Captain Sibley’s Haunting

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Riverside Cemetery is nestled in a forest at the end of a one-lane dirt road in the heart of a ghost town. It is both haunting and haunted, two traits that make it hard to forget.

My friend Sandy and I stumbled across it almost by accident several years ago as we explored the dirt roads that laced through the woods just outside Barre, Massachusetts. Somewhere in the wooded acreage, the remnants of the lost town of Coldbrook Springs could be found. We hoped to find an old foundation, but what we found instead was a piece of encapsulated history.

Coldbrook Springs was once a bustling town with two hotels, a bowling alley, a blacksmith shop, post office, billiard hall, a box mill, school, and nearly 35 houses. It was removed in the 1930’s as part of the Quabbin Reservoir project. The state bought all of the buildings and demolished them to provide a clean watershed for the Ware River, which flows into the Quabbin Reservoir and provides drinking water to Boston and its suburbs. People were relocated to nearby towns of Oakham, Barre, and Hubbardston, and the town simply ceased to exist.

Besides a few foundations, the cemetery is virtually all that remains of the old town. We walked the grounds, taking in the mixture of old and new headstones. Birds chirped in the distance as the wind rustled through the tops of the tall pines. At the back of the cemetery we found a monument to the Naramore children, who were killed by their own mother in 1901.  We spend a quiet moment reading the inscription.

Poverty stricken and living with an abusive husband, Elizabeth Naramore went to the town for help. When officials visited the residence, they determined that the children would need to be put into foster homes. Before they could do that, Elizabeth killed them, from oldest to youngest, and then attempted unsuccessfully to commit suicide. A monument was erected in the 1990’s to remember the lost children. It’s hard to stand there and not feel a rush of emotion. Over time, the stone has gained a collection of toys and small cars, left by saddened visitors.

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As we walked back towards the entrance, I was drawn to a group of three tombstones.

They were old and faded, the words difficult to make out on the worn slate stone. The first stone listed the name of a Catherine Sibley, who lived from 1805 to 1874. Beside her grave was the grave of her husband, Captain Charles Sibley, who lived from 1808 to 1849. And sadly, beside his was the grave of their four children. This was what caused me to pause.

They were listed, one after another, telling a heartbreaking story.

  • James died on October 9th,1843, at nine months old.
  • Catherine died on September 19st, 1847, at 6 years, 5 months.
  • Mary died the day after her sister, on September 20th 1847, at the age of 2 years, 7 months.
  • Charles died the day after Christmas on the same year, December 26th, 1847, at the age of 12 years, 7 months.

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We just stood there, taking it all in, trying to wrap our minds around the tragedy of losing four children, two of whom died within a day of one another.  How did they die? Was there a horrible disease that swept through the area, taking their children one by one, teasing them to believe that one would survive, only to have him taken from them the day after Christmas? My heart went out to their parents.

I am always very respectful of the dead, and with this comes a sense of compassion. As a paranormal investigator, I know that not all of the souls pass on like they’re supposed to. When faced with a tragic death, some lose their way and become earthbound. We wanted to make sure this wasn’t the case. We pulled out our digital recorders and conducted a short EVP session.

“Captain Sibley, are you still here?” Sandy asked.

The response was heart wrenching. “Yes, Heaven won’t take me.”

https://soundcloud.com/jonimayhan/captain-sibley-yes-take-me

The EVP is faint and must be listened to with headphones on high volume. For reasons I can’t explain, the audio has faded over the years, perhaps from being transferred too many times, or possibly for other reasons. Maybe I was the only one meant to hear it.

After listening to it, I couldn’t stop thinking about this poor family and the possibility that the father was still lingering around his grave over one-hundred and sixty years later. I went back to his grave the following week.

In the quiet of the cemetery, I sat beside his headstone and just talked to him. I didn’t know if he was listening or not, but I wanted to help him if I could. I told him about the natural process of what happens to us after death.

“When we die, we’re supposed to cross over into the white light, moving to the place where we’re supposed to go. Some people call it Heaven,” I said. I looked around at the quiet bank of trees, wondering if he was there, or if I was simply talking to myself. I had to continue though.

My voice sounded like a prayer as I began speaking again. “Look for the white light. It’s right above you. All your family is waiting for you. Call out to them to help you cross through.” I took a deep breath and then added something I hoped would help. “God loves you and welcomes you with open arms. Go find the peace and serenity you deserve.”  And then I cried.

I went back several weeks later to see if he was still there. I turned on my digital voice recorder and asked again. “Captain Sibley, are you still here?” Later when I listened to the recording, all I heard was the sound of birds chirping in the background. If he was still there, he wasn’t responding.  I hoped he’d listened to my advice and found the peace he so deserved.  For insurance, a year later I brought a psychic medium to the cemetery and he crossed over five souls. My hope was that if Captain Sibley hadn’t crossed over initially, that he’d gone when the psychic medium gave him another opportunity. Either way, I truly feel he finally found his way.

The story would have ended there if I’d been able to let it go. Thoughts of the Sibley family haunted me. I couldn’t get them off my mind. I reached out to a friend who has a knack for researching and she was able to provide me with more information.  She filled in many of the details for me, fleshing out the bare-boned tragedy and giving it life.

The Sibleys had a long history in Massachusetts. They arrived in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1629, quickly becoming a very prominent family. They boasted statesmen and soldiers of the Revolutionary War, as well as being prosperous business owners.  An early relative of Charles Sibley’s was Mary Woodrow Sibley, who allegedly showed Tibuta and Indian John how to make the urine cakes used to test for witches during the Salem Witch Trials.

Nearly two centuries later, Charles Sibley was born in 1808, the youngest of five siblings. The family relocated to Barre, Massachusetts while he was a child, setting up a homestead just outside of Coldbrook Springs. When he was 25 years-old, he married a woman named Catharine Brigham who was three years his senior. He was listed as “Captain Sibley” on his gravestone, but no information could be found about any military services. In colonial times, this was often added to the name because of the family’s past military service.

