Archive for the ‘history’ Category

Paulen Road House

South of Topeka, Kansas there once stood a three story limestone house on the corner of 93rd and Paulen Road. As many ghost hunting enthusiasts know there are scary stories surrounding the old house that was the target of vandals and wanna-be Satanists. When I was there with my best friend years ago we took pictures, but were unable to gain entrance as it was boarded up. The cellar steps were caving in, so we could not check out the supposed cistern rumored to be connected by tunnel to Stull Cemetery near Lawrence. The outside of the limestone house built between 1870-1890 was covered with graffiti. The creek out back was dried up, the bridge collapsed. The carriage house was long gone.

As the ghost story goes, there was a fourteen year old girl living there with her parents around the turn of the twentieth century who wanted more excitement out of life than her religious parents would allow. One night during a rain storm she took her father’s white stallion to town and met up with a secret boyfriend or rapist. The story varies regarding the sexual encounter being voluntary. The story also implies the man was either Mexican or Indian. When it was apparent that the girl was pregnant her parents locked her in the attic (where a pentacle would be painted years later) until the baby was born. The mother was disgusted when the infant appeared to be a half-breed and she took it down to the creek and drowned it. The girl then hung herself in the attic. People in the area have claimed to see the ghostly images of the girl riding to town on the white horse on stormy nights for decades.

I was curious to know if the ghost story had any basis in truth, so I researched the family that has owned the property for over a hundred years. Mr. William H. Coultis and his wife, Mercy (Buckman) lived on the property at least since 1892 and were very high profile with two children, Will and Lilly. Will Coultis moved to Richland where he raised his family. Lilly never married and she is the focus of my research since she was the only daughter, born April 6, 1893.

The Coultis family was very active in the community being members of the Highland Park Grange and Highland Park Methodist Episcopal Church. Lilly would also belong to the Berryton Grange. The Coultis family had frequent visitors to their farm that stayed for days, young men, women and couples. People camped near the creek and picnicked on the property or stayed as house guests. As an interesting sideline, W.H. Coultis had a ghostly encounter as recorded in the Topeka State Journal December 4, 1895:

A Gloomy Prairie

W.H. Coultis encountered a stranger near where a young man was murdered, Edward Illston. Last at night coming home from Topeka. He lived near Richland/Berryton. Believed due to his community standing

Every lifestyle aspect of the Coultis family was chronicled in the Topeka State Journal. At no time did Lilly leave the area long enough to have a child. Mercy and Lilly spent two months in Ohio and Indiana visiting relatives as mentioned in the newspaper of June 30, 1917. This was the longest period that Lilly was not in the area. The photographs of the Coultis family indicate the women in the family were slender and could hardly have hid an unwanted pregnancy.

Lilly Coultis was extremely active in church and community activities as were her parents who were always in the spotlight. Her father ran for the state senate in 1896. By 1916 Lilly was living at 2514 Maryland Avenue in Topeka with her parents. It is not certain who was living on the Paulen Road farm at this time.

The 1905 Census for Monmouth Township, Shawnee County KS also named.  Frances Burgert, age sixteen as living in the household who could possibly be a servant and might be a candidate for the rebellious girl of legend. Another candidate might be, Christina E. Prinslow, age 18 listed in the 1900 Census.

The closest towns at the turn of the century were Berryton and Richland where the girl could have ridden for a night of excitement. Again, with the constant houseguests and church groups camping on the property it is difficult imaging that no one would notice a young woman held captive in the attic or screaming as her mother drowned a newborn in the nearby creek. Whoever the ghost story is based on it could not be the Coultis family that owned the property.

The Topeka State Journal on December 28, 1906 ran a story about two men from the area being caught sexually assaulting their daughters.

Charles Ryder, of Berryton, and Jas. Morris, two brutes who were convicted of assault upon their little daughters, will be kept from further crimes for a period of from five to twenty-one years. Morris’ crime was such a shock to his wife, who at that time was ill at the hospital that she has since gone Insane.

Most legends are stimulated by some true event and I am sure the Paulen Road ghost is no exception. The above article demonstrates that shady characters were indeed in the area and someone could easily have assaulted a young girl who had gone to town without supervision. I could find no mention of servants or staff at the Coultis farm, but more than likely the Coultis family had employees with children at some point. We will probably never know the reality behind the old ghost story, but the answers are awaiting discovery somewhere.

Coultis family 1894. Lilly is the child on the chair.  Mercy is the second woman standing from the left. William H. is the man just right of the carriage house doorway.

Coultis family 1894 2

 

 

Children have been hearing about the Pied Piper for 725 years, but who was he and where did the children go? Historians agree that some event did happen in Hamelin, Germany in 1284 that involved the disappearance of the town’s children. What is not clear is what actually happened.

The typical story states that a man dressed in colorful clothing showed up in the rat infested town of Hamelin and offered to rid the town of rats for a fee. The town was desperate and hired him. The man played a flute and the vermin followed him out of Hamelin into the Weser River where they drowned. The story would have ended there if the townsmen had just paid him; however, they backed out and in retaliation the Pied Piper again played his flute and the children followed him doing strange jerky movements out of town. There was a deaf child and a crippled child left behind.

A nanny followed the group and stated that one half went into the woods and the other to the right into a cave in the Weser Mountains. The townspeople went to investigate and found body parts hung from the trees in the forest. There was no sign of the children in the cave, which did not have an exit.

