Mother Nature threw us a serious curveball for our Culbertson Mansion Investigation. Several days prior to the event, weather forecasters were predicting a major winter storm that would rush in during the middle of our event.
I always hate to cancel or postpone events because you never truly know what the weather will actually do. They can forecast snow and then it fizzles out. Plus that, many people had already made hotel arrangements and were still geared to go. I decided on a compromise and emailed everyone, offering to set up a second event for anyone who couldn’t make it due to the weather. Several people took me up on that offer, but 30 brave souls still showed up, ready to investigate.
(Above) Joni giving a presentation about the paranormal and expectations for the investigation
(Above) Chuck, a long-time volunteer at the mansion, giving a presentation about the history of the mansion
After a brief Orientation Presentation in the formal dining room, we divided up into four groups. The groups were led by volunteers from the Culbertson Mansion and would follow a schedule, bringing them to all three floors of the mansion, along with the carriage house.
My team stayed on their assigned floors. I took the first floor. Jason Nelson took the second floor. Traci Hoehn took the third floor, and Crystal Folz was in the carriage house. That gave everyone in the group a chance to investigate with all three of us and see three different styles of investigating.
History of the Mansion
The Culbertson Mansion was completed in 1869 by William Culbertson. At one point in time, this self-made millionaire was perhaps the richest man in the state of Indiana. The mansion was 20,000 square feet with 25 rooms and cost $120,000 to build.
William Culbertson lived there with his second wife, Cornelia, and his children from his first marriage until her death in 1832, and with his third wife, Rebecca, until his death in 1892. John McDonald purchased the mansion in 1899 at auction. The house was then sold to The American Legion in 1945 and was purchased by Historic New Albany in 1964. It was accepted as a state site in 1976 and the restoration process began in 1980, largely funded by the Friends of the Culbertson Mansion foundation who sponsors a yearly haunted house event in the carriage house that sits behind the house.
First floor Investigations
Joni’s First Group (Group 4)
We started out in the formal parlor. We introduced ourselves and I explained how our EVP session would work. The group sat in a loose circle and we took turns asking questions and then waiting 15-20 seconds afterwards to give the ghosts a chance to respond.
On the floor in front of us, I placed several pieces of equipment. We had a Mel Meter, which would alert us to any electromagnetic changes, which could signify a ghostly presence. We also had a Maglite flashlight, turned between the on and off position. On a cold flashlight (one that hasn’t been used that evening) ghosts can manipulate the flashlight and use it as a communication device. We also had dowsing rods and a Spirit Box. The Spirit Box is a modified radio that scans through the radio stations rapidly, allowing the ghosts to use the white noise to speak to us.
We started out with a straight EVP session. We sat quietly and began asking questions, allowing the digital recorder to catch any ghostly responses. Sometimes ghosts will respond in a different frequency than our ears can pick up. The digital recorder will pick this up.
Getting a true EVP is no easy task. Firstly, the group has to remain perfectly silent. A whisper or a foot scuffling on the floor can sound exactly like a ghost voice. A stomach growl will sound like a demon growling. To counteract this, I maintain a strict session. Everyone must be sitting quietly and I will verbally announce any noises the group makes so I will know later when I review the audio.
We went around the room once, with each of us asking a question, but we did not record any true EVPs. We then moved on to the Spirit Box.
The problem with Spirit Boxes are the entire reason why they work to begin with: radio stations. If the box scans quickly enough, it will move through the stations without picking up too much from each individual station. Because we were very close to a major city, this was almost an impossible feat. I equipped every Spirit Box with an RFID bag, also known as a Faraday Pouch. These bags are supposed to block out the radio stations, allowing us to fully trust the responses that come through the device. The bags I purchased weren’t completely effective on the third floor and carriage house, where they were closer to the outside world. They seemed to work nicely on the first and second floors though.
I asked if they could repeat any of our names. A male voice came through the Spirit Box immediately and said, “Valerie.” This would have been truly astounding if we had a Valerie in our group, but we didn’t. Was there another Valerie there who we couldn’t see?
Another problem with the Spirit Box is the choppy sound it generates as it switches between radio stations. Many times, we’ll get a response but not be aware of it until later during audio review. This was the case here, as well.
None of us heard the “Valerie.” We also didn’t hear another ghost introduce herself. Rick Schlegelmilch, who came to the event to assist us, asked if they could tell him the date on the last newspaper they read. A ghost voice came through with a late introduction. “I’m Natalie,” she said.
Many people give up on the Spirit Box quickly, thinking they’re getting nothing but radio interference. Upon later review, the responses are actually quite clear once they are separated from the static. Such was the case when I discovered one of the ghosts swore at us. “F&@% You!” one of the male ghosts said to us. Because the FCC doesn’t allow certain swear words, this was definitely not radio interference.
Another disadvantage is not knowing when the ghosts are going to speak. Many possible responses were covered up by an investigator asking a question. I heard a ghost say,”Hey Joni,” very clearly with my headphones on, but someone was speaking through the response, making it impossible to isolate. This didn’t surprise me. The last time I was at the mansion, I walked out of the room to let a late guest in the front door and recorded an interesting conversation. “Where’s Joni” one ghost said. “Oh, there she is,” said another. They obviously pay attention to who comes and goes from the mansion and they remember us when we return.
Sometimes, the ghosts have questions for us, as well. In between questions, a female voice came through and said, “What are you working with?” We heard the same female voice repeated throughout the session.
The next response came quickly. Someone asked if they played any instruments. A male voice came through and said, “They won’t suppress me.” The response is spoken fast. I had to slow it down with my editing equipment to figure out what he was saying. What did he mean by that? Who won’t suppress him? Us or the other ghosts in the house? Or was this a memory from life? This is part of the reason why paranormal investigating is so intriguing. I only wish we would have heard it at the time so we could have asked more questions.
The flashlight came on during his response, which seemed to be a pattern that night. Every time we got a valid response, the light came on. We’ll have to watch this during further investigations at the mansion.
