S: Stuff You Should Know: Volume 4 by Marti Ingram
FC: Stuff You Should Know Volume 4 | by Marti Ingram
1: Table of Contents | 1. Wedding Traditions & Customs 2. Before Elizabeth I Was Queen 3. The Dancing Plague of 1518 4. What Happened at Jonestown? 5. Orson Welles and the 'War of the Worlds" 6. What Happened to Norte Chico? 7. Who was the Mistress of Murder Hill? | pg. 2 pg. 8 pg. 31 pg. 37 pg. 44 pg. 59 pg. 66
2: Article One | Wedding Traditions & Customs
3: Weddings nowadays come in many forms: formal, informal, indoors, outdoors, traditional, destination weddings, etc. People all over the world are getting married in very different ways. Yet many traditional Pagan rituals remain, and in fact, are the cornerstone of any wedding ceremony. For example, married couples wear wedding bands to indicate their union: this is a ritual from days of yore, beginning with the ancient Greeks, but carried over by the Romans, who emulated the Greeks in nearly every way. The philosophy regarding the wedding bands stems from a Greek belief that the ring finger was connected to one’s heart via a nerve; therefore, the wedding ring served as a ‘collar’ for the heart. This was a symbol that the person’s spouse possessed his or her heart, and it was physically ‘chained’. Another tradition that seems universal is that of having matching bridesmaid dresses. In the past, bridesmaids actually used to wear dresses similar to the brides’ gown. This was done to confuse evil spirits as to who the bride was, to give her the best possible luck on her wedding day. One of the more ‘interesting’ wedding traditions can be found in German culture, where weddings were no more than thinly-veiled kidnappings. Today, the best man | Above: Weddings today are steeped in history Below: Talk about ugly bridesmaid dresses!
4: stands to the groom’s left, hypothetically as his moral support and backup. But back in medieval times, Germanic tribes would commonly go from one village to another, stealing women and carrying off brides. During this era, the ‘best man’ would help kidnap the woman, and then stand between the groom and the crowd (to the groom’s left) to fend off any angry family members during the ceremony. He could have been better titled as ‘bodyguard’ or ‘henchman’ rather than ‘best man’. This Germanic habit of kidnapping one’s true love also began the tradition of carrying the bride over the threshold of the home. Men would literally have to haul their new wives home, as the women might flee in terror rather than face a night of forced intercourse. Another reason for carrying the bride over the threshold, once again stemming from medieval Europe, was to prevent the bride from seeming too eager to lose her virginity on her wedding night. The groom, by carrying his bride into the home ‘against her will’, provided the woman with an alibi, preventing her from seeming too wanton. (Not sure how many women, in these cases of forced marriage, would be skipping or somersaulting over the threshold in anticipation of their wedding night.) This is odd, too, seeing that this culture was also the same culture that necessitated outsiders to witness the consummation of the union. | Rings are symbols of commitment | Painter David captured the essence of kidnapping a bride in piece "Rape of the Sabine Women"
5: Basically, in this case, some select members of the family or wedding party (and later on in history, the priest himself), would follow the bride and groom into the wedding chamber and watch as they engaged in coitus. This was to make sure the marriage was legal, as consummation was the ultimate union. Then the witnesses would take the bride’s garter, leave the home, and hold the garter aloft to the awaiting wedding guests as proof of consummation. This act, as you can guess, instigated the oh-so-funny garter removal tradition that is often held at the wedding dance in western cultures. | One last strange marriage superstition is that brides are bad luck magnets. There are many traditions that are designed to prevent the bride from falling into complete disaster on her wedding day. One belief about why brides were carried over the threshold is that some cultures believed that evil spirits lurked around the threshold of houses, and that brides would absorb these spirits through their feet, so they had to be carried across. Finally, in Roman times it was believed that if the bride stumbled when entering the newlywed's home for the first time, it would bring bad luck and harm to their marriage. So carrying the bride across the threshold would prevent this from happening, though no reference can be found of what happens if the groom stumbles or falls while carrying the bride. | Garter Belt | Carrying a bride over the threshold to prevent bad luck
6: What about the adage: “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”? The full wording of this popular bridal attire rhyme, which dates back to the Victorian times is 'something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a silver sixpence in your shoe'. Something old refers to wearing something that represents a link with the bride's family and her old life. Usually, the bride wears a piece of family jewelery or maybe her mother's or grandmother's wedding dress. Wearing something new represents good fortune and success in the bride's new life. The bride's wedding dress is usually chosen, if purchased new, but it can be any other new item of the bride's wedding attire. Wearing something borrowed, which has already been worn by a happy bride at her wedding, is meant to bring good luck to the marriage. Something borrowed could be an item of bridal clothing, a handkerchief or an item of jewelery.
7: Wearing something blue dates back to biblical times when the color blue was considered to represent purity and fidelity. Over time this has evolved from wearing blue clothing to wearing a blue band around the bottom of the bride's dress and to modern times where the bride wears a blue or blue-trimmed garter. Placing a silver sixpence in the bride's left shoe is a symbol of wealth. This is not just to bring the bride financial wealth but also a wealth of happiness and joy throughout her married life. There are many other wedding traditions and customs not covered in this article. Feel free to find out more about why some cultures do what they do at wedding ceremonies, and how these traditions came to be!
8: Article Two: Before Elizabeth I Was Queen
9: Elizabeth the First has been portrayed several times in Hollywood feature films, by actresses such as Cate Blanchett, Helen Mirren, and Judy Dench. She is one of the most famous and recognizable female monarchs in history - and this is not without due cause. She truly was an interesting and intelligent person, and had a very long reign for any monarch, not just female, during contentious times. What she is probably most famous for, though, is being “The Virgin Queen”. How did this young woman, a minority in a world full of powerful men, come to rule the vast empire of England? And why was she so against marriage? | Elizabeth used a coquettish deflection that she probably inherited from her mother to keep suitors on their toes well into her old age. Whether it was an English Lord or a foreign prince, all men believed they had a chance to gain her affections - and usually were wrong. Elizabeth was the original ‘game-player’ when it came to love and courtship. Men did not stand a chance with Elizabeth, because as a young girl, she actually vowed to NEVER marry. Why? In this article, the early life of Elizabeth the First, or Elizabeth the Great as many call her, will be explored.
10: Things may come together for you when you learn that Elizabeth I was the daughter of Henry VIII, a king notorious for cutting off his wives’ heads, and / or divorcing them. Henry VIII had, of course, famously defied the Pope in order to divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, with whom he had a daughter, Mary, in order to marry Anne Boleyn. Anne Boleyn was only the second commoner elevated to the consort’s throne in English history: she at first resisted Henry’s advances, and refused to become his mistress as her sister Mary had. Henry desired to annul his marriage to Queen Catherine in order to legally wed Anne and have her to himself. Once they were officially married, however, Anne was not a popular public figure. The British considered her merely a courtesan who had worked her way to the throne (which was not the case, considering how Henry VIII had so stubbornly pursued her). Regardless, in 1533 Anne Boleyn became pregnant with her and Henry’s first child. | Top Left: Henry VIII Bottom Left: Catherine of Aragon Right: Anne Boleyn
11: Around this same time, there were also the first signs of trouble in the marriage. Henry, up until this point, had been completely infatuated with his wife, but then he began to stray, and was surprised that Anne was angry about this. He had had affairs before while married to Catherine of Aragon, but she was more the “suffer in silence” type of woman, while Anne was much more vocal. As well, Henry desperately wanted a son to solidify his family’s line as rulers of England. Anne desperately wanted a son, too, as she knew it would assure her a position in Henry’s life, and she was well aware that the main reason Catherine of Aragon had been cast aside was because she had only one living child, and that was their daughter Mary. Everyone assumed Anne would give birth to a boy - the only person who did not was the famous astrologer William Glover, who said that Anne would have a “woman child and a prince of the land”. On September 7, 1533, a daughter was born, in a bedchamber decorated with tapestries of Saint Ursula and 11,000 virgins. When this occurred, Henry was not the most supportive husband - he told Anne, “You and I are both young, and by God’s grace, boys will follow.” Celebrations to honour the new baby had been designed around the birth of a prince: they continued with most of the celebrations, just tweaking things here and there, such as adding “-ess” to “Prince” on all of the birth announcements. | Above: Henry VIII courting Anne Boleyn Below: Anne awaiting trial in the Tower of London
12: Elizabeth did get a birth celebration and a fancy christening, where she was wrapped in purple cloths and furs, which her father did not attend, but she did not receive the attendant ceremonies that would be fit for an heir. Henry VIII canceled the tournaments, fireworks, and bonfires that had been planned initially. Anne, however, adored her new baby, and really wanted to breast-feed her child, which was considered then a huge social faux pas. It was inelegant for a queen to lower herself to breast-feeding. Everyone treated Elizabeth very seriously and with grown-up airs. At the age of three months, she was given her own ‘household’ at Hatfield Palace or Hatfield House - a bit more than a playhouse! Meanwhile, her older half-sister, Princess Mary, was being horribly degraded: she was deprived of her title and was made to be called Lady Mary and not the Princess of Wales, her household was disbanded, and she was denied visitation access to her own father by Anne Boleyn, who was quite jealous of the young Mary. Mary was seventeen-years-old when Elizabeth was born, and when she was forced to view the baby for the first time and pay young Elizabeth respects, it is said she burst into tears and said, “I know of no Princess of England but myself.” For the rest of her life, her relationship with Elizabeth was marred by this early dichotomy. Some historians believe that Anne tried to convince Henry to have his ex-wife, Catherine, and her daughter, Mary, ‘dispatched’ in some way to make her and Henry’s lives easier. | Hatfield House, Elizabeth's 'household'
13: Unfortunately for Anne Boleyn, her luck with pregnancies ended with Elizabeth. She suffered three miscarriages and stillbirths. Some people believe she may have been Rh -, while Henry was Rh +. This means that Anne’s foetuses would have produced Rh + blood cells, and Anne’s Rh - blood cells would create anti-bodies that ultimately would reject the foetus. Elizabeth would have been born healthy, but would have left Rh + anti-bodies in her mother’s system, preventing further successful pregnancies. Today there is medication that mothers-to-be can take to prevent this from happening - unfortunately in Anne’s time, it was unheard of and Anne had a series of heartbreaking miscarriages, much to Henry VIII’s frustration. Catherine of Aragon’s death in 1536, while celebrated by Henry with the wearing of yellow and throwing of festivities, hit Anne with a sense of desperation. She began to realize her power over the King was waning - he wasn’t as attracted to her anymore, he had issues with some of her political ideas, and he was already courting his next potential bride, the lady-in-waiting Jane Seymour. Anne realized that if she didn’t produce an heir, she would be cast aside as Catherine of Aragon had been. Her only consolation during this time was little Elizabeth, who played and visited with her a lot. Anne even tried to reconcile with Mary, but by this time, Mary wanted nothing to do with her. | Rh blood cells during pregnancy | Jane Seymour
14: Ironically, Henry VIII was actually quite proud of his wee daughter Elizabeth. He frequently showed her off to ambassadors, usually with her dressed in her finest gowns, but it has been rumoured he sometimes displayed her in the nude, to emphasize how ‘perfect’ a human specimen she was. Things did not go as well with his wife, Anne Boleyn. Henry soon tired of her, and by this time was utterly in love with Jane Seymour, so he needed to once again be free of his matrimonial ties. He, with the help of Thomas Cromwell it is said, accused Anne of treason, adultery, and even incest, claiming she had twice been involved intimately with her own brother. Four other men were accused of being Anne’s lovers, and one confessed (although he confessed under extreme torture). | Anne and her ‘lovers’ were found guilty by a panel of her peers, although very few people actually believed in the charges. They just did not want the wrath of Henry VIII bearing down upon them. Henry VIII also had the marriage deemed invalid (which, strangely enough, makes the charge of adultery invalid as well). Anne was locked in the Tower of London for awhile, and then executed on May 19, 1536, all the while stoically voicing her innocence and loyalty to her husband. Within 24 hours of Anne Boleyn's execution, Jane Seymour and Henry VIII were formally betrothed. Elizabeth was not yet three-years-old. On the May 30, 1536, King Henry and the already-pregnant Jane Seymour were married.
