Learning more about American Ghosts

by MJ Wayland

I have spent nearly four months researching and delving into America’s archives hunting for reports of ghostly sightings and occurrences, and what an informative journey it has been. Aside from uncovering some of the most strangest ghost stories I have ever read, I have also discovered the following about American Ghosts:

  • The Bell Witch – This most infamous of ghostly cases from 1804 doesn’t even warrant a mention in any newspapers from 1800 to 1890.
  • Demons – Absolutely no mention of people being haunted or attacked by demons in the Victorian age and certainly no Warren like demonologists.
  • Pre-1840s Americans were a highly sceptical bunch more curious than being believers. The Fox Sisters put paid to that and the ghost phenomenon began to spread across the US and UK.  The massive increase in “real life” reports of ghost activity in the media can be directly correlated with the first reports of activity at the Fox household.
  • Between 1830 and 1878 two ghost folk tales regularly appeared in the media; The Barber’s Ghost, a story about a gentleman discovering the truth behind a saloon’s ghost and stealing money from “believers” and The Sign Ghost when a rough and tough farmer stays at a saloon he sleeps in the most haunted bedroom and proves the town’s authorities wrong.
  • The Capitol Building was without doubt the most haunted building in the whole of the US. And probably still is!
  • America’s haunted history from a media perspective started in the 1830s, previous stories related to ghosts witnessed in Britain – not the U.S.
  • As with Britain, the USA had it’s fair share of hoaxers and liars.  I discovered some ghost stories were created by counterfeiters to discourage local interest in the areas they worked.
  • By the end of the 19th century most of the United States’ most famous mediums had been exposed as frauds or at least had several allegations against them.  The Bangs Sisters, Fox Sisters and the Eddy Brothers were all exposed to have faked seances and paranormal activity.
  • And to finish on a high note – I discovered a rich seam of very interesting ghost cases, many of which, on the face of it defy explanation.

I have been able to compile 50 ghost stories from the archives that not only provide the usual scare, but will also give the reader an impression of 19th century America and it’s belief system towards ghosts.  Hopefully the book should be released at the beginning of October.

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