"...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

Friday, March 31, 2023

Weekend Link Dump


"The Witches' Cove," Follower of Jan Mandijn

Welcome to this week's Link Dump!

And beware...

Because you know what day tomorrow is.

A look at "uroscopy."

A look at female "aquanauts."

Some vintage "life hacks" you probably want to avoid.

On the other hand, you might want to try these vintage life hacks.

The (likely romanticized) life of Princess Nest.

A ferocious frigate battle.

The most powerful man in WWI-era Germany.

A Tudor autograph book.

The link between steam locomotives and biological evolution.

The long history of St. Mary Stratford Atte Bow Church.

Italy's "storytelling gardens."

Italy's "secret garden."

The bridal journey of Margaret of Anjou.

Traveling with a corpse and your dog.

A family album of shipwrecks.

17th century "dummy boards."

Female travelers on 19th century Indian railways.

The Battle of St. Albans, 1455.

A message from a doomed ship.

The sleeping habits of 18th century sailors.

Some Filipino islanders weave their dreams.

I hate it when scientists have way too much free time on their hands.

The sailor and the "sea ducks."

The Young Ireland Rebellion.

The 17th century "transfusion affair."

Not everyone wants to be reincarnated.  (I happen to agree.  I've always thought that one ride in this particular rodeo is plenty.)

A remarkable Italian villa that no one wants to buy.

The hunt for a mystical mushroom.

A missionary and his dog.

The oldest known tartan.

The transportation of female convicts, 1820.

The Liverpool poisoners.

A criminal's "barbarous determination."

1920s-era curry.

Butchery in Massachusetts.

London's "Mole Man."

A monument commemorating a happy marriage. 

A beach covered with ancient petroglyphs.

That's a wrap for this week!  See you on Monday, when we'll look at a landlord/tenant dispute that's pretty hard to top.  In the meantime, here's a blast from the past.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

Via Newspapers.com

This week, we visit a haunted house that has a bit of Mystery Blood thrown in.  The "Glen Elder Sentinel," August 20, 1903:

A remarkable ghost sensation is disturbing the serenity of St. Peter Port, Guernsey, where a local photographer has just vacated his residence on the ground that he and members of his family have been terrified by supernatural visitations. 

The photographer states that when taking his meals he has seen arms reaching over his head and endeavoring to take away his food. The pictures on the walls have moved in weird fashion, and there were sounds of rattling chains and ringing bells. 

One evening, according to a writer in the London Express, the tenant's daughter saw an apparition clad in white coming down the stairs. It possessed only one hand, the fingers of which were twice the ordinary length and streaming with blood. 

This spectral visitant, seen on another occasion by the daughter, indicated that her mother's brooch, which was missing, would be found in the range in a certain room. Here it was discovered. 

This so preyed on the girl's mind that she had to take to her bed, and finally the weird manifestations became so frequent that the photographer decided to leave the house. 

Crowds gathered nightly around the place and the authorities deputed several constables to watch the house. When one of these entered the premises a mat flew in his face. Another officer, while sitting in one of the rooms, felt his chair being lifted in midair. He fled in terror. 

After this a number of prominent residents endeavored to solve the mystery.  They chalked the stairs, locked a chocolate box in one of the cupboards and left the premises apparently secure. When they returned shortly afterward there were footprints on the chalked staircase, and the chocolate box was on the middle of a table, with a feather balanced on the top of it. Yet the cupboard in which the box was placed was still locked.

I couldn't find anything more about this particular haunting.  That is a pity, because it sounded like a particularly lively and multi-talented poltergeist.

Monday, March 27, 2023

The Curious Case of the (Allegedly) Murdered Maid

The Scottish-born James Oliphant worked as a surgeon in Newcastle.  In 1755, he married one Margaret Erskine, and the pair went on to have two children.  From all appearances, the family was one of solid 18th century middle-class respectability.

This seemingly ordinary household took a very dark turn in May of 1764.  One of Oliphant’s two maidservants unexpectedly became so ill she had to quit her job.  This sudden turn of events compelled the family to replace her with a young woman named Dinah Armstrong, even though the girl did not provide the usual “character.”  (What we today would call “references.”)

This turned out to be highly unfortunate for all concerned.  It soon emerged that the reason for Armstrong’s lack of “character” was due to her lack of character.  Just a few days before the Oliphants hired Armstrong, she had been dismissed from her previous position on suspicion of being a thief.  However, the Oliphants considered Armstrong’s denials of wrongdoing, as well as her “good countenance” to be sufficient to overlook her alleged transgression.

On June 5, James Oliphant and his wife went to visit relatives, leaving their children in the care of their friend Mrs. Milne, the wife of a Newcastle merchant.  Armstrong accompanied the children to act as their nurse.  When the Oliphants returned on July 10, Mrs. Milne informed them that three of her damask napkins had disappeared, and “from circumstances” she believed Armstrong had stolen them.  When questioned, the maid vigorously protested her innocence, but showed a suspicious reluctance to have her belongings searched.  When Mrs. Oliphant inspected Armstrong’s chest, she found no napkins, but a linen sheet marked with the initials “A.H.”  This proved to be the property of Armstrong’s former employer, Mrs. Heath.  When confronted, Armstrong admitted that she had stolen it, as well as some other items.

Mrs. Oliphant treated her errant maid with unusual mercy.  She told Armstrong that she could keep her position until “her quarter” had expired, and promised that she, Mrs. Oliphant, would put in a good word for her, if only Armstrong would return the napkins to Mrs. Milne.  However, the girl continued to insist that she had not taken anything of Mrs. Milne’s.

Mrs. Milne must have been a woman who dearly loved her napkins, because she now threatened to have Armstrong prosecuted, and urged the Oliphants to immediately dismiss the maid.  For whatever reason--whether through a sense of Christian charity, or a simple reluctance to go to the trouble of finding another servant--Mrs. Oliphant rejected the suggestion.  It occurred to her that if “some person of ingenuity” was to question the girl, Armstrong might be persuaded to admit guilt and turn over those napkins.  Accordingly, a neighbor of “great humanity” named John Green was called in on July 17 to have a chat with the girl.  Armstrong confessed to Green that she had indeed nicked Mrs. Heath’s sheet, but continued to insist she knew nothing about the napkins.  Green--no doubt with a deep sigh--asked her to think things over.  He told her he would return later in the day to see if she had a change of heart.

