Editor's Note: A shorter version of the story below was included in Frankfort Patch's Halloween article, Historic Hauntings in Frankfort. After publication of that article, Patch was contacted by Frankfort homeowner Kevin Ziegler, who provided further details regarding his house in historic Frankfort and its inhabitants.
As a child growing up in the Lincoln-Way area, Kevin Ziegler loved the four-story Victorian mansion at the corner of Sauk Trail and Center Road in historic Frankfort.
Today, Ziegler owns the house, which was abandoned for 15 years before he purchased it 13 years ago.
Almost immediately after he moved in, the Frankfort resident says he experienced unusual occurrences in the historic home. Silverware disappeared, doors opened in the middle of the night and coffee mugs exploded, Ziegler says, and he couldn’t explain why.
Then, during the Frankfort Fall Festival of 2005, the story behind Ziegler’s house and the strange things that happened inside it came to light.
Sarah and Sadie
In the midst of the festival, Ziegler says he came upon a 93-year old man standing in his yard and staring at the third floor window of the house. The man, who introduced himself as “Sam,” was wearing a three-piece suit and a fedora.
He told Ziegler that his wife had grown up in the house, and that it was inhabited by two ghosts.
The first, Sam said, was named Sarah. She was an English immigrant who contracted a fever while crossing the Atlantic and died in the house in 1909 at the age of 10.
The second, Sadie, who was 12 at the time of her death, boarded a train in Boston to escape her abusive parents in 1901 and got off in Frankfort, Zeigler says Sam told him.
Sadie got a job working as a maid at Ziegler’s house, which, at the time, was a bordello. One night, a man named Will mistook Sadie for a prostitute, Sam told Zeigler. He beat and raped her, before cutting her throat. Sadie was wrapped in a sheet by the workers at the bordello and buried in a shallow grave at the train tracks.
Both Sarah and Sadie died in the same third floor bedroom, Sam said.
Ziegler listened to the old man’s story, but remained uncertain about his home’s ghostly inhabitants.
“I was very, very skeptical at the time,” he said.
Becoming a Believer
In recent years, the ghosts at Sauk and Center have grown more adventurous and made a believer out of Ziegler.
He relayed Sam’s story to several of the house’s previous tenants, all of whom confirmed Sarah’s history, he said.
A medium with whom he sought a consultation was able to instantly recount Sadie’s tragic tale upon entering the house, according to Ziegler.
At the same time that Ziegler was seeking clarification from neighbors and experts, the ghosts themselves seemed to confirm Sam’s story.
While Skyping with a friend one evening, Ziegler stepped away from his computer monitor. Ziegler says that when he returned, his friend, who now refuses to enter his house, insisted that a little girl stepped in front of the camera while he was out of the room, despite the fact that Ziegler was alone in the house.
In another instance of spiritual interjection, Ziegler says a neighbor knocked on his door one night and told him that there was a little girl who was dangling her feet out of the third floor window and at risk of falling.
Ziegler says that in recent years he has routinely heard voices that speak directly to him and anyone else who might visit the house. He says that Sarah and Sadie have appeared in period clothing and that he has heard crying on the third floor, and even heard Sadie screaming at the top of her lungs several years ago on Oct. 22, which is said to be the date of her death.
More than a dozen people have encountered the ghosts, Ziegler says, and he has even had ghost hunters turn up at his front door, hoping for a spiritual encounter.
“I believe they exist,” said Christina Daniels, a longtime friend of Ziegler, who says she has heard the ghosts laughing and singing while visiting the house and while on the phone with Ziegler.
Frankfort resident Suzanne LaRotunda has also encountered the Sauk and Center ghosts, she says.
According to LaRotunda, Ziegler came to her house one day with a medium, who believed there was a spiritual connection between the Ziegler’s house and LaRotunda’s.
Since then, LaRotunda has visited Ziegler’s house, where she said the temperature dropped significantly inside the house, and Ziegler’s dogs behaved strangely, sitting in unison and staring at the ceiling.
“It feels like something’s there,” she said.
After visiting Ziegler’s house, LaRotunda says she was awoken in the middle of the night. She found a light in her bedroom had been turned on. When she lay down to go back to sleep, the light turned off on its own.
The next morning, La Rotunda says she found all the makeup from her vanity had been placed on a chair and flipped upside down.
Despite the reported ghostly activity in his house, Ziegler doesn’t think his spiritual tenants are dangerous in any way.
“Never have I ever been frightened of them,” he said.
In fact, since becoming comfortable with his live-in ghosts, Ziegler and several of his friends have started the Greater Chicago Paranormal Society. The society will pursue ghostly interactions at both local and national locations, including the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet and the old Joliet prison.
Today, Ziegler prefers to think of his house, not as haunted, but as spiritually occupied.
“They’ve been there long before I got there and they’re going to be there long after I leave,” he said.
Get news alerts and Facebook updates from these Lincoln-Way Patch sites: