Happy Halloween!

As many of my readers know, Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Over the years, I’ve been privileged to be featured in and interviewed for a number of articles on haunted places all over Illinois. From a historian’s point of view, newspaper articles never lose their value over time, even though most people simply read them and throw them out that same day. Let’s take a look back at some of these articles from recent years.

“‘Tales of Coles County’ features spooky stories,” Daily Eastern News (Charleston) 28 October 2010.

“Sunset Haven: the Asylum That Never Was,” Volunteer News (Carterville) 7 October 2010.

“Sunset Haven: A Rich, Mysterious History,” Daily Egyptian (Carbondale) 11 August 2010.

“Local Haunts — Author explores ghostly tales across Illinois,” Streator Times (Streator) 24 June 2010.

“Three Coles County legends are detailed in book,” Journal Gazette (Mattoon) 27 April 2010.

“Grad student masters the macabre,” Western Courier (Macomb) 15 February 2010.

“Charleston is Haunted,” Daily Eastern News (Charleston) 30 October 2009.

“The Science of Spirit-Sleuthing Part III: Local Lore,” Rock River Times (Rockford) October 28, 2009.

“Publication highlights Moon Point Cemetery,” Times (Streator) 1 June 2009.

“Real Folklore,” Daily News (Effingham) 21 February 2009.

“Pemberton’s legend, Mary,” Daily Eastern News (Charleston) 31 October 2008.

“Twisted tales,” Times-Courier (Charleston) 23 October 2007.

“Ghost Club hunts for haunts,” Daily Eastern News (Charleston) 8 October 2007.

“Student author gets creative with Coles history,” Daily Eastern News (Charleston) 28 October 2005.

“Strange Occurrences,” Daily Eastern News (Charleston) 28 October 2005.

“Haunting Club,” Daily Eastern News (Charleston) 29 October 2004.


‘Tales of Coles County’ Featured in the Daily Eastern News

Kayleigh Zyskowski of Eastern Illinois University’s Daily Eastern News has written an engaging article published in today’s edition about Tales of Coles County (2010).

‘Tales of Coles County’ features spooky stories
By Kayleigh Zyskowski

Michael Kleen, a [2008] history graduate of Eastern, found these places when he was a student and began to write short stories about the places that intrigued him. Always having an interest in the paranormal and history, Kleen began to scour the county for interesting places beginning with the Airtight Bridge.

“No one I had talked to knew much about what had happened there, so it took a long time to go through the newspaper archives,” Kleen said. “It was really the first place I had to investigate with such extent.”

Kleen’s book “Tales of Coles County,” the 2010 edition, is a two-part book filled with a mixture of fact and fiction about the lesser-known areas of the county.

“I came up with the concept when I was still at Eastern over a summer break,” Kleen said. “I was working at the park district (in Prospect Heights) and had a lot of time on my hands while I was mowing. I thought of the stories to pass the time.”

Read the entire article!

Mysterious America

My 2-Cents on Sunset Haven

A few weeks ago, Keith Gilbert of the Volunteer News interviewed me for an article about Sunset Haven near Carbondale. Somehow it escaped my notice until today!

Sunset Haven: the Asylum That Never Was

Keith Gilbert
Volunteer News
October 7, 2010

The leaves are beginning to change, days are getting shorter, and there’s something bewitching in the air. Halloween is rapidly approaching, and many will find thrill in stories of the strange or unexplained. Many will also find thrill in traversing “haunts” around the region. One of the most talked about haunts around our region is known as “the old insane asylum” located in Carbondale…

Micheal Kleen, author and historian, specializes in Southern Illinois folklore and legends… “Southern Illinois is a fascinating place because it has such a long history compared to the rest of the state. Some of the oldest ghost stories in Illinois come from that region, and we are lucky to have had several excellent folklorists who documented them in the 1930s and 1950s,” says Kleen.

Read the entire article here…

Mysterious America

The Legend of Pemberton Hall Returns – The Sequel

It’s that time of the year again (aside from my birthday)!

Since the 1950s, a story has been told to every generation of girls who reside in Eastern Illinois University’s legendary Pemberton Hall, the first all-female dormitory in the state of Illinois. This story involves an infamous dorm mother named Mary Hawkins and the ghost of a girl who was allegedly murdered in the fourth floor piano room over ninety years ago. Pemberton Hall’s fourth floor has been closed for generations, adding fuel to the legend. Students wonder:

  • Who was Mary Hawkins?
  • What did she really look like?
  • How did she die?
  • How long has this story been told?

Now peer behind the locked doors and find out what really happened on that dark and stormy night at Eastern Illinois University. The answers to all your questions about this famous story are just a click away! This is the most comprehensive account of the legend ever written.

Click the link below to download it for free! Also, feel free to share this .pdf with your friends!

The Legend of Pemberton Hall by Michael Kleen


The Legend of Pemberton Hall by Michael Kleen
The Legend of Pemberton Hall by Michael Kleen


Citations: if you wish to use any of this in a paper or presentation, cite it in the following way (Chicago style):
Michael Kleen, The Legend of Pemberton Hall (Charleston: Black Oak Press, Illinois, 2008), page#.


Look for ‘Paranormal Illinois’ in Stores

Paranormal Illinois can be found at Borders and Barnes & Noble all over the state – at special “Halloween” displays or in the local interest section.

Or order the book at!

“Why did hundreds of people line up bumper to bumper in rural Illinois to catch a glimpse of a scantily clad phantom along Kennedy Hill Road? What is the real history behind Independence Grove and Devil’s Gate? This painstakingly researched book leaves no ghost unturned.”


A Great Review of Paranormal Illinois

Penny Bright writes on

“I was so pleasantly surprised by this book! Finally, FINALLY someone has made the effort to truly dig in to the actual documented history of some of the “known haunted” places in Illinois. Micheal Kleen has proven that the ghost stories, legend tripping, and haunted-tours-by-armchair can still be fascinating and creepy when told with the facts instead of only the melodramatic folktales. While other books by some other authors are definitely as entertaining, they are truly fiction and serve only to propagate incorrect information.”

Click here to read the entire review!


What is Totalitarianism? A Dinner and Discussion

Click for event details

If the United States came under the control of a totalitarian regime, would we recognize it? This and other provocative questions are asked and answered in my reading of “What is Totalitarianism?” (Part 1 and Part 2) which will include a presentation on the reality of totalitarianism (defined as “total state control”) in the world today, and a discussion of the subject over dinner at the Stockholm Inn in Rockford, Illinois.

To pre-order tickets, get directions to this event, or view other details, visit our event page.

General admission is $5 pre-ordered or at the door. A special $10 ticket will give you access to the event plus a copy of my book One Voice ($8 retail). Dinner is not included with the cost of admission, but the Stockholm Inn has a wonderful selection of Swedish foods and we encourage guests to order dinner or just sample their famous Swedish Pancakes during the presentation.

If you would like to help promote this event, you can download the following flyers in .jpeg format:

8.5 X 11 Flyer

Or you can invite your Facebook friends to the event.