Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Today's the Day!

It's Halloween! Get your ghoul on!

Have a safe and happy Halloween everyone!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

In the Washington Times

Hey, we're in the Washington Times today!

Those types of articles are always so much fun to do.

Pry House Field Hospital Museum

Last night we investigated the Pry House Field Hospital Museum. On the grounds of the Antietam National Battlefield and operated by the National Park Service, we had the privilege of being able to investigate it as part of an annual event with WFRE radio. I'll just say that one of the radio staff truly got a taste of what rookie "step duty" is really like, lol. Thanks man, you were a trooper.

The Pry House, built in 1844 by Philip Pry, is a brick Federal-style house that sits on a hill overlooking the fields below. It was used by Gen. McClellan as his headquarters during the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862, the bloodiest day of the Civil War with over 20,000 casualties and injuries. Many of those injured soldiers were brought to the Pry barn, which was used as a field hospital until that December. Maj. Gen. Israel Richardson was mortally injured by a ball from a spherical case that struck him in his side. He died at the House on Nov. 3. It changed hands only about 2 times before being acquired by the NPS in 1974. The house was damaged by a fire in 1976 and restored to its 1862 layout and appearance.

Sightings associated with the house have been mostly the apparition of a woman in 19th c. clothing--seen by firefighters, and workers. The legend has always wondered if it was Mrs. Richardson, who tended to her dying husband, but the museum director's son saw her once and described it as looking like the woman in the picture downstairs--Mrs. Pry.

I can tell you one thing though...I have never been at a location that made me feel as off-balance, out of breath, woozy, and dizzy as that one. I usually get "symptoms" at haunted locations, such as lightheadedness and that stuffy, "thick" feeling. I felt "off" the whole time and didn't feel okay again until after we left.

The Pry House is a fantastic museum to find out more about Civil War field hospitals. I was in the dark reading the displays with my flashlight and they were pretty fascinating. Medical care concepts we're familiar with now such as triage came about as a result of the Civil War.

When working at historic sites, you have to be very careful of the objects within, as many are priceless, and know what can/can not be photographed (artifacts, office equipment...). You also have to respect any restrictions, such as no-go areas, and the location itself--as you do not want to damage it in any way. Historical site cases are always such an honor to be able to do, and for a history-lover like me? Pure bliss.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

History Reports

One of the things that I do before I go on investigation is prepare a history report. It's literally the history of the location with any supporting info about it. I also write any questions that I have that the information has made me ask. Those questions are the things that I try to figure out or ask the owners/caretakers while there. At the last one, a historical society rep was there, which was fantastic. Not only was she able to answer all of my questions, but was able to provide me with other info as well.

I also document the legends or hauntings associated with the house as well. Once again, separating fact from fiction. You'll find that you can debunk a legend sheerly upon the impossibility of it historically.

I think that I'm also going to start a construction era-specific checklist of things to look for in particular-style buildings (Italianate, Georgian, Victorian, etc.), since the other thing that I do while there is to check out the walls, floors and the way the house was built/renovated. It might make my life a little easier. Construction tells a lot--as in , was it slave-built? Were there original features such as ovens or coal hatches that are no longer there? It's like having a piece of a much bigger puzzle.

Friday, October 27, 2006

THAT Holiday

Oh yeah, it's coming!

For a ghosthunter, Halloween marks the time of year when everyone has spooks and haunts on the brain. I enjoy it because it means that the networks trot out their best (and not-so-best) paranormal documentaries and shows. I love "A Haunting...", for instance. Any of those "haunted places"-style roundups? I'm there parked in front of the TV in a cushy chair. If you've read my earlier postings, you already know what I really think about the average "Hollywood-ized" paranormal show (don't get me started on "Ghost Whisperer"), but the documentary, real ones? Love 'em!

Sure, I have a preference for the more true events ones, but I understand the pure entertainment value of others. What are your favorite ghost and hauntings shows?

Tomorrow the group's doing a local radio show and they're tracking us live during an investigation. I'll let you know how that goes!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


I recently got a response back about the Waldorf investigation in my comments section about it. Look, I wasn't there that day (on the 3rd investigation), so perhaps there really was a misunderstanding on someone's part. If so, to be truly fair, I think both sides of this story should be heard and I hope they'll read this again to know that it was:

"I know the incident being referred to. It involves a light bulb box being moved to a room with a black light. To be fair, I never claimed that the ghost moved ANYTHING. I asked who moved it and how it got there. That night, during the investigation, I walked through the kitchen and threw out a sandwich bag when I saw the box that had been moved. I picked it up and then dropped it back on the couch. I was being watched by and was speaking to one of your staff the whole time. And F. was like 6 feet behind me. Faking something would have been near impossible and would have just made me an a** and been a waste of your time. We still have things happening here on a regular basis and are VERY thankful to A. and crew for setting our minds at ease. I just wish you all had talked about this with us up front. We both feel very bad and a bit awkward that you guys think we are flakes."

