In colleges and universities around the world, there are reports of ghosts haunting the residences and buildings. Sometimes they are benign, but sometimes they are vengeful. Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, Minnesota is one such institution which is said to be haunted by a girl names Lenore.
It was 1926 and Lenore was freshman at the college. At this time the college was a “ladies college” whose aim was to create educated young ladies for society. When she arrived at the college, Lenore proved to be a loner with rather quirky mannerisms.
This quirky behaviour quickly caught the attention of the other girls who began to torment her horribly. They would whisper about her, so that she could overhear them. They passed snide comemnts about her and often played practical jokes on her. In short, they terrorised the insecure girl.
One day Lenore was on her own as usual, walking around campus and thinking about how cruel the other girls were. Suddenly she saw a movement out the corner of her eye. It was a bedraggled looking stray cat. Feeling a kinship towards it, she decided to keep it for companionship. It was against the rules of the dorm to keep animals, so she sneaked it in, risking punishment.
No matter how hard she tried to keep the cat a secret, the other girls on her floor soon learned about it. It didn’t take them long to decide to use the cat to further torment Lenore. One day when Lenore stepped out, they creeped up to her room and forced the door open, letting the cat out. Lenore came back and saw what they had done.
Lenore searched for the cat, to the jeers of the other girls and spotted it at the bottom of a staircase. As she went to catch it, the traumatised cat took off up the staircase and into the attic. Lenore had no choice but to run after it. By now Lenore was in a rage. As she reached the top of the stairs, she looked down at the jeering girls and screamed:
“I’ll come back and deal with you later!”
She then entered the dark and dusty attic, calling out for her only friend in the world.
Unluckily, as Lenore entered the attic, she stumbled and fell, landing on an exposed electrical wire. Sparks flew and the dormitory was plunged into darkness. When the girls had plucked up enough courage, they went up to the attic to investigate. There was poor Lenore lying dead – electrocuted.
To this very day, every 18 years, Lenore returns to Anderson Hall to haunt the place where her tormentors had led her to her death. Sometimes instead of electrocution, it is said that Lenore hung herself from the rafters in the attic – notbeing able to bear the torment any longer.
Students to this day report hearing strange sounds in the attic, footsteps in the dormitory and sometimes even the plaintive crying of a cat.
So who was the real Lenore?
Well apparently she did not exist at all! In the 1960’s, a new professor, Tom Kuster, joined the staff at the college. The staff of the local student newspaper “The Scroll” asked him to write a halloween story for their fall edition. This is where the legend of Lenore was born.
Kuster took a number of commoon ghost stories and blended it to create the Lenore ghost story. In fact the name ‘Lenore’ comes from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”. He also admitted that he came up with the 18 year cycle so that the event would conincide with Halloween, 1962, the year that the story was printed.
The strange thing is that this story not only spawned a lot of sightings of a ghost, as well as the strange noises, but that it seems to have spread to other colleges and universities. Many of them have a similar story about a loner student and their untimely death.
Bethany Lutheran College: Ghostly secret at Bethany