|Henry Ford established a plant in Walkerville in 1904 (date of photo unknown)|
According to urban legend, legendary rocker Vincent Furnier adopted the stage name of Alice Cooper after the name was revealed to him during a Ouija board session. In a BBC interview in 2009, however, Cooper revealed that the story was entirely made up for publicity purposes. According to the veteran rock star, the origin of the now-famous moniker was far less spooky; Alice Cooper was a fictional character on the Andy Griffith television series Mayberry R.F.D.
There was, however, a real Alice Cooper. And her story is far spookier than the urban legend.
(Editor's note: The following story is based on authentic news articles. For a complete list of sources, see end of blog post)
Alice Cooper lived in Walkerville, Ontario, during the early half of the 20th century. Awakened from a terrifying nightmare one night in the November of 1924, her subsequent actions led to one of the strangest mysteries in the history of Ontario.
Alice, who shared a home with her son, Jimmie, at 63 Monmouth Road, awoke from her nightmare at around midnight. It was a horrifying dream, in which Alice saw dozens upon dozens of human bones scattered about. One by one the bones began to assemble themselves until an entire skeleton was formed.
Alice screamed, but when she awoke there was nothing but starlight on the windowpanes, and no sounds other than that of a passing automobile. She got out of bed and prepared herself a cup of tea to steady her nerves. Eventually she returned to her bed and began to doze off, but, once again, her dreams were tormented by strange visions.
In her second dream of the evening, she saw a trapdoor in her pantry open by itself. Inside she saw more bones. Alice once again woke up screaming. She got up and dressed, and then made a decision that would haunt her for the rest of her life. She took a lamp in one hand, a small shovel in the other, and then bravely made her way to the pantry.
Mrs. Cooper later told newspaper reporters that she never knew that there was a hidden trapdoor in the pantry. She only found the door after peeling back the floor's linoleum, and it was right where it had appeared in her hellish nightmare.
"I went down into that black hole," she told the police. "God alone knows how I happened to have sufficient courage, but I did. I firmly believe He was showing me the way. When I got down there I was drawn along the side of the wall to the front of the house. Something seemed to pull me in that direction. I began to dig."
Then she found the bones.
Alice believes that she fainted after making the gruesome discovery; the next thing she remembered was opening her eyes and noticing that it was morning.
"I went at it again," she said, "until I had a basketful. Some seemed to be meat and chicken bones, but some looked human." Alice kept her secret to herself at first, but two weeks later she again felt the urge to visit the musty secret chamber beneath her house. This time a voice instructed her to dig in another spot, and once again she found more bones. After discovering the additional bones, she notified the police.
Alice turned the bones over to authorities on November 15, who, in turn, passed them along to a Walkerville physician for identification. He pronounced the bones human, adding that they appeared to have belonged to several different persons. In spite of a thorough investigation, the police have never unraveled the mystery of who the bones belonged to, or how they came to rest in Alice Cooper's cellar.
It's possible that the history of Walkerville holds additional clues that may someday solve this perplexing riddle. Founded by Hiram Walker, the town is best known as the home of Canadian Club whiskey. During the era of Prohibition, Walkerville was a center of bootleg whiskey operations; in fact, the bulk of whiskey consumed by Americans during this period was manufactured in Walkerville. Perhaps Alice Cooper uncovered a bootlegger's graveyard after being visited in a dream by the spirit of a murdered moonshiner.
That guess is as good as any, since the mystery remains unsolved.
Chicago Daily Herald, Jan. 16, 1925
Winnipeg Tribune, November 15, 1924
Ottawa Journal, November 15, 1924