Ghosts in the Gallery Investigation

Featured

2nd group gallery 5.jpg

We never know what to expect when we walk into a location that has never been investigated before. Will it be active or will it be quiet? Sometimes it’s like rolling the dice. We are always surprised, but we never expected to be as shocked as we were during the Ghosts in the Gallery investigation. Something would happen during the night that would leave us shaken.

The Mason-Nordgauer Fine Arts Gallery in New Harmony, Indiana, is a treat for the eyes. When you first walk through the door,  you will notice the colorful art lining the walls, but soon your eyes are drawn to the architectural details of the nineteenth-century building. If you are a paranormal enthusiast, you might also wonder if it’s haunted.

It wouldn’t be surprising that ghosts might linger there. The building began its existence as the Centennial Saloon.  Old sepia-tinted photos depict men with bowler hats and long dark jackets lounging at the entrance while horse and buggies approach in the distance.

IMG_20191210_112209.jpg

(Above) The earliest photo I could find of the building. As you can see, of the buildings that now grace Main Street, it was the first one build on this block. Photo courtesy of Workingmen’s Institute

The building has endured many incarnations since its grandiose beginnings, many of them lost to time. We know the building, or at least half of it, was the location of Heckmann’s Drug Store. When I wrote Haunted New Harmony, I often fell down a rabbit hole during my research. It was difficult not to become enamoured with the characters from New Harmony’s past. Afterall, they were people just like us, living a life of their own creation in a town we still covet.

From Haunted New Harmony:

Louis Heckmann purchased the building in the early 1900’s and opened a successful drug store that operated for many years. The more I researched his life, the more obsessed I became.

Louis Heckman

(Above) Louis Heckman in front of his drug store. Photo courtesy of Workingmen’s Institute

I learned that he was born in 1870 and died in 1958 at the ripe old age of 88. In the years between, he married a woman named Ella and had several children, one of whom worked with him at the pharmacy. He was fond of travel and took several trips on airplanes to visit his grown children in Pennsylvania. Like me, he too was intrigued by the history of the people who lived there before him.

While renovating a Harmonist house, he discovered footprints in the dirt beneath the floorboards that belonged to the Harmonists who built it. Not only were there footprints of people, there were also footprints of cats and dogs, showing that the Harmonists kept indoor pets.

Louis’s store was once the site of a robbery, with the thieves making off with $300 worth of jewelry, watches, fountain pens and money.

We know Louis sold the business in the 1940’s to man named Clyde Ramsey. As I dug into the research, I learned that Clyde committed suicide in the building in 1946. The night before his death, he attended a Masonic Temple meeting in Evansville. When he returned to town, he discovered his soda fountain was broken. Instead of going to bed and worrying about it in the morning, he stayed up all night working on it, not stopping until 5pm the following day when he put a revolver to his head and ended his own life. We have to assume that Clyde had other troubles in his life besides a broken soda fountain, but that information is largely lost to time as well.

We also know that a funeral home existed in the store next-door to the gallery, with the embalming process occurring in the basement. Considering the sheer amount of lives that passed through those front doors, the possibilities for a haunting were endless.

Chelsie, the Gallery Director, told me they often find items moved or disturbed. Sometimes when she comes in, paintings that have been hung and puddied securely to the wall will be hanging eschew. Other times, common items they use in the office will disappear from where she put them and reappear in another location. This phenomena is called apporting. We had a personal experience with this ourselves as we checked out the building prior to the investigation.

As the owner of Haunted New Harmony and the coordinator of all the investigations, I need good people to help me. Because we often divide into two or three groups, I need trained, competent investigators to cover the areas where I can’t be. Two friends who often work my events are Crystal Folz and Traci Hoehn. Both are talented mediums, with Crystal being a full-fledged psychic medium. This allows her to connect with the ghosts of the building and to also tap into the energy that hangs in a space.

I decided to bring both Crystal and Traci to the gallery to see what they felt. I visited the building a few weeks earlier and picked up on an angry man in the back corner of the basement and a playful female who hung around upstairs in the gallery. I was curious to see if they would pick up on the same two ghosts I encountered. As soon as we came in to the gallery area, Crystal sat her bag down on a stool. She collects pins from interesting paranormal locations and pins them to her bag. Traci immediately noticed that one of Crystal’s pins was still missing. One had fallen off several weeks ago, something Crystal told us about over coffee one morning.

“Still haven’t found your pin?” Traci asked.

“Nope. It’s still missing. At this point, it’s probably gone for good,” she said. It was a shame too because it was her favorite and wasn’t easy to replace.

We headed down to the basement to walk the area. While we were down there, neither Crystal or Traci felt the presence of the male I felt there the first time I visited. They both picked up on female ghosts. Was it possible the angry male drifted away or was he hiding from them? We weren’t sure, but we would find out more during the night of our investigation.

After about fifteen minutes, we came back upstairs. Chelsie greeted us as we came into the gallery.

“Does this belong to any of you?” she asked, holding out a pin.

The three of us gasped. It was the pin Crystal lost several weeks ago. Did the gallery ghost, who Chelsie has nicknamed “Karen” retrieve the pin for Crystal? Just the mere thought made our heads spin. Crystal doesn’t live in New Harmony and almost never comes down Main Street. Chelsie found the pin on a piece of art that sat on the counter, something she had just moved there shortly before our arrival. She knew for  a fact the pin wasn’t there before we arrived.

From that experience alone, we knew we’d have an interesting investigation, but we had no idea how fully mind-blowing it would turn out to be.

Eleven guests had signed up for the event and arrived just before 7pm. I gave a brief presentation about the building and what we might encounter. Besides picking up female energy in the basement and in the gallery, Crystal also felt as though performers once spent time there. She saw them getting ready for a production. I don’t know if there were vaudeville acts at the saloon or not, but the information seemed to fit.

