A Suicidal Ghost July 19, 2013Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback
To follow up on a recentish post on suicide, here is a suicide and a ghost. Note that the suicide is certainly factual, as he had just appeared in the newspaper. Beach was struck by how jaunty, active and, well, pissed this ghost was. Thinking about it there are some of these ghost stories where a man who has just died has an interview with a friend or acquaintance, perhaps we should add this to the number?
There was an account in our last of the untimely death of Henry Sturgis, keeper of White-chapel Prison, who hanged himself in the Rope-yard on Saturday last, about two o’clock in the afternoon; since which, we have this wonderful, yet most credible relation, that about seven or eight of the clock in the evening of the same day, one Richard Reyley, victualler in Shadwell-market, near the new Church, going home from London over Whitechapel fields, when he came near the ponds, upon a sudden he observed a flame of fire arising out of the pond like lightning, and presently after he meets the appearance of the said Sturgis coming over a ditch toward him, who said, ‘Get you out of the way, or I will throw you into the pond.’ The man wondered very much at the affront, being acquainted with Sturgis; and, not having heard of his fatal end, was therefore just going to ask him the reason of it, when of an instant his hat was thrown off his head; which while he stooped to take up, the fantasm disappeared, which the man much admired at;
Beach loves the use of ‘admired’ here; note that getting your hat knocked off was usually a prelude to a fight in the nineteenth century. In any case, Richard R was a slow learner.
Going over the next fields, there were several persons in the rope-walks, he gave them an account of what had passed; whereupon they informed him the said Sturgis had hanged himself in that place several hours before. The man was very angry, positively asserting that he had just now met him alive and in health; but, to convince him, they shewed him the dead body; whereupon his countenance immediately turned pale and wan, and he went home extremely frightened, though a man otherwise of undaunted courage; and when he came home, he swounded away, and could hardly be recovered, and has continued ever since in a very distracted condition, not having slept for divers nights together. Those who doubt the truth hereof may be fully satisfied therein at his house afore-mentioned.
Any other angry suicidal ghosts? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com
28 July 2013: Chris from Haunted Ohio Books sends this one in: Stories of the angry ghosts of suicides (or any ghosts) actually physically attacking someone are rare except in the tabloids and in the luridly entertaining work of Elliott O’Donnell. Most often suicide ghosts rely on glaring, leering, shaking their fists, or just appearing, which, classically, causes the witness to go mad and possibly to also kill himself. Prisons are particularly full of violent suicides and their ghosts. More common still, are stories of the ghosts of murder victims haunting the murderer until he kills himself. Here is a story excerpted from a chapter on spook lights The Face in the Window, which you so kindly reviewed. People who tangle with spook lights often come away injured or insane so the story is ambiguous as to whether this is actually an attack by the suicide’s ghost. SPOOK LIGHT MAKES SHIFT Oak Harbor, Nov. 23 Port Clinton folk have been taking an active interest in the “spook light” on the Lindsey Rd., five miles southwest of Oak Harbor and eight youths from that place were immediately initiated into the mystery of the light. The spirit of the man who hung himself in the hut nearby, which the light is supposed to represent, did not seem to care as long as they watched from a distance but when they prowled around the bridge it moved out into a field. The youths then began prowling around the abandoned hut and one ventured to open the door and throw a light inside. He did not go very far after opening the door for something hit him on the forehead and sent him staggering back to the support of his comrades. What he said in the excitement following is not clearly recalled by the other members of the party. Deputy Sheriff Eugene Carsten was a member of the party but his experience as a sleuth was not sufficient to solve the mystery. Sandusky [OH] Register 24 November 1922: p. 9 In cases like the following, the narrator usually assumes that the apparition is a delusion and not an obsessed, angry spirit demanding the lady kill herself. An English lady, moving in the first circles of society, went, in company with her friends, to the opera at Paris. In the next box sat a gentleman, who appeared, from the notice he took of the lady, to be enamoured of her. The lady expressed herself annoyed at the observation which she had attracted, and moved to another part of the box. The gentleman followed the carriage home, and insisted upon addressing the lady, declaring that he had had the pleasure of meeting her elsewhere, and that one minute’s conversation would convince her of the fact, and do away with the unfavourable impression which his apparent rudeness might have made upon her mind. As his request did not appear at the moment unreasonable, she consented to see him for a minute by herself. In that short space of time he made a fervent declaration of his affection; acknowledged that desperation had compelled him to have recourse to a ruse to obtain an interview, and that, unless she looked favourably on his pretensions, he would kill her and then himself. The lady expressed her indignation at the deceit he had practised, and said, with considerable firmness, that he must quit the house. He did so, retired to his home, and with a lancet opened a vein in his arm. He collected a portion of blood in a cup, and with it wrote a note to the lady, telling her that his blood was flowing fast from his body, and it should continue to flow until she consented to listen to his proposals. The lady, on the receipt of the note, sent her servant to see the gentleman, and found him, as he represented, actually bleeding to death. On the entreaty of the lady, the arm was bound up and his life saved. On writing to the lady, under the impression that she would now accept his addresses, he was amazed on receiving a cool refusal, and a request that he would not trouble her with any more letters. Again driven to desperation, he resolved effectually to kill himself. He accordingly loaded a pistol and directed his steps towards the residence of his fair amorosa, when, knocking at the door, he gained admission, and immediately blew out his brains. The intelligence was communicated to the lady, she became dreadfully excited, and a severe attack of nervous fever followed. When the acute symptoms subsided, her mind was completely deranged. Her insanity took a peculiar turn. She fancied she heard a voice