This is an extended version of our interview with Kathi Kresol that we featured in the June 2009 issue of the Legends and Lore of Illinois.
1. How long have you conducted the Haunted Rockford Tours? When does the tour run and how did you get involved in it?
This will be the fourth year for the Haunted Rockford Tours. The tour runs in October for three weekends. I was the Young Adult advisor a few years ago and the teens in the group suggested it. I had been doing unofficial ones with my own children for years. I pitched the idea to my boss and she gave me the go ahead. The first year we were only going to do one bus to see how well it would go but the bus filled up in two days! We decided to open another one and are now up to three weekends!
I am very proud of the fact that we offer these quality tours at no charge. The bus is generously donated by Pearson Plumbing and the psychics offer their services at discount prices. I have been on ghost tours all over the country and that helped me have the vision for what I wanted to do here in Rockford.
2. Tell me a little bit about the tour of Rockford College. When did you go there? Who was the psychic that you took with?
We took the tour to Rockford College last fall (2008). I read the stories online and interviewed Jeff Hendry (he was very helpful). I worked with a very kind gentleman, Chuck Brown who worked with me to get permission to bring our tour there. I took Mark Dorsett and Denise Guzzardo along as my psychics for the tour.
3. How did the audience respond to the tour? Did any of them report seeing something odd?
I received a lot of positive feedback from the tour. Everyone is always so nice and we have quite a few people who come every year. There was a girl who smelled lilac perfume in the theatre when we were there. Amber (my daughter) took some pictures of the residence hall and we noticed that there were a few lights on in the building. After the tour when we compared photos, the lights had changed.
4. Which is your favorite of the haunted places at Rockford College and why?
I love the old frescos in the theatre building… they are spooky! I think my favorite place is the side walk on the way to the residence hall, it’s kind of creepy… especially at night.
5. What is your favorite haunted place in Rockford generally?
It would be hard for me to choose a favorite haunted place in Rockford. I love the Rockford Register Star building (especially the apartment). The Coronado is also wonderful. I am attracted to the history of those two places. Emma Jones house is definitely toward the top of my list, as are Cedar Bluff and Greenwood cemeteries.
As far as personal experience goes… my old house on School Street would be the scariest place. I felt true evil in that house and I believe o this day that the house doesn’t want anyone to live there.
6. What led you to believe that your house was haunted?
We bought the house in 1988. It was perfect for our growing family. When we bought the house the lady mentioned that every family had someone die in the house. Her husband died in the dining room. He had cancer and they brought him home to die.
I just half-listened because we knew it was an old farm house and of course, there was a good chance someone had died there.
Let me start by saying, I never saw anything in that house. It was feelings and noises but no actual sightings. A lot of the stuff that happened was very subtle. We had a paper towel roll on the wall ( I think my ex husband had made it in shop class) When we put the new roll on …it would empty out. The whole thing. We would replace the towels and step away and when we came back, the towels would be on the floor in a neat little pile. This was when the children were still too young to reach it.
We had a little dog that what ever is in the house took extra pleasure in torturing the poor thing. We had a hook and eye on the outside of our bedroom door. One day I was working with a friend in the down stairs dining room and the dog keep nipping at his feet. He finally had enough and yelled at the dog to knock it off. Well, the dog moved away. A few minutes later we heard him howling from upstairs. He was in our room with the door locked. There was no one else home at the time so I still don’t know how he got the door unlocked, went into the room and then locked it again.
There were times when I would run to pick up the kids from school and I know that the dog was in the house and when I got back, he would be sitting on the back porch, waiting to go in.
I went to the library and looked through the microfilm archives and found an article on a murder-suicide that took place there.
What I didn’t tell you was that my husband (like the man in the newspaper) was an alcoholic. When all that came to a head for our family, I was the same age as the woman that was killed. I don’t know if it was the anger and fighting that woke up whatever is in that house or it was there all along.
I just know that there is something bad in that house. I was so obsessed with the story, I called the funeral home and talked to them about Geraldine. The husband’s body was shipped to Arizona. She is buried in Rockton cemetery. I went to visit her grave.
Luckily, our story didn’t end the same way theirs did. My husband went into treatment and things got better for us.
We left the house in 1998. We keep some things there and when we would come in the kitchen faucet would be running. My husband just got to the point where he shut the water off to the house. The house has a dark feel to it. It’s a real shame because, it was a beautiful house.
My ex still plans on remodeling the house. When we spoke recently, I asked him about it. I still feel that something is there… just waiting for someone to move back in.
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