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     Paranormal Activities Of Madison County

Off-site Links:   McPike Mansion

 

TABLE TURNING

Source: Alton Weekly Courier, December 9, 1853

The "spirits," or some other invisible agency, are at the same old tricks of table tipping, knocking, rapping, writing, &c., in this section of country. The interior of the State is in commotion. Every community has its mediums, and almost every family its record of miracles in the moving of kitchen tables, and the awful raps of departed ghosts upon the window panes and headboards. An old friend, who is an old Baptist clergyman, came into our office the other day, somewhat excited. He said he had witnessed a table cut all sorts of capers by the laying on of hands of two young ladies, whom he knew were honest and conscientious in the matter. A friend in from the far interior informs us that the rappings have reached to the utmost bounds of backwoods civilization. We notice, also, that the "spirits" have appeared in Europe, and cause considerable sensation. By the following, which we found in a No. 3 paper, it would appear that the ------ well, we don't know hardly what to call it, has excited the dignitaries of Paris:

"The Abbe Gay details in the Univers of Paris the result of certain experiments with a turning table, which left no doubt in the minds of all present concerning the nature of the invisible agency. The good priest states that the table in question not only gyrated but rapped, and not only rapped but answered questions intelligently. After something of a conversation, they tried to get it to talk Latin, but it professed not to understand that tongue. Then they returned to French and inquired the name of their interlocutor. What was their horror when, by regular and distinct raps, it slowly answered D-E-M-O-N! Hereupon, all pale and trembling, they proceeded to test still further the reality of an infernal presence. The Abbe laid his rosary upon the table, and not a rap could be got from it; then he took it off, and the diabolic mallet thumped as before. Finally they requested to be informed whether their visitant was happy or unhappy, if the former, one rap, if the latter, two were to be given. When this request was made the rosary was lying on the table, and it was silent; but the instant the rosary was removed the appointed two raps were given. This put the climax to our excitement "by putting a climax to our certainty," says the Abbe. A full report of the whole was drawn up, and after being signed by all present, was sent to the Bishop at Versailles for his consideration."

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HUMBUG EXPLODED

Source: Alton Weekly Courier, March 18, 1858

The lecture of Drs. Yarnall & Babcock at Mauzy's Hall last evening was largely attended, and proved a decided success. They first exhibited to the audience some interesting experiments with an electrical machine, a galvanic battery and a pair of metal magnets. They then proceeded to explain that the so-called spiritual phenomena are caused by the magnetism of the human mind and system. In proof of this assumption, they took a subject from the audience, and, after placing him in a magnetic state, caused him to perform many of the phenomena of modern spiritualism. A table placed under his hands spelt a name that was communicated to the subject only by one of our citizens, by energetic tips in the most approved spiritualistic style. There was no humbug about this, for many of our leading citizens who were present satisfied themselves that the table tipped - not only without the agency, but in spite of the resistance of the subject. The table tipped far more regularly and promptly than in any spiritual circle we ever saw, or certainly know of. The range of experiments yesterday evening was necessarily limited, but they were highly successful and perfectly satisfactory to a large majority of the audience - all, we believe, except perhaps, a few spiritualists who were present. The lecturers will appear again this evening at the same place, and will introduce an entirely new class of experiments, such as cannot fail to satisfy any candid, reflecting mind, that "modern spiritualism" is the greatest of modern humbugs. Let all who wish to see this matter fully investigated, falsehood exposed and truth made manifest, attend this evening.

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A VINDICTIVE SPIRIT - MURDER COMMITTED BY ONE OF THE "MATERIALIZED"
Source: Utica, New York Daily Observer, December 9, 1874
The St. Louis Democrat publishes the following, commenting upon which another paper says: "if this story is true it puts Spiritualism in a new aspect and makes it a very practical matter of serious import to all." At Mendota, Ill., lives a medium of extraordinary force named Betty Milton. Although it's but a short time since her powers in this line have been developed, she has succeeded in producing manifestations, according to the testimony of respectable, intelligent, and credible witnesses, which are fully equal to any of the phenomena which have been observed among the most advanced Spiritualists. Lately she has been troubled by the presence of a Spirit whom she feared and dreaded, but who, in spite of all her efforts, persistently strove to gain control of her organization. It was evident that this spirit desired to manifest through her some strange and dark statement, and its nature could be guessed at by her occasional wild mutterings concerning hatred and murder, revenge and remorse. She gradually yielded to the influence of this troublesome spirit, and finally, near the close of last month, to be exact, on the 23rd of October--he stood beside her in the shape of a slender, tall young man, with long hair and German features! There were a dozen or more persons present, all of whom saw him and saw that the medium was in a state of trance, while the materialized spirit made his ghostly confession in these words, which were heard by all in the room:

 

"I come to make a confession, to express my remorse, to atone as far as I may for a wrong doing. My name, when in life, was Carl Reystadt. On the night of May 8, 1872, I murdered Andrew Garrity. It was my crime for which Martin Fynes died in Alton prison. I was at the time in spirit form, but assumed the likeness of Martin Fynes when the deed was done, in order that he might be suspected of the crime and hanged for it. I stole his knife; I purposely encountered two men who knew him, that they might honestly swear to have seen him near the scene of the murder. |I hid the bludgeon where it was found at his house. I did all this that I might be revenged upon him for a great wrong he had done me. I was the instrument in the hands of an all-wise justice in taking the life of Andrew Garrity, for he deserved his fate; but my purpose |was evil. In my later spirit-life, in higher stages of progression I have learned forgiveness. I have been taught to repent the deeds of my wicked heart. For this reason I have come back to attest the innocence of Martin Fynes."

 

Having finished this confession, the form began to fade, and shortly disappeared and was never seen again! The circumstance was so singular that inquiries were set on foot by two gentlemen, Mr. N. Moulton, of Mendota, and Mr. B. Longley of Centralia. They discovered that there had been such a person as Andrew Garrity, that he had been murdered as stated in the spirit confession, that Martin Fynes had been arrested for murder, and that he had died at Alton. They also discovered that Carl Reystadt been ill-treated by Martin Fynes, and that he was dead when Garrity was murdered. In the trial the evidence was conflicting. Two men swore they had seen Fynes, on the night of the murder, near the place where the body was found, with a bludgeon in his hand, and that they had spoken to him but he did not answer them. Four other persons testified that he was at a distance from the spot where the murder occurred and accounted for all his movements during the night. It was proved, however, beyond a doubt, that the knife which was found near the murdered man was his property. Several other circumstances were put in evidence for and against the prisoner and the entire testimony was so puzzling that the jury could not agree and were finally discharged. Fynes was sent to the State prison for a third trial, but died before it could take place. In these proceedings, there was nothing unusual or supernatural, but there were some circumstances connected with Fynes' prison life, in jail, and in State prison, which are entirely unexplainable except in view of the revelation which purports to have been lately make by the spirit of Carl Reystadt, through the mediumship of Miss Betty Milton.

 

While in prison, Fynes professed to have been visited and persecuted by the ghost of the young German who appeared to him when his cell was dimly lighted, even in the presence of other persons, telling him that he (Fynes) was going to be hanged, and frightening him to such an extent that it was thought best never to leave him alone at night. The only person besides Fynes who claimed to have ever seen this spiritual persecutor was one of the keepers, who declared that he caught a glimpse of him at a time when Fynes' cellmate was removed for a few minutes. He described the ghostly intruder as being the exact counterpart of Martin Fynes, standing by his side, and differing from him in no particular of dress, or in feature. The keeper was so astonished at this vision that he hastily closed the door and called for help. In a few minutes it was opened, but the counterpart had disappeared, and Fynes was lying on his pallet in a fainting condition, or in a state of trance. Thereafter Fynes declared that the murder of Garrity had been committed by a demon that had taken his form and had possessed itself of his knife, and that this demon had frequently visited him in the jail at Carlinville, and in the State prison, terrifying him almost to death. Of course he was regarded as insane and the keeper who declared he had seen the vision above referred to was considered as being in no better mental condition. Fynes died without making any confession, but stoutly adhering to his statements concerning his supernatural visitant, and both he and his supposed crime were forgotten until the time of the remarkable revelation that purported to be made through the mediumship of Miss Betty Milton. It is a strange story as it stands, and we leave the credulous and the incredulous to puzzle their brains over it as they please, only adding that it is published here just as we received it.
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Milton Cemetery, Alton, IL

 

THE MILTON CEMETERY GHOST (ALSO CALLED THE ALTON JUNCTION, AND THE WOOD RIVER GHOST)

 

NEWS FROM ALTON JUNCTION - A FIRST CLASS GHOST SENSATION AT MILTON CEMETERY
Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, December 15, 1881
A first class ghost sensation is now exciting the people, it being currently reported that one of the mysterious fraternity has lately been seen in an adjoining graveyard. His ghostship only appears to single individuals, seeming to be troubled with a diffidence that impels him to avoid a crowd. A party of three or four went on a ghost hunting expedition a few nights since, but owing to the bad weather or some other hindrance, there was no supernatural appearance. Some individuals, however, have been "scared out of a year's growth," and state that the spook is no humbug. A party of eight Altonians visited the Milton cemetery last night, saw the ghost, but did not venture to interview it.

 

THE WOOD RIVER GHOST
Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, December 16, 1881
We gave an account yesterday of the supernatural visitor that is said to haunt the Milton cemetery, and has been terrifying the citizens of Alton Junction lately, and also of the trip of eight Altonians to interview the mysterious apparition. The Altonians, with unheard of valor, went within sight of the haunted spot, and at about 10 o'clock, were rewarded with a view of the mysterious being. It appeared to them as a man clothed in a black mantle, with long, flowing hair, the height of the ghost ranging from six to nine feet, according to the magnifying power of the "bulging" eyes that stared at it, the company being speechless through amazement. It is reported that they had the temerity to stand within a hundred yards of the vision for 15 minutes, and then withdrew without disturbing the ghost in the least, it walking back and forth a distance of 40 or 50 feet with a military and preoccupied air that was quite startling. Whether material or supernatural, the apparition was enough to demoralize the Altonians and send them back to town in disorder. One of the railroad employees at the Junction visited the haunted spot a few nights ago, saw the apparition and bravely approaching it thrust his arm directly through its body. This completely unnerved him, and he retreated to the Junction pale as the traditional ghost, and firmly convinced of the supernatural character of the visitant. The old residents assert that the apparition is that of a man buried on the knoll in 1839. How they know that is a matter not yet explained. Meanwhile, Alton Junction has a sensation and is happy, though trembling.

