"...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, April 25, 2018

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

This week, let's talk Mystery Stones. From the (Dundee, Scotland) "Sunday Post," August 15, 1920:
Woodford, Saturday. Mysterious attacks made on a villa in Grove Road, Woodford, are puzzling the local police. The attacks are also causing considerable indignation and alarm among the people in the neighbourhood.

Wellington Villa, occupied by Mr. Thomas Herbert Gaskin, inventor of the Gaskin lifeboat, has been singled out for a series of extraordinary assaults by some person or persons apparently armed with a long-distance catapult.

The attacks commenced about a week ago, when stones, seemingly propelled from a spot a considerable distance away, rattled against the upper windows without doing any damage. The second attempt was of a more determined nature, and the third, commencing late on Thursday night, was continued into the small hours of yesterday morning, causing much damage.

The whole neighbourhood was roused, and fifty people, assisted by four policemen, searched the district for hours. Having got the range of the house, the attackers sent stone after stone through the bedroom windows, breaking plate glass three-eighths of inch thick. Mr. Gaskin's son was struck on the shoulder by a pebble, and the bedroom floors were soon littered with stones and broken glass.

The police and others who took up the search for the attacking party climbed the roofs of adjacent houses and swarmed neighbouring trees, in order to get good posts of observation, but no one could discover where the stones were coming from. The stones were smooth, and evidently carefully chosen for the purpose.

Mr. Gaskin, who is an American, has lived at Wellington Villa for fourteen years, as far as he knows has not an enemy in the world, and he can offer no solution to the mystery. If a catapult is being used it must be one of unusual power, for all the stones come in a straight line. 
On August 18, the "Sunderland Echo" had more on the puzzling bombardment:
The mystery of Wellington Villa, Grove Road, Woodford, deepens. Detectives inside and outside the house have failed to solve it, nor can the crowds of curious onlookers who hare been attracted to the road offer any intelligible theory.

The problem is to locate the person or persons who, for more than a week, have been terrorising the occupants of the villa nightly by directing a steady fire of stones at the front bedroom windows. The villa—three storey house—is situated in a quiet road. The serio-comic, yet uncanny, happening, repeated each evening as soon the family retire to rest, has created indignation in the neighbourhood, and the local police have sought the assistance of Scotland Yard.

The theory at first favoured by the local police was that the stones came from persons armed with a long-range catapult; but it is now thought that the stones must be directed by something of greater force than a catapult.

The house is occupied by Mr. Gaskin, the inventor of the Gaskin lifeboat, who has resided there for fourteen years.

Crowds of curious spectators flocked to the scene of operations soon after dusk, while policemen and interested residents climbed trees and mounted roofs and housetops in search of the unseen enemy. Oblivious of the massed forces of the "defenders" and "scouts," the attackers opened fire, the windows being subjected to a storm of stones of varying sizes. Several people keeping watch on neighbouring housetops were struck.
I wasn't able to find any more about the story, suggesting that Mr. Gaskin's persecution ceased without the mystery being solved.


  1. I favour the catapult (i.e.. slingshot) solution, if there is a terrestrial explanation behind it. Those devices can really project. But this would mean avoiding all the surveillance and searches, and having excellent aim with little practice...

  2. It's interesting that no one was claiming it was supernatural. I bet they would have if it happened a bit earlier than 1920.


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