Seul Choix

Although I’ve lived all my life in a state where more than 100 lighthouses dot the coastline, I had never actually visited one before venturing to Seul Choix Point, my first stop in the Upper Peninsula. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got there. The Point’s 100-year-old lighthouse is reportedly one of the most haunted places in Michigan and was even featured on an episode of Fox Family’s Scariest Places on Earth. Even coming straight from spending a relatively quiet night alone at the haunted Blue Pelican Inn, I was feeling some trepidation as I approached my next destination. The battered blue sign telling me that Seul Choix’s historic lighthouse lay only 2 miles ahead did little to allay the feeling—neither did the slow drive up an old dirt road.

Seul Choix Point is a narrow, rocky stretch of land that juts out from Lake Michigan’s northern shore into Seul Choix Bay, about a two-hour drive east of St. Ignace. The bay received its name, which means “only choice,” in the 1800s when a group of French fur traders took shelter there during a violent storm that threatened to capsize their small vessel. The bay was their “only choice” for safe refuge along the dangerous stretch of coast, which is known for its rocky shoreline and high waves.

Those same waves make Seul Choix Bay a popular destination for surfers. I found a group of young men out enjoying the waves and warm early autumn weather the day I visited the Point, and I took a few minutes to talk to them. They didn’t know anything about any ghosts at the lighthouse; they were just out to get in a few more days of lake surfing before the weather turned cold.

The Michigan State Congress commissioned the Seul Choix Point Lighthouse in 1886, but it took six years for it to become operational—I think sometimes we forget how much work went into building construction a century ago. The entire complex, which consists of the 79-foot light tower, family quarters, a steam fog signal and boiler house, stable, and a number of other buildings, wasn’t completed until 1895. Additional living quarters were added in 1925. Back then, the Seul Choix Lighthouse was the only guiding light for ships along a 100-mile stretch of treacherous coastline. The nearest towns are Gulliver—whose Historical Society, in cooperation with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), oversees the upkeep of the lighthouse—and Manistique, a popular destination for boaters, campers, and hikers.

I arrived at the end of the long dirt road to find a well-kept yard, brown brick house, and classic white light tower. Maybe it was the sunny weather, but I didn’t feel as if I’d just pulled up in front of one of the “scariest places on earth.” Wondering what I was really going to find, I headed over to the gift shop. Rather than asking about ghosts, my first question was, “How do you pronounce the name of this place?”

The young lady behind the counter laughed. It’s a question she gets a lot. “The easiest way I know to pronounce it is Sis-shaw,” she told me. After getting that cleared up, I explained that I was writing a book about haunted places in Michigan and wondered if she’d ever seen or heard anything unusual in the lighthouse. “Not personally,” she said. Although several guests and other staff members told her they’d heard music, “like an old phonograph recording,” playing in the lighthouse. She said that some people also report that electronic devices, like the digital camera I was carrying, stop working. “The batteries just die for no reason,” she said.

I definitely hoped that wouldn’t become a problem. Of course, I always carry extra batteries, just in case.

“If you really want some good stories, it’s my mom you should talk to,” she went on. “You can find her over at the lightkeeper’s quarters.”

I thanked her for her time and headed on over. The first thing that struck me when I walked into the house was how small the front parlor was. Yet at times in the lighthouse’s history, not only did the lightkeeper and his family live there, but his assistant and his family resided in the small dwelling too. That’s four adults and as many as six children. The lightkeeper’s home has been fully restored and is decorated with beautiful antique furniture—and seems about as far from scary as I could imagine a place to be.

I quickly found Linda, the volunteer I was seeking, sitting in what had probably been a formal dining room. She looked up from her book and greeted me with a warm smile. As soon as I explained the reason for my visit, Linda invited me to have a seat with her so she could tell me about Captain Joseph Willie Townsend, the lighthouse’s primary ghostly resident. She described him as a bit of a prankster, but not a ghost she or any of the other staff had ever been afraid of.

“He was originally from Bristol, England,” she said. “Captain Townsend lived here from 1901 until he died of consumption in one of the upstairs bedrooms in 1910.” Consumption is an old-fashioned term for tuberculosis. “Because he died in winter when the ground was too frozen to dig a grave, the Captain couldn’t be buried straightaway, and his body had to be stored in the basement for several months.” Some of the paranormal investigators who have visited Seul Choix believe that might be why the captain’s spirit remains “trapped” at the lighthouse.

Linda had her own ideas. She told me that the hauntings didn’t really start until a couple of original pieces of furniture were brought up from storage, when the lighthouse was last restored in the 1990s. One of the pieces in question is the kitchen table.

“In England,” Linda went on, “you set a table correctly by putting the knife and spoon on the left and the forks on the right.” That’s the opposite of the way we set a table here in the United States. “The Captain doesn’t seem to like it when we set the table American style. We always find the silverware reversed, even though no one’s been in the kitchen!” She laughed.

