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From Haunted Houses to Zombies: The Most Frightening Scary Horror Games
Do you enjoy the adrenaline rush of being scared out of your wits? Are you a fan of horror movies and looking for a new way to experience fear? Look no further. In this article, we will explore some of the most terrifying scary horror games that will leave you trembling with fear. From haunted houses to zombies, these games will push your limits and keep you on the edge of your seat.
Haunted Houses: A Classic Thrill
If you’re a fan of haunted houses, then horror games that feature eerie mansions or abandoned buildings are sure to provide an exhilarating experience. One such game that comes to mind is “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard.” Set in a dilapidated plantation house in rural Louisiana, this game combines atmospheric horror with intense gameplay. As you navigate through dark corridors and solve puzzles, you’ll encounter grotesque creatures and terrifying jump scares that will keep your heart pounding.
Another notable haunted house game is “Amnesia: The Dark Descent.” In this first-person survival horror game, players find themselves trapped inside an ancient castle with no memory of how they got there. With limited resources and a lurking presence that feeds on fear, this game is guaranteed to make even the bravest players feel vulnerable and terrified.
Zombies: A Never-Ending Nightmare
Zombies have been a staple in horror culture for decades, and scary horror games featuring these undead creatures are always popular among thrill-seekers. One standout title in this genre is “The Last of Us.” Set in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by infected humans turned into zombies, this action-adventure game blends intense combat with an emotionally gripping storyline. The realistic graphics and immersive gameplay make every encounter with the infected a heart-pounding experience.
For those seeking a more intense zombie experience, “Resident Evil 2” is a must-play. This remake of the classic survival horror game takes players back to Raccoon City, where a zombie outbreak has turned the population into flesh-eating monsters. With its atmospheric setting and relentless undead enemies, this game will keep you on your toes as you fight for survival.
Psychological Horror: A Mind-Bending Challenge
If you prefer horror games that mess with your mind, then psychological horror games are perfect for you. “Silent Hill 2” is often regarded as one of the best examples of this subgenre. As players control James Sunderland through the foggy town of Silent Hill, they unravel a deeply disturbing story filled with symbolism and psychological torment. The game’s haunting atmosphere and psychological twists will leave you questioning reality long after you’ve put down the controller.
Another mind-bending horror experience is “Layers of Fear.” In this first-person exploration game, players step into the shoes of a disturbed painter as they navigate through a constantly changing mansion. Delving into themes of madness and obsession, this game uses clever storytelling and visual trickery to create an unsettling experience that will keep you guessing until the very end.
Survival Horror: Fight or Flight
For those who enjoy intense gameplay and heart-pounding action, survival horror games provide an adrenaline-fueled experience like no other. “Outlast” is a prime example of this genre. Armed only with a camcorder, players must navigate through an abandoned psychiatric hospital filled with deranged inmates. With no means to defend yourself other than hiding or running away, every encounter becomes a tense battle for survival.
Another standout survival horror game is “Alien: Isolation.” Set fifteen years after the events of Ridley Scott’s iconic film “Alien,” players assume the role of Ellen Ripley’s daughter as she tries to survive aboard a space station infested by one relentless xenomorph. The game’s AI-driven alien enemy constantly adapts to the player’s actions, making every encounter a nerve-wracking game of cat-and-mouse.
In conclusion, if you’re a fan of being scared senseless, these scary horror games will provide an unforgettable experience. Whether you prefer haunted houses, zombies, psychological torment, or survival challenges, there is a game out there that will cater to your darkest fears. So grab your controller and prepare for a night of terror as you dive into these spine-chilling virtual worlds.
This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.
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How to Find Out About the History of Your Home
Your home holds many memories, and not all of them may be yours. Or you may question whether your house could be haunted or contain hidden treasure. If you’re wondering about checking the history of your house, get ready to learn how to uncover your home’s past.
Taxpayer Assessor Online Databases
Search online for your town’s taxpayer information. Once there, if your town offers an online database including every property, you might find out a lot about your home.
One tax assessor company, Vision Government Solutions, maintains online databases for states on the East Coast. Click on the state and you’ll see a list of your state’s towns. Some of the towns have accessible databases, and others don’t. Follow prompts to take you to your property’s information, including previous owners.
Hidden on Trulia’s website is a list of U.S. assessor records for every state. Search for Trulia’s property sitemap, and once on the page, you’ll see your state listing. You’ll be taken to a page with your state’s counties. Keep clicking to pinpoint your search.
Some towns host online assessor databases. Once on it, type in the property address or parcel number to visit a page of information about your home.
Realtor Websites With Home Information
Finding your home’s property listing, even when your home is not for sale, also offers some history. In addition to dipping into the websites of the major real estate agencies in your area to find your property, try the following sites:
Also try the Multiple Listing Service site directly. Head to MLS.com and you’ll see a map of the United States. You might find the history of your neighborhood or a home next door that may be for sale or in foreclosure, which could give you some hints about your own home.
Finding Out About Your Home’s Hauntings
Head to DiedInHouse.com, a website that keeps a database of people who have died in properties. The site may be able to tell you if someone actually died in your home. There’s a nominal fee to see the information.
Dig Up Land Records and Historical Maps
If you’re a genealogy enthusiast, you know the value of historical maps and land records. If you’re new to this type of search, start at the National Archives (archives.gov) to initiate a search into your property. You’ll find land transactions and even what the average cost was to build your house.
You can search for, download and enlarge historical maps of your town or neighborhood. Or go to your town hall and local library for copies.
Find Your Local Historians
Do some footwork to find the history of your home, neighborhood and town. Try the following:
- Historical societies: Your town’s local historical society can target your home’s history. Head to PreservationDirectory.com to find a database of local historic organizations.
- Real estate agents: Try calling a real estate agency to help you locate information on your home’s history.
- Neighbors: Pick the brain of a long-time neighbor. You may be surprised with juicy details.
- Physical evidence: Consult with an architectural historian, according to ThisOldHouse.com. Researching layers of paint or wallpaper helps identify what year your house was built.
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Hull House Haunting
As Halloween nears, we turn to the more spirited side of the Hull House that Jane Addams started. The House itself, which was built by Charles Hull in 1856, was in an area of Chicago that was extremely fashionable before the Great Fire in 1871. After the Great Fire, the wealthy of the area left and moved to other areas, leaving the West Side of Chicago to be turned into a place for the poorest of the poor, from prostitutes to immigrants. It was these people that Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr wanted to reach out to. They therefore rented the house…and made a surprising discovery. The house was haunted by Charles Hull’s late wife.
Addams and Starr were not the first inhabitants of the Hull House to meet the late Mrs. Hull. The house had been rented out before and the tenants saw her ghostly figure in the room that had been hers. Terrified, they attempted to combat it by placing a pitcher of water over the threshold, believing that spirits could not get over the running water.
Addams slept originally in the room where Mrs. Hull died, which was where her spirit allegedly remained. While there, she saw Mrs. Hull a few times and, though Addams determined that she seemed to mean no harm, eventually decided to move into another room. They did not completely close off the room, however, and sometimes had guests stay in there. Some of these guests also saw Mrs. Hull’s spirit. Today, the house is included on Ghost Tours in Chicago and has a reputation as one of the most haunted places in Chicago, despite the relatively benign nature of the ghost.
