Chad Lewis

Chad Lewis gave an audience of about 90 local and area residents a ghostly tour of Minnesota at the Stewartville High School Performing Arts Center on Saturday, Jan. 31.

Lewis, a paranormal researcher and author, has tracked vampires in Transylvania, chased the Chupacabras in Puerto Rico, searched for the elusive monster in Loch Ness and pursued ghosts in Ireland's castles. But during his one-hour presentation here, he focused on Minnesota's haunted locales.

"It's fun to hear about haunted places in California or New York, but it's different when it's right in your own back yard," Lewis said.

He concluded his talk in the audience's back yard, speaking about a Stewartville home that may indeed be haunted. Several years ago, he said, he finished a presentation at the Stewartville Public Library when a woman approached him to talk about her home.

"She said some strange things were happening," he said. "She saw things out of the corner of her eye and heard a mysterious knocking on the walls. Windows opened and lights turned on..."

Respecting the privacy of the occupants, Lewis did not reveal the location of the allegedly haunted Stewartville home.

He did, however, reveal the locations of many Minnesota homes and businesses whose occupants report strange occurrences. For example, he spoke of a sanitarium in Lake Julia which was a home to children with tuberculosis during the early 1900s.

"Many people believe that the spirits of the young children who died from TB still haunt the area," he said. "People report seeing strange balls of light running up and down the (sanitarium's) old elevator shafts."

He mentioned the Lamberton-Sanborn Cemetery, where visitors have claimed they have put their ears to the ground and heard the cry of a girl buried alive there.

"People who have visited report seeing balls of light hovering throughout the cemetery," he said.

Years ago, people were sometimes mistakenly buried alive, he said. At some cemeteries, caretakers extended a rope from a bell into people's caskets. Individuals buried alive could be rescued by tugging on the rope to ring the bell.

"That's where the saying, 'Saved by the bell,' comes from," he said.

In 1871, Joseph Forepaugh built a home for his family in St. Paul. Forepaugh, the senior partner in a wholesale dry goods company, committed suicide at age 58. After hearing the news, one of Forepaugh's household maids, a young girl named Molly, hanged herself.

"Forepaugh had taken on a mistress (Molly), and his wife had forbid him to see the mistress," Lewis said. "He developed depression and committed suicide."

Forepaugh's Restaurant in St. Paul, once the Forepaugh home, is said to be haunted by the ghosts of Forepaugh and Molly.

"Many in the restaurant report seeing the ghost of Joseph Forepaugh walking by," Lewis said. "The (restaurant) staff reported seeing the ghost of Joseph Forepaugh."

Lewis also mentioned a story involving a group of friends who dropped off a young girl and left her alone at Hoyt Lakes Memorial Cemetery.

"When they returned, they found the young girl on the ground, dead," Lewis said. "It was said that she was frightened to death."

People driving past the cemetery have reported seeing the ghost of a young girl waiting for a ride, Lewis said.

"I spoke with a gentleman who claimed he picked up (the girl)," he said. "She vanished before his eyes."

Helen Brach, the candy heiress, stayed at the Kahler Hotel in Rochester before she was to report for a checkup at the Mayo Clinic. Some believe that Brach was murdered near a steel factory.

"Many people reported seeing Helen's ghost walking up and down the elevator (at the Kahler Hotel) even though she died over 30 years ago," Lewis said.

Lewis, answering questions from the audience after his presentation, said that although he has spoken to many people who have reported paranormal activity, he has never witnessed a paranormal event himself.

Lewis' presentation was sponsored by Stewartville Community Education.