How Ghost Stories Have Evolved: Examines the origins of 11 scary stories

How Ghost Stories Have Evolved
pic credit: Delhi-Ridge

What are the origins of scary stories in real life? What is the origin of Annabelle the doll's story? Do actual ghost stories exist, and how do they evolve over time?

Just in time for Christmas, we break into the origin of 11 terrifying stories in this article. You'll discover the rumored link between zombies and pufferfish, as well as the distinction between the Mothman and the Bunny Man.

1. Andrew Jackson is rumored to have examined a ghost witch. 

Ten years before becoming president,  Andrew Jackson heard a rumor that had spread from Adams, Tennessee, where the Bell family had been haunted by a ghost witch. It started with knocking on their door in 1817 and progressed to singing, bedcovers being ripped off, furniture being moved, physical damage to young Betsy Bell, and even the death of John Bell, the father. 

The entire family claimed to have witnessed the strange occurrences. In 1819, Jackson became interested in the narrative and proceeded to investigate. His horse-drawn cart is alleged to have abruptly stopped in its tracks as he approached the residence. 

The horses were unable to bring it any closer. Jackson left earlier than expected, and who can blame him? The legend of the Bell witch grew even more popular in the late 1800s, thanks to a book written by one of the sons that served as the foundation for a more widely circulated story by another author. 

However, because the son was so young at the time of the haunting, many people are doubtful of his allegations. Some people believe Betsy Bell's future spouse pretended to be a ghost to break up her engagement with another guy. Which, by the way, is the only romantic comedy on the Hallmark Channel that I had seen.

2. The Headless Horseman has a long line of forerunners from all across the world. 

Characters from Arthurian romance and Brothers Grimm fairy tales are similar. Irish legends provide an interesting example. The Dullahan rides a horse, or occasionally a chariot while carrying his own head, which he may put on or take off at leisure and play ghoulish ball games with, according to the Oxford Dictionary of Celtic Mythology. 

3. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving is based on New York folklore. A Revolutionary War cannon is said to have left one German mercenary without a head, so he rides around looking for one, either his or someone else's. 

4. Bloody Marry Likely Evolved From Other Mirror-Based Rituals

The myth that if you recite Bloody Mary a few times in a mirror, a bloody woman will appear and kill you is difficult to track. There have been numerous attempts to link this narrative to Queen Mary I, often known as Bloody Mary or Mary Queen of Scots. 

However, there is no proof that the mythological woman was based on a real person. Instead, it's possible that the notion came from other mirror-based ceremonies. From the late 18th through the early 19th centuries, one prevalent belief was that you could see your future spouse in a mirror, especially around Halloween. 

And, as evidenced by these ancient Halloween cards, this could be just as frightening as Bloody Mary. It also helps that there is a true phenomenon known as the "strange face in the mirror" illusion, which causes items we stare at for too long to become distorted, such as our own reflections.

Also Read: What are the 9 Greatest Unsolved Mysteries in American history?

5. A Devilish Myth Was Begun by a College Newspaper

The devil is reported to emerge twice a year in a cemetery in Stull, Kansas, around Halloween and the spring equinox. Many individuals have trespassed on the property in the hopes of seeing the devil himself on October 31st as a result of this narrative. 

In November 1974, the University of Kansas student newspaper released an article claiming that students had been going to the cemetery and then forgetting about it. There are speculations that the article was only a prank, but it's apparent that it had a big role in the story's success. 

According to legend, the Pope will not fly over Kansas because of the incident, and Ariana Grande claimed in 2013 that she visited Stull Cemetery and took a photo of demons. 

6. Footprints Could Be Responsible for the Jersy Devil's Existence

New Jersey, too, has a devil. According to myth, in 1735, a local woman who was expecting her 13th child declared, "Let this one be the devil!" This is understandable because 13 children is a large number. 

Anyway, after the baby was born, he transformed into the Jersey Devil, complete with horns, claws, wings, and a goat or horse's head. When residents in the neighborhood began finding footprints on their rooftops in 1909, the tale grabbed headlines. 

