Question of the Week: Do you have ghost stories in your family tree?

+14 votes
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With Halloween coming up, it seemed fun to ask about ghosts, haunted houses or other spooky tales that have been passed down.  

Do you have any ghost stories in your family tree? 

I do! I have an actual ghost - Philip Babb. From his profile: 

[A]n islander was sitting on the porch of his home one warm spring night. Looking toward Babb's Cove he thought he saw a figure skulking about the rocky beach. The figure then began to make its way toward the path to the islander's house. The islander thought it strange that he hadn't heard any footsteps on the stone beach and rose from his chair to intercept the mysterious form. As he got closer, he was horrified to see the vacant eyes and glowing frock of Babb's ghost. He called out, asking what the ghost wanted, but Babb still advanced, his figure waxing and waning in distinction, until suddenly he just disappeared.

What spooky tales do you have in your family? 

P.S. Reshare the question image on Facebook so your friends and family will see your answer.

asked in The Tree House by Eowyn Langholf G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
edited by Eowyn Langholf

Elizabeth Neblett Orgain, wife of William Derby Orgain, was my 5g grandmother. A couple (The Keisers) who catalog and photograph gravesites as a hobby for FindAGrave.com were looking for one of the Orgain family cemeteries Brunswick County, VA where William and Elizabeth and one other Orgain were buried.  They had narrowed their search down to two possible sites. They had visited this property owner's house the previous week and were told to come back this day. I have edited the story just a bit. It is still long because I didn't want to lose the lovely flavor of the telling:

This is the way Mr. Keiser recounted his story (which I share with permission) that he entitled 

"Sacred to the Memory of Elizabeth Orgain, by Henry W. Keiser:

"Erwin looked at me sheepishly and asked, 'Do you believe in haints?' 
 'I've seen a lot of things in my life, Mr. M, some make sense, some don't.'
We were standing in an old family cemetery on a low rise behind his chicken houses. The plot was once surrounded by a rock wall, but time and neglect had left only the foundation. The oaks that shaded the burial ground had grown tall and their leaves had built a rich compost over the graves. There were three markers still standing. They dated to the 1820s. 
'I come up here each fall and rake the leaves...I uncovered a gravestone that had fallen over and stood it up. About a month later strange things began happening in the chicken house. I leave the radio on for the birds; I like country, but one morning I went in and it was set to classical. I turned it back to country, but when I came back a few hours later, it was on classical again. I asked my wife about it, and she said she hadn't been out there at all, and then she told me of being in the building a couple days earlier and seeing the office door open, then watching the birds part like someone was walking through them, but nobody was there.'
Erwin and his wife are deeply religious evangelicals with family roots dating before the Civil War. The Orgain family had founded the town of Alberta. People down here understand that not every spirit crosses over when they die; local folklore is rich with ghost tales told as casually as one talks about yesterday's weather. Erwin and his wife had no difficulty accepting their recent guest.
If they needed any confirmation that they had a haint, it came when technicians showed up to inoculate the birds. The crew leader took one look at the chicken house, turned to Erwin and said, 'I ain't going in there Mr. M. You got a haint in there.'

'What are you going to do with the pictures?', Erwin asked. 
'They will be posted on the internet, but because this site is on private property, only a general location will be added.'

'How do you think Elizabeth is going to react?', he asked.

'She'll love it; we're going to make her a cyberspace rock star.'

 A few months later I ran into Erwin at the feed store.

 'How is Elizabeth doing?' 

 A gentle smile appeared on his face. 'We haven't seen hide nor hair of her since the day you were on the farm."




 

What a great story!

I have a couple, I'll share (and one or two that I won't) but they all happened to me! The first time, I was in College at USC. As a drama major in a conservatory program, all of my classes for my major were spent with the same 28 people. One night I had a very vivid dream about a male member of a classmate's family. Now, I didn't know a thing about this guy or his family except he grew up wealthy (he's now a well known producer). When I got to dance class first thing the next day, I asked him if everyone in his family was ok, and told him about my dream; that a male member of his family had had a motorcycle accident on a hill. My friend went white as a sheet and said, "My brother skidded off the side of the road on his bike last night" The whole class was speechless.

