An Impossible Visitor

Creepy History 40.  It’s October, and that means Creepy History month on Windows into History again! The following quote is taken from News from the Invisible World, a collection of anecdotes published in 1840.

Being informed that you are writing about spectres and apparitions, I take thee freedom, though a stranger, to send you this following relation.

Mary, the wife of John Goffe, of Rochester, being afflicted with a long illness, removed to her father’s house, at West Mulling, which is about nine miles distant from her own: there she died, June the 4th, 1601.

The day before her departure, she grew impatiently desirous to see her two children, whom she had left at home, to the care of a nurse. She prayed her husband to hire a horse, for she must go home, and die with her children. When they persuaded her to the contrary, telling her she was not fit to be taken out of her bed, nor able to sit on horseback, she entreated them however to try…

A minister who lives in the town, was with her at ten o’clock that night, to whom she expressed good hopes in the mercies of God, and a willingness to die; but, said she, it is my misery that I cannot see my children.

Between one and two o’clock in the morning she fell into a trance. One widow Turner, who watched with her that night, says that her eyes were open, and fixed, and her jaw fallen: she put her hand upon her mouth and nostrils, but could perceive no breath; she thought her to be in a fit, and doubted whether she were alive or dead.

The next day, this dying woman told her mother, that she had been at home with her children, “That is impossible”, said the mother, “for you have been here in bed all the while”. “Yes,” replied the other, “but I was with them last night, when I was asleep.”

The nurse at Colchester, Widow Alexander, by name, affirms and says, she will take her oath of it before a magistrate, and receive the sacrament upon it, that a little before two o’clock that morning, she saw the likeness of the said Mary Goffe come out of the next chamber, (where the elder child lay in a bed by itself, the door being left open,) and stood by her bed-side for about a quarter of an hour; the younger child was there lying by her; her eyes moved and her mouth went, but she said nothing. The nurse moreover says, that she was perfectly awake; it was then day light, being one of the longest days in the year. She sat up in her bed, and looked steadfastly upon the apparition; at that time she beard the bridge clock strike two, and awhile after said, “In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, what art thou?” Thereupon the appearance removed, and went away; she slipped on her clothes and followed, but what became of it she cannot tell…


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The Ghostly Twin

ghostshipCreepy History 39.  It’s October, and that means Creepy History month on Windows into History again! The following quote is taken from News from the Invisible World, a collection of anecdotes published in 1840.

The party in London of whom we relate, lived there with a merchant; and as he drove a considerable trade beyond sea, he established a factory, or as the language of trade calls it, a house, at a certain port in the English colonies in America, and sent over servants or apprentices thither, as is usual for merchants to do.

One of his said apprentices being fitted out, and ready to embark, his cargo being actually on board the ship, and the ship fallen down to Gravesend, his master was getting his letters and invoices and other dispatches, ready for him, he being to go down the river the same evening.

The hurry of dispatching him prevented his master from taking him up to dinner with him at the usual hour, and told him he must be content to stay in the counting-house till he came to relieve him.

Accordingly, dinner being over, he goes down to send him up to dinner. And when he came to the counting-house door, there sat his man with the book-keeper also, writing as he left them.

It happened just that moment, some occasion extra-ordinary obliged him to step back again, and go up stairs to the dining room, from whence he came; and intending not to stay, he did not speak to the young man, but left him in the counting-house, and went immediately up stairs.

It was not possible that he, or any one else except such as could walk invisibly, could go by, or pass him unseen: good manners would have hindered the young man from thrusting by his master upon the stairs, if he had been going up; but he is positive he did not, and could not pass without being seen.

But when he came to the top of the stairs, there sat the young man at dinner with the other servants; the room they dined in being a little parlour, which opened just against the stairs, so that he saw him all the way of the upper part of the stair case, and could not be deceived.

The master did not speak to him, which he was very sorry for afterwards; but the surprise made him pass by the room, and go into the dining room, which was to the right hand of it; but he sent one immediately to look, and he was there really at dinner; so that what he (the master) saw below in the counting-house, must be the apparition, as it certainly was.


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Together at the End

booksCreepy History 38.  It’s October, and that means Creepy History month on Windows into History again! The following quote is taken from News from the Invisible World, a collection of anecdotes published in 1840.

A FEW years ago a gentleman of character and serious carriage, and his wife, who lived near St. James’, and had lived for many years together in great harmony and love, and who were never so happy as in each others company, both at home and abroad: always walking arm in arm whenever they went out anywhere, and seemed as one soul and one body, they were so closely united in love to each other: but as the most near and dearest friends must part in this world, when God calls us hence, so it happened the gentleman was taken sick and died; which so affected his dear-left companion, that she sickened also, and kept her bed, and had a servant, or some other always to attend her.

