Summerwind Mansion

Located on the shores of West Bay Lake in the Northeast region of WI, Summerwind Mansion (also known as Lamont Mansion) sits as a shell of its former self. It was constructed in 1916 by Robert P. Lamont as a summer home for him and his family, but the experience of living within the walls of Summerwind would soon turn sour.

Many claim that the paranormal activity at Summerwind didn’t begin until after the Lamonts occupied the mansion, but there are accounts of paranormal activity on the property during this time. In one such account, Lamont shot at a spirit in the kitchen one evening. He believed it to be an intruder, but the bullet went right through the specter and lodged itself in the basement door. The bullet holes remained as a reminder of the occurrence.

The house was sold several times after the Lamonts occupied Summerwind and eventually fell into the hands of Arnold Hinshaw and his wife Ginger. The Hinshaw’s and their 6 children moved in in the 1970s and remained there for a rather eventful 6 months.

It seemed as if the house came alive immediately and the Hinshaw’s began to see and experience all the paranormal activity that Summerwind had to offer. They would see vague shapes and shadows in the hallways, hear mumbled voices in empty rooms, and would often see the ghost of a woman in the dining room before she turned and floated straight through the closed french doors. However, whenever the Hinshaw’s would walk into a room or occupy a space in which something paranormal had been observed, the activity would abruptly stop. The family thought that the paranormal activity was imagined, but the events continued. At times, when certain items in the house would break down (a water pump for example,) Arnold would go to fix it, but it would already be repaired. It was as if the items were repairing themselves. Windows and doors would reopen after they had been shut tight. One window had to be nailed shut because it would constantly open again, even after it had been locked. These odd occurrences were innocuous enough and the Hinshaw’s went on living with the ghosts because it seemed as if they meant anyone harm. One morning, as Arnold got into his car to go to work, the vehicle burst into flames. The fire was investigated, but no cause was found. Perhaps the ghosts were not so innocuous after all?

The Summerwind mansion, in Land O’ Lakes, fell into disrepair after a succession of owners, some who supposedly were driven away by ghosts.–haunting-and-all-b99381544z1-281025652.html

The Hinshaw’s, having spent a fair bit of money on Summerwind, decided to invest in the property and take care of some maintenance that needed to be done. They hired workers to help with tasks that they could not do themselves, but those they hired would fake illness to get out of coming to the property or refused to work altogether. They had heard the stories about Summerwind and were afraid to even set foot on the grounds. The Hinshaw’s, having no reliable help, began renovating Summerwind on their own.

I’m assuming that having little experience with home reno, they decided to start with a smaller project: a bedroom closet. In the closet, as was the case with many Victorian houses built in the 19th century, was a dresser that was built into the wall. Each drawer could be removed leaving an opening in the wall. Arnold kind of wedged himself into one of the openings, perhaps to see how to go about removing the framing for the built-in, when he was startled by an object in the wall. He was sure he saw something, perhaps an animal corpse of some kind, and scurried back in fright. I guess Arnold wasn’t campaigning for father of the year because when his daughter came home from school, he asked her to climb in through the opening to see what was back there. Mary was small in stature and could fit easily.  Shortly after entering the space, she came upon a human skeleton, a skull with dirty black hair, and what remained of an arm and a leg, in the opening. I’m sure this was horrifying for the young girl. I wonder if therapy was equally as expensive in the 70s as it is now? Anyway… This event was never reported to the authorities so there’s no way to know whether this is fact or fiction. It is entirely possible that Mary made up the story to scare her father, but there’s no way to know.  It’s possible that these remains were the cause of the haunting at Summerwind, but the spirit was never allowed to move on as the remains were just left in the wall.

Yep. You read that right. The remains were left in the wall.

At this point, things take a turn for the worst. Arnold begins staying up all hours playing the organ. He enjoys playing, but the music has become more and more sinister and becomes louder as the evenings progress. Ginger and the children huddle together in an upstairs bedroom as Arnold plays nonsensical gibberish that just gets louder and louder. Not surprisingly, Arnold is eventually committed and Ginger, unable to handle the situation with Arnold or Summerwind, attempts suicide.

