Prominent American Ghosts Author:Susy Smith Theories that attempt to explain the nature of ghosts and why people see them range from mass hallucination to nerves to overindulgence in alcohol and so on. However long the debate about ghosts may continue, none of the explanations can alter the fact that ghosts do appear to a great many people in a great many places. — Ancient European castles... more » and ancestral halls are usually thought of as the favorite haunts of ghosts. So it may surprise some to learn that in the relatively short history of the United States countless old homes and estates have collected a rich crop of authentic ghosts and haunts. America's most famous residence, the White House, has a number of these other-worldly guests. The ghost of Abigail Adams has at times felt it necessary and proper to do her laundry in the East Room, while Dolly Madison is known to have appeared to tongue-lash startled White House gardeners who were attempting to remove her rose garden. The ghost of a brooding, scowling Lincoln has often been seen standing at a window gazing out over the countryside; Mrs. Calvin Coolidge and numerous White House employees have seen him keeping his lonely vigil.
The Alexandria, Virginia home of Lincoln's great adversary, Robert E. Lee, is also haunted. Present day owners of the house share it with the "Little Lees"??happy, laughing child-ghosts and their small black dog, also a ghost.
Not all of the characters in this Who's Who of Ghostdom are as harmless. The "Bell Witch," a poltergeist, subjected a family to a four-year reign of terror that reached its climax in murder. Even the lovely Hawaiian Islands have a tradition of ghostly violence. On certain nights a radiant, ethereal procession moves from the beaches to the sites of ancient pagan temples, and drums can be heard clearly. Many native Hawaiians stay indoors on these nights, for it is said that any human unfortunate enough to be seen by the Night Marchers runs the risk of instant death.
The author has traveled from Maine to California, from a burlesque theater in Los Angeles to a novelties warehouse in Miami Beach to collect these fascinating accounts of strange visitations that have been experienced by thousands of Americans. Summing up the results of her research Miss Smith says, "Whatever they are??ghosts are real."« less