This story may well have ended very differently if only the Oliphant home had been on dry land.  Their residence was on the south end of Tyne Bridge.  Mr. Oliphant’s shop was on the ground floor, with the kitchen and parlor on the middle floor.  The family’s living quarters were on the top floor.  Underneath the shop were winding stairs leading to a cellar.  The cellar had a door cut into two parts: the upper part could be opened to receive air and light, while the under part was used to load or unload goods into or from the river Tyne.

At one p.m. on July 17, the Oliphants gathered for dinner in the parlor.  Dining with them was Mrs. Oliphant’s father and one Henry Thompson, a patient of Mr. Oliphant’s who had been living with them since the previous month.  Armstrong cooked the meal, while the other servant, Mary Shittleton, waited at the table.  Dinah was in a noticeably sulky mood, which is hardly surprising under the circumstances.

In the kitchen with Armstrong was a staymaker named Margaret French.  She was waiting for the Oliphant’s daughter to come home from school so she could have a fitting for a new pair of stays.  Mrs. French, “amusing herself at the window,” paid little attention to Armstrong, who could not have been a very cheerful companion at the moment.  When Shittleton came into the kitchen to fetch more food, she noticed that Armstrong was not there.  Mrs. French told her that she thought the girl had gone downstairs.

Shittleton called down the stairs.  Getting no reply, she went down to the shop.  Failing to find Armstrong there, she descended into the cellar.  As she went down the stairs, she saw reflected on the east wall of the cellar the shadow of a figure leaping from the lower half-door into the river.  As the tide was out, she heard, not a splash, but a dull thud upon the shore.  When she looked out, she saw Armstrong lying on the sand 13 feet below.  Shittleton rushed upstairs to summon the family.  By the time everyone had gone down to the cellar, Armstrong was gone.

The Oliphants instantly gathered neighbors together to form a search party, but although they found the mark where Armstrong had landed, no other trace of the girl was found, in or out of the river.  It was assumed that the maid had attempted to drown herself, but when she saw the tide was out, she “escap’d undiscover’d by some of the passages leading from the water side into the town,” and her guilty conscience prevented her from contacting either the Oliphants or her own family.

That night, Armstrong’s sister Jane, who lived in Newcastle, was informed of her sister’s disappearance.  Jane replied that she had heard nothing from Dinah.  The following morning, Jane arrived at the Oliphant home.  She told the family that another sister, Tamar, lived in Long Benton, three miles from Newcastle.  She thought Dinah might be there.  

On July 19th, Jane paid another visit to the Oliphants, asking that Dinah’s clothes and chest of personal possessions be turned over to her.  As Jane seemed unconcerned about her sister’s odd disappearance, the Oliphants assumed she knew where Dinah was, and with the threat of prosecution hanging over her head, their maid wished to remain in hiding.

On the morning of the 22nd, a keelman named Joseph Barlow came to the Oliphant’s home.  When Mary Shittleton opened the door, he asked if the family “had a maid that was drowned lately.”  Shittleton replied that they had one that was missing, but she certainly hoped she hadn’t drowned.  When Mr. Oliphant came to speak with Barlow, the keelman told him that he and another man had just “taken up a woman floating in the middle of the river Tyne.”  From Barlow’s description, Oliphant could not be certain if it was Dinah or not.  He recommended that Barlow see Jane Armstrong about the matter.  Oliphant dispatched Shittleton to see the body, which she immediately identified as her former co-worker.

When gawkers examined the corpse, it was noted that Dinah, who always wore a necklace or ribbon on her neck, had a circular mark around her throat, causing these amateur pathologists to surmise that the girl had been strangled.  (However, when the body was first recovered, her cap was hanging behind her head, tied under the chin with a small string.)  Gossipmongers seized on this theory, immediately spreading lurid rumors that the Oliphants had murdered their erring maid.  The day after Dinah’s body was found, Tamar Armstrong went to the Oliphant home in order to issue “the most scurrilous abuse and threats” against the family.

On July 24, John Robson, one of the coroners for the County of Durham, came to Dunston to hold an inquest.  Unfortunately for the Oliphants, Robson, as well as the jurors he empanelled, had heard the tittle-tattle blaming the family for Armstrong’s death, and were all inclined to believe it.  Mary Shittleton was summoned to give evidence.  However, although the Oliphants volunteered to give testimony, the offer was ignored.  Likewise, although John Green attended the inquest, the coroner also refused to take his deposition.  It was clear that Robson saw the inquest as a court of the kangaroo kind.

Five witnesses testified at the inquiry.  Jane Armstrong stated that on July 16, she visited Dinah, who was “very dull and heavy.”  She claimed that when she returned later in the week, Mrs. Oliphant told her that John Green had been sent to “threaten” Dinah about the missing napkins.  She added that Mary Shittleton informed her that after Dinah leaped from the cellar window, Mary saw her “rise up and run.”

One Thomasine Elwell testified that on the day after the body was found, she was in Mr. Oliphant’s surgery.  Mrs. Oliphant told her that Dinah’s death “was the greatest trouble that ever came to her family.”  She added that three sheets and a tablecloth were missing, and “that she had her [Dinah] there [the cellar] from the Friday before to the Tuesday till she did that wicked deed.”

Mary Shittleton gave her account of seeing Dinah’s leap into the river.  A woman named Jane Greeves testified that three weeks before Dinah vanished, she encountered the maidservant on the quayside.  Armstrong told her that she was in Mrs. Oliphant’s service, and was doing very well.  On July 23, Greeves accompanied Jane Armstrong to ask Mrs. Oliphant “What she had to lay to the charge of the said Dinah.”  Mrs. Oliphant told them about finding Mrs. Heath’s sheet, and that she herself was missing some linen, but that Dinah had begged her not to tell any of the Armstrongs about it.

The coroner had requested a surgeon named Robert Somerville to inspect the body.  Somerville testified that he had found “a circular mark on her neck about half an inch in breadth, which has been made (to my judgment) by a rope, or might have been done by a ribband, necklace or the like nature, but there was no such thing found upon her neck when taken up.  Her face was quite black, occasioned by a stagnation of the blood, which is a concomitant of strangling or suffocation.”  He found no other marks of violence.

We do not have a record of how Robson summed up this rather sparse evidence to the jury.  This is a pity, for his oration must have been a humdinger.  It resulted in the jurors making the remarkable declaration that “James Oliphant, Margaret Oliphant, and Mary Shittleton, with force and arms, in the cellar of the dwelling-house of the said James Oliphant at Gateshead in the county of Durham, feloniously, wilfully, and of their malice aforethought did strangle and suffocate Dinah Armstrong with a certain cord of the value of sixpence.”  No motive was offered for why this hitherto law-abiding household dealt with an unsatisfactory servant not by firing her, but by strangling her and dumping the body in the river.  The Oliphants and Mary Shittleton were arrested early the next morning.

