Pinkolandia, a new play by Andrea Thome, raises an audience’s awareness of complex new relationships in the lives of Midwesterners. Set in the Reagan era in Wisconsin, where Thome grew up, the play explores the imaginary world created by two Chilean immigrant sisters whose family has fled the Pinochet regime. The play opened on May 13 in New York City at the INTAR theatre. INTAR, founded in 1966, produces Latino voices in English. The play will also receive productions during the coming season at Austin’s Salvage Vanguard Theater and Chicago’s 16th Street Theater.
Filled with breathtaking motion, captivating photos and illustrations, compelling interviews, and dramatic re-enactments, “Everglades of the North” shows viewers how people have sustained and changed the Grand Kankakee Marsh.
What Grand Kankakee Marsh, you ask? Exactly. You’re like the lumberjack foreman who hired only experienced ax-men:
“I’ve got a lot of experience, boss. I worked in the Sahara Forest.”
“Whaddya talkin’ about. There ain’t no Sahara Forest. There’s only a Sahara Desert.”
“That’s right, boss. Now.”
Well, as recently as 1900 there was a Grand Kankakee Marsh. 800 square miles of wetlands stretched from Momence, IL to South Bend, IN, more than 500,000 acres. For 12,000 years, the Marsh supported countless beaver, otter, deer, frogs, ducks, geese, eagles and tens of thousands of native Americans.
Europeans began arriving in the 17th century. Some – like many French – melded happily into the timeless lifeways of the Marsh. But the 19th century brought waves of new settlers who saw the Marsh as an obstacle to a god they worshiped, a god named Progress. They took 70 years, but these new earth carvers and river-straighteners successfully drained the Marsh. By 1920 only mini-marshes survived. What had been a beautiful river meandering through more than 2000 sandy bends for 250 miles progress-praisers morphed into an efficient, paltry 90-mile ditch.
In the last 20 years, however, the efforts of conservationists have awakened hundreds of persons in Northwest Indiana to the importance of the Marsh’s natural history and the possibilities of restoring the marsh to some semblance of its former glory.
Pat Wisniewski, Brian Kallies, Jeff Manes, and Tom Desch raised $100,000 and invested three years of their lives to make “Everglades of the North” the most important publicly-available contribution to this effort. Everyone concerned not only with the destiny of the Grand Kankakee Marsh but with putting our lives into a more sustainable relationship with nature owes them a debt of gratitude.
Thank you to Christopher Bruce for compiling this look back and to the old(er) folk who sent me the link.
Native Women Language Keepers: Indigenous Performance Practices. Arts-Based Research Symposium with playwright Alanis KingJanuary 30th, 2013 by Arvid Sponberg
January 28th to February 1st 2013, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
2pm, Native Campus Community Meet-and-Greet with Alanis King, CSP Conference Room, Angell Hall, Main Campus
11.30 to 1, Angell Hall 3222
Presentation by Alanis King, an Odawa Playwright/Director originally from the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve, the first Aboriginal woman to graduate from the National Theatre School of Canada, to English and Ojibwa language undergraduate students.
Afternoon, 2pm, Duderstadt Center Video Studio, North Campus
Emilie Monnet is an interdisciplinary artist with Anishnabe and French heritage and a graduate of Ondinnok’s First Nations Theatre training program – in partnership with The National Theatre School of Canada (Montreal, 2007). Emilie co-directed and performed Bird Messengers, for which she was awarded the LOGIQ prize for the most outstanding Art/Culture project of 2011. In May 2012, Emilie directed Songs of Mourning, Songs of Life, a musical theatrical show addressing legacies of genocide and the role of art for collective mourning, in collaboration with the Aboriginal women’s drum group Odaya and the Rwandan traditional musical ensemble, Komezinganzo.
She has two works in development: OKINUM, a one-women interdisciplinary performance inspired by her great great grand-mother, and another theatre collaboration with indigenous artists from the Amazon, Colombia. Emilie’s artistic engagement is inspired by years of social activism with indigenous organizations in Canada and Latin America, and community art projects with incarcerated women and Aboriginal youth. Emilie is the founder and Artistic Director of ONISHKA, an arts organization that fosters artistic collaborations between indigenous peoples worldwide while honoring their richness, diversity and resilience (www.onishka.org).
Evening, Central Campus North Quad, Room 2435:
7pm, Formal Symposium Opening with Heid Erdrich
Poet Heid E. Erdrich, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe, was born in Breckenridge, Minnesota, and raised in nearby Wahpeton, North Dakota, where her Ojibwe mother and German American father taught at the Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school.
Erdrich’s poetry often explores themes of indigenous culture, mothering, and the natural world, using the cadence of oral storytelling and a close attention to sound and meter to drive poems rich with sensory and dreamlike imagery. Erdrich is the author of several poetry collections, including Cell Traffic (2012), National Monuments (2008), winner of the Minnesota Book Award; The Mother’s Tongue (2005), part of Salt Publishing’s award-winning Earthworks Series of Native American and Latin American literature; and Fishing for Myth (1997). In a 2006 review, Twin Cities Daily Planet critic Erin Lynn Marsh described The Mother’s Tongue as “an exploration of our culture’s relationship with the term ‘mother’ and of the beginnings of language.”
With her sister, the writer Louise Erdrich, she founded the Turtle Mountain Writing Workshop. In 2008 the sisters co-founded Birchbark House, an organization that promotes literature written in indigenous languages. The sisters describe their vision on the foundation’s website: “We foresee a vital return to our Native American languages through the efforts of elders that are already underway. In creating ways to keep their words alive, through books, films, teaching and more, we will keep our languages viable and more, we will allow the means for creative fluency, the hallmark of a fully living language.”
11:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. Marcie Rendon workshop. Duderstadt Center Video Studio, North Campus.
She will lead a ten-minute play, Friends, which was published in Performing Worlds into Being: Native American Women’s Theater, and which she and the group will translate into Ojibwe for possible production in Winnipeg in 2013. We will have a reading of the script and then work together on translation issues. With 298 and 323, in Duderstadt
6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Angel Sobotta Presentation. CSP Conference Room, Angell Hall
Angel Sobotta (Nez Perce), is a Nez Perce language teacher in the tribal headstart, local schools, and at the Lewis Clark State College in Idaho. She is also a writer and documentary filmmaker of projects like, “’Ipsqilaanx heewtnin’ weestesne – Walking on Sacred Ground – the Nez Perce Lolo Trail” and “Surviving Lewis and Clark: The Niimiipuu Story” both winning the Aurora and Telly awards respectively. She is also a theater maker with the Lapwai Afterschool Programs, teaching language by adapting legends and directing the youth, including “Niimiipuum Titwaatit – The People’s Stories,” an anti-bullying project (2012). Angel is a University of Idaho Interdisciplinary Masters student. Her thesis involves an immersion experience for language teachers by adapting the Nez Perce creation story, written in the Nez Perce language, into a stage play.
3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Virginie Magnat workshop, Duderstadt Center Video Studio, North Campus
Virginie Magnat is Assistant Professor of Performance at University of British Columbia, Okanagan. She conducts embodied research on transmission processes among women performers from different cultures, traditions, and generations; and draws from Indigenous epistemologies and methodologies to examine the interrelation of lived experience, embodied knowledge, tradition, creativity, and spirituality. Her essay “Can Research Become Ceremony? Performance Ethnography and Indigenous Epistemologies” appeared in summer 2012 in the Canadian Theatre Review.
She will share a workshop called “Sharing Embodied Cultural Knowledge Through Traditional Songs.” In this session, participants will be invited to share/teach/learn traditional songs from their cultural legacy so that we can get to know each other through our songs.
6.00 -8.30 Swamp Women/ Miiskwaasinii’ing Nagamojig workshop, Duderstadt Center Video Studio, North Campus
Create a new praise song with the Swamp Women, Miiskwaasinii’ing Nagamojig, among Daphne Odjig’s’s paintings. Come, sing, drum and be part of the community!
Friday 1st of February
On Friday morning, we’ll gather for a workshop sharing and video recording in the Duderstadt Center Video Studio. 10-1.
In the afternoon, we end our gathering with a presentation by Margaret Noori, followed by a communal reflection on aesthetics, women and performance. 2.00-4.30, Duderstadt Center, Conference Room 1180, North Campus.
Margaret Noori (Anishinaabe) received an MFA in Creative Writing and a PhD in English and Linguistics from the University of Minnesota. She is Director of the Comprehensive Studies Program and teaches the Anishinaabe Language and American Indian Literature at the University of Michigan. She is also one of the founders of the drum group Miskwaasining Nagamojig, current President of Association for the Study of American Indian Literatures, one of the Clan Mothers who coordinate the annual Native American Literature Symposium, and member of the Anishinaabemowin-Teg Executive Board. Her book Bwaajimowin: A Dialect of Dreams in Anishinaabe Language and Literature is forthcoming from MSU Press and her poetry has recently appeared in the Michigan Quarterly Review, Sing: Poetry from the Indigenous Americas and Cell Traffic by Heid Erdrich. For more information visit www.ojibwe.net where she and her colleagues have created a space for language that is shared by academics and the native community.
She will be work-shopping a chapter from a forthcoming book on Anishinaabe narrative traditions which traces the way “oral” traditions are actually “physical” performance traditions which carry thought into space and allow us to exchange our interpretations of the world around as word which becomes stage dialogue, story, lyrics or poetry.
Generous Support provided by the Institute for World Performance Studies, the Rackham Dean’s Strategic Funding, OVPR, LSA, the Humanities Institute and the International Institute, the Digital Media Commons – University Library, the English Language and Literature Department, the Women’s Studies Department, the Performance Studies Reading Group, and the Trauma Studies Collective.
If you enjoy the outdoors and its wildlife, visit state parks, canoe rivers and lakes, hike forests and hills, dance in prairies, take pleasure in learning your surroundings, and are facinated with the beatiful culture and history of the Midwest- then this DVD is a must see. It is an excellent one-hour educational documentary that explains the story behind the Kankakee Marsh located in Northwestern Indiana and part of Illinois by depicting individual and societal perceptions, historical, political, and economical facts, ecological and environmenatal altercations, conservation, degradation, and restoration. The Kankakee has always been a jem that I have treasured and one that I will forever continue too value.
I give an enormous kudos to those who diligently worked endlessly during the creation of this vital piece that will undoubtedly be used as educational material and hold its own in Midwestern history. I would also like to thank those who donated to the project, as I am sure it would not have been possible if they had not spare their generosity.
DVD: Everglade of the North- The Story of the Grand Kankakee Marsh
Producer-Writer: Jeff Manes, Producer-Camera-editor: Brian Kallies, Producer-camera-editor: Tom Desh, Executive Producer-camera: Pat Wisniewski. Presented by Lakeshoreo public television 2012 For Goodness Sake Productions, LLD
Marcia Noe is Professor of English and Co-ordinator of Women’s Studies at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.
Airgood, Ellen. South of Superior. New York: Riverhead Books, 2011.
Campbell, Bonnie Jo. Once Upon a River. New York: W.W. Norton, 2011.
Harrison, Jim. The Great Leader. New York: Grove Press, 2011.
Up in Michigan, Ernest Hemingway tells us, “You could look out across the woods that ran down to the lake and across the bay. It was very beautiful in the spring and summer, the bay blue and bright and usually whitecaps on the lake out beyond the point from the breeze blowing from Charlevoix and Lake Michigan” (Complete Short Stories 60). Three excellent Michigan novels, recently published, offer a more complex construction of that state’s natural environment than does Hemingway’s picture postcard description and demonstrate, as Jim Harrison observes in The Great Leader, that character emerges “from the landscape of our early years” (228).
