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Illinois Edition - Urban Legends, Monsters And Haunted Places, The Series

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I have lived in Illinois for just under 35 years, in that time I have found this, mostly rural, state to be overflowing with well known urban legends and ghosts. It is for that reason that I have decided to sidestep (slightly) away from my normal genre of horror in movies, and test the waters, by wading into the vast pool of local legends that this state has to offer.

My goal is to get the readers involved by leaving comments below, telling of your own areas strange tales and legends. Considering the large quantity of unique stories Illinois has to offer, mine will barely amount to a drop in the bucket, so feel free to add your legends from here or for that matter anywhere in the world.

The McPike Mansion - Alton, IL.

The McPike mansion was built by Henry Guest McPike in 1869, whose ancestry includes at least 2 patriots who fought side by side with George Washington During the Revolutionary War. In 1908 the house was purchased by Paul A. Laichinger who supposedly lived in the house until his death in 1930. At one time this Victorian style mansion was one of the most beautiful homes in Alton, but the years have not been kind to the McPike Mansion as it has been abandoned since the early 1950s, and has often been the victim of vandelism.

In 1994 Sharyn and George Luedke bough the house from auction, with the hopes of restoring the structure. During this time the couple, along with many others in the community have come to the conclusion that this house is indeed haunted. It had often been rumored throughout the years of being so, but since the couple has purchased the home and spent so much time there the rumors have grown to local legends.

There are many different rumors as to who it is that haunts this place but the most notable is Paul Laichinger. Sharyn claims to have had her first encounter with Laichinger about 6 weeks after she bought the house. She had been outside watering some plants when she saw a mysterious figure watching her through one of the windows. Though chilled by the event, she was able to notice the mans clothing, before he vanished. Apparently he was dressed in a striped shirt and tie, identical to what Paul Laichinger is wearing in a photograph that Sharyn now possesses.

Along with Laichinger another spirit is thought to inhabit the home, a domestic servant Sharyn had nicknamed Sarah, having no idea who she may have truly been at the time. During a paranormal investigation it is said that the group was gathered in the wine cellar of the mansion when one member of the group felt ill.

The woman was then accompanied upstairs by another person from the group, while the rest of them waited for their return, several minutes later they heard the sound of the woman's footsteps descending the stairs and crossing the basement floor. The steps were followed by a pause and then the scraping sound of the wine cellar door brushing the concrete floor as it opened, but when the door finally came to a rest there was nobody there. The two women that had left were still upstairs, and the entire event had been captured on tape.

Large Birds Over Illinois - Various Areas In Illinois

Illinois has an outstanding number of large bird sightings in comparison to any other state. Now, when I say large bird, I am not referring to an eagle or any other common species, the birds in these sightings are said to have wingspans of nearly 20 feet.

These creatures are known as Thunderbirds, they have been mentioned throughout Illinois history and American Indian folklore is filled with stories of flying monster birds with enormous wingspans carrying away humans to feed upon. Along with the enormous wingspans the birds are said to have razor sharp beaks and claw like talons, and at time described as being very similar to the pterodactyls of prehistoric times.

One of the earliest legends of these winged beasts comes from, once again, Alton Illinois. Just north of the city is a huge rock painting portraying an extremely menacing winged creature. At one time the painting was actually an ancient petroglyph, showing the image of two of these creatures.The original painting existed for hundreds of years dating back to at least 1673 when it was first described in the journals of Marquette. Due to deterioration they had to be recreated in order to preserve their life in history. Nobody knows for sure who created the original paintings.

In 1836 Professor John Russel was noted as making a tremendous discovery concerning these creatures. While exploring with his guide, high up on the bluff above the original paintings, they found a cave. Upon entering they noticed the entire floor of the cave to be covered in human bones, and they had claimed the mass of bones to be nearly 4 feet deep in all areas of the cavern.

