A college campus wouldn’t be complete without the occasional ghost story or two and Eastern is no exception.
Students are often told the story of Charles Walton Sr. and the Walmarthon estate the university is located on when they come for tours. They hear about the heart-shaped pond and the garden-turned-cafeteria, but most students are unaware of the mystery associated with Walton Hall’s fourth floor.
Walton Hall, which served as the Walton’s mansion in the early 1900s, is actually made up of four floors. Eastern used all four until 1961 when a fire marshal deemed the fourth one dangerous, according to University Archivist Frederick Boehlke. Entrances to the floor were locked and the space has been used solely for storage ever since.
However, rumors have been circulating since the 1970s that there is another reason the floor was locked up: Suzie Walton.
Suzie, granddaughter of Charles Walton Sr., died at the age of six from lupus, at least according to medical records. Legend states that her ghost now haunts the fourth floor, where her playroom was located.
While there are numerous accounts of what happened to Suzie, the popular tale is that she fell or was pushed off of a balcony from the fourth floor.
Some say she hung herself from a beam in the bell tower while others state she was raped and strangled.
Whatever the story, accounts of students seeing and hearing little Suzie within Walton Hall have been shared since the 1970s, with many documented in a paper written by former student Bruce Miller in 1977 for an American Folklore class.
In the paper, Miller retells numerous student and faculty encounters with Suzie’s ghost, including several from former security guard William Reynolds.
Perhaps the strangest story from Reynolds is his account of allowing two male students access to the fourth floor during his nightly rounds. After hearing screams, Reynolds returned to the floor to find one of the students being chocked by his own necklace by an invisible force.
More recent student accounts share about a bloody handprint located above a bathtub, believed to be Suzie’s, with writing scribbled on the wall. Boehlke said neither were included in historic accounts of the haunted floor.
In addition, Boehlke said several of the legends are “obviously not true,” such as the rape story that claims Suzie was 19 when killed.
The claim that Suzie had a playroom on the floor is also questionable because her family never lived in Walmarthon–it was her grandparents’ home.
Boehlke strongly suspects that former English professor Steve Beardsley, who often dealt in the occult in his classes, created some of the stories. Beardsley taught from 1959 to 1995 and would have been around when the floor was still being used.
“My thinking is that after the (fourth floor) was closed off, people began to … tell stories about the ghost,” Boehlke said. “I have not seen any evidence of a ghost story before 1961.”