Mysterious Anniversary Hauntings

Warning: Image of Dead President Lincoln

What Is a Residual Haunting?

A residual haunting is the repeated playback of some past event. A cyclic haunting is where an event appears regularly almost to the day that the event first occurred. The event might be of some catastrophic happening or as mundane as seeing a strange woman hanging laundry in your backyard every Monday.

Also called a “place memory,” a residual haunting is the most commonly experienced type of haunting. Most people associate residual hauntings with a home, office, or a piece of land. However, many don’t know that hauntings that repeat can happen in the air and on the sea as well.

Anniversary Cyclic Hauntings

A cyclic haunting is a bit different as the event replays at specific intervals. Therefore, it’s considered a cyclic or an anniversary haunting.

Moreover, cyclic hauntings are not dangerous to the observers other than perhaps a case of mild shock and disbelief. I always say that there’s no reason to be scared unless there’s a reason to be. To me, cyclic hauntings are more like a story of something that needs to be told, or at best, not forgotten. So, how is it that these repeating apparitional events can occur predictably?

In his book, Ghosts and How to See Them, 1993, Peter Underwood provides a possible explanation for “anniversary ghosts” as the time it takes for energies to build up again. However, Underwood also points out that the climatic conditions, atmospheric pressure, and alterations in the magnetic field all play a part in periodic manifestations.

The following are some of the most commonly reported cyclic sightings.

The Palatine Fire Ship

The Dutch ship Palatine sailed from Amsterdam in 1752. On board were 300 immigrants sailing to America. Excited about their new life to come, the unfortunates had no idea that they were heading towards calamity.

Around Christmastime, and nearing their destination, the ship encountered a brutal storm just before reaching Block Island at the mouth of Long Island Sound. The Palatine although battered and sails broken, might have made it to its destination, but devious wreckers used false lights to lure the ship onto rocks. Upon rescuing the crew and passengers, the pirates then plundered the ship and set it on fire.

Rowing away, the pillagers heard screams and saw a woman frantically running along the burning deck. Blatantly, ignoring the woman’s pleas for help, they rowed to shore. But, the story didn’t end there.

The Fiery Palatine Is Seen Again

At Christmastime, the following year, the burning Palatine was seen again looking as real as the day the wreck happened. Not only that, the horrifying vision of the burning ship continued to occur yearly for decades after that. In 1869, an old man named Benjamin Corydon, having grown up in the area, testified to a newspaper that he’d witnessed the phantom vessel with sails ablaze and fire consuming the ship on nine occasions in his life.

According to legend, it was claimed that when the last of the wreckers involved in the incident died, sightings of the Palatine would cease. But they didn’t.
Incredibly, a reported sighting of the blazing ship happened exactly 100 hundred years later, in 1969. Since then, other reports of seeing this spectral sight have

additionally surfaced.

Tragic Abby Ghosts

When England’s Henry VIII desperately wanted to marry Anne Boleyn, he needed to get his divorce from Katherine of Aragon sanctioned by the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, the Church refused his request. This refusal ultimately caused Henry to break with the Catholic Church and he formed the Church of England. Henry then dissolved most Catholic monasteries and nunneries. Without remorse, he had the Church’s property confiscated and plundered anything of value.

Finally, Henry furthered his agenda by ordering all priests, monks and nuns rounded up. Those that resisted were dealt a gruesome death, the worst punishment, being hanged, drawn, and quartered.

Westminster Abby Monk

As a result, it’s thought phantom monks and nuns from that terrible time still roam the buildings and grounds of England’s decimated churches. In London’s Westminster Abbey, the phantom of a monk glides through the isles at night, scaring visitors. Frighteningly, in Yorkshire, a novice nun haunts Bolton Abby drifting silently across the church grounds.

St. Mary The Virgin Church, Bedford

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Initially built in 1350 in Bedford, St. Mary The Virgin Church, is considered one of England’s most haunted abandoned ruins. But, this church had been an oddity from the get-go. It faced in the ‘wrong direction.’ Churches of the time typically faced east, towards the rising sun and God. Many believed that the church facing away from God opened its doors to hell.

The rebuilt church fell into disuse, and in the 1840s, and was abandoned entirely. Frighteningly, over decades, strange sights have been reported near the church, from mysterious hooded monks to tall shadowy figures.

Even more alarming, the church’s history includes supposed satanic rituals practiced there in the 1960s. As if to verify this, bones were later uncovered arranged in satanic patterns. Ghost investigators, police, and documentary filmmakers claim that spectral phenomenon still occurs at the ruins.

Murdered Prioress Haunts Holy Trinity Church

Perhaps the saddest legend of the dissolution ghosts is the tale of the prioress of the Holy Trinity Church. True to her religion, she refused to let Henry’s marauding soldiers enter the convent. The soldiers annoyed, savagely attacked her, and as she lay dying, she swore to haunt the priory forever.

People who visit report seeing a robed hooded figure float through the air above the grounds. Interestingly, the phantom vision often repeats on Trinity Sunday, the first Sunday after Pentecost. Even more chillingly, are the stories of stones and other objects flying through the air, sometimes hitting and injuring observers.