Like the other rooms, the kitchen is roped off so that visitors can look but not touch.

Numerous guests and most of the staff have smelled cigar smoke throughout the living quarters, even though no smoking is allowed in the building, and often there isn’t anyone else around. Linda told me that, despite his health problems, Captain Townsend was a heavy cigar smoker, and it seems that, even in death, he enjoys a good cigar.

In the mornings several volunteers have found a “crescent-shaped imprint” on the bedspread in the room they’re pretty sure was the Captain’s. “It looks like someone sat down right on the bed,” Linda said. Some volunteers and visitors have reported seeing a man watching them from one of the windows, about halfway up the light tower—but no one was in the tower at the time.

Probably the eeriest of Linda’s stories was one a guest told her. A woman was visiting the lighthouse sometime last year, and when she pulled in, she noticed a man wearing a heavy blue coat, walking across the yard to the lighthouse. Being friendly, she waved; he ignored her, but she didn’t think that much of it. Like me, she went to the gift shop first, then went over to the lighthouse, looked around, and headed on her way. When she got home, the woman started doing some research on the lighthouse’s history and realized that the man she’d seen in the yard was Captain Townsend! She contacted the lighthouse staff to tell them of her unusual encounter.

“Several people have seen a man wandering the grounds before,” Linda told me, “but this was the first time someone positively identified the Captain, even though they didn’t know who it was at the time.”

I have to admit, hearing that gave me goose bumps!

In addition to Captain Townsend roaming the grounds, rearranging silverware, and ignoring no-smoking signs, volunteers have also found toys strewn all over the floor of the “children’s bedroom” upstairs. Nothing had been out of place the night before, and, by all accounts, the lightkeeper’s quarters had been locked up all night. Linda told me that she thinks the children’s room might be haunted by the spirits of two of the little  girls who grew up in the lighthouse. Although they grew up and moved away, both had recently passed on—and it was just about the time they died that the children’s room became “active.”

I thanked Linda for her time and went to have a look around for myself. Even though I had been told that a number of guests reported feeling the Captain’s presence on the staircase, I didn’t feel anything unusual. My camera continued to work too. I didn’t smell cigar smoke or hear music. Even so, I appreciate antique furniture, so I enjoyed walking around the small house. And I appreciated the staff’s sense of humor when I found the plastic Halloween skeleton hanging in an upstairs bedroom closet! I admit that it got me. I jumped.

When I came back downstairs, Linda let me step into the living room, which is normally roped off, so I could get a better picture of the antique organ, where the portraits of past lightkeepers are on display. She also invited me to climb the tower.

The lighthouse at Seul Choix is a working light station and one of the few where visitors are allowed to climb the tower. Of course, no one lives in the lightkeeper’s quarters today; the station is automated. A hundred years ago, however, the light was fueled by oil, which had to be carried by hand up to the light at the top of the 79-foot tower. Every two hours, the lightkeeper or his assistant hauled two heavy metal buckets up a very narrow spiral staircase.

Because I’d never been to a lighthouse before, I decided to go ahead and make the climb—despite my horrible fear of heights. As I climbed the narrow metal stairs, I marveled at how a man twice my size had made the same trip four or five times a night, carrying heavy buckets filled with oil. I stopped at the midway point to catch my breath and enjoy the view from one of the windows—and got the distinct feeling that I was being watched. But no one else was in the tower with me. Of course, it might have been my imagination; I’d spent the last 40 minutes listening to ghost stories. Although my nerves threatened to get the better of me (because of the height, not the ghosts), I made it to the top. The view of the lake was spectacular. That alone made the drive worthwhile.

The tower and lightkeeper’s quarters are open to visitors from Memorial Day through mid-October. Guests are asked to make a small donation that goes to the Gulliver Historical Society to keep the lighthouse running. In addition to the lighthouse and gift shop, Seul Choix Point has a beautiful public beach, where I stopped to enjoy my lunch and take more pictures before getting back on the road toward Marquette and the Landmark Inn.

In Ghosthunting Michigan, Helen Pattskyn takes readers along as she explores some of her home state’s most haunted locations. Get your copy here.

Photo credits
All black and white photos: Helen Pattskyn
All color photos: Carol M. Highsmith [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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    Belcourt Castle

    Belcourt CastleBelcourt Castle was built between 1891 and 1894 for Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont as a summer home. It was designed by Richard Morris Hunt, who used Louis XIII’s hunting lodge at Versailles as the model. Belmont’s wife, Alva Vanderbilt, added to the original structure with examples of English, Italian, and German architecture. From 1933 to 1955, Belcourt (as it was originally called) passed through several owners and saw more neglect than restoration. The property was purchased in 1956 by the Tinney family of Cumberland, Rhode Island. The Tinneys conducted massive renovations to the whole building and made it a showplace for their extensive collection of antiques.

    Harle Tinney is the last surviving member of the family since her husband’s death in 2006. Mrs. Tinney believes that the ghosts of Belcourt Castle are spirits who are attached to certain items that her late husband, Donald, and his parents brought into the house. One of those items is a small, wooden statue of a monk.

    Monk Statue at Belcourt Castle Believed to be Haunted

    When the statue first came into the Tinneys’ possession, they placed it on display at their previous home. That was the first time they caught sight of the shadowy figure who seems to be linked to the wooden monk. Two weeks after the statue was brought to Belcourt Castle, the dark figure was spotted again. Since then it has been seen no fewer than five times and always within the vicinity of the statue. Donald and Harle Tinney saw the ghost in the Great Hall when the statue was displayed there on a stand by the door to the ladies’ room. At first, they both thought the figure was Donald’s father. However, as the figure opened the door to the restroom the couple could clearly see it was not Mr. Tinney. What also struck them was the fact that the door, which always creaked loudly, emitted no sound. Donald and Harle found no one in the small room when they checked.

    The wooden monk is now kept in the Chapel Room on the first floor. It was moved there after a psychic told the Tinneys that the entity attached to the little monk wanted it placed there. That hasn’t stopped the dark shadow from making an appearance from time to time. The most recent sighting was on July 7, 2007, at seven o’clock in the evening. Belcourt Castle was playing host to a wedding when Harle Tinney saw what she thought was a guest heading in the wrong direction. She moved after the figure as it went into the foyer, but as she reached the spot she found no one there.

    Bloodcurdling Screams from Inside the Ballroom of Belcourt Castle

    belcourt-castle1

    The Gothic Ballroom located on the second floor has had its share of unsettling moments as well. One night in the mid-1990s, Harle Tinney heard three bloodcurdling screams while standing in the middle of the darkened ballroom. Her two dogs reacted to the screaming, but they were far too afraid to enter the room. There is an impressive collection of knights’ armor on exhibit in this room. The suits of armor are all excellent reproductions, except for one helmet that is known to be authentic and does show a battle scar. It is believed the knight who once wore the helmet haunts the armor and what Harle Tinney heard that evening were his death screams.

    The late Donald Tinney once heard the sound of a party in progress in the ballroom. It was late in the evening and the house was very still. When he went to investigate the phantom gathering, the family cat came along with him. It seemed to be well aware of the music and chatter. The cat started growling and the fur on its back and tail stood up when the two of them reached the ballroom. The sound then faded away into nothingness as Donald Tinney opened the doors to the room. This ghostly encounter is believed to have been a trace haunting of a happier moment in the home’s history, possibly from the Gilded Age.

    belcourt-castle2In 1996 a woman who was a guest at a private party being held on the first floor came upstairs to use the ladies’ room that is located in Ruth Tinney’s (Donald’s mother’s) old bedroom. Most of the room is roped off, leaving only the bathroom accessible to the public. As the guest entered the room she noticed there was a lady sitting at Ruth Tinney’s desk. The guest addressed the lady and informed her that no one was allowed behind the ropes. The mysterious lady ignored the woman and her warning. Unnerved by this, the guest went to alert security of the intrusion. A guard was standing close by and lost no time getting to the bedroom. The lady was gone without a trace. No one could have left the room without being seen and there was no place for anyone to hide. When Harle Tinney heard the guest’s description of the lady it was a perfect match for her late mother-in-law. That day was also the one-year anniversary of  Ruth Tinney’s death. Twice in 2010, the bedspread on Ruth Tinney’s bed was seen to be disturbed. A young Englishwoman taking a tour of Belcourt Castle told Harle Tinney that she had witnessed the bedspread move as if someone was getting up off the bed. In July of that same year, Harle Tinney took a couple on a tour of the house; while they were in the bedroom, she mentioned her late mother-in-law. The bedspread, as if on cue, flew right off the bed and landed several feet away on the floor. All Harle Tinney could do was say, “Hi, Mom!”

    belcourt-castle3I spoke with Ken and Dave DeCosta, the father and son co-founders of the Rhode Island Society for the Examination of Unusual Phenomena (R.I.S.E.U.P.). Their paranormal team has been allowed into Belcourt Castle to conduct investigations and public ghost hunts. They told me that they have not seen or caught any of the ghosts on camera, but they have recorded examples of electronic voice phenomenon (EVP) throughout the property. Ken and Dave told me the EVPs that were recorded seem to be of a personal nature, so out of respect for the Tinney family they have declined to give me any further details on what the spirit voices said. The most interesting moment caught by R.I.S.E.U.P. on video was a session involving two electromagnetic field (EMF) meters. A member of the team asked if any spirit present could make the lights flash on one of the meters. After the lights on one of the meters flashed on and off, they asked if the spirit could do the same with the other EMF meter lying nearby on the same table. That meter’s lights flashed on and off while the first meter’s lights stayed off. The team continued asking the spirit to please go back and forth between the two meters and the lights flashed on and off as requested. All cell phones were switched off and no other electromagnetic interference could be found within the room.

