This is a story never written before although it happened almost a hundred years ago. My grandfather, Miguel Vargas when he was young, around 1915, worked as a policeman. One night neighbors called the police and reported that they could hear screams from a woman next door that sounded like she was being beaten. My grandfather went there and looked in the window to see the woman being dragged around the room by her hair, but there was no one else there with her. He, being a religious man went to the neighbors and told them to call a priest. He had other stories of the old country but this is the only one that I remember now.
Several years ago while researching my husband’s family I found this story of his many times great grandfather, John Champness Austin. Austin was born on March 27, 1690 in Pembury, Kent England and died in 1759 in Lunnenburg, Halifax County Virginia. How he came to live in Virginia is the story below related by Reed’s great great grand uncle, John Overton Austin (1819-1910):
“I write things that I remember, that my Grandfather and Uncle Wat [Walter] Austin told me, when I was a boy. What I write, I remember well, being 10 or 12 years old. My Great Grandfather was banished from England, to the Colonies, in America for killing a man. The circumstances were about this. The people of England were divided, in their opinion, about witches, hobgoblins, and other scary things that appeared after dark. Some believed there was such things others did not. Grandfather, made fun of those who believed such nonsence [sic].
“One man said he would bet $100.00 dollars that no man could cross a certain old bridge, built on a milldam, that was said to be haunted; that no man could cross that bridge, after dark that he would be scared back, by scary things.
“Now said he, ‘I will bet 100 dollars with any one, who will undertake it.’ Our Great Grandfather was then a young man, and was not afraid of anything. So he took their bet and the money was put up. When the day came there was a crowd on each side of the bridge, to see him cross. He was not allowed to have any weapons but a finger stone in each hand.
“When he got about midway the bridge he saw a white object rise up before him. He stopped near the hobgoblin. He spoke in a loud voice, ‘Who comes there 3 times.’ Not a word was said. The thing stood still. It looked like a man wrapped in a white sheet. It stood in his way. He stepped a few steps nearer, and stopped. Now said he, ‘Man or spirit, or whoever you are, get out of my way. I am going to cross this bridge.’ But the thing stood still. He threw a rock. They heard the rock strike the ghost, and Mr. Ghost fell dead, and young Austin walked by him across the bridge, and won the money.
“The next morning, they found the ghost to be a dead man, wrapped in a white sheet. It caused great excitement. A search was made, and they found, that a gang of men had a den in the old dam making counterfeit money. The discovery of this den, of counterfeiters, pleased the English people so much, that fearing that some of his enemies might seek his life, they put him on a ship and sent him to America, to the English Colonies for safety. ”
Seen above is Pembury England where it all began.Read More
Mr. Harnson was a business associate of H.R. Latimer who was the director of the Horton Bank in Seattle. (Dexter Horton Bank, the first bank in Seattle, became Seafirst Bank and is now Bank of America).
Harnson was presumably from Braddock, Pennsylvania and died on this day, July 27, 1904 (June 29, 1904 according to the Washington records) in the Golden North Hotel in Skagway of heart failure. His body was shipped back to Bradford, or Braddock, Pennsylvania for burial. Curiously, his friend’s employer, Dexter Horton the epitome of a rags-to-riches pioneer, died the next day, in his Seattle home on July 28, 1904.
I have never heard of a ghost in the Golden North, aside from the made-up story of Mary the ghost.
Skagway Death Record (E.L. Hanson) ; Washington death record online (E.A. Harnson)Read More
Skagway’s Alaskan Sojourn Hostel, which is situated in a local gold-rush-era house, recently had a guest report that he felt that his room had been visited by a benign ghost in the night. Although the identity of this ghost is well-known to the owners of the house, and ghost’s descendants in town, I am withholding the name out of respect for the family. Suffice it to say that it was a young man who tragically drowned at a young age in the early 1930s. The present owner of the house says that several years ago, she also saw the ghost calmly descending the stairs, and vanishing before it reached the last step.
