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Winnebago County, Illinois

Odd Winnebago

Ghosts and Hauntings

A Haunting in Rolling Green, 1982 --Rockford Register Star



We have received several reports of reports of the operations of the South Rockford ghost, but never anything that was strictly authentic until today. The following report can be relied upon as strictly true:

About three o’clock yesterday morning a young man was passing along Kent street when his attention was arrested by something in the gateway leading to the residence of Mr. Tinker. He had heard of the ghost and had prepared for him to the extent of a revolver with which he proposed to defend himself against anybody or anything. The apparition he describes as about the height of a large man, covered with a white sheet and some kind of apparatus to raise his shoulders, giving him the appearance of a genuine headless man. Such an unexpected appearance made our friend’s heart go pit-a-pat, and his hair to gradually straighten; but boldy facing the music he inquired in the words of Rhoderich Dhu:

“your name and purpose, Saxon. Stand!”

Receiving no reply, and the thing gradually approaching him he drew his trusty revolver and said “Halt!” The ghost still nearing him, he said, “One more step and I will fire!” The one more was taken, and firing high the report rang out on the crisp morning air. The ghost, thinking it rather warm, turned to fly and in turning exposed a pair of very solid and unchastely understandings, and rapidly fled towards Kent’s creek followed by another bullet, which unfortunately failed of its mark. Our informant states that he could easily have killed the fellow, but never having killed a man, he didn’t want to begin At the time he fired the first shot he was within twenty feet of him. It is to be hoped that this foolishness will soon be put a stop to by the death of the ghost

--Rockford Daily Register, Thurday, April 3, 1873

South Side People Wondering Whether a Dwelling is Haunted of What--Strange Nocturnal Noises

On the corner of South Main and Knowlton streets stand a large, two-story frame dwelling house, that has stood there and been a landmark for years. People have lived there awhile, and then moved out again, feigning one excuse, and others some other kind, to suit their fancy or purpose. About three months ago a family came here from Kansas, entire strangers in the city, and rented this house. They had scarcely got settled before they began to be awakened nights by the slamming or squeaking of doors or the raising of windows. Oftentimes footsteps were distinctly heard, but upon getting up and looking around everything would be quiet, doors and window screens closed, and no living thing visible. These noises became so frequent and their night rest so much disturbed, that the poor man, who is a carpenter, was obliged to lay off for two days last week, becoming wholly unfit for work. What it is, no one can tell, but certainly there is some omen of bad luck or misfortune to all those who have lived there, and no small amount of comments and conjecture have been speculated upon to unravel the mystery surrounding it.

--Daily Gazette, Tuesday Evening, August 31, 1886


How a Winnebago County Farmer Imagined He Had Been Pounded and Beaten By a Ghost--An Actual Fact

A Farmer named Breden married a widow a short time ago. Now his wife remembered her first husband, which many say is not unusual, but what was not so wise, the second husband was given the benefit of these remembrances. The straw which finally spoiled the farmers’ good temper, was the determination of his wife to have a tombstone placed over the grave of her first husband.

Notwithstanding the man’s ebullitions of temper the headstone was purchased, he stated, with his own money, and erect over the grave. It brooded upon the mind of the farmer, and he jealously imagined his wife thought more of the memory of her dead husband than of the presence of her living one.

He did not express his thoughts at home, however, but one day when in town he drank largely of the liquid which intoxicates. The first husband come to his mind and that tombstone. The more the man thought about it the more it annoyed him. He determined to get rid of it, and getting a hammer, Reardon repaired to the county cemetery, where the first husband lay buried. He found the grave and the brand-new headstone. A few vigorous blows and the shapely marble was a mass of fragments. The farmer then went home glorying in its destruction. He was thoroughly be muddled with liquor drank by the time home was reached, so that after the story of his deed was told, the barn was sought as a place to sleep off his potations. The desecration of her first husband’s grave made the wife mad, and calling her boys, who are stalwart lads, she told them what their step-father had done to their father’s tombstone. The boys were incensed and went to the barn to find their step-father asleep. They shook him until they thought he was awake and then gave him a vigorous thrashing. When done they left him in the barn.

The liquor still held the man in its power and he dozed back into a troubled slumber. When he awoke and sought the yard, a curious state of mind possessed him. The Marks of the thrashing the boys had given him were numerous upon his person, and he thus explained them: While sleeping in the barn, Breden state the ghost of his wife’s first husband appeared to him and gave him a terrible beating in return for his smashing the dead man’s headstone. It is impossible to disabuse the man of this belief, for he is certain the marks upon his face and body were administered by a ghost. He wonders why he did not remember Sam Weller’s advice to “Beware of widows.”

