Witchcraft power

By Caryl Clem:

Distortion of reality

Flickering lights floating free

Possible spiritual aggression

Visual perception becomes a question

As illusions become a mystery.

Avoid the woods where among thick branches

The Russian Witch on chicken legs haunches

Ready to capture and curse any stranger

Who ignored danger, took no precaution.

Catermaco, Mexico, witchcraft central

Warlock magic viewed as professional.

Spanish black and white magic reside

Avoid a spiritual collide, hire a guide.

English witch, Treva punished doubters

Tortured unbelievers in supernatural power.

Around the world l witchcraft egends abound

Terrifying tales of witches actions in stories

Keeping children through the centuries spellbound.

Halloween 1950/60’s and today

By Caryl Clem:

During the late 1950’s, Halloween was big. I vividly recall the planning for a homemade costume started in the summer-to find material and finalize the creative design embellishments. My childhood ritual was to meet with 4-5 neighbor friends, then walk to the agreed 7 to 8 houses of  nearby neighbors. Small town congeniality, the Moms met beforehand to divided food favorites of popcorn balls,  peanut-butter cookies, oatmeal/raisin cookies, rich chocolate cake, a bag of peanuts, fruit. My decorated shopping bag overflowed with homemade delicacies.

Next was a neighbor’s  Halloween Party  with a blindfolded spooky hunt including grabbing peeled grapes that felt like eyeballs, feeling sharp bony pieces while digging for hidden prizes in a mysterious container. Later in the evening, The Lion’s Club or American Legion had a costume contest and surprise goody bag to take home.  By high school age, we were no longer trick or treating. We were at work or helping answer the door for the younger generation.

In 1951, the famous cartoon figure, “Peanuts” is seen “trick or treating” down his street. Disney follows suit in 1952 showing a cartoon of Donald Duck taking his nephews, Huey, Dewie, and Louie out. The cartoon initiates the now popular term in its title, “Trick or Treat “.  Commercial products replace homemade goods , department stores produced mass quantities of super hero costumes.  Home and family based magazines run features on decorating, food recipes, annual  popular costume choice, and games for Halloween.

Old rituals of carving hollowed out gourds, and  turnips to make lanterns warding off evil spirits changed to using  pumpkins by immigrants arriving in America. Hunting for the perfect pumpkin remain a family favorite.  The legend of Stingy Jack, rejected by God and the Devil, explains why Jack is forced to roam through Halloween Night with a lantern. The popular term,  Jack  O’Lantern, for the lit pumpkins guarding doorsteps. Since the 1960’s, the  lure of graveyards, ghosts and spooky illusions inspire outdoor decorating as towns sponsor haunted houses.

Popcorn balls first recipe appeared in 1861 and taffy apples discovered in 1904 now arrive in the home bought at stores. Prepackaged goods are preferred after incidents of tampering were reported. The most famous in 2000 when a Snickers bar had needles In spite of the small incident rate, pressure for safety has favored tightly packaged goods too small to hide objects inside with towns banning homemade products.

Now popular, it is the trunk and treat party where invited friends come to share treats together at a designated parking lot with their car trunks decorated and share treats instead of going door to door, trick or treating. Not only has it been a great social experience for small children in the community, schools and clubs are organizing trunk or treat parties along with assigning a theme.

Halloween has become the second biggest holiday celebrated in America! Last year an estimated 6 billion dollars was spent by Halloween fans.

Have a very Happy Halloween!

Prairie Avenue ghosts

I love to walk up and down the historic avenue. I have read many historical novels such as Prairie Avenue by Arthur Meeker.  Its always a new field trip to walk with the ghosts on Millionaires Row and to read about them. Residents of the street have influenced the evolution of the city and have played prominent national and international roles moving there after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. By 1886, the finest mansions in the city, each equipped with its own carriage house, stood on Prairie Avenue. In the 1880s, mansions for George Pullman, Marshall Field, John J. Glessner, Philip Armour and Kimball. Mansions were located between 16th and 22nd streets.

