Mysterious America Photography

Powers-Jarvis Mansion

The Powers-Jarvis Mansion, 357 W. Decatur Street in Decatur, Illinois, is among the most unique in Decatur, from its red tiled roof, to its copper trim, leaded glass windows, and blond brick. Businessman Charles Powers, owner of the Hotel Orlando, built this 9,400 square feet Greek Revival home in 1909. The Bachrach family owned it from 1988 to 2005, when they sold it at auction. It was auctioned again in 2017. According to local author Troy Taylor, rumors of it being haunted began in the 1960s when it was abandoned. Passersby witnessed lights floating around inside or translucent figures in the windows. Later, some men staying in the house reported personal items went missing or their bed shook without explanation.

Historic America Photography

Stories in Stone: Andrew Alexander

Monument to Brig. Gen. Andrew Jonathan Alexander (1833-1887) in Fort Hill Cemetery, 19 Fort Street in Auburn, Cayuga County, New York. Alexander was a staff officer and Union cavalry commander during the American Civil War, rising from the rank of captain to brevet brigadier general. He was born in Kentucky, but his mother emancipated their slaves. He fought in several battles, including Fredericksburg, Aldie, Upperville, and Atlanta on his horse named “Black Sluggard”. After the war, he continued his military service and reached the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Mysterious America

Illinois’ Haunted Colleges

Every college has its traditions, and perhaps even a ghost story or two, but the following Illinois colleges rank high on the list when it comes to eerie campus legends and tales.

The first college in Illinois, McKendree University, was established in Lebanon in 1828. Since then, over 70 private and public four-year institutions dedicated to higher education have opened throughout the state. Each has its own history and traditions, traditions that often include a ghost story or two. Some colleges seem to have more than their fair share. Millikin University, Illinois College, Southern Illinois, Illinois State, and of course, the University of Illinois are just a few of the many with eerie campus legends and tales.

Illinois Wesleyan University

Illinois Wesleyan University was founded in Bloomington in 1850, but no buildings were constructed until six years later. Primarily focused on the liberal arts, it is partially supported by the United Methodist Church, but its administration is independent.

Several buildings on campus are believed to be haunted. International House (I-House) was built by A.E. DeMange and his wife in 1907. A few years later, following his wife’s death, DeMange sold the classical revival building to the university. Ever since, students say the house is haunted by a “lady in red”: Mrs. DeMange herself. On certain nights, she is said to appear in a large mirror.

Photography Roadside America

Spirit of the Horseman

This 18-foot high, 11-ton steel sculpture of Washington Irving’s Headless Horseman from his story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” was designed by Milgo/Bufkin metal fabricators and erected in 2006. It is located in a parkway on U.S. Route 9 (Broadway Ave) in Sleepy Hollow, New York.


Stories in Stone: George L. Randidge

Monument to George L. Randidge (1820-1890), his wife Caroline R. (unk-1895) and their family in Forest Hills Cemetery, at 95 Forest Hills Avenue in Boston, Massachusetts. This bronze neoclassical sculpture entitled “Grief” sits atop their mausoleum and was designed by sculptor Adolph Robert Kraus. The inverted torch symbolizes life extinguished. George L. Randidge was a merchant tailor. Designed by landscape architect Henry A. S. Dearborn and opened in 1848, Forest Hills Cemetery is a historic rural cemetery.

Historic America

Coles County Ghost Towns: Bachelorsville, Dog Town, and String Town

The following is an excerpt from my book Tales of Coles County, a collection of history, folklore, and true crime from one of the most interesting counties in Illinois. Order it in paperback or Kindle today.

Dog Town/Diona

Dog Town, on Clear Creek in Hutton Township, straddled Coles and Cumberland counties (Cumberland County separated from Coles in 1843) and was among Coles County’s earliest settlements, getting its nickname from the large number of dogs kept there. Among the first white children born in the county was a son of James Nees, a resident of Dog Town, in March 1827.

When Abraham Lincoln’s family first entered Coles County in 1830, they came through this quiet hamlet before ultimately settling west of Decatur. Nicholas McMorris was appointed its first postmaster on October 12, 1869.

According to The History of Coles County (1879), Dog Town was “an accidental collection of houses” with a store, post office, shops, and a Presbyterian church. It was also known as Diona. The L.D. Rothrock General Store, a two-story brick building with a meeting hall on the second floor, was erected in 1880. The post office closed in 1904.

Historic America Photography

Stories in Stone: Erasmus D. Keyes

Monument to Maj. Gen. Erasmus Darwin Keyes (1810–1895) in West Point Cemetery, 329 Washington Road, United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. New Englander Erasmus D. Keyes led a brigade at the First Battle of Bull Run, then the Union Army of the Potomac’s IV Corps during the Peninsula Campaign. Despite having a regular Army background, his lackluster performance led to reassignment and eventual removal from command. He resigned his commission in May 1864. Later in life, he became a successful businessman in San Francisco.