Bicentennial Snapshot # 32 – Ghost Legends Of Greece NY

Today we will share some ghost stories that have been passed down over the years.

man in black crew neck t shirt holding jack o lantern
Photo by Yaroslav Shuraev on Pexels.com

Halloween is fast approaching and it’s the time of year traditionally set aside for tales of ghosts and haunted houses and other unaccountable phenomena. We don’t have to go far from home to find any number of stories about spirits from the world beyond. Today we’ll share with you a few of the stories that have been handed down over the years and even some hauntings of more recent vintage.

Our Mother of Sorrows Church has been designated by local ghost hunter and the author of Haunted Rochester, Mason Winfield, as the area’s “most significant” haunt. Mason Winfield’s Haunted Rochester is available on amazon.com or where ever books are sold

Haunted Rochester A Supernatural History of the Lower Genesee by Mason Winfield
Haunted Rochester A Supernatural History of the Lower Genesee by Mason Winfield
Our Mother of Sorrows Church photo Bill Sauers

Greece Legends: Enchanting Tales of Indains, a Pirate, a Peddler, Men, Women, Childern, Great Balls of Fire, The Death of the Light, Leperchauns and Ghost … these folk stories relate to the bodies of water along the lakeshore, and some come from Paddy Hill, evidencing the Irish Settlers’ love for bewitching tales. It has been said that exorcism was needed for a house on Island Cottage Road. Believe it or not here are the tales as they have been told.

Eight Miles Along the Shore, Chapter 16 Believe It or Not – Greece Legends Page 106

Four Handpicked Ghost stories from the Town of Greece

The Tale of Footsteps over Head

Told by a Custodian that worked at Mother of Sorrows

Interior of 1870 church from dorchurches.com
Our Mother of Sorrows Cemetery from Bill Sauers

One tale concerns the church custodian. Every night at 11:00 he took care of the furnace fire so that the church would be warm in the morning. One night as he was going about his chores in the church basement, he heard footsteps overhead, as if someone was walking up the aisle to the altar. He thought it was probably the priest and dismissed it from his mind. But the same thing happened again night after night and the custodian could think of no reason why the priest should be in the sanctuary every night. Finally, it got to be too much for the poor man to endure. He had to find out if it were indeed the priest walking above his head every night.

But he didn’t want to go upstairs to the church alone, so instead, he hurried down the path past the cemetery to the rectory. There he found the priest sitting in his study; he said that he had been there all evening reading. Now this custodian was not a superstitious man. He did not believe in ghosts and gave no credence to the stories he had been hearing about strange happenings around the church and cemetery. He was certain there must be some logical explanation for the footsteps in the church. Nevertheless, from that night on, the custodian fixed the fires at ten o’clock and he was never again bothered by the footsteps of the invisible walker.

The Phantom Man

Walter Whelehan

from Eight Miles Along the Shore book

The Whelehan family seemed to be particularly receptive to psychic phenomena; Walter Whelehan often told stories of phantoms they encountered. Their home was on Latta Road next door to Mother of Sorrows Church and his bedroom overlook the cemetery. He told of a phantom man who visited the Whelehan family on several occasions. He would stand at the corner of their driveway. One night Walter came home to find his parents in his darkened bedroom peering out the window.

As Walter approached the window, his mother asked him if he had seen anything unusual as he came in the drive. “No, I didn’t” Walter said as he knelt beside his father. When he looked out the window, he saw a man standing at the corner of the driveway where he had just turned in. The man wore a long, loose-fitting, dark-colored coat and a hat pulled down to shield his face. The three of them watched for a while, and then he just “drifted” away in the direction of the graveyard. This occurred again and again, until one night Walter could no longer stand it. He was determined to find out what would happen if he approached the figure. His parents begged him to leave it alone, saying that it might “draw him away.” Their pleading fell on deaf ears, however. Armed with a gun, young Walter started out. He said to his parents, “I promise not to leave the yard and if I do, call Chief Carter from across the street because I will be going against my will.” Cautiously, he walked down the driveway, never taking his eyes off the figure. At first, he could see the man quite plainly, but as he got about halfway to the road, the figure just “drifted” away as it had before. They never saw the phantom man again.

Walter Whelehan home courtesy of Alan Mueller
Black and White of Patty Hill Cemetary with a glow on the Tombstones by Douglas Worboys
Phantom Man

You’ll find more of Walter Whelehan’s ghost stories and others in chapter 16 named “Believe Or Not – Greece Legends of Yore” in Eight Miles Along the Shore available in the museum gift shop.

