Random Ghost Fact: The Bloody Bucket

This weekend, while hanging out with my new family members, I had the good fortune (?) to pass the juvenile detention facility for our little corner of Illinois.

This small stone building is the focal point of several government-issue outbuildings, in the middle of a nicely-cleared glen along Route 100. There is no front gate, but there are hilarious signs warning us DO NOT PICK UP HITCHHIKERS. Darn rascals.

But the miscreant kids of Illinois are, in fact, on one of the more historically significant areas of ghost history. Once upon a time, Grafton (population 650 or so) had 26 saloons frequented by miners, quarrymen and pirates. Yes, real pirates working the rivers, and none of them looked anything like Jack Sparrow.

The River House, which would eventually become a juvenile prison, was the most famous of these saloons. Deals were made, brawls were fought, men were buried (or not) in the woods behind them. Once, supposedly, a trio arrived with a herd of horses to make a deal. They didn't like the deal they were offered. The good men of the River House simply shot them dead and dumped their bodies into the Illinois River, and that's how the deal was done. Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.

It is said that the River House was so violent the random passer-by could wind up dead just by walking in at the wrong time. Riverboatmen who ran screaming from the saloon - and these were not fainthearted men - were to be avenged by their captain, who disgustedly stalked up to the River House to chastise the owner. He, too, fled with bullets chasing him all the way to his boat, and the bullets kept flying until the boat chugged away from Grafton.

Men were found hanging upstairs on more than one occasion, and of course it is supposed to be haunted. The ghosts of the hapless victims and the ones who stalked them supposedly walk the woods. As for the River House itself, only the juvenile delinquents of southwestern Illinois know for sure.