In addition to the rather less frightening ghost of Mrs. Hull, there was the rumor of a Devil Baby ensconced in the attic of the Hull House. Though Jane Addams continually denied the existence of such a disfigured child hidden away in the attic, the legend persisted and even grew before it eventually died down, though it never vanished completely. Jane Addams herself took to The Atlantic in 1916 to explain the truth of the matter. In that article, she explores not just the legend of the Devil Baby, but why that story held the minds of the women that she serviced.
The Devil Baby has two different versions, one for the Italian Catholics and one for the Jews, though they were essentially the same. In both versions, there is an innocent bride whose husband is the villain and causes their child to be born with horns and a tail- a Devil Baby. In some versions, the baby can also spout profanity within a few months. All stories, however, conclude with the distraught mother bringing the baby to the Hull House, where a mystified Jane Addams locked it in the attic because she had no idea what to do with it.
This story, of course, was fervently denied by Addams and the rest of the Hull House staff. They insisted that the first time they ever heard the story was when two women appeared at the doorstep, wanting to see the Devil Baby for themselves. Though they were quickly turned away, they were just the first in a steady stream of visitors, seeking to see this mysterious child. Though the child never existed, the legends of it persisted, and in many ways are similar to other urban legends, such as the Jersey Devil.
So why do these kinds of stories hold the imaginations of the people, even today? Jane Addams’ theory was simply that they were a form of warning tale. Abuse was exceptionally prevalent in this period, particularly domestic abuse of wives by their husbands. Thus, the story of the Devil Baby is a morality tale of what can happen when the man of the household fails to be faithful and appropriately religious and therefore disrespects his wife and family. Though there was no actual Devil Baby caused by a cruel father, the hope that it gave the women that it would keep the menfolk in line to hear of the potential consequences of their actions was an important aspect of Jane Addams’ work and this rumor helped her determine where the women needed the most help.
Whether the hauntings of Hull House were real or not, they are certainly a rich part of the house’s legacy and the importance of the house in the history of Chicago.
Jane Addams, “ The Devil-Baby at Hull House ,” The Atlantic , Oct. 1916.
Weird and Haunted Chicago: A guide to Ghosts, Local Legends, and Unsolved, Mysteries of the Windy City .
“ Social Settlement as Contested Space : Addams’ Personal Faith versus her Public Uses of Relgion,” in Urban Experience in Chicago: Hull-House and its Neighborhood, 1889-1963.
“ Jane Addams and the Legends of Hull-House ,” Chicago’s Haunt Detective.
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Chicago Hauntings: Ghosts, A Portal, And A Devil Baby At Jane Addams' Hull House
October 28, 2021 / 9:51 AM / CBS Chicago
CHICAGO (CBS) -- Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr founded the Hull House in 1889 as Chicago's first settlement house.
The Hull House also became the nation's most influential settlement house, according to the Encyclopedia of Chicago . It began with a converted mansion on Halsted Street, and later expanded to a 13-building complex that covered nearly a whole city block.
"The new structures included a gymnasium, theater, art gallery, music school, boys' club, auditorium, cafeteria, cooperative residence for working women, kindergarten, nursery, libraries, post office, meeting and club rooms, art studios, kitchen, and a dining room and apartments for the residential staff," the Encyclopedia of Chicago reports. "Attracting thousands of people each week from the surrounding neighborhood, the expanded Hull House complex provided space for the settlement's extensive social, educational, and artistic programs. Under Addams's skillful leadership, Hull House achieved recognition as the best-known settlement house in the United States and became the flagship of a movement that included nearly five hundred settlements nationally by 1920."
The original Italianate Victorian mansion is still there – standing at 800 S. Halsted St. on the University of Illinois at Chicago campus as the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum . It was also there well before the settlement house was founded, and is actually one of the oldest buildings in the central area of the city.
The Hull House mansion was built in 1856 for a wealthy Chicago real estate developer named Charles J. Hull (1820-1889), and served as his home. But Hull only lived in the house for four years – until 1860.
Tony Szabelski of Chicago Hauntings Ghost Tours points out that during those four years, Hull's wife and two sons died in the house. For Hull and his remaining daughter, the house no longer felt like home – so even though Hull still owned the property until his death, he did not live there again. He and his daughter moved to another mansion elsewhere in the city.
There were stories going back about the mansion being haunted long before Addams moved in and founded her settlement house. But in several of the books that Addams wrote – even though she said she didn't really believe in ghosts – she did nickname one of the bedrooms the "haunted bedroom."
The bedroom in question was initially used by Addams, but she couldn't stay in it very long. She claimed that in the middle of the night, she was awoken to see a woman hovering over the bed. She would also hear conversations in the room.
After Addams moved out of the bedroom herself, she initially tried using it as a guestroom. But the guests who stayed in the room reported the same things – especially the woman standing over their bed at night.
Eventually, Addams closed the room off and just used it for storage. She would hear stories that the previous tenants of the building would put buckets of water outside the door of that room – not really knowing initially why they did that – but later finding out that it was done out of a belief that spirits cannot cross water.
Next to the Hull-House Museum just to the south on Halsted Street is a courtyard – believed by many to be a portal area for spirits to come in and out of the world. At one time, there was a fountain the courtyard. Now, there is a stone bench and a circular path in the courtyard – which sits between the Hull-House Museum and the historic Hull-House Dining Hall building, and in front of the UIC Student Center East.
People claimed to take pictures of the fountain, and said it would show up in some people's pictures and not in others. No explanation was given when UIC removed the fountain, Szabelski reports.
The other story to which the Hull House building is connected is comparable to the classic 1968 film "Rosemary's Baby" about a devil baby. The film is set in New York, but the Hull House mansion played host to a Chicago version of the story.
It started very simply in 1913, with stories that a baby – possibly a severely deformed baby – would have been left outside the doorstep of the building one day. Addams purportedly took the baby in, and over the next month or so was a mass hysteria that went around not only the building itself, but the whole neighborhood.
People were coming at all hours of the day and night, willing to pay to see the "devil baby" no matter the cost. Addams claimed she was turning people away left and right. Busloads of people came all the way from Milwaukee to see the baby.
Addams chalked up the mass hysteria about the devil baby to the fact that the Near West Side was a very heavily immigrant community, and a lot of the women – especially the older women who were coming from the old country – would come with old-time superstitions and wives' tales. One of those wives' tales was purportedly that a baby so severely deformed must have been the spawn of the devil, Szabelski said.
Another of Szabelski's favorite stories involves a devoutly Catholic woman on the Near West Side who married an atheist man. She put a picture of the Virgin Mary up on her wall one day, and the man saw it upon returning from work and he ripped it off the wall, tore it up, and threw it into the air, saying, "I'd rather have the devil's baby," than have such a picture on the wall.
Can you guess what happened nine months later?
The legend claims that the baby who was born to the couple had red, oily, scaly skin, hoof feet, and horns on its head. Some stories claimed it came out with a full head of hair and smoking a cigar – and that it could speak three different languages and curse in all three of them.
That's just mythology, of course. But the point is, tales of hauntings are far from new to the Near West Side.
Video produced by Blake Tyson. Written story by Adam Harrington.
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Jane Addams Hull-House Museum celebrates a spooky October
September 29, 2022
Since the Hull-House mansion was built in the mid-19th century, rumors of supernatural happenings in the red brick building have haunted the structure on Chicago’s Near West Side, which survived the Great Chicago Fire and became the spot where Jane Addams created the nation’s first settlement house.
A concrete slab remains in a courtyard in front of the building where legend says a former fountain purportedly served as a portal to hell; the sounds of ghost children allegedly can still be heard running in an upstairs hallway; a “Lady in White” apparition has been said to appear wearing a white dress, and the most famous story of all is known as “The Devil Baby.”
