Stories for Halloween 1859 – 1920
It is only a few more days until Halloween and here are a few stories to get you in the mood. Watch for more stories on the 31st and buy or borrow my book, GHOSTS AND GRAVEYARDS — only $.99.
The Montgomery Times
October 17, 1912
A Halloween Poem
The night when goblins stalk
And banshees on the terrace walk;
When sad, sepulchral spirits dare
To seek a breath of midnight air.
Through darkened halls when daylight fades
They are glad to greet their friendly shades
While pumpkins grin.
The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer
Wheeling, West Virginia
September 24, 1859
Ghost in Lowell
They have a ghost in Lowell, Massachusetts, of a girl who was murdered there some fifteen or twenty years ago. It is pretended that a “medium” was informed that the existence of the mortal tenement of the spirit was brought to an untimely end by the hand of violence and buried in the cellar of a certain house. It is said, further, that the occupants of the house are deprived of the proper allowance of sleep on account of the noisy and unruly tendency of the hobgoblin which infests it. To prevent any further trouble, a policeman has been instructed to visit the premises and arrest the disorderly spirit for disturbing the peace.
The Idaho Statesman
Boise City, Idaho
January 15, 1898
Glove Fitting Coffin
Dr. J. H. Ford of Wabash, Indiana, 85 years old, has ordered his coffin built at the Wabash School Furniture company’s factory and Manager Lynn has undertaken to meet the careful specifications.
A workman was called in and the measurement of the subject was taken. The doctor enjoined upon Mr. Lynn the importance of having it not an inch too long, broad or deep. He wanted a glove fit. He objected to the conventional walnut, mahogany, and poplar stained to the color of dark woods and preferred quarter-sawed white oak finished in a natural color. It is to have a piano polish and will have a plate glass top for the upper half. The interior will be lined with white goods. The task of making the casket was entrusted to one of the skilled cabinet men of the shop.
Every day Dr. Ford calls at the factory to observe the progress and make suggestions. He proposes when the work is finished to take it home with him, though his friends hope it will be many years before he will need it.
The San Antonio Light
San Antonio, Texas
August 20, 1885
The Ghost Escaped
Several experiments have been tried by persons anxious to secure a ghost and to receive the reward offered by the Society for Psychical Research for a live ghost delivered on the society’s premises. One man, residing in a haunted house, covered the middle of a room in which a ghost was in the habit of walking with an inch of soft and very tenacious asphalt. The following night the ghost, who was an unusually large one, tried to walk over the asphalt and stuck fast to it. The experimenter instantly rushed to the ghost with withes [a slender branch used for tying] of witch-hazel and, as might have been expected, stuck fast himself just out of reach of the ghost. The latter, after a few minutes of struggling, extricated himself and disappeared but the investigator remained glued to the spot all night and was pried out by the servants in the morning. While this experiment seems to show that ghosts may be trapped with asphalt, it by no means followed that they can be tied and boxed.
New Haven Leader
New Haven, Missouri
June 24, 1920
A Voice From the Grave
While visiting Nashville, Tennessee, my ventriloquist son and I hired a car and driver for a sightseeing tour, writes a correspondent. In leaving the city we passed a private cemetery where the gravestones were close to the road and I noticed that our driver put on speed and rolled his eyes toward the spooky looking plot.
I was started myself to hear an unearthly groan come seemingly from beneath the nearest stone but turned in time to watch my son grinning before the driver put on a burst of speed that nearly threw us out. Then came another groan that seemed to come from the seat next to the driver and a deep voice that said: “I want you.”
That was just before we went over an embankment and our driver lit running down the road. It was an hour after he disappeared in the distance before we caught a ride back to the city.
The Voice of the People
August 4, 1917
A 200-Year-Old Gravestone
A gravestone which is 200 years old is one of the things of historic interest which commands the attention of sightseers to Salem, Massachusetts. It is the gravestone of Col. John Hathorne, who died May 10, 1717, and who was buried in the Charter Street burying ground in Salem. Colonel Hathorne was an ancestor of the famous Nathanial Hawthorne who is best known as the author of The Scarlet Letter. The colonel was one of the judges who tried the Salem witches, an incident which Salemites are glad to forget.
It will be noted that there is a difference in the spelling of the two Hawthornes. According to report, Nathanial, the author, disliked the odium which was brought on the family by reason of the colonel’s connection with the witchcraft cases so inserted a “w” in his name to take out the sting.
A rather hideous looking skull is placed at the head of the gravestone, although the design in itself is artistic enough.
The Evening Bulletin
February 21, 1895
They Think It’s a Ghost
Winamac, Indiana — Morris Stagmeyer, a wealthy farmer and landowner living near Pulaski, six miles south of this city, died very suddenly a few weeks ago, and his widow went to live with a married daughter. A few nights ago a mysterious light was seen moving from room to room of the vacant house by people passing by. Those who have seen the light assert that it is the old man’s ghost.