In about ten days after her husband’s death, as she was sitting upright in bed, a friend and near relation was then sitting by her; she looked steadfastly towards the foot of the bed, and said, with a cheerful voice “My dear I will be with you in two hours.” The gentlewoman, her friend, that was with her (and who firmly attested the same as most true.) said to her, “Child, whom did you speak to?” (for she saw nobody) she answered, “It is my husband, who came to call me hence, and I am going to him;” which surprised her friends very much, who thinking she was a little light headed, called in somebody else, to whom she spoke very cheerfully and told the same story; but before the two hours were expired, she went to her dear companion to be happy together for ever; to the great surprise of all present.


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Investigating a Haunting (4)

houseCreepy History 37. For the last few days we have been looking at quotes from A True Ghost Story, by Hazel Lewis Scaife, published in 1895, in which the author relates her experiences investigating a “haunted house” in Georgia, USA.  We have seen how she experienced strange occurrences in the vicinity of the house and also in the house itself.  Even camping near the house things did not seem quite right:

As I lay in camp, restless and tired, I turned my eyes and looked down the river. I saw a star nearly over the “Haunted House.”

An idea occurred to me and I woke everybody up by exclaiming, “Look at that star, or whatever it is; isn’t it moving?” All eyes were turned and half the party were positive that the star was slowly moving around in a small circle over the “Haunted House.” Some of the men claimed that the phenomenon was caused by looking at the star through the trees when the wind was blowing. This idea was exploded, when some one claimed that it was a cloud drifting over it; but this was impossible for we could see no cloud.” Strange, strange, strange,” thought I, for the star was really not moving at all, and then I fell asleep.

Ultimately though Scaife had to put this kind of thing down to little more than the mind playing tricks on her, because her investigations concluded with the discovery of a hoaxer:

I visited the “Haunted House” with the determination of satisfying myself that the “ghost” was of flesh and blood or that the noises had some accountable origin.

As a result I found that this ghost story, like most others, has a real, living man at the bottom of it. The whole affair from beginning to end was a miserable fraud. The old man, who accompanied the party, and had written so much for the papers, concerning the “Haunted House,” was ring-leader of the “ghosts.”

I have a written statement signed by him, under oath, that there was no fraud attached to the stories which he has written, but when he was exposed, he made a confession which was doubtless more truthful.


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Investigating a Haunting (3)

houseCreepy History 36. In yesterday’s Creepy history article we looked at a quote from A True Ghost Story, by Hazel Lewis Scaife, published in 1895, in which the author relates her experiences investigating a “haunted house” in Georgia, USA. Unfortunately it all turned out to be a hoax in the end, but the author’s route to that discovery was an interesting one, and there is no doubt the house had the sort of appearance to inspire ghostly rumours. In the last quote we looked at strange goings on in the vacinity of the house, so let’s take a look at what happened at the house itself:

All was still; not even a breath of air was stirring ; only the river as it slipped through the shoals could be heard. The moon had gone and the stars vanished one by one in the fog, as it rose from the river. We waited for fifteen minutes without speaking above a whisper.

Rap! rap!! rap!!! sounded within the house, and something like a stone rolled across the up-stairs piazza and dropped with a thud to the ground. I looked for it the next morning, but could find nothing which would have rolled across the piazza and made the noise.

Immediately after the rapping, a low mournful sound, like that of a spinning-wheel or the wind blowing in a chimney corner, rose slowly three times in three different positions of the house, and then died away in the opposite gable from the one in which it was first heard. It is said that Mr. Budd, who died in the house, made the same sound when he breathed his last.

All became still again, deathly still! We waited a long time but could hear nothing. Then we moved up closer to the house and after a while sat down on the piazza. The doors of the house were open and I sat in the darkness with my back to the hall stairway gazing towards the graveyard on the hill, where it said one can hear earth dropping on a coffin at midnight.

Bang! bang!! bang!!! Something coming down three steps of the stairway brought me to my feet. I whirled around and leveled my gun to fire. Some one near me cried, “Don’t shoot.” I did not know where to shoot, for I could see nothing. For fifteen minutes we heard nothing more.

We will finish the story tomorrow with a final couple of quotes from A True Ghost Story in the next “Creepy History”.


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Investigating a Haunting (2)

houseCreepy History 35. In yesterday’s Creepy history article we looked at a quote from A True Ghost Story, by Hazel Lewis Scaife, published in 1895, in which the author relates her experiences investigating a “haunted house” in Georgia, USA. Unfortunately it all turned out to be a hoax in the end, but the author’s route to that discovery was an interesting one, and there is no doubt the house had the sort of appearance to inspire ghostly rumours. The last quote detailed the author’s determination to disprove the haunting and gave a description of what she found when she arrived at the house. Close to the house, the author and her group found some cabin and was told by a local that the strange goings-on had even spread outside the house:

We followed the road, passed the “Haunted House,” and walked down the row of deserted cabins until we stood by an old store. We waited here for spiritual manifestations to begin in the “Big House On The Hill.” While we were waiting, I was told how the clerk, who slept in the store by which we were standing, had been forced to give up his position, and how impossible it was to find another who would take his place. At night, as soon as he extinguished his light, he could hear some one knocking at the door, but when he would look, he could find no one, and hear nothing.

