Halloween; that one time of year where throngs of people dress up in daring costumes, gorge on candy, and of course tell ghost stories. For local paranormal expert Nicole Kobrowski and her husband Michael, the interest in haunted locations, ghosts, and other experiences has led to a thriving local business. The two own UnseenPress.com Inc. and Historic Indiana Ghost Walks and Tours.
“My husband and I’s interest comes from our love of the paranormal and our love of history,” she said. Kobrowski said she had her first paranormal experience at age 13. However, she said the topic was not discussed in her religious household. “My mom was very Catholic so there was only one ghost and that was the Holy one,” she said laughing. That experience at 13 however, sparked her curiosity.
The Kobrowski’s tours frequently draw sold-out crowds of other curious Hoosiers. According to the Kobrowskis, while roughly 75 percent of tour participants are white women, there are quite a few local ghost legends and locations involving African-Americans. The Recorder spoke with Kobrowski about these points of interest. Read on as she shares a glimpse into their haunted past.
Madame Walker Theatre
The legend: According to Kobrowski, there are reports from visitors of seeing “shadow people” seated in the theatre. One person, a friend of Kobrowski’s, said she attended a function at the historic building and saw one of these shadowy figures sitting down in front of the theatre. On second glance she saw two more people sitting on the stage. She claims these people were Madame Walker and another unidentified woman.
The Hannah House: The Hannah House, which was formerly used as a stop on the Underground Railroad, is a well-known tourist attraction in the city of Indianapolis.
The legend: The Hannah family, who were abolitionists, would keep runaways in the basement or attic. The story says at one time there was a fire in the basement and some of the people inside were fatally injured. Certain parts of the house carry smells such as decay and rotten peaches. One room reportedly bleeds and people have seen apparitions of former residents of the home as well as slaves who died there.
The murder of Dr. Knabe: Dr. Knabe, a German immigrant, conducted outreach programs for all communities including the Black community of Indianapolis in the early 1900s’.
The legend: The yet unsolved murder of Dr. Knabe is a story that intrigued Kobrowski so much that she has began writing a book on the doctor’s life. Knabe, who worked with the Flanner House when it was located in the heart of the Lockefield Gardens housing projects, was an early pioneer of sexual education and an expert in the field of pathology. On Oct. 24, 1911, her nearly decapitated body was found by her assistant in her Delaware Flats apartment. To this day her ghost is seen in several different places around downtown Indianapolis.
The Slippery Noodle: The downtown Indianapolis bar is the oldest running establishment of its kind in the entire state. Formerly known as the Concordia House, was also reportedly a stop on the Underground Railroad.
The legend: The bar, which is owned by the Yeagy family, was once home to a hotel, a brothel, and a spot where the infamous Brady and Dillinger gangs would conduct shooting practice (as evidenced by the bullet holes in the wall that have since been patched up). There are several accounts of various paranormal experiences happening throughout the building including appearances of a well-dressed Black man near the basement and a surly white gentleman who frequents the now defunct livery and reportedly likes to boss around the bar’s current manager, who he assumes is an employee of his.
Lynching on square in Marion, Ind.: In August of 1930, three African-American teenagers—Tom Shipp, Abe Smith and James Cameron were charged with the murder of a white man and the rape of white woman. An angry mob of thousands dragged the young men from their cells and hung them from trees in the courthouse square. The photograph of them has gone on to become one of the most iconic representations of lynching in American history.
The legend: After their brutal murder, people have reported hearing heavy breathing and seeing the men in the jail with looks of sheer terror on their faces. Other paranormal investigators claim they have successfully used special recording devices to capture voices coming from the jail cells.
Apparition: a ghost or ghostlike image of a person
Residual haunting: a playback of an event that has already occurred, apparitions involved here are not spirits, but recordings of the past event Intelligent haunting: an experience in which an apparition or ghost interacts with you.
Want to report a haunted phenomenon?
Have you, or someone you know had a paranormal encounter you’d like to have investigated? Send an email to email@example.com.