What Walks the Haunted Halls of Quarters One?

The aide walked through the third floor of the house, making sure that every door was shut, and every light was off. No one lived up here anymore, so it should be easy. The general wanted it done, and that was enough for the aide.

Steadily, they went through every room, each time repeating the ritual of turning off the light and tightly closing every door. When they were finally finished, the aide smiled to themselves and left, satisfied that the task was complete.

But the next morning, they received a call from the general, who was less than pleased. The general wanted an explanation on why their orders hadn’t been followed. The aide was confused. They asked for clarification.

The general became even more irate. They said that there were still a number of doors open and lights turned on up on the third floor. This confused the aide even more. They knew that they had done as asked, and that everything was buttoned up on the empty floor.

The general told them to do better next time, and to make sure the task was done.

That night, the aide went up and made doubly sure that everything was shut off and closed up. Once again satisfied with the job that they had done, the aide went home.

But the next morning, the general called them again, telling them that nothing had been done on the third floor.

The aide was shocked. There was no way. Thinking, they thought that maybe some of the doors hadn’t latched properly or came open with air pressure changes in the house. Maybe that explained some of them, but the aide had found different lights on, and different doors open every time they went up to the third floor.

Over the next several nights, the aide went through the third floor, turning off all of the lights and closing all of the doors. They even made up a checklist to make sure that it was getting done. And every morning, they would have to face the irritated general, who informed him that the task still hadn’t been completed.

The aide couldn’t understand what was going on, let alone fix the problem. There was no explanation. Unless, of course, one was to believe the stories about Quarters One.

Quarters One is a massive stone mansion that looms on the northern edge of Arsenal Island between Illinois and Iowa on the Mississippi River. Officially, it was the residence of the highest ranked person on the Rock Island Arsenal, a manufacturing facility for the U.S. Army from which the island gets its name.

In 1862, legislation was passed that approved construction of a federal arsenal on Arsenal Island, then called Rock Island. The facility would have easy access to both rail and river transportation and could defend itself well in the event of a Confederate attack.

In September of the following year, buildings for the Arsenal began to be constructed on the island. Just two months later, a Confederate prisoner of war camp was also constructed in the north central portion of the island.

The prisoners were treated very well and given as much freedom as could be allowed. Within reason, they were allowed to move around the camp as they wished. They were given good quarters that sheltered them from the elements and were fed the same rations as the Union soldiers.

Still, diseases associated with Civil War camps on both sides – dysentery, smallpox, diphtheria, and typhoid – ravaged the soldiers, killing 1,964 prisoners of war. The dead were given a respectful, proper burial on the island.

In 1865, Brevet Brigadier General Thomas J. Rodman took over command of the Arsenal. Over the next several years, Rodman would oversee the construction and utilization of the Arsenal’s first manufacturing buildings. These massive structures, each covering about an acre, became known as the Stone Shops because of their stone block construction.

In 1869, Rodman received approval to build quarters to house the commanding officer of the island. Over the next two years, he would construct a grand home that would become known as Quarters One. He utilized some of the same stone that was utilized in the stone shops and used Arsenal craftsman to manufacture much of the furnishings and exterior of the home.

In 1871, the majority of the house was completed, but unfortunately Rodman would never live there. He died suddenly on June 7 at the age of 55. It was decided that his funeral would be held in the home, and it became the very first public event that was ever held there. Well over a thousand people attended the services and gave General Rodman his final farewell as he was buried in the Rock Island Arsenal Cemetery on the island.

By 1872, the house was fully completed by the next commander of the Arsenal, Captain Daniel Flagler. Flagler also became the first one to live at Quarters One.

Quarters One had turned out to be an amazing home. The finished home was a 20,000 square foot, fifty-one room masterpiece: the second largest government-owned residence next to the White House itself.

The exterior of the three-story home is constructed in an Italianate-style, dominated by a four and half foot tall square tower. A wraparound porch surrounds the entryway, decorated with intricate ironwork that was manufactured on the Arsenal.

Much of the brass parts of the home, such as doorknobs and hinges, were repurposed from unused munitions manufactured on the Arsenal. In similar fashion, much of the ironwork was made from melted-down Confederate cannons captured during the Civil War.

Many of the accent architecture, such as built-in bookcases, as well as many of the furnishings, were constructed by professional craftsman employed on the Arsenal.

Over the next 150 years, Quarters One would play host to a number of famous individuals. This included General T.S. Sherman and General Philip Sheridan, as well as several Secretaries of War. One of them, Wiliam Howard Taft, would go on to become the President of the United States. A Lieutenant Colonel named Dwight D. Eisenhower stayed there after finishing his infamous transcontinental Truck Trip across the United States in 1919.

In 1927, renowned aviator Charles Lindburgh stayed at Quarters One while visiting the area.

With such an old and illustrious history, it should come as no surprise that several people have come forward to claim supernatural activity on the house and grounds.

Many have claimed to heard voices or seen shadowy figures in the house.

As some have approached the two stone pillars at the entrance of the driveway, some people have claimed to see an individual wearing a Confederate soldier’s uniform casually leaning against one of the pillars, smoking a pipe. When they look back to get a better look, the soldier has vanished.

Inside the home, many have heard distinct footsteps walking across the empty third floor. When they go to see who it is, there’s never anyone there. The wife of one commanding general was alone in the house one night when she heard the footsteps across the third floor. She was terrified there might be an intruder, so she called security.

They very carefully went through the entire house but found no one.

On another occasion, a commanding general’s aide was laying out the officer’s uniform. They left the room to take care of something, and when they had returned, the uniform was scattered around the room as if someone had grabbed it and deliberately tossed it.

On a particularly memorable Halloween night in 2007, every window at Quarters One was found open, even the ones at the very top of the building. Needless to say, they had been left closed earlier that day.

Born from the ashes of the American Civil War, Quarters One has played host to generals, politicians, and celebrities. Confederate soldiers spent their last days on earth not too far away.

With so much rich history, it’s hard to say who might be haunting the mansion. Maybe it’s just one group from one time period, or maybe it’s all of them. Whatever the case may be, many claim that something still lingers there, and it might be a very safe bet that whatever it may be, it isn’t alone.


1 thought on “What Walks the Haunted Halls of Quarters One?”

  1. Love hearing this history of a local landmark. But I’m still curious–who’s haunting Quarters One???

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