Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Halloween ghost tale

As a child I loved ghostly tales, especially around Halloween. Of course, way back then, hauntings were a kinder, gentler thing. Nothing like the horrific blood and guts stuff kids hear today. In my youth there were no chainsaws or guys with razor blade fingers. Mostly ethereal vapors floating around that sometimes played ugly tricks on people. The old classics like Sleepy Hollow were told again and again and never failed to enthrall us.

Sometimes Mom would let my sister and I stay up late on Saturday night to watch the Spooktacular hosted by the Cruel Ghoul or some such goofy thing. Those old movies were never very violent and the special effects were corny. They hinted at doom but faded to black before anything terrible was seen. After an especially scary werewolf movie (where we only ever saw a woman's shoes morph into German Shepherd paws) we would go off to bed, shivering and whispering. My sister, who was younger, always made me look under the beds and in the closets;) Lucky for us, no ghosties ever hid in our bedroom.

There are not many tales of hauntings from my area of northern Illinois, in fact only four I have ever heard. I'll share one with you. Hope it raises a few goose bumps on your arms.


Click to enlarge and get the full effect.

(Click to look at skies all over the globe.)


Harriet Meyer was a meek and timid little woman. When she was only 17, she married a farmer, Walter Jackson, who was much older. They had only one daughter, Geraldine born the second year of their marriage. Walter had expected strong sons to help him on the farm. Years passed and it became obvious Harriet wasn't likely to produce any sons. Walter grew cruel and brutish toward his wife as time went on. The daughter, Geraldine, who should have been a comfort to her mother, instead became selfish and imitated her father's cruelties. One October evening in a drunken rage over some petty incident, Walter shoved his wife against the cook stove and she received a very horrible burn over a large area of her back.

The next morning, after doing the laundry and pegging it out on the clothes line, Harriet hanged herself in the root cellar.

A few weeks after her death, Walter told his friends at the tavern he had seen his wife's ghost in the kitchen of their farmhouse. The friends asked if he was afraid. No, he laughed, he wasn't scared of his dead, mousy wife. That night he managed to get himself home more than a little drunk. A ghostly Harriet met him at the kitchen door and proceeded to chase him through the house beating him on the head and shoulders with a cast iron skillet. It seemed the timid Harriet had developed a backbone after her death. Better late than never, I guess.

After that Harriet appeared quite often. She threw dishes at her daughter and on a few occasions Walter told people she threw knives at him. She stripped the beds of sheets and blankets, piled them in the barn and set them on fire. When Geraldine tried to cook, Harriet's ghost would dump the food on the floor. Neither farmer nor daughter knew what happened to most of their clothes. They just disappeared never to be found.

Of course no one believed a word of the wild tales Walter and his daughter told. Until the cold January night Harriet pushed her husband down the cellar stairs and locked her daughter outside in the frigid weather.

The Jacksons, father and daughter survived the assaults, but never set foot in the house again. Being fairly well off financially, they built a more modern house and barn across the street. Two years after the new house was built, Walter fell from the loft of his barn and died. Some say it happened on the very anniversary of Harriet's death.

Geraldine married a neighbor and the couple continued to live in the new house with their children.

To this day the old house remains locked and vacant. No one goes inside. It is said that Geraldine and her children were terrified to tear the old building down for fear the ghost inside would be set free to move across the road.












55 comments:

Dog_geek said...

Oooooh! I love a good ghost story! Thanks for sharing! As kids, we loved to tell ghost stories around the camp fire ("who's got my goooolden arm?")

Rob Ripma said...

Wow! Great shot!

Jamie and Randy said...

What a wonderful ghost tale! Me I don't play with the spooks, no mam! I've had too many dealings with them in the past and don't care to repeat it.

flydragon said...

Love that house!!! We also had a favorite ghostly story only ours had the line in it "give meeeee baaaack my liver". Not surprisingly, that's the only line I remember :)

Your EG Tour Guide said...

What a story! Poor Harriet seems to have had her revenge.

Happy Sky Watch!

Sandra said...

Real Halloween scenery - great picture. Bye and thank you for your visit

Mary said...

How creepy! And the perfect photo to go with the story!

Photo Cache said...

I enjoyed the story and the picture is great. Thanks.

Kim said...

Ok, that did raise some goosebumps!!!

I've tagged you on my blog, if you want to drop by and take a look

Kim x

Gail said...

Love this story! The photo is also wonderful. We never had such fun ghost houses in our neighborhood! Doesn't every kid want one! Gail

Coloradolady said...

What a story, love this post. Thanks for sharing. Happy SWF.

Pat - An Arkansas Stamper said...

Loved your ghost story. The photo of the haunted house is just perfect!

Bradley Myers said...

A great photo and story, glad I stopped by. I really enjoyed your other photographs also.

Morning Glories in Round Rock said...

Oooo! A perfect story for the Halloween season. I love the picture of the old house. The gingerbreading at the peak of the roof is beautiful. Wouldn't you love to hear the stories that old house could whisper to you!

Balisha said...

What a story! The house picture is really cool.

Louise said...

You couldn't have picked a better photo to go with your commentary. (Or did you choose your words to fit the photo?) Whatever, it works well. I love the photo--very artistic.

Lilli & Nevada said...

Oh i love that house and what a great story that was, very fitting for this season

tina said...

That is a super picture to go with the ghost story. Loved it.

BeadedTail said...

