Despite the lack of scientific evidence, many of us believe that ghosts are real. Some of us even go to great lengths just to prove that these ethereal creatures exist, which is why there are several “ghost hunting” shows today. It’s also the reason many tourist attractions all over the country feature haunted houses, just like the Charleston haunted tours. Every now and then, someone puts out a list of the most famous ghosts in history.
The Bell Witch
This poltergeist is probably the most famous ghost in American history. According to American folklore, the Bell Witch was a poltergeist that terrorized a family living in Tennessee back in the 19th century.
It all started when John Bell Sr., a farmer, was walking in his field and spotted an animal he thought was a dog. But, upon closer inspection, he noticed that this “dog” had a rabbit’s head. Probably scared out of his wits, Bell shot the animal with his rifle, and the creature fled, never to be seen again.
Several weeks later, an invisible entity started tormenting the Bell family. The poltergeist often made scratching sounds, but when Bell looked for the source of the sound, he couldn’t find it. The ghost went so far as to physically harm the Bell family by pulling Betsy’s hair, Bell’s youngest daughter. It also stuck pins in some of the family members, and it constantly threatened Bell Sr. that it would kill him. According to the story, the Bell witch poisoned John Bell, Sr., which caused him to die.
The Lemp Family
There’s no family who had a tragic existence more than the Lemp family. The Lemp family came into prominence when their patriarch, Johann Adam Lemp, built a brewery empire in St. Louis back in 1840. However, after they built their empire, the succeeding members of the Lemp family experienced nothing but tragedy.
William J. Lemp Sr. committed suicide in 1904, after suffering from severe depression when his son, Frederick Lemp, and his best friend, Frederick Pabst, died. The former died due to severe health problems and the latter, who was also a prominent brewer, died of natural causes. On December 29, 1922, William J. Lemp Jr., William Sr.’s son who took over the brewing company, shot himself in his office. On March 20, 1920, Elsa Lemp, who was William Lemp Sr.’s youngest daughter shot herself in her home. People said that Elsa suffered from severe depression and deteriorating mental health. Finally, Charles Lemp, William Sr.’s third son, also shot himself in 1949.
The Lemp family had been cursed with so many members committing suicide. But what really made them terrifying is the fact that many people claimed to have seen their ghosts lurking in the Lemp family home. In addition to that, some people also claimed to have seen the ghost of William J. Lemp Sr.’s illegitimate son who was born with Down syndrome. The ghost’s name was Zeke, and some people referred to him as “monkey boy” because of his appearance.
The Greenbrier Ghost
This was about a woman named Zona Heaster, who was murdered by her spouse, Edward Shue. Heaster married Shue, who was a drifter, in 1896 and shortly after, Shue killed her by breaking her neck.
Shue claimed that his wife died of natural causes, but Heaster’s mother didn’t believe him. The reason Heaster’s mother, Mary Jane, didn’t believe Shue was that Heaster’s ghost visited her mother several times telling her that Shue murdered her. In one visit, Heaster even twisted her neck until she was facing her back to show her mother that Shue did break her neck.
This convinced Mary Jane to have her daughter’s corpse examined. When the coroner looked at Zona Heaster’s neck it was indeed broken. The examination led to Edward Shue’s conviction, and the town erected a marker in honor of Zona Heaster and her ghost.
This is just a glimpse of how rich American folklore is when it comes to ghosts. There are so many more of them hidden in every town from the west to the east coast, each one as unique and frightening as the one before it.