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Old Copley, Abandoned Hospital

 

Old Copley use to be City Hospital back in 1886, and boasted 25 beds. Of course, by the time they closed in 1996 to move to a much larger facility, it had grown considerably, almost swallowing up the original Queen Anne 3 story structure. Despite the original part being declared a historic site, they (the city) are pushing to demolish it. I can't say I blame them, it's been neglected for a long time.

It sits just a few blocks from where I now live, and I walk past it often. Of course it's rumored to be haunted. I feel a sentimental attachment to it; both my children were born there. I always pause walking past it, sometimes walking up to it. I feel bad, I guess, for it. All those years of service, all that history and all it's getting is a wrecking ball at some point.

There's been a few 'paranormal teams' (at least that's their claim. I don't know how legitimate they were) and multiple urban explorers who've trespassed into Old Copley claiming to have experienced things; voices, apparitions, a doll that moved on its own and such. They may have.

Once, right around dusk, I had a fairly bad scare, standing in front of the large doors, looking in - I could see someone approaching the door. I stood still, wondering if it would materialize into a clearer image or if someone was trespassing. The glass was dirty, and it wasn't very clear. The image appeared to be reaching out to me - a heavy hand on my shoulder - I whirled about almost loosing it, before I realized it was a cop. It took almost two seconds for me to grasp what I had really seen was his reflection in the glass approaching me from behind, and not someone coming towards me. I felt relieved and stupid all at once. Of course he wanted to know what I was up to. No trespassing signs all over the place. I told the simple truth - just stopping for a memory. He must have found it funny to almost give me a heart attack, because he was struggling to contain a chuckle. That and I'm about as intimidating/threatening as Shirley Temple.

I'm not saying the old hospital isn't haunted, because I think it is. However, it's been so long before their doors ever closed.

Back in 1981, I was there to have my first child. I ended up having an emergency c-section. After the effects of the anesthetics had worn off, I was sitting up in my bed, debating on calling the night nurse. I was incredibly thirsty, but I paused because I knew it was late; the maternity floor was very quiet, signaling way past visiting hours and most were sleeping. Since my older sisters are retired nurses, I've a healthy respect for the profession. Did I really want to disturb them for something so mundane? Someone should be making rounds soon, maybe I could wait until then.

Right about then, a nun came into my room. Even though there's a Catholic Church, literally on the corner from the hospital, I was a bit surprised that she still wore the full Nun's habit, complete with wimple and floor length robes, a heavy rosary hung at her waist. "Hi, Sister," I croaked. She smiled at me, and silently poured me a glass of water from the pitcher on the night stand. (Why can they never put it within reach?) I drank it, thankfully. The nun took the empty glass, and asked, "Better?" I said something, like, "Much. Thanks,"as I laid back on the bed. I was wondering if it was the lighting or imagination, that she seemed to glow a tiny bit. At any rate her presence was comforting. She smiled again, and left, I assumed to look in on others.

The next day, a couple of Sisters dropped by. I swear they meander the halls and if you're alone they stop.Besides, maternity is about the only 'happy' floor in a hospital. They were dressed in the 'modern' outfits. More of knee length dove grey jumper, and a simple veil as a head covering. Being the curious sort, I asked about the nun's dress from before. Which got me quizzical looks, and told no one in their order wore that sort of habit any more, perhaps she was visiting from another city or was from another order.

Flash forwards 5 years,1986, second child, second c-section. The night nurse is an absolute doll. I think her name was Karen, not that it really matters, but she use to bring me coffee 'after hours' from the nurse's lounge, and in slow times visit with me, chattering about this and that. We shared some good talks at odd hours if I was awake and she'd time. When she was on duty, I never worried about being an 'inconvenience', she'd pop in saying, "I thought you'd NEVER ring", and we'd both laugh like we shared the greatest joke ever told. Sometimes, we'd stroll the halls together. Me, hunched over like I'm 90 and pulling along the IV stand, and her ambling by my side.

It was on one of these strolls I saw the nun again. She was coming from the 'quiet ward' as we referred to it. The area women who didn't have happy deliveries finished their stays in. Away from the babies, and new moms. Karen and I always turned down another corridor before we reached those doors. It was just too sad. I opened my mouth to greet the nun, but then shut it, because her head was down and she looked to be in silent prayer. I paused as she passed, and Karen's grip on my elbow tightened almost painfully, causing me to jerk my head towards her, away from the Nun. "Did you see that?" Karen's voice was barely a whisper.