    To explore the scariest spots in Southern New England, check out Ghosthunting Southern New England by Andrew Lake.

    Photo credits
    Drawing Belcourt Castle: Public Domain
    Ballroom Belcourt Castle: Public Doman
    Knight armor: Andrew Lake
    Outside picture of Belcourt Castle: Stilfehler at wikivoyage shared [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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      Spotlight on Michigan’s Ada Witch

      Helen Pattskyn, author of Ghosthunting Michigan, shares with us the tale of Michigan’s
      Ada Witch.

      Ghosthunting Michigan
      Ghosthunting Michigan

      The Ada Witch is perhaps one of western Michigan’s most famous ghosts. It is unclear how the title “witch” got attached to her name—or even what her true name might be—but that’s what locals call the adulterous specter who is believed to haunt Findlay Cemetery and Honeycreek Road in Ada Township. Ada is a small community, located a little more than 10 miles east of Grand Rapids and first settled in 1821. It was in those early years that many believe the so-called “witch” met her tragic end, an end she may have brought upon herself.

      One website dedicated exclusively to the legend of the Ada Witch claims that she died in the year 1868. It is impossible to verify that date, however, as neither the woman’s name nor the actual whereabouts of her grave are known for certain. We can only speculate.

      The story says that the woman known as the Ada Witch was having an extramarital affair and would meet secretly with her lover in the marshes outside of town, near what is now Honeycreek Road. When her husband became suspicious of her late-night comings and goings, he followed her and caught her in the arms of her lover. In a jealous rage, the husband murdered first his wife and then the other man. During the struggle with his wife’s lover, the husband was also fatally wounded and died a short while later. Perhaps that’s why some people report not only seeing a mysterious ghostly woman wandering the area, but also a pair of ghostly men—maybe the men are the Ada Witch’s husband and her lover.

      The woman is believed to be buried in Findlay Cemetery, but nothing is noted in the stories about where either of the two men might have been interred. Although no one can prove that the gravestone is hers, locals believe that a broken old headstone near the back of Findlay Cemetery is that of the legendary Ada Witch. Visitors often light candles or leave trinkets for her there.

      Helen PattskynSeveral paranormal investigators have been to the cemetery and believe that it is indeed haunted. There is evidence in the form of orb photos and other unusual phenomena that have been caught on film and on digital cameras. Of course, just as there are many people who believe the story is true, there are just as many who think the Ada Witch is little more than an urban legend.

      In her book Ghosthunting Michigan, author Helen Pattskyn explores 30 of the scariest spots in the Wolverine State, all of which are open to the public—so you can test your own ghosthunting skills, if you dare.

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        Millermore House Dallas

        April Slaughter Encounters Ghost at Millermore House

        MillermoreThe Miller cabin and Millermore house sit among 25 additional historic structures in the Dallas Heritage Village in Old City Park. My husband and I cannot resist a good ghost story, and after I had learned about the experiences of others at Millermore, Allen and I were eager to visit.

        Our attention was immediately drawn to Millermore as soon as it came into view. It’s a majestic and beautiful home located close to the park’s entrance.

        For as long as Millermore has been in the Dallas Heritage Village, there have been stories of apparitions moving about in almost every area of the house. The odd movement of inexplicable lights on the top floor has also often been reported.

        Several paranormal teams have conducted investigations at Millermore in hopes of capturing the various phenomena, and many believe the ghosts of several children may be playing on the property. EVP recordings captured children’s laughter when no children were in or near the home. Many paranormal investigative teams have been allowed onto the property to see if they could capture anything anomalous on film, but the Village and its staff never participate in the investigations. They believe it is important not to sway their visitors one way or another.

        I spoke to a volunteer at the Village who has been assisting on the property for more than 13 years; on the day we arrived to walk through the historic home, she was conducting the visitor tour. It was obvious that she thoroughly enjoyed her volunteer time relaying information to guests eager to learn more. At one point during the tour, a young woman asked the volunteer if she believed the home was haunted. “I’ve often heard strange noises,” she answered. “This is an old house and the floor creaks a lot. I don’t know if it is anything paranormal. I just carry about my business and try not to pay too much attention.”

        millermore-house-interiorI was particularly intrigued when we reached the upstairs level and stood in the large open breezeway running through the center of the house. There are several shadowbox frames showcasing intricately woven human hairpieces hanging on the wall, collected by a family in the Dallas Metroplex. While not historically tied to the house itself, they are beautiful yet eerie, ornate artifacts that made me uneasy. I wasn’t sure what they were at first glance, and upon closer inspection I realized that I had never seen anything like them before.

