Mysteries at the Museum (2010) s10e10 Episode Script

Mystery of the Spinning Statue, the Unwanted Elephant, Pirates of the Me

A cunning cartographer's crafty scheme He thinks, "I've caught you guys! I know you are ripping me off.
" a family feud with a supernatural twist This is a story of a visit from the beyond.
and the little-known tale of an infamous dictator The man they've kidnapped is no typical Roman.
WILDMAN: Deep in the vaults of the world's greatest institutions lie extraordinary relics, tales of intrigue and wonder, and secrets waiting to be revealed.
These are the mysteries at the museum.
Manchester, England -- birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.
The new ideas that sprang from this city in the late 1700s changed not only Great Britain, but the entire world.
So it's no surprise that this metropolis is home to an institution that celebrates history from around the globe -- the Manchester Museum.
Its vast collection includes the skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex, an Egyptian sarcophagus and the plaster cast of a victim of the volcanic eruption at Pompeii.
But the artifact with the weirdest story to tell is this ancient figurine.
PRICE: It's about 3,800 years old.
It's made of hard, dark stone.
It's about 10 inches tall.
It's carved in the shape of a man.
And it comes from Egypt.
WILDMAN: As curator Dr.
Campbell Price knows, some say this statue possessed supernatural powers.
PRICE: There was no logical explanation to what was going on with the statue.
WILDMAN: So what's behind this head-spinning tale? November 2012, the Manchester Museum.
29-year-old curator Campbell Price is working in a newly renovated part of the institution that houses ancient Egyptian artifacts when something odd catches his eye.
I noticed that one of the statuettes have been turned 'round to face the back of the case.
It wasn't supposed to be displayed like that.
It had been moved somehow.
WILDMAN: The sculpture depicts an ancient Egyptian named Neb-Senu, making an offering to the god of the underworld.
The artifact is one that I know very well because I'd been doing some research on it before that time.
WILDMAN: What's more puzzling is that the only person with access to the statue is Price himself.
PRICE: The case the statue's in is locked.
There's an alarm on it, and I have the only key to it.
So it was very strange.
WILDMAN: The curator returns the statue to its correct position.
But when Campbell Price comes back a short while later the statue has moved again.
PRICE: So it was facing diagonally to the front of the case.
And that's when I thought someone really is playing a joke.
WILDMAN: Price suspects a colleague must have secretly copied his key to the case and is playing a trick on him.
So to test his theory, he sets up a security camera, hoping to catch the prankster red-handed.
PRICE: I put a time-lapse camera inside, and it took one photo a minute, uh, for a week.
WILDMAN: But when he plays back the video, he gets the fright of his life.
The statue is rotating on its own.
And the first time I saw it, I let out this shriek.
Nothing else is moving.
But the statue just moves on its own.
It was mind-boggling.
WILDMAN: Stunned by what he has just witnessed, Price shares the footage with his colleagues.
PRICE: What we were witnessing in the video was, admittedly, very spooky.
WILDMAN: When the story breaks to the press, a host of bizarre theories emerge to explain the phenomenon.
Some speculate that the statue's baffling movements can only be caused by one thing -- supernatural forces.
In ancient Egypt, it was believed that a statuette could act as a vessel for a wandering soul.
PRICE: The Egyptians believed that a statue like this could serve as a, kind of, alternative body, a vessel, for an aspect of the soul.
So some people thought the statue was possessed by some ancient spirit.
WILDMAN: But others remain convinced that there must be a perfectly logical explanation for what is happening.
PRICE: The museum wanted some scientific proof to figure out why it's moving, uh, and to see if we could stop it.
WILDMAN: Price enlists another scientist to help him monitor the statue's glass case.
PRICE: He took his readings, and a few days later, he crunched the results.
WILDMAN: Finally, the answer is revealed.
The statue was moving because of vibration.
WILDMAN: Heavy foot traffic from museum visitors during the day, coupled with automobile traffic outside at night, sent tiny shock waves through the gallery, causing the statue to move.
