Saturday, March 24, 2007

Concealment shoes at Fay home

Subject: Concealment Shoes

A major house remodeling has been taking place in Fulton, Illinois, in the 500 block of 15th Avenue. Interesting items have been found in the ceiling and walls including concealment shoes, stockings, letters, and more. Evan Davis of Fulton identified the four black shoes as “concealment shoes” and GOOGLE illuminated the find.

The house dates prior to 1855 when it was owned by Dr. Daniel Reed. He and his wife Cinda were major landowners in Fulton’s early history. They sold the house to Bradstreet Robinson in 1855. Robinson sold it to J.M. Fay. The Fay family owned it until 1939 when Frank Boonstra bought it.
Four single shoes were placed in the ceiling, probably during an early remodeling project rather than at the original construction time. Two shoes belonged to children and two to adult females. No buttons or ties remain. The practice of concealing shoes in a building is an old Western European tradition. The rite is thought to come from the prehistoric custom of killing a person and putting the body in the foundation of a building to make sure it holds together. Concealment shoes became a substitute for bodies.

Why shoes? Shoes take on the shape of the wearer’s foot, so it has been thought that the owner’s spirit remained in the shoe. June Swann, former curator of the Boot and Shoe Collection in England, writes, “It is the only garment we wear that retains the shape, the personality, the essence of the wearer. The shoes have been used as a talisman to ward off evil spirits. People put them in houses to prevent evil spirits from entering.”