"...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, June 19, 2019

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

Via Newspapers.com

All right, let's talk phantom cows. From the "Ellsworth Reporter," November 8, 1888:
A farmer named Burt B.. living in the bottoms between Kansas City Kansas, and Quindaro, tells of a peculiar annoyance which he has with what he claims is a phantom cow.

According to the story which he tells, and in which his family acquiesce, a large brindle cow of his dairy got into his basement one afternoon and ate a large number of watermelons which his boys, Frank and Archie, aged 11 and 13, had put on ice, intending to take them to town and sell them for spending money. They found the bovine after she had despoiled their hopes, and were so enraged that after cornering and tormenting her with a vindictiveness that only disappointed boys can contrive, they shot the cow.

Mr. B. caught them just then, and as she was a valuable animal, did all in his power to save her. But the wound was bad, and coupled with a severe colic which the over-indulgence in melons had caused, she died in the morning after a night of horrible agony, during which the most dreadful groans broke continually from her suffering system. Since that time, at irregular intervals, the inmates of the house are nearly driven to distraction by pitiful sepulchral moans which burst forth without warning and continue for hours. They pervade the house and render the place a perfect pandemonium. Two or three times he has gone to the cellar, avowing that a cow had gotten in there.

The worst of it is, however that the two boys rave when they hear the dread sounds, and insist that they see a cow in the room, and that she is trying to gore them. Again, they assert the bovine is jumping through the window, next in the corner then under the bed. When the boys are away from home there is no trouble, but as soon as they return the haunt commences. He is at a great loss as to the means by . which to conjure the "bossy spook" to rest.

Eh, those two vicious little brats get no sympathy from me.

Not to be outdone, the "New York World" for August 9, 1896 said, "We'll see your phantom cow and raise you one phantom headless cow:
A new kind of spook has appeared to frighten timid people in Cumbria County, Pa. A spectre cow, with her head severed from her body and dangling in the air in front of her, has appeared to several people who have chanced to pass near her haunts at night, and all unite in saying that the sight was most terrifying.

Elmer Person, city editor of Pennsylvania Grit, a newspaper published at Williamsport, has investigated the stories told by several people regarding the apparition and finds that they all agree in every particular. He interviewed a number of folks who claim to have seen the spook and he vouches for their respectability and declares that they believe the stories they tell.

As describe by the men seen by Mr. Person the ghost is a frightful object. At a late hour at night the spook is seen madly cavorting along the roadside, at times using the rail fences as a path, occasionally careening wildly along stone fences and again taking to the air. At all times the head of the cow appears severed from the body, looming fearsomely some feet in advance of the rear of the spectre.

The abode of the ghost is in a ruined building near Johnstown. the building was formerly used as a slaughter-house and innumerable cows lost their lives there. It has been untenanted for years and stands in an isolated and lonesome spot. Ever since the butcher abandoned the premises uncanny things have been told about it and children have been afraid to pass the spot at night.

Many people who have passed the place after sundown have seen the bovine spook. They say that the form of a cow suddenly dashes out of the rickety building, which stands some distance back from the road, and runs past them with the speed of an express train. The head maintains a uniform distance from the body and from the severed and bleeding neck come frightful cries that would chill the warmest blood.

The eyes flash fire as the cow passes the frightened spectator. The mouth is always open, and the teeth--large and jagged--are plainly seen and are apparently lighted with some sort of greenish fire. The bellowing is awful and can be heard for a long distance.

The spectre's always seen either leaving the old slaughter-house or else returning to it. One spectator who watched one night said that after emerging from the building the ghost went down the road, at times running on top of the stake-and-rider fence until the stone fence was encountered at the edge of what is known as Climber's Hill.

Then it followed the stone fence across the hill, and, after giving one tremendous bellow, retrace its steps. Arriving in front of the former shambles the spectre cow paused for a moment, and then, with a wild burst of noises more hideous than before, dashed into the building and disappeared.

Mr. Person puts forth the story as one worthy of all credence. He adds that the people for miles around are very much excited about the spook, and none is able to offer explanations that are satisfactory. No one who has encountered the spook once can be induce to go near the place again at night. One sight of the headless cow as she dashes down the road bellowing hoarsely through the stump of a neck is all that anyone cares to have.

The country about the scene of the terrifying occurrences is wild and hilly. There was formerly considerable travel along the road which led past the slaughter-house, but since the ghostly cow has begun traveling the thoroughfare at night with teeth that look like bicycle lanterns and with a hea that refuses to stay where it belongs, things have changed considerably and people drive around the other way.

"That headless cow spook seems funny in the daytime," said one man who saw it, "but at night there is nothing funny about her. I saw her once and heard her bellow, and I shall not go past that old slaughter-house again soon after dark."

Still in the mood for that steak?


  1. I think the two cows should have gotten together to terrorise those two punks, Frank and Archie.


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