The three defendants stood trial at the Durham Assizes on August 17.  The Crown witnesses offered little that had not been heard at the inquest.  The defense called just two people: Henry Thompson and Margaret French.  Thompson asserted that the deceased had always been treated kindly by the family, and that the maid had never been restrained in the cellar, or anywhere else.  Mrs. French stated that she saw Dinah going about her business as usual, although she seemed “very dull.”  She corroborated Mary Shittleton’s account of the subsequent events.

No doubt much to the disappointment of Coroner Robson, the defendants were acquitted, “to the entire satisfaction of the whole court.”  The judge added that he believed they were “as innocent of the crime laid to your charge as myself.”

In September 1764, Mr. Oliphant, naturally anxious for some redress for the financial and emotional trauma his household had experienced, exhibited a complaint against Robson to the Court of King’s Bench.  The Court refused the motion, advising Oliphant to take his troubles to the Grand Jury.  However, Oliphant learned that such a proceeding would be too expensive for his severely diminished funds.  The unhappy man had to settle for publishing a pamphlet detailing his long ordeal.  The Oliphants continued to live in their tragedy-scarred home until the Great Flood of 1771 destroyed the dwelling.  A short time afterward, the family returned to Scotland, for good.  The Oliphants probably spent the rest of their lives earnestly wishing that Mrs. Milne had just forgotten about her damned napkins.

Although it seems most probable that Dinah, having failed in her first attempt at suicide, succeeded with the second, there are still mystifying elements to the case.  While it is natural that Dinah’s relatives would prefer to think she had not committed suicide, it is baffling that the coroner would pursue such a determined persecution of the Oliphants on such extremely scanty evidence.

And, of course, there is the question we are all thinking:  What happened to those napkins, anyway?

Friday, March 24, 2023

Weekend Link Dump


"The Witches' Cove," Follower of Jan Mandijn

Welcome to the first Link Dump of Spring 2023!

The staffers are doing the annual spring cleaning of Spring Company HQ.  It's going about as well as expected.

Where the hell is "Tucker's Cross?"

What the hell was "Oumuamua?"

The building of Britain's fairy kingdom.

How to make a monster gun disappear.

A new look at Richard III.

To hell and back.  Literally.

Rumors of supersecret aircraft.

If you should see a photo of Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler, it ain't her.

A female Napoleonic soldier.

Africa is splitting up.

Virginia Woolf's only play.

A pickpocket's very bad day.

The secrets of Beethoven's DNA.

Egyptology and the Third Reich.

Technology, the Holocaust, and the Third Reich.

A scandalous elopement.

A visit to Seahenge.

Paris in the time of cholera.

Piracy on the River Wandle.

The phantom canoe of Lake Tarawera.

Surviving the sinking of HMS Namur.

The war over a salesman's Weird Will.

Scotland's memorial to Dudley the Cat.

A forgotten Elizabethan noblewoman.

The mother of Dido Elizabeth Belle.

Notre Dame's fire continues to reveal secrets.

A menu fit for a Tudor royal.

A historical door in Cornhill.

A suffragette outrage.

The world's strongest baby.

A famed oyster eater.

The life of Paula Hitler, Adolf's sister.

The origins of "y'all."

The groundbreaking career of an Indian lawyer.

So, let's talk Patent Preserved Potatoes.

Ghost cougars of the Eastern U.S.

A London steeplekeeper.

In which Jane Austen goes dancing.

Europe's oldest map.

The cave art with missing fingers.

The Baldwinsville murder.

The Stanford alien abduction.

That's all for this week!  See you on Monday, when we'll look at a maidservant's mysterious death.  In the meantime, here's Albinoni:

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

Via Newspapers.com

This account of strange doings in Teddy Roosevelt's neighborhood appeared in the "Washington Star," August 2, 1907:

OYSTER BAY, N. Y. August 2--The inhabitants of the summer capital are trying to fathom the meaning of two mysterious portents which appeared here yesterday. While many are sure that the occurrences are symbolical of disaster, others, on the contrary, are sure that they foretell good luck. At any rate, whatever the meaning of the phenomena, the village has been furnished with fresh food for gossip. 

The first of the happenings came to light yesterday morning, when Miss Louise Denton, the librarian of the Oyster Bay Public Library, opened that institution for the day. Miss Denton noticed that a large mahogany chair presented to the library by Theodore Roosevelt when he was governor of New York state and often used by him, which has been a highly prized possession ever since, was split down the center of the back. The chair is built in cathedral style and is elaborately carved and upholstered in leather. At the top and furnishing a portion of the back is a large American eagle exquisitely carved. 

It is the eagle that is split directly in two. How it happened no one apparently knows. Miss Denton says it was all right when she left the building the day before, and no one had so far as is known, entered the place in her absence. The split occurred where the two parts of the eagle were joined together, and some of the trustees of the library say it was the heat that caused the wood to crack. The superstitious, however, are of the opinion that the severing of the eagle foretells he breaking up of President Roosevelt's good fortune, and that from now his star of good luck will be on the wane.

The other portent that is disturbing the minds of the villagers and furnishing food or thought was seen by many last night.  It was a light, considerably larger than a star, that seemed to hover directly over Sagamore Hill, the President's home.  It first made its appearance about 9 and was distinctly visible about three hundred feet the air until 11 o'clock, when it slowly faded to a spark and went out altogether. Many persons witnessed the phenomenon, but no one could explain what it was. The light was intensely white, and seemed to remain in a fixed position. So far as is known the light was not visible anywhere but from Oyster Bay, and the President's admirers proclaim that it is a sign that Mr. Roosevelt would continue to lead the destinies of the nation for another four years. 

Mr. William Ainsworth, a retired business man of South street, vouches for the occurrence. He says he saw the light distinctly, and it was different from any light he had ever seen. It seemed, he said, to show with the dazzling intensity of an arc light.

Monday, March 20, 2023

The Flying Pansini Brothers

Sometime in 1901, a mason and architect named Mauro Pansini brought his family to live in an old house near the Palazzo Municipale in Ruvo di Puglia, in southern Italy.  Then things got weird.

Very weird.  Even for this blog.

A few days after the family moved in strange and terrifying things began happening.  Mysterious and eerie noises were heard throughout the house.  Pictures fell from nails.  Plates, glasses, and bottles flew into the walls, shattering them.  Then the furniture took to moving itself around.  The Pansinis assumed their new home was possessed by demons, and called in a priest to perform an exorcism.  This had the usual depressing lack of results.

