HORICON — The many gruesome hauntings of the Midwest and Wisconsin held the interest of the audience as Chad Lewis, searcher of paranormal, talked to an appreciative crowd at the Horicon Public Library on Thursday evening.
One place of notable haunting is Little Bohemia, a resort lodge off Highway 51 in Manitowish Waters. It is one of the locations in Wisconsin that portions of the filming of "Public Enemies" took place. That movie, set for release on July 1, 2009, stars Johnny Depp as John Dillinger, the nation's number one public enemy in 1934.
According to Lewis, Little Bohemia was a haven during the off-season where criminals rolled out and wanted to stay for a whole week. In 1934 Dillinger arrived at Little Bohemia with Tommy Carroll, Baby Face Nelson, Homer Van Meter, Three Finger Jack and a number of beautiful molls.
"Due to the heavy firearms they carried and their 'gangster' suits, they were immediately recognized by the owner," Lewis said. "The owners made the mistake of alerting the authorities by smuggling messages out on matchbook covers to members of their family. The Chicago Bureau of the FBI was notified and they rushed to the lodge, waiting for Dillinger to come out. At 9 p.m., three local men, who had finished eating, left the building. Thinking it was Dillinger, the FBI opened fire. The gunfire alerted Dillinger and his men who immediately began to start shooting back. That gave them enough time to escape through the rear windows and vanish into the woods. The FBI forgot to cover the back door."
To those who might choose to visit Little Bohemia, Lewis pointed out that there is evidence to be seen. Among the items of note are Dillinger's personal identification and some guns dating back to his stay there.
And, of course, there are the spirits.
"People believe there are ghosts who still wander the halls. The cabin that Dillinger stayed in has bullet holes in the windows. People who take walks are said to find things in their room rearranged when they return," Lewis said. "And guests have reported to having seen apparitions and hearing strange voices in the cabin that Dillinger stayed in."
"Road Guide to Haunted Locations in Wisconsin" (plus Illinois, South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota), authored by Lewis and Terry Fisk were available for sale, along with "Hidden Headlines of Wisconsin" and "UFO Wisconsin."