Thursday, June 27, 2019

The Brooklyn Ghost

At one time newspapers all over America published stories about people’s strange experiences with “ghosts.” In the late 1800s and early 1900s The New York Times published many of these stories . . .

Clinton Street, Brooklyn, NY 1878
Here is just one, published in December of 1878, that was eventually solved with a “wing and a prayer.”

Edward F. Smith, his wife, two daughters and a border began to experience strange activity at their home on Clinton Avenue in Brooklyn, N.Y.

For three weeks, shortly before Christmas, between the hours of 5:00 p.m. and midnight their doorbell began to ring. When Smith would go to answer it no one was there.

New York Times article
“Their quiet life was seriously disturbed three weeks ago, when one night Mr. Smith went to the door three or four times in response to the ringing of the bell, and every time was surprised to find no one there.”

After the doorbell would stop ringing, a loud rattling or banging was heard coming from the home’s two back doors.

“They rattled as if they would part from their hinges.”

Concerned that this disturbance was becoming a nightly occurrence, Smith elicited the help of family and friends to determine what was happening.

But even with people stationed throughout the home and outside no one was able to pinpoint the cause.

Smith sprinkled ashes and flour along the paths that led to his doors—expecting to see footprints but none appeared.

Not getting any sleep, Smith finally was able to persuade the police to investigate. A captain and a detective visited the home but they were unable to determine what was going on, so the next night they brought reinforcements.

This night besides the noises, a brick flew through the dining room window. The officers outside “swore” they had seen no one near the path that passed this window.

The police searched the home for hidden wires or anything else that might be causing this activity but they discovered nothing.

At first, Smith stated he was skeptical that the strange phenomena taking place was supernatural * in nature—but later he became convinced this must be the cause.

In a follow-up article on December 21, 1878, The New York Times reported that Smith had finally solved his problem. Determining the devil himself must be causing this commotion—he prayed—and the activity stopped.

Sag Harbor’s Armed Ghost is a another ghost story I wrote about that the Times published in the late 1890s.

* The word “supernatural” was widely used in this era. The word paranormal had not been invented yet.

Brooklyn Brownstones, 1898


Leona Joan said...

I'm glad his prayers helped the ghost's Spirit to cross over to the Other Side. 😎

Virginia Lamkin said...

Yes, this should be tried more often.