There's always another viewpoint and I thought their side should be told. Thanks to them for sharing it.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Leesburg Questions Answered

I can now answer my questions from my earlier post about Glenfiddich:
  1. What's the timeline of ownership? Harrison>Owner X>LeHaye>Miles (current owner)
  2. We will be there during the anniversary of this alleged ghost's death. Will something happen? It did.
  3. Is there more than one? We don't believe so and the haunting's consistent.
  4. The young woman whose diary was found, how does she fit into everything? Virginia "Jenny" Miller was a houseguest of the Harrison's and was fond of Col. Burt, who was a guest of the Harrison's as well. She kept him company after he was brought back injured.
  5. The footsteps are regularly heard on Sundays. What's the significance? Actually, it doesn't match either the Battle or his death date as the 21st (in 1861) was a Saturday and the 24th, a Tuesday.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Back to Leesburg

We made it back to Leesburg and the Glenfiddich House. Privately owned, the main portion of the Glenfiddich House was built in 1840 (it is attached to its original log cabin built around 1783) by Henry T. Harrison. Gen. Lee stayed there in 1862 as he recuperated from a wrist injury and it was the site of his war council while en route to Antietam. Thanks to the Historical Society of Loudoun County and Glenfiddich's owners, we were able to return on the 145th anniversary of the Battle of Ball's Bluff.

On 10/21/1861, the Battle of Leesburg/Battle of Ball's Bluff was fought and the commander of the 18th Mississippi Regiment, Col. Erasmus R. Burt, was shot in the right thigh and mortally wounded. Brought to Glenfiddich (then called Harrison Hall), he was laid in the foyer before being taken to an upstairs bedroom where he died 3 days later. His ghost has been seen and experienced by both the owners and their employees (the main building is used as an office).

Col. Burt has been heard regularly walking in the parlor on Sundays, cold rushes of air have been felt, sounds of the back door slamming although it has been locked, pacing in the hallway and even his apparition in the foyer have occurred. The owner and the employees have become used to him and coexist well with him, treating him as a protector of the house.

We had a full team this time and ran video, EVP, and took photos. We also tried a biofeedback experiment. That was interesting. We staked out the room Burt was brought into (and where a body impression's regularly seen on the bed) and I got comfortable in a chair. Let's just say that I was calm, but the feedback machine said otherwise and it would also spike when the UV flashlight was used on me. Go fig. The purpose of that experiment is to see if a person if possibly physically affected by a spirit's presence. Something new. We tinker sometimes. Experimenting is a good thing.

The most interesting was in the basement. It had a thick feeling, but that could've been due to the damp, mustiness of it. We noticed the floor had been redone. Turns out it was the former well/cistern. Duh. Of course! That's usually one of the first things I look for. In the back office, I stepped towards the center and my whole head tightened up and I swear, my ears started ringing and aching. When I left out of the office I was fine. We ran EVP later on in it and immediately after Al asked the spirit if it was comfortable having us there, upon playback everyone in the room clearly heard a voice say "NO." That was enough for us and a DCMAG first. After hearing that, we thought it was time to wrap up, LOL. No need to tell us twice, LOL. We spoke to the owner more about her experiences and packed up.

Having a historical society official on hand, many of my historical questions were answered. I still have some though:
  1. The footsteps are regularly heard on Sundays. What's the significance?
  2. Why is the Lynch House across the street so very haunted too?
Glenfiddich is privately-owned, but the public can visit many of Leesburg's haunted sites on the guided ghost tour, which is considered one of the best in the area.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Of Suites and Inns: Fairfax

Last night I was in Fairfax County. A contact of ours was staying at the beautiful Bailiwick Inn and invited us to come do an informal investigation. An informal for us is EVP and photos--very, very minimal. I'd even say it was a very informal investigation. Only 3 of us--not a full team--the contact, and another guest. You know how I feel about extras being there and this was no different--especially since the guest couldn't take it and whined and fretted and was scared of the dark. She asked me, "How can you take it (the dark)?" "You get used to it," I answered. This is why we don't like having extra tag-a-longs.

DCMAG has visited Bailiwick before years ago and you can read about it here. Built between 1800-1812, it was the residence of the Gunnell and Oliver families and in a key location during the Civil War--being across from the Fairfax Court House. The first Confederate casualty took place on its lawn. Our contact was staying in the gorgeous Antonia Ford suite on the top level. That wing of the house is older and many staff members have reported experiences there. The Ford suite is where medical instruments were found and it is believed that soldiers were treated there, including amputations.

It felt "thick" when I first went in, but that was the only time. Our EVP turned up nothing. Without further instruments or incidents, there was no way to tell anything more.

Just to show you how I'm more scared of the living, Al (our group leader) and I were going to the car and these very drunk guys were near the back of the lot. They noticed us and started yelling obscenities and approaching us. Al and I jumped into that car so fast that you wouldn't believe it. We didn't want to stick around long enough for them to get close!

Monday, October 16, 2006


Right now we are working on cases around Loudoun County in Virginia. We're about to go back to a previous investigation that we had to cut short as Al sadly found out a 1/2 hour into it that his dad passed away.

This privately-owned house is a gorgeous, antebellum Italianate-style house with quite a history. I'll tell you more about it after we re-investigate. Questions I have right now are:
  1. What's the timeline of ownership?
  2. We will be there during the anniversary of this alleged ghost's death. Will something happen?
  3. Is there more than one?
  4. The girl whose diary was found, how does she fit into everything?
I'm sure I'll have more questions after my return.

Monday, October 09, 2006


Here's a group shot of all of us at DCMAG. Lew and Mike are missing. That's me stooping and holding a picture of Barry.

Left to right: Frank, Jonathan, Me (and Barry) Michael, and Al.