The Drunkard’s Dead Wife Returns: 1891

Sleeping It Off, Image from the British Library

Sleeping It Off, Image from the British Library


Her Spirit Making It Hot For the Drunkard Who Made Her Life Miserable.

[St. Paul Pioneer-Press.]

Out near the power house of the East Seventh-Street cable line there lives a man who is haunted by the ghost of his dead wife. At least this is the story he tells, and he is corroborated by his children, who say they also have seen the spirit of their mother.

The name of the man is given as Gordon, and it is said that he has been a hard drinker for a number of years. About a year ago his wife brought suit for divorce, alleging, among other reasons why the matrimonial knot should be severed, that her husband was an habitual drunkard. Previous to this time entreaties and threats had been tried upon the man, but without avail. The prospect of a separation from his wife, however, brought him to his senses, and he promised that if she would only live with him he would certainly reform.

In order to make the promise of more effect he sought out a priest and took a solemn oath that he would not drink any more intoxicating liquor as long as his wife should live. Relying upon this solemn promise of her husband to reform the wife once more forgave him, and divorce proceedings were stopped.

For a time all went well. The man stopped drinking, and it really began to look as if the wife was at least to realize some of the comforts of home life, of which she had been deprived for so many years. But her fond hopes were soon blasted. Love for liquor proved stronger than his love for his wife, and the man was soon following his old life of drunkenness.

The wife seemed to be utterly discouraged by her husband’s action, and after lingering for a few weary weeks she sank down in the sleep of death, and found the peace she had long looked for in vain. After her death the man continued to indulge his evil habit, and it is said by his acquaintances that of late he seldom had a sober moment of existence.

Recently, however, his drunken enjoyment has been interrupted, and he claims that the ghost of his dead companion continually haunts him and upbraids him for breaking his oath. At first he only plunged deeper into dissipation, if that were possible, but he could not free himself from the woman who had died in grief for his neglect and abuse. Her face appeared before him continually during the still watches of the night, wearing a look of reproach that nearly rendered him insane. At last he pleaded with the spirit to leave him alone. To a friend he afterward said that in response to his entreaties the spirit said she would haunt him until he should die. Becoming angry at her refusal to leave him, he seized a gun and fired it at the ghost, but, with a mocking laugh, it disappeared, only to come again on the succeeding night.

The children say they also have seen their mother. There are two of the children, a girl of 12 years and a boy of 9, and both stoutly maintain that they have seen their mother in the house since she died.

Cincinnati [OH] Enquirer 31 May 1891: p. 19

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  One suspects that if the drunkard had reported seeing the proverbial pink elephants, the children would have stoutly corroborated his account, hoping to shock their father back to sobriety. Although an article from July 1891 notes that the ghostly wife’s “persistent pleading and upbraiding finally had effect and now he drinks now more,” Mrs Daffodil is not sanguine and hopes that the authorities removed the children from a home so fraught with horror and firearms.

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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