Monday, August 30, 2010

Book Release Party Give Aways: Smoking Monkeys, Cash, Jewelry, and Books! Enter and Win!

My book is now  available on!  Click on the icon next to this post to check it out.  In order to celebrate my big day,  I am doing a massive give away.  I will be doing different things all week.  My first give-away will be big.   I am giving away $75 cash.   Just to make it fun,  I am going to turn this into a treasure hunt.  I will give a way four items today.   One collection of Lovecraft short stories,  one smoking monkey,  and two necklaces shown below.  In order to enter to win the money and the items you must do the following:

1.  Tweet or make a post on Facebook about this giveaway with a link back here to help me spread the word about the giveaway.

2.  Comment below saying you have tweeted or facebooked about the giveaway and you want to enter the contest.  (If you don't tweet or facebook, just let me know how you spread the word)

3.  In your comment, say which item you would like.

4.  One item will be stuffed with money and three will not.  I will draw 4 winners from the commenters below.  Although all winners will get their desired object,  only one will get the money!  If you get the money,  you are the grand prize winner.  I will have someone else stuff the object with the money so even I won't know who the winner is until you comment back and let me know. 

Good luck!  Here are the Prizes!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Holy Smoking Monkies I Am Excited! I Have to Give Stuff Away to Celebrate!

When I started blogging last December,   I was just happy to think that someone out there would be reading my stories.  I wasn't overly ambitious about the blog.   I was just happy to have a few people reading my writing.  I never once imagined  someone would like it enough to ask me to write a book.  However,  this is exactly what happened in February of this year.   An editor of the history press asked me to write a Haunted America book for him.  I was, of course, thrilled.  I really had no idea what I was in for, however.  I write fiction.   Nonfiction is an entirely different beast.  I drove all over the state.  I chased people around and struggled to get interviews.   I spent late nights up researching supposed haunted locations to find out if  the stories behind them were true.   Sometimes,  the stories were just legends, which actually just made them more interesting.    It was a journey and I learned more about Alabama history in the 4 months it took me to write this little book than in the fifteen years I'd lived here.

And now here it is.  The book that this blog made is now available for preorder on amazon.  I am dizzy with excitement.   I'm putting together a party and a give away to celebrate.  Keep your eye on this blog!  Over the next week I'll be giving away over $200 in cash and prizes to celebrate my book!   I really am thrilled. 
My blog book is now available for preorder!!!!!!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Eulogy

I spent my morning at a funeral today. I've been to many funerals over the last few years.  I gave the eulogy at this one.   In honor of my grandmother, who was a fantastically difficult woman but who never failed to inspire me,  here is her eulogy. She is the little girl in the picture above.  The house behind her was her family home The Newton-Allaire house.  I know her ghost has gone home to the house she loves now.

My grandma Kay, Kathleen Allaire,  was a woman with a personality that was larger than life. Whether you loved her or hated her, she always made an impression and nobody ever forgot her. Even those who met her only in passing were marked by her strength of will and her passion, even up until the end.

As a child, my best memories of my grandmother were in her spectacular house. The Newton-Allaire house has been in her family for 140 years and she spent her life renovating it and turning it into a proper Victorian mansion. To me, she seemed like a dowager empress in the old house. We would drive for hours to reach her in the very North of Michigan and there we would find her waiting in her mansion amongst the old trees. I loved the summers I spent up there with her in her house with all of my family around me. They are some of my fondest childhood memories. During these visits, I would go up and visit my grandmother in her room and she would always give me candy and tell me stories. She talked about her days as a teacher or her days as an actress. We shared our passion for ghost stories and history. While I was up there, I went through her large library of ghost stories and horror stories. She nurtured a love for all things haunted and old and beautiful in me, which I still have today.

Even in her last days, when I visited her in Harbor Chase Assisted Living or in the nursing home, she would always share stories with me. On one of my last visits to see her, she talked about her childhood in Detroit when Detroit was beautiful and grand. She told me about how she convinced her mother to let her take the street car to the old opera house to see shows. Her mother let her go only if she was with her older sister, Miriam. Together they would ride the street car as often as my Auntie Mimmie would take her and my grandmother fell in love with the theater. It is not surprising that she loved to act and that performing was one of her great passions in life. To me, she always seemed like she was on stage. I will miss her. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Sad Beauty of Lough Feeagh

I love stories that mix folklore and ghosts.   This story is from Ireland and it blends classic Irish folklore with a ghost story, making it delicious.  It is the story of  a beautiful young woman who lived near Mallarny Strand who was a wild flirt.  Not only was she a wild flirt and a heavy drinker, but she had a wicked reputation for using her beauty and sexuality to con men out of her money.  Her name was Reenie and she was high spirited and utterly seductive.

