Thursday, October 12, 2017

The spiritualist life of Otis Plummer

Genealogy can be so much fun, you never know what you’ll discover. I never suspected royalty or fame in my line, but I did hope for some fascinating stories.

Here’s one that’s tied to the afterlife in more ways than one.

The Plummer family was a seafaring group hailing from New England who moved to the southeastern Texas coast in the mid-1800s. The patriarch, Gowen Wilson Plummer, was born in Addison, Maine, his grandfather Moses Plummer Jr., a private in Captain Hall’s detachment with Colonel Benjamin Foster’s Regiment during the American Revolution. According to information gleaned from family trees on Ancestry.com, Moses’s name is inscribed on the bicentennial marker in front of the Old Union Church, which is now Columbia Falls Town Hall.

Gowen Plummer moved to the Louisiana side of the Sabine River, just across from Texas, in the 1830s. Sources claim he ran illegal trade across the Louisiana-Texas border and that he was a gun runner for Sam Houston during the Texas Revolution.

In 1839 he wrote from Perry’s Bridge in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana to his brother in Harrington, Maine (bad punctuation included and editing by me):
           
“Dear Brother, I take this opportunity to correspond with you as it has been very long since we have heard from one another. I have just recovered from a bed of sickness and am very weak and nervous, but I have enjoyed better health in Louisiana than I ever did in Maine. I have worked very hard this summer in Cyprus Swamp which I lay my sickness to, but thank kind heaven I am recovering as fast as time will admit. I have been living in Louisiana for better than a year and this is the first sickness that I have had. This is very fine country and a very easy country to live in…I have been employed since last November building a small vessel of about 30 tons, and in June we lay her by for the planks to season. I expect we will commence her again in November. There has been no one worked on her but myself and the master workman. I expect to own a small part of her when done and intend to run out from the vermilion Bayou to some of the Rivers in Texas.”

Gowen Plummer and Arthemise LaRiviere Ellender in 1842 lived at the Vincent Settlement in Louisiana. They had three sons born in Texas: William, Otis and Jesse and the 1860 census listed Gowen as lighthouse keeper.

During the Civil War, Gowen remained a Union loyalists but after his lighthouse oil was stolen by Confederates, he moved the family back to Maine and returned in the early 1870s when the hostilities ended, living at Bolivar Point, Galveston, Texas. 

Otis S. Plummer may have been born in Texas but he got his sea legs in Maine, sailing at the age of 15 under his father’s tutelage. At 17 he was made captain of a schooner in the New England coast trade at 17. Otis moved to Corpus Christi working for the government, then became the pilot at the Sabine Pass south of Beaumont, Texas. In 1907, along with Captain Peter Brandt, he founded the Sabine Pilots Association for the purpose of guiding ships from the Gulf of Mexico into and out of the harbors of Sabine Pass, Port Arthur and Beaumont, Texas, according to Ancestry.com sources.

So, what does any of this have to do with ghosts, you ask?

Otis Plummer lost a child and when he did so, turned to Spiritualism, “a system of belief or religious practice based on supposed communication with the spirits of the dead, especially through mediums,” according to Webster’s. Spiritualism was popular after the Civil War, reaching its peak of popularity by century’s end.

Otis took a subscription to the Spiritualist weekly newspaper, the Banner of Light, and held séances in his home.

His obit read:

“Mr. Otis S. Plummer, of Harrington [Maine], passed quietly to spirit life from his home at 3 p.m. Wednesday, 24th, after an earthly pilgrimage of 79 years. Mr. Plummer espoused the cause of Spiritualism soon after losing a beloved child. He had remarkably strong magnetic powers, which he was ever ready and willing to exercise as occasion required. He began to take the Banner of Light soon after losing his child, and to have spiritual sittings in his own home, where he conversed with his loved ones that had passed away. He had a sitting by his bedside a few hours before he passed to spirit life. He was not afraid to die, spiritualism giving consolation.

“Mr. Plummer was universally respected by all who knew him. He was an esteemed friend, a loved companion, a kind and tender father, and one who held the respect of all, as was evident by the character of the people who came to pay their last respects at his funeral. The services were held at his own home, under the Masonic order. The floral offerings were very beautiful. The remains reposed calm and peaceful in the change that awaits us all. He leaves a wife, five sons and two daughters to mourn their loss, and who expect to meet him across the river.”

Otis’s brother, Captain William Henry Plummer, was the Sabine Pass Lighthouse keeper in 1900 when on Sept. 8 a fierce hurricane slammed into Galveston. William saved approximately 156 lives during the storm and he was awarded a Life-Saving Medal by the Secretary of the Treasury on May 28, 1903.

Here’s what the Washington Post reported:

“The Secretary of the Treasury yesterday forwarded to Capt. W. H. Plummer, now at Willbridge, Me., a gold life-saving medal … in recognition of this heroic conduct in saving and assisting to save a very large number of persons from drowning during the memorable hurricane of September 8, 1900 at Galveston, Tex. Plummer, it is stated, rescued and delivered to places of safety upward of 156 men, women and children. In closing his letter, which accompanied the medal the Secretary says:
           
“If would be difficult to exaggerate the merits of your services. You acted entirely of your own mention, under no compulsion from any source except your own commanding sense of humanity; you neglected your own property, and gave up the work of rescue only when your boat was so disabled that you were compelled to abandon it and swim to a place of refuge. Your conduct was of the highest order and deserves the highest recognition. That is afforded by the accompanying medal, which is authorized by law to be bestowed only upon those who perform, at the jeopardy of their own lives, deeds of the most extreme and heroic daring in saving others from the perils of the sea.”

Otis’s other brother, “Cott” Plummer, made newspapers in 1910 when he captured a sperm whale off the Texas coast and brought the massive leviathon to Orange, Texas, for the world to see.

Haunted Deep South is written by travel writer Cheré Coen, author of Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana by The History Press. She writes the Viola Valentine paranormal mystery series under the pen name of Cherie Claire.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Opelousas to offer living history cemetery tours


Follow the folks who used to live in Opelousas, Louisiana — a long time ago! — at the annual St. Landry Catholic Church Cemetery Tours held annually in Louisiana’s third oldest city. 

This year’s theme is “Leaders and Legends,” and tour guides will offer voices from the past on the one-hour tour of St. Landry Catholic Church Cemetery in the heart of Opelousas. Tours sponsored by St. Landry Catholic Church Parish and Opelousas Little Theatre are 6 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 7 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays, Oct. 14 and 21, and 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Sundays, Oct. 15 and 22. 

Cost is $10 per person, and attendance will be limited to groups of 15 (please wear walking shoes). General tours are not handicapped accessible but special tours will be available for the handicapped at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 15 and 22. For safety reasons, there will be no young children under 10 years old on the tours. For more information, call (337) 942-6552 or (337) 308-3474.
  
Proceeds from the tours will be used for historical grave restoration.




Haunted Deep South is written by travel writer Cheré Coen, author of "Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana" by The History Press. Cheré also writes paranormal mysteries under the pen name of Cherie Claire.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Celebrate October with chocolate, books and ghosts!

Do you love a good read? How about a spooky one? It's the Halloween Month of Treats Giveaway every day through the month of October where every day, Oct. 1-31, lucky winners will receive free books, chocolates and much more. 

What are we talking about? A paranormal romance and gift set of Godiva chocolate cookies. A romantic comedy and a box 60 Lindor truffles. Steamy romance, romantic suspense, urban fantasy, paranormal Viola Valentine mysteries by Cherie Claire (that's me)…We’ve got the goodies to hand out. It’s trick or treat time!

Enter to Win here. No purchase necessary. 

This Giveaway is Sponsored by
Alex Gordon • Amanda Uhl • Angelica Kate • Astrid Arditi • Bethany Strobel • Bianca D'Arc • Cailin Briste • Cherie Claire • Christa Paige • Crystal Dawn • Emme Rollins
Greta Boris • Holly Cortelyou • Hope Worthington • Jacqueline Diamond • Joanne Dannon • Julie Mulhern • Karen Michelle Nutt • Lia Davis • Lila Dubois • Lisanne Harrington • Louisa Clarkson • Mia Woods • N.D. Jones • Nancy Segovia • Naomi Bellina • Patricia Burroughs • PG Forte • Rachel Shane • Rose Chapman • Sandra Marton • Scarlett Dawn • Selena Kitt • Shaniel Watson • Sorchia DuBois • Stephanie Julian • T.F. Walsh • Traci Highland • Vella Day • Veronica Blake • Viola Estrella

