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A peculiar haunting in Pittsburgh

Historic photo of Pittsburgh's South Side

In 1889 and 1890, several residents of Pittsburgh's Southside were frightened by the ghostly figures of a man and his dog who reguarly haunted an area near the Allegheny Riverfront Park. The following story appeared in the Pittsburgh Dispatch on April 19, 1890.

A number of people on the Southside are violently excited over the re-appearance of a gruesome apparition which startled many people during August and September of last year. As Mrs. G.M. Groetz, a well-known lady living on Chesham street, was proceeding to her residence by way of Carson and Twenty-third streets, at about 8:30 P.M. Wednesday, she was startled by the rushing past her of a male figure, very short and stout, and draped in a long cloak or overcoat. The strange thing about the figure was that it made no noise whatsoever, although walking in great haste. About a yard behind limped a small black dog, apparently of the terrier breed. The two proceeded in an exact diagonal across the waste patch between Twenty-third and Twenty-fourth streets, disappearing in the direction of the river.

A Sudden Disappearance

Mrs. Goetz became very faint and called for aid. John Ellis, an employe of Main's circus, and Albert Reizinhanger, rushed in pursuit of the figure and overtook man and dog on Twenty-third street near the river. The apparition crossed the railroad tracks and stood for a second on the river bank. Then man and dog disappeared, and no sign could be discovered of their whereabouts.

On Thursday evening as Ellis was attending to the circus horses on Twenty-fourth street, a little boy told him that the same man and dog were passing along Carson. Ellis leaped out on the sidewalk and saw the strange pair some 30 yards ahead. He gave chase, and soon overtook them. Attempting to touch the figure on the shoulder, he avers that his fingers encountered no substance there, and that the apparition did not even turn around. He was dumbfounded, and allowed the vision to pass.

Hit, But Not Hurt

Some of the small boys on the street now began to pelt the dog with stones, but though the animal was apparently hit several times, it neither quickened nor abated its steady pace. Once more the pair disappeared toward the river. When Ellis looked at his watch he found that the vision had appeared at exactly the same time as on the previous night.

Last night quite a crowd collected at Twenty-eighth street, attracted by the reports of ghosts. Surely enough, at 8:30 o'clock man and dog appeared, when an indescribable scene occurred. Women shrieked, strong men turned pale and attempted to retreat. Only two individuals were found plucky enough to accost the apparitions. These were Lieutenant Johnson and Mr. E.H. Devlin, of Allentown. The lieutenant put his arm before the figure, but to all appearances the mysterious thing walked clear through that sinewy member and passed noiselessly on its way. No attempt was made by any of the crowd to follow.

A very large concourse is expected at the spot to-night and a double force of police may have to be placed on duty. No one has as yet been able to discern the features of the mysterious unknown.

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