Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Sentinel-20 December 1896
Ghost of Stump Lake
Deerfield, Wis., Dec. 19. – A ghost story told by Widow Olson of Stump lake is more difficult of solution than any yet published. Mrs. Olson and her 14-year-old son were living on the south shore of Stump lake, which, before the mill dam at the lower end was washed out, was about three miles long by one mile wide except at about midway from end to end where it narrowed down to a neck only about a half mile across. It was on the south side of this neck that Widow Olson lived. One day a boy came up and asked the way to a farmer living on the opposite shore of the lake. The widow directed him the way by land, but as this was about three miles, suggested that her son might take him across in his boat and save him a long walk. The stranger accepted and the two started for the landing.
Young Olson took his position at the oars and invited the stranger to a seat at the stern. The strange boy took the seat as indicated but instead of facing the oarsman turned his back to him and sat motionless without uttering a word all the way across. Young Olson made some commonplace remarks but his passenger took no notice of them. His strange behavior made Olson observe him more closely and the more he looked at him the more did he appear unlike a human. His attention was first attracted by the stranger’s ears, which were abnormally large, reaching almost to the top of his head, where they came to nearly a point or sharp angle and were covered with a fine downy hair.
His head was small and angular, something like that of a dog and covered with short, black curly hair that hugged the skin tightly. The hands were small, shriveled and covered with hair similar to that on his ears. Young Olson was now becoming almost frightened out of his wits at being alone in the boat with such an unearthly looking being and rowed with all his might. On arriving at the opposite landing he got out of the boat hastily to let out his uncongenial passenger. The stranger arose to leave the boat, but instead of facing about to walk out, he backed out and carefully kept his face from view. Olson, who was now thoroughly frightened, rowed back quickly and ran for the house to tell his mother of his strange passenger.
As he was telling his mother, she turned around to look at her boy to see if he were joking or was in earnest. As she looked around she saw the very same lad her son had rowed across running up a little hill close to the house quick as a flash chasing her sheep ahead of him. Mother and son both made after him, but on arriving at the crest of the hill no body was to be seen while the sheep stood down the slope a little way huddled together looking frightened as if recently chased by a wolf or dog. There was nothing within eighty rods that the stranger could have hid behind.
Why they did not notice his strange appearance before starting in the boat, how he got back so quickly and where he disappeared to was more than the frightened widow and son have been able to account for and they firmly believe there are still a few left of the old-time elf family.
Reproduced by kind permission of The Harbinger
An "Unearthly Thing," Wisconsin 1896 from The Harbinger
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