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The Amherst Mystery: A Poltergeist in Nova Scotia



The house where most of the poltergeist activity associated with Esther Cox occurred. Photo: Wikipedia.

Between 1878 and 1879 Esther Cox and her family were subjected to a series of violent poltergeist activity. Was this case just a hoax or something more mysterious?

Esther Cox and the Poltergeist

A recreation of the events of the Amherst Mystery for the 1993 production of Guilty! The Story of the Great Amherst Mystery in Sackville, N.B. Photo:

In August 1878, 18 year old Esther Cox was subjected to a sexual assault at gunpoint by a male friend. After this Esther was not the same. She was in a constant state of distress. It was not long after this that strange phenomena began to occur around the house.

While Esther and her family were sleeping they would hear knocking and rapping noises throughout the house. Esther began to suffer seizures that would cause her body to swell up. Eventually objects in the house began to move around by themselves, even being flung across the room by an unseen force.

Esther’s family were frightened by what was happening and called in a doctor to check on her. The doctor gave Esther some sedatives. This seemed to anger the poltergeist and the activity increased. The family was able to communicate with the spirit using the knocking sounds.

The poltergeist activity continued for several months and many local people came to investigate. Many visitors witnessed the banging and object moving by themselves including local clergymen.

In December 1878 Esther fell ill with diphtheria and spent several weeks in bed. The poltergeist activity ceased while she was unwell.

When she recovered the mysterious activity began to happen again, now escalating to include fires. Esther claimed she could see a ghost which threatened to burn the house down unless she left the house.

Esther moved in with another family in January 1879 but the strange activity continued. Esther now was claiming to have been physically abused by the spirits. She had scratch marks, slap marks and was even stabbed in the back with a clasp knife.

Many local people believe she was making it all up and began to harass her in the street.

Interest in the case continued to grow as time went on. In March Esther traveled to Saint John, New Brunswick and was investigated by some local scientists. Esther claimed to be visited by several spirits who identified themselves as Bob Nickle, Peter Cox and Maggie Fisher.

After returning from Saint John Ester visited her friends, the Van Amberghs, for a while and was not bothered with any poltergeist activity while she was there.

In the summer of 1879 she returned to family home where the poltergeist phenomena returned with a vengeance. At this point the case drew the attention of famous actor Walter Hubbell.

Hubbell spent several weeks with the family and saw for himself several objects flying across the room and physical marks spontaneously appearing on Esther. He was even able to communicate with the spirits by their knocking.

Hubbell teamed up with Esther and took her on a speaking tour drawing audiences who would pay to hear her story. She was often heckled and after a fight broke out one night the tour was abandoned.

Esther returned to Amherst she began working for a man named Arthur Davison. Before long Arthur’s barn burned down and he accused Esther of Arson. She was convicted and jailed for a month.

After this the poltergeist phenomena disappeared for good. Esther went on to get married twice and have two sons. She died in November 1912 at the age of 52.

Was the Amherst Mystery a Hoax?

A documentary about the Amherst Mystery and Esther Cox

There are a number of things that point towards this case being a hoax.

Hubbell went on to write a book after staying with Esther which sold 55,000 copies. It would have been difficult for him to sell his book if it was not filled with miraculous occurrences but simply the manifestation of one woman’s mental illness.

Esther was clearly traumatized after a horrific event. Dr. Walter F. Prince wrote in the Proceedings of the American Society for Psychical Research (Vol XIII, 1919) that it was likely that Esther was suffering from mental illness and was partaking in trickery while in a dissociative state.

It seems likely that at least some of the poltergeist activity was caused by Esther and Hubbell with a financial motive. Perhaps there was initially something paranormal that was embellished upon until it became unrecognizable. We will probably never know for sure.

Do you think the Amherst Mystery was a hoax? Let us know in the comments.

If you enjoyed this article you may also be interested in the Enfield Haunting or the story of the Bell Witch.

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Walking Sam: The Suicide Spirit of Pine Ridge




Walking Sam: The Suicide Spirit. Photo: Ranker.

In 2015 a spree of suicides took place in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Some believe these were caused by an evil spirit called Walking Sam.

Who is Walking Sam?

An artist’s depiction of Walking Sam. Photo: Ranker

Walking Sam is known by various names, including “Tall Man” and “Stovepipe Hat Bigfoot.” He is a towering figure standing at seven feet tall and has eyes but no mouth, sometimes wearing a stove-pipe hat.

When he raises his arms, people can see the bodies of his past victims hanging beneath him. Walking Sam is said to call out to teenagers and try to convince them that they are worthless, urging them to take their own lives. Some believe that he targets young people because they are more vulnerable to his manipulations.

According to Native American legends, Walking Sam is an ancient being closely linked to “Stick Indians,” who are dark and shadowy spirit entities.

Kids grow up hearing spooky stories about these evil forces that haunt reservations and try to lure unsuspecting victims to their doom. They’re always followed by a creepy cloud of death that just hangs around them.

