An Historical Haunting

Cemeteries are interesting places. They all have an history to relate, but do it in different ways.  Some are beautiful, garden-like areas, some are plain and barren.  Some feel serene and others are a bit spooky.  Age doesn’t seem to matter as much as the pasts of those that now reside inside the spot.  Not all the residents are a peace and some do not rest.  The Old Burying Ground in historic Deerfield Village dates back to colonial times.  It isn’t scary,  but it isn’t at rest, either.  Sometimes things happen to people that takes more than one span of life to get over.

Back in the late 1600’s, Deerfield Village stood as a British settlement on their most northern frontier in Massachusetts.  It was home to about 200 +/- people who settled in the fertile land between the Connecticut and Deerfield rivers. Deerfield Village was incorporated in 1677. The area was prone to Indian attacks…..or Native American attacks for those more politically correct…  but during the winter of 1703/1704 an offshoot of the French & Indian War – Queen Anne’s War – the colonial settlement was ravaged by invaders.  About a quarter of the villagers were brutally massacred including women and children.  112 people were captured, taken prisoner, and marched to Canada.  Many died along the way.  On their way out of town, the raiders burned the village.  Almost half the houses were left in ashes

This gruesome incident left the remaining 112 settlers to pick up the carnage and carry on with life as it now was.  The 56 dead were taken to the burying ground where they were interred into a common mass grave.  The mound sits to the left rear of the cemetery and is marked by a single stele on top of the rise.  Many years ago when we visited that spot a friend took a picture.  When it was developed it showed a grey mist resembling a woman standing at the bottom.  Nothing showed on the negative, but it was clear on the print.  Wish I knew what happened to that shot so I could share it.The small cemetery is located on Albany Road just off of Old Main Street in the town’s center. It’s a pretty spot and its age shows.

On a more recent visit we spent some time reading all the headstones and marveling at the many intricately designed markers which depict the funerary artwork of the day. If you stay awhile, walk around, and read the stones in stone, a lot can be learned about some of the inhabitants and their families that lie close.  You also get the feeling you aren’t alone.  Twigs crack as if someone was stepping on them.  Shadows move through the markers.  And, the place has an energy of its own.  It’s a palpable energy.  It tells its own story.  If you go, how did it make you feel?

 

–   ashanta

 

 

 

 

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A Haunted Museum – Wistariahurst

Wistariahurst Museum is the magnificent homestead of silk manufacturing mogul William Skinner. It is nestled in the southern Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts and houses a wealth of history. And – it’s haunted.

This 26-room historic mansion has been situated in Holyoke, MA since 1874 after being moved, piece by piece, from it’s original site in Williamsburg, MA. The Skinner’s lived there until 1959 when the youngest of their children, Katherine Skinner Kilbourne, deeded the homestead to the City of Holyoke for philanthropic purposes.

The first incarnation of the Skinner estate, “Wistariahurst” as it came to be known (and spelled in it’s German variation), sat across the street from the Skinner’s first three-storied brick manufacturing plant on the Mill River, which supplied its power. When the Mill River Dam broke in 1874 it brought death and financial ruin to mill workers and owners alike. William Skinner, finding himself in almost complete financial devastation and mill-less, accepted an offer from the Holyoke Water Power Company to move his silk business and family home to Holyoke. A deal too good to refuse, Skinner accepted and the house was moved from “Skinnerville” in Williamsburg to the city block it now occupies in Holyoke.

The house was built large after the fashion of any wealthy manufacturer of its time. It was made larger,and more magnificent by Ruth Isabel “Belle” Skinner, a spinster daughter of the silk industrialist. Money was no object and Belle didn’t mind spending it – especially if it made her look even better in the society to which she had become accustomed.

Many stories have been written about the family, the house, and their history. Nothing, yet, has been mentioned about the peculiar activities that happen on the premises when the visitors leave…and before they arrive.

Formerly, I worked as a volunteer for the museum and was responsible for preparing the house to open for visitors and closing it down when museum hours were over. I’ve been throughout the house on many occasions and have had a number of experiences that weren’t ordinary and cannot be easily explained.

I was on the second floor of the house one late afternoon turning off lights, closing displays, and getting ready to lock doors when there was the sound of a door banging loudly. Could it have been another volunteer or administrator coming in? I called out, “Hello! I’m closing up, up here. (Listening) Hello?.. (Listening. Walking toward the noise.) Hi, where are you?..” No reply. Nobody. No closed doors.

I found the other staff and volunteers downstairs and mentioned the noise. All present said they had heard it, but none knew where it came from.

Other things seen and unseen:

Moving shadows out the corner of one’s eye.

Plugs and extension cords thrown into the middle of hallways.

Footfalls.

Doors closing behind you when you enter a room.

A few of the former servant’s quarters have been closed to the public for one reason or another, but those are the places where a lot of the activity takes place. Perhaps that’s why they aren’t opened that frequently.

On another occasion I was on the second floor locking up one of the servant’s areas. There was always an uneasy feeling in these rooms, like you were never alone. I made sure everything was secure and locked the door. As I was walking down the hallway toward the back staircase when the space between the door and the jamb rattled violently and then slammed shut again. It had been closed when I left it moments before….

Sometimes I had to go to the third floor where the head housekeeper had her bedroom and office. Her name was Hulda and she was like a member of the Skinner family. You never feel alone on the third floor. There are footfalls that follow you and doors will close behind you – even when you don’t want them to.

While the servants quarters seem to be the most active areas of activity, some of the family members also still remain – at least during some parts of the year because you can hear them. And – sometimes see them.

I’ve seen Kittie, the youngest of the Skinner children, at the top of the wrap-around staircase from the main hall. She was elegant in her long, champagne silk gown starting her descent along the suspended stairs. When she got to the landing overlooking the great room she vanished. Her hair was swept up in a loose twist and she wore a string of pearls.

Although Wistariahurst now offers candlelight tours around Halloween time, their actors and effects cannot produce anything like the real thing!!! Seeing and hearing are believing. Artificial presentations don’t produce the same phenomena as the real thing does.

– ashanta

Ghosts

New England is a region rich with the lore and legend of our ancestors. All it takes is a peek beneath the surface of the thrifty, hardworking, and no-nonsense Yankee to see the superstition and wild imagination that, undoubtedly, has helped make our region so interesting and, occasionally, down right creepy.

 

Spiritualism, put simply, is the belief that the spirit continues to exist after physical death and that it can be scientifically studied through interaction with the spirit via seance, which is made possible through the use of a medium, or person who possesses the ability to contact and channel spirit energies. The purpose of this is to learn about the afterlife and the spirit world. There are still Spiritualist Churches in existence today including On-I-Set-Wigwam Spiritualist Camp in Onset, Massachusetts.(On the Cape near Wareham.) {Spiritualists believe in the Christian God and see the existence of the human soul as proof of passages in the bible}

 

The American Spiritualist Movement came into being in March 1848 in Hydesville, New York. The Fox family; John Fox, his wife, and their daughters Margaret and Katie moved to New York from Canada. They took temporary residence in a house that had been abandoned and was reported to be haunted. John Fox paid no heed to the rumors of strange activity and instead looked for physical answers to the thumps and knocks that their family was hearing. Every night he would go around the house and knock on walls and look for loose floor boards and other things that may be causing the noises. His daughters, however, had no problem believing that there was a spirit in the house and had even given him a nickname (Mr. Splitfoot).

 

One evening as their father was performing his checks Kate noticed that when her father would knock on a wall the knocks would be repeated back in the same number. This led to the invention of a system where a certain number of knocks would be “yes” and a different number would mean “no”. They also had different knocks for the letters in the alphabet. Using this system allowed the Fox sister’s to “communicate” with the spirit. Soon the neighbors of the Fox family were coming to see the girls use their mediumistic powers and question the spirits. By 1849 Margaret and Kate were performing all over New England to crowds of people both eager to see thier talents or to see evidence that the sisters were a sham.

