Saturday Snippets: 15 June 2013: A voice from the grave, indulgent papas, the Vendor of Paternity, fathers’ ghosts


Mrs Daffodil has scoured the papers for items for Father’s Day week-end, finding tales of fathers good, bad, and ghostly.


How a Young Woman Heard Her Father’s Speech in a Phonograph

A pathetic story is that told in connection with the phonograph. A judge in a southern state came to Cincinnati not long ago, says a writer in the Commercial. He had never heard the phonograph. When he visited an office he spoke into the funnel and was amazed and amused to hear his own voice repeated afterward through the tubes of the machine.

Two days after he returned home he died suddenly. His daughter came to Cincinnati on business, and while here a friend took her to hear a phonograph. It was a curious coincidence that she should have been escorted to the very office her father had visited but a short time before. The young woman, who was in deep mourning, was very much entertained by some of the musical selections the phonograph repeated.

The operator afterward picked up a cylinder from a pile, placed it in the phonograph and said: “listen to this.” The young woman placed the tubes again to her ear, the bar was pulled out, and the cylinder began to revolve. Before a dozen words had been repeated the woman in black swooned. Not until she recovered was the cause of her fainting known.

The voice that had come to her ears from the phonograph was that of her dead father. It was as a voice from the grave. She afterward purchased a phonograph and the cylinder containing her father’s speech was given to her. It is carefully cherished in her southern home. Chicago Herald (Chicago, IL) 25 February 1891: p. 6 

IDENTITY ASCERTAINED.— The identity of the dead soldier who was found on the bloody field of Gettysburg, with the picture of his three pretty little children tightly clasped in his hands, has been ascertained within a day or two. The wide publicity given to the touching circumstances through the medium of the press produced the desired result. The name of the deceased was Hummiston, and his widow and three children reside at Portville, Cattaraugus County, New York. Large numbers of photographic copies of the picture upon which the dying eyes of the warrior-father closed have been sold, and the profits realized from their sale will be appropriated to the benefit of the children. It is hoped that a sufficient sum may be realized in this way, and by future sales, to aid materially in the education of the little ones who were made orphans at Gettysburg. Godey’s Lady’s Book [Philadelphia, PA] March 1864 

An Unnatural Father.

“My dear,” she said, as he finally laid down his paper, “how did your last deal in wheat come out?”

“Lost about $20,000,” he growled.

“Why you said you were sure of making $50,000.”

“So I was, but I didn’t.”

“That’s a downright shame. You know that Nellie is to marry the Count Italiani, and that he wants $50,000 for his title.”

“Can’t help that.”

“Well, it’s awful mean. Nellie is waiting for her count, and the count is waiting for his money, and here you drop $20,000 as if your daughter’s happiness was the last thing to be thought of. I don’t think you have a father’s heart in you.”

Evening News [San Jose, CA] 12 January 1886: p. 4

For a curious profession, and one which is little known, commend us to the Parisian Vendor of Paternity. He appears to be an individual who takes upon himself the risk of severe punishment if detected in the carrying out of his business, which is to stand in the place of a father to young men who wish to marry and cannot get the sanction of their parents. The Vendor of Paternity here steps in and goes through all the formalities at the Mayor’s office. Marion [OH] Daily Star 13 May 1901 

In one of our sleeping-cars in American there was an old bachelor who was annoyed by the continued crying of a child and the ineffectual attempts of the father to quiet it. Pulling aside the curtain and putting out his head, he said: “Where is the mother of that child? Why doesn’t she stop that nuisance?” The father said very quietly: “The mother is in the baggage-car in her coffin; I am traveling home with the baby. This is the second night I have been with the child, and the little creature is worrying for its mother. I am sorry if its plaintive cries disturb any one in this car.” Wait a minute,” said the old bachelor. The old man got up and dressed himself, and compelled the father to lie down and sleep, while he took the babe himself. The old bachelor stilling the cry of that babe all night was a hero. And the man who for the sake of others, gives up a lawful gratification in his own house in the social circle, is as great a hero as though he stood upon the battlefield. J.B. Gough. Elkhart [IN] Weekly Review 22 January 1880: p. 6

Equal to the Occasion.

She is a cute little Detroit girl of 7, and the proprietor of the store at which she called is a great friend of the family, says The Free Press.

“How much for one of these picture books?” she inquired of him.

“Just two kisses,” for he wanted to make her a present.

“I’ll take six,” she said in a cool, businesslike way as she tucked them under her arm and started for the door. “Papa will call and settle.”

The proprietor would like to have discharged have a dozen clerks that appreciated the scene, but it was the busy season. Sandusky [OH] Star 22 February 1899: p. 2


New York, July 13. Mrs. Ida Shaper of Brooklyn told a magistrate her father’s ghost had appeared and whispered that Mrs. Clara Steiner had stolen her diamond ring. Mrs. Steiner was held. Trenton [NJ] Evening Times 12 July 1913: p. 3 

What Van Left Off

Van is 4 years old and very proud of the fact that he can dress himself in the morning, all but the buttons “that run up and down ahind.”

Van isn’t enough of an acrobat yet to make his small fingers thus do duty between his shoulder blades. So he backs up to papa and gets a bit of help.

  One morning Van was in a great hurry to get on to some important work he had on hand—the marshaling of an army or something of the sort. So he hurried to get into his clothes, and of course they bothered him, because he was in a hurry and didn’t take as much pains as usual. Things would get upside down, “hind side ‘fore,” while the way the arms and legs of these same things got mixed was dreadful to contemplate. So I am afraid it was not a very pleasant face that came to papa for the finishing touches.

“There, everything is on now,” shouted Van.

“Why, no, Van,” said papa soberly. “You haven’t put everything on yet.”

Van carefully inspected all his clothes, from the tips of his small toes up to the broad collar about his neck. He could find nothing wanting.

  ‘You haven’t put your smile on yet,” said papa, with the tiny wrinkles beginning to creep about his own eyes. “Put it on, Van, and I’ll button it up for you.”

  And if you will believe me Van began to put it on then and there. After that he almost always remembered that he couldn’t really call himself dressed for the day until he had put a sunny face atop the white collar and the necktie. Sandusky [OH] Star February 22, 1899 p. 2 

A Hungarian boy, believing his father’s ghost was stoning the home at night, dug up and burned the corpse. Denver [CO] Post 7 November 1902: p. 12 


Muncie, April 5. Terrorized, as he said, by the nightly visits of his father’s ghost to his bedside, the father having committed suicide three years ago, Edward Wilson, 11, drank a quantity of laudanum, and was found apparently dying, but his life may be saved. He fought those who tried to save him. The boy complained that his father’s spirit has been coming to his bedside and laying its icy hand upon his brow. Cincinnati [OH] Post 5 April 1909: p. 2 

The Apparition in the Elevator

Some years ago a young man came to Chicago from Germany. His father had cut him off from his annuity. He lived in the same house where I lived. He finally obtained a place in one of the big grain elevators here. I do not know what the place was except that he had something to do on the top floor, away up under the roof.  Several men were employed with him in the same place. One day while he was dusting he suddenly stopped and asked his assistants who that nicely dressed old man was that was standing back there by the shaft. Strangers are never allowed in these big elevators, and to see one there well dressed was enough to excite comment. His companions looked in the direction indicated and said they saw no one. He insisted, and when they laughed at him he went to the place where he saw the figure standing. On his approach it vanished.

The young man fainted. He recovered and then asked his companions to make a note of the occurrence, the date and the time of day. He said the figure he saw was that of his father. In twelve days he received a letter from the old country telling him of his father’s death. The date and time agreed with the date and time of the occurrence I have described. The letter informed him that his father had forgiven him and remembered him in his will. He returned to the fatherland, got his portion of the estate and is living there now. You may say what you please, but I have never felt like scoffing from the time I heard this story. The spirit of that boy’s father appeared to him on the top floor of that elevator. Eugene Field in Chicago News. Idaho Statesman [Boise, ID] 25 December 1891: p. 3

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: For a story of the mysterious image of a father and his favourite child who appeared in the window-glass of a house of mourning, please visit the Haunted Ohio blog for today. Mrs Daffodil wishes for her readers the fondest and most indulgent of Papas and extends the compliments of the day to all such gentlemen.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


2 thoughts on “Saturday Snippets: 15 June 2013: A voice from the grave, indulgent papas, the Vendor of Paternity, fathers’ ghosts

  1. Pingback: A Father’s Anguish: 1827 | Mrs Daffodil Digresses

  2. Pingback: A Father’s Anguish: 1827 – The Victorian Book of the Dead

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