Once again, we were back at the Orchard House for our second round of investigations. This was beneficial on so many levels. We were comfortable with the location and knew all the best places to investigate, and we had a lot of information to build from. We knew the names of six of the primary ghosts that haunted the house, so we were able to better focus on learning about them.
We divided into four groups and began investigating the four zones.
First session – Red Group
Traci led the groups in this haunted room. She started out by explaining the room. When Jane Owen hired a decorator for the Orchard House years ago, she wanted a Civil War theme, but she didn’t want to play favorites. It is decorated with both the Union and Confederate troops in mind. The Lee/Lincoln bedroom is a prime example of this. The room also had a secret room hidden in a built-in cabinet.
This group participated in the Estes Method, which uses a Spirit Box. A Spirit Box is a modified radio that scans quickly through the channels, allowing the ghosts to speak through the white noise. With the Estes Method, participants are hooked directly to the Spirit Box while the group asks questions. Since they are wearing noise canceling headphones, the participant can’t hear the questions being asked of the ghosts in the room. They can only hear what comes across the Spirit Box and will call out what they hear. When the questions and answers line up, it removes the possibility of preconceived notions. We won’t try to make the answer line up with the question.
The first guest donned the headphones and they were off and running.
Q: Do you have a big sweet tooth? Do you like dancing? What did you do for a living? Can you hear us? Are you an adult or a child? Is the Captain, George or Roscoe still here? (names they got during the previous investigation). Are you scared? Did you have a happy life? Do you have any advice for us?
They didn’t get any responses from the participant, so they pulled her out. She said she could hear mumbling, but couldn’t make out any clear words. The next person took over.
Q: Where was your favorite place in town? Do you go around to other buildings in town? Do you like living in New Harmony? Do you remember my name? Are you friendly? Did you used to live here?
The second participant didn’t get any responses either. He said he could hear fragments of words, but nothing he could make out clearly. The third participant put on the headphones and they started the next session.
Q: We want to talk to you. Where is everyone? Are you mad that Marissa is sitting in your seat?
Jason Nelson came in with the SLS camera. It shows stick figures on the screen when it detects a ghost. He immediately saw something on the camera, but it disappeared quickly. AFter a minute, it reappeared above the participant’s head.
They finally got an answer. She said, “basketball.”
Q: Did you enjoy playing basketball? Did you ever watch people play basketball out the window?
After a few more rounds of questions, they once again switched participants.
Q: Can you make the chair rock? Is there anybody in the room with us? Can you tell me what the Captain’s name is?
Q: Do you have a blanket here? Are you cold?
They heard a knock that sounded like it came from inside the room.
Q: Is that knock from you?
Q: Are you sweating under the blanket? Are you sick?
Time was up, so they pulled him out of the session.
Second Session – Yellow Group
Traci got her second group going and the first participant put on the headphones.
Q: Is there anyone here with us now? What’s your name?
Q: Hello, Colt. My name is Traci. How are you? Do you know the Captain? Did you live here in the 1900s?
Q: Did you live here during the 1800s? Are you in your forties?
Q: Colt, did you live here in this house?
A: Deeter deeter
Q: Can you explain what deeter deeter means? Did you live here?
Q: Did you work here?
Q: The house.
Q: Was there a clover field here?
Q: Did you come here on a boat? What do people call this house? Were you involved in the Civil War?
Q: Did you get paid to work in the clover field? Did people pay you for passage? Was there an orchard here when you were here?
A: In the end
Q: Where were you going? Did you have trouble with your chest? (she was feeling pressure on her chest)
A: Turn around
Q: Traci was telling the group about the last session and how they told them there was someone coming for someone.
A: That was me
Q: That was you? Did people wear shackles here?
A: I was pressed
Q: You were pressed?
A: You heard? The word?
Q: Was there a safe word? Was deetle deetle the safe word?
Q: Are you afraid to tell us the safe word?
They pulled Becca out of the session. She asked if that was a bunch of randomness and Traci assured her they weren’t. They lined up with a lot of the questions.They put someone else on headphones.
Q: Is Colt still here? Did you live in this house between 1860 and 1865?
Q: Did you help people escape to freedom? Colt, are you trying to show yourself in the mirror? Were you in the picture?
A: No.Thank you.
Q: Thank you for being polite. Is this still Colt? Or is the the Captain? Roscoe? George? Greg? Maddie or Max?
Q: Did Colt leave?
Q: Colt, is Max your son? Can you make the ball light up?
A: No. Honestly. You.
Q: Colt, were you in there with us?
Q: In the hidden room. Why does Max have to stay inside? What’s your favorite color?
Q: Can you name them?
A: I don’t care.
Q: Let us know if you’d like to talk to us
Q: Are you on the bed?
Q: Are you standing behind me?
The timer went off, so they ended the session
Third Session – Orange Group
After a brief discussion about the room and the experiment, they got started with the session.
Q: Is there anyone here who would like to talk to us?
Q: As in the month, or is that your name? Did you live in this house?
Q: Did you live in New Harmony?
Q: Are you male or female?
Q: How old are you?
A: What would you like? See
Q: I was just wondering how old you are? Did you visit here? Is anybody with you?
A: A book
Q: Are you reading a book? What kind of book? Can you tell us your name? What would you like us to call you? Are you in one of the books on the table?
Q: Are you on the bed? (Traci jumped in to ask that because the cat ball activated)
A: Three eight
Q: What does that mean? (Traci noted that the cat ball was going crazy on the bed even though no one was moving it). Do you know who’s here?
A: No good. One.
Q: Is there someone who’s here that is no good?
Q: Do you like bell-bottomed jeans
Q: Did you wear them in the service? Were you in the Navy?
A: I’m with you
Q: What does that mean? Are you a captain?
They pulled him out and put another person in.
Q: We’ve switched listeners. Do you want to continue talking with us? Can you repeat any of our names?
Jason came in with the SLS camera and was picking up something on the bed where the cat ball was lighting up.
Q: Is that your age?
Q: Is that your name? (the cat ball began going off again) Have you been here a long time? Is Marcus your name?
Q: Do you go to church?
A: At the doctor
Q: Are you sick? (Jason was picking up a stick figure sitting back to back with one of the guests). Are you on the bed?
A: Yes (cat ball also activated)
Q: Are you tired?
A: The corner
Q: Are you behind the rocking chair
Q: Is someone outside?
A: You are
Q: What’s outside?
A: It’s time
Q: What is it time for? Are we going somewhere?
A: Girl. The dark.
Q: Is there a girl in the secret room
A: You. The storm.
Q: Did it storm while you were in there? (cat ball lit up) Are you scared of storms?
Q: Were you shut inside the room? Are we still talking to Marcus?
A: Hey, Mother. I’m sorry. Church.
Q: Did your mother go to church? Did you live near a church?
A: Bedroom. What is that?
Q: Are you talking about the light? That’s so we can see you. ARe you talking about the camera?
A: This one. The back door’s open.
Q: (Traci asked someone to see if the back door in the hidden room was still open – it wasn’t)
A: I’m telling you. Down.
Q: Down where?
A: Free. Hey
Q: What are you doing? Are you ready for bed?
A: It’s mine
Q: Is this your bed?
A: Now. Yes. Now. It’s mine. (Jason was tracking something moving around the room on the SLS)
Q: This room? This bed?
A: Yes. Tomorrow.
Q: You’ve brought up church.
Q: Yes, you’ve brought it up twice.
A: I want
Q: You want to go to church tomorrow? Do you want a bible in here?
Q: Are you a teenager? (Seventeen was brought up earlier)
Q: Is tomorrow your birthday? Will you be seventeen tomorrow? What’s your name?
Q: No, my name is Mickey. What’s your name? Are you male or female?
A: Questions! (he was probably getting tired of the repetitive questions)
Q: Do you have questions for us? Are there too many questions? Do you have plans tomorrow? You’ve mentioned tomorrow a few times.
A: In here. Please
Q: Were you married? How old are you?
