The Haunted Conjured Chest as it sits in the Old State Capitol in the Great Revivals Exhibition in 1980Donated by Virgina Mayne Last living descend to own the Chest'
For days post I am going to bring you into the world of
mysteries of Cursed Items' and how an Item being a clock, watch, brochure or even a handmade chest over 150 old still has the power of its curse even in the 21st century.
Well this is such a story, that has spanned of over 200 years into modern day today. Where the 'Conjured Chest' lives today, with over 500,000 other artifacts and documents, countless images at the Kentucky Historical Society. Most of them are perfectly normal, but as you read this post you will discover that this 'Conjured Chest that lives in the Kentucky Historical Society is far from normal...
The Tale starts 150years ago when Jacob Cooley ordered his African American Slave Hosea who at the time was quite the craftsman of his time. Hosea probably had did lots of wood work for his owner. Apparently Jacob Cooley wanted Hosea to build a chest for his first born child. So Hosea set to work on the famous chest, which was quite remarkable. However, for some unknown reason his master was very displeased with the efforts of Hosea workmanship on the chest and was beaten to a pulp which ended his life/killing him. This is when the Story of Hosea beautiful Chest begins to have a life of its own. Well not long after the death of Hosea the other slaves of Cooley's vowed to avenge the death of their friend. How they did it, was by sprinkling the dried blood of an dead owl inside the chest that Hosea had made for Cooley. From that it became 'the Conjured Curse Chest'. As if magic the Chest that Hosea had made was cursed by just a few drops of that dead owl. Now I thought that there had to be more to this than just a few drops of blood from a dead owl. I am sure that Hosea African friends new something of their own form of spiritual religion. I did a little research and found, that there are some groups that practice these Folklore and spiritual practices that were used in Africa. These were also some of the same practices that were used by the slaves that lived on the plantations in the South as slaves in the Civil War. The curse could have very well came from these spiritual practices to avenged their friend Hosea. However, this is only an opinion. I also discovered that when the Africans were brought over on the slave ships they brought their beliefs and practices with them. This form of spirituality they shared a commonality with other African religions and practices in that they held faith in the power of a spirit-world and its interconnectedness to this world through a medium of spirits, deities and the spiritual power of natural materials like herbs, bones, roots and minerals. These Practices and beliefs soon were mixed and assimilated into other religions and Hoodoo. Now I am not saying that I know anything about this religion, but, there could have been some type of more spiritual act that may of happened... Back to the Tale- Cooley's first born died in infancy, as the slave friends of Hosea said they would have their revenge on the Cooley family for the death of their friend. After that a long string of decedents would have bad luck with the ' Conjured Chest'. It would go on for an total of Seventeen known deaths that were attributed to the 'Conjure Chest'. Note the Curse was eventually lifted by a 'Conjure Woman'. Which I will tell you more about at the end of the the story.. And More stories about its new home where it lives in the Kentucky History Museum in Frankfort in a Vault! I will tell you that I finally found the correct image of the beautiful 'Conjured Chest' which wasn't an easy task. But it was worth it. Why? well if you have a look at the ones that post with the Conjured Chest they all love old and nasty looking. However, what people don't know and the fact is the Chest is still is as elegant and beautiful as the day Hosea the wood-maker slave had made it over 150years ago. Its an elegant mahogany veneer chest with four drawers, hand-carved by Hosea with such care. One wonders what was in his master mind when he saw the Master piece of art. It was crafted in the empire style, and has beautiful glass knobs on all four drawers. Looking at the one Image that I could find gives any hint that a huge tragedy had stalked its existence - as some historians called it "Conjured Chest'. For two decades even before the Civil War, The family of the Cooley who lived a sumptuous life as very wealthy Southern Planters. Jacob Cooley the owned and the first to be hit with the curse of the Chest, owned many slaves and farmed thousands of acres. Jacob wasn't a nice owner, in fact it was said wicked, despicable kinda man who frequently enjoyed to beat his slaves for the slightest infraction of his stringent rules. This is when the tale gets interesting, Jacob ordered one of his slaves, which happened to be an excellent wood-maker of fine furniture to construct a chest that would be used for his first born child. This was Hosea. Hosea was very good at wood-making and craving fine furniture. So there should have been no problems. However, it must of been one of Cooley off days because for some unknown crazy reason, Cooley was angered at Hosea's finished product. And after he beat him so savagely that he died a few day later. This is when Cooley's slaves were led by an old 'Conjure Man' some say and placed a curse in the chest for all future generations of the Cooley's to come. It seems that one drawer was sprinkled with the dried blood of the dead owl and a 'Conjure' chant was then sung after that. All those associated with the chest would fall within the 'Curse's Evil Power'. Although Jacob Cooley himself evidently escaped the malevolence evil curse, his descendants were so fortunate.