These are only some of the ghostly tales that have abounded where Addams and her partner, Ellen Gates Starr, founded the settlement in 1889. The main home and dining hall survived and now make up the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, which is on the University of Illinois Chicago campus and run by the university.
As the Halloween season approaches, museum officials want to celebrate Hull-House’s haunted history and share ghost stories as they were imparted by Jane Addams and the people in the surrounding neighborhood, said Ross Jordan, interim director and curatorial manager of the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum.
“The aim is to highlight these supernatural stories and the greater implications of those narratives,” Jordan said. “Through our October event series, we will touch on their psychological and sociological roots, the effects that Jane Addams saw them having on the people around her, and how we continue to see those effects today.”
In a 1916 article in The Atlantic penned by Addams titled, “The Devil Baby at Hull House: A tale of poverty, superstition and the struggles of ordinary women,” she discusses how the rumor of a child born with cloven hoofs, pointed ears, a tail and spewing vulgarities sparked scores of women to come to the home demanding to see the child even after repeatedly being told that the child did not exist.
Addams wrote in her article that women, especially, looked to the story for meaning in their own lives and their lot in life. They were often victims of domestic abuse by fathers, husbands and sons who often drank their wages and left the women struggling to maintain their families.
“As our visitors to the Devil Baby came day by day, it was gradually evident that the simpler women were moved not wholly by curiosity, but that many of them prized the story as a valuable instrument in the business of living. The legend exhibited all the persistence of one of those tales which have doubtless been preserved through the centuries because of their taming effects upon recalcitrant husbands and fathers,” Addams wrote.
The site is known as one of the most haunted places both in Chicago and the United States and is a frequent stop on Chicago ghost tours. Museum officials hope to tap into that interest in October by offering night tours of Hull-House with proceeds going to education programs, Jordan said.
They also teamed up with viral internet sensations Ryan Bergara and Shane Madej, whose new ghost hunting series, “Ghost Files,” tracks paranormal activity around the country. The duo will focus on Hull-House this season and filmed an episode during an overnight investigation at Hull-House in July.
The following events showcase Hull-House in October:
- “The Haunting of Hull-House” Night Tours — Jane Addams Hull-House Museum will be celebrating the Halloween season by offering special evening ghost tours for visitors ages 16 and up. Guests will be led through the house by a museum educator and will have the opportunity to learn all about Hull-House’s haunted history. The hourlong tours will be held Oct. 7, 21 and 28. The cost is $10 in advance, $30 for a group of four, or $12 at the door. Tickets are available .
- Watcher’s “Ghost Files” at Hull-House: Exclusive Interview and Episode Screening — Hull-House is widely considered one of the most haunted places in Chicago. The museum is an avidly pursued location for ghost-hunters and paranormal investigators, but until this year, no full investigations had taken place inside. The Watcher crew explored both familiar and never-before-seen areas of the museum’s grounds in hopes of finding evidence of paranormal activity onsite. A special screening of an exclusive interview will be aired at 6 p.m. Oct. 14, followed by a showing of the “Ghost Files” episode. The event is free but requires registration .
- “Candyman” (2021): Film Screening and Discussion — UIC professors Jane Rhodes and Cynthia Blair will take part in a pre-film panel discussion about the themes of racism, gentrification and police brutality depicted in the film. The event will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 20, and is free but requires registration .
- Halloween Family Day with the Chicago Public Library — Chicago Public Library librarians Megan McFarlane and Eva Weihl will be joining the Hull-House team to read some spooky Halloween stories as the museum extends its summer partnership with the Chicago Public Library into the fall season. Celebrate with costumes, candy and a scavenger hunt. The Oct. 29 event is free and open to the public but registration is required.
Carlos Sadovi 312-355-2491 [email protected]
Jane Addams Hull-House Museum
The Devil Baby and Jane Addams: History, Hauntings, and Legends of Hull House
By Allison Jornlin
Ghost stories are scary, but what about monsters? Or the most monstrous being of all, the Devil? People once worried more about the Devil and his possible intrusions in their everyday lives. From this psychological terrain, grew terrifying tales of the ultimate invasion, the horror of a monstrous birth engineered by Satan himself in the safety of America’s Heartland.
History of Jane Addams & Hull House
The famous Hull House was founded in 1889 in Chicago by two upper class women named Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr. Jane Addams, one of the most influential women in American History, was one of the first social workers in the United States, and the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
It was at Hull House in a Westside neighborhood of Chicago populated by poor immigrants and factory workers where Addams thought she could do the most good.
Through this community center, Addams established programs to provide basic health care, offer daycare for children, and teach English, as well as provide enrichment opportunities in the fine arts. Hull House also became the headquarters for progressive social change in Chicago. It was a safe place where union organizers would meet, and a refuge, where you could go if you needed help, but didn’t have any money.
The Origins of the Physical Hull House Building
The house itself was originally built in 1856 for Charles Hull and his wife Millicent Hull. Millicent died of an illness in her bedroom in the home in 1860. Later Charles and Millicent’s adult daughter began renting the rooms in the home as apartments. She gladly rented the place to Jane in 1889. When Jane and Ellen moved in there were already some pre-existing tenants in the building. They told Jane of a white lady, the ghost of Millicent Hull, who would wander the halls at night.
To protect themselves they would set out buckets of water on the stairway to the attic, which they were renting. Jane deduced that by placing the water in front of their attic apartment door they thought they could prevent the ghost from entering because of the old superstition that evil spirits cannot cross running water. Jane was skeptical but fascinated by such folklore. Jane actually wrote about collecting fairy stories among the Irish in Chicago with the intention of sending them to W.B. Yeats, a famous poet, and collector of fairy lore.
The Devil Baby at Hull House
Yet Jane was not ready for the sheer power of superstition when it came knocking on a spring morning in 1913. On the doorstep were six Italian women who had come from several blocks away, demanding to see what they called the Devil Baby. According to these women, a devil baby had been born the night before to a poor young immigrant girl with a horrible husband.
Jane later found that there were many versions of the story. The story varied by the ethnic group. In the Italian version, a Catholic girl married an atheist who cursed her when she put up a religious painting, proclaiming that he would rather have a devil in the house than any Catholic icon hanging on the wall. In the Jewish version, the husband proclaims that if she cannot finally give him a son, he’d rather his wife give birth to a devil than another daughter.
Commonalities Between Devil Baby Stories
Stories of “devil children” or “devil kids” were nothing new. Very similar to the notorious Jersey Devil story , which had blazed across headlines in 1909, just a few years prior, they featured the birth of a horrid hell beast born to punish the living. Many other such tales also peppered headlines across the country in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
One thing all versions of Chicago’s Devil Baby have in common is a husband behaving badly. Another common thread is the concept of paranormal punishment, a monstrous birth to torture and mock the parents replaces the miracle of a healthy baby. The Devil Baby was described with various deformities: horns, pointed ears, a furry body, and a long, forked tail.
According to Jane, there was never any devil baby, or even a baby born with deformities at Hull House. But that didn’t stop thousands of people, mostly women, from visiting and even offering to pay hard-earned money to see the Devil Baby. Recognizing the callers’ tremendous hunger for a glimpse of some supernatural retribution to give meaning to the grind of their daily struggle, Jane wondered if it was even right to tell them the truth.
Jane wrote extensively about this moral dilemma in the book The Long Road of Women’s Memory , The Atlantic , and American Journal of Sociology . When Jane recognized how the tale with its theme of cosmic justice appealed to the disadvantaged masses, she struggled to break the news that there was no devil baby.
