A Second Salem - Whitewater, Wisconsin

water tower Stories of strange happenings in Whitewater have been told for many years to the new freshmen at the University of Wisconsin

pratt institute The tales started when the Morris Pratt Institute, a Spiritualist college, was built in 1889. It was started because Morris Pratt, at the advisement of psychic Mary Hayes, found iron ore where she had told him to dig. The college had regular lectures on all kinds of psychic subjects and had an "all-white" room for conducting seances. The residents dubbed the building The Spook Temple. It was eventually tore down but the institute still has offices in Wauwatosa.

Before the Pratt Institute was established there were many rumors of witches in Whitewater which caused one newspaper to refer to it as "the second biggest center of witchcraft in the country." There are varying accounts, but it is said that there was an active coven in the late nineteenth century that had ceremonies in tunnels and kept an alter in either the field behind the university's Wells Hall dormitory or in Oak Grove Cemetery. The alter and several dead coven members, are supposedly buried where the alter once stood. Wells Hall, it is said, has had many hauntings since it was built in the late 1960s. The ghosts are usually young adults who had died in tragic accidents.

worth tombstone One of the legends is about Whitewater's three cemeteries, in that they form a triangle that is called the Witch's Triangle. All the buildings and land on the sides of the triangle are reportedly haunted. They say that Calvary Cemetery has gates that close on unsuspecting freshman that sneak in at night. It is the final resting place of the axe murderess Mary Worth who, on Halloween night, rises from her grave to unleash her rage on new victims.

In the fall of 2003, while hiking on the trails near Calvary, a professor and several other people saw a strange flying object. They were sure that it was a UFO and posted flyers asking others who had seen it to let them know.

A shocking story of the cemetery is one that says on Halloween night someone dug up the the body of a baby girl and left it on the steps of the university's student center. Some people say it was done as an antiwar protest, others say it was drunken pranksters.

Near Wells Hall and Calvary Cemetery is the stone water tower in Starin Park. They say that the park was used for rituals in the park around the tower, which lured malignant entities to the site. An iron fence was put up with the pointed spikes tilted inward as if to keep things in rather than out of the park.

As for the witches' tunnels, there is a small tunnel system between some of the city's oldest mansion-sized homes. These tunnels may have been used as Underground Railway hideouts for escaping slaves at one time, but one of them is part of a vary strange tale. One night in 1981, the members of the Alpha Sigma sorority were having dinner when they heard unusual noises coming from the basement. The young ladies hurried downstairs to find that the floor was riddled with bricks and debris that had exploded out of a boarded up tunnel that they hadn't known about. It is now considered to be haunted.

It is said that the disturbances are caused by the development of the city that ruined a lot of the Indian burial grounds, part of which still remains on the west side of the town.

Whitewater Lake is another home to unusual happenings. In 1909, large ice floes were found floating in the lake in June. In 1923, some fisherman said that their boat turned over and they were dragged underwater by a creature with long tenacles. They had a hard time getting back up and when they resurfaced they were covered with small bite marks. Also in 1992, three people that had rented a house on the lake said that they saw a gathering of black-clad people chanting and dancing on the beach until they "heard a loud gurgling noise and saw something start to come out of the lake." The three people made a quick retreat and the next morning police found small bones and pebbles in patterns on the beach where the incident had taken place.

Tale from Jeff W.

"I live in Whitewater, and according to legends, the whole town is haunted. The university that is in town was originally built as a school for mediums and research into the paranormal. I have been told that all possible ways to leave town require going over running water and that the cemeteries form a five-pointed star when looked at from above. There is a hill behind the student dorms that is supposed to where a coven of witches (evil ones, of course) meet. Also, an apartment building was once the residence of a guy who fancied himself a master of the black arts, and is haunted.

Whitewater has been referred to as the "Second Salem." I can attest that some areas of town just really give me the creeps. The problem is this: There is reputed to be documentation telling about the weird things in town. However, the town council has made sure that none of that exsists in town anymore."-Jeff Woosley