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Roff House

On October 19, 2019, Lesley, Madi, Caroline (first ghost hunt!), and Paul investigated the Roff house in Watseka, IL. The Roff House was built between 1865-1868 and is known for its involvement with the Watseka Wonder. The Watseka Wonder is potentially described as the possession of Lurancy Vennum by the spirit of Mary Roff. Mary Roff had a very tough life and at six months of age began to have fits that continued every two months. She was born October 8, 1846 and died July 5, 1865. In the summer of 1864 Mary begins bleeding herself for relief of “of the lump of pain in my head.” Doctors apply leaches as treatments, and she begins applying to herself at her temples and treats them as pets. During a very despondent mood on July 16, 1864, Mary secretly takes a knife with her to the back yard and cut her arm terribly, until bleeding excessively, she fainted. Unconscious until 2pm, she then becomes a raving maniac of the most violent kind, in which condition she remains for five days and nights, requiring almost constantly the services of five of the most able-bodied men to hold her on the bed, although her weight was only about 100 pounds, and she had lost nearly all her blood. Between July 21-25, 1864, Mary enters a clairvoyant state. As she comes out of the violent episode, she seems to know no one. She has no sense of sight, feeling or hearing in a natural way. She can read while heavily blindfolded and do everything as readily as when in health by her natural sight. While blindfolded, she takes an encyclopedia and scans through the index until resting her finger on the entry for “blood.” She then turns to the page indicated and reads the subject out loud. On July 5, 1865, while her parents are in Peoria, Mary enters into a violent fit and dies.


On July 11, 1864 Lurancy Vennum enters the story when she is a teen. The onset of Lurancy’s strange illness begins in July 1877 around her eighteenth birthday. She begins to have strange experiences while sleeping. On July 11, 1877 Lurancy faints, goes into a fit, falling heavily to the floor. She continues having more vivid and violent episodes from November 1877 to January 1878 until Dr. E.W. Stevens, a spiritualist doctor, intervenes and on January 31, 1878 at around 4pm Mr. Roff and Dr. Stevens formally visit the Vennum house. She comes into communication with several spirits until 5:30pm when Lurancy collapses and goes stiff and rigid when the visitors rise to depart. She finally claims that there is an angel that wants to come and that her name is Mary Roff. The spirit of Mary Roff enters her body and enthusiastically greets her father and on February 11, 1878 Lurancy officially moves into the Roff house. During her stay at the Roff house, Lurancy showed exceptional knowledge of Mary Roff’s life and exhibits unexplained behavior: She knows the names and life histories of friends and neighbors from the period of 1852-1865. She recalls hundreds of incidents that transpired during her natural life. She predicts the illness of her brother Frank Roff, who the next day takes sick from a congestive chill. Suddenly and without warning on May 19, 1878, Lurancy’s spirit enters her own body while she is at the Roff Home, and she is shocked and scared because she does not know where she is. The following day, Mary Roff says goodbye to her family through Lurancy one last time and finally on May 21, 1878 at 11am Lurancy enters her body and the Roff’s escort her back to the Vennum family home where she reinitiates her life. She never had any more strange fits, married a couple of years later, eventually moved to California, had eleven children and lived to the ripe old age of 90.


The house changed hands many times after the Roffs sold it on May 27, 1879 until James Whiteman purchased it on March 30, 2005.


The house has a fantastic history, unfortunately, the house was quiet during our visit. We did not obtain any evidence of the paranormal. What we did get was fantastic food made by the owners. We would visit just for the meals.

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