Friday, October 26, 2012

Hallowe'en: Mayhem, Mischief, and a Bit of Ghostly History

~Updated with new historical information and photos nearly annually~

This posting shows a varied celebration of Hallowe'en in my area of southeastern lower Michigan - the metro-Detroit area - and interspersed  throughout are snips and bits of Hallowe'en history and lore covering America and the British Isles.  The many pictures and the historical information should hopefully bring what was a children's holiday up to the level of adults as well,  for,  initially,  Hallowe'en was actually meant for adults.
Since this is a history-based blog,  it only goes to show that I try to be as accurate as I can,  but there are books written about these old holydays and if you have a deeper interest in them I suggest to seek them out.  I have barely even scratched the surface here.
Hope you enjoy it..
A painting I purchased called 
"Punkinhead"  by artist Ken Scott

                                                                                                                          ~   ~   ~

The actual Wayside Inn located in Sudbury,  Massachusetts
 - built in 1716 and restored by Henry Ford in 1923.
One Autumn night,  in Sudbury town,
Across the meadows bare and brown,
The windows of the wayside inn
Gleamed red with fire-light through the leaves
Of woodbine,  hanging from the eaves
Their crimson curtains rent and thin.
(prelude to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's  "Tales of the Wayside Inn"  from 1863)
                                                ~   ~   ~

Yes,  you see an apostrophe in the title of this posting.  According to the historians at Greenfield Village,  this was the way Hallowe'en was spelled over a century ago,  for the word  "Hallowe'en"  is actually an abbreviation of   "All Hallows Eve."   The  "all"  and the  "s"  were dropped,  "hallow"  and  "eve"  (short for  "even"  or  "evening")  became,  as your English teacher might say,  a closed compound,  and,  over time,  became  "Hallowe'en."  And I recall our old calendars citing October 31 as  "All Hallow's Eve"  rather than Hallowe'en.
Jack of the lantern,  mayhaps?
And Jack's horse...
Of all the holidays of the year,  only Hallowe'en has essentially split itself down the middle,  offering up a secular or a pagan festival on the night of  October 31st and somber religious observances the following day - November 1st.  Yes,  yes,  I know about the intertwining of  pagan festivities with Christian celebrations of Christmas,  but that's more of a mixing of the two rather than a down the center split.
The tradition of Hallowe'en - October 31st -  originated with the ancient Celtic festival of  Samhain,  when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts.  For the Celts,  who lived during the Iron Age in what is now Ireland,  Scotland,  the U.K.  and other parts of Northern Europe,  Samhain  (meaning literally,  in modern Irish,  “summer's end”)  marked the end of summer and kicked off the Celtic new year.  The end of the Celtic year and the beginning of the new one can be seen to the equivalent of New Year's Eve.  We have seen how the Celts believed that night preceded day and so the festivities took place on the Eve of Samhain.  The autumnal holiday,  rooted in both Christian and pagan festivals—with elements of magic and mystery–celebrated the link between seasonal and life cycles  (Winter was then a time associated with death).  
All Saints Day  (originally called All Hallow's Day),  falls on November 1st,  as previously stated.  It is a Christian festival celebrated in honor of all the saints,  known and unknown.  Anglicans view All Souls' Day,  November 2nd,  as an extension of the observance of All Saints' Day and it serves to  "remember those who have died,"  in connection with the doctrines of the resurrection of the body and the Communion of Saints.  Beliefs and practices associated with All Souls' Day vary widely among Christian churches and denominations.
All Saints' Day-All Souls' Day
In some Christian denominations,  All Souls' Day remembers all of the souls of all Christians who have died.   The Christian celebration of All Saints'  Day and All Souls'  Day stems from a belief that there is a powerful spiritual bond between those in heaven  (the  "Church triumphant"),  and the living  (the  "Church militant").  Observing Christians typically remember deceased relatives on the day.  In Western Christianity these annual celebrations are associated with the season of All Hallow Tide:  Hallowe’en,    All Saints' Day,  and All Souls’ Day.
In the British Isles,  it is known that churches were already celebrating All Saints on November 1st at the beginning of the 8th century to coincide with or replace the Celtic festival of Samhain.  James Frazer suggests that November 1st  was chosen because it was the date of the Celtic festival of the dead (Samhain).  However,  Ronald Hutton points out that,  according to Óengus of Tallaght  (d. ca. 824),  the 7th/8th century church in Ireland celebrated All Saints on April 20th.  He suggests that the November 1st date was a Germanic rather than a Celtic idea.
In America,  the Hallowe'en holiday is celebrated in a myriad of different ways by as many different people.  
Here are a few:

I've always somewhat enjoyed Hallowe'en,  but as a holiday it was never in the Christmas category or even on par with the 4th of July - even when I was young.  Yeah,  I enjoyed dressing up and trick or treating with my friends way back then;  we covered blocks and blocks and would come home with pillow cases filled with sugar-sweetened loot.  But,  to me,  for the most part,  Hallowe'en was just a day to dress up funny or scary and get candy.  
But the times changed,  and so did my feeling toward Hallowe'en,  especially with its closer association with the harvest time of year as well as my ever-growing knowledge of its history;  there are many things in the past I thought of  differently until I began to more deeply research the subject to dig out the truth rather than follow what is too often considered  "common knowledge,"  and that includes Hallowe'en.
Days of autumn past reflected in the window of the 1750 Daggett house....
And even when the truth is found,  too many,  oftentimes,  refuse to acknowledge it  ("But my history professor said this").  Yeah - - I'll choose my own non-agenda research,  thank you very much!
So as I've learned of the historical mix of  Hallowe'en and the fall harvest - a natural coupling - it has made it even more enticing and exciting for me...I now actively look forward to the holiday and the season in which it falls,  for it is the time of year when the bulk of harvest activities occur.  In fact,  it is said that before the words  “autumn”  or  “fall”  were used to describe this season  (from the Middle Ages),  “harvest”  or  “harvest time”  was the verb used to describe this time of year.
Another circa 1750s home - the Giddings Home...with a full moon overhead.

And surrounding myself in autumn history makes it to life  (so to speak)~~~
My daughter-in-law getting into the Hallowe'en spirit...

Speaking of history,  let us take a trip to visit Hallowe'en past at Greenfield Village,  the early American historic Village located in Dearborn,  Michigan,  that includes original homes and structures from the 17th,  18th,  and 19th centuries.  Yes,  this historic open-air museum does a fine family-friendly Hallowe'en presentation,  and,  more recently,  they've elevated the Holiday up a notch or two to in scariness so as to not be quite as  "child-like."  The entire historic open-air Village is now utilized to entertain the thousands of visitors who step through the gates.  
The Festyvall of 1511 - 
"We rede in olde tyme good people wolde on All Hallowen daye bake brade
and dele it for crysten soules"
  (from Observations on Popular Antiquities - 1813)  suggesting that the practice of making special foods for Hallowe'en
was already long established .
I love the British Isles look and feel in this shot,  obviously due to the fact that it
is a picture of the 1620 Cotswold Cottage collection originally from England and
brought over to Greenfield Village. 
But it is the nature of the picture:  one can almost feel Hallowe’en in the air…
(pic taken by Paul Bruno)
Opening up in the afternoon rather than early evening as in previous years,  the daylight hours are used to incorporate period Fall Harvest activities and then easing into Hallowe'en as the night time shadows fall upon the ground.  There are still costumed presenters dressed in period-accurate clothing of  Hallowe'en past,  and,  additionally,  they've added a haunted train ride.  
At the covered bridge...
The train rides begin at dusk then continue on into the night.
With everything Hallowe'en taking place beginning at dusk and into the autumn darkness,  the old-time decor throughout can be quite spooky.  While there,  visitors will get to meet a variety of costumed characters interspersed throughout the city streets.  They will also meet Ichabod Crane as well as the Headless Horseman,  and even experience what it was like to cross a mystic covered bridge much like the one in Sleepy Hollow.  In fact,  you'll almost feel as if you actually were in that fabled village of Washington Irving's Sleepy Hollow.
Imagine walking down your street and seeing this - - - -
Greenfield Village really does a fine job in decorating for Hallowe'en
Goblins,  imps,  fairies,  and trolls were thought to do a lot of mischief on Hallowe'en;  it was the night spirits were out and about,  and farmers bolted their doors and avoided walking alone in the darkness.  This was the night when doors were blocked with carts,  or attacked with a fusillade of turnips.  Plows and carts were carried off and hidden.  Gates were taken off their hinges and thrown into a neighboring ditch or pond.  Horses were led from the stables and left in the fields a few miles away.
Photo taken by Diana Bender
Such descriptions coerce my mind to picture,  of course,  the early American villages...perhaps in New England...
Roaming about the garden of the 1750 Daggett House as the sun goes down.