Immediately afterwards, another female voice came through and announced, “I’m all independent.” Could this be Blanche Warner, also known as “Scandalous Blanche”? She was the daughter of William Culbertson. He wrote it in his will that she would forfeit her inheritance if she married Leigh French, a man her father deemed unworthy. After her father’s death, she went to Europe for nearly a year. Upon her return, she broke her engagement to the man her father wanted her to marry and eloped with Leigh, who worked for the circus and had the reputation of being a womanizer. She lost her inheritance, but took the case to court and won. She later became a very well-known supporter of women’s rights. She was a lifelong member of the National Women’s Suffrage Association. Could this be Blanche?
We went around the room again without getting any clear responses and then out of the blue a voice says, “You guys make money on it.” Was this in regards to the investigation? Had I heard this, I would have pointed out the fact that the mansion gets half of everything we raise to put towards maintenance of the building, not to mention the months of work I put into organizing it.
We moved into Mr. Culbertson’s office area. I’ve always felt like I’m not supposed to be in the room, which could come from Mr. Culbertson himself.
Mr. Culbertson was a shrewd businessman, but he was also a man with a lot of heart. He opened an orphanage in 1883, caring for children up to sixteen years-old. His foundation still takes care of the children’s wing at the local hospital. His foundation also still funds the Meals on Wheels for the New Albany area. Having grown up in near poverty, he apparently never forgot his roots.
We started out our second portion of the session by slowing things down. I’ve found that if we berate the dead with question after question, they often lose interest in us. But, if we spend some time simply chatting, they become intrigued by our conversations and drift in closer.
I explained why we sometimes discover strange ghosts in haunted locations. Most people attend the event, expecting to communicate with the known souls who lived there, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, haunted locations draw in other souls. They come in with other random people or just drift in on their own. They don’t have to die in a location to haunt it.
We attempted to get the ghosts in the den to respond with taps or sounds, but didn’t get any responses. We had the flashlight on the floor and it seemed to respond to the questions.
- Are you happy with us visiting you? Flashlight came on
After a few more questions that came without responses, we moved onto the Spirit Box.
As soon as we turned it on and got it going, a male voice came through, saying, “I will be right back.” He had a foreign accent, which was interesting. I encouraged the man beside me to ask a question. Before he could speak, a male voice on the Spirit Box said, “Is that Jethro?”
He finally asked his question. “This was Mr. Culbertson’s office so there must have been a lot of testiceedings (I think he meant official meetings) here.” A woman came across and asked, “Because we had large meals?” At the time, I thought she said, “Because we have live music?”
We began getting some responses that I couldn’t quite make out, even with headphones on later. Then out of the blue, a male voice said, “We don’t feels ya.” This was a strange response, especially in a home where we expect to hear 19th century voices. Who was this?
This was quickly followed by a woman saying, “Come down any time.”
We went through about ten more minutes of Spirit Box and got nothing but static and random sound bursts, so I ended the session.
Joni’s Second Group (Group 1)
My second group came directly from a wild experience at the Carriage House. I warned them that the first floor tended to be quiet, but hoped it would be more active. We started in Mr. Culbertson’s office and settled into a quick EVP session and then followed it with the Spirit Box.
Before I could even ask a question, we got a very strange message. “You up to being good, Dad,” said one male voice. “Yo, Brice,” said another. I have no idea what this means. The Spirit Box moves through the stations rapidly, so it made no sense. You can hear me laughing in the middle of it because it was so absurdly clear and strange.
I finally got to ask my first question and would be, once again, stunned upon evidence review. “Can you see us right now?” I asked. A male voice said, “I don’t know, bro!” Even though it was clear, none of us caught it at the time. I moved onto my second question. “If you can see me, how many fingers am I holding up?” I said, putting three fingers into the air. A female voice immediately came through. “And I’ve just been insulted,” she said.
I passed off to the next person and we got another strange response. After I asked my question, the flashlight had flickered. She asked if that was them, if they could do it again. “That wasn’t Coralee, was it?” said a female voice, as though asking someone else for confirmation. If that isn’t odd enough, a different male voice popped in and said, “The lights was…” I couldn’t make out the rest because the investigator started talking again, unaware of the scenario that was unfolding. She asked if they could turn the light back on and it came back on at that moment.
The same woman asked if they’ve always lived there. A female voice responded, “He was in love.”
There were many other responses, but they were too difficult to interpret. I had to leave the room to make a phone regarding a pet emergency at home. When I returned, I started to sit back down when another voice popped through. “Throw the bat before the ball,” a male voice said that was similar to the voice that said, “I don’t know, bro!” The comment made no sense in the context we were in, so I’m not sure if it was a radio station that popped in or an amusing ghost. Either way, it was interesting.
I turned off the Spirit Box and pulled out my tiny set of dowsing rods. Before we could get started, we began hearing a tapping behind the group. We didn’t hear it again, so we moved on to dowsing. Here’s what we found:
- Blanche is still in the house (at the same time, an investigator saw a shadow move near the curtains)
- They moved past the curtains
- They were communicating by using the flashlight
We stopped getting clear responses and decided to switch rooms, moving to the formal parlor. We continued with dowsing rods:
- He was male
- It was Mr. Culbertson
- He was unhappy with Blanche (Mel Meter rose to 2.9 and then dropped again)
- He still loves Blanche
Rick and I were both feeling a female behind me and I explained to the group that I’ve had a female following me around for several weeks. We began asking her questions on the dowsing rods.
- She came with me
- It has something to do with the book I’m currently writing. I explained to the group that I’m working on a book about the Hanover Haunting, a house that has extreme paranormal activity and has been featured on many paranormal TV shows. Since starting the book, I’ve been having strange activity in my house.
- She is from Pennsylvania (the location of the house in my book)
- She’s not angry about the book and is glad someone is telling her story
- She’s the woman from my book. I went through several names, trying to get her to identify herself, but she said yes on the wrong name. Ghosts are often tricksters, pretending to be someone else. This seemed to be the case because she didn’t pick the right name. Or, she was someone else from the house and I got the wrong ghost.
- The house was a stop on the Underground Railway (yet to be substantiated)
- Culbertson was still there
- He’s been to Glennwood Park but has never been to any of the homes there
- At least one of his wives died in the house
- Several of his children died in the house
Time was up, so we went to break.
Joni’s Third Group (Group 4)
We started in Mr. Culbertson’s office. I explained the Spirit Box to them. As we went around the room asking questions, it was clear that we were picking up nothing but blurbs from radio stations so I turned it off.
The activity had seriously tapered off and the ghosts were no longer interested in interacting with us. This is when it grows difficult to keep the group entertained. We were sending small groups down to the basement to use dowsing rods, but they weren’t getting any responses down there either. It was 10pm, making me wonder if the ghosts were growing weary too.
We did a dowsing rod session in Mr. Culbertson’s office and got a few responses:
- There were members of the Culbertson family were with us
- I asked the rods to point to where they were standing and it pointed towards Mr. Culbertson’s office chair behind his desk. The rods confirmed he was sitting behind his desk, watching us.
We asked quite a few more questions, but didn’t get any responses. We moved to the formal parlor to see if we could find someone willing to communicate with us.
Someone asked me my belief on ghosts, so I spent a few minutes sharing my beliefs. I believe that at the time of death, most people cross over into Heaven immediately. Some people, however, balk at the light. They might have guilt over something bad they did during their lifetime or simply want to hang around to look over their loved ones, businesses or homes. They haven’t been to Heaven so they haven’t undergone spiritual enlightenment. They are basically souls without their bodies. They know nothing more than they would have known before they died. We chatted for a while, sharing stories about the paranormal before turning on the Spirit Box. As soon as I turned it on, a male voice said, “Is that you?”
We thought we heard the word “Dominos” which was interesting because that’s what my team and I had for dinner. I asked if they knew what kind of pizza we had and they responded with “Pepperoni,” which was correct.
I asked if they knew any of our names and immediately heard something that sounded like, “What’s your names?” I realized that we hadn’t introduced ourselves, so we went around the room and said our names. After Ben introduced himself, the same male voice that spoke with us at the beginning of the session said, “That’s Detrick.” Did Ben remind this man of someone he knew in life?
I asked if they could tell me their favorite color and had a few responses that sounded like colors. I heard blue and red twice.
Someone asked if they lived there and a male voice said, “Be the staff.”
We went around the room and asked more questions that didn’t get responses. When it came back around to me, I asked one of my favorite questions. “What town are we in right now?” The response was “Evansville.” This is interesting to me on many levels, firstly, being that we weren’t actually in Evansville. We were in New Albany. It’s fairly close to Evansville though, but far enough away that we wouldn’t be picking up any Evansville radio stations. What does this mean paranormally? Was the ghost from Evansville? Or had he hitched a ride with one of our guests?
When the investigation starts sounding like an inquisition, with everyone firing off questions to the dead, I will often back it off and spend some time talking to try to generate interest. I went around the room and asked everyone to say their favorite kind of pie. When we finished, I asked the ghosts in the room to tell us their favorite pie. We heard a very faint response of “peach.” We then went around the room and shared our favorite meals. After we finished, I asked them what their favorite meals were. A male voice said, “All of them.” I think this is a good subject because I know that many of us would miss our favorite meals if we were in their same situation.
Joni’s Fourth Group (Group 3)
My last group had just spent an hour in the Carriage House and were appropriately frozen solid. I decided to move my group into the formal dining room where we held the presentation. We hadn’t investigated that room during the night so I wanted to see if we would get more activity.
We started off the session by chatting for a little while. Everyone was eager to talk about their experiences, so we spent a few minutes just chatting. Sometimes, people’s energy spikes during investigations and they need a chance to settle down. Once everyone felt more relaxed, we started in on the session.
We then went around the room and asked the “pie question.” After we finished, I asked them what their favorite pie was and heard a faint response of “apple.” Moments later, I captured one of my favorite responses of all times. “We love you,” said a male voice. This made me happy because, no matter how respectful we try to be, we always run the chance of disturbing them. Knowing that we brought them some measure of pleasure was immensely satisfying.
I tried an experiment of passing the Spirit Box from person to person. As they held the Spirit Box, they would ask a question. While we didn’t get any clear responses, it’s an experiment I’ll attempt again in the future.
The group’s leader left due to the impending weather so I didn’t have someone to take small groups down to the basement. I decided to bring them all down with me for one final session. We started off using the Spirit Box in the kitchen area.
I started off, as I normally do, by introducing ourselves. I then asked if they remembered any of our names. A male voice said, “Joni.” This isn’t the first time I’ve heard my name called out by a ghost, but it always gives me a start.
We asked a few more questions and couldn’t make out the responses. Then, out of the blue, an older female asked us a question. “Are y’all spending the night?” she asked. I wish I would have heard it at the time because we didn’t answer her, which probably didn’t help us in building trust with them.
A member of our group asked, “Are you going to tell us your name?” A female voice whispered into the digital recorder, “Cathy.” It was an EVP (ghost voice) and didn’t go through the Spirit Box. This is fairly rare when investigating, so I was pleased to have recorded it.
We asked the question again, and a voice told us, “Rick.”
I decided to show them the reproduction of Mr. Culbertson in his casket. This was made years ago for a murder mystery at the mansion and is incredibly real looking. After everyone had a look, we returned to the laundry area. Several people with EMF detectors were getting electromagnetic spikes on their devices. We spent a few minutes trying to track down the source before we decided to head back upstairs.
(Above) A near-perfect replica of Mr. Culbertson in his coffin, made for a murder mystery party
We went back up to the formal parlor and chatted for a bit. I asked everyone what their favorite part of the evening was.
