Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sag Harbor’s Armed Ghost

I love browsing through old newspaper accounts about ghosts, especially those written over a hundred years ago. 

One such article entitled “An Armed Ghost in Sag Harbor,” published in The New York Times in December of 1895 is one of my favorites. It has the distinction of being about a ghost that would hide behind bushes and jump out at people as they passed by.

The PDF archive of this article is free at the New York Times web site if you don’t have an account to view the link below just sign up by putting an email and password in.

“The apparition usually jumps out from behind a bush…”

According to this 1865 article the women residents of Sag Harbor, New York were staying at home because they were scared and the men instead of walking home alone were opting to walk in groups. The article states that this ghost was often seen along the side streets of the village where there was less traffic.

The ghost was described as over six feet tall and wearing a distinct tall hat. The victims of the spirit were all men walking through the village at night. From their accounts, not many stayed around long enough to get a good look at the ghost.

According to this article, the sale of firearms increased significantly in the village for protection. 

The first citizen to shoot at the ghost was Bruce Sweezy who had bragged to all his friends that he would. So when he was confronted with the real spirit, he had no choice but to fire. Unfortunately, when he fired, his hand was close to the muzzle, so the bullet hit his hand instead, shattering the bone.

Another sighting occurred on Union Street. As John Tabor was walking home, a ghost jumped out from behind a group of bushes located in Charles W. Payne’s yard. Tabor reported he “did not stay around long enough to shake hands” but turned and ran reaching home quickly “out of breath and courage.”  

Tabor was the first witness to report that the ghost carried an army musket—he also stated the spirit was “big enough to whip half a dozen able-bodied men.”

The article states that the only witness brave enough to confront the ghost was Tom Sellors. Sellors said at first the ghost startled him (I imagine because it jumped out at him), but he was “determined to stand his ground.” 

He readied his fists and challenged the ghost “to come on.” Sellors stated the spirit then “turned around and left…” 

Despite the ghost backing down Sellors and his friends were “determined to capture the ghost.” It was stated they were giving up their Sunday visits to their girlfriends to pursue this spirit. 

There was even “a wager” made. But if Sellors and his group succeeded the village candy shop admitted they would not be able to supply the number of “boxes of candy” that were bet. 

The name of the writer of this article is not given, but it is obvious it was written tongue-in-cheek. What is interesting is that the prevailing view back then among the villagers was they could shoot a ghost, fight it, or even capture it.


Leona Joan said...

What an interesting old story. I wonder if this wasn't a ghost at all, but rather a tall man playing tricks on everyone?

Virginia Lamkin said...

Could be . . .