15: Because Anne’s marriage to King Henry VIII was declared invalid, Elizabeth suddenly became an illegitimate child. Where previously she had lived a lavish lifestyle with a personal dressmaker, gowns of the latest fashions, and her own palace to rule, she now suddenly experienced a fall in fortune - she went from “Lady Princess” to “Lady Elizabeth” overnight. This was an incredibly traumatic event in young Elizabeth’s life. She was a precocious child and probably realized soon enough what had happened to cause this strife. | Jane Seymour, now King Henry VIII’s new queen, decided that she wanted Henry and his daughter Mary to reconcile. This was a tricky endeavor, as Mary was bitter at having been so neglected, insulted, and virtually cast aside. However, over time, Henry and Mary’s relationship slowly improved. Mary was Catholic, which will become important at a later time. The tables turned, and suddenly Mary found herself being looked after, and Elizabeth was now the abandoned daughter, considered a bastard and the child of a traitor. Fortunately, even though Elizabeth had few supporters, Mary was one of them. She was actually quite fond of her little sister, and tried to look out for her, even going as far as persuading her father to invite Elizabeth to court, for she had been sent away to Hatfield House to be raised by her tutor, Kat Ashley. Once Elizabeth returned to court, for a small time frame there was a semblance of family happiness amongst the Tudors. | This Page: A portrait of young Princess (Lady) Elizabeth Opposite Left: A scene from the TV series "The Tudors" showing Anne Boleyn about to be executed Opposite Right: Natalie Portman depicting Anne Boleyn on her execution day
16: Then in 1537, Jane Seymour gave birth to what Henry wanted the most, a son. Edward VI was a bittersweet gift - he was born, but the birthing process weakened Jane Seymour so greatly that she soon died afterwards. Elizabeth was put into Mary’s care, and Henry, of course, married again, this time to Anne of Cleves in 1540, after seeing her picture in a painting. When he met her in person, on their wedding day, he was dismayed to see that the painter had greatly exaggerated Anne’s beauty. He went through with the wedding, most unhappily, but had the marriage quickly annulled afterwards - although he remained friends with Anne of Cleves and even granted her an estate. | Edward VI | The portrait viewing | Anne of Cleves | At the time of this particular marriage, Elizabeth was six-years-old. She wrote a very precious letter to her impending stepmother, sweetly asking if she would allow Elizabeth to come to court. Anne of Cleves was very charmed by this letter, impressed by how intelligent the little six-year-old was, but Henry was unmoved and denied Elizabeth access to court life. After the annulment, Anne was still quite taken with Elizabeth, and took a motherly interest in the child. She asked permission from Henry to have Elizabeth visit her on her estate, and surprisingly, Henry agreed.
17: Henry’s next conquest was little more than a teenager, 19-year-old Catherine Howard, who was actually a cousin of Anne Boleyn and therefore related to Elizabeth. Because of this fact, Catherine Howard and Elizabeth got along splendidly, and Catherine showed great favour to her young step-daughter. Henry VIII was very happy with Catherine for a little while - she was able to have fun with him and make him feel young again. By this point, Henry VIII was older, grossly overweight, and riddled with syphilis to the point where he had a syphilitic abscess on his leg that constantly oozed pus and smelled extremely bad. He wasn’t exactly the dashing specimen he had been in his youth, but Catherine seemed happy enough with him, until it came to light that Catherine hadn’t been a virgin upon their wedding night, and that she’d been employing former lovers within her household while married to Henry VIII. Staying true to family trends, the cousin of Anne Boleyn was accused of treason and adultery, and executed on February 13, 1542. | Catherine Howard; The Execution of Catherine Howard
18: This particular loss of a stepmother was especially devastating for Elizabeth. She was nine-years-old at the time of the execution, and understood completely what was happening. It would have clearly put into perspective exactly what had happened to her own mother. It was at this time that she vowed she would never marry, because to her, marriage equaled death. But Henry, being Henry VIII, married again on July 12, 1543, and this time it was to the widow Katherine Parr. She was an older lady, motherly, chosen because Henry literally needed someone to nurse him. His syphilis was extremely bad by this time in his life, to the point where he was starting to experience dementia. Katherine Parr wanted to be a good stepmother to Henry’s children; she encouraged Henry to become closer with his children. She invited Mary, Elizabeth, and Edward to come live at court, and tried to give them a semblance of a normal family life (as normal as can be when royalty and the children of Henry VIII). This was another short window of happiness for the Tudors - they came and went from court, spent time together sporadically, and Katherine Parr even supervised their education. | Katherine Parr | The Tudor Family
19: At this time, there was a new Act of Succession. The crown was designed to go first to Prince Edward VI, the son and rightful heir, then to any new offspring of the legally wedded queen (which was extremely unlikely considering Katherine and Henry’s ages and physical states), then Mary, and then Elizabeth. But Henry did not fix the issue of Elizabeth having been declared illegitimate, which came up against her later. In fact, in early 1544, Henry banished Elizabeth from court, and even today the reason is not clear. It was only because of Katherine Parr that Elizabeth was forgiven and allowed to come back. Elizabeth can credit her great intelligence to Katherine Parr. Katherine was very serious about educating the children, and because of her devotion, both Elizabeth and Edward became intellectual prodigies. One of Elizabeth’s tutors stated that Elizabeth’s “mind has no womanly weakness, her perseverance is equal to that of a man, and her memory long keeps what it quickly picks up.” Elizabeth studied Greek, Latin, French, Italian, Spanish, and Welsh. She could play and compose music. She also excelled in the ‘feminine arts’ such as needlework, calligraphy, and book-binding. Elizabeth also enjoyed riding, hunting, and shooting cross-bows. | Above: Henry's wives Below: Young Queen Elizabeth
20: All in all, one could say that Elizabeth was prepared for a life that may require diplomacy, education, and intelligence. This was good, because in 1547, Henry VIII died. This made Katherine the Dowager Queen, and little Edward, who was ten-years-old, Henry’s heir. Elizabeth was actually with her brother when they were informed of their father’s death, and when the men of the court paid Edward homage. Suddenly, Edward was no longer allowed, by order of his council, to see his stepmother or sisters. This was difficult for shy, quiet Edward, who missed the women who were basically the only people that he loved, and wrote sad notes to them a lot. Remember, he was only ten! | Also, because of Edward’s young age, other people began lining up to get a share of his power. Edward’s maternal step-uncle, Edward Seymour became “Lord Protector of England”, but his brother, Thomas Seymour, didn’t have a place on the council. This did not sit well with Thomas, who was an ambitious man. In order to wrangle himself some power, he figured the best way to do that would be to propose to thirteen-year-old Elizabeth. (Mary was out of the question because she was Catholic.) Thomas began flirting with and courting Elizabeth, who, despite being only thirteen, realized instantly that his attentions were all about his ambition. Still, she was a teenage girl, and couldn’t help being flattered. | The Tower of London castle | Thomas Seymour
21: Nevertheless, she did turn Thomas Seymour down, saying, “Neither my age nor my inclination allows me to think of marriage.” Thomas took this in stride, and went back to an earlier love, none other than Katherine Parr, the new Dowager Queen. In this twisted little family circle, Katherine had actually been Thomas’ lover prior to marrying his sister Jane’s widowed husband, Henry VIII. (Did you follow that? It’s a bit strange, I know. It was like there were only 10 people in England to choose from to marry at that time...) Katherine the Dowager Queen was still in love with her old flame, Thomas Seymour, and so she agreed to marry him, but this caused problems. She married him with what was called “indecent haste”, just four months after Henry had died - notice this was not an issue when the tables were flipped and Henry was marrying one wife a mere seven days after he’d executed the last wife. The Privy Council had not agreed to the Parr-Seymour wedding, stating that they needed to know for certain first that Katherine Parr was not pregnant with Henry VIII’s last child before wedding another man, so as to keep the line of succession clear. However, Edward, who was the heir to the throne, quickly pardoned Katherine because he genuinely liked her and wanted to see her happy. What he did not see were his uncle’s political goals, and young Edward did not understand the risk of letting this ambitious man a little closer to him and his affairs. | Privy Council Meeting
22: Elizabeth went to live in the household of Katherine Parr and Thomas Seymour at the age of fourteen. This was seen as scandalous to some people, particularly Mary. However, Elizabeth loved Katherine Parr, as she treated her like a true daughter, and did not want to offend her or the increasingly powerful Seymour brothers. Unfortunately, things in this household get a little... creepy. Thomas still had a romantic interest in the very young Elizabeth. In 1547, Katherine Parr became pregnant and was deliriously happy. Thomas Seymour was happy for his wife, but used her ‘condition’ as an excuse to step up his friendship with Elizabeth. Thomas was reported to have paid morning visits to Elizabeth, in her bedchamber, before she was dressed. There was romping, laughing, tickling, and giggling. Elizabeth was very flattered. She was receiving attention from a handsome, older man. No one knows how far these romps went. There was a report of Seymour slashing and ripping the gown of Elizabeth in the gardens of the house. Katherine was not bothered by this because she still viewed Elizabeth as a playful child, and Seymour referred to himself as Elizabeth’s ‘stepfather’ so this was just a fun, playful activity within the family scope. Seymour ensured that he and Elizabeth play-fought like this in front of family members and servants - surely there was nothing unseemly about the behaviour if it was being done in front of others. However, it was reported that his behaviour increased in its sexual nature the further along Katherine’s pregnancy went - he was even seen trying to kiss Elizabeth (her lady-in-waiting, Kat Ashley, shouted out, “For shame!” and stopped him) and smacking Elizabeth on the bottom.
