Fond du Lac
Fond du Lac
The abandoned Witherell House in Fond du Lac has a sinister reputation as a place “cursed with death,” where a man murdered his wife and daughter and then hanged himself in the barn, and motion detectors and other security measures are used to keep whatever evil lurks inside from escaping. Screams have been heard echoing from inside the house, and monstrous shadows have been seen in the windows.
Read below to learn the bizarre history of the Witherell House.
The Witherell House, as it is known today, was built in 1853 by Elihu Phillips, a former sheriff of Onondaga County, New York. He purchased the farm of James Doty, the second governor of the Wisconsin Territory who played a key role in establishing Wisconsin as a state.
Phillips was born in 1800, the seventh son in his family. At this time, people still believed in an old Medieval superstition that a seventh son was bestowed with divine healing powers. “Much to his disgust,” as a biographer noted, Phillips spent his youth breathing on the sick and infirm who made the pilgrimage to his childhood home.
While many believed he could heal, however, death seemed to follow Elihu. In his adult life, Elihu lost two wives and all three of his children.
After the death of his second wife, Phillips moved to Wisconsin to give his “invalid” daughter Ellen, his last surviving child, an environment he believed would be better for her. But Ellen died just two years later, leaving Phillips alone in the house.
Elihu’s brother Lyman built a home just down the road – where St. Mary’s Springs is today. Lyman had contracted a fever that necessitated the amputation of his arm, so he retired from the railroad business in which he had built his wealth and settled into the Wisconsin countryside near his brother. He had his house built as an exact duplicate of his brother’s. They were identical, causing historical records to often confuse them. But Lyman’s home was eventually met with disaster when it was devastated by a fire in 1876.
Elihu became a Wisconsin state senator. In 1865, he sold the property to congressman Owen A. Wells and moved into the city where he founded the Fond du Lac Savings Bank.
By the 1930s, the house had fallen into disrepair. Archie and Adelaide Witherell bought the property and fixed up. They lived there for the rest of their lives. Archie died in 1967, and Adelaide in 1981. They were the last ones to have actually lived in the house.
Dr. Kenneth Stormo, a forensic pathologist who served as a consultant on the Jeffrey Dahmer case, bought the property after the Witherell’s death. He and his children would visit “The Farm,” as they called it, and care for it. Over time, as rumors of its haunting began to draw trespassers, the house was slowly destroyed piece by piece.
Today, the house stands empty, a haunting relic from the past. Whatever secrets it holds are locked away within its weathered walls and boarded windows. For years, the house was broken into by curious teenagers who had heard the legend of the house “cursed with death” where a man supposedly murdered his family. Sometimes they brought Ouija boards to contact the spirits they believed lived in the house. Passersby have seen shadows moving in the windows and heard horrific screams.
What’s really going on inside the Witherell House?
Read more here: Unravelling the Mystery of the Witherell House
Visit Ed Gein’s grave in Plainfield Cemetery, surrounded by the empty graves of his victims.