North Central Illinois: Peru, LaSalle and Utica
Peru - Peru Washington School
Folklore says that a school librarian flipped out in the 1950's and killed herself and three students; phantom screams and the apparition of the librarian have been reported in the school library.
Peru - Rock Street
"My name is Ande. My mom (who wrote in the story about
Illinois St. in LaSalle) and I have always had a sixth sense when it comes to
haunted houses. Its like we can sense it before someone even tells us that the
haunted. Well...my best friend lives on Rock St. in Peru. I''ve been a regular visitor and sometimes resident there since kindergarden (over 10 years). When I was little, I got a funny feeling when I walked into her room. I absolutely
refused to stay in there if she wasn't present. Well, time went by and I spent less time over her house. Well, about 2 years ago I started going over there more frequently. I was reminded of the eerie feeling coming from her old room
(now the "middle room", sort of a guest bedroom for her older siblings on visits). I finely mentioned something to her about the eerie feeling after all those years. That's when the stories started pouring out. Her sisters used to have that room before she was born and still used it when she was young. They used to do Quiji boards, Tarot cards, and all sorts of stuff. My friend
used to have imaginary friends, but not the normal ones that kids same are always there. Her friends were in the floor. (How weird would it be if you saw your 3 year old talking to the man in the floor?!?) One night, in her new room,
previously her 2 older sisters', we were watching TV. Weird captions would come up with weird symbols and letters neither of us had seen before. After that the TV had a caption that said Good-night and then turned off. We thought it
was just a sleep timer, but she assured me a little after that she never set one. Well, after about 5 minutes (the whole time with us tweeking out) the TV turned back on and it said "Hello Again". Here sisters used to tell stories about the highway just outside her window (Highway 51) and some guy dying along time ago. Sometimes the window would open. Perhaps the guy that died decided to set up camp in her room? My mom is very Catholic and has had some experience with a Quiji board before she knew it was wrong. She said that Quiji boards open up in some cases portals or something for spirits. I don't know if that's true or not, but it makes sence to me. I still sleep there regularly and its that only house I can sleep in alone (funny, huh?) I still wake up abruptly, but I guess it doesn't bother me too much anymore. Anyway, this is the story.
If any one else has a story about Rock St., I'd like to know."
Peru - McKinley Park
Andy wrote, "I live in Peru and this is an old story that I've heard since I was a kid. Right on the line of where Peru meets Lasalle is LP high school. Well, up the road north of the stadium (the woods connect it) is Mckinley park. It's the town hotspot for sledding and has a Softball diamond. Well, two of my friends lived across the street from the park right next to each other (the one kids house was haunted). The one friends dad told us a story of how there used to be a school on the grounds before the park. I guess a little boy was killed in the basement of the school. The school was torn down and they built the park. Every night at midnight, the street lights flicker and you can hear a little boy crying and screaming. This is the story that his dad told us.
-Here's my personal story. My friends and I always had this story in our minds, and weren't sure what to make of it. But always relayed it just to scare people. One time in high school, we were at one of my friends houses (the one across from the park). We always parked our cars in the parking lot across the street in the park. Well, one night we were coming out of the house and into the parking lot to go home (our curfew was midnight at the time). I remember being the last one out of the house (was probably talking to a girl while putting on my shoes). When I ran to catch up with my friends already at the car, I was talking to them and they immediately told me to shut up when I caught up. All I heard was this voice of a little boy crying and yelling (the scariest sound I've ever heard) and the lights across the park flickering. We all looked at each other with white faces. We all frantically got in the car and spun out in the snow. We were all screaming and freaking out. Eventually laughing because we were all acting like pusssies. Well, there was six of us guys and we all heard it and were all scared to death. We still tell this story every chance we get when "ghost stories" are being told. I'm a pretty skeptical guy, but I know what I heard and saw.
-That same night that we went to Hatchett mans tomb, we went to Mckinley Park with the Ouija board and candles and went deep into the park. Nothing was going on with the board and everyone was kind of jacking around anyways, but when my two friends started being serious, they asked the spirt "are you here" and it spelled "Get out". We did what it told us.
