Tinker Swiss Cottage Investigation

The Tinker Swiss Cottage is a historic place, museum, and park in Rockford, Illinois, USA. It was built as a personal residence by Robert Hall Tinker in the1860s. It is now a popular destination for school trips and wedding receptions.

Robert Hall Tinker was born in Honolulu to missionary Reuben Tinker (1799–1854) and his wife Mary Throop Wood (1809–1895) in 1836. Tinker moved to Rockford in 1856, where he was employed as an accountant by Mary Dorr Manny, the wealthy widow of John H. Manny of the Manny reaper works. Tinker traveled Europe in 1862 and was greatly impressed by the estates and gardens he had seen there. On his return to Rockford, Tinker built himself a 20-room Swiss-style cottage on a limestone bluff overlooking the Kent Creek and the home of Mary Manny. In 1870 Robert and Mary were married, becoming Rockford 's most influential couple. Tinker was mayor of Rockford in 1875 and a founding member of the Rockford Park District.

Upon the death of the Tinkers, the cottage was left to the Rockford Park District. The home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) on December 27, 1972.

Located at: 411 Kent St., Rockford, IL. 61102, 815-964-2424

Website: www.tinkercottage.com



Experiments performed: EVP experiments were conducted in the red room, main living room and octagon room. Ghost Head Soup investigators used their reverse speech device during some EVP sessions.  

Personal experiences: I did feel a cold draft several times in the Red Room and could not debunk where or why. Someone seemed to indicate it was coming from a crack in the floor but the air of coldness was several feet off the ground and intermittent.

I thought I saw a short shadow figure standing just within the door jam of Tinker’s Bedroom while looking up from the library with the naked eye. It was a fleeting glimpse and was only there for a few seconds.

The light formations that I was seeing through my Nightshot camera in the one corner of the Red Room were nothing more than dust particles apparently stirred up by air currents and people walking about. At first they didn’t fit the profile of dust particles which tend to have a snow flurry effect. But in later analysis, it was most definitely just dust particles.

Dean and I both clearly heard a disembodied female sigh come from the other room and we both said simultaneously that we had heard the same thing.

The Ghost Research Society investigated Tinker Swiss Cottage on October 21, 2011. Team members included: Dale Kaczmarek with help from Mark Schwabe, Dean Thompson, Jessica Kasza, Tim Schmuldt, George Hawrylenko and Angela with Steve Litteral.








Evidence collected:

Cat.MPG – a catlike sound was captured on the full spectrum camera positioned in the Red Room.

Eight.MPG – during an EVP session in the library, Dean suggested to George to mention eight in his EVP questions, the Ovilus said, “eight.”  

Gunfire.MPG – we were able to capture the shooting incident in Rockford of gunfire.  

Female sound.MPG – during an EVP session in the library, a question was asked, “Mary what happened in the library?” In the background, you can clearly hear a disembodied female cry which several people also hear in real time.  

Healthy.MPG – during an EVP session in the library, a question was asked, “Did you have a favorite cigar?” The Ovilus responds with, “help.” Then the conversation continues with bringing back memories for Tinker when the question is asked, “Is there something you would appreciate for us to bring to you?”  A whispering voice responds with what I believe is, “healthy or help me.”  

Help.MPG – during a group EVP session before the investigation in the room with the coffin, the digital recorder was placed on the coffin. A question was asked, “Tinker can you make a noise upstairs if you’re here with us?” A muffled sounding “help” was the reply.  

I hate Dean.MPG – the Ovilus says very clearly, “I hate Dean.”  

Joe.MPG – during an EVP session in the library, the Ovilus says, “Joe” which could stand for Josephus.  

Look up air.MPG – during an EVP session in the Red Room there were comments made about cold drafts of air felt by a few in the room. The Ovilus said, “look up” and followed that with, “air.”  

