"...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, September 6, 2023

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

Via Newspapers.com

On January 29, 1900, the “San Francisco Examiner” published a perfect example of the sort of ghosts you’ll get when there’s a cat around:

SAN RAFAEL, January 28. After driving one prisoner to suicide and frightening confessions out of a dozen others, the ghost of the Marin County Jail has at last been discovered.

The spook was nothing more than a sedate old pussy cat prowling through the bastille late at night, looking for rats and mice. She bears no resemblance whatever to the spirit of a departed Chinese, and is still following her legitimate occupation at the jail. 

Some years ago a Chinese hanged himself in the cell where so many superstitious prisoners have since claimed to have seen his ghost. The shadowy figure, wearing chains that clinked, glided along the wall, with his queue sticking up in the air, so the terrified hobos said, and they begged to be removed from the haunted cell before they died of fear. In a corner near the haunted cell is a water tank, upon which the cat jumps in her rat-hunting rounds.

While moving around on the tank her body casts a shadow which a fevered mind might liken unto the shape of a hanged Chinese. Her swaying tail supplies the queue. When prowling behind the tank the cat bumps into some chains banging there, and thus produces the blood-chilling clank. The cat belonged to the Mongolian who killed himself, and while living in the cell with him she learned the run of the jail. She is now a free feline enjoying a good home with A. Kappenmann and using the jail only for a hunting ground whenever she can break in.

A tramp serving a term for petty larceny killed himself in the haunted jail because of the moving shadows and the rattling chains. Another prisoner pleaded guilty when he might have later gone free, and was sent to San Quentin to escape the cat. He said he would lose his mind if the ghost bothered him much longer.

Only a few nights ago Anton Jason, a sixteen-year-old boy, was found cowering in the haunted cell and howling for help.  Jason said the ghost was scaring him to death and begged the jailer to save him. Since then a watch has been kept until the ghost was caught with a dead mouse in her teeth. The prisoners are happy now and the jail officials no longer tumble out in the night to prop a tottering reason on its throne. 

This is not the first time the cat has distinguished herself. It is only a short time ago that she saved Miss Bertha Kappenmann from being burned to death by awakening her from her sleep after the young woman’s clothes caught fire from the stove by which she was seated.

Three years earlier, there was another ghost outbreak at the jail.  No word on whether or not cats were involved. 


  1. A former student of mine is a rather well-known psychic. She says when she is called in to investigate a haunting, the first thing she asks is if there are any cats in the place.

  2. It's a wise policy to check on cats first...


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