Category Archives: Musings

Look for yours truly in Country Magazine

Big thanks to Dave Rutter for including me in his article on the ghost stories of Cuba Road for Barrington’s lifestyle magazine Country Magazine. I’ll probably never get invited to a party in Barrington, but I’ll settle for being present in print.

Cuba Road winds five miles between Northwest Highway 14 just north of Barrington and Highway 12 in Lake Zurich. The old country road is bracketed by towering trees, spacious, off-the-road homes, hobby farms, a 780-acre marsh and a 180-year-old cemetery. It looks normal in the daylight.

Oh, by the way, at night it’s also home to least 20 reputed ghosts. We are going there because it’s almost Halloween. If you wish to experience the march of transient souls on All Hallow’s Eve, there is no more spookily busy place than Cuba Road.

Folklorist author Michael Kleen, a lifelong fan of ghost stories, has accumulated dozens of stories about Cuba Road’s ghosts. Does he believe?

Check it out!


Witchcraft in Illinois – Author Preview

A preview of my new book Witchcraft in Illinois: A Cultural History.

Witchcraft in Illinois Teaser Video

Witchcraft in Illinois is Now Available!

After over seven years of writing, editing, and researching, my book on the history of witchcraft in Illinois is finally available on (coming soon to a store near you)! It is 192 pages with 37 rarely-seen images.

Although Illinois saw no dramatic witch trials, witchcraft has been a part of Illinois history and culture from French exploration to the present day.

On the Illinois frontier, pioneers pressed silver dimes into musket balls to ward off witches, while farmers dutifully erected fence posts according to phases of the moon.

In 1904, the quiet town of Quincy was shocked to learn of Bessie Bement’s suicide, after the young woman sought help from a witch doctor to break a hex.

In turn-of-the-century Chicago, Lauron William de Laurence’s occult publishing house churned out manuals for performing bizarre rituals intended to attract love and exact revenge.

For the first time in print, Michael Kleen presents the full story of the Prairie State’s dalliance with the dark arts.

With a foreword by Owen Davies, Professor of Social History, University of Hertfordshire. Author of America Bewitched: The Story of Witchcraft after Salem (2013).

The paperback sells for $21.99 and the Kindle edition sells for $12.99. Order today!

Witchcraft in Illinois Available Sept 18

Just a few days remain before my new book Witchcraft in Illinois: A Cultural History officially goes on sale Monday, September 18. The paperback sells for $21.99 and the Kindle edition sells for $12.99. I don’t have a copy to show you yet, but the interior is beautifully designed, with 37 rarely-seen images.

Here are the ten most interesting highlights from the book:

  • This is the first and only book to examine the subject of witchcraft in Illinois.
  • It fills a large gap in the understanding of witchcraft as it relates to Illinois history.
  • It examines little-known or forgotten episodes and events in Illinois history.
  • It contains primary sources that have never been seen in print.
  • It reveals the truth behind Illinois’ oldest tale of witchcraft—the execution of two French slaves in 1779.
  • It shows the connection between witch beliefs in Illinois and those in early modern Europe.
  • It shows how witch beliefs have always been a part of Illinois history, from the frontier to the present day.
  • It shows how witch beliefs proliferated in both rural areas and cities like Chicago and its suburbs.
  • It examines not simply cases of witchcraft, but also superstitions and beliefs about witches and folk magic.
  • It reveals the startling fact that witch doctors practiced alongside modern medicine in Illinois well into the 1920s.

You can still Pre-order the book before September 18th.

Look at these Pretenders

Look at Kellogg’s trying to muscle into General Mills’ Halloween-themed cereal market. Sorry guys, you’ll never be Count Chocula, Franken Berry, and Boo-Berry.

Nothing beats the originals!