A Haunting in Strathalbyn: Ghost in the Cemetery
A Statement from Mr W.T. Tregilgas about the sighting of a spirit in the stone slab of a grave in a Strathalbyn cemetery was first published in 1871, in the Southern Argus (newspaper) as “The Ghost Story; Or What Gave Rise to It”.
The alleged haunting caused a stir in the town, and became a national sensation as it was picked up and republished across Australia. This led to hundreds of people descending on the town trying to witness the ghost for themselves, and created a local urban legend that is still talked about even today!
The statement is as follows:
"Whilst taking a walk very early one morning, through some motive which I cannot account for, I was induced to walk through the burying ground, and coming to a grave surrounded by a wall, and covered with a slab of slate, I noticed on the slate something strange.
It was scarcely light enough to see distinctly at first, but after waiting for some few minutes I could see it plainly, and it appeared to be a side view of a female.
I could distinctly trace the head and body and the skirts, apparently full size. Not being satisfied with the sight I rubbed my hand on the form, and found that a portion of the slate was perfectly dry, whilst the parts outside the form were very wet with the dew which had fallen, and still not being satisfied I walked away, and came back in about fifteen or twenty minutes after, and still the form was there; so, I determined upon visiting it again next morning, which I did, and continued doing so for a week or more.
During this time only saw the form once after the first morning; but not being a believer in supernatural appearances I tried to define the cause, but failed. In the course of conversation, I told Mr. Morton what I had seen, and he visited the place, and saw the form, although not so plain as it was when I saw it.
The form was to be seen, and it has been seen since by others. Now, I believe there is some natural cause which produces this strange appearance, and perhaps some person upon reading this will be able to satisfy the minds of those who have seen it, for although many things have been advanced by people as to the probable cause, but none seem satisfactory to my mind, and those who have been eye-witnesses of the sight."
These are the facts of the case, and they differ widely from the report circulated.
By inserting the above explanation, you will greatly oblige me as well as others.
I am, sir, & c-,
W. T. TREGILGAS,
July 3rd, 1871.
Researched and written by Allen Tiller.
© 2018 Allen Tiller
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1871 'ANOTHER GHOST STORY.', Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 - 1875), 24 July, p. 3. , viewed 30 Dec 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60874405
1871 'TRUE GHOST STORIES.', The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954), 28 July, p. 4. , viewed 30 Dec 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8872154