Willow Creek Farm in Shannon, Illinois

Willow Creek Farm in Carroll County, Illinois. Photo by Michael Kleen

Read about this location and more in Legends and Lore of Illinois: The Definitive Collection

Willow Creek is an unassuming farm in rural Carroll County, just outside the town of Shannon. In recent years, it has been the subject of at least a dozen different paranormal investigations, all of which have uncovered a treasure trove of mysterious phenomenon both of the visual and auditory variety. The farmhouse itself is said to be haunted by at least seven ghosts or spirits. Since Albert Kelchner, its current owner, moved there in 2006 to get away from the big city, he has kept a careful record of all the unusual events that have happened in the past several years.

The farm has a long history, dating back to the 1830s when the Boardmans settled on the property. William and Mary Boardman came from England in 1835 and made their way to Rockford when the future city was merely a trading post along the wagon trail from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River. In 1838, William staked out a claim in Section 10, Cherry Grove Township in Carroll County and built a log cabin. This log cabin was still standing in the 1920s. William then left to retrieve his family, who had stayed in Rockford. Unfortunately, a claim jumper got wind of William’s activities and rode ahead on horseback. He arrived in Dixon before William and stole part of the claim.

William and Mary had many children, among them was a daughter named Mary, who married a man named David Holmes, who was born in Leistershire, England. The two had a daughter named Margaret Etta Holmes. Margaret married Frank Zier on December 31, 1889. The Zier family remained in possession of the farm until they went bankrupt in the 1980s. The property then went through several owners until Mr. Kelchner bought it in 2006 and christened it Willow Creek Farm.

According to records, the farmhouse dates to 1878, however, there is reason to believe it was built as much as a decade earlier, since it appears on an 1869 plat map.

Mr. Kelchner, with the help of several psychics and mediums, has identified and named seven distinct ghosts, including several others lacking a strong presence. The main otherworldly inhabitant of the farm-house is a woman named Sarah. She wears a blue floral print dress with an apron, and is sometimes seen wearing the kind of lady’s black boots fashionable in the 1800s. There is no question as to whether she is the matron of the house. Another often-felt presence is that of an African American man called “Joe” who inhabits the basement under the family room. He is said to hide under the stairs.

Probably the most disturbing presence is that of the “creep” or “creeper.” He was a reverend or doctor in life, and exibits a powerfully negative energy, especially to women. He has been felt in the northwest bedroom, where some psychics believe he might be imprisoning another ghost—a 10 to 12-year old boy named “Robbie.” Robbie is thought to have died of a prolonged illness.

Much could be written about Willow Creek Farm, but this much is certain: it has caught the attention of many paranormal investigative groups from all corners of Illinois. We are likely to hear a lot more about this mysterious place in the future.


Legends and Lore of Illinois Vol. 4 Digital Edition

Or, order all 11 issues of the Legends and Lore of Illinois from 2010 in a special digital edition for your favorite e-readers. Places covered in Vol. 4 include Western Illinois University’s Simpkins Hall, the Seventh Avenue Dead End, Willow Creek Farm, Vishnu Springs, the Cambridge Death Curve, Crybaby Bridge, Archer Avenue, Rockford College, and more. Plus, read letters from our readers, the latest adventures of The Fallen, skeptic’s corner, and put your knowledge of these locations to the test with challenging trivia questions. Don’t miss these classic issues from the archives of the Legends and Lore of Illinois.


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