Photo by Marybeth Summers
Look through any window,  yeah, what do you see? 
No smiling 
faces all around in the Menlo Park laboratory!
Many of the costumes the presenters wear at Greenfield are based 
on costumes from story books from the days of old...
...but quite a few of the visitors also wear pretty cool costumes as well.

For thousands of years,  various cultures have had figures to represent death.  One of the most common and enduring of these is the Grim Reaper—usually a skeletal figure,  who is often shrouded in a dark,  hooded robe and carrying a scythe to  “reap”  human souls.
The Grim Reaper seems to have appeared in Europe during the 14th century.  It was during this time that Europe was dealing with what was then the world’s worst pandemic,  the Black Death,  believed to be the result of the plague. 
But why the skeletal figure?  
Why the scythe?  
Why the robe?  
Skeletons are symbolic of death,  representing the human body after it has decayed.  The robe is thought to be reminiscent of the robes that religious figures of the time wore when conducting funerary services.  The scythe is an apt image taken from agricultural practices of the time:  harvesters used scythes to reap or harvest crops that were ready to be plucked from the earth…and,  well,  that’s kind of what happens when humans die:  they are plucked from this earth.
The Grim Reaper - Death - visits the Ford Farm yard...

Then there's the Hallowe'en Tree:
According to Ray Bradbury's book,  "The Hallowe'en Tree," 
each pumpkin represents someone who died on Halloween.
Then there's the tavern...
A skeleton crew inside the 1831 Eagle Tavern.

Could this possibly be the ghost of Miss Havisham at the Ann Arbor House?

The telling of ghost stories on Hallowe'en derives from both the Druids'  belief that the ancestral dead arise on this night and the Christian directive to honor the souls of the departed at Hallowmas.
It was only natural,  then,  at early American harvest time get-togethers,  when the communities would gather for such harvest time activities as corn-husking parties,  apple paring parties,  sugar and sorghum making days,  and even at thresherman dinner parties,  that ghost stories would become an integral part of these autumn celebrations.  Many American ghost stories evolved from actual superstitions and rituals practiced by those who lived in the British Isles.  These tales of the ancestral dead were told and retold by the elders to a spellbound crowd,  late at night,  after all of the activities were done,  when the moon was fully risen and the trees outside shook with the autumn wind.  That's when people gathered around a fire and told one another tales of the silenced dead lying in graves nearby.
A graveyard at Greenfield Village.

Greenfield Village truly does a wonderful job in their Hallowe'en presentation! 
What fun!
Not taken at Greenfield Village,  but way out in rural Ray Twp at historic Wolcott Mill
one October night during one of our reenactments there.
Yes,  that is the Autumn moon lighting our way.