They were married for two years before having their first child, a son they named Charles, after his father. Three years later, they would have another son named Nelson. Daughter, Catherine, was born two afterward, named after her mother. The following year, they would add another son, James, to the family, but he would die of whooping cough before his first birthday. In 1845, they would have a second daughter they named Mary. And in 1848 they would have their last child, who they would also name Charles.

They would lose all but two of their children soon after to dysentery.

Dying of dysentery was a very horrible way to go. An inflammation of the lower intestines would lead to a high fever and painful, never-ending diarrhea. Left untreated, the victim would become dehydrated and eventually succumb to the infection. It is often caused by consuming contaminated food or water, or from poor hygiene.  Charles himself would die two years later from Typhoid Fever, after being sick for eight straight days.

Charles’ wife, Catherine would live to be sixty-nine, dying in 1874 in Boston. Her death certificate listed paralysis as the cause of death, although I’m sure there’s more to the story. Sons, Nelson and Charles (the second) would survive both of their parents. Nelson married in 1870 and died in 1900. Charles married in 1882 and died sometime after 1930 in Highgate, Vermont. His occupation was listed as a paper carrier.

There is still so much I don’t know about the Sibley family, and I’m certain this won’t be the last time I’ll think of them.  One thing is certain, I feel as though I was led to his grave for a reason. Maybe it was just to remember them, like they should be remembered.

Or maybe it was to help.

Either way, I’m happy this family found their way into my life.

Heaven will take you, Captain Sibley. You just have to ask again.

Rest in peace, my friend.

Many thanks go to Marian King for her valuable research. You gave me some much needed closure.

Joni Mayhan

Joni Mayhan is a paranormal investigator, as well as a free-lance writer. Please check out her paranormal thrillers on Amazon.com and BarnesandNobles.com. For more information about the author, please see her website: Jonimayhan.com

The Soul Collector – The true story of one paranormal investigator’s worst nightmare

http://www.amazon.com/The-Soul-Collector-ebook/dp/B00EIHG90Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1381464557&sr=1-1&keywords=joni+mayhan

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Angels of Ember trilogy – After a devastating virus nearly wipes the world clean of people, 16 year-old Ember Pain grows tired of running and hiding from the bad men who hunt her and her younger sister, Elizabeth. Fighting back becomes a necessity, even if it threatens her very life.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=angels+of+ember+trilogy&rh=n%3A133140011%2Ck%3Aangels+of+ember+trilogy

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 Lightning Strikes

Ember Rain

Angel Storm

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Living in the Moment

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Take a deep breath. Allow the air to fill your lungs, and just let your mind go still. What are you missing? What is really important in life?

Once you know what this is, latch onto it with every ounce of your being and let it become the priority. Life will go on. Change is inevitable. Bad things will happen. Good things too, if you let them.

For me, it’s all about living in the moment.

I don’t worry about the things that will happen tomorrow and I don’t fret over the mistakes I made yesterday. As long as there’s a tomorrow, there will be another chance to make things right. I refuse to sacrifice this precious moment in front of me for anything else. Like the artist who lingers inside of me, I capture it in my mind and hover over it, protecting it with all my might.

There is a quiet hush in the air as a storm slips in. It is coming in agonizingly slow, stealthily almost, as if it’s trying to sneak up undetected. The day started with an overcast canvas. The flat grey sky highlighted the black bare limbs of the November trees. Everything was utterly still, as if holding its breath, waiting. There wasn’t a squirrel or bird in sight. As I sat by my window watching, I imagined them tucked snugly into warm nests, dreaming of warm days and sunshine.

Life has a resounding element to it, as if nothing happens by accident. The stir of the breeze ruffles the last of the dry brown leaves, sending them scuttling across the hard-packed ground, uncovering an acorn that might be discovered later by a hungry squirrel.  The flurry of the day sparks my imagination, prompting me to grab pen and paper, spilling my imaginings into a place where they will be captured, like a photograph, so I can revisit them later.

Somewhere, not far from my quiet window, the world hustles and bustles, like it usually does. People fight traffic in their cars, noticing the color of the stop lights, but missing the color of the sky. They worry about jobs, money, and unfinished tasks, things that won’t matter at the end of their lifetimes when they are looking back, wondering what they missed.

Life is a series of events. We have no means of dictating most of them. The sun will rise and it will set. New lives will be created, while others are ended. People need to work to pay the cost of simply existing. The things that are in our control often spin away from us just out of reach. We struggle to change the tumbling direction of our lives, but we have no more control of this than we do the wind that blows from the heavens. Just breathe and let it happen.

There is a purpose. You have to trust that. Everything will be okay.

On our deathbeds, will we wish we’d beaten the Main Street stoplight, made a better presentation, or change the mind of a person filled with hatred?

Probably not.

We will wish that we’d spent more time with the ones we loved, enjoying them for the sake of just being together with no expectations. We will wish we’d treated ourselves with more quiet times, allowing our minds to slowly unfurl, appreciating the beauty around us, enjoying all these moments that were practically handed to us with gift wrapping.

The joy isn’t in the results. The outcome isn’t always the goal. Focus too much on the trivial things and we’ll miss the tranquil moments, the times when the world presents itself to us full and whole, ripe for the picking. Eat an apple and feel your teeth sink into the skin, as the juices trickle down your chin. Hug a child, feeling her small hands squeeze you back. Pet a cat and listen, really listen, to the sound of the purr. Delight is just a concept, a creation of our own making. Happiness is where we find it.

I sit in front of the window, watching, taking notice of the world outside. I am living in the moment, as I usually do.

I refuse to waste a single second.

Joni Mayhan

Joni Mayhan is a paranormal investigator, as well as a free-lance writer. Please check out her paranormal thrillers on Amazon.com and BarnesandNobles.com. For more information about the author, please see her website: Jonimayhan.com

The Soul Collector – The true story of one paranormal investigator’s worst nightmare

http://www.amazon.com/The-Soul-Collector-ebook/dp/B00EIHG90Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1381464557&sr=1-1&keywords=joni+mayhan

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Angels of Ember trilogy – After a devastating virus nearly wipes the world clean of people, 16 year-old Ember Pain grows tired of running and hiding from the bad men who hunt her and her younger sister, Elizabeth. Fighting back becomes a necessity, even if it threatens her very life.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=angels+of+ember+trilogy&rh=n%3A133140011%2Ck%3Aangels+of+ember+trilogy

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 Lightning Strikes

Ember Rain

Angel Storm

Ghostly Pajama Party – my night at the Curtis House Inn

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I knew the moment I walked into the room that someone was waiting for me.

It had been a long day and a long night already. It was just after midnight and we’d just come from a four hour presentation. Lorraine Warren, the celebrated medium, had hosted an event in nearby Monroe, Connecticut. My friend, Sandy, and I had made the two-and-a-half hour drive down from Massachusetts to be a part of it. Since driving back two-and-a-half hours wasn’t an option, she had reserved a room for us at the Curtis House Inn, in Woodbury.

Built in 1735 by Anthony Stoddard for his son Elikim, the house would open its doors as an inn in 1754. Originally, the house contained two stories, with the second floor sporting a massive ballroom. The ballroom was eventually converted into individual rooms, with a third floor being added in the early 1900’s. It has the honor of being the oldest continually opened inn in Connecticut.

Our room was in the carriage house, which is connected to the main house by a charming footbridge. Four rooms had been carved from the structure, with the main floor being used for storage. While the main house is known to be haunted, no one had reported any activity in the carriage house.

I was tired when we got to the room. Thoughts of investigating were far from my mind. I actually hadn’t given the accommodations much thought. I’d reserved our tickets for the Lorraine Warren event, while Sandy had handled the overnight reservations. A friend had recommended the inn because of its relative proximity to the Warren event.

It didn’t dawn on me that we were going to a haunted inn until I walked in the door. It was as if the room was filled with invisible guests already.

As an experienced and enthusiastic paranormal investigator, finding a haunted venue is usually very exciting to me, but at that moment it was the last thing I needed. I just wanted to change into my pajamas, read a little from the new book I’d just purchased at the event, and then close my eyes for seven or eight hours until I was properly rested and ready for the next day. Dealing with ghosts wasn’t on my agenda.

It was then that I realized Sandy had mentioned we would be staying at a haunted inn.  I guess in the back of my mind I’d thought we could wander the grounds and inn to do a few EVP sessions, before retiring to our room. What I hadn’t considered was the fact that we’d be hosting a pajama party for the paranormal realm.

The room had two twin beds, so I quickly claimed the one nearest the door, and then retreated into the bathroom to brush my teeth, and to change into my sleeping attire. I’d barely closed the door when I realized I wasn’t alone.

Being clairaudient, with a dash or two of clairvoyance thrown into the mix, I can hear and sense ghosts and spirits. I hear an audible tone that drifts around the room, allowing me to identify the location of the entity, as well as the gender. My clairvoyant abilities, which are still developing, provide me with more information. This entity was a ghost, not a spirit who’d crossed over into the next realm.  While spirit tones usually don’t bother me, the sound of a true ghost always gets my attention. You never really know what a ghost is capable of.

This ghost was a young female, possibly a maid from the early 1800’s, who’d worked and lived at the inn. I saw her in my mind as thin, with long dark hair that she wore in a bun under a white cap. She wore a pale blue dress with a large white apron over the top of it. She didn’t mean me any harm, but was curious about me.

It’s my understanding that anyone with mediumistic abilities, the ability to communicate or sense ghosts and spirits, is instantly identifiable to the afterlife. I don’t know if we emit a certain glow, or they are just able to sense our abilities, but they definitely know we’re there and that we can feel them as well. Maybe she was looking for help, or to pass a message on. She might have just been seeking a human connection with someone who could feel her, after being ignored for the better part of two-hundred years. I’ll never know because my abilities don’t extend that far.

“I know you’re here, but I can’t communicate with you,” I told her. “I’m not a true medium. I can feel you and get an idea of what you look like, but I can’t communicate like a real medium can,” I told her. Most mediums won’t bother to say this out loud. They will talk telepathically with the ghosts or spirits. It often makes me feel inapt, not being able to do this. If I want to talk with them, I have to use my ghost hunting equipment.

After getting somewhat settled, I returned to the room to find Sandy already in her pajamas with her digital voice recorder in her hand. Also being a budding clairvoyant, she must have gotten a similar message while I was in the bathroom.

“This room is wall-to-wall ghosts,” she told me.

Normally an investigation has more of a formal feel to it. We gather our equipment, including our meters to measure electromagnetic energy, and our beloved Spirit Boxes, and conduct a session. It usually starts with one of us sweeping the room with a Mel Meter, to see if there are any electromagnetic spikes that would cause our equipment to alert us. A false spike could often be caused by faulty electric wiring, or devices like clock radios, that usually emit high levels of energy. We didn’t even bother this time. The room was full of ghosts and we knew it. All we needed was a way to record them.

We turned on our recorders and began asking respectful, gentle questions of our invisible guests. As we began, we started sensing the others as well. One entity was male, and was joined by several other females. I didn’t like him as much. He felt controlling and a bit hostile. We asked them general questions about where they lived, how old they were, and why they were still lingering at the inn. We even pulled out a Spirit Box to see if we could get a response, but the ghosts just weren’t talking. We didn’t record a single EVP.

By this time, I was getting really tired. I’d been up since seven that morning and had worked a full day before making the two and a half hour trek south to Connecticut. All I wanted was some nice REM time to recover my energy. As I’d soon find out, it wasn’t going to happen.

