There are many ghost stories and lore in the Chicagoland area. Many of these stories are recorded in books concerning area ghosts. Chicago is not unique; most places have their recognized local haunts. Every city seems to have books about their “locals”. However, by the time these stories become popularized I suspect the ghosts are long gone. Hauntings don’t last forever.
Take the story of Resurrection Mary, which is the classic hitchhiker ghost. There may have been something real to this story long ago but it’s unlikely the spirit still wanders the streets looking for a ride. These popularly known stories soon get told and retold with embellishments added that they soon enter into the realm of modern folklore and urban myth. When “haunted” places are stops on ghost tours, we can be sure nothing remains to scare us.
Where are the current “live” ghosts? Are they all gone? Few current ghosts get any recognition. Perhaps we are just smarter now and less gullible. Are all known hauntings now debunked? I suspect ghosts are still all around but remain unrecognized. Perhaps in the 21st century our attention span has diminished with so many distractions. It would take something really dramatic to get noticed and ghostly phenomena are subtle at best.
Chicago area ghost enthusiasts have many useful references for local ghost lore. One book I recommend is Chicago Haunts by Ursula Bielski. I even have an autographed copy I bought long ago at a book signing. This past Halloween there was a local television show about area ghosts shown on a public TV station. It was “Hauntings of Chicago” hosted by author Ursala Bielski. Below is this show in two parts. It is not comprehensive, and deals with the past, but is worth a view.
This Tiny Island in Maine Is One Horror Story After the Next
What could be so scary about an island just barely off-shore? There’s no space for grass, trees, or any other plant life trying to break through the craggy terrain of Boon Island, just six short miles off the southeast coast of Maine. The sight of mainland’s shore—easily visible from the island—is perhaps the most frightening feature of the watery pile of granite that snares sailors like flies in a spider’s web. Marooned just a stone’s throw distance from civilization could drive anyone to madness or gruesome means of survival. Boon Island has seen all that and more.
Boon Island is older than colonial America, its recorded “discovery” dating back to at least 1682, when the trading vessel Increase wrecked against its rocky peaks. The four survivors, three white men and a Native American, survived by eating fish and gull’s eggs. Bitter cold and violent, the breaking waves of the Atlantic kept the survivors firmly in place until a month later, eyes trained on the mainland shore, they watched smoke curling over Mount Agamenticus. Quickly, the sailors built their own fire as a signal.
Native Americans, for the millionth time in history, graciously came to the rescue of the white men seeking to loot the land. Boon Island’s namesake was supposedly born of these survivors—their rescue a “boon granted by God,” though the island and appellation appear in shipping records prior to the Increase’s deliverance under different spellings. The island’s next “boon” would require more than a sacrifice of human life—it would require the surrender of humanity itself.
The British ship Nottingham Galley shipwrecked on Boon Island on December 11, 1710. Fighting starvation and a brutal winter, the few survivors resorted to eating their dead, all the while watching the mainland, just out of reach. Despite their gruesome account upon rescue—and the subsequent practice of local fisherman leaving barrels of provisions on the island for the inevitable use of shipwrecked sailors—it took another 80 years before the erection of a lighthouse. A wooden tower, it survived just 5 years before the brutal Atlantic winter storms took it down, when frothing waves hurled boulders across the bedrock like skipping stones.
A year later, in 1805, the project began anew, this time with stones as foundation for the tower. The three workers tasked with its construction drowned upon their returning sail home—just miles from shore.
Grieving Widow’s Island
The nineteenth century brought many iterations of a lighthouse that would not stand on Boon Island, with many men tasked with keeping the windy, damp rock well-lit. One legend tells of the newly wedded keeper who brought his wife to the island, where he fell ill and died during a nasty squall. Despite her grief, his widow climbed the 168 stairs to light the lamp for the remaining days of the storm.
When mainlanders noticed the tower going unlit, they voyaged to the island to investigate. There, they found her deranged with grief and wandering the rocks in hysterics. Though she made it back to mainland, she died just a few short weeks after her return.
The Coast Guard keepers who maintained the tower in the 20th century tell of “a sad faced young woman shrouded in white” who haunts Boon Island. Local lore supposes she is the ghost of the mistress of the captain of the Nottingham Galley, while others (rightly) claim she is the widow, returned to the island in search of her fallen husband. Bob Roberts, who worked as a Coast Guard keeper in the 1970s, frequented the island and described “strange events” that he couldn’t explain:
“One time, [Roberts] and fellow crewman Bob Edwards were off the island fishing, and they drifted too far from the island to make it back in time to turn the light on before dark. There wasn’t a person on the island, but somehow the light was glowing brightly by the time the keepers returned. On other occasions [Roberts] and others heard doors mysteriously opening and closing. When we would go to turn on the fog signal, he felt as if ‘someone was watching.’”
On another occasion, Coast Guardsman Dave Wells was doing routine maintenance on the tower when his Labrador retriever became spooked. The dog “chased something from one end of the island to the other and back again.” There was nothing he could see, though the dog continued its hunt.
“We figured the island must be haunted, but nothing ever bothered us,” says Wells.
In the 20th and 21st century, the lighthouse changed ownership almost as many times as it replaced its keepers. In 1978, when an ocean storm launched boulders across the granite island, the two men who would be the island’s final keepers narrowly escaped a stormy death in the tower. The roiling sea damaged the fuel tanks, helicopter pad, generator building, boathouse, and boat launch. It was finally decided that the station should be automated.