23: Talk started - gossip increased. Elizabeth denied any scandal or bad behaviour. But things had gone too far, and early in 1548 Elizabeth left Katherine Parr's household under questionable circumstances. Reports have it that Thomas Seymour had made claims that Elizabeth had been seen with her arms around a man, and when Katherine questioned Elizabeth, she denied this, stating she knew no other men than the ones in Katherine’s household. Katherine began to suspect her husband’s motives. Another report claims Katherine caught Elizabeth in Thomas’ arms, and when they pulled apart they were ashamed. It is generally thought that their relationship was never consummated, but it appeared that the two were headed in that direction, and Katherine Parr needed to put a stop to it immediately. In one last awkward meeting before Elizabeth left, Katherine said to Elizabeth, “God has given you great qualities; cultivate them always and labour to improve them, for I believe you are destined by heaven to be Queen of England.” Elizabeth was so ashamed that she could not meet Katherine’s eyes. After this, there appeared to be no animosity between Katharine and Elizabeth. Neither was comfortable with the conduct of Seymour and it is possible that Elizabeth was sent away for her own protection. Elizabeth wrote to Katharine affectionately after she left her household. | Elizabeth learned a hard lesson about romance at a young age
24: Elizabeth was never again so foolish or naive about her honour or reputation regarding her virtue. She realized that this incident could have jeopardized everything. She took care from then on to appear as the perfect Protestant woman. She dressed very plainly, was modest in her demeanour, and was generally a sober, quiet person. This behaviour would essentially save her life in times to come. Katherine and Thomas did have their child. Katherine gave birth to a girl named Mary at Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire a short time after Elizabeth left her household, on August 30, 1548, but died shortly after on September 5th of puerperal fever. This began a rift between Elizabeth and her older sister Mary, who until then had gotten along well enough. Ironically, Thomas Seymour applied to be a suitor to Elizabeth after Katherine’s death, but the Privy Council denied him. About seven months after Katherine’s death, Thomas was executed for treason on March 10, 1549 - he was caught with a knife, standing outside Edward’s bedchamber. Some believed Elizabeth had been involved; | both Thomas and Elizabeth were questioned quite heavily before Thomas’ execution. Elizabeth did well for a fourteen-year-old being questioned in such a manner. She remained calm, cool, and composed and was found innocent of any involvement. At this time, Edward unfortunately came down with a case of respiratory stress, such as tuberculosis, and it became clear that his health was in grave danger, to the point where people believed he was about to die. This was when all the uncertainty about the line of succession just blew up into everyone’s faces.
25: As determined previously, the line of succession was: Edward VI, any children of Katherine Parr and Henry VII, Mary, and then Elizabeth. This was then followed by the descendants of Henry’s younger sister, not his elder sister. His elder sister was Mary Queen of Scots, Henry’s biggest enemy, and her descendants were meant for Scotland. Henry VIII’s younger sister’s heirs were rather low on this line of succession, but they jumped to the top right after Edward died. John Dudley, a Protestant and powerful man, was Edward’s adviser. While young Edward was ill and on his death bed, Dudley convinced Edward to alter his will and leave the throne to his pious Protestant cousin, Lady Jane Grey, who possessed royal blood through her grandmother, Princess Mary Tudor, Henry VIII’s younger sister. Many believed Jane Grey was a great replacement monarch, seeing that both Mary and Elizabeth had been declared illegitimate at one time or another during Henry VIII’s reign. There was no question of the legitimacy of Lady Jane Grey. Guildford Dudley, son of the plotting John Dudley, was married to Jane Grey on May 25, 1553 - this was done to strengthen the political power of his family and to give Lady Jane more clout when it was time to make a claim for the throne. Edward didn’t die until July 6, 1553, but the plot had already been set in motion for months beforehand. | John Dudley and his son Guildford
26: On July 10, 1553, Lady Jane Grey was proclaimed Queen of England, but was only the ‘puppet’ queen for nine days before being deposed. Mary, Elizabeth's older sister, had people working in the castle for her, too, and they had exposed John Dudley’s plot to usurp her crown. John Dudley was arrested in July of 1553 as a traitor. Mary was then proclaimed Queen of England. Dudley tried to recant his Protestant beliefs and become Catholic in the hopes that Mary would forgive him, but this did not work. Queen Mary had John Dudley, his son Guildford Dudley, and the hapless Lady Jane Grey all executed for their treason. During this entire coup, Elizabeth stayed a far distance away, feigning illness and ‘recovering’ in her country palace. (This was a sure-fire tactic for Elizabeth; she frequently feigned illness if she suspected danger was headed her way and simply stayed out of the line of fire.) Initially, Mary had a lot of support as queen, despite the fact that she was Catholic in a mainly Protestant nation - people liked how she had taken her crown back and wreaked vengeance on her usurpers. However, she quickly lost that support when her fanatical Catholic nature began to shine through, and people realized she was attempting to return England to the ‘true Catholic faith’. | Lady Jane Grey, the nine day queen, and her execution
27: Things really got messy when Mary married the ultra-Catholic Prince Philip II of Spain. Protestant Englishmen were terrified that the terrible Spanish Inquisition would come to England and that Mary and Philip would produce a Catholic heir to the throne. With this new voracious Catholic attitude, Mary began to work to switch England from being a Protestant land to a Catholic one. She sanctioned the burning of over 300 Protestants during her reign, and became known as “Bloody Mary”. Because of this, the people decided they would rather have their Protestant Elizabeth ruling over them instead, and wanted her to take Mary’s place and displace the fanatical Catholics. Elizabeth was in mortal danger - she was heir to the throne, a Protestant, and Mary did not trust her. After attending court for a short time, Elizabeth retreated to Hatfield. But by this time, Elizabeth was the focus of all Protestants and in danger of being implicated in conspiracies to overthrow her Catholic half-sister Mary. Her supporters begin to organize a series of rebellions, and the biggest one was the Wyatt Rebellion, led by Sir Thomas Wyatt in 1554. He planned to begin a rebellion, and sent Elizabeth a letter informing her of his plans. Unfortunately, this letter was intercepted by government agents, and they read it to sound as if Elizabeth had prior knowledge of and had sanctioned this rebellion. | Queen Mary Tudor & Phillip II of Spain
28: Many of the players involved in this rebellion were executed as traitors; over 100 of them. Elizabeth was summoned to London to be questioned, but she once again feigned illness and stated she was too sick to travel. Mary, already very suspicious of her half-sister, sent two physicians to give Elizabeth a physical exam - they claimed she was healthy enough to travel. With that, Elizabeth was off to the Tower of London. When she arrived in London, she was greeted by the sight of parts of the rotting bodies of traitors which were hung at various points of the City to serve as examples | of the fate which awaited traitors. She was questioned and imprisoned in a bell tower at the Tower of London. She was only 21-years-old at this time. She remained in the Tower for three months. Her only source of comfort was that her childhood friend (and future lover it is rumored) was imprisoned there with her - Robert Dudley. Eventually Elizabeth was released from the Tower at King Philip II’s insistence, as he believed it would be him blamed if anything were to happen to her. At this point, Elizabeth was much beloved by the people, for they hated Queen Mary. | Left: The coronation of Queen Mary Right: Queen Mary Tudor in 1544
29: Philip’s plan was to marry Elizabeth off to some distant relative, and ship her away. Mary agreed, because she believed she was pregnant, and confident that if she created her own heir, Elizabeth would no longer be a problem. Elizabeth was, for the time being, placed in house arrest at the palace at Woodstock. During her time in the Tower and at Woodstock, Elizabeth became quite the prolific poet, writing prayers to God thanking him for pulling her from the prison to the palace. Mary discovered she was not pregnant, but that it had been a false pregnancy. She actually had two false pregnancies during the course of her reign - whether she had ovarian cysts or cancer, or whether it was hysterical pregnancy, known as pseudocyesis, no one really knows. Elizabeth was back on guard then, pretending to be Catholic, but really continuing her Protestant faith, and being very obedient and subservient to Mary. She really had to play the game to stay out of the Tower of London. Mary was positive that Elizabeth was secretly Protestant, but could not find evidence to back up her suspicions. By middle age, Mary was a broken and bitter woman. The stresses of her life had piled up one upon the other: her horrible childhood growing up with crazy Henry VIII, the dishonour of her mother, her inability to have a child, her horrible reign, and the hatred of her people had all left their toll. The final straw was the | Woodstock Palace as it looked for Elizabeth | Blenheim Palace, built on Woodstock Palace land
30: abandonment of her husband, Philip II of Spain, who went back to Spain after giving up on their dreams of children. Mary died on November 17, 1558. Elizabeth was outside at Hatfield reading under a tree when she was told of Mary’s death, and was rendered speechless. Then she is said to have sank to her knees and murmured in Latin, “This is the Lord’s doing. It is marvelous in our eyes,” which is from the 118 Psalm. From that moment on, Elizabeth was destined to be the greatest queen England has ever had.
31: Article 3: The Dancing Plague of 1518
32: Parasite, disease, and plague have always morbidly fascinated human-kind. The sheer variety of symptoms and causes boggles the mind. And strangely enough, parasites, diseases, and plagues can also affect not only the body, but the mind as well. The “Dancing Plague” of 1518 was one such disease. This is often called “contagion”. In July of 1518, there was a woman named Frau Troffea who lived in Strasbourg, France. One day, she suddenly walked into the middle of the street and started dancing. She didn’t stop - this fervent dancing lasted between four to six days straight. By the end of the week, many other people had also caught this mysterious dancing ailment - 34 people to be exact. Within a month, over 400 ‘dancers’ were to be found in the town of Strasbourg. Many people died eventually from stroke, heart attack, or pure exhaustion. | If one were to read accounts from eyewitnesses from 1518, it almost sounds like a fable, because the town authorities at the time thought that the best way to cure people of the strange issue was to encourage them to keep dancing. This was because physicians thought the plague was caused by “hot blood”, and rather than bleeding them, as was common at the time, they just needed to work it out. It seems downright ludicrous, but the villagers erected a special stage with a platform for the victims to dance on. They hired musicians to come in. The town authorities even hired professional dancers to dance alongside the stricken, to help encourage them and prop them up when they became fatigued. This was obviously not the cure, because, as was stated earlier, many people died from this ailment.
