Category Archives: Illinois

Holcombville Cemetery, Final Resting Place of the Stickney Family

holcombvillecemetery1While the home is amazing and the Stickney House Foundation is making serious and steady improvements to the site, the family burial site is, unfortunately, another story.  Just a five minute drive from the Stickney House is the Holcombville Cemetery.  You might as well consider it a ‘pioneer cemetery’ as the location holds the burials of the Terwilliger family, just the third family to settle here.  Their house also still stands and is rumored to be a safehouse location on the underground railroad.

sylviastickneygraveUpon finding the Stickney family plot, the thing you notice most is the gap.  Sylvia’s grave, once toppled and now lying face up over her grave is slowly eroding away and there is a large spance before finding the gravestones of a number of her children.  George’s grave is nowhere to be seen.  While records and oral history in this more remote land may be lacking, we are lead to believe that George and Sylvia laid to rest a number of children before they, themselves died.  Presumably, most of the members of this family would be interred at the same cemetery.  The mere gap between Sylvia’s grave (?-1879) and those still standing graves of Silona (1857-1868), Caroline (1849-1851), Adeline (1841-1842), along with the fallen, but still existing stone for Rosira (1843-1843) indicate a likely location of burials without headstones.  The obvious question is, “What happened to those stones?”  Damaged into obscurity? Stolen?  Did they ever even exist?  One would imagine that the stone for George Stickney would’ve been cast.  However, after out living so many children and his first wife, perhaps George was done thinking of funeral plans by the time he died in 1897.  This means a number of stones for children and George’s second wife, Lavina, are not present.

While I do feel it’s important to recover and re-mark the missing stones, let’s turn all of our focus to the quickly decaying stone belonging to Sylvia, the medium herself.  As mentioned earlier, the gave is lying flat, face-up on the ground.  It was broken free from its base countless decades ago, laying it on the ground seems like a safe way to preserve the stone as it no longer has to fight gravity, nor could it get damaged in a future fall.  However, pulling the grass away from the edge of the stone reveals how much the earth and plant life is eating away at this weakened monument.  Understandable effects of nature and weather aside, there is also the plainly visible recent chip marks caused by lawnmower blades (note the bright white scuffs in the image below).  This has to be one of the most in danger graves imaginable as it’s literally being chipped away on a weekly basis by landscapers who are employed to keep the cemetery beautiful.  While the Stickney House Foundation isn’t yet ready to open as a museum, it is my hope that sooner rather than later Sylvia’s stone can be replaced by a replica and the original can be safely preserved on site, in the Stickney House.

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Paranormal Investigation Highlights from the Tribune Tower, Downtown Chicago


Hauntings Along Wilmot Road in Antioch

From a reader:  Many people have died all from car accidents in Wilmot Road. Its curvy and wide open with no stop signs or lights. People usually speed on this road. When there is a car accident people are usually ejected from their vehicles and die in homeowners’ front yards. Home there are usually on large lots, about 8+ acres each.

So, a guy died on my brothers’ front lawn a few weeks back. The other day he was in his basement working out and watching TV. Out of the corner of his eye he saw someone sitting on a stool nearby. Yesterday his wife went to basement and saw a person sitting in the same spot. The house has felt very heavy and depressed since this accident.

Another occasion from a few weeks ago, also stemming from an accident, his wife and son saw a man standing at their front door. His wife saged the house and they have not seen him at the front door since.  They are going to sage the entire house today to see if that helps the ghost in the basement.

There are stories of peoples’ homes that have ghosts due to the amount of accidents on this road.

My Response:  Wow – very interesting.  A lot of cultures believe people hang around for 7-10 days after death.  It’ll be interesting if just a little more time will do the trick too.  Very sad, but interesting story.

Also, makes me think of the crash of Flight 191 where people in the area would hear frantic knocking on their front doors after the accident.  Like disoriented spirits looking for help.

As an additional note, the town of Antioch is a very old town with a rich and occasionally tragic history.  I had the privilege of learning about this town through the eyes of Dr. James Dorsey as he explored important locations relating to the Underground Railroad in Lake County and the abolitionist movement, which was alive and well in Antioch.

