Ghost Stories From the Atchison Daily Globe

January 3, 1878

Spooks-A Truthful Narrative of Peculiar Facts.
-An Anonymous Contributor.

The only merit in the few lines I am about to write will be their entire reliability, and the studied absence of anything calculated to mislead or mystify.
            Well!  I have lived in Atchison continuously for six years, and I am now about to leave it from a vague and inexplicable dread of a recurrence of the incidents I shall try to relate.  During that time I have made but few acquaintances, and perhaps none-I make the admission with regret-will be sorry to hear of my determination to leave, for the niche I have filled has certainly been a most ordinary one.
            Notwithstanding the fact that we-my family consists of myself and wife only-lived in a very dismal and unfrequented part of the town, we managed to get along very comfortably and contentedly until about two years ago, when a most melancholy and deplorable circumstance occurred-our little girl, not yet five years old, died on a cold, stormy night in mid-winter, kissing us both good-bye as if going to sleep.  I will not attempt to describe our great grief, or our humiliation when nobody but ourselves and the grave-digger followed the dear little body to the grave.  It would be impossible, and I am not a man to attempt impossible things.

Our residence being a long way out, and my business requiring the closest attention, I never went home for dinner at noon, but it was an invariable custom to spend my evenings at home, arriving sometimes as late as seven o’clock, and going down town again early in the morning.  After the death of our little girl, I more than ever regretted the necessity of leaving my dear, patient wife alone so much in the dreary old house, without a single companion to pass the weary hours, and for some months had noticed that she seemed sadder, and more thoughtful.  This went on for a time, until one night, after I had arrived home more tired and worried than usual, she gave me the first intimation of the circumstances of which I afterward became a careful witness.
            When I say that she complained of strange noises, I am afraid people will accuse me of attempting to tell a ghost story, but I hope no one will be so inconsiderate until they hear me through.  She said that in the middle of the day, while she sat down stairs brooding over her loneliness, she would become conscious of a strange feeling that her little girl was playing in the sleeping room above.  At first there would be no other evidence of this than her settled conviction that such was the case, but finally the usual noises produced by a child at play would be distinctly heard.  Little Emma, in her life-time, had used an empty room across the hall as a playhouse, and to and from this the childish feet would be heard busily pattering, occasionally rattling tiny dishes, or moving boxes or other articles in searching for lost treasures.  Sometimes the feet would start downstairs, but go back again, as if remembering that the article wanted was not below.  For weeks she listened to this singular phenomenon, of daily occurrence, lacking courage to mention it.  At another time, it seemed as if the child was rocking in her chair, and the burden of a familiar lullaby was indistinctly heard.  The door would then be opened, and the feet again patter to and from the playroom, long since shut up and heavily locked.  On one occasion, just at dusk, while listening with beating heart to the peculiar noises, the pattering feet came to the stair landing, and a voice called:  “Mamma!  Mamma!” which was quickly recognized as that of the dead child.  The frightened and anxious mother flew upstairs in spite of her terror, but she found the room just as she had left it in the morning, with no evidence that any but orderly hands had been about.  This was the night that I was told of it.  It strangely impressed me, of course, but I simply believed it to be an unhappy mother’s imagination, and so told her, although she firmly declared that it could not have been more natural or distinct.  She said that every night, after we had retired, there was a recurrence of it, and although she always doubly-locked the bed-room door, there was the same pattering of little feet to and from the deserted room across the hall, as if our darling Emma was playing, playing, always!  Although I guardedly refused to believe it, I nevertheless resolved to lay awake that night and listen, but in spite of my resolution, I went off into a light doze.  I do not know the hour, but it was late, when I was disturbed by my wife rising in bed.  Remembering that I had intended to keep awake, without giving evidence of it, I quietly listened.  Certainly there was a pattering of feet, and although I had carefully locked the door, it was standing wide open.  My wife called to it as though it were the child in life, and asked it to come to her.  There was a little hesitation, and the steps came softly to her side of the bed.  “Emma,” she said, “if it is you, kiss your distracted mother!”  As certainly as I live, I heard the scrambling up on the bed, and my wife informed me the next morning that if she ever embraced her child in her life, she embraced her that night.
            About a week after this, I was awakened very much the same way, except that my wife was getting up.  Noticing her gazing intently out of the window, I arose and went to her side.  The night was exceedingly dark, and at first I could see nothing, but gradually I became conscious of a dim circle of light forming outside.  I am certain that I was awake, for I remember noting a neighbor’s house, which before could not be seen.  It was an exact re-production of our sleeping room during the child’s lifetime, the crib alone making it different from the room we then occupied.  We saw our dead girl’s form kneeling by the bed, in her night slip, and after good night kisses to two invisible persons, she retired to bed, and to sleep.  It became dimmer, and dimmer, and finally vanished entirely, leaving us both weeping bitterly at the window.  I must confess that I felt no terror at any of these manifestations, but rather longed for their recurrence.
            At another time, one bright afternoon, my wife came down town to my place of business, and as she came through the door, the little pattering feet were close behind, and I noticed that she held the door open for the invisible, but certainly present, child to enter.  There happened to be no one in, and she told me that before she had fully prepared to go, the pattering feet flew up stairs, as if to get ready.  In passing the houses, the feet would stop with groups of children, while the mother patiently waited.  The dainty boots of a five-year-old child distinctly walked beside her all the way to Commercial street, and the noise did not differ from that of her own shoes, except lighter.  It stopped at the shop windows, and danced in merry glee at a particularly pleasing sight.
            I might enumerate a great many instances of this character, but one more and I am done.  Coming home one night, I found the room strewn with little Emma’s playthings, which I myself had locked in the deserted room.  My wife knew nothing of it till I called her attention to the fact, and for the first time I noticed a change in her manner; she went about gathering the playthings up, and gently chiding the child for her carelessness!  I then became convinced that her mind was becoming affected, and at once resolved to quit the house and the town.  I dreaded a recurrence on her account, not my own, for they have never been attended with dread.
            I will not blame anyone for doubting what I have written, for had I not witnessed it, I would doubt it myself.  There are two persons in this town who could, it called upon, at least certify that I left a lucrative business to avoid the patter, patter of the feet I loved so well, and they can testify that my wife is a broken, miserable and unhappy woman from the same cause.
            I give these facts to the world simply because they are curious.  I cannot explain them, neither can I explain how a professional conjuror causes flowers to grow (apparently) at his bidding.  I will be laughed at by many, but those who have followed their hopes to an early grave, will give me sympathy, if not credence.

