Gertrude Louise “Trudy” Beer

Gertrude Louise “Trudy” Beer

Aliquippa, Beaver County, Pennsylvania, USA
Death 25 Jan 1940 (aged 21)
Willimantic, Windham County, Connecticut, USA
Burial Rockville, Tolland County, Connecticut, USA
Memorial ID 46636511 · View Source
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Obituary of Gertrude Louise Beer
Hartford Courant (Conn.), Jan. 26, 1940

Rockville Girl Dies In 3-Story Fall

Gertrude L. Beer, 21, Goes Through Dormitory Window at Willimantic Teacher's College

Willimantic, Jan. 25 (Special.) - Miss Gertrude Louise Beer, 21 of Rockville, who was graduated with honors from Rockville High School and who was to receive her diploma from the Willimantic State Teacher's College in June, was fatally injured Thursday in a fall from a third floor window of the residence of the college.

President George H. Shafer, who conducted an investigation, said the girl "fell or jumped" from a third story window on the east side of the dormitory and landed on the concrete court of the college grounds shortly before 7 a.m. She died in Windham Community Memorial Hospital at 2:25 p.m. Hospital and college authorities were unable to question her before she died because of the seriousness of her condition.

Her screams awakened some of the students who went to her assistance. She was popular with the students as well as the members of the family.

Members of her family said that of late she had been having nightmares and experiencing nervousness. Fellow students said she had been sleep-walking recently.

Miss Beer was born in Alquippa, Pa., December 5 '1918 the daughter of Mrs. Louisa Beer and the late Julius F. Beer. She came to Rockville with her family 15 years ago. She was graduated in 1936 from Rockville High School where she was active in the Dramatic Club.

Mr. Beer, who conducted a bakery in Rockville, died last year. She leaves besides her mother, a brother Julius Beer.

Miss Beer was a member of the First Lutheran Church, Rockville.

The funeral will be held on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at her home, 14 Talcott Avenue, with Rev. Karl Otto Klette, pastor of the First Lutheran Church, officiating. Burial will be in Grove Hill Cemetery, Rockville.

Newspaper Article
Campus Lantern (Conn.), Nov. 29, 1984
A Publication of Eastern Conn. State University

"Gertie" lives on in Burr Hall legend
By Chris Strapp

The story of Gertrude L. Beer, easily the most famous of the so-called "Ghosts of Burr Hall" is in actuality not a ghost story but a tragedy. A tragedy that happened almost 44 years ago in Burr Hall, it is a tragedy that is timeless; one that could happen today, that happened yesterday and that will happen again tomorrow.

Gertrude L. Beer is not "Gertie the Ghost," as she is so commonly called. She was truly a person - a troubled person with problems faced by many college students today. She was an average student who apparently felt the pressures of life much more than anyone seemed to realize.

According to her roommate, Mary, "Trudy," as they called her, was depressed before the time of her death. The schoolwork was getting to her and she had become distraught and withdrawn. Before this time Mary described her as a bubbly, beautiful person.

But on the night of her death her roommate said Trudy couldn't sleep, and that she had wandered all over the building.

Then, sometime early in the morning, Trudy decided to take her own life. She jumped from the 3rd floor bathroom window and landed on the concrete courtyard below.

Her roommate Mary was awakened sometime later by Trudy's screams of agony and anguish. Mary went to her; it was snowing and Mary lifted her head from the snow and said, "Trudy, what happened?" Trudy's response and perhaps her final words were "Don't tell my mother."

Not the words of a girl who truly wanted to die, and certainly not the words of some evil ghost, but the words of a deeply troubled girl in need of help. Gertrude L. Beer, 21, died a few hours later at Windham Memorial Community Hospital of shock brought on from multiple compound fractures of four limbers.

When Miss Beer jumped from the 3rd story window she immortalized herself in the history of Burr Hall. She became a legend which in turn became a ghost story passed on from class to class over the last 40 years.

As the story has been handed down over the years it has been expanded upon.

Other ghosts have been added to the list; the cleaning ladies one who is said to have had a heart attack and was found dead in a broom closet; the girl who fell down the stairs breaking her neck.

There are also three other girls who are said to have died in Burr Hall; one by stabbing, one by hanging and one by choking. None of these have been found to be factual. There are no names, no dates, and apparently no documentation; there is only word of mouth.