The earliest known reference to the story was a stained glass window in the local Market church depicting the Pied Piper that was created in 1300 and was destroyed by fire in 1600. The original tale did not mention rats, but was added in the sixteenth century. So what really occurred in Hamelin, Germany in 1284?

The Pied Piper’s name suggests two theories. One he was poor and wore patched clothes or he was a King’s representative dressed in official garb. In either case he could have been recruiting for either a crusade or trying to convince people to settle Eastern Europe. The term, “children” could refer to people in general and not just minors. Some believe that people from Hamelin settled in Romania and may be the origin of the gypsy (Roma) clans. Others think if the Piper was gathering children for a crusade to the Holy Land the children did not make it back home. This is quite possible as crusades took years and cost many lives before ever arriving in the Holy Land.

One of the disturbing aspects of the tale is the strange, jerky movements the children did as they walked out of town. Disease or nervous disorders have been suggested, but how could all the children experience it at once?  Did they display such odd behavior before the Piper showed up? Or did the sound of the flute actually trigger that response? Few details of the incident actually survive, so any ideas are pure speculation. It could be that the Piper taught the children a dance of sorts prior to leading them out of town, but to what end?

Another suggestion is that a pedophile kidnapped the children and murdered them in the woods, dismembering them and decorating the trees with body parts. More than likely there were serial killers in medieval Germany, so that cannot be ruled out on the face of it. If that is true, then who lead the other group to the cave? If the music kept the children hypnotized, then why did the cave group not wake up and run back to town? Does this indicate the Piper had a partner?

Throughout history there are stories of caves or openings in mountains that seal up once people enter, such as in the French Pyrenees. The Nazis had many hidden bases in mountains that have not been discovered like the money train in Poland recently revealed. It makes no sense that children could enter a cave and just disappear. There must have been a secret exit in existence at that time that the townspeople did not find.

Or the nanny was not telling the truth about a second group climbing up to the cave. What reason did she have to lie? Could she have known the Piper before he arrived in Hamelin or become acquainted with him while he was there? A young woman with a bleak future might well be infatuated with an intriguing stranger spinning who knows what yarns to impress the locals. She might have been talked into doing anything, including kidnapping and murder.

If the Pied Piper were a King’s messenger recruiting volunteers to settle Eastern Europe, then there is no big mystery to the story. Some villagers simply decided to pick up and immigrate to Romania or Hungry for a better life or more land. Family members remaining behind may have started the story describing the smooth talk of the man who lured loved ones away. The same could be said for a Children’s Crusade.

Two issues remain: the strange jerky movements of the children as they followed the man playing a flute. Such a detail is not likely to be invented, but something actually witnessed. One theory suggests that the townspeople paid the man to get rid of diseased and disabled children, which is plausible with the plague and other contagious diseases running rampant. The colorful clothes the Piper wore might have been patches because he was poverty stricken and desperate to make money however necessary. He might have had some disability of his own as medieval minstrels often were blind or crippled and had no other way to earn a living aPied_piperside from music. The jerky movements could have been the way the Piper moved and the children simply copied him.

The second issue is the body parts hung from the trees. If this really occurred then the Piper may well have been a sadistic serial killer that preyed on unwanted or orphaned children. There are not many other explanations for this situation, if true.

The picture depicts a painting copied from the Market Church stained glass window  before its destruction in 1600 AD.  Clearly, both the forest and cave are illustrated. The stained glass window was created just sixteen years after the incident and thus should be based on memory. The story of the Pied Piper is a fascinating one that mostly likely will never be fully explained unless some hidden diary comes to light.

The Lindbergh Kidnapping-The Folly of Hero Worship

One of the most infamous criminal cases in the United States began in New Jersey on March 1, 1932 when the two year old son of aviator Charles Lindbergh was taken from his nursery at the family estate called, Hopewell.  The nursery was on the second floor of the mansion with entry gained by a ladder leaned against the house. The kidnappers left a note on the window sill demanding $50,000 in exchange for the child. A strange emblem consisting of three interlocked circles served as the signature. Eventually an illegal German immigrant named Bruno Richard Hauptmann was executed for the kidnap and murder of the child.

This sounds like a typical kidnapping gone bad, however, it is far from it. The fiasco that was the Lindbergh Kidnapping case would never happen today. The suspect would have been promptly detected and apprehended regardless of his celebrity status. But it was 1932 and Charles Lindbergh was the darling of America, one above reproach much less suspicion. The police played a secondary role in the investigation with Lindbergh heading up the case and making all decisions. You might ask what does flying an airplane over the Atlantic have to do with criminal investigation, the answer, of course, is absolutely nothing, but Lindbergh directed every aspect of the case with law enforcement taking a back seat.

The kidnapper’s note was full of mistakes that no actual German would make. I am a translator of French, German and Dutch to English and the first thing I noticed was how hard the writer was trying to appear “German”.  The writer attempted to write like a German speaking English, which is ridiculous. Germans writing English know correct spelling, which is unrelated to difficulties in pronouncing certain English sounds.

The first odd thing Lindbergh did was to contact underworld types and distribute the ransom letter to supposedly discover the identity of the kidnappers.  This resulted in numerous copies of the letter spread about so that anyone who desired could extort the Lindbergh family since dozens, if not hundreds, of people now knew the unique signature of the kidnappers.