Chelsie shared a story with all of us about something strange that recently happened at the gallery. Several weeks prior, she  found a dead bird in the basement. There are no holes in the walls or ways a bird could have gotten down there. They found it to be we strange, but weren’t sure what to make of it.

We broke into two groups. One group headed down to the basement with Crystal and Traci, while the other group stayed upstairs in the gallery with me.

My group worked primarily with the Spirit Box. This is a modified radio that scans rapidly through the radio stations, allowing the ghosts to speak through the white noise. We’ve had amazing results with it at other investigations and would see that happen again at the gallery.

Gallery Investigation

IMG_20191213_193157First Group

Rick Schlegelmilch lives in New Harmony and often helps me with my investigations. When I told him that I didn’t need help this time, he quickly purchased a ticket, not wanting to miss out on the investigation.

Anyone who has investigated with Rick knows he’s going to ask several of the same questions he always asks. He wants to know if the ghosts see him walking past with his little dog Clutch and he also wants to know if they remember Town Marshall Scotty, who is Rick’s brother-in-law. For the first time ever, Rick got a response.  A male voice came through and said “I do.”

Mary Ann Michna, who is a local artist, asked if there was something we could do to help them and the same male voice said, “I’ll take it.”

The speaker for my Spirit Box kept shorting out. If I nudged it, it would start playing normally again. As I leaned down for the fourth time in a matter of minutes, I commented that I wasn’t sure why this was happening. We all thought we heard a response of “That’s nothing,” but on audio review, it sounded more like “Apache,” which makes no sense. As we were commenting on it, the same male said, “That’s nothing” for real this time, repeating what we said.

Mary Ann asked them if they had a favorite person at the gallery. She didn’t get a response, so I jumped in and told her she should ask if they had a favorite artist, knowing her art hangs on the wall there. She laughed and I added, “Hopefully they don’t say something rude,” knowing how ghosts can be sometimes and a male voice agreed with me, “I’m rude,” he said.

Some of my equipment is high tech, but I often use common household items too. For this investigation, I brought a small motion- activated cat ball that lights up when its moved. I put it on the floor in a quiet area that was far away from our investigation. If something nudged it, it would light up. We weren’t sitting for long before it suddenly lit up. It would continue lighting up for most of the night, letting us know we weren’t alone.

As soon as we got started, we began hearing the same male voice come across the Spirit Box. We would occasionally hear a woman’s voice as well, but the male answered most of the questions. He sounded friendly and somewhat intrigued by what we were doing.

Rick asked the male if he ever visits his neighbor in the basement and he told us, “He’s evil.”

I began asking questions about the pharmacy that once occupied the space next door. I knew two of the pharmacist’s names and asked if they remembered them. I didn’t get any clear responses, so I began asking if the pharmacy occupied both buildings instead of just the one. In looking at the old photos, it appears to be one business. I didn’t receive an answer so I asked if they were there when the building was a saloon. At that point, the male called me a “Freak.”

I was sending people back to the storage room, two at a time, to experiment with a pendulum. I realized the first group had been back there for nearly twenty minutes and I wanted others to have a chance to try it, so I went back to get them. While I was gone, Rick asked if they ever visited the doll shop across the street. After he asked his question, a female voice came through clearly and asked, “Who did you like?” It was so clear, it sounded like one of the people in the room speaking.

As Ben and Cheryl came back into the room and two others got up to take their place,  the same female voice asked, “What is your last name?” and then all hell broke loose. A large painting was wrenched off the wall high above us and crashed down, hitting Rick in the process. Ben saw it happening and yelled, “Watch out!” Rick moved just in time to avoid serious injury. His arm was scraped but he was otherwise unharmed. The art was undamaged, however, the wire on the back looked like it had been severed.

Here is the audio we recorded when the painting fell:

Dan Mason, the co-owner of the gallery watched it happen on his security system at home. He said he saw something swirling around on an empty chair and attempted to take pictures of it. Then, seconds later, the painting fell.

I’ve been on over 300 investigations and, trust me when I say this, things like this don’t often happen. It was astounding to me. The energy it took for them to sever through a heavy cord and knock it to the ground was monumental. Most ghosts aren’t capable of this.

We had no idea what caused it. All the voices coming through the Spirit Box were friendly and informational. No one had asked a question that could have been anger inducing. What caused the sudden fit of rage? Was it simply because we were there? We’d find out later that it might be connected to the investigation that was going on in the basement below us.

It took us a while to settle down after that incident. We switched groups at that time.

Second Group

2nd group gallery 2I started off by apologizing to the ghosts of the gallery for anything we might have said or done that angered them. I then asked if they knew who knocked it down. The same male voice we’d been hearing all night said, “From knowing.” That didn’t make any sense to us, so I asked if they knew why it was knocked down. He told us, “The printer was in there.” Neither response was crisp enough to include it here.

It did make me think though. Was the printer the man who hid in the basement? When I first visited the gallery basement, I found him to be angry and reclusive, someone who most definitely didn’t want people in his space. Did he lash out at us for invading the basement by knocking a painting off the wall upstairs? Was I actually the intended target for the painting to fall on? I was sitting next to Rick and the painting landed several feet away from me.

There was a printing press in town at one point, but it was located in Community House #2, a building we’ve investigated extensively. The two printers who primarily operated the press and printed the local newspaper will talk to us frequently when we investigate and are always congenial and chatty. This definitely wasn’t one of them.

I passed to the next person and she asked if he was friends with the lady in the basement. He said, “Tell me now.”

Someone asked if he was there when it was a pharmacy. He asked, “Was this one?” Apparently he didn’t know.

Someone asked if they like Chelsie and a different male voice said, “We like her now.”

John asked if there were more than one of them with us and the same voice from earlier said, “Nice and tall.”

