On Wednesday, February 12, I had the distinction of being the featured speaker at Lake Land College’s “Tacos & Tales” event. The event was a huge success, attracting over 40 students hungry for both knowledge of local folklore and tacos. I was told it was one of the best turnouts yet for that particular program. Better yet–for the first time, my name appeared on a marquee! Lucas Thomas, Student Activity Board Chairman, was a wonderful host–even delivering the 12 green M&M’s I jokingly requested. Lake Land College is located in Mattoon, Illinois. You can check out some photos from the presentation below.
Last weekend’s presentation at White Trash Gallery in LaSalle went very well. I have to give a big thanks to White Trash Peg for helping put together another successful event! We had 15 people attend and I presented for a little over an hour and a half. It was great to finally meet Travis and Chad, who came all the way from Rockford. Everyone had a good time and hopefully learned something as well. Here are a couple of pictures from the event – I might have some video to post as well in a few days.
A solitary figure wanders the dark road. A ghostly hand writes “help me” over and over on the blood stained pavement, desperate to reach out to the living. The wind whispers of unspeakable crimes through the rusted trestles of a rural bridge. These are the roads less traveled.
Join author Michael Kleen as he takes you on a visual tour of some of the most mysterious roads in Illinois and tells their tales. This special multimedia presentation will feature stories, pictures, and video from haunted roads all over the state: from Cuba Road in Barrington, to southwest suburban Archer Avenue, to Lebanon Road’s “Gates to Hell” and the phantom lady of Kennedy Hill Road and beyond.
This presentation will be held on Saturday, December 7th from 7-9:00 pm at White Trash Gallery (139 Gooding St.) in LaSalle, Illinois. LaSalle is conveniently located right off Interstate 39, just south of I-80, near Starved Rock State Park.
Entrance to this event is $10 and you can pay at the door. Paying attendees will receive a 16% discount (-$3.00) off signed copies of Michael Kleen’s new book Legends and Lore of Illinois: The Definitive Collection (retails for $18.95). There will also be a free reception and book signing after the presentation.
RSVP on Facebook, and don’t forget to invite your friends!
Thank you everyone who came out to my “legends and lore of Coles County” presentation at Eastern Illinois University last night! The event was a huge success – we actually had to move to another room to accommodate the crowd. Thanks to Becky and Lesley for helping out, and again to Morgan and Diane and the rest of the EIU Creative Writing Club exec board, As a bonus, my presentation made the front page of the Daily Eastern News today. Here’s a snippet:
Coles County Full of Hauntings
By Ashley Holstrom/Staff Reporter
The legend of the ghost of Pemberton Hall is the most well known in the area, but Michael Kleen, author of “The Tales of Coles County,” has many more to share. And he did, to an audience of about 50 students and community members at an event hosted by the Eastern’s Creative Writing Club Thursday.
Most people in the audience raised their hands when asked if they believe in ghosts, and Kleen said he was surprised that the few who did not would come to such an event. “Maybe we’ll make believers out of you,” he said.
He grew up reading ghost stories, went to Eastern, and realized not much had been written about the legends percolating around the area. So he did it himself.
This is the best quote:
The story of the ghost of Pemberton Hall hits closest to home — literally, for a few members of the audience. “Have a good night tonight,” he said, laughing, to the few women who said they live there.
My next presentation in Coles County will be at Lakeland Community College in February.
I’m heading back to my alma mater Eastern Illinois University to give a presentation about Tales of Coles County, as well as “the legend of Pemberton Hall” and other local ghost stories. It will be from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Paris Room of the MLK, Jr. Student Union at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston. The event is free but I will have books for sale. If you’re in the area, come on out!
The Daily Eastern News ran a preview article of the event in today’s paper, but I’m told they will be there tonight and do a more extensive article tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to this, and I have to give a big thank you to Morgan and Diane from the EIU Creative Writing Club for setting this up.
Haunted Charleston to be examined
Posted: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 11:07 pm
The legend of the Pemberton Hall ghost, as well as hauntings across Coles County, will be explored at a presentation Thursday.
Michael Kleen, author of “Tales of Coles County, Illinois,” will examine the historical and cultural contexts of haunting folklore in the Charleston area through his presentation, called “The Legend of Pemberton Hall.”
Kleen said the original talk of the Pemberton Hall ghost has multiple origins, including that a student was murdered in the residence hall during the 1920s and that the spirit of the hall’s first dorm mother still looks after the girls in-house.
He said there have been many reports over the years of odd or paranormal occurrences, including rearranged furniture and doors strangely opening and closing.
Kleen said while there are no records of murder in the hall, he nonetheless feels compelled to examine the history of such urban folklore, regardless of its truth.
WICD Channel 15 News in Champaign covered the 3rd Annual Central Illinois Paracon this weekend and generously included several quotes from myself, as well as the event organizer Becky Guymon and others. You can watch the video at this link or read an excerpt of the story here:
MATTOON– Psychics, tarot card, crystal, and aura readers, and even ghost hunters. All were on hand in Mattoon Saturday to speak with the public about paranormal activity. Organizers say it’s all part of an effort to better educate a thrill-seeking community.
Dozens of exhibitors and guest speakers were in Mattoon Saturday for the Central Illinois Paracon and Psychic Fair. Paranormal investigation teams from across the area were on hand to demonstrate ghost hunting equipment and techniques…
Several guest speakers have been featured on ghost hunting TV shows, but one speaker says the local interest is often traced to local history. Michael Kleen says, “People like to see something interesting about their hometown, they want to know there’s something going on that’s a little bit out of the ordinary that sort of makes living in the town that they live an exciting experience.”
That popularity has not been lost on the Illinois Metaphysical and Paranormal Society, which hosts the convention. Co-founder Becky Guymon says, “The community’s been great, we’ve had a lot of community support. A lot of people come out, I think everyone’s really interested in it. This is our third year doing this and it gets bigger every year.”
And though not every hunt turns up a ghost, sometimes the learning process is just as important. Kleen says, “The legend is important, you know? I don’t think just because a legend is untrue doesn’t mean it’s not meaningful. So I think it does detract a little bit in a sense. But the ghost stories are always going to be there no matter what.” [More…]
It was a packed day yesterday with two back-to-back appearances in the twin cities of Champaign and Urbana, one at the Beads N Botanicals on Broadway in Urbana and the other at the Barnes and Noble at the Marketview Shopping Center in Champaign. There were a lot of new faces at both these events, but some familiar ones as well. I spoke about some local legends at both of these appearances, and even shared a story from pioneer Illinois at Beads N Botanicals when one lady asked me to retell a story I had related on WILL Public Radio the previous day. After the events, some friends and I went to Old Chicago and enjoyed some calzones while talking about how well the book tour was going so far, as well as catching up, of course. If you wanted to attend but missed both book signings, you can pick up a signed copy of my book at both Barnes and Noble and Beads N Botanicals, but hurry because they are selling out fast!
Today I will be at the Book Warehouse at the Tanger outlet mall in Tuscola from 1 to 3, and then at my final event of the tour – “Legends and Lore of Central Illinois” at the notoriously haunted Peck Cemetery outside of Oakley (near Decatur) from 5 to 8pm. Money from the event will go to help restore the cemetery and preserve its history. I hope I see you there!