Mysteries at the Museum (2010) Episode Scripts

N/A - The Spy That Saved Washington

1 A close encounter that stuns the world.
(woman) People were convinced these young men were truly abducted by aliens.
A bizarre trial for a feathered freak.
(woman) Kill it! Burn it! This creature was threatening to destroy the city.
And two families locked in a biter face-off.
(man) This is a story of the most vicious blood feud in American history.
These are the mysteries at the museum.
From classic cheesecake to thin-crust pizza, New York City is known for its mouth-watering cuisine.
The borough of Manhattan alone boasts more than 20,000 bars and restaurants, and set in the same building that houses Gotham's oldest watering hole is the Fraunces Tavern Museum.
Here, visitors can find pistols that belonged to a French marquis, a rare map depicting 1804 postal routes, and even a lock of George Washington's hair.
But there's one seemingly innocuous object that conceals an amazing tale.
(woman) The artifact is eight inches by ten inches.
The cover is this almost Venetian-style marble.
When you open it up, you'll see beautiful handwriting on this yellow, old paper.
It's seen a lot of time.
(Don) This memoir describes a courageous, covert mission that changed the outcome of the American Revolution.
(Jessica) This is a story of treachery, cunning, and espionage.
(Don) It's 1779.
The Revolutionary War is raging.
British general, Henry Clinton, and his army have just secured the island of Manhattan in New York City.
This strategic location provides the Redcoats with a slew of advantages, such as access for shipping and all manner of local merchants, from blacksmiths and fishmongers to farmers and tailors.
(Jessica) It was a major port and a key component into their hopeful victory in the war for independence.
(Don) With Manhattan under his control, General Clinton is ready to launch a mission he believes will win the war for the British-- capture and kill the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, General George Washington.
If you capture the commander-in-chief, you basically cut off the head of the serpent-- the war would be over.
That would be the end.
(Don) But it's no easy feat.
General Washington's encampment in Morristown, New Jersey, is defended by a garrison of 250 men.
Fire! George Washington was the most prized person of the Continental Army, so it was hard to capture him.
(Don) For months, General Clinton searches for ways to circumvent Washington's security.
Then, in January of 1779, he gets a hot tip.
According to an informant, George Washington has plans to leave his secure encampment for a top-secret meeting with Colonial officers.
For a brief period, General Washington will only be guarded by a small handful of troops.
If there was ever an opportunity for Clinton to capture Washington, this is it.
Now the hunt is on.
(Don) To prepare for this critical mission, General Clinton's men stock up on guns, ammunition, and new uniforms.
Some soldiers even visit a Manhattan tailor to get their jackets spruced up in honor of what is sure to be a history-defining moment.
The British would've felt excited to capture him.
They thought they were about to make a major turning point in the war.
(Don) General Clinton's army travels out to intercept Washington as he makes his way to the secret meeting.
But when the men arrive, Washington never shows.
They were told where George Washington was, and he wasn't there.
The British would've felt shocked.
(Don) The British are mystified.
They cannot fathom why Washington did not show up as planned.
(Jessica) Somehow, George Washington was able to escape the British attempt to capture him.
(Don) Washington's miraculous escape becomes one of the biggest mysteries of the Revolutionary War.
But then, three years later, in 1783, when the British are defeated and the war finally comes to an end, Washington makes an incredible announcement.
He had a spy embedded deep among the Redcoats.
General George Washington was working behind the scenes as a spymaster.
(Don) When the Revolutionary War began, Washington established a top-secret spy network.
It recruited members of the public who lived close to British encampments-- these informants were asked to observe the Redcoats, glean whatever information they could about troop movements, and report back to the Continental Army.
One such mole was, in fact, a humble tailor.
His name was Hercules Mulligan.
Mulligan presented himself as a loyal supporter of the crown, who counted many British military men among his customers.
So when a British officer walked into his store and boasted about a plot to capture Washington, Mulligan seized the chance to help his fellow patriots.
Hercules Mulligan gave the information to the Continental Army.
(Don) It was because of this warning that Washington changed his plans and ultimately evaded capture.
Hercules Mulligan was definitely a hero of the Revolutionary War, helping to save the life of George Washington.
(Don) Today, this memoir recounting Mulligan's fearless acts of espionage, can be found at the Fraunces Tavern Museum.
It tells the story of the tattletale tailor who saved the American Revolution.
Basel, Switzerland.
This ancient city boasts an eclectic mix of architecture, ranging from 12-century gothic cathedrals to towering modern skyscrapers.