Fort Wayne Daily News
Fort Wayne, Indiana
February 5, 1875
Gravestones For Sale
The advertisement of a western stone cutter reads: “Those who buy tombstones from us look with pride and satisfaction upon the graves of their friends.”
New York, New York
July 5, 1896
His Coffin A Closet
John Frear, an aged gardener in Oakland, California, built an oak coffin some years ago in which he expects to be buried. Time passed and he did not die. Recently he stood the coffin up on end, put in a couple of shelves and some clothes hooks and now he uses the coffin as a closet.
The Valentine Democrat
April 30, 1896
Do you believe in ghosts? Do you wish to collect a rich and rare stock of flesh-creeping spook stories? If so, come to Washington, hie yourself to that great white building on the hill known as the Capitol, give one of the blue-coated guides an extra tip and he will take you amid the mazes of that wonderful building and regale you with enough dark tales to last you a lifetime. Or, if they do not satisfy you, pick an acquaintance with one of the seedy, hungry looking individuals you will find at the foot of the grand staircase, who ten to one is a professional guide also, and ask him to point out to you all the haunted houses in the city and tell you their weird histories. And either of these gentlemen will tell you what they believe to be the plan, unvarnished truth. The Capitol police have strange things to tell about the uncanny doings in the vaulted corridors after nightfall. The ghosts they tell about are not simple, everyday visitors from the land of the unseen, but the shades of distinguished men in the nation’s history. The majestic spiritual ego of John Quincy Adams, once President of the United States; of Vice-President Henry Wilson, a Massachusetts statesman; and of Gen. John A. Logan, famous in the field and forum, are said to haunt by night the echoing halls where legislators tread by day.
When the redoubtable Andrew Jackson was inaugurated, March 4, 1829, Adams retired for a short while to private life. It was not until February 21, 1848, that he died. He was at that time a representative and his passing away was tragic. During a session of the House, he suddenly slipped from his seat to the floor. Apoplexy, the doctors said. He was borne to a room nearby where not many hours later he died, with but a few murmured words.
It was not long after this unhappy even that there was whispering among the official who took care of the Capitol Building after dark that someone like unto the dead Adams was seen nightly to pass out of the speaker’s room and into the House chamber, which is now statuary hall, and wander about month the seats. It would pause beside the chair occupied by Adams and then gradually fade away into nothingness. After the seats were removed and statues placed in the hall the change apparently disconcerted the distinguished ghost, for, according to the who claimed to have seen the whole proceeding, the shade of the statesman wandered around and around the chamber and finally passed out without apparently having found his former place of daily occupation. But later a small bronze tablet was inserted in the floor, through the good offices of somebody who felt sorry for the ghost, upon the spot where John Quincy Adams’ chair used to stand. It is then said the ghost walked as before with every evidence of being once again at peace. This particular shade was seen on February 21 last and it not expected again until that date.
What purported to be the ghost of the beloved Vice President is said to move and have its ethereal being in the Vice President’s room, the marble room, where the Senators receive their callers, and in the corridors thereabouts. It was while in the first named apartment that Mr. Wilson was also suddenly visited by the angel of death, November 10, 1875, who remained with him until November 22, when he died after three severe shocks of apoplexy.
The apparition supposed to represent this poor man is occasionally declared to manifest itself suddenly as if evaluated out of thin air and as quickly vanish upon the approach of a mortal.
The spirit of Black Jack Logan is said to make its appearance at exactly twenty minutes after 11 o’clock midnight. The general was at one-time chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs and out of the committee room her emerges, taking care to close the door after him, and glides swiftly down the corridor, to disappear without trace or sound. This is perhaps the most substantial of all the Capitol ghosts, for there are numbers of person ready to attest having witnessed his mysterious passage through the gloomy halls.
But it does not take the actual appearance of these shades to make the Capitol a place of gruesomeness and awe at night. In the stillness that pervades a door shutting at one end of the long building may be dainty heard at the other, and a step in the rotunda will come back from all sides with starling echoing. It is one of the stories that every night there is a sound in the portico of the Senate wing as of someone scrubbing the marble floor and the noise of water being thrown down on it is plainly audible. Capitol officials tell of an aged negro who used to be one of the weeps, and who died a number of years ago, and who, they say, performs his early morning duties of washing up just a few hours before daybreak each day. This ghostly individual is the unseen terror of all the negro laborers who clean up around the Capitol, and they will not work without plenty of light on the subject.
It would give a timid person the fright of his life to walk across statuary hall at midnight in the dark. In no place in the vast building are the echoes so strange or so ghostly. There are a number of what are called echo stones, by stepping upon which and speaking one is astounded to hear his voice coming up apparently from beneath is feet. It is a trick the guides have of startling their customers by stepping up behind some pillar and just at the moment when the unwary tourist stands on a certain stone, giving voice to a harsh and sepulchral whisper that will reverberate in ghostly accent close to his ear.
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