The Ghost of the Charlotte Genesee Lighthouse

Many people believe that the ghost of the Charlotte Lighthouse is Cuyler Cook. Although he was no longer the assistant keeper at the time of the accident that took his life, nevertheless he died while serving the light. By this time the light had been moved to the end of the Charlotte pier. During a terrible storm on the night of August 18, 1853, the current assistant light keeper and Cook’s cousin, Sam Phillips, was unable to reach the light alone. Cuyler Cook took it upon himself to row Phillips out to the light and hold the boat while the light was lit; sadly, while Phillips was attending to the pier light, Cook’s boat capsized in the rough waters, drowning him. Believers in the Charlotte Genesee lighthouse ghost—blamed for disembodied noises, footsteps, and sundry other mysterious happenings—attribute the disturbances to Cook.

Rocks of the Koda-Vista neighborhood

Koda Vista
Koda Vista
Front Page of The Greece Post from December 6, 1973, on nyshistoricnewspapers.org

But Who-done-It? Shower Ends, Phone’s Quiet…

On December 9, 1979, the Democrat & Chronicle ran an odd six-year-old story that first appeared in The Greece post. volume 7 – No. 29, December 06, 1973. On the front page of The Greece Post for December 6, 1973, the Headline reads “But Who-done-It? Shower Ends, Phone’s Quiet”. FYI there is a conflict of address between the two articles written by the two papers The Greece Post puts the address on Carmas Drive off of Weiland Road between Long Pond and Latona Road, and the Democrat and Chronicle story put the address on Corona Road in the Koda-Vista Neighborhood. The Greece Post reported the incident in question occurred at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Marrella. But there is more to the story. There will be a link to the Greece Post from December 6, 1973, for you to read and piece your own ideas of what could have happened in those four days. Can read the article in its entirety below at NY State Historic Newspapers website.

https://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn88074413/1973-12-06/ed-1/seq-1/

For several nights starting on Thanksgiving night in November 1973 and lasting for four days, a home in the Koda-Vista neighborhood was showered with rocks of varying sizes. None was bigger than a baseball. Of course, the authorities checked into every imaginable possibility for a logical explanation. Human vandals were the first suspected even with the slim chance that they could have remained hidden. But these rocks came from many directions. There would have had to have been secret caches of them all over the neighborhood, as well as a conspiracy of covert and well-timed hurlers. During one onslaught, the police came in full force, sealed off the tossing range, and combed it thoroughly. Not only was the search for throwers fruitless, but the assault kept up the entire time, even targeting police cars. Fortunately for all, the wonder was over in five nights.

According to the article, in the Greece Post, there were some other strange things that happened while the house was getting pelted by the rocks. Officers from the Greece Police brought four cars two offices in each of the four cars as well as two additional officers were stationed in the house with the Marrellas taking turns watching the house. Rocks kept coming even at 4 a.m. But that’s not all, the article also mentions that Marrellas’ telephone began ringing two nights before that and rang for hours at a time, with no one there when she answered. At the time she said she “wrapped it in a towel” and when she went back, the line was still open.

The telephoning bothered them for several nights and the rock pelting continued for four nights Damage included a broken window and gouged doors. Cars parked in the street were hit and so was a neighbor’s garage door.

With nerves still frayed, Mrs. Marrella said this week, “We still don’t have any idea where the rocks came from. This is a quiet Neighborhood. Everybody minds their own business. We don’t think we have any enemies. I say hello to my neighbors, and we like everybody.”

The Marrellas’ came to Greece from the city two years ago and had the house built “just the way we wanted it” They like Greece and want to stay.

roasted turkey on white ceramic plate
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com
Hurled Rocks
Hurled Rocks
gray rocks and mountains under the cloudy blue sky
Photo by Esequiel on Pexels.com

So, what caused this rocky rain?

Unlike typical ghostly or even UFO sightings, plenty of evidence was left behind. Where did so many flingable rocks come from? The oddest effect of this whole event was not the damage that was caused, but the damage that was not caused. Think of a random firing of stones; if you lobbed a couple hundred into an average neighborhood how many people do you think you might hit in a week? How many cars? This shower broke a few windows and gashed the sides of the house, but as far as it is known, no one was injured.

Closing Thoughts

Paranormal experts see the Greece case as a classic example of a poltergeist outbreak illustrating one of the distinguishing features of documented poltergeist outbreaks—people should have been hurt, could hardly have avoided being hurt—and they were not.

Thank you for joining us today. Next Two Tuesdays we will explore some extreme weather events over the years that affected the town of Greece starting with the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815 all the way up to the Ice Storm of 1991 and then most recently the wind storm of 2017.

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