The farm house in Mercer County, Aledo, Illinois has been known to have the closet door open when it is latched, and have the pull-chain light in the attic turn on by itself. No matter the time of day, the activity occurs randomly.
John Hart Crenshaw was an entrepreneur in the salt mining industry during the early 1800s in southern Illinois. Due to the dangers of mining the mineral, he struggled to find labor for his mines. Slavery was illegal in Illinois, but one small loophole in the law made it possible to “lease” slaves; Crenshaw did just this. However, he started kidnapping freed men and women and runaway slaves, either putting them to work in his salt mines or up for sale.
In 1817, John Hart Crenshaw married Sinia Taylor, and started building her a better home in the 1830s. He names the three-story mansion Hickory Hill. Unbeknownst the outside world, however, was a secret passageway that allowed for wagons to bring slaves directly into the house, as well as a tunnel that connected the basement to the Saline River to unload slaves brought by boat.
Fort De Chartes was built in 1756 for King Louis XV, though he never actually got a chance to use it. The fort’s first paranormal encounter was in 1889, and the last one to be reported was in 1989. On every July 4th that falls on a Friday, a ghostly funeral procession begins between 11:00 PM and midnight. The procession includes around forty wagons, twenty-six soldiers on horseback, and a casket laying flat on a wagon. It is believed that the body is of a prominent person who was murdered. The next July 4th that is a Friday is in 2014.
Years ago, road work was being done around Fort Dearborn. The workers unearthed bodies that dated back to the early 1800s. Ever since, there have been reports of apparitions of pioneers and settlers.
Archer Avenue (also called Archer Road) is located outside of the Chicago, Illinois city limits that runs between Chicago’s Chinatown and Lockport, Illinois. It was named for William Beatty Archer, the first commissioner of the Illinois and Michigan Canal. A map of Chicago from around 1830 listed the road that later became Archer Avenue as “The Road to Widow Brown’s”.
In July, 1865, the Roff family purchased the property that would become most associated with the Watseka Wonder story. It was during that same month that Mary Roff (the daughter of Asa Roff) died. Years later in July, 1877, the Vennum family lived in the house next to the Roff’s, and the paranormal activity began.
The Ovaltine Factory was abandoned some time during the 20th century (most likely during the 1960s). In the late 70s and early 80s, the factory had become a popular hangout for teenagers looking to party. During this time, it was also used by the homeless and satanic worship rituals for occult groups.
The Ashmore Estates has been haunted for several years, and it was off-limits to the public for twenty years. For a long while (from 1987 to 2006), the building was abandoned. Built in 1916, the three-story brick building was built on the Country Poor Farm. The residents that lived there had little to nothing in their possession. The home remained a poor farm until 1956, when the house was transformed into a center for the mentally disabled.
Peoria State Hospital (which has also operated under the names “Bartonville State Hospital,” “Peoria Asylum,” the “Illinois General Hospital for the Insane,” and the “Illinois Asylum for the Incurable Insane”) opened as an insane asylum operated by the State of Illinois from 1902 until 1973. The asylum has a total of 47 buildings on its grounds.
Old Town Tatu, a tattoo parlor in Chicago, Illinois, is said to be one of the most haunted places in the United States. Founder Rich “Tapeworm” Herrerra once instigated a fight with the ghosts that were believed to haunt the parlor, and he challenged them to a fight to the death. Herrerra died just three weeks later in the building.
The building used to be the Klemundt Funeral Parlor in the 1920s (some records say it was the funeral parlor in the 1880s). The ghosts of the bodies who came through the funeral parlor as well as Herrerra are known to haunt Old Town Tatu. Herrerra’s friends have reported feeling his presence.
Located on North Main Street in Decatur, Illinois, the Lincoln Theater is one of two grand theaters still standing in the city today. Opening in 1916 with a massive stage and a large number of seats, it featured high balconies, mezzanines, basements, and sub-cellars. Prior to the theater’s construction, it was the site of the Priest Hotel.
In 1860, W.S. Crissey opened the Priest Hotel, even despite it was owned and operated by Franklin Priest. Twenty years later, the building was taken over by Riley Deming, who renamed it “New Deming”. It was purchased by Augustine Wait in 1892, and she renamed the hotel “the Arcade Hotel”.
In 1900, he remodelled and expanded it, and again renamed it – this time calling it the Decatur & Arcade Hotel However, a horrible fire broke out in 1904 that destroyed the building. The hotel was rebuilt on the same spot only a short while later. On April 21st, yet another fire raged through the hotel, this time killing two people and damaging the adjacent buildings.
The fire is believed to have been caused by some oily rags left near the hotel’s boiler, as one of the watchmen found them smouldering, attempted to put them out, but was forced to stop when thick smoke made it impossible to see. The flames quickly spread throughout the rest of the hotel, and the fire department came within minutes.
The hotel was covered with smoke so thickly that firefighters could not enter, and they were forced to simply pump water on the building since they could not see the flames. By the time it was extinguished, nothing but ruins remained. The neighboring structures, the Bachman Bros. & Marine Co. furniture store, the YMCA, the First Presbyterian Church, and the Odd Fellows Building, were salvaged, but part of the hotel’s wall had collapsed onto the furniture store, though not much was lost.
The sole casualties were that of William E. Grahm, an engineer from the Decatur Bridge Co., and C.S. Guild, a traveling salesman from New York. They were the only bodies found in the wreckage, though it is assumed that there were other victims in the blaze, as the guests were never found.
The already-devastating fire could have been much worse, though, if it were not for the rain that helped extinguish it. The hotel was never rebuilt, and the Lincoln Theater was built in its place. However, the spirits of those who died in the fire still haunt the grounds even though the hotel is gone.
Since the initial disaster, Decatur has suffered from a large number of fires, and several buildings have been destroyed because of them. Designers of the theater made it “absolutely fireproof”, being aware of the danger fire held in the town. Built in 1916 by Clarence Wait, the Lincoln Theater’s plans were designed by Aschauer & Waggoner, an architectural firm. The firm also designed the adjacent buildings, such as the Odd Fellows Lodge and seven small stores on Main Street.
The grand opening for the theater was on October 27th, 1916, which attracted some of Decatur’s finer citizens. The first show present at the theater was George M. Cohan’s stage comedy called Hit the Trail Holliday, which starred Frank Otto. Speeches by Clarence Wait and Mayor Dan Dineen were given that night as well. Guests said that each of the 1,346 seats delivered a great view and incredible sound.
During the first years of the Lincoln Theater, it was used for stage shows, vaudeville, local productions, and Decatur High School graduations and plays. Several famed actors and actresses appeared at the theater as well, including Ethel Barrymore, Al Jolson, Ed Wynn, and Jeanette McDonald.
One of the ghosts that is said to haunt the theater is known as “Red”, who supposedly worked in the backstage of the theater. Although he seemed happy with his job, he actually wanted to be an actor himself. His life came to a tragic end when he fell off a catwalk during one of the shows and hit the stage, horrifying the audience. Now, visitors have claimed seeing and/or hearing Red. Sightings include odd shadows above the stage, whispering, or seeing his misty apparition.