Midway Village Investigation

The Pepper House was built between 1875 and 1890 and later moved to Midway Village in 1989.  The first claim to the property upon which the Pepper House was built was filed October 26, 1839 b Trances Thomas. His claim was 80 acres, section 4.  In the 1870 Federal Census Lewis Pepper was 21-years-old, living in Guilford Township in the house of James Ralston and working as a farm laborer. His birth country was listed as Prussia.

By the 1880 census, Lewis was 32-years-old, married to Berthie (Bertha), and had three children; Edward 7, Anna 4 and Carrie 3. Bertha was born in Prussia and was listed as being a housekeeper and all of their children were born in Illinois.

At the time of the 1900 census, Lewis was 52-years-old, (born March 1848), married to Bertha for 29 years and is now listed as being born in Germany as is Bertha. Both Lewis and Bertha became US citizens in 1864 and he had been in the United States for 34 years while she had lived here for 36 years. He is listed as a farmer and owns his home free of mortgage. Bertha was born December 1850 and is now 50 years-old, mother of six; Edward 27, Anna 24, Mary 22, George 19, Emma 17 and Ida 13.

Marjorie Pepper Lyford and her husband Russell A. Lyford lived in the Marsh House that is now at Midway Village, and Marjorie is the daughter of Mabel Marsh Pepper and George Pepper, who farmed on the land on both sides of Alpine Road between Spring Creek Road and Riverside Boulevard. She was born in the Pepper House and married Russell in the living room February 24, 1934.

Mowry Brown House was built circa 1840 and moved to Midway Village in 1986. Mowry Brown and his wife Lucy Martin Pease Brown arrived in Rockford April 28, 1838. Brown was originally from Rhode Island (born January 29, 1814); died June 4, 1879 in Rockford.)  He married Lucy Martin Pease (born March 31, 1815) in New York; died April 7, 1897 in Rockford) February 26, 1837 at Alton, Madison County, Illinois.

Their children include: Emeline (born Dec 21, 1837; died Jan 27, 1838), George Smith (born June 23, 1839; married Jane (Jennie) Rogers Feb 13, 1868; died Oct 16, 1921), Charles Egbert (born Sept 15, 1841; married Frances Mary Burrit Dec 27, 1864; died Nov 1, 1922), Mary Emeline (born Sept 12, 1843; married Egbert Phelps Nov 29, 1866; died April 14, 1922), William Calvin (born Sept 4, 1845; died Nov 5, 1864), Henry Albert (born Dec 28, 1847; married Carrie M. Kortie Sept 13, 1876; died Sept 2, 1926), Harriett Ellen (born Sept 22, 1850; died April 18, 1853), Florence Delia (born Sept 28, 1852; died Nov 12, 1864), Ella Melissa (born Feb 14, 1855; died Dec 1, 1864), Fred Orson (born Nov 22, 1856; married Mary E. Halsted Dec 31, 1878; died Aug 2, 1934), Richard Enrique (born Sept 8, 1858; married Fanny E. Martin Dec 7, 1880; died July 31, 1912).

William Calvin, Florence Delia and Ella Melissa all died in an epidemic which hit in 1864.

Brown arrived in Rockford after leaving Rhode Island in early 1830s, going to Alton, Illinois. In 1838 he and his wife traveled with Dr. Samuel Haskell on the “Gypsy” to Rockford. It was the first steamboat to visit Rockford.

Mowry was a carpenter and he built a cabin in what is now known as Beattie Park on N. Main Street. Mowry also built houses for Dr. Haskell and others. He bought land in Owen Township and built a house there.

George Smith Brown started a brick making business across the road from his father’s farm. He worked with his father and brother Charles in the company, which made white bricks that were used in buildings in Rockford including the old Winnebago County Courthouse and the original County Farm, now known as the River Bluff Nursing Home.

In the 1850 Federal Census, Mowry Brown is listed as being a farmer, owns $1600 worth of real estate and was born in Rhode Island, while his children were all born in Illinois. There were also five other people living with them, one woman (Irene Rogers, 18-years-old) and four men. The men are all listed as being farmers (Richard Crandell, 25; Calvin A Pease 22; Horatio Nichols 17 and William Capel 22).

