Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Resurrection Mary

The "vanishing hitchhiker" is a story that is told over and over, a good campfire story to have in one's repertoire.

The basic story is this: A man, driving down the street late at night, sees a young woman in a pretty dress waving at him. He stops, and she tells him that she needs a ride home. He agrees, and offers her his jacket, since it is cold outside and her dress is thin. When they arrive at the address she gave him, he is shocked to discover that she is no longer in the car. It's far too late for him to knock on the door of the house, so he returns the following day. The door is answered by a weary-looking man or woman, and the young man tells of the woman who asked to be brought home.

The homeowner tells him that the young woman was the daughter of the house. She was killed in a car accident near the place where he picked her up.

Unable to believe it, he drives to the cemetery where (he was told) she is buried. He finds her tombstone easily enough, because draped neatly over it is his jacket.

This story has a factual basis. Starting in the 1930s, dozens of men have reported picking up a young woman, wearing a fancy but thin dress, when driving northeast on Archer Avenue in Justice, Illinois. The routine was the same, every time. As the driver neared Resurrection Cemetery, his passenger asked to be let out, and promptly vanished into the cemetery. Hence, the name "Resurrection Mary".

Was Mary real? She may well have been. The popular story is that Mary was dancing at a nearby ballroom in the 1930s when she and her date had an argument. Mary stormed out of the ballroom into an Illinois winter night, clad only in her dress, shoes, and shawl, clutching her purse. She never made it home. A driver struck her as she walked along Archer Avenue, and immediately fled the scene. Mary died in the street; her parents had her buried in Resurrection Cemetery, wearing a white dress and her dancing shoes.

Mary has spent more time out of the grave than in it, according to reports. She is usually seen in the winter months; sometimes walking down Archer Avenue, sometimes hitching a ride, sometimes inside the cemetery gates, looking out. The TV show Unsolved Mysteries did a segment on Mary as part of a series of shows on the supernatural, with many fascinating stories, including one from a couple who saw her walking down the street, but could not see her face.

It's Halloween. Will Mary come out to dance tonight?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Your Stories

Please feel free to send in your stories of the supernatural - something that happened to you, a family member, a friend, an occurrence in the area where you live, etc.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Some Halloween Viewing

Here are some movies that are highly recommended during any season, but especially for Halloween:

The Changeling, 1979.

This is not to be confused with the 2008 film with almost the same title. George C. Scott plays a man who has experienced a double tragedy, and moves across the country to rebuild his life. Unfortunately for him, his magnificent rental house is haunted.

Night of the Living Dead, 1968.

The one that started an entire, wildly popular genre. Seven people take refuge in an isolated Pennsylvania farmhouse when the dead reanimate and eat the living.

The Haunting, 1963.

Based on Shirley Jackson's classic novel The Haunting of Hill House. Four people investigate the supernatural in Hill House, long known to be haunted.

Evil Dead, 1981.

Five college students rent a cabin in the middle of nowhere, and find a reel-to-reel tape in the basement. Playing the tape causes horrific - and gruesome - results.

Psycho, 1960.

A true classic, often imitated and ripped off, never equaled. 12 cabins, 12 vacancies ... and a convenient swamp nearby.

The Birds, 1963.

A coastal community in Northern California is besieged by bird attacks.

The Norliss Tapes, 1973.

An author who has written a book debunking mediums, seances, and the like is asked to investigate strange happenings on a rich widow's estate. He gets far more than he'd bargained for.

Dead of Night, 1945.

A man has a recurring dream of traveling to a stately manor and meeting a group of people. When the dream comes true, he finds himself wondering what is real and what is fantasy.

Dead of Night, 1977.

NOT a remake of the 1945 classic. This is an anthology of three stories, the last of which is horrifying.

The Exorcist, 1973.

A young girl begins to exhibit bizarre behavior. After her mother exhausts all other forms of treatment, she turns to an exorcist.

Salem's Lot, 1979.

A well-known writer comes to the small Maine town where he lived as a child, only to find that the town is being taken over by vampires.

Angel Heart, 1987.

A private detective in 1955 New York City is hired by a mysterious businessman to track down a former client, who vanished after World War II. The detective finds himself in over his head.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

La Clairon's Ghost

Eighteenth-century French actress La Clairon (born Claire Leris) came from humble beginnings, which made her rise to fame all the more remarkable. The daughter of unmarried parents, she made her stage debut at the age of thirteen in the year 1736. She worked (and, quite possibly, slept) her way up the career ladder, and at the age of twenty, she landed the title role in Racine's play Phรจdre.

That same year, she attracted the admirer she remembered longer, and for a very different reason, than any other. In her memoirs, La Clairon referred to this young man as "M. de S--". Like her, he came from a humble background. Unlike her, he did everything he could to hide it. La Clairon was put off when he confided in her that he was pretending to be a member of the upper class; she also resisted his need to have her all to himself. Furthermore, he was less than stellar company, being depressed much of the time.

