Thursday, October 31, 2019

John Armstrong Haunting in Carlisle Iowa

Every night at just after sunset the residents of Carlisle. Iowa grew accustomed to seeing Mr. and Mrs. John Armstrong sitting in their armchairs. The only thing that bothered people a bit was the couple had been dead for two years. 

In July 1903 their grandson, C. C. Sumter sent a man to fix up the home so he could rent it out. The man came back, wild-eyed, screaming that he’d “seen the ghosts of two old folks, as real as life.”

Sumter had his doubts and asked Mayor Atkins to investigate. 

The mayor wrote back: Decorator right. Ghosts of John Armstrong and wife seen nightly at their old home. Entire town perplexed and witnessing the spectacle.

Sumter thought they were crazy but came to see for himself.

Sure enough his grandparents materialized in their chairs at daybreak and faded out come nighttime. Just like in real life, his deaf grandmother tapped on the floor with her cane to get the old man’s attention. The couple appear to talk. Their lips move, but no sounds are heard.

Upon further investigation, it developed that ghosts only appeared on bright, sunshiny days. Apparently, John Armstrong didn’t like dark, gloomy days. He’d close the blinds and hide away in his house. 

Years later, a small boy solved the mystery. The stained glass window in the Christian Church across the street had an image of an old couple. When the sun shone it cast their reflections into the Armstrong’s living room. On dark days, there was nothing.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch. August 23, 1903.

A Haunted House on Dry Creek in Fort Madison

There’s a haunted house in the west end of Fort Madison that sits on the bank of a ravine called Dry Creek. 

James Dixon, a section hand on the Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad lived there with his family for a few weeks in 1898. 

One night they heard footsteps outside their door. The sounds came up almost to the door. There was a loud stomp, and then nothing. The family supposed it was a neighbor playing tricks on them.

The old haunted house sat in a ravine off Dry Creek in the West end of Fort Madison.
(from The St. Louis Globe-Democrat. January 16, 1898.) 
It happened again night after night. The footsteps came right up to the door and stopped. When James opened the door there was nothing, just open space.

The next time he heard the sounds James was ready—he had a gun. When the footsteps stopped, he fired two shots through the door. Still nothing, except two holes in his door.

Another time, the steps didn’t stop at the front door. They walked around the house and then came up the basement stairs. A few days later Mrs. Dixon went to get a drink of water and she saw the shape of an old man with gray hair near the basement stairs. 

The next time the old man appeared, the family heard strange noises, and found pools of a liquid that looked like blood on the floor. 

That was all they could take. Mr. Dixon packed up his family and moved away. After that, hundreds of people flocked to the house hoping to solve the mystery.