Tracking Down the Haunted Tallmann House of Horicon, Wisconsin

Tracking down the Tallmann house in Horicon, Wisconsin, which made headlines in 1988 for the story of a family tormented by a haunted bunk bed.
The haunted Tallmann house in Horicon, Wisconsin
The Tallmann house in Horicon, WI

The Haunted Tallmann House

Earlier this month I shared the story of the haunted bunk beds in Wisconsin. Well, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hunt for the notorious Tallmann house while passing through Horicon for a family wedding over the weekend.

The articles I found during my first round of research did not provide an address, only that it was on Larabee Street. Originally, the exact location had been kept secret. It wasn’t until threats of arson that the chief of police released the address in order to keep nearby homes and families safe.

But that address didn’t seem to make it into any of the original reports that are currently available, so I resorted to Google Maps. Larabee, it turns out, is a short street with few homes architecturally similar to the Tallmann house as seen in the Unsolved Mysteries segment. It didn’t take long to pinpoint a contender from satellite view.

Recent: Lost photos from the haunted Tallmann house discovered

A five minute detour from our route to the wedding had us idling suspiciously in front of the infamous house while my kids grumbled in the back about how “Dad always has to stop and take pictures of stuff.”

One end of the quiet street dead ends at a long line of rusted Amtrak passenger train cars with the words “Horicon homeless shelter” spray painted on the side. On the other end is the small, unassuming ranch home with cream-colored siding and wood paneling that was once plastered across television screens and newspapers.

It is an unlikely location for a haunting of Hollywood proportions. Nevertheless, the Horicon haunted house gained quite a bit of notoriety for a series of mysterious phenomena as menacing as anything depicted in Poltergeist or The Amityville Horror.

Hysteria in Horicon

In 1988, the Tallmann family fled their home after nine horrific months of torment by what seemed to be an evil entity connected to a bunk bed they had recently purchased second-hand. Frightening visions of a haggard old woman, fire, ghostly mists and demonic death threats pushed the family to the fringes of their sanity until, finally, they packed some bags and escaped the nightmare on the night of January 11th.

By the end of the week the town was whispering about bleeding walls, a hole to Hell in the basement, and an apparently ghost-powered snowblower that cleaned the driveway all by itself. The media quickly descended on the otherwise sleepy neighborhood, along with hordes of curious thrill seekers.

In the April 1988 edition of The Quill, Barret J. Brunsman wrote:

Ghost rumors had swept through the crowd at the Friday night basketball game at the local high school. Hundreds of cars swept down Larabee Street past the Tallman home. People walked through the yards of the other nine houses on the block, climbing over fences, peering into windows.

Drunks showed up — they weren’t afraid of no ghosts. They tried the doors and windows of the Tallmann home, intent on getting inside to prove their bravery.

When the police ordered the drunks and gawkers to stay away from the house, a few would-be ghostbusters told the cops to “go to hell.”

Arrests for disorderly conduct were made; the street was barricaded.

While it’s unclear how the community first learned of the family’s experiences, it is worth noting that the Tallmann family did not seek out media attention. They were hiding from the press. After talking to the family and becoming convinced of their sincerity, police chief Douglas Glamann was intent on protecting them, as well.

In the absence of facts, the media sensationalized the haunting and regurgitated the gossip circulating around town. Eventually, Glamann talked the Tallmanns into speaking with the press in order to dispel rumors and, hopefully, put an end to the unruly mobs on Larabee Street. He met with journalist James B. Nelson from the Milwaukee Sentinel, who was more interested in writing an article about a genuinely troubled family than exploiting a ghost story.

The family agreed to talk to him.

Tallmann House Unsolved Mysteries Episode

Horicon haunted house where the Tallmann family lived
The Tallmann house on Unsolved Mysteries, 1988

The producers of Unsolved Mysteries, then a brand new television series in it’s first season, soon caught wind of the story. It wasn’t long before a film crew rolled into town to shoot a segment on the haunted bunk bed. They hired local talent for the dramatic reenactments, and filmed on location inside the house with permission from the new owners.

The “Tallman House” episode aired on October 26th, 1988.

Notably, the segment was not included when the series was released to stream on Amazon in 2017. A Reddit AMA with series creators Terry Dunn Meurer and John Cosgrove helped shed some light on why it may have been excluded.

One fan on Reddit asked, “Can you help me understand what happens behind the scenes that would prompt you to remove individual segments?”

Meurer and Cosgrove responded:

We have a legal staff that keeps track of the cases to make sure that we do not infringe on anyone’s rights. Sometimes a statute of limitations on a case has passed. We always try to be as respectful as we can be to the people who were featured in the segments.

What happened to the bunk bed?

Nelson wrote in a February 19th, 1988 article for the Sentinel that the family had buried it in a private landfill in the Horicon area where they felt no one was likely to build a house.

