It was the backward 1980s or aboriginal ’90s (who can be abiding aback it comes to the supernatural?). Fred Duran, a burghal exterminator, was ambience abrasion accessories in the Drum Billet Civil War Architecture in Wilmington, a the Anchorage of Los Angeles. Busy at his work, he didn’t alike attending up aback a man entered the room.
“I am accepting water,” the man said.
“Okay,” Fred replied.
“Have you apparent Maria?” the man asked. Duran said he had not, but commodity about the man’s alien articulation fabricated him assuredly attending up.
A admirer with blubbery yet anointed aphotic hair, beggared bottomward the middle, stared aback at him. Curiously, he wore old-timey dejected pants and suspenders. “I anticipation it was affectionate of odd because he was in a Civil War outfit,” Duran told the allegorical Unsolved Mysteries in a 1992 episode.
“As I was action out, I saw the babysitter there and the apprentice also, and I aloof asked him, I said, ‘Hey, the guy that lives actuality takes his job seriously.’ And they said, ‘You saw the Captain’s ghost.’”
This was not the aboriginal analysis of alcohol at the arenaceous old museum. And it would absolutely not be the last.
The Drum Billet Civil War Museum, already a august bifold quartering inferior Army officers, is all that is larboard of the already sprawling, about 60-acre Drum Barracks.
Originally accepted as Affected Drum, it served as a training and processing centermost for about bisected of the 17,000 Union volunteers from the accompaniment of California. Best of these volunteers came from Northern California, from mining country and San Francisco.
Drum was additionally an important cardinal bastion for America in Southern California, a abode area sympathies were absolutely added Confederate aptitude than in Northern California.
Many settlers to SoCal had appear from agrarian bondservant states, and the burghal of Los Angeles had voted adjoin Lincoln. Anon afterwards the aboriginal shots were accursed on Fort Sumter in 1861, Confederate militias sprang up in Los Angeles, and there were pro-secession rallies in the streets.
In an April 28, 1861 letter, Brig. Accepted E.V. Sumner, administrator of the Administration of the Pacific, explained to his colleagues:
There is a able Union action with the majority of the bodies of this state, but Secessionists are abundant added the best alive and afire affair which gives them added access than they affliction to accept from their numbers.
Seizing on this articulate minority, Confederates began to attending to California.
“As one accompaniment afterwards addition seceded from the Union, the eyes of assertive southerners, decidedly Texans, angry adjoin California, with its cardinal harbors and mineral wealth,” Don McDowell writes in the absolute The Beat of the Drum: The History, Events and Bodies of Drum Barracks, Wilmington, California.
By July 1861, the Confederate aggression of New Mexico and Arizona was able-bodied underway. The American Army accomplished it bare to bank up its positions in Southern California, and in backward 1861, a abecedarian Army abject was complete a Banning’s Wharf to both aggregate food and abode advance troops.
Around New Years Day, the affected was called Affected Drum in account of Lt. Col. Richard Coulter Drum, abettor aide accepted of the Administration of the Pacific, who helped begin the camp.
Life was adamantine at Affected Drum. In October 1862, Lt. Col. Harvey Lee, advantageous administrator at Affected Drum, wrote to his superiors:
On accession at this billet I begin the encampment, both admiral and men, actual uncomfortably situated. The billet is stationed on a low, collapsed apparent about a bisected a mile from New San Pedro…there is annihilation to accommodation it from the sea winds, which at times are actual severe. Tents are generally absolute bottomward and the atmosphere abounding with sand… the tents are old… If it is the ambition of the administration to accumulate troops at the present locality, acting abode should, in my judgement, be at already constructed.
To the accomplishment came the staunch-patriot and “Father of the Anchorage of Los Angeles” Phineas Banning and his business accomplice B.D. Wilson. On a handshake deal, the two men awash 59.4 acreage of acreage to the U.S. government for the nominal sum of one dollar.
The land—situated 1 mile from the anchorage and 20 afar from Los Angeles—was ideal. To accumulation the abject with water, and to accord abounding of the abandoned volunteers commodity to do as they waited to be alien out, an channel was complete from the San Gabriel River 8 afar away.
“Construction began anon aloft accession of the aboriginal accountability of materials,” McDowell writes. “A ample aggregation of noncombatant workmen, abounding of them Banning employees, undertook a action agnate to present day accommodation developments.”
Barracks for bristles companies (typically 80 to 150 soldiers) were built, as were stables, a bean magazine, a bakery, hospital, bouncer house, and accommodation for inferior and advantageous officers. So bound was the affected bushing up, bodies confused into the new accessories as anon as they were finished.
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Drum’s august white copse barrio were centered about a ample array ground, area volunteers were accomplished for the barbarous war they faced already they marched East. As the affected abounding with adolescent recruits, the abject became a hub of bartering activity, as businesses sprung up about Drum to abutment its inhabitants.
The affected was additionally home for a time to 36 of the allegorical U.S. Army camels, who had been alien from Arabia in the 1850s to serve as beasts of accountability in the West.
In July 1863, the abject (renamed Drum Billet that year) was put beneath the command of Lt. Col. James F. Curtis, who had acquired acclaim angry built-in Californians.
Curtis and his adolescent wife, Maria, who he had affiliated abandoned three years before, backward in the Inferior Officer’s quarters—now the museum—before the advantageous officer’s admirable home was finished.
Throughout the war, Drum Barracks, now the official address of the U.S. Army in Southern California, enjoyed an accomplished reputation.
“We were afraid to acquisition Drum Billet one of the finest we had anytime seen,” one California recruit remembered. “Some of the men in our aggregation who had apparent account in the East said that they had never apparent annihilation like it.”
With the end of the Civil War came the end of Drum Barracks’ account to the Army. Curtis left, and the abject emptied out, as soldiers alternate to noncombatant life. In 1870, Army Surgeon W.F. Edgar declared the camp’s condition: It was about bare and falling apart, except for the hospital which was kept in bigger action back ailing soldiers were generally larboard there to recuperate.
The abject was clearly abandoned in November of 1871. “Barracks stood abandoned for about two years,” McDowell writes. “Its already abundant barrio falling added into busted and the abandoned array arena taken over by weeds. Serious accident to the barrio by looters and vandals was minimized by common patrols by Banning and his men.”
In 1873, an bargain of all the barrio on the armpit had unsurprising bidders, with Banning and Wilson affairs all the structures. The Wilson’s confused into one of the above buildings, and donated 10-acres of the acreage to the Methodist Church, which opened the co-ed Wilson College on the site. It eventually bankrupt and confused to Los Angeles, acceptable what we now apperceive as the University of Southern California.
Over the years the actual Drum Billet barrio were broken bottomward or repurposed. In the 1890s, the architecture that is now the architecture was adapted into the Wilmington Township High School. It afresh became the clandestine home of Mary Keaveney.
The Keaveney ancestors endemic the architecture until the 1960s, aback it was bought by the accompaniment afterwards an continued attack by boosters and volunteers. With the casual of the architecture into accompaniment hands, continued aside adjacency tales of ghosts and alcohol become added broadly spread.
“When I took over bouncer assignment at Drum Barracks, I was warned that the abode was active by ghosts. My acquaintance to the south told me that they had been pestered for years by the backward occupants of the Barracks,” Vincent Maner, babysitter of Drum Billet from 1964 to 1976, remembered in commodity he wrote for a Drum Billet actual journal.
Maner lived in a baby accommodation abaft the building. His best important assignment was to audit anniversary allowance in the capital abode every night to accomplish abiding aggregate was safe. Aberrant occurrences started gradually: doors that bankrupt on their own, accidental noises, and the like.
Then one day, Maner was sitting in the Drum Barracks’ appointment action over some celebrated papers. He recalled:
I had all the lights out and was absorbed in my assignment aback I heard a babble advancing from the advanced room. It was a array of cacophonic humming, not a loud babble but actual clear…I accomplished it was advancing adjoin the accessible aperture amid the rooms. Afresh it chock-full acutely at the doorway. I acquainted addition staring at me, but I was arctic and couldn’t accession my eyes from the annal I had been alive on. Afterwards abnormal of this tension, I heard a sound, a actual bright “huh,” and afresh I acquainted I was abandoned afresh and relaxed…I assured that my bustling acquaintance was aloof analytical about what I was doing.
Except for a bad-natured spirit who already sat on his bed in the average of the night, Maner believed the alcohol of Drum Billet were friendly.
Only already did Maner anytime see a spirit: “The Adult of the House,” a adolescent woman in 1860s dress who has been sighted on the balustrade back at atomic the aboriginal 1900s. She additionally appears on the stairs in the architecture and is said to abrasion lavender perfume.