While Arnold is undergoing treatment, Ginger and Arnold divorce, unable to fix what has been broken. After Ginger remarries, her father announces that he will buy Summerwind. Ginger has never told him what happened at the property and does the best she can to dissuade her father, but he sees potential in the place and will not be deterred. Ginger’s father, Raymond Bober, is a popcorn vendor/businessman who is highly motivated to turn the property into something worthwhile. He also says he knows the identity of the ghost that is haunting the location: Johnathan Carver.

Carver was an 18th-century British explorer who is searching for a deed that was given to him by the Sioux Indians. The document gives him the rights to the northern third of Wisconsin and Carver wants the document back. Supposedly, the deed is sealed within the foundation at Summerwind and Bober claims that through dreams, trances, and the use of a Ouija board, that Carver has requested his help. These experiences cause Bober to write The Carver Effect, which Bober publishes under the pen name Wolfgang Von Bober.

Once Bober purchases Summerwind, he, his son Karl, Ginger, and her new husband George take a walk through the property. George sees the bedroom closet in which Mary discovered the skeletonized remains previously and goes straight for it, almost as if some strange force were pulling him. George pulls out all of the drawers as if he’s searching for something, but Ginger has never told him about the body. When they finish and are leaving the house, Ginger fills him in. Once George hears the story, he and Karl immediately head back inside to investigate the space more thoroughly, but they find nothing.

At the end of the summer, Karl travels to the property alone in order to get estimates on various construction projects that have to be done as well as to do some yard cleanup. It begins to rain, so Karl heads inside and begins closing windows. In an upstairs hallway, he thinks he hears a voice calling his name. He investigates, but there is nobody else on the property with him and the house is empty. Suddenly, he hears the sound of a gunshot coming from the kitchen. He races to see what’s happening but when he arrives nobody is there. The smell of gunpowder lingers in the air and, upon closer inspection, Karl finds two bullet holes in the basement door. They are worn smooth and have clearly been there a while. Karl left Summerwind that afternoon.

Bober had dreams of turning the property into a restaurant and an inn, but he was faced with the same issues as the Hinshaw’s. Workers refused to come to the site and finding help to renovate the site was almost impossible. Tools would disappear from work areas and the workers who did stay complained of feeling like they were being watched. Bober’s wife agreed with the workmen, claiming she constantly felt as if something unseen was following her around the house.

Likely one of the most interesting ghostly occurrences at Summerwind was the shrinking and enlargement of rooms within the mansion itself. Apparently, workers trying to measure for new plywood or siding would measure, go to purchase supplies and cut what was needed, return with the correctly measured piece, and find that the piece didn’t fit or was too large for the space they’d intended. It was as if Summerwind was expanding and contracting in order to avoid being remodeled. The original plans for the house didn’t match the actual size of the rooms, in one case a room that should have been able to accommodate 150 people could only accommodate 50, and photos taken of certain interior spaces caused those spaces to look far larger than they actually were. Ginger had taken photos of the living room after she had removed the curtains (following she and Arnolds move out of Summerwind) and the curtains appeared in photos she took of the property afterward. The project to restore the mansion was abandoned and never came to fruition.

However, the fact that the property would never be a bed and breakfast never deterred Bober from searching for Carver’s deed. He and those family members who visited Summerwind never actually stayed inside. Rather, they lived in an RV on the property. Bober claimed that Carver had become angry because his deed had not yet been found and living within the walls of the mansion would be dangerous. Bober spent countless hours in the basement, feverishly chipping away at the foundation and peering into the crevices, but he found nothing. The man who originally poured the foundation was asked years later if anything had been placed within it while it was hardening, but he said nothing had been hidden there.

Even if Bober had found the deed it would have been worthless. I can’t imagine that Carver’s ghost cared much about the validity of the document, but I suppose that point is moot. Also, the Sioux Indians are not a single tribe, they were an entire nation of people and many different tribes. Additionally, the British government ruled against the individual purchase of Indian land and the Sioux never claimed land west of the Mississippi. However, the land wasn’t sold to Carver it was supposedly gifted. Is it possible the Sioux abandoned the land and deeded it to Carver?

Bober spent less than 2 summers at Summerwind and, in a last-ditch effort to make the property into something more than a haunted hovel, he tried to procure a concessions license. It was denied.

