One of the nights I was in Watseka I was able to go to the after party for their production of The Barber of Seville. Jamison came up to me at one point and goes:
Jamison: Hey, you wanna go to a haunted house?
Me: Ummmm... like with fake fog and cobwebs and people jumping out at you?
Jamison: No no, like, the Discovery channel has been there and done tests and all.
Me: Oh yeah, sure, I'm in!
Apparently one of the coordinators for the Sugar Creek festival owns a house that has quite an interesting past. The actual tale of Mary Roff, including the possession of Lurancy Vennum (doesn't that sound like someone in Harry Potter who would be in the Slytherin house?), is quite a long one. It would be better for you to visit the website here to get the whole scoop instead of trying to muddle through what would inevitably be the truncated and probably partially fabricated version I pull from my memory. Or, if you are my mother, you can go here to learn about the architecture, renovation, and general non-ghosty history of the actual house. For those of you that don't want to do either, here is the brief brief history in a nutshell from the website:
Called "America's first documented case of spiritual posession," the "Watseka Wonder" is the name given to the strange case of the possession of a young Lurancy Vennum by the spirit of Mary Roff, the daughter of a founder of the small town of Watseka.
As documented by an eyewitness account and later retold in the 1977 novel "Watseka," Mary died suddenly in 1865 at age 19, only to come back 12 years later to possess the body of 14-year-old Lurancy Vennum.
The tale, well known in Watseka and Iroquois County, has also been the subject of writings by philosopher William James, Troy Taylor ("Weird Illinois" and "The Possessed") and most recently the subject of the documentary "The Possessed" by the Booth Brothers.
The Roff Home, where Lurancy lived for 100 days when she believed herself to be possessed by the spirit of Mary Roff, still stands in Watseka today and is currently undergoing an extensive renovation to return it to its former glory.
*Photo disclaimer: I didn't really take a lot of pictures, and the ones I did were with my camera phone and tiny little flash, so sorry about the quality.*
Going up the stairs
Story time in the basement! It is also speculated that there were a lot of murders in this basement and that the bodies were all buried under the oak trees in the back yard.
GHOST!!!!! Oh... no, Jamison just needs a tan
So I have to say that I didn't really see anything or hear anything or feel anything while I was at the house, but some of the other people would say things like: "oh, something happened in that room, I can just tell" or "there is a darkness near the stair case." Yeah, no shit there is darkness, we are walking in a basement with the lights off... so, darkness indeed. I had a fun time and got to hang out with Jamison, though, so I guess it was worth being out until 3 in the morning in a haunted house. A haunted house that's been on the Discovery channel!