True Ghost Story: Ashburn Neighborhood, Chicago, Illinois
Maria, a proud grandmother, found the perfect home for her family in the Ashburn neighborhood on Chicago’s South side. A few weeks after she moved in, the activity picked up. It got worse when her granddaughter would visit.
Maria’s Ghost Story
“I think we were here less than a month when the sounds started coming from the basement,” Maria said. “It was the spring of 2010. I remember because it was my granddaughter’s birthday and our house warming on the same weekend.”
“It was really strange when I heard the sounds from the cellar. We kept the door locked because there was just a lot of stuff piled up. We didn’t want anyone to go down to see the mess or get hurt.”
The previous owners sold the house at less than market value and they moved out quickly. It had been in their family for nearly 100 years. All together, there had only been 3 or 4 owners since it was built in 1880. Maria didn’t understand why they’d leave some of their possessions, but she agreed to donate it to charity to help expedite the sale.
“In the rush for the birthday party, I didn’t even think about cleaning the basement. I just put more stuff downstairs. Once I had done that, something changed. It started to give me the creeps.”
The activity started with light knocks from inside the basement. “Sometimes when I did the dishes (the kitchen was near the basement door), I’d hear the knocks. They were soft knocks, more like taps. I just ignored them because I thought it was my imagination.”
Over the next 2 weeks, the knocks became stronger, and her dogs, Siberian Huskies, would avoid the hallway by the basement. “That was the really strange part. I have big dogs and they’re not afraid of anything, but they wouldn’t go near the basement.”
During the birthday party, a new sound emerged – footsteps on the basement stairs. “I heard the sound of steps on the stairs. It was more like someone was running up and down them. I thought a kid was down there, but the door was locked. You can only get in the basement from the hallway entrance. There’s no cellar door and no windows. I had to check a few times during the party and housewarming to make sure no one was down there.”
The footsteps and knocks continued from time-to-time over the next month. It was much more noticeable when Maria’s granddaughter visited. “When we heard the sound from the basement, the dogs would circle around Victoria and stop her from going to the hallway. I had been down there to check it out a dozen times and I never found anything. No kids, no adults, no pests like raccoons or feral cats. I was at a loss to explain it.”
“Then, one night, I just decided to see if I could catch someone, or something, in the act. I sat at the top of the stairs and waited to see what was causing it.”
Maria fell asleep, but she woke up when she heard the stairs creak.
“I heard the creaking and I got really cold. I shook my head to wake myself up a bit more and I turned on the stairs’ light. There was nothing I could see, but the boxes in the corner shook.”
Maria went down the stairs and turned on all the lights. “I was expecting a cat or rat, but I found nothing. When I turned around, the boxes shook again and I heard a clang like someone took a hammer and hit a sheet of metal.”
Maria moved the boxes aside and found an old grate in the side of the wall. “I bent down to look inside and there was something behind it. It wasn’t an animal; it was an object. I was just going to leave it when I heard the clanging again.”
She was alone in the basement, just boxes and lawn care items. She didn’t understand what was causing the noises and shaking boxes.
“I realized I needed to open the grate and get the object out. Luckily, we had the tools in the basement, so I got a screwdriver and a prying tool and started to loosen the grate.”
The half-dozen or so boxes by the grate started to shake while she wrestled with the screws holding the cover on. It took some struggling, but she got it off in 10 minutes.
“I reached in and found the object. It was a toy car. Not any toy car, but an antique. I think it was from the 1930s or 1940s.”
“I pulled it out, dusted it off and set it down on the floor. It moved about a foot on its own, then stopped. In fact, I didn’t feel the creeps any more, either.”
When she went upstairs, her dogs were waiting for her with tails wagging. “It was so strange. The dogs didn’t seem afraid of the basement.”
Maria said the knocks and footsteps have stopped. It’s been quiet in the house for more than a year.