PRICE: When we took a closer look at the statue, we found the base is -- is not absolutely flat.
It's slightly curved.
And so it was prone to movement.
I think a lot of people were rolling their eyes, thinking, "My goodness, this is just a -- a silly story.
" But it was good to have the scientific confirmation.
WILDMAN: Following this discovery, Neb-Senu is held in place with adhesive.
While the mystery is solved, the ancient artifact never escapes its supernatural reputation.
PRICE: The statue used to just blend in with other gallery displays, but then became the center of attention in the museum.
WILDMAN: Today, visitors still flock to the Manchester Museum to see this revolutionary statue taking its turn in the spotlight.
Eugene, Oregon, is the only city in the United States to host three consecutive Olympic track and field tryouts, so it's only fitting that it's nicknamed "Tracktown USA.
" But away from the athletics field is an institution dedicated to more stationary subjects, the Museum of Natural and Cultural History.
Here, visitors can examine the skeletal remains of long-extinct animals, like a saber-toothed cat, an ancient miniature horse, and even a giant sloth.
But among these prehistoric relics are the massive remains of a more modern creature.
DAVIS: It probably weighs over 200 pounds.
The length has got to be, maybe, 4 feet long, and it's 3 or 4 feet wide.
The object itself is just so amazing.
And you can see that there's a story there.
WILDMAN: As fossil collection manager, Edward Davis, attests, this huge skull once belonged to a star attraction, whose epic rise and fall captivated the nation.
It was a national celebrity of mythological proportions.
WILDMAN: How did this colossal creature win America's heart? 1922, Washington state, scores of traveling circuses are touring the country, dazzling audiences with wild spectacles and exotic creatures.
And one of the biggest stars of the day is an enormous, 7-ton elephant named Tusko.
DAVIS: He was very successful at drawing crowds.
He was billed nationally as the most massive, the biggest elephant ever in captivity.
WILDMAN: Known as Tusko the Magnificent, the popular pachyderm gains more fans with every performance.
Tusko was one of the most famous elephants in North America.
WILDMAN: But it seems the animal's spectacular rise is about to come to a crashing halt.
On May 15th, Tusko's trainer discovers the elephant has broken out of his pen and gone missing.
And that's not all he finds.
A wooden barrel, once filled with the crew's whiskey, is empty.
[ People screaming ] The trainer then hears the sounds of screams.
He rushes towards the commotion and finds Tusko stumbling through the town, destroying everything in his path.
He's rearing up on his hind legs.
He's tearing down the town, breaking buildings.
People were very fearful to see Tusko on the loose.
WILDMAN: Eventually, Tusko's trainer manages to rein him in.
He was able to step in and calm him and get him back to the circus.
WILDMAN: Thankfully, no one is injured.
But the circus owners are forced to shell out $20,000 to cover damages.
DAVIS: They had to go through town and actually pay out to try to keep people from suing the circus.
WILDMAN: The outlay is a major financial hit, and Tusko's handlers are forced to reassess the value of their star performer.
DAVIS: At that point, he didn't see Tusko as an asset but as a liability.
WILDMAN: The poor creature is sold to a smaller, three-ring outfit.
But his new owners find that Tusko is more elephant than they bargained for.
DAVIS: He was so large, and it was expensive to feed him.
Tusko is literally eating the profits.
WILDMAN: Over the years, he is passed from one nickle-and-dime sideshow to another, none of which are able to cover his mammoth food bill.
DAVIS: Tusko's reputation is in shambles.
No one wants him.
And that's the level that he's fallen to.
WILDMAN: Once known as Tusko the Magnificent, the beleaguered elephant acquires a new nickname, Tusko the Unwanted.
But there's one man who thinks he knows how to turn a profit on the giant creature.
A promoter, known as the Colonel, grabs Tusko at a knockdown price.
But the Colonel's grand plan won't require him to pay for the elephant's food at all.
He thought Tusko would be more profitable as a dead animal, cut up into pieces and put on display at the sideshows.