Additionally, the town was victimized by major fires in the 1800s that wiped out large portions of the town.

Also, the first ever paranormal investigation I was on was at the Liberty Tattoo Parlor.  I wrote about the hauntings at Antioch High School in my book and I just recently brought a tour group up to the Lodge of Antioch with Ursula Bielski, Nicholas Sarlo and Chicago Hauntings.  To say that Antioch is an active location is an understatement!


Fall Event Schedule!

Sept 9-11: The Hollywood Show, Rosemont, Il (hollywoodshow.com)

Sept 10: Screening of “Cry Baby” and signing with star, Amy Locane, Woodridge, Il  (hollywoodblvdcinema.com)

Sept 16: Investigation

Sept 17: Lake/McHenry Ghost Adventure, Long Grove, Il (facebook.com/events/508522306014679) 7-hour tour through some of the most haunted places in Lake and McHenry County with Ursula Bielski and Chicago Hauntings.

Sept 24: Private Event

Sept 28: Archeologist Dan Melone speaking on the topic of his work on Robinson Woods Indian Burial Grounds (one of my favorite sites).  This will be held at the Norwood Park Historical Society. (norwoodparkhistoricalsociety.org/events/events16.html)

TBA: Appearance on “Pretty Late,” WGN AM-720

Oct. 1: Investigation

Oct. 6: Investigation

Oct 7-9: Chicago Ghost Conference / Dark Shores 2016, Willow Springs, Il (chicagoghosts.com/conference.html) A full weekend of great presenters and parties.  I will be on hand to talk about some of the research I’ve been doing in Los Angeles including talking about Linda Vista Hospital, the haunted house near the site of the Tate/Manson murders, the Formosa Cafe hauntings along Hollywood Blvd and possibly Pasadena’s “famed” suicide bridge. Amazingly, this event will be held at one of Resurrection Mary’s favorite locations, the Willowbrook Ballroom.

Oct 10: Private Event

Oct 13: Special hosted screening of “Poltergeist”  Details are TBD at this point.

Oct 15-16: Milwaukee ParaCon, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee campus (milwaukeeparacon.com).  I will be on hand with Jay Bachochin, one of my partners in crime in creating the documentary “The Hidden Truth?” which chronicled the mysterious series of drownings in LaCrosse, WI, the possible paranormal connections and the investigation that followed.  We will be meeting and greeting while sharing stories of ghosts and Jay’s ongoing search for Bigfoot.

Oct 20: Third Thursday, Los Angeles, Ca (link TBA) Free panel discussion with filmmakers followed by a mixer/cocktail party.  Admission is free, but RSVP required.  Sponsored by the International Screenwriters’ Association (networkisa.org)

Oct 21: Haunted Chronicles, online (paramaniaradio.com/SHOW.php?showid=66) Live radio show, I’ll be talking about haunted sites with Jennifer Runyon Corman & Jimmy Haunted.

Do you need a speaker for your event?  I’ll be in the Midwest until Oct 17, then I’ll be in California starting Oct 21.  Drop me a line and I’ll come tell stories at your Halloween party/company party, etc.!


Woodstock and the Stickney House

We were planning on resting and laying low today, recovering from our awesome weekend at the Chicago Ghost Conference….but around 2 o’clock we decided we couldn’t just sit around any more, so we decided to go on the hunt for some things we’d always wanted to see!

Turns out that one of Mickey Cohen‘s bodyguards is buried in Woodstock, Illinois! Johnny Stompanato, a strongman in the LA mafia and lover of Lana Turner, was from the small town. Stompanato was stabbed by Lana Turner’s daughter, Cheryl Crane, a crime that was later ruled as self defense. His body was taken back to Woodstock after his passing and he was interred at Oakland Cemetery.

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The cemetery is old and beautiful, and also the final resting place of Dick Tracy creator, Chester Gould.

Unfortunately, Scott and I were not very successful in locating either of the graves (if you have directions to where they are let us know!)

We did however find lots of great old graves, and even saw some great wildlife.

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They even have a small pet cemetery with a bunch of sweet send offs for fur babies!

