Chicago Police | Haunted Chicago
Chicago Tribune, February 28, 1898
The Thirteenth Precinct Police Station at Grand Crossing has a ghost. Many of the patrolmen refuse to spend a night in the squadroom, while some will not enter the up-stairs apartments at all after dark. The affair has long been kept secret, but has come out at last.
The apparition, which is described as a gray-haired man with covered face and floating garments, first appeared nearly a year ago. Sergeant William Clancy, since transferred to the stock yards district, was seated at his desk at midnight reading, when a shadowy form brushed past, touching his cheek, as it went and vanished up the stairs leading to the men’s sleeping room. Clancy glanced up hurriedly. There, leisurely mounting the stairs, was the dim outline of an old man, whose footfalls were noiseless. In another moment he had disappeared.
In a moment the door was thrown open and Patrolman Martin Murphy came down the stairs. To the Sergeant’s inquiry as to what was the matter, Murphy replied that some of the boys were playing tricks on him, and as he could not detect the guilty ones, he concluded he would sit up and smoke. Clancy asked Murphy if he had “seen anything.” The latter said he had not, but that some one pulled the covers off his bed. The sergeant then related he believed he had seen a few moments before, and added that perhaps it was not one of the men but a ghost that had taken liberties with the bed clothes.
Spend the Night Awake.
The men spent the remainder of the night playing cards and smoking. In the morning their story became known through the queries of the two as to whether any of the others had seen or heard anything unusual during the night. None of them had, am=n the subject was dropped.
A month later Night Operator David Lyon looked up between the hours of 12 and 1 and saw what he supposed was an old man go by his door. Old Jim, the mastiff kept in the stables in the rear of the station, began to howl. Lyon then stepped out into the office. Climbing the stairs with measured by noiseless tread was an old man with white locks and shadowy raiment, through which he could be seen the wall beyond.
Just then the telephone bell rang and the telegraph instruments began to click. Lyon saw the form disappear behind the closed door and then rushed to his instruments, No one had called. Sergeant Duggan, who was in charge of the station, was out at the moment of the spook’s appearance, but hearing the telephone ran in to answer. Neither Hyde Park nor South Chicago, the only two direct connections, had called.
Patrolman Tim Donovan and Charles Henderson were walking their beats a few blocks distant. The men had just separated when suddenly Henderson noticed a man seated on a white horse. They seemed to have come from nowhere, but sprang into existence as suddenly as the lighting of an electric lamp. The horse began to move away. As the rider retreated the two men followed. As the horse and man reached Eighty-second street and Chauncey avenue Donovan cried:
Hold on! We want to see you.
With a sound as of a taunting laugh horse and rider vanished.
Seated in a Patrol Box.
A month later Patrolman John Dwyer saw what he supposed was an aged tramp seated in the patrol box at Seventy-ninth street and Cottage Grove avenue reading a newspaper by the aid of a candle light. Dwyer drew near to investigate, when suddenly the intruder turned his head and the covered face and white hair of the “gray man,” as he had been flippantly dubbed by the skeptics at the station, was revealed. Dwyer ran to the adjoining beat and summoned Donovan. The two returned to the vicinity of the box.
“There he is,” said Dwyer.
Donovan looked and saw the man of the white horse. Just then the candle went out and the reader arose and stepped out into the moonlight, where he disappeared.
Since that night regular visits have been made to the station each month by the strange being. These visits invariably occur between the 1st and 5th of the month. He has been seen by ex-Desk Sergeant George Charles and Sergeant John Duffy, who has been awakened twice by the bony hands of the “gray man” stroking his face as he slept in the squadroom. Duffy will no longer sleep in the room for fear of another visit. Martin Murphy is another who refuses to occupy his bed up-stairs. The latter has had in all seven encounters with the mysterious stranger.
Operator Will Head claims that the first time he saw the apparition both the station clock and his watch stopped. It was 12:30 one night two months ago.
The last appearance of the “gray man” was on Feb. 4 shortly after midnight. Patrolman Philip McGuire was awakened by a hand placed upon his face.
“Are you ready to go to Cuba?” a hoarse voice asked.
McGuire saw bending over him the shadowy outline of an old man with covered face, which instantly vanished.
