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.
Several 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.
April Slaughter Encounters Ghost at Millermore House
The 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.”
I 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.
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.
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.
My 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.
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.
Stanley Hotel Ranked as One of the Most-Haunted Buildings in the United States
When writing a book on haunted locations in the state of Colorado, the Stanley Hotel simply cannot be overlooked. It was ranked as one of the most-haunted buildings in the United States by Denver’s KUSA/9News in September 2014 and is widely regarded as the most haunted place in Colorado. The hotel does not shy away from its haunted reputation and, in fact, thrives under the idea. Guests can even participate in haunted tours of the building and grounds with a guide named Scary Mary. The hotel is also host to numerous horror film festivals throughout the year.
Stanley Hotel Best Known for Stephen King’s The Shining
Another story that makes the hotel so popular involves Stephen King’s The Shining. King was inspired to write this popular novel, which was published in 1977, after staying in the hotel. Later, in 1980, Stanley Kubrick was so enthralled by the novel that he made it into the popular movie of the same title. It is regarded as one of the best horror movies of all time, and the Stanley Hotel plays the film on loop, 24 hours a day, on channel 42. This movie, however, was not filmed on location at the Stanley Hotel because of a lack of necessary lighting and power, according to Kubrick. Supposedly King did not like Kubrick’s film and felt that it ignored many of the themes in his book. According to tours at the hotel, King supervised a made-for-TV version of The Shining that was shot at the Stanley and aired in 1997. One of the more noticeable differences between the book and the movie is the giant hedge/maze. King’s version had giant hedge animals that moved and taunted characters, while Kubrick’s movie had an eerie maze.
In 2009, the hotel celebrated 100 years of wowing the nation as a successful haunted hotel. No one is sure when the haunts in question began. Several different apparitions and instances of paranormal activity have been reported throughout the building, especially in the lobby. The ghost of Stanley himself, as one might expect, has ostensibly been seen throughout the building. Additionally, his wife, Flora, who was a professional pianist, is thought to be the unseen player that tickles the keys later at night in the Music Room (although some report that it is not Flora but her husband who plays the ghostly tunes).
Lots of Paranormal Activity Reported on the Fourth Floor of the Stanley Hotel
The fourth floor of the hotel is another location where paranormal activity is often reported. Dunraven, the wealthy man from whom Stanley bought the land, is reportedly seen in room 407, accompanied by the smell of his tobacco pipe. It is strange that Dunraven’s ghost should appear here, however, as he never stayed in the hotel and had left the country before it was even built. The lights also seem to have a mind of their own in the room, and there have been reports of a ghostly face looking out the window when the room is not occupied. According to an online video tour of the hotel led by Scary Mary, the fourth floor was originally a cavernous attic and was one of the few locations where children were permitted. People have said they can hear the sound of children laughing and running through the halls, especially in room 418. Some have reported the sound of bouncing balls, and others still have reported the feeling of being tucked in at night, a duty given to the children’s nannies. There is a closet that notoriously opens and closes on its own in room 401, and in room 428 people report hearing footsteps on the roof and their furniture being moved around. There is also said to be a friendly ghost called the Cowboy in that room, whose apparition tends to stand near one of the corners of the foot of the bed.
Photos taken of the hotel have been known to depict orbs or even ghostly silhouettes. One area of the hotel, a stairwell, creates a sort of vortex of activity in images, and photos of that area often show greenish orbs. Sometimes, the more human-shaped ghosts that appear in photos are seen in rooms or areas where guests are not allowed or are not staying in at the time.