The exact location remains unknown.

Now, 30 years later, there is no evidence whatsoever of the hysteria that once gripped Larabee Street. Comments on my last post expressed doubt over the Tallmanns’ story, and claim the current owners of the house have never experienced anything out of the ordinary.

This post was updated on January 3, 2018

Victorian Cast Iron Grave Monument in Alabama

Victorian cast iron grave monument in Greenville, Alabama's Magnolia Cemetery
Victorian cast iron grave monument in Greenville, Alabama’s Magnolia Cemetery.

While searching for catfish photos yesterday, I somehow stumbled upon this photo of an amazing, rusted iron grave monument on the blog Deep Fried Kudzu. This particular grave is in Magnolia Cemetery, but the post states many more iron monuments can be found in Greenville’s Pioneer Cemetery.

I’ve never stumbled upon anything like this while wondering the cemeteries here in Wisconsin, so I did some digging. A page on RootsWeb explaining types of headstones has this to say about iron monuments:

Iron grave markers and decorations were popular during the Victorian era in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, often being produced by specialist foundries or the local blacksmith. Many cast iron headstones have lasted for generations while wrought ironwork often only survives in a rusted or eroded state.

The Alabama Historical Commission published A Guide to Common Alabama Grave Markers (PDF) which says:

Fences, sometimes incorporating funerary motifs such as inverted torches, draped urns, weeping willow trees and reclining lambs, are the most common cast iron features in cemeteries. Grave markers and above-ground tombs were occasionally made of cast iron.

Closeup detail of the cast iron grave monument

More graves and graveshelters from Alabama right here.

Happy National Catfish Day

Today is the day when, thanks to Ronald Reagan, we take a moment to honor the majestic catfish.
280-pound wels catfish caught in Italy
280-pound wels catfish caught by Dino Ferrari in Italy, 2015.

Happy National Catfish Day!

Not to be mistaken for the “documentary,” Catfish or the more recent, Catfish: The TV Show. This is not a day to celebrate deceptive internet trolls, cyber bullying people or trying to date others by making fake Facebook profiles. Let this be a friendly reminder to anyone reading this: if a person online tries to talk to you, look them up on Google. Seriously, look up “How to reverse image search” on Google. This has been a Public Service Announcement from the Cult Of Weird Headquarters. We now return you to your regularly scheduled weird news.

So what was I writing about again… oh yeah!

Today is National Catfish Day, thanks to President Ronald Reagan. On June 25th in 1987 at 4:13pm, Reagan signed Presidential Proclamation 5672, making Catfish Day official. In 1987 farmed-raised catfish were the third highest volume of consumed finned fish in the United States. Which also created thousands of permanent jobs due to the production costs of catfish farming, which averaged only 65 cents per pound from 1977 to 1985. Also the production of farm-raised catfish increased by 1200 percent between 1975 and 1985. I’m curious to find out what these numbers are at currently and if these farms are still providing permanent jobs. These farm-raised catfish are kept in freshwater ponds and fed soybean meal, corn, fish meal, vitamins, and minerals. Which helps attribute a more nutritious, low cholesterol, and low-calorie source of protein.

If you plan to catch your own catfish keep in mind that they are bottom feeders and depending on where you catch them, they could be too big for you to handle if you don’t have the right equipment! As most of us have witnessed on Animal Planet’s River Monsters with Jeremy Wade.

It’s time for random weird facts about catfish! Did you know?!

  • There’s 3000 known species of catfish in the world.
  • Antarctica is the only continent where catfish do not inhabit.
  • They are known for their skin because they don’t have scales like other fish.
  • Catfish are omnivores, so they’ll eat anything that will fit in their mouth.
  • They have a very powerful sense of smell and they spend a majority of the day eating.
  • Dino Ferrari caught and released a Wels Catfish in Italy, that weighed 280 lbs and measured 8′ 9″
  • Catfish can lay up to around 4000 eggs per pound of their body weight per year.
  • They’re the fourth most populated fish in the world.
  • Jeremy Wade caught 166 lbs Goonch catfish in the Kali River where months earlier an 18 year old was killed by a catfish. Wade made the suggestion that the catfish had to be much larger then the one he caught to consume a human.
  • The largest catfish was caught in Thailand weighing 646 lbs and measured 9 feet in length.
  • In 2003 Nashville commissioned local artists to design 51 7-foot catfish statues that were put on display around the city.
  • There’s also two giant statues in Canada. One in Selkirk, Manitoba and another in Dunnville, Ontario.
  • When I lived in Kentucky from ’83-’86 we had a catfish farm in our back yard!

Now you know…

In conclusion, June 25th became a National day because President Reagan and Congress, thought that the value of farm-raised catfish should be recognized and have their own day of celebration!

