A Historical Ghost Story

The San Francisco Call, Tuesday, January 4, 1910


– Stand By in Awe as Furniture of Mission Street House Begins to Dance –

With an evident desire to cut up fittingly on New Year’s eve, a healthy and energetick and adult spook of playful tendencies and obstreperous sense of humor injected himself into the festivities of the family of Max Barnett, a tailor at 2487 Mission street, last Friday afternoon and in the presence of two pale policemen, two popeyed detectives and several neighbors and friends proceeded to upset the furniture, open windows and generally prove itself a nuisance.

So impolite and ungentlemanly was the demeanor of the spirit that Detectives Burke and Gallagher were officially detailed on the case, but though they watched the spirit perform its tricks they have yet no clew (sic) on which to work.

Barnett, after seeking his furniture banged around promiscuously for two days, packed up his belongings and fled, hoping to put the spook off his trail. Contrary to all the rules and regulations of spookdom the wraith appeared in the afternoon. It did not wait for the witching hour. It started the fireworks in broad daylight and then, evidently talking a liking to Barnett’s furniture, hung around for a couple of days having a perfectly giddy time.


It floated in through a closed window about 3 p.m. Friday. Mrs. Barnett, with her two children, was downstairs and hearing a commotion upstairs proceeded to investigate, but when Mrs. Barnett saw a chair doing a cancan on the floor and a blanket trying a skirt dance without outside help, she decided it was time to call up her husband on the telephone.

“I reached the house about 3:30 p.m.,” said Barnett “and went to a rear room. There I found the furniture overturned, the beds unmade and everything in an awful mess.”

According to Barnett he, scouting the idea of spirits, proceeded to fix things up, but the pillows would insist on hopping to a chair, and finally a suitcase jumped upon the pillows. With a groan he turned for the door, and as he did so chairs were turned over, the bed clothes were ripped off and the bureau began a waltz. Also the bedding tried a twostep.

“My first act was to call the police,” he said. Policeman M. H. King and James Drennan responded and on their heels were Detectives Gallagher and Burke.

“Come out of that,” said four stern voices. The bed gave two hops and the pictures began dropping from the wall. With their own hands the policemen tidied up the room, but no sooner had they finished than the spook overturned the furniture. Then they wiped their brows and grew pale and popeyed. In the meantime the statue of Hiawatha took a stroll to the bathroom from the dining room, and a mattress in another bedroom started physical culture exercises.


“I am a skeptic.” Moaned Burke, “but what can a fellow do when he sees such things?”

Brett Pratt, a brother in law of Barnett’s, who was called in to take in the show, openly scoffed, but as he did so a bureau rolled over and hit him on the shin. Carl Schulz, a nephew, also was present, and another scoffer went through the front door like a chain of greased lightning when he saw Hiawatha taking his constitutional. The last act of the spook was to hurl a box over the banisters as the Barnetts were moving out Saturday afternoon.

There is a belief that the spook was the spirit of the old year moving out. “But why does it pick on me?” asked Barnett.

Published in: on October 26, 2011 at 6:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

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