“It was not long after that when towels were mysteriously removed from the bathroom and left in fantastic shapes in various parts of the house. Whenever all the occupants left the house, things were sure to be turned topsyturvy. Clocks stopped, trunks were unlocked, furniture displaced, but there was never any evidence that these things had been done for the purpose of plunder.”The New York Herald, August 27th, 1908.
The Ghost of Grand View Arrives
Something strange was happening in the Blauvelt house in the summer of 1908. It began when Mrs. Blauvelt came home to find what appeared to her to be an elderly man sitting on her sofa in the sitting room. She spoke to him and as she approached he all but “seemed to dissolve and float away.” Not seeing the man again, she informed her husband, who laughed and dismissed her. Shortly after her butler, Cornelius Radcliff, exclaimed to have seen a man walk through the hall and into a bathroom, but then no one was there. When he described the man, Mrs. Blauvelt immediately knew it was the figure from her sitting room.
The Ghost gets Unruly
Then the clocks began to stop. Items from rooms would be tossed about. Lights would turn on and off, flickering with no one around to press the switch. Faucets would be found running, and doors would open, and slam. The appearance of the man in the sitting room seemed to beget the trappings of a poltergeist.
Mrs. Blauvelt and her butler were kept in a semi-state of terror, never knowing what they’d find, see, or return to. One evening of lights dancing wildly on and off almost sent the Mrs. into a dead faint.
With her husband not believing her and at her wits end, Mrs. Blauvelt took it upon herself to describe the specter to her neighbors at a loss at what to do and how to bring peace back to her home.
“…[T]hey asked her to describe the form that she saw. She did so. She told of the stooping form, the deep eyes, the beard, and as she proceeded several of the neighbors held up their hands and exclaimed. Why, you are describing Uncle John Collins!'”Rockland County Journal, Saturday, August 29th, 1908.
But just who was John Collins? According to those wise elderly neighbors, he was the original builder and occupant of Blauvelt’s beautiful home and had spent many years living there, known to the community as a kindly and respectable man. He had died there of natural causes many years ago. Hearing this, no one could devise a reply as to why Uncle John Collins had returned to his home and was causing such a disturbance despite his peaceful living ways.
Interviewed by the New York Herald, Mr. Blauvelt had very strong opinions on the ghost in his house, which he had not seen, heard, or felt:
“The only ghost I believe in,” said he ‘is the kind with blood and muscle, and the best remedy for such ghost is this”—and he drew a long-barrelled revolver from his pocket and poised it to the air.”
Mrs. Blauvelt felt differently:
“I have never believed in the supernatural…but the things that have transpired here are beyond my power of explanation. The form I saw sitting on the couch was as distinct as the outlines of that table or that chair and there was no chance for illusion or shadows. Had it been at night, I might have been deceived, but this thing happened in the bright daylight.”