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Interview with Kathi Kresol of Haunted Rockford

Kathi Kresol has worked at the Rockford Public Library for years and loves sharing her enthusiasm for reading any way possible. She started teaching history using ghost stories when she homeschooled her children. Kathi loved the research and the ghost stories so much, she wanted to share them with the Rockford Community. She found the perfect solution in forming Haunted Rockford Paranormal Tours. It has allowed her to work with some great people from all over Illinois and Wisconsin. Kathi feels honored that she can share the stories of the men, women, and children who settled Rockford and gave so much to create such a rich history.

A lot has changed since our first interview in 2009 – Haunted Rockford is now an independent tour company, you began hosting the Illinois Paranormal Conference, and you started writing a regular column about Rockford history and legends for the Rock River Times. What do you think is your most significant achievement over the past five years?

I would definitely say that being fortunate enough to be able to indulge in my passion for history and my enthusiasm for the paranormal and combine those two into something I can share with others has been a major achievement. I love to hear people’s stories and to meet and work with some very interesting people has been a bonus to that. I am always fascinated to learn about the people who decide to make the Forest City their home. We have been fortunate to have many talented people who could have settled anywhere they chose in the whole Untied States, yet they thought that this area was where they could put down roots, raise their families, and become successful. I love to share the stories of the families who make up the rich tapestry of Rockford’s history.

Why did you decide to take the Haunted Rockford Tours independent? Was it a difficult transition? What are some of the new places you’ve added to the tour in recent years?

I started doing these events through the library just offering the tours in the fall. I was surprised in the interest people demonstrated and their desire to attend these has led me to expand the types and the frequency of the events. I live a very charmed life and the creation of Haunted Rockford, though challenging was not difficult. The most difficult issue has been the time I can invest. I am fortunate enough to also have a full-time day job that I absolutely love. Balancing the two has proven tricky at times.

I am constantly searching for new places that I can put in the rotation. This year, we added the Manny Mansion (which is the old Burpee Museum), Alden School House in Alden , Illinois and the Hope and Anchor British Pub. This summer we also added Haunted Bus tours to locations outside of Rockford. Our first trip was to Cherry, Illinois where there was a horrible mining accident.

Kathi Kresol, purveyor of Haunted Rockford events and tours

Kathi Kresol, purveyor of Haunted Rockford events and tours

What can attendees expect from the Illinois Paranormal Conference this year? Who are in the lineup for speakers, and will you have anyone returning from previous conferences?

I am very excited about the Conference! I will be co-hosting with Steve Litteral from Tinker Swiss Cottage. We had a great variety of speakers and vendors from different aspects of the Paranormal World. We will have author Rosemary Ellen Guiley, who has researched and written about a lot of different topics, Paranormal Investigator Melissa Tanner from TnT Paranormal, John Borowski, author Chad Lewis, Haunted Rockford’s own Paul Smith who will be talking about spirits he has discovered in his travels, and Chad and Travis from Greater Rockford Apparition and Ghost Group will be there to entertain us with their scary tales of places that they have visited. I love watching their videos!

We also have Psychic Cassidy Rae returning from last year. She is a 15 year old psychic who really impressed our audience last year by contacting their loved ones in a mini-gallery reading. We also will have many vendors joining: Paranormal Investigation Teams: PIM, Ghost Head Soup, and Dale Kaczmarek’s Ghost Research Society, Illinois Ghost Hunters, and Wisconsin and Illinois Paranormal Investigation Team will be there. We also have several authors that will be there, for example Stephen Osborne, and hopefully Michael Kleen will have copies of their books for sale.

In our last conversation, you couldn’t make up your mind about your favorite haunted place in Rockford. Is that still the case, or is there one in particular that has caught your attention?

No, I still love them all. I especially love going back to the places and continuing the research on the families that lived there. I really enjoy the variety of the types of events we offer. The Public Paranormal Investigations and the Paranormal Tours are both very popular. I always look forward to adding new places.

Haunted RockfordSeveral of your articles in the Rock River Times and in the recent anthology Secret Rockford have focused on true crime in the Rockford area. What do you think has been the most compelling case you’ve written about and why?

I find all of the stories very interesting but the one that has gotten under my skin would be th every first crime I ever looked into. It is the one that got me into researching these cases. It was the story of Geraldine Bourbon and her husband Lawrence. Geraldine left her husband in January of 1958 to stay with her sister Arlene, who lived on the West side of Rockford on School Street. She filed for divorce and thought she was getting a new start. Tragically, Lawrence broke into the house and shot Geraldine and then turned the gun on himself. Geraldine was only 28 years old and had two small children. I learned of her story when I moved into that same house with my family in 1988. It became very personal for me, partly because we had so much in common. It really brought home the fact that people like Geraldine, victims who have had so much taken from them, deserve to have their stories told.

Kat Klockow, one of our recent interviewees, observed that interest in the paranormal seems to have died down in the past several years. Have you found this to be the case. If so, what would explain the declining interest?

I would have to disagree with Kat Klockow’s statement. I have found the exact opposite to be true. This year will be my tenth year of offering tours in the Rockford area and it has definitely continued to grow. This has been our best year with most of our events selling out. I see new faces at every event and have a wonderful group of regulars who continue to support us with their attendance. I do think it has changed because people are a little more knowledgeable these days. They are not content with a story about cabinet doors moving any longer. They want the back story, the possible explanation of what might be causing that bump in the night. I think that is why it important to research the venues and offer new events for them to experience.

How can our readers get in touch with you if they would like to know more about Haunted Rockford Tours, the Illinois Paranormal Conference, or any of your other events?

People can visit the website at www.hauntedrockford.com to see our upcoming events, take part in our forums, purchase merchandise, and read some of my articles on local true crime and ghostly tales. We have a facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/hauntedrockford and we recently added a twitter page: https://twitter.com/HauntedRockford

Sorry guys, this page is copyright MysteriousHeartland.com, 2014. You do not have permission to copy this for any reason. Please learn how to cite your work. Unless otherwise noted, all photos are courtesy of Kathi Kresol.

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  1. […] company called me and asked if I could find other guests to be interviewed for show. Luckily, Kathi Kresol and the Forest City Paranormal Society were there to help. Although the episode turned out to be a […]

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