Saturday, November 30, 2013

Confused Ghosts

Not all ghosts seem to realize they are dead. Several people have told me stories that indicate that the ghost they encountered didn’t know they were dead. In Corrales, a small village located in the north valley near Albuquerque this type of encounter has happened more than once.

One confused ghost that appears in Corrales is a Civil War soldier. A resident of this village told me that as he walked along the back fence of his property--he spotted a young man dressed in an old fashioned Civil War uniform come out of his neighbors old shed. This soldier then approached him.

This young man who appeared to be dazed asked the man, “Where am I?” The property owner then discovered this young man didn’t seem to know the date or even the year. At the time, he was dumbfounded and before he could offer his assistance this soldier just walked off and then disappeared.

Months later another one of his neighbors told him that he most likely encountered this same soldier who didn’t seem to know he was out of place and time. He then discovered his daughter had talked to this ghost as well. All three of these encounters happened in broad daylight.

Seeing a Civil War soldier was startling but not surprising to these two men because there were battles fought in Albuquerque and surrounding areas during this war.

This type of ghost encounter is frustrating to say the least. One has to wonder why this poor soul seemed to be stuck in a state of limbo. A similar story to these two encounters happened to two sisters when they went to visit their mother’s grave.

As they were leaving they noticed a man walking between the gravestones. When they reached the road where their car was parked the man caught up to them. The cemeteries’ groundskeeper drove past and waved to the two women. He didn’t seem to notice the man.

The man then turned to them and asked for help. He explained to them “people all day had been acting like they didn’t even see him.” He stated that he had woken up in the graveyard that morning and that his friend must have left him there.

The man became more and more agitated as he talked to the two sisters. Now nervous, they moved quickly toward their car. They both looked back briefly and were stunned to see the man was nowhere in sight. Now scared, they wondered how he could just disappear so quickly in such a large open space.

As they drove off they both realized they had just seen a ghost. To this day they still wonder about his confusion.

The Nevada Exchange Hotel

Nevada City, California first became a town during the Gold Rush years. The first “easterners” to come to the area built a cabin along Deer Creek and staked a claim in 1849 just a year after the find at nearby Sutter’s Mill, which started the California Gold Rush. The town’s first name was Deer Creek Diggins.

The fast-growing town then was known as Caldwell’s Upper Store after the man who opened the town’s first general store. By 1850 it was decided that the town needed an official name. The name “Nevada” was chosen--Nevada is Spanish for snow-covered--because it had been a particularly snowy winter.

Through the 1850s and 60s Nevada grew in prominence. It became a county seat in 1851 for the new state of California. At its peak Nevada had 10,000 residents. But unlike most boom mining towns Nevada stayed lawful, in part because of the town’s leadership. *

The town went through one more name change in 1864. The western part of Utah Territory was formed into the new state of Nevada. So the word “city” was added in order to distinguish between the two.

Nevada City Mine 1866

At one time, the stamp mills that surrounded Green Valley and Nevada City crushed ore from the underground mines 24/7 in search of gold. The last mines in the area were closed in the 1950s.

Ophir Quartz Mill 1866
Grass Valley

The town’s first hotel, saloon, stagecoach stop, and mail center was known as Bicknell’s Block. The original building burnt down but it was rebuilt. This building eventually became the Nevada Exchange Hotel. In 1977, this hotel was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and is considered the oldest continuously operated hotel west of the Rockies.

In 1985 the entire downtown area of Nevada City was registered as a national historic landmark. This small town’s charm and beauty makes it a tourist attraction today. It has many buildings that reflect Victorian, Colonial, Greek Revival and California Gothic architecture.

One attraction for ghost hunters is the National "Exchange" Hotel, just like the town this hotel has an interesting history. This has resulted in it being haunted.

One female ghost that is seen in the hotel’s bar area and restroom was murdered in the hotel. It seems she owed a man some money--unfortunately for her she refused to pay him. One night he broke into Room 48 and hid in the closet. When the lady returned he slit her throat. She haunts this room as well.

