Showing posts with label Ghost story. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ghost story. Show all posts

Monday, April 22, 2019

The Burial of Octavia Spencer


Blue Ridge Mountains
Here is an Appalachian ghost story. Various versions are shared depending upon whether it is told in Virginia, Tennessee, or Kentucky.

Sadly, Octavia Spencer died of a mysterious illness, after giving birth, in the 1890s.

Her son died within days of being born, and Octavia went into a deep depression. Her family and friends were unable to help her, so a doctor was called in.

By the time this man arrived, he found Octavio in a dream-like state, similar to a coma. Frustrated the doctor was unable to determine what was happening.

Within hours his patient appeared to stop breathing, and the mourning family following the hill custom quickly arranged to bury Octavia that same day, on the top of the mountain.

Several days later, the doctor found himself treating several patients that exhibited the same symptoms as Octavia’s.

They all had lapsed into a deep dream-like state. Their breathing turned shallow as well.

But within a day they all began to wake up. In shock, it dawned on the doctor that he had made a terrible mistake. He immediately demanded that Octavia’s body be exhumed.

When her coffin was opened, it became apparent that she had died of asphyxiation.

To everyone’s horror, there were signs Octavia had struggled before her death. They found scratch marks on the lid. She had tried to escape.

Her body was then reburied in the family plot in Pikeville, Kentucky.

Mountain Grave
For over a century, witnesses have claimed there is unusual activity near Octavia’s grave.

Many locals have reported hearing hysterical cries at night. Others who are brave enough to go near her grave state they have heard scratching sounds on the old, rustic, wood cross that marks the spot.

Monday, January 18, 2016

A Deadly Game of Hide and Seek

This classic ghost story has been immortalized in film, short stories, and in a famous song and poem.

It is known under various names. The Lost Bride, Bride and Go Seek and in England as The Mistletoe Bough or The Mistletoe Bride.

This story was first published in 1809 in Germany in an article entitled The Melancholy Occurrence, which tells the tale of a bride who goes missing on her wedding day.

Samuel Rogers’ poem entitled Ginevra, published in 1823, also tells the moving story of how a bride disappears on her wedding day only to be found years later.

“Full fifty years were past, and all was forgot . . .
The mouldering chest was noticed . . .
‘Why not remove it from its lurking place . . .’
It burst, it fell; and lo, a skeleton . . .”

The full text of this poem can be found here.

Roger’s poem inspired Thomas Bayly to write the lyrics for a ballad song entitled, The Mistletoe Bough, music composed by Sir Henry Bishop, in the 1830s. Here is a part of this song.

“They sought her that night, and they sought her next day,
And they sought her in vain while a week passed away . . .
At length, an old chest, that had long lain hid,
Was found in the castle—
They raised the lid,
And a skeleton form lay mouldering there
In the bridal wreath of that lady fair!”

The entire song lyrics can be read here. A popular version of this ballad is shared below.

By 1859, this song in England was so beloved it was shared in most households at Christmastime. Many knew the heart-wrenching lyrics “by heart.”

This story was retold in two short stories: The Old Oak Chest by Susan E. Wallace in 1887 and The Romance of Certain Old Clothes by Henry James in 1868.

The story was also made into a silent film in 1904 by Percy Stow; this short film has since been restored and is below. Two other movies based upon this story were made in 1923 and 1926.

Percy Stow film
This story has been told for over 2 centuries now. Various versions of this myth have circulated in America. A simplified version was retold in the early 1970s.

Alfred Hitchcock produced his own version of this story in 1948 in his film entitled Rope. In his film the main character, Brandon Shaw hides the body of a murdered son in a chest.

However, most versions of this story are similar so here is the English version -- The Mistletoe Bough.

A young bride was married to Lord Lovell at Christmastime. After the ceremony, she suggested they play a game of Hide and Seek, which the younger members of the wedding party could enjoy as well.

The young bride was picked as the first person to hide. No one suspected as she went off this would be the last they would see of her.

Her husband, father and the wedding guests searched and searched, but she was not found. The wedding guests eventually had to leave, many assured the family as they parted that surely the bride must have just fallen asleep in her hiding place.

The groom, father and the servants continued to search late into the night and the next day but their efforts were unrewarded for the young bride was not found.

The days turned to weeks and the weeks turned to months then years, but the bride’s disappearance remained a mystery. Lord Lovell grew old, and the story was now legendary.

The family home was eventually sold, and several years later the home’s attic was emptied. Amongst the old paintings and furniture, there was an old oak chest that appeared to be locked.

The lid was pried open and inside was a skeleton dressed in a wedding gown-- it was holding a withered wedding bouquet. At last, the bride was found.

Chest opened.

Bramshill House
Many stately homes * in England over the years have claimed to be the location for this chest. They include: Bramshill House and Marwell House both in Hampshire. Castle Horneck in Cornwall, Basildon Grotto in Berskhire, Minster Lovell Hall in Oxfordshire, Exton Hall in Rutland, Brockdish Hall in Norfolk and Bawdrip Rectory in Somerset.

* Some of these homes lay in ruins today.

A number of these homes also lay claim to the ghost of the unfortunate bride that is said to haunt their grounds. She is seen wearing her wedding gown.

Here is a recording of the song, The Mistletoe Bough.


The following is the restored silent version of the 1904 film version of this story. It is short.



Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Terrifying Tales: Mary Shaw and Her Dolls


“Beware the stare of Mary Shaw. 
She had no children, only dolls,
If you see her in your dreams, 
Make sure you never scream . . .
For she’ll rip your tongue out at the seam.”

The poem above was shared in a film entitled, Dead Silence. This poem is based upon an old ghost story that was told in Ravens Fair for generations.

It was told to children to keep them in line but some claim that there is some truth to the story. Regardless, it has evolved into a terrifying tale to tell at Halloween.

Is the curse that Mary Shaw placed real?

Outside of Ravens Fair there is an old theatre—the Guignol—that sits near Lost Lake. It was 1941 and Mary Shaw was performing her ventriloquist show on stage.

A boy in the audience, Michael Ashen made fun of Mary. He called her a fraud and stated he could see her lips moving as the dummy talked. The audience then laughed.

Several weeks later Michael went missing. The townspeople and the Ashen family became convinced that Mary had something to do with his disappearance.

A group of men, made up of members of the family and some locals, challenged Mary one night. What had she done with Michael?

She screamed her innocence when they would not believe her claims that she had nothing to do with it. They grabbed her, cut out her tongue and left her to bleed to death.

The local mortician noticed Mary had several odd requests in her will but he followed them anyway. She requested her dolls, which she called “her children” should be buried with her and she stipulated her body was to be made up to look like a doll.

Several days after Mary was buried the killings began.

Each man who was involved in her murder was visited by one of the dolls. They were found dead with their tongues ripped out.

Mary’s ghost then began to visit the wives and children of these men. As the years passed their children’s children were visited. All were found in mid scream with their tongues ripped out—dead.

The residents of Ravens Fair still refuse to utter Mary Shaw’s name. For they are terrified Mary and “her children” are waiting in their grave for the next victim.

This begins a series of stories on Seeks Ghosts under the title Terrifying Tales that will be shared between now and Halloween.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Uninvited


Dorothy Macardle adapted one of my favorite screenplays from her original book The Uninvited published in 1942.

Her ghost story is set in England in the 1930s. It follows two siblings Roddy and Pamela Fitzgerald as they explore Devonshire in hopes of finding a country house.

Roddy is a young successful London literary critic who wants to get away from the city and hopes to install his sister Pamela in a suitable country home so she can recuperate from caring for their ailing father for the past six years.


The two stumble upon a large picturesque home high above the sea on a cliff and fall in love with it. But there is a catch—the home, Cliff End has been empty for 15 years and the man who owns it—a retired navel commander by the name of Meredith does not want to sell it.

Roddy persists since the siblings want the house and he is attracted to the Commander’s sad but lovely granddaughter Stella who lives with her grandfather in a town nearby.

Roddy and Pamela
The Fitzgerald’s prevail as the Commander reluctantly relents and sells them the house. Shortly after moving in they discover Cliff End is haunted.

In a series of frightening events the sibling hear chilling moans, and sobbing, they feel cold air and smell the sweet aroma of mimosa perfume. They also see a startling vaporous apparition.

Roddy spends time with Stella against the Commander’s wishes and finds out her mother Mary Meredith had died in suspicious circumstances when she fell from a cliff near the home.

Another woman, Carmel who was an artist model for Stella’s father had been implicated in this tragedy in a vague mysterious way.

Roddy notices Stella wears the same mimosa perfume that he and Pamela have smelled at Cliff End each time before the ghostly activity occurs. She tells him that she wears it in warm memory of her mother.

The locals tell the siblings that they believe Mary Meredith haunts Cliff End. As the story unfolds Roddy discovers that the reason the Commander does not want Stella to associate with the new owners is he does not want Stella to enter Cliff End.