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It was a great place to spend an afternoon.  It was very restful and there were plenty of other people and their living pets walking around too.

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After the cemetery we headed into downtown Woodstock, which is super cute, and also where they filmed “Groundhog Day!”

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After a walk around the town square and some much-needed hot coffee, we headed over to the Stickney House.

The Stickney House was one of the locations covered by Scott in his book, “Voices from the Chicago Grave.”

Built in 1856 and located in the Village of Bull Valley. George Stickney, his wife Sylvia, and their family were the original residents. The house was built without any 90 degree corners.  The Skickney’s were spiritualists and believed ghosts could become trapped in such spaces. Of the 10 Stickney children only three survived into adulthood. The family held many séances in the house trying to contact the children that passed away.  Some believe that perhaps it was Sylvia’s inabilities as a medium or cultists who moved into the house in the 1970s that have caused the home to become very haunted.

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The house has gone through much renovations since we last saw the house. Thanks to the local historic society and the Stickney Foundation. The interior and exterior are both being restored to the houses original state, and I have to say, it looks fantastic!  Note in the photos below the continued use of rounded edges – even the front door itself is curved.

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From the Stickney House, we were directed to the small cemetery down the road where the family was buried. It was starting to get dark, but as we stumbled around by cell phone light, we eventually found the family. A few of the tombstones were missing, and some of the others were damaged, but overall they were in great shape considering their age.

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There was an oddly large amount of traffic on the road, considering how far out of town we were. Still, we decided to do a small EVP session at Sylvia‘s grave.

unnamed We haven’t reviewed our recording yet.  Once we do, we’ll definitely let you know of any findings!


Chicago Ghost Conference

By: Connor Bright

Finally putting my feet up and relaxing after an awesome and VERY busy weekend at the Chicago Ghost Conference!

This was my 3rd year attending the show, which this year was super close to Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery! As Scott and I were driving to the Chicago Gaelic Park (where the ghost con was), I checked my Time Hop app and learned that it was also the anniversary of my first visit to the cemetery. So that was a fun little coincidence!

As always the Conference was A LOT of fun! A great place to see old friends and meet the new faces of the Chicago paranormal community!

Scott was there promoting his documentary on the La Crosse river drownings with Jay Bachochin (check it out here) as well as selling copies of his book Voices From the Chicago Grave (get it here)

I mostly came for the booze….just kidding! I got to sit with the talented and beautiful Virginia Madsen! Star of too many movies to name here, but mostly at the ghost con because of her work in “Candyman” and “A Haunting in Connecticut.” She is AWESOME and I am really looking forward to seeing her and Jennifer Lawrence in “Joy” this Christmas!

The show is run by Ursula Bielski, who is a wonderful and amazing woman with a CRAZY amount of knowledge on all things paranormal! She’s the best, Google her!

We got in a little too late (and I was a little too tired) for any of the Friday night activities….but we made sure we were well rested and prepared for Saturday!!

Saturday Scott lead a panel on urban legends in Chicago which was ENTIRELY full of AMAZING blonde ladies! From right to left: Ursula Bielski, Mary Marshall, Liz Nygard, and Virginia Madsen.

I…..mostly took selfies and tried to get everyone to join the Instagram Cult!

After day one of the conference, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the costume party!!! Which was “Come-as-your-favorite-dead-Chicago-resident” themed. Also, it was at Chet’s Melody Lounge, right across the street from Resurrection Cemetery (home to Chicago’s most famous ghost, the aptly named “Resurrection Mary”).

I’m not going to lie, I thought Scott and I would have the most clever costumes…Black and white John Dillinger and Anna Sage (the woman in ORANGE, not red)

But then freaking Dave Schrader and Jeff Belanger show up as MRS. O’LEARY AND HER COW!! (The same cow that started the Great Chicago Fire) They just deserve all of the awards for that! All of them!!

We danced the night away and I did my best Janis Joplin impression on karaoke (which do me a favor and if you have video…delete it, okay? lol).

Sunday got off to a slow start, for obvious reasons! But once I picked out a good enough outfit to hide that my skin was still kinda grey….the ball got rolling and it was a lot of fun!

