We were delighted to have the chance to investigate Capers Emporium in New Harmony, Indiana. When walking through the doors of Capers Emporium, it’s difficult to imagine a haunting. The interior is eclectic and vibrant, providing you with a pleasant sensory overload of colors, textures and scents. But beneath this happy façade lurks a whole other world.
I worked here for several years, helping the Guards set up the business and then staying on for an additional year. During my time here, I always felt creeped out by the basement. Every time I would walk downstairs, I would feel as though someone was following me around. During a New Year’s Eve party there, I brought my paranormal gear and did a short EVP session in the basement with my Spirit Box. I wanted to know who haunted the basement. Was it someone left over from the Odd Fellow’s years or was it an employee from the hardware store or grocery store?
“Who is hot on my heels when I come down to the basement?” I asked.
The Spirit Box answered immediately. “That’s Eddie,” it said. This was chilling on several levels. Firstly, the response was intelligent and clear. Secondly, it alerted me to the fact that there were more than one ghost there – Eddie and the person who tattled on him.
Over the years, we all experienced Eddie’s antics. Even die-hard skeptics changed their opinions after witnessing his blatant attempts to be known.
The first building on the property was a harness store.
After it was torn down, a massive two-story building was built for the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Built in 1925, the building later housed a hardware store and grocery store. After the grocery store went out of business, the building sat empty until 2013. Indiana Landmarks partnered with the Efroymson Family Fund and restored the exterior of the building. Not long afterwards, Mary Beth and Michael Guard purchased the building and did massive renovations on the inside of the building. By 2018, Capers Emporium opened its doors for business, providing the community, as well as tourists, a fun place to shop.
After a brief introduction, we split into three groups led by Donna Tilly, Ben Adams and Rosie Benton. The groups were assigned a schedule, bringing them to all three floors. Rick Schlegelmilch oversaw the investigations on the first floor. Joni Mayhan held court on the second floor, and, as always, Traci Hoehn took the basement.
In each location, we offered Break-out Investigations, where 2-3 people would go alone and use a pendulum to ask questions. On the first floor, the Break-Out group sat with the SLS camera (X-Box technology) to look for stick figures. I will post a separate video at a later date.
As we would soon find out, it would end up being an epic night.
The second floor of the building is a massive space that the owners are turning into living quarters. The space is under construction, so we carved out a spot for ourselves in between the tools and supplies. Seven minutes into our first session, we were all startled by a loud noise. Something big fell over, but no one had any idea what it was. It was enough to rattle the group. When something like this happens, some of us begin to wonder. If they can knock over a huge piece of plywood, what else can they do? I asked who did it and a male voice said, “I did.” He wouldn’t give his name though.
Someone asked how many were there and at the time we thought someone said, “ten,” but under evidence review, I realized they said, “Ben,” which is the name of the handyman who does the renovations in that room. I wonder if Ben realizes they know him by name.
My second group was lively and asked some great questions. We had the owner, Mary Beth Guard, in the group and I really feel it brought out more reactions from the ghosts.
Mary Beth asked if they liked it when she plays her piano. A man responded with “yes.”
Someone asked if they were an Odd Fellow. One voice responded with, “could be,” and then another said “Sup!” The second response was so clear, it was as if someone in the room said it.
Jim Huff also joined us. His family owned the grocery store that was once located in the building. He’s had many experiences there over the years. just returned from a breakout session where he’d been talking to someone who died in the Griffin tornado. He asked if he was still speaking to him and the man said, “yep.”
Mary Beth asked if they liked the basement the best and a man said, “In the basement.” Clear as day.
Someone asked if they were still there and a man responded, “I am.”
Normally, by the end of the night, the ghosts are tired and the responses come more sporadically. This night would be different. It was as though they were just getting warmed up.
As soon as we started the session, one of the ghosts said my name.
Soon after, someone said something odd. “Feel the plate,” he said. Capers is a kitchen and gift shop. Had he been downstairs fondling the dishware?
Rosie was the leader of this group and she seemed to be impacted by the ghosts there. She asked, “Are you behind me?” A female voice answered, “Right in front.” I repeated what it said and a male voice said, “Right,” as though confirming it.