That ghost story is exactly the reason I will never own a old house like the one in the picture! I'm a big chicken!

Yen said...

Ok, I love the ghost story! But the photo of that old house looks nice but creepy:) Still, I love a good story! :D

Mine is up HERE. Hope to see you there! Happy SWF!~

beckie said...

Marnie, wonderful story! How appropriate for the season. I remember sitting around on campfire nights and hearing frightningly scary stories. What fun!

Brit' Gal Sarah said...

Spooooky and a seriously atmospheric shot too!

ilanadavita said...

Spooky!

Rose said...

Great story, Marnie and a really spooky photo to go with it! Ghost stories, especially believable ones like this, usually give me chills, but in this case I was rooting for Harriet--good for her!

Deborah Godin said...

That is a terrific ghost story, and the creep-factor to that house is right off the charts! That's not one "sky" I think I'd want to "watch" - wouldn't take my eyes off that house, keep waiting for a curtain in the window to move...

Maria said...

What a wonderful ghost tale! I love to read tales in my childhood very much, and your tale is just like those old stories - spooky, but the poor soul gets its revenge! :)

happyone said...

What a great ghost story and yes it did give me goose bumps!!
The house sure does look spooky!!

Dewdrop said...

Spooky! What a terrifying pic too! Yikes!

Robin said...

Good for Harriet! lol! Great story.

That's a very scary photo. Well done. :)

Quiet Paths said...

whew, that's creepy - the story that is. Hee. Thanks for sharing, I think. The photo is very cool.

Pearl Maple said...

Great photo for sky watch friday and getting into the halloween mood. Like your photos of the cardinals, they have always been my favorite birds.

Thanks for your kind comments on my post earlier.

Kathleen said...

oh my Marnie, those are the kind of ghost stories I like. I don't get into the terror, gore and violence of todays stories either. I'd love to have a house like the one you featured nearby but only to take pictures of ~ I'd be way to chicken to go inside!

Itravelhereandthere said...

look scary up there but it's beautiful shot.

perennialgardener said...

Great ghost story...I love that kind of story, not the gross violent kind of movies they have now.

walk2write said...

I'm so scared, I'm afraid to even click on the picture! Great story, Marnie, and what a wonderful lesson for all bullies. Meanness will eventually catch up with them.

Sandra Carvalho said...

Awesome shot!Great story!What else ca n we ask?! ;)
Have a great weekend!

Arija said...

Love the ghost story, glad Harriet had some fun after all. Beautiful and very fitting shot of the house, just the right atmosphere.

The Birdlady said...

Ooooooh!

John said...

Great shot!

Gill - That British Woman said...

love the photo and the lighting........

Gill in Canada

Laura ~Peach~ said...

great photo cool story!

Rambling Woods said...

It's so true Marnie..The best ghost stories were not bloody red like the horror movies..I enjoyed this one..

Eddie D. said...

That's a perfect photo for a Halloween story, alright!

Kahshe Cottager said...

I am definitely goose-bumpy! I love what you did with the photo - it's perfect with your story.

Have a great weekend.

My SkyWatch is at Views From My Camera

bowledover said...

My first thought on seeing this charming house.
Was that it is waiting for something or someone, to take it over and bring it back to life.
After your story though it would seem someone inside is waiting for something or someone.
Thanks for sharing. Thank you also for your visit and comments SWF.

marmee said...

great story, i love the picture of the house with it.

SandyCarlson said...

How disturbing a sight! Wow. Wonderful photo.

The Organic Gardener said...

OOOOOO, ghostly scary! Who doesn't like a ghost tale!

DP Nguyen said...

I am so creeped out-- So GREAT job! :-) LoL.

garden girl said...

I felt the hairs stand on up on the back of my neck after seeing the house photo. It's very eerie looking! Great story! I love ghost stories like this one.

I grew up on the story of Ressurection Mary. When we moved from the north side of Chicago to the south suburbs, I was more than a little scared the first time we rode past Resurrection Cemetery, which was only blocks from our new house.

I soon learned that at the end of our block there was a very old house not unlike Harriet's house, supposedly haunted by woman much like Harriet. The house wasn't boarded up or locked, and it was a favorite, although in retrospect, probably dangerous place neighborhood kids would sometimes explore, but never alone, and we never set foot in the basement. It was very creepy inside that house, and we often ran out shreaking at the sound of the creeky old rafters and floorboards. The stories about our neighborhood ghost and her house are eerily similar to Harriet's story, although they met their ends in different ways. Our ghost was supposedly pregnant at the time her husband pushed her down the basement stairs to her death.

It was claimed that her hauntings drove her husband out of the house, which he was never able to sell since everyone knew it was haunted.

TC said...

The story didn't scare me as much as the house did! That's about the ghostliest lookin house I ever saw. So, yes, a few goose bumps tingled my arms. Oh my!

kd said...

I loved that story -- it's exactly the kind of ghost story that I used to adore as a kid and which I haven't come across in a long time.

Thanks, Marnie!

/krys

Q said...

Dear Marnie,
Wonderful "scary" story! I love the way ghosts have their day!
Nice old house too. Looks haunted.
Happy Halloween.
BOO!
Sherry

NovaS said...

ola!... that is one of a kind SWF! thanks for sharing this, i was fascinated but the view, check out mine HERE

The Tile Lady said...

Wonderful Skywatch photo, and marvelous ghost story! What a great Halloween post! Thanks, Marnie...
Marie