Voices from the Grave: Ghosts at the Gas House

By Kathi Kresol

Dave Ferguson worked for the Gas Company located along the Rock River and was very proud of his job. By 1893, he had worked for the company for just over twenty years shoveling coal. He liked the thought that his hard work in the darkened rooms of the gas manufacturing plant brought light to the homes of Rockford.

But in the spring 1893, things changed for Dave. At first, it was just an annoyance but by April of 1893, Dave, along with his fellow co-workers, started to fear for his safety while at work. Dave finally had to report the strange occurrences in the plant to his supervisors and as often happens, the story was leaked to the local papers.

The workmen at the Gas Company were being plagued by a ghost. It started out as shadows flitting about the walls of the place. Next, tools were moved about and loud bangs were heard. These were just annoying incidents that did not really frightened the men. Dave was later interviewed by the local newspaper and he shared that those experiences had occurred for some time.

Recently, things had changed and the alleged ghost began to throw things at the workmen. At first, it was little things, pieces of coal or small tools. It was only after larger items began to sail through the air that Dave and his co-workers became worried.

It would usually begin at around 8 p.m. and then continue for hours throughout the men’s work shift. The men felt like they were being watched and several reported that they saw a large shadow blocking out the light from the skylight in the roof. The shadow appeared to watch them from its rooftop vantage point. Then as the evening progressed, they would begin to see the shadow flitting around the plants walls. Shortly after these shadows were seen, items would begin to fly through the air. Large chunks of coal and lead pipes were thrown about and Dave and his co-workers were frightened that they would become injured.

When the men were interviewed, they were asked their impressions of the origin of this apparition. Ferguson, the group’s spokesman, stated that he believed that the spirit was of a person who had done something bad in life and was doomed to continue “the wrongdoings.”

Ferguson also mentioned that all of the men had experienced another apparition for years that walked along the west side of the river. That particular ghost was frightening to behold because it was dressed all in white and was completely headless. It would appear inside the plant on occasion and walk through before it disappeared. It never tried to interact with the workers and certainly never threw objects.

The men believed that the new apparition was trying to harm one of them and that action needed to be taken for their safety. When asked what the supervisors had suggested as a solution for this dilemma, Ferguson just shrugged. “They told us to go find a rabbit’s foot for protection.” Not just any rabbit foot would work, though. According to the men, the foot must belong to a rabbit that was caught in a church graveyard.

Further research into this story failed to reveal whether this method proved successful, however. There was no further mention of the situation in the local newspapers.

Kathi Kresol has researched the paranormal history of Rockford for over a decade. Find more stories and a schedule of upcoming Paranormal Events on her website: hauntedrockford.com.

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