Mass burial of clowns and other circus performers in Chicago graveyard

Chicago Clown Graveyard – Showmen’s Rest Cemetery

Showmen’s Rest is the site of a mass burial of clowns and other circus performers after a train wreck killed 86 members of the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus in 1918.

Ouija board gravestone of talking board creator Elijah Bond

Ouija Board Gravestone – Grave of Elijah Bond in Baltimore

The memorial gravestone of Ouija Board inventor Elijah Bond was erected in 2008 by the Talking Board Historical Society in Baltimore, Maryland’s Green Mount Cemetery.
Ouija board gravestone of Elijah Bond in Baltimore, Maryland
Ouija board gravestone of Elijah Bond in Baltimore, Maryland

It took 15 years, but eventually Ouija board historian and Talking Board Historical Society founder Robert Murch managed to track down the unmarked grave of Elijah Bond, inventor of the infamous board game that has spawned more nightmares than any other toy.

Related:

Bond was a lawyer and inventor. He filed the patent for what would become known as the Ouija Board on May 28th, 1890. The first talking board was produced by his friends at the Kennard Novelty Company.

Murch found the grave in Baltimore’s Green Mount Cemetery in 2007. With permission from the cemetery and the blessings of Bond’s descendants, he raised donations from Ouija enthusiasts to get a memorial gravestone erected a year later. The new stone features the iconic Ouija design from the original patent.

More info here: Elijah Bond Memorial Gravestone

Did you visit the Ouija grave? Share your photos with the Cult of Weird community on Instagram by tagging #cultofweird

Killer Legends: Documentary Explores Real Horrors Behind Urban Legends

Hook man killing teenagers on lover’s lane? Razor blades in Halloween candy? Killer Legends exposes the gruesome real-life details behind popular urban legends.
Killer Legends documentary explores the horrifying true stories behind popular urban legends.

A while back we decided to play Netflix roulette here at Cult of Weird HQ, taking a chance on some random low-budget horror documentary with an cool thumbnail of an abandoned building. The film was called Cropsey, which turned out to be a fascinating look at a legendary New York boogeyman that came alive when a man named Andre Rand began kidnapping children on Staten Island.

For his followup, filmmaker Joshua Zeman, along with researcher Rachel Mills, embarked on a quest to hunt down the origins of other bizarre urban legends that have somehow managed to crawl in the dark crevices of the American collective unconscious and fester there.

Like the previous film, Killer Legends was much more interesting than I anticipated.

To unearth the true stories which may have inspired a handful of prolific urban legends, Zeman and Mills set out to track down the gruesome details of several brutal murders…often leading them right to the scene of the crime.

The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs

A man calls and harasses a babysitter, until she eventually discovers he is inside the house. In Columbia, Missouri, the crew investigates the case of Janett Christman, a 13-year-old babysitter who was attacked and strangled with the cord of an iron in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Ed Romack, while their son Greg was asleep in his bed with the radio on. Though someone was quickly arrested and tried for murder, evidence suggests a friend of the family may actually have been the killer.

The Town that Dreaded Sundown

In the legend of the hookman, teenagers parked on lover’s lane are gored by a man with a hook for a hand. Zeman and Mills follow this story to Texarkana, where the unsolved Moonlight Murders inspired the 1976 slasher film The Town That Dreaded Sundown.

Check Your Halloween Candy

Parents have been examining Halloween candy for razor blades, pins and other evidence of tampering for decades. However, there doesn’t seem to be any actual recorded cases of this…ever. But that didn’t stop Texas man Ronald Clark O’Bryan, now known as the Candyman, from using the legend as a cover to poison his own son’s candy with cyanide to collect the insurance payments.

