Second wives often find their marriages haunted by the first wife, metaphorically and—in the cases I share today—literally.
During a recent newspaper archival session on a Saturday night, I fell down a new rabbit hole: first wives haunting second wives. These first wives cannot rest in peace while their husbands and children welcome a new woman into their home. Sometimes, these spooky spouses are successful in separating the living couples.
I was finding article after article, filling up my commonplace book. Below are five of these articles with images of the clipping and accompanying OCR text.
I have more newspaper stories about deceased wives haunting their successors. I will be sharing more in a printable zine coming this April. Stay tuned. 👻
“Ghost of His First Wife Throws a Flat Iron at No.2” (1922)
OCR: GHOST OF HIS FIRST WIFE THROWS FLAT IRON AT NO. 2. MERIDEN, Conn. March 10—Rheingold Kirshstein is a ghost victim night and dav. All night he worries lest the ghost of his first wife return and throw another flatiron at her successor. All day he frets over newspaper reports from Nova Scotia, where a ghost taming scientist, newspaper reporters, camera men and natives are complaining because the local spook refuses to return to his regular haunt. Kirtshstein cannot understand their attitude toward ghosts.
He is serious about it. and so is Rev-Willis Samuel F. Glaser, pastor of St John’s Lutheran Church. The pastor heard the reports of Kirshstein and Mrs. Kirshstein and the three Kirshstein children by Mrs Kirshstein No. 1 and felt impelled to exercise the priestly office of exorcising evil spirits. The ghost of Mrs Kirshstein No. 1 was banished by something.
Kirshstein’s first wife died in January, 1921, and in July he married a young German girl who had been a war nurse at home and came over to visit relatives in Bridgeport. In November Mrs Kirshstein No. 2 told her husband that a wraith that passed through walls, doors, and ceilings and has been around, acting very hostile.
She said she “knew it was the ghost of Mrs K. No. 1. Kirshstein did not want ‘ 1 believe that and stalled off the Inevi-the table till Feb 8. Then Mrs K. No. 2 reported the wraith had been around again and had wound up an unpleasant call by picking up a flatiron and throwing it at Mrs K. No. 2.
The Boston Globe, Boston, Massachusetts, Sat, Mar 11, 1922 (Page 6)
“Ghost of First Wife Scrambled His Honeymoon” (1923)
OCR: GHOST OP FIRST WIFE SCRAMBLED HIS HONEYMOON (By the Associated Press) WHITE I’LAINS, N.Y,. Dec, 22.—”On the second night of our’ honeymoon, my husband told me that he would have to leave me because he was haunted by the spirit of his first wife.”
This statement together with other evidences of incompatibility she related to Supreme Court Justice Tompkins here today resulted in a separation decree for Mrs. Ida Chabet Wesier, thirty and attractive.
She married Samuel Wciser. president of the Arnherst Knitting Mills September 7 and immediately after the ceremony left on a honeymoon. On the night of September 8, while at-Millwood, Pa., Mrs. Weiser says he told her about the return of his first wife’s spirit and the next morning she left him to live with her sister.
After a few days, according to Weiser, her husband came around asking forgiveness and she returned with him to his home in this city but upon arrival there his son, seventeen and daughter, fifteen, shunned her and asked her how dare she marry their father without sisters, consent. She returned to her sisters, then, and repulsed Weiser’s subsequent attempts to affect a reconciliation.
The Bee, Danville, Virginia, Mon, Dec 24, 1923 (Page 9)
“Ghost of First Wife Haunts Second Wife Into a Divorce” (1911)
Quick note. Although the title says first and second wife, the accompanying text says it was actually the second and third wife.
OCR: Ghost of First Wife Haunts Second Wife Into a Divorce.
Wealthy Philadelphian sue’ for divorce. On the left is Mrs. Ethel Coles Dodge, now deceased, who was the second wife of Walter Phelps Dodge, the wealthy Philadelphian. On the right is Mrs. Helen Steck Dodge, the third wife of Dodge, who is now suing him for divorce. Below is Walter Phelps Dodge. Mrs. Dodge No. 3 said she was haunted out of her marital happiness by the “ghost” of her immediate predecessor. She averred that more than $50,000 worth of jewelry which had been given to her by Dodge had been gradually taken away from her because, as she said, her husband told her that he had been commanded to do so by the wraith of his second wife.
El Paso Herald, El Paso, Texas, Thu, Oct 19, 1911 (Page 19)
“Ghost Breaks Up Home” (1911)
OCR: GHOST BREAKS UP HOME It Visited Husband, So Wife Asks A Divorce. Hutchinson, Kac. Dec. 1—Because her husband persisted in seeing the ghost of his wife hanging around the house, it got on the nerves of Mrs. F. II. Wahl. of Neckorson. She stood it as long as she could, however, but now, the family having recently moved from Nickerson to Oklahoma City, she has brought proceeding in the court at the latter city for a legal separation.
The court has awarded her $2,000 alimony and the custody of her minor son. According to the story as told by a press dispatch from Oklahoma City her husband tried to frighten her by saying that his first wife was haunting her, after which he poured out a cupful of carbolic acid before her and threatened to drink it, and “end it all.”
Mrs. Wahl is an attractive look ing woman and her husband seemed to be insanely jealous cf her. for she says that he was continually accus- in her of indiscreations with other men, 11 of which she denies. She alleges that he woke her up in the middle of the night, told her that his first wife was in the room haunting her cn account of her unfaithfulness, and that he then slipped outside and knocked on the window.. He then came back into the room, poured out a cupful of carbolic acid, and, raising it to his lips, threatened to drink it.
Dissatisfied with farm life, ne moved her to Gairviel, Okla.,. then to Nickerson, Kas., and then a short time ago to Oklahoma City. During this time, she states that it was nothing unusa! for him to throw her out of bed, strike her and kick her. She says that he bought a flat wonh fl.’i.OOO at Oklahoma City, and ordered her to show the apartments to callers. When she would show her own room, he would acuse her of undue familiarity with the callers, and when she would not, he would berate her for not doing her duty by him.
The Salina Daily Union, Salina, Kansas, Fri, Dec 1, 1911 (Page 1)
First Wife’s Ghost Halts Chinese Wedding” (1924)
OCR: FIRST WIFE’S GHOST HALTS CHINESE WEDDING (By Associated Press to Tribune-Herald) PEKING—Claiming that she was pushed by the ghost of her prospective husband’s deceased wife, a Chinese bride-to-be caused a sensation in the street outside Hatamen gate recently by leaping from the bridal sedan chair in which she was being conveyed to her prospective husband’s home.
As the girl sat weeping in the dust she explained to the go-between representing the groom’s family, and to the crowd which gathered, that as she was entering the chair at her own home she observed a disheveled woman following her. Suddenly she felt herself propelled out of the chair. She felt convinced, she said, that she was under the spell of the first wife who naturally felt annoyed at seeing her former place about to be usurped. After much persuasion the bride was induced to’ proceed to the ceremony, and there was no further mishap.
Hawaii Tribune-Herald, Hilo, Hawaii, Fri, Jul 18, 1924 (Page 5)