Community House #2 is one of my favorite historic locations in the town of New Harmony, Indiana. It was built in circa 1820 by a group called the Harmonists, who were led by Father Georg Rapp. The building served as a meeting house, as well as a dormitory for the single members of their group.
While they were prosperous, the Harmonists only remained in the town they named Harmonie for ten years. Before they relocated back to Pennsylvania to start their third and final Utopian Society, they sold the town to a man named Robert Owen. His version of Utopia was vastly different from the hard-working, religious Harmonists. His vision for the town was to turn it into a “New Moral World,” focusing on education, social reform and scientific studies.
While Owen’s utopia only lasted for two years, the strides they made planted seeds which would continue to flourish decades, if not centuries, after the group disbanded. Wanting education to be readily available, Community House #2 became a school for children of all ages. Years later, the building was used for a variety of purposes, including a cigar factory, a tea room, boarding house and furniture store. As we’ve found from previous investigations, many of the occupants never left the building.
After a brief presentation on the history of the building, we divided into three groups. I led the investigation on the first floor, while Rosie Benton took the second floor, and Traci Hoehn held court on the third floor.
I had planned on utilizing a variety of equipment during my sessions, but the Spirit Box was so active, I ended up sticking with it. A Spirit Box is basically a modified radio that scans rapidly through the channels, only landing on each station for a fraction of a second. The ghosts in the area are able to speak through the white noise, allowing us to communicate with them in real time.
It’s been several years since we’ve investigated the building, so I believe it took them a while to warm up to our equipment. During my first group, we heard a variety of responses, but many of them were too muddled to fully understand. Finally, towards the end of the session, someone asked, “Did you work here?” The response was clear. “We did,” they said.
One guest asked if they had any children. A female responded with, “He didn’t.” This was curious because the male didn’t answer for himself.
Another guest asked if they liked to cook. A female voice came through loud and clear. “So close to me.” Was she referring to her love of cooking, or was someone close to her? We didn’t get any clarification.
The second group came in after a quick break, ready to investigate. They had a bit more success with the Spirit Box. The ghosts were getting warmed up.
During a large portion of the second session, there was a strange humming sound recorded on the digital recorder. We didn’t hear it at the time, which makes it a true EVP. An EVP is a ghost voice spoken at a different frequency than what our ears can pick up, but is recorded on the digital recorder.
Someone asked if they enjoyed cooking and a female responded with, “It was sustenance.” This was something that resonated deeply with me. She might have spent hours slaving over a hot pot or stove, depending on the era, to make sure everyone had enough to eat. It wouldn’t be remotely similar to our modern cooking routines.
Another guest asked if they ever look out the windows. A somber male voice came across with a touch of sarcasm in his voice and said, “Yeah.” There was a slight question to his tone, as if implying that everyone looks out windows. Sometimes I think they get annoyed by our questions.
I don’t recall my group being overly tense, but the ghosts were picking up on this. One of them exclaimed, “What a tense group!” Then later, another said, “A little tense,” when asked about his favorite time of the year.
Someone asked if the little boy was with us and a female voice said, “Florence Penny.” I was unable to find any information on this name, but it may come up at a later date.
The best experience the second group had was when one of the guests asked if they could play the game “Hot and Cold.” If the ghost was close, she asked him/her to say, “Hot,” but if they were far away, they were to say, “Cold.” We got an immediate response. “Little hot,” a male voice said. It sounded like the same man who told us he liked to look out the window.
Normally, in investigations like this, the ghosts are worn out by the third session and the responses are few and far between. This wasn’t the case for Community House #2. They were only getting warmed up.
My third group had quite a bit of activity too. Someone asked if there had ever been a fire there. A male voice responded with, “You’re a teenager!”
Someone else asked if the ghosts were in front of them or behind them. A female voice surprised us all by telling us, “Above you.”
Knowing the town newspaper was once printed in the building, one of our guests told them she was waiting for a newspaper. “It’s coming,” a female voice told her.
It’s possible they were beginning to tire of our questions. When one of the guests asked if we were talking to a child, a male voice said, “Stop your asking!”
Someone asked if anyone was there with him, and a male voice told her, “Cody.”
Rosie Benton led the groups in dowsing rod sessions. As we’ve seen in previous investigations, some people are instantly good at using the rods, while others just can’t seem to make them work.
Over the course of the night, groups filtered into the second floor room that was once one used for lodging, both during the Harmonist period and later, when it was a boarding house. We used another adjoining room for “breakout sessions,” putting two or three people alone in the room with a pendulum.
