Ghostly tales, legends haunt library presentation


By Cheryl Ough

06/10/07 - Quad-City Times

Haunted ghost stories filled a packed meeting room of more than 150 people at the Davenport Public Library-Fairmount Street on Saturday afternoon.

Chad Lewis, co-author of “The Iowa Road Guide to Haunted Locations,” shared various stories of paranormal activity in places across Iowa.

“There are places in your own backyard,” said Lewis as he began his presentation.

Lewis was referring to three Davenport locations: City Hall, Brady Street and the Blackhawk Hotel, which he saved to tell at the end of his discussion.

The audience sat on the edge of their seats as Lewis described The Banshee of Brady Street. The tale revolves around a former Brady Street house where Chicago gangsters ran a brothel and buried their mob victims. Now that the haunted house is gone, The Banshee of Brady Street whistles and calls people’s names as they walk up and down the sidewalks.

The current City Hall building was once the old police station. Prisoners housed in the station were hung in the bell tower. According to Lewis, locals claim to see the figure of a hanging man in the bell tower.

As Lewis flipped from slide to slide showing the haunted locations, curious listeners took notes.

The information about each ghostly tale and legend comes from e-mails, phone calls, historical societies, historical newspapers and local teenagers. Lewis and his research partner, Terry Fisk, examine and investigate each haunted location.

Many of the haunted locations request a person to perform a dare, such as sitting in a chair. If the dare is completed, it will lead to a curse. When asked if Lewis and Fisk complete tasks that may lead to curses, Lewis said: “There are so many dares we stopped doing them to be on the safe side.”

Lewis encouraged audience members to determine whether the locations were haunted for themselves.

“We probably will check out a location,” said Jennifer Haines of Davenport, who brought her daughters, Andrea, 8, and Cortney, 12, to Lewis’ presentation because they were interested in ghost stories.

John and Karen Nagy from outside Maysville, Iowa, came to the library for Lewis’ presentation out of curiosity.

“We saw it in the paper, had the afternoon off, and decided it would be a fun and interesting way to spend it at the library,” John Nagy said.

Lewis’ presentation was part of the Davenport Public Library’s Summer Reading program called “Get a Clue at Your Library.” The program began June 2 and ends on July 26.

Angela Campbell, public relations program coordinator for the library, said she could not believe the great turnout for the program.

“We only set up 100 chairs,” she said. “I am thrilled with the turnout.”

She said the presentation’s topic helped bring many people to the library because the topic was such a great one for all ages. “This program was the perfect way to plan a trip across Iowa,” she said.

Lewis enjoys talking to audiences, such as the crowd at the Davenport Public Library, because it shows people there is research going on about paranormal activity.

“It can be an adventure to discover what’s in your state,” he said. “You may have to dig a little bit.”

For more information on Chad Lewis and his book, visit his Web site at www.unexplainedresearch.com.

The city desk can be contacted at (563) 383-2450 or newsroom@qctimes.com.

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