William and Mary Boardman came from England in 1835. In the late 1830s, not too many years after the nearby Apple River Fort was attacked by 200 Fox and Sauk warriors during the summer of 1832, the Boardmans built a log cabin and settled in to farm in the rural county of Carroll, outside of Shannon, Illinois.
The Boardmans raised their large family in this home, and were eventually buried in the cemetery on the property. One of their daughters, Margaret, married a neighbor, Thomas Holmes, also from England, in 1889. They built the white farmhouse on the property, and their family remained in possession of the farm until the 1980s when bankruptcy forced them to sell.
The property eventually came into the possession of Mr. Kelchner in 2006, who named the home and land Willow Creek Farm.
According to Mr. Kelchner, and several paranormal professionals, there are seven to nine main presences inhabiting the farmhouse, which dates back to 1869 according to a plat map. (See http://trueillinoishaunts.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/legends_and_lore_of_illinois_issue_38.pdf for detailed information and pictures.) In addition to the haunted farmhouse, paranormal activity is reported in the barn and machine shed, and the cemetery where the Boardmans are buried. Native American spirits are also said to roam the fields and pastures of the old farm.
Some of the activity reported on the 28 acres includes odd noises such as bangs, footsteps, knocking, talking, doors opening, doors closing, something heavy being shoved or rolling across the upstairs floor, someone falling down the steps, children crying, Native American drumming, and the barking of dogs. Many detect the scents of flowers and tobacco for no apparent reason. Hot and cold spots are reported, as well as feelings of being touched in an affectionate manner. Unfortunately, more aggressive action is also reported including incidences of choking. Full body apparitions and shadow-type beings have also been witnessed on the property including a man wearing a gray fedora hat.
Several interesting EVPs have been picked up by paranormal investigating teams. (To hear some of these EVPs, visit http://forestcityps.com/investigations/evps/ and http://www.hauntedwillowcreekfarm.com/claims.html.)
A few of the ghosts believed to inhabit the home include Sarah, Joe, Robbie, and “creeper.”
Sarah, the ghost of a middle-aged female, is seen most often, wearing a floral print dress and an apron. Sometimes she appears in black boots.
A little girl named Lily has also been reported in the house.
Joe is the spirit of an African American man, and his presence is most often reported in the basement under the family room and under the stairs.
An entity with a disturbing negative energy is called the “creep” or “creeper.” Believed to be a reverend or a doctor named Archibald Gram while living, the negative energy this spirit emanates is usually directed toward women. Evidently he was abusive to his family while living in the home. The northwest bedroom where his presence is most often felt is thought to also hold the trapped ghost of a young boy called “Robbie.” The 10 to 12-year old child possibly died of a prolonged illness, and he is, perhaps, held prisoner by the “creep.”
The private resident of Willow Creek Farm, considered by many investigators to be one of the most active sites in Illinois, is now known as 25516 Spring Valley Road, in Cherry Grove Township, located in rural northwestern Illinois. The property is available for weekend tours and investigations.
Kleen, Michael. Haunting Illinois. A Tourist’s Guide to the Weird & Wild Places of the Prairie State. Thunder, MI: Thunder Bay Press, 2011.