        As I stood there staring at the unusual pieces, I felt the distinct sensation of someone brushing my hair away from the back of my neck. Allen hadn’t been near me, as he was busy wandering around the bedrooms taking pictures, and the remainder of the group had already moved on down the hallway. I stood there doing my best to keep still, hoping the experience would repeat itself, but it didn’t. My initial uneasy feeling soon melted away.

        The tour guide gathered our group in the hallway where she pointed out a small day bed situated just below a window at the rear of the house. She explained that it was a piece originally owned by William Miller and that he often enjoyed an afternoon nap there, cooled by the breezes that flowed through. When we had first ascended the staircase, the quilt lay neatly atop the bed, as though the bed had just been made. After spending approximately 20 minutes upstairs, we all made our way back to the staircase and past the day bed. I noticed that in the middle of the bed, a slight yet noticeable impression had been made in the quilt as if someone had been sitting on it. I made no mention of it at the time, hoping someone else would point it out and validate my thoughts. But no one else seemed to notice, and we all shuffled back down the stairs to the main floor.

        Ghosthunting Texas
        Ghosthunting Texas

        My experiences at Millermore impressed me, as I had constantly been aware of the movements of the people in the tour group and yet, something unseen had approached me. I believe without a doubt that someone wanted us
        to notice that they were there. While I didn’t have the opportunity to speak to the other visitors individually, I had the sense that they, too, felt a spiritual presence in the house. They walked through the home with quiet reverence and continually looked backward as if they were expecting to see a spirit from the past walking along behind them.

        As we descended the steps of the front porch, I turned around to take another look at the house. I wondered who had touched my hair and if that person had been the same individual who sat on the day bed. I felt a reverence for the history of the house, for the work that went into both building and preserving it, and for the family that may still call it home.

        April Slaughter explores more scary tales from the Lone Star State in her book Ghosthunting Texas. Join her from the safety of your armchair, or hit the road using the travel guide and her ghostly resources.

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          Marfa Lights Unexplained for Decades

          The Mystery of the Texas Marfa Lights

          Marfa lights
          Marfa lights observation deck

          In the 1950s, reports of a strange phenomenon occurring in Presidio County began to attract a lot of attention. Strange balls of various colored light appeared at night—sometimes moving erratically or hovering completely still in the air. Witnesses have often reported that these balls of light appear in pairs or even larger numbers and can be seen ranging from a matter of seconds to hours before finally disappearing.

          The Marfa Lights, also known as the Marfa Ghost Lights, have never appeared in the daytime and seem to be a strictly nocturnal phenomenon. No clear explanation has ever been provided, but many believe the lights to be a manifestation of spirit activity and contend that they are indeed a paranormal occurrence. Skeptics often attribute the phenomenon to passing vehicles or lights from nearby homesteads or changes in atmospheric conditions, but the strange and unpredictable pattern of movements make it difficult to say one way or another.

          The lights appear randomly in the nighttime hours, and they occur year-round. They are not easily approached, however, as they appear above private property. They are often seen at varying distances and have been captured over the years in both still photography and video footage. Some visitors contend that upon witnessing the Marfa Lights, they have had profoundly personal spiritual experiences and do not believe they should simply be dismissed as a scientific mystery.

          april-slaughterWhatever the explanation may be behind the Marfa Lights, they continue to attract curious onlookers and visitors from all over the state of Texas. A fascinating display of color and movement, the Marfa Lights may indeed be something purely environmental, but what if they’re not? Perhaps the ghosts of Presidio County often gather together in an attempt to make themselves known in the late-night hours. We may never know what the lights truly are, but as long as they continue to appear we are sure to be continually mystified by them.

          April Slaughter explores more scary tales from the Lone Star State in her book Ghosthunting Texas. Join her from the safety of your armchair, or hit the road using the travel guide and her ghostly resources.

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            The Ghost of Taffy’s Main Street Coffee

            Spirits Are Helping Out Author

            John Kachuba shares with us his story about the ghost at Taffy’s Main Street Coffee in Eaton.

            Sometimes, while I was working on Ghosthunting Ohio, I wondered if maybe the spirits were helping me out; real ghostwriters, as it were. The story of Taffy’s Main Street Coffee in Eaton is an example of what I mean.

            taffysMy wife, Mary, and I had been in Eaton in the spring to investigate Fort St. Clair, a historic site said to be haunted by the ghosts of several Kentucky militiamen killed there by Miami Indians in 1792. After visiting the battlefield site, we drove back through downtown Eaton and spotted the colorful umbrellas shading the tables on the sidewalk outside Taffy’s. The shop had an interesting Victorian feel to it, so we stopped in.

            It was a Sunday afternoon and we were the only customers. I chatted with the server and told her why we were in town. She was interested in the project and, as I left, I gave her one of my business cards, Ghosthunting Ohio printed prominently across it. We drove back to Athens and forgot all about Taffy’s.

            Three weeks later a woman identifying herself as Nancy Peters, owner of Taffy’s, left a message for me on my answering machine. She had found my card by the cash register when she was cleaning and assumed I wanted to talk to her about the ghost at Taffy’s!

            Of course, I would have wanted to talk with her had I known there was a ghost there (okay, I can’t always find them), so I called her back. Nancy was excited to have someone to talk to about her story. “I would never have believed such a thing could happen to me,” she said. She told me that she and her husband, Tony, bought the old  Victorian building that now serves as both Taffy’s and their home in 1992, although they did not open the coffee shop until 1999.

            The part of the building that is now the coffee shop was formerly a jewelry store. You can still see the place where the jeweler’s heavy safe crashed through the floor when Nancy and Tony started their renovations. The owner of the jewelry store had died under “unusual circumstances,” and his body was discovered on the floor behind the jewelry counter.

            Before they opened Taffy’s the old store was part of the Peterses’ home, and it was in that section that the hauntings occurred. While both Nancy and Tony experienced the same events, they  never experienced them together. Strange things would happen only when one or the other was alone in the house.

            One day while Nancy was upstairs, she heard the sounds of her stepson’s electric guitar. “I knew I was alone in the house, so that really scared me, hearing this loud guitar strumming. I went downstairs, but there was no one there. Worse, the guitar wasn’t even plugged in. It couldn’t have played, but it did,” Nancy said. “That was pretty scary, but nothing like the voice that came out from the wall.”

            Nancy said that a voice she clearly identified as being that of a male came from high up on the wall and called, “Max!” the name of her dog. “It scared the dog a lot,” she said. “There was no one there and yet there was this voice calling him. It was kind of a gravelly voice, definitely a man’s voice, maybe an old man.”

            Tony also heard the voice, but at a different time. “It was about this time that I thought maybe I should get the house blessed. I have a friend who is a Catholic priest and I thought about asking him to do it.”
            “Did you go through with it?” I asked.
            “No. Instead, I started talking to the ghost for a few days, telling it that it was scaring me and my family and asking it to please move on.”

            It Takes Courage to Talk to a Ghost

            It takes some courage to talk to a ghost and try to make your peace with it, so that you and your resident ghost can “live” together in harmony, but professional ghostbusters will tell you that the idea of living in harmony with a ghost is not a good one. A ghost, they say, needs to move on, whether it is a good ghost or a bad ghost. It simply no longer belongs on earth and needs to find its way to its own realm.

            Nancy doesn’t feel that the ghost is threatening in any way and, in fact, the activity at Ta=y’s has quieted down. “But you still feel a sadness in your heart, like something’s still hanging around,” she said.

            Nancy told me that the owner of another old building nearby was also experiencing similar phenomena, and she wondered aloud if perhaps they could be connected—maybe the same ghost visiting both places. I didn’t know for sure, but I thought it was possible. Just think of how many places Elvis has been spotted in.

            Ghosts are often stirred up when the places they used to know in life are altered or renovated. Such activity seems to make them nervous (assuming ghosts can be nervous) and anxious. Some researchers say that the resulting paranormal activity is the ghost’s way of showing its displeasure with the changes in its familiar environment. Maybe this is what was going on at Taffy’s.

            Even though things are not as frightening at Taffy’s as they were before, Nancy said that, “Without a doubt, his spirit is still around. It has been a life-changing experience for me, because it was real.”

            Who knows if the ghost will make itself known again? Since the Peterses decided not to contact the priest after all, it may only be a matter of time before voices are speaking from the walls again.

            Author John Kachuba
            Author John Kachuba

            About the author:  John Kachuba is the award-winning author of twelve books and numerous articles, short stories and poems. Among his awards are the Thurber Treat Prize for humor writing awarded by The Thurber House and First Place in the Dogwood Fiction Contest. John teaches Creative Writing at Ohio University, Antioch University Midwest and the Gotham Writers Workshop. He is a member of the Historical Novel Society, the Horror Writers Association, and the American Library Association’s Authors for Libraries. John frequently speaks on paranormal and metaphysical topics and is a regular speaker at conferences, universities and libraries and on podcasts, radio and TV.

            Want to read more about haunted hotels and ghostly places in Ohio? Get your own copies of John’s books  Ghosthunting Ohio and Ghosthunting Ohio – On The Road Again

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              Hell’s Gates, Texas

              April Slaughter reports about something dark and sinister lurking in Hell’s Gates, Texas

              A small piece of land in northwest Texas near the Lubbock Cemetery has earned a reputation over the past three decades for being an area rife with paranormal activity—resulting from years of reported accidental deaths, suicides, murder, and even Satanic worship.

