Last Saturday, Jim and I got to hang around with incredible writer Terri Reid and her husband, Richard, as well as incredible writer/formatter Donnie Light and his wife, Barb, and one of our activities was going on a ghost tour in Galena, Illinois.
I have never been to Galena before, even though I've lived in Illinois all of my life. (Kind of like I've never been to most of the tourist sites in Chicago.) At any event, I was surprised by 1) how old the city actually is and 2) how much it reminded me of Savanna, Georgia. Galena, like Savanna, is built on levels, so sometimes traversing from one street to another means taking flights of stairs to another level. Streets run up- and downhill and some intersections resemble the switchbacks on hiking trails despite the asphalt and concrete.
The tour, one of several offered by Amelia's Tours, was a bus tour that included use of an EMF meter, dowsing rods, a Rem pod, and a ghost box. Sites included an old cemetery that is haunted by a cloaked woman with glowing red eyes, drive-bys of at least two businesses that were former funeral parlors and are now eateries, the oldest still-in-business hotel in the state of Illinois, and a community center, among a slew of others.
We stopped at the cemetery and made contact with the spirit of a woman who told us, through yes-and-no questions answered by dowsing rod, that she was buried there with her children. She was between the ages of 30 and 40 and we got the sense that she had died during a cholera or other epidemic. She did tell us that the cloaked woman with the red eyes was not only present, but that this red-eyed woman was not a friendly spirit. We left pretty shortly after that.
But the best stop was haunted Ryan Mansion. The mansion was built in 1884 (or thereabouts) and after being recently uninhabited for a year and a half while owned by the bank, was finally sold to a family brave enough to want to live in a haunted house. The tour guide told us that the real estate agents had a hard time showing the place due to the hauntings. One agent who was touching up her makeup in a mirror there before her next client meeting, had looked down to take and respond to a text message, only to look up and find someone in the mirror staring back at her. She left and never took the meeting.
Doors open on their own, the piano in the formal parlor plays itself during the night, apparitions appear. While we were there, the tour guide did not only communicate with the dowsing rods. The EMF meter indicated that there was a disturbance in the electromagnetic field close to a door leading to the servant's hall (close to where I was standing, I might add). This was the door that would swing open by itself. It opened for the new lady of the house shortly after she moved in, and she took it as a welcome, indicating that the spirits there were happy that she had moved into the property. The owner's nine-year-old daughter stopped in front of the door and said, "You opened for my mom. Open for me." The door obliged.
Since we got the EMF disturbance, the tour guide also set up the Rem pod and invited the spirit to touch it. And it did it twice while being asked to do so. The ghost box, a device that scans radio signals and allows spirit energy to form words from random radio broadcasts, spit out a few answers, but they were not very clear.
Ryan Mansion was the last stop on the tour and it would have been a hard one to top. From the original furnishings that still grace the first floor (since the house is occupied, tours are restricted to the first floor) to the modern dress-form mannequins that display period clothing, the house is an elegant nineteenth century example of upper-class living that is like a Hollywood movie come to life. With ghosts.