BySarah O'Connell, writer at

Wisconsin is definitely the top dog of haunted places in the world. You can't go for a morning stroll without tripping over some hut that has a ghastly ghost story associated with it.

One such place is the small town of St. Nazianz that is said to be cursed by the heretic priest that founded it in1854.

Scared at the thought of it? You probably should be
Scared at the thought of it? You probably should be

Father Ambrose Oschwald was a German priest who fled to Wisconsin in 1854 accused of heresy by the Roman Catholic Church.

Father Ambrose Oschwald
Father Ambrose Oschwald

His cult-like congregation of around 70 people, uprooted and followed him to America where they settled and formed the community of St Nazianz. Referring to themselves as "The Association", the German sect thrived for many years working within and for their own community.

Things remained pretty haunt free in the town until 1873, when their leader and priest Oschwald fell sick and strange things began to happen.

Anton Still, a man that reportedly stayed by Father Oschwald as he lay on his death bed recorded:

“A number of times, I have observed that he, with closed eyes, when there was no one else in the room but I alone, would extend his hands in blessing, and then with his hand, signal someone away, and yet I saw no one in the room.”

As the priest lay dying, the people of the town reported a mysterious pounding on the walls of his room as well as residences throughout the town. When Oschwald died on the morning of February 26th 1873, the pounding stopped.

The tomb that the townspeople were building for the priest was not finished at the time of his death, and so he was temporarily placed in a crypt under the altar in St. Ambrose Church at the Loreto Monastery.

63 days after his death, Oschwald's coffin was opened in order to move him to the completed burial tomb and reports say that

"his body had not decayed, and there was no odor of corruption. Oshwald’s eyes had sunken in, but his skin had a lifelike complexion, his hair and fingernails were growing."

The coffin was opened again 53 years later so the body could be moved to a new stone mausoleum, and even though the iron casing of the coffin was said to have been rusted and broken, "Oschwald’s corpse was still in remarkably good shape."

Oschwald's crypt & the Lady of Loretto Chapel
Oschwald's crypt & the Lady of Loretto Chapel

Throughout the years, accounts of strange occurrences, unexplained phenomena and even natural disasters have been attributed to the curse of Father Oschwald.

A New Era

After Oschwald's death, Salvatorian priests and brothers came to St. Nazianz to improve and expand the small religious town. They did this by turning the property into a creepy ass seminary-school.

Reportedly the seminary building was later used briefly as an orphans asylum/sanatorium before it was turned into JFK Prep School.

Through the years, the town and buildings within it have been shrouded with terrifying stories of ghosts and paranormal activity.

Some sources say that children died at the hands of abusive nuns and that laughter can be heard in the long corridors even today.

There are tales of suicide and nuns having given birth to babies which they then drowned in a nearby lake.

And lets not forget the countless reports from people trespassing on the property and claiming to have seen figures floating and heard noises that scared them to death!

The tales, stories and urban legends that surround this historical site has of course led to droves of common day ghost hunters trespassing on the property to get a glimpse at the haunts within. Trespassing got so bad that the current owner have asked police to arrest and fine anyone caught there.

Is Wisconsin a walking ground for the spirits of the dead or just a state populated by people with colorful imaginations...who knows? But the 'history' of witches, vampires and ghosts is a delightful sea of terror that will keep us all wondering.


Do you believe in ghosts?

Sources: Cult of Weird, Midwest Preternatural Research,


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