Sunday, January 28, 2007

Huntington's "Venturesome Burglar"

In September 1887, the quiet town of Huntington, Long Island, located in Suffolk County, was visited by a most mysterious burglar:

Hmm, a lone individual who tries to enter houses, terrorizes people but doesn't seriously harm them, and is impervious to bullets...sound familar? For readers of Fortean literature, the name "Spring Heeled Jack" inevitably comes to mind. To quote Wikipedia:

"Spring Heeled Jack (also Springheel Jack, Spring-heel Jack, etc.) is a character from English folklore said to have existed during the Victorian Era and able to jump extraordinarily high. The first recorded claimed sighting of Spring Heeled Jack occurred in 1837. Later alleged sightings were reported from all over England, from London up to Sheffield and Liverpool, but they were especially prevalent in suburban London and later in the Midlands and Scotland."

Jack was sighted all over England from 1837 until the early 20th century, frightening people with his bizarre appearance and even more bizarre habit of breathing fire, once temporarily blinding a Lucy Scales by doing so, but always bounding off into the night when pursued by police or angry townspeople. Bullets proved to be useless against him, as indeed when shot Jack would just laugh and jump over a tall brick wall to make his escape. Theories then and now have ranged from a deranged nobleman having a sort of twisted fun over dressing up and terrorizing people, to an extraterrestrial stranded on Earth, to the whole thing being nothing more than a combination of cultural myth and mass hysteria. Indeed, it might be tempting to write Jack off as such if it weren't for the scattered sightings that have persisted in the century since the last accepted sighting of Spring Heeled Jack.

Reports of similar "Rooftop Madmen", while not achieving nearly as much fame as Spring Heeled Jack, still prove a perplexing challenge to Fortean researchers. Take, for example, the Phantom of O'Donnell Heights (quoted from Mike Dash's thorough investigation of SHJ and similar cases:

"A few decades later, a very similar panic infected some low-class housing projects in Baltimore. A tall, thin, cloaked but this time black-clad ‘phantom’ haunted O’Donnell Heights between July and August 1951, scaling roofs and scaring people10. When a reporter from the BaltimoreSun interviewed the locals, one boy asserted that the phantom ‘sure is an athlete... you should have seen him go over that fence – just like a cat.’ The fence, the reporter noted, was ‘about six feet tall and trimmed with barbed wire along the top’. Others said they had seen the terror leap onto rooftops 20 feet off the ground and hop down again, without leaving any mark upon the ground11."

There are more recent examples of such cases, but the point has been made - Could this "venturesome burglar" from 1887, who broke into homes only to spring away when discovered and who was invincible to bullets, have been one of Spring Heeled Jack's "cousins"?

For one last thought, consider this account of an entity from Argentina, taken from UFO Roundup's March 16th, 2005 edition:

'Generally speaking, it attacks dwellings in which no man is present or happens to be away for various reasons. It tries to break in through backyards and alleyways, knowing that only women and children happen to be present. Fortunately, it has been unable to break into homes because the doors are locked,' explained Ana, one of the women attacked by the Lobizon, to the Cordoba newspaper La Manana."
"The woman's eyewitness account coincides with others who are able to see through their windows. 'It's a young person, thin and tall. Its eyes are bloodshot, and it's clad in black--I suppose with the intention of frightening the familes of the homes it's trying to break into.'"

Monday, January 22, 2007


Welcome to the Fortean Historical Archive, a blog devoted to exploring historical accounts of unexplained phenomena and shedding light upon these strange events. This blog will cover events from all over the vast spectrum of Forteanea, with a primary focus on those that have occurred on Long Island and in New York State. With that said, let the blogging begin!