Young Reenie was living high on her whiles for a long time until she met a man named Rony.  Rony was not a very attractive man and in fact he was quite funny looking.  He looked as much like a horse as a man.   Reenie became quite enamored of Rony and he used her body and her money quite liberally.  That was until one day a gypsy woman saw the couple in the street and cried out, "Holy Saint Anna-fer God, Reenie, where did ye pick up like ave him?  He's a pooka."

A pooka is a creature who is fairy kind.  They are a fearful kind of creature that can change and bend shapes at will.  They are mischievous and delight in the mayhem they cause.  The most famous pook was Puck from a Midsummer's Night Dream.

After that,  Reenie and Rony separated.  It wasn't long after this that Reenie found herself with child.  Reenie seemed to believe that Rony was a pooka who had enchanted her and she became desolate and terrified.  She didn't want to bare a pooka child.   So Reenie went to the shore of Lough Feeagh at dawn and walked out into the icy water.  She walked and walked until she was submerged.  With the light of dawn,  Reenie's beautiful body could be entangled in the reeds of the still water.

Whether or not Reenie was really pregnant with a pooka aside, there are those that believe her ghost still wanders the shores of Lough Feeagh. Since that time it is said that the ghost of Reenie McCosky returns every year at the anniversary of her death.   She walks back into the icy water and drowns herself.  Others say that her ghost can be found there at other times and that she sometimes slaps those that wander to close to her on the cheek.

taken from a story by James Reynolds

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Ghost and Her Horse

Over a hundred years ago, in the rolling hills of Kentucky, there lived a famed horsewoman who was the daughter of Randolph Corbett a famous breeder.  Her family was know for breeding the finest thoroughbred race horses in the world.  Her life began like a storybook tale of love and success.  Mary was beautiful and rich and popular.  Everyone loved her.   She married a wealthy judge named Wheedon and together they continued building on her father's equine empire  She had a beautiful son named Randolph.   She raised him well and he won a scholarship to the University of Virginia.

Sadly,  even storybook tales can end in tragedy and Mary Wheedon was destined for great tragedy.  After her son left home,  he showed terrible judgement in all manners financial.  He invested in one con artist's scheme after another, bleeding Mary dry and destroying his family fortune.  She tried to keep her son's problem's secret from her husband, Judge Wheedon, but when her beloved baby boy shot himself,  all of his bad decisions came to the surface.  It wasn't  long after her son died that the stock market crashed reducing Judge Wheedon's fortune to nothing.   They say the stress was too much on the Judge's heart and he died a few days later.  Mary was destitute.   She had nothing left.  The sudden, accumulation of horror was too much for Mary.   After this, she vanished from society.   She vanished and  left everything behind but her favorite horse.

Mary's favorite horse was named Hussar's Gold and he was, in fact, the fastest race horse alive, so even after she vanished there were those that sought her out and looked for her horse.  It was twelve years before Mary was seen again.  Two lost travelers came upon her.  She found them wandering the woods by Lexington.  She walked side by side with an enormous  gold stallion.   Her horse and she guided the two lost travellers to Lexington.  Others sought Mary out after this.  They tried to convince her to sell her horse and buy back her life.  But Mary wouldn't hear it.  People who saw her said she spoke to the horse like a friend and they wandered the woods together like they were family.

Time past and it can be assumed Mary and her beautiful stallion died in the shadowy woods of old Kentucky.   However,  children and adults as well still tell stories of meeting a ghostly woman and her horse in the old woods near Covington.  Mary and her horse linger there as they did in life.  Those who see her say that Mary still talks to her horse and that he nods his head in understanding.

