I live quite close to an amazing abandoned mental asylum, the Peoria State Hospital. You say "haunted mental asylum", and your mind automatically goes all American Horror Story on you, and you assume that there was pain, and fear, and abuse. It is my privilege, and my great joy, to tell people about the true history of this particular asylum. This was a place of safety for the patients, a place where they could find help and refuge from the confusing world outside. Early on, a patient was brought to the Peoria State Hospital because he'd had a nervous breakdown at work. His breakdown was so total that he was rendered mute, unable to tell the intake nurses his name. All anyone knew about him was that he had worked in a factory, binding books. His name, therefore, was written down in the intake ledger as A. Manual Bookbinder. He became known familiarly as "Old Book". Bookbinder was encouraged, as were all the able-bodied inmates, to find useful work to do at the asylum to keep his mind and body occupied. It became Book's duty to care for the cemeteries on the hilltop. This included grave digging detail. At the first funeral Book attended, he was standing next to the grave, and his shoulders began to hitch. Tears leaked from his eyes and tracked silently down his cheeks. A sob escaped him, and he walked over to the large elm tree that stood in the middle of the cemetery. There, he leaned against the trunk of the tree and wailed, crying as if his heart was breaking. When the short service was over, he collected himself and came back to fill in the grave. Old Book did this at every funeral he attended, and he attended every funeral that was held on the hilltop. Once, when he was ill, he saw a hearse passing by, with a body that was destined to be put on the train to be returned to a family for burial in a family plot. Book became quite agitated at the thought that he might be missing the chance to wail at a funeral, and Dr. Zeller, the superintendent, had to quickly assure him that the body was headed elsewhere, and not to a hilltop grave. Old Book became such a fixture at asylum funerals that he became an urban legend of sorts. If a patient felt that they were on their deathbed, they would snag a passing nurse and request, "Please make sure Old Book cries for me, else I won't get into Heaven." In 1910, Old Book himself passed away. (He may have died of tuberculosis, but there was also a pellagra epidemic raging through the asylum at the time, so that may have been the cause of his death.) Old Book was a well-known and well-loved character at the asylum, so his funeral was very well attended. What happened next comes to us from the memoirs of Dr. Zeller himself. He said that the mourners had just finished singing Rock of Ages, and were preparing to lower Book's coffin into the grave. Four men grabbed the ends of the ropes that were slung under the coffin, and heaved to lift it so the boards underneath could be slid out. The coffin, though, bounced up into the air as if it weighed no more than an eggshell. And just at that moment, everyone in attendance heard a wailing and crying coming from the Graveyard Elm. They turned in horror to look -- and there was the ghost of Old Book, leaning against the tree in his accustomed place, moaning and carrying on as if his heart was breaking. Astonished nurses fell to their knees, or scrambled to get away. Dr. Zeller ordered the coffin opened. Someone grabbed a crowbar and jimmied the lid off. As soon as the coffin lid was raised, the wailing stopped, the phantom vanished -- and there lay Old Book, in his coffin. He was undeniably dead. Dr. Zeller wrote, "It was awful, but it was real. I saw it. One hundred nurses and three hundred spectators saw it." The story of Old Book doesn't end there. After about six weeks, the old elm tree started to die. Workers poured buckets of water on it -- no one wanted to see Old Book's tree go -- but the tree kept on dropping leaves, and soon it was obvious that the tree was dying. Dr. Zeller was a very safety-conscious guy, he didn't want a limb coming down and injuring someone, so he sent a work crew out to chop the tree down. The crew came back less than an hour later, with a terrifying tale. They said that at the first stroke of the axe, they'd heard a wailing coming from the trunk of the old elm -- a wailing that sounded a lot like the voice of Old Book. Dr. Zeller sent out a fire crew to burn the tree down. The crew piled kindling around the dying tree's trunk, poured a bit of kerosene on it to get it going, and touched the match to it. But in the smoke that began to curl up, they swore they saw the face of Old Book, drawn with sadness. And in the crackling of the flames, they heard Book's sorrowful cries. They threw water on the flames and came running back to Dr. Zeller, saying they didn't want any part of destroying Book's tree. So the old tree was allowed to die on its own. And legend has it that when the tree did finally fall, it fell right between the rows of gravestones, and didn't damage a single stone as it fell. Groundskeepers rolled the carcass of the big tree into the ravine that borders Cemetery Two, where it returned to the earth, just as Old Book had done. Is it a cool story? Darn right. Is it true? Well ... okay, no, it's not. You see, Dr. George Zeller was known to his peers as "the Ruydard Kipling of America". And THE Rudyard Kipling (of England) wrote to Dr. Zeller complimenting him on his short fiction. After Book's death, some supervisors of