“MY COUCH IS POSSESSED BY THE DEVIL” and More True Paranormal Stories! #WeirdDarkness
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Listen to ““MY COUCH IS POSSESSED BY THE DEVIL” and More True Paranormal Stories! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.
IN THIS EPISODE: If you are convinced that someone you know is possessed, never try to exorcise the demon on your own – always call an expert. One woman didn’t do that. (My Couch Is Possessed By The Devil) *** When the unsinkable ship, the Titanic hit an iceberg and sent 1,500 people to an icy grave, why did many people blame it on the curse of a mummy – a mummy that wasn’t even onboard the ship, but was sitting in a British museum? (Did a Mummy’s Curse Sink the Titanic) **** An investigation of San Francisco’s famed White Lady of Stow Lake revealed some interesting findings about the City By The Bay’s most infamous phantom resident. (The Real Story Behind San Francisco’s Most Famous Ghost) *** Two hundred years after the Salem witch trials, farmers became convinced that their relatives were returning from the grave to feed on the living. We’ll look at the great New England panic around blood-sucking creatures of the night. (The Great Vampire Panic)
TRANSCRIPT FOR THIS EPISODE…
(Scroll to bottom of blog post):
LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THE EPISODE…
BOOK: “Food for the Dead: On the Trail of New England’s Vampires” by Michael Bell: https://amzn.to/2zORTSy
BOOK: “Vampires, Burials and Death” by Paul Barber”: https://amzn.to/36ctToA
BOOK: “The New England Vampire Belief: Image of the Decline” by Faye Ringel: https://tinyurl.com/yap5h2kh
STORY AND MUSIC CREDITS/SOURCES…
(Note: Over time links can and may become invalid, disappear, or have different content.)
“My Couch Is Possessed by The Devil” by Paul Seaburn for Mysterious Universe: https://tinyurl.com/ycbl95w6
“Did a Mummy’s Curse Sink The Titanic?” by Jacob Shelton for Ranker: https://tinyurl.com/ybzdckrr
“The Real Story Behind San Francisco’s Most Famous Ghost” by Katie Dowd for SF Gate: https://tinyurl.com/ydyxvnq2
“The Great Vampire Panic” by Abigail Tucker for Smithsonian Magazine: https://tinyurl.com/ycy29ucu
Weird Darkness opening and closing theme by Alibi Music Library. Background music, varying by episode, provided by Alibi Music, EpidemicSound and/or AudioBlocks with paid license; Shadows Symphony (http://bit.ly/2W6N1xJ), Midnight Syndicate (http://amzn.to/2BYCoXZ), and/or Nicolas Gasparini/Myuu (https://www.youtube.com/user/myuuji) used with permission.
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I always make sure to give authors credit for the material I use. If I somehow overlooked doing that for a story, or if a credit is incorrect, please let me know and I’ll rectify it the show notes as quickly as possible.
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Children playing near a hillside gravel mine found the first graves. One ran home to tell his mother, who was skeptical at first—until the boy produced a skull.
Because this was Griswold, Connecticut, in 1990, police initially thought the burials might be the work of a local serial killer named Michael Ross, and they taped off the area as a crime scene. But the brown, decaying bones turned out to be more than a century old. The Connecticut state archaeologist, Nick Bellantoni, soon determined that the hillside contained a colonial-era farm cemetery. New England is full of such unmarked family plots, and the 29 burials were typical of the 1700s and early 1800s: The dead, many of them children, were laid to rest in thrifty Yankee style, in simple wood coffins, without jewelry or even much clothing, their arms resting by their sides or crossed over their chests.
Except, that is, for Burial Number 4.
Bellantoni was interested in the grave even before the excavation began. It was one of only two stone crypts in the cemetery, and it was partially visible from the mine face.
Scraping away soil with flat-edged shovels, and then brushes and bamboo picks, the archaeologist and his team worked through several feet of earth before reaching the top of the crypt. When Bellantoni lifted the first of the large, flat rocks that formed the roof, he uncovered the remains of a red-painted coffin and a pair of skeletal feet. They lay, he remembers, “in perfect anatomical position.” But when he raised the next stone, Bellantoni saw that the rest of the individual “had been completely…rearranged.” The skeleton had been beheaded; skull and thighbones rested atop the ribs and vertebrae. “It looked like a skull-and-crossbones motif, a Jolly Roger. I’d never seen anything like it,” Bellantoni recalls.
Subsequent analysis showed that the beheading, along with other injuries, including rib fractures, occurred roughly five years after death. Somebody had also smashed the coffin.
The other skeletons in the gravel hillside were packaged for reburial, but not “J.B.,” as the 50ish male skeleton from the 1830s came to be called, because of the initials spelled out in brass tacks on his coffin lid. He was shipped to the National Museum of Health and Medicine, in Washington, D.C., for further study. Meanwhile, Bellantoni started networking. He invited archaeologists and historians to tour the excavation, soliciting theories. Simple vandalism seemed unlikely, as did robbery, because of the lack of valuables at the site.
Finally, one colleague asked: “Ever heard of the Jewett City vampires?”
…I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.
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Welcome, Weirdos – this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.
While you’re listening, you might want to check out the Weird Darkness website. At WeirdDarkness.com you can find transcripts of the episodes, paranormal and horror audiobooks I’ve narrated, the Weird Darkness store, streaming video of Horror Hosts and old horror movies, plus you can visit the “Hope In The Darkness” page if you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or thoughts of suicide. And if you are an artist and find inspiration through the podcast in any art form, you can submit your work to the Weirdos Art Gallery. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
Coming up in this episode of Weird Darkness…
If you are convinced that someone you know is possessed, never try to exorcise the demon on your own – always call an expert. One woman didn’t do that.
When the unsinkable ship, the Titanic hit an iceberg and sent 1,500 people to an icy grave, why did many people blame it on the curse of a mummy – a mummy that wasn’t even onboard the ship, but was sitting in a British museum?
An investigation of San Francisco’s famed White Lady of Stow Lake revealed some interesting findings about the City By The Bay’s most infamous phantom resident.
Two hundred years after the Salem witch trials, farmers became convinced that their relatives were returning from the grave to feed on the living. We’ll look at the great New England panic around blood-sucking creatures of the night.
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
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We were really hoping things would be somewhat back to normal this month, but we’re all still social distancing and self-quarantining, so I’m going to extend the fundraiser through the rest of this month. Last month all profits from the Weird Darkness store went to the International Foundation for the Research and Education of Depression – because this COVID-19 pandemic has caused depression to skyrocket both in new cases as well as in those who were already diagnosed but struggling more now being cooped up inside – myself included. So through the rest of this month we’re continuing the fundraiser. If you purchase something from the Weird Darkness store this month, May 2020, whatever portion usually comes to me will be going to the International Foundation for Research and Education of Depression. You can check out the merchandise now by clicking on STORE at WeirdDarkness.com.