The second act was to advertise in the newspapers for intermediaries between Lindbergh and the kidnappers. Why this was necessary is open to debate, but was not something the police approved; and then enters Jafsie, otherwise known as Dr. John F. Condon who offered to barter the transactions between the Lone Eagle (a Lindbergh nickname) and the unknown kidnappers.   Jafsie was the moniker he invented to intercede with the criminals holding the baby. He was basically a con man who enjoyed the sound of his own voice and who initially did not identify Bruno Richard Hauptman as the man in the cemetery who is known to history as “Cemetery John”.  The man in the cemetery was to collect the ransom money from Condon.

When the police did offer good ideas such as staking out the mail boxes from which the numerous kidnapping notes were mailed, Lindbergh exploded and forbid it claiming it would endanger the child. Police also suggested tapping Condon’s telephone to discover the origin of the kidnapper calls, but again Lindbergh nixed the idea. In any way possible Charles Lindbergh screwed up the investigation of his son’s disappearance.  Why would he do that?

For months there were no leads, which would trigger another look at the family and household staff in today’s world, especially when you consider that this was the third kidnaping episode involving Colonel Lindbergh. Before Charles dated Anne Morrow he was first interested in her younger sister, Constance, who did not return his affection. When Anne and her parents (Dwight Morrow was a banker and U.S. ambassador to Mexico) went to Europe Constance went to college where she received a letter stating that unless the writer was given $50,000 she would be kidnapped.  It was the exact same amount demanded by whoever kidnapped the Lindbergh baby. Two months before the Lindbergh baby went missing from Hopewell, his father had played a sadistic joke on his wife and the Hopewell staff. He hid the child in a closet and let his terrified wife believe the baby had been kidnapped. (Lindbergh was well known in personal circles for his mean jokes. Amelia Earhart had witnessed one where Charles had dripped water onto his wife’s silk dress in front of company, knowing that the dress would be ruined. Earhart did not like being called; “Lady Lindy” and his in-laws bore him little affection).

When the child disappeared on the evening of March 1, 1932 Anne Lindbergh and the nanny, Betty Gow, both thought that Charles had taken the baby. There was no kidnapping note when the two women searched the nursery; it only appeared later after Lindbergh entered the room. His first response upon entering the room had been, “Anne, they have taken our baby.”  Rather than open the note, Lindbergh ordered no one to open it as fingerprints could still be on it. It was the only time he displayed any concern for preservation of evidence or respect for law enforcement.

The police did manage to override Lindbergh in marking the ransom money, which led to the arrest of Bruno Richard Hauptmann, who maintained his innocence despite being offered large sums of money to confess. He claimed to have received the money from an acquaintance named Isadore Fisch, a con man to whom Hauptmann had lost $7000. Fisch gave Hauptmann a sack of money to hold and since the man owned him money, Hauptmann withdrew some of the bills, which were gold certificates recently recalled by the government and spent them.  Police had placed the certificates in the ransom payoff and recorded the serial numbers so that they would be easy to trace.  Aside from the bills, no other evidence ever connected the German to the Lindbergh kidnapping and murder. Later the prosecution would mention Condon’s contact information written inside a closet at the Hauptmann house and a missing board from the attic allegedly from the kidnap ladder, which amazingly was not missing when police searched the attic the first time. The information etched in the closet had been placed there by a reporter who later admitted it.

The child’s body was found on May 12 not far from Hopewell, tossed in a ditch. The American public was outraged and already prejudiced against Germans after the First World War and the Nazi activities abroad (though Lindbergh was an ardent Nazi supporter), so Hauptmann was doomed from the start. He was shafted by his lawyers and Lindbergh sat at the prosecutor’s table further fanning the flames against the poor carpenter who would never have made such a flimsy ladder.

The prosecution claimed that Hauptmann placed the ladder against the house, outside the only window that had shutters that did not latch. (A recent book Cemetery John claims that Hauptmann then took off his shoes and tiptoed upstairs to snatch the baby, which is farfetched. However, the contention that a man named John Knox could have been Cemetery John is entirely possible, since many people had access to the initial kidnapping letter.) Charles Lindbergh sat fifteen feet from the front door of an isolated house built for the purpose of evading snooping reporters and fans, so why would the door be left unlocked? Charles reported that he heard the sound of wood breaking sometime around 9pm, but never got up to check it out. Odd, since he put on a good show of running about the house with a rifle two months earlier during his practical joke. Anne heard nothing. The dog, a viscous one that Lindbergh bought for that very reason, failed to hear strangers outside or inside the house, but barked at police or anyone else entering the property. The baby was not checked on until 10 pm per Lindbergh’s orders that the child not be pampered.

It was definitely an inside job since the Lindberghs were not usually at Hopewell, but had been staying with the Morrow’s. Someone close had to have been involved to know the change in plans. The nanny later committed suicide prompting suspicions toward Gow and her boyfriend who was later deported, but not charged. Charles telephoned his wife the afternoon of March 1 and told her not to bring the baby out in the rain since he had a cold, but Anne wrote to her mother-in-law that the baby was over the cold and either way could have been bundled up. The fatherly concern does not hold water as Lindbergh ran his household like a boot camp, being very hard on his future children.

Lindbergh was extremely focused on details and planning, so his later explanation for arriving at Hopewell at 8:25pm and honking the horn to announce his presence is suspicious. He had an important speaking engagement that night and claimed that he just got the dates mixed up.  He should not have even been at Hopewell or the Morrow’s residence that evening.

To anyone with common sense Charles Lindbergh should have been considered a suspect, especially with a kidnapping practical joke just two months earlier. The public never knew the inconsiderate side of Lucky Lindy that make his pregnant wife fly thousands of feet in the air with no oxygen for hours, more than likely causing some damage to the fetus. Whether Charles Jr. suffered mentally or physically from that incident is unknown, but Lindbergh would hardly have had any sympathy for a disabled child.

