Paul Schmidt – Paranormalist – TIP
Paul Schmidt

Like many of the investigators with TIP (The Illinois Paranormalists) I have a life-long interest in the paranormal. I grew up reading every book I could find on ghosts, big foot, the Loch ness monster, the Bermuda triangle, etc. I thought my interests would always be satisfied through the pages of books until the show Ghosthunters came on. Then I realized there were others out there like me that were interested in the paranormal and experiencing it. I began a web search and found all kinds of groups and information on ghost hunting. I went on my first overnight 18 years ago in Indianapolis at the Hannah Mansion. While looking for more ghost hunting opportunities I came across other overnight excursions and ghost hunting groups. I began to attend all the meetings I could and went on excursions when offered. I had experiences on the excursions that hooked me even more. Perhaps the best thing I was able to do was go to the Waverly Hills Sanitarium—perhaps the most haunted place in the country. While Waverly was not very active that night the creepiness factor was still 10 out of 10. Ten years ago I formed The Illinois Paranormalists (TIP) and have enjoyed planning where to investigate.

Like many of the TIP investigators I have a life-long interest in the paranormal. I grew up reading every book I could find on ghosts, big foot, the Loch ness monster, the Bermuda triangle, etc. I thought my interests would always be satisfied through the pages of books until the show Ghosthunters came on. Then I realized there were others out there like me that were interested in the paranormal and experiencing it. I began a web search and found all kinds of groups and information on ghost hunting. I went on my first overnight 18 years ago in Indianapolis at the Hannah Mansion. While looking for more ghost hunting opportunities I came across other overnight excursions and ghost hunting groups. I began to attend all the meetings I could and went on excursions when offered. I had experiences on the excursions that hooked me even more. Perhaps the best thing I was able to do was go to the Waverly Hills Sanitarium—perhaps the most haunted place in the country. While Waverly was not very active that night the creepiness factor was still 10 out of 10. Ten years ago I formed The Illinois Paranormalists (TIP) and have enjoyed planning where to investigate.

 

Conference Presentation

The Illinois Paranormalists (TIP) is a paranormal investigation team located in the Chicago suburbs. They are primarily a ghost hunting club that seeks out evidence of the paranormal in various locations throughout the Midwest including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, and Wisconsin. During the evening ghost hunters will share their experiences with investigating ghost sightings and sounds, relate techniques used in an investigation and share a variety of equipment and how it is used. They will discuss how places to investigate are located. TIP will answer whatever questions people may have about ghost hunting.

A picture of the Rock River on a overcast day.

Originally published in The Rock River Times.

A picture of the Rock River on a overcast day.

William Sussmilch first became concerned when he stopped by his parents’ house around noon on July 20, 1889. His parents were both over 70 years old and had been suffering with health issues. Williams stopped by daily to check on the elderly couple. His concern grew as he stepped inside the deserted home.

He found two letters waiting for him on the table. William sunk into a chair as he read the words his parents had written to him and his siblings. He knew these words would change all their lives forever.

His parents, Johann G. and Christina Sussmilch had only lived in Rockford for a few years by 1889. They had been married for forty-two or so years and had three children. Their older son, Eugene lived in Kansas while their daughter lived in Iowa. William was a well-know artist in Rockford who was so successful he would one day live on National Avenue.

Christina had been an invalid for a while, but Johann was able to care for her with help from his son William. But Johann’s health started to decline and soon he was under the care of one of the more prominent doctors in town, Dr. Kimball.

Johann didn’t seem to be getting any better and struggled with depression about his failing health. The family decided to gather to lift their father’s spirits. By all accounts, the visit was a joyous one. But the time came for the families to travel back to their homes. The parting was heart wrenching for everyone. The parents stated that it would be the last time the siblings would ever see them in this life. The family assured their parents that there would be many more visits between them.

But Johann and Christina knew better. They had been discussing their fears for months and Johann’s recent illness only made it clear that they needed to act soon. So, they put their affairs in order and wrote their letters to their children. Then they left those letters for their son William to find.

