"...we should pass over all biographies of 'the good and the great,' while we search carefully the slight records of wretches who died in prison, in Bedlam, or upon the gallows."
~Edgar Allan Poe

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

Every now and then, I come across an old newspaper story that is impossible to characterize as anything other than "Really Freaking Weird." This item from the "Chicago Tribune" (January 2, 1888) is one of them.
Nebraska Letter to "Kansas City Journal": William S. Aimison, a farm-hand working for  a man by the name of Bills, about fourteen miles west of this city, was in the city Friday, and related a strange story, which in substance was as follows:

He says he was married in Illinois about six years ago and three years later his wife died very suddenly. He attended the funeral, as a matter of course, looked for the last time upon the face he had loved in life, now cold in death, saw the coffin closed, lowered into the grave, and heard that awful sound as the earth from the grave-digger's shovel fell upon the coffin-lid that hid from sight all that he held dear in this world. Shortly after the death and burial of his wife he removed to Kansas and for the last year has been in Nebraska. In all this there is nothing singular; such things happen every day.

Now comes the strange part of his story. He says that shortly after he reached Kansas he received a letter, dated and postmarked at his old home in Illinois, signed by his wife's name, "Lulu," and unmistakably in her handwriting. Of this latter fact he is assured, as he compared the handwriting with that of several letters received from his wife before his marriage, which he still has in his possession. She said in the letter that she was very lonely, missed him greatly, and implored him to return to her. The only singular thing to one not knowing the facts of the case was a sentence something like this: “You all thought I died, but I did not, and am much better than when I saw you last.” To the latter part of this sentence Aimison could or would not attempt an explanation. Otherwise the letter was such as any wife might write to an absent husband.

Since then at irregular intervals he has received other letters, all couched in endearing language, but making no attempt to explain the mystery. One came from Concordia, Kas., near which place he was located before coming to Nebraska. In this the writer bitterly bewailed the fact of his leaving before she reached him.

At first Aimison thought some of his former acquaintances in Illinois were playing a ghastly practical joke, but after receiving several letters began to feel disturbed, and sent them back to his wife's parents in Illinois. They agreed with him that the handwriting was that of their daughter, but could offer no explanation. He answered one of the letters, addressing it, "Mrs. W.S. Aimison," and it was returned to him at this city from the Dead-Letter Office. The last letter received from his "wife" came about three weeks ago, dated at Table Rock, this state, and stated that "Lulu" was there sick, out of money, and asking him to come to her relief. Aimison left immediately upon receipt of this letter for Table Rock.

Upon investigation after his arrival he found that a woman had been at the hotel there, arriving several days before he did. She was sick when she reached there, confined to her room most of the time, and left after a week's stay for no one knew where. In the register at the hotel he found the name "Mrs. Lulu Aimison," no place of residence being given. The handwriting was identical with that of the letters he had received. The description of the woman given by people at the hotel was almost identical with that of his wife the last time he saw her alive. There were slight discrepancies, but nothing but what three years' time accounts for. Aimison, now thoroughly aroused and determined to get at the bottom of the affair, left at once for Illinois and had the remains of his wife exhumed, finding them as they had been buried: there could be no mistake about that. The question is, Who sent the letters and who is the woman? Mr. Aimison is a fairly educated man, not at all superstitious, but acknowledges that the affair has worried him a great deal. His reputation here is good, his employer speaking very highly of him. He says if he receives any more letters he will not allow them to trouble him, but will make an earnest effort to discover their author, and when he does has promised to tell what happens.
I've found nothing further about this story, suggesting that Aimison never did find out what in the hell was going on.


  1. Someone crazy enough to believe she was the dead woman and dedicated enough to be able to copy her handwriting? But then we're stuck with another mystery - what happened to her?

    At least they got along well.

  2. That's very weird, all right. It's one of those stories that would make a great movie - until the explanation let it down.

    I'd be creeped out by the fact that the woman kept getting closer to him, town by town - until she disappeared.

  3. What an amazing story! I want it to keep going.


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