Vanishing people

   Few mysteries are more intriguing than those involving people who have unaccountably disappeared—vanished with no advance warning and scarcely a trace left behind. Among the most puzzling of cases is that of the small Eskimo village of Angikuni, in Canada's Northwest Territories. In November 1930, according to the account in Frank Edward's popular book Stranger Than Science, a trapper named Joe Labelle visited the remote village, whose people he had known for years, and was startled to find no signs of life—no people moving about, no dogs barking, nothing. Labelle searched through the simple huts and found things in order, as if all the inhabitants—about 30 men, women and children—had suddenly departed in the midst of a perfectly normal day. When Canadian authorities examined the site, they concluded that it had been abandoned for about two months, though they were at a loss to explain why. Finding no signs of violence, no tracks leading away—no clues to shed any light on the villagers' fate—they were forced at length to give up their investigation, and the mystery remains unsolved.
   Another case of this sort, and perhaps the most celebrated, involves the reputed disappearance in 1880 of David Lang, a Tennessee farmer, in full view of several witnesses. Lang, so the story goes, was walking across the pasture in front of his house; his wife and two young children were just outside the house, and two family friends—a Judge August Peck, from the nearby town of Gallatin, and Peck's brother-in-law— were approaching in a buggy. Lang saw the buggy, returned his friends' wave— then suddenly vanished. A frantic search found no trace of him, and a more extensive manhunt that followed proved equally fruitless. The shock al­legedly left Mrs. Lang bedridden for the rest of her life, and Lang's daughter is said to have spent decades trying to make contact with her father through various extrasensory means. Although the David Lang mystery has been recounted in print many times, some critics have questioned its authenticity, noting in particular that no historical documentation—local census records, deeds, newspaper accounts or other contemporary evidence—has been found to confirm that any of the people involved actually existed.