But Greenfield Village certainly does especially well with their depiction of  Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow:
Sleepy Hollow isn't so scary during daylight hours...
However,  when the sun goes down on an autumn eve...
Who's that I see walking in these woods? 
Why,  it's Little Red 
Riding Hood! 
And she's at the edge of the Sleepy Hollow forest!
Yikes!  The headless horseman is chasing Ichabod Crane!
Ichabod is galloping toward the covered bridge!
But the covered bridge doesn't seem any less scarier...
Now,  here is a bit I found about the supposed story behind the story of  Washington Irving's  "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow's"  plot and its ties to the American Revolution:
"The story,  written in 1820,  is set in 1790 in the countryside around the Dutch settlement of Tarry Town  (historical Tarrytown,  New York),  in a secluded glen called Sleepy Hollow.  Sleepy Hollow is renowned for its ghosts and the haunting atmosphere that pervades the imaginations of its inhabitants and visitors.  Some residents say this town was bewitched during the early days of the Dutch settlement.  Other residents say an old Native American chief,  the wizard of his tribe,  held his powwows here before the country was discovered by Master Hendrick Hudson.  The most infamous spectre in the Hollow is the Headless Horseman,  said to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper whose head had been carried away by a cannon-ball during some nameless battle of the American Revolutionary War,  and who is ever and anon seen by the country folk hurrying along in the gloom of night,  as if on the wings of the wind,  and  who rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head.
This dominant spirit seems to be commander-in-chief of all the powers of the air,  and,  as noted,  is the apparition of a figure on horseback,  without a head.
His haunts are not confined to the valley,  but extend at times to the adjacent roads,  and especially to the vicinity of a church at no great distance.  Indeed,  certain of the most authentic historians of those parts,  who have been careful in collecting and collating the floating facts concerning this spectre,  allege that the body of the trooper having been buried in the churchyard,  the ghost rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head,  and that the rushing speed with which he sometimes passes along the Hollow,  like a midnight blast,  is owing to his being belated,  and in a hurry to get back to the churchyard before daybreak."
There just may be some actual history to Irving's 1822 ghost story.
Read on...
"After the Battle of White Plains in October 1776,  the country south of the Bronx River was abandoned by the Continental Army and occupied by the British.  The Americans were fortified north of Peekskill,  leaving Westchester County a 30-mile stretch of scorched and desolated no-man's land,  vulnerable to outlaws,  raiders,  and vigilantes.  Besides droves of Loyalist rangers and British light infantry,  Hessian Jägers—renowned sharpshooters and horsemen—were among the raiders who often skirmished with Patriot militias.  The Headless Horseman,  being a decapitated Hessian soldier,  may have indeed been based loosely on the discovery of just such a Jäger's headless corpse found in Sleepy Hollow after a violent skirmish,  and later buried by the Van Tassel family,  in an unmarked grave in the Old Dutch Burying Ground.  The dénouement of the fictional tale is set at the bridge over the Pocantico River in the area of the Old Dutch Church and Burying Ground in Sleepy Hollow."
Interesting, huh?
Now,  we're all aware of the Tim Burton movie version that was released to theaters in 1999 starring Johnny Depp.  I certainly enjoyed the scary thrill that one gave me.  But as I read further into it,  I learned that was not even close to the original story from 1820.  I was hoping a version might be available that would follow the book much closer.  After a bit of searching,  I came across one that truly did follow the book as it was written over 200 years ago - one that was made for TV the same year as the Burton/Depp film.
So I took a chance and purchased it off Amazon.
To compliment my review,  as was printed on Amazon,  I am including several headless horseman photos:  the following seven pictures were all also taken at Greenfield Village,  though not by me,  and are all inspired  by Sleepy Hollow.  I absolutely am blown away by the quality and especially the eeriness of each one.
I think you will be,  too:
Photograph courtesy of Brian and Jody Egan
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,  starring Brent Carver and Rachelle Lefevre,  follows Washington Irving's original much,  much closer than the Tim Burton version  (one that I also like,  but is mostly its own story rather than Irving's).  Washington Irving's original story wasn't necessarily a horror story as is depicted in our modern times,  but,  rather,  it was more of a love story with a touch of fright and even a bit of comedy thrown in.  However,  it was framed in eeriness and the true fright comes in at the very end.
Cindy Conklin took this picture.
This made for TV version I am highlighting here shows Brent Carver to be a positively perfect  Ichabod Crane - straight out of the book in every way,  and the depiction of the story being told at a dark,  candle-lit tavern in the early 19th century on Hallowe'en helps to give it a more creepy feeling. 
This photo is from Samantha Kline
And,  I have to say,  the late 18th century atmosphere of the story itself  is also very well done;  few other versions capture that warm,  autumnal feeling that Irving illustrates so perfectly in his original story.
Yep - this may not be the horror story we've all come to make it out to be  (though there is horror included),  but then,  neither was the original.
This is a Bethany Jane pic.
The movie is not perfect,  but well-done.
And click HERE for a link to this version of the movie.
And now I would like to feature a few pretty amazing photos taken by Miranda Renaud.
Miranda is an employee at The Henry Ford  (which includes Greenfield Village)  and,  therefore,  is sometimes able to snatch a few awesome photos in the pre-dawn hours,  such as what you see here:
The look and feel is almost other-worldly...

The fog in the background doesn't

Morning  (mourning?)  fog sets the tone as well.

Perhaps now is a good time to add a bit here about my favorite manufacturer of lighted ceramic houses,  Dept. 56,  who has a Sleepy Hollow collection.  You have probably guessed that,  yes,  I have numerous pieces from this set.  It adds to the fall flavors that I love so much this time of year.
A scene right out of Sleepy Hollow.

The Headless Horseman pulls from his grave to grab the head 
of his next victim
Ichabod Crane scurries towards the covered bridge.  By the way,  
I made that bridge  (based on the Ackley Covered Bridge at 
Greenfield Village)  with popsicle sticks.
Not from the Sleepy Hollow series, but this haunted train depot  
is pretty cool in that the lights flash and it has sound effects.