“What happened on Monitor Corner,” I asked, wanting to pin down the time period they were in New Harmony. There were two fires on that corner, one causing a tremendous explosion, but the woman didn’t know or didn’t want to tell us. “Cannot say,” she told me. I went on to explain to the group about what had happened there and the same male voice chimed in. “You forgot the groceries.” This is interesting because Owen Market used to be right across the street, caddy-corner, from Monitor Corner. It’s now the location of Capers Emporium.

I was still trying to determine a timeline for the ghosts. I asked “What did the Harmonists use to insulate their buildings?” The correct answer is Dutch Biscuit, a technique of rolling mud and straw around a board. The woman told me, “They painted.”

We asked a few questions but couldn’t make out the responses. Then, out of the blue, a male asked what sounds like “Did you bring woman?”

John asked about “the gifts” (something they discussed in the basement session) and someone else asked why they hid them. “It’s hard for them,” the man said.

I asked if they’ve ever seen Heaven. As I explained in the session, if they’re there, answering us, they probably haven’t seen Heaven because they’re stuck in our dimension. The man answered us, “I wonder.”

I asked if they ever pull pranks on Chelsie. The response was “I try.”

Lynn asked if they like Dan again and the male said, Go D!” like he was rooting for him.

We went around the room and asked the pie question. I do this during most investigations to lighten the mood. I ask everyone to name their favorite pie. Sometimes the ghosts will pipe in and tell us theirs, but there wasn’t an answer this time.

Angie asked, “Where are you in this room,” and got perhaps the most chilling response of the evening. “Behind you,” the woman said. We all took a moment to look behind her, but didn’t see anything.

Lynn asked if they ever go to the basement and the male answered, “Not much.”

They call their lady ghost “Karen” so I asked if her name was indeed Karen and the male came through again. “I didn’t break it,” he said. Was he talking about the painting?

Someone asked, “How many in the basement?” and a male responded with, “They’re lost.”

The session ended at that point.

pendulum.jpg

Pendulum Room

We set up a small storage room as a dowsing area. Groups of two went back and asked questions with the pendulum. Ben & Cheryl went first:

  • They were talking to a female
  • She’s 70 years-old
  • She’s married
  • She has children – sons
  • Her name is Karen
  • She likes to sing
  • They got her to knock on the wall
  • She’s originally from New Harmony
  • She had a dog
  • She rode on a wagon for transportation
  • She was around automobiles, but didn’t know what a train was
  • She was once a slave
  • She is tired

I walked back to switch the group out, but the painting fell in the other room before the next group could come in.  After a few minutes, the Keith and his wife went back.

  • She isn’t going to hurt them
  • She’s mad that they’re there messing up her evening
  • She likes beer
  • She is the one who threw the painting
  • It will be safe for them to go into the basement
  • She likes Keith
  • It’s easier for them to talk to Keith
  • They didn’t bring any spirits with them to the investigation

The groups switched floors and the next two people came back to try the pendulum.

  • They were talking to a woman
  • She’s not friends with Erica (a name they learned in the basement session)
  • She’s glad they’re there talking to her
  • She died when she was young
  • She worked there
  • She worked there when it was saloon
  • She wasn’t treated poorly when she worked there. She enjoyed it
  • It wasn’t fun time to work there
  • The other ladies were not her friends
  • She wasn’t the boss
  • She wasn’t a bar maid
  • She wasn’t there when it was a pharmacy
  • Erica isn’t sad or angry

The next two people came back and tried it.

  • She’s not tired of them
  • She lived in New Harmony for a long time
  • Her family is from New Harmony
  • She went to church there
  • She liked New Harmony
  • She was there when it was a saloon
  • She wasn’t happy there
  • She worked – had a job
  • She worked as a prostitute at times at the saloon
  • It was difficult
  • They weren’t nice to her.
  • She doesn’t hate men
  • It wasn’t difficult work
  • She knows it’s no longer a saloon
  • She misses it being a saloon
  • Her name was Suzy
  • She likes being in the building
  • She’s not tired
  • She didn’t have any children
  • She wasn’t married
  • She knows who Joni is
  • She likes Joni
  • She came from somewhere nearby

It was interesting how each group picked up slightly different information. One group pinpointed the woman’s age as 70 years-old, while the other group felt they were talking to a younger woman. It’s possible they were talking to two different ghosts, but it’s also possible that they were getting misinformation from one of them or they were experiencing difficulties with the pendulum. It’s not a scientific device and we know that, but we’ve had a lot of luck uncovering verifiable information by using it.

It was interesting that they were finding some similarities though. None of the groups passed on information to the next group as they switched places. My guess is they were talking to “Karen,” the ghost who often moves items in the gallery.

IMG_20191213_193334Basement

Traci Hoehn and Crystal Folz led the investigation in the basement. For a portion of their allotted time, they conducted the Estes Method. In this experiment, Traci wore noise-cancelling headphones that were attached directly to a Spirit Box. She also wore a blindfold. People in the room asked questions, but Traci couldn’t hear them. Instead, she simply said what she heard come through the box. The importance of this experiment is the elimination of leading information. Sometimes we hear what we want to hear. When we ask a question and hear something that sounds like an appropriate answer, we often jump on it. With the Estes Method, we can’t do this.

Crystal assists Traci in this experiment, insuring the group is asking appropriate questions and isn’t firing them off in rapid-fire sequence. Ghosts need a bit of time to respond, so we always ask that they pause 15-20 seconds before asking the next question. Crystal also watches Traci to make sure she’s okay. While in the Estes Method, Traci often goes into almost a psychic trance. In past cases, she’s actually found herself seeing visions of what she’s also hearing. If she begins to look agitated or seems overwhelmed, Crystal will gently pull her out of the session.

No one had a chance to ask Traci a question before she was off and running.

T: Love it

Q: Did you grow up in New Harmony?

Q: Is your family here?

