Originally posted on /x/
I guess I should say upfront that I'm new here, so be patient with me, as I don't know all the rules or etiquette or whatnot. A friend of mine linked me to this board after I told him the story and showed him the materials I'm about to share with you. He thinks some of you will appreciate it, but to be honest, from where I'm sitting this site seems more like a haven for idiots than a serious "paranormal image board." Whatever. I'm motivated to share this stuff and need to do so anonymously, for reasons which will become clear. Technically, I'll be breaking the law, but if I understand how this place works, this thread will disappear in a day or so anyway.
Here's the deal. I am a production editor at a small independent publisher in the U.S. I won't say which or where, so don't ask, as I'd like to keep my job. The pay isn't that great, but it's an easy gig, and I like the people I work with. A lot of what we publish are what you'd call coffee table books.
The kind people flip through when they're bored, but almost nobody ever reads them cover to cover. Bland pictorial histories of certain cities or states that sell well in regional gift shops. The occasional book of maps or a biography. A few museums outsource their gallery catalogs to us. That kind of thing. The work is boring, but it's steady and we get enough jobs and our books make enough money to stay afloat, which is a lot more than most small presses can say these days.
Because we've been around a while, our name is somewhat known to history buffs and people who think they're an expert on such-and-such town in Nowhere, Idaho or some esoteric topic nobody really cares about. We get a lot of unsolicitied manuscripts from people that really shouldn't be writing books and unsolicited CDs full of photographs from people that shouldn't be taking pictures. Because we're small, and don't have a separate acquisitions editor position, the job of going through this "slush pile" gets passed around the office.
Very rarely, somebody will find something worth pursuing and pitch it to the rest of us, but our Senior Editor/Publisher gets the final say. For the last nine months I've been working more or less nonstop on a book that everybody at the office was pretty excited about. Our copyeditor found it during his turn with the pile. An old guy I won't name had contacted us out of the blue and offered us the chance to publish his rare archival photo collection, provided we treat the subject matter with the respect and seriousness he felt it deserved.
To use his term, and what was going to be the book's title, the photos were all "Anomalies." That is to say, they depicted something out of the ordinary or otherwise inexplicable, something that usually had an equally interesting story to go along with it. Most of them were from the first half of the 20th century.
Like I said, it's not the kind of thing we normally publish, but the few samples the guy sent in with his pitch letter were pretty compelling, and once we had seen the rest of them, heard a few of the stories, and realized that none of these pictures were widely known, we knew we had something that would get people's attention. The format was going to be simple and classy, with a lot of white space and breathing room. Each photo would appear as a high quality print on the right hand page, followed by a blank left hand page, and then a couple paragraphs to caption each photo on the following right hand page.
From the very beginning, the guy was a nightmare to work with and the job took forever because he refused to send in more than one document at a time. He would send me certified mail, I would get it, scan it, and mail it back certified, and only then would he send the next one. He seemed to think he had an extremely valuable collection and was hugely paranoid about losing it, so he only risked one item at a time. In the end we spent so much money on mailing costs that it would have been cheaper to fly me to where the old guy lived with a scanner and a laptop.
We were maybe a third of the way through the production process when this fucking guy pulled the rug out from under us. Somebody had offered him a large sum of money for the photos, way more than we were offering for the book rights, on the condition that the book get shit canned and the photos stay out of the public eye. We demanded he come in for a face to face and tried to reason with him, and cater to his pride and desire for "scholarly acclaim," and for a few days it seemed like it had worked. But when he got back home, he flip-flopped again and started cursing out me and my Senior Editor on the phone, demanding we shelve the book.
He hired a lawyer who came up with some B.S. to void his contract, and then he threatened us with a lawsuit that would bankrupt us if we went ahead with the project and lost. To add insult to injury, the law firm sent this annoying little IT guy to our office to make sure the materials were wiped from our computers. Because the vast majority of it existed on my machine, and I had spent literally months of my life on the project, I felt, and still feel the most violated and bitter about the whole thing.