other institutions began to write to Dr. Zeller, telling him that they'd been hearing of a ghost story being told about his asylum, and was there any truth to the tale? Dr. Zeller eventually gave in and 'fessed up. He wrote a blanket letter, which was published in several journals to which he was a contributor. (It even appeared, oddly enough, in the Journal for Psychical Research, the well-known newsletter for paranormal studies.) In this letter, Dr. Zeller said, in effect, "We have a lot of many wonderful characters at our asylum. Sometimes, some of them make it into my fiction." Was there a patient at the Peoria State Hospital named Manual Bookbinder? Yes, there was. Did he dig graves on the hilltop? Yes, he did. Did he cry at every funeral? Yes, he did. And Dr. Zeller thought that it was a shame that no one would cry at Old Book's funeral. So he made it happen. (I've written a few books about the history and hauntings at the Peoria State Hospital. If anyone's interested, please feel free to check them out on Amazon. Titles include Fractured Spirits, 44 Years in Darkness, and the brand-new book, Fractured Souls.)
My town’s old Paramount Theater (now known as the Paramount Arts Center) has a permanent resident that’s well known throughout the area as Paramount Joe. The story is that a few decades back work was being done on the stage via scaffolding. Joe stayed behind a little to finish up his work as the other workers left one night. The next morning they returned to find he’d fallen from the scaffolding and died on the stage.
Ever since he’s been a prominent presence in the building. He’s well know for turning on the light at the bottom of the basement stairs for female employees (the only location of a switch thus saving them a trip down into the dark) and seems to favor the small cafe/concession area. It’s common practice for visiting performers to leave him autographed pictures which are then hung in the cafe. They were all removed once during a redecoration and replaced with pictures from around town. When the theater opened the next day the new pictures had all been knocked off the walls. I suppose he didn’t want his autographs removed.
I personally haven’t seen Joe but I’ve felt his presence many times in the lobby and cafe, both by myself and with others. While I’m sorry that he’s stuck there I’m glad that he’s appreciated.
Joplin, Missouri was a kinky town that had explosive growth during the late 1800s. The city rose to prominence within the region and was even well known in the wealthiest areas of the country. Fortunes were made mining and smelting lead and zinc and most of that money passed through joplin. There were numerous large and elegant homes and buildings, including the nationally renowned Connor hotel.
Brothels and saloons were everywhere. The Frisco bottoms w as a place that was shunned by all but the worst of people, and police were prohibited from risking their lives down there. Even now, the bottoms is regularly the site of grim discoveries and haunts are seen by some of the fearless few who brave the black of night or a pale moon in search of a thrill.
The Nelson building downtown is rumored to have housed a brothel during these violent, lustful,decadent years. Any brothel that operates for decades will have a tragic history, and the history of the Nelson building is worse than most.
A prostitute who mocked an ore wagon handler was knifed, and rather than expose the deed, she was left in that room and cared for. The miner was dragged to the street and clubbed to death, then the body was abandoned several blocks away near a competing enterprise.
The prostitute, who went by juliet, died days later and she was likely disposed of in the mining operations somewhere.
The hotel changed hands many times, and during the fifties, the owner followed an impulse to decorate the windows. An artist painted pictures in profile on two Windows with black paint. The silhouettes were of a man and a lady in period garb.
To this day, the portraits survive. If the glass becomes damaged, the new glass is also painted.
The room is always lit, the painting are always visible. Several times a year, a passerby will glance up to the window, and find that the murder is being reenacted. A brief struggle will be seen before the window goes dark. When the lights are restored minutes later, the black silhouettes of a lady and a gentleman will have returned.
We gathered the local ghost stories from Floyd County, Virginia and wrote a book about it. What I love the most is when people who have never heard of a place being haunted wind up having the same sorts of experiences there. There’s one house right in the town of Floyd on Old Hensley Road, and the girl that lived there told me of a whole bunch of experiences they had when they rented the house. They would hear someone walking around upstairs when they knew no one was there. The dog wouldn’t go upstairs but would just bark and growl at the base of the staircase. The scariest was when her little sister asked her in the morning, “Who was that man standing over you last night? He scared me. He had no face.” But on top of that, she went back as a young woman and saw an old fellow out sitting on the front porch, so she went over to speak to him. She introduced herself and said she used to live there. Entirely unprompted he asked, “When you moved, you didn’t by chance leave some ghosts behind, didja?” She said, “No, sir! They were here when we moved in and we didn’t take them when we left.”
