A Halloween Ghost: c. 1890

howdy skeleton

howdy skeleton

A HALLOWEEN GHOST

Doctor Thought Dying Patient Kept Promise

Dr. L.R. Darwin of New York was in town yesterday and continued his journey last night to San Francisco. He was at one time connected with the Bellevue hospital of New York and he tells a story of Dr. J. P. Griffin, who was then at the head of the hospital.

Mr. Griffin was ordinarily not afraid of ghosts, but he quaked once. He was attending a patient with a malady which proved an enigma to the doctors. When the patient was told that he could not live long he called for Dr. Griffin.

“Doctor,” he asked, “do you believe in spirits?”

“I can’t say,” replied the doctor, “that I do.”

The man continued, “I believe in spirits; I’ve seen them. Now it’s about six months until the next Hallowe’en. When I die I’ll remember you and I’ll try to make you aware of my presence.”

The man died and soon the doctor forgot the incident. When Hallowe’en came the doctor was in his study room. He had intended going down town, but a rain prevented him. He did not feel sleepy, so he passed the evening in the dissecting room. Several cadavers were lying about the room. The flashes of lightning and claps of thunder were not calculated to fill one with enjoyment in a dissecting room, but Dr. Griffin was accustomed to the dead, so that his ghostly surroundings did not disturb him.

Taking a dissecting knife he proceeded to examine the body of a man who had died of an unknown disease. The room was lighted with electric lights which suddenly grew dim. The thread-like wires in the incandescent lamps were blood red. From a distant corner of the room there came a sound like the scraping of sandpaper. It grew louder and the doctor felt a sense of uneasiness, which changed to fear and became so intense that he was fixed to the spot. Gradually his muscles relaxed and he gathered courage to start toward the corner from which the noise proceeded. The promise of the dying patient to make some manifestation on Hallowe’en now recurred to him.

The doctor went to a case containing the skeleton of the man. The sound had abated, but a ghastly sight was presented when the case door was opened. The headpiece swayed to and fro. This was evidence enough for the doctor, who started back in horror. He could almost see his former patient frowning on him for permitting him to die. He calmed somewhat, but the head was ceaseless in its motions. In a fit of horror, the doctor made a lunge at the bony figure, designing to tear it from its hangings, when the lights once more shone out brightly. At the same instant a rat sprang from the skeleton and scurried away.

Weekly Republican [Phoenix, AZ] 20 July 1899: p. 5

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Medical students had a reputation as cynical, hard-drinking pranksters.  They were forever throwing skeletons out of windows, propping up cadavers in front of school buildings, and scaring friends and family witless.

BOY’S PRACTICAL JOKE.

Skeleton in Attic at Glencoe Animated by Wires.

Chicago, Aug. 24. When Miss Marie Henry, residing near Glencoe, on Sunday saw a human skeleton apparently jumping around in the attic in her dwelling, she was seized with convulsions, and her condition now is critical.

At first it was feared the young woman might permanently lose her mind.

The skeleton is the property of Miss Henry’s brother, a medical student, and long had hung in the attic. It was animated by means of hidden wires by Henry and several of his friends. It was a “practical joke.”

The Leavenworth [KS] Times 25 August 1904: p. 8

That morgue-minded person over at Haunted Ohio has written on “A Post-Mortem Room Ghost,” a story which, she says, shook even her hardened sensibilities.

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.

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 )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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 )

Connecting to %s