Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Franklin Castle - Chapter 9b

Table of Contents
Floor Plan

Chapter 9b

I could spend hours discussing the many rumors. Most ridiculous, some true. I heard a rumor how Hannes tortured and hanged a servant in a secret room. Authorities never found a body. A convenient story and without proof and over a hundred years old, that is hard to resist.
Coincidentally, documented accounts of missing children in the late 1800’s began to pop up in this section of Cleveland. I found no evidence to connect Hannes to any of these disappearances. Nevertheless, the point pauses for notice. These stories, passed down over the years, fuel the urban legends.
In 1895, Luise died. The official cause of death listed as liver failure. I have no reason to dispute this fact. After all, the premature death of so many of her children cannot be a positive impact on one’s health. They held Luise’s funeral in this parlor, right where we now sit. The coffin sat in front of the fireplace.
Creepy, right?
People continued to point a suspicious finger at Hannes. Too many deaths in the house and far too little accountability make the conjecture less ridiculous. Even if the incidents did not involve foul play, the people in this neighborhood did not welcome this sort of bad juju. Remember these were the blue bloods of Northeast Ohio.
Many stories suggested Hannes killed his wife, children, and even some of the servants in the house. I heard a story how a housekeeper attempted to steal jewelry, and Hannes strangled the servant and hid her body in a secret room somewhere in the house.
But, no one knows. Indentured help in those days disappeared often and went unnoticed.
A solitary man, Hannes ran Euclid Avenue Savings and Trust from his home. Even in the early days of the bank, he spent little time at the office. He managed the bank from a distance. After he moved into the Franklin Castle, his visits to the office became so rare, soon all his management of the business happened in writing and by courier.
Not long after Luise’s death, Hannes sold the house and moved into an even larger home on Lake Road. He lived in the house for 33 years, and some say he came back here to live after he passed on. After he left the home, he married a servant from the Franklin Castle. This raised several eyebrows in the community. The standard practice for a man in mourning was to wait a certain amount of time before courtship. Moreover, he fraternized with a common servant. How shameful.
Hannes had no family, his siblings, wife, and children all died. When he left the castle, there were not any close friends with whom to keep in touch. His managers at the bank never saw him as his involvement in the bank dropped dramatically when he moved into the house on Franklin Boulevard. Even his neighbors on Franklin Boulevard saw him so seldom, they would not recognize him if they passed him on the street.
Hannes died in 1908. The stories of Hannes’ atrocities did not end with his death. In fact, the stories increased in scope. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Hannes killed his own niece in a secret room under the house. This room served as a torture chamber. Supposedly, Hannes killed his insane niece in the room to avoid shame to the family.
Now, legend suggests Hannes returned to the Franklin Castle after he died.
Not many people know this, but when Hannes was a young man, he suffered an accident and doctors removed one leg at the knee. Hannes wore a false leg made of metal. The leg made a horrible hollow sound when he walked, and forced him to walk with a distinctive limp. There are documented accounts through the years of people who heard the sound of a hollow limp move up and down the main hallway, and then something pounded on the door. The story evolved to suggest he walked up and down the hall every night and looked for more children to kill. Many parents used the story of old Hannes to coax their children into bed.
Hannes sold the house to a family named Mullhauser. I found very little information regarding the Mullhauser’s stay in the Franklin Castle. We know in 1913, the Mullhauser’s sold the house to the American Socialist Party. According to all records, no one lived-in the house over the next fifty-five years they owned the house. The Socialists only used the house for parties, rallies, and meetings.
The minimal amount of information regarding this period is unfortunate. Officially, the American Socialist Party affiliated with their Bolshevik cousins in Russia. During this period in our history, Socialism was relatively unknown here. The group purchased the house four years before the Bolshevik Revolution, which saw the advent of the Soviet Union and communism in Russia. However, in this state of anonymity and ignorance by the American public, the organization began to flourish. Prior to World War I, the ASP elected two party members to Congress. The year before the ASP purchased the house, their presidential candidate even received over a million votes. However, the group’s ideology proved a mixed set. They differed from their cousins in Russia, and caused the party’s political agenda to split in a myriad of directions. In 1919, a rift formed in the organization and many of the Bolshevik supporters left to form their own group.
As the ASP weakened in the years before World War II, their ideology continued to shift and they adopted an identity of a similar new organization in another country. This new cousin organization: the Nazi Party in Germany.
Conjecture has it the American Socialist Party became domestic Nazi spies before and throughout the Second World War. As with anything connected with the Nazi’s, we love nasty rumors of bad things, the eternal bad guys, blamed for nearly every twentieth century malady.
I uncovered some chatter in old FBI documents about an execution of twenty people in the basement of the Franklin Castle. A lot of talk, however, no bodies or secret rooms corroborated this story.
Officially, the house remained empty all through that span of years. With a little research on my part, I found some evidence that suggested someone otherwise.
In the 1930’s, the Florence Nightingale Agency, a company that provided home care nurses, assigned a nurse to visit the castle three times a day to care for an aging attorney. The nurse made statements in a separate court deposition twenty years later regarding her employment at the house. After four months, she refused to set foot in the house again. In her words, the old man was evil as well as the people associated with the house. She heard the sounds of a child crying in the house. The deposition said nothing about ghosts, instead she feared terrible things current occurred to children in the house, and that is why she left.
Go to Chapter 9c
Return to Chapter 9a
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