Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
By Sydney Edwards and Serah Welborn
Pemeberton Hall, an all girls hall at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, IL, has been supposedly haunted since the 1900’s.
Many young female students have stayed in the all girls hall over the years, and still experience the “ghost” of Mary Hawkins to this day.
In December of 1916, the “ghost” began living in Pemberton Hall after the murder of a young piano player.
“[The victim] wandered up to the music room of the fourth floor to play the piano late one winter break night,” as told by the Daily Eastern News from October 29, 1993. “Supposedly, a janitor followed a girl upstairs and, in a sudden psychotic fury, he butchered her with an axe.”
After the attack, the dying piano player dragged herself up the stairs then, to every door by scratching. When the help that arrived was a young counsiler named Mary Hawkins. But when she arrived it was too late.
“For many years, students have spoken of the odd happenings in the building and events that would convince even the most skeptical of residents that perhaps the hall was truly haunted,” Troy Taylor, author of The Ghost of Mary Hawkins said.
Many EIU Alumni, such as Angi Black, said they have also heard of the haunting when they attended EIU.
“I didn’t [believe] at first but lots of people told stories that made me wonder if it was true. But then I heard how people would sit something down and come back and notice it was missing or in a different spot,” Black said.
EIU Alumn, Valerie Lynch said the EIU students weren’t the only ones that talked about the ghostly mystery.
“I wouldn’t say a lot. But I did hear the stories. Even teachers talked about it,” Lynch said.
Even though the stories are still told, there is a confusion of who Mary Hawkins truly is. Many think Mary is the girl who was murdered but she actually was a worker at the University that found her.
“Mary Hawkins though, who was head of Pemberton Hall, Hawkins died in the Kankakee State Mental Hospital.. She had been a patient for nearly a month and was found dead during the patient-check,” as told by the Daily Eastern News from October 30, 1998.
The hall is reserved for students who are serious about their studies. It remains one of the most prestigious housing areas within the EIU campus.