Day 11 of the 13 Days of Halloween Blog Chain, and I'm going to tell you a bit of ghost story...about a curse just a stone's throw from Nod.....
(In other words, nope, I didn't find the missing items from Day 10 and, no, I'm not over it yet....) So on with the story....
I will attempt to be as concise as possible, but I warn you....there's a lot to this story....Perhaps that's why I haven't shared it before....
Just a bit north of Nod lies the city (well, actually, it's more of a town than a real city) of Merrill.
Long before it was Merrill, however, it was known as Jenny Bull Falls....and it is here that the infamous T.B. Scott Mansion and its curse call home....
As history goes, in the mid-1800's, there was a small settlement of Indians in the area along the Wisconsin River which is now home to Merrill. The tribe was named Squiteo-eau-Sippi by the French traders, who were some of the first white men to inhabit the area.
Legend has it that, when white men came north along the Wisconsin River, they were welcomed by the Squiteo-eau-Sippi, and particularly by the tribe's chief and by the chief's beautiful daughter, whom the white men called Jenny.
Jenny, sadly, died unexpectedly, shortly after the white men's influx into the area. Although the accounts vary in the means of her demise (some saying she died in childbirth and others that she fell ill in an influenza epidemic), by all accounts...and especially her father's.....it was because of the white men.
In grief and anger, the chief buried his daughter on the hill across the river from his village, but cursed the hill for eternity. The chief's final prayer over Jenny's open grave was : O Great Spirit, grant me this peace for my child. Let this ground be sacred to her memory, and let it never do any white man any good."
Years passed. The railroad came, and long with it, a new name for the village...Merrill....in honor of S.S. Merrill, the general manager of the St Paul Railroad. The hill where Jenny's grave was was purchased by Thomas Blythe Scott, a wealthy lumber broker, who, ultimately, chose the hill for the site of his 3000 square foot mansion.
And things went downhill (get it?? down "hill"???) from there...
While many have attempted to "debunk" the legend of Jenny and the curse, there is no disputing that the land has been fraught with a series of strange deaths and a plague of bad luck. To keep things as brief as possible, the following is a summary timeline of some of the strange "coincidences" associated with the T.B. Scott Mansion.
(Photo of the mansion taken by me in 1971....Yes....I was obsessed even back then....)
(Another of my photos from 1971....Hmmm....don't know what that white blur is.....)
1884: The foundation for the mansion is laid. Mr. Scott is 55 years old.
1886: Mr. Scott dies at the age of 57. The house is not completed, but Mr. Scott's wife, Ann, encourages their son, Walter, to complete the house.
1887: Ann Scott died suddenly. Walter Scott subsequently went to Chicago to meet wit the architect and purportedly told him the hill was cursed. Walter was killed by the architect with a letter opener during an argument.
1893: Chicago millionaire, Kuechle, bought the house for a summer home. He spared no expense putting in the finest chandeliers, mirrors, and mantels. Later, Kuechle lost his money in a California gold mine fraud and mortaged the house for $5,000 to Chicago innkeeper, Tony Barsanti.
1900: Barsanti foreclosed on the mortgage and Kuechle signed over the deed. Kuechle went insane and died in an asylum. Barsanti, out of favor with the Black Hand Society, was stabbed in the back of Chicago's Union Station while waiting for the train to Merrill one night. The Scott mansion was for sale.
1901: George Gibson, an Illinois land speculator, bought the house from the Barsanti estate with the intention of using it as a home for elderly professional men. One day in August, he closed his office and went to inspect the house. He was never seen nor heard from again.
1906 - 1907: Mrs. Fehlhaber, a midwife, bought the house and 39 acres of adjoining river frontage. She took in boarders, hoping to make the place a hospital some day. One day, while out on errands in her buggy, she felt deathly ill and stopped at the nearest farmhouse for help. She died before the doctor arrived.
1911: During this time, one-armed "Popcorn Dan" was the caretaker of the mansion. In the winter of 1911, he returned for a visit to England where he was born.
1912: In the spring, Popcorn Dan booked passage on the Titanic, saling from England on April 14th. He was listed among the missing. After the death of Popcorn Dan, a family named Lloydson became the caretakers of the house. Mr. Lloydson died of alcoholism after the Lloydson family moved out west.
1919: Herman Fehlhaber, Mary Fehlhaber's widower, gave the property to the City of Merrill.
1923: The City of Merrill gave the land and house to the Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross order on the condition that they establish a hospital.
Some local folk will tell you that the old place is still filled with mysterious laughter, disembodied footsteps, and an occasional apparition in the bell tower. Others say it's just so much nonsense. Some also say that the three trees that grew over Jenny's grave still stand next to the house. Whether fact or fiction, only the river and the hill know for certain. But, one thing IS for certain....the above occurrences are, indeed, "fact," and another fact: There have been no more strange or mysteriously untimely deaths since the sisters took over the mansion.
So...there you have it. The curse of the T.B. Scott Mansion....
And, if you're curious as to what it looks like today, I'll leave you with some additional photos.....literally from today. That's where I spent my afternoon....
(One of Jenny's trees?)