The Fitzgerald’s end up spending a lot of time trying to unravel the mystery as to why the house is haunted. Stella and the town’s doctor who takes a fancy to Pamela help.

The four end up battling two ghosts—one good, one dark. Macardle provides a story with many twists and turns including a surprise ending.

Her characters are very likable and she keeps the reader or viewer in the moment by setting her story in an ever-changing atmosphere that keeps everyone guessing.

Macardle adapted her book into a screenplay of the same name that was made into a popular film in 1944, which stars Ray Milland, Ruth Hussey and Gail Russell. I talk more about this film here.


What is unusual is many prefer the film to the original book because it gets straight to the ghost story whereas the book has many sub-plots. 

The Hollywood screenwriters that touched up the script changed several character's names--"Rick" for Roddy etc. They also changed the name of the house and made Rick a music critic.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Kwaidan: The Black Hair


This is another kwaidan—a Japanese ghost story—that Lafcadio Hearn shared in one of his books entitled Kwaidan.

Hearn’s history is shared here, along with another Yurei story he collected.

The Japanese ghost story I share here-- The Black Hair is the original—this story was re-told in the modern day film Kwaidan.

There was an impoverished samurai who lived in the capital city. His fortune changed when a foreign lord summoned him into service.

The Black Hair
The samurai gladly accepted his offer, but instead of taking his wife of many years with him he abandoned her and took another woman he desired with him.

Many years later when this lord no longer required the samurai’s service, he returned to the capital city.

The samurai found himself longing for his old wife. One night at midnight he returned to the old house where he had lived with her.

In the autumn moonlight, he saw the gate to his old home was ajar. He went in and saw his wife sitting silently by herself.

To his joy, she expressed no resentment or bitterness toward him for his ill use of her. Instead, she greeted him with happiness.

The film version.
The samurai now overwhelmed with gratitude swore to her he would never leave her again. He said nothing could part them in the future.

Pleased with the happiness he now saw in her eyes the samurai embraced his wife and the two fell asleep in each other’s arms.

Bright sunlight awoke the samurai the next morning. He saw the house was more run-down than it had appeared in the moonlight.

He looked down at his wife who was still lying in his embrace. To his horror, he found he was holding a corpse where only bits of flesh still clung to the bones.

The skull was wrapped in long black hair.

The samurai leaped to his feet and rushed to the neighbor’s house.

He asked, “What happened to the woman who lived next door?”

They told him, “She was abandoned by her husband many years ago. She died just last summer from an illness brought on by her sorrow at this loss.”

Since there was no one to care for her or give her a funeral, her body remained where she had died.

A traditional Japanese belief is if a dead person is not given a proper funeral with respect after they die—they often return as a Yurei/ghost to seek revenge.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Campfire Story: Seaweed

In the early 1900s two sisters traveling home from Cape Cod found themselves stranded when their car broke down. They were out of luck for it was a stormy night and it began to rain.


Seeing an old house nearby they made their way through the mud and weeds and tugged on the door pull. Since no one answered they looked through a broken window and saw a library. It was covered with dust and neglect.

They tried the front door again and found with a brisk push it opened. With no other choice the sisters decided they would stay in the house until the morning when they could find someone to tow their car.

They risked the mud and rain to retrieve some blankets and snacks from their car and settled in for the night.

Awakened suddenly several hours later by an loud noise that appeared to be coming from the once grand fireplace in the room they were startled to see a bedraggled sailor--he appeared to be a captain-- whose clothes were dripping wet.

He stood near the fireplace and appeared to be drying himself by a non-existent fire. It was dark in the room but the sailor was glowing brightly.

The braver of the two sisters called out, “Who is there?”

The captain then muttered something they could not hear and disappeared. Deciding they must have imaged it the sisters went back to sleep.


The next morning they found a pool of salt water and wet seaweed by the fireplace. But there were no footprints in the dust that had settled on the ground except their own.

The sisters hurried out of the old house. They managed to flag down a passing motorist and get a ride into the nearest town. Curious they asked about the abandoned house. They were told no one had lived there for years.

The son who would have inherited it was lost at sea and the family had moved away because they claimed strange things happened in the house at night.

Before they left the house that morning the braver sister had tucked the seaweed they found into her pocket.

Months later at a dinner party the sisters told a museum curator about their mysterious encounter. To the surprise of the one sister the other mentioned she still had the seaweed.


The curator arranged to test it for them. After several days they received a message from this man. It simply said that the seaweed they had found in the house was a rare type that only was found on dead bodies.