As time went on, his obsession with her became the focus of his life. La Clairon then took measures to end the relationship. She stopped meeting him, refused his letters, and spent most of her time working. M. de S-- went into a deep depression, worsened by the fact that his financial situation was precarious; La Clairon sent him money, but continued to refuse his letters.

One night, he sent word begging her to see him. La Clairon would have done so, but she was entertaining friends, who talked her out of it. She had no idea that her former lover was dying. 

He died that night, at eleven o'clock. At that time La Clairon's friends had been entertained by her singing, and as the applause faded, a horrible cry sounded through the room. La Clairon realized immediately that M. de S-- had died, and persuaded some of her guests to stay with her that night.

The cry rang out at fairly regular intervals for some months, and finally faded - only to be replaced by a sound as if a gunshot had been fired. This noise was heard every night at eleven o'clock

This sound, after some time, also disappeared, and La Clairon began to hear sounds of hands clapping, and finally, a mysterious melody she could never remember later.

During this time, her career had skyrocketed, and her income far exceeded anything she had every known before. She moved to a better and more fashionable house, deciding to rent the old one. Most of Paris now knew of the hauntings, and quite a few people came to view the old house simply out of curiosity. One visitor was an elderly woman who insisted upon seeing La Clairon, stating that she had been a friend of M. de S--. The actress met with her immediately.

The old woman told La Clairon that she had taken care of M. de S-- during his final illness, and that when the young woman failed to visit her former lover, he swore that he would haunt her for as long as he had been obsessed by her.

Indeed, he did. The affair and its aftermath had lasted for two and a half years, as did the haunting.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Tarot readings

In keeping with the Halloween season, I highly recommend that anyone wanting a tarot reading contact this guy.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Headless Horror

Shady Lane, in Ashford in the Water, Derbyshire, UK, looks like a good place to avoid. It is said to be haunted by the ghosts of twelve pallbearers, each of them headless. They carry a coffin - an empty one.

The coffin awaits the body of anyone unlucky enough to see the twelve pallbearers.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Ghost Train

Marshall Pass, in Colorado, is the site of a very intriguing ghost tale involving a train - and more.

In the 1880s, Marshall Pass was on a commonly-used railroad line, and it was haunted by a ghost train. One night, engineer Nelson Edwards had an experience that was never to be forgotten.

As the train was ascending, Edwards received a signal that he was to stop. The conductor, when asked, said that he had given no such signal; he went on to say that they should rather increase speed, because another train was following theirs.

Edwards did so, reaching the high point of the track, and beginning to descend. It was then that he saw a freight train behind them. The train grew closer, and Edwards and the conductor both saw the engineer of the other train - and he was laughing at them.

As the terrifying chase continued, Edwards saw a warning light ahead to stop the train. Figuring that the other train would hit his anyway, he applied the brake, and went through a crowd of several railroad workers, not one of whom was a living person. His train stopped safely - but the other train derailed and went off a cliff. As it fell, it vanished.

The following morning, Edwards found this message written in the frost on his window:

“Years ago a frate train was recked as you saw- now that yu saw it, we will never make another run. The enjine was not ounder control and four sexshun men wore killed. If you ever ran on this road again yu wil be killed.”

Edwards didn't, and he wasn't. He left the company (Rio Grande) and found work as an engineer for Union Pacific. Nobody ever saw the ghost train again.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Burton Agnes Hall and the Screaming Skull

Young Anne Griffiths was so fond of her home, Burton Agnes Hall, that she was determined never to leave.

While walking in a park one day, Anne was attacked by a thief. She was brought back to the hall, badly wounded, but still coherent. Knowing that she was dying, Anne made her sisters promise that they would have her head severed from her body after death, and keep the head in her beloved home.

Her sisters, understandably, had her body buried intact - and that's when all hell broke loose. All sorts of strange sounds were heard at the Hall - footsteps, doors slamming, and moaning, until finally, Anne's body was exhumed for the gruesome operation. When the coffin was opened, her head was found to be separated from the body, and lacking all flesh and hair. In short, the head was now a skull, and ready to be installed in Burton Agnes Hall.

One day, a servant wrapped the skull in cloth and tossed it into the back of a wagon. Pictures fell inside the Hall, and the horses pulling the wagon were terrified. The skull was brought inside, and the disturbances stopped. On another occasion, the skull was buried in the garden, and again, Anne vented her fury until her skull was restored to the house - only this time, it was bricked into a wall, so that it could never leave the Hall again.

The ghost of a headless woman has also been seen in Burton Agnes Hall. Anne, perhaps?

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Tombstone, Arizona, bills itself as "The Town too Tough to Die" - and that may well be true. Even the dead in Tombstone do not really die, it seems, since so many of them have been seen well after they left this earthly sphere.

Most people know, or have heard, of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. The Corral still stands, and it contains statues of all the men who participated in it, placed roughly where the real gunfighters stood on that October day in 1881. The Cowboys (a gang, not a group of cowhands) have been seen there, sometimes with guns in hand; cold spots have also been experienced, which may, ironically, be pleasant to some visitors who have braved the Arizona summer heat. One of the men killed that day, Billy Clanton, has been said to rise from his grave in the famous Boot Hill Cemetery and walk back to town.

Virgil Earp, another of the fighters at the O.K. Corral, was shot in the arm after the gunfight, causing a lifelong disability. Some believe that his ghost is the one seen crossing the road near the place where Virgil was ambushed by the unknown assailant who robbed him of the use of one arm.

The Bird Cage Theatre, which has been a museum since 1934, is haunted by many apparitions dressed in 19th-century clothing. A stagehand holding a clipboard walks across the stage; loud laughter and the clinking of glasses are heard.

Buford House was once the residence of George Buford, who lived there with his father in the 19th century. George fell in love with the young woman across the street, who was named Cleopatra but went by the easier name of Petra. When Petra made the mistake of allowing another man to walk her home after going out with George, he was convinced that he had lost her - as indeed he did, because the next time she visited him, he shot her twice, then shot himself. Petra survived, but George died. He still haunts his former home.

Then there is Boot Hill itself. The cemetery is renowned for the fact that most of its inhabitants "died with their boots on" - in other words, they died suddenly, usually in a gunfight or ambush. The men who died during the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral are buried here; so is one Lester Moore, whose grave marker is memorable:

Here lies Lester Moore
Four slugs with a .44
No Les
No More

Several photos purporting to show ghosts have been taken in Boot Hill; odd lights and strange sounds have been experienced.

For a real taste of the Wild West, it would be hard to beat Tombstone - with the added attraction of many famous and infamous ghosts.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Haunted Peruvian premises

Lima is the site of La Casa Matusita, said to be horribly haunted.

Stories about the hauntings vary. One story has it that a man murdered his entire family in that house, before killing himself. Another states that guests at a dinner party were given hallucinogens (in the food? Drinks?) and the party turned into mass slaughter.

The second floor is said to be so badly haunted that to go there is to lose one's mind. Rumor has it that in the 1960s, a TV reporter attempted to disprove the story, entered the second story, and quickly went insane.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Another famous ghost

George Reeves made his most famous film appearance in 1939, when he appeared as Stuart Tarleton in Gone with the Wind. A string of forgettable movies followed, in which Reeves was a supporting player, sometimes uncredited.

Stardom came when Reeves was cast in the title role in the TV show Adventures of Superman. (There is a common misconception that Reeves was the father of the late Christopher Reeve, who played Superman in several movies during the 1970s and 1980s. In truth, the two weren't related in any way.) He took his part so seriously that, aware of his effect on young viewers, he quit smoking and not making public appearances with his girlfriends when children were to be present.

The show ran from 1952 to 1958, and Reeves even made an appearance as Superman on I Love Lucy. The series was canceled in 1959, but was due for a revival for the 1960 - 61 season.

It would never happen. In the early morning of June 16, 1959, George Reeves went to his bedroom, claiming that he was tired. His fiancee, Leonore Lemmon, was in the house, along with a few friends. At around 2 a.m., they heard a gunshot - yet it took them 45 minutes to call the police. Reeves' death is still regarded as suspicious:

- He was shot in the temple, yet there were no powder burns around the wound, which suggested that the gun had been held away from his head.

- He was lying on the bed, but the gun was found between his feet.

- The spent shell from the gun was found under his body.

- His body showed several bruises.

- There were no fingerprints on the gun.

However, all concerned with the case are dead; Leonore died in 1990, and Toni Mannix - his former girlfriend, thought to have been so jealous of Leonore that she hired a gunman to kill Reeves - died in 1983.

Reeves hasn't rested easily. He has been seen in his former bedroom, wearing the Superman costume that made him so famous. He then disappears slowly.

Friday, July 6, 2012

A former inn

The 18th-century Old Post Inn, located in Crawford, Scotland, was once the sixth stop on the stage route between Edinburgh and London (there were forty, in all).

Two of the ghosts haunting the now-abandoned building are those of children, both girls. One was the daughter of the innkeeper, who was accidentally run over by a coach in Watling Street (the main street). When the inn was still in operation, she could be seen on the premises, singing to herself. The other girl was (so the story goes) hanged for stealing bread. She was five years old.

The third single phantom is that of a coachman, believed to have died in 1805. Perhaps the most interesting sighting is that of Roman legionnaires, seen marching down Watling Street. Since the street was lower, in Roman times, than it is now, the specters are seen only from the knees up.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Murderous Ghost

Eastern Kentucky. June, 1938.

Carl Pruitt came home one evening to find his wife in bed, enjoying the company of another man. The other man escaped through a window; Mrs. Pruitt was not so lucky. Carl strangled her with a length of chain, then committed suicide.

Not surprisingly, the Pruitts weren't buried side-by-side. They weren't even buried in the same cemetery. Mrs. Pruitt rested in peace, it seems, but Carl did not. Weeks after his internment, a strange pattern began to appear on his tombstone. The pattern looked like a chain, and as it expanded, it formed a cross. Then, the pattern ceased to grow.

About a month after the cross formed, a boy named James Collins was riding his bike, with some friends, past the cemetery where Carl lay.  Collins threw some rocks at the now-famous tombstone, chipping it in places. As he rode on with his friends, he lost control of his bicycle. The speed increased, and Collins and cycle crashed into a tree. Somehow, the bike chain encircled Collins' neck and strangled him.

