The Supernatural, Occult & Strange Happenings
A SALT LAKE GHOST
Revists His Old Haunts and Writes a
Touching Letter to the Bar-Keeper
From the Salt Lake Tribune.
The latest sensation in town is the story that the ghost of Bob Riley is
haunting a Second South street saloon. The night watchman on that block
can not be persuaded out of the notion that he did, several nights in succession,
last week, between the hours of twelve and one o'clock, see the spirit of
Riley stalking about the yard in the rear of the Richards building. Another
gentleman, who pooh-poohed the yarn, was taken by the watchman to wait the
coming of the spectre. At about the hour when Riley was killed, the ghost
appeared and walked out of the alley where he was shot. That sceptic now
believes in a future state. A bar keeper on Main street says that on last
Wednesday evening, after everybody had left, and he had closed up his saloon,
he was startled by what seemed to be a slight cold gust of wind in the room,
and on looking up Bob Riley met his gaze, gliding from the front to the
back door. He ventured to speak to the apparition, but it only nodded its
head, and seemed to glide through the wall at the rear end of the bar room.
After leaving the room and getting some distance on his way home, he realized
and almost immediately saw
THE GHOST AT HIS SIDE.
He says it conveys no notion of his feelings to affirm that he was frightened.
The cold perspiration started from every pore in his skin, and he exclaimed.
"Great God, Bob, what do you want!" The spirit vanished; he recovered
his equanimity, and then cursed himself for being a coward. On Thursday
night when the saloon was closed again, and the bar-keeper had, preparatory
to putting away his cash, laid his pocket-book and diary on the bar, he
was frightened by the violent fluttering of the leaves in his diary. He
hurriedly gathered up his money and book and left. Since then on the fly
leaf of that diary he has found written, in Bob Riley's handwriting the
following statement: Dear--You see I am not resting in the grave, nor can
I until my bones are left in peace. It was dark when the Sexton took my
body to Potter's field for burial. But it was watched and "snatched"
before the dirt had settled on the coffin's lid. A young saw-bones is the
heartless wretch and now dissects my festering flesh. My relatives in Alleghany
will come to gather to its final reseting place my dust, but come in vain
unless the perfidy of this soulless fiend can be exposed and my mangled
corpse be reintombed. I will inform you further soon.
Some of Riley's friends are on the search for the remains, and several doctors
who were invited to assist in the dissection have done a deal of talking.
- The Montanian, Virginia City, Montana Terr., March 2, 1876
A Supernatural Phenomenon-Story of a Railroad Engineer.- I was running a
night express train, and had a train of ten cars - eight passenger and two
baggage cars - and were all well loaded. I was behind time, and was very
anxious to make a certain point; thus I was using every exertion, and putting
the engine to the utmost speed to which she was capable. I was on a section
of the road usually considered the best running ground on the line, and
was endeavoring to make the most of it, when a conviction struck me that
I must stop.
Something seemed to tell me that to go ahead was dangerous, and that I must
stop if I would save life. I looked back at my train, and it was all right.
I strained my eyes and peered into the darkness, and could see no signal
of danger, nor anything betokening danger, and there I could see five miles
in day time. I listened to the working of my engine, tried the water, looked
at the gauge, and all was right. I tried to laugh myself out of what I then
considered a childish fear, but, like Banquo's ghost, it would not go down
at my bidding, but grew stronger in its hold upon me.
I thought of the ridicule I would have heaped upon me if I did stop; but
it was all of no avail. The conviction - for by this tme it had ripened
into a conviction - that I must stop, grew stronger, and I shut off and
blew the whistle for breakers according. I came to a dead halt, got off,
and went ahead a little way, without saying anything to anybody what the
matter was. I had a lamp in my hand, and had gone about sixty feet, when
I saw what convinced me that premonitions are sometimes possible. I dropped
the lantern from my nerveless grasp, and sat down upon the track, utterly
unable to stand, for there was a switch the thought of which had never entered
my mind, as it had never been used since I had been on the road, and was
known to be spiked, but was open to lead me off the track. This switch led
into a stone quarry, for whence stone for bridge purposes had been quarried,
and the switch was left there in case stone should be needed at any time,
but it was always locked, and the switch rail spiked.