Stanley Hotel Not Shy About its Reputation
The hotel does not shy away from its reputation as the most haunted hotel in Colorado. As a matter of fact, in addition to daily historical tours, the hotel also gives daily haunted tours. Its website lists several tour packages, including a historical/paranormal combo tour, a nighttime ghost tour, and a five-hour ghosthunt through the most haunted areas of the hotel. All of the tours require advance booking and have separate costs. According to one article, the Stanley earns more than $1 million on tours alone. It also has a “haunted photo gallery” that includes spoof ghost photos of different locations in the hotel. Its online store includes items that pay homage to The Shining with oozing, bloodlike lettering spelling out “REDRUM.” There is even an annual horror film festival there, dubbed the Stanley Film Festival, that was founded in 2013.
Much of the hotel’s fame is due to the success of King’s book and Kubrick’s film. Are the ghosts just there to play along, or is the Stanley Hotel really as haunted as they say? The best way to find out is to visit it yourself.
Ghosthunting Colorado is the latest book in the popular America’s Haunted Road Trip Series. The guide covers 30 haunted locations in Colorado. Each site includes a combination of history, haunted lore and phenomena, and practical visitation information.
About the author: Kailyn Lamb holds a degree in journalism from Mississippi State University. She has always had a fascination with otherworldly things, and she devours horror movies, Stephen King novels, and ghost stories as often as she can. Kailyn lives in Denver, CO.
Bryan Bonner/Rocky Mountain Paranormal Research Society
By Rominator (Self-photographed) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Bruce Vittetoe (Lobby Piano Uploaded by xnatedawgx) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Just across the Inner Harbor is Fort McHenry, the object of the battle immortalized in Francis Scott Key’s The Star-Spangled Banner, America’s national anthem. A symbol of freedom when it prevented British invasion during the War of 1812, the fort came to represent oppression to many pro-South Marylanders when the Federal government occupied it and used it to help maintain its grip over the local area during the Civil War.
With such history and passions associated with Fort McHenry, it should not be too surprising that it has also long had a reputation for being one of the most haunted sites in a very haunted city. Over the years, all sorts of paranormal activities have been reported at Fort McHenry, including sightings of spectral figures on its earthen ramparts, disembodied voices, footsteps in empty areas, spots of unnatural cold, and furniture that levitates and otherwise moves around. Some investigators have even postulated that the fort’s shape—that of a five-pointed star—has some occult significance and might play a role in the preponderance of supernatural events that have occurred here.
A number of specific ghost stories have also been associated with the site and recounted in numerous articles, television shows, and Internet postings. One of these involves the ghost of U.S. Army Lieutenant Levi Clagett, who, along with some of his men, was killed when a bomb burst not in the air but in their gun emplacement. Numerous people have seen both a spectral figure and a man dressed in a uniform appropriate to the period, walking along the top of the star point sometimes known as “Clagett’s Bastion” at times when no costumed people were present in the fort.
Another named ghost associated with the site is that of Private John Drew, a soldier who was reportedly confined in one of the fort’s cells after he was caught sleeping while on guard duty and who, in shame, killed himself. His specter has been seen both in his cell and on the ramparts where he walked his last post, forever trying to correct the mistake that ended his military career and his life.
Some of the most dramatic paranormal events at the fort involve attacks on people by what has been variously described as a woman, a white figure, and an invisible entity that has reportedly done such things as push some people down stairs and knock others unconscious. Some believe this spirit is that of the wife of a noncommissioned officer assigned to the fort whose children died during an epidemic in the 1820s.
One ghosthunting group that recently visited the site is the Maryland Tri-State Paranormal. Founder Ana Bruder told me that while they were there, her friend Laura suddenly said, “I feel like I am being watched.” Ana, who is sensitive to the presence of spirits, turned and saw the ghost of a uniformed soldier staring at her friend, just one of several spirits she detected while at the site.
Managers of Fort McHenry Decline to Comment on Supernatural Phenomena Reported by Visitors
Numerous other ghost stories and episodes of paranormal activity have also been associated with the site. Many of the accounts of ghostly activity at Fort McHenry were originally reported by park rangers assigned to the site, and that remained the case up until a couple of decades ago. Today, however, in what they say is an effort to keep the site from being regarded as a “haunted fort” and to instead emphasize the non-supernatural history of the National Monument and Historic Shrine, the managers of Fort McHenry decline to directly comment on phenomena that are still regularly reported by visitors.