Collins' friends told the story of Collins throwing rocks and damaging the tombstone, but examination showed it to be sound - no chips anywhere.

A few weeks after Collins died, his grieving mother paid a visit to Pruitt's tombstone and destroyed it with a small ax. The following day, when hanging the family laundry, she slipped - and the clothesline, which was a chain, caught her around the neck. Despite her efforts to free herself, she strangled slowly.

It is said that after Mrs. Collins' death, the tombstone reappeared, unmarred.

Evidently, while the news of these mysterious deaths had spread, it was insufficient to prevent others from attempting to damage Carl Pruitt's cursed tombstone. After the second tragic death in the Collins family, a local farmer drove his horse-drawn wagon past the cemetery, with three family members. The farmer, claiming that he didn't fear ghosts, pulled a revolver and shot the tombstone several times. The horses bolted. The rest of the farmer's family jumped from the wagon and landed safely, while the farmer attempted to control the horses. As the wagon came to a bend in the road, the farmer was thrown from his seat - and caught his neck on a chain in the traces. He was slightly more fortunate than the other victims; rather than strangling, his neck broke.

The Pruitt tombstone showed no signs of damage, of course.

The police were now called in to investigate (but what could they have done about the events?). One of the officers laughed at the local superstitions as the two of them searched the area, photographing the tombstone. Finally, they left the cemetery and drove away - and then officer who had laughed took a look in the rearview mirror and saw a light coming from the cemetery, in the area where Pruitt's tombstone was located. This officer happened to be driving, and he noticed that the light was coming closer all the time. He increased his speed - and the car ran off the road, rolling many times.

The other officer was injured, but not seriously, and he checked on his partner, to find him dead. When the car went off the road, it roared between two posts, which had a chain hanging between them. The chain had, of course, attached itself to the officer's neck, so that he was almost decapitated.

This latest tragedy was more than enough for most of the inhabitants of the area to stay well away from the cemetery. Unfortunately, one resident, Arthur Lewis, decided to prove that the rumors were just that - rumors. He didn't believe that the tombstone was unlucky in any way, so he decided to destroy it.

Lewis did have the good sense to tell his wife what he planned to do. He set out one night, hammer and chisel at the ready, and made considerable noise breaking the tombstone. However, even more noise was heard when he began to scream hysterically. Quite a few men living near the cemetery checked for the source of the noise, and found Lewis dead.

With the chain from the cemetery gate around his neck.

And Pruitt's tombstone was in pristine condition.

Pruitt soon had the whole place to himself. All the other bodies were reburied elsewhere, and Carl's grave became completely overgrown. Finally, strip mining obliterated the grave in 1958.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Late Confession

In the year 1764, the chaplain of Northampton Jail wrote of a very strange event that happened to him following the executions of four local men who had been convicted of murder in Guilsborough, England.

The four men were John Croxford, Richard Butlin, Benjamin Deacon, and Thomas Seamark. They had decided to rob a peddler - but the man (known as "Scottie") fought back, whereupon he was brutally murdered. His body was cut to pieces and, over the course of three days, burned in an oven. The bones, of course, would not burn, and were buried.

Unfortunately for the men, Mrs. Seamark and her ten-year-old son both witnessed the murder. Some time later, the local schoolmaster heard the boy threaten a schoolmate to "serve you as my daddy served Scottie." The truth came out; the woman and her son both testified in court (Mrs. Seamark relating that the murderers had threatened to kill her if she breathed a word of what she knew).

On August 4, 1764, the four men were hanged, all the while stating that they knew nothing of the murder, and were entirely innocent. After the executions, the chaplain issued a pamphlet; the following text is excerpted from the pamphlet.

“I shall now proceed without further let or impediment to a plain and conscientious account of the ghost or apparition which was the occasion of my troubling the world with this narrative; unless I first observe that the behaviour of the prisoners, one of whom is the subject of these pages, lately tried, condemned and executed at Northampton, for the murder of a person unknown, upon the evidence of Ann Seamark and her son, about nine or ten years old, was such as astonished every beholder....

"Clear and conclusive as the evidence was against them, no arguments ... were able to reach their hardened hearts and prevail for an open and unreserved confession of their guilt. Even at the gallows, in their last addresses to the people, they insisted on their innocence in the strongest terms imaginable; wishing the heaviest penalties an offended God could inflict might be their portion in the next world, if they were guilty of the murder that was laid to their charge and for which they were about to suffer.

“Thus did they divide the sentiments of the crowd that many were brought over to a full persuasion of their innocence, while others were left halting between two opinions and severely agitated with conflicting doubts.

"... on August 12, 1764, being the Sabbath, I returned as usual into my study, the door of which is secured by a lock with a spring-bolt, and sat down to my accustomed evening devotion ... I was on a sudden surprised with the perfect form and appearance of a man, who stood erect at a small distance from my right side.

