Tag Archives: Ghosthunting Illinois

Visiting the Abraham Lincoln historic sites in Springfield, Illinois

John B. Kachuba, author of Ghosthunting Illinois recommends a visit to these three Abraham Lincoln historic sites in Springfield, Illinois. The sites are said to be haunted. And what better place for a ghosthunter to lay his or her weary head than at the haunted and beautiful Inn at 835?

Abraham Lincoln Home 
426 South Seventh Street, Springfield, IL 62701

Abraham Lincoln home SpringfieldThe Lincoln Home looks exactly as the Lincolns left it when they departed Springfield in 1861, heading for Washington, D.C. Period furnishings recreate the everyday life of the family. Several blocks of reconstructed buildings surround the house, giving the visitor the sense of stepping back in time to Lincoln’s day.

Opening hours : 8:30am-5:00pm, daily, except on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Years Day, when the park is closed. For more information visit the website.

Abraham Lincoln Tomb, Oak Ridge Cemetery
1441 Monument Avenue, Springfield, IL 62702

SpringfieldOak Ridge Cemetery is located at the end of Monument Avenue. It’s easy to find since there is plenty of street signage marking the way. It’s impossible to miss the tomb once you’ve entered Oak Ridge. Follow the signs to the parking lot and walk a hundred yards or so to the tomb.

The tomb is open daily from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. For more information about the tomb and Oak Ridge Cemetery visit the website.

Old State Capitol
Fifth and Adams Streets, Springfield, IL 62701

state-capitol-springfieldThe Old State Capitol is easily accessed from either Fifth or Sixth Street. Its red dome is a distinctive landmark. An underground parking garage is below the capitol.

After touring the capitol building, it’s a short walk to the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices and the Illinois State Historical Library. For opening hours and more information visit the website of the Old State Capitol.

Where to stay when visiting the Abraham Lincoln historic sites in Springfield, Illinois?

The Inn at 835
835 South Second Street, Springfield, IL 62704

inn-at-835-springfieldWhat better place for a ghosthunter to lay his or her weary head than at the haunted and beautiful Inn at 835? It’s conveniently located in the center of the city, close to many other historic sites, some of them haunted. Innkeeper Court Conn can direct you.

For more information and reservations visit their website.

 

 

Visitors Report Apparitions at Abraham Lincoln House

Abraham Lincoln home SpringfieldWhen self-taught lawyer Abraham Lincoln rode his horse into Springfield, Illinois, in 1837, all his meager belongings were packed into two saddlebags. Five years later, the rising young attorney married Mary Todd, a well-educated woman from a prominent Kentucky family, and in 1844 the Lincolns paid $1,500 for a Greek-Revival cottage at the corner of Eighth and Jackson Streets. For the next 17 years, the house—considerably enlarged by Lincoln— sheltered the growing family. Three of his four children were born there, and one of them, Edward, died in the house at the age of 4.

On February 11, 1861, the Lincolns left Springfield by train, headed for Washington, D.C., where Lincoln would be sworn in as the 16th President of the United States. He never again saw his Springfield home, but in 1865 his somber funeral cortege passed by the house, decked out in black-and-white bunting, as it made its way to Oak Ridge Cemetery, where the murdered president was laid to rest.

Visitors to the Lincoln Home in Springfield Report Seeing a Tall, Thin Apparition with a Little Boy

Since then, some visitors to the Lincoln home have reported seeing a tall, thin apparition with a little boy, perhaps Abe and little Edward. Most visitors who experience a paranormal event in the house, however, say that it is the ghost of Mary Todd Lincoln who lingers there, in the place where she lived the happiest years of her adult life.

Abraham Lincoln was no stranger to events that some might call supernatural. He once related such an event to a few friends, one of them being Noah Brooks. After Lincoln’s assassination, Brooks told the story to the readers of Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, recounting the story “as nearly as possible in his own words”:

“It was just after my election in 1860. . . I was well tired out, and went home to rest, throwing myself down on a lounge in my chamber. Opposite where I lay was a bureau, with a swinging glass upon it—[and here he got up and placed furniture to illustrate the position]—and, looking in that glass, I saw myself reflected, nearly at full length; but my face, I noticed, had two separate and distinct images, the tip of the nose of one being about three inches from the tip of the other. I was a  little bothered, perhaps startled, and got up and looked in the glass, but the illusion vanished. On lying down again I saw it a second time—plainer, if possible, than before; and then I noticed that one of the faces was a little paler, say five shades, than the other. I got up and the thing melted away, and I went off and, in the excitement of the hour, forgot all about it—nearly, but not quite, for the thing would once in a while come up, and give me a little pang, as though something uncomfortable had happened. When I went home I told my wife about it, and a few days after I tried the experiment again, when [with a laugh], sure enough, the thing came again; but I never succeeded in bringing the ghost back after that, though I once tried very industriously to show it to my wife, who was worried about it somewhat. She thought it was ‘a sign’ that I was to be elected to a second term of office, and that the paleness of one of the faces was an omen that I should not see life through the last term.”