Recently, the sleeper and other items kept as evidence were released to the family who plan to lay the whole incident to rest. The evidence should have remained in a museum as historical exhibits. Questions about the identity of the body recovered will remain unanswered as Charles Lindbergh had the body of Charles Jr. cremated before any examination could be done, which is strange right in the middle of a criminal investigation and once again nobody stopped him. Lindbergh was the only one to identify the infant body as Charles Jr.

An interesting note on the sleeper that helped put Hauptmann in the electric chair was that it was new or recently washed with nothing to distinguish it from thousands of others on the market. Why would kidnappers wash a sleeper before sending it in an age before DNA? It’s obvious that someone bought one and sent it to the Lindberghs to identify it as belonging to their son. Charles Lindbergh was a major force in the prosecution and execution of Hauptmann for the crime.

On June 25, 2012 a man claiming to be the Lindbergh baby did an interview on Coast to Coast AM radio. His story is very plausible in that he states his father, Charles Lindbergh, was not the great guy the media portrayed him to be and he was into cruel practical jokes that included staging his earlier kidnapping.  The man known as “Paul” for years was followed by FBI agents and in fact met with Charles Lindbergh at a coffee shop in California in 1943. His DNA test matched that of his Lindbergh sister indicating that they both shared Anne Morrow Lindbergh as a mother. Charles was a well known Nazi supporter who had numerous affairs that included German women. By 1943 it was clear that supporting Hitler was a mistake and Charles was trying to repair his reputation. Admitting that he had his son kidnapped because of a deformity or as a joke was not an option by 1943, so he never admitted Paul was his son.

The case is an interesting one and too complicated to fully investigate here, but even in grade school I wondered why Lindbergh was never investigated or questioned regarding the kidnapping and death of his child.  For further reading check out;

The Crime of the Century: The Lindbergh Kidnapping Hoax by Gregory Ahlgren and Stephen Monier

Cemetery John by Robert Zorn

The Airman and the Carpenter: The Lindbergh Kidnapping and the Framing of Richard Hauptman by Ludovic Kennedy

Examiner Article on Charles Jr.

http://www.examiner.com/article/man-claiming-to-be-lindbergh-baby-appears-on-coast-to-coast-am?cid=db_articles

There is hardly a mystery more prominent in the United States than the tale of the pilot Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan who disappeared in 1937.  Many are content to believe that she was a lousy pilot and simply crashed somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, end of story.  Others are sure that Amelia was captured by the Japanese and either was executed on Saipan along with Fred Noonan or she was taken to China and interred in a Japanese POW camp. Some take the theory one step farther and say Amelia returned to the United States in 1946 as Irene Craigmile who married an ex-MI5 British agent named Guy Bolem.  Ric Gillespie thinks she crashed on Gardiner Island and regularly leads searches to the island.

At first I dismissed the theory of Amelia being Irene Craigmile Bolam, but there are many questions that would be answered if one considers that Amelia was recruited by President Roosevelt to spy on the Japanese and was thus assisted in her return to the States.  It isn’t so farfetched since thanks to President Hoover spying was illegal in 1937  as “gentlemen do not open other gentlemen’s mail”.  FDR knew that the Japanese were up to something on the Marshall Islands and had no discrete way to be sure they were not fortifying the islands (they were of course). Amelia was also personal friends with the First Lady, Eleanor.

The story of Amelia Earhart has been told many times, so I will not repeat every detail here, but there are some highlights that need to be looked at closer.  The first item to be noted is that the Earhart file is under WWII files at the National Archives, which is interesting since the U.S. did not enter the war until 1941 when Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese.  Two high-ranking military officers visited her in California before she left on her around the world flight. This was no easy task in 1937 as transportation was lacking and required changing planes, trains and taxis several times. One did not just hop a plane from one coast to the other,  so there was some pressing issue for the government to meet with a civilian.  During the meeting with the officers, Amelia’s husband and Noonan were asked to leave the room.

After the meeting Earhart changed flight plans and reversed her original route, instead taking one that sent her east over Africa where maintenance stops were unprepared and caused long delays.  Amelia also turned down help from Pan Am which offered to track her with their state of the art high frequency technology. This would make no sense unless one considers the alleged mission she did for the government and she did not want to be found. Earhart was also quite rude in turning the help down.

Earhart then was swing around and approach tiny Howland Island from the west stating that she was in a cloud bank and could not see.  Howland was a rest and refueling stop and the last leg to California. They would come around and approach from the east, but instead of actually landing on Howland (which was a difficult feat anyway since it was a like finding a blue marble in a swimming pool) Earhart would turn north where she would run into “bad weather”. Rather than spy on the Japanese personally, she would “get lost” and fly instead to a privately owned island in Hawaii where she would remain while her search ensued. For those who think that is a bizarre idea, consider that Amelia had dinner with the owners, the Robinson’s, the night before leaving on the historic flight. The U.S. military could then search for a world-famous lady pilot in the areas where the Japanese were suspected of fortifying.  How could the Japanese say no when Earhart was even admired in Japan?

It should be mentioned that the military search for a “civilian” flyer was extensive involving both ships and planes and never was there any trace of an oil slick found anywhere. It is unlikely that the plane went down in the water for this simple fact alone. Oil and water do not mix and there would have been oil floating on the water days or even weeks after the accident.