For "evidence" there are the sights and sounds that have been heard and seen over the years by the residents of Burr Hall. There are the anonymous toilet flushings, the basic heavy breathing heard in and around the rooms, and the not infrequent eyewitness sightings of ghostly figures fluttering down the hall, out of closets, and around the rooms.

Those who have heard or seen such things would swear on the Holy Bible that it is in fact the truth. And those that heard it directly from the eyewitnesses are so convinced that they would swear right along side them and so on down the line.

Are there ghosts in Burr Hall? Maybe Gertrude Beer does wander the halls of Burr from time to time in search of something; in search of what God only knows. Or maybe she doesn't.

Some call it a farce, some call it a legend, others call it a ghost, and still others just call it strange.

Strange though it may be, don't let it bother you, for there are a lot stranger things that go "bump" in the night.

Unpublished Article
Author Unknown

"The Ghost of Burr Hall"
Due to the fact that few people are willing to be photographed and also the difficulty of finding photographic material that will lend itself to our project, we have decided to limit the visual portion of it.

We've been interested in ghosts and ghost stories for quite some time, and naturally when the ghost of Burr Hall was mentioned in our folklore class we decided to look into it. I contacted my neighbor who wishes to remain anonymous, therefore we will refer to her as Mrs. Y. She told us the following story about an unfortunate incident that happened while she was employed at the college after I had asked her if she knew of anyone who had died while a student at the college.

"One evening Gertrude Beer and her roommate entered Burr Hall through the main entrance and ran up the stairs to the second floor and entered their room which was across the hall from the bathroom. It was a normal night with the normal amount of noise in the dorm. Miss Beer and her roommate went to bed and some time during the night, it was assumed during the hours of 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., Miss Beer got up and left the room. She was heard by her roommate who assumed that Gertrude had gotten up to go to the bathroom and would return in a few minutes. Miss Beer's roommate, unworried by the movement of her friend, went back to sleep. Gertrude Beer walked up the main stairs to the third floor. She walked down the entire length of the corridor and down to the third floor landing where she stopped and raised one of the shades. Miss Beer returned to the third floor and entered the bathroom, walked over to the window and opened it. She either jumped or fell out of the opened window and fell to the cement below near the serving room. There the poor girl lay until she was found alive later that morning. Dr. Smith was sent for along with the ambulance from Windham Hospital. Dr. Smith gave Miss Beer a shot to quiet her and to relieve her pain. She was then taken to the hospital where she later died. Later that morning Mrs. Y entered the third floor bathroom to clean it as was her job as cleaning lady. When she started to clean she noticed iced blue fur on the window sill in the left-hand corner. Gertrude had been wearing blue furry slippers at the time of her accident. Mrs. Y said that Gertrude Beer was a lovely young girl who was to graduate in June. She also said that Gertrude was in good academic standing and was known and loved by all. As to why Miss Beer jumped out of the window, no one seemed to know. It was, however, rumored that a member of the faculty had scolded Miss Beer for something the night of her accident. she didn't believe in ghosts, but if Miss Beer had returned to haunt the halls of Burr Hall, it must be to finish her education. She also said that for the longest time none of the cleaning women would go up to the third floor bathroom or out near the serving room alone. After doing more research we came up with the date of Miss Beer's death, January 25, 1940. The January 26th edition of the Hartford Daily Courant carried an account of the occurrence. The article said that she, "fell or jumped" shortly before 7 a.m. and died at the hospital at 2:45 p.m. It further stated that members of her family said that of late she had been having nightmares and experiencing nervousness. Fellow students said that she had been sleepwalking recently. Jan and Bert, two college students living in Burr Hall, contacted us since they felt that they could be of some help. The following interview resulted:

Well, the first thing that happened here to us when we came here was at the end of summer vacation and we were moving in. Bert and I had a room and the toilet flushed and we were in here and we didn't think anything of it. And you know, we have our bathroom over there and we looked and we saw it flushing again and nobody was there. It was just flushing away by itself and we thought it was like, you know, there was a bathroom upstairs and we thought there was some difficulty with the pipes.

