The Six Days of Helloween – #2. The Devil Baby of Hull House
If you've stuck with the tour this long I commend you, for you are a brave soul. On today's stop we visit an unassuming home on the near west-side. Welcome to Hull House, now meet the Devil Baby who resides there.
This is an account of how the legend began.
The doctor stopped and stared. The horror that filled his eyes was enough to startle anybody in any situation. The height of this horror is a scene that places the doctor at the wide-open legs of a pregnant mother. His hesitating hands reaching forward to remove a baby the mother was sure was ready to come out.
She didn't hear the expected crying, but instead only a low gurgling sound filled the room. The doctor shook his head, as if waking from a nightmare, then reached out and took hold of the unseen infant.
"Doctor? What's the matter?" a nurse asked as she approached the bed. She peaked around at the baby. "Don't worry ma'am, all is fine."
The mother stared with unblinking eyes at the nurse as she looked at the doctor and finally the small creature that he held in shaking hands. The nurse's jaw dropped down and her eyes clouded over. In a moment, she was on the ground and the mother was screaming.
The doctor stood and revealed the child cradled in his arms. A monster writhed within the scratched and bloodied arms of the terrified physician. It was larger then a one year old child, its skin like a reptile's, both scaly and rough. Sharp horns jetted out of its head on either side and a thin, long object swayed in the air, the tip shaped like a two-pronged fork, swayed about the infants head.
Her son, she thought, I love him no matter what he is or becomes. The child seemed to look right into her soul with its glowing red eyes.
In the early 1900's, the Devil Baby of Hull House was Chicago's answer to the urban legend. People from everywhere made their way to the Hull House in search of the monster baby that could not be caught. They truly believed that this thing scurried through the halls of Hull, attacking workers and borders alike, not discriminating in its havoc of the innocent.
Jane Addams, founder of the Hull House was livid with anger at the rumors of this creature and its association with her hard work for the good of all women. She was an old-fashioned type who didn't believe in such foolery and would hear nothing of it. She shamed all those who stood at her doorstep in search of just one glimpse of the famous baby.
Jane, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931 (she would die only four years later at the age of 75) was a well-respected and legendary Chicago woman. One great article described her as, "a natural leader, and, in spite of her frequent illnesses, she was at the forefront of the struggles for women's suffrage, immigrant education, health care, children's rights, housing, peace and progressive education".
This is not the legacy she envisioned for the Hull house, which was named after real-estate developer Charles Hull for whom the building was built in 1856. It was converted into a home for "down-on-their-luck" mothers and immigrants alike just after Charles's death in 1889. Then, almost 24 years into her life's work, she was disrupted with the legend of The Devil Baby.
The baby was a product of a loud-mouthed man. This is the conclusion of two different, yet related stories that help explain where the Devil Baby came from. Instead of the birds and the bees, we have the bats and the snakes as this baby boy was conceived directly from Satan.
One account tells of a disappointed father who would give anything for a boy, these thoughts running through his head as the dozen daughters he never wanted run around him playfully. He would reach the end of his temper when the cursed words came spewing from his dry, cracked lips.
"I would rather have the devil in this house then another daughter to disturb my rest!" His wish came true. Not the one for a boy, but the one for a devil as the mother went screaming to insanity in the birthing room.
The second story takes us to the home of two people that follow different religions. This is never a good mix and their once peaceful lives would be the price. One day, the wife was in the mood to celebrate her God. She placed a very tasteful and lovely picture of her lord Christ upon the wall of their home. Upon seeing this, her husband through up his arms in a rage and screamed, "I'd rather have the devil in this house", bringing his hands down on the picture and tearing it from the wall. The mother would suffer through the birth of Satan for that deadly mistake.
With big budget films that crave for the story lines of legends in the past, it's no surprise that this legend would find itself on the silver screen. It would be from the mind of Roman Polanski that the story of Rosemary's Baby would be told. His first American project from an American horror story, and what is considered to be the worst nightmare of every expecting mother.
From culty neighbours, a very calm and considerate husband (here's the real stretch), to the craving for raw and bloody meat, this poor woman was at the mercy of her spawn. Although no details of the Devil baby's mom's pregnancy were made known in the legend, I'm sure it's not too far off from the events of this movie.
One more stop left on our tour of the most terrifying spots of Chicago. Will you be there with us?