Forever Haunted by Angelfire: A 90s Ghost Story

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This is Indiana

When I was young (maybe 12ish), I wrote down everything concerning the occult in a black-paged notebook with Gelly Roll pens. I kept a dictionary in the back with all the new terms I learned. I wrote down every haunted location, glued every ghost photo, and copied down interesting quotes on the occult into my small spiral notebook. While the library provided me a plethora of literature on all things spooky, I spent most hours doing internet research. I read online forums, About.com, and many sites hosted by Angelfire. Angelfire launched 22 years ago and (at least when I was using it) provided users free web-hosting. These websites were a wild 90s ride with crazy backgrounds, colorful fonts, annoying banner ads, guestbooks, visit counters, and much more.

(insert dial up noise)

I was mostly intrigued by websites about haunted places in Indiana (my home state). I would fill my notebook with places I hoped to explore someday. Although I could not drive yet, I could visit these haunted locations from the comfort of my father’s computer chair. Further, I was happy to know there were other people out there just as weird as me.

Many friends tell me that they too loved these sites and would visit these haunted locations with their friends on weekend nights. There is not much else to do in Indiana when you are a teenager, after all. You cannot help but think that teenagers had a hand in creating and circulating some of the legends on these websites.

When the weather is warmer, I plan on visiting some of these haunted locations. 12-year-old me will be very pleased.

Below are some more screenshots of my favorite Indiana-specific websites. These websites are still online today.  I recommend proceeding with caution, because some of these websites have pop-ups and you never know about viruses (or whatever).

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The Force – I recommend not visiting this site if you don’t want sketchy pop-ups.
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Haunted Fort Wayne
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The Shadowlands – I’m not sure if this is Angelfire or not, but same 90s vibe.

For the past few weeks, I have been sharing my favorite stories from these Angelfire sites on my Instagram as part of #humpdayhaunts. I have posted them below for your reading pleasure. Please excuse any errors as I am usually typing these with my dumb thumbs.

Welcome back to #humpdayhaunts. I got another one for the Haunted Indiana a la Angelfire series AND it is a doooooozy. In Fort Wayne (Allen County), there's a place called Devil's Hollow (this is already getting good). 1️⃣ One legend says the ghost of an elderly woman haunts the location. She lived off the grid, but was still bothered by local teenagers who would spy on her, break her property, and generally harass her. As all stories like this go…she was rumored to be a witch. Allegedly, the teens set fire to the house one night (or it was an accident from a discarded cigarette butt) and she perished in the fire. Her ghost still haunts the property at midnight, sometimes chasing away trespassers. 2️⃣ Another legend says you will see a ghost lantern. The story goes that during WWII, a mother and father waited for their son to return from war. The mother left a lantern burning every night in the window to help guide her son home. He never made it home as he died in battle. The mother still burned the lantern until she died. Her husband continued to the burn the lantern in his wife's memory until he also died. Supposedly the house still stands and you can still see the lantern in the window glowing at night. 👻 Other ghosts include a headless horseman. Also, the site says "There have been police reports and arrests made from cults going up there and sacrificing goats and pigs and various other satanic ceremonies occurring" (🙄 OK). There's a cemetery in the woods behind Devil's Hollow. If you stand in the middle of the cemetery and hear dead quiet, you will die instantly. #ghost #indiana #hoosier #halloween #paranormal #supernatural #haunted #scary #urbanlegend #folklore #ghoststory #history

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#humpdayhaunts 👻👻👻 I got another one for the Haunted Indiana a la Angelfire series. Today we are in Bremen in Marshall County. First stop: Little Egypt Cemetery. When you are driving around the cemetery, you might notice hand prints appear on your windshield. ✋🤚This cemetery has some apparitions, including a phantom farmer that will run after you. There is a baby's tombstone and if you throw a nickel at it, you will hear crying. Be careful leaving too: "depending on how far back in the woods you go, upon your way out, you will see a set of headlights following you out of the cemetery. It appears that they have just come out of the woods. They will follow you until you are completely out, and a ways down the road." Maybe when you leave, you can go right down the road to our second stop: the haunted TROLL BRIDGE. Supposedly, people have seen a tall dark shadow on the bridge (like 7 or 8 feet tall). Some people said this ghost/creature chased them. Others say it threw objects at their car. Be careful visiting the site though. The website (http://thisisindiana.angelfire.com/indianahauntings.htm) says: "WARNING: Do NOT go out here, stay off this bridge, this thing is not good and you will be terrified. I strongly suggest the unstable mind stay out of here too, unless you are up for psychological damage. The local residents do not appreciate investigators. Have also been encounters with an angry resident that drives a red jeep and chases you down, and threatening he would kill you if you came back. Please for your own safety do not go here. This guy is a real lunatic." I've always thought living people were scarier than ghosts! #ghost #indiana #hoosier #halloween #paranormal #supernatural #haunted #scary #urbanlegend #folklore #ghoststory

