First off, this is an amazing project. I give it five stars for the effort in hunting up these reports.
This is a lovely book to have for anyone interested in history and ghosts in America. I had hoped that there would be more stories that carried on into present day, places that continued to be haunted that we could look back at the news from pre-WWI and say "wow, that's amazing, she's still walking the halls after all these years" or some such. Unfortunately, this collection has few cases like this.
We are an attention-deficit culture now. We want short crisp sentences. I won't claim that this is a well-crafted sentence, but it popped out as an example of yesteryear's reporting and I love it: "The old college had about twenty rooms, the larger number of which are unoccupied, and Tygh, who is a short, fleshy man and much given to the subject of spooks, shuddered as we walked down the hall and muttered something about its being an elegant night for ghosts to play football." (p. 83 from a lengthy article in the Evening Star, Washington D.C. 1886)
While some of the stories are tragic and have a real feel to them, many must have been written for whimsy and entertainment. Ghosts purportedly haunting a Chicago neighborhood are reported in a Bismarck, North Dakota paper. The ghost in the jail in Casper Wyoming is documented in the Salt Lake Herald Utah paper and so on. Not exactly vetted.
If you have an interest in history, ghosts and whimsy, this is the ticket. This is a lovely collection of stories where the behavior of the haunts and the haunted has the campy feel of a Mantan Moreland ghost movie to it. In fact, I wish there were a way to make a noir-ish, mockumentary style movie of this collection.
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