“It was rather dark, for the lower half of the windows were boarded up; but in one corner, on the floor, was plainly distinguishable what looked like a heap of clothes flung together in disorder. It appeared to be in motion, however, and the mistress of the house once more turning to her follower had just time to utter the mysterious words—”Don’t be frightened. If she likes you, she’ll hoot; if she doesn’t, she’ll scream…”
It was widely believed in the 19th century that whatever a pregnant woman gazed upon would affect her baby. The papers were full of stories of children born with birth defects or phobias ascribed to their mother being frightened by such horrors as a snarling dog, a rat crushed in a trap, a lightning storm, or a ghost. They are disturbing reading for it was an insensitive age and those born deformed were referred to by journalists in terms like rat baby, human frog, infant monster, or “It.” This is a look at some of those maternally influenced monsters.
A collection of stories of ghostly, disembodied heads, mostly malevolent and usually in a state of vilest decomposition.
An article about a gruesome experiment with the consciousness of severed heads reminded me of my file of mummified head stories. Here is a cabinet of mummified curiosities–merely because I am interested in the grim and gruesome. An upcoming post will share stories of hauntings involving disembodied heads.
I understand the impulse to save the Odd. I understand Victorian baby teeth made into lily-of-the-valley brooches; the bloody clothing of the Sture men kept as a memorial after their murder by King Erik Vasa; the layette of a dead baby packed away in lavender. I have the contents of my Great-Grandfather’s pockets from the day he died at Black Hill near Mansfield, Ohio while working on the Erie line. So today, in the random order of a cabinet of curiosities, you will find similar “secular relics:” mementoes of war, crime, love, and death.
The 19th-century reading public was avid for a fortean sensation. Here is a sampling of the News of the Weird from 1895.
When Charles Julius Guiteau was hung for the assassination of President James A. Garfield, it was just the beginning of a macabre, post-mortem career for his head–or rather his deboned face embalmed and preserved in a vat of alcohol….
Drifting for ten centuries through the uncharted seas north of the Arctic Circle, traversing heaven knows how many thousand miles of snow and silence, perhaps pushed by the ever-grinding ice floes of the North Pole itself, the body of a Viking king a thousand years old has been returned at last to civilization.
In an obscure museum in Florence, Italy, there is an object–a table top–which looks like it is inlaid with polished semi-precious stones. In fact, it is made of pieces of petrified human corpses.