The Witches of Whitewater


View Haunted Whitewater in a larger map

View Larger Map

I was born and raised in Whitewater, WI, where my family still lives. That's right, a full blown townie, just as my father and grandfather before me, all of us residents of Whitewater. Growing up in Whitewater, ghost stories where a dime a dozen, but it wasn't until I attended World Affairs Seminar in 1985 that I realized that this was not typical.

The seminar was held in Whitewater on campus, and I was one of two attendees from the home town. As our badges presented our home towns, I had some other students at the seminar come up to me and ask about Whitewater being the "Second Salem." While ghost stories where not uncommon in my childhood, I had never heard the comparison to the infamous Salem. Now I see they are making a movie about "The Witches of Whitewater."

I was able to take the curious up the hill to the haunted water tower in Starin Park which I had always known to be a haunted spot in town. The water tower is spooky because the fence around the tower has the barbed wire turned inwards as if to keep something inside. The "Witches Tower" is like this supposedly to keep the spirits trapped inside. Another common haunted story is the "School of the Black Arts." They are referring to the Morris Pratt Institute for spiritualistic studies. This school, which still exists today opened in 1903 in Whitewater. Interestingly enough, Mr. Pratt made his money in mining speculation in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, which has it's own chain of folklore and mysticism about the area going back to 3000BC, but more on that in a bit.

Pratt's decision to invest in the Upper Penninsula was due to a spiritual medium's recommendation which brings us to the story of the mystic witches' book. Ted Sullivan, of the Janesville Gazette, points out that an article on the Weird US website mentions that this book is now supposedly at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater's Library. If the book exists, I'm surprised that it didn't end up at the new library on Center St. as the house that previously stood on the site of the new library was also haunted, according to a school mate that lived there. I have heard stories about this mystic book since I was a kid, but I always understood it to be in a room under the old library on Main St. which is now home to the Whitewater Arts Alliance. This doesn't surprise me as the Hamilton House next door to the old library was once a stop on the Underground Railroad.

The Underground Railroad was not actually an underground train.  Many homes in the northern union served as safe houses for slaves escaping from the south and did have secret underground rooms. The underground railroad includes homes to the north and south of Whitewater. The Milton House to the south has a secret passage to a cabin behind the main house which is now a museum where one can walk through the tunnel. The home at 323 Merchants Ave. in Fort Atkinson also has an underground room and tunnel. The Merchants Ave. house is the house that my mother grew up in and it was my uncle that discovered the secret room and tunnel. Oddly enough, that house was also haunted as some of my aunts befriended the ghost who lived there.

Whitewater does have tunnels. My father confirmed this with his daily coffee clutch. A couple of the fellows in the group are retired city workers who have seen the tunnels and supplied the accompanying photos. The tunnel connecting the Hamilton House to the First English Lutheran Church across Main St. is still there, but it is all bricked up on each end. The tunnel system apparently also connected to a bunch of the churches and homes all in the Church St. area as well. These pictures of a tunnel section under a parking lot were taken on the other side of the church. I wish I would have known this when I was in the basement of the church learning to be a boy scout!

Whitewater also has a bunch of indian mounds and burial grounds which unfortunately got partially developed a while back. This isn't so mystic, though, as there are mounds all over southern Wisconsin. A mere 30 miles towards Madison is Aztalan, a place loaded with ethereal power. Aztalan was supposedly a trading post a long time ago which traffiked in copper coming from the mines in Upper Michigan. Aztalan is also a Native American site with cerimnonial and burial mounds. A stones throw away from Aztalan is the location of the submerged pyramids in Rock Lake [see Update 8/11 below]. It makes sense since Aztalan is in the perfect location in the driftless area between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River and still south of the heavy snow line. A history statement on the Rock Lake Research Society site suggests the existance of the pyramids.

Most of the haunted locations in Whitewater I am aware of do reside in the haunted triangle, but that makes sense as the house I grew up in was right on the triangle line. Whether there is meaning to this or not I don't know. What I do know is that I have been hearing these stories for over 30 years. The existence of spirits has just never been in question for me. While I cannot define any supernatural occurrences in my experience, This triangle area is where I grew up, and I do definitely believe there is something special about my childhood home.

UPDATE 10/10:

To the best of my knowledge, the trailer is strictly that, a trailer. I have never been successful at making contact with the creator nor have I seen any further information regarding production of the film. My guess is that the trailer is a stand-alone item, possibly created as a resume tool.

I continue to be impressed by the comments you all leave here. More information is always welcome, both good and bad. Please feel free to contact me with any further comments or questions at any time, and I will do everything I can to find out answers and publish them here.