It was especially hard when she had to divulge this at the bedside of a decrepit, old woman with only months to live. Addams watched the light leave her friend’s hopeful eyes and the old woman’s former downtrodden demeanor return. The truth did not set Addam’s friend free, only resigning her to the harsh realities of life, where vice goes unpunished and virtue unrewarded.
Peeking Through the Windows of the Old Settlement House
After six weeks the Devil Baby hysteria died down and things returned to normal. Hull House’s community center grew into a complex of 13 buildings. Two of these buildings are known to be haunted today — Hull House and the former residence dining hall next door. Workers and visitors to Hull House, the original Settlement House, now a museum, often feel a presence in Jane Addams bedroom, incidentally the same bedroom where the previous resident Millicent Hull died. One staff member even admits to walking into the room and greeting the spirits of the house every morning when she arrives.
Other museum workers have heard footsteps throughout the house or heard their names being called when no one else is there. In the library, books often fall off the shelves. On one tour, a staff member even reported that a book actually flew out of the bookshelf in front of a room of people. On another tour, an employee and his tour group saw a chair slide out from under a desk and fall over.
In the residence hall dining room building next door, which still serves as offices and common area for staff, employees also experience paranormal activity. Two employees in different parts of the building both clearly heard a woman talking downstairs though no other living soul was present. Doors often slam inexplicably, especially in the kitchen. One employee was actually locked in the kitchen on three separate occasions, by a door, which shuts and locks on its own. An invisible presence has been heard rifling through the butler’s pantry. A visiting artist also captured some weird photos of shadows and unexplained lights in the building. According to employees, a few of the ghostly stories told by visitors to Hull House have mundane explanations. Most of the ghostly photos of Hull House feature the downstairs windows. The strange figures which seem to appear in these photos are nothing more than greasing smudges on the windows caused by other ghost hunters pressing their faces against the glass. Sometimes every single window is smeared with face prints.
Other unsubstantiated reports include ghost children seen on Hull House’s second floor or in the courtyard. A 6-foot monk has also purportedly been seen in the courtyard where some claim a portal to the next world exists. Popular accounts also include ghostly footsteps heard and mysterious orbs of light seen on the staircase leading to the second floor. Claims that some have glimpsed the evil little face of the Devil Baby peering out of the upstairs window still persist, which just goes to show, at least, rumors never die.
Devil Baby as a Legend & Pop Culture Inspiration
The devil baby tales were once popular urban legends. A cursory newspaper search reveals innumerable articles from coast to coast with many interesting variations. In Minnesota and Arkansas women were so cursed because they dared turn away bible salesmen, but in New Jersey, the hapless mother similarly dismissed a gypsy peddler. Sometimes mothers were doomed by cross words uttered over the birth of yet another mouth to feed. As in the Chicago Devil Baby versions, one of the principal characters utters some variation of the fateful phrase, “I’d rather have a devil than …” In all of these cases, the lesson learned is that you should never play Would You Rather? with the Devil.
According to author Adam Selzer who literally wrote the book on Devil Babies , these stories may have originated in 1888, with an article about a devil child born in a Polish neighborhood just south of Cleveland, Ohio. The story later proved to be an April Fool’s Day hoax perpetrated by the Cleveland Plain Dealer , but that didn’t stop the deluge of other such stories from flooding newspaper headlines all over the country.
Jane Addams, however, considered such tales to be vestiges of much earlier fables reminiscent of the morality plays from the Medieval period. These types of stories have since morphed in our modern pop culture. Although not directly inspired by this folklore, you can see similar evil child tropes played out in many iconic movies including Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen .
Although many of the heavy moral overtones of devil baby tales have vanished, the fear that the sacred innocence of our children could somehow be transformed into the ultimate evil still haunts us. Opportunities to visit the historic and haunted Hull House depart every weekend. One of the best ways to see it is The Original Chicago Haunting Tour . It’s your chance to peek in the windows for yourselves, and possibly experience a ghostly encounter, or at the very least leave your own face print on the glass.
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The Devil Baby at Hull House
A tale of poverty, superstition, and the struggles of ordinary women.
The knowledge of the existence of the Devil Baby burst upon the residents of Hull-House one day when three Italian women, with an excited rush through the door, demanded that he be shown to them. No amount of denial convinced them that he was not there, for they knew exactly what he was like, with his cloven hoofs, his pointed ears and diminutive tail; moreover, the Devil Baby had been able to speak as soon as he was born and was most shockingly profane.
The three women were but the forerunners of a veritable multitude; for six weeks the streams of visitors from every part of the city and suburbs to this mythical baby poured in all day long, and so far into the night that the regular activities of the settlement were almost swamped.
The Italian version, with a hundred variations, dealt with a pious Italian girl married to an atheist. Her husband vehemently tore a holy picture from the bedroom wall, saying that he would quite as soon have a devil in the house as that; whereupon the devil incarnated himself in her coming child. As soon as the Devil Baby was born, he ran about the table shaking his finger in deep reproach at his father, who finally caught him and in fear and trembling brought him to Hull-House. When the residents there, in spite of the baby’s shocking appearance, wishing to save his soul, took him to church for baptism, they found that the shawl was empty and the Devil Baby, felling from the holy water, ran lightly over the backs of the pews.
The Jewish version, again with variations, was to the effect that the father of six daughters had said before the birth of a seventh child that he would rather have a devil in the house than another girl, whereupon the Devil Baby promptly appeared.
Save for a red automobile which occasionally figured in the story, and a stray cigar which, in some versions, the new born child snatched from his father’s lips, the tale might have been fashioned a thousand years ago.
Although the visitors to the Devil Baby included people of every degree of prosperity and education, even physicians and trained nurses who assured us of their scientific interest, the story constantly demonstrated the power of an old wives’ tale among thousands of people in modern society who are living in a corner of their own, their vision fixed, their intelligence held by some iron chain of silent habit. To such primitive people the metaphor apparently is still the very ‘stuff of life’; or, rather, no other form of statement reaches them, and the tremendous tonnage of current writing for them has no existence. It was in keeping with their simple habits that the reputed presence of the Devil Baby at Hull-House did not reach the newspapers until the fifth week of his sojourn—after thousands of people had already been informed of his whereabouts by the old method of passing news from mouth to mouth.
During the weeks of excitement it was the old women who really seemed to have come into their own, and perhaps the most significant result of the incident was the reaction of the story upon them. It stirred their minds and memories as with a magic touch; it loosened their tongues and revealed the inner life and thoughts of those who are so often inarticulate. These old women enjoyed a moment of triumph, as if they had made good at last and had come into a region of sanctions and punishments which they understood.
Throughout six weeks, as I went about Hull-House, I would hear a voice at the telephone repeating for the hundredth time that day, ‘No, there is no such baby’; ‘No, we never had it here’; ‘No, he could n’t have seen it for fifty cents’; ‘We did n’t send it anywhere because we never had it’; ‘I don’t mean to say that your sister-in-law lied, but there must be some mistake’; ‘There is no sue getting up an excursion from Milwaukee, for there is n’t any Devil Baby at Hull-House’; We can’t give reduced rates because we are not exhibiting anything’; and so on and on. As I came near the front door, I would catch snatches of arguments that were often acrimonious: ‘Why do you let so many people believe it, if it is n’t here?’ ‘We have taken three lines of cares to come, and we have as much right to see it as anybody else’; ‘This is a pretty big place, of course you could hide it easy enough’; ‘What you saying that for—are you going to raise the price of admission?’ We had doubtless struck a case of what the psychologists call the ‘contagion of emotion,’ added to that ‘aesthetic sociability’ which impels any one of us to drag the entire household to the window when a procession comes into the street or a rainbow appears in the sky.
