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OK, so this has nothing to do with Halloween, but this is the only blog I have, and I promise that more ghost-trekking news is forthcoming!

My husband and I closed on our first house last week, and are busy getting settled in to our new home.

One2One network was gracious enough to send me a free download for David Gray’s new album, Mutineers, in exchange for a review. You might remember hearing David Gray on the radio, with his catchy song “Babylon.”

So I got up bright and early, started my pot of coffee, and turned on Gray’s album. I was pleased to find that as I unpacked boxes and tackled the organization process, the time flew by.

The first track, “Back in the World” was my personal favorite, telling the story of coming out of a rough patch and getting back in tune with civilization. It hit home on a personal level as I contemplated where my husband and I were 7 years ago, fresh out of college and looking for work, to now owning our very own home. I was swept away as soon as I heard the introduction: “Every day when I open my eyes now it feels like a Saturday . . . Taking down from the shelf all the parts of myself that are packed away,” it was as if Gray was right in my living room watching me unpack and sharing the excitement of this new beginning with me. I was immediately swept away.

Check out the video here:

The lyrics from the track “Last Summer” were just as compelling, with prose like: “I plunged into your eyes, living every hour like a century.” I’m going to bookmark that track!

I predict those two songs off of Mutineers will be number one hits in both the U.S. and U.K., but we’ll have to wait and see, as all 11 tracks bring a unique perspective on life, love, and the pursuit of happiness.

Mutineers is set to be released June 17. Want to be swept away by Gray? You can preorder on iTunes or Amazon.

On June 15, I joined the New Hampshire Spirit Chasers Paranormal team and went back to the Victorian Mansion – it was a small group of us, about 8 or so, and I figured it would be an eventful evening. 

As you may already know, the Victorian Mansion was featured on the June 12th episode of the show “Paranormal Witness,” so if you caught this episode, it makes sense as to why there’s lots of activity in the basement.

Surprisingly, it was pretty quiet this time around. A large set of hanging antique keys did sway back and forth on their own in the basement, but I was still skeptical at first, since one investigator had a backpack on and I thought he may have brushed the keys unintentionally. We debunked that theory by having him walk past the keys near the door again, and discovered his backpack was no where near the level of where the keys were hanging. Here’s a picture:

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The EMF readers some folks had went off a couple of times down in the basement, but not much else. 

I didn’t think the house was nearly as active as when I had been there before. Others had said they’d seen shadows in the servants’ quarters on the third floor, but I didn’t see anything of that nature. I did get a heavy feeling in that space, and didn’t spend much additional time in it for that reason. 

During my first visit, we had lots of “flashlight activity” but I’ve since debunked the idea of paranormal entities turning flashlights on and off. Here’s a great article that explains more about why it’s pretty much a load of malarkey: http://www.skeptinerd.com/2012/03/ghost-hunters-flashlight-trick-exposed/

Since my computer was being repaired the last couple of weeks, I just got the chance to upload my photos from the June 15 trip to Gardner, and came across this chilling image:

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Does anyone else notice anything strange in the upper left hand corner of this photo (to see it properly, you might have to click on the photo and zoom in a bit)? This was taken on the first level of the home, near the china hutch where the owners, Edwin and Lilliana, say they would hear dishes falling off the shelves and breaking. When they’d go to check on the disturbance, they’d find the dishes all still in the cabinet in their proper places. 

I have seen photos on all the various ghost hunting shows on TV that look as if another photo was overlaid on top of it, and thought to myself, “That looks as if someone maybe Photoshopped a picture of someone on top of this photo.” 

Indeed, this photo reminds me of something that could be manipulated with the use of Photoshop, but folks, I have no idea how to do that, and I’m telling you, the only thing I did to this photo was capture the image with a Canon Powershot, put the SD card into my laptop, and import the pictures I took that evening. 

I have a few other photos with an orb or two in them, but I’d love to hear any insights some of you might have as to how and/or why there is what looks to be the image of a young man  in this photo. Is it just an illusion created from the light? 

Would love to hear from my fellow readers as to what they think this could be!

Tune in for the next stops on my paranormal tour of New England this month: the Murdock Whitney House and Museum in Winchendon, followed by a daytrip to Georges Island in Boston Harbor.

