Trying to find out if my home town was especially haunted

TW abilist language, fictious murder.

I grew up in a small town in Minnesota. We had two local ghost stories, Lantern Man, and “Crazy” Annie. Lantern Man was the spirit of a turn of the century janitor/handy man who died in a fire. To see him you’d have to drive down a specific country road late at night, cross the train tracks and wait. He’d appear as a glowing red light that would sway back and forth, the lantern that started the fire. What’s interesting is lantern men exist in east Anglican folklore, but our neck of the woods was all german immigrants. Plus lantern men supposedly enticed folks into bogs, and this isn’t a boggy area

Annie is supposedly the soul of a pioneer woman who killed her husband and two children. If yo parked on the bridge in Fox Hollow at midnight on a fogy night, her hand prints would appear all over your car.

My question for y’all. Do you have any local ghost stories, and if so how big was your town. We we’re only a town and surrounding farming community of about 3000. Anytime I’ve asked ffolks from larger communities they never seem to have any stories, which seems counter intuitive

4 Likes

A widowed man & his little son moved into their home in St. Augustine, Fla has a maximum of approx 10k people. Their spacious house was known to be haunted, but the man did not believe it when the locals told him that. While the kid was exploring the house he reached the kitchen and saw the maid working there. She told him that there could be ghosts in the house and he had to be careful.
The young child then went to his father’s study and asked him if the house had ghosts in it. The father asked, “Who has been telling you all this?” The child replied “Our maid.” The father immediately asked him to pack their bags. When the son asked why, the father replied, “We do not have a maid, son!”
That was a horrible story I listen from my aunt I don’t know that it was real or fake but that is so much terrible.

3 Likes

I don’t recall any specific ghost stories in my hometown–much as I wish I did–but I spent a lot of time in St. Augustine (as Brackworm mentioned) and Savannah, and both of those cities traded extensively on their reputations as deeply haunted places.

The unifying thread across both these places was that they had especially long and sordid histories of colonialism–and wouldn’t you know it, a fair number of the ghost stories that I collected over the years from each place were rather explicitly related to those cities’ colonial excesses.

As far as ghost stories… most of these aren’t worth rehashing. I haven’t sincerely thought about them in quite a few years and at present the thought of relitigating them makes me feel queasy.

What catches my interest at present is the fact that both the story that Brackworm told and the story that you told about Annie are stories that I’ve heard elsewhere, multiple times, in a variety of different contexts and genres. Both of these are good examples of what I suppose most people would call urban legends–and even a couple of the stories I collected from Savannah and St. Augustine I would wind up hearing later, set in entirely different locales with entirely different casts of characters. If you’re interested in picking up a book that is both very entertaining and, for me, very formative, I recommend Too Good to Be True by Jan Harold Brunvand–basically the modern authority on urban legends.

3 Likes

I grew up in a pretty populous suburb on the edge of Philadelphia and the ghost stories I remember all surrounded my high school (which, for context, had around 4,000 students in any given year — so it was a small town in and of itself). The one I remember most clearly is a ghost named Peter who haunted the attic above our performing arts center (basically a huge auditorium that we had all our assemblies and concerts in, but that was also a community hub for local performance and music groups). There were some creepy areas in that part of the school — lots of old tile and dark painted wood, weirdly-shaped rooms, places with no natural light, etc., so it was a perfect place to just feel creeped out. Also, there were definitely lots and lots of mice around there — which gives you all the unexplained sounds you need.

That said, I don’t remember much from the wider area beyond the commercialized shit like the Eastern State Penitentiary (which is its own whole can of worms). I think ghost stories probably circulate a bit more easily in smaller towns and locales, since there’s generally a consistent community of people that can pass them down alongside a higher level of familiarity with a smaller number of places.

1 Like

Thank you so much for suggesting me, I told in my story that I listened to this from my aunt. It is true or false I don’t know about that.

1 Like

Thanks for the book rec, will definitely be checking that out!

And yes the colonial undertones in a lot of the stories in that region are very stark… Kind of makes you think when people (typically not from the region, like my parents and most other authority figures in my younger life) tell you not to listen to/blieve the people telling the stories “oh they’re just stories” etc.

I’m not saying that this is all where stories like Annie come from, but I can tell you that Minnesota was a hotbed of land speculation in the 1800s. Basically, speculators would buy crappy land and sell it to rich men from the East filling their heads with dreams of starting their own cities and communities. These men would then drag their wives and families along, essentially forcing them to leave their established lives behind to chase these weird dreams of frontier living.

You can actually read a lot of journals written by these women. And a lot of them are positive, “make the best of a shitty situation” type stories of forming community with other women stuck in the same situation, but a few of them carry with them a deep resentment of their husbands for getting caught up in all of this. I don’t think it’s a stretch to imagine that a few wives grew so resentful, they lashed out in violence.

I mean, essentially, a lot of these husbands basically went bankrupt and ruined the lives of their families because they got swindled. It got even worse if the husband refused to admit his mistake and basically carried on until there was nothing left.

Again, I’m not saying that this is the root of the Annie story, or similar ghost stories from that area. I just think there’s a possible, interesting connection.

Clarification: I’m also not even saying that the Annie story, or any story of a frontier wife lashing out in anger is true. For all we know, stories like Annie were created by these communities as cautionary tales for husbands to treat their wives well and not neglect them, and for wives to avoid fostering resentment. Hell, maybe the wives made it all up to convince their husbands to give up the dream and go back to the city. idk.

5 Likes