Q: What date did you last see on a newspaper?

Q: Can you see us?

T: Like you

T: some more then

Q: Are you glad to have us here? What do you like about us?

Q: Do you like that this building is being used as an art gallery?

Q: Did you work or live in this building?

Q: Were you here when they had the battered women’s display? (Several weeks prior to the investigation, the gallery had an exhibit in the basement that delved into Victorian era prostitution. Quite eerily, the story Traci would uncover with the Estes Method mirrored the story the exhibit told. We spent a lot of time discussing this. Chelsie actually wrote the story in the booklet they handed out, telling the story of two prostitutes. She wrote it at the gallery, making us wonder if she had supernatural assistance.)

Q: Do you like the people who come here every day?

(creaking from upstairs)

T: What’s that? No!

Q: If you don’t like the people who work here, what about them don’t you like?

Q: Did you like Christmas time?

Q: Did you work here or did your family own the business?

Q: Can you tell me some of the things this building was used for before?

T: Do it!

Q: Do what?

Q: Was it a bar? Did you perform here?

Q:  What do you want us to do?

Q: Do you have good memories here?

T: Tonight

Q: Good memories when people are here?

Q: What about tonight?

T: When

Q: Are you disturbed by us being here?

T: In general

Q: What makes you uncomfortable? Do you not like having us in your space?

Q: Can you tell me something personal about yourself?

T: Learn

(Joni came downstairs to take pictures)

T: Under

T: You

Q: Did you go to school here?

Q: Was the bridge built during your time?

Q: What was it you want us to learn?

T: One. Uh huh. Same thing. Don’t. Sad.

Q: What are you sad about?

T: I’m…

Q: Do you know about the bird that was found in the basement?

Q: Do you know how the bird got into the basement?

Q: Does this building make you feel sad?

T: Every

Q: Are we upsetting you?

(Crystal noted that the energy in the room was building. It felt as though they were growing agitated.)

Q: Do you need help with something?

Q: Are you okay?

T: Susie. Was here.

Q: Who was Susie?

T: Don’t. Hey.

Q: Hi. Is Susie here right now? Do you like Susie?

Q: Are you Susie? Or was Susie your friend?

Q: Is there a message we can pass on?

T: Hard

Q: What was hard?

T: Erica. (Traci noted that the voice was a woman who was sobbing)

Q: Are you Erica?

Q: Are Erica and Susie related?

Q: How long have Erica and Susie known each other?

T: Forest

Q: Is there a forest you’re thinking about?

Q: Did you like to hike in the forest or did you like to stay in the town?

Q: Did Susie get lost in the forest?

T: Hide!

Q: Susie was hiding in the forest?

Q: Is Erica afraid she lost Susie?

T: It’s not our problem (man’s voice)

Q: Susie hiding from the man?

T: In there

Q: Is Susie hiding in here from the man? Was the man mean?

T: Stay (Traci noted that something kept touching her left side.) Got you.

Q: Did someone take Susie from Erica?

T: Are you free tonight? (man’s voice)

Q: How old are Erica and Susie? Are they friends? Are they family?

Q: Are you scared of the man?

T: Waiting for you

Q: Are you waiting to go out tonight?

T: A man needs gifts. Hiding.

Q: It seems as though something happened in the woods. Can you tell us?

T: Someone.

Q: Did you hide gifts in the woods?

Q: Did this happen when this place was Mr. Heckman’s pharmacy?

T: Rotten

Q: Was Mr. Heckman rotten or was it someone who visited here?

Q: Did you like him?

T: There’s a bunch talking at once

Q: Are there too many voices around?

T: Get them

Q: Get who?

T: So? Great.

(painting fell upstairs at that point)

Q: Did you have anything to do with what happened upstairs just now?

(sound of the cat ball rolling across the floor)

T: Don’t. Famous last words.

Q: Are these multiple people’s stories or one person’s story tonight?

Q: Did you make the painting fall?

(Joni came downstairs at that point to tell them what happened)

T: My memory. It’s wrong. Inbred.

Q: Inbred? What does that mean? What memories are wrong?

T: Here with me

Q: Who’s here with you?

T: A man

Q: Does he make you fearful?

Q: We’re going to be stopping soon. Is there anything else you want to say?

T: That’s it

Crystal then pulled Traci out of the session.  Traci then explained everything she heard and saw. She got really hot and her chest got very tight during the session. She said that women were in the woods hiding from men, trying to get away. She felt they were being used as prostitutes and they were the gifts the men were seeking. It so closely resembled the story Chelsie wrote, it gave us chills. In her story, Chelsie discussed the lives of two women who were forced into prostitution and were abused. Was the energy from this discussion what caused the painting to fall upstairs? We weren’t sure.

2nd group baement 6.jpgThey decided to do a dowsing rod session while Traci recovered from the Estes Method.

Q; Are you still hiding from someone? A: Yes

Q: Does it scare you? A: Yes

Q; Is it a male? A: Yes

Q: Do you feel safe with us? A: no answer

Q: Did you have anything to do with the picture falling upstairs? A: Yes

Q: Is your name Erica? A: Yes

Q: Did a man hurt you in the woods?  No answer

Q; Did you work at the saloon? No answer

Q: Was Susie your friend? No answer.

Q: Did you make the picture fall on a man to hurt him? A: Yes

(Joni came down to get them, but they asked for a few more minutes)

Q: Where are you standing in the room? Rods pointed towards Traci

Q: Were you rubbing Traci’s arm earlier? A: Yes

2nd group basement

Second Session

The guests in the second group were still shaken up by the experience they had in the gallery. During the entire session, Ben kept hearing sounds in the back corner of the room.

T: Hello (female voice that was kind of creepy)

Q: Hi!

T: Ben (male voice)

Q: I’m right here (Ben said)

T: Possibly

Q: Possibly what? (Ben asked) Is this Karen?

Q: Are you alone here?

T: Over there. Sure!

Q: sure, what?

Q: Did you talk to us earlier or are you someone new?

(could hear walking upstairs from the other group)

Q: Do you hear the people walking upstairs?

Q: Are you female?

T: I did it

Q: What did you do?

Q: Do you regret it? Would you do it again?

Q: I’m looking over there. What should I see?

Q: Did you knock the picture off?

T: Read

Q: Read what?

T: My name’s Doreen (different female voice)

Q: Pleased to meet you Doreen

T: Say it

Q: Doreen. Say what?

Q: Doreen’s a pretty name. What’s your last name?

T: Like that

T: The father

Q: What about the father?

Q: Doreen’s father?

Q: Were you here when they had the visiting art display down here in the basement? Did you relate to it?

Q: Did you like everybody coming in here?

Q: Is your father here, Doreen?

Q: Does someone keep all the other spirits here separated? The one who dominates the rest of you? (Crystal asked)

Q: Do you have a sister or brother?

(Ben was seeing something block out the light in the corner)

T: Most people

Q: What do most people do?

Q: is there a domineering man? (Crystal asked)

(Crystal noted that it felt like someone was holding them back from answering)

T: Teamwork

Q: How many of them are you?

Q: Can you tell us how many of you are down here with us?

Q: Someone left and now someone new is here with us. Who is that (Crystal asked)

T: Who are these people?

Q: We are visitors here, talking to you.

Q: Cheryl introduced herself. Can you tell us your name, please? Are you a leader?

(Joni came down to take pictures)

Q: Can anyone do anything to help you?

T: Weird

Q: What’s so weird?

Q: Is it weird that people want to help?

T: Christmas

Q: Are you ready for Christmas?

Q: Do you celebrate Christmas?

Q: To whoever came down, is there anything you want to tell us? (Crystal asked)

Q: What year is it right now?

T: Get out!

Q: I don’t want to get out. (Ben said this, almost in a hurt voice)

Q: Are you asking for us to get out or are you talking to the other spirits who are here? (Crystal asked)

(Rick noted that Traci had someone standing right behind her)

T: Seven

Q: Did you feel something, Rick? He explained that he was hearing someone clairaudiently.

T: I just saw a black shadow cross in front of me.

(Everyone felt the room grow substantially colder)

Q: Are there more with you?

T: Oooooh! (sounded kind of provocative)

Q: Ooooh, what?

Q: Did you come here with anyone or were you here? (Crystal asked)

Traci then took off the headphones. She’d had enough. She said she felt constrictive breathing and felt it was connected to a woman wearing a corset.  She said it was different this time than it was the last time. A lot of people kept popping in, but she didn’t feel she was connecting with the same two women from the first session.

They started a dowsing rod session at that point.

Q: Is there just one person down here right now? A: Yes

Q: Are you a young child? A: No

Q: Are you a teenager? A: Yes

Q: Are you female? A: Yes

Q: Did you used to work in this building? A: Yes

Q: Did you enjoy your job? A: Yes (slow Yes)

Q: Did you work anywhere else in New Harmony besides here? A: Yes

Q: Do you ever want to leave New Harmony and go somewhere else? A: Yes

Q: Do you enjoy us being here? A: Yes

Q: Do you like dogs? A: Yes

Q: Are there any dogs in this building? (they thought they heard a bark) A: No answer

Q: Do you wish you had a dog? A: Yes

Q: Were you here when the bird showed up in the basement? A: No

Q: Did you hear the painting fall off the wall? A: Yes

Q: Did that surprise you as much as it surprised me? (Rick asked) A: Yes

Q: That means you had nothing to do with it, right? A: Yes

Q: Do you know who did it? A: No answer

Q: Are you afraid to say? A: Yes

Q: Will you tell me if I guess right? A: No answer

Q: Is it the man who stays down here in the basement? A: No answer

Q: Is it a child? A: No answer (They started hearing more sounds in the back corner)

Q: Is the woman we talked to in the first session the one who knocked the picture off onto Rick? (Crystal asked) A: No answer

Q: Did you come here with someone this evening? A: No answer

Q: Is the lady from our first session still here? (Traci asked) A: Yes

Q: Can you point to where you are right now? Rods pointed towards the same area where Rick felt someone, which happened to be directly behind Traci.

Q: Is there a man down here? A: Yes

Q: Does he stay in the back corner? A: No

Q: Is he back there right now? A: Yes

Q: Does he keep walking in front of the light? A: Yes?

Q: Do you like him? A: Yes ( The group was surprised by this)

Q: Is his name Mr. Heckmann? A: No

Q: Is his name Clyde Ramsey? A: No

Q: Were you an actress here? A: No

Q: Do you remember when they had productions here? A: No

Q: Did girls perform at the saloon? A: No answer

Q: Did girls dance at the saloon? A: No answer

Q: Did girls sing at the saloon? A: No answer

Q: Are you feeling confused right now? A: Yes

Q: Was this a pool hall at one time? A: no answer

(They heard another noise)

Q: Are you back in the basement right now? A: Yes

(Cheryl mentioned that she saw a flash of light)

Q: Did you ever use a carriage outside of this building? A: No answer

Q: Are you having a hard time breathing? A: Yes

Q: Are you listening to the people upstairs too? A: Yes

The session ended and we wrapped up for the night, walking away shaking our heads at the events that had transpired.

It was an intense investigation, one we wouldn’t soon forget. It’s easy to connect the dots and say that we were honing in on two women who worked at the saloon. We know from history that barmaids and servants were often forced into prostitution in saloons like this, but we have no documentation that this happened at the Centennial Saloon.

