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Story of Crazy Sadie and Hell's Furnace

Updated on June 13, 2019

Hell's Furnace

Sadie Bane's haunted furnace.
Sadie Bane's haunted furnace. | Source

Lone Sentinal Contest

This is my story for Billybuc's writing challenge: Lone Sentinal. This is a fiction based on a true story about Belle Gunness, aka Hell's Belle. She had a farm in the midwest in the late 1800's to early 1900s, until she burned it to the ground to fake her own death and make her get away.

Crazy Sadie Bane

Sadie Bane was born in Sweden in 1821 and the story goes that when she was 16 years old she fell in love with a man named Nells and became pregnant before they were able to marry. Sadie and Nells were deeply in love and one night they went out to dinner at an expensive hotel and tavern. They were sitting at their table quietly chatting and eating their delicious dinner. When a cocky young rich man who had too much to drink made lewd remarks to Sadie. Nells got up and told the lout that he was out of line and had to apologize to her. A fistfight ensued and the rich kid broke his bottle on the back of a chair. He sliced Nells face with the jagged edge of his bottle and then turned and sliced his throat. While Nells lay on the floor bleeding, Sadie ran to help him. The cocky drunk kicked her in the abdomen, killing her unborn baby. Nells died that night and the spoiled rich kid was never tried for the murder because his parents paid off every witness at the bar. After that, it is said Sadie had a marked emotional change and was never the same again. She worked as a servant for well-to-do families in Sweden and moved from one job to the next until one day she was hired by the parents of the drunkard who had killed Nells and her unborn child. The Drunkard's name turned out to be Dane and he never recognized her. One day Dane was home alone while Sadie was cleaning the house. His family went on an outing leaving Dane fast asleep in bed recovering from last night's hangover. Sadie woke him with a smile and offered him a warm cup of steaming tea. He graciously accepted as a hangover makes one very thirsty. As he swallowed it all down and lay the cup on the night table, he began to shake. Within moments the shaking becomes violent convulsions as he writhes in pain and curled up into fetal position. Sadie cackled with an evil grin telling Dane who she was as he was dying. Sadie ran away and collected the money she had saved up and buried. Disguising herself, she quickly traveled to another town. Living on the lam until she purchased fare on a ship sailing to America.

When Sadie arrived in New York she soon wed to a man named Robert Sherman and they had a child and named him Louis. They lived together for several years. The life insurance business was just beginning back then, so they purchased a policy on Robert. Soon they managed to purchase a second policy and for a short time the insurance policies over-lapped. On the very last day that the two policies were both in effect, Robert died of a sudden mysterious stomach illness. At first, his death was questioned until his doctor informed the police that Robert had a heart condition and this had caused his death.

Sadie collected the money and purchased a large farm in the Midwest. In 1847 Sadie and her young child Louis proceeded to travel to their new home. They traveled with a group of farmers on a small wagon train heading west. On the trip, Sadie met another suitor named Edward and he moved in with them and helped to fix the old farm and build a large fireplace in their new family room. Soon Edward suddenly died of stomach ailments and Sadie collected on his insurance.

With her farm in running order, she began the hard labor of working a hog farm and smoking the bacon. Sadie knew she needed help to work the farm and bring in the financial bacon. Nights she would sit by the crackling fireplace warming her bones and writing letters to new potential suitors. She published several ads in papers all across the country offering her love as a mail-order bride. As letters arrived from men who sought her hand in marriage she would sit by the glow of her fire and reply.

One of Sadie's love letters to her suitor

Dearest Gustav,

Your letter has arrived me today. How I dream of you day and nights. I can think of nothing else and I find myself singing love songs when I think your name. You are dearest man in all the world. I wait and hold my breath for you to come to me. I am woman with my own farm and lots of land. I cook the food that we eat. We can sit by the fire and enjoy each other every day. Please bring money to help me pay for our farm. Farm work is hard and it is hard for me alone to do. Tell me how much money you do have? We can live life together and be happy in love for ever.

I love you deep for always and make you happy life.

All my love is waiting

Your Sadie

Sadie's fireplace becomes Hell's Furnace

One bright spring day Gustav arrived with house and carriage. He had brought $5000 with him and several trucks of his finest clothing. He brought a gold wedding band for Sadie and a locket of silver and gold. Gustav was a butcher and taught Sadie the techniques used to butcher hogs. They raised many pigs and chickens on their 70 acre farm and life seemed very good. They visited the local bank and deposited all of Gustav's money, as back in those days $5000 was very much money. They paid off the farm and purchased insurance policies on the two of them and young Louis. During their time together, Sadie became a proficient butcher. She would dissect the old hogs on a bloody table in their dark musty basement. Then place the fresh meat on the grill of the fireplace. Cooking it well on the roaring fire before smoking outside in their smokehouse.

One evening Sadie cooked up a big pot of bacon pork stew over the fire. Gustav and young Louis sat at the kitchen table waiting patiently. Sadie served them each a steaming wooden bowl of soup. At a counter and with her back to them she added the spices to their stew. Secretly she poured arsenic into Gustav's meal and set it down in front of him. They all sat down and ate their delicious meal. Then Gustav retired into the family room to relax by the crackling fire. As he sat in his rocker and read he began to notice a sick feeling in his stomach and called to Sadie. Sadie sent Louis to his bedroom for the night and went in to comfort Gustav. She handed him a hot cup of tea and told him to drink it all down to sooth his nausea. She sat down next to him watching as he quickly downed his tea. Soon he began shaking violently and curled up into a ball. Sadie glared at him with malice in her eyes and a dark grin on her face. As he convulsed she began to laugh and sing to drown out the sound of his moaning, as she watched him writhing and die. Then she dragged his body down the steps to the basement and placed it on the bloody table. There she proceeded to dissect him into small pieces that she placed within the large black cauldron she had cooking in the fireplace. When the sick concoction was cooked she took it outside, as it was now time to feed the hogs.

Perfecting her skill of bait and kill

Sadie continued for a time advertising in newspapers as a lonely widow seeking love. Replying that she was seeking their hand in marriage and always asking they bring much money to help her in her financial straights. When they arrived she would act the part of a sweet helpless woman and charm them into trusting her. Then she either poisoned them or simply bashed their skulls in while they were sleeping soundly. She would then steal their money and belongings. After some time she began to collect many horses. The victims living family members became suspicious and alerted the authorities. She was questioned by local police and prosecutors, but always convinced them she was a poor helpless widow who had a hard life filled with bad luck. The time had come for her to change her tactics.

One day she went into town to deposit her ill gotten small fortune into the bank, when she met a wealthy aging widower by the name of Nicholas. She put on her best smile and charmed him into falling in love with her. Soon Nickolas brought his two daughters and moved in with Sadie on the farm. Within a short time, they married and hired a man named Ramon to help work the farm. Roman worked hard building a small barn and fences to graze the animals.

Nickolas was a good generous man who trusted Sadie explicitly. Sadie playing the perfect wife talked Nickolas into purchasing a large insurance policy in case, God forbid, he would meet his demise before her. How would this feeble woman survive on her own? After a few months, Nickolas suddenly came down with a fatal stomach ailment and died. Sadie collected a large sum of money and acted the part of the grieving widow. A few months later, Sadie informed her neighbors that she sent both of her stepdaughters off to a fine finishing school in New York. They were never seen again. Sadie's son Louis was a young man by now and went off to join the army, or so the neighbors thought. Sadie now lived alone with only Ramon helping her on the farm. Ramon was becoming infatuated with Sadie, as she needed him and treated him well.

A brother of Nickolas was suspicious of the sudden death of him and the disappearance of his nieces. He checked and found no trace of the girls. He had corresponded with Sadie on several occasions but did not believe her letters. So he traveled from Chicago to the farm to speak with her himself. She offered him a room for a time and told him she would help search for the girls. One night when he was asleep he suddenly awoke to find Sadie standing over his bed holding a candle in one hand and a meat cleaver in the other and wearing a strange and terrible expression on her face. Sadie suddenly ran from the room saying nothing. He immediately gathered his belongings and left the farm. When he arrived back in Chicago he notified the authorities about his suspicions, but there was no evidence to be found.

Sadie went back to her old bait and kill tactics. Inviting unwitting suitors to bring money and then poison them. Occasionally she would simply drug them and bash their heads in while they were fast asleep. She learned from her mistake of not drugging the brother of Nickolas, who then escaped. By now the authorities were becoming more and more suspicious and began investigating. Ramon would do anything for Sadie and helped her carry the dead bodies down to the cellar and place them on her butchering table. Then Sadie cooked up food for her hogs, while Ramon buried unused body parts in ditches on the farm.

Local children's spooky song

Crazy Sadie Bane

Disguised love of the insane

Should you give her your name

In Hell's Furnace you will burn

lost ashes never return

mixed with her old sow's grain.


The farm burns to the ground.