WILDMAN: So has poor Tusko reached his final act? It's 1932 in Washington state.
An enormous circus elephant named Tusko faces a grim fate.
His owner, a man known as the Colonel, can't afford to feed him.
So in order to turn a profit, he decides to kill the gentle giant and put his bones on display.
So can this unwanted elephant be saved from this morbid exhibition? It seems that Tusko's fate is sealed.
But then, the doomed animal receives help from an unexpected ally -- the media.
Reporters learn of the Colonel's plan.
Outraged by the cruel plot, they launch a campaign to save Tusko's life.
They publish stories about the elephant's tragic journey, rallying the public to his defense.
The swelling of support even attracts the attention of Seattle's mayor, John Francis Dore.
The mayor of Seattle started to take a personal interest in Tusko's story and made a public show of being his supporter.
WILDMAN: Dore is determined to wrest ownership of Tusko away from the Colonel, so he devises a cunning plan.
Using his executive powers, Dore declares that Tusko is a public menace and orders the animal be placed under arrest.
The charge levies a heavy fine against the animal's owner.
Unable to pay the fees, the Colonel has no choice but to turn Tusko over to the city.
And on October 8, 1932, the elephant is finally given a permanent home at Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo.
It was a really nice retirement for him after a really hard life.
[ Trumpets ] WILDMAN: Today, Tusko's skull is preserved at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History.
It recalls the trials and tribulations of a beleaguered elephant who finally found a home.
Baltimore, Maryland, is made up of over 200 different neighborhoods.
So it's no surprise it's also known as the City of Neighborhoods.
And in charming Mount Vernon is the sight of one of the nation's leading cultural institutions, the Walters Art Museum.
The collection includes exquisitely crafted sculptures, meticulously forged weaponry and armor and priceless works of art.
But among these eye-catching pieces is a small item that portrays a larger-than-life figure.
MINTZ: This work of art is about the size of your palm.
It's red, has a very high polished shine on the surface.
The figure is wearing a toga.
And on his head is a wreath of laurel leaves.
He looks pretty stern, pretty serious.
WILDMAN: The subject of this marble relief was once the most powerful person on the planet.
But according to curator, Robert Mintz, few realize his meteoric rise began with a harrowing high seas encounter.
One of the great rulers in the world was once a captive himself.
WILDMAN: It's 75 B.
The Roman Republic stretches across the Mediterranean, encompassing southern Europe and portions of North Africa.
But this ever-expanding empire is under threat from pirates.
These maritime marauders attack Roman ports and plunder their ships for treasure.
And one ruthless group is perhaps more dreaded than all others, the Cilicians.
MINTZ: The Cilicians were bloodthirsty pirates, were based in, what is today, modern Turkey.
They were very aggressive and were feared by everyone.
WILDMAN: The Cilicians have a lucrative strategy.
They were attacking and imprisoning people, and then, they would demand a high price for the return of these Romans to their families.
WILDMAN: That winter, a group of Cilicians chased down a Roman ship in the eastern Mediterranean.
The pirates storm the deck and capture a number of terrified hostages.
But one of them, a man in his 20s, seems strangely unperturbed.
MINTZ: Rather than fearing the pirates, as everyone else would, he seems to be incredibly calm.
WILDMAN: The pirates bind the man and shackle him to the ship.
They tell him that his family will have to pay 20 gold talents for his freedom.
If they don't get the money, they'll kill him.
People typically would cower.
They would beg for their lives.
They would be fearful.
They would wonder, "What's coming next?" WILDMAN: But instead of shrinking in fear, the young man reacts with arrogance.
MINTZ: He laughs it off.
He said he's worth at least twice that and demands that they raise his ransom to 50 talents.
WILDMAN: The pirates are stunned.
MINTZ: They don't know what to make of this.
To have your prisoner telling you that you should ask for more, that was simply ridiculous.
WILDMAN: The pirates send someone on shore to collect the money for his release.
Then they wait and watch over their captive.
And his behavior gets brasher by the minute.