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In 1854, in Jewett City, Connecticut, townspeople had exhumed several corpses suspected to be vampires that were rising from their graves to kill the living. A few newspaper accounts of these events survived. Had the Griswold grave been desecrated for the same reason?
In the course of his far-flung research, Bellantoni placed a serendipitous phone call to Michael Bell, a Rhode Island folklorist, who had devoted much of the previous decade to studying New England vampire exhumations. The Griswold case occurred at roughly the same time as the other incidents Bell had investigated. And the setting was right: Griswold was rural, agrarian and bordering southern Rhode Island, where multiple exhumations had occurred. Many of the other “vampires,” like J.B., had been disinterred, grotesquely tampered with and reburied.
In light of the tales Bell told of violated corpses, even the posthumous rib fractures began to make sense. J.B.’s accusers had likely rummaged around in his chest cavity, hoping to remove, and perhaps to burn, his heart.
Headquartered in a charming old schoolhouse, the Middletown Historical Society typically promotes such fortifying topics as Rhode Island gristmill restoration and Stone Wall Appreciation Day. Two nights before Halloween, though, the atmosphere is full of dry ice vapors and high silliness. Fake cobwebs cover the exhibits, warty gourds crowd the shelves and a skeleton with keen red eyes cackles in the corner. “We’ll turn him off when you start talking,” the society’s president assures Michael Bell, who is readying his slide show.
Bell smiles. Although he lectures across the country and has taught at colleges, including Brown University, he is used to people having fun with his scholarship. “Vampires have gone from a source of fear to a source of entertainment,” he says, a bit rueful. “Maybe I shouldn’t trivialize entertainment, but to me it’s not anywhere as interesting as what really happened.” Bell’s daughter, 37-year-old Gillian, a member of the audience that night, has made futile attempts to tempt her father with the Twilight series, but “there’s Buffy and Twilight, and then there’s what my dad does,” she says. “I try to get him interested in the pop culture stuff, but he wants to keep his mind pure.” Indeed, Bell seems only mildly aware that the vampire—appearing everywhere from True Blood to The Vampire Diaries— has once again sunk its fangs into the cultural jugular. As far as he’s concerned, the undead are always with us.
Bell wears his hair in a sleek silver bob and has a strong Roman nose, but his extremely lean physique is evidence of a long-distance running habit, not some otherworldly hunger. He favors black sweaters and leather jackets, an ensemble he can easily accentuate with dark sunglasses to fit in with the goth crowd, if research requires it. A consulting folklorist at the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission for most of his career, Bell has been investigating local vampires for 30 years now—long enough to watch lettering on fragile slate gravestones fade before his eyes and prosperous subdivisions arise beside once-lonely graveyards.
He has documented about 80 exhumations, reaching as far back as the late 1700s and as far west as Minnesota. But most are concentrated in backwoods New England, in the 1800s—startlingly later than the obvious local analogue, the Salem, Massachusetts, witch hunts of the 1690s.
Hundreds more cases await discovery, he believes. “You read an article that describes an exhumation, and they’ll describe a similar thing that happened at a nearby town,” says Bell, whose book, Food for the Dead: On the Trail of New England’s Vampires, (which I’ve placed a link to in the show notes) is seen as the last word on the subject, though he has lately found so many new cases that there’s a second book on the way. “The ones that get recorded, and I actually find them, are just the tip of the iceberg.”
Almost two decades after J.B.’s grave was discovered, it remains the only intact archaeological clue to the fear that swept the region. Most of the graves are lost to time (and even in the cases where they aren’t, unnecessary exhumations are frowned on by the locals). Bell mostly hunts for handwritten records in town hall basements, consults tombstones and old cemetery maps, traces obscure genealogies and interviews descendants. “As a folklorist, I’m interested in recurring patterns in communication and ritual, as well as the stories that accompany these rituals,” he says. “I’m interested in how this stuff is learned and carried on and how its meaning changes from group to group, and over time.” In part because the events were relatively recent, evidence of historic vampires isn’t as scarce as one might imagine. Incredulous city newspaper reporters dished about the “Horrible Superstition” on front pages. A traveling minister describes an exhumation in his daily log on September 3, 1810. (The “mouldy Specticle,” he writes, was a “Solemn Site.”) Even Henry David Thoreau mentions an exhumation in his journal on September 29, 1859.
Though scholars today still struggle to explain the vampire panics, a key detail unites them: The public hysteria almost invariably occurred in the midst of savage tuberculosis outbreaks. Indeed, the medical museum’s tests ultimately revealed that J.B. had suffered from tuberculosis, or a lung disease very like it. Typically, a rural family contracted the wasting illness, and—even though they often received the standard medical diagnosis—the survivors blamed early victims as “vampires,” responsible for preying upon family members who subsequently fell sick. Often an exhumation was called for, to stop the vampire’s predations.
The particulars of the vampire exhumations, though, vary widely. In many cases, only family and neighbors participated. But sometimes town fathers voted on the matter, or medical doctors and clergymen gave their blessings or even pitched in. Some communities in Maine and Plymouth, Massachusetts, opted to simply flip the exhumed vampire facedown in the grave and leave it at that. In Connecticut, Rhode Island and Vermont, though, they frequently burned the dead person’s heart, sometimes inhaling the smoke as a cure. (In Europe, too, exhumation protocol varied with region: Some beheaded suspected vampire corpses, while others bound their feet with thorns.)
Often these rituals were clandestine, lantern-lit affairs. But, particularly in Vermont, they could be quite public, even festive. One vampire heart was reportedly torched on the Woodstock, Vermont, town green in 1830. In Manchester, hundreds of people flocked to a 1793 heart-burning ceremony at a blacksmith’s forge: “Timothy Mead officiated at the altar in the sacrifice to the Demon Vampire who it was believed was still sucking the blood of the then living wife of Captain Burton,” an early town history says. “It was the month of February and good sleighing.”
Bell attributes the openness of the Vermont exhumations to colonial settlement patterns. Rhode Island has about 260 cemeteries per 100 square miles, versus Vermont’s mere 20 per 100 square miles. Rhode Island’s cemeteries were small and scattered among private farms, whereas Vermont’s tended to be much larger, often located in the center of town. In Vermont, it was much harder to keep a vampire hunt hush-hush.
