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The Complete Guide to our 31 Days of Halloween

article-imageA 1970 halloween gathering in Fort Lauderdale (via State Library and Archives of Florida)

The day is finally here! After our macabre month of 31 Days of Halloween, we have arrived at the sinister celebration itself. It’s been a terribly disturbing and enlightening month, from the unspeakable horror of Necropants to the surprisingly salacious story behind why witches fly brooms.

Below we take you back on the month-long journey into the stories that show that truth really is more twisted and strange than any horror a mere fictional phantom could conjure. 

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DAY 1 — THE MUMMY EVERYONE FORGOT WAS REAL
by Allison Meier

The story of the six decades of posthumous wandering of a dead train robber, ending with a sideshow mummy that everyone forgot was real.

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DAY 2 — THE CURSED AMETHYST
by Allison Meier

Ever since it was stolen out of India during the Rebellion of 1857, this amethyst has brought its owners nothing but despair and devastation, with one owner even saying the best thing to do with the gem was cast it into the sea.

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DAY 3 — THE BOG BODIES
by Allison Meier

Want to have the future look upon your face? Your best bet is to be buried in a bog. Here we rounded up some of these natural mummies.

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DAY 4 — THE MYSTERIOUS MURDER OF THE BEAUTIFUL CIGAR GIRL
by Allison Meier

The mysterious murder of Mary Rogers, known in the penny press as the “Beautiful Cigar Girl,” in the summer of 1841 remains one of New York City’s most infamous unsolved cases. Even Edgar Allan Poe took a crack at solving it.

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DAY 5 — SKULL TOWER
by Allison Meier

A macabre tower 15 feet high in Nis, Serbia, was once covered with 952 skulls; 58 still remain embedded in the crumbling edifice to bravery in the face of death.

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DAY 6 — THE DANCE OF DEATH
by Allison Meier

Back in the 16th century, one of the most popular books was a macabre tome about the “dance of death.” This allegory that personified death as an ever-present omen of the inevitable end for everyone was illustrated in a series of woodcuts by Hans Holbein the Younger in 1526.

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DAY 7 — THE LIVING DEAD GIRL OF KENSAL GREEN CEMETERY
by Darmon Richter

A ghostly tale of a lost love resurrected in one of London’s most moody cemeteries — the Victorian era Kensal Green.

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DAY 8 — THE SHARK ATTACK NO ONE WAS EXPECTING, WHICH INSPIRED JAWS
by Sarah Blake

Summers in New Jersey are often associated with trips to the Jersey Shore, and it was no different back in 1916. But that July would be remembered as the summer of the Matawan Man-Eater, and would inspire the marine monster in Jaws.

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DAY 9 — WHO PUT BELLA IN THE WITCH ELM?
by Meg Van Huygen

In 1944, graffiti first appeared referring to a long unsolved murder where a woman’s skeleton was found in a tree. Since then, these words in large white letters have continued to reappear: WHO PUT BELLA IN THE WYCH ELM.

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DAY 10 — NECROPANTS
by Eric Grundhauser

These vile leggings made from human skin were the main component in an Icelandic magic ritual that was said to bring the caster unlimited wealth, although the requirements of the spell were so outlandish that simple back-breaking labor may have been a simpler alternative.

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DAY 11 — PREMATURE BURIAL
by Bess Lovejoy

Although it seems like the stuff of horror fiction today, people in previous centuries were very concerned about the possibility of ending up in a living tomb.

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DAY 12 — THE CORPSE OF A CAVE EXPLORER THAT BECAME A TOURIST ATTRACTION
by Allison Meier

Floyd Collins was a cave explorer who died once, and was buried four times, once as a tourist spectacle. 

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DAY 13 — DEATH CUTS THE LIFE-THREAD
by Allison Meier

Death is often depicted as a reaper of souls, harvesting lives by slicing them down with a scythe. In Munich, there’s an incredibly detailed and curious sculpture of death doing the job with scissors, the blades poised just before the final cut to the thread of life.

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DAY 14 — THE MINIATURE COFFIN OF CAPTAIN COOK
by Benjamin Breen

Captain Cook died a grisly death on the shore of Hawaii, and a lock of his hair was encased in this curious memento mori miniature coffin.

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DAY 15 — A THIEF’S SEVERED ARM & A COUNT BURIED ALIVE, ALL IN ONE PRAGUE CHURCH
by Elizabeth Harper

In St. James the Greater in Prague, a withered arm of a thief hangs from a hook on the ceiling, and in one of the church’s most ornate tombs, a count was buried alive.  