So far, what we have here is a pretty bog-standard poltergeist case.  But then the two Pansini boys, seven year old Alfredo and eight year old Paolo, got into the act in a big way.  One evening, Alfredo went into a trance, and began speaking to his family in a voice that was not his own.  This voice said that he had been sent by God to drive away the demons.  The boy started to fall into these trances often, where this strange voice would perform recitations in French, Latin and Greek.

For a while, it looked like the Pansinis were at least being pestered by a generous pack of spirits.  Before their eyes, food would suddenly appear in the pantry or on their dining table.  Various sweets and candies were brought to them by invisible hands.  One night, Alfredo announced that he was witnessing a battle between the good and bad ghosts.  His increasingly rattled parents took him to church, where he instantly fell unconscious.  He only revived when the bishop spoke his name.  Alfredo stayed with the bishop for a few days, but as this failed to bring him out of his uncanny state of mind, he was returned to his family.  The Pansinis sent him to a seminary school, hoping that the change of scene would bring him back to normal.  Unfortunately, all his new surroundings did was inspire him to add telepathy to his growing list of weird talents.

After Alfredo returned home two years later, the High Strangeness really got into gear.  One morning around 9 a.m., the two boys were in Ruvo di Puglia.  Just half-an-hour later, they appeared at the Capucine convent in Malfatti, thirty miles from where they had last been seen.  A few days after this, the Pansinis were sitting at their dining table.  Paolo was sent to fetch them wine.  He did not return.  Half an hour after this, Alfredo also disappeared.  The instant Alfredo vanished, both he and Paolo suddenly appeared in a fishing boat at sea off the port of Barlatta.  The fisherman--who was just as terrified as the boys--brought them to dry land, where they were lucky enough to find a coachman who knew them and was able to take them home. 

One day, as the mother was discussing her problematic sons with the bishop, the boys--who had been nearby, within view--both vanished.  A few minutes later, they got word that Alfredo and Paolo had been seen several miles away.  Their father, thinking they had merely run away, locked them in their room.  A short time later, the boys suddenly appeared at the home of an uncle, many miles away.  On another occasion, they disappeared from a moving carriage, only to be found at their intended destination.

In the same inexplicable, instantaneous fashion, the brothers continued their unwilling visits.  They would suddenly appear in a number of far-distant towns, with nobody--most particularly the boys themselves--able to say how in the world they got there.  Alfredo and Paolo were investigated by various scientists and doctors, only to leave these “experts” completely baffled.  They could only mutter that the boys were suffering from some sort of “ambulatory automatism”--in other words, a form of amnesia.  Of course, this failed to explain how the boys could travel such vast distances in such a short time.

The brothers could only conclude that they were transported “through the work and power of the Holy Spirit.”  In 1905, Alfredo told the editor of the “Corriere delle Puglie,” “I don’t know how to explain what happens to me.  What happens seems to be a succession of events without any reason, without cause.  The change of place seems to happen before my eyes, with no one making it.  And my own person, suddenly, is located in another place without knowing how and why.”  Intriguingly, he said that an older brother of theirs was also plagued by these involuntary transportations before he joined the military.

The Pansini brothers continued their unwanted disappearances and appearances until they reached puberty, when, luckily for them, the teleportations stopped.  Their adult lives, as far as anyone knows, were perfectly normal.

Imagine the stories Alfredo and Paolo had to tell their kids.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Weekend Link Dump


"The Witches' Cove," Follower of Jan Mandijn

The staffers at Strange Company HQ wish you a happy St. Patrick's Day!

History's worst parties.

A "most atrocious murder."

China's "river highway."

The world's largest known gold nugget.

Authors manage to find weird ways to die.

The bizarre "Alice in Wonderland" syndrome.

Eating the holy clay.  Just be warned that it's one of those "ewww" stories.  But then, if you're a reader of my blog, "ewww" is probably mother's milk to you.

There's a new theory about the identity of Leonardo da Vinci's mother.

What dinosaurs may have sounded like.


Mars has some weird sand dunes.

The boy who was kissed to death.

Good wishes, best wishes, and well wishes.

An author who was the "land mine" of German literature.

The short and tragic career of Thomas Crawford of the Royal Welch Fusiliers.

The monument to Nipper, the Listening Dog.

A magical ancient tomb.

Meet a man who survived being cremated.

A 15th century deathbed confession.

The Loch Ness Monster may have a friend.

In which things go all pear-shaped for Thomas, Earl of Lancaster.

London fashions for March 1823.

The Westminster Cemetery Scandal.

The turning angel statue of Natchez.

A man missing for 24 years returns home.

The history of "suicide by proxy."

The mystery of the missing kitten.

Mozart's equally talented sister.

Catching a child-killer.

Does the future influence the past?

A revolutionary drinking song.

Charles Dickens and the begging-letter writer.

For anyone who wants a peek at a funeral cookbook.

A huge Roman-era complex has been uncovered in France.

Images of "Wonderful London's" East End.

An ancient monument to unknown gods.

The knight who stood up to the Nazis.

One very deep--and very cold--dive.

Tools from 3 million years ago.

Irene of Athens, Byzantine Empress.

Garfield phones have been washing up on a French beach, and it took thirty years to find out why.

That's all for this week!  See you on Monday, when we'll meet two brothers with very wild talents.  In the meantime, here's some Mozart.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

Via Newspapers.com

Because everyone loves a haunted cornfield, I present this story from the (Bowling Green, Ohio) "Daily Sentinel Tribune," November 8, 1904:

The "ghost" in the large cornfield on the Stephen Laskey farm, northwest of Rudolph, still prospers and is the cause of much wondering on the part of many residents of the village and surrounding country.

The cries which resemble the wails of a babe are still heard in the field as many residents of this village will testify. Cap. Nelson is given as a reference, but he says he has not visited the scene of the weird doings but will do so soon with the expectation of seeing and hearing something. 

A number of explanations of the mystery are offered but none have been found as yet which seem to exactly hit the point. Despite the speculation the wails continue to rise from the ground and the neighbors continue to be mystified or scared according to their temperaments.

One story has it that the noises are the cries of some wild beast which was discovered in the same territory about six years ago. It was hunted and wounded by a farmer with a shotgun after creating the same kind of excitement at that time. The animal, beast, or wild man was shot during the night and clots of blood were discovered around the next day. 

A gruesome murder of forty years ago is recalled by some of the older residents and the more superstitious explain the phenomenon of the present day as the wails of the murdered man’s ghost complaining of the treatment he received. 