Chicago Tribune, May 5, 1907
SIX Chicago police stations are haunted. Spooks have been around some of the other stations at various times, but the six are haunted regularly. In one of these stations a patrol wagon driver resigned his position rather than continue in the ghost besieged headquarters where he was assigned to duty. In another station one of the patrolmen, attacked by a ghost while he was sleeping in the “dog watch” quarters upstairs, fired at his tormentor and six gaping holes remain in the plastering yet as a silent tribute to his poor marksmanship. In still another station a shadowy intruder so worked on the mind of a policeman that he was driven temporarily insane, and had to be taken to a sanitarium.
The Stockyards, Hyde Park, Grand Crossing, Englewood, Desplaines, and New City stations are haunted. Of these the Stockyards station is the favorite retreat for ghosts, and it is admitted by the Captain and the subordinate officers assigned there that the agitation for a new building was kept up principally by the hope that the station ghosts would disappear with the old headquarters. Desk Sergeant William Prindeville, who has been at the Stockyards station for more than ten years, has seen so many ghosts in his time that he has become used to them, and rather enjoys their company.
Old Soldier Dies in Basement.
The first ghost made its appearance at the Stockyards station one winter five years ago (1902) and was first seen on the night following the death, in the basement, of an old soldier. The old fellow, worn out by a long tramp through the snow, entered the station shortly after midnight and asked to remain all night. Sergeant Priniville, who was on duty at the time, told him to go down into the basement, where the “bojacks,” as they are known to the police, were sent when they asked for a night’s lodging. The veteran of many a hard fought battle dragged his weary body into the warm basement, and in a few minutes was curled up in what proved to be his last bivouac. Early the next morning a number of “regulars,” who had seen him enter the basement the night before, found him dead and reported his death to the officers upstairs.
The next night, when Sergeant Prindeville sat dozing in his chair, waiting for the dawn to break the night watch, and send him home to breakfast, he was startled to hear a slight rap on the door. The night was stormy and the sergeant thought at first that the wind had caused the noise. Listening carefully, he again heard the rapping on the door and went at once to open it. As he turned the knob a flurry of snow was whipped into his face and through this, in the half light, he saw the outlines of the same old soldier that had asked him for a night’s lodging on the previous night.
Knowing, as he did, that the man had died the night before, Prindeville relized at once he was facing a ghost. At that time he never had met with a visitor from the shadowy world and was frightened out of his wits when the old soldier’s spirit stood before him.
Stockyards Police Station
Ghost Comes in a Snow Storm.
The next morning, when the sergeant told the other officers of his experience, they refused to believe him, saying that he must have mistaken the whirling snow furries for the figure of the old soldier. After that, however, Prindeville watched for the ghost, and he declares yet that every winter, when there is a snow storm, the same old soldier comes to the station door, raps, and then walks away. The sergeant says that he often speaks to the ghost, when it appears, but that he never has been able to get an answer.
Detective John Shea, one of the most reliable and trustworthy officers of the Hyde Park station, nearly shot the rear end out of the police station one night when a ghost invaded the sleeping quarters on the third floor. Shea had gone to bed shortly after midnight and was sleeping soundly along about 2 o’clock when he was aroused by something tugging at the bed covers. The room was pitch dark and Shea, who was only half awake, did nothing more at first than to reach down with one hand after the disappearing bed clothes. A few minutes later the quilts again were pulled from the bed and the police officer, thoroughly awake, thought that somebody was trying to play a joke on him.
This time the policeman lay with his eyes open, watching for the intruder, and determined, if any one appeared, to shoot his revolver into the ceiling to show that he, too, enjoyed the fun. As he lay thus, with his finger tightly gripping the handle of his revolver, he was horrified to see a genuine ghost step from behind a clothes locker and approach his bed quilts
Fires Six Shots at the Spook.
Shea says the intruder was shaped like a woman, except that it had only one eye, which shone with a blue sort of light. Stealthily approaching his bed, until it stood within a foot of him, the ghost slowly put out a hand toward him. By that time Shea, who would rather chase an armed highwayman into a dark alley than eat, was as cold as an icicle, and was clutching his revolver handle so firmly that his fingers are bent yet from the pressure. Slowly the extended hand of the ghost gathered up the corners of his bed quilts and as slowly pulled them from him on to the floor. Then the ghost retreated to his position behind the locker, where it could watch him with its one blue eye until he had gathered up the quilts again.
