A little girl posing with her dead sister and their dolls.
A mother posing with her dead child.
Photo of a group at a seance, c 1920 by William Hope, “spirit photographer”
The information accompanying the spirit album states that the table is levitating - in reality the image of a ghostly arm has been superimposed over the table.
Hope’s “Spirit Photography” work gained momentum after WWI, when many people were desperate to find evidence of loved ones living beyond the grave. His techniques used double and triple exposures to render the appearance of ghostly apparitions around the sitter. His deception was publicly exposed by a private investigator in 1922, but he still continued his work. (via the UK’s National Media Museum)
Oddity of the Week: Pope Lick Monster
The Pope Lick Monster is a legendary part-man, part-goat and part-sheep creature reported to live beneath a Norfolk Southern Railway trestle over Floyd’s Fork Creek, in the Fisherville area of Louisville, Kentucky.
In most accounts, the Pope Lick Monster (named after the Pope Lick Creek below the Pope Lick Train Trestle) appears as a human-goat hybrid with a grotesquely deformed body of a man. It has powerful, fur-covered goat legs, an alabaster-skinned face with an aquiline nose and wide set eyes. Short, sharp horns protrude from the forehead, nestled in long greasy hair that matched the color of the fur on the legs.
Numerous urban legends exist about the creature’s origins and the methods it employs to claim its victims. According to some accounts, the creature uses either hypnosis or voice mimicry to lure trespassers onto the trestle to meet their death before an oncoming train.
Other stories claim the monster jumps down from the trestle onto the roofs of cars passing beneath it. Yet other legends tell that it attacks its victims with a blood-stained axe. It has also been said that the very sight of the creature is so unsettling that those who see it while walking across the high trestle are driven to leap off.
Other legends explain the creature’s origins, including that it is a human goat hybrid, and that it was a circus freak who vowed revenge after being mistreated. In one version, the creature escaped after a train derailed on the trestle. Another version claims that the monster is really the twisted reincarnated form of a farmer who sacrificed goats in exchange for Satanic powers.
Oddity of the Week: Sawney Bean
Alexander “Sawney” Bean was the legendary head of a 48-member clan in 15th- or 16th-century Scotland, reportedly executed for the mass murder and cannibalization of over 1,000 people.
While historians tend to believe that Sawney Bean never existed, his story has passed into legend and is part of the Edinburgh tourism industry.
According to The Newgate Calendar, Alexander Bean was born in East Lothian during the 1500s. His father was a ditch digger and hedge trimmer, and Bean tried to take up the family trade but quickly realized that he had little taste for honest labour.
He left home with a vicious woman who apparently shared his inclinations. The couple ended up at a coastal cave in Bennane Head between Girvan and Ballantrae where they lived undiscovered for some twenty-five years. The cave was 200 yards deep and during high tide the entrance was blocked by water.
The couple eventually produced eight sons, six daughters, eighteen grandsons and fourteen granddaughters. Various children and grandchildren were products of incest. Lacking the inclination for regular labour, the clan thrived by laying careful ambushes at night to rob and murder individuals or small groups. The bodies were brought back to the cave where they were dismembered and cannibalised. Leftovers were pickled, and discarded body parts would sometimes wash up on nearby beaches.
The body parts and disappearances did not go unnoticed by the local villagers, but the Beans stayed in the caves by day and took their victims at night. The clan was so secretive that the villagers were not aware of the murderers living nearby.
As more significant notice of the disappearances was taken, several organized searches were launched to find the culprits. One search took note of the telltale cave but the men refused to believe anything human could live in it. Frustrated and in a frenetic quest for justice, the townspeople lynched several innocents, and the disappearances continued. Suspicion often fell on local innkeepers since they were the last to see many of the missing people alive.
One fateful night, the Beans ambushed a married couple riding from a fair on one horse, but the man was skilled in combat, deftly holding off the clan with sword and pistol. The clan fatally mauled the wife when she fell to the ground in the conflict. Before they could take the resilient husband, a large group of fairgoers appeared on the trail and the Beans fled.
With the Beans’ existence finally revealed, it was not long before King James VI of Scotland (later James I of England) heard of the atrocities and decided to lead a manhunt with a team of 400 men and several bloodhounds. They soon found the Beans’ previously overlooked cave in Bennane Head. The cave was scattered with human remains, having been the scene of many murders and cannibalistic acts.