A Wedding at Midnight; A Phantom Bride and Groom: 1902

A gold framed locket, inset with marble containing miniature wedding photographs of Sir Bruce and Lady Chichester. http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/986211

Rather ghostly bridal couple in a locket.  http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/986211

PHANTOM CHAPEL WEDDING

A Midnight Ceremony by Ghosts in a Little Wisconsin Church

La Cross, Wis., Feb. 22 [sic]

In spite of the efforts of hundreds to solve the problem of the phantom wedding in the little Norwegian Methodist Chapel at the southeastern outskirts of this city, the mysterious bridal couple continues to make their periodical visits to the place.

Every night the sidewalks and fences near the chapel are filled with patient watchers who hope to see and solve the weird scenes the neighbors swear take place before the altar on nights favorable for ghostly manifestations. You may see 200 people patiently waiting for the midnight hour, all dumb and motionless and regardless of the cold.

One of the neighbors, a woman, first saw the strange sight one night while attending a sick child at midnight. She saw a light in the church, and going to the house door, sought to discover the cause. Upon reaching the open air, she says she heard a shrill scream and the lights went out. Other neighbors were told of the strange proceedings and they watched and saw, but discreetly kept their discoveries to themselves, so that it was some time before any of the people in the locality found courage to tell the story outside.

It remained for Mrs. J. Kalbusnik to give the news to the public.

The story told by those who claim to have seen the spectral couple is that they appear at a point several feet from the door of the church, as though alighting from a carriage. Then, arm in arm, the man and woman approach the door and walk through it, for the watchers have never yet seen it open. The church lights up immediately with a dull, misty, glow, too dim to enable one to see objects distinctly, and the couple float up to a point in front of the altar. There they halt, and for an instant remain perfectly quiet. The phantom bride turns to the unearthly groom, utters a scream, and the whole scene becomes again enveloped in darkness.

Ropes have been tied across the door, declares Mrs. Kalbusnik, and still the ghostly visitors go through without the slightest hesitation and the ropes are not disturbed in the least. Sometimes several days elapse between visits.

Members of the La Crosse Spiritual Society have investigated and say that they have proved the truth of the story to their own satisfaction.

Who are the ghostly visitors?

The unquiet spirit of some unhappily wedding pair forced to return to this initial scene of their unhappiness till some strange accident shall loose them from their misery?

That can hardly be. No man living can remember a wedding in that little church that has resulted in sorrow.

There is an explanation however, that many people believe accounts for the misty manifestations.

In the early days of the pioneer West, a prairie schooner slowly made its cumbersome way across the barren stretches of country with but two occupants inside. They were a man and a woman, young and fair, and newly wedded. But their title to the happiness they so passionately sought was not clear. For the woman had been loved by another man, whom she too had loved and promised to marry.

But temptation came and she proved faithless. And no sooner had she started forth, the bride of the new born love, than the old love died, and by his own hand.

When the prairie schooner reached the Mississippi River, the unfortunate lovers met their doom. They were attacked by Indians and butchered to death, and those who tell the tale today declare their fate to have been a just retribution visited on them by Heaven.

Can it be the souls of these who return by night to the chapel?

Many women have suffered from the strain of seeing the ghostly pair. Miss Lily Johnson, who made the attempt several nights ago, fainted and was taken home.

Boston [MA] Journal 3 February 1902: p. 2

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Bridal megrims, bashful bridegrooms, missing groomsmen, tiresome former lovers, anxiety about the wedding breakfast oysters—a bride has a hundred and one little worries on her wedding day. (One hundred and two if you count the mother-in-law who has threatened to don her own wedding gown for the ceremony because she has nothing else fit to wear.) The idea of repeating that day over and over ad nauseam; that is the true horror….

To judge by the many stories of spectral brides in the literature of the supernatural, the dictum that the dead “neither marry, nor are given in marriage,” seems to be speculative at best. Here is a previously-published tale of a ghostly wedding.

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.

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