The Haunted Mansion cache is a part of our Ghost Hunt series. Watch your step.
The Haunted Mansion, commonly called 23 Nichol, is the childhood home of Frances Noel Stevens, and her older brothers, Henry and Willie. Henry, the oldest, fell out with the other two in a fight over their inheritance, a multi-million dollar endowment that traced its origins to the founding of the Johnson & Johnson company, and back even further to before the American Revolution. It was here at 23 Nichol that Frances lived with her dependent, ‘different’, brother, Willie Stevens. Willie would walk from this house down to the fire station, where he would use his allowance to buy candy for the neighborhood children, and beer and steaks for the firefighters.
For most of her adulthood, Frances was an active member of the Church of Saint John the Evangelist, just down the hill at George Street and Paul Robeson Blvd (formerly Commercial Ave). It was at Saint John’s that she met, and married, the church’s new priest, Edward Wheeler Hall. But it was here, 23 Nichol, that they occupied as their married home. Frances was a few years older than Edward--they had no children together, though perhaps you could count her eccentric older brother, Willie, as something of a child. On September 14th, 1922, Frances watched her husband walk out the front door and into the evening autumn air to meet Mrs. Eleanor Mills, a choir singer at the church. They were, supposedly, just going to talk about a medical bill for Eleanor’s recent kidney operation--a bill which Frances had paid. Frances remained behind. She played cards with her niece, little Frances. And then she played solitaire. She later admitted that she and her brother Willie could have been seen late that night walking about New Brunswick, looking for the missing minister. But they did not file a missing persons report. And they said they were shocked when Eleanor Mills and the Reverend Edward Hall were found just outside of town, a bullet hole in Edward’s head, three shots in Eleanor’s face. Her throat had also been slit, and a later autopsy revealed that her tongue and vocal cords had been removed. All three of the Stevens siblings, Henry, Willie, and Frances, would be put on trial for the crime, but the scant evidence and unreliable witnesses ensured that no one was convicted. Frances died in 1942. Willie Stevens followed just eleven days later.
The mansion before you is now a home for the dean of Douglass College. Please respect the dean’s privacy and do not approach the house.
This small cache contains a QR code that will unlock the next step in our exploration of the haunted mansion. We would ask that you refrain from removing ‘evidence’ from the cache, or adding anything to it. Good luck, and keep an eye out for our other Ghost Hunt geocaches.