One night the moon was shining, while he and a friend were sitting upon the counter talking. Three loud knocks were heard at the door, and both men ran out to look. Nobody could possibly have knocked and gotten away. There was a cellar under the store; it was well searched, but no one could be found. This was repeated several times.

The next night, while the clerk was asleep, he was awakened by a plank falling from the ceiling; then something jumped on his bed, with a thud. The man became so frightened that he covered up his head, and as soon as morning came, he left the place. The store has never been occupied since.

Another house was pointed out to me just below the store. All its windows were open, and each seemed to pour out darkness into the already dark night. I was told by the old gentleman, the leader of our little expedition, how a fishing party, which was camping near it, had heard noises like chains being dragged around inside the house. He continued : “Each man ran to see what it was, and finding the door locked, we tore off planks and went inside.” I was conducted and showed where the planks on the side of the house were actually gone. The old man took an oath that, as he was a gentleman, this story was true, for he was there himself, I asked him if it could not have been rats?

“No, sir, look at the stars through the roof; there was not a thing in the house!” was his reply.

We turned to go back to the “Big House,” where even the worst of all is said to have occurred. As we faced about, the line of cabins in the darkness appeared like huge phantoms couched and ready to spring upon the unwary creature, who might dare to come there alone. In their windows the mind’s eye could see any spectre imaginable, standing there in the darkness, in bold relief.

We will continue the story on Monday with another quote from A True Ghost Story in the next “Creepy History”, when the author experiences some strange goings-on at the house herself.


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Investigating a Haunting (1)

houseCreepy History 34. It’s October, and that means Creepy History month on Windows into History again! The following quote is taken from A True Ghost Story, by Hazel Lewis Scaife, published in 1895, in which the author relates her experiences investigating a “haunted house” in Georgia, USA.  It all turned out to be a hoax in the end, but the author’s route to that discovery was an interesting one, and there is no doubt the house had the sort of appearance to inspire ghostly rumours.

A relative of mine, a merchant of Elberton, when at my home on a visit last summer, told me of his own experience at this “Haunted House.” He claimed to have heard the noises himself, and insisted that he was unable to offer any explanation of them.

Recently I had occasion to visit the town of Elberton, and while there I determined to investigate the “Haunted House” and attempt to assign natural causes to the phenomena…

A party of twenty men, including myself, started early one morning for the “Haunted House,” where we intended to camp and fish for several days…

Through briar patches, cane-brakes and wooded land, we made, and sometimes beat our way. After a rough ramble for about one mile, we came to an old neglected road, running directly south, and which lay at the western foot of a hill. This hill or mountain is covered with heavy forests, and from its summit it takes a gradual slope towards the south until it reaches the river. A quarter of a mile down this deserted lane, and we came to the gate of a dilapidated paling fence, eight feet high, which climbed over the hill-side to our left, until it was lost to sight in the under-growth. Peeping through the fence and taking an enfilading glance to the left, we saw the “Haunted House” over which the hill cast its gloomy shadow. The fence enclosed this house, about twenty-five empty cabins, and the ruins of an old factory. The fence formed half of an ellipse, with the river for its major axis.

The rusty hinges of the old gate shrieked as we entered the mysterious valley which scarcely echoes but to the voices of nature.

The reader will remember that we entered the gate in the northwest corner of the fence. Here we found a path leading to the front of the house, which sits at the extreme northern end of the minor axis of the ellipse already referred to. Follow the path and climb the hill near the fence until you find yourself on the same level as the up-stairs front door of the house, which faces towards the summit of the hill. Parallel with the front of the building, and against it, a rock terrace cut in the side of the hill extends to the right and to the left. On the right of the house two large wine cellars have their opening in this wall. Walk to the corner of the house, look over the terrace, and you see fifteen feet below you the level upon which the house is built and you also see what was once a flower yard. Weeds have crept in and grown up, and a huge neglected rose bush clings to the rock terrace over which you stand. Behind you the hill rises to a goodly height.

The house was open and we entered the front door; we searched all its secret recesses, but could find nothing by which the noises I had heard of could be accounted for. We passed through the house down the stairway and out on the ground below. So far we still had not seen or heard anything to impress us with the thought that the house was haunted, except a dismal loneliness which seemed to hover over the place, a fit abode for an unhappy spirit! The only relic which we found in the empty rooms that suggested better days was an old iron safe with its door flung open.

We will continue the story with another quote from A True Ghost Story in the next “Creepy History”, tomorrow on Windows into History, when the author hears about strange experiences occurring even some distance from the house.


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