Renewed Fan:52590 wrote:Who can top this with anything spookier?
I heard this tale from a woman who contended that it happened to her - since I do not have her permission to use her name, I will call her "Elizabeth".
There is an historic area in the city where I live, which contains a number of elegant Victorian mansions, built in the late nineteenth century. In its heyday, it was the most prestigious neighborhood in the state. It deteriorated badly starting in the 1920's, and by the 1970's was basically a slum. Then, in the late 1970's, this district er enjoyed a sudden revival as a number of young professionals moved in, and restored many of the fine old homes to their prime. Tragically, in January of 1999, a tornado ravaged area, destroying or damaging many of the homes. One home, the Burks-Wallace house, was so severely damaged that it had to be pulled down. It is the Burks-Wallace house which is the focus of this Halloween ghost story.
The Burks-Wallace house was built around 1880 by (naturally) a man named Burks. Mr. Burks resided there for several years and then sold the home to a certain Hiram Wallace. The home remained in the Wallace family into the 1950's, when it was sold and was subdivided into several apartments. In about 1978 or so, Elizabeth and her husband purchased the house. They set about restoring it, tearing off plaster and sheet rock to reveal marble and hand carved wood underneath. They lived there for about 15 years, and in all those years never had a single spooky incident.
One day in the early 1980's, Elizabeth was home alone, except for her infant son. The baby was upstairs in the nursery taking a nap, while she did the laundry downstairs. According to Elizabeth’s research into the history of the house, the laundry room had once been the maid’s quarters. The laundry room was cluttered with piles of laundry, a washing machine, a dryer, an ironing board, and the assorted bric-a-brac that people tend to accumulate in their laundry rooms.
Elizabeth was in the middle of doing the laundry, when she experienced what she considers more of a vision than a ghostly presence. She turned to pick up an arm load of laundry, turned and faced the room again, and was shocked to see not a cluttered laundry room, but a sparsely furnished bedroom. She saw a bed, a bedside table with a washbasin and lamp, and an armoire. The room had light yellow wallpaper, rather than the white painted walls of her laundry room. She could see details like nicks on the washbasin, a scratch on the armoire, and the fine texture of the spread on bed. She says this level of detail stands out in her mind, even years later, and contrasted with the vague, blurry details of a dream.
In the bed she saw a boy, who she thought was about twelve or so. His distinctive features were that he had light blond hair which appeared to be wet. Above his left ear, she saw what appeared to be matted blood. There was blood on the pillow next to his head, too. She could not see how he was dressed, since the spread was pulled up almost to his shoulders, but he did not appear to be wearing a shirt.
When she first saw him, the boy appeared to be asleep or unconscious. She stared, almost in a trance, at this vision for perhaps as long as a minute. Suddenly, the boy stirred and opened his eyes. He turned his head slightly and – to her shock– actually made eye contact with her. He whispered in a hoarse and weak voice “Hurry upstairs. The baby is in danger. Hurry. Please go.” He then closed his eyes and rolled his head back to its original position. The vision she was observing suddenly vanished, as if someone had turned off a switch, and she was once again standing in her modern laundry room.
Well, like any mother, Elizabeth’s first thought was of the baby. She raced upstairs to the nursery. There, she found the baby, choking with his head stuck between two bars in the crib. Elizabeth was able to force the bars apart and free her baby, who was not injured.
That is where the situation stood for six or seven years. As I mentioned previously, Elizabeth and her family lived in this house for many years with no further unusual phenomena. She even met an elderly couple, several years after seeing this vision, who had lived in the downstairs portion of the house when it was divided into apartments, including the area where she had her laundry room. They reported never having experienced any strange phenomena.
Then, in the late 1980's, Elizabeth was in the library doing some genealogy research. Specifically, she was going through microfilmed copies of the local newspaper from the 1890's. As she fast forwarded, she stopped to check the date on the paper, and her eyes happened to fall on the name “Hiram Wallace.” Since Hiram Wallace was one of the early owners of her house, she paused to read the article. As she did, her hair stood on end.
The article was titled “A Terrible Tragedy.” It described how Gilbert Van Ross, age 13, had been swimming in a creek which is located not far from her house with various other boys. According to the article, Gilbert slipped while attempting to dive off the bank into the creek, fell, and struck his head. His companions’ shouts for help attracted the attention of several workmen who were building a nearby house. The workmen carried young Van Ross to the nearest habitable home, the residence of Hiram Wallace. (The article did not specify to which bedroom in the house the boy was taken. However, the maid’s quarters would have been the only downstairs bedroom, and carrying the injured boy upstairs would not have been logical when a suitable bed was available downstairs).
The article stated that a doctor was summoned, but that the boy died before the doctor could arrive. The article further said that the boy remained semi-conscious until the end, but did not appear to suffer. Instead, in his delirium, he repeatedly beseeched those present that there was an infant in danger in the house and begged them to help the child. No one present could soothe Gilbert, although those in attendance tried to explain to the semiconscious boy that there was no child in the house. Gilbert’s agitation suddenly passed, he smiled, and said “Thank God he is safe” and died peacefully.
So, every year on the anniversary of his death, Elizabeth visits the grave of Gilbert. There, she puts flowers on the grave of a boy who died more than half a century before she was born.
We all know what the movies and Western shows tell us about the old West, but what are the facts? Here, we’ll discuss what these truths are, and get a better idea of what life was like in the real West!
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- Technical Ranch Hand
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