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The East Moline Ghost

This is Roald Tweet on Rock Island.

I'd be interested in hearing from those of you who don't believe in ghosts. Just what do you think happened on that road to East Moline back in 1918?

The road along the Mississippi from Moline to East Moline hardly deserved the name. "An elongated mud hole," many called it. Houses along the road were not in much better shape, especially one of the grandest mansions ever built on a Mississippi bluff. The mansion and its fancy outbuildings stood at the end of a tree lined drive curving up from the East Moline road. Visitors turning into the private lane had once been greeted by two granite statues of servants, each with an outstretched hand in a gesture of hospitality.

By 1918, the mansion itself had been abandoned in disrepair, and only one of the servants remained, one arm missing and the other nicked by rifle bullets. It was here, that year, that two cars collided, killing a young boy. After the accident, the victim had been laid in the shade of a tree near the granite servant, where he died in a few minutes.

Only later did eyewitnesses recall how similar in size the dead boy and the statue were. That was after a nearby farmer noticed "something different" about the statue. The hair style seemed to be changing gradually. Another neighbor pointed out that the new hairstyle was identical to that of the boy killed in the accident.

Then, one of the boy's classmates pointed out that a mark on the statue's arm was identical to a scar where a dog had bitten the boy. Over the next few months, other changes in the statue were noted, as it appeared to grow more and more like the boy.

At that point, a local skeptic decided to put an end to all these fancies. She wrote to a sister in Ohio who had earlier taken a photograph of the statue and asked for the picture as proof that it had not really changed at all.

The photo arrived. The woman and several neighbors paid a visit to the statue. They put the photo up alongside the granite figure.

Not even the ravages of time could account for its changed features.

In order to save the boy from curiosity seekers, relatives eventually removed the statue of the servant who had turned into the boy. Or do you have some other explanation?

Rock Island Lines is underwritten by the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, and Augustana College, Rock Island.

Beginning 1995, historian and folklorist Dr. Roald Tweet spun his stories of the Mississippi Valley to a devoted audience on WVIK. Dr. Tweet published three books as well as numerous literary articles and recorded segments of "Rock Island Lines." His inspiration was that "kidney-shaped limestone island plunked down in the middle of the Mississippi River," a logical site for a storyteller like Dr. Tweet.