Established in 1897, Peoria State Hospital in Bartonville, Illinois was a huge state-run mental asylum spanning 47 buildings, which at one point housed nearly three thousand patients. In its peak years, it had a reputation for revolutionary new treatments and training programs, and was known for creating a more sympathetic public image of the mentally ill.
Photo: Willjay/Wikimedia Commons
Long before the hospital finally closed its doors in 1972, there were already rumors circulating among the staff of “Old Book,” a beloved patient who had once worked with the hospital's burial crew, and whose ghost is believed to wander the grounds to this day. Even Dr. George Zeller, the hospital's first and most famous director, claimed to have seen Old Book weeping at his own funeral, near a tree on the hospital's cemetery grounds (later known as the “Graveyard Elm” or the “Crying Tree”).
Many witnesses corroborated the sighting, and the man's grave was even inspected to confirm that he was in it (he was). The doctor wrote about the sighting – as well as several other spectral encounters – in his book Befriending The Bereft.
Photo: Ghosts and Ghouls
There have been hundreds of accounts from people who claim to have seen and heard Old Book, as well as other unexplained figures and phenomena in and around the Peoria State grounds... including the human-like figure captured in the photo above, and in this video from Ghost Hunters, shot in the same graveyard believed to be Old Book's favorite haunt:
In related news, another reportedly haunted former asylum will soon be reopening its doors as a four-star hotel... want to spend the night?