"Ghost Hunters" Gather to Catch the Davey Ghoul
Updated: Jul 14
During the winter months of 1890, a ghost was seen on a nightly basis over the course of five weeks wandering around a location about two and a half miles north of Davey, Nebraska. Groups of “ghost hunters” banned together in an attempt to rid the community of the looming presence said to wreak havoc amongst the residents of the small town. Several individuals reported seeing the ghostly apparition and a newspaper reporter visited the area to expose the terrifying tale to the rest of the state of Nebraska.
On the night of January 10, several men congregated at the site where the apparition was last seen. During the first investigation, they saw nothing and decided to try again the next night with a new arrangement. On the second night, all the men split up into several groups to scatter across the area because they believed their first attempt as a larger group had frightened the ghost. During the second investigation, they decided to provide a signal when they were ready to meet at a predetermined place. After hunting on their own for quite some time, the signal was called and everyone met up. After completing a roll call, they realized a man named Jim was missing. After searching the area, they found Jim had “quickly disposed of all his personal effects and departed for Iowa.” Upon later finding Jim, he explained he had in fact seen the ghost and had received such a fright that he planned to leave the state. According to Jim, he saw the ghost of someone that did not resemble anyone he personally knew. As he lay on the ground, he felt a puff of wind in his right ear. At first, he ignored the feeling and settled back down until he felt the same gust of air again. However, this time the blowing into his ear felt as if it had come from someone right next to him. He quickly turned to face the trickster to find the ghost of a man directly behind him. He started to run but realized that he could not move. The ghost was “pointing a fiery finger at him and it seemingly drew him closer.” Powerless and paralyzed, Jim stared at the ghost who said, “Why do you lead such a life?” Then the signal was called out causing the apparition to quickly and quietly disappear. As a result of the incident, Jim vowed to never hunt for ghosts again.
The ghost hunting efforts put on by the locals eventually led to the accidental killing of a calf. Frightened by a cry, a hunter shot toward the sound, killing the calf. Three more posses were organized over the course of a few days to hunt down the ghost and kill it. All attempts were proven fruitless.
Around January 21, a farmer named Nathanial Berry came to town to tell of a haunting occurrence that took place on his farm the night before. Berry stated that his threshing machine, stored in his shed near the back of his house, began humming around eleven o’clock. Too afraid to check, the machine continued to run until morning. Mrs. Berry claimed to have seen a previous farmhand named Mr. Cook near the shed early in the evening before the incident. Mr. Cook had worked for the Berry family during the previous threshing season and had a shared ownership interest in the machine up until his death five weeks prior. After the Berry’s, who were viewed as reputable people among the locals, shared their tale others in town claimed to have witnessed seeing the ghost of Mr. Cook on their way home after dark.
An Engineer named Nelson reported seeing the ghost of Jack Burns, a brakeman who was killed in the Davey stockyards two years prior. While driving passenger train No. 43 southbound, Nelson saw a ghostly figure with an “uplifted hand and pointing finger” standing in the light of the approaching engine. The figure was described to have “sparks flying from the end of its finger and its eyes resembling two balls of fire.” After the story spread, several people from the community doubted the ghost to be anyone other than Mr. Cook.
Another man named Dr. Krickbaum reported seeing the apparition of Mr. Cook on the bridge near P.O. Donnell’s residence. When he saw the apparition, Dr. Krickbaum demanded him to stop, to which he surprisingly complied. Upon stopping, the ghost of Mr. Cook said, “You are censured for killing me, but you did all you could; I was called on to die and am back here again and will make the folks suffer who dealt with me so unjustly while I lived here.”
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