Well, I hope that I've been of some help. If you have anymore questions about the Illinois Valley, I'll be happy to tell you or I'll ask my parents or parents friends. They have so many stories I can't even remember all of them. If you do get a chance to go down to "Hatchett Man', I suggest you do. The setting down there is like straight out of a scary story. Real creepy."
Peru- Church Street
Peru - St. Bede Academy
The very old and stately St Bede Academy in Peru, Illinois
a reader wrote: "St Bede Academy is a private school in Peru, IL and it has some ghost stories linked to it which many people in the area are aware of. St Bede is a monastery as well as a school. They bury the monks in a cemetery on the grounds as well.
There are two monks that haunt the school. Brother Otto and
Brother Val (short for Valentine). Brother Otto is the ghost that lives on the
3rd floor of the school. One night during a football game some of my friends
(even though I wasn't there I have heard the story many times) went up to the
3rd floor to do some "exploring." After awhile up there they decided to come
down. In our school we have a winding staircase where you can see different
floors above and below you. On the way down my friends stopped on the 2nd floor
and looked back up to the 3rd. They saw a monk looking over the rail at them,
Brother Otto. He was blue, like he was cold and dead. From there they ran until
they were out of the school.
Now Brother Val lives backstage, upstairs. One of my teachers
told my class this story: He was upstairs working on some costumes for an
upcoming play when the light behind him, in the hall flickered out. He got the
and said out loud, "Brother Val, its just me" and he stated his name. As soon as that was said, the light flickered back on."
Alec added that the cemetery where the monks are buried is located down a winding road behind the school, and was always said to be haunted.
more on that nutty "Val":
"I attend St. Bede and I would like to clarify the idea that Val, was a monk. Val, was just old man who used to live in a tiny room above the stage. He earned his keep by cleaning the blackboards in the school. He always wore a hat and was a very nice, quiet old man. Well one day he had a heart attack in the middle of the night. they found him the next day and he is buried in the graveyard with not just monks, but also some nuns, and a few lay people (those not of the cloth) Anyway Val's old room is now used for storage but there is a little poem, written by a few students on the door. Val is said to protect the tower (the part of the stage where he used to live) by flipping lights on and off, opening doors, shaking tables, he doesn't make noise or do anything harmful, he is a nice ghost i suppose like he was a nice man. the priest who runs the stage reminds you every time he sends one of the stage rats (stage hands sort of) up there, to greet Val, so he knows who you are. If he knows you mean no harm to the school or him, he leaves you alone. however, he was not a monk."~ Lindsay
St Bede Academy is located between Peru and Spring Valley on Rte 6
LaSalle - The Hotel Kaskaskia
...has a resident ghost, it seems. For years the grand old hotel in LaSalle deteriorated; luckily it was recently purchased and is being restored by area businessmen. Staff at the hotel's bar tell of a tragic death on the sixth floor. The floor is a enormous tiled ballroom today, and at the far end lies a balcony with a full view of the surrounding area and Wright Street below. In the 1940's or 50's, a young-ish lady fell to her early demise from this balcony. There was some scandal involved, as a male lover of hers was the only person with her on the penthouse floor when this happened. Either way, he wasn't put away for murder, and the death was ruled a suicide.
The residents of the 5th floor have for years reported heels clicking across the floor above them; The locked and abandoned ballroom seems to have one last dancer searching for her partner.
The Banquet hall, just off of the beautiful mahogany paned bar room, has a little storage closet that at one point was part of a parking garage. Electrical anomalies (unexplained power failures, etc) have originated from this area . A psychic who was in the room refused to stay in the area for long, and reported very bad energy; She said that she could feel the presence of a male child there. Others have gotten freaked out for no apparent reason in the area, and won't go near it. I, myself was in the little, nondescript closet, and there was no outward reason to get freaked out (no 6's scrawled in blood or anything) but then again, I'm the least psychic person I know. I can't even predict what I'll have for lunch.
Finally, the particular staff member I talked to said she had the worst feelings of dread come over her in the kitchen of the facility; she said others had agreed that they felt unwelcome there as well. Located in Downtown LaSalle, the Kaskaskia and all of it's shops closed their doors a few years ago; I read that Carus Corp. bought the building, so perhaps it will re -open soon.
