"You turn your head for just a moment...and you
sense someone living their life of 1850, 1890 or at the turn of the
century...that’s what makes Galena such a ‘haunted community’."
With those words, Annie Wiggins explains her
answer to just why Galena is such a wonderful haunted community.
Actually, Annie Wiggins is the creation of
Wendy Heiken, who, with her husband, Bill, owns and operates the
beautiful Annie Wiggins bed and breeakfast, housed in a mid-1850’s
house located only a short walk from the bustling downtown Galena
Perhaps it was this proximity that led Wendy
to develop one of the most unique and interesting parts of a Galena
visit--her ‘walking tour of haunted Galena’--that starts at Annie
Wiggins B&B and concludes, where else, but in the historic cemetery
located near the town’s tourist anchor of the home of General and
later President U.S. Grant.
Wendy does a
wonderful job as Annie. She dresses appropriately in a beautiful black
mourning dress. She explains the rituals of death observances at the
time of Galena’s founding and boom years in a warm, personal manner.
She makes death and the possibility of ghosts seem not something to be
feared, but a presence of early Galena life that has much to say to
The walking tour includes stops along the way
to the cemetery, where ‘Annie’ tells stories of the history of Galena
through the eyes of her mid- and late 19th century friends. All of the
stories are true, but Wendy's concept of personalizing them by
relating them through the eyes of people of the era is nothing short
It adds a touch that removes much of what many people believe is dry
and a recitation of facts. It reminds us that even as the subjects of
Annie Wiggins’ stories once were living people who have left their
marks, we too shall be the ghosts for future generations.
to Galena via Seattle and Idaho. While time prevented her from telling
the full story of her reasons for choosing Galena, it is apparent that
she is in love with the community.
The inspiration for Annie Wiggins came when
tourism officials were developing a Halloween promotion.
"I gave it a lot of thought," she says. "I didn’t want to just do a
‘haunted house’, so I came up with the idea of looking at Galena
through the eyes of those people whose heritage we’re celebrating. "
That’s how Annie Wiggins was born.
We asked if she were a ghost. "That’s for you
to decide," she answers with a sly, but warm smile. It will also be
for the growing number of visitors to the Annie Wiggins ghost tours to
And, as one watches the black dressed,
black-veiled Annie walking the streets of Galena, we truly are
transported to a moment where, if we look up at just the right time,
one can see the ghosts of Galena.