Ghost Stories of
- A dark apparition is seen in one of the bedrooms
- Sounds of heavy breathing have been heard
- Mysterious odors are often encountered throughout the mansion
- People have reported being touched and having hair pulled in certain rooms
- Footsteps have been heard on the main stairway
- A dark apparition is seen in the basement
- Balls left in particular rooms have been rolled around by unseen forces
- EVPs and audible disembodied voices are often heard/captured
- Cold spots have been encountered throughout the house
The Haunted History of Cheney Mansion
In Jerseyville, Illinois, one house in particular does well to stand out from the crowd: Cheney Mansion. With its sprawling size, looming central tower, and expansive surrounding property, it could be called Jerseyville’s flagship home.
While it would be easy to look at Cheney Mansion and just see a mansion, the historic home has been much more than that.
Starting life as a stagecoach stop, Cheney Mansion would go on to be a bank office and doctor’s office. Today, Cheney Mansion is a museum and home to the county historical society.
But some parts of its history don’t seem to want to stay in the past. Long lost members of the Cheney family are said to still make themselves known in the home as ghosts…and they may not be the only ones.
Timeline of Cheney Mansion's History
Swipe or use timeline points to see Cheney Mansion through the years
The Cheney Mansion’s history runs all the way back to 1827. But it looked a lot different at the time. Rather than the large white home seen today, the building began as a small red building, known around town as the Red House. T
he Red House was a stagecoach stop at that time and was the first frame house built in the budding town. As a stagecoach stop and tavern, the Little Red House quickly became a community center. It was here that the town’s name, Jerseyville, was chosen in 1834.
Dr. Edward D’Arcy purchased the Red House in 1839 and turned the tavern into a private home. In need of a suitable office for his practice, Dr. D’Arcy built an addition onto the home to accommodate his doctor’s offices. As D’Arcy’s practice flourished, his family became close with the community.
And soon Edward’s eldest daughter Catherine met a man in town she wished to marry: Prentiss Dana Cheney. The two would marry in 1859, and Cheney would soon go into business with Catherine’s father.
Around 1860, Prentiss Cheney and Dr. D’Arcy went into the banking business together. Despite starting up just before the Civil War, the business succeeded. In fact, it was the only bank in the community to remain solvent throughout the war. As other banks failed, Cheney and D’Arcy’s reaped the rewards, making them rich. Cheney invested considerable money into expanding the family’s estate.
Between the 1860s through to 1900, wings were added and expanded until the former Little Red House became the Cheney Mansion seen today.
Prentiss Cheney died in 1900. Shortly after, his only surviving son, Alexander, was committed to an institution. Alexander long suffered with addiction, which only worsened after his father’s death. Despite his troubles, Alexander had a son of his own in 1912, naming the new child Prentiss Dana Cheney.
The new Prentiss would go by ‘PD’ for much of his life and faced many of the same addictions as his father. He would be the last Cheney heir to reside in the family mansion.
PD’s rough and colorful life attracted attention around Jerseyville, and not often the positive kind. In 1967, thieves robbed the old and infirm PD of over $60,000 worth of family heirlooms and rare coins. PD died just two years later in 1969, leaving Cheney Mansion to his wife, Edith. Edith remained in the home for many years after.
But, after her death in 1989, the mansion was left in limbo. It was finally sold at auction in 1998, and the buyers immediately donated it to the local historical society, and it became a history museum.
Is Cheney Mansion Haunted?
With such a long and varied history, perhaps it makes sense that Cheney Mansion is now home to numerous ghost stories. While the phantoms of Cheney Mansion seem to come from all of the property’s different eras, one of the most active entities is PD himself.
PD is frequently spotted in his old room. PD’s apparition is seen as a dark figure at the edge of his bed. Visitors to the room also report hearing PD’s heavy breathing in their ears. Additionally, a rocking chair kept in PD’s room has been seen rocking by itself. Many figure it’s still PD, just taking time to relax with a drink.
Cheney Mansion’s Most Haunted Room
PD’s ghost has also been encountered in a different bedroom on the second floor: the Drunk Room. This was the spare room that Edith Cheney would lock PD in when he became too intoxicated. Now, visitors often report being touched or grabbed by unseen hands while in this room.
The experiences can range from simple touches to having hair played with. One person even reported being grabbed by an unseen force in the Drunk Room. The force reportedly held on for several minutes before letting go. Additionally, people will report the sudden and strong smell of vomit in the Drunk Room. But other Cheney Mansion spirits spread sweeter smells through the house.
Phantom Scents of Cheney Mansion
In another second floor bedroom, the spirit of PD’s childhood nurse and nanny is said to linger. Named Miss Dorothy, she is most often identified in the room by her telltale smells. But unlike PD, the scents left by Miss Dorothy’s ghost are often quite pleasant. The scent of lilac or other flowery perfume is one of the more commonly reported phantom smells in the bedroom.
Others have reported the strong scent of talcum powder. But smells aren’t the only activity you might encounter in Miss Dorothy’s room.
She is also known to move things around the room occasionally, especially balls left out on the floor near the closet.
Cheney Mansion’s First Floor Phantoms
On the mansion’s first floor, ghosts reportedly roam the former doctor’s office and bank vault. One well-known spirit in the area is said to be either a man or a younger boy, and they’re known to be quite playful. Investigators going through the office and vault areas have often reported having their hair played with or pulled.
In this area, there have also been claims of a woman’s voice and laughter. This phenomenon is also common throughout the first floor. Around the main staircase, the sounds of phantom footsteps heading up and down the stairs are also encountered.
Are There Ghosts inCheney Mansion’s Basement?
The basement of Cheney Mansion is known for being a hotbed of mystery. One intriguing area of the basement is a tiny corridor leading to a hidden room. This was a false cistern, used to hide runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad before the Civil War. Now, many paranormal reports come from around this well-concealed hiding place.
Visitors to the basement often report seeing a dark, shadowy figure lurking in the room. Along with that, investigators have encountered strange, unexplainable environmental readings in the basement. And, as the spirits of Cheney like to do, they will play with and pull people’s hair in the basement as well. The basement’s activity is said to be most active when no men are present.
Despite having its share of paranormal hotspots, ghostly activity is common all throughout Cheney Mansion. Visitors on tours and ghost hunters alike have captured strange things. These range from anomalies in photos and videos, to potential ghostly voices on recorders. Cold spots and unexplainable breezes are also encountered by visitors throughout the house.
Visit Cheney Mansion for Yourself
Though Cheney Mansion is busy and well-utilized as a historic mansion in Jerseyville, the proprietors are quite open about their ghostly lore. And, for those wanting to experience the Cheney Mansion hauntings for themselves, private investigations are also available.
Booking your own spooky visit to Cheney Mansion is as easy as visiting their website and checking their calendar. So if you ever wanted an experience that’s equal parts haunting and historical, you might just find it at Cheney Mansion.