As satisfying as such mini-theories are, Bell is consumed by larger questions. He wants to understand who the vampires and their accusers were, in death and life. During his Middletown lecture, he displays a picture of a man with salt-and-pepper sideburns and weary eyes: an artist’s reconstruction of J.B.’s face, based on his skull. “I start with the assumption that people of past generations were just as intelligent as we are,” Bell says. “I look for the logic: Why would they do this? Once you label something ‘just a superstition’ you lock off all inquiry into something that could have been reasonable. Reasonable is not always rational.” He wrote his doctoral dissertation on African-American voodoo practitioners in the South who cast love spells and curses; it’s hard to imagine a population more different from the flinty, consumptive New Englanders he studies now, but Bell sees strong parallels in how they tried to manipulate the supernatural. “People find themselves in dire situations, where there’s no recourse through regular channels,” he explains. “The folk system offers an alternative, a choice.” Sometimes, superstitions represent the only hope, he says.
The enduring sadness of the vampire stories lies in the fact that the accusers were usually direct kin of the deceased: parents, spouses and their children. “Think about what it would have taken to actually exhume the body of a relative,” Bell says.
The tale he always returns to is in many ways the quintessential American vampire story, one of the last cases in New England and the first he investigated as a new PhD coming to Rhode Island in 1981 to direct a folklife survey of Washington County funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. History knows the 19-year-old, late-19th-century vampire as Mercy Brown. Her family, though, called her Lena.
Mercy Lena Brown lived in Exeter, Rhode Island—“Deserted Exeter,” it was dubbed, or simply “one of the border towns.” It was largely a subsistence farming community with barely fertile soil: “rocks, rocks and more rocks,” says Sheila Reynolds-Boothroyd, president of the Exeter Historical Association. Farmers heaped stones into tumbledown walls, and rows of corn swerved around the biggest boulders.
In the late 19th century, Exeter, like much of agrarian New England, was even more sparsely populated than usual. Civil War casualties had taken their toll on the community, and the new railroads and the promise of richer land to the west lured young men away. By 1892, the year Lena died, Exeter’s population had dipped to just 961, from a high of more than 2,500 in 1820. Farms were abandoned, many of them later to be seized and burned by the government. “Some sections looked like a ghost town,” Reynolds-Boothroyd says.
And tuberculosis was harrying the remaining families. “Consumption,” as it was called, had started to plague New England in the 1730s, a few decades before the first known vampire scares. By the 1800s, when the scares were at their height, the disease was the leading cause of mortality throughout the Northeast, responsible for almost a quarter of all deaths. It was a terrible end, often drawn out over years: a skyrocketing fever, a hacking, bloody cough and a visible wasting away of the body. “The emaciated figure strikes one with terror,” reads one 18th-century description, “the forehead covered with drops of sweat; the cheeks painted with a livid crimson, the eyes sunk…the breath offensive, quick and laborious, and the cough so incessant as to scarce allow the wretched sufferer time to tell his complaints.” Indeed, Bell says, symptoms “progressed in such a way that it seemed like something was draining the life and blood out of somebody.”
People dreaded the disease without understanding it. Though Robert Koch had identified the tuberculosis bacterium in 1882, news of the discovery did not penetrate rural areas for some time, and even if it had, drug treatments wouldn’t become available until the 1940s. The year Lena died, one physician blamed tuberculosis on “drunkenness, and want among the poor.” Nineteenth-century cures included drinking brown sugar dissolved in water and frequent horseback riding. “If they were being honest,” Bell says, “the medical establishment would have said, ‘There’s nothing we can do, and it’s in the hands of God.’”
The Brown family, living on the eastern edge of town, probably on a modest homestead of 30 or 40 stony acres, began to succumb to the disease in December 1882. Lena’s mother, Mary Eliza, was the first. Lena’s sister, Mary Olive, a 20-year-old dressmaker, died the next year. A tender obituary from a local newspaper hints at what she endured: “The last few hours she lived was of great suffering, yet her faith was firm and she was ready for the change.” The whole town turned out for her funeral, and sang “One Sweetly Solemn Thought,” a hymn that Mary Olive herself had selected.
Within a few years, Lena’s brother Edwin—a store clerk whom one newspaper columnist described as “a big, husky young man”—sickened too, and left for Colorado Springs hoping that the climate would improve his health.
Lena, who was just a child when her mother and sister died, didn’t fall ill until nearly a decade after they were buried. Her tuberculosis was the “galloping” kind, which meant that she might have been infected but remained asymptomatic for years, only to fade fast after showing the first signs of the disease. A doctor attended her in “her last illness,” a newspaper said, and “informed her father that further medical aid was useless.” Her January 1892 obituary was much terser than her sister’s: “Miss Lena Brown, who has been suffering from consumption, died Sunday morning.”
As Lena was on her deathbed, her brother was, after a brief remission, taking a turn for the worse. Edwin had returned to Exeter from the Colorado resorts “in a dying condition,” according to one account. “If the good wishes and prayers of his many friends could be realized, friend Eddie would speedily be restored to perfect health,” another newspaper wrote.
But some neighbors, likely fearful for their own health, weren’t content with prayers. Several approached George Brown, the children’s father, and offered an alternative take on the recent tragedies: Perhaps an unseen diabolical force was preying on his family. It could be that one of the three Brown women wasn’t dead after all, instead secretly feasting “on the living tissue and blood of Edwin,” as the Providence Journal later summarized. If the offending corpse—the Journal uses the term “vampire” in some stories but the locals seemed not to—was discovered and destroyed, then Edwin would recover. The neighbors asked to exhume the bodies, in order to check for fresh blood in their hearts.
George Brown gave permission. On the morning of March 17, 1892, a party of men dug up the bodies, as the family doctor and a Journal correspondent looked on. George was absent, for unstated but understandable reasons.
After nearly a decade, Lena’s sister and mother were barely more than bones. Lena, though, had been dead only a few months, and it was wintertime. “The body was in a fairly well-preserved state,” the correspondent later wrote. “The heart and liver were removed, and in cutting open the heart, clotted and decomposed blood was found.” During this impromptu autopsy, the doctor again emphasized that Lena’s lungs “showed diffuse tuberculous germs.”
Undeterred, the villagers burned her heart and liver on a nearby rock, feeding Edwin the ashes. He died less than two months later.
So-called vampires do escape the grave in at least one real sense: through stories. Lena Brown’s surviving relatives saved local newspaper clippings in family scrapbooks, alongside carefully copied recipes. They discussed the events on Decoration Day, when Exeter residents adorned the town’s cemeteries.
But the tale traveled much farther than they knew.
