A Ghost Report from the St. Paul Daily Globe on February 26, 1886

Spectral EditionIn life, a Connecticut woman is haunted by her.

In death, she seems to haunt the house where she committed a horrible act.

And Mr. And Mrs. Ray just wanted to use that house as a summer retreat.

1886-02-26 p1 St. Paul Daily Globe [Minnesota]

Each Wednesday, I post an actual ghost report from a U.S. newspaper published between 1865 and 1918. You can hear me read many of the ghost reports here, readings first heard on episodes of The Big Séance and the History Goes Bump podcasts.

UPDATE: Transcribing enough ghost reports to fill a book has been fun but tiring work, but I’m on the fourth chapter of Spectral Edition: Ghost Reports from U.S. Newspapers, 1865-1918. I hope to have the book available before the end of year — ideally before Halloween!

A Ghost Report from the Charlevoix County Herald on November 13, 1915

Spectral Edition

The dimly seen ghost of a soldier stood on a particular block of Carrollton Avenue in New Orleans.

There were many, many witnesses.

But there were no answers as to why the apparition appeared when and where it did.

1915-11-13 p6 Charlevoix County Herald [East Jordan, Michigan]

Each Wednesday, I post an actual ghost report from a U.S. newspaper published between 1865 and 1918. You can hear me read many of the ghost reports here, readings first heard on episodes of The Big Séance and the History Goes Bump podcasts.

NOTE: I am very close to finishing the first chapter of a Spectral Edition book. Look for updates on my progress here at The Merry Ghost Hunter site and on my Facebook author page.

4-Question Interview: Tony Walker

present-tensionsWhile hunting for ghosts on the Web, I came across a site titled simply: Ghost Stories. It’s “a blog to discuss, present, curate and review classic ghost stories, Gothic fiction and Weird Tales,” and it’s managed by Tony Walker.

Tony is also a writer, and the plot of his novel Unreal City is introduced this way: “Hard-boiled detective Christian Le Cozh is hired by a man who thinks his wife was killed by a vampire.  Le Cozh is sceptical but he needs the money. He accompanies his client to a graveyard at midnight to persuade him to get medical help. Then things go wrong and he has to hunt the beasts, before they hunt him.”

Continue reading “4-Question Interview: Tony Walker”

4-Question Interview: C.A. Verstraete

present-tensionsI met author C.A. (Christine) Verstraete during the October Frights Blog Hop of last year. I quickly ordered her new book, Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter, intrigued by the notion of turning the most famous matricidal/patricidal figure in American history into an occult detective. Though I admit I haven’t yet read the novel, it seems like a very promising next step from — and a clever spin on — Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2009) and his Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter (2010).


A mystery runs through Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter, a sinister puzzle that Borden must solve. As I say, she’s presented as an occult detective, and as I do with my Vera Van Slyke chronicles, Verstraete interweaves historical fact with supernatural fiction in this novel. Her other work has been published in various anthologies and magazines, including Mystery Weekly, Siren’s Call and Happy Homicides 3: Summertime Crime. She’s also the author of a young adult novel, GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie.

Continue reading “4-Question Interview: C.A. Verstraete”

An American Ghost Gallery: The Punchbowl Ghost

Spectral Edition

In a book titled Legends of Old Honolulu (1915), Ka Hula O Na Aumakua describes that famous city’s Punchbowl region this way: “Punchbowl lies back of Honolulu. It is an extinct volcano. Inside the crater rim lies a basin whose sides are grass-covered, with groups of trees here and there. The little houses and small gardens of squatters show that there is no longer any fear of subterranean activity.”

The writer goes on to narrate one of the area’s legends. Long ago, Kakei, “the moi, or high high ruling chief of Oahu,” had proudly returned from plundering the village of Waimea on the island of Kauai. Surveying his ill-gotten riches and kidnapped women and children, the warrior decided a great feast was in order and its site should be Punchbowl Hill. However, as the celebration began, earthquakes cracked the earth’s crust. “The side of Punchbowl Hill opened and a flood of lava poured out, mixed with clouds of bursting masses of steam and foul gases.” The eruption threatened not just the feast but the lives of those attending. Amid the calamity, the spirits of the victims’ ancestors appeared “in a solemn and stately dance. Back and forth they moved to the rhythm of steady peals of bursting gasses. The clouds swayed to and fro, while ghosts moved back and forth among them.” The ghostly ancestors had come to rescue the kidnapped women and children. Not until Kakei made reparation to Waimea for his plundering did the earthquakes, lava flow, and spectral dancing cease. “It is said that the fire never again returned to that crater or to the island of Oahu.”

