5.26.2006

Three Upstate Ghosts

Lately, I've been perusing a fun little book entitled Ghost Stories of New York State by Susan Smitten. It is a collection of tales about phantoms and poltergeists from across the Empire State and I thought I would share three of my favorites with you folks. Do you know of a haunted location in Upstate New York? Where are your favorite ghosts? I hope you enjoy this small sampling.

1) The Seneca Falls Historical Society:
Society employees report that the organization's building, a Victorian mansion dating back to 1855, is haunted by three spirits. The first is the ghost of Edward Mynderse, the original owner. The staff believes that Edward is the protector of his beloved home: he first appeared in the 1890s after a later owner vastly changed the house (from Italianate to Queen-Anne style). He is known to stop clocks, turn around pictures so that they face the wall and lock people out of rooms or the entire building. The education director, Fran Barbieri, reports: "The routine [16 years ago when this happened] upon leaving was to set the alarm, lock the back door and let the screen door close... one day she arrived to find the screen door locked from the inside with an eye hook... 'Now I always make sure when I leave to say good night to Edward and it hasn't happened since.' " The second ghost is Mary Merrigan, a nanny who passed away at the house and first appeared on the night of her death at a nearby mental hospital to 'say goodbye.' She has appeared to repairmen, whispered on sound recordings made in the house and generally haunt her third floor room (which the staff avoids). The final ghost is of a 15 year old Irish girl who was hired by the owners but quickly died of consumption. It is said that she trapped here and forever pines for Ireland: " 'We hear her crying on the back stairs, which are the ones she would have used' says Fran." Despite the hauntings, the staff reports that the spirits are friendly and generally protective of their home and the staff within it (they have been known to warn employees of trouble by rattling china, etc) and that it is "a very comforting place."

2) The
Bull's Head Inn, Cobleskill: The oldest building (1752) in Cobleskill has a storied history: it was burned twice in battles during the French and Indian War, served as town hall, courthouse and meeting hall, was an inn, a residence and, since the 1960s, an inn again. However, the problems didn't start until after the new owner acquired a liquor license; unbeknownst to him, he had established the bar in the bedroom of Mrs. John Stacy (the last resident of the house), a member of the Women's Christian Temperance Union and a committed anti-alcohol advocate. Mrs. Stacy makes minor trouble on a regular basis, "tossing silverware off tables, knocking over glasses and throwing napkins about...an apparition in a long white dress or nightgown wandering through the dining room by staff working late at night." Despite moving the bar into the basement, the events have only increased of late: guests have reported seeing a strange woman in "period dress" wandering the building, strange lights appear and unconnected crank-handle phones mysteriously ring. Something strange is going on in Cobleskill.

3) Bannerman's Castle, Hudson's Haunted Island: "
Without a doubt the Hudson Valley's most renowned ruin" (this comes from the experts, www.hudsonvalleyruins.org), the island is a "small chunk of forbidding granite in the Hudson River" that "creates a dramatic backdrop for legends of nasty goblins and unsettled spirits." Surrounded by swift currents, the island was chosen in the early 1900s by Francis Bannerman (a NYC arms dealer) to be the home of his "arsenal." Bannerman went a step beyond the expected and built an incredible castle with towers, walls, a moat and other fortifications. In the 1960s, a mysterious fire destroyed the keep and today it is in a state of complete ruin, given over to Canada Geese, vandals and the Putnam County Sheriff. However, the president of the Bannerman Island Trust, Neil Caplan says that there are numerous spirits: one of the lodges is haunted by the spirit of a sea captain and "a former caretaker claimed to hear a horse galloping across the drawbridge during the night." Even before whites arrived in the region, local native peoples avoided the island at night. The Dutch settlers believed that goblins inhabited the rock and capsized boats, "in order to keep the creatures [from attacking], the would leave freshman sailors drunk on the island's shore to appease the creatures and ensure safe passage to Newburgh Bay. They would pick up the token 'peace offerings' on the way back." In any case, Bannerman's Island is a fascinating spot, whether you see it from a MetroNorth traincar or drunk and unwittingly left upon its shore.

-Posted by Jesse

2 comments:

Christy said...

Cheri Revai has written several books on ghost stories from Northern New York & etc... http://www.hauntedny.com/

Anonymous said...

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