Rockford’s Own: Kathi Kresol (Author & Paranormal Investigator)

Kathi Kresol

Kathi Kresol

What part of Rockford do you hail from?
I am not originally from Rockford. My family moved quite a bit when I was younger (my father was in the Navy.) We lived here for a couple of years when I was about 6 until 8 years old.  My parents divorced and I moved with my mother.  I returned to Rockford when I was 18 and it has been my home ever since.

What is your fondest memory about growing up here?
We would play with the other children in the neighborhood park. It was during the end of the 1960’s and the parks back then had wonderful programs for the kids. There were adults to supervise and we played games and made crafts.

You’re very involved in the paranormal community – tell us about what first drew you to it.

I actually experienced several incidents in the first house my ex-husband and I bought on the West Side of Rockford. This was the late 1980’s and there were no investigation teams here and not much on the television except “Unsolved Mysteries” (I loved that show!)  After a while the incidents increased and I couldn’t play it on my kids anymore.  (We had our children close together and when we bought the house we had four kids – our oldest was 5 years old.)I spoke to the neighbors who had been in the neighborhood the longest and they told me someone was killed in our house.  I went to the Rockford Public Library (shameless plug!) and went through the old newspaper reels.  I found my house on the front page of the January 17, 1958 newspaper.  There had been a murder suicide in my house.I became obsessed with finding out all I could about the house and the lady who was killed, Geraldine Bourbon.  Then I became interested in the crime and haunted houses in Rockford.

What’s the most eerie thing that you’ve personally experienced, thus far?

When I go into a place I know is haunted, I prepare myself.  It’s comparable to playing a sport, before you go fishing, you gather your equipment.  Entering a haunted place is like that for me so I am usually prepared for whatever may come. But I had something happen at my “day job” that I was completely unprepared for.I was having a performance at the Main branch of the library on a Saturday morning.  I was one of the first people in the building and was checking to make sure my room had been set up properly for the event.  I unlocked the door and stepped into the dark room (the light switch for this particular room is found in the corner about 5 feet away from the door in a metal box.)  I usually walk along the wall feeling with my hand until I reach the box.  This time just as my fingers touched the metal door, the piano that sat in the corner started to play.

So, here I was, all by myself in the complete dark with something playing a piano. I have to say, it was not my finest moment.  I was upstairs before I even realized my legs were moving.  One of my co-workers was coming into the area and asked me if I was alright.  I explained what happened.  She looked at me strangely and said, “Wait.  Aren’t you supposed to be some kind of a ghost hunter?”

Many of us already know you from the tours you offer in different locales around the city. For those of us who don’t, explain what it is that you do.

I offer several types of paranormal events.  The tours consist of exploring a building or location.  I research the history of the family that lived there or in the case of a Cemetery Tour, the person that was buried there.  I work with two psychics who join us for this type of event. They may get psychic impressions from any spirit that may be around and they share those impressions with the group.I also organize Paranormal Investigations of different locations in the area.  I again, research the area or building so that I know the history of the location.  I work with several different paranormal investigation teams.  They set up equipment to use during an actual investigation.  Then, depending on the team, we turn the lights out and conduct the investigation, rotating through different areas where incidents have been reported.  At the end of the event, we all share different things we experienced at each “station” during the different sessions.I also organize different types of tours, like the Haunted Pub Bus tour that we run in the fall.  We take a bus to three or four different taverns.  This is a drinking tour so anything can happen!

Steve Litteral from Tinker Swiss Cottage and I co-host the annual Illinois Paranormal Conference.  We invited different speakers from all aspects of the paranormal and also have vendors that people can visit.  The vendors include authors, film makers, investigation teams, and owners of paranormal locations.  We have also had psychics and spiritual healers for the attendees to visit.  This year this event will be Saturday,  August 15.  We are hosting a very special post event – Beyond the Veil: an Extraordinary night of Psychics, Spirits, and Stories.  Our special guest, Dale Kaczmarek, author and Ghost hunter will be along to share some actual evidence he has collected in his 30 plus years of paranormal investigations.

You’ve written a great many stories about the paranormal as well. Could you tell us more about those?

I love to research and have always been fascinated with stories of real people.  So, it was only natural that as I researched and found interesting true stories that it would lead to the desire to share what I find.  At first, I didn’t know if anyone would be interested in learning about the history and hauntings of Rockford.  But I have been doing these tours for over ten years now, so I guess people still are!

I have to ask, for those of us looking for a fresh perspective on the top two shows in the genre: Ghost Hunters, or Ghost Adventures?
Oh, always the tough questions!  Alright. Here goes. I think both shows offer much for the “entertainment” aspect of the paranormal.

Would you care to elaborate?

It does not get much more entertaining than watching Zack expand his biceps (just kidding!). I really meant to say it is very entertaining to watch Zack spin the tale until even Casper the friendly ghost seem like a Demon straight from Hades. I also love Aaron’s facial expressions!Ghost Hunters has a little of the fun side with Steve and Tango and then Jason is all business, (though seriously, he could use better or at least different lines!) The places  are interesting.These shows are good to watch for a line on places that you might go to explore for your own experience but as one who has been on actual investigations, they are not at all “real”.

What is your favorite paranormal television show? Book?

I am really more interested in the shows that give the history of the haunting and the location.  My favorite was “Haunted History.” I also like the shows that involve psychics.  I have already experienced enough that I know that something does exist beyond when we pass away.  So “Ghost hunting” turned into “Ghost investigation” for me a few years ago.I like the real teams that go into people’s homes to help discover what might taking place there.  Psychics can give insight to what the spirit who lingers might want and might even be able to help the spirit who might be trapped in a location to move on.

As far as books, my favorite book would be too tough to pick. One of my favorite  ghost stories? Turn of the Screw by Henry James or The Shining. Both scared me to death when I was little.  I was a good reader growing up and I probably read them when I was too young.  My brother, Tom, loved Stephen King and he gave it to me to read when it was published, in 1977.  I was 13.  I couldn’t sleep for quite a while.  And I don’t even want to tell how long I went without stepping into a SHOWER!

What’s one thing that people are surprised to learn about you?

My life is an open book so I don’t think people are too surprised by anything. They might be surprised to learn that I work in a library. I am LOUD! so that may surprise people, that I make money shushing people!  I think they might be surprised that I work with children (or maybe they would just be frightened!)  I think most people assume that I work in the local history room.  But my true passion is telling children about the wonders they can find in reading.

What do you feel would be a positive way for Rockford to reinvent itself as both a city that caters to residents, as well as tourists?
Another tough question!  I think that one thing that would help is for people to take more advantage of the good things offered.  I’ve seen a lot of events where the attendance has been great.  For instance the free movies downtown, city market, the reasonably priced concerts at several locations, and Stroll on State.  These are all great and it frustrates me when people complain about something that they either didn’t attend or don’t offer to help with.  I say that if there is something you don’t like about an event, sign up the next time to either help plan it or work it instead of just complaining about it.I have planned and executed huge programs for the library and I understand that somethings could have gone better. So I welcome any input and invite people to come assist me!

If you could bring back one Rockford area store, building, or business, what would it be and why?
Prince Castle on Broadway because I lived in the neighborhood when I was a kid. Bookmobiles because I would love to get more books in kids hands.  Dollar movies so that I can afford to go to a movie and get popcorn!

With all of the negative press that Rockford has received of late, how do you feel about the city that you call home?
I may not have been born here (I was born in Honolulu Hawaii by the way!) but I consider this my home town.  I am still proud of Rockford.  No city is perfect but Rockford has many positive things.  We have beautiful parks (and cemeteries), great museums, and a great location right on a riverfront.  We have a rich history of people who started with nothing and could have lived anywhere in the United States.  But they chose here.  They brought their families and worked hard to build this place into their home.  I can tell you that Rockford has had more than its share of bad times.  But the one prevailing thing that we have also had is a great, caring people.  When disasters hit, such as the recent tornado in Fairdale, Rockford has never hesitated to jump in and help our neighbors.  That is what gives me hope for the future of this city.  The teachers, churches, citizen groups, and your everyday average hero that may live next door, a block away or all the way across town, they give me hope.

Is there anything forthcoming that you’d care to share with our readers?
I would just like to thank all of the people who have supported me with this venture. I cannot even begin to explain how much it means that people have joined us me for all these years at an event, a conference, read Secret Rockford, read my Voices from the Grave column in the Rock River Times, or shared their personal stories with me.  I also need to thank all of the locations managers or owners who took a chance and did not hang up on me when I called to ask if I could bring a GHOST TOUR to their place.
I also want everyone to know that I finally listened to your advice and have submitted my own book to a publisher.  So keep checking the website at for more infomation!

P.S. – Thanks, WordPress for the insane gapping problems. After twenty minutes of monkeying with it, I threw in the towel. Perhaps I should have sacrificed a chicken…

Heath D. Alberts – Co-Founder & Marketing Director

Digital Ninjas Media, Inc. (

Author of: ‘Terminal Beginning (2010) | ‘Guerrilla Business (2012) | ‘The Battery Man (2013) | ‘Last Rights‘ (2013) |    “Deeper” (2014) | ‘Photographic Memory (2014) | ‘Guerrilla Business 2.0‘ (2015) | ‘Not On The List (2015)

Co-author of: ‘Dave’s Not Here‘ (2015)

Contributor To: ‘Secret Rockford (2014) | The Rockford Blog

Follow me on: LinkedIn | Riffle | Shelfari | Goodreads | Facebook | Pinterest | Ello | LibraryThing |

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn


Categories: Rockford's Own

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: