Every now and again, I hear from someone who has read Help for the Haunted: A Decade of Vera Van Slyke Ghostly Mysteries (1899-1909) — and can supply me with additional information on the people who interacted with the great ghost hunter.
Last week, I received a scan of a file photo from a librarian at St. Genesius College in Moncton, New Brunswick. The photo shows Dr. Geoffrey Wallace Livingstone Adams, who taught in the Department of Anthropology at that school. Adams was also very interested in cryptozoology, the study of species only rumored to exist. As a dedicated cryptozoologist, Adams traveled widely in search of what has come to be called Bigfoot. (In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the creature was better known as “wild man in the woods” and variations thereon.)
He had formed a curious theory, though, about why these creatures are so elusive. Some suggest they evolved a keen ability to hide in order to survive. Adams, however, speculated that they haven’t survived at all — and that they’re ghosts! “Ghosts of the missing link!” the scholar explained to Vera Van Slyke in 1908; “That transitional species between some primordial anthropoid very much like our modern chimp, gorilla, and orangutan cousins — and ourselves!”
To test this theory, Adams needed a skilled ghost hunter, and Van Slyke came recommended. Together, they traveled to investigate reports of a wild man in the woods lurking around the countryside near Paragould, Arkansas. The case was chronicled by my great-grandaunt, Lida Parsell, and I titled it “Monstrimony.” It’s the second-to-last of the thirteen cases found in Help for the Haunted.
I’ve also provided a link to a free copy of the story in .pdf, .epub. or .mobi format on the Complimentary Haunting page.
Unfortunately, the librarian who sent me the picture of Dr. Adams gave few additional details, but she said she’ll send me what she can find. Hopefully, in the near future, I’ll be able to provide more details than those found in “Monstrimony.” What other adventures did this British-born Canadian academic experience?
For now, it’s very satisfying to simply take a look at the innovative — if somewhat offbeat — cryptozoologist.