Harrison has been writing about the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for decades; his most recent novel, The Great Leader, tellingly contrasts the U.P. with more exotic and less spine-stiffening western locales as he relates the adventures of Simon Sunderson, a newly retired Michigan State Police detective, who perseveres in hunting down and putting out of business a pedophile and extortionist masquerading as the leader of a religious cult. Born and raised in the U.P., Sunderson has been toughened by sixty plus years of experience with brutal cold, punishing wind, and blinding snow that stand him in good stead as he pursues his quarry through the Midwest and into Colorado and Nebraska. Along the way Harrison rounds up the usual female suspects: the ex-wife who’s too good for Sunderson; the bodacious secretary, regularly available for romantic encounters; the sexually precocious teenager who lives next door; the slut with whom Sunderson misbehaves at his retirement party. Harrison cleverly deflects the charge of gratuitous bimbo proliferation by having these women provide crucial information that enables Sunderson to track and close in on his perpetrator.
Poet, essayist and author of sixteen previous novels, Harrison is a master prose stylist, offering incisive and pithy commentary about the vicissitudes of contemporary life, as when he tells us that “when you looked into the history of religion, those in power generally devised a way to get at the young stuff “ (22) and “a central fact of our time was the triumph of process over content” (229). But the pleasures of reading this book derive not only from making contact with a lively and articulate intelligence but also from experiencing an unfamiliar and intriguing place. Harrison masterfully evokes the U.P. as his protagonist moves from backwoods bars to hunting camps to brook trout streams and ponds, encountering snowmobilers, grouse hunters, Indians, and loggers. As he nears the end of his quest, Sunderson meets an Arizona drug lord who asks him what he’s doing there; he replies that he is trying to discern the relationship among sex, money, and religion. The drug lord says that they are one and the same, but this book shows that each can be a means to the other two. Although by no means a new one, this theme is skillfully executed with a winning combination of humor and insight in this well-crafted and engaging novel.
After spending her youth in Chicago, Ellen Airgood’s protagonist in South of Superior returns to her native U.P. to take care of some unfinished business and, in so doing, finish growing up. Madeline Stone finds the U.P. to be a “foreign, otherworldly place, complete with magic and perils and tests” (11) when she returns to McAllaster, Michigan, to learn more about the mother who deserted her and the grandfather who then refused to take responsibility for her care. As she surveys the town from atop a hill, she reflects on this very different environment, foreshadowing the development she will undergo: “[t]his was a wide, wild quiet, so spacious it seemed endless, and she wondered how it might change a person” (12).
And change her it does. Through caring for a five-year-old boy with an irresponsible young mother, she is able to heal the psychic wounds she received when she was abandoned at the age of three by her own teen-aged mother. Madeline further matures as she cares for two elderly sisters to whom she is tangentially connected, buys and re-opens an old hotel, and strives to learn more about her maternal relatives, meeting successfully the challenges of a demanding locale, difficult people, and her own emotional needs that have been complicated by a murky past. Her small triumphs and the rough patches she negotiates as she tackles the rigors of U.P. living and comes to terms with her unstable identity and shadowy parentage are rendered convincingly and movingly.
Airgood knows that less is more when it comes to character development; she has learned how to create a three-dimensional character with a few key details and some terse dialogue. Mary Feather, Emil Sainio, Gladys Hansen, and other characters come to life on the page, distinctive and authentic, enlisting the reader’s empathy for the emotional, financial, and physical problems faced by the elderly rural poor that are complicated in the U.P. by a harsh winter environment and the challenges to a community ethic of caring and compassion presented by newcomers committed to materialism, commercialism and might makes right.
Like South of Superior, Once Upon a River focuses on the existential crisis that abandonment presents its protagonist. Bonnie Jo Campbell tells a coming-of-age story that recalls that most American of coming-of-age stories, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Like Huckleberry Finn, Margo Crane is suddenly orphaned and thrust upon her own resources. Like Huck, she takes to the river, assuming different identities as she grows up quickly by having to deal with deception, violence, betrayal, greed, cruelty, thievery, and murder. Also, like Huck, Margo is on a quest; as she puts it, “I’ve been trying to figure out how to live.”(263). But while Huck reaches the end of his river journey determined to light out for the territory; Margo makes a different decision, although for much the same reasons as Mark Twain’s protagonist.
Margo exemplifies Harrison’s dictum that our early experiences with our environment shape our character. She learns to fish, trap, and hunt at her grandfather’s knee, not merely living in harmony with Nature but becoming a part of it, as seen when she shoots a deer and crawls underneath it to drag her quarry home. Although the skills her grandfather taught her have equipped her well to survive on her own as she travels down the Stark River in western Michigan to try to find the mother who abandoned her, this kind of upbringing has not taught her how to interact effectively with people.
Margo’s first attempt at learning how to live is modeled on her mother’s modus operandus: she goes from man to man, hooking up with an outlaw, a power company employee, and a native American professor. Each offers Margo a negative model of how to live: the outlaw, Brian, is violent and anarchistic; the power company employee, Michael, is cautious and conformist; and the Indian is feckless and irresponsible. Eventually she comes to understand that depending on a man to tell you who you are and how you should live will only complicate your life and make it more difficult; she ultimately concludes that only solitary life on the river can offer her the kind of freedom she needs to be who she is. Moreover, her relationship with Smoke, an elderly paraplegic whom she meets at the end of her journey, teaches her that caring and doing for others is a more fulfilling route to self-actualization than depending on others to care and do for her.
Campbell’s no-holds-barred realism is at times painful to read, but her tale of a young girl who has to grow up before she should is no less poignant and engrossing. Like Airgood, she writes empathetically of the travails of the elderly poor, but the main focus of Campbell’s social criticism is on the sexual demands made on inexperienced young girls today by adult men who should be protecting them, not preying upon them.
In Hemingway’s “Up in Michigan” the deceptively crisp beauty of the lakeshore frames a brutal sexual encounter between a waitress and the town’s virile blacksmith. Similarly, in the books under discussion here, the characters must come to terms with the beauty and the brutality of Michigan’s natural environment. Harrison’s protagonist is a man in the autumn of his life; Airgood’s is a young woman, and Campbell’s is a teen-aged girl. While they all face different problems presented by their respective stages of life, they must all, to one degree or another, cope with the challenges of the Michigan wilderness to accomplish the tasks they set for themselves. Like the characters in Hemingway’s stories that take place up in Michigan, they strive, suffer, and endure and prevail in a northern paradise that is at the same time Eden and Hades.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
While attempting to piece together a cohesive collection of Midwestern lore and legend, I turned my investigation to a local source. I needed and wanted to find an experience of “The Region” from someone who has come face to face with the area’s mysteries. My thoughts turned to my old friend and budding author, Emily Goodwin.