commanding her to commit suicide, and yet she appeared to be possessed of sufficient reason to know that she was desirous of doing what she ought to be restrained from accomplishing. Every now and then she would exclaim, “Take away the pistol! I won’t hang myself! I won’t take poison!” Under the impression that she would kill herself, she was carefully watched; but notwithstanding the vigilance which was exercised she had sufficient cunning to conceal a knife, with which, during the temporary absence of the attendant, she stabbed herself in the abdomen, and died in a few hours. It appears that the idea that she had caused the death of another, and that she had it in her power to save his life by complying with his wishes, produced the derangement of mind under which she was labouring at the time of her death; and yet she did not manifest, and it was evident to everybody that she had not, the slightest affection for the gentleman who professed so much to admire her. Possessing naturally a sensitive mind, it was easily excited. The peculiar circumstances connected with her mental derangement were sufficient to account for the delusions under which she laboured. Altogether the case is full of interest. The anatomy of suicide, Forbes Winslow 1840 In this story, again, the vengeful, threatening ghost is seen as the delusion of a dipsomaniac. A Strange Hallucination: An Insane Widow Fancies that She is Pursued by the Ghost of Her Suicidal Husband. Fearful Retribution Resulting from a Wife’s Follies The Maniac Imagines that the Apparition Constantly Demands Money Suicide Waste of Wealth A Strange and Sad History Whether the spirits of the departed return to earth and hover about the footsteps of those with whom they mingled while in the flesh is a mooted question the affirmative of which is taken by comparatively few intelligent persons. However this may be, there existed in a case which came before Justice Milliken yesterday afternoon, certain peculiar feature which would seem to have some sort of bearing upon this matter. A well-dressed, young-looking woman, named Bridget Thompson, was brought into court by a policeman, who stated that he found her wandering about the streets, laboring under either delirium tremens or temporary insanity. She had in her possession upward of $50 in money, and it was thought best that she should be taken care of. She was accordingly placed, for a short time, in a well-lighted cell in the Huron-street Police Station. Here her incoherent mutterings assumed a sort of definite continuity and it was at once observed that she was completely under control of the horrible hallucination that the ghost of her dead husband was dogging her footsteps, reaching toward her a long, bony arm and, in a hollow, sepulchral tone, continually importuning her for “Money, money!” The poor woman would shriek and sob with terror, piteously pleading that she had given it what it so mercilessly demanded. Inquiries were made concerning her history and circumstances and it transpired that she had but the day previous drawn $500 in cash from the bank and that, wandering the streets at night, she had actually cast $300 at the feet of the dreaded apparition, and then fled, no one could tell where. But it was not until her history was ascertained that the “method in her madness” became apparent, or, rather, that her strange idiosyncrasy was explained. Her experience has indeed been a terrible one, and its tragic details are still fresh in the minds of many residents of this city. Something over three years ago, she was married to a man named Thompson, who was upward of sixty years of age, a kalsominer by trade, and the owner of considerable property in the North division. He had been divorced from his first wife, who had borne him a family of children, who were then grown up, and who, with their mother, are now living in this city. The old man took his bride to his house on Huron street, near Franklin, where he maintained her in comfortable style. His manner toward her was a strange alternation of extreme uxoriousness and intense jealousy, so that her position was no in all respects enviable, and it was thought not improbable that his jealously had some reasonable foundations. The life of the old man and his young wife continued in this checkered course until, but a few months after their marriage, their relations were brought to a close in a manner terribly tragic. They had retired to rest one night when a harsh disagreement arose on account of her persistent refusal to submit to his caresses. In his anger the old man demanded of her that she deliver into his hands the $500 which, in a moment of excessive affection, he had intrusted to her care. She refused; and, as though desirous of fanning his already furious rage, she tauntingly told him she had given the money to her lover. The old man, now maddened beyond control, rushed to a closet, produced a loaded shotgun, placed the muzzle to his head, and declared that, in case of her persistent refusal to yield up the money or disclose the name of her paramour, he would scatter his own brains at her feet. The wretched woman, herself greatly excited by the quarrel, laughed in his face, and jeeringly told him to shoot if he liked; nothing would please her better. Scarcely had the worlds escaped her lips, than the old man planted the muzzle of the gun firmly against his temple, pressed his thumb against the trigger and fired. He had executed his threat. His dead body lay at her feet, his brains spattered upon her night-dress. A lady who resided in the same house, attracted by the high words, stood listening at the door, and herself communicated these facts to the Times reporter, as she testified to them at the coroner’ s inquest upon the body of the suicide. It transpired that a will had been made by Thompson, by which his entire property was bequeathed to his young wife, to the exclusion of his children by his former wife. These heirs contested the will subsequent to his death, and the matter has been in litigation until recently it has been compromised. Bridget receiving $500 in money. This she deposited in the bank, and drew it, and wasted the greater portion of it in the manner already stated. It is affirmed that her life has been dissipated in the extreme since the death of her husband and that the effects of the constant use of intoxicating liquor, coupled with the shock subsequent upon the terrible tragedy with which she was so closely connected, have reduced her to her present condition. It was not deemed proper by Justice Milliken, yesterday afternoon, that she be sent to Bridewell, and the officer having her in charge was directed to bring her case before Judge Bradwell, with a view to the procuring of a commission of lunacy, in order that she may be properly cared for in the county hospital and eventually placed in a lunatic asylum. Cincinnati [OH] Enquirer 11 June 1868: p. 4 No, not a lot of physical violence, but rather, emotional threats.’ Thanks Chris!