Predicting His Own Death: 1879

A Sharp Game by Creditors.

Among the many manias that have run for the past few years, prominently, stands the one of old men predicting their death. Some time ago, says the Little Rock Gazette, we published an article of an old man that lived out on the Mount Ida road. This man foretold the hour when he would die, and true to the prediction, he died. Men, during the past year, have died in every state in the same manner. This has been carried to such an extent that when a man says, ‘I am going to die at ten minutes past three next Monday,’ his relatives immediately begin to make arrangements for the funeral.

Several days ago an old man named Robertspear, living about ten miles from this city, called his family together and remarked; ‘Wife, children, next Monday at precisely one o’clock I am going to die. I would rather remain, but the summons has arrived,’ The first storms of grief were violent. The wife and children gathered themselves into each others’ arms and wept. The news soon spread around the neighborhood, and people came in to console the family. Bill collectors came in and the old gentleman promised to pay all his debts on the following Saturday at twelve o’clock. He continued to work on the farm, but was much depressed, and at night would pray loud prayers and sing sorrowful hymns. Sunday night the household, supplemented by friends who always take great delight in gloomy occasions, seemed to be a well organized camp-meeting.

The old gentleman for the first time expressed his willingness to go. Yesterday was his appointed time. At nine o’clock the old man dressed himself, took up his Bible and began reading. At ten o’clock he sang a hymn, and at eleven he bestowed blessings on his family. Shortly before twelve six men came in and presented bills, bills that had been ‘stood off’ from time to time. He paid every cent, ate a light dinner, and lay on his bed. The collectors stood around and waited. The hands on the clock indicated 12.50. A minister who had just arrived sang softly and spoke to the old gentleman consolingly. Five minutes to one. An affecting scene between the old man and his wife. The clock struck one.

The old gentleman groaned. One of the bill collectors burst out in a hearty laugh, ‘Here, old man,’ said another, ‘get out of the bed. We saw that you were not going to pay those bills, so we notified you of your death. I hid in the woods at night, and told you as you passed. Come, get out.’ The old man, so mad that he could hardly see, kicked off the sheet and got up. His wife remarked, ‘You fellows think you are mighty smart,’ and straightened the cover. The minister cast a look of reproach at the collectors, and, with a disappointed expression, went away. The old man is well.

The Catoctin Clarion [Mechanicstown MD] 18 September 1879: p. 1

Chris Woodyard is the author of The Victorian Book of the Dead, The Ghost Wore Black, The Headless Horror, The Face in the Window, and the 7-volume Haunted Ohio series. She is also the chronicler of the adventures of that amiable murderess Mrs Daffodil in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales. The books are available in paperback and for Kindle. Indexes and fact sheets for all of these books may be found by searching Join her on FB at Haunted Ohio by Chris Woodyard or The Victorian Book of the Dead and on Twitter @hauntedohiobook. And visit her newest blog The Victorian Book of the Dead.

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