Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Kapunda's First International Celebrity - Mickey Pynn

The Australian Tom Thumb – Mickey Pynn

 In 1870, traveling circus and sideshows were one of the main forms of entertainment for the citizens of the world, including those who lived in rural South Australia.
 We in South Australia would often gather together to watch the entertaining magic shows of Mr Vertelli, or a passing circus, but every so often we would be gifted with the presence of a international act, such as “General Tom Thumb” (real name: Charles Sherwood Stratton ) from the USA, who had just come from successful live shows in England.
 General Tom Thumb had achieved international stardom as a side show act for P.T. Barnum, Circus Pioneer throughout the US and Europe, and came to Australia to perform, including Kapunda.

 It was his exclusive trip and side show act in Kapunda that brought Kapunda local lad, Mickey Pynn to the forefront, and made him Kapunda's first international celebrity.

Mickey Pynn lived with his family just south of Kapunda, where the hill rises near the Greenock road turn off the House still stands
Mickey Pynn - SLSA: B57230
 A family member, or perhaps a family friend seeing an opportunity to make some money from Mickey's condition, held an “exhibition” of Mickey in The Miners Arms Hotel, owned by William Tremaine (My own Great-Great Grandfather).
 The exhibition caught the attention of General Tom thumb who asked to meet young Mickey and was astounded that he was almost a full two inches shorter than him.
 This led to Mickey being hired by the company that the U.S. Tom thumb had established (a very lucrative company, that would eventually bail out P.T. Barnum when financial strife almost collapsed his circus empire). Mickey would soon be travelling the world as a Circus midget and sometimes side show act under various names including “The Afghan Dwarf” and “The Australian Tom Thumb”, but this did not stop him from performing here in South Australia, nor in Kapunda.
In fact, “The Australian Tom Thumb” performed on occasion with his good friend John Morcom, better known as Magician “Vertelli”
 In an early career show that starred Mickey and Vertelli in The North Kapunda Hotel, it was written by a newspaper correspondent in the Kapunda Herald and Northern Intelligencer (March 3rd 1871) the following:

"The diminutive Tom Thumb is a pleasing simple little fellow, whose greatest feat is to scratch his head like a bear with his toes his knees being kept straight during this interesting operation. He is said to be 17 years of age, not deformed, rather of a serious turn of mind, and has a look of great gravity previous to turning a somersault. If the Signor could induce a beard and whisker to grow, be would be a decided hit, and might put."the General" into the shade—being some inches shorter."

 It is written elsewhere that Mickey's life contained many ups and downs over the years, but it would seem he often struggled with his inner demons, and took to drink, as attested in the following two stories in Sydney newspaper “The Evening News” in 1906, the stories being published only months apart:

Evening News: Sydney: Monday 3 September 1906

'What has he been, doing?' asked Mr. Smithers, S.M., at the Central Police Court this moraine. The magistrate's query had reference to Michael Pynn, 53, described on the sheet as an acrobatic dwarf. The offence against him was that of being drunk and disorderly on Saturday evening in George-street. 'He was running after women, and catching hold of them' said the sergeant, looking severely at the little man in the dock. 'He has been locked up^ since Saturday.' ''He was here on Saturday morning for being drunk,' said a policeman.
Solicitor: He should be let off with half the usual fine your Worship
 ' The dwarf, who stood a little over 3ft high, was fined 5s."

Evening News - Sydney Wednesday 31 October 1906

"The name of Michael Pynn was called at the Central Police Court this morning, and a man of 57 . years, but of diminutive stature, answered the call. He was so little that his head did not reach to within 2ft of the top of the dock rail.
 Pynn looked between the rail at the magistrate, and in a loud tone pleaded guilty to a charge of being drunk in Castlereagh street.
'He has been coming here frequently, lately, saw police prosecutor Davis. 'He goes about the street, and 'shapes' up -to men 6ft high, twice his own height. A short sojourn in gaol would do him good, and keep him from giving way entirely to drink.'  Pynn, it was ascertained, sometimes gives the police trouble, and on Tuesday it needed the united forces of Constables Lambert and Hardiman to convey, him to the lock-up. A fine of 20s, or 14 days, was imposed."

 In his later years, Mickey retired to Sydney where he saw out his last days, firstly in Lidcombe in a men’s home, where it was reported his “appetite is vigorous, though rheumatism affected his walk”.
 Soon he moved to a different home in Liverpool, one with immaculate gardens, and better conditions for this once sought after entertainer. Attendants of the Men's Home spoke well of Mickey saying “He was always ready to do what little he could about the place, and amuse the other inmates with his "double jointed" tricks”
 Kapunda's first international celebrity, Mickey “The Australian Tom Thumb” Pynn passed away on the 22 of June 1929 in Sydney NSW.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016


G'day loyal readers of The Haunt of Adelaide, 

 For the past four years I have presented, on a weekly basis a story about Adelaide, or somewhere in South Australia that features a paranormal, crime, weird, ghost or historical theme.
 As some of you are aware, I have changed the direction of my writing to include of all Australia and New Zealand, not because I have run out of stories about Adelaide, but because I want to broaden the blogs appeal.
 Rather than dilute this blog with Australian stories, I have decided to keep it "as is" and maintain its integrity as South Australia's leading "paranormal blog", so instead of posting the new "Paranormal Down Under" blog posts here, they will appear on a new blog over on Tumblr
you can find it here: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/paranormaldownunder

From time to time I will post new Adelaide-centric stories here on this blog, but they wont be at weekly intervals as before... but for now, I am taking a little break from writing as I work on other projects that are taking shape for 2017.

For those of you interested, Haunting: Australia is going to re-air from December 3rd on Syfy Australia at 8:30pm - it'll be weir to watch thinking the narrator David Ritchie, and my buddy Gaurav Tiwari have passed on to the other-side now, may they both rest in peace, and not be forgotten!

Until next time
Happy Hauntings
Allen Tiller

Tuesday, 15 November 2016


This week I thought I might take a different approach and discuss some of the classifications of Apparitions.
What is an apparition?
 Dictionary.com defines the word as a supernatural appearance of a person or thing, especially a ghost; a spectre or phantom; wraith:”

Crisis Apparition:  A crisis apparition are visions of a person, who may be under duress or undergoing a crisis. They can involve death, severe injury or severe illness.
These apparitions are extremely common but very hard to verify, as one has to “be there” at the right time to see them. It is believed by some in the paranormal community that the “sender” of the apparition, the person under duress, “sends out” a ghostly image of themselves telepathically to a person, or people, who they have had a close personal relationship with.
Collective Apparition:  This is a ghost or apparition witnessed by multiple people at once.
Death Bed Apparition:  These are the ghosts witnessed by people upon, or before the impending death of a loved one.
 Occasionally these apparitions are living people (*Bilocation), deceased loved ones or religious figures described by the dying person as standing beside or near their deathbed as they pass away.
Reciprocal Apparition:  These are a type of apparition where both of the “ghosts” are actually still alive when they see each other, and both remember the details of their spectral meeting. They are considered very rare.
 There is speculation that they can occur from extreme emotional states such as loneliness or worry, or missing each other so intently, that both parties manifest before each other.

Reincarnation Apparition:  These are apparitions that can appear in dreams to a family member, indicating that the “apparition” or soul, will be born into the family of the dreamer in the near future.

Religious Apparitions:  Apparitions of important religious figures are common place across the world. These apparitions can be omens for change, for disaster or for comfort.

Verdical Apparition:  These are apparitions that can convey verifiable information to the witness. For example, they may deliver a message such as “My body is buried in the place marked X”, and in fact, their body can be found in the spot stated.
 They may also appear in the act of dying their own death, which is verifiable via newspaper stories.
Often these apparitions are residual in nature, but on occasion they have been documented as intelligent and interactive.

Written and Researched by Allen Tiller.

apparition. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved September 8, 2016 from Dictionary.com website http://www.dictionary.com/browse/apparition
Apparitions. 2016. Apparitions. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.studiesoftheparanormal.com/apparitions.html. [Accessed 08 September 2016].
Dictionary.com. 2016. Veridical | Define Veridical at Dictionary.com. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/veridical. [Accessed 08 September 2016].
West, T, Death Bed Visions and Escorts, Encyclopedia of Death and Dying,  viewed 8 Sept 2016,http://www.deathreference.com/Da-Em/Deathbed-Visions-and-Escorts.html

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Mr. UFO – Colin Norris

Mr. UFO – Colin Norris

30 Sept 1920 – 13 July 2009

 Colin Norris, known to the South Australian media as “Mr UFO” was a colourful and controversial figure in the South Australian paranormal community.
 Mr Norris fashioned himself as a “UFO expert” and could often be found at the forefront of any media presentation about the subject during the 1980’s and 1990’s, but his story began much earlier than that.

