Alton, IL

For those who don't know anything about Alton, IL, its  on the Mississippi River across from St. Louis MI. Its a really cool college town with nice restaurants and friendly bars. 

On the haunted side of things, the entire town is said to be haunted. This is due to the fact that it housed the first Illinois State Penitentiary. The prison was built in 1833 with only 24 cells. As the years went by the prison had to add more cells, by 1855 they were up to 296 cells and it was known as "bluff Castle." Due to where the prison was built, on the side of the bluff, conditions started to deteriorate and was closed in 1860.

The prison was re-opened in 1862, but this time it's prisoners were Military for the Civil War. The problems from the first time it was closed had not been dealt with and running down even quicker. The prison was severely over-crowded and disease ran rampant though the prisoners.  Again, due to the prison built in the middle of the bluffs, when it rained, all the mud, sewage, water and garbage would flood the prison. Prisoners started dying quickly from dysentery, pneumonia and measles. Then in 1862 the first case of small pox hit and even though the prison did their best to immunize the soldiers, it spread too fast. It spread so fast in fact that they shipped all the small pox victims to a quarantine hospital that was on an island of the Missouri shore. The real name of the island was Sunflower Island, but it quickly became known as Smallpox Island. The smallpox outbreak took more than 260 prisoners to their grave, while the other diseases affected the rest the 1,200 prisoners.

Men were dying so fast and in such large groups that the city decided that they would bury the confederate soldiers in a mass grave. The Confederate Cemetery has all confederate soldiers but the 260 that were buried on Smallpox Island. When the soldiers would die, they wouldn't go to the cemetery right away. The route to the cemetery was very steep and rough on the horses and carts so they made sure that they had enough bodies to "make the trip worth it." Legend is that they would put so many bodies on the cart that when they would get to the very steep parts of the road, bodies would fall off and roll into the woods. When this happened, the drivers would not take the time to put the bodies back on. Well, in the 1980's there was man and his dog walking near the road in the woods and the dog found human remains.

The prison was permanently closed in 1865 and the remaining prisoners were sent to St. Louis. During the war, 1,354 Confederate soldiers, 215 civilians and 240 Union Soldiers and guards died at the prison.

In good faith, in 1907, the government erected a monument at the mass grave with all the names of the soldiers who perished at the prison on bronze tablets. Also, you can see the monument dedicated to the 260 men who died from smallpox on the island. 

Today, only a very small portion of a cell block still stands.Here's where the haunting come into play. When the prison was torn down, it was torn down delicately so that the stone could be used to build new buildings and homes throughout the town.

Haunted Spots in Alton:

McPike Manson- One of the most famous haunted houses in the town

The Mineral Springs Hotel- The best spot to get info on all the best haunts in Alton

The Cracker Factory- One of the best kept secrets

The Enos Sanatorium- Former tuberculosis sanatorium and underground railroad station. Might be the most haunted spots in Alton

The First Unitarian Church- Will you see the spirit of the suicidal minister?

Spirits of the Civil War & Alton's Confederate Prison- The cause of the whole town being haunted

Milton School- Lots of legends surround this school

The Hartford Castle- Mansion turned speakeasy serves 2 kinds ofspirits

Hop Hollow Road- Forgotten roadway once used to transport the dead to the graves

Lewis & Clark College- You might get detention for all eternity form the dead headmistress.

The Ghost of August Mayford- Will you see the vanishing police officer?

The Franklin House- First luxury hotel where you can check in but you might not check out!

Alton National Cemetery- You might just get a glimpse of proud Union soldeir 

 

Skepticism

I'm what I like to call a "believing skeptic." I know its an oxymoron, but I'm a bit of an oxymoron. I'm a skeptic about most things, most people say I'm negative, but those people are jerks...that's a joke. But I just have a very analytical brain. My brain is always on, its actually a problem, I suffer from depression and severe anxiety problems. Its not ideal, but its also not something that I am embarrassed about. The one positive is that I read and learn constantly to shut my brain down from certain things. Most  of my time goes into learning about all things paranormal. When it comes to the paranormal I open myself up more because from what I have gathered in my short time on this Earth is that the world can't always be summed up by science, equations and 1's and 0's. There is so much about life that unexplained and to me, that's what gives life excitement.

When I say that I am a believer, I don't mean I walk into a house and think that every noise, bump and knock is a ghost. I don't believe in orbs. I would say 99.9% can be explained as dust particles or bugs. I know this is a controversial view, especially in the paranormal community, but I do not really believe in psychics. Don't get me wrong, I think that certain people may be sensitive to certain things or changes in their bodies and the vicinity around them. But do I believe that someone can talk to a spirit that passed or can someone tell me my future or can someone give me the winning powerball jackpot numbers, my answer is a very respectful no. To each their own I say though. I would never disrespect anyone's beliefs or ideals.

But my skepticism doesn't close my mind down so much that I would say "I don't believe anything that cant be proven by science." If I believed that then all of this would be a huge waste of time for me. I keep an open mind to all things paranormal, but I also believe that a little bit of skepticism and a scientific approach is good for this venture. Using a scientific approach is the only way to prove to nay-sayers that there is more to this world than we see everyday. Even with evidence there are always going to be people to who don't believe and like I said, to each their own.

I know the paranormal community is a tenacious one and we will continue to search. As one of my favorite characters of one of my favorite shows said, "The truth is out there" and we will continue to strive to prove it.

That's all for now. I will continue to update this blog as much as I get to. Even if no one is reading it, it is fun for me to write and get all my thoughts out on the page. But if you do enjoy reading it, please hit that like button, follow us on Facebook @ionghosthunt and we have created an Instagram account and will be sharing to that as well. So please, follow us on all social media sites so we can get our name out there. I hope all the dads out there have a great Father's day!

-Andrew

Welcome!

First off, the name Occult Nerds...The word "nerd" has become so chic along with geek these days. Anyone who puts on a pair of heavy plastic glasses, vintage band or Marvel t-shirt calls themselves a nerd or "geek chic."  Yes, I wear Marvel/DC shirts, own every Star Wars movie, own many many collectibles and read comics, but that isn't where our name comes from. Allison and I love and absorb all things occult and paranormal. We read books on them, watch movies, tv shows and documentaries. I have every paranormal or occult podcast downloaded to my phone and tablet. We have taken trips to haunted locations, taken "haunted" tours and spent hours in a local closed down mental hospital. Like I said, we absolutely love this stuff. So the word "nerd" isn't to make light of the paranormal and occult, it is to show how much we love it.Why we love it...no idea, but it has intrigued us for years and we are ready to take that intrigue to a new level.

Maybe you'd like to join us or maybe you just want to follow our adventures through the website, Facebook and Instagram, either way, we are excited you have decided to come along.

We will be sharing stories, pictures, opinions and just some of my random crazy thoughts. I love all things macabre, mysterious and weird, so who knows what all I'll write on this blog. Please check in whenever you have a chance, I will try to make sure I update the blog at least every week. Also, please give us a follow on Facebook @IONGhosthunt if you enjoy the website. Instagram to come soon.

-Andrew