Finally, if you like getting scared, I cannot reccomend enough the trip up to Green Bay to visit the TERROR ON THE FOX haunted house, sponsored by the Green Bay Preble Optimists. My wife, kids and I make it up there every year and it is always worth the trip!

UPDATE 8/11:

My family and I were just out at Aztalan for the day recently when we were approached by a gentleman who offered us and some other picnic'ers a free guided tour of the park. It turns out that there is an archeological dig of the old camp going on right now so the gentleman was just there to give tours voluntairly. While I did not catch his name, he said he had been the chief archeologist for the State of Wisconsin. I guess that gives him some clout.

The Aztalan settlement was actually made up of a group of Mississippians from Cahokia which was a massive settlement where St. Louis now sits. The Mississipians occupied Cahokia pretty much up until the Europeans came to the new world.

The dig is being done by the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and is going on by the water by where the inhabitants would throw all of their garbage. It was a neat tour, but what struck me the most was when I asked the archeologist about the Rock Lake pyramids. Here's the deal he said, when Aztalan was first discovered to be what it was at the turn of the 20th century, some guy found a unique pile of glacial stones in the lake. It turns out that they are not pyramids at all, but a completely bunk story made up to try to get folks from Aztalan into Lake Mills to spend money.

According to the archeologist, the fact that a book was written about the pyramids is enough to get a lot of people to believe in the story, however, after many years of trying to identify the pyramids of Rock Lake, no concrete evidence has ever been found. So there you have it! The Rock Lake Pyramids apparently are completely fake!

Tags: 

Comments

a lil creepy

hi my brother matt willey lives in whitewater it always came off a little creepy he told me all the stories during a visit this year for his graduation is it true that you have to pass over a body of water to every entrance into whitewater?? angie kygs1_2breed@yahoo.com

Watered Entrances

Come to mention it, that's not the first time I've heard of that, but I have never sat down and checked it. If I find the opportunity, I'll try to map them.

Look at the Map

If you go to the terrain view of the map at the top of the page you can see that all main roads cross over some body of water before reaching the town.

NOT TRUE

If you're coming into Whitewater from Janesville on Highway 59, you do not cross ANY water. The same is true if you come into Whitewater from Fort Atkinson; you do not cross ANY water. There is nothing more to these stories than college students looking for a thrill at a suitcase school on the weekends. Trust me, I know because I went there for my bachelor's degree in the early '90s.

Not necessarily!

Just because you don't see water, doesn't mean it's not there. There are underground streams all over Southeastern Wisconsin. It may also be that there are seasonal creeks and/or creeks that existed at one time but dried up or were re-routed due to development. And by the way, you are not the only one who went to Whitewater or lived there. Just because you were there for a BS or BA doesn't mean you know everything about the area! Whitewater existed long before the university did.

Water in Wisconsin

There are so many waterways in Wisconsin that I am sure if you looked close enough, one could find water of some sort which would be crossed upon entering almost any community in Wisconsin. I think Michael Feldman put it best: "[Minnesotans] claim 10,000 lakes, but we have at least that many that we don't even talk about because in Wisconsin, we think things speak for themselves so that we don't have to."

Water or no Water

I lived in Whitewater for several years with in the "haunted triangle" and always felt something of an unnerving presence when I resided there. It was not until recently that I learned of the cities past, and to be quite honest I am not at all surprised.

lovely ol whitewater

hearing all these things about whitewater...it actually makes sence...and why whitewater has some pretty messed up
people there...but whether you want to belive it or not...passing over water in general wouldnt suprprise me because those
who havent lived in whitewater there whole life and had family memebers who lived there...whitewater has changed drastically...
perhaps if you hadnt noticed everything connects and makes sence...its jus up to you to belive it or not...whitewater has always
had some freaky things happen in it...jus like the frat house by sentry that it burned down exactly 12 years after it burnt the first time
and quincedince that they both had dogs...???? shockingly enough it adds up...there are presents here in whitewater that have prolly
be disrupted by the major changes in whitewater

MOVIE

Is there a movie in the makings? If so, when is coming out? Did they stop filming? If so, Why? Could anyone answer my questions?

Your spelling.

Your spelling needs major help!!!!!!!

It is definitely true

I also was at the UW in the early 90's, and I lived at 418 W. Center Street almost directly across from the new library. I lived in a house with six other guys, and we all heard things such as voices and bathroom fans going on and off. The next year, after telling the new tenants NOTHING about this, they called us and asked if we ever heard voices in the attic. The entrance to the basement was hidden behind a panel in the pantry, and there was a stone tunnel-like part of our basement too. There were seven doors on the first floor, and only three of them were useful doors. Why so many? Things were definitely weird in Whitewater.

I believe a lot is true...