Is Summerwind (what’s left of it) really haunted? The property was struck by lightning in 1988 after changing hands a couple of times and burned to the ground, so only the foundation, some stairs, and the chimney stack remain. Could spirits still be lingering here seeking release? What do you think?

Until next time, Stay Spooky.


Twitter and IG: @oddentitypod

Facebook: The ODDentity Podcast






S4 Ep. 6: Panty Mice

S4 Ep. 6: Panty Mice

Hello ODDballs! This week, Janine revives a classic tale from the archives, the haunting of Summerwind Mansion and Katie concludes her “Jim Bob” saga with an ending you won’t soon forget!

This episode contains panty mice (stay with us here,) horrifying organ music, more of the demonic energy you’ve come to know and love, and a terrifying car ride.

Get Social!

Facebook: The ODDentity Podcast

IG and Twitter: @OddentityPod

Email us your favorite folklore tales or spooky stories and let us know what paranormal happenings you’ve experienced. We’d love to share them on the show!

Please take a moment to review us a 5* review on iTunes. Reviews will bring us more ODDballs and we absolutely want more of those! 😊


Ghostbuster Ruling: I ‘aint ‘fraid of no…lawsuit?

Helen Ackley moved into 1 La Veta Place, a large 18 room Victorian on a dead-end street in 1960, at which time she says the house was most definitely haunted. It had been built around 1900 and had been used as both a single residence and a boarding house. Ackley fell in love with the structure, even though it required a major renovation, and she and her family quickly made 1 La Veta Place home. Every old home should get the opportunity to once again host a family, to have its halls filled with the laughter of children and the everyday monotony that we call life, but the Ackley’s home was filled with even more. It wasn’t long before Helen began to report to the neighbors that the house was haunted. She described phantom footsteps, beds shaking, slamming doors, and voices clearly heard in unoccupied rooms. Supposedly, the spirits were that of Sir George and Lady Margaret (no last names, kinda like Prince I guess,) a Revolutionary War-era couple, though Helen’s son would also report coming face to face with another spirit in a military uniform within the walls of their home. A psychic stated, “that the spectral couple had died in England in the 1750s which makes their presence in Nyack, New York, somewhat confusing.” (Ranker) The other ghost seen by Helen’s son was not mentioned by the psychic. The psychic did say there was a Sir George from England who married a woman named Lady Margaret, but they died almost 200 years later (in 1750) than the psychic stated and also in England. Not sure why their spirits traveled all the way to NY to haunt a random Victorian house. All in all, the Ackley’s coexisted with their extended ghostly family and life went on as normal. The ghosts would even leave she and her family little gifts. Helen wrote to Reader’s Digest regarding her haunted abode. The piece was published in the May 1977 issue of the magazine. The Ackley’s, particularly Helen herself, wasn’t quiet about their house being haunted. They pretty much told anyone who would listen.

All of this information might seem a little blasé, but the ensuing court battle over the sale of the above location is very interesting.


Legally Haunted

Your house is a little haunted. Not terribly so. Perhaps you hear the occasional voice or see the odd personal artifact levitate out of the corner of your eye. Clearly, the spirit you’re living with is harmless as it hasn’t tried to harm you or your family. You’ve just been living with the odd occurrences, the bumps in the night and voices calling out from darkened rooms since you purchased the house a few years ago. It’s really no big deal for you and your family and you’ve come to find the activity of the mischievous ghostly residents to be endearing and sometimes even humorous. Now, you play along. So do your kids, asking the ghosts to move specific objects and even purchasing a Ouija Board in an effort to make that communication even easier. You’ve mentioned the activity to your neighbors and find out that there was a mass murder in your living room. Before you know it, your house is a stop on a murder tour and a ghost walk. The local paper does a story on your house that winds up on the front page.

One day, you receive your property assessment in the mail and are stunned to see that you could actually make a killing if you sold your home. You’d get a return of almost twice what you paid and the idea is too good to pass up. You call your real estate agent and they list the house, leaving the haunting out of your conversation. You find a buyer in a matter of weeks who puts down a hefty down payment and you move into a new house (sadly, without the ghostly friends you’ve made), moving blissfully along in the ebb and flow of everyday life. That is, until your phone rings and you find out your sale isn’t going through. The buyer is threatening to take you to court! Apparently, you failed to disclose the ghosts and the new occupants don’t appreciate having breakfast with the dead. The flickering lights, voices, and handprints in the steam on the shower door make them uneasy. They want out.


