"...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, January 24, 2024

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

It never pays to turn a cemetery into a playground.  The permanent residents don’t like it.  As an example, I present this story from the “Shreveport Journal,” August 29, 1897:

MADRAS India, July 10 — The best ghost story that has come to light in years has just reached here from Ooty, a small town in the presidency of Madras, and it is of such a character that it has been deemed worthy of discussion by some members of the London Society of Psychical Research. 

The authenticity of the happenings are vouched for by numerous persons who actually observed them, and to clinch the matter two of the spectators have made their statements in the form of affidavits. These latter are Dr. James L Kelly, the surgeon in charge of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, Madras, and Capt. W. H. Burchell, a retired sea captain living in the town of Ootacamund. 

The victim of the ghost was a native young lady, the daughter of a wealthy merchant. According to her native friends she was possessed with devils, but some English people attributed the strange happenings about her to the ghostly supernatural. 

It seems that with a friend who was about to be married the young lady paid a casual visit one evening to the Roman Catholic cemetery in Ooty. Three days previous to their visiting the graveyard a man had committed suicide and was buried there. Being light-hearted and not over-scrupulous the young people made the graveyard their playground for that evening and both of them carried their mischievous temperament so far as to dance and jump over the grave of the man who had committed suicide, and brought matters to a climax by even digging out the cross that was imbedded in the grave. 

When they returned home they fell ill. They were restless, looked at every one with fiery eyes, and became so uncontrollable that they had to be safeguarded within the precincts of a room. They would tear their clothes, and if women crossed their way in the house or held them they would be sent reeling to the ground, but if men constrained them from doing anything hurtful or injurious they would partially yield to their threats. 

A native woman who held some reputation as a devil-driver was called in and prepared a dish of cut fowl, flowers, and limes, which they consumed, and having faith in the treatment seemingly recovered. The elder of the two was married shortly after and went away to live with her husband.

Several days after this event there were curious happenings in the home of the unmarried girl, and this is where the ghostly doings come in. From 6 to 12 at night, showers of stones seemed to drop out of the sky into the house, smashing many panes of glass and breaking articles of furniture, but injuring none of the inmates. 

A police station is located near the house, and the matter was reported there as it was first presumed to the work of mischievous persons. A dozen constables and a number of unofficial watchers were accordingly detailed to surround the house and detect if possible the throwers of the stones.

This precaution had no effect whatever. Each night the stones crushed against the windows, splintering them to tiny pieces. The girl who was supposed to be possessed of devils seemed in her normal health except for the natural nervousness of living in a house subject to such queer attacks. But it was noticed that in whatever room she happened to be, the windows of that apartment suffered more than any of the others. What increased the mystery was that on the third night great panes of glass were splintered without being struck by stones. This happened several times and in portions of the house which could not be reached by stones thrown from the outside. 

Later on this same night, when the stones began to fly again, a large piece of granite after passing through a pane of glass fell at the girl’s feet while she was on her way to her bedroom. This seemed to unnerve her and while lying on her cot she fell into a deep swoon. The chief constable who was summoned found her breathless, speechless, and stiff. A physician who was also called succeeded in restoring her after much trouble but she fell into another faint soon after. She was again restored but fainted again and this happened several times during the night. 

It was noticed that while she was in a swoon not a glass was broken in the house, but that as soon as she was restored the smashing began again. 

The next morning she seemed to have recovered and was sitting in a chair conversing with several visitors when she again swooned. Then she became very restless and five men could barely hold her in the chair. Once she succeeded in throwing all five to the floor, but she was seized again and carried to her room where she was placed in her cot and held down. A couple of minutes later a broad pane of glass in the room door fell to the ground and was smashed to atoms. This glass was not facing the street or compound but was the centre glass of the room and the latter was the centre room of the house. 

The constables who were again called in decided to try the superstitious cure of the country and sent for a Malayali devil-driver. It was some time before he could be found, and in the meantime the girl kept crying out that she wanted to go to the graveyard. Finally the Malayali devil-driver came into the room, and as soon as he approached her cot the young lady who all the while had had her eyes closed opened them and made an attempt to pounce upon him. The Malayali spoke to her in a loud and angry tone in Malayalam and while he was speaking the girl had her eyes fixed on him. The Malayali, named Kunjini Gandhu, at once began writing something on a long slip of paper and then prepared with ghee, pepper, etc. a kind of cigarette. He first rolled the long slip of paper and placed it in her hair. She stretched out her hand to take it away, but the man quickly knotted it with her hair. The young lady then commenced to spit on him.  When the Malayali, with a malacca cane which he claimed had power, pointed it to her, and boldly going before her asked her in Malayalam to spit on him. She did not attempt this again. 

Via Newspapers.com

After igniting the tip of the cigarette affair, the devil-driver gave it to her brother and told him to hold it under her nostrils so that she would inhale the smoke. Then he left and the girl became calm, probably from the effects of the narcotics used by the Malayali in making the mysterious cigarette.

At intervals after that, the glass breaking occurred and the girl became violent but the smoke of the cigarette invariably calmed her. Finally her father decided to move her to Goodalun, thirty miles from Ooty. After her departure the stone throwing and window smashing in the house ceased and nothing of the kind has happened in her new home in Goodalun. There is no doubt a psychological explanation of these queer occurrences but it is a mooted question whether the scientists can locate it.  R. CHEEVER HAMILTON.


  1. As I've said many times, "Don't dance on the grave on a suicide." I wonder if the angry spirit followed the one who moved away with her new husband.


Comments are moderated. Because no one gets to be rude and obnoxious around here except the author of this blog.