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In 1986 I bought a charming cottage in the Greenwood District of Seattle. I lived there for thirteen years, moving on in 1999 after my son graduated from college. On numerous occasions I have mentioned the eerie and unsettling occurrences that took place during the time my son and I lived there. Although from the street the house looked sweet, with its rose trellises and ¼ acre lush green lawn, something was afoot inside – a presence that moved through in the early morning hours.
I now live in a suburb of Seattle a number of miles away from Greenwood. As I write this blog entry I am sitting at a two-person round café table in my kitchen. It’s 3AM. If I were back in my cottage writing at this early-morning hour it would not be unusual for the old country-style cupboard doors, fashioned out of thin sheets of plywood, to slowly creak open as though the house were built on a slant. It would not be unusual for the glass-prism doorknobs to rattle and turn in their brass casings – always at 3AM. The house was haunted.
I learned (not at first, but over the years) that many of the houses in Greenwood are haunted. And that realization sparked a curiosity – why would so many houses on one block – and many houses beyond that block – in an otherwise pleasant family-oriented subdivision – be haunted? Well, in the case of Greenwood, Seattle, because the subdivision had been built adjacent to an expansive nineteenth century cemetery – Woodland Cemetery of Seattle. In short – my Snow White inspired cottage, with its rosebud ceramic cupboard-door pulls, and lace curtains, had been built on Haunted Land.
Many buildings, even modern buildings that would seemingly have no ‘past’ – no reason for residual hauntings, no history of trauma or drama, even toy stores – are in fact, haunted. They are haunted by virtue of the LAND that they are situated on and what has transpired on that land.
Take the case of the Sunnyvale, California toy store, which is haunted by the specter of a field hand whose affections were not reciprocated by the daughter of his boss. Simulated in a dated YouTube video (which plays in the Side Bar to this blog) the field hand, Johnny Johnson, is shown lamenting over his unrequited love to Elizabeth Murphy on the eve of her marriage to Mr. Tafee. In his rage and frustration Johnny Johnson, who had been chopping wood when he received the news of Miss Murphy’s impending wedding, accidentally misses with his axe and severs his own artery.
He falls to the ground and dies on the very spot where, moments before, Elizabeth had spurned his love. Johnny Johnson cries out for Elizabeth as the last trace of Life leaves his body, and thus the land becomes haunted forever more.
Many years later the Murphy-family farmland was sold and a Toys R Us store was built where, in 1870, Johnny Johnson had been left calling out to be saved from death so that he could continue in his efforts to woo Elizabeth. A century later occurrences in the toy store such as the sound of a man crying out the name ‘Elizabeth’, the feeling of someone blowing on the back of the neck of young raven-haired women, cold spots, and eerie feelings of melancholy, have all been experienced at the Sunnyvale Toys R Us location. A toy store built on Haunted Land.
Native land is also very often Haunted Land. There are untold numbers of stories of homes and businesses being built on land once inhabited by Native peoples where one can hear drums beating from across The Great Divide, the haunting sounds of chanting from centuries past, babies crying, and the sounds of unseen children playing. Indian Springs, Oklahoma (near Crescent) is such a place. Twenty-first century communities built on Haunted Land.
Maybe YOU know of an instance in which a mid-century business, a modern home, a condo high rise, is haunted not because of what took place inside the current structure but haunted by what transpired on its Haunted Land.
TELL US about it! The readers of this blog would LOVE to hear of YOUR experiences – or what YOU have heard about ‘Haunted Lands’.