The query “Is the house haunted?” suddenly occurs to many visitors taking our tours in October. School children often bring up the subject first, but I also see the chaperone’s ears perk up waiting for an answer. Normally, I will simply say no. But if I am in an entertaining mood and with the right audience, I will give them the deadpan (excuse the pun) answer of not yet or even better, “We are still waiting for that position to be filled.”
Is Bartow-Pell haunted? My immediate answer is no, certainly not in the scary movie way. We will never be on any ghost program, nor will we ever be one of America’s most haunted, of that I am sure. But I have to admit that I am curious and, well, there have been incidents that would make anyone pause. Shutters you know were closed are mysteriously found open, for example. I think that would be enough for some to say, “Well, maybe.”
That is why, when given the opportunity, I jumped at the chance to work with paranormal investigator Dan Sturges. I had met Dan at a previous investigation of the mansion, and I must say that it was one of the most entertaining evenings I have spent at the museum.
So this past September, on two separate occasions, I joined Dan and several other Bartow-Pell staff members on an investigation of the house. Using EMF sensors and EVP voice recorders, we set out on what one staff member referred to as a “ghost hunt.”
On the first night, we used both devices to record any changes in the rooms and any sounds that we would not be able to hear with our ears. With the recording devices in hand, we were asked to pose questions to the “ghosts.” “What do you ask a ghost?” seems rather silly. But the answer might surprise you. Dan, who has had some success in this field, said that you typically start by asking questions on subjects not normally brought up in polite conversation, like religion and politics. Why? Because Dan said that just like today, these hot-button topics interested people in earlier times, too. Controversy can spark conversation. On the second investigation, Dan brought a psychic with him. While I did not go around the house with Cathy, I was told that her intriguing information raised some eyebrows and might result in a little research. Among her revelations was that there may have been some distinct family interest in the Civil War.
What else did we discover? Well, like us, you will just have to wait and see on October 29 when Dan returns to Bartow- Pell to reveal his findings to the public. I am getting chills just thinking about it.
Amanda Kraemer, Education Assistant