By Michelle Railey
1.) Hacienda, Mishawaka: Before it was a (wonderful) Mexican restaurant, Hacienda was a very large house (some call it a mansion). In this house lived a man, his wife, and a servant. The maid was rumored to be insane, pregnant (by the man of the house) or both. In her misery, she hanged herself in the attic, or maybe it was the basement. Some accounts say the husband shot himself; others say the wife shot him and then killed herself. The place has been said to have a “chilling aura” and all three tragically dead figures in this love triangle have been seen as ghosts in the restaurant. “Employees now report seeing soda fountains fill glasses on their own, toilets flushing, and flickering lights. Almost every employee, however, constantly hears a whispery ‘Job’s done, go home now.”'” A manager of the restaurant once said that when she closed the restaurant, “she would turn off the lights to the office and turn on the alarm. She would walk away and then look back, and the light would be back on. So she unscrewed the light bulb and put it in the middle of the floor. Well, she walked away once again and then looked back and the light was back on…That room is now closed off.”
2.) Indiana Repertory Theatre, Indianapolis: The IRT was founded in 1972. Its first artistic director had a habit of jogging indoors to avoid cold and rainy weather; He favored the “upstairs mezzanine. He was killed suddenly when his nephew hit him with the car as he was jogging (outdoors) on a foggy day. Now, on cold and rainy days, witnesses say you can hear the floorboards creak as his ghost jogs around the mezzanine.”
3.) French Lick Springs Hotel/West Baden Springs Hotel, French Lick: The beautifully restored mid-nineteenth century hotel that was once known as “the eighth wonder of the world” is also believed to be a specter-infested wonder of the world. The original owner, Thomas Taggart, is reputed to haunt the service elevator and to create havoc with the guest elevators. The departed Mr. Taggart is allegedly also responsible for inexplicable mists and scents of pipe and cigar tobacco. While living, he had been known to ride his horse through the hallways to the ballroom. “Today, people have seen a ghostly figure of horse and rider in the ballroom and have heard the sound of a horse trotting down the hall. Some of the hotel staff have also told us that when they clean up after parties or stand just outside the ballroom doors, they have heard the sounds of a party going on when no one is in the room: Sounds such as clinking china, voices and music.”
“Thomas Taggart’s daughter or daughter-in-law killed herself in the area between the Governor’s Suite and the President’s Suite, near a spiral staircase. There is still blood on the floor under the carpets.”
Haunted hotel rooms: A “room where a man jumped out the window and hanged himself. When his new bride discovered this gruesome scene she allegedly committed suicide in the bathtub…[T]he tub in that room has a recurring red stain whenever they try to replace it…” A sixth-floor room that calls the front desk when the room is not occupied. One time when this event occurred, the room didn’t even have a phone installed.”
The sixth and seventh floors: Also haunted. The sixth floor in particular “has a reputation among the cleaning staff. So much so that they are reluctant to work up there alone or at all. There have been stories of shadows moving down the hall, the sounds of footsteps, a woman’s laughter, and cold breezes rushing by.” The seventh floor has a womanly white figure floating in the hallways. And hallways in the hotel, generally speaking, have at times been the site of sightings of the past manager who had once committed suicide in a bathtub, of a very popular bellhop, of a former visitor who had won large sums of money at the casino only to be killed for his winnings (in the hotel, of course) and is still looking for his lost cash.
The north service elevator has, or so it’s said, devils painted in its shaft with no idea about who put them there. A former employee known as Charlie Skaggs was discovered “dead at the bottom of an elevator shaft. Charlie is said to be a friendly spirit [who] talks to guests. A convention of police officers was visiting the hotel, and wrote a thank you note which said ‘Tell Charlie we said hello.’ There was no one employed by the hotel with the name ‘Charlie’ at that time.”
Notable other haunted French Lick spots include Taggart’s former home, a mansion on top of Mount Aire, and the cemetery, here the beating heart of a murdered girl can still be heard beating at the tomb.
4.) Wilson House, Medora: The site of the home of the Creed Wilson family has been said to be haunted ever since their son, Aesop, was killed in the Civil War. Aesop’s distraught mother placed his casketed remains in the upstairs hallway and would sit next to it, daily, knitting and “talking to her dead son.” After Dr. Wilson consulted a psychic, Aesop told his mother to bury his body by the cedar trees near the house. In 1873, this was done. To this day, white wraith-like figures gather. They can be seen; their moaning has been heard.
