The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Clinton

October 27, 2012

St. Irenaeus tells a ghost story

CLINTON — Clinton Herald staff reporters Natalie Conrad and Katie Dahlstrom investigated legends and spooky stories involving the area’s history with Halloween.

For the next four issues of the
Herald, those stories will focus on ghosts, homes and legends in the Gateway area. For today’s story, Dahlstrom spent the evening of Saturday, Oct. 13, in St. Irenaeus with the Quad Cities Paranormal Research Organization. This is her account of the evening.

____

The darkness of St. Irenaeus enveloped me as I nervously perched on one of the dozens of pews.

I’m not alone. In the pew behind me, Gavin called to whatever spirit might have been moving through the more than century-old church on this eerie Saturday night.

Beside me, Lisa Ricker watched her K2 EMF meter for blips of light indicating an increase in electric energy.

“It’s literally energy, that’s typically how we know if something’s going on,” Ricker said.

Ricker is the founder of the Quad Cities Paranormal Research Organization (QC PRO); Gavin, who wished to be referred to only by his first name, is the co-leader of the group. 

They, along with three other investigators, ventured from the comfort of their homes to spend an evening coaxing spirits in the cold, black night.  

The two have been in the former church that the Clinton County Historical Society now uses as a cultural center once before to investigate what, if any spirits have made their home in the former church.

“We’re pretty skeptical, but we believe,” Ricker said.

Gavin explained the group rules out ungrounded electrical outlets or animals infestations before determining if unnerving happenings are the result of a haunting. Throughout the course of the investigation they generously allowed me to observe, with Ricker and Gavin indicating on their continuously recording digital voice recorder and cameras that certain noises and sights were not to be mistaken for a paranormal occurrence.  

In a move that inadvertently set the tone for the hours to follow for me, we started the evening by listening to the electionic voice phenomenon (EVP) captured during the group’s visit to the church on Labor Day weekend. To capture the voices, they use a recorder and a small instrument called the SB7 Spirit Box, which captures voices over a rapid sweep of radio frequencies.

“They talk on a different frequency than us,” Gavin said. “Most of the time we don’t hear the response with our ears. They could be yelling at us and we won’t hear it.”

Eager for a sample of what I might be getting into, I snatched a pair of headphones and fearfully listened to a recording of a man’s voice commanding “go out.”

Following the listening session and subsequent setup of eight cameras designed to capture any ghostly apparition throughout the former church, the investigation was on.

The spirits of St. Irenaeus did not disappoint.  

As I sat on a pew in the center of the dark church ready to bolt in case of overwhelming fright, clearly audible thuds resembling the cadence of foot steps echoed from the stairs descending from the choir loft behind us.   

After reviewing the recordings at home, Gavin confirmed to me the footsteps were captured on his recording device along with three voices. He said one of the spirits playfully responded to his request to let him capture it on camera with, “Hurry up, catch me on video.” Going through five to seven minutes of audio can take hours in order to ensure nothing is mistaken to be a ghost, when it could be otherwise rationalized, Gavin explained.  

“It leads me to believe we have an intelligent haunting, not a residual one,” he said.

In an intelligent haunting, Gavin explained, the spirit is aware of the living world and responds to it.  

The rest of my night produced comparable scares. In the small side room below the south steeple, voices over the SB7 Spirit Box told us 26 spirits inhabit St. Irenaeus, six of them priests.

One of them, possibly Father Frederick Cyrillus Jean, who was the founding priest of the massive structure in the 1860s. According to the “Five Catholic Churches of Clinton, Iowa,” which was written by Mary Ellen Eckelberg in 1999, Father Jean was removed from the church he loved by Bishop John Hennessy of Dubuque in 1872 amidst a cloud of tension.  He died under mysterious circumstances in 1890 at age of 53. Some reports attributed his death to an alleged poisoning by the anti-catholic secret society, the American Protective Association, which was established in Clinton in 1887, Eckelberg wrote.

A number of the questions that night were asked to Father Jean.

