miércoles, 6 de octubre de 2010

Franklin Castle

Franklin Castle is an eerie structure of dark and foreboding stone that has long been considered a haunted place by architects and the general public alike. 

There are over thirty rooms in the castle's four stories and the roof is designed in steep gables that give the place its gothic air. Secret passages honeycomb the house and sliding panels hide the doorways to these hidden corridors. There have been an unusual amount of deaths within these walls, including a bloody ax murder once took place and literal skeletons in the closet. The Deputy coroner of Cleveland, Dr. Lester Adelson, who examined the bones shortly after they were found in January 1975, judged them to be of someone who had been dead for a very, very long time. Did they date back to the years of the original owners of the house?
The majority of the ghost stories and legends about the Castle stem from the tenancy of its builders. Whether it is a fair description or not, history has painted Hannes Tiedemann as overbearing and dominating, at best. At worst, as a cruel and temperamental monster of a man, capable of the worst crimes of passion.

A number of murders have been attributed to him for generations, though as far as I can tell he was never formally accused during his lifetime, let alone tried or convicted. Nonetheless, it is considered to be a fact that he was responsible for the deaths of at least two women in his household: his daughter and a servant.  
The accounts of the murders vary, of course. 

According to some, the 15-year-old daughter, Emma, (whose official cause of death is allegedly diabetes) was found hanging in the rafters. Another story has the dead girl being Tiedemann's 13-year-old niece, who was killed for being either promiscuous or insane... which could be synonymous for a teenaged girl in the 1880s. Yet others make her Hannes' illegitimate daughter, Karen. Some say the girl (whichever girl she might be) had been caught in bed with his grandson...

The stories say that the murdered servant girl was either hacked to death with an axe in a front turret window on her wedding day in a fit of Tiedemann jealousy (with the neighbors hearing each whack of the axe from outside), or perhaps she was strangled in her bed when Hannes bound and gagged her upon learning of her engagement to another man and her intention to leave him. 

Another version has him tying her up and gagging her before shooting her to death. Some speculate that you can still hear choking sounds in the room where she was killed, but I haven't heard any other references to such sounds.

The stories also tell of the death of Tiedemann's mother, Weibeka, and of several other young children in the family of various childhood illnesses, though there is always an underlying doubt about natural causes. Some speculate that Tiedemann killed his wife, as well-- with poison-- though it sounds to me like Luise died of liver failure, probably drinking herself to death rather than live with the unpleasant Hannes. 

The hidden passages in the house also hide many legends. At the rear of the house is a trap door that leads to a tunnel that goes nowhere. Another hidden room once contained a liquor still, left over from the Prohibition era. During the 1920’s, the house was allegedly used as a speakeasy and warehouse for illegal liquor. The most gruesome secret uncovered in the house came from another of the hidden rooms. 

Here, an occupant found literally dozens of human baby skeletons. It was suggested that they may have been the victims of a doctor’s botched experiments or even medical specimens, but no one knew for sure. The medical examiner simply stated that they were "old bones". 

When the Romanos moved in, things apparently got weird right away. The stories say that on the first day the family moved in, several of their children (there were five total) went to play on the fourth floor. They returned a while later and told their mother of their new playmate, a little girl who dressed and talked strangely, and who refused to leave the upstairs. They continued to play with the girl for quite a while, but could never get her to come downstairs. 

Meanwhile, Mrs. Romano was apparently developing quite a bond with Mrs. Tiedemann. Both women had five children, including twin boys. They slept in the same room of the house. And perhaps Luise chose Mrs. Romano to be the protector of the house. Mrs. Romano apparently often felt possessed in the house, felt that Luise was using her to keep the house's secrets. She said that the spirits were friendly, protective of her and the children, and that she had made a pact with them to protect the Castle.

A variety of investigators visited the house during the Romanos' stay. A team of researchers from the Northeast Ohio Psychical Research Society visited the house, and in the middle of the investigations one member of the team fled and vowed to never return. A writer saw a strange ectoplasm cloud and felt dizzy to the point of passing out when she approached it. A Catholic priest refused to perform an exorcism, telling the family that he sensed an evil presence, and that the spirits were not to be trusted-- that they were only being friendly to Mrs. Romano until they had her in their grasp-- and that they should move out immediately.

The family did move out after Mrs. Romano's ghostly friend warned her of an impending death in the family... but unfortunately, the move did not prevent it: it happened just as the spirits had warned.

These are the FACTS about the Franklin Castle and its first resident. Everything that you have read about Tiedemann ownership is correct to the best of my knowledge. I'm certain that many aspects of it may seem boring and only interesting to anyone who's really into genealogy and early Cleveland Ohio History, but it is all part of the haunted history, tragedy and life of a fascinating family who arrived in this country as immigrants only to leave an enduring American legacy to succeeding generations... 


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