A crucial part of this plan was for Amelia and Fred to maintain radio silence and they did not for which no explanation has been given. The Japanese would have been able to pick up on transmissions and know that the Americans were dangerously close to the Marshall Islands.  Whether she was shot down or crashed for some unknown cause researchers cannot agree.  The people of the Marshall Islands have no doubts about the incident and issued postage stamps detailing the rescue of Earhart and Noonan by a fishing boat.  The plane was hoisted aboard by a crane also depicted on a stamp. A letter addressed to Earhart was later found at the Marshall Island post office unopened. Who could have known to write to her there? Predictably, the current whereabouts of the letter are now unknown.

Prior to rescue by the fishing crew, Amelia had broadcast for hours trying to reach someone in the U.S. and there is considerable controversy about who did hear her. The U.S. Navy did not, but two teenagers in Florida and Idaho did.  Radio experts say that it was impossible for radio waves to have traveled such a long distance, however, the two teens tell similar stories. Betty Klenck Brown of St. Petersburg, Florida wrote down the dialogue she heard from a voice she recognized as Earhart. Betty heard the woman tell of a plane half in the water on a reef and a man with a head wound who was panicking and trying to climb over her head to get to the escape hatch over the pilot’s seat. The Marshall Island postal stamps portray a tall woman and a man with a bandaged head. A local medic also stated that he treated a woman named Amelia for an injured knee and a man with a head wound on a ship.

Betty heard something much more interesting though, which lends credibility to who she heard that night.  The woman broadcast that she hoped they could hear her in New York (her home) and that if they could, to tell George to destroy the suitcase.  As it happened, Earhart had a suitcase full of unknown items that she wanted no one to see. She had informed her husband, George P. Putnam, before leaving that if anything happened to her he was to get rid of it.  How could a young girl playing with a ham radio know that? How could she even make it up?

A young sixteen year old black boy, whose father had installed an extended antenna like Betty’s father had also done, heard Amelia say they were stuck on a reef south of the equator. He ran to get his father who recognized the voice and the two of them went to the sheriff.  I mention his race here because it backs up the story. In 1937 two black men in Idaho telling tales about a famous white woman could have been disastrous if taken for hoax. Fortunately, the sheriff believed them and notified authorities.  I have no doubt that Dana Randolph and his father heard the desperate pleas of Amelia Earhart who was not only stranded, but dealing with a delirious injured navigator.

From the Marshall Islands the two downed flyers were taken to Saipan, also controlled by the Japanese where various stories abound regarding their fates.  Some theories have them held at the prison in deplorable conditions and then beheaded. This could be entirely possible for Fred since he was a drunk and could be belligerent. It is doubtful that the Japanese would have executed a famous woman flyer wearing men’s clothes as Japanese men were fascinated by her. Women did not act that way in Japan. Another version has Amelia dying of dysentery at a hotel on Saipan. There was at that time a young, tall Japanese American woman who could have been the woman seen instead of Amelia, one called Tokyo Rosa years before the notorious “Tokyo Rose”.

When I worked in nursing I met several older gentlemen who told me that they saw Amelia’s plane in a hangar on Saipan after the war. Rather than pay to ship equipment back to the States, the army was destroying it or sinking it in the ocean.  The plane in the hanger was completely burnt. It’s interesting to note that later the CIA built a secret training facility at one end of the island.

I tend to believe the theory about Amelia being transported to China where the Japanese had several POW camps. Several facts persuade me this is the correct version. The Japanese liked to have English-speaking women broadcast as “Tokyo Rose” the radio personality designed to weaken the morale of U.S. fighting men in the southwest pacific.  Two American soldiers stated they heard Amelia Earhart over the airwaves talking as Tokyo Rose.  The government took it seriously enough to do something odd. George Putnam, who had no military training was commissioned as a Major in Army Intelligence and sent to the pacific area to listen to the woman who was allegedly Amelia. He stated that the woman had certainly done her homework, but she couldn’t be Amelia. One year after his wife’s disappearance Putnam had her declared legally dead when the usual time period is seven years.

Another thing the Japanese liked to do with American POWs was to make them nationalized Japanese citizens after being held captive for years for further humiliation.  In 1946 an Irene Craigmile, AKA, Mrs. G.P. Putnam, a Japanese citizen applied to immigrate to the United States.  This will be addressed again a bit later.

Further evidence that Amelia was in China with the Japanese military can be found in a photograph of Amelia standing next to a Japanese plane that was experimental at the time and not being used during the war. It would not be so unusual for the flyer to feel at home among the Japanese as she spoke fluent Japanese, learning it from a housekeeper her parents employed when she was a child.

Now enters Irene Craigmile Bolam, wife of a retired MI5 agent named Guy Bolam, and a writer/pilot named Joe Gervais. He met her at a meeting of a women’s pilot group named the “Ninety Nine’s” started in 1929. Gervais’ research is chronicled in a book by Joe Klaas, Amelia Earhart Lives, and is well worth reading as Mr. Gervais also describes four planes and not just one made for the around the world flight. The plane Amelia supposedly flew he found crashed on a mountain side in California.

Upon meeting Irene Gervais was struck hard by the realization that the woman was Amelia Earhart and indeed had the very same medals and awards as Amelia.  He wrote a book asserting that theory and Irene sued him and his publisher, MacGraw Hill. The book was withdrawn.  Gervais was surprised at the hostility and asked her why it would be such an insult to be called Amelia Earhart, a well-known and loved American heroine. Her response revealed much more than she realized.