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Welcome to a (day late) #humpdayhaunts! I got another haunted Indiana cemetery for you to continue my Angelfire series, b/c I love some ridiculous folklore and urban legends. If you are not familiar with what I'm talking about…You see, back in the Angelfire days 💾, there were a couple of websites that listed haunted places in Indiana. They had black backgrounds, white/yellow font, and the best clip art. It's all very 90s. These sites also had the most hilarious instructions at some of these locations (park your car, walk 10 steps east, then 10 steps north, and you'll see a glowing face, blah blah). 👻 Anyway, let's go to the next haunted location: Jerome Cemetery in Jerome, Indiana (Howard County). This hidden cemetery is on the east bank of Wildcat Creek. According to This is Indiana: "If you drive along the graves through the old fence, stop and turn your car of on the bridge and then get out of the car you will see a flashing light blinking from inside your car." I don't know, maybe you left your inside lights on? Anyway. If you walk down the creek you might hear the sound of drum beats and other strange noises. If you are unlucky, you might meet the man with the black cape and his two large black dogs (black dogs are very ominous in folklore). The website says the dogs might be demons (OK). Also, there's a haunted bridge near the cemetery. The site states: "There use to be a Satanists church in Jerome where they would perform human sacrifices underneath this bridge. It is said that they were sought out by a group of Christians and killed, along with burning down the Satanists church." I think some teens read The Exorcist while drinking Boone's Farm or something and made that little story up. 🙄🙄🙄#history #folklore #hoosier #indiana #ghost #haunted #paranormal #urbanlegend #halloween #supernatural

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The next few #humpdayhaunts will be focused on random and obscure haunted locations in Indiana a la Angelfire. The first location is Bass Lake Cemetery in Bass Lake (Starke County). There's one particular tombstone in the cemetery with a lot of legends attached to it. Supposedly, the grass around the tombstone turns bloody red at night. If you hold a lighter close to the image of the man on the tombstone, his face will change into a devil with horns and a beard. The face also starts laughing. Note: this doesn't work during the day or when using a flashlight. There is also a wild creature resembling a werewolf that charges at cars. This is probably not 100% accurate is what I'm going to say. 👻 Let's stay a bit longer in Bass Lake and visit the old haunted hospital. Only the basement and some of the foundation remains, along with a ghost janitor that appears next to the furnace. Some have reported odd noises coming from the basement. #history #indiana #ghost #haunted #halloween #scarystory #urbanlegend #folklore #monster #paranormal #supernatural || FYI: The blog is coming back to life this week! Wooooooo BOOOO! 👻👻👻

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Join the fun by following me on Instagram! OR, tell me in the comments about your experience with spooky Angelfire websites (or Tripod or GeoCities).

Here’s 90s Ashley signing off! 

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A Brief Guide to Keeping a Commonplace Book

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I had the opportunity to write for Dirge Magazine while it was still online (Rest in Peace). I learned so much as a writer from the editors, so I wanted to make sure I was able to save my favorite and proudest piece. I grabbed the following article from the depths of Wayback Machine. The article was published in Dirge Magazine with the original title “Before Bullet Journals, There Were Commonplace Books” on January 8, 2017. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it!


The latest trend in self improvement is the bullet journal or the “analog system for the digital age.” The system, invented by digital product designer Ryder Carroll, allows users to turn a blank notebook into a to-do list, diary, notebook, and sketchbook. The bullet journal is especially helpful for those with tasks coming from multiple directions, and who need an organized plan of action that favors rapid-fire note-taking and prioritization. With the increasing number of technological ways to store information, it is nice to see the traditional blank notebook receiving fresh attention.

While the blank notebook basks in the limelight, I thought it might be fitting to discuss the commonplace book, the long tradition of using a blank notebook for storing and organizing information for later use. The commonplace book differs from bullet journals in that it is devoted to knowledge-making, and not necessarily planning out one’s life. A commonplace book is not a journal at all, as John Locke writes: “Commonplace books, it must be stressed, are not journals, which are chronological and introspective.”

The commonplace book is an excellent tool for readers, helping memorialize words, phrases, quotes, passages, and images. Further, it creates an accessible reference book you can use forever and pass along to others. After providing an introduction to the commonplace book tradition, I will introduce my own experiences to help you start your own commonplace book. Like the bullet journal, you only need a blank notebook and a pen.

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James Blake’s commonplace book on constructing sundials (1745). Image credit: archive.org

What is a Commonplace Book?

A commonplace book “contains a collection of significant or well-known passages that have been copied and organized in some way, often under topical or thematic headings, in order to serve as a memory aid or reference for the compiler” (Harvard University Libraries). These books are traditionally handwritten and may include drawings and clippings from outside sources. Organization is as unique as the writer, but information is arranged so as to ensure accessibility. As writer and poet Jonathon Swift explains in “A Letter of Advice to a Young Poet,” the commonplace book keeps the remarkable in our memory:

A COMMON-PLACE BOOK IS WHAT A PROVIDENT POET CANNOT SUBSIST WITHOUT, FOR THIS PROVERBIAL REASON, THAT “GREAT WITS HAVE SHORT MEMORIES;” AND WHEREAS, ON THE OTHER HAND, POETS BEING LIARS BY PROFESSION, OUGHT TO HAVE GOOD MEMORIES. TO RECONCILE THESE, A BOOK OF THIS SORT IS IN THE NATURE OF A SUPPLEMENTAL MEMORY; OR A RECORD OF WHAT OCCURS REMARKABLE IN EVERY DAY’S READING OR CONVERSATION.

Commonplace books are a tradition spanning from the Middle Ages to today. The concept originated from commonplaces in ancient Greece and Rome, categories under which orators could place ideas, arguments, and rhetorical turn of phrases for later use.  As most concepts in antiquity have, commonplaces would be re-purposed. In the middle ages and early modern period the florilegium (gathering of flowers) collected passages from religious and theological works (Harvard Libraries). The zibaldone appeared in fourteenth century Italy and was used by merchants to keep records of daily life and activities.

Its height of popularity was during the Renaissance and early modern period, where “students and scholars were encouraged to keep commonplace books for study, and printed commonplace books offered models for organizing and arranging excerpts” (Harvard Libraries). Although focused on the individual, commonplace books have been both published and passed down to later generations, a sort of autobiography of the mind.

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A page from a commonplace book to which Patrick Branwell (brother of Emily and Charlotte Bronte) contributed to. Image Credit: University of Texas at Austin.

Many famous thinkers and leaders kept commonplace books, including the following:

  • Horror writer H.P. Lovecraft kept a commonplace book filled with “ideas, images, & quotations hastily jotted down for possible future use in weird fiction.”
  • Thomas Jefferson kept two commonplace books for literary matters and another for legal matters.
  • Writer and activist Nancy Cunard kept a commonplace book full of quotes and poems by her friends.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau shared a commonplace book about poetry.
  • American suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton kept a commonplace book with “private notes, correspondence (to and from Elizabeth Cady Stanton), diaristic writings, literary transcriptions, and pasted-in engravings of various European tourist sites.”
  • Scientist Carl Linnaeus kept commonplace books to help systematize his findings.
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Elizabeth Cady Stranton’s Commonplace Book (1831). Image Credit: Archive.org.

How to Create A Commonplace Book: One Example

To keep a commonplace book you only need a blank notebook and a writing utensil; the content and arrangement is up to you as the compiler. I found my method has been developed through time and influenced by other commonplace books. Thus, I thought my own experience with this genre might provide you some ideas for starting your own.