The minute I turned out the light and rolled onto my side, I felt them swoop in. The feeling is very similar to the sensation of a person walking very quietly into a room. Sometimes I just know they’re there. I can feel the displacement of air, the sense of their energy behind me. Added to this was the very loud buzzing in my ears. By the sound of it, there were at least a handful of ghosts trying to get my attention.

I’ve been taught to surround myself with white light and then inform the entities that they are not allowed to come near me for the duration of the night, so I did this. I envisioned the light as being very bright, radiating from my body like a solar flare. As it would turn out, it would be like a bug light to a flock of moths.

One touched my hair, pulling it back from my face. Even though I’ve had this happen numerous times, it still unnerves me. I don’t like to be touched, especially by people I can’t see.

“Stop touching me!” I said, probably jarring Sandy out of early sleep stages in the bed across the room. I closed my eyes again and tried my fail-safe method of counting backwards from 21. Usually, all I have to do is think the number “21” and I’m well on my way, but this time it wouldn’t work because someone touched my leg. It felt like a cold hand being placed on my ankle. I pulled my knees up into a fetal position, wondering if I would ever get to sleep.

“Are they bothering you?” Sandy asked.

“Yeah, they keep touching me,” I told her. She sighed, feeling bad for me.  She could feel them as well, but they usually gave her a wide berth when she told them to stay away. For some reason this never works for me. The more I resist, the closer they come.

I tried reciting the Lord’s Prayer in my mind, something that usually calms me, but before I could get to the “amen,” I was jolted off my pillow in pain. It felt as though someone reached into my eye socket and grabbed a handful of eyeball.

I started to sit up, when the pain moved to my chest. The hand lunged into my chest and grabbed onto my heart. It almost felt as though I were having a heart attack before the feeling eased and then moved to my leg. I was under attack.

I jumped up from bed. The room was dark, with just a gentle glow from the street lights filtering through the window. While I once loved sleeping in total darkness, I just can’t do it anymore. After experiencing what I did with a negative demonic entity that I wrote about in my book, The Soul Collector, nothing would ever be the same for me.  I’m not afraid of the dark. I’m afraid of what’s hiding in the dark that I can’t see.

“Do you mind if I turn on the lamp?” I asked.

“No, go ahead,” Sandy said.

I have to give Sandy credit. Being my friend comes with a very large burden. While she also is coming into her own abilities, mine seem to be far more disruptive.

I turned on the light and then turned around to consider my bed.

“Maybe I can sleep in the car,” I mused.

Sandy laughed. “I think they’d find you there just as easily.” It was a truth I didn’t even need to respond to. If I was in the vicinity, a ghost would be sure to find me. I have a very hard time sleeping in hotels for this reason. If there is even one lingering around the building, it will hone in on me within minutes of my arrival, promising me a night of restless sleep. It’s another reason why I’m still single. Some baggage is okay, but mine would be difficult to handle for most people.

I went back to bed with a determination of finding some sleep. We had a big day planned for the next day. Our friends had invited us to investigate at the abandoned Sterling Opera House in nearby Derby. I’d seen photos of the building and was eager to experience it for myself.

I curled back on my side and with a dire determination, finally fell asleep. I’d be woken up minutes later by someone again grabbing my ankle. This would go on the entire night. The minute I’d fall asleep, I’d either be poked or touched until I woke back up again. Several times the touch would come with a strong smell. Once I smelled cigarette smoke and another time the very foul smell of a dirty animal nearly made me choke. What little sleep I would manage was interlaced with dreams of people I didn’t know, trying to urgently tell me things they wanted me to hear. When I woke up the next morning, I felt as tired as I had when I walked into the room at midnight.

I don’t have any wild stories to tell about furniture being thrown across the room or the contents of my travel bag being dumped on the floor. All I have is the personal experiences that prodded and pulled at me for a solid nine hours.

If you invite me to go somewhere that involves overnight travel and I hesitate, please don’t be offended when I decline the invitation.

Being a sensitive in a world filled with ghosts isn’t always easy, but it’s all I know. Maybe one day I’ll learn to handle it, but for now I’m just doing the best I can.

Joni Mayhan

Joni Mayhan is a paranormal investigator, as well as a free-lance writer. Please check out her paranormal thrillers on Amazon.com and BarnesandNobles.com. For more information about the author, please see her website: Jonimayhan.com

The Soul Collector – The true story of one paranormal investigator’s worst nightmare

http://www.amazon.com/The-Soul-Collector-ebook/dp/B00EIHG90Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1381464557&sr=1-1&keywords=joni+mayhan

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Angels of Ember trilogy – After a devastating virus nearly wipes the world clean of people, 16 year-old Ember Pain grows tired of running and hiding from the bad men who hunt her and her younger sister, Elizabeth. Fighting back becomes a necessity, even if it threatens her very life.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=angels+of+ember+trilogy&rh=n%3A133140011%2Ck%3Aangels+of+ember+trilogy

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 Lightning Strikes

Ember Rain

Angel Storm

The Haunting of the Purple Head Bridge

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The Purple Head Bridge is a narrow one lane bridge that connects Indiana to Illinois, spanning the Wabash River with barely a hope and a prayer. Driving across it is fairly precarious. While it’s structurally sound, it’s also only one lane wide. Drivers alert one another by flashing their headlights from the other side.

It’s also incredibly haunted.

Ghost stories abound, but pinning the legend down to just one story is difficult. It depends on who you ask. Some say that a man tried to commit suicide there, but something went horribly wrong. When he jumped from the bridge with a noose around his neck, he inadvertently decapitated himself. The sight of his floating “purple head” can be seen bobbing around the bridge. Others say Ku Klux Klan activity from the 1960’s causes the disturbances. Some blame it on fierce Native American battles as they defended their land. I’m not certain what the cause is, but the area is definitely creepy. I had one of my most frightening and perplexing paranormal experiences there several years ago.

It all started with a trip to Indiana. My entire family, outside of my children, resides in this mid-western state, scattered mostly in the southern tip. When I return for a visit, there is almost always a ghost hunt set up and waiting for me.

Initially my family and friends were taken back by my ghost hunting, but after hearing about my adventures and sampling some of my tantalizing EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena, aka spirit voices) they wanted to experience it for themselves. Through this, I’ve gotten to investigate at several locations I would have never dreamed of pursuing on my own. The Purple Head Bridge is a good example.

Our group was fairly small, consisting of my younger sister, Leah, my old high-school friend, John, and his wife, Melinda. Leah had been ghost hunting with me before, but it would be John and Melinda’s first time. While Melinda was a firm believer in the paranormal, John was decidedly on the fence. He’d have to see it to believe it, which I can appreciate.

It was a muggy summer evening and the cool breeze from the Wabash River was a welcome relief. It had taken us several wrong turns to find the bridge, but once we did, we just stopped at the end and took it all in.

By all accounts, it looked like an old train bridge, but my sister assured me that it sees plenty of traffic since it is the only bridge in the area linking the two states. She told us that we were supposed to drive out to the middle of the bridge and turn off the headlights. If we were lucky, we’d see the purple head floating somewhere near the bridge.

As this turns out, it was nearly impossible and actually quite dangerous. As soon as we drove out onto the bridge, a car appeared at the other end, waiting its turn. Sitting in the middle with no headlights would be a very good way to get rear-ended by an unsuspecting vehicle. So, we moved onto Plan B.

We’d park on the other side and hike down to the river’s edge. Surely if the head floated near the bridge, we could see it from our vantage point below. The only problem with this was the bonfire and party going on nearby. Apparently the bridge is a local hang-out for teenagers in the area. So, we moved onto Plan C.

Being an avid Geocacher (go to Geocaching.com for more info, if you don’t know what this is), my sister knew of a location just ahead where a Geocache was hidden near a single-grave cemetery. She didn’t know if it was haunted or not, but it was worth a shot. We continued down the narrow road. The trees grew in a canopy across the road, providing a dark tunnel for us to navigate through. As we drove, the moon winked through the trees, setting the mood.

We found the area and pulled off the side of the road to park.  We stood for a moment and read the marker. The memorial park was set up for a man named James Johnston, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Pennsylvania Militia, serving in the Revolutionary War.  He apparently survived the battle and lived out his final years in the Indiana/Illinois area. A sign directed us towards a long dark pathway, which would lead us to the memorial park.

The dirt path trailed deep into the forest, providing a perfectly chilling backdrop to what we would soon experience. We walked single-file down the trail, the light from our flashlights bobbed out ahead of us, illuminating swatches of the deep underbrush and the slip of trail that parted between it. A cadence of crickets and cicadas chirped from the depths of the darkness. An occasional car whished past on the main road, just to our right, making us giggle with thoughts of people reporting strange lights in the forest near the haunted bridge. Our smiles soon faded as we reached the end of the path.

The area was no larger than a standard-sized living room. It consisted of a park bench and a single grave, surrounded on all sides by the deep, dark woods. The first thing I noticed was how quiet it was. The trees barely stirred in the breeze and even the crickets quieted down as we arrived. It was as though the very woods itself was holding its breath, waiting to witness what would happen next.

I sat down on the bench, while the others stood nearby.

“I’m going to do an EVP session, so I need everyone to stand very still,” I said. “I’ll ask a few questions and then wait for a response. Then I’ll turn it over to the next person,” I told them. We’ve found that the best way to do an efficient EVP session is to set guidelines in advance. The first person asks as many questions as they want, before passing it to the person on their left. By taking turns, we never talk over one another, and it gives everyone a chance to participate.  I turned on my recorder.

Before I could begin to speak, I began hearing the sound of voices nearby. I paused, and asked the others if they also heard it. I wouldn’t know until later, but I recorded a very poignant EVP.

“I hear voices. Does anyone else hear that?” I asked.

During the break between my sentences, a ghostly voice says, “I hear annoyed.”

(click the link to hear the actual EVP)

https://soundcloud.com/jonimayhan/vincennes-revolutionary-1

We all sat quietly for a minute, but couldn’t hear anything. After a while, I pulled out my flashlight. While I’m not a huge fan of using a flashlight as an investigating tool, I will admit that it has its advantages.  Sometimes it comes on instantly when a question is asked. It also gives everyone something to focus on during the EVP session, keeping them both entertained and quiet as they watch the light.

“If there is anyone here with us, can you turn on the light?” I asked.

Almost immediately, I felt something whoosh in from the forest behind me. It felt like a small comet of cold air, blowing into me with a force that sent my hair flying in front of my face.  I jumped up from the bench, startled. As everyone goggled at me, I laughed, embarrassed to be so easily alarmed. Some fearless ghost hunter I was.

“Was that a bug?” my friend Melinda asked.

“No, I just heard something behind me,” I said, embarrassed at my jumpiness. What I didn’t realize, was that I had a very good reason to jump from my seat. The whoosh I felt wasn’t a cold breeze, it was a ghost. And he had a message for us.

“Go away!” he hissed, right before I jumped up from the bench.

(click on the link to hear the actual EVP)

https://soundcloud.com/jonimayhan/vincennes-revolutionary

After composing myself again, I sat back down and asked  a few more questions, which went unanswered. I turned it over to the next person in the group, and sat quietly until everyone had a chance to ask questions. No more EVPs were recorded until we got up to move to the grave.

According to the psychic mediums I’ve spoken with, people are supposed to move into a white light when they die. The ones who chose not to cross over are often confused. Some don’t even know they are dead.  I knew there was a ghost nearby, because my ears were ringing, like they do when I feel a ghostly presence.