Known as just "National Hotel" today.

Another ghost seen at the National is that of a little girl named Elizabeth, it is stated she died of a childhood illness--most likely mumps while staying in a room on the third floor. Many guests at the hotel have felt her presence in Room 78. Strange knocking noises are heard in this room. Elizabeth is seen playing in the 3rd floor hallways. She is seen riding a tricycle and skipping rope.

Yet another ghost seen at the National is that of a man. He is described a wearing black pants, a white shirt and a black vest. He is seen walking up an interior staircase. Witnesses who have followed him state they saw his profile clearly but then he just vanished.

* This was also in part due to a caste system that was put in place. The town’s working miners lived in Grass Valley nearby while the prosperous mine owners lived in Nevada City.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Survival Tips When Ghost Hunting

People I have ghost hunted with over the years sometimes have had a physical reaction during an investigation. Some investigators are more sensitive to negative energy than others. Investigators react in a variety of different ways when they encounter this dark energy.

Personally, I know when this type of energy is around because I feel a strong vibration at the back of my skull--this vibration often then travels to my neck making it almost stiff.

Other common reactions that occur include:

Losing focus--becoming disoriented or in a more mild form just becoming distracted.

Feelings of light-headedness or even becoming dizzy--I have been around a few investigators that have even fainted.

A very common reaction is becoming nauseated. I have observed many people literally having to leave a building or space because of this reaction.

As I mentioned above I first feel negative or dark energy on my skull. Many investigators have complained of a feeling of strong pressure on their heads.

Another common reaction is a feeling or sense of oppression or negativity that takes over the investigator’s emotions.

The reactions listed above occur without explainable causes. These reactions are not unique to female investigators--I have seen many males react in the same way.

During investigations a person never knows what they may encounter--this holds true even in places that they have investigated in the past. This uncertainty is one reason experienced investigators emphasize that fact that people should not ghost hunt if:

They have been drinking.

They have a negative attitude.

Or they are not feeling well…

These factors make an investigator more venerable to a negative energy being able to impact them.

Even if an investigator is healthy, alert and positive and ready to investigate there still are a few more steps that can be taken for protection.

Michelle Belanger’s book, The Ghost Hunters Survival Guide: Protection Techniques for Encounters With The Paranormal is a good place to start. Belanger shares how to use “grounding” and “centering” exercises that investigators can do to feel better or protect themselves from future negative physical reactions while investigating.

Her book covers these two methods in detail so I recommend people read it. For this post I will just briefly cover these methods.

Grounding involves shedding unwanted energy.

Centering is when a person protects his or her own energy from “spilling out” where it then can be impacted by negative energy.

Belanger recommends after an investigation people should:

Take a cleansing bath or shower to flush out any negative energy they might have picked up.

Call on a “higher power” to assist and guide them through a cleansing process. This can be based in religious beliefs or not.

Seek a renewed sense of balance and peace within. One method I use is meditation.

Before an investigation, a person can use a variety of methods to arm and protect themselves from negative physical reactions. In other posts I have addressed several possibilities: using White Light Protection, or saying a group pray before and after an investigation.

According to Belanger people can build up resistance to negative energy over a period of time. I have found this to be true.

Belanger recommends:

Set up mental barriers to shield yourself.

People can do this by using “guided visualizations” were they focus upon a barrier that doesn’t allow any negative energy to enter their personal space. This is what White Light Protection essentially does.

If this is too abstract think of this method as--a wall of bricks, or light or a force field that can be buillt around yourself to keep negative energy from entering your personal space.

These exercises should be used with milder reactions--if the investigator experiences disorientation or becomes physically ill fellow investigators should remove them immediately from the environment. This is why people should always ghost hunt with others present. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Ghost of Annie Russell

Annie Russell was born in Liverpool, England in 1864. Her family then moved to Canada when Annie was a child. She first appeared on stage at the age of 8 in a Montreal Academy of Music production. By 1881, at age 17 she was the lead actress in a very successful production of Esmeralda on the New York stage.

