Desoto House Hotel

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The 1855 DeSoto House Hotel boasts such esteemed former guests as Abraham Lincoln and William Jennings Bryan. It was also the presidential campaign headquarters for Ulysses S. Grant, among others. Although the identity of the ghosts here is unknown, many folks have reported phantom cigar smoke, voices in the halls, and apparitions of people in period dress who seem to walk, or float, through walls.

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Geographic Information

230 S. Main Street
Galena, IL
United States

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42.414669209793686, -90.4296762049853
Jo Daviess County, Illinois
Nearest Towns:
Galena, IL (0.1 mi.)
Saint Donatus, IA (6.7 mi.)
Menominee, IL (7.3 mi.)
Hazel Green, WI (8.2 mi.)
Scales Mound, IL (10.0 mi.)
Bellevue, IA (10.8 mi.)
Benton, WI (11.0 mi.)
East Dubuque, IL (12.1 mi.)
Elizabeth, IL (12.6 mi.)
La Motte, IA (12.8 mi.)

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  1. I was getting out of the shower in room 334 and heard furniture being moved on the floor above me. The 4th and 5th floors were remived in the 1880’s. It was definitely wood scraping against wood. Someone was talking but I could not make out what was being said. Since both halls and rooms have carpet that was very odd. I asked my roommates if they heard anything and they said no. There was also the overpowering perfume smell that tended to be in different spots at different times in the 3rd floor hall. Just a bit odd experience.

  2. I stayed at the DeSota House a couple of years ago. I can’t remember the room number but I do remember that there was a picture of a doctor during the Civil War. I was sleeping in the one queen sized bed with my husband and young daughter. I was on the side closer to the wall. Suddenly in the middle of the night, I was nudged several times on my back – very hard. I sat straight up, startled because my back had been to the wall – not to my daughter or my husband – who were both fast asleep. I immediately sensed it was a ghost and hid under the covers. I then felt someone sit next to me on the bed. I can’t explain it, but I couldn’t speak or yell out to my husband – I was just frozen. They finally disappeared but I didn’t sleep for the rest of the night. The next morning we took some photos in the room and sure enough there is an orb in each one of them. I told my story to the women at the desk and they weren’t surprised. I could still feel the nudge on my back (it was like I was poked with 2 fingers) for a couple of days after the experience.

  3. My husband and I visited Galena for our 3rd anniversary. We went on Amelia’s Haunted Ghost Tour and then visited the Desota Hotel. It wasn’t until after we returned home that I began looking through the pictures I had taken. I caught amazing paranormal phenomenon and it’s apparent the spirits wanted my attention! Since I was a child, I have experienced paranormal events and the tour intrigued me. I never dreamed that I’d catch an image so vivid as the one attached.

  4. This was many years ago at the DeSoto. I’m thinking maybe 1995 about? Any way we were staying in I’m thinking room 331, although not quite sure of the room number, but every morning at 4:30 we would hear doors banging. My sister also reported hearing muffled voices talking, although what was being said could not be understood. The first night we stayed there, we heard a extremely loud sound, not easily described, but certainly felt by both of us in our chest. The feeling was like how you might feel the pounding of the base with very loud rock music, but it was one powerful pound on our chest. We both felt this, and it woke us out of a very sound sleep. It was kind of heart pounding, due to the noise level and the abrupt feeling in our chest. We looked at each other and asked “Why are you awake?”. We confirmed that we had both felt this and heard this loud noise. The next 2 nights we continued to hear the doors opening and closing around 4:30, and the muffled voices talking also. When asked about this at the front desk back in 1995, no one would acknowledge what we had experienced. They simply said “I don’t know”. We did hear from another person, a server at the hotel that the DeSoto is very haunted. But back in 1995, no one was openly talking about this. Since that experience, I am no longer a skeptic. I didn’t have a total belief in ghosts, but this experience had opened my eyes to the possibility. I will be staying at the DeSoto very soon. Hmmmmm do I want to stay in the 300’s. That’s where I was last time.

  5. I experienced a paranormal event in the first floor ladies restroom off the parking garage. I was the only person in the room at the time when i heard a newborn baby crying in distress and a mother shushing it, when i came out of the stall to see if i could help with the baby there was no one in the room with me! I learned later that other people had experienced the same phenomenon i had at other times.My husband waited for me outside in the hall and he said no one entered or exited the restroom but me….August 20th 2015 celebrating our 50th anniversary.

  6. We stayed in room 333 and brought our Rempod and ghost meters. A Rempod will go off if there is movement or if it is touched. We were sitting on the bed talking and the ghost meter on our bed started to light up suddenly. But it only lite up when we mentioned our pets at home and how much we love them. Then the Rempod went off. Later that night at 5:55 in the morning our Rempod went off like a fire alarm. It literally screamed….then would slacken off then scream so something was setting this off. My friend jumped out of bed to turn it off, the room temperature was freezing we had chills ….and she walked right into some type of energy that was freezing cold. She had to sit down for awhile we were both so shaken up.

  7. Felt heavy energy on 2nd floor in a random sitting room…our chests Felt very heavy and hard to breathe…3rd floor just walked hallway and heard like old record music or something, then stopped, heard 2 men talking to each other coming from a room then as we passed loud foots steps like they ran from inside the room to the door as we passed then stopped! Was super creepy! Then on our way out Caught a figure of a person appear in one photo by the window when taking a a few photos of my son infront of the hotel. Never saw any person by the window in person only saw when looking back at photos!

  8. I visited Galena with my best friend about 5 yrs ago. We went on the Amelia’s Ghost tour and were in the DeSoto. We were on the top floor near the bathrooms and the TV room when I got a heavy feeling and smelled cigar smoke. I have always been sensitive to spirit since I was a child. We went down to the basement and I saw the back of a lady in what appeared to be a period dress go back into the brick walkway hidden behind the rooms. What made me look that direction was the sound of her dress. When I walked into the brick hallway there was nothing there. We also were using an app on the guides phone that allows spirit to create words, along with a spirit box and were getting responses on both pieces of equipment that matched our conversation and questions. We had a long conversation with a ghost named Richard til almost midnight when the DeSoto staff finally asked us to go. As we walked back to the bus I asked the guide what’s the most activity he’s ever experienced and he said “tonight”.
    My friends and I are going back to Galena next month and have already booked our ghost tour with Amelia’s.

  9. My husband and I stayed at the Desoto for the Country Fair 10/12/2019. We were on the second floor. This was our first time in Galena and we had no knowledge of the hauntings or history of the hotel or area for that matter. We got into our room and there was a loud humming noise. It was coming from the corner of the room. My husband walked over to see if he could find what it was, but it immediately stopped when he got near it. He purposely kept walking away and it would start again. Eventually it subsided. We laughed it off and joked that maybe the room was haunted. We went about our day. Had a late dinner and were very tired. We had 2 double beds in our room and even though we intended to sleep in only one of the beds, we started watching TV and fell asleep on separate beds. That was around 10:30 pm. At around 11:30 pm my husband woke up abruptly. He stood up and was looking around the room. I woke and saw him standing there and asked him what he was doing. He said he was asleep, but thought I had sat on the bed and started rubbing his hand. It wasn’t me. He swore he wasn’t dreaming and that it really happened and I could tell that he was somewhat anxious about it. We finally went back to sleep. The morning went on as normal. We had brunch down in the Courtyard restaurant and then came up to our room to finish packing so we could check out. While loading our hotel cart, I was suddenly hit with a very bad odor. It wasn’t a smell that I recognized. It was rancid and damp. It was very strong and it lasted about 20 seconds. Of course I accused my husband, but he swore up and down that it wasn’t him. We left the room and went down to the front desk to turn in our keys. There is a small gift shop just off to the side of the front desk. We decided to go in because I was looking for an ornament as a souvenir. We were the only two in the shop and as we walked in, a glass cabinet door opened on it’s own when my husband came near it. We both agree that a spirit was trying to contact my husband for some reason. Neither of us are huge believers in the super natural or in ghost lore, however these few odd incidents that happened to us in a 24 hour period were enough to convince us that the Desoto is truly haunted. We already booked our room for next year. The place is fascinating.

    • Theresa Slater  |  

      Electro magnetic warfare used and is real. Devices coded to the algorithem and its proven. The social dilemma documentary. Mind abused, souls and bodies of all people who think… lies.

  10. Theresa Slater  |  

    For centuries people learned apprenticed that electricity every person is susceptible to. All living creatures great and small. Vegetation to anything that a magnet can control. It is remote and like electricity totally not detectable. People have been hologramed directly in mind to confuse. Electo magnetic warfare coded to DEVICES. People believe and will report what the abuser of their mind, soul and body makes them. To this has been reported since the 1700’s. Where exactly does the underground tunnel from Galena to Rockford to Chicago start? I have been abused by a device and this is told the social Dilemma documentary. All my life I have been used unpaid where I do understand smells you think you smell can be done by an abuser that really are not there. Where is this hotel blue print. You cannot tell me that room the black lady was not known. Lies. People hurt people there because they lied that devices coded to the united states algorithm started in England was not real. One day. You will know. Lies with truth… Find the other secrets there…. Devices can see through concrete to bunkers underneath. Direct in mind people to hear things other people cannot. Terrorism. It is known TOP SECRET.

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Disclaimer: The stories posted here are user-submitted and are, in the nature of "ghost stories," largely unverifiable. makes no claims that any of the statements posted here are factually accurate. The vast majority of information provided on this web site is anecdotal, and as such, should be viewed in the same light as local folklore and urban legends.