Ten years later, in the 1860 Federal Census, Mowry Brown is again listed as being a farmer, but now has real estate worth $8000 and a personal estate of $1600. Mowry is 46 years old; wife Lucy is 45 years old and their children: George L. 21, Charles E. 18, William C. 14, Henry 12, Florence D. 7, Ella 5, Fred O. 3 and Richard F. 1.

In the 1864 United States IRS Tax Assessment, Mowry Brown has a Valuation of $414, with the total amount of tax due being $12.93. The 1871 Survey Map shows the Brown had four buildings on his property, one of which is marked as a Brick Kiln.

Plans for moving of the Mowry Brown house were already occurring in 1983, working with the staff of Illinois State University in regards to the plans for the foundation of the house when it was moved to Midway.  After being moved to Midway in 198 6, the 1850 barn was placed near the house to represent the style of barn that would have accompanied a house of the same era.

Located at:  6799 Guilford Rd., Rockford, IL 61107

Telephone: 815-397-9112

Website: www.midwayvillage.com

Hauntings: Psychics Paul Smith and Sara Bowker indicated various presences in the Pepper House including that of possibly Lewis himself which who was a very demanding and overbearing personality. The sound of children has been frequently heard on the 2nd floor.






The GRS investigated Midway Village on May 10, 2014 and the team included: Stan Suho, Kathie Para, Marge Sucha, Sandy Weber, Yvonne Zanilah, Katherine Meagher, Jim Piscopo and Dale Kaczmarek.   Other investigators present: Melissa Tanner and members from TNT Paranormal and Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee.








Equipment setup: I set up an IR camcorder facing towards the center of the main room downstairs and on the floor positioned both a REM Epod and Melmeter 8704-REM. Jim Piscopo positioned an IR camcorder facing down the main hallway and into one of the rooms along with an IR illuminator while Stan Suho placed a second IR camera and GhostMic in another upstairs room.

Experiments performed: Six separate EVP, Ghost Box and Ovilus X sessions were conducted in the main room downstairs as the six groups rotated through the building. Later when we all assembled at the Hotel to compare notes, all the camcorders and equipment was left running unattended.

Personal experiences:

Dale Kaczmarek: A broom repositioned itself in a small pantry area. When Smith was talking about Lewis and others enjoying cigars in the house, I caught a brief scent of pungent cigar smoke. During one of the Ovilus X sessions in phonetic mode, a lot was coming through the device when we were trying to communicate with the man of the house but when we asked to speak with the lady of the house, suddenly the Ovilus X stopped transmitting completely as though someone was restraining the person from talking. (Smith did mention that he believes that he is very controlling when it comes to his wife and perhaps doesn’t allow her to talk much.)

Jim Piscopo: We arrived at the village and were assigned the Pepper house. I set up my IR camcorder in the front bedroom on the right hand side pointing to the bedroom across the hall. After we got set up the first group came in and we did an EVP session. After that they did a walkthrough of the house. When we went to the kitchen there was a broom and dustpan by the wall. When the next group came we went into the kitchen and the broom and dustpan were lying on the floor blocking the kitchen door. That was the only experience I had at the Pepper house and am still reviewing tapes.

Kathie Para: GRS, along with two other groups, participated in a public event by Kathi Kresol at Haunted Rockford Paranormal Events. The team I was on consisted of myself, Marge Sucha, Sandy Weber and Yvonne Zanilah and we were stationed at the Mowry Brown House. We welcomed the public groups (I believe there were six in all) as they rotated through the village and various buildings. We helped them with any questions they had on paranormal investigating and participated in EVP sessions and used various pieces of equipment with the groups. Psychics Sara Bowker and Paul Smith we present at the event that evening. According to Paul the Mowry Brown house was possibly the most active.

Many people during the evening were getting some very interesting pictures on the second floor of the house. Odd lights, blurry photos, orbs, mists and cameras shutting off was pretty consistent throughout the night. I myself got one photo that showed what could be a mist.