THE MILTON CEMETERY GHOST
Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, December 19, 1881
The nightly pilgrimages to the Mecca of wonder lovers, Milton Cemetery, still continue, but with but little success for the past two nights, although some peculiarly gifted individuals still claim to see the mysterious nocturnal visitor. The Upper Alton students say that no one sees the ghost now, for the simple reason that one of their crowd shot it a few nights ago, and in proof of this assertion, they have an ungainly form suspended to a wire in Pie Town, in such a position that all desiring to do so can communicate with the "remnants" by telephone. One man who visited the ghost's walk last night states that the only "appearance" that he saw was a paper image hung to a tree, although a spirituous influence was quite manifest on the crowd he went with. This man is now the "guest" of the city, and can be interviewed by any curious inquirer. It is said that the grave reputed to be the apparition's resting place is somewhat stirred up near the head, at the place where the spirit would naturally make its exit and entrance, looking something like a mole had been at work.

PARTY OF MEN SEARCH FOR MILTON CEMETERY GHOST, BUT FIND SPIRITS OF ANOTHER KIND
Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, December 19, 1881
A party of men in a wagon went to Milton cemetery last night in search of the celebrated ghost. They had a supply of liquid refreshments along, and although they failed to see the spook, some of the number were so overcome by the influence of the "spirit" of the kind that appears from a bottle, that they became excited and unruly, and finally created such a disturbance at a house in "Glass Avenue," on their return, firing pistols and kicking at the door, that Policeman Schielle arrested one of the rear guard and locked him up. He was fined $10 and costs this morning, by Justice Noonan.

 

THE GHOST REDIVIVUS - MILTON CEMETERY
Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, December 21, 1881
From the reports received from the haunted Milton cemetery a few days ago, we labored under the pleasing illusion that the ghost was laid and its "manes" pacified, but it seems that this was a flagrant error. The trouble heretofore has been that the investigators have been of timid and "retiring" dispositions, fearful of offending the apparition, and hence have not displayed the proper courage. Monday night, however, a valiant little party, men who did not know what fear was, the "bravest of the brave" went to the place, resolved to do or die. As an evidence of their valor, not to say rashness, they sat down cooly, lighted their pipes, and patiently awaited the mysterious appearance. Luckily they did not have long to tarry. About 10 o'clock one of the number looked over the ground and beheld a sight that caused each individual bristle to stand erect on his head, like the "quills of a frightened forkentine." About twenty paces off stood a form, eight feet high, with a long, white beard and tremendous eyes, big as a couple of holes burned in a blanket. It glared upon the intruders with optics having no speculation in them. The discoverer of this horrid sight exclaimed in an awe struck whisper, "Boys, there it is," and immediately there was a stir; the "veterans" rose to their feet, a few ineffectual shots from revolvers were fired, and as the apparition glided toward them, its footsteps silent as the grave, the "bravest of the brave" took to flight. They hurried slightly, in fact it would be no exaggeration to say that they ran so wildly and aimlessly that they missed the entryway and lit into a hedge, tearing their garments and scratching themselves terribly. But they escaped the ghost, and say that they have had enough of the search after the supernatural.

 

THE WOOD RIVER GHOST

Source: Alton Telegraph, December 22, 1881

We gave an account last week of the supernatural visitor that is said to haunt the Milton cemetery, and has been terrifying the citizens of Alton Junction lately, and also of the trip of eight Altonians to interview the mysterious apparition. The Altonians, with unheard of valor, went within sight of the haunted spot, and at about 10 o'clock, were rewarded with a view of the mysterious being. It appeared to them as a man, clothed in a black mantle with long, flowing hair, the height of the ghost ranging from six to nine feet, according to the magnifying power of the "bulging" eyes that stared at it, the company being speechless through amazement. It is reported that they had the temerity to stand within a hundred yards of the vision for 15 minutes, and then withdrew without disturbing the ghost in the least, it walked back and forth a distance of 40 or 50 feet with a military and preoccupied air that was quite startling. Whether material or supernatural, the apparition was enough to demoralize the Altonians and send them back to town in disorder. One of the railroad employees at the Junction visited the haunted spot a few nights ago, saw the apparition and bravely approaching it thrust his arm directly through its body. This completely unnerved him, and he retreated to the Junction pale as the traditional ghost, and firmly convinced of the supernatural character of the visitant. The old residents assert that the apparition is that of a man buried on the knoll in 1839. How they know that is a matter not yet explained. Meanwhile, Alton Junction has a sensation, and is happy though trembling.

 

GHOST HUNTERS

Source: Alton Telegraph, December 22, 1881

This city and surrounding country are so thoroughly aroused by the thrilling stories of the appearance of the ghost at the Milton cemetery, that the subject is the general theme of conversation among all classes. A strange circumstance in connection with the matter is that the bravest individuals are those farthest from the scene of action. A crowd, estimated at over 300, went to the haunted graveyard last week, resolved to fully investigate the matter; they were like an army with banners, except that they had numerous torches and lanterns instead. The company made a great deal of noise, some even using unseemly, disrespectful language in respect to the ghost, consequently that individual did not appear, although the "hunters" crowded the place until after 12 o'clock, the witching hour when graves are supposed to "yawn and give up their sheeted dead." A gentleman, who is well posted in ghost lore, states that apparitions will only appear to particular favored individuals, and that when the right person comes the visitant from the other world will speak, relieve its perturbed mind, and then rest in peace. It is no use to try to shoot one, for the fool-hardy individual who would attempt it would, undoubtedly, receive the bullet, even though he used a silver one, in his own person. In the meantime, the excitement increases and many authentic, blood-curdling ghost stories are related to admiring listeners, around the kitchen stove, while the harrowing suspense of the desperate men, who go out at night with their lives in their hands, as it were, and their "pocket pistols" duly charged, can be better imagined than described.

 

The latest report is that some of the more sedate ones, who remained after the noisier part of the crowd left, were rewarded by a view of the supernatural visitant, much such an appearance as we have already described. The ghost has been interviewed, as we learn, by a gentleman who wishes to remain strictly incognito, to whom it stated that it was the spirit of a man murdered on the railroad near Alton Junction a few years ago, but having been carelessly prepared for the grave, unbecomingly arrayed, laid in the coffin in an uneasy position, with a nail reaching through the casket and penetrating the body, it was impossible to rest under the circumstances, and this was the cause of the restless spirit's materialization in the cemetery.

 

GHOST OF ALTON SIX TO NINE FEET HIGH

Weekly Graphic, Kirksville, Missouri, Friday, December 23, 1881

Alton, Illinois has a ghost which has placed that little city and vicinity in a fever of excitement. Unlike ghosts in general, this one dresses in black and has long flowing hair, and is said to be from six to nine feet high.

 

A REMARKABLE GHOST STORY - EXPERIENCE OF A PHYSICIAN YEARS AGO (By E. P. N.) ........MILTON CEMETERY GHOST
Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, December 9, 1890 and the Alton Telegraph, December 11, 1890
Editor Telegraph: One ghost story is nearly always productive of another. There is something peculiarly mysterious about ghost stories, although no one yet has been found who has felt that he could say positively that the apparition he saw was someone, who had at some time inhabited a tenement of flesh and blood and walked among men. A number of years ago, the writer was sitting in the office of - at that time - a well known physician. The subject of apparitions happening to come up by the report that a ghost had been seen in the eastern end of the city, the Doctor said: "If you have no objection, I will tell you my experience with ghosts." The Doctor was a good storyteller, and could always have an audience when professional duties permitted. Settling myself in a chair comfortably, I said to the Doctor: "go ahead; I am fixed for ghosts tonight." After pondering a second or two, and casting a glance around him as if looking for someone, he began:

"Some ten or twelve years ago, I had a very large practice in the American Bottom east of Alton. I would frequently be called out at night in that neighborhood, and spend a large portion of it in making calls and in returning to my home. On these occasions I always took my driver along. He was a tall, muscular Irishman, strong as an ox, and apparently without fear. We both had weapons with us in case of need, although we never had occasion to use them. The night in question I was called to attend a family living about six or eight miles below the city, on the St. Louis road. It was one of the handsomest nights I ever saw. The moon was full and cast such a glorious light that the trees and houses seemed illumined. The air was keen and crusty with frost - a typical December night. We reached the homestead of the family where the call came from about 9:30, and found two cases of diphtheria - in almost the last stages. I stayed with the family for a couple of hours, affording such relief as I could. Between eleven and twelve we started on our return. I felt somewhat blue over the prospects for the recovery of my two patients, and with foreboding fears that more of the family might be taken down with the dread disease. I said nothing to my driver, meditating upon how little a physician could do, with all his much vaunted skill, when death put in a claim. We had reached, shortly after 12 o'clock, that part of the road lying near the old cemetery at Milton. As is well known, Milton cemetery is on the top of the hill, overlooking the road. Noticing the hill, my thoughts ran to the many ghost stories that had been told of that famous spot. My attention was suddenly called by an exclamation from Patrick, my driver: "By all the saints, Doctor, what's that ahead of us?" Quickly glancing in the direction, I saw a figure, some two hundred yards in advance of us, standing in the middle of the road and apparently facing us. It seemed to be of the height of an ordinary person, and appeared to be covered with a sheet. I thought it was someone trying to frighten us. I told Patrick so, and we drove on until the horse caught sight of the object and would go no farther. Fearing that the animal might break the vehicle, I said to Patrick to hold the horse and I would go and investigate the apparition. I took the buggy whip in one hand and my pistol in the other, prepared, as I supposed for the would-be ghost. As I drew near it, I saw that holes appeared to be cut in the sheet about where the eyes and nose ought to be, but there was no movement in any part of it. It was as cold and as stiff looking as a marble monument. A little closer I observed that feet, clad in white stockings, protruded beneath the sheet. I shouted, when within a rod, "who are you and why do you stand there trying to frighten my horse?" There was no sound uttered, or movement made by the figure. I was astonished beyond measure. My heart thumped and beat so loudly that I was sure Patrick could hear it, and the ghost too if it had ears. At last, mustering up courage, I made a rush for the figure. I raised my whip and brought the heavy end down with all my strength on the figure's head. But imagine my surprise, instead of striking the creature, my whip cleaved through it and struck the place where its feet stood. The next instant the most unearthly, the most horrible yell that ever pierced the ears of any mortal, came from the spot where the blow from my whip was aimed. The shriek of a dozen catamounts [wild animal of the cat family] could not have equaled it. I was paralyzed for a few seconds. When I came to myself, there was nothing to be seen. The echo had died away. Turning towards my buggy, the horse was prancing and jumping. When I reached it the animal was covered with sweat, trembling like an aspen, and Patrick was speechless. After having spoken to him several times, he stammered, "What was it Doctor?" I didn't tell him. I didn't say anything. We drove off in silence, and as we passed the spot where the figure stood, the horse shied and plunged, and a peculiar odor seemed to pervade the atmosphere. In the course of ten or fifteen minutes Patrick told me that just after the screech the figure seemed to flit through the air, its white stockinged feet protruding beneath the drapery, towards the cemetery on the hillside, and disappeared in the ground. That was all I ever saw. Patrick could not be hired to pass that way again. He soon after left my employ and went from the city. I did not speak of the apparition to anyone, because I must have a driver, and I was confident that it would be almost impossible to secure one that would pass along that road, if it was told. I made the same trip the next night, and many nights since, and never again saw the strange visitant. No one else, that I ever heard of, saw it afterwards. I have often thought of it and tried to reason it out. Had not Patrick and his horse seen and heard it I should have persuaded myself that it was an illusion. You are the first person to whom I have told it. Never speak of it until I am gone. Then you may publish it if you want to."

