Monday, November 25, 2013

The Ghost of Dixboro

For my new Nanowrimo book, I have chosen the novelization of the screenplay that I wrote a few years ago for Script Frenzy called "The Ghost of Dixboro." This story is based on a sworn deposition given in front of William Perry Esq. Justice of the Peace in Washtenaw County Michigan on December 8, 1845. So yes, it's a true story.

Here is the text of the deposition:

"On Saturday night, the 27th of September, between seven and eight o'clock I was standing in front of the window of said house; my wife had stepped into Mrs. Hammond's about two rods distant, my two little boys were in the back yard, for I had passed through the house (to the front yard) and was combing my hair, when I saw a light through the window.
"I put my hand on the window sill and looked in; (I) saw a woman with a candlestick in her hand in which was a candle burning. She held it in her left hand. She was a middling sized woman, wore a loose gown, had a white cloth around her head, her right hand clasped in her clothes near the waist. She was s little bent forward, her eyes large and much sunken, very pale indeed; her lips projected and her teeth showed some.
"She moved slowly across the the floor until she entered the bedroom and the door closed. I then went up and opened the bedroom door, and all was dark. I stepped forward and lighted a candle with a match, looked forward but saw no one, not heard any noise, except just before I opened the bedroom door I thought I heard one of the bureau drawers open and shut.
"I spoke of what I had seen several days after, and then learned for the first time that the house in which I then lived had been previously occupied by a Willow Mulholland, and that she died there.
"The second time I saw her was in October about one o'clock in the morning. I got up, started to go our of the back door. As I opened the bedroom door it was light in the outer room. I saw no candle, but I saw the same woman that I had seen before. I was about five feel from her. She said, 'Don't touch me--touch me not.'
"I stepped back a little and asked her what she wanted. She said, 'He has got it. He robbed me little by little, until they kilt me! They kilt me! Now he has got it all!' I then asked her who had it all. She said, 'James, James, yes James had got it at last, but it won't do him long. Joseph! Oh, Joseph! I wish Joseph would come away.' Then all was dark and still.
October--"The third time I saw her, I awoke int he night, know not what hour, the bedroom was entirely light. I saw no candle, but saw the same woman. She said, 'James can't hurt me any more. No! he can't. I am out of his reach. Why don't they get Joseph away? Oh, my boy! Why not come away?' And all was dark and still.
October--"The fourth time I saw her about eleven o'clock P.M. I was sitting with my feet on the stove hearth. My family had retired and I was eating a lunch, when all at once the front door stood open, and I saw the same woman i the door supported in the arms of a man whom I knew. She said nothing, but the man said, 'She is dying. She will die.' And all disappeared and the door closed without noise.
October--"The fifth time I saw her was a little after sunrise. I came out of the house to go to my work, and I saw the same woman in the front yard. She said, 'I wanted Joseph to keep my papers, but they are _____,' Here something seemed to stop her utterance. Then she said, 'Joseph! Joseph! I fear something will befall my boy.' And all was gone.
October--"The sixth time I saw her was near midnight. It was the same woman standing in the bedroom. The room was again light as before, no candle was visible. I looked at my wife, fearing she might awake. She then raised her hand and said, 'She will not awake." She seemed to be in great pain; she leaned over and grasped her bowels in one hand and in the other held a phial containing a liquid. I asked her what it was. 'The doctor said it was Balm of Gilead,' she replied, and all disappeared.
October--"The seventh time I saw her, I was working at a little bench, which was standing in the room, and which I worked on evenings. I saw the same woman. 'I wanted to tell James something, but I could not, I could not.' I asked her what she wanted to tell. 'Oh! He gave me a great deal of trouble in my mind,' she replied. (A note on the affidavit explained that Martha referred to the man to whom she was engaged while she was a widow, but broke the engagement in accordance with her friends' wishes.) 'O they kilt me! They kilt me! she repeated several times. I walked forward and tried to reach her but she kept the same distance from me. I asked her if she had taken anything that had killed her. She answered, 'Oh, I don't _____ Oh, I don't ______' The froth in her mouth seemed to stop her utterance. Then she said, 'Oh, they kilt me.' I asked her, 'Who killed you?' 'I will show you,' she said. Then she went out of the back door near the fence, and I followed her. There I saw two men whom I knew, standing. They looked cast down and dejected. I saw them begin at the feet and melt down like lead melting until they were entirely melted; then a blue blaze two inches thick burned over the surface of the melted mass. Then all began bubbling up like lime slacking. I turned to see where the woman was, but she was gone. I looked back again and all was gone and dark. "The next time I saw the woman was in the backyard, about five o'clock P.M. She said, 'I want you to tell James to repent. Oh! if he would repent. But he won't, he can't. John was a bad man,' and muttered something I could not understand. She then said, 'Do you know where Frain's Lake is?' Then she asked another question of much importance, and said 'Don't tell of that.' (Van Woert later revealed that this latter question pertained to a well at the corner of Main and Mill Streets, near Martha Mulholland's house.)
"I asked her if I should inform the public on the two men that she said had killed her. She replied, 'There will be a time. The time is coming. The time will come. But oh, their end! Their end! Their wicked end! She muttered something about Joseph, and all was dark.
"The last time I saw her was on the sixth of November, about midnight, in the bedroom. She was dressed in white; her hands hung down by her side; she stood very straight and looked very pale. She said, 'I don't want anybody here, I don't want anybody here," and muttered over something I did not understand, except now and then the word Joseph. She then said, 'I wanted to tell a secret, and I thought I had.' And all was gone and dark." (The Van Woerts moved out of the house the next day.
"In all her conversations, she used the Irish accent; intermixed in all her conversations was the expression very often repeated, "They have Kilt me, oh, they have kilt me! and also the name Joseph."
The above was duly sworn to before William Perry Esq. at Ann Arbor, December 8, 1845.

The following two paragraphs were added at the end of one of the old copies of Van Woert's affidavit:

"As may be expected, the excitement which these strange events have given rise to, has started many reports, doubtless, entirely unfounded, and exaggerated things which may have some foundation in truth. Consequently they have been the basis of several prosecutions for slanders, none of them however, are leveled at Van Woert. Several trials it is understood are to take place in March and at that time some further developments most probably, some will confirm or dissipate suspicion.
"One fact will suffice to show the tendency of the human mind to the varvelious particularly when thusly excited. Mr. Sillson the famous magnetist from Detroit has been on the ground reaping a harvest of success from the soil of credulity and excitement thus prepared."

And now you know the rest of the story!!!

And you wondered why I call this blog "Haunts!"

Cindy K.-K.

No comments:

Post a Comment