Although I have written a story about Haunted Willow Creek Farm previously, I decided this story was worth delving into a bit deeper, and came up with additional historical information that I found to be of particular interest.
Numerous paranormal investigations and medium visitations have taken place at this location in Cherry Grove Township situated in Carroll County, Illinois over the last several years due to reports of ghostly experiences.
Since 2006, when Albert Kelchner purchased the farm, he has recorded his encounters with the paranormal, and has sought the help of experts who have identified Willow Creek Farm as one of the most haunted places in Illinois.
Various sounds have been heard at the farm including footsteps, knocking and banging, people talking, children crying, dogs barking, and the sounds of Native American drumming.
Both the scents of flowers and tobacco have been reported. Objects are moved around. Hot and cold spots are detected throughout the dwelling. There have been many accounts of being touched, punched, choked, shoved, and even hugged. Shadow people and apparitions have also been seen at Willow Creek Farm.
According to mediums who have visited the farm, there are possibly seven to nine “regular spirits” abiding in the house, but perhaps two to three dozen “passing through at any given time.” Mediums also indicated that there are several spirits in the barn and machine shed, and that many Native American spirits remain in the fields and pasture.
The history of the farm itself dates back to 1838 when William and Mary Boardman built their log home on the site that autumn.
The Boardmans had arrived in New Orleans from England in 1835, and made their way up the Mississippi River to a trading post in Rockford, Illinois. William worked as a blacksmith in the area until land opened up for settlement in Carroll County.
At that time, he left his wife and two baby daughters, Mary and Martha (also known as Margaret), in Rockford, and traveled to Cherry Grove to work the plot of land where he wanted to make his home as required by the government. After working the land with a team of oxen, and building a log cabin, William returned in the spring of 1839 to retrieve his family.
William and Mary raised their daughters at Willow Creek Farm. Research shows that the daughters married brothers. Martha married Thomas Holmes in 1853; and, Mary married David Holmes in 1855. The couples remained in the area; and, Mary and Martha both passed away in 1908 within a couple of months of each other.
Mary did conceive a child out of wedlock in December of 1853, at the age of 16. The child, William B. Barnes, was living with his grandparents Mary and William Boardman according to the census of 1860.
The eldest daughter of David and Mary, Margaret Etta Holmes, born in 1872, married Frank Zier Sr. in 1889; and the property remained in the family until the late 1980s.
The family did have its share of tragedies, Martha and Thomas lost four infants and a 12 year old daughter; and, Mary and David lost eight babies in infancy. That seems to be an extraordinary amount of baby deaths, even in that era.
It is uncertain how many of these children died at Willow Creek Farm, although a five-month old great grandchild of the Boardman’s, Ray Edward Sturtevant, is reported to have passed away in the house from pneumonia at the age of five months in 1910.
Willow Creek Farm is open for visits on Friday nights and Saturday nights from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. by contacting them through their website below.
Kleen, Michael. Haunting Illinois: Northwestern Illinois. MI: Thunder Bay Press, 2011.