The letters were later printed in full in the Rockford Daily Gazette.
“My Dear Children-
We are going to leave home this evening. If we are not here when you come tomorrow, we shall not be among the living. It has required a strong determination on our part to leave the world in this manner, and to seek the rest we so much long for. But our poor bodies are too nearly worn out to endure this suffering longer. Therefore, do not mourn for us, for we will be better off. As we have lived so long together, we wish to die together, and rest in one grave. So, then, farewell, and believe we shall have the rest we long have wished. Even in death, your loving parents.”

Christina too, wrote her goodbye for her children:
“My Dear Children-
Your father has expressed my feelings. God will forgive us for ending the life which has been so full of suffering. Also forgive us the pain we will causes the dear ones we leave.
Yours to the last breath, your loving Mother.”

William also found two checks next to the letters. He grew instantly concerned and notified the police. The police began searching for the elderly couple. They made inquiries of the neighbors and others in the city.

Through these inquires authorities eventually found a streetcar driver, William Spencer who had seen Johann and Christina. He told police that he had seen an elderly couple on the streetcar the night before. Spencer said the elderly couple rode to the end of the South Main line. The gentleman was calm and didn’t seem troubled at all. But the woman’s actions caught his attention. She seemed “restless and nervous” according to Spencer. He mentioned that the woman had trouble walking and was very pale.

The police decided to drag the river since that is the direction that the couple was last seen walking. The papers all reported this mysterious disappearance and people began to join in on the search. The word spread quickly about the missing couple.

A few hours later, police received word that two men fishing about four miles down from town along the Rock River had seen something in the water. The men, John Milner and George Ennett testified at the inquest later that day to what they have found.

One can only imagine what was going through the minds of the policemen as they traveled through a scenic wooded area to the farm outside of town. As they neared the bank on the east side, they saw an eerie sight. Sticking out of the murky was of the Rock River was a woman’s pale hand.

They borrowed a boat and made their way to the place in the river where the body was submerged. As they neared the location, they could see that there were two bodies in the river: one male and one female. When they retrieved the bodies, they found a rope tied from the woman’s right hand to the man’s left hand.

The men worked in silence as they cut the bindings and removed the bodies. The couple was laid side by side in the grass. There were no signs of a struggle, in fact, Christina had a hat tied onto her head and here shoes were sill on her feet. The men who recovered the bodies later described the contentment on Johann and Christina’s faces stating they appeared to be sleeping like children weary from play. The scene was described as extremely sad.

The bodies were put in a single pine coffin and taken to the undertaker’s office. Coroner Aagensen held a Coroner’s Inquest. He called many witnesses to establish what had happened to the elderly couple. The jury declared the deaths to be suicides. They stated that the couple suffering from their infirmities had decided to die rather than live one without the other.

Johann’s and Christina’s devastated family followed their parents’ wishes and buried them together in Greenwood Cemetery.

The newspaper eloquently stated:
“And so calmly and deliberately they resolved upon self-destruction. Soon they stand on the river’s brink. With premeditation their arms are tied together and as they lived, so they resolved to die, clinging together in mute despair. Trusting their souls to God they wade into the stream and are soon engulfed in the merciless current. So far as they are concerned the past is washed out and to the future alone, they look for hope. Hand in hand they stood together in the battle of life, hand in hand they died. The marriage vow taken in early life was sacredly kept, and who knows but that their last words were: “Till death do us part.”

 

Copyright © 2024 Kathi Kresol, Haunted Rockford Events

815 Stone Scrubbers
815 Stone Scrubbers logo is seen with a headstone and scrub brush.

815 Stone Scrubbers got its start in the spring of 2023 when a group of history buffs gathered for one goal – to honor local Civil War soldiers by cleaning their gravestones and researching their histories. The leader of the group, Janie Jenkin, educated herself on the proper ways to clean gravestones, facilitated donations for supplies, and received permission to clean stones at Rockford’s largest cemetery, Greenwood Cemetery. When the 2023 season started, 815 Stone Scrubbers had a lofty goal to clean and restore 458 gravestones at Greenwood. From May to October, the group got to work as they met on Saturday and Sunday mornings to scrub, scrub, scrub! 

Three team members from 815 stone Scrubbers pose for a picture.

