The Bartonville Insane Asylum

In 1902, Dr. George A. Zeller opened the Bartonville Insane Asylum as a way to help mentally ill patients who could not get proper care with their families. He decided to implement a "cottage system" where 33 different buildings were used to house patients. He also made sure that the patient housing had no bars or window restraints, which humanized the folks living inside. 

The most popular and well-known "ghost" story is from none other than Dr. Zeller himself!

A man named A. Bookbinder was admitted to the asylum. He was mute and had suffered a mental breakdown while working at a printing house. The officer who brought him in said that he was employed as "a bookbinder" and the court clerk listed that as his name. 

Old Book, as he was called, was a simple and quiet man. He was strong and healthy despite uncommunicative. The attendants at the asylum employed him to assist in the burials. He was suitable for the job and seemed to enjoy helping out.

He was so attached to the job that he would cry at the funerals of the deceased. As the patient was lowered into the ground, Old Book would remove his cap and weep loudly. He would do this at every service...

When he passed away, the asylum held a large funeral for him. Over 100 nurses and employees attended including Dr. Zeller. The four men who were in charge of handling the casket prepared to lift it up and into the ground. When they did, they nearly flung it into the air because it was so light... His casket must have been empty! 

Obviously, everyone was shocked. How was it possible for the casket to be so light? Was he inside? 

“In the midst of the commotion,” Dr. Zeller said, “a wailing voice was heard and every eye turned toward the Graveyard Elm whence it emanated. Every man and woman stood transfixed, for there, just as had always been the case, stood Old Book, weeping and moaning with an earnestness that out-rivaled anything he had ever shown before."

The men quickly removed the lid of the casket to reveal Old Book's body... Just like that, the apparition vanished. The asylum is now a popular abandoned structure where many people break in to investigate. Plenty of people have claimed to see Old Book himself in the windows...

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