Shea declares with all the vigor he can summon that he lay there eyeing that ghost for an hour. By that time, he says, his courage returned ti him, and with his gathering strength he leveled his revolver at the hideous eye before him and then jerked the trigger. With the shooting there was a commotion downstairs, where some of the other night men were playing cards, and across the street in the Holland hotel, where hundreds of guests were sleeping.
With strides that cleared a half dozen steps at a time, Shea’s fellow officers ran up to where he was sleeping and turned on the lights. Then, with the perspiration dripping from him, Shea pointed to the plastering on the south wall of the room, where six large holes had been bored by the bullets from his revolver, and uttered the one word, “ghost!”
Ghost Takes Harness from Horses.
Patrol wagon driver Thomas Murnane threw up his job at the Grand Crossing station rather than put up with the ghosts that make their headquarters there. Until a year ago, when Murnane resigned, a ghost appeared regularly at the station every night and found its chief delight in taking the harness off the patrol wagon horses. As required by the rules of the department, one team of horses must be harnessed all night, and Murnane declared before he left the service that the black figure of a man entered the barn every night and calmly removed the harness from his team.
Murnane and the two other men who worked on the wagon with him always went to sleep between the night runs of the wagon, and on one of these occasions when he was new in the work the driver said he was lying on his cot thinking about what a man ought to do to become a good policeman, when he noticed a man walk into the stall occupied by his team and remove the harness from the backs of the horses. In the darkness Murnane thought the man was one of the police officers and that perhaps he had been wrongly told to keep the horses harnessed all night.
The next morning he told the other men what he had seen and they only laughed at him, explaining that the visitor probably was “Johnny Reeves.” Murnane never heard of “Johnny Reeves,” but not caring to display his ignorance, he said nothing further about it at the time. Later that day, though, he asked one of the police officers about the station about Reeves and was told that he was a tramp who dued one night while sleeping in the barn. Murnane was then convinced that he had seen a real ghost.
Driver of Wagon Resigns Place.
Every night regularly “Johnny Reeves” walked into the stall occupied by Murnane’s horses and removed their harness. The patrol wagon driver, frightened out if his wits by the intrusions of the ghost, tried in vain to sleep as then other men did. Every night he told them afterward, he lay in a cold sweat, watching the intruder and finally, after he had worried himself sick, Murnane wrote out his resignation and with its acceptance forsook his long cherished ambition to become a policeman. At the Grand Crossing station it is said “Johnny Reeves” appears yet, occasionally, in the station barn, where he takes the harness from the horses.
Denny Lang, one of the plain clothes men at the Englewood station, was pushed out of bed and then chased several blocks down Wentworth avenue in his night clothes by a ghost one night last summer. Lang had been told that the ghost of a Polish laborer, who had been killed by a switch engine on the Rock Island tracks, just back of the station, had taken up its residence in the dormitory on the second floor, and that it carried a bag filled with brick bats, with which to attack them who came near. Lang did not believe the story. He would sleep in the station just to show some of the cowards that no sun=ch things as ghosts existed.
Englewood Spook Throws Bricks.
About an hour after he had climbed into one of the iron cots provided for the men on reserve duty, Lang was startled by a heavy thumping on the floor under his bed. Peering out from under the covers to learn the nature of the disturbance, he was startled out of his wits to behold, over in the corner of the room, a life sized ghost, with fire balls for eyes and equipped with the bag of brick bats, just as the other men had described him. Denny admits that he felt his courage oozing away and that he made up his mind at once that he had better get out in a hurry.
With one leap he reached the head of the winding stairs and in two more he was in the street and racing like wild fire down Wentworth avenue. After him, hurling brick bats, that bounced uncomfortably close to his heels, followed the angry ghost. Lang admits that he would have been running yet had he not reached his own home after setting the ghost a pace that was too hot to be followed, and since then he has not slept in the station.’
Recently the Englewood station was remodeled and the men say that with the changes the ghost does not appear as frequently as he formerly did. Even yet the officers at that station are chary about sleeping there unless several of them are together.
Tramp’s Ghost in Cell No. 3.
East Chicago avenue and the New City stations both are haunted by ghosts. At Desplaines street several years ago one tramp choked another one to death while they were confined in one of the cells, and since then the spirit if the murdered man has reappeared regularly to disturb the rest of the prisoners confined in the station. Among the derelicts who make a habit of sleeping at the station in the winter time, there is a pronounced aversion to cell No. 3, where the tragedy took place, and not a one of the old timers will sleep there. They all say they would rather sleep in the street than in the cell, where they are roused by the groans of the murdered tramp.’
At the New City station a prisoner fell dead one night while he was trying to file one of the cell bars in two and since the officers in the station say have often are aroused during the night by the sound of a file grating on iron. They believe the ghost of the departed prisoner is responsible for the noise.
Nearly all the police stations have a ghost story, but not all of them have a real ghost. In some of the stations ghosts have been made to order, as was the case at East Chicago avenue, where a telephone operator fixed up an electrical arrangement that scared a dozen of the police officers out of their wits before it was discovered. In every station one or more persons have died or have committed suicide and these facts give rise to the numerous accounts of ghosts with which the officers entertain themselves while waiting at the stations on reserve duty.
Chicago Tribune, October 21, 1906
Is the county jail haunted?
Prisoners at the bewitching hour are cringing in their cells, trusties avoid entering the old corridors where two score of men have lost their lives at the end of a rope, and even hardened guards, who have been there for years, admit there have been some strange manifestations.
Before Peter Neidermeir, the car barn bandit, was carried to his death on the scaffold in the corridor of the old jail he cursed all who had anything to do with his execution and asserted just before he was placed upon the trap:
You can’t kill me, you scoundrels, I will come back, and when I do come you will be sorry for what you have done.
Does Niedermeier Haunt Jail?
Has Neidermeier made good that threat? Has he organized the shades of the men who went before him on the same scaffold to haunt the old brick wall within which their lives were taken?
The old timers at the jail laugh at the idea, but at the same time admit that, when midnight comes, they hesitate to enter the scaffold room, where, if the stories told are true, the most weird noises are heard.
Long before the carpenters began their work of constructing the scaffold for the hanging iof Francis, the wife murderer, the pound, pound, pound of the hammer was heard by the prisoners. It was midnight, Wednesday, and while they took it for granted the carpenters were there, it was sure not until the next morning that the workmen arrived.
The pounding of the real hammer was not different to the ears of the prisoners from that they heard during the night previously. Since then the pounding has been heard nightly, although the scaffold is back in its place in the basement. The forty-fifth man to have died upon it has gone to join the army of those who, the superstitious believe, are back as shades to haunt the grim walls of their parting place.
The Cook County Criminal Court and Jailhouse
The Land Owner
Forty-five Men Hung in Building.
Certainly the old jail, that was built just after the fire and is now shut from view by the courthouse and the new jail, presents a proper setting for ghost carnivals. When it is recalled that forty-five men have been hung in its corridors there is reason for any one inclined to be superstitious at all to give credence to the creepy stories that are being told by the prisoners.
Before each recent hanging strange manifestations have been reported. Before the execution of Ivens the ghosts are alleged to have held high carnival and to have carried out a weird execution of their own while the condemned man was under the death watch in the new jail. The carpenters had put the scaffold in place and everything was in readiness for the hanging by the time the clock struck the hour of his doom—midnight. The old jail corridor was dark. The workmen had gone and the lights were turned low. Of a sudden there was a noice that aroused every prisoner. The jail guards in the front heard it and ran back. The drop of the scaffold had fallen.
No effort was made to reconstruct it that night, and when Jailer Whitman arrived the following morning he sought to ascertain the cause of the supposed accident. He found that the executioner’s rope, the string that leads back to the small box where the deputy sheriff awaits the signal to use his knife when the noose was drawn over the neck of the condemned man, had been cut as squarely as the deputy sheriff himself could have cut it.
Jailer Whitman cannot explain the incident to this day, and, although he is not one of those who are afraid of ghosts, he admits there was something unaccountable about the whole matter.
The old jail in which so many executions have taken place is a grim structure of four brick walls without partitions of any kind. In the center, with the corridors all around them, are the four tiers of cells that for a long while were not inhabited, but now, because of the crowded condition of the new jail, are used for prisoners.
Sounds in Old Corridors.
The inside walls of the old jail are absolutely barren plaster—just the brick and the cement between them. It opens into the new jail, the big commodious structure that faces on Dearborn avenue and completely hides from view the old structure, where the hangings take place. There is a barred door and a solid steel door separating the two buildings, but only the barred door has been used lately. Thus sounds from the old jail are heard in the new building.
