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CAPITAL’S GHOSTS WALK ANEW ON HALLOWEEN EVE '
■ -- I ...■ ■HI ■■■'I ■■ IWIII I.WWW— ■■ HI.— ll.l— City Rich in Lore of Spooks—-Houses Built by George Washington Among the First Reported Haunted but Number Grew Steadily Through Early Days. A ghost-infested house on the site of the House Office < Building, once occupied by the Bank of Washington. By John Clagett Proctor. “Black spirits and white, Red spirits and gray; Mingle, mingle, mingle, You that mingle may." MAYBE you have read this in Shakespeare. It is said that Halloween has always been the occasion of certain popular usages in Christian countries such as the performance of spells by young people to discover their future partners for life, and cer tain fireside revelries, as cracking nuts and ducking for apples. It is thought to be a night when witches, devils, and other mischief-making beings are all abroad on their baneful midnight errands, particularly the fairies are said on that night to hold a grand anniversary. Since the beginning of things there has been a belief in the subtle power of mysterious spells and omens in affairs of the heart, and we find Othello, the Moor, winning fair Des demcna by the aid of spells, and medi cine and charms of all kinds were recognized assistants in determining who was to be the future partner in life. i.ne same nevus aim »uuira ui by-gone days will make their appear ance again on Thursday night, and do all the diabolical things we older folk did when we were kids and possessed of the same devils. Youth will have Its fling, and in the words of a good old song: ‘‘Let us be happy while yet we may. For time flies quickly away.” And, while we are quoting verse, perhaps these appropriate lines from Whittier will be recalled by my contemporaries in point of age: •'Oh, fruit loved of boyhood! The old days recalling, When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling! When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin, Glaring out through the dark with a candle within! When we laughed ’round the corn heap, with hearts all in tune, Our chair a broad pumpkin—our lan tern the moon. Telling tales of the fairy who trav eled like steam. In a pumpkin-shell coach, with two rats for her team!” Of course the witches will walk and cut up all sorts of didos and pranks, and many revelers will be disguised with hideous falsefaces re sembling witches, wizards, hobgoblins and what not. But, fortunately, we have arrived at a period of civilization when we well know just who these witches are, and the supernatural phase is not, to a considerable extent, given serious consideration. T-XOWEVER, this was not always so, * A for when few people could read and write it was—common to believe in witches. Indeed, along this line, the writer will repeat an amusing! story he heard not long since. It seems a certain sable son of Southern skies, in order to prove his disdain for the supernatural and to prove his self-asserted bravery, agreed 10 occupy a vacant nouse on wauoween night, said to be controlled by witches. Toward dark he built himself a cheer ful fire In the fireplace and propped himself in front and dozed off into perfect serenity. But upon awakening on the stroke of 12, a cat appeared in the fireplace, and as it advanced toward him it grew as large as a tiger, and when it reached him it sat down on its haunches and began to lick its paws, and turning to the now terrified colored man, said: “There are just two of us here,” and as the gentleman of color was leaving the premises with the window sash still around Vis neck, he was heard to say: "You sho is mistaken; there is only one of us here!” Shakespeare seems to have been very fond of witches and even begins his “Macbeth” with a scene where three witches are stirring the hell broth. You probably recall that the first witch says. “When shall we three meet again, in thunder, lightning or In rain?” The Bible also speaks of witches and in the eighteenth verse of the twenty-second chapter of Exodus you will find this injunction. ‘Thou shall not suffer a witch to live.” St. Patrick, it is said, was not afraid of witches and, indeed, offended them and She devil alike by his uncom promising rigor against them, so much so that they tore off a piece of rock as he was crossing the sea and hurled it after him, which rock became the Portress of Dumbarton. FRIEND of mine from Virginia