MINTZ: He demands that they are silent when he feels it's time for him to sleep.
And he calls them illiterate barbarians.
WILDMAN: He even threatens to execute the pirates.
But the Cilicians dismiss his behavior as mere bluster.
MINTZ: They just think that this man is full of delusion.
He's so ridiculously eccentric that he doesn't know what's good for him.
WILDMAN: Before long, the money arrives.
The Cilicians release their captive, but the strange man continues to goad them.
The man said to his captors that he was going to get his revenge, that he would return, and that they would pay the price.
WILDMAN: The pirates ignore his taunts.
MINTZ: There's just no way that's going to happen.
They're the most feared pirates in the Indian Sea.
WILDMAN: But the next day, before they can truly enjoy their spoils, the Cilicians get the shock of their lives.
MINTZ: The pirates see a fleet of ships appear on the horizon with their former prisoner at the helm.
WILDMAN: It seems that the Cilicians' former captive is back to make good on his threat.
The man they've kidnapped is no typical Roman.
It's 75 B.
in the Mediterranean.
A group of Cilician pirates has just collected a hefty ransom for releasing their Roman captive.
But the next day, the freed man returns with a fleet of ships under his command.
Little did the pirates know, the man they captured is no ordinary Roman.
With an army of men following him, the Roman takes over the Cilicians' ship.
In a stunning reversal, he steals back his ransom and takes the Cilicians captive.
It seems that their former prisoner was no ordinary Roman.
In fact, he will become one of the world's most powerful men.
And he will turn Rome into the greatest empire the world has ever seen.
The man the Cilicians had captured was, in truth, Julius Caesar.
WILDMAN: Just as he had promised, the future tyrant takes his retribution out on the pirates by crucifying them, one by one.
When Caesar returns to Rome, he uses his revenge over the Cilicians to raise his political profile, beginning an historic ascent to power.
MINTZ: He spends much of the next two decades leading armies of men across Europe, effectively laying the foundation for the Roman empire.
, he becomes the dictator of Rome.
Once held in chains, he went on to conquer a kingdom.
WILDMAN: And this relief at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore serves as a tribute to a man whose run-in with bloodthirsty pirates foreshadowed the powerful leader he would become.
Austin, Texas, is home to over 250 performance venues, earning it the nickname -- the Live Music Capital of the World.
And preserving the Lone Star State's many cultural traditions is the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.
Its exhibits include a Gibson guitar, a marble bust of the state's 17th governor and an eyewitness account of Davy Crockett's execution at the Alamo.
But tucked away in the archives is one object that had its origins almost 2,000 miles away.
PORGES: It's made of paper.
It's just 8 inches by 4 inches folded up.
But unfolded, it's full of lots of colored, squiggly lines that represent roads.
And printed all over it are names of towns -- some you've heard of and some you haven't.
WILDMAN: According to journalist Seth Porges, this map is linked to an elaborate criminal enterprise.
PORGES: It's a fantastic story of fakes, facts and fiction and the blurred lines between them.
WILDMAN: 1925.
The automobile industry is revolutionizing America.
PORGES: This is the dawn of the era of the car.
There are other related industries that pop up.
You have gas stations.
You have repair shops, and you have map making.
WILDMAN: One of the nation's leading mapmakers is a 36-year-old man named Otto G.
PORGES: Otto Lindberg had a company called General Drafting Corporation, and saw map making as this noble profession.
WILDMAN: But lately, the proud cartographer has seen his craft come under threat from a rampant scourge, plagiarism.
At the time, map making is a painstaking and expensive process.
Cartographers must visit an area and carefully measure every single road, landmark and building, and then translate that information into a usable guide.
So to cut corners, many draftsmen simply copy the work of other mapmakers.
PORGES: If you're a mapmaker and you want to save some time, save some money, well, you take one of your competitors' maps and you rip it off.
WILDMAN: The problem is compounded by the fact that there's no easy way to catch a copycat.
Proving somebody plagiarized your map is incredibly difficult because, in theory, all maps should show the same reality.
WILDMAN: But Lindberg has had enough.
He's determined to protect his maps at all costs.
And he devises a cunning plan that he thinks will catch these thieves red-handed.
PORGES: Otto had this clever idea.
He thought, "If you want to find out who is ripping you off, well, you plant some false information and you see if the plagiarist repeats that false information.
" WILDMAN: If another cartographer includes this fake information on a map, it would prove he's stealing from a master.
PORGES: So Lindberg comes up with this fake town, Agloe, New York.
WILDMAN: The crafty cartographer places this fictional hamlet at the intersection of two dirt roads in the Catskill Mountains.
PORGES: Agloe, New York, does not exist in the real world.
And he knows if anybody else includes this town on their map, well, they are ripping him off.
WILDMAN: In 1925, Lindberg releases his map to the public.
For months, he scours his competitors' maps.
And sure enough, one day he opens a map of New York by his rival Rand McNally.
And there, between the folds, right where he put it on his own map, is the town of Agloe, New York.
The map trap has been sprung.
Lindberg thinks, "Gotcha! I've caught you guys! I know you are ripping me off.
" WILDMAN: Lindberg wastes no time accusing Rand McNally of copyright infringement.
PORGES: Lindberg caught his rival red-handed, and he wants them to pay.
He has to think this is a slam dunk, cut and dry.
WILDMAN: But there's a twist that Lindberg could never see coming.
This case that Otto thought was iron clad, well, it fell apart.
It's the 1920s.
Cartographer Otto G.
Lindberg is accusing his rival, Rand McNally, of plagiarism.
He says he plotted a fake town, called Agloe, on one of his maps.
And now he's spotted that same town on one of theirs.
Lindberg thinks he's caught them red-handed, but little does he know, the story of his map trap has one more surprise.
Representatives from Rand McNally make their case.
And they make an astonishing claim.
PORGES: They come out with this left-field defense.
They claim that Agloe, New York, is real.
Lindberg is flabbergasted.
He created Agloe, New York.
How could this be a real town? WILDMAN: Lindberg's rivals insist that Agloe has its very own local business.
PORGES: Rand McNally claims they sent a draftsman to the location.
There, they found a general store called the Agloe General Store.
WILDMAN: The store owner told the Rand McNally draftsman how his business got its name.
PORGES: The store owner, he had one of Lindberg's maps that said he was in Agloe, New York.
So when he set up shop, he named it after the town that the map told him he was in.
In essence, the fake Agloe, New York, became a real place.
WILDMAN: Rand McNally is cleared of all charges.
But Lindberg isn't defeated.
PORGES: Even though he lost the case, you have to imagine Lindberg must've felt some sense of pride.
You create this fake town on a map.
The next thing you know, it's real.
WILDMAN: Today, Agloe, New York, still appears on maps everywhere.
And this one, on display at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, recalls the town that blurred the boundary between fiction and fact, and the cunning cartographer that put it on the map.
Chicago, Illinois, is home to a host of unique innovations -- the world's first skyscraper, the first Ferris wheel, and the first deep-dish pizza.
Visitors to Chi-Town can learn more about the city's past at the Chicago History Museum.
Among the artifacts on display here is a Prohibition-era still, used to make moonshine, melted marbles from the great Chicago fire of 1871 and a set of eyeglasses worn by the infamous killer Nathan Leopold.
But one item here is linked to a man known far beyond the Windy City.
SMITH: The artifact is about 3 feet long.
It is very thin, narrow.
It's straight, although it is curved on one end.
It is tan in color, and it is made of bamboo.
WILDMAN: According to author Michael Smith, this cane belonged to a Hollywood icon, who became the target of a bizarre crime, which altered his legacy forever.
It would disturb the memory of one of cinema's greatest stars.
WILDMAN: Christmas Day, 1977, Switzerland.
At the age of 88, silent movie star Charlie Chaplin passes away.
Film fans the world over mourn the loss of this silver-screen legend.