By the late 19th century her career had taken off. Russell performed in over 60 productions on Broadway and London’s West End. But she was plagued by illness throughout most of her adult life so her career had many gaps.

In 1905, she originated the title role in George Bernard Shaw’s play Major Barbara in London. In 1908, she appeared with Robert Drovet in The Stronger Sex. In 1910, she appeared in Twelfth Night. Just to name a few.

Annie reluctantly retired in 1928 and moved to Winter Gardens, Florida.

A friend encouraged her to teach at the Rollins College. In 1932, at the age of 67 she was invited to star in this colleges first theatre production--Robert Browning’s’ In A Balcony. Russell then formed two theatre companies on campus and spent the next four years acting in and directing several plays.

The Rollins College Mediterranean-style theatre is named after Annie Russell. It has been over 70 years since she died in 1936 but many feel she haunts this theatre. College alumni, students and faculty all have encountered her ghost.

It seems she still takes an active interest in the productions that are performed. She is even known to “mother” and encourage young aspiring actors that perform at the theatre.

One example of her friendly presence occurred in 1978. Late one night a young actress curled up on the theatre’s green room sofa and fell asleep. She awakened the next morning to find a blanket had been tucked around her. A chair had also been placed against the sofa as a barrier so she wouldn’t roll off the couch. The night before this chair had been across the room.

When this actress inquired who had tucked her in she discovered that she was the only one in the theatre. Many feel this was the kind handiwork of Annie.

Over the years witnesses have seen and heard Russell’s ghost. She is seen wearing a Victorian floor length lavender gown. Two theatre majors encountered her separately but on the same evening. The first student saw an old lady in a lavender gown walk by her in a corridor outside the main theatre. Wandering at her strange clothes and thinking the lady was lost she asked if she could help. Russell did not respond but just stared at her.

Later another student was painting stage scenery when she looked up at the balcony. She saw the same old lady wearing lavender staring down at her. No one else saw this oddly dressed lady even though many people were in the theatre that evening.

Annie in 1931
Annie often gives young actors encouragement. Many have stated that after they performed they felt a light pat of approval from an unseen hand on their back. One young actress that was rehearsing on stage alone heard one person clapping after she finished her scene. She was surprised because she thought she was the only one in the theatre. She leaped off the stage and searched but discovered she was indeed alone.

It is believed Russell watches many of the productions performed at the theatre. She even has a favorite seat. It is located in the third row of the balcony. The bottom of this seat is often seen down when no one is sitting in it. One professor at the college told a newspaper reporter that his dog went to Russell’s seat in the balcony and sat near it looking up expectantly.

One stagehand states that Annie saved his life. He was standing on a tall ladder adjusting a stage light when he felt something tug at his pants leg. Seeing no one he ignored it. Again he felt a tug. Thinking he was imagining it he moved up a rung. His hand then touched a live wire and he fell.

One of his co-workers rushed to call an ambulance. But when he made the call he was informed that someone else had already called. The emergency crew got to the theatre within minutes of the accident. Because of this they were able to save the man’s life. Many feel that Annie made the initial call frustrated the man was ignoring her warning.

Russell often shows her approval or disapproval of productions being performed. There is a door 15 feet up on the back wall of the stage. People state this was Annie’s old dressing room. This door is kept closed--and today there is not an easy access to this area but during performances it is often seen open. One theatre professor helping to move a prop backstage during one performance spotted this door open and heard the sound of a xylophone being played.

Picture taken during investigation.
Peace River Ghost Tracker
Russell is known to move a rocking chair in a corner dressing room and make thud noises when she approves. She is also known to smash or break stage props when she doesn’t approve.

One classic superstition that surrounds Annie’s ghost is that if she makes an appearance early Wednesday morning--between midnight and one-- before a new play, musical etc. opens it means the production will be a great success. But if she doesn’t appear it means the performance will fail and even worse something bad will happen to the actors involved.