Even at the time, New England’s vampire panics struck onlookers as a baffling anachronism. The late 1800s were a period of social progress and scientific flowering. Indeed, many of the Rhode Island exhumations occurred within 20 miles of Newport, high society’s summer nucleus, where the scions of the industrial revolution vacationed. At first, only people who’d lived in or had visited the vampire-ridden communities knew about the scandal: “We seem to have been transported back to the darkest age of unreasoning ignorance and blind superstition, instead of living in the 19th century, and in a State calling itself enlightened and christian,” one writer at a small-town Connecticut paper opined in the wake of an 1854 exhumation.
But Lena Brown’s exhumation made news. First, a reporter from the Providence Journal witnessed her unearthing. Then a well-known anthropologist named George Stetson traveled to Rhode Island to probe “the barbaric superstition” in the surrounding area.
Published in the venerable American Anthropologist journal, Stetson’s account of New England’s vampires made waves throughout the world. Before long, even members of the foreign press were offering various explanations for the phenomenon: Perhaps the “neurotic” modern novel was driving the New England madness, or maybe shrewd local farmers had simply been pulling Stetson’s leg. A writer for the London Post declared that whatever forces drove the “Yankee vampire,” it was an American problem and most certainly not the product of a British folk tradition (even though many families in the area could trace their lineage directly back to England). In the Boston Daily Globe, a writer went so far as to suggest that “perhaps the frequent intermarriage of families in these back country districts may partially account for some of their characteristics.”
One 1896 New York World clipping even found its way into the papers of a London stage manager and aspiring novelist named Bram Stoker, whose theater company was touring the United States that same year. His gothic masterpiece, Dracula, was published in 1897. Some scholars have said that there wasn’t enough time for the news accounts to have influenced the Dracula manuscript. Yet others see Lena in the character of Lucy (her very name a tempting amalgam of “Lena” and “Mercy”), a consumptive-seeming teenage girl turned vampire, who is exhumed in one of the novel’s most memorable scenes. Fascinatingly, a medical doctor presides over Lucy’s disinterment, just as one oversaw Lena’s.
Whether or not Lucy’s roots are in Rhode Island, Lena’s historic exhumation is referenced in H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Shunned House,” a short story about a man being haunted by dead relatives that includes a living character named Mercy.
And, through fiction and fact, Lena’s narrative continues today.
Part of Bell’s research involves going along on “legend trips,” the modern graveside pilgrimages made by those who believe, or want to believe, that the undead stalk Rhode Island. On legend trips, Bell is largely an academic presence. He can even be a bit of a killjoy, declaring that the main reason that “no grass grows on a vampire’s grave” is that vampire graves have so many visitors, who crush all the vegetation.
Two days before Halloween, Bell heads through forests of swamp maple and swamp oak to Exeter. For almost a century after Lena died, the town, still sparsely settled, remained remarkably unchanged. Electric lights weren’t installed in the western part of Exeter until the 1940s, and the town had two pound keepers, charged with safekeeping stray cattle and pigs, until 1957. In the 1970s, when I-95 was built, Exeter evolved into an affluent bedroom community of Providence. But visitors still occasionally turn a corner to discover the past: a dirt road cluttered with wild turkeys, or deer hopping over stone fences. Some elderly locals square-dance in barns on the weekends, and streets keep their old names: Sodom Trail, Nooseneck Hill. The white wooden Chestnut Hill Baptist Church in front of Lena’s cemetery, built in 1838, has its original blown-glass windows.
An early Nor’easter is brewing as we pull into the church parking lot. The heavy rain will soon turn to snow, and there’s a bullying wind. Our umbrellas bloom inside out, like black flowers. Though it’s a somber place, there’s no immediate clue that an accused vampire was buried here. (Except, perhaps, for an unfortunately timed Red Cross blood drive sign in front of the farmer’s grange next door.) Unlike Salem, Exeter doesn’t promote its dark claim to fame, and remains in some respects an insular community. Old-timers don’t like the hooded figures who turn up this time of year, or the cars idling with the lights off. They say the legend should be left alone, perhaps with good reason: Last summer a couple of teenagers were killed on a pilgrimage to Lena’s grave when they lost control of their car on Purgatory Road.
Most vampire graves stand apart, in wooded spots outside modern cemetery fences, where snow melts slower and there’s a thick understory of ferns. But the Chestnut Hill Cemetery is still in use. And here is Lena. She lies beside the brother who ate her heart, and the father who let it happen. Other markers are freckled with lichen, but not hers. The stone looks to have been recently cleaned. It has been stolen over the years, and now an iron strap anchors it to the earth. People have scratched their names into the granite. They leave offerings: plastic vampire teeth, cough drops. “Once there was a note that said, ‘You go, girl,’” Bell says. Today, there’s a bunch of trampled daisies, and dangling from the headstone’s iron collar, a butterfly charm on a chain.
How did 19th-century Yankees, remembered as the most pious and practical of peoples, come to believe in vampires—especially when the last known vampire panics at the time hadn’t occurred since 18th-century Europe? Some modern scholars have linked the legend to vampiric symptoms of diseases like rabies and porphyria (a rare genetic disorder that can cause extreme sensitivity to sunlight and turn teeth reddish-brown). Exeter residents at the time claimed that the exhumations were “a tradition of the Indians.”
The legend originated in Slavic Europe, where the word “vampire” first appeared in the tenth century. Bell believes that Slavic and Germanic immigrants brought the vampire superstitions with them in the 1700s, perhaps when Palatine Germans colonized Pennsylvania, or Hessian mercenaries served in the Revolutionary War. “My sense is that it came more than one time through more than one source,” he says.
The first known reference to an American vampire scare is a scolding letter to the editor of the Connecticut Courant and Weekly Intelligencer, published in June 1784. Councilman Moses Holmes, from the town of Willington, warned people to beware of “a certain Quack Doctor, a foreigner” who had urged families to dig up and burn dead relatives to stop consumption. Holmes had witnessed several children disinterred at the doctor’s request and wanted no more of it: “And that the bodies of the dead may rest quiet in their graves without such interruption, I think the public ought to be aware of being led away by such an imposture.”
But some modern scholars have argued that the vampire superstition made a certain degree of practical sense. In Vampires, Burials and Death, (which I’ve linked to in the show notes and transcript) folklorist Paul Barber dissects the logic behind vampire myths, which he believes originally arose from unschooled but astute observations of decay. (Bloated dead bodies appear as if they have recently eaten; a staked corpse “screams” due to the escape of natural gases, etc.) The seemingly bizarre vampire beliefs, Barber argues, get at the essence of contagion: the insight that illness begets illness, and death, death.
Vampire believers “say that death comes to us from invisible agents,” Barber says. “We say that death comes to us from invisible agents. The difference is that we can get out a microscope and look at the agents.”
