By Molly McCracken
According to Richard Smith, a Beloit College alumnus from the 1980s, Aldrich 1st is one of the most haunted places on campus. He claims to have seen a female ghost, which he named Matilda, twice during his stay in Aldrich. One night, he and about eight of his friends were all sleeping in room 125, which he described as “Nothing kinky, we’re just friends sleeping together.”
“In the middle of the night,” he said, “this girl tripped over me. I thought it was somebody’s girlfriend, but I didn’t recognize her and I knew everybody in the room. Well, I caught her arm to stop her from falling… and she apologized and said she had to go upstairs now.” Smith asked around and discovered that no one had seen her or knew who she was.
Later, when Smith was sleeping in his own room, Aldrich 126, he heard someone fumbling at the door. He had remembered locking the door the night before, so he thought it was his roommate. But instead the door swung open and it was the girl, Matilda, who he had seen before. When she saw he was awake, she said, “Oh, I’ve got to go upstairs,” and left. When Smith got up to follow her, the door was locked. Again, when he asked around, no one had seen her or knew who she was.
According to Nancy Cushman, another alumna from the 1980s, students contacted a deceased female Beloit College student with a Ouiji board on the second ﬂoor of Whitney. The students also heard voices and experienced loss of electricity. The girl told them to call her Rebecca, and that she was a student at Beloit College in the late 1960s, until she was murdered. She said she was killed by her lover, although she didn’t specify whether or not she was killed on the Beloit College campus.
I initially dismissed this, but when I asked Fred Burwell, the college archivist, if any Beloit students had been murdered in the 1960s, he pulled up a newspaper article from 1968. Betty Vollenweider, a 19-year-old student who had left Beloit College that summer was found dead in an alley in Chicago on November 5, 1968. Robert Long, a 35-year-old man Vollenweider had been dating, was charged for the murder. There was no indication that Cushman or any of the other students involved in the séance were aware of the murder of Betty Vollenweider, but she ﬁts the description of the ghost they were communicating with in the 1980s.
These stories come from oral histories with students, which are kept in the archives, but Matilda and Betty Vollenweider are not the only ghosts that haunt the Beloit College campus.
There’s also the ghost of Professor Theodore Lyman Wright, who suﬀered a mysterious fatal injury in Campbell Hall in 1926. One evening he went to his oﬃce to read and never returned home. In the morning, when another professor came in to have class in one of the recitation halls, she found Wright naked and the room covered in blood. Wright’s clothes were neatly folded on a chair. The stairs were covered in blood and Wright had clearly suﬀered a head injury. Wright was taken to a hospital and died ﬁve hours later. Some believe that he suﬀered from a violent seizure. Others believe it was murder.
Other Beloit College ghosts include Norman, the ghost that haunts the attic in the Human Resources building, which used to be the coed fraternity, Delta Tau Rho, and the Logan Museum’s mysterious elevator opening ghost.
Have you seen a ghost at Beloit? Do you think your room is haunted? There’s a good chance it might be.