Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Halloween Honey's Summer Road Trip

This is all a very hypothetical post.  While two of these locations are within my great state of Minnesota, real life responsibilities often get in the way of fun.  Stupid real life.  However, since it is Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer, if life worked out exactly the way I wanted it to, this is what I would do this summer.

Road Trip!  Or, more accurately, weekend trip!  Last week my friend Karen planted the seed in my brain that us girls should take a road trip to the Villisca Axe Murder house in Iowa.  It is approximately six hours from the Twin Cities area and a very do-able trip.  We have birthdays about a week apart from each other in June and I suggest it we do it to celebrate our birthdays, but then, Karen came across some information that made her think she missed the boat on visiting this creepily historic location.  Apparently, the owner is newly widowed, and decided she no longer wanted to own the property, so it goes up for public auction on June 2nd!  Oh no!  What if the new owners decided to make it a private residence and raise their young family there?!  Highly unlikely.  None the less, it lit a fire under our bums to make us want to go there even more, hopefully, our wish to go there in June will be fulfilled.  But the idea of road-tripping to Iowa (What do you call a 100 John Deere tractors in Iowa circling a Dairy Queen on a Saturday night?  Prom.  HA!  Minnesotans love/hate all our neighboring states, we kinda think we are better than the rest of them.  What do you call a pretty girl in Iowa?  A tourist.  What does Iowa stand for?  Idiots Out Wandering Around....okay, I'm done.) made me want to be sure to see all the haunted/infamous for horrible reasons locations in the Midwest before they too are sold at public auction.

Aside from Villisca (What do call a pig on a tractor in the mud in Iowa? State Fair.) there are two locations I really want to try and visit this summer, and if I can spread all these locations out over the three official "summer months" June, July, August, I can totally do it!  First up is a location I have already been to!  But I was five and didn't care at. all.  I just remember the tour guide gave us candy at the end of the tour and that was the best thing evah!  I got Smarties!

Te Glensheen Historic Estate:

Located in beautiful Duluth, MN this historical 39-room mansion was build by lawyer Chester Adgate Congdon, who was originally from Rochester, NY in 1908.  Even though Congdon came to Duluth as an attorney he came to be a huge influence in the iron and copper industries in the area.  When he passed the mansion was left in the hands of his daughters Elisabeth and Helen.  By the time Elisabeth was 35 years old she found herself unmarried with no children.  She decided to open her home and heart to two adopted daughters, Jennifer Johnson and Marjorie Congdon.  Marjorie was....not a well girl.  She was considered the black sheep of the family and constantly asking her mother for money.  She was even officially diagnosed as a sociopath in the early 1940's, but since we all know how well the mentally ill were treated in those days no actions were taken to improve her condition and no mention of her affliction was ever made.

Marjorie went off into the world on her own, married, and had seven children of her own, whom she spoiled with the majority of the spoils coming from her mother Elisabeth.  After things went south with her first husband Marjorie remarried Roger Caldwell, and began to beg her mother for money even more than usually.

On June 27, 1977 at the age of 83 Elisabeth Congdon was found smothered to death by a satin pillow in her bedroom.  He night nurse, Velma Pietila was found on the window seat bludgeoned to death by a candlestick.  It seems she was trying to protect her patient from the assailant.

After much drama and a long trial Roger Caldwell was eventually found guilty of murdering his mother-in-law and her nurse, and Marjorie was was tried with aiding and a bedding but was found not guilty. Marjorie and Roger stood to inherit 8 million dollars.  The pair claimed Elisabeth was refusing to give them the money before she passed.  They wanted to money so they could open a horse ranch.

In 1988 Roger Caldwell committed suicide after his sentence was overturned and converted to a lighter sentence.  In his suicide note he claimed he did not kill Elisabeth Congdon and Velma Pietila.

Marjorie has gone on to live (she's still alive) a life of crime and general craziness.  She was convicted of arson, twice.  In fact, in Arizona, where she lived after her first arson conviction in Minnesota, she was found guilty of 11 counts of arson.  She was accused of killing not only her third husband, but also his previous wife via poisonous marmalade!  She's out now, of course, and as recent of 2010 has been accused of trying to bilk fellow senior citizens out of money through internet fraud.  So, she has adapted to 21st century technology when it comes to being a bad person.