While New England’s farmers may have been guided by something like reason, the spiritual climate of the day was also hospitable to vampire rumors. Contrary to their Puritanical reputation, rural New Englanders in the 1800s were a fairly heathen lot. Only about 10 percent belonged to a church. Rhode Island, originally founded as a haven for religious dissenters, was particularly lax: Christian missionaries were at various points dispatched there from more godly communities. “The missionaries come back and lament that there’s no Bible in the home, no church-going whatsoever,” says Linford Fisher, a Brown University colonial historian. “You have people out there essentially in cultural isolation.” Mary Olive, Lena’s sister, joined a church just two weeks before she died, her obituary said.
In place of organized worship, superstitions reigned: magical springs with healing powers, dead bodies that bled in the presence of their murderers. People buried shoes by fireplaces, to catch the Devil if he tried to come down the chimney. They nailed horseshoes above doors to ward off evil and carved daisy wheels, a kind of colonial hex sign, into the door frames.
If superstition likely fanned the vampire panics, perhaps the most powerful forces at play were communal and social. By 1893, there were just 17 people per square mile in Exeter. A fifth of the farms were fully abandoned, the fields turning slowly back into forest. In her monograph The New England Vampire Belief: Image of the Decline, which I’ve linked to in the show notes, gothic literature scholar Faye Ringel hints at a vampire metaphor behind the westward hemorrhage: The migration “seemed to drain rural New England of its most enterprising young citizens, leaving the old and unfit behind.”
As Exeter teetered near collapse, maintaining social ties must have taken on new importance. An exhumation represented, first and foremost, a duty to one’s own kin, dead or dying: the ritual “would alleviate the guilt someone might feel for not doing everything they could do to save a family, to leave no stone unturned,” Bell says.
Even more significant, in small communities where disease could spread quickly, an exhumation was “an outward display that you are doing everything you can to fix the problem.” Residents of the already beleaguered town were likely terrified. “They knew that if consumption wiped out the Brown family, it could take out the next family,” Bell says. “George Brown was being entreated by the community.” He had to make a gesture.
The strongest testament to the power of the vampire myth is that George Brown did not, in fact, believe in it, according to the Providence Journal. It was he who asked a doctor to perform an autopsy at the graveyard, and he who elected to be elsewhere during the ritual. He authorized his loved ones’ exhumation, the Journal says, simply to “satisfy the neighbors,” who were, according to another newspaper account, “worrying the life out of him”—a description with its own vampiric overtones.
Perhaps it was wise to let them have their way, since George Brown, apparently not prone to tuberculosis, had to coexist with his neighbors well into the next century. He died in 1922.
Relatives of the Browns still live in Exeter and are laid to rest on Chestnut Hill. Some, planning ahead, have erected their grave markers. It can be disconcerting to drive past somebody’s tombstone on the way to his or her home for a vampire-oriented interview.
On a sunny Halloween morning, when Bell has left for a vampire folklore conference at the University of London, I return to the cemetery to meet several Brown descendants at the farmer’s grange. They bring, swaddled in old sheets, a family treasure: a quilt that Lena sewed.
We spread it out on a scarred wooden table. The cotton bedspread is pink, blue and cream. What look from a distance like large patches of plain brown fabric are really fields of tiny daisies.
It’s the work of a farm girl, without any wasteful appliqué; Lena clearly ran out of material in places and had to scrimp for more. Textile scholars at the University of Rhode Island have traced her snippets of florals, plaid and paisley to the 1870s and 1880s, when Lena was still a child; they wondered if she used her sister’s and mother’s old dresses for the project. Perhaps her mother’s death, too, explains Lena’s quilting abilities, which are considerable for a teenager: She might have had to learn household skills before other girls. The quilt is in immaculate condition and was likely being saved for something—Lena’s hope chest, thinks her distant descendant Dorothy O’Neil, one of the quilt’s recent custodians, and a knowledgeable quilter herself.
“I think the quilt is exquisite, especially in light of what she went through in her life,” O’Neil says. “She ended up leaving something beautiful. She didn’t know she’d have to leave it, but she did.”
Lena hasn’t left entirely. She is said to frequent a certain bridge, manifested as the smell of roses. She appears in children’s books and paranormal television specials. She murmurs in the cemetery, say those who leave tape recorders there to capture her voice. She is rumored to visit the terminally ill, and to tell them that dying isn’t so bad.
The quilt pattern that Lena used, very rare in Rhode Island, is sometimes called the Wandering Foot, and it carried a superstition of its own: Anybody who slept under it, the legend said, would be lost to her family, doomed to wander.
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Always call a trained exorcist if you feel you need an exorcism done. One woman didn’t, and I’ll tell you what happened.
And why do so many people blame the sinking of the Titanic on the curse of a mummy?
These stories and more when Weird Darkness returns.
If you’ve been a Weirdo for more than a year, you know that every June and December I take a few days to raise funds to help feed starving children families in Haiti, Guatemala, and other areas of the Caribbean and Latin America through an organization called Food For The Poor. Food For The Poor has been essential in saving lives by providing food and clean water in the poorest areas of our world that need the most help. You’d think it couldn’t get any worse for these people, but then COVID-19 struck. Not only has the coronavirus itself struck people down, but it is also devastating the volunteers and those who were financially helping. The number of volunteers has dwindled because they are stuck in quarantine (or might be sick themselves). Donations have drastically decreased due to businesses and individual donors feeling the financial crunch and no longer being able help as they could previously. This brings Haiti and Guatemala to an emergency level it has not seen in decades. As you could probably guess, there is no government stimulus package or safety nets for these people; the threat of starvation and famine was already real, but now it’s imminent. And even the very very few who were were able to work before the virus hit, they are now forced to remain at home due to the quarantine (and they don’t have work-from-home kind of jobs like many of us do). They are forced to stay at home, with no food for their children, and no hope to earn money in order to buy food. Those who worked as street vendors or day laborers, the only jobs most could find, have no income whatsoever now. Most children received only one meal per day – and that meal was provided by the school they attend. Now those schools have also been forced to close due to the pandemic, so those children now have zero meals per day. While many parts of the modern world are slowly beginning to see some relief, Haiti and Guatemala (who were already worse off before the pandemic than we ever were during it) are now in a crisis situation – and it’s continuing to get worse. Villages could completely disappear from existence due to starvation. We can’t afford to wait until June; the need is too dire. I’m asking YOU, my Weirdo family, to join me NOW to help save lives – and while it’s an insurmountable mountain for the people in Haiti and Guatemala to overcome, it’s a drop in the bucket for most of us. All it takes is a one-time tax-deductible donation of just $37. That’s it. Just $37… given once. That single gift will feed a child in Haiti or Guatemala for a full 6-months. That sounds like science-fiction, but it is reality, thanks to the way Food For The Poor works. It buys food in bulk, uses local organizations to distribute the food, uses local volunteers to help, etc. $37 feeds a child for a full 6-months. If you can give a one-time gift of $74, you feed two children for six months. If you can’t give the full amount right now, what about pledging a small monthly gift? Feed one child for six months with a gift of just over $3/mo, or feed two kids with a gift of $7/mo. A monthly gift, a one-time gift, whatever works best for you. But please give today. Click the red “Emergency Food Relief” banner at WeirdDarkness.com. You can give online right now, it only takes a moment. Or if you’d rather donate by phone, the number is 855-901-4673. That’s 855-901-4673. The important thing is that you do it as soon as possible – the need is great, and the situation is that dire. We’re currently at sixteen percent of our goal, so we still need your help greatly. Call 855-901-4673, or click the “Emergency Food Relief” banner at WeirdDarkness.com. Call 855-901-4673, or click the “Emergency Food Relief” banner at WeirdDarkness.com.