"Conscious that the door was locked and that there was no other means by which my visitor could have entered, I was considerably surprised — surprise turning into abject terror — when, glancing with irresistible fascination at the man, I perceived in him something indefinably but most unmistakably Unnatural.

“Feeling sure that I was in the actual presence of an apparition, I contrived, by an almost super-human effort, I admit, to sum up sufficient courage to speak — my voice seeming dry and unrecognisable.

“I addressed it in the power and spirit of the Gospel; inquiring on what errand it was sent; what was intended by such an application, and what services could be expected from a person of so little note and mean abilities as myself.

“I must here state that although the spectre had inspired me with so much awe, I did not associate it with anything evil.

"Every second tended to strengthen my composure, and when it spoke in a voice rather more hollow and intense, perhaps, than that of a human being, my fears were instantly dissipated. I was now able to take a close stock of it, and observed that in features, general appearance, and clothes it closely resembled any ordinary labouring man; it was in expression and colouring, only it differed — its eyes were lurid, its cheeks livid.

“Raising one extremely white and emaciated hand, it desired me to compose myself, saying that as it was now strictly limited by a Superior Power, and could do no one act but by the permission of God, I had no reason to be afraid, abrupt as was its appearance, and that if I would endeavour to overcome the visible perturbation I was in, it would proceed in the business of its errand.

“At this announcement my heart fluttered with an excitement I found difficult to control.  ... Eagerly promising to compose myself, and lost to all else save the fascinating presence of my guest, I settled down to listen to anything the phantasm might have to say.

"The room, I must here state, was lighted by a single, though rather powerful, double-wick oil lamp, which I had always deemed sufficient to illuminate the whole apartment, but which now — and I could not help noticing the phenomenon — did not extend its rays beyond the cadaverous face of my intruder, upon which the full force of its light seemed concentrated.

“Commencing in clear and solemn tones, the phantasm stated that it was one of the unhappy prisoners executed at Northampton on the 4th of August, 1764.

“A cold chill ran down my back at this announcement, which was intensified when I recognised for the first time that the figure confronting me bore a startling likeness to one of the prisoners it had been my unhappy lot to address prior to his execution ... it was indeed the ghost of one of those diabolical miscreants that stood before me, and, despite the fact that I was brought up in the strict Protestant faith, I inadvertently crossed myself.

"’It had been,' so it proclaimed, 'the principal and ringleader of the gang, most of whom it had corrupted, debauched and seduced to that deplorable method of life, and it was particularly appointed by Providence to undeceive the world and remove those doubts which the solemn protestations of their innocence to the very hour of death had raised in the minds of all who heard them.'

"At this juncture, excitement overcoming fear and aversion, I hazarded to inquire of the phantasm its name.”

“Its reply, delivered in the same slow, measured, almost mechanical tones (as if it were only the mouth-organ of some other and unseen agency) was to the effect that its name was John Croxford; that it had express directions to come to me — directions it could not disobey; it furthermore explained the reason the murderers had so persistently insisted on their innocence, lay in the fact, that, while the blood of their victim was still warm, they entered into a sacramental obligation, which they sealed by dipping their fingers in the blood of the deceased and licking the same, by which they bound themselves under the penalty of eternal damnation never to betray the fact themselves nor to confess, if condemned to die for it on the evidence of others, and that they were further encouraged to such measures, since, as Seamark himself was a confederate in the murder, they concluded the evidence of his wife would not be admitted; that as the child was so young, they presumed no judge or jury would pay the least regard to his depositions; that as Butlin had but lately entered into a confederacy with them, and no robberies could be readily proved against him, they thought it would appear impossible for one of his age to begin a career of wickedness with murder (it being observed in a proverb that no man is abandoned all at once); that if they could invalidate the evidence on behalf of Butlin it must be of equal advantage to them all; that though disappointed of this view in court and condemned to die upon the above evidence, they were still infatuated with the same notion even at the gallows, and expected a reprieve for Butlin when the halter was about his neck, and consequently, if such a reprieve had been granted, as the evidence was as full and decisive against Butlin as against them, the sentence for the murder must have been withdrawn from all, their execution deferred, and perhaps transportation only their final punishment,”

"In the pause that followed its last speech, more to hear myself speak than anything else (I could not endure the silence of this thing), I asked if the evidence of the woman and child was clear, punctual and particular; to which it replied, 'It was as circumstantial, distinct and methodical as possible; varying not in the least from truth in any one particular of consequence, unless in the omission of their horrid sacrament which she might possibly neither observe nor know.”'

I then asked why they had behaved with such impropriety, impudence and clamour upon their trial; to which it replied, ”that they had been somewhat elevated with liquor, privately conveyed to them, and that by effrontery and a seemingly undaunted behaviour they hoped to intimidate the WOMAN, throw her into confusion, perplex her depositions, thereby rendering the evidence precarious and inconclusive, or at least give the court some favourable presumptions of their innocence.

I next inquired whether they knew the name of the person murdered, whence he came, and what reasons they had for committing so horrid a barbarity.

To which the phantasm answered, ”that the man was a perfect stranger to them all, that the murder was committed more out of wantonness and the force of long-contracted habits of wickedness than necessity, as they were at that time in no want of money; that they first found occasion to quarrel with the pedlar ... that the man, being stout and undaunted, resented their ill-usage, and in his own defence proceeded to blows; that two only — Deacon and Croxford — were at first concerned, but finding him resolute, they had called up Seamark and Butlin ... that they then all seized the pedlar, notwithstanding which he struggled with great violence to the very last against their united efforts; nor did they think it safe to trifle any longer with a man who gave such proofs of uncommon strength; that with much difficulty they dragged him down to Seamark's yard and there committed the murder as represented in court.”

"I next asked if there was any licence in his bags or pockets, that they might discover his name or place of abode.

"It replied, 'No! that the paper left behind in its (Croxford's) writing was of a piece with the rest of their conduct in this affair, a hardened untruth, abounding with reflections as false, as scandalous and wicked, suggested by the Father of Lies, who had gradually brought them from one step of iniquity to another, beginning first in the violation of morality, to the place of purgatory in which they now were,'

"It further declared (a statement that interested me greatly), 'That though their bodies were unaffected with pain, their souls were in darkness, under all the dreadful apprehensions of remaining there for eternity, far beyond what the liveliest imagination while influenced by the weight and grossness of matter, can conceive; that their doom had been not a little aggravated by their final impenitence, impiety and profaneness in adjuring God by the most horrid imprecations to attest the truth of a palpable and notorious falsehood, and by wishing that their own portion in Eternity might be determined in consequence thereof. Language,' the apparition said, was too weak to describe and mortality incapable of conceiving a ten-thousandth part of their anguish and despair even at present, and happy would it be for succeeding ages if Posterity could be induced to profit by their misfortunes and be influenced by this account to avoid the punishment of the Earth-bound.'

"All this the phantasm delivered with such increased distinction and perspicuity, with such an emphasis and tone of voice, as plainly evinced the truth of what it spoke and claimed my closest attention and regard; and as it seemed to hint that I was singled out to acquaint the world with these particulars I told it that the present age was one of incredulity and agnosticism, that few gave credit to fables of this kind, that the world would conclude me either a madman or impostor or brand me with the odious imputations of superstition and enthusiasm, that, therefore, true credentials would be necessary, not only to preserve my own character, but also to procure respect and credit to my relations.

"To this the phantasm instantly responded that what I observed was perfectly right and requisite to authenticate the truth of this affair ... therefore, in order to encourage my perseverance in supporting the truth of this appearance and embolden me to publish a minute detail of it, it would direct me to such a criterion as would put the reality of it beyond all dispute; and it accordingly told me that in such a spot, describing it as minutely as possible, in the parish of Guilsborough, was deposited a gold ring which belonged to the pedlar whom they murdered, and moreover in the inside was engraved this singular motto:


"'That on perusing it,' the apparition continued, 'it (Croxford) had been smitten with grave apprehensions, and, thinking the words ominous, had buried the ring, hoping thus to elude the sentence denounced at random against the unlawful possessor of it ... that if I found not every particular in regard to this ring exactly as it related it to me, then I might conclude there was not a single syllable of truth in the whole, and consequently no obligation lay upon me to take any further concerns in the affair.'

"Engaged in this interesting and all-absorbing conversation, I suddenly became aware it was very late — the silence throughout the house for the first time appalled me, and I was about to make a movement towards the door to make sure all was safe without, when the light from the lamp once again became normal. With a startled glance I looked for the phantasm — it was gone; nor was there any other means by which it could have taken its departure save by dematerialisation.

"Bitterly disappointed, my fears being now entirely removed, at so abrupt a disappearance, I sat down very calmly ... and was induced to conclude from the coherence and punctuality of the account that it was impossible it should be fiction or imposture. I laid particular stress upon the circumstance of the ring, the singularity of its motto, and the minute description of the spot where it was deposited.

"I considered, moreover, from the tests I had made by shutting my eyes and pressing the balls with my forefinger, that I had been perfectly awake, had had the full use both of my senses and reason, and was as capable of knowing the figure and voice of a man as the size and print of the book I was reading at the time the ghost made its appearance.

"In short, firmly persuaded of the truth of what I had heard and seen, I resolved on the morrow to search for the ring, and thereby clear it up beyond all possibility of doubt.

"Accordingly on Monday morning early, between four and five o'clock, I set out alone, making directly to the spot the phantasm had described; found the ring without the least difficulty or delay; examined the motto and date of it, which corresponded exactly with his account of it, and fully convinced me of my obligation to communicate to the world the particulars of the whole.

"With this resolution, immediately on my return I sat down and drew up the whole conversation as near as I could recollect, neither omitting nor adding any circumstance of consequence in the manner you now see it, and trusting it will prove of use to the public for whose benefit it seems intended.”

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury is known widely as a sci-fi writer, a label he rejected. I think of him as a writer of wonder. He never lost that childhood innocence that stands in awe of all around it.  His books are filled with color and light and movement and, above all, magic. Reading most of his work means traveling into your own childhood, as if you had grown up in the idyllically-painted Bradbury town. It's an experience of almost total immersion.

