The Punchbowl Ghost

Do you believe in ghosts? Apparently a lot of people in Hawaii did in the early 1900s. A few news stories about ghost sightings appeared in major Hawaii newspapers.

In 1908, the Pacific Commercial Advertiser reported the Pecaricks claiming strange phenomena at the Boyd house on Punchbowl Street. Stones flying around the room. A roast of beef bouncing on the kitchen floor. Pictures falling from the wall. Faucets and tin cups from the kitchen lying in the dining room.  A rock going through a closed window without breaking the glass. Knives and a corkscrew flying from the kitchen and getting stuck onto a table. A clock falling over two to three times. Stovewood coming into the house despite closed windows. A shoehorn flying from the bedroom through doors until it hit Mrs. Pecarick.

Mrs. Pecarick said one night she and Mr. Pecarick heard unusual noises. With a lantern, he went outside to investigate and reportedly saw firewood moving itself and making another pile.

Neighbors visited, and Mrs. Pecarick told them ghost stories. After she showed them the stones during a conversation, they reportedly flew and struck the neighbors. When they went outside, the benches toppled over.

When a PCA reporter went to the house, he saw a cake pan fly forward and strike the wall. He then sat in the living room for 30 minutes, waiting for more phenomena, but nothing else happened.

Later, the brass faucet in the kitchen reportedly slammed against a wall in another room. Esperanza said she was at the sink when something hit her on the side. To remedy the problem, the Pecaricks had two Roman Catholic priests bless the house, with no avail.

An old Hawaiian man said the house was built over a Hawaiian person’s grave. Supposedly, the spirit had returned, discovered items in the house he had never seen before, and was now happily causing destruction. Reportedly nervous looking, police officers investigated, with no avail.

When a reporter asked 13-year-old servant Esperanza Gonsales if she knew if a medium can make pictures move from wall to wall, she didn’t want to have her name in the newspaper, but inadvertantly gave her name anyways:

“No, I no see moving pictures, I don’t think I’m a medium. You want my name? No, no, I not tell you my name. If you put my name in the newspaper, when I walk down the street everybody point at me and say, ‘There go Esperanza Gonsalves.'”

Days after the PCA ran the story, hundreds of people flocked to the house, many willing to pay to get in. Some were Christian scientists, theosophists, psychists, and psychologists. The visitors trampled over the flower beds and peppered Esperanza with questions, and the police came to control the crowds. Mrs. Pecarick told visitors ghost stories. But nothing unusual happened in front of the visitors.

The Pecaricks attributed the phenomena to ghosts, with Esperanza as the medium. Most of the phenomena happened when the pretty “Spanish girl” was at the house and stopped when she left. Others thought Esperanza was just making trouble. Esperanza angrily told Mrs. Pecarick to stop telling people she, Esperanza, was the medium with no avail. People questioned and teased Esperanza for hours, and some called her a witch, leading her to cry for hours.

A few days after the first news coverage, Esperanza lost her job. Her family relied on her as the breadwinner, with her hospitalized father and her mother recovering from an illness. Fearing her daughter would not be able to find a job, Esperanza’s mother told the Evening Bulletin that Esperanza worked for other families, and they never reported any ghost problems.

Meanwhile, the Pecaricks changed their story and insisted the house, not the girl, caused the phenomena. Mrs. Pecaricks said, “Why the night before last she [slept] in this house, and all day yesterday she was here, and nothing happen. The house is the whole trouble.” They reported more phenomena and then moved out of the house.

The last tenants of the house said they did not encounter any supernatural phenomenon, with cockroches as the only issue. However, the Pecaricks accused them of lying and said the neighbors told them of the past phenomena.

Despite reporting the Punchbowl ghost story on their front pages, newspapers were skeptical. The Evening Bulletin notes a fallen picture with a string attached to it, suggesting that “a trick could easily have been played.” The newspaper also says that a stove-lifter that the spirit supposedly broke was actually broken due to its age and rust.

The Hawaiian Star says, “In the light of a day’s perspective the doings of Sunday at the Pecarick mansion on Punchbowl begin to appear more and more ‘fishy’ and there appears to be more and more improbability of any ‘true psychic phenomena.'” About Mrs. Pecarick’s claims of the ghosts, “… a wagon-load of salt should go with every statement.”

Articles from the Chronicling America

“Punchbowl Ghost Excites Wonder: Spiritualists Declares Girl Is Instrument of Spirit”
Evening bulletin., September 28, 1908, 3:30 EDITION, Page 4, Image 4

“Ghost Refuses to Do Things: Punchbowl Spook Laid, but House Was Jammed All Day”
“Real Ghosts Defies Priests, Reporters, and Detectives
The Hawaiian gazette., September 29, 1908, Pages 1 & 5, Images 1 & 5

“Girl in Danger: Persecuted by Curious Neighbors by Questions About Alleged Ghosts”
The Hawaiian star., September 29, 1908, SECOND EDITION, Image 1

“Girl No Medium: Pecaricks Now Say House Is Haunted–Work of Astral Hand”
The Hawaiian star., September 30, 1908, SECOND EDITION, Image 1

“House Is Haunted; Girl Is Innocent: Pecaricks Say So, Finding Ghosts Were There Formerly”
Evening bulletin., September 30, 1908, 3:30 EDITION, Image 1 & 2


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