Fourth in Norman and the late Scott’s series on Haunted America (Historic Haunted America, 1995, etc.), with stories far-distant from the more applied studies of the paranormal at Duke University or the American Society for Psychical Research.
Norman and Scott cover the US and Canada, divided into the Northeast, Midwest, South, West, and Canada, with entr’acts of luminaries between the sections. Norman describes himself as an “open-mouthed” skeptic whose strong faith in the material has been shaken by 25 years of research among people who have seen—hmm, just about everything. Many readers will feel as wounded as a voodoo doll by the burdensomely researched but still shallow opening piece about the haunting of a house tied to the Nathan Hale family. Over a 200-year period, two or three members of the family have been seen in the house by visitors or later tenants. In an oral history taken down in 1988 from a Hale Homestead interviewee, Mrs. Griffith: “It was early in the morning. Harold (Mr. Griffith) was out milking. Everyone else was in bed. I heard somebody come down the back stairs. I didn’t even look. I asked Harold when he came back, and he said, no, he hadn’t been in the house at all . . . Clump, clump, clump. It was so plain. I never could explain that. . . . ” The mind boggles at this terrifying event. But, hey, this series has a big audience that really chills to much of this stuff, legendary though most of it is. Delaware, we find, is one of the most haunted states on the East Coast. Ghosts like mass murderess Patty Cannon (she killed two husbands, resold freed slaves, murdered guests at her public house before later poisoning herself in jail) still roam many a potter’s field. Substantiated sightings! The forces of darkness in Congo Square, New Orleans! Weird lights and poltergeists!
Clump, clump, clump.