The Curse Of Tippencanoe
This particular curse is very old - about 1840 is where it starts, but the true beginning is about 30 years older. At the battle of Tippecanoe, William Henry Harrison defeated Tecumseh, the beloved chief of the Shawnee people, after creating incredibly unfavorable treaties with the native people. This drastically increased the land the United States had west of the Indiana territory, but was incredibly unfair to the native Americans, angering Tecumseh and his brother, Tenskwatawa.
After Tecumseh perished, Tenskwatawa cursed William Harrison (who eventually became president of the United States) and anyone who held his office on an anniversary of his election. Sure enough, William Henry Harrison died in 1841, just under a month after being elected, from a cold he caught during his inauguration in the rain.
- After William, the next president elected on a year that ended in 0 (1860) was none other than Abraham Lincoln, who was shot and killed by John Wilkes Booth.
- In 1880, James A. Garfield was elected president, and in 1881, he was shot and killed by Charles Guiteau, an insane man who went on to be a media sensation at the time because of his ridiculous antics.
- At the 1900 election, William McKinley was elected for a second term, but died after being shot by Leon F. Czolgosz in 1901.
- Warren G. Harding, elected in 1920, died of a stroke while out on tour.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt, elected for his 4th term, died of a brain hemorrhage in 1945. Interestingly, he was the only president elected for 4 terms - had he not been, the curse would not have been fulfilled.
- 1960 saw the election of John F. Kennedy, the youngest man ever to be elected president, and 1963 saw him murdered by Lee Harvey Oswald.
- The curse is finally broken (in theory) by Ronald Reagan, who has an attempt on his life in 1981, a year after being elected. In addition, he also survived colon cancer while in office, which suggests that the curse may have ended. It is often attributed to the fact that, during his governorship of California, Reagan refused to agree to a very major, very lucrative dam project that would have flooded native lands. When asked, he said "we've already broken enough treaties with the Indians".
It's worth noting that the next president elected in a 0 year was George W. Bush. Though an assassination was attempted, he was completely unharmed. Whether this suggests the curse weakened, skipped Reagan for some reason, or this is completely unrelated though is up for debate.
Only 1 other president died in office and not in a year ending in 0 - Zachary Taylor. Taylor, however, also fought against Tecumseh, so it's not outside the realm of possibility that the curse got its revenge on him as well.
The Cornstalk Curse/The Virginia Triangle
Chances are good that if you live in northwest West Virginia, southwest Pennsylvania, or the Southeastern part of Ohio, you are aware of some aspect of this curse. Centuries ago, the native Americans believed this area was haunted, evil, and filled with creatures that were far more exotic than simply non-native species. Stories passed down of mysterious animals, malevolent spirits, phantom lights, and disappearing or rearranging landscapes, speak to the history and legendary status of this region. Regardless of if the land itself is special (there are theories that it is a "thin spot" between worlds, where creatures not native to our universe slip through and then back, leading to the mysterious sightings in the region), there is a single point in history where it most likely the true nature of the curse began.
In 1777, as a well-treated hostage of the fort at Point Pleasant, Chief Cornstalk of the Shawnee was brutally murdered alongside his son and several other Shawnee men, in revenge for an ambush by a completely unrelated band of Native Americans on a hunting party from Point Pleasant. As he lay dying, Cornstalk uttered a curse - a blight against the land, its future prosperity, and its people.
In 1794, the town of Point Pleasant was erected where the old fort stood, and where the bones of Cornstalk were interred. They were moved twice, and a monument established in his honor, but at the same time, another monument - one celebrating the men who died in the battle preceding the peace talks which spurred Cornstalk's capture - was being built. This monument, however, was plagued with setbacks, including a freak lightning storm that came out of nowhere the day before it was to be christened. The storm repeatedly struck the monument and the crane that was to finish the capstone, damaging it and increasing the delay by a month. Strange, but not curse-worthy, necessarily, but it only gets more eerie. In addition to constant economic downturn and the recession of the local river commerce, the region has been plagued over the last 200 years by fires, floods, strange occurrences, and tragedy.