tells me there Is a belief among certain superstitious people in his State that when a witch comes to one’s house he has to go in and out of every hole and opening before he can remain on the inside, and that in order to keep the witch from thus accomplishing his purpose before day break a sieve is placed on the Inside of the door, over the keyhole, and that since he cannot get In and out of every hole in the sieve before morning, he is defeated in his pur pose and the occupants consequently are safe. But we do not have to go over into Virginia for spooks or hobgobblins, for we can find plenty of tradition of ghosts right here In Washington, and strange stories arising from the re turn of spirits back to the earliest days of the city. Indeed, the execu tion and burial of James McOurk In 1802 was responsible for making the ghosts of North Washington keep their nightly vigil in the vicinity of old Holmead burying ground and the nearby ’slashes. Indeed, the stories of the nightly walks of the spirit of this criminal were kept alive many years after he had been put to death and until the graveyard was oblit erated and a block of houses erected on the site. Thereafter the phantom, who killed his wife, ceased to make further appearances. When the writer was a youngster and was wont to sit out on the com mon with the boys of the neighbor hood on warm Summer evenings and listen to fairy stories, some one of the older boys usually took the joy out of life by telling a blood-curdling ghost story, which had the effect of sending the youngsters home out of breath and scanning each tree box for fear a “slap doctor” would grab them and take them away. And when they arrived home and went to bed they did not forget to cover up their heads as well as their heels, all of which reminds me of James Whit comb Riley’s poem, "Little Orphan Annie.” TJOWEVER, there was some excuse A1 in those days for being afraid of “gobble-uns” and slap-doctors, since this was during the days of the grave robber—and this Individual was by no means an imaginary one, either, for every now and then the press would announce where this or that cemetery had been entered at night and the graves desecrated by ghouls, and nat urally this kept the children pretty well scared, and the older people con siderably agitated. Unfortunately, grave-robbing was carried on here—and elsewhere as well—to an appalling extent, even less than 50 years ago. Vigo Jansen Ross, a white man, and several colored as sistants being the mo6t noted violators of the law. Occasionally others were accused of engaging in this outrageous business, and shortly before Christmas, 1889, a body of a woman was taken from Con gressional Cemetery to be used for dis secting purposes at one of the medical colleges. In some way or other, it seems, after this body had been ob tained, together with the body of a colored woman from potter’s field, the two lifeless forms were abandoned in a buggy in the vicinity of the jail, the THOSE WERE THE HAPPY DAYS! “Halloween Memories’* —By Dick Mansfield f VMHAr'T (ve!uLA^\4 s 0NT , _fog J -6E* WHEN L.'C’AfciNfiYHE , " fk??LS.S Yo y TMCOW A \\ ?EEMN<3 OVEC ' Yooa i.EPr SHoutoeaYo. \ Pino yootf Apvrcf INlYlAL. V f A peao I CHIC***; \*QOO<V /%ee-?tmats near\ -/.y A WEEK’ OFF, •> \ tfOESS \X>LL. * ] ^E'yz.Z.SK’EEKTl ; \ 'Dom't fimo ’emy ^K^^TMEge /3Z>e,v/eVe <sor ' f ev/e(lV'T'MIN6, ?LOO(l,\ TlC^-VACK'S, 'X’EAO CATS, CoTt'EN E<3G5, ' i wcwoee IP we Can \<?ot’e*a IN vporz V WOOOSHED ’T/A V^HOuw/evE 10 A*V o? These _ ev/El2. tfUNVOU HAU0W ^ g g ^ T» 5a?<sT. MOttfALl ctim -rfcAcv Will £Als/£y 059e \<l\hG£(Z ?Ar Cf2£l6H flQCHIE MEU0M tGN$ O' YM* Time^; feeMEMsefc.. o ' "TAkCwe. new UNiON/joro CO. <S^3-^.AV£ AGENT5 Pfcfc fME CCi-*at2ATHO -LESS AGXO Ill Allows en till bIouqmT OOYNO CAtZ. ~ Nival spiiziY like TO-DAY IN FACT NO ONE V/OOLQ VENTOfZE ooy IN Good CLOYHE5 FOfZ FEAfZ OF gEING OOVECEO V/lYH FLOOIZ AND IF YOU AN-SWEtZEO TAEV tXX>R6fcLLAOEAD CAT MidKY/ <T 6E MAN6IN6 ON SfrXaZ-Kfog,, I - WHAT 90 yoo f2EMEM0eJ2 - QNSWE2 to LAST WeEKj CSpesriON, , HECEWA5 WA5HlNGVo/4CRC2$f THEATER lOCATEO ^ y\N5WEe, _ HE ONInEQ STATES »HEAiE£ located at B^&ES^/sLW. WHoW/^f^e Beau Hickman, celebrat* ed bummer, whose spirit returned to its old haunts. — robbers, bo doubt, being frightened away. Later, the bodies were taken to the morgue and the white woman Identi fied by a man as being his deceased wife. The people of Washington were