Potential ghosthunters should also expect to have anything they ask to do at the site be curtailed by red tape. A favored tactic at Fort McHenry is to require application of a “special use permit” for anything its managers don’t really want people to do—the major exception to this being, it would seem, historic reenactment, for which the site has become a virtual playground. The important thing to remember is that the site is public property and that very little of what is involved in most investigations should actually require any sort of permission anyway.
For more haunted stories from the Old Line State, check out Ghosthunting Maryland by Michael J. Varhola and Michael H. Varhola.
By Balou46 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
By Natalie Litofsky (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
By Junglerot56 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsFt M
Welcome to colorful Colorado, home of ghostly hotels, city parks, and, of course, some of the best mountain viewing around.
Author Kailyn Lamb looks at locations throughout the state and dives headfirst into the history behind the ghosts and what has made them stay.
The eyes of paranormal enthusiasts have long been on the Centennial State due to the fame that Stephen King’s The Shining brought to the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park. The Stanley, however, is not the only haunted hotel in Colorado. Multiple inns and hotels (some of them brothels) in Denver alone have histories as sites of deaths that make their victims decide to stay in their beloved rooms forever.
Ghosthunting Colorado is the latest book in the popular America’s Haunted Road Trip Series. The guide covers 30 haunted locations in Colorado. Each site includes a combination of history, haunted lore and phenomena, and practical visitation information.
About the author: Kailyn Lamb holds a degree in journalism from Mississippi State University. She has always had a fascination with otherworldly things; she devours horror movies, Stephen King novels, and ghost stories as often as she can. Kailyn lives in Denver, CO.
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.
Since my childhood, I have seen and felt ghosts and restless spirits. Through my many experiences with the supernatural and paranormal realms, I have interacted with powerful beings of light, faced encounters with beings from the dark side, and seen ghosts from every walk of life. I run into ghosts in many places, and they all have a story to tell.
I share my experiences in my books, and I also teach through my school, The Academy of Mystical Arts and Spiritual Sciences, where I show people how to become more intuitive, how to connect with the other side, how to sense negative energy in a home or building, and, more importantly, how to discern whether the energy can be removed and cleansed or whether it is best left alone.
Over the past decade, I’ve seen a rise in paranormal activity, which is connected to the veil between the earth plane and the spiritual realms lifting at this time. I believe that a conscious evolution is occurring on the mind, body, and spirit level; as this evolution continues, and with this energetic shift, I believe that many people will connect with their intuitive abilities and be able to communicate with the spirit world, including with ghosts, which have remained on the earth plane.
In my books, I share what I see and sense when entering a haunted building. My journey in North Carolina begins in the coastal wetlands of East Carolina where I explore haunted lighthouses, battleships, forts, and the shipwrecked beaches where Blackbeard and his pirates still roam. Next, I tour the Piedmont area of the state to visit the most actively haunted capitol in the U.S. and interact with the ghost of a former North Carolina governor. Wrapping up this journey
I head out west into the Blue Ridge Mountains, where the ghost known as the Pink Lady and her friends await your presence at the historic Grove Park Inn, where many presidents, celebrities, and ghosts have stayed over the decades. Don’t even get me started with everything I experienced in New Orleans—that’s why it took me an entire book to share some of the most captivating and haunting stories in the city!
I’ve learned a lot over the years of interacting with the spirit world, and not every encounter has been smooth. I once lived in a haunted house where the ghosts weren’t friendly or ready to move on into the light. I learned about what the spirit world can do first-hand, and it was a very powerful lesson.
