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Why would the Lavender Lady haunt the Lemp Mansion?

(Lillian Handlan "The Lavender Lady")

(Julia Feickert Lemp)

For years, I’ve been told that Lillian Handlan Lemp, better known as the Lavender Lady is one of the many ghosts that haunt the Lemp Mansion. I had no reason to doubt this until I learned that during the time when Lillian was married to William Lemp Jr, they lived in the in a penthouse on top of the Chase Park Plaza. After finding this out, I had to ask myself; “Why would the Lavender Lady haunt the Lemp Mansion if she never lived there?” I could come to only one conclusion, she doesn’t. If she has no reason to haunt the mansion, then the ghost everyone claims to see on the second floor cannot be the ghost of Lillian Lemp. I know this may be hard for some to accept, since so many psychics, paranormal investigators, and television shows have identified the ghost on the second floor as the Lavender Lady, but I still find it very hard to believe that Lillian would haunt a home in which they never lived. Lillian actually died in her Park Avenue apartment in 1960.

If it is not the Lavender Lady who is haunting the second floor of the Lemp, then who is the female ghost that hundreds have witnessed? When I asked myself this very same question, I was forced to start at the beginning of the mansion’s history to find an answer. The Lemp Mansion was built in 1868 by the Jacob Feickert. In 1875, the mansion we know today as the Lemp was listed as the Feickert Mansion in the Illustrations of Compton and Dry. When I saw this reference, I wondered if the ghost on the second floor could be that of Elizabeth Feickert, Julia Feickert Lemp’s mother. If so, this would be an amazing discovery and definitely a new twist to the Lemp Haunting, because this could prove that the mansion was already haunted before it was owned by the Lemp Family, but unfortunately, this wouldn’t be the case.

In 1878 the mansion was acquired by William Sr. and Julia Lemp. There are several accounts of how William and Julia Lemp acquired the mansion from Julia’s parents. One account is that it was given to them as a wedding present, but this account doesn’t fit the timeline of William and Julia’s marriage in 1861. Another account is that the Lemp Mansion was willed to Julia after her parent’s death. This also doesn’t fit the timeline, because both of Julia’s parents died in January of 1892. The third account and most plausible is that William Lemp Sr. simply bought the mansion from Julia’s parents. So I seriously doubt it’s the ghost of Julia’s mother, Elizabeth Feickert that is haunting the second floor of the Lemp Mansion.

Having ruled out Julia’s mother, I then turned my attention to the period after the suicide of Charles Lemp in May of 1949, with the thought that the female ghost could have been a resident of the Lemp Mansion when it was a boarding house, but after researching the history of the Lemp Family a little further, I was able to find a more plausible candidate for the ghost’s identity. In February 1904, William Lemp Sr. committed suicide in the Lavender Suite after suffering from a long spiraling depression that was caused by the deaths of his youngest son Frederick and his best friend Frederick Pabst. After William Sr.’s suicide, it was noted by her family and friends that Julia started acting very strange. In 1906, she ordered her mother and father to be exhumed from their graves and reinterred in the Lemp Family Mausoleum, but she refused to move the body of her first-born son, who died during childbirth. Instead, she decided to leave him in an unmarked grave on the other side of Bellefontaine Cemetery. Julia suddenly became very meticulous when it came to her personal affairs and effects. I suspect the reason why she became so concerned about her affairs is when Louise Lemp died, William Sr.’s mother in 1893, she was placed in an unmarked grave next to her husband Adam. Adam Lemp having died in 1862 already had a massive granite monument over his grave. It would have been a rather simple task to have Louise’s named carved into the side of husband’s monument, but William Sr. for some reason overlooked this simple gesture. It is thought that Julia, like Louise, was also estranged from her children, and that’s why she decided to plan her own funeral.

So why did Julia Feickert Lemp suddenly become so fascinated with getting her final affairs in order after her husband’s suicide? Undoubtedly, William’s suicide had a devastating effect upon Julia. After William’s death, she decided to move out of the Lavender Suite and into the William Lemp Suite across the hall. Also in 1905, Julia was diagnosed with cancer. Her final months were spent in extreme pain. After becoming bedridden, she requested to be moved back into the Lavender Suite. I think she wanted to spend her final days in the same room where her beloved husband took his own life. Julia lost her battle with cancer on April 6, 1906.

After learning how Julia Lemp died, I am convinced that it is her ghost haunting the second floor of the Lemp Mansion, and not the ghost of Lillian Handlan Lemp. Julia definitely showed an attachment to the Lavender Suite and had a great affection for the mansion her parents built. I suspect the reason why she refuses to rest is because of some need to atone for her part in the tragic events that befell her family.

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