Ghostly ev­i­dence

Record Observer - - Opinion -

Edi­tor’s Note: In last week’s “From the past” col­umn, we re­counted part of a story that ap­peared in the Record Ob­server 50 years ago. The story was about a trial in the late 1700s in which a ghost played a part. Thomas Har­ris’ il­le­git­i­mate chil­dren sued their aunt and un­cle for their fa­ther’s es­tate, but the un­cle died and the aunt tes­ti­fied to Judge James Til­gh­man that she be­lieved her hus­band was crazy be­cause he told her he’d seen his brother’s ghost. In the spirit of Hal­loween, here’s the rest of the story.

Wil­liam Briggs, a highly re­spected farmer, who had served un­der Washington and Har­ris, tes­ti­fied that about two weeks af­ter his friend’s death he had been fright­ened to see him stand­ing mo­tion­less in­side a ceme­tery gate.

Af­ter the quar­rel over the es­tate be­came pub­lic knowl­edge, Briggs tes­ti­fied that he saw the same specter sev­eral times, once while he was in the pres­ence of John Bai­ley, an­other neigh­bor.

Fi­nally, Briggs asked the specter why he per­sisted in fright­en­ing him. The strange, misty fig­ure slowly replied that he wanted Briggs to re­mind James Har­ris to carry out the in­struc­tions by giv­ing the es­tate to the il­le­git­i­mate chil­dren.

Briggs tes­ti­fied that he told James Har­ris, who ad­mit­ted the truth of the strange con­ver­sa­tion. Bai­ley con­firmed the tes­ti­mony of Briggs — Har­ris’s chil­dren got the es­tate — thanks to the ef­forts of a ghost.

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