Strange Lives

Encore: John Van Valkenburg and His Mysterious Wonderplane

In 1917 John Van Valkenburg, a Salt Lake City inventor, announced that he had conquered the laws of gravity and had an aircraft that could fly from Salt Lake City to the Pacific Coast and back in a night. It was reported that he had taken it to Washington and then turned it over to the US government for use in the War effort. Then, suddenly, Van Valkenburg found himself on trial.

The Poear Dear and the Wicked Woman: A Suffolk Witch Story

A Suffolk witch story from 1877, involving a spell meant to be cast on a man, but transfered to his wife, who suffered for years under the bewitchment. In a series of ill-spelt letters, the witch confesses and suggests a transfer of the spell to its rightful owner.

Hearts and Powers: Cardiac Witchery

In this Valentine’s week, let us take the pulse of early 20th-century witchcraft and look at the power of the heart in enchantments. The hearts of lambs, moles, and humans–all had mystic powers.

Abby Warner’s Christmas Rappings

Christmas Eve at St. Timothy’s Church in Massillon, Ohio was anything but a silent night when “rapping medium” Abby Warner and her friends came to admire the Christmas decorations.

Leeches, Radium, and a Corpse in a Box: Strange Christmas Presents of the Past

Looking for inspiration for truly memorable holiday presents? Turn to the past for gifts they’ll never forget–like radium particles, a dismembered corpse, a hamper of poisonous snakes, and strips of human skin.

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