About forty years ago, when the farm was owned by another party, an old peddler reached the place late one evening and seeing a light in the old house went to it and sought shelter for the night. He was invited in and made comfortable. The peddler never left the premises, so the narrator says, and that later the body was discovered in an old well which was located near a tree. This well has been filled in and the exact location is not known though it is thought that the stump where the sounds were heard last week by Hon. P. Reigle and others is the remains of a large tree that stood very near this old well.  Furthermore, the story goes on saying that one of the laborers was a witness of the deed and that his mind was effected and that he has never recovered from the shock. This man was about seven years of age at the time of the disappearance of the peddler.  From this story one can draw their own conclusions and if superstitious the reader will at once be convinced that the old peddler has just thought that it was about time to make some complaint about the ill treatment that he received some years ago.

Some have pronounced the story a fake and the dream of a deluded reporter but be that as it may, hundreds have visited the premises and returned from the scene convinced that the thing is as real as can be. It can not be denied that many of the county’s most reliable citizens have gone, listened, heard, and searched then gave it up and went home without solving the mystery. About half of the village of Rudolph have visited the Laskey farm in the last three days and the other half is going.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Two Disappearances and a Jane Doe: The Nelda Hardwick Mystery

"Biloxi Sun Herald," August 17, 2013, via Newspapers.com

In previous posts, I have covered several cases of what you might call “anomalous reappearances”; that is to say, people who disappear and then turn up--usually dead--far from where they were last seen, and with no explanation of how they got there.  The following case is yet another of these mysteries.

34-year-old Nelda Louise Hardwick lived in Lake Charles, Louisiana with her four children and her boyfriend.  On the night of October 14, 1993, she put the kids to bed and left a note for her sleeping boyfriend stating that she was going to the store, and would be back soon.

It is unclear if Hardwick ever made it to the store or not.  All that can be said is that she never returned.  The following morning, the boyfriend told the police she was missing.  It was immediately assumed that this was a case of foul play.  Hardwick was a loving, conscientious mother who would never abandon her children, and she appears to have taken very little with her.  Unfortunately, the investigation essentially stalled there.  Hardwick was gone; most likely abducted, but there were no suspects, and no clues at all as to what might have happened to her.

There things stood until May 8, 1998, when a truck driver discovered a woman’s corpse near an exit on the 1-10 Interstate Highway in Hancock, Mississippi, about 250 miles from where Nelda Hardwick had vanished.  The woman had died after being hit by a car.  This hit-and-run was solved when some teenagers came forward after hearing the story on the news.  They explained that in the middle of the night, their car had hit something in the area where the body was found.  Assuming that it was just a deer or some other wandering large animal, they didn’t stop to investigate.

The Jane Doe was probably between 37 and 42 years old.  She had no teeth, and no dentures were found near the body.  She was between 5’3”-5’5” and 135 pounds.  She had gray eyes, and her naturally brown hair had been dyed.

No name was attached to the corpse until 2013, when Jim Faulk, the coroner who had autopsied the woman, announced that he believed that she was the missing Nelda Hardwick.  Hardwick’s family, after examining photos of the corpse’s relatively undamaged face, also insisted that this was their vanished relative.  As for where Nelda (assuming this was indeed her) had been all these years, Faulk offered the grim theory that she had been held captive, and then finally escaped only to be immediately killed by a passing car.  On the other hand, Nelda Hardwick had scars below each knee, and, as far as her relatives knew, had never had an appendectomy.  The Jane Doe had no scars below her knees, and her appendix had been removed.

There was another theory about the Jane Doe.  Some believed she was really a woman named Faye Alina Self, who had vanished from Red River Parish, Louisiana in 1983.  However, in 2006, a serial killer named Robert Browne who had lived in Self’s apartment building confessed to murdering Self and dumping her body in a river.

It was resolved that the only way to conclusively establish the Jane Doe’s identity would be to exhume her for DNA testing.  However, when her grave was opened, they found instead the body of a…John Doe.  

To date, the corpse of “Jane Doe” remains as mysteriously lost as Nelda Hardwick and Faye Alina Self.

Friday, March 10, 2023

Weekend Link Dump


"The Witches' Cove," Follower of Jan Mandijn

It's time for Friday's Link Dump!

Which means it's also time for the staff at Strange Company HQ to get their weekly payment.

The corpse in the shipping crate: the notorious Colt-Adams murder.

Why American chocolate isn't very good.  A few years back, a friend who traveled through Europe brought us back some chocolates she had bought there.  I couldn't believe the difference.

Please, somebody give me lots of grant money to conduct a study proving that if you slam a hammer on your thumb, it will hurt.

A Roman altar has been unearthed at Leicester Cathedral.

Greenland's winter delicacy.

The grave of multi-talented illustrator Peter Jackson.

Scientists with way too much free time on their hands investigated why people are scared of clowns.

Nobody wants to be executed, but you really would've hated being executed by Jack Ketch.

That time Grover Cleveland and his wife were attacked with a pancake.

A guy volunteered to be buried alive for 61 days, thus proving that it takes all kinds to make a world.

A smiling mini-sphinx in Egypt.

The grave of Jimmy the Marmoset.

A ghastly battle of flowers.

A body-snatching and a message in a bottle.

An "Art Nouveau" house in Romania...which turns out not to exist.  Sorry, internet.

King Charles' coronation will be lacking the intestinal wax of sperm whales.  Darn it.

An ancient stone circle where some pretty weird things go on.

The mysterious magician who inspired Ray Bradbury.

The "clothes optional" marriages of the 18th century.

An address to Queen Victoria from a student in India.

How to make the world's finest paper airplanes.

The only six photos we have of Venus.

The woes of being an 18th century MP.

It's a Roman dildo!  No, it's a drop spinner!  (When this story first broke, I was skeptical that this wooden object was a sex toy, for reasons I hope I don't have to spell out on this family-friendly blog.  One word: "splinters.")

The cabbies shelters of Old London.

The Pacific War's biggest battle.

The diary of a 19th century female Russian art student.

The Oklahoma City bombing and the mysterious death of a policeman.

Recreating 2,500 year old booze.

The animal accomplices of medieval thieves.

A look at some wills of medieval women.

A Sumerian palace has been uncovered.

An ancient Roman soldier's paycheck.

The man who never saw a woman.

The icy agony of HMS Proserpine.

Japan has just realized it has 7,000 extra islands.  These things happen.

The Big Coin Heist.

That's it for this week!  See you on Monday, when we'll look at not one, but two disappearances.  In the meantime, here's my nominee for "best song recorded in an apartment stairwell."

