Ghost hunters don’t need to see to believe

Appleton gathering explores oddities, unexplained stories

By Susan Squires
10/16/05 - Post-Crescent

APPLETON — By day, he’s Chad Lewis, mild-mannered grant writer. But when ghosts come tapping and aliens kidnapping, he straps on the electromagnetic field meter and becomes Chad Lewis, Paranormal Investigator.

Lewis’ alter ego is appealing to the occasional woman, but unfortunately, not ghosts. The sleuth from Eau Claire, who orchestrated Saturday’s Unexplained Conference at the Best Western Midway in Appleton, has never rousted a ghost. Or even seen one.

Quoting a fellow ghost buster, Lewis says: “If you’re afraid of ghosts, the best place to hang out is with a ghost investigator because we never see them.”


The grave stone of Kate Blood in Riverside Cemetery in Appleton is said to be haunted. Believers say a strange blood-like substance has been seen seeping from the stone. Those who study the paranormal discussed this oddity as well as other unexplained events on Saturday during the Unexplained Conference in Appleton.

Perhaps, he says, he’d have more luck if he left behind his cadre of deputies and the motion detectors, tactical flashlights and infrared thermometers.

“Maybe we should try to blend in and trick the ghost,” Lewis said.

Nevertheless, Lewis doesn’t have to see to believe.

“I’ve talked to hundreds upon hundreds of credible, rational, intelligent people who describe paranormal experiences. They all can’t be wrong. They all can’t be hallucinating. Something must be going on,” Lewis said.

What that something is certainly is the question people come to these meetings to explore. Some have had their curiosity tapped by Halloween superstitions. Some belong to one of the groups around the area that get together to talk and explore, or exchange stories about sightings over the Internet. Some are aspiring ghost hunters.

Tracy Vandermuss of Green Bay falls into the latter two categories. Vandermuss, who has had a fascination with the paranormal since childhood, goes to conferences like Saturday’s two or three times a year.

“I find the stories fascinating, and it’s a chance to meet other people who are interested in the paranormal,” he said.

His favorite ghost story is the alleged haunting of the Maribel Hotel in Manitowoc County, known among believers as “Hotel Hell.” The legend goes that Al Capone owned the hotel, that it burned three times, that 30 people died in one of the fires and that their skeletal remains are still in the building.

One of Lewis’ favorite stories is about Kate Blood’s grave in Appleton’s Riverside Cemetery. Blood supposedly killed her husband. Witnesses claim to have had spooky experiences at her grave.

Actually, Capone never owned the Maribel Hotel, there was one fire, nobody died, and, consequently, there are no skeletons. Nor did Blood kill her husband. He outlived her, in fact.

But the truth about the sites doesn’t diminish the ghost hunters’ fascination. Debunking fallacies is what they do. Just because the backstory is mundane doesn’t mean the hotel or the grave aren’t haunted.

“Different people have similar stories, and that makes it hard to write them off,” said Vandermuss, who’d like to investigate the paranormal fulltime.

That’s not a career path Lewis would recommend, but he says chasing the unseen is a fine hobby, especially among Wisconsin’s nooks and crannies.

“Wisconsin’s supposed sleepiness is the butt of jokes,” Lewis said, “but when you choose to look, there are some very odd things going on.”


Susan Squires can be reached at 920-993-1000, ext. 368

On the Web:




• Appleton Curling Club, 307 N. Westhill Blvd., Grand Chute: Some visitors report seeing the ghost of several former members lurking around. Witnesses report hearing footsteps. Some say they’ve smelled tobacco smoke they associate with one past member. Longtime member Mark Davis told The P-C in 2004 that the rumors are likely jokes.

• Riverside Cemetery, 1901 Algoma Blvd., Oshkosh: The ghost of a young child is reputed to wander among the tombstones.

• Riverside Cemetery, 714 N. Owaissa St., Appleton: Witnesses report seeing a blood-like substance oozing from the tombstone of Kate Blood. Legend says it’s because she killed her husband, although in reality she did not. In fact, she died before he did.

• Secura Insurance Co., 2401 S. Memorial Drive, Appleton: Reportedly, the ghostly cries of a young woman have been heard from the lake. According to lore, she is looking for her child, who drowned in the lake 150 years ago. Unfortunately for lore, there was no lake until 1962.

• The Grand Opera House, 100 High Ave., Oshkosh: Haunts include a dog that purportedly interferes with productions.

Source: Chad Lewis

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