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Exorcisms are up around the world and those who endorse them or run schools for exorcists recommend leaving the casting out of demons to the trained experts – whether they be priests or lay persons. That advice was followed by two women in Colombia but not by one in Louisiana and the results were … well, let’s see if the experts are right.
According to the account by the exorcist reported in The Daily Star, the case in Colombia was unusual because there was a total of seven demons to be cast out. The women, a mother and daughter, had apparently been cursed by the dead lover of the daughter’s husband – no word on whether he was involved or how the mistress died. However, the female exorcist claimed the curse came from the afterlife and was delivered to the women via a doll.
The procedure used by this exorcist would not make for a very scary movie but was pretty unusual. Working on the daughter first, she loaded up the room with religious paintings, statues, crucifixes and holy water. Then the victim’s abdomen was rubbed with holy oil and slapped while praying until the demon was said to have left her. The rest were apparently in the mother, who needed a lot more rubbing, slapping, praying and grunting. While apparently speaking through the mother, one of the demons gave this movie-ready line: “I have turned them into shit.” However, it appears to have spoken too soon as the exorcist soon declares that the woman is demon-free and ready to help her daughter divorce the husband, who had to have been in on this somehow.
At least the Colombian exorcism had a happy ending. The one in Louisiana didn’t. TV station KLFY (“Acadiana’s Local News Leader) reports that a volunteer fire department in Denham Springs (Livingston Parish) was called to a trailer fire (don’t get ahead of me here) on August 11. They found one JoLynn Wynn at the scene. She explained that she had set her couch on fire to “get the devil out.” The firefighters ignored the devil, put the blaze out and sent JoLynn to the hospital for smoke inhalation.
Using fire seems like a strange way to get rid of something that likes the fires of hell, but JoLynn apparently didn’t check any do-it-yourself exorcism sites which would have informed her of various safer ways to remove a demon from a possessed object. Putting something copper (a coin or a pipe) in the object is supposed to drive out negative forces and absorb the energy released by the curse. She also could have prayed, sprinkled holy water on the couch or walked around it with a smoking smudge stick. Wearing any kind of religious object, she could have also just asked the demon to give up the couch. While it might leave a stain, she could have taken the Colombian approach and rubbed oil on the cushions before slapping them with her hands.
JoLynn instead opted for setting her couch on fire and is now charged with simple arson. One curse turns into two … three if you count the burned-out trailer … four if there were copious quantities of adult beverages involved.
Regardless of whether you think they’re real or psychological, these stories reinforce the advice that casting out or taming your demons is best left to professionals.
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The Egyptian curse of the Unlucky Mummy was on everyone’s minds in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Not only had this curse claimed the lives of many of those who came in contact with its namesake’s curious visage, but it also supposedly played a part in the sinking of the Titanic. At least, that’s what people believed at the time. How could this Unlucky Mummy curse 1,500 people to their doom while sitting in the British Museum? If you’re asking that then you really don’t know how curses work.
Or maybe the Titanic mummy’s curse wasn’t a curse at all. Even though people like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and journalists at The Washington Post fully believed in this sunken item’s power, it’s more than likely the people who found themselves on the business end of the Unlucky Mummy’s curse were simply unlucky themselves.
When a group of young British men traveling through Egypt in the late 1800s discovered a sarcophagus containing the remains of a Princess of Amen-Ra, they decided between themselves who’d take it home. The fellow who scored the mummy paid to have it shipped back to his hotel, but shortly afterward, he wandered into the desert – never to be seen again.
The curse of the Unlucky Mummy wasn’t satisfied with taking this young man’s life; within a short time, the remaining men allegedly suffered accidents or lost all their money.
The mummy reportedly found its way into the hands of one of their sisters. She didn’t fare any better than the men who discovered the Unlucky Mummy and soon suffered a great deal herself.
Stories about the Unlucky Mummy state that the remains inside the mummy board belonged to a priestess of Amen-Ra. She allegedly lived during the 21st Dynasty – 1085 to 945 BC – but there’s not a lot of history connected to this mysterious woman. While there don’t seem to be any high priestesses of Amen-Ra, there are stories of high priests. These men were more militaristic than their title implies, and they commanded armies throughout the Luxor area of Southern Egypt.
According to Nautilus:
“Sometime in the 1860s, five recent Oxford graduates took a trip to Egypt… To remember their trip, they bought a souvenir in the mummy pits of Deir el-Bahri – the coffin lid of a priestess of Amen-Ra. The high priests of Amen-Ra, named after an Egyptian deity, were military rulers who commanded southern Egypt in the 21st Dynasty (1085 to 945 BC), a time of turmoil and strife. Powerful and prone to keep secrets, the priesthood worked to appease the gods that Egypt had clearly angered. With her wide, baleful eyes, open palms, and outstretched fingers, the priestess on the coffin lid seemed to cast a malevolent allure.”
Followers of the occult will recognize the name Helena Blavatsky as the Russian philosopher who created the doctrine of theosophy, a religion based on Eastern mysticism and Western esotericism. Blavatsky was basically a catchall occultist, so when stories about a cursed mummy circulated, she had to investigate.
Upon entering a room where the mummy board was held, Blavatsky supposedly felt something strange – a disturbance in the energy around her. When she finally figured out it was the mummy board, she said it was the cause of all the negativity around her and asked that it be removed from her presence.
It didn’t take long for rumors about the mummy to spread through England in the late 1890s. When it took up residence in the British Museum, the upper echelon of Londoners leaned into their gossip about the curse of its inhabitant. Members of the British elite formed “ghost clubs,” and they chatted in secret about the dark energy of the priestess of Amen-Ra.