The old physician relapsed into silence. He never mentioned the story again. A few years afterward he passed away, having served his generation well.

 

HORSE BOLTS WHEN NEAR MILTON CEMETERY         Did The Horse Sense a Ghost?
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 7, 1902
Two young men hired a horse and sleigh from C. Seibold last night, and started off towards East Alton. When near Milton cemetery the horse started to run away and upset the sleigh. The young men were thrown out, but not much damaged. The sleigh was badly used up and the horse becoming detached from it was caught by Bill Henry at East Alton. The horse dragged Mr. Henry about forty feet before he was stopped.

 

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GHOST OF THE PRISON
Source: Auburn, New York Daily Bulletin, July 5, 1889
A ghost with the lockstep is one of the rarities of spiritualism, but that is what they say has been heard near the old prison at Alton, Ill. [Note: a lockstep is a way of marching in very close file, in which the leg of each person moves with and closely behind the corresponding leg of the person ahead.]

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A GHOST, A GHOST - Messrs. Peter Reyland and Thomas Convary Meet With a Resident of the Other World

Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, May 31, 1892

Last Friday evening, Messrs. Peter Reyland and Thomas Convary had quite an experience with a spirit from the other world. The gentlemen left the resident of Mr. Reyland in a wagon about 5 o'clock to cut a few bean poles. They drove along slowly, being in no hurry, to a thickly wooded patch of scrub oak back of Upper Alton, to a place known as the John Smith farm near the cut off, arriving there about sundown. With an ax, both began to cut small shoots and trees such as could be used for their purpose. Each had cut several poles and were proceeding to another spot when Mr. Reyland beheld a ghost. Both men were spellbound and stood for several seconds as the spectre with fiery eyes came toward them. The weird scene in the lonely place was too much for the pole cutters, and they ran with might and main towards where their horse was tied. A barbed wire fence was scaled in one leap and both men, much exhausted, reaching their wagon, put whip to the horse and left the spectre in possession of the lonely woods. Messrs. Reyland and Convary cannot describe in words what they saw, but will never go to the spot again by night. The place where the ghost was seen is a lonely place. On both sides of the woods are deep ravines, thickly covered with underbrush. Probably the gentlemen cut a small tree under which slumbered some one of our ancestors, who aroused from his rest, resented the intrusion. The little experience will be remembered.

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GHOST OF FOURTH OF JULY HILL

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 21, 1895

According to Mr. Harry Johnson, the ghost of Fourth of July Hill has broken out again, and is once more preventing sleep from embracing some of the colored citizens of the vicinity. It must be a very discourteous, sour old ghost that would disturb the peace and dissolve joy, at this, the merriest time of all the year, and he should "be laid."

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SPOOKS AND SPIRITS HAUNT THE NAVAL MILITIA HALL

Spooks and Spirits Disturb the Equanimity of Dionysius Woods at Naval Militia Hall

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 23, 1897

"Didy" Woods had an experience yesterday at Naval Militia Hall which he will not soon forget. He had been given the keys and sent over to clean out the hall, but it was only a short time till Didy returned with the keys, declaring he had seen and heard strange things, and under no circumstances would he complete the job. Didy is just slightly superstitious, and his imagination must have been worked up to a high pitch yesterday. He had not been at work long, he says, before a shadow crossed his path. Turning round quickly, a man's head was seen, which gradually dwindled into the shape of a rat. Then it disappeared, and strange sounds took its place. There were weird shrieks and laughings under the stage, then rappings; then a stove pipe in the same place began to roll around, and to cap the climax, Didy swears the shovel, which was standing in the corner, began jumping up and down just like it was dancing a jig. The ghost may have cut up other antics, but if it did, Dionysius did not see it, for the very good reason that he left the hall as fast as his feet could carry him. Didy was almost a pure white when he came to deliver up the keys. If these ghosts should hang around Didy, he probably would remain white.  The boys will organize a search party at the drill meeting tonight and explore under the stage. If they should happen on Mr. Ghost, they will no doubt endeavor to explode the theory that a ghost is impenetrable. At any rate, if he has several bayonets thrust through him, it will only partly repay him for the fright Didy received. The most serious feature of the business is that Didy has been since the organization of the company, the grand "Mascot" of the navy boys, and now that he has began to see "ha'nts," they will have to look up someone else. They do not want "uncanny" people around, and if Didy has the faculty of calling spirits from beneath the stage, from the stove, from the chimney, and even from arc lights, he will have to go. Didy persists "dat dis house am 'ha'nted,' suah."

 

Source: December 2, 1897

The White Hussar Band boys caught Didy Woods' "ha'nt" Wednesday night at Naval Militia hall. It proved to be a big black cat, with eyes like balls of fire when seen in the dark. The White Hussars charmed Thomas so completely as to allow himself to be caught. Didy's spiritual seances will now cease.

 

[Didy Woods, a youth, was a popular "mascot" of the Alton Naval Militia, and accompanied the boys on their outings.]

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WOMAN IN CONSTANT COMMUNICATION WITH SPIRIT

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 19, 1900

Mrs. Lauren Fixen states that she is in constant communication with Miss Frances Willard's spirit, and that she will soon have a photograph taken of Miss Willard's spirit through the Bangs sisters.

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PHANTOM BUGGY IN UPPER ALTON

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 23, 1901

Upper Alton has a mystery which bids fair to rival State street's woman in black. It has been named by one worthy citizen, the Phantom Buggy. For several weeks this noiseless vehicle, drawn by a shadowy steed whose movements are so slow and quiet that they are scarcely perceptible, has appeared in the gloom of the evening on different streets of the village, and has excited no little curiosity and speculation. The buggy is rigged with a closed top and appears to contain two muffled forms which neither speak nor move. It was last seen by a college professor, whose veracity has never been questioned, as he was returning from a faculty meeting. On the loneliest part of the way he saw this mysterious equipage and immediately recognized it and thought to challenge it, but the awful stillness appalled him and he fled in terror, thinking he was followed by a ghostly cavalcade [procession] of horsemen and carriages. College professors are all given to more or less theorizing, and he now believes they are the phantom of men and horses whose lives were lost in the mud on College avenue during the past two winters, and that only the paving of that street will soothe these unhappy spirits.

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BOYS FRIGHTENED BY A GHOST

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, 1902?

Ten or twelve boys - known indefinitely as the "Dutchtown Boys," although such a Norwegian name as Gormally appears among them, went across the river yesterday to camp and fish for a week or two. They came back about 11 o'clock last night out of breath and with a fully developed desire to stay away from Missouri Point. Some of the boys say a ghost frightened them, but the others say that the mosquitoes over there are man eaters, and like Bosco the snake man, "eat 'em alive."

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GHOST OF WOMAN WHO COMMITTED SUICIDE CAUSES FAMILY TO FLEE HOME

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 11, 1902

The family of Fred Nichols on Bluff street was driven from its home Wednesday night by what they supposed to be the specter of Mrs. Minnie Nichols, who committed suicide in the house a few weeks ago. Late in the night the neighbors were aroused by the members of the family who said they could not stay in the house, and left the place in alarm. Their imagination had led them to believe that the place was haunted, and they were so frightened that the father, mother and five children left the place. The frightened members of the family said that they were sure the disturbance in the house was caused by something ghostly, until after a careful investigation of the place had failed to reveal anything uncanny or otherwise.

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LOTI THE WONDERFUL

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 8, 1902 ~  Advertisement

Palmist, Clairvoyant and Healer. Reliable advice given on all matters. Cures chronic diseases and bad habits. Hours 9 to 9 daily.  615 Alby street.

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PSYCHIC FORCE ENLIGHTENS POLICE CHIEF - WOMAN TELLS WHERE ESCAPED PRISONERS ARE HIDING

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 27, 1904

All escaped criminals and all other criminals who might well be looked after by the police would do well to keep in shady places hereafter, and to change their places of abode frequently. Chief of Police Maxwell has a volunteer assistant to his detective department in the person of Mrs. Louise LaVerne, who claims to be a psychic force, and who can tell you everything you have done and what you intend to do, what kind of parents you had, and can see the innermost secrets of your life. She called at the police station Wednesday morning and at once threw herself into a seeing state and began telling Chief Maxwell what he has been trying to find out for months. She told him that prisoners had escaped justice in Alton; that they were in hiding; that other criminals are coming; that the chief had received messages from various places which would develop into events of import. Mrs. LaVerne said she had learned that seers were forbidden to practice in Alton, and that to demonstrate she was no ordinary fakir, she called to beard the lion in his den and tell some of the close secrets of the Chief of Police, which she laid bare to a world of police and newspaper reporters.

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THE GHOST OF McPIKE ISLAND HAUNTS "DEAF BILL" LEE SHACK

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 19, 1904

According to some Missouri Pointers, a ghost makes nightly visits to McPike island, but why it is "ghosting" around such a lonely place is not exactly clear to them. "Deaf Bill" Lee, a fisherman who formerly lived on the island, reported to the police of Alton a few years ago that a man and his wife came to his cabin one day and asked to be allowed to stay until the man, who gave his name as John Snow, could earn money enough to take them to Tennessee. Bill allowed them to remain, but Snow, according to Bill, became intensely jealous of Lee and very angry at the woman because she seemed to like the host better than the husband. Snow started across the river to Alton with the woman in a skiff, Bill told the police, and lost the woman on the way over, and he alleged that Snow knocked her in the head with an oar and tumbled her overboard. The skiff was found tied on this side of the river [Alton] but nothing was ever heard of Snow or his wife, although the police investigated Lee's story at the time. Now fishermen and others who happen to be on McPike's island at night say a ghost with clanking chains and hollow eyes as becomes a ghost cavorts around the vicinity of the old Lee shack and moans and makes noises as if something ailed it, and John Kenney is of the opinion that the wraith is that of Snow's wife, but he cannot understand what she is doing around Lee's former abode instead of being where Snow is. "Bill never did nawthin' to her," says Kenney, "only love her little, mebbe, and treat her a blamed sight better than her husband did, and besides there is no call for her to be making all these here unearthly noises from no point of view."

