The word of the week this week is ‘Frightening’. That’s appropriate with Halloween falling this week! It’s also timely, because just this past week I was going through boxes of heirloom photos and documents that I’ve had stored for a decade or more, and came across this invitation that I’d never seen before.
This invitation to a Ghost Party certainly looks spooky with the skull and cross bones, and I like the drama of the black background with silver engraving. But what exactly is a ghost party? I did a search of NewspaperArchive.com to get some context. A 1902 article, ten years after the party above, from the San Pete Free Press, Manti, UT tells of the new fad of ghost parties, in which the room is darkened, candles lit, and ghost stories told. You can find the story here.
A second article a few years later, 1905, gives more details about a ghost party, Not only is candlelight part of the atmosphere, but the room is draped in black and decorated with creeping things like spiders and skulls! There are some ‘horror house’ touches; the hostess greets guests with a handshake, during which her ‘hand’ become detached (a glove filled with sand)! And of course, the guests take turns telling ghost stories! This article appeared in the Fort Wayne (IN) Gazette, in the same state where Ella Herrold, hostess of the ghost party in the invitation pictured above. I have to wonder if these parties may have evolved into the seances hosted by mediums that were so popular a decade or two later. You can find the story here.
Ella Herrold, the hostess of the 1892 party, was born circa 1871 in Indiana, probaby in LaPorte County near Michigan City. She married Julian Frank Hixon 3 Sep1893, just little over a year after the ghost party took place, so it’s very possible he was one of the ‘ghosts’ in attendance. They raised their three children in Michigan City. Here is a picture of Ella and Frank sometime after their marriage.
To learn more about my 52 Ancestors in 2018 project, read my introductory blog post.
I have been researching my family history for almost 20 years. Some of the main surnames in my research include DEBEE, FRERICHS, HAHNENKAMP, HIXON, HOLTON, JANCO, KOLK, PETRINI, POYNTER, STRIEBEL and WEISS. Contact me if you think you are related!
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