Is it haunted? The Stickney Mansion

Stickney Mansion

We began a series last month titled “Is it haunted?” We hope to continue on with this series on a more permanent basis in between our normal supernatural entries.

The world of haunted houses abounds. A purported haunted house can be found in every country, city, town or neighborhood. Thousands of books have been written on the topic of haunted houses, and so, it would take us years to cover even the most famous of haunted houses, but we assure you this is not the end of our treatment of haunted houses.

The home we would like to tell you about this evening is the George Stickney Mansion located in McHenry, Illinois. Today, the home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and serves as the base for the Village Hall and Bull Valley Police Department. The home was built by George and Sylvia Stickney around 1837 in what remains a secluded area. The isolated location was selected for peace, privacy and to allow the couple to practice spiritualism in a free environment. Spiritualism was a religious movement that held the belief that the living were able to communicate with the deceased through various spiritual devices and the use of mediums, people who claimed to channel the dead. Next week we will discuss Spiritualism in greater detail, but that is all you need to know for now in order to follow the Stickney story.

The Stickney’s gave strict orders to the builders of their home that the building was to contain no corners on the inside or outside. The mansion would rise to two stories that included a ballroom on the second floor. The lack of corners was thought to provide greater assistance to séances that would be held in the home, as the Stickney’s believed that spirits could get stuck in corners – which could pose dire results. There were also reports that the Stickney’s believed that evils spirits were attracted to corners in homes and thus, their strong argument for creating a curved home.

According to legend, the house with no corners contained an error, a 90 degree measurement on the second floor. The legend goes on to say that this was the very corner of the home that Mr. Stickney was later found dead of an apparent heart attack. His wife went on to live in the home for a great time becoming quite a popular spiritualist. After Mrs. Stickney died, the new resident claimed to feel uncomfortable in the home, and that his dogs also seemed troubled on the property. The owner went on to conduct some research and claimed that Devil worshipers had squatted in the home between the death of Mrs. Stickney and his moving in, and that their activity tainted the property. Some say they weren’t Devil worshipers, just drugged out hippies who only vandalized the place and then moved on. After the owner moved out another family moved in who claimed no strange activity, yet passerby’s often claimed to have seen a woman in a wedding dress peering out from a second floor window. The Bull Valley Police Department claimed the property as their home in 1985 and official word has been adamant that all has been calm, even though over the years, people have continued to report strange activity.

So, did Mr. and Mrs. Stickney’s practice of spiritualism lead to permanent ghostly activity? Was Mr. Stickney’s strange death in the most superstitious part of the home due to an evil spirit? Did Devil worshipers contribute to the evil? Or, is it simply that the strange corner-less home, created by a couple who practiced spiritualism, are the only basis for the continuation of legends and lore for this property?


Categories: Blog

Cynthia Pelayo

Cynthia (cina) Pelayo is the author of short story collection Loteria and the young adult horror novel Santa Muerte published by Post Mortem Press. Her short stories and poems have appeared in DM, Weird Year, Flashes in the Dark, SNM Horror Magazine, Seedpod, Static Movement, and more. Pelayo is the Publisher/Gravedigger of Burial Day Books and is a member of the Horror Writers Association. She is currently at work on two novels and a series of short stories and poems. You can find her on Twitter at @cinapelayo or at