Book details odd Cortland stories

Two local tales among author’s collection of newspapers stories from 1860-1910


By Aimee Milks, Staff Reporter


11/20/07 - Cortland Standard

Century-old newspaper stories of a Cortland man buried alive for 24 hours and a haunted Cortland home appear in a new book that compiles a series of strange newspaper accounts from 1860 to 1910.

Wisconsin native Chad Lewis released “Hidden Headlines of New York: Strange, Unusual and Bizarre Newspaper Stories 1860-1910” in early October.

“Digging up the original articles took about a year and a half,” Lewis said.

Lewis has been researching paranormal cases for more than 14 years and began to write about them in the last six years. He holds a master’s degree in psychology.

“I was researching UFO cases in my hometown (Eau Claire) when I started running across weird and unusual stories, a lot of them from New York,” he said. “I couldn’t believe the amount and weirdness of them. I looked through 50 to 60 different newspapers.”

Ninety percent of the book, which is one of three he has written on strange newspaper articles, includes articles from New-York-based newspapers. Lewis said the other 10 percent comes from newspapers from across the nation.

The two Cortland stories were printed in the Syracuse Post Standard.

The first, on Oct. 20, 1899, reported a Cortland man being buried alive for 24 hours after being hypnotized and placed in casket 6 feet in the earth.

In 1906, the same newspaper wrote about an unspecified Cortland residence, reportedly haunted. The article states after the disappearance of an Italian laborer, townspeople heard unearthly noises including moans and the sound of dripping blood, and saw flashing lights in the windows.

County historian Mary Ann Kane said she has never heard of these stories concerning Cortland, but said the story of the haunted house isn’t surprising.
“It doesn’t surprise me because there are innumerable homes in Cortland that are supposed to be haunted,” Kane said. 

Of over 200 articles in the book, “Sounds Of Death Struggle Heard In Haunted House” is one of Lewis’ favorite articles.

Lewis said he found the articles by looking in libraries on microfilms and through online resources.

The book reprinted each article and photo if it had one, and also has information about what the place would have been like in the time the article was written.

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