The following are true stories of some of Coles County’s most famous haunted houses.
The “Anderson” Farmhouse
In 1982 the Daily Eastern News ran a story about an abandoned farmhouse in rural Coles County that neighbours—and visitors—claimed was haunted by the angry spirit of a family patriarch.
In the winter of 1955, the legend goes, the Anderson family sat down to dinner as they had every night before, with their grandfather seated at the head of the table. Without warning, the grandfather died, and in his last moments his face splashed down into his soup. The Anderson family—now only a man, his wife, and their two children—hardly waited for their grandfather’s body to be in the ground before they abruptly left their home and all their belongings. They moved to parts unknown, and their farmhouse has sat abandoned ever since… with its table still set for dinner.
Vandals and curiosity seekers soon took over the farmhouse. According to the Daily Eastern News, “neighbours say that blue lights sometimes illuminate the inside of the house and that shadows and human shapes can occasionally be seen through the windows.” Local teens and students at Eastern Illinois University gleefully trespassed to see all the items the Anderson family left behind, and perhaps to meet a ghost. On more than one occasion, these visitors found themselves locked inside a room as the door mysteriously closed on its own. If you happen to come across this weather-beaten home, be careful that grandpa’s ghost doesn’t trap you as well.
The Hunt Poltergeist
During the 1960s and ‘70s, paranormal activity plagued an unassuming farmhouse in Pleasant Grove Township between the village of Lerna and the tiny community of Trilla. This farmhouse, though it no longer exists, was once afflicted by a poltergeist that only abated after several exorcisms. The family residing in the home, who remain anonymous, had bought the land in 1960 in order to try their hand at farming. Odd things began to happen, but the family brushed them off as coincidences. It wasn’t until they discovered that pounds of rat poison were disappearing without any sign of dead rats that they knew something was wrong.
After that, their youngest son, Joseph, started seeing the ghost of a woman in his room. “She’d be standing in front of his closet and would point outside and tell him to dig,” his mother told the Daily Eastern News. These incidents attracted attention, and the family asked several local psychics to walk through the house. The psychics said it was haunted by three spirits, including one by the name of Nora Hunt—a previous owner. Locals whispered rumours that, in life, Nora had a cruel streak and used to torture dogs in her yard. After she died, her soul refused to leave.
In the summer of 1980, the family turned to a Methodist minister named Franklin Ogdon, who performed two “exorcisms” on the residence. They prayed together in each room, hoping to dispel the poltergeist. Eventually, the frustrated family moved to Charleston and tore down the farmhouse. The novel A Family Possessed: A Ghost Story by L.W. Stevenson is based on these events.
The Tycer Home
Dennis F. Hanks, a cousin of Abraham Lincoln, once owned this 157 year old home located near the corner of Jackson Avenue and 2nd Street in Charleston. During the 1960s and ‘70s, it was widely reputed to be haunted by his ghost. Adding to its mystique, the basement contained a dungeon-like room with barred windows and 12 fasteners to hold shackles.
In 1965, Marie and Forster [Forrester] Tycer purchased the home, renovated it, and turned it into a museum. They lived there for five years, furnished it with antiques, and allowed groups to tour the historic home. During that time, the Tycers were convinced that they shared the property with a lively ghost. Mr. Tycer told the Eastern News that he was doing some electrical work in the basement when he lost his balance and almost fell into the wiring. He claimed that unseen hands pushed him away and saved his life.
Mrs. Tycer saw the reflection of the ghost in a mirror or window as she was painting the porch. She turned around, but found that she was alone. She also heard footsteps and claimed the ghost unlocked doors. In 1970, Mrs. Tycer committed suicide with a gunshot to the head in an upstairs bedroom. According to legend, the bloodstains continued to reappear no matter how many times they were scrubbed away.
The next family to live in the home occupied it for quite some time and never experienced anything out of the ordinary, or so they told the Eastern News in 1977. It appeared as if the ghost of Dennis Hanks departed along with the Tycers, but no one knows whether Mr. Hanks or Mrs. Tycer still stalk the halls to this day.