Upon reviewing the EVP sessions we did I got nothing unusual.

However, at the close of the evening everyone gathered at the Hotel building to discuss how the evening went. At this time I left my audio recorder running in one of the bedrooms upstairs. Marge also left hers in another upstairs room and Yvonne’s was in the kitchen. I got some interesting audio that included different noises and voices and am anxious to see what Marge and Yvonne may have captured.

I think it would be very interesting to do an investigation there with a full set up.  

Stan Suho: Well this wasn’t as much an investigation as a public demonstration of Ghost hunting methods. There were several different groups there and each was assigned a different house to demonstrate in. A scaled down setup was done by each of the groups. Jim and I both set up one camera in the upstairs area of our house. Mine was connected to a monitor and Laptop running Audacity.

The public was divided into six groups of eight people each, and each group was given about 20 minutes to explore each house and have a demo of our equipment and Ghost hunting methods. While in the house Dale gave a demonstration of several of his devices, which was well received. The group was then permitted a walkthrough of the house, followed up with a Q & A session.

I did a review of my tapes but didn't really expect to find much what with all the activity, and wasn’t disappointed. This was a very good public relations event and was well received by the people, and we answered some very thoughtful questions. A good time was had by all.

Marge Sucha: We had 2 houses so we broke off into 2 groups

Pepper House - Dale, Stan, Jim, Kat

Mowry Brown House - Sandy, Kathie, Yvonne, & myself  

When we first arrived we saw Paul Smith (physic) outside the house.   He came in and gave us a quick tour and told us what areas he thought might give us the most activity.   

We had groups come in for about 30 minutes at a time.  First we talked a little bit about the history of the house.  Then we turned to the paranormal.  We talked about various items used for investigating.   Some of the people in the groups had investigated and were eager to share their information with us too.  Sandy's FLIR camera was a favorite.  Next they broke and did mini investigations.   

After the groups came through we all went down to the main house where the psychics Sara Bowker & Paul Smith gave their impressions on what they picked up at each location.     While we were down there Kathie Yvonne, and myself left our recorders going.  Kathie and I had ours upstairs in different rooms.  Yvonne had hers running in the kitchen.  

My recorder recorded for 57 minutes.

About 7 minutes after we left you can hear someone walk into the house and walk around to each room.  I guessing it was the care taker checking to see if they could lock up.

10 minutes in you can hear a bang.

19 minutes you can faintly hear movement

After 26 minutes you could hear movement.  It sounded like it was down stairs.

37 minutes several light bangs

46 minutes / talking and 1 minute later talking

This was strange because it was completely quiet for the last and few more bangs.  For the next three minutes it was completely quiet until you hear us come in through the door.  

Unfortunately the way our group was broken up all the members who were running video was in the other house.      

Midway Village is pretty cool and I would love to go back sometime.


Yvonne Zanilah: Location: Midway Village – Mowry Brown House  

Weather Conditions: 77º down to mid-50's after sunset, light clouds, moon phase waxing gibbous 81% visible  

Equipment Used: Olympus Digital Voice Recorder, Model VN-480PC Sony DSLR, Model A390 - modded for IR photography Sony DSC-V1 CyberShot K-II Meter 2 Motorola Smart Phones with Spirit Light II App  

Summary: With the IR modded camera, a total of 96 shots, nothing of note found. No activity using the Spirit Light II App, although one phone battery drained more quickly that the other, both had been at full charge when started. No activity on the K-II Meter. Upon the reviewing of the 4hrs & 27minutes of recordings I found nothing out of the ordinary. There was evidence of someone walking around the house while we were all in the main house reviewing our experiences. But the sounds were so loud and normal I assume it was not of the paranormal nature. My recorder did shut itself down shortly after that, but that may be due to it running out of recording space. I turned it on and left it running on the kitchen table throughout the whole investigation.

I did have two unusual experiences upon walking into the kitchen to set up my equipment. I almost immediately heard footsteps from upstairs. I walked back into the front area and asked Kathy and Marge if anyone was upstairs and they indicated no. I had not yet turned on my recorder so it was not recorded.