Here’s what happened…
In my early 20s, I was looking to rent a house and came across a listing that sounded perfect. I met the owner, who led me to the back of the property where the house was located. It was a charming little cottage with a spiral staircase leading to the bedrooms on the second floor, exposed brick walls, and hardwood floors. I fell in love—quickly–and like other times when I’ve fallen in love, I stopped thinking and became blind to everything else around me.
For a brief moment, I thought I felt something supernatural inside the house. But in my excitement, I quickly dismissed it. The owner said he had other people who were scheduled to look at the house later that day. Worried that someone else would grab this gem of a house, I signed a contract and the deal was done.
As I unpacked, I chatted on the phone, inviting friends to come over to see my new place. The days passed by peacefully, until I woke up one night with the feeling that someone was inside. Terrified, I walked from room to room with a baseball bat in hand, ready to club anyone I saw. I found nothing undisturbed and chalked it up to being in a new house, which always has strange sounds until you get used to it.
On Friday evening, my friends arrived to celebrate my new home. We were downstairs enjoying a glass of wine when the noise began. We heard music from what sounded like an old scratchy record begin to play and the sound of heavy boots and someone in high heels clicking as they danced on the hardwood floor in my upstairs bedroom. My friends and I looked at each other in shock as we listened to the unmistakable sounds coming from upstairs. Gathering our courage, we crept up the stairs to see who was up in my room, but when we entered the bedroom and turned on the light, no one was there.
We searched several times, thinking someone was playing a joke on us. Once we would calm down and go back downstairs, the music would start again. This became a regular occurrence every Friday night and was apparent that this was a ghost haunting the home. At first, it was almost endearing—two sweethearts, locked in an embrace from the past, dancing together. I thought the ghosts were a time loop, like a tape that played over and over. Soon after, my theory was proven wrong, as the energy in the house began to change.
I discovered that while I was welcome here, men were not, and there was a definite “other-worldly presence” in the house that was growing more and more active. My boyfriend and I began to quarrel. I got blamed for things I hadn’t done. He’d accuse me of moving his things or hiding them. One day, he yelled and said that I had pushed him while he was in the shower washing his hair. I was downstairs at the time in the kitchen cooking, and when he realized there was no way I could have pushed him, he couldn’t live with the rationalization that something else might be in the house that he had no control over, so we broke up. I also began to notice that even when male friends came over to visit, they quickly grew agitated and angry after only being in the house for a short visit.
Chatting with the neighbors, I learned that no one had lived in the house for years before me. It had been empty for so long that the spirit who was living here had grown weak and dormant. Once I moved in and had people over, it began to pull energy from everyone who entered it; while it was fine with me living there, it would not tolerate another man in the home.
Having seen what the spirit world can do, I knew not to stay and hope that things would change. I could now clearly feel the energy of this spirit, and it was not interested in crossing over to the other side or finding peace. I called the owner and said, “I want to break my lease and move.” When he asked why, I told him about the angry spirit. I didn’t expect him to believe me, but to my surprise, he let me out of the lease.
He explained that shortly after moving into the home, he and his wife began to fight. Before six months had passed, they were engaged in a bitter divorce. They had learned that a main house had stood in the front of the property and had mysteriously burned down. The cottage where I was now living was the original servant’s quarters located in the back section of the property.
The present owner had never understood why he was so angry when he and his wife lived there and why they had fought so much in the home. He later rented the house out to his niece; six months later, she and her husband also divorced. The house had stood empty until I moved in; within six months, the relationship I had been in had dissolved too.
My ability to explain the presence in the house allowed him to finally understand what was going on. We parted ways with him wondering if he would ever rent the place out again. I don’t know if he did rent the cottage out again, but I heard through the grapevine that the house caught fire several years later and that the damage was so severe that the house was torn down.
For my part, I learned a valuable lesson: Always check the energy in a house before you live in it, no matter how much you love the décor and style. That’s probably good advice for most things in life.
