Saturday, February 2, 2013

Mass Sighting At Haunted Asylum

I watched an episode of Ghost Hunters recently, which I almost never do anymore, and was actually quite impressed. No, not by their investigation--never that. I was impressed by the haunted history and, in particular, the reported mass sighting of a ghost that occurred.

The gang ventured to Bartonville, IL to investigate the Illinois Asylum for the Incurable Insane--aka the Peoria Asylum--a massive, rambling structure that opened its doors in 1902 under the auspices of Dr. George Zeller.

It is said that in his memoir, Zeller wrote of an old patient-cum-staff member by the name of Manuel A. Bookbinder who worked burial detail for years. I haven't read this memoir, but supposedly whenever "Old Book" (as they called him) buried someone he would weep openly; it affected him that much. It was a testament to his humanity and one of the reasons he was so beloved by the staff and patients. When Bookbinder himself passed on, over a hundred people gathered for his funeral, including Zeller. To their shock, the attendees heard a familiar wailing and looked up in horror to see Bookbinder leaning against a nearby elm, prostrate with grief--at his own funeral.

That this event was witnessed by over a hundred individuals, many of whom were professional, sober-minded men and women of science struck me as fascinating. To be honest, I'm surprised I had never heard of this tale before. So, I thank the folks at TAPS for that.

On a side note, I would like to say that the first few minutes of a Ghost Hunters episode are always my favorite: the history, the hauntings, the legends...the story. The process of investigating, as anyone who has done it knows, can be incredibly tedious, which forces the production staff to make it sexier. We end up with all these "What was that?!" and "Did you hear that?!" and jump-cuts to someone's freak out expression. I think if they edited this show differently, interspersing, the history and myths and prior evidence throughout the episode, it might be more watchable for me. As it stands, I tune in for the history of the place (assuming it's a place I find interesting) and then I wait for the reveal to hear the EVPs and watch what specter they might have captured on (always, ever always) their FLIR camera.

1 comment:

Little Gothic Horrors said...

We don't get all these paranormal investigation shows that you seem to have in the US. Well, maybe we do, but they're probably on cable, so I've never seen them. The general impression I've been getting is that they're a source of mirth, but I imagine the histories, like this asylum story, are fascinating.