In the 18th century John Drysdale lived at Kirkstyle in Dollar. He was kind to poor folk and when any came to his door begging, he never turned them away empty handed.

At the back of his cottage lay a yard where he grew some vegetables and kept beehives, selling the honey. He also kept sheep and would take their fleeces to the market in Alloa. Every market morning, he would get ready quickly, throw the bundle over his shoulder, and walk to the town.

One summer day as he was making his way home, he met an old acquaintance that he had not seen in some time, so the two stopped at a public house to share a gill. It was soon finished, so they had another, then another. When they left the pub, they began dondering the streets, soon meeting other acquaintances, so went into another pub.

Darkness fell and at 11 o’clock, John finally set out for home. Seven miles and poor roads lay ahead of him, but he pushed on until he reached Howbog where he sat down. As he counted the money he had left, he heard an anguished voice coming from somewhere. He had heard that ghosts and witches haunted the bog, but being tipsy, bravado took over and he demanded: "Who’s there?"

"A poor man," came the reply.

"Are you a Deil’s body or a God’s body?" asked John.

"I’m a God’s body," replied the voice.

"Come away with me then," replied John. Suddenly, a tall, gaunt figure in ragged clothes appeared. John walked on, telling the ghost to follow him. They reached Gateside, a brewery on Back Road in Dollar, but the family were asleep. John knocked at the door loudly with his stick, waking up the whole house. The gudewife came and stood behind the door then asked: "Who’s there?"

"It’s John Drysdale of the Kirkstyle who brings you the ghost of Howbog. Open woman."

She did, but on seeing John’s companion swayed with fright. Cold water was thrown on her face. The two were shown into the kitchen where the fire was lit, but none of the family would come near. John could not convince them the ghost was a real person.

At last, the gudewife overcame her fears and began making something warm for the old man, but it was too late. Exhausted, he died in the chair.

John lived for many years after this and often related the story, a tear glistening in his eye.