Of late, I've really gotten into Mongolian throat singing.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

Mysterious "fish rains" are a dime a Fortean dozen, but tales of falling fish bones are an interesting twist.  The "Eufaula Weekly Times," July 18, 1872 (via Newspapers.com):

If the statement of some of the residents of Louisiana are to be credited, Dame Nature has recently been playing strange pranks in that part of the country. A writer to the New York Journal of Commerce, whose veracity and good standing is vouched for by the editor of that paper gives the following particulars of a strange phenomenon that occurred in Carroll parish last month: 

He says that a heavy storm visited that parish some days previous to the date of writing, the 21st, and during the storm fish bones fell to the ground by the million. These bones seemed to come from an exceedingly large black cloud that was passing at the time. The shower of bones was attended by a heavy fall of rain. 

The correspondent says the bones rattled on the roof of his house like hail stones. This strange phenomenon extended over a belt of country ten miles in width by many miles in length. Accompanying the letter was seven of the bones, varying from one inch to two inches and one sixteenth in length, from seven sixteenths of an inch to twelve and a half sixteenths of an inch in breadth, from one inch to one inch and nine-sixteenths in length, and from one and a half to three sixteenths of an inch in thickness. 

They are of an irregular diamond shape. One side of the bones is nearly flat, having on the under side, which is worn smooth, three small apertures, as if veins or tendon had passed through them. 

These specimens have been shown to experienced coast fishermen and also to learned ichthyologists, but they are not able to ascertain to what particular kind of fish the bones belonged. They all agree, however, in the opinion that they are veritable fish bones. 

Several theories have been advanced in explanation of this strange phenomenon. It is generally conceded, however, that the bones must have passed through the air for hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of miles. The inhabitants of the parish believe that they were brought by a water spout or a whirlwind from the western coast of Mexico or Lower California, across the continent, as the wind was blowing at the time violently from the southeast. We have heard of its raining cats and dogs but fishbone showers are some thing altogether unprecedented.

Monday, March 6, 2023

The Horror Near Pilot Knob: A Notably Sinister Haunting

"The Haunted House," Gustave Dore

Accounts of “haunted houses” are, of course, a dime a dozen.  However, the following story, which was originally published in the January 1897 issue of the journal “Borderland,” has enough unusual--and unusually chilling--touches to make it worth sharing.

Besides, I can never resist an evil ghost cat.

A CORRESPONDENT in California sends me the following very weird story of a haunted house in Kansas. My correspondent has copied out the MS. of a friend, who had the somewhat doubtful privilege of living in the house for a year and a-half. There are elements in the narrative which raise it far above the ordinary average of stories of haunted houses. That fearsome white cat with the woman's eyes, which so mysteriously appeared and disappeared; the unwanted bed fellows who sometimes slept on the top of the bed-clothes, and who sometimes pulled them off in order to make themselves comfortable on the floor, to say nothing of the nameless brute which seemed impervious to rifle bullet, constitute congeries of the gruesome and the grim which are not often combined in one story.


The remains of a two-storey house and a two-storey barn was all that was left of a once beautiful place. It was in a very dilapidated condition; over the door and window-spaces were nailed great thick boards. In the room I afterwards used for a dining-room, and also in the servants' quarters, I noticed a portion of the floor had been taken up and laid at one side of the rooms.


Looking in through the front hall-door, I noticed a big bundle of bedding and the largest cat I ever saw, sitting on the roll. The cat was pure white, with big brown or black eyes; they looked to me like the eyes of a human. I called F. (my husband) to see the cat and bundle, as I thought some one must be inside; we called the cat, but it did not move, only looked steadily at us. F. said the house must be used by hunters, but we could not account for the great cat. We looked at the barn and a bit around the yard, but never went out of sight of the house. Before I stepped into the buggy, I thought I would take another look at that big white cat with the human eyes; when I looked in, cat, bundle, and all had disappeared. F. did not know what to say about it. However, we took the place; carpenters, painters, &c., set to work, and when we took possession of our country place all was very nice, cosy, and comfortable. We had fine large cellars, with all conveniences that a cellar could have; a huge cistern under the kitchen, and everything convenient. Besides the gardeners and other men-servants, I had a very large, strong English maid.


I thought I would be so content and happy there, and so I would have been had not it happened as follows:We heard so many strange noises that we could not account for; the attic I used as a store-room; often I would hear what seemed to be a number of people walking about in an excited way up there. One day when I was all alone but for my two babies, I heard what seemed to be heavy iron balls rolling from one end of that attic to the other, until it shook the whole house. When I was young, and neither nervous nor imaginative, I was not cowardly--not afraid of anything; I thought only, "Why, what can that be? we have no iron balls up there!" I locked the children into a room, and went up to see what was wrong. One of the boxes that had been stored away, tightly nailed up, was open and all its contents scattered around, and that same big white cat, or one just like it, with human eyes, sat in the box with its paws on the edge, looking at me just as it did the first morning I went to the house. I called it, “Pussy, pussy!" it did not move, but looked steadily in my eyes, I thought, "That is not a cat, at least, it is not a natural cat; and whatever it is it could kill me and then kill the children!" and I went down stairs and locked the doors. When F. and the servants came home I told him. To reassure me he said it must belong to one of the neighbours; the nearest lived about a mile away. He went upstairs and found the windows fastened just as we had left them; the things were all in the box and it was nailed up fast. No iron balls there, nor anything else that could make that trundling noise, although it had continued all that day.


One night, not long after, or rather it was just before dawn, we were awakened by most unearthly screams. F. could not decide what it was, but I said, “Oh! it is Ellen!" (the English maid). He ran to her room, with his pistol, and I with the nightlamp. We thought someone was murdering her. She was standing about the centre of the room, looking like a ghost; her eyes looked as if they would burst from her head. F. asked her what was the matter; she said nothing but kept on screaming; I pushed her down into a chair; I told her to go to bed, that she had had a nightmare. She said nothing, but looked round with a wild stare, shaking all the while till her teeth chattered; she was holding her left wrist with her right hand; I tried to pull her hand loose, but could not move it. I at last got her to my room as best we could, and had her lie on the lounge the rest of the night. The next morning she told us that she would leave at once; that she would not stay in that house another night for any consideration. She said, the night before she had been lying awake for some time, looking out of the window at the flowers in my garden--it was bright moonlight--and thinking she had never seen such a lovely place, nor such flowers. She heard some sound in the room but did not speak, for she thought I had come there for her, and she would not startle me by suddenly showing she was awake. Then she felt someone touch the head of the bed and turned to see, and looked straight into the face of a woman who was bending over her. This woman took hold of her left wrist with a cold icy hand; then she "was sure it was a dead woman," and she did not know anything more until we were talking to her, but she could not speak to answer us. We could not prevail on her to stay with us, even until I could get another maid, although she had been devoted to me before that. She begged me to move into the city and leave that house, or I would regret it deeply.


