Samuel Seymour

Samuel Seymour wasn’t born in Rockford. Like many of the families living in Illinois in the mid 1800’s, Samuel came from the East coast. He was born in Litchfield, Connecticut on December 14, 1829. He attended school in Massachusetts and became a teacher for a while.

In 1849, Samuel got struck with “gold fever” and he became one of the many men who left their homes in an attempt to strike it rich in California.   He worked on the ship to help pay his fee for the passage. He was 20 years old and the trip around Cape Horn must have been quite an adventure. Later in life he would entertain his friends and family with tales of the journey.

Unlike most of the men who headed west for the gold, Samuel actually was successful. He would use this money to build a very lucrative financial foundation for himself.

Samuel returned to the east and that was where he met his lovely wife, Laura Lewis. They were married in New York in 1855. Samuel and Laura moved to Rockford in 1857 and Samuel started to sell insurance. He used some of the money he had made in California to invest in real estate.

Samuel and Laura did very well here in Rockford. They built several houses and seemed very happy. Samuel finally retired in 1896 and was able to live off the proceeds of his wise investing.

Laura became ill and eventually died in 1898. Samuel surprised his friends when he quickly became enamored with a Mrs. Carrier who worked for him as a housekeeper after the death of his wife. Mrs. Carrier at first rejected his marriage proposal but when Samuel had a nuptial agreement written up that gave her one of his properties, she suddenly realized how attractive Samuel was.

Today’s newspapers are filled with couples who air their “dirty laundry” for the public to see. It was really not much different at the turn of the century, here in Rockford. And so it soon was with the recently married Mr. and Mrs. Seymour. She accused him of not supporting her financially and he accused her of trying to take all his money. Samuel filed papers stating that he would not be responsible for any of her debts and he changed his will to leave everything to his nephew. Samuel called his “buxom wife a tarter” (which back then meant someone who was sharp and sarcastic in character).

Samuel actually hired a wagon to come pack up all of his belongings. It seems things got very heated when the driver tried to load some of Mrs. Seymour’s furnishings. The papers said she had to defend her home with weapons!

Mrs. Seymour stated in court when she filed for divorce that Samuel would lock her into the attic at night. He also supposedly abused her mentally and physically.

Samuel tried to settle out of court but the $2,500.00 he offered was not enough for the former house keeper.

The marriage really lasted only a couple of months but the divorce proceedings drug on for years. Finally in 1902, the divorce was granted to Mrs. Seymour. She received the houses and the property that Samuel promised in the pre-nuptial agreement. They were valued at over $7,500.00

This might have taken the wind of out some men’s sails but Samuel was nothing if not a romantic and he married a third time in 1902. On September 20, 1902, the paper announced the wedding of Samuel to Florence E. Kennish from Davis Junction. They built a new house on State Street and seemed very happy. Their relationship must have been considerably better than Samuel’s second marriage. They welcomed a baby boy in June of 1903. They named him Porter Kennish Seymour. Samuel was 74 years old when his son was born!

Samuel must have held onto some of his distrust of woman though. He passed away in March of 1906, and in his will, Samuel left no provisions for his wife Florence. He left his entire estate, worth $16,000 at the time to his infant son, Porter. Florence decided to contest the will and later was given half of the estate.

Besides leaving this colorful tale for his legacy, Samuel ‘s family has also left some ghost stories behind. His wife Laura supposedly loved her house so much she is still there. The house was built in 1882 and they lived in it until Laura’s death in 1898. They also had another house just around the corner that Samuel had built earlier. Samuel himself supposedly haunts both houses. Samuel worked hard for the money to purchase those properties and maybe he is just staying around to make sure that they are properly taken care of.

 

 

Copyright © 2014 Kathi Kresol, Haunted Rockford Events

The House Of Emma Jones

Emma Jones and her husband Frank were married in Rockford in 1898. Emma was born in Orfordsville, Wisconsin in 1879. The newlywed couple moved around a little, but eventually they settled in a lovely home not far from the Rock River on the city’s east side.   Legend has it that Frank owned a transportation company and traveled quite a bit for his work. Emma would sit in the attic window of her home and watch for his boat to come up the river.

Emma had her dogs to keep her company while Frank was away. The dogs were devoted to her and would follow her everywhere. She spent many hours caring for their large home and neighbors would often give compliments about the beautiful home. It was easy to tell that Emma truly loved her house.

 

Time passed and Frank died, leaving Emma all alone in the big house. She still had her beloved dogs by her side and still liked to sit in the attic window though the view was blocked with other buildings that had sprung up over the years.

Emma couldn’t care for the house as well in her advanced years and it fell into a state of disrepair. Her precious dogs passed away and her grasp on reality started to slip. Family members became concerned and Emma was put in a nursing home. Her confusion worsened and she did not understand why she was not in her lovely home anymore. Sometimes, Emma would wander away from the nursing home and make it back to her home. She couldn’t go in, of course and her concerned neighbors would see her wandering the grounds and call the nursing home to come collect Emma.

The family finally had to admit that Emma would not be returning to the house that she and Frank had shared and they made the painful decision to sell the home. One of the first realtors to show the place brought a young couple to the home. He realized that the electricity wasn’t working so he made his way into the basement to check the fuse box. He didn’t have a flashlight with him so he lit a match. In the flickering light of the match he was startled to see an elderly woman standing next to him! The match went out and when he finally got another one lit, the woman was gone. The realtor hurriedly checked the fuses and got the lights to come on. Of course, he never mentioned the woman in the basement to the couple waiting upstairs.

The couple purchased the home and worked very hard to restore it to its former glory. They were slightly concerned with some of the strange things that happened around the house. They often heard the sound of dog’s claws on the hard wood floors and the sound of pieces of metal rattling. They also heard strange knocking sounds all through the house. The couple had exterminators come check for mice but no reason for the knockings could be found.

One day, they walked into the front parlor and found a little old lady standing there. She looked at them quite cross and demanded to know why they were in her house. They stood there in shock as she walked past them and went out the front door.

They mentioned the visit to the neighbors who told them it was probably Emma. They explained that Emma was confused and didn’t understand that the house was no longer hers. They told the couple to phone the nursing home to let them know that Emma had wandered away again. When the couple called, they were stunned when the receptionist replied that it could not have been Emma that visited them. Emma had died weeks before!

The couple moved out shortly after that.

The next man to own the house didn’t stay long either. He would receive phone calls in the middle of the night. At first, no one responded to his greetings. But finally, one night when he answered the phone, a voice asked him, “Am I dead?” The voice, he claimed belonged to an old lady.

After that, the house stayed empty for a while and the neighbors would speak of seeing someone sitting up in the attic window, the same windows where Emma often sat to waiting for Frank.

Emma’s house was eventually bought by Meld, a non-for profit organization that assists teen mothers. Remodeling was done to create office spaces. During the construction, workers had quite a few incidents with the house. When they stepped outside to take a break, the door would lock by itself behind them. They would turn off all the lights when they left for the evening and walk out to the back where there was a parking area. When they glanced back up at the house, the lights would all be lit again.

The reports of strange incidents didn’t stop when the remodeling was finished, however. The ladies in the offices would complain about items turning up missing only to be found in some remote place. They had a little tradition of baking cakes to celebrate the birthdays of the women who worked in the building. The women would leave the cake in the kitchen area on the counter, and several times they later found that a hunk had been removed from the center. After discussing it, they decided that if Emma were truly still there with them, they should be more accommodating. So they started to cut a piece of cake and leave it there for Emma. And after that they never had trouble with baked goods again.

Women working in the building also told of strange noises and decided that it was Emma’s dogs. They supposed that it was the dog’s claws and the medals on their collars that were making the noises.

They never felt “frightened” but they were startled at times. One young lady who was often the last to leave in the evenings tells of the night she left very late. She turned out the lights, locked the doors and set the alarm. She got into her car and was driving past the front of the house when for some reason she turned to look at the front. There is a large window in the front door and through that window, she saw a little old lady standing on the staircase. She didn’t stop and go back inside. She said she knew exactly who it was.

Later, the house was remodeled and turned back into a home. It is now owned by a nice family who have really made it into a beautiful home once again. They say that they have never experienced any strange incidents since they have moved in. Maybe Emma approves of the house she loved belonging to a family once again.

 

 

Copyright © 2014 Kathi Kresol, Haunted Rockford Events