nothing sadder than leaving a family home you love. But in the case of
Beatrice Sims (pictured on the left), that love may have extended beyond
the grave, across four decades and into a battle between two wills on
opposite sides of the afterlife.
On Halloween night the dog disappeared and never came back. Eleanor and her husband soon understood why. The couple began to hear disembodied voices calling out their names. The front door kept opening. There was a constant feeling of a presence in the house. One night Davis was giving the baby its 2 a.m. bottle when she heard someone or something coming up the stairs. The footsteps would reach the point on the stair where the person would come into view - and then stop. "I couldn't call my husband because I was so scared," says Davis. "I just froze and I had the bottle stuck so far in the baby's mouth that I'm surprise she didn't choke."
Then the Davis family learned about Beatrice Sims. Beatrice Sims had served as a deaconess at the London Gospel Temple. According to a friend, the Sims family had lived in the house during the late 1920s. After the father's death the family was forced to move into a cramped apartment. Beatrice was supposedly bitter about losing the house and vowed to return to it one day. She died in 1962 without realizing that dream. By a strange coincidence, the Davis family had moved into the house on the fifth anniversary of Sim's death. They later searched their attic and turned up books that had belonged to the Sims family.
Oddly, Eleanor was glad to put a face on her unwelcome housemate. She even tried to communicate with Sims. "I felt that the person in the house was friendly. It wasn't a bad spirit," she explains. "When I heard about Beatrice Sims I thought that she had come back to protect the house and make sure that everyone in the house was okay. That was the impression that went through my mind - that she wasn't out to hurt anybody."
The visitations ended in February 1968 without so much as a sťance. A year later Free Press columnist Joe McClelland turned out an article on the Sims ghost. Sightseers came to gawk at the house and neighborhood children began to refer to Davis as "a witch." The National Enquirer wanted to do a story. Davis stopped answering the phone, feeling the matter was closed. She was right. Whoever or whatever had shared the house with her never returned.
But like all good ghost stories, the facts are often at odds with the legend. There is no hard evidence that Beatrice Sims ever lived at the Davis house. But then, how did those books get into the attic of the house? If there was a presence, who did it belong to? Why did it only torment the Davis family?
Incredibly, Eleanor Davis still likes to consider the place as "her house." "The house was me. I belonged in that house. I can't explain that. It was my house."
Beatrice Sims knows how she feels.
article was originally published in The London Free Press in October,