Yet here it was wide open, and had I not obeyed my premonition-warning-call
it what you will-I should have run into it, and at the end of the track,
only about ten rods long, my heavy engine and train, moving at the rate
of thirty miles per hour, would have come into collision with a solid wall
of rock eighteen feet high. The consequences, had I done so, can neither
be imagined nor described; but they could, by no possibility have been otherwise
than fatally horrid. This is my experience in getting warnings from a source
that I know not and cannot divine. It is a mystery to me - a mystery for
which I am very thankful, however, although I dare not attempt to explain
nor say whence it came.
- Sacramento Daily Union, April 20, 1861.
THE HAUNTED COACH
A Marvelous Story
Once upon a time, having a bit of money left my by an uncle, I found myself
better off than I had been before, and a thought came to me to make myself
better off still.
"Peggy," says I to my wife, "what do you think of buying
a coach and a pair of horses, and setting up on my own account? There's
a lot of money to be made by a smart man with people going home from balls
and theatres, and rainy Sundays at fashionable churches, when the ladies
come out with umbrellas. If you say so, Peggy, I'll spend my windfall on
a coach and horses."
"Do, Simon; it's a grand idea."
So I did.
I went out the next day and began to look for what I wanted.
I'd been examining a fine pair of horses, and was nearly ready to make a
bargain, when a tall gentleman with the hollowest cheeks and the most miserable
countenance I ever saw, touched me on the arm.
"My man," said he, "are you looking for a coach and horses?"
"yes, sir, I am," I said.
"I can show you what you want, if you'll come with me," said he.
I looked at him a moment.
His face was such a face as I never saw before.
I couldn't help it.
But he was splendidly dressed and had a diamond on his finger; a rich man
I should have judged.
"I'm looking for a coach and horses, such as a poor man can afford
to drive for a living," said I. "It's for myself, sir."
"Look here, my man," said he, not looking at me but away at nothing,
as it seemed, "now and then a man of means--a man considered rich by
his friends--wants ready money. In that case he'd rather have it at once
than wait for more. Haggling with dealers don't suite me. I'd rather make
a private, quiet sort of sale, and if you don't make a talk about it, why
you shall have the horses at your own price--the carriage too. You know
I don't want my selling them talked over."
"I see, sir," said I.
And I thought I did.
"All is not gold that glitters," says I to myself. "Here's
a swell in difficulties."
And by this time we were at the door of a handsome house, and he opened
it with his latch-key, and took me through a hall to his garden, out of
which opened a stable and carriage-house.
Well, he had a pair of the best steppers I ever saw, and a carriage that
was a beauty, I can tell you.
"There's a stain on one of the cushions," said he. "We broke
a bottle of port wine there the other day. You won't mind that much, I dare
say; and now name your price and take your bargain."
It was a bargain, for I paid much less than they were worth; and I paid
my money, and he gave me a receipt, and I drove away as proud as a peacock.
That night I went to the railway to wait for passengers, and I picked up
a young clergyman with a lot of baggage who wanted to go to H----. He got
in and I drove away, and nothing happened on the road; but when he alighted
the door of the house he was going to, he said, gravely:
"I made no objection, on account of its being a lady, coachman, but
persons do not usually expect other passengers, if they pay full price."
"Other passengers, sir?" said I. "I don't understand you."
"The young woman," said he, "who is asleep in the coach."
"She's got in unbeknown to me," says I. "I'll see about it."
"No disturbance on my account," said he.
And then the house door opened, and his friends came out.
"I beg that you'll not consider that I objected," he said.
And then the house door closed.
It was quite dark, and I could not see anyone in the carriage when I put
my head in. Then I struck a match.
There was no one inside.
