Yet in a century seemingly built on reason there arose a profound interest in the supernatural. Even a new technology was coupled with the public's interest in ghosts as "spirit photographs," clever fakes created by using double exposures, became popular novelty items.
Perhaps the 19th century fascination with the otherworldly was a way to hold on to a superstitious past. Or perhaps some really weird things were actually happening and people simply recorded them accurately.
The 1800s spawned countless tales of ghosts and spirits and spooky events. Some of them, like legends of silent ghost trains gliding past startled witnesses on dark nights, were so common that it's impossible to pinpoint where or when the stories began. And it seems that every place on earth has some version of a 19th century ghost story.
What follows are some examples of spooky, scary, or weird events from the 1800s which became legendary. There's a malicious spirit that terrorized a Tennessee family, a newly elected president who got a great fright, a headless railroader, and a First Lady obsessed with ghosts.