02/18/07 - Quad Cities

Do suicides at a Brady Street home haunt the thoroughfare to this day? Were there hangings at the Davenport City Hall bell tower? Were aborted fetuses from pregnant nuns at The Villa in Rock Island buried in its walls?

Paranormal investigator Chad Lewis looked into these horrific tales and reveals his findings in new books about haunted places in Iowa and Illinois. "The Iowa Road Guide to Haunted Locations" was just released -- published by his company, Unexplained Research -- and his tome on the Land of Lincoln will come out in March.

"We never say whether we believe whether or not places are haunted," Mr. Lewis, of Eau Claire, Wis., said. "We try to give the reader accurate information, as much of the story as we can, and let the reader decide."

Mr. Lewis, 32, started his Web site, unexplainedresearch.com, in 2002, after working part-time on his obsession with ghost stories and UFOs. He encouraged the public to submit stories and they have, leading him to pen the state guides. It's now a full-time job.

"We love to hear people's stories," Mr. Lewis said. "They don't know who to tell stories to. Some people held on to their stories for 20 years. They didn't think people would believe them. In 2006, we've gotten reports from troops in Iraq, people from other countries contacting us. It's really a global site.

"People like a good ghost story," Mr. Lewis said. "We were pretty amazed by how these books have been received."

His first book on Wisconsin was released in the fall of 2004. He's also co-written road guides on Minnesota and South Dakota.

Mr. Lewis claims this is the first time tall tales have been investigated and put into an easy-to-follow format for individual states. For each location, he typically puts an address, phone number and directions. The books supply the history of each site, ghost lore, and the authors' investigation into the facts.

"We spent a lot of time in each town, talking to the historical society, the library, with seniors that have lived in the area," Mr. Lewis said.

He only chooses places open to the public and where "hauntings" have been alleged in the recent past (as opposed to 50 or 100 years ago).

For the Iowa book, he and co-author Terry Fisk visited more than 200 places and included 52 in the 246-page book.

The "Banshee of Brady Street" concerns an unknown Victorian house on Brady which no longer exists. Mr. Lewis writes that in 1918, according to the book "Oddball Iowa," the two children who lived there died, and then the parents committed suicide in the house.

It was a boarding house in the 1940s, and plagued by unexplained drafts and mysterious figures, the book says. Even after it was torn down for a parking lot, loud screams and strange whistling "are often reported." The book says "no one seems to know which exact house became cursed."

"Even though specifics are lost to history, hidden maybe, the overall picture, people remember. They have heard about weird things on Brady Street," Mr. Lewis said.

Davenport's police station was at city hall, 226 W. 4th St., until 1980. Local lore says that some prisoners were hanged in the bell tower, but the book notes they could not find any evidence of this.

Residents "will walk by the building and look up into the bell tower and are surprised to see the figure of a man hanging from a rope," the book says.

While again there is no proof, "the general public had heard of these stories," Mr. Lewis said. "Once people hear it enough, it becomes fact. People believe that it actually happened.

"We're not quite certain they didn't take place," he said of the hangings. "Just because we're not able to find reports, we never say that it didn't happen."

The story about The Villa -- a former Catholic girls school at 2000 16th Ave., Rock Island -- which opened in 1901 and was nearly completely destroyed by a 2005 fire -- seems more outrageous.

"If you venture into the old building, you will be followed by mysterious footsteps. The grounds are haunted by the spirits of the numerous students that have taken their own lives while attending the Villa," the forthcoming chapter says. Mr. Lewis did not find evidence of suicides.

Stories also revealed that some nuns became pregnant by priests "from the area" and sought abortions.

Unnamed "young residents" related rumors of the aborted fetuses. The books don't record sources because "we have found that when people find out you are writing a book and then you ask for their name, they do not want to tell their story," Mr. Lewis said.

"Rumors circulated that the fetuses were aborted and disposed of in the walls of the schools," the book will say. "We were unable to locate any solid evidence of nuns having babies while at the Villa," Mr. Lewis said.

"Those who are brave enough to venture to the old building report strange knocking and crying coming from the inside the walls. These eerie noises are said to be the spirits of babies left in the walls by the nuns."

The Rock Island library and historical society had never heard of these stories, Mr. Lewis said. In Davenport, the public library had no record of hangings at the old police station.

The library does have a small file on haunted houses, with newspaper stories covering tales Mr. Lewis's book did not, including a Palmer College fraternity house at 723 Main Street with a spooky reputation.