--from Daily Gazette, Monday Evening, May 9, 1897





Have you seen the ghost?

No? Well, then, hang around Haskell park some night at the ghostly hour and, according to persistent report, you will see it. It's no fake, either. Several people have been against it and you couldn't hire them to go through the park after dark now for all the wealth of J. Pierpont Morgan.

It has been a long, long time since a ghost has made any part of Rockford his stamping ground, but according to reliable testimony, one has arrived and is making itself conspicuous. This particular ghost differed from the others in not selecting some deserted building or ghostly nook from which to spring upon belated travelers. Instead, it has picked Haskell park, the retreat of lovers and play--ground of the children, in which to do its nocturnal wandering.

The ghost was first seen one night the early park of the week. The individual who was greeted by it was nearly paralyzed with fright. He says the shadowy form seemed to come from the fountain, but he was too frightened to think much about it. The spectral thing extended a hand, whereat the terrified citizen gave a screecj amd fled across the greensward faster than Outfielder Kruger of the Rockford team goes after a fly ball. He says he didn't stop running until he reached his own front door.

Friends of the man unloaded a lot of josh talk on him when he told of his experience the next day, but he sticks to the tale and goes home by another route now. Since the other people claim to have seen the ghost, and while they assert they are not afraid, it is noticed that they, too, avoid the park if the hour is late.

The common story is that the ghost arises from the fountain, hovers over the venter walk for a minute and then calmly fades away. It never fails to extend its hand as if for a friendly shake.

It is hard on the spooners who occupy the benches that a ghost should invade their sacred precints. Whether the ghost will succeed in driving them away remains to be seen. No one pretends to say what particular person this ghost memorialized. The fact remains that the ghost is hanging around there, and the people who have seen it wish they hadn't.

--Rockford Morning Star, June 13, 1902


Officer Phil Quinn searched the Emmanuel Episcopal church Thursday night for some mysterious personage who has often lighted the lamps in the structure after everyone else was gone. He was unable to locate even a suspicious sign of the place being frequented. In police circles the question is being asked, "is it a ghost?"

--Rockford Daily Register-Gazette, February 6, 1903

Peeved Ghost Did Not Like To Be Kidded

“Twas just before the witching hour. In the darkened parlor of the Carl McClure residence south of Pecatonica Wednesday night friends of Nina McClure who had gathered to celebrate her return from Kentucky were trying to play ghostly tricks. Touching their fingers on the organ stool, they waited for it to be moved by spirits.

There was a crash.

Down sank the entire floor into the cellar. Scared eyes gleamed in the darkness. Every little crackling noise seemed sinister. Every skinned elbow and sore shin seemed a wound inflicted by malignant ghostly hands.

None of the thirty guests who dropped into the cellar was seriously injured. The greatest damage was done by the falling of a davenport on the McClure preserve shelves, spilling precious fruits over the basement debris.

--Rockford Republic, Friday Evening, August 20, 1920


The Murder and the Ghost of August Valentine




Saturday night about 7 o'clock a man nearly 50 years of age was waylaid on the East Side in the darkness and storm and pounded and choked until he died from his injuries. Three young men were the cowardly assailants, and so effectually did they do in the pounding that their victim died early this morning.

Gust Valentine lives at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Fourth Street. Saturday night while on his way home he stepped into Gearhart's saloon on East State Street for a glass of beer. He also took some free lunch, and while eating fried liver and rye bread a young man named David Craigan and two companions named John Lavin and John Dixon, became amused at his lively work at the lunch counter and laughed at the man. He says they poked fun at him, but they disclaim this and say the the old man kicked at them without provocation. Lunch and drinkables having been taken, Gust left the saloon and was followed by the three men.


they kept at his rear. Down Kishwaukee Street the laboring man made his way headed for his home. At the corner of Second Avenue the three men screwed up courage enough to jump upon him and administered a terrible beating and powerful choking. The grip fastened upon his throat by one of the villians was so great the cartilagenous substances of the thorax were crushed. Thus throttled, the inhuman assailants were sage in beating and kicking him to their hearts' content. Blows upon the head left Valentine bruised and sore, while kicks with heavy boots in the check and back inflicted great internal injuries.


the old man was left lying in the road while the trio of thugs fled before the approach of parties whose attention had been attracted by the noise of the fight. He was taken home and physicians summoned, while the police were notified of what had happened. The doctors found the the neck of the injured man was swelling badly, and at first it was thought that an artery had been ruptured by the injuries. Yesterday the neck was swollen out size of a man's fist, and the chest caused great pain to the prostrate man. His physicians, Drs. Smith and Kimball, immediately expressed great fears for his recovery.