During my last post, titled “Cemetery Trekking in Salem,” I mentioned the Class A voice we captured. We began asking questions into the spirit box and it didn’t take long for a voice to shoot back with a “GET OUT!,” clear as day. Yikes!

Finally taking the time today to go through some of the photos I took, I discovered that indeed, I caught more on film that I had originally thought. Check out this face looking back at me upon exiting Howard Street Cemetery:

Orbwithface

Well hello there! Come here often?

Earlier in the day, we explored Pickering Wharf, where people have allegedly seen pirate ghosts or ship workers still hard at work. I captured this photo around the lighthouse area, but was told the appearance of orbs in this photo could have been due to the moisture in the air bouncing off the water.

lighthouse with orbs

Pickering Wharf lighthouse

And in the daytime, during our trek around Gallow’s Hill, we did hear a couple of names on the ghost box when we asked who was with us. We heard the names “Travis” and “Bob.” Travis sounded like a little boy, which made it all the more creepy since we were at the top of Gallow’s Hill, where there’s a rusty swing set and slide that sits there all by its lonesome.

swing set and slide

Come play with me

We all got the impression that based upon their names, these spirits didn’t date as far back as the Salem witch trials, which didn’t surprise us. While many tourists are convinced that this is the ground where the witch hangings took place, many Salem historians dispute this, saying it likely would have been closer to Boston and Proctor Streets, just behind a Walgreen’s. So we made our way to that location as well, but didn’t capture anything paranormal.

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Stayed tuned for more ghost hunting adventures my friends! Now that the weather has warmed up, I’ll surely be exploring more haunted locations.

I had a Salem walking tour scheduled for mid-March, but with the snowy weather New England had up until the very end of that month, it was rescheduled for April 6. 

A group of about 15 of us trekked through Gallow’s Hill in Salem, as well as the presumed area where the “witch” hangings took place (which was actually private property, but thankfully, we had no residents telling us to get the heck off their land).

After breaking for an early dinner, our team circled back with one another for a walk around the wharf and lighthouse at dusk, where pirate ghosts are said to appear on occasion, then on to the Salem Witch’s Memorial and cemetery, followed by a visit to Howard Street cemetery after dark (also against the law to trespass in a cemetery after dark in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which was news to me). 

I am currently sifting through all my photos from the events of this day, and our team leader had a ghost box and thermal imaging camera onsite. I know we did get a Class A spirit box message in Howard Street cemetery, but was waiting to see if he would upload it somewhere so that I could send you a link to hear it.

All in all a pretty chilling evening, and once I get all my photos in order, I’ll keep you posted as to our findings!

Basements and attics are notorious for giving people the heebie jeebies – but is there a logical reason for this? Some attribute it to open electrical basement wires and panels giving off higher electromagnetic field (EMF) readings, while others think both the attic and basement are great locations for ghosts to have a place of their own with little disturbance.

Why do you think these spaces provide inspiration for countless scary stories?

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted, but now that the weather in New England is warming up, I’ll be visiting Gallow’s Hill in Salem next week (where the witch hangings took place), so stay tuned!

I had been eager to unveil what it is that makes things go bump in the night, but instead of solving this mystery, this home provided more questions than answers.

Following the initial tour, our group of 20 divided up into teams of three and each of us ventured to a different floor of the house. My team was headed up by Keith Glenn, who had several years of experience conducting paranormal investigations. Keith had been to The Victorian a number of times so he knew what to expect.

Without any sophisticated ghost hunting equipment myself, I was equipped with only a smartphone (which I turned off since Keith explained that they can often interact with K-2 meters and other equipment) and a flashlight. Others in my group had voice recorders, a couple of K-2 meters and cameras, including one with thermal imaging capabilities.

Our team started on the second floor, in the nanny’s room just off of the nursery. We stood in the dark and began to ask questions. You know, the typical stuff like “Is anyone here who would like to speak with us? We mean you no harm. . . What is your name? Was this your room?”.

Keith told us at one point he felt as if someone touched the back of his neck, but I didn’t feel much of anything in that room except fear that something would come out of the dark to pay us a visit. It was also difficult to focus since the music from a bar right across the street from the house could be heard as well. I imagine if the space was indeed occupied by a spirit, it would have a hard time getting any rest at night.

We head next door to the nursery and I am immediately on edge, but I take a seat just to the right of the closet door and try and stay cool (which isn’t too difficult a feat since it’s chilly with no heat indoors). We gather in a circle and one gal takes a seat next to me on the floor with her back braced up against the closet door. I think to myself, ‘Wow, she’s brave!  Doesn’t she remember Edwin telling us that supposedly a child got stuck in that closet and possibly died? Oh well, it’s probably just another story to freak people out.’

The nursery - there's the closet door.

The nursery – there’s the closet door.

Our team begins to ask questions to the little blonde-haired boy who is said to make himself known to visitors to his former home, particularly when children are around. One woman who frequently walks past the Gardner house with her son once asked Edwin if he and his wife have kids. When Edwin said no, the woman looked confused, saying that her son often sees a little boy up in the window of the second floor. (Cue creepy music from “The Shining”!)

We have no success getting any activity on the K-2 meters as we encourage the boy to walk toward the meters to make them light up. There’s a toy ball in the room that someone from a past visit brought to the home to get the boy to interact with them, so we ask the child whether he can make the ball roll. Nothing happens, until we hear what sounds like a pebble land in the hallway, as if someone had lightly thrown it outside the door to try and make some sort of connection with us. If indeed it is an entity, it seems too frightened to go any further than outside the closed door to make itself known.

We sit in silence for another 30 seconds or so, waiting for some sort of additional response – and that’s when I hear it: a very light rustling noise coming from the closet! I stiffen in my chair, still thinking I’m just imagining things, when the woman who was leaning against the closet asks us, “Did you guys hear that?” That’s when I about wet my pants. Uh, yeah, I heard it clear as day! It sounded exactly like clothing gently sweeping against skin – a noise you’d never notice otherwise, but in dead silence (no pun intended), it was unmistakable and it was coming from the empty closet.

Just seconds after I confirm that indeed I did hear what she heard, she sprang forward, saying that she felt as if something was pushing on the inside of the closet door. Um, yeah, I think we got whatever it was we were looking for in this space; time to move to the next room.

Over in the Red Room, that space felt very heavy to me. I also felt a bit of nausea, but I equated all of it to knowing the background and history of what exactly happened in this room. Something awful took place here, and I found it sad that countless times before, people had come to this room asking this poor woman to recount her final moments of life over and over again.

Someone had placed a K-2 meter on the bed, and at one point I could have sworn it looked as if the meter was floating approximately ½ an inch off of the bed. No one else mentioned the phenomenon, so I figured that it was just my mind playing tricks on me. After all, I was a rookie when it came to paranormal investigations and this was my very first experience with this sort of thing.

Nothing else unusual took place in The Red Room, but after going through my cell phone pictures that I took during the initial tour, I noticed my picture of that room had a streak of light across it, almost like a lightning bolt, that seemed to be moving from the bed to the area where the dress is displayed on the right. The following day, others posted pictures to the meetup.com site for this event and almost all of them captured an orb that seemed to hang out just above the bed. Interesting.

Also, throughout the evening as we traveled from room to room, the name Russell kept popping into my head. I wondered if there was a reason for this, and days later I tried to see whether there was any history of someone with that name who lived in the home, but turned up nothing.

If anyone happens to know if either a gentleman named Russell who lived in the home I would be interested to hear about it!

After clearing out of The Red Room, one lone woman headed back into the nursery because she forgot her camera on the dresser. Moments later, I hear her say, “Oh wow, the ball just rolled out of the room behind me!” Now, I didn’t see the child’s toy moving on its own, so I cannot confirm or deny that’s what really took place, but having heard the noise coming out of the nursery closet earlier, I was already a believer.

Now it was up to the lodger who perished in the master bedroom to convince me that all of these strange occurrences weren’t just a part of my active imagination. I was very jaded at this point. A part of me was hoping that something would happen so that I could prove to myself I wasn’t crazy, and another part of me was praying that nothing would happen because I was scared enough as it was. Keith encouraged the ghost to make his presence known in some shape or form and knocked on the wall to try and entice whatever was there to answer back with a knock. I thought to myself if something other than my fellow ghost hunters come a-knocking, I’m not going to know what to do with myself. Thankfully, the only noise we heard was the sound of classic rock music emanating from the bar right across the street.

It was time for a break to collect our thoughts, have some pizza and build up some extra courage, because next stop would be the basement. And we all know that basements are notoriously creepy, haunted house or not. Well, this one did not disappoint!

“What basement room do we want to start in?” Keith asked.

In my head I was repeating, ‘Please don’t pick the room where the bone was found’ as if it were a mantra. That room just seemed like a really bad place to be and would bring in something or someone we didn’t particularly care to meet.

Luckily, we selected a room in the right-hand corner of the basement instead. At one time, this part of the house had a tunnel that connected directly with the furniture factory that used to sit right next to it, so S.K. Pierce and his workmen could walk directly from the basement (which I imagine was a warehouse where they kept extra supplies and stock) to the factory.  As you can see in this photo, the tunnel is now filled in with masonry to block it off, but who’s to say that a portal connecting the house and factory doesn’t still remain?

Masonry now blocks off what used to be a tunnel entrance directly to what used to be the furniture factory next door

Masonry now blocks off what used to be a tunnel entrance directly to the furniture factory next door

Either way, the room was rampant with activity. Keith put a Mag-Lite in the center of the room and we all threw out questions to the air, which oddly enough the air seemed to get darker and thicker the longer we sat there. We all agreed that the darkness of the room shifted from bearable, with a teensy bit of night vision still left in it, to utter darkness.

In a few short minutes, when we asked the being to come out and say hello, we heard footsteps coming down the stairs. They resembled what a petite woman with heeled shoes might sound like if they were coming down those steps. The footsteps continued just until they approached the closed door to the right of where I sat. The walking wasn’t rushed, but nonchalant, and with purpose, as if they were going about their business and paying no mind to us at all, then suddenly they were startled by the sound of something in the room with them (i.e. us!). Very unnerving indeed. Strange to have the feeling that you’re frightening a spirit when it’s usually the other way around. The room, while already cold (you could see your breath at this point if you breathed hard enough) seemed to get even more bone-chilling, and at one point I felt like my right cheek (yes, the one nearest to that door) was inside a freezer.

A bit shaken, both physically and mentally, I moved from the chair closest to the door over to the empty chair beside it. A woman sat to my left as well so I felt a bit safer. A bit of time passed as we asked questions and the Mag-Lite Keith had placed in between the on and off position was emitting quite a bit of activity, where the light seemed to turn on for “yes” responses and off for “no” responses when we asked questions. We asked if they knew Edwin, who now owned this home, and the light turned on. I asked if they knew who P.T. Barnum was and the light remained off (so I guess that was a “no”?). We asked whether they could light up the K-2 meter as well and the green light on the K-2 flickered one or two spaces above its normal range. Minutes ticked by in the dark and again we heard what sounded like a pebble land in the hallway outside of the room, just like we’d heard upstairs in the nursery.

Whatever was there, I began to feel a bit more comfortable. It seemed almost playful now, and eager to interact with us. I leaned back in my chair, a bit less worried about what was around. I had the impression it might be a child.

I suddenly felt pressure on the chair, like something didn’t want me getting too comfortable in this space and was pushing on the chair’s center backing. Immediately startled, I jumped, giving everyone else in the room a good scare, too. I shifted forward in the chair after that, not letting myself get too cozy.

We remained in that room for most of our basement investigation, since it seemed to yield plenty of interaction, and then it was on up to the third floor.

I was surprised at how much time was allotted for this event, as it was already pushing well past midnight at this point.

We allotted most of our time in Lillian’s office area and the Billiard Room, which yielded lots of flashlight activity but not much else.

I later conducted an at-home experiment using a Mag-Lite set between the on and off position and set it on the table without touching it to see whether it would flicker on and off on its own without my asking it any questions. Indeed, after a few minutes, the flashlight flickered to life, seemingly all by itself, ghosts around or not, so I remain pretty skeptical about the flashlight being a direct communication tool with the deceased.