Somebody should benefit from all that work. Hence my reasons for coming here. Unfortunately, I don't have the high resolution scans I made of the photos, but I did keep working drafts of the original captions and fourteen medium res placeholder "thumbnails" that Quark created as I was laying out the original version of the book. Don't ask me why we're still using Quark. It's what we know and what we paid for a long time ago. I'm not supposed to, but I occasionally take home the working Quark files to tweak on my home machine.
The full file, with the full-res images embedded, gets way too large and unwieldy to bring home with me—most of the time I'm just experimenting with fonts and layout options anyway, so I don't embed the images until the end. Anyway, after all this shit went down, I discovered that I had a "working file" on my home machine of what we had done so far, so I printed to .pdf, and then stripped the text and images from that .pdf file. You folks will be the beneficiaries of that. Just to be clear, I don't claim anything with regards to the veracity and provenance of these photos. I'm not here to convince you they're real. I'm just putting them out there because I think they deserve to be seen and not hidden in some rich prick's private collection.
Photo 1/14The Collinwood Fire
This is the last known photo taken inside the Lake View School in Collinwood, Ohio before it was consumed by fire on March 4, 1908, killing 172 students, two teachers, and one rescuer. The fire started when a ceiling joist ignited from a nearby steam pipe.
Flames blocked escape routes, leading to panic and a stampede that trapped a large number of victims in a stairwell, where they were cooked alive. Additional casualties were incurred when burning students jumped from second- and third-story windows. Everyone in this photo perished, except for Mr. Olson, seated at the far right in the back row. The spectral artifacts in the photo remained unexplained.
Charlie Noonan’s Last Interview
Charlie Noonan was an amateur folklorist who travelled throughout the South and Southwestern United States during the early years of the 20th century, collecting tall tales and stories of the supernatural. According to his wife, Ellie, Charlie was told a story one day by an Oklahoma farmer about a strange woman who lived alone on an isolated property in the panhandle.
The farmer claimed the woman was not a woman at all, but something else, something that hid its true nature beneath a headscarf and was never seen without a large dog by its side. Noonan was apparently intrigued enough to try searching for the woman during one of his research road trips. He was never seen again.
Ellie Noonan was later contacted by a Tulsa pawnbroker who remembered reading about her husband’s disappearance in the papers, after finding his name engraved on a camera sold to him by an itinerant. The pawnbroker returned the camera, and Mrs. Noonan had the film inside developed in the hopes of finding a clue as to his whereabouts. This was the only photo on the roll. Unfortunately, neither the location of the property, nor the name of the farmer who told him the story was recorded in Noonan’s notes.
The Death of John Ulsted
This prophetically torn photograph depicts a regimental color guard of the Union Army, one month before they marched into battle at Antietam (September, 1862).
The gentleman on the far right, named John Ulsted, had the right side of his face and right arm blown off by cannon fire at the start of those hostilities. It is unknown exactly when the damage to the photo occurred.
The Axeman of New Orleans
Édouard Martel was an unsuccessful French photographer and inventor who travelled throughout the U.S. during the first two decades of the 20th century, trying to drum up interest and investors for a device that added timer and automatic exposure features to Kodak’s popular line of folding “Brownie” cameras. During his travels he took thousands of automated photos to test and refine his invention.
Often he would wake up early, set up a hidden camera in an inconspicuous spot on the streets of whatever city he happened to be in, and then walk to a nearby café or bar, so that he could capture candid scenes of daily life to remember his travels by. The best of these photos were selected for Martel’s one and only gallery show, in Paris, 1924. Unfortunately, Martel died penniless and unknown in 1955, and it was left to his daughter Jeanne to sort through the boxes and boxes of photos he left behind, to see what should be kept and what could be discarded. During this process she came across this photo, taken in New Orleans on the morning of October 28, 1919, a few hours before Martel boarded a steamer ship and returned to France.