Story taken from James Reynold's Ghosts in American Houses, which was among my grandmother's ghost story collection.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Guest Blogger Camiel White Tells Her Story of Supernatural Intimacy

It’s not very often that put much stock into the validity of cinematic fiction. It’s sheer entertainment, which on a deeper level at least makes you think about your own spot in the universe. However, I never really took anything seriously unless it was geared as something of historic relevance. But there was a horror film of sorts that I saw when I was about 13 that, as of late, has proven to be quite true to life.

The Entity is a film shot in the early 80s that is said to be based on true events. A woman is haunted by the spirit of her dead husband in their home. I only mention it to set up some context. Becausethe spirit is that of the woman’s husband, it follows that there is a certain level of intimacy and care with which the “entity” interacts with his wife. As a result, there are some pretty disturbingly fantastic scenes in which the husband’s spirit is caressing his wife, even going so far as to make love to his wife -freaky, I know. But what if something like that were actually plausible? I mean, the film isn’t exactly Oscar worthy; however, it does raise a good question. How intimate can spirits get with their hosts?

Well, I’m here to tell you, quite intimate indeed.

Sporadically throughout the past month, there’s been a presence in my bedroom. I’m not going to say that I’m being haunted. Quite frankly, I don’t know what to think. So, more than anything I’m enlisting the help of some of the readers out there, at least a little bit of affirmation that I’m not, in fact, losing my mind all together. What happens is I’ll be sleeping and drifting between sleep and dream a( ) a story that I’ve already told. Then there’s a surge of energy --what I can best describe as a sound like an electrical failure, then the feeling of a presence on top of me. Yes, folks...on top of me.

It only gets worse from here.

I’m unable to move, as if I’m pinned down (gently) to the bed. Then something rather unexpected happens. I feel as though this “something” has wrapped itself around me and began to push itself on me, softly caressing my back. I don’t want to get into the gratuitous details, but it is something that’s rather...I don’t want to say frightening, but certainly discomforting. It leads to me wonder if there’s such a thing as travelling entities. I’m no expert; I never would claim to be. So, I wouldn’t know if what I’m experiencing is just the result of lilting between consciousness and the mutterings of dreamspace. Is anyone else aware of any physical contact with misplaced energy? It seems to me that no matter where I am, I come in contact with some sort of something that just seems to want to get close. What are the boundaries of intimacy between us and those things that we can’t describe? It’s a mystery to me. A mystery that I need a bit of help solving, or at the very least, understanding.

Article writer by day, renegade poet by night, Camiele White loves any and everything film. She chases only the original (or incredibly funny) and has been known to talk for hours about subjects that most people just don’t care about. Right now, she gets her jabberjaw jollies writing about Halloween costumes. If you want to give her a buzz, she can be reached at cmlewhite at You can also find her at

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Robert, The Cursed Doll

My recent post about the evil doll, Annabelle got me thinking about dolls.  It seems I am not the only one who is afraid of dolls and it also seems like there is a good reason.   The association between dolls or poppets and witchcraft and evil goes back as long as there have been dolls.  During the Salem witch trials,  mere possession of one of these diabolical items was enough to earn you the title of witch.  Dolls, throughout history, have been used in magic as symbolic ties to real people or supernatural entities.   It is not surprising that books are filled with stories of cursed and evil dolls.

The most famous and diabolical of the cursed dolls is a doll named Robert.  Robert was a gift to a young boy named Gene Otto.  The doll was made of straw and was given to him by a maid.  If the legend is true,  the maid was angry at the Gene's family for dismissing her and the doll was actually a voodoo doll designed specifically to hurt Gene and is family.  After the doll was given to Gene,  the family began to notice that Gene had an unnatural attachment to the doll.  Gene took it everywhere with him and spent many hours in his room alone conversing with the doll.   Witnesses say that when they listened in on Gene they heard two voices speaking when Gene was alone in the room with his doll.

Time past and Robert's malevolence grew.   Witnesses began to report seeing the doll moving from window to window.   The Otto's claimed that they saw the doll move and heard him giggle.   Often things in the house would turn up broken and when the Otto's confronted Gene about the incidences he would say, "Robert did it."  Gene began having nightmares.  One night the parents ran into his room and found Gene screaming.   All of the furniture was overturned and Robert was standing over Gene.  The doll collapsed when the Ottos walked in.

