By Joy Neighbors
Just in time for Halloween, here are just a few ghostly tales to make your weekend “spirited.”
The Chesterville Witch
Chesterville, Illinois was a quiet Amish community once located near Rockome Gardens. Buried in the former town cemetery is a marker that bears no name. What’s left of an iron fence tries to enclose the block-type stone, which many say marks the grave of a woman who was killed for being a witch.
Back at the turn of the last century, it was rumored that the Amish woman challenged her church about their views being too conservative. She believed that women should have a more active role than simply serving men. The Amish elders did not take kindly to such heresy and accused her of working with the devil. A short time later, the woman simply disappeared. Her body was later found in a nearby field.
The woman was buried in the town cemetery where an oak tree was planted on top of her grave in order to trap her spirit. Legend has it that when the tree dies, she will be free to return and take revenge on the area. For now, her ghost can be seen at times, standing near her grave.
Pere Cheney- A Ghost Town
What was once a thriving lumber town known as Pere Cheney in Michigan is now a ghost town – literally. Pere Cheney was established in 1874 after the railway placed a stop there. George Cheney built a sawmill, and lumberjacks and their families began to arrive. Three years later, the village was large enough to support two sawmills, a general store and a doctor. Pere Cheney was booming, but that was before the “bad luck” began.
In 1893, residents were hit with outbreaks of diphtheria, scarlet fever, and small pox. Next, several fires raged through the town, probably due to sparks from the mills. Others said it was the work of the witch. In 1897, another outbreak of diphtheria took a toll on the town. By 1901, the population was down to about two-dozen people. By 1917, the village land was sold at a public auction, and the last 18 residents moved away. Pere Cheney was a ghost town.
But some believed the town was cursed from the start because it was built on Native American land. Others said a local witch had placed a curse on Pere Cheney after she was banished for practicing witchcraft. Legend has it that she was hunted down in the woods, taken to the cemetery and hanged from a tree that she was then buried under. Visitors to the cemetery report they have seen her ghost standing under a tree …
While there’s nothing to support the witch legend, no one denies that strange happenings do occur in the cemetery, where out of 90 burials only a few gravestones remain. Handprints have been discovered on vehicles after leaving the graveyard. Others have heard the sounds of children laughing and playing in the vacant cemetery. And ghostly figures, voices and floating orbs have been reported there and in the nearby woods.
The remains of the town are located a couple of miles away – the ruins of what’s left of the hopes and dreams of the townsfolk of Pere Cheney.
The Grey Lady
This is the most famous ghost story in the Hoosier State, thanks to several ghost-hunter television programs, the Willard Library “ghost-cams,” and the Willard Library Ghost Chatters, a dedicated group who keeps an eye out for this specter all year along.
Willard Library was established in 1885 by Willard Carpenter, a well-to-do Evansville businessman. The three-story Victorian Gothic-style building is the oldest public library in Indiana.
The first report of the library being haunted occurred in the winter of 1937. As the janitor was stoking the basement furnace in the early morning hours, he came face-to-face with a woman dressed in grey. When he asked what she wanted, she simply faded away. (The janitor quit the next morning.)
The Grey Lady is known to move furniture, push books off shelves, and occasionally touch patrons. Footsteps can be heard when no one is on the floor in question, and the scent of lilac or lavender perfume sometimes wafts through the air. She has been seen numerous times on the main staircase, and appears to enjoy working in the children’s section.
Who is the Grey Lady? Some claim it is Carpenter’s daughter, Louise who is unhappy that her father left his money (her inheritance) to the library. But the majority of ghost hunters claim that this is the spirit of one of the librarians who worked here years ago.
Although it’s too late to catch an evening tour this year, check out the Library Ghost Cams and the Willard Library Ghost Cams , you might be surprised by what you see …