There have been many other sighting since then, of these giant monsters, carrying off their human victims, even as recent in history as 1977. In a town by the name of Lawndale in Logan County two of these creatures were said to have been circling in the sky before finally swooping down and attacking 3 boys. One of the birds is said to have actually carried one boy a distance of 35 feet before the mothers screams frightened the bird. The creature then dropped the boy and they flew away in the direction of Kickapoo creek.

The list of these sightings are practically endless, enough that it would certainly be worth looking into further. The bulk of the sightings still continue to be in the Alton area.

Resurrection Mary - Chicago, IL.

Chicago is well known for a lot of different reasons, mobsters, baseball, pizza, hot dogs and haunted places to name a few. Well, we're not here to talk about hot dogs or baseball, we're here for legends and ghosts. By far the most famous ghost in Chicago's history is the infamous beauty Resurrection Mary. This lovely, blonde hair, blue eyed apparition has been haunting since the late 1930s.

As the story goes, this girl was with her boyfriend at the O'Henry Ballroom located on Archer Ave., now called the Willowbrook, when they happened to get into an argument, she then stormed off in a fit of anger. At that point she began to hitch hike down Archer Ave. between the Willowbrook and Resurrection Cemeteries main gates, but before anyone could pick up the lovely young lady she was struck and killed by a hit and run driver. It was very soon after that people began to see the ghost of Resurrection Mary, in her long white dress and blonde hair hitch hiking for rides along Archer Ave.

The Grave Of The Chesterfield Witch - Chesterfield, IL.

Just west of the town of Arcola, deep into Amish country, lies the very small town of Chesterfield. You can no longer find this village on any map but it is still there. Right outside of this village is the Chesterfield cemetery and within this cemetery is the grave of the Chesterfield Witch.

She was said to be a liberal minded woman often known to stand up for the treatment of women by the Amish community, and for this she was labeled a witch and said to have worshipped the devil. The elders of the Amish community banished the woman and she soon disappeared altogether after that. Eventually her body was found in a nearby field and labeled as death by natural causes, and was taken to a local funeral home.

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It is said, the funeral home displayed the body to visitors, as an attraction, and chance for people to see an actual witch. The poor woman was eventually buried and a tree was planted near her grave. The superstition being, that a tree will bind the spirit to the grave. The tree still remains, but it is thought, that should it ever die, her spirit will be free to seek revenge upon the Amish people who betrayed her. It is often reported that her body is seen standing over her grave, waiting for the tree to die.

What is thought to be Resurrection Mary's Grave

What is thought to be Resurrection Mary's Grave


As I said before the tales I'm sharing are nothing compared to what Illinois history has to offer, there are many more interesting stories out there. Nearly everyone has heard an urban legend or ghost story about the city or state they live in, so what's yours?

DS Duby


danny on November 27, 2012:

oldwitchcraft some ppl believe that spirits can't cross water cus like fire it washes way the spirits so it has to be moving of course but that's a little fun fact for you to look in to if you want to.

DS Duby (author) from United States, Illinois on July 02, 2012:

Thanks for stopping by and commenting dwachira, Illinois was an easy one for me since I was raised here. I had heard a lot of the legends already when I was young.

Danson Wachira from Nairobi, Kenya on July 02, 2012:

I really enjoy reading your hubs about legends DS Duby, this one was a mover. Thanks, voted up and shared

DS Duby (author) from United States, Illinois on June 20, 2012:

I'll definitely check it out, Louisiana ULaHP may end up being a very long article, I hope anyway. Thanks Dominique

Dominique L from Oregon on June 20, 2012:

Also, in Chinese philosophy, water is concentrated Yin energy, which is the energy that creates ghosts (if anyone was has read The Ring, by Koji Suzuki, he uses this in a very interesting way).

And if you're looking at Louisiana, two words: Myrtle Plantation. Supposedly the most haunted single site in the U.S.

DS Duby (author) from United States, Illinois on June 18, 2012:

Thank you you're very kind

OldWitchcraft from The Atmosphere on June 18, 2012:

I'm looking forward to reading all of them!

