A little girl's voice is heard in a
McKendree University building.
An unseen visitor pounds on a
door near Millstadt.
boy is constantly running up and
down the stairs of a Belleville
Ghost stories -
people may not always believe them,
but love to hear them. Others see a
lining of truth in every tale.
"There's a reason I'm a
believer," said Suzanne Hutcherson,
of Swansea, a freelance writer who
loves ghost stories. "More and more
people tell me stories about what
has happened to them and I'm always
glad to listen."
And there's no
shortage of creepy tales from
Madison, Monroe and St. Clair
This month, the
Journals combed archives and files
to examine the most bloodcurdling,
spine-chilling and just plain
peculiar stories about our region.
We found lots of tales - and fewer
explanations. You decide.
McKendree University, Lebanon
Founded in 1828, several
historic buildings dot the campus of
McKendree University in Lebanon,
some with reported ghostly visitors.
Alumni Relations Director Jeff
Campbell may have experienced one.
"I don't want to feed into the
haunted myth story," Campbell said.
"There are always stories about
things you can't verify."
he does have a ghost story.
As a McKendree student in the 1980s,
around midnight or maybe 1 or 2
a.m., he went to the Holman Library
to hit the books in a 24-hour study
"You couldn't get into
the main part of the library, but
there were tables where you could
study," he said. "It was quiet. My
wife - she was my girlfriend at the
time - was with me. We heard a door
open and anticipated someone coming
in. We heard footsteps and watched,
and no one came in. We looked and no
one was there."
a junior from Troy, compiled a DVD
called "Ghosts of McKendree" for an
anthropology course two years ago.
Most of the stories he collected
center around Bothwell Chapel, built
"Mostly hearing," is
how he describes those encounters.
"Some hear people at the organ
playing music, others hear someone
sounds makes sense: Troy Taylor,
author of "Phantoms in the Looking
Glass," calls Lebanon "one of
Illinois' most haunted places."
Saxtown Road, St. Clair County
One of the
oldest ghost stories in the area
centers around Saxtown Road outside
Millstadt. Five members of the
Steltzenreide family were murdered
there on March 19, 1874. Like many
ghost stories, fact and legend have
blended through the years in the
telling of this story.
Hutcherson, the writer, recounts the
story, relating gruesome details of
the murder, replete with a violent
struggle. One account has one of the
victims clutching a mass of red
"But I have not found
that in any accounts of the murder,"
was built on the foundation of the
house where the murders occurred and
the owner of the home, Randy Eckert,
also experienced the unexplained. He
and his wife lived in the home from
1986 to 1989 and now rent it. When
asked about strange occurrences, he
"Every time on the
anniversary we would have something
weird go on," he said. "There's
always a dog barking in the distance
and sounds like they're a hundred
There also was
someone pounding on the door.
"I could see the door moving
from the knocking but no one was
"It was what it was,"
Eckert said. "I'm a sane person. It
was a strange, unexplainable
occurrence. I never had anything
like that before or since."
Built in 1918, this old theater
at 204 W. Main St. in Downtown
Collinsville has a long history of
visits of the supernatural variety.
Generations have reported noise
and strange events.
has it that the ghost of a 1920s
flapper pushed from the catwalk by a
jilted boyfriend still holds court
in the space, which also housed
victims of an influenza outbreak,
many who died in there. Another
ghost, named Lola, is said to haunt
the stage and dressing room. Some
actors also suspect a series of
spirits in the catwalks.
storied are the apparitions that the
Western Illinois Society for
Paranormal Research has inspected
the theater, which is also part of a
haunted tour of Collinsville sites
Known to generations of Metro
East residents, the "gates" are a
series of concrete railroad bridges
along Lebanon Road east of
Collinsville. Strange noises and
ghoulish screams are said to emanate
from the tunnels.
has it that if a motorist drives
through all seven and stops at the
last at midnight, they'll be taken
to the afterlife. Better hurry,
though: the Madison County Highway
Department is considering tearing
down one bridge to make way for a
wider Lebanon Road.
Cahokia Mounds State Historic
Site was home to Native Americans
who built one of the greatest cities
in the world. In 1250, more people
lived there than in London.
Some believe spirits still walk as
they did in the days before Columbus
arrived. Others report bursts of
light and unattended campfires on
Perhaps the most
widely-circulated haunted story site
in the Metro East, the former plot
off Illinois Route 159 near Route 11
north of Edwardsville once held
Three Mile House. It was the oldest
building in Madison County at the
The structure was built
by in 1852 by Frederick Gaerter as a
hunting lodge, although it's
believed to also have been a Civil
War hospital and stop on the
operated as a restaurant, it became
known for a colorful cast of ghosts,
including a lady in black who
smelled of lilac, a runaway slave
named Tom who committed suicide
there and a 12-year-old girl, Celia.
The eatery burned to the ground
in 1985, although it's unclear
whether its inhabitants perished
Cemetery, Granite City
Illinois Road Guide to Haunted
Locations" by Chad Lewis claims
this old graveyard off Illinois
Route 3 teems with spirits.
It's hidden in a thicket of brush
just north of the new Lowe's super
center beside a large retention
The cemetery holds the
bodies of about a dozen people, many
from the 1850s. Many of the
headstones are toppled and broken.
One woman buried at the
graveyard, Lucinda Irish, is said to
haunt Schaefer Road, which cuts
through the graveyard.
Around Main and Vandalia streets
in Edwardsville is said to once have
been inhabited by an old woman who
was believed to be a witch.
According to some, Hexabuchel means
Park in Madison is said to be
inhabited by the spirits of rival
gangsters killed by East St. Louis
mobsters in the day. The mobsters
used the location, just off Illinois
Route 203, as a dumping ground for
But Dave and Sandy Schoenborn of
Belleville, owners of the Lincoln
Theater at 103 E. Main St., can
probably challenge for the title of
"most haunted." Reports of strange
relates several stories.
technician spends a lot of time
working in the projection booth," he
said. "He tells me, 'That little kid
has been running up and down the
steps bothering me.' It usually
happens when he's working by
Schoenborn said the
spirit is "more of a prankster."
"My one friend said he came in
and saw a white thing floating up in
the balcony a few years ago," he
said. "He saw it clear as day, a
woman was up there."
Schoenborn also wants to hear from
his patrons about their experiences
and has created a Facebook page to
"Our spirits -
none of them are malicious," he
Maybe not malicious,
but just a little bit spooky. Happy
for this story
Suzanne Hutcherson has published
several haunting tales and likes
collecting such stories. She can be
reached by e-mail,
Troy Taylor, author of "Phantoms
in the Looking Glass," calls Lebanon
"one of Illinois' most haunted
places." He conducts history and
hauntings ghost tours through the
Suburban Journal archives also
provided past newspaper accounts for
sites and incidents