A similar situation happened to Jeffrey Stambovsky in 1990 when he attempted to purchase a home in Nyack, NY, close to Sleepy Hollow.

From Atlas Obscura, “Helen and George Ackley, who lived in the home for more than 20 years, reported that they had seen a ghost in the house on at least one occasion and that they would be awoken every morning by a shaking bed, but otherwise lived in peace with whatever spirits resided in their home. When they decided to move and sold the house in 1990, they didn’t bother to tell the new buyers about the ghost problem.”

If your house is haunted, are you legally obligated to disclose this information to potential buyers? In some states, AZ, for example, your real estate agent doesn’t need to disclose any violent death or suicide on the property, but they ARE obligated to tell you if the house you’re about to purchase is haunted.

“With $32,500 in escrow, Jeffrey and Patrice Stambovsky backed out of the contract when they learned that the house was haunted. When the Ackley’s refused to refund the deposit, the Stambovskys sued, leading to what would come to be known as the “Ghostbusters” ruling. The New York Appellate court ruled that, because a routine home inspection would never uncover it, sellers must disclose that a house is haunted to potential buyers.” Atlas Obscura

On Ellis Sotheby’s International Realty homepage, I did see mention that the seller (Ackley) did ask the real estate agent to disclose the haunted history of the property and the agent did give this information to the buyers. The buyers joked that they would just “call in the Ghostbusters.” The film had just hit theaters at the time. It was a little while later that the Stambovsky’s had a change of heart and backed out of the sale. The New York Supreme court ruled in 1991 that 1 LaVeta Place is officially a haunted house and, whenever the property is sold the seller must let the buyer know that the location is legally, without a shadow of a doubt, haunted.

Haunted Happenings

The Ackley’s claimed to have experienced/witnessed several paranormal phenomena while living in the home. There have been two confirmed deaths in the home. Helen’s husband passed away in the home (his name was George, not to be confused with Sir George) as did a young dinner guest who suddenly suffered a brain aneurysm. According to many sources I came across, Helen herself perpetrated the rumors of the house being haunted and the home was never actually haunted at all.

Cynthia (one of Helen and George’s children,) reported that her bed would shake each morning to wake her for school. One evening before the start of spring break, Cynthia told the spirit that she wanted to sleep in the next day as it was spring break and she didn’t have school. The bed did not shake the following morning.

Helen’s sons would often be given coins by the spirits and would find them throughout the house.

Cynthia received a pair of silver sugar tongs from the spirits.


To Buy or Not to Buy

What’s the market for a haunted house? I feel as if homes that are reported as haunted don’t stay on the market for too terribly long as long as they’re in decent shape, but with the rise of the sale of haunted literally everything on eBay and the conversion of many locations into haunted attractions, I can’t imagine it would be difficult to sell your haunted house. Who might buy a house with a dark past (or even a supposed dark past?) Again, those looking to make a quick buck might snap up a haunted house that’s in a decent location and open it for tours. Otherwise, Halloweenies, though people who decorate their cubicles at work for Halloween before August has even peeked its head out, would be ideal buyers.

Alejandro Rojas, a Writer, blogger, video and podcast host had this to say about haunted houses and their selling potential.

“If you are looking to sell your haunted house, you could turn this into a marketing opportunity. In a recent story in Realtor Magazine, a real estate agent in Omaha, Nebraska did just that. In his listing description, instead of focusing on the great backyard or the newly renovated kitchen, he focused on the house’s haunted reputation.

Unfortunately, the owners took the house off of the market before it sold. They claimed the haunting had turned violent, so they had to get out quick and decided to turn the house into a rental. However, the real estate agent says his marketing strategy created a lot of interest.”


As someone who has lived with other creatures that go bump in the night (ghosts included,) I can honestly say that I’d absolutely buy a house with a haunted past. How about you?


