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Some Real American Ghosts

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Taken from The Modern Library of the World's Best Books' The Best Ghost Stories - now copyright expired and in the public domain


(Philadelphia _Press_, Sept. 13, 1896)

A case in point is the Benton, Indiana, ghost, which is attracting much attention. It has been seen and investigated by many people with reputations for intelligence and good sense, but so far no explanation of the strange appearance has been found.

A farmer named John W. French and his wife were the first to see this apparition. They live in the country near Benton, and were driving home one night from a neighbor's. The road passed an old church, moss-covered and surrounded by a graveyard, overgrown with shrubbery and filled with the bones of hundreds who once tilled the soil in the locality. Ten years ago an aged man who lived alone not far from the old church and visited the graveyard almost daily to pray over the resting place of some relative was foully murdered for the store of gold he was supposed to have hidden about his hermit abode. The robbers and murderers escaped justice, and the luckless graybeard was buried in the graveyard where he spent so much time. Just as French and his wife drew within sight of the white headstones in the churchyard the horses reared back on their haunches and snorted in terror. French was alarmed, and suspecting highwaymen had been scented by the horses, he reached for a shotgun which lay in the bottom of the wagon for just such an emergency. But before his hand touched it he was startled by a scream from his wife. Clutching his arm she pointed straight ahead and gasped: "Look, John, look!"

Far down the road, just beside the glimmering monuments of the old graveyard, he saw an apparition. It was that of a man with a long white beard sweeping over his breast. The figure appeared to be eight feet in height and in one hand it carried a club, such as the brains of the old man had been beaten out with ten years before. Slowly raising one arm the ghost with a majestic sweep beckoned French to come ahead. He was too startled to do anything except try to restrain the prancing horses, which were straining at the harness in attempts to break away and run. A cold sweat started out all over the body of the farmer as he realized that he was at last looking at a ghost, and then the sound of his wife's voice came to him begging him to return the way they had come and escape the doom which seemed impending. French was still too much scared and excited to control the horses, and as he gazed steadfastly at the fearful white object in the road it slowly began to move toward the wagon. The club was now raised to its shoulder, as a soldier carries a rifle, and it seemed to move forward without touching the ground, like a winged thing.

Then the farmer recovered his faculties and, whirling his team around, he lashed the horses into a run and began the trip to the house of the friend he had just left. When they arrived there both the man and his wife were almost fainting from fright.

The next man to see the ghost was Milton Moon. He had the reputation for being not only a man of intelligence but one without fear. His experience was much the same as that of the Frenches and it brought about several investigations by parties of citizens. In each case they saw and were convinced of the actual presence of the ghost without being able to discover any satisfactory explanation.


(Philadelphia _Press_, Oct. 2, 1898)

The Capitol at Washington is probably the most thoroughly haunted building in the world.

Not less than fifteen well-authenticated ghosts infest it, and some of them are of a more than ordinarily alarming character.

What particularly inspires this last remark is the fact that the Demon Cat is said to have made its appearance again, after many years of absence. This is a truly horrific apparition, and no viewless specter such as the invisible grimalkin that even now trips people up on the stairs of the old mansion which President Madison and his wife, Dolly, occupied, at the corner of Eighteenth Street and New York Avenue, after the White House was burned by the British. That, indeed, is altogether another story; but the feline spook of the Capitol possesses attributes much more remarkable, inasmuch as it has the appearance of an ordinary pussy when first seen, and presently swells up to the size of an elephant before the eyes of the terrified observer.