Some very FANTASTIC speakers, such as the brilliant Mary Marshall (you have to love a strong woman like her in the paranormal field)

We all gave interviews with Shadows on the Wall Paranormal Radio (who are awesome dudes and you should check them out!).

And I promise I’m not just saying that because they wanted to talk to me WITHOUT Scott! (That doesn’t happen much, since we’re a team)

We had a GREAT time as always at the Chicago Ghost Conference! We learned a lot of new things and heard all of the latest on the paranormal in Chicagoland and the rest of the county! It’s always a good thing to get back to your roots and catch up with old and new friends at the most friendly ghost convention around!!

Since I apparently can’t take a picture unless it’s a selfie, I have two people to thank for all of these!

Thank you, Kenneth Munyer of Midnight Paranormal Society! You take a darn great black and white photo (and sweet colored ones too!)

And thank you Jay for letting me borrow your pictures, check out his group the Wisconsin Paranormal Investigators, currently on the trail of Bigfoot!

Until Next Year!


Goodbye Harold

By Scott Markus

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The media has memorialized Harold Ramis a thousand times already today and he will get the same well-earned treatment for the next few days.  As someone who has never met Mr. Ramis personally, I have little of substance to contribute.  That said, he has long been an influence in my life.  For one, watching and re-watching Ghostbusters as a kid was like a religion for me.  I can’t say that I am a current paranormal investigator and writer BECAUSE of the film, but a mainstream, popular, timeless classic that treats ghosts and ghost stories in a fun, palatable way is truly a unique approach.  As a kid, “Ghostbusters” was my first favorite movie.  It doesn’t seem like too big a leap to think that Ramis had a little something to do with it.

To a larger degree, it was his writing that always captured my attention.  His comedies (namely “Stripes,” “Caddyshack” and “Groundhog Day”) are among my all-time favorites.  He “got” comedy and how to make an ensemble comedy work.  His continued connection to Chicago was also a point of pride for this Chicago kid – New York can keep Woody Allen – we have Harold Ramis.

To keep this post somewhat thematically linked to the rest of our web site – let’s take a quick look at the haunted locations that Ramis is forever linked to thanks to his films:

The Woodstock Opera house (Woodstock, IL):  This location is frequently seen in the Ramis written-and-directed film “Groundhog Day.”  In fact, during one of Bill Murray’s more depressed episodes, he commits suicide by jumping from this small town landmark.  Meanwhile, inside the theater is the ghost of a woman nicknamed “Elvira.”  There are more rumors than truths to her story, but her are some claims that she jumped to her death from the same tower.  To this day, people attending plays at this theater can hear Elvira’s disembodied sounds of approval dismissal depending on whether or not she is enjoying the performance.

The Biltmore (downtown Los Angeles):  LA served as NY for some of the most iconic moments in the Ramis written-and-starring “Ghostbusters.”  The scenes in the lobby where the ‘busters arrive to catch Slimer is the Biltmore.  The staircases double for Dana Barrett’s building where they have to make the long, climb to the roof to fight Gozer at the end of the film.  While they were there, the Ghostbusters may have had even more lucky if they checked out the first floor lounge.  It is here that bartenders whisper about seeing a phantom couple on a date.  When the servers go to take their order, the bashful ghosts vanish.  This is also the last place Elizabeth Short (The Black Dahlia) was seen alive.  Though we don’t have any ghost stories with this fact, we do urge ghost hunters to attempt to reach her and possibly find a clue in this still unsolved homicide.

The Hancock Tower (downtown Chicago):  Though Ramis never filmed here (Did he?  Someone tell me if I’m wrong), this landmark was the inspiration for the film “Ghostbusters.”  The land is considered cursed by it’s original, squatting “owner,” Cap Streeter.  Since Cap was run off the land, another notable oddball called this area home – this land was the birth site of Anton LaVey, known as the creator of the Church of Satan.  Later, the Hancock Tower was built here, coincidentally, in the shape of a portal for evil forces.  True or another baseless tradition of a bygone spiritualist movement, the site has been the scene of repeated tragedy, physically unexplainable deaths and unusual biological phenomena.