I walked back to the kitchen to continue setting up, remembered I'd not called home so decided to call my husband to tell him I had arrived etc. and my phone (Motorola Smart Phone) screen switched from his contact number to the dialer screen and the number 5 depressed itself rapidly about 15 or so times, enough that the whole width of the number dialed indicator was filled with number 5s. The screen then switched back and forth from dialer mode to recent before closing the screen. Again, I had not yet set up my recorder so neither the phone noises or my surprise at the phone's antics were recorded.


Katherine Meagher: This was my first Investigation with GRS. While I am new to this I learned a lot from Dale Kaczmarek the President of the Ghost Research Society and Stan his right hand man.

It was a public event, which Dale was assigned two houses to lead the investigation with six groups. Being my first time I was observing techniques and the does and don’ts on proper EVP sessions and different equipment that he uses.

For me, the learning experience was remarkable and learning the how to was very helpful. I am not very fond of public events though. The contamination is relevant to what you hear on your recorder. People like to whisper for some reason and it is hard to tell if it was a true EVP. The houses were paper-thin and you could hear a lot of outside noise.

I have a lot of learning to go and was very pleased with the experience and knowledge. Thank you Dale for letting me learn from you and your team


Evidence collected:

(Since this was a public event, there were six separate EVP sessions as the six various groups of people traversed through the buildings.  The sessions are listed as EVP sessions 1 through 6.)

Pepper House Evidence:

EVP session #1

I kinda wonder.MPG – A question was asked, “Do you get tired of answering the same question over and over again?” A female whispery voice responds with, “I kinda wonder.”

Never.MPG - A question was asked, “Are you happy that the house you used to live in was brought here?” A whispered EVP comes through and says, “Never.”

EVP session #2

Lewis1.MPG – A question was asked, “Can you tell us who you are?” A voice comes through which says, “Lewis.” (Lewis Pepper was the head of the household)

No.MPG – A question was asked, “Are you happy with the building being moved to its current location?” A response comes through that says, “No!”


EVP session #3

Lewis2.MPG – A question was asked, “Is there somebody that doesn’t want us to go into the kitchen?” A male response comes through that says, “Lewis.”

Movement midway.MPG – during an EVP session in the Pepper House, a strange figure is seen moving past one of the windows. There is, of course, the possibility that it is a “real person.”


EVP session #4

Nothing captured


EVP session #5

God damn it.MPG - During a Ghost Box session without any question being asked, the Ghost Box says quite clearly with a male voice, “God damn it!”

EVP session #6

Nothing captured

Yell.MPG - As we were getting ready to close up the Pepper House at Midway Village in Rockford, Illinois to join the rest of the group and discuss possible paranormal experiences, a strange yell is heard in the background.

Brown House Evidence:

While there was some evidence captured at the Brown House, all of it was during the time the house was empty and the team was conferring with the others about evidence and experiences captured that evening. Many of the sounds could have been perfectly natural and sounded like people laughing and talking outside the building probably going to and fro. The creaks and groans and possible footsteps weren’t substantial enough to warrant being listed at this time. They could have been structural expanding and shrinkage due to daytime heating and nighttime cooling.

Conclusions: I feel that there was enough evidence captured that Lewis Pepper is still in command of the Pepper House and he still is very controlling of his wife Bertha as was evidenced during our one Ovilus X session. The Ovilus was trying to form a number of words and sentences in phonetic mode when we were attempting to communicate with the man of the house but when we switched and attempted to talk to Bertha the device completely stopped producing sounds at all as though someone or something was preventing it or her from using the device.

Physical manipulation of the broom in the pantry and the smell of tobacco were only some of the interesting events that took place in the building. Paul, Sara and I all believe that Lewis is unhappy not only about the house being moved here but what Midway Village employees did to the upstairs by painting the walls white. He was apparently a very powerful man while alive and continues to be a form to be reckoned with even after death. I think he will remain for a very long time or at least until the place is returned to the way he remembers it.

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