Yet the prisoners in the new building have no fear while in the cells of the squatty old structure the occupants are frightened, and admit it frankly. They claim that they are kept awake at night by poundings at their very heads. One of the prisoners said that almost every night a light was thrown over his eyes until he was awakened and that no sooner did he sleep again than the demonstration was repeated.
So many things have happened recently in the corridors of the old jail and down in the scaffold room in the basement that the belief has spread that the place is actually haunted. Among the 125 prisoners in the cells of the old structure this belief is supreme, and they assert the punishment by imprisonment is second to their punishment by fear.
Prisoners Frightened Nightly.
Every night, according to the guards, men sit up startled, their hair on end, and when asked their trouble try to laugh it off, but invariably admit it in the end that they were frightened by a ghost. The guards themselves say that the happenings in the grim old place recently have been such as to frighten any one.
Chairs are moved from place to place during the nighttime, and papers have disappeared as if thrown in a furnace.
“I don’t believe in ghosts,” said one of the old jail guards, “but somehow I am getting creepy in this place. Last night I sat here and heard some one pounding, I got up and the sound stopped. I went to the place I thought the sound had come from, but there was no one. I asked some of the prisoners and they said they also heard the pounding. So, what are you going to think about it?”
“Do you think the jail is haunted?” he was asked.
“Well, I wouldn’t say that,” he replied, “it would make me look foolish. But I want to tell you that I wouldn’t stay in this place alone.”
Mysterious Lights and Sounds.
The prisoners are frank to admit that they fear to remain in the place and are frightened at night.
“I know there are ghosts here,” said one. “A few nights ago I woke up and there was a dim light over my cot. I felt a hand placed on my head, and then the light went out. I jumped up, but the cell door was locked. No living man could have possibly been in my cell. You ask me is this place haunted; I know it is haunted.
Nearly every prisoner has heard the mysterious poundings as if the scaffold was being put in place by the carpenters, and during exercise hour they are discussing the “haunted jail.”
One prisoner, a young man, was so frightened by one night’s stay in the old jail that Jailer Whitman, upon hearing his story, caused him to be removed to the new part. He asserted that while wide awake he witnessed the executions of a dozen men, among them being the car barn bandits. He asserted that he had not slept through the night.
“Why?” asked Jailer Whitman.
Visions of Nocturnal Hangings.
“Why?” replied the prisoner. “Because these men you have put out of existence were keeping me awake. They were hanging men in my cell. How could I sleep? How can anyone sleep in this place?”
The 125 prisoners in then old jail do not sleep peacefully, although some of them are wont to laugh at the superstition of others. However, the mysterious whistling sounds of the wind, the creaking of the windows, the pounding of the steam pipes, and the other mysterious noises that exist in all old structures disturb their slumbers.
When Jailer Whitman was asked if the old jail was haunted he said that he had often inclined to believe it was, but that, after an investigation, he had usually been able to explain the most mysterious things with natural causes.
I know of no way to determine whether the old jail is or is not haunted. Certainly it is a likely place for ghosts, if such things exist. Forty-five men have been hung in those old corridors, and one, at least, Neidermeier, vowed to come back to do us injury.
Jailer Whitman’s Views.
There are mysterious happenings in the old structure, but I guess such things occur in all old buildings. I would keep no prisoners in the place if it were not absolutely necessary. The new jail is full, and there are 125 prisoners being kept at present in the old jail. They are frightened nights, that is, a large majority of them are. Every sound disturbs them, and, while I know it to be true that they have this creepy feeling that the old place is haunted, I am unable to relieve them, except as vacancies are made by discharges to the new jail. When some person more superstitious than the others is brought in I seek to make a place for him that will not cause him undue fear.
My principle has been to place the new prisoners in the old jail and then bring them into the larger structure whenever possible. Whenever there is to be a hanging, or just after one, a lot of grewsome stories are told that causes the men in their loneliness to become superstitious, and the story of the haunted jail is a natural sequence. There are many in the cells and some of the trusties who believe the place is haunted.
Steam Pipes and Practical Jokers?
While, personally, I have no belief in ghosts, I must admit there have been some strange happenings in the old jail, if I am to believe the reports of the guards. I think, though, that, between the strange noises that occur in all old buildings and the jokes that are played upon fellow employes, all these strange happenings can be explained naturally. I have not gone further into the matter than to decide that the pounding that was so mysterious was merely the pounding if the steam pipes, and that the chairs turned around and things of that kind were the work of a practical joker.
