiliate Team to back him up.  Talk to Mike for all the advantages this brings, and to sign up!  Let's do it!

N.A.P.S. Caps

N.A.P.S. Caps
$29.00 each (Team Members)
$39.00 each (All Others)
One size fits all

Embroidered/Stitched  Caps
High Quality!

Front: N.A.P.S.
Rear:  Ghost Hunter

Memo: Historical Research into King's Tavern


From: Mike
To: All Team Members

Just a quick reminder to dig deeply into historical research before our upcoming Paranormal Investigation at King's Tavern in mid to late November.  I have been talking with Kim F, Chris J, Mike and Kim DeLorenze.  What we are running into (surprise, surprise) is the notorious and often recurring issue of sparse real and factual historical data that is source cited versus heaps and mounds of romantic stories and fanciful other words Recorded History versus Folklore.  Make sure you focus on Recorded History, but get copies and info on the folktales as well.  Cite ANY AND ALL sources in both categories.  If we say something as factual, we want to be able to say where we got that, or we will not use it as factual.  Folklore sells tourism tickets and people love it, but we need to get beyond all that and say what really happened, and is happening - whatever that is.  As far as we are concerned we aren't taking anyone's word that any murder ever happened there - until we see something that backs it up, much less a ghost.  Anyone can tell a story, but not many can give a history.  We want to present King's Tavern from a historical standpoint.  That's the attitude we must take as objective investigators.  So, let's go and get some facts.  Again, collect the folklore, cite it and bring it with you, but go after the real data and evidence.

If it is a book:  get the title, author, pages cited, year the book was published and publisher.
Magazine article: same kind of thing - name of magazine issue and volume, date, author of article, pages, etc.
Even online articles: list website url , author, date if any, etc.

Main (and much needed) Sources & Targets:
Adams County Courthouse
Armstrong Library (especially archives section)
Historic Natchez Foundation (Ron & Mimi Miller)
Natchez Historical Society
Garden Clubs (likely have knowledgeable people)
Historians (such as Jim Barnett at Grand Village; historians at Jefferson College)
Bookstore Owners (such as Mary Emerick)
Coroner's Office
Mississippi Department of Archives & History
National Archives

Deeds, land records, directories, reverse directories, death records, marriage licenses & records, census data; maps, photos, letters, books, articles, coroners reports, etc...

Actual Info We Need Most:
Who built the house and why
What the house has been used for
Who were the Kings, and where did they come from
Who were the Bledsoes and where did they come from
Any additions added on to the house, and when
Any historical proof at all that any murder truly occurred there
Any historical information on alleged murderers and/or victims (such as: if they found three bodies in 1930, then we should have graves and records of them in the newspaper - surely that would have made the paper - was coroner called?, etc.)
Any record of actual real name of Madeline, and where did Madeline as a name originate?
Any evidence of fraud or embellishment in some of these ghost stories in order to attract business
Pilgrimage Garden Club's involvement and/or ownership at any period of King's Tavern - what was done and when

Plus, anything else you can think of.  Thanks for working so hard!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Old Adams County Jail Investigation: NP01002A

To N.A.P.S. Members: 

Mike and Kim conducted a formal (and fairly comprehensive) investigation at the Old Adams County Jail on Saturday evening and had some interesting phenomena occur.  The analysis of the data is to follow.  Below is simply a summary of what we did and what we discovered.  There were some other things that happened that are not for public consumption just yet.  The details, log, and exact data and all phenomena will be in the Case File.  Call us or email us if you want details in the meantime.  Happy hunting and see you soon!

N.A.P.S. Case # and Status:
Type: Public
Status: Open    
Log: All
Phase: Analysis 
Finding: Positive: Class B (Significant Paranormal Evidence at Site) 
Recommendation: Keep Case Open; more Field Research warranted; see Case File for recommended specific applications of equipment/personnel on future investigations  
Release: Public: Class B (Report available for public release with limited censoring)

Cross referenced phenomena logged:  EVPs (moaning and vibration sounds); VP (moan - both investigators simultaneously); Physical Touching (both investigators; twice - elbow and thigh); Ambient Temp (immediate drops concurrent with other phenomena); Sensation: strong feelings of presence (1 - male) .

Length of Investigation: 1 hour & 15 minutes
EVP Sessions: 2
Audio entire time:  Yes (Zoom H2)
Protection: Prayer in; Prayer out

Equipment: Ambient temp and IR temp meters; Full-spectrum video camera; Sony camcorder; MEL 8704R meter; RT-EVP; Panasonic RR DR60; Zoom H2; Era Cues-Trigger Objects (Period music from 1920s and 1930s; Old Coins; Old spoons); EVP Techniques: (1) hospitable/soft; (2) confrontational/provocative [best results].