Some people say that they don’t sense ghosts. But there are some who claim to know just by walking into a house that there are spirits lingering there. The family that moved into a house on the corner of School Street and Central Avenue knew almost immediately that they had some unseen presence in their new home.
The house was around one hundred years old when the couple moved in with their six children. It was moving day and the young wife was cleaning the house with her sister. The previous tenants had left some old furniture in several rooms. The front room had an old arm chair that had seen better days. The women moved the chair into a hall way so they could wash the floors. They moved on to another room to start the next cleaning project. Later when they returned to the front room, the chair was back in the original spot.
The women said they knew from that moment on that something was not quite right about the house. In an article written for the Register Star from 1987, the family claimed that though they were startled at times, they were never really scared by their spirit. It was rather unsettling though when they were home all alone and the stereo would turn on and off. They were also frustrated several times when something that they had just set down would be moved to a completely new location. One time the young wife had arrived home and set her keys on the counter. When she went to leave a little while later, the keys were no longer on the counter. She found them several hours later in the basement, a room she hadn’t gone into since she arrived home.
The young family claimed that they thought the ghost was a man who must have had children. He seemed to like to spend time in their youngest child’s room. They had a rocking chair in the room and sometimes it would begin to rock by itself. It made a distinctive sound as the runners moved back and forth on the carpeting. They would often hear their daughter talking to someone though no one happened to be in her room at the time.
The young couple did a little digging into the history of the house and found out that the haunting had started years earlier. They questioned several of the previous owners about their experiences in the home. It was soon clear that these strange encounters had gone on for decades.
Most of the stories were similar, footsteps coming down the stairs, things moved from place to place including heavy pieces of furniture. One family that had lived in the home during the early 1970’s had trouble with their attic light going on by itself. Apparently, the father thought his sons were trying to play tricks on him. He decided to end their fun by removing the light bulbs from the sockets. No one laughed when they came home late one night to see the light shining in the attic. The dad marched the boys right up those stairs all the way to the attic. They ran down quickly when they realized the light sockets were still empty.
One elderly lady that lived in the house in the late 1960’s claimed that she too was visited by the spirit. She would often hear the heavy footsteps walking on the second floor. They always seemed to stop by the front bedroom. One day she was alone in the house and heard the footsteps walking across the hallway to the front bedroom. She went up to find the room completely empty. She sat down on the bed for a while. She had decided that she imagined the whole thing and was just about to get up when she felt a presence sit down on the bed next to her. She said she saw the bed move like a large adult had sat down.
The older lady had questions of her after that incident. She found out from the neighbors that a family built the house in the 1890’s and generations of the same family lived in the house. The elderly woman always felt that the ghost was the head of one of those generations. She felt he looked after the families that stayed there.
The young couple that purchased the house in the 1980’s felt the same protective spirit. They soon got used to items moving around and sound of footsteps walking through the fourteen room house. The young wife even named him Henry. She decided to leave the armchair in the front room just where Henry liked it.
Research into the house on School Street proved that some of the history was true. The house was built around 1893 by Julia Ginders. Julia and her husband Joseph had arrived in Rockford around 1878. Joseph passed away and Julia built the large house on School Street for her daughters. Mary S. and Fannie lived in the house on School Street with their mother until her death in 1904. Mary would marry Harry B. Andrews in 1892 in the home on School Street. The newspaper articles describe a very fancy wedding for the young couple.
The couple stayed in the home after the wedding and eventually would raise their two children there. Harry would become a prominent lawyer in Rockford and open his own firm in the Brown Building downtown. Later his son Charles would join him in the firm. The Andrews family was well known on the West Side of Rockford and Harry donated a large parcel of land to build a park in his father’s name. Andrews Park still exists a few blocks up from the house on School Street.
Harry Andrews died in the house on School Street on August 5, 1941. Mary lived in the home until the time of her death in 1961. She left her children an estate worth $170,000 when she passed away. Harry and Mary’s children built successful lives of their own and moved out of the house on School Street. Mae never married and Charles became a lawyer like his father. Harry would be proud to know that Charles’ daughter also became a lawyer.
Though there would be no way to prove that the spirit felt in the house located on School Street is Harry Andrews, the home owners certainly felt that they knew who they shared their house with. Harry was proud of his family’s legacy to Rockford. He also was proud of being a protector for his family and maybe he still watches over those who live in the big house he once called home.
Copyright © 2019 Kathi Kresol, Haunted Rockford Events