One night we heard this like heavy breathing, heavy breathing at the door. So we thought it was the proctor checking up on us because we were making too much noise. And we thought it was her. We always locked our door at night and then we thought that the ghost came. It was the day after the _____. I can't remember the date and Debbie and I went to bed early and she sleeps on the top bunk here and I'm on the bottom bunk and Bert's on top over there. And Bert stayed up late to study and Debbie and I went to bed. I guess it was about 12. We were sleeping and I'm usually a light sleeper, but I didn't hear Bert come in and I felt this tapping on my head while I was sleeping and I didn't open my eyes right away and I felt it again. So I opened my eyes and I saw this ______ sitting right back right in that space. There was this dark form. It was almost like a ______, black and it didn't have any definite outline or anything and I was half asleep and I said, "Bert." I'm getting scared, you know? And Bert was laying on that bed sleeping. It could take a ton of bricks to wake me up, I don't wake up easy. And I woke up and Jan was tripping over the chair and the light goes on and I said, "What's wrong?" They're both standing there screaming. Well, you know, by the time I finished screaming, the thing had vanished. So nobody else saw it. We got out of bed and we were all shaking. We're nervous just talking about it. When I came to bed, I came to bed at 2:00 and this happened 20 minutes to three. I came in at 2:00 and this ladder that goes up to that bed was to get up top, well, when I came in that ladder was in the bathroom and I thought these guys were playing a joke on me. So I took the ladder out and I put it back and I got into bed. And after all this happened I went to get out of bed and the ladder was gone. It was really strange. The next day we had a class together in the afternoon and we came back from class and we came back, I guess, around three, I checked my clock to see what time it was and the clock had stopped at the same time when the ghost had come the night before at 20 minutes to three. You know, it stopped and we said, "Oh God."

There was another incident when my clock was missing. My brother gave me this clock for Christmas one year and I liked it a lot and I remembered packing it for school, at least I thought I did, I'm almost convinced that I did. I went home for a weekend and I got home and I got home and I didn't have it. So this guy brought me home and we went through his car and looked for it and it wasn't there so I asked the girl that answered the phone to go to my room and look and see if the clock was there and she came and she looked around, she looked on the bureau, she looked in the desk and she said, "No, I'm sorry, it's not here." So by that time I figured that I lost it. So by that time I figured I lost it. So I came back Sunday night and it was sitting right on my desk.

We were here one weekend alone and we were both laying in bed almost asleep and I hear _____, someone's taking a bath and she said, "Yeah, so what?" You know how you hear the clothes drier in the bathroom We really did think it was a ghost. We have double doors in our room and we would have heard somebody come in or go out and my chest is right there, right where my head is on the small pillow and there's only one rocker, Debbie has to use the chair because there's only a small space between the chest and the chair. We have newspapers on the floor over there and we heard the shuffling and the doors open and close. There are a lot of rumors about two people that have died on this floor, on this second floor that we know of. They found a maid in the closet, I don't know how long ago it was, but I guess she had a heart attack and she died in the broom closet. They said there was a girl that lived in here and this was several years and she was in this room and she had an asthma attack and she died on the way to the hospital and they associated it with the breathing we heard. I don't know how true it is. It makes the curiosity of it all, like why did it tap me on the head? I never believed in ghosts before ever. I'm really convinced now that there are ghosts in this room. I know there is.

But I believed in them before but not firsthand experience. After that, no doubt. After that we were all really scared so we all slept together in this bed. All three of us together for weeks. we didn't want to be left alone so we all bunched together for two weeks. we were really scared. Right after it happened we turned the light on and we were all shaking. There was this knock on the door and I screamed again. She walked in the room, Mrs. Fritsche, and she had on this black cotton duster and she had the white powdery face. I opened the door and she comes in, I couldn't talk to her. Bert had to talk to her. And she says to me, "What's going on up here? Someone have a nightmare?" I told her, "No. I think a ghost just touched my roommate." And she looked at me kind of funny, like, "You're all right kid." So she says, "Ghost? I doubt it." She said, "Well keep it quiet." She asked us if we had been drinking or smoking.