The day after she left me, F. brought me a maid--an Irish girl--who had lived with me once before, for three years. Her name was Maggy. We, of course, told her nothing about Ellen's experience. She slept in the same room, and on the same bed that Ellen had used. F. and I had not mentioned what had happened, not even to any of my own family.


One night soon after, F. spoke to me, asking if I could tell what noise it was we heard. I thought it sounded like someone filing iron; he thought the same thing. He believed that someone was trying to file the stable-door bars, to get to the horses; we had some very fine horses; the gardener and the other men were all married, and they slept at home, down in the hollow where their houses were. F. said he would go and see what it was; I insisted that he should not expose himself (this was soon after the close of the Civil War, when dubious characters were prowling about, who often drew out the men from a household by some noise, and shot them on sight,) but he should stand in the porch in the shadow, and I would go, as surely no man would be so mean as to shoot or harm a defenseless woman. He finally agreed to stay there and cover me with a rifle, while I should go, for if he went and anything happened to him, I would be left the worse off. I took a pistol and went; when I was about midway between the house and barn, an animal of an immense size came around the lower part of the barn and started towards me. F. said, "A bear! run to the house, quick!" but I could not move. I stood perfectly still and could only gasp, "What is that?" It came about half-way between me and the barn; F. cried, "Shoot it! shoot it!" as he ran to me. We both fired and hit it every time; I could hear the shot strike it each time; we shot six or seven times; when the balls hit it, it sounded like a dried buffalo hide. It walked leisurely along, did not increase its gait in the least, but went down into the bushes and out of sight. F. and I agreed that it could not have been any living thing, and stand all the shots we gave it. The next morning we looked to see the tracks its feet made, but did not find the slightest impression, and it always remained an unsolved mystery to us. It was not in the least like any animal we either of us ever saw, either in collections of wild beasts or in pictures.


Maggy had been with us some time when, about the same time in the A.M. that Ellen had screamed we were aroused by screams from Maggy. F. snatched the pistol and I the lamp. When we reached her room she was standing in almost exactly the exact spot in the centre of the floor where Ellen had stood, her face white, her eyes wide open, shaking violently, her left wrist clasped in her right hand. She acted precisely the same in every respect as Ellen had done. We took her to my room and kept her on the couch. She did not speak that night. After she had done her work the next morning, she told us in almost the same words that the other girl had used, that she was awake and looking out of window, thinking about the beauty of the garden and the brightness of the moonlight, when she heard someone in the room; she thought it was I come after her, as the bells were not good, and turned to see, and looked into the same dead woman's face that was bending over her from the head of the bed; also how she took hold of her left hand with "a dead cold hand," and then she knew nothing more until we had her with us. She told us we would have to get another maid, as she would not stay in that house another night. She told me, the same as Ellen had done, "You would better move away from here, or you will be sorry some time."


Soon after this papa went out to Pike's Peak on business, to be gone some time. I invited mother to bring Mollie and Willie (my brother and sister) and come and stay with me, so neither of us would feel lonely, as father was gone also. She accepted and came. Mother insisted that she would sleep upstairs, as it would be cooler than on the ground floor. She chose a room directly over my room, and everything went nicely for some time. One morning, about the same time (hour) when the other things had happened, mother was awake with her face towards the window, when an enormous bird alighted in the window and filled it completely. She thought it was an eagle, but a very large one. Willie (the little boy brother) slept in her room near the window, and she was afraid it would jump on his bed and frighten him, but she feared it might be worse if she did anything to startle or anger it; so she lay still and watched it until daylight. All the time it sat looking into the room; it had a queerly shaped head and large brown or black eyes.


The next morning, again about the same hour, she heard steps in the room; at first she thought one of the dogs had been shut into the house unnoticed, and had strayed into her room; she called the names of the dogs, and when none came to her, she knew it was not our well-trained dogs. She turned in bed and the bedclothes pulled tight, and she could not move them. All at once the covers dropped to the floor: she put down her hand to get them, and touched a person; she was not alarmed, thinking it was Willie. She let him lie, as it was warm, but as soon as it was light enough to see she saw Willie in his bed, and on her bed-covers on the floor, was the impression of a body large enough for an adult. She did not disturb them until F. and I had seen them. She said she was not frightened, but after that she occupied a room on the ground floor until papa came back home, and they went back to their city residence, and I was again left alone, but for my two small children and the servants. F.'s business often kept him in town until late, when he would always get Hillis (my younger brother) to come out and stay with me. We had now fitted up for a guest-room the chamber the maids had occupied, and would put gentlemen in it.


Hillis slept in this room; one morning about the time that the girls had frightened us so badly, we again heard such frightful screams. We hurried to Hillis; we found him in the centre of the room, and exhibiting precisely the same peculiar appearance and actions that the others had done. We took him to another room, and the next day he told us exactly the same story they had. I asked him why he did not speak to the woman and ask her what she wanted. “Speak!” he said; he would like to see the person who would speak to the sight he saw then, staring straight down into his eyes. He urged us to move from the house.


Often during the day I would call the gardeners and ask them what was the hollow pounding we heard; they always said they had supposed it was someone pounding in the house. It sounded like pounding on a big empty box. One night whilst Hillis and I sat together, a pistol shot sounded close to the glass-door of the room; we saw the flash, too; both of us ran to the door, and thoroughly searched the house and the dooryard, but not a trace of anyone could we find. Yet hardly had we seated ourselves again, when we heard the report again, and saw the flash, both much plainer and clearer than before. We ran out again, but could find nothing.


One day I went down into the cellar, having taken a sudden notion for some apples stored there; as I was raking away the straw from about them, I put my hand on what felt to me like the body of a woman. I had gone down without a light, knowing the cellar perfectly. Of course I flew up the stairs fast, thinking some tramp woman had found a way into the cellar; as I went, I heard the straw being tossed about wildly, and even after I reached the kitchen, the girls and I all thought we could even hear the straw tossed up against the floor of the kitchen, or the ceiling of the cellar. When the men went down to investigate, they found no sign of disorder, except on top of the straw the impression of somebody about the size of a woman's person; also the straw was very warm, as if from animal heat. This puzzled them greatly, as there was no way for a woman to get into the cellar without being detected.


