"...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, December 5, 2018

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

via Newspapers.com

You may recall that a while ago, I posted a story about a man who was being pestered with letters...from his very dead wife. Curiously enough, this wasn't the only marital correspondence from beyond the grave that I've found. Here is a story from the "The True Northerner," October 1, 1885:

This may be said, if all the advices that have been floating of late in regard to people who were supposed to be dead, and are alive again. A telegram from Toledo relates the story of a farmer in Montclara , Ohio, who died and was buried thirteen years ago, but is still writing to his family. The Sunday Capital prints a story quite as remarkable, as follows:

“A very remarkable case has come to my attention through a friend in the pension office which furnishes incidents for a novel as powerful as any Dumas or Eugene Sue ever used. In 1864 a lieutenant from an Ohio village was killed in one of the battles in Virginia and his body was sent home, buried with military honors and a handsome monument erected over it by the citizens of the place. Thousands of people paid their tributes of honor to the young hero and looked upon his face as the body lay in the town hall. He left a widow to whom he had been married only a year, and for more than twenty years she has been trying to get a pension; but, although she keeps fresh flowers upon her husband’s grave, she cannot prove that he is dead. The records in the adjutant general’s office are perfect, and affidavits can be furnished from thousands of people who saw and recognized his lifeless body, but every few months she receives a letter from him written in a hand as familiar as her own. Two letters never come from the same place; now they are postmarked in Colorado, then in Texas, then in New York. Once she got a note from him dated at Washington. He appears to know what is going on at home, and always alludes to local occurrences with a familiarity that is amazing. He sends messages to old friends and gives her advice about business matters which it seems impossible for a stranger to know. She cannot answer these ghostly missives, because he never gives any clew to his whereabouts, and no detective has ever been able to find him. Her friends believe that the writer is some crank or malicious person who takes this way to annoy her, and the distress the poor woman suffers cannot be measured by any other human experience. Long ago she ceased to open envelopes which came with the familiar address, but sends them sealed to her attorney, who uses every possible means to secure a clew to the identity of the writer. The only circumstances to suggest that it may possibly be her husband are the penmanship and the familiarity the writer shows with the lady’s private life, but how he could keep himself posted is another mystery, which cannot be solved. Several times the writer has intimated that he might soon pay her a visit, but the next letter always contains an apology for not having done so. The woman has suffered agony of mind beyond description, and her life has been ruined by this horrible mystery, but of late she has become more resigned, and would neither be surprised or disappointed if her husband should someday walk into her door."
As is too often the case with the particularly weird newspaper reports, I've been unable to find how, or if, this mystery was ever resolved.


  1. Someone in the family trying to keep her from remarrying for some reason? Either the person traveled or was around and had a way to get the letters posted elsewhere- not so easy at that time.A family member would know or be told, without thinking any harm, about business and personal things and might have or be able to develop similar handwriting. The other option is that her husband was alive and everyone saw what they expected when a body was returned. It's a pity there was no follow up.

  2. I think a story like this is creepier than most ghost stories. How or why someone would pull a prank like this is beyond me.


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