- North San Juan (Cal.) Times, January 26, 1878
A Historical Phenomenon
Just before Major Andre's embarkation for America, he made a journey into
Derbyshire, to pay Miss Seward a visit, and it was arranged that they should
take a pleasure ride to the park. Miss Seward told Andre that besides enjoying
the beauties of the natural scenery, he would there meet some of her most
valued friends, among them Mr. Newton, whom she playfully called her "ministrel,"
and Mr. Cunningham, the curate, whom she regarded as a very elegant poet.
"I had a very strange dream last night," said Mr. Cunningham to
Mr. Newton, while they were awaiting together the arrival of the party,
"and it has haunted me all day, seeming, unlike ordinary dreams, to
be impressed very vividly upon my mind.
"I fancied myself to be in a great forest. The place was strange to
me, and while looking about with some surprise I saw a horseman approaching
with great speed. Just as he reached the spot where I stood, three men rushed
out of a thicket, and seizing his bridle, hurried him away, after closely
searching his person. The countenance of the stranger was a very interesting
and impressive one. I seem to see it now. My sympathy for him was so great
that I awoke. But I presently fell asleep again, and dreamed that I was
standing near a strange city, among thousands of people, and that I saw
the same person I had seen in the wood brought out and suspended to the
gallows. The victim was young, and had a courtly bearing. The influence
and the effects of this dream are somewhat different from any that I ever
Presently Miss Seward arrived with the handsome stranger. Mr. Cunningham
turned pale with a nameless horror as he was presented to Andre, and at
his first opportunity said to Mr. Newton:
"That, sir, was the face I saw in my dream."
- The Montanian, Virginia City, Montana Territory, March 2, 1876
BURIED ALIVE, AND HOW A BODY FEELS
I had been some time ill of a low and lingering fever. My strength gradually
wasted, but the scenes of my life seemed to become more and more acute as
my corporeal powers became weaker. I could see by the looks of the doctor
that he despaired of my recovery; and the soft and whispering sorrow of
my friends taught me that I had nothng to hope.
One day towards evening the crisis took place. I was seized with a strange
and indescribable quivering - a rushing sound was in my ears - I saw round
my couch innumerable strange faces; they were bright and visionary and without
bodies. There was light and solemnity; and I tried to move and could not.
For a short time a terrible confusion overwhelmed me; and when it passed
off, all my recollection returned with the most perfect distinctness, but
the power of motion had departed. I heard the sound of weeping at my pillow,
and the voice of the nurse say, "he is dead." I cannot describe
what I felt at these words. I exerted my utmost power of volition to stir
myself, but could not move even an eyelid. After a short pause my friend
drew near; and sobbing and convulsed with grief, drew his hand over my face
and closed my eyes. The world was then darkened, but I still could hear,
and feel, and suffer.
When my eyes were closed, I heard by the attendants that my friend had left
the room, and I soon after found the undertakers were preparing to habit
me in the garments of the grave. Their thoughtlessness was more awful than
the grief of my friends. They laughed at one another as they turned me from
side to side, and treated what they believed a corpse with the most appalling
When they had laid me out, these wretches retired, and the degrading formality
of affected mourning commenced. For three days a number of friends called
to see me. I heard them in low accents speak of what I was; and more than
one touched me with his finger. On the third day some of them talked of
the smell of corruption in the room.
The coffin was procured; I was lifted and laid in; my friend placed my head
on what was deemed its last pillow, and I felt his tears drop on my face!
When all who had any particular interest in me had for a short time looked
at me in the coffin, I heard them retire; and the undertaker's men place
the lid on the coffin and screwed it down. There were two of them present;
one had occasion to go away before the task was done. I heard the fellow
who was left begin to whistle as he turned the screw nails; but he checked
himself, and completed his work in silence. I was then left alone - every
one shunned the room. I knew, however, that I was not yet buried; and tho'
darkened and motionless, I had still hope; but this was not permitted long.