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THE [ALTON] BLUFF STREET GHOST

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 2, 1904

William Redmond, the well known east Second street harness dealer, is "dead game." He proved that last night when shortly after midnight he and his wife were awakened from their sleep at their home on Bluff street by noises made by someone evidently going down stairs in a hurry. "Wake up Will," said Mrs. Redmond, "there is someone in the house." "I know it," said Will, "I've waked up, you get up and see who it is."  Both got up and Mr. Redmond said to his wife, "Now you go downstairs first and carry the lamp; I will follow after you with a revolver and if the burglar attempts to do anything to you I will kill him."  Mrs. R. followed instructions and a thorough search of the house was made by both, but without discovering anybody. One of the doors was unlocked, and probably the intruder got out that way, unless it was the once notorious Bluff street ghost that formerly irritated and agitated Bluff street residents, and which desiring to return got into the wrong house. Whatever it was, it badly scared Mr. Redmond - and the scare was worse after nobody could be seen than before - during the noise.

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ALTON'S REV. ROBERT WEST SPEAKS FROM THE GRAVE?

Source: Science and a Future Life, by James H. Hyslop, Ph.D., LL.D, 1905

Mr. W. H. Savage had a sitting with Mrs. Piper, and after several remarkable incidents she (Phinuit) said, "Ah! Here is somebody from the outside - he says his name is Robert West. He wants to send a message to your brother. Apparently this Robert West took control, for there immediately followed: "I wrote an article against his work in The Advance. I thought he was wrong but he was right." When asked to describe him, he was described in language which Mr. W. H. Savage says was "photographic in its truth." Phinuit said, "He died of hemorrhage of the kidneys." A little more than two weeks later Dr. Minot J. Savage, the brother, had a sitting, and this Robert West purported to communicate with him. He said that he had been buried in Alton, Illinois and gave the epitaph or text on his tombstone saying that it was "Fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." On inquiry of an editor of a newspaper in Alton, it was found that the Rev. Robert West was buried there, and that the text on his tombstone was exactly as said.  Mr. W. H. Savage had personally known this Robert West in Jacksonville, Illinois and he had been editor of The Advance in Chicago, and had written a severe criticism of Dr. Minot J. Savage's doctrines and work. Dr. Savage, being a Unitarian, and Mr. West a Congregationalist. Mr. W. H. Savage had not seen the criticism, and Dr. Minot J. Savage did not know that Mr. West was dead. Both Mr. W. H. Savage and Dr. Minot J. Savage did not know the cause of Mr. West's death, and on inquiry of The Advance, his death was ascertained, and in the Congregational Year Book it is stated that he died of Bright's disease on October 25th, 1886, a little more than two years before the sitting.  At the same sitting of Dr. Minot J, Savage, the death of a Rev. C. L. Goodell was correctly announced, but was not known by Dr. Savage until verified afterwards.

[Editor's note: *Phinuit was purported to be a French doctor and first spirit guide of Leonora Piper, a spiritual medium. Robert West was a former pastor of the Congregational Church in Alton, and died October 24, 1886 at the age of 41. West is buried in the Alton City Cemetery beside the grave of his father.]

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COLONEL PACK'S HOODOO AT WORK:  NEW HOME HAS THIRTEEN WINDOWS - ATTRIBUTED TO MISFORTUNE

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 22, 1905

The following letter will explain itself and was sent to the Telegraph by a neighbor of the doughty Colonel Emil Dick, the injured driver is getting along nicely, but the horse is dead as reported, and the wagon is in the vehicle hospital. The 14th window has been cut in the dwelling, Col. Pack having secured assistance from an expert in that line of business and not only he, but all the residents of that vicinity hope the hoodoo is removed for keeps:

Editor Telegraph:

The breaking down of Flacheneker's Red Cross ice wagon occurred Tuesday in front of Sergeant James Patterson Pack's residence. The house contained 13 windows, and is the first bad luck that anybody ever had in front of his new home on Fifth street. The horse became frightened at seeing the thirteenth window, it is supposed, and turned the wagon upside down. The driver, Emil Dick, was severely injured and the horse had to be shot Wednesday morning. When Professor Pack saw this, he immediately borrowed an ice chisel and carved out the fourteenth window, for he said he did not want to be prosecuted on account of someone getting hurt in front of his house.

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OLD PLANK ROAD HOUSE IN ALTON SAID TO BE VISITED BY SPOOKS

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 29, 1905

There is always something doing to attract the attention of the skeptic and cause him to wonder, if after all his doubts which he calls convictions, there is not more to life than what we see of it on earth. Mysterious manifestations, many of which have never been explained, have been of frequent occurrence throughout the country, and Alton has not been entirely neglected in this particular either. According to residents of Upper Belle street, or "the old plank road" as it is yet called by many, there is something uncanny going on in a house above the Dixon stone quarry, and the ghosts, or whatever they are, do not wait until night, as most regulated ghosts have done from time immemorial, to begin their pranks either.  Often in the middle of the day occupants of the house hear the flapping of wings as if some great bird was in the room and close to descent upon the listeners. Nothing can be seen, however, and the sound continues sometimes for five minutes, while the bewildered occupants listen and tremble and wonder. Queer noises are heard in the cellar of the house at all hours or any hour, and sometimes the sounds are said to issue from the walls of the house apparently. "Things disappear very mysteriously sometimes," the lady of the house says. "Oftentimes they disappear almost before your very eyes, but no trace of them is ever found again, and where they go or by what influence they are controlled cannot be learned."

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INVITATIONS FOR "WITCHES PARTY"

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 25, 1905

Mr. and Mrs. Leroy Wilding, 1630 Common street, have issued unique invitations for a "witches revel," which will be held on the evening of October 28 at their home. The invitations are sent out in the form of a black cat, on the back of which is written the request for the presence of the recipient. Each person going must cover with a black coat, mask, cap and gloves, and the injunction is forbidding the guests speaking.

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THE GHOST THAT DISTURBED THE WESLEYS

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 16, 1905

[Note: This article, while not pertaining to Madison County, was an interesting paranormal story. I thought you might enjoy it.]

An Illinois reader of "Matters and Things" asks me if it is true that John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, actually believed in ghosts and witchcraft. He, like many learned men of France and England and New England, thought that there was such a thing as witchcraft. According to Tyerman and other writers, he was a firm believer in apparitions after his father's adventures with what is called "Old Jeffrey's ghost" at the Wesley rectory. While John was at school in London, there occurred some mysterious noises at home which have not been satisfactorily explained. They were first heard one winter day in 1715 by Mrs. Susanna Wesley, the great preacher's mother. She was in her bedroom when suddenly startled by a clattering of the windows and doors, followed by several distinct knocks, three by three. At the same time, the maid servant, Nancy Marshall, heard in the dining room something that sounded like the groans of a dying man. On these things being told, the young ladies of the family were especially alarmed. John's father was as yet a doubting Thomas. He was a man of scholarly attainments. As poet, writer and preacher he enjoyed the acquaintance of such men as Defoe, Pope, Swift, Richard Baxter and John Bunyan. He was also possessed of great courage. So when Mrs. Wesley gave it as her opinion that the noises were supernatural, he exclaimed: "Sukey, I am ashamed of you. These girls and boys frighten each other, but you are a woman of sense and should know better. Let me hear of it no more." but the following night he was aroused from his slumbers by nine loud and distinct knocks. Raps and knocks indeed were heard throughout the house. The next night the noises were as boisterous as ever - and Mr. Wesley became less doubtful. On the contrary, he drew a pistol to fire in the direction of the sounds, but desisted. A few days later - in the evening - as he opened the door of his study, it was thrown back with such violence that he was almost thrown down. He went into his daughter Amelia's room adjoining, and the noises continuing, he said to her that "as spirits love darkness," she could blow out the candle and "perhaps it would speak."  Though he asked questions aloud, there was no reply, of course. He then requested Annie to go downstairs. Imagining that something might have happened to his son Samuel, who was away, he said aloud: "If thou are the spirit of my son, Samuel, I pray thee knock three knocks, and no more." No answer came, and all was quiet for the night. There is something ludicrous in the picture of the stern and accomplished Samuel Wesley here presented - trembling in superstitious fear. But let us remember that he was troubled by a mystery that no one has since been able to explain for all the wisdom of today. Dr. James Buckley tells us that almost a month later, when the family were at prayer, the usual knocks were heard when Wesley prayed for King George, and a thundering thump at the "amen."  Noises continued, latches were uplifted, doors flew open, the house shook from top to bottom, the rector's trencher danced upon the table at a Sunday dinner, and beds were uplifted. A number of clergymen advised him to leave the old rectory. "Let the devil flee from me," he said, "I will never flee from him."  The attic from whence the noises came was by Emily Wesley called "Old Jeffrey's chamber." The supposed ghost was named "Old Jeffrey after an old woman who died there. Dr. Buckley thinks that the mysterious noises were produced by someone coming through the dormer window of the attic, and that the gypsum floor, which reverberates through the house in a remarkable way, had something to do with them. Dr. Prestly supposes the sounds were a trick of the servants, assisted by neighbors. But does this explain all the happenings aside from the noises? The mystery had a powerful influence on John Wesley. He took the trouble of obtaining minute particulars from his mother, from his four sisters, and from Robin Brown. He likewise transcribed his father's diary containing an account of the disturbances, thereby showing the intense interest he felt in the affair. "In fact," avers Tyerman, "It would seem that from this period John Wesley was a firm believer in ghosts and apparitions."  Our forefathers were very superstitious. The elder Wesleys were rather gloomy and austere, and I think this accounts for their readiness to believe the mystery of supernatural origin. There are no ghosts - really and truly?

