Monday, April 4, 2011

Do You Believe In Ghosts?

I very recently posted a question on my Facebook page: do you believe in ghosts?
I added to please respond without a snide comment for those who do believe or for those who don't. The responses, so far, have been overwhelmingly in the affirmative: the greater majority by far believe in spirits from the after-world.
As you likely know, there are plenty of "real ghost stories" shows on television: Travel Channel Paranormal State, Fear, Most Haunted USA, Ghost Hunters, Haunted History, and plenty more. I have to admit, I don't believe the greater majority of what these shows have to offer. Oh, they're great fun to watch - and even a little spooky at times - but most of it is so filled with over-speculation drama that it becomes borderline silly.
There are some these shows that would suit Geraldo Rivera to a "T" to be honest.
But, there have been a couple of them that made me take notice and wonder...
I have also heard stories from the presenters at Greenfield Village who have told me creepy unexplainable experiences they have had. In fact, the Village archives actually holds some of the ghost stories from presenters as well as a few from some of the visitors.
So, I will admit here that, yes, I do believe in ghosts, and I have had some first hand experiences of my own that I will share momentarily.
First, allow me to explain that I have been told throughout my childhood years that there were no such things as ghosts - I'm sure most of you were told the same. And, most of my early childhood ghostly fears were from 'scary' TV shows that I would catch that my brothers would have on.
However, as I got a bit older - into double digit pre-teen age - the childhood TV ghosts were no more. Instead came a more realistic belief. There were times when I could *feel* a presence; there was something/someone else in the room with me that couldn't be seen, only felt. This became very prevalent after very close loved ones passed away. Now, I don't believe the spirit was there to scare me. It were there, perhaps, because of our closeness in life.
Okay, you say, feeling a presence doesn't prove anything. And you are right. So here are a few more instances where unexplainable things have happened to me:
It was in 1980 when our dog, Peppy, died in our home, right at the hearth of our fireplace where he slept virtually every day of his life. We had him for 12 years and he was a member of the family, just like most pets. It wasn't too long after his death - maybe a couple months - that, around daybreak, while I lay in my bed, I heard the jingle of his collar. I ignored it initially, figuring it was my dad making noise. I then heard it a second time, a little more prominent. I got up and walked to the living room where I saw my father standing at the spot Peppy always lay. My dad looked at me in all seriousness and asked, "Did you hear it, too?" I nodded yes and told him it's what woke me up. He then said, "The sound came from right here."
Now, my dad was always one of those skeptics who told me there was no such thing as ghosts, so for him to say something like this was pretty substantial. He later mentioned the incident to my mother, who wasn't quite sure how to respond.

Okay, onto the second 'haunting.'
Back in the 1980's I worked at a local Record Store called Record Outlet. This was a very popular store and we carried an extensive amount of records, 8-track tapes, cassettes, and then later, CD's. It was on the second floor of this store where we would count out our money, work on our orders, make the weekly schedules, or inventory our defective product to be returned. I had to work up there at least once or twice a week, usually alone. It was an older building, so this area was a bit rustic, including a wooden floor. It was more than once that I would feel a presence while working up there (and every-so-often while working downstairs as well) but I would do my best to ignore it. Well, there was one particular time, while I was sitting at the desk, when I heard footsteps...right on the floor next to me. I mean, right there! It walked from my left side, around my chair, and over to my right - from one set of desk drawers to the other. By the way, just before this happened, it suddenly got very cold.
You can bet I got my butt out of there pretty darn quick!
Myself and the others that worked there also experienced the upstairs light clicking on and off, and some of my co-workers had their own ghostly experiences.
Speaking of others, a very good friend of mine (and co-worker for a short time), who, like my father, was very skeptical of this whole ghost thing, told me, in confidence, that he would not go upstairs alone again. He couldn't put his finger on it, but there was something up there that made him feel uncomfortable.

The third big paranormal experience for me occurred more recently. I've written about it in a previous posting about our overnight stay at the Tillie Pierce House of Gettysburg, Penn., which is now a bed & breakfast.
This is what I wrote (with a few additional comments):
My seven year old daughter, Rosalia, had a fear of staying there; as soon as we entered through the doorway of Tillie's home she began to cry. When asked what was wrong she said she could feel someone staring at her…someone who couldn’t be seen. (Upon speaking with her afterward she told me that whatever was there kept following her/us.)
She was absolutely freaked out. Now, she had been inside period homes her entire life - bi-weekly visits to Greenfield Village and multiple visits to Crossroads Village made her very familiar with old houses. Also, our own home decor is fashioned in the mid-19th century style as well. And, of course, there are many times we get the opportunity to reenact in period homes of the mid-19th century while we are at our Civil War reenactments.
The rooms inside the Tillie Pierce House, just so you know, are not unlike the rooms of the old and historic homes we've visited many times over, and are filled with antiques, including the beds we slept on. It was great – a dream come true! Dressed in period clothing and staying in an actual Civil War house in Gettysburg. It does not get any better!
After getting settled - and getting Rosalia to stop crying - we were invited by other members of our Civil War unit (a few of us planned this vacation together) to watch the sunset from Little Round Top. And what a beautiful site that was!
After, it was back to the Pierce home. Everyone but me went to bed. I decided to stay up and read for a bit. While lying in bed, I heard a few creaks - nothing unusual in an old house - a couple of raps - hmmm... - and slight footsteps up in the garret - OK! My oldest son, Tom, who was in Tillie Pierce's actual bedroom, said he heard the same thing.
Could it be? One has to wonder...
Then there are the hallway lights. They kept shutting off. I would turn them back on, and minutes later they would *click!* shut off again. Do timers work in this way? Not any that I have seen.
My wife, by the way, refused to walk in the hallway alone. She did not like the feeling she had and would have me join her if she needed a towel or another item from the hall closet.
My two other children, Rob and Miles, seem to take everything in stride and had no problems whatsoever.
Aside from the lights and the clear sound of footsteps, probably the next oddest thing I heard was how the ticking of the wind up clock (that was already in the room when we got there) became very loud for about a minute – yes, LOUD – then quieted back down. As this occurred, I made noise - rustling of paper, clearing my throat, etc., to see if extraneous sounds would make a difference. It didn't change a thing. The ticking remained very LOUD. What made this happen?
Hard to say. If it was a spirit of some sort, I think it liked us. Maybe because we were in period clothing and knew we were paying homage to them in a respectful way - who knows? Whatever the reason, believe it or not, I felt very comfortable in going to sleep, and slept great. Surprisingly, Rosalia fell asleep very quickly, considering how afraid she was initially. They say kids can see and feel things better than adults. By the way, Keith mentioned to me that he heard groans the previous morning – I didn’t tell anyone else in the family, and I asked him to do the same.

I realize that these are but three instances of my experiences with spirits. There are other instances I've had, but, for the most part, they have been nothing more that the "presence" feelings I get.
Some of you probably think I'm nuts for sure, while I know there are those of you who have had your own other-worldly experiences.
I find this whole phenomenon very fascinating and, in a way, comforting. It's hard to explain...
But, it does make one think...



~The Boyd Homestead Farm~ said...

Great topic Ken! Since I live in a house that has been in my husband's family since the 1880's, I definitely believe in ghosts! I have my share of experiences in the past here, feeling that someone was around me, watching me etc. I've had things disappear when I've set them out and nobody else is awake to move them, my dog will start barking at a corner of the room for no apparent reason, I've heard voices late at night and one year when I was doing ancestory research on the internet and was trying to find out who the parent's were of a particuliar family member and I was getting really close to finding out the answer, my dial up internet would constantly disconnect and it wasn't windy or bad weather out to cause it. The next day I had platters that were sitting up ontop of a cupboard flat, they literally flew right off the cupboard and smashed onto the floor. My kids have seen things in their rooms too. When I was reading your post, I did get shivers up my spine, lol.
Hope you have a great day!

Historical Ken said...

Thank you Trish. I've been thinking about writing something like this for quite a while. Then yesterday, as we watched one of the tv ghost shows, I became inspired to write of what actually happened to me - no video tapes, just my own experiences.
I enjoyed reading your experiences as well. To live in an ancestral home must be wonderful! And to know your ancestors may still be with awesome!
Thanks for sharing!

~The Boyd Homestead Farm~ said...

Your welcome Ken. It is neat knowing that we have family members here with us, a bit spooky, but they are just looking out for us... I think, lol.My husband thinks I'm crazy. When you have had family pass away in this house there is bound to be someone lingering around :) I would love to start watching all these ghost t.v. shows that everyone talks about, may have to take over the t.v. one of these nights. I loved watching the show Ghost Whisperer.
Anyhow, if only the walls of this old house could talk, what an experience that would be!


Stephanie Ann said...

Yes, I do.

But it really isn't something I think about until it's in front of me.

Mary said...

This is one of the most interesting things to talk about. I've had a few experiences, so I'm convinced that there are spirits. I can identify with your daughter, I can feel when they're there and I can tell if they're friendly or not. The ones in my house are friendly, but at the Cedar Creek battlefield I could feel one that either was not happy or did not like us. I go on ghost hunts relatively often and I've never been so freaked out as in that instance. Hopefully I'll have some more definitive stories in the future! Thanks for a great post.

An Historical Lady said...

Great post Ken! I have had an, um, a couple unexplainable experiences in my 18thc. cape, shortly after buying it 13 years ago, and when I was ripping out the condemned center chimney to rebuild all the fireplaces. Perhaps I will tell the story on my blog in the future...

Robin's Egg Bleu said...

I love your post! I am the assistant curator for the Whaley House Museum in San Diego, which has always had a haunted reputation. I have visited my whole life and never had an experience until after I began to work there 11 years ago.

I have had probably 30 experiences in those 11 years. While I may be 'missing' quite a bit of activity, due to distractions, I am extremely aware when I feel they WANT me to be aware of their presence.

All I have to do is begin to discuss Mr. Whaley's business practices and boom, I can 'feel' him to my immediate right. My right side becomes freezing cold and remains so until I halt the discussion. It's a noticeably uncomfortable sensation. It's riddled with disapproval as well.

I've also had interesting experiences in my other job. I have been a childcare provider for the last 20 years. When I was new to a family, and this particularly relates to babies...every single baby I've cared for has had a strange reaction to a person behind me who's not 'there'. Smiling, cooing, and even laughing. I feel that what this is, is a loved one, perhaps a grandparent 'visiting' the new child in the family, and because they are so 'new', are receptive to something we are not.

On the other hand, I've wondered if it's a loved one checking on ME as I'm new and caring for the child.

I think 'they' are always around, and if we 'listen', we'll sense them.

Historical Ken said...

I believe it would be great for each of you to tell your ghost stories in your blogs. What fun it would be to put them all together!
Robin - You work at the Whaley House in Flint? How cool! I'll have to stop in sometime (probably in the fall).

Heather said...

Excellent topic. I would love to learn more about the stories of the docents at Greenfield Village. For some reason lately, I have been wondering what ghostly happenings occur there. There isn't a lot of info out there though....

Heather said...

Great topic! I was actually searching for ghost stories about Greenfield Village and came across your blog. (By the way, I really enjoy and appreciate the work you have put into it!) We have a membership and take the kids often. I can't help that funny feeling that something else is there. Especially the basement of the Firestone house.

Historical Ken said...

Heather -
Thank you for the kind words (I'm assuming you're speaking of my Greenfield Village blog) - -
If you visit Greenfield Village during the week usually in the fall many times you can get the docents that have been there for a while to give you some of their ghostly adventures.
Hmmm...Maybe I'll see if I can conjure up any stories...

Unknown said...

Ken. Have you ever seen the New Hudson Inn on Grand River in New Hudson, MI? It was built in 1831 and was a stop along the stage coach route from Detroit to Lansing. It is currently under renovation/restoration exposing walls and floor joist 185 years old this year. Very exciting. Having the building researched by the Oakland County historical society as the Inn it is believed to be the first business license issued and first liquor license issues for county. It was also part of the Underground Railroad. The age is similar to the Walker Inm. Just wanted to pass this along. Tina