S4 Ep. 5: Razzle-Dazzle Demons

How can you explain away a paranormal experience as sleep paralysis when it seemed so real? Can you be sued if you fail to disclose your house is haunted before selling it? This week, Katie continues her tale of the shadow man with a part 2 that will blow your mind. Janine takes us to Nyack, NY and the Haunted House on the Hudson (a story featured in the May 1977 issue of Reader’s Digest.)

This episode contains talk of demonic possession, creepy “demon fuckers,” a little of the ‘ol razzle-dazzle, a haunted Victorian-era home, and some gifty ghosts.


Our podcast is available wherever you binge! Find us on PodBean HERE

Get Social!

Facebook: The ODDentity Podcast


IG and Twitter: @oddentitypod



Reader’s Digest (May, ’77) P. 217

PREVIEW: The Vanishing Hitchhiker Podcast

This week Janine has something special for ODDentity Podcast listeners, a sneak peek at her new podcast The Vanishing Hitchhiker! Don’t worry, the ODD Pod will return with new episodes very soon. Janine and Katie are just dealin’ with life at the moment.

If you like The Vanishing Hitchhiker, stay tuned! A channel and more episodes will be available soon.


Wikipedia (High Beams)

Black-Eyed Kids (BEK’s)

It’s late at night and you’re at home enjoying a little television after a long day at work when you hear a heavy knock at your door. You’re not expecting anyone, but you go to see who might be calling at this hour. Maybe it’s an emergency? You make your way to the front door as the small hairs on the back of your neck begin to rise, a feeling of unease sweeping over you. You look through the peephole and are surprised to see two small children standing on your porch. They can’t be more than 9 or 10 years old and dressed in clothing that looks old and worn. You open the door slightly to ask what’s wrong. One of the children says they’re lost and have nowhere to go. They’re cold, tired, and need to use your telephone. They beg you to let them inside, beg for an invitation to enter. You notice as they step into the light of the porch lamp that their eyes are completely black. Will you let them in? They’re just children…right?

The earliest account of BEK’s in the USA dates back to the 1950s. A boy named Harold was walking home late at night when he encountered a small boy standing alone by a fence. Harold lives in a small town where everyone knows one another, but he doesn’t recognize this boy. Harold asks the boy his name and why he’s standing out here alone, but the boy refuses to answer these questions and instead demands that Harold take him back to his house. Harold then notices the blackness of the boy’s eyes and runs as fast as he can back home to tell his parents. Harold’s father, in the most ridiculous overreaction ever, goes to find the boy with a shotgun in hand. Harold’s mother, believing that the boy has come into contact with the devil, immediately calls the local priest to have him blessed.

Research done by David Weatherly, a writer, and paranormal investigator, for his book The Black Eyed Children ( dates BEK’s back as far as ancient China. He states that these children are being seen all over the world and are most often attired in old fashioned clothing. Their skin is startlingly pale and they speak in monotone. Weatherly also writes that BEK’s have been spotted prior to major natural disasters, in a similar manner that the Mothman appeared prior to the Silver Bridge Collapse in West Virginia.

Stories of BEK’s are many and varied, but how many of these tales are rooted in actual fact and how many are simply urban legends that have been told and retold? How many can be chalked up to the mind playing tricks on a dark night, waking dreams, poor word of mouth or simply just Creepy Pasta contamination? Many popular accounts of interactions with these beings have been eaten up by the internet, lending them very little in the way of credibility. Many times, a family pet will have some sort of reaction to the otherworldly visitors, barking and snarling in a way that’s out of character or outside the norm. Is this fact added for credibility or do these reactions have a basis in fact?