- Getting to use a pendulum on the third floor with Traci
- When the latched door on the second floor opened during her session with Jason
- A door opened for their group on the third floor too.
- The activity on the third floor.
- When Mike got poked on the second floor. He thought Lexi did it but she didn’t.
- The pendulum on the third floor. Talked to a little boy who didn’t want to leave there. Wasn’t afraid of anyone, but was afraid of something.
- Just enjoyed the entire experience.
- The punishment closet.
- The strange beeping of the smoke alarms in the Carriage House.
(Above) One of my groups doing a dowsing rod session in the basement
It was nearing midnight and the weather was getting worse outside, so we called the evening to an end.
Second Floor Investigations
Jason’s First Group (Group 3)
The second floor consists of a lady’s parlor and several bedrooms. Jason started the session in the bedroom known as the Blue room. The group introduced themselves to the souls in the room and then started a dowsing rod session. Jason demonstrated how to use them and the group had some success.
- They were talking to a male
- There were more than one of them in the room
- They were also talking to a woman
- They liked cats
After they went around the room with the dowsing rods, Jason introduced the Spirit Box. After explaining what it was, he had the group go around and ask questions. They also continued to use the dowsing rods.
Someone asked, “What’s your name?” A woman’s voice responded with, “Frighten.”
Someone else asked, “Do you have any siblings?” and there was a strange female howling noise, almost like someone was making a ghost noise. Jason noted that the wind was gusting loudly outside, but we never heard the same sound again during any of his sessions.
Jason asked if they had a favorite color and someone responded with “blue.” Even though it wasn’t a clear response, it was interesting to get an intelligent answer to a question, validating the spirit box as a useful tool.
Someone asked if they had girls and the dowsing rods crossed to yes. He asked if they had boys and a voice said “yes” on the Spirit Box.
When asked, “What’s your favorite part of the house?” a voice answered, “ Not sure.”
Someone else asked, “Are you by yourself?” A voice answered, “Great question,” possibly congratulating him on his investigative skills.
After a half hour in the Blue room, the group moved to the room with the round chair, which I believe is called the Rose Room.
One of the bedrooms in the rear of the floor was unfinished and was used for storage. We nicknamed it the “Costume Room” because many old costumes are stored there. We also believe it might have been Charlie Culbertson’s bedroom.
Charlie was an interesting character. As an adult, he was an alcoholic and was sent off to asylums many times during his life. He was eventually placed in the care of his younger brother, Samuel.
Three of the four groups had Break-off Groups. We would send groups of two to a secondary location with dowsing rods for ten minutes to see what they would experience. Sometimes ghosts are more apt to approach a smaller group and this proved to be the case for our groups at the mansion.
When the small groups came back, Jason asked them what they experienced.
- Whitney and Russ communicated with a 7 year-old boy.
- Mike and Lexi talked to someone who liked looking at the stars. They said they liked the night time better.
Jason then did a full thirty-minute EVP session. The group took turns asking questions and then waiting for a response. Unfortunately, they didn’t capture any EVPs during this session.
As they ended the session, the most surprising event of his evening on the second floor occurred. “Well, that ends the session,” he said and the door popped open on its own. He knew for a fact that the door had been latched tightly. Were the ghosts of the house helping him out?
Jason’s Second Group (Group 2)
Jason demonstrated the dowsing rods and explained how effective they are in a house with nineteenth century ghosts. Sometimes they look at our modern electronic equipment and back away, frightened. They would recognize something like dowsing rods or pendulums though. They did a full session, passing the rods from person to person so they could get a chance to use them. Most people were surprised at the way they move. They would be holding them steady and then feel them tug away. Here are some of the responses:
- They like the renovations
- They were in the room with them
- They were speaking with Ann (it was her room)
- They were upset that the building was once painted white, covering up all the beautiful art (The McDonalds painted the walls and ceilings white because they were covered in soot from the coal burning furnace. This essentially covered up all the beautiful hand-painted ceilings)
- She enjoyed living there
- She owned a horse and carriage
- She had a happy family
Jason then introduced the Spirit Box. Because his group had just spent an hour with me on the first floor, he didn’t have to fully explain how it worked. The group was eager to see if they could get any responses. Here is what they found:
- How many are here? Don’t know
- Were you the one that opened the door earlier? No
- What was your favorite game? Dowsing
- What was your favorite meal? No people
- Did you ever travel? Fortunately
- How many of you are with us right now? One (female voice, but they had been hearing males too, so this wasn’t accurate.)
- Is there someone standing behind me? Sounds like “no” and then another voice “confuse them”
- Did you make your own clothes? No
- Did you have a set bedtime? We didn’t
Mary shared a story with the group. She said the boy the last group communicated with in the Costume Room was the one that took her ring. It disappeared when they did a murder mystery. She left it there with her costume overnight and when she came back the next morning, it was nowhere to be found. She searched for it for an entire year. The next year they did the murder mystery, she had a brand new costume. She went into the dressing room to change and as she was leaving, she looked down. Right in front of her in the middle of the floor was her ring. She said there was no way the ring was there the entire time because they did a spring cleaning in the room.
They changed rooms and did an evp session for the next half hour, but unfortunately didn’t record any EVPS.
Jason had been sending groups of two to the Costume Room all night. Most of them came back saying they’d communicated with a little boy. One woman named Angie heard her name called out as they were returning to the main room.
Jason’s Third Group (Group 1)
Jason set them up in between the two bedrooms on the second floor and began with a dowsing rod session. They went around the room and introduced themselves and then started the session.
- They like everyone being there to visit with them
- They are from the area
- They liked to play dress up
- They have brothers
After a while, they stopped getting responses with the dowsing rods, so Jason moved to Spirit Box.
“What is your name?” and a very clear male voice said, “Christopher.” The group didn’t pick it up at the time because it happened fast.
“How old are you?” A boy’s voice responds with, “Eight.” This fits the experience another group had in the Costume Room with dowsing rods.