I have known Emily nearly as long as I have known my own family. Our families moved to Valparaiso, Indiana around the same time, in 1993. We lived across the street from one another, attended the same elementary school, the same middle school, the same high school, and are now both beginning our professional lives in the same geographic area.
Emily has always been a dreamer. Growing up, she and I would venture out into the world to stir up any kind of ghost that we might find; be it in an abandoned building or in our own respective homes. Emily has the unique ability to make most anything exciting which came in handy when she would try to sell her friends on these outings to frightening places. Emily has always been the bravest and most ambitious in these adventures, and she has now turned her ambition and her gift for storytelling into profit.
Emily Goodwin is the author of a collection of young adult fantasy novels including “The Guardian Legacies” and “The Contagium Trilogy.” When I approached her about my research project, she jumped on it. She submitted to me a thrilling telling of one of her experiences.
The following is a recounting of her experience, in her own words, with what Emily came to dub as “The Crowley House.”
I had driven past it dozens of times. It was just another old, abandoned house on the way to the barn. Sometimes I’d look at it and wonder why such a neat, big house had been left to crumble apart in an Indiana cornfield, but those thoughts would soon disappear from my mind as I stepped into the dusty isle of the barn.
It was my senior year of high school and my schedule was full of elective classes. My favorite was photography. It didn’t even feel like school! Plus, several of my good friends were in that class with me. When our teacher assigned us to an antiquity project, I knew just the place.
Later that afternoon, my mom, sister, and best friend drove to the barn, making a detour at the old house. It was large for an old house, with dark brick walls and white framed windows. A wraparound porch with rotten floor boards had once been a perfect place to sit and gaze into the country yard…which was now a busy street. The house had a cluster of out-buildings, including a huge cattle barn, a detached garage, a chicken coup, a shed and…something else.
The little building intrigued us the most. It was about four feet tall with a curved roof. The door faced away from the house, different than the other out-buildings. It had a small chimney, which struck me as odd. The camera flashed away, taking pictures of the old buildings.
Unable to resist any longer, I walked around the funny-looking shed. I assumed it was some sort of structure to hold animals, though having a wood burning fireplace didn’t make sense. I knew I was wrong as soon as I opened the door. The entire shed had hard wood floors. No farm animals would have been kept inside. I snapped a few pictures before I noticed the box.
I let the camera hang heavily around my neck. Carefully, I slid the heavy box into the daylight. A yellowed newspaper was the first thing I pulled from the box; it was dated 1972. I set it aside and looked in the box. My eyes widened and I inhaled in surprise. The box was full of book on witch craft.
I called my best friend over and we hurriedly went though the box. Most of the books were in horrible condition. Some were moldy, others were damaged by water. Only one book was decent enough to keep, a book written by the infamous Aleister Crowley.
The next day, I was able to develop the film. Along with pictures of my horses, many pictures of the house were on that roll. I stood in the darkroom, surrounded by my classmates, and watched the pictures slowly show up. The creepy house photographed well, and I was sure I would get an A on this assignment.
When I hung the pictures up to dry, I noticed a weird white mist in the attic window of the old house. At first I thought something had gone wrong in the developing process, but upon closer inspection, my heart sped up. I was looking at the white, misty figure of a young girl.
We didn’t have to think twice. As soon as I showed my best friend the photograph, we knew we had to go back to the house. We stopped by on our way to the barn again that day. We inspected the house, noting that every first story window and door was boarded up. There was no way we could get inside and investigate…unless we went through the crawlspace. We weren’t equipped to sneak through the dark, so we planned on going the next day.
It was an unsettling shock to see the crawlspace doors chained shut. How could that be? Only twenty-four hours ago we were standing right outside, looking at the doors with devious smiles on our faces. Was it a coincidence? With blank stares we looked at each other. It had to be…right?
We moved right along to plan B. With another friend, we decided to try our hand at sneaking around the old farmhouse in the dark—just to see what happened. We all had the same terrifying sense of being watched. And when an old, Ford truck drove past three times in a row, we decided to get out of there.
It was back to the drawing board. It seemed whatever we thought of someone—or something—got in the way. Then I came up with what I thought was a fail-safe plan. It seemed genius! We knew it had to work and we would get some sort of evidence.
At two-fifty Saturday morning, three friends and I loaded into the car. We drove through the quiet darkness to the old farmhouse. We pulled the car into the driveway, our master plan in the works. With a smile, I clicked on my digital voice recorder, jumped out of the car, and ran to the porch. I carefully lined the recorder up with a porch beam before booking it back to the car and speeding away to safety. We spend a half hour driving around, wasting time.
After what felt like forever, it was time to go back. I raced out of the car to retrieve the recorder. When I got to the porch, I froze. The recorder was about a foot from where I had placed it and was upside down. A chill ran through me and all I wanted was to get away from that house. I dashed back to the car and hit rewind as we drove off.
Nerves and excitement flooded my body—something had moved the recorder! We had captured good audio evidence, I just knew it! The car fell silent as we listened with anticipation. Everything was as expected: the recorder clicked on, I ran out of the car (the sound of me running through the weeds was louder than I liked), the recorder was placed on the porch with a dull thud. Then we heard me running back to the car and the tires squealing away.
Five seconds of silence passed. Then we heard the very distinct sound of footsteps on the porch. An odd, muffled sound echoed through the speakers. Then the recorder clicked off.
Open mouthed, we all started at each other. Something had turned off the recorder! Something had walked across the porch and turned it off! How as that possible? The house was empty and boarded shut! It wasn’t possible. It just wasn’t.
I had to go back. I just had to. I became almost obsessed, driving slowly by every day, taking pictures as my car creeped by. I thought about the house constantly, wondering what could have turned off the voice recorder. Was it a ghost? Or was it something more?
