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HAUNTED ILLINOIS COLLEGE

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Keira Kensington
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« on: October 13, 2008, 12:33:36 am »


The Smith House

Another allegedly haunted spot on campus is the David A. Smith House, which was built in 1854. Today, the structure is home to three of the women’s Literary Societies, the Gamma Deltas, the Chi Betas and the women of Sigma Phi Epsilon. There is a parlor for all of them but the Delts use a room on the main floor while the Betas and the Sig Phip’s have rooms on the second floor. The attic is used by all of the groups but there is also a dining room, a kitchen and an apartment at the back of the house.

 

There are several versions of the historic legend concerning the ghost in this house, but all of them claim that she is the daughter of the original owner and that her name was Effie Smith. Basically, Effie was being courted by a young man from town and they became engaged. When he proposed to her, he gave her a diamond ring and she was said to have scratched it against her bedroom window to see if the diamond was real. When she realized that it was, she etched her signature into the glass and her name remained for many years afterward. The window has recently been removed and this small and unusual piece of history has been lost.

Then, the story begins to take different paths. In one version of the story, David Smith was very disapproving of his daughter’s new fiancée and he literally locked Effie into a closet one day when the man came calling. Fearful of her father’s wrath, the young man hid himself in a small room that was only accessible from the attic. For some reason, he nailed himself in to escape from David Smith and he later died there. According to students who have been in the attic, the nails are still visible there today, nailed from the other side of the door! When Effie learned of her lover’s cruel fate, she threw herself from an upstairs window and died in the fall.

In the second version of the story, Effie’s young man went off to fight in the Civil War. Every day, Effie climbed up to the attic and watched for him to return. When she later learned that he had been killed in battle, committed suicide by once again, jumping out of the window.

Another variation of the legend has Effie being jilted by her lover and she again commits suicide. Regardless of what happened, the story stands that she killed herself and has since returned to haunt the house.

Effie’s rocking chair is still located in the attic and the stories say that if you move the chair away from the window (where it sits, facing out), leave the attic and then return later, the chair will have returned to its original position. This window is located in a storage area for the Chi Beta society and every year, they frequently test the chair and discover that the story is true! One young woman even walked into the room one day and the door suddenly slammed closed behind her. It is also not uncommon for cold air to suddenly fill this room, even though for years, the windows were painted shut. It was said that ice cold wind would often come from the window with Effie’s name etched on the glass.

Another interesting feature of this building is the tunnel that once exited from the dirt basement. This tunnel was once supposed to have connected to other buildings on campus and was said to have been used during the years of the Underground Railroad. As operations connected with this abolitionist system were always kept secret, and no records exist, no one knows for sure if the stories are true. Today, the tunnel is boarded up and remains only a curiosity of times gone by.

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