"What? The nun?" I was confused. Nun's were nothing to be afraid of, yet Karen was clearly scared. She nodded 'yes' and we both turned our heads in the Nun's direction. Nothing. Just other nurses and orderlies. Not a habit wearing soul in sight.

Back in my room, over cups of the strongest coffee Karen could find, she informed me we had just seen Sister Augustus, or rather the ghost of her.

Long ago there had been a horrible train wreck, when a passenger train ran an open switch and collided with carboys of acid. The accident occurred in the yards, one mile from the depot. Seven boys were playing on a car when the train, running at full speed, swung onto the siding. With no chance to escape, two died, while the others were more or less burned.

Sister Augustus was one of the first to reach the victims and start first aid. She rode with the injured to the hospital, and despite having suffered some burns herself, demanded to help look after them. She refused to rest or to be treated until after they were cared for.

The story goes that infection set in and the good nun died from it. But ever after, there were those who claimed the nun had cared for them in some way.

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The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by yourghoststories.com. Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, valkricry, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

hmbeck09 (10 posts)
 
1 month ago (2017-10-10)
I meant small stories as in shorter ones. Mostly just hearing footsteps and the temperature gauge going up to 100 degrees in the middle of the night with no explanation. We even had a heating and cooling company come and check it out and they found no problems what so ever. This was when I lived in Creston, IA in a large old Victorian house. It was a beautiful house. Very old. It even had a servants quarters with a back staircase that went down into the kitchen, and boy were those some scary steps, very dark and steep as heck. I loved that house though. I had a fireplace in my bedroom πŸ˜† πŸ˜† ❀ ❀
valkricry (39 stories) (2748 posts) mod
 
3 months ago (2017-08-07)
Awww, Cat, thank you. Of course, I can't know for certain, but I want to believe that since the hospital is empty now, she's moved on. I also want to believe she took any others that may have been there with her, and any reports about 'activity' or sightings, are really just other trespassers or imagination. In my opinion, you go looking for it you deserve your pants to get wet. Especially when you go breaking the law, and taking stupid chances. πŸ˜†
valkricry (39 stories) (2748 posts) mod
 
3 months ago (2017-08-07)
Rook, Hope all is well with you. Thanks for reading.

Hmbeck,Well, thank you kindly. I'm not sure why some folks seem to have a good many experiences, and then you have those who claim zero. Maybe some of it lies in perspective. Personally, I know those who would deny their existence, even if they shook hands and did all the 'classical' Hollywood version of ghost stunts.
I don't think there is anything as a 'small' paranormal event.πŸ€” Maybe not hair raising, or heart stopping, and definitely NOT scary ones. But, small as in insignificant? Nope, they all count in my opinion. You just have to be mindful that not everything is 'paranormal' either. Sometimes, a cold spot is just a cold spot, and those missing items just forgetfulness. But, if you can rule out all the mundane possibilities, how can ANYTHING that is beyond our 'world' be 'small', if it helps confirm that life as we know it isn't all there is?
Cat7777 (9 posts)
 
3 months ago (2017-08-07)
I adore your stories Vakricry. So well written, I feel like I'm in the moment with you. This one in particular gave me chills! I wonder if the nun still wanders the halls. I hope she has moved on
hmbeck09 (10 posts)
 
4 months ago (2017-08-03)
I already have you saved into my favorites and I think this is at least the 3rd story of yours that I have favorited! Boy, I wonder what it would be like to have your experiences! I have a couple small ones but nothing where I was sure of what I saw was paranormal! ❀ 😁
rookdygin (24 stories) (4338 posts)
 
4 months ago (2017-08-03)
Val,

Instant Fav.

Sounds like you encountered a very helpful and caring spirit. Thanks for sharing.

Respectfully,

Rook
valkricry (39 stories) (2748 posts) mod
+1
4 months ago (2017-08-02)
Miracles,
I guess since ghosts or ghostly activity is not of the 'norm' and many are taught they don't exist, fear could be a knee jerk reaction. You also have the religious aspect. Not putting anyone down or trying to stir a pot, but many are taught to believe there are no such things as spirits, there are only demons bent on your destruction in disguise. If that was my mind set, you bet your boots I'd be scared.
Wouldn't matter WHAT the spirit was doing, I'd be running the other way.
There's an old saying, "That which man does not understand he fears." Might be that simple.
Miracles51031 (36 stories) (4802 posts) mod
 
4 months ago (2017-08-02)
Darn val, what a great experience 😊 I always have to wonder why people's first instinct seems to be fear when they see a ghost πŸ˜•
valkricry (39 stories) (2748 posts) mod
 