That mirror is not in the Springfield house and is lost to history, as are many of the personal items owned by the Lincolns during that time. Lincoln sold most of his furniture when he moved to Washington, and a good portion of it ended up with owners in Chicago, where it was destroyed in the 1871 fire that almost obliterated that city.

Abraham Lincoln home SpringfieldThe park employees are reticent to speak about the ghosts. However, Shirlie Laughlin, an employee at the Abraham Lincoln Home, told of her experiences there in a 1998 interview with a reporter from Arlington Heights’s Daily Herald:

“I was rearranging the furniture in Mary Todd Lincoln’s bedroom not long ago, trying to decide whether to move a small chair into another room. Something—someone—kept touching me on the shoulder. I kept looking around, but no one was there. I left that chair right where it was.”

Shirlie also reported seeing the rocker in the parlor move and said that she could feel “wind rushing down the hall,” despite the fact that all the windows in the house are kept tightly shut.

Perhaps if someone can persuade the National Park Service to have a more open mind about the world of the paranormal, we will be able to determine whether it is old Abe, Mary, Edward, or all three who haunt the Lincoln home. Until that time, visitors to the home will just have to try to figure out the mystery for themselves.

The Ghosts of Graceland Cemetery

Graceland CemeteryThe whole concept of cemeteries as good places to find ghosts has been under discussion recently. Many psychic researchers believe that ghosts haunt places that have some meaningful relevance to their former lives. Sometimes these places recalled happy times: the houses in which they were children or, perhaps, the homes in which they raised their own families. On a grimmer note, these places could be prisons or hospitals—or other places where they spent unhappy, traumatic, or eventful times. But why a cemetery, a place where no living person longs to be and a place that, at most, is only a brief stopping point between death and the hereafter? If you were a ghost, would you rather wander around some old cemetery, or would you rather go back to your home or to some other happy place? Still, ghosts are found in cemeteries, possibly because they are somehow trapped there, bound to the spot in a psychic force that we do not understand. Noted psychic researchers Lorraine and Ed Warren would say that cemeteries are spawning grounds for evil spirits and may be portals to a nasty and demonic realm. My own experiences have shown me that far more hauntings occur outside of cemeteries than in them, but here are some stories about graveyard ghosts.

Graceland Cemetery in Chicago does have its ghosts. The most noted Graceland ghost is that of little Inez Clarke, who died in 1880 at the age of 6, apparently killed by lightning while on a family picnic. Her grief-stricken parents commissioned a life-sized statue of their daughter to be placed upon a stone base above her grave. The statue was shielded from the elements by a protective glass box.

The stories associated with the ghost of Inez include strange weeping sounds that are heard near the statue, as well as the vision of a child who vanishes into thin air near her grave. The most interesting stories, however, concern the statue itself. It is said that sometimes the statue will disappear from within its glass box. This has been noted especially during thunderstorms, which seem to make sense because the child was killed by lightning. Perhaps poor Inez belatedly runs for cover as she relives the awful day she died. Psychic researcher Troy Taylor says that more than one security guard at Graceland has reported seeing the empty box, only later to find the statue returned to its usual place inside. One guard quit shortly after finding the glass box empty one night.

Graceland CemeteryAnother story from Graceland is not so much a ghost story as it is simply a weird legend. The final resting place of Dexter Graves—I’m serious, that’s his name—is marked by a larger-than-life statue called “Eternal Silence.”

It is an extremely creepy statue of a brooding man wrapped up in a voluminous robe. One arm, buried beneath the folds of the robe, is raised parallel to the ground, covering the mouth and lower half of the face. Only the eyes and nose are visible beneath the cowl of the robe. Over the years since Graves died in 1831, the effects of weather have turned the statue pale green, all except for the face, which remains black, having been protected from the weather by the robe’s deep folds.

The legend says that anyone who looks into the figure’s face will catch a glimpse of his own death.

For more hair-raising stories from Illinois, check out Ghosthunting Illinois by John B. Kachuba.

John Dillinger Lives

 

Ghost of notorious gangster has been seen outside the Biograph Theater

Biograph TheaterJohn Dillinger Lives – Not the flesh-and-blood gangster, of course, but his ghost, who has been seen outside the place where Dillinger drew his last breath—the Biograph Theater on North Lincoln Avenue.

By the time Dillinger was gunned down by FBI agents on July 22, 1934, he had become Public Enemy No. 1, his notorious exploits ballyhooed in newspapers across the country on an almost daily basis. While much of the American public viewed Dillinger as something of a modern-day Robin Hood, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover had issued a “shoot to kill” order on the gangster as well as a $10,000 reward. Each of the five states in which Dillinger and his gang had robbed banks also offered $10,000 rewards.

In July 1934, Chicago police detective Martin Zarkovich approached Melvin Purvis, director of the Chicago office of the FBI and told him that he could deliver Dillinger. Zarkovich had a friend named Anna Sage, a whorehouse madam who was facing deportation to her native Romania, who he said could set up Dillinger if the FBI would halt her deportation proceedings.