A few of the mansions do remain such as the Glessner House which is a active museum and the Henry B. Clarke house, also a museum. The Marshall Field, Jr. Mansion at 1919 South Prairie Avenue, now condos, is marvel of preservation and sensitive reuse. And many say that Prairie Avenue is haunted.

Glessner House was designed by noted American architect Henry Hobson Richardson and completed in 1887. So different from the Victorian houses that were being built at the time and eventually those, for the most part, were torn down. The House is a National Historic Landmark and offers wonderful tours with many of the rooms accurately restored to their original appearance and decorative objects and furnishings have been added by the Glessner family. John Glessner lived there until 1936 and thousands tour the house every year.

Henry Hobson Richardson never got to see his creation built since he died after he completed the blue prints. Many have seen him walk the halls. Even during the time the Glessner family lived there, Haunted houses.com  claim that many family member felt a cold presence moving through the mansion,even today.

The Glessner House Museum offers haunted tours of historic Prairie Avenue. Director of the Glessner House has admitted that there is a strange feeling that has been experienced on the street. The Keith House, privately owned by Marcy Baim, is another on the street. It has been restored, at 1900 Prairie and offers special events such as weddings.

The Kimball House: The house was built in 1890–92 for William Wallace Kimball, a piano manufacturer. I still have a Kimball upright that was built in 1949.  Kimball reportedly spent $1,000,000 on the home. The house is located at 1801 Prairies and though some feel that the outside design is cold, the inside is beautiful with maple floors and 29 rooms which have been sub- divided though many have stayed the same such as the library, huge drawing room, and dining room that housed Mrs. Kimballs massive silver collection. She also collected many paintings by such artists as Rembrandt, Millet, and Monet including many others. But when Mrs Kimball died in 1921, the house was converted to a boarding house which eventually failed and was bought by Daisy Hull for 8,000 in backward children. But finally, the house, along with the Coleman house at 1811 were acquired by R. R. Donnelley in 1973 who donated them to the Chicago Architecture Foundation in 1991.  They leased and then sold the properties to the U. S. Soccer Federation for use as their national headquarters, which is how the building is used today. Mrs Kimball still walks the halls. Noises have been heard along with apparitions seen as well as the feeling of being watched.

The Marshall Field Jr House: According to Curbed Chicago, Designed by architect Solon Spencer Beman, the home sold to the son of one of Chicago’s most famous 19th century entrepreneurs for $65,000 in 1890. After a stint as a psychiatric hospital, the structure was sold to the Chicago Architectural Foundation in the 1970s before being partitioned into condominiums in 2007. There are six million dollar condos with a private courtyard in the back. In the past, there have been claims to hear footsteps and strange cries.

Find out more about the Shadows on the Street: Haunted Tours of Historic Prairie Avenue Glessner House 1800 South Prairie Avenue Chicago, IL, 60616 United States.  During this 60 minute walking tour through the Prairie Avenue Historic District, learn about the mystery surrounding the death of Marshall Field Jr., the tragic events that plagued the Philander Hanford house, the lingering ghost of Edson Keith, and more.

Fall scenes

By Caryl Clem:

Festive October clad trees

Leaves swirling in brisk breezes

Parading along the winding road.

Blazing badges of red, orange gold

Against the brilliant dress blues sky

Bittersweet time to bid summer goodbye.

A rake, my swinging partner dancing

Two stepping across the lawn, entrancing.

Burning sacrificial piles, yard ashtray

Inhaling memories of yesterday and today.

Flattened fields, corn stalks, hay stacks

Packages of harvest goods climax.

Beer fairs, Germanic food traditions

Worldwide Oktoberfest celebrations

Vintage attire, Chicken Dance contests

Heritage customs survive modern progress.

Gather, raise your glasses high

Toast this year’s bountiful supply.

Chicago’s only Irish castle

I have attended a wedding back in the 1980’s. My mother lived not far from the castle during her elementary years of school in Beverly.  The castle was built on Longwood drive and 103rd, three stories high, with crenelated towers of limestone. Known as the Givens Castle, it was to look like a real Irish Castle from Dublin.

