Monday, October 7, 2013
Mystery Monday: A Ghost - Or Something - in PWCo
It's October once more! A time for pumpkins and a nipping chill in the air, shorter days and longer nights, and one of my very favorite celebrations -- Hallow'Een. In honor of this spooky, wonderfully creepy time of year, I'll be posting stories about unusual events and haunted places in Prince William County.
Today I bring you one of my favorite newspaper articles. Hoax or haint? You decide.
December 15, 1868
A Ghost -- Or Something -- In Prince William County, Va.
Prince William County, Va., Dec. 12 -- It becomes my duty to chronicle a most singular and extraordinary series of nocturnal visitations on the part of some ghostly apparition, to the farm of one, who I shall call Silas Brown, esq., a peaceable and intelligent citizen of this county. Mr. Brown lives in what is known as the forest of Prince William, near the village of Independent Hill, and his residence is completely surrounded with the growth indigenous to that section of the county.
For the past few weeks visions of an alarming character have been seen in the neighboring forest, but more particularly in the copse adjacent to Mr. Brown's barn and stable. At numbers of times has an immense figure been seen passing to and fro near the barn, with large horns and terrible claws which it contracts to a sort of hoof, and has assaulted Mr. Brown when he attempted after dark to feed his horses and stock, in such a manner, and with such violence, that he has been compelled to flee to his house for safety. The figure, to the best of Mr. Brown's recollection, seemed about three times as large as a man in its front, and having a back converging from its neck and shoulders, horizontally to the distance of some six or eight feet, and supplied on each side with huge and tremendous arms. It is of a pale blueish color when first seen, but upon being irritated by the near approach of any person, becomes a deadly white, and issues from its surface a small volume of smoke, accompanied with a sickening smell. This ghoul or unnatural and horrible animal or demon, has been seen as often as four times near Mr. Brown's stable, and when seen, it has lingered till its deadly effluvia has completely impregnated the surrounding atmosphere. One evening Mr. Brown desiring to have another beside himself see this terrible visitant, induced a courageous gentlemen whom I shall call Siger, who happened with his wife to spend the evening at Mr. Brown's, to go to the stable to feed his horses. Mr. Siger not believing the story, went without hesitation, when upon entering the stable, he was alarmed by the fall, at or near his feet, with a deep rumbling sound, of a tremendous stone. Mr. Siger, without looking up, looking to see whence the rock came, picked the stone up, and it was so hot that he was compelled to drop it; upon looking up he beheld the unearthly monster not over fifty yards from him, and the air became quickly filled and inoculated with brimstone. (!) Not wishing to be thought a coward, he did not mention anything of this at the house, but upon walking home with his wife the same night, he told her of what happened at the stable, and instantly she became alarmed and was carried home in a state of apparent insensibility.
The neighborhood is in a terrible state of excitement, and steps have been taken to investigate this frightening matter.
By your next issue it may be possible that some clue can be gained to the identity of the character of this hideous monster.
[The sensational story was picked up by other newspapers of the time, including the Memphis Daily Avalanche.]