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SLAYER OF DAN WRIGHT WAS HOODOO VICTIM

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 9, 1906

With his mind almost wrecked with worry over having been compelled to kill Dan Wright, a notorious negro character who died with his boots on in Upper Alton several years ago, Lawrence Slaughter, a negro resident of Upper Alton, died last night. He claimed that he was a victim of a hoodoo and that he was being haunted by Dan Wright's ghost. At times during his illness, he would become wildly excited and would start fighting an imaginary foe with terrific vigor. Physicians said that Slaughter died from dropsy, but people who knew him well say that his bad health was the result of a physical breakdown from worry. It will be remembered that Dan Wright, a notorious and dangerous negro character, was slain by Slaughter in Upper Alton while Wright was trying to force entrance to Slaughter's house to kill him. The career of the bad man, suddenly ended by Slaughter, was so bad that Slaughter was hardly even taken into custody. He was held at police headquarters in Alton after surrendering himself, but was fully exonerated the next morning and the police and other Alton people who knew Wright well were disposed to raise a fund for his health. Indeed, a cash bonus was started and a number of people voluntarily walked into the police headquarters and gave him money, ostensibly to aid in his defense, but really as a thank offering for killing Wright. Slaughter never did recover his peace of mind, although fully justified and he imagined that the ghost of Wright was haunting him and only waiting for vengeance.

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DREAM LEADS TO RECOVERY OF WALLET

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 9, 1906

Frank Braunagle was one of the most delighted men in Alton today because of the recovery of a wallet containing $50 in currency and some other valuable papers, including a note which he lost several days ago and which he recovered through the dream of a friend, Frank Ackel, an attache of St. Joseph's hospital. Braunagel had advertised his loss thinking he had dropped the wallet some place where it might be picked up. Last evening Ackel entered Braunagel's saloon in the building at Second and Cherry street, and Braunagel informed him of his loss. "Yes, I heard about it," Ackel replied, "and I think I can find it for you. A friend of mine told me about the pocket book being lost, and last night I dreamed it was in the sewer. If you will give me a wire I can find it." Ackel was told that he would receive $10 reward for recovering it, and he then told Braunagel that he believed it was in the trap of one of the big pipes in the building, and he succeeded in fishing it out with a wire, just as he had dreamed he would do. The verification of the dream was startling to those who had heard him tell about having dreamed of the place where the wallet was, and Braunagel, who was not the least astonished of the men who saw the money found, promptly paid the $10 reward he had promised. Braunagel exhibited the money this morning, discolored and stained, but still in condition to pass as good money. He took it to St. Louis today to have it redeemed at the sub-treasury.

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BLACK CAT COMMITS SUICIDE

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 18, 1907

William Glassbrenner, the Market street tonsorial artist, had a cat at his home in Main street which developed a nature so sensitive that it felt death only could wipe out the stain of having been whipped by its master. Anyway, Mr. Glassbrenner yesterday gave the cat - a big black one - a severe whipping for misbehavior, he says, and the feline, when let loose, ran out of the house and directly to the cistern, the lid of which was off. The animal jumped up on the cistern box, looked around to see if it was being followed, then plunged head first into the water. All of the nine lives were extinguished before the cat could be taken out of the cistern. In the spoiling of the water in the cistern, the cat probably reasoned that it could get even with its master for the punishment he administered.

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MRS. JOHN KELLY HAS PREMONITION OF NEPHEW'S DEATH

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 25, 1907               

The superstitiously inclined, and those who believe in signs, omens, etc., can point to the experience of Mrs. John Kelly of east Third street antedating the calamity that befell relatives of her yesterday as substantiating their belief somewhat. Mrs. Kelly is a sister of Mrs. Jack Thomas and was greatly attached to her nephew Will, who was killed outright yesterday afternoon at Armstrong's quarry. Mrs. Kelly was uneasy and anxious all day yesterday and told several of her neighbors, it is said, that she knew something awful was about to happen to some one belonging to her. She had no idea what form the calamity would take, nor who the victim would be, but she felt sure someone akin to her was about to suffer severely. Monday night she was aroused from her sleep by a something which she described as "a feeling that there was someone in the room." She arose and examined not only the room but the entire house occupied by her family, but found nobody. The experience was repeated several times Monday night, according to the story and to add to the mysticism of it, every time she turned on the electric light in the kitchen during her investigation tours, it would suddenly go out or be turned off. It was following the above experience that she declared her belief in an approaching calamity.

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MAN'S DREAM OF TRAIN WRECK COMES TRUE.  SECOND DREAM WARNS HIM OF INJURIES IN WRECK - TAKES LEAVE OF ABSENCE

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 22, 1907

John Greagory, brakeman on the Alton bridge train, will take a layoff. He is not superstitious about dreams, but when they are of a nightmarish kind and then they come true, and he has another one of a worse character, he believes it is time to dodge a hoodoo and let someone else take it. Greagory dreamed last Friday night his train was wrecked, and he saw plainly in his vision the position of the cars as they lay on the embankment. He told it to his fellow trainmen, and they laughed at him, but on Saturday evening the wreck occurred just as he had dreamed and had told the men who worked with him. They were astounded when they recalled what Greagory had told them in the morning. Today he said he had another dream, and this time it was worse, as he saw himself badly hurt in a wreck. As the first dream was realized, he is thinking the second one may be a warning too, so he will take a leave of absence for a short time in the hope of dodging what may be the realization of a warning that fate had something bad in store for him.

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GHOST AT THE GLASSWORKS?

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, 1908

The glassworks has a ghost according to one of the night watchmen, who reports having seen his ghost ship flitting around the yards from one house to another frequently of late. The ghost never enters any of the houses or furnace rooms, possibly because it is hot enough for him where he comes from and he is desirous of a change. The report of the ghost presence has caused considerable nervousness, it is said, among the colored helpers at the works, and they stick close to the houses and their work. There is no more roaming around the yards at night by workmen and perhaps that is what the ghost is there for. A sneering skeptic says it is, in all probability, Dr. Cornelia DeBey of Chicago, the woman physician who jumped the ten-foot fence in preference to entering by the gate, in hope that she might find violations of the child labor law when she almost fell into the arms of night Superintendent George Finkel. She was so frightened and pale that she never recovered her natural color.

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UNEXPLAINED MYSTERY AT AGENT'S HOME - DISTURBANCE IN PIANO - DOESN'T BELIEVE IN SPOOKS

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, January 25, 1908

Fred Browning, agent for the United States Express company, is still worrying over a happening at his home last Thursday night. He was sitting alone in his home reading a copy of a St. Louis paper, when suddenly he was startled by a crash coming from the piano in the same room, as though six or eight of the strings had broken at one time, and the sound of their snapping, together with the rattle and the twang of music that was given forth, almost made him fall out of his chair. He made a hurried investigation and could find no strings broken in the piano. Every one was intact, and the piano has been giving forth just as sweet music since as it did before Mr. Browning was given the sudden start. There was no one in the house with him, and no rats in the house to make the noise in the piano. If any strings had been broken, the mystery would have been explained, but the piano is as good now as it was before. Some student of the occult may explain the mystery.

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FAMILY PUZZLED OVER QUEER SITUATION IN THEIR FRONT PARLOR - FURNITURE TURNED UPSIDE DOWN, BOOKS STREWN ABOUT THE FLOOR

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 6, 1908

Mr. and Mrs. Hosea B. Sparks of 410 Prospect street, are very much puzzled over something that happened in their home last Monday night, which might require the mind of a Sherlock Holmes to solve. When they went to bed Monday night everything in their front parlor was in an orderly condition, the furniture was in the usual places and the books in the bookcases were where they had been kept for a long time. When Mr. and Mrs. Sparks entered the parlor the next morning, the place had the appearance of having been visited by the miniature tornado which caused considerable damage outside the same night. The parlor furniture was turned upside down and moved out of place, the books had been taken from the bookcases and strewn about the floor of the room. Someone had made an effort to make the place as untidy as possible, as if playing an April fool joke. No one in the house could offer any solution of the mystery. Nothing has been missed, and it is believed that if anyone broke into the house it was not for the purpose of stealing anything. Whoever it was disarranged the parlor furniture and books was satisfied with having caused that much annoyance and left.

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CLAIRVOYANT SUMMONED AS WITNESS IN COURT - FAIL TO APPEAR - THEN CHARGED WITH FORTUNE-TELLING WITHOUT A LICENSE

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 28, 1908

Lucy Riker, the clairvoyant and fortune teller, was summoned to testify in the police court today in a case brought by Minnie Rose against Mary Fitzsimmons. The Rose woman claims that she lost $12 and that someone stole it. The two women board at 400 Prospect street. The Rose woman, it was said, on losing her money went to consult Lucy Riker to find out who took it, and it is said that after Lucy had duly gone into a state of "trance" and had begun seeing things, she saw three women in the boarding place and she saw one of them taking the money - in the trance. This was enough, it is said, for the charge to be based upon, so a warrant was sworn out in the police court charging the Fitzsimmons woman with the theft. The prosecution was conducted by assistant states attorney William Wilson, the defense by W. P. Boynton. Mr. Boynton, on learning that Lucy Riker was in the case, had her summoned as a witness with all her paraphernalia and her trance-throwing effects. The case was set for trial in the police court this afternoon. Lucy Riker failed to obey the subpoena and was not in court to testify. The complaining witness admitted she consulted Lucy and paid her 25 cents for telling her fortune and revealing secrets. The case was dismissed. It was said that a warrant for the arrest of Lucy Riker would be sworn, charging her with telling fortunes without a license.

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EAST ALTON MAN SLEPT ALONG GRAVES TO SHOW HE DIDN'T BELIEVE IN GHOSTS

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 7, 1909

William Rampenthal of East Alton can reasonably boast of a good amount of nerve, for he slept in the Milton cemetery half the night last night and won a bet of $3 from a friend. Rampenthal and friend were talking with ex-mayor R. E. Douglas in the Douglas saloon at East Alton last night when the conversation turned on ghost stories, and Rampenthal declared that he wasn't afraid of them. The friend offered to make a wager of $3 with him that he wouldn't sleep the rest of the night in Milton cemetery alone. Rampenthal accepted, and the money was placed in Douglas' hands. The friend and several others accompanied Rampenthal in a doctor's buggy to the cemetery, and laid him down far back in the cemetery. Rampenthal had previously provided himself with several large blankets in order to keep warm. Wrapping these around him, he fell asleep between two graves and slept soundly until 5:30 o'clock this morning, when Dr. Pence had to go out and pummel him in order to wake him up for work. Rampenthal was not hurt a bit by his experience, and was today at his usual work in the shell department of the Equitable Powder Plant. He didn't see any ghosts.

