Fox Valley Spirit Hunters was privileged to visit the 2nd Hand Shop, 421 E. Main St. in Stoughton, Wisconsin for a ghost investigation on Sept. 29, 2007.


This three story commercial structure was built in the late 19th century as a 27 room hotel and also been a grocery store, a pizza joint and reputed to have once housed a brothel and a speakeasy. The store specializes in the sale of used furniture, household goods, toys, books and collectibles. Since the building is built into a slope, the main floor is actually the second floor while the first floor is used for some merchandise display, utilities and storage. The third floor, which at one time contained 27 hotel rooms, is now a large open space and has no electricity. It is used strictly for storage.

Currently there is major construction going on behind the building as a new firehouse is being built. Several old houses were torn down to make room for this project. Also, the building is located along the main artery running through town, US Hwy 51. This highway extends from northern Wisconsin all the way down to Texas. Just down the street about two blocks runs the Yahara River which, through larger tributaries, ultimately feeds into the Gulf of Mexico. This is worth noting as some experts believe that energy forms can use moving water as a conduit of sorts.

The building's history has some interesting features. One of them concerns a former sheriff and chief of police, Saxe Hoverson, who jumped from a third story window and died a few days later at the community hospital. At the time, this was considered a suicide attempt, but the nature of the gentleman's injuries (two broken ankles, broken ribs, skull fracture) indicates that he may not have jumped voluntarily. Given the building's lore as a speakeasy, it is not hard to imagine some bootlegging gangsters beating him up, cracking the base of his skull with a heavy object and then giving the law officer a push out the window. There is no research to substantiate this scenario, but since Wisconsin served as an outlet and haven for Chicago-area gangsters such as "Terrible" Touhy and Al Capone during the bootlegging days of Prohibition, this is not as unlikely as it may seem. Stoughton is about one hundred miles north of Chicago. It is also interesting to note that while there are several society page references in online newspaper sources to "Mr. and Mrs. Saxe Hoverson", there are no further references to them after 1924. According to local sources, Mr. Hoverson died in 1925. It is presumed that Mr. Hoverson Sr. (and not Jr.) was the victim.

The building's ghost-lore includes the spirit of Mr. Hoverson, a little girl ghost reported by a medium doing a walkthrough on another occasion. A medium visiting on another occasion referred to a murder taking place in the building and a body being buried under the floor in the "Holiday Room" on the first floor. A spirit is said to hide in a small closet under a stairwell. There are also reports of a misogynistic male ghost in a back room on the first floor and a ghostly woman folding laundry in that same area, suggesting that a hotel laundry may have existed on that floor. Customers have reported seeing merchandise such as coffee cups lifting up off the shelves and settling down on the floor in front of them. The owners Vicky and Phil have heard rattling noises, found merchandise moved into the middle of the floor upon opening in the morning and Vicky is hesitant to be in the store alone at night. The building has been investigated several times by different groups and individuals since they bought it a few years ago.


Our investigators were Katie, Keith, Mary and Ann. The investigation tools included thermal scanners, digital cameras, digital camcorders, EMF readers and as an experiment, dowsing rods.

The investigators formed two teams which also incorporated our hostess, her son and some friends. It made a good balance with investigators combined with individuals who knew the building and its history well. The teams rotated to different floors every hour or so, keeping in touch by walkie talkie.

The investigators had some interesting experiences. To begin with, as the team was making a walkthrough, a sound was heard in the back hallway on the second floor. It appeared to be a small tool in a box on the floor had moved slightly, making the sound, but no one had touched it. This could be attributed to vibrations in the floor as investigators came into the hallway but when Katie visited the area earlier to use the restroom located there, no sound was heard. It seems logical that if the tool was placed so that a vibration would cause it to shift, it would have done so then. However it certainly put us in the mood for more.

Vicky's son Nick also had an experience in the first floor as he was turning out lights. A ladder seemed to move on its own and threatened to fall on him. Again, this could be attributed to other things, but it is interesting to note this event compared to the tool sound heard in the back hallway on the second floor.

Later that evening, the team consisting of Katie, Ann, Nick and Katelyn spent their first session on the first floor. Ann set her camcorder up to monitor the book room for the entire session.

Sitting at the dining room table in the furniture room, both Katelyn and Ann saw odd colored lights flashing here and there. We couldn't trace a source for them but there are a lot of reflective surfaces down there so we can't discount that a stray light source somewhere was causing the lights.

After an EVP session there, the team moved into a back storage room to conduct an EVP session. While we were there, Ann experimented with the dowsing rods and we asked questions of whoever was present. Results from the dowsing rods indicated that there were two spirits present, both male. One was a 45 year old man while the other was a boy of around 12-15 years of age. Both were transient spirits from other buildings who did not travel together. It should be noted that several houses behind the building were torn down to make room for a new firehouse, currently under construction.

While conducting this experiment, Ann noticed some audible whispering which was recorded on Katie's Sony ICD-ST10 voice recorder. The whispering appears to be a voice saying something but has a number of clicks to it that make it hard to decipher.