As a child, I spent a lot of my time researching paranormal history and reading ghost stories and folklore. I was overwhelmed by the terminology and theories, and began keeping a notebook filled with handwritten notes, drawings, and articles I printed from the internet. It wasn’t until later in life that I realized I was participating in the tradition of commonplace books. I still, to this day, keep a commonplace book on the occult.

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My Commonplace Book. I was researching Ouija boards and then haunted bridges.

When I approach a blank commonplace book, I designate two sections in the front (table of contents) and back (glossary). Then, I number the pages accordingly. Whenever I am ready to start a new subject of inquiry, I write a title in bold at the top of the new page and make sure I repeat that title in my table of contents. Other practices I have developed over time include:

  • Instead of a glossary (in some cases), I made text boxes with key terms throughout the book, and then made an index in the back with the words and page numbers.
  • For information that doesn’t fit into a current section and does not warrant a new section (I call this “purgatory information”), I write it on a post-it and place it on the inside back cover. When its time has come, I simply move the the post-it to its new section.
  • To highlight key materials, I use highlighting and color-coding.
  • To enhance my understanding of complicated material, I occasionally create visual maps, tables, infographics, etc. For example, when reading about types of ghosts, I created a table that outlined their characteristics into columns.
  • When a desired passage from a source is too long, I am not afraid to print or make copies of the material. I tape or glue it into my commonplace book, and then write notes in the margins or highlight.
  • Materials I include in my “commonplace book pouch”: colored pencils, a nice pen (I like Sharpie black pens), tape, scissors, stickers, and highlighters.
  • I have used different notebooks for different commonplace books. My notebooks are usually lined, because I prefer writing. Though, I have used sketchbooks when my commonplace books incorporate more visuals than text.
  • I always recommend using a sturdy notebook so your commonplace book will last (and may appear in an archive someday).
  • I have been inspired by textbooks, so I often incorporate text boxes, sidebars, headings/subheadings, bulleted lists, etc.
  • I have, inspired by Virginia Woolf, kept a list of books I have read and a list of books to read in some of my commonplace books (as a sort of appendix).

This is one compiler’s approach to keeping a commonplace book. I suggest looking through examples online for ideas (I have linked some examples earlier and there’s archive.org). I also suggest letting your first commonplace be a trial run. You will develop your own unique system over time, and you may create different systems for different types of commonplace books you keep. There are some rather dated guides for writing commonplace books too, if you are so inclined (You could start with Locke’s A New Method of Making Common-Place-Books or Eramus’ De Copia).

In The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future, Robert Darnton speaks to me in regards to why we keep commonplace books:

READING AND WRITING WERE THEREFORE INSEPARABLE ACTIVITIES. THEY BELONGED TO A CONTINUOUS EFFORT TO MAKE SENSE OF THINGS, FOR THE WORLD WAS FULL OF SIGNS: YOU COULD READ YOUR WAY THROUGH IT; AND BY KEEPING AN ACCOUNT OF YOUR READINGS, YOU MADE A BOOK OF YOUR OWN, ONE STAMPED WITH YOUR PERSONALITY.

There is no system for keeping a commonplace book, like the bullet journal. The reasons to keep one are so varied and the subject areas so diverse. And, I fear promoting one might interfere with your own personal “stamp.” Although you’ll be inspired by a mix of compilers, this book in the end will represent you.

Sources

Blair, Ann. “Humanist Methods in Natural Philosophy: The Commonplace Book.” Journal of the History of Ideas, vol. 52, no. 4, 1992, pp. 541-551.

Brueggemann, Brenda Jo. Deaf Subjects: Between Identities and Places. New York University Press, 2009.

“Commonplace Books.” Harvard University Library Open Collections Program

Darnton, Robert. The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future. Public Affairs, 2009.

Locke, John. A New Method of Making Common-Place-Books, 1706.

McKinney, Kelsey. “Social Media: Nothing New? Commonplace Books As Predecessor to Pinterest.” Harry Ransom Center: University of Texas at Austin, 2015.

Swift, Jonathon. “A Letter of Advice to Young Poets.” English Essays: Sidney to Macaulay. The Harvard Classics, 1909–14.

January Hiatus

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While not too much of a shock, the blog is taking a hiatus until February. This will give me time to finish work and school projects, while also giving me the opportunity to plan future posts for this site.

The zine will also be released in February.