In 1996, in Abilene, TX, journalist Brian Bethel was heading to the offices of Camalott Communications, his internet service provider. He intended on dropping a payment for his current bill into the after-hours slot—it was between 9:30 and 10 pm at night. He parked his car next to a movie theater close by and proceeded to finish filling out the check when he heard a knock on his window. When he looked up, two boys roughly 9 and 12 years of age were standing by his car. The older one was olive-skinned with curly dark hair and the younger was a redhead, freckles peppering his pale skin. Both wore hoodies with the hoods up. The older boy explained to Bethel that they were going to see the new Mortal Kombat movie, but had left their money at his mother’s house and requested that Bethel take them there to retrieve it so that they could purchase their tickets. It was already late in the evening and Bethel could see on the marquee that the last showing of the evening had already begun and there was no way he could get them back in time. Bethel claims that the entire time he was in the presence of the two boys, he felt extreme unease and fear. The older boy continued to try and convince Bethel that he should open the car doors and let them in, saying pointedly that they were just kids and were unarmed. At this point, Bethel finally notices the boy’s eyes and feels his blood run cold. Their eyes are completely black and, as Bethel describes, “soulless.” He mutters some excuse and throws the car into gear, pulling away quickly. When he has finally choked down some of the fear caught in his throat he glances into the rearview mirror. The two boys have disappeared.

Bethel shared his experience with a select few, but once the internet catches wind of the tale it spreads like wildfire. His ordeal has even been featured on a few television shows including a travel show on the Destination America Channel. Bethel says he’s made no money from his story. ( In 2013, he recounts his experience with the BEK’s in the Abilene Reporter. Bethel writes:

“What did I see?

Your guess is literally as good as anyones. I’ve had everything from vampires to demons to ghosts to aliens to a somewhat-detailed hallucination posited as possibilities.

I do feel like I can say this with some authority: This was back in the day when freaky coal-black contacts weren’t widely available to a couple of kids in Abilene, Texas, for anything under a small fortune.

And there wasn’t enough time to even put such things on in the short time I broke the spokesman’s gaze if they could afford them.

Will I ever know for certain what I saw?

Probably not.

Do I ever care to see them again?

Hell, no.

As much as I still don’t know about what happened that night and why here’s one thing that I do know. It’s a gut feeling, but one that rises to a level of almost certainty.

If I had given the spokesman and his friend a ride on that long-ago evening, I don’t think I would be here to type this now.

End of story.”

Bethel still remembers the voice of the older boy calling out as he drove away.

“We can’t come in unless you invite us!”

BEK’s seem to prey on the human need to nurture and protect, asking to come inside, to be invited in, in order to call their parents. They might say they’re lost or scared and don’t know their way back home. Many stories relating to interactions with BEK’s are from the perspective of a child or happen specifically to young people. Is it because they think that children will relate to them better in their current form?

In Louisiana, at a gas station, a man sees 2 children approach on bikes. It’s late and he’s already locked up for the night, he’s just counting the till before shutting off the lights. The children drop their bikes on the pavement and call out to the man, asking to be let in. He can’t just leave two kids outside like that all alone in the middle of nowhere, so he opens the door and lets them inside. They ask to use the telephone to call their mother, but when the man hands one of the children his flip phone, she says, “I need a real one!” The man directs them to the payphone just outside the door. He feels uneasy at the presence of these two and ushers them out, locking the door behind them. They use the phone briefly and then stand to stare at the man through the locked door. Eventually, they turn and get back on their bikes, seemingly disappearing into the darkness.

In Ohio, 2 teenagers tried to gain entry into a data center. A report collected by authorities states that the boys asked to use the phone via the CCTV system and an intercom that was manned by a night watchman. Nobody was allowed inside the center after hours and, though the teens tried to gain entry, they ultimately could not. The watchman says that when he looked into their faces on the closed-circuit system, he couldn’t make out their pupils and their eyes appeared entirely black. When the boys couldn’t gain entry, one went around the back of the building while the other stayed in the front and stared into the security cameras for a long time, unblinking. Finally, both boys disappeared from view and were not seen on any of the cameras again. The watchman called the police, but by the time they arrived, the boys were long gone. They tried to review the security footage, but it appeared as if the system had been turned off.

