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Local Editorials

Moving Maple Hill

Last week, CNN Headline News ran a short clip of a huge, allegedly haunted, pre-Civil War home being moved from Monroe, Iowa, to Prairie City — a trip of five miles. 

The behemoth structure, called Maple Hill by the locals, was the home in which I grew up. From the fourth grade, through high school graduation, and on into the Navy, Maple Hill was home. 

In fact, Maple Hill has been home to hundreds of people over it’s lifetime — perhaps thousands, at least temporarily, if you count its use as a station for the underground railroad. Four of my schoolmates, that I know of, lived at Maple Hill.

It’s quite a sight (and event), seeing the home you grew up in, up on blocks, ready to roll. It attracted sightseers and media from all over.  I was in close communication with the house mover, and intended to be there on the great day Maple Hill rolled down the road (“Make way for the Queen!”).

Because of weather, and problems with power lines, the move was delayed numerous times. I was in Monroe on the date of one scheduled move, only to have the move delayed, one more time.  Drat! 

As fate would have it, on the day Maple Hill was finally moved, I wasn’t able to be there. You might know. Oh, well, everything happens for a reason. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to be there. 

There are so many memories associated with Maple Hill and the farm. Maybe the sight of her moving down the road, with all those feelings sifting out of every crook and cranny, would have been too much to bare.

This wasn’t the first time Maple Hill made network or cable television. A few years ago, it was one of the featured haunted homes on Halloween Night. I don’t know where all these ghost stories came from. 

We were not aware of any paranormal activity when we lived there. In talking to schoolmates who lived there, they weren’t aware of any abnormal occurrences either.

I will say this, when we lived at Maple Hill, my parents turned it into a type of retirement home, and had several elderly people living there. One elderly lady, Esther, I believe was her name, died there. That may be some of the connection.

Once at a family gathering, one of my relatives was confronted by an angry old lady who told him he didn’t belong there. It’s almost like the ghosts, or spirits, choose who they want to reveal themselves to. Strange.

One of the big questions asked by everyone, including CNN, is: “Do the ghosts stay or go?” My feeling is they will go with the house.

At my home in Mt. Pleasant, I have an old vice and shoe scraper from Maple Hill. I hope the spirits don’t follow!

Maple Hill is on the national registry of historic homes and is going to be restored to its original condition. That’s nice. I’ll still be able to drive by and recapture some of the old feelings.

However, the hill the 90-ton structure is being moved to has oak trees on it instead of maples. Maybe a few maples can be planted for posterity.

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