SMITH: Charlie Chaplin was the first true international superstar of comedy and is, to this day, one of the most recognizable faces in the world.
WILDMAN: But no one is more distraught than Chaplin's wife, Oona.
On December 29th, she buries her one true love in the quiet village where they lived.
Oona prepares for life without her husband by her side.
But her world is about to be turned upside down again.
In March, she receives a disturbing call from the Swiss police.
[ Telephone rings ] SMITH: Her husband's grave had been robbed.
His 300-pound coffin had been stolen.
WILDMAN: Oona is devastated.
She said that it was like losing him all over again.
WILDMAN: The desecration of the beloved actor's grave casts a macabre shadow over Chaplin's legacy.
SMITH: People were outraged.
They couldn't believe that something like that could happen to such an iconic film star.
WILDMAN: The police launch an investigation.
But it seems that the criminals have deftly covered their tracks.
There were no clues left at the scene indicating who might have done it or why.
The Swiss authorities assumed that whoever had perpetrated this scheme were criminal masterminds.
WILDMAN: Then days later, there's a break in the case.
[ Telephone rings ] Oona gets a phone call from the robbers.
SMITH: There was a mysterious male voice with an eastern European accent informing her that he was one of the grave robbers and that he wanted $600,000 in U.
currency for the body.
WILDMAN: Police instruct Oona to comply with the crook's demands.
The widow informs the robbers that she will have her chauffeur bring the ransom to a designated spot.
But there's a twist.
SMITH: The plan was to have a disguised police detective drop off the money.
The police would then swoop in and apprehend the criminal.
WILDMAN: On the day of the drop, the undercover officer makes his way to the location.
Sure enough, he sees a suspicious-looking character lurking in the shadows.
The police detective realized that he was being watched and followed.
WILDMAN: It seems the police have the target in their sights.
They swoop in and make an arrest.
But they soon realize, they've made a terrible mistake.
SMITH: It turned out, he was a post-office employee who was following the detective 'cause he thought that the police detective had been acting suspicious.
WILDMAN: The police let the man go.
But the real robbers never show up.
It appears that the commotion from the erroneous arrest has scared them off.
Nothing went according to plan.
The attempt at dropping off the money was completely bungled.
WILDMAN: It seems that they've lost their one chance at returning the beloved icon's remains to rest.
The police were absolutely embarrassed.
WILDMAN: So will Charlie Chaplin's body ever be recovered? It's 1978, Switzerland.
A gang of thieves have stolen the body of Charlie Chaplin.
But when police botch the plan to get the body back, it looks like the comic's corpse may be gone for good.
With their only chance at recovering Chaplin's body apparently gone, investigators are left reeling.
Their only hope is that the robbers will, once again, make contact with the movie star's widow, Oona.
And if they do, this time, the cops will be ready.
SMITH: What they decided to do was to install an electronic tracing device on Oona Chaplin's phone.
This is something that's very commonplace today, but in the 1970s, it would have seemed like something out of science fiction.
WILDMAN: With the bug in place, police wait patiently for the robbers to reestablish contact.
This was an incredibly elaborate means of trying to catch these criminals.
WILDMAN: Then, five weeks after Chaplin's body was stolen [ Telephone rings ] the phone rings, and indeed, it's the thieves.
Oona keeps them on the line while authorities trace the call.
They track it to a pay phone in the nearby city of Lausanne.
SMITH: They were able to arrest the person who had made the phone call.
WILDMAN: Police identify him as a 24-year-old Polish auto mechanic named Roman Wardas.
They also apprehend his accomplice, a fellow mechanic from Bulgaria named Gantscho Ganev.
But to everyone's surprise, the men are hardly the criminal masterminds most had expected.
They were total amateurs.
When Chaplin died, it was widely publicized that he was worth $25 million.
These were just two down-on-their-luck, working-class guys who were really looking to get rich quick.
WILDMAN: The actor's body is recovered and returned to its proper place.
SMITH: Chaplin's coffin was reburied in the same plot, and this time it was encased in concrete to make it, essentially, theft proof.