Continue reading “An American Ghost Gallery: The Punchbowl Ghost”

4-Question Interview: John Linwood Grant

present-tensionsAs one gets to know John Linwood Grant, one learns certain canine-related words. Lurcher, for instance. And since looking that up, I now know what a sighthound is. I’m a better man for it.

Really thin dogs — think greyhounds and whippets — appear a lot on John’s website, greydogtales, which is dedicated to “weird fiction, weird art, and even weirder lurchers.” There’s a lot of information about authors working in the occult detective cross-genre and related areas of supernatural fiction. Like myself, John both writes about the stuff while also writing the stuff. His The Last Edwardian series is rooted in the same era as my Vera Van Slyke chronicles, but his stories are based much more on a cast of characters. He’ll introduce you to them.

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4-Question Interview: Brian P. Easton

present-tensionsBrian P. Easton grew up on the south end of Illinois — with its corn and coal. He writes about werewolves. I grew on the north end of that state — with its corn and cows. I write about ghosts. And, of course, Abe Lincoln was a vampire-hunter. We’re pretty much ready for any supernatural contingencies in the Prairie State.

Brian has written a trilogy of novels about a character named Sylvester L. James: Autobiography of a Werewolf Hunter, Heart of Scars, and The Lineage. A prequel is nearing completion. I asked Brian to answer my four usual questions to introduce us to his werewolf hunter. Continue reading “4-Question Interview: Brian P. Easton”

An American Ghost Gallery: The Brinkley College Ghost

Spectral Edition

In early March of 1871, news of a ghost haunting Memphis’s Brinkley Female College made headlines. The Avalanche and the Public Ledger reported that the ghost wandered and spoke, even mentioning that its name was Lizzie. More dramatically, the chatty phantom claimed to own the property on which the college had been built. The deed and other valuable items, declared the ghost, were buried beside a particular tree stump on campus.

All of this was said to a thirteen-year-old girl named Clara Robertson. Clara was the only witness to the ghostly proclamation, according to the Public Ledger, and her history of suffering from a nervous temperament cast some suspicions on her experience. Nonetheless, her story excited enough interest that a deep hole was dug by that stump. Curious onlookers had to be dispersed by the police. Disappointingly, nothing spectacular was unearthed. The reporter, though, shrewdly predicted, “The ghost of Lizzie is not yet at rest, and we look for further manifestations from this disembodied spirit.”

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4-Question Interview: Robert Valentine and Jack Bowman

present-tensionsAbout the time that I was writing scripts for Marvellous Boxes, my Twilight Zone-ish audio drama anthology, Robert Valentine and Jack Bowman were already winning awards for their work on The Springheel Saga. This audio drama series is told as a trilogy of trilogies: three episodes establish The Strange Case of Springheel’d Jack, three more continue The Legend of Springheel’d Jack, and the final three episodes reveal The Secret of Springheel’d Jack.

It’s a series I’ve been enjoying and recommending for a few years now. Yes, it features a distinctive occult detective character named Jonah Smith. However, I’m more drawn to the high quality of the writing, the cinematic feel of the production, and the performances of the actors — most all of them with lengthy and impressive credentials.

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An American Ghost Gallery: The Newburyport Schoolhouse Ghost

Spectral Edition

At least two ghostly mysteries gained national attention in the early 1870s, when the U.S. was still feeling the trauma of the Civil War. One concerns a phantom that roamed Memphis’s Brinkley Female College in 1871. You can read about that here.

The other ghost was also drawn to a school, but this time, an elementary school in Newburyport, Massachusetts. The earliest report I’ve found so far was printed in late November, 1872. The writer of this article, which appeared in The New Orleans Republican, opens by listing the alleged manifestations: first rappings, then latches lifted, and finally a pale boy who appeared at a window and glided inside — but who vanished into nothingness when the teacher attempted to grab him. The writer ends by expressing not just skepticism but outrage at the seriousness given to the allegations, especially the investigation promised by a school committee. “Of course there is no ghost,” the reporter insists, “and no face of a deceased boy had been seen looking through the window, and no ghost has been grasped at by the teacher.”

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