Mmm.MPG – during an EVP session in the library, George was asking what he could do to make Tinker remember what it felt to be alive in exchange for a conversation. He asked, “Maybe the smell of baking bread?” An “mmm” like someone enjoyed that suggestion was the reply.  

Running feet.MPG – during an EVP session in the Red Room, a question was asked, “Robert can you follow the sound of my voice and join us in the Red Room?” What follows is the sound of running feet.  

Singing.MPG – a singing female voice was captured on the full spectrum which was in the Red Room. However the sound did not appear to emanate from that room and it sounds like a lullaby.  

The Ghost Radar said the words: uncle, Joe, label, student, produce, fruit, hungry, run and swept when in the Red Room while the Ovilus said look up, soccer and tide.  

Conclusions: I believe the building was active on the evening of the investigation both with disembodied voices, sounds, shadows and direct responses during EVP sessions. However the wooden floor made a lot of noise when walking on it and there was a lot of extraneous other sounds and unnecessary talking during some of the EVP sessions including when we were conducting the very first session in the Red Room. A smaller group was heard downstairs either talking or conducting their own session so a lot of tagging was necessary.

I think it would have been a good idea to limit the EVP sessions to much smaller sessions that way we could have covered many more parts of the cottage that evening. The last session in the library lasted 2 hours and 15 minutes. It is not customary to expect communication from the other side lasting that long in one session. Even the spirits must be given a break to recharge sort to speak. Also we like to have a ten minute complete quiet time during our investigations where nobody moves, talks or says anything to see if anything is heard or recorded later.

I would like to investigate this location again with more cameras and equipment and a Command Center.


Follow-up Investigation on August 17, 2013


GRS members present: Stan Suho, Marge Sucha, Kathie Para, Yvonne Zanilah, Joanne Schullo, Sandy Weber and Dale Kaczmarek

Equipment setup: Stan set up the Command Center in the basement of the cottage and had the G.E.I.S.T. equipment, GhostCam and Ghost Microphone deployed in the Servant’s Quarters (Red Room).  I had a static IR camcorder with supplemental IR illuminator set up in the Master Bedroom facing the upper balcony of the library where shadowy figures have been reported in the past. The Geophone was placed in the doorway between the upper balcony and the Master Bedroom.

Experiments performed: EVP, Ghost Box, Ovilus X and Inductive Probe sessions were conducted in the Red Room, Library both upstairs and downstairs, the outside Indian Mounds and a downstairs Canning Room.

Personal experiences:

Joanne Schullo:

Weather Conditions:

Warm during the day but cooled off after dark.  Slightly humid.

Equipment Used:

Ghost Meter

Fuji 35 MM digital camera

Infra-red camera provided by Dale


After setting up in the basement of the cottage, we conducted EVP sessions throughout the house.  Various pieces of equipment began to lose battery power and Sandy's FLIR device malfunction at one point during the investigation.  The house was very quiet.  No footsteps, whispering or noises were heard at any time.  My ghost meter remained at zero throughout the night.  I noticed that Dale's was the same way.  In summary, a very, very quiet night despite our various attempts at interaction.  We closed the investigation at approximately 2:30 AM.


Yvonne Zanilah:

Weather Conditions:

78º down to mid-60's after sunset, light clouds, humidity 43%, moon phase 84% full  

Equipment Used:

Olympus Digital Voice Recorder, Model VN-480PC

Sony DSLR, Model A390 - modded for IR photography

Sony DSC-V1 CyberShot

K-II Meter



I took a total of 35 shots with the night vision DSC-V1, no anomalies found although I did find that the images would be better with a tripod used. Useful information to know for the next investigation.  With the IR modded camera, a total of 54 shots, nothing of note found.

No activity on the K-II Meter

Upon the reviewing of the 3hrs & 38minutes of recordings I found two whispers while we were in the lower library area, one slightly after the other. To me it sounds like someone saying “let me page her” and the second clip says either “tired” or “card”. This could possibly be someone in the group whispering, I'm not sure so I'm putting them up for review.