The day of internent arrived - I felt the coffin lifted and borne away -
I heard and felt it placed in the hearse. There was a crowd of people around;
some of them spoke sorrowfully of me. The hearse began to move - I knew
that it carried me to the grave. It halted, and the coffin was taken out
- I felt myself carried on shoulders of men, by the inequality of the motion.
A pause ensued - I heard the cords of the coffin moved - I felt it swing
as depended by them. It was lowered, and rested on the bottom of the grave.
The cords were dropped upon the lid - I heard them fall. Dreadful was the
effort I then made to exert the power of action, but my whole frame was
Soon after a few handfuls of earth were thrown upon the coffin. Then there
was another pause - after which the shovel was employed, and the sound of
the rattling mould, as it covered me, was far more tremendous than thunder.
But I could make no effort. The sound came gradually less and less, and
by a surging reverbertion in the coffin, I knew that the grave was filled
up, and that the sexton was treading in the earth; slaping the grave with
the flat side of his spade. This too ceased, then all was silent.
I had no means of knowing the lapse of time; and the silence continued.
This is death thought I, and I am doomed to remain in the earth till the
resurrection. Presently the body will fall into corruption, and the epicurean
worm that it is only satisfied with the flesh of man, will come to partake
of the banquet that has been prepared for him with so much solicitude and
care. In the contemplation of this hideous thought, I heard a low and under
sound in the earth over me, and fancied that the worms and reptiles of death
were coming - that the mole and rat of the grave would soon be upon me.
The sound continued to grow louder and nearer. Can it be possible, I thought,
that my friends suspect they have buried me too soon? The hope was like
light bursting through the gloom of death.
The sound ceased; and presently I felt the hands of some dreadful being
working about my throat. They dragged me out of the coffin by the head.
I felt again the living air, but it was cold, and I was carried swiftly
away - I thought to judgment, perhaps perdition.
When borne to some distance I was then thrown down like a clod - it was
not upon the ground. A moment after I found myself in a carriage; and, by
the interchange of some brief sentences, I discovered that I was in the
hands of two of those robbers who live by plundering the grave and selling
the bodies of parents and children and friends. One of the men sung snatches
and scraps of obscene songs as the cart rattled along over the pavement
of the streets.
When it halted I was lifted out, and I soon perceived by the closeness of
the air, and the change of temperature, that I was carried into a room,
and being rudely stripped of my shroud, I was placed naked on a table. By
the conversation of the two fellows with the servant who admitted them,
I learned that I was that night to be dissected.
My eyes were still shut, I saw nothing; but in a short time I heard, by
the bustle in the room, that the students of the anatomy were assembling.
Some of them came around the table and examined me minutely. They were pleased
to find so good a subject had been procured. The demonstrator himself at
last came in.
Previous to beginning the dissection, he proposed to try on me some galvanic
experiment; and an apparatus was arranged for that purpose. The first shock
vibrated through all my nerves; they rung and jingled like the strings of
a harp. The students expressed their admiration at the convulsive effect.
The second shock threw my eyes open; and the first person that I saw was
the doctor who attended me. But still I was dead. I could, however, discover
among the students the faces with whom I was familiar; and when my eyes
were opened, I heard my name pronounced by several of the students with
an accent of awe and compassion, and wish that it had been some other subject.
When they had satisfied themselves with the glavanic phenomena, the demonstrator
took the knife and pierced me on the bosom with the point. I felt a dreadful
crackling, as it were, throughout my whole frame - a convulsive shuddering
instantly followed, and a shriek of horror rose from all present. The ice
of death was broken up - my trance ended. The utmost exertions were made
to restore me, and in the course of an hour I was in the full possession
of all my faculties.
- Stockton (Cal.) Daily Independent, March 3, 1866 .
REMARKABLE INSTANCES OF RESUSCITATION
There have been some for whom Death seemed to have no commission, so extraordinary
were the modes of resuscitation used, after their seeming departure from
this world. Some few cases of this class we shall notice. - London Mirror.
