Wednesday, February 06, 2008

What's Time to a Walker House Ghost?

Ghosts are an extention of the self...nothing scary...our ghosts are cool as hell...

This picture is a courtesy of SlightlyWarped, not a picture of the Walker House Ghosts

This following is an excerpt from Prarie Ghosts Website, although this article is published throughout the internet, this was the first place I saw it and the only credit I found was "Copyright 2001 by Troy Taylor". Whether this is the author of this article or the websites copyright I have not figured out being that I have found the story in various spots with this being the only credit given.

"...It was built in 1836 and did a brisk business for many years, serving as a meeting house for men from all over the region. On November 1, 1842, a public hanging took place at the Walker House and a man named William Caffee was executed for shooting another man in an argument. The hanging was a strange and bizarre affair with the condemned man being brought to the inn astride his coffin, beating out the tune of a funeral march with empty beer bottles. He was a man that would be remembered in Mineral Point for many year and while no one would realize it at the time..... death would not keep William Caffee from showing up again at the Walker House.

In 1957, the inn closed it's doors and stood vacant for over seven years, abandoned to ruin and vandalism. In 1964, the building was purchased by Ted Landon and he was intent on restoring the place to it's former glory. As Landon began work on the restoration of the building, strange incidents started to occur that seemed to have no explanation, including sounds of heavy breathing and mysterious footsteps.

In 1974, the tavern and inn re-opened but things did not go well for Landon and his partners and in 1978, they sold the place to a Dr. David Ruf. He would place the management of the place in the hands of Walker Calvert, the man who would encounter the resident ghost more times than anyone else.

The strange sounds continued to be reported in the building, along with voices that came from nowhere and actual apparitions like that of a headless man who Calvert spotted in the dining room in 1981 . The spirit stayed visible for several minutes, wearing a rumpled gray suit of miner's clothing, and then vanished. A short time later, another ghost (this one with a head) was spotted on the second floor of the inn.

Is it really the ghost of William Caffee, still lingering at the site of his last moments on earth? The staff and visitors of the Walker House certainly think so..."

Prairie Ghosts Website

So is the Walker House Really Haunted?

This is a tough call. Do I believe there are ghosts here? Most definitely. Have I seen anything? No, I have not.

It is my firm belief that our ghosts are at peace with what we have done and what we are doing with the Walker House. I have heard voices, unanswered noises, the smell of cigars, cigarettes, body odor, perfume and have even gone as far as following the noises down the hallway in the middle of the night. So do I believe? Yeah, you bet your ass...

To kind of try to avoid the psycho-CheffyBabbles I am just going to make a list a couple experiences that kinda freaked me out...I like to believe that I am somewhat of a spiritual person and have become one with the happy spirits that exist in our building (I am staying at the hotel until we open) and there have been quite a few hair raising experiences no matter how much I say that I am at peace with these peaceful spirits.

I have been freaked out a couple times, with my last occurance happening last night but I am going to attempt to recall the more important ones if for no other reason then just for something for me to look back on sometime in my crazy life and to share the experiences with friends near and far that have asked about the ghosts.

Fact or Folklore?

Not to discredit the stories written on the internet but there are portions of the story that have been fabricated for the sake of folklore, such as Willie Caffee banging on the side of his coffin with beer bottles (beer bottles were invented almost fifty years after Mr. Caffee's death)

Willie did not commit the crime at the Walker House, it was the spot where he was hanged, the crime was commmited in a nearby town and Willie evaded capture for several months. When caught Willie was hung at Mineral Point, an area on the outskirts of town near the (not yet built) railroad depot, and the foot of the property of the Mineral Point Hotel (now known as The Walker House) It is factually reported that the hanging of Willie Caffee became somewhat of a spectacle with people travelling from all around the area to witness his demise. The stories vary but it is reported that several thousand people turned out to witness this hanging, one of the last in the Wisconsin Territory before becoming a state. (Capital Punishment was banned in 1853, the oldest state in the Union to abolish capital punishment. There is an official record of only 5 legal lynchings in the Wisconsin Territory and the State of Wisconsin with countless illegal mob lynchings of murderers)

Some accounts refer to the murder and others as Willie Caffee being a horse thief, both of which are accurate.

The factual basis is that Willie was in his middle twenties, a drinking man and somewhat of an arrogant kid. It is also true that Willie attempted to walk away from the confrontation but was threatened by his victim (and reportedly others) that came after Mr. Caffee with sticks and Willie shot one, stole a horse and escaped to a nearby town where he hid until turning himself in some months later.

Anyway...that's the general gist of the story, and I may be screwing parts of it up, am just trying to separate the folklore from the not-so-common knowledge of the man behind one of the most spectated and speculated lynchings in Wisconsin history.

So is Willie Caffee the Walker House Ghost?

Heck, I don't know...I blame him for the noises and me chasing empty footsteps down the hallway, in the dining rooms and other parts of the building but is it him or not I really don't know.

I am certain that there is more than one spirit here, some with distinct smells and sensations of presence, so if he is the Walker House Ghost, he is not alone (in my opinion)

What makes me so certain?

My first two experiences happened right after another when I first arrived in Mineral Point.

My first was in the first week that I was here and I thought I heard someone running down the hallway. There were three of us staying at the hotel (the husband/wife that own the hotel and myself). I had cooked dinner that evening and joked with them in the morning that I must of made something that did not agree with them (the bathroom was next to my hotel room), upon further discussing the noises with them they informed me that they used a bathroom on the other end of the hallway not by my room.

The next one was really my first "...oh that was freaky..." moment. It happened a couple days after my first incident. Outside of the kitchen entering the south dining room are two separate doors that leads to our outside dining area. The door inside of the south dining room that leads outside was under repair with a door and a piece of thermal-ply board covering the inside of the door. After I left the kitchen the thermal-ply started rattling like crazy, like someone was trying to get inside the door. I freaked out and got the hell out of there as quick as I could and being there was an exit to the front of the building within feet of where I was I opted to get the heck out of the building. Logic told me it was probably the wind, but I went outside and it was as calm as it could be...Your little CheffyBoy was spooked...this freaked me out. I went back inside the south dining room and the door was silent...I figured it was time for me to get the hell out of Dodge and shake off the shivers and rub my head from the tingling in my scalp....My imagination? Yeah maybe, but without any wind and no further explanation, I was kinda freaked out by all of the "what if's"

After that I did not have any experiences for a while other than a feeling of a presence that had overcome me, like someone was with me, sending shivering through my body...Imagination? Yeah, probably...the mind works in crazy ways...

My favorite story involved someone snoring in my that freaked me out....

I had just gotten out of the shower and still dripping wet wrapped up in a towel I hear someone snoring in my room...I totally freaked dressed in rapid succession still dripping wet from that mop on my head, grab the rest of my clothes and start to bolt downstairs. As I am headed down the stairs my boss Susan was coming up the stairs and I tell her about the noise and then I hear it again...

Did ya hear that? there it is again...

She starts laughing at me, it was the guy across the street emptying beer bottles into his recycle cans and the noise had echoed throughout the courtyard and it sounded like someone was snoring in my room...ha ha...Imagination? oh fabrication by the endorphins in the brain housing group...that was freaking funny...

To be continued in the near future....


Monday, February 04, 2008

Mineral Point High School Choir Fundraiser

On Sunday, January 23rd I hosted a fundraiser for the Mineral Point High School Choir that was pretty awesome. The premise was that Chef Dave and I took some of the kids from the choir and cooked dinner for an expected 150pp, we wound up raising close to $1400.00 for the Choir to take a trip to Branson, Missouri to perform in April.

Here are some pics of the event.