What has stuck with me weeks later is the rustling in the nursery and the unexplained footsteps – I still don’t know how to explain those away. Strangely enough, I found comfort not knowing how to explain it away – comfort in the realization that there is something out there just beyond our reach. Something that one day, we might experience for ourselves.

If anyone has additional stories about this curious place, I’d love to learn more. Feel free to write your comments below.

I have always been entertained by a good ghost story, but I’ve never had a personal experience or an encounter with ghostly presence — or if I did, I wasn’t aware of it.

All of that changed this month, when I participated in my first paranormal investigation at The Victorian in Gardner, Massachusetts with the Footsteps Paranormal Group. Having never been to this cozy little neck of the woods, I made the evening drive to the town where, for more than a century, it has been known as the “furniture capital of the New England.”

Being unfamiliar with the area and not certain as to whether I would recognize the home on West Broadway Street, I suddenly looked to my right and was swept away by the grand site of the triple-decker mansion. There was no mistaking that this was indeed the house. If an individual were asked to draw a picture of their idea of a quintessential “haunted house,” their drawing and this house would match up perfectly, from the entrance door at the bottom to the widow’s walk at the top. The curb appeal alone was impressive. Now I was getting excited!

I made my way through the massive side door (cue creaking noises) and joined the group of 20 members with varying levels of ghost-hunting experience who were a part of the same mission. We were welcomed by The Victorian’s owner, Edwin Gonzalez, who provided an extensive tour of the 26 rooms within the house, as well as a narration of the unexpected guests who have sprung up since he and his wife bought the place in the spring of 2009.

Edwin looked familiar to me. He later told me that he appeared on the television show “My Ghost Story” on Biography. The home was also featured on the SyFy program “Ghost Hunters” several months ago as well, which Edwin said seemed to bring in more paranormal activity than ever before. The strange occurrences are the reason why Edwin and his wife, Lillian, don’t currently call The Victorian “home.” And while Edwin says Lillian is eager to return, he’s just not ready and would like to first have the house blessed to see if that will help curb the overwhelming amount of activity in the house.

Because no one currently lives in the house, Edwin and Lillian shut off the electricity, so each floor was lit only by candlelight and the flashlights that our team of investigators brought along, making the scene all the more authentic, but hard to detect “cold spots” since the home lacked heat. The temperature late that night dropped to a cool 27 degrees!

Edwin kicked off the tour on the first floor, regaling us with first-hand accounts of hearing cups flying off the shelves and two plant holders lifting up into midair and almost skipping off the ground, seemingly all by themselves. No confirmation as to who the powerful spirit might be on the first floor of the home.

Dishes sit perfectly on the shelves -- for the time being

Dishes sit perfectly on the shelves — for the time being

We took the grand staircase to the second floor, where Edwin showed us what used to be the nanny’s room (known as “Mattie,” but more on her in Part II of my blog), followed just off of the nanny’s bedroom. Edwin told us it was rumored that a child had gotten stuck inside the closet within the nursery and possibly perished (more on that in Part II as well).

Departing the nursery, Edwin introduced us to what is fittingly called “The Red Room” (red wallpaper and a red bedspread), a space that belonged to a lady of the night in the days when the house served as a brothel in the early 1900s. Edwin requested that we please not sit or lay on the bed in this room, as some folks have ended up with scratches on their back from an unknown force – not terribly hard to comprehend when we learned that a prostitute had been strangled to death in this very room!

Further down the hall, Edwin shows us what used to be the master bedroom where he and Lillian used to sleep (on nights when there were no phantom knocks on the door, footsteps or voices whispering throughout the night). I feel frightened in this area and unwelcome, as if I’m peering in on an area marked, “No Trespassing.” The master bedroom once was the room of a Portuguese worker named Jay Stemmerman, who boarded there in the 1960s. Never one to pass up a smoke and a nightcap, it is said that poor Mr. Stemmerman was indulging in both in his room when he “spontaneously combusted.” Edwin tells us the fire didn’t spread to any other area of the home and burned out immediately after Stemmerman met his demise, leading to the “spontaneous combustion” theory. I don’t know about that, but perhaps there’s an EVP out there where the lodger reveals what really happened. As it is now, there was an EVP captured of Stemmerman whispering “porteu” to visitors in the home (which translates in Portuguese to “to you,” and is used as a toast before imbibing).