Ray Bradbury was also one of the finest horror writers of the twentieth century, and that's one reason why I'm writing about him here. His short stories "The Emissary", "The October Game", and "Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed" cannot be forgotten, even if we wanted to forget. We don't want to forget, though; we want to read more and more of his extraordinary works.

I, for one, am glad that Ray Bradbury lived such a long and fruitful life, and that he belied the idea that artists "have" to suffer to create. He stated that he had never worked a day in his life, and he truly loved what he did.

So do I.

Rest in electric peace, Mr. Bradbury.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

This blog's stars

After reading the statistics, I've discovered that the following two stories are read the most widely:

Anne Naylor
William Terriss

Both ghosts of London, both victims of murder (though Anne had it far worse). Maybe you can tell me - what is the fascination with these two spirits?

Sorry I haven't been blogging much; I plan to rectify that situation as soon as I can.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Another urban legend

Okay, here's a good one. It deals with college - leaving the home you've known all your life, living in a dorm, meeting new people, new classes, new environment, all that sort of thing.

In this little tale, a female college student lives in a dorm, shared with another female college student. One night, our heroine is downstairs studying when she realizes she's forgotten something. She returns to her dorm room and opens the door to a pitch-black room. She's not surprised, because her roommate had mentioned going to bed early.

She doesn't want to disturb her roommate, so she uses the light from the hall to find the item (which was near the door anyway). She then returns to the study room, falling asleep on the couch some time later.

In the morning, she wakes up and collects her things. When she enters the room this time, though, the scene is ghastly. Her roommate has been butchered, blood spattered everywhere.

Written on the wall, in blood, are the words: Aren't you glad you didn't turn on the light?

Saturday, February 25, 2012


I wrote a post recently on ghosts of the White House. I didn't think to check past posts; as a result, I have written two posts on the same topic. My apologies.

Friday, February 24, 2012

A Touch of Fiction

For those fond of fictional ghost stories, I have the following recommendations:

1. M.R. James.

2. E.F. Benson.

James was a linguist and archaeologist, among other things. He was a brilliant scholar and historian. He also loved ghost stories, and they were the only fiction he ever wrote.

Am I glad he did!

His interests in history, archaeology, and languages are shown in the stories, many of which deal with a hapless protagonist entrapped by some sort of diabolical being from ages past. They're all written so politely, but the effect! You don't want to turn out the lights after reading his works. They're available on Project Gutenberg; enjoy!

As for Benson, he was among those present when James read his first ghost story at a Christmas Eve celebration in the late 19th century. He wrote many more ghost stories than James, but they aren't (to my mind, at least) as scary, though always keeping the attention. Usually, the protagonist in Benson's stories finds something ghastly when renting an isolated cottage for the holidays, or just visiting a new location. Women tend to be on the side of evil in his stories (especially "Mrs. Amworth" and "The Room in the Tower").

Speaking of the latter story, not only is it one of Benson's best, it's one of the best ghost stories ever written. The main character, in his twenties, has had a recurring dream since childhood, one that always terrifies him. It all relates to the titular room. To find out what happens, you'll have to read it yourself.

Some of Benson's works are available on Project Gutenberg, but since he wrote several novels in addition to his ghost stories, I'm not sure (not having checked) if they're all novels, or if some of his story collections are also in there. At any rate, his works are in the public domain, so they should be easy to find.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ghosts of the White House

One of the most recognizable buildings in the world, the White House is also one of the most haunted.

An Unknown Soldier

This figure is thought to be one of the British soldiers who set the building ablaze in 1814. It walks the grounds at night, carrying a flaming torch. Another torch-bearing ghost (possibly the same one) has been seen in one of the second-floor bedrooms.

Dolley Madison

Madison planted the Rose Garden on the grounds, and would not allow it to be changed. During the Wilson administration, the First Lady ordered the garden destroyed, but Dolley appeared to the workmen and soon changed their minds. The garden remains.

Abigail Adams

This First Lady used to dry the family laundry in the East Room. She can still be seen hurrying in the direction of the room, arms out as if holding a pile of wet clothing.

Andrew Jackson

Jackson is thought to haunt the Rose Room, laughing from an apparently empty bed. Mary Todd Lincoln claimed to have heard Jackson's swearing ghost in 1865, and one of Lyndon B. Johnson's aides heard the same thing in 1964.

Anne Surratt

In 1865, Anne's mother, Mary Surratt, was tried, found guilty, and executed for conspiring to kill Abraham Lincoln. Anne pleaded to have her mother's life spared, pounding the doors of the White House in a vain attempt to change the decision. Her ghost is seen performing the same action on July 7, the anniversary of Mary Surratt's hanging.

Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln's ghost has been the most active of all the otherworldly denizens of the White House. Lincoln was the first president to be assassinated, and just a few days before he was shot, he claimed to have foreseen his own death in a dream.

Calvin Coolidge's wife, Grace, saw Lincoln standing at the window of the Oval Office, staring over the Potomac. This was the first sighting of his ghost, and she saw him many times afterward. Lincoln biographer Carl Sandburg felt the presence of the late president at the window of this same office.

