Ghosts in My Family Tree (Part I)

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My mother and I have recently started to build our family tree and my first thought was: Ohhhh. I wonder if I’m related to an actual ghost?! In this two-part series, I explore two haunted stories I came across during my genealogy research. We will start with The She-Wolf of France.

About the She-Wolf

I will briefly touch on the life of Isabella of France as (1) I am still learning about her and (2) much of her biography is contested. Isabella of France (1295 – 22 August 1358) was queen consort of Edward II of England and played a key role in his disposition in 1327.

After King Edward II’s favorite Piers Gaveston (earl of Cornwall) was murdered by a jealous baron in 1312, Isabella tried to make peace between the king and the rest of the barons. Instead, Edward started hanging out with the Despenser family and Isabella was not a fan. In 1325, she refused to return to England after taking a trip to France (with her son, Edward III) to handle a dispute. During her time away, she became Roger Mortimer of Wigmore’s mistress

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Isabella landing in England with her son, the future Edward III in 1326 // Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

In 1326, Isabella, her lover, and some barons invaded England. The Despensers fell and Edward II’s throne was taken away. Edward was eventually murdered and Roger Mortimer (and Isabella) were implicated. During this chaotic time, Mortimer basically ruled as king and made a lot of people angry. In 1330, Edward III (King Edward II’s son) had him seized, put in the Tower, named a traitor, and hanged.

Edward III basically sent his mother into retirement, ending up at Castle Rising Castle in Norfolk. It is a common misconception that Isabella was a prisoner. She actually roamed around and enjoyed “regal splendor” (Jones 74). According to legend, she was “racked by violent dementia” (Jones 74) and/or possibly had a breakdown due to the death of her lover. This is where the haunting comes in. 

Her Ghost

Although she died at Hertford Castle (also haunted), Isabella haunts Castle Rising where “the echoes of her last troubled years are still said to rebound through the corridors of the Castle” (Jones 74). Visitors have heard hysterical laughter. The village nearby has also heard screams and laughter coming from the castle in the early morning hours.

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Engraving of the ruined keep in 1782, by William Byrne // Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

I hope I can stay in the village someday and wake up to the sound of my very distant grandma’s ghost screaming into the morning.

Sources

Encyclopedia Britannica 

Johns, Richard. Haunted Castles of Britain and Ireland. London, New Holland Publishers, 2005.

More Haunted Cemetery Statues in the United States

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I recently shared two haunted cemetery statues on my Instagram during my weekly #humpdayhaunts post. This took me down a spooky rabbit hole on the internet.

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I know, I'm very late with #humpdayhaunts. SImply put: I've been tired! But I'm here now with two haunted cemetery statues from Texas (see my Stories for images). Flora Charlotte Kemp (1890-1910) is buried in Riverside Cemetery in Wichita Falls, Texas. Her grave is marked with a beautiful monument of a woman walking down a short set of stairs. Local lore says Flora died on her wedding day when she tripped, fell down the stairs, and broke her neck. Local records say she died of typhoid fever. Regardless, the statue is called "The Crying Bride" and it is rumored to cry. 👻 In Forest Lawn Cemetery of Beaumont, Texas stands a life-size statue of a couple hold each other's arms and looking towards the sky. If you are brave enough, take your car to the drive behind the cemetery at night. Then, shine your brights on the statue and wait. According to Weird Texas: "Witnesses have reported seeing the girl's face turning sideways toward her lover as his white marbled arms reach around to caress her back and the two share a long, spectral kiss." According to one internet comment: after the statues kissed, the man turned and looked at the witnesses. Sweet and spooky! 📖: Find a Grave, Weird Texas (online) 👻 I added a link in my Stories to a blog post on haunted cemetery statues if you’re interested! 👻 . . . . . #halloween #halloweeneveryday #halloween365 #ghost #ghosts #haunted #spooky #halloweencollector #autumn #fall #october #hauntedplaces #october31st #halloweencountdown #trickortreat #pumpkin #halloweenobsessed #autumnnights #autumnvibes🍁 #bookworm #booknerd #ghoststories #texas #cemetery_lovers #cemetery #taphophile #graveyard #paranormal #supernatural

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I have covered this topic before on the blog, but I thought I might quickly share some more haunted cemetery statues. I got a lot of these statues from one of my favorite websites: www.hauntedplaces.org. This website allows users to submit haunted locations and other users can share their experiences, ask questions, and/or share their perspective. My favorite feature of the website? The Random button. Click it and you will get a random haunted location. Mindless spooky fun.