Before hearing the previous interview we were fairly certain that the ghost of Burr Hall was Gertrude Beer. After the interview we find that we are not sure of whom the ghost is or whether one exists. Jan and Bert had told us that they had heard heavy breathing at their door so we checked the validity of the story concerning the asthmatic victim and found it to be true. We are not able to find out if Jan and Bert's room was the same as the asthmatic victim's. Due to the recentness of the incident and the lack of public knowledge, we feel that we should not reveal her identity. We checked with Mrs. Fritsche, who was housemother at the time that Jan and Bert had their experience and she recalled that something did happen in their room on October 16. We have heard other incidents connected with the deaths at Burr Hall which might be related in someway to the ghost stories. These include the stabbing of a girl while residing in the dorm which has been circulated among other college students in Connecticut as well as in Vermont. A girl who hung herself on the first floor and is reported to be haunting there. And also a girl who jumped from one of the rooms on the third floor and who is said to haunt that room and the room directly below it. The similarities between the stories of Gertrude and the asthmatic victim are: Both were good students, both were well liked by all, and both were happy and cheerful. The contrasts within the asthmatic victim's stories are: The time of her actual death, and what she actually ate which caused her attack.

We then had an interview with another girl who lived at Burr Hall, but now resides elsewhere. The other girls mentioned in this interview had long since left Burr Hall. Whether it was due to their encounters with the ghost or for other reasons, we do not know.

