Location: Manny Mansion, 737 S. Main St., Rockford, IL 61103
Manny Mansion was built in 1852 out of native limestone for John Coleman. The
grounds were laid out by John Blair, a Scottish landscape gardener, who arrived
from Canada. The Coleman’s sold the property in 1864 to John Pells Manny and
his family who lived there for many years. The Manny’s were originally from
upstate New York, moved to Freeport, Illinois before finally settling down in
Rockford, Illinois. John P. Manny is a cousin of John H. Manny who invented a
reaper that rivaled the one designed by Cyrus McCormick. It was a great success
in a number of contests around the world. John H. Manny was eventually sued by
McCormick for patent infringement. The lawsuit was unsuccessful and the verdict
was upheld all the way to the Supreme Court; in fact one of his lawyers was a
very young Abraham Lincoln! Totally exhausted, Manny died two weeks later from
tuberculosis at the age of 30. Mary Dorr Manny took over the company and ran it
for many successful years. Robert Tinker was elected as her clerk before they
eventually married in 1870.
P. Manny and John H. Manny both worked in Rockford’s Water Power District and
produced cutting blades that kept their sharpness longer than any other. When
John H. Manny died, John P. continued with the reaper business until 1880 when
financial problems caused him to close the business. The Manny’s then moved
into smaller accommodations in 1887 and began to develop a very successful
lemonade business; he had invented and patented a popular lemon squeezer.
He was also President of the West Side Cemetery Association and it was
here, while working in the cemetery, he succumbed to typhoid from drinking
polluted water and died in 1897.
property was then sold to William and Olivia Nelson in 1889. He married Olivia
Olson, who was born on July 20, 1867, and they wed on October 7, 1889. William
Nelson was president of the Rockford Drilling Machine Company and of the Forest
City Knitting Company. William was born on October 29, 1857 in Sycamore,
Illinois, son of John and Eva C. Nelson who were natives of Sweden. Olivia lived
there until her death on January 15, 1905.
Harry Burpee purchased the property in 1905 but all indications are that he
never actually lived in the mansion. It was transformed into what became the
Burpee Art Museum.
the Burpee Art Museum, the house is now attached to the south side of the Solem
Wing and houses museum classrooms and offices. Originally named after, Robert H.
Solem, who was a major benefactor, patron and friend of the museum.
the interior of this once grand building changed from a marvelous showpiece into
office space, much negative energy has been experienced throughout the building.
Some believe that negative energy is brought forth from the previous owners who
are not happy at the changes to the building.
visiting this location in the past have encountered the sound of children
running around and staff members and others alike complain of hearing the pitter
patter of children on the stairs and second floor landing as well as
encountering small shadow figures.
previous investigations, the name Nelly has come through. Nelly was a servant
for the Manny family and was thought to be a nanny.
grand parties and unfortunately, funerals, have been held in the building in the
past and this may account for the sound of music throughout.
basement is a very active area and was once an apartment. Perhaps the previous
occupant again isn’t too happy about changes to the building or people
invading his space. Encounters include anxiety attacks, trouble breathing and
being touched by something unseen.
building is also said to have been built on Indian mounds and there may have
been some excavation of these in the past, even though accounts are quite vague
on this matter. This, of course, can easily cause paranormal phenomena to
The Ghost Research Society investigated Manny Mansion on November 14, 2015. Team members included: Katherine Meagher and Dale Kaczmarek
setup: Mostly hand-held equipment was
used throughout this public event sponsored by Kathi Kresol and Haunted Rockford
Tours. I deployed the Paracorder 667 to pick up and static electricity and it
also acts like an EM Pump, putting out a small amount of EMF for ghosts to feed
on, sort to speak. A REM Epod was placed on a long table which unfortunately
went off when two-way radios or fluorescent lights were turned on.
conducted EVP, Ovilus X in both dictionary and phonetic modes and Ghost Box
sessions while four groups of people came through my station.
Meagher: I was located in the basement of the Manny Mansion. I cannot say
anything really exciting happened in the investigation with the four groups that
Only two things
stood out that were noteworthy. The first group, two names came through the
Ovilus, which was repeated in the next station where Dale was located. The last
group is when Kathy sat in with us. One woman was using a pendulum which was
answering questions as I was using the dowsing rods which verified the
responses. In my opinion, when going to events, spirit might be more
interested on speaking to familiar people then strangers, or dowsing rods
might be picking up an individual’s energy.
Kaczmarek: I personally did not
experience anything out of the ordinary and I don’t believe any of the four
groups did either. There was however some cross-contamination from the basement
which was easily tagged during EVP sessions.
the end of session #3, I finished the EVP session and told everyone to wander
around the upstairs, take pictures and experience the area for themselves. As we
walked into the hallway, two people said the door to the restroom moved inwards
and made a sound. I just caught the ending of the movement out of the corner of
my eye. I don’t believe it was it people walking towards it that caused the
door to move as three other groups also explored the same area with no door
us manny.MPG – while conducting an Ovilus X session for group #3, the Ovilus
said, “Ask us.”
manny.MPG – while conducting a Ghost Box session for group #4, a question was
asked, “Can you tell us your first name?” The Ghost Box responds with,
“Betty.” (This is very unusual; during session#2 the Ovilus X in dictionary
mode said, “Betty” and the group, who had come from station #4, said that
another Ovilus also said, “Betty.”)
it manny.MPG – while conducting a Ghost Box session for group #4, the Ghost
Box said, “Do it!”
out manny.MPG – while conducting a Ghost Box session for group #4, a question
was asked, “Can you just tell us to leave or get out?” The Ghost Box
responds with a faint, deep male voice that says, “Get out!”
save this manny.MPG - while conducting a Ghost Box session for group#4, the
Ghost Box suddenly spits out, “God save this.” (I make the conclusion that
the ghost was imploring the people who own the building to “save it” and not
tear down or change anymore of the original building.)
manny.MPG – while conducting a Ghost Box session for group#4, a question was
asked, “Betty’s here. Is your friend also here? Can you tell us here
name?” The Ghost Box responds with, “Kelly.” (During an Ovilus X session
for group #2, in dictionary mode, the names, “Betty” and “Kelly” where
spoken back to back.)
manny.MPG – while conducting a Ghost Box session for group #4, a question was
asked, “Who had a baby out of wedlock?” The Ghost Box responds with,
manny.MPG – while conducting a Ghost Box session for group #1, a question was
asked, “Do you like candy?” The Ghost Box responds with, “Yes.”
communications in dictionary mode:
session #1, says, “Coin, dinner.”
session #2 says, “Book, movie, warrior, stone, eye, inches, Betty and
session #3 says, “Without, bomb, turning, column, ground, same, frame.”
session #4 says, “Wood, pond, tide.”
have been to the Barnes Mansion before but never investigated the Manny Mansion
however I believe that it was very active especially with the intelligent
responses to questions posed during our Ghost Box sessions and having the names
Betty and Kelly come through multiple devices. There are over 4,000 words
pre-programmed into the Ovilus X and for those two names to come out in two
different Ovilus’ is beyond coincidence and is even stranger when they are
both produced using a completely different device, the Ghost Box!
The groups were very quiet and asked a lot of very good questions during our four sessions and even received some interesting responses. This location deserves a thorough investigation with video cameras, more equipment and a longer time period. I believe we can receive more communications from the other side here.
Location: Barnes Mansion, 813 N. Main St., Rockford, IL 61103
Fletcher Barnes was the son of Joseph Barnes and Mary Weller and was born on
August 6, 1841 in Livingston County, New York. He and his wife, Julia Katherine
Gould had four children. The W.F & John Barnes Company of Rockford, Illinois
was established in November of 1869 and later incorporated in 1884. The company
operated in Rockford until 1964, when it was bought by Babcock-Wilcox.
