February 29, 2008
Haunted Daytona Beach
By Dusty Smith
Publisher: The History Press (October 2007)
Pages: 124 - Price: $19.99
Interview by Jeff Belanger
Ghostvillage.com author interview
When one thinks of Daytona Beach, Florida, many images come to mind: car races, motorcycles, and college kids on Spring Break. But if you ask local paranormal investigator Dusty Smith what she sees, she'll tell you about the many haunted places in and around the "world's most famous beach." Smith's new book, Haunted Daytona Beach, takes you on a ghost tour through this Florida supernatural hot spot. Full of historical photos and chilling tales, Smith's book will give you a whole new reason to visit Daytona Beach. Ghostvillage.com caught be Dusty to discuss her new book.
How did you first get introduced to Daytona Beach's haunted side?
Dusty Smith: We were doing research for the ladies that own A Haunted Experience ghost tour in St. Augustine, Florida when Karen Harvey -- one of the owners -- asked me, "Doesn't Daytona have any ghosts? Why do you guys keep driving all the way up here to do research? Not that we don't love having you, but I'm sure Daytona must have some ghosts." That was when it hit me -- yes, Daytona must have some ghosts.
As you mention in your book's introduction, when people think of Daytona Beach they often think of NASCAR's Daytona 500, Bike Week, or Spring Break. Have you found any ghostly legends connected to any of those three events?
We did find some ghostly activity associated with the Daytona International Speedway, but were politely asked not to speak of it since it might be bad for their business. The Boot Hill Saloon has some interesting activity that may be associated with past visiting bikers -- there's no way for us to really tell who they are. And Spring Break is something we've never looked into since most of the deaths associated with that event are suicides and sheds a bad light on that event for the city of Daytona Beach.
How far back were you able to dig up ghostly legends connected to the Daytona Beach area?
The late 1500's when DeAviles slaughtered the French Huguenots in Matanzas Bay north of Daytona Beach (Matanzas means "Bay of Blood") and chased the remaining three survivors here to Daytona Beach. In 1984 a mass grave was uncovered near Washington Oaks State Park that was quickly covered back up with the official reason being that the victims must have had small pox -- all of them were beheaded, though -- which was DeAviles's favorite method of killing his victims. The famous saying, "drawing a line in the sand," comes from him. He would draw his sword, draw a line in the sand, and ask his potential victim to cross the line and convert to Christianity or die. All of the Huguenots chose to die on that particular day.
Your organization, the Daytona Beach Paranormal Research Group, has been investigating the region since 1997. What approach do you take to your research? Do you use psychics and sensitives? Scientific equipment? Both?
We use both. We tend to be more scientific on initial investigations and call in our sensitives when the need arises.
What is your favorite Daytona Beach haunt?
There are so many to choose from that is a hard question to answer. If I had to make a choice by level of activity I would say The Live Oaks Inn Bed and Breakfast. I recently wrote a chapter for Joanne Austin's new book about our investigations there -- so I don't want to give too much away, but readers will be very surprised about our findings there. If I had to make a personal choice -- it would have to be The Lady on the Bridge that was featured in the Encyclopedia of Haunted Places by Jeff Belanger. [editor's note: awww, thanks for the plug!]
What other projects are you currently working on?
I have been asked by The History Press to submit work for possibly two more books about the haunts in the Daytona Beach and Deland areas. Plus we are always adopting old cemeteries to restore and preserve as well as having a new magazine out called, Ankou, that is for taphophiles (people who enjoy cemeteries, funerary items, etc.), and new cases are always coming across my desk daily. Plus starting a new grave maintenance business to care for individual grave for folks who live out of the area and want/need care for their loved ones sites in Florida.
What's in your CD player right now? I have Enigma, Evanescence, System of a Down, Tool, Disturbed, and Lorrenna McKennit. Weird I know, but I have very eclectic tastes in music.