With such a great response from the community, 815 Stone Scrubbers was able to meet their 2023 goal! And along the way, the volunteers bonded over making our beautiful park-like cemetery a little prettier for the folks who stroll through Greenwood and giving thanks to our veterans who came before us. Not long after the season ended in October 2023, 815 Stone Scrubbers was honored to receive the Mary Stuart-Carruthers “Service Before Self” award from the Rockford Rotary, presented by Rockford’s Mayor, Tom McNamara. 

Looking forward to our 2024 season, 815 Stone Scrubbers have already acquired permission to clean and preserve gravestones at one of Rockford’s oldest cemeteries, Cedar Bluff Cemetery. With over 200 Civil War veterans buried at Cedar Bluff, we’re surely looking forward to honoring and preserving more Rockfordian’s histories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want to contact 815 Stone Scrubbers?

Email them here:  [email protected]

 

815 Stone Scrubbers articles in the local news: 

https://www.wifr.com/2023/06/25/local-group-cleans-up-graves-belonging-veterans/

https://www.wifr.com/2023/10/09/local-group-finishes-cleaning-468-graves-greenwood-cemetery/

 

Visit 815 Stone Scrubbers on social media:

https://www.instagram.com/815stonescrubbers?igsh=aGtjbjZ3NTJyMzl1

https://www.facebook.com/p/815-Stone-Scrubbers-100092408534457/

https://www.tiktok.com/@815stonescrubbers

 

Copyright © 2024 Amber Kresol, Haunted Rockford Events

Eve Harker
Eve Harker

Eve Harker has been studying and working with cleansings for over 30 years. Using different tools from old traditions from around the world, Eve has learned a lot about the different ways for cleansings, protection, and removal of negative energy/spirits have been done.

The Harker’s store has been open for over 6 years and is located in the mid-town district, pulling from our years of study and application to provide a wide variety of tools for different purposes to help promote a safe, clean, and stable environment. The Harkers make their own products as well for those who cannot burn incense/smudge sticks or are allergic as well. They have performed many house cleansings (including our own) over the years too.

Conference Presentation

Eve and her husband Brian Harker own Luna Datura’s Curious Gifts. Eve will be covering the different types of smudge sticks and sprays and the appropriate ways to cleanse and remove energy/spirits.

 

More Information

Luna Datura’s Curious Gifts Website

Chris Fleming
Chris Fleming

Chris Fleming is a spiritual counselor in private practice, a world-renowned paranormal investigator and medium, a fine artist, and a public speaker touring at events, colleges, and universities throughout the United States about paranormal topics and life after death.

Chris grew up in a haunted house as a child and currently lives in one. For over 24 years Fleming has appeared on several paranormal-themed television programs such as Ghost Adventures; Ghost Hunters; Psychic Kids; Portals to Hell; and the award-winning “Curse of Lizzy Borden.” Chris is best known for presenting on the international TV series Help! My House is Haunted; Dead Famous; and his most recent Haunted Scotland and Haunted Ireland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conference Presentation

“Lessons from the Dead and an Afterlife”

Chris Fleming shares what he has learned from over 50 years of communicating and dealing with spirits and what he witnessed during his near-death experience.

Amber Kresol

Amber Kresol is a lifelong Rockfordian and a Librarian who has worked at the public library for over 20 years. After getting a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology/Sociology, Amber earned her Master’s Degree in Library & Information Studies at UW-Madison. She spent most of her library career focused on teen services but has recently gone to the “dark side” when she joined the Local History Department in February 2022.

As Kathi Kresol’s daughter, it’s no surprise Amber caught the “History Buff” bug. Growing up with a mom who planned entire road trips around visiting historical places and dead folks, the love of honoring the people who came before us was ingrained in Amber early in life. Her interests involve educating people on Rockford’s history, assisting in research strategies, and participating in exciting community events.

When she’s not sharing her enthusiasm for local history, you can find Amber strolling through cemeteries, cleaning gravestones with 815 Stone Scrubbers, traveling, reading about the death industry, cross stitching macabre designs, or annoying her Wife with morbid facts about body decomposition.

 

Important Update To Hawley & Owens Cold Case

Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana confirmed Monday that a 1966 Chevrolet Impala, linked to the 1976 disappearance of Clarence Owens and Everett Hawley, has been pulled from the Pecatonica River. Eyewitness News WTVO WQRF.

See March 12, 2024 interview with Haunted Rockford’s Kathi Kresol: