18 December 1885
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

A FIERY TONGUE __________ The Latest Long Island Ghost Story Supposed th be the Phantom of a Murderer-- A Disturbed Spirit which Spits Fire Like a Foundry and Leaves a Wake of Sulphur Behind it.

If any community has more ghosts than Long Island, the fact has not been recorded. After a rest of five years, a specter with a tongue of fire has reappeared on the old Centerville race course, just south of Woodhaven, and men and women congregate every night to witness the strange sight. His ghostship appears promptly at a quarter to ten and departs at twelve minutes after eleven. There is a good deal of speculation as to whose ghost it is. Two murders on the race track form bloody chapters in its history, and the public opinion argues that this spectral vistor is the troubled ghost of the murderer of one or the other of the slain. It it also believed that when the ghost was in the flesh its avocation was that of a horse jockey, and, as the man last murdered on the race course was thought to be killed by a rival jockey, some persons who lived in the neighborhood at the time think they can solve the mystery in whichthe crime remained shrouded. The ghost is first visible in the vicinity of the stables of the old Centreville Hotel. (Transcribers note: The Centreville Course appears to have been located south of Rockaway Boulevard and east of Cross Bay Boulevard in Ozone Park.) It is recalled that the rival jockeys quartered their stock in adjacent stables of the property. From the stable the specter proceeds by the highway to the southward to a point where a hotel formerly stood in front of the entrance to the racetrack. Here it halts for some minutes, just as the jockeys used to do, for they always took a drink before exercising. There is a dispute whether the ghost wears a robe of white or a garment more the color of sheep's wool. But on one other point there is no disagreement--the ghost spits fire like a foundry chimney and leaves a sulphurous odor behind it. On this fact is based a most animated discussion as to whether the origin of the ghost, is in bliss or a state of torment. The majority hold the latter theory, and a few think it may be a spirit sent to earth to do pennance. The ghost never touches terra firma. It moves along through space like a feather in the wind, going a zigzag course. At regular intervals it spits fire. Scores of persons have followed in its wake without getting close enough for personal contact, and all declare that when the ghost comes to a stop, it invariably says "Whoa!" From the drinking place the spirit moves in on the race course apparently waiting for the word to dart away from where the wire used to be, going round the mile track at so a terriffic gait that some persons argue it must be the ghost of Flora Temple or Lady Suffolk. But those who hold to the theory that it is the ghost of one of the departed jockeys affirm that they can distinctly hear the ballooing and whistling of the whip so familiar to old track habitues. After every heat comes the scoring exercise, and three heats are invariably run. After this the ghost waltzes out into the highwaym stops again at the old familiar barroom, then goes zigzaging along to the stable, into which it disappears seemingly, but there are those who claim the ghost passes on to the Bay Side Cemetery and into it's grove. The keeper at this burial place laughs at the credulty of the people. No body is ever buried there near enough to the surface to enable a ghost to rise up, the keeper says, but he has a suspicion that at some time, near or remote, some person has been murdered and buried in the old stable. He thinks it is the spirit of some woman who takes to the race track in pursuit of her slayer. Some of the Catholic residents who believe firmly in ghosts and they declare that they often conversed with spirits in Ireland, are quite alarmed at this apparition because it is no particular like the friendly Irish ghosts. Nearly fifty persons watched the fiery tongued visitor for more than an hour last night. Transcribers Note: According to the Greater Astoria Historical Society TIMELINE: February 1871 The Centerville Race Track, southeast of the intersection of Woodhaven and Rockaway Blvds. is sold to the New York and Hempstead Railroad for $40,000. The railroad is not interested in racing horses, but wants the property for a right-of-way. Between the 1830s and 1850s, ads for spring and fall meets at the track list all the famous horses from that era. Centerville was an important element of the nation's horse racing industry whose hub was on the Hempstead Plains during the Nineteenth Century. Back to GHOSTS Main Back to CEMETERY INDEX Back to BROOKLYN Page Main