By Heather Konofsky
This Halloween, Hofstra held a walking ghost tour to give the community another perspective of the university’s history. The 10-minute walking tour – which included stories from on and off campus – was led by Brandon Jurewicz, a junior speech-language-hearing sciences and Spanish double major.
Jurewicz, an orientation leader, was a familiar face for freshmen who attended the event. “I did not know Brandon was going to be here, but he definitely made this worth my time,” said Shalita Bundy, a freshman biology major.
According to Debra Willett, the educational coordinator for the Long Island Studies Institute, the tour was developed to “be a fun idea for the Hofstra Community [so they could] learn a bit of Hofstra history.” This was the first time the university hosted the event. “We think everyone had a good time and we definitely look forward to doing this again in the future,” Willett said.
The tour began outside Hofstra Hall, formerly known as the Netherlands, which is the site of three deaths including both of the university’s founders, William and Kate Hofstra.
On May 11, 1932, William Hofstra died and was later buried on Friday the 13th. Kate Hofstra, William’s wife, was the second and sudden death occurring only a year later. Following Kate’s death, a public viewing was then held in Hofstra Hall. Six years later, former Hofstra College President Truesdel Peck Calkins died of a massive heart attack in his office on the third floor of the building.The second stop of the tour visited the site of Lieutenant Earl Hayward’s death in March of 1943. The pilot from Indiana crashed his plane during World War II at the age of 22. His plane struck a power line on Hempstead Turnpike before hitting multiple trees on campus. Finally, the plane struck Barnard Hall where he was killed on impact.
The final on-campus ghost story occurred in the John Cranford Adams Playhouse where Dean Samuel Thomas of the School of Business died on May 18, 1982. Thomas was at the Adams Playhouse to participate in a commencement but died by 9:30 p.m. that night.
“I knew nothing about Hofstra before coming here and I still don’t know much. I think it’s cool when students can participate in activities like this to learn more about their school,” said Asia Brown, a freshman biology major.
The tour also included the stories of three off-campus deaths. Starting with Starr Faithfull, a 25-year-old flapper, who was murdered in 1931. After her body was found washed up on a local beach, her younger sister was rumored to have said, “I’m not sorry she’s dead.” Her mysterious death caused widespread public speculation. One theory claimed that her stepfather was responsible while another points to a cruise ship employee Faithfull dated. Who killed her and the motive behind it remains a mystery.
Then, in 1979 on a farm in Hempstead, two women fought over an escaped cow. One woman shot the other five times. Before slipping into a coma, the woman was said to have told her husband that the shooter said, “Touch my pasture and I’ll blow your head off.”
Lastly, the story of Blanca and John de Saulles was told. Blanca de Saulles was just 16 years old when she fell in love with 31-year-old John de Saulles. Blanca de Saulles later divorced John de Saulles after he spent most of her money and had numerous affairs. She became furious when the court awarded him joint custody of their young son. One night when Blanca de Saulles drove to his house to pick up their son, he refused to let the child leave with her, so Blanca de Saulles shot and killed her ex-husband. The murder trial concluded with her walking away a free woman.
Even though the tour was brief, those who participated enjoyed it. “I was just looking through the events page and stumbled on this,” said Tony Williams, a freshman biomedical engineering major. “I thought it looked fun, so I figured I would check it out. I’m really glad I did.”