January 10, 1878

A Strange Fancy

A Hobby-Rider Rides into the Columns of the Globe

To the Editor of the Globe.

Your article last week with reference to the supernatural appearance of a little child, induces me to speak of a circumstance that otherwise would never have reached the eager scrutiny of newspaper circles.  With the exception of a peculiar dread I have always had of a corpse, I have never in the least been given to supernatural vagaries, so that what I shall relate comes from one who believes as little in spooks and ghosts as the best member of society could wish.  A tolling bell has inspired more terror in my breast than all the stories of the supernatural I ever heard, and a hearse passing my window will rob me of quiet sleep for days at a time.
            A short time ago a man fell dead in the streets of Atchison.  A friend told me of the circumstances and where the body lay, and without thinking I hurried off to see the body before it could be removed by the family.  I can’t imagine why I ever did so rash a thing, for usually I cannot be induced to go into the presence of the dead.  But I went, and followed the crowd into a low, dark room close to where he had fallen in his death struggles.  The man lay on the floor, with his arms thrown out at full length, and his teeth were firmly set on a mass of clotted blood.  There was the most peculiar pallor on his face that I had ever seen, and although I stayed but a moment, I was struck when I reached the street with the distinctness with which I could recall the scene.
            Regretting the foolish fancy that had led me there, I tried to forget all about it, but with miserable success as I am about to relate.  In setting by the fire during the afternoon, the pale, unpappy face of the dead man would form in the coals, and every feature of the scene was vividly brought to my mind.  It was a dark, dreary day, besides, and closing up early, I hurried home, walking along briskly on an unfrequented street, just at dark.  I had almost forgotten the circumstance when I became conscious that someone was approaching from the opposite direction.  The thought of the dead man did not occur to me until I noticed that the person resembled him so closely as to be remarkable!  A cold chill followed a series of its kind down my backbone, as I halfway halted in dread of his approach, but as I hesitated, the man passed without looking up, but the resemblance was all the more remarkable on closer scrutiny.  His coat and hat, as near as I could judge in the dusk, were exactly identical with those I had seen laying beside the corpse in the afternoon.  He was half mumbling, half groaning as if in agony, and when I turned around to watch him, I particularly noticed that the heighth was about the same.
            Of course this affected me strangely, but I said nothing about it to anyone, believing firmly that the similarity was a mere fancy caused by my dread, and the melancholy events of the day.  The next morning at the post office, while I was in the act of stooping down to see if there was mail in my box, I again became strangely impressed by this mysterious presence.  I did not see it, or hear it, but that it was near me was certain.  The office was full and it was a dark morning, necessitating the lighting of gas, so that I had some difficulty in picking him out, but there he was, leaning against the desk next to the postmaster’s window, intently reading a letter.  Not only was he dressed as I remembered the dead man, but the blood I had noticed in his moustasche and whiskers was present, but the color had evidently returned.  With the exception noted, it was just as if the dead man had come to life, and had come down town for his mail before going to work.  No one seemed to notice him but himself, but that he was real was evidenced by a man who went round him for the purpose.  During the time I watched him, he did not move a muscle, but seemed quietly interested in the letter he held in his hand, and on which his eyes were bent.  Turning my head for a moment, he disappeared in the crowd.  Twice during that day I thought I passed him on the street, but will not state certainly that I did, for it may have been immagination.