And based in one of its oldest buildings is an institution that celebrates the city's rich heritage-- the Basel Historical Museum.
The collection includes a battle-worn bronze cannon from 1476, a silver-and-gold-plated bust of a Catholic saint, and models depicting the suffering of Black Plague victims in the 15th century.
And among these storied relics is one item that's linked to perhaps the most bizarre tale in European history.
It's about 25 inches tall.
It's made of gold and silver.
It's engraved quite delicately.
Its base is a frightening-looking creature, which is half-rooster and half-dragon.
(Don) This intricately-designed goblet tells of an incredible incident that pitted man against monster.
This creature was threatening to destroy the city.
[muffled screaming] It's 1474 in Basel, Switzerland.
Residents here lead a quiet, humble existence farming the land and raising livestock, but their world is about to be turned upside-down.
According to legend, one day, a local farmer is tending to his chickens when he discovers something alarming-- his rooster has laid an egg.
A male chicken is not meant to lay an egg.
This was very, very strange.
[rooster crows] (Don) Unsure of what to make of this strange incident, the farmer asks the town's leaders for guidance.
The elders examine the fowl and its improbable egg.
(Joshua) The local authorities in Basel didn't know what was going on, but they were very suspicious of anything unusual.
(Don) It seems there are two possible theories to explain this odd occurrence.
On the one hand, it could be just a harmless freak of nature.
(Joshua) This rooster can be nothing more than the victim of some kind of medical complaint.
(Don) But the second possibility is chilling.
(Joshua) The authorities thought what this may well represent was the interference of the devil.
(Don) Folklore says that a rooster that lays an egg has made a pact with Satan, and that its offspring will grow into a terrifying creature called a basilisk.
(Joshua) A basilisk is half rooster and half dragon, and it breathes fire so that it can scorch anything in its path.
[muffled screaming] But even stranger and even more dangerous, it can kill anything or anyone with just a glance.
(Don) If this horrifying prophecy comes to pass, the egg could hatch at any moment.
The local people are absolutely terrified.
If this thing existed inside this rooster's egg, it threatened to destroy Basel.
(Don) As the panic grows, the town elders don't know what to do.
Was this merely a fluke, or is a dark, Satanic plot brewing? They had to find out whether that egg was laid with evil intent.
(Don) The authorities come up with an unorthodox scheme to solve the mystery.
They reason that the only way to uncover the truth is to do it in a formal court of law.
It was decided to put that animal on trial just as you would a human being.
(Don) So what will be the outcome of this bizarre trial? [rooster crows] It's 1474.
In the Swiss town of Basel, according to legend, a rooster has done the impossible-- laid an egg.
Locals believe this is the work of the devil, and they put the bird on trial.
So what will the verdict be in this feather-brained case? The peculiar trial captures the public's imagination.
(Joshua) The rooster was placed in the courtroom.
The egg was placed in the courtroom.
Procedurally, this would not have been very different to a modern court case.
(Don) One lawyer defends the rooster, claiming it is nothing more than an unfortunate freak of nature, while the prosecution argues that the bird is in league with the devil, and that the egg it laid contains a basilisk.
The judge listens intently to both sides.
Finally, the time comes for him to render his verdict.
[shouting indistinctly] Quiet! Quiet in the courtroom! Quiet! These are very tense moments for the rooster.
(Don) After weighing the arguments, the judge cries foul.
That rooster is guilty! (Joshua) He found the rooster guilty of the heinous crime of laying an egg that contained a basilisk.
(Don) Before the cock can fly the coop, he is given the only sentence that will definitively rid the town of its devilish influence.
If you burnt the rooster to death at the stake, then you cleansed the evil.
(man) Burn it! (Don) That night, the whole town comes out to watch the bird's execution.
The rooster, along with the egg it laid, is burned at the stake.
(Joshua) The people must have felt very, very relieved.
Now that the danger had been averted, now that the basilisk was not going to take over their town.
(Don) The astonishing event makes such an impression on the city that the basilisk becomes Basel's permanent symbol.
It is depicted on statues, in paintings, and on items, such as this goblet at the Basel Historical Museum.
Nowadays, you see it all over the place.
It's in the coat of arms.
It's something that's very, very close to the heart of the people of Basel.
(Don) But was the rooster's crime really an act of Satan? Modern scientists have an explanation that proves the bird's innocence.
Some hens can experience a hormone imbalance that causes them to display the same kind of colorful feathers seen on roosters.