DS Duby (author) from United States, Illinois on June 18, 2012:

I'm sure I will lol I also need to write something on Louisiana and possibly water

OldWitchcraft from The Atmosphere on June 18, 2012:

DS Duby,

So, are you gonna write it? [grinning]

I'll read it and comment!

DS Duby (author) from United States, Illinois on June 18, 2012:

It does make sense.

OldWitchcraft from The Atmosphere on June 18, 2012:

To add to the examples of really haunted cities where there is a lot of water around -

St. Augustine, Florida - extremely haunted! All kinds of "people" from centuries ago are still there.

El Paso, Texas - Marty Robbins, the old country singer, wrote a couple of songs about his dreams and visions in this place, ie. "El Paso" and "El Paso City." It is situated right on the Rio Grande and it is really something to drive into the valley there for the first time. Your mind is just filled with all kinds of things that aren't your own, if you know what I mean.

New York City is really haunted - ask anybody about the subway system here. They did a movie about it - "Ghostbusters." There are some strange things in Manhattan and on Staten Island where the Revolutionary War was fought.

I'm sure there are some others, but these are among the most haunted places I've been and they are all alongside the ocean or surrounded by it or located practically right on top of a river. Now, granted a lot of old cities are because that's how people got around and got products shipped in and out back in the old days. But, I feel like there is something about the water that holds these spirits more strongly.

DS Duby (author) from United States, Illinois on June 18, 2012:

So Decatur is built on water that's really interesting and backs op Dominique L.'s theory a lot. Now I'm really fascinated with this water subject. Most of Maines haunted places are in lighthouses and such always very near the water. So who's got dibs on this great hub idea?

OldWitchcraft from The Atmosphere on June 18, 2012:

I should have used a smiley face or something so you could see that I was grinning when I typed it.

DS Duby (author) from United States, Illinois on June 18, 2012:

Oh!!! I'm a little slow sometimes I guess OldWitchCraft, thanks for the great idea, it's got great possibilities.

Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on June 18, 2012:

Lake Decatur was made and used the Sangamon River. It is a dam built in 1922. Decatur is also built on top of a huge underground reservoir.

OldWitchcraft from The Atmosphere on June 18, 2012:

Re: "You could still do it your title doesn't include the historical truth and its most likely based on the legend your going to write about so it could make your hub more popular."

I thought *you* were going to write it!

I'm in a joking mood tonight.

I do think it is an excellent angle for a hub and might be the beginning of a much bigger work if you really go into it.

DS Duby (author) from United States, Illinois on June 18, 2012:

That's sweet I'll look into it

OldWitchcraft from The Atmosphere on June 18, 2012:

Re: "1954 directed by Jack Arnold"

I see, you're talking about the original film. I was sort of joking because I noticed that you do some really good hubs on subjects like "Vampires: The Historical Truth."

But, I bet that if you researched the origins of the concept of an amphibious, lagoon-dwelling, reptilian-looking monster you would find that there is a lot of folklore around the world that is related - everything from Mermaids to David Icke's Reptilians.

DS Duby (author) from United States, Illinois on June 18, 2012:

You could still do it your title doesn't include the historical truth and its most likely based on the legend your going to write about so it could make your hub more popular.

OldWitchcraft from The Atmosphere on June 18, 2012:

I just looked it up - nothing! I think you're pulling my leg.

I remembered a couple of things that might help you if you are researching in this direction. The Indians along the Missouri River between St. Joseph, MO and Elwood, KS believed that the Missouri River was ruled or inhabited by an evil spirit. A similar thing was said of a river in Florida - I ran across this recently, but I can't remember which book it was in... I've read a bunch lately because I'm researching for my own book.

Also, the Mormons have a fear of water because they believe that "the adversary" (their word for the Christian devil) has "more power in the water."

I just wrote a hub about their founder that just scratches the surface on how into witchcraft he was, so this is likely where this idea came from.

DS Duby (author) from United States, Illinois on June 18, 2012:

1954 directed by Jack Arnold

OldWitchcraft from The Atmosphere on June 18, 2012:

Seriously?! I better go look that up for my research!

DS Duby (author) from United States, Illinois on June 18, 2012:

It could work OldWitchCraft but I think it may be a movie title.

OldWitchcraft from The Atmosphere on June 18, 2012:

I'm thinking of something like The Creature from the Black Lagoon: The Historical Truth - how's that for a hub title?

DS Duby (author) from United States, Illinois on June 18, 2012:

The credit should go to you my friend, you're going to have me up all night researching now. I wonder just how much information is out there on this subject, Louisiana may just have to be the next state in my series as soon as I'm done with Indiana. But I could see a lot of different hub ideas coming from our conversation.

OldWitchcraft from The Atmosphere on June 18, 2012:

Dominique L,

Yes. I think there is something to this. And, its interesting to note that a lot of the Indians believed that rivers were occupied by dark spirits. Amphibious creatures, like toads and some other reptiles are associated with witchcraft, especially the transformative aspects. Thanks for bring out this thought-provoking point.

DS Duby (author) from United States, Illinois on June 18, 2012:

That's a very good point and one that I wasn't aware of though it sounds familiar for some reason. At any rate it would be impossible to convince me that New Orleans wasn't haunted that place just give you chills being there. If I am ever to go there as a tourist it certainly won't be during Mardi Gras I want to experience the less touristy more dark and mysterious parts of the city. I want to look into the water theories more though that's really intriguing. To answer your earlier question no Decatur is not near a large body of water other than the cities lake, but I've not heard anything supernatural about it and it's probably man made.

Dominique L from Oregon on June 18, 2012:

But a lot of theories think that being near water lends to a locations being more haunted, which is one of the things that leads to New Orleans claim, as it's completely surrounded and under water.

DS Duby (author) from United States, Illinois on June 18, 2012:

It would be a tough call between new Orleans and Decatur, it is a fact that New Orleans has a rich history of voodoo, ghosts, and witches, where Decatur has indian burial grounds and mob killings.. I've been to both places and will say they both are really creepy at night. New Orleans is much better at publicizing their paranormal activity than Decatur is though for sure. I guess it would depend on where the people have been on which they would choose but they are both very interesting to me. Just for the record tough a lot of New Orleans was destroyed when I was there so I didn't experience much.

Dominique L from Oregon on June 18, 2012:

Well, as a matter of pride, I must take issue with the most haunted distinction, as I lived in New Orleans for awhile, and the mediums I know told me they can't stay within the city for more than an hour because the dead are too numerous and too loud to get away from.

However, is Decatur on a large body of water? Like one of the Lakes up there, or a river (I'm American, how am I supposed to know the geography of my own country?)? Those places tend to me more haunted too.

DS Duby (author) from United States, Illinois on June 18, 2012:

That would be the same story I was told. Taylorville just south of Decatur is also known for mobster and bootlegger hauntings, but not nearly as much as Decatur.

Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on June 18, 2012:

I understand that it was built on top of an Indian burial ground also. With the high concentration of mobsters that retired there from Chicago, the hauntings also increased.

DS Duby (author) from United States, Illinois on June 18, 2012:

Yes it is! That's awesome I live very near Decatur and my wife works there. They have overbite stays in the haunted Lincoln theater in October that we plan to attend. Thank you for reading and commenting its certainly appreciated.

Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on June 18, 2012:

My husband was raised in Decatur. He has told some wild tales of the legends from there. According to him, Decatur has the honor of being the most haunted place in America.

DS Duby (author) from United States, Illinois on June 18, 2012:

Thank you very much LABrashear, I appreciate it. I'll have to check out Colorado soon, it sounds very interesting.

LABrashear from My Perfect Place, USA on June 18, 2012:

Lots of interesting info...I love these kind of stories. Colorado has a ton - I was surprised at how many in fact. I think where there's a story there had to be something that started, I obviously answered yes in your poll. Great job - voted up and shared!

