USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘orphanage’
general
Legends
Narrative

Demon Baby of Hull House

Storyteller:

“Do you know about the demon baby of Hull House? Hull House was a settlement home developed by Jane Adams, the godmother of social work. And in 1902 a baby was born outside of Chicago, outside of wedlock, where it was born with horns and a tail, and cloven feet. Unable to keep the baby, they brought it to Hull House where it could be cared for and most importantly prayed for…but nothing could fix it. They kept it away as it started to become a draw. And so they kept that baby up in the attic where it wouldn’t bother anyone or be bothered by them. And it’s said that still today, you can see that baby up in the window…”

Background Info: The storyteller lives in Chicago and it is a story that buddies of the storyteller had been telling while living in the city.

Context: I was with my family and I was telling them that I had this project coming up and told them some of the stories people had told me for it. That spurred a conversation where everyone started sharing their pieces of folklore and this was one of them.

Thoughts: I was immediately captured by the title of this story. When the storyteller asked me if I had heard of a demon baby I was intrigued. The storyteller’s performance was captivating because the storyteller used a tone of voice that many use when telling creepy stories. I read up on the story after it was told and I discovered that some people refer to the baby as a “devil baby” and there are many different versions including an Italian version and a Jewish version which can be found here:

Addams, Jane. “The Devil-Baby at Hull House.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 1 Oct. 1916, www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1916/10/the-devil-baby-at-hull-house/305428/.

 

general

Gore Orphanage

“The Gore Orphanage is a building that was initially constructed as a Mansion around the turn of the 20th century just a few miles the from our house [in Amherst, Ohio], and it’s name just comes from the fact that it’s on Gore Road. Sometime around 1905, the owners of the mansion sold the house away, and an orphanage was opened shortly after. The Orphanage then allegedly caught fire in the year 1910, and the whole building burned down with everyone inside. Today, it’s said that if you go to the location where the orphanage used to stand, you can still hear the cries of the children at night, just very faint screams somehow captured from the moment they died.”

This story comes from my dad, who’s lived all of his life in Northern Ohio. This legend is pretty popular around the area where I grew up, and I actually learned of it from my dad, who in turn learned it from his father. I’ve actually looked into the Gore Orphanage before out of curiosity, but no historical documents show that there any casualties from the fire in 1910, and they actually show that the building did burn down in 1923 with no deaths. Additionally, the sounds heard at night a likely due to the sound of traffic on the nearby I-80 turnpike. Despite this, my family and I still like the idea of the story because it’s something interesting in an area noted for not being too interesting.

Legends
Myths
Narrative

Child Spirits Still Haunt the Orphanage

Informant Bio

My informant is a USC student who hails from Detroit, Michigan. He grew up in the suburbs around Detroit and attended a private Catholic school, and has great pride in his city. He has a large family with whom he is very close.

He told me this story when I asked him about childhood in Detroit. He said that though sneaking into old buildings was not a huge part of his childhood, visiting the orphanage was something that he remembers doing more than once because he and his friends wanted to see a ghost.

The Abandoned Orphanage

Near where my informant lived in Michigan he recalls a fenced off compound of brownstone buildings that as long as he could remember had never been occupied. He never gave much thought to what it was until one day when a friend of his in school asked him if he wanted to explore it with her.

They were twelve years old when my informant’s friend (I’ll call her Marie) took him into the compound. He found out from her that it had once been an orphanage, but now it was abandoned.. They slipped under the fence at a place where it had been pulled up a bit. Marie’s sixteen year old brother led the way because he had been there before.

When they got inside, Marie’s brother began to narrate their tour of the dusty, empty hallways with stories about how the place was haunted. He said that the orphanage was still haunted by the spirits of the kids who were never adopted.

My informant couldn’t remember any stories specifically, but he does remember thinking that Marie’s brother was not telling the stories well. The stories didn’t have much of a point and it soon became clear that he was only telling them to scare his younger sister.

My informant never saw a ghost in the orphanage, though he, Marie and their friends did sneak back in on other occasions without Marie’s brother. The place large and empty – and they never found anything too interesting there. Barely any furniture or other items remained. Looking back now he’s quite relieved that they never came across anyone who had decided to squat there.

Other children also had stories that they had heard about ghosts in the place, and the ghosts were always the spirits of children. However my informant claims that none of the stories told how the children died, simply that “little Susan” or “Jim Bob” was never adopted, so they haunted the empty halls, still waiting to be taken to a good home. It seems almost as if the stories imply that the children were abandoned there with the building.

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