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The Truth Behind the Caryville Myths

By: Phil Dinges Email
By: Phil Dinges Email

The silhouette of a hanging person in a belfry.
Stories of being possessed by the spirit of a young boy or ghosts of children playing in corn fields.

Those are just some of the encounters people say they've had while visiting the small town of Caryville. Many question their validity and people who live in the town say they're fed up with ghost hunters, and vandals.

The Sand Hill Cemetery one of five locations believed to be haunted in Caryville. People who live in the area have told NewsCenter 13 numerous times that the hauntings aren't true. Authors and ghost hunters Chad Lewis and Terry Fisk tried to shed some light on the myths.

Many say Caryville, Wisconsin is one of the most haunted places in the Midwest.

"People that had visited the place talked about some of the strange things that took place" says Lewis.

One of the most popular stories is that of a young boy who haunts the historic school house in Caryville.

"People insist that the spirit of the boy resides in the school yet" says Fisk.

The legend says a boy trying to escape an abusive father and took shelter in his school.

"In the morning the teacher came to the schoolhouse and found his frozen body sitting in his desk" says Fisk.

And if you sit in his desk Fisk says "you'll feel his spirit pass through your body.”

But that's not all that people experience.

Lewis says "they hear the piano being played. They eve see the keys being moved."

Intrigued by the stories, Lewis and Fisk set up shop for the night.

They sent up "motion detectors to night vision cameras, audio recorders, E.M.F. readers really to try and rule out any normal or illogical explanation" say Lewis.

That night, they found nothing unusual. Nor could they find any evidence of the boy's death.

Fisk says "only one boy that ever died while being a student was a young boy named David. He died in 1957 at the age of eight from Polio."

But he died in the hospital and not the school.

Lewis says there’s "a lot of the activity that may have a normal explanation, window shades and such banging against the door and just the whole atmosphere of it being dark, creepy and secluded."

Making the possibility of a haunting doubtful and giving it a “Not Haunted” grade. But across the street, myths of a priest's suicide in the belfry hang over the church.

Fisk says "he was upset because there were plans to sell the school across the street."

This possibility prompted him to hang himself.

Fisk says people have "driven past the church and seen an apparition of the priest, his body hanging in the belfry."

But Fisk and Lewis say Lutheran Churches don’t have priests and there's no record of the death.

"We haven't found any scientific evidence of these two places being haunted" says Fisk.

These findings, or lack of findings, give the church the same "Not Haunted" grade.

Down the road we come across the alleged watery grave of a high school prom queen.

Lewis says "she had been drinking and was intoxicated and she drove the car into the water."

Some say phantom headlights drive the surrounding roads, playing chicken with drivers.

Fisk says "right before it smashes into them the car seems to disappear."

And Lewis says if you are brave enough to look into the water you won't she her looking back at you "but you'll see the reflection of her vehicle's headlights staring up from the waters."

Because there's no record of the crash, the hunters believe a haunting here is doubtful giving this site yet another “Not Haunted” grade.

A narrow dirt road leads to another supposedly haunted area, the Meridean boat landing. Legend has it, that the area is haunted by Meridean herself.

Fisk says "she was on a ship coming up the river and she passed away and they buried her nearby here."

Lewis adds "much like a siren in the water, she tries to entice people to save her." And he says if you are foolish enough to do so "you will meet the same fate that she did."

During their hunt they were put a little on edge by a mysterious sound.

Fisk says it was "unlike any sound that we have ever heard."

Could it have been the legendary hell hounds possibly left behind by the last person to live on the island, more than 70-years ago?

Lewis says "many cultures believe these dogs actually did the devils bidding."

Knowing the history of the island and their own encounter makes it possible the area is haunted but they never found any scientific evidence making four out four for “Not Haunted” grades.

Finally, on a hill near Caryville is the Sand Hill Cemetery. Lewis says it's home to many of those who died on Meridean Island.

Fisk says people "report hearing the voices of children playing in the corn field."

Lewis says people see "mysterious balls of light hovering through this cemetery, hearing people calling their names" and feelings of not being alone.

They've investigated the cemetery many times even with psychics and Lewis says there are definite "feelings of spirits still roaming the area."

The head stones show people are buried here, and the stories match the history suggesting the site is possibly haunted and being the area to receive the “Haunted” grade.

It's not known where many of these stories come from, but they have brought in many people from all over the country and vandalism has become a big problem. Because of that, many locals say it's virtually impossible to maintain many of the sites. Dunn County Sheriff Dennis Smith says his deputies will not hesitate to write a ticket for trespassing, and the people living in these areas will not hesitate to call the police when they see anything suspicious. Other than the howling wind and eerie atmosphere nothing out of the ordinary or unexplained happened during the hunts.


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