But the Devil Baby of course was worth many processions and rainbows, and I will confess that, as the empty show went on day after day, I quite revolted against such a vapid manifestation of an admirable human trait. There was always one exception, however: whenever I heard the high eager voices of old women, I was irresistibly interested and left anything I might be doing in order to listen to them.
Perhaps my many talks with these aged visitors crystallized thoughts and impressions that I had been receiving through years; or the tale itself may have ignited a fire, as it were, whose light illumined some of my darkest memories of neglected and uncomfortable old age, of old peasant women who had ruthlessly probed into the ugly depths of human nature in themselves and others. Many of them who came to see the Devil Baby had been forced to face tragic human experiences; the powers of brutality and horror had had full scope in their lives, and for years they had had acquaintance with disaster and death. Such old women do not shirk life’s misery by feeble idealism, for they are long past the stage of make-believe. They relate without flinching the most hideous experiences. ‘My face has had this queer twist for now nearly sixty years; I was ten when it got that way, the night after I saw my father do my mother to death with his knife.’ ‘Yes, I had fourteen children; only two grew to be men and both of them were killed in the same explosion. I was never sure they brought home the right bodies.’ But even the most hideous sorrows which the old women related had apparently subsided into the paler emotion of ineffectual regret, after Memory had long done her work upon them; the old people seemed, in some unaccountable way, to lose all bitterness and resentment against life, or rather they were so completely without it that they must have lost it long since.
Perhaps those women, because they had come to expect nothing more from life and had perforce ceased from grasping and striving, had obtained, if not renunciation, at least that quiet endurance which allows the wounds of the spirit to heal. Through their stored-up habit of acquiescence, they vouchsafed a fleeting glimpse of that translucent wisdom so often embodied in old women, but so difficult to portray. I recall a conversation with one of them, a woman whose fine mind and indomitable spirit I had long admired; I had known her for years, and yet the recital of her sufferings, added to those the Devil Baby had already induced other women to tell me, pierced me afresh.
‘I had eleven children, some born in Bohemia and some born here; nine of them boys; all of the children died when they were little, but my dear Liboucha, you know all about her. She died last winter in the insane asylum. She was only twelve years old when her father, in a fit of delirium tremens, killed himself after he had chased us around the room trying to kill us first. She saw it all; the blood splashed on the wall stayed in her mind the worst; she shivered and shook all that night through, and the next morning she had lost her voice, could n’t speak out loud for terror. After a while her voice came back, although it was never very natural, and she went to school again. She seemed to do as well as ever and was awful pleased when she got into High School. All the money we had, I earned scrubbing in a public dispensary, although sometimes I got a little by interpreting for the patients, for I know three languages, one as well as the other. But I was determined that, whatever happened to me, Liboucha was to be educated. My husbands’ father was a doctor in the old country, and Liboucha was always a clever child. I would n’t have her live the kind of life I had, with no use for my mind except to make me restless and bitter. I was pretty old and worn out for such hard work, but when I used to see Liboucha on a Sunday morning, ready for church in her white dress with her long yellow hair braided round her beautiful pale face, lying there in bed as I was,—being brought up a freethinker and needing to rest my aching bones for the next week’s work,—I’d feel almost happy, in spite of everything.
‘But of course no such peace could last in my life; the second year at High School, Liboucha began to seem different and to do strange things. You know the time she wandered away for three days and we were all wild with fright, although a kind woman had taken her in and no harm came to her. I could never be easy after that; she was always gentle, but she was awful sly about running away, and at last I had to send her to the asylum. She stayed there off and on for five years, but I saw her every week of my life and she was always company for me, what with sewing for her, washing and ironing her clothes, cooking little things to take out to her and saving a bit of money to buy fruit for her. At any rate, I had stopped feeling so bitter, and got some comfort out of seeing the one thing that belonged to me on this side of the water, when all of a sudden she died of heart failure, and they never took the trouble to send for me until the next day.’
She stopped as if wondering afresh that the Fates could have been so casual, but with a sudden illumination, as if she had been awakened out of the burden and intensity of her restricted personal interests into a consciousness of those larger relations that are, for the most part, so strangely invisible. It was as if the young mother of the grotesque Devil Baby, that victim of wrong-doing on the part of others, had revealed to this tragic woman, much more clearly than soft words had ever done, that the return of a deed of violence upon the head of the innocent is inevitable; as if she had realized that, although she was destined to walk all the days of her life with that piteous multitude who bear the undeserved wrongs of the world, she would walk henceforth with a sense of companionship.
Among the visitors were pitiful old women who, although they had already reconciled themselves to much misery, were still enduring more. ‘You might say it’s a disgrace to have your son beat you up for the sake of a bit of money you’ve earned by scrubbing,—your own man is different,—but I have n’t the heart to blame the boy for doing what he’s seen all his life; his father forever went wild when the drink was in him and struck me to the very day of his death. The ugliness was born in the boy as the marks of the devil was born in the poor child upstairs.’
This more primitive type embodies the eternal patience of those humble toiling women who through the generations have been held of little value, save as their drudgery ministered to their men. One of them related her habit of going through the pockets of her drunken son every pay-day, and complained that she had never got so little as the night before, only twenty-five cents out of fifteen dollars he had promised for the rent long overdue. ‘I had to get that as he lay in the alley before the door; I could n’t pull him in, and the copper who helped him home left as soon as he heard me coming and pretended he did n’t see me. I have no food in the house nor coffee to sober him up with. I know perfectly well that you will ask me to eat something here, but if I can’t carry it home, I won’t take a bite nor a sup. I have never told you so much before. Since once of the nurses said he could be arrested for my non-support, I have been awfully close-mouthed. It’s the foolish way all the women in our street our talking about the Devil Baby that’s loosened my tongue—more shame to me.’
There are those, if possible more piteous still, who have become absolutely helpless and can therefore no longer perform the household services exacted from them. One last wish has been denied them. ‘I hoped to go before I became a burden, but it was not to be’; and the long days of unwonted idleness are darkened by the haunting fear that ‘they’ will come to think the burden too heavy and decide that the poorhouse is ‘the best.’ Even then there is no word of blame for undutiful children or heedless grandchildren, for apparently all that is petty and transitory falls away from austere old age; the fires are burnt out, resentments, hatreds, and even cherished sorrows have become actually unintelligible. It is as if the horrors through which these old people had passed had never existed for them, and, facing death as they are, they seem anxious to speak only such words of groping wisdom as they are able.
This aspect of memory has never been more clearly stated than by Gilbert Murray in his Life of Euripides . He tells us that the aged poet, when he was officially declared to be one of ‘the old men of Athens,’ said, ‘Even yet the age-worn minstrel can turn Memory into song’; and the memory of which he spoke was that of history and tradition, rather than his own. The aged poet turned into song even the hideous story of Medea, transmuting it into ‘a beautiful remote song about far-off children who have been slain in legend, children who are now at peace and whose ancient pain has become part mystery and part music. Memory—that Memory who is the mother of the Muses—having done her work upon them.’