It was now September of 1858. People were beginning to ask many questions about so many men gone missing after they traveled to visit Sadie. She concocted a new plan to escape the detectives, who by now were becoming very suspicious. On several occasions, she went to the constable and complained that she feared for her life. Telling them that Ramon had threatened to burn her farm down and kill her. She was setting the scene to burn her own place down and fake her death. While blaming the crime on clueless Ramon.

Next, she went about selling all but one of her wagons and horses. She sold her stolen jewelry, all except her most treasured belongings. Then she went to the bank and withdrew all of her money. While borrowing money on the farm, telling the banker she was planning to expand her home and barn. One day Sadie sent Ramon out on a hunting trip in the wilderness and asked him to return with much game in three days for a celebration that she was planning.

While Ramon was out hunting a woman arrived at Sadie's house and she was hired as a live-in servant. Early in the morning before Ramon returned from his hunting trip, a huge fire broke out and burned the house and barn to the ground. Ramon arrived and seeing the fire he tried to rescue Sadie, but could not. Because the farmhouse was engulfed in flames. So he dropped his bloody game and ran from the scene.

When the sheriff arrived with his detectives they found the beheaded corpse of a dead woman in the remains. The headless corpse was lying on the ground in front of the chimney. The fireplace was the only thing that remained intact. They could not find the head of the headless corpse. Soon they arrested Ramon and questioned him. They found blood on his clothes and his hunting knife. He told them he was there and saw the fire, but pleaded innocent. He claimed that Sadie was still alive, but no one believed him. He was found guilty and eventually died in prison for the murder of Sadie Bane.

As they searched the grounds of the farm they found over 40 corpses and three of them were children. Sadie had even murdered her own child and stepchildren. Years later after Ramon had died they found the missing head of the burned corpse thought to be Sadie at the bottom of a lake. Using the newest techniques of identification they found that it was not the head of Sadie Bane. As it was determined to be the head of a much younger woman. Sadie was still alive and successfully made her escape. She was never found, never arrested for her crimes.


Hell's Furnace was said to be haunted

Local stories grew and people reported hearing screaming in the dark early hours of morning. One man told that as he was riding on the road past the old house he heard a blood curdling scream by the old burnt out chimney. When he looked up he saw a headless woman screaming and coming towards him. He spurred his horse faster and raced down the road to safety.

Others reported hearing evil laughing followed by shrieks and screams coming from the old chimney. It was said a group of rambunctious boys went out late at night to explore the old ruin on a dare. All five of them came running back to town shaking with eyes wide in sheer terror. They told of seeing a headless woman floating around the chimney in the company of several other shrieking ghosts. The chimney was burning with an unearthly fire glowing in the dark night. The eerie ghost saw the boys and chased them all the way back to town. Another story told of a woman who happened to be walking on the road in the late hours of the night and witnessed sounds of men howling and crying while seeing ghostly images flying through the air around the old furnace.

One late night a couple in a carriage leaving on their honeymoon rode past the old burned down farm. They exclaimed that they first heard screams and saw a blazing fire burning in the old fireplace. They noticed images and what looked like pigs eating from a trough and could hear ominous grunts coming from them. When the ghost of a headless woman came racing towards them muttering in a mysterious supernatural tone. Their horse bolted and ran throwing them out of the carriage. The woman explained that when she was thrown out of the carriage she was dazed from she hitting her head on a log by the road. She awoke to a clammy touch on her shoulder. She jumped up with the ghost of a deteriorating man standing before muttering in incomprehensible whispers. She looked around and saw her bridegroom walking in a trance towards the old furnace, as if an invisible force were pulling him along. She saw the headless woman beckoning into the furnace. She ran over to her husband with the ghosts of hogs circling her as if trying to stop her. She quickly grabbed her husband and slapped on the face to awaken him. He looked sat her with eyes like saucers and they both ran the 2 miles to the next town. When they arrived to the town they reported the incident and found that others had had similar experiences and told such stories.

So a group of brave adventures went to the farm one dark night to prove the stories wrong. They returned to town a few hours later with expressions of fear their eyes wide open with faces as white as a sheet. They never laughed at the stories again or returned to the old chimney.The locals deemed the place to be haunted and no one has lived on that lot since. Old Hell's Furnace is said to be cursed by the demon woman who is called Crazy Sadie Bane.

Sadie Bane was never seen again in the region of her old haunted farm. But, a few years later there sprouted similar tales of a crazy evil murderess far away in Oregon. This concludes my story of Crazy Sadie Bane and her haunted Hell's Furnace.

The Real Hell's Belle

Belle Gunnes and her children
Belle Gunnes and her children | Source


My research was done on Wikipedia and also the History channel's TV documentary on Belle Gunness and her murders for money.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2015 Randy Horizon


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