Researcher to discuss local folklore
By Scott Bellile
If you ask Wisconsin paranormal researcher Chad Lewis where some of the creepiest tales of ghosts, creatures and UFOs can be found, it turns out you don’t need to leave the Badger State.
“I travel the world in search of the unusual. I’ve been to 12 counties now looking for legends. What I find is the Midwest has some of the best legends in the world,” Lewis said.
Lewis, co-author author of the book “The Wisconsin Road Guide to Haunted Locations,” invites local paranormal believers and skeptics alike to hear tales of the strange and share their own encounters at his “Haunted Wisconsin” visual program at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 14, at New London Public Library.
The free presentation for all ages will reveal where in Wisconsin people can encounter wicked spirits, phantom hitchhikers, cursed hotels and monstrous hellhounds. Some folklore will cover Appleton, Seymour, and yes, the New London area.
“I like to focus quite a bit on what’s in people’s own back yards,” Lewis said.
One “backyard” topic will be Marsh Road located between Weyauwega and Royalton. Lewis said every year he receives half a dozen new reports of individuals chased by vanishing balls of light there. Others claim to hear voices or feel a tap on their shoulder on Marsh Road.
Chicken Alley, northwest of Seymour, draws tales of vanishing snowmobiles in the summertime, an angry man who will curse visitors with a lifetime of bad luck if they stand in the road, and even phantom chickens that leave behind no road kill when motorists run them over.
“Haunted Wisconsin” attendees will also hear tales of Plainfield murderer Ed Gein, the Mineral Point Vampire and Appleton axe-murderer Kate Blood’s bleeding gravestone.
As a teen growing up in Eau Claire in the 1990s, Lewis became fascinated by nearby village Elmwood’s status as UFO capital of Wisconsin. Lewis interviewed UFO witnesses as a psychology student at UW Stout, and whenever he presented his findings, people would ask him for help with whatever oddity they saw in the sky or in the woods.
Lewis researched peoples’ tendencies with the paranormal and found: Higher educated people are likelier to think paranormal entities could exist. Men tend to believe in “flesh and blood” phenomena such as sea monsters and Bigfoot while women tend to lean toward intangible concepts such as ghosts and ESP. And people are more willing to share ghost encounters than UFO stories because spirits are more mainstream in culture, plus ghost sightings date back centuries before Roswell 1947.
“UFOs still haven’t hit that mark,” Lewis said.
Lewis said “Haunted Wisconsin” will aim to give paranormal witnesses a setting where they can feel comfortable sharing their story with someone. Often 30 percent of his attendees will tell him a story, many of which he hasn’t heard before.
“It’s just mindboggling how many people have a story,” Lewis said.