You may not know half of the stories and the whole crossing over water thing could be considered true, there r bodys of water you do cross when coming to water, just check it again. I have lived in Whitewater my whole life and have documented certain events so it is really interesting and terrifying at the same time, I guess you would have to see to believe. I do consider whitewater Wisconsin to be a second salem!

TV Interview

This last Monday, my dad, Roy, and I were interviewed by the Madison CW Station (Charter #2 or broadcast #57 on 10/31 at 6:20am, 7:20am, and 8:20am). We did the interview in front of the Watertower, and it should be airing on Halloween morning on the mentioned channels. I will make sure a link gets posted as I have some more information coming your way. Incidentally, the barbed-in wired fence is gone. There is now a nice new steel fence that looks pretty spanky new. Although we haven't heard, we suspect it was after this knucklehead broke in and clocked the City's head Water Guy when he went in to check the alarm earlier this year. The new fence looks nice and all, and it was way overdue in coming after how long we've been talking about that old fence, but yeah, I'll miss it! Incidentally, the water dude is ok, and the dude who broke in was "trying to get rid of the witches..." More to come soon...

Paranormal Investigations in Whitewater, WI

A paranormal investigator came to the college to take 40 random people out to investigate some hot spots in Whitewater.

We arrived at Starin Park and I, being an enthusiast in paranormal investigations and wanting to learn more about it, started EVP recording, which for those who don't know, EVP means Electronic Voice Phenomena. The idea is that we can't see spirits, hear them, touch them, etc. but we can use these electronic devices to record disembodied sounds. So with EVP it is believed that we can record these anomalies.

Back to my story, we were at Starin Park and the lead investigator was using the Telephone to the Dead device. I was recording it all. Amazingly enough on my first recording which was only a test recording, I got a low but loud growl or moan. Nobody at the site moaned or growled. My second and most amazing EVP was my third recording where towards the end, a student asked a "witch" named alice (who is a spirit, not alive) what she wanted to talk about. I got a voice on my recording that sounded like an older lady yelling, "nothing, just go away". However after listening to it several times me and a friend have decided that it might have been saying something more sinister. I won't guess into exactly what she is saying and I won't assume that we actually caught Alice. However I will say that it is most definitely a response from a disembodied voice.

So I do believe spirits are in Whitewater and I am planning to make a team to investigate some more of the claims and to see if we can find more stories to look into or find something new.

Paranormal Experience in Starin Park

This sounds pretty cool!  I hope you will come back an let us all know what you find out.  

I personally have never felt any presence up on the hill myself.  I spent a lot of time up there as a kid playing as my grandparents lived within walking distance of Starin Park.  That was where we had the city Easter Egg hunt when the booty was still Cambridge's Melster's Chocolate Eggs.  The cherry and  marshmallow were my favorites...

Weird Shrine/Statues off county H / bald bluff

Hey Matt, I went to UWW in the early '00s for a few years, and during that time a few friends and I would try and hit the 'haunted' spots. Namely, Paradise Rd in Jefferson, Natureland after dark, the watertower behind Wells West, etc. 

I've been up late tonight remembering a short hike I took with an ex-girlfriend of mine, and I think I've nailed down the area to Bald Bluff (Just north of La Grange on County H). We took the hike up to the bluff but at some point got turned around and off the regular path; I remember we ended up next to a really weird looking fenced in area with a bunch of shrine/statues... I remember distinctly one of the shrines looked like it came straight off the set of the movie Betelgeuse... it was basically the front doorway of a house, complete with a door, but the proportions were really out of whack... the whole structure including the doorway got wider as it rose from the ground. Looked really odd- and knowing the history of WW with the witches and all, I remember thinking "wow, that must be some kind of witch meeting place/coven" or something silly like that ;)

Anyways, I think I may have found it on Google maps, and after a little more googling I found a page with someone else's comment about "weird almost demonic statues" behind Irvin L Young's old factory. I'm assuming these places are one in the same. The place I found on G Maps looks like some dilapidated old buildings close to the road, and you can't see behind them on street view.. but on the satellite view it does look like there are some extra structures a little ways behind them.

I'm curious to know if you've heard anything about that area? Or if you know the story behind it? It's one of those things that's been in the back of my mind for almost 10 years now, and finally decided to try and figure out what it was we saw.

Bill (I may forget to check back here, it'd be cool to hear from you if you happened to read this. my email is will i am k eh l at gmail.com (without the spaces).


View Larger Map

Additional Article

I was just passed a link to this article at THE SIGNAL written of all people by my aunt April! Nice article, auntie! BTW Aunt April, knowing you used to live across the street from Rock Lake in Lake Mills, it has recently come to my attention that the pyramids in Rock Lake are a hoax!