Fletcher held many patents on his woodworking machines and was quite
William Fletcher Barnes House was built in 1893 during a severe economic
depression. It was a showplace in its day with 15 rooms, a turret, two porticos,
and hand-carved solid cherry paneling in the foyer, reception area, and the
first floor hallway. The craftsmen who carved the paneling were furniture
finishers and woodworkers who were paid fifty cents a day for their work. The
house cost more than $30,000 dollars to build; a princely sum at the time.
Barnes died December 28, 1930 at the age of 89. In 1937, Mrs. Amy Lane, one of
Barne’s three granddaughters, sold the building to the Rockford Park District
for $12,000. Soon after, many of the furnishings were auctioned and the Park
District set up its offices on the first floor. In 1942, with the cooperation of
the Park District, two natural history collections were moved into the second
and third floor of the building. The Beattie family had given one of the
collections to the city; Milton Mahlburg of the Nature Study Society developed
May 24, 1942, funded with W.P.A. money and subsidized by a trust fund
established by Harry and Della Burpee – a community spirited couple – Burpee
Museum of Natural History opened to the public. The William Fletcher Barnes
mansion had taken on an entirely new role as home of the Park District offices
and Burpee Museum of Natural History.
the Park District moved to its new office building in Sinnissippi Park, Burpee
was given permission to occupy the first floor of the Barnes residence. And when
Harry and Della Burpee Art Gallery moved from the Coleman-Manny-Nelson residence
to its new facility in the Riverfront Museum Park, Burpee Museum of Natural
History expanded into the old gallery building and called it the South Annex.
the Barnes Mansion houses the administration offices of the Burpee Museum and is
still owned by the Rockford Park District. The first floor of the mansion and
its grounds are used as meeting space and are rented periodically for private
and public functions. The specimens and artifacts that once filled this building
are now housed in the Solem Wing completed by the museum in 1999.
Hauntings: : Sounds of footsteps coming up and down the secondary stairway, the drapes in the turret room parting on their own and possible sightings of a lady sitting in a chair in the area,
The Ghost Research Society investigated Barnes Mansion on November 14, 2015. Team members included: Kathie Para, Marge Sucha, Stan Suho and Michael Wright.
setup: Mostly hand-held equipment was
used with the exception of the station manned by Suho and Sucha which deployed
an IR camera and sound equipment down the hallway. Most other investigators used
digital recorders, REM Epod, Ovilus, Ghost Box, dowsing rods, K-II meters,
Melmeter, FLIR and digital cameras. This was another public event sponsored by
Kathi Kresol and the Haunted Rockford Tours, so our team was simply
demonstrating equipment used for paranormal investigations and performing EVP
communication sessions. Stations included the basement manned by Para and Wright
while Suho and Sucha were on the second and third floors.
performed: EVP, Ovilus and Ghost
Box sessions were performed at the two stations in the Barnes Mansion which was
the basement and the second floor.
Stan Suho: Yet another
demonstration of the GRS's advanced Ghost Hunting methods. The museum was
another historic old three story Rockford building with a past. The GRS had done
this one before with some interesting results. Our group was divided into two
units and each assigned different hot spot in the complex. My unit consisted of
Marge and myself.
short of time, I chose a second floor long dark hallway to set up my IR Camera
and Microphone. The cables were run down the hallway to a small room at the far
end which became our command post. As the public group rotated through the
buildings, I would give them a demonstration of the operation of the
Camera/Microphone system, then down the hall to the monitor and Laptop system at
the command post. After this Marge would take the group up to the attic for an
EVP demonstration. This usually terminated with a lively Q&A session
which everyone participated in.
Then Kathy would give a nod and the public would rotate stations.
Since this was a short notice setup no recording equipment was installed. Based on the number and type of questions, I would say there are a number of potential Ghost Hunters in the Rockford area. A good time was had by all.
Para: This was a Haunted Rockford public event which GRS was involved in, with
members of the group at each of two stations to help the public with questions
and also to demonstrate paranormal investigating techniques.
Members of our group present were Stan, Marge, Mike and I. I was teamed
up with Mike and we were stationed in the basement. There were two areas we
spent time in, the main room and a room in the back of the basement that some
say creeps them out.
Equipment we used included: digital camera, digital
recorders, dowsing rods, REM pod, K-II meter, Ovilus and Melmeter.
We got some interesting responses from the Ovilus
during each session and also from the dowsing rods.
During first session we heard knocking noises twice
after we asked any spirit present to make a sound. I was able to catch these on
my audio recorder and will include them with this report.
Session #2 was pretty quiet, other than a few
interesting Ovilus and dowsing rod responses. However, someone thought they saw
a shadow move in the basement hallway during the EVP session.
Session #3 had a little more activity with both the
dowsing rods and the Ovilus. Also the hall lights turned off. I must note that
the lights were on a timer but that was the only time during the night that they
shut themselves off. Most likely not paranormal, but interesting.
Session #4 went pretty much like the others. One man
from the group left the back room to wander around and claimed he distinctly
heard a dogs nail clicking on the tile floor in the main room.
The back room made many in the groups uncomfortable
during the night, ranging from headache, trouble breathing to a creepy feeling.
There is a high EMF reading in there by an electrical panel which certainly
would contribute to that feeling. However, our last time there a psychic did not
want to go in that room and said she saw a lot of blood in there.
We kept getting an Indian connection come through
but I haven’t confirmed if any American Indians tribes settled near there in
the past. We also got references to hunting and fishing more than once.
The groups that came that night were lots of fun!
Sucha: Equipment: FLIR,
SB-7 Sprit box, Dowsing Rods, Olympus Digital Recorder.
was a public event. They were broken off into two groups approximately 10 people
per group. We were assigned to a station. I
was teamed up with Stan Suho. We
were assigned to the 2nd & 3rd floors in the Barnes Mansion.
person in the first group was using the FLIR.
While scanning the room they had a heat image on the table.
The only thing on the table was papers.
We moved the papers around but could not see anything that would cause
this. I picked the papers up and
when I put them down the spot spread. We
were able to see the heat from where my hands touched the papers, but it was not
part what we were seeing on the table. We
were unable to debunk it. Using the
FLIR we did take a picture. When the
next group came in I was unable to duplicate this.
did have couple of people in one of the groups that was coming up with some
names on the 3rd floor; Annabel and Miss Lilly; Possibly caretaker of the
it was fairly quiet that night.
Mike Wright: There were four separate stations, two in each
building. My station was in the basement of the Barnes mansion with Kathie Para.
Four groups of people came
through the building, we did EVP sessions with each group using the Ovilus and
In the last group that went
through I was using the dowsing rods and they were responding to questions
regarding the history of the land before the mansions were built. At the same
time the Ovilus was responding to questions Kathie was asking, as a different
person than the person I was communicating with. The rods were answering yes and
no questions with distinct movements stating that the person I was communicating
with was a Native American man that lived in the area before the mansion was
built. There were some whispers that my recorder picked up but I am not sure if
it was from the people that there for the event. Wish I had a little extra time
in the basement to investigate because of the way the dowsing rods were
knock group1 barnes.MPG – while conducting an EVP session in the basement,
Para makes a comment, “My ears are just ringing here.” This is followed by a
loud knock that no one made.
noise group1 barnes.MPG – while conducting an EVP session in the basement
question was asked, “Can you get our attention? Make noise?” A faint noise
is heard in the background.
was a much quieter evening than our previous investigation in 2014; however we
only received a couple more responses then. In my personal opinion, the Manny
Mansion made be more haunted than the Barnes Mansion in just comparing the
amount of communications we received on the Ovilus and Ghost Box.
does appear that all the people involved were very quiet during EVP sessions and
did ask some thought-provoking questions. While there weren’t any EVPs
captured in the Barnes Mansion during the four sessions, some interesting sounds
and noises were captured.
Perhaps the spirits just did not wish to communicate with us that particular evening.
Ghost Research Society (www.ghostresearch.org)
© 2015 Dale Kaczmarek. All rights reserved.
Web site created by Dale Kaczmarek