One of Franklin Roosevelt's aides ran screaming from the White House upon sighting Lincoln's ghost; Eleanor Roosevelt's aide rushed in on her one day, saying breathlessly, "He's sitting on the bed upstairs, putting on his boots!"

"Who is?" Mrs. Roosevelt asked.

"Mr. Lincoln!" was the startling reply.

Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands was a guest at the White House. Late one night, she heard a knock at the door. When she answered it, the ghost of Lincoln stood in the hall, staring at her. The Queen promptly fainted; when she awoke, the ghost was gone.

Winston Churchill's encounter with the spirit is probably the most memorable. Churchill had just taken a bath and, naked except for his trademark cigar, walked into his bedroom, which had been Lincoln's. The ghost of Lincoln stood in the room, leaning on the mantle. As the two stared at each other, Lincoln slowly disappeared. Churchill refused to sleep in the room after that experience.

During the Truman presidency, knocks were heard often, in various parts of the White House. In exasperation, Truman ordered a thorough examination to be made of the building, to learn if there was an earthly explanation for the sounds.

It was well that he did; the study discovered that the building was in danger of collapse. Was this, then, the reason for the knocks? 

Friday, February 17, 2012

A haunted tour

Ghostly Prague is a ghost-tour company operating in Prague, Czech Republic. The tours are conducted in English, with the meeting point being the famous Astronomical Clock in the Old Town Square (very easy to find, even for those who have never visited Prague.

Prague is a city of the strange and unusual. Magic and alchemy were the rule of the day during the reign of Emperor Rudolph II; Kafka was born there; the winding alleys and cobbled streets are much the same as they were when the mystical Rabbi Low was an inhabitant of the Jewish Quarter.

The ghost tours hearken back to a time when the streets weren't as safe - or lit as brightly.

For more information, click the link above, or email

Have a haunted good time!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Gone too soon

This chilling story comes from an 1827 pamphlet.

A Mrs. Blunden, of Basingstoke, was found lifeless by her maid, Anne, one morning. Mrs. Blunden suffered from depression, and was in the habit of taking cordials. Anne went for the housekeeper and a family friend in the house; Mrs. Blunden was motionless and, apparently, not breathing.

The family doctor was then called. He held a mirror in front of her mouth to check her breathing, and the mirror didn't fog. Even he was baffled, so he recommended waiting forty hours before taking any further measures. Six days later, with her husband having returned from business, preparations were made for her funeral.

The night before the funeral, two of the female servants kept watch over the body. Suddenly, one of them saw Mrs. Blunden's left hand move. The other servant noticed the lady's head and eyelids moving, which was enough for them; they ran for the servants' quarters. The male staff members escorted them back to Mrs. Blunden's room, but no further movement was seen.

The following night, Mrs. Blunden was placed in a vault of the local chapel.

A few days later, some local boys were playing near the vault when they heard a strange noise that seemed to come from inside it. They ran for their schoolmaster, who accompanied them to the vault and heard the noises too.  The schoolmaster notified Mr. Blunden immediately.

The vault and the coffin were opened, showing that Mrs. Blunden had undoubtedly been buried alive. Blood was spattered all over the inside of the coffin, and her forehead and knuckles, which she had used to beat against the lid, were horribly battered. By now, the poor lady really was dead, of suffocation and blood loss.

Not long after this discovery was made, Mr. Blunden's housekeeper was doing some sewing when she glanced up to see Mrs. Blunden's ghost sitting in a chair, facing her. The ghost pointed to its forehead, showing the wounds it had sustained, while the eyes stared blankly. The housekeeper, terrified, closed her eyes and kept them shut for some time. When she dared to open them, the ghost was gone.

Not long after this incident, a carpenter in the area was returning home one evening when he saw a white-clad woman approaching him. He touched his hat when he recognized her as Mrs. Blunden; she passed him without making a sound.

When the carpenter came home, he told his wife what had happened. His wife turned white and blurted out: "You could not have seen Mrs. Blunden because she was buried two weeks ago."

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A question for my faithful readers

If I collect these stories (and more) into a book, would you buy it?

Marilyn Monroe, still haunted and haunting

Marilyn Monroe (born Norma Jean Baker) is one of those favorite Hollywood memories, like James Dean. Undoubtedly talented, she also suffered from massive insecurities, neediness, and the overwhelming ambition to be a star - and she was, but it did no good. She died peacefully, slipping into a coma after taking an overdose, but her spirit, it seems, is just as restless as the woman was during her lifetime.

Monroe was buried in Westwood Memorial Cemetery, where many people claim to have seen her ghost. Others have spotted her at her last home, in Brentwood.

Another place to look for her is the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. It seems that her spirit has been seen in a mirror (on the lower floor, near the elevator). Monroe lived in the hotel at one time, in Suite 1200; the famous mirror was part of the furnishings in her suite at the time.

An eerie note: Montgomery Clift, Monroe's co-star in The Misfits, also haunts the Hollywood Roosevelt.