If such a female bird were to lay an egg, it would appear to the casual observer that a rooster had laid an egg, when really, it was just a hen with male plumage.
This rooster actually wasn't a rooster at all.
(Don) And today, this ornate golden goblet in the collection of the Basel Historical Museum, recalls the terrifying tale of a possessed bird and the egg that wasn't all it was cracked up to be.
New York State's Thousand Islands region is made up of 1,864 islands, many of them accessible only by boat, so it's no surprise that the area is home to an institution dedicated to watercraft-- The Antique Boat Museum, located in Clayton, New York.
Its collection includes a 23-foot hydroplane cruiser from 1929, a custom-built racer featuring a Rolls-Royce aircraft engine, and a 30-foot mahogany power boat that once held the world's speed record on water.
But among these hulking exhibits is a modest vessel.
(woman) It's 15 feet long, 2.
5 feet wide.
It's painted light blue with a metal bottom that's rusted from years of being in the water.
(Don) This corroded canoe recalls a terrifying and unexplained tale of outer space abduction.
(Stefani) This story rates in the top alien encounters in American history.
[dramatic music] (Don) 1988, Beverly, Massachusetts.
Anthony Constantino is a professional therapist.
specializing in hypnotic regression.
His practice involves placing a patient into a trancelike state to help them explore painful memories.
Constantino believes this method helps patients recover from a variety of psychological trauma.
But he's about to get his strangest case yet.
One day, Constantino receives an unsettling visit from a 35-year-old struggling artist named Jim Weiner.
Weiner says he recently suffered a head injury and that ever since, he has been plagued by a recurring nightmare.
In the dream, he is paralyzed, unable to speak, and trapped in a room he doesn't recognize.
And most disturbing of all, he is being tortured.
Weiner's dreams were terrifying.
He felt out of control, and it was only getting worse.
(Don) Constantino suspects that Weiner's nightmares are caused by some sort of repressed, traumatic memory.
(Stefani) Constantino could tell that this was a terrified man with unresolved secrets, and he had the ability to help him.
(Don) To isolate the memory, the therapist hypnotizes Weiner and places him in a trance.
Within minutes, the man begins recounting the events of a vacation in Maine he had taken more than ten years earlier.
Weiner says that he and his brother, along with two friends from art school, were night fishing when they noticed something strange in the sky.
They saw an orb, an orb that was glowing.
It was green and red and whitish-yellow.
(Don) According to Weiner, the men watched in horror as the glowing orb moved towards them.
They desperately struggled to get back to shore but couldn't move fast enough.
Then, the unthinkable happened.
They were suddenly engulfed in brilliant light and floated up to a spacecraft.
(Don) Weiner describes suddenly being naked and strapped to a table in a strange room.
Then, he says, two bizarre beings approached him.
They were tall with grayish skin and unblinking, metallic black eyes.
(Don) Constantino listens intently as Weiner relays his amazing tale and then comes to the most chilling part.
The artist says that the creatures began to torture him and subjected him to a barrage of invasive tests all over his body.
They began to examine him, probing him with their thin, insect-like fingers.
[distant shouting] (Don) Finally, after three hours of hypnosis, Weiner emerges from the trance.
He is shaken by the vivid and terrifying memories.
Constantino is equally stunned.
This was remarkable, because Constantino had never, in his entire profession, experienced anything like this.
(Don) In the aftermath, Constantino becomes obsessed with finding out if Weiner's out-of-this-world visions were real, and the only way to do it is to put Weiner's brother and two friends through the same hypnotic regression treatment.
So what will the intrepid therapist discover? It's 1988 in Beverly, Massachusetts.
A hypnotherapist named Anthony Constantino is trying to help a man suffering from terrible nightmares.
Under a trance, his patient unlocks a shocking, repressed memory that suggests he was abducted by aliens.
So is this otherworldly explanation for real? Over the next few days, Constantino performs the regressive hypnosis process on Jim Weiner's brother and his two art school friends.
Constantino saw each person individually for three-hour sessions.
(Don) Incredibly, each man describes the same fishing scene, the same glowing orb, and the same terrifying alien examination down to the last detail.
In these sessions, each of the guys told him exactly the same story.
(Don) Constantino is astonished.
(Stefani) When he put them in a trance-like state, they were unconscious.
There was no way this could be a lie.
He believes they were truly abducted by aliens.
(Don) UFO investigators pick up on the story, and soon, word of the alleged abductions spreads throughout the country.
Ufologists were convinced that they had one of the greatest American abduction stories.
The four men were thrust into the national spotlight.