Killer Clowns

No, clowns don’t kill people. But Chicago does seem to have a weird and creepy history of clowns, which may provide plenty of reasons to fear the wigs, greasepaint and floppy shoes:

  • Showmen’s Rest in Woodlawn Cemetery, a mass grave of clowns and other circus performers killed in a 1918 train crash.
  • Serial killer John Wayne Gacy, who often performed as his alter ego Pogo the Clown, buried the remains of 26 boys in the crawlspace beneath his house.
  • There have been numerous sightings throughout the years of clowns in plain white vans stalking children around the city.
  • The television studio of Bozo the Clown still exist somewhere within WGN…and it’s supposedly haunted

Is this where our fear of clowns comes from?

These disturbing and often blood-filled cautionary tales have haunted childhoods for generations. With Killer Legends, Zeman expertly weaves together reports of real-life tragedies with the myths they spawned to put names, faces and locations to our nightmares.

Watch it on Netflix right now or grab the DVD here.

Weird Wisconsin: Chatting with Mysterious Heartland

Cult of Weird creator Charlie Hintz talks with Mysterious Heartland about the origins of the website and strange things in Wisconsin.
Cult of Weird creator Charlie Hintz with a human skull at the Mad Taxidermist's shop
Examining a 250-year-old human skull at the Mad Taxidermist’s shop. Photo by Dragon’s Eye Artistry.

I recently had the opportunity to talk with extremely talented author Michael Kleen about Wisconsin oddities, as well as the origins of Cult of Weird and my childhood indoctrination into the occult for his website Mysterious Heartland.

Read it here: Interview with Charlie Hintz, of Cult of Weird

Weird Wisconsin

As you may know, the humble Internet outhouse that is Cult of Weird broadcasts to the world from the backwoods of Wisconsin. The town of West Bend, to be exact – a largely conservative, snobby and stifling community only notable for Goatman author J. Nathan Couch’s fascinating downtown ghost walks, and the fact that the Slenderman stabbing girls are currently being housed about five minutes from Cult HQ.

But there is still plenty of weird to go around here in Wisconsin, a subject I tend to be a bit passionate about. Get a few miles outside of West Bend and you begin to experience the wide range of bizarre things the state has to offer, from bear-wolves to underwater UFO bases. This is the state that tried to kill Houdini…if he hadn’t escaped. It was the original winter headquarters of the Ringling Bros. Circus. It was the home of the legendary deviant Ed Gein.

The list of strange places and deranged tales to be told about Wisconsin is endless.

Want more weird Wisconsin? Check out the upcoming Milwaukee Paranormal Conference.

Late last year, I also had a chat with the Mistress of Death about all things Cult of Weird for the website Fangirl Nation. That interview is here: Interview with Charlie Hintz

Creating the Freak Show: The Rough and Ready Sideshow by Ransom & Mitchell

Duo Ransom & Mitchell brought their unique flavor of photography and digital art to the freak show with the Rough and Ready Sideshow series.
Miss Heady L'Amour from the Rough & Ready Sideshow series

The Rough & Ready Sideshow series from photographer Jason Mitchell and digital artist Stacey Ransom reinvents the vintage cabinet cards of yore with a colorful whimsy that is both alluring and bizarre.

To create the intricate details of these circus portraits, Ransom & Mitchell sew costumes, build sets and fabricate props, then digitally paint the final touches that couldn’t be done in studio.

The Ransom & Mitchell retrospective exhibition at Vanilla Gallery in Ginza, Japan ends tomorrow.

Rough & Ready Sideshow by Ransom & Mitchell

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A menagerie of timeless tales and rare specimens lovingly recreated in remembrance of the once-common traveling carnivale, thus saved from the obscurity of antiquity.

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Miss Heady L’Amour

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Maharishi Mistari

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Fiji Mermaid

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Jewels of the Nile

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Miz Beardsley

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Spidora

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The Final Act

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The Pharaoh’s Daughters

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Two Halves & A Whole

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Doctor Huckleberry Schuxley

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Shkiper & the Maneken

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Amazonia Strong

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Bonkers Black

More work by Ransom & Mitchell here: www.ransommitchell.com