I spent hours at the library, looking through old newspapers and property records. No matter where I looked, I couldn’t find any info about the house. So, naturally, we planned another midnight trip back. The night air was cold. Bundled up in my warmest cut, I was armed with a flashlight, a voice recorder, and a pocket knife. We parked the car about a fourth of a mile down the road and jogged through the misty air to the house. Not even a minute after we arrived, headlights illuminated the usually deserted back road.
We ducked behind the garage and waited for the loan car to pass. My heart skipped a beat when the same old Ford truck slowly rolled by. I exchanged a horrified look with my friends; how did the people in the truck know we were there? Once the headlights disappeared from view, we dashed back to the house. We had made is so far as placing one foot on the rickety steps leading to the front porch when more headlights blinked ominously in the distance.
Once again running to the safety of the garage, we watched in horror as the same Ford truck drove past. Ok…that just wasn’t possible. It was possible to drive down to the highway, make a right hand turn onto another busy road and cut across another country road before turning onto the same street that housed the property we were standing on, but—after trial and error—it took at least seven minutes, and we drove over the speed limit.
When the truck drove past for the third time, we took it as our cue to leave. It was back to the drawing board, and we clocked in more hours of research. Strange things started happening. I saw shadows out of the corner of my eyes, my sleep was plagued with nightmares of being hanged in the attic of the farmhouse. More disturbing was the fact that my best friend shared the same dream.
We had uncovered and awaked something in that house, and we needed to find out what it was and put a stop to it before someone got hurt. We drove across town to a New Age store and built a magical arsenal. With black salt, quartz crystals, and white sage smudge sticks, we were convinced we could drive the threatening force away.
The weekend passed with no chance to visit the house. When Monday rolled around, school passed agonizingly slow. We hurried to our cars as soon as the final bell rang and sped off to the house, which we had termed the ‘Crowley House’.
My heart fell to my feet when I saw the building permits. After asking around, we learned that someone had purchased the property and had a plan to build a subdivision on the land. It would be a disaster, we knew it. A week later, the house and all the out building were torn down. The land was tilled and flattened. It seemed that construction would start at any time…but it never did.
We never found out just what happened. Had the contractures ran out of money? Or did an evil force drive them away?
My horses moved home to our house in the country several miles away. I had no reason to drive by the property anymore. To this day, I randomly dream about the Crowley House and the souls trapped inside. Something other worldly took place in that house, and I’d give anything to find out the truth.
Please visit the following links to find out more on Emily Goodwin.
Fort Leavenworth is a United States Army facility located in Leavenworth County, Kansas, immediately north of the city of Leavenworth in the upper northeast portion of the state. It is the oldest active United States Army post west of Washington, D.C., having been in operation for over 180 years.
The fort occupies 5,600 acres and 7,000,000 square feet of space in 1,000 buildings and 1,500 quarters. It is located on the Frontier Military Scenic Byway (U.S. Route 69 and K-7 corridor).
There are several old officer houses on historic Fort Leavenworth that are haunted, faces can be seen in the back of the fireplaces and strange noises can be heard at night. It is believes that these manifestations are the ghosts of inmates who were executed at the United States Disciplinary Barracks and the ghosts of those buried in the National Cemetery located just beyond the prison walls.
The Chief of Staff’s Quarters
Located at 624 Scott Avenue, the Chief of Staff’s quarters continue to host a teat party in the parlor. Though apparitions have not been sighted, several people report hearing the sounds of a tea party coming from an otherwise empty parlor.
Former Site of the St. Ignatius Chapel
The original St. Ignatius Chapel was located at 632 Thomas Avenue. In 1875, the original church and rectory burned to the ground, claiming the life of a young priest there on assignment. The building material was salvaged to build the residence that exists there today.
Some of the scorched bricks can still be seen making up the fireplace in the dining room of the house. Etched into these bricks are names, including that of Father Fred. Residents of the home have claimed to see Father Fred walking through the home in his vestments. He is most often seen walking up and down the stairs in the kitchen and dining room. In this 1970s, his robed figure appeared in a Polaroid photograph taken during a dinner party.
A new church was erected after the 1875 burning at the corner of McClellan and Pope. However, on December 16, 2000 in the early hours of the morning, it burst into flames and was completely destroyed.
The General’s Residence
Located at 1 Scott Avenue, the General’s residence is said to continue to host General George Armstrong Custer. He is often seen roaming the first floor of the old residence; it is said his spirit lingers because Fort Leavenworth was the site where he was court-martialed in 1967 for leaving his command and mistreating his troops.
The hearing was held in the command general’s quarters. Custer was found guilty and given a year’s suspension without pay. He was afterward reinstated and rejoined the Seventh Cavalry in September, 1868 where he served until the notorious Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876.
Old Disciplinary Barracks
The Disciplinary Barracks are made up of twelve towers along the wall of the Fort. Before the barracks closed, not all of them were manned. Closed off, the only way you could get into the tower was to talk along the wall from another tower. Guards often reported seeing something moving inside the tower, despite this challenge. Long ago, a soldier committed suicide in the tower by shooting himself in the head.
The control tower is reported to having received phone calls from Tower Eight, even though the tower was abandoned and vacant. When the line was picked up, there would only be static on the other end. One story states that a patrol car reported seeing someone standing in the tower pointing a rifle in their direction; no one was in the tower.
Guards also report hearing the sounds of walking and knocking on the trap door entrance to the towers when no one was there.
Building 65 was the prison hospital at one time. Legend has it that fourteen German prisoners of war were executed in the elevator shaft; often, guards report hearing screaming coming from the old elevator shaft. On the third floor, an area primarily used as storage, a ghostly man in a wheelchair was often seen being pushed by another ghostly figure. A new barracks was built in 2002, and operations at the old barracks ceased.
The Officers’ Quarters
Located 605 McClellan Avenue, the Officers’ quarters is said to host a previous resident. A ghostly apparition of a man with a moustache and goatee is often seen appearing in the fireplace in the middle of a burning fire. As the fire dies, his face is seen lingering near the back of the fireplace. The same image is often seen in one of the bedrooms, and one in the bathroom with an old-fashioned razor and shaving cream. Other times, loud footsteps are heard traveling up and down the stairs, doors are heard slamming shut, and scratching noises and loud crashes can be heard throughout the house. Residents also report icy cold spots in various parts of the home.