DS Duby (author) from United States, Illinois on June 03, 2012:

Thank you very much Deborah Brooks, your very kind. Actually Illinois seems to have more legends than the majority of the states I've researched. I had heard a lot of small town stories while growing up about haunted cemeteries and such but I had no idea I would find as much info as I did after researching. I could write a book on Illinois alone. Thanks again for reading and commenting.

Deborah Brooks Langford from Brownsville,TX on June 03, 2012:

Wow great hub...i used to live in illinois scott afb and champange. Beautiul state..i don't remember hearing any legends...this is awesome read..debbie

DS Duby (author) from United States, Illinois on June 02, 2012:

Thank you Angela for reading and commenting. If it's the alligator coming out of the commode that your referring to you should be OK, that particular legend is New York based I believe. lol Unless of course your in New York then be afraid very afraid! Thanks again.

Angela Brummer from Lincoln, Nebraska on June 02, 2012:

I love this but, am a little afraid to use the potty now... lOl... vote up!

Dominique L from Oregon on May 26, 2012:

Oh! And what did it look like?

DS Duby (author) from United States, Illinois on May 26, 2012:

Rachael,thanks for commenting that's really cool about seeing the large bird, if you don't mind me asking where did you see this thing? Was it Illinois by any chance?

Naomi Starlight from Illinois on May 26, 2012:

I saw a large bird like you described, bigger than an eagle, I thought maybe it was a condor but those are more to the Southwest, so I was really freaked out. :)

DS Duby (author) from United States, Illinois on May 26, 2012:

Tank you Dominique L I appreciate it, you know that's a great idea about the series, it will certainly give me something to write about during cases of writers block. I think I will do that. Thank you again, you're very kind.

Dominique L from Oregon on May 26, 2012:

Great job, DS Duby! You should make this a series!

DS Duby (author) from United States, Illinois on May 25, 2012:

Cathleen I hope that you don't mind, I posted a link to your article on Reddit a few days ago to help you gain traffic I hope that it has helped, it really is an amazing article.

DS Duby (author) from United States, Illinois on May 25, 2012:

Thank you for the great comments ,bac2basics I thought I was following you as well, but I am for sure now. I'm not so sure about giant birds either, I would think if there was something that big flying around that it would be leaving evidence all over the place.

Cathleen J Wyatt from Reno, NV on May 25, 2012:

Another great Hub! Fun and interesting! Thanks

Anne from United Kingdom on May 25, 2012:

Hi DS. Really enjoyed reading this hub. I think you are following me , so you will know I truly believe in ghosts and spirits, not sure about winged beasts though..think that´s a bit like the Loch Ness Monster myth, something you would like to be true but isn´t. Great writing and good stories voted you up etc. Keep em coming.Thanks.

DS Duby (author) from United States, Illinois on May 25, 2012:

Excellent, thank you for commenting and leaving that link OldWitchcraft that's really awesome. It's impossible for me to walk away from a good story, whether it's true or not. Especially when they are local urban legends or stories, because it gives you that sense of recognition as they're telling their tale. Thank again.

OldWitchcraft from The Atmosphere on May 25, 2012:

Oh, and I voted "Yes" in your poll.

There is usually something to a legend or an old story.

Voted up and accolades, of course!

OldWitchcraft from The Atmosphere on May 25, 2012:

Wow! Great article. I love this kind of stuff.

I want to share something with you that I ran across a couple of nights ago while doing some research on Hoodoo and Folk Legends in MO (your neighbor). You might have seen it before, but if you haven't and you like these kinds of things you might really have fun with it.

Here it is:

It's a link to a book by Harry Middleton Hyatt who was one of a handful of great folklorists. Like Vance Randolph did in the Ozark Mountain Region of MO and AR, he interviewed people all over the south and midwest. The above book is from his interviews in Adams County, Ill - not too far from Mark Twain country in MO and some other interesting things in Illinois with regard to Indians.

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