Also I caught some strange growls in the upper library EVP session; these are in the middle of Dale talking about the basement. It is possible that someone's stomach was growling, but I think if it growled that loudly they would have called it out.

A side note – during one of the EVP sessions the word “specular” came up on the Ovilus and the questioning of the word meaning, I looked it up and per Merriam Webster dictionary it means: “of, relating to, or having the qualities of a mirror”


Marge Sucha: Kathie and I got to Tinker Swiss Cottage before everyone else so we decided to walk around the grounds and took some pictures.   

Before our investigation Steve gave us a quick tour and history of the location.  

Red Room -Everyone went to the red room to do an EVP session.   During the first part of our session I had a lot of ringing in my ears.  At one time the Ovules did say "sister” This was interesting to me because Kathie & I are sisters.    

Library- I didn't catch any EVPs in this room.   When we first got settled in this room Kathie was talking about the light from the camera set up in the living room going in her eyes.   Right after this Dale spelled out started spelling out a work that just came up on his device.  s p e c u l a r   

Specular reflection is the mirror-like reflection of light (or of other kinds of wave) from a surface, in which light from a single incoming direction (a ray) is reflected...  

2nd floor Library- It was overall quiet.  Sandy's camera would not focus on people.  Dale said the battery Voltage was low.   After we left that location her camera was able to focus on people. 

Red Room part II - This room is next to the nursery and we tried to stir up activity by singing lullabies.   

We also did an EVP session in the basement canning room area and outside by the Indian mounds.     

Even though the evening was overall quiet I still enjoyed spending the evening here and look forward to going back again.


Kathie Para:

GRS investigated Tinker Swiss Cottage on August 17, 2013 . Present were myself, Dale, Marge, Sandy, Stan, Joanne and Yvonne. After getting a tour and history of the building we proceeded to do our set up and do an EVP session in the Red Room on the second floor.

I got sporadic activity on my K-II meter. During this session we had equipment malfunction and batteries draining. I captured an EVP repeating a word said by the Ovilus and a couple other possible grunt-like sounds. The Ovilus also said sister (two of us in the room were sisters) and sand (there was a Sandy in the room.) This may be a stretch but I decided to include this in my report.

Next we went to the library and I caught nothing unusual on my recorder. The Ovilus said some unusual words including “specular, coffee, calcium, grave, carbon (we got this twice), product, inches (after questioning Mr. Tinker about his woodworking abilities) and grave”. We also got the name Chris and Rose (or Roselin). Once again we had problems with our equipment. Dale’s (fully charged) phone went dead and his audio recorder quit after just a few minutes of recording.

We went outside next and did another session on the Indian mound. I turned my recorder off after just a few minutes due to contamination. Dale’s camera shut off after just a minute or two.

We then went to the area right above the library. Immediately we had some strange activity on the FLIR camera. This camera then started acting up. While using the ghost box we seemed to get a few responses to our questions.

We moved to the basement next and did an EVP session in the canning room. I came away with no audio evidence there.

Our last EVP session was back in the Red Room on the second floor since that room seemed to be the most active previously that night. K-II showed some activity again in this room, but other than that we had little success and more strange equipment malfunctioning. We called it a night.

We had an unusually high amount of batteries draining and equipment malfunctioning throughout this location. There was even an instance of a battery that had drained in one room and then showed a charge later in another room.

This is a great house!


Dale Kaczmarek: Numerous times I had equipment with battery drains both inside and outside of the house that were inexplicable considering all the batteries were fully charged prior to the investigation and some even showed 65 minutes of charge left when they suddenly died. Several times I thought I heard either voices or strange noises coming from various parts of the house that could not be explained as other researchers since we were almost always together.


Stan Suho: Yet another great old historic building, this one located in Rockford. We arrived around dusk with the usual suspects and were given the first class tour by the proprietor. The rooms were small as was the style back then and all interconnected. Out in the front yard there were several very old Indian Mounds.

