2004-2009

Haunted Rockford Special Report 2
Alex Shabad
WTVO Channel 17
October 30, 2009

Next to the leafless trees, it towers above the ground. But for some, it’s one woman’s haunting story that makes this house literally larger then life.

“Because she loved it so much she decided to live here in her after life” says folk lore expert Michael Kleen.

She was a Norwegian immigrant named Emma Jones who died in the 1950’s. According Kleen, ever since her death, some tenants have reported strange happenings.

14 year old Mary Cunningham has stayed overnight at the house. “I don’t believe in ghosts but it still scares me” says Cunningham.

First hand accounts can be scary, but we wanted to experience a ghost story for ourselves. Kleen found us just the place twin sister hills park.

Read the entire article (and watch the video!)…

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Charleston is Haunted
Neil Schneider
Daily Eastern News
October 30, 2009

…As the legend goes, two men passing by the bridge in the morning noticed what they thought was the body of a nude woman about 50 feet from the bridge. As the men approached they realized that the woman had had her head, hands and feet severed from her body.

The men quickly called the local sheriff’s office and from there the investigation began.

Michael Kleen, an Illinois paranormal researcher and author, said that the case is shrouded in mystery.

“For years, the case has gone unsolved and still to this day authorities don’t know who committed the murder,” Kleen said. ” The victim was buried under the name of Jane Doe in one of Charleston’s cemetery’s and it wasn’t until 1992 that sheriff’s department finally figured out who the female victim was.”

Read the entire article…

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The Science of Spirit-Sleuthing Part III: Local Lore
Stuart R. Wahlin
Rock River Times
October 28-Nov. 3, 2009

Twin Sisters Park is a popular wintertime destination on Rockford’s southeast side. Boasting sizeable twin hills, there’s little question where the park got its name. It is rumored, however, the park is not only popular with those who sled, but with those who are dead.

“Some people claim that this park has attracted more sinister guests,” local writer and historian Michael Kleen said of the legend during a recent talk at the Rockford Public Library. “The woods have been the scene of several murders, hangings and even a drowning. People say that they experience feelings of dread. They see things moving in the shadows. They feel like they’re being followed in the woods.”

Kleen acknowledged the stories are most likely the products of imagination from students of nearby East High School—also alleged to be haunted—and one local paranormal consulting team may have laid the Twin Sisters legend to rest.

Read the Entire Article…

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Rotary Club of Charleston
October 27, 2009

Michael Kleen (M.A. in American History), publisher of Black Oak Media, was the featured speaker on October 27, 2009 and gave a historical presentation on Ashmore Estates.

The first buildings of the Coles County Poor Farm, established for indigent people who lived and worked on the farm, was first established in 1857 near Loxa. In 1867, construction of the first buildings of what would eventually become Ashemore Estates began and the new location opened in 1869. Additional buildings, which included a massive addition to the original building and several out buildings, were started in 1915 and completed in 1916 at a cost of $20,389 (more on this later).

Nancy Swinford grew up and lived on the farm from 1947-1954 when her father, Bill, was superintendent and her mother, Laura, was matron. She has recounted many stories of her life on the farm for folks in Coles County over the years…

Read entire article…

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Michael Kleen: The Truth is Sometimes Stranger than Fiction
Cheryl Knight
Paranormal Underground
August 2009

Michael Kleen’s interest in the paranormal began at the age of eight when his uncle died suddenly. He then realized for the first time that he, too, would one day die and there was nothing he could do about it — and that single thought haunted him. “Everyone wonders what happens after they die, of course, and I’ve always looked for any shred of evidence that a part of me will continue on,” Michael said.

So as a child, he read everything he could get his hands on that might reassure him that his soul would endure a physical death. And now, at the age of 28, Michael continues to search for answers to the age-old question: Is there life after death?

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Eastern Illinois University in spring 2006, Michael founded Black Oak Media, an alternative media outlet for Middle American art and culture. He is now the publisher of Black Oak Presents, a digital magazine, and writes a monthly electronic serial Legends and Lore of Illinois. His research on the paranormal also led him to pen several books about ghosts and hauntings, having most recently published Legends and Lore of Illinois: Case Files. Michael’s other titles include Tales of the Supernatural and Other Mysteries of the Universe; Ashmore Estates: Myth and Legend; Tales of Coles County; and Six Tales of Terror.

“I think ghost stories are oddly comforting for people,” he said. “It makes you think that maybe there is a chance you just won’t blink into nothingness.”

