GHOSTS OF THE PRAIRIE
The old Evansville House, which has been known in more recent years as the East Side Steak House, was built in 1834 and for many years it was used as a boarding house and a hotel. It was sold to the Van Patten family in 1894 and it was then that the strange phenomena began. According the legends, the prosperous boarding house had once employed a number of servants to meet the demands of the boarders and guests who stayed there. There was said to have been a chambermaid who had been unlucky enough to fall in love with a married salesman who had stayed there. The affair continued for several months until one day when the salesman snapped. He was lost in despair over his move for the maid but he was unable to marry her because of the wife that he already had. He somehow convinced himself that the young maid would marry another, so the salesman strangled the girl's one night. He had decided that if could not keep her.... then no one else would have her either!
The man escaped from the inn but it was said that the girl's spirit may have gotten her revenge. The salesman ran to catch a passing train that was leaving the town but somehow managed to fall onto the tracks and under the wheels of the passing car. He was horribly killed.Late one winter night, during the time that the Van Patten's owned the house, the "phantom walker" made his first appearance. The sound was described as someone wearing heavy boots, pacing back and forth down the hallways at night. Whenever someone would check to see if anyone was in the hall, the sound would stop and the corridor would be found to be empty.
The stories told about the house claimed the footsteps were being caused by the tormented ghost of the salesman, returning to the scene of his crime and searching for the spirit of his lost love, hoping that he could atone for her death. All that winter, the sounds continued until one night when Mr. Van Patten was lying in bed and listening to the footsteps. He noticed that they went down the stairs and toward the front door... and then finally, the sound of the front door unlatching and opening and the footsteps going out onto the porch outside.Mr. Van Patten sprang from bed and ran downstairs. When he reached the front door, he discovered that it was still latched! He pulled the door open and looked outside. The front porch was covered in a new layer of freshly fallen snow.... but there were no footprints there from the specter who had just left the building! The mysterious walker never plagued the boarding house again.
The Evansville house later became the East Side Steakhouse but is
unfortunately no longer with us. It burned down a few years ago and was
replaced by a gas station and convenience store. No hauntings have been
reported at this new building. Evansville, Wisconsin is
located in Rock County in the south central region of the state.
© Copyright 2001 by Troy Taylor. All Rights Reserved.
Return to the Main Page