With that said, I always try to find other sources to verify the legend (making sure it was not pull out of nowhere, that it has been established as lore). Regardless, it is a fun and interactive archive of ghost stories.

Some (More) Cemetery Statues

  • A statue of a woman comes to life and drowns herself in the nearby lake at La Belle Cemetery (Oconomowoc, Wisconsin). Legend says she died the same way. Some say the statue’s hands drip blood.
  • In Logan Cemetery (Logan, Utah) a statue of a woman weeps for her eight children. Legend says they passed after their father cursed them. Others say she lost her children to illness.
  • If you stand under a certain angel statue in Evergreen Cemetery (Judsonia, Arkansa) and stare into her eyes, they might turn red.
  • In Brunswick, New York’s Forest Park Cemetery (Pinewoods Cemetery), a decapitated statue bleeds from the neck.
  • A mausoleum in Greenwood Cemetery (Muscatine, Iowa) holds a statue of kneeling woman with her right arm stretched forward. The statue is called the Blue Angel because a cobalt blue window behind her sometimes gives her a blue glow. Some say if you see the blue light hit the statue, you will receive good luck. If she comes alive, you might die. Some say she comes alive to chase away vandals. Her right hand is missing and it once held a rose. It was believed that if you witnessed her drop the rose at midnight on Halloween, you will die. Allegedly, someone took matters into their own hands and cut off the hand holding the rose. Although, visitors report still seeing the hand holding a rose.
  • A statue moves around at night in the back of Memory Gardens (Rensselaer, Indiana). The statue’s head, arms, or entire body will move to keep watch on people walking by. Maybe the statue is protecting the graves. Be on your best behavior!

For fun, here’s another cemetery statue from an old #humpdayhaunts.

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#humpdayhaunts | If you visit Elmwood Cemetery in the small town of Centralia, IL at night, you might hear sweet violin music. This otherworldly music is from “Violin Annie,” a full-sized statue of a young girl standing atop a large memorial. She holds a violin and bow (though I’ve read the bow has been broken by vandals). 🎻 The monument was built for Harriet Annie Marshall (Sept 7, 1879 – Sept 30, 1890), a girl that died of diphtheria at age 11. During her short time on earth, she was always attached to her violin. Some say she was the best violinist in the area. 🎻 The specifics of her hauntings depend on who you ask. Sometimes she only plays for a certain hour or on a certain day. Some think her statue glows on #Halloween night. One internet user complained that Violin Annie, like the 7 Gates of Hell, is a complete waste of time. 🎻 The cemetery was originally called Centralia Cemetery and was established in 1877.

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Stay safe my friends!

Related Post: Haunted Cemetery Statues in the United States

 

Photo by Haley Owens on Unsplash

In My Commonplace Book: Grave Bombs

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When visiting any cemetery, I like to do my research. My research on Mount Hope Cemetery of Logansport, Indiana revealed an interesting bit of history. Yes, I have heard about the various methods used to protect graves from graverobbers, but I never knew graves were sometimes protected with bombs. Yes, bombs.

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From the 1939 article in the Pharos-Tribune (From Newspapers.com)

According to an 1939 article in Logansport’s Pharos-Tribune, gravediggers found a bomb  in Mount Hope Cemetery that had been buried with Catherine Grabel Huntley in 1885. The article explains this mechanism:

It is understood that metal were placed beneath the surface the burial lots and wires, attached to the mechanism, were stretched across the grave so that when “grave ghouls” attempted to dig into the freshly made mound to procure a body, their shovel or spade would come in contact with one of the wires, causing the to explode.

