Troy Taylor, renowned author and ghost hunter, and creater of American Hauntings will be releasing a new book with co-author Rene Kruse titled And Hell Followed With It…The History & Hauntings of American Disasters in May! Troy Taylor has written over 70 books on the paranormal, created and hosts numerous haunting tours, is the planner for the annual Haunted America Conference in Decatur, IL, and holds much resect in the paranormal community. Plus, I’ve met the guy and he’s truly a down-to-earth, friendly individual who truly loves what he does in life. I met him during the conference last year and after heading back to our hotel, me and a friend headed down to the bar where he and his group came in moments after. He recognized us and invited us to join his group table across the way to enjoy a few beers. So I’m definately a fan…..sorry, got off track. No specific release date has been set for this book yet, but as with his other books in the past, Troy usually has a book signing somewhere in Illinois when he debuts a new book. When a date and further information becomes available, I’ll let you know! If you are interested in purchasing any of Troy’s other books, they are available to purchase at http://www.prairieghosts.com/whitechapel.html. Enjoy! I bought the Haunted Alton one for a trip down there this summer. 🙂
It has had many names over the past 115 years….Peoria State Hospital, Bartonville State Hospital, Illinois General Asylum for the Insane, and Illinois Asylum for the Incurably Insane . It was first built in 1895 in Bartonville, IL but was never used until 1902 when it was taken over by Dr. George Zeller who operated it as a hospital facility for the mentally ill. Patients from all over who were deemed “incurably insane” were tranferred to the Bartonville Hospital under the care of Dr. Zeller whose new approach to treatment was unheard of in those times. He focused on a patient’s strength and worked toward their improvement and eventual discharge from the hospital. He wanted to change the public’s skewed and negative perception of “mentally ill.” At its peak, the hospital housed 2800 patients and had over 30 buildings . It operated until 1972 when it closed and never reopened. It is currently owned by the non-profit group “Save the Bowen, Inc.” who are trying to restore it.
The Peoria State Hospital isn’t without its ghost stories, since many patients ended up spending their life and dying in the hospital and many died during the influenza outbreak. The hospital’s most famous ghost was documented by Dr. Zeller himself. A patient who never uttered a word was tranferred to Bartonville. The only information the doctors had was that he used to be a bookbinder, so he was known throughout the hospital as “Old Book.” He was beloved by the hospital and staff due to his gentle nature and hard work. He had the job of digging graves for the deceased patients and was known to sit by a particular elm tree after every memorial service and cry. When “Old Book” died, the whole hospital came to his memorial service. When they heard sobbing, over 200 witnesses saw the ghost of “Old Book” crying under his elm tree. Dr. Zeller wrote in his journal that so many saw the apparation that they had to open the casket to be assured that “Old Book” was in there. Since then, numerous reports of apparitions of patients and people in old nurse’s uniforms have been seen.
For a short time, tours were offered to the public to raise money for its restoration (a surprising opportunity as the property had been strictly off limits since it closed). I received this news and immediately went down for a tour, which I loved! Much of the building was in ruin but I loved it because it was more real, untouched by modern devices….a lot of the building didn’t even have electricity. You brought your flashlight, your camera, and your courage. Unfortunately, the building had fallen victim to vandalism and is littered with graffitti and broken windows (a word of warning to the would-be trepassers….the area is heavily monitored by area police). When I last checked the “Save the Bowen” website (http://peoria-asylum.com), they had suspended all tours and are currently battling the local government administration. I hope they can resolve their issues and continue tours to save and restore this vital piece of Illinois history. Below I posted some pictures from the tour I took in 2008 with my friend Emily.
Tours might be a great choice for visiting some more popular haunting locations but if you are looking to take your ghost hunting skills further, an overnight ghost hunt would be perfect step up. American Haunting Tours sponsor overnight ghost hunting opportunities all over the state of Illinois and across the United States. I have listed the available overnight ghost hunts for April and May. These ghost hunts as of today are still available to book a reservation, but if you are interested, book now at www.bumpinthenight.net because many locations get sold out fast! These overnight ghost hunts typically give you access to a location from 7 or 8pm at night until anywhere between 2 and 6am. All overnight ghost hunts require you to bring your own flashlight, snacks, and drinks and have waivers and age restrictions. Rarely do they provide lodging, so if you are traveling far, be sure to make other lodging arrangement at a local hotel.
APRIL OVERNIGHT GHOST HUNTS:
April 17th — James Eldred House — Eldred, IL : This house has been standing since the 1820’s and at least four deaths have taken place in the house, including a rumored Native American, that has sparked stories and witness accounts of ghostly activity. This private ghost hunt includes a late night seance and ghost tour of other nearby locations. $40/per person and no one under 18 allowed.
MAY OVERNIGHT GHOST HUNTS
May 15 — Great River Road Opry — Winchester, IL: This location was first used as an airplane hanger in 1945 and was later turned into a failed seeding business, resulting in the suicide of an employee. It was abandoned for a decade before being turned into an opry house and since that time has gained a reputation for being haunted. This overnight ghost hunt also includes a late night seance. $35/per person
Ryan Buell from the popular A&E television show “Paranormal State” will be speaking at Waubonsee College in Sugar Grove, IL on Saturday, April 24th with a segment appropriately titled “An Evening with Paranormal State’s Ryan Buell.” Tickets are $28 a person (plus a surcharge) and the event starts at 10pm. Ryan started the Paranormal Research Society in 2001 when he was attending Penn State University and eventually signed a deal with A&E to film their cases and are currently filming their 5th season. If you are a fan of the show, here’s an opportunity to meet the main man! You can purchase tickets at www.waubonseetickets.com.
Thanks for stopping by the Illinois Paranormal Guide! I hope this will help you find new opportunities to experience and learn more about the paranormal happenings in the Land of Lincoln with some great tours and haunted sites. I couldn’t begin this blog without referencing my first and most memorable tour — the Chicago Ghost Tour. It stands as the original haunting tour of Chicago and was started by Ursula Bielski, a prevelant person in the paranormal community. Ken Berg was also a part of this tour (and was our tour guide when I went) but later started his own set of tours with Troy Taylor and Adam Selzer called Weird Chicago. Check them out here at www.weirdchicago.com. They offer such tours as “Devil in the White City” tour, serial killer tour, Al Capone tour, and much more!
The Ghost Tours of Chicago is a tour not only for paranormal fans but also history buffs and Chicago lovers. At $28 per person for a bus and walking tour that lasts about 3 hours. They like to change up the sites so no one knows exactly where they are headed but people can expect to visit some famous historical and haunting sites including the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre site, Eastboard disaster site, Hull House and the Garden of Evil, and the Iroquois theatre site haunting. The best part about this tour? Well, besides riding around Chicago in a black bus that looks like a school bus gone rogue. It’s very hands on. They encourage you to get off the bus and explore the site and take as many pictures and video as you’d like so it’s not as restricted as some tours can be. A big plus! Most tours run Friday – Sunday. More information can be found at www.chicagohauntings.com. Below are some pictures from my Chicago Haunted Tour that I took a few years ago.
If you are looking to get your feet wet in the paranormal community, this tour will get you started on the many historical tragedies and haunts of the Chicago area. You can book your reservation for an upcoming tour online at their site. As you may notice, many of their tours (especially their specialty tours) get sold out quick so if you’re interested book soon!