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DAY 16 — OF WOLVES AND MEN AND DELICIOUS LITTLE GIRLS
by Annetta Black

Werewolves and ferocious, monstrous lupine beasts are just part of a long instinctual fear of the Big Bad Wolf.

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DAY 17 — THE HAUNTED HISTORY & GHOSTLY MUSIC BOX OF AN AUSTRALIAN ASYLUM
by Darmon Richter

The abandoned Larundel Mental Asylum in Australia has been closed since the 1990s, but some still hear the whirring music of a spectral music box.  

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DAY 18 — FOUR JOBS FOR AN ANCIENT WITCH
by Edmund Richardson

In ancient Greece and Rome, witches were a fact of life, and magic was a way to control and make sense of a baffling and inscrutable world. Here we have four jobs an ancient witch might have been asked to take on. 

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DAY 19 — MAD MADAME LALAURIE, NEW ORLEANS’ SOCIALITE SERIAL KILLER
by Hannah Frishberg

New Orleans’ history is filled with belles and beauties, but few as immortal in legend as the ruthless Madame LaLaurie. 

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DAY 20 — THE HISTORY OF CANDY CORN: HALLOWEEN’S MOST ICONIC AND REVILED TREAT
by Eric Grundhauser

Halloween provides a cavalcade of whimsical scares for children and adults alike, but nothing chills the bones quite as much as the piles of candy corn left at the bottom of pumpkins and pillowcases across America.

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DAY 21 — THE DYATLOV PASS INCIDENT
by Meg Van Huygen

In 1959, nine Soviet hikers were found dead and appeared to have violently flung themselves out of their tents, and one hiker was discovered missing her tongue. The incident has never been solved.

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DAY 22 — JACK THE RIPPER MAY WELL HAVE BEEN A YANK
by Beth Abdallah

2013 marks the 125th Anniversary of the Autumn of Terror. To this day the identity of Jack the Ripper remains a mystery. However one lesser-known and viable suspect was a larger than life Irish American “doctor” by the name of Francis Tumblety.

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DAY 23 — A GUIDE TO FIVE GHOULISH GHOST SHIPS
by Meg Van Huygen

There have been a few cases in history where “ghost ships” have been found drifting with their crews nowhere to be found. Here we selected five of the most intriguing and unsettling.

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DAY 24 — SEX, DRUGS, AND BROOMSTICKS: THE ORIGINS OF THE ICONIC WITCH
by Dylan Thuras

Silhouetted against the moon, pointy hat pushed back by the wind, the witch on her magic broomstick is an iconic image. While the image can be found pasted in elementary schools throughout America, the story of why witches look they way they do, and why they fly on broomsticks, is a racier, lesser known tale.

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DAY 25 — GHOST IN THE RAINBOW
by Annetta Black

In the fog-shrouded heights of Northern Germany, there’s an optical illusion that makes you appear like a giant ghost in the middle of a rainbow. The apparition is called the Brocken Spectre. 

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DAY 26 — THE FLYING DUTCHMAN, HARBINGER OF WATERY DOOM
by Annetta Black

For centuries, stories of an enormous black ship, seen in flashes of lightning, and traveling at unnatural speed, have been passed down by sailors. Many claimed to have seen the legendary Flying Dutchman with their own eyes, telling tales of near misses and lucky turns of fate which spared them the watery fate of most who saw, but did not live, to tell. 

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DAY 27 — THE HANGING COFFINS ON THE CLIFFS
by Allison Meier

In areas of China, the Philippines, and Indonesia, the dead soar up above the living in hanging coffins on the cliffs.

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DAY 28 — WAITING FOR HOUDINI TO ESCAPE FROM DEATH
by Bess Lovejoy

Each Halloween, devotees gather at Harry Houdini’s grave to see if he’ll make one last impossible escape: from the grasp of death. 

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DAY 29 — RITUALISTIC SACRIFICE AND THE SON OF SAM: SATANIC WORSHIP IN AMERICA’S GREATEST FORGOTTEN GARDEN
by Megan Roberts

Hidden behind a great stone wall in Yonkers, New York, sits a long-forgotten garden masterpiece. Satanic scribblings and ominous graffiti appear on columns, towers, and decrepit walls; cryptic markings alluding to an occult past.

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DAY 30 — PIRATE BOOTY & THRICE CURSED ISLANDS
by Annetta Black

Did the infamous Captain Kidd’s treasure curse an innocent Connecticut island? Here’s the tale of the pirate who was hanged twice in 1701.

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DAY 31 — THE MYSTERIOUS PEDRO MOUNTAIN MUMMY
by Jeremy Fugleberg

In 1934, a strange tiny mummy was discovered in the hills of Wyoming. Years later, it again went missing.