Like many historic cities, and especially one that was
called home to Abraham Lincoln for years,
continues to play host to a number of unearthly spirits.
The Ghost of Abraham Lincoln
While there are
a number of spirits who are said to haunt this historic town, the most
famous is that of Abraham Lincoln himself. According to over a
century of legends, Abraham Lincoln continues to lurk around his tomb,
now a state historic site in
the former president have been told almost since the day his body
Springfield in on May 3,
1865. After lying in state at the capitol for a night, the body was
placed in a receiving vault at Oak Ridge Cemetery.
In December Lincoln’s remains were
removed to a temporary vault not far from a new proposed memorial
site. In 1871, three years after laborers had begun constructing the
permanent tomb, the body of Lincoln and those of the three youngest of
his sons were placed in crypts in the unfinished structure.
construction of the permanent tomb lasted for years and it was at this
time that the first sightings of a spectral Abraham Lincoln were
reported as he wondered near the crypt. Others would report
hearing the sounds of crying and footsteps near the site.
In 1874, upon
completion of the memorial, Lincoln's remains were interred in a
marble sarcophagus in the center of a chamber known as the
"catacombs," or burial room. In 1876, however, after several Chicago
criminals broke into the tomb, intending to kidnap the corpse and hold
it for ransom. However, the attempt failed as one of the men in
the gang was a spy for the Secret Service.
Over the years, the
legends have persisted as tourists and staff members report
uncomfortable feelings, phantom footsteps, whispers, muffled voices,
and weeping. Along with our former president, Oakridge Cemetery
also has reports that the apparitions of a small boy and a mysterious
woman in a flowing red cape have been seen on the property.
Lincoln has also been
reported to have been seen walking the streets surrounding
original courthouse, as well as the hallways of his former home. Others
have reported seeing the ghost of Mary Lincoln at their old home located
413 South Eighth Street. Having a long-standing reputation as being haunted, reports range from
apparitions of a woman to toys moving of their own accord. Most
people believe that the house is haunted by Mary. Maintained by the
national Park Service today, staff deny any reports of paranormal
activity. Today the Lincoln home is the centerpiece of
the Lincoln Home National
Historic Site. Restored to its 1860s appearance, it stands in the
midst of a four block historic neighborhood which the National Park
Service also restored.
The most interesting haunting
surrounding Lincoln is the phantom funeral train. Said to be seen
during the month of April on the anniversary of Lincoln’s death, the
ghostly train is said to ride those very same tracks that bore his body to
Springfield in 1865. Reports indicate that this ghostly funeral procession is actually two
trains, with the first steam engine pulling several cars draped in black,
adorned with black streamers, and playing the sounds of mournful music. The second train is said to pull a flatcar that carries Lincoln’s coffin. Unfortunately, the train is said to never reach its final destination.
Designed and constructed by renowned
architect, Frank Lloyd Wright in 1902, this house is reported to still
play host to its original owner. Designed for
Springfield socialite, Susan
Lawrence Dana, she was said to have thrown lavish parties in her home as
well as being a major contributor and volunteer to charitable causes in
Shortly after the home was finished,
several family deaths caused Dana to turn to metaphysical and mystical
religious groups for comfort. Before long, she became one of the
city’s leaders in the Spiritualist movement that swept across American
around the turn of the century. Her parties took a different turn
with her involvement in the movement and soon her home became a
Spiritualist center where séances were common and large parties of
Finally, when a
cousin who had lived with her for many years died, Susan was left alone in
her Wright-designed house. A short time later, about 1928, Susan moved to
more modest, less costly quarters. Declared incompetent by the
courts in 1942, she was admitted to a local hospital, where she died in
1946. Her personal effects were inventoried in 1942 and auctioned at a
public sale in July 1943. Her Frank Lloyd Wright House was sold the
Maintained today by the State of
Illinois, management denies any
paranormal activity. However, there have been dozens of reports by
other staff and visitors of object which move of their own accord and the
sounds of unseen people speaking in different parts of the house.
The Dana House
is located at 301 East Lawrence in
including Lincoln, have been received here. Three levels are open to the
public including four formal parlors; a state dining room; ballroom; four
bedrooms, including the Lincoln bedroom; and a library handcrafted from
Native American Black Walnut.
Built in 1855, this is the third
oldest continuously occupied Governor’s Mansion in the country, having
served as the official
and their families since Governor Joel Matteson first took up residence. Over the years, the magnificent home has been
witness to many of the major events in the state’s history, none so trying
perhaps as the Civil War.
During the Civil War, the mansion was
called home to Governor Richard Yates and his family. Today, the
mansion is said to continue to play host to Yates’ wife, Catherine. Mrs.
Yates makes allegedly makes her presence known in a variety of ways,
including tampering with electronics and smoke alarms. The upstairs
bedroom where her portrait hangs is said to be the most active room in the
house. On one occasion Mrs. Yates was credited with trapping an
Illinois State Trooper in an
elevator for four hours.
Illinois Executive Mansion is
open to the public during certain hours and days of the week. Three
levels can be viewed which include four formal parlors, a state dining
room, ballroom, the library, and four bedrooms, including the Lincoln
bedroom. The mansion is located at 5th and Jackson.
Springfield Theatre Center
Built in 1951, the Springfield Theatre
Center hosted performances at 101 East Lawrence through 2004 when they
relocated to the Hoogland Center for the Arts in downtown Springfield. In
addition to numerous wonderful performances throughout the years, the
place is said to have been haunted for most of its existence.
On May 13, 1955, an actor Named Joe Neville
left the theater after a dress rehearsal then committed suicide once he
returned home. Apparently, during an audit at the company where he worked,
it was found that substantial funds had been misappropriated and a fellow
employee fingered Joe.
Said to have been an eccentric and
unfriendly fellow, he loved the theater and at the time he killed himself,
he was scheduled to play his first lead role. After his death, the
theater group simply replaced him and the show went on.
But, apparently, that wasn’t the end of
Joe. Returning to the theater after his death, his disposition
evidently was as nasty as ever. Almost immediately strange and
inexplicable events began to occur. While some of these are
seemingly harmless, such as lights turning on and off on their own, doors
opened by unseen hands, and several who have reportedly seen Joe’s filmy
apparition; other antics of Joe’s are down right dangerous. On one
occasion when two men were building a set, one of the men voiced his
skepticism about the ghost. The next thing they knew, the saw started up
by itself, several sheets of plywood fell to the floor, and a standing
ladder was seemingly pushed over by unseen hands.
The tampering with stage sets is the most
often occurrence, but other smaller happenings occur such as items moving
of their own accord, missing costumes, and the permeating smell of Noxzema
wafting through the air, despite the fact that the cream was long ago
banned in the theater. On one occasion a girl reported having her hand
held by an invisible escort while she was crossing a room.
The Springfield Theatre
Center continues performances at their new home in the Hoogland Center for
the Arts after leaving the building on East Lawrence in 2004.
Updated January 2012
- Home of Honest Abe