33: As well, the dancers were not happy about dancing. They were not joyously flinging themselves to and fro - they in fact were cited to have shown expressions of fear and desperation. At the time, it was stated that people were not simply convulsing. Historical documents, including "physician notes, cathedral sermons, local and regional chronicles, and even notes issued by the Strasbourg city council" are clear that the victims danced. They were twirling and moving their arms, but could not stop. They had grimaces on their faces, and could not control the contortions of their bodies. During the dancing, they would call out to God and Saint Vitus for help. Saint Vitus was a saint, martyred in 303 A.D., primarily invoked to protect against epilepsy and epileptic seizures. Sydenham's Chorea, actually known as Saint Vitus’ Dance, is a nervous system disorder which can cause epileptic-like seizures due to rheumatic fever. It can cause patterns of quick muscular contractions, or sometimes slower, writhing motions called athetosis - which might look like dancing. Catholic legend says that invoking the wrath of Saint Vitus would provoke convulsive dancing. However, it seems improbable that so many cases of chorea could arise simultaneously in the population, or that so many adults could be affected, when chorea primarily targets children between the ages of 5 and 15.
34: The Dancing Plague, therefore, could have been caused by an outbreak of adult chorea, but there have been other theories proposed. In the 1950s, Eugene Backman suggested that the dancers had ergot poisoning. Ergot is a type of mold that grows on grain, and is a derivative of L.S.D. Even after ergot-infused grain has been processed into flour and baked into bread, the ergot mould still retains its deadly qualities and effects. Effects of ergot poisoning include delusions, hysteria, and hallucinations, commonly known as “Saint Anthony’s Fire”. Backman suggested that the people of Strasbourg were suffering from hysterical ergot poisoning, to the point where they believed they HAD to dance. The mass hysteria of the ergot poisoning simply caught on when others became infected, and they all shared the same delusion. Later scholars came along and debunked Backman’s proposal, saying ergot poisoning does not cause physical convulsions such as those seen in the Dancing Plague of 1518. The L.S.D.-type effects of ergot poisoning typically caused trance-like hallucinations, not violent, convulsive ones. Robert Bartholomew of Australia later proposed that the Dancing Plague was more of a psychological phenomenon, and that the dancers were members of some sort of ritualized group, and this was how they were expressing themselves. His theory
35: was shut down because other researchers noted that overwhelmingly the reports stated that the dancers were not dancing because they wanted to, and that all dancers were frightened and wanted the dancing to stop. They were also dropping dead, which seems to go against the idea that they were doing this as a ritual to express religious beliefs. Most recently, a researcher named John Waller released a book called “A Time to Dance; A Time to Die”. His theory is that it was a mass psychogenic illness. This means group beliefs can turn into collective action: mass hysteria that can lead to actual illness, simply by tricking one’s own brain into actually becoming ill. Prior to the Dancing Plague, the people of Strasbourg had suffered extreme psychological distress due to famine, poverty, and violent weather patterns. Other diseases were common at the time too, such as smallpox, syphilis, and leprosy. Deaths from these diseases and malnutrition caused many families to break apart, farms and estates to be ruined, and individuals to go begging on the streets. | Waller believes that these circumstances could have led to a mass hysteria atmosphere, and the onset of the Dancing Plague, which may not have been an actual disease at all. This has happened more than once: there was a “contagion” in 1962 called the Laughter Epidemic, when a bunch of girls at a boarding school started laughing and couldn’t stop for days and days. In Asia, there is a mass hysteria contagion called Koro where men believe that someone has stolen their genitalia. The men report feeling their genitalia shrink or disappear inside themselves, and will strike out at the supposed penis thief: there have been actual murders related to this mass psychogenic illness. In 2001, in Nigeria alone, there were 12 murders of alleged penis thieves.
36: As silly as some of these theories may seem, there have been many serious studies on mass psychogenic illnesses, and we see these types of behaviours occur time and again throughout history. There are many cases of stressed workers in closed factories experiencing nausea, dizziness, fainting, and even physical outbreaks of rashes in epidemic fashion - with no probable cause other than psychological distress and mass hysteria as one worker after another begins to believe there is a disease going around. During times of war, such as the Cold War, when people feared some sort of retaliation, they would begin to smell noxious fumes, particularly in public places. Due to these “gases” which weren’t actually present, people would begin to act strangely, faint, have headaches, or even vomit. This is the power of what the mind can do to the body. One article suggests that this should be called sociogenic illness, rather than psychogenic illness, because without the culture of the people, the illness probably wouldn’t exist. In North America, such as rural Alberta, no one would think that their penis had mysteriously been stolen by someone they bumped into on the street. It would be ridiculous. But in a culture where this mass hysteria is common, it might be an “illness” one could catch. So, the Dancing Plague of 1518 still remains somewhat of a medical and historical mystery: whether it was instigated by true biological causes or psychological issues, we can’t know for sure.
37: Article 4: What Happened at Jonestown?
38: In 1955, a man named Jim Jones founded a religious organization called “The Peoples Temple”. Originally based in Indiana, the cult eventually moved to California. On the surface, their motives seemed well-intentioned. Jones was heavily influenced by communism, and he supported social inclusiveness and racial integration. He wanted an outlet to demonstrate his Marxist beliefs, and infiltrated the Methodist church organization before branching off on his own to form his church called the Community Unity Church. To entice people to join his church, Jones and Temple members knowingly faked healings because they found that the increased faith generated financial resources to help the poor and finance the church. Yet, the Temple’s actual operations were more sinister. Jones was making money hand over fist, and former church members alleged that the organization was riddled with abuse. As these stories hit the news, Jones’ sermons grew dark, paranoid, and apocalyptic. In one sermon, Jones claimed that he had had a vision of Chicago under nuclear attack. | Peoples Temple leader Jim Jones | Community Unity Church in Indiana
39: Some defections occurred, most notably in 1973, when eight mostly young members, commonly referred to as the "Gang of Eight", defected together. Because members of the Gang of Eight were aware of sinister threats to potentially defecting members, they suspected that Jones would send a search party to look for them. Their fears proved to be correct when Jones employed multiple search parties, including one scanning highways from a rented airplane. The Gang of Eight drove three trucks loaded with firearms toward Canada, avoiding watched U.S. Highway 101. Because they feared bringing firearms over the Canadian border, the Gang of Eight traveled instead to the hills of Montana, where they wrote a long letter documenting their complaints. Former Temple member Jeannie Mills later wrote that Jones called thirty members to his home and forebodingly declared that, in light of the Gang of Eight defection, "in order to keep our apostolic socialism, we should all kill ourselves and leave a note saying that because of harassment, a socialist group cannot exist at this time." While the Temple did not execute the suicide plan to which Jones referred, it did conduct fake suicide rituals in the years that followed. | Above: Jones in a sermon Below: Jones with his "Rainbow Family"
40: In 1974, the cult leased some land in Guyana, South America, where Jones intended on beginning a commune. When Jones moved to the cult’s rented land in 1977, he encouraged his disciples to follow. Hundreds went to live with him on the “Peoples Temple Agricultural Project”, now called “Jonestown”. On November 17, 1978, Leo Ryan, a Congressman from the San Francisco area investigating claims of abuse within the Peoples Temple, visited Jonestown. During this visit, a number of Temple members expressed a desire to leave with the Congressman, and on the afternoon of November 18, these members accompanied Ryan to the local airstrip at Port Kaituma, outside of Georgetown, Guyana. There, they were intercepted by Temple security guards who opened fire on the group, killing Congressman Ryan, three journalists, and one of the Temple defectors. Ryan is the only Congressman in history to have died in the line of duty. A few seconds of gunfire from the incident were captured on video by Bob Brown, one of the journalists killed in the attack. | Jonestown in South America | Congressman Leo Ryan
41: On the evening of November 18, in Jonestown, Jones ordered his congregation of over 900 people to drink cyanide-laced, grape flavored Flavor Aid. Everyone voluntarily drank the concoction. In all, 918 people died, including 270 children. The mass killings at Jonestown resulted in the greatest single loss of American civilian life in a non-natural disaster, prior to the events of September 11, 2001. In the wake of this massive tragedy, the United States of America sought to understand exactly what had happened. How had one man convinced 918 people to poison themselves? Why didn’t the U.S. government do something to stop it before it went too far? | There are many theories on why and how this tragedy occurred. Let’s begin with Jim Jones himself. He believed that the C.I.A. was trying to dismantle The Peoples Temple. Since his death, conspiracy theorists have been consumed with the possibility that Jones was a C.I.A. agent himself, working in the MKUltra Program, a C.I.A. mind-control project. Other cult leaders, such as David Koresh of the Waco, Texas massacre, and Charles Manson were thought to be involved in similar experiments. To these conspiracists, the Jonestown compound was a failed experiment in mass indoctrination. According to this theory, the inhabitants of Jonestown were murdered when the experiments went awry. And the anti-C.I.A. Congressman Leo Ryan was only icing on the cake. | Commune housing in Jonestown | Jonestown cult member
42: Yet another theory goes further, alleging that the deaths in Jonestown were always intended by the C.I.A. Though mainstream history tells us that the cultists died of poison, contrary rumours persist, including speculation of death by gunshot. Other conspiracists disagree, and argue that the C.I.A. and F.B.I. were never helping The Peoples Temple. In fact, some believe that these agencies wanted to destroy the Temple because of its communist leanings and contact with the Soviets. It may seem odd that there are conspiracy theories revolving around what seems to be a pretty open-and-shut case of cult activity gone crazy. However, there are small “discrepancies” that make people wonder if something hasn’t been covered up by the government - no matter if the government was for or against The Peoples Temple. The first discrepancy is that of the body count. Originally, the body count was over 400 people, but as time progressed, this number increased to over 900 by the close of the investigation. In explaining the discrepancies, one U.S. official said the Guyanese, who recorded only 400 deaths, "couldn’t count" while another said that the 400 corpses initially found had just been stacked in such a way that they hid more than 500 more. The dead littered the compound, with piles of bodies decomposing atop one another near the pavilion, and corpses in other buildings or far-flung positions were not readily apparent. | Examples of the scale of human loss of life.
