Encounters with the Unknown
By Dennis Stamey
It is interesting how a ghost story will appear in one place and then is reported in another – the same story under the same circumstances though with dates, location and names of witnesses changed. I’ve heard of numerous stories of the young woman who “hitch-hikes” on a North Carolina highway near Durham, which has been the inspiration for several popular songs. The lore surrounding her is most widespread and diverse. The bulk of the tale relates how a young girl, killed in a car wreck in the 1930’s, will appear on the anniversary of her death trying to get home by waving down cars. As it goes, the girl will be surrounded by a faint mist and will seem uncommunicative; then as the driver turns to ask her a question she will simply vanish.
There is a report from Georgia by two businessmen of how they picked up an old woman trying to get to her family while driving along a stretch of road. She gave them the address and they proceeded on, talking over business, temporarily forgetting their guest. When they turned to the back seat the woman was gone. In due course, they contacted the family and learned that the woman was their grandmother who had recently died.
Stories of “headless” men or things are relatively common. Let me elaborate upon these instances:
There is reported an apparition at the swinging bridge on the Tuskaseegee River in western North Carolina. According to writer John Parris in the Asheville (N.C.) Citizen-Times, October 29, 1967, his father was heading home when an electrical storm came up. As he reached one end of the swinging bridge he “saw a man without a head walking through the bushes into the river at the other end of the bridge. Lightning was flashing and thunder was rolling. Just at the other end there was a great shelf of rock where we fellows used to gather and play cards or just talk. There were six or seven of the boy there.”
They too saw the specter and began shooting at it, but it “kept right on walking and went right into the river and disappeared.” A subsequent search revealed no blood or tracks.
There exists another “headless phantom” in the Carolina mountains. This one is a spectral dog. The tales are old and it is not known whether the apparition is still seen or not.
As one tale goes a young mother with her infant child wandered on the wrong trail and became hopelessly lost by nightfall. The weather had grown unbearably cold; dimly she realized that she was near death. It was at that time when she became conscious of a large shaggy dog racing past her. After awhile it again returned. She staggered to her feet and followed. In a few minutes the animal had taken her to a spot on the trail that she recognized. Grateful and crying, the young mother looked back at the big dog. The animal was sanding in a lighted patch on the trail about 30 feet away but something was wrong – it had no head!
Ghosts seem to have an affinity for abandoned abbies, monasteries, homes, graveyards and the like. The Church House Inn at Torbryan, Devonshire, is reportedly the scene of a “ghost” described as a monk, accompanied by strange sights and sounds and even power failures.
According to the Evening News of Bolton, Lancashire, a group of workmen reported seeing a “weird form, a semi-visible and of filmy composition,” moving around the ruins of a castle. To compound the mystery the area of the castle had been the scene of several UFO reports.
Power failures in a church haunted by a monk-like thing, a phenomenon strongly associated with the UFO mystery? A ghost in familiar surroundings of an ancient castle accompanied with reports of flying saucers? Some glimpses of a possible link.
Another interesting pattern. Flying saucers and their cohorts seem to have an affinity for graveyards.
On July 3, 1968, near Quilnes, Argentina, late at night a woman returning home was reportedly teleported aboard a strange craft with two men inside dressed in metallic-looking suits. Both spoke together in an unintelligible language. After a while the woman was taken back down, finding herself opposite a cemetery.
Some weeks later in late August 1968, several boys at Coleraine, Quebec, reported seeing a dwarfish man about four feet tall, with a shaven head, red scaly skin, naked chest and wearing a black beard in a cemetery. The boys claimed that the thing would vanish into air and even reported seeing a UFO near there, about 30 feet wide and blue, white and red in color.
Three of the boys’ uncle, George Bogus, did not believe their story until he accompanied them and saw the apparition too. All of the witnesses’ versions were identical.
In 1962, a group of young people in a graveyard at Blue Clay Springs, Indiana, saw a seven-foot creature with red eyes, white or silver hair, moving in ape-like fashion.
There are numerous reports of mysterious bobbing lights that appear around burial grounds and, naturally, are called “cemetery lights.” In Vincent Gaddis’ Mysterious Fire and Lights there is told the well-publicized story of eerie blue lights that frequently dance among the tombstones at Silver Cliff, Colorado. They will appear to pulsate, move slowly, but vanish when approached.
These “ghost lights” are reported all across the globe, usually in very remote areas and are usually associated with a ghostly legend. The “spook light” of Hornet, Missouri, and the Maco Light near Maco Station, North Carolina, are supposedly the ghosts of headless phantoms searching for their heads. The similarity in both tales are remarkable, each involving a member of a train crew decapitated in an accident.