In 1904, the stories went wide when English journalist Bertram Fletcher Robinson wrote a series of articles about the curse of the mummy in the Daily Express. Most notably, Robinson’s articles led people to believe “Egyptians had powers which we in the 20th century may laugh at, yet can never understand.”
In order to satiate both the curiosity of the British people and his own quest for knowledge, journalist Bertram Fletcher Robinson spent months at the British Museum researching the mummy. Initially, he wanted to disprove the rumors surrounding the curse, but the more he looked into the mummy board, the more he believed the stories surrounding the mystical artifact to be true. Eventually, Robinson lost his life to typhoid fever.
Stories about Robinson’s involvement with the mummy board and his subsequent passing are impossible to extricate from the myth of the curse. Even though he passed three years after reporting on the mummy, his friends and family still believe the artifact had something to do with his demise.
English author Archibald Marshall said he believed his friend succumbed because “[t]he very last time I saw him he told me a wonderful tale about a mummy which had caused the [demise] of everybody who had to do with it.”
Despite writing about the endlessly logical detective Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle believed the curse of the mummy was the real deal. After journalist Bertram Fletcher Robinson met his end following a bout with typhoid fever, Doyle surmised his friend had actually tempted fate by writing about the mummy.
At the time, Doyle said he warned Robinson away from putting too much effort into the mummy, specifically because of its reputation for bringing chaos in its wake. When presented with the idea that Robinson passed from a fever, Doyle said that’s exactly how a mummy’s curse would work. He explained:
“It was caused by Egyptian “elementals” guarding a female mummy, because Mr. Robinson had begun an investigation of the stories of the mummy’s malevolence. It is impossible to say with absolute certainty if this is true… but I warned Mr. Robinson against concerning himself with the mummy at the British Museum. He persisted… I told him he was tempting fate by pursuing his enquiries. The immediate cause… was typhoid fever, but that is the way in which the elementals guarding the mummy might act.”
On April 12, 1912, the Titanic ran into an iceberg while crossing the Atlantic on its way to New York. A reported 1,517 people perished in the accident, so what could have caused something so awful? Rather than believe a member of the crew committed an error or that it was simply an act of Mother Nature run amok, some mummy-truthers believe the Unlucky Mummy was in the cargo bay.
The story of the priestess of Amen-Ra’s curse on the Titanic began when William Stead and Douglas Murray told a ghost story aboard the ship about reading the inscription of the mummy aloud, thus damning everyone on board. Both of the men perished in the sinking of the Titanic, which only gave credence to the story.
A month after the ship sank into the Atlantic, The Washington Post began running stories about the mummy’s curse and how it was responsible for the tragedy.
When we think about a mummy’s curse, the thought of a bandaged creature stepping out of a sarcophagus immediately comes to mind. But that couldn’t be further from the case with the Unlucky Mummy. This artifact is actually just a wooden mummy board that features the painting of a woman, and it doesn’t actually hold anything.
The British Museum – which has the Unlucky Mummy in its possession – says mummy boards are fairly common and they were made to be placed on top of a mummy. They note there’s really no way of knowing who was under this board because the inscription doesn’t say their name. In fact, the only name that’s on the mummy board in question is that of Amenhotep I. At the time, this deceased emperor was worshipped as a local god in Egypt.
It turns out the story of this cursed mummy board is actually two different stories in one. William Stead and Douglas Murray, two men who perished on the Titanic, hatched a couple of ghost stories that soon took on the weight of a singular story. One tale involves a man who purchases a mummy from Egypt and discovers it’s cursed after the spirit of the mummy continues to smash the things in his home regardless of where it’s placed.
It was conflated with a story of some men who visit the British Museum only to see that the mummy board holds the pained face of a woman who was so tormented in life that her ghost is forced to haunt anyone who comes in contact with her board. This story, along with their claim that the mummy board was in the cargo hold of the ship, enforced the idea that the alleged priestess of Amen-Ra was the source of so much trouble.
While the cursed mummy board makes for an excellent story, and even though discerning readers know the Titanic didn’t go down because of a curse, it’s still cool to think that a real deal ancient artifact was in the cargo hold. Unfortunately, according to the British Museum, the mummy board was nowhere near the Titanic when it sank.
According to historians at the museum, the mummy board was safe and sound within their walls in 1912, meaning it had nothing to do with the tragedy. In fact, the mummy board has been in the British Museum since 1900 and it’s barely been exhibited.
So, why all this hemming and hawing about a cursed mummy board? Why couldn’t the British people of the early 20th century leave well enough alone? At the time, Britain was occupying Egypt after entering the country in 1882 and quickly taking control. The British people weren’t exactly jazzed about the occupation, but they didn’t have a choice.
Rose Eveleth writes that Britain’s guilt manifested itself as an obsession with Egyptian artifacts. People saw these goods as ill-gotten, and their anxieties turned into beliefs about ancient curses. It’s easier to blame your problems on the occult, be they the passing of a young writer or the sinking of an unsinkable ship.
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When Weird Darkness returns…
An investigation of San Francisco’s famed White Lady of Stow Lake. Plus, we’ll step into the Chamber of Comments.
Our next Weirdo Watch Party has been postponed for a week due to Slash getting sick as a dog. Get it? Slash is a werewolf! Sick as a dog! Never mind. Anyway, we’re pushing it back one week – so it is now rescheduled for Saturday, May 30th! Join me, other Weirdo family members, and horror hosts Slash and Foxi Roxi as they present the 1984 B-horror movie, Carnage: the story of Carol and Jonathan, a newlywed couple, who move into their new house which they discover is haunted by the ghosts of newlywed couple who died in the house three years earlier. You can be a part of the Weirdo Watch Party for FREE – just visit the page and click the play button to start watching! The chat room is also there, so during the Weirdo Watch Party we can all join in to chat with each other, comment about the film and the horror hosts, and sometimes the horrors hosts jump into the chatroom with us to get in on the jokes and conversation. It’s FREE, it’s FUN, and it helps to promote different horror hosts and show them that we appreciate what they do. So join us for the 1984 paranormal horror film, “Carnage”! Be sure to update your calendar, smart home device, or phone reminder with the new date! Saturday, May 30th! This time we’re hosting it on the actual Weirdo Watch Party page at WeirdDarkness.com. Saturday May 30th, 9pm Central (10pm Eastern, 7pm Pacific, 8pm Mountain) at WeirdDarkness.com!
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If you’ve heard San Francisco’s most famous ghost story, it was probably some iteration of this:
In the years before the 1906 earthquake, a beautiful young woman lived in the city with her infant child. One day, the woman decided to take her baby to Golden Gate Park for a jaunt around Stow Lake. While on their walk, the woman spotted a friend, and the two sat down on a bench to catch up.