The second was, I'm sure, a visit from my dad. He died when I was fifteen and my parents had been divorced since I was little, so I didn't remember him living in the house. After he died, I started wearing his wedding ring on my middle finger. I'm home at Christmas break, sitting on the floor watching Star Trek, and playing with the ring in my mom's new carpet. I pushed the ring down so all of the strings of carpet were inside and around the ring -it was sitting on the base, then I brushed the carpet so it wouldn't show. Then, it wasn't there. POOF! It was just gone. My mom had the carpet cleaned early in the spring that year and it never showed up. Because I was so upset and my mom asked her cleaning lady to empty the vacuum bag and look for the ring ever time she came. Spring break comes around and I'm at home again sitting cross-legged on the floor with my elbows resting on my knees. Suddenly it felt like someone had hit my right arm from behind and my hand landed on the carpet. I lifted my hand and there sat that ring, as pretty as you please! I went yelling to my mom to tell her. I swear she thought till the day she died that I made it up, but cross my heart, it happened just like that.

My Mother lived in a mobile home on our property. She passed away in July 1999.  We sold her mobile, had it moved and replaced it with a new manufactured home  using the original footprint which is where we now live.  About a month after we moved in I had my 3- year -old grandson with me  He had lived with his parents in my mother's mobile, Great Grandma would watch him in his playpen while his Mom was otherwise occupied.  He would crawl over to her and pull himself up on her walker until she could reach him and pull him up onto her lap and they would cuddle and watch the Game Show Network together. He took his first tentative steps in front of her. They spent a good deal of time together. he was 2 years,  3 months old when she passed away and hadn't lived here for over a year.  One afternoon he was coloring pictures and presenting me with the results. He then took one piece of his artwork and put it on the floor across the room from me and positioned it where my Mother's chair had been in her house.   I told him not to spread his papers all over the room. He said "that one is special for my Gramma"  I said "Yes, thank you, please bring it over here."  his reply surprised but didn't frighten me. "No, it's for my little Gramma!"  " Little  guy our Grandma had to leave us."  He looked at me and said  "No Grandma, she's in her chair right there!"  I left that paper right where he left it!   

Later on, when his two little brothers were grown enough to play and bicker among  themselves if things began to get too loud or out of hand the water faucet in the bathroom right off the family room where they usually hung out would turn on full blast.  With 3 little boys this was pretty much a daily occurrence.  One time they were really acting off and it happened 3 times in 2 hours!  I finally got so I'd say "it's ok Mom, I've got them" and it wouldn't happen.   They are older now and it hasn't happened for a few years but last time all 3 were here at once there was a sports discussion that got a little loud and the faucet once again came on full blast!   

My Mom didn't just play referee for the boys.  She apparently would get bored with my choice of television programs.  I would be home alone and if I would leave the room when I came back the TV would be tuned to the Game Show Network!
Having many ministers in the lines...they had plenty of ghost and spirit stories...and if lines are correct, there are a couple of Melisendes..lots of stories there

18 Answers

+13 votes
 
Best answer

It's been told by my grandmother that her grandfather, George Curtis (Curtis-3526) would come upstairs every night to check on the little children before he would retire for the evening. The day that he died was no different. He passed away earlier in the day and that night it is said, "as plain as day, the door opened and Grandpa Curtis looked in to be sure the children were tucked in and all was well".

answered by
selected by J-M Mustchin
+7 votes

With  my direct ancestors I don't know of any, but I have had personal experiences as it is a personal hobby of mine. My 7th cousin, the infamous Lizzie Borden, would probably be the most famous haunting that relates to my family although distantly.  

https://www.biography.com/news/the-lizzie-borden-house-haunted

answered by James Stratman G2G6 Mach 5 (56.6k points)
edited by James Stratman
Interesting! My grandmother Edna Powell Schick (Powell-860) grew up in Fall River on County Street. She related tales of walking slowly by Lizzie Borden's home and shouting out, at the top of her lungs, the now famous rhyme:   Lizzie Borden took an axe/ And gave her mother 40 whacks/ And when she saw what she had done/ She gave her father 41!