Time was up, so they pulled him out of the session. They reported they were getting answers with the pendulum in the break-out room. Some of them reported they would be getting responses and it would suddenly stop. Traci noted that the activity seemed to increase in the bedroom when it was quiet in the break-out room. One person felt like it was a girl who was afraid of storms and was hiding in the secret room.
Fourth Session – Blue Group
The Blue Group was excited to investigate the Lee/Lincoln room. Traci got them started quickly.
Q: Is there anyone here with us? Can you tell us your name?
Q: It’s what?
Q: Is there a woman named Darlene here? Is there a woman in this room at all? Are you all talked out?
Q: What do you need help with?
Q: Gone where?
A: Nine. You. Adam.
Q: You’re Adam?
A: Stay. I. Girls. Come back
Q: Come back from where? What is your name? Is this your room?
A: All I’m hearing is piano music. Natural. You.
Q: Is that your grandmother?
A: To repeat.. Hope
Q: What’s the name of the song? Do you feel like rocking? Are you making that chair rock?
A: Yes. There. Far.
Q: Is that your favorite chair? Do you like rocking?
A: New Hampshire
Q: Are you from New Hampshire? Is your name Mary?
A: I’m not going to repeat that one!
They pulled her out and she told them she heard, “I’m so horny,” which gave everyone a laugh. Bekka donned the headphones and got started.
A: Anytime. Outside. A lot.
Q: Do you knit? (Traci interjected and asked them to focus their questions around the responses)
A: Right now. Dave.
Q: What’s your last name, Dave?
A: Brian. I.
Q: Dave Brian? Are you from New Hampshire? What were you going to say after I?
A: I. Can.
Q: Is there something you can do?
A: My body
Q: Did you move the cat ball on the bed earlier?
Q: Are you on the bed now? Can you make the cat ball light up again?
Q: Who is her?
Q: Is she your wife?
A: The whole/hole. Blank. I’m sorry. Run.
Q: Where did you run? Did you run home? Are there slaves running?
Q: Are there slaves running. Are you going north?
A: On a farm
Q: Are we on a farm? Are we hungry? Can you hear me okay?
A: In the corner
Q: Which corner?
Q: Are you propped in the corner?
A: I want
Q: What do you want?
They pulled Bekka out of the session and set the next person up.
A: I just heard my name
Q: How many of you are in the hole? Are you still in the room with us?
Q: Your what? Are you scared? What is the hole?
Q: What is the hole?
A: I still
Q: Why are you scared of the hole?
A: We’re. Home.
Q: Is this your home? How long did you live here? Or are you just visiting? Are you in the room with us?
Q: Are you worried? Can you make the ball light up?
They closed the door and the light completely went out, making several people (Rosie :)) scream. It was a wiring issue they had noticed earlier.
Q: Can you move the cat ball? We’re going to be stopping soon. Do you have any questions?
Q: You aren’t allowed to follow anyone home, but we thank you for talking to us.
He took off the headphones and they finished the session by discussing the night. He said he felt a burning sensation on his left arm. It almost felt like a pinching.
The living room at the Orchard House has been a hotspot for us during investigations. Like in its heyday, it was a space where people would congregate and rest. It was a comfortable room for our investigation, as well. There were plenty of comfortable chairs and sofas to sit on, and they were able to close the doors to prevent noise contamination from the other rooms.
First Session – Orange Group
Donna Tilly led the groups in the living room, using both a Spirit Box and the Phasma Box. The Spirit Box is a tool we use in many of our investigations because it’s so tried and true. We always get responses on it. The downfall of the Spirit Box is the choppy sound it makes as it searches the radio channels. We decided to introduce a new piece of equipment for this investigation. The Phasma Box is a program Donna downloaded onto a laptop. It has a tremendous word bank the ghosts can utilize to communicate with.
Her first group got started with the Phasma Box. It only took four minutes before the first clear response came through. One of the guests asked how long they’ve been there and one of the ghosts said, “Take a look at this guy.” It was an eerie response, making me wonder if they were all sitting around evaluating us as we attempted to communicate with them.