4 months ago (2017-08-02)
Melda,
I'm with you on the strange names. We even had a Sister Eugene. Seriously? Ethelred - ummm...Okayyy. Lol

Beaut - yep, Catholics are fond of their Saints, that's for sure. There's so many not even the Church is sure of the number (if you include those not Canonized) estimated to be something like 10, 000 I think. Boggles the mind. I think the 'recognized' list is something like 894, but not sure. Sometimes someone will mention Saint ___ and I'm all WHO!? Lol
BeautInside (2 stories) (186 posts)
 
4 months ago (2017-08-02)
Hi Melda,

Here's one thing our cultures differ so much (and we are always learning) lol
In my country nuns don't choose a male name, they usually go for RosΓ‘rio (Rosary), Benedita (Benedict)... Oh, hold on a second because and I just realised that our female names are female because the suffix is female"y" and in English some names can go both ways as is the case of Benedict (we have Benedita for female and Benedito for male). There goes part of my theory lolol At least I learnt something!

Blessings.
BeautInside (2 stories) (186 posts)
 
4 months ago (2017-08-02)
Hi Val,

Oooops, my mistake then sorry! 😳 We don't celebrate St. Augustus in my country but we usually say that there's a Saint for every name lol So I should've known better. 😊

It just seems a bit unlikely to me a Sister to pick Augustus as her "religious" name, if I may call it. But again, we never know what's in other people minds. 😁

Blessings.
Melda (8 stories) (661 posts)
 
4 months ago (2017-08-02)
Val - Just as a by the way to the comments on names mentioned by a number of members here. I was also educated by nuns at a convent and we had a Sister John and a Sister Kevin (Holy Cross Order). You can't believe the strange names that some of them had. One was also a Sister Ethelred. Who on earth would want to be called Ethelred? πŸ˜†

Regards, Denise
valkricry (39 stories) (2748 posts) mod
 
4 months ago (2017-08-02)
BeautInside,
Actually we do have a St. Augustus (his feast day is October 7, if your curious) but I get where you're coming from. If her order was one where you got to pick and weren't assigned (given) your new name - well, I don't think Augustus would be on my list! Lol
valkricry (39 stories) (2748 posts) mod
+1
4 months ago (2017-08-02)
Manafon,
I know, scrolling through that list is kind of addicting right? Not sure why, though.
I did note that of the partial listing I've been through a number of nuns seemed to have passed in July of 1889. Makes me wonder what happened then. Influenza out break, maybe.
Lol - I got so excited when the August/Augustus connection hit me. (I do find it rather delicious that a comment by AUGUSTa had sent me to that site, by the way. But maybe that's just me.) Seriously, I almost fell off my chair. Why had I never made that connection before? It seems so obvious now. But, that is the beauty of research.
BeautInside (2 stories) (186 posts)
 
4 months ago (2017-08-02)
Hi Val,

Thanks for sharing another great experience! Honestly, I have never seen a full bodied apparition and I don't actually mind about that, but I wouldn't mind seeing that nurse. 😁

Tweed, for me that is a really good theory!
It doesn't seem likely to me that in the middle of the chaos anyone assisting the poor victims would mind asking the Sister's name 1) because when you see a nun you tend to call her sister right away, and 2) you might mind her name if there was another sister present and you'd have to distinguish between them (hope this isn't getting too confusing), but this doesn't seem the case.

About the name Augustus, when I started reading about Val's impressive encounter (s) it seemed odd to me a sister to choose being called Augustus. Not only because it is a male name, even though it can be possible to be used as female name and I'm not criticizing it at all, but also because they usually choose a name to honor a Saint or other holly figure. And Augustus derives from latin and is more associated with emperors than holliness, as far as I know.

So Tweed's theory makes perfect sense! Maybe they never knew her name and associated the Sister to the month the accident took place- August, and voilÑ you have Sister Augustus!😁

Blessings.
valkricry (39 stories) (2748 posts) mod
+1
4 months ago (2017-08-02)
L_Melb,
Quite true, my friend, quite true. Even if I do stumble upon a nun that seems to 'fit', we'd still have no way of knowing if it is THE nun. I mean, she may have not even been assigned to this area but traveling through. So, yes there is some assumption involved.
I couldn't agree more, Manafon's finding information that there even was a train wreck was astounding. So we do know that at least that much of the legend is factual.
But, your point, about the researching, that is spot on. At least, Sister Augustus was never turned into some Grim Reaper specter. πŸ˜†
Manafon1 (5 stories) (492 posts)
 
4 months ago (2017-08-02)
Hi Val--I became quite obsessed with looking up names and dates on the link you included in you last comment. There were several possibilities as far as timeframe was concerned but, as you noted, the real name of the nun could have been just about anything. Beautiful cemetery though!

Your noting that the train wreck occurred in August and that the nun is referred to as "Sister Augustus" was some fantastic deductive reasoning and makes a lot of sense. One can see how a nun being in the hospital when the injured were brought in could have concluded that the nun was also at the crash site and as time went on her name became tied up I with the month of the tragedy.

I know you stated in an earlier comment it would be nice for you to visit her grave and say thanks--but you can do that anyway. I have a feeling such a caring and rather tenacious ghost would hear your message.
L_Melb (198 posts)
 
4 months ago (2017-08-02)
Hi Val,
Your last comment made me think again of what I wanted to write earlier but (still) haven't figured out how to phrase properly.
A problem with researching something like this is you don't know what has been added in the telling of the story over time - it's just too good and you can imagine the little details that could be added/removed or changed when passed on by those who are more interested in drama than facts πŸ˜•
As if real life isn't good enough πŸ˜†
Anything could lead you off track (no pun) and it is something that an original accident was even found.
Whatever anyone may find, I'm just grateful to have had another of your experiences to read! 😁
valkricry (39 stories) (2748 posts) mod
+1
4 months ago (2017-08-01)
Manafon, and AugustaM,
I have this theory: (This hit me as I was perusing the Sisters of Providence cemetery records.) Although I did find a Sister Augustus who died in 1889 - it was in May of that year. So, not her, but I'm not done with the list yet, so there's hope.
Anyway, I'm going down the list saying, "August 1895... August - Augustus where are you?" When it hit me. What if Sister Augustus was never even Augustus? Augustus means August and the wreck was in August!
Is it possible that "Augustus" was a name given TO her as they believed her connected to the wreck? In my head, I can hear a couple of nurses whispering to each other. "Hey, remember that Nun that died? Back in August- right after the train wreck?" Other nurse nods, and the first one says,"I think I just saw her!" Then as other's (patients and what not) mention seeing the nun, they whisper, "Must have been Sister Augustus," like a code. I mean after all, you really don't want to go telling sick or dying people they've just seen a ghost. It's like Manafon was saying, her real identity could have been altered.
Anyway, this is the site I'm looking at https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=cr&CRid=2149591
Given the church ages nearby, that seems the best bet. I'm looking at shortly after 17th of August, 1895 to perhaps early September as date of death.
Argette (guest)
+1
4 months ago (2017-08-01)
Well-written account, Valkricry! Wow.

You had me on the edge of my seat. I'm always happy see see a post from you!
valkricry (39 stories) (2748 posts) mod
+2
4 months ago (2017-08-01)
Another thought too, Manafon. As you say it's possible the 2 incidents are unrelated. I'll even say highly possible, because we know how legends are; 1+ 1=11. It's just possible that the Sister was in the vicinity and came to lend a hand at the time of the wreck (after they arrived at hospital), and folks assumed she came with. It's also possible her infection wasn't burn related at all. Hygiene wasn't nearly what it is today back then. Over the years, the two could become entwined, and she became kind of heroic (is that the word I want?)
What ever the back story is, at least I know I wasn't the only one to see her. Still, it would be nice to know, wouldn't it? Maybe even find her grave and thank her for her kindness to me.
valkricry (39 stories) (2748 posts) mod
+1
4 months ago (2017-08-01)
Manafon - oh you make me laugh! I basically found it so funny because my oldest brother was taught by nuns (full habit). He was fine as long as they faced him, but when they turned their back he SWORE they were black ghosts! So, in my warped little head, I can just hear some wannabe ghost hunter see her from the back and insisting she had to be an evil identity because of the blackness.
I am definitely warped this morning... Too little sleep I guess.
valkricry (39 stories) (2748 posts) mod
 
4 months ago (2017-08-01)
AugustaM, hey, thanks for the links! My first thought too was Sister's of Mercy. But, as you pointed out, a bit too new.
I'm looking not at the church on the corner (they're 1909) but a few blocks West and over- 1864. Better time frame. I was reading up on the church history and found mention of the Sisters of Providence!
Manafon1 (5 stories) (492 posts)
 
4 months ago (2017-08-01)
I found that weird too Val. You are probably right that some newspapers back issues from that far back have either been destroyed or discarded and those two articles are the only contemporaneous ones on the accident that could be found. It also has made finding any follow-up articles on the wreck next to impossible. If this nun died some time after the accident due to acid burns, it would almost certainly be in a later article.