THE COURT HOUSE GHOST
Chicago Tribune, December 11, 1867
One night about six weeks ago, Deputy Sheriff Edward Langely was sitting at his watch in the office at the county jail. The prisoners had all been locked up in their cells long before, and most of them were fast asleep. The gas in the different wards was dim and indistinct. It was past 11 o’clock. The jail was hushed in stillness, save from one or two of the cells the noise of conversation was heard from those of the prisoners who had not yet gone to rest. The silence was oppressive, and rendered more so by the dull, heavy ticking of the clock which hung over the office desk. Now and then a rat, startled, scampered hastily across the floor. Suddenly there was a sound, of all sounds most unearthly and awful, that swept through the prison from one end to the other. Langley started and listened. All was still again. He listened long, but heard nothing, But he had not been mistaken—the sound had been too fearfully distinct for that. So he arose and went through the several wards to see whence the voice had proceeded. There was nothing, absolutely nothing. The gas still burned low and steadily. There was the sound of water dripping in the bath room, and of rats running helter skelter over the floor. That was all. The prisoners who were still up had ceased talking. They must be listening too. Langley inquired from them, and learned that they had heard the same strange noise. They were even more startled than he, and uneasiness was visible on the face of more than one. It was found that the sound had aroused the prisoners who had fallen asleep, nearly every one of whom was now awake and listening. Not a few of them were evidently frightened. Every one was listening with a painful, anxious interest. The same sound repeated itself soon after, and even more unearthly and distinctly. Anon it died away in a long, prolonged wailing that seemed pitiful to hear. So it continued until after midnight, repeating itself at irregular intervals.
Langley kept what he had heard to himself, for he was fearful that he might be laughed at for his trouble.
Two nights after he heard the sound again. He was sitting with Deputy Sheriff Merrill in the office when both were startled by a repetition of the same moaning, mysterious noise. The ward leading from the office terminates at the door of a vault, which is used as a water closet. The noise seemed to issue from this vault, and appeared to the listeners to proceed from a human being suffering from the direst agony. Langley believed that some one was in the vault,and he unlocked the door. As he did so the sound was heard, directly beneath the floor on which he was standing. Both he and Merrill paused, and that instant he heard in a tone which he says he will never forget, the words, “Oh, dear,” thrice repeated. Langley applied his ear to the floor, and immediately the sound was heard, louder and more frightful than ever from the eastern extremity of the jail. Langley and Merrill returned to the office and pondered, but with less and less satisfaction, upon what they had heard. The sound was repeated as before, at irregular intervals, during the first half of the night.
About a week after this Deputy Sheriff Tuttle and Simpson were on watch at the jail, when, about 10 o’clock, they both heard a repetition of the mysterious sound. It seemed to issue from the western end of the jail. Tuttle seized a light and traced the sound, as he supposed, to cell No. 18. He stationed himself at the door and was quietly listening, believing that one of the inmates of the cell had caused the sounds, when, as he stood, he heard the mournful wail directly under his feet, and so near to himthat he received a shock which he felt for many days after.
Since then the ghost, or spirit, to which the origin of the sounds was ascribed, has been the leading topic of discussion among the prisoners and other inmates of the building. Among the former the superstition is prevalent that the ghost of Fleming, who was hung nearly two years since, with Corbett, for the murder of Mahoney, haunts uneasily the place where he suffered the penalty of his awful crime. The effect on the various prisoners confirmed in the jail is very great. Very many of them are remarkably ignorant, and as a consequence are superstitious to the last degree. They all believe in the genuineness of the “ghost,” and make no concealment of the uneasiness which they feel regarding the mystery. Some of them assert that they have actually seen the spirit. One of them, a colored man named William Jones, says he awoke one night in his cell and saw the figure of a man hanging with a strap around his neck to the grating which opens into the ventilator from the ceiling. He says that the fright overcame him to such an extent that he fainted. Within the past few weeks the Deputy Sheriffs who have been on watch have on several nights been called to the cells of prisoners whom they found in paroxysms of fear and horror, asserting that the Presence had appeared to them.
George Hughes and George Phillips, who have occupied cell No. 28 for the last four weeks stated that every night since their confinement except two, they have heard the noises spoken of, though they have seen nothing. They describe the noises as something awful., They seemed to be the crics of some being in the most dreadful distress. At one timne they seemed to be directly opposite their cell, at another a long distance off, rising and falling alternately, awfully distinct at one time at another barely audible.
