Paranormal activity in Eastern Iowa - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Paranormal activity in Eastern Iowa

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by Brady Smith

IOWA CITY (KWWL)-- Ghosts, specters and spirits: they have a timeless allure. Eastern Iowa has its fair share of them, according to paranormal researcher Chad Lewis.

Cedar Rapids' Oak Hill Cemetery is supposedly haunted by a phantom named "Tillie."

"She's an old Czechoslovakian ghost. It was said that the townsfolk stoned her to death, and she roams the cemetery seeking revenge at those who took her life so many years ago," said paranormal researcher Chad Lewis. 

Librarians at the Cedar Rapids Public Library tell of a poltergeist called Helen, who causes books to fall off shelves.

But those seem to pale in comparison to one of the most well-known legends in the Midwest: Iowa City's Black Angel, also known as the angel of death.

It's a monument steeped in local folklore, according to Lori Erickson.

"I don't know of another story in eastern Iowa, certainly, that has as wide a circulation as the black angel; everyone knows about it," said Erickson.

The angel's story dates back to the late 1800's, when Bohemian immigrant Teresa Feldevert ordered a special grave marker for her second husband, Nicholas.

"She decided to commission a statue to place over both his grave, and the grave of her son Eddie."

But she hated the finished bronze statue, and refused to pay for it.

"She thought the marker would include the tree trunk marker for her son as well."

Teresa took the matter to court, but she lost, and had to pay for the sculpture.

"There's stories about her coming into Oakland Cemetery in her wheelchair, and sitting in front of the black angel. People reported she would just sit and stare at it," said Erickson.

Some say she was stricken with regret and grief.

She died years later, her ashes buried beneath the angel's cold gaze.

Many believe the monument was forever cursed by her anger and despair.

"The legend is that every year, it'll turn a shade darker because of all the souls it harvests throughout the year."

Other superstitions followed, and became part of the angel's mysterious tale.

"if you go there at midnight and touch the statue, you'll be cursed with bad luck and you'll die within a week."

"it is said if you kiss in front of the statue, you'll fall dead instantly."

And some stories go beyond simple omens. "Other witnesses have actually seen this angel come to life and move throughout the cemetery."

While little is known about the origin of these myths, Erickson says the truth behind them isn't nearly as important, or fun, as the color they add to Eastern Iowa.

"I've never had a personal experience with a ghost, but I love ghost stories."

And when it comes to hunting ghosts or tracking down a piece of haunted history, Lewis says there's no need for high-tech equipment...just a sense of curiosity and adventure.

"You can travel out to these places with a camera and a notebook, and see what happens."

Online Producer: Michelle Caldwell

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