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Subject Names: Dan Dale, Tim Dale, Laura Dale, Steve Dale, Vaunette Knudsen, Aaron Shearron, Herman Klabunde
Subject Location: Lonergan Farm, Nebraska
Tim Dale had moved his family back into his childhood home. He’d lost his job, and the only choice was to move back to the farm. As his mother was battling lung cancer, it was a strain all around. Still, the family was together.
Then Dan began to get strange feelings that something wasn’t right.
As Steve and Tim were walking out on the farm near their Uncle Will’s old condemned house, they heard a pounding. Steve had heard ghost stories about the place all through his childhood. It took them a moment to realize that the pounding they were hearing was their own hearts. Steve went back to check on their mother, while Tim remained. Tim heard some bells off in the distance. In one of the farm’s outer barns, Dan heard something that sounded like spurs. Tim followed the sound of the bells, and ended up in the barn beside Dan. They both heard the bells, but neither of them knew where they were coming from.
In the barn was the well. Ten years before, Dan had had to be lowered into the well to retrieve a dead raccoon. While he was down there, Dan had been convinced there was someone down there with him. Something had been whispering into his younger ears.
Dan was sitting by his dying mother’s bedside, his brothers giving her hospice care in her last days. It had been a day since she’d even spoken. Suddenly, his mother awoke. She was obviously distressed, and clearly looking at someone who just wasn’t there. When Dan turned back to his mother, she had passed away.
Later, around Halloween, Dan took Vaunette for a walk one night up to Uncle Will’s old house. It had been something of a family initiation. Vaunette had thought herself fearless, but when a floorboard in the old house broke under her foot, she’d re-evaluated that thought and gone back outside. Dan managed to convince her to check out the old house’s basement. Downstairs, there was a wall with many holes. Dan said the story as that Uncle Will had kept his treasure, and anyone who stuck their hand through to get it would lose their hand. Skeptical, Vaunette picked up sticks and uneventfully poked them through. There was one hole in that wall, though. It was one she felt compelled to touch. When she did, something seized her arm. When she got her arm out, a searing hot pain was in her hand, and spreading up to her elbow. The disturbing part, though, was the bite mark that looked like human teeth.
Later, when Tim, Dan, and Vaunette were out hunting, they heard the spurs again. Tim was sure someone was stalking them. Dan took off running, trying to catch whomever it was so they could have some answers. He couldn’t catch them. Dan said it was like trying to chase a rainbow. He didn’t catch anything or anyone. As they walked back to the house, Vaunette needed to stop and catch her breath near the old barn. She told the boys to go on. She’d catch up. As Vaunette took a swig from her canteen, she caught a glimpse of someone hanging by a noose.
That night, the nightmares began. Tim and Dan both dreamt of a group of men talking about how they were in trouble and couldn’t get away. For Tim, his mother showed up in the dream and scared him awake. Tim woke up outside Uncle Will’s house, dressed only in a t-shirt and underwear while standing barefoot in several inches of snow. Dan began having a very similar recurring nightmare, complete with his mother trying to get him out of there.
When they were younger, Tim and Dan had taken a couple of football buddies up to Uncle Will’s old house. It hadn’t really been to scare them, just to show them what the Dale boys lived through. Aaron, one of the football buddies, was sure there wasn’t anything to worry about with the “No Trespassing” sign that looked straight out of the Old West, because they were with members of the family. Can’t trespass if you’re with the family, right? Well, not to Uncle Will. The ghost walked out of the house, complete with creaking floorboards under his boots, and chased the four boys back to the fence.
The nightmares caused Dan to want to know more about what he was seeing. He sought out his Aunt Mary. Other than his mother, she was the only person Dan thought might know what was going on, especially with Uncle Will. When Dan identified Uncle Will in an old photo as the person who’d been haunting them. She also tells Dan about when Uncle Will (a horrible racist) and his friends lynched an African-American farm hand for getting too close to a white woman. Suddenly, it all began to make sense.
Tim’s daughter Laura began having nightmares as well. Vaunette told her that if she didn’t know if she was awake or dreaming, all Laura had to do was pinch herself. The pain would wake her up. On a sleepless night, Laura heard someone come into the room she shared with Melissa, her baby sister. Laura knew it wasn’t her parents. Frightened, she tried to pinch herself, but she couldn’t move. When she finally did, she screamed. Someone had taken Melissa.
The police arrived and began to search, as did local residents. Tim’s brother in law, Herman, joined the search party. Herman felt compelled to search in a particular area, even though the cops told him they’d already searched it. He was driven to search the area, but he didn’t know why. Herman was the one who found Melissa, bundled up in the cold on the ground.
Even after arsonists burned down Uncle Will’s old house, the family remained for another two years. In 2001, they chose to sell the family farm, and leave Uncle Will in the past.