About the author: Kala Ambrose is “Your Travel Guide to the Other Side.” An award-winning author, spiritual teacher, motivational speaker, host of the “Explore Your Spirit with Kala Show” and practical intuitive coach and guide, Kala’s teachings are described as empowering and inspiring. Author of five books, including The Awakened Psychic, she has taught thousands how to connect with their soul paths and create lives and careers that are balanced and in tune with their life purposes and goals. Study online with Kala through her school, The Academy of Mystical Arts & Spiritual Sciences and visit her website. Explore Your Spirit with Kala http://www.ExploreYourSpirit.com Twitter: http://twitter.com/KalaAmbrose Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kala.ambrose
If music can, indeed, calm the hearts of wild animals, might it not also calm the restless spirits of those who have died and wander the earth as ghosts? John Kachuba, author of Ghosthunting Ohio cannot think of any better place to find the answer to that question than at Cincinnati Music Hall.
Built in 1878, the redbrick Victorian Gothic structure rises majestically on the corner of 14th and Elm streets. Central Parkway runs parallel to the rear of the building now, but when Music Hall first opened its doors, that thoroughfare was actually the Miami Canal. Designed by a local architectural firm, the edifice is eccentric, with its garrets, turrets, gables, insets, nooks, broken surfaces and planes, and ornate rose window. Some witty Cincinnatians have dubbed the style “Sauerbraten Byzantine.”
The building is located upon the site where the tin-roofed wooden Sangerhalle once stood, a hall built by a German immigrant singing society, the Saengerbund, for its May Festivals. But there is also a more somber atmosphere associated with other former occupants of the site. The present Music Hall rests upon the foundations of the 1844 Orphan Asylum. Before that, it was the Commercial Hospital and Lunatic Asylum with its Pest House, a section for the indigent with contagious diseases. A potter’s field also occupied the site, the final resting place for suicides and strangers, the indigent and homeless of Cincinnati, as well as those who died in the Pest House. These unfortunates were buried without the benefit of coffins; they were simply bundled up and dropped into the earth. Over the years, there have been many renovations to Music Hall and human bones have often been unearthed during construction.
The famous Cincinnati journalist Lafcadio Hearn wrote about one such discovery in the October 22, 1876, edition of the Cincinnati Commercial:
“This rich yellow soil, fat with the human flesh and bone and brain it has devoured, is being disemboweled by a hundred spades and forced to exhibit its ghastly secrets to the sun…you will behold small Golgothas—mingled with piles of skulls, loose vertebrae, fibulas, tibias and the great curving bones of the thigh…All are yellow, like the cannibal clay which denuded them of their fleshly masks…Bone after bone…is turned over with a scientific application of kicks…dirty fingers are poked into empty eyesockets…ribs crack in pitiful remonstrance to reckless feet; and tobacco juice is carelessly squirted among the decaying skulls…by night there come medical students to steal the poor skulls.”
Hearn reported that the dead began to make themselves known to the living just shortly after these macabre discoveries were made. Shadowy figures roamed the halls at night, and ghostly dancers were seen in the ballroom on the second floor. One exhibitor at a business fair in Music Hall saw a young, pale woman in old-fashioned clothing standing by his booth. As he approached her, he felt a sudden rush of cold air as the figure became transparent then disappeared. Hearn wrote: “The tall woman had been sepulchered under the yellow clay below the planking upon which he stood; and the worms had formed the wedding-rings of Death about her fingers half a century before.”
Half a dozen skeletons were unearthed by workers in 1927, placed in a cement crypt and reburied, only to be discovered again during a renovation in 1969. The bones were placed inside another concrete box and reburied—and uncovered in 1988 for the third time when the shaft for the concert hall’s freight elevator was deepened. It seems the dead at Music Hall simply cannot rest in peace. Pieces, yes, but peace? No.