In the meantime the police had captured one of the guilty men. By inquiries at Gearhardt's saloon the names of the three men were ascertained as above given. Ove of them was Dave Craigan, a young man about 20 years old. He is a brother of Pat Craigan the saloon keeper, and has recenty returned from Texas, where he learned to be tough. He was arrested about 10 o'clock Saturday night by Officer McEvoy and placed in the city jail. Yesterday, upon learning that the case was likely to prove of murder State's Attorney Works was notified and at 12 o'clock he was driven to the home of the injured man, together with young Craigan, who was in charge of a policeman. Mr. Valentine immediately identified the prisoner as one of his assailants. He could talk pretty freely and the state's attorney heard his statement of the assault and events that led to it.

Young Craigan was transferred from the city


and there he was seen by a REGISTER reporter just as he was taking his Sabbath dinner. He acted very cool and indifferent and seemed to care more for his dinner than his crime. He is a short chap with a decidedly hard-looking face. He did not deny that he struck the old man but claimed that he did not laugh at him in the saloon and that he kicked at himself and his friends. "They got it into him to get even with him." He would not tell who the other two persons were and would not talk much about the assault. Craigan also acknowledged to the police that he struck the man.

The police knew who the other guilty parties were but did not succeed in arresting them, and they prompty skipped the town.


The victim of the assault passed a painful night, but retained his consciousness up to the last half hour, talking freely to his wife and children. He realized that the end was coming, and bade his weeping wife good-bye. At a quarter past four this morning he breathed his last. The deceased was a native of Sweden, but has lived in this country just twenty years. He was employed at the Trahern Pump Works, and had been working at that factory nearly fourteen years, a faithful and respected employe. He leaves a wife and three young children, the youngest a boy four years old, and the oldest a girl of ten. Louis Valentine, a grinder at the Skandia Plow Works, is a brother of the deceased. Mr. Valentine was a member of Zion Church. The funeral will be held probably on Wednesday.


At the Trahern Pump Works the murdered man got a good report as a workman and an individual. "He was a very faithful and a a hard-working man," said a member of the firm. "He was our melter employed to superintend the iron melting in the foundry, and a quiet fellow who always minded his own business. We thought a great deal of him and as far as we can learn he never allowed himself to drink to excess. Certainly Val. was always on hand for work and in good condition.

About the residence this morning a number of the neighbors and friends of the deceased were gathered excitedly discussing the dastardly assault and its fatal results. His friends and people are terribly worked up over the event, and means and interest will not be lacking in prosecuting the guilty trio.

A firend of the dead man, who heard the statement of the affairs says that on his way home from work Valentine was asked into Gearhart's saloon, at 819 East State Street, by one of the boys of the factory. He took a glass of beer and handed the bar tender a $10 bill in payment for the drink. He had received his weekly wages that night of $10.50 from the Trahern Company. Between some Swede boys in the saloon and a crowd of Irish lads a quarrel arose and blows were exchanged but Valentine said he had.


but stood aloof from the crowd. He saw one of the boys, he thought it was Craigan, go out of the back door and come in with a rock in his hand. He then left the saloon, before anyone else did, and noticed that Craigan, Dixon and Lavin quit the place right after he did. They caught up with him on Kishwaukee Street near Second Avenue and the fight resulted. The iron melter did not suppose that he was dangerously hurt at the time. He came down town later in the evening, calling at a drug store for medicine, and although he felt sore he did not apprehend danger from the injuries. He swore out a warrant for the arrest of Craigan simply on the charge of assault and battery before Justice Marsh. The police believed that the case was not very important and so were not as vigilant as they would have been. Officer McEvoy called upon the Dixon boy and found him at his home on Crosby Street, but at that time it was supposed that he was only a witness, and so after pumping him and trying to learn the facts Dixon was allowed to have his liberty. Subsequently, when it was learned that the case was serious the boy had run away. It was merely by accident that young Craigan was captured. Before he knew the gravity of the offense he owned up his connection with the affair.

It was reported that Dixon was seen yesterday in the neighborhood of the funiture factories on Woodruff's Addition, but when the patrol wagon reached the spot no trace of the lad could be discovered. Subsequently definite information was received to the effect that they were seen going nothward toward Caledonia on the East Side. Sheriff Hutchins went to Beloit; Officer Yordy was dispatched to Davis Junction, and Officer McEvoy to Marengo. Word was wire to all the neighboring towns giving a description of the boys, and ordering their arrest if captured. Attorney R.G. McEvoy has been retained to defend Craigan. The inquest was deferred until 2 o'clock to give the county physician a chance to hold a postmortem, and the coroner to collect all testimony of importance bearing on the kiling.