If you hear whistling, it might be one of these Stick Indians nearby. But if you follow the sound, you could get paralyzed, hypnotized, or even lose your mind completely.

If you disrespect them, they’ll hold a grudge and seek revenge no matter what. Some tribes are so scared of them that they won’t even talk about them, so we don’t know everything about these beings. But Walking Sam is supposed to be one of the most powerful ones.

There are those who believe that Walking Sam represents the pain and trauma that the Lakota Indians endure on a daily basis. Given the deep spiritual connection that the Lakota people have with their land and heritage, some see Walking Sam as a physical embodiment of this suffering.

The Pine Ridge Suicides

A video telling the story of Walking Sam

The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is located near the Black Hills of South Dakota and is home to the Oglala Lakota tribe. It’s one of the largest Indian reservations in the US. Sadly, Pine Ridge has a sad past as hundreds of Lakota Indians were killed during the Wounded Knee Massacre.

It’s one of the poorest counties in the US. In 2015, a number of young people committed suicide on the reservation, and some people thought that supernatural forces like the legendary Walking Sam were to blame.

From December 2014 to March 2015, there were a staggering 103 suicide attempts, with nine of them being successful, and tragically, none of the victims were older than twenty-five.

The majority of those who died had used hanging as the method of suicide. Although there had been other clusters of suicides in previous years, this was the largest. As the community struggled to understand and deal with the crisis, some looked to traditional Native American beliefs for answers.

Lakota children are raised hearing stories about “suicide spirits,” “stick people,” and shadow people who try to lure young people away from their homes at night. These stories may have evolved over time, influenced by the popularity of Slender Man, into the figure now known as Walking Sam.

Walking Sam Sightings

During meetings of reservation officials, one of the topics that often comes up is Walking Sam. These officials advise reservation members to avoid walking on the streets at night as it would be an ideal time for Walking Sam to approach his victims.

Several residents have expressed concern and requested the police to keep a lookout for Walking Sam. Many residents have reported seeing his shadow and have shared their encounters with the police. Some residents have even reported hearing whistling sounds coming from nowhere.

Have you ever seen Walking Sam? Let us know in the comments.

If you enjoyed learning about Walking Sam you might also be interested in Diao Si Gui: Chinese Hanged Ghosts or La Ciguapa: The Woman with Backwards Feet.

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Diao Si Gui: Chinese Hanged Ghosts




A Diao Si Gui or Hanged Ghost. Photo: Cryptid Wiki

According to Chinese legend, Diao Si Gui are the souls of those who took their own lives or were executed. These spirits may manifest as a body with a protruding, lengthy red tongue and attempt to persuade those who cross their path to join them in the world beyond.

The Legend of the Diao Si Gui

Diao Si Gui, or Hanged Ghosts can be created in two ways: when a person takes their own life by hanging or when they are executed by hanging as a punishment for their crimes.

The more prolonged and painful the death, such as by slow suffocation instead of a quick snap of the neck, the greater the likelihood of them becoming a Diao Si Gui.

These ghosts are said to haunt the vicinity of the location where they committed suicide and are often depicted with a noose around their neck, dangling feet, and long red tongues hanging from their mouths.

It is believed that one should avoid making eye contact with a Dio Si Gui as they may lure you into a hypnotic state and persuade you to hang yourself.

In some versions of the legend, if the ghost successfully persuades someone to hang themselves, that person becomes a Hanged Ghost while the original ghost goes free.

Other versions suggest that a Hanged Ghost is not limited to a specific location and can torment a person for days, gradually convincing them to take their own life. When the time is right, the ghost will appear to the person in a high place and lower a noose to them.

Stories About Diao Si Gui

In the Chinese Fairy Book by Dr. R. Wilhelm (1921), there is a story known as The Hanged Ghost, which tells the tale of a soldier seeking refuge for the night in an old, run-down temple.

While there, he witnesses a female ghost descending from the rafters, unaware of his presence in the shadows. Intrigued, he follows her to a farmhouse where he discovers the ghost urging a young mother and her child to hang themselves. The soldier intervenes, saving the woman’s life and causing the ghost to flee.

On his way back to the temple, the soldier takes the rope left behind by the ghost, but she appears on the road and demands that he give it back.

He refuses and wraps the rope around his arm, causing the ghost to transform and attack him. The soldier defends himself by flinging his own blood at the ghost, causing her to retreat. He continues his journey with the rope now part of his arm, unfazed by the encounter.

A video telling the tale of Diao Si Gui or hanged ghosts

Possible Explanations for the Diao Si Gui

It is possible that the legend of the hanged ghost came about as a way to help families come to terms with the unexpected suicides of their loved ones. It’s easier to believe that a loved one may have been manipulated in to killing them self by a spirit than it is to believe that they wanted to die.

Have you ever seen a Diao Sui Gui or Hanged Ghost? Let us know in the comments.

If you enjoyed learning about the Diao Sui Gui you might also be interested in the mysterious stain left behind by the body of Margaret Schilling or how the ghost of Teresita Basa solved her own murder.

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