Randy recently related to me: The home he grew up in, which was recently purchased by a local company and demolished, was haunted. In the 1970's, his father remodeled the home, adding a new wall where there was not one before. After this, which apparently disrupted the former owners (one of which hung himself in the house), the family experienced such odd occurrences as coming home to a house with all of the lights on and the doors unlocked and flung open (with nothing missing inside), as well as strange noises and objects that would move themselves. The strangest of his stories: his mother awoke one night after hearing a crash. When she investigated, she found some flour on the floor of the kitchen. In the flour were a child's footprints that went right into the wall... and back out the other side of the wall into the living room! She compared all of her children's feet to the prints, and none matched. Weird.
North LaSalle - Illinois Street
ashincu wrote: "I grew up in LaSalle, IL. It was the north end of town. The home we moved into was vacant. Tall grass surrounded the old house. The neighbor kids had warned us about the house being haunted. They said they used to climb up the old TV antenna and use the attic as a clubhouse when the house was vacant. They heard unexplained noises below. We were not allowed to tell them of the experiences we had already the first night we slept there. My mother told us that if we needed to move out because of it, we wouldn't be able to sell. The kids had confirmed what we already knew. The house was quiet at first, then us kids were startled out of our sleep by what seemed to be drum sticks banging around the whole kitchen. Very loudly and very plainly. No one went to investigate. Then the cupboard doors began ever so slowly, squeaking, opening and closing to what we thought of as someone being snoopy. After that incident, which lasted about 10 min. on that first night, we had on a semi-regular basis other incidents which involved about a 25 yr. time span. Rarely anything out of the ordinary would happen during the daylight hours. It was always from approx. 9pm-4am, or from what I recall , I wouldn't get to sleep until I heard the birds begin to sing, it was always such a relief! Over the years we heard walking in the living room, the back door would open and close with heavy footsteps yet no one was there, our names being whispered, a door flung open with me standing right in front of it, someone crawling onto our beds, the covers being flung off, the beds would gently shake, the covers neatly made into a rope and laid across the necks of my brothers, (after the blankets were straightened, a few minutes later the covers were the same way), chairs knocked over, there were unexplained moans that seemed to start very far away, get very loud, and would end very far away, yet all in a few seconds time, blankets balled up and thrown on the floor, I was chased from the attic one day by something that wasn't visible, the kitchen door would open by itself, the paper was read in the kitchen by someone unseen in middle of the night, something would run circles around our dining room table next to the china cabinet which made a lot of noise rattling, the recliner I was sitting in shook violently on one occasion, other times someone unseen would blow into our ears while watching television, the channels would change on their own. On one occasion there was scratching on my brothers bedroom door in the middle of the night. During one rare daylight incident, someone unseen walked past my bedroom door, I went out to get our dog to stay with me until someone came home but the dog whined and was reluctant to come in. Some of the incidents slip our minds until we happen to reminisce so I'm sure this isn't the extent of it. The interesting thing is, later on in my teen years I had a chance to discuss the "untalked about" when a new family moved in down the block and were experiencing some remarkable happenings of their own. Their dog was seeing what they were hearing , then they began to see the old doctor who had been walking around. Come to think of it another girl down the block said her windows used to open and shut by themselves too. In my opinion, I think more was going on in our neighborhood that people were not sharing. I was glad to come across your website and actually read about these places that I've been to personally, yet I never heard the stories. Spring Valley, IL has some interesting stories also that weren't included. We can't really talk about these things without someone thinking "you're crazy" until you find someone who shares their experiences too."
ashincu added: "The street name is Illinois. And the "old doctor" was who the family, that lived in the house on O'Conor, said they saw walking the upstairs hallway sometimes. Somehow, they came to find out that a doctor did in fact live there and cared for patients. There was a "RUMOR" about someone falling from the east side upstairs window. Also, there was said by this family, that the bathroom upstairs was used frequently by someone unseen. When finished, "the ghost " would proceed down the back stairway and through the kitchen and out the back door all at the witness of the family and their dog. We used to joke that it left that house and came to ours."