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SPIRIT OF BETSEY ANN SAID TO HAVE BEEN CAPTURED IN PHOTO

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 29, 1909

"Bettsey Ann Day" is the event of the year in Brighton, and mysterious doing are apt to take place on the eve of that occasion. On a recent evening when several enthusiastic "Betsey-Anners" were gathered together, it is said that the spirit of Betsey Ann herself suddenly materialized before their astonished eyes. Perry Rice chanced to be present and secured an excellent likeness of the lady. Copies of this remarkable example of spirit photography will be taken home as souvenirs of the day by many of those in attendance on Betsey Ann Day, Friday, August 6th.

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KATZENJAMMER HOUSE BADLY FRIGHTENS VISITORS

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 24, 1909

There is a house or place at the east end street fair which is called "crazy house," "katzenjammer shack," or "bug house right" by the folks living down that way, and it is said that a party of young men and girls were so badly frightened last night when they visited the place that they bolted from it, jumped over fences and other obstructions and made their get-a-way before their fright left them. Ask Harry Wentz or "Doc" Strubel about it; they were in the party, it is said.

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WILLIAM FELDWISCH OF ALTON OWNS A COUPLE OF HOMES THAT ARE HAUNT - FREE RENT FOR A YEAR IF YOU WILL STAY IN THEM

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 23, 1910

There is a man at O'Fallon, Mo., telephone operator there, who has been taking a lively interest in a supposed haunted house in Alton. Someone went over there and told the O'Fallon man, who seems to be unduly credulous, that William Feldwisch of Alton has a couple of houses here which are haunted. The story went that Mr. Feldwisch could get no one to live in the houses and that, despairing of breaking the hoodoo, he would give a year's rent to anyone who would live in the houses that length of time, and finally would give one of the houses to the person who would brave the "spooks" in the haunted houses for twelve months. The O'Fallon man first wrote a letter and got no response. Then he called up on the telephone and wanted to know about it. Now he is planning a trip to Alton to make an investigation. He is deeply interested in Mr. Feldwisch's alleged "haunts," and is willing to fight it out with the "spooks."

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CLIFTON TERRACE RESIDENTS POINT WITH PRIDE TO STRANGE PHENOMENON

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 26, 1910

Residents of Clifton Terrace are swelling up and pointing with more or less pride to a citizen there who is distinguished in a couple of ways more than other men. The citizen is James Minard, and he lives at Clifton Hollow. He is 56 years old and has lived many years in that vicinity. His nearest neighbor is a Mr. Wilhelm, and the latter was in Alton Wednesday, and was interviewed by a Telegraph reporter concerning a report prevalent about Mr. Minard. Mr. Wilhelm said it is true that Minard, who lost his teeth some time ago, now has a full set of second growth teeth, better than the teeth he had the first forty years of his life. This includes new jaw teeth. Mr. Wilhelm says, "I have worked with and alongside of him for twenty years or more, and I know he lost his teeth and I know too that he now has perfect natural teeth," is the way Mr. W. put it. About six weeks ago Mr. Minard started to raising his residence and remodeling it completely, and since then has been living in a tent nearby. The second distinction comes in here. Constantly, whether the sun is shining or not, the front of that tent is kept moist and dustless by rain it is said. It doesn't rain hard; just sprinkles, but it keeps at it and spreads out no farther than the width of the tent. Mr. Wilhelm said he watched the rain for an hour the other day while sitting in Minard's tent looking out. Other Cliftonites who corroborate this story without attempting any explanation of the phenomenon are William Gradolph and Mr. and Mrs. James Frasier. They told Alton residents the rain falling incident is true and that they visited the Minard tent and witnessed it. The Telegraph gives the story just as the above witnesses gave it.

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FORTUNE TELLER'S DIRE PREDICTION COMES TRUE - MOTHER MOURNS THE DEATH OF HER SON

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 28, 1911        Youth Falls Under Train and Loses Life - Death Foretold by Fortune Teller to Mother

Leland N. Evans, aged 17, son of Henry Evans, 626 Washington avenue, Alton, was caught beneath a "Q" freight train last night and sustained injuries that caused his death three and a half hours after. He was sitting last night at half past seven on the edge of the embankment on the south side of the tracks that pass at the foot of Washington street, in the company with other boys of his age, among whom were Joe Kohler and Howard Smith, when the Q fast freight, westbound, came up running at a fast rate of speed. As the head of the train reached the crowd of boys gathered further down the track, one of them, William Langacher, caught a car and immediately jumped off at the group in which Evans sat, who turned to Langacher and said, "Some of you kids will get killed here," and then as if moved by a sudden impulse he [Evans] sprang from his seat and caught on one of the cars near the end of the train. By this time the train had reached an added speed, and as Evans caught the car ladder at the end of the car he was swung against the corner of the car, and at the same moment he either released his hold to jump or the violent swing broke his hold, and he fell on the embankment along the tracks, which at this point has recently been filled for track repairs, and thus causes a sharp incline toward the tracks. This incline of the surface caused his body to roll toward the rails upon which his legs were caught and crushed by the cars. One leg was cut off just below the knee, and the other just above the knee. His companion Howard Smith picked him up and laid him on the bank between the tracks on the C. & A. and the Big 4. Here he laid for thirty minutes before an ambulance reached the scene, and as he laid with his life ebbing away from the loss of blood, his parents were summoned and came to his side. He spoke brave words to his mother, refusing to complain of his injuries, while she, torn with anguish over her "baby boy," as he is to her fond heart despite his seventeen years, soothed him and gave him that comfort that a mother alone can give. He was taken to the St. Joseph's hospital where he succumbed to his injuries and the loss of blood, at 10:40 p.m.  At the home of the boy's parents there is great sorrow for this sudden death of their youngest child. He was almost 17 years of age, and as the mother told a Telegraph reporter of the boy's many good qualities she related the following, "I have been haunted with a dread of some such accident as this for almost two years. Two years ago a fortune teller told my fortune. She said I would lose my youngest child by a sudden death before he was seventeen years of age. It has constantly haunted me; my boy has never been from me beyond certain hours that I have not been racked with the dread of this dreadful prophecy recurring to my mind, and last night as Leland ran down the front steps he called back, "I will soon be back home." The Evans family live at 626 Washington street. There were five children born to them, two sons and three daughters. The father is employed in the Illinois glass works. Drs. H. R. Lemen, E. A. Cook, and C. H. Merritt responded to numerous appeals for a physician. It was long before a doctor could be found, and it was also long before the ambulance could get there. Dr. H. R. Lemen said today that the boy made a statement to him before being operated upon that he was trying to keep other boys from getting hurt, and in so doing he lost his head and attempted to jump on the cars himself. The Lengacher boy is said to have had a narrow escape from death too, and seemed to have been saved as if by miracle. Supt. W. T. Louden of the Alton Bridge Co., complained to the chief of police Thursday at 5 p.m. that the boys were making a practice of jumping on the C. B. & Q. train. It runs slow there, as it is generally a long train and is obliged to make a stop before it reaches the bridge.

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SKELETON DUG UP BY DOGS - STRANGE HAPPENINGS

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 18, 1912

Captain W. D. Fluent has a skeleton at his docks of a man who was buried sixteen years ago by the Captain and Messrs. Gruse and Ruckmann. The body was buried on the lowlands of Missouri Point, and has gone through eleven high water in sixteen years, but was becoming uncovered in places and was found by the dogs belonging to Fluent. It was decided that the best thing to do was to dig up the bones and re-bury them at some future time. The skeleton brings to mind a number of strange things, and although the Captain is sure it is the same on he buried there sixteen years ago, a jack knife and a whiskey bottle buried with the man cannot be found. The leather in the shoes is still good, but the stitches are gone while the old hob nails hold them together. A belt buckle was found alongside the skeleton, but all other clothing is gone and the flesh has completely disappeared. The death of the man was a strange one. He was supposed to have been a quarry worker and was found drowned in the Alton slough sixteen years ago. On his person was a whisky bottle and a jack knife. There was then no coroner in Missouri, and the body was kept in Alton for over a week while someone who knew him could be found to identify him. No one came, and it was decided to bury him on the point. The body was laid to rest without any services. Whether the man was intoxicated and fell in the slough, as the men were led to believe from the remains, or whether he was drugged and left to drown with the whiskey bottle near him to do away with suspicion was never learned. Two of the men who helped to bury him are dead, namely Ruckman and Gruse, and Fluent is the only one alive. He says that the skeleton was uncovered in the same spot the man he buried was put. The bones at present are lying in an old box in the oil house on the docks, with a little cloth over the box.

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THIRTEEN CRAZY - PEOPLE ARE WATCHING HOODOO SIGNS

Source: Alton Telegraph, January 15, 1913

All around, since the thirteenth year of the century began, people are watching for events with a series of thirteens in them. People who pretend not to believe in the malign influence of thirteen are scouting the fears of other people who do, and some of the daring scoffers are inviting what seems to the believers in bad luck, to be certain disaster, by putting all the hoodoo signs in effect they can. Across the river, there is an old German farmer named Henry Wageman, who doesn't believe in bad luck signs. He wants to show his sublime contempt for hoodoos, so far as they affect him. On the thirteenth day of January, he gave a hog killing. He invited his neighbors and arranged it so there would be thirteen men present. He had thirteen hogs ready to be sacrificed, on the thirteenth day of the month, and he gave to every man on the place a drink of whisky for every hog that was killed. Wageman defies bad luck to come his way through any thirteen combination, and he had a party of assistants in the hog killing who did not believe in any bad luck coming to anything but the hogs, through the influence of the thirteen.

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FOUND A REAL SPOOK - BURGLAR ENTERS HOUSE OF MYSTERY         House of Mirrors Hold Burglar Prisoner - Spooks Torment Him

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 14, 1913

All the horrors of the Evil Eye as Edgar Allen Poe depicted them in his hair-raising story were nothing as compared with the terrible night Mark Podner, 20 years old of Mt. Olive, Ill., spent in the big house of J. J. Bizant at Lakeview last night. Podner had heard there were spooks in the big house at Lakeview, and last night he went there, cut a window pane out, and entered the home. With a bulls eye light he started out to investigate, and it is believed to rob the home. The Lakeview home is a perfect maze of mirrors in every room, and when Podner shone his searchlight across the room he saw the ghost of a man crouched down with coat collar up, hat slouched down on head, and all in all a terrible looking man. Believing in spirits himself, terror seized the burglar, and he fled up the stairs. There he saw the same figure staring at him, wildly, and he ran from room to room, only to be faced by the figure, as he believed a ghost who masked and tried to frighten him. After an hour of this terrible experience, he rushed down the stairs and the bulls eye showed the same figure rushing up the stairs to meet him. This was too much, and the young burglar fell in a heap at the bottom of the stairs and went to sleep. This morning the keeper of the house, Henry Meyers, who sleeps in a back part of the house, found Podner, waked him, arrested him, and placing him on an interurban car took him to Edwardsville where he turned him over to the authorities. A pair of slippers found on the young man caused a charge of larceny to be entered. Podner is mentally unbalanced as a result of his terrible night, and declares that the house is haunted and shrinks back in horror when one talks to him of his terrible night. He is held to the grand jury, but his mental condition may be inquired into. The story of his terrible night he told to Mr. Meyers and to others.