The vivid interest of so many old women in the story of the Devil Baby may have been an unconscious, although powerful testimony that tragic experiences gradually become dressed in such trappings in order that their spent agony may prove of some use to a world which learns at the hardest; and that the strivings and sufferings of men and women long since dead, their emotion no longer connected with flesh and blood, are thus transmuted into legendary wisdom. The young are forced to heed the warning in such a tale, although for the most part it is so easy for them to disregard the words of the aged. That the old women who came to visit the Devil Baby believed that the story would secure them a hearing at home, was evident, and as they prepared themselves with every detail of it, their old faces shone with a timid satisfaction. Their features, worn and scarred by harsh living, even as effigies built into the floor of an old church become dim and defaced by rough-shod feet, grew poignant and solemn. In the midst of their double bewilderment, both that the younger generation were walking in such stranger paths and that no one would listen to them, for one moment there flickered up that last hope of a disappointed life, that it may at least serve as a warning while affording material for exciting narrations.
Sometimes in talking to one of them, who was ‘but a hair’s breadth this side of the darkness,’ one realized that old age has its own expression for the mystic renunciation of the world. The impatience with all non-essentials, the craving to be free from hampering bonds and soft conditions, was perhaps typified in our own generation by Tolstoï’s last impetuous journey, the light of his genius for a moment making comprehensible to us that unintelligible impulse of the aged.
Often, in the midst of a conversation, one of these touching old women would quietly express a longing for death, as if it were a natural fulfillment of an inmost desire. Her sincerity and anticipation were so genuine that I would feel abashed in her presence, ashamed to ‘cling to this strange thing that shines in the sunlight, and to be sick with love for it.’ Such impressions were in their essence transitory, but one result from the hypothetical visit of the Devil Baby to Hull-House will, I think, remain: a realization of the sifting and reconciling power inherent in Memory itself. The old women, with much to aggravate and little to soften the habitual bodily discomforts of old age, exhibited an emotional serenity so vast and reassuring that I found myself perpetually speculating as to how soon the fleeting and petty emotions which seem so unduly important to us now might be thus transmuted; at what moment we might expect the inconsistencies and perplexities of life to be brought under this appeasing Memory, with its ultimate power to increase the elements of Beauty and Significance and to reduce, if not to eliminate, stupidity and resentment.
As our visitors to the Devil Baby came day by day, it was gradually evident that the simpler women were moved not wholly by curiosity, but that many of them prized the story as a valuable instrument in the business of living.
The legend exhibited all the persistence of one of those tales which have doubtless been preserved through the centuries because of their taming effects upon recalcitrant husbands and fathers. Shamefaced men brought by their women-folk to see the baby but ill-concealed their triumph when there proved to be no such visible sign of retribution for domestic derelictions. On the other hand, numbers of men came by themselves. One group from a neighboring factor, on their ‘own time,’ offered to pay twenty-five cents, a half dollar, two dollars apiece to see the child, insisting that it must be at Hull-House because ‘the women folks had seen it.’ To my query as to whether they supposed we would exhibit for money a poor little deformed baby, if one had been born in the neighborhood, they replied, ‘Sure, why not?’ and, ‘It teaches a good lesson, too,’ they added as an afterthought, or perhaps as a concession to the strange moral standards of a place like Hull-House. All the members in this group of hardworking men, in spite of a certain swagger toward one another and a tendency to bully the derelict showman, wore that hang-dog look betraying the sense of unfair treatment which a man is so apt to feel when his womankind makes an appeal to the supernatural. In their determination to see the child, the men recklessly divulged much more concerning their motives than they had meant to do, and their talk confirmed my impression that such a story may still act as a restraining influence in that sphere of marital conduct which, next to primitive religion itself, we are told, ahs always afforded the most fertile field for irrational tabus [sic] and savage punishments.
What story more than this could be calculated to secure sympathy for the mother of too many daughters, and contumely for the irritated father? The touch of mysticism, the supernatural sphere in which it was placed, would render a man perfectly helpless.
The story of the Devil Baby, evolved to-day as it might have been centuries before in response to the imperative needs of anxious waives and mothers, recalled the theory that woman first fashioned the fairy-story, that combination of wisdom and romance, in an effort to tame her mate and to make him a better father to her children, until such stories finally became a rude creed for domestic conduct, softening the treatment that men accorded to women.
These first pitiful efforts of women, so widespread and powerful that we have not yet escaped their influence, still cast vague shadows upon the vast spaces of life, shadows that are dim and distorted because of their distance origin. They remind us that for thousands of years women had nothing to oppose against unthinkable brutality save ‘the charm of words,’ no other implement with which to subdue the fiercenesses of the world about them.
During the weeks that the Devil Baby drew multitudes of visitors to Hull-House, my mind was opened to the fact that new knowledge derived from concrete experience is continually being made available for the guidance of human life; that humble women are still establishing rules of conduct as best they may, to counteract the base temptations of a man’s world. Thousands of women, for instance, make it a standard of domestic virtue that a man must not touch his pay envelope, but bring it home unopened to his wife. High praise is contained in the phrase, ‘We have been married twenty years and he never once opened his own envelope’; or covert blame in the statement, ‘Of course he got to gambling; what can you expect from a man who always opens his own pay?’
The women are so fatalistically certain of this relation of punishment to domestic sin, of reward to domestic virtue, that when they talk about it, as they so constantly did in connection with the Devil Baby, it often sounds as if they were using the words of a widely known ritual. Even the young girls seized upon it as a palpable punishment, to be held over the heads of reckless friends. That the tale was useful was evidenced by man letters similar to the anonymous epistle here given.
‘me and my friends we work in talor shop and when we are going home on the roby street car where we get off that car at blue island ave. we will meet some fellows sitting at that street where they drink some beer from pail. they keep look in cars all the time and they will wait and see if we will come sometimes we ill have to work, but they will wait so long they are tired and they dont care they get rest so long but a girl what works in twine mill saw them talk with us we know her good and she say what youse talk with old drunk man for we shall come to thier dance when it will be they will tell us and we should know all about where to see them that girl she say oh if you will go with them you will get devils baby like some other girls did who we knows. she say Jane Addams she will show one like that in Hull House if you will go down there we shall come sometime and we will see if that is trouth we do not believe her for she is friendly with them old men herself when she go out from her work they will wink to her and say something else to. We will go down and see you and make a lie from what she say.’
The story evidently held some special comfort for hundreds of forlorn women, representatives of that vast horde of the denied and proscribed who had long found themselves confronted by those mysterious and impersonal wrongs which are apparently nobody’s fault but seem to be inherent in the very nature of things.
Because the Devil Baby embodied an underserved wrong to a poor mother, whose tender child had been claimed by the forces of evil, his merely reputed presence had power to attract to Hull-House hundreds of women who had been humbled and disgraced by their children; mothers of the feeble-minded, of the vicious, of the criminal, of the prostitute. In their talk it was as if their long rôle of maternal apology and protective reticence has at last broken down; as if they could speak out freely because for once a man responsible for an ill-begotten child had been ‘met up with’ and had received his deserts. Their sinister version of the story was that the father of the Devil Baby had married without confessing a hideous crime committed years before, thus basely deceiving both his innocent young bride and the good priest who performed the solemn ceremony; that the sin had become incarnate in his child which, to the horror of the young and trusting mother, had been born with all the outward aspects of the devil himself.