naturally horrified, and a demand made for the capture and punishment of the perpetrators of the outrage. According to The 8tar of December 24, 1889: “The trustees of Congressional Cemetery have offered a liberal reward for the apprehension of the person or persons who desecrated the grave of Mrs. Thomas B. Cheek last Friday night. Although Mr. Cheek swore out a warrant against Dr. Arthur C. Adams, it is evident that that phy sician took no part in robbing the grave. The warrant was sworn out, it is said, in order that there might be ! a legal investigation that would lead to the detection of the grave robbers. Dr. Adams denies that he is or was the owner of the buggy in which the two dead bodies were found, and men tions the name of Dr. W. W. Beall as its owner. “Dr. Adams states that he was at the medical college Friday night at the time the body was stolen and is corroborated by the following paper: “ 'VV/TE, THE undersigned, most posl ’’ tively assert that Dr. A. C. Adams was at the National Medical College on the night of December 20, 1889, between the hours of 8 and 12 p.m., and that we were in his pres ence, and know that he could not have had anything whatever to do with the outrageous proceedings charged against him in connection At top: The Van Ness mansion on the present site of the Pan-American Building, the first house in America to have hot and cold running water in every room. It was be lieved to be haunted. Just above: The Judge Holt house on Capitol Hill, said to have harbored ghosts. with the Congressional Cemetery transaction. i •• ‘CHARLES ST. V. ZIMMERMAN. "‘8. L. JOHNSON, '“J. C. PARSONS. “ HENRY LIDDELL, " ‘J. N. OLIVER, JR., ‘“G. BURTON'HEINECKE, •“DANIEL CONNER. •“Washington, D. C., December 25, 1889.’ ‘‘Daniel Conner, whose signature Is attached to the paper, is the janitor, and the other signers are students.” The writer interviewed one of these students recently—who is now a well known physician, and although he could not shed any further light on the incident other than reported by The Star at the time, yet he vividly recalled the occasion. Beall, according to the newspaper, before practicing medicine, kept a barber shop in East Washington, where he also extracted teeth. He later received a diploma to practice medicine. Fortunately for us mor tals, It Is not quite so easy now to secure permlslon to practice medicine as formerly. Beall, in due time, appeared In Police Court, where Judge Miller held him on 81,000 bail. Washington has had its full share ' of so-called haunted houses, and even the buildings erected by the first Presi dent on North Capitol street between Constitution avenue and C streets, where he expected to make his Winter residence, were said to be Infested with spirits. They were not com pleted at the time of Gen. Washing ton's death, and in later years became boarding houses. Admiral Wilkes once made his home here, and in one of the buildings the novelist, Mrs. Southworth, was bom. JUST what occurred to cause these buildings to be called haunted, the writer cannot say, unless it was be cause probably they had been vacant for a considerable time during their existence, and empty property is usually looked upon as queer by many persons. About 40 years ago, when the buildings were known as the Hillman House, a noted murder occurred there, but this was long after it was regarded as haunted. In this same vicinity was once the Old Brick Capitol, at First and A streets northeast, where was con fined Belle Boyd, famous Confederate spy, and where Capt. Wire, well known as hating been in charge of Anderson Mrs. Surratt, whose spirit might have troubled Judge Holt, who convicted her. vllle Prison, was hanged in the rear yard. The Supreme Court now oc cupies the block in which the build ing stood until a few years ago. Other soldiers beside Capt. Wire were executed in the yard of the Old Capitol Prison by which name it became known during the Civil War. Of course, with all the noted prisoners of State who were confined there and the executions which took place on the premises, the structure Just had to be frequented by nocturnal spirits who amused themselves by running up and down the stairs, rattling the door knobs and by doing other strange things attributable only to restless, evil spirits. On the New Jersey avenue side of the House Office Building, where many prominent people lived from time to time, nearly all the houses were sus pected of being inhabited by the spirits of departed residents, and strange tales are even told today of the peculiar antics of the Invisible beings. inis was particularly true ui urc Thomas Law house, where this gentle man moved in 1800 with his wile, the granddaughter of Martha Wash ington. It stood near the northeast corner of New Jersey avenue and C street and was sold by Law in 1818 to Dr. Frederick May and became the property of Judge Advocate Holt in 1857. It was Judge Holt who in sisted upon a death sentence for Mrs. Surratt and was largely to blame for the execution. Remorse, we are told, caused him to return occasionally to this earth after he had been trans ported to realms elsewhere. Other houses on New Jersey avenue to the south of the Holt house are declared to have been visited by supernatural beings. TJOWEVER, when ground was n broken in 1871 for a building to house the Coast and Geodetic Survey, an old abandoned sewer was dis covered. It led down to the river and was swarming with rats of unusual sire, and, no doubt, this had much to do with the noises the people of Law-Holt Home “Spirits," Famed in Their Time, Finally Traced to Rats in Sewer—“Drummer Boy," Rock Creek's • • # ^ Coach and Horses in Capital's Eerie Past. The old Snow Building, which once stood at Sixth street and Pennsylvania avenue, where, some say, the ghost of Beau Hickman perambulated after his death. the neighborhood attributed to ghosts. Just when this sewer was built along this avenue no one seemed to know, but Its discovery and filling in had the effect also of doing away with the bad spirits that at times annoyed the guests of the old Varnum Hotel, from which, when It was known as Conrad and McMunns, Thomas Jef ferson went to be sworn In as Presi dent in March, 1801. Another house where Thomas Law resided, at Sixth and N streets south west. was years ago given a bad name by people who believed In com muning with spirits. After being va cated by Mr. Law it was occupied by Richard Bland Lee, uncle of Gen. Robert E. Lee, and later by E. O. Wheeler. According to an old ac count In The Star, a German musician once tried to lay the ghost with piano music all night, but signally failed and left ingloriously. But since this building was close to the river, rats, no doubt, were also to blame for any strange sounds that might have been heard hereabout. At any rate, wnen tne writer vuuteu ™ uuuk years ago, the occupants seemed to be happy and contented. A famous old house said to have been haunted once stood on the n-rthweet corner of Pennsylvania ave nut and Sixth street. As early as 1835 It gained considerable notice when what Is historically known as the Snow riot occurred there. The ground floor of the original building on this corner was first occupied by William Duane, printer and publisher, the upper floors being used for many years as a gambling establishment where the celebrated character, Beau Hickman, practically made his headquarters. Later a restaurant and eating house was conducted here by William Wal ker, William P. Benter, P. M. Dubant and others. In 1893 It was removed in order to make way for a building for the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. rTHE Snow riot, which occurred Just a century ago, was brought on when the - word was passed around that the proprietor, Beverly Snow, had made improper remarks about some white women. Sj^jw was a mu latto, so we are told by Miss Josephine Seaton, and was "at the very head of the respectable colored population.” Until this time he was popular and was*held In high repute by every one, and we are further told: "All the gentlemen of the city protected Snow as far as they could, not believing him guilty, and even had such been the case they were the friends of only law and order.” It Is said that order was restored by the crowd becoming fatigued in following the many rumors as to the whereabouts of Snow, and this, to gether with a heavy rainstorm, had a cooling effect, while Snow made his escape. Col. Beau Hick, as he was called, and who made this corner his rendez- , vous, and whose ghost is said to have frequented the place after his death, was born in Virginia in 1813 of re* putedly respectable parentage. He was a gentleman roafer who was never known to work, but who lived by his wits. He first sane to Washington about 1833, when nearly 30 years of age. He had some money when he arrived, but he