October is here, and soon it will be Halloween. Halloween celebrants may be interested to discover what can be found in historic newspapers, including tales of ghosts and hauntings. I stumbled across the following article (see image) yesterday about a haunting near Big Lake, better known as Lake of the Woods, near Bremen in Marshall County.
As a historian, I immediately wanted to know if there was primary source evidence of the person and event the paper referenced. I found Gottlieb Haslinger in the 1870 U.S. Census. He was born about 1826 in Württemberg, Germany. He immigrated to the United States in 1854. In the 1870 census, the census taker listed him as a hotel keeper with his brother, William.
Gottlieb Haslinger did in fact exist, but the paper was recounting events from two decades earlier. Was Haslinger really murdered, or was it local lore that started circulating? Then I found this article reporting his death in the January 7, 1875 issue of the Marshall County Republican. The article also recounts another mysterious death that occurred at the same place a year before.
Was the area really haunted or not? Does Haslinger’s ghost still roam the area? Only a team of ghost hunters could presume to answer the questions. As for historical researchers like me, it is interesting to find primary sources for a person and event that might just as well be dismissed as fanciful fiction and folklore concocted to drive newspaper sales.