 

[Lakeview was the "castle" in Hartford, IL.]

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MYSTERY AT JERSEYVILLE (IN NEIGHBORING JERSEY COUNTY)              Woman in Black Croons Over Graves at Oak Grove Cemetery Nightly

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 11, 1913

A third of the population of Jerseyville watched at Oak Grove Cemetery until a late hour Wednesday night, waiting for a glimpse of the mysterious "woman in black" who has appeared there nightly since last Friday. At 11 o'clock, when their vigilance had gone unrewarded, the majority of the crowd departed, although some of the bolder ones remained until long past midnight. The visits of the woman, which have mystified the entire population of Jerseyville, are ghoulish. She walks among the graves, crooning softly to herself. She does not apply her attention to any grave in particular, but strolls aimlessly about for more than a quarter of an hour and departs without speaking to anybody. Her face is always heavily veiled on these occasions, and it has been impossible to learn her identify. Negroes of Jerseyville make a practice of avoiding the cemetery by a margin of at least three blocks.

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THE "WOMAN IN BLACK" ... IS THE STORY TRUE?

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 19, 1914

A mysterious woman in black is causing considerable discussion in Wood River. There are few who really believe that there is a woman in black who takes her stand nightly at 12 o'clock on the corner of the Wood River school, apparently waiting for someone, and then when no one appears, leaves as mysteriously as she came, but the story has gained considerable circulation. Marshal J. T. Phipps is one of those who claims to believe the story. He said he watched her Friday night last, and followed her to a certain house, but he will say nothing further about it. A party of foreigners claim to have lain in wait for the woman in black Saturday night and watched her disappear. Real serious minded persons, who profess to know the truth of the matter, say that the story was started by anxious parents who wanted to scare their children so that they would get in at nights by the time the curfew bell rang, and if anyone saw a woman in black it was probably some woman going home at a late hour from the interurban car.

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JINX OF METAL BOX IS LAID - OBJECT WHICH BRINGS BAD LUCK SUNK IN THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 25, 1916

You aren't asked to believe all this. It happened. The Telegraph doesn't attempt to explain it, merely relates facts. Mark Twain said the reason fact is stranger than fiction, is that fiction must stick to the realms of possibility and fact doesn't. So here's the tale:  An old metal box was sunk in the Mississippi river off Fluent's dock last night, in the hope that it would lay the jinx that has followed the possessor of the box. A long series of misfortunes and accidents had afflicted the possessor and his family, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Silk of 1312 State street. Ever since the box had come into the possession of the couple a few years ago when Mrs. Silk was sailing for America from her home in England, the jinx that seems to have haunted other possessors of the box has followed them. It was like a moving picture scenario, and the tale that goes with the burial of the box, and the attempt to lay the evil spirit that seems to have been at work is quite entertaining. The Silks were unwilling to part with the box, though they did believe it must have something to do with their troubles, so a party of seven of their friends raided the Silk home Tuesday evening, disguised like Ku Klux Klan members, and they adroitly managed to get the box out of the house without the knowledge of the couple. Then, when the Silks were told the box was gone, they found it was just as well to give their consent as they could no longer help themselves, and they joined the party that went to the river and weighting the box with bricks and rocks, consigned it with mystic ceremonies to the deep water off the Fluent dock, where it would never more disturb anyone.  The story that goes with the box is a chapter of misfortunes. Years ago it was the trunk in which a young man carried his traveling outfit. Two young Englishmen started out in search of adventure. One carried the box to hold his clothes. They found the adventure they sought and then some. They fell in with some cannibals, the story goes, and while one escaped with his companion's tin box and clothes, the owner of the box was killed and eaten by the cannibals, at least that was the story told when the survivor of the adventurous party went back home to England to die. The box fell into the hands of the mother of Mrs. Silk, and when Mrs. Silk was starting for America a few years ago, her mother packed some articles in the box and included it in the baggage of the Silk family. Mrs. Silk had no thought of the troubles that were to follow. Mr. Silk has been here about two years, with no unusual calamities attending his stay until the box started with his wife across the ocean. Then troubles began to come thick and fast. Mrs. Silk had painted the box over with white enamel to obliterate the name of the unfortunate victim of the cannibals. That, it is supposed, is where the jinx began to be malignant. Mrs. Silk was hurt on the ship while coming across. About the same time Mr. Silk, in Alton, had an accident which might have been fatal, but he came through safely. Mrs. Silk was put off the train at Springfield by mistake, coming to Alton, and while sitting in the station all night she was robbed by two men. A few days after she arrived in Alton, Mr. Silk nearly lost his eyesight by the blowing up of some babbitt metal in the engine room of the Sparks mill where he is assistant engineer. At little later the end of one of his fingers was pinched off and four times since then he has had that finger operated upon. Mrs. Silk was sent to the hospital for a surgical operation for appendicitis and a few weeks ago she fell and sprained her ankle. Mr. Silk stepped on a spike recently and injured his foot very bad, and later was attacked by two firemen and beaten severely. It was no wonder that when the Ku Klux Klan friends of the Silk family invaded their home Tuesday night, and made demands for the box, that it required no very lengthy persuading to secure the Silk family's consent. The party of seven stormed the house in the basement where Mr. and Mrs. Silk were, and forced the door when Mr. Silk tried to bar them. Disguised, they presented a written demand for the box, and Mr. Silk demurred. While a controversy was going on, three of the men eluded the Silks, mounted to the top story of the house, found the box and carried it out and hid it in a garden a block away. Then they came back, and by that time Mr. Silk had decided to yield to the Ku Klux Klan invaders of his home. He went to the attic to get the box and could not find it. Then the Klansmen told him what they had done and he consented to complete the program. In the automobile of W. E. Harlow, district manager of the International Correspondence Schools, who organized the party, the whole crowd with the Silks went to the river front. They walked out on the Fluent dock, and there the burial of the box beneath the waves of the Father of Waters took place. It was a solemn event, and when the box was released every member of the party felt sure that as it disappeared below the water, the jinx of the Silk family was laid, or would connect up with anyone who would recover the box from the water. Then the party returned to the Silk home and had a good time. It had been planned to do all this on Halloween, but as Mr. Silk works nights that week, the time set for the surprise raid on his metal box was anticipated a week.

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COULD THIS BE ONE OF THE GHOSTS AT THE MINERAL SPRINGS HOTEL IN ALTON?

 

Much has been discussed regarding the possible ghosts of the Mineral Springs Hotel in Alton.  "Legend" has it that there are three ghosts that haunt the corridors and rooms of the old hotel. One is said to be an itinerant artist who was unable to pay his hotel bill, and offered instead to paint a mural of the city of Alton to pay his bill. The mural was never finished. His ghost apparently haunts the former hotel bar, which is now an antique store today.

 

Another supposed ghost is one who haunts the hotel swimming pool. The story is that one of the couples staying at the hotel had a volatile relationship, and the husband flirted and danced with a number of young women until his wife, in a fit of anger, hit him in the face with her shoe, causing him to collide with one of the columns next to the pool and fall into the water. The husband drowned. His ghost is supposedly seen standing near the side of the pool, angry and brooding over his untimely death.

 

The most famous reported ghost is the legendary "Jasmine Lady." According to the story, the lady was a guest of the hotel and had become involved romantically with another guest. Her husband caught her in the affair. In the course of the violent encounter with her husband, she ran away, somehow falling down a staircase and breaking her neck. Her pungent Jasmine perfume still scents the air to this day, so some say.

 

In my research, I have been keeping an eye out for any proof of a death at the Mineral Springs Hotel, to attribute the haunting to. The only one I have found thus far, is the suicide of L. M. Harwood, an implement dealer from Carrollton. In his suicide note, he stated that he had been sick for five years and could not recover, and felt he was about to die anyway. He shot himself with a pistol. This suicide was committed in the hotel bar. Could this be the ghost which haunts the former hotel bar?  You decide.....      

~Beverly Bauser, Madison County Coordinator

 

HARWOOD, L. M./Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 15, 1916         Carrollton Man Ends Life At Mineral Springs Hotel
L. M. Harwood, an implement dealer at Carrollton and Kane until a few years ago, and well known in Alton, took his own life in the bar room at the Mineral Springs Hotel Wednesday morning. In two notes he left he stated that he had tried to "come back" and had failed. He also intimated that there were some other reasons for ending his life, but he stated these were no one's business. Very little concerning his family connections are known at Alton. He had visited here from time to time and came to Alton yesterday. He spent Tuesday night at the Mineral Springs Hotel. In the morning before leaving the hotel, he told the clerk, E. M. Reed, that he was not certain whether he would need a room for the night or not. He said, "I might want a room tonight, and if I do I'll be back for it." A little later a shot was fired in the bar. It was heard all over the hotel. There was a moaning sound for a few minutes and Harwood was dead. He had entered the bar room from the street and after seating himself in the first booth, had pulled a gun and some papers from his pocket. He placed the papers on the table and then put the gun to his breast and fired. Robert Spence, the bartender, was the only one who witnessed the shooting. William Banks, who was mopping out the bar room at the time, heard the shot but he did not see the man end his life. Harwood fell forward on his face and by the time people rushed from other parts of the hotel he was almost dead. He never spoke again. One of the notes he left contained the names of a list of friends in Alton. Some of these on the list stated that he was a man about 50 years of age, and that they had known him as being engaged in business in Carrollton and Kane up until a few years ago. He was said to have a wife and two children and some hinted that family troubles might have been part of the cause for his act. The note he left explaining the cause for his act read as follows: "To Patriot and Gazette (Newspapers at Carrollton): Just a Word. I have been sick for the greater part of the time for five years. I have tried to come back but I can't quite do it. Then why should I stick around in the way? You will say, "He was a coward." Just sit around contemplating something of the kind for a month or two at a time and see. If there are any other reasons for the act, it is no one's business. Yours truly, L. M. Harwood." The other piece of paper contained information that would help the Alton authorities get him identified. It read: "L. M. Harwood, Carrollton, Ill. Just to get out of my misery. Notify S. E. Simpson and Co., undertakers, Carrollton, Ill. People in Alton that can readily identify me are Dr. Bowman, Pink Bowman, Bird Ashlock, Jess Staples, barber, H. V. Green with Anheuser-Busch." The body was turned over at once to Deputy Coroner John Berner, and was taken to the C. J. Jacoby undertaking rooms where an inquest was held. An effort was made at once to get in touch with some of his relatives or friends at Carrollton. A telegram was sent to the wife this morning and she answered that she would come at once to take care of the body of the husband.
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"SPOOK" MYSTERY IS EXPLAINED

