Saturday, March 7, 2015

Hauntings of Caryville, WI

So Calahan came running into my room the other day yelling "MOM YOU HAVE TO LOOK AT THIS" and he totally hijacks my TV.  He flips to the channel that Monsters and Mysteries of America is on and shows me the snippet where it talks about the Devil Dogs in a Wisconsin town.  I told Cal, I said "That's in Caryville" ... and he's all "huh?"  I said "Caryville, it's between Eau Claire and Rock Falls, it's that little blip of a town you drive through."

He looks at me all shocked and says "SO WE LIVED RIGHT BY IT?"

Um Yeah, and Mommy totally KNEW about it too.... LOLOLOL....

We moved away from there when he was 14.  SO yeah, it wasn't something that I was like "oh hey, Cal, let's go to one of the 'most haunted areas' in Wisconsin that we live right by!" ... yeah....   Mom's cousins got married in the "Haunted Church" in Caryville...  lol.... right across from the "Haunted Schoolhouse"

So I thought I would make this entry for HIM - anyway ....  I am putting it here, because it's part of our history.  Of where we lived, the area we grew up, etc.  

So here you go Calahan.

This is the episode.  It's about 15 minutes long, and starts out at about 28:50 - if you want to fast forward to that point.

Here is some written history of the area (proving to Calahan it's in Caryville)


The silhouette of a hanging person in a belfry.
Stories of being possessed by the spirit of a young boy or ghosts of children playing in corn fields.
Those are just some of the encounters people say they've had while visiting the small town of Caryville. Many question their validity and people who live in the town say they're fed up with ghost hunters, and vandals.
The Sand Hill Cemetery one of five locations believed to be haunted in Caryville. People who live in the area have told NewsCenter 13 numerous times that the hauntings aren't true. Authors and ghost hunters Chad Lewis and Terry Fisk tried to shed some light on the myths.
Many say Caryville, Wisconsin is one of the most haunted places in the Midwest.
"People that had visited the place talked about some of the strange things that took place" says Lewis.
One of the most popular stories is that of a young boy who haunts the historic school house in Caryville.
"People insist that the spirit of the boy resides in the school yet" says Fisk.
The legend says a boy trying to escape an abusive father and took shelter in his school.
"In the morning the teacher came to the schoolhouse and found his frozen body sitting in his desk" says Fisk.
And if you sit in his desk Fisk says "you'll feel his spirit pass through your body.”
But that's not all that people experience.
Lewis says "they hear the piano being played. They eve see the keys being moved."
Intrigued by the stories, Lewis and Fisk set up shop for the night.
They sent up "motion detectors to night vision cameras, audio recorders, E.M.F. readers really to try and rule out any normal or illogical explanation" say Lewis.
That night, they found nothing unusual. Nor could they find any evidence of the boy's death.
Fisk says "only one boy that ever died while being a student was a young boy named David. He died in 1957 at the age of eight from Polio."
But he died in the hospital and not the school.
Lewis says there’s "a lot of the activity that may have a normal explanation, window shades and such banging against the door and just the whole atmosphere of it being dark, creepy and secluded."
Making the possibility of a haunting doubtful and giving it a “Not Haunted” grade. But across the street, myths of a priest's suicide in the belfry hang over the church.
Fisk says "he was upset because there were plans to sell the school across the street."
This possibility prompted him to hang himself.
Fisk says people have "driven past the church and seen an apparition of the priest, his body hanging in the belfry."
But Fisk and Lewis say Lutheran Churches don’t have priests and there's no record of the death.
"We haven't found any scientific evidence of these two places being haunted" says Fisk.
These findings, or lack of findings, give the church the same "Not Haunted" grade.
Down the road we come across the alleged watery grave of a high school prom queen.
Lewis says "she had been drinking and was intoxicated and she drove the car into the water."
Some say phantom headlights drive the surrounding roads, playing chicken with drivers.
Fisk says "right before it smashes into them the car seems to disappear."
And Lewis says if you are brave enough to look into the water you won't she her looking back at you "but you'll see the reflection of her vehicle's headlights staring up from the waters."
Because there's no record of the crash, the hunters believe a haunting here is doubtful giving this site yet another “Not Haunted” grade.
A narrow dirt road leads to another supposedly haunted area, the Meridean boat landing. Legend has it, that the area is haunted by Meridean herself.
Fisk says "she was on a ship coming up the river and she passed away and they buried her nearby here."
Lewis adds "much like a siren in the water, she tries to entice people to save her." And he says if you are foolish enough to do so "you will meet the same fate that she did."
During their hunt they were put a little on edge by a mysterious sound.
Fisk says it was "unlike any sound that we have ever heard."
Could it have been the legendary hell hounds possibly left behind by the last person to live on the island, more than 70-years ago?
Lewis says "many cultures believe these dogs actually did the devils bidding."
Knowing the history of the island and their own encounter makes it possible the area is haunted but they never found any scientific evidence making four out four for “Not Haunted” grades.
Finally, on a hill near Caryville is the Sand Hill Cemetery. Lewis says it's home to many of those who died on Meridean Island.
Fisk says people "report hearing the voices of children playing in the corn field."
Lewis says people see "mysterious balls of light hovering through this cemetery, hearing people calling their names" and feelings of not being alone.
They've investigated the cemetery many times even with psychics and Lewis says there are definite "feelings of spirits still roaming the area."
The head stones show people are buried here, and the stories match the history suggesting the site is possibly haunted and being the area to receive the “Haunted” grade.
It's not known where many of these stories come from, but they have brought in many people from all over the country and vandalism has become a big problem. Because of that, many locals say it's virtually impossible to maintain many of the sites. Dunn County Sheriff Dennis Smith says his deputies will not hesitate to write a ticket for trespassing, and the people living in these areas will not hesitate to call the police when they see anything suspicious. Other than the howling wind and eerie atmosphere nothing out of the ordinary or unexplained happened during the hunts.