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I began talking about the white light. As my words came out, they almost sounded like a prayer. I told them that the white light was a place of peace and love, and that their families were waiting for them with open arms. I encouraged them to look upwards to see if they could see the light, and to then pass through it to find the solace and redemption they deserved.

As I finished, I promptly stepped backwards and nearly fell in a hole.

When I’m nervous, I can’t always count on my emotions to follow the rules. Sometimes I laugh when I’m afraid, and this was one of these times. As I giggled, you can hear a very distinct response. The most interesting thing about it is the accent. It sounds like it comes from someone with a very strong Southern dialect.

“I’m gonna get the light,” he says.

(press the link to hear the actual EVP)

https://soundcloud.com/jonimayhan/vincennes-revolutionary-2

We spent a few more minutes there, paying our respects to the fallen soldier before heading back up the path to our cars. The full surprise of what we witnessed wouldn’t present itself until later, when I listened to the EVPs. Then, the full story was told.

I think there were two distinct entities in the woods that night. One wasn’t happy we were there. He swooped in from the very woods to deliver two messages he hoped would chase us away. The other was from a very kindly voiced man, who we hope took our advice and moved into the light.

Was the angry ghost the one who is known to haunt the Purple Head Bridge? It’s not something we’ll ever know for certain. As I left Indiana and headed back to my home in Massachusetts, I spent a lot of time thinking about it.

I hope they both found peace.  I really do.

Joni Mayhan

Joni Mayhan is a paranormal investigator, as well as a free-lance writer. Please check out her paranormal thrillers on Amazon.com and BarnesandNobles.com. For more information about the author, please see her website: Jonimayhan.com

The Soul Collector – The true story of one paranormal investigator’s worst nightmare

http://www.amazon.com/The-Soul-Collector-ebook/dp/B00EIHG90Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1381464557&sr=1-1&keywords=joni+mayhan

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Angels of Ember trilogy – After a devastating virus nearly wipes the world clean of people, 16 year-old Ember Pain grows tired of running and hiding from the bad men who hunt her and her younger sister, Elizabeth. Fighting back becomes a necessity, even if it threatens her very life.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=angels+of+ember+trilogy&rh=n%3A133140011%2Ck%3Aangels+of+ember+trilogy

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 Lightning Strikes

Ember Rain

Angel Storm

Can Pets See Ghosts?

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The dogs knew the house was haunted long before the owners did. Wendy and Nina, two tiny white Maltese dogs, would stand at the bottom of the grand staircase at the Victorian mansion and growl.

Edwin Gonazalez and Lillian Otero had purchased the gothic looking Second Empire Victorian mansion, also known as the S.K. Pierce House, months earlier and were eager to move into their beautiful home. Reports that it was haunted didn’t bother them, because they weren’t believers. This would change in a matter of months, but the dogs were one of the first indicators.

“They would wake up in the middle of the night, growling at the hallway, absolutely fixated on something I couldn’t see,” Edwin said. He’d open his eyes to scan the dark hallway, afraid of what he might find. On several occasions, he saw a black shadow mass move across the doorway, blocking out the lights in the hallway.

Can our pets actually see ghosts?

Christina Tregger Achilles, co-founder of New England Paranormal Observation Science Technology (NE POST), had a similar experience at the S.K. Pierce House with her dog Sierra, a tiny fawn-colored pug.

“Our friend Ben caught her on camera, reacting to things that were happening upstairs. She would be sleeping soundly, then would wake up and stare at the third floor stairs just before something would bang or bump,” she said after touring the mansion with co-founder, Chris Cox.

“She continues to sense things. I catch her watching something as if she’s watching a tennis match,” she added.

Are they seeing or hearing something we can’t? While there aren’t any hard facts to support the concept that dogs and cats can see ghosts, it has been documented that they do have much keener senses, making one wonder what they are capable of picking up on.

While it’s not proof, their vision is very different from ours. It is geared towards movement to assist them in hunting, also allowing them to see better in low light situations. Cats also have a better grasp on colors at the red end of the spectrum, allowing them to differentiate between blues and violets better than we can.

Also consider the use of full spectrum cameras on paranormal investigations. Researchers using these cameras, which photograph a broader array of the color spectrum than what can be seen with human eyes, often capture strange shapes and anomalies in the photos. Is this what our pets are seeing?

And they can also hear better than we can, lending more truth to the concept.

A dog can detect sounds that are well beyond the spectrum of human hearing. While humans typically hear sounds from 12Hz to 20,000 Hz, a dog can hear nearly four times greater, in the 40Hz to 60,000 Hz range. If you don’t believe this, just blow on a dog whistle or download an app for your smart phone and test it yourself.

When I tried this, I was dismayed to discover that I could only hear up to 12,000 Hz. But when I pressed the button at the 20,000 Hz range, every pet in my house sat up to look at me. Is it possible that spirit communication transpires in a frequency that is either above or below the range we can hear?

It has long been speculated that ghostly phenomena exists at a different plane of existence. Researchers collecting EVP’s (Electronic Voice Phenomena) will often record spirit responses on digital recorders that cannot be heard by human ears at the time they are recorded. A true EVP response will not be heard at the time the question is asked, but will be captured on a digital recorder, suggesting that spirit communication is conducted at a higher or lower range of the audible spectrum, something we as humans cannot hear, but our pets might be able to.

People have been reporting this occurrence for years.  Nick Mantello, co-founder of the Berkshire Paranormal team, is one of the caretakers for The Houghton Mansion. Located in North Adams, Massachusetts, the three-story mansion has been featured on many paranormal shows, such as the SciFi Channel’s Ghost Hunters, as well as the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures. When he visits the mansion for routine visits, he often brings his dog Kronk with him.

Kronk often stares at the corner in the Masonic Temple, a building that is still used by Freemasons of the Layfayete-Greylock Lodge. Kronk often stares and then barks in areas of the mansion where paranormal activity has been captured. One of his least favorite areas is a corner of the Lodge in the Masonic Temple.