Haunted Deep South is written by travel writer Cheré Coen, author of "Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana" by The History Press. Cheré also writes paranormal mysteries under the pen name of Cherie Claire and she will be giving away copies of "Ghost Town" on Oct. 21.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

More Southern spooky events to get you in the mood

Crescent Hotel Ghost Tours, Eureka Springs
Mobile, Alabama: Boo at Bellingrath, a day of Halloween fun in the Gardens, will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28. In addition to numerous treat stations throughout the Gardens, there will be musical entertainment on Live Oak Plaza with the Stereo Dogs, Magic Shows and Magic Balloons with Dr. Gee and Spooky Storytime in the Gazebo Garden with the friends from the Mobile Public Library. Tickets are limited and must be purchased in advance. To order, visit bellingrath.org.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas: America’s Most Haunted Hotel, the Crescent Hotel, built in 1886 and perched on a hilltop overlooking the town offers ghost tours which starts at the top floor of the building and works its way down to the basement, where you’ll find the morgue of the notorious Dr. Baker from the building’s years as a cancer hospital. Tours are scheduled nightly in October from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., and until 11 p.m. on Oct. 31. Buy tickets at www.AmericasMostHauntedHotel.com.

Basin Spirit Tours at Basin Park Hotel in the heart of downtown are given at 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday with an additional 6 p.m. tour on Fridays and Saturdays throughout October. This guided ghost hunt starts on the roof of the eight-story hotel and proceeds in stages to an underground cave. It ends with a chilling ghost story told by candlelight, plus a sample of spirits of a different kind for those 21 years of age and older. For more information, visit www.SpiritsOfTheBasin.com.

Other Eureka Springs tours include Voices of the Silent City from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 19, 20, 21, 27 and 28 and the Haunted Eureka tours every night of October.

For more information on things to do and places to stay, visit www.EurekaSprings.org.

Montgomery, Alabama: October Museum Make & Take: Day of the Dead Masks from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday in the Hands-On Gallery of the Museum of Alabama. Learn about the Hispanic holiday Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, and make your own mask to take home.

New Orleans, Louisiana: Historic Arnaud’s Restaurant, in partnership with The Murder Mystery Co., presents a mystery dinner experience where guests will help solve the perfect crime at 6:45 p.m. Thursday, October 26, at the restaurant at 813 Bienville St. in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Attendees will enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, followed by a four-course menu of Arnaud’s signature cuisine, all while working together to solve the perfect crime. The dinner menu will feature chilled lobster, duck consommé, filet mignon and a dark chocolate mousse cake. The menu will be complemented with two specialty cocktails, including the Miss Scarlet, a bourbon based concoction, and Professor Plum, featuring gin – both a nod to Clue, the classic detective game. Tickets are $125 per person (inclusive of tax and gratuity). Reservations are required and available by calling Arnaud’s at (504) 523-5433. Limited seating is available. For more information, visit www.arnaudsrestaurant.com.

Lafayette, Louisiana: The city’s parks and recreation department will host a Fall Fun Fest from 6-8 p.m. Friday, October 27, at the Girard Park Pavilion at 500 Girard Park Drive. The event is open to all children 12 and under and their parents and will include ghoulish games, freaky fun, costume parade, hay rides and frightening food. For more Information: (337) 291-8370 and (337) 291-8875.

Halloween Tapas & Tasting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 25, at Charley G’s in Lafayette. The dinner includes three-course tapas paired with three wines for $45 per person, all inclusive.

Vermilionville's Em LaMieux helps you get ready for All Saints' Day or La Toussaint, Nov. 1. All Saints' Day is a Catholic tradition of the Acadian people where they place wax flowers on the graves of loved ones to honor their memory. LaMieux will host Wax Demonstrations from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays in October at the historic Lafayette village.  

