Haunted Locations: An Exorcism in Iowa

Welcome back to another Weird Wednesday, where we like to explore things that are dark and disturbing, decaying and decomposing, dead and devilish. Those places haunted by bad deeds, bad blood, and bad memories. The empty caskets and mass graves, the murderers, those that are dark and depraved, demons of death, dealers of decomposition.

Where shall we go today?  What dark crypt shall we delve into and dig deep for its darkest secrets to date?  Where shall we seek the bodies today?  How about Wisconsin? Sounds like a winner!

Why Wisconsin?  Well, for starters, Ed Gein?  Ring any bells?  (Texas Chainsaw Massacre was loosely based off him, as well as Psycho and Silence of the Lambs), the Goatman (nasty creature you do not want to encounter), the Beast of Bray Road (Beast…enough said), pancake-serving aliens (I’ll let you ponder that one) and one very famous exorcism.

After last week’s article on demons and bad spirits, I, naturally began looking into cases of actual demonic possession here in America.  Ghosts of all kinds are all over the place, whether you believe in them or not. Hauntings have been noted all over the world, all over America, from small towns to big cities, old houses, and new buildings. But cases of actual demonic possession are documented by the church, they must be to have the exorcism approved.  These cases are rare, very hard to prove, and the details of actual demonic possession are downright terrifying.

I found a website called, www.cultofweird.com, that contains the entire story on this exorcism, led by Father Theophilus Reisinger, who was a Capuchin Friar from Appleton, Wisconsin.  I am going to detail some of that story here, but please make sure you visit the site and get the full story. There is even an audio snippet you can listen to regarding the event.  This was the event that inspired the movie, The Exorcist. Many of the details surrounding the possession as seen in the movie, were taken from the details of this event.  Creepy, right?  How many of you knew that that movie was based on a real event?

This case begins in 1912, when Father Reisinger performed his first rite of exorcism on a young girl of 14. Her name is believed to be Anna Ecklund or Emma Schmidt.  The Father was called when she began manifesting multiple signs of possession and it was believed that he was successful in driving the demon or demons out of her at that time. Another online article on www.husheduphistory.com states that the first exorcism was in fact, not successful and Emma told Father Reisinger when they met again, in 1928, that she hadn’t had a day’s peace in decades.  Emma was now about 40 years old and suffering a great deal from demonic activity.

Despite her desire to go to church, to pray, to engage in Holy Communion, she was physically kept from doing so. She was being attached physically, mentally, and spiritually, impure thoughts were running rampant within her, forces were keeping her from the church and other activities, and she was hearing voices in her head.  When Father Reisinger heard of her plight, he made a request of St. Joseph’s Parish in Earling, Iowa. He wanted to bring Emma there to perform an exorcism, out of the sight of the public.

What happened there over the next 23 days delved into the things that we only see in our nightmares, or on the movies.  The event was well documented by those that attended and were later published in a 48-page booklet called “Begone Satan.” It was this booklet that William Peter Blatty would later study for his movie, The Exorcist.

There are accounts of the bound woman freeing herself of her bonds and those that held her down, being lifted through the air, and landing above the doorway where she clung to the walls of her own accord.  Other accounts talk of her arms and legs becoming so contorted that she was hard to look upon, no longer looking human, to the point that her facial features would distort to where she could not be recognized.

The account details that she was vomiting what looked like tea leaves and some type of noodle, even though she had not eaten in days. She foamed at the mouth, recognized languages she had never heard and claimed to be inhabited by many spirits, including Beelzebub.  The account even goes on to state that at one point Lucifer himself appeared in the room, flanked by Beelzebub, surrounded by flames with a sword in his hand and a crown upon his head.  You can read these details and more on the webpage. 

The other website has a slightly more detailed account of these events, even stating that Emma told the father that she was cursed by her aunt, who was known to be a witch and by her abusive father. The pair, long dead, were cursing her from beyond and ushering these demons into her presence.  

The husheduphistory.com also shows the cover of the booklet that was published, that is said to contain the full account of the ordeal, including full conversations held between the father and the demons, including Lucifer himself.  There is even a link that takes you directly to the full text of the booklet, so you can read the full account. When you find the link, click the word “here.” Enjoy!

Just reading about this account creeps me out a little bit. It doesn’t help that I choose to write these disturbing articles for your reading pleasure at midnight each week but it’s more fun this way! I can guarantee that once you read these accounts, you will NOT watch The Exorcist in quite the same way that you did before.

References:

The Evil and Exorcism of Emma Schmidt | HUSHED UP HISTORY

The Most Horrific Publicized Exorcism in American History (cultofweird.com)

A Possession in Iowa – Exorcism | Exorcism at eMystica

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