Western’s Ghost Writer

Tiffany Linaweaver
Western Illinois Magazine
Fall 2010

A trail of ghost stories has weaved its way throughout the campus of Western Illinois University. It was these hauntings rumored to have occurred at Western that inspired author Michael Kleen to dedicate a whole chapter about them in his book, Paranormal Illinois.

With a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and masters in American history from Eastern Illinois University, Kleen is now currently attending Western… Kleen is Editor in Chief of the digital magazine Black Oak Presents. He has also had several other books published, including Haunting the Prairie and Legends and Lore of Illinois: Case Files.

“Until Paranormal Illinois was published earlier this year, Western Illinois University was one of the best kept secrets in the state when it came to ghost lore. Every other university had been written about extensively, except for Western,” Kleen said.

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‘Tales of Coles County’ features spooky stories
Kayleigh Zyskowski
Daily Eastern News
October 28, 2010

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.

Read the entire article here…


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...


Tales of Coles County Re-Released
John Broux
Mattoon Messenger
October 7, 2010

Coles County: the scene of the “Mad Gasser of Mattoon,” the Charleston Riot, the ghost at Pemberton Hall, and even the world’s fastest pop machine. Author Michael Kleen fell in love with Coles County ten years ago when he first arrived at Eastern Illinois University. There he found a fascinating place filled with a rich folk history. This history compelled him to write and publish the chapbook, Tales of Coles County, Illinois, in 2004, and the Legends and Lore of Coles County in 2006.

Read the entire article here...


Sunset Haven: A Rich, Mysterious History
Lauren Leone
Daily Egyptian
August 11, 2010

… Building 207, more commonly known as Sunset Haven, has a reputation for being haunted, said Michael Kleen, historian and author. Located south of campus, he said the building is hidden behind a veil of trees but appears on top of a hill at the end of the long driveway…

“Because of the nature of nursing homes and private care facilities, many people living there did suffer from mental illness,” Kleen said. “I’m sure there were plenty of times when Sunset Haven (the nursing home) seemed like an insane asylum for the people living there.”

Read the entire article here...


Local Haunts — Author explores ghostly tales across Illinois
Ottawa Times
Melissa Garzanelli
June 24, 2010

Michael Kleen gets a kick out of ghost stories and he’s willing to travel to see if there’s any truth to these legends. Kleen, of Rockford, has visited spots across Illinois, including some nearby like Cumberland Cemetery near Wenona and Moon Point Cemetery in Livingston County, where stories persist of the “Hatchet Lady.”

He posts his discoveries online through a serial newsletter at http://www.trueillinoishaunts.com. Now he’s taking some of those stories and putting them in print. Kleen recently released “Paranormal Illinois,” which joins his first book “Haunting the Prairie.” He talked to The Times via e-mail about his books, ghost hunting and why people love their local haunts.

Read the entire interview..


A Paranormal Saturday awaits
Smile Politely
Gillian Gabriel
June 11, 2010

Michael Kleen has a great fondness for the Midwest, a Master’s degree in History, and an insatiable thirst for ghost stories. Lucky for us, he has been able to skillfully combine all of his passions in his new book, Paranormal Illinois.

Painstakingly and lovingly compiled, Kleen’s books will be sure to become indispensable primers for both Midwestern ghost hunters and local folklore buffs alike. Michael will be appearing at Barnes and Noble this Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. to discuss and sign copies of Paranormal Illinois. He was kind enough to answer some of our questions:

Read the entire interview…


Three Coles County legends are detailed in book
Beth Heldebrandt
Journal Gazette/Times-Courier
April 27, 2010

CHARLESTON — Three Coles County legends are examined in Paranormal Illinois, a new book by Michael Kleen. The book includes three chapters devoted to the Airtight Bride, EIU’s Pemberton Hall and Ashmore Estates. Kleen said this is the first book to examine Airtight Bridge and Ashmore Estates. The chapter on Ashmore Estates is the longest in the book and contains a complete account of its history, dating back to its days as the Coles County Poor Farm.

The book is dedicated to Mark Temples, a local broadcaster and journalist who died in 2007. Temples aided Kleen with research, especially pertaining to the Airtight Bridge case… Kleen said Paranormal Illinois is the culmination of nearly a decade of research, but much of the book was completed in the first half of 2009.

“I did not choose the title,” Kleen said. “Yes, it is a book about the ghost lore of Illinois, but it also goes in-depth into the history of the state. This is not your usual book of ghost stories. “It is fun to read, but it is also well documented and suitable for a library, a school, or a university.”

Read the entire article…


Bartonville: A Broken Home Where the Haunted Roam
Lauren Finkler
Western Illinois Magazine
Spring 2010

Everyone has a story, but at the Illinois Asylum for the Incurable Insane, now known as the Peoria State Hospital, some stories were never heard. Patients suffered and the hospital workers tried their best to cure, or at least sustain, the incurable, but when all else failed, the gravedigger (who was a patient himself) hollowed out a new home in the ground for numerous individuals who died at the asylum…

“These buildings were built to correct problems, but they really didn’t correct a lot of the problems. It was part of this sort of progressive era of reform, trying to reform our mental institutions, but a lot of them were over-crowded.” said Michael Kleen, folk historian and author of the upcoming book, Paranormal Illinois.

… Diabetics were exposed to insulin shock/comatherapy. Electroconvulsive therapy was said to treat depression, mania, schizophrenia and even homosexuality. Lobotomies were rare at the asylum, and their intended purpose is not clarified. Occupational and industrial therapy allowed for patients to have jobs, teaching them new skills.

The treatments were mostly experimental, and the number of patients continually increased, causing overcrowded living quarters which made it easy for diseases to spread. “It’s really hard to visualize how they expected anybody to get better in that environment,” Kleen said.

Sorry, there is no version of this article online.


Things that go Bump in the Night
Heather Munro
McDonough County Choice
March 9, 2010

A long-time researcher of the paranormal, regional historian, author and raconteur – Kleen is a man of many talents. His latest accomplishment is the publication of his newest book, Paranormal Illinois. Of particular interest for locals, one chapter in the book features Kleen’s research about ghosts and haunted buildings on the WIU campus.

The WIU chapter mostly deals with all the ghost stories associated with Simpkins Hall. Passed around and retold often through the years, spooky stories about the paranormal happenings in Simpkins seem to be a favorite for college students. Kleen provides background information, details the stories, sheds new light on the tales with interviews with faculty and students, and really tries to get to the bottom of the supposed eeriness. Kleen also writes about some other university buildings that have paranormal reputations.

Is there a “typing ghost” in the Writing Center? Kleen tells the story, but leaves the reader to ponder the WIU paranormal…

Sorry, there is no version of this article online.


Interview with horror blog “Day of the Woman”
March 5, 2010

…There are things that go bump in the night, unseen whispers after dark, and an entire atmosphere that has inspired many movies we know and love. We’ve told ghost stories around campfires and sleepovers for generations and I think it’s safe to say everyone gets nervous in the dark…at least a little. Today I interviewed paranormal author Michael Kleen to give us a little insight on what it’s like to play with ghosts, and get paid for it…

Read the entire interview..


Grad student masters the macabre
William Steele
Western Courier
February 15, 2010

Ever get that feeling you’re not alone? You’ve heard that there are supposed to be haunted buildings at Western Illinois University, but could you be in one of them right now?

Western Illinois graduate student Michael Kleen’s recently published the booktitled “Paranormal Illinois,” which devotes an entire chapter to stories about ghosts at Western Illinois to answer your questions.

“Paranormal Illinois,” published by Schiffer Publishing is an extensively researched four-part book about 24 different locations and ghost stories in Illinois. The book doesn’t just provide information; it acts as a field guide for spook-seeking tourists and paranormal investigators alike.

“There was a lot of bad information out there and it is something I had been interested in my whole life,” Kleen said. “I wrote (“Paranormal Illinois”) to provide a well-researched book on the subject that people could use to reference.”

“Paranormal Illinois” isn’t Kleen’s first book. While earning a master’s in American history at Eastern Illinois University, Kleen self-published “Haunting the Prairie and “One Voice.” He also is the editor-in-chief of the digital magazine Black Oak Presents.

Read the entire article…


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