Many people connected with the little boy who roams the hallways and several others connected with a woman whose timeline there was unspecified. Several people connected with departed loved ones, while others learned about the history of the building. One curious thing happened during one of the breakout sessions. Two men and a woman went into the other room. As they were finishing, one of them saw a dark shadow sweep across the wall beside him. It caused his EMF meter to flash red. He then felt something sit on the old straw mattress beside him. It was enough to cause him to jump up, startled.
All in all, everyone enjoyed their dowsing rod session with Rosie Benton.
Third Floor – written by Traci Hoehn
This third floor of Community House 2 is always active for our investigations, and this investigation was no exception. Throughout the night we experienced what seems to be an intelligent haunting, meaning a ghost who is aware of us and can communicate with us, through the dowsing rods and the spirit box. While using the spirit box, Traci utilized the Estes Method. This means that the spirit box was run through earbuds, then noise blocking headphones are put on, and finally an eye mask is put on. This means the listener has no awareness of the questions being asked. Instead, the listener just says what they hear out loud to the group. This method cuts out incorrect interpretations due to expected answers.
With the dowsing rods, all three groups had some activity. In the first session, group three was speaking with a man who lived in the building on the second floor. He came with the Owen group and was a teacher. He came to New Harmony with a wife and children. He also denied that the children were well behaved. He loved teaching and reading. Interestingly, only women had success with the dowsing rods in this group. During the second session, group two spoke with a female Harmonist. She came from Germany on a boat and had family and children here. This ghost also affirmed she was here when the support beam broke during a previous investigation. The third session with group one was the least productive dowsing session. They had very few responses, but the ghost did affirm that they ran the printing press and printed a lot of newspapers.
The ghosts seemed to become more comfortable with the Estes method as the night progressed. The first session may have been talking to a ghost named Nick. When they asked if they were still talking to Nick, the ghost proclaimed “My friends!” There was also some communication with a teacher from the Owen period. The funniest interaction for this session came at the very end. Joni came upstairs to announce break time. When she came into view of the group, the ghost shouted, “It appears!” By the time the second session rolled around, the ghosts had gotten the hang of spirit box communication with several intelligent exchanges taking place.
Four distinct voices came through the spirit box during the second session. One of them worked for the newspaper and another spoke French. Yet another left us stumped by talking about a fire saying: “We left it burning. Hours ago.” That voice also spoke about girls being in the room going back and forth. Three of the ghosts introduced themselves during this session saying “I’m Jackson,” “I’m Nick,” and “I’m Allan.” One of the ghosts had quite a sarcastic attitude. After a lull the following exchange took place:
Guest: Do you still want to speak with us?
Guest: Do you live here?
Ghost: This is a place.
Guest: Did you live on this floor?
Ghost: When it’s time. And it’s moving.
Guest: Did you work on this floor?
Ghost: I’m done. The last one. It’s time.
Guest: Time for what?
Ghost: Over there. Drowned.
Guest: Who drowned?
Ghost: Well, look at you.
The exchange was fast paced, and the ghost seemed to be challenging the more direct questions with sarcasm. The most surprising responses during this second session had to do with the movements of those sitting in the circle. At one point two people adjusted in their seats, to which the ghosts said, “Move more.” A later exchange via the spirit box proved to be more interesting:
Ghost: Go down.
Guest: Go down to what?
Ghost: You go down.
Guest: Do you want me to go downstairs?
The guest then got out of his seat and walked towards the stairs, pretending he was going to go down. When he returned to his seat, the ghost seemed unhappy.
Ghost: Do it!
The third session was just as fruitful as the second session. The name Jack came through and he told the group that he was sick and died of the flu. He seemed more forlorn than the previous ghosts and expressed that he felt regret during his death. Jack wasn’t without humor though. One guest asked if Jack liked Rock and Roll which was met with a swift ‘No.” They followed up by asking if Jack even knew what Rock and Roll was. The spirit box replied, “This is it,” which was followed by a loud bang of the elevator, causing quite a startle in the group. Perhaps the alarm was warranted as the voices through the spirit box kept warning of a man standing behind them, asserted they were armed, and kept saying “Watch out!” The ghosts tried to keep the last group on track during the session. While the group was discussing the warnings, the ghost said, “Of course it’s Nick.” Someone then asked the ghost to describe Nick, to which the replay was, “Hey! Nobody cares now.” During a later lull in the conversation and questions the ghost also encouraged the group to “keep going.”
Overall, the use of the Estes method was quite successful for the night. While the names, Jackson (Jack), Nick, and Allan came up throughout the night, we will need to do further research on two of those names. The third, Nick, may be associated with one of the formed printers, Harry “Nick” Slater.
Community House #2 never disappoints us. The souls who linger there are always eager to communicate with us and share small details of their lives. We are grateful for the experience.
Thank you to everyone who came out! And thanks to my amazing team for making it happen!