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The Sources:

anon :
"THOUGHT GHOST STONED HOUSE"
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 6, 1902

anon :
"SOUGHT TO LAY HIS FATHER'S GHOST"
New York Daily Tribune, November 7, 1902

The Case:

I must admit that I would undoubtedly have missed this case if it wasn't for the help of the greatest expert on American vampires, Michael E. Bell, who most kindly brought it to my attention. It is a news item from Vienna that appeared in various American newspapers at the beginning of November 1902. Apparently it has been released by a news agency for apart from the headings all the articles are identical. I will quote the story verbatim:

"Vienna, November 6 - An extraordinary instance of the superstition which is so prevalent among the peasantry of Hungary is reported from the village of Gross-Zorlenez near Reschita. The house of a widow named Pova had been lately repeatedly stoned and the police were unable to discover the culprit. The widow's young son, becoming possessed of the idea that his father rose from his grave nightly and bombarded his former home, went to the cemetery, dug up the corpse, dragged it nearly a mile and burned it. The boy was arrested."

In the meantime I found that the case is also mentioned in Bernhard Stern's "Medizin, Aberglaube und Geschlechtsleben in der Türkey - mit Berücksichtigung der moslemischen Nachbarländer und der ehemaligen Vasallenstaaten". This is what Schmidt tells us:

"In der ungarischen Gemeinde Nagy-Zarlencz wurde, wie die "Korrespondenz Hungaria" am 7. November 1902 erzählte, das Haus der Witwe Papa nächtlicherweile mit Steinen beworfen. Da der Urheber des Bombardements nicht entdeckt werden konnte, kam der Sohn der Witwe auf den Gedanken, dass der tote Vater nachts sein Grab verlasse und umgehe. Er scharrte den verdächtigen Leichnam aus, schleppte ihn weit fort und verbrannte ihn."

The Date:

The newspaper reports all date back to the year of 1902.

The Place:

"Gross Zorlenez" is called "Nagy-Zorolenez" in Hungarian. But nowadays it is situated in Romania, and perhaps not surprisingly in the Oltenian part. I have said it again and again: forget about Transylvania. If you are looking for the real thing Oltenia was and still is the place to go. Anyway, "Gross Zorlenez" is now called "Zorlentu Mare" and can be found SouthEast of Timisoara, and a little to the NorthEast of Resita. On to the other place mentioned: "Reschitza". In Hungarian it is called "Resicabanya" and in Romania it has been renamed to "Resita". Please note that the "t" in both "Zorlentu Mare" and "Resita" is not a normal "t" but that special Romanian "t" with a small comma attached to its bottom. So in fact it is the "ts" that we know so well from words like "tsepesh".

Possible Follow-Up:

I have tried to find back the article in Austrian newspapers from around that date. I have had no luck so far but will continue my search. Many Austrian newspapers from that period have been scanned and put on-line as PDF files, but - trust my luck - preciously few of them are searchable...

© 2012 by Rob Brautigam - NL - Last changed 17 February 2012

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