It turns out that Martel hated motion blurs in his photographs, because he thought they would reflect badly on the speed and accuracy of his lens mechanism. This prejudice made him cast aside and overlook what was probably the most important photo he ever took.
What makes this photo so special? The night before it was taken, the notorious and still unidentified serial killer known only as “The Axeman of New Orleans” had committed his last murder, hacking Mike Pepitone to death in his bedroom and then fleeing the scene just as Pepitone’s wife was discovering the body. Could this be him returning to his residence? It’s impossible to say, but if it is, the image appears to belie the legend (based on the shaky testimony of Pauline and Mary Bruno, and prevailing prejudice of the time) that only a black man was capable of such savagery.
The Grand Caverns Cryptids
This photo was taken in 1895 by an amateur spelunker/photographer named Oren Jeffries while exploring an unmapped section of Grand Caverns, in Southwestern Virginia. At the time it was taken, Jeffries was conducting photographic experiments, using super long exposures to see if anything at all could be captured in the total absence of light, otherwise known as “cave darkness.” He would situate himself on level ground, extinguish his lantern, and then open the lens of his homemade box camera for as long as he could stand the darkness. During one of these experiments, he heard something approach from the deeper recesses of the cave.
Frightened, Jeffries abandoned his experiment and set off one of the Blitzlicht flashes he used for taking traditional photos underground. According to the report he later gave to a local newspaper, Jeffries saw three “humanoid” creatures staring at him from the shadows and took off running in the other direction and didn’t stop running until he was topside. Several days later, he returned with three other men to retrieve his box camera. This is the image that was recorded on the film inside.
The Harlow Twins
1938, Evergreen Park, IL (outside Chicago). Billy and Stevie Harlow were riding in the front seat with their mother Tammie when their Ford sedan collided head on with a Chrysler. During the collision, the cars spun in such as a way as to impact two additional vehicles.
Tammie Harlow survived but the boys were ejected through the windshield and killed instantly. A crime scene photographer from the local paper took this shot as a crew of volunteers worked frantically to free John Downing, the driver of the Chrysler. It appears that little Billy and Stevie stuck around to watch.
The Sorrenson Tragedy
The Sorrensons were a Danish family who immigrated to the United States sometime between 1905 and 1906. They arrived with their eldest child, Anders (seen on the donkey), and settled on a farmstead in Missouri. Three more children—Simone, Frikke, and Mathilde (center, right, and in the wagon, respectively)—soon followed. This photo, taken in 1916, captures all four of the children a few weeks before the tragedy.
The three eldest kids were apparently playing fort in the hay barn and must have fallen asleep. Their father, Niclas, drove a wooden haysweep into the pile and dismembered all three, in locations accurately suggested by the flaw in the photo.
Mathilde, the youngest, was inside the house with her mother at the time and not hurt. According to the son of a neighbor later interviewed by the author, the donkey later died in equally hideous fashion by getting its head caught in a barbwire fence and nearly decapitating itself in the frenzy to get free. This final detail could not be corroborated.
The Specter of Viola Peters
Viola Peters was a wellborn spinster who lived alone in the small rural town of McCaysville, Georgia. She was much loved in her community for her charitable contributions to the Baptist church, the soup kitchen, and the local orphanage, especially during the depression, when those institutions subsisted almost entirely on her largesse.
In July 1935, Viola was brutally raped and murdered by a drifter named Tom Cullin, who had worked briefly at the nearby copper refinery. Cullin proceeded to stay on in Viola’s house and savage her corpse for an additional seventeen days before he was caught and captured. A posse of enraged locals stormed the county jail, took Cullin, and lynched him from the old bridge over the Toccoa River.
This photo was taken by Garrett Killian, a witness to the lynching, and caused quite a stir when it was published a few days later in The Atlanta Constitution. To most, it suggested that Viola’s spirit achieved some measure of peace by attending her killer’s execution, but some twisted minds saw in her forlorn countenance a longing to get one last look at her one and only lover.