 

Although the sisters did engage in some questionable lines of performance no one was ever able to prove that their abilities were fake despite being bound around the ankles and wrists and even submitting to having their underwear checked. In 1904, years after both the Fox sister’s were dead, some children were playing in the basement of their old Hydesville home when a wall collapsed nearly killing one child. When the structure was investigated it was found to be a poorly constructed false partition and upon it’s excavation the skeletal remains of a man were unearthed.

 

The Fox sisters really launched the American Spiritualist Movement. Soon after they began performing for the public all sorts of other people were discovering that they too had mediumistic powers. The idea that the soul could survive physical death appealed to a great many people. To truly understand the appeal and popularity of the Movement we must consider the social climate of Victorian times.

 

The Victorians held themselves to very strict codes of social conduct and dress. Women were considered to be fare, frail, and submissive to men. Men were the head of the household and expected to maintain their families respectability. Both men and women were expected to be extremely sexually prude. Not even written expressions of emotion or sexuality were considered permissible. To maintain this respectability Victorians even went to the extreme of not using any words with even a miniscule sexual connotation (“indelicate” words) or coming up with euphemisms for them. For example the word “leg” was replaced by “limb” as it was considered less offensive. Women’s and men’s lives were considered to be and expected to be maintained within different spheres.

 

It is during these times that great changes were occurring and competing with traditional Victorian vales. Evangelicalism was very popular as it emphasized moral conduct and humanitarian causes, but it was coexisting with utilitarianism- the belief in reason to solve problems, and empiricism – which aimed to have legislation to help improve men’s talents. It also promoted a series of reforms designed to improve the lives of the lower classes, such as free education, women’s emancipation, and the organization of trade unions. Scientific discovery, especially in geology and biology, was breaking new ground and scientific principals were gaining favoritism. Charles Darwin published his book On the Origin of Species in 1859. The Women’s Right and Suffregate Movements were gaining popularity. All these changes and expectations were churning up the lives of these people and then Spiritualism came along.

 

Spiritualism offered a compromise between religion and science, it offered the hope that familial ties could transcend death, it offered a place where rigid social conduct and expectations could be relaxed for an evening. Spiritualism quickly became popular among all the social classes, although most formal seances were conducted within the Middle and Upper Classes. These seances became social passtimes and a place where men and women could relax and let their separate social spheres mingle. It is also important to note that, although there were male mediums and mesmerists, the Spiritualist Movement was dominated by women.

 

– Moonchild

A Curiosity Uncovered

My interest in ghosts began when I was quite young and had started seeing apparitions. One early experience I had was at my grandparents home. I was approximately 5 years old and staying with them for the weekend. My grandmother and I were the only ones home at the time and what happened was that I was on the first floor walking from the dining room towards the kitchen and happened to look up the flight of stairs leading to the second floor bedrooms. As I was looking up a female figure came out from one bedroom and seemed to glide just above the floor and across the hall into one of the other rooms. She had a very calm demeanor, very peaceful, and this had the same effect on me while in her presence. Being a young child I assumed it was a living person that was there with us until I asked my grandmother about it and she assured me we were alone. I didn’t know what to think about this, but wouldn’t look up the stairs for a long time. This event happened during the day and was one of only a few ghostly encounters I’ve experienced during the daytime. I have had other experiences at my grandparents house as well. Not all involved ghosts, but other paranormal encounters as well.

I will write more about them and other locations soon.

-Bran

Didn’t Know Jack

Being only the second generation born in this country, most of my relatives live abroad. Some of them in the British Midlands where I think this occurred. I’ve heard about them, correspond with some of them, but most of them are names without faces that I will never meet in person.

Late one night, I don’t know if I was asleep, awake, or in a meditative state, but I suddenly found myself in the bedroom of a very ill man.  Had he been standing he would have been about six feet tall.  He had short grey hair and greenish-brown eyes.

His room was small, but certainly comfortably lived in.  Bureaus with needleworked runners supported photos, mementos, personal items, and other things important to their owner.  It seems there was a small fireplace on one side of the room, but it could have been another heating element of some sort.

The man was in bed.  A woman who was looking after him was in the room with us sitting next to the bed.  I think there was also another woman sitting in a small chair close to the corner of the room.