The south side Chicago castle was built between 1866-1867 under the direction of Robert C. Givins. According to Beverly Unitarian Church Fellowship, which purchased the church in 1942,  originally the castle had fifteen beautifully furnished rooms. They were decorated with rich tapestries, elegant chandeliers, and big copper gaslights; they were warmed with tiled fireplaces and were lit with stained glass windows.

There were five owners, or some say, castle keepers of the building. The Givins family, the Chicago Female College, the Burdett family, the Siemens family, and finally Beverly Unitarian Church. The Givins family lived there on and off from 1887 to 1909. The Chicago Female College, a prestigious high school for girls, rented the Castle from 1895 to 1897. The Burdett family lived in the Castle from 1909 to 1921. The Siemens family lived in the Castle from 1921 to 1942. Today, the Commission for Chicago Landmarks have claimed the house as Chicago’s only castle.

But after my mother would drive me by her old home in Beverly in the 1960’s, she would take me by the castle and claim,that it was haunted, according to her father. We attended a wedding together in later years and I didn’t see a ghost, neither did she, but some still claim that within the castle, they have heard mysterious sounds such as the tinkling of glasses with no logical reason.

According to Prairie Ghosts and my Mom, a young girl had died from the flu back in the 1930’s when the castle was owned by the Chicago Female College. In the early 1960’s,the janitor of the church saw a young girl and actually talked to her. She seemed confused and mentioned that the church was not the  same. The custodian was sitting with her and then got up to walk away, turned back to approach the young girl and she was gone.  Legend and my Mom claim that this girl was the ghost of the one who died and was in shock, especially not realizing that this castle was now a church. The custodian searched everywhere and the girl was not found, even footsteps in the snow outside did not appear that day.

Halloweens spellbinding customs

By Caryl Clem:

As summer ends on October 31 and fall begins November 1st according to the Gaul calendar, the boundary between the living and the dead dissolves freeing spirits of the past to roam free. Unknown whether a visiting spirit is friend or foe, your logical defense was to dress up like a ghost spirit to camouflage that you are still alive. Food is served for all visitors to spread the message of goodwill. Samhain was the most important holiday for Celts in pre-Christian times.  Later, medieval poor of all ages go door to door begging for “Soul Cakes”, in exchange for praying for the family’s past relatives on the Catholic Church’s All Saints Day.

In Scotland and Ireland, the youth dressed up knocking on neighbors doors entertaining the door opener with a heartfelt song, poetry, or telling a funny story. After a brief performance and review of the costume, a reward of fruit, nuts, or coins would be given. During the potato famine in 1846, over 300,000  people from Ireland and Scotland headed for North America .

The influence of Scottish, Irish and British Halloween customs started to spread across America. By the late 1800’s, it was a common practice. Wealthy families competed by hosting elaborate Halloween parties offering food, games, dancing, and drink for costumed guests. Churches offered parties for the young and old that my grandmother, born in 1885 and mother born in 1908, remembered.

Apples were sacrificial fruit in pagan times.  By 1800’s in the northeastern states. apple bobbing meant  male guests diving for previously marked apples secretly coded by ladies. The coupling between these women and men is believed destined to occur. If a young lady can peel an apple in one long strip, she throws the strip over her right shoulder to glance at the letter the apple peel forms on the floor. The initial formed foretells of a lover nearby with a name of that letter.  At midnight, a maiden can look between a lit Jack O’Lantern and a mirror  to find an image of her future husband.

Halloween is less scary as chubby faced  kids appear celebrating Halloween fun in 1904  by artist Grace Drayton, Campbell Soup kid creator. The postcard craze postcard craze to celebrate Halloween lasted from late 1890’s until 1918. A delightful sample is in this link Brave this bounty of 27 beautiful and bizarre antique Halloween… 

The Depression and a sugar ration dampened Halloween giving until the late 1930’s as communities started to sponsor family/kid friendly activities.

 

More ghosts in DuPage County

Tivoli Theater: According to Ursula Bielski, in Chicago Haunts, Downers Grove’s Tivoli theater was the location of a tragic fire set by a pyromaniac many years ago.  According to the story, the subject set the fire but was trapped in the backstage area and died. However, the remains were never found and the worker never was heard of again. People have seen a strange mist rise by the curtain in front of the movie screen. To this day, they have no logical explanation for the mist.