And who was the man who hid in the corner? Was he also connected to the saloon or did he come in during another time period? And why was he hiding? Was he Clyde Ramsey, the pharmacist who committed suicide in the building? These were all questions we didn’t get answers to. This is part of the mystery involved with communicating with the dead. Sometimes they only give us enough information to intrigue us. We often need to revisit the location several times to pull more of the information.

Despite the falling painting, the owners of the gallery would like to have us back for another investigation in the near future. We hope to uncover more of the story about Susie and Erica and possibly help free them from the torment they are reliving.

IMG_20191213_184146
(Above) Joni, Crystal and Traci

I’d like to thank Dan Mason and John Nordgauer for opening up their lovely gallery for us to investigate. I’d also like to thank Chelsie for letting us in the building to check it out and for hanging out with us for the duration of the night. And of course, I am indebted to my team, Crystal Folz and Traci Hoehn for making this an incredible event.

Thank you to everyone who attended!

2nd group gallery 5

Joni Mayhan
December 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Old Rooming House – Evidence Review 3/30/18 and 3/31/18

 

IMG_6159.JPG

When my friend (and second cousin) Jim Stinson suggested we set up a paranormal investigation at his nineteenth-century era rooming house, I didn’t hesitate. After visiting The Old Rooming House numerous times, I knew it was haunted and was eager to explore it.

The Old Rooming House is an Italianate Victorian house built in 1896. While originally a family home, it was established as a classic comfort boarding house in 1949 by Mary Rickens, who charged $3 a week and expected her boarders to be “neat, clean and polite.” Mary ran her business for over 35 years, and then sold it to Jim Stinson, the current proprietor. Jim remodeled the house, adding extra bathrooms and varnishing the hardwood floors. Since then he’s continued to add to the house’s impressive collection of vintage travel memorabilia, antique furniture, and much-loved books.

People who stay there feel a sense of peace and relaxation. For many, the experience of stepping back in time provides them with an opportunity to unwind and recharge themselves. Jim says that many people will check in with the expectation of exploring the town, only to find themselves taking a nap instead.

We decided to try something different. Instead of just hosting a ghost hunt, we required all the attendees to book a room and spend the night. This kept the groups small and gave everyone a chance to explore the haunting as well as enjoy the tranquility the Old Rooming House offers.

For me, it was a chance to explore the history of the building by going directly to the source.

March 30th Investigation

My good friend Deb Burdick came to this event, along with Jim’s next door neighbor, Jessica. Deb has a long history with The Old Rooming House, having helped Jim set it up when he opened it in the 1990’s. Rounding out the rest of the group were two families from Illinois. I knew right away that we would have a good night because the groups quickly bonded with one another. If I liked them, I was fairly certain the ghosts at the Old Rooming House would too.

29570482_10217333877438349_3722285775863174565_n.jpgDuring the opening session, I turned on my recorder and began explaining how the investigation would work. While I was talking, a woman’s whispery voice said, “I do,” in response to if they understood how to use the flashlight to communicate with us. Thirty seconds later, I felt a touch on my finger. It felt like a fly landed on me but there wasn’t a fly anywhere in the room. I mentioned it to the group and the flashlight came on immediately.

Sitting Room

29570484_10217333872398223_6725704933608415278_n.jpgWe introduced ourselves and then I passed the dowsing rods around the group. When it was Frank’s turn, his hands were shaking as he held the rods. He apologized for his shaking hands and we received an EVP at that point. The same female voice consoled him, saying “You’re fine.”

During a dowsing rod session, we learned the following information:

  • Raised a family in the house – flashlight came on
  • Mannie was in the house – both dowsing rods and flashlight
  • The fire was intentionally set
  • Leora was present – She was born in the house next door and lived there until she died at 99. When the house was 100 years old, she gave it a birthday party. She took care of her family. Since we had a surprise guest, we began asking her questions with the dowsing rods. Here are the responses:
    • She had many good memories in the house
    • There were many parties held in the house
    • She still feels the love that was made in the house
    • She was happy we were there – both dowsing rods and flashlight response

I turned on the Spirit Box and we went around the group and asked questions.

Someone asked what their favorite room in the house was. A male voice said “pink,” which was followed by a female saying “up.” We weren’t sure what they meant by that since there aren’t any pink rooms upstairs. Perhaps there used to be a pink room upstairs?

During the Spirit Box session, we heard a knocking sound coming from the floorboards. It started near Deb, knocking twice and then knocked again beside me. We spent a few minutes trying to find a natural reason for it but couldn’t.

IMG_6117Room #3

We moved upstairs to Room #3 and continued our investigation after a short break. Almost immediately, we heard a knock on the window beside me. It sounded like a knuckle rapping on glass.

We introduced ourselves again in case we were talking to someone new. As I told them we were there to communicate with them and wished them no harm, the flashlight came on quickly.

  • There were more than one there
  • Someone there studied French
  • They all get along

I was running my iOvilus during the EVP session and it said “David, threat, ticket.” That didn’t make sense to any of us, but I’m including this here in case it makes sense later.

We moved to the Spirit Box. It was fairly quiet until Heather began trying to pin down the age of the soul we were talking to. She asked if it was her age or younger and a deep female voice said, “I will be.” It was quiet for several more questions, not speaking until Ed passed when it was his turn. A clear male voice said, “Don’t stop now.”

Deb asked if she liked the work she did and a female voice said what sounds like, “I ironed.”

I decided to lighten things up a bit and asked everyone to go around the circle and tell us what their favorite pie is. The responses were mouth-watering, even to the souls residing there. After Corey said, “pumpkin,” a female voice piped up and said, “Chocolate.”

We then moved onto the dowsing rods. Since Jessica seemed to have the best responses when she used them, I asked her to hold the rods while everyone asked questions.