[ This is what I was talking about as maybe much more than just a simple sprinkle of dead owl blood... I feel that the friends of Hosea had practice some form of their spiritual religion and a act during that time, but one will never really know it was so long ago]. Well, Jacob Cooley may have escaped the malevolence evil curse, but his baby(son) for who the chest was built for, died soon after birth, when the chest was in his nursery. [Makes you kinda wonder? If he disliked it so much to the point to beating Hosea to death! and after he died it ends-up in his baby's nursery anyway? what gives? So did Jacob like and just didn't wanted to pay Hosea the small fee so he decide to kill his slave? there are a number of factors that could have been? The one thing is very apparent Jacob was a Tyrant]. From there the Chest took a life of his own.. Jacob's Cooley brother inherited the chest and he was stabbed to death by his personal servant. So Jacob Cooley had another son - John who I guess live to carry on the curse. Because John Cooley inherited one of his fathers(Jacob Cooley's) many plantations. The young man led a serene bachelor's life until a vivacious young woman, barely out of her teen came into his life. Her name was Ellie and she soon Married John Cooley the son of Jacob Cooley. John Cooley is nearly three times Ellie age. However the young married couple inherited the 'Conjured Curse Chest'. Knowing of the tragedies that had befallen her husband's siblings, Ellie Cooley decided to put the chest in the attic. Meanwhile, Jacob Cooley's youngest daughter, Melinda, eloped with a waggish Irishman named Sean with nowhere to live. So Melinda Cooley turned to Ellie & John Cooley. John and Ellie had done well for themselves and accumulated several farms in Tennessee. So They decided to turn one of these farms to Sean and Melinda Cooley to work on. Even though Melinda was able to get them a home on a (farm) and many children. Sean became to loathe the dullness of farm life. Ellie Cooley tried to help, but it was a lost cause.. However they all have escaped the Curse of the Conjured Chest! But not for long! It seems that Ellie Cooley thought to bring some beauty into Melinda's dreary existence, she thought by sending over her father-in-laws 'Chest'Yes! the 'Conjured Chest' It had been in her attic for a very long time and nothing had happened. She'd almost forgotten the Chest's legacy. Ellie Cooley thought perhaps the "Curse" was only a lot of talk, at least that is what she thought. However, as soon as the 'Chest' was brought back out the 'Chest' was alive again! Within just a few days Sean deserted Melinda Cooley for the bright lights of New Orleans. Melinda Cooley was disconsolate. She took to her bed with a 'Ailment.' In a few days Melinda died. Again was it the 'Curse of the Conjured Chest? Melinda was barely out of her thirties when she died, but when she died she looked exhausted, tried and a older greyed haired woman. Shorty after Melinda died, then the 'Curse' struck again. Sean was struck in the head by a steamboat's gangplank and died instantly. So I truly believe that the decision to bring the Chest down from the attic all those years ago was a huge mistake! Because I felt the legacy or the Conjured Chest is Yes! very much alive! 'The Conjured Chest' has now claimed its fourth victims. And the couple left many orphaned children... all because of the Chest'. John Cooley(Son of Jacob Cooley) was given the job of Traveling to Tennessee to assign the youngsters to other family members. The youngest, a baby by the name Evelyn ran up to him, her tiny little arms outstretched. So John took her to live with his own family in Kentucky. Little Evelyn grew into a beautiful and intelligent young woman. When she turned sixteen. Evelyn Cooley passed an examination that provided her with a Teaching Certificate with which she took over a one-room Schoolhouse. She met and Married a Scotsman, Malcolm Johnson barely two months after she began teaching. As a present to the couple Ellie Cooley presented her niece with Jacob's Cooley's handsome Chest. Yes! the 'Curse Conjured Chest'. Probably not even really realizing that the Chest is an evil curse that has plague their family.And that the evil has been passed on to a new generation of Cooley to continue its revenge. Well Evelyn Cooley Johnson did have children and even adopted a young orphan girl Arabella. I should probably say how many more deaths the Chest has claimed! Well, in Evelyn Cooley Johnson new family there were two new tragedies that befell on her family. There was a son-in-law that deserted his wife and a child who was crippled for life in a bizarre accident so that two more.. However, good news Evelyn's husband Malcolm had become very successful. He was a small man, yet always courteous to those around him. He was parlayed yet a shrewed Scottish man with a sense of thriftiness that went into a burgeoning business empire, that grew to great heights. It consisted of mills, houses, a coal yard and a wharf with also dry goods in a local store. It seems that Evelyn's Husband Malcolm was quite a wealthy man when he died. However even though he tried to keep Evelyn happy comfortable when he was alive, Evelyn was always haunted by the memories of those around her that were struck down by the Curse in her Family that she couldn't find happiness and ended up taking her life soon after her husband die. So we are at count eleven that the Cooley curse has suffered...'The