Sunday, July 12, 2009

Paging Annie Kintop

A couple weekends ago, some friends and took a road trip to the remains of Darling, Minnesota.

Lately, I've been pretty jazzed about ghost towns. They're more current than the ruins I typically fixate on, but all lost history is sexy.

Two hours northwest of Minneapolis is the populated town of Little Falls. Just four miles beyond is the last of Darling. What remains are two cemeteries and an abandoned church, built in 1893.

Being someone who, on my best and kindest days, might be called a disgraceful harlot, you may wonder what could compel me to drive two hours to a church in the middle of nowhere, abandoned or not.

The answer, my friends, is Annie Kintop.

On April 15, 1905, Annie Kintop was 25 years old. She went to Little Falls to pick up supplies, because on April 16, she was moving to a new homestead, a new life, further north. She stopped in Darling, where she was going to walk two miles to her home. Annie never made it. Her body was found the next day, naked, bruised and strangled in a nearby swamp. Blood and clothing told the story; She was murdered in the Darling Church, where she probably fled to escape her pursuer.

The next day, newspapers as far away as New York City wrote about the tragedy at Darling Church. Here is the article from the Times.

The two African American suspects mentioned in the article were apprehended and later released when it became clear they had nothing to do with the murder. 1905 was, apparently, not a good year to be black. The person who did murder Annie Kintop must have used that extra time well, because he was never found. Today, the death of Annie Kintop is a regional legend, and books are still being written to investigate a murder that happened so long ago. Locals are scared of the church, as Annie's ghost is said to roam the grounds at night.

So, we went to pay our own visit Annie Kintop. Our adventure was one part local history, one part barbecue, and another part amateur paranormal investigation.

The little church is still in good condition, though the pews have been removed and someone has punched holes in the walls to remove the copper wiring. What stands is a small building with two room and a pulpit. It is unlocked, though I suspect that may have more to do with vandals than local permissiveness. It is surrounded by a kept cemetery that is still in use today.

We set up our barbecue in the church lawn and played hackey sack until nightfall. Then, the real fun started.

A few courageous members of our crew asked to be locked inside with a couple flashlights. I was, of course, a member of that crew.

We stood there, serious as AIDS, scouring the netherworld with three cheap tape recorders and a glow-in-the-dark Parker Brothers Ouija board. We all wanted something to happen--anything to happen--and we were ready to believe in a world bigger than us, bigger than Darling and Minneapolis, bigger than our friends and family and everything we knew. We were looking for some hint of the infinite in that profaned church, to chill us and comfort us.

The Ouija session was appropriately intense. One person posed the question, "If you are in torment, go to No. If you are at peace, go to Yes." Annie said No. This was not the message from the afterlife I was looking for. I don't know what I expected from a young woman, raped and killed and discarded in the woods, but it terrified me nonetheless. I wanted to find a peaceful infinity, a sign that there was nothing to fear in all this fretful business of life and death. With my voice trembling, I asked if there was anything we could do to help. Annie spelled L-I-V-E. I asked what she meant by that, if we were in danger, or if we were meant to enjoy what we have. Annie decided that would be a good place to leave us wondering.

We also, wisely, did a fact-checker question early on, which nobody knew the answer to. It was, "What is the initial of your middle name?" Annie went to C.

When we got home, I was obsessed. I had to know what Annie's middle name was. How much of this was real; how much hell was waiting for me? We all swore that we hadn't moved the board--all of us but one. This person explained how he felt the Ouija board worked: "You ask a question and your hand moves where it may."

I took that to mean asshole.

After scouring databases and library records, I learned that Annie Kintop was born and given the name Mary Anna Kintop.

If her middle name had been Carolyn or Cindy or Carla, I'm not sure what I would have done. Sometimes, it's just better not to know.

My camera wasn't working, so I am waiting to get some pictures emailed. As soon as they're sent, I'll show you Darling Church.


Anonymous said...

I investigate this location also, Im from Elk River MN and I have experienced alot here at the church site, also I investigated the swamp and woods, where the book leads you to go to.

Puffball69 said...

Where can I purchase the book?

Anna Nimh said...

You can find it at book stores in Little Falls. There is also a copy in their library.

Anonymous said...

where can i experience seeing annie? i live 2 miles from the church, and every so often you can hear a scream, but i never see things..