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W-File: gh_evansville.html

Type: Ghost
Location: Evansville, Wisconsin

haunted house

Source: The book Wisconsin Lore by Robert E. Gard and L. G. Sorden,
pages 40-42 (published 1962)


Ethel Van Patten of Evansville tells of another strange happening. She says that her parents were good, dependable Yankees who would have admitted anything rather than that they were superstitious. This is Mrs. Van Patten's story:

In the year 1894, my parents bought and moved into what was known as the Evansville House. It was an old remodeled structure at that time. I was a little girl of eight. The place must have been sixty or more years old then. In the days of stagecoaches it had been a stage stop, and the old barn, with its hand-hewn log rafters and sills, still acted as a livery stable.

First maybe I had better describe the layout of the old hotel. The office was on the west with a door opening onto a long, wide veranda. In the front, which faced the south, was another huge door which led into a long hall, from which opened several and various rooms. Like most old places it had its legends of mystery, tragedy, and romance. One of them was about a lovely young girl who, while working as a chambermaid, had been strangled by a lover who already had a wife and family and who, not being able to have her himself, had decided that she should never belong to anyone else. After killing her he had dashed out to catch an outgoing freight, had fallen, and had himself been killed.

Even as young as I was I can remember enough about the happenings to make this story very real to me. Through the years, however, I tried repeatedly to persuade my mother to tell of their experience that winter, but she was always reticent about it and put me off, saying, "Oh, that. That was only one of your father's and my nightmares," or "Why quiz me? Your father knows more about it than I do." But one day she said to me, "Well, I might as well set you as straight as I can about it. I don't believe in mysteries and I never will. There was a solution to our phantom, but we didn't have the courage to stay and search it out. There was a solution as sure as there is life, but we never found it."

Among the steady boarders at the Evansville House was an old sea captain, Pat McGlinn. He wore brogans and danced the hornpipe to the music of an old wheezy mouthorgan. It was sure fun to learn the steps from him and then hear his tall stories of the "Terribal disasthers upon the sae." His brogue was rich and resonant and his vocabulary a constant disturbing element in my little mother's life, for I was an apt pupil and so were all of my pals in the neighborhood. I loved Pat, so one day when I heard him and father having heated words in which Pat was pounding the desk and swearing by all of the saints good and otherwise, I listened in.

About that time I guess Pat had father more or less convinced that it was not he who was clumping all over the place at all hours of the night, for they parted with a congenial attitude which put me more at ease, but it made me more conscious of the happenings about the place.

It seems that every morning about three o'clock someone wearing heavy shoes came clumping down the stairs, which were right beside my folks' room. I can remember what I, too, thought was Pat come clump, clump, clumping down the stairs. It would not have impressed me at all but for the realization that my folks were so disturbed about it, and I did not want them mad at Pat. Later, after mother made it clear to me, the whole thing came back. It seems that my father ran a race, as it were, with the phantom all winter. At first he would take time to slip on his trousers, then he began opening his door quietly, but no matter how careful he would be, the footfalls would stop if only halfway down the stairs.

One snowy night my folks just lay and listened. The footfalls went out into the office; the outer door, which was locked, opened and closed. My father dashed out then; the door was still locked and there was not a single footprint in the newly fallen snow. Then father dashed up to Pat's room to convince himself that it was not he and found him snoring peacefully in his bed.

If I hadn't heard the footfalls myself I would have thought that my folks had dreamed the whole thing, but I heard them just as plainly as they did.

Throughout the years I have heard and read about happenings to people who were just as staid and unsuperstitious as my people were, but had to admit something beyond their comprehension happening to them, and I've wondered if, in some strange incomprehensible way, Pat's spirit did leave his body and roam restlessly beyond his control, paying penance for some crime committed at sea, or if the young lover was still fleeing from his terrible crime. Be that as it may, we shall never know.

That spring my father sold the place. We never heard whether with our leaving the phantom stopped its restless roaming or not. Maybe it retired back from whence it came, whether it be into the sea or otherwise.

Source: The National Directory Of Haunted Places by Dennis William Hauck, pages 383-384.


East Side Steak House

For many years, this former boarding house was haunted by phantom footsteps marching up and down the hallways. Some say the ghost was a man who strangled his young mistress in one of the rooms. He died trying to escape, when he fell under the wheels of a passing train. The building was constructed in 1834.

(Evansville is in Rock County, 16 miles northwest of Janesville at the junction of U.S. Hwy 14 and Hwy 213. East Side Steak House, Evansville, WI 53536.)

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