Wednesday, June 17, 2009

More on Holmes' "Sobieski Street Castle."

Another article has been discovered about H.H. Holmes' North Side Glass Bending Factory, the location of which is a regular tour stop (and one of the two or three most actively haunted locations we know of in the city right now). The basic story on the place is that Holmes had buildings all over the city in addition to the famous Murder Castle, including an office in the Loop, a candy shop on Milwaukee Avenue,  an apartment on Wrightwood, a house in the suburbs, and a house and glass bending factory - thought by police to be used more for body disposal than glass bending - on the North Side, about mid-way between the apartment on Wrightwood and the candy store.

We suspect that two of his known victims, Emily Van Tassel and Minnie Williams, were killed and/or disposed of there based on its location in proximity to their residences. Their bodies were never found. It's unlikely that Holmes would have set up a whole factory just to get rid of two bodies, though.

Shortly after the fire at the murder castle, which didn't actually level the building (as most books say) but did destroy a lot of evidence, Patrick Quinlan (Holmes' "Janitor," who may have started the fire) carted several cartloads of garbage out of the "factory."  The cops found it about a week later, mostly empty, but with a wall of kilns that may have contained human ashes (forensic science was a couple of years off - this was an age when a bloody rag could be discovered in the basement of the castle and people could actually argue over whether it was blood or paint) (the first use of bone fragments as evidence would actually be a few years later - with a bit of jaw bone found in the Luetgert Sausage Factory, which, in the days of Holmes' factory, was thriving just a few blocks away).

The new information:

- In addition to delivery slips with Quinlan's signature, there were also several forms found scattered about the place and the vicinity from the ABC Copier Company, the business Holmes had run in the Loop. Some papers were identified as having belong to Minnie Williams. According to the detective who discovered the place, Minnie Williams actually lived there for a while at an apartment in the back.

- Most of the neighbors spoke only Polish, and couldn't tell many detailed stories to the police (beyond identifying Holmes as the owner based on photographs), but told stories of a cart that would often arrive to load in a few bundles. It would leave with the exact same bundles. No one seemed to think the place had ever actually been used for glass bending.

- Diagrams found on the scene indicate that there had recently been a furnace present large enough to accommodate a body - this is presumably one of the things Quinlan removed.

Strangely enough, the site of the factory seems MORE haunted than the location of the famous Murder Castle itself, which was certainly said to be haunted while it stood, but has apparently been fairly quiet, other than the poltergeist-type stuff we hear about EVERY building, since the post office was built on the site in 1938. We've heard moans and crying sounds around there. Lots of weird "energy" stuff goes on sometimes. We've even had one actual, full-body apparition seen there. It's not the kind of thing that would (or should) hold up in court, but the hauntings there may be the only evidence the of the murders that was left behind....


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3 comments:

itsjodes said...

I can't find "the factory" Can you help?

Adam Selzer said...

Well, it's long gone now. It occupied part of the same footprint of the tool and dye sho across from the garage that runs alongside the railroad tracks.

The Bieschke Blog said...

Where did you get your information on H. H. Holmes? I am doing a History Fair Report on him and I have only found a book and a documentary him. It seems that you have found a lot about him. Please contact me here is my email, Bieschke.Tyler@gmail.com please tell me.

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