Hello, one and all! Jack O’Lantern here again! You know, just the other day I was talking to my friend Franz, you may know him as The Headless Horseman, about how awesome it is that the ghost story is the USA’s go-to form of folklore. Oh, sure, there are a few legends and tall tales and some transplanted fairy tales. However, what is it that the Yanks always seem to tell around the campfire? Ghost stories! So, I thought I’d make use of another of this blog’s features and present you with my Top 7 Favorite
Ghost Stories. US
7) Bloody Mary (
Pennsylvania/ Montana/ )- We might
as well start with a classic. Everyone
knows the Bloody Mary ritual. Say her
name into a mirror three times in the dark and she will come for you. However, there are many different versions of
this story across the Indiana
(click each state to get to a different version). One version states that she was an old witch
that stole the lives of young girls to make herself younger. Others claim she was the murdered daughter of
a cruel man. Either way, say her name
into the mirror if you dare and see what happens. USA
6) Henry Hudson and the Catskill Gnomes (
No list of ghost stories would be complete without at least one
historically inspired tale. This one
takes us to the New York Catskill Mountains. The explorer Henry Hudson and his crew went
into the mountains following some strange music. What they found was a group of unusual
dwarfish individuals drinking beer and playing ninepins. They say that to this day that the gnomes
still gather to play and drink and that they’re always joined by a crew of
ghosts: Henry Hudson and his men. This
particular tale also served as inspiration for Washington Irving’s story “Rip Van Winkle”.
5) Invisible Hands or The Tommy Knockers (
Nevada)- This is a
great example of a ghost story tradition that has been carried over from the Old World. In many
countries across Europe there are accounts of
miners hearing the sound of people working in the mine even though no one was
there. This is attributed to spirits or
fairies. In , they’re called knockers
(from the sound of pickaxes knocking against the mine wall). In Scotland they’re called the
bucca. And in England they’re called
kobolds. Miners from Germany also report encountering such
creatures. However, their versions seem
more ghostly, seeing as they reportedly took the form of drills, hammers and
pickaxes working all by themselves as if wielded by invisible hands. This story has spread and in the Nevada ,
such creatures have come to be known as Tommy-Knockers. US
4) The Sobbing Ghost (
Every list of ghost stories needs a sea story. However, this one’s a little different. This story concerns pirates who never leave
dry land. Stories tell of wreckers,
gruesome pirates who draw ships too close to shore so that they wreck. Then they strip everything that comes ashore
of anything valuable. Another story that
the wreckers appear in is “The Wreck of the New Jersey Palatine”. This particular story concerns a young lady
who was the daughter of a leader of a band of wreckers living on .
A lovely young lady with a beau living overseas. She went out one day with her father’s crew
to strip a wrecked ship. However, she
was unprepared for what she saw. Among
all the dead, drowned bodies that washed ashore, there was one that she
recognized. That of her lover! The grief was too much for her and she
died. Yet, her ghost still wanders the
beaches of Long Beach Island sobbing for her
lost love. Long Beach
3) Death Waltz (
one’s a real spooker! A tale of love
turned bad. A young soldier named Johnny
at New Mexico falls for a coquettish
beauty. She promises to be true to him
forever (though, for some, promises are easily forgotten). The soldier goes out to fight the Apaches and
doesn’t return, his body disappearing in the chaos. Some time passes, but not much, and his
girlfriend finds a new man, a handsome lieutenant. Before long it’s their wedding day. And that’s the day Johnny decides to
return! I’m not going to say
anymore. Click the title to read the
story and get the full effect. Fort Union
2) Burnt Church (Georgia)- Stories of witches are almost as common as stories about ghosts and this one’s a great witchy tale! A sophisticated new teacher comes to teach at a little school in a small town in
. The parents are thrilled at first. However a local man named Smith, known as a
drunk and a troublemaker regards her with suspicion. Pretty soon, the children start to act
strangely. They start to lie to their
parents, have secret meetings in the woods and sometimes can be heard chanting
in a strange language. It turns out
Smith might be right, and he plans to take action with the use of a lit
torch. But will that rely end the
teacher’s sorcerous power? Georgia
1) Black Aggie (
)- Now this
one will give anyone the creeps. That’s
why it’s number one. A man named Felix
Agnus puts up the statue of a grieving angel in the local cemetery. The statue is a strange, unsettling
sight. It’s likeness is caught in a
moment of intense pain and grief. Pretty
soon, stories start to spread about the statue nicknamed “Black Aggie”. They said she was haunted by the spirit of a
mistreated wife whose body lay beneath her feet. They also said that the statue’s eyes glowed
red at midnight and anyone who returned the gaze would be struck blind. Others said that if you sat on the statue’s
lap at night, it would crush you in a dark embrace. Still others claimed that the spirits of the
dead gathered around the statue at night.
However, these were all just rumors. Nothing truly bad happened until
the day a few fraternity brothers snuck into the cemetery for an initiation
test. That’s when her true dark power
was revealed. Maryland
Now how’s that for a list? No one knows ghost stories like me. I have every one of them etched into the ectoplasm of my mind.
Adam: Who are you kidding? I caught you looking at American Folklore’s A to Z Ghost Story list. Bet you didn’t even get halfway through.
Jack: I don’t know what you’re yapping about.
Adam: Oh, well. I will say that your posts haven’t been too bad. I even have a gift to thank you for spicing up my blog for the month.
Jack: Really? What is it?
Adam: A new trick-or-treat bag! [presents bag to Jack]
Jack: Huh. Well, it just looks like an old sack to me.
Adam: Well then, Whickety Whack! Into my sack!
Jack: AAAAGGGGHHH! [gets drawn into the sack]
Adam: Well, now maybe things can get back to normal around here.
This ends Jack O’Lantern’s Halloween haunting, but if you’d like to see Jack come back next year, post in the comments below.