The Phoenix

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Spooky Story Two: Haunted Illinois College

Jacksonville, IL is a really nice smaller town about two hours north of St. Louis. It's a great place, and the blending of the modern world with the historic buildings makes for an interesting visit. Jacksonville is also home to Illinois College, founded in 1823. The college has had many incredible visitors and speakers including Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Harriet Beecher Stowe. The school was an important site for the Abolitionist Movement, and many tunnels from the Underground Railroad can be found beneath the campus grounds.

With all of this rich history, you know this place has to be haunted

Beecher Hall was built in 1829. This two-level building is now used as a meeting hall for two fraternities - Sigma Pi and Phi Alpha. There's been tons of reports of footsteps that can be distinctly heard in one room, always coming from another. If somebody follows the sound, then the footsteps will suddenly be heard in the other room instead. Decades ago, this was a medical building and cadavers were secretly stored on the upper floor. Some believe that this may explain the ghostly activity.

The med students here were not supposed to have the cadavers, but they stole them from local hospitals and cemeteries for their studies. They hid the corpses in the attic until the stench of decaying flesh alerted college officials to their presence.

Other legends claim that the ghost here is that of Williams Jenning Bryan, who has returned to haunt his frat house. He was a member of Sigma Pi and was often in the building during his years at Illinois College. There are others who say that it might be Abraham Lincoln’s ghost, since he had stayed there during his visits.

The David A. Smith House was built in 1854 and is home to three sororities. There are several different stories regarding the young daughter, Effie Smith, and her suicide. Whatever the varying circumstances, the one common denominator is that she jumped out a window from the attic. To this day, they say if you move Ellie's rocking chair away from its spot near that window and leave the room, the chair will somehow return to its proper spot.

Perhaps the most compelling haunting is at Ellis Hall, built in 1957. The urban legend was that some girl didn't get a bid from a sorority and she hung herself in Room 303. In that room and those dorms surrounding it, doors will open and shut on their own, radios will turn on and off by themselves, and windows will also open and close.

After some digging, the truth is that no girl killed herself there. However, a young lady named Gail did die in Room 303. She was already terminally ill while attending college, and passed of natural causes in bed. In fact, a plaque in her memory is still on the door of room 303.

Students living in or near the room say that doors often do open and close on their own and they are always missing stuff. If they ask Gail to return the missing item, it will sure enough be found shortly thereafter.

One former resident that lived in the room directly below room 303 said that she often heard knocking sounds from the other side of the wall. The funny thing is, it's an outer wall and there aren't any trees or object even close to it.

Another former student said:

"I attended this college and stayed in the dorm where this girl died (My girlfriend at the time was a student and it was in her dorm). My former girlfriend woke up to find a female ghost floating above her over the bed. The radio would often come on by itself, but it would always play music from the 70s or 80s even though we never left it on any stations that would play music from that time. We were also awakened by her hair dryer turning on by itself."

Illinois College is absolutely full of all kinds of reports - from Civil War soldier ghost sightings to objects floating around. Sturtevant Hall, Crampton Hall, the McGaw building, Rammelkamp Chapel, and the Fayerweather House all have just tons and tons of stories.

In fact at the Fayerweather House, the attic was converted into a series of dorm rooms, but they are no longer used. No one would stay there, as too many students complained of freaky things happening too often. Reports of footsteps and scratching on the walls at night, doors slamming, and even objects flying around the rooms was enough for the adminstration to close the newly renovated doorms for good.

Whether or not you believe that the campus of Illinois College is haunted, you can't so easily dismiss the thousands of reports from students and faculty alike - and I'm sure it's a repuation the administration doesn't want to advertise.

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Blogger Perplexio said...

There are rumors that some of the buildings at my alma mater (Albion College) are haunted. The college was founded in 1835 as a women's seminary (the original school colors were pink and green, thank God they were changed to Purple and Gold in the early 20th century).