Time didn't seem to tarnish Gene's attachment to the doll and even as an adult he kept the doll with him.   Gene remained in his family home with his doll after his parents died.  Gene got married and Robert became a source of difficulties in the marriage and it ended.  Finally,  Gene tried to lock the doll in the attic, which is where Robert was found after Gene's death.  Today, Robert lives in a Key West museum where he is reported to have continued his wicked works.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bits of Wreckage

My grandmother used to love ghost stories.  Her passion wasn't in vogue at the time, but she still loved them.  She loved haunted houses and all things old and drenched with history and mystery.  Ghost stories were perfect for her.   When I was going through some of her old things last week,  I stumbled upon her collection of old ghost stories.  She had many volumes and the stories in these old book seem to have a different texture to them than the modern incarnation of the same tales.

This is a story I found in a book that was given to my grandmother by grandfather in 1965.  The story is called Buried in crystal and it is about the haunting of California Street in San Francisco.  According to this story,  there was once a young heiress named Flora Sommerton who was wild and headstrong.   Her parents planned her marriage to a man she didn't favor.  They planned on announcing at her engagement party.   Her mother had ordered an elaborate gown that dripped with crystals for the occasion.

Flora had no intention of marrying and she ran away.  She took some money with her and all her jewelry.  She also took the crystal gown.  In her letter,  she told her parents that she would never marry and that she planned on making her living as a singer.   Unfortunately, as with many such youthful dreams, this proved to be unrealistic.  Flora's parents looked for her tirelessly for many years and every once in a while they would catch a trace of her.  They found an opera house where she worked cleaning.  They found a boarding house where she stayed.  Time passed and Flora's father died never knowing where she was.  Flora's mother grew old and died as well.

In 1926, Flora was found and the missing person case was finally closed.   A woman calling herself Mrs. Butler and working as a housekeeper died alone in her room.   The woman's body was in a most elaborate crystal gown designed by a Paris dressmaker.   The dress served as evidence of her true identity as it was a  one of kind.   According to legend,  The ghost of Flora Summerton still wanders California Street trying to find her way home.   She walks the street at night in her crystal gown forever regretting her decision to leave her home.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

When Haunted Isn't Haunted: Guest Blogger Nathan Explores the Importance of Skepticism in Ghost Hunting and Travel

Statistics just can’t be wrong - little over 1% of haunted places is really haunted. So I’m reading all these ghost stories and articles about haunted places and I wonder - is it really a legitimate haunting, or just yet another urban legend. As paranormal investigator, even if I’m young, I got my experience, and I’ve learned to be very sceptical about any haunting.

People often hear story about haunted house in their neighborhood and they plan to visit it - their very first step in ghost hunting. So they go in, take some photos, experience a lot of stuff, go out and they tell the world that this place is so haunted! But my experiences tells me that it’s not :). Mist on photos is not a ghost, it’s just a mist. The noises were caused by rats and homeless cat. Movement of objects was just mind trick your brain cause due to sensor deprivation.

Most people who start investigating the paranormal don’t consider natural and logical causes of events. Everything seems to be a legitimate paranormal activity. While beginners see ghosts everywhere, experienced investigator see broken pipes, problems with electricity, old wood making noises, rats and other vermin, cats and animals, or simple psychological elements - hallucinations (did you know that some types of wall paint might cause hallucination that looks like ghosts?).

Finding a legitimate haunted place is difficult. Most of such places are only subjects to rumours, gossips and urban legends, nothing more. Some rumours are being spread by homeless, or by owners who want to become centre of attention. A lot of rumours is being spread by inexperienced ghost hunters. And what’s more - other ghost-hunter-wannabe don’t even try to confirm or deny the rumours - they just believe in them, repeating what others have said or what’s worse - wrote in their books.

But the job of real investigator is to investigate - and to find the truth. If you say “this place is haunted” only because someone told you it is, or someone wrote it, then I got a problem with calling you investigator. Belief is not investigation.
I strongly encourage every beginner to investigate for real. Don’t rely on articles you read on blogs, read respected magazines and scientific journals, and books of respected paranormal investigators. Finally, when you hear the story of haunted place - investigate with open, yet skeptical mind - always look for logical and natural causes first, search for ghosts later.
Nathan is psychic and paranormal investigator. Be sure to check out his e-book teaching "How to Develop Psychic Abilities".  You can find out more about Nathan and his book at

Sunday, August 15, 2010

This is a Strange Blog and You are Strange too!

Courtney Mroch, who has the brilliant and beautiful blog Haunt Jaunts, stopped by the other day and left a comment on one of my posts letting me know she had an award for me.  She gave me the “Strange Men in Pinstripe Suits” award.  This means I am strange.  I've really always known that I'm strange, but I am proud that my strangeness came with an award.  Usually it only comes with strange glances and a step backwards.

The ‘Strange Men in Pinstripe Suits’ award is given to only the strangest of folk, and as the recipient of such you are deemed very strange indeed. Congratulations. I honor those that are strange as they have always been my favorite people, so if I am passing this award on to you,  you are one of my favorites.  You are my favorites among the many strange people I follow.

Of course, to accept this award you must do many strange things, because this is more than an award.
This is how Cate Gardner is celebrating the pre-release of her book, Strange Men in Pinstripe Suits, and
The “award” also qualifies you for a contest with neat prizes Cate is giving away.
So now it’s my turn to pass it on.
Now you must go forth and celebrate the strangeness of friends (and strangers – strangers are always allowed) by nominating blogs run by strange folk. *Beware, some people don’t like you to refer to them as strange…Try to avoid them if possible.  Of course,  I think that people not wanting to be called strange are strange so I may have violated this rule and I apologize if I have.  

Some rules:

1. Add the logo of the award to your blog post.

2. Add a link to the person who awarded it to you (don’t mess with strange people).

3. Nominate seven other blogs telling us why you think the recipient is strange enough to deserve the award.

4. Leave a message for those nominated on their blogs.

5. And, if you email catephoenix(at)gmail(dot)com and tell her you’ve received the award for your strangeness, she’ll enter you in the biggest kick-ass Strange Men competition ever. Details over at strangemeninpinstripesuits

So the award goes to:

1.  The Time Human:   I love this blog about everything in science that I miss.  I think knowing this much about science makes him a little odd,  so he gets the award!

2.  Paws and Reflect:   This is one of my favorite blogs!  I love reading it every day and must say it is a little odd because it is the only blog I've found that mixes recipes, science, current events, and cartoons together so that you'll never really know what to expect out of this wonderful blog.

3.  Beyond Pale Mother:   This lovely blogger writes about her life and thoughts in general and she has a nearly encyclopedic knowledge of all things paranormal.  Almost every post I make,  she adds to and gives me more information about.   This is wonderful,  but a little odd.

4.  Labrynthian Creations:   This artist and blogger fills her blog with some of the most unique and strange art I've ever seen.  I've been so moved by her work I've even bough some of it at the etsy shop.

5.  The Shadow Farm:  This is another artist and blogger that adds to the world of the bizarre with beautiful and unique art that I love looking at.

6.  Magikal Seasons:   I am showing my passion for Halloween art here, but I really love Halloween artists and Magikal Seasons is definitely one of my favorites.   I love her happy little pumpkins and haunted trees and they are definitely unique and strange.

7. Histories, Mysteries, and Strangeness:  Do I really need to say any more about why I chose this blog?  It's all in the title isn't it? 

Thank you all for being strange and making my life that much more interesting by doing so!  I love all of your blogs!   Also,  thank you Courtney for appreciating my oddity.   Please visit Courtney at to explore her strangeness!

The Demon Doll

I have fallen behind on my blogging this week and my last post was a pitiful summation of bizarre events  that occured while I was staying in my old family house.  My computer stopped working so I had to post from my iphone.  My pictures were blurred and everything went haywire.  My grandmother died yesterday before we made it back to see her and the only thing that's gone really well this week is my reading, which has gone at breakneck speed.   In the spirit of my flight of fancy,  I will tell a story I found in my favorite new book, There's Something Under the Bed.

Dolls scare the hell out of me so this story gave me nightmares.  This is the story of an over sized Raggedy Ann doll named Annabelle.   Annabelle was a gift given to a young nurse named Donna by her mother.   It wasn't long after Annabelle was given to Donna that Donna began to notice Annabelle moved about the apartment on her own.  Donna and her roommate, Angie, began to notice that they would leave for work and when they came home the doll would be laying on the bed in a different position.   The women started arranging the doll purposely in one position and they would find it with its arms crossed or legs moved.  This went on for some time and after a while the doll became more active.  It would change rooms.   Once, they even found the doll kneeling.  This is a position that is impossible for a raggedy anne doll on its own.