1907: The coal mine at Monogah, W. Virginia collapses, killing 310 men.
1944: A particularly brutal tornado kills over 150 people, all within the "Virginia Triangle" area.
1966-67: Locals of Point Pleasant begin reporting sightings of a huge, bipedal flying creature with large eyes set in its chest. It's seen in multiple locations, but most famously near the Silver Bridge, which tragically collapsed in 1967, killing 46 people. Around this time, there was a huge increase in reported UFO sightings, people anecdotally reporting premonitions (particularly regarding the bridge), an increase in haunting activity in the already heavily haunted area of Athens County, Ohio, and of course Mothman sightings. After the collapse of the bridge, a great deal of this activity seems to have died down, along with the Mothman itself - it hasn't been reported with any kind of regularity again.
1968: 35 people died when a Piedmont Airlines plane crashed near the Kanawha Airport.
1970: A Southern Airways plane crashed near Huntington, West Virginia. All 75 people on board died.
1976: Harriet Sisk, in jail for murdering her baby, was killed when her husband came to the Point Pleasant jail with explosives and blew himself, her, and 3 police officers up.
1978: A train carrying toxic waste derailed in Point Pleasant, poisoning the wells and land all around the city.
1978: North of Point Pleasant, St. Mary's was struck with tragedy when it lost 51 men working on the Willow Island power plant. The scaffolding they were standing on collapsed, sending them plummeting to the ground below.
Though the region has never returned to its former economic status before the collapsed of the iron industry and river commerce, the catastrophic tragedies seemed to have died down after the 200 year mark of Chief Cornstalk's death. Though the region continues to be one of the most actively haunted in the country (next to maybe Atchison, Kansas, which is a whole article unto itself), perhaps we can safely assume that Chief Cornstalk is finally at peace.
Might not be a bad idea to knock on wood,though, just in case.
Busby's Cursed Stoop Chair
This one is a little strange, even by curse standards. A counterfeiter named Daniel Auty had a farm,a lucrative counterfeiting hobby, and a beautiful daughter named Elizabeth, all nestled in the quaint English town of Kirkby Wiske, in 1702. Thomas Busby was a local drunk who had a stoop, and on that stoop, he had a rocking chair that he loved. Elizabeth met Thomas and they fell in love, engaged to be married, and Daniel wasn't exceptionally keen on the idea.
One day, Daniel came to Elizabeth and Thomas to forbid them to marry, but of course Thomas was out drinking, and so Daniel decided to wait, wanting to confront Busby and make his wishes known. When Thomas came home, drunk as can be, he and Daniel got into a fight, but not about Elizabeth. Busby was enraged that Daniel was waiting for him in his favorite chair, and that boiled over into a drunken rage that left Daniel bludgeoned to death and eventually lead Busby to the gallows. Before he died, presumably at the request of "why did you do it?", Busby damned Auty, and went further, cursing anyone who would sit in his favorite chair, so naturally the innkeeper renamed the Inn the "Busby Stoop Inn" and marketed the murder-chair to anyone who would listen. This actually brought in a lot of clientele who were interested in seeing a chair so fine as to inspire bludgeoning, but this is where the curse comes into play. Over the years, it's suggested that as many as 70 people died at the hands - well, legs I guess - of this chair's infamous curse. A short list of modern deaths includes:
- A young workman who was dared to sit in the chair at lunch by his work crew. Later that day, he fell off a roof and died.
- A man who was to be married the next day sat in the chair to prove he had no fear. He was mugged that night returning home from drinking with his friends and murdered.
- Two men sat in the chair and were killed when the boat they were fishing in later that day capsized.
- Tired now of the reputation of the chair, the innkeeper moved it into the cellar, but a deliveryman inquired about it and then, obviously, sat in it despite warning. Later that evening he lost control of his truck and crashed, killing him instantly.
- In the months prior to and during WWII, many airmen from the local base sat in the chair, a show of bravado before deployment, and none that sat in the chair returned home.
- A young chimney sweep got drunk at the inn and left that night after having sat in the chair, but was found the next day, impaled on the wrought-iron fence of the inn.