I wondered what I was doing there.  In a little bit, the man turned his head and looking at me said, “I’m your Uncle Jack.  I’ve just died.”  Uncle Jack was related through my grandfather in some way.

This experience was so vivid I felt that it should be shared with the rest my family.  My grandmother didn’t say much, but wrote down the date and time of this story.  Five or six days later she got a letter from abroad telling her of Uncle Jack’s death. It coincided with the time and date that my nana had written down.

A Walk to Remember

Back in the early 80’s, when I was a kid, we lived in an apartment complex in Clinton , CT.  It was a mostly residential area, but there was a small wooded area to the rear of the lot. I do not remember anything remarkable about the complex or it’s surroundings and I was not prone to straying too far from home.

One day I was asked to take our dog for a walk, so I put her on a leash and walked into the woods with her. It seemed like the natural place to let her do her business. It was during the afternoon and the sun filtered through the trees of this wooded area creating a mixture of light and shadows. The dog was enthusiastic and sniffing around profusely. As it was summer there was plenty of vegetation around for the dog to check out.

I remember that there was a grassy path through the trees. The grass was short, so it would seem it was maintained. As I walked with the dog the path kept dividing into intersections. Always cautious, I kept a mental tally of which paths we chose: right, right, left, right, left, etc. We had gotten far enough in that I was becoming wary of venturing any further with so many turns to remember to backtrack. As we walked just a bit more we came to a clearing. I was a bit startled and couldn’t imagine where we had gotten ourselves to. It was a grass covered oval shaped area with a large wooden structure in the middle of it that, to my interpretation, looked like a gallows.

Confused and lost, as I had no idea what we had walked into, I suddenly felt scared and wanted to get back home as quickly as possible. Here I entrusted our dog’s nose to help us find our way back through the twisty grass maze. She did not let us down and I was extremely relieved to walk back into the parking lot with her several minutes later. I told my mother about our adventure and asked if she was familiar with the trail, but she wasn’t. As far as I know it was an unrepeatable experience. I never found the trail again. It seemed that it had disappeared, if, indeed, it ever had really existed.

– Moonchild

Unidentified Flying Object and Missing Time

I don’t know what it was, but it was strange.

One spring night in the early 1960’s we were returning home from an evening of dance roller skating in Suffield, CT.  (Remember when they still used to dance on skates?)

We lived out in the sticks on a dirt road in the corner of Northampton, Easthampton, and Westhampton, MA.  It had been a warm evening and the moon was full.  The sky was clear and full of stars.

Halfway down the road, my mother, who was driving, said, “Oh my goodness!  What is that?”  and pointed to the sky.

There above the tree-line was a huge round something that was glowing in a swirl of white, grey, and purple.  I know the thing was much closer, but in relation to the full moon it looked to be three or four times its size.  It didn’t make any noise and it didn’t move.  It just stayed there and hung in the sky.

All of a sudden the wind came up and the trees were bending in the gusts that were blowing around us.  Even the dirt on the road was spiraling like small dust devils. Then some small trees that lined the lane blew down in front of the car.

We sat there looking first at each other then at the sky.  The thing was still there.  We wanted to leave and make it the next quarter of a mile to our house.  But, neither one of us wanted to get out of the car to move the downed trees out of the way.

Next I knew my mom opened the door and said, “I’ve got to go do it.” and went to the front of the car to start dragging the trees out of the way.  I couldn’t let her do it alone so got out too.

I don’t remember moving trees and  brush from in front of the car.  And I don’t remember getting back into the vehicle.  There is no memory for anything that may have happened during that time.

The last thing that I recall was being seated inside the car still looking at the sky and watching the thing take off – straight up and disappearing in seconds.

When we arrived home it was three hours later than we should have gotten there.

Strange Humming and Electrical Phenomena

Here are some more strange occurrences that I experienced at my grandparents home one summer.

When I was 9-10 years old I loved to explore in the woods. I never wandered too far from whomevers home I happened to be at, maybe 1/4 mile or so at the most. One day I became aware of this humming sound that increased the further from the house I got until a certain distance where it maintained the same level and vibration; it never varied in any way. I walked all over there at different times during the summer and It was the same thing in all directions.