Now to the phantom drummers. In 1663 at the village of Tedworth in England, the home of John Mompesson was the scene of weird disturbances, including nightly thumping and drumming. Later the house became plagued by household objects being thrown around and mysterious “blue and glimmering lights were seen.” (Note: compare this with poltergeist activity in the home of the Reeves family at Newport, Oregon, in 1966. The despaired family, who later fled their home, told reporters that odd lights, between one and thirty inches in diameter, had been hovering about their windows and that also the entire house was at one time bathed in an eerie red glow. The local newspapers said 25 other residents had experienced similar phenomena and had also received an unconfirmed sighting of a one-eyed monster lurking about.)
At Berkshire, England, in the mid-18th century a battle was heard in the air with the sound of roaring cannon shots being discharged. “Then there was heard a sound like the beat of a drum sounding retreat.” Following it there came a meteorite weighing some five pounds. Previously in the year 1628 at Berkshire a similar phenomenon was recorded.
In 1961, at Boreham Wood, England, according to an AP dispatch, police and civilian vigilantes tried to track down a “phantom drummer and his band” reported at night. “But the band vanished,” said the report, “just as it had on all the other nights.”
A bugler, dressed in a black cloak, was spotted a month prior and then a drummer, dressed in white, joined in, touring the area. Later on a bagpipe player and a man with cymbals accompanied them.
It’s unlikely the work of pranksters, unless they can suddenly disappear into thin air without being caught by an angry crowd.
Perhaps one of the most haunted spots on earth, Mt. Misery on Long Island, located six miles from Babylon in Suffolk County, also had reported mysterious night drumming. In an article for Beyond magazine by radio newscaster and psychic investigator Jaye Paro, one resident said, “I often have heard the beating of a drum and the agonized cry of a woman – always at about 2 a.m. The sounds stopped at 2:20 a.m.” (Note: the screams of a woman are reported in many monster cases. I have some articles on the famed Jersey Devil, a half-horse and half-kangaroo thing, in which witnesses report it screaming like a woman in agony).
Mount Misery has a long terrible history of hangings, murder, secret Indian rites, and destruction. But perhaps the most strange thing is its name, which was not taken because of its background. The story is that in 1765 Rev. Nathaniel Brewster climbed to the top and exclaimed “what a misery of toil.” It has been noted that such areas as Mt. Terror, etc., are apt to be the source of unusual phenomena. For instance, The Black River in upper state New York has had its share of monstrous beings in the past. There are well-documented, first-hand stories of the ghosts of Indian braves engaged in mortal combat, as they did centuries ago, trees that grow overnight in doorways, strange automobile fires and wrecks, an absolute silence that descends on the area totally stopping any other noise (as if switched off), and of course the UFOs.
There is an allusion to headless men and things in this article. In 1966 a woman at a ground floor apartment saw something climbing in through the bedroom window with unusually “long fingers” (MIB witnesses consistently refer to long fingers). She screamed and it went away. Police later reported chasing a tall man with what they thought was a sweater pulled up over his head.
In July of 1965, city policemen at Van Buren, Arkansas, were stalking the Arkansas River banks for “ghosts” – reportedly “tall white things” having “no hands or head.” They made no sound. Descriptions made by individual witnesses were “alarmingly similar.”
During the wave of monster, UFO and MIB reports that seemed to center around the elapse of the 200-year-old “curse of Chief Cornstalk” near Point Pleasant, West Virginia, witnesses to these events were receiving poltergeist guests. Locked doors were mysteriously opened, strange thumping could be heard, and telephones would “act up,” going “dead” sometimes without apparent cause (MIB activity seems to center around phones, oftentimes with a sinister voice speaking amid a background of weird electronic noises).
With our accumulated mass of data, despite some hopefully minor errors, we have presented a good case that the psychic world of ghosts and shadowy beings are nothing more than a portion of the whole mystery. The origin of a ghost is from the same “force” (a term that shall be used consistently by me to name this vast intelligence composed of supernatural entities) that is the origin of a UFO, spirits in a séance, or inexplicable “things” such as the Loch Ness monster. But the full answer is so complex as to be meaningless.
John A. Keel in his Stange Creatures From Time and Space noted cases of monsters appearing (particularly those in the Black River, N.Y.) when electrical storms were in progress. The “headless man” at the Tuskaseegee River appeared during an electrical storm.
Now the question is do these “forces” produce these storms or do they draw energy from them? Most likely they would draw energy from electrical disturbances in the atmosphere in order to successfully maintain their forms or creations.
Can these fearful apparitions and events be created for no purpose but to inspire fear to mankind? Charles Fort believed there were occult “beings and events” trying to exploit life on earth. Their purpose may be both unorganized and orderly, Fort suggested, with beings of perhaps mischievous and benevolent nature involved.
Source: Quest magazine, Vol 3, No 2, November-December 197