Editor's note: The road to revealing the truth of the incredible haunting activity at the Willard Carpenter mansion in downtown Evansville has taken many turns. Rather than simply offering a legend or anecdotal evidence, we have compiled the results of a paranormal investigation, recent eyewitness accounts, images of paranormal activity and scientific research that may explain the unusual happenings at the Carpenter Home. Please check all the information as you form your own opinion. With that in mind, enjoy the spooky possibilities outlined in the following account.
For all the recent eyewitness accounts, there doesn't seem to be one common source for the reported haunting activity at the Carpenter Home in downtown Evansville.
But there are some intriguing possibilities.
The clues lie in Willard Carpenter's own life story.
Clue: At the time the Carpenter mansion was completed in 1849, its owner was at the peak of his power and influence in southwest Indiana. While the record shows that Willard Carpenter was a generous philanthropist, there's a more shadowy side to his story as well. This excerpt is from the archives of the Willard Library, giving an account of the time Willard Carpenter ran afoul of some local folks over a house that he owned:
"One tenement owned by Willard Carpenter, located near the present intersection of Indiana and Second Avenue, was torched by a mob of men who claimed their act was justified because the building was supposedly a brothel."
Fact: The recent apparition sightings were of women wearing long dresses or clothing from the 1800's.
Question: Are former residents of some of Willard Carpenter's real estate holdings choosing to spend the after life in their landlord's posh surroundings?
Clue: Willard Carpenter was an outspoken opponent of slavery. There are credible reports that he used his own home as a stop on the Underground Railroad, and that there were hidden rooms and underground tunnels used for this purpose.
Fact: While one of the recent apparition sightings was clearly of a Caucasian woman, the other is of undetermined race or ethnicity. Also, the origin of the baby crying heard by several employees could not be determined.
Question: Is the haunting activity a grim reminder of that dark time in our country's past?
Clue: Perhaps the most intriguing possibility comes from one of Willard Carpenter's many charitable projects. It was a home for unwed mothers, built right next door to his mansion, as referenced in "A History of Vanderburgh County, Indiana " by Brant and Fuller, 1889.
"In 1865 through Mr. Carpenter's donations, the Christian Home was founded. It consisted of grounds and a large new house of twelve rooms. This act of charity was for the reform of homeless girls who had gone astray. His donations in this behalf amounted to about $10,000."
Fact: In both of the recent eyewitness apparition sightings, the WNIN employees say their perception is that they saw young women. Another recent incident witnessed by a number of workers there involved clearly hearing a baby's cry, despite the fact that no infant was in the building.
Question: Are spirits of the residents and their offspring from the home for wayward girls the source of the Carpenter Home haunting activity?
We may never know the final answer to the origin of strange happenings in the Carpenter Home, but for employees and others who have come face to face with specters and apparitions there, the haunting activity is very, very real.