Notebook of Ghosts Going Forward

Well, hello. I have been on a short break, because I had a lot of important things to focus on. This hiatus, like many of my hiatuses, gave me a chance to reflect on what Notebook of Ghosts means to me going forward. As of now, I’m enjoying three things the most: (1) archival research with old newspapers; (2) Indiana hauntings and folklore; and (3) commonplace books. Thus, this will be my focus going forward (until my next hiatus 😉).

I am also lowering the bar in terms of scheduling. The reason is twofold: I want to enjoy what I am doing and I want to work on it until I am finished. With that said, I have a very loose goal of posting on this blog monthly. I will post on my other blog, It Was Not a Ghost, monthly as well.

I will (try to) post #humdayhaunts on my Instagram weekly.

Anyway. I am not going anywhere, just pivoting.

A Very Quick History of Santa Claus, Indiana

OK, this is not about ghosts, but it is about the Christmas Spirit in Indiana.

Santa Claus, Indiana is a town located in the southwestern part of Indiana. Around 2,500 people live in the town (not including the elves, I’m sure) and it hosts Christmas-related attractions throughout the year. 

Starting as a modest farming settlement of German immigrants, the town was eventually established in 1854 with the (not so) original name of Sante Fe. A few years later, the town was large enough to warrant a post office and they submitted an application to the Post Office Department. They rejected it, because “Santa Fe” was already taken. In order to obtain a post office, the town held several meetings and settled on a new name: Santa Claus. The post office was established in 1856. 

That, of course, is one version of the story. According to legend, townsfolk were gathered around a fire in a log church on Christmas Eve. While the children played, the adults discussed the issue of choosing a new town name. All of a sudden, the church doors flew up and the sound of distant sleigh bells were heard by all. The excited children ran to the door and shouted “Santa Claus! Santa Claus!” It was a sign and the new name was chosen ( 

The post office is by far the most popular location in town as it receives many letters for Santa Claus from children during Christmastime. About 200 volunteers answer about 20,000 letters a year (Indianapolis Star). This tradition began in 1914 when postmaster James Martin started responding to letters. In 1929, Robert Ripley of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! took notice and featured the town in a cartoon strip. 

During my newspaper research, I found some discussion during January of 1930 regarding the post office. Due to an influx of letters to Santa Claus, Indiana, the Post Office Department thought it might be best to change the town name. I came across many articles and letters pleading for the name to stay the same. Luckily, Santa Claus, Indiana is still alive and well. 

Source: The Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis, Indiana, 23 Jan 1932, p. 8.

The attention from Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! brought many to the town, but they were disappointed to see only a post office. Postmaster James Martin teamed up with Vincennes attorney Milton Harris to develop the concept for a theme park named “Santa Claus Town.” The first attraction in this town was Santa’s Candy Castle, which was dedicated on December 22, 1935. The building was a red brick castle sponsored by the creator of Babe Ruth and Butterfinger, The Curtiss Candy Company. Santa’s Workshop and Toy Village were later added with major sponsorships included. 

During World War II, the focus in manufacturing switched to the production of war goods. Santa Claus Town would lose sponsors and Harris died in 1950 before he was able to bring Santa Claus Town to its original jolly glory. Other owners attempted to bring back the Christmas spirit, but the park finally closed in the 1970s. Luckily, new owners purchased Santa’s Candy Castle and reopened it in 2006. It one again a successful venture and was even featured on the Travel Channel.

This history of Santa Claus Town was provided by the Santa’s Candy Castle website (which is cute by the way) and is very much true, but there is one other possible reason the park had issues.

Days after the dedication of Santa Claus Town, a 25-foot Saint Nick—purportedly made of granite—went up on an adjacent hill. Chicago businessman Carl Barrett had purchased land in the hopes of creating his own Santa Claus “Park”, and annulling Harris’ rights to the property he’d leased. A crack in the “granite” showed the statue to be concrete; and a struggle for market share in the town’s holiday business followed suit. (Indiana Public Media

So Harris and Barrett entered a legal battle, which made its way to the Indiana Supreme Court. The headline “Too Many Santa Clauses” appeared in publications such as Business Week and Newsweek. As you can imagine, this cost both men money and time. Both Santa parks eventually fell into decline. 

In 1946, a new park named Santa Claus Land opened and is still open today, but under the name Holiday World & Splashin Sarfari.  The park was originally Christmas themed but added other sections over time devoted to the other holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July. 

Hope you enjoyed this short break from my usual spooky content. Merry Christmas! 👻🧑‍🎄


Hays, Holly V. “From heartwarming to heartbreaking, these Christmas letters end up in Santa Claus, Indiana.” Indianapolis Star, 17 Dec 2019.  

“Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari.” Wikipedia. 

“The History Of Santa’s Candy Castle.” Santa’s Candy Castle.  

“The Story of Santa Claus, Indiana.” Santa Claus, Indiana website. 

“Too Many Santas.” Moment of Indiana History from Indiana Public Media. “Santa Claus, Indiana.” Wikipedia.

#25SpookyStories: A 2021 Christmas Reading Challenge

Nothing satisfies us on Christmas Eve but to hear each other tell authentic anecdotes about spectres. It is a genial, festive season, and we love to muse upon graves, and dead bodies, and murders, and blood. – Jerome K. Jerome, Told After Supper (1891)

Follow us on Instagram! @notebookofghosts & @thisissianellis

Christmas is a time for ghost stories. It’s true! The tradition of telling ghost stories around Christmas time probably came before the holiday itself and definitely before the commercialized version of today.  The origins, as Kat Eschner writes, are “about darker, older, more fundamental things: winter, death, rebirth, and the rapt connection between a teller and his or her audience. But they’re packaged in the cozy trappings of the holiday.” The tradition never really made it over to America (Puritans ruin the party again), but ghost stories around Christmas were especially popular in 19th Century British books, periodicals, homes, and theatres. In 2017, Ghostland author Colin Dickey made a call to resurrect the tradition of telling ghost stories on Christmas, so I’m challenging y’all to read 25 ghost (or just scary) stories this Christmas season (or 12). Maybe you’ll read them in your comfy chair with hot chocolate or wassail. Maybe you’ll read the stories aloud around the fire with family and friends. Whatever you need to do to bring this tradition back to life and hopefully start a new spooky tradition in your home. (To learn more, please check out the articles below that ground this tradition in interesting historical research.)

If you participated in #31SpookyStories, it is basically the same thing. You’ll read 25 spooky short stories each day this December until Christmas. Or, you can choose to read 12 spooky short stories (for the 12 Days of Christmas).

Below I have provided some books and FREE sites where you can find some spooky Christmas stories (I’ll continue to update this list throughout December). Feel free to read whatever spooky stories you want, Christmas-themed and otherwise.

Your reading style and availability may be different than mine, so I gave the challenge additional options:

  • You might read from one anthology/story collection or multiple anthologies/story collections.
  • You might double, triple, or quadtrouple stories on slow days or makeup days. You could read 25 (or 12) stories in one week.
  • You might choose to read fiction and/or nonfiction spooky stories.

The goal of this? To have fun, resurrect an old tradition, and to introduce yourself to new writers. Below are some progress sheets, social media information, some sources on the history on the tradition, and possible stories to read.

Documenting Your Reads

There are many ways to keep track of your stories, whether privately in a notebook or publicly on social media. This year spooky artist Sian Ellis was kind enough to create printable progress sheets for both challenges. I recommend printing the sheets!

And, what better way to save your page than with one of Sian’s bookmarks (though you’ll find yourself putting multiple items in your cart). Make sure to follow my cohost Sian on Instagram (@thisissianellis)!

Join the Fun on Instagram

Some challenge readers (me included) will be sharing our daily reads on social media. Follow me (@notebookofghosts) for fun Story templates, my daily reads, available anthologies from some of my favorite online sellers, and more!

We’ll be using the hashtag #25SpookyStories!

Some History About the Tradition

Books You Might Purchase


FREE Reading List

Below are links to some anthologies online. I haven’t read all of these, so I’m sorry for the lame ones! 🙂  Please note: Most of these links take you to Project Gutenberg, which gives you multiple formats to read it in. HTML is best for reading on your computer. You can also send it to your Kindle (I use this email method). 

Happy Reading!

#31SpookyStories: October 2021 Reading Challenge

For the past few years many committed to reading 13 or 31 spooky short stories during the month of October. This challenge is not only doable, but it is accessible as I provide free resources. I find this tradition an excellent way to introduce yourself to new writers, folklore, genres, and more.

What makes this year especially spooky is my new co-host: Sian Ellis! Sian was kind enough to design spooky progress sheets. They are an easy and fun way to keep track of your stories, whether you are doing 13 or 31 stories this October.

There’s not wrong or right way to complete this challenge. When choosing the next story for this challenge, I usually grab one of my favorite short story anthologies and randomly pick a story. I usually read nonfiction pieces and I never go a challenge without reading M.R. James. Your reading style, interests, and availability may be different than mine, so I gave the challenge additional options:

  • You might read from one anthology/story collection or multiple anthologies/story collections.
  • You might double, triple, or quadtrouple stories on slow days or makeup days. Heck, you could read 31 stories in one week. I find I read most my stories on the weekend.
  • You might choose to read fiction and/or nonfiction spooky stories.
  • You might not have time for 31 stories, so let’s swap the numbers around and make it 13.
  • You might choose to participate with your children (I sprinkled in some children’s books below).

Make this challenge your own. I look forward to seeing what you do with it and what stories you recommend! 👻

Join the Fun on Instagram

Some challenge readers (me included) will be sharing on social media. Follow me (@notebookofghosts) for reading templates, my daily reads, available anthologies from some of my favorite online sellers, and more! 

We’ll be using the hashtag #31SpookyStories!

Documenting Your Reads

There are many ways to keep track of your stories, whether privately in a notebook or publicly on social media. This year spooky artist Sian Ellis was kind enough to create printable progress sheets for both challenges.

And, what better way to save your page than with one of Sian’s bookmarks (though you’ll find yourself putting multiple items in your cart). Make sure to follow my cohost Sian on Instagram (@thisissianellis)!

If you would like to share your reads on social media, here are some ways:

  • Post your daily reads (story, story writer, book title, and book editors) on Twitter or in your Instagram stories. Instagram users: I made you templates. Just check my highlights! You might also create your only highlight to archive your daily reads!
  • Share a picture of your book piles periodically.
  • Share your method for picking stories.
  • Write down and share your favorite stories.

Recommendations for Fiction

(That aren’t already in the Free Section)

Recommendations for Nonfiction

Free Stories

Below are links to some anthologies online. I haven’t read all of these, so I’m sorry for the lame ones! Please note: Most of these links take you to Project Gutenberg, which gives you multiple formats to read it in. HTML is best for reading on your computer. You can also send it to your Kindle (I use this email method). 

Keep Notes in a Commonplace Book

Commonplace books are an excellent tool for writing down your favorite quotes and excerpts! To learn more about commonplace books, read this post (and this post). To learn more about keeping a Halloween commonplace book, read this post.

I look forward to reading along with you. Feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments below!

Happy Reading!

Some Haunted Trees in the United States

According to folklore, people are advised to touch wood when threatened by evil. What should one do when the wood itself is the source of evil? Hopefully, we won’t have to find out (Knock on wood! Sorry.). For now, we can explore haunted trees from the safety of our own computers. 

In this post, I explore haunted trees throughout the United States. 

The Devil’s Tree (New Jersey) 

A lone oak tree in Somersot County, New Jersey is believed to be cursed and is linked to the KKK and/or a homicidal farmer. 

Whatever the origin story, the tree should be avoided. If you speak ill of the tree, you may face dangerous consequences (such as car accident). If you get too close to the tree, you may be chased away by a black Ford pickup truck. 

The tree is warm to touch even during the winter and the ground near it cannot hold snow. 

The tree still stands with a chain fence wrapped around its trunk to protect it from ongoing vandalism. You have to be pretty bold to vandalize that tree. 

Sources: Wikipedia, Weird NJ 

The Trunkless Tree (Iowa) 

According to internet lore, a strange supernatural phenomenon occurs at Campbell Cemetery in Bertram, Iowa. If you visit the cemetery at night and turn off your headlights, you might be able to witness what looks like a tree floating in the air without a trunk. 


The Oak Tree (California) 

A giant oak tree provides shade for old stone ruins outside Beaumont, California, serving as a local hangout for teenagers. Rumors have circulated for many years that the place is haunted and was once home to a witch. People have allegedly heard voices and seen apparitions. 

In July of 2011, the body of Christine Kunstmann (age 44) was found in a shallow grave under the tree. In 2015, the case was finally solved and three individuals were arrested for murder. 

Sources:, LA Times, The Sun, CBS Los Angeles

The Fairchild Oak Tree (Florida) 

In Ormond Beach, Florida’s Bulow Creek State Park sits a 400-year-old oak tree called The Fairchild Oak (of the botanist’s namesake). Two deaths are associated with the tree, allegedly. James Ormond II, who lived close by, was found dead under the tree (case of death unknown). The second death was the suicide of Norman Harwood over mounting debts. People have supposedly seen the apparition of man who causes onlookers to feel overwhelming sadness. 

Sources:, Only In Your State

Whispering Tree (Philadelphia) 

In 1893, newspapers reported the legend of “The Whispering Tree” in Pittsburgh, a maple tree which sat at the edge of a stream.

Murmuring would come from the tree at night, especially at midnight on Halloween. Local teenagers visited the tree for thrills, believing it was the site of a murder. A local attorney, J.H. Maxwell, was sick of all the tree gossip so he took matters into his own hands and chopped down the tree with an ax. 

The fallen tree’s rings revealed it was over 150 years old. Upon further inspection, Maxwell also found 70 (yes 70) old-fashioned bullets at about the height of five feet. 

He also found two hollowed streaks which served as a type of runway for stream water, which traveled up one streak and down the other. It was concluded that the water was making the whispering noises. 

The cause of the bullets? We will never know. 

Source: Chicago Tribune via The Clarke County Democrat, Grove Hill, Alabama, 02 Nov 1893 (pg. 2)

Spirit of Her Daughter (New York) 

An elm tree in Prospect Park of Brooklyn is marked by a silver plaque reading “Nellie.” Nellie Howard died in the 1800s while on a European tour. 

Her father was a member of the firm Howard, Sanger & Co., and she was a notable figure in social circles. As a child she enjoyed drives through the park and always admired the tall elm tree, constantly commenting on its beauty. During her illness, she reminisced about the elm tree and her last words were about spending time under its branches. 

After her death, her mother was drawn to the elm tree and later became convinced her daughter’s spirit lived in the tree. It should be of note that the mother is “not a Pantheist, neither is she a follower of any of the ‘crank’ creeds which have of late set the social world a-wobbling […]” (haha). 

Source: Lake Superior Citizen, Ironwood, Michigan, 21 Jul 1894, Sat  (pg. 3)

The Haunted Apple Tree (Massachusetts) 

Legend tells of a haunted apple tree in Douglass, Massachusetts. The story goes that a traveling salesman stopped to rest under a tree in an apple orchard. Someone, believed to be the property’s farmer, brutally murdered the salesman. He was found under the tree with a gash in his neck. The farmer later moved away because he was followed by the spirit of his victim. 

Locals report seeing a man standing under the apple tree, one hand on his neck and the other hand reaching out for help. His cries can be heard a mile away. The apple tree he was killed under only produces apples with streaks of red, like blood. 

Source: The Cheyenne Sunbeam, Cheyenne, Oklahoma, 05 Oct 1900 (pg. 2) 

Featured Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Paranormal Research Groups: Society for Psychical Research

In this series, I will be “sharing my notes” on various paranormal research groups. Each post will usually include key facts, a brief introduction, notable cases, and an introduction to a notable member. Feel free to jot down notes in your commonplace book.