Sorry for the delay and thanks for being a friend!

 

My Spooky Christmas Reading List

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This December, I am embracing the holiday spirits. I have decided to (1) read a ghost story every day until Christmas and (2) learn more about the pagan origins of the holiday. Any excuse to buy more books right? The following are books I plan on reading this month. I have also included some online articles for those interested in additional and shorter readings on the season.

My Christmas Bookshelf

Below are books I am hoping to consume or have already this holiday season (except for The Ghosts of Christmas Past and Classic Ghost Stories: Spooky Tales to Read at Christmas which I’m still waiting to have delivered).

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I ordered two books from my favorite online used book seller La Creeperie: Christmas Ghosts and Mistletoe Mayhem. Both books are anthologies filled with short ghost stories. I mostly purchased these books because of the covers. I mean…

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I highly recommend La Creeperie for rare anthologies and some fun covers (along with any horror and occult books you desire). The store gets most of my paycheck. 🙂

My favorite anthologies from the batch are The Valancourt Books of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories. The stories chosen did not overlap with my many other ghost story anthologies, so I was extremely happy. Each story comes with a brief introduction about the author and where it was first published. Each volume also comes with an interesting historical overview of the Victorian tradition of ghost stories at Christmas.

I am also reading some Charles Dickens’ ghost stories for obvious reasons.

In an effort to learn more about the pagan origins of the season, I purchased two Llewellyn books. While I have not had the chance to to read The Old Magic of ChristmasI flew through Yule: Rituals, Recipes & Lore, which is part of their Sabbat Essentials series. Even if you are not a practicing pagan, the book reveals the reasons behind some common traditions and gives you ideas for some new ones.

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I unknowingly read a Christmas ghost story at the very end of November. Richard Matheson’s Hell House is a Christmas ghost story like Die Hard is a Christmas movie. The book follows two mediums, a parapsychologist and his wife on a investigation of the “Mount Everest of Haunted Houses” during the days leading up to Christmas. This novel is a mix between The Haunting of Hill House and Eyes Wide Shut.

My Christmas Internet Favorites

Christmas ghost stories: Dark Christmas by Jeanette Winterson, The Guardian

Ghost stories: why the Victorians were so spookily good at them, The Guardian

Folklore of Food: Traditional Christmas Food, Folklore Thursday 

The Monsters of Christmas, Atlas Obscura 

Happy Holidays! 

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I am sharing the stories I read each day leading up to Christmas on my Instagram stories if you are interested!

In My Commonplace Book: Electromagnetic Fields & Ghosts

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When I was a child with a commonplace book full of ghost research (written in gel pens of course), I asked Santa Claus for an Electromagnetic Field (EMF) detector. I thought I could wave it around my friends’ houses and catch ghosts. I never got one. Bummer.

Flash forward to today: I’m more skeptical than I used to be and I have no idea what EMF means or how it works. So, I did some research for you/us. I am not an expert on the subject or claim to be, so please share any insights or articles in the comments. I’d love to learn more!

The following are notes from my commonplace book.


Definition of EMF: “a physical field produced by electrically charged objects” (Wikipedia).

A more detailed definition of EMF: “Electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) are invisible areas of energy, often referred to as radiation, that are associated with the use of electrical power and various forms of natural and man-made lighting. EMFs are typically characterized by wavelength or frequency into one of two radioactive categories:

What causes it? Where can it come from? EMFs can be produced from conventional power sources: computers, power lines, cell phones, home appliances, x-rays. etc (there’s a nifty chart in this article). Also, the further you are from the EMF-producing source, the less harm it does to you.

What effects does it have on humans? Ghosts?k2emf_animated

EMFs can affect the brain (and body) in many ways: shred your DNA, alter your morality, train you off food and water, cause seizures, etc (io9).

Research shows compelling evidence that EMFs can induce panic, disorientation, deep fear, and hallucinations–all things associated with hauntings. Though, research cannot 100% prove its validity.