During the “reign” of the “grave ghouls” many such devices were placed in cemeteries of the county by relatives of deceased persons as a protection against possible loss of the newly buried body.

The bomb found in Mount Hope was turned over to the family, then eventually handed over to police to “tap” the device so to avoid any dangerous explosions. A hole was drilled into the bomb, exposing a black powder. The powder, having lost some of its effectiveness, still would have burned. The bomb eventually ended up with Cass County Historical Society in Logansport.

Sources

“Grave Bomb is Located in Cemetery.” Logansport Pharos-Tribune, 15 Dec 1939, LINK.

Kirk, Mitchell. “Blasts from the past: Bombs once necessary to protect area’s graves.” Kokomo Tribune, 1 May 2105, LINK.

 

Indiana Cemeteries: Mount Hope

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This past weekend, I visited Mount Hope Cemetery in Logansport, Indiana. The city is named for James Renick-Logan (“Captain Logan”), a scout (of debated background) who served under William Henry Harrison in the War of 1812. When it was incorporated in 1838, they chose the name Logan’s Port as the city was a port on the Wabash Erie Canal. The city’s slogan, “Where two rivers meet” speaks to the junction of the Eel and Wabash Rivers. Along with river transportation, the historic Michigan Road and several freight train routes run through Logansport

Logansport is home to a Dentzel Carousel, a national historic landmark. I remember riding the carousel as a young child, lifting my arm high to grab a brass ring. During this visit, I would not be grabbing brass rings, but visiting a (supposedly) haunted cemetery.

About the Cemetery

Mount Hope Cemetery is reportedly the third largest cemetery in Indiana with 200 acres. The cemetery came into existence in 1854, but also includes the 9th Street Cemetery which started in 1828.

I learned something very cool about this cemetery, but I’ll talk about that more in my next post!

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About The Haunting

According to very casual internet research, this cemetery may be haunted. Paranormal activity includes:

  • the sound of galloping horses
  • the sound of cannon fire (there are canons next to the war memorial, see above)
  • the sound of whistles (especially in response to your own whistling)
  • inscriptions in/on the mausoleums which read “Knock three times and they shall come.”

I did not witness anything (whomp whomp).

Cemetery Highlights

I wrap up this post with some photographic highlights from my visit. First, I was intrigued by this gate memorial. “In Christian funerary symbolism,” Douglas Keister writes in Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography, “gates represent the passage from one realm to the next” (116). I love how the gate appears to be opening, welcoming William B. Lanchester to heaven.

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There were a number of treestones (see bottom right of picture below), but I unfortunately was enjoying them too much to get photos. I guess I will have to make another visit (no complaints here). Popular to the Midwest, treestones (or tree stumps) were very popular from the 1880s to about 1905 (Kiester 65). According to Kiester:

Where one treestone is seen, often many will be found, suggesting that their popularity may have been tied to particularly aggressive monument dealer in the area or a ready local supply of limestone, which was the carving material of choice. Treestones could also be ordered from Sears and Roebuck. (65)

While I’m not sure the reasoning for the treestones of Mount Hope, I did find that piece of history very interesting!

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I couldn’t help but notice this large and deep columbarium.

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The cemetery also had a number of beautiful mausoleums. I loved the beautiful gates!

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Thanks for coming along on my tour. Cannot wait to share more after my second visit.

Sources

City of Logansport Cemetery website

Johnston, Courtney. “These 8 Haunted Cemeteries in Indiana Are Not For the Faint of Heart.” Only in Your State, 20 July 2016. 

Keister, Douglas. Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography. Gibbs Smith, 2004.

Logansport – Cass County Chamber of Commerce website 

“Logansport, Indiana.” Wikipedia 

“Mount Hope Cemetery.” Hauntedplaces.org

 

 

It Wasn’t Ghosts (Part III)

erik-muller-zrfD9aVUVsU-unsplashHello! I’m back with ghost hoaxes and false spirits from the newspaper archives. If you haven’t yet, check out Part I & Part II.

Today’s stories have a theme: pipes.

What’s in the Oil Well?