Anthony Milhorn is a paranormal investigator with a branch of The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) in Arizona. He seems to take some strong stances on paranormal phenomena, particularly orbs and offers psychological explanations for the presence of BEK’s. According to Milhorn, there are several elements to consider. One is priming. When we read material that’s creepy or that we think might be paranormal in nature, we’re more inclined to be attentive to scenarios in your own life that might mirror what we’ve read. I guess it has something to do with the investment you’ve made into finding this information out. You took the time to do the reading and now it’s in your subconscious. It’s like when you’re looking for a new car and have a particular type in mind. You’ve been reading about it and doing research and suddenly that specific car is literally everywhere! They call that the Baader-Meinhof (pronounced badder mainhoff) phenomena and you’ve likely experienced it more than once. In the case of BEK’s, you might be more inclined to experience unease when speaking to teenagers or kids late at night who might need your help or demand your attention. Stephen Wegner, in an article on the website in an article titled “Black-Eyed Kids: Horror or Hoax,” says that, according to Milhorn, “Only an activator stimulus that is appropriately vague in the right circumstances sets off the connection between the knowledge in your brain and your senses, making a false connection between the two, and leading you to a flawed conclusion that isn’t supported by evidence.” (

Let us know in the comments what you think about the BEK phenomena. Are they just children playing a prank? Are they ghosts or demonic entities? Are they not of this world? If you’ve had experiences with these beings, please drop us a line at or leave us a comment here and, as always…

Stay Spooky!


Spiritualism and the Stickneys

Spiritualism is a topic I seem to keep coming back to. You might recall a past episode on which I spoke about the Fox sisters, the Stratford knockings and the practice of Spiritualism, but I think I should rehash a little bit to refresh your memory as to what Spiritualism actually is.

Spiritualism is a religious practice or a system of belief that is based upon supposed communications with the dead via a medium. Harry Houdini revealed that the Fox Sisters, Kate (12) and Leah (14) of Hydesville, NY, were simply adept at cracking their joints to simulate knocking noises and had no actual connection with the dead. The girls claimed to have communications with an entity in their home named Mr. Splitfoot (I’m assuming they meant the Devil) and eventually took their show on the road, ultimately making a lot of money through their ruse. He’d to go Spiritualist gatherings and show the assembled crowd exactly what was happening behind the curtain. Houdini was so frustrated with Spiritualists taking advantage of innocent people that he made it his personal mission to debunk every claim made by a Spiritualist who was attempting to swindle money from the bereaved or anyone else for that matter. Shady mediums in the 1850s lived with the fear that, one day, Houdini would enter their establishment, flip a table, and expose them for the charlatans that they were. He legit wasn’t fuckin’ around.

Are there legitimate Medium’s? Probably. We can’t exactly be sure as there’s no real way to measure a Medium’s abilities. With the invent of a little tool called the internet, anyone can Google their arses off and know all about every haunting ever. There are no real secrets anymore. Obviously, some are shadier than others *cough*Long Island Medium*cough* Sorry, I’ve got a bit of a tickle. Anyway, what I’m trying to get at here is Spiritualism is a pseudo-religious system. Spiritualists believe that Mediums are capable of communicating with spirits on the “other side” and relay that received information to their paying customers. Again, some are better than others. *cough*John Edward*cough* Sorry, guys. I think I need a lozenge.

I don’t want to spend a lot of time rehashing a lot of what I’ve already said about Spiritualism, though I do find it quite fascinating from a performative standpoint, but I do want to bring you another interesting tale worthy of our weird little podcast.

I present to you the Bull Valley Police Headquarters! Just stay with me here. I’m actually speaking of the George Stickney House or Stickney Mansion which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 and became the Bull Valley Police Headquarters in 1985. It’s a beautiful old building with an interesting past and the place is wonderfully spooky.

Entrance to the Stickney House (By MariahSTI2010 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

George and Silvia Stickney built the mansion in 1865, choosing a plot of land that was relatively isolated in order to facilitate their practice of Spiritualism. They were both accomplished Mediums and the seclusion offered by the Illinois countryside was perfect. The Stickneys had 10 children, only three making it to adulthood, and it’s believed that their spiritual leanings were due in large part to their children’s passing. They conducted séances to try and communicate with them. They held these events on the second floor of their home in what was, and still is, known as Sylvia’s ballroom. In the years since the Stickneys vacated Stickney Mansion, new owners have reported supernatural occurrences.

“The house itself was very unusual in its design. It has two stories, although the second floor was reserved for a ballroom that ran the entire length of the building. The house is actually very big for being built in the 1800s. Upstairs has two rooms, one with a bathroom, and down the hall is Sylvia’s ballroom that has three more rooms connecting to it. During the Civil War, the house also served as quarters for Federal soldiers and was home to the first piano in McHenry County.” The Stickneys insisted on adding distinctive features into the design of the house. These features, they assured the architect, would assist them when holding seances and gatherings at the property. They believed that spirits have a tendency to get stuck in 90-degree corners.”

Apparently, ghosts and corners don’t mix. They just sort of get stuck there and can’t navigate their way out. Sort of like me when I try to do a sit-up. It’s less fitness and more turtle that’s been flipped on its back. It might also be that the Stickneys believed that corners attracted evil spirits which was a common belief of Spiritualists during that time period. The home is designed to have no 90-degree angles between the walls at all. It is rumored that there was one 90-degree angle in the house which was the cause of George Stickney’s demise, but the house has been laboriously inspected and no 90-degree angles can be found within it. George’s death was undocumented, there is no official cause, though the legend states George found the corner and died of heart failure with a look of horror on his face.

The home changed hands a few times over the coming years. In the 60’s it was supposedly home to a group of hippies who spray-painted the walls and set fires in the middle of the floor. In the 1970s a man named Rodrick Smith purchased the house and claimed that the hippies who once resided there were devil worshippers. They may have painted the rooms gaudy colors and left drug paraphernalia in their wake, but I think devil worship is a stretch of the imagination. Smith was convinced that the hippies had changed the vibe of the house and he felt uncomfortable there. It is said that he only managed to stay in the house for a couple of nights before fleeing in terror. Apparently, Smith experienced paranormal activity (knocking, footsteps, disembodied voices…) and this caused him to sell the property. Eventually (sometime around 1988) Stickney Mansion became the headquarters for the Bull Valley Police Department.


Let’s get into a little of the paranormal activity experienced at Stickney Mansion. In 2005 Chief Norbert Sauers described several of his own experiences within Stickney Mansion as well as the experiences of some village employees. The employees have heard many strange noises throughout Stickney Mansion that defy explanation. Footsteps are sometimes heard on the second floor in the ballroom where Silvia held her many séances. The room is used for storage of village records today, but it once hosted lavish parties dedicated to communicating with the dead. The footsteps have also been heard in the stairwell. Sauers claims he’s heard “human-sounding noises or voices” and even hears toilets flushing when nobody else is around. Employees have caught glimpses of human forms reflected in their computer monitors while they’re working.  He’s personally experienced random items moving around on his desk, doorknobs turning and doors opening, and lights turning on and off. He’s also heard voices, having one particularly vocal ghost shout into his ear. Again, he was alone. Another police officer claims to have seen Stickney’s father-in-law appear before his eyes.

Visitors to the mansion have noted cold spots, strange mists, and noises. People who have driven by the building experience car trouble, either the car shutting off completely (in one case the fuel gauge showed empty when the driver had only just filled up) or finding it difficult to accelerate. After a few minutes, the car will turn back on again.

Is Stickney Mansion a haunted hot spot? Many paranormal investigators and enthusiasts believe that it is. I think there’s a lot of energy trapped in that house and, if you don’t believe me, you can ask the real estate agent who listed the home for sale for Rodrick Smith. He snapped photos of the home’s exterior for an online listing and, when he looked at the photos, he could clearly see an older woman looking out through an upstairs window. He insists the woman wasn’t there when he took the picture.

What do you think? Is the Bull Valley Police Station really haunted by the spirits conjured by the Stickneys? Are the Stickneys haunting the location themselves, unable to pass over? Drop us a line at or leave us a comment and, as always…

Stay Spooky!






S4 Ep. 4: Dark Energy
Whatever you do, don’t invite them in! This week, Janine talks about black eyed kids (otherwise known as BEK’s,) and Katie tells of a real paranormal event from her childhood.

This episode contains culty homeschooling, a hedge of protection, creepy small children in moth-eaten clothing, and a discussion of how much Katie’s new haircut makes her look like the dude from the “Aliens” meme.

Get Social!

Find us on Facebook: The ODDentity Podcast

Twitter and IG: ODDentityPod


Email us your favorite folklore tales, true paranormal stories, or let us know what you’d like us to cover in an upcoming episode! We’re always open to suggestions.