“I’ve told people this story about the corner of the Lodge. The dog just don’t like it,” he said. He captured Kronk’s reaction on the video link below.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151817479741042

The stories are endless. Sandra Chase, an avid paranormal enthusiast had an experience she recently shared with me. Her husband passed away in 2007. He was fond of playing computer games and would often pet their dog while he was playing.

“About three months after he passed, the dogs and I were in the living room. Rags was sleeping on the rug. All of a sudden, she got up and went over to the computer chair, put her head under the arm, and started wagging her tail,” she said.

Is this proof of paranormal activity?

Unfortunately it’s not, but it’s something pet owners will continue to pay attention to. Until dogs and cats are able to tell us what they’re seeing, we’ll always be left guessing. Some of us don’t need proof to understand what is happening.

“They just know,” Lillian Ortero said.

I have a tendency to agree with her.

Joni Mayhan is a paranormal investigator and the author of The Soul Collector, which is an account of her most terrifying paranormal experience.  Find this book and her others on Amazon.com

 

Defending a Mansion

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I am normally a very laid-back person. If something bothers me and I can’t fix it, I take a tip from my dog. I kick a little dirt on it, after marking it for later reference, and then move on.

Some things are harder than others to move on from, though. One of my biggest pet peeves is people who go out of their way to bring a little gloominess to everything they touch. When I encounter them, I try to remember that negative people are simply that: negative. They’ll find fault with anything and everything. I can usually just do the dog-thing and kick a little dirt on the situation and move on, but not when it comes to friends or family.

If you know me, you’ll probably remember that I am very passionate about the Haunted Victorian Mansion in Gardner, Massachusetts. I visit any chance I get. I am peculiarly drawn there. I just can’t seem to stay away.

A lot of my fixation involves the house itself. Built in 1875, the Second Empire Victorian style mansion is beautiful in detail and rich in history. The nine-foot tall mahogany doors lead to a luxurious interior that was state-of-the-art for the late 1800’s. The house boasts two cisterns that once collected rainwater from the slate roof, providing the occupants with running water. The hand-carved moldings and cornices speak volumes of a time when houses were built slowly and lovingly. A sophisticated call-system was wired through the house, allowing people on one floor to communicate with those on other floors. Famous people frequented the mansion back in its heyday. Minnesota Fats played pool there. The likes of Bette Davis, PT Barnum, and Norman Rockwell were frequent visitors. President Calvin Coolidge even spent time there. Walking through the doors is like traveling back in time.

The house is owned by two of the nicest people I’ve ever known. Edwin Gonzalez and Lillian Otero are very warm and welcoming. From the first time I met them, and they greeted me at the door with hugs, I knew they were special people. Over the years, they’ve collected a group of friends, who fondly refer to themselves as the Victorian Mansion Groupies. We help out with investigations and fund-raisers, and anything else that needs time and attention. Heading up this group is Marion Luomo, the Victorian Mansion Caretaker. She tirelessly tends to the house while the owners are away, checking to insure the house is in good order, and often opening up the house for investigations and tours. She is often joined by Tina Aube, who is just as addicted to the Victorian Mansion as I am. Our friend, Sandy MacLeod joins us on occasion, as does NE POST founder, Christopher Cox, and co-founder, Christina Treger Achilles, who are pooling resources for repairs to the house.  Together, we all have a mission: to save the Victorian.

The Victorian has fallen on tough times. 138 years of freezing and thawing, pigeons, hurricanes, and blizzards, has taken its toll on the house. The gables are pulling away from the building, and the slate roof has been leaking for many years, threatening the entire structure. Chris Cox brought in a contractor for an evaluation, and the news wasn’t good. If the house isn’t repaired, it might not last another year or two.

Anyone who owns an old Victorian knows they can be money pits. When Edwin and Lillian first moved in, they spent money hand-over-fist, fixing the plumbing, trying to get the fireplaces to work safely, updating the electrical, and a host of other repairs. Any money they received from tours and investigations went almost directly to the repairmen. When the house became too paranormally active to live in, they were forced to move closer to Boston, where they share a small space at Lillian’s sister’s house.

At this point, they could have sold the house. They could have put it on the market and taken a financial hit for all the money they’d already invested into it. But, like many of us, the house had a hold on them. They loved it and wanted, if nothing else, to save it from total ruin. They just couldn’t walk away and leave it up to fate.

Nearly every penny they receive from investigations and tours goes right back into the house. Besides the expensive repairs, they have to pay the mortgage, the electric bill, town taxes, and insurance. They do this for a house they can’t even live in, while maintaining a separate residence nearly fifty miles away. When the house appears on a paranormal show, it brings more interest. More people want to tour it or investigate it, bringing more money for the repairs that are desperately needed.

And some people have criticized them for it.

They say they’re exploiting the spirits, while raking in tons of money and enjoying their fame and fortune. Those people have never seen Edwin and Lillian drive up to the event in their old Honda, or understand that they now live in a room that is smaller than any one room in the mansion they own, but can’t live in. They’ve never seen them break down in tears when talking about the events that led them to flee from their own house. They’ve never seen the love in their eyes as they talk about their beloved Victorian.

As Edwin recently said, “Who would do that? Who would buy a house they couldn’t live in?”

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, of course. Some say the house is filled with ghosts, while others proclaim it to be ghost-free. If you lived it from the inside-out, you would probably have a different take on the matter. Imagine being pinned to your bed with invisible hands, waking up to find a woman standing by your bedside crying. What would you do if your doors slammed on their own accord, while you listened to footsteps walk around your bed while you tried to sleep? What if you were overtaken by something you couldn’t explain, waking up days later with little knowledge of what transpired? Would you really want to stay there?  I’ve spent the night there twice, and I can tell you that it wasn’t a pleasant experience. While I love the house dearly, I’d never want to live there. If I had the opportunity to seek help, or at least have some of my questions answered, I too would turn to people who could possibly offer assistance. The problem is: who do you believe?

Not all the people invited to the mansion are there to investigate. Some have been called in to help. Multiple people have blessed and cleansed the house. Others have offered answers to some of the questions plaguing the owners. In the paranormal field though, answers are never cut and dried. Since there aren’t any rule books on the subject, all of the information being provided to the owners has been varied, and not always helpful. Some have caused more harm than good. Others have tried to fix this, only to make it worse. For the moment, the house is much calmer than it’s been in years, but that isn’t guaranteed to last. As we all know, change often happens quickly and without warning.

So, please…be more considerate. Remember that this is a house that needs help. Sponsoring paranormal events brings money which is needed to fix the house. If the house isn’t repaired, it has only a few years left before it will fall into a swift decline. It is a piece of Gardner history, a treasure that is precariously hanging by its last hope. If having it featured on paranormal television shows helps this house stick around another hundred years, what harm is it doing to you?

If you have ideas that could help Edwin and Lillian, by all means, please share them. We all love that house and want nothing more than to see it transformed back to its former beauty.

Now, I’m going to kick some dirt over this and move on. I have another book to write.

Joni Mayhan

Joni Mayhan is a paranormal investigator, as well as a free-lance writer. Please check out her paranormal thrillers on Amazon.com and BarnesandNobles.com. For more information about the author, please see her website: Jonimayhan.com

The Soul Collector – The true story of one paranormal investigator’s worst nightmare

Angels of Ember trilogy

 Lightning Strikes

Ember Rain

Angel Storm

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=joni%20mayhan

For more information about the SK Pierce Haunted Victorian Mansion, please see their website: hauntedvictorianmansion.com or find them on Facebook.

http://hauntedvictorianmansion.com/index.html

My First Paranormal Experience

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I was six years old when I had my first paranormal experience, but I still remember it like it happened yesterday.

I grew up in a little log cabin that sat across the lake from my grandparent’s house. It was every child’s paradise. Being the first grandchild, I was very spoiled by both of my grandparents. My grandfather, who I called Poppy, let me follow along as he checked his traps in the woods. He’d always bring me a package of caramel creams, and we’d sit on a log and enjoy a snack halfway through. While I was very close to Poppy, my heart really belonged to my grandmother, Nanny.

My memories of her are actually very clear, despite how many years it’s been since I last saw her. She babysat me in the afternoons, meeting me at the bus and walking me down her long lane to her house, where we’d sit in her chair and watch Dialing For Dollars, an old show that aired back in the early seventies.  She had a pink bedroom, with a pink telephone, and a little dog named Skipper, who adored her.  She hung elves on her Christmas tree every year, and let me play with them, even after I broke one. Every day with her was a gift.

It came as no surprise when Nanny died when she was only fifty-five years old, which is only six years older than I am today. She had scarlet fever as a child, which weakened her heart. She’d been to countless doctors over the years, but the medical world couldn’t do anything to help her ailing heart. One morning, she simply didn’t wake up. All of us were aptly saddened. Nanny was a special person, with an embracing sense of warmth. She’d just tuck me into her lap and the world suddenly felt like a better place. The night after she died, I had a dream about her.

In the dream, my mother and I were going to her house to pack away some of her clothes for the Goodwill so Poppy wouldn’t have to contend with it. As we came into her living room, I was shocked to see Nanny siting on the couch, smiling at me.

I ran and jumped on her lap. “Nanny! I thought you died,” I said, filled with awe that she was actually here with me.  I looked for my mother to show her that she was wrong. Nanny didn’t die! My mother was already in Nanny’s bedroom, pulling clothes out of her closet. How could she have walked right by Nanny without seeing her?

Nanny turned to me, and I could feel the love pour through her.

“I did die, sweetheart, but I couldn’t leave without telling you goodbye,” she said. I hugged her with all my might, and then woke up from my dream.

That story still causes goose bumps to rise up on my arms, because I know it was true. Nanny looked out for me for many years. I don’t know if you’d call her my guardian or my angel, but she was there for me many times in my youth.

I started experiencing clairaudient experiences soon afterwards. My ears would ring when a spirit was near, but I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. Should I find it scary or fascinating? I wasn’t even certain what it meant. One of the reasons why it took me so long to figure it out was due to Nanny. She’d nudge me when I was making a bad decision, or if I needed help. I remember literally having my hand in the cookie jar right before dinner, when my ears began ringing loudly. I pulled my hand out quickly, startled by the sound, just as my mother walked into the kitchen. She did it again when a man tried to break into our bedroom a few years after that. My ears began ringing, and I knew I needed to run to get my mother. It would happen again and again, saving me more times than I could count.

Years later, Nanny would actually save my life.

I was eighteen-years-old and was driving back from a job interview on a busy two-lane highway. My old Pontiac Grand Prix was a monstrous beast, but when I put my foot on the pedal, she could almost fly. I enjoyed the sensation of driving fast with my windows open, music flowing through the speakers as freely as the wind blew into my windows. I was approaching seventy miles per hour, singing along with Journey on my eight-track stereo, when I saw Nanny’s face in my mind.

Slow down! She warned me, her face white with fear.

The image was so abrupt and clear, I couldn’t help but listen. I took my foot off the gas and moved it to the brake pedal, slowing down until I was down to forty. At that precise moment, my front tire blew out.

Had I been going seventy, I probably would have had a very serious accident, possibly even flipping the car in the process. Since I was only going forty, I was able to coast to the side of the road, safe and sound.

I haven’t felt her near me in years. I think she knew that it was time to let go and let me make the mistakes I needed to make to become the person I am today. I miss her, but I’m so very grateful for the time she spent with me, both living and in spirit form.

 

Joni Mayhan

Please check out my new book, The Soul Collector, available on Amazon.com.

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