20 comments on this article
Posted by johnoil from davenport at 7:55AM on Monday, 2/19/07
Wow. I did not know this about our city. I will have to visit these places for myself.
Posted by Feeds the Homeless from QCA at 9:46AM on Monday, 2/19/07
This can all be taken care of by simply using your authority in the Name of Jesus and command these spirits to leave. Why would you want to play around with demonic forces? Jesus gave us His Name to use as power of attorny to eliminate these spirits from tormenting us.
Posted by some anonymous person from Moline at 10:26AM on Monday, 2/19/07
Why do you publish such slanderous anti-Catholic hate speech? Stories about ghosts haunting houses are generally harmless nonsense. But the claim that priests got nuns pregnant and aborted babies were buried in the walls of the Villa is a direct attack against the priests and nuns who lived in this area and against the Catholic Church in general. It is the same story Catholic haters have been telling for centuries. Why would the Dispatch even consider passing it along in print? Where is your sense of decency and respect?
Posted by Ski mom from The slopes at 10:38AM on Monday, 2/19/07
Super col info! I can't wait to check this out for myself.
Posted by to Feeds the Homeless from Moline at 10:39AM on Monday, 2/19/07
Or, you can call on Satan. There is no Jesus.
Posted by to anon@10:26 from Rock Island at 10:42AM on Monday, 2/19/07
I heard these stories growing up CATHOLIC in Davenport. We all did. It's not a direct attack. According to some nuns that left the order, It happened. I'm friends with priests in the area, and several of them have sex. I don't hate catholics, nor do I hate myself.
Decency? Respect? For printing items the majority of the quad cities have heard for decades?
Excuse me, as one who was molested by a priest, I can personally inform you that catholic priests have sex.
Posted by Feeds the Homeless from QCA at 12:44PM on Monday, 2/19/07
To Moline at 10:39AM; You refer to Satan but say there is no Jesus? How convienient for Satan. The difference is that in Satan having you blinded to not believe in Jesus, Satan and his demons DO believe in Jesus and tremble. They know their outcome. It is his greatest ploy to get you to not believe in Jesus, or even in himself to weaken the authority over him to stop his killing, stealing and distroying. This is not a funny subject.
Posted by some anonymous person at 1:01PM on Monday, 2/19/07
I was inside the Villa several times before it burned and have been inide several times after it was destroyed and have never seen or heard anything wierd.... What a waste of money buying this book would be, I guess unless your into fiction then it wouldn't be bad.....
Posted by to Feeds the Homeless from moline at 1:58PM on Monday, 2/19/07
Oops - I meant hail Bubba. Quit your thumping, or do it on a more logical post. Your last two posts aren't even understandable english.
Did anyone say it's funny, other than your implications? No. Satanists believe in Good and Evil. Satan and God. No room for a false prophet.
Posted by Shelley from Rock Island at 2:06PM on Monday, 2/19/07
What about the black angel that was up in Riverside Cemetary, I don't remember the whole story but I am sure somebody does?
Posted by Schmeckler from PBC at 2:32PM on Monday, 2/19/07
I am confused. How can there be a Satan but not a Jesus?
Posted by Moline from Moline at 3:24PM on Monday, 2/19/07
I found this article anti-Catholic--this is an attack against the Catholic Church/ Prients,etc. I would appreciate if you can write an apology about it in the newspaper. Thank you.
Posted by some anonymous person at 4:18PM on Monday, 2/19/07
I find it interesting that the attack against the Catholic Church is perpetuated by a book that makes claims immediately followed by disclaimers, like suicides that took place but no evidence is found. Evidence that would involve missing children and police reports and the like. And yet, newspapers and publishers still print these attacks. Why? Especially after the author admits that things become fact simply by making sure that people hear the stories enough. Not fact because they happened, but fact because "Once people hear it enough, it becomes fact. People believe that it actually happened."
Posted by some anonymous person at 4:20PM on Monday, 2/19/07
Read the article people, that's why it uses words like "rumours" and says that they "unable to locate solid evidence". It's a book of tall tales and stories of hauntings. It's not a investigative journalism piece about the villa. He's not attacking the church. The Catholic Church has done enough to ruin it's own image. You think stories that can't be proved about nuns and priests are going to do more harm than molestation charges that have been proven in the courts?
Posted by Satanist to Schmeckler from Moline at 4:29PM on Monday, 2/19/07
How dense are you? We are not an offshoot of the christian church. We don't believe in Jesus. What is so hard to grasp?
Posted by to Anon@4:18 & 4:20pm from Rock Island at 4:32PM on Monday, 2/19/07
Listen slowly. I'm catholic too. My parents best friend and married couple are an ex-priest married to an ex-nun, who got married in the late 60's. Why? Because she was pregnant by the man. He was still a priest, she was still a nun. It does happen. Get over it! This isn't a personal attack. You are blowing this WAY out of proportion.
Posted by to Moline from Rock Island at 4:34PM on Monday, 2/19/07
Get a life. This is a book. Its a work of fiction. Go after the DaVinci code or someone making a bit more money. You don't deserve an apology. Yes, I too am a catholic.
Posted by some anonymous person at 4:50PM on Monday, 2/19/07
To Shelley: Here's the deal with the Black Angel of Riverside Cemetery in Moline, IL. There was a bronze statue of a woman on the Deere-Wiman lot in Riverside Cemetery. If you were a teenager in the 50s and 60s and you had too much to drink or smoked one too many left handed cigarettes and went to look at the statue, the toxins in your blood from the booze or drugs would lead you to believe the statue could move and/or "peer into your soul" or some such goofy thing. But if you visited there while sober, no such things would occur. Funny, eh?
Posted by 0cam from Rock Island at 4:50PM on Monday, 2/19/07
If any evidence is covered up it's done by the church. Read some history. Popes have been married, had concubines, repressed other Christians who weren't in agreement. Popes are infallible only because the church says they are. Sadly, child molestations by clergy is nothing new. Deal with reality. The church is only grudgingly willing to do so--check the newspaper if you need confirmation. Most churches have so much potential but they squander it. Remember, 'judge not that you not be judged."
Posted by Mike from Sherrard at 6:01PM on Monday, 2/19/07
Okay, okay, I got it...wait until you are the only one home...turn off all the lights...only have the soft glow of the computer...then read these stories and think about ghostly figures, footsteps and listen to the wall of your house make those odd sounds, or the floorboards as the house settles...imagine the cold, clammy, hand of the vengeful undead reaching from behind to grab your throat...as you turn and stare into the rotting face with its yellow eyes and your throat just clicks, cuz you are too scared to scream.....reach into your back pocket and get out that power of attorney Jesus gave you to take care of this exact situation....shalom...Peace in Christ, man...you guys are a riot.

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