One study published by Michael Persinger (a neuroscientist at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada) in a 2001 Perceptual And Motor Skills article followed the experience of a 17-year-old girl who claimed to receive visits from The Holy Spirit. She also felt the presence of an invisible baby on her left shoulder. An investigation revealed that the electric clock she slept 10 inches from was producing “electromagnetic pulses with waveforms similar to those found to trigger epileptic seizures in rats and humans” (Marcus, Scientific American). The clock, along with a minor brain injury in her youth, were the cause of her nocturnal visits. The visions stopped when the clock was removed.

My Commonplace Book
My Commonplace Book

For another study, psychologist Christopher French (Goldsmiths, University of London College in London) created a “haunted” room in an apartment building, which was filled with electromagnetic producers and infrasound generators (it is believed that extremely low frequencies can cause strange experiences). French and his colleagues invited 79 people to spend time inside this dimly lit room, warning them that they might experience some strangeness. Participants were also given a psychological evaluation to understand their paranormal beliefs. French said about their findings: “Most people reported at least some slightly odd sensation, such as a presence or feeling dizzy, and some reported terror, which we hadn’t expected” (Scientific American). French and colleagues could not 100% determine that these feelings were attributed to the EMFs.

Some researchers have also theorized why these alleged hallucinations (hauntings) happen most often at night: “Because of the way the solar wind interacts with the Earth’s magnetosphere, the planet’s magnetic field stretches out on the side that’s in darkness. Some researchers hypothesize that this expanded field interacts more strongly with people’s brains” (How Stuff Works).

Some paranormal investigators will say ghosts cause high EMF levels. Another possibility is that high EMF levels create an ideal environment for actual paranormal activity. I once heard that some paranormal investigators will create high levels of EMF so to produce more activity during an investigation.

Photo by Mar Newhall on Unsplash

31 Days of Spooky Short Stories

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This October I had many hours of reading time available as I was recovering from surgery (I’m feeling great, by the way). I thought I would give myself a challenge: read a spooky short story each day this October.

I had no method when choosing a story each day. Sometimes, I would reread an old favorite. Sometimes, I would randomly choose a title from the table of contents. Sometimes, I thought a title was seductive. Thus, this is not a formulated reading list or one I would put forth as canonical. It was just random fun!

I shared my choice each day on my Instagram stories, but the entire list is also below. I highlighted a few in orange that were standout favorites (even though I enjoyed most of the stories!).

  1. Mary E. Wilkins-Freeman, “The Shadows on the Wall”
  2. M.R. James, “Casting the Runes”
  3. Lady Wilde, “The Horned Women”
  4. Amelia B. Edwards, “The Phantom Coach”
  5. T.E.D. Klein, “The Events at Poroth Farm”
  6. Louisa May Alcott, “Lost in the Pyramid, Or the Mummy’s Curse”
  7. Edgar Allan Poe, “The Oval Portrait”
  8. Wilkie Collins, “The Dream Woman”
  9. Richard Matheson & Richard Christian Matheson, “Where There’s A Will”
  10. Robert Louis Stevenson, “The Body-Snatcher”
  11. Ray Bradbury, “Heavy Set”
  12. Mark Twain, “A Ghost Story”
  13. J.S. LeFanu, “An Authentic Narrative of a Haunted House”
  14. Washington Irving, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”
  15. Tennessee Williams, “The Vengeance of Nitocris”
  16. H.P. Lovecraft, “The Evil Clergyman”
  17. Charles Dickens, “The Lawyer and the Ghost”
  18. Lisa Tuttle, “The Third Person”
  19. Bram Stoker, “The Judge’s House”
  20. Washington Irving, “The Adventure of the German Student”
  21. Tanith Lee ,”Perfidious Amber”
  22. Richard Matheson, “Long Distance Call”
  23. Jerome K. Jerome, “The Haunted Mill or the Ruined Home”
  24. M.R. James, “Lost Hearts”
  25. Fritz Leiber, “The Girl with the Hungry Eyes”
  26. Kelley Armstrong, “Dead Flowers by the Roadside”
  27. Sharon Webb, “Threshold”
  28. J.S. LeFanu, “The White Cat of Drumgunniol”
  29. Manly Wade Wellman, “School for the Unspeakable”
  30. E. G. Swain, “Bone to His Bone” 
  31. Alvin Schwartz, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (read multiple short stories in this one)

Hope y’all had a great Halloween!