Mr. Plott, in his Natural History of Oxfordshire, relates not only a remarkable
instance of resuscitation, but of the almost impossibility of extinguishing
the vital spark, in one Anne Greene. This woman was tried and convicted
of concealing the birth of a child, was hanged in the Castle yard of Oxford,
half an hour, her legs being also pulled, and (as had been desired by herself)
struck upon her breast by several of her friends, besides strokes upon her
stomach with the butt end of a soldier's musket. Being cut down and taken
to the dissecting room, she appeared to move, and was again struck upon
the breast and stomach. When Sir W. Petty, &c. prepared to dissect her,
they perceived a rattling in her throat, put her in a warm bed, and adopted
those measures, that in fourteen hours she began to speak, and next day
talked and prayed. A pardon was procured for her, she returned to her own
country, and was afterwards married and became the mother of three children.
She being asked as to her recollection of, and sensations during what she
had gone through, replied she remembered nothing whatever, and came to herself
as if awakened out of a swoon.
Mr. Dutens, in his memoirs, says "I recollect an anecdote of the Abbe
Prevot, which is but little known, and deserves to be more so. Supping one
evening with some friends he introduced a paradox, which was taken up with
marks of indignation. He supported his thesis and all his friends combated
it. He maintained that, if strict justice was done to every one, there would
be a very few men who did not deserve to be hanged. 'But (says a friend
to begin with yourself, what have you done to deserve so severe a punishment;
we have known one another from infancy, and though it is true that you have
always been a wild fellow, and even something of a libertine, there is not,
I believe, one among us, who can recollect a single act of yours that merited
death.' 'It is because you do not know all, (said he) I have confidence
in you, and the confession that I am going to make can, therefore, be attended
with no ill consequence. What will you say if I own to you that I killed
my father?' Good God! (exclaimed one of the company,) every one knows that
your father died of a fall which he had from a staircase.' 'It is true,
(continued he,) but it was I who pushed him down. It was thus: I was in
love with a young girl, daughter of a neighbour whose house joined ours,
and I wished to marry. My father not only refused his consent but absolutely
forbade my seeing her. I did not pay any respect to this injunction; and
as the father of the young lady would not permit me to enter his house,
we had found the means of seeing each other, and conversing together on
the leads, and I admitted her once into our garret; my father surprised
us together. Though a very good man he was extremely violent when angry.
He reproached me severely, as he did also the poor girl. He was even going
to strike her, when I put myself before him, and, in my endeavors to stop
him, I pushed him towards the staircase; being close to the edge of it he
lost his footing, and falling backwards was dangerously wounded in the head,
and became insensible. I raised him up; I called for help; we put him to
bed and soon brought him to himself. He witnessed my grief and the care
that I took of him. I never ceased watching at the side of his bed, during
the time that he survived the accident. His great goodness towards me caused
him to hide from his friends the true cause of his death, by which he only
augmented my chagrin and remorse.'
This man, who accused himself of having deserved hanging, terminated his
existence by a more dreadful death. Walking in the Bois de Boulogne, he
was attacked by a fit of apoplexy, which laid him as dead at the foot of
a tree. Some peasants, who found him in that state, conveyed him to a surgeon,
who called in the aid of a justice. He was considered as dead, and the surgeon
had orders to proceed to open the body. At the first cut of the knife the
unhappy creature, who was not dead, gave a frightful scream, but the mortal
wound was given. He lived only a sufficient time to learn the horrible manner
in which his life had been taken from him.
In Dodsley's Register for 1777, there is a long case of a cook, who apparently
died from suffocation from charcoal. Preparations had been made for his
funeral; Mr. Harmant, a celebrated phsician, at Nancy, persevered in his
system, which was that of flinging cold water on his face, in the open air,
though in December, for six hours, when the man recovered! and the fourth
day went to the altar to return thanks to God for preserving him from being
interred alive. The case is also confirmed by Dr. Hawes.
- Source Unknown