(Don) But while some take Weiner and his friends' testimony as credible evidence of alien abduction, others say there may be another explanation for the bizarre incident.
After their story goes public, Weiner and his two art school friends begin selling paintings depicting their encounter.
Their celebrity status among the UFO community makes their artwork incredibly popular, and many soon claim that their alleged UFO encounter was nothing more than a scam perpetrated for financial gain.
Some people thought this was just a hoax for the guys to be able to sell their artwork.
(Don) To this day, the accounts of that fateful night have never been fully explained.
Whatever the truth, this story goes down in American history as one of the best abduction stories.
(Don) And at The Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, New York, this canoe recalls the story of a terrifying encounter that may have been out of this world.
A 19th-century oil lamp, a homesteader's sewing machine, and a brass bell from a church in Appalachia are just some of the artifacts on display at the Big Sandy Heritage Museum in Pikeville, Kentucky.
And although these relics celebrate the area's rich history, there is one set of items here that recalls the darkest chapter in Kentucky's past.
The artifacts are small, very light.
They're dark and have, sort of, a charred patina to them.
They are over 125 years old.
(Don) These are the burnt remnants of a decades-long battle between two warring families that has become one of the most infamous rivalries of all time.
This is a story of the most vicious blood feud in American history.
(Don) 1882, Pike County, Kentucky.
Life for farmers in this remote region is hard, and competition for natural resources regularly escalates into violent confrontations.
One of the most formidable families is the Hatfields, led by the strong-willed patriarch, William, otherwise known as Devil Anse.
The Hatfields, they were feared, and most people didn't want to mess with Devil Anse.
(Don) Devil Anse believes the Hatfields are the most powerful and prosperous family in the area, but he has a rival-- Randall McCoy, the 57-year-old father of the McCoy clan.
Randall McCoy was infuriated by the Hatfields, and the McCoys desperately wanted their piece of the pie.
(Don) For almost 20 years, the Hatfields and McCoys have vied for supremacy, stealing land from each other and facing off over the barrel of a gun.
The altercations are so frequent that the authorities allow them to go unpunished, leaving them to fight it out between themselves.
The feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys seems as if it will never end.
But in 1888, Devil Anse Hatfield decides he's had enough and vows to take down his rivals once and for all by murdering the entire McCoy clan.
(Bill) Devil Anse Hatfield decided, "Well, let's just go kill all the McCoys, and our problems will be over.
(Don) On New Year's Day, Devil Anse rounds up his kin.
The Hatfield posse surrounds the McCoys' log cabin and demands that they come out with their hands up.
[indistinct shouting] But Randall McCoy isn't willing to go down without a fight.
He orders his family to defend their home, and a blazing gunfight erupts.
[shouting and gunfire] The two families seem evenly matched.
Finally, the Hatfields seize their chance Burn in hell, McCoy.
and set fire to the McCoys' cabin.
As the flames grow, Randall McCoy makes a run for it.
As the cabin was burning, Randall McCoy ran out with a double barrel shotgun, [shotgun blasts] shot two of the Hatfields, and then escaped.
(Don) When the dust settles, the house lays in ashes.
Two of Randall McCoy's children are dead, and his wife is seriously injured.
Although Randall McCoy has escaped, the Hatfields have won the day.
Devil Anse has finally secured his family's position as the most powerful in Pike County.
Devil Anse Hatfield basically thought that the feud was over at that point.
(Don) But little does he know, he's just sown the seeds of his own demise.
It's Kentucky, 1888.
Devil Anse Hatfield has all but wiped out his family's bitter rivals, the McCoys, in a bloody massacre.
The slaughter has cemented the Hatfields' place as the region's most powerful clan, but little does Devil Anse know, he's just sown the seeds of his own family's demise.
Devil Anse's violent execution of the McCoys sends shockwaves throughout the region.
This attack on the McCoy cabin was cold-blooded ambush in the middle of the night, and it completely changed the attitude about the Hatfields in the region.
(Don) After years of looking the other way, this brutal massacre is impossible for authorities to ignore.
The governor of Kentucky issues a warrant for the Hatfields' arrest and hires a bounty hunter to put an end to their reign of terror.
This was so heinous, he began rounding them up.
There was this concerted effort to bring them to justice.
(Don) Devil Anse gets away, but his family's fall from power is swift--one member of the Hatfield clan is executed, and eight others are sentenced to life in prison.
The Hatfields all moved away from the area, and so did the McCoys.
This, basically, was the end of the feud.