Andy wrote: "St.Vincents Cemetery is a place that we've always heard stories about. Our friend's dad would take us back there to scare the shit out of us. It's at the North end of LaSalle almost by the interstate on St.Vincents road. Coming up from LaSalle, take the first right (it's a long road along side of the cemetery leading to an old house), if you take the first left into the cemetery and look to your left, there is supposed to be a grave where a figure sits on top of it with his hands by his face. I've never seen this but we've looked for it. The cemetery is huge, so if you go deep into it (takes balls at night) there is this Humungous 16 foot tall statue of Jesus on the cross. It's really creepy looking and some say that they've seen it really bleed at night.
Some say the cemetery is haunted and when coming up St.Vincents road, my friends and I have seen red lights coming from deep inside the cemetery. It's fu**ing weird."
LaSalle - Ninth Street Pub
The Ninth Street Pub in LaSalle has been a popular tavern and restaurant since the late 60's or early 70's. In it's early days the small pub was closely situated to a residential home of an elderly Mrs. Sonnenburg. According to the pub's proprietor, John Ebner, the lady absolutely hated the fact that the oft noisy tavern was next door, and she made it very clear up until she passed away in the mid 70's. He said he helped her with odd jobs and was a friendly neighbor, but the widow abhorred the noise from the tavern that frequently hosted area musicians.
One day she went into a bedroom closet and had some sudden illness, perhaps a stroke, who knows. She fell ill, and was wedged inside the closet, her body pressed against the closet door that, by the way, was built to swing into the closet for some reason. She was found an indeterminate amount of time after she died, still in the closet -- it seems that if she could've cried out that no one could've heard her from the street.
It seems she is still unhappy, even in the next life. The old woman's home was purchased by Ebner, and it was made into an addition with restrooms and pool tables. Recently a young bartender walked into the then empty area of the bar that once housed the disgruntled neighbor. He heard an old woman say "What in the hell are you doing here?"; when he turned there was no one to be seen. Later, the shaken bartender, who was far to young to remember the old neighbor woman, asked the owner "Did somebody used to live in this bar?" It sounds like somebody or something still does. And she's reeaally pissed that no one helped her out of that closet, I bet. Ninth St Pub is on... um... 9th street
A reader wrote: "When I was young -- about 7 or 8 -- we moved to an old house, previously occupied by a woman and her children. The woman died around the time we moved in, though not in the house. One night I woke up and walked downstairs. The next morning, I casually asked my mom who the "girl downstairs was last night". My mom, a strong disbeliever in ghosts at the time, questioned me about what I saw since I seemed pretty sure of myself. I described in detail what the girl looked like and what she was wearing. My mom told the story to my grandmother who lived on the other side of the block. Another neighbor heard the story, who happened to be the mother of the woman who died. She went to her home and returned with an old photograph of her daughter looking just as I had described -- looks, clothes, etc. I had never spent time looking at any photos at this neighbor's home and would not have known how she looked as a child and vaguely remembered her as an adult. Why she came to me as a child? Maybe that is what was easiest for me to see. Why didn't she go to the home she grew up in? Maybe ghosts get lost, too. Maybe she was looking for her children. Anyway, this incident changed my mom's view on the supernatural. She's still not much of a believer, but she believes my story."
LaSalle - The Carus Mansion
Rumor has it that one of the big mansions by Carus Chemical is occupied by "guests".
Rumors about ghosts in this huge Victorian style local landmark have been flying around for years and years.
Hegeler Carus Mansion Tours:1307 7th street (815)224-6543
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: 12, 1, 2 & 3 pm
Saturday: 10, 11, 12, 1, 2, 3 & 4 pm
Sunday: 12, 1, 2, 3 & 4 pm
Admission is $5 for adults, and $3.50 for seniors & youths. Special group rates are available with prior reservations.
A reader, Tracy, wrote: I live in Utica, so I know all
that goes on
around here when it comes to ghosts. I have a picture of the Carus Mansion,
and I've talked with some family members that my older sister went to school
with. "Old Man" Carus is said to appear in one of the upstairs windows of
the Mansion on a full moon. At the stroke of midnight, it is said that he
hangs himself. I've talked to people that have been on the tour, and not much
goes on, but it is a great place to see. At night sometime, if you drive by
really slow, your car will start to die right next to the family graveyard
next to the mansion, and my mom told me that there's a ghost that walks
around the graveyard every once in a while.