Not long after that response, one of them said Donna’s name. It wasn’t spoken after a question. It just came out of the blue. This is what we call an intelligent response. There’s no question that the response came from a ghost in the room who was aware of what was going on. That’s when things get strange. I clipped it and posted it on Soundcloud and promoted it on Facebook and people came back to tell me that it sounded like a notification, not a voice. I went to listen and sure enough, it had a two-tone, “ding dong” sound. I went back to the computer and completely reloaded the file and listened to it, clearly hearing “Donna” again. I uploaded it once again…and it sounded like the notification sound again. Getting frustrated, I actually listened to the digital voice recorder, thinking for sure I’d hear “Donna.” Nope. All I heard was the notification “ding dong” sound again. I know what I heard (twice!) and am not sure why that happened. Was there a ghost in the machine or was it some sort of technical glitch? If anyone has any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.
Another guest commented on the house, saying, “Pretty house.” A plaintive voice answered her. “It won’t let me out,” she said. This breaks my heart because nobody should be trapped in a location.
Donna then switched to the Spirit Box. This is a new device developed by John Huntington out of Maine. He modifies radios to turn them into spirit communication devices. We got 21 EVPs from it the last time.
It didn’t take long before they got the first response. A guest asked if they knew Maddie or Max, which are two of the ghosts we communicated with during the last investigation. A voice answered, “Maddie.”
During the remainder of the session, I kept hearing the name “Leonard” spoken. I heard it at least four times, so he was adamant we knew he was there.
Second Session – Blue Group
Donna started the second session with the Phasma Box. They introduced themselves and started the investigation. It wasn’t long before the ghosts had their own question. “You visiting?” one of them asked.
The Phasma Box is trippy to listen to. The sounds have a warped reverberation sound that gives it an automatic eerie sensation. There were several times when it sounded like they were genuinely trying to answer the questions, the responses were gibberish. Finally, Donna asked if they’d had supper and a male voice said, “Follow me.” Was he going to show her where they ate?
Donna asked if they felt the cold weather and a woman with a distinct southern accent told her, “Y’all, remember Eddie.” Who’s Eddie? That’s not a name we’ve encountered there before. Was she talking about Eddie who haunts Capers Emporium?
I didn’t catch this response until I heard a guest remark about it. When I went back and listened, it says, “Chris, can you hear me?” This is another name we haven’t encountered before. How many ghosts are there at the Orchard House? Or are we drawing them in?
Seconds later, we got another interesting response. I should add, this all happens in the first seven minutes of the investigation. Donna asked if they helped slaves find their way to freedom and a weary sounding woman responded, “So many.”
Donna asked if they knew what kind of trees were in the orchard and it sounds like a woman and a man were discussing her question. “Trees?” she asked. He responded, “In the orchard.”
There were quite a few responses on the Phasma Box that “kind of” sounded like responses, but weren’t clear enough to clip. It might take the ghosts some time to get used to this new piece of equipment.
They then switched to the Spirit Box to see if they could uncover any new information.
There were a lot of blips and blurbs, but the only clear response came when someone asked if they liked music. A faint voice said, “Yes.” But then again, who doesn’t like music?
Third Session – Yellow Group
They began the session and got an immediate response. After they all introduced themselves, Donna asked if the ghosts in the room could tell them their names. Without skipping a beat, a male voice answered with, “Lloyd.” How many ghosts are there? This is another new name.
During every group, Donna tried to determine if the house was used during the Underground Railroad. Usually, her questions went unanswered. But this time, she got an answer. “How many people did you saved (with the Underground Railroad)?” A man came through clearly and said, “We weren’t sure.” This is an honest answer. If they did hide runaway slaves, they probably wouldn’t know if they eventually made their way to freedom. It makes my heart hurt to think about.
They got some odd responses. They thought they were talking to Colt and asked where he was and it kind of sounded like he said, “in the kitchen.” Then, they asked who else was speaking and a voice came through and said, “I am.”
A male voice came out of nowhere and asked, “Are you possessed?” It was a strange exclamation, so I clipped it. It was also very clear.
They switched to the Spirit Box, but didn’t get anything. Donna asked them about their breakout groups. One man said he was in an illegal marriage and another person said they talked to someone who helped Union soldiers.