A railroad man reported that two young men answering to the description of the fugitives were seen at Davis Junction this morning asking to be taken to Chicago, stating that they had not money.

--Rockford Daily Register, October 25, 1886



A few nights since, a resident of the Second Ward whose business had kept him down town until a late hour, was wending his way along South Fourth St. toward his dwelling place just west of G. A. Shoudy's burned rendering establishment. Hurrying homeward through the snow, flake after flake of which softly fell to the ground about him, the citizen allowed his mind to dwell upon the tragic death of Gust Valentine, the subject being suggested, doubtless by the fact that he had just passed the the scene of the squabble that led to the man's demise. Reaching the house that had been occupied by the deceased during life and in which he breathed his last, corner of Foruth Street and Sixth Avenue, the pedestrian happeded to glance within and was horrified to behold


in one of the windows. It was the figure of a man, which the citzen immediately recognized as that of the late Gust Valentine. The head was uncovered, the neck and bosom bared and broad, gaping scars were visible upon the breast. For a moment only the ghostly outline was visible and then it disappeared as if shrinking from the sight of mortal eyes and the wonder-struck pedestrian plodden onward debating with himself whether he was the victim of a hallucination or whether the spirit of the murdered man was really cavorting arounding furnishing startling surprises for belated wayfarers. He said nothing until rumors reached him that strange noises were heard in the room where Valentine died, and other neighbors whispered about that they had seen a ghostly form flit by the window and when he disclosed the particulars of what he had witnessed. The impression among the superstitiously inclined in the vicinity is very strong that a strange unrest is certainly agitating the


and even some practical-minded are prone to believe that the rumors are something more than mere ghost stories. One thing is certain, Mrs. Carlton, who occupied a part of the house in question, has sought other quarters, as she firmly believed that peculiar sounds that could be attributed to no human agency were nightly heard in the rooms that had been used by the dead man and his family. The ghostly runmors are the talk of the neighborhood and the house being vacant the unbelieving can have an opportunity of proving the truth of their unbelief by staying in the supposedly haunted room and lying in wait for his ghostship. All kinds of wild reports prevail of parties who claim to have seen the apparition, and it is certain that numbers of residents oft hat section are considerably excited over the story.

--Rockford Daily Register, January 14, 1887



It has been said that there is some sense in everything, but it is hard to discover where the sense lies in the publication of the merest chaff of ignorant minds and at the same exaggerating it into the opinion of the neighborhood. Such a thing our contemporary did the other day when it published under the headline "His Gost Walks" a story of the ghost of August Valentine having been seen. Most people are incredulous concerning ghost stories, but unfortunately there are a few who believe that dismbodied spirits still walk the eath. Every unexpected occurrence after dark from the flutter of a white rag to a moving shadow it by their imagination transformed into a ghost. Fleeing from the spot, they ever thank their lucky fates over their escape, and with garrulous tongues wil repeat the story to any one who will listen. Neither do this class forget to make additions to their observations, asseting how brave they were, and telling that the waving garment on the line was the exact image of their father, or somebody else. There are those who sit with open mouths and bated breath to listen to such recitals. It is bad enough for a newspaper now a days to mention that fools who see ghosts still exist; but there is neither reason nor wisdom in making up, or partly making up ghost stories. It was positively, in the present case, doing a poor woman and her children, who have been deprived of their natural protector by a foul murder, an injury. The greater part of the property left by her husband was the house in which they lived. One superstition, which lingers in a sort of intangible form in many persons of the Aryan races is embodied in Longfellow's lines, "The houses where men have lived and died are haunted houses." May persons looking for a house to rent need only to be told that persons have did in it, to drive them away from the most convenient residence. Further, the article in question, falling in the way of the Valentine children, has made them afraid of the dark, and subjected them to vague terrors. The article has thus impaired the rental of Mrs. Valentine's property and made her children fear the darkness.

The Aurora Beacon has this of the matter.

Poor Rockford! It is haunted by the ghost of the murdered Gust. Valentine, which walks abroad at unseemly hours of the nighit, exhibiting its ghastly scars and creating a genuine sensation. It is a very frigid day when Rockford can't get up something startling.

--Rockford Daily Gazett, January 20, 1887









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