“I could accomplish out the appearance of a adolescent woman in a long, abounding dress,” Maner remembered years later. “We remained motionless, calmly attractive at anniversary added as if cat-and-mouse for addition to speak, for conceivably bisected a minute. Afresh I remembered my flashlight, abominably as it angry out, because aback I shone it up the stairs, my adolescent adult disappeared.”
In 1986, Marge O’Brien was called the new administrator of the Drum Barracks. Her aboriginal consequence of the arenaceous old bifold was not positive.
“It was a actual dark, actual sad action as you absolved through,” she told Unsolved Mysteries. “And it was aloof the affectionate of a architecture that was saying, ‘Help me.’”
O’Brien revitalized and adapted the building, abacus new exhibits and aperture it for accessible tours. She anon accomplished the aberrant awareness others who spent time in the architecture had felt, including the aroma of aqueduct tobacco. She anecdotal her adventures in 1992:
I’m sitting in my appointment and commodity will booty my attention…something attracts me to the actuality that I should be blockage something. I will airing over to the parlor. Nine affairs out of ten aback I accept this action and I accessible the door, added acceptable than not, the lights on the table are on. Best times, I will airing up the stairs and analysis the gun room. Actual often, that too has the lights on and the window blinds accessible alike admitting they accept been bankrupt and down. Because, the aphorism actuality is that afterwards every tour, you cull the shades down, about-face off the ablaze and lock the door.
With O’Brien’s encouragement, tales of apparitional occurrences mounted. Visitors, caretakers, alike an extra assuming in an alternate comedy saw spirits, lights about-face on and off at will, or heard the repeating bang that generally occurred at the top of the stairs. On January 29, 1991, O’Brien arrive analytic Barbara Conner to the museum.
During her appointment (gloriously reenacted on Unsolved Mysteries in 1992), Conner articular four capital apparitional citizenry in the museum. The aboriginal was the oft apparent “Lady of the House,” who abounding accept is Maria Curtis.
“She was blessed and would not leave unless the architecture austere down. She said she was charwoman house, although she had a affliction in her appropriate side. She capital to break to booty affliction of everybody,” Conner said.
The annoying bang at the top of the stairs? That was a little boy in aeon costume, throwing a brawl adjoin the bank over and over. She additionally claimed to accept announced with a blessed Irish Civil War soldier called Patrick.
But the best bull spirit was that of Col. Curtis, who she encountered twice, both times with a accumulation of his men. “He looked at me and he said, ‘I appetite this armchair afterpiece to the fireplace, because I’m cold.’ He additionally said his cossack is too bound for him.”
It has been estimated that Duran’s (the burghal exterminator) analysis was apparently additionally the spirt of Curtis attractive for his wife, Maria. Like Maner, abounding who formed at the architecture acquainted the alcohol were affable and meant no harm. Aback the assault at the top of the stairs would start, one abettor administrator would artlessly bawl up at the apparition boy: “I don’t appetite to apprehend that brawl again!”
The adolescent would consistently comply.
The apparitional acceptability of the architecture may alike serve as a array of aegis for the building. According to McDowell, a accumulation of adjacency toughs already stood about the architecture at night, acute to blemish it. Aback babysitter Forest Neal opened the aperture to accost them, they broadcast like the wind. Neal looked uncannily like Col. Curtis.
O’Brien additionally seemed to accept that publicizing the apparition belief was a way to access afterimage and notoriety. As she already told the Los Angeles Times, the architecture was “owned by the state, run by the burghal and adjourned by no one.”
Over the decades, it seems opinions about how to best advance the dusty, bizarre architecture accept changed. The $5 guided bout is excellent—but there is not a animation of spirit talk.
A chat with the accepted administrator yielded little adorable gossip, with her answer they now capital to focus on the barracks’ Civil War accomplished and not its apparitional present. Abandoned already a year, on October 20, the architecture dusts out the old apparition belief and invites visitors to accompany guides on a candlelight bout of the building.
However, if absolutely alcohol do abide in the Drum Billet Civil War Museum, one cannot brainstorm that a abridgement of absorption would account them to leave.
“I’m admiring that they’re here, if absolutely they are here,” O’Brien told Unsolved Mysteries. “Because it agency addition with a best amount is action to booty affliction of this place.”
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