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Posses of Men Hunting in Vain a Ghost on Long Island

New York Times, July 27, 1884

Ghost emerging from Mount Olivet at Eliot Avenue, 1936

Dismal swamps, stagnant bogs, and thick undergrowth lie between the Lutheran and Mount Olivet Cemeteries, near Maspeth and Fresh Pond, Long Island. In this unlovely neighborhood a ghost has squatted himself, much to the annoyance and alarm of the residents of that quiet neighborhood. It first shied its castor into the ring on Thursday afternoon, when a number of women and girls were quietly gathering peas for the evening meal on the farm of Mr. W. H. Ring, which lies close to Mount Olivet Cemetery and is skirted by the Newtown road. Suddenly cries were heard issuing from the cemetery, apparently of distress. With mingled benevolence and curiosity, all of them left their pails and went toward the voice, which they followed to the edge of a pool, where it faded away into a hollow groan. The peas were left behind, while the women ran to the farmhouse of Mr. Ring and told him their story. They were so frightened that he could not persuade them to return to their work. Aroused by their earnestness, Mr. Ring accompanied them to the only warlike man he knew, the town constable, Mr. Henry Bosch. The officer of the law was not to be taken by surprise. He had heard about the mysterious voice and its still more mysterious embodiment, which had been represented to him by a "tall man, six feet in height and perfectly nude," and he was ready for war. Constable Bosch had no difficulty in securing a posse, and with 10 able-bodied citizens he set out to solve the mystery, leaving the trembling and admiring women behind.

The sun was just sinking as they reached the border of the cemetery. At the fence, one man remarked that he had forgotten to take a bag of flour home to his wife, and if the rest would excuse him, he guessed he would go back, as they wouldn't have supper at home. Besides, it was getting late. He wasn't afraid, oh no! but still he didn't like the idea of walking around in a graveyard after sundown. His sentiments, strangely enough, found an echo in every heart, and with singular unanimity they faced about and returned to the house of Constable Bosch, where they found a big crowd collected. Among them was Miss Barbara Emerine, who declared that she had seen the ghost frequently and that it was "tall and thin, always dressed in white, and that it brandished a huge carving knife."

John Trinless, the gravedigger, while excavating, had often heard the mysterious cries of Oho! and so had John Devon, the stonecutter, and both had the reputation of being honorable men. To them the constable explained that they had returned to collect information and decide upon a plan of action, and for this purpose he invited them all into the neighboring barroom, where they lined up and found a whole row of bottled spirits. Then they prepared themselves for action on the homeopathic theory that with "similia," they might tackle "similibus."*

Thus strengthened, the band set out just before midnight, numbering 50 with 50 shotguns, and went to Mount Olivet Cemetery. There they heard the mysterious voice, and the whole party advanced toward it, but try as hard as they could, it always kept the same distance from them. They went tramping through the mud for almost a mile, until they reached the Lutheran Cemetery, where the mysterious voice ceased and could be made to speak no more. On the next night, the gallant constable again headed a searching party and the voice led them on a similar chase and sent them home puzzled and frightened.

Since then, the people who have heard the mysterious being in its travels around and between the two cemeteries are increasing in number. As yet, the mystery is unsolved, and doors are always carefully locked and prayers more often said than ever before, even in that moral community.

*Principle that "like cures like," in this case, "spirits will kill a spirit."

A Haunted Woman

by Brooklyn Eagle, July 27, 1884

She Believes She Sees the Ghost of Her Sweetheart

An Entire Long Island Village Excited by Supposed Spiritual Visitations ‒ Strange Moanings Heard in Mount Olivet and Lutheran Cemeteries ‒ The Sequel to a Lover's Suicide.