The Command Post was set up in the basement which gave us fairly easy access to the room I was interested in. This was a small room on the third floor where Dale had recorded a little girl’s voice on a previous investigation. The complete G.E.I.S.T. setup was placed in the room along with the IR Camera and Microphone feeding Audacity. Because all the rooms were interconnected and the house was very old, all the floors were squeaky which prorogated through the whole house.

While G.E.I.S.T. was running on automatic the group went outside to do some EVP at the Indian Mounds. This might be a good place for a future G.E.I.S.T.  Setup, except for having to deal with the occasional Freight Train passing by. Then back inside to finish off the rest of the evening with more EVP sessions, most of which I participated in.

I took many Photos and Videos of the activities of the group thought out the evening  and participated in as many as possible.  Reviewing all my Audios and videos turned up nothing of paranormal nature. This place could use a following up investigated based upon prior evidence collected.


Evidence collected:  

Gender.MPG during an Ovilus X session in the Red Room the Ovilus X says,“Gender” and a few seconds later a whispery male voice in the background also repeats the same word, “Gender.”  

Grunts.MPG during an EVP session in the Red Room a question was asked, “Can you make one of these dresses move?” A grunting sound is heard in the background. Another question is asked, “Do you like the dresses in here?” And a louder and longer grunting sound is also captured.  

Howling sound.MPG during the initial walkthrough as we were about to enter the Master Bedroom, a strange howling sound is recorded on a hand held camcorder in the background.  

Jim’s here.MPG during a Ghost Box session in the Red Room a question was asked, “Is there anyone in this room that wants to talk with us?” The Ghost Box responds with, “Jim’s here.”  

Response.MPG during an EVP session in the Red Room a question was asked, “I would really to hear that beautiful lullaby that I heard last time I was here.” Several seconds later, the static IR camcorder in the Master Bedroom picks up a response that is indiscernible.  

Response2.MPG during an EVP session in the library a question was asked, “If so, can you join us in the library?” A few seconds later the static IR camcorder in the Master Bedroom picks up a whispered response which is heard to make out.  

Scream tinker.MPG during an EVP session in the Canning Room in the basement a disembodied scream is recorded after the question is asked, “How many servants did the Tinker’s have?”  

Singing Red Room.MPG while conducting an Ovilus X session in the Red Room, singing is picked up in the background. It sounds muffled and was probably coming from the Nursery.  

Singing2.MPG while conducting an EVP session in the Red Room background singing is again faintly heard and recorded.  

Whoop tinker.MPG while just beginning our first EVP session in the Red Room, a whoop sound is recorded in the background.  

Yes2 tinker.MPG while conducting a Ghost Box session in the Red Room a question was asked, “Do you want us to leave?” The Ghost Box responds with, “Yes.”  

Yes again tinker.MPG while conducting a Ghost Box session in the Red Room a comment was made, “He does a real nice job running this place.” (Referring to Steve Litteral) The Ghost Box responds with, “Yes.”  

Yes tinker.MPG while conducting an EVP session in the Red Room a question was asked, “Are you a relative of the Tinker’s?” A whispered response replies with, “Yes.”


Conclusions: Again this location did not disappoint us with lack of evidence and personal encounters. There does definitely seem to be a female presence of some kind in the Nursery as we twice encountered and recorded the sounds of a female singing voice in the background. This is amazing! Last time we were here perhaps the same female presence was humming Brahms’s Lullaby in the Nursery while we were still unpacking and setting up downstairs.

There were lots of disembodied voices and true EVPs picked up along with Ovilus X and Ghost Box hits. However the Indian Mounds outside were very quiet and perhaps not active at all. Part of it could have been all the train contamination that evening as well.

I think another follow-up investigation with emphasis on the Nursery would definitely be in order. Additional video and audio equipment as well as equipment should be placed in this area as it seems to be a very active portion of the building every time we investigate here. I look forward to another investigation soon!

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