At least 3 of the buildings: The Kellogg Center (formerly South Hall), Robinson Hall, and Vulgamore Hall (formerly North Hall) are over 100 years old. There's also an old observatory that's on the Michigan register of historical sites... Any one of those buildings could very well be haunted. Prior to being gutted from the inside and renovated both the Kellogg Center (when it was still Dickie Hall) and Robinson Hall were known for having mysterious/unexplained noises. And generally upperclassmen I talked to when in attendance there mentioned that prior to the building renovations they felt rather unsettled when taking classes in those buildings.

The only specific haunting tale I heard was that prior to renovation on the top floor of Robinson Hall an apparition of a flame would appear in mid-air. The story goes that it's the ghost of a frat boy doing that old trick of lighting one's own farts. Not really plausible, imho, but quite amusing nonetheless.

10/16/2007 4:40 PM  
Blogger Nessa said...

I have a ghost in my kitchen. He's very benign.

10/16/2007 6:04 PM  
Blogger stephanie said...

I always wonder if people really see and hear ghosts, or if they are just so hyped up about the idea of a ghost story that their mind doesn't play tricks on them.

10/16/2007 6:14 PM  
Blogger Jamie Dawn said...

The college ought to use this as a promo tool.
They could put out some great PR to try and attract young people who are eager for adventure.
It sounds like a creepy college, and I sure as heck would NOT want to stay in Room 303!!!

Thanks for your virtual $100 donation. It will be split between two great virtual causes. $50 is for a virtual missionary in Afghanistan, and the other $50 is to help build a virtual orphanage in Haiti.
Bless you, my son.

10/16/2007 11:13 PM  
Blogger Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

You know, I LOVE to read this stuff and watch "Hauntings" on TV...but if anything like that would happen to me? Door closing of their own accord, seeing ghosts, etc....I would freak friggin' OUT!!! :)

10/17/2007 6:47 AM  
Blogger angel, jr. said...

If I heard or saw anything like this, I would be the first to run. I would be out of there on the first knocking sound.

10/17/2007 9:08 AM  
Blogger The Egg said...

I had poltergeist activity in my old house. Until then I didn't believe in ghosts. But when the tv blew up and intercom turned on its own, I took off to my brother's room. I also noticed other strange happenings. Perhaps we can discuss this in private. It's a rather sensitive topic. There's another realm that we have no clue about. Now how the heck will I sleep in the attic tonight?

10/17/2007 12:48 PM  
Blogger Big Pissy said...

How on earth does that college get anyone to live in that dorm room (303)?

Or do they?

Maybe it's used as a closet now. It should be.....

10/17/2007 3:13 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

We used to hang out at my buddy's grandfather's house all the time. It was a place of many mysterious and unexplained goings on. Although everyone that visited there had their own stories to tell, my buddies' wife had the most chilling experience that had them sleeping elsewhere until they found a home of their own.
A few years later some vandals, upon hearing of the spooky happenings through a newspaper featuring stories such as what you are doing now for halloween, lit the old abandoned house on fire.
Later, that Spring, one of them drowned.
My buddy is convinced that the two are related.

10/17/2007 4:30 PM  
Blogger David Amulet said...

Great scary stories! (I'm catching up on the last two posts.)

Not to self: Avoid Room 303. Anywhere. Anytime.

Just being safe.


10/17/2007 4:51 PM  
Blogger Mr. Shife said...

Man these are great stories. Even better because I know where these places are. I went to Blackburn College in Carlinville for a semester and I have been to Jacksonville a few times.

10/17/2007 8:24 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

Love this time of the year.

It's freakin' scary!!

10/17/2007 9:43 PM  
Blogger Sassy Blondie said...

How much do I love coming over here and reading this stuff? Too much! Thanks for making things so interesting, Phoenix! I actually retold some of the stuff you've posted in the past and so now people think I know a lot about science and stuff. :)

10/19/2007 1:38 PM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

Perplexio, Ghost of a kid lighting his own farts? Now I've heard everything.

Nessa, are you serious? Can you write about it so I can post it here??? E-mail it to me at

stephanie, I think moonshine has played a part too. Honestly, I bet a whole lot of both is involved with sightings.