The residents of Maspeth, Middle Village, Fresh Pond and adjacent villages in Queens County, Long Island, have been in a high state of excitement during the past week. On Thursday afternoon while some women and girls were picking peas on the farm of Mr. W.H. Ring, close to Mount Olivet Cemetery, on the Newtown road, they heard cries of "O Ho!" Thinking that it was some person in distress they left the pea patches and ran to the spot whence the sound came. When they arrived at the brink of the little lake in Mount Olivet Cemetery, they distinctly heard the same, "O ho" but failed to discover the author of the peculiar sound. They did not return to the pea patch, but went direct to Mr. Ring's house and informed him of what occurred. Mr. Ring advised them to return to their work and they refused, one old German lady saying: "Mine, you don't got me to work mid dot place; I saw dose dings mit Shermany, und I know vot dey vos." Mr. Ring expostulated with the ladies, but in vain, and they all quit work. He then started for Fresh Pond, to inform Henry Bosch, the Town Constable. Mr. Bosch had heard of the strange occurrence from his neighbors, some of whom saw the spook, as they called it, and described it as a man about six feet high, well built and perfectly nude. The officer and Mr. Ring, with about ten citizens of the place, started through the woods to catch the "naked man." As they approached Mount Olivet Cemetery they heard the "O Ho's," but they came from the direction of Lutheran Cemetery, about a mile distant. The men at once changed their course and started for Lutheran Cemetery. It was sun down when they reached the cemetery fence, and one of the party refused to go any further. "De'il a step further I'll go with you. My wife told me all about this an' I'm a fool for interfering. It's after sundown, and that's just the time things come around the cemeteries. If you'd take a fool's advice, you'd go home."

"Why, what do you mean?" nervously asked the constable.

"I mane, sor, that it's a ghost! That's just what I mane, an' I'm goin' home." The men looked at one another, shook their heads, and the Constable said: "Well, I guess we had all better go home!" When they reached Constable Bosch's house, about 9 o'clock in the evening, they were met by a crowd of women and children, all of whom had heard the sepulchral "O Ho's!" and many of whom had seen what they all now believed to be a real ghost, traveling between Mount Olivet and Lutheran Cemeteries. Miss Barbara Emerine

of Fresh Pond was sure that she saw something dressed in white.

"I'm sure it was a ghost. It was tall and thin, and carried a large carving knife."

"I saw it, too," chimed in Mrs. Suturpin. "I knows vhat dem things vos in the old country. Fritz, come hime." The constable invited the men present into the barroom to make arrangements for the capture of the ghost later in the night. They had just entered the room when a woman rushed up to the door, shouting: "Tim Devlin, phere are you? O, Tim, hurry up! That thing's around the house an' the childer are all alone." Tim rushed out of the barroom, but not in time to save his wife, who fell into a swoon on the railroad platform. She was taken into the barroom and soon revived. When the poor woman came to she said: "O, Tim, I tould you many a time not to be around thim cemeteries after dark." After a time, Mrs. McCormick was taken to her home, and found the "childer" all right. The men of the village, to the number of fifty, all armed with shotguns, led by Constable Bosch, made a thorough search through the swamps and underbrush between Mount Olivet and Lutheran Cemeteries. About 12 o'clock on Friday night they heard the "O Ho's" and followed the sound to the Mount Olivet Cemetery fence, where it seemed to have sunk into the earth. The brave men returned to their homes scared, disheartened and disgusted. When the reporter called on Constable Bosch, yesterday afternoon, that officer was in bed, and the barkeeper directed him to Mrs. McCormick. Mrs. McCormick is a handsome, intelligent Irish woman, and told her version of the alleged ghost in a straight forward manner. "Yes, sor, I'm Mrs. Tim McCormick. What do you want wid me?"

"Have you seen or heard anything of that ghost" ‒

"There now, hould on. It's meself that can tell you all about it. You see, before I married Tim in the ould country, I was Miss Nellie Alcock. I was keeping company with Mike Kelly, of Templemore, an' we were engaged to be married, an' we would have been too, only Tim came along an' says, 'Nell, I'm going to America, will you come wid me?' 'Indeed, I will,' says I an' we got married. The week after I was married, poor Mike committed suicide; an' from that day until this, his ghost has haunted me. If you remember about three months ago, we lived up by Calvary Cemetery, an' we heard Mike. We moved out here, thinking, ov course, that he wouldn't find us, but the poor fellow follows me up. I've had masses said for the pace of his poor soul, but it doesn't do me any good. He still follows me. If he keeps on, he'll drive me out o' my mind."