            Going home at night at about the same hour, I had a dread of passing the spot where I had met him before, but he wasn’t there, and I rapidly regained my spirits as I hurried ton my way.  About two hundred yards farther on there is an intersecting sidewalk that comes from the East, and here it was that I came upon him unawares.  He was standing stock still, about ten feet from me on the other walk, and as I passed on, he came up to the main street, and leisurely walked toward town.  There was no mistaking him, for the moaning and mumbling could be distinctly heard.
            I met him at about the same place the next night, and the next.  Determined to find out who it was that thus strangely affected me, when I saw him standing on the cross street.  I abruptly turned and rapidly walked in his direction.  The figure was startled at this, and started at about my own pace down the street and from me.  As I hurried, he hurried, and when I stopped, he stopped and turned toward me.  I followed him thus until the sidewalk ended, and on until the distance between the houses indicated that we were rapidly approaching the country.  Ashamed of my folly, I took a shorter road over the hill home, and left the figure standing silently on the deserted hill.
            Every night now I pass the lonely figure, sometimes on the walk I travel, and at other times standing at the c5ross-street I have mentioned, always the same, and as desirous to avoid me as I am to come nearer.  On one occasion I stood and watched it for fully ten minutes, but it was immovable, and affected me so strangely that I was afraid to walk toward it.
            To be candid, I do not believe it is the same man I saw lying dead.  To be candid again, I haven’t the remotest idea what it is.  It may be that I have singularly met a man of strange appearance repeatedly at or near the same place, and it may be possible that he retreats from me for the same reason that I advance upon him.  I am only certain that what I have related is entirely true, and that I don’t believe in ghosts or goblins.  I have before remarked that the sight of a dead person always strangely impresses me, and this may have worked upon my fancy to the degree I have related.
            If anyone doubts the appearance of the mysterious figure every night on my way home, I ask them any evening to take the walk with me.  The editor of this paper has my address, and I have given him permission to give it to anyone who may apply.    

The man whose death is mentioned in the above story, was written about in the January 2, 1878 newspaper. Below is the full story about that death.

January 2, 1878

George W. Coney, aged about forty-seven years, dropped dead of sudden hemorrhage this afternoon between one and two o’clock, in the alley on Fifth street, between Ryan’s shoe store and Nesch & Watterson’s meat market.  Mr. Coney had lived in Atchison about twelve years, and for some time past, has been regularly at the market near where he died, selling vegetables, and working odd jobs wherever found.  He has a wife and on child.  About an hour before his death, he told an aquaintance that he never felt better in his life, the cool, bracing weather adding vigor to his frame.  He had been almost a confirmed invalid for some months, although able to do a little work.  Several years ago he was in easy circumstances, dealing largely in county and city scrip, but at the time of his death he was very poor.  A Globe reporter looked at the body as it lay on the floor of the shoe shop, with a crowd of idlers about, awaiting the arrival of the coroner.  His wife and child were also present.  There was a care worn, weary expression on the face, and although life had been extinct only a few minutes, it had the pallor of a corpse long dead.  The coroner held an inquest this afternoon, and rendered a verdict substiantially as above.  

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Dates From the Globe

Ghost Stories

January 3, 1878

January 10, 1878

February 11, 1878

December 20, 1878

February 10, 1879

August 29, 1879

September 22, 1880

August 29, 1882

September 18, 1882

October 11, 1882

February 10, 1883

February 22, 1883

February 24, 1883

December 31, 1887

Suicides

June 27, 1878

June 18, 1879

July 18, 1882

July 19, 1882

August 11,1882

December 16, 1882

February 1, 1887