              A wooded area littered with biking and hiking trails, the area has become known as Hell’s Gates. In recent years, it has attracted many people interested in practicing occult rituals. The occurrences of séances and various other attempts at contacting the dead have led many to believe that paranormal activity was summoned to Hell’s Gates rather than having originated here.

              Locals and ghosthunters alike have dozens of stories they are more than willing to share with anyone interested in hearing them. Legend has it that a young woman was once hanged from the train trestle that runs through the property, and that she can be heard crying in the night. Some believe they have captured her apparition in photographs during their investigations of Hell’s Gates, often looking as though she were hanging from a rope or simply floating in mid-air just below the trestle. While there is no official record of her existence or death here, her alleged presence continues to attract the curious.

              Ghosthunting Texas
              Ghosthunting Texas

              Psychics have often reported the impression of something dark and sinister lurking about the area, angry and defiant, not at all welcoming of nighttime visitors and investigators looking to capture evidence of its existence. Equipment failure is fairly common due to odd battery drainages and rare malfunctions that are often associated with paranormal activity. The area’s atmosphere is said to change almost instantly from calm and serene in the daylight to uncomfortable and frightening at night. While many are attracted to Hell’s Gates when the sun goes down, not many attempt to stick around to see the sun come up.

              April Slaughter explores more scary tales in the Lone Star State in her book Ghosthunting Texas. Join her from the safety of your armchair, or hit the road using the travel guide and her ghostly resources.

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                Ohio Haunted Tour

                Five of the Top Haunted Spots in Ohio

                Fort Meigs State Memorial is located across the Maumee River south of Toldeo. Throughout the year, various events are held at Fort Meigs, including a lantern-lit Garrison Ghostwalk in October. For more information visit the website.

                At the  Rider’s Inn in Painsville, owner Elaine Crane and the spirit of Mistress Suzanne invite you to stay awhile in one of the inn’s 10 antiques-furnished guest rooms. Rider’s Inn hosts “taleful” candlelit dinners with ghost stories and a guest psychic every October. You can book your haunted stay here.

                In addition to being haunted, the Majestic Theatre in Chillicothe is America’s oldest, continuously operating theater. The theater offers ghost storytelling and a haunted tour, plus quality entertainment. Visit their website to find out what’s playing. The theater is located in Chillicothe’s historic district, where you can find interesting shops and restaurants within walking distance.

                ohio-state-reformatoryThe Ohio State Reformatory is a chilling and thoroughly haunted old prison as well as the site for the filming of The Shawshank Redemption.  For a fee, you can join a tour regularly scheduled in the warmer months. On select dates in September and October, the building is home to the Paranormal Penitentiary, where you can join the Slayers of the Damned.

                If you want to go on a ghost hunt, check out the possibilities here. For a less intense but fun experience, we recommend you join a Murder Mystery Dinner Theater.

                marietta-castleThe Castle of Marietta is one of the best examples of Gothic Revival-style architecture in Ohio, and, of course, it is haunted! The Castle, now on the National Register of Historic Places, offers tours and events on select days.

                In October, a guided lantern tour of The Castle is offered to hear—and maybe even experience—the ghostly apparitions, sounds, and strange occurrences that are on record to have impacted the staff, volunteers, and guests of The Castle in the past. The 2016 date for the tour is October 28th.

                Author John Kachuba
                Author John Kachuba

                About the author:  John Kachuba is the award-winning author of 12 books and numerous articles, short stories, and poems. Among his awards are the Thurber Treat Prize for humor writing, given by The Thurber House, and First Place in the Dogwood Fiction Contest. John teaches Creative Writing at Ohio University, Antioch University Midwest, and the Gotham Writers Workshop. He is a member of the Historical Novel Society, the Horror Writers Association, and the American Library Association’s Authors for Libraries. John frequently speaks on paranormal and metaphysical topics and is a regular speaker at conferences, universities, and libraries and on podcasts, radio, and TV.

                Want to read more about haunted hotels and ghostly places in Ohio? Get your own copies of John’s books  Ghosthunting Ohio and Ghosthunting Ohio – On The Road Again

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                  Spotlight On Negative Ions

                  Sally Richards, Author of Ghosthunting Southern California, Talks About Negative Ions

                  Sally RichardsYou’ve heard the stories that begin, “It was a dark and stormy night,” right? Apparently there’s a reason that rain and lightning—not the night—are believed to be scientifically responsible for the increase in paranormal activity. One of the theories about ghosts appearing during storms at or near locations with bodies of water, is that ghosts feed off negative ions.