Emmets Brewing Company: Nick Vogel from the Suburban Life shares a story of a janitor who worked after hours at Emmets, located on Main street in Downtown Downers Grove. The man accidentally fell asleep in a booth and something woke him grabbing his leg and then something touched his arm. He saw an apparition that moved to wall which is bordered by the cemetery next door. He hears noises and doors slamming all the time and he feels it is a spirit from the Main street cemetery which began in 1859, interring many war veterans. However, all interments are not known, but those which are,  they are mentioned in the booklet “Voices That Are Gone” by the village Historical Society, and for sale by them.

Country House: One of my favorite burgers on dark rye while enjoying a rustic atmosphere and a beautiful fireplace in the bar area is served at the Country House in Clarendon Hills; a family friendly restaurant I have frequented for over 30 years and even their website talks about the famous ghost.

In 1974 during a meeting with a contractor to renovate the restaurant, the men were sitting in the bar and shutters on the windows opened without human contact displaying shafts of light. Other workers have seen dishes move and have heard moaning in the walls. Others have actually seen a woman who they call the lady in blue.

The Country House has gone through a number of ownership changes over the years and is currently owned by two local residents who purchased it in 1974 according to the Clarendon Hills Historical Society.  It’s the late 1950s, and the story begins like so many others – with a bartender and a pretty blonde. On this particular evening, the woman visited her regular establishment. After a few choice words with her lover, a fight erupted that greatly upset her. The woman was so hurt by the exchange and the actions of her lover that she left in huff. Unfortunately, the roads were as uncaring; she collided with a tree or a telephone poled a short distance from The Country House. While she might have perished in the accident on that fateful night, she lives on through her daughter and the legend of The Country House.” Some say she had a daughter with her And the lover went after her.

Leland Tower:  In Aurora, Leland Tower was built as a hotel in 1926 and even had telephones in the rooms. It was a twenty two story building; one of the tallest outside of Chicago. Topping the skyscraper, was the Sky Club, a dinner and dancing club outfitted with elaborate decor and furnishings of the highest quality. But in the 1960’s is became an apartment building. Many suicides have occurred over the years with jumping to ones death in the Fox River. According to Ghost Stories World, elevator banks are very mysterious at night. Eerie moaning sounds are heard from there sometimes. Foul ghastly odor smells throughout the building on those spooky nights. Some of those folks who lived there admitted that Aurora is haunted. They felt weird several times. Always sensed like being watched by uncanny presences or have seen a mysterious cat who really scared some of them.

Old Copely Hospital: The hospital was established in 1888 and had about 25 beds. In 1995, the new Rush-Copley Medical Center was constructed and the Old Copley Hospital closed. The hospital currently is in bad shape due to a poor asbestos problem and massive decay. According to sources, some who had stayed at the hospital, it is rumored to be haunted. Some have seen apparitions and the guest visits of a nun. In the news this week, developers would like to bring the hospital back to life instead of demolishing it forever. What about the ghosts then?

 

Lincoln Park ghosts

According to Mysterious Chicago, for almost thirty years, picturesque Lincoln Park served as the City Cemetery, and home to thousands of corpses which some say were never moved. Construction in 1998 alone unearthed 81 bodies!  But experts claim that many bodies were never moved. The Ira Couch tomb still stands on the south end.

In 1837, The state of Illinois gave Chicago a piece of land outside the city limits to use as a burial ground. This land was located in what is now the southern edge of Lincoln Park. From 1843-1859, it served as Chicago’s City Cemetery, including the family-owned lots, Potter’s Field and the Jewish and Catholic cemeteries.  According to sources, There were tens of thousands of burials in the cemetery, many due to cholera outbreaks. During a six-day period in July of 1854 more than 200 cholera victims were buried in the Potter’s

John H. Rauch, who was a doctor, began writing papers about the hazards of the cemetery. Because the grounds were so near the lake and below the water table, the bacteria from the bodies was at risk of seeping into the water supply. Another reason is that the city inhabitants were tired of a cemetery so near where they lived, and they decided they wanted a pretty park along the lake front. In 1869, the city officials passed control of the cemetery grounds, along with the northern 50-acres of unused area of the cemetery property, already used as a park, to the Lincoln Park Commissioners.

