Footsteps From Beyond The Grave And Other Ghost Stories

By Shannon King
October 25, 2001

Katie Reing

“Where’s my baby?” You look over from where you sit at your desk in Woodcrest and there is a lady dressed all in white floating inches above the floor. She is pleading with you to tell her where her precious baby is. The woman, believe it or not, is a common face around campus according to some students and staff.

Ghosts only come around on Halloween right? Well, if you are a Cabrini College student, you know that that is totally untrue. From the first night of orientation students are told the tales of happenings of long ago in the very buildings where they live, learn and visit every day. Some people choose not to believe the legends, passing it off as only that, a legend. Others know from experience that unexplainable things are known to take place every so often right here on campus.

Before it was a college, the Paul family, a wealthy and prominent family in the area, bought the property that Cabrini now occupies and had a home built that was away from the sickness and disease that was rampant in the cities. The mansion home of this family is now the president’s office, the business office and other college offices. What is now Grace Hall was used as the stables for the family’s horses.

The Paul family had a daughter who was about the same age as the stable hand they had hired. When the children were growing up, it was acceptable for them to play together, but as they grew older, the very different social backgrounds of the pair deemed their friendship inappropriate. In their teenage years, the daughter and the stable boy soon fell in love. The daughter became pregnant and, knowing what the response would be if her father found out, hid the pregnancy for as long as possible. When the night came that she could hide it no longer, her father put on his coat and top hat and headed to the stables. The stable boy, anticipating the father’s actions, went up to the bell tower, tied a piece of rope and hanged himself. By the way, the bell tower has been sealed ever since and it is said that the piece of rope hangs from the rafters to this day.

When the daughter found out about this, she flung herself over the balcony in the mansion, broke her neck and died along with her unborn baby. Another ending to the story is that the daughter had the baby stillborn and buried it in the peach orchard where Woodcrest stands today. As legend has it, the daughter, who people refer to as Mary, still roams the estate looking for her baby. Take this story as truth or legend, but no matter what you believe there are some occurrences that still go unexplained on Cabrini’s campus.

Former professor of communications, Dr. Carter Craigie comes to give a lecture most years around this time about the bizarre happenings that have caused alarm among some of the students and faculty over the years. One story that he tells is of a dance that was held in the mansion when he first joined Cabrini. It was October and by coincidence, the dance was being held on the anniversary of the young girl’s death. When they pulled up the rug to create a dance floor, the bloodstains came right up through the hardwood floor. Have you ever wondered why there are no dances in the mansion?

Many students tell stories of odd things that have happened to them in the dorms. Many of these involve appliances turning on by themselves, objects flying across the room and lights flickering on and off. Junior Rita Horning tells of when she was a freshman living in Woodcrest and she was sleeping in her neighbor’s room one night. “It was about 5 a.m. and we were all sleeping. All of a sudden the hairdryer turned on. No one was anywhere near it and it didn’t fall or anything. It just turned on.” Some of the staff members have told stories of meetings they were having in Grace Hall when the radio just turned on without anyone being near it. They turned it off and a few minutes later it came back on. They even went as far as to unplug it from the wall and what happened? That’s right, it came back on a few minutes later.

Junior Stacy Hanby tells a story from Woodcrest as well. She was in her room about to go to sleep. There was no one around and she was lying in her bed. All of a sudden she felt a weight on her chest and she could not move or yell. “I heard whispering all around me, but no one was there,” she recalls. “I was talking to Dr. Primiano about it and he said that he has interviewed many people on campus who have had the same thing happen to them. Apparently there is a name for it, it’s called ‘Old Hag Syndrome.'”

There are all kinds of legends about the haunted Cabrini mansion and the young girl who still roams the land. There are also stories about her father. As legend has it the first snow fall of the year, you will see footprints leading from Grace Hall to the mansion that just disappear after a while. Long ago students said that they had seen a man wearing a long coat and top hat who looked lost. When they asked him if he needed help he turned around and disappeared.

If all of this ghost stuff intrigues you and you want to tempt fate on Halloween night with a Ouija Board, don’t worry, that has been done too. A group of guys were in Xavier and decided to play a little game. They took out the board, asked it a few questions and just when they thought nothing was going to happen, the phone rang. As one of the guys stood up to answer the call, he looked in the long mirror that is on the back of every door in Xavier. Right behind him was a young woman dressed all in white, floating about a foot off the ground. The young men, just out for a little fun, ran screaming from their room and vowed never to tempt fate again.

Don’t believe any of this? Think it’s all a legend that people have taken to far? Halloween is only six days away. Go ahead, take out that Ouija Board and have a little fun. I dare you.

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Shannon King

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