Also from Department 56:
Dept. 56:  Major Andre's Tree
Major John André was a British Army officer who was hanged on October 2,  1780 as a spy by the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War for assisting Benedict Arnold's attempted surrender of the fort at West Point,  New York to the British.
Local militiamen foiled a plot to undermine American defenses during the Revolutionary War when Major John Andre,  a British spy,  in collaboration with the notorious American traitor Benedict Arnold,  was attempting to deliver documents from Arnold that would have compromised the security of the U.S.  fort at West Point.  With the documents hidden in his socks,  Andre was travelling through Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown,  enroute to British-controlled territory to the south.  By chance,  he was detained by three local militiamen on watch that morning,  who discovered the documents and took him into custody.  Ultimately,  this led to Andre's execution,  and forced Benedict Arnold to hastily defect to Britain in order to avoid a similar fate.
According to witness Ben Tallmadge,  who was instrumental in organizing a spy ring to relay information to George Washington:  "The Commander-in-Chief  (Washington)  ordered that the execution  (oj John Andre)  should take place on the 2nd of October.  Major Andre,  having received his regimentals from New York,  appeared in the complete uniform of a British officer,  and in truth,  he was a most elegant and accomplished gentleman.  After he was informed of his sentence,  he showed no signs of perturbed emotions,  but wrote a most touching and finished letter to Gen.  Washington,  requesting that the mode of his death might be adapted to the feelings of a man of honor.  The universal usage of nations having affixed to the crime of a spy,  death by the gibbet,  his request could not be granted.  As I was with him most of the time from his capture,  and walked with him as he went to the place of execution,  I never discovered any emotions of fear respecting his future destiny before I reached Tappan,  nor of emotion when his sentence was made known to him.  When he came within sight of the gibbet,  he appeared to be startled,  and inquired with some emotion whether he was not to be shot.  Being informed that the mode first appointed for his death could not consistently be altered,  he exclaimed,  "How hard is my fate!''  but immediately added,  "it will soon be over.''  I then shook hands with him under the gallows and retired.
Major Andre was executed in his military uniform..."
I've owned this tree as part of my Dept.  56 collection for years 
and never read the  'placard'  attached.
Shame on me!
A key component of the short story  “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”  recalls the tale of Major John André for whom  “Many dismal tales were told about funeral trains,  and mourning cries and wailings heard and seen about the great tree where the unfortunate Major André was taken,  and which stood in the neighborhood.”   The giant tulip tree which features prominently in the tale was  “connected with the tragical story of the unfortunate André,  who had been taken prisoner hard by;  and was universally known by the name of Major André’s tree.”
Aside from the story of Major Andre,  this location is significant in Irving's Legend,  because here Ichabod Crane first encounters the Headless Horseman while traversing the swamp:
As he approached the stream,  his heart began to thump;  he summoned up,  however,  all his resolution... Just at this moment a plashy tramp by the side of the bridge caught the sensitive ear of Ichabod.  In the dark shadow of the grove,  on the margin of the brook,  he beheld something huge,  misshapen and towering.  It stirred not,  but seemed gathered up in the gloom,  like some gigantic monster ready to spring upon the traveller.