Although she immensely enjoyed doing it at the time, she regretted it later in life, often pondering about the old lady's lonely, isolated life.
We must be related. She would be a distant cousin of mine, also.
Alison....Yes we are connected  through Thomas Lawton and Elizabeth Salisbury. You would be my 10th cousin. :)
Karen...that must have been such a memorable event for your grandmother.  So children really did sing that rhyme to Lizzie.  Lizzie was acquitted, found not guilty, however, I think there is strong reason to believe she was involved somehow. I think likely because of the timeline of the murders which indicate it had to have come from within the home.

We should be double distant cousins by marriage, as we are both related to Lizzie Borden. Her 5-greats grandfather is Thomas Cornell Jr. His daughter, Innocent (Cornell) Borden (not to be confused with your Innocent (Borden) Bozorth) is the wife of your ancestor Richard Borden (They are the parents of Thomas Borden.) Thomas Cornell Jr. is my 9-greats grandfather. He also has a nefarious reputation, having been hung for murdering his mother. He was convicted on hearsay and spectral evidence, and was probably innocent. Hence, his daughter's name. She was born shortly after he was hung.

Alison....My direct ancestors are Richard Borden and Thomas Lawton, but I don't have any direct connection to Thomas Cornell Jr. or any Cornell family. I wish I did because that would be a very interesting genealogy line. Thomas Cornell Jr. would be father-in-law of my first cousin, Susannah Lawton.

+9 votes

My Nana (Elizabeth Pye nee Singleton) was an excellent story teller, so I have plenty how many are actually 'true' is a different matter - One about an ancestor having a Prophetic Dream of a catholic Priest hiding in a field on waking he went to check it out an sure enough there was, supposedly he hid him and the Priest evaded capture, Not a 'Ghost' Story but spooky if true.

More recently My Auntie swears that when she died she appeared to her during that evening at the foot of her bed - My Auntie on awaking said it froze her, she couldn't take her eyes from the apparition and she woke My Uncle up by nudging him he said he only caught a glimpse before she disappeared but there was definitely something there surprise

answered by Heather Jenkinson G2G6 Mach 1 (10.5k points)
That same thing happened to me when my mom passed away.
+5 votes
answered by Doug Lockwood G2G Astronaut (2.3m points)
+8 votes
My great grandma's brother, Henry was walking home through the woods on a cold, snowy night in Maine.  On the path he met the parish priest and spoke with him and continued on his way home.  The next day they heard the news that the priest was killed in a train accident and would already have been deceased when he saw him in the woods. Coincidentally he too died of injuries caused by a train.
answered by
+6 votes
Last year my father contacted me the moment he passed, before anyone called to inform me. I hadn't even been told he was ill. He spoke right into my ear loud and clear multiple times, not with words, but with the familiar hollering sound he used when calling outdoors for us to come home when we were kids. Of course I was startled, at first, but after awhile it felt comforting somehow. Clearly he wanted me to come home, and I did, from a great distance across country as quickly as I could. My mother says he saw his own parents just before he passed and went home to be with them. As I presently live in the same general area of the country they used to, it seems he made a stop at my place along the way.
answered by Martyn Mulford G2G6 Mach 2 (21.2k points)
edited by Martyn Mulford
+4 votes

Thanks to Dr. David B. Boles for this article.  John MacQueen mentioned in this article would be my 8th great grandfather.

Witches By Dr. David B. Boles

"The most elaborate witch story in my background is that of the McQueen witch, who cast her spells around the end of the 17th century. John McQueen of Pollochaig, co. Inverness, Scotland, was a famous sportsman who went out one day hoping to kill a deer. After a long way he came across one, which went down when shot. But when John scoured the area for his prize, it couldn’t be found. He returned home empty-handed, and that night told the story at his fireside."