John Winters, a gravedigger at Mount Olivet Cemetery, is positive that it's somebody's ghost. Mr. John Dean, a stonecutter at the cemetery, saw something, but "thought it was a man dressed in white and don't care to run after it."

Constable Bosch, of Fresh Pond, and twenty-five young men of the neighborhood, scoured the swamps and underbrush last and distinctly heard the "O ho's" but could not come up to it, as it seemed to die out at the Lutheran Cemetery fence. Constable Bosch says he thinks it is an escaped lunatic, but "it's strange," said he, "that we can't get at him. The women and children, and a good many of the men, too, are scared to death."

"A Monosyllabic Ghost"

by Brooklyn Eagle, July 28, 1884

Some of the villages of Queens County are much exercised over a ghost six feet in stature, very lightly clad in white raiment, who frequents the cemeteries at Maspeth, Middle Village and Fresh Pond. The ghost differs from the ordinary run of specters, by carrying a large carving knife and confining his vocabulary to the expression, "O Ho!" The precise meaning of this utterance is not apparent, but its effect upon the inhabitants of Maspeth and the neighboring villages is electrical. The ghost probably thinks that as brevity is the soul of wit his elocution is more effective in monosyllables than if he delivered a long oration among the tombs. A great French preacher used to terrify his congregation by the awful tone in which he uttered the one word "Eternity," and George Whitefield could startle his hearers by the emphasis he put on the word "Mesopotamia." At all events so profound is the effect of the Maspeth ghost's "O ho!" that even the nerves of the one constable of that village are paralyzed stiff and he is gathering the villagers together this night to chase the ghost with shot guns in the Mount Olivet and Lutheran cemeteries. Although the apparition in white has been seen by a large number of persons, and his "O Ho!" can be heard distinctly about midnight, all efforts to run him down have hitherto been unsuccessful. One cause of this seems to be that as soon as his pursuers hear his voice in one cemetery he is suddenly heard from in another. But if village testimony is worth anything he is certainly a human specter and not merely "a wandering voice." The gravedigger of the Mount Olivet Cemetery has no doubt that the apparition is genuine and is the visible and audible shade of some restless villager who does not rest comfortably in his grave. The stonecutter confirms the opinion of the gravedigger, and there is not a lot of doubt of the reality of the apparition among the villagers of Queens County. One or two have hazarded the conjecture that possibly the ghost may be an escaped lunatic, but the fact remains that the appearance has been seen and the "O Ho" heard distinctly by a large number of persons.

The strangest theory, however, is one started by a Mrs. Tim McCormick, who is firmly convinced that the ghost is that of her first husband, Mike Kelly, of Templemore, Ireland, with whom she came to this country and married. Mike, she says, committed suicide a week after their marriage and has haunted her ever since. The fact that the ghost carries a large carving knife in his right hand accords well with the notion of suicide, but why the ghost of her old lover should persist in haunting Mrs. McCormick does not appear, since he quited her society after only a week's matrimonial experience of it. "If he keeps on," says the woman, "he will drive me out of my mind." The McCormicks have changed their place of residence more than once to escape from Mike Kelly's visitations, but his "O Ho" haunts them still. His former wife has had masses said for his soul, but all in vain. Although he put himself out of the world by suicide, this erratic being seems unable to resist returning it in the glimpses of the moon. The Queens County ghost is likely to be numbered with the famous Cock Lane ghost, which Dr. Samuel Johnson believed in, and with the ghost of Fakenham. But perhaps some discovery of his identity may be made before all the gossips of Maspeth, Fresh Pond and Middle Village are driven out of their minds.