Read the entire article…

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Publication highlights Moon Point Cemetery
Melissa Garzanelli
Streator Times
June 1, 2009

Legend has it that night-time trespassers to Moon Point Cemetery, south of Streator in Livingston County, will find themselves at the mercy of the “hatchet lady,”the ghost of a woman who lost her mind following the death of her child…

Such are the yarns spun by local residents, according to Michael Kleen, who publishes an online serial called “Legends and Lore.” And these kinds of tales are right up his alley.

“It is stories like this that make our small towns interesting and unique,” he said. “The legends of Moon Point have been passed down from one generation to the next, playing an important role in forging a sense of community.”

Read the entire article/interview.

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Real Folklore
Angie Faller
Effingham Daily News
February 21, 2009

Rumors of hauntings and paranormal encounters may forever be connected with Effingham’s Ramsey Cemetery, also known as Casbar Cemetery, yet one investigator recently published an article trying to explain some of those rumors.

Michael Kleen, author of “Legends and Lore of Illinois,” featured Ramsey Cemetery as his February case file. Kleen, a graduate of Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, refers to his job title as a folk historian.

“That means that I examine the history of a place from the perspective of the people living there. To me, their stories are just as important as names and dates, but you can’t have one without the other,” Kleen said.

Read the entire article.

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Pemberton’s legend, Mary
Liz Surbeck/Columnist
Daily Eastern News
October 31, 2008

Lights flicker in the hallways. Doors mysteriously lock themselves. Disturbing sounds come from the basement. It may just be an old building, but if you ask the girls of Pemberton Hall it was probably Mary.

She seems to be a legend who is familiar to most of Eastern’s campus. As a freshman living in Pemberton, I was almost immediately acquainted with a story of Mary from a Resident Assistant fulfilling what I expect is the special duty of Pemberton RA’s to their freshmen…

I decided to take it upon myself to find out the truth and share it with my classmates on Halloween. Michael Kleen, an Eastern alum, has researched and discovered the real story behind Pemberton’s legend. His work can be found on http://newmichaelkleen.com.

“The story is about 80 percent fiction, 15 percent anecdotes about strange things that have happened in the hall and about 5 percent facts, Kleen said. “The whole story is based off of a popular urban legend known as ‘The Roommate’s Death,’ which has been told at universities all over the country, so a huge chunk of it – including the murder – is simply not true.”

So who really was Mary?

Read the entire article.

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August 24, 2008 – Tune in to AM-1050 WLIP (Milwaukee/Chicago) tonight at 8pm to hear Michael Kleen, the author of the Legends and Lore of Illinois, discuss the some of Illinois’ most haunted locations, as well as the Legends and Lore of Illinois e-serial in general. You can also check out the radio show at http://slimpictures.com/mothershipradio.htm

The segment is now available to listen or download, check it out now:
http://slimpictures.com/podcasts/MichaelKleen082408.mp3

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Ashmore Haunted House Gets National Attention
(Apparently this is no longer available online)
Amanda Evans
WCIA 3 News
Jul 2, 2008

ASHMORE- Spooky tales from an old Coles County mental hospital are getting a special sci-fi series. Ashmore Estates has been rumored to be haunted for years Now some ghost hunters are making a documentary to see if the tales are true.

Wednesday was the first day of filming just outside of the small town of Ashmore. Paranormal professionals will stay up all night testing the old house. Ghosts, spirits, demons, whatever you want to call them, they’re getting national attention. The St. Booth brothers are known as professional “Ghost hunters” and they’ve traveled the country to central Illinois to see what or who might be lurking inside…

There’s a whole cast of characters the ghost hunters are looking for. “There’s a little boy you supposedly haunts the place and there’s a guy named Kentucky Joe with a very shallow face and a hat,” said St. Booth. The story is that people see ghosts and spirits wondering around all over Ashmore Estates but they’re gone in a flash. Alright, so some of it is a little hard to believe but in the world of the paranormal tracking whoever might be living here is a science.

Folk historians are excited the ghosts have decided to stick around in Coles County. “I think anything that doesn’t have to do with Lincoln around Coles County–cause it’s a big thing here–any kind of other history is good for people to know about,” said Coles County folk historian, Michael Kleen.

It’ll be on the Sci-Fi network in a series called “Children of the Grave 2” and should air sometime next summer.

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Twisted tales: Author shares Coles County legends, folklore with Charleston Middle School students
Dave Fopay, Staff Writer
Charleston Times-Courier
October 23, 2007

CHARLESTON — The simple toy of a murdered child could be out for vengeance, so it might be a good idea to stay away from a rural cemetery in southern Coles County.