Abraham Lincoln’s Ghost Train

Not long after American President Abraham Lincoln’s untimely assassination in 1865, the president’s body was soon placed on a steam locomotive train for transport back to the Lincolns’ home state of Illinois for burial. The special train, nine cars long, carried Lincoln’s body in the final and ninth car.

The train departed Washington, D.C. on April 27th. It was decided so that people could pay homage, the train would stop at 180 major cities along the way. Waiting to see their beloved president, hundreds if not thousands of people filed past the dead president’s coffin at almost every stop.

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Lincoln Ghost Train Legend

One of the first stops was Albany, New York, and for a number of years afterward, and around the anniversary of Lincoln’s final journey, railroad workers reported seeing the funeral train once again chugging by. Word got out about this spectral train, and on April 27th of each year, people flocked to the railroad line in hopes of seeing the ghost train carrying Abraham Lincoln’s body.

Allegedly, on the anniversary of the first funeral trip, the ghost steam engine still follows the route between Washington, D.C. and Springfield, Illinois.

And Albany wasn’t the only city where the eerie phantom train was witnessed. People along the train’s original route including the states of Indiana and Ohio, have reported seeing an eerie spectral train passing silently along the tracks–sometimes on an existing track and sometimes where railroad tracks were once situated. A personal favorite of mine are the stories of the locals’ clocks stropping as the train passes through.

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Skeleton Guards and a Funeral Coach

Here’s one modern eyewitness account of individuals seeing the ghost train:

It was late at night and very dark. I was stopped in my car near my hometown’s train depot. Being late, the area was deserted except for two railroad employees who stood on the train platform talking.

I was about to cross the tracks when the crossing guards dropped down. I then heard an odd train whistle. Within moments I saw an old-fashioned steam engine puffing smoke from its flared funnel. It was pulling several antique cars all draped in black crepe.

As it came closer, I noticed it moved in complete silence. A strange blue glow surrounded the train as it slowed and stopped at the depot platform. The whistle blew once more.

One train car that stopped directly in front of me was decked out even more ornately. I saw through its large windows a coffin. It dawned on me that this must be a funeral coach. It appeared as if honor guard of soldiers watched over the casket inside. When I looked closer, I was taken aback, for these soldiers appeared to be skeletons.

To the side of this car, a band of soldiers played slowly what I assumed was a dirge. They too were skeletons dressed in midnight blue uniforms. I realized that I heard no music.

I glanced over at the two men on the platform, they did not comprehend any better than I what we were seeing, for they stood very still as if in a trance.

I heard the train whistle once more, and the train moved on and disappeared into the dark night traveling westward.

My legs shaking, I got out of my car and walked to where the other two men stood. They seemed to be in shock. When I questioned them, they told me that no train was scheduled to travel through town that night. Later, I heard that all the clocks in town had stopped for exactly 20 minutes–the length of time the strange train had stayed at the depot.


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Ghost Planes

Spectral trains and ships aren’t the only kinds of cyclic apparitional events that are witnessed. Strange phantom planes in the air have also been reported.

Many in the area of the Derbyshire countryside in the UK claim to see a WWII vintage ghost plane flying around. It’s believed to be that of a Douglas Dakota aircraft flown by the RAF, was similar to the one that had crashed in the area in the 1940s. Many of those who’d resided in the area during the war recognized the plane.

More recently, a woman claimed that she spotted a silent propeller aircraft flying low towards her as she was taking a walk. Then it suddenly vanished before her eyes. And, she’s not the only person that has seen this strange apparition in the skies. Residents and tourists alike have reported seeing the enigmatic plane on numerous occasions since the war’s end.

Infamous Recurrent Haunts

  • A Royalist civil war soldier killed near Hitchin Priory in Hertfordshire makes his cavalier appearance every June 15th.
  • An older woman wearing 1700s clothing, and not a guide, appears every April 9th at the Orme House on the Isle of Wright.
  • A ragged-looking drummer boy is seen every February on Hickling Broad, Norfolk, England.
  • Also, in the county of Norfolk, it’s claimed that a phantom horse-drawn coach crashes into a bridge at Potter Heigham every May 31st.
  • Perhaps the most interesting recurring event is the three-masted schooner, The Lady Lovibond. This ill-fated ship supposedly appears in February every fifty years off the Kent coast, where she sank in 1748.

In conclusion:

People have long reported repeated ghost sightings of the mundane to catastrophic events. Moreover, many of these supernatural events occur at regular intervals like clockwork. Those who have witnessed these ghostly events adamantly swear that they indeed saw something otherworldly. However, it’s important to note that many of the recurrent hauntings mentioned above may have “run out of steam” and are not witnessed as often as they once were—if at all. Find out why in my book, Is It a Ghost or Swamp Lights, on this website.


Ghosts and How to See Them, Peter Underwood

Mysteries of the Unknown: Hauntings, Time Life Books

The Palatine Wreck: The Legend of the New England Ghost Ship, by Jill Farinelli

>Abraham Lincolns Ghost Train

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