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 24, 1917

A new kind of "ghost" scared the residents of Clifton Terrace stiff night before last, and "fear and trembling" hung around the vicinity as thick as smoke clouds from a tar kiln in action. The "what is it?" was in the field of Nelson Keidell, a prominent farmer in the neighborhood between the Melville Church and Clifton, and it moved in circles. It carried a light, or else was ablaze with fire, started down in the bad place of course, the frightened folk thought, and there was a sound of chains, rattling or iron striking against irons or something similar to that, and this confirmed the belief that the devil had sent one of his imps onto the earth for some evil purpose. According to the Telegraph's informant, the entire neighborhood was aroused and alarmed. The time was between 9 and 10 o'clock at night and no well regulated ghost with an honest purpose could possibly be abroad, they thought. No one would volunteer to go to the field and find out either, everyone being perfectly willing to let George do it. George wouldn't do it, so Mayor Wil Gradolph, after vainly trying to enlist some volunteers to go with him, struck out for the circling light himself. The racket increased as he approached, and his legs began losing their marrow and their stiffness and threatened to collapse. Once or twice his legs turned his feet in the other direction and tried to run away with his body, but he managed to overcome that and slowly approached the light. He found a little boy carrying a lantern in front of a team of horses and the team was pulling a heavy harrow, with Mr. Keidell himself driving the team. Mayor Gradolph gave a shout of joy, and then others came up. Mr. Keidell explained that he had sown clover seed on a circular piece of ground in the afternoon, while the thaw was on, and after supper as he feared a heavy freeze during the night, he concluded it was the best thing to do to get out in the field and cover up as many of the clover seeds as possible before the earth was frozen solid under them. There was a glad crowd present after the mystery was solved, and folks managed to get a good night's sleep - something they thought was impossible an hour before. The noises were made by the iron teeth of the harrow bumping over the clods, as the team was traveling pretty fast, and the little boy in front carrying the lantern was exceeding the speed limit to keep out of the way of the horses.

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FIVE DEATHS IN FAMILY AFTER WOMAN HAD SAME DREAM

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 5, 1917

Mrs. Carrie Taylor of Edwardsville, who yesterday entered a St. Louis hospital to undergo an operation, declared that the death of her husband last week in a railroad accident was the fifth death in her family to occur after a dream. The dream each time presented to her a scene depicting the narrow escape from drowning of her son, Marion Dickinson, aged 19. Each time the mother in her vision rescued the boy. The first time she dreamed this, another son died shortly afterward. Several years later the vision came to her again and within a month her twins died. A year ago it was followed a telegram announcing the death of Taylor's father at Cuba, Mo. Two weeks ago Mrs. Taylor arose one morning and announced that the dream had come to her once more. The doctors had told her she must go to a hospital for an operation, and she was sure that her death was the one indicated. She ordered a casket and shroud, and had her will written. Last Wednesday her husband died.

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SEQUEL TO BLACK BOX BURIAL

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 16, 1917

A year ago the Telegraph told a story of how Charles Silk had resolved to do away with a jinx that had followed him for a long time, by disposing of a little box which had come into his possession after its former possessors had come into all sorts of bad luck. At dead of night, a party of friends raided the Silk home, took charge of the box and made off to the river with it, where the friends sunk the box in deep water, using rocks to weight it down. Mr. Silk was required by his friends to accompany the party to the scene of the burial. It has turned out since that, Mr. Silk was doing well when he got rid of the box, for the jinx went with it. Since then he has had nothing but the best of luck. In the party who buried the box were some visitors in the city, in all five women. It is interesting to notice that beside the fact that fortune has smiled on the others of the party, with one exception, it has smiled on the Silk family. In the year since the box was buried, the Silks have bought a house that pleases them greatly; they have had nothing but good luck; and to cap the climax, a son was born to Mr. and Mrs. Silk, their youngest child being six years old prior to the birth of this baby. And still more luck - the stork has visited three others of the women who attended the sinking of the box, and they have had other signs of approval of fate. The one family represented at the ceremony of the sinking of the box in the river have had good fortune in the shape of health and happiness and increased business for the head of the house.

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FORTUNE TELLERS DOING BIG BUSINESS - WAR IS BIG HELP - PREDICTS EARLY END OF WAR

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 12, 1918

Licensed and unlicensed fortune tellers and card readers have been causing a great deal of trouble in Alton among families and sweethearts and an effort is to be made to prevent the women from plying their trade. Recently as a result of a visit to a reader of cards, a young wife with one child suffered a complete estrangement from her husband. In many cases the readers or fortune tellers are ignorant and work on the minds of their visitors until they worm from them their troubles, either real or imaginary, and then proceed to fill them up with more tales of troubles which will come in the future. A woman went to the home of a card reader on Carroll street at State last week to have her fortune told, and came away fully disgusted with the method of procedure used. The door was opened by a man who was asked if woman who told fortunes resided there. He answered that they did not call it fortune telling, but rather reading cards. He called his wife, who was asked what she charged for reading the cards. She told her visitors that she did not have a price, as she was unlicensed. Fearful, however, that her visitors would not pay her some money, she remarked that surely people would not come and take up her time without giving her some return. The price of 50 cents was agreed upon, although the woman would not set a price. "The war will be over in another month," was one of the startling predictions that she made. She admitted that she did not have a license to practice in Alton. She proceeded to draw her visitor out as to her love affairs. To see what the reader would find in the cards her visitor told of her anxiety for her lover in France. The reader, speaking in the past, told of the visitor having been proposed to and how her fiance wished to marry before going abroad, and how through fickleness his fiance refused to be married. She told of how he had been wounded since going to France, where he was an officer; how the wound, merely a flesh wound, was healing and that he would be home to eat Thanksgiving dinner. She said that he had sent a package to his fiance and that letter would follow. She also told of money matters and real estate being cause of trouble between the two. At the conclusion of the visit the reader asked her visitor if she was satisfied with what she had learned, and was told that she was. The visit furnished untold amusement inasmuch as the girl had no sweetheart in France, and had not had trouble with any fiance regarding real estate before he went away. The reader was happy in that she had made her visitor see what was in store for her. The reader said, on the leave taking, that it was strange how well she could tell the past, present and future of others, while no one was ever able to tell her anything about her past or future life.

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GOOSE VISITS GRAVE OF DEAD MASTER

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 1, 1919

Here is a human interest story from the St. Charles Cosmos-Monitor. The Telegraph printed a story about the goose and Mr. Blankenship several weeks ago, and this will add a new chapter: "It will be remembered that several weeks ago just before the death of Marcellous Blankenship of Portage Des Sioux, that the Cosmos-Monitor published a little article about the actions of a pet goose that he owned, and how the goose hunted for him on the streets of Portage and visited his room after he was confined to his bed. Since the death of Mr. Blankenship the goose roams the streets in Portage and its squawking appears to be calling its master. The goose will wander down to the cemetery five blocks from the house and take a stand on Mr. Blankenship's grave and appears to know that his body is resting beneath the sod there. The goose will no longer remain at the home where Mr. Blankenship made a pet of him, but puts in its time roaming over the town. It seems to never find contentment."

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GHOSTS AT THE ALTON JAIL - HAS JOHN BARLEYCORN RETURNED?

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 30, 1919

Ghosts have been reported at the Alton city jail. Only one man has spent a night in the jail in the past month, and it is feared that on account of its not being used, that ghosts have taken charge of the jail part of the city hall building. According to those who have been in that part of the city hall building, it would be a good place for ghosts as no one else could live there. Many suggestions have been ordered as to what the ghosts might be, but the mystery still remains unsolved. The suggestion has been offered that perhaps it is the ghost of the late John Barleycorn, returning to play in his former domains. Before his death John was a frequent visitor in the Alton city jail. Deskman Henry Kremer tells of the ghost story. He says that he went into the jail recently, and as he opened the door in the back of the door, he heard a rattling of irons in the back, much the same as when prisoners were kept in the jail. At first he believed it was the heat that was affecting him that way, but he entered the jail. As he was standing near one of the big old-fashioned iron cell doors, it rattled as if someone from the inside were shaking it and trying to get out. In its sixty years, the Alton jail has held many notorious criminals. Those people who believe in ghosts might think that it was one of these whose soul had cursed the night he spent in the Alton jail and had returned in spirit to haunt the jail of a city that would maintain such a place. The other city officials are not worrying about ghosts in other parts of the building. "It is old enough, and it is falling to pieces fast enough," said one of the city officials, "but that is no reason why we should believe it is haunted. No ghosts have been reported in this part of the building."

 

[Editor's note:  According to Wikipedia.org, "'John Barleycorn' is an English folksong. The character of John Barleycorn in the song is a personification of the important cereal crop barley, and of the alcoholic beverages made from it, beer and whisky. In the song, John Barleycorn is represented as suffering attacks, death, and indignities that correspond to the various stages of barley cultivation, such as reaping and malting."]  Early English version of the song:

There was three men come out o' the west their fortunes for to try,
And these three men made a solemn vow, John Barleycorn must die,
They plowed, they sowed, they harrowed him in, throwed clods upon his head,
And these three men made a solemn vow, John Barleycorn was dead.

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COMFORTS OF HOME, SAYS CONAN DOYLE [I know this doesn't pertain to Madison County, but I thought you'd find this interesting.]

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 20, 1921

London (AP) - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes and one of the leading spiritualists in England, describes heaven as a place with all the comforts of home. In a church address, he said: "In heaven, all old people will become young, and the young will grow to adult age. When I am there, I will have my books, my wife and my children with me. We will have about us the things we love." Discussing spirit communications, Sir Arthur said he had been in direct communication with the dead, voice to voice, on twenty-one occasions. The writer declared he had spoken to his own son, who spoke in his natural voice, a year after the latter's death. He asserted he had also seen his mother, who happened to him in a cloak of red light.

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