Brasstown, North Carolina: Folk School Fall Festival will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 7-8 at the John C. Campbell Folk School. Festivalgoers will meander along tree-lined paths, greeting over 250 local and regional artisans displaying their work for sale. Shoppers will enjoy a wide selection of craft items including wood, fiber, jewelry, basketry, glass, clay, photography, metal, book arts, painting, garden art, and more! 

Haunted Deep South is written by travel writer Cheré Coen, author of Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana by The History Press. She writes the Viola Valentine paranormal mystery series under the pen name of Cherie Claire.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Southern ways to get down and spooky: A list of creepy happenings this month in the Deep South

Looking for some chilling events this October? The South is filled with lots of ways to get your spook on. Here are a few:

Eureka Springs, Arkansas: Voices from the Silent City Cemetery Tour will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 19-21 and Oct. 27-28 at the Eureka Spring Municipal Cemetery. Meet some of Eureka's colorful "passed" residents that helped shape the quirky little town.

Then on Oct. 28, it’s the Eureka Springs Zombie Crawl, where a creeping parade procession of funeral hearses, doomsday vehicles, Halloween floats, and post-mortem street performers will lead the hungry horde of the undead down historic Spring Street.  

South Louisiana: Houmas House Plantation and Gardens will offer haunted tours at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. nightly through the month of October. Hear about the sightings and interactions guests and staff have had with the ghosts of the historic house. Tour guides will also explain the culture and customs of the Antebellum and Victorian eras while pointing out the original artwork and antiques throughout the mansion. And after touring the mansion, guests are allowed to roam the 38 acres of gardens along lighted pathways. Check out the video here.

Banning Mills, Georgia: This historic attraction 45 minutes west of Atlanta will offer Spooks for Screams, an adrenaline-filled experience with a zip line tour that reaches speeds up to 60 mph. Banning Mills is home to the world’s longest continuous eco-canopy zip line.   

Shreveport, Louisiana: The city’s Artspace presents “Get Your Glitter On!” from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Oct. 13, a fundraiser hosted by the Shreveport Regional Arts Council with Halloween magic created by award-winning filmmaker, artist and author William Joyce. There’s the InGraved Exhibition and Best in Show Awards at 6 p.m., followed the “First & Only 2017 Glitter Zombie Apocalyse Ball” at 7 p.m. and the Scare-e-okie at 8:30 p.m. Admission is $10 and “only the undead don’t come in costume.” InGraved exhibit consists of visual, literary and performance work by more than 50 Northwest Louisiana artists’ who toured the 100-year-old Forest Park Cemetery with historian John Andrew Prime. The exhibit runs through Nov. 4. For ticket, click here.

New Orleans: The Historic New Orleans Collection will resurrect the special Halloween-themed tour of its Louisiana History Galleries for one week only, Oct. 24–31. “Danse Macabre: The Nightmare of History” will be available at 11 a.m. Tuesday–Sunday inside THNOC’s flagship building at 533 Royal St. in the French Quarter of New Orleans. In medieval allegory, “la danse macabre,” or the dance of death, is a ritualized march to the grave—a sober reminder of life’s finality cloaked in wicked mirth. In a similar spirit, THNOC’s “Danse Macabre: The Nightmare of History,” will lead visitors through darker aspects of New Orleans lore. Admission is $5 or free for THNOC members. Please note: this is not a walking tour of New Orleans or the French Quarter, and the tours are not intended for children under the age of 13. Please note THNOC is traditionally closed on Mondays, and tours will not be available on Monday, Oct 30.

Also in the Crescent City: haunted tours, voodoo shops, Boo at the Zoo, Krewe of Boo, street parties and the Voodoo Music and Arts Experience will be happening this month.  View all the activities here.
  
Blue Ridge, Georgia: Fright Nights at the Kiwanis Fairgrounds, where lurks a suspicious and malign history that is difficult to explain, will be Oct 19-21 and Oct. 26-28 at 124 Jones St. Organizers claim Old Man Jones owned most of this section of Blue Ridge in the late 1800s and suffered more personal tragedy than many realized. In keeping with the fashion of the day, these "happenings" were not public knowledge and were never published in local papers. Not appropriate for ages under 13, along with those who have heart conditions, high blood pressure, pregnant, etc.


Want more? Check back for updates.

Haunted Deep South is written by travel writer Cheré Coen, author of Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana by The History Press.