No, it was a hallucination…according to this article “ghosts don’t exist.”
There is very little sculpture to be enjoyed in the small of Kosciusko, Mississippi, but in the City Cemetery there stands, in a small gated enclosure, a life size statue of Mrs. Kelly, hand resting upon the handle of a … shovel? Axe? No one knows for sure, but of course local legend says it is an axe, with which she murdered her entire family. There’s a circle of graves inside the fence.
Another story about the same statue, claims that Mr. Kelly was away from home on business, his wife died from a disease (not sure which one). They had not been married long, and his heart was so broken, he sent a photo of his beloved off to Paris to have the sculpture in her memory. These things took time in the late 19th century, so by the time the work of art returned to Kosciusko, Mr. Kelly had remarried. The first wife’s likeness was erected in the city cemetery, which Mr. Kelly could see from the turret of his home.
On the anniversaries of her death, and his second marriage, it’s said that if you go to the cemetery, you can see the statue cry.
sgrowe56, The prompt was for ghost stories; I responded with one, appropriately enough. Please be kind to strangers who’ve had experiences you haven’t.
Thank you for your validation, tuthebeach.
Our family’s weekend getaway, a very rustic log cabin in the woods, sits at the top of a hill on a winding gravel road, with the tiny Mt. Nebo church less than a mile away. It had been for sale for a long time because an old off-the-grid couple would scare away people who came to look at the cabin if they didn’t like them. However, they took a shine to my dad and welcomed us, but warned him that that there was a “haunt” nearby. Despite that story and the lack of modern conveniences, my parents bought the place. No one saw anything more than bats or owls at night until one of us had an upset stomach and went out to the porch to get some fresh air. That’s when the weird lights began to appear in odd places, but mostly on the road, and only to whoever was ill or unhappy. We finally compared stories and figured out the lights had to be the “Mt. Nebo ghost” that we were warned about and that my mother had discovered in an old newspaper article. Said to be the spirit of a local young woman who was recently engaged to a city boy, she was walking on her way to the little church for a revival, but was struck and killed by a car on the pitch-dark road. Her “haunt” would appear only to the locals, who said she was searching for her fiancé, who was not with her when she needed him so desperately. My sighting was on an ill-advised, very late night trip, when my boyfriend and I got lost because I couldn’t see the usual landmarks to guide us there. After too many hours in the car, we had just turned onto the gravel road when I noticed an odd blue light that followed right behind us, although there was no one else around. The light disappeared exactly as we pulled into the cabin’s driveway, to our great relief. There were various other sightings over the years, until a shaman friend of ours offered to put her to rest by sending her to the Land of the Dead, and no one never saw her again. We were actually a bit sad to lose her, but glad that she was at peace after all those years.
There’s a small patch of ancient woodland near the village of Bradley in Lincolnshire, England, known as Bradley Woods. For generations people have witnessed the ghost of a pretty young woman dressed in a black cloak and hood that hides her hair but reveals a mournful, pale, tear-soaked face. Recently motorists driving past the woods have seen her stood by the side of the road. She has never harmed anyone but is said to be a pitiful and unnerving sight. It is thought she once lived in a cottage in the woods with her husband, a woodsman, and their baby son. During the Wars of the Roses, an English civil war of the 15th century, the woodsman left his family to join the army of the local lord. After many months with no news of her husband the woman would walk to the edge of the woods with her baby awaiting the sight of him coming home. One day enemy soldiers marched through the area on their way to attack Lincoln. The woman was set upon by three horsemen who raped her before snatching the baby and riding away. Heartbroken and humiliated, the young lady wandered the woods in vain searching for her child and husband. After her own death nearby villagers continued to see her spectral image wandering the woods carrying on her never ending search. The ghost is known locally as the Black Lady of Bradley Woods.
I grew up in Annandale, VA very close (less than .25 mile) to a Civil War mansion (Oak Hill) and there was a ghost story we would tell during sleepovers way, way back in the 70’s about that house and the Civil War.