The Ghost of Sarah Eustace
Danvers State Hospital (formerly Danvers State Lunatic Asylum) was a Kirkbride-style psychiatric hospital built in 1874 on what was then an isolated site in rural Massachusetts.
Like all Kirkbridge asylums, it was famous for its gothic architecture and its use of now outdated medical techniques to treat insanity. Danvers is often cited as the birthplace of the pre-frontal lobotomy.
Danvers has several other claims to fame. It was the inspiration for the fictional “Arkham Sanatorium” that appeared in several stories by H.P. Lovecraft and which, in turn, inspired the “Arkham Asylum” in the fictional Batman universe. It was also where the cult horror film Session 9 was filmed.
That film put the vast network of tunnels beneath Danvers to good cinematic effect. It’s no accident the filmmakers chose to use the tunnels, as rumors of their haunting had dogged Danvers for over a hundred years. The most famous story concerns Sarah Eustace, a patient who escaped her ward in 1955 and snuck into the tunnel system. Despite multiple searches, and a week-long lockdown of the asylum, Sarah was never seen again. It was assumed she died down there, lost, thirsty, and alone.
A nurse at Danvers named Gail Malloy became obsessed with Sarah’s story and spent many of her off hours searching the tunnels for her remains. Though she never found a body, she did snap this photo in late 1966, which suggests Sarah Eustace walks the Danvers tunnels to this very day.
The Stevenson Family Portrait
Who says ghosts don’t have a sense of humor? The Stevensons were a wealthy Boston family, proud of the industry and longevity with which most the clan was blessed. This portrait, taken in 1945, was an effort to gather the oldest Stevensons, together with one of the youngest. Emelia (center), aged 102, was granted the honor of “Matriarch,” while little Ophelia was the token child at eighteen months.
What the Stevensons did not realize until this photo was developed was that they had been joined that day by one of their deceased. James Pullman Stevenson (1835-1932), seated at left between his niece Ginny and his cousin Alfred, was easily identified by several of those present, and remembered fondly as a rascally uncle known for pranks and dirty jokes.
The Disappearances of Mrs. Yurno
During her later years, Josephine Yurno would take a walk every evening at dusk around her beloved neighborhood in Norwich, Connecticut.
On November 12, 1935; she set out as usual and never returned. Extensive searches were conducted by a large team of volunteers and the Norwich police force but no sign of her was ever found.
Three years later, Mrs. Yurno was found squatting in front of a neighbor’s house, without a mark on her body and in perfect health. When asked where she had been, Mrs. Yurno was unable to understand the question. From her point of view, no time had passed at all.
Against the advice of her neighbors and her doctor, she refused all medical treatment and resumed her life as if nothing had ever happened, including her nightly strolls on the beach. Another neighbor snapped this shot of her in the fall of 1938. Clouds of smoke from piles of burning leaves give it an appropriately eerie feel. On the same date in November, 1940, five years after her initial disappearance, Mrs. Yurno vanished again. This time she was never seen again.
The Fate of Sally York
The 1912 threshing of little Sally York, aged 9, in the cotton loom of the North Fork Textile Mill was one of a handful of such accidents that helped legislators push through the Keating-Owning Act of 1916, the first child-labor law in American history.
From the time of the accident until the mill’s closing four decades later, workers consistently complained of cold spots, strange noises, and sudden taps on the shoulder when nobody was near.
The mill’s foremen never paid these complaints any mind until this photograph surfaced in 1932. It was taken by a traveling photographer named Benny Johnson, who promptly sold it to the North Fork Gazette for an unprecedented ten dollars. The mill had shut down for the Christmas holidays and was empty at the time. The photo was later blamed for the closing of the mill though the Great Depression was the more likely cause of that.