Cemeteries such as Graceland, and Rose hill were established because of the over crowding in Lincoln Park.

Bodies were supposedly moved from 1868-1880s, but sources claim only 10 men working to move them. Also, shortly after, the Chicago Fire destroyed many of the markers in the cemetery and graves were missed as well as lost. The only one that was left was the Couch Memorial, which is still in the park.

Many of the haunting s have been witnessed at the Lincoln Zoo staff who have seen ghostly apparitions of people in Victorian dress as well as the same woman in a white dress. She tends to frequent the Lion house but quickly disappears when seen. In 1962 when the Zoos barn was built for farm animals, they found a body when they began digging but left it undisturbed and built over the grave. The director sought instruction from officials on what to do with very little responses. Paranormal activity has been seen in this area of the zoo. Doors slamming and phantom footsteps are constantly heard. Theresa’s Haunted History offers a great explanation of ghosts on You Tube.

Ghostly sightings in Crystal Lake

By CARYL CLEM:

Ghost curiosity, about unexplained mysteries of paranormal activity grows as digital equipment and better camera equipment captures proof of the apparitions. Unexpected, often dreaded, an uninvited visitor appears floating then dissolving into a wall, air, or sky. Transparent figures not held by physical boundaries, some make noises, move objects, slam doors, emit smells of  perfume or smoke, others are moving orbs of light, or cast a shadow turning into a green mists.

Experts classify ghosts into 5 main groups:

  • Interactive Personality that portrays a loved one or famous person.
  • Ectoplasm or Ecto-Mist a vaporous form that rises from the ground usually white or green.
  • Poltergeist has the ability to make sounds and move physical items whose energy can increase to dangerous levels.
  • Orbs are balls of translucent light most often photographed among ghost hunters.
  • Funnel ghosts, swirling forms spied in buildings and landmark structures.

For the ghost believer or doubter, YouTube offers several videos that capture the essence of ghost hunting online.  Crystal Lake is 50 miles from Chicago and has a history dating back to 1836. Crystal Lake has 7 acclaimed haunting locations.

1.  The Dole Mansion constructed from 1858-1864 owned by a prominent businessman Charles Grain and ice baron member on the Chicago Board of Trade. After the civil war, the imposing Italian style mansion on the beach of Crystal Lake includes servant quarters and a stable for racing horses. Another family, Ringling circus owners, bought the property,  converting the estate to a country club. The Depression closed the their doors but now as historical landmark.

The Haunted Dole Mansion Crystal Lake, Illinois – YouTube

2.  Colonel Palmer House an over 150 year old Greek Revival architecture has been rumored to have faces of beaten children peering out basement windows while screams can be heard in the air. A story was created about an orphanage with a mean man in charge except no record exists of an orphanage on that property.

3.  Barnes and Noble Bookstore claim a ghostly patron lady who can be seen rocking in the back storeroom or who invisibly moves carts of books around the store. Items mysteriously disappear to be found later. An elderly lady willed her land to a church to be used as a site for a school. The land was sold for other purposes.

4.  Fountains of Crystal Lake have had several reports of following wispy figures traveling down upper floor hallways to reach a dead end where the translucent form dissolves through a wall, while leaving one can hear footsteps behind them. It has been reported that on a checkerboard upstairs, pieces move without human assistance. Basement visitors feel a chill in the air, and report strong sensations of being watched.

5.  Lake Avenue Cemetery is rumored to be haunted by a women committing suicide; setting herself on fire.

6.  Park in Covered Bridge Trails has witnesses reporting activity by the stream of various orbs of light.

7.  Mount Thabor Cemetery has frequent witness reports of swirling orbs, associated with the symbol of a human soul. Luminous multicolored balls of red, green, and white have been photographed. Several sightings describe an eerie green mist. Check out more from USA Today

If an entire day of ghost hunting sounds daunting, Crystal Lake offers an array of activities to explore from the  quaint downtown, modern shopping centers, restaurants, golf course,  amidst scenic views of Crystal Lake.  What To Do with 15 Landmark Preservation homes and various water sports at Three Oaks Recreation Area is just a sample of what is available.  A Heritage Trolley Tour is offered in June.

