More About the Greten Family Poltergeist

A while back I posted about a 1949 poltergeist case that took place in the Lively Grove, IL home of Mr. and Mrs. Tony Greten and their ten children. The events centered around 11 year old Jerome and only took place after he went to bed. My first post is here.

It’s not the strongest case in the world, but it got my attention because it took place around the time as other cases I was researching (like the more famous case which led to the book, The Exorcist). What was going on in America in 1949??

Two more articles about the disturbances turned up. A June 26, 1949 Chicago Daily Tribune piece said that Rev. Edward Dahmus (a local priest who was investigating) confirmed that he had observed several manifestations of the spirit, which Mrs. Greten insisted was not to be referred to as a spook or a ghost. However, his Bishop Albert R. Zuroweste, would not allow him to discuss it.

In my original post I talked about how the family would ask the spirit questions and then leave paper and pencils and crayons out for the answers. “What do you want,” they’d ask. “Why are you here?” The spirit threw a pencil on one occasion and moved a bottle of ink across the floor in other. In the Chicago piece, when the family followed Father Dahmus’ suggestion to use an indelible pencil the spirit wrote out “Mass.” On another night it wrote “1,000” with a green crayon. There was never any explanation for the cryptic message. And when Dahmus wrote, “Are you a good or an evil spirit,” once again, a pencil was flung in response.

The Los Angeles Times wrote a more light-hearted piece a couple of weeks later titled, Angelic Spirit Forces Farmer to Keep Shoes On. Dahmus was talking a little more openly now. Describing events that took place on May 28, a little after 8pm, “Dahmus said the ‘dreadful’ pounding about the floors and walls was so loud and continuous that the family became alarmed … The noises stopped when they began reciting the Rosary but resumed when they finished.”

“Greten got tired of kneeling and sat on the bed. He took off one shoe and again there was a terrific pounding. He put the shoe back on and the noises stopped. He decided to keep it on.”

Two days later, with Dahmus present, Jerome said to the spirit, “a priest is here who would like to help you: what can he do?” The spirit wrote only, “help.” The priest wrote out, “Did God send you here?” The note came back with a green line drawn through what Dahmus had written. “Do you love Mary, the mother of God.” “Yes.” “Write Ave Maria.” But only the word “Ave” came back. “Write Maria, too.” The spirit did not comply.

Different papers wrote different versions of this story. For instance, in one version, the answer to “Did God send you here?” was “No.” And the next question was “Do you want the priest to pray for you,” to which the spirit answered, “No.” The farm is described as ramshackle in one article and prosperous in the next.

The first time I posted about this case I was pointed to the story of the Lively Massacre. Aside from the location, there is nothing connecting these two events, but I do enjoy when one good story leads to another. Actually, “good” is entirely the wrong word to use to describe this story. I wonder what prompted the Indians to kill this family in 1813? I’m guessing this is a sad story in more ways than one.

The picture of St. Libory (the church of Father Dahmus) came from The picture of Bishop Albert R. Zuroweste came from, and the picture of the Lively family grave came from the website I linked to in the previous paragraph.

4 thoughts on “More About the Greten Family Poltergeist

  1. Lively family were my great great grandparents. 1 child survived, a peace agreement was signed when IL was just territory between the pilgrims and Indians. Indians were not happy whites were living on their land. John Lively was very brave trying to protect his family. 200 Indians on horses against 6 people. The murders were brutal in raping, beating and scalping them. And put a huge hole through the chest of a child running away from them.

  2. Horrible! But of course the brutalities against the Indians were terrible too. I read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee almost 50 years ago and it still makes me cry.

    I am so sorry about your ancestors though. What a terrible story. How did you learn about what happened?

  3. Stacy, can you please send me an email? I have a few questions as this is my family. I’d like to keep it private.

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