  • They were happy we were there
  • There were three of them there
  • They like music
  • Some of them are musicians and have played music together
  • There were three spirits there (confirming this for the second time)
  • They didn’t mind if we did another investigation (slow yes)
  • She bought the house in the 1930’s (Mannie bought it in 1947-49)
    • Richard family owned it before her. It was a residence
  • Guests were expected to be well behaved
  • She’s the one who encourages Jim to make hospital corners when making beds
  • She wishes Jim would paint the exterior
  • She had a lot of friends in New Harmony
  • They wanted us to leave the room and move to another room (the rods actually pointed to the door)

IMG_6128Room 4

We moved to Room #4 and continued with the dowsing rods.

  • Confirmed she bought the house in the 1930’s
  • One of them was a female
  • There are three of them
  • At least one of them is a musician (confirming a previous response)
  • One of them followed us from another room
  • One of them played music at dances in town
  • One of them played at the dance hall in town
  • At least one of them went to church
  • At least one of them was married
  • One of the people we were talking to was Mannie
  • She likes the way New Harmony is now
  • She sometimes leaves the house to visit other locations in town
  • She likes to go to the Labyrinth
  • She used to have picnics
  • No response when I asked if she belonged to a Women’s club
  • There were men’s clubs in town
  • One of them went to dances on the second floor of the Oddfellows Building
  • None of them knew of anyone practicing séances, table tipping sessions or spiritual gatherings
  • One of them knew Homer Fauntleroy and Mary Emily Fauntleroy
  • One of them went to the Fauntleroy Home on a tour
  • One of them went to the Opera House

Lisa asked if someone could knock on something to show us they were truly there. There was an immediate knocking sound in the hallway behind us. She continued with the dowsing rods.

  • One of them didn’t think of us as friends, but considered us guests
  • One of them was originally from New Harmony
  • One of them ventured outside of New Harmony
  • One of them plays the piano
  • No one plays the guitar
  • One of them sings a lot (the rods began spinning after the “yes” response
  • One of them sang in church
  • None of them listened to Elvis Presley but did listen to music on the radio
  • Tennessee Ernie Ford wasn’t popular then
  • One of them liked going down to the Wabash River and liked to fish
  • One of them knew Jane Owen
  • Some of them try to communicate with guests at the Old Rooming House
  • Some of them think about leaving and going somewhere else
  • None of them have lived outside the United States

We moved onto Spirit Box and had several clear responses. I asked who we were talking to and a voice came through very clearly. He said, “I’m Nick.” The response really took us back because it was so loud and clear. We began asking him other questions, but he wouldn’t respond to them. Someone asked if he’d been downstairs and he said, “Who me?” someone asked the same question again (we were getting tired at this point) and he said, “You talking to me?”

 

One of the guests had been to Antique Emporium earlier in the day and talked to the shop owner, Paula, about her resident ghost Bebe. The woman began asking if the ghosts at the Old Rooming House knew Bebe. The responses were inconclusive. We thought we heard something different than what was actually said in many cases. Someone asked if they’d gone fishing with Bebe and a voice said, “We didn’t.” It’s highly possible they didn’t know the ghost from Antique Emporium when she was alive. The time periods could have been vastly different and they might not have recognized her name. We aren’t even certain her name is Bebe. That’s just a nickname they gave her at the shop.

Since the majority of my group was from Illinois, someone asked if the ghosts had ever been to Illinois. Two voices responded. One said, “No,” and the other said, “I didn’t.”

Someone asked if we had been in their room before, earlier in the evening, and a female voice said, “We talkin’.” The same question was asked again a few minutes later (again, we were getting tired) and the ghosts cut us some slack. “You talking to me?” one of them said.

Perhaps the best response we received all night came when someone asked if any of them played the banjo. “Mannie,” was the response. This is interesting because the former owner, Mary Rickert’s nickname was Mannie.

It was getting late, so we moved downstairs to Room #1.

29597840_10217333871838209_8395921855511523026_n.jpgRoom #1

We did a Spirit Box session, but it was clear they were getting as tired as we were. We didn’t get a single response on the Spirit Box so we moved back to the dowsing rods.

  • They didn’t like the noisy box (Spirit Box)
  • There were two females and a male there
  • One of the females was Mannie
  • Leora doesn’t stay there but popped in to say hi
  • No response when we asked if the man’s name was Nick
  • I asked if I got Nick’s name wrong and it said “yes” and the flashlight came on
  • The other female is quiet and doesn’t wish to communicate
  • The three of them aren’t related
  • They have frequent ghost visitors from other houses
  • Bebe is one of those visitors
  • One of them was born in the 1900’s
  • One of them was born in the 1800’s

We were amused to see the rods begin pointing to the next person, as though they were prompting us to move it along. We passed the rods and began asking more questions.

  • There is something valuable hidden in the house
  • They would gladly share with us
  • At least one of them drank illegally during prohibition
  • There were some speak easies in New Harmony
  • One of them likes rum
  • The Old Rooming House was never a speak easy
  • The person upstairs was Richard or “Dick” for short, not Nick
  • He was from Illinois
  • He liked to sing

After we finished that session, it was clear that everyone was tired. We concluded our investigation by thanking the residents for allowing us in their space and everyone went to bed. As expected, they all slept soundly.

Evidence Review 3-31-18

26239617_10217342851502695_4938380083895197951_nI returned for the second investigation the following day. The second group was smaller than the first. We had two groups from the Evansville area attend. One was an experienced paranormal investigator named Donna, who attended with her friend, sister and her mother. The other group was a woman and her 13 year-old-daughter, Zoey.

We started out in the sitting room and did a quick EVP session. I like to do a burst session to start things off. A burst session is when you go around the group and ask just a few questions while recording it on a digital recorder. You then listen to the recording to see if anyone responded. Even though we got a response during my Friday night investigation, we didn’t get anything this time.

We then moved onto dowsing rods. I demonstrated how to use them and then passed them around the group, inviting everyone to try them. Not everyone is adept at dowsing. Some people are just a natural conduit, while others are not.