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Upon leaving the room, someone said that the master bedroom did indeed smell like a “campfire.” The rest of us couldn’t smell it, though. Either way, I was ready to move on to the next room.

Just like something out of the game “Clue,” we head upstairs to Edwin’s favorite room in the house – the Billiard Room. He tells us he’s always felt comfortable and very much at ease in this space, which used to be the site where the former homeowner, S.K. Pierce, entertained the likes of President Calvin Coolidge, circus wonder P.T. Barnum and Americana artist Norman Rockwell.

You might recognize the Pierce name, as it is stamped on many high-quality chairs built in the late 1800s and that is how Pierce made his millions. Pierce built the home in 1865 and the home was a stopping point for high society on their way to New York or New Hampshire.

Across the hall, in Lillian’s former office space, a nurturing spirit that Edwin believes to be a female occasionally pays his wife a visit (perhaps Mattie drops by this area as well?).

We backtrack to the servants’ quarters on the third floor, where it is said that 23 servants all dwelled in a single space. From past investigations, this area is said to have gotten lots of paranormal activity from unhappy spirits and Edwin says he would avoid going up to the third floor for this very reason. As if on cue when Edwin opens up a storage closet in this room, his Mag-Lite begins flashing on and off for no apparent reason. Creepy!

Edwin concludes the tour of the third floor and says we are welcome to wander up to the Widow’s Walk, and he’ll meet us down in the basement, an area of the home that makes him even more uncomfortable.

The Widow’s Walk proves even scarier, so I only stay there long enough to get a 360 degree view of Gardner all lit up at night. I make sure I have two others with me, since I surely wouldn’t be brave enough to head up here on my own in the dark. I head back down to Edwin’s least favorite area of the house: the basement. Edwin has good reason to be frightened in this area: his wife rose early one morning and headed downstairs. Hours later, he went to see what she was up to and found her down in the basement digging for something in the kiln. When he inquired as to what she was doing, she said she wasn’t sure, then suddenly snapped at him to let her continue her work. Later that day, Edwin was disturbed when his wife showed him her kiln discovery: it looked as if she’d found a child-sized pelvic bone!

Strange photos of the goings on in the home, from faces in mist, to massive blue orbs and the bone Lillian found in the basement's kiln.

Strange photos of the goings on in the home, from faces in mist, to massive blue orbs and the bone Lillian found in the basement’s kiln.

Edwin had an appointment scheduled the following day with his doctor, and brought pictures of the bone to inquire about what they might be. The doctor confirmed that indeed the bone did look human. The mystery bone has since disappeared – TAPS investigators from the “Ghost Hunters” show took it from the home and supposedly sent it to a New York lab for investigation. If you watched the show, they tell Edwin and Lillian that the bone was decidedly not a human one, and it would make sense to find an animal bone in a stove from the late 1800s.

The Victorian, being ahead of its time in innovation, had a cistern that, when it rained heavily, would help provide the sinks above with water. Upon inspecting the cistern area, I noticed a significant change in temperature – but instead of cold, the space radiated heat. Every time I tried to take a picture of inside the cistern, however, my cell phone camera on two attempts made a sparking noise, similar to static electricity on clothing. Both photos turned out completely blurry as if something there did not want me to make it a Kodak moment. My cell phone battery was quickly drained in the cistern area as well. Just odd basement quirks? Perhaps. But I had never seen that episode of “Ghost Hunters” until last night, and upon viewing it, I was disturbed to see that their K-2 meter was going crazy in that exact same spot and when they inquired about a fire, the K-2 meter again was off the charts. Strange and oddly coincidental that I made the same discovery on my own with no prior knowledge of activity inside the cistern.

Initially during the tour, I felt almost comforted in the basement area, and even drawn to it for some reason, even thinking about the basement weeks later wondering what it was that was beckoning me downstairs.

The investigation seemed to only provide more questions than answers. Stay tuned for “Part II: Paranormal Investigation of The Victorian” in the next segment of my blog, and I’ll fill you in on our team’s discoveries!

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