Tales of a haunted oil well on the edge of Rosedale Cemetery in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania spread in 1910. Residents reported hearing “blood-curdling groans” and desperate pleas: Help! Let me out! I’m being smothered!

A party decided to investigate as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports:

It was found that a pipe extended from the casing of the well back into the woods. A member of the Investigating party groaned into the pipe. His colleagues at the well almost jumped out of their shoes. The groans, apparently, came from far down in the earth. The mystery was solved. 

Even though they found the hoaxer’s tool, the hoaxer was never identified.

Source: 23 September 1910, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (pg. 2)

“A Pipe Dream”

Residents of Joplin, Missouri found out their local ghost story was just “a pipe dream” according to the Joplin Globe (1929). A disembodied voice that sounded like it was coming from the “bowels of the earth” was repeatedly heard near a cottage at 12th Street and Michigan Avenue. A ghost moving around in a pasture next to the cottage was also reported. The cause? Child’s play!

A brother and sister found that talking into a drainage pipe in their yard would frighten their playmates and neighbors as it created spooky sounds. The kids even took it to the next level by creating a ghost with a broomstick and a sheet.

Source: 27 August 1929, Joplin Globe, Joplin, Missouri (pg. 2)

Who knew pipes were so good for supernatural tricks!

 

Photo by Erik Müller on Unsplash

Happy Valentine’s Day: Breakup Via Séance

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In February of 1956, newspapers across the United States—from New York to California—told the story of a relationship between a British girl and a ghost ending after a séance.

A three-week “out of this world” romance between a pretty cockney bobby-soxer and her poltergeist boyfriend was over yesterday—or at least her family hoped it was.

Three weeks before the séance, 15-year-old Shirley Hitchings of London met her ghost sweetheart through tappings on her bedroom wall. Shirley first felt his presence, then the tappings began. She had set up an alphabet card and was able to decipher his messages. His name was Donald and he was from New Zealand. Shirley was scared at first but, as she told reporters, “[…] I realized there was nothing to be afraid of. It was a feeling of love, and not fear that surrounded Donald.”

The tapping communication worked like so. One tap meant “yes.” Two taps meant “no.” Three taps meant “I don’t know.” Then, using the alphabet card, Shirley and Donald were able to talk using more complex messages. She would point at letters and he would tap when she reached the next letter to spell out words, as if her finger where a sort of planchette.

So things started off pretty sweet, but teenage love can get complicated. “It was great fun having a ghost for a boyfriend after I got used to it,” Shirley said, “But it got kind of complicated when he started throwing furniture around.” The noise woke up her father and alerted the family to the paranormal romance. Her grandmother put up a crucifix in her bedroom, but things just got worse. Donald threw more objects, including a clock.

The family, fed up with this violent boyfriend, decided to throw a séance.  It was quite the event. Three mediums, including spiritualist Harry Hanks, a crowd of newsmen, and “angry” police were all in attendance.  The one-hour seance, though, was pretty anti-climatic as no objects were thrown (the rowdy newsmen were making more of a racket than Donald). Rather, Shirley felt a sudden feeling of being free. She was reluctant to end things with Donald, but decided it was for the best after the séance. She felt happy.

Shirley’s father was relieved to have his quiet nights back (as he told reporters through a yawn). What was next for Donald? Well, Shirley’s father told reporters he would probably have to get a job.

Source: “Seance Ends Romance With Ghost,” The Troy Record, February 24, 1956, page 34.

More Valentine’s Day Reading

Mourners Find Love in a Cemetery

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Since Valentine’s Day is this Friday, I thought I might share some romantic content. During my research in the newspaper archives, I found two stories about mourners falling in love with cemetery employees.

“Aged Couple Married in Cemetery Romance,” Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, July 19, 1945

Mrs. Thoresca Cartisser (age 72) married Louis Schafer (age 74) in a simple ceremony on July 18, 1945. The bride wore lavender with matching posies in her straw hat. The two met at St. George’s Cemetery in Pittsburgh. Cartisser was visiting her second husband’s grave (“dressed in mourning black”) and Schafer was the cemetery caretaker. The romance began with walks and then led into phone calls from Schafer to Cartissser’s residence. Along with their age, the article explains, they both had the German language in common (she was from Austria and he was from Germany). In addition, they were both married twice before.