As I wrote earlier, maybe the acid splashed train wreck was somehow attached to the ghostly nun because it had all the tragic elements that would add yet another layer of tragedy in the re-telling down the years.

She clearly was a loving and sensitive individual in life and in death. It would be interesting to know of any of the recent ghost hunters or urban explorers to the hospital have ever encountered her? That would be a real shocker in a darkened, abandoned hospital corridor!
valkricry (39 stories) (2748 posts) mod
+2
4 months ago (2017-08-01)
Tweed, thanks for making me snort my drink! πŸ˜† In my head I could see your step-mom coming face to face with Sister Augustus and saying, "It's a fox!" as she does a U turn.
Hospitals are such emotionally charged places, it seems 'natural', for want of a better term, they'd be home to the paranormal.
Well I know this much, the Government's red tape has nothing on the Diocese's red tape when it comes to finding things out. Sister Augusta may always remain a mystery.
valkricry (39 stories) (2748 posts) mod
 
4 months ago (2017-08-01)
I think you're right, Manafon. It seems only fitting that at a minimal it would say "Sister Augustus, serving X Order." But then again, I find it ironic the only articles you found on the wreck were from out of state. What's up with that? I've looked too, and either the locals did not cover it (we had a paper as far back as 1849) or due to flooding etc they've been lost.
AugustaM (2 stories) (399 posts)
+1
4 months ago (2017-08-01)
Knowing to what order she belonged would likely help the search. If you Google 'sister Augustus' you get every guy named Augustus who ever had a sister but if we could also add in the order, that may get us somewhere. If she died in such a selfless way, likely there is a record or a plaque somewhere in her honor. Maybe ask at the Catholic church down the street?

Here is a pretty bang up history of Catholics in Illinois that might give you a lead:
Http://www.diobelle.org/about/about-the-diocese/956-history-of-the-diocese

Here is a directory of all orders:
Http://www.vocations.com/womenrel.html

Piggy backing in Manafon's research, I think I have an idea of where to look, which leads me to lean towards the Sisters of Mercy but it doesn't seem as though they have much of a history in the area, they are just the institution there now. However, they may know of the history of religious orders in the area. The orders also keep records of their members and their last names. I just now happened into one such record but it wasn't for the right order. So if you can track down her order, her identity might be a Google away.
AugustaM (2 stories) (399 posts)
 
4 months ago (2017-08-01)
My mother grew up going to a Catholic school from kindergarten until the 12th grade. She remembered the nuns as very strict. Her family was never strictly religious and as an adult she didn't go to church but when she had her first child (my brother) her OBGYN had hospital rights at the Catholic hospital in town so there she went. She too had a C-section. When she came to, there was the tallest nun she had ever seen holding her tiny baby in her arms - she said it was the most comforting feeling in the world and when she had to leave the room for tests etc she felt so at peace knowing that her baby was watched over by such a calm kind presence. She would return to the same hospital ten years later to have me:) My father moved his practice there (later they would give him the boot because he simply is not a good or kind person) and I grew up visiting the office and interacting with the nuns - I will always remember their kind serene faces and the absolutely sinfully delicious cookies they baked! They always had a word of kindness and comfort for everyone they met and the patients always looked so happy to see them.

The sum total of my lifetime experiences with organized religion have left me wary of it to say the least but from the experience my mother described, every hospital should have a cohort of nuns in it!

That hospital is lucky to be inhabited by Sister Augustus' kind spirit. I would guess she stays around because she feels it is her calling to do so. What a lovely spirit indeed!
❀
Tweed (22 stories) (2036 posts)
 
4 months ago (2017-08-01)
Val, cool encounter. There's really something about hospitals that attract former staff, or in your case a nun, to return and help out. It's also amazing because these locations always seem to attract the most vivid/solid apparitions which fool those who encounter them. My Stepmother, you know, the nihilist, works at a hospital. Makes me wonder what she may have encountered.πŸ˜‰
As for finding out the identity of the nun, maybe try an historical society in your town. Suppose nuns would be hard to track, but you never know.
Manafon1 (5 stories) (492 posts)
+1
4 months ago (2017-08-01)
Hi again Val--I do know that the nuns names are changed but I was assuming that she would have been referred to as Sister Augustus along with her birth name and whatever order she was associated with in any newspaper article.

I wonder of Sister Augustus didn't die of the injures sustained by the sulphuric acid but was so attached to helping people in need in that hospital that she stuck around for the same reason she was there in life. Either way, you had two rare and fascinating encounters with a ghostly nun.

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