Do You Believe in Ghosts?

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Ghost story reported in Sunday Times (Perth, Western Australia; 1902 – 1954), Sunday 19 July 1914 p.20, tells of a German, Herr Stolterfoht, travelling through Wiseman’s Ferry 1883.

“Stolterfoht on a ‘tour of the Hawkesbury’ arrived at Wiseman’s Ferry, and stayed at the little two-storeyed hotel. To his surprise, the landlord came forward, greeted him effusively, and led the way to the top storey. Here was provided for Stolterfoht’s accommodation of a parlour opening onto a bedroom with a balcony.

Statue of Solomon Wiseman outside his hotel
Statue of Solomon Wiseman outside his hotel

After dinner, a row on the Hawkesbury, a drink and a chat, Stolterfoht retired. After sleeping about three hours, he suddenly awoke with a feeling that there was someone or something in the room behind him. An icy cold shiver ran down his spine, and he actually feared at first to turn over in his bed to ascertain who the intruder (if any) might be. Eventually he screwed up his courage, and slowly turned over, when to his astonishment he saw between himself and the window figure of a man. The apparition did not move and was semi-transparent. The German lay for sometime in a great fright, but eventually plucking great courage he gathered up the bedclothes walked through the parlour onto the balcony, leaving the ghost in the apartment. After some considerable time the disturbed guest fell into a sleep on the balcony’s long chair, he was only awakened by the rising sun.

Thinking the matter over in the broad daylight, Stolterfoht felt very much ashamed of his cowardice and stupidity, and concluded it was only fancy.

Next day on the journey to Sydney, he was met a coach going with tourists for the Hawkesbury River, and both parties dined at the same table.

Opposite Stolterfoht at the table were a lady and gentleman, who were conversing. The lady was going, it appears, to the Hawkesbury, while the gentleman was bound elsewhere.

Presently Stolterfoht heard the gentleman say – “I presume you will stay at the Wisemans Ferry Hotel?”

“Yes,” responded the lady, “that is my intention.”

“Well,” continued the first speaker, “if you do, don’t take that end room on the top storey,” as “the ghost of old Wiseman always appears and prevents people from sleeping, and gives them the very deuce of a fright!”

This very much astonished Stolterfoht, and confirmed that he himself had really seen Wiseman’s ghost.”

Trevor Patrick is a local historian of the north-west of Sydney, Australia. His latest book, In Search of the Pennant Hills, recounts some of these stories (and others) in more detail.