With the fall weather turning bleak and old campus buildings beginning to creak, you may be wondering what secrets lay buried in Northwestern’s history. Turns out, the school and its surrounding areas are filled with creepy, weird and spooky stories. Here are some that may send a shiver up your spine this Halloween.
1. The Bernstorff Skeletons. Margaret Bernstorff, the 90-year-old daughter of a deceased Northwestern professor, lived in her Evanston home near campus with the dead bodies of her three siblings for years, said a news report from the Chicago Tribune. Officials discovered the skeletons, all covered with sheets in separate rooms of the house, just last year and removed them. Bernstorff told neighbors that her siblings had gone to live with relatives or fallen ill. They never expected that the sweet old lady next door was living among corpses. Whether Bernstorff was mentally ill or just unwilling to let go of her family is still unknown. Officials admitted her to an elderly care facility after they discovered the skeletons.
2. The Movement of the Rosehill Cemetery. This nearby burial ground is famous for its ghost stories — after all, it was created from parts of other cemeteries in the area, and dozens of graves were dug up and relocated in the process. According to prairieghosts.com, many famous historical figures’ bodies now lie buried beneath the soil in Chicago’s oldest and largest graveyard. The graveyard is said to be haunted by spirits of the deceased who were not properly laid to rest. Visitors and groundskeepers have reported visions of a woman in white hovering over her grave, the rattling of chains and moaning from within Charles Hopkins’s mausoleum and seeing the ghost of Richard Warren Sears.
3.The Mount Disappearance. In 1921, fraternity rush went wrong. According to Northwestern University: A History 1850-1975 by Harold F. Williamson and Payson S. Wild, the event somehow escalated into an uproarious fight between the freshman and sophomore classes for reasons unknown. Some of the participants ran into the lake. In all the chaos, Leigh Mount, a frat house hopeful, disappeared. After an extensive search, officials and Evanston residents had seen no trace of Mount. Nineteen months later, officials pulled his skeleton out from under the Lake Street Pier.
4. The Haunting of the First Methodist Church. Rumor has it that the Evanston church is frequented by the ghost of a man in a black business suit who glides up and down the aisles. One moment, the man is there and the next, he vanishes behind a pillar. When church employees and members search behind the pillar, the man is gone. A church employee said that the man who saw the ghost most often has recently passed away, joining his fancy friend.
5. The Leopold and Loeb Murders. The victim of infamous killers Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, Bobby Franks, is buried in the Rosehill Cemetery, a blog entry on the Northwestern Archives’ Web site said. Leopold and Loeb were two sons of wealthy families who kidnapped the 14-year-old schoolboy and murdered him just for the fun of it, crushing his head with a chisel and throwing his bloodied body into the back of their car. The two were sentenced to life in prison, where Loeb was murdered by another inmate over a pack of cigarettes. The other prisoner stabbed Loeb in the back 56 times with a makeshift knife. It is said that the ghost of the boys’ lawyer haunts the back steps of Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.
Who knew Northwestern had such scary skeletons in its closet — literally? Now, go spook your friends with your newfound knowledge of our school’s most shudder-worthy secrets.