The Ghost and Colonel Thorn

You can’t imagine how thrilled I was to find this ghost story about Colonel Thorn. Even if the journalist denounces its veracity, it’s quite a find! I love how this family saga has so many dimensions. It seems the Colonel loved having his big family all around him, and in latter years it was nothing to have 30 of them under one roof. They had a kind of Downton Abbey thing going, except there were more of them, including many children. He had up to 25 “downstairs” people working there as well.

SPOILING A STORY. Close Investigation Destroys the Narrative of a Haunted House. Special to the Indianapolis Journal. New York, Nov. 28.

—An entertaining ghost story is utterly spoiled by your correspondent’s investigation. The New York Hospital is situated chiefly in West Fifteenth street, where it has an imposing frontage erected a few years ago; but in the rear a Sixteenth-street house of greater age has been incorporated into the general structure. This portion is big in itself, and has a fine garden.

It used to be the residence of the wealthy Thorn family, and in those days was the inclosure of elaborate festivities. Forty years ago Colonel Thorn spent parts of several seasons in Paris, where his hospitality vied with that of Louis Philippe.

Two of his daughters married French noblemen and became ladies in waiting to the Empress Eugenie. Thus the Thorns were unexcelled (unparalleled) in social eminence among New Yorkers.

Only one of his fourteen children is now alive, however, and the other descendants bear other names. Their once palatial home is given up to hospital use.

A few days ago an account went from mouths to ears that the building was haunted —that o’ nights the dead and gone Thorns materialized in the gorgeous costumes of Louis Philippe’s time, and held high carnival in the old parlors—that the inmates of the hospital were witnesses of these goings on.

Persistent inquiry resolves the many spectators down to one, and he is out of his mind. His visions are real enough to his own thinking, however, and he sees the showy balls of forty years ago reproduced in all splendors and details.

This was accepted as proof that he really did enjoy supernatural advantages, for he described the people and their doings with what old listeners recognized as accuracy. But even this prop of superstitious credence is knocked out by the discovery that the mild maniac was once a servant in the Thorn family.

The more I research, the more I think I will write a fictional version of this family story!

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