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A strange and unusual ghost story by Tom Slemen


Charles Coghlan was born on Prince Edward Island, off the east coast of Canada in 1841. He came from a poor Irish family, and when Coghlan was ready for school, the neighbors donated funds to send the child to England. Coghlan did well at school and later went through college and graduated with honours. He then infuriated his father by declaring he intended to become an actor.

Charles Coghlan's father was outraged at the idea, and told his son that if he did not give up his theatrical ambitions, he would be banned from the homestead. Charles said that in that case, he would be leaving home for good, and promised that he would never return to Prince Edward Island again.

Charles embarked on a glittering, successful stage career, often playing himself as a sharp-tongued, handsome character which went down well with audiences everywhere.

One day, Coghlan visited a gypsy fortune teller, and she told the young man something that made a deep impression on him. She said, "Charles, you will be very famous, but you will die at the height of your fame. Your soul will then have no rest until you have returned to the place of your birth."

Charles was really disturbed and impressed by the prediction, and often repeated it to his friends in conversation, but they all said it was baloney.

Charles Coghlan

In 1898, while Charles Coghlan was playing Hamlet in Galveston, Texas, he died onstage. He literally just dropped down dead. At the time, Coghlan was getting rave reviews from the theatrical critics, and was truly at the height of his fame.

During the following week, Coghlan was buried in Galveston cemetery. Two years later, a tremendous violent hurricane swept over Galveston. It killed 6000 people and washed away the sandy cemetery where Coghlan had been buried. On the following morning, the authorities saw that several coffins had been swept out of their graves into the sea. One of these coffins contained the mortal remains of Charles Coghlan. When the Coghlan family were informed about the tragedy, they offered a huge reward to anyone who could find the coffin of Charles Coghlan, but no one came forward in the years that followed.

In October 1908, eight years and one month after the Galveston hurricane, several fishermen on Prince Edward Island found a huge burial casket coated with barnacles floating to the shore of the island. According to the silver plate on the casket, it was the long-lost coffin of Charles Coghlan. The coffin had made a journey of several thousand miles from the Galveston cemetery to reach the birthplace of Charles Coghlan, just as the gypsy had foretold it would ten years before. It is one of the strangest true stories on record.



This story reproduced with permission from Tom Slemen

© Copyright 2004 by Tom Slemen. All Rights Reserved.

Last modification: November 24, 2007


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