As if drawn by a magnet, week after week, a procession of forlorn women in search of the Devil Baby came to Hull-House from every part of the city, issuing forth from the many homes in which dwelt ‘the two unprofitable goddesses, Poverty and Impossibility.’ With an understanding quickened perhaps through my own acquaintance with the mysterious child, I listened to many tragic tales from the visiting women: of premature, ‘because he kicked me in the side’; of children maimed and burned because ‘I had no one to leave them with when I went to work.’ These women had seen the tender flesh of growing little bodies given over to death because ‘he would n’t let me send for the doctor,’ or because ‘there was no money to pay for the medicine.’ But even these mothers, rendered childless through insensate brutality, were less pitiful than some of the others, who might well have cried aloud of their children as did a distracted mother of her child centuries ago,—
That God should send this one thing more Of hunger and of dread, a door Set wide to every wind of pain!
Such was the mother of a feeble-minded boy who said, I did n’t have a devil baby myself, but I bore a poor “innocent,” who made me fight devils for twenty-three years.’ She told of her son’s experiences from the time the other little boys had put him up to stealing that they might hide in safety and leave him to be found with ‘the goods’ on him, until, grown into a huge man, he fell into the hands of professional burglars; he was evidently the dupe and stool-pigeon of the vicious and criminal until the very day he was locked into the State Penitentiary. ‘If people played with him a little, he went right off and did anything they told him to, and now he’s been set up for life. We call such innocents “God’s Fools” in the old country, but over here the Devil himself gets them. I’ve fought off bad men and boys from the poor lamb with my very fists; nobody ever came near the house except such like and the police officers who were always arresting him.’
There were a goodly number of visitors, of the type of those to be found in every large city, who are on the verge of nervous collapse or who exhibit many symptoms of mental aberration and yet are sufficiently normal to be at large most of the time and to support themselves by drudgery which requires little mental effort, although the exhaustion resulting from the work they are able to do is the one thing from which they should be most carefully protected. One such woman, evidently obtaining inscrutable comfort from the story of the Devil Baby even after she had become convinced that we harbored no such creature, came many times to tell of her longing for her son who had joined the army some eighteen months before and was stationed in Alaska. She always began with the same words. ‘When spring comes and the snow melts so that I know he could get out, I can hardly stand it. You know I was once in the Insane Asylum for three years at a stretch, and since then I have n’t had much use of my mind except to worry with. Of course I know that it is dangerous for me, but what can I do? I think something like this: “The snow is melting, now he could get out, but his officers won’t let him off, and if he runs away he’ll be shot for a deserter—either way I’ll never see him again; I’ll die without seeing him”—and then I begin all over again with the snow.’ After a pause, she said, ‘The recruiting officer ought not to have taken him; he’s my only son and I’m a widow; it’s against the rules, but he was so crazy to go that I guess he lied a little. At any rate, the government has him now and I can’t get him back. Without his worry about him, my mind would be all right; if he was here he would be earning money and keeping me and we would be happy all day long.’
Recalling the vagabondish lad who had never earned much money and had certainly never ‘kept’ his hard-working mother, I ventured to suggest that, even if he were at home, he might not have work these hard times, that he might get into trouble and be arrested,—I did not need to remind her that he had already been arrested twice,—that he was now fed and sheltered and under discipline, and I added hopefully something about seeing the world. She looked at me out of her withdrawn harried eyes, as if I were speaking a foreign tongue. “That would n’t make any real difference to me—the work, the money, his behaving well and all that, if I could cook and wash for him; I don’t need all the money I earn scrubbing that factory; I only take bread and tea for supper, and I choke over that, thinking of him.”
A sorrowful woman clad in heavy black, who came one day, exhibited such a capacity for prolonged weeping that it was evidence in itself of the truth of at least half her statement, that she had cried herself to sleep every night of her life for fourteen years in fulfillment of a ‘curse’ lad upon her by an angry man that ‘her pillow would be wet with tears as long as she lived.’ Her respectable husband had kept a shop in the Red Light district, because he found it profitable to sell to the men and women who lived there. She had kept house in the rooms ‘over the store,’ from the time she was a bride newly come from Russia, and her five daughters had been born there, but never a song to gladden her husband’s heart.
She took such a feverish interest in the Devil Baby that when I was obliged to disillusion her, I found it hard to take away her comfort in the belief that the Powers that Be are on the side of the woman, when her husband resents too many daughters. But, after all, the birth of daughters was but an incident in her tale of unmitigated woe, for the scoldings of a disappointed husband were as nothing to the curse of a strange enemy, although she doubtless had a confused impression that if there was retribution for one in the general scheme of things, there might be for the other.
When the weeping woman finally put the events of her disordered life in some sort of sequence, it was clear that about fifteen years ago she had reported to the police a vicious house whose back door opened into her own yard. Her husband had forbidden her to do anything about it and had said that it would only get them into trouble, but she had been made desperate one day when she saw her little girl, then twelve years old, come out of the door, gleefully showing her younger sister a present of money. Because the poor woman had tried for ten years, without success, to induce her husband to move from the vicinity of such houses, she was certain that she could save her child by forcing out ‘the bad people’ from her own door-yard. She therefore made her one frantic effort, found her way to the city hall, and there reported the house to the chief himself. Of course, ‘the bad people’ ‘stood in with the police,’ and nothing happened to them except, perhaps, a fresh levy of blackmail; but the keeper of the house, beside himself with rage, made the dire threat and laid the curse upon her. In less than a year from that time he had enticed her daughter into a disreputable house in another part of the district. The poor woman, ringing one doorbell after another, had never been able to find her, but the girl’s sisters, who in time came to know where she was, had been dazzled by her mode of life. The weeping mother was quite sure that two of her daughters, while still outwardly respectable and ‘working downtown,’ earned money in the devious ways which they had learned all about when they were little children, although for the past five years the now prosperous husband had allowed the family to live in a suburb where the two younger daughters were ‘growing up respectable.’
At moments it seemed possible that these simple women, representing an earlier development, eagerly seized upon the story simply because it was primitive in form and substance. Certainly one evening a long-forgotten ballad made an unceasing effort to come to the surface of my mind, as I talked to a feeble woman who, in the last stages of an incurable disease from which she soon afterwards died, had been helped off the street-car in front of Hull-House.
The ballad tells that the lover of a proud and jealous mistress, who demanded as a final test of devotion that he bring her the heart of his mother, had quickly cut the heart from his mother’s breast and impetuously returned to his lady bearing it upon a salver; but that, when stumbling in his gallant haste, he stooped to replace upon the silver plate his mother’s heart which had rolled upon the ground, the heart, still beating with tender solicitude, whispered the hope that her child was not hurt.
The ballad itself was scarcely more exaggerated than the story of our visitor that evening, who had made the desperate effort of a journey from home in order to see the Devil Baby. I was familiar with her vicissitudes: the shiftless drinking husband and the large family of children, all of whom had brought her sorrow and disgrace; and I knew that her heart’s desire was to see again before she died her youngest son, who was a life prisoner in the penitentiary. She was confident that the last piteous stage of her disease would secure him a week’s parole, founding this forlorn hope upon the fact that ‘they sometimes let them out to attend a mother’s funeral, and perhaps they’d let Joe come a few days ahead; he could pay his fare afterwards from the insurance money. It would n’t have take much to bury me.’
