Skip to main content


Showing posts from July, 2017

The Legend of 'The Fatal Sisters'

In the days before the Civil War, the De Coucy family name known all throughout Louisiana. It was a name synonymous with wealth and influence, and it was a De Coucy who owned the famous Magnolia Plantation (not to be confused with the plantation in Natchitoches Parish of the same name) along with two other sugar plantations of considerable size not far from the city of Opelousas.

According to Louisiana legend, De Coucy was young, wealthy and full of lust when he decided to take for a mistress the favorite grandchild of Marie Lavon, the infamous Voodoo priestess who died in 1880. She became enraged when she learned that her black granddaughter had entered into a salacious relationship with a wealthy white man like De Coucy, and-- as Voodoo priestesses are wont to do-- she placed a curse on the plantation owner.

The voodoo queen's curse was of the standard variety; he would have no male heirs and the family name would end with his children. De Coucy laughed when he learned about the…

The Tragic Death of a Vaudeville Midget

May 9, 1911, is a date that has gone down in infamy in the storied and colorful history of vaudeville. It was on this date Edinburgh's Empire Palace Theatre was ravaged by a fire that began on stage during the finale of a variety show, killing several performers. Among the dead were the famed magician, "The Great Lafayette", and a half dozen members of his troupe, including Alice Dale and Joe Coates-- two midget performers.

The fire started in the jumbled mass of stage scenery used in the finale of Lafayette's performance (according to one account, the famed magician traveled with 22 tons of props, costumes and scenery). It was a spectacular display of military pageantry, with the magician dressed up as the great British hero Field Marshal Frederick Sleigh Roberts on horseback. While nobody knows what started the fire (some historians believe it was a Chinese lantern on the stage, while one witness claimed that it was an oil lamp suspended from the ceiling), the sur…

The Legend of Dead Man's Shadow

Langsville, in south central Ohio, is a quiet, lonesome place with a spooky legend-- the legend of "Dead Man's Shadow".

According to this legend, which dates back to the early 1920s, the body of a man who was struck and killed by a speeding automobile was laid onto the sidewalk until help arrived. But help came a little to late for the dying man, who left behind his shadow as an eternal, ghastly reminder of his tragic fate.

Many cities and towns across America have similar legends but, according to our research, this is the earliest example of a "dead man's shadow" legend. The following excerpt comes from the September 12, 1935 edition of the Times-Independent of Moab, Utah.

Human Mummy Confection: Debunking the Myth of the Mellified Man

Few mythical medical substances are as shrouded in mystery as mellified man, also known as human mummy confection. According to legend, elderly males from Arabia would ingest nothing but copious amounts of honey until they began sweating and defecating the sugary substance. They would even bathe in honey (which gives an entirely new meaning to "golden showers").
After death, the bodies of these men would be placed in a honey-filled stone vault until the mummification process was complete.

This is just half the story, of course. After a century or more marinading in honey, the body would transform into a candy with miraculous healing powers. It has been written that munching on this human candy had the ability to immediately restore broken and deformed limbs.

While the legend of the mellified man has become a fixture of Arabian lore, it was the Chinese who first wrote of human mummy confection. The oldest mention of mellified man comes from Li Shizhen's 1596 materia medica…

Headless corpses can do interesting things

In 1901, a military exercise went horribly wrong at Fort Riley in Junction City, Kansas. Private Henry Watson was loading a 107-pound shell into a cannon when it exploded, instantly removing his head from the rest of his body. Interestingly, Watson's body remained on its feet for a full fifteen seconds before falling over.