Because the group didn’t hear “Christopher,” they began connecting dots between the person who liked to play dress up and the eight year old. They asked if the eight year old liked to play with dolls and there was a long response, followed by a very faint, “no.”
Someone asked what their favorite color was, stating that hers was purple. A male voice said, “Is orange.” Another voice chimed in with what sounded like, “blue,” but wasn’t clear enough to define.
Here are the rest of the questions and responses:
- “Did you grow up in this house?” “I’m Bill” a voice said.
- “What is your favorite thing to do? “A male voice responded with “Drink.” We’ve gotten this response before and believe it might be Charlie responding.
- “Did you see the river flood? “I did”
- “Any brothers or sisters in the room?” “Sable”
- “Is that a picture of you hanging on the wall?” “Long Story
- “Are you able to sleep in your own bed. ““I do.”
- “Who was with us in the carriage house?” “You.”
- Between questions, a male voice said, “I’m coming through.”
- “Did you sleep with a teddy bear?” “I did.”
Jason’s third group came to a close and he sent them on their way to the Carriage House.
Jason’s Fourth Group (Group 4)
By the time Jason’s fourth group came, they were starting to get tired. His group had just spent an hour on the first floor with me and were anxiously watching the storm unfold outside. Snow was pelting the windows as the winds howled like banshees.
Jason started the session with an EVP session and then moved onto Spirit Box. It was apparent the ghosts were getting tired too because they didn’t get a lot of responses.
Someone asked, “Are you a female?” A very faint voice said, “Female.”
The group continued around the circle, asking one question each.
- “What was the name of your pets?” “Juniper.”
- “What do you think of the painting on the ceiling? “I like it.”
- “What color is the wall in here? “Blue. ”
- “What was your favorite subject in school?” “Reading.”
- “What was your best friend’s name?” “Devon.”
They stopped the session after a while and just started chatting. At that point, Jason recorded two very strange EVPs.
One came while they were talking. It sounds like a male voice saying, “That’s Volable’s Dance.” That made no sense to me. The second one was a loud, aggressive, “Yeah,” with the word drawn out for several seconds. This was while they were moving chairs, so perhaps the ghost was happy they were leaving?
They started talking about the costume room. Two people talked about seeing a small child block out the light and something moved the mirror. William likes to play hide and seek. They heard a knock. Using the dowsing rods, they asked if William was there and they opened immediately. They were impressed with how the rods moved by themselves.
Third Floor Investigations
Traci’s First Group (Group 4)
Traci’s first group started with a brief history lesson from Chuck about the third floor. Chuck has been with the mansion for over thirty years and knows the history well. He told them that the second owners, the McDonald’s, built a wall at the top of the third floor to block it off. It was just used for storage.
There is a lathe-work closet near the back staircase that they believe was used as a punishment closet for children. It is original to the house. There were stories that Cornelia (Mr. Culbertson’s second wife) had an actual closet in her last house that she used strictly for this purpose, so it made sense. The Culbertson boys were always in trouble too, so they probably used that closet on a regular basis. Sam was five when they moved into the house and set the wood shed on fire. When they asked him why he did it, he just nonchalantly told them he was cold. Samuel’s brothers were Charlie and Joseph. Charlie was a severe alcoholic and spent a lot of time in institutions to try to get him dry. At one point in his life, he was declared insane. His younger brother Sam ended up being his caretaker.
Since it was the group’s first session of the night, Traci then gave them a rundown on the various equipment she planned to use. She had everyone put their phones on airplane mode so it wouldn’t interfere with the equipment. She demonstrated the usage of each devise and tool to insure they knew how it worked. She also suggested that when asking questions about gender, ask if they are “male or female” instead of asking if they are a “man or woman, boy or girl,” because some of the souls in a certain age range might not identify with boy or man. If he’s a teenager, he might not see himself as either. She also talked about asking polite questions. “Ask them questions that you wouldn’t mind someone asking your grandmother.” Don’t ask them rude questions and always treat them like people.
She sent two people at a time to go to the punishment closet for Break-off sessions and started the group investigation in the main bedroom.
(Above) The Punishment Closet Photo courtesy of Bigoldhouses.blogspot
They did a quick session on the Spirit Box but didn’t really get any clear responses. They then moved to dowsing rods, where they got much better responses.
- Their family lived there
- They used the sewing machine in the room – not true. It wasn’t original to the house.
- Traci asked if they were talking to a trickster and got a positive response. We see this often at investigations. Sometimes they will give us misinformation just to throw us off.
Several of the people were just using dowsing rods for the first time, so they were getting used to using them and weren’t always getting responses.
She asked the groups that had been in the punishment closet and they said they got the following responses:
- They weren’t punished in the room but the room was used for punishment (they were probably put in there for “time outs”
- They didn’t play in the room
- They were talking to a girl
- They might have been talking to Blanche at one point – rods went crazy
- Asked if Eliza was there and the KII went to yellow showing activity
Traci’s Second Group (Group 3)
Traci’s second group showed up and she explained to them that they’d only be investigating in one room instead of moving from one room to another. The reason for this, she explained, was the lack of bracing on the hallway floors and in floors in the other rooms. If you walk on it, it makes a horrible squeaky sound that you can hear throughout the entire building.
She then gave them some history on the third floor. The uses for the third floor aren’t as clear as the other floors. The room with the photos and historical displays in it was once used as the ballroom and possibly a children’s play room. They think that the bedroom she was in and the other one on that floor were used as servants’ quarters or might have been used as bedrooms for the Culbertson children. Someone asked if there was a fire in the house, pointing towards the black marks on the walls and ceilings. Traci explained that the house was heated with coal, which left soot behind. Since the third floor was blocked off by the second owners, it was basically untouched and looks like it would have during the Culbertson days, with about a hundred years of wear and tear added.
They settled into an EVP session, also using the flashlight for responses. They didn’t get any responses, so they moved to dowsing rods. I wasn’t able to document some of the dowsing rod responses because they weren’t always vocalized for the recorder.
