Or, Explore A Haunted House In Iowa
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Melville’s Haunted House: Unexplained Happenings Drove Couple Away in 1959
Written by Diane Langton in August 2014
Was it haunted or not? The house, whose address was “End of Skip Level Road,” stood three miles west of Millville in Clayton County.
Bill Meyer was born on the property. He was 15 when he helped build the house that seemed to be haunted when he and his wife, Annie, moved out in December 1959.
Strange events began to occur around Thanksgiving that year.
Bill, bedridden with a broken hip at age 83, and Annie, 77, weren’t particularly superstitious and they didn’t believe in ghosts.
But when the ambulance came to take Bill away from the house on Dec. 17, he and Annie said they’d had enough.
“I don’t think it’s safe to go in there,” he said. “I don’t know whether there’s going to be anything left or not. It’s hard to tell. The whole house might fall down.”
“I’ll say I was scared,” Annie added. “Anybody would be scared.” But she still vowed, “There isn’t such a thing as a ghost.”
Just before Thanksgiving, black soot-like dirt started falling through the ceiling, coating everything. It started at about 11 p.m. and kept going until about 3 a.m. In the morning, the coverlet on Bill’s bed in the parlor was covered.
They looked for cracks or disturbances in the plaster. Nothing.
On Dec. 15, another incident: “I was sitting there in the dark by the heater,” Annie said, “when a flower pedestal at the side of the room fell over with a big fern crashing over. You know how that would sound. The house didn’t shake or anything either.”
For the next two days, strange things continued to happen.
“Once I was sitting there in the dark when a glass on the stand by his bed across the room came down on my head and broke in a thousand pieces,” Annie said.
And there were noises. A sound like a crew of men hammering started in the kitchen, moved up the stairs, then back down to the porch.
Pills from a bottle behind a closed cupboard door were found in a pile on the kitchen floor.
Annie and Bill decide to try an experiment. They put an egg in the neck of a milk bottle on a stand at one end of the living room. They found the egg broken against the door on the opposite side of the room.
The frightened pair reached their last straw when on the night of Dec. 17, a separator bowl on the porch crashed to the floor, breaking several jars. An icebox on the porch fell over, too. They called their son, Elmer, who told his parents they needed to get out of the house.
An ambulance was sent to pick up Bill and the couple went to stay with Annie’s sister and brother-in-law. They left Annie’s two cats at the house.
The night they left, a couple of men checked the house at about 10:30 and everything looked fine. The next morning, the sheriff decided to check and found the bed upside down. He straightened it. Later, he sent someone to check the place again and again the bed was upside down.
That night, the sheriff sealed the doors of the house and placed eggs around the house. An egg in the living room broke, but the sheriff blamed that on the cats.
The Meyers’ son, Elmer, and his wife lived in a smaller house up the road with their 16-year-old son, Gene. Elmer went back to the house with a divining rod and reported to his father that it behaved very strangely when it was close to the house.
Pat Livingston, a riverboat captain, was not a small man — he weighed 260 pounds — and he wasn’t afraid of much. He volunteered to stay at the house. As he was beginning to fall asleep in the bedroom he saw a chair glide across the room. He ignored it and went to sleep. “ … the next thing I knew, I was lying on the floor. I’ll take a lie detector test or anything,” he said. “I woke up kind of groggy. I wouldn’t have believed it for love or money.”
News of the haunted house spread across the nation, drawing scientists and other researchers to investigate, but their tests proved nothing. There were no faults detected, no unusual electrical activity, no radiation.
No other unusual things happened after the house was sealed until a photographer went to take pictures of the house. “He was in the basement when a brick fell from the cellar wall and broke a crock on the floor,” The Gazette reported.
The Meyers never returned to the house, selling it to their neighbors, the Finnegans, in May 1960. They moved into a two-room apartment in Millville. Fifty acres of the Meyers’ farm were added to the Finnegans’ 240 acres. Elmer retained eight acres.
By then hundreds of curiousity seekers had passed by, some even stopping to explore.
General consensus seemed to be that the spooky occurrences were the work of pranksters.
When asked about the house they now owned, Mrs. Finnegan said, “We don’t believe in spooks. We just laugh it off as a joke when anyone inquires about us living in the house. It will remain empty, unless someone wants to rent it.”
No one ever rented it, though. It became a target for vandals and trespassers, until finally the Finnegans filled the house with hay, turning it into a barn.
A quarter of a century later, it still stood empty with broken windows and a sagging roof. It had acquired the name “Ghost Hollow” along with a batch of theories about the so-called ghost that drove an elderly couple from their home.