“I’ve been in the presence of a holy person before,” Gavin said. “I feel like there’s a holy person here.”  

In the room below the north steeple, Gavin asked the spirits to show me they exist. Seconds later, little rocks fell onto us from the ceiling. The mel meter (another paranormal investigator gadget) also showed a temperature drop in the already chilly room. I can’t explain why it happened; I only know that it did.

The investigation concluded by 10 p.m. As the group gathered equipment, my mind reeled trying to process the unexplained knocks on pews, footsteps in the darkness and priests’ spirits. Weeks later, I attribute some of the scares to my first-paranormal investigation jitters. Having never done a paranormal investigation before and being intrigued by the opportunity, my nerves were sensitive. To Gavin and Lisa, however, what happened that night in St. Irenaeus went beyond sensitive nerves.

“We really clearly had some things going on,” Gavin said.

1
Text Only
Clinton
  • Fire alarm evacuation at Eagle Heights

    Students of Eagle Heights Elementary School were evacuated Thursday afternoon after staff smelled something being emitted in the first-grade hallway and main office areas.

    According to a press release from the Clinton Community School District, staff noticed the smell at approximately 1:10 p.m. It was then determined the fire department should be notified, and the fire alarm was pulled. The building was evacuated quickly and the Clinton Fire Department responded immediately.

    April 17, 2014

  • JUST IN: McColley found not guilty of sex abuse

    A Clinton County jury today found Russell McColley, 39, not guilty of second-degree sexual abuse.

    McColley was accused of abusing a 3-year-old girl on July 29, 2013. If convicted of the class B felony, he could have faced as much as 25 years in prison.

    April 17, 2014

  • AGENDA: 4-21-14 Clinton School Board Committee of the Whole

    The Clinton Community School Board will meet April 21 at 6 p.m. at the Clinton Administration Center.

    April 17, 2014

  • Court denies man's appeal in robbery CLINTON -- The Iowa Court of Appeals has upheld a conviction of a man who robbed a Clinton pawn shop in 2012. Darrell L. Thomas recently appealed his first-degree robbery conviction to the Iowa Court of Appeals. The court released its decision Wednes

    April 17, 2014

  • 4-17-14 Trees forever photo 2 Let it grow (with Video)

    CLINTON - A new generation of trees will be planted by a young generation of Irish. Wednesday during class, Lisa Golden's Prince of Peace Prep third-graders continued their year-long biology education with the help of Clinton's Trees Forever organiza

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • LumberKings let one get away vs. Dayton DAYTON, Ohio -- For eight innings, the Clinton LumberKings were on their way to ending a three-game losing streak, as their pitchers mowed down Dayton's batters. But the Dragons finally struck in the ninth inning, tying the game, then they handed the

    April 17, 2014

  • CCDA will match funds to secure van

    CLINTON -- One local non-profit organization soon will benefit from a donation from the Clinton County Development Association but it's not their typical form of grant giving. During a meeting Wednesday, CCDA members discussed the possibility of matc

    April 17, 2014

  • Jury deliberating in sex abuse case CLINTON -- Jurors were set to return to court this morning to continue deliberating on the trial of a man accused of sexually abusing a 3-year-old girl. The jury deliberated for more than two hours on the Russell McColley case Wednesday afternoon, be

    April 17, 2014

  • 4-19-14 FBLA photo CHS Future Business Leaders of America attend conference Thirty members of the Clinton High School Future Business Leaders of America attended their spring leadership conference at the Marriott Coralville from March 26-29. Students attending the conference competed against other Iowa students in state and

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-16-14 1B-Photo, Robinson Kings' Robinson trying to keep up with himself CLINTON -- Deshond Robinson knew he was fast, but he didn't know how fast he had become since winning the open 400-meter dash at the Iowa high school state meet last spring. Earlier in his high school career, Robinson was pretty reluctant about comp

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

Clinton Herald Photos


Browse, buy and submit pictures with our photo site.

Facebook