Sharing ghost stories


By KURT NESBITT Journal Staff Writer

06/20/07 - The Journal

NEW ULM — About 120 people came to the public library Monday night to hear a Minneapolis author and paranormal researcher talk about his book, “The Minnesota Road Guide To Haunted Locations,” which includes Turner Hall.

Author Chad Lewis gave a presentation Monday at the New Ulm Public Library.

Author Chad Lewis took the audience on a short tour of some of the places in his book. He stayed after his talk to chat with locals and sign copies of his book.

According to Lewis, visitors to Turner Hall have reported seeing someone waiting at the top of the main steps outside the older portion of the building, only to find no one’s there. He said staff have reported seeing glasses move and furniture move.

Lewis said he’s aware of a bed and breakfast and a house in New Ulm that may also be haunted.

During his short talk, Lewis mainly focused on ghost tales whose origins are beyond the local area.

Thief River Falls, Lewis said, got its name from a Native American woman who left her baby by the side of the river and came back for it later. However, she found that the child was swept downstream over the falls and was killed, leading the woman to say that the river is a thief.

She said any white man who walks the river would be cursed until the end of time. There is a trail along Thief River that some locals call Dead Man’s Trail. It has some caves at the end of it, which according to Lewis may still have the bodies of some bootleggers buried inside them.

Landmark Center in St. Paul was once the courthouse where 1930s gangster Ma Barker and some of her boys stood trial. The elevator is said to be haunted by a man who reportedly pushes a button that takes visitors to a particular floor. The women’s restroom is also said to be haunted by a man who watches its users.

The Fitzgerald Theatre in St. Paul also has a trio of phantom employees, according to Lewis. One is a woman in a red Victorian-style dress who sings in the main hall when it is closed. Another is an usher. The staff on “A Prairie Home Companion,” according to Lewis, leave a timesheet for a phantom stagehand to record his hours.

The Glensheen Mansion in Duluth, which was the site of the 1978 murder of heiress Elizabeth Congdon, is also said to be haunted although tour guides will not mention the murder. Lewis said visitors who are “tuned into the paranormal” will get sick once they walk through the bedroom where Congdon was smothered to death with a pillow.

The Palmer House Hotel in Sauk Centre, where author Sinclair Lewis once worked as a clerk, is said to be haunted by the ghost of a boy who died there while he was awaiting treatment. Guests have reported hearing a child bouncing a ball in the hallway when there were no guests with children staying there at the time.

After Lewis finished, a woman in the audience said she has seen a wine glass in her house that flies up by itself, turns over and smashes , as well as shampoo bottles and snacks that fly off shelves. She said she found an older woman, who told her that there was a man who lived that house who was an alcoholic who beat his wife.

An older man in the audience mentioned the grave of Annie Mary Twente, who reportedly was buried alive sometime in the 1860s in what is now Albin Township.

He said the headlights on his car went out as he passed the gravesite. He had them checked by two different mechanics, who found nothing wrong with the car. When he drove past again, he told a couple of his passengers about what happened and the same thing happened again — the headlights on the car went out and two mechanics again found nothing wrong with the car.

Traci Juhala, interim library director, said she invited Lewis to talk about his book because there is a lot of interest in ghosts and the paranormal in New Ulm.

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