Posted by: Loren Coleman on January 27th, 2009
An archival case today gives a cautionary tale lesson in researching old material.
Jerry Clark passes the following along:
Monroe Evening Times, Monroe, Wisconsin. April 13, 1895
A Phantom Hog Surprises a Crowd of Scandinavian Dancers.
At a Scandinavian dance held near Northwood, Minn., there appeared an apparition. Along about midnight, while everyone was on the floor and the ball was in full blast, a young man opened a door leading outdoors. To the utter amazement of everyone in walked a large hog. It shuffled to the center of the room and stopped, its steps upon the floor giving no sound. Attempts to drive out the swine proved futile; it seemed to give no heed to these efforts. Finally one fellow, more brave than the rest, endeavored to pick up the animal and carry it out. He was about as successful as one would be trying to carry off a shadow. When he placed his arm around the pig[,] he merely grasped an armful of air; there was no substance to the strange visitor. Several men then came forward and tried to remove the pig, but without immediate success. Finally one fellow succeeded in removing the figure from the floor and carrying it to the door, but the moment he let it down the hog ambled noiselessly back to the middle of the room. The dance then broke up, and the strange swine was left in possession of the premises. The dancers and many of the Scandinavians believe it an ill omen, and that the hog was the devil in one of his many forms.
Doing a little investigating can reveal all kinds of interesting facts. So “what” was this “thing” and exactly “where” was the sighting?
Of course, the “what” seems hard to tell, especially if the “where” turns out to be critically significant.
Let’s see what I mean.
The above inicident causes Jerry Clark to write:
I can find no evidence of a Northwood, Minnesota, of which I — a Minnesotan most of my life — have never heard. That doesn’t necessarily mean one never existed, but it if it did, it was obscure, and it’s long gone. Possibly, the reference is to Norwood, through which I’ve passed many times while driving to the Twin Cities, in the east-central part of the state. In any event, skepticism seems called for, obviously.
I then did a bit more digging, and shared this:
Might I suggest Northwood, a city in Grand Forks County, North Dakota in the United States, in the first county over from Minnesota. Writing from Wisconsin, [perhaps] the newspaper reporter might not know the difference?
Northwood, Minnesota, was founded in 1884, and named after the community of Northwood, Iowa, by the Johnson family.
The area is farmland, and the names of some of the founding settlers are Paul C. Johnson, Ole Syverson, Thomas O. Hougen, and J. O. Quamme (his daughter’s name was Olava). In 1893, O. G. Hanson was hired as the first city Marshall. In 1910, the New Lutheran Old People’s Home was built (as many of the early Scandinavian settlers were growing old).
The town’s only three churches today [apparently] are the Northwood Evangelical Lutheran Church, Ebenezer Lutheran Church, and the Community Bible Church.
Intriguingly, the Ebenezer Lutheran Church was given birth as a result of a spiritual revival over 100 years ago. As the town’s website says, “With souls gloriously saved and hearts set ablaze by the Holy Spirit, these ‘believers’ established a new Lutheran Church, calling themselves ‘Ebenezer”. Taken from 2 Samuel 7:12, Ebenezer means ‘stone of help’. Since 1898 this congregation has found God to be a stone of help, and have sought to be an Ebenezer to the world in which we live, chiefly by proclaiming in thought, word and deed the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
As many of you many know, the Protestant reformation in the 1520s had a long-term impact in Sweden. The Lutheran-orientation of the The Church of Sweden has made it is the largest church in Sweden.
The Lutheran church is strong throughout Scandinavia.
I think the subheadline of the story gives an important clue: “A Phantom Hog Surprises a Crowd of Scandinavian Dancers.”
I bet this happened in Northwood, ND, not the non-existent Northwood, MN!
I’d say a belief system existed there that might support seeing [and explaining] a “phantom hog” as “the devil in one of his many forms.”
So, the setting of the case may have much to do with the “what” that was seen.