The Fire Starters - The Macomb Poltergeists

Poltergeists love to start fires. What is a poltergeist you ask? 

They've been around forever. In old German, poltergeist, means noisy or unruly ghost. Before the 40's very little was known about them, but today everyone associates a poltergeist with a ghost or a spirit which is wrong. It is not a disembodied spirit of someones past life. One strange characteristic of a poltergeist is it acts very childish, spoiled like a brat, mostly girls in fact, 1 out of every 9 cases of poltergeist activity is a young girl. Sometimes with a temper, a mean one, directed to a person, not a place as in a haunting.

Activity around a poltergeist usually involves the throwing of dishes, cupboard doors opening and closing, knives being tossed around the room, footsteps, doors slamming shut, etc. You've seen the movies but probably never heard this story, I heard it years ago, let me see if I remember it right...

The Willey Farm Fires

There was this farm in Macomb, Illinois owned by a farmer named Charles Willey. Him and his wife and his brother-in-law, Arthur McNeil with his two children worked and lived on it. 

One day in August of 1948, brown scorched spots started to appear on the inside walls of the farm house. They felt warm to the touch. Later that day, they ignited, starting the wall paper on fire in several spots. They all scrambled to pump water out of the well to put it out. As soon as they put one hot spot out another would ignite somewhere else in the house. The local neighbours gathered to aid in extinguishing the fires. After a week of spot fires, the fire department ordered Mr. Willey to remove all the wallpaper, because it was the cause he said. So Willey did, but the scorch marks started appearing on the bare wood walls. There were dozens of witnesses that just stood there and watched as a brown spot appeared then would suddenly ignite in flame. Not only the walls, the occasional curtain would ignite, a pillow on a bed. That week, there were roughly 200 fires, that's almost 29 a day. The house eventually burnt itself to the ground, as the family moved out to the garage. Then the barn was hit, it quickly burnt to the ground, eventually the garage they were in started burning and burnt to the ground.

The Air Force became involved, apparently they had airplanes when flown over the area suddenly burst into flames and when they heard the story came immediately to test for high frequencies and short waves. You could see their concern, to be able to ignite things. You wouldn't want your enemies to have any knowledge of it, first. All explanations disproved it of course, so they turned their investigation to arson. Arthur McNeil's daughter was taken away and questioned, she was returned hours later after confessing to starting the fires. The case was closed by the Air Force, citing the little girl had mental problems. 

But, there were many witnesses and it was heavily reported. Fires were started in the middle of the ceiling, much too high for a child to reach. She was never spotted near a fire that was started or had any matches on her.

Was it a government cover-up? Why did the Air Force close the case?  Was Arthur's daughter forced to confess? No one will ever know, that was 65 years ago.

Dog Brindle

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