Joseph Sheldon, Charles Selinger, Powell Steinbeck and Henry Schoelle, have been confined in cell No. 32 for the last two weeks. Sheldon tells the following, which was attested to by his companions:
A week ago last Monday night, they all lay down to rest in the bunk at the back of the cell, and soon soon after they fell asleep. After sleeping they cannot tell how long, the presence of an indefinable something in the cell caused them all simultaneously to start from their sleep. Each felt a painful sense of oppression that was as mysterious to them as it was horrible. Neither was conscious of anything definite, and yet they were all aware aware of the proximity of a something which made them tremble with horror, and caused the perspiration to roll each of them like rain. As they sat up in bed, each too much frightened to utter a word, they felt a cold, rushing wind swept through the cell, chilling each to his very bones. at the same instant the cell door (the inner door, which is enclosed in a heavy outer door of wood), shook and rattled, seemed to swing violently open and then shut again. Then all was still. The four men set bolt upright, listening for several moments. But they heard no more. They lay down, wondering at the vague cause of their alarm, which they connected with the “ghost,” of which they had heard from their fellow prisoners. Every night since they have heard the peculiar moaning sound which has been noticed by every inmate of the jail.
Richard Rainforth, the life insurance conspirator, who has been confined in the jail for several months for contempt of court, stated that for the past six weeks heard strange noises in the wards outside of his cell. The noises were heard by him between 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock at night. They were peculiar noises, a king of moaning. The sounds were so pitiful and so strange that he did not believe them to be human. At one time he heard the wall close to his cell; at another the sounds seemed to be fully two miles away; now it was loud enough to be heard through the entire prison, and now it fell suddenly into a low morning, which gradually died away only to be resumed after a short interval.
Last night the writer, in company with several prominent gentlemen of this city, repaired to the jail to await the recurrence of the mysterious sound. After waiting patiently, at 13 minutes of 10 o’clock, the ear heard a sound which seemed to proceed from the western end of the jail. Those who heard it hastened out into the ward, where for two hours they heard the sound repeated now faintly and again distinctly, now close at hand, overhead, underneath, seemingly from within the walls on either side, and again from the far off distance. At midnight the sound died away and was heard no more. It was a peculiar kind of moaning, like that described in the statements of the prisoners given above. One thing was certain; the sounds heard were of no human being. The y mnay be produced by the wind, ringing the changes of an Æolian harp in some portion of the building, but they are different, from those ever produced by a ventriloquist.
Chicago Tribune, December 14, 1867
THE COURT HOUSE GHOST
Supervisor Dolton, of the Committee on the Judiciary, to whom was referred the report inquiring whether the ghost now said to be haunting the Court House, is a county ghost or not, reported that they had taken the matter under advisement and come to the conclusion that it was not a county ghost, and that the Sheriff should be authorized to eject it.
The report on this important matter was referred back to the committee for further consideration.
Chicago Tribune, December 14, 1867
Last evening there was a large attendance at the Court House. A majority of the visitors desired to see or hear “the Court House ghost.” An inveterate joker sold many of those who came within the precincts of the establishment by furnishing them with tickets of admission, which were of course “bogus.” Some of these tickets stated upon their face that they are good for this evening. It is but fair to inform the recipients that there is an outer door to the jail, and even a loud nock upon it can hardly be heard within the bailiwick of the “spook.” The jailer does not acknowledge any such passes.
Chicago Tribune, March 5, 1868
RETURN OF THE COURT HOUSE GHOST
Between one and two months ago the celebrated Court House ghost disappeared and there was an end to the moan and groans that had been sounding through the jail. Why it went no one knew. Some mourned over its departure, while others rejoiced. It appears now, however, that its departure was not a permanent one. On Saturday night it took up its old quarters in the jail and made as of old all sorts of unpleasant noises. During Sunday and Monday nights the ghost made more noise even than usual. Tuesday night the sounds were more subdued than on the two previous nights.
Hahn, one of the prisoners at the jail, states that he saw the ghost Monday night. It came to his cell and looked through the hole. The ghost’s head was covered with a black hood, while the remainder of its raiment was of a spotless white. Hahn had no conversation with the ghost, and it soon left.
While some may regret the return of the ghost, it is probably for the best that it should be here. It is well to have a standing ghost which we can show to friends from other cities. It will be another evidence of the enterprise of Chicago.
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