Ghost Stories

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The Nelly Butler hauntings is referred to as the first recorded ghost story in American history (LiBrizzi 5), and possibly the most exciting hauntings to date as there are still many unsolved mysteries. The apparition appeared on more than 30 separate occasions to over 100 witnesses in Sullivan, Maine, just over fifteen years after the American Revolution (5-6). Although the Nelly Butler apparition is one of the most convincing ghosts of all time, it was subject to suspicions of fraud. These claims turn out to be groundless as the evidence reveals the ghost to be genuine.

Although there is little information on Nelly Butler during her life, the evidence gathered from the time Nelly was alive suggests she was a kind woman. One interesting piece of information about Nelly when she was alive was given by her spirit when she explained that she had received an experience of spiritual salvation on her deathbed, possibly the reason she came back to Sullivan (“Testimony” 101). Nelly was legally named Eleanor Hooper, and born on 25 April 1776 (“Genealogical” 115). Her parents were David and Joanna Hooper, and she had eight siblings (115). Some time during 1795, Nelly married George Butler at the age of nineteen and lived on Butler’s Point in Franklin, Maine (115). While giving birth to their first child, Nelly tragically passed away on 13 June 1797, only to be followed shortly after by her baby (115). Although there are no headstones to confirm this, it is said that Nelly’s grave is located on Butler’s Point in Franklin, next to her child and husband (LiBrizzi 8).

Three years after Nelly had passed away, she still appeared to have business with the world of the living. The specter’s primary objective was to arrange the marriage of Georg...

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...tion was given by the spirit that was only conversed between her and another person at the time if her life. The spirit appeared and sounded like Nelly Butler as she did when she was alive and even allowed the witnesses to get as close as they wanted allowing them the opportunity to find evidence of foul play. Where the idea of fraud breaks down is when the apparition shapeshifts, there is no evidence strong enough to give a reasonable argument that it was something other than the spirit of Nelly Butler caused it to happen. The evidence given by George Butler has to be the strongest evidence available; he actually was able to put his hand through the apparition and conversed on a topic only he and Nelly discussed when she was alive. With all the evidence composed, a strong case has been built that the spirit haunting Sullivan really was the spirit of Nelly Butler.

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