Haunted Hamilton: Archives reveal Hamilton's legendary ghost stories

By Sarah Destin '14

 It’s Halloween, the time of year to find a nice ghost story to curl up with—or hide under the covers from! Luckily, dorms at Hamilton are filled with ghosts, so at least you won’t be alone.

100 College Hill Road
The tale of the Anderson sisters is one of the longest lasting ghost stories at Hamilton. In the 1830s, William Anderson, one of the founders of Hamilton, moved into 100 College Hill Road with his eight children. Three of his daughters, Myra, Harriet and Susan Anderson remained spinsters their entire life and lived at 100 College Hill Road until 1922 when Susan Anderson, the last of the three sisters, died at age 95.
After Susan’s death, Dr. Frank Ristine, Professor of English and Dean of the College, purchased 100 College Hill Road. However, the Ristine family was not the only inhabitant of 100 College Hill Road.
“I, myself, never saw any of those ‘girls.’ But I used to hear them often enough going quietly up and down the stairs,” Anne Eckfeldt, Ristine’s daughter, said on Nov. 2, 1990 in The Spectator.
However, Eckfeldt’s brother was convinced that one of the Anderson sisters was at the foot of his bed one night.
“He knew it was a woman because he heard a skirt swishing. He simply assumed that it was our mother looking in on him before she went to bed,” Eckfeldt said. However, the next morning, his mother denied that she had been in her son’s room and the family came to the conclusion that it must have been one of the Anderson sisters.
“On the rare occasions when the three of us were away, my ‘brave’ father would sleep over at the Faculty Club which was across the street. He didn’t want to have any run-ins with those ‘girls,’” Eckfeldt said.
In a letter to the Financial Times on Nov. 11, 2006, Jascha Kessler, Professor of English and Modern Literature at UCLA ,described his family’s experience living at 100 College Hill Road from 1958 to 1961.
“When we moved in, the widow of the former chairman of the English Department came to tea and mentioned that the place was occupied by the ghosts of spinster sisters who had despised the college all their very long lives, and finally left their grand home to the nurse who cared for them for many years,” Kessler said.
Upon inheriting 100 College Hill Road, the nurse sold the house to the college.
Three years after Kessler moved into 100 College Hill Road, he began to notice the presence of the Anderson sisters.
“I woke in the middle of the night and heard the floorboards creaking down the long hallway outside our bedroom. My hair stood on end – a first for me – and I lay a while, heart racing until those slow, heavy footsteps passed.
A month later, there came a hysterical shrieking at midnight from the room of our three-year-old son. When I rushed in, I turned on a light and he was standing in his crib, crying out: ‘I don’t like that old lady! Tell her to go away!’ I looked behind me where he pointed. No one was there – to my eyes,” Kessler said.
In order to attempt to remedy the situation, Kessler consulted with a colleague’s sister who was a health worker in Africa for the U.S. State Department.
“She gave me some special dry herbs that a witch doctor in Kenya had presented to her and advised me to fumigate the rooms while commanding the old women to leave us alone,” Kessler said.
Even though Kessler was agnostic, he followed the witch doctor’s advice and the Anderson sisters left the family in peace.

Siuda House
Before the renovation of the Greek houses, Siuda House was formerly Sigma Phi. The brothers of Sigma Phi were convinced that the house was haunted by the ghost of Dr. Melancthon Woolsley Stryker, who was the President of the college from 1892 to 1917. In the summer of 1986, two men from the class of 1987 and the cook of Sigma Phi, Randy Fields, participated in a séance to try to contact the ghost of Stryker in the stairwell of the Sigma Phi house. They put a copy of the 1899 Hamilton yearbook and the last Sigma Phi demitasse cup and saucer on the table.
“The table began to elevate and then suddenly it crashed against the wall across the hallway,” Randy Fields said on Nov. 2, 1990 in The Spectator. Regardless of whether or not anyone believes their story, the participants in the séance are convinced that they contacted Stryker.

North Residence Hall
According to theshadowlands.net, a website that lists places in New York that are rumored to be haunted, it’s been said that a messenger from the Revolution walks down the hall on the third floor of North. There have been numerous sightings of the ghost stopping and pointing at the ‘trespasser’ before disappearing through the wall.

The next time you wander into 100 College Hill Road, Siuda House or North by yourself, make sure you watch out for the spirits that could be lurking around.

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