1. Stambovsky v. Ackley, 169 A.D. 2d 254, 256 (1991). I thank Stephan Palmié for bringing this case to my attention. In Wizards and Scientists: Explorations in Afro-Cuban Modernity and Tradition (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002), Palmié exhumes the haunts of modernity. This visitation of “pasts,” once invoked, not only disrupts illusions of normalcy and the pretences of social life, but also invokes another kind of knowledge —one that transforms the meaning of history as it stakes out the brutal plot of politics as usual.
After Rubin’s decision, the parties settled out of court. Stambovsky paid Ackley $5,000, and she withdrew the contract. (Personal communication with Israel Rubin, May 22, 2009.) Stambovsky made headlines around the world, and once the house was returned to the market, numerous potential buyers called. It sold a few months later for $20,000 less than the original asking price of $650,000. See Helen Herdman Ackley, “Our Haunted House on the Hudson,” Reader’s Digest, May 1977, 217–24. After the case, once Helen Ackley had moved to Oregon, the medium Glenn Johnson had some thirty conversations with the two ghosts—Sir George and his housekeeper Margaret—and interviewed Ackley, as well as her ghosts, publishing the results in Bill Merrill and Glenn Johnson, Sir George: The Ghost of Nyack (Beaverton, OR: Deer, 1995), 5. For other comments and reactions to the case, see Haunted America Tours, http:// hauntedamericatours.com/hauntedhouses/disclose; and The Kavanagh Home Page, “The Ghost of Nyack,” authored by a person who claims to be married to someone who lived in the house, at http://home.comcast.net/ ~subwaymark/Ghost/ghost-court.htm; Linda Zimmermann, Ghost Investigator, vol. 1, Hauntings of the Hudson Valley (New York: Lightning Source, 2003); and the New York Times articles once the house was back on the market: James Barron, “Phones Ringing (Eerily?) for Nyack Spook Home,” March 20, 1990, B2, and “Let Buyer Beware? Indeed!” July 19, 1991, B3.
2. Stambovsky, 257, 256, 260.
3. J. H. Baker, An Introduction to English Legal History, 2nd ed. (London: Butterworths, 1979), 89.