Begotten by a Ghost

Begotten by a Ghost: The Widow, Henry Wolf, 1892. The Smithsonian

Begotten by a Ghost The Widow, Henry Wolf, 1892. The Smithsonian

A few months back that peerless purveyor of paranormal news, The Daily Mail  published the intimate details of women who enjoy having sex with ghosts. (Is there an app for that?) Apparently their flesh-and-blood lovers came off rather badly in comparison.

Sex has always been a feature of the séance room, whether in the form of strip-searches of comely mediums, the embraces of “spirit brides,” or the orgasms of the entranced. But what is comparatively rare is the notion that a ghost can beget children. This is a delicate subject and even Spiritualists who espouse Free Love do not mention it. But one man, the Rev. John Bunyan Campbell, M.D., V.D. Founder of The Vitapathic System of Practice, tackled the question fearlessly. In a discussion of the Virgin Birth, he reveals that he has freed lady clients from the attacks of their demon lovers.

I have been investigating and studying out this secret for many years, and every year additional proof has been produced. Lately I received a letter from a prominent man in a near by city, who knew nothing about my investigation, or of me or belief. He simply wrote to me about his wife’s condition, and wished advice, stating that she claimed that materialized or etherealized human souls, whom she knew to be dead (in body), came to her at night and had sexual connection with her, this being repeated very frequently and often, many in one night. I afterwards obtained a correspondence with her, and found her to be a very intelligent woman, and very mediumistic, and that disembodied souls could materialize to some extent in her presence, and do all that was stated to me by her husband. Through my positive spirit treatment this lady has been relieved without me seeing her at all. She is now happy and free.

Since that time I have had a lady patient brought here to my Sanitarium by her husband for treatment for obscession, [sic] her clear positive statement of her case was similar to that of the lady before referred to. I treated her with complete success. Sometimes undeveloped disembodied souls will obscess sensitive, mediumistic, easily influenced females for this very purpose, to gratify their carnal desires, sometimes many will attack the same woman. Mary Magdalene, of scripture account, had seven of these ghostly husbands. One lady whom I cured wrote to me that she had had fifteen of those lustful ghosts; she said she knew and counted them. One of my lady patients counted eight of her ghostly lovers, to whom if she yielded passively all was peace, if not, there was terrible torture. I had one young lady patient in this city who was tortured in this way; I used strong positive spirit power and drove them out of her house, and commanded them to never return, and they did not return. As they went out of the house I saw and counted them, there were thirty dark-visaged, robust looking ghost men. Enough is known to prove that disembodied humans are still human in their instincts and desires, and this too though the ghost may be never so enlightened and exalted…These faculties belong to the soul, and all souls in all worlds and in all heavens retain their faculties.

As if that were not astonishing enough, the Rev. Campbell continues with a Revelation: if not a Virgin Birth, perhaps a second coming.


A case for which only one precedent can be found in history is at the present time the theme of much comment at Nantes. A widow named Lasalle, who has now for upward of two years worn the weeds for her departed spouse, and has during that time led ostensibly the most ascetic of lives, has recently, to the surprise of her neighbors and seemingly of herself, become a mother. Whether this child is the first of a new order of beings, destined to supercede the present inhabitants of this planet, as some seem to believe, remains yet to be proved. That there is a strong probability of this being the case is asserted by many who are intimately associated with the lady. She herself tells a well nigh incredible story with regard to the matter, and instead of appearing dismayed at the advent of the little stranger, as some ladies undoubtedly would be under the circumstances, she boldly proclaims a theory which accounts for its existence creditably to herself, and even seems to court investigation of the matter. Since the death of her husband, Mme. Lasalle asserts he has not been absent from her thoughts even for a second.


Since his demise, and, as the attendants in the cemetery are aware, has always left some floral token to show the unfading character of her affection for the dust reposing so peacefully below. In return for this unwavering constancy, Mme. Lasalle claims that on several occasions, when she has been alone in her room at night, her husband has appeared to her.

His appearance in the chamber has always, she claims, been the cause of her sinking into a kind of dreamy torpor. Mme. Lasalle had never previously been a mother, and it was an entirely natural course for her thoughts to take when enjoying the presence of her spirit husband, that she would like some material token of those visits, to prove to her that she had not been the victim of a mere mental illusion. So strong did this desire finally become, asserts Mme. Lasalle, that she finally communicated the idea to her etherealized spouse, and was only too delighted to discover that he entirely shared


The thoughtless couple do not appear to have considered at all what an embarrassing position it would place the lady in to become a mother, under the circumstances, so long after the husband had been, according to the calculations of other mortals, dead. Accordingly some three weeks ago, and, as Mme. Lasalle observed, at precisely the proper time for its appearance, a healthy and to all appearances an ordinary mortal child was born to her. As Mme. Lasalle is an exceedingly devout woman, a regular attendant at church, and has an absolutely immaculate reputation, even with the gossips of the locality in which she lives, there seems to be no disposition to doubt her statements with regard to the matter. Sheathed in the faith of her own convictions, there is not the slightest doubt that the woman is thoroughly convinced that her explanation is a perfectly correct one, and that she considers herself a woman of wonderful powers in consequence. Of course the skeptical regard Mme. Lasalle as a very clever actress and fraud, or else insist that she is insane upon the subject, but one medical expert, who has examined and questioned the woman closely, asserts that he is ready to accept her statement that the man who was married to her is


Mme. Lasalle has never affiliated herself with the Spiritualists, but since the birth of her child has been visited by several people interested in such doctrines.

It is expected by these people that the child, if it lives, may develop some very remarkable powers of a mediumistic character, if indeed it does not inaugurate the beginning of a new species, destined to form a link between the astral and material existences. The traditions of the human race are cited by these credulous enthusiasts as justifying such a far-fetched conclusion, as it is hinted both in Biblical and mythological lore that beings of a semi-supernatural character were once common on this sublunary sphere. Meanwhile the baby thrives upon the ordinary infant diet, and seems to be particularly oblivious to the speculations of both philosophers and scientists. This may, however, be only a ruse of his to baffle any impertinent curiosity on the part of the public.

Spirit Vitapathy: A Religious Scientific System of Health and Life for Body and Soul, with All-Healing Spirit Power, As employed by Jesus, the Christ, his Apostles, and others, That cures and saves all who receive it, Rev. John Bunyan Campbell, M.D., V.D. Founder of The Vitapathic System of Practice, President and Founder of The American Free Church and Health College, Fairmount, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1891

I would not dream of casting aspersions on the widow so sheathed in her convictions and her immaculate reputation. Would grief so alter her perceptions that a nocturnal imposter could pose as her spirit-husband? Could she have carried on for any length of time without the village gossips noticing?

Delicacy may have prevented post-mortem pregnancies from being discussed in polite company, but there were naughty jokes on the subject.


A very valuable garden having caught the eye of a pretty farmer’s wife, in Staffordshire, in England; she determined to secure to herself the use of it, without paying any rent; accordingly, whenever any tenant came to occupy the house which belonged to the premises, she appeared in the bed-room in the night, wrapped up in a white sheet, by which every person who came was affrighted from the place. At last a fine young fellow took the house, and was no sooner in bed than the ghost appeared. The young fellow immediately entered into a conversation, and found it most charming flesh and blood—the visits continued, and in nine months the ghost was effectually laid—in the straw. Herald of Vermont [Rutland, VT] 13 August 1792: p. 4

If you’re wondering, straw is not a reference to the Farmer’s Daughter of legend and joke, nor to turkeys, but to the straw used as a disposable bed for childbirth.

In this last anecdote, the blame for an awkward pregnancy is laid on a ghost.


A girl who was servant in a house reputed to be haunted, was suspected and at length fairly convicted of pregnancy; she fell on her knees before her mistress, and craved forgiveness, alleging indeed that she ought not to be blamed, for it was entirely the ghost’s fault.

“The ghosts’s fault!” exclaimed the mistress, “how could that possibly happen?”

“Why indeed madam, replied the simple girl, “the ghost each night made a huge noise, and almost terrified me out of my seven senses. I told John how it had sarved me, and he persuaded me how spirits never appeared, when two people slept together. So as I liked his company better than the ghosteses, and was mortally afraid of ghosteses, I went along with him, and so, indeed and indeed madam I should never have lost my vartue, if it had not been for fear of the ghosteses. Vermont Gazette [Bennington, VT] 15 June 1792: p. 4

Other children begotten by ghosts? chriswoodyard8 AT

See also this post on sex in the séance room and this, on a girl raised by a ghost–Patience Worth’s “daughter.”

Chris Woodyard is the author of The Victorian Book of the Dead, The Ghost Wore Black, The Headless Horror, The Face in the Window, and the 7-volume Haunted Ohio series. She is also the chronicler of the adventures of that amiable murderess Mrs Daffodil in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales. The books are available in paperback and for Kindle. Indexes and fact sheets for all of these books may be found by searching Join her on FB at Haunted Ohio by Chris Woodyard or The Victorian Book of the Dead. And visit her new blog at The Victorian Book of the Dead.


0.00 avg. rating (0% score) - 0 votes