Founding Date: 1882
Location: London, England
Research Focus: all forms of paranormal cognition (examples: clairvoyance, telepathy); paranormal action (examples: poltergeist, teleportation); altered states of consciousness (examples: hypnotic trance, near-death experiences); physic sensitivity or mediumship; life after death 
Research Methods and Tools: scientific research; randomized studies, psychology, empirical studies, conceptional studies, laboratory experiments

Introduction – The Beginning

The Society for Psychical Research (SPR) was founded in 1882 for the “purpose of investigating mesmeric, psychical and ‘spiritualist’ phenomena in a purely scientific spirit” (SPR). This came at a time when science was challenging religious worldviews and the spiritualist movement opened many to paranormal possibilities. Think seances and ectoplasm! 

Before the official SPR, there was the “Sidgwick group,” which was an informal group of upper class individuals interested in researching Spiritualism’s claims. The key figures in the beginning were all Fellows at Trinity College at Cambridge: Henry Sidgwick, Frederic W.H. Myers, and Edmund Gurney. Henry also married Eleanor Balfour of the Balfour family, a prominent Scottish family (fancy, fancy). Eventually this group merged with others pursuing similar work, including other scientific thinkers and spiritualists, to form the SPR. 

With a group full of prominent and educated people, it is no surprise they attracted people like Arthur Conan Doyle, William James, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and more.  By 1900, the group had published over 11,000 pages of research (Guiley) and, in 1885, they helped found the American Society for Psychical Research. 

Ok, let’s get to the drama. 

By 1887, many spiritualists had left the group. You see, when an organization’s research cannot prove life after death and is revealing many mediums are frauds, spiritualist members wonder what the heck they are doing there. 

A very notorious exit was Arthur Conan Doyle. He wrote a letter of resignation after medium William Hope was called a fraud in the organization’s publication by member Theodore Besterman. While he thought Theodore Besterman was reaching, this published report was indicative of his larger issue with SPR research: ‘assertions of the opponents of Spiritualism are at once accepted on their face value without the slightest attempt at discriminate examination’ (Cambridge University Special Collections). Many members followed Doyle. 

The organization, despite internal tension, still remains the leader of psychical research. 

To read an in-depth history, I recommend visiting their About page. 


  • Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research (began in 1882)
  • Journal of the Society for Psychical Research (began in 1884),
  • Paranormal Review (began in 1996; later replaced by Magazine of the Society for Psychical Research)
  • Psi Encyclopedia (This is a fun online resource). 

Notable Members

With such a long and rich history, it is no surprise the SPR has quite the roster. 

  • Henry Sidgwick (founding member, past president); utilitarian philosopher and economist
  • Frederic W.H. Myers (founding member, past president); poet, classicist, philologist
  • Edmund Gurney (founding member); psychologist and parapsychologist
  • Eleanor Mildred Sidgwick (past president);  physics researcher and activist for women in higher education (I wrote a blog post about her once.)  
  • Arthur Conan Doyle; writer of Sherlock Holmes books and medical doctor 
  • William James (past president); philosopher and psychologist
  • Sigmund Freud; neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis
  • Carl Jung (honorary member); psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, founder of analytical psychology
  • Sir Oliver Joseph Lodge (past president); physicist, writer, and psychical researcher 
  • Andrew Lang (past president); poet, novelist, literary critic, collector of folklore and fairy tales 
  • John William Strutt, 3rd Baron Rayleigh (past president); winner of Nobel Prize in Physics 
  • Harry Price; physic researcher, author, established the National Laboratory of Psychical Research (Harry Price established this competing laboratory after leaving SPR. He left SPR due to research conflicts.) 

Notable Cases 

The following cases are notable cases involving hauntings and poltergeist phenomena. They have done some interesting experiments in other areas of inquiry. For time purposes, I will not cover them but recommend you investigate if interested.  

Borley Rectory (1900s). This famous haunted house in England was first investigated by Harry Price (he lived there from 1937 to 1939). His findings were discredited by SPR members. From what I gathered, the SPR thought they should have investigated and not Harry Price (he was not a member). After Price’s death in 1948, three members of SPR investigated his findings: Eric Dingwall, Kathleen M. Goldney, and Trevor H. Hall. They accused Price of fraudulent activity in their book The Haunting of Borley Rectory. Some SPR members did not necessarily agree with the “Borley Report” as they called it, but it seems most of SPR supported it. Paul Tabori (psychical researcher) and Peter Underwood (parapsychologist) defended Price as well. 

Enfield Poltergeist (1977-79).This famous poltergeist case inspired the film Conjuring 2. SPR investigators Maurice Grosse and Guy Lyon Playfair attributed the the activity to childhood pranks but asserted that some of the paranormal phenomena was genuine. 


“Borley Rectory,” Wikipedia

“Challenging Challenger: The Fallout between Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the Society for Psychical Research,” Cambridge University Library Special Collections.

“Enfield Poltergeist,” Wikipedia

Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits. New York: Facts on File, 1992. 

“Our History,” Society for Psychical Research Website

Psi Encyclopedia. 

“Society for Psychical Research,” Wikipedia.

Paranormal Research Groups: The Ghost Research Society

In this series, I will be “sharing my notes” on various paranormal research groups. Each post will usually include key facts, a brief introduction, notable cases, and an introduction to a notable member. Feel free to jot down notes in your commonplace book. Today we start with The Ghost Research Society.

Founding Date: Late 1970s
Location: Oak Lawn, Illinois
Research Focus: ghosts, hauntings, poltergeists, survival after death
Research Methods and Tools: tape recorders, still cameras, video cameras, psychics


The Ghost Research Society was founded in 1970s Chicago by Martin V. Riccardo, a hypnotherapist and founder of the Vampire Studies information clearinghouse. This lay organization’s initial name was Ghost Tracker’s Club, but was changed in 1981. The following year, Dale Kaczmarek (see more below) became president. Kaczmarek also served as the editor of the society’s journal The Ghost Tracker’s Newsletter (back issues are available for purchase on their website).

Though their research focus is Chicago and northern Indiana, their membership is international. If you ever visit Chicago, you might even take one of their ghost tours!

They usually investigate private residences, oftentimes involving individuals with a Roman Catholic background. They have studied how the Catholic faith influences witnesses’ perceptions of paranormal experiences.

The Ghost Research Society has one of the largest collections of spirit photography and is experienced in analyzing them via computer technology.

Notable Cases

The Ghost Research Society investigated Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery, located in the suburbs of Chicago. Burials in the cemetery possibly began around the early 1800s. Workers killed working on the Illinois and Michigan Canal are said to be buried there. Further, it is rumored to have been a dumping ground for the Chicago crime families of the 1920/30s. So, already some interesting folklore. Paranormal legends and alleged activity include:

  • A White Lady carries around a baby on the full moon. 
  • The ghost of a farmer and his plow have been seen. He allegedly died in a farming accident. 
  • A phantom farmhouse seems to float, shrinking in size as visitors approach it. 
  • A black dog has been reported near the entrance, disappearing when visitors approach him.

You can read about the history of the cemetery and the Ghost Research Society’s investigation here. A notable piece of evidence from their investigation is a photograph of the cemetery’s “weeping woman,” often called “the girl on the gravestone” (You can see the image here. I wasn’t sure about copyright.). The Ghost Research Society describes the photo’s history on their website:

After the film was processed, it was discovered that on one frame there was the unmistakable image of a strange woman sitting on a checkerboard tombstone in an old-fashioned turn-of-the-century, full-length dress.  She had long brown hair and was staring off in the distance in profile.  On closer examination, parts of her body are semi-transparent, especially her head and legs.  Everyone on the team was stunned with this revelation as it seemed to coincide with the electromagnetic deviations team members were experiencing at the time.  It is one of the clearest images this author has ever seen to date! It was taken by Jude Huff-Felz.

For a list of other research sites, along with detailed descriptions of their research experiences, click here.

Notable Member: Dale Kaczmarek

You cannot talk about the Ghost Research Society without talking about longtime president Dale Kaczmarek (born 1952), as he greatly influences their theories and methodologies. Below is a brief bulleted summary of his paranormal theories and practices. 