Conjure Curse Chest'. So now Elven have died due too the 'Conjured Chest' and it was taking a toll on the Cooley Family. As we move into the twentieth Century, the chest was inherited by Virginia Cary Hudson from her grandmother, Evelyn Cooley Johnson. Mrs. Hudson thought the tales of the 'Curse' were old wise tales and the fact that it was so long ago in the family history she didn't take heed to the legacy of her family's tragics past. Well it didn't take all for Virgina Hudson to realize that she was very wrong not to take those warns seriously... It seems that Virginia had used the 'Chest' to put her first Babies Clothes as a 'Hope Chest'. And the Conjured Chest took another victim - Virginia died too. (question with you all will find later in my post how is it that Virginia Hudson dies here when she is very much alive in the last part of this tale. I have gone over this story over many times and I tried to figure it out but no answer. This is why I put my opinions in my post of these different stories) Another relatives Child's Clothes were tucked in a drawer of the 'Conjured Chest' and she contracted infantile paralysis. It doesn't stop there; Another daughters Wedding's Dress was stored in the 'Conjured Chest' and her first husband ran off. And the list continues with a son who was a descent of the Cooley family - he had clothes in the 'Chest' and because of this he was stabbed in the hand. I don't know if he died. Couldn't find that info. There was a Friend of the family that put his hunting clothes in the 'Chest' and later was shot and killed in a hunting accident. So were on number Sixteen victims!!! With just some of friends of the family putting personal clothing in the 'Conjure Chest' and it still ended more lives!!! At this point Mrs Hudson had notice that there was a common pattern going on with the deaths and the 'Chest'. Anyone that put some of their personal clothing in the 'Conjured Chest' had died. So Finally in the 20th Century there was a family member that wanted to put an end to the curse of the 'Conjured Chest'. At least she hope she could. Anyway, Mrs Hudson had found what she hope to be the solution in the form of an old friend of hers - an African-American woman by the name of Annie. Annie understood Curses and Conjures. The spell that was cast by Hosea's faithful companions could only be broken when these three conditions were met had said Annie. 1- First Mrs Hudson would have to be given a dead owl without her having to ask for one. 2- The green leaves of a Willow Tree have to be boiled from sunup to sundown & the dead owl has to remain in sight during the entire time. 3-Finally the boiled liquids then needs to be buried in a jug with its handle facing east, toward the rising sun, below a flowering bush. These were the three things that Mrs.Hudson needed to do the break the Curse. It started when a stuffed owl was given to Mrs. Hudson son by a friend as the first requirement was done. They Mrs. Hudson plucked the leaves from a nearby willow tree and started them in a large black pot to boil from sunup to sundown. She put the stuffed owl on the kitchen counter to keep watch, for the whole process hoping too. Then at dusk, Annie and Mrs. Hudson took the jug filled it with the boiled plucked willow tree leaves and buried the jug, handle pointed east beneath a flowering lilac bush outside the kitchen window. Annie told her that, they would know if the curse was broke if one of them died before the first full days of fall. It was August when they did the Conjures spell, so they thought all the hard work that they had done put an end to the curse to the 'Conjured Chest'. However it was to good to be true. What ever Conjure spell the slaves had did over 150years+ was a very powerful one because on a early morning in September Annie Died. She was the Seventeenth and last known victim. So the 'Conjured Chest' will forever be in my opinion curse... The final private owner of the 'Conjured Chest' was the Mrs. Hudson's Daughter, Virginia C Mayna. Although she was skeptical of the 'Curse' and knew fully of story of Annie and her mother trying to use a Conjure spell to lift the Curse, she never stored anything in the 'Chest' and kept it hidden in her attic always. Then in 1976 Mrs Mayne donated the Conjured Chest to the Kentucky History Museum. According to the museum registrar Mike Hudson, 'The chest is in storage in our vaults, awaiting the time when it fits into a new exhibit. Supposedly the curse has been removed. Has it? Tucked safely in the top chest drawer is an envelope... with a cluster of owl feathers inside. the museum isn't taking any chances. And there it remains. At last reports, it had never been put on display, remaining in storage. And the museum staff, they say, have place a powerful talisman against the curse in the old blooded drawer, where the owl's stood was placed so long ago; a handful of feathers from an owl. The Conjured Chest date unknown? never dated! States the chest was hand-carved by an African-American slave named Hosea, who belonged to Jacob Cooley, a cruel man. After seeing the finished chest, Cooley was displeased for an unknown reason and beat Hosea so badly that Hosea died several days later. Cooley's other slaves met with a 'Conjure man' who place a curse on the chest. In all, 17 people who had contact with or stored their clothing in the chest met with an untimely demise. Last owner of the Chest, a Mrs. Hudson , sought help from a friend of hers, who told her to perform a ritual and put owl feathers in the top drawer to stop the curse. The chest is currently on display at the Old State Capitol in the 'Great Revivals' Exhibition.