- They grew up there
- They played in the ballroom
- They didn’t play in the ballroom in 1980 – used as a question to make sure they weren’t dealing with the trickster
- They don’t like the flashlight
- They liked playing games
- They were talking to a little boy – the woman who asked it just returned from the punishment closet and said they’d been talking to a boy who liked to play on the third floor. She said the boy said he played with his nanny.
- They were talking to a child
- None of his sisters were there
- Charlie was also there
- He didn’t want to turn the flashlight off
- Traci asked for the rods to point to where he was in the room. It was behind her.
- Someone else asked for the rods to point to the ghost in the room. The KII lit up to orange and the rods pointed to behind him. Two different EMF meters were lighting up in two separate areas of the room.
- He was running around the room
Traci asked about the responses they were getting in the punishment closet
- It was a boy
- He didn’t like playing with his sister
- He wasn’t William Culbertson
- He lived there
As they were closing the session the door popped open on its own. Everyone was stunned. They didn’t realize that Jason had the same thing happen with his second group.
Traci’s Third Group (Group 2)
(Above) Mary using the dowsing rods on the third floor
Because everyone had been through two sessions already, Traci didn’t have to explain the process. They moved right in with an EVP session. After they went around the room without getting any responses, they used the Spirit Box.
Traci asked if there was anyone there with them and a male voice came through immediately and said, “No respect.” Another male voice came through and said, “We’ll just have to do it.”
Another investigator told them she was carrying her flashlight. “And what do we do with that?” the same male voice from before asked.
Someone asked how many of them were there and a female voice said, “Seven.”
Someone else asked if they could silence the radio and a male said, “Ask a question!”
Traci asked if they could talk to them on the box and a male said, “Box?” She then got perhaps the creepiest Spirit Box response of the night. She asked if there were any children on the third floor. A male voice said, “I’m exposed.”
They went around the room and asked more questions. They were getting a lot of unclear responses and radio blurbs. Someone asked if they had to walk to school and a male voice said. “A hundred years.” The group seemed to lose interest in the Spirit Box and began talking about using the flashlight for responses and a male voice came through the middle of their conversation and told them to “Stop talking.”
Someone asked if they were tired of the flashlight since it hadn’t been turning on and off for a while. A male voice with an English accent said, “We come to the light.”
Dowsing Rod Session
- They were talking to the same person they spoke with in the punishment closet
- He had a bicycle (William Culbertson had a bicycle)
- He rode his bicycle on Main Street
- He likes the snow outside – slow yes
- There was an adult in the room
- Wasn’t related to the woman who died of cholera in the house
- Traci asked for them to point to where they were in the room. The rods pointed behind her. She picked up the KII meter and tried to see if she could validate it, but didn’t get any results. She asked the rods to point to another person in the room and they pointed to another corner. During the middle of this, she audibly heard a whistle.
- Rods verified they were moving around the room
- They spent time in the punishment room
In between questions, Traci felt a really cold breeze move through the room. Several others felt it too. She didn’t think it was the wind. It dropped several degrees in that room but not in the hallway or anywhere else.
All of a sudden, Mary began feeling a cold sensation on her lap. It was as though a ghost was sitting on her lap. Traci walked over and felt the air above the spot and confirmed it was vastly colder than the rest of the room. Did someone sit in Mary’s lap?
Traci brought a ball that they attempted to get the ghosts to play with, but didn’t have any results. She kept a small camera on it all night. During one of the breaks, she caught a man clearing his throat when there wasn’t anyone on the floor.
She tried playing a knocking game. She knocked on a wall and tried to get them to repeat it. Just after she did that, she saw a shadow move across the room. She eventually debunked it by having everyone in the room move to see if she could duplicate the movement.
The session came to an end and her group left to visit the carriage house.
Traci’s Fourth Group (Group 1)
Traci welcomed her last group of the evening into the room and gave them a brief history lesson on the third floor. She mentioned to the group that a very strong female came into the room ahead of them. Rick Schlegelmilch also felt it and validated.
She explained the punishment closet and showed them how to use the pendulum they’d be using it inside the room. They then started the session.
They started with an EVP session but didn’t get any responses. The storm was kicking up outside and the group could hear the howling of the wind and occasional thumps against the exterior. Traci then moved them to a dowsing rod session, showing them how to use the rods to point to where the ghosts were.
She asked it to point to where the servant’s room was and it pointed to the left.
- There was a woman in the room. When asked to point to where she was standing, the rods pointed over her shoulder again. She then switched chairs with someone to see if she’d get the same results. Someone else used the rods and asked the same question. The rods pointed to the same area.
- There was a picture hanging on the wall in that spot. They asked if it was a picture of her and the rods didn’t respond.
- There was a female in the room
- Cornelia sent children to the punishment room
- The woman they were talking to might have been a nanny.
- She loved the children.
- There were four children there
- She cared for all four children
- They didn’t play in the snow – didn’t like snow
Traci heard a whisper, but I couldn’t pick anything up on the digital recorder.
- The servant wasn’t good to him/her.
- Didn’t tell his/her mommy or daddy about it.
- They played ball inside the house.
- Wouldn’t respond when asked if they broke anything with the ball.
- Was sometimes scared in the house
- The female was still there.
- Someone asked if she ever married. The rods pointed to no and at the same time, they caught a Class A Evp from what sounded like a male saying, “Wasn’t me.”
- She liked the Culbertsons.
- She had some time to herself.
- She was never married, but did have a man she wanted to marry.
- The man she wanted to marry owned the house (big response from the group). If this was the case, then she was in love with Mr. Culbertson. (unsubstantiated)
- He loved her too.
- She had children of her own. It was Mr. Culbertson’s child. (unsubstantiated)
- They tried to get her to say her name for EVP or the name of her children, but she wouldn’t.
The group from the punishment closet came back and reported that they really didn’t get any responses. Others said they felt they were talking to William. He liked warm weather. They liked to play hide and seek. He was good at it.