She asked if they were making her cold and a female voice came through and said, “Rosie.”
Jason came up with the camcorder and it once again died. They were draining the batteries to use the energy.
Someone asked if there was more scary stuff in town. A male voice told her, “It’s dark here.”
We got a few more responses to questions, but none of them were clear enough to determine.
They wanted to know who was in the basement. Someone inquired and got a response of “Edward.” I think it’s safe to say that Eddie holds court down there.
The bell across the street chimed on the hour, but it chimed an extra ring. We asked about that and got an intelligent response.
I asked about Eddie again and he told me emphatically, “I’m in the front.”
Rick Schlegelmilch led groups on the first floor of the building where the retail store and kitchen are located. The group sat around the counter in the back and started out with a Spirit Box Session.
They got a few responses, but they were so faint and muddled, it was difficult to make them out. When asked what their favorite color is, it sounded like a man said, “I don’t know.” They moved on to using Dowsing Rods. Here are some other relevant responses that happened over the course of the night.
• There were more than ten ghosts in the building.
• They were talking to a male – he was older than 20.
• He was related to someone who was there that day.
• Eddie was there. He’s the one who moves things in the store.
• They’re in his way when they’re in the kitchen.
• He was the one who knocked the candles down.
• He doesn’t have any kids.
• He likes everyone who works there. He likes Ashley.
• He’s not an Odd Fellow.
• He didn’t live in New Harmony
• They know who Whistling Rick is
• Eddie and Peter weren’t friends (The name Peter was mentioned in the basement)
• They know Emily (also mentioned in the basement)
• They don’t like it when Rick’s dog, Clutch, poops on the sidewalk in front
• Peter was also there. He knows Emily and Eddie.
• They didn’t like Town Marshall Scotty
• Town Marshall Scotty popped in to speak with them. He still checks in with family.
They didn’t get a response on the Spirit Box until the third group. Donna Tilly asked about the sound I heard when I first started working at Capers years ago. It sounded like a bucket of nails falling to the floor, but when I went to look, nothing was out of place. I later found out that the building was a hardware store.
As the last session was coming to an end, a strange thing happened. On the audio, which I reviewed later, I could clearly hear the sound of a music box playing. I asked both Rick and Donna if they remembered someone playing a music box and neither did. I’m not certain it’s paranormal, but I’m including it here regardless. If someone knows anything about this, please let me know.
The Basement – written by Traci Hoehn
The basement of Capers Emporium proved to be very active during the investigation. For our basement sessions, we used the spirit box to communicate with the ghosts. For this experiment, the spirit box was attached to earbuds, which I wore. I then donned noise-canceling headphones and a blindfold to ensure I couldn’t hear nor see what was being asked by the groups. This method, known as the Estes Method, helps dismantle the phenomenon in which we hear what we want to hear in response to questions posed.
The ghosts started communicating right away with the first group. The ghost confirmed that they stay in the basement, then this interesting exchange occurred (My repetition of the spirit box will be in Italics):
Do you do maintenance in this basement?
Do it. Yes.
Have you worked here a long time?
Did I? Yeah.
Intelligent responses are always promising, especially at the beginning of a session. After having a string of unanswered questions or nonsensical responses, the name ‘Adam’ came through. When asked “Who’s Adam?” the ghosts responded, “A baker.” Later, a ghost responded that they have to be invited when asked if they could go upstairs, and the following happened:
Are you invited upstairs?
Do you like it upstairs?
Do you have a job upstairs?
I smell it.
Could this be Adam, the one who said he was a baker earlier, talking about the smell of his creations?
The next ghost to introduce themselves to the first session was Patrick. He said he was not alone in the basement. When asked, “Do you know things here?” Patrick replied, “Time. Repeat.” This is especially interesting because there are theories that some ghosts get stuck in loops repeating past behaviors.
The last exchange of the first session demonstrated the fact that ghosts have personalities and can be as sarcastic as the living:
You said you would let us hear your voice, are you going to say something important?
Come on. We’re going.
Where are we going?
Where is here?
After getting warmed up in the first session, the second session did not disappoint. The group was already terrified after having experienced a large bang of equipment falling on the second floor during the first session. However, they swallowed their fears and pushed forward with a seemingly different ghost than those who had spoken in the first session.