Author Michael Kleen included the story of the Bethel “Rag Doll” Cemetery in the tales he told Monday about locations of legendary lore in the county. The cemetery just south of Coles County Memorial Airport is supposed to be haunted by the rag doll that’s looking for whoever murdered the girl who owned it. “If you go there at night and see a rag doll, you should get out of there pretty quickly,” Kleen said.

He spoke to a group of Charleston Middle School students about places reportedly haunted or just plain spooky. It tied into a group of lessons the seventh-graders had that covered different subject areas, with a common mystery theme.

Read the entire article.

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Mural depicts Civil War riot
Barbara Harrington
Daily Eastern News
October 10, 2007

On March 28, 1864, the Charleston Square was the site of a drunken riot. The riot is portrayed by a mural on the Charleston Square, but many Charleston citizens know nothing about the event.

Michael Kleen, a history graduate student, said this lack of knowledge may be because many people do not have the opportunity to learn much about their own state’s history while in school. “People tend not to care about local history that much,” Kleen said. “There is just a lack of interest.”

Kleen has been researching the Charleston Copperhead Riot for about three years and believes it is an important part of Charleston’s history. He said even though the riot occurred almost 140 years ago, its roots were in partisanship – an issue still prevalent today.

Read the entire article.

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Ghost Club hunts for haunts
Emily Zulz
Daily Eastern News
October 8, 2007

When Elizabeth Thurmond was a young girl, she saw a person going through her closet in the middle of the night. She turned on the light and he was gone. Ever since, the sophomore pre-chemical engineering major has been interested in the paranormal. Thurmond joined the Ghost Club at Eastern this year. Ghost Club is an outlet for those interested in paranormal activity. “It seemed like fun,” Thurmond said. “I’ve been interested in paranormal activity since I’ve been really young.”

Michael Kleen, a history graduate student, formed the Ghost Club in 2004. Kleen has always been interested in the paranormal, so when he came to Eastern he looked for places around Charleston known for hauntings or ghosts. Kleen said he found there were many places like this around Coles County.

Read the entire article…

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Student author gets creative with Coles history
Laura Griffith
Daily Eastern News
Friday, October 28, 2005

One Eastern student took several events from the darker side of Charleston’s history and creatively blended them into a fictional story in his book entitled, “Tales of Coles County, Illinois.”

Author Michael Kleen, senior philosophy major and founder of Eastern’s unofficial Ghost Club, has written three editions of the book, this being his newest, complete with factual footnotes at the bottom of most pages.

The story follows a group of Eastern students, Tami, Max, AJ and Nancy, as they are stranded in the rain when their car breaks down while looking for a campsite just south of Charleston. They come upon a small cabin in the woods and are invited inside by an old man and woman, who give them dry clothes, shelter and a warm dinner. During the meal, the couple shares stories with the students, stories about the history of Coles County and things they remember from their childhood that went on in the area, in chronological order.

The sequences inside the cabin when the students interact with the old couple are well written and interesting. Vivid descriptions, such as the scene where the plain clothes given to the students are described, make it easy for the reader to imagine actually being there. “Nancy pulled at the loose sleeves of the faded gray dress she wore with contempt, while Max tried not to look like he was scratching his legs, which were getting irritated from the rough, cotton pants.”

Readers can almost smell the mothballs.

Read the entire article…

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Unofficial club in full swing
Michael Peterson
Daily Eastern News
October 28, 2005

Every window on the outside of Ashmore Estates is shattered. The walls look corroded. The grass surrounding the building rises to one’s knees from lack of upkeep. On the side of the building, a window is bricked up making people wonder ‘why?’ The creepy appearance of the property makes the estates an ideal study subject for the unofficial “EIU Ghost Club” in its second season of activity.

Michael Kleen, founder of the club, tried to keep it going year-round, but was disappointed in the drop-off of members after Halloween last year. He wasn’t planning on continuing the club until he received an e-mail from a former member expressing interest in the club’s seasonal activities. So the Ghost Club entered its second year, this time in a more laid-back fashion.

Read the entire article.

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Haunting Club
Laura Griffith
Daily Eastern News
October 29, 2004

Mike Kleen’s year-round interest for the paranormal inspired him to create a Ghost Club at Eastern, and he picked a good time to start it: just before Halloween…

“The purpose of the club is to expose different ways that our society explores the supernatural through fun,” said Kleen, a senior philosophy major.

After reading a book by Raymond Moody that popularized near-death experiences, Kleen concluded that no one has really learned anything from studying the paranormal, so he would rather have fun and learn through investigating and looking at other ways popular culture portrays the supernatural.

During the club’s meetings, which are open to anyone, paranormal phenomena is discussed.

Read the entire article.

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