5.) “The Old Castle,” Merom: Here, it is said, on the grounds where the home known as “the old castle” burned to the ground, roams the ghost of an old maid. She will be recognized be her old shirt, tattered long skirt, old and floppy hat, and the still-smoking pipe in her phantom mouth.
6.) “The White Castle,” Rockford: It is difficult to find information about this online but there was, reputedly, an old, large house called “the White Castle.” Here, the dining room had been observed to change color of its own accord.
7.) Cline Avenue, Hammond: A ghostly bride known as “Sophia” who had been murdered near Cline Avenue has been observed, still in white. At times, the ghost of a mother with her baby has been seen, too. The mother is said to have purchased milk on this street without paying for it for three days straight. On the third day, the clerk of the milk-store followed the phantom mother to her graveyard, where she vanished into the grave. The mother’s body was there; the baby was alive. Cline Avenue is crowded: La Llorona has been seen there and a woman who lost her young children in a car accident is “searching still.”
8.) Ghost Hollow or “Heady’s Hollow,” State Road 13, Hamilton County: On State Road 13 near Fishers, headless horsemen, unseen (but heard) horsemen, and ghost horses have been observed. There is also the form of a woman clothed in a white robe. She is always weeping.
9.) Bonds Chapel, Orangeville: The chapel has a light “floating in it” at night. The cemetery has a “chain grave” where the tombstone has the marks of a chain on it (not engraved; it just appears). The stories say it adds a link every year. Legend says if you touch the stones, you will pass away (and you probably will, eventually). One story holds that the stone belongs to a slave who was killed by his master, whipped with his own chain. (The slave’s wife cursed the master, quite rightfully, and the chain will never go away). Another story says it is the stone of an Army man who was killed in battle and buried as his beloved watched him lowered into the ground from across the road. Some say the chain stretches from the grave across the ground and glows in the dark. Some say a woman in black who is not solid stands across the street, looking at the chain. And some say the headstones in the Bonds Chapel Cemetery form nocturnal cross formations: things seen but not there. (And nearby, in Orleans, there is another tombstone with a spectral chain. Orange County is fond, allegedly, of links.)
10.) Springs Valley, French Lick: Listen for a beating heart you can’t actually see. The beating heart marks the spot where a giant was slain.
11.) Stepp Cemetery, Martinsville: Is it a wife guarding her husband’s grave or is it the mother of a decapitated girl, or a child lost in an auto accident? It’s difficult to tell: ghosts don’t speak much, but in this forgotten and crumbling cemetery near State Road 37, a ghostly female (often in black) is seen, at nights, mourning forever. She sits on a tree stump shaped like a chair. And warns away necking teenagers who might park nearby. Allegedly.
12.) Spook Light Hill, Highway 40 between Terre Haute and Brazil: There are headless ghosts here. The identity varies: is the ghost searching for its head or searching for a dead daughter? And the lights! There’s a ghostly car flashing its headlights (always three times before vanishing); or maybe it’s a lantern, or maybe it’s gas from elm stumps (also known as swamp gas or fox fire). And maybe the lights are wills-o-the-wisp. The legends vary but there are spooks and/or spook lights on that hill.
13.) The Willard, Franklin: A house, then a hotel, and now a restaurant. Some say the Willard carries the “raciest” ghost story in Indiana, haunted by Eliza and Rose and Robert; a story that reaches back to 1924:
“The venerable old brick two-story house that would be the site of the hotel was called the ‘Old McCaslin House’ back then. Eliza, Sarah and Will Judah finally opened the very best hotel in Indianapolis’ Southside in 1924.
“They flourished along with the lovely new hotel, and soon, tall, handsome Mr. Robert Black began a dignified courtship with Eliza that endured for an extended period. Then Rose came to town. Rose was Eliza’s sister, a bad girl who showed up at the Franklin Train Station with a gambling debt and a chip on her shoulders. Soon Robert began to change and Eliza began to suspect he was going off with her ne’er-do-well sister. One fateful day in the cool of October, Eliza heard a crash in the kitchen, walked in and discovered Robert and Rose together on the kitchen table, ‘in full coital compromise,’ the unmistakable aroma of tequila filling the air.
“The rest of the story is as insubstantial as the fog that surrounded the hotel on that fateful day. Some say Rose bade her time until she could exact her deepest revenge. Others say she simply ran everyone out of the hotel and lived her life out as an empty husk of the vibrant person who, for so many years in her youth, had looked forward to so much.”
And, according to some, Eliza walks there still, sad, and forever angry. A woman betrayed.
In addition to all things linked, see Ronald L Baker, Hoosier Folk Legends. Bloomington, 1982.