Donated by Virginia Mayne, 1980.
At the top of the post is where you can see the original Conjured Chest and what
it truly looks like today at the Old State Capitol in the Great Revival Exhibition
Donated by Virginia Mayne in 1980
And a little note It is the very same Chest that was Craved by the slave Hosea over 150+ years
ago. It is a beautiful piece of wood-work...
It sad that it has all this tragedy around such beauty.
Below is another tale of about another haunted/Crused
'Chest' and how it ended
up in the NY Museamn's lower Vaults
Its Contributed by Ikeda, Jeremy
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An Early American Ghost Story
Contributed by Ikeda, Jeremy
In the early days of America, there
was a wealthy, predominant man who owned several plantations.
In this period of American history, the plantations were
farmed by slaves. The plantation owner was a very cruel and
abusive man toward his helpless slaves. He beat them like
dogs and treated them like sub humans.
At one point he noticed that one of
his slaves was a skilled woodsmith. He would make things that
were charming and skillfully crafted. The Master ordered his
slave to build him a chest of drawers that would be used for
his newly born daughter. The slave of course had no choice
but to do as he was ordered. So he created the chest.
It was very beautiful when it was
created. It was hand carved with intricate details. It had
obviously been painstakingly carved and stained in a rich
mahogany brown. But for some reason the Master did not like
the finished product. It angered him and he beat the young
man to death with an axe handle.
The other slaves there at the time
were shocked and terrified. Being mostly from what is now
Haiti, they were also very much influenced by voodoo. They
called upon a Shaman that was amongst them and begged him to
place a curse on the chest of drawers. He did. He used the
blood of an Owl and some other magic herbs to call the froces
of evil to live in the chest and curse the owner of the chest
to damnation and sorrow.
The Master eventually took the
chest into the house and used it as it had been planned. His
wife placed their new daughter's clothes into the chest.
Within one year the baby died. The Master was stricken with
grief over the death of such a young child. He took his own
life by hanging in the same year.
The wife of the master was left to
raise their 5 children by herself. She took the chest and
placed it in the attic. It stayed there for about 20 years.
It didn't move until her oldest son decided to get married.
That was when she gave the chest to him.
His wedding day came and went with
out indident. Later when his wife was doing some cleaning she
put her old wedding dress in the chest. She was later found
dead upon her husband's return. The husband was very upset
about this death and shipped all of his wife's belongings,
incluidng the chest to her sister.
The sister was married to an
Irishman. He was a kind man and a hard worker. He worked in
the shipyards. Everything went fine for a while. But all of a
sudden his attitude changed. He longed for city life and grew
tired of life with a wife and family. One day he ran away.
His wife did not have news of him until she was called to
identify a body. It was him. He had been killed when a gang
plank had pinned his head to the ground. Another victim of
The chest disappeared from history
until 1987. At that time it was given to a lady who was a
descendant of the plantation master. She had heard about the
curse and thought it to be only folishness, but to be safe
she contacted a local woman who was a voodoo high priestess.
The Priestess said the only way to
break the spell was to receive a dead owl without asking for
one, then to boil some magic herbs in a pot all day with the
owl in sight, then bury the two things together in the east
while the sun set.
Fortunate for her that same year a
friend of the chests new owner gave her son a stuffed owl for
a birthday present. So the owner used this and the magic
herbs to complete the removal of the curse. The two ladies
finally buried the objects in the east while the sun set.
The Priestess told the lady that if
she had lifted the curse successfully that the Priestess
would be dead before sunrise. As sure as clock work the chest
claimed it's last victim that night.