In My Commonplace Book: A Ghost Writer, Literally

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In Bag of Bones, Stephen King writes “The muses are ghosts, and sometimes they come uninvited.” In this case I share today, the disembodied muse was very much invited, through means of the Ouija board. This is the story of the spirit Patience Worth and her earthly transcriber Pearl Lenore Curran.

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Pearl Curran

I came across this story on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries. You can watch the episode here (the Patience Worth segment is at the 23:39 mark). Anyway, onto the story…

Many of the sources I came across portrayed Pearl Lenore Curran (1883-1937) as a rather basic woman with less than average intelligence. While she never fulfilled her dreams of becoming a singer, this housewife began her journey into stardom on July 8, 1913 when she received a message through the Ouija board.

Many moons ago I lived. Again I come—Patience Worth my name.

From that point on, Pearl began to receive words, messages, and prose from beyond. At first she had to use the Ouija board, but soon the words would appear without the use of ritual.

Patience Worth’s spirit came into this world when spiritualism provided unique power to women and was accepted by many (one notable example is Arthur Conan Doyle). Yet, it was under the scrutiny of science and Houdini. Nevertheless, this was an opportune time for a woman and a disembodied voice to make a splash in the literary world.

Together, Patience and Pearl wrote several novels (The Sorry Tale, Telka, Hope Trueblood, The Pot Upon the Wheel, Samuel Wheaton, An Elisebethan Mask), short stories, and poems. Their work received positive reviews. As Smithsonian Magazine writes:

“Patience Worth[’s] messages out of the darkness never sink to the commonplace level, but always show high intelligence and sometimes are even tipped with the flame of genius,” said the New York Times, echoing other newspaper reviews across the country.

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My commonplace book entry

While many found the literature of Pearl and Patience remarkable, other literary critics and scientists thought it was unimaginative and/or a fraud. Several psychologists and scientific researchers studied the phenomenon. Was Pearl smarter than she was putting off? Who was really writing this material? Is there life after death?

While I could go on all day about this, there are already two excellent articles (below) that go into great detail about Patience and Pearl.  I have also included some works by Pearl and Patience (maybe you can decide their literary worth). I recommend reading/browsing through them and writing notes in your own commonplace book!

I’d like to, though, finish with the death of Pearl Curran. It is a very curious story. The last (documented) communication with Pearl was November 25, 1937. Pearl told her friend Dotsie:

Oh Dotsie, Patience has just shown me the end of the road and you will have to carry on as best you can. 

Pearl died shortly after: December 3, 1937.

 

Additional Reading (Free Online)

The Public Domain Review, “Ghostwriter and Ghost: The Strange Case of Pearl Curran & Patience Worth”

Smithsonian, “Patience Worth: Author from the Great Beyond”

 

Works Published About Pearl During Her Life (Free Online)

Casper Yost’s Patience Worth: a Psychic Mystery (1916)

Walter Franklin Prince’s The case of Patience Worth; a critical study of certain unusual phenomena (1927) 

 

Pearl/Patience’s Works (Free Online)

A Sorry Tale (1917)

Hope Trueblood (1918)

The Pot upon the Wheel (1921)

Telka (1928)

Some selected poems 

 

Sign Up for Zine of Ghosts

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In November December, I am releasing a digital zine for download (PDF and EPUB) along with an additional tiny zine you can print, fold, and put in your pocket. I will continue offering zines every two months! This is all FREE.

All you need to do is sign up to join my zine email list!

I’ll offer teasers on Instagram and Twitter.

Photo by Neven Krcmarek on Unsplash

Well, It’s October…

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It is finally October, the best month of the year and the beginning of Halloween (because it is a season, not just a day). I have already blew my paycheck on Halloween decor and pumpkin everything (cookies, tea, body cream, candles, figurines, etc). I am just so damn excited and wanted to share a quick glimpse into my daily spooky life outside the notebook.

I made a cemetery terrarium or a cemeterrariumI am always saying I wish our property had a small cemetery, so I decided to create one. I found some small figurines (a cat, gravestones, skulls, and bones) at Michael’s (a craft store) and plants from my local greenhouse and my yard. This is my first of many. I plan on putting some of the bones and skulls in the soil to create the look of buried bodies with the next one. You might also consider adding small LED fairy lights and/or glow-in-the-dark fillers/sand.