One day Mollie (my sister) brought a friend out to make me a visit. They two slept in a room next to mine. Soon after they retired, the friend was heard to say, "Who is that?" and then Mollie cried out in an alarmed way, "S., is that you?" When I answered that I had not been in their room, they both rushed into my room, and said they were lonesome," and would not stay in the other chamber; next morning, they said that, while they were still awake, but not thinking of feeling fear, something moving in the room caused them to open their eyes, and they both saw a woman leaning over the foot (the italics are mine; the notes go on to say that the position of the bed was such that "the woman" could not take up her usual situation at the head) of their bed, looking down in their faces. This made the fourth time this same woman had been seen by members of my family. The door of the room wherein the woman had been seen by three different persons opened into the hall, where I had seen the big white cat, the first day I visited the house; so, too, at the door of the room where I put M. and her friend to sleep. I forgot to say that in every case where the woman was seen, she wore a white cap with a frill around the front. About this time, F.'s business called him to another part of the State, and he arranged for Hillis and Draper (another brother) to stay with me until his return.


One day I took the children and went to mother's to pass the day, leaving D. at home to oversee things, and take care of the house. We had no maid or cook at this time; it had become very difficult for me to get woman servants. I returned late in the afternoon; when arriving in sight of the house, I saw D. at some distance from the house, walking up and down the road, which I thought very strange of him. I told the driver to go faster; when we reached D. he looked very pale; I asked him if he were ill, but he said he was quite well. He said no one had called to see him, when I asked if any one had come. In the course of conversation during the evening, he advised me quite urgently to move into town; our town house was let, but, he said, I should give notice to the tenants, and forfeit the rental; or else take for the time one of our other houses, in the town. He was quite insistent, but I was sure he had some good and kind reason for his advice. He was a very quiet man, never became excited, even when he was most worried. I acted on his advice, gave notice to the tenants, and had our big town house renovated and put in order for our occupancy. When F. returned, D. met him and had a long talk with him before I saw him. We removed into town almost at once. It was quite late in the afternoon when we ourselves left the house, having sent all the people and things I was taking on before. I stayed to take a last walk through my beautiful garden. When we were some distance away, we heard, it seemed to be in the house, the most terrible noise. I cannot explain (describe?) it, or compare the noise to anything I ever heard before or since. Draper looked back, and I was in the act of looking back, when he caught me and pressed my face against him, and said, "Oh! do not look back! you will be so terrified!" and unlike Lot's wife, I did not insist on looking back. And never, so long as they lived, could I induce either Draper or F. to tell me what they had seen when they looked back; for F. also turned and looked; he and D. were both as pale as death, and F. whipped the horses into a run, till we were out of sight. I afterwards learned that D. had told F. what he had seen and heard, the day he spent alone at the house, and they agreed that I must leave it.


Whilst we lived there, one of the neighbours, living about three-quarters of a mile away, told Hillis that often at night the house seemed to be burning; the interior would seem ablaze, and he could see flames leap from the doors and windows, but, on approaching the place, it would take back its ordinary look. It had this appearance of burning, seen from his house, often after we were living in it. F. tried to rent the place, advertised it in all the papers, told his friends about it, and had a great many applications; but just so soon as he located it, or took the applicants to see it, they would say, "What! not the haunted house, surely!" and some said they would not live in it for a bonus of one thousand dollars per month. We found, after we left it, that the house had for years had the reputation of being haunted, and people were very indignant at the man who had taken advantage of our ignorance to palm it off upon us. Several months after we left, the neighbour who had told of the appearance of burning notified us that the night before the house had been burned in truth. He said that, although he was an old man, he felt so relieved over its being gone, that he felt like dancing for joy. We always believed that it was destroyed purposely, on account of its bad reputation. We lived in this haunted house a year and six months, and all the time the strange noises and other queer things were going on, and we were seeing that big weird cat every few days. I was not very much afraid then, but looking back now at it I feel very badly  frightened.


So far my friend. On my own responsibility, writes my correspondent. I will add a few observations to the above. I have transcribed the story as it was sent me, except that I have left out a few repetitions of the same thing, or here and there some comment on details which have no bearing on the appearances, and which probably were introduced as a commentary, on account of my knowing so well the people and the matters. The writer was in poor health at the time of the later occurrences--it was just prior to the birth of her third child--and so her people kept from her many things that happened. I have often heard her mother tell of her own experiences. She it was, you remember, who had the experience with the bed-covers.


She told me that this pulling off of the bedding was of almost nightly occurrence; she did not complain nor leave the house, because she felt that she must accompany her daughter, and was afraid of frightening her by the story What finally drove her from the room was that every night, after hearing--and feeling--some creature moving about the room, it would approach her bed and lie down beside her outside the covers, which it held down so firmly that she could not pull them from under it. At first she thought it might be her little boy, who lay in the same room, but she could hear him breathing in his own little cot, across the room, and then the body was that of a heavy person. She saw the huge cat, time and again; it never made any demonstrations, but looked at her in a very bloodcurdling way, and would disappear in a most disconcertingly sudden fashion. I have heard five or six people, some not members of the family, but visitors to the house, speak of the immense horrible cat, and also describe the noise as of rolling or trundling cannon balls.


Another scene which I have several times heard described by participants, evidently has been forgotten by the relator. One winter night a large party of young folk drove out to this house, bent on the festivity known in America as a "surprise party." During the evening a great snowstorm arose, and on account of the inclement weather, and the badness of one bit of the road back to town, the family kept overnight as many as the house could be made to hold. Five young ladies, including the sister "Mollie" mentioned, were put to sleep on pallets, spread on the floor of the par our, which was warmed by a large heater. In the middle of the night everyone was aroused by a chorus of screams from the parlour, and the five girls were found sitting up on their pallets, holding fast to one another and terrified almost into convulsions. They told exactly the same story related above, about the strange woman. They had lain awake to talk, as girls will, and all had seen her at the same time. I will say further, that I have heard six or eight tell their experience with this woman, and all spoke of her as wearing the cap described by my correspondent, but they also said she wore a dark dress--the women called it brown--with white flowers or sprigs, of an old-fashioned pattern. They all said, too, that she wore a most malevolent, not to say devilish, expression. This family was extremely conservative, and felt that there was a certain disgrace attached to the occurrence of such things in their household; this affords a good reason for believing their story, told by each and all, that they never told of these happenings even to outside members of the family--i.e., not in the house at the time--so that each successive one who witnessed the phenomena was ignorant of what had b-fallen his predecessors. Two of the men, "F." and Draper, were sceptical, rather hardened men, who had been in the army; F. was a captain; D. held some rank which I do not remember. The women were very religious, conscientious persons, who would not lie for their lives. They were far from imaginative.