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Some Real American Ghosts

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(Philadelphia _Press_, June 16, 1889)

In a pretty but old-fashioned house in Stuyvesant square--ghosts like squares, I think--is another ghost. This house stood empty for several years, and about six years ago a gentleman, his wife and little daughter moved in there, and while fitting up allowed the child to play about the empty attic, which had apparently been arranged for a children's playroom long ago. There was a fireplace and a large fireboard in front of it.

When the house was about finished down stairs the mother began to pay more attention to the little girl and tried to keep her down there with her, but the child always stole away and went back up stairs again and again, until finally the mother asked why she liked to go up there so much. She replied that she liked to play with the funny little boy. Investigation showed that it was utterly impossible for any person, man or child, to get in that place or be concealed there, but the little girl insisted and told her parents that he "went in there," pointing to the fireboard.

The parents were seriously concerned, believing that their daughter was telling them an untruth, and threatened to punish her for it, but she insisted so strongly that she saw and played with a "funny little boy, with lots of brass buttons on his jacket," that they finally gave up threatening and resolved to investigate.

The father, who is an old sea captain, found out that this house had been occupied by an Englishman named Cowdery who had had three children--two boys and a girl. One of the boys was an idiot. This idiot was supposed to have fallen into the East River, as his cap was found there, and he had always shown a liking for the river when his nurse took him out. Soon after this Mr. Cowdery moved West.

This was enough for my friend's friend, who had the fireboard taken down, and short work in the wall by the side of the chimney brought the body of the unfortunate idiot boy. The back of his skull was crushed in. He still had the dark blue jacket on, with four rows of buttons on the front. The poor little bones were buried and the affair kept quiet, but the captain left the house.


(Boston _Courier_, Aug. 10)

A very singular story which forms one of the sensational social topics of the day is the best authenticated of the many stories of the supernatural that have been lately told. Only a short time ago a young and well-known artist, Mr. A., was invited to pay a visit to his distinguished friend, Mr. Izzard. The house was filled with guests, but a large and handsome room was placed at his disposal, apparently one of the best in the house. For three days he had a delightful visit; delightful in all particulars save one, he had each night a horrible dream. He dreamed he was--or was really--suddenly awakened by some person entering his room, and in looking around saw the room brilliantly lighted, while at the window stood a lady elegantly attired, in the act of throwing something out. This accomplished, she turned her face toward the only spectator showing a countenance so distorted by evil passions that he was thrilled with horror. Soon the light and the figure with the dreadful face disappeared, leaving the artist suffering from a frightful nightmare. On returning to his city home he was so haunted by the fearful countenance which had for three consecutive nights troubled him, that he made a sketch of it, and so real that the evil expression seemed to horrify every one who saw it. Not a great while after, the artist went to make an evening visit on Mr. Izzard; that gentleman invited him to his picture gallery, as he wished to show him some remarkable, old family portraits. What was Mr. A.'s surprise to recognize among them, in the likeness of a stately, well-dressed lady, the one who had so troubled his slumbers on his previous visit, lacking, however, the revolting, wicked expression. Soon as he saw it he involuntarily exclaimed, "Why, I have seen that lady!" "Indeed!" said Mr. I., smiling, "that is hardly possible, as she died more than a hundred years ago. She was the second wife of my great-grandfather, and reflected anything but credit on the family. She was strongly suspected of having murdered her husband's son by a former marriage, in order to make her own child heir to the property. The unfortunate boy broke his neck in a fall from a window, and there was every reason to believe that he was precipitated from the window by his stepmother." The artist then told his host the circumstances of his thrice-repeated experience, or dream, and sent for his sketch, which, so far as the features were concerned, was identical with the portrait in Mr. Izzard's gallery. The sketch has since been photographed, but from its hideous expression is not very pleasant to look upon.