The Dept.  56 version of 
Jack of the Lantern holding his 
lighted turnip.
But there is more history coming from Dept. 56 and their ceramic villages & accessories:
Jack O' Lantern - - or - - Jack of the Lantern.
Vegetable and fruit carving is an old tradition and exists across the world.
Traditional holds about Jack-of-the-lantern  (Stingy Jack)  and how he made a deal with the devil not to take his soul.  According to one version of the story,  when Jack died he was too sinful to go to heaven,  and the devil had already promised not to take his soul.
So Jack had nowhere to go.  When he complained to the devil that without light,  he couldn’t see where to go,  the Devil gave him an ember from the flames of Hades to guide him in the darkness of the afterlife.
Jack took a turnip,  his favorite food,  carved it into a lantern and put the ember inside it.  With his lantern ready,  he began to wander in search of a resting place endlessly.
Besides the ritual bonfires  (meant to ward off evil spirits)  that are lit on this day,  mumming and guising  (trick-or-treating)  were also rituals performed during Samhain.
The traditional illumination for guisers or pranksters abroad on the night was provided by turnips or mangel wurzels,  hollowed out to act as lanterns,  lit with coal or a candle,  and often carved with grotesque faces.
Turnip lanterns usually represented supernatural beings and were used to chase evil spirits.  Guisers used them to scare people,  while in some cases they were set on windowsills to guard homes against evil.
Irish immigrants brought the jack-o’-lantern custom to North America.  Here,  turnips were slowly replaced by pumpkins to make the iconic Halloween decorations,  and eventually became the plant of choice.
According to folklore researchers,  the original story and the tradition of making Jack-o’-lanterns for Halloween come from Ireland.
In the United States,  the carved pumpkin was first associated with the harvest season in general before it became a symbol of Halloween.  In fact,  it was in 1895 when an article on Thanksgiving entertaining recommended giving a lit jack-o'-lantern as a child's prize in Thanksgiving games.  The poet John Greenleaf Whittier,  who was born in Massachusetts in 1807,  wrote the poem  "The Pumpkin"  (1850),  which mentions Thanksgiving but not Halloween:
Oh!—fruit loved of boyhood!—the old days recalling,
When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling! When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,
Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!
However,  the carved pumpkin lantern's association with Halloween is recorded in the  November 1st,  1866 edition of the Kingston,  Ontario Daily News:
The old time custom of keeping up Hallowe'en was not forgotten last night by the youngsters of the city. They had their maskings and their merry-makings, and perambulated the streets after dark in a way which was no doubt amusing to themselves. There was a great sacrifice of pumpkins from which to make transparent heads and face, lighted up by the unfailing two inches of tallow candle.
And here are actual carved  (and lighted)  turnips 
made at our 1860s harvest presentation.
How cool is this?
There is evidence that turnips were used to carve what was called a  "Hoberdy's Lantern"  in Worcestershire,  England,  at the end of the 18th century.  The folklorist Jabez Allies recalls:
“In my juvenile days I remember to have seen peasant boys make,  what they called a  ‘Hoberdy's Lantern,’  by hollowing out a turnip,  and cutting eyes,  nose,  and mouth therein,  in the true moon-like style;  and having lighted it up by inserting the stump of a candle,  they used to place it upon a hedge to frighten unwary travellers in the night.”

Adaptations of  "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"  often show the Headless Horseman with a pumpkin or jack-o'-lantern in place of his severed head,  as you saw above.  In the original story,  a shattered pumpkin is discovered next to Ichabod Crane's abandoned hat on the morning after Crane's supposed encounter with the Horseman.
A pumpkin tree
The carved pumpkin lantern's association with Halloween is also recorded in the November 1,  1866 edition of the Daily News from Kingston, Ontario:  “The old time custom of keeping up Hallowe'en was not forgotten last night by the youngsters of the city.  They had their maskings and their merry-makings,  and perambulated the streets after dark in a way which was no doubt amusing to themselves.  There was a great sacrifice of pumpkins from which to make transparent heads and face,  lighted up by the unfailing two inches of tallow candle.”
On Halloween in 1835,  the Dublin Penny Journal wrote a long story on the legend of  "Jack-o'-the-Lantern."  In 1837,  the Limerick Chronicle refers to a local pub holding a carved gourd competition and presenting a prize to  "the best crown of Jack McLantern."  The term  "McLantern"  also appears in an 1841 publication of the same paper.
And then we also have the poet John Greenleaf Whittier,  who was born in Massachusetts in 1807,  who wrote the poem  "The Pumpkin"  (1850):
Oh!—fruit loved of boyhood!—the old days recalling,
When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!
When wild,  ugly faces we carved in its skin,
Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!

(Many,  many thanks to our reenacting friends,  the Woodruff family,  for the idea of bringing back the historically accurate carving turnips at our celebration of harvest past.  This was a definite highlight.)

On to the next stop on our journey through Hallowe'en past:
The cemetery-------------
Out of the graveyard comes a ghost...
(photograph taken by Heather Thornton)
The picture above was taken inside Mount Elliott Cemetery,  which is the oldest still existing cemetery in the city of  Detroit,  founded in 1841.  The first burial in the cemetery occurred only twelve days after its establishment when Robert Elliott,  an architect,  judge,  and founding member of the committee that created the cemetery,  was laid to rest.  He had been killed in a construction accident.  The cemetery was christened  "Mount Elliott"  in his honor.