“Romance In Cemetery: Gravedigger Wins Widow at Grave of Husband,” East Oregonian, August 16, 1909

Charles Kramer, the oldest gravedigger of the Evergreen Cemetery in New York, “has probably dug more graves than any other man living in this city.” He fell in love and “wooed” Mrs. Theresa Furman, having spotted her during her daily visits to her late husband’s grave.

Every time Mrs. Furman appeared at her husband’s grave, Kramer, somehow or other, always succeeded in being ahead of her. He carried water for her. helped her plant flowers and did other little things, all of which aided him later when the time to propose to the Widow Furman arrived.

A few weeks later they were married and the gravedigger moved in with Mrs. Furman and her stepson James Weigand and son William Furman. One night, Kramer got into a quarrel with the sons over a “trifling matter.” The next night he received a blow when entering the home: “biff! something struck me over the head. It appeared to me as is some one was intent upon slipping me into one of the holes I had dug that day.”

The gravedigger left the matter alone, only to be hit again:

Last night I was going into the house when something fell on my head again. I heard some one say, ‘We hit him square that time,’ and disappear. I thought at first the house had fallen on me. but later discovered that it was nothing more than a good sized baseball bat.

Well, as you’ve probably figured out, it was the two sons. They were held on $100 bail. Kramer just went back to doing what he does best: “Evergreen’s champion grave digger then hurried to his place of employment, announcing that he had a ‘little job of digging a few graves’ waiting for him.”

I am not sure of the effect this incident had on the marriage of the mourner and gravedigger as the article just ends with no mention of Mrs. Theresa Furman.

Sorry to end on a depressing note. If you can handle it, check out my past Valentine’s Day post on ghost stories of tragic love. 

 

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The Haunted Hollow Tree of Indianapolis

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It’s me, coming up for air from the spooky newspaper archives with a story for my fellow Hoosiers.

Today we are taking a float down Pogue’s Run, an urban creek in Indianapolis that starts at the intersection of Elizabeth Street and Lennington Drive and empties into the White River south of the Kentucky Avenue Bridge (Wikipedia). Running two-and-a-half miles, the creek is named after George Pogue, a settler who mysteriously disappeared. “Every few decades,” according to Atlas Obscura, “when unclaimed human bones turn up, there’s speculation that they might be Pogue’s.” But, I’m not here to talk about that mystery.

In March 1889, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (page 3) shares the peculiar legend of a haunted hollow tree in Pogue’s Run Bottom (near the creek). There’s a tree nicknamed “Gallows Tree” and neighborhood children believe it is the home of a ghost. Legend tells of a body that was found hanging from the tree during the war:

“Soldiers who climbed the tree to cut down the body found a curiously concealed opening into the tree. It was instantly concluded that the hollow interior of the elm should be the place of sepulchure. The body was lowered into the hollow tree, but apparently it struck no bottom. Certainly it gave forth no sound in falling. It may have been that the dust and accumulation of rotted particles of the tree’s heart had made a soft, deep bed within so that no sound of the falling body came forth. Or was it possible that the spreading roots of the elm walled in a deep ‘cave of the winds’ or well? At any rate, nothing was heard when the body tumbled to its uncertain grave.” 

Over time, city development began to surround the tree, but the sounds of history could still be heard. Citizens could hear “mournful sounds of distress” when they walked by the tree. One day, a group of boys were playing with a ball when it knocked into the tree. The ball disappeared! To retrieve the ball, the boy hit the tree with a bat causing “horrible moans of pain.” The boys scattered.

One of the boys later returned to investigate, climbing high up the tree: “He was about to call out his discovery when a terrific blast from the cavern smote him and took away bis breath. There was mingled with the roar of the wind the rattle of voices and the moans of despair.” The boy barely escaped getting sucked into the tree, losing his hat in the process.

So what the heck? The article concludes with some theories: “Is it not possible that buried treasures lie under the tree, vainly seeking all these years to testify by these mysterious methods to its rich presence? Or is is the tortured spirit of the murdered man seeking rest and finding none?”