Again we went over the hideous story. Joe had violently quarreled with a woman, the proprietor of the house in which his disreputable wife lived, because she withheld from him a part of his wife’s ‘earnings,’ and in the altercation had killed her—a situation, one would say, which it would be difficult for even a mother to condone. But not at all: her thin gray face worked with emotion, her trembling hands restlessly pulled at her shabby skirt as the hands of the dying pluck at the sheets, but she put all the vitality she could muster in his defense. She told us he had legally married the girl who supported him, ‘although Lily had been so long in that life that few men would have done it. Of course such a girl must have a protector or everybody would fleece her; poor Lily said to the day of her death that he was the kindest man she ever knew, and treated her the whitest; that she herself was to blame for the murder because she told on the old miser, and Joe was so hot-headed she might have known that he would draw a gun for her.’ The gasping mother concluded, ‘He was always that handsome and had such a way. One winter when I was scrubbing in an office-building, I’d never get home much before twelve o’clock; but Joe would open the door for me just as pleasant as if he had n’t been waked out of a deep sleep.’
She was so triumphantly unconscious of the incongruity of a sturdy son in bed while his mother earned his food, that her auditors said never a word, and in silence we saw a hero evolved before our eyes: a defender of the oppressed, the best beloved of his mother, who was losing his high spirits and eating his heart out behind the prison bars. He could well defy the world even there, surrounded as he was by that invincible affection which assures both the fortunate and unfortunate alike that we are loved, not according to our deserts, but in response to some profounder law.
This imposing revelation of maternal solicitude was an instance of what continually happened in connection with the Devil Baby. In the midst of the most tragic recitals there remained that something in the souls of these mothers which has been called the great revelation of tragedy, or sometimes the great illusion of tragedy—that which has power in its own right to make life acceptable and at rare moments even beautiful.
At least, during the weeks when the Devil Baby seemed to occupy every room in Hull-House, one was conscious that all human vicissitudes are in the end melted down into reminiscence, and that a metaphorical statement of those profound experience which are implicit in human nature itself, however crude in form the story may be, has a singular power of healing the distracted spirit.
If it has always been the mission of literature to translate the particular act into something of the universal, to reduce the element of crude pain in the isolated experience by bringing to the sufferer a realization that his is but the common lot, this mission may have been performed through such stories as this for simple hard-working women, who, after all, at any given moment compose the bulk of the women in the world.
The Hull House was a house that served as one of Chicago’s hubs for social services. It also became a place where many of the city’s women would prepare to take on the world in terms of the skills they needed to acquire jobs in various industries. The house served in its capacity to serve the working-class women of Chicago with any of the services they need to get through their lives (including those who have immigrated to the city from other parts of the world). But is the home once occupied by a world-renowned social worker named Jane Addams as haunted as some claim? We will be taking a look at the history of the house and learn about the stories of why it may be one of the most haunted places in all of the Windy City.
Source: [ https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a7/The_Hull_House%2C_Chicago_%28front%29.tif/lossy-page1-1200px-The_Hull_House%2C_Chicago_%28front%29.tif.jpg ]
The Hull House was established in 1889, named after Charles Jerald Hull (the original resident of the house). The house was established by two social activists by the name of Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr. Both women were known for their social work and aiding working-class women in being able to survive outside of the home by taking on jobs and learning the skills that were often required in industries that have been male-dominated. Most of the working-class women that were visiting the home were mostly women who had immigrated from countries like Germany, Poland, and other parts of Europe.
When Addams was in London in 1884, she visited Toynbee Hall, a place that served as a hub for social services for London’s working-class women. Addams sought to do the same for the City of Chicago. The house was established at a time when a women’s movement was beginning to take shape. At that point, women were limited to what they were able to do in the United States. Among some of the issues on their agenda, they included education, being able to break into roles in industries that were often male-dominated, and autonomy.
Once the home was established five years later, Addams and Starr had a place where women would take classes in many skills. They learned things like art, domestic activities like sewing, and have hosted classes on history and literature among all kinds of subjects. The mission of the home was to create a community by what Addams described as being “bonded by sisterhood”. The classes were free to adult women and also children as well. Addams and Starr had intended to fulfill their mission by establishing their house in a working-class neighborhood so both the working and poor had a place to go to learn new skills and receive the services they needed in order to survive.
In 1892, Addams was able to publish her findings upon establishing the Hull House. She described them as the three “R’s”: residence, research, and reform. She believed that in order to make life better for the working class and poor people of the West Side neighborhood of Chicago, she believed that there needed to be a study on why poverty and dependence were existent in such a neighborhood like West Side Chicago. Her mission was to also find a way to make the lives of those who have recently immigrated to America a lot better than those that have come before them (considering the living and working conditions that some of the previous waves of immigrants have come to endure).
The Hull House was situated in a neighborhood that was overwhelmingly predominant with Italian residents (most of them immigrating from Italy). One of the Hull House articles that were published was written with greetings in Italian. However, the Hull House was welcome to those of different races, nationalities, languages, and traditions. They were willing to treat those who entered the home with respect. During the time when Hull House was established, there had been a wide mix of nationalities in Chicago that included the Greeks, Polish, Russians, Germans, and Jewish immigrants. Those numbers slowly began to dwindle by the turn of the 20th century. However, the Italians remained in the neighborhood and so the inception of Chicago’s “Little Italy” had begun to take shape.
The house not only had provided all kinds of classes and social services to the women of Chicago’s West Side, some of the staffers inside the home had served as midwives and were responsible for delivering babies that were born to working-class or poor mothers. At the same time, Addams and Starr had also provided services like sheltering women who were victims of domestic violence, aiding the sick and dying, and sheltering children who were unwanted by their parents. These were just the many activities that the Hull House was willing to provide and made sure that not a single woman or child was left behind. The house became a hub for social welfare (and perhaps the birthplace of a social welfare system that has long helped many of America’s less fortunate even to this day).
Jane Addams had remained the head of the Hull House until her passing in 1935. The house continued to serve in its capacity as a place for social services until the 1960s when it became the property of the University of Illinois-Chicago. However, the social services continued under an organization named the Jane Addams Hull House Association. The association remained in service until 2012 due to financial difficulties.
Today, the original Hull House serves as a museum in honor of Addams and Starr and the social services they have performed in their many years of operating the home. But for visitors to the museum, are they getting to see a bit more than the exhibits themselves? Are there any spirits looming about in the house that was the home of many women and children? And since it served as a place where the sick and dying were tended to, have the spirits of those who departed while inside the home still remain to this day?
Source: [ https://cdn.britannica.com/02/164502-050-D0B39DEA/Jane-Addams-Hull-House-Museum-Chicago-settlement-buildings.jpg ]
Around the time when Addams had moved into the Hull House, she recalled hearing of the home having a reputation of being haunted. She had been skeptical of such claims and continued to move into the house as planned. It was said the Charles Hull’s wife had died inside the home in 1860 and is said to remain at the home in spirit. At one point, the Little Sisters of The Poor had used the home as a shelter for the elderly. Many of them had died of natural causes. It had been said that some of those spirits may haunt the house from time to time.
The earliest known ghost story about Hull House was not known until about 1913 when a story was widely circulating about a man apparently declaring that he would rather have the devil at home instead of a picture of the Virgin Mary. It was said that the woman who was married to this mystery man (an atheist) was a Catholic and was pregnant with their child. It was said that a “devil baby” was born and rumored that Addams had locked the baby in the attic after attempting to baptize it. Addam denied such claims about a “Devil baby” being born despite the number of children being born in the home itself.
Despite the numerous stories of ghosts being sighted, there had been some widely erroneous stories of hauntings involving the Hull House.
The Hull House might be one of the many places to check out in Chicago while you are exploring the city for some ghostly adventures. In fact, it might be a part of some of the “Ghost Tours” that are going on in the city itself. Or you can go on your own accord and check it out for yourself. While there might always not be a guarantee that you’ll see some paranormal activity, it’s always an adventure to check out places and learn the history of the city.
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