43: There is also Jones’ cryptic statement, recorded shortly before his death. At one point on the sound-recording made during the mass suicide, Jones' own voice commands, "Take Dwyer on down to the east house" and a short time later, Jones says "Get Dwyer out of here before something happens to him." This is thought to refer to C.I.A. agent Richard Dwyer, who was the Deputy Chief of Mission for the U.S. Embassy in Guyana at the time. If this is true, then the recording suggests that Dwyer was present for the suicides, aware of what was about to happen, and assisted to safety at the will of Jim Jones. This also suggests another disturbing factor: Congressman Leo Ryan probably would have been escorted to the Jonestown commune by law enforcement officials, and perhaps even Dwyer himself. It is hypothesized by theorists that Congressman Ryan was murdered not by Temple zealots, but by C.I.A. agents pretending to be Temple security guards. After all, Leo Ryan was one of the most vocal anti-C.I.A. critics of his time. But being a critic of the C.I.A. doesn’t mean they would assassinate him, does it? To many people, the tragedy at Jonestown is just that: a tragedy blown out of proportion by people with overactive imaginations in place of facts. To some, it is a C.I.A. experiment gone wrong; a cover-up. To others, it is an anti-communist C.I.A. hit. Either way, it was a great loss of life, and a reminder to all of us to ensure we check in with reality once in awhile. | Photographs of the Jonestown cult victims.
44: Article Six: Orson Welles and "The War of the Worlds"
45: In today’s high-tech, Internet-savvy, and instant-access society, people are used to disproving and dismantling fake news reports almost instantly. Frequent examples of news hoaxes come in the form of celebrity death reports, or reports of serial killers lurking in parking lots. Usually the hoaxes are obvious and can be picked out immediately; they do not come to our attention through legitimate media, but rather through spam emails or social networking sites. There are even entire websites dedicated to alerting the public about these types of news hoaxes, such as Snopes.com. People in our society do not like having the proverbial wool pulled over their eyes, and go to great measures to find out the truth in a matter of minutes. But what if these stories were proliferated through more conventional means, such as a respected newspaper website, or through the evening news on television? Would you be as sceptical of their accuracy then? When you drive to work in the morning, do you tend to believe the news reports you hear on the radio? Most people do, and in fact, this trust in broadcast news caused quite a stir in 1938, even though the scandal did not begin as a purposeful hoax.
46: In 1938, the radio adaptation of the novel “The War of the Worlds” first hit the airwaves. Since that first airing, it has been called the “greatest hoax in the history of radio broadcasting”. It has been pegged as the “greatest” because so many people believed in it. It was an original play based on H.G. Wells’ “The War of the Worlds”, a science fiction novel about a Martian invasion of the Earth. However, upon listening to the broadcast, enough people thought it was real that it caused mass panic, and for that reason the situation has become a case study for sociologists, psychologists, and even media critics who cite it as an example of the power of the media. | But what made it so realistic in the first place, and why did so many people believe it? Ironically enough, the broadcast was clearly labelled at the beginning as a piece of fiction. The programmers were seemingly not trying to fool anyone - at least, they covered their behinds at the beginning of the show! The brains behind this broadcast, Orson Welles (who may best known for his work on “Citizen Kane”, a highly influential and memorable film) used this performance to make Hollywood take note of him, and therefore catapulted his career. | War of the Worlds cover; Orson Welles, man behind the plot
47: George Orson Welles was born on May 6, 1915 in Kenosha, Wisconsin into an upper-middle class family. He was the second son of Richard Welles, the inventor of a successful bicycle lamp, and Beatrice Welles, an accomplished pianist. He also had an older brother, Dickie, who lived in an institution because of his learning disabilities. Orson was quite a precocious child while growing up, according to reports, and something of a child prodigy: he was reading and writing Shakespeare at the age of three! By the age of five, Orson had walk-on roles at the Chicago Opera. When Orson was six, however, his world was shaken up when his parents separated, and things got even worse at the age of nine, when mother contracted jaundice (a result of hepatitis) and died. | He was taken in by Dudley Crafts Watson, the man whom his mother worked for, and lived with the family at Watson's family home, "Trillium Dell", on Marshman Avenue in Highland Park, Illinois. At the age of ten, Orson with Watson's third daughter, Marjorie (of the same age), ran away from home. They were found a week later, singing and dancing for money on a street corner in Milwaukee. After this event, Orson traveled the world with his father, voyaging to Africa, Europe, and Asia. In 1930, Orson’s father passed away, leaving him an orphan at the young age of 15. Maurice Bernstein, a physician from Chicago, became his guardian. | Welles as a young boy with his dog, Ceasar
48: Orson Welles had studied at the Todd School for Boys in Woodstock, Illinois until he turned 15. While there, he was basically a mediocre student, other than his obvious passion for studying drama. Following graduation from Todd, Welles was awarded a scholarship to Harvard University. Rather than enrolling, he chose to travel. Later, he briefly studied for a time at the Art Institute of Chicago. He returned a number of times to Woodstock to direct his alma mater's student productions. In 1931, Welles went on a different path and traveled to Ireland, and found theatre work in Dublin with “Gate Theatre”. He remained there for a year, then did a tour of Spain and Morocco before finally returning to Chicago, where he found that a semblance of fame had preceded him, from his very successful performances with the Gath Theatre. He worked on a couple of acting books with his old school, Todd’s School for Boys before joining Katherine Cornell’s theatre company in New York in 1933. His run with this company was not quite satisfying - his role in Romeo and Juliet was shut down when the show was cancelled, and other roles proved to be very minor. He looked to supplement his acting career with radio work to make ends meet, and moved onto the next | theatre company, The Federal Theatre Project, where he became successful for his re-write of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”, setting it in a Haitian court and putting a voodoo spin on the tale. After we was done with the Federal Theater Project, Welles and a partner from the Federal Theatre Project, John Houseman, formed the Mercury Theatre, with only $100 in capital to start with. This was to prove to be a monumental move for him. Soon Welles was making a name for himself,
49: not in drama but in radio performances. His deep, baritone voice got the attention of any listener. He narrated a news series called “The March of Time” for two years, and in 1937 became quite well-known for being the voice of the mysterious crime fighter “The Shadow”. His famous line, remembered by radio fans, was, “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?” In 1938, Welles and Houseman made a deal with CBS to create a weekly radio drama with the Mercury Theatre cast. They called themselves “Mercury Theatre on the Air”. The program was originally called “First Person Singular”, but that didn’t seem to stick. The “Mercury Theater on the Air” broadcasts were originally slated to run 9 - 10 weeks, and included adaptations of “Dracula”, “A Tale of Two Cities”, and “Around the World in 80 Days”, along with other famous works. The broadcasts were done in first-person narrative, and included natural deliveries, such as stream of consciousness, diaries, and letters. The company also used sound effects and music in innovative ways, paving the way for future radio programming. Despite these cool innovations, the program had shaky ratings at first. However, the show scheduled for October 30, 1938, the Halloween Radio show entitled “War of the Worlds” was to change everything.
50: According to many sources, Howard Koch, who was the primary writer of the script of “War of the Worlds”, privately thought that the novel by H.G. Wells published back in 1898 was too out-dated and, quite frankly, boring. Welles, Houseman, and Koch vowed to spice the tale up a bit, and make it more compelling to the everyday listener. Koch re-scripted the novel, and delivered a radio play in six days. For those readers who haven’t read H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds”, or listened to Welles’ “War of the Worlds”, here are the synopses of the two plots, and a discussion on how they differ. The original story takes place in England, but Koch changed the setting to Grover Mills, which is a village in central New Jersey. This was to bring the ‘spookiness’ of the tale home to the American listening audience. Koch also presented the content of H.G. Wells’ story as a series of increasingly alarming news bulletins that start by reporting a meteorite landing in New Jersey. The news bulletin formatting was the key to why this radio program caused mass hysteria throughout the United States. Many claim it was Orson Welles’ idea to present the program in this way, and that he wanted it to be a radio hoax, but these claims are unsubstantiated. In any case, the meteorite in the story turns out to be
51: an extra-terrestrial capsule that opens up to reveal terrifying creatures that burn bystanders to death with heat rays. Then there is a further twist - the capsule later turns into a giant machine that starts wrecking havoc in New Jersey and New York. As the news bulletins continue their reports, more and more Martian landings occur all over the United States, escalating the panic into total war. The script sounds exciting, and has since been made into TV and film adaptations. However, at the time, the writers and producers were still worried that the script was still too dull. According to an article by James Naremore in the journal ‘Humanities’, Orson almost withdrew the script in favor of an adaptation of “Lorna Doone”, but they eventually went on as scheduled. They began airing at 8 p.m. on October 30th, and by 8:30 p.m., members of the Mercury Theatre on the air were surprised to find out that some listeners actually thought the story was real. | People who have actually spent time studying the aftermath of the Orson Welles radio production have called the public reaction to the show “panic, or mass hysteria”. Upon hearing that the nation was being invaded by aliens, people began to behave irrationally, fleeing to their cars, running to warn neighbours, and people congregated in churches to proclaim that the world was about to end. Traffic became jammed; communication systems became jammed due to the high amount of people calling the police and radio stations, trying to find out more details about the attack. The next day, October 31st, the New York Times reported that a score of adults had required medical treatment for shock and hysteria. In Newark, within a single city block, more than 20 families ran from their homes with
52: wet handkerchiefs and towels wrapped around their faces, trying to flee what they thought was a gas raid. (In the story on the radio, the giant machines were emitting poison gas and directing it at humans). Some of them even began to move their household furniture (although it is uncertain whether they were trying to save it or create a blockade around their houses). The switchboard at the New York Times was overwhelmed with about 875 calls. A man who called from Dayton, Ohio, literally asked, “What time will it be the end of the world?” Due to the high level of calls, newspapers were forced to send out reporters to research more about this story, regardless of its fantastical content. The Associated Press sent out the following bulletin at 8:48 p.m. (48 minutes after the radio broadcast had begun). They said: “Note to editors. Queries to newspapers from radio listeners throughout the United States tonight regarding reported meteor fall which killed a number of New Jersey-ites are the result of a studio dramatization. The A.P.” Police stations had to reiterate this statement so that all officers knew what was going on and to help them deal with frightened and hysterical citizens. One New Jersey police statement said: “Note to all receivers. WABC Broadcast as drama regarding the section being attacked by residents of Mars. Imaginary affair.” A brief, to-the-point statement with just a hint of annoyance!
53: Just how many people were affected by this mass panic is yet unknown. The New York Times made reference to “thousands” of people, while a lot of other sources made references to the generic “millions”. There are estimates that out of the approximately 6 million people who tuned in for the broadcast, about half believed it to be true, and only half of those people actually panicked. That leaves us with approximately 1.2 million people running from their homes or hysterically packing their bags. However, not everyone believes that the numbers were that high, and the number of the amount of people involved in the mass hysteria was greatly inflated due to hype. There were no deaths, either from accidents or suicides. Perhaps a bigger question than how many people believed the story is this: WHY did people believe the story? How could people possibly believe Martians had landed on Earth and were vaporizing people for the sheer fun of it? This question is especially pertinent considering the program started off with a very clear introduction: this is a piece of fiction. | They point blank stated, “Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre On Air presents ‘The War of the Worlds’ by H.G. Wells.” To add to this, a couple of times in the middle of the broadcast they would pause the action and say, “You are listening to an original dramatization by Mercury Theatre On Air of ‘War of the Worlds’ by H.G. Wells.” Um, you would think that this would make the situation obvious. However, there are a couple of theories as to why people believed the show was real.
54: The first theory posits that people simply tuned into the show too late, missed the introduction which stated the broadcast was fiction, and thought it was a true-blue news report. As mentioned before, ratings for the Mercury Theatre On Air weren’t that great at the time, and people may not have been aware that the time slot of 8 p.m. was set aside for radio drama. Most people would have actually been tuned to another radio station which featured the highly popular “Chase and Sanborn Hour”, a comedy and variety radio show. The actual ‘War of the Worlds’ radio play began with a mundane weather report, then moved into an orchestral music program, just as a seemingly normal radio program would. It was actually a couple of minutes before the first ‘news report’ about gas eruptions on Mars occurred. The news report was timed, perhaps purposely, to coincide with the normal commercial break in the Chase and Sanborn Hour, when listeners may have been flipping channels, hoping to catch a nice song while waiting for the comedy show to return. While flipping, they would have caught the news report midway, and would have been shocked and, as the Mercury Theatre had hoped, hooked. You can find this radio announcement easily on YouTube or other online venues, or a copy of the actual radio broadcast at http://www.american rhetoric.com/speeches/orsonwellswaroftheworlds.htm, but the news report from the ‘War of the Worlds’ radio shows went thusly:
55: “Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our program of dance music to bring you a special bulletin from the Intercontinental Radio News. At twenty minutes before eight, central time, Professor Farrell of the Mount Jennings Observatory, Chicago, Illinois, reports observing several explosions of incandescent gas, occurring at regular intervals on the planet Mars. The spectroscope indicates the gas to be hydrogen and moving towards the earth with enormous velocity. Professor Pierson of the Observatory at Princeton confirms Farrell's observation, and describes the phenomenon as (quote) "like a jet of blue flame shot from a gun" (unquote). We now return you to the music of Ramón Raquello, playing for you in the Meridian Room of the Park Plaza Hotel, situated in downtown New York.” If you listen to the actual broadcast, it truly does sound like a normal interruption by a news station. Because Mercury Theatre was unsponsored at this point, meaning they didn’t sell airspace during their show for commercials, there were no other interruptions in the radio broadcast other than the ones that they had planned for the show. They also had a few other ‘realistic’ effects that aided in creating a very believable production, such as interviews with ‘notable’ professionals, who confirmed the news reports and events.
56: They interviewed this fictional Dr. Pierson of Princeton, who confirmed the odd behaviour of the planet Mars, as well as natural historians, astronomers, and museum experts. They even had a brief interview with a supposed random man on the street. The interviews were practiced to sound authentic, with interviewer asking the subject to speak up, or the two people accidentally interrupting one another. They didn’t sound polished or rehearsed. There were also appropriate background noises and sound effects as well. These things all combined to make the listener believe that he or she was hearing reality. | Another theory as to why people may have so readily believed the broadcast to be true is that listeners were vulnerable to believe in the worst because of what was happening in the world at the time. There was probably latent anxiety in the population, just waiting to find a release, after years of economic depression - this occurred during the “Dirty Thirties” if you remember. Also, the Second World War was looming in Europe; in fact, the show was aired just after the Munich crisis. The world was an unbalanced place. Some listeners did not believe in the alien invasion, but were convinced that it was a cover for a real human invasion, which was just as scary. | Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre On Air; H.G. Wells, author
57: Consequently, the aftermath of this mass panic did not lead to good publicity for the CBS station which hosted the Mercury Theatre On Air, or for Orson Welles himself (initially). Welles presented the final word in the broadcast when it was done, and stated pointedly that it had all just been a story, and CBS’ version of a good Halloween joke. But not many people were laughing: after the hysteria it had caused, people were embarrassed, distraught, and upset that it had only been fiction. The FCC issued a statement calling the program “regrettable”. Lawsuits were drawn up. Even H.G. Wells threatened to sue for the “misuse of his novel”. CBS had to publicly apologize and had to promise to never again create any “simulated news broadcasts that could cause harm” ever again. Orson Welles retreated from public view for awhile, until the storm cloud blew over. When the dust settled, however, Orson Welles emerged victorious, for this broadcast had put him on the map at the young age of 23. The Mercury Theatre On Air continued for awhile, gaining notoriety, and eventually got the sponsorship of the Campbell’s Soup Company. They were moved to a better time slot and were renamed “The Campbell Playhouse”. Orson Welles was offered a contract with RKO Studios and moved to Hollywood, where he had a fantastic career or writing, producing, directing, and acting. He created “Citizen Kane”, the movie mentioned at the beginning of this article, which solidified his position in Hollywood. Art Koch also blossomed into a career in film, and even earned an Oscar in 1944 for his screenplay of “Casablanca”. H.G. Wells even changed his tune, because the controversy spurred renewed interest in his novel. In retrospect, the radio broadcast was less of a “regrettable” instance, and more of a genius move: any publicity is good publicity!
58: You may be asking, “Have there been other radio hoaxes?” The answer is yes: there have been several - although, none since the inception of the Internet. There was one in 1949 on Radio Quito in Ecuador, but this one wasn’t as harmless; in fact, it turned quite deadly. Thousands of people began rioting in the streets, thinking monsters were actually invading the country, or thinking perhaps it was neighbouring enemy Peru. After discovering it was all a hoax, they turned on the radio station itself, burning it to the ground and killing 20 people. Since then, there have been other hoaxes around the world: one in Buffalo, New York in 1968, one in Providence, Rhode Island in 1974, one in northern Portugal in 1988. Perhaps these types of hoaxes ended with the Internet because of the way information is transmitted so quickly electronically. With instant access to knowledge, would it even be possible to pull the wool over society’s eyes? Until another one occurs in today’s day and age, we won’t know.
59: What Happened to Norte Chico? | Article Seven
60: Is it true that climate change was responsible for creating a mysterious civilization 5000 years ago, and that the same climate change was responsible for its disintegration as well? Many people believe this to be strange, but true! Proof that this fleeting culture existed comes in the form of fish bones found in the middle of the desert. Intrigued? Then read on! | In 2001, archaeologists in the Norte Chico region of Peru found fish bones in the middle of the desert, along with strange, large stone mounds. These mounds aren’t spectacular by any means, at only 85 feet tall - they do not compare to the pyramids, and are roughly equal to the ruins of Chichen Itza in Mexico (the Great Pyramid of Giza is 480.6 feet tall, and El Castillo in Chichen Itza is 79 feet high). However, there is something more important about these mounds than their height, and that would be their age. They are extremely old. The mounds are much older than any Incan or Mayan structures, and in fact, have been dated to be even older than the ancient Egyptian pyramids by at least 1000 years! It could be that the area of Norte Chico is the true location of the first civilization in the Americas. Besides the large stone mounds and the fish bones, archaeologists also found the following in this odd desert location: seashells, anthropomorphic figurines, evidence of circular plazas, and remnants of houses built from adobe, wooden poles, cane, and mud.
61: What interested scientists and archaeologists the most were the oceanic artefacts, found 10 miles from the ocean in a desert environment without any large bodies of water. How did these items get to Norte Chico, and why would a civilization grow in an area devoid of the necessary water and vegetation to support it? One report described the area of Norte Chico as a barren “moonscape”, and judging from pictures, this is quite accurate. The theory goes that fishermen off the coast of Peru survived using the sea; they were hunters and gatherers. They were not hunter/gatherers in the sense that they survived off picking berries or hunting mammoths: these hunter/gatherers collected clams and mussels and the like from the seaside of Peru. But in 3000 B.C.E., their whole lifestyle changed when El Nino - a weather phenomenon - began. The El Nino is a warm front of weather that brings heavy rains, and raises the temperature of the ocean and the atmosphere around Southern America. It is a cyclical event, tied to the hurricane season. When the El Nino cycle started picking up in 3000 B.C.E., it began to alter the coastal climate in Peru, as well as the inland area around Norte Chico. When the ocean temperatures rose, the cold water fish migrated elsewhere, and all the clams and mussels died. There was also a great deal of rain and flooding. This prompted the hunter/gatherers to move inland.
62: The El Nino climate change had not only inexorably altered the coastal region, but had transformed the Norte Chico region into a more fertile area. The flooding and rain made it easy to irrigate, and in fact, there are still irrigation systems in the district today. With the irrigation came the advent of farming, where farmers in the Norte Chico area began cultivating crops such as squash, cotton, beans, and avocadoes. They traded these fares for fish, such as anchovies, with those people who had remained in the coastal locales. This explains why, thousands of years later, archaeologists found fish bones in the middle of the desert. The trading went beyond fish: the relationship between the fishermen and the farmers became symbiotic, with the farmers providing cotton for the fishermen’s seafaring accoutrements, and the fishermen providing the farmers with items from the ocean. This is big, because one of the keystone elements of having a “civilization” is the presence of long-distance trade. With the Norte Chico region becoming so successful and sustainable due to trade, the citizens began building. As their culture became more sophisticated, there arose a need for a more centralized society. Permanent houses were erected, a government was established, and there is evidence that they began to structure an organized religion. (The large stone middens - described as being ‘giant square birthday cakes’ - and the anthropomorphic figurines are deemed evidence of this.)