Is there anything that you want us to know?
Is Peter here with us?
Hello, Peter. What are you doing here, Peter?
Is there anybody else here, other than Peter?
I felt it. More and more.
Were there other ghosts entering the room? It seemed to be the case. Upon further questioning, the ghost told the group that there was now a female ghost in the room. When asked if the girl from upstairs was with them, the reply was “In the middle.” It was confirmed that the ghost meant she was in the middle of the room and wanted help.
A perennial question is whether ghosts can physically feel as we, the living, can. After the name ‘Emily’ came through the spirit box, there was an abrupt change in dialogue:
Ice. Can’t you feel it? We can.
Are you cold?
About a minute later, I noted that I was feeling a cold breeze at my back, which no one else in the room could feel. Perhaps the cold was related to another exchange that happened minutes later:
Are you with Emily and Eddie?
How did you get injured?
What did you fall from?
Did Eddie push you?
Hey. Happy now.
While we don’t know of an incident in the building where someone was pushed or fell resulting in their death, it would not be unheard of in such an old building. We will have to further investigate this.
The ghosts in the second session were also very courteous, as evidenced by the next conversation:
Did Eddie do something?
IS Eddie here?
It’s a spider.
Listening to the audio recording, it is apparent that several of the group members shuffled around making sure no spider was crawling on them. However, in the dark, it is very possible that a little eight-legged friend was visiting. A few more names came through during this second session, including Christian and Brad, although no information was given about these people.
The second session also had my favorite statement of the night from the spirit box. Apropos of nothing, the ghost said. “Pardon me. Disgusting.” I very much want to believe that this is evidence that ghosts can have flatulence.
The third session was as active as the preceding two. As affirmed by the first two sessions, these ghosts seem to exist mainly in the basement:
What’s your favorite part of the building?
What do you like about it down here?
Another name then came through: Madison. Perhaps Madison was interrupting because the spirit box then seemed to pick up part of a conversation between two ghosts:
Just a minute.
Well, what are we waiting for?
The ghosts obviously weren’t talking to the living here, but they soon re-established their connection.
Are you by yourself?
Next to you.
You’re sitting next to me now?
Although this ghost wouldn’t provide further details about their location or purpose, it can be quite chilling to have a ghost next to you. Even more unsettling is the transaction that took place later in the session when a ghost was asked, “What’s next?” and stated, “Follow you.” Hopefully, none of our participants had a new house guest after they made it home.
Another ghost, we’re not sure which one, came through and was quite upset, claiming their friend had been lost somewhere “out there.” Maybe this ghost was Emily.
Are you a Harmonist?
How old are you, Emily?
There. There it is.
Maybe the maid is the friend who was lost.
We also encountered some sassy ghosts during the third session. When asked if Eddie was their brother, some ghost quickly replied, “Shut up.” It looks like either they are not a fan of Eddie, or they did not like the person asking.
The most interesting moment for this group came when something moved in the basement and made a noise. The group could not find the source of the noise, so they asked the following questions:
Did you move something?
Did you hear me?
Can you make another noise?
Is there more than one?
Here we are.
Can you make another noise?
All in all, the third session was productive, and we have several names to research. In addition to those mentioned, the names Alice, Peter, Isaac (or perhaps Peter Isaac), and Andrew came through the box. We aren’t sure which ghost it was, but one of them even seemed to be sparking a treasure hunt in the store and surrounding area:
Can’t find it.
What can’t you find?
Did you lose money down here?
I’ve got some.
Are you still looking for the money?
Can’t get ‘em.
Is there some long-lost treasure in New Harmony waiting to be unearthed? It looks like we may never know as the third and final session came to a close. The living and dead were of one accord at the end of the investigation. As the group leader, Ben, looked at his watch and said, “Ok, guys. I think that’s it,” the ghosts agreed finishing the night with “That’s all.”
Overall, we were elated with the level of activity. Even though the building has never been investigated before, the ghosts were willing to come forth and speak with us.
I’d like to thank everyone for coming out. I’d also like to thank my team for their outstanding efforts.
If you enjoyed our evidence review, check out some of my paranormal books on Amazon.com. Click HERE.