They spent the last few minutes talking about the night. Traci explained that children spirits often are hesitant about responding. Typically, children will be apprehensive about speaking up in a group of adults.
During the evening, Traci captured two EVPs in the punishment closet. One said, “Ask me,” and the other one said, “I’m cold.” This is interesting because it tells us they feel the cold too.
Carriage House Investigations
The Carriage House is an interesting building. At one point in its existence, it was used as a stable and carriage house for the Culbertson’s horses and carriages. Stable Hands and servants might have lived there, as well. When the American Legion purchased the building, it was used for dances. For the past thirty years though, it has been used as a seasonal haunted house attraction. Friends of the Culbertson Mansion have hosted the event for over thirty years, raising ten million dollars to renovate and restore the mansion. This was our first time getting to investigate there, so we were eager to see what we would find.
As we came into the building, it was still partially decorated for the haunted house event. Giant rats peered through the walls and monsters glared at us from corners. We knew we were in for an interesting night.
Crystal’s First Group (Group 1)
Crystal is a psychic medium and often picks up information that is pertinent to the investigation. While she’s investigating with groups, she often holds back from sharing her impressions to allow others in the group to discover the ghosts on their own. She started out her first session by explaining the dowsing rods to the group. She also explained the importance of verbally acknowledging what is happening so it is recorded on the digital recorder. They then introduced themselves.
Dowsing Rod session:
From the minute they walked into the building, it was as though the ghosts were anxiously waiting for them. They would be plagued by strange noises and beeping smoke alarms all night. As they started the session, they heard a noise that seemed to come from downstairs. Gary went downstairs to check on it and discovered that the door was ajar even though he knew he closed it tightly before they went upstairs. When he returned, they went back to the session. Here’s some of what they found:
- The ghosts made the noise downstairs
- They are happy to stay there
- They don’t like that the house is used as a haunted house
Crystal explained that a male stable hand lived in the carriage house at one point, so she asked them to try directing questions to him. They hadn’t been getting a lot of responses, but it was early on in the investigation. It often takes people a little while to get adapted to using the dowsing rods.
- They had siblings
- They were talking to a female Culbertson
- Not Blanche
All of a sudden, they began hearing the speaker pop even though the speakers were disabled. The sound was incredibly loud and the group kept jumping. The sound was absolutely unnerving. Gary was stunned too, telling them that he disconnected the speakers before the investigation and couldn’t understand why they were doing that. Eventually, they were able to get back to the dowsing rod session.
- She was Mary Julia who died at the age of 21. Died from an infliction of the heart.
- She didn’t die of a heart attack
- A man broke her heart
- She is sad
- One of the women began feeling overwhelming sadness. Another felt nauseated.
- Crystal was feeling a male presence so they began asking questions geared towards him.
They moved to the next room. The room was decorated from the haunted house event. A table was set up in the middle with prop people sitting around it. It definitely gave the room a creepy vibe as they sat in between the prop people.
They turned on the Spirit Box, but weren’t getting anything substantial. Because we were next door to Louisville, they were picking up hundreds of radio stations despite the Faraday Pouch. After a minute or so, they turned it off and went back to the dowsing rods.
Traci Hoehn had put together a listing of the people who had lived there, along with the history of the house. Crystal referred to it for information during her sessions.
- Samuel Culbertson was one of the Culbertson sons. He went on to help his father start an orphanage. They tried talking to him, but didn’t get any responses.
- Crystal began psychically picking up a male with congestive heart disease. She felt he did greasy work – auto body work, perhaps. Crystal often picks up information from the living and asked the group if they knew anyone who fit the description, but they didn’t. It might have been someone associated with the building.
- There was a fire in the carriage house.
- They began hearing a bumping sound outside. Then, the noise sounded again and was closer this time, sounding like it came from the attic of the Carriage House. Crystal explained that the house was purchased by the American Legion in the 1940s and they held parties in the Carriage House.
- No one died in the Carriage House (true)
The atmosphere in the Carriage House was nearly combustive. They could feel the energy growing stronger and stronger. The smoke alarms kept chirping and almost seemed as though they were sending a message. The lights flickered and they heard another bump.
While someone was asking a question, they began hearing a strange growling sound. It went on for several seconds and was followed by a loud thump near them. Crystal, who normally doesn’t get excitable about the paranormal was jarred out of her normal professional persona. “What the F was that?” she yelled, jumping out of her chair. Gary, who is in charge of the Carriage House, has never heard that particular sound before. He said that sometimes it’s quiet, but other times it sounds like someone is holding a party upstairs.
They continued on with the dowsing rod session:
- They asked if they were the ones making the noises and the rods crossed to yes.
- He’s a male. He’s Samuel or pretending to be Samuel.
- The pounding noises above them continued, freaking them all out. Gary confirmed there are no water pipes on the second floor or attic. He couldn’t logically explain the sounds they were hearing. Gary said the area the sound was coming from is a brand new constructed area.
- Crystal didn’t think it was Samuel.
Crystal’s Second Group (Group 4)
Crystal was so frightened after her first session, she folded up the chairs and contemplated telling me that she couldn’t do any more sessions out there. Besides being in a semi-heated building which never truly got warm, the paranormal activity was off the charts.
She steadied herself between groups and decided to give it another chance. Her next group showed up and she escorted them to a small room on the second floor. She told them about the experiences the first group had and told them to prepare for anything. As it turned out, she didn’t need to. None of her other groups experienced the same horror-fest the first group was treated to.
She didn’t need to explain the dowsing rods since they’d already used them in their first session. Crystal shared some of the history of the building with them, explaining how it has been used over the years. They introduced themselves and then moved onto a dowsing rod session.
- It wasn’t a child. Dowsing Rods pointed to no and the lights flickered
- It wasn’t the same person as before in Crystal’s first group
- Not an adult
- Not standing right behind the woman asking the question
- They didn’t enjoy the haunted house event
- They were having fun
- Don’t like it when people come to visit them
- They like the weather and like the snow
- Couldn’t get them to answer if they were male or female
They moved to the next room and used the dowsing rods again. Crystal felt they were getting the most activity from this room.
- They liked to play in the Carriage House
- They didn’t work in the Carriage House
- They liked to go to the river – flashlight flickered
- Crystal asked if they could make the same banging sounds they made with the first group. The room remained quiet throughout the session.
- They made the noises the first group heard – flashlight flickered
- They think it’s cold out there too – flashlight flickered
- They began hearing footsteps above them even though no one was upstairs
- They are in the room with them – flashlight flickered
- Asked for a sign they were there – flashlight flickered
- There was someone down the hall – flashlight
- They were walking around down the hallway – flashlight
- They have friends that live there with them – flashlight flickered
Crystal’s Third Group (Group 3)
Crystal’s third group had just spent an hour on the third floor with Traci and were well-versed on using the dowsing rods. Crystal didn’t waste any time explaining, so they started a session right away. Because the group was comfortable with the rods, they got far more responses than her other groups got.
Dowsing Rod responses:
- They wanted to talk to them
- They weren’t talking to an adult
- They used to work in the building
- Asked if they could point to where they were. Rods pointed Bill. She asked again and the rods pointed towards Bill again.
- He’s a boy
- He’s less than ten years old. Crystal pointed out that the building was a stable and living quarters for servants.
- He likes being there
- He wasn’t the person who was there with the first group
- He likes to have visitors
- They like dancing
- His parents worked there
- Wouldn’t point to where he was in the room with the rods
- They didn’t like Russ sitting in the wheelchair.
Crystal shared a story with the group about our first visit to the mansion. During that trip, Crystal picked up on a man who had lost his leg. She asked Jessica and Kaitlyn about it and they confirmed her suspicions. Mr. Culbertson’s second wife Cornelia was a widow. Her first husband, Dudley, had issues with his leg and had to have it amputated. Even though he never lived in the house, his energy was there.
- They asked if the souls there wanted Russ out of the wheelchair and the rods indicated yes, so Russ moved, switching places with Crystal.
Their half hour was up in the small room, so Crystal moved them into the room with the monster feast prop. The members of the group sat at the table with the monsters and started a dowsing rod session. Before they could begin, the smoke detectors, which had been going off steadily all night, suddenly stopped. Then, they seemed to be chiming in order, starting with the furthest one and moving towards them.
Crystal realized she was no longer feeling the man with congestive heart failure and wondered if he was attached to someone in the first group. They continued with the dowsing rod session:
- They enjoy the cold
- The KII meter, which detects electromagnetic energy spikes kept spiking up to the highest setting, but most of the group had their phones turned on. Unless they have their phones set on airplane mode, they can set off KII meters. Using the dowsing rods, someone asked if they were messing with the KII meter and it said yes.
- One of the guests asked if they liked his hat and the rods said yes.
- He likes hats in general
- Another male asked if they liked his hat better and the KII went to orange and the dowsing rods said yes. Everyone in the group laughed.
- They worked in the building
- One of them belonged to the American Legion and went to parties there
The session came to an end and Crystal sent them on their way to their next location.
Crystal’s Fourth Group (Group 2)
Crystal’s fourth group also just investigated the third floor and were abuzz about the activity they experienced there. They settled into the smaller room and began a dowsing rod session.
- They didn’t tend to the horses when it was a carriage house
- Caught a child’s voice on the audio. Couldn’t make out what she was saying but it sounded like a female child.
- They didn’t follow anyone there
- They are messing with the smoke detectors
- Someone asked for them to point the rods to where he/she was standing. The rods pointed to the same point they did the last time for the last group.
- They were there when they had parties there
- He/she was a singer/liked to sing
- They liked to dance
- She is a female (confirming the evp)
- No males were there at that moment
- Mary, a volunteer at the mansion, explained that the American Legion had dances in the Carriage House in the fifties all the way up until the 70s.
- The bands played pop music. No response on country and western or folk bands.
- They were talking to someone new
- They don’t recognize Mary from working in the haunted house
- They weren’t there in 1976 or 1980.
- They were still talking to a female
- She is messing with the smoke detectors
After a half hour, they switched rooms and went into the monster feast room. They started another dowsing rod session and had great results:
- Female was still with them
- There were also males there with them
- There were more than five spirits with them – rods and flashlight
- They had more than one horse
- They asked the rods to point to where he/she was standing. It pointed towards the doorway
Mary, who is a long-time volunteer with the mansion, shared a story. She said they used to have a long hallway in the carriage house. At the end of the hallway, there was a hidden closet where an actor would stand. As soon as people got near her, she’d jump out and scare them. One night, she came running down the hallway in a panic. She told them that a large orb appeared inside the closet with her and chased her out.
They continued with the dowsing rod session:
- There was a man in there – flashlight
- Has gone fishing on the river and had a boat – flashlight and rods
- They heard a noise that sounded like something moved across the floor
- They asked if someone just moved something and the dowsing rods crossed to yes
- They can knock on the walls – rods and flashlight
- She lived there – rods and flashlight
- She was happy there – rods
- They asked if they could speak with the male who was controlling the smoke detectors and got a possible EVP. It sounds like it says, “no more.” The flashlight went off at the same time.
During their session, they picked up an EVP. It is very faint and will probably require the use of headphones to hear it, but I’m posting it anyway. I can’t make out what the child is saying.
The session came to an end and Crystal walked with them back into the mansion, happy to finally be out of the cold.
I want to thank everyone who came to the investigation and braved the weather. Thank you to my team of investigators, the volunteers who gave their time and to the guests who dedicated five hours of their evening to talk to ghosts. We will be setting up another investigation soon for the people who weren’t able to attend due to weather concerns. Needless to say, it will be held in a far warmner month.
I will be setting up an investigation in New Harmony in March and will post the date and information as soon as I have it.