  • There was someone there with us
  • The person was a female
  • She was happy I came back again
  • There wasn’t anything we did the previous night that they didn’t like
  • She watches over the guests and makes sure they are okay
  • Her name was Mannie
  • She had trouble with some guests over her time there
  • She liked to plant flowers
  • She liked her guests to be comfortable
  • She liked roses
  • She loved New Harmony
  • She has ridden in a horse and buggy

I then went to Spirit Box.

I told them that they are going to fix the old Harmony Way bridge and asked if she knew that. A voice came through and said, “You can watch me.”

Room 3

IMG_6137.JPGWe started out with a dowsing rod session. I was curious to see if Leora was there with us and received a “no” response. I continued on.

  • Manny was friends with Leora
  • I asked if Manny was married and got a very slow no response (her husband died before she did)
  • She said she did not have children
  • She liked her guests to be polite, neat and clean
  • We got a slow “yes” response when asked if she fed her guests. (she fed the ones who stayed with her for long periods)
  • She had an automobile
  • It’s okay for them to come back and visit again
  • She had people there to clean for her – Mannie did most of it herself
  • She had trouble with guests before
  • We asked about the fire. It damaged the home but no one was hurt.

We didn’t know it at the time, but we actually recorded a ghost voice responding to the question just after the dowsing rods crossed. It said, “no.”

  • The building was repaired quickly after the fire (it actually sat empty for a year)
  • The fire was set intentionally
  • It was the only major fire they had there (we asked more questions about the fire and who set it but the person is still alive, so I don’t want to disclose this information publicly)
  • They played board games there
  • Mannie liked children
  • She had many favorite guests who returned again and again
  • Someone has tried to break in before
  • A guest died there and is still there – died of natural causes (heart attack)
  • She allowed pets to be there, but only certain animals
  • She liked dogs more than cats
  • Women were treated equal when she owned the rooming house
  • She’s happy that Jim keeps the place neat and clean
  • She knew they were coming before they got there
  • She liked all color roses
  • She had a garden
  • She had chickens at one time
  • She loved animals
  • She visits places around town, including shops, churches and restaurants
  • She comes and goes as she pleases
  • People see a white light when they pass
  • Passing is much easier than what people think
  • There is an afterlife
  • It’s a continuous circle

We then moved to Spirit Box. We didn’t get a tremendous amount of responses, but the ones we did receive were intelligent.

Someone asked if there was anyone on the staircase. “To the right,” was the response. It was enough to make us go out into the hallway to look. We didn’t see anything, but it was still an interesting response.

Since we felt we had been talking to Mannie for most of the evening, we frequently checked in to make sure she was still with us. When someone asked if Manny was still there, a voice said “Manny.” It wasn’t necessarily confirmation of her presence, but it was validation that the ghosts in the house could hear us and respond clearly.

 

Someone asked if Nick was still there and a female voice said, “Nick’s escaped.” This was a bit alarming to me on several accounts. It was a very clear intelligent response…and I had a new ghost in my house. I felt it earlier that morning when I woke up. Was it possible that Nick followed me home?

At least ten minutes went past without getting a single blip on the Spirit Box. Someone asked who owns the rooming house and a voice said something that sounded vaguely like “Jimmy,” came through, followed by “old coat.” I asked the owner about this and he said that a man named Bob often came to the Rooming House and died several years ago (not on the premises). Jim went to a yard sale some time later and bought one of Bob’s old coats.

We took a break and resumed our investigation in Room 4.

IMG_6135.JPGRoom #4

We started out with the Spirit Box but didn’t get anything clear so we moved to dowsing rods.

  • Nick was married
  • He had children
  • He lived out of state
  • He stayed there often (slow yes)
  • He liked Manny
  • Room 4 was the room he often stayed in
  • They were allowed to bring women up to their rooms
  • They asked if he was married and this time got a “no”
  • We began to wonder if we were talking to two different ghosts and the answer was yes.
  • Nick was a businessman
  • He knew about the fire but wasn’t staying there when it happened
  • He had a dog who sometimes stayed with him
  • He stayed there for long periods of time
  • The other female who is there wasn’t there when Nick was there

I began asking questions about afterlife and the rest of the group joined in.

  • They’d never been to Heaven
  • They do see a while light when they die and can decide whether to go into it or not
  • She didn’t leave because she didn’t want to leave the house
  • There isn’t a hell
  • When people die, they never go to a bad place
  • Everybody is welcome in Heaven
  • Every person has spirit guides
  • Some people have more than one
  • It said that I had three, which surprised me because I thought I only had two. Then I remembered my grandma Nanny who has been with me all my life. They confirmed this.
  • Everyone went around the room and asked about their spirit guides. Nearly everyone had more than one and many had relatives watching over them.
  • We choose to come back and live new lives (reincarnation)
  • We make contracts when we come back
  • If people choose not to go through the light, they can cross over later

 

IMG_6143.JPGRoom 1

We talked for a bit and then did a Spirit Box session. After nearly ten minutes without receiving a single response, we turned it off. I played a few songs from their time period to see if I could generate any activity, but it was apparent the ghosts were getting as tired as we were. We ended up having a long conversation about pendulums. One of the members of the group had one, so she pulled it out and we demonstrated how to use it.

We didn’t receive any more responses, so we called it a night.

All in all, it was a great experience for everyone involved. It wasn’t a scary ghost hunt. It was a way to connect directly with the people who created the history of the property. We were honored for the chance to communicate with them.

 

Thank you to Jim Stinson at the Old Rooming House for his hospitality. Like many of the buildings in New Harmony, I felt that the building was gently haunted. A former owner and a guest or two loved it so much they decided to stick around.  Most people wouldn’t even know about it unless they pursued it like we did.

For more information about the Old Rooming House: http://www.oldroominghouse.com/