Ghost hunters don’t need to see to believe
Appleton gathering explores oddities, unexplained
By Susan Squires
APPLETON — By day, he’s Chad Lewis, mild-mannered
grant writer. But when ghosts come tapping and aliens
kidnapping, he straps on the electromagnetic field
meter and becomes Chad Lewis, Paranormal Investigator.
Lewis’ alter ego is appealing to the occasional woman,
but unfortunately, not ghosts. The sleuth from Eau
Claire, who orchestrated Saturday’s Unexplained
Conference at the Best Western Midway in Appleton, has
never rousted a ghost. Or even seen one.
Quoting a fellow ghost buster, Lewis says: “If you’re
afraid of ghosts, the best place to hang out is with a
ghost investigator because we never see them.”
The grave stone of Kate Blood in Riverside
Cemetery in Appleton is said to be haunted.
Believers say a strange blood-like substance has
been seen seeping from the stone. Those who study
the paranormal discussed this oddity as well as
other unexplained events on Saturday during the
Unexplained Conference in Appleton.
Perhaps, he says, he’d have more luck if he left
behind his cadre of deputies and the motion detectors,
tactical flashlights and infrared thermometers.
“Maybe we should try to blend in and trick the ghost,”
Nevertheless, Lewis doesn’t have to see to believe.
“I’ve talked to hundreds upon hundreds of credible,
rational, intelligent people who describe paranormal
experiences. They all can’t be wrong. They all can’t
be hallucinating. Something must be going on,” Lewis
What that something is certainly is the question
people come to these meetings to explore. Some have
had their curiosity tapped by Halloween superstitions.
Some belong to one of the groups around the area that
get together to talk and explore, or exchange stories
about sightings over the Internet. Some are aspiring
Tracy Vandermuss of Green Bay falls into the latter
two categories. Vandermuss, who has had a fascination
with the paranormal since childhood, goes to
conferences like Saturday’s two or three times a year.
“I find the stories fascinating, and it’s a chance to
meet other people who are interested in the
paranormal,” he said.
His favorite ghost story is the alleged haunting of
the Maribel Hotel in Manitowoc County, known among
believers as “Hotel Hell.” The legend goes that Al
Capone owned the hotel, that it burned three times,
that 30 people died in one of the fires and that their
skeletal remains are still in the building.
One of Lewis’ favorite stories is about Kate Blood’s
grave in Appleton’s Riverside Cemetery. Blood
supposedly killed her husband. Witnesses claim to have
had spooky experiences at her grave.
Actually, Capone never owned the Maribel Hotel, there
was one fire, nobody died, and, consequently, there
are no skeletons. Nor did Blood kill her husband. He
outlived her, in fact.
But the truth about the sites doesn’t diminish the
ghost hunters’ fascination. Debunking fallacies is
what they do. Just because the backstory is mundane
doesn’t mean the hotel or the grave aren’t haunted.
“Different people have similar stories, and that makes
it hard to write them off,” said Vandermuss, who’d
like to investigate the paranormal fulltime.
That’s not a career path Lewis would recommend, but he
says chasing the unseen is a fine hobby, especially
among Wisconsin’s nooks and crannies.
“Wisconsin’s supposed sleepiness is the butt of
jokes,” Lewis said, “but when you choose to look,
there are some very odd things going on.”
Susan Squires can be reached at 920-993-1000, ext.
On the Web:
• Appleton Curling Club, 307 N. Westhill
Blvd., Grand Chute: Some visitors report
seeing the ghost of several former
members lurking around. Witnesses report
hearing footsteps. Some say they’ve
smelled tobacco smoke they associate
with one past member. Longtime member
Mark Davis told The P-C in 2004 that the
rumors are likely jokes.
• Riverside Cemetery, 1901 Algoma Blvd.,
Oshkosh: The ghost of a young child is
reputed to wander among the tombstones.
• Riverside Cemetery, 714 N. Owaissa
St., Appleton: Witnesses report seeing a
blood-like substance oozing from the
tombstone of Kate Blood. Legend says
it’s because she killed her husband,
although in reality she did not. In
fact, she died before he did.
• Secura Insurance Co., 2401 S. Memorial
Drive, Appleton: Reportedly, the ghostly
cries of a young woman have been heard
from the lake. According to lore, she is
looking for her child, who drowned in
the lake 150 years ago. Unfortunately
for lore, there was no lake until 1962.
• The Grand Opera House, 100 High Ave.,
Oshkosh: Haunts include a dog that
purportedly interferes with productions.
Source: Chad Lewis
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