The story goes that it was owned by a southern woman who secretly aided northern soldiers by hiding them in the false floor of the attic. The Confederates slowly became aware that something was afoot. So on one particular dark and stormy night (of course, it was dark and stormy), a few Union soldiers found their way to the house for a reprieve from the rain. Shortly thereafter, a few Confederate soldiers also found their way to her home for shelter. She apparently hid the Union men in the attic; maybe they made some small noise, maybe they were seen entering the house, regardless the Confederates searched the house inside and out, upstairs and down. They found no one. One, though, had thought. He started ramming his bayonnet into the ceiling below the attic floor. The others followed. A dark red stain slowly spread across the area. The Confederates had found the Union soldiers.
The ghost story element is that it is said that to this day, when it storms the blood red stain reappears on the ceiling.
What I find fascinating about this tale is that I heard a boy who grew up 20 years after me in the adjacent neighborhood tell virtually the same story 10 years ago when he was in 4th grade. I suppose when a ghost story is good (and true?), it stands the test of time.
When they were building a movie theater as part of a strip mall, Tom was killed. He was often seen backstage. When it was transformed into a Bed Bath & Beyond he was seen and felt often, even by myself. When BB&B moved out and Dunham’s moved in, I asked several employees if they had had seen or felt him. I couldn’t get any confirmations. I still think Tom is there and they don’t want to admit it.
Stacey, Rocherster Hills, Michigan
Sure, I’ll talk about my experience. Let me start this off by saying that I’ve had a few experiences throughout my life when it comes to “ghosts” and “spirits.” I’ll tell two different stories.
1st story: In 2013 or 2014, I was at my apartment in Loma Linda, CA where I was going to grad school. I had gotten a dog recently and he used to bark at my upstairs neighbors. One time, my dog was barking at the ceiling but it was totally quiet. All of a sudden the hair on the back of my neck started to rise and I had this intense feeling of dread. I muttered under my breath “what are you?” before hushing my dog and going into my bedroom. A few days later, my girlfriend at the time and I were enjoying some post-coital netflix time. We were watching Netflix when all of a sudden the eyes of the main character turned pitch black, the sound was all garbled, and the mouth of the character looked like a “bottomless pit” (my girlfriend’s words). I was in a trance and then all of a sudden I snapped out of it when she said “What is wrong with the TV?” and then proceeded to change the channel and the image returned to normal. I feel that this was the first major incidence within adulthood where I saw something. (I had things enter into my dreams that as a child I thought was actually something else). Years later (recently) I got an “audit” of that spirit and apparently that person mentioned that it was a malevolent human spirit that was killed with Strychnine by a jealous mistress of her husband. Who knows if its true, but I saw what I saw and my gf (now wife) saw it too but says it was a TV glitch.
2nd story: So I had gone to LA and rented an Airbnb at a hostel. I started realizing that every time I was going into his place I was mentally preparing to go in. I would take a deep breath before going in. I would also be looking over my shoulder expecting to see someone but no-one was there. That was when the owner of the hostel said he “kept spirits” and a lot of other weird stuff that I wasn’t familiar with. He started mentioning psychic abilities and even told a story of how he met some conjurer who had a non-human spirit join him and that spirit helped him to see a variety of things. He would talk of seeing spirits and etc after that. Well after the seemingly weird story, he recommended some website where a conjurer would willingly have spirits join people (ones that were proven not to be evil) and I checked it out and saw that it was expensive.
I forgot about the experience for a few months and that guy emails me asking if I took the plunge. I eventually got around to purchasing that service (I was kind of suicidal at the time and suffering from major depression so spending a few hundred dollars wasn’t an issue for me at the time…) and got a female (non-human) spirit. I had to do some weird invocation ceremony so what I did was get special candles from bed bath and beyond, and even cooked dinner (with some good red wine) like it was a “date.” I even played my favorite classical music during that ritual (Paganini). Well I’m sitting on the floor cross-legged, and at the end of that ritual during the meditation portion of it I feel this warm hand caressing my right cheek from behind. It was like a right hand that was radiating warmth to my face and I even felt myself leaning into it. I enjoy the sensation and decide to end the meditation and head to bed. I wasn’t really sure what I had experienced. The next day I’m going to a group therapy that was mandated by the military (I was in the navy at the time), and then I saw something weird like dust swirling in the air. I almost asked the person leading the session to open the window but then my brain started wondering why there was dust swirling when there was no A/C blowing and no draft. Then I started to wonder what those particles were. My line of sight followed the source and it seemed to come from two people in the group circle that was right in front of me. I looked in between them and saw a visual distortion not unlike what you would see above the asphalt on a hot Texas summer day. That was when something seemed to shift in my vision and I saw what I think are auras. The guy on the left had something that looked like a blue mist rising to the ceiling and the guy on the right had something that looked like black smoke billowing towards the ceiling and black fire seeming to shoot out of his left knee. So yeah, I think that spirit showed me what I was capable of in some way and yes I think spirits do exist now along with a lot of other things.