Fourth Session – Red Group
They started with the Phasma Box and began getting responses right away. When one of the guests asked if they wanted to talk to them, a woman responded with, “Who is that?”
When one of the guests asked if she was okay, we got a very specific question. It was so clear, I had to listen to it twice to make sure it wasn’t a guest. “Are you ready?. Press the button,” she said.
A guest asked if they were all happy in New Harmony and a woman responded, “Half as good.”
For every clear response, there were a lot of answers that weren’t clear. Sometimes voices just popped through and said something clearly, but it made no sense. At one point, a man came through and said, “More productive.” As one guest began asking questions, it kind of sounded like it said, “skip her.” She went on to ask questions, but every time she spoke, a voice would come through the device, preventing her from speaking. And then, out of the blue, a male voice said, “Appreciate ya’ll.” A guest responded with, “Well, we appreciate you.”
When asked what his favorite food was, it kind of sounded like he said “Chocolate.” When asked if he liked chocolate, it sounded like he said, “kind of.” It wasn’t clear enough to clip, but was still interesting.
As I listened to the audio, I often wondered if we were truly getting responses or if the Phasma Box just spit out words from its workbank on occasion, but then I got this and it dispelled the skepticism. A guest asked if Maddie was the only kid there and a man answered her right away. “Maddie,” he said, repeating what she asked.
They switched to the Spirit Box but didn’t get a single clear response. This is interesting to me, because we got 21 clear responses with the same device two weeks ago. It makes me think that the ghosts have a preference and they liked the Phasma Box better.
Joni’s Paranormal 101
I spent my half hour teaching guests how to feel ghosts without any equipment. With each group, only several people professed to have any six senses, but as we continued we learned there were far more of them with a paranormal sensitivity. At the end of the session, I handed out paper and pencil and asked them to identify the ghost(s) in the room. I was feeling two ghosts. One was a woman in her 30’s with dark hair that was pulled up on her head. She was medium height and was thin with a long Victorian blue dress on. There was also a younger man there. He was tall, thin with dark hair and wore a dark suit. I felt as though he was also from the Victorian period (late 1800s). I told them nothing about what I felt. Here’s what they came up with:
First Session – Blue Group
- Female. Older. Medium height. Light hair. Reddish dress. Late 1800’s
- Male. Middle age. Tall, dark hair. Casual clothes, late 1800s
- Female. Younger. Dark hair. Long light colored dress with flowers. Late 1800s
- Female. Younger. Medium height. Dark hair
- Female. Light hair. Late 1800s. Saw a man too. Dark hair, tall
- Male. Older. Tall. Gray hair. Union Army uniform. 1800s
- Male. Older. Tall. Light hair. Jeans and a button up shirt. 1700s
- Male. Older. Medium height. Dark hair. 1800s
Second Session – Orange Group
- Male. Young. Tall and thin. Dark hair. Sees red stripes on his clothing. 1890s
- Female. Medium height. Thin. Fairly dark hair. Ankle length blue pattern dress. Early 1900s
- Female. Older. Short. Light hair. Blue patterned dress. 1930s
- Female. Young. Short. Thin. Light hair. Blue patterned dress.
- Female. Young. Tall, medium weight. Light hair. 1960s
- Female. Thin. Dark hair. Victorian era. Floral print dress
- Male. Tall. light hair. Wore stripes
- Female. Young. Medium height and build. Blue dress. 1800s
- Male. Young. Light hair. Three piece suit. White shirt, dark suit. 1800s
Third Session – Red Group
- Woman with light hair. Medium height. Thin. Early 1900s
- Male, Young. Medium height. Thin. Light hair. Early 1900s. Dark pants, white shirt with suspenders
- Young female. Medium height. Thin. Dark hair. Late 1800s. Long dress
- Older male, short, dark hair. 1920s-1950s
Fourth Session – Yellow Group
- Male. Middle aged. Dark hair. Late 1800’s. Pants with suspenders
- Male. Young. Short. Dark hair. Name Cotton
- Male. Young. Light hair. Short. 1860s’. White shirt, gray pants and a coat
- Male. Young. Medium height. Dark Hair. 1860s. Dark clothing. Darlene
- Female. Middle aged. Short. Dark hair. Light colored dress.
