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Ghost stories or tales of spirits who return from the dead to haunt the place they left behind has been a prominent figure in the folklore of many cultures around the world, dating back to ancient times.
The concept of a ghost, also known as a specter, is based on the ancient idea that a person’s spirit exists separately from his or her body and may continue to exist after that person dies. Because of this idea, many societies started to use funeral rituals as a way of ensuring that the dead person’s spirit would not return to ‘haunt’ the living.
Places that are haunted are usually believed to be associated with some occurrence or emotion in the ghost’s past; they are often a former home or the place where he or she died. Aside from actual ghostly apparitions, traditional signs of haunting range from strange noises, lights, odors or breezes to the displacement of objects, bells that ring spontaneously or musical instruments that seem to play on their own.
What if Chrisman has hauntings? The town is going to celebrate 150 years next year. A handful of homes that were built in the first few years of Chrisman’s beginning are still livable today. Who says they don’t have former residents paying them a visit sometimes?
The story that I’m about to tell was reported by a person who will remain anonymous. It begins when a woman from Atwood came home to visit family many years ago. She was traveling on Rt. 36 east near the Chrisman intersection. She pulled over onto a country road just east of Cherry Point Cemetery. The woman had a ‘vision’ of two men fighting. There was blood everywhere and one of the men had a hatchet, trying to attack and kill the other man. Their clothes were denim, possibly overalls. After the vision, she felt a force or a spirit come towards her.
Once it reached her, it went throughout her body from head to toe. She stated that she could feel the victim’s pain and suffering and couldn’t breathe. “It was choking me until it left my body and released me,” she said. Her experience left her searching for answers, but to this date, she hasn’t been able to find one.
If things like this happened in Chrisman, what about the surrounding areas? Metcalf, Illinois has been reported as ‘myth’ heavy. Though no reports were found in our search.
The most popular location that people talk about as being haunted is ‘Gracie’s Mansion’. One of the legends tied to the property was that the husband went off to fight in the war (there is no specification on which war – stories change depending on what generation is telling the story). The wife soon gave birth to their child, only to find out that her husband had died soon after. Overcome with grief of losing her husband and having a newborn, she buried the baby alive under the porch. Legend has it that at night, you can still hear the baby crying under the steps, which we’ve heard are still there.
Another tale is that the home was used as part of the underground railroad. Did it really happen? No one really knows. Is the property and surrounding area haunted? This is what some people have reported:
“I live in the area of Gracie’s Mansion and have gone to investigate it on multiple occasions within the past five years. Whilst I can honestly say I have never seen anything that can not be fully explained. However, there are two occasions in which myself and other people that were with me have seen what appeared to be a lantern being carried down the road from where Gracie’s Mansion is. As previously stated, I can not be certain that it wasn’t just our subconscious just taking over us as we have heard all the stories.”
That might be true – just the mind playing tricks. But I can remember as a kid hearing about the lantern that farmers out there reported seeing when they worked late into the night. Like they’re doing now.
“I was where the barn is now and it was dark,” another report stated. “I heard laughter, so I took out my phone and turned the flashlight on thinking it was some kids. The only thing is there was no one, so I decided to clear it out of my mind and sit there. Then something hit the back of my truck. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw a man. He was tall and was wearing coveralls. I hurried up and left, not looking back on my way out.”
The entrance to the property is blocked off, to keep unwanted visitors out and we don’t encourage you to go see if you can hear those giggles yourself. Stay away and don’t do any investigations on your own. Here’s what someone else had to say about their experiences:
“I live near Gracie’s Mansion and we have had no strange disappearances within the last decade that has been accounted for from the property. However, there are many people who have strange experiences after leaving. Two of these would be seeing what would appear to be a light coming towards you as you head down the gravel road and simply disappearing and chest pains shortly after.”
Other strange happenings in Indianola include reports of people seeing men on horses riding through town in the middle of the night. One person recounts living in a home in Indianola that was over a hundred years old. They had experienced a lot of paranormal activity one night. “I was sleeping and I heard what sounded like a bunch of people running around my dining room. I went to see what was going on, but it stopped. I went back to bed and the noise started again. This time, it came all the way up to my bed and stopped. I experienced a man in my window. My aunt lived there before I did and I bought the house from her. She had experienced the same thing. Come to find out, our house was built over an Indian burial ground.”
Another claim from Indianola:
“I have lived here (in Indianola) since I was a little girl. Weird things happen here all the time. I was married in 2001 and we moved into our home and we would hear voices and people walking through our house at night. We actually have been awakened by hearing footsteps and voices in the middle of the night. My husband and I were cooking Thanksgiving dinner and something jumped off of our roof and it landed on our cellar. The footsteps disappeared in the snow and we never could trace them. Also at night you can hear people screaming and playing music off in the north side of town. We have gone to see where it’s coming from and we’ve gotten right where the sounds are coming from and nothing is there and it quits.”
Before he was caught on camera in the controversial 1967 Patterson film, Bigfoot was actually reported by an explorer by the name of Jose Mariano Mozino in 1792 while exploring the Pacific Coast. Many people believe in Bigfoot, others think it’s just cases of mistaken identity.
If it is a case of mistaken identity, where are all of the oversized footprints coming from? Are people simply making their own footprint and dragging their heel back to make the print seem larger? That’s a lot of work just for a ‘hoax’.
