One of the most thriving businesses in Decatur of
the late 1800's, and one that has been almost completely forgotten,
was the Danzeisen Meat Packing Co. that was located on South Main
Street, across from Greenwood Cemetery. The packing plant was an
expansion of a retail meat business that was started by G.J.
Danzeisen and Adam Blenz in 1871. After a number of profitable
years, the two men decided to enlarge the company and constructed
the brick plant next to the Illinois Central Railroad tracks, which
provided an easy access point for shipments going out and for cattle
to be off-loaded for slaughter. The brick building still stands as
part of the Christy-Foltz Company --- but no one seems to know if
its ghosts still linger behind.
During the early 1900's, the packing house became
the source of numerous rumors and legends, including that G.J.
Danzeisen kept a long string of mistresses who came to covert
meetings with him at the plant. It was whispered when he tired of
one of them, she left town and was never seen again.
|No one seemed to consider the implications of this
until another tale began making the rounds a few years
later. According to this story, two cowhands rode the
train to Decatur with a herd of beef for the Danzeisen
plant. In those days, there was a wooden walkway that
spanned the distance between the Illinois Central tracks
and a loading door on the third floor of the packing
house. This was the floor that was used for
slaughtering, while the fourth floor was used for cold
storage. The two young men followed their cattle into
the building with plans to bunk down for the night and
possibly even help themselves to a free meal from the
The Old Danzeisen Meat
As it happened, the cowhands were never heard
from again and rumors spread that, while they had completely
disappeared, they had come out of the packing house again ---- but
as freshly packed sausage!
Many years later, long after the packing house had closed down, a
construction firm called Longbons took over the building. There was
a sheet metal shop in the basement of the building and it was here
that a number of people witnessed what may be the only haunted
elevator in Decatur.
The elevator had a wooden gate on the front of it that had to be
closed by hand but this did not deter invisible occupants from using
it on nights when the elevator seemed to run by on its own. The
heavy gate would roll open and then slam shut, even though no one
had gone near it. Then the sound of clanging metal would echo
through the building as the elevator noisily rattled up to the
fourth floor. Anyone who was working in the shop that night would
hear the gates open and close again on the fourth floor and then the
elevator would come back down again. This would often continue all
night long ---- or at least as long as the living occupants of the
place could stand it. Once they had had enough, they usually put
away their tools and went home.
Even though many of the employees tried to explain the bizarre
behavior of the elevator, no one could. Some believe the spirits of
the past were still using it to wander the building at night and
restlessly repeated their actions over and over again until one day,
they faded into history, just as the Danzeisen Meat Packing Co. did.
back to Haunted Decatur!
Copyright 2006 by Troy Taylor. All Rights Reserved.