So let me show now ........ how close we were.  This is the area I grew up.  I lived in Eau Claire most of my life.  I lived on the south side, on the north side after I had kids.  From 13 to 16-ish I lived (off and on) in Rock Falls, WI which was about a half hour travel time (by car) from Eau Claire.  

There is a little "TREE" Icon for the National Park there above the P's in Chippewa on this map.  That is where Caryville is, as show on the map below.
 Caryville is literally a little "you blink, you miss it" type of town that you hit RIGHT BEFORE you hit Rock Falls which is almost another "you blink, you miss it" type of town but like triple the size of Caryville.

Historic Church and Schoolhouse Information:
A number of Caryville locals are “fed up” with ghost hunters and legend trippers, so beware if you decide to start asking questions. Primarily, Caryville residents have become tired of the vandalism that has become rampant at locations that are considered haunted in the area.
There was never a boy who froze to death inside the old schoolhouse. There was, however, a boy named David who died while he was a student at the school. But he died of Polio at the hospital.
There is no record of a priest hanging himself in the belfry of the old Lutheran church. Indeed, Lutheran churches do not have “priests”. Some locals have claimed that a priest hung himself in the belfry of the old church because he was upset that there were plans to sell the schoolhouse across the street. There is no record of this death, however.
Paranormal investigators, Chad Lewis and Terry Fisk investigated the church and schoolhouse in Caryville and gave it a “Not Haunted” grade.
Police will not hesitate to write a ticket (with a hefty fine attached) for anyone caught trespassing at the church and schoolhouse in Caryville and folks living nearby readily call the police if they see anything strange going on at this location. Get permission to visit the Caryville church and schoolhouse.
Ghosts and the Paranormal at the Church and Schoolhouse in Caryville, Wisconsin:
The ghost of a young boy is said to haunt the schoolhouse. Legends say that this boy was trying to escape an abusive father and froze to death inside the school sitting at his desk. Legend trippers claim that if you sit at his desk, you can feel his spirit “pass through you”.
Some people have claimed to be able to see the silhouette of a priest hanging in the window of the belltower at the church.
Dinges, P. (2007). The Truth Behind the Caryville Myths. Retrieved June 8, 2011 from (this is the article copied at the top) 
Shadowlord (1998). Haunted Places Index. Retrieved May 25, 2011 from
StrangeUSA (1901-2012). Old Caryville Church and Schoolhouse. Retrieved June 8, 2011 from

Now, I went out to the church and school on a couple different occasions.  And I did not pick up on sprites, I have always been able to.  And I didn't feel any difference in either building than it being a "normal" building.  My cousins got married in the church on what would have been my 11th Anniversary to my ex husband - and my grandparents 57th Wedding Anniversary.  I often say that my Grandmother - who died in 1999 - died so she could spend their anniversary with my Grandfather in Heaven.  It would have been their 50th that year.  

Anyway .....  I never felt anything around the Church or Schoolhouse.  But the bridge that went over the river.... in Caryville (going the back roads to Eau Claire) ....  it always made me nervous.   And that's the river they claim the Devil Dogs - or Hell Hounds - are, there, in Caryville.  I also never heard of this story until I was 18 to 20.  I lived in the area and never heard the stories.  I found out about it, by reading about it in a book.....  

The folks in the area - DEFINITELY do not talk about these legends.  They will deny it if they believe in it or not.  m,p0 

But it is history, and lore, from where we grew up.  It's interesting to say the least.  

There are some haunting in Eau Claire and Chippewa I'll have to tell you about too.

Location:  Caryville, Dunn County, Wisconsin
  • Some web sites erroneously refer to Meridean as 'Meridian' or 'Maridean.'
  • The island is on the Chippewa River, not the 'Meridian' River as some sites claim.
The Reputed History:  
  • The  ghost of a young girl named "Mary Dean" haunts the island and boat landing where she had committed suicide.
  • Shortly after the death of Mary Dean, three ferries mysteriously disappeared in that area, resulting in the ferry crossing being closed down.
  • Several teens have drowned while swimming at the boat landing.  Their deaths have been ruled as suicides.
  • At one time there was sanitarium on the island run by a doctor who owned several dogs.  These dogs haunt the area as "hellhounds," in other  words, as black phantom dogs with red glowing eyes.
  • Another story is that the dogs viciously killed their owner's child.
  • About 50 years ago, two youths who were parked in their pickup truck at the boat landing were killed by some type of beast.  Their bodies were never recovered.  The authorities later found their empty truck which was splattered with blood mingled with hairs from some unknown type of creature.
The Investigation:  

During the lumbering days, there was a town named Meridean on the island.  What is today used as a boat landing was at one time a ferry crossing where people traversed the Chippewa River to the island.
Historians have uncovered a number of stories about how Meridean got its name.  All of them make reference to a girl named "Mary Dean."  The favored story is that a Mrs. Dean and her charming, young daughter Mary were traveling on the Chippewa River by steamboat.  Mary won the hearts of many of the passengers during the journey.  She suddenly became ill and was taken ashore.  She died and was buried under a tree.  The area was then named "Meridean" to commemorate her.
  • Although there was once a thriving lumber town on the island, we have been unable to confirm the historicity of a doctor alleged to have had a sanitarium and dogs.  According to local historian Dick Feeney, there never was an sanitarium on the island.
  • We have been unable to find any documentation verifying the alleged disappearances of the ferries.
  • While it is certainly possible that swimmers have drowned there, we know of no documented cases.
  • We have found no evidence to confirm the story about the deaths of two people in a pickup truck.
The Reputed Phenomena:  
  • The ghost of Mary Dean has been spotted near the boat landing.
  • After dark, some people have heard the howling and gnarling of the hellhounds, others have seen the glowing red eyes of the beasts in the woods near the boat landing, and a few have actually seen the hellhounds running down the Caryville Road.
  • Other witnesses have reported hearing movement and screams come from the nearby woods at night and seeing a dark shadowy figure dart across the road.  Could this be "Blackie," the demonic figure reported at both the Caryvilleschoolhouse and cemetery?
  • According to an eyewitness, on one dark night there was a bonfire and a huge chair (similar to the statue at the Lincoln Memorial, only on stilts) across the road from the boat landing.  Three pairs of glowing red eyes could also be seen in the woods nearby. 
  • The Dare:  If you park your car near the boat landing, at the bottom of the hill below the Caryville Cemetery and shut off your headlights, the hellhounds will appear.
The Investigation:  
  • Our investigative team did hear a strange animal-like sound that emanated from the island.  The sound was unidentifiable and not comparable to any known animal sounds.
  • We did interview the eyewitness who saw the huge chair and glowing red eyes.  It is possible that the "chair" was actually a deer stand as this area is very popular with hunters.
  • The Meridean boat landing and island are popular places for camping and teen parties, so it's not uncommon for there to be bonfires in this area.  This could also account for the sounds of screams.