- The last deaths directly linked to the chair were two servicemen who, over the course of a night, continuously dared each other to sit in the malevolent piece of furniture. One gave in and sat for just a second, but it was enough to cause their car to crash on the way home, killing both of them.
Today the chair is mounted about five feet high on a wall in the local museum, for fear that anyone else sit in the thing. It still draws tourists, just not to their deaths.
The Sorry Stones Of Ayers Rock
Possibly the most widely recognized landmark of Australia is Ayers Rock, also known as Uluru. It's a gorgeous spot to be certain, standing tall against the backdrop of waving grassland, and the spot is of vital spiritual significance to the aboriginal peoples of Australia.
Though there are no supernatural legends, sightings, happenings, or directly-spoken-of curses regarding the area, the natives are strict to warn that nothing should be taken from Uluru. There's not a "or else" - it's just assumed you would listen to them and respect their wishes, but of course, not many tourists are the friendliest to the places they tour, and so thousands of rocks have been taken over the years. A curious thing, however, is that since the 1970s, at least 1 rock is returned to the park daily, sometimes dozens, via post. Some are simply in a box, some are accompanied by apology letters, and yet others have detailed descriptions of the tragedy and misfortune that befell them after taking the rock. Stories of illness, financial ruin, divorce, emotional distress and anxiety, death, and accidents are very common. We're not talking about stubbed toes or misplaced keys. The reasons for the rocks' return are very serious, and at the rate they're sent back, it sounds like nobody listens until its too late.
In any case, if you're ever at Ayers Rock, it's probably best to just take pictures.
The Curse Of The Warlord Tamerlane
In 1941, at the behest of Joseph Stalin himself, a team of anthropologists traveled to Uzbekistan, in search of the tomb of the legendary 14th century warlord Tamerlane. Though there's not a lot of certainty why this was so important, what matters is that Stalin had the national hero of Uzbekistan disinterred and inspected, despite the warnings of local Muslim clerics. Though a lot was discovered about the man - his genetic origin, his size, what he was buried with - what really mattered was that, on his tomb was written "When I return to the living, the world shall tremble". A further inscription on the inner tomb read "He who disturbs my stillness will bring forth a warlord greater than I".
Despite what are pretty clear instructions for not inciting a horror-curse, Stalin's men dug Tamerlane up, and three days later (exactly to the day the clerics warned about) Adolf Hitler launched his invasion of Russia, Operation Barbossa, the largest war offensive in world history. By the end of the attack, over 20 million Russians were dead, the largest death toll of an country in history from a war.
At the urging of what I can only assume is overwhelming logic, Stalin had the body of Tamerlane reburied with full Islamic ceremony, stating that it should never be disturbed again. This was done in November of 1942, and immediately following the Red Army launched Operation Uranus, turning back the Nazis, driving them from Russian and effectively turning the favor of the war to the Allied Forces. It's not to say that Tamerlane's curse was real, but if it's not, that's a pretty hefty coincidence, and if it is real, then it's one of the most devastating curses in the history of the world.
When discussing curses, it's often a glass-half-full, glass-half-empty proposition. Most things attributable to curses can be chalked up to coincidence, but sometimes coincidence can be overwhelmingly unfavorable. Curses like the handful of deaths surrounding James Dean's car, Little Bastard, are so limited in their scope that, though famous, are not as terrifying or as far reaching as curses like Cornstalk's. Though the Hope Diamond has allegedly killed a handful of people, it's fairly easy to dismiss the claims as misfortune, or unlucky accidents. When, however, a curse envelops a successive line of presidents, or damns an entire countryside, or affects thousands of people to the point where they go out of their way to mail rocks back to a much larger rock, then you have to question just what you believe in regards to curses. How far-reaching can they be? If they're real, just what kind of ill will can drive something to cause sorrow and misfortune for hundreds of years? Perhaps it's simply believing in the power of a curse that gives a curse power, but whether or not that's true, you won't catch me disinterring ancient warlords, taking Australian rocks, or sitting in murder-chairs anytime soon.