What do you think?

It Wasn’t Ghosts (Part II)

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I am back with more debunked ghost stories from the newspaper archives. If you missed the first post, click here. In part II, I share ghost hoaxes executed by children.

“She Was Lonely”

I will start with the sad story first. Paranormal activity was reported in the Henry Thacker home of Louisville, Kentucky (1952). Stories of household objects floating and boxes sailing across the room brought in curious visitors and press. County Patrolman Russell McDaniel and Jack Fisher noticed the activity centered around 11-year-old Joyce. Joyce and her sisters were staying with the family as their mother was terminally ill with cancer and their father was not around. She admitted to the patrolmen that she in fact threw objects when no one was looking. The girl told police,”It made a lot of people come to see me.”

Source: January 1952, Denton Record-Chronicle, Denton, Texas (pg. 10)

It Wasn’t Mr. Albright

On March 16, 1916, The Republic of Meyersdale, Pennsylvania reported the alleged haunting of a recently deceased Mr. Jonathan Albright. The veteran’s ghost was said to have driven his family out their home (in Meyersdale) on two occasions. “On one occasion several weeks ago, ” The Republic reports, “the family averred, he came and stood at the head of the stairs and ordered them all out of the house, They were so frightened by his austere manner and stern command that they all ran to the home of Andrew Lehman nearby […].”

The next week (March 23, 1916), The Republic published an update. It seems the ghost was not Mr. Albright, but a poodle. The Republic explains, “The ghost story originated by some children dressing up a poodle dog and propping the animal up in bed, so that he resembled an old man, and then calling Mrs. Albright and telling her there was a man in bed upstairs.” A scared Mrs. Albright ran out of the house and told neighbors of her sighting. The story spread.

Source: March 16, 1916 (pg.1) & March 23, 1916 (pg.1), The Republic, Meyersdale, Pennsylvania

 

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#HumpDayHaunts: A Deathbed Confession

For those who don’t know, I post haunted history every Wednesday on my Instagram. I wanted to share this week’s post, which is another find from the newspapers archives. Make sure to give me a follow for future posts.

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If you've been reading my blog, you know I've been diving into those newspaper archives. Today’s #humpdayhaunts is a recent discovery from Indiana. Please note: this involves the murder of a child. ▪️I came across an article titled "BLUE EYES OF POISONED CHILD HAUNTED THE DYING MOTHER." Below the title reads: "And Tortured the Soul Into a Worldly Confession. The Prattling Lips And Tiny Fingers Beckoned Her Across the Dark River." ▪️ The Bedford Daily Mail (1905) reported that a former resident of Bedford, IN admitted to murdering her three-year-old daughter 20 years ago. While on her deathbed in Bloomington, Indiana, Mrs. John Lynch confessed to her awful crime twice. In her first confession, she pulled her sister aside and between gasps of breath said, "You know once,—a long time ago—I had a sweet little baby girl named Maude. I bought for me a dimes worth of morphine in Bedford, saying that I wanted it to cure the headache for myself. I did not use it—I gave it to my dear little girl baby." She had placed morphine in a cup of water when her daughter requested a drink. Mrs. Lynch (then MIss Cline) told the doctor and everyone her daughter died from eating acorns from the yard. Mrs. Lynch, because she had the child out of wedlock, wanted to remove the sweet child from her life. She would later marry a man, a man clueless of her crime. ▪️ The confession was brought on by repeated visits from her daughter’s ghost. The newspaper reports: "For years the very smiles and twinkling eyes of the little girl have haunted the mother day and night […] until she could see the child enter the door and approach her as she lay on her dying bed." ▪️ The former house of the mother and daughter was also reported by neighbors to be haunted. Activity included: “noises and spiritual forms seen lurking at night within its shadows." 📸: Unsplash / 📖: The Bedford Daily Mail, 21 August 1905 . . . . . #history #hauntedhistory #folklore #indiana #ghost #ghosts #haunted #hauntedplaces #truecrime #mfm #supernatural #paranormalinvestigating

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