One night that same summer my grandparents were watching tv and I was in bed. We all heard their car start. Now, my bedroom faced the driveway so it only took me a few seconds to get to the window and look down. No one was there and the yard was large and open, so there was no place to have hidden. My grandfather went out to the car and shut it off. The next day the adults were talking and I heard my grandfather say he had to put in his key, turn it to the on position, and then off again to shut the car off.

-Bran

***Editor’s Note: It is well known amongst those interested in UFO activity that the malfunction  and/or disruption of electrical systems is associated with close encounters i.e. cars stalling, lights flickering, electrical devices turning on or off. As these experiences occurred in a rural area, removed from inner city miscreants, high-tension power lines, and commercial electrical hubs, one might be inclined to consider the possibility of extra-terrestrial or other dimensional involvement in these experiences.

Some Thoughts on Energy and Perception

Perhaps nothing is paranormal  —  maybe it is just a manipulation of energy.   Our Universe and all the existence within it is vibration.  Energy is vibration and everything we experience as living beings happens within a Vibrational Matrix.

Whether it be an apparition, psychometry, clairaudience, automatic writing, ouija, ufo’s or any other type of psychic manifestation all is embedded within a web of oscillation emanating from the Universe around us.

This matrix and everything comprising it’s parts manifest an array that helps to complete the network of existence.  We experience life through our senses believing that what we see, hear, feel, smell, etc. are real and exist as we live them.  Yet, we see less than 1% of the electromagnetic field that surrounds us.  And, we hear less than 1% of the acoustic field that exists.  The understanding of our reality is badly hampered and distorted by those two factors alone.  Our other senses are defined to us by our brain which does not necessarily lead us to truth.

Our senses are censored by our brain.  It is a mechanical organ that demands we greet and comprehend things in a way that makes sense to it.  Our brains demand a physiological logic that does not elaborate on any other criteria except what it has been genetically wired to believe from our birth to our death.

Because our access to the full spectra of what the entirety of life offers us are mitigated, we do not experience the totality of what exists on a physical level.  That doesn’t mean we cannot or do not receive extra-sensory information through other means that some call the supernatural.  But it does insinuate that we do not usually make a connection between what could be called de ja vu, insight, premonition, and/or gut feeling.  All that exists leaves an imprint on us whether it’s an intelligence, an encounter with a past life or a residual energy that cannot get beyond the here and now.

Physical life is not alone in possessing energy.  Places and buildings also have and hold vibrational information.  And like people, it all depends on what happens how that ‘feeling’ will be perceived. We only have to remember that energy can neither be created nor destroyed.  There are some among us that feel this energy more than others do, however, all senses and experiences are intraconnected and can seep through to this plane of the so-called ‘living’ for those who are willing to feel, understand, and know that life of the past.

Does life exist beyond death?  Energy does!  Noises, smells, shadows, maybe even ufo’s all relate to a possible communication from a different plane. It is that dynamic that we experience as apparitions and other manifestations that signals an intelligence and continuance of energy/life that will not die.

-ashanta

Something’s Watching Me

This happened when I was 16 years old.

Living, as I did, in a small town in Western Massachusetts I had often seen more wildlife than people while out walking and so I felt comfortable being near wildlife. I used to walk to my girlfriends house most everyday and walked back home after dark, it was about 2 miles each way.  On my way home there were few street lights, maybe 3 near her house. It was beautiful when the stars were out, but on a dark night I could barely see the road under my feet. Well, anyway, there was an area about a 1/2 mile from my home and about 200 hundred feet long where I felt I was being closely watched and silently followed by something that wasn’t friendly. As I would go by I would feel the hairs on the back of my neck raise. I could feel this during the day too, but it was more intense at night. It was always in the same spot. This feeling always started and ended there. Eventually someone built a house off the road in that creepy feeling area. I noticed every so many years it would be up for sale. Was this the cause? I never asked any of the owners about their property or house, but I wish I had!

-Bran