An American Ghost Gallery: The Newburyport Schoolhouse Ghost

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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.”

Continue reading “An American Ghost Gallery: The Newburyport Schoolhouse Ghost”

An American Ghost Gallery: The Mapleton Ghost

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Let me begin by stating that the ghost seen by rail passengers leaving Coney Island in August of 1894 proved to be a hoax. A very cruel hoax, too, given that it occurred in the spot where the body of suicide victim Margaret Barning had been found only days earlier. But it was this suicide that spurred people in and around Mapleton, New Jersey, to believe that what they saw was indeed the lingering spirit of a young woman who suffered a tragic death.

On Sunday, August 5th, 1894, Maggie Barning shot herself near the Mapleton railroad station. She was twenty-six years old. An article in New York’s The Evening World explains that her body hadn’t been identified until Wednesday. On Friday, according to The Sun, “scores of people on the Sea Beach train which left Coney Island at 1 o’clock” witnessed an apparition while passing the spot where Barning’s body had been found. A “tall and shadowylike” figure approached, “gesticulating as one would do trying to stop a train.” Blowing the whistle and applying the brakes didn’t stop the ghostly figure from continuing into a nearby woods, all the while moving its arms as if frantically bidding someone to follow.

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

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

Spectral EditionOn August 13, 1887, Adam Volkavitch and Stanislas Bioski were seen together. The next day, Bioski was found with pistol wounds, lying on the train tracks. He died two days later.

Volkavitch was convicted of murder and then hanged in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on April 3, 1888.

But the man’s wandering spirit was said to linger in the prison.

1888-06-22 p2 Iola Register [Kansas]

Each Wednesday, I post an actual ghost report from a U.S. newspaper published between 1865 and 1918. You can also hear me read the articles on The Big Séance and the History Goes Bump podcasts — or listen to previously released recordings here.

A Ghost Report from the Bisbee Daily Review on September 11, 1909

Spectral EditionA ghostly light has been appearing nightly in Northbridge, Massachusetts.

An assembly of 200 people witnessed the phenomenon, and many were terrified by it.

It was seen to vanish into a pond. Does the spirit of an undiscovered drowning victim seek help from the living?

1909-09-11 p3 Bisbee Daily Review [Arizonia]Each Wednesday, I post an actual ghost report from a U.S. newspaper published between 1865 and 1918. You can also hear me read the articles on The Big Séance and the History Goes Bump podcasts — or listen to previously released recordings here.

A Ghost Report from the St. Paul Daily Globe on September 24, 1891

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A Mississippi farmer is the victim of more than just a ghost out for revenge. This ghost is on a rampage.

Livestock and dogs are being killed, and the farmer himself was attacked in the dark.

His little daughter, though, can see the ghost — and she seems safe from it.

1891-09-24 p12 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 also hear me read the articles on The Big Séance and the History Goes Bump podcasts — or listen to previously released recordings here.

A Ghost Report from the Los Angeles Herald on April 27, 1905

Spectral EditionDr. Joseph King is calling it quits.

He tried to stay in the haunted house. However, the sudden bangs and the ghostly singing — and the time “when he was aroused by a cold, clammy object being placed on his face” — proved to be too much.

1905-04-27 p1 Los Angeles Herald [California]

Each Wednesday, I post an actual ghost report from a U.S. newspaper published between 1865 and 1918. You can also hear me read the articles on The Big Séance and the History Goes Bump podcasts — or listen to previously released recordings here.

 

A Ghost Report from the Charleston Daily News on September 16, 1869

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A house in Charleston exhibits signs of being haunted: the rattling of chains, locked doors opening noiselessly, and a shuffling of feet.

But there was no history to explain why a ghost might linger there. One brave ghost hunter set forth to determine the truth of the haunting.

Sometimes, things are not as they seem.

1869-09-16 p3 Charleston Daily News [South Carolina]Each Wednesday, I post an actual ghost report from a U.S. newspaper published between 1865 and 1918. You can also hear me read the articles on The Big Séance and the History Goes Bump podcasts — or listen to previously released recordings here.

A Ghost Report from the Wichita Daily Eagle on January 24, 1896

Spectral EditionOne of the silliest ghost reports I’ve uncovered. A riderless bicycle seems to pursue Peter Cooley.

In fact, the phantom bicycle passed through Cooley’s cow — as “green balls of fire fell from the tips of her horns.”

Sadly, the cow did not survive. But Cooley now believes in ghosts!

1896-01-24 p5 Wichita Daily Eagle [Kansas]

Each Wednesday, I post an actual ghost report from a U.S. newspaper published between 1865 and 1918. You can also hear me read the articles on The Big Séance and the History Goes Bump podcasts — or listen to previously released recordings here.

A Ghost Report from the Memphis Daily Appeal on January 18, 1888

Spectral EditionA tenement house in Concord, New Hampshire, is riddled with inexplicable sounds: raps, whistles, groans, rattlings, and more.

More than one team of ghost hunters have spent the night at the house. But no physical cause for the disturbances could be found.

1884-1-18 p1 Memphis Daily Appeal [Tennessee]Each Wednesday, I post an actual ghost report from a U.S. newspaper published between 1865 and 1918. You can also hear me read the articles on The Big Séance and the History Goes Bump podcasts — or listen to previously released recordings here.