Investigating ghosts and legends are my hobby, I have participated in paranormal investigations, usually of haunted places and, moonlighting as a professional psychic, I've also done my fair share of house blessings and seances. To me it's more normal than paranormal and the weird is only weird because it's different or outside of our usual experience and ordinary knowledge. Plus, it's just damn "cool" to research things that are unexplained (even though the actual undertaking of such investigations are a tad bit on the boring side). However, after saying all this, you may think me silly but actually I'm as big a skeptic as Pen and Teller on their show "Bullshit!" (Encountering and dealing with other psychics who mix circus side-showmanship with New Age religious mumbo jumbo to psyche the cash out of the gulliable -- has given me a nose for bullshit). So, when I popped into the local bookstore for something entertaining to read and came across "The Wisconsin Road Guide to Haunted Locations" by Chad Lewis and Terry Fisk, I expected bullshit. Instead it's a book that tears apart some of the local haunted legends such as "Calvin's Blood" which I hope discourages people to finally leave that poor little civil war hero's resting place alone.
One legend has it that Calvin Blood killed his family and then hung himself from a crooked, evil-looking Oak tree that now hangs over his grave. In reality the guy never killed his family, he died of natural causes at the ripe old age of 81. At some point someone made up a scary story to frighten and amuse local teens and the cemetery soon became a hot bed of hysteria where kids dare each other to spend the night there. Years of beer parties and vandalism has hurt Blood Cemetery and very few grave markers remain. That's what happens when you let bullshit get out of control, if you ask me.
However, as I read on I came across something that did surprise me. I once had an experience of talking to a ghost, but at the time I didn't realize that what I was talking to was a ghost, much less a legendary one known to haunt a rural county road in the township of Linwood. In August of 1994, a group of friends and I were out walking along this county road one evening during a meteor shower. We were looking for a place to view the sky. I wandered off away from the group to pick up some Queen Anne's lace growing along side the road and I saw a man walk out of the trees toward me. He said, "Nice night for it, isn't it?" And I agreed. He was wearing overalls and I'd place his age to be in his mid 50s. I didn't think he was scary or weird, until I realized he had no legs! From the waist down he was fading. He disappeared as I was bending down to pick up the flowers I dropped when I noticed he had no legs and my friends were calling for me to catch up. "Who was that guy you were talking to?" one of my friends asked and I told him that I didn't know. I thought about telling them that the guy was a ghost, but I decided to let it go because there were a few people with us who were the excitable type and I didn't want to spoil the evening by freaking them out. So, ten years later I'm reading Chad Lewis and Terry Fisk's book and see the listing for "Old Swenson" located in Stevens Point, township of Linwood. Legend has it that there is this old guy of a ghost who walks along this road occasionally carrying flowers and flagging motorists down to help him look for where his wife is buried. People who've encountered this ghost will give him directions to the nearby cemetery(s) only to notice, as they drive off, that the guy they swear they just talked to has no legs and seems to be floating in mid-air! Other residents have reported that this is the ghost of Swenson (also known as Old Swanson) who used to work for Soo Line railroads in 1900 and was killed when his legs were severed in an accident, however there aren't any records to be found of someone named Swenson working in this area in 1900. Bullshit or not, this is the first time I've read about something so close to something weird I experienced in a book that I can't ignore it and can't help but snicker over it.