63: The houses were covered in plaster and painted, demonstrating pride in the home. However, strangely enough, archaeologists did not find any shards of pottery, evidence of weaponry such as arrowheads, art, or signs of a dependency on a staple grain crop - all things typically found in a confirmed “civilization”. The lack of ceramics seems especially odd; they had the technology to plaster their homes and paint them, and to build giant stone mounds, but no pottery? In fact, baskets were woven to transport the massive stone rocks to the building sites of these mounds, and the mounds themselves were plastered several times over. However, not a single shard of ceramics has been found on site. Some argue this is a reason to deem Norte Chico a settlement but not a civilization, as pottery and ceramics are a hallmark of civilizations. | Urbanization is another requirement for a settlement to be known as a civilization, and there are debates on whether or not Norte Chico had urban centers. There were meeting places, discovered as sunken plazas, which could count. The residents of Norte Chico also had a proto-writing system called quipu, similar to the Aztec style of record keeping, which was a series of knots on strings. They also may have had music, as several flutes have been found on location.
64: Professor Winifred Creamer, an anthropologist from Northern Illinois University, stated, “The people who built the first of these structures had no model to go by, no precedent to use in building a monument. It’s a bit like deciding to build a functioning spaceship in your backyard - and succeeding!” This is true - these people had no models. They were the start of civilization on their continent. They didn’t know what houses or plazas or temples looked like - they invented these notions. It is rather mind-blowing to think about. From this civilization, there may have spawned other Andean cultures, which may have spread across South America. Unfortunately, like most civilizations, this did not last forever. Norte Chico lasted for about a thousand years before there was another shift in climate that made irrigation too difficult. They may have abandoned their original stronghold, but the people did adapt and move on to form new settlements and communities. They were also not the only group of people to be affected by this dramatic climate shift. Some people say that China’s Tang Dynasty, which fell in 907 A.D., may have also been impacted negatively by a climate shift which altered the monsoon season.
65: Around the same time, oddly enough, on the other side of the world, the Mayan civilization started to fall around this time period, although they struggled for many more reasons other than just climate change. As for Norte Chico, a series of droughts may have been what ultimately did the civilization in. They were already maxed out for the amount of food they could grow compared to the size of their population, and compounded with a drought, this spelled massive starvation for the people. An agricultural society, when faced with these scenarios, has to adapt or it will end.
66: Article Eight: Who was the Mistress of Murder Hill?
67: Everyone loves a gruesome story, and this story is no exception: it contains tales of murder, mystery, mayhem, and one decapitated body. It is the story of the Mistress of Murder Hill, and it all began with a fire... The fire took place on the morning of April 28, 1908 at a small farm just outside of La Porte, Indiana, which was then a town of about 10,000, located 60 miles from Chicago. The farm was owned by a widow named Belle Gunness, and her home was completely destroyed by this fire. It was after the fire that the real mystery started. Four charred bodies were found in the cellar; three appeared to be the bodies of Gunness’ children, Myrtle Sorenson, Lucy Sorenson, and Philip Gunness, who were 11, 9, and 5 years old respectively. The fourth body, however, became somewhat of a puzzle. At first, people believed that the fourth body was that of Belle Gunness. It was a woman’s body, and of course, Belle Gunness lived in the home, so it was an easy assumption to make. Upon further inspection, there were some discrepancies. The body seemed too small to belong to Belle. To put it politely, Belle Gunness was a woman of size, standing at about 5’8” and 230 lbs. | The body appeared to be much shorter, and in life, had been much lighter. The body was also missing a head. Yes, that’s right, no head. This made it even harder to confirm the identity. A set of false teeth, Belle’s false teeth, were eventually found at the scene, leading officials to state the body was that of Belle Gunness. But many thought otherwise. But let’s back it up. What was it about Belle that was suspicious? And was the fire set deliberately? We first need to understand a bit more about Belle Gunness before we may answer these questions. | The fire at Belle Gunness' farm house
68: Belle Gunness came from a hard life and had a hard childhood in 19th century Norway. She was born on November 11, 1859 as Brynhild Paulsdatter Strseth. She was the youngest of eight children born to a stonemason and his wife. The family was poor. In order to escape that life, one of her older sisters , Nellie Larson, eventually moved to America and when Belle was old enough, she followed. It was then that she changed her name to Belle. She worked as a house servant in Chicago, but still suffered from poverty. Life in America was not the dream she had been promised by the enticing advertisements she’d seen in Norway. In fact, her sister is quoted as saying, “Belle was crazy for money.” It is reasonable to imagine that Belle was not happy in her role as a mere servant, working for extremely low wages. Belle married Max “Mads” Sorenson in 1884 in Chicago, and they once again struggled for money, as Mads was a department store detective, and later worked at the railroad. However, a turning point came for Belle when she and her husband opened up a confectioner store in Chicago. | Left: Mads Sorenson Right: A young Belle Gunness
69: It was not a successful business, but it was insured. When a fire burned the building down a year after they opened shop, Belle and her husband collected the insurance money. This may not seem significant yet, but it in fact kicked off a pattern for Belle that would continue throughout her life. In 1898, the Sorenson’s house burned down, and they collected insurance money for that, too. Belle’s marriage to Mads produced four children (allegedly): Caroline, Axel, Myrtle, and Lucy. Caroline and Axel died in infancy, allegedly of acute colitis. The symptoms of acute colitis — nausea, fever, diarrhea, and lower abdominal pain and cramping — are also symptoms of many forms of poisoning. Belle collected on their life insurance. The Sorensons also adopted a young girl, Jennie Olsen. Mads Sorenson died on July 30, 1900, reportedly the only day on which two life insurance policies on him overlapped. The first doctor to see him thought he was suffering from strychnine poisoning. However, the Sorensons' family doctor had been treating him for an enlarged heart, and he concluded that death had been caused by heart failure. | Belle Gunness with her children (who may have been adopted): the eldest, Myrtle, the middle child, Lucy, and the young baby, Philip.
70: himself met with a "tragic accident". According to Belle, he was reaching for his slippers next to the kitchen stove when he was scalded with brine. She later declared that, in fact, part of a sausage-grinding machine fell from a high shelf, causing a fatal head injury. Her husband's death netted Belle another $3,000 (some sources say $4,000). Local people refused to believe that her husband could be so clumsy; he had run a hog farm on the property and was known to be an experienced butcher; the district coroner reviewed the case and unequivocally announced that he had been murdered. He convened a coroner's jury to look into the matter. Meanwhile, Jennie Olsen, then 14, was overheard confessing to a classmate: "My mama killed my papa. She hit him with a meat cleaver and he died. Don't tell a soul." Jennie was brought before the coroner's jury but denied having made the remark. Belle, meanwhile, convinced the coroner that she was innocent of any wrongdoing. She did not mention that she was pregnant, which would have inspired sympathy, but in May of 1903 a baby boy, Phillip, joined the family. | An autopsy was considered unnecessary because the death was not thought suspicious. Belle told the doctor that she had given her late husband medicinal "powders" to help him feel better. Belle collected on her husband’s life insurance, $8500 to be exact, and she used the money to buy a farm in La Porte, Indiana. As she was preparing to move from Chicago to LaPorte, she became re-acquainted with a recent widower, Peter Gunness, also Norwegian-born. They were married in LaPorte on April 1, 1902; just one week after the ceremony, Peter's infant daughter died (of uncertain causes) while alone in the house with Belle. In December 1902, Peter | Foster / adopted daughter Jennie Olsen
71: In late 1906 Belle told neighbors that her foster daughter, Jennie Olsen, had gone away to a Lutheran College in Los Angeles. It was around this time that Belle hired a key player in her twisted games, a farmhand by the name of Ray Lamphere. Belle was not the type of woman who liked to be lonely, or so it seemed. In 1907, Belle inserted the following advertisement in the matrimonial columns of all the Chicago daily newspapers and those of other large midwestern cities: “Personal - comely widow who owns a large farm in one of the finest districts in La Porte County, Indiana, desires to make the acquaintance of a gentleman equally well provided, with view of joining fortunes. No replies by letter considered unless sender is willing to follow answer with personal visit. Triflers need not apply.” | Belle Gunness as a widow | Several middle-aged men of means responded to Belle’s ads. One of these was John Moe, who arrived from Minnesota. He had brought more than $1,000 with him to pay off her mortgage, or so he told neighbors. He disappeared from her farm within a week of his arrival. Next came George Anderson from Missouri. During dinner with Anderson, Belle raised the issue of her mortgage. Anderson agreed that he would pay this off if they decided to wed. Late that night, Anderson awoke to see her standing over him, holding a guttering candle in her hand and with a strange, sinister expression on her face. Without uttering a word, she ran from the room. Anderson fled from the house, and took a train back home to Missouri.
72: The suitors kept coming, but none, except for Anderson, ever left the Gunness farm. By this time, she had begun ordering huge trunks to be delivered to her home. Hack driver Clyde Sturgis delivered many such trunks to her from La Porte and later remarked how the heavyset woman would lift these enormous trunks "like boxes of marshmallows", tossing them onto her wide shoulders and carrying them into the house. She kept the shutters of her house closed day and night; farmers traveling past the dwelling at night saw her digging in the hog pen. Reports from the post office suggested that Belle was sending out at least ten letters a day, and receiving just as many. When she didn’t receive many letters, she would leave the post office scowling. Ole B. Budsberg, an elderly widower from Wisconsin, appeared next. He was last seen alive at the La Porte Savings Bank on April 6, 1907, when he mortgaged his Wisconsin land there, signing over a deed and obtaining several thousand dollars in cash. Ole B. Budsberg's sons, Oscar and Mathew Budsberg, had no idea that their father had gone off to visit Belle. When they finally discovered his destination, they wrote to her; she promptly responded, saying she had never seen their father. Several other middle-aged men appeared and disappeared in brief visits to the Gunness farm throughout 1907. Then, in December 1907, Andrew Helgelien, a bachelor farmer from Aberdeen, South Dakota, wrote to her. He was warmly received by Belle, and decided to come visit her. However, Helgelien would prove to be one man who was sorely missed by his family back home in South Dakota, and would prove to be Belle’s undoing.
73: Helgelien flew to her side in January 1908. He had with him a check for $2,900, his savings, which he had drawn from his local bank. He had been specifically instructed by Belle, through their correspondence, on how to bring the money safely: which denominations to use, and how to sew it into his underwear for safe keeping. A few days after Helgelien arrived, he and Belle appeared at the Savings Bank in La Porte and deposited the check. Helgelien vanished a few days later, but Belle appeared at the Savings Bank to make a $500 deposit and another deposit of $700 in the State Bank. | Andrew Helgelien | State Bank | In March 1908, Belle sent several letters to a farmer and horse dealer in Topeka, Kansas named Lon Townsend, inviting him to visit her; he decided to put off the visit until spring, and thus did not see her before a fire at her farm. Belle was also in correspondence with a man from Arkansas and sent him a letter dated May 4, 1908. He would have visited her, but did not because of the fire at her farm. Lucky gentlemen!