Over time the doll began to leave messages.  The messages were left in pencil on parchment paper.   The women had never owned parchment paper so its origin was as mysterious as the messages themselves.  The notes usually said "help us" or  "help lou".  The women began rigging the apartment to check for intruders.   They thought that maybe someone was tricking them, but there was no evidence of break ins.    One night they came home to find blood on the doll's hand.

Finally, the women contacted a medium to talk to the doll.  The doll said that she was a little girl who had died on the property who was lonely.  After this, the women contacted paranormal experts Ed and Lorraine Warren.  The Warrens believed the story about the little girl was trickery to gain sympathy and that Annabelle was really possessed by a demon.  This belief was confirmed when Angie's boyfriend was attacked physically by some unseen spirit in the apartment.  The attack left a series of deep marks on Lou's chest.

After this,  a priest was called in to do an exorcism.  The exorcism seemed to work and the Warren's offered to take Annabelle home with them.   On the way home,   Annabelle caused the car to veer off the road almost killing the Warrens.  The Warrens dosed the doll in Holly Water and the activity stopped for a time.  Soon after,  Annabelle began to be active in the Warrens' home and they had to move her to their Occult Museum in Monroe, Connecticut.  They keep a website that documents their experiences with Annabelle at  The doll has remained active since its placement in the museum and is even thought to be responsible for some deaths since that time.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

EVP Pajama Party

It has been a long week here in the house that inspired my interest in ghosts. The Northern Lights were visible over the lake when I came and as I leave the matriarch of this Victorian mansion I am staying in lays dying a thousand miles away. We are leaving on Friday the 13th.

Over the last week the house has become more active. My sister and I have sat up over many late nights doing EVP sessions in the dark in our pj's. I love ghost hunting in pj's. Maybe I like everything more in pj's.
The first night was terribly uneventful. Quiet and nothing. The second night I picked up a soliary hello whispered in the red parlor. I am getting my pjs on for the final pj evp party.

Yesterday, there were many odd experiences in the house. I placed a hat over one of the old bedroom water spigets as a trigger object. The hat moved to the bed. I moved it back and my sister found it in the hall. While
curled up in my favorite reading chair, I heard another faint whispered hello. The house is definately stirring. I hope we get more on the EVP tonight.

Tomorrow, we go to see my grandmother before she passes. I know she'll come back here after and her family will be waiting.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Book Review: There's Something Under the Bed!

While I’ve been hidden away in the quiet of Northern Michigan in the sheltering arms of my beautiful family home, I’ve had plenty of free time to catch up on my reading. One of the first books I read while I was here was There’s Something under the Bed by Ursula Bielski. This book was a very pleasant surprise. I find many paranormal books to be very difficult to read. They may have interesting information and their writer’s may be well informed, but the writing is often stiff and bland and I have to shuffle my way through them.

Ursula Bielski’s book is nothing like this. She is a very good writer and the history of dirt can be interesting in the hands of a good enough writer. Ms. Bielski’s subject matter is very interesting too, making this book dangerously interesting. I’ve seen several books published recently on children and the paranormal and how to deal with children who see ghosts or have paranormal experiences. This is by far the most interesting of the group. Ms. Bielski starts with old folklore and the deep roots our child rearing practices have in folklore and superstition. She explains children’s fears and discusses the history of popular magical creatures we encourage our children to believe in such as the sandman, Santa Claus, and the tooth fairy. She then branches off and tells numerous interesting case studies of children who’ve been involved in the paranormal in one way or another.

My favorite and the most horrifying chapter in this book is the one on toys. Ms. Bielski tells numerous true stories of demonic dolls and wicked Ouija boards. I will never have another doll or Ouija board after reading this book. One of the creepiest stories is the story of three girls at a slumber party playing with the Ouija board. The board brings all kinds of wickedness that the girls are never able to dispel. I also really enjoyed the chapter on children who see angels and saints.

This book was so good that since we’ve gotten here three other people have read it.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Restless Nights in the Victorian Mansion

I am home now.  I am sitting in a quiet room in the Newton-Allaire house.  The house is a beautiful as ever.  It has been sitting empty for fours years now and the ghosts here are quiet.   The last time I was here my grandmother still lived here and the ghosts were loud and and robust, but years of silence seems to have lulled them into a deep sleep.   I don't feel them here like I used to.  They are a whisper hidden in quiet corners.   The ghosts were always most active here at night, making sleep challenging.  That seems to continue and the house still groans, reminding me of nights when I sat up searching for the source of strange footsteps and phantom whispers.

As I've explored the old house,  I've found bits of my history and ancestry.   The stories of the ghosts that have always lived here with us have come to light.  The house was built in 1871 by Archibald P. Newton who in 1876 was elected first president of the village of Cheboygan.  He built the stately house, with its cupalo top as a wedding gift to his bride Cornelia Allaire, who was his second wife.  We call Cornelia Allaire Aunt Newton.   Mr. Newton came to Cheboygan from St. Helena Island where he and a brother Carl in 1853 bought the island and where they built a good dock and large store.  In Cheboygan, he entered into business of processing hemlock for the sap which was an essential in tanning leather.  Mr. Newton loved to stand in his glassed in cupola atop his mansion and look out at the boats in the straights.  So do I.

Aunt Newton survived her husband after his death.  She died in 1916 leaving her entire estate to her only brother, Joseph Allaire who lived on a nearby farm.   Joseph Allaire was my grandmother's grandfather.  The house passed on to their children Charles and Bert Allaire in 1934 when Joseph Allaire died.  Subsequently the house was inherited by Bert Allaire's widow Irene Allaire.  She was my great-grandmother who we all called Nonnie.   The house is now in the hands of my mother and her 2 cousins and sister. 

I hope it will stay with us and it well re-awake into the living, breathing house I remember it to be when I was child.  Now it sleeps, but everything that sleeps can be awakened.


Friday, August 6, 2010

The House that Haunts My Dreams: The Newton-Allaire House

If you have followed my blog regularly,  you know my family owns a large Victorian house in Northern Michigan.   This house was my favorite place in the world as a child.  It was the cradle of all my dreams and the inspiration for my first stories.  It whispered to me in my sleep and made me believe that there was more to life than we can see, touch, and taste.  The house's ghosts were old and they followed you throughout the house.   I loved the ghosts in the house as I loved the house.  It bound me to a history I knew little of and made me part of a family that went back for generations.

Over the last few years, the surviving members of my family have tried desperately to sell and get rid of this haunted piece of our family history.   This week,  I'm going up to make one final plea to keep it.  My mother and I and our families will take a long drive up North.  It is a thousand miles for us and we will see if there is any hope left.  

My dream is that we could rent the house out.  It is a few blocks from the beach and one block to the bookstore and movie theater.  It is a twenty minute drive to Mackinac City and Mackinac Island.   It has 8 bedrooms and is filled with ghosts and histories.  It seems like it would be a good vacation rental and then we could stay in it during our off weeks.   We will see.  This will be an up hill battle.   Either way,  on Monday I'll post pictures of the old house and use a few of the ghost hunting skills I learned last Friday to see if I can talk to some of the ghosts in the house.  I'm hopeful.  The ghosts talked to me when I didn't want them to as a little girl.  I'm pretty sure they should be even more talkative now that I do want them to talk.

I may not blog again until I get there.   I can't wait.  The painting above is one of the many paintings I did of the house.  Even if we sell it,   the house will always be part of me.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Southern Farmhouse Haunting

Last Christmas, when I started blogging about ghost stories,   I had been inspired by the extraordinary wealth of folklore and ghost stories that the nurses where I work and where my husband work seem to possess.   In rural Alabama,  these stories are as thick as the humidity.    I would sit and listen to the nurses and other country staff tell their stories and I thought that someone had to write these stories down.   My husband brought back stories for me from the hospital he works in, which is much more rural than the one I work in.  Yesterday,  another nurse brought me another story.  Of course,  I'm pleased as punch.   She even had pictures with her!

This nurse is young and lives in a farmhouse way out in the country.  Her farmhouse is over one hundred years old and those that have lived there have kept up with it by rebuilding it and fixing it up with modern amenities as time has past. Originally the house was a log cabin and beneath the brick and modern additions,  the old logs still stand strong.  The old farmhouse has a layered effect that tells the story of the many generations that have lived there.  Within these layers,  are ghost stories.