Irene retorted, “Well then, that would make me a traitor and a bigamist wouldn’t it?”  A bigamist yes, but how could she have known that Amelia could be judged a traitor?  Joe asked Irene to be fingerprinted and put to rest the allegation and she refused. Mrs. Bolam went steps further by donating her body to a medical school and left instructions for no prints to be taken or any samples to be kept. The body was cremated forever leaving the question open. Even her best friend, also a pilot, thought Irene was Amelia Earhart but never brought up the subject for fear it would ruin the friendship.

What stories of such persons as Earhart present to us is that nothing may be as it seems and the versions printed in textbooks are meant to make us accept a certain template. Recent movies about Amelia fall short when they try to convince us that Amelia had a hot romance with G.P. Putnam. Difficult to buy when Putnam badgered her regarding marriage and she only relented after the sixth proposal when she no longer had the funds to keep flying. Right before the wedding Amelia had Putnam sign an agreement stating that she had reservations about the marriage and if she was still not happy in a year they would divorce- true love all right.

Whatever the truth about Amelia Earhart’s disappearance, she did not just crash in the ocean and vanish from history. I would recommend that anyone interested in the Earhart story read the following books, as well as others, to ask questions and form their own opinions.

  • Joe Klaas, Amelia Earhart Lives
  • Ric Gillespie, Finding Amelia: The True Story of the Earhart Disappearance.
  • Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident
  • J.A. Donahue, The Earhart Disappearance: The British Connection
  • Amelia Earhart, Last Flight
  • Muriel Earhart Morrissey, Amelia, My Courageous Sister
  • Joe Davidson, Amelia Earhart Returns from Saipan
  • T.C. Buddy Brennan, Witness to the Execution
  • Col. Rollin Reineck, Amelia Earhart Survived.

    The Conspiracy Theorists May Be Right. The Chimera Project Background

When I was a kid in the 1960s and 70s my father worked in US Army intelligence at the Pentagon. He used to tell us the scariest stories you could imagine about underground alien bases and warned us about playing in the woods near an old Air Force installation. If we heard something like air brakes while in the woods we were to run like hell for home as the government had an arrangement with the aliens that involved allowing them to have humans for experimentation. This was long before the Commander X books were published and the hundreds of web sites and television shows on aliens inundated the public.

I didn’t think much about these stories except that Dad was a good storyteller. It was not until I read the “Commander X” books  that a chill ran down my spine.  I had heard all of this information two decades earlier when my father also told us about a “shadow government” that President George Bush admitted to not long ago. Many of the things he told us have turned out to be true or have come true recently, so now that he has passed away there is no  reason to not share the hair-raising tales about Hangar 18, our sudden technological advances and the truth behind AIDS and resistant cancers.

My novel “The Chimera Project” is inspired by what I now know to be factual information relayed to us in the form of bedtime tales of horror. The Chimera Project contains more fact than fiction and should scare the hell out of anybody.

Was Joan of Arc a Peasant Girl? The Evidence Says No!

Questioning the tale of the Maid of Lorraine.

The story of a passionate, religiously devout nineteen year old woman saving France has long been a favorite of school girls (myself included), but how realistic is it?

