ORANGE, N.J., Sept. 22. – Prayers will be said to-morrow morning in the Church of St. Michael the Archangel, in Matthews Street, this city, to lay a ghost which is driving the Italian residents of White Street, West Orange, into superstitious frenzy.
Ghostly rappings, hand-clappings, and other supernatural demonstrations have been heard and experienced since Monday [September 19] in the store and rooms occupied by Frank Petro and family, who keep a grocery store in one end of a big frame tenement house just across the Orange line. It was in this house that Peter Christiano was stabbed by Lorenzo Corbo, an old organ grinder, at a New Year’s Eve party eight months ago. The neighbors assert that the ghostly demonstrations are caused by the restless spirit of the murdered man.
Father d’Aquilla, pastor of the Church of St. Michael, was called in last night. He prayed and sprinkled holy water in the rooms where the noises were heard. While he was in the house there were no demonstrations, but as soon as he had left, the family and neighbors aver, the noises were recommenced with redoubled frequency and violence.
Petro, who is a big, hearty man of intelligent appearance, says he does not believe in ghosts, but does not know what else to think. At midnight last night, he declares, he heard a noise as if the front doors of his store, which were fastened with a heavy bar set in staples, had been thrown wide open and the bar flung to the floor. He tried to get out of bed to investigate, but was held down by some invisible power, which pressed upon his chest and made it impossible for him to move. The “presence” remained for an hour, he says. The store doors were locked as usual this morning, but a box of macaroni, which had been placed upon a top shelf, stood on the floor in the middle of the room, with a handful of long straws lying across the top in the form of a cross.
A TIMES correspondent heard the noises to-night and made a thorough investigation of the rooms and cellar without ascertaining their cause. Samuel Christiano, a brother of the murdered man, who keeps a saloon on the next block, is convinced that the “presence” is that of his brother’s spirit. He says he went last night into the room where most of the noises are heard and begged the spirit to make itself visible. It did not, but as he rose from his knees after praying [he heard] three unusually loud knocks [which] sounded just under the place where he was standing.
Petro and his family say they have not slept for three nights. They went out to stay with friends to-night, and intend to move out of the house to-morrow. Tenants in the other end of the house have heard nothing of the noises.