                  In a single cubic centimeter of inland office air, there are about 100 negative ions. Normal outdoor fair-weather ion concentrations are between 200 and 800 negative ions per cubic centimeter. At the beach, however, you’ll find more than 5,000 negative ions in that same amount of space.

                  The natural movement of the churning ocean and wind creates negative ions and provides an electrical power source of sorts. Negative ions are made through a process similar to how static electricity is produced through friction. When an event such as water passing through air occurs, the friction detaches an electron from a neutral molecule (atom) and becomes a positive ion, and the molecule gaining the electron becomes a negative ion. This is why an abundance of negatively charged ions are found near the ocean. Thunderstorms also create negative ions via the friction caused by clouds heavy with moisture moving through the atmosphere.

                  When humans experience high counts of negative ions, they yield biochemical reactions that increase the level of the neurotransmitter serotonin (which seems to dispel normal levels of the blues and calm stress). If you believe the theory of negative ions increasing paranormal activity, you can see why it’s easier to make contact in an environment filled with a natural electrical feed.

                  Ghosthunting Southern California
                  Ghosthunting Southern California

                  A comparison of the environmental factors of paranormal activity gathered on successful investigations versus less productive ones seems to give credence to the theory of negative ions. I own a battery-operated negative-ion pet brush that creates trillions of negative ions per second. It’s mobile and soundless, but you have to be willing to brush your hair at an investigation. Mini negative-ion generators are also available with a USB plug, and there are bracelets that are said to create negative ions using light and natural minerals (but I have found nothing in these products that would actually cause them to do so), and even a mobile wall unit that plugs in and is only a few inches in size. If you use an EM Pump and a negative-ion generator, the negative-ion generator naturally negates most EMF.

                  Just to test this theory, I invite you all to start keeping a journal of the paranormal activity you do (and don’t) get and start writing down things like weather temperature and barometric pressure. There are also small devices to count negative ions. Add them to your ghosthunting tool kit and see what kinds of trends you find.

                  In Ghosthunting Southern California, author Sally Richards takes readers on an eerie journey through the region on a series of paranormal investigations to historic locations marred by tragedy and unfortunate happenstance that have caused the dead to rise. This Halloween, join her if you dare!

                  About the author: Sally Richards is a historian, paranormal investigator, and spiritualist medium. She brings history alive as she investigates locations alongside high-profile experts and others who share a similar curiosity of the paranormal, bringing you the latest on “haunted” locations throughout Southern California.

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                    Theater Superstitions and Traditions

                    Theaters are rich sources for paranormal phenomena. Before you venture into a theater to start hunting, it’s important to know a bit about theater traditions, superstitions, and folklore. L’Aura Hladik, author of Ghosthunting New York City, shares with us one of ten theater superstitions.

                    Never say “Macbeth”

                    MacbethNever say “Macbeth” in a theater. It’s traditional to avoid uttering the word “Macbeth” inside a theater. Actors, stagehands, and theater patrons refer to the play as “that Scottish play,” and they call its leading-lady character “Lady M.” If one does say “Macbeth” inside a theater, he must promptly exit the theater, spin three times counterclockwise, spit, swear, and then knock on the theater door and ask to be let back in. If that “undoing” ritual is not conducted, the curse of Macbeth will bring bad luck, leading to accidents on set and catastrophes in the lives of the performers and staff. Granted, Macbeth has more swordfights than most other plays, which in itself increases the chance of accidents. However, there are many stories of theater personnel thinking the superstition was silly and subsequently suffering the consequences with minor accidents and bad luck.

                    There are various theories about the Macbeth curse. Some say that the lines Shakespeare wrote for the three witches are actual incantations, and that therefore each performance of the play casts forth spells and curses. Others believe Macbeth is cursed because, being a crowd-pleasing production, theater owners would stage it as a last-ditch effort to save a struggling theater. Sadly, within weeks of the play’s performance, the troubled theater would be out of business anyway; thus The Tragedy of Macbeth became a “kiss of death” production.

                    L'Aura Hladik
                    L’Aura Hladik

                    In her book Ghosthunting New York City, L’Aura Hladik visits more than 30 legendary haunted places, all of which are open to the public—so you can test your own ghosthunting skills, if you dare.

                    About the author: L’Aura Hladik Hoffman is the author of Ghosthunting New Jersey and Ghosthunting New York City. She is also the Founder and Director of the New Jersey Ghost Hunters Society.

                    About the series: America’s Haunted Road Trip is a one-of-a-kind series of haunted travel guides. Each book profiles 30 haunted places that are open to the public. The author visits each place, from inns and museums to cemeteries and theaters, interviewing people who live and work there. Also included are travel instructions, maps, and an appendix of many more places that the reader can visit.

                    Photo credits
                    Photograph of Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth, based on an 1888 production, Folger Shakespeare Library Digital Image Collection.
                    By Window & Grove (photographer) [CC BY-SA 4.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

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