(Don) Devil Anse's lust for power eventually comes to nothing.
(Bill) The Hatfield-McCoy feud was a tragedy for everybody.
It just brought heartache and pain and death to both families.
(Don) Today, the Big Sandy Heritage Museum displays these charred remnants of the McCoys' cabin.
They're a tragic reminder of one of the most incendiary family rivalries in American history.
Durham, North Carolina, is home to Duke University.
This school was founded in 1924 with a $19 million donation from James B.
Duke.
It has since grown to become a leader in the fields of biology, physics, and psychology, but not far from this distinguished school of higher learning is an institution that explores a decidedly different type of science-- The Rhine Research Center.
Here, visitors can explore the mysterious field of parapsychology.
The center's library holds psychic history books, a Ouija board, and a machine from the 1970s designed to develop mind control.
But even among these artifacts is one truly head-spinning item.
It is approximately two and a half feet wide.
It's a long, wooden box on a spindle, and it was used to assist in the testing of ESP, or extrasensory perception.
(Don) This wooden device is connected to one of the most controversial psychic experiments of all time.
This artifact is a reminder of an event that sent scientists into a frenzy.
[whooshing noise] (Don) It's 1960.
The United States and the Soviet Union are locked in a battle for global supremacy, and the most important weapon in this Cold War is information.
In the USSR, the Soviet authorities focus their efforts on intercepting American military communications.
At that time in the Soviet Union, the Russians had ways to intercept radio signals that had American military secrets on them.
(Don) But one day, the Russians receive a tip that threatens to undermine their entire operation.
In February, Soviet officials read an article from a French magazine that describes an unusual research study.
According to the report, the Americans have developed an unorthodox way to send covert messages using the power of the mind.
The article was about an ESP experiment that was done for military purposes.
(Don) Extrasensory perception, or ESP, is the ability to communicate telepathically.
For decades, humans have tried to find a way to harness this psychic power.
Now, it seems, the United States has finally done it.
According to the report, a researcher in Maryland used ESP to transmit mental images to a scientist in a submarine under the Arctic Circle.
In the experiment, an automatic card shuffler, just like this one on display at the Rhine Research Center, randomly ejected a card printed with a unique image.
Then, using ESP, the researcher in Maryland attempted to communicate the image to the scientist on the submarine.
The report declares the results astounding.
(John) They found that there was a 70% accuracy in the guesses of the cards.
This is higher than anything that had ever been determined in any experiment before.
(Don) The Russians fear that the Americans could send telepathic messages to U.
S.
naval commanders and launch a surprise nuclear attack, and the Soviets would have no way to know it before it was too late.
The Russians at that time had ways to intercept radio signals, but they had no way to intercept mind-to-mind communication.
This meant the Americans could send signals that could not be intercepted by the Russians.
This is frightening.
[whooshing noise] (Don) The Soviets believe they are lagging far behind their rivals in this psychic Cold War, so they swiftly pour millions of rubles into an ambitious parapsychology research program, devoting countless man hours in an attempt to catch up to the United States.
Now that the Americans had proven their abilities in this area, the race was on.
(Don) As Soviet scientists throw everything they have into developing ESP, what they don't realize is there's much more to the American experiment than meets the mind.
They didn't realize what the United States was doing.
It's 1963.
Soviet officials receive intelligence on what they think is a top-secret U.
S.
military project.
It seems the Americans have found a way to transmit messages using ESP-- desperate to catch up, the Russians invest millions in their own telepathic program.
So what's the truth behind this psychic arms race? For years, the Russians try to replicate the impressive results that the Americans seem to have achieved, but all their efforts are for naught.
(John) When Soviets saw the results of the experiments that they were doing, they found no evidence of ESP.
(Don) The Soviets' ESP program is a failure.
Adding insult to injury, they've devoted millions and have now fallen behind the U.
S.
in the development of other, more traditional military systems.
It caused a great deal of concern.
There was a feeling of crisis.
(Don) So did the U.
S.
really develop an ESP messaging system? Twenty years later, a theory emerges that explains it all.
In 1983, an author named Martin Ebon is doing some research into the field of parapsychology when he comes across a report that flips this bizarre tale on its head.
An American magazine called This Week published an article saying that the French article was a fraud and there was no experiment done with a submarine using ESP.
(Don) It seems the American ESP program was a huge hoax.
But why would anyone perpetrate such an elaborate and seemingly far-fetched scheme? Many suspect it was all part of the Cold War spy games.
Some people have speculated that the CIA was attempting to send the Soviet Union on a wild goose chase and have them spend a lot of resources on a goal they could never achieve.
(Don) And planting a fake report of a massively successful ESP program seems right in line with the spy agency's strategy of duping the Russians by any and all means.
Although the CIA has always denied planting the false ESP report, many continue to believe it was one of the most successful counterintelligence operations of all time.
Today, this device, used to automatically shuffle ESP cards, on display at the Rhine Research Center, recalls the telepathic military experiment that was ultimately a simple trick of the mind.
Boston, Massachusetts.
In the 18th century, this city's thriving harbor was a hotbed of American revolutionary activities, like the Boston Tea Party.
And one institution celebrating this independent spirit is the Old State House Museum.
Its exhibits include a lantern that once hung on Boston's fabled Liberty Tree, a cocked hat worn by a major in the Revolutionary War, and a jacket that belonged to the man with the most famous signature in American history, John Hancock.
But among these celebratory relics is an object with a dark and sinister past.
(man) The artifact is about 28 inches tall, and it's carved of wood.
It is painted black, red, and tan.
The most striking part is the woman's face, which bears a very mysterious look.
(Don) Although this beautiful figure may look harmless, it is said to be behind a string of horrific tragedies.
(Mark) This artifact is connected to so many different disasters that many believed that the figurehead itself must be cursed.
(Don) The legend of this enigmatic figurehead begins in the early 1800s off the coast of New England.
The U.
S.
Navy has captured a French vessel called the Berceau .
The skirmish has left the Berceau damaged beyond repair.
But American Navy officers are able to salvage its beautiful wooden figurehead.
The figurehead was a masterfully carved piece of work, so it was taken from the ship.
(Don) The stolen mascot is transferred to the bow of a grand U.
S.
merchant ship called the Caroline.
But shortly after it's installed, disaster strikes.
While sailing off the coast of Nantucket, the Caroline gets caught in dangerous shoals, capsizes, and sinks.
The ship itself is lost, but the beautiful figurehead somehow survives without a scratch.
In the 1860s, the carving finds its way onto a commercial vessel known as the Maritana .
But just like the Caroline , it, too, meets a tragic fate.
[thunder crashes] While the ship is docking in Boston, a violent storm unexpectedly sweeps through the harbor and smashes the massive vessel against the rocks, killing everyone on board.
Yet again, the figurehead is unscathed.
Incredibly, it survives completely intact.
(Don) Sailors start to think there's something unusual about a relic that only seems to attract tragedy, and many refuse to sail on any ship that bears the figurehead.
(Mark) For one object to witness so many disasters, it seemed eerie and inexplicable.
(Don) Eventually, the unwanted carving is sold to the owner of a shop on a Boston wharf.
The businessman proudly puts the figurehead on display, hoping that its sinister reputation will draw curious customers to his store, but he gets much more than he bargained for.
One day, a fire breaks out in his store.
The building quickly burns to the ground.
His business was completely destroyed.
(Don) But when the shopkeeper returns to the site to pick through the ruins, a splash of color pokes through the ashes.
It's the beautifully carved figurehead.
For a wooden figurehead to have survived a fire defies all logical explanation.
(Mark) As it left more and more destruction in its wake, people started to wonder what was going on with this figurehead.
(Don) So what dark secret does this sinister sculpture hold? It's 1900 in Massachusetts.
For more than a century, a carved wooden figurehead has passed through the hands of sailors and shopkeepers, but everyone who owns it suffers a terrible fate, victims of fire, shipwreck, even death.
So what's behind this catastrophic carving? Rumors swirl as to why the statue brings about such bad luck.
As it turns out, the story goes all the way back to the 1790s in France.
According to legend, there was once a young Greek boy who made a meager living selling beautifully carved figureheads.
One day, a sailor approached the boy to purchase one of his wooden statues for a French warship.
The seaman selected a beautifully crafted lady in red, but then, the man did something despicable.
The sailor never paid him for his work.
(Don) Enraged, the Greek boy made certain the French sailor would suffer for his duplicity.
The boy put a curse on the figurehead.
(Don) The sailor attached the figurehead to the French naval ship, the Berceau , thus beginning its reign of terror.
If the Greek boy did put a curse on the figurehead, it certainly worked.
(Don) Today, the Old State House Museum displays this unique figurehead, tempting fate and hoping that its cursed powers are just the stuff of legend.
From a family feud to an evil egg.
A psychic arms race to an alien abduction.
I'm Don Wildman, and these are the mysteries at the museum.