So I ask you this, Weird Cult Members, how do you plan on celebrating this fine Catfish Day? Maybe by making your favorite catfish meal or going fishing? Well, I want to know all of your weird inner thoughts! Better yet, I want pictures or it didn’t happen! Please, comment below, share this article and tag us, post pictures to our wall on Facebook, #CultOfWeird on Instagram, pin this on Pinterest… oh why am I telling you this! You know what to do, you’re Cult Of Weird Members and you’ve all drank the KoolAid! Check back in with us soon for more weird news and don’t forget your white robe and tinfoil hat!

National Catfish Day

Anniversary of Weird: The Cult Turns 5 Today!

Cult of Weird is celebrating five years of mysteries, oddities and weird history.
Happy birthday Cult of Weird

Today marks the fifth anniversary of Cult of Weird, which I almost forgot about because I was distracted by pink flamingos.

So anyway…Cult of Weird has been broadcasting mysteries, oddities and weird history to the world since 2010, when I was scrambling to throw together a website where I could share my obsession with the bizarre and macabre. Since then, the Cult has grown exponentially, with hundreds of thousands of daily views from around the world.

These days, almost every time I post something about a specific location, at least one person comments that it’s just down the road from them.

Even when months go by that I don’t have time to focus on the site, the Cult still grows. Since it’s inception, Cult of Weird content has been featured by the Comedy Central series @Midnight, National Geographic, Disinformation, Rense, Elvira and numerous other personalities and media sources I respect.

That is completely surreal.

I offer my sincere gratitude to all of you that visit Cult of Weird every day and share these abominations with your friends and loved ones. 9 out of 10 grandmas stalking family members on Facebook agree: WTF?

Also, the Cult would not be possible without contributions in various forms by J. Nathan Couch, Rob Reysen (Mad Taxidermist) and Christina (Slasher Betty).

Thank you all for the support!

So what’s next? Earlier in the year I talked to Mysterious Heartland about the past, present and future of Cult of Weird. You can read that here: Interview with Charlie Hintz, Cult of Weird

Cult of Weird art by Capitan Houdy
Created by Capitan Houdy

Share your Cult of Weird birthday wishes on Instagram: #cultofweird

Creator of the Pink Flamingo Lawn Ornament Dies at 79

Fly your flamingos at half staff today: Don Featherstone, the man who invented the pink flamingo lawn ornament, is dead at 79.
Don Featherstone, creator of the pink flamingo lawn ornament
Don Featherstone, creator of the pink flamingo lawn ornament.

Don Featherstone created the pink plastic flamingo lawn ornament in 1957. They hit the store shelves in 1958, and have been terrorizing lawns in flocks ever since. An artist with nine years of formal training, featherstone created over 600 products during his 43 years with Union Products.

But none of them changed the world of lawn ornamentation quite like the beautifully tacky pink flamingo, which was his second assignment for the company.

Pink Plastic Flamingo Facts

Don Featherstone submerged in his pink flamingos

  • Featherstone didn’t have real flamingos, so he sculpted his lawn ornaments from National Geographic photos.
  • In 1987, Don inscribed the original pink flamingo mold with his signature in order to distinguish his from the knock-offs. Union Products removed his signature in 2001, but quickly replaced it when the Annals of Improbable Research and the Museum of Bad Art launched a protest and encouraged people to boycott the false flamingos.
  • For his flamingos, Don won the Ig Nobel Prize for Art in 1996.
  • The 1972 John Waters film Pink Flamingos, considered an abomination as well as an instant classic, was highly influential in establishing Featherstone’s lawn ornament as a mainstay of American lawns and pop culture.
  • In 2009, the city of Madison, Wisconsin Common Council designated the plastic flamingo as the city’s official bird.
  • Some homeowners associations forbid plastic flamingos and will issue fines due to the belief that they lower real estate values.
  • Featherstone and his wife dressed alike for 35 years.
  • The plastic lawn flamingo spawned a lawn greeting industry where flocks of pink flamingos are installed on a victim’s lawn at night while they sleep.
  • Production of pink flamingos was stopped when Union Products closed up shop on November 1, 2006. However, HMC International LLC, a subsidiary of Faster-Form Corporation, purchased the copyright and molds of Featherstone’s original plastic flamingos in 2007.
  • Don personally tended a flock of 57 plastic pink flamingos in his yard.

How can you tell if you have a Don Featherstone signature flamingo?
Look for his signature:

Don Featherstone flamingo signature
Don Featherstone’s signature pink flamingo.

Don lost his long battle with a form of dementia called Lewy body disease and died Monday at the age of 79, a day before Pink Flamingo Day which has been celebrated in his home town of Leominster, Massachusetts since 2007.

Dead skeleton flamingo lawn ornaments for Halloween
Cult of Weird HQ, Halloween 2014. Skeleton flamingos available here.