After a few minutes, the woman turned to check on her baby. To her horror, the pram was no longer beside her. In a panic, she ran around the lake, screaming for her child. The last anyone saw of her — alive — was when, in a moment of horrid realization, she ran into the lake.
For the last century, people on foggy nights have reported seeing a distressed lady in a white gown stalking the rim of Stow Lake. Some say she approaches them, begging them to help find her baby. Others have only heard her moans. The story is so famous that Golden Gate Park even has a page dedicated to the legend.
It’s a classic, haunting ghost story, so it’s no surprise the tale has resonated with locals, and ghost hunters, for over 100 years. But is there any truth to the legend of the White Lady of Stow Lake?
The first mention of a phantom in Golden Gate Park is a front-page Chronicle story from Jan. 6, 1908. The article tells the tale of Arthur Pigeon and his automobile full of female party-goers. The vehicle was seen speeding through the park late at night before being apprehended by mounted police. Inside, the officer found a car full of terrified people, white as a proverbial ghost.
Pigeon told the officer they’d seen a “thing” directly in front of their vehicle, “clad in a luminous white robe, and holding its arms extended as though to stop the progress of the machine.”
“It was a thin, tall figure,” Pigeon explained. “It seemed to shine. It had long, fair hair and was barefooted. I did not notice the face. I was too frightened.”
The bemused officer asked if the party had previously visited “beach resorts [that] might produce ghosts or spirits.” No, insisted the group. Very well, the officer said. Then you’ll have to show me where the ghost was.
The women “shrieked” at the suggestion, leaving poor Arthur Pigeon to escort the officer back to the spot where he’d seen the apparition. Of course, it was gone.
“Captain Gleeson of the Park Station was informed of the affair,” the Chronicle wrote, “and gave orders that any ghost answering this description is to be arrested on sight.”
San Francisco history before the 1906 earthquake can be difficult to verify. The fire destroyed the city’s police and coroners’ reports, along with thousands of personal records kept by families. So if there was a police report about a woman and her baby drowning in Stow Lake, it’s likely long gone.
Newspaper crime stories and death notices give a more complete, and surprisingly deadly, picture of Golden Gate Park in the late 1800s. The park, with its many dark corners, was a common spot for suicides. So common, in fact, that the San Francisco Call ran a Sunday feature in 1900 called “The Park Suicides.”
“The park, with its luxury of trees, shrubbery and green grass, seems to appeal strongly to the troubled philosopher who seeks to rid himself of what he deems a burden,” the Call wrote.
The story, accompanied by a complete list of suicides in the park since 1890, found that one in every 12 suicides in San Francisco took place there. The methods ranged from poisonings to self-inflicted gunshot wounds. There’s only one suicide-by-drowning, however, and that death was later ruled a homicide. If the White Lady of Stow Lake died there, then it must have been after the 1900 article was written. Surely a suicide that dramatic would have warranted a mention.
If any single anecdote gave life to the ghost of Stow Lake, it is this small item in the July 10, 1906 Call.
Mary Cook and Nellie Gillighan, both 12-year-old earthquake refugees living the park, reported to police that they had “seen the naked body of a baby floating in Lloyd Lake,” a pond near Stow Lake. Police made a full investigation but saw no sign of a body. Just in case, they planned to drag the lake. There are no subsequent newspaper articles on the subject, so that search must have come up empty too.
Coupled with the park’s reputation as a suicide spot, the legend writes itself: A beautiful woman and her infant child, a tragic death in the park, a spirit that can’t find peace.
But for those who believe in ghosts, there’s no shortage of candidates for who could be the real lady of Stow Lake. The 1900 “Park Suicides” story offers tales of at least four women who took their own lives in the park, including one whose name was never discovered.
“Who she was, where she came from and what her troubles were will never be known,” the Call wrote. “For she was among the unidentified.”
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Here in the Chamber of Comments I answer your emails, comments, podcast reviews, tweets, letters I get in the mail, and more. You can find all of my contact information, postal address, and social media links on the CONTACT page at WeirdDarkness.com. While you’re there, join the Facebook Group, “Weird Darkness Weirdos” and hang out with me and the rest of our Weirdo family! Or drop me an email anytime at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Email from Ivan Halicki): Just checking in on you. No new postings concerned me a bit; hoping all is well. Yes you get me through my day at the job and help me go to sleep.
REPLY: Hello, Ivan. That’s very kind of you to check in. I’m doing fine. The last couple of weeks were a rollercoaster of migraines with the weather here, but I am taking some new medication that should hold them back for the most part and I’m back to feeling about as chipper as one can in the circumstances of our pandemic world. I appreciate you reaching out – thank you!
(Email from Trinity): Hi Darren, I love your podcast and listen all the time. I always make sure I have a way to listen. I hope you are well. Your podcast has made quarantine so much easier. I found your podcast on my Facebook page, and I’m glad I can call myself a weirdo – it makes me smile. Maybe one day I’ll tell you about my own ghost story, but till then, I’m Trinity and I love your show. Keep up the good work!
REPLY: Thank you, Trinity! Looking forward to reading your ghost story someday!
I’ll answer more of your emails, comments, and more next time! Again, you can find all of my social media and contact information on the CONTACT page at WeirdDarkness.com.
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If you made it this far, welcome to the Weirdo Family. If you like the podcast, please tell your friends/family about it however you can and get them to become Weirdos too! And I’d greatly appreciate you leaving a review in the podcast app you listen from, that helps the podcast get noticed!
Do you have a dark tale to tell of your own? Fact or fiction, click on “Tell Your Story” at WeirdDarkness.com and I might use it in a future episode.
All stories in Weird Darkness are purported to be true (unless stated otherwise), and you can find source links or links to the authors in the show notes.
“My Couch Is Possessed by The Devil” by Paul Seaburn for Mysterious Universe
“Did a Mummy’s Curse Sink The Titanic?” by Jacob Shelton for Ranker
“The Real Story Behind San Francisco’s Most Famous Ghost” by Katie Dowd for SF Gate
“The Great Vampire Panic” by Abigail Tucker for Smithsonian Magazine
Weird Darkness theme by Alibi Music.
WeirdDarkness™ – is a registered trademark. Copyright ©Weird Darkness 2020.
If you’d like a transcript of this episode, you’ll find a link in the show notes.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… 1 Peter 5:7 = “Cast all your anxiety on Him [God] because He cares for you.”
And a final thought… from Howard Schultz: “Risk more than others think is safe. Dream more than others think is practical.”
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.