It will take us a while to go through our recordings to see if we have anything noteworthy that could perhaps convince a skeptic to be open to the possibility of a realm beyond. In the meantime, I am jotting down some of our experiences on the ride home and the following day while they are still fresh.
For those of you just stumbling across this missive with no background or context, I’ll bring you up to speed with a little history of how our family ever wound up thinking this would be one of our favorite ways to spend quality time together. When shows like Paranormal State, Ghost Hunters, and Ghost Adventures came on the scene, I became, let’s say…more than a little obsessed. From the comfort of my couch it seemed fun and exciting. My husband assured me I was one of the suckers P.T. Barnum had spoken about. His engineer’s mind couldn’t fathom any of this being more than produced entertainment, and he conjured all manners of string and pulley contraptions that could pull off the scares the girls and I got each week.
Feeling the gauntlet had been thrown down, my eldest booked us on a tour with a paranormal group of what was then Windsor Elementary School in Cincinnati. They provided us with various gadgets akin to what we’d seen on TV. Boxes with lights that would measure electromagnetic frequencies which they assured us was our sign that a ghost was present….or an electrical outlet, or a working refrigerator, or a lot of things. I became disheartened, while John became increasingly chuffed with himself for being right all along.
That was until we used a device called a spirit box in the school’s gymnasium. Basically it’s a radio that rapidly scans through stations creating “white noise” that the spirits can use to speak through. This is where my smile started to grow because Rube Goldberg Jr. couldn’t come up with a way that the voice we were getting over multiple channels was answering direct questions we asked. Mr. Skeptic, while still yet to have had his “Road to Damascus” moment, was opening his mind to the possibilities of things beyond this plane of existence.
And so began our love affair with ghost hunting. With our youngest away at college, it was most often John, me, our eldest daughter and her then fiance, now husband. We stuck with group tours until we had a large enough knowledge base to go out on our own. Christmas and birthday gifts began to consist of detection devices, recording equipment, and a spirit box. We began renting out purportedly haunted places and using those as our mini vacations.
With the arrival of our youngest grandson, and John’s multiple spinal surgeries, our hobby got back-burnered and we loaned out our equipment far more than we used it. That is until this past weekend. The girls had gone together and rented the Bellaire house for us for a night as a Christmas gift. Having seen it featured on Most Haunted and Paranormal Lockdown, it’s an understatement to say we were psyched. Being located on a ley line, near an old Native American burial ground and right off the bank of the Ohio made it seem like it was a recipe for all of the activity we could handle, and maybe more.
Even though his skepticism has waned by virtue of his personal experiences, John has always been correct in his assessment that real life ghost investigations are nothing like what you see on TV. For one, they are edited for time, so you never see the long lulls where no activity occurs. If they have an investigation that’s a total dud, it likely will never even air. Another huge difference is that there is no production budget and no show runners to help out when things go wrong.
Take this weekend for instance. John and I were awake into the wee hours the night before charging devices and putting fresh batteries in the ones that aren’t rechargeable. We also brought along back up batteries and charging cords, since we’ve repeatedly experienced our batteries being drained during an investigation. (In the paranormal community this phenomenon is attributed to the spirits drawing on that energy to communicate.) Only one of our devices uses a 9 volt battery, so we brought 4 replacements just in case. Within the first two hours all four as well as the fifth one we put in the night previous had been drained rendering our SB-11 spirit box useless. With no interns to make a battery run, we we forced to stop and make the run ourselves.
The other challenge we faced was equipment malfunctions. Our infrared camera repeatedly shut down inexplicably and refused to record any potential activity being captured. Without a van full of gadgets and gizmos, we were left to wonder whether it was a glitch in our device or spirits playing tricks. (For the record, when we got home, the camera worked perfectly, so take that however you’d like.) We were lucky that our audio devices seem to have worked properly, but again with no staff to help us go through it all, it will take hours. If we get anything exciting, I’ll be sure to share.
One thing we’ve learned through our years of investigating is that while electronic gadgets are fun and make for good television, they are not the only forms of communicating. While we were investigating with a group at Ohio State Reformatory one of our guides introduced us to the use of dowsing rods and pendulums. These simple apparatuses allow for communication via Yes/No questions and have saved us more than once from having a hunt that’s a total bust. It’s not an experience you can carry home and share with your friends, but trust me, while it’s happening in the moment it is cool as heck.
We had great luck communicating with a child known to occupy one of the bedrooms on the second floor. We sang children’s songs and recited nursery rhymes. As we did the rods would sway back and forth to the rhythm, or as it was during a rousing rendition of Ring Around the Rosie…spin wildly in full circles in our hands. The joy in the room was palpable as we got to experience the connection and the entity had a chance to play.
Not all experiences are pleasant though, and amateur investigators should know the risks. In the owner’s former bedroom both of my daughters and I experienced splitting headaches and that pit-in-your-stomach feeling upon entering. We tried to push through the discomfort several times, but found it difficult to stay in there longer than a few minutes.
After hours of investigating late into the night, we decided we should all get some rest in the few rooms that felt were the least threatening. What resulted was a scant three hours of sleep and several personal experiences. Our youngest had vivid dreams the details of which I’ll leave to her to share if she ever feels comfortable doing so. I had something playing with my hair, but that’s happened to me several times in the past, so it didn’t disturb me too much. My eldest daughter, however, had the most frightening experience of being held down by an unknown force. By her account she was unable to move until she called out my name and I shot upright in bed without even knowing what woke me. It was only at that point that she was able to sit up in the bed.
She was overheated and sweating,while John and I were convulsing in chills even though we were only feet apart from each other in the same room. What made that all the stranger to us is that she’s always cold and bundling up in blankets, while I’m always too warm, partially due to what I call self-insulation or extra padding. We decided to try and sleep downstairs instead, but the activity was so adrenaline-inducing, that only John managed to muster a little more sleep.
My eldest daughter and I chose to stave off our fears with the treasure trove of donuts she’d brought and got back to seeking more evidence while we waited for everyone else to wake up. Through the dowsing rods and the K2 meter we “yes and no’d” our way through confirmation of our experiences not being figments of our imaginations. Someone or something was taking credit and seemed pretty proud of their accomplishments.
Once everyone was awake we realized that the whole night had drained all of us physically. With a three-plus hour drive home still ahead of us, we wrapped. We collected our gear (some of which had been mysteriously moved into drawers or under furniture and wiped down all of the surfaces we had touched because in the non-sprit realm, Covid is a real life foe to battle.
All-in-all it was another fun and exciting adventure to add to our many others. For those interested in a place to investigate, we’d all highly recommend The Bellaire House. It didn’t disappoint. I would add that it’s probably not the best place to go for a first time investigation. It seemed less willing to interact with the more skeptical members of our small group of five. It was the first ghost hunt for our youngest daughter’s beau and he left with the fewest personal experiences. Whether it was his lack of familiarity with the process or the possibility that he’s saner than the rest if us is a decision for you to make. However, if you go in with an open mind…the possibilities are endless to experience all that the house holds.