The Sci-Fi Channel’s current hit show Ghost Hunters follows a gang of intrepid ghost busting former plumbers. Despite the inherent humor in the description, the show comes off as a solid, fun and always sincere exploration about what goes bump in the night. What these guys lack in formal scientific education, they more than make up for in sober approach, sharp street smarts and an impressive array of paranormal equipment.
Most episodes show the team coming up empty, but it’s rarely a waste of time. They may debunk a long standing belief in a haunted hotel or bar. The business owners are usually satisfied, if not a bit disappointed they can’t lay claim to a true haunted hang-out. What the audience waits for are moments when something is captured on film or on audio that simply defies explanation. It may not be conclusively a spirit from the other world, but there’s no definitive way to say what exactly it is they’ve captured. When that happens, it’s creepily thrilling and it’s certainly part of why I watch.
Ghost Hunters is just the most recent entertainment offering, reflecting our fascination with the other side – just what comes after this life we live. Hollywood has conjured up all manner of spook show over the years. Everything from the classic Robert Wise directed The Haunting to Demi Moore and Patrick Swazye’s love story Ghost to the wacky antics of Bill Murray and crew with Ghostbusters.
So between the fun fiction of the movies and the gritty cool explorers of the reality show Ghost Hunters – where do the dozens of weird and seemingly paranormal everyday happenings go for record? Well, you may be surprised, but over the years, newspapers have dutifully reported on the stranger side of apparent ghostly encounters. Before shows like Ghost Hunters, In Search of or Sightings, the mainstream media was obligated to report on thing even if they appeared outlandish. All over our country, in every state ghostly incidents have occurred. Here are a few from the state of NJ.
Jersey City is honored at present with a most mischievous ghost, which has recently made its appearance in a tenement house. At first it was content to wander in unoccupied apartments, but recently went into a room where a man was sleeping quietly and robbed him of his shirt without unbuttoning it or awakening the owner. His ghostship also pulled off his stockings and carried them to the roof of the building, and pinned them to the eaves. The occupants of the house treat their guest with consideration and are moving out so that he, she or it may have the whole house to roam in.
“A Ghost.” Morning Daily Oregonian – 1866
Lantern From The Sky
A colored man, who says his name is Charles Staats, who gives his age as 24 years, and who said he lives at West Philadelphia, is locked up here, having been brought into Bordentown by Martin Ronan, who found him acting strangely. The man is thought to be crazy. He stated he and a ghost had fought in the street here Tuesday night (June 20). He said the ghost had a lantern he brought from the sky with him. When asked how he made out with the ghost, the said that he got the best of him and took the lantern from him.
“Colored Man’s Strange Tale.” New York Times 1905
Red Suspenders, No Head
This part of Burlington County has in process of production a ghost story with no table modern improvements. A few nights ago a party of four persons driving along a country road near Ellisdale saw the figure of a man standing by the roadside ahead of them. It neither moved nor spoke as they passed it, and each noticed that it was headless. The others looked back but there was nothing to be seen on the spot where the headless man had been standing. All agreed that the figure had on a white shirt and red suspenders, and was without a head. It was distinctly seen in the moonlight.
“The Cream Ridge Ghost.” Atichison – Daily Globe 1885