Friday, October 11, 2013

Lizzie Clark: The Girl in White


The following newspaper article from 1894 describes an apparition that people named 'The Girl In White.' The assumption was that the ghost was most likely the earthbound spirit of Lizzie Clark, a girl who either committed suicide or was murdered almost 20 years previous. At the time of the article, 7 years had past since the initial sighting. The legend continues to this day in Hancock & Henderson Counties, Illinois:

MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCE OF LIZ CLARK TWENTY YEARS AGO

The Tragedy of a Little Illinois Town -- Murder or Suicide -- The Ghost that is Seen by Hunters and River Men -- It Is Always Arrayed in a White Gown

Fully 20 years have passed since Lizzie Clark, an orphan with a heritage disappeared from a hotel in Dallas City, Ills., as completely as if the earth had swallowed her up. In all that western country there has never been a stranger case than the disappearance of that girl, and there has never been a greater ghost mystery than has been and still is occasioned by the evidently disembodied spirit of the girl.

The story of Lizzie Clark has been county history. She was an orphan and had some property and money. A guardian had been appointed, and Lizzie, being ambitious to add to her little store, set about to work in a hotel by the river’s edge. It was one afternoon about 20 years ago that Lizzie Clark, who had been washing dishes in the kitchen, stepped out into the yard of the hotel. She was seen to leave the kitchen by several working around the house, who paid no attention to the girl, but that was the last that was ever seen of her. Those who saw her step into the yard heard no scream, no stifled moan, no struggling, but there are people yet living who believe that the girl was suddenly seized, strangled, concealed in the house until dark and then cast into the dark river. Be that as it may, the murderers, if they remained in the same locality long, have been aptly tormented since.It is said that the murderers did not leave the locality for some time thereafter, and yet, again, others say the girl was never murdered, but drowned herself, and that her ghost is not one of a murdered persons, but one of suicide. All one can gain from the different stories and theories is that the girl was dealt with foully in some manner, and that her ghost still haunts the locality. Of course every effort was made to ferret out the mystery, Detectives hunted high and low, money was spent to no purpose, and finally the guardian of the girl’s estate turned her money over to the county authorities to this day because there is not kith or kin to claim it.


The girl’s ghost was first seen in December, 1887, when a party of duck hunters were returning to Dallas City from the islands. An excursion steamer had become disabled late in the season and was lying on the bank of the island across the bay. She was in a rather bad fix. It was expected to leave her there during the winter. As the hunters neared the craft a form in white was seen to run out upon the upper deck. It was a young girl’s figure, and she was evidently being pursued, for from across the water came screams, and then the following words: “Leave me alone, leave me alone, or I will drown myself!” With that the specter flung itself into the river. There was a splash, and the cold waters closed over the white body. Several times during that winter the ghost of Lizzie Clark was seen at night and at early candle light around the disabled steamer. When the steamer was taken away the next spring, workmen and steamboatmen heard pitiful screams from the willows on shore as the boat moved away. The spirit did not leave the island, and it is believed that she was buried on the island after the murder.


Of later years, however, the girl’s ghost has been seen in a skiff at night, and it was only a few evenings ago that one of the St. Louis and St. Paul fast steamers ran into the spectral thing. The pilot did not see the ghostly craft until too late. He says he saw a boat of white that looked more like floating fleece than anything else. In the boat was a young girl in white raiment, but there were blood clots on the white dress. “She was rowing swiftly. When the prow of the steamer struck this frail craft, it cut through it like mist. The ghostly occupant only laughed a sort of uncanny laugh–a half scream–and when we had passed I saw the spectral craft dancing on the waves behind. I doubt if an ordinary skiff could have lived in the waves of our steamer, right under the paddles.” Thus spoke the pilot, and he is a man of few words and sterling integrity.

“Have you seen Lizzie Clark’s boat?” is now the question that goes from one mouth to another during the summer season. The question is not asked so often in the winter from the fact that the poor girl’s spirit does not seem to roam so much. Hunters have come into Dallas shaking with fright and calling for a dram to brace their nerves, saying that coming down from the islands above on the ice they had met Lizzie Clark walking rapidly toward them. She always wears that white dress, and the blood stains on the neck are plain. The girls eyes are staring wide open, as if she were being suffocated. Her spirit has been known to step out from behind a clump of dead trees at the head of the island and face passersby. She will give them a terrible look and then scream piteously. In an instant more the spirit has disappeared. — Chicago Times - 10 October 1894

Ghosts along the Mississippi River

Big Book of Illinois Ghost Stories, The (Big Book of Ghost Stories)

Haunted Illinois: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Prairie State (Haunted Series)


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