John_Dillinger_full_mug_shotThe deal was struck. The evening of July 22 was a warm one. John Dillinger wore a lightweight coat with a white shirt, gray pants, canvas shoes, and his usual straw boater as he entered the Biograph Theater with his most recent girlfriend, Polly Hamilton Keele. Anna Sage, who wore a brilliant orange dress, accompanied the couple. The banner hanging below the Biograph’s illuminated marquee advertised that the theater was “cooled by refrigeration” so that its patrons could watch Manhattan Melodrama, starring Clark Gable, William Powell, and Myrna Loy, in comfort.

While the movie played, Purvis positioned his men in the streets outside the theater. He was nervous, chain-smoking cigarettes as he waited for the theatergoers to exit. At about 10:30, the house lights came up and the theater began to empty. As the crowd filed out, Purvis saw Anna Sage’s distinctive orange dress—the means by which they agreed to identify her, and thus, Dillinger—among the crowd. He signaled to his agents and the police to move in.

Dillinger stepped off the curb, just before the alley that ran alongside the theater. Alerted by something, he suddenly stopped and whirled around, apparently reaching for a gun hidden beneath his coat. The agents opened fire. Three bullets struck him. Dillinger staggered a few steps then fell to the pavement dead.

John KachubaThere are stories of people seeing a shadowy figure of a man running on the sidewalk, or heading for the alley. He runs, then staggers, then falls and disappears, almost as if reenacting the shooting over and over again. There are some who say the man killed at the Biograph Theater that night was not really John Dillinger, but that the FBI, embarrassed by the Little Bohemia debacle, could not admit yet another mistake and so covered up the truth. We may never know the truth, but what we do know is that a man was shot and killed that night and that his ghost relives that agony still.

In his book Ghosthunting Illinois, John Kachuba explores the scariest spots in the Prairie State.  He visited thirty-two legendary haunted places, all of which are open to the public – so you can test your own ghosthunting skills, if you dare.

Photo credits:
Biograph Theater © John Kachuba
John Dillinger: © By FBI [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

ScareFest7 Ghostly Fun for Everyone

ScareFest7 Ghostly Fun for Everyone
Tanya & Liliane at AHRT Booth

ScareFest7 started out on Friday September 12th with the Black Carpet arrival of this year’s celebrities. The media and the fans were at hand to capture the stars’ arrivals.

Meanwhile the Clerisy Press team Liliane and Tanya were ready at booth #63 eagerly awaiting the Platinum and Golden Ticket holders who are lucky enough to enter ScareFest one hour before the official opening.

ScareFest7 Ghostly Fun for Everyone:

Dancers of Lexington Ballet School
Dancers of Lexington Ballet School

The venue includes a 82,000 square foot area where ScareFest Con houses over 200 different dealers offering the strange and the bizarre.

Fancy an individual reading or holding a very creepy bug? It is all available at ScareFest.

During all three days the convention offered a wide choice of seminars, workshops, panels, and celebrity book signings.  At times long lines formed with fans waiting to meet their favorite horror actors or paranormal personality.  Sean Astin (Mikey in The Goonies in the ’80s, Rudy in the ’90s and beloved hobbit Samwise Gamgee in the The Lord of the Rings trilogy) had a constant line of excited fans waiting to meet him.  Read more about all celebrities present here.

ScareFest7 Ghostly Fun for Everyone
Costumed fans at ScareFest7

Young ballet dancers of a Lexington Ballet School performed several times throughout the weekend and the many costumed convention goers added color and excitement to the show.

The weekend included the Platinum/Golden Ticket VIP Party at HighTop Bar hosted by Patti Starr and on Saturday the free for all costume ball.  The Clerisy team joined the fun and while we did not win the prize for best costume we sure had a ball!

Book Signings and a raffle at our Booth:

ScareFest7 Ghostly Fun for Everyone
The Clerisy team with John Kachuba

On Saturday Patti Starr and John Kachuba held book signings at our booth. John Kachuba is the author of Ghosthunting IllinoisGhosthunting Ohio and Ghosthunting Ohio – on the Road Again and Patti Starr is the author of Ghosthunting Kentucky as well as the co-founder and producer of ScareFest.

Patti Starr and her team presented some ghostly entertainment. We had fun at ScareFest7, and there is no doubt in my mind that we will be back for more in 2015.

The winners of our raffle prizes are:

Krista Scrubbs – A basket filled with America’s Haunted Road Trip books including our latest addition Ghosthunting Oregon

Betsy Newsad – Winner of three signed books by John Kachuba including his latest book Ghosthunting Ohio – On the Road Again

Jim Ambs – Winner of Ghosthunting Kentucky signed by Patti Starr

Mary Schneider – Any one book in our America’s Haunted Road Trip Series

We thank all who stopped by our booth.  If you are a fan of horror films and all things paranormal, start planning your trip and join us next year at ScareFest8!

You can also find us November 22 & 23 at booth # 622 at the Victory of Light Expo in Cincinnati.