That season is here again with all the familiar Halloween symbols—goblins, witches, jack-o-lanterns from carved out pumpkins. There’s something in our nature that makes such vestiges of these beliefs and practices continue into our modern times. And, of course, the mysterious always intrigues us. Most people today don’t believe in ghosts or witches, yet it is human, I guess, to be fascinated by histories of haunted houses and ghosts and things that go bump in the night.
Did you know that there are many haunted dwellings and active spirits throughout our land in various locations, as well as throughout Europe? When I read that the Tower of London has resident ghosts, I was not surprised at all considering the dreadful events that took place there over past centuries. It remains a landmark along the River Thames. The second wife of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, who was accused of infidelity and was beheaded despite protestations of her innocence, is a ghostly presence. Historians have well established she was telling the truth, but Henry had a way of getting anyone he tired of. She has been seen at times walking around headless. Her apparition has also appeared at Hampton Court and Windsor Castle.
There are many locations in England and Ireland that have claimed evidence of haunting. A strange and interesting phenomenon is the appearance of the ghostly monks at Beaulieu, Hampshire, also in England. The Abbey is mostly a ruin, dating back to the early ages. Parts have been restored—the dining hall, which has been turned into a chapel. The story goes that, with the dissolution order of Henry VIII, the monks had no place to go, even in death, and their spirits seem to hang onto the old masonry, familiar during their lives. Visitors have reported seeing monks in the ruined abbey, walking in what was once a garden, a choir singing in the empty church, digging a grave in the dead of night to bury one of their own, and yet it is a fact that the monks’ own burial ground was never discovered. Remember, if you see one who looks like a monk around the Abbey ruins, there haven’t been any monks at Beaulieu for centuries!
Many castles and manor houses that have murderous histories are known to have ghostly figures of every proportion. Strange noises, groans, bangs, and whispers are not uncommon. Some of the Irish, who have a repertoire of ghost stories, on my first trip there several years ago, warned that I should never sleep in any of the old Irish castles. (Some have been restored and are used as unique hotels by their owners.) I visited a couple during daylight hours only, when ghosts were assumed to be sleeping off their vigorous nightly prowls.
Abraham Lincoln’s bedroom and other areas of the White House are said to be haunted. President Theodore Roosevelt fancied he felt Lincoln’s spirit. Franklin Roosevelt’s secretary saw Abraham Lincoln seated on the bed, pulling on his boots. Eleanor also said she often felt Lincoln’s presence. Margaret Truman heard tapping on her bedroom door when no one was around.
Lincoln confided his dream of his own death a few days before it occurred. He said he had heard sobbing and voices asking, “Who is dead in the White House?” and the reply, “The President. He was killed by an assassin.” Lincoln’s little son, Willie, who died of an illness in the White House, has also been seen.
If you want to read about The Ghost Who Turned Down the Stereo, The Lady with the Shotgun, The Lovelorn Lighthouse Keeper, A Scary Place to Build a House, The Ghost who took Baths, The Ghost who gave his Widow Terrible Haircuts, and many more strange tales, see The Ghostly Register by Arthur Myers.
Has anyone seen any Indian spirits haunting the digs on Marco Island, especially around the “one-of-a-kind”, Calusa-style Marco Island Museum?
You need not dwell on ghostly manifestations but, on All Hallows Eve, you can be very popular telling some of these tales to your friends around a keg of apple cider!
Virginia Carlin is the author of “I Remember Marco” and a former writer for General Motors.