When my wife, Mary, and I lived in the Cincinnati area, we attended several performances of various kinds at Music Hall, but that was before we had ever heard the ghost stories, and we had never been behind the scenes. We were lucky enough, however, on a recent Valentine’s Day, to have a tour of Music Hall led by Marie Gallagher, a volunteer there for 25 years. It was a public tour, and we were joined by approximately two dozen people who were interested in seeing the grand old building. We gathered in the Main Foyer, with its checkerboard marble floor and graceful columns.
Marie knew every nook and cranny of Music Hall and regaled us with tales and anecdotes about some of the famous people who had performed there—John Philip Sousa, Richard Strauss, Igor Stravinsky, Leonard Bernstein, Jascha Heifitz, Maria Callas, Andres Segovia, Luciano Pavarotti, Count Basie, Miles Davis, Bob Dylan; the list is endless.
The heart and soul of Music Hall is the 3,630-seat Springer Auditorium. Marie led us up into the gallery where we could look down at the burgundy colored seats and the stage. Even though larger than most concert halls, the acoustics in Springer Auditorium are said to be the best in the country, if not the world. Ed Vignale, Jr., Music Hall’s facilities engineer, told me in a later conversation that a person standing in the gallery of the empty auditorium could hear someone speaking from behind the stage as though he or she were only 20 feet away from the listener. Could it be that such perfect acoustics are the explanation for some of the ghostly sounds heard at Music Hall?
“I hear them when I’m on duty alone at night,” says Kitty Love, who has been part of the private police force at Music Hall for 21 years. “Footsteps, doors slamming, and music playing, and I know I was the only one in the building.”
Kitty has heard the footsteps and slamming doors in the stage area of Springer Auditorium and in other parts of the building’s south side, the side that was built over the cemetery.
As our tour group stood in the gallery of the auditorium, gazing out at the magnificent 1,500-pound crystal chandelier suspended from the dome ceiling and its Arthur Thompson oil painting, “Allegory of the Arts,” I thought of what Kitty had said and took a few pictures with my digital camera. (Later, when I download the images to my computer, I will find three beautiful but unexplainable orbs floating in the otherwise clear air above the gallery.)
Marie continued to lead us on the tour—the enormous backstage area with its vertiginous catwalks barely distinguishable in the darkness high above us, the massive workshop where stage sets and props are built, the costume room with its many rows of outfits of every description hung around and above us like an enormous dry cleaner, the dressing rooms that resembled high school locker rooms, and the more luxuriously appointed dressing rooms of the stars.
When the tour concluded back in the Main Foyer, Marie took us aside privately and brought us back into an office area. In this section was a freight elevator, the very elevator beneath which a small casket of bones from the old cemetery was uncovered.
“I haven’t seen or heard anything unusual in Music Hall and I don’t believe in ghosts,” said Marie, “but this is where a security guard said he heard strange music. He was so impressed by what he heard, he wrote it all down.”
She handed me a file folder containing a photocopy of security guard John G. Engst’s handwritten account of what he experienced on February 22, 1987. In it he tells how he was escorting three caterers from a party held in Music Hall’s Corbett Tower down to the first floor in the elevator. It was about 12:30 a.m. As they descended, the three women asked him if he heard music. He said he did not, but they asked him again when they reached the first floor and this time he said he had heard it. The women told John they had heard the same music when they went up to Corbett Tower a few hours earlier but didn’t think much of it then.
After the women loaded their truck and drove away, John went back to the elevator. The music, sounding something like a music box, continued to play a tune that John thought he recognized as “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.” John stopped the elevator at different levels to see if the music would still be audible. It was. He wrote, “It was as beautiful as ever, but I’m getting more bewildered.”
John checked all the areas outside the elevator at the various levels but could not find any source for the music. He was so frightened and awed by his experiences that he wrote, “For nearly two weeks I could not approach the elevator shaft on the first floor late at night without my whole body tingling.”
In the final analysis, however, the experience was an affirming, life-altering one for John Engst. He wrote: “The experience is now all positive and will be forever, I now believe. I pray more intensely, don’t fear death and am glad to have had this profound experience.”
Kitty Love has heard similar ghostly music at Music Hall but in different locations from the freight elevator. “You hear music playing somewhere late at night when you know no one is there, but when you get there, you find it coming from some other place. You go to that place and then you hear it coming from yet another place.”
Ed Vignale said a musical greeting card had been found at the bottom of the elevator shaft, but that didn’t convince Engst that there was a rational explanation for the music he heard. Maybe John is right. Those greeting cards don’t usually last very long nor do they play continuously. Once opened they play only a few seconds before they must be closed and reopened to play again. Could a card have been heard continuously for several hours? And what about the ethereal music Kitty heard in other parts of Music Hall? Are there ghosts roaming Music Hall?
Even though Ed Vignale said that he has never seen nor heard spirits in the 34 years he has worked at Music Hall, he admits that some people have told him of seeing men and women dressed in late-19th-century clothing walking through the halls of the building. Other people have said that sometimes an extra unknown “cast member” may appear in an operatic production or that unusual looking figures may appear among the audience.
“There is definitely something strange going on here,” Ed said. “In all the time I’ve worked here, I’ve only seen two mice and one rat in the building, very unusual for a building of this size and age.” Ed went on to say that during a 1967 production at Music Hall called wild Animal Cargo, two baby snakes, a python and boa constrictor, somehow disappeared and were never found. The show left town without them and Music Hall was left with a unique system of rodent extermination.
How long do those snakes live anyway? One can only hope that, if they are still alive, those creatures have long ago been tamed by the musical charms of Cincinnati Music Hall’s resident spirits.
Times Square draws people in this life and the afterlife
The most famous spot in New York City has to be Times Square. It’s appeared in countless movies, such as Big, I Am Legend, and Jerry McGuire. Certainly everyone recognizes it as the place to watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve. In fact, Web cams make it possible to view this legendary location from anywhere in the world all year long.
Times Square draws people from all over the globe, in this life and the afterlife. Case in point: Two Royal Air Force pilots who appeared mysteriously on the corner of 45th Street in Times Square during World War II. They asked Harvard graduate Oswald Reinsen, who was standing next to them on the corner, whether they were in Times Square. He confirmed their location, then began to cross the street. They followed him. Noticing the pilots’ uniforms and their English accents, Reinsen struck up a conversation with them. They told him how determined they were to visit Times Square. Reinsen noticed they kept a close eye on the time, checking their watches habitually every 10 minutes or so. After walking several blocks, Reinsen reached his destination, the Harvard Club. He invited the RAF men to join him, and they gladly accepted.
They enjoyed dinner and “spirited” conversation; all the while, the two RAF men kept checking the time on their watches. Just before midnight, they explained that it had been close to 24 hours since their planes had been shot down over Berlin. As they rose from their seats, they thanked Reinsen for the meal and proceeded toward the exit. Reinsen watched, dumbfounded, as they got lost in the crowd and vanished from view.
The story of a crisis apparition on Times Square
That story may be the most extensive and intense example ever of a crisis apparition. A typical crisis apparition occurs immediately after death. The newly deceased person, without the trappings of his corporeal being, “makes the rounds” by showing up to loved ones as a final farewell. Here’s how a crisis apparition works: You answer the doorbell, and there’s your Uncle Ted. You’re excited to see him and invite him in. Knowing how sick he’s been with cancer, you can’t believe how great he looks and that he is out and about. You make him comfortable on the couch and dash off to the kitchen to make him a cup of tea. All the while you’re chatting at 1,000 words a minute and not realizing Uncle Ted isn’t responding. You come back to the living room with his cup of tea, and he is gone. As you call out for him, the telephone rings. You answer the phone, and your Aunt Betty says that Uncle Ted just died.
Most crisis apparitions appear as solid as you and I. Some may speak, but that’s rare. As an example of how solid they can appear, I know of a woman who bumped into the crisis apparition of her father.
She worked in New York City, and her demanding job had her rushing from one meeting to the next. While she was racing to pick up a sandwich and head to the next meeting, she was checking messages on her cell phone. Someone bumped into her, and when she looked up from her phone long enough to give the person a nasty look, she saw her father. He waved to her and vanished in the crowd. She wondered why her father was in New York City, but she continued to rush to her meeting, figuring she’d see him back at her office later. She had enough time to inhale her sandwich, shut off her cell phone, and sit down for the start of the meeting.
After the meeting, she checked her messages and heard a heartbreaking one from her mother that said, “Daddy had a heart attack. He’s dead. I need you to come home right away.” Once home, she learned that her father had died around the time she bumped into him on the street. He had come to New York to wave a final good-bye.
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.
On October 8, 1862, one of Kentucky’s biggest Civil War battles was fought just west of Perryville when Confederate forces under General Braxton Bragg and Union forces led by Major General Don Carlos Buell clashed. The battle lasted more than five hours; when it was over, more than 7,600 soldiers lay dead, wounded, or were missing.
After the battle the Union soldiers were buried in a cemetery along the Springfield Pike. The Confederate soldiers weren’t so lucky. For three days, both the dead and wounded lay in the roasting sun. They eventually were buried at Bottom Family’s farm, which later became the state park.
The Union dead did not remain at the cemetery long and were moved to Union cemeteries at Camp Nelson and Lebanon, Kentucky. It was not until 1902 that the Perryville Commission placed a monument dedicated to the Confederate soldiers who fought and died at the Battle of Perryville. The Perryville Battlefield site has become a favorite for reenactors, who come to the park for the annual reenactment on the weekend closest to October 8th. Three times a year, the Perryville Battlefield park also offers a ghost seminar and a ghosthunt for visitors.
Patti Star, author of Ghosthunting Kentucky, talked with Joan House, Program Coordinator and Preservation Specialist of the Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site. Patti asked her, “What is the most common story that you have heard about the ghosts of Perryville?” Joan replied, “The one about Patrick Cleburne’s horse. During the battle, the Brigadier General was charging the enemy when his horse was killed by being shot out from under him. Soon after the battle, the locals would report hearing a horse galloping by or near them, but when they would look for the horse there was never one around.” “Have you ever heard the horse?” Patti asked. She smiled and said, “Oh, yes, I have. One late night while I was camping out with some of the reenactors, we heard the sound of a horse’s hooves running on the pavement near the camp. We thought that maybe one of the horses in the camp had gotten loose, so we set out to find it. We aimed our flashlights out into the darkness but didn’t see a horse. We went back to the enclosure and counted the horses, and they were all there. None were missing. It was at that moment I realized that we had heard Patrick’s ghost horse.”
While talking, Joan remembered another story that had happened while camping during a reenactment. She said that two of the reenactors were noted historians, and they told her a great story about being visited by a Civil War ghost. The men were asleep in their tent when they were awakened by what they thought was another reenactor. He barged into the tent and demanded to know the whereabouts of one of his soldiers. They looked at him and didn’t recognize him as part of their group. He called his soldier’s name over and over as he walked around in the tent looking for him. One of the men asked him who he was, and the intruder stated his name and rank. He then turned and stormed out of the tent. The two men got up and followed him as he went to the tent next door. When they got to the other tent, he was gone and wasn’t seen or heard of again. The two historians decided to investigate, so they looked up the names that this stranger had given them. To their amazement, they found that both names were listed as two of the men killed at Perryville.
It’s hard to believe that this pristine and peaceful paradise, filled with deer, beavers, turkeys, and other birds, and bordered by miles of 19th-century stone fences was once the site of so much death and destruction. But it was. One can only hope that the ghosts of Perryville will eventually find the peace that now surrounds them.