"Certain he had killed his quarry, he returned the next morning to the spot. There he met an old woman, who said to him, “Black John son of Dougall, take the lead out of my foot which you put into it yesterday.” This he did, and when finished he asked her for a wish or blessing. She thought a moment, and replied, “Your best day will be your worst day, and your worst day will be your best day.”

"Years later this prophecy became true, when John’s son was captured at the Battle of Preston and was subsequently transported overseas. It was John’s worst day for the future of his sept in Scotland.  But it was his best day for the future of his many descendants in America."

answered by James Stratman G2G6 Mach 5 (56.6k points)
+5 votes
Although I was too young to remember it, the first house I lived in was haunted. Before my parents were married, my dad bought the house two doors down from his parents, with whom he still lived, and rented it to my mom. My mom (who still claims that she doesn't believe in ghosts, but there was something wrong in that house) would, most nights, end up knocking on my grandparents' door and asking to sleep on their couch. They all thought it was funny, but let her. When my parents were married, Dad moved into the house with Mom. That's when he realized the house was haunted. I have heard stories of the water-filled dog bowl scraping across the room while the dog was asleep next to their bed. There were other things, too, that I can't remember offhand. All this time, my parents were busily remodeling the house. And then one night Dad woke up and saw Mrs. Johnson standing at the foot of the bed, looking at him. He had grown up in this neighborhood and recognized his old, deceased, neighbor. He reached over to wake up Mom, but Mrs. Johnson turned and went through the wall. The house was now quite different than it had been when Mrs. Johnson lived there, and the haunting stopped.
answered by Amber Brosius G2G6 (6.6k points)
+4 votes

My great great great great grandfather Samuel Hastings was said to have hung himself in 1830 in his Baltimore, Vermont barn, on October 31 no less.  The barn and later its foundations were supposedly haunted, as reported in the town's history book.  A couple years ago I went to the town to look for the barn's location, but didn't have much luck, though I did find his gravestone in the local cemetery.

My great great great grandfather Samuel Bailey was the brakeman on a train that crashed in North Thetford, Vermont in 1851.  Prior to the accident, the train was stopped twice because the conductor saw a figure of a man on the tracks.

answered by Brian Lamothe G2G6 (7.5k points)
+5 votes
I've been haunted my whole life! I've seen them, heard them, and felt them. However, after being diagnosed with narcolepsy a few years ago I now have an explanation for this phenomena. It's been a wild ride!
answered by Em Laetsch G2G1 (1.4k points)
This must have been one of those glass half-empty or half-full moments: How great to find out you weren't haunted, but narcolepsy brings its own challenges!

I have heard that in sleep or partial sleep states we have lessened our natural tendencies that would prevent us from being more receptive to experiences. So your medical condition may have allowed you to experience what most never do. When we are fully awake our minds are busy and not rested and we have a lot of "noise" that any possible experience would have to get past. That said, I think there is definately a point in sleep deprevation where you would not be able to rely on what you perceive as any actual experience as they begin to fall into the hallucination category. Having previously worked with a population, of which some had serious sleep problems, I know too that serious unchecked sleep deprevation can have very negative and seemingly long-term effects on one's overall mental and physical health. I am glad you got the medical help you needed. As a Christian, I don't fear these experiences or anything that may or may not be behind them. 

+4 votes

There's a very old ghost or at least supernatural story associated with Barry-2632, the Welsh historian and scholar known as Geraldus Cambrensis, tutor to King John. I don't know of any children for him, but his siblings have many living descendants, the lines not yet filled in. Anyway, here's the story. 

"My brother, Walter de Barri, a man of status and a gallant soldier,made preparation for an expedition against his enemies. The night before he was due to set out, my mother, who had died long before, appeared to him in a dream, and earnestly advised him to find some means of avoiding the next day's expedition -- I should add that she was not his mother, but his stepmother, but she loved him as if he were her own son. Walter related what had occurred to his father, who was mine also (we being his sons by different mothers and therefore half-brothers) and our father gave him the same advice. However, he paid no attention to this advice, having all the arrogance natural to man, and being ashamed of appearing to be frightened by an idle dream.The next morning he went out on the expedition and was killed by the enemy the same day."

 

this is glossed with the information that Walter was probably Gerald's eldest half brother and that Gerald's mother was Anghared, daughter of Princess Nesta by Gerald de Windsor.

from The Conquest of Ireland in The Historical Works of Giraldus Cambrensis, included in Medieval Ghost Stories (Andrew Jones)

answered by Monica Edmunds G2G6 Mach 1 (18.4k points)
+3 votes
My dad (1915-2009) told me that his rich grandfather might have killed his wife (for his lover)...They owned the Hilltop Hotel in Harper's Ferry WV. Her ghost can supposedly be seen there.
answered by Sandy Kennedy G2G Rookie (290 points)
+3 votes
My grandma told me that when my mom was a baby (11 mos or so) one night after everyone had gone to be she was woken up by my mom screaming. She went in to check on her and could not open the bedroom door- it wasn't locked but it wouldn't budge. Scared she called for my grandpa and they went outside to check the window which was shut tight and locked from the inside. Through the window, they could see that the dresser had been shoved in front of the door and that is why it would not open. My grandpa was able to push the door open but there was no one in the room, just my mom crying.
answered by Misti Roberts G2G Rookie (290 points)
+1 vote

My ancestors' grave markers were bulldozed on All Souls Day, November 2, 1987, by the City of Seattle. My great-great grandfather, Samuel Bevan and his son's stone is safe at my home; my great grandfather William Dickinson's stone is safe. Both rescued by family. After bulldozing the property, the City changed the zoning from cemetery to retail and single family. I have fought this desecration for 20 years since my masters at Seattle U.

https://www.gofundme.com/manage/restore-historic-native-graveyard

http://cometlodgecemetery.blogspot.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comet_Lodge_Cemetery

answered by John Dickinson G2G Crew (530 points)
edited by John Dickinson
+2 votes

My grandma Jeannine, told me that her mother, Lillian Lynch one day looked out her window and saw her two sisters (who had already died) Aunt Violette and Aunt Sarah, walking together passed her house. She was quite spooked. This happened on the night before she passed away. 

answered by Tannis Mani G2G6 Mach 1 (12k points)
+2 votes
My sister-in-law (wife of my husband's older brother) woke one night, during a very stressful time, to see her deceased dad standing in her bedroom. He'd been a coal miner and was wearing the jeans and chambray shirt she recalled, with sleeves rolled up. She could smell the unique scent of her father. He spoke to her for a moment and then disappeared. His words and presence were a great comfort.

My step-mother woke one night to a kiss on her cheek, and knew it was her best friend. She found later that her friend had died in the night.

My 1st cousin was surrounded by ex-wife and his two children, after a massive stroke. I was awake...staring at my bedroom ceiling and praying for David. I felt him standing beside my bed, a sense of his presence. Later, I learned he had died during the night.
answered by
+1 vote

My ancestors, John and Mary Hunter, came from County Tyrone in 1811. They settled in Pennsylvania, and one granddaughter wrote a lovely history of their immigration and settling in America. One of the stories went this way:

"I recall grandmother when she was in our home as we sat around her knee telling of ... weird tales of the haunted house in Butler County on the Cooper farm. Grandfather and Uncle John were afraid to go into the house after dark. Sometimes Aunt Margaret would take her baby and go visiting. Grandfather and Uncle John would work and wait outside until she came [back] home to go in and make a light. Uncle John mended shoes and sometimes the shoes and tools and lasts would be flying through the room. They had a ladder that led to the loft. One of the boys went up the ladder and an old woman chased him in the chimney. He did not wait to come down the ladder, he just jumped. Mother told of Aunt Margaret Hunter's sister and herself sleeping on the floor. She did not know the house was haunted. When the other two girls said, "There it comes," and it did. It just lifted the bedclothes off of them. Mother said she just landed in bed between Uncle John and Aunt Margaret. Sometimes sitting quietly in the evenings, if there were apples in the room, they would begin to fly around."

