A Ghost Report from the Daily Madisonian on January 22, 1844

51W+qO+32TL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_This is the very earliest ghost report in my collection. There might be earlier ones out there, but I don’t know about them.

The first line is interesting. The reporter says that, to many, the notion of a house being haunted had become “extinct.” As I discuss in the Introduction to my book version of Spectral Edition, few publications in the first half of the 1800s supported a belief in ghosts. In the U.S., it seems that the Civil War opened a door — if not for believing in ghosts — then for such belief to be addressed in newspapers.

1844-01-22 p2 Daily Madisonian [Washington DC]

This article is quoted in the Introduction of Spectral Edition: Ghost Reports from U.S. Newspapers, 1865-1917. Featuring close to 150 of the scariest, strangest, funniest, and most intriguing ghost reports from my collection of over 300, the book is available in paperback and Kindle format at Amazon in the U.S. or Amazon in the U.K.

Each Wednesday, I post another authentic ghost report here at the Merry Ghost Hunter.

Advertisements

A Ghost Report from the Barbour County Index on July 22, 1908

Perhaps the downside to keeping an open mind about ghosts is that a supernatural explanation might be believed when perfectly natural events are occurring. For instance, citizens of Jacksonville, New Jersey, kept far away from a house where “weird music” and “other strange sounds” were heard. They had assumed it was haunted.

A trio of ghost hunters investigated. As the headline makes clear, it wasn’t a ghost.

This article appears in the “Natural Explanations” chapter of Spectral Edition: Ghost Reports from U.S. Newspapers, 1865-1917. Featuring close to 150 of the scariest, strangest, funniest, and most intriguing ghost reports from my collection of over 300, the book is available in paperback and Kindle format at Amazon in the U.S. or Amazon in the U.K.

Each Wednesday, I post another authentic ghost report here at the Merry Ghost Hunter.

Another Vera Van Slyke Ghostly Mystery: “Dark and Dirty Corners”

the-v-filesWhen I inherited the manuscripts that make up Help for the Haunted: A Decade of Vera Van Slyke Ghostly Mysteries, 1899-1909, I assumed they were probably works of imaginative fiction that my great-grandaunt had written.

But then I started discovering real people named in them. Houdini was easy to spot, but there are less famous real people named, too. And the case titled “Dark and Dirty Corners” features Stickney House, a very real, very unusual house that still stands on the outskirts of Chicago. The stories about it being haunted continue to be told.

In “Dark and Dirty Corners,” Vera and Lucille travel to the prairie town where that house with rounded corners sits. They learn about Mrs. Stickney, one of the area’s first white settlers, and the death of her son there. These seem to be the spirits lingering in the house. But Mrs. Stickney was a headstrong and defiant woman, so her ghost is particularly difficult to exorcise.

Then again, Mrs. Stickney never had to a contend with the likes of Vera Van Slyke.

Learn more about Stickney House and the theories of why it had been built with rounded corners in this month’s FREE ghostly mystery, “Dark and Dirty Corners.” There’s a link to it in .pdf, .epub, and .mobi/Kindle formats on the Complimentary Haunting page.

Stickney House (2)

A Ghost Report from the Lewiston Evening Teller on January 13, 1904

51W+qO+32TL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Ghosts have a habit of attaching themselves to a particular place, be it a house, a cemetery, or a stretch of road. Some specters, though, attach themselves to people.

The son of Thomas Elliot is such a person. He tried to escape the spirit of his own father, but this proved to be impossible. In the end, the younger Elliot resigned himself to living as a haunted man.1904-01-13 p4 Lewiston Evening Teller [Idaho]This article appears in the “Haunted People” chapter of Spectral Edition: Ghost Reports from U.S. Newspapers, 1865-1917. Featuring close to 150 of the scariest, strangest, funniest, and most intriguing ghost reports from my collection of over 300, the book is available in paperback and Kindle format at Amazon in the U.S. or Amazon in the U.K.

Each Wednesday, I post another authentic ghost report here at the Merry Ghost Hunter.

On the History of the Term “Ghost Hunter”

Ghostology 101aI recently wandered down two very useful timelines. They’re both on the Cold Spot Paranormal Research website, and the first timeline looks at ghost hunting in the 1800s. The second continues this into the 1900s. Michelle McKay, who compiled these histories, was very smart to include some useful context. For instance, she marks key historical periods, such as the Victorian era, and notes important dates in related movements, such as Spiritualism.

Along the way, McKay raises the question of when the term “ghost-hunter” appeared. This is something I’ve wondered about, too. The Oxford English Dictionary — at least, the free version online — traces the phrase to 1894, when Andrew Lang used it in Cock Lane and Common Sense. To be sure, Lang even has an entire chapter there titled “Presbyterian Ghost Hunters,” suggesting the term was pretty well established by then.