As the story goes, Joan was born in 1412 in Domremy, France to Jacques d’Arc and Isabelle Romee who also had a number of other children. At age 13 she began to have visions of angels while tending the animals in the fields. These visions were of the saints, Michael, Marguerite and Catherine. They told her that she was the maid who would save France. These conversations went on for several years. The young girl spent a great deal of time in church talking with the priest and praying. When she heard church bells ringing Joan would drop to her knees where ever she happened to be. She told the voices, her “counselors” that she was just a girl and could not do as they demanded. She did not even know how to go about saving France.
In her late teens the voices rather aggressively insisted that Joan do as commanded, it was God’s wish. This was no easy task, but turned out to be much easier than it should have been for an illiterate peasant girl. She began by talking her cousin into escorting her to see Robert Baudricourt, captain of Vaulcoulers. At first Baudricourt blew Joan off and sent her back home insisting that she needed a good spanking. He finally relented after some months and took her to see the dauphin (prince) Charles. Placing Charles on the throne was the vehicle required by the voices for saving France.
The first clue that things were not quite as they seemed was the fact that Charles, instead of just officially meeting the girl, hid among his courtiers to see if she would recognize him. Recognize him? How would a peasant’s daughter know someone she had not seen or had any interest in before? This has been viewed as a miracle, proof that God guided her as Joan went right to him. It does not seem to have occurred to anyone that perhaps Charles already knew Joan and her parentage and feared the consequences of the meeting. He also did not trust her until she told him a secret in private, which was probably what he wanted to hear-that Charles VI was his father. It must ever have occurred to him that maybe Isabeau was not his mother, even though they had formed no bond whatsoever.
Charles was eventually convinced of her mission with much influence from his guardian, Yolande of Aragon who was married to Louis II of Anjou, her father- in-law was Charles V of France and her son, Rene d’Anjou, who would ride with Joan throughout her military career. Joan was eventually given an army by the dauphin Charles and the opportunity to oust the English, so that he might be crowned.
Joan displayed an extraordinary ability to led men and an uncanny knowledge of artillery, not to mention that she could ride as well as any of the combat veterans. She often had her own methods of accomplishing military objectives as her voices disagreed with the strategies of the commanders. They were victorious and the dauphin Charles was crowned, but not in Paris as Joan had hoped. That great city was still held by the English.
This is the point where things begin to go wrong for the passionate young woman. Charles no longer wished to keep up military campaigns as they were expensive (and he was a bit of a sniveling wimp) and he was now King of France, Charles VII. Joan was becoming an inconvenience. If Joan had just gone back home she probably would have lived out her life uneventfully, but she truly believed in a united France and could not see that diplomacy would accomplish that goal. She continued the fight.
Joan was captured at Compiegne on May 30, 1430 when the town folk closed the draw bridge and would not let it down for fear of losing the city to the English. She was held prisoner and moved several times until her Condemnation trial. Joan’s ransom could have been paid by Charles VII, but instead she was sold to the English. The Bishop of Beauvais, Pierre Cauchon, went to great efforts to be appointed her judge even though the case was out of his jurisdiction. She was found guilty of heresy and burned at the stake May 31, 1431.  Or perhaps it truly was Claude des Armois, the impostor who burned instead?
It was with Cauchon that the mother of Charles VII, Isabeau of Bavaria, drew up the Treaty of Troyes, which knocked him out of the line of succession, thus requiring the intervention of Joan of Arc in the first place. Her grandson, Henry VI of England would rule when old enough and until then his father, Henry V would rule as regent. The problem with this arrangement was that both Charles VI and Henry V died within a few months of each other leaving the infant Henry and Charles de Ponthieu to vie for the French throne.
Is it really such a mystery why Isabeau of Bavaria would team up with the Bishop of Beauvais, Pierre Cauchon, in the Treaty of Troyes to side step the dauphin Charles when it became clear that he was not king material, and make her grandson, Henry VI the next heir to the French throne? Isabeau’s daughter was Catherine de Valois, queen of England. The power would have stayed in the family with young Henry on the throne. Isabeau has been painted in a very bad light thoughout history, perhaps without just cause.
There had always been rumors about the parentage of Charles VII; most gossip consisted of Charles being the illegitimate son of Isabeau of Bavaria and Louis II, his uncle. He was very self conscious and defensive of such ideas and the talk continued well after the Maid of Lorraine burned at the stake.
Twenty-five years after Joan’s death a Rehabilitation Trial was ordered by Charles VII, which determined that the first trial was unfair and the reputation of Joan the Maid was restored. There was a great effort made to establish her roots in Lorraine as the daughter of the two lower class residents of Domremy, Jacques d’Arc and Isabelle Romee.
This is a very condensed version of the life of Joan of Arc, but will allow us to examine a few of the alleged “facts” of the case.
When I first began writing my novel, Rennes le Chateau: The Road to Sion, I didn’t really believe that Joan was illegitimate aristocracy or that she could have escaped the stake, however, I began to look at her story like the law student that  I was then and asked what I considered obvious questions. I also found surprising, but entirely logical answers.
In villages like Domremy it was unlikely that a family would have lived so exposed with marauding, unemployed knights running about raping, pillaging and setting people on fire. As the story goes, the inhabitants of Domremy would run to the fortified town of Greux for safety. Such a scenario is not very reasonable. There simply would have not been enough time or warning for entire families, which would have included the elderly and infants, to even run the short distance to Greux. Villages like Domremy were most likely occupied by healthy male farm laborers who could have defended themselves. Families lived in more secure walled towns.
There are other problems with the Joan growing up in Domremy story. The first being, which town called Domremy was it? In the fifteenth century there were four other villages on the Meuse River called Domremy and others called Greux. If it were indeed the village now in the department of the Vosges, there is a question about the house reputed to have belonged to her parents, Jacques d’Arc and Isabelle Romee. The house now shown to tourists was built in 1481, long after she allegedly died in 1431, by the son of Charles VII, Louis XI.
Even the identity of Jacques is questionable as I point out in the book,
“The man who was supposed to be Joan’s father had several names throughout the time period; Jacques Tart, Jakes Delarch and Jacques d’Arc, so his identity is questionable. There was a man named Arc who was the tax collector for the Duke of Lorraine, but he did not live in Domremy.”
The fact that people attacked Isabelle Romee at the beginning of the Rehabilitation Trial is perhaps a good sign that people knew that she was not Joan’s mother. The Rehabilitation Trial is amazing for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it is used to declare that the life of Joan of Arc is the most well documented of all medieval historical figures.
Indeed, there were a great many witnesses claiming to know her and at first this is impressive, until you consider that we are talking about fifteenth century France when a person was considered old at age 40 and lucky to see age 50. Twenty-five years later, we have nearly everyone who knew Joan as a girl still alive and their memories crystal clear. Not just clear, they also tell the exact same stories with the same details and this should catch the attention of any first year law student.
So who was Joan of Arc really? In a nutshell, since it took an entire book to develop this theory, she was the legitimate daughter of Charles VI and Isabeau of Bavaria. Charles was indeed the illegitimate one and he knew it. Why would the king and queen of France wish to switch babies? The first motive would the most obvious in that they wanted a male heir. The Salic Laws prevented females from inheriting titles, thus putting France at the mercy of whomever Joan married.