JD, Or maybe they could begin a Paranormal/Ghost Hunting program there. I hope my virtual donation helps out your virtual churcy, virtually.

Stacy, It is very freaky. I have on video tape, the sound of a door in my house slamming shut on it's own. No one else was home, and no windows were open (it was December). It freaked me out.

angel, I know you - and that's a very fair and honest assessment.

the egg, You sleep in the attic? Ouch. Why are basements and attics centers of paranormal activity???

big pissy, I bet many people just don't believe in that kind of stuff...until they stay in room 303.

10/19/2007 2:14 PM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

tim, It's probably just coincidence. If something happened to BOTH guys, then maybe I'd think there's more to it.

david, Or avoid room 666 and room 13. Why? Just superstition.

mr. shife, That's right, I forgot you've lived in this general area before. Carlinville? That's another really nice, quaint town.

Karen, I'm a big fan of Halloween scary stories too.

Sassy, Thanks for inflating my ego!

10/19/2007 2:18 PM  
Blogger Phats said...

These are interesting stories you provide us with especially this one being a teacher and all and reading about the underground railroad connection, but I just don't believe in Ghosts.

10/19/2007 4:44 PM  
Blogger Jay said...

When I was little I lived in a lovely haunted house, so now I'm attracted to those ghostly spaces.

10/19/2007 5:54 PM  
Blogger Etchen said...

Yeah! Another geat spooky post! I wish I ahd gone to school there.

10/20/2007 11:15 AM  
Blogger delt2009 said...

I actually go to this school and have had a couple experiences. When I was in my friends room at Fayerweather we had the windows wide open then suddenly we were talking about ghosts and while no one was around the windows they slammed down by themselves. My friends that used to live in that room said that she was always missing things but then later turned up in plain site.

Another experience that I had was the story about Effie and her chair upstairs in Smith House. My friends and I moved it and the next time we came back it was in that original place plus sometimes when you go up there you get this eerie feeling. Also the Gamma Delta room on first floor has 2 big mirrors at both ends of the room and even though I have not seen anything myself a few friends of mine have seen someone in the reflection of the mirrors out of the corner of their eyes and when they look back it's gone. Also another thing about Smith House, some girls have actually seen a ghost in the main lobby of the house.

Sometimes it can freak you out being at the school but when you figure on how old it's been there's gotta be some ghosts around. You hardly see anyone walking around by themselves in Smith House or any of the older buildings

10/21/2007 2:39 AM  
Blogger delt2009 said...

p.s. and as far as the Ellis room...I live in that building and I do believe there are people that actually still live in there. I haven't heard anything about that since I've been there but who knows with halloween coming up

10/21/2007 2:42 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

foen, were you just never a college student, I still see purple elephants sometimes and think I can understand Bob Dylan when he speaks, my guess is it's not the spooks at work there but the gin :)

but the Marfa Lights are real! (see Wikipedia) Jim Fupdwnw

10/22/2007 1:12 AM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

jay, You have any cool stories about living in your haunted house?

etchen, Would you have majored in boo-ology? OK, that was lame.

delt, Thanks so much for your information. Very cool!

jim, Or moonshine.

10/22/2007 9:11 AM  
Blogger ozymandiaz said...

You want to know what's haunted?
My ass.
Last night, weird sounds and scary smells came out.
Im not kidding
ya think an exorcism would help?

10/22/2007 12:50 PM  
Anonymous the weirdgirl said...

I would have a really hard time going to school at a place with hauntings. I'm not scared of ghosts, per se, but I don't go looking for them either. Every time I've had a spooky encounter it's been accidental!

10/22/2007 4:51 PM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

ozy, You need an exorcism ritual called Maximus Beanois

WG, Accidental? Do tell!

10/22/2007 10:29 PM  
Anonymous SigPhip05 said...

I went to Illinois College and 2 of my best friends lived in 303. They had weird things happen all the time. Mostly things turning on in the middle of the night. I lived above them and had things disappear and then I asked for it back and it returned. In Smith House basement some pretty freaky things have happened when I was down there.

10/23/2007 9:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10/25/2007 8:29 PM  

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