The Ghost Searched the Graveyard: 1894

OLD PRIORY CEMETERY 013

THE GHOST

Looks For the Crucifix

The Sacred Emblem Was To Have Been Buried With a Beautiful Young Woman, But It Was Forgotten.

[Chicago Times]

“With all the different times and conditions of jags that have ever visited this place [Dwight, Illinois, site of a sanitarium for inebriates] not one of them has ever seen a spook so far as I can find out.” It was a leading citizen of Dwight who was talking to a crowd of companions in a store in that town one evening recently. “A good many of the boys who come here claim to have seen birds of paradise, angels with aluminium wings and alligators hovering around the Chicago and Alton depot as they alighted from the ‘jag train.’ A good many men, poor devils, who come here for the morphine treatment, have often had a troop of monkeys in training until Keeley’s medicine began to get in its work, and then they would forget all about the pets. I simply refer to these matters to show how strange it is that in a place where so many are liable to be given upon their arrival to strange hallucinations not once have I ever heard that a spook had been seen by any of them,” continued the citizen, “that people who see ghosts and spooks are not, as a rule, suffering from a deranged intellect or a deranged liver. I confess that I am a trifle superstitious. Have you ever heard of our white lady and the crucifix?” he asked.

One fat bystander said he believed he had heard of a ghost over at Campus, but had really paid little attention to the matter. One or two of the others said they believed they had heard of the Campus spook.

“Well, I’ll tell you what I saw and what others have seen. A young woman of this county—well, in fact, she lived near Campus—graduated at a Roman Catholic school in St. Louis a few years ago. She was one of the highest scholars in the class and won several prizes. One of them was a beautiful golden crucifix, studded with diamonds. The Mother Superior had evinced a great love for the girl, and her love was intensified, if not embittered, by the knowledge that the young girl was the victim of consumption. She was a lovely girl, yet the ravages of the dread disease had already begun to manifest themselves when she graduated.

CRUCIFIX FROM THE MOTHER SUPERIOR

“The day of her graduation the Mother Superior took the young girl to her own room, shut the door, and said gently and sweetly: “’Alice, to-day you go from us. You have been one of best and most conscientious pupils and we love you. I hope and pray that you shall be spared to your friends and the world for many years, but if the Lord should call you away I know of no one who is better prepared. Take this beautiful crucifix. It is a gift from me. Wear it next your heart and never lose it or neglect to wear it. God bless you, my darling.’

“The young girl of course was delighted with the gift, and immediately suspended the beautiful trinket around her chaste neck so that the cross rested upon her fair breast, rising and falling with the pulsations of that lovely bosom. She returned to her home near Campus, and in time consumption had so far advanced as to confine its victim to her bed. She never for a moment neglected to wear the crucifix, and when she learned that her death was a question of but a few days she exacted a most solemn pledge from her friends to bury the crucifix with her.

SACRED EMBLEM WAS FORGOTTEN.

“Death came one morning early to the young woman, and of course grief was general around that household, so that in preparing the body for its final resting place the crucifix was temporarily removed and laid aside. One of the servants had promised Miss Alice that she would see that the crucifix hung around the dead girl’s neck, but the servant girl in her grief forgot her promise, and did not again think of the crucifix until the funeral cortege was leaving the house the day of the funeral. Filled with remorse for her carelessness, she hastily snatched the crucifix from the drawer in which she had placed it and took it with her to the cemetery. As the coffin was being lowered into the grave the servant girl threw the crucifix away into the tall grass nearby, saying to herself that, as she had failed to carry out her mistress’ wishes, she did not propose to have any one find the cross about the house and then chide her for not seeing that it was buried with the dead girl.

“It’s rather a long story,” continued the speaker, “but I will come to the point now by saying that the spirit of that girl could not rest without the crucifix.

SEES A FORM DRESSED IN WHITE

“I was going by the cemetery a few nights after her burial and saw a form dressed in white moving slowly among the gravestones. I was not too much horrified to step nearer, when I discovered that the object was the spirit of Alice M. She was walking slowly along, one hand was clasped convulsively to her bosom while the other was shading her eyes. Her head was bent forward, and seemed to be searching for something in the grass. Suddenly the apparition disappeared. The same apparition was seen by other people, but Dr. ___ was the last person to witness the strange sight. He was driving past the cemetery late one night. It was moonlight. His attention was attracted to the spirit form, and while he was gazing at it the spirit suddenly stopped, stooped down quickly and picked something out of the grass. Whatever it was sparkled in the moonlight. ‘I saw the features of the girl,’ Dr. ___ said to me afterward, ‘when she had found the crucifix, for such it was. They were radiant, like that of the fairest angel. The vision then disappeared.’ And,” continued the narrator of the story, “the spirit has never again been seen in the cemetery at Campus.”

Just then the “jag train” whistled.

The Cincinnati [OH] Enquirer 6 October 1894: p. 13

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Dr Keeley was Dr Leslie Keeley of the Keeley Institute of Dwight, Illinois, one of the first institutions to try to treat alcoholism as a disease rather than a moral failing. Over a span of 31 days, patients were gradually weaned off alcohol and given “gold” injections and special tonics. Dr Keeley claimed to have a 96% success rate.  There was much skepticism and derision about the “Keeley Cure,” as evidenced in this article.

Given its proximity to the institute for inebriates, Mrs Daffodil is inclined to think that there might possibly be a more earthly explanation for figures in white flitting round the graveyard. Mrs Daffodil refuses to make the obligatory joke about “spirits.”

The theme of a ghost who cannot rest due to unfinished business is a ubiquitous one. Here is a similar tale from Ohio about another adherent of the Roman church, who also was troubled when her prized religious articles were not buried with her.

GUARDING

HER ROSARY AND PRAYER BOOK,

REMOVED TO A BARN

IS SAID TO BE THE WOMAN’S GHOST

Sandusky, Ohio. February 4. The people in the vicinity of Mustcash are worked up over the report that the ghost of a devout Christian woman, recently deceased, may be seen each night between 11 and 12 entering an old barn near the house in which she died.

The decedent was a strict Catholic, and to her a prayer book and rosary, which she possessed, were sacred. It is believed by her friends that she stands guard over these church articles, which the purchasers of the old homestead recently removed from the house and placed on a high ledge in the barn.

Many residents of Mustcash are afraid to pass the barn after dark, and some have expressed an intent to move out of the neighbourhood. The Zick family has already made arrangements to move. Mrs. Chapman, who resides opposite the barn, claims to have seen the ghost last night. Cincinnati [OH] Enquirer 5 February 1906: p. 4

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.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s