Chad Lewis has traveled far and wide in
search of the unexplained. He's hunted
vampires in Transylvania, foraged the
jungles of Costa Rica for El Chupacabra,
chased UFOs in New Mexico and
investigated strange occurrences
He's is well
versed in the story of Resurrection
Mary, the grizzly discovery at Ramsey
Cemetery and the Gates of Hell. Lewis is
even aware of a haunted house right here
in Coal City, where there would be
rappings on the windows, music would
play and the lights often flickered.
"How much do you really know about
the history of your own house," Lewis
asked during an Oct. 1 presentation at
the Coal City Public Library.
paranormal investigator, Lewis has spent
the past 14 years researching the
unexplained from ghosts and sea serpents
to bigfoot and the skunk ape, and in all
that time he's never seen a ghost. In
fact, he's never seen anything
paranormal, but that doesn't mean others
Take for example the
National Park Service employees working
at the Lincoln Home in Springfield who
on more than one occasion have witnessed
the late president's favorite rocking
chair moving back and forth.
There's also the story of the Devil Baby
that has reportedly been seen gazing out
of an upstairs window at the Jane Addams
Hull House in Chicago.
details the story of the Devil Baby and
other strange Hull House occurrences in
The Illinois Road Guide to Haunted
paperback book, co-authored by Terry
Fisk, features 49 stories of haunted
places from one end of the state to the
"You live in one hell of
a strange state," Lewis told the 50-plus
people who had gathered in the library's
meeting room for his presentation. He
later noted that while every state has
its share of unexplained stories,
Illinois has so many that they couldn't
be covered in just one book.
"Every place has its story," said Lewis.
One of the best parts of his job is
traveling around the world meeting new
people and hearing their stories. In the
few hours that he spent in Coal City he
was told about a screaming mummy at the
Field Museum and questioned about his
knowledge of strange happenings at one
particular state university.
can't throw a rock in the Midwest and
not hit a university where you can't dig
up a ghost story," he said. Outside of a
few brief mentions in the foreword of
his book, there's not a haunted
university story in it. But there are
plenty of others.
Take the story
of Al Capone who has reportedly been
seen standing next to his grave in
Hillside's Mount Carmel Cemetery, which
is also known for the story of the
There's the Ravens
Grin Inn in Mount Carroll, a former
speakeasy that is apparently haunted by
a woman in a white dress that floats
along the floor from one side to the
other eventually disappearing into a
vent. The ghostly woman was seen so many
times she was given a name, Matilda.
During his visit to Coal City, Lewis
also shared the story of the St.
Valentine's Day Massacre and how, to
this day, people can still hear the
sounds of tommy guns firing as they pass
the now empty lot at 2122 N. Clark St.,
Lewis holds a
master's degree in applied psychology
from the University of Wisconsin-Stout.
As a college student he got his start in
paranormal investigations as he looked
at why and what causes a persons belief
in the paranormal.
In addition to
co-authoring the book on Illinois'
haunted places, Lewis and Fisk have
books that look at the haunted spots in
Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota and
Iowa. He's also authored four Hidden
Headlines books and is the host of The
Unexplained television and radio
"I think the
presentation went well, people seemed to
really like it," said librarian Karla
Welch, who oversees the adult department
at the library and arranged for Lewis'
Two copies of
The Illinois Road Guide to Haunted
Locations are available for checkout
at the library.