The Rookery is a duplex located at 12 and 14 Sumner Place. It is the oldest house on the base and is said to be the home of several spectral presences. Built in 1832, the residence has been occupied continually since it was erected. It is reported as the most haunted house in the state of Kansas due to the high number of ghostly residents. The most prevalent haunt is that of a woman with long hair who rushes at people with her fingernails clawing in attack. She is said to have been a victim of violence long ago, and her ghostly presence lingers within the Rookery.
The apparition of an elderly woman is often seen chattering in the corner. A ghostly young girl is often seen throwing a tantrum. As residents try to sleep in the home, they report being aroused from slumber by an old man in a nightshirt with bushy hair.
The houses in Sumner Place are haunted by a kind woman in a black woolen dress and shawl. It is believed that this woman was, at one time, the nanny or housekeeper who lived in the attic of one of the old homes. Her ghostly presence is said to look after families in the area; she tries to help them with domestic chores, such as doing the dishes and making beds. She is also drawn to children, attempting to soothe and calm them when they are upset.
One child told his parents of a nice lady who would come read by his bedside before he went to sleep. Shortly after, a book was found in the child’s room that was not the property of the family. This spirit, however, feels that babysitters and grandmothers are competition. Her animosity causes babysitters and grandmothers to feel a firm push out of the upstairs nursery by unseen hands.
At one time, the residents of 16 Sumner Place became so perturbed by her benevolent presence that an exorcism was had on the home. Indeed, the lady in black left the residence, only to relocate next door to 18 Sumner Place. Witnesses believe they see her figure silhouetted against the attic window.
The National Cemetery
The National Cemetery is home to the ghost of a woman by the name of Catherine Sutter. She is reported seen walking around the tombstones of the cemetery. In the fall of 1880, Catherine, her husband, and two children stopped at the Fort on their way to Oregon territory. One day, her husband sent the children to collect firewood. They never returned.
It is believed the two children wandered near the river, where they were swept away by the current. A search party attempted to find the children for three days, but the children were finally given up for dead. Catherine and Hiram Sutter stayed at Fort Leavenworth through the winter, as though their children would come searching for them. Catherine was seen walking through the snow in the grounds of the Fort, calling out to her children. She contracted pneumonia and later died that winter. She was buried in the National Cemetery.
Distraught with grief, her husband, Hiram Sutter returned to his home in Indiana that spring. A short time later, Hiram Sutter received strange but glorious news. His children, Ethan and Mary, were alive and well. Swept into the river, Ethan and Mary were rescued by a tribe of Fox Indians. The Indians were harboring Ethan and Mary through the winter until the spring, when they would be returned to Fort Leavenworth.
Catherine still wanders the grounds of the National Cemetery, forever unknowing of the safety of her children, still searching believing them to be missing. Wearing an old calico dress and black shawl, Catherine is often seen carrying a lantern and desperately calling out to her children. Other times, only her voice can be heard, calling out from the darkness for her children.
It is also reported that the ghost of Chief Joseph, a proud Nez Perce Indian leader, roams the cemetery. He was incarcerated at Fort Leavenworth in 1877. Additionally, Civil war soldiers are also reported as walking through the woods nearby the National Cemetery.
The Sheridan House
The Sheridan House of 611 Scott Avenue is said to be haunted by the vengeful spirit of Mrs. Sheridan, wife of General Philip H. Sheridan. In 1869, General Philip H. Sheridan left his wife on her deathbed to pursue business interests in Chicago.
Address: 508 E. Second Street, Villisca, Iowa 50864
June 9, 1912 is often referred to as the darkest night in Villisca’s history. While the murderer’s identity remains a mystery, so do the paranormal entities that continue to haunt the scene of this gruesome tragedy.
Villisca is a city in Montgomery County, Iowa, United States. It is a small, rural community nestled in the hills of southwest Iowa, boasting approximately 1,300 people today. In the early 1900’s, the town boasted about 2,500 people.
In the early 1900’s, more than two dozen passenger and freight trains stopped at the depot each day. Villisca boasted several hotels, restaurants, stores, theaters, and manufacturers. Josiah B. Moore was a prominent businessman in the Villisca community. The owner and operator of the Moore Implement Company (a John Deere Company franchise), Moore was a solid competitor with other area businesses. Josiah Moore married Sarah Montgomery at the home of her parents. Josiah and Sarah had four children: Herman, Katherine, Boyd, and Paul.
Both Josiah and Sarah were well known and well-liked in Villisca. On June 9, 1912, Katherine Moore (10) invited Ina (8) and Lena (12) Stillinger to spend the night at the Moore residence. That evening, the visiting girls and the Moore family attended the Presbyterian Church where they participated in the Children’s Day Program. The Moore’s were active members of the Presbyterian Church, and, in fact, Sarah Moore had coordinated the Children’s Day Program. After the program, the Moores and Stillinger sisters walked to the Moore’s home, arriving between 9:45 and 10:00 p.m.
The next morning, the Moore’s neighbor, Mary Peckham, noticed that the Moores hadn’t begun their usual morning chores outside the home. Further, she noticed that their house was unusually still. Between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m., she knocked on the door, but received no answer. Peckham let the Moore’s chickens out and then called Ross Moore, Josiah Moore’s brother. Like Peckham, Moore attempted to raise someone inside the home, knocking loudly and shouting. He tried to look through the windows, but found that the curtains were drawn. He withdrew his keys and entered the home. While Peckham stood on the porche, Moore went into the parlor and opened the guest bedroom door. There, he found Ina and Len Stillinger’s bodies on the bed. Moore immediately told Peckham to call Hank Horton, Villisca’s primary peace officer, who arrived shortly thereafter.
The entire Josiah Moore family had been murdered – all bludgeoned with an axe while they slept. In the upstairs master bedroom lay 43 year-old Josiah Moore, who had received more blows from the axe than any other victim, his face so cut that his eyes were missing, and 39 year-old Sarah Moore, both bludgeoned in the head, their bed linens stained heavily with blood. In the adjacent upstairs bedrooms were the Moore children, 11 year-old Herman, 10 year-old Katherine, 7 year-old Boyd, and 5 year-old Paul, who had also been bludgeoned in the head while they slept. The Stillinger sisters were also found dead, killed in the same manner as the family.
Investigators believe that little Lena Stillinger tried to fight back. She was found with lying crosswise on the bed, and a defensive wound was discovered on her arm. Furthermore and sickeningly, Lena was found with her nightgown pushed up to her waist and no undergarments on, leading to speculation that the killer(s) sexually molested her or attempted to do so. For the other victims, the attacks were so vicious and brutal that the ceilings of the parents’ and children’s’ bedrooms showed gouge marks apparently made by the upswing of the axe.
News of the gruesome event spread like wildfire. Hank Horton arrived quickly, soon followed by other officers. Law enforcement officials soon lost control of the crime scene. Prior to the Villisca National Guard cordoning off the home, it is believed that as many as a hundred morbidly interested gawkers traipsed through the home.
The murder weapon – an axe owned by Josiah Moore – was found in the guest bedroom, indicating that the Stillinger girls were the last to be killed. Though it was bloody, there were signs than an attempt had been made to wipe it off. All of the curtains in the home had been drawn, and two windows of the home that were without curtains had been covered with clothing.
All of the victims faces were covered with linens or clothing after they were killed. A pan of bloody water and a plate of uneaten food was also discovered on the kitchen table of the home.
Several investigative teams were immediately disbanded on horseback and by automobile, expecting to find the killer lurking in an alley, or barn, or shed, or outhouse in the vicinity. Each party returned empty handed, and no one in Villisca could imagine who would commit such a heinous act.
Over time, many possible suspects emerged, including Reverend George Kelly. Kelly was a traveling minister who happened to be teaching the Children’s Day services at the Presbyterian Church, organized by the late Katherine Moore and attended by the Moores on June 9, 2012. The small-framed, bird-like preacher had a reputation as being unbalanced and perhaps a pedophile. He left Villisca in the early morning hours of June 10 with his wife. Despite these oddities, these character traits were not what drew him to the investigation.
Rather, it was his obsession with the murders that caught the eye of law enforcement officials. In his obsession, Kelly penned a series of long, rambling letters to state and local government officials, private detectives and relatives of the victims.
Two weeks after the crime, Kelly returned to Villisca for another preaching visit. Kelly also paid a visit to the murder house. Within a month, officials began investigating claims that Kelly was seen peeking into a woman’s bedroom just days before the murder. Kelly had also been observed prowling the streets at night, and had made requests of women to pose nude for him on at least three occasions. Finally and likely most damningly, the week after the murder, he sent a bloody shirt to be laundered.
Kelly was taken into custody in April, 1917. After a long evening of interrogation, Kelly dictated a confession on August 31, 1917. In his confession, Kelly dictated that he had had trouble sleeping on the night of the murder and so went for a walk. He spied the Stillinger girls getting ready for bed through the window of the Moore’s home. He then went on to write that he heard the Lord’s voice commanding him to “suffer the children come unto me.”
At the time of the trial, a majority of Montgomery County citizens believed Kelly was being framed as part of a conspiracy by Frank Jones; it is believed that Jones tried to use his money and influence to pack the jury. During his life, Josiah Moore had taken away business from Frank Jones, resulting in this vendetta. As a result, Kelly was acquitted of all charges in November, 1917 after being deadlocked and dismissed on September 28, 1917.
Another murder suspect was Henry Lee Moore, no relation to the slain family. Henry Lee Moore was convicted of the murder of his mother and grandmother several months prior to the murders in Villisca, his weapon of choice being an axe. The similarities in Henry Lee Moore’s committed murders and the fashion in which the Moore family and the Stillinger girls were murdered were striking. However, none of these similarities lead to proven facts.
Another theory was that Senator Frank Jones hired William “Blackie” Mansfield to murder the Moore family. Mansfield was believed to be a serial killer; he murdered his wife, his infant child, his father- and mother-in-law with an axe two years after the Villisca murders. He was also suspected of committing axe murders in Paola, Kansas, four days before the Villisca crimes; and committed the double homicide of Jennie Peterson and Jennie Miller in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The locale for these murders was accessible by train; Villisca is a known railroad town. However, his alibi checked out and Mansfield was released after a special Grand Jury of Montgomery County.
According to an investigation by Detective James Newton Wilkerson, all of the murders were committed in precisely the same manner indicating that the same man committed the murders. In each murder, the victims were hacked to death with an axe and the mirrors in the homes were covered. A burning lamp with the chimney off was left at the foot of the bed and a basin in which the murderer washed was found in the kitchen. In all instances, the murderer avoided leaving fingerprints by wearing gloves, which Wilkerson believed was strong evidence that the man was Mansfield – his fingerprints were on file at the federal military prison at Leavenworth, Kansas.
A Grand Jury was opened to investigate Mansfield in 1916; Mansfield was arrested and brought to Montgomery County from Kansas City. Payroll records provided an alibi that placed Mansfield in Illinois at the time of the Villisca murders. He was release for lack of evidence.
In the end, the police and investigators ceased their search in 1917. The murders remain unsolved and the killer unpunished. The remains of those murdered lie in the Villisca Cemetery, and the “Murder House” continues to stand.
The “Murder House” was originally built in 1868. The Moore family purchased the home in 1903. After their deaths, the home went through a series of eight owners, before it was purchase by Mr. and Mrs. Darwin Linn in 1994.
The Linns restored the home to its original glory. In 1998, the “Murder House” was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Today, it is open for tours and overnight sleepovers. It has consistently rated as one of the top ten most haunted places in America.
Since the Villisca Axe Murders, the home has had a formidable reputation of paranormal happenings within. Previous tenants said they have spied a shadowy man with an axe standing at the food of their bed, images of bloody shoes, closet doors that open of their own accord, the sounds of children crying, and clothing taken from dressers and closets strewn about the room.
A man once reported that, while sharpening a knife, it suddenly turned around and stabbed him in the thumb. He went on to explain that it felt as though someone had gripped his wrist. One family reportedly ran screaming from the home in the middle of the night, never to return.
Other who have toured the “Murder House” report hearing the sound of phantom children’s voices when there are no children, whispers, banging sounds, falling lamps, and objects moving on their own. An evil presence is felt lingering in the attic, where it is thought the murderer hid while waiting for the family to fall asleep. One story alleges that an individual tried to enter the attic, but an unknown force prevented her from doing so.
A number of paranormal investigations have been hosted at the “Murder House.” These investigations have allegedly produced audio, video, and photographic proof of lingering spirits. When the house was investigated by Ghost Adventures, a recording of a man was captured saying, “I killed six kids.”
Past tenants and owners of the home argue that the home is not haunted; having lived there and not experienced any mysterious or strange occurrences. However, once again the home is open for tours and any overnight guests who wish to quell their curiosity.
Address: 102 North Chicago Street, Joliet, Illinois 60432
While the historic Rialto Square Theatre not only hosts hundreds of patrons and entertainment acts each year, it is also the home of several eternal guests.
In 1926, the Rialto Square Theatre began its life as a vaudeville movie palace; the six Rubens brothers formed the Royal Theatre Company and wanted to build a “palace for the people”, and so formed to guarantee the two million dollar project. C.W. and George L. Rapp, founders of the Chicago firm of Rapp & Rapp Architects in 1906, designed opulent theatre. The building boasts Italian Renaissance, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Rococo, Venetian, and Baroque architecture.
Kaiser-Ducett, the main contractor for the Rialto Square Theatre, was also the main contractor for many exhibits at Chicago’s 1933 World’s Fair. The firm was sold in 1968. The wonderful European architecture is the signature work of the late Eugene Romano, a Sicilian immigrant who settled in Park Ridge, Illinois. Other buildings bearing his work include the Board of Trade, Chicago Daily News Building, Soldier Field, Merchandise Mart, Blackstone Theatre, Wrigley Building and the Joliet Township High School Auditorium.
The day before the grand premier, the Joliet Sunday Herald News printed:
“When the doors of the new Rialto open tomorrow, Joliet will have one of the finest theaters in the United States, as experts say there is nothing to compare with it in any city of similar size, and it stands on even terms with the modern motion picture palaces of Chicago and New York.”
The Royal Theatre Company leased the operation of the theater to the Great States Theatre, Inc. The property remained under the control and direction of the Ruben brother.
After two years of construction, the theater opened on May 24, 1926. On its opening night, theatre patrons paid fifty cents to see the silent film, “Mademoiselle Modiste.” The interior of the Rialto was, indeed, a Palace for the People.
The esplanade, or inner lobby, is designed after the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles near Paris, France. The arch between the esplanade and rotunda area had been carefully copied from the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. In the center of is the head of the goddess Athena.
To the upper right of the arch is a symbolic bas-relief, in the form of a dragon, entitled “Labor Fighting the Evils of Today.” On the left side is “Man’s Labor,” showing the harvesting of wheat. The elegant rotunda is surrounded by 18 Corinthian-style columns, and surmounted by a dome very similar to the Pantheon in Rome. The suspended eight-arm crystal chandelier, named the “Duchess,” is a bronze giant of some 200 fixtures, is twenty feet long with 250 lights. It is one of the largest hand-cut crystal chandeliers in the country; the large prisms are of the Marie Therese cut which was popular during the Rococo period.
Draperies throughout the theater were of the early Dufour period. Encircling the rotunda in full view, is the Goddess of the Eastern Star. A glimpse into the theater itself reveals a view of the proscenium arch with the grand drape. Organ chambers are bordered by ornate balconies on either side, with pipes masked by glittering floral grills of Byzantine influence.
The theater was fully air-conditioned, and often displayed numerous sculptures, art, elaborate draperies, and furnishing. The theatre opened to grand applause and entertained the public with vaudeville, stage productions, musical and comedic entertainers, ballet and opera, and was a “movie house” during the Golden Age of films. Over the years, the Rialto has hosted such names as Andy William, Mitzi Gaynor, the Chicago Pops Orchestra, Victor Borge, Red Skelton, and Liberace to name a few of hundreds.
Time and weather took its toll on the grand theater. Dorothy Mavrich, president of the Cultural Arts Council of the Joliet Area, formerly known as the Rialto Square Arts Association, initiated a campaign to “Save the Rialto” for future generations as a performing arts center. The vaudeville movie palace became a “performing arts center” on November 27, 1981. However, restoration had begun in April of 1980, an effort that involved the entire community. Funds were sought from the city, state and federal officials.
The Will County Metropolitan Exposition and Auditorium Authority, a unit of local government, was created in 1978 to own and operate the Rialto Square Theatre complex and surrounding properties. The Rialto Square Theatre is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is considered one of the top ten theatres in the country. Today, it hosts the Rialto School of the Arts in addition to numerous events and meetings as a rental space. The Rialto Square Theatre Foundation is a non-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization and accepts donative support.
The Jewel of Joliet not only hosts hundreds of customers, it is also home to a few resident ghosts. The most often sighted is a nameless, spectral woman. She is thought to have been an actress who performed at the theatre many years ago. Those who have seen her have described her as being in her twenties, very pretty, sometimes surrounded by hazy light, and thought to have been a well-known performer of her time. She has been reported floating around the theatre seen by members of staff, patrons, and workmen, becoming particularly active during the period of time that the Rialto was closed to the public. Many believe that she loved performing that she is simply not ready to move on from this world.
Two more spirits, a male and female, are sometimes seen in the auditorium’s balcony. Legend states that the pair fell to their deaths from the balcony. Like many other ghosts who have died tragic deaths, they just won’t move on.
Other reports include patches of icy coldness within the theatre, strange noises, objects that seem to move of their own accord, and the unexplained feelings of being “jabbed” by an invisible, phantom finger.