Stones Fly in San Jose

Social isolation in Sydney isn’t so bad. It’s given the Cropster a chance to dive even deeper into the digital archives for old poltergeist cases, like this absolute cracker from San Jose, California in 1876.

The original report appeared in the Sacramento Bee on 24 April.


Mysterious Performance. A house pelted with Rocks by Unseen Hands. Demolition of Windows and Shutters and the Devil to Pay Generally.

The residence of Patrick W. Reardon on Fourth street, near the corner of St. John, has been the target of certain malign influences during the past few weeks, of such a strange and unaccountable character as to awaken the gravest apprehensions in the minds of the occupants regarding the cause thereof and ultimate intentions of the powers – human or inhuman – that control them.

San Jose in the early 1900s.

To begin at the beginning, in order that the public may be put in possession of all the facts that surround these inexplicable manifestations, we will state that some three months ago Mr Reardon resided at the corner of Santa Clara and Sixth streets and there the first outbreak occurred. Rocks and stones were thrown at the house in the daytime and after sun down, demolishing windows and shutters and raising Ned generally. On one occasion, early in the evening, a rock whizzed through the window and striking a lighted kerosene lamp smashed it into atoms. Luckily no other damage resulted.

These occurrences became so frequent and annoying, that Mr. Reardon, a few weeks since, was forced to leave the house and rent the house he is now occupying. Every effort to discover the cause resulted in a failure. Where Mr. R. now lives, there is a large open yard at the rear, over 100 feet in depth and to the north a large open lot extending to St. John street. Since his removal the manifestations have taken place as before, only with more vehemence and with less regard to external conditions. The daytime has been selected for these exhibitions, and within the past few days they have increased to such an extent as to create the liveliest consternation in the household.

Officers have been put on the watch, a reward offered far the discovery of the perpetrator and every means taken to arrive at a solution of the mystery, and all to no purpose. The rocks fly in the doors and through the windows in the broad, open light of the day and while people are inside and outside, with an impunity and a disregard for consequences as to engender the belief that supernatural agencies are at the bottom of the affair.

On Thursday, while the door opening into the back yard was open, fourteen large stones came flying in, in quick succession, nearly all of them striking against a door on a line with the one open. Miss Molly Barry who is stopping at the house, was struck in the head by one of these missiles, but not the slightest pain was experienced by the concussion. The rock seemed to have come down gently upon her head and it rested there until she removed it.

A man was stationed at the fence which divides the lot at the east and one by the fence on the north, then when there seemed be no possible chance for a human being to shy a rock though the rear door, not only one but several rocks were thrown by unseen hands as before.

Yesterday the house was rocked as it had never been before and the story of these occurrences having got about, a large number of persons visited the place, among them representatives of the Mercury. Though every precaution against the operation of human influences in the matter was taken, the rocks came whizzing through the door. While L. J. Hanchett, Mr. Reardon. K. Knickerbocker. W. W Pratt. J. J. Owen and others were there, several rocks came sailing, as it were, through the door, seemingly as if from the upper regions, one of them striking the ceiling in close proximity with Mr. Knickerbocker’s head. The strangest part of it is that not one of the persons was hit.

At times, when the door was closed, the rocks would be thrown through the window in the north side and if the shutters were closed, the rocks would strike against them with tremendous and demolishing force.

After the party, including Mr. Reardon, had left the house, L. E. Jones. Mr. Reardon’s partner visited the place. He had not been there but a short time before there was a perfect shower of rocks, some of them larger than goose eggs and of the kind found at Alum Rock and unlike anything in the neighbourhood.


The most wonderful part of the manifestation was the direction taken by the rocks. They came sailing in the door and struck the ceiling, knocking the plaster off in many places. The ceiling is over three feet higher than the top of the door, and a human being to shy the rocks in that way must stand within three feet of the door on the outside and in a direct line with the persons in the room. Several of the windows have been almost totally demolished.

It seems impossible to explain these astounding exhibitions only on the hypothesis that they were directed by spirits from the “hellward side of Hades.”

Mr. Reardon and his family have been greatly annoyed by these strange occurrences, and do not wish to be still further troubled by intrusive spectators. The matter will be thoroughly investigated and any new light on the subject will be given promptly through our columns. The family are estimable people and all non-believers in the phenomena of modern spiritualism. Whatever may be the cause of these disturbances, they are well satisfied they are due to no human agency.

San Jose Mercury, April 22.

The Cropster: Readers Larry and Ralphie asked some questions about the original article text. Here is an excerpt.


2 Replies to “Stones Fly in San Jose”

  1. Interesting story. Very interested in PK, but the controllable kind. Curious, Did they know about atoms in 1876? Was the word ‘atoms ‘ used then?

  2. This is a fascinating story. It opens numerous questions. Over what period of time was this dwelling pelted with rocks from far away or nearby?There must have been a heck of an accumulation of rocks on the floor. Was the occupant the original owner of the property? Did anyone observe the soft impact of the rock against the woman’s head? What was she doing there?

    I like the recap of the article. The language used is fascinating. Are there shots of the original article that would show the font and the like?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *