Witnessing events as they happen isn’t that uncommon among psychics, be that witness of events in the past or in the future. Instances of witnessing events as they are happening, right NOW are far less common, and certainly weren’t a part of a West Virginia farmer’s daily routine; moreover, the event he witnessed was not only not routine, it had a devastating effect on the nation’s history. This story comes from Ruth Ann Musick’s 1965 collection The Telltale Lilac Bush and Other West Virginia Ghost Tales.
Mr. Robey, a farmer in the West Virginia hills, had had a bad day on April 14, 1865. His work hadn’t gone well; he had scolded his children and sent them all to bed in tears; and now, to beat it all, he was having trouble going to sleep himself.
His wife was used to him, though. She paid no mind to the hubbub as the children finally cried themselves to sleep and her husband, if he didn’t actually go to sleep, settled into a sullen stillness, and curled up in her chair in the corner of their room to do some mending in that brief precious quiet time before she got sleepy herself.
Her husband, though, suddenly sat bolt upright, his eyes popping out of his head, staring around their room as if he’d never seen it before. She waited a moment or two before she asked, “What’s wrong, dear?”
At first, all he could say, repetitively, was Oh my God! Oh my God oh my God. Finally, though, he looked at her and said hoarsely, “My God, Rose Ann–Abraham Lincoln has just been shot!”
“Now, Thomas–” she began.
“No,” he insisted. “It’s true. I was there, Rose Ann, I seen the whole thing! I seen crowds of people in seats and a stage with people on it and the President sittin’ up in a place up above the stage–and this man come up behind him and shot ‘im in the back of the head! He’s gonna die, Rose Ann. No man can live after a wound like that.”
“Now, now, Thomas,” Rose Ann said soothingly, as she might have comforted a fretful baby, “you were just dreamin’, that’s all. Lay down and go back to sleep, honey. You’ll feel better in the mornin’.”
Not so. Thomas got up and went over to their old mantel clock and stopped the hands, dead on the time he told Rose Ann what he’d seen in that odd vision. He also wrote down the date, scratching it into the clock’s thick varnish with a pin.
He did go to sleep, but it was a fitful one. And his sleep remained fitful until news arrived in the hills, two weeks later, that on the night of April 14, 1865, at the exact time Thomas had sat up in bed gasping in horror and calling on God, President Abraham Lincoln had been shot in the back of the head by the actor John Wilkes Booth. Lincoln lived about eight hours after the attack.
And, as far as is known, Thomas never again had such a vision. His family kept the old mantel clock for many years; they never set it going again, though, nor did they sand off that date, April 14, 1865.
In a 1989 book called True Tales of the Unknown: The Uninvited (edited by Sharon Jarvis) there is a very similar, and oddly troubling, story of a young girl who had not one but two such visions of assassination, one in November of 1963, the other in June of 1968. She witnessed the murders of the Kennedy brothers–the president, John F., and Democratic candidate Robert–with a twist, however–not as if she were present herself, but through the eyes of the killers–Lee Harvey Oswald and Sirhan Sirhan.
In that instance, the girl was spared one horror–she did not witness Oswald’s death, two days later, through his eyes as Jack Ruby walked up and shot him, in the presence of Dallas police. She witnessed that as others did–on live television.
PS The Vols have a by date this week. Next weekend, they’ll play Alabama at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville–so I’ll get a chance to do a story from home! 😉