Lily Palmer’s Eyes
Lily Palmer was not quite 4 when she experienced what her doctors would later call an "acute onset of sensory hallucinations.” This photo, taken by Lily’s mother Annette on Halloween night, 1952, purportedly captures the arrival of her disorder. Lily and her Filipino nanny were setting out for a round of trick or treating when the child suddenly screamed and began to claw at her eyes.
It was some time before she was calm enough to speak, but when asked what she saw, Lily repeatedly spoke about “things crawling in her eyes.” Several days later, while unsupervised in her bedroom, Lily punctured both of her eyes with one of her mother’s knitting needles.
After receiving medical treatment, she was evaluated and committed, and remained institutionalized for the rest of her life, first at Bellevue (on the East Side of Manhattan), and later at the Rockland Psychiatric Center in Orangeburg, where she remained until she died of heart attack in March 2001. A call to one of her former caregivers at Rockland confirmed that Lily’s episodes were most traumatic on and around Halloween night, but for the majority of her life she could be heard begging and pleading with the staff to help her “get these things out of her eyes.”
The Trinity Deception
This is one of several famous photographs taken of the first ever nuclear detonation. Conducted by the U.S. Army on July 16, 1945, in the White Sands Proving Ground (located in the Jornada del Muerto desert, about 35 miles southeast of Socorro, New Mexico), the setting off of this “implosion-design plutonium device” (the same method used in the “Fat Man” device dropped on Nagasaki) ushered in the Atomic Age and the eventual arms race between the United States and Russia.
Only a handful of people were aware that this photo was cropped before it was ever released to the public and they are all now dead. One of them was the original photographer, who gave the author a copy of the original on the condition that it be kept out of the public eye until such a time that the citizens of the world could handle the ramifications of what it depicts. The author remains uncertain whether this criteria has been met, but given that he likely owns the last extant copy, he has decided his responsibility rests with the truth.
I expected a lot of doubt with regards to these photos. I have a lot myself, so I'm not going to debate every skeptic, or defend every photo, but for what it's worth, this is the text of an actual letter written by the Axeman to a local newspaper:
March 13, 1919
They have never caught me and they never will. They have never seen me, for I am invisible, even as the ether that surrounds your earth. I am not a human being, but a spirit and a demon from the hottest hell. I am what you Orleanians and your foolish police call the Axeman. When I see fit, I shall come and claim other victims. I alone know whom they shall be. I shall leave no clue except my bloody axe, besmeared with blood and brains of he whom I have sent below to keep me company.
If you wish you may tell the police to be careful not to rile me. Of course, I am a reasonable spirit. I take no offense at the way they have conducted their investigations in the past. In fact, they have been so utterly stupid as to not only amuse me, but His Satanic Majesty, Francis Josef, etc. But tell them to beware. Let them not try to discover what I am, for it were better that they were never born than to incur the wrath of the Axeman. I don‘t think there is any need of such a warning, for I feel sure the police will always dodge me, as they have in the past. They are wise and know how to keep away from all harm.
Undoubtedly, you Orleanians think of me as a most horrible murderer, which I am, but I could be much worse if I wanted to. If I wished, I could pay a visit to your city every night. At will I could slay thousands of your best citizens, for I am in close relationship with the Angel of Death. Now, to be exact, at 12:15 (earthly time) on next Tuesday night, I am going to pass over New Orleans. In my infinite mercy, I am going to make a little proposition to you people.
Here it is: I am very fond of jazz music, and I swear by all the devils in the nether regions that every person shall be spared in whose home a jazz band is in full swing at the time I have just mentioned. If everyone has a jazz band going, well, then, so much the better for you people. One thing is certain and that is that some of your people who do not jazz it on Tuesday night (if there be any) will get the axe.
Well, as I am cold and having to take a shit; I crave the warmth of my native Tartarus, and it is about time I leave your earthly home, I will cease my discourse. Hoping that thou wilt publish this, that it may go well with thee, I have been, am and will be the worst spirit that ever existed either in fact or realm of fancy.