  • He has a twofold definition of ghosts, which falls into two categories: ghosts and apparitions.  Ghosts include disembodied spirits of deceased people and “phantom replays” (Guiley 184). Ghosts have no recognizable forms, but manifest as sounds, smells, and sensations. Phantom replays “are lingering vibrations of events in certain locations that can be sensed by certain persons under as yet unknown conditions” (Guiley 184). On the other hand, apparitions are recognizable and lifelike. They take the form of humans, animals, or objects. 
  • Poltergeists are not non-physical entities, but rather “psychic explosions” of human agents. Usually these agents are females (adolescent to late teen). 
  • 90 percent of the spirit photographs analyzed by the Ghost Research Society have natural explanations. 

Up Next: Society of Psychical Research


Ghost Research Society Website 

Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits. New York: Facts on File, 1992. 

“Bachelor Grove Cemetery,” Wikipedia 

My Other Website: It Was Not a Ghost

Have y’all checked out my new website: It Was Not a Ghost? (Don’t worry, Notebook of Ghosts is not going anywhere.)

When looking for ghost stories in the newspaper archives, I would come across ghost stories that ended up being something else entirely. It was not a ghost! It was a robe, paint, moonshine, an odd reflection, a youthful prankster, the wind, and more!

I gathered these (sometimes humorous) stories about non-ghosts and created a new site in addition to this one. I will update the website every other Friday. I posted last Friday (three times actually) and will post next Friday. Head on over and see what you missed!

And, I’m on Twitter (again).

Thanks for the continued support! 👻🖤

Featured Photo by Intricate Explorer on Unsplash

Santa Claude, A Hoosier Hero & Ghost

Claude Herbert, having just returned home from the Spanish-American War, desperately needed a job to care for his newly-widowed mother. Luckily, the Havens and Geddes Department Store was in need of a Santa Claus. Located on Fifth and Wabash in Terre Haute, Indiana, the store was the largest department store in Indiana and took up the entire block.

The Hero

On December 19, 1898, just a few days after being hired, veteran Claude Herbert (aged 18) found himself in the middle of a raging fire. He, along with about thirty children, were in the basement of the building when a incandescent light bulb exploded in a display window. The fire quickly spread.

Claude, while still in character, was successful in leading many children outside to safety. Stories differ on how many times Claude went back into the building, but witnesses can agree on his heroic deeds. According to one account, Claude ran back into the building after a mother screamed that her three-year-old child, Nettie Welch, was still in the building. Claude found the child in Santa’s Chair and carried her out to the safety of her mother.

After saving the children, Herbert shed his Santa Claus suit before going back into the inferno to save trapped sales clerks. On his second to last trip, a bystander shouted to Claude, “Come out, come out.” Claude responded, “No, I’m going back. There’s plenty of time […] and maybe there’s someone down there.” Those he went to rescue in that final attempt had fled from another exit. He, a new employee unfamiliar with the store’s layout, was unable to find this exit before being overtaken by the flames.

Fellow soldiers of Claude’s regiment worked to find Claude in the rubble. What remained of this hero was buried in Highland Lawn Cemetery.

Three other people perished in the fire: firefighter John Osterloo, volunteer firefighter Henry Nehf, and store clerk Katie Maloney. The building was completely demolished (about $2 million in property damage) and other buildings were affected as well.

The Ghost

Visitors of the cemetery have reported seeing orbs around the Herbert family mausoleum, sometimes catching this supernatural phenomenon on camera. Is Claude continuing to protect the people of Terre Haute? I think so.


Bennett, Mark. “Fountain honoring sacrifice by life-saving Santa may return to site of his heroism.” The Tribune Star, 26 Dec 2012.

Hood, Ashley. Haunted Terre Haute. Haunted America, 2019.

Huntington Weekly Herald, Huntington, Indiana, 23 Dec 1898, p. 8.

Featured Photo by Srikanta H. U on Unsplash

Christmas #humpdayhaunts

December at Notebook of Ghosts is sure to be a spooky one! Along with my Patreon site, I have some blog posts planned for this blog. If you would like additional spooky content, I recommend following me on Instagram (notebookofghosts). Every Wednesday, I share haunted history in a series called #humpdayhaunts. This month will be everything CHRISTMAS.

I thought I might gather up past Christmas #humpdayhaunts for your “First Week of December” enjoyment.

Merry Christmas! 👻☃️🎅

Featured Photo by Stéphane Mingot on Unsplash