In Edgar County, a possible sighting of a Sasquatch was reported in February of 2012 after a homeowner had experienced ongoing tree knocks near his home. The son of the homeowner stated that he was walking through the woods and sat down on a fallen tree. To his left, he heard a strange grunting noise. “I was frightened and I called my dad and had him come meet me in the woods. A few weeks before my dad was out feeding the animals when he heard a strange screaming voice from the other side of the creek.”
They also reported that one night, in the fall, they heard noises while sitting around the campfire. The father also had an incident where a very large animal had been in one of his oak trees. As the witness approached the animal, it screamed loudly, dropped from the tree and ran back into the woods. Blaming the poor lighting, he was unable to see the animal.
Just before daybreak, the mother had a strange happening while walking along the lane to the main road where she parked. She stated that she had been followed by something. She was convinced it was walking up right just across the road, but it was hidden from her view by shrubs and trees. Although her husband tried to console her that it was just a deer, she was sure it was something larger.
Stan Courtney of BFRO investigated the property three times over a period of six weeks. He did record what he thought to be tree knocks. He asked if the neighbor had been chopping wood, but with the time being recorded at 2:00 a.m., the neighbor denied chopping wood and stated that he had converted his fireplace to gas.
The screams could’ve been a possible cougar or a bobcat. Both felines’ calls are known for sounding like a woman screaming. Mating season for cougars begins in October and usually ends by February when this happened. Bobcats, however, mate February through March. Finding a mate, the male ‘calls’ or yells. Could it be a case of mistaken identity in Edgar County? Possibly.
Another incident occurred near Kickapoo State Park in September 2006. The witness’s first odd experience happened while fishing when he heard two big splashes in the river about fifty to seventy five yards behind him. “My first thought was that a deer bounded across the river, then I heard the most awful scream I’ve ever heard,” he said. Immediately after the scream, he heard what sounded like a scuffle in the dry leaves. After the rustling stopped, he heard what sounded like a large cat breathing hard or ‘purring’.
Large cats haven’t been reported in Kickapoo at the time of the incident. The witness stated that he was an old Boy Scout and has spent a lot of time camping in the area and knows what most of the sounds in the night woods are. “This sound flat out scared me. It bothered me enough that I went home. I got home and my wife asked me why I was home so early. I told her the story and thought that was the end of it.”
The following spring he went fishing along his favorite stretch of the same river when he came across a tree that had been snapped over. This could’ve been from spring flood waters, but the tree was snapped in an odd way.
That summer, while driving through the park, the witness smelled a terrible musty stench, similar to a wet dog mixed with skunk. “There are a lot of deer in this area, but you almost have to be standing next to them to smell them.” With nothing definitive observed during a BFRO investigation, it was placed as a Class B incident.
In 2015, another incident was reported in Kickapoo, this time with a possible footprint. This incident happened in November three miles South East of the park. The witness said that it began with his father in law, who had an encounter with something huge making an unfamiliar noise he said he had never heard before. “He is a seventy year old man and a great guy. I recall laughing and making fun of him.”
That was until he had his own experience. In 2016, he was in the woods hunting alone. He was in his stand and several deer came in, but seemed very skittish. “I drew my crossbow down on a nice buck and pulled the trigger.” After allowing forty-five minutes to go by, he climbed out of his stand. “As I climbed down, I began to hear some unusual noises. Kind of like a screaming/growling noise”.
As he’s climbing down, he remembers the story his father in law told him. He called his father in law to ask if he could meet him in the woods to help get a deer out. His father in law stated that he was in Terre Haute, Indiana and that it would be close to an hour before he could even get home. “I was too embarrassed to tell him that I was feeling uneasy. I tried to keep him on the phone, but he had to hang up”.
He then began to track the deer.
As he made his way down a small hill, he began to hear the noises again. “It was as if I could feel these screaming growls in my body. I kept hearing what I thought may have been falling tree branches or something.”
The witness stated that he had looked up on the hill side and saw the silhouette of something huge about thirty yards from him. “I quickly headed out of the woods and continued hearing the noises all the way out.”
He called his father in law and told him about the encounter, to which his father in law laughed and said “You made fun of me!”
The next morning, the witness returned to the woods to find the deer. Due to the amount of blood, the deer had to be close. Then the blood trail stopped as if the deer had just disappeared. He looked towards the creek, but found nothing. He then began to smell a strong pungent odor that he described as something dead and a urine smell. “I felt eyes on me the whole time I was out there.”
In April, the witness returned to do some mushroom hunting. Without finding any mushrooms, he headed through the north end of the woods. As he got to the edge of the woods, something caught his eye.
A single footprint of a left foot was found and it was very large. The print was very detailed and he was able to see the toes. “I wear a size thirteen shoes and this print is way bigger than my foot”. The area it was found in was about three miles from Kickapoo State Park in Vermilion County. “I’ve never been frightened in the woods in all my life. I spent my whole life in the woods hunting most of every species in our area. I coon hunted in the dark by myself and never been as frightened as I was with this encounter.”
The witness also stated that his brother in law was scared in the same woods, but won’t talk about it. He even stopped hunting shortly after and still will not talk about it.
Does Bigfoot exist? Do ghost exist? That’s up to you.
The next time you hear a strange noise or hear something in the woods, keep your mind open. It could just be the wind. Or something else.