- Male. Young. Tall. Dark Hair. 1800s. White shirt and dark pants. G name
As I explained to them, people often intuit ghosts like the ghosts would want them to be seen. My friend, Sandy, and I used this method to hone our abilities many years ago. We were always perplexed as to why she would see them older than I would until we realized that Sandy was older than I was. They were showing us different ages that were closer to our own.
You can see there are many similarities. Most people saw a woman with a blueish dress. Some saw her as short, but this is relative. Most of the people who saw her as short were taller people themselves. Most of the people also saw her with dark hair, but even this could be subjective. They also saw a man who was often dark haired, tall, thin and wore some sort of suit. Suspenders came up in several of the groups, as did red stripes. One guest saw him wearing a Union Army uniform.
It was an interesting experiment, and I will continue doing this with my groups. I might even add more elements to it to see if we can get even more information. The outcome was what I expected. People who are drawn to the paranormal are often people with a sixth sense. They may suspect it’s there but don’t realize it until they work with it.
While we were doing our sessions, Jason often came in with the SLS camera and here is one of his catches. It was dancing above my head.
First Session – Yellow Group
Whistling Rick led dowsing rod sessions in the upstairs master bedroom. He gave the group instructions on how to use the rods. They introduced themselves and got started. Each guest had a chance to use the rods. Here’s what they found:
- There was someone there with them
- Roscoe wasn’t there
- George wasn’t there
- Greg and the Captain were there
- Maddie and Max weren’t there
- They don’t like whiskey
- They wouldn’t point to where they were at (said, no when asked)
- No women were in there
- Not born in the 1900s
- Were born in the 1800s
- He used to work in the orchard
- The little boy (Max) was still there
- Max is ten years old
- Max has a sister there
- He still plays there
- He plays in the secret room
- They were talking to the Captain
- He wasn’t between the age of 30-50
- He didn’t like being the Captain
- Captain was his nickname
- He was involved in town politics
- He likes chocolate cake and ice cream (as someone commented: who doesn’t?)
- Max was there too. He was by the bathroom.
Second Session – Red Group
- There was someone there with them
- Was involved in politics in town
- Was there in the 1800s
- Frequents other locations in town – Gymnasium and Workingmen’s Institute
- Scotty the former town marshall was not there with them
- They know the group is friendly
- They didn’t live in the house
- They are just a visitor
Jason came into the room with the SLS camera and caught something, but it disappeared quickly
- They don’t want to show themselves on the SLS camera
- Roscoe was there with them
- Greg was also there with them
- Greg worked in town
- He worked on one of the farms in town
- Max and the Captain were also there
- He stopped there once on the river and decided to stay
- He likes it there
- He was there when the house was built
- He was there during the Civil War
- He served during the Civil War
- He was a Confederate soldier
Third Session – Blue Group
- There was a male with them
- He didn’t live in the house
- He didn’t have a family
- He wasn’t from New Harmony
- He worked on a farm
- He remembers the orchard
- He was over by the bathroom
- There were more than one of them
- It was another male
- He was standing between two of the guests
- There is one person there they’d like to talk to
- He was hanging out by the bathroom
- He liked apples
- He likes piano music (she got the same answer on the Phasma Box earlier)
- Neither of the men were married
- He taught music
- He went to church on Sundays
- He played music in church choir
- He played the piano
Fourth Session – Orange Group
Rick experienced a technical issue and the fourth session wasn’t recorded.
I think we dug a bit deeper on the haunting of the Orchard House. We did get confirmation that it was once used to hide runaway slaves and we also confirmed that a child named Maddie still lingers there. We had a few encounters with the others we discovered at the first investigation, but our conversations didn’t turn up as much information as we would have liked. I’ll definitely be setting up another investigation at this location at a later date. It’s too intriguing!
(Above: Top row (L-R) Rich Schlegelmilch, Jason Nelson, RJ Drone. Front row (L-R) Donna Tilly, Traci Hoehn, Joni Mayhan.
Thank you to my team for all your hard work, and thank you to all the guests who joined us!