New E-Singles from Llewellyn!

INSIDE THE MURDER CASTLEPopularized in the bestselling book The Devil in the White City, H. H. Holmes has gone down in history as America’s first—and possibly most prolific—serial killer. A master swindler who changed names about as often as most people change coats, Holmes built a three-story building down the street from the World’s Fair site in Chicago in the early 1890s. Join Chicago paranormal authority Adam Selzer as he separates the truth behind the myth. Did H. H. Holmes really kill 200 people? How did he do it? And why? How did he keep his three wives from finding out about each other? And how did he kill people in such a crowded building without anyone noticing?  (see bonus photos and video, and hear the mysterious audio file here!)


Vanishing hitchhiker stories are everywhere—there are variations in books, in country songs, and even in movies. No one knows for sure how old such stories are, but by the middle of the 20th century, the vanishing hitchhiker was a part of American folklore nationwide.
Chicago’s Resurrection Mary is one of the oldest and most enduring of the vanishing hitchhiker stories. Join paranormal authority Adam Selzer as he shares dozens of Resurrection Mary stories and sifts through his personal database of facts surrounding Archer Avenue’s most famous apparition. 

Devil baby stories have been told for years—stories of infants born with horns, hooves, and claws . . . and a habit of using profane language with ministers. Join paranormal authority Adam Selzer as he investigates the legendary Devil Baby of Chicago’s Hull House, the famous Jersey Devil, and the satanic baby reported by the 

Cleveland Plain Dealer in 1888. You’ll never look at babies the same way again!

Or get all three at a special price:  &nbspJoin Chicago paranormal authority Adam Selzer as he lifts the veil of myth around three of Chicago’s most terrifying ghost stories. Jane Addams’s Hull House became the center of a rumored Devil Baby—an infant born with horns, hooves, and claws . . . and a habit of using profane language to ministers. H. H. Holmes has gone down in history as America’s first—and possibly most prolific—serial killer. Popularized in bestselling book The Devil in the White City, Holmes built a three-story building down the street from the World’s Fair site in Chicago in the early 1890s to use as his killing castle. But how many people did he kill? Chicago’s Resurrection Mary is one of the oldest and most enduring vanishing hitchhiker stories. An expert on the Resurrection Mary stories, Selzer shares dozens of stories and anecdotes he’s collected and sifts through his personal database of facts surrounding Archer Avenue’s most famous apparition.

Brief Update

There’s been a bit of a delay with getting the e-singles out; they should be available any time now. Naturally, I’ll have links to all of them right here!

Meanwhile, I’m gearing up for a busy october! At 2pm CST today, I’ll be talking with Dane Ladwig on his internet radio show.  
On Sunday afternoon, I’ll be co-hosting a Devil in the White City-based tour with Jeff Mudgett. Over the course of the month, I’ll probably be doing 10+ tours per week with Chicago Hauntings. Ask for Adam when making reservations!
I’ve also just turned in the full draft of my “Ghosts of Chicago” book to Llewellyn – it’s due out next fall!

New podcast today: Inside the Murder Castle

It’s a big day here at Chicago Unbelievable – our three new “e-singles” from Llewellyn Press are scheduled to hit Amazon today!  I’ll have links to each of them. In the mean time, today I can release all of the “murder castle” stuff! Look to your right and there’s a link to the “murder castle audio and video” that I took when I got into the basement of the post office built on the site in June, 2012.

And in the mean time, there’s a new Murder Castle Podcast – it can downloaded for free from  or from iTunes right now!  It includes some audio feed from the portion of the basement that would have overlapped with the footprint, including the now-famous “singing girl” sound. I’m not normally one to get too excited about weird voices on recordings – you usually have to use too much imagination. But the voice here is louder and clearer than my own. I never say anything I picked up is truly a ghost – there’s no such thing as “good” ghost evidence, only “cool” ghost evidence.

This is a cool one, though. I’ve been playing it for people on tours. I’ve NEVER had a recording so clear and loud that I could play it off my phone into the bus mic and expect everyone to be able to hear it.

One of the new e-singles, Inside the Murder Castle, will tell the whole story of the place. Look for it later today!

Sorry Beefalow

In the basement of the murder castle site, my audio recorder picked up a sound like that of a little girl singing. The voice is clearer and louder than my own, but what she’s saying is a bit unclear. The nearest transcription I can make is “Sorry Beefalow,” which I’ve been joking sounded like the worst Chef Boyardee product ever.

Just to show that I’m not taking myself TOO seriously with this, here’s a recipe for Sorry Beefalow (so called because you have to say “sorry” to the people you’re serving it to. It’s an aspic dish.


1 (.25 ounce) envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup boiling water
2 cups vegetable juice (such as V-8®)
1 dash Worcestershire sauce, or to taste (optional)
1 bay leaf
2 cloves
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 pound ground beef
1 cup pasta (cooked)

Fully dissolve gelatin in boiling water in a mixing bowl.
Combine vegetable juice, worcestershire sauce, bay leaf, and cloves in a saucepan; bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 10 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf and cloves.
Stir onion and celery into vegetable juice.

Brown beef, cook pasta, and add each into vegetable juice. Stir.

Refrigerate until set completely, about 1 hour.

Try it out – and let us know how it goes! Send pictures!

Jean LaLime at the Excalibur Club

Finally saw an episode of Ghost Adventures.  I had honestly never seen it before; I don’t watch many of those programs. It’d be like a cop going home and watching cop shows.

I got a bit frustrated with it because the history they told was flat-out wrong in the beginning. The remains of Jean LaLime were not burned up in the great Chicago Fire. The bones though to be his were presented to the historical society as a gift (I’m sure they were just thrilled) when they were unearthed during construction, but not until the 1890s, some twenty years AFTER the fire.  The Historical Society still has them, as a matter of fact.  We covered this in a post nearly four years ago.  They aren’t 100% sure that the bones are really LaLime’s, though, and keep them in storage. Eventually they may decide that they should be re-buried under the Native American Grave Repatriation Act.

Kinzie was, in fact, acquitted of the murder of Jean LaLime on the grounds that it was self defense, but I’ve never really bought that. The story went that Kinzie stabbed LaLime only after LaLime shot him in the shoulder. Some believe this, some don’t.

I’m not sure about the story about women seeking shelter in the building that stood on the spot during the fire – much is made in historical accounts of the society losing 60,000 books in the fire, but I can’t find any contemporary references to women dying there. Running into it for shelter during a fire would have been an odd choice, it seems to me, but I’ll withhold judgement until I’ve looked into it further.

The Remarkable Cow of Kilgubbin

Back in the old days, the lower north side, around Orleans and Chicago Avenue and up to Division and the River, was an Irish enclave known as Kilgubbin. It was apparently after the name of the part of Ireland from which many of the early settlers hailed, though no one ever seemed to be able to find such a place on the maps (it was apparently somewhere in Cork). It retained this name, off and on, for some decades (much of it was absorbed into Little Hell eventually, then Goose Island and Cabrini Green), and papers occasionally told folky stories about it, not unlike Irish-tinged versions of, say, the Uncle Remus stories.

In one particular instance in 1859, it told the story of Mr. O’Brien’s cow, who one day disappeared, taking its milk with it. This was quite a scandal, and the story “spread from shanty to shanty,” as the Tribune put it. They noted that one could “cut off water from Kilgubbin if you will, banish rain fall and river-flow, but spare the milk, and its congener fluid, the etherial part of rye.”

The cow stayed gone for months, then O’Brien announced that he had found the cow in the stable of his neighbor, Ferrick. Ferrick claimed taht the cow in the stable was his own, and that he’d raised it from “tender calfhood.”

O’Brien went to court and had Ferrick brought in for “cow stealing,” but was acquitted. Hence, in order to get satisfaction, he tried to sue Ferrick instead. The trial became quite a spectacle, on attended by “spectators well nigh to the depopulation of Kilgubbin,” and eighteen witnesses testified. The cow itself was brought into court. Ferrick one the day, and O’Brien was ordered to pay over $100 in court costs (over a case regarding a $40 cow).  He immediately announced plans to repeal, and, after the story was published, wrote an angry letter to the Tribune stating that he did not live, and never had lived, in Kilgubbin.

How much of the story was true and how much was just a folksy yarn to break the boredom and chill of a January day at the Tribune office is anyone’s guess. The Tribune wasn’t nearly as bad with racism as some papers, and was known to stick up for the people of Kilgubbin when Wilbur F. Storey, the dyed-in-the-wool racist who ran the Chicago Times, was bad-mouthing them.

The Times account of Kilgubbin in 1866, though, gives one some idea of how the area got its current name of Goose Island: “Here and there were goose ponds laid out in the streets, with great care as to effect. They were directly where a traveller wanted to step, and it was a long and muddy distance around them. Large flocks of goslings inhabit these stagnant pools, to kill or stone one of them would be instant death to the intruder. The geese cackle and hiss as you pass, as if no one but a resident had any business there. They seem to far a land owner whenever a strange footstep is heard, an instinct early instilled into all the chattels of the squatter. They spread their wings and run off to the door of the nearest shanty.”

Chicago Ghost Hunt, 1922

In 1922, people didn’t bring scientific gadgets on ghost hunts – they brought guns. In October of that year, there were wild reports of a ghost in the near north side – it was heard unleashing blood-curdling shrieks and laughs, and the area was plagued by a sound likened to “padded bricks dropping onto coffins.”

The neighbors and police came out in full force, armed to the teeth, as seen in this photo:

THe whole ghost hunt was quite a fiasco – the crowd hunting for ghosts in the neighborhood was estimated to number as high as 2000. A psychic on the scene said, “I see three men, one with a black beard. And I see two women – one of them handsome. There is a knife. There will be trouble. I can solve this mystery.”
There was trouble all right – one policeman emptied his gun into what appeared to be a shadow.  A woman who lived in the house around which it all centered was sent to a mental ward in a family feud as to the origins of the ghost.  The two thousand people lurking around with weapons probably did an awful lot of damage to property in the area.
Eventually the electric company laid the sounds to short-circuiting wires, though the explanation didn’t satisfy everyone. 

New Updates to Old Posts

We here at Chicago Unbelievable always want to keep our facts straight – part of the reason I HAVE this blog is to refute some of the stories that less scrupulous tour guides tell, and to set the record straight if I find out that I’m wrong on something myself. Blog entries are updated as needed. Ghost stories are often impossible to get a source on one way or the other, but I’ve always insisted that we should at least tell the historical stories behind them properly.

Some recent updates:

New info found on Anton LaVey and the Hancock Building. Was he really born where it stands, or is that just something he used to say? It appears that his parents actually lived in the to-die for Casa Bonita apartments in West Rogers Park.

A commenter adds an interesting note to The Death of Hymie Weiss.

I’ve also updated the Myths about HH Holmes entry. Most of the stories going around about that guy are way off. Some come from misconceptions, some from pulp retellings, and some come from very recently-created balderdash.