Since then, the Jersey Devil has been observed all over the Garden State, terrifying people and even killing cattle on occasion.

7. Aztec Mythology is most likely the source of La Llorona

The weeping woman, La Llorona, is well-known mythology in Latin America and the American Southwest. The short story is that she was a woman who drowned her children, quickly regretted it, and shouted out "Ay mis hijos!" - oh my children. 

She continues to haunt the Earth, particularly children. Folklorists debate about her exact origins, although it's widely assumed that La Llorona is related to an Aztec soil divinity in some way.

Also Read: 8 famous ancient historical mysteries that have yet to be solved

8. Fears of Candy Tampering Were Mostly Unfounded

I used to enjoy trick-or-treating as a youngster. My mother, on the other hand, would not allow me to consume candy buttons. She was concerned that they might be laced with drugs, and she wasn't the only parent who was concerned. 

This anxiety began with true news articles from the 1950s to the 1970s, which often featured ambiguous information because the intricacies of the circumstances were unknown at the time. 

Future news stories and columnists, such as Ann Landers, carried it a step further, alleging that candy tampering was a widespread problem. 

In truth, Halloween candy tampering was extremely rare, and the few real-life occurrences tended to involve the devil you know rather than stranger danger. The candy was intended to be used as a cover-up for a murder. So, to cut a long tale short, mum, just let me eat the candy buttons.


9. Annabelle is a Real Doll With Questionable Supernatural Qualities.

Nothing makes me feel more uneasy than a possessed doll. Of course, we must discuss Annabelle, a Raggedy Ann doll housed in a glass exhibit at a Monroe, Connecticut museum. Annabelle was allegedly given to a 28-year-old nurse as a birthday present in 1970. 

The nurse and her roommate began to uncover notes about their apartment that said things like "help me," and the doll began to migrate from one location to another. It was being inhabited by a young girl ghost, according to a psychic, but the Warrens, a ghost-hunting couple, knew otherwise. 

She was never human, according to them. Annabelle was a demonic being. It's a disturbing story, but not quite as disturbing as presenting a doll to a 28-year-old.

10. Zombies Entered The American Lexicon in 1838

On October 31st, you will almost certainly see some zombies if you leave the house. That is, people dressed as zombies. They came to America with a short narrative called "The Unknown Painter" in 1838, but they've been a part of Haitian culture for centuries. 

According to Professor Amy Wilentz, zombie-like creatures first appeared as a warning to enslaved Haitians contemplating suicide. They would be doomed to live on crops as zombies rather than enjoying a pleasant afterlife. With a particular powder, a figure known as a bokor is said to be able to generate zombies. 

Wade Davis, an ethnobotanist, hypothesized in the 1980s that zombies were caused by a specific powder containing pufferfish tetrodotoxin. People poisoned by tetrodotoxin appeared catatonic, despite the fact that they were cognizant and alive, he noted. Tetrodotoxin is a potent neurotoxin, but any link to zombies outside of Davis's story is speculative.

11. Difference Between Bunnyman And Mothman

If you don't want to run into the spirit of the Bunnyman, avoid the Colchester overpass in Virginia on Halloween. According to tradition, a gang of prisoners escaped from a bus in the early 1900s. Except for Douglas Grifton, who spent months hunting and devouring rabbits, they were all apprehended. 

The following morning, a number of youngsters were discovered hanging from the bridge, having met the same fate as the rabbits. As a result, the Bunnyman Bridge is now known as the Colchester Overpass. This legend most likely began in the 1970s, when a man costumed as a rabbit threatened to harm many individuals with an axe and even hurled it at one point.

It's thought that these news articles merged over time, giving rise to the Bunnyman legend. Finally, although Virginia is home to the Bunnyman, West Virginia is home to the Mothman, a huge half-man/half-bird creature originally seen in the 1960s by residents of the Point Pleasant area. 

These sightings generated a lot of talks and even national coverage, culminating in a 1967 bridge collapse that the Mothman was subsequently blamed for.

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