My son looking a bit creepy in the fake  (but cool looking)  
cemetery at Greenfield Village 

Other autumn happenings tend to have a Hallowe'en theme,  even if that was not the intention.  For nearly a decade I participated in cemetery walks.  As strange as it may seem, this is a wonderful way to bring local history to life.  It also helps to bring people into these villages of the dead to show that they aren't necessarily scary places.  In fact,  a couple years ago my daughter and I teamed up to portray a long-deceased,  um,  father and daughter.  The tour groups were shocked upon seeing a 10 year old girl acting out the life of a young girl who died at that same age back in 1910.  Perhaps the most touching moment was when an elderly couple stayed behind after the tour group moved on and told us,  with teary eyes,  that they lost their young daughter many years ago and we had helped to bring them closure.
My daughter and I in the Clinton Grove Cemetery in 
Mt. Clemens,  Michigan in 2010.  It is very unusual to see a 
child participate in such a thing - and very gutsy,  
to be honest.
Sometimes cemetery walks can be a bit creepy...
...especially at night!
Speaking of cemeteries,  mourning presentations of the 19th century seems to be on the rise.  As reenactments I am seeing more women dressed in the traditional clothing of women who lost a loved one.  In fact,  at Greenfield Village during the Civil War Days over Memorial Weekend they used to have an actual house of mourning and showed just what it was like for a family to have lost a loved one back then.
My friend Kim Parr and her friend Stephanie began the mourning 
program at Greenfield Village's  Adams House many years ago.  
Kim is a mourning historian and does presentations for many 
historical groups throughout the year.
Kim also portrays mourning inside the Crocker House in 
Mt.  Clemens during the cemetery walks.
Rebecca has a wonderfully mournful photo here,  showing the despair of the widow.

Kristen mourned for the loss of her husband,  killed in the battle 
of Fredricksburg in December of 1862.  Note the mirror of the 
dresser is draped with black fabric,  for virtually anything 
reflective  (or shiny in many cases)  would be covered,  such as 
mirrors and glass of any kind, including picture frame glass.

The widow in mourning looks for her husband's grave...
beckoning him to return to her...
...but he is there,  comforting her from beyond the grave...
(one of my own ghost pictures here taken at Greenfield Village)

Such a sad,  sad sight to see,  a wife in mourning for her 
husband.  Here,  she cannot bear to leave her husband's  body lying in the cold ground. 

(photo courtesy of Heather Persetic)
There are cool things one can do with the computer,  such as make ghost photos.  I am no pro at this but I do see myself improving with each passing  "trick."
So,  no,  none of the  "captures"  you see in the ghostly photographs in this post are real....or are they?

American history is steeped in ghostly tales,  and the souls from the past may not always rest easy.  Traumatic events such as war,  murder,  accidental deaths,  and even some souls not realizing they are no longer alive have played out in every town and city across the nation.  And situations like these are seemingly at the root of practically every ghost story ever passed around at every campfire,  told with reverence in a shaky voice or recorded in a written record.
An untimely death is almost always found at the heart of a haunted location because it's easy to understand how the spirits of people who meet a tragic or untimely end would have a hard time moving on to the other side.
I wonder if these presenters knew they had a visitor watching them...?

All houses wherein men have lived and died
Are haunted houses.  Through the open doors
The harmless phantoms on their errands glide,
With feet that make no sound upon the floors.

We meet them at the doorway,  on the stair,
Along the passages they come and go,
Impalpable impressions on the air,
A sense of something moving to and fro.

There are more guests at table,  than the hosts
Invited;  the illuminated hall
Is thronged with quiet,  inoffensive ghosts,
As silent as the pictures on the wall.

(from  "Haunted House"  by Longfellow - 1858)
This ominous-looking structure was built in the mid-1700's.  
Could it be?...hmmm...

Some spirits may be so shocked by their own death that they don't know it's time to leave this world.  Or perhaps they're so angry about what happened to them that they feel bound to the realm of the living so they can try to share their stories...
Wait-------do you see....?

Could this be Anna Daggett, who died in 1832,  still a-waiting 
for her husband to return?
There is a Daggett ghost story imparted to me by a former presenter which tells of feeling,  but not seeing,  the tug of a child.  This presenter was speaking with visitors at the keeping room door  (to the right of the kitchen)  when she felt what she thought was a child grabbing and pulling on her skirts,  but as she looked around,  there no child was to be found,  nor had anyone around seen anything or even reacted to how she searched for her little  "tugger."
And what about the little girl who likes to tug on the petticoats 
of the presenters?
I see you?

A security guard at Greenfield Village heard voices one evening 
after closing coming from the 1750 Giddings House parlor. 
I wonder...

Who---or what---is peaking around the corner at the 
birthplace of Henry Ford?

Holy cow!  It's coming towards me!

The Commander's house in Historic Fort Wayne located in Detroit can be a mite scary,  too!