spent it all within two years. This he had little trouble in doing, since he loved to follow the races, where he could always be seen dressed in the most approved style,, sporting a diamond pin, a gold watch and massive fob, a cane and a beaver, which afterward became so character* istlc of the individual. “As a gentleman of elegant leisure and fashion,” it is said “his tout en semble was proverbial for neatness,” elegance and simplicity. tjeau'S end came at Providence Hospital on September 1, 1873. Pint, his body was interred in potter's field. On the day following his burial in a pauper’s grave several of his admirers and friends, who had just * learned of his death, contributed a sum sufficient to give his remains a respectable burial place. The re moval of his body to Congressional Cemetery must have been an interest ing event. The grave had evidently been robbed by some “body-snatchers” and, being frightened from their Inhuman pur pose, fled and abandoned the re mains. The last rites were hastily performed and the new grave closed * forever over the mortal remains of a most remarkable man. possessed In life of a character strangely com , pounded of all the contretemps of an erratic genius. The old bridge erected over Rock Creek at M street in 1788 had its ghostly tradition, too, according to Hugh T. Taggart, who says: • • • “it gave way one stormy night and precipitated into the creek—then a considerable body of water, as w« have seen—a stage coach, which was crossing it, and the driver and horses were drowned. After this occurrence and the repair of the bridge a lively fancy, aided by a little superstition on the part of the denizens of the vicinity, had no difficulty in outlining on stormy nights the ghostly figure of the driver, with his coach and horses, crossing it as he had been wont to do in the days of his mor tality. The traditions of the town are particularly rich in stories of ghosts and hobgoblins. Among them may be mentioned the ‘Drummer -* Boy of the Little Palls’ and the ‘Head less Man of K Street Bridge.' Although the former has never been actually seen since his death, it may be asserted upon the authority of several more or less veracious persons that the roll of his drum can be dis tinctly heard at the gruesome hour 'when night and morning meet,' when churchyards are supposed to yawn and graves give up their dead. “’T'HE tradition in regard to the drummer is that during the early part of the Revolutionary War he was drowned in crossing the river while proceeding to a muster on the Vir ginia side. What caused the appear ance of the headless man of K Street Bridge I have not heard, and whether his forbearance has been due to a moral perception of the impropriety of taking what did not belong to him, or of the inutility to a spook of such an appendage as the head, it seems that he has never made an effort to supply himself with that article at the expense of any of those who have had occasion to pass that lo cality. The only losses of heads which he has been known to have caused have been of a purely figurative char acter.” i But, ghosts or no ghosts. Hallowe'en has for many years given the people of Washington—especially the younger ones—a great amount of pleasure in attending masquerade dances and parties. Old-timers will never forget when Louis Bartels, L. Moxley and the De Neales, out on Georgia ave nue, were the costumers who fur nished the funny faces and ridiculous costumes and the gay and attractive ones, too, which many of us wore to the Halloween night dances given by Louis O. Marini, Flora C. Dennison, later Flora C. Dyer; James G. Gill, Pistorio E. Proctor and Qeorge T. Sheldon. Indeed, we were not much bothered about ghosts in those days! Duck Hunting Curbed. HP HE duck-hunting season has opened 1 and with Its opening hunters find themselves set about with regu lations stricter than usual and cer tainly more energetically enforced. The heavy slaughter of birds, together with the loss of breeding grounds, due J to drought, has so seriously cut Into the migratory bird population that It has been necessary to limit hunting until the trend starts the other way. The season this year will last 30 days, with hunting permitted only from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. The dally bag limit Is 10 ducks of all or any kind and the weapons to + be used are limited to shotguns which ■*■ contain not more than three shells. I