Source: Local interview; http://www.alaskansojourn.netRead More
Alexander Grey, known as Sandy, lived in New Westminster, British Columbia but was on his way to Atlin when he checked into the St. James Hotel. The St. James Hotel building is still standing and is directly behind the Hardware Store on 4th. Sandy Grey was born in 1858 in Ontario but had moved to B.C. by 1880. At the age of 41, he died of heart failure on this day, May 26, 1899 in Skagway. His brother George was in New Westminster but it was decided to bury him here in the Gold Rush Cemetery. The headstone, obviously replaced is wrong on two things, the spelling of his name and his age, both of which are from the census and death records. I don’t know what the little saying on the bottom says, I will have to go up and check it out.
Does his ghost still haunt the St. James? Ask one of the hardware employees.
Skagway death/coroners inquest record; 1880 BC census.Read More
Elijah Baughman was born in 1859 in Oregon. He worked on ships all his life. He commenced steamboating on the Puget Sound as a deckhand on the steamer Zephyr in the 1880’s, although he had previously had considerable experience on the Columbia River. After leaving the Zephyr he was mate on the steamers Chehalis, City of Quincy, and Washington. He was master of the steamer Eliza Anderson for three years. He was pilot on the ship City of Seattle for over two years (see previous blogs on the City of Seattle).
While en route from Port Townsend to Seattle, Baughman was the pilot for Captain Gilboy, on the steamship Premier when it collided with the steamship Willamette off Marrowstone Point on October 8, 1892.
It was a tragic accident. The 200-foot Premier with 70 passengers, collided with the freighter S.S. Willamette, that was outbound to San Francisco from Seattle with 2,700 tons of coal. Both vessels, proceeding “full ahead,” met in a thick fog that enveloped Admiralty Inlet and Puget Sound. The Willamette’s bow struck the Premier at a 45-degree angle on the port side, just opposite the pilot house, killing five persons and injuring 18.
The hulls of the vessels became interlocked, making it impossible to separate. The Willamette finally pushed the sinking Premier across Admiralty Inlet, beaching her near Bush Point on Whidbey Island. Meanwhile, the passengers were able to climb from the Premier’s decks onto the bow of the Willamette. The tugboat Goliath arrived on scene a short time later, and took the surviving and dead passengers onboard, transporting them to Seattle. The Canadian Pacific Railway Company, owners of the Premier, patched up and towed the ship to Victoria B.C. to escape the damage suits that were immediately filed against her. After being repaired, the vessel was renamed the Charmer, but never again ventured into American waters. It went from Victoria to Vancouver only.
Another ship that Baughman was captain on was the Steamer Humboldt that made several trips to Skagway. Here is another eerie story from Newell:
“The Humbolt was originally designed as a coastwise lumber carrier. However, due to the gold rush, she was converted to a passenger liner prior to her launching in 1897. Captain Elijah G. Baughman was the Humbolt’s pilot on her first voyage to Skagway. In 1900 he was appointed master, and he remained with the Humbolt throughout his entire career as a shipmaster. By 1933 the old Humbolt had been relegated to a dreary mooring in the San Diego boneyard; Captain Baughman had retired and was living ashore in San Francisco. Lonely and deserted, the old Alaska treasure ship lay quietly at anchor for two years…until the night of August 8, 1935. That was the night Captain Baughman died…slipped his cable, as oldtime sailors used to say. And it was the night the Humbolt slipped her cable, too, and sailed again for the last time. Toward midnight a Coast Guard cutter hailed an unlighted ship moving silently through the harbor. It was the Humbolt, out of the boneyard at last and heading, with eerie precision, toward the open sea. The Coast Guard boarded her and found her warped decks and dusty cabins deserted. They marked it down as a freak of wind and current and towed the Humbolt back to the ship’s graveyard. No living hand, surely, guided the Humbolt that night, but the relationship between a man and a ship who have lived their lives together can become a strangely mystic one. And there are more things on heaven and earth…and on the sea…than our philosophy has dreamed of”
Seen above is the Humboldt in 1901 heading for Nome.
Gordon Newell,”Pacific Coast Liners” (1959); also Lewis Dryden’s Marine History of the Pacific Northwest onlineRead More