74: The hired hand Ray Lamphere was deeply in love with Belle; he performed any chore for her, no matter how gruesome. He became jealous of the many men who arrived to court his employer and began making scenes. She fired him on February 3, 1908. Shortly after dispensing with Lamphere, she presented herself at the La Porte courthouse. She declared that her former employee was not in his right mind and was a menace to the public. She somehow convinced local authorities to hold a sanity hearing. Lamphere was pronounced sane and released. Belle was back a few days later to complain to the sheriff that Lamphere had visited her farm and argued with her. She contended that he posed a threat to her family and had Lamphere arrested for trespassing. It was at this time, while dealing with the jealous Lamphere, that Belle was presented with a second problem: her victim Andrew Helelien, the bachelor farmer from South Dakota, was missed by his brother. Helgelien had long since disappeared from the precincts of La Porte, or so it was believed. However, his brother, Asle Helgelien, was disturbed when Andrew failed to return home and he wrote to Belle in Indiana, asking her about his sibling's whereabouts. | Images of Belle Gunness' farmhand, Ray Lamphere
75: Belle wrote back, telling Asle Helgelien that his brother was not at her farm and probably went to Norway to visit relatives. Asle Helgelien wrote back saying that he did not believe his brother would do that; moreover, he believed that his brother was still in the La Porte area, the last place he was seen or heard from. Belle brazened it out; she told him that if he wanted to come and look for his brother, she would help conduct a search, but she cautioned him that searching for missing persons was an expensive proposition. If she were to be involved in such a manhunt, she stated, Asle Helgelien should be prepared to pay her for her efforts. Asle Helgelien did come to La Porte, but not until May. Lamphere represented an unresolved danger to her; now Asle Helgelien was making inquiries that could very well send her to the gallows. She told a lawyer in La Porte, M.E. Leliter, that she feared for her life and that of her children. | Ray Lamphere, she said, had threatened to kill her and burn her house down. She wanted to make out a will, in case Lamphere went through with his threats. Leliter complied and drew up her will. She left her entire estate to her children and then departed Leliter's offices. She went to one of the La Porte banks holding the mortgage for her property and paid this off. Belle did not go to the police to tell them about Lamphere's allegedly life-threatening conduct. The reason for this, most later concluded, was that there had been no threats; she was merely setting the stage for her own arson. | Ruins of the Gunness house
76: Joe Maxson, who had been hired to replace Lamphere in February 1908, awoke in the early hours of April 28, 1908, smelling smoke in his room, which was on the second floor of the Gunness house. He opened the hall door to a sheet of flames. Maxson screamed Belle’s name and those of her children but got no response. He slammed the door and then, in his underwear, leapt from the second-story window of his room, barely surviving the fire that was closing in about him. He raced to town to get help, but by the time the old-fashioned hook and ladder arrived at the farm at early dawn the farmhouse was a gutted heap of smoking ruins. The floors had collapsed and four bodies were found in the cellar. The piano was on top of the bodies. One of the bodies was that of a woman who could not immediately be identified as Belle, since she had no head. The head was never found. The bodies of her children were found next to the corpse. County Sheriff Smutzer had somehow heard about Lamphere’s alleged threats; he took one look at the carnage and quickly sought out the ex-handyman. Leliter came forward to recount his tale about Belle’s will and how she feared Lamphere would kill her and her family and burn her house down. | Lamphere denied having anything to do with it, claiming that he was not near the farm when the blaze occurred. However, eyewitnesses came forward, stating they had seen Lamphere in the area at the time of the fire. Lamphere was arrested and charged with murder and arson. Then scores of investigators, sheriff's deputies, coroner's men and many volunteers began to search the ruins for evidence. | Debris from the fire
77: As stated earlier in this article, there was immediate concern regarding the positive identity of the headless corpse. The body, neighbors stated, was too small. Doctors then measured the remains, and, making allowances for the missing neck and head, stated the corpse was that of a woman who stood five feet three inches tall and weighed no more than 150 pounds. Friends and neighbors, as well as the La Porte clothiers who made her dresses and other garments, swore that Belle was taller than 5'8" and weighed between 180 and 200 pounds. Detailed measurements of the body were compared with those on file with several La Porte stores where she purchased her apparel. When the two sets of measurements were compared, the authorities concluded that the headless woman could not possibly have been Belle Gunness, even when the ravages of the fire on the body were taken into account. (The flesh was badly burned but intact). Moreover, Dr. J. Meyers examined the internal organs of the dead woman. He sent stomach contents of the victims to a pathologist in Chicago, who reported months later that the organs contained lethal doses of strychnine. As professionals began to clear the site of the fire, discoveries were made. First, a set of false teeth, identified as Belle Gunness’, were discovered in the located where the bodies had been found. They were positively identified by her dentist. Asle Helgelien arrived in La Porte and told Sheriff Smutzer that he believed his brother had met with foul play at Belle’s hands. Then, Joe Maxson came forward with information that could not be ignored: He told the Sheriff that Belle had ordered him to bring loads of dirt by wheelbarrow to a large area surrounded by a high wire fence where the hogs were fed. Maxon said that there were many deep depressions in the ground that had been covered by dirt. These filled-in holes, Belle had told Maxson, contained rubbish. She wanted the ground made level, so he filled in the depressions.
78: Smutzer took a dozen men back to the farm and began to dig. On May 3, 1908, the diggers unearthed the body of Jennie Olson (who had not gone to university in December of 1906 as Belle had said). Then they found the small bodies of two unidentified children. Subsequently the body of Andrew Helgelien was unearthed (his overcoat was found to be worn by Lamphere). As days progressed and the gruesome work continued, one body after another was discovered in Belle’s hog pen. The bodies of Ole Budsberg, Thomas Lindboe, Henry Gurholdt, Olaf Svenherud, John Moe, and Olaf Lindbloom were also unearthed from Belle Gunness’ farm. Another 34 victims are suspected to be in or around the location of the Gunness farm, or to have been fed to and eaten by Belle’s hogs. | Remains of Ole Budsberg | Locations of Gunness' victims' buried bodies | Ray Lamphere was arrested on May 22, 1908 and tried for murder and arson. He denied the charges of arson and murder that were filed against him. His defense hinged on the assertion that the body was not Belle’s. However, the prosecution had evidence of their own. There were eyewitness accounts that stated the false teeth had been planted by the man who claimed to have discovered them, and a jeweler testified that the gold identification markings on the false teeth had been
79: melted - no one could actually conclusively state whether or not they had belonged to Belle. This raised reasonable doubt that Belle Gunness was even dead. Lamphere was found guilty of arson, but acquitted of murder. On November 26, 1908, he was sentenced to 20 years in the State Prison in Michigan City. He died of tuberculosis on December 30, 1909. Before he passed away, Lamphere confessed on his deathbed. Lamphere revealed Belle’s crimes and swore that she was still alive. Lamphere had stated to the Reverend Schell and to a fellow convict, Harry Meyers, shortly before his death, that he had not murdered anyone, but that he had helped Belle bury many of her victims. When a victim arrived, she made him comfortable, charming him and cooking a large meal. She then drugged his coffee and when the man was in a stupor, she split his head with a meat chopper. Sometimes she would simply wait for the suitor to go to bed and then enter the bedroom by candlelight and chloroform her sleeping victim. A powerful woman, Belle would then carry the body to the basement, place it on a table, and dissect it. | She then bundled the remains and buried these in the hog pen and the grounds about the house. Belle had become an expert at dissection, thanks to instruction she had received from her second husband, the butcher Peter Gunness. To save time, she sometimes poisoned her victims' coffee with strychnine. She also varied her disposal methods, sometimes dumping the corpse into the hog-scalding vat and covering the remains with quicklime. Lamphere even stated that if Belle was overly tired after murdering one of her victims, she merely chopped up the remains and, in the middle of the night, stepped into her hog pen and fed the remains to the hogs. | Sluicing at the Gunness farm for human remains
80: The handyman also cleared up the mysterious question of the headless female corpse found in the smoking ruins of Belle’s home. Belle had lured this woman from Chicago on the pretense of hiring her as a housekeeper only days before she decided to make her permanent escape from La Porte. Belle, according to Lamphere, had drugged the woman, then bashed in her head and decapitated the body, taking the head, which had weights tied to it, to a swamp where she threw it into deep water. Then she chloroformed her children, smothered them to death, and dragged their small bodies, along with the headless corpse, to the basement. She dressed the female corpse in her old clothing, and removed her false teeth, placing these beside the headless corpse to assure it being identified as Belle Gunness. She then torched the house and fled. Lamphere had helped her, he admitted, but she had not left by the road where he waited for her after the fire had been set. She had betrayed her one-time partner in crime in the end by cutting across open fields and then disappearing into the woods. Lamphere said that Belle was a rich woman, that she had murdered 42 men by his count, perhaps more, and had taken amounts from them ranging from $1,000 to | $32,000. She had allegedly accumulated more than $250,000 through her murder schemes over the years—a huge fortune for those days (about $6.3 million in 2008 dollars). She had a small amount remaining in one of her savings accounts, but local banks later admitted that she had indeed withdrawn most of her funds shortly before the fire. The fact that Belle withdrew most of her money suggested that she was planning to evade the law. | Marker for Gunness' victims
81: To this day, the fate of Belle Gunness is still a mystery. The bodies of Belle’s three children were found in the home's wreckage, but the headless adult female corpse found with them was never positively identified. Belle’s true fate is unknown; La Porte residents were divided between believing that she was killed by Lamphere and that she had faked her own death. In 1931, a woman known as "Esther Carlson" was arrested in Los Angeles for poisoning August Lindstrom for money. Two people who had known Belle claimed to recognize her from photographs, but the identification was never proved. Carlson died while awaiting trial. The body believed to be that of Belle Gunness was buried next to her first husband at Forest Home Cemetery in Illinois. On November 5, 2007, with the permission of descendants of Belle's sister, the headless body was exhumed from Belle’s grave in Forest Home Cemetery by a team of forensic anthropologists and graduate students from the University of Indianapolis in an effort to learn her true identity. It was initially hoped that a sealed envelope flap on a letter found at the victim's farm would contain enough DNA to be compared to that of the body. Unfortunately, there was not enough DNA there to make a positive ID, and the Mistress of Murder Hill remains a total mystery. | The remains of "Belle Gunness" being exhumed for positive identification