Column: Trick or treat — Nobles County has fair share of ghost stories

Editor's note: Former longtime Daily Globe Editor Ray Crippen died Dec. 27, 2015. We will continue to publish previously run "Isn't That Something" columns on Saturdays, until further notice, as a tribute to Crippen and his knowledge of local and...

Editor’s note: Former longtime Daily Globe Editor Ray Crippen died Dec. 27, 2015. We will continue to publish previously run “Isn’t That Something” columns on Saturdays, until further notice, as a tribute to Crippen and his knowledge of local and regional history. The following column first appeared Oct. 28, 2006


WORTHINGTON - Ruth Hein has been ailing lately. Every Wednesday through many years Ruth wrote a column of local history for the Daily Globe.

In this new Halloween season, Ruth comes to mind for the books of ghost stories from Minnesota and Iowa that she has compiled. These are stories people carried in their heads through long years, stories never put in print before Ruth began collecting them, stories not found any other place. They are true folklore.

Nobles County’s most famous ghost story dates to the second year of Worthington’s history. John Weston, a Civil War veteran, had taken a homestead in Seward Township.


John Weston set out from his claim with a sled and a team of oxen on the morning of a fair winter day which turned foul and developed into the legendary blizzard of 1873. When the storm was ended, the oxen and the sled were found but Weston had disappeared.

Some while later, Cosper, a neighbor, came out of his stable and saw John Weston coming up the path from the creek. Weston had on the blue soldier overcoat which he usually wore. His hands were tucked under the cape and he approached Cosper with his usual smile and usual salutation, saying, “How goes it?” Cosper said, “Why Weston, I thought you were frozen to death!” Weston replied, “I am, and you will find my body a mile and a half northwest of Hersey!”

John Weston’s brother-in-law, in a ghostly apparition, came to John’s home that same night, after his wife and small son were in bed. The boy heard the voice and lifting up said, “Mother, did uncle say that Pa was frozen to death?” Mrs. Weston went to the door but there was no one there. No tracks could be found in the snow.

One and one-half miles northwest of Hersey - Brewster - was where they found the body of John Weston in the spring thaw, just as he had told Cosper.

Ann Meyers, a lifelong Nobles County resident, once told me a story she heard of the night a violent storm washed out a bridge over Adrian’s Kanaranzi Creek.

“Adrian had Dr. May at that time. He was a good old doctor. He was a crabby old guy, but he was a good doctor,” Mrs. Meyers said.

“Well, Dr. May got called out. He was going down the road in a horse and buggy.

“All of a sudden he saw - it looked like a man standing there, waving a lantern. He thought it was a man and still it didn’t really seem like a man. It was something shining and it looked like it was waving a lantern, trying to get Dr. May to turn.


“Well, he did turn. He went the other way. He didn’t want to get any closer.

“If he had gone ahead, he would have gone right over the edge where the bridge was out and he could have drowned.

“They always said a ghost saved Dr. May.”

I used to hear about the Upsies. I think this was more fairy tale than ghost story.

The Upsies were said to be tiny, tiny people. You might see a pair of Upsies walking along a window screen or a window pane, just as you might see a fly or a boxelder bug. The little people were called Upsies because you often would find them walking upside down, under the sash of a window, or under a kitchen shelf when you reached for a can of coffee to begin making breakfast.

Through all the time they were seen, no one was able even once to capture an Upsie. People would reach out and try gently to close a fist around an Upsie visitor. Nothing. As mysteriously as they would appear, Upsies would disappear. The only evidence of their presence was footprints. It was said if you looked closely at a pane of glass where the Upsies had walked, you could make out miniature footprints which looked like human footprints in the snow.

I never really believed there were Upsies in Nobles County. It seems a fanciful story.

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