Mr Norris was schooled on the South Australian West Coast and eventually found himself a member of the RAAF based in Geraldton, Western Australia. Norris was employed as the turret gunner, positioned in the nose of a Liberator Bomber, stationed to patrol the South Pacific.

 It was during one of the World War Two routine patrols over the South Pacific that Norris experienced his first of many UFO encounters. Described by military personnel at the time as a “Foo Fighter”, Norris witnessed what he described as “flying disc of metallic colours, being brown with a purple U shape around its perimeter”.
 Another eye witness report often talked about by Norris was an encounter on the air force runway tarmac in which Norris described a flying disc hovering over him silently. The object beamed a blue light into his head, which left a scar on his head that Norris was eager to show off as “unexplainable”.

 Over the next decade Norris took a great interest in the large amount of new UFO sightings that were beginning to become a regular occurrence around the world. In 1957 he joined his first UFO research group “Australian Flying Saucer Research Society”, headed by Ufologist, Fred Stone.
 In 1962, Norris would take leadership position of Vice President of the group after the departure of Fred Stone.
 In 1965, Norris was invited to be a guest speaker at the Ballarat UFO conference where he delivered a presentation titles “History of UFOs”. Later in 1971 he was a guest speaker at the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science symposium on UFO’s.

 Norris claimed during the 1970’s that he was in contact with academics in the USSR, this brought him to the attention of ASIO.

 Norris became the highest profile South Australia UFO researcher during the 1980’s, which culminated with an appearance on the Mike Walsh Show on national day time television. His detractors often accused Norris of seeking publicity, but never revealing much detail about cases or sightings.

 Norris collected huge amounts of data on UFO sightings across South Australia, a collection that passed on to his son after his death in 2009. Norris was competent researcher, investigator and story teller, and brought the field of Ufology into the public forum with his own flair.
 His contribution to Australian UFO research, bringing UFO documentation into the mainstream and removing stigma, is undeniable and should be lauded by the Australian paranormal community, which tends to forget those that came before them.

 Vale Collin Norris,” Mr UFO” one of many pioneers of Australian UFO research

Written and researched by Allen Tiller


Eidolon Paranormal Australia: UFO Sighted in Adelaide, South Australia. 2016. Eidolon Paranormal Australia: UFO Sighted in Adelaide, South Australia. [ONLINE] Available at: http://eidolonparanormal.blogspot.com.au/2014/03/ufo-sighted-in-adelaide-south-australia.html. [Accessed 14 September 2016].

Keith Basterfield. 2007. THE SOUTH AUSTRALIAN UFO STORY. [ONLINE] Available at: https://ufosa.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/south_australian_ufo_story.pdf. [Accessed 14 September 2016].

The Advertiser, Nathan Davies. 2016. National Archives’ SA director Nick Gleghorn to deliver talk on ‘real-life’ documentation of UFOs. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/national-archives-sa-director-nick-gleghorn-to-deliver-talk-on-reallife-documentation-of-ufos/news-story/e3695443e883da3315f216998261eccc. [Accessed 22 September 2016].

theozfiles: The Passing of South Australia's - "Mr. UFO" COLIN NORRIS (1920 - 2009). 2016. theozfiles: The Passing of South Australia's - "Mr. UFO" COLIN NORRIS (1920 - 2009). [ONLINE] Available at: http://theozfiles.blogspot.com.au/2009/07/passing-of-south-australias-mr-ufo.html. [Accessed 14 September 2016].

UFO spotters focus on outback skies | The National. 2016. UFO spotters focus on outback skies | The National. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/environment/ufo-spotters-focus-on-outback-skies. [Accessed 14 September 2016].

Photo’s: http://www.australiancosmicconnection.com.au/images/moz-screenshot-12.jpg