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John Campbell/Star of India

Started by J.Nilsson, January 01, 2010, 10:54:04 PM

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Hi everyone;

Here's my post:  There's nothing really unique about it, (except to me).  It mostly fits the pattern of the things that I've read about the John Campbell experience, on the Star of India.  However, not knowing anything about John Campbell at the time it happened, helps me maintain just a little objectivity.

I've always had an intrigue in the paranormal.  An incident last June, raised my curiosity much more.  I've also had a long interest in sailing ships.  The combination of the two has heightened my curiosity even more, and brought me here to share this.

I'm recently retired from the military, and now back home in San Diego.  I am a member of the Maritime Museum, as well as several other museums (I'm museum junkie).  As a kid, I made many visits to the Star of India with my dad.  Now as an adult, again, I am there often.  I have made several visits to the Star, to "learn the vessel", with the intent of making some accurate sketches, and maybe a painting.  A day in June, on a visit there;  I was standing aft of the main mast, focused on the top-gallant yard (second from the top).  I was pondering what it would feel like to be up there.  I then felt someone come up from behind, and place their hand on my shoulder.   I turned expecting to see a young docent that I'd come to know fairly well, after so many visits.  But it was odd.... There was no one there.  I wrote it off as some odd/strange muscle spasm, and blamed it on wearing  a back pack too much.  But it sure felt like someone had placed his hand on my shoulder.

Shortly after that, I learned about John Campbell, and of his fall from the top-gallant yard; a fall of about a hundred feet.  I also learned that some believe, that he still resides on the Star as a playful ghost;  sometimes touching people on the shoulder.

Muscle spasm or not;  it felt like a touch.  This is what it was like:

The touch was not cold as I've read in some accounts.  It was more like one that a friend might do, approaching from behind.  It felt youthful.  That's why I expected it to be the young docent.

There is another item of interest to me;  that may or may not be signficant -- It is to me.  Using my receipts from the museum, I back tracked, to see exactly what day I was there in June.  It was June 26th.  It was June 26th, onehundred-twenty-fiive years before (to that date) when Campbell fell.

There's one additional thing about my hightened interest in John Champbell; though subjective that it may be:   My grandfather ran away from home in Sweden at fourteen years old, and stowed away on a sailing ship (best guess, 1906).  John Campbell was a stowaway, and when found became a deck-hand.  My grandfather became a cabin boy, and then when older, became a crew member.  This almost gives me some feeling of kinship with Campbell.  I am sure that my feelings are biased.  But if it was John Campbell, who I believe it was, I feel privileged about the experience.

I have been back several times since, but nothing again.  I'd like to know if anyone here has had any similiar experience, or know of anyone else that has?  Especially the John Campbell experience.  I'd like to compare notes.   

                                                            Happy New Year, Ya'all

PPI Karl

John, thanks so much for sharing that experience with us.  I haven't personally experienced this kind of thing on the Star, but I know others who claim they have.  We have a handful of fairly compelling audio clips from our investigations, as well as some intriguing video evidence that is difficult to explain.  I hope to have these in our website's "Evidence" section before long (currently in development). 

Still, subjective experiences like yours really stay with you, don't they?  Impossible to prove, and yet they have a viscerally emotional and psychological effect that lingers.  The John Campbell story in particular lends itself to this, I think. PPI specifically targeted his back-story in our initial investigation back in 2007.  There's something about Campbell's history that appeals to my pathos more than other tales on board the ship:  this poor kid, thinking he's getting a second chance to make a life for himself, sneaks on board for passage to anywhere, is caught but ingratiates himself to the crew and earns his passage, then falls and shatters his legs and dies.  It's the stuff of tragic sea shanties, really.  And, who would not identify with Campbell?  He's the archetypal handsome cabin boy in a Herman Melville novel (Billy Budd perhaps), so hopeful and yet cut down in the very midst of that hope. The parallels between Campbell and your grandfather are wonderful.  No wonder you feel especially connected to Campbell's tragedy:  you're alive today because your grandfather was a survivor, while Campbell's tale is about being robbed of his youth and his future.

I'm curious, have you ever attempted to do any interactive investigating on the Star, such as an EVP session?  I'd be curious to know if a sense of rapport with an alleged spirit yields better evidence.  Again, many, many thanks for sharing these with us, John.
If you want to end your misery, start enjoying it, because there's nothing the universe begrudges more than our enjoyment.


Hi Karl,

Thanks for your response.  I have no experience with EVP or anything like that, and wouldn't have any idea where to start.  The closest I've been, trying to communicate with somthing in the paranormal is theOUIJA board--and that thing scares me--I'm afraid to open the wrong door. 

I look forward to reading your "Evidence" section.  But, as I said in my inital post;  I have been back to the Star of India (as recent as the other night);  and still nothing again.  I have a question about others with the possible John Campbell experience.  Did they know of Campbell prior to there experience?  I knew nothing of him at the time of mine.  And second:  Do you know if anyone ever had a second or more than one experience with him?  I have talked to some of the staff at the museum, and they say that they experienced some strange things while on the Star, and attribue them to the playful Campbell.  They fondly refere to hiim as "Johnny"

One last thing, ... I felt that your comment about Melville was very insightful.  I somewhat appreciate his writing style of reminiscence, nostalgic and dark romanticism.  Herman is up there with some of my other favorite authors (right up there with Mark T; Ed Poe and   Bill Shakespere).


PPI Jason


That was an incredible experience you described on the Star. That was also a great idea to do the research and come up with the coincidence regarding his death.

After you contributed your post I looked online to find any other experiences others have had with the Campbell spirit. The only discussion I was able to locate was the usual comment that "a cold spot is felt" or "people say they feel a touch to their shoulder." I always have a hard time with such vague and ambiguous comments because anyone can make them. I could write an article that says, "people feel a cold spot in my living room from time to time" and never mention that those people are only me and it usually happens right below the air conditioning vent in the summer time.

But by sharing your experience you've really added a much needed level of credibility to such claims. I think that it is very important to hear these stories from the people that experienced them. It just helps us realize that these things don't just happen to "some people" but rather to specific people, just like us, who experienced something much more than just "a cold spot" but rather, in many cases, a whole set of unusual experiences that, when looked at in their totality, are just truly amazing.
Probably the earliest flyswatters were nothing more than some sort of striking surface attached to the end of a long stick.
-Jack Handey


Hi Jason
thanks for your comments.  And Karl, I spoke to the docent that I mentioned ... he said that he met you.  He was just new at work there at the time