"...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 12, 2024

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

Via Newspapers.com

“Mysterious face in a window” stories are surprisingly common.  Here is a good example from the “New York Daily Herald,” August 30, 1870:

Since the fall of the Pemberton Mills the city of Lawrence has known no such excitement as that produced on Saturday, the 20th instant, by the unaccountable appearance of a female's features in a light of glass in the window of a house on Broadway.

It appears that a few days previous to the discovery of the phenomenon an elderly lady, after a long and wearing sickness, had died. The day that on which the funeral occurred a lady who was visiting one of the tenants or the same house, in passing saw a figure in the attic window, which she instantly recognized as that of the deceased lady, and with great consternation communicated the fact to the other occupants of the building, and in a short time the entire neighborhood was made acquainted with the strange and exciting discovery.  The window of the room in which the woman had died was immediately under that in the attic, and was the usual sitting place of the deceased. Some supposed that by some means her face had become impressed upon the glass; but the fact that it was not in the room occupied by her, and in a room that was usually unoccupied, displaces all belief in this idea.

During the day and evening the story of a ghost on Broadway was widely circulated throughout the city, and early the next morning, which was the Sabbath, people commenced to gather about the ill-fated and haunted house, much to the annoyance of its inmates and immediate neighbors. None professed to believe a word of the wild story, and were only convinced upon an actual view with their own eyes. A sister of the deceased, hearing of the matter, visited the place, and pronounced the likeness to be that of her relative. The only members of the family are two small children. The excitement momentarily increased, as also did the crowd in the street, and by noon it was so great as to render the passage of the horse cars quite difficult.

The inmates tried various means to remove the image from the glass, but were unsuccessful, and, with a view to sending the crowds away, removed the sash to the rear of the building; but as a means of scattering the people it was only successful in drawing them away from the front of the building to the rear, where the face was seen to a still better advantage, though it seemed to have a somewhat different appearance. It was only when the sash had been removed and secreted in the house that the crowd began to disperse and wander back to their homes, each having an idea as to the cause of the singular vision and all agreeing that "there was something in it, anyway." Early on Monday morning another crowd gathered around the house, and Dr. Wm. D. Lamb, a prominent physician, obtained permission to remove the sash to his office, on Essex street.

Here it was placed in his window opening upon the main business street in the city, and every one could get a fine view from below. The window was examined by Intelligent and scientific men, and while some were of the opinion that it might be the result of the action of lightning, when some person had been sitting near, others thought this theory one of impossibility.  Of course the many superstitious were satisfied that it was the "ghost of the dear woman, and nothing more." There is one thing about it, at least, that seems strange, and that is the fact of no face or figure, to be seen in looking out from the inside. During the day an army of photographers, after several attempts, succeeded in getting a very good likeness of the sash and the face it contained.

No one can account for this strange phenomenon, but men who are practical and possessed of a good share of common sense conclude that it must be one of those curious defects that will sometimes appear in window glass. The strangest thing in its connection is that it was not discovered until after the death of an inmate of the house. Those who believe In the "spiritual"' are making the most of the circumstance, and, doubtless, there seldom occurs such instances upon which they can surely reach the partially superstitious mind. Ghost or not, there has nothing occurred in the city of Lawrence of this nature that has produced such wonderment since the well-remembered stories of various apparitions in connection with the fall of the Pemberton Mills.

[A side note: The Pemberton Mills was a large textile factory that, thanks to substandard construction, suddenly collapsed on January 10, 1860.  Several hundred workers were trapped in the rubble, killing about half of them instantly.  Small wonder the disaster attracted its share of ghost stories.]


  1. Weird and freaky just what I like to read about because I am strange

  2. If a ghost, then a unique one in that it did nothing but present itself on the outside of a window pane, to be carried wherever the pane went. (And thanks for clearing up the Pemberton Mills 'fall'; I thought it was a mere closure, but the reality was far worse. No wonder time was reckoned from its occurrence.)


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