answered by Alexandra Florimonte G2G6 Mach 1 (12.2k points)
+2 votes

Here is a story that my grandfather, Peter Stoner, wrote down about visitations by his two (successive) wives after the second had died. It is in his words, I corrected some minor spelling and punctuation errors, but did not change it in any other way. He was a mathematician, and scientifically minded; he was concerned about proof, and gives a long explanation at the end, how these were not dreams.

I posted another of his stories, about my great-great grandmother dying and coming back to life and dying again on the 52 Ancestor Challenge: https://www.wikitree.com/g2g/709234/52-ancestors-week-44-frightening

Visions or Dreams?

The following events occurred. To me they seem like visions. If the reader considers them dreams, he is at liberty to so consider them.

My first wife, Edith, passed away about 20 years ago. My second wife passed away four years ago. My bedroom has twin beds, I occupied the one nearest the door and my wife occupied the second bed. Edith was the aunt of Grace.

Almost immediately after Grace’s death, their nightly visits began. One night Edith would come and sit in the chair at the head of my bed and we would talk until I became drowsy, then she would get up and go around to the foot of my bed apparently to her bed.

The next morning I could not resist looking over at the wife’s bed to see if it had been slept in. Of course, it showed no signs, but the chair by my bed, in which she sat, held an alarm clock and other items and they were never disturbed either.

The next night Grace came, sat in the same chair and repeated the events of the former night performed by Edith.

This was repeated for a solid year. Neither one ever missed her turn and never were they both there at the same time. At the end of the year, at Grace’s last visit, she talked to me about the question “What should we tell people who asked what we had talked about?” She said people were asking and she should have an answer. We finally decided on an answer, but I can not remember what it was. Sometimes when I try to remember it I can feel my memory just at the edge of it but it always slips away again. I think eventually my mind may dig it up and clarify the subject. Grace has never visited me since that night.

Edith returns frequently, but never to the same routine. She never sits in the chair by the bed and talks. She appears in a short, old-looking house dress. She seems to do general house work: dishes, dusting, house cleaning, etc.

On one occasion she said to me “This dress is so old and tattered that I am ashamed to appear in it. I have not had a new dress since I have been here. I said, “Why, I’ll buy you a new one,” She answered, with a shocked expression, “You know you can’t do that.” Of course I knew it and felt embarrassed for making the statement. A third voice did answer, though, and said, “I’ll get you a new dress.” They left together and Edith returned with a bright red dress that reached the floor, like a party dress. She appeared to feel so proud in her new dress. She did not seem to be doing any house work after this.

The times and types of her appearing to me, talking and doing things for me, are so numerous I can neither estimate the number or the types of them.

But Edith and Grace, earlier, taking turns coming to my bed and talking to me every night for a whole year seems impossible for them to be dreams. My dreams are too wild and too varied to fit such a routine, (eg. Just night before last I dreamed there was an African lion in the house. I got something like a 3x4 about 12 feet long, drove the lion into a corner and started vigorously striking and poking him with the 3x4, yelling at him all the time “Stay! Stay!” I have heart trouble and woke up with a sharp heart pain.

Last night I dreamed a man brought me an article he said he had written. The first sheet or two were clipped from the advertising section of some newspaper; some sheets were typed and one sheet was the last typed sheet from one of my own articles, as this article is signed. He wanted me to sign the whole article as if it were my own. I refused, but took the article promising to read it and report to him later.)

These general types of dreams are common with me. They are definitely dreams. They do not repeat. The do not even seem to fit in the same brain with the dreams or visions about Edith and Grace. Those seem like visions with totally different origins and objectives from the dreams.

Peter W. Stoner

January 2, 1980

answered by Alison Gardner G2G6 Mach 2 (23.9k points)
edited by Alison Gardner

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