Friday, May 28, 2010

The Facts Behind the Ghost Story

Christmas 2007

My mother put down her fork and leaned back; time and distance receding. She fixed her gaze on us and started to tell us the story as it had been told to her.


Grandpa Charlie sat straight up in the middle of the night and looked around. “Davey?”
He got out of bed.

Grandma Lizzie rolled over. “Charlie, what’s wrong?”

“I just heard Davey call my name.”

“Charlie honey, that‘s not possible. Davey's down south. Everybody's with him. Come back to bed.”

“I tell you, I just heard him call my name. He must be outside.”

Grandpa Charlie went outside and started to search the farm. Grandma Lizzie stood at the door in her nightgown and looked out. She was scared and worried. She had no idea of what was going on.

Grandpa Charlie finally came back to the house alone and perplexed.

“I can’t find him. It is strange. I heard him speak to me clear as a bell.”

Lizzie finally got him back to bed. Several days later they got word that the night Davey spoke to his brother-in-law was the night that he committed suicide by drowning himself in the Ohio river.”

In the Portsmouth Sun, July 4 1922

Man’s Body Found in River

David Darnell Victim of Tragedy: Brother Identifies Corpse at Lynn Morgue

David Darnell, father of five children, left home Saturday evening about 7 o’clock, telling his aged father, William Darnell, that he was going fishing.

Monday afternoon about two o’clock, his body was found by Vernon McQuillen, 205 Front street, floating in the Ohio River, about opposite the county infirmary.

The theory held by the family of the drowned man is that he committed suicide. He had been in ill health for the past seven or eight months, they say he had been forced to quit work. He was very nervous at times, inclined to be despondent.

Before leaving the house of his brother Oakley Darnell, 822 Prospect street where he had been visiting Saturday, Darnell gave his brother, all of his money, clothes, and asked if Oakley could wear his shirts. Before leaving home Darnell changed his clothes, putting on an old pair of overalls and an old black shirt and an old hat.

He had frequently talked to his family of disposing of his property, and had given one of his brothers the key to his safety deposit box in a Youngstown bank and to the rooming house he once lived there.

When he did not come home Saturday evening, the family became alarmed and conducted a search for him, but being unable to locate him, decided that he had either gone to look for work or had gone to visit some friends out of the city.

The first the family knew of his death was when his brother, James, after reading an account of a man found floating in the Ohio river called at the Sun Office and was directed to the Lynn morgue where the body was taken after being removed from the after.

He recognized the body of his brother and after bringing the other brothers to the morgue, the identification was made certain.

McQuillen, who found the body, said that he was returning from the Kentucky side of the river to his camp, which is located near where the body was found and noticed it floating in the water. He fastened his grab hook on the clothing and towed the body ashore notifying Coroner J. D. Hendrickson immediately.

The man’s body was badly swollen and disfigured, being bruised in places where it had been struck by floating debris.

The coroner rendered a verdict of death by drowning Monday evening.

Darnell is the father of five children; Valena, Charles, Alice, Margaret and Cella, who live with their mother on Eleventh street.

He had been working in Youngstown until about six months ago, when he was taken down with a nervous attack, and since that time had been unable to worked at his trade and at the time he left the home of his brother, it was thought he might be looking for work.

Darnell is survived by his wife and children, his aged father and mother, whose home is in Madison county and eight brothers and sisters; William and Charles of Pittsburgh; James, Louis and Oakley of this City; Mrs. Elizabeth Wood of Erwin, Ohio and Mrs. Charles Hersey of Newscomerstown, O.

He was a member in good standing at the Trinity M. E. church of Youngstown, O.

Darnell was born and raised in this county and was 41 years old. His place of birth was Miller’s Run. He had worked here until about four years ago, when he moved to Youngstown, finding employment in a steel mill there.

The aged parents, who happen to be visiting here at this time were, distracted over the news of their son’s untimely end, and the sympathy of many friends was being rendered them last night.

Arrangements are being made for the internment of the remains but these have not been completed at this time.

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