Category Archives: Folklore

Haunted Rockford, Illinois

Haunted Rockford, Illinois, Kathi Kresol’s latest offering from The History Press, is a spine-tingling look at the history and folklore of the Forest City. Kathi also wrote Murder & Mayhem in Rockford, Illinois, and originally those were going to be a single book. Though related subjects (many traumatic events are believed to spawn hauntings), splitting them up was ultimately a good decision thematically.

Like Murder & Mayhem in Rockford, Haunted Rockford delves into the history and personalities behind the stories. Kathi created the popular Haunted Rockford Tours, but this is no recitation of a tour script. These stories are painstakingly researched and documented, relying primarily on interviews and newspaper articles. The chapters are divided into two parts: Ghostly Encounters and Legends, Curses and Other Curiosities.

The two most interesting chapters are “The Terrible Tragedy of Geraldine Bourbon” and “The Witch of McGregor Road.” In the first, Kathi tells a personal story of how she came to live in a haunted house in Rockford, and the horrible events that precipitated it. Imagine finding out your home was the scene of a double murder after a number of bizarre experiences. Kathi told me about her experience several times over the years and it doesn’t lose its impact in print.

In “The Witch of McGregor Road,” Kathi uncovered a possible origin for Rockford’s infamous “Witch Beulah” legend. The legend involves a school teacher who was blamed for a fire at her schoolhouse out on Meridian or McGregor Road. Or, perhaps, Beulah was a witch who cursed Arthur Blood’s family and caused the mysterious events along Blood’s Point Road.

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Interview with Kathi Kresol of Haunted Rockford, Pt. 2

An interview with Kathi Kresol, author of the new book Haunted Rockford, Illinois. To be released by The History Press on October 2, 2017. In this clip, Kathi talks about how she became interested in ghost stories and the origin of her literary efforts. http://www.hauntedrockford.com/

Interview with Kathi Kresol of Haunted Rockford, Pt. 1

An interview with Kathi Kresol, author of the new book Haunted Rockford, Illinois. To be released by The History Press on October 2, 2017. In this clip, Kathi talks about why she started the Haunted Rockford Tours and some of her favorite stories from the Forest City. http://www.hauntedrockford.com/

Miles and Miles: The Miles Mausoleum

Stephen W. Miles was a violinist with pretensions of greatness. Bit by bit, he purchased over a thousand acres of bottom land in Monroe County and made a small fortune. Eventually, he commissioned a mausoleum to be built on a bluff in Eagle Cliff Cemetery, where he could see his land “for miles and miles.” Completed in 1858, the mausoleum cost $25,000 and was made from Italian marble. It contained 56 burial vaults. Unfortunately, Miles’ son went bankrupt and lost his father’s estate. Only eleven individuals were ever interred in the crypt.

Sometime during the 1950s, vandals desecrated the tomb, stole jewelry, and damaged the bodies of the Miles family. In the 1960s, a Satanic cult burned the rest of their remains in a bizarre attempt to resurrect them from the dead. Today, the grand mausoleum sits empty, but it is marred by graffiti and widely believed to be haunted by the angry spirits of the Miles family.

Eagle Cliff Cemetery is located off D Road, just south of where HH Road intersects with D Road, in rural Monroe County. HH Road is accessible from Bluff Road, south of Columbia, Illinois.

Cuba Road’s White Cemetery and Phantom Vehicles

Cuba Road sits nestled between the towns of Lake Zurich and Barrington, Illinois in Lake County, northwest of Chicago. The main portion of the road runs between Route 12 (Rand Road) and Route 14 (Northwest Highway) and is home to a veritable cornucopia of legends. The ghost stories that seem to literally pour out of the mouths of visitors led famed author Ursula Bielski to proclaim, “For Chicagoland ghosthunters, Cuba Road is the single most notorious haunted site north of southwest suburban Bachelors Grove Cemetery.”

Along Cuba Road, a few yards west of Route 59, sits the most frequently visited spot along Cuba Road: White Memorial Cemetery. There would, arguably, be no other legends along the road if it wasn’t for the alluring power of this cemetery, which was the first to attract the attention of curiosity seekers and paranormal enthusiasts alike. Dale Kaczmarek called White Cemetery, “the most haunted location on the north side.”

White Cemetery is one of the oldest burial grounds in Lake County. It dates back to 1820, when Barrington’s mighty mansions were nothing more than farmer’s fields or untamed wilderness. Like many other cemeteries in Illinois, this one developed a reputation during the 1960s as a place to get drunk, smoke pot, and “just be.” Not all the activity at the cemetery was harmless fun, however. According to Dale Kaczmarek, in 1968 vandals spray painted swastikas on many of the headstones and knocked down many more.

The vandalism led to the cemetery being locked up at night, but as it can be seen clearly from the road, that hasn’t prevented the curious from trying to catch a glimpse of the mysterious, white balls of light that are said to hover around the burial ground. In More Chicago Haunts, Ursula Bielski claimed that “luminescent figures” have occasionally accompanied these spook lights.

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The Haunted: A Social History of Ghosts

The Haunted: A Social History of Ghosts by Owen Davies was first published in England in 2007. A paperback was released in the United States in 2009. The Haunted is not a traditional or linear history. Davies looks at trends spanning several centuries, from the Reformation to the present day. By exploring these trends, he hopes to explain how and why England has become so “haunted.”

Debates over ghost belief reveal much about England’s social and intellectual history. Davies makes a compelling argument that being haunted by the dead is part of the human condition, at least for a significant portion of the population, as all attempts to eradicate ghost belief over the past 500 years have failed.

Davies divides his book into three parts: Experience (what did ghosts look like, where were they found, and how have people tried to find them?), Explanation (how have people made sense of ghost sightings?), and Representation (how have people sought to replicate or reproduce ghosts and ghostly phenomenon?). The Haunted runs the gamut of English (and some Continental) cultural and intellectual experience, but its organization opens these topics to the reader in an easy to digest format. Every chapter explains the key players, arguments, and trends, while offering plenty of primary examples.

Most studies of ghosts from 1700 on primarily rely on four authors who collected hundreds of accounts, but these accounts were collected from the middle and upper classes. They say little about the beliefs of rural and urban working classes, who made up the majority of the population. Davies scours a grab bag of sources to add these voices to the discussion, while never losing sight of the dominant intellectual trends.

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