Ghostly Face in a Church Window
Updated: Nov 30, 2019
Residents of Belmont, a suburb northwest of Lincoln, received quite a fright and a bit of excitement in the latter half of 1892. A strange phenomenon occurred, which caused curiosity seekers to congregate around a church to witness seeing a ghostly face seemingly plastered onto a pane of stained glass.
Several women driving northbound past the Baptist church happened to glance toward the windows facing the street, where they saw what they first believed to be a woman pressing her face up to the glass. Startled by the expression of intense agony, like that of a dying woman, they stopped to get a closer look. After exiting the vehicle, they bustled over to investigate and possibly help whoever appeared to be in need of assistance. However, when they reached the church, they found the doors locked and upon peering in, they found no one inside. Discovering the window absent of any person, they went around to get a closer look at the face. They were astounded to find the image of a woman resembling a photograph negative seemingly drawn onto one of the small blue panes of glass.
When looking closely, the distinct features of a woman could be seen, with the exception of a chin that was oddly absent. News quickly spread once the women shared their experience, causing several people from town to make the trip to the church to see the image firsthand. After hearing of the unnatural image, members of the church showed up with cleaning supplies to attempt to rid the spread of unorthodox rumors as more thrill seekers arrived to get a look at the spectacle. However, when the window was cleaned, the image would not rub off and only seemed to grow more prominent. The more they scrubbed, the better the image appeared. With residents watching, the rumors the churchgoers attempted to smother only gain momentum. Eventually, they gave up, leaving the woman in agony for anyone to gaze upon, even from the street, where the face could easily be seen in daylight.
Several theories spread about the origin of the woman in the window. Superstitious onlookers leaned toward the occult for possible reasons. They considered the possibility of a supernatural “power” having placed the face upon the glass. People with what was considered “non-superstitious” ideas were at a loss for a reason as to why the face had suddenly appeared without explanation. For the most part, the event was believed to not be the work of youngster or pranksters intent on causing mayhem amongst the locals.
The window continued to attract the attention of a steady stream of curious people from Lincoln causing still more theories. Trying to construct a logical explanation, several people explained the phenomenon through a method, although not proven or unproven at the time, that could be potentially scientifically possible. They believed the face was photographed into the glass when it was originally blown. Thinking that a woman may have possibly been in close proximately to the molten glass at the time of creation, which caused her features to be permanently reflected into the finished piece, much like an image transferred onto paper from a photograph taken with a camera.
One woman, described as an old lady who lived in a little cottage all alone near the Belmont School declared that the image was “a warning to the rising generation.”
People more inclined to supernatural origins believed the image to be that of the spirit of a woman who had recently departed. Schoolyard gossip also spread amongst the youth, who after seeing the image, conjured up ideas that the face was not that of a woman, but that of a schoolmate who had died only two weeks prior.
The constant stream of people and the uneasy effect the image had anyone who looked upon it caused a drastic drop in attendance at the church the following Sunday after the discovery.
Even after several days, the face continued to draw large crowds to witness the phenomenon.
Within the first week of discovery, the image was vandalized when a gang of boys threw a rock through the pane, making the face disappear. Thus destroying any possibility of the true nature of the image to ever be solved.
A few days after the window was broken, several people reported seeing another face appear in the window, which opened out of the postmaster’s room of the post office. Instead of being the face of a woman, however, the features were more masculine and seemed to change according to the description by various witnesses. Most people believed the men peering into the window were seeing nothing more than their own reflection.
Although the origins of the face of the woman in agony were never revealed, the excitement and fear related to a ghost possibly being reflected in glass circulated for some time. Whoever the woman was, whether a figment of imagination or possibly a supernatural occurrence witnessed by hundreds of people from Lincoln will never be known. The story has managed to live on, much like a photograph or an image from the past etched in glass.
Want to learn more about the history behind several ghost
stories from Nebraska? Check out my book
Beyond Lincoln: A History of Nebraska Hauntings at
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