The other team consisted of Keith, Mary, Vicky and Jennifer. They spent the first session on the 3rd floor, which was uneventful for them except for an unidentified sound and an orb photo that Vicky took.

The teams then took a break and switched floors.

Up on the 3rd floor, Katie kept her voice recorder going and over the course of the session recorded several possible EVPs. Also, upon entering the floor at the top of the stairs, at least two members of the team heard a sound and noted it aloud. The recorder caught this sound also and it appears to be a short burst of some kind of distorted music. Since activity outside can be heard on this floor, the possibility that it came from an external source cannot be discounted. But the sound is very odd and sounds nothing like any type of music that is played today.

Later on, investigators on this team spotted what could have been moving shadows and heard other odd sounds, but all these can be dismissed as it was dark outside, so the entire floor was in shadows. Also the building has the normal "old building" sounds of settling and creaking so the odd noises can be attributed to that. Nothing relating to audible odd sounds was caught on the voice recorder, although several possible EVPs were recorded. During this time Katie took a photo which showed two large orbs of very organic texture and showing mouth-like openings. These could be pollen but during subsequent examination of photos taken earlier on the 2nd floor , a very similar orb is seen near investigator Mary. Again, it is possible that there was some pollen floating around and was caught by the camera. This is the first time that this particular camera, a Nikon Coolpix L3, has caught orbs of this type.

The other team spent this time on the first floor in the furniture room. Also, a camcorder was set up to monitor the book room for this period, but nothing of note was revealed in the video. This team decided to repeat an experiment done by earlier investigation teams and read some stories aloud to what is believed to be a little girl ghost. This particular spirit was reported by the earlier visit from a medium. While seated with the rest of the team at a dining table, Keith reported feeling someone gently grabbing the back of his upper right arm during this period of time. The team used dowsing rods to ask questions and ascertain her location. The rods indicated a spot next to Keith's right shoulder. Audio recordings during this time did not reveal anything unusual.

After these sessions, the two teams met back on the first floor for an EVP and chat session which was also audio recorded but nothing of note was heard on the audio recordings.


The most likely evidence gathered took the form of audio recordings from Katie's ICD-ST10 digital voice recorder. This particular recorder has been useful on past investigations and has recorded many possible EVPs (electronic voice phenomena) on other investigations.

The first possible EVP recorded was in the back storage room on the first floor as all four FVSH investigators are taking an initial walkthrough early in the evening. At one point in this room, Katie is commenting on how full (of merchandise and stored items) the building is. A fairly clear, presumably male voice is heard at this point saying "I don't mind it". There are also softer whispered voices that are hard to decipher on this particular segment. Keith was operating a Sony digital camcorder at that time and while he recorded what was being said by the investigators at the time, he didn't record this voice. This suggests strongly that it was not from an exterior source such as a business next door or someone outside.

The same team visited the third floor later on and recorded two EVPs. One EVP is fairly clear in saying "we know you didn't flash walking in". This was some time after we talked about saying "flash" before taking a photo.


The 2nd Hand Shop in Stoughton was a fascinating building to investigate. It has wonderful history and lore associated with the city of Stoughton itself and also it's past and present owners.

At this point in time, Fox Valley Spirit Hunters concludes that based on evidence gathered on Sept. 29, 2007, the building has some unusual energies going on and is possibly home to at least one non-corporeal resident. However, without defining video evidence and/or more intensive personal experience, we cannot decisively say it is haunted until we have had further research, which we hope Vicky and Phil will allow at some future date.

The image of the ghostly woman folding laundry in a lower floor room. strongly suggests residual haunting-that is the building simply replays earlier events back that are somehow stored within the structure itself. However, the interactive-ness of the two clearest EVPs recorded suggests that there is at least one conscious presence in the building that can hear and respond to living persons.

Based on past investigative experience, it is very possible that it is not just that particular building that is haunted but could possibly be in the nature of the surrounding, equally aged or even older neighborhood buildings as well. If ghosts do exist, it is possible that they may not restrict themselves to one particular building or structure but in fact may move from place to place and then back again.

Since radical changes or construction are thought to inspire ghostly activity, the new firehouse being built on the site of older structures may contribute to increased activity in the immediate area, which might be considered for future investigation in neighboring structures. Any ghosts or spirits who might have inhabited the removed buildings may have relocated to neighboring structures until the firehouse is complete. The vast area used for storage on the third floor of the 2nd Hand Shop might be very appealing to a ghost looking for a new home.

Also, there are stories of ghosts moving back into new construction after completion and taking up where they left off in the old building. It would be interesting to check on the firehouse a few years from now to see if any unusual activity is being reported.

Fox Valley Spirit Hunters would like to thank Vicky and Phil Elsing for letting us investigate their wonderful old building. We hope that in the future you will allow us to return and try to recreate some of our findings and do further investigating.

Written by:

Oct. 7, 2007

Hanson House 1887
Gregor Hanson family.  Gregor
Hanson built the original hotel.