Voting while dead; Virginia’s Moon Ghost; Williamsburg’s Halloween insanity; Why are we afraid of black cats? White House ghosts; The spiritualist Lincoln should have listened to; Jesse James vs Frankenstein’s daughter!

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Today my postings are all horrific,  ghastly and ghoulish!

Let’s get things started with something serious: Trump is going around claiming that “people who died ten years ago are still voting.” The Walking Dead at the polls! He is inaccurately citing research by the Pew Institute to make his case, but there is a long history of alleged voter fraud like this. Check out “the strange true history of voting while dead.”

OK, not lets have some fun . . .

I’m a big fan of ghost story folklore, but my all time favorite ghost story is one that is actually documented and comes from Reconstruction-era Virginia.  No, I’m not saying that there is actual documentation that proves the existence of a ghost, but there is documentation that indicates some really strange things were happening on an estate about 12 miles south of Charlottesville from 1866- 1867 that were observed by (and freaked out) A LOT of eyewitnesses. Was it a real ghost? Doubtful, but the question of how someone pulled off such an amazing prank night after night for over two years makes the story all the more incredible. I’m telling you, you need to read about The Moon Ghost of Virginia and ponder just what the heck was going on. (Did it involve former slaves “haunting” their former master?) Trust me, it is good stuff and has long been my favorite spook tale. (Here is a shorter, more folklorish, and less comprehensive version of the events).

I am horrified (and not in a good way) about what has been going on for the last few nights at my beloved Colonial Williamsburg. Listen, I have no problem with good “haunted house” attractions, but using the historic area for this kind of nonsense is upsetting to me. I know they need to get visitation up, and I am all for doing creative things to draw in people that would otherwise not come. There are all kinds of ways they could have played up their regular ghost tours and witch trials, or even encouraged some late night ghost hunting (a cheesy-fun and silly activity I have engaged in there myself).  But seriously, does the integrity of Colonial Williamsburg’s historic education mission not take a hit when you see things like this?:

And speaking of witches: why do we associate them with cats? When and why did we start to see black cats as evil or a sign of bad luck? The Washington Post tells us today in their “spooky history of how cats bewitched us.”

The White House has long been considered to be haunted (at least before the major renovations that Truman had done). Several presidents and first ladies are on record as claiming that had spooky encounters there.  Today the National Constitution Center has posted five of the White House’s most famous ghost stories, including the time when Churchill claimed to have seen Lincoln’s ghost.

Speaking of Lincoln and ghosts: Here’s a super interesting piece from Smithsonian that details the Lincoln family’s dabblings in spiritualism, and in particular their connection with a medium named Charles Colchester who warned Abe about an assassination attempt. Did he know this because of his supposed abilities to predict the future, or because he was drinking buddies with John Wilkes Booth?

Over on Civil War Pop, Christian McWhirter jumps into the Halloween spirit with his review of a notoriously horrible movie, Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter. How can you not be intrigued with a title like that??

Happy Halloween!!

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