There were, let me see, about six girls that were friendly all together. There's two girls that lived on the second floor and second semester of last year they started waking up in the middle of the night, for no apparent reason, waking up in a cold sweat and the next minute, you know, they'd be having the chills and then they'd be warm and everything, and they looked up, well, first one girl looked up and she saw like a grayish white form, well, sort of suspended in like mid air. And, on the opposite side of the room in a corner, she woke up her roommate and she had her look and she found the same thing. She asked her what she saw. She didn't say, "I see this, do you?" They both agreed and they took off from the room and they came upstairs hysterical. They thought they saw a ghost. And after we talked to them and everything we said, "They have seen a ghost." They slept up in our room that night. They saw this a couple more times. It wasn't like every single day. They'd see it one day, maybe they wouldn't hear anything for the next couple of weeks. One girl went in the room to get something, not the two that lived there, another person went in the room. As they were leaving they saw the same thing in the same corner. And they were extremely nervous and scared about the thing, they really didn't know what it was. I didn't really believe in it until one night I was getting ready for bed and I felt this horrible feeling, you know, like when you feel like something's in back of you, like something was going to touch me and I just got the chills and goosebumps all over me and I just couldn't believe and I ran to my roommate. We whipped on our red nightgowns because red keeps away evil like the same as things white opposed to the black which would attract. And we started getting into this more, too, because like it was happening, you know, like we were believing in it. One morning I woke up, it was a few weeks later, and I heard like someone breathing at the foot of my bed. It was like very harsh, rasping voice, like gasping and I just thought it was my roommate because I was on the top bunk and her head was like down where my feet were. I just figured it was my roommate who hadn't gone to classes. And I just went back to sleep because I had, you know, a while yet to get up. And when I did get up and I was getting ready for classes and everything and I saw my roommate walk in and I asked her, you know, "Gee, where have you been?" And she told me she had been in the science building in classes all morning. And the time I heard this was about 8:30 and I'd say she had an 8:00 class so she wasn't in the room. My other roommate hadn't been in the room. So I thought that may be I heard the ghost. There are two other stories about the ghost that we had heard. One is that the cleaning lady had fallen down the stairs and was found the next morning by the security guard dead in the basement. And no one knows if she had been pushed or if she had just fell herself or what. The other story which we were able to follow up through, one woman in this school, was that there was a girl that had died. She had, she was a first semester freshman, and she was eating a candy bar and she choked on the peanuts in it and she had an asthma attack and they rushed her to the hospital and she died. And, they have records of this and everything. So that's who I had thought maybe that I heard in the room. Meanwhile we were getting quite frightened about this all the time. You know, there was something haunting us. And we finally had a seance and I think there were four girls that participated and another girl and myself we just watched. We weren't sure if we wanted to participate or not. And they used a board and they had a metal disc in their hands on the desk and they were concentrating, trying to attract a spirit so they could talk to her. Afterward they compared the reactions. One girl said she started singing like a peace song and it just kept going through her mind, all the words. Another girl looked up and she looked at everyone and all of a sudden she had this really like hateful look on her face and she looked at the other girl I was sitting with, who was one that had seen the ghost, and she looked at her like with these really like hateful, like mean awful looks and she still looked at me indifferent and she looked around again and she looked at one of the girls who was participating and also a close friend of hers, and all of a sudden she stopped and said, "I have to go. I have to go." You know, like what was the matter? And she was like really frightened with herself because all of a sudden she had this urge to start hitting the close friend of hers. So she left. One girl was sitting there and all of a sudden you know, like she was, she looked very happy and peaceful, and all of a sudden she put her head down and she started crying. All of a sudden she just stopped it and she couldn't go on and she said she had really nice feelings, very beautiful pictures and everything like that, blissful. And all of a sudden she said she had this feeling like horrible sorrow, that her dog had just died she said and she just started crying and it was something like interfering, it was like something coming on that was bad and she was afraid it might have been like, say, the woman who had been like the revengeful spirit, that she was like chasing the other one away from us and she thought that the girl was really lonesome, that she just wanted to talk to someone, she wanted to have a friend, she wanted to contact something and she felt she could contact us. Let me see, one girl got up in the middle of the night at another time and she wanted to go to the girl's room I guess, and she walked down to the end of the hall in front of the doorway where this ghost had been seen. She saw it outside the doorway and like she got really scared and then all of a sudden it just went down the hall, it just moved all the way down the hall and disappeared. During the summer they had the summer school. There were some boys living on the second floor and they claim that in the middle of the night the toilet kept flushing. And they'd get up and like nobody would be seen, you know, who's in here? And nobody would answer. And there was a light over the sinks that no matter how many bulbs you put in it a day, they'd burn out. We had heard that one story how, well this is like a third story of how there was a girl that had, I don't know whether she was flunking out of school or what but she committed suicide. She jumped out of the window of the second floor bathroom and there was a piece of blue lint or something from her slippers or something on the doorway. So whether that, like I don't know exactly what it is, but that is the same, you know, floor that, you know, kept hearing all the noises from. Then this year in my room the girls that were living there said, my former room, they were sleeping or something and all of a sudden they saw out of the closet, you know they woke up, and out of the closet they saw almost like a Ku Klux Klan figure all in black coming out of the closet. I'm so glad it was this year and not last year, she couldn't sleep all night long. She was tossing and turning, she just couldn't sleep and she was just sort of lying in bed and all of a sudden she looked and she saw these two arms reaching over her bed at her. It wasn't as though she had just woken up and she was hallucinating or anything, she hadn't fallen asleep so, and like she couldn't scream, she couldn't do anything. And these arms just kept, you know, all she saw were the hands coming over the top of the bed at her and she just kept moving like over and she just like put her head under the covers or something and she looked around again and it was gone. "At any time did the ghost touch anybody?" No. A ghost cannot do any physical harm. It can do like, obviously, mental harm, it can drive you crazy. But no, it's never touched anyone. "At any time have you heard of missing objects?" No. We thought we had found something like, in the room where the ghost had appeared. We found something, we didn't know whose it was. It was a pocketbook. Like a change purse and it took us about two months until we finally located whose it was. We don't know if the girl left it in the room or not. At first I thought it was something but it wasn't. We noticed that there was a door in the basement. Every time we went down to do our laundry we made sure there was at least one other person doing their laundry with you at the same time. It was like, did you see Rosemary's Baby? And that's exactly what we felt like, you know? We were going down there and it was so creepy because we felt that that is where the spirit of the cleaning lady dwelled in the basement and it's like we were really scared to go down there. And we noticed at the top of the landing for the basement, right near the back door, there used to be a door and it was all completely bricked in. This year we noticed that it's not only bricked in but it's now plastered and painted on top of the bricks. And so we said, "Ah ha. Where does that door go to? What was it from?" We tried to see like maybe you know, that something, you saw these little things that built on your imagination too. All of these things, you know, you don't know what's in each individual person's mind. "Were there any specific reasons why you chose the fourth floor to hold your seance?" Mainly just because it was secluded and quiet and we felt that at that time of the day that if there were any people, I mean if there were any spirits around that they probably would be up in the attic. It may be concluded from this project that there is a ghost haunting Burr Hall, but which ghost is it?

There is more information on Gertrude Louise Beer in the archives, located in the J. Eugene Smith Library of Eastern Connecticut State University. The dormitory that she jumped or fell from is Burr Hall located at 83 Windham Street, Willimantic, Connecticut.

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1886 JULIUS A. 1939

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
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  • Added: 13 Jan 2010
  • Find a Grave Memorial 46636511
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Gertrude Louise “Trudy” Beer (5 Dec 1918–25 Jan 1940), Find a Grave Memorial no. 46636511, citing Grove Hill Cemetery, Rockville, Tolland County, Connecticut, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave (contributor 8) .