IMG-8297.JPGI have decided to read a spooky short story each day this October. The short story is my favorite genre and I have so many anthologies on occult fiction. I really have no plan; I am just picking up a book and reading what grabs my attention. I will post a final list early November, but will share what I’m reading daily in my Instagram stories.

Since most of my October involves surgery recovery and a couch, I’m really excited about Turner Classic Movies’ Halloween Marathon (here is the schedule). I will also be reading through past collections of Jezebel readers’ scary stories (all the links are on my Library page).

I have been buying so many Halloween items to decorate my writing space (for the entire year). Below are some pictures. Not pictured: my ridiculous drawer full of Halloween office supplies and stickers.

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Snow globe from TJ Maxx
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Ouija Board Tray from Target / Candle holder from TJ Maxx
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Ridiculous naked ghost only wearing boots from Target

What have you been doing to get in the Halloween spirit? 

In My Commonplace Book: Two Mausoleums and a Bottle of Wine

IMG-8001I was recently invited to a friend’s home on a Wine Wednesday to share some ghost stories . She thought a live version of my #humpdayhaunts series (on Instagram) would pair well with wine.

This was my first time being a “guest speaker” on a paranormal subject, so I was very anxious! I decided to narrow down my subject to Indiana ghost stories. I also used the opportunity to find new material. For a few nights, I put aside time to fill my commonplace book with Hoosier folklore.

The night of the event, I came equipped with homemade bookmarks, zines on Haunted Indiana bridges, my commonplace book, and pictures for my “presentation.” I thought if I bored them to death, I could at least send them home with some goods.

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I shared about five ghost stories with two focused on mausoleums (because I love a haunted mausoleum). Funny enough, both haunted mausoleums are located in Highland Lawn Cemetery in Terre Haute, IN (which I’ve added to my cemetery bucket list).

Well, I’ll get to it…

Sheets Mausoleum

So, there was a wealthy businessman named Martin Sheets who lived in Terre Haute in the 1900s. Martin had an intense fear of being buried alive. He had a reoccurring dream that he was unable to move or scream when the doctor pronounced him dead, and he then regained consciousness in a coffin deep in the dirt. Luckily, Martin had some money to insure this did not happen.

Martin first had a coffin custom made with latches on the inside, so he could easily open his coffin. To make sure he didn’t have the pressure of dirt on his coffin lid, he had a mausoleum built. Lastly, he had a phone installed in the mausoleum that could make calls to the cemetery’s main office. Imagine getting that call: “Hi, y’all. It’s Martin. Can you come get me? I seem to have been buried alive.”

In 1910, Marin died and was placed in his mausoleum. The phone connected to the cemetery office until they got a new phone system, but they did keep the phone connected and active (it was in his will and paid for after all).

Several years later, Martin’s wife passed. She was found dead in her home, clutching her telephone tightly. Family members assumed she was calling for help. They held a funeral and prepared her to join her deceased husband in the mausoleum.

When cemetery workers went to place her coffin in the mausoleum, nothing seemed unusual or out of place…except that the phone was off the hook and hanging from the wall…

Did Martin call his wife from beyond the grave?

Heinl Mausoleum and Stiffy Green

In 1920, an elderly man named John Heinl passed away. The citizens of Terre Haute liked him very much, but his dog loved him the most. Wherever John went, so did the dog. Everyone in town called the dog “Stiffy Green,” because he had green eyes and walked with a stiff leg.

When John died, he was placed in a mausoleum and Stiffy Green was placed with a friend. The mournful dog would run away often and was always found on the steps of his deceased owner’s mausoleum. Eventually, everyone decided it would be best if Stiffy Green just became a cemetery dog.

Stiffy spent the end of his days in the cemetery and, when he passed away, was stuffed and placed next to the tomb of his owner.

Several months after Stiffy Green’s death, the cemetery caretaker heard a dog barking on the way to his car. He instantly recognized it as Stiffy Green’s bark and it was coming from the direction of John’s mausoleum. People also reported seeing the figure of an old man strolling the cemetery with a small phantom bulldog following along.

Both stories are some fun Indiana folklore. Please note there are multiple versions of each story and some details have been proven false over time. But, I’m not here to ruin a perfectly good story.