UPDATE: Through my "nurse grapevine" I have heard a story about a recent private duty nurse who worked at the Carus Mansion: she refuses to work there any longer because one evening when she was alone with her patient in the home, a voice screamed out from another room-- a name-- "Pat", if memory serves. The place was empty except for the two of them, and the elderly man she was caring for certainly wasn't the person yelling, so it seemed. (hopefully I will be able to get more on this)
2/27/01 A little more on the Carus Mansion: footsteps can be heard at night in the unused upper portion of the home, and moans are audible late at night.
10/11/02 Lena wrote: "The Carus Mansion story I totally believed, cuz I took the tour. I swear I could hear kids laughing, and felt like something was following me. Then for some odd reason, the people who had the tour, started like wigging out, and told us they had to end the tour for no reason. I kid you not. We were refunded for the day. I will never go back. "
PLEASE don't go "ghost hunting" on these people's property; not only will you probably get arrested, but you might scare the poor man residing there half to death. If you are curious, please just take the tour... I hear they may be extending it to include more days soon.
An employee of Hegler-Carus mansion recently wrote me letting me know that the home will be featured on the "Wild on Chicago" TV show this spring. She said the host kept asking about supernatural occurrences, which she maintains are all a bunch of hooey (my words, not hers). "Wild on Chicago" is on PBS, on Chicago affiliates
LaSalle - Educators of Beauty
The "Educators of Beauty" cosmetology school in LaSalle was once a flop-house hotel; As the story goes, a degenerate living there fell asleep with a cigarette and burned to death in his room. When a couple of my friends were attending the school several years ago, the teachers would talk about all of the odd things that have happened there, especially in the upstairs part of the building. "George" (I think that's what they nicknamed the ghost) would flip hairdryers on and off, as well as the lights. Once in awhile, one could smell stale cigarette smoke when no one else was around. The older teachers were afraid to be there alone at night, according to my friends...122 Wright St
La Salle - The "LaSalle Inn" Building
Said to be a mafia hang out during prohibition, locals say it is haunted by Al Capone and some of his flunkies. The sounds of carousing and gambling have been heard in the empty building's basement late at night. (I don't know if this building still stands, or what businesses occupy it now - if you know, drop me a line)
Heather did just that, and wrote: "City of Peru bought the lot and torn the building down about 6 years ago. Heard that there were tunnels under there for the slaves, now it's just open space." Thanks, Heather!
Utica - Oak Hill Cemetery
"If you stand near the mausoleum in the cemetery and listen carefully, you can hear a faint moaning." (found at 'The Shadowlands' website)
Utica - Starved Rock Lodge/ Starved Rock State Park
The lodge is reported by staff to be haunted . Doors slam shut, cold spots, orbs in the park. History of mass Indian starvation as one tribe of Indians were cornered up on a bluff by another tribe. Those who didn't starve were forced to jump to their deaths in the river below. A double murder took place in the park in the 1960's as well, and there was and still is some local controversy that the man who was imprisoned for the crimes was framed, and the killer went free.
this is the great hall of the starved rock lodge, where many a barkeep has been scared silly by unseen hands
Between Utica and Ottawa - The Halfway House
"There is a place in Utica called the "Halfway House." Go south through Utica and turn left before the bridge. The house will be on the right side. It's a two-story brick house with a U-shaped driveway. I think people live in there now but before they did a couple of friends have told me freaky stuff that has happened while they were there and shown me pictures with ghost like orbs in them." ~ thanks Jackie
The Halfway House is a large stone building located on Dee Bennett Road halfway between Ottawa and Utica; It is so named because apparently back when travel was more difficult, it was the "halfway point" between Peoria and Chicago, and weary travelers would stop there. On purported traveler was Abraham Lincoln. Located on Dee Bennett Road; Private Property
Ghosttraveller: Illinois Ghosts