Continue reading “On the History of the Term “Ghost Hunter””

A Ghost Report from the McCook Tribune on January 25, 1907

51W+qO+32TL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Is it Miles Fuller’s ghost terrorizing passengers who travel along the highway between Butte and Rocker, Montana? Fuller had been hanged for murder, and at least one witness says the specter looks like him.

But some evidence that suggests otherwise. Notably, there’s the female phantom accompanying the ghost. Fuller was not a man to keep such company.

Maybe death had changed his mind about women.

1907-01-25 p2 McCook Tribune [Nebraska]

This article appears in the “Haunted Roads” chapter of Spectral Edition: Ghost Reports from U.S. Newspapers, 1865-1917. Featuring close to 150 of the scariest, strangest, funniest, and most intriguing ghost reports from my collection of over 300, the book is available in paperback and Kindle format at Amazon in the U.S. or Amazon in the U.K.

Each Wednesday, I post another authentic ghost report here at the Merry Ghost Hunter.

A Ghost Report from the Democratic Northwest and Henry County News on October 18, 1894

51W+qO+32TL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_If asked to choose my favorite ghost report, this one would be a contender. (You can hear me read it by scrolling to the bottom of this page.)

It might be the “county borderline” setting. It might be the tragic tale of a spirit, who clings to the borderline between the living and the world beyond.

Whatever the reason, there’s a touching story in the fate of Lizzie Clark.

1894-10-18 p6 Democratic Northwest and Henry County News [Napoleon, Ohio]

This article appears in the “Haunted Grounds and Waters” chapter of Spectral Edition: Ghost Reports from U.S. Newspapers, 1865-1917. Featuring close to 150 of the scariest, strangest, funniest, and most intriguing ghost reports from my collection of over 300, the book is available in paperback and Kindle format at Amazon in the U.S. or Amazon in the U.K.

Each Wednesday, I post another authentic ghost report here at the Merry Ghost Hunter.

A Ghost Report from the Iola Register on June 22, 1888

51W+qO+32TL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_One of the most interesting experiences of compiling the Spectral Edition book was doing research into the lives of those reported to have returned as ghosts. From murderers and their victims to a lighthouse keeper gone missing, sometimes the backstory is as fascinating as the ghost report.

Here’s one of my shortest footnotes: “Adam Volkavitch was hanged in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, for the murder of Stanislaus Bioski.” It accompanies the ghost report below.

1888-06-22 p2 Iola Register [Kansas]

This article appears in the “Haunted Buildings Other than Houses” chapter of Spectral Edition: Ghost Reports from U.S. Newspapers, 1865-1917. Featuring close to 150 of the scariest, strangest, funniest, and most intriguing ghost reports from my collection of over 300, the book is available in paperback and Kindle format at Amazon in the U.S. or Amazon in the U.K.

Each Wednesday, I post another authentic ghost report here at the Merry Ghost Hunter.

 

A Minor Gem: Julian Hawthorne’s “The House Behind the Trees”

Unearthing the UnearthlyJulian Hawthorne’s literary career never really got out of the shadow of the literary career of his revered father, Nathaniel. It’s tough to compete when one’s daddy wrote The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables, after all. This is despite the son’s having written considerably more: “He out-published his father by a ratio of more than twenty-to-one,” says Gary Sharnhorst in a biography of the younger Hawthorne.

Sharnhorst also describes Julian as “a writer of modest talent . . . who tailored his tales to the demands of the market in the heyday of sensational fiction.” This is evident in “The House Behind the Trees,” a ghost hunter tale that is probably more interesting for the parentage of the author than for anything in the story itself. Continue reading “A Minor Gem: Julian Hawthorne’s “The House Behind the Trees””

Another Vera Van Slyke Ghostly Mystery: “Skittering Holes”

the-v-filesHaving solved the mystery of the haunted Scepter Theater, Vera decided to spend some time with her friend Lucille in Chicago.

It’s there that they met an elderly immigrant, a man who had cared for Lucille during her worst times. He was a talented musician — and he’d been experiencing something odd in his third-floor tenement room.

When he played his oboe in harmony with a phonograph, iridescent, purple “halos” appeared in the dark. And these unnatural, dangerous circles appeared to be holes to another dimension!

Learn more about this man, the violet circles, and their connection to Vera’s emerging theory regarding guilt and ghosts in “Skittering Holes.” There’s a link to it in .pdf, .epub, and .mobi/Kindle formats on the Complimentary Haunting page.

stairs-205718_960_720