Chicago’s haunted cemeteries

Graceland Cemetery: On Chicago’s North Side, Inez Clarke is suppose to haunt the cemetery and has for several decades. A little girl that has been seen wandering the cemetery grounds. As the stories were told, it was the ghost of a little girl who had died in a lightening storm, while spending time outside at a family picnic, when she was six years old. However, according to Prairie Ghosts and a cemetery expert, no Inez Clarke has ever been buried at Graceland. He also looked up US Census records and found that no child existed at all.  Other supernatural stories exist at Graceland that include the Statue of Death where it has been said that if you look into the scary face of the statue, you may see what your own death in the future will be!

Rosehill Cemetery: Beginning in 1859, Rosehill is the largest and oldest cemetery in Chicago occupying over 330 acres of land and located at 5800 North Ravenswood Avenune. According to the Ghost Research Society, the most recent sighting of an apparition occurred in October of 1995 when a grounds keeper burst into the administration building around eight o’clock in the evening swearing that he had seen a strange figure of a woman on the grounds. She had been standing by a tree near the Peterson Avenue wall. As he began to walk towards her to find out what was wrong, he suddenly froze in his tracks. The apparition seemed to be floating wearing a vintage dress! The ghost disappeared into a mist and it was only then that he was able to move; hurrying to the administration building. Here, he made a report of what he saw. The very next day a phone call was received by the Rosehill office from a woman calling from Des Plaines who said that her deceased aunt had made a nocturnal visit. Her aunt was complaining to her that she had not been properly remembered and that no grave marker adorned her burial plot. She ordered a monument for her aunt, Carrie Kalbas, and since that day, no ghostly sightings have been reported. The Ghost Research Society has electronically visited many haunted sites in the cemetery but have found nothing so far.

Mt Carmel: Currently an active cemetery, Mt Carmel is a Roman Catholic cemetery located in the Chicago suburb of Hillside, Illinois. The most recent famous interment was the body of Cardinal Joseph Bernardine after his death in 1996 from liver and pancreatic cancer.  Mt Carmel is also the final resting place of gangster, Al Capone and many have claimed to see his ghost by his gravestone. Julie Petta, who died in childbirth, is also a famous ghost to walk the lawns of Mt Carmel also known as the Italian bride. Julia, it is said, died either in childbirth or on her wedding night. As legend has it, her mother was abused with nightmares from Julia that her grave be opened. After six years, Mother finally had her body exhumed and surprisingly, she was in great condition. The Mother was allowed to to build her a massive monument. According to The order of the good death, the monument to Julia was financed by her brother in 1927, six years after her death to celebrate her unusual death.

Holy Sepulchre: My aunt and uncle were buried at Holy Sepulchre, a beautiful Catholic Cemetery in Alsip. But the cemetery is also home to the legend of Mary Alice Quinn, known as Chicago’s Miracle Child. Mary died when she was 14 and was buried in the Reilly family plot but prior to her death, she was a natural healer. Those that visited her grave saw apparitions and smelt roses even in the winter time according to sources. The late Mayor Richard J. Daley is buried in Section 19, near the cemetery entrance on 111th Street.  The same section also contains the burial place of Dan Ryan, long time Cook County Board President after whom the Dan Ryan Expressway is named.  Helen Morgan, famous blues singer is interred in Section 14 and more than 500 priests, brothers and sisters are also interred according to the Ghost Research Society. A number of car accidents have occurred on the 111th side of the cemetery but most have been explained.

Resurrection Cemetery: Check out this article that I published last year about Mary  https://karlasullivandotcom.wordpress.com/2017/09/20/chicagos-most-popular-ghost-resurrection-mary/

Bachelors Grove: Check out this article also published last year https://karlasullivandotcom.wordpress.com/2017/09/26/chicagos-most-haunted-bachelors-grove/