I have been to the Congdon Mansion, officially called the Glensheen Historic Estate (which is now owned by the University of Minnesota Duluth) but like I said, I was about five years old when I was there and was BO-RED the entire tour.  The house was old and musty, the tour guide was old and musty and I heard Mom and Dad whispering about a murder or some such, but the guide played stupid whenever anyone would ask him about this.  Even when I was five I wanted to hear all the salacious details.  I would love the opportunity to go back now that I am older and appreciate things like...old musty houses and people.  Plus, my sister Cori was there only a few summers ago and she says the hype the hell out of it being the "murder house."  They even bring you into the room where it happened.  Aw, way to go, Duluth.  Finally realizing that is the main reason people go there.

As far as investigations at the Glensheen Mansion, I have never heard.  Of course the possibility of it being haunted is high.  Two gruesome murders of two well-liked, kind-hearted women motivated by greed is pretty much a perfect recipe for trapped spirits and high paranormal energy.  Minnesota Ghost Hunters: Has there ever been an investigation at the Glensheen Mansion?  I can't imagine it would be very easy to get any kind of permission from the U of M to get in there at night alone with your group.  Plus, 39 rooms is a lot of ground to cover, but I think there are a few groups in Minnesota that would love to tackle it.

The second location I would love to visit would be The Palmer House in Sauke Centre, MN. I don't know much about this location, but I know it is in high demand with paranormal investigators.  So much so The Palmer house has the luxury of charging paranormal investigation groups to get in there and snoop around.  Sauke Centre, however, oh, I know me some Sauke Centre.  It is one of those towns that falls into the category of "Up Home."  Sauke Centre, St. Joe, Avon, Melrose, Grey Eagle, Spring Hill, all these little towns just north of St. Cloud  I have relatives sprinkled throughout all these small little towns.  My Grandma grew up mainly in Melrose (population, 300-something) and now refers to all of these locations as "up home." She has my entire life and it will always be that way.  In fact, my great-grandmother was in a nursing home in Sauke Centre and passed away there at the age of 94 in the mid-2000's.  You can't kill those hard-headed German women, I tell you.

Unlike Glensheen, The Palmer House plays up it's paranormal reputation.  They host past life regression sessions, psychic readings, and, like I mentioned earlier, paranormal groups chomping at the bit to get in there for a little looksy.  Again, unlike Glensheen, The Palmer House has been featured in quite a few media outlets, TV, books, even Minnesota's own Darkness Radio.  In fact when the Ghost Adventures crew was in Minnesota a few weeks ago conducting a lockdown, I have a pretty good theory they were at The Palmer House.  Mostly because Zak Bagan's tweeted pictures of himself grocery shopping at a Coborn's and all Minnesotans know Coborn's only exist Up Home.  Well, I have a Coborn's about two miles up the road from my does that mean I live up home?  Anoka is considered a part of the Twin Cities...whatever, it's handy when I want ice cream and don't want to change out of my comfy pants.  Who am I kidding?  I go to Target in my comfy pants.

So my road map is laid out before me!  The easiest location for me to go to will probably be The Palmer House.  I'm actually going Up Home for a family reunion next month!  It's not in Sauke Centre, though, it's at some chicken farm in a town I've never heard of, but...well, I'm pretty excited about the chickens.  I once went to a bridal shower on a pig farm!  But, Sauke Centre is probably an hour and twenty minutes tops away from my house, Duluth maybe two hours.  Villisca is the furthest, therefore going to be the trickiest to make happen since my main responsibility, my 18 month daughter, can't be dropped off at the YMCA daycare so I can work out for 45 minutes without freaking out.  That may be an exaggeration.  She does well at grandparents' houses.  It's not like I would leave her at the Y daycare for 12 hours.

Anyways, as it is in summer in Minnesota there is a thunderstorm a' brewin' outside right now and it's making me nervous because I don't like scary weather all that much, so I'm going to go now.

Thanks for going on my hypothetical roadtrip with me, friends!  Let's all go!



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