In 2012, Boon Island Lighthouse was put up for sale by the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000 to “eligible federal, state and local agencies, non-profit corporations, educational agencies, and community development organizations to be used for educational recreation, cultural or historic preservation purposes,” but no one bid for the accursed tower—cultural posterity be damned. Online auction of the tower brought a bid by a real estate developer for $78,000, who somehow managed to flip it. The current owner, Boon Island LLC, is registered in Wilmington, Delaware, and Boon Island and its lighthouse sit abandoned and watchful, providing automated light flashes to passing ships and a strange gravitational pull to sailors who try to pass it.
There are no tours of the lighthouse. The only way to explore the lighthouse is arriving by air or sea, but do yourself a favor and enjoy it while you remain firmly planted on the mainland.
Gorgeous Haunted Houses and their Haunted Histories
Stately Southern mansions, vibrant Victorians and even well-cared for Colonials can harbor undead inhabitants and boast spine-tingling tales of ghosts, murder and intrigue. Read on to learn about five of America’s loveliest yet most haunted houses below.
The Winchester Mystery House
Winchester Mystery House, Copyright Winchester Mystery House
The House of the Seven Gables
Bogdan Oporowski/Wiki Commons
Learn More: Visit Myrtles Plantation
5 Most Common Signs that you’re living in a Haunted House
Do you have a strange and eerily feeling that you could be living in a haunted house? Do you hear footsteps, whispers, screams, and moans when no one is around? Do you feel that someone is watching you from behind? In this article, we will provide you the 5 most common signs that can help you determine if your house is haunted.
According to the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena (ASSAP), there are signs that you need to consider if you feel you’re living in a haunted house. We will discuss these signs below and you can use them as a guide to find out if ghosts, demons, and other unknown entities live in your house.
5 Signs that your Home could be Haunted
Electronics and Lights Turn On and Off
Ghosts and spirits tend to like lights and electronics. One of the most common signs that you’re living in a Haunted House is the unexplainable on and off electronics and lights.
If you’re happily watching a TV program and suddenly your TV flickers on without you touching the remote control, this could be a sign that there’s a ghost in the living room. However, before you conclude that the there’s a ghost in your house, make sure to check if your TV is in excellent condition. To confirm if some unknown entity is turning on and off the lights or electronics in your home, you must experience it fairly often. You should also check if your appliances and light cables are not malfunctioning. If everything is in the perfect state and you still experience the lights and electronics turning on and off by themselves, then that’s a definite sign of a haunting.
Persistent Baffling Noises and Movement
Based on personal accounts of people who once lived in alleged haunted houses, moving objects, doors banging, footsteps echoing, whispering and screaming are widespread haunting occurrences. If you suspect your house is haunted, you should hear subtle or even loud unexplainable noises. You should also see objects moving on their own. If you see and hear these things in your place, then there’s no doubt that you’re living in a haunted house.
Sometimes you might not see moving furniture or objects in your house. You might only hear the hinges of your door swinging and upon checking, your door is securely closed. You can also discover a door that was supposed to be closed, but upon inspection, it’s wide open.
For the spooky noises, you can hear screams or someone whispering behind you. These can happen any time of the day, regardless of what you do in your house.
An actual encounter with ghosts, spirits or unknown creatures and entities are strong pieces of evidence that your house is haunted. Ghostly apparitions are common to alleged haunted houses as stated by paranormal investigators or people with sixth sense or third eye. However, seeing actual ghosts for ordinary humans like us is a rare phenomenon, so if you see a floating silhouette or a misty entity in your house, that’s a solid proof of a haunting.
Ghosts can take many forms. They can look like normal human beings or just an unrecognizable cloudy and misty shape. They can also appear and disappear in a matter of a few seconds. Also, they can lurk around your house whenever they wish to. You can see them in a mirror or pass through a solid wall. Some of them might be harmless, but other ghosts are in evil or demonic state. Therefore, once you see an actual ghost, it’s best to ask from a religious group, or paranormal authorities.
Feelings of being touched and watched
Feelings of being watched and touched are also common signs that indicate your house is haunted. If you feel like someone is looking at you in a particular area in your home at a specific time, this could only mean a haunting phenomenon.
On the other hand, feelings of being touched are one of the strongest indicators that there’s a spirit or unknown entity in your home. You can feel a light brush on your skin or a tap on your shoulder. You can also experience serious physical assaults, like scratches, slaps or hard push. This kind of touch is quite disturbing, and you should consider leaving your house right away to prevent any serious injuries.
Temperature Fluctuations from Too Hot or Too Cold
Changes in temperature from to hot or too cold is one of the most common signs that you’re living in a Haunted house. If an area in your house becomes too hot or too cold for no reason, and you feel some heavy or chilling atmosphere, then you’re most likely living with a supernatural being. However, a hot temperature is not as ordinary as the cold temperature occurrence in haunted houses.
In the paranormal world, the changes in cold temperature is called cold spots. Cold spots are areas in your house that you’ll feel an extremely chilly feeling and you’ll likely have goosebumps.
Other signs that indicates you’re living in a haunted house includes peculiar pet behavior, disappearing object phenomenon, and inexplicable shadows. One of the worst sign that we hope you wouldn’t encounter is the body possession. This means, a spirit has taken over your body.
If any of the above signs are present in your home, make sure you consult paranormal experts and your religious sect. They can help you in getting rid of the ghosts or spirits. They can also help cleanse your home from evil entities. In addition, we advise you that before you buy a house, do some research on the house history and previous owners. These are sometimes the key to unexplainable haunting activities in your home.
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