Spirits seem to like to descend stairs at the Waterloo Farm as well...

In our modern day,  Hallowe'en has become a major holiday,  with adults turning their front  (and sometimes back)  yards into scenes of ghostly horrors.  In Romeo,  Michigan there is even an entire street where nearly every homeowner gets involved.  It's known as  Terror on Tillson Street  and we visit every Hallows Eve.  I have to admit,  I have never been to anything quite like it.  Some of  the most amazing displays of Hallowe'en horrors I've ever seen are everywhere,  and each one is totally different from the other,  from graveyards to a pirate ship to a torture chamber to - wait!  is that the Charlie Brown gang? - to hearses...
and the throngs of trick or treaters is like something out of a Disney movie.
It is really cool.
It sort of made Hallowe' alive  (so to speak)  for me - - - 
I have never seen so many trick or treaters than on Tillson Street 
in Romeo,  Michigan
The  (mostly)  Victorian homes on Tilsson Street really go all out 
in their Hallowee'n decorations
All that it takes to make a scary scene is a little imagination...
Even something as simple as corn stalks and a jack-o-lantern can 
make for a spooky display.  Of course,  the old Victorian houses 
help quite a bit,  too!
Yes,  just a bit spooky...

Wait - - is that a pirate ship?  Maybe it's what's left of  the Black Pearl!

Ghosts in the attic
Tilson Street is scary enough in the daytime,  but let's check it out at night...on Hallowe'en night!
How'd you like to walk through a cornfield and have these two 
jacks of the lanterns pop out at you?

The beautiful Victorian homes of Romeo are a perfect stage for 
creating Hallowe'en horror.

Frightfully cool...!

Jack Skellington and his dog,  Zero,  enjoy an All Hallow's Eve.

From the diary of Mary Cooper:
August the 1,  1772,  Saturday - I saw the forme of a man setting in the gand way door.  I thought it was S.C.,  but he disappeard in my approach.  He did not come home til some houres after.  Whether it was he or something supernatural I know not.
I'm not sure who S.C. was,  but...hmmm...
Here's an abandoned really is!  My son and I were brave 
enough to walk up to it,  on Hallowe'en nonetheless!  As I turned 
around to take a picture before we left,  something caught my eye.
Do you see it?

And finally,  my daughter pictured below,  loved the TV show NCIS when she was younger,  as did we all in my family.  So when she was asked what she wanted to be for Hallowe'en a few years back she did not hesitate one bit in saying,  "Abby!"  Abby Sciuto was the  'goth'  forensic scientist on the show and is probably one of the most recognized characters in television today.  It took a bit of searching but I found an NCIS Abby name tag,  a white coat,  dog collar,  a black wig,  and my wife did her tats,  including the spider web on the neck.  My son's then girlfriend  (now wife)  gave my daughter a pair of her goth boots to wear as well.  Let me tell you,  everybody knew who she was.  In fact,  at one point she was literally surrounded by people saying,  "Look!  It's Abby!"  and camera flashes going off everywhere.  Her costume was such a hit that she wore it two years in a row.
My daughter as Abby Sciuto from NCIS 

My home - my porch:  Hallowe'en Night 2022

And here's the last picture for good measure:
Hallowe'en 1965.
Yeah,  that's me as Mickey Mouse and my brother,  Tom,  
as a pirate.
Our costumes were so good and made of such high quality that people actually 
thought we were who we pretended to be!
Every time we yelled  "Trick or Treat"  at the door, the people 
handing out candy would say,  "Oh My!  A scary pirate!"  and 
then,  "Oh!  There's Mickey Mouse!"
Yeah...we were  that  good.

I've seemed to have grown to enjoy Hallowe'en a bit more as I've gotten older,  mainly due to portraying it more as history rather than scary,  though the scary fun is kind of neat,  too.  I won't go to the various  'haunted houses'  that dot the area,  however.  From what I've heard they're nothing more than a shock-fest set with  'spooks'  grabbing people and screaming in their faces.
No,  don't want nothing to do with that.
But a haunted hayride might be fun to try...

Until next time,  see you in time.

Some of the information in this post came directly from the book
Halloween: An American Holiday, An American History by Lesley Pratt Bannatyne
Some also came from a variable of Wikipedia pages.
Turnips & Pumpkin info came directly - word for word - from HERE

To read about some of the hauntings inside Greenfield Village, please click HERE
To read about our own Hallowe'en fun at Greenfield Village in 2022,  click HERE

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