WILDMAN: The grave robbers are convicted of extortion and given lengthy jail sentences.
Today, the Chicago History Museum proudly displays one of Charlie Chaplin's iconic canes.
It serves as a tribute to a film legend, who played a starring role in a posthumous caper.
The quaint town of Mocksville, North Carolina, is renowned as the one-time home of American frontiersman Daniel Boone.
Today, Mocksville's history is celebrated here, at the Davie County Public Library.
The collection includes a book of confederate currency, an 1890s tobacco box and tools used by the region's earliest inhabitants.
Yet amidst these items of local significance is a document that tells a decidedly otherworldly story.
McALLISTER: It is quite aged.
It is a handwritten document in beautiful cursive writing, accompanied by a sleeve with the word "will" in capital letters across the front.
WILDMAN: According to library director Jane McAllister, the final wishes on this page triggered one of the most bizarre family feuds ever recorded.
McALLISTER: It's a shocking tale of betrayal, regret and a visit from the beyond.
WILDMAN: September 7, 1921, Mocksville, North Carolina.
When a wealthy farmer named James Chaffin passes away, his family is devastated.
James had four sons.
The sons find themselves having to settle their father's estate.
WILDMAN: But when they read the will, which was penned by their father some 16 years earlier, they are stunned by what it says.
McALLISTER: To their surprise, that will named only one son as the person to inherit the estate.
And that son was Marshall, the third son.
WILDMAN: The other brothers are livid and resolve to find a way to claim their share of what they think is rightfully theirs.
McALLISTER: The other three sons try to figure out if there are loopholes in the will, but find none.
WILDMAN: The slighted siblings are forced to accept what appears to be their father's final wish.
Needless to say, the will creates some division in the family.
WILDMAN: Their resentment festers for years.
But then, in 1925, one of the brothers, known as Pink, turns the situation on its head.
He claims that he's uncovered evidence of his father's true intentions, and he's prepared to prove it in court.
In December, the case is heard at the Davie County Courthouse.
But when Pink takes the stand, his testimony stuns the jury.
McALLISTER: Pink claims that his father has been appearing to him as a ghost.
1925, North Carolina.
The Chaffin brothers are locked in a bitter legal battle over their deceased father's estate.
Now, in a bid to settle the suit once and for all, one of the brothers comes forward with an astonishing claim, that he was visited by his dead father's ghost.
So will the jury accept this supernatural ploy? As the court listens, Pink describes his chilling encounter.
He claims that several months earlier, he was awoken in the middle of the night.
There before him was his father's ghost.
Pink says the spirit directed him to look inside the pocket of his old overcoat.
McALLISTER: Pink claims he found a rolled-up note that says, "Read Genesis 27 in my old bible.
" WILDMAN: According to Pink, he found the bible and turned to the passage, which tells the story of one brother robbing the other of his birthright.
And when he flipped the page, he discovered something astonishing.
Inside is a new will by his father, James Chaffin.
WILDMAN: The court is skeptical.
McALLISTER: Upon hearing the story, listeners in the courtroom felt that it was a hoax that the brothers cooked up amongst themselves.
WILDMAN: But then Pink presents a stunning piece of evidence -- the will itself.
Apparently penned in 1919, it declares that his father's estate is meant to be divided amongst the brothers equally.
Experts analyze the handwriting and reach an amazing conclusion.
That it is, in fact, in James Chaffin's handwriting.
WILDMAN: It's all the proof the court needs.
However Pink came by the document, through supernatural intervention or otherwise, the will appears to be valid.
The case is quickly settled, and Chaffin's estate is finally divided equally.
The bizarre litigation goes down in history as one of North Carolina's strangest legal proceedings.
Today, James Chaffin's 1919 will sits at the Davie County Public Library.
It recalls a family feud that some believe was put to rest by a visit from beyond the grave.
From a ghost will to a grave robbery, a high seas standoff to a spinning statue.
I'm Don Wildman,