I first moved to Rockford in 1973, and I shared a house called 'Prairie House' with friends. Built in 1853, it was a family home and it still stands at 1st & Prairie Streets. It had a kitchen, bathroom and root cellar on the basement level, a living room, den and library on the 1st level with a beautiful foyer and staircase, and 3 bedrooms and a bathroom on the upper level. Above that, an attic, and above that, a widow's walk. The house already had a reputation of being haunted, But we had no specific details, and we didn't believe it anyway.
On the bedroom level, the stairway to the attic is in the hallway between 2 bedrooms with a door at the bottom of the attic stairs. My boyfriend Lars and I shared one of those rooms, and our friend Tom used the other. Tom was out very late most nights, and Lars worked from 10pm to 6am - That meant I was in the house alone (with my cat, Beany) every night. I would drive Lars to work at night, return home and go to bed.
Soon after moving in, I was alone in the house when I was awakened by the sound of heavy footsteps walking down the attic steps. Our bed was right up against the wall to the attic stairway, so this sound was very close and very clear. It sounded like someone had gotten into the house through the attic. I listened for the door at the bottom of the stairs, but there was no other sound. But there were no footsteps returning up the stairs either. Beany and I stayed in the bed, with blankets over our heads until I got the courage to get up, turn on a light and get dressed. Then Beany and I would both go to pick up Lars. Sometimes we would get there an hour early just to avoid being alone in the house. I started to sleep with my clothes on in order to bolt out of the house faster.
This happened many times, on many nights, and after each incident of the footsteps, I would find the attic door UNLOCKED, even though I made sure to lock it every night. Without anyone else to back me up, the guys treated it as a story. But even though Lars and Tom didn't believe me, neither of them would go up the stairs to have a look around the attic. We did add one more lock to the attic door, and it was always found unlocked after the footsteps were heard.
One rare evening, Tom stayed home and went to bed early. At about 4am the heavy footsteps came clunking down the attic stairs. As I pulled the blankets over my head, I remembered that Tom was in his room on the other side of that staircase. I was about to yell to him, when he yelled, "Did you hear that?" I answered, "I'll meet you in the hall." We met at the door to the attic - It was unlocked.
After a month or so in the house, things escalated to include occurrences at just about dawn most mornings when thumping, running footsteps and scratching, like claws on feet, were heard in the attic overhead. The footsteps were heavy enough that I could actually feel the vibration in the room below them. The sound went from one side of the attic to the other, and back again, and around the whole attic, faster than any creature could go. This did not sound like human or animal. I described this to Lars and he laughed at me and told me it was just "squirrels in the attic." This became a regular occurrence, several times a week.
One morning I picked up Lars, we ate breakfast and went back to bed for another hour of sleep. I was awakened by Lars clinging to me in terror, as the chaos clamored overhead. He shrieked, "What the hell IS that?" I reminded him that it was "just squirrels".
After that incident Lars and Tom and a few other people decided that they would all go together, DURING DAYLIGHT, to take a look in the attic. We found a deep layer of dust on the attic stairs and floor, indicating that NOTHING had touched that floor in a very long time. Beneath the dust could be seen a pentagram had been drawn on the floor, with melted candles at each corner. We gave our notice to move that day.
Years later, Lars and I were married with children and living in a different city. Lars's Mom sent a newspaper clipping about Prairie House. It had a sad history. The lady of the house died in the 1850's, not very long after moving in. There was a fire later that had damaged much of the house, and 2 dogs that lived there died in the fire. The fire was thought to have been started by a butler who later committed suicide.
Every word is true - I lived it.