I Ain't 'Fraid of no Ghost.
January 21, 2010 9:38 AM   Subscribe

Please help me find find some "historic" ghost stories. Emphasis on folklore and authenticity.

I am looking for a collection (preferably online) of ghost stories that appear to be supported by history and research. I will try my best to describe what I mean.

The stories should be able to identify who the ghost is, how they died and where they are haunting. The more facts the better. They don't have to be "true" per se, but they should be convincing. If you have ever been on a walking "Ghost Tour" in an historic city, then this is the type of stories you heard.

Conversely, I am also open to folkloric stories that may not be based on reality at all, but have an oral tradition. You know, the kinds of stores that get passed down by camp counselors every year.

Here is what I am not looking for: "When I was a kid, we lived in this house where we always heard footsteps upstairs when nobody was home!!!!"

If you have a story of your own to share, that would be welcome as well!
posted by AtomicBee to Society & Culture (23 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Does the Suscon Screamer fit your criteria?
posted by Sassyfras at 9:51 AM on January 21, 2010

Response by poster: That story is pretty goofy, but it is on the right track. The Blog itself is actually very close to what I am looking for. I'd love similar blogs from different regions.
posted by AtomicBee at 10:12 AM on January 21, 2010

Best answer: Giles Corey supposedly haunts Salem, MA to this day.

In fact, the whole Real Haunts site might be of interest to you (I didn't look through it, though).
posted by Aleen at 10:12 AM on January 21, 2010

Response by poster: Aleen: Real Haunts is almost exactly what I am looking for. More, please!
posted by AtomicBee at 10:17 AM on January 21, 2010

Best answer: Prairie Ghosts has a few of these types of stories.
posted by studentbaker at 10:18 AM on January 21, 2010

Prairie Ghosts is an online collection of historic ghost stories. It's pretty crowded with links, but if you take the time to surf around you'll find some good stuff.
posted by amyms at 10:18 AM on January 21, 2010

Check out the Whaley House in Old Town San Diego. Also, the Winchester Mystery House, which Sarah Winchester supposedly built to house the spirits of all those killed by Winchester rifles.
posted by OolooKitty at 10:19 AM on January 21, 2010

I grew up about a ten-minute bike ride away from my town's haunted inn.

Elizabeth Shaw was a teenage girl living in my Connecticut town in 1744; she may have been mentally delayed. She certainly wasn't married, which is why when she turned up pregnant, it was quite the scandal, and got her and her family into a lot of trouble. Sometime around her due date, Elizabeth went into the woods one day - and when she finally came back, she just went straight to her room and collapsed, exhausted, and slept for a few days. She was no longer pregant, and didn't have the baby with her. While she was bedridden, a scouting party explored the woods -- in a far-off part of the woods (so far it's in another town now, in fact), they finally found a shallow grave with a dead newborn boy.

They brought the body back to town and accused Elizabeth of infanticide. Elizabeth admitted the baby was hers -- but she claimed it had been stillborn. During the trial, Elizabeth was asked to present proof that it had been stillborn -- but when she couldn't, and no one else could, she was found guilty of infanticide and sentenced to death by hanging.

The "ghostly" parts of the story are: every September (the month the child was born/died) through November (the month she was hanged), people sometimes see a ghostly woman in white wandering up and down Plains Road, Windham -- this is the road Elizabeth's executioner lead her down when she was being taken to her death, and the figure wanders up and down the road, and seems to be looking for something. She's also said to appear in the Windham Inn, a former inn right on the town green -- this was an inn in Elizabeth's day and remained one for many years, until sometime in the 1960's when it was converted to apartments. The people who saw Elizabeth the most in the inn were single mothers, and one woman even said it seemed like she was being aggressively targeted - she came back to her apartment in the inn one day to find that her windows were open, a picture frame with a picture of her own child had been smashed, and the page for September had been ripped off her calendar.

Despite all that, I personally don't remember many stories circulating amongst me and the other kids about the inn or about Elizabeth when I was a kid -- all I remember is maybe a couple mentions that "oh, we heard that place is haunted." I'm wondering if that's because by now, it's not even being used for apartments any more because of the reputation. But a local resident wrote a play about Elizabeth Shaw when I was a teenager, and that revived her story somewhat. But when I was a kid, the Windham Inn was just That Big Building Next To The Post Office.

The link above goes to a Googlebooks excerpt from a book about ghosts in Eastern Connecticut, which may be a good resource in and of itself.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:20 AM on January 21, 2010

If you really want something special, check out "People from the Other World". One of the better ghost/paranormal investigative works ever, IMO.
posted by dbiedny at 10:45 AM on January 21, 2010

Helen Creighton (she was also connected with U Maine, apparently) was a well-known folklorist where I grew up and wrote Bluenose Ghosts. I also saw that the Nova Scotia archives have a few of her writings online.
posted by angiep at 10:50 AM on January 21, 2010

Joe Citro is a local [Vermont] historian who enjoys weird tales. He's written a few terrific books including Green Mountain Ghosts, Ghouls and Unsolved Mysteries and Cursed in New England: Stories of Damned Yankees. He also has a blog that has some of his writing on it.
posted by jessamyn at 11:05 AM on January 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

It was in one of Joe Citro's books that I originally found out about Henry Steel Olcott and "People from the Other World".
posted by dbiedny at 11:25 AM on January 21, 2010

Your Ghost Stories has poorly-written, first-person submissions.
posted by Punctual at 11:41 AM on January 21, 2010

Best answer: Mason Winfield in the WNY area has a lot of stuff about spooky places and specific ghosts and things.
posted by oflinkey at 12:06 PM on January 21, 2010

Lucy Keyes (factual PDF) was a little girl whose family lived at the base of Mount Wachusett in Princeton, Massachusetts, in the 1700s. One day she wandered into the woods and disappeared without a trace.

Her mother never got over Lucy's disappearance, and for years wandered the woods on their side of the mountain calling her daughter's name. The story, as I heard it growing up in Princeton, is that you can still hear her voice calling "LUUUUU-CY" in those woods. Mrs. Keyes is buried in Meeting House Cemetery on Mountain road.

My 5th grade history teacher took us to the cellar hole of the Keyes homestead, (itself now in the middle of the woods) and it is one damned lonely place.

An ambitious, independent 2006 movie called The Legend of Lucy Keyes used the story as inspiration and shot on location in Princeton, but it should be taken with a huge boulder of salt.
posted by usonian at 12:07 PM on January 21, 2010

Oh, and although I see Joe Citro has already been mentioned I can definitely specifically recommend his Weird New England, which is an excellent book for planning daytrips if you're in this neck of the woods. Lots of local folklore/ghost stories. (I clearly need to familiarize myself with the rest of his oeuvre!)
posted by usonian at 12:14 PM on January 21, 2010

Best answer: Mason Winfield bills himself as a "supernatural historian" in the Western New York area - he does ghost tours and has written a couple books. A lot of the "hauntings" he looks into come from local folklore. He keeps a blog, which might have some of the stories you're looking for.

on preview, oflinkey had the same thought as me...
posted by radiomayonnaise at 12:19 PM on January 21, 2010

There's a haunted hike here in St. John's, NL, done by Dale Jarvis, who is a local folklorist and storyteller, among other things. Lots of first-person stories on his site, and he has written a couple of books as well. He is a great guy who knows tons about local history and folklore in general.

I've done some coursework on narrative and belief in folklore. Always be careful with the word "authenticity." It's a tricky one.
posted by futureisunwritten at 1:21 PM on January 21, 2010

The Octagon House, in Washington, DC is supposed to be haunted by one or two of the daughters of John Tayloe. She/they supposedly fell down the stairs to their deaths.
It is also supposedly haunted by Dolley Madison. She and James stayed there after the White House burned.
Sightings include ladies in white, and the smell of lilacs.
I attended a wedding there as a child, and it's a beautiful and unusual building. The stories creeped me out some, but I didn't see anything.
posted by Adridne at 1:37 PM on January 21, 2010

I don't know where to start with the UK. Ghosts in stately homes are as de rigeur as posh furniture - Glamis castle is particularly infested. Then there's the world's most haunted city, with plausible stories behind everything from Roman soldiers to Tudor Royals. Not to forget walled-in plague victims in Edinburgh, wall-to-wall ghostly aristocrats at the Tower of London and to prove that hauntings keep up to date, phantom WW2 aeroplanes flying over where they crashed.

I would point out that those are just the ones I could remember off the top of my head. There are probably thousands similar out there.
posted by Coobeastie at 3:17 PM on January 21, 2010

Meet my great, great aunt. I've traced my family back to her. Supposedly she still haunts a Kentucky cemetery, which I really must visit someday.
posted by IndigoRain at 10:19 PM on January 21, 2010

Response by poster: I gave "Best Answers" to posters who pointed me to collections, but all of the stories here are great. Thank you all!
posted by AtomicBee at 11:02 AM on January 22, 2010

With the caveat that I haven't read these books in a good 15 years, I'm going to recommend 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey and the rest of Kathryn Tucker Windham's 13 Ghosts series, all of which are drawn from local folklore throughout the South. I don't know if they're as amazing as elementary school me thought they were, but they're definitely the sort of thing you're looking for.
posted by naoko at 11:58 AM on January 23, 2010

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