When Joan began hearing voices and dropping to her knees at the sound of church bells, her parents would have thought their fears justified  that Joan had inherited the same mental illness as her father, Charles VI. The political risk of Joan being queen of France would have been enormous since  Isabeau had to often take the reins of the kingdom when the king would gallop down the palace halls howling like dog. The political landscape of fifteenth century France was volatile and fractured at best. France could not afford another weak ruler.
A thorough reading of the Condemnation Trial transcript sheds a different light on the questions asked of Joan and her responses when you consider that she was royalty. It would also explain why a nineteen year old woman (though she was probably closer to age 24) would speak to men as equals or inferiors and order nobility around without a second thought. A royal upbringing would also explain why Joan seemed to know so much about military strategy, particularly artillery, and her excellent horsemanship skills. If Joan were really the true queen of France, it would explain the hatred displayed by some of the English and the obsessive need of Charles VII to use the whole Maid of Lorraine story to convince people she was a disillusioned nobody.
The real truth of the Joan of Arc story will probably never be known, but it is not the set in stone tale that historians declare it to be. There are far too many unanswered questions and more than enough reasonable doubt that Joan was not an ignorant peasant girl.
D.A. Chadwick

Copyright 2009 by D.A. Chadwick

There seems to be a renewed interest in the Singing Nun or Soeur Sourire of 1960s fame with the release of the new movie this April, Soeur Sourire starring the actress Cecile de France. Like the movie by MGM in 1966, The Singing Nun, the Belgian film is a fictionalized account of the life of Jeannine Deckers who joined the Dominican order at Fichermont convent at Waterloo, Belgium in 1959 and became Sr. Luc Gabriel.

Writing a biography on Deckers was a long and difficult process that I hope will be much easier for biographers in the future, that is, perhaps now her private journals and photograph albums will be archived by the Belgian government and made available for research. If not, Loyola University has expressed an interest in housing them for an exhibit on influential women. Dr. Susan Ross, Director of The Gannon Center for Women & Leadership is quite interested in honoring Jeannine and will certainly do an excellent job of preserving them.

There would have been many biographies of Deckers but for the unfortunate death of her manager and executor, Jean Berlier, who had kept her private papers and journals at his office where writers such as Florence Delaporte could access them.  Prior to Berlier’s death a businessman named Luc Maddelein “borrowed” the documents that included her vast number of photo albums for a supposed book.  Berlier died while Maddelein still was in possession of the documents.  Since that time, Maddelein has controlled who could view them and use them for research. He could do this because, sadly, no one in Belgium cared enough to do anything about it.  He claims to have nothing but honoring Jeannine as a goal, but his actions have indicated otherwise. I and an associate of mine, Mary Donnelly, of Loyola University wrote to the King and Queen of Belgium to ask that they take possession of Deckers documents for archiving, but we never received a response.

When first contacted by Maddelein he wanted to co-author a book with me in English with himself as the lead writer. Since he does not write English well, I was not really interested as it meant that I would have to translate his writing from Flemish to English-a good deal of work on my part.  He also wanted to write a fictionalized novel, which I had no interest in doing. Before I could even view a page of Jeannine’s journals he wanted me to sign a business contract.

Luc Maddelein claims to be the pre-eminent expert on a woman he never knew-that is easy to do when you steal, then hoard her personal archives for yourself. He will allow access if you completely agree with his assessment of Deckers and you will collaborate with him.  He is no professional and tells only the story he wishes to tell.

About this time I began to have serious doubts about his legal rights to documents belonging to a nonrelative that he essentially stole in the first place. To make a long, horrid story short, Maddelein refused me any access to her documents, including the journals I was particularly interested in.  Further evidence that he has no right to own the Deckers papers is in the fact that he hid them at an associates apartment building for six weeks.  This same associate recently tried selling a postcard of Jeannine’s for $500 on eBay.

Maddelein has written a picture book with Leen van de Berg and the present film on Deckers, Soeur Sourire, was suggested to the Belgian director Stijn Coninx by Maddelein and his co-author. The actress,Cecile de France also worked for three years to ensure the film was produced. The film is in French and currently available in limited regions.  From what I have seen so far, it is closer to reality than the MGM film of 1966 and covers the entire life span of Deckers.

Yet, it is another fictionalized account of her life and is based on the assumption that Deckers and her companion of 25 years, Annie Pecher, were lovers.  The beauty of writing fiction is that one does not have to be burdoned by the facts.  In Music from the Soul: The Singing Nun Story we tried to present a clear picture without too much speculation.  The only two people who know the reality of their relationship are dead.  I certainly do not argue that the two women loved each other and were very devoted, but they cannot speak for themselves and it is not up to any of us to “out” either one of them.  As far as Jeannine was concerned, she never really stopped being a nun even after leaving Fichermont. It should be remembered that Jeannine and Annie took vows of celibacy not required by the laity, so in my view it is disrespectful to assume that they broke those vows.

In the end, I wrote a biography on Jeannine Deckers with Florence Delaporte and in the process learned to translate French well enough that I do it for a living, so in that respect Maddelein did some good in refusing me access to the journals.  My concern with yet another fictionalized movie is that people will take it heart as they did the Debbie Reynolds film. Deckers had real problems that need to be addressed, not the least of which was the total lack of support for women leaving religious orders. When she tried to get help for psychological problems it lead to a dependency on prescription drugs and her intense struggle with her sexuality is one in which many can identify.

There should be many more books on the life of Soeur Sourire, in which different writers can discover new angles in viewing the tragic life of Jeannine Deckers. And there are many unanswered questions. No one person should control access to the documents of a celebrity, especially someone with no right to possess them.  I do not believe that Deckers would approve of this situation  since she was taken advantage of her entire life and duped by those claiming to represent her best interests.  It seems that she has not escaped this phenomon even in death.

Hopefully, since Americans essentially created the phenomenal success of Soeur Sourire, there will be a movie based on her life made here for her many English speaking fans.