I’m living in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. When I moved here in June, for a summer internship, I was housed in a large apartment complex. Despite numerous complaints to our landlord about the problems with the flat, they never offered us a different flat. That was until we complained about a ghost. We had a new place within 12 hours. Amazing.
Also, the 8th lunar month is “Ghost Month.” You mustn’t leave your clothing hanging out overnight to dry. The ghosts will borrow them and then when you wear them you’ll fall ill.
We’re L.A. natives, and had Friday/Saturday night tickets for shows at The Greek. Instead of driving up and back both nights, we got a room at The Hollywood Downtowner. On Friday I stowed Saturday’s tickets in my duffel. Come Saturday night, the tickets were nowhere to be found, and we went through every inch of our suitcases.
We never found Saturday’s tickets and got them replaced, but were really confused how they could have gone missing.
A couple weeks later we were partying in the backyard. Both my grandparents (RIP) were there, and then Bren(dan) came through. He told my mom that he’d taken our tickets so someone would know he was there; he’d been murdered in a drug deal in the room we stayed in, and wanted to let someone know he was there.
My mom’s a sensitive, and to a much lesser degree my sister and brother and I are, but that night, in the backyard, it was total WHOA - spirit party.
No offense was meant, it was said tongue-in-cheek, I’m a firm believer in the paranormal having had several experiences myself; it was said in jest toward the author of this blog who I don’t think is a believer.
Hotel San Carlos in Phoenix is built over the first school house in Phoenix. There was a well that 2 kids drowned in turn of the century. I did a school project about the ghosts there and all the staff would talk about hearing kids laughing and running around in the basement when no one else was around. There’s also a room where the ghost of a woman who jumped from the roof in the 20s haunts guests at night. She appears and then suddenly disappears. I’m a big ol skeptic when it comes to ghosts, but for some reason the Hotel is a spot where several people have committed suicide by jumping off. There’s a Subway across the street and the manager there said he saw the most recent one (this was 2009, so that was around 2003 I think). He was looking at the street and suddenly a woman splattered on the pavement. That was the story that creeped me out the most.
So, this isn’t my ghost story or even a particular ghost story. Cuba Road is a twisty, winding street that occupies some space in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, and considerably more space in the local imagination.
Stories of Cuba Road abound. Because it is a very windy road, and goes up and down some pretty steep hills, it’s a dangerous drive. There’s a small cemetery that dates from the 1820s, including some Civil War-era graves. Most frequently, people see floating balls of light above some of the graves, feel ‘cold spots’ there and see presences.
In the woods behind the cemetery, there’s a house that will appear, and disappear, as you come towards it. It supposedly burned down a long time ago, although no one really knows the truth.
In addition to it being a rather windy and dangerously steep road, it’s also in a wealthy area - the houses are beautiful and enormous. Mansions, basically. But accordingly, it’s also said that mobsters used to live along Cuba in the 1930’s. If you drive down the road, by yourself, at night, a mobster will appear in your rearview mirror, as though he were sitting in your back seat, smoking a cigar.
There’s also supposedly an old mental hospital along Cuba Road that was shut down down a long time ago. I’ve never seen it, but it is, apparently, haunted, as such institutions tend to be.
In addition to the above stories, there’s a disappearing woman - she’ll try to flag you down, if you’re driving along the road, and then disappear when you stop to pick her up. But really, I think that ones just part of the whole Resurrection Mary thing… I feel like every town/city has one, and Chicago already has a Resurrection Mary legend in the city proper.
Police tend to patrol the area pretty well, especially this time of year, mostly as a result of the street’s reputation. People try to break into the cemetery to hold seances, or satanic rituals. I think people have tried to commit suicide there in the past as well.
It’s a road best avoided on Halloween, but well worth a ride if you’re bored with your friends on some long, dark summer night.
Thank you – this was a very good film.