The nurse says that she isn't convinced her house is haunted.   She's seen things that aren't right, but it takes more than that to convince her.  Even if it is haunted, she feels that whatever is in the house is harmless.   She isn't afraid.  Her husband, on the other hand, is unnerved by the presence.   He feels as if something is always watching him.   He feels like he is never alone and  he has suggested they leave because of this.

The story that is told with the house is brilliant.   Over a century ago,   when the country was still new,   a Native American broke into the farmhouse looking for food and money.   The owner at the time was prepared for this type of event and cut the intruders head off with an axe.    The intruder's head rolled down the stairs.    According to the legend,   you can still hear the head rolling down the stairs and it is this Native American's ghost that still haunts this farmhouse.   The nurse's father says this is all made up nonsense, but even if it is, there is something in the house and that something is always watching.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Following Real Ghost Hunters

This Friday night I was lucky enough to follow a team of real ghost hunters.  I have played at ghost hunting.  I've done a few EVP sessions and walked around with my little gadgets, but after I spent a night with Southern Ghosts ( I realized that I was just playing.  The team I got to watch was lead by Steve and Angie who are known for their great blog  They are the Virginia chapter of Southern Ghosts.  Brett Burchfield from Georgia and Jeremy Morgan were also present during the investigations.

The first thing this team did when they got started at the South Pittsburgh hospital was set up camera's in all the major halls of the hospital with infrared.   They set up the cameras and connected them to the DVRs.  The sheer volume of equipment along made me feel overwhelmed.  Clearly, this was a very serious team.  They then proceeded to explain to all of us non ghost hunter types what we would be doing and we set up a game plan.  The team started in an old waiting room that had been decorated with antique medical equipment and set up for ghost hunters.   Vines crawled in from the outer courtyard through the windows so that nature itself seemed to be reaching into the room and retaking it.   The team started with the first of many EVP sessions in which team members asked questions and waited for several minutes and then asked another question.  This requires a lot of patience, which is something ghost hunters clearly possess in great quantities.

The team then split up and went to the third floor of the hospital.  Trigger objects had been laid around the hospital.  These were balls, boots, or bikes etc.  that had been laid in different locations that had been noted so that if they moved the team could see that something had happened.  They could then check video footage to see what, specifically had happened later.  When we went to the third floor, we noticed one of the trigger objects had moved.   Two members of the group went to the psychiatric ward and continued with what was a very successful EVP session and the rest of us went to surgery to do some psychic experiments.  These were interesting as well and were designed to draw the paranormal energy in the room to one person so they could describe the energy in the room.

The group was very methodical and hours were spent progressing through the hospital doing various EVP sessions.  The most interesting EVP session to me was done in the basement in a room filled with old church pews.   Team leader Steve noticed the ghosts were making the KP meters light up at different times throughout the room as questions were asked and he started asking the ghosts to answer questions by making the meters light up green or red.  This seemed to actually work and a partial dialogue was established using this method.

I was unable to keep up with the ghost hunting team, however, and by 3am I had to leave.  My eyes were drifting shut and I don't drink caffeine so I had to leave, proving once and for all that I don't have the stamina to keep up with the real ghost hunters.  They tell me that after I left they got some very interesting data, however.  I can't wait to hear more, but little Jessica went to her hotel and slept because as interesting as ghosts are,  my PJ's are bed are much more interesting at 3am.   What did I learn from following real ghost hunters?  I learned  that they are some of the most patient people I've ever met.  Not only did they have patience the night of the ghost hunt, but they have to have continued patience as they review hours and hours of video footage and listen to hours upon hours of EVP sessions.   I take my hat off to these ghost hunters, because the reality is,  it isn't the adventure you see on TV.  It is patience and persistence and determination that made this team work.  I'm not sure I have any of those qualities but it sure was nice watching others with